Deadly Surprises

On the morning of May 9, 1864, Union General John…

On the morning of May 9, 1864, Union General John Sedgwick was in command of troops advancing against Rebel positions in the Battle for Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia. A dashing figure popular with his men and officers, Sedgwick was in the process of mending his lines so his artillery would have better lanes of fire. When bullets began to whine about, some of the men began to duck and take cover. Sedgwick is said to have shouted, smiling, “I am ashamed of you. They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” In the next moment, the smile was still on Sedgwick’s face as he fell at the impact of a bullet under his left eye. He died where he fell, a Rebel sniper’s prime target.

Unfortunately for General Sedgwick, he had ignored unshakeable tenants of engagement that were as solid back in 1864 as they still are today: “Never underestimate the enemy and always be prepared for them to do the exact opposite of what you think they will do. Whether that battlefield is in Baghdad or Chicago and the enemy is Taliban or MS-13, the same rules apply: Always be prepared…If you can picture it happening, it is possible that it will.”

Those words of wisdom come not from military textbooks but from the pages of this issue’s TW—the article “The Sniper Psyche,” by Jon Weiler. The article is one of many in this issue that urge our readers—men and women on duty—to be flexible and aware of changing weapons and tactics that make every encounter unique. As Weiler points out, the training needed to achieve the ultimate levels of flexibility and readiness is based on working with multiple scenarios—challenging, realistic situations demanding sound judgment and precise actions.

This issue is also packed with presentations of new weapons with decisive capabilities, including SureFire’s suppressors that give rifles and high-volume weapons stealth-like firepower; the “Rolling Bunkers” that protect troops and weapons from mines and ambushes; Trijicon’s ACOG, the quintessential combat sight, plus Gunsite’s wring-outs of deadly-force sight systems from Laser Grips and XS Sights; the amazing “robot Marine,” the Dragon Runner IED Buster; reports on weapons that shoot around corners (don’t shake your head, they’re really here); and the gunshot detection systems that are shooting back in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Moving from new gear to more-personal subjects, we have “Gunny” on board, as usual, with some straight-talk, politically incorrect words on such subjects as why our “mean streets” are going to get meaner. Professionals on duty everywhere will appreciate the new C.O.P.P. techniques for keeping total control of their patrol rifle during close-quarters gun fights, plus no-nonsense advice on avoiding hypothermia and saving the lives of victims who didn’t listen or notice the warning signs.

Our training articles and special reports focus on the tactics that make maximum use of the latest weapons and technology. We have an in-depth article on how Smith & Wesson pistols and training are boosting capabilities of Afghan and Iraqi defense teams. Separate articles focus on hijacked-airliner assaults and dealing with the rash of pirate attacks on ships at sea.

And just when you thought we couldn’t unveil anything else that’s new, up comes our insider roundup of new mission gear that caught our eyes at the recent IACP show!
We warned you when we started: Be flexible! If it can happen, it probably will.

—TW

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