Terrorism is a significant threat in lots of countries around the world. The seriousness of this issue stems from the fact that terrorists usually target non-combatant or civilian populations. This reality outlines the importance of anti-terrorist units and adequate training for the unit members. Terrorists are known for well-planned attacks based on their plan and motivation.
Therefore, these law enforcement officers require special skills to prevent or respond appropriately to on-going attacks. Generally, counterterrorism training usually includes equipping, mentoring, advising, and consulting with partner nations’ anti-terrorism assistance programs.
Types of Terrorist Attacks
Terrorism varies depending on the country, and political systems and incidents range from relatively minor localized threats to full-scale crisis and everything in between. They could be domestic and foreign terrorist attacks, political and non-political terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism, religious terrorism, criminal terrorism, or dissent terrorism.
Domestic attacks involve American nationals, while international terrorist groups spearhead foreign attacks. One thing that’s common to the different types is the infiltration of agencies. It’s, therefore, necessary for officers to recognize and report suspicious activity. There should also be increased awareness and the ability to identify enemies within the force.
Selection for the Anti-Terrorist Squad
Anti-terrorism requires a coordinated and well-managed response. Therefore, the officers in this unit must be well-equipped. There’s no specific criterion per se for the selection of law enforcement agents for counterterrorism. However, officers recommended for the training are usually those with sharpened skills and interest.
The State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program (SLATT)
The State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program was established in 1996 by the Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide specialized training to law enforcement for acts of terrorism and violent extremism. It began with the understanding that the prevention of and response to terrorism starts at the local and state levels.
Hence, they provide no-cost training developed by subject experts to law enforcement officers who serve as the first line of defense against said acts of terrorism. They offer four on-site courses, tailored to the different roles and functions in terrorism prevention and response. It emphasizes the importance of adequate information gathering.
There’s a spectrum of training activities for counterterrorism based on the courses, including physical, mental, communication, and tactical response exercises. Each exercise develops specific skills, including proper dialogue and the use of surveillance technology.
Training sites have various training and recreational facilities, which could be for indoor or outdoor use. Physical exercises are essential for fitness, which is a necessary quality for police officers. We’ll discuss some of them below.
These exercises strengthen the lungs and heart and help to increase agility. Hence, they’re also known as cardiorespiratory exercises. There are two categories of cardio workouts: aerobic and anaerobic. They perform aerobic exercises for a sustained period, and they include jump roping, running, jogging, walking, swimming, cycling, and kickboxing.
Meanwhile, anaerobic exercises aim to expend maximum energy for a short time. They include sprinting, weight lifting, calisthenics, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). They both lead to increased speed and less fatigue while exercising or during other exerting activities.
These exercises are to increase stamina and muscular endurance levels. This routine is beneficial in preventing getting injured or tired quickly, and it increases energy levels. Top endurance exercises include the plank, bodyweight squats, lunges, push-ups, and sit-ups. Others include bridge, burpees, wall climbing, and crab push-ups.
These types of exercises are also known as resistance training. It increases lean muscle mass and metabolism and hence helps in weight loss and maintenance. It increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and injury. Some of the activities are push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, and usage of weight machines.
Good coordination is essential for police officers, in general, to be able to perform complicated movements smoother, faster, and more confidently. Coordination exercises include ball tossing, juggling, jump rope drills, target practice, and wall bounce. It helps to synchronize specific actions with the brain, and it promotes quick response, accuracy, and precision.
Counterterrorism officials are at the front line in public safety, so they require avid logical and critical thinking skills to propose effective solutions. Mental exercises sharpen the activities of the brain and promote keen observation and reasoning. They include puzzles, word and vocabulary building games, and learning a new skill or language.
In the anti-terrorism unit, the officers must work together with multiple levels of agencies, such as the state police, local police, governor’s office, and the military. Therefore, we can’t overemphasize the need for interpersonal skills. There are various strategic communication courses that officers undergo to eliminate miscommunication.
Tactical Response Exercises
During training, officers need to undergo tactical response exercises. This activity allows them to practice the skills they have imbibed, using them to solve simulated or hypothetical crises. In some regions, they have applied modern technology, and they make use of virtual reality to carry out anti-terrorism drills.