A Primer on Vehicle Ramming Attacks

07Jun17

This was published last Sunday on Breach Bang Clear.


 

Motoring Jihad: Vehicle Ramming Attacks

Chris Hernandez

Berlin, Germany. Nice, France. Ohio State University, USA. Westminster Bridge, London, UK. Stockholm, Sweden. Times Square, New York, USA*. And now London, UK.

Again.

Vehicle ramming attacks (VRAs) are becoming the preferred tactic of our jihadist terrorist enemy. Just like the IED threat in Iraq, something we didn’t anticipate but which seem completely predictable in hindsight, VRAs are the weapon sitting in plain sight for years that almost nobody thought to use until recently. They’re incredibly effective for a number of reasons, and we’re already far behind in our efforts to create effective countermeasures.

Aftermath of the Stockholm, Sweden truck attack

The most effective VRA to date occurred in Nice, France last year, and killed 86 people. The least effective was at the Ohio State University, which injured several but killed nobody. Last night’s attack in London, at last report, claimed seven lives and caused over three dozen injuries. We don’t yet know how many died from the ramming and how many from the following knife attack. Sweden’s VRA claimed five, Berlin’s attack claimed twelve, Westminster Bridge six, and Times Square one. That’s 117, including those stabbed by the attackers, in just the last eleven months. And that’s not counting dozens of vehicle attacks in Israel, like this one that killed four Israeli soldiers in January.

Or this one last year in Arizona (watch the whole thing):

If you were armed, could you have stopped that truck? If so, how? You could stand directly in front of it and mag dump into the windshield in front of the driver — shooting at it as it passes will likely have no effect, especially since you’d be shooting upward through the door. But you’d have only seconds to recognize the threat, draw, engage and get the hell out of the way. What’s the likelihood you’d be able to do all that and get a round through the windshield at the right spot, and have that round not lose so much mass and velocity as it goes through the windshield that it becomes ineffective? Maybe that’s not a one-in-a-billion shot, and maybe your response is “So you’re saying there’s a chance,” but I don’t have any realistic expectation that a concealed carrier could take out a truck like that.

You could also jump on the running board and fire through the side window. It’s what I like to think I’d try to do. But the Nice attacker was swerving, and going up to fifty miles per hour. A motorcycle rider said he rode next to the truck and climbed onto the running board before the driver pointed a gun at him, causing him to jump off. Another motorcycle rider reportedly tried to do the same thing but was run over and killed (there are conflicting reports and I’m not sure exactly what happened).

So it’s possible you could climb on the side and take a shot. But it’s also possible the driver himself is armed, like the Nice and Berlin attackers were, so you might get shot in the face and run over anyway. No matter what, using your weapon to stop a big truck like that wouldn’t be easy.

“Well, sure,” you might say. “That’s a big truck, and it would be hard to stop, but most ramming attacks would probably involve a regular car or pickup.” And you’re right, they probably would since regular passenger vehicles are easier to get. So watch this video from the Times Square VRA:

Same question: if you had been there and been armed, what could you have done?

The car was traveling much faster than the cargo truck in Nice. It doesn’t have as much material to deflect gunfire as the cargo truck, but it’s also much smaller and easier to miss. If you’d deliberately stand in front of that car you’re insane, especially since the car will keep moving even if you manage to kill the driver. If your first instinct would be to jump out of the way (and yes, that would be your first instinct) would you then open fire on that small and fast-moving car, in an area full of civilians?

No, I’m not saying there’s no way to stop vehicle attackers. But I am saying it’s pretty damn hard to stop a vehicle with a gun, as many Soldiers discovered during the War on Terror. I personally watched my gunner in Iraq shoot a suspected car bomb with an M2; the vehicle stopped, then started driving again when we were much farther away. If .50 caliber rounds into the hood didn’t stop a Toyota Corolla (I think that’s what it was), your Glock 19 probably won’t stop a VRA.

So what should you do in case a VRA happens in front of you? 

Zombieland already gave us Rule #1:

Cardio.


 

READ THE REST AT THIS LINK TO BREACH BANG CLEAR

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Chris Hernandez (pictured above) is a 23 year police officer, former Marine and retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

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4 Responses to “A Primer on Vehicle Ramming Attacks”

  1. 1 David Hernandez

    Like all your articles, a wealth of information.

  2. 2 Frank Karl

    Years ago Ayoob at LFI taught, if you must, shoot the driver through the front windshield and get out of the way. Having had the chance to shoot through the windshield, from both sides I agree. It’s not easy, but it is the only real option if you must stop the vehicle. Killing the driver doesn’t guarantee a stop but it does take the guided aspect out of the equation.

    One wonders about the impact of “self-guided” cars (and trucks).

    Nice inside. Thanks Chris!

  3. 3 Seldom Seen Smith

  1. 1 A Primer on Vehicle Ramming Attacks (VRA) | The Defensive Training Group

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