Article author: Miky Weinberg – Owner of the Tarantula Technologies Ltd and Octagon Security Ltd Companies.
An event in which demonstrators break into a parliamentary building will always be defined as extreme and crossing a red line on the part of the citizens and despite this is not new and has occurred several times in the past in different democratic and less democratic countries. An event of this kind that takes place in the United States and especially in the Capitol building in the nation’s capital makes all the other events that have taken place before it in other countries look negligible and less interesting.
In my personal opinion, anyone with a managerial and/or security role in Israel/worldwide who is also responsible for responding to the forced entry of demonstrators into the facility must turn the documentation of the forced entry into the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, into a professional lesson that will allow him or her to become better at their jobs and to function better.
The level and quality of event documentation as carried out in real-time by citizens and professional photographers in recent years allow all relevant professionals to learn about the characteristics of the event and sit down and investigate what happened and come out with an important list of topics to examine and lessons learned for [future] application.
My opinion is that regarding this event important lessons can be identified with certainty at a relatively early stage, this opinion is mainly based on the photographed documentation and less on orderly testimonies and investigations that are likely to come later on.
The videos and photos that are already published in all the various media and networks turn the event in question into an online tutorial on securing government facilities in situations where masses decide to break into it and provide another opportunity to examine some of the working guidelines associated with dealing with these kinds of situations.
Two days after the event, the list of topics to learn from including the importance of intelligence when anticipating such extreme events and preparing for them, mass behavior is driven by a negative common denominator, the level of relevance of the existing security system in the facility as an initial response to the event, the level of effectiveness of protection against forced entries, the level of readiness of the security array in the facility for the evacuation of those staying there in the case of such extreme events, the correctness of the guidelines for the use of weapons against a mob that broke into the facility, and so on.
If the break-in at the Capitol during the important debate that was taking place in it (to confirm Biden’s election as President of the United States) managed to surprise the leadership on both political sides, as well as the commander of the security forces and the security managers at the facility then this surprise is completely contradictory to how the event developed primarily before the movement and later rushing of the mob towards the facility:
The incumbent president left not the slightest doubt about his dissatisfaction with the election results.
During his four years in office, the incumbent president has managed to present to his people and the world his personality traits that, to say the least, can be defined as blatantly unconventional for better or worse.
During the first election in which he won and became President of the United States and especially during the last election in which he lost, Donald Trump showed extreme leadership and extreme influence on the electorate with a campaign that included statements and slogans that created blind faith follow-up and a common denominator for millions of citizens. Shared can become a group that can work together.
Even before the break-in of the Capitol building, the incumbent president managed to get his voters out of their comfort zone to show support for his personal and political views including until a state of confrontation with the security forces was reached.
Concurrent with the plenary debate on Biden’s election as president, the incumbent president decided to hold a mass rally a short distance from the Capitol building during which he was not afraid to inflame the crowd with extremist statements and slogans against the election campaign and in his view that it was a clear election theft.
As stated, all of the above information was known and known and therefore I think that the conduct of the incumbent president and the masses who support him did not come as a surprise to all the relevant officials nor did it cause them to be unprepared for forced entries into the Capitol, also the unconventional President Donald Trump will probably not go to great lengths and certainly will not take action to undermine democracy and prevent Republicans (as opposed to extremist groups on the Democrat side) will not become violent, is the real reason for the slow response.
The event as it occurred on January 1, 2021, once again proved that assessments are separate from reality and that there should always be an alternative plan that can be implemented quickly and efficiently.
If I were currently in a position responsible for securing a government facility and/or a position that is supposed to preserve democracy in the country (in Israel, for example, the security director of the Knesset/Prime Minister’s Office/Close Protection Unit/etc.) I would take some time to watch the filmed documentation from the event in question and learn from the following topics that stood out in it to examine my working guidelines and the perception of the operation according to which the forces in the security array work:
At the national level:
A thorough examination of whether a situation can arise in a democratic state where a prime minister or president can in his or her behavior and actions undermine democracy and its values, what is the point at which those who are defined as “guardians of democracy” must intervene and who is responsible for activating special forces in the country and when. It is clear that the “guardians of democracy” must be apolitical in order to be able to truly produce a valuable mechanism and a high chance of success against the “theft” of democracy and takeover of the state.
If the state determines that the prime minister or incumbent president has the decision when to use the special forces then it will not be a surprise in the situation created in the event in question that the incumbent president, with unconventional personality traits, is dissatisfied with the election results, activates the masses in his favor and perhaps delays the activation of special units so that these units would not interfere with the crowd performing the entire mission it was sent to do.
A video from the rally in which the incumbent president appears to be speaking to the crowd and perhaps inspires them to act:
Intelligence as a strong foundation in the decision-making process:
Examining the process of gathering intelligence, processing it, and turning it into information influences situational assessments that end in decisions that are being made to be carried out. It seems that regarding the event in question there was intelligence about the rally held by the incumbent president and what is happening there and it was likely that the rally would turn into a violent demonstration that could also reach the Capitol building and yet it can be estimated that the facility’s security would not be reinforced in advance with special forces trained to deal with forced entry from a wild mob. Although the law states that in Washington D.C. the incumbent president decides when to activate the National Guard, there are still other ways and forces that will make the security array more ready.
The preparedness and capability of the security system routinely deployed in dealing with forced entry from a mob:
Examining the working assumption relating to the behavior of a crowd with a negative common denominator to understand whether the crowd behavior as documented in the event is appropriate to the characteristics of citizens in Israel or any other country in the world and if the forces that comprise the security array are appropriate and can handle the mob and prevent it from breaking into the building.
The documentation from the incident in question indicates that the security system that is routinely at the Capitol does not have the training and ability to deal with angry mobs trying to force their way in. It can be seen that police officers/security guards stand in front of the crowd without the ability and the appropriate tools to stop the mob and with the understanding that if they do not allow them to move forward then their lives would be in danger. In my opinion, the police/security guards seen in the videos acted responsibly, logically, and correctly when they decided not to try and confront the mob, allowing it to enter the facility and refrained from using force or weapons and performing actions that would aggravate the situation more than it is:
The effectiveness of the fencing means used by the facility and its security system against crowds:
In some of the videos and photos, one can clearly see that a standard mobile iron fence does not manage to delay or prevent the mob from moving forward and worse even at some point becomes an obstacle that poses a danger to the civilians and the police/security guards.
The filmed documentation leaves no doubt as to the effectiveness of the mobile fences in an event of this type:
Level of protection of the facility:
Examination of the durability and efficiency level of protection of the windows and doors in the facility against a mob attempting forced entry into the building.
Forced entry by the crowd using batons, plastic shields, and hammers on the windows and doors is the real test for the protection and much better than the resistance testing done in a laboratory or experimental conditions:
The readiness of the facility’s structure against forced entry by mobs:
The event in question gives us a rare glimpse into what a civilian participating in a violent demonstration is willing to do and how far he or she is willing to do to enter the facility. Some of the protesters climbing on the high wall proves that at the planning stage one cannot be satisfied with the fact that the wall is high and the wall needs to be made so that persons without ladders cannot scale it, otherwise you may think that when you funneled the crowd for it to enter only through the openings is effective when in practice you created with your own hands a way to bypass an axis of entry. In one of the videos one can see that part of the wall includes prominent concrete strips that were used by the demonstrators to grab and place their feet:
If you believe that a scenario of an angry mob trying to force its way into the facility for which you are responsible is relevant, you need to define the possible lines where the mob can advance, mark the openings in them and determine what level of response you are interested in doing to prevent a forced entry. The incident in question where the crowd is seen breaking or trying to break several doors in the wall line and inside the building makes us examine our definitions on the subject and the level and effectiveness of the existing doors in the facility in resisting forced entries. Factually, the doors in the wall line of the Capitol building and at the entrance to the plenary hall, for example, did not withstand the attacks on it and the power of the mob. When you see security guards in the plenum use furniture to prevent the doors from breaking in, then it is clear that they are not designed as a response to forced entries:
Evacuation of those staying at the facility:
Every security and safety plan in the facility must include a section relating to the evacuation of those staying there during exceptional situations and emergencies, including what needs to happen for the decision to evacuate to be made, when, how, and where to evacuate to with a clear understanding that human life precedes all. It seems that at the event in question the decision to evacuate the occupants of the facility did not match the axis of the progress of the crowd and its actions. In a situation where it took at least an hour between the movement of the crowd from the rally to the Capitol building to the illogical decision to break into the building, leading to encounters with elected officials and employees at the facility to the point of having to protect elected officials left in the plenum including drawing pistols and firing live ammunition on the protesters.
A professional evacuation plan and its implementation at the appropriate time would have prevented the unnecessary situation created in the event in question where elected officials are seen seeking shelter between the rows of chairs and would not have put the security guards in unnecessary dilemmas.
The civilians’ respect for special forces:
The event in question clearly shows the respect that citizens in certain countries (I think this is also true for Israel) have for special forces. Although the approval given for the special forces to be activated came relatively late, when the crowd understood and even saw the special forces’ arrival at the facility and their placement in front of the building and entering it, there was a shift in the mob’s behavior that allowed the event to end. I think one can notice the excitement that gripped the employees at the facility and the protesters when the special forces arrived and went inside. It seems like everyone was just waiting for their arrival:
One of the most important, necessary, and best ways to eventually become a more professional and effective security system is to view documentation of events that occurred, including those that occurred in other countries. What happened on January 6th, 2021 is a groundbreaking event that is likely to enter American history and soon it will be taught in universities in the context of democracy and also in security education in the context of securing a facility against a mob trying to force its way inside a building.
Remember, security needs to be maintained in full operational readiness for any scenario.
When examining an event of this kind that took place in the most progressive democracy in the whole world and see the inclusive and slow response of the decision-makers and security forces, when you know it is one of the best security forces that are out there, then one thinks that what happened was a planned production run by one director and several assistants.
In the United States, precisely on the left side of the political map, there are extremist organizations such as Antifa that are not afraid to carry out aggressive actions against governmental institutions and businesses, causing billions of dollars in damage. In contrast, in general, the right-wing refrained from behaving violently and therefore there may have been those who together decided to allow right-wing citizens to let off steam but under some control and in accordance with predetermined limits. How else can one explain all the phenomena that took place and were seen during the protesters’ forced entry into the Capitol? The number of wounded and killed by the demonstrators and by the security forces is very small compared to the number of protesters who moved in and did things inside the Capitol building. Many police officers and security guards from the facility’s security array seemed to not oppose the movement of the crowd towards the building and even opened barriers for them that were placed on the traffic lane and at the entrance to the building.
The demonstrators who entered the Capitol pretty much-maintained restraint and did not appear to be carrying out a beatdown inside the building and what is inside it. The behavior of the protesters gave the impression that their whole purpose was to be photographed inside the building to prove that they did what they did.
The very slow decision-making of the leadership is too extreme when taking into consideration the characteristics of the event and seems to have been done in a predetermined manner.
I do not doubt that over time many different opinions will be published about what happened on January 6th, 2021 and time will tell what happened in this groundbreaking event.