Defining Dynamic

“Of every thing, first ask what it is in itself.”  

Marcus Aurelius, from Meditations. 

There has been a lot of discussion around the tactical water coolers, as well as publication, on the future of the tactical dynamic entry.

How long will officers blast into rooms to awaiting potential gunfire and risk life for the purpose of preventing the destruction of evidence.

This hardly seems worth debating as no right minded individual would ever argue that a police officer’s life is worth any drug seizure.

I think the missed point is that eventually the police will have to proceed into a dwelling house or structure and when they do, at what speed will they proceed. 

The term dynamic conjures up images of blitz style, door obliterating, sensory overwhelming entries, and the compromising of safety measures to complete the mission or objective. 

Perhaps it is not the dynamic entry that needs to be questioned, but our perceptions and stigmas attached to the dynamic entry that need to be investigated further and understood.

What is the dynamic entry, really? Or a better question, what should it be?

The term dynamic itself is defined as characterized by constant change, activity or progress. At no time is there any mention of speed, surprise or violence of action in the definition of dynamic. Yet any mention of the word dynamic implies an overwhelming assault on person, place or thing.

Perhaps it is not the time to speak the end of the dynamic entry but to better understand the word. What exactly does it mean to dynamically enter and search or clear a location. I suggest that the speed of the operation is not an appropriate measure for this type of description and therein lies the confusion.

If dynamic by its essence is characterized by constant change or activity then isn’t every tactical operation dynamic? Or at least shouldn’t it be?

A tactical operation is a complex process involving intelligence, environmental and adversarial factors that all have a significant impact on what tactics should be employed. The entry of operators past the threshold of a structure is one very small, but necessary part of that operation. All reading this will agree that breaching the threshold and penetrating the target location needs to be executed prior to the completion of the operation. 

We have to go in at some point.

The implication of dynamic as a reference to speed is the first flaw in our thinking. Speed is the rate at which we move and should be referred to in a completely different category. When we attempt to identify rates of speed, how about we adopt some simpler terminology. How about slow, medium or fast? The problem is, these terms are not very tactical sounding, but it would certainly clarify things.

As you can see, the controversy surrounding the tactical dynamic entry is quickly becoming one not of tactics, but of semantics.

If you’re looking for the proper terms in which to move as a team through the environment, my suggestion would be to move carefully and optimally, given the circumstances. The rate of speed an operator moves is commonly believed to be to move as fast as you can accurately shoot your firearm, but I would edify this; the optimal speed to move as a tactical operator should be as fast as you can cognitively process information. 

If the information your senses are feeding to your brain are overloading your ability to make meaning of that information and formulate a reaction, you’re moving too fast. If you are giving up your position and allowing your adversary the advantage of locating and reacting to you more optimally than you can to the same to them, then you’re moving too slow.  

Even in a situation where an armed suspect is potentially lying in wait for the first officer to go through the door, an absolute worse case scenario, even then, that criteria for your rate of speed should apply. The tactics that you employ up until that point will vary drastically. If the intelligence is reliable, big if, that an armed male is inside and refusing to come out, we’d deploy chemicals and use technology to our tactical advantage and do what ever we could to bring him out of his hiding spot before proceeding into the potential kill zone. But ultimately, we will have to go into that room, even if the suspect surrenders. And when we do go into that room, it should be with the same fluid cadence that allows us to process the information our senses are receiving, assess that information and respond appropriately. 

Conversely, if the intelligence of the threat is unreliable or proven false, or if reliable intelligence is that the weapon is not within immediate reach of the suspect, such as in a hiding spot, will it then be advantageous to move decisively, and without stagnation to remove the suspects time and space to access that weapon or formulate a plan of attack on officers?

Risk aversive actions are sometimes more hazardous than the dangers they are intended to mitigate.

All of these things need to be considered when formulating a tactical plan, but if the conversation turns to the extinction of the dynamic entry, we’re referring to the dynamic entry as it is perceived, which is rushing into an unknown environment faster that we can process the information we are taking in and regardless of the intelligence.

If the end of the dynamic entry means the end of haphazard tactics such as these that put officers lives in jeopardy, then I’m for its demise. 

The truth is, the dynamic entry will never be extinct because good tactics should never be stagnant. What needs to improve is our understanding of the terminology we use and the reasons why we employ the tactics we do. If we are moving into an environment to control a suspect and we are doing so fluidly, without pauses, then we need to be prepared to justify the tactical advantages we feel we have gained in employing that process.

We do not only need to better understand the language we use, we also need to incorporate it into our lessons plans and educate executive members of our services, lawyers and judges so that they understand them as well.

That simple understanding must be this: dynamic does not equate to speed, it equates to progress.