One of the biggest changes to the battlefield today is the use of digital cameras. Within moments of a vehicle attack on the streets of New York, you watch the event on your computer in Ohio. Everyone knows this, but not many consider the tactical implications.
Terrorists apply this strategy around the globe. 30 years ago, Americans would have only seen glimpses of the aftermath recorded by local media. But today, terrorists specifically attack tourist areas because they know there will be cameras and the attack will be seen as it occurs, in its entirety. This allows terrorists to spread fear worldwide with far fewer resources.
But terrorists aren’t the only ones using cameras to spread fear. American activists groups such as the ANTIFA also attempt to control the narrative using video. If you watch videos of these groups, you’ll notice that they don’t want anyone recording their early actions. They’ll attempt to bully people taking video of the events as they instigate trouble, then attempt to get the footage of the trouble itself as people retaliate.
Baiting The Camera
The key to success in with this tactic is baiting their enemy into doing something wrong. In the case of ANTIFA, they’re hoping to catch one rally goer to attack them so that they can spread it across social media. They want to portray themselves as the solution to the violence, so they create the violence and then attempt to control the narrative when they are met with violence in response.
Our enemies also use this tactic on the battlefield.
You’ve probably seen videos of US forces attacking what appear to be innocent civilians. Injured women and children are often put in front of the camera after firefights gone wrong. It all looks like random chaos, but one of the keys to a successful warfighter is controlling the chaos.
In this case, terrorist groups will often attack US forces in places they know will result in collateral damage. They may even use the women and children as human shields. Engaging our forces at the time and place of their choosing, they can control the narrative.
A soldier begins receiving fire from a building 100 yards away. He has no idea that anyone other than the shooter is in that building. When the soldiers return fire, the shooter catches the incident on video and hopes that innocent people are hurt in the process.
The videos of such incidents have created outrage among the American population. As a response, American soldiers have become ultra-sensitive to the rules of engagement and battlefield perceptions. Soldiers will now often wait to engage combatants in populated areas, giving their enemies a tactical advantage.
In the future, you can expect these tactics to continue to increase. More security and cell phone footage will provide even greater opportunities for these attacks to reach their audience. Both political extremists and terrorists will look for new ways to horrify the public and shock content producers into publishing their attacks.
With 12 years as an Infantryman in the United States Army, Jason has served in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He has served in positions from Rifleman to Platoon Sergeant, and as an Observer/Controller. During his time in the Army, he received the Ranger Tab, Airborne and Pathfinder Badges, a Bronze Star Medal for service and more. After leaving the Army, Jason served as a WPS contractor in Baghdad for 2 years and now has a bachelor's degree in Web Design and Development.