It's worth thinking through the problem this author raises: how would the U.S. handle a Mumbai-like terror attack?
It took the 10 terrorists just 10 minutes to overwhelm Mumbai's defenses when they struck in November 2008. They were organized in five two-man teams, and the first waded into the crowd at one of India's biggest railway stations, firing AK-47s and tossing grenades....
Today, the concept of attacks by small teams at several sites simultaneously - what I have called "swarm" tactics - has caught on among terrorists. This month alone, we have seen such methods employed in the simultaneous bombings in Baghdad, where over 400 were killed, and in Karachi, Pakistan, two weeks ago, where small teams waged gun battles while a truck bomb went off at a major police installation. Recent intelligence revelations have gone further, suggesting that al Qaeda is planning to swarm cities in France and Germany in the same manner. And there is another hard truth: The next Mumbai-, Baghdad- or Karachi-style attacks could happen in San Francisco.
San Francisco would be a good place for it, because if you tried it in Atlanta or Dallas it wouldn't work. The reason why not is instructive.
The author's dismay arises from his focus on NORTHCOM's mechanisms. Moving a 'brigade sized force' would indeed be a major undertaking, and one that could not be handled lightly. On the other hand, we have some advantages to handling a swarm attack that don't require the deployment of national assets.
For one thing, a 'two man team' could find itself pinned down by a few armed citizens. A trained pair might fight its way through that, but the delay in doing so would allow them to be tackled by local police. A few hunting rifles would make their way down from the wall and over to the proper site, if there wasn't a SWAT team available -- and indeed, if anything, we are oversupplied with SWAT teams in this country.
The best defense against an attack of this type is a distributed capacity for armed resistance among the citizenry. Fortunately, we as a nation are abundantly blessed in this regard. Still, if we wish to harden ourselves further against this particular terrorist tactic, the right method isn't to alter NORTHCOM's deployment strategies. It is to strengthen the capability described in United States Code Title 10,311: "Militia: composition and classes."
The more we strengthen the citizen, the less we need fear the terrorist. He may strike where he has determined there are neither soldiers nor police: but the People will always be there.