Attrition: Solving The Wrong Problem


November 21, 2013: Yemen, like many countries fighting Islamic terrorists, has a problem with the terrorists equipping themselves with army or police combat uniforms to improve their chances of getting past security and into bases and government buildings for their suicide attacks. In response to this, Yemen is issuing new combat uniforms for police and soldiers. On the appointed day, all personnel must wear the new uniforms or be considered hostile and fired on.

While this is a bold move, it won’t provide much additional security for long. That’s because the terrorists have many ways to get these uniforms. In addition to corrupt security personnel or manufacturers illegally selling the uniforms, there are also counterfeiters who specialize in duplicating uniforms to order.

The main problem the Yemenis have is not counterfeit uniforms but poor training and discipline among their troops. Properly trained and disciplined troops don’t have to worry about counterfeit uniforms because they use passwords and good coordination to make sure the bad guys did not get into places they shouldn’t be. That approach is often too expensive or otherwise beyond the means (for cultural or political reasons) of some nations and that means uniforms count for more. So whoever is in charge and under pressure to “do something” does anything. In this case that’s replacing old uniforms with new ones that look different.


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