Compiled: Sandman, callsign Wolfhound.
After Action Report: May 25th-26th
Location:*Redacted*, Hampshire County, WV
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 60-70 degrees, moderate humidity, gusty winds.
cc: OVM-Staff, WRSA, Max V.
Background: This AAR will be non-standard and include personal details that will not violate OPSEC/PERSEC for OVM-CVM. Any shared data will be already accessible in the public domain.
I was not sure what to expect after signing up for this course. By way of background, I am a 52 year old smoker. I work long hours as a desk jockey, and have about 8-10 extra pounds on the old belt-line. (blame that on my wife’s great cooking). I have no military background and have never done any competitive shooting or athletics.
On the flip side, I do have 35 years of shooting and firearms experience. I have worked with the AR, AK, G3 and SKS platforms at varying levels. I exercise weekly and am in better shape that 80% of the guys my age (or so the wife tells me). I have 15 years of prepping experience with everything from building solar and water filtration systems to setting up defensive Homesteads. I have read voraciously throughout my life about Military theory, history, and practice. My collection includes works from Sun Tzu and Clausewitz up to Bracken and Max himself. I continue to remain humble and realistic though about my personal skill and knowledge level.
I also happen to be the Elected CO of our local Militia. I think the folks elected me for my organizational skills, leadership style, and the fact that no one else wanted the job. Our unit spans four counties in the Appalachians along the Ohio River Valley. My teams are made up of blue-collar folks, who are dedicated to protecting their families and homes from whatever threats may arise, whether man-made or natural. We have some veterans, but no combat vets. We train monthly in SUT, rifle drills, movement drills and all the TTPs of an irregular fighter. Most of this knowledge comes to me by way of the Ranger Handbook (my bible) and other manuals of common tasks. We also get our families involved and focus on prepping too.
So, I approached this course with dual motives. I wanted to validate what I have been teaching my folks, and I wanted to test my skills in a challenging environment. As a father, husband and Militia Commander I owed it to my tribe to give it my best shot.
Preparation: After signing up for the course and sending my deposit to Max I began a basic run down on his equipment list. Most of the gear required was already loaded on my LBV and battle-belt. I did make some modifications, such as removing an E&E kit from my belt, and adding a dump pouch. I also stripped my ruck down to bare essentials, cleaning kit, spare parts etc. Once I felt my gear was good, I spent thirty days (exactly one month) with basic cardio/calisthenics. Pushups, situps, crunches, light weights and such. Mainly I wanted to up my endurance a bit and try to prepare physically for some exertion.
Road trip, Accommodations, and local observations:
I had an uneventful four and half hour drive. None of my unit members or staff could make the trip at this time due to family and work commitments. I stay at the South Branch Inn in Romney WV. It was a bit dated, but clean. The staff was helpful and not too weirded out by my kit and cammo. Local stores and restaurants were good and people were friendly. One thing I did notice was prevalent LEO activity. There must be a State Police and Sheriff’s Office close by because I saw a lot of both. No problems with them, just be aware of local speed laws. (some 25 mph zones) If I made a right turn out of the hotel parking lot it was a straight shot to the meeting spot. (about 10 minutes back through town and out the other side).
I arrived about 15 minutes early and most participants were already waiting at the roadside. We had a good mix of folks; One team of four guys from Georgia, a married couple from up North, Four gentlemen of varying ages and abilities and myself. After a few minutes I gauged all as patriots, and most very competent with prepping and weapon skills. (amazing how us patriot types can size each other up in short order). Shortly after introductions, Max arrived and we moved on to the training site. The road was rough, but any vehicle with moderate clearance should not have a problem. In wet weather I would recommend four wheel drive. Parking at the site was a rough lot with room for plenty of vehicles. We actually ran about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, which was okay as it gave folks a chance to make last minute gear adjustments. I also passed out some contact cards and III Precenter.com RESIST stickers.
The training itself was awesome, and that is not a word I use lightly (or even frequently). Max has a friendly style that can not hide his vast wealth of tactical knowledge. This guy has been there. He was firm but fair both in instruction and constructive criticism. I will include an agenda list below with notes I took. Otherwise It would be impossible to cover all the topics, side-topics and info we went over. It was an avalanche of pointers and skill-sets, but given in such a way that it did not feel like a chore to learn. Max did not talk down to anyone, nor did I see him at any time lose his temper or be disrespectful. My brain did go into overdrive quite a few times as I tried to sponge up the vast amount of instruction. It was like a week long course crammed into two days. But let me stress that while it was challenging, interesting and tiring, it was never overwhelming or boring. Some of the best moments were the interaction of the course participants. (Anyone need some ‘my lil pony purple’ tape?). Rest periods and class instruction were frequent but not distracting. Safety was top notch and I did not see any sweeping or mishandling as is common in some quarters of the Patriot community. Everyone was intelligent, knowledgeable and friendly. There was a competitive atmosphere without any pettiness. The following is a sort of stream of thought agenda based on my hastily scrawled notes, but it should give anyone a basic understanding or the depth of the course.
Safety Brief – standard stuff, reinforced throughout the weekend. Weapon carry, muzzle position, prone, kneeling, standing.
Combat shooting Principles- good basics- breathing, site picture, controlled pairing of shots, etc.
Combat shooting/Reaction Drills- Dry walk thru, then live fire. (Dash-Crawl-Observe-Sights-Fire)
Intro Fire & Movement- Dry. Great Instruction, easy to understand diagrams. S-P-O-R-T-S
RTR- Return fire, Take Cover, Return accurate fire. (in my head this translates as: Reaction fire, MOVE-Take Cover, Return aimed fire) This was stressed alot during the whole course, GET OFF THE X).
Fire & Movement: Individual and Pairs- Live. Small Range, static and pop-up targets. Practice RTR. Get to COVER. Concealment vs. Cover.
Reaction Drills/ Conact Drills- Don’t get tunnel vision, stoppage= GET TO COVER. Don’t assume target will stay down.
End of day- Debrief and coaching. Great session, lots of cross talk about what we learned/discovered.
Max took some extra time to do a basic TCC lecture covering HABC, tourniquets, celox, pressure bandages, etc. Very good basic info that most participants were familiar with.
Some folks went out to dinner, I was sweaty and beat. Back to hotel and crashed early.
Same rendezvous procedure, same time and place.
Day two was hard and fast. Lots of live fire and movement. Participants had really bonded by this point and saw a few high fives and fist bumps, after some heavy action. Day 2 was focused and we got a lot done. Safety was first and Max made sure everyone stayed hydrated and rested. Day two we focused on the “Jungle Walk” which was an uphill trail, with well hidden pop-ups and littered with debris and stumps. This forced people to watch their footing and the surrounding hillsides. Focusing on near/far target acquisition. It was very challenging since the target appearance was variable and the forest canopy lighting plays tricks on the eyes. It was a blast. ( for the record, I had no intention of having fun, it was a pure byproduct of successful training).
Contact Drills- Breaking Contact, pairs.
Offensive Action Drills- Individual/Pairs.
Contact Drills- Breaking Contact Pairs.
The drills covered 3 post SHTF scenarios, that were well thought out and realistic. I could easily put myself in the position Max had foreseen. Needless to say by now we were feeling the effects of adrenaline burn, uphill fighting, and frequent hasty ambushes and LACE checks. (Liquids, Ammo, Casualty, Equipment) but the lessons went well into the afternoon. Max even ran some four man patrols thru the course and that produced some learning moments and lively action.
This report is long enough and I just cannot say enough good things about this course. As a refresher for professionals, or as a hard core lesson for novices. Max can work it either way. He was Professional, patient, willing to work at the different paces that participants could manage. It was gritty, realistic and exhausting. I am happy to report that the training did show that much of what my Militia folks have trained for is still valid. (plenty of room for improvement) The course closed out around 5pm and folks made their farewells. Lots of new friends and contacts. The best contact was Max himself, a true Old Style Patriot. I am glad he chose to become an American and I am glad to have him in our AO.
Gear failure- I had one double feed on my S&W MP15. May have been due to bad mag lips. Will check after clean up. Had to ditch my battle belt after day 1, the cushion waist-pad shredded from the strain of diving and rolling on it. It was 50$ Condor pad. It will be replaced by Blackhawk or similar. Don’t cut corners on gear, you get what you pay for. Rest of my gear worked as intended.
Tactical- COVER…The most important lessons were not even shooting related but survival related.Get to cover, stay low, use folds in the ground. Move to different firing positions, even it is just sideways prone wiggle. A few inches means his bullet may hit air instead of your head. Communicate with your team-mates. If you are getting low on ammo, let them know so they can cover you. It is a bad feeling to have multiple weapons go down at once. Watch your lanes, people tend to bunch up under stress, avoid moving near others. This presents the danger of blue on blue, as well as making you easier targets. There are just too many good points to get out, my head is still spinning. My best advice is to save your change, put off the vacation, sell some toys, BUT TAKE THIS COURSE.
CPT David C
Ohio Valley Minutemen