I’m just back behind the keyboard after a very enjoyable CRCD training class this weekend. I spent Monday rebuilding my target pits after they were shot up a little on the weekend. Also digging some new ones in preparation for the Patrol class – this will be an entirely live firing class, so I managed to get several of the ambush target pits dug in, with still a few more to go before the first Patrol class in January. I’m looking forward to it!
It rained all weekend, which did not interrupt training. No-one took any photos but I am hopeful to get an AAR or two. The great thing about training in the woods is that it keeps both the sun and rain off. It was a full class of twelve, including a father and daughter, father and son and also a team of USMC/Navy vets who drove up from Tennessee. Some good training was done by all, and a lot of determination and heart was shown, particularly by the oldest participant at 61 years old. It really brings it home when you have a four ‘man’ team fight back off the X with team break contact drills, and when rallying and checking each other, doing tactical reloads etc, the 25 year old daughter shouts to her buddy; “You OK, Dad!” That’s SHTF, right there.
It occurred to me that an explanation of my training background and qualifications might help, for those who are wondering ‘Who the hell is the Max Velocity guy anyway, doesn’t he have a strange British accent? Why isn’t he retired U.S. Special Forces” I don’t fit into any neat little boxes, such as being U.S. SF, or anything readily understandable like that. I’ve given a little of my background out before, on this blog and also in my books etc, and the intent here will be to focus on my qualifications to train people, rather than my operational experience.
I have mentioned before that I bring some diverse experience to the training game. I initially enlisted into the British Army (The Parachute Regiment) and then I went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to earn my commission. I was selected and commissioned back into the Parachute Regiment. I left the British Army having attained the rank of Captain. I served on multiple operational deployments, including Northern Ireland, the Balkans and Afghanistan after 9/11.
For those who don’t know what the Parachute Regiment is, I often draw a parallel with the U.S. Army Rangers. The Paras are an elite, selected special operations force and the units do not exactly equate, but it gives you an idea. Of the three active duty Parachute Regiment battalions, the 1st Battalion (1 PARA) serves with UKSF directly alongside organizations such as the SAS and the SRR (Special Reconnaissance Regiment). 2 and 3 PARA serve in 16 Air Assault Brigade as the spearhead battalions. I served in both 1 and 2 PARA. The Paras are sometimes described as ‘Tier 2 Special Forces’ in UK terms, the SAS being Tier 1. This is where confusion arises, with Special Forces in the U.S. being an actual Tier 2 unit (i.e The Green Berets) , with CAG (i.e. Delta) being Tier 1, but the roles don’t directly equate and a CAG/Rangers relationship is more apt. There is no Green Beret equivalent unit in the British Army.
As part of my time in the Parachute Regiment I was a rifle platoon commander, both for training and operations. Part of my responsibility was to train my platoon; in fact when we were not deployed, that is what we did: train. Part of my training to become a platoon commander in the Parachute Regiment involved attending the Infantry Platoon Commander’s Battle Course (PCBC). This is an intense infantry school involving training in infantry tactics and small arms. In comparison, RMA Sandhust (which is a year long) also involves infantry tactics, but they are training officers for all branches so the tactics are used as a ‘vehicle’ for leadership training rather than the ultimate objective. PCBC is all about tactics. Part of the small arms training at PCBC involves qualifying as ‘Stage 5 Field Firing’ which allows you to plan and conduct ranges all the way up to full field firing exercises. That is how I know how to create and run realistic but safe live firing ranges for small unit tactics.
Following my initial stint as a rifle platoon commander, I was selected to be a training platoon commander at the Parachute Regiment training company (Para Company). I spent two years doing that; taking Parachute Regiment candidates through the 22 week long course. Unlike US Army training, where there is a drill sergeant per platoon, we ran things as a rifle platoon. The platoon commander is very much involved, and the platoon office is at the end of the corridor where the trainees live. Rather than a single drill sergeant for a platoon, each squad has a section commander (squad leader) who is a corporal, and there is a platoon sergeant, just like a rifle platoon. The platoon commander is responsible for running training with the section commander’s, and the platoon sergeant supports with admin.
A training platoon commander is very much involved. There is an outline training plan for the whole course, as a guide, with training areas booked for you, but it was my responsibility to plan and conduct every single field exercise and the ranges, from basic marksmanship up to full field firing. For the live firing we would provide our own integral safety from within the platoon staff, until we got up to platoon level attacks, where we would bring in another set of platoon staff for safety and we would perform our roles within the platoon, play-acting the pre-planned attacks for the benefit of the trainees. It is also a tradition within the British Army, and the Parachute Regiment in particular, to be involved as a leader and to lead from the front, which means being out there leading the trainees for PT and in particular the platoon tabs (ruck marches). You live with them in the field as if they are qualified paratroopers.
The actual pre-parachute selection course (P Company) is a separate organization within Para Company. In the videos I have put up about P Company, they are the guys wearing the blue tops, whereas the platoon training staff from Para Company wear the maroon tops. We would train our platoon up through the PT program so they were ready for P Company, then hand them over for test week. We would, at that point, be running the course with them to provide encouragement, while the P Company staff assessed them. If they passed P Company, there were further field training exercises, as well as Jump School following which they would conduct a full parachute operation involving a jump and live firing raid to ‘seal the deal’ as it were at the end of training. Of course, it was my job to plan and lead that.
Following that job I returned to the Para Battalions for more command roles – my next job was as the anti-tank platoon commander in the fire support company – another platoon to train and lead. I spent the rest of my career doing similar jobs interspersed with deployments, also doing UKSF selection at one point as I have mentioned before.
Having achieved all my personal goals, I decided to leave the British Army. My ‘resettlement’ plan was to be a professional yacht skipper (I’m a qualified Yachmaster Offshore). I did that for a very short period of time and ended up in Dubai. Things took a turn at that point – I was in touch with some former SAS guys who were running a security company. This was back in the ‘wild west’ days in Iraq. They had a platoon of South African former security force types who they had recruited for a job. They asked me to take on a 14 day contract, go into Iraq, train these guys up as a platoon team, do the job and that was it. I said yes, that evolved into a three month contract which ultimately turned into three years in Iraq. Doing that, there is always someone to train, whether it is your team or Iraqi Nationals. I did both low and high profile operations across Iraq, reconnaissance, security escort, close protection etc. That included a year based out of Camp Fallujah.
So, being a ‘contractor’ in Iraq is not the same as being a contractor building stuff or serving food in the DFAC right? Out on the ground we were effectively involved in combat operations, we took casualties, we lost a guy to a sniper in Fallujah etc. Guys lost their legs to EFPs. As well as regular enemy small arms fire and IED ambushes, when operating low profile I had the dubious honor of being shot at by the US Army, the Iraqi Police (when moving at night into a check-point south of Mosul) and we also got massively lit up by the Marine Corps in Fallujah one time when they mistook our SUVs for a team of foreign fighters. Luckily, the vehicles were armored and they were dismounted, not using .50 cal’s. They don’t mess about, those boys.
After my three years in Iraq I went and worked security for the Brit government in Helmand for two years, working hand in hand with Brit Mil, protecting personnel as they went about their business.
After settling in the US with my American wife I decided to join the US Army Reserves, essentially to try and give back some service in return to my new country. It was also my hope that my experience would be useful to help train others. My service so far has been comparatively lower-speed; I attended basic training in 2011 and qualified as a combat medic, before re-qualifying in civil affairs and becoming a team sergeant.
When I decided to start Max Velocity Tactical and start running civilian training classes, I was determined to bring the high quality style of training that I wanted to bring. I didn’t want to become ‘just another tactical trainer’ and it has been my aim to use my previous training and experience to bring a high quality of training.
I soon realized that to bring a professional standard of training, that would equate to the standard received by my Parachute Regiment trainees, I would need two things: 1) a suitable facility and 2) suitable targets.
It was because of this that I invested in the 100 acres of land in West Virginia, which I selected because it provides natural ranges with ridges that provide not only terrain to train on, but also natural backstops. I combined this with the purchase of suitable electronic pop-up targets that operate by remote control and will sense hits – they fall when hit. This allows me to bring the quality of training that I intend, and is the reason that I prefer to train at my facility, rather than travel where I am limited in what I can do with people.
After giving it much thought, I have gone heavily back to the ‘old-school’ ways of light infantry style training. I believe that this is exactly what is needed to prepare people for the kind of SHTF or resistance to enemies foreign or domestic situation for which we are all training. I reject ‘tacticool’ in favor of battle tested light infantry team tactics. I am also influenced by my close protection background in order to bring an amalgamation of training and operational experience to give you what I sincerely consider is the best such training available in this field.
Live Hard, Die Free.