As a blogger it is interesting to me that the topics that generate the most interest include gear. That is understandable, and don’t get me wrong – I get it. I love gear! I think a healthy interest in gear shows a professionalism to be better prepared to get the job done.
The same goes for guns. Well, guns and gear are related. They are related because they are the things that equip an individual. They are the things that an individual can concentrate on in order to better equip himself for the fight. An individual can control his gear and weapon set-up, given the cash to pay for it.
You can extrapolate that to tacti-cool square range style pseudo-tactical training. It is a line of individuals on a range firing at paper targets. They are individuals. But their gear is awesome, right?
To summarize how student’s eyes are opened when they train on one of my Combat Rifle / Contact Drills (CRCD) training weekends, I would say the following:
1) They mostly realize that their level of PT is inadequate. Even the fit guys discover this, because ultimately you are never fit enough for the kind of anaerobic effort required in a mobile firefight. You simply need to be as fit as you can be, to perform at the highest level you can get to. The fitter you are, the more necessary gear/ammo you can carry and remain effective, and the better you can ‘Keep Low, Move Fast.”
2) They realize that gear set up for mainly standing work on a square range becomes inadequate in real terrain and when taking effective fire positions in cover. This is relevant to both the ability to get into a good prone position, and also to change magazines while prone or otherwise taking cover. Even to getting a handgun out from a prone position if you have malfunction on your rifle.
3) Most importantly, they realize the holistic effect of TEAM. Once we move the class beyond individual reaction drills, through pairs fire and movement, to team break contact drills and even a squad assault on a bunker, their eyes open to the force-multiplying effect of TEAM.
Setting the squad assault to the side for a moment, I primarily get the students working in buddy pairs and then as part of a four man team. The four man team is the building block. With a four man team you can run tactically sound patrols. You can combine two teams into a squad. More than that, you can combine three teams into an even better squad, capable of employing the assault cycle: Fire support – assault – reserve (flank protection). With three teams, you can also employ the satellite patrolling method as described in Contact. But of course, you need the numbers, which is hard in our game of individuals.
I don’t want to turn this post into yet another bashing of the square range pseudo-tactical thing, other than to say that what is missing from that is tactical teamwork, and use of ground/terrain. It’s not a real tactical environment. In order to make square ranges effective, they should be used as part of a progression to field firing style work (as per the CRCD and my Combat Patrol Class). Square ranges are not an end in themselves, as a breeding ground for ‘AR drivers’. By all means, practice reactive shooting, combat shooting positions and similar on a square range as a progression from the fundamentals of shooting (grouping and zeroing) , then move onto field firing.
Really, this square rage shooting would be better termed ‘berm shooting’ because an actual square rifle range is really quite useful for training fundamentals, whereas shooing at paper 15 yards in front of you, into a berm, is less useful. Berm shooting AR Drivers!
Drive that AR, Baby!
You really need to train under an experienced light infantry style military instructor, whatever specific pedigree he comes from. It is ‘light infantry’ tactics that you want, not SWAT or LEO or otherwise. The SHTF battle is light infantry based, not SWAT. Even the limited ‘CQB’ or room entry drills taught in some of these classes do not combine the same element of teamwork as light infantry work, simply because they involve such limited drills: Breach – Bang – Clear. Repeat. There is a limited amount of communication needed to do this – it is simple drills. In contrast, if you are doing a break contact drill in the woods, which goes on for a period of time, you will have to communicate and work as a team even just on the basics of fire and movement, coordinating reloads, looking for a rally point, communicating etc. Patrolling will take that up another notch.
Once students eyes are opened to the need for TEAM, they start to question the assumptions with which they made confident plans to protect themselves and their families come SHTF. They also realize that even promises by one neighbor to another to help in case of attack is really just one individual in his house promising another individual in his. They most likely have not trained together, maybe not even trained at all, and so they are just individuals. They can generate rifle fire, for sure, which is not without its merits, but in the end they are individuals and they will die as individuals.
What really needs to happen is that the obsession with gear, equipment, guns needs to be channeled and placed firmly in the place where it belongs: in the continuum from individual towards team. Such things are the preparation of the individual in order to contribute himself more effectively to the team. When you get a team you can also specialize in the individual gear in order to fine tune load outs. For example, not everyone needs to carry a full medical kit. So, the medic carries that, everyone else with a basic IFAK. And so on.
When people talk about forming units after SHTF to fight tyranny, they really just imagine showing up with their gear and cracking on with it. They may well have little tactical training or understanding, if any at all. It is not good enough to have visions of 1776, militia members showing up with their muskets. The sad thing is, many people’s understanding doesn’t actually get beyond ‘forming lines’ to shoot muskets at the Redcoats, because that is effectively what ‘berm shooting’ is! Genius! The Tyrannists couldn’t have planned it better if they wanted to!
If you all just show up, then you will not be a tactically trained and capable light infantry force. You are just a bunch of overweight guys in tacti-cool gear. You have no background in teamwork and effective TTPs. All you can realistically consider doing is is engaging in a gun fight. Your guys in one place, the enemy in an another, shooting at each other. Let me know how that goes for you, when I meet you in the Feasthall at Valhalla – because yes, it won’t be any better for me either, because however many people I train, unless there are teams to be in, I’m no better off than you.
One of the big issues facing the ‘prepper’ community is the isolationist ‘OPSEC’ mindset. You need to throw that off. Yes, be careful who you talk to, but you need to be making some sort of plan to move from individual to team. Even having enough people to mount a watch / OP system requires more than one family unit. I know, finding decent trustworthy people is hard. But consider this – you don’t have to have a plan that necessarily involves all meeting at one persons retreat, or letting everyone know about your preps, or spending time canning food together. At the very least, if you have some sort of tactical team, or group, or hobby association in the area where you plan to bug out to, then you can at least meet after the SHTF to conduct operations. Such a thing would involve training together without necessarily being inside each others inner sanctums of retreat OPSEC. Maybe have a rally point for after SHTF if the comms go down. Take it from there.
The one main take-away: The holistic effect of TEAM.
Now, back to my battle belt, I want to move that pouch just a little….it’s a kind of denial, a comfort blanket, isn’t it…?