"The gods of the valley are not the gods of the hills, and you shall understand it"...Ethan Allen
"We in this room are all men who believe that actions speak louder then words. If I can impart anything from my life as a soldier it is this: There are only two types of warrior in this world. Those that serve tyrants and those that serve free men. I have chosen to serve free men, and if we as warriors serve free men, we must love freedom more than we love our own lives. It is a simple philosophy but one that has served me well in life."
--SFC Stefan Mazak, KIA 18 April 1968, Long Khanh Province, RSV
The way is in training...
"The way is in training".--Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645)
COMBAT MINDSET, KILLER INSTINCT AND DOING THE WORK
People who have repeatedly faced violence successfully, especially those who have done so in a professional capacity, understand that guns and gear are of tertiary importance. Even physical conditioning is secondary, to the critical importance of cultivation and continuous development of a proper mental attitude—combat mindset. That mindset is composed (in my opinion; definitions of combat mindset differ.—J.M.) of an unwavering—but well-founded—conviction in the effectiveness of your training and ability, an absolute willingness—even anticipation—to apply that training without hesitation, to kill bad people, and the intestinal fortitude to overcome any discomfort or obstacle in order to survive and succeed.
Combat mind-set implies on open-minded readiness to adapt to any effective method or skill that will increase your lethality on the battlefield. Unwavering conviction in your ability demands a “software-centric” approach to training and preparation. Even within the “dedicated, cold-dead hands three percent,” there are masses of gnu-owners who purchase a firearm at their local sporting goods store or gun shop, along with a box or two of ammunition, based on the advice of the inexperienced, minimum-wage clerk (or strangers on the internet forums…). Then, the firearm and ammunition gets tossed in a closet or drawer and is promptly forgotten. These people place absolute faith in the weapon, expecting it to solve their potential future problems. The firearm becomes a sort of magical talisman in their mind. This “hardware-centric” approach is the route of amateurs, the path to hell-fire and damnation.
The trained war-fighter recognizes that man is a tool-user, and values his tools. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that they are inanimate objects. The weapon is really only its most effective in the hands of a trained and aggressive operator. The trained, experienced gunslinger accepts the inarguable logic that training is more important than specific tools. If he can operate one weapon effectively, he should always be able to find, or fabricate, a useful weapon.
There is no time or space for the sin of mediocrity in realistic, effective combat training. The professional doesn’t waste his time practicing karate at the local strip-mall dojo. He doesn’t equate plinking beer cans in the backyard with a .22LR with close-quarters marksmanship training.
The professional, motivated war-fighter trains like the classic Type-A alpha male of his tribe. He seeks out the best training available and practices the skills he learns until he has mastered them…then he practices them some more. He lifts heavy weights and he runs fast. He boxes and wrestles in training to ensure that he can continue to bring the fight to the enemy, even if he loses his weapons. He attends training courses from companies like Magpul, CSAT, or VTAC, to ensure that he is learning combat shooting methods from experienced war-fighters. Then, he spends hours each week dry-firing his weapons so that he masters the physical skills he will need. Like some fabled Tier One JSOC Jedi, he trains to perfection…and then he trains some more.
A combat mind-set means knowing the difference between confident assertiveness, animal aggressiveness, and false braggadocio. It allows the war-fighter to carry himself assertively because he knows his own skill level, and recognizes himself as the most lethal man in the room—any room. It provides him the moral and physical courage to “flip the switch” to predatory, animal aggressiveness when necessary, because he knows that hesitation, like mediocrity, is a sin.
Effective training is an initiation into fear; an immunization against its effects. It teaches the truth of the cliché, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” It allows the war-fighter to accept that truth without complaint. Training should be painful and frightening. Gunfights are painful and frightening. The professional expects to be slammed into the mats during combatives training; to learn to tolerate the flesh-bruising sting of force-on-force training munitions; he looks forward to the lung- and muscle-burning agony of a fast, long, conditioning run. This is the portion of training that matters the most. It is what develops the ability to carry on the fight and win, despite being shot, stabbed, or blown up. The professional accepts that he may be critically, or even mortally, wounded, but rejects the popular myth of mediocrity that insists he will freeze in pain, panic, and terror when that happens.
Realistic training will teach the war-fighter that hatred is not a negative emotion. Hatred is nothing more than intensely-focused anger. It is just and righteous to hate those who would kill or harm you or your loved ones. Hatred, despite the feeble, whining protests of the weak-kneed, soul-less milquetoasts of modern society, is the positive energy that will allow the war-fighter to tear his foe apart, limb-from-limb. Our post-modern, apologetic, soft and sensitive culture cries out that hatred and violence are never the answer. It has created a society of hesitation and fear that feels it is necessary to apologize for its own righteousness and strength.
The war-fighter must learn to damn the cowardice of the masses to an eternity of hell-fire. He accepts that he may be called upon, in the righteous defense of life, liberty, community, and the Republic, to destroy the mind, spirit, and body of their enemies. He makes peace with this ground truth, so that at the moment of truth, he will not be plagued by the doubts and reservations of the weak. Instead, he will focus on the front sight post and shoot to slide-lock. Mediocrity, to repeat, is the sin of amateurs.
Many people believe that only “super-secret-squirrel” elite units of the military and law enforcement have access to the most effective secret techniques of interpersonal violence. They want to believe the ridiculous advertising of companies that claim you can learn their “super-secret-above-top-secret-Delta-SEAL-SWAT-Ninja fighting methods” for only $79.95 plus shipping and handling. The truth is far more simple…and demanding. Every single method, technique, and concept used by elite military units is available to the general public through non-classified, open-source, public venues.
They are available to “Joe Citizen” just like they are available to “Danny Delta” and “Sammy the SEAL.” The difference is that the legitimate Delta/SEAL/SWAT/Ninja is willing to sacrifice the effort to “do the work.” He is willing to practice any specific skill 100,000 times, or more, in every possible environment, until that skill becomes part of his neural programming.
Why though, should a CPA, computer programmer, or construction worker expend the time, blood, sweat, and tears to become a “pseudo-operator, wanna-be Rambo?” Why shouldn’t the week-end shooting class, six months of “who-flung-poo-kung-fu,” and a box of ammunition each year be adequate? Why waste money and time that could be spent on a new, large-screen television, a case of beer, and watching the Super Bowl?
If your definition of potential future threats extends only to punching out a drunk uncle at a family barbeque because he grabbed your wife’s ass…surgical placement of multiple rounds of 62-grain, 5.56mmNATO, M855 “green tip” through Uncle Bernie’s occipital cavity in Grandma’s backyard might make Christmas supper sort of awkward after that.
Unfortunately, the imminence of probably future insurrection and wide-spread violence in this country means there are far more dangerous threats to confront. If you are reading this, then it is reasonable to assume that you recognize the overwhelming probability of real, cataclysmic violence occurring in the near future. As a concerned, prepared part of the “III,” you possess a moral obligation to “do the work!”
Anyone who believes that six months of weekly taekwondo classes, a weekend-long NRA Basic Pistol class, and a box of ammunition each year is enough to stop a blood-thirsty mob of criminal thugs, unbound my social convention or legal restraint—whether they wear gang colors or jack-boots and uniforms—is a delusional moron.
Of course, the path of history may, God willing, change course. The Republic may be restored peaceably. You may never face these dangers. You may die of old age, peacefully in your bed, surrounded by a legion of loving children and grandchildren.
Or, you may die, face down in the mud of a wet, dark, night, choking on your own blood and lung tissue, a burst of 7.62x51mmNATO machine-gun rounds through your chest, listening to the screams of your wife and children, as the mob drags them off to a living hell. The choice is yours.
Will you do the work?
Somewhere in the mountains
THE FOUR PILLARS OF INDIVIDUAL AND SMALL-UNIT COMBAT EFFECTIVENESS
Guerrilla combat operations are ideally nothing more than conventional small-unit operations conducted by irregular forces in an unconventional environment. In that end, there is a lot that can be learned as far as training the individual guerrilla fighter by looking at the advanced made in training the conventional force soldier over the course of the Global War on Terror (GWOT).
As early as the mid-1990s, the 75th Ranger Regiment had looked at historical lessons learned in recent campaigns, such as Panama and Somalia, and re-prioritized the Regimental warfighter training program. The lessons they took and developed are perfectly adapted to the guerrilla force, if you accept the above philosophical tenet that there is little difference in the skills needed by the conventional (in the case of the Ranger Regiment, the philosophy has always been, “We are many things to many people, but basically we are light infantry.” The Regiment uses conventional light infantry tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), to conduct special operations missions, even today, although some of the specific changes that have occurred in the last decade are still classified.) and unconventional warfighter.
To begin, the Regiment looked at all the possible contingencies and tasks that they MIGHT be expected to perform, and realized there was no way to possibly master all of them. Instead, it made more sense to focus on a few skills and truly MASTER them. The III percent today, preparing for the potential need for future guerrilla operations, suffers under an even worse limit on time and resources, since the federal government isn’t funding our training. Instead of trying to master every potential skill set out there, focus on the fundamentals that will cover as many potential scenarios as possible.
In doing this analysis, the Regiment realized there were four basic pillars to individual combat effectiveness. Unless these four areas are mastered, you won’t perform any real-world combat task effectively. Mastery of these four areas allows you to perform ANY mission successfully.
The four basic pillars are:
Combat is the single most physically and emotionally exhausting activity in the human experience. Studies and experiential evidence both conclusively show that the better physical condition you are in, the better you will perform in combat. Combat-focused PT is not body-building, nor is it running a marathon. On the contrary, it is closer to a combination of both activities, with a healthy dose of getting punched around the sparring ring by Mike Tyson thrown in. While the Regiment utilizes foot march conditioning (these “gut checks” were called ruck runs in my day), more as a method to build physical and mental endurance in young Rangers, the guerrilla MUST also utilize it as a practical training method, since traditionally, much guerrilla combat has been conducted by foot-mobile forces, in order to better avoid road-borne security forces.
The basis of a combat-focused physical conditioning program should be built around ruck runs, with fully-laden rucksacks. The Regiment maintains a standard of 10 miles weekly, and 20 miles quarterly. In the mid-1990s, we conducted a 12-mile foot march every other Friday, with 80-pound rucksacks, and a 25-mile foot march twice a year.
Since performing a ruck run daily would serve little purpose other than physical degradation of the body, the rest of your cardio-respiratory conditioning work should be conducted via the use of mid- to long-distance running and sprinting. Runs should be anywhere from 3-5 miles, although much longer than that distance may be counter-productive in the long run, as long as you are conducting your foot march conditioning.
In addition to the cardio work, current tactical fitness science “suggests” adding resistance training and movement prep exercises to your physical conditioning program. Too many “survivalists” claim doing chores around the house/farm is their PT. While historically, guerrilla fighters have come from rural agricultural societies, and their lifetime of hard work has been sufficient to condition them to the challenges of unconventional warfare operations, the modern American, even one who “homesteads” and does manual labor daily is not performing anywhere NEAR the level of physical labor that a third-world farmworker does. Don’t fool yourself…you better be doing PT!
The Regiment also incorporated the core 13 moves of Level One Modern Army Combatives into the Regimental PT program. It was mandated that units within the Regiment perform combatives training a minimum of once a week. Combatives training, besides the obvious ability to fight, builds confidence, aggressiveness, and pride. While there is much debate concerning the validity of grappling-based combatives for modern combat, I won’t hash that out in this article, except to point out that I earned a black belt in judo in high school, trained BJJ in the Army and afterwards, have used that training in the real-world, and am 100% sold on the value of grappling-based combatives training. Unlike the Regiment, who recognizes the value of the “spirit of the bayonet,” I advocate including the use of edged weapons and field-expedient weapons (such as a shovel or club). Nevertheless, the Regiment’s view that the aggressiveness developed by combatives training will provide the aggressiveness a Ranger needs to kill with close-combat weapons has a great deal of validity. I have no moral reservations about smacking a bad guy in the melon with anything from a rifle muzzle to a half-full whiskey bottle. Combat, regardless of the scale, is ultimately, man-to-man. Weapons malfunction, friendlies and bad guys get too interspersed to effectively engage with your rifle or sidearm, and sometimes, the enemy pops up unexpectedly, too close to bring your firearms to bear. Incorporate combatives training into your physical conditioning program.
The standard army rifle marksmanship qualification table from the 1990s has been replaced by the current tables that are somewhat better, but neither is ideal, for the Ranger Regiment, or the modern guerrilla fighter. On the one hand, the focus on engagements from 100-300 meters is not ideal for the guerrilla fighter. In the deserts and mountains, he needs to be able to engage hostiles at ranges from 0-500 meters and beyond. On the other, the conventional force does not spend much time training to utilize sidearms, and I don’t know very many American gun people who don’t own a pistol.
It is advisable for the guerrilla-in-training to learn to utilize his rifle to the maximum effective range of the weapon. For the M4 carbine, the doctrinal maximum effective range for a point target is 500 meters, and 600 meters for an area target (i.e. a squad standing together). I personally know of individual riflemen who have succeeded at one-shot stops with the M4, mounted with a Trijicon ACOG, at 600-800 plus meters.
Determine the maximum effective range of YOUR weapon, in YOUR hands, and learn to hit at those ranges, from field firing positions, under field conditions. Don’t expect to actually hit a moving hostile at 500-600 yards under field conditions, with one well-placed shot. The ability to hit at those ranges though, allows you two realistic options: 1) you can use rapid, aimed fire at those ranges, with increased chances that one of your rounds will hit, and 2) you can place effective suppressive fire on the enemy, keeping his head down, while your maneuver elements move around and closer.
On the other hand, this ability to hit a solitary target at intermediate long-range (I agree with the doctrinal view that 300-600 meters is intermediate long-range. Long range is 600-1000 meters. Extreme long range is beyond 1000 meters.) allows you to fulfill the “guerrilla sniper” role. Hit a target, and then evade to return and engage another, later.
In addition to the ability to engage your targets at long range, you MUST master the ability to use your weapon at close-quarters, “belly-button,” or “bad breath” ranges. While the Regiment uses a standard of close-quarters marksmanship (CQM) at 25 meters, and many current trainers with military special missions unit (SMU) backgrounds teach at 25 meters and closer, I advocate running these kinds of drills all the way out to 50-100 meters. If you can reliably put a round into a bad guy’s head in less than one second, at 50 meters, you’ll soon find that doing the same at 10 or 25 meters is cake…and faster. The reality is that the guerrilla survives combat with a conventional force element by getting inside the envelope of his indirect-fire support weapons such as mortars, artillery, and close-air support. The fight will be up close and personal, and your mastery of those skills will be what allows you to engage the enemy successfully.
When developing your marksmanship program, break it down into the fundamentals, and focus on the fundamentals (I’ll be posting a sample marksmanship training program I run in a follow-on post to this blog). Spend the majority of your training time on dry-fire drills. You will actually see better results if you perform your marksmanship training in a 5:1 dry-fire to live-fire ratio than if you just go to the range to blast through boxes of ammunition. Perform dry-fire training at least once per week, and live-fire a minimum of once per month. Don’t skip steps until you’ve mastered the previous step. We’re all Americans and we all think we can shoot the ass off a gnat at 600 paces, but I see far too many “rifleman” (even ones who have completed the “Appleseed Project”) who can’t hit an E-Type silhouette at 200 meters reliably. “I get an elk every year!” is NOT an acceptable excuse for not training with your weapons.
You need to set marksmanship standards and then meet those standards during daylight hours, and at night, using the same standards, with the aid of night vision devices (NVD/NVG/NOD), if you have them (and you should!).
The ultimate goal of combat training is to produce a combat-ready unit that responds instantly to known or suspected enemy activity and defeats the enemy. A battle drill is a collective team action that is executed without the application of a deliberate decision-making process. The drill is initiated on a cue, such as an enemy action or simply a key leader’s command, and is a trained response to that cue.
ARETP 7-8-DRILL, Battle Drills for the Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad, JUN 2002, lists 13 battle drills for the conventional light infantry platoon and squad. The Ranger Regiment, based on their mission essential task list (MET-L), chooses to practice and master four, in the belief that those four will allow them to perform any mission they will be required to perform. Those four are: Deliberate Attack, React-To-Contact, Clear a Mined/Wired Obstacle, and Enter and Clear a Building. I would agree, and argue that a guerrilla force should master the same, as well as the ability to react to an ambush, both near and far.
While these will not cover every potential mission a guerrilla force will ever face, once modified to meet the organizational structure of the guerrilla unit, they will provide the unit the ability to build on and expand to conduct specific operations. The one thing common to all battle drills and small-unit operations is team-level fire and maneuver. If your team can perform that, they can do anything.
(Typical guerrilla force missions would include: ambushes, raids, area and route interdiction, and sabotage, among others…all of which would include the necessary use of these battle drills.)
It’s relatively easy to maintain readiness levels to perform these basic battle drills (Honestly, I could probably run a six- to twelve-man unit through them crawl-walk-run, once, and they’d be able to continue practicing them on their own to mastery.). It is the individual common skills tasks that go into accomplishing these drills that needs constant attention. For the modern guerrilla force, the individual common skills tasks should be maintained regularly (weekly, or at least twice a month), on an individual level, as much as possible, with the collective skills tasks being performed whenever the individuals can get together and train as an element. Always perform an after-action review with your comrades, to determine what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to be improved on (again, a subject for another post).
Individual movement methods, from moving as part of a fire-team, to moving in an urban, or built-up environment, must be taught and trained. The efficient methods that work do not come naturally. They must be practiced to mastery, under realistic field conditions. This training should incorporate physical and mental stress, firing from all the normal static positions (standing, kneeling, squatting, and prone, as well as field-supported positions), moving and shooting, and shooting over, under, and around obstacles and cover. The fundamentals that must underpin any movement techniques trained should be validity (will it keep me from being shot?), reliability (will it work in different environmental conditions? Prone unsupported firing in 18-24 inches of snow doesn’t work very well…ask me how I know!), and simplicity (can my guys remember how to perform it when they’re scare shitless and taking enemy fire?). These should be exercised, tested, and evaluated in a culmination exercise. The Regiment uses a “combat (stress) fire event.” A guerrilla unit must develop a similar mechanism in their training program. These tests can help to demonstrate how marksmanship methods must be altered for effectiveness in combat, as well as the most efficient methods for individuals to set up their personal equipment.
While the training paradigm of the effective guerrilla combat force is infinite, the mastery of these four pillars of combat effectiveness will put you on the road to developing a comprehensive program that will allow you to continue your training and development to become a truly combat effective unit.
(Due to personal time constraints, and personally induced space considerations, the medical training aspect will be covered in a later post.)
Somewhere in the mountains.
BUILDING SMALL TEAMS: DEVELOPING COMBAT-EFFECTIVE RESISTANCE ELEMENTS
“Soldiers have to eat soup together for a long time before they are ready to fight.” --Napolean
“Four brave men who do not know each other will not dare to attack a lion. Four less brave, but knowing each other well, sure of their reliability and consequently of mutual aid, will attack resolutely. That is the science of armies in a nutshell.” --Ardant du Picq
Perhaps the two most often cited perceived weaknesses of all resistance movements are the numbers arrayed against the resistance by regime security forces, and the ability of regime security forces to utilize technological advances to attack the resistance elements.
While numbers always matter, there are historically proven methods to increase the quality and combat-effective power projection of smaller forces, especially the tactical maneuver elements that constitute the lethal “tooth” end of the fighting force. Human factors are the critical components that must be exploited to compensate for a disparity of mass within the battlespace.
Through the exploitation of fundamental “soldier power,” a resistance force can leverage human factors and basic soldier skills to build combat power even in the face of larger, more organized, and better-equipped security forces. Durable, combat-effective small-unit elements are built on the foundation of good morale, esprit de corps, and unit cohesion.
Morale is a largely subjective psychological state that encompasses many factors, including respected leadership, logistical and material support, history and tradition, weather, casualty rates, and the reaction to exposure to stress. Morale, an individual psychological factor, can be defined as the enthusiasm with which a member of a group participates in the activities of that group.
Esprit de corps on the other hand, is not an individual factor, but a group psychological trait that complements and reinforces morale and cohesion through the mechanisms of group pride and devotion to upholding the reputation of the group. Esprit de corps is the relationship between individuals and the group as a whole, whereas cohesion is the relationship between individuals on a face-to-face, personal level. One common method of demonstrating and measuring esprit de corps is the willful adherence to external, formalized standards of behavior. In traditional militaries, these can extend to such details as uniform appearance, military courtesy and respect for rank, and of course (as it relates to the irregular force), an insistence on the acceptance and practice of certain prescribed behavioral standards in combat.
Cohesion is the bonding of small-unit members as a close-knit group, in order to enhance the individual members' commitment to the group. Fundamental to the concept of unit cohesion is the ability and willingness of every individual member to subordinate his individuality to adhere to group norms. The individual MUST feel a sense of responsibility to the group and be willing to submit his pesonal concerns to the imperative of the group's welfare (this is not “communism,” as one anarcho-capitalist argued to me several months ago. Nor is it “slavery.” It is logic and common sense, tempered with a healthy dose of experience. There is a reason I do not possess a great deal of respect for the combat survivability of most anarcho-capitalist “survivalists.” --J.M.). In truly high-performing combat units, this imperative for group welfare may demand extreme self-sacrifice, even to the point of willing death, for group survival, or the achievement of group goals. In elite combat units, this requisite bonding occurs as a result of the face-to-face, daily interpersonal relationships developed between individual fighters and their leaders (thus the reason a twelve-man SF ODA will generally be a more-effective combat force multiplier than a standard infantry platoon three times it's size. The ODA commander sees his men on a personal level, far more frequently than an infantry second lieutenant does. The ODA has far better cohesion, as result of daily interaction and higher levels of mutual respect and trust).
Cohesion, despite its relationship to morale (and to a lesser extent esprit de corps), is fundamentally a small-unit concept. While resistance fighters may develop real strength from their individual level of morale, and their relationship to the resistance as a movement, their ability to continue to carry on and fight, despite the stresses of functioning as part of the resistance will occur as a result solely of small-unit solidarity. The individualist will fall out and become combat-ineffective due to the debilitating effects of fear, the first time he comes close to compromise. The member of a small group may be able to continue the fight, despite wounds or injuries, simply due to his unwillingness to “let down” his friends and comrades.
The criticality of small-unit cohesion takes on its greatest importance when one considers the potential future battlespace. In contrast to classical conventional formations, in which the available weapons technology mandated large massed formations, modern and future warfare has witnessed the development of precision weapons that can decimate large formations at little risk to the operator. This leads to an increasing dispersal of combat forces across the battlespace. On these more lethal battlefields, small-unit leadership and cohesion are the critical elements in success (the use of irregular guerrilla tactics by American colonial fighters, such as Francis Marion's fighters in South Carolina, or Daniel Morgan's Riflemen further north, are prime examples of this. The ability of the colonial rebels to operate in small, irregular units, ambushing and killing large numbers of British soldiers, through the application of precision rifle fire, mandated a change in military tactics that the British were extremely slow to adopt. This inflexibility led to the loss of the Empire. Proof is ample when one studies the incursions of Empire forces into Afghanistan and India, as well as the Boer and Zulu conflicts in Africa. --J.M.).
Primary group, small-unit cohesion is not the ONLY factor that plays a part in irregular warfare success. Effective leadership, good planning at an operational and tactical level, logistics, training, and quality intelligence gathering and dissemination are all critical elements. Unit cohesion however, is the cornerstone that allows these other factors to function.
In order to achieve their full potential, small-unit combat elements must develop strong, cohesive bonds of trust and faith. Trust, confidence in each other, and group identity are the basic ingredients of unit cohesion. These are achieved through friendship, positive social interaction, high-quality, effective, realistic training, and the resultant confidence in each other's abilities, and good leadership.
It is critical to possess and utilize a set standard for training. A quantifiable, external measure for evaluating the abilites of the unit are critical for building confidence within the small-unit element. These measures are objective and fair, and allow each member of the team to witness that every other member of the team possesses the ability to meet clear and known performance standards.
Nevertheless, tactical excellence, aggressiveness of spirit, physical courage, and mental tenacity, and inspirational leadership are difficult (I would argue, impossible. --J.M.) to assess numerically. Yet, these are as much a measure of unit cohesion and thus, effectiveness, as meeting a set of published standards. There must be a symbiotic relationship between these elements that creates the unit pride that bonds individual fighters together into combat-effective elements.
Cohesive units are made up of comrades, friends, even “brothers.” Strangers do not fight, bleed, and die for one another. Men do not kill other men over apple pie and their mother's virtues as a homemaker. When they face the interpersonal hatred of close-quarters, knuckle-and-skull, bayonets-fixed brawling that is small-unit combat, men kill to ensure their friends stay alive. (this is the problem I see with many “militia groups.” Their hearts are in the right place, but they seem to lack a conceptual grasp of the realities of why men fight. You don't assign people into units in irregular, partisan resistance elements. Even the traditional colonial militia didn't. Those units are formed by the bonds of friendship and the known relationships between neighbors. --J.M.). The most important motivation for fighters in combat is not self-preservation. It is the drive to live up to the standards of the cohesive group and meet the expectations of one's friends. The trust and moral support of one's friends are what drives men to courage in battle.
This cohesion developed when fighters bond with others in their group when the group meets their needs for social affection, self-esteem, and protection from outsiders, as well as their physical needs for food, water, shelter, and other logistical support.
Cohesive, combat-effective small-unit elements are what matter in irregular, small-unit warfare. Even in highly aggressive, offensive operations, smaller, weaker forces have often overwhelmed because they were better trained and more motivated by the effects of small-unit cohesion and spirit. Trust in one another and in their leaders is what makes creates combat-effective units that win.
Unit cohesion at the small-unit maneuver element level is a powerful force multiplier that is completely unrelated to technology. It is a people-based competency that results from positive social-interaction between members of the unit and their immediate leadership, and a faith in the quality of the training they have received. For light-infantry forces that are trained to close with and kill the enemy at contact distances, unit cohesion is a critical moral imperative. It not only increases the combat effectiveness of a light-infantry element, but alos creates greater physical and psychological safety for individuals. Good equipment, the effective leveraging of available technology by resistance forces, and a sound understanding of the tactical and strategic doctrine of partisan resistance operations all help to improve the combat effectiveness of potential future resistance units. Every one of those elements is completely worthless however, if those elements can not develop into effective, symbiotic cohesive units.
The demands of a future potential conflict will include the ability to remain mentally agile, moving seamlessly from the ability to interface with local civilian population leadership, both official and unofficial, to the ability to kill the enemy without remorse, at contact distances with whatever weapons are available. These capabilities are not technology-dependent, but are based on people. The only way to accomplish this is to recognize that people are more important than hardware, and quality is far more critical than quantity (despite the famous Stalin-esque stance that “Quantity has a quality all its own). Because the number of available potential future resistance fighters is limited, it is imperative that those individuals and groups be trained to the highest levels possible. The most advanced technological leverage in the world will be completely useless without highly-motivated, well-trained war-fighters in combat-effective, cohesive small-unit teams.
Highly trained, cohesive units can operate effectively as independent partisan elements against security forces; possess the maturity and flexibility to span the spectrum of unconventional warfare missions from direct-action combat operations to rapport-building with local civilian populations; train to higher standards, and with higher technology equipment than rag-tag, last-minute, cobbled together “local militias;” and are versatile enough to adapt to changing paradigms within the battlespace.
Unit cohesion as a requirement of combat-effectiveness is unrelated to technology. From the ancient hoplite, to today's special operations military units, elite levels of small-unit cohesion provide smaller, safer, more effective light-infantry forces.
Cohesive small-units fight better at the tactical level, because they possess a higher sense of self-sacrifice for their fellows. A well-organized, well-trained, and well-led unit provides positive peer pressure for the individuals who comprise it. The known, witnessed, and experienced fighting ability of his comrades is what increases the individual's confidence in his own combat abilities and survivability. A fighter can only move towards the sound of the guns when he knows his comrades are supporting him.
The same training, organization, and leadership of a small-unit that allows individuals to develop confidence in it, provides more well-developed individual and collective skills that result in greater combat-effectiveness and fewer casualties. Leaders who know, like and are trusted by their men make more level-headed, accurate risk assessments, and do not willingly sacrifice the lives of subordinates in search of glory or promotion. The teamwork inherent to a cohesive unit results in greater efforts to evacuate casualties, also leading to reduced casualties, and reduced chances of capture and imprisonment by security forces.
Individuals within cohesive units, due to their drive to protect and support their friends within the unit, push themselves and their comrades to achieve even higher levels of expertise in training. It is a cyclic phenomenon. Quality, effective training builds unit cohesion, and unit cohesion builds the drive to execute higher-quality, more effective training. Stable, cohesive units, comprised of friends who stick together because of shared social experience and values, are a requirement for progressive training. The structure of a stable unit, without a rapid turn-over of members, allows an ongoing progression of skills development within the unit. There is no need to continually start over at zero, thus reducing stagnation and apathy. This implicit continuity allows units to continually refine their training and expertise to higher level skills development and the addition of more challenging tasks.
Refresher trainin on previously learned and well-honed skills is quicker and more effective when performed with the same men who the fighter learned the skill with initially. The effectiveness of collective task training is entirely and directly dependent on the cohesiveness of the unit. Well-trained, long-time friends display an intuitive level of communication that is built on shared experiences in complex interactions.
Cohesion is built, in small-units, through shared social experiences, mutual respect and confidence, high-quality, effective training, and good leadership. As the old saying claims, “The team that plays together stays together.” This does NOT mean that every member of the unit needs to go out drinking together (I've been around ODAs where that was the accepted form of bonding. It works really well...until one guy's wife decides that he's spending too much time and money at the strip-club and divorces him...”if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy” is true. A divorce is a sure way to get a guy's mind of his work, and to prove to him that the team really doesn't give that much of a shit about him. --J.M.). It does mean that the unit needs to spend time, outside of training, in social settings (if your “unit” is comprised of a bunch of strangers that you would not be caught dead with in public, you need to re-think your organizational priorities. Shared political values are important. Shared social and philosophical values are more important. A responsible, married family man, stuck on a team with a bunch of twenty-something single guys who like to party, drink too much, and smoke dope, is a recipe for disaster. There will be no cohesion. They can't understand his need to spend time with the wife and kids. He doesn't have any interest in chasing strippers at 0300...if he does, he's a maggot that they shouldn't trust anyway. --J.M.). Historically, effective resistance units, whether paramilitary guerrilla elements, or subversive underground elements, have been comprised of groups of friends and/or family members who banded together to resist. They knew each other, and respected each other, before they decided to take up arms. Potential future resistance fighters today have the benefit of foresight, allowing them to begin training now, in order to reach a more advanced level of training before hostilities begin in earnest, but they fundamental organizational paradigm of keeping small-unit combat elements comprised of known friends and neighbors should remain.
To further develop the team spirit and cohesion of an irregular resistance element, leaders (official or not), should schedule non-training activities that allow the families of unit members to build rapport with one another as well. Picnics, family daus, pick-up sports competitions, etc, are all ways to build this type of social rapport within the organization.
On one level, while it is critical for unit members to maintain and even develop further, relationships within the community, it is equally critical that the group itself provide most of the members' immediate needs for social interaction, as well as physical needs assistance that may arise. If a member of the unit is suddenly unemployed, he should not need to file for unemployment, because the other members should be stepping up, helping him find a new source of income, making sure his family has groceries, etc. If the child of a unit member needs medical care, and insurance is not available, or is unwilling to cover the expense, and the family cannot manage it alone, the group should be stepping up to the plate to help. These types of actions build interdependency, trust, respect, and peer bonding (On the other hand, this type of group support does possess and intrinsic risk of abuse. That should never be tolerated. If the suddenly unemployed remains unemployed, or sits on the couch bemoaning his fate, instead of working his ass off to try and find a new job, he needs an ass-kicking from his friends. If a family with two kids suddenly has three necessary medical procedures in a month's time, meanwhile, they're eating out every night, driving a brand new SUV, and the kids are packing around $400 iPhones, there is a serious issue going on that must be dealt with...--J.M.).
High-quality training, and individual and group dedication to realistic, effective training is a necessary precursor to combat-effective training and the resultant boost to unit cohesion. Potential future resistance fighters have other obligations besides training of course. The time available for training will, necessarily, be limited, and proper planning of training must take this into account, to squeeze every last benefit out of the available training time.
Induced stress in training increases the quality of training, as well as improving the process of team cohesion. Individual training should occur on individual time, but evaluations of individual ability, especially in front of the rest of the team, are valuable for building trust in the others. Team training time must provide opportunities for evaluations of physical conditioning, rifle marksmanship and general combat weaponscraft, fieldcraft abilities, etc. (a suggestion: If a team meets once a month to train together, for a weekend session, the first training block of the weekend should be on Friday evening, and encompass either a PT test, a rifle qualification, a forced-march with sustainment-level load, a practical shooting match, or something similar, followed by a group meal. This not only takes care of proving individual training is taking place, at the beginning, but also builds an opportunity to build rapport and cohesion within the team. --J.M.) The true value of team training time however, is in the development of tough, progressively difficult mission training that builds morale and team pride. Teamwork and cohesion is built by learning the strengths and weaknesses of the individual members of the group, and learning to overcome the weaknesses through the strengths of the group. Teamwork is developed by learning to trust peers and fight together. Team training should be focused on collective task training: learning and mastering battle drills, patrolling, and induced stress, can be utilized to create team-building events with a direct combat-effectiveness value to the team. The continuous communications and high-level sociological interactions that are required to address stess-filled training scenarios build cohesion and are the same skills needed to function in combat. The mental and physical stress induced in these types of training opportunities becomes a psychological external threat. An external threat to the group provides an opportunity for increased team cohesion. The more stress that can be safely induced in these training opportunities will provide more benefit to the cohesion of the group.
Success in a group enterprise builds team cohesion. Frequent successful exertions to the very limits of their physical and mental abilities teach group members their own capabilites and demonstrate to them that they can rely on each other. The success of overcoming realistic, stressful training challenges provides opportunity for shared experience, shared confidence, and shared celebration. Success raises the intrinsic status of the group in the view of group members, and thus those members are more likely to feel loyalty to the group. They will tend to feel that, as members of an “elite” group, they too are “elite” (ask me how I KNOW this...--J.M.). Group success and group cohesion are cyclic. The greater the cohesion, the greater the chance of success. The greater the success, the greater the group cohesion. Leaders of small-unit elements must provide timely, realistically positive after-action reviews for all training. Individuals may be singled out for praise for singular successes during training, but commendation should focus on the group effort, more than individual performance. The type of man who prepares for war and becomes a fighter prides himself on overcoming hardships and facing danger. This pride is critical to overcoming future challenges and inoculation against the fear, both physical and psychological, that will exist in combat.
Building a successful network of resistance activists is critical to long-term success of any potential future resistance movements. The development of small-unit elements and training them to function as combat-effective, cohesive teams in any future hostilities will be one critical step in this development. There are a couple of take-aways from this article that I want to put into the simplest English my foul-mouth is capable of:
Your “units” need to be comprised of people you like and associate with anyway. Getting on some internet forum somewhere with an advertisement for “militia members wanted now!” is fucking stupid. If you don't have friends that you already know and, at least at some level, trust (you have “friends” you don't trust? You've got a far different definition of the word than I do!), you need to consider a new social circle before you need to worry about developing some super-duper, Ranger/Commando/Delta Force partisan combat unit. This doesn't mean you can't have multiple social networks. It just means that, as your FRIENDS, your “unit” should be a group of people you would turn to for help in normal times anyway. If your normal social circles don't possess enough right-minded people to put together a two-man scout/sniper element, or a four- or six-man maneuver element, or more, you either need to develop a new social circle, move somewhere with more right-minded people, or focus on developing an individual cache of subversive underground or auxiliary support materials to offer when/if the resistance stands up (or, you need to face the reality that you're an anti-social loser and eat your gun...but that's probably a very permanent and irreparable solution to the very easily remedied problem of not being a nice person. Instead, go read Dale Carnegie three times, and put his principles into practice.)
If you do not have a written, published set of training standards for individual and group training, you're delusional. There's nothing inherently wrong with a bunch of buddies playing airsoft in the woods on the weekends (well, yeah, actually there is, but that's largely irrelevant to the conversation at hand), but that's not training. It's recreation. Training needs to be quantified and evaluated to have any real value. How do you know you're improving if you don't have anyway to test your training and level of readiness? You don't. If you aren't improving, you aren't really training.
If your “training” doesn't make you cry, puke, or occasionally bleed a little bit; if it doesn't regularly scare the ever-loving-dog-piss out of you, then you're not pushing yourself or your team hard enough. Combat is not a fucking nature walk. It's loud, it's scary, and it's physically and psychologically HARD. You have to live hard to be hard, and most American lives today are pretty fucking far from hard. Use your training to overcome that, and make it hard. Quit being a pussy. “It's too windy to go to the range.” “Are you crazy!? It's snowing outside! Why would I want to go sleep outside in the snow?” “Man, it's 110 degrees Farenheit outside! I'm not going to put on an 85lb rucksack and go walk 12 miles in two hours! I'm going to sit on the couch and watch the ball game!” Is it a game, or is it real? You have to decide, individually, and as a member of the group, then you have to decide to “do the work.”
Somewhere in the mountains
BUILDING SMALL TEAMS: DEVELOPING COMBAT-EFFECTIVE RESISTANCE ELEMENTS, PART TWO: DEVELOPING TRAINING
Properly conducted tactical training is preparation for interpersonal violence: combat. Improperly conducted training is a waste of time, energy, and limited finance. It is essential that potential future resistance elements train how they will fight. Training must be planned to ensure that not only are all necessary individual and collective tasks are fully learned and practiced, but that the training is as realistic as safely possible. Combat is harsh, unforgiving, and unpredictable, but well-planned and executed training can help to mitigate the hazards of combat by preparing fighters to face them. Training must be kept relevant and real.
Properly planned training should first concentrate on common skills. Many individual and collective task skills are common to all, or most, potential missions that a small-unit resistance element will face. Learning and mastering these common critical tasks should always be prioritized. Only after the most commonly necessary tasks have been mastered should training branch out to more esoteric skills (don't worry about “how to conduct a 'precious cargo' recovery operation before you know how to conduct a basic combat patrol. Don't sweat multiple hostile target engagements before you can hit a single target at a given range with your primary weapon. --J.M.) Training should be progressive. The successful execution of advanced tactical skills is simply a sublime mastery of the fundamental basic tactical skills. Even these basic collective tasks skills cannot be effectively conducted though, if the requisite individual task skills are not first mastered.
Training should always focus on eliminating the weak links in operational capacities. Whether individual or collective tasks skills, training should always be evaluated, regularly and objectively. Follow-on training should focus on those skills that were evaluated as being the least skillfully executed (If you don't have a training plan, follow that training plan, and evaluate that training, you're not training; you're just fucking around. --J.M.). As the cliché states, “Amateurs train until they get it right. Professionals train until they cannot get it wrong.”
Individual task training, as the foundation of successful collective task training, is the most critical aspect of a practical, effective tactical training plan. Individual critical tasks encompass a wide range of necessary fundamental skillsets, such as combat weaponcraft and marksmanship, unarmed combatives, medical aid, communications, field-craft, and tactical skills. A well-designed training plan should describe the individual training tasks required accomplish the perceived future mission. Doctrinally speaking, the experience of centuries of training war-fighters has demonstrated that the ideal format for expressing these skills is the task-conditions-standards method. A well-developed and organized training plan, utilizing the task-conditions-standards methodology will also include a specific, step-by-step sequence for teaching, executing, and evaluating these skills.
It should be remembered that individual task requirements, even for similar collective tasks, will often require a different focus, depending on the local operational and environmental conditions. A group operating in the bayous of Louisianna will require a different set of performance parameters for the task “move tactically,” than a group operating in Atlanta, Georgia. In turn, both of these groups' parameters for that task will differ greatly from the parameters needed by a group functioning in the sagebrush-covered desert valleys of the mountains of western Montana.
While there is a great deal of value available in utilizing the Soldier Training Publications (STP) and Army Training and Evaluation Program (ARTEP) of the U.S. Army as a framework for developing a well-developed local training plan, it is critically important that potential future resistors understand that not all of those tasks will fit their specific needs/conditions. Even those that do fit local environmental/operational needs will generally require a great deal of modification to benefit a local, indigenous defense force.
Initial individual task training should focus on correct performance of a specific individual tactical skill, rather than on doing so under difficult conditions. As training in that skill progresses, and a level of expertise is reached, the conditions can be modified to more closely resemble reality—in the rain, in the snow, in the dark, etc—but the standards should never be lowered. (Whether the fighter is shooting, while standing still on the square range, in broad daylight, or while moving to cover, in a pouring-down rain shower, in the dark of night, the standards MUST remain the same). The advantage that a well-trained, well-disciplined small-unit irregular warfare element can leverage over a larger, conventional force element in unconventional warfare operations is a more sublime, advanced mastery of fundamental war-fighting skills. In order to do so however, the standards must be set high, and maintained.
Collective tasks are team- or unit-based skills. These require individual group members to perform multiple individual tactical tasks collectively, for the achievement of a single, shared goal. The training is responsible for training his group/unit to work together, in cooperation, in order to successfully achieve whatever mission(s) they may find themselves required to accomplish. This is the crux of genuine combat leadership. Efficient teamwork results from group cohesion, and group cohesion results from good leadership that manages and directs excellent, elite training.
Very seldom will an irregular warfare unit find that it is able to execute the same mission twice in the same manner. Each mission will need to be examined in light of specific METT-TC considerations, and the unit's trained and proven tactical capabilities. The two basic types of collective tasks are battle drills (also referred to as Immediate Action Drills/IADs), and team-level missions.
IADs are standardized, doctrinal (for the unit) methods for executing specific collective tasks. IADs are detailed responses to to specific tactical situations that must be conducted on a trained, instinctive level, in response to a specific command or cue. IADs must be trained and practiced until their execution becomes second nature. The majority of collective task training in elite units is focused on mastering IADs, because these are the skills that keep units alive and functional in emergency situations in combat.
Team-level missions are tasks that may not be standardized, generally due to the intrinsically METT-TC dependent nature of their execution. These will seldom, if ever be performed twice in the same manner, and thus a well-planned training program will provide only general guidance for the performance of team-level missions, covering specific necessary aspects, while leaving adequate room for good judgement and tactical ingenuity on the part of team members and leaders.
Whether a trainer is developing a plan for individual or collective task training, the basic training course of action remains similar. First of all, obviously is to plan the training. Once the trainer has determined what specific task(s) will be trained, he must find or create a training standard for that task. If a suitable example of the requisite task cannot be located in the STPs or other resources, and modified to the specific needs of the element, the trainer must create his own training standard for that task.
The trainer needs to determine and develop a creative, attention-gaining and -keeping way to present the training information to the students. This may range from a video format lesson, photos and graphic training aids (GTA), or a simple war-story/anecdote to explain the lesson's importance (training time should never be wasted on war stories for the sake of war stories or ego gratification by the trainer however), to a demonstration of the skill in action by already well-trained personnel (As an example, one method I've often used when teaching a camouflage POI, is to provide the students a specific location and time for training to begin. They arrive and sit there for 10-20 minutes, waiting for me to show up. Suddenly arising in front of them, from plain sight, is their instructor, in ghillie camouflage, demonstrating the incredible effectiveness of good camouflage. --J.M.). Students should be advised, well ahead of the scheduled training, what information, equipment, and uniform/clothing they need to possess and have ready in order to complete the training. Typically, this should be provided in the form of a warning order, which serves the double training purpose of thoroughly familiarizing them with this aspect of mission preparation.
When presenting training, the trainer must be well-spoken, and present the information in a clear, concise manner that facilitates ready understanding by all personnel. The task, conditions, and standards should be stated at the beginning, in order to ensure that all participants in the training know and understand what the standards are. They cannot be expected to meet the standards if they are not informed of what they are.
For the second step of the presentation, the trainer should explain and demonstrate the task, performed to standard. Using the crawl-walk-run method of teaching, the trainer explains the task, in step-by-step detail. He then demonstrates the task, step-by-step, in slow motion, re-iterating the description of what he is executing. Finally, the trainer should demonstrate the task, at full-speed, performed to standard (especially with extremely technical skills such as combat shooting, this last phase also serves as a motivational stimulus. There's little better way of motivating a student to want to shoot better than seeing his trainer clean “El Presidente” in a master-class time).
Finally, in order to ensure that the “lecture” portion of the training has taken with the students, they should be expected to perform the task. The first step, “crawl,” is for the trainer to walk the students through the task, step-by-step, in cadence, “by-the-numbers.” Following this, they execute the task, on command, at half-speed. Finally, students should be expected to execute the task, as close to standard as they are capable. No student, learning a brand-new skill, should be expected to perform it perfectly to standard, the first time they execute it. A well-planned training program will allow them ample repetitive practice at evaluated skill tasks before they are expected to perform it to standard.
The only difference between the above-described method of teaching individual tactical tasks and teaching collective tasks, is that the trainer, by himself, cannot demonstrate a collective task skill that requires an entire team to execute properly. Instead, he provides a “talk-through” initially, followed by a walk-through and a run-through.
To execute a talk-through, the trainer states the standards, and explains how the task will be evaluated. He should explain the step-by-step sequence of the execution of the task, and what role each individual team member must play to ensure correct execution of the collective task. Once the steps have been thoroughly understood, and briefed-back by the individual members of the team, the team walks through the entire collective task, in slow-motion, allowing the trainer time to explain any mistakes, to the entire team.
The walk-through is a dry-run performance of the collective task. On command, the students should perform the entire task, without stopping, from start to finish, at half-speed. Upon completion of the walk-through, the trainer can elicit criticism of the performance from the students themselves, before offering his own observations on their performance.
Finally, the team should perform the task, at speed, to standard, without hesitation. As the student team performs better and better, the trainer should modify the conditions to make the task more challenging and more realistic—add smoke, darkness, battlefield noises, realistic terrain conditions, and simulated casualties. At some point, the students should be required to perform the collective task, on a suitable range, live-fire, as long as requisite safety precautions can be emplaced (the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat, but bleeding in training because of stupidity of a trainer is...well...stupid.--J.M.)
Some tips to make training more effective:
Grab students' attention from the beginning. This may range from showing a suitably relevant movie the first night of a weekend training course, to initiating the first classroom/lecture portion of the class with flash-bangs and blank-fire automatic gunfire to ensure they are paying attention.
Always inform students beforehand, of all the equipment they will need in order to perform the training in accordance with the training plan. Make sure they know ahead of time, what tasks they will be expected to learn, allowing them to read up and study the task steps beforehand. This will accelerate the learning curve for them.
You do not need high-tech training aids, but don't be shy about using training aids, from butcher board sheets with illustrations, to hand-outs, to specific weapons systems to demonstrate certain elements (For the love of Christ Almighty though...do not EVER use fucking PowerPoint as a training aid. No one knows how to do it properly, in or out of the military. –J.M.).
Involve the students in the lesson and be animated. Move around, keep asking them questions, keep them interested. If students are falling asleep, or getting distracted by outside diversions, you are not doing your job as a trainer.
Combat units do not attend lectures or classes. They TRAIN on combat tasks. Hands-on training is the best way to impart tactical training to students. Don't be shy about making students get dirty, wet, and cold, or sweaty and hot. They will appreciate your efforts.
Have students brief-back your training to you, to review it and ensure they have fully understood all of the relevant lessons.
Put your team in an actual training scenario, on a relevant piece of representative terrain. If you live and expect to operate in a built-up, urban environment, don't expect them to remain interested if all of your training takes place in a state park somewhere, out in the woods. It's not relevant to their needs, and they will recognize that, thus losing interest.
Do NOT waste training time. Use it effectively. Have a well-developed training plan. Train to the plan, and only modify it if the training demands it. Do not train to a time standard, train to the standard, no matter how long it takes. If you have a limited training time window, due to other constraints, pause the training and restart where you ended the next time you can get the students in the same place for training. Do not rush through something that is not fully understood (trust me, doing so will fuck you in the long run. --J.M.).
Challenge the students on the team. Push them to exceed their preconceived limits. During training, make them perform to higher standards. During evaluations, require them to perform to gradually increasingly difficult standards. Teams that successfully overcome real, unexpected challenges will enjoy greater cohesion courtesy of the increased individual levels of morale amongst the group members.
Reward a well-practiced training session. If your students/team performs their training well, and meets or exceeds the standards, reward them. Buy the whole team pizza, or a case of beer (if appropriate!). Provide morale-building team t-shirts (again, if appropriate, with due consideration to OPSEC/PERSEC concerns).
The well-organized, prone to success tactical unit will have a written, published training plan and program (before someone posts a stupid comment, I'm not referring to sending your training program off to a publisher for binding and sale. I'm referring to having it written down, put together, and available for access by all members of the team/unit. --J.M.). The well-developed training plan should include a task-conditions-standards statement for every individual and collective training task that the element will be expected to train and master. It should include a standing order list of necessary equipment needed to perform that training. The training plan should include appendices that include the format for warning orders and operations orders, to ensure adequate notice is provided to team/unit members prior to training events, to ensure that all available personnel show up, at the right time, with the right equipment to complete scheduled training. Proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.
I recognize that many inexperienced people seem to believe that SOF war-fighters are “fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants,” “make-it-up-as-we-go,” improvisational masters. To a degree, that is an accurate assessment. It's only possible however, because we operate off a plan that happens to offer us multiple contingencies in case something changes. While modifying a plan to fit changing METT-TC conditions is perfectly acceptable, you must have a plan to start with in order to change it. Anyone who thinks they can just “wing it,” in training, or in combat, is fucking delusional. I highly suggest, if someone shows up, offering you training, or leadership, and their stated teaching method is, “I make it up as I go,” or some variation thereof, run, as fast, and as far as you are able, to put space between you and them.
Somewhere in the mountains
More Notes on Developing Training Programs
Wars, battles, and fights are not won on the battlefield. They are won on the training field and in the classroom. It is great that we all have the ability (remarkably) to go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money on fighting rifles and MOLLE-compatible load-bearing equipment, and night-observation devices (NODs), and ballistic armor and plate carriers. Unfortunately, even those who talk about training, too often do not have any real concept of what skills they need to learn and master, nor how to develop an effective training program to learn and teach them.
It is incumbent upon each of us to not only learn to execute critical individual and collective combat skills tasks, but also to learn to TEACH these skills to others when it becomes necessary to expand our defenses beyond our close-knit groups of friends and neighbors, to create local civilian irregular defense groups (CIDG) to protect our communities. This article will discuss some conceptual theory behind developing training programs, as well as describe the most basic individual critical skills tasks that must be mastered by any irregular paramilitary resistance fighter, regardless of his/her operational area environment.
Like many military units, but even more so, resistance elements do not have the time or resources to achieve and sustain proficiency, let alone mastery, of every possible training task. Leaders and resistance cell trainers must identify those tasks that are their units critical wartime tasks. These then become the element's mission-essential task list (METL). It is then necessary to determine and train the individual skills tasks that will allow the element to accomplish their METL.
Fundamental Concepts of Training Curriculae
Train as you will fight! Combat is a harsh, unforgiving, unpredictable and deadly dangerous environment. Your fighting elements will only be effective if they have trained to adapt to undesirable and sometimes unforeseen contingencies. Loss of casualties and leadership, breakdowns in communications, plans being shot to hell by the enemy, whether deliberately or inadvertently...if your training programs do not deal with these, you are not training for real (this is not to say you need to throw monkey wrenches in training scenarios too fast. If you fuck your people every time they train, so they never learn to execute the fundamentals properly, there's no real reason to bother training them at all).
Train for the real fight! Make sure your training is realistic and relevant. You do not need to worry about the doctrinal make-up of a conventional force rifle squad if you don't have access to automatic weapons and close-air support. While it's critical to know and understand the enemy order of battle, don't try to replicate it too closely. It won't work for you unless you have their equipment and logistics train.
Train with who you have. Have trouble getting all of your people together for training every single training meeting? So what? You won't always have every swinging dick available for real-world missions either. In our current situation, people have jobs, family demands, and even vacations that must be taken. Deal with it by training with the ones who can make it. Pass on the newly acquired skills or lessons learned to those who were absent at the next training meeting, or at remedial training sessions.
Concentrate on common skills first. Some individual skills tasks will be common to most, if not all, real-world missions. Focus on proficiency and mastery of those skills first, then worry about more specialized, less commonly employed skill sets. Focus on those common skills tasks that are relevant to your groups structure, ability, equipment, mission, and environment (there would be no reason for a group in East Moose Knuckle, Montana to practice high-rise building assault methods, when the tallest building in the town is the two-story county courthouse....for the record, if East Moose Knuckle, Montana is an actual town, I've never heard of it, despite having traveled all over the state. On the other hand, whether you live in Cow Feed, Colorado or Toad Suck, Arkansas, learning to operate as part of an armed vehicle convoy, or learning to establish an area defense will be critical).
Use performance-based training methodologies. Determine what every skill actually involves (called the "task"), what conditions they will be required to be performed under, and what standards must be met, in the real-world, to make execution of the task relevant. Ensure that your people can perform the task, under the conditions required, to the standards established. Then ensure that they master those skills, so they can perform them, to or above the standards, under the most trying conditions you can possibly imagine having to perform them (it's one thing to be able to engage hostile targets on a static, known-distance range, in good weather, in broad daylight. Can you do it, from a field firing position, in the dark, when it's raining cats and dogs? After being injured or wounded? After humping a rucksack for the last week, while evading capture so you've not had time to cook a meal in that time?).
Eliminate weak links. After determining which skills are relevant to your resistance unit, test your people for proficiency in performing those. Then focus your training on improving those skills in which they have the least proficiency. Don't take the lazy route and focus on your strongest skills...you've already gotten those (in most cases, if your people do have a strong point, it will be marksmanship or basic weapons handling. In my experience though, too many local "militias" have the tactical ability, regardless of skill set, of a bunch of fucking cub scouts).
How do you perform individual training?
Prepare the training and gather the materials needed. Once you've decided on a particular individual skill to teach, or your group has assigned you a skill to teach, locate (and if necessary to meet your group's needs, modify) or write a standard for that particular skill. Ensure that YOU can meet the determined standard (do NOT be the douchebag that tries to teach a skill that even the dumbest motherfucker can see you are not capable of performing yourself! I don't give two shits if you were Danny Fucking Delta Force himself back in the day...if you're one hundred pounds overweight now, and can't walk a flight of stairs without getting smoked, don't try and teach CQB. No one with any sense will take you seriously). Make sure you have all of the material you will need to teach the skill, from presentation materials, such as dry erase boards or butcher block pads, to sand table model materials, to medical equipment and supplies such as IV starter kits and fluid bags of Ringer's Lactate, for teaching a TC3 class. Don't show up to teach a training session and have to stop halfway to wait while someone goes and finds you the needed materials. Make sure all of your personnel know beforehand what gear they need to bring with them.
Present the training. State and explain what the task, conditions, and standards are for the training that will take place. People MUST know what standards they are expected to meet. Demonstrate the task as you explain it. Explain not only how to execute the skills, but also why and when to perform it. Have each fighter/trainee actually perform the task. No one wants to sit through a lecture if it can be avoided. No one is going to learn to perform a physical task without actually practicing it. Have them practice it, using the crawl/walk/run method of training. Perform it in a classroom environment, slowly. Then perform it in a classroom environment more rapidly, at full-speed. Then perform it under field conditions. Until your people can perform the task, to standard, under the conditions required, you have not trained them in it.
Evaluate the training. Ensure that every member of the group has achieved the standards, understands the task and its purpose, and can execute it properly. Look at your performance as an instructor and determine what you did wrong and right and how you can improve for the next time you have to present training. Always strive to improve your abilities as an instructor/trainer.
Determining critical individual skills tasks
The U.S. Army's 2007 edition of the Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks, entitled Warrior Skills, for Skill Level 1 (in other words, every single soldier in the Army needs to know these skills) lists almost 200 individual skills. Fortunately for those of us who are time-challenged in our training opportunities due to the need to earn money to pay the government and to feed, clothe, and house our families, many of those will be largely irrelevant to our needs as irregular force fighters. As much as we'd like to, most of us do not have ready access to M249 SAWs or MK19 grenade launchers. It is incumbent upon us as "leaders" and trainers within the community, to determine which skills it is most important for our people to learn and master first.
When I initially spend time with a group, teaching them the fundamentals of small-unit irregular warfare, I focus on a few selected individual skills that are common to most missions and most operational environments, regardless of the modifications that need to be made depending on the operating environment. These include:
Engage hostile targets with primary personal small arms
Provide suppressive support-by-fire
Move under direct enemy small-arms fire
Move over, through, or under obstacles, except minefields
Select a temporary fighting position
Conduct tactical movement
Camouflage self and equipment
Obviously, there are numerous others, of equal or even greater importance. For the purposes of teaching small groups in an accelerated atmosphere of training in the clinic/class environment, this gives them an idea of how much they actually do not know.
Critical Individual Skills Tasks
Task Number One: Engage Targets with Personnel Primary Weapons
Conditions: Fighters will be presented with multiple silhouette-type targets at various ranges from 3M to 400M, during daylight and reduced-light conditions. Fighters will be armed with their personal primary weapons, load-bearing equipment, and other fighting load gear.
Standards: Students will successfully engage a minimum of 70% of silhouettes with appropriate firing techniques, including deliberate aimed-fire and close-quarters marksmanship techniques.
Critical Notes: If you cannot hit what you are shooting at, you are simply making noise. Shoot as fast as you can make hits and no faster. "You cannot miss fast enough to win a gunfight!" On the other hand, remember that in a real fight, the targets will be moving, trying to hide from your sight, and shooting back. While it's critically important to be able to shoot accurately at all ranges, do not become so focused on the "one-shot, one-kill" mantra that you overlook this reality. Three fast rounds of which one hits the enemy, is better than four slow, deliberately aimed rounds all of which miss because the enemy has already ducked under cover, or was moving too fast for you to get a perfect sight picture.
Task Number Two: Provide Suppressive Support-by-Fire
Conditions: Fighters will be provided a maneuver element, a designated sector of fire, and the task of providing suppressive support-by-fire to the maneuver element, without causing a fratricide incident.
Standards:Fighters will place 2-3 rounds of aimed fire into known, suspected, or likely positions of enemy concealment in their sector, at a minimum firing rate of 30 rounds per minute, based on METT-TC, covering all likely areas of enemy cover/concealment within their designated sector.
Critical Notes: Suppressive support-by-fire is NOT "spray-and-pray!" It is deliberately placed fire, intended to prevent the enemy from engaging the maneuver element with accurate small-arms direct-fire. It is NOT the Third World Hajji method of holding the weapon overhead and dumping a magazine randomly in a direction that you "hope" will keep the enemy's head down. While there is currently no doctrinal definition of the rate of fire of suppressive fire for individual riflemen, prior to World War Two the rate of one round every two seconds was a doctrinal standard. Considering this was accomplished with bolt-action rifles with ten-round fixed magazines, it should be EASY for fighters armed with modern, semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifles such as AR15s and AK47s. The METT-TC modifier is critical, since at shorter distances, the rate of fire may need to be increased to as much as 3-5 rounds per second (at a recent class, as I participated in one battle drill iteration with the class, I demonstrated this, at 50-75 meters, by executing suppressive support-by-fire at a rate at least double what anyone else was providing. This is CRITICAL, because you HAVE to keep the enemy's head down by putting enough rounds downrange that it is simply unsafe for him to peek up long enough to aim and fire. While it would be ideal for your rounds to kill the enemy, it is enough to keep his head down so your maneuver element can get close enough to do so. Contrary to the popular misconception amongst some self-proclaimed "combat riflemen," this is NOT "wasting" ammunition. It is ensuring the survivability of your element...as a related aside...when I come to your group to provide training and tell you that every rifleman will need a minimum of 500 rounds of rifle ammunition, I'm NOT exaggerating...).
Task Number Three: Move Under Direct Fire
Conditions:As a member of a two-man buddy team, given a tactical scenario, wherein fighters must approach a known enemy position, under direct fire, from a distance of 350-400 yards, while engaged with the enemy, across varied terrain; with their personal primary weapons and load-bearing equipment.
Standards: Move within 50-100 yards of the enemy position, METT-TC dependent. Use the correct individual tactical fire and maneuver techniques dictated by the terrain features present. Coordinate movement with Ranger buddy and provide cover fire for each other.
- Select an individual movement route within your buddy team's projected axis of advance.
a. search the terrain to your front for a wash, ravine, ditch, or hill at a slight angle to your axis of advance to provide cover and concealment while performing the low or high crawl.
b. select a route that provides adequate cover from enemy observation due to thick vegetation.
c. A route that is comprised of large trees, boulders or rock piles, stumps and deadfall timber, rubble, or other suitable terrain features may provide cover and concealment as temporary fighting positions. If no suitable cover or concealment is available between these available positions, use the rush technique to move between them.
d. High grass or weeds may provide partial concealment while in static positions, but the rush should be used for movement, since the low or high crawl will move the bushes and provide a target indicator to the enemy.
- Select your next position prior to leaving the last position of cover and/or concealment.
a. Select a position that will minimize your exposure to enemy direct fire.
b. Will not require you to move in front of other members of your element/patrol, masking their fire and risking a fratricide event.
- Determine the appropriate movement technique.
a. Select the high crawl when your projected route provides cover and concealment, poor visibility reduces enemy observation, and speed is required, but terrain and vegetation do not provide adequate cover or concealment for higher, more rapid movement techniques.
b. Select the low crawl when your projected route provides cover or concealment no more than one foot hight, visibility exposes you to unimpeded enemy observation, and speed is not required.
c. Select the 3-5 second rush when you must cross open areas, readily exposed to enemy observation and direct and indirect fire weapons, and/or speed is critical.
- Communicate your plan(s) with your Ranger buddy, or other members of the patrol. If enemy contact is not yet initiated, use hand-and-arm signals. If the patrol or the enemy has already initiated fires, communicate verbally (“Cover me while I move.” “Got you covered!” “Moving!” etc). This communication is critical, so the buddy who is not moving can provide covering suppressive fire for the his moving partner. The best cover available on the battlefield, is well-directed outgoing projectiles.
Task Number Four: Move Over, Through, or Around Obstacles (Except Minefields)
Conditions: Given an individual primary weapon, load-carrying equipment, and a Ranger buddy, in daylight, in a field environment, and a route that encompasses man-made and/or natural obstacles.
Standards: Approach a known or suspected enemy position, to within 100 yards, negotiate each obstacle encountered within the designated time-frame for the infiltration. Avoid being observed by the enemy, or becoming a casualty to a booby-trap device or early-warning device.
Performance Steps: Always select an infiltration time that utilizes limited-visibility conditions if tactically feasible.
- Ensure your Ranger buddy is covering you while traversing an obstacle, since doctrinally, obstacles are always protected by either direct-fire weapons or enemy observation.
- Cross exposed danger areas such as roads, trails, or small streams.
a. Select a crossing point near a bend in the road or stream. If feasible, select a bend that offers cover and concealment on both sides of the obstacle. Crawl up to the edge of cover/concealment closest to the obstacle and observe the other side, and both in both directions of the obstacle, to attempt to locate any enemy observation overlooking the crossing point.
b. Move rapidly, but quietly across the danger area and take a covered/concealed position on the other side.
c. Observe the area immediately around your position and the surrounding area for enemy observation overlooking the crossing point.
d. If the area is clear, signal to your Ranger buddy or the next man in line that it is okay to cross.
- Cross over a wall/elevated obstacle.
a. roll quickly over the top, staying as low and close to the top as possible. Do not expose or skyline yourself when traversing the obstacle.
b. Once across, stop and observe the immediate area and surrounding environment for enemy observation overlooking the crossing point before signaling to your Ranger buddy, or the next man across that it is safe to cross.
- Cross a man-made wire obstacle (concertina wire emplacement, wire fence, etc).
a. Inspect the wire at the crossing point and for several sections in either direction for booby-traps or early-warning devices (doctrinally, most organized military forces, or professionally-advised paramilitary forces will attach booby-traps or early-warning devices to wire obstacles).
b. Carefully observe the surrounding environment for signs of enemy observation overlooking the crossing point, since wire obstacles should routinely be under direct-fire or observation protection by enemy forces.
c. Cross over the wire obstacles if necessary, using wood, grass mats, or a body breach to protect personnel from the barbs and/or prevent entanglement in the obstacle.
d. Cross under the wire obstacle is possible, if time is not critical, by sliding headfirst on your back, under the bottom strands. Push yourself with your head and heels, carrying your weapon lengthwise on your body and holding the barbed wire with one hand while moving. Allow the wire to slide on the weapon in order to prevent entanglement in the wire of your clothing and equipment.
e. If necessary, cut through the wire, leaving the top strand intact to reduce the likelihood of casual enemy discovery of the breach. Wrap cloth around the wire between your hands and cut partially through the wire strands. Bend the wire back and forth in your hands to complete the break. Bend the wire back and out of the way carefully, to create the breach. Cut only the lowest strands, and no more than necessary to create a breach.
Task Number Five: Select a Temporary Fighting Position
Class participant firing from a temporary fighting position.
Conditions:Given a tentative defensive position, at a halt during movement, or upon receiving direct fire.
Standards: Select a position that protects you from enemy observation and fire, while allowing you to place effective return fire on enemy positions without exposing most of your body.
Performance Steps: Choose a position that takes maximum advantage of available cover and concealment (Cover protects you from fast moving pieces of metal that will act like a can opener on your tender flesh. Cover can also conceal you from enemy observation. Cover may be natural or man-made. Concealment hides you from enemy observation but does not do shit to stop those flying can openers. NEVER make the fatal error of believing that concealment can protect you from enemy fire. If the enemy suspects you are present, he may very well use searching fire into positions of concealment. This means you end up looking like an opened can of spaghetti and meatballs).
- Choose a position that allows you to observe and fire AROUND the side of the cover object while concealing and protecting most of your body.
- Select a position that allows you to stay as low to the ground as possible while engaging the enemy, thereby reducing the risk of damage from ricochets and indirect-fire shrapnel, as well as providing a more stable firing position (all other things being equal, the lower firing position will always be more stable).
- Choose a position that provides a background that does not silhouette you against the surrounding environment.
Task Number Six: Conduct Tactical Movement
Conditions: Given a route of infiltration to traverse, in order to move within 100 yards of an enemy position undetected, during daylight hours, as a part of a buddy team; provided a personal primary weapon, load-bearing equipment (including rucksack), and 30 minutes to prepare camouflage of self and equipment.
Standards: Move within the designated limits of maneuver, undetected by a positioned, trained observer, using optics, to within 100 meters of the target position. Describe the target identifier to the observer/controller before being released from the exercise.
- Camouflage self and equipment, using face paint, natural vegetation from the surrounding environment, and man-made camouflage aids. Silence any likely source of noise on your personal equipment and weapon.
- Use terrain features and vegetation to conceal movement from likely, known, or suspected positions of enemy observation. Stay in the shadows, do not silhouette or sky line yourself. Move slowly, and stop frequently to observe the surrounding environment. See before you are seen. Develop your route of approach in segments, ensuring you are stopping only in concealed positions that allow maximum opportunity for observation, while reducing your movement across exposed terrain.
- When necessary, use the high crawl, low crawl, or other individual movement techniques to maximize the use of cover/concealment. Stop frequently, if necessary, to adjust/replace camouflage. Ensure your final observation point allows adequate concealment from enemy observation to avoid being detected by optically-equipped observer, while allowing you to use optics to correctly identify details of human identity.
Task Number Seven: Camouflage Self and Equipment
Conditions: Provided personal primary weapon, load-carrying equipment (LCE), local vegetation, and other man-made materials, including skin paint/camouflage grease paint. Wearing either camouflage patterned or earth-toned clothing.
Standards: The fighter will camouflage self and equipment in order to prevent visual detection by enemy observation.
- Identify critical camouflage considerations and incorporate an analysis of the following considerations:movement (movement draws attention and darkness does not prevent observation. Minimize movement and move slowly and smoothly when movement is necessary), shape (nothing is as recognizable to a human as the human silhouette, and man-made military equipment is not far behind. Use natural and/or man-made materials to break up and disrupt the shapes and outlines of your silhouette, your weapon, and all other equipment. Stay in shadows when moving, if possible), light/reflections (cover or remove the following common tactical equipment items to prevent/eliminate light reflection: mirrors, eye glasses/sunglasses, watch crystals, plastic map cases, plastic garbage bags, dust goggles, flashlights, including red lens flashlights. Red lenses should be replaced with blue-green lens covers), and color (blend individual camouflage with the local surroundings through the use of appropriate camouflage-patterned clothing/uniforms, or the use of Krylon, mud, grease paint, etc, on earth-toned clothing, and the use of natural vegetation and/or man-made material to break up the human silhouette). Camouflage your skin (regardless of your skin tone, cover your exposed skin and oils with camouflage grease paint, or other substances to reduce the glare of light reflected of your face. Use darker colors to shade prominent surface areas that shine, including the forehead, cheekbones, ears, nose, and chin. Use lighter colors to brighten those areas of your face that are normally shaded, including around the eyes, under the nose, and under the chin. Do not ignore the neck or the back of the head. Use earth toned tactical gloves or thin "mechanic's gloves" to cover your hands).
- Camouflage your head and clothing. Wear long sleeved shirts and button all buttons to the collar. Attach grass, leaves, small branches, or burlap strips on netting to your clothing and headgear. These items will distort shapes and blend colors with the natural background.
- Camouflage your weapon and personal equipment. Cover, remove, or paint over shiny items that might reflect light. Use Krylon or other paint materials to blend the colors of your equipment to the surroundings. Attach natural vegetation and/or burlap strips and netting to your equipment. Secure any items that might rattle or make noise when you are moving. (Do not be afraid to apply liberal amounts of Krylon to any of your gear to better match your operational environment. Paint your weapons! It's a fighting tool designed to help you kill bad people, it's not a fucking financial investment or a "safe queen." When I see people who refuse to paint their rifles any color other than black, I automatically assume they are more concerned with being able to sell their rifle, rather than being effective at killing bad people with it.)
While these are not the only critical individual skills tasks that an irregular resistance element needs to know and master, they do encompass a very solid foundation for learning critical collective tasks such as battle drills that will allow you to begin developing a training program so when necessary, you can protect your homes, communities, and freedoms. This is the way to begin developing a training program.
Somewhere in the mountains
Critical Individual Skills Tasks--Small Unit Leaders
In order to help further your training, I'm offering more critical individual skills tasks...these are specifically for small-unit leaders. If you don't understand these, it's because you don't understand the critical skill level 1 tasks I shared in the recent article on developing training. Pay attention boys and girls, there's going to be a LOT more of these coming up....
Task: Control Tactical Movement of an UW Team
Conditions: As a team leader, while moving in a tactical environment, provided specific instructions by the higher unit leader (squad leader/platoon leader) as to the route to the overwatch position, and the actions to be taken there.
Standards: React immediately to your instructions. Keep the interval between your team and the next or preceding team appropriate to the given movement technique and the terrain. When moving to the overwatch position, use the terrain to provide cover and concealment for your team. Recognize the team members' use of the following (and correct them when necessary): camouflage, cover, and concealment, individual interval appropriate to terrain and visibility, while keeping all team members in sight, noise and light discipline, security measures (all shooters are alert and ready to act), and response to your lead-by-example actions (corrections may be made verbally, IAW METT-TC considerations, or via hand-and-arm signals).
Thoroughly understand your mission. Know the destination of your team, the general route your team should take, the actions to be taken when your team gets to the destination, the location of your next higher unit leader, and the location of your overwatch team (particularly important, if you hope to avoid masking his fires...generally a bad idea when his supporting fires are what is going to save your ass if you make contact with a numerically superior force).
Inform your team members of the mission. If they are "cool" enough to help you perform the mission, they are "cool" enough to know what the fuck the mission is. If you are worried about leaks, wait until they are in pre-mission isolation before doing so.
Ensure that your team is proficient in fundamental battle drills, and utilize your next higher unit leaders instructions, as well as established unit SOPs. Use camouflage, cover, and concealment techniques to maximize the classic light-infantry scout-woodsman stealth, keep individual intervals to reduce casualties from enemy crew-served weapons. Maintain light and noise discipline. Respond to lead-by-example actions. Respond to verbal and/or hand-and-arm signal commands and guidance.
Maintain a visual and/or radio contact with your next higher unit leader. Make quick visual reconnaissances of the next overwatch position you intend to move your team to, and lead your team through the terrain that offers the best cover and concealment available.
Whether you are working in a wooded alpine environment, jungle/swamp wetlands, or an urban enclave, these principles of leading and guiding an irregular small-unit element (which are the same used to lead a conventional fire team/rifle squad...), will allow you to maximize the effectiveness of your element.
Task: Direct Fire and Maneuver of an UW Small-Unit Element Against an Enemy Position
Conditions: As the leader of a small-unit element that has just encountered an enemy position.
Standards: Fix the enemy with all available suppressive fires. Assault the enemy's flank or other weak points, using fire and maneuver and cover and concealment.
Actions on Contact. When unexpected contact is made with an enemy force, the UW leader must instantly determine if his element is adequate to exploit any perceived weakness in the enemy security situation, or whether he needs to break contact and flee. The key concepts to remember are DEPLOY, SUPPRESS, and REPORT. Lead elements deploy into positions from which they can fire, observe, or maneuver against the enemy. If elements in contact receive direct enemy small-arms fire, they immediately suppress the enemy weapons with well-directed suppressive fire (first magazine as rapidly as possible into known, suspected, or likely enemy positions of concealment/cover, speed reload, then a sustained rate no slower than 30 rounds per minute--that whole "4 magazines is more than enough!" gets shot out the window in a hurry when you do shit the right way!). If the enemy was located but has not yet detected the UW patrol element (the ideal, of course), do not engage until friendly maneuver elements are in the best position to engage the enemy. Immediately report as much detailed information as possible to the patrol leader and continue to update him as new information becomes available.
Determine Enemy Location, Disposition, and Strength. The element leader must strive to gain as much information as possible on the enemy situation, as the situation develops. That information not revealed by the initial contact should be determined by careful maneuver against the enemy to determine his weak points (a thorough knowledge of the terrain in your operational area may help this. If you know the location the enemy is ensconced in is overlooked by the small ridge to the left, that may allow plunging fire directly into his position, ensuring effective suppressive fires. In an urban environment, you may know that there is an underground tunnel entrance in the basement of the building he has occupied, allowing you uncontested entry into his rear). If the initial contact reveals an enemy who is clearly superior, the UW element does not risk maneuvering against him, but either holds in place, serving as a base-of-fire/support-by-fire element for the rest of the UW patrol, or intitiates a react-to-contact/break contact battle drill.
Choose a Course of Action. The UW element leader must instantly choose a course of action, unless otherwise directed by a higher unit patrol leader.
Fix the Enemy. To close with the enemy, the assault force must suppress the enemy's fire. Enemy suppression may be most effectively accomplished by irregular forces, equipped only with small arms, by shooting at him with enough accuracy and volume of fire to keep him more concerned with not getting shot than he is with shooting back. When the enemy is suppressed, the assault element can maneuver towards him without the risk of taking excessive casualties. The assault force always attempts to achieve a concentration of fires and effort on weaknesses on the enemy's flanks. The enemy will typically be aware of what these weaknesses are, and will move to reinforce them if he knows they will be assaulted. Adequate suppressive fire will prevent him from maneuvering to reinforce his weak points (seriously people, all talk of the 500-yard citizen-rifleman aside, the key to victory in small-unit combat is effective suppressive fire. I don't give a shit if you can ring steel at 500 yards, from the prone, sling-supported. If you can't bring the hate, and wreak havoc and discontent upon the enemy accurately, at a high rate of fire, all the "rifleman" merit badges in the world will not make you combat effective. Know how to shoot your weapon accurately AND effectively. Learn the fucking lesson already!) Remember, the enemy MUST BE FIXED BY EFFECTIVE SUPPRESSIVE FIRES!!!!
Fight the Enemy. In open terrain (remember where I've repeatedly said I lived in high-desert mountain country? I kind of know a little something about open country), there are few significant natural or man-made features that severely restrict the fires or maneuver of the element. An example would be a sparsely vegetated area where a ten-man team may assault using fire AND maneuver. Elements of the team will alternate as fire support and maneuver elements as they close with the enemy. In restrictive terrain however, you confront significant natural or man-made features that severely restrict the fire and maneuver of the UW element (urban, alpine, thickly vegetated, etc). In restrictive terrain operational environments, UW elements will need to task organize into the assault element that closes with and destroys the enemy, and the support-by-fire element that fixes the enemy with effective suppressive fires. Conventionally, it may also require a breaching element that will clear or mark a path through enemy obstacles, or blow holes in walls for the assault element, but in UW, the assault element may be required to fill this role for itself.
Assault Techniques. The assault element must move forward as quickly as possible, in consideration of METT-TC considerations, by crawling, short rushes (3-5 second rush), or a single rush (Fix Bayonets! Charge!...fuck that!). The team leader moves forward using the most appropriate method for the situation he faces, and the rest of his team follows his example/guidance, using every advantage offered by the terrain (when you move to maneuver around the enemy, use terrain to mask your movement as much as possible. It is imperative that you make your maneuver as rapidly as possible, in order to assault the enemy position while the SBF elements suppressive fire is still having an effect on the enemy. In many cases, this means, if the terrain will mask you from enemy observation, you need to sprint to a more favorable position. Speed is your friend, as long as the enemy isn't shooting directly at you!)
a. crawling: this may be required when the assault team faces intense enemy fire and has little cover. Individuals use either the low crawl or high crawl, depending on their individual situation and the requirement for speed (in my experience, if you are taking fire from enemy small-arms, the intrinsic human need to hug the earth trumps any need for speed. The high crawl generally gets relegated to those times when the enemy hasn't spotted your assault element yet, and a short rush would draw their attention). Individuals should be ready to place fire on the enemy at any time they are not actively moving (movement still occurs at the buddy team level, so each buddy should be covering his partner's movement). If necessary, the assault element may move all the way to and through the enemy position using the crawl method.
b. short rushes: fire and maneuver may be employed when using this method. Assault teams may advance using individual short rushes (generally even shorter than 3-5 seconds...2-3 seconds is more realistic here..."I'm up...he sees me...I'm down..." becomes, "I'm up/he sees me/I'm down!") between intermittent positions of cover, or simply to avoid accurate enemy fire.
c. single rush: should rarely be used. It should be limited to: when the squad is receiving effective indirect fire, in which case immediate effective movement is necessary to prevent the team from being destroyed completely, or as the final maneuver to clear the objective, when there is no effective cover available for further protected movement forward. The squad uses the rush by standing up and moving directly to the enemy position, as quickly as possible, firing at known, suspected, or likely enemy individual positions, as it moves. This does NOT mean a parade-ground, Napoleanic-era line of advance. Instead, it refers to a staggered, and well-spread out line of advance that allows all members of the team to bring effective fires to bear on the objective as they clear it. Movement must be rapid (damned near a sprint, and certainly a run), and accompanied by a heavy volume of fire, to make up for the lack of suppressive fire by the now-lifted fires from the support-by-fire element. The assault should be conducted over a short distance (certainly inside 50 yards, and more probably within 25 yards...CQM ranges), and concentrated where the enemy's defenses can be quickly over-run.
Control of Organic Fires. It is absolutely critical that fires be heavy enough to suppress the enemy. Although the pre-1950 doctrine of 30 rounds per second is a solid standard to strive for, the tactical situation may demand a much higher volume of fire. It would be fatal however, to allow the suppressive fire to use all of the SBF element's ammunition before the assault element could even get in place to begin its assault. Team leaders MUST guide and control the rate-of-fire and the targeting of the organic fires of their elements to maximize the benefits of suppressive fires.
Teamwork, control, and leadership. A team or squad without teamwork and leader control is nothing more than a mob with firearms, running amok. Success depends on the level of teamwork and control within the element. Methods of control are generally established by SOP. They may include hand-and-arm signals, verbal commands, whistles (a personal favorite), pyrotechnics (smoke in the day, flares at night), radio communications, and a "do-as-you-see-me-doing" style of leadership (another personal favorite). Once the SOPs are established, only consistent, regular, disciplined training and practice will develop teamwork. Thorough teamwork training should cover reaction to as many different potential battlefield situations as possible. If a member of the element loses contact with his team leader or Ranger buddy, his intense training should provide him the guidance he needs to remember what he is supposed to do. It is the element leader's responsibility to maintain the control and leadership of his team in all situations.
Task: Conduct a Local Security Patrol
Conditions: Given an unconventional warfare element of 4-10 personnel, and a mission to conduct a local security patrol.
Standards: Conduct a local security patrol so that a)the patrol is organized, briefed, and equipped as necessary, IAW METT-TC, b) the patrol plan is developed to meet the mission requirements, and c) the patrol accomplishes the mission requirements.
The most common type of security patrol for an UW element will be to provide local area security by reconnoitering possible, likely, and/or suspected avenues of enemy approach, gaps in LP/OP security, and areas that cannot be observed otherwise, due to dead space/etc. This type of patrol is intended to prevent hostile forces from infiltrating the guerrilla base area and launching surprise attacks.
Conduct planning and preparation in accordance with normal troop-leading procedures (if you don't own a copy of SH21-76 Ranger Handbook, get on Amazon right the fuck now and order one...if you can't find it, you're not trying hard enough, but the 1992 edition of FM7-8 will suffice).
Mission: The local area commander, or the team leader, in the absence of a local area commander, will normally designate points, possible routes, and specific areas to be reconnoitered by the patrol. These should be determined using the OAKOC (observation and fields of fire, avenues of approach, key and decisive terrain, obstacles, and cover and concealment). (Too often, people in the "militia" movement focus on their preconceived notions of what unconventional warfare means, and completely disregard the fundamentals of conventional light-infantry operations. I've repeated it ad nauseum, but guerrilla warfare is nothing more than conventional small-unit tactics, conducted by irregular paramilitary forces. If you can't learn and master the fundamentals of conventional SUT, you're going to be fucked trying to play Gus the Guerrilla Man). The local security patrol should focus on avoiding contact if possible, instead trying to limit its actions to watching for and reporting enemy or terrain information. Only in specific instances should the guerrilla local security force allow itself to engage with enemy troops (generally limited to harassing fire/far ambush type engagements, used solely to prevent the enemy from accessing/controlling key terrain features until a quick-reaction force can arrive to decisively engage and destroy the enemy incursion, or as a delaying action while the guerrilla base is abandoned).
Organization: Because of the limited range and firepower necessary for local security patrolling, the number of personnel should be kept limited to the bare essentials (generally no more than 4-6 personnel). This allows for enough personnel to effectively bring fires to bear to allow the patrol to break contact in the event of an unintentional contact, while also preventing the patrol leader from being tempted to engage when he shouldn't.
General organization. Ideally, any reconnaissance patrol should consist of, minimally, a headquarters element (PL and RTO), a security element (point man and rear security man), and a reconnaissance element (buddy team). For the UW role, this can be reduced, if necessary, utilizing the HQ element as the reconnaissance element (generally, it's better trying to stick to the 6-man team format however).
Special Teams. Because of the minimalist organization of the local security patrol, and it's extremely limited mission scope, special teams, such as PW handling teams, litter teams, and demolitions are not necessary.
Selection of personnel for the local security patrol should focus on team integrity, whenever possible. If a squad or team must be broken up, for whatever reason, buddy team integrity must be maintained.
Patrol Plan: The patrol leader should tailor his scheme of maneuver to fit the mission requirements. Standard area and zone reconnaissance techniques may need to be modified to fit the terrain. For example, in alpine or urban built-up areas, it may be conducive to patrol the military crest of ridges overlooking the deadspace in valleys, rather than walking through valleys, or along rooftops, to avoid street-level confrontations.
Contingency Plans: Due to his extremely limited organic capabilities, the patrol leader must be extremely cautious in responding to enemy contact. The patrol must focus on stealth and avoiding or breaking contact whenever possible. Supporting fires from nearby LP/OPs and/or QRF elements at the guerrilla base headquarters must be available and planned for. In the event the enemy force contacted is small enough and the elements of surprise and fire superiority can be assured, then then PL may elect to conduct a hasty ambush, but only after reporting intelligence information to the guerrilla base headquarters element.
Somewhere in the mountains