Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tactical Dilemmas

As promised I will start this post with the much awaited after action review of Cabot Welchlin's fire arms class.

Later in the blog we will discuss tactical competency further.
For now just understand that Tactical Training + Operational Experience = Tactical Competency

Cabot is one of those very rare Instructors, that not only is very skilled, but has also used these skills in the field.

On top of that he is able to pass on that hard earned information in a way that even the most inexperienced can understand.

Marksmanship is a fundamental and necessary skill.  However, there is a vast difference between marksmanship and gun fighting.

Cabot has the tactical competency to teach gun fighting.

There are no advanced skills, there is just further mastery of the basics.  There are best practices, there are ways the best in the world (people with the highest tactical competency) do things.  Not because they look cool, or that is how their instructor told them to do it, or to be different from other Instructors.  Rather things that have the highest probability for success.  When you boil that all down the most high speed folks out there are very good at the basics.

Cabot has that rare skill to be able to watch some one shoot, asses, make a few adjustments and help the student attain a mastery of the basics.  A process that otherwise could take 1000's of rounds and training hours to accomplish, and has as high of a chance to ingrain negative habits as it does to increase proficiency.

The best review I can give is from direct example.  Amy (pictured above) for all intents and purposes has no firearms experience.  She was in a class filled with Police Officers, Tactical Team Members, Competitive Shooters, and Firearms Enthusiasts.

That could make anyone nervous / self conscious.  Much less a young woman visiting from a different country.

Her first time on the line she was not only off target, but off paper, off the backer.  No real data to receive feed back from.  Cabot adjusted a few things.  Still off paper.  Cabot assessed her fundamentals, stance, grip, trigger press, all seemed solid.  That left sight picture.  Amy and Cabot got that squared up and progress followed quickly.

In fact in less than 3 hours Amy went from literally not being able to hit the broad side of a barn to successfully completing a course of fire consisting of engaging  a threat at contact range, moving to cover, engaging another target from behind cover using her non dominant hand, and culminating with a third hostage rescue target requiring hip girdle and head shots with out hitting the Teddy bear hostage stapled to the target.  Under time pressure.  Amy scored in the high 90% and successfully saved the hostage within the time allotted.

Very impressive on Amy's part.  Equally impressive of Cabot to help her get there.
Amy went from nervous and apprehensive to confident and having fun. (See the above picture "Merica! Pew! Pew!)

The first time Cabot and I ran this class for civilians was last fall when Maija Soderholm was in town working on a project for Somico Knives.  Here is her review of the training:

I have a long background in martial arts especially sword arts, and the basic principle behind them is that of movement. Because of this, the idea of spending time standing behind a counter firing at stationary targets begun to sound rather like riding a stationary bicycle - good exercise, but really nothing to do with what a bicycle was designed to do. 

But how do you safely step into more real world firearm training?
Firearms are lethal weapons and must be treated with safety as the primary concern. Hence it is imperative to find an experienced teacher to lead the class.
Fortuitously I was invited to participate in a day of training with Cabot Welchlin, firearms instructor for the SWAT team of Ramsey County and himself a retired leader of the team.

During the course of the day Cabot assessed our abilities, our weaknesses, and our ability to follow instructions to stay safe, and over the course of 6 hours took us from standing and firing to moving and firing, transitioning from standing to kneeling to lying down, to running, firing from cover, moving from cover to cover, and changing magazines and firing left and right handed.
It truly was an awesome day. I learned an enormous amount about myself, and the gaps in my practice, and felt my skills improved exponentially to be something that are of real use. There was even homework to take away to keep the skills we were developing sharp.

As a Brit living in the US, I thought it would be good to become familiar with firearms, and after having spent a some time at the range shooting with friends' guns, eventually ended up with my own.
I now feel I have the confidence to use it if necessary. Something that was not true before my time training with Cabot.

Stay tuned to this blog for future training opportunities with Cabot (Chameleon Survival)

After those adventures I was fortunate to be able to attend the NTOA tactical team leader school.

The class was taught by AJ and Jeff
Great class, fantastic Instructors.  At the beginning of each successive day we were asked what our take away (or one thing that stuck with us) from yesterday was.  Hmmm, who else does that?
My three primary take aways from the class were principle based SWAT, manipulating human performance, and being my brother's keeper

My goal with this post is to share these take aways in a manner that is useful for anyone reading.

Principle based SWAT

I have written about principle based training, especially in regard to personal protection and martial arts.  So what is principle based SWAT?

Tactical dilemma
Every time I write something like this I have to balance what open source information I am willing to share vs what I think everyone should know.

I am willing to share this because it will not compromise anyone's security and with recent events including everybody on social media somehow becoming experts on active shooter incidents, Law Enforcement, and Tactical Operations I feel it is necessary to get this information out.

If all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.
If all you have is one go to tactic you use for everything regardless of the varying circumstances, things will end poorly.

If you are in a fair fight that means your tactics suck

"Aint no such thing as a fair fight with a Marine"

That does not mean you put yourself at a disadvantage because you are so badass you can take 'em
even when every thing is stacked in the threat's favor.

Principle based SWAT is having multiple tactics and using the right tool for the right job.
Stacking things in your favor.

How do you determine the right tactic / tool?


Priorities of life
Intelligence (the fact set you have at the time)

To help clarify lets run through a scenario:

Patrol Officers respond to a call of a domestic assault.  As the Officers approach the door they are confronted by a male with a gun.  He shoots at them and yells if he sees another cop he is going to kill that cheating bitch.  He slams the door shut.  Officers back up to behind cover and establish a perimeter.

What do you know, what is fact set you have at the time?
Male suspect has shown that he is dangerous, has a weapon, and has barricaded himself with a hostage.

What are the priorities of life?
Innocents in immediate danger of death (hostages)
Non involved citizens (people in the area)
Law Enforcement

How does that determine your tactics?

Risk much to save much, risk little to save little, risk nothing to save what is lost.

With a hostage inside you have to have a go team ready to move at a seconds notice based on information they are receiving in the field.  You are willing to send in your people to save the hostage.  They have the authority to move when an opportunity with a reasonable chance of success presents itself or when they feel the risk is justified to save the hostage.  Risk much to save much.

Incidents are ever changing, not stagnant.

In our scenario lets say you have a go team ready, they have contingency plans for what the hostage taker may do.  Negotiations talks him into letting the hostage go.

Now tactics change.

What are the priorities of life?
Innocents in immediate danger of death (hostages) [Hostage was released]
Non involved citizens (people in the area)  [The area has been cleared]
Law Enforcement

Risk little to save little.  It no longer makes sense to risk Law Enforcement lives to go in and get this guy.  Tactics shift to barricaded subject.  You will notice that property is no where on the priorities of life check list.

If you are unable to shift tactics as circumstances change things will end poorly.

If all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.
If all you have is one go to tactic you use for everything regardless of the varying circumstances, things will end poorly.

Well, this hammer has served us well the last 20 years.  We kicked a lot of ass using it.

If any fighter / martial artist brags about his / her record what is the first question you ask?
Who have they fought?

I brag that I am undefeated...against women...under 8 years old.  (See also big fucking deal)

You can use your hammer against lesser threats and be undefeated.
When you use that hammer in a situation in which it is not the correct tool, and use it because that is the only tool you know how to use, against a threat that wants to fight, that is skilled at fighting, that is when you get people killed.

Lets use this as a transition and start shifting to how this is applicable to anyone.

If you want to be successful at social violence (see also being a bully / asshole) you do not have to be very skilled.

Being big and strong helps.  If you want to train, whatever you train in (whatever hammer you use) really doesn't matter because you pick smaller weaker opponents that don't really want to fight you.

So regardless of your method it works 98% of the time...until you tree a bad one.  Until you come across one of the 2%

Someone who can fight, that likes to fight, and now has an excuse to fight

Now your max bench press and strip mall Rex Kwon Do really don't add up to much as you lay on the floor bleeding out wondering what happened.

Terry (pictured above) fits exactly the profile that these asshole / bullies would seek out.  And Terry is most defiantly a 2%er ( I mean that as a compliment).  That would be the worst and possibly the last mistake the asshole  / bully ever makes.

Click HERE  to find out more about Terry

I am in no way saying that Tactical Teams are asshole bullies.  However, I am saying that there are teams that rely heavily on high risk tactics and are unable to adapt.

They (we) have been lucky that they have run those tactics at the 98% (who have you fought?). Those same tactics against a 2%er will get your guys killed.

One of my primary takeaways from the NTOA class was using principle based SWAT tactical planning to explain how and why different tactics can be used and to articulate why high risk tactics are correct choice when circumstances dictate.

How does this relate to folks reading this that may not be tactical team leaders?

The ability to be more than a fighter but a tactician

Be more brilliant

Just a tactical teams use PIE to help make decisions, we as private citizens can use
IMOP or as it makes more sense to me PIMO

Do I have to act?

If you don't have time to ask the question you should already be acting (operant conditioned counter assault response)

If you have time to ask the question you probably don't.  You have discretionary time to plan (brilliant tactician)

Preemption - Do I need to be here?
If you can leave.
If you have a duty to act, or other legitimate reason you can't leave is the threat immediate?

In order to be an immediate threat, an individual must display (and you must be able to clearly articulate how you knew) three things:

Intent is the desire to do something - "I'm going to fuck you up!"
It does not to have to be as obvious as that.
Humans have been communicating with body language far before the spoken word existed.
We are very good at reading intent through body language, but often we have trouble articulating that process

The threat must have the ability to carry out intent.

 A person threatening to shoot you must have a gun to be an immediate threat, for instance.

The threat must be able to reach you with the means.

If those conditions exists (the fact set as you know them the time) force is justified.

What Level of Force?

“You are expected and required to use the minimum level of force that you reasonably believe will safely resolve the situation.”

Risk much to save much, risk little to save little, risk nothing to save what is lost.
Anything you allow to go physical has the potential to go lethal.
Check your priorities of life.
Is this worth killing or dying over?
(You will notice property is not on the priorities of life)

How to decide what tactic will safely resolve the situation is a broad enough topic that it deserves a post in and of itself.


There is training available 

Click HERE to sign up today

My point being against a 2 %er, against asocial violence, or against a threat that gives you no other option but to go physical (it is social for the threat but asocial to you such as a status seeking show)
You need to be a tactician.  You have to have operational diciplines that allow you to match a tactic to the circumstances at hand. (Not just a hammer)

Otherwise at best you are just a fighter.

If you get out maneuvered by the threat they can make all your fighting skills and physical abilities worthless.

Your max bench press and (enter whatever you like here) really don't add up to much as you lay on the floor bleeding out wondering what happened.
Be more brilliant.

Manipulating human performance.

On this blog, and in training I often refer to the OODA loop


A model used to explain how the brain takes in information and what is physiologically necessary for the body to act on that information.

One of my take aways from the class was how to better stack the odds in my favor, and how to diminish the threat's ability to harm me.

It was drilled into us that you only move as fast as you can accurately shoot you can make good decisions.  Team leaders get paid to communicate, make decisions, and listen.

Everyone has heard slow is smooth and smooth is fast.  Sounds cool but what does that really mean?
"Slow" allows you to process information in smaller batches.  For example dealing with 1/8 of a room at a time is "slower" than dealing with all of the room at once.

However, your brain can fully process that 1/8th "smoothly" because there is less information to take in.  Less information to process quickly = better decision making.

Because you are processing less information "smoothly" you can move from Observe to Act much "faster".

Even though this may feel slower, reaction time is faster, than jerkily trying to process too much information all at one time (compressed time and space) and make a good decision.  Especially against an ambush.  All the threat has to do is Act.

So professionally this made me look for more tactics that allow my team to maximize their information processing ability.  Doorway assessments, observation boxes etc...

In regard to personal protection it reinforced the need for Counter Assault training.  Conditioning that allows you to skip Orient and Decide and go directly to Act.

The flip side of that is creating tactical dilemmas for the threat.

Doing several different repeated things that keep resetting the threat to Observe and Orient. Overwhelming the threats ability to process information.  Keeping the threat from Acting in anyway that can be used to harm you.

"Buffet of pain" I don't start trouble.  If you force me to put my hands on you every thing I do is going to hurt you until you are made safe / no longer a threat.

Manipulating the edge of human performance.  Maximizing my ability to process information and act.  Overwhelming the threat with so many tactical dilemmas their ability to process information is distinctly diminished causing them to freeze.

Stacking the odds in my favor.

For more information on human performance, especially as it relates to decision making under combat stress please click HERE  to check out the Force Science Institute

Dr. William Lewinski - Force Science Institute

I am my brother's keeper
A major part of the NTOA class was after action reviews of some criminal incidents that required tactical operations to resolve.

The Instructors reviewed incidents they were involved in.  Events that years latter are still emotionally raw.  I thank those Instructors for doing that.  It can't be easy, but through their efforts the already high standard is being raised.  The probability of successful resolution becomes increased.

They bear that burden.

It was also discussed that if you take on a leadership role, that your burden increases as well.
Not only to have your people trained, not only to lead them in the field, but to have their back.  To help with their mental well being after an incident.

You are your brother's keeper.  You owe it to him to do everything possible to ensure he survives the incident, and everything that comes along after.

Which leads me to....
Another tactical dilemma.  Do I go there?  Do I have the moral courage to speak up when it is far easier to be quiet?

Well...I have never been known for being quiet.

With recent events in the media, more specifically the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando, everyone has an opinion, and everyone is an expert.

Unless you were there, you don't know.
Unless you have taken part in a hostage rescue operation, you don't know.
If the only information you have is from the media YOU DON'T KNOW!

So, if you don't know, sincerely and with all due respect, shut the fuck up.

Hostage rescue is one of the most difficult operations there is.  Successful resolution pushes the limits of human performance.  The best of the best in the world are tasked with it.  The people with the highest tactical competency.  Teams that have the best training, and highest operational tempo. Groups like GSG 9 in Germany.  These types of operations is what Delta was made for.  But America has The Posse Comitatus Act limiting the powers of Government in using federal military personnel to enforce domestic policies within the United States.

I don't want this to get political or to debate the "militarization" of Law Enforcement.

Where I am going with this is I want to make the point that hostage rescue is a very difficult task.
For the sake of argument lets liken it to surgery.  A specific surgery where a team of Surgeons are tasked with removing a malignant tumor.  If they even nick anything but the tumor the patient will die.  If the Surgeon doesn't remove the tumor precisely some how the tumor can release a toxin that will kill the Surgeon.  Now lets say that the tumor can also somehow move.

No one reading about this very difficult and dangerous surgery at home from the comfort of their couch the next day is going to get online and write something like - Well I carve the turkey for the family on Thanksgiving so I know a lil something something about this.  Those Surgeons did it all wrong, they should have have used a #7 scalpel and cut proximally across the femoral artery ...

But that is exactly what is happening.

It happened after Columbine.
There is stuff about Columbine that the general public doesn't know all these years latter.  Basically because so very easily things could have gone so much worse.

But because the general public doesn't know the facts, the responding officer's actions have been judged with out knowing what information they had at the time.

Some have gone so far as to call these guys "The Cowards of Columbine"

Can you imagine going through that, then being called a coward for your actions?

Then the "experts" come out and pontificate on how they would have done things.
Based on information that was not available during the incident.
Based on incorrect or false information.

There are still plenty of experts teaching active shooter response classes based on, and using video from the library at Columbine.

Well, guess what?  The only cameras in the entire shcool at the time were in the lunch room.
Any video from the library was from a training exercise made after the incident.

What happened to the responding Officers at Columbine is bullshit.  Lets not let that happen to the guys from Orlando

We are our brother's keepers

Remember principle based SWAT.  There are tactics that are appropriate for active shooter.  Tactics that all Officers are capable of accomplishing.  When the circumstances change.  Switch from active shooter to a barricaded hostage rescue situation the tactics must also change.  Things that worked well for an active shooter response will get the hostages shot.
Hostage rescue is the zenith of tactical operations.  Not all officers are capable of doing it.  You want the people with the highest tactical competency working to resolve it.  You have to be prepared to move if the shooting starts again or an opportunity presents itself but until that happens you want to get your best assets, your greatest chance for success in place before further engagement takes place.

So again,

Unless you were there, you don't know.
Unless you have taken part in a hostage rescue operation, you don't know.
If the only information you have is from the media YOU DON'T KNOW!

And if you don't know feel free to keep your opinions to yourself.

How does this apply to martial arts or personal protection?

Be the best at what you are.  Don't claim or try to be something you are not.
Don't be that guy.
Don't be the guy that tries to capitalize on tragedy

Click HERE to watch Clint Overland's reaction to this video

Don't be the guys that uses "the trending" of tragic events to bolster his / her name recognition by giving advice on how to do it better.

Lastly, if you truly believe you can do it better.  Put on your big boy / big girl pants and apply for a profession that puts you in a position to do it better as the incident is happening.  Where you can actually save lives.

If not, maybe take some of the time and energy you were going to spend critiquing the event to thank the people that were there doing the best they could with the information and resources they had at the time

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

No comments:

Post a Comment