21st Apr2012

Military Fitness and Movement Training

by A.J.

Military Fitness EntrySo There You Are…

(Video Below)

You just left the last covered and concealed position moving to the breach point. After a short pregnent pause your breacher has set the charge on the door and the commander has initiated the breach. If the clanking sound of all you equipment didn’t wake up the house you are pretty sure the water impulse charge packed with det chord and c-4 did. As you move through the smokey threshold where the door used to be you catch a look at the HVT (high value target) he looks at you as you look at his hands to see if you can end this operation with 5.56 millimeters of lead and hate, unarmed he turns and runs out the back and your team pursues. In his man-jamas he clears a 6 foot wall no problem the breacher stands on a planter and can clear the far side from where he is and you get the order to follow; what is going to get you over that wall? Your strength? your cardio? Is it something about you military fitness?

Military Fitness Has Three Major Parts

We have all talked about the compromise between cardio and strength training when we are trying to hone in our military fitness but, I think those are only two pieces of the puzzle and without the third you may be missing the boat. The third part of military fitness IMHO is movement training. Functional strength is all the rage these days and you can’t talk about fitness without someone saying “Crossfit” but the fact of the matter is you are never going to power clean on the battle field but, you may have to climb a wall or pull yourself out of a burning humvee. This is not a hit on functional training which is super important, but if you have a greater respect for movement training when you are done reading this post and watching the video (below) I think you will have gained something for your time.

Military Fitness Chart

Military Fitness and Movement

As you see here for military tasks it was the finding of this group that mobility was of the highest priority

 

The term Mobility refers to your ability to move your body and negotiate it in space and time I like the term movement better because for me mobility means driving.

What is Movement Training for Military Fitness?

Movement training should contain bodyweight drills like push-ups and pull ups, but a regimen in movement training like you will get from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Yoga can not be replaced. Obstacle courses can also offer a huge training value for movement but,  it can be difficult to get out to a real obstacle course often enough to get some advantage from it. You can train your movement and agility just using your environment from trees and walls. The video below was built to give an example of some functional movement training while adding a specific technique to clear walls for CQB and CQC.

In the above video it is clear that strength and cardio is much less emphasized and in its place is flexibility, agility and technique to accomplish the task. By having the movement skill to get over the wall you require much less energy and strength plus as a bonus you can keep a lower silhouette that provides a much smaller target to the enemy than a very difficult press up would make.

Thanks For Stopping By

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17th Mar2012

The Principles of CQB

by A.J.

Speed, Surprise, Violence of Action

Lately we have been taking a look at CQB to try to educate/review some of the basic premises for military operators and tactical athletes. We decided to make a post dedicated to the most basic parts of CQB so in future installments we could delve deeper and not have to catch guys up as we go. This post will seem pretty basic to some of the people out there but, I think a review can do everyone some good sometimes. To win at CQB there are three pillars or principles that should be adhered to. The three pillars of CQB are of course:

1. Speed

2. Surprise

3. Violence of Action

 

Why discuss the  Principals of CQB?

CQB

I am not really sure why a team would want to be this close. How easy do you think it is to "sneak" 8 guys up to a breach point in the day time. If they were moving fast they should have no time to get ducks in a row. What is the number one man waiting for? Plus the last man is covering where they came from instead of the threat corner.

There is some confusion about the three principles and to be honest There isn’t a lot of consensus about what is the exact best way to apply these pillars. Police  tend to have their own play book and the military guys another but, that being said there are definitely places where we meet in the middle. I am going to give you my take on it and as usual I am going to make the disclaimer that these are only the opinions of the TacticalAthleticPerformance.com advisory board and you have to make the determination for your team what is right for you.

Speed

Speed is probably the most misunderstood principal because it does not mean an operator must run from one point in the objective to the next. Speed is a nuanced idea that the team should waste no time and give the enemy as little time as possible to prepare for the assault team. Recently, I was training with a long time friend of mine whose tactical prowess I respect a great deal and when we were doing some training he said: “well let’s just start off real slow, and back it off from there.” The quote really stuck with me because it showed a great deal of insight into CQB training and execution. Often times we get so excited and adrenaline overloaded that we tend to move way too fast and get ahead of our headlights, which in the long run slows the operation.

 ”Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”

                                           -every tactical instructor on earth

CQC Thailand

A couple years ago I was training the Thai Special Forces, and when I said "speed" they heard "run." I remember this hit not going so well. LOL

The reality (or at least how we see it) is that slow can be smooth and smooth can be fast, but slow isn’t fast. I recently looked up whether slow was defined as fast and for some reason Mr. Webster didn’t think so. Speed is the end goal, not “FAST”, now this may be a semantic argument but, the principles aren’t: fast, surprise and violence of action; so my suggestion is to just get fast out of your vocabulary (fast happens all on its own). Speed on the other hand is a product of the economy of motion. By moving smoothly and deliberately you will be able to clear an objective much more quickly and efficiently than you could by running through the objective, blowing off threats and generally acting like a spaz (which is my personal pet peeve). A deliberate (not to be confused with deliberate technique) approach that has good economy of motion will maintain the initiative and give the enemy less opportunity to prepare for the assault team. So if you get anything out of this section it would be that your team needs to be methodical, masterful and economical; which will provide all the “speed” you need.

 

Surprise

I know we have all seen the movies where the SWAT team simultaneously breaches every window of a building by repelling off the roof and putting an officer in a circular perimeter around the inside of the room before the enemy knows what is going on. Aside from the fact that I am not a fan of the circular ambush, the principal of surprise is definitely a big part of the hollywood infil and for good reason. When you are able to surprise the opposition force you can get ahead of their internal decision-making process, which many people describe as the OODA loop. The OODA loop which was first described by Col. Boyd of the U.S. Air Force is the theoretical decision-making process that we all must use before we carry out an action. Observe, Orient, Decide and Act is a constantly moving process the enemy must make to engage your assault force and by surprising the op-4 (opposition force) you can short-circuit the process and gain great advantage. Once we agree that surprise is important we then need to develop a plan that gives us the ability to maintain surprise and though I am not including an exhaustive list we can hit some of the big stuff.

When your team gets to decide what time to attack be sure to use a time that gives you the biggest advantage (and is when the enemy is the least alert). If you know the lights in a target turn off at a certain time I would suggest hitting that target about 45-70 minutes later which gives your enemy an opportunity to not only get to sleep but, to enter the deepest most restful sleep from which he will be the most disoriented when woke up. One problem with night-time is that it generally makes it more difficult to approach the target without being heard ( I can barely walk around my room in the dark without knocking something over). On the other hand peak traffic time may provide the noise pollution your team needs to gain access undetected. Surprise can also be manufactured by the use of flash bangs that create a disorienting effect with percussion, or even an explosive breach can elicit the same response. The police often send a guy in a pizza delivery  outfit to get the door open and quickly make entry, this works because the op-4 has pizza on the brain and the next thing he sees badges and guns in his face totally short circuiting the OODA loop. To use surprise effectively you need to avoid patterns and constantly change your team’s techniques, if the bad guy is in the back room and he hears you bang every room and then make entry; he will be waiting for the bang before he starts firing at the fatal funnel. Change entry points, tempo and tools to keep an advantage. Never get into the mindset that what worked yesterday is going to work today, CQB is a thinking man’s game so get your team able to flex from one TTP to the next. Have multiple tactics that you use and change them depending on the METT-TC. Remember surprise can come from many different aspects of the assault including timing, distraction, misdirection, decoy or any number of other tools, your mind is the only limit so plan a few mock training iterations and make it a point to get your guys thinking outside of the box.

Violence of Action

CQBVoA insures that the team maintains the initiative by kicking in doors and being generally aggressive. Keep both mental and physical momentum through action and combat mindset. Hesitation is the enemy of VoA so drill often to insure that all team members are “switched on” and ready to execute. It is amazing how often the first person to realize they are in a fight, wins the fight because acting first carries a huge prize for the carrier. Violence of Action also can demoralize the enemy and sometimes get them to surrender without the need for a shooter’s solution. VoA is maintained by refusing to let complicated CQB problems bog down the team, I have watched many teams (from the catwalk in training) literally stand in a room planning the way to hit the next room, by the time you are on the objective the planning phase has passed just get out there and execute. If your team has to discuss the correct way to cross a four-way intersection then obviously you need to take it back to the drawing board and et your SOPs squared away before you should spend any time in the shoot house. Remember an average plan well executed is better than a perfect plan, not executed.

 

Conclusion

Thanks for reading to the end, you are a rock star. I am going to give away a free tee shirt to one person who comments on this post and enters the drawing, here is how to enter:CQC

1. Read post (done). 25% complete

2. Post comment that says “issue me a free tee” (also go to the TAP Store and pick the one you want and include in comment)

3. Share this post on your social network of choice (like or plus or whatever).

4. When we have 50 comments (mine don’t count) I am going to pick one random person and send a Tee Shirt.

Thanks again, and be sure to subscribe by putting in your email in the “subscribe” section to the right so you don’t miss any new posts.

 

 

 

11th Mar2012

Taking Corners In CQB and CQC

by A.J.

TTPs METT-TC and CQB

Recently we put up a post on 10 Mistakes in CQB and the response we  received was great but, a common response was; well if Corners CQB

those are mistakes then what should we do?” This is a complex question to which there is no universally accepted answer. CQB is multifaceted and dynamic but what will remain true are that TTP (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) utilized should always be METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops/Support, Time available, Civilians) dependent. Unfortunately, as is typical in life, each situation is distinct and will require it’s own best solution. This article is made to help give you the tools needed to develop your best solution for a future CQB. The Tactical Athletic Performance advisory board does not claim to have the ultimate, best solution for every situation; the information presented are helpful tips to help point in the right direction. We are not Jedi Masters and never claimed to be. That being said, we believe there are some “best practices” we find useful. If it brings one soldier home to their wife and children that otherwise wouldn’t, then it would make this entire site and perhaps our entire existence worth it. If you have another opinion, that is great! Disagreement forces us to expand our perspective. Furthermore, it helps us to understand the logic behind techniques and not just techniques in it of itself. In fact, I have received great insight from questions posed from trainees. Therefore, any disagreement you may have will gladly be entered into the comment section and respected as valid. Sorry for the long disclaimer but we want help our brethren, not step on any toes.


The Two Ways To Take Corners

CQC dynamic corner

The techniques used in the movies are either okay or down right hilarious

When negotiating corners there are generally two basic categories all techniques fall under and those categories are dynamic and deliberate. Taking a corner dynamically “the way they generally do it in the movies” has advantages and disadvantages but, generally places speed over security. That being said when in a smaller more maneuverable force your speed can help increase your security but that doesn’t mean you can blow off common sense because you are running. A deliberate technique relies more heavily on angles, cover and “slowly” taking on only as much as you can deal with at a single time. Deliberate techniques can be very useful if you are getting ready to enter a danger area that you know can easily require more assets than you have available to provide.

When Would I Use One Over The Other?

Generally speaking the way your team approaches and chooses to take a corner is going to be driven by SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and METT-TC, though   on my team there is a spectrum of priority that tends to drive the MDMP (Military Decision Making Process). If a smaller element is required to take a corner where time is not a factor and survivability can be increased by a deliberate technique then generally that would be the choice utilized. If a larger element (full stick or complete team) is required to take a corner and any of the following situations are factors then a dynamic technique will most likely be used, those factors are: time sensitive mission requirements may be materially affected by a “slower” approach, if the mission completion is more important than the survivability of the force or if a tactical advantage can be garnered with a dynamic technique.

Techniques, Not Tactics

Unfortunately, because this is an open source I specifically do not include tactics that can provide value to the enemy but I do provide individual techniques that can increase the capacity of the end using operator, which in conjunction with proper training and tactics can be of value. I know that there are plenty of open source tactics out there and the argument can be made that so long as it isn’t classified I can talk about it, but in the interest of prudence we have decided to just not open that can of worms.

Torso Articulation and Slicing The Pie

Torso Articulation is an individual movement technique that allows an assaulter to twist the upper body and place the only the weapon system and the aiming system (operators head and eyes) into a danger zone. Torso articulation can be done both deliberately and dynamically but generally has its greatest value when used in conjunction with a dynamic tactic. A quick torso articulation can be done in a smooth fluid movement that provides the opposition force with very little time to react and the assaulter with the most possible cover and concealment while continuing to move to clear the threat. Slicing the pie or “pieing” is a more deliberate technique that combines many smaller movements and can be somewhat slower but provide with greater control over threat areas when in a smaller unit with limited security assets. Below we have included a short video that should illustrate the two movement techniques.

Pieing off in CQC

Slicing the pie

The Video

This Video was made under a tremendous time crunch because I had to get back before my wife got out of bed so you may be required to suspend your apprehension and give us the benefit of the doubt. The engagement sequence you see may be questionable but, the chosen sequences utilized were done so for good reason and if you have a question please don’t hesitate to ask, often though the sequence may seem counter intuitive it was done so for the sake of the drill or due to how the individual technique fits into the over arching tactics which are beyond the scope of this discussion.

 

You Guys Are Great

I would like to thank you guys who make it worth while to put this site out there, over the past year I have derived great joy from developing this community and appreciate your continued involvement. Please help add to the conversation with your tips and experiences, when I publish some new post I consider it the beginning of the conversation not the final word so get your social network involved with the share buttons on the bottom. As usual I would ask that if you haven’t done so already subscribe to the site by filling out the subscribe button to the right and never miss another post. Just a reminder the links in the right are affiliate links and anything you buy through them will help support great charities like the Green Beret Foundation and the Special Operations Foundation so since you are going to buy supplements and ammo anyway you might as well use these links to bodybuilding.com and Brownells.com for the best prices and service, thanks for reading and we hope to see you again soon.

23rd Feb2012

Ten Mistakes That Will Get You Killed in CQB

by A.J.

Avoid These Mistakes and Survive Your Next Mission

I recently got back from a training iteration for work and I noticed that a lot of us kept making the same simple mistakes so I decided to make a list of ten of them so we can avoid them and strengthen the force. I decided to leave out the obvious stuff like “fatal funnels” and not digging corners but instead included some of the big stuff that doesn’t get as much attention.

disclaimer: I have no egoic investment in being the greatest CQB warrior on the planet. I know there are hundreds of guys out there who have forgotten more about CQB than I will ever know, but that being said, I think I am a pretty good teacher and I feel I have enough training, instruction experience, and combat experience to talk intelligently on the subject. Also I have taken great pains to exclude any classified information or non-open source intel so as to not give away any TTPs that you can not find on ‘Youtube’ or the like. Please take this as a guide and not doctrine and if you think something I put out violates common sense or is just plain wrong feel free to throw it out cause heaven knows I have no problem blowing off bad tactics myself. Also I am not talking about other people exclusively, I have made most if not all of these mistakes myself not only in training but, also in combat.

Close Quarters CombatWhat is CQB?

CQB for those who aren’t familiar with the term stands for Close-Quarters-Battle or Close-Quarters-Combat and in the grand scheme of things I think it falls somewhere between combat from street corner to street corner, to hand-to-hand fighting. I would say if you think you can engage accurately in combat using your pistol with a high degree of precision then you are in CQB range.

The following is a short (not exhaustive) list of mistakes I regularly see guys make in CQB with hopefully a few gems to improve combat skills and tactics.

10. Hesitation

The confused look you see in the eyes of your buddies when he decides whether to go or stay is an indicator that he has reached his mental or physical capacity to solve the CQB problem. At its root CQB is about angles, opportunity and percentages. Not every tactic works in every situation and often times you can do the exact right thing and take a round to the trauma plate anyway. The CQB skills are based on the most likely course of action you need to take to have the highest chance of survivability and it is not a 100% solution because nothing is. So the question becomes, can you mentally negotiate the problem at a speed that provides the highest success rate. Often times for guys who are new to the tactics the answer is, “no” and when this happens there is an introduction of hesitation that gives the opposition force advantage.

I feel the solution is multifaceted, but starts with repetition of SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) and making sure everyone is dancing to the same sheet of music. Having a well established and planned SOP before you get out to the training site is imperative, making sure everyone understands those SOP’s  intellectually will save hours in the glass house or shoot house. Secondly I think some mental rehearsal just prior to execution of an IMT (Individual Movement Technique) can greatly speed the learning process. If you are beyond the training environment you may simply have to move the offending team member to a location in the stack to where he is no longer in a position to slow the flow. This removal should be done in a non judgemental way and used as a training tool and not a means of ridicule or you will create an environment where failure is so feared that no one will have the courage to do anything.

9. Rabbiting/One-Man Room Clearing

Rabbiting is a situation where the number one man starts off so fast that no one has the time to catchup conversely a one-man room clear is when the number two-man just plan drops the ball and sends the number one man off into danger areas alone. The reaction time of a bad guy in a room is very fast and it should be within that time that number two-man is able to get in and provide support. If number one man runs into a danger area and doesn’t give two-man a chance to catch up it can be very bad and conversely if number two-man sort of gets behind the power curve  and allows number one man to go it alone there can be dire consequences.

“NEVER ENGAGE IN A FAIR FIGHT”

-ME

 

Number one man needs to recognize that the guys behind him have to react to his movement before they can go so moving at below normal combat speed can mitigate that break in contact. Number two-man has to be on the ball, he needs to have the situational awareness that number one man can’t get, number two-man needs to be ready to go and support his number one man.

Room Clearing Sometimes Involves Chemlights8. Chemlights Don’t Pull Security

Okay I know this sounds dumb, but I see it all the time. Often when an assault team clears a room they will mark the room with a Chemlight to let others know that friendlies have cleared it already, or so they know the status of that room. If for some reason you lose eyes on that “cleared” room and have to pass it again to get out of the structure or to conduct a secondary search you need to re clear that room. The Chemlight is glowing because it is full of Predator blood but what it is not doing is keeping that room safe. Any number of things can happen when your team leaves the room, so if you need to go by or reenter that room be sure to respect the threat.

7. Find a Hole Fill a Hole

Like I said earlier, CQB is a solution to a very complex problem, to include the angles, levels and shooter’s solutions; be flexible enough to fill in the blanks. If you see a team-mate drop a threat or blow off an important danger area do not stop the operation to argue about what he should have done, just do your part to fix the omission.  Many structures provide overwhelming threats and you arguing about who should do what will jeopardize your security and could cost you your life.  So if you find a hole in the team security posture or a hole in mission tasks just fill the hole. If you find yourself standing in the middle of a structure or threat area with nothing to do then, do it quick and go pull security.

6. Getting So Amped You Loose Your Mind

Combat is stressful and stress will cause an increase in your heart rate, an increased heart rate can cause tunnel vision and tunnel vision will kill you. If you are in a tough scrape and the world looks as if you are viewing it through a toilet paper roll then you need to calm down and get you situational awareness back on line. Take a deep breath do a 360 to make sure you aren’t standing in a window or silhouetting a danger area and take inventory of what is going on. Often when we get amped up we don’t even know it so be sure to monitor your buddies for this kind of behavior.

5. You Don’t Need To Turn Your Head To Talk

This one may not kill you, but it is definitely a pet peeve of mine so I am including it. I know we grew up in a society that really values eye contact and outside of the CQB environment go nuts creeping people out with an icy stare, but in a house if your job is to lock down a crack in the door that sees the hallway please don’t turn to me to tell me you think you see something. Here is an experiment: go to the kitchen with your wife, face away from her so you can’t see her and tell her you are thinking of calling your ex girlfriend to give her make-up tips, if you get hit in the head with a frying pan then you never have to take your eyes off your assigned threat again.

In Combat Training Don't be That Guy4. “Break the Wrist and Walk Away”

If you have spent more than five minutes in the profession you have most likely met this guy. This is the guy who for whatever reason is teaching you and your team about CQB or Shooting or Tactics in general that knows absolutely everything there is to know about armed conflict, just ask him. This guy will get you killed! He is so wrapped up in the idea that he is awesome that he will not answer any questions or explain why he does anything the way he does it. There are a ton of guys that are teaching skills they don’t understand and only teach them because someone told them it was a good technique. Of all the stuff and BS you have to deal with getting this guy out of your training cycle will work wonders for the team. I try very hard to be open-minded and you would be hard pressed to get me in a tactical school where I couldn’t walk away learning something. There are no Jedi knights and no one left their parents on Krypton, so if we all just ratchet it back a bit and ask “WHY do we do it that way?” maybe we can learn something. That being said if you have no idea what is going on just do as your told by someone you trust to lead you.

Aside: I was doing training with a guy for hand-to-hand and when asked why he likes the palm strike so much he said “because I learned all the martial arts in the world and I took out all the stuff that doesn’t work.” This is a guy who when I asked him to spar told me that he “trains to be lethal and doesn’t want to kill me.” My answer to guys like that is “really bro….” (confused look)

3. Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

Here is one I know we have all heard and to my analytical mind I interpret it as Slow=Smooth, Smooth=Fast, therefore Slow=Fast. Well slow isn’t fast in fact “slow” is the opposite of “fast” I looked it up in the dictionary. This is a saying that has floated around for a while and some of the guys I consider legends, who I really respect, who I would pay hundreds of dollars to learn basic skills from say this all the time.

Aside: I don’t think there is a such thing as basic skills and advanced skills I think there are basic skills done well and basic skills done poorly.

Doing skills slowly can provide a smoothness that being a spazz won’t allow, and yes when you see a masterful practitioner do a skill fast it also looks super smooth. I would say that “slow is smooth and speed is a product of the economy of motion.” So to sum it up: don’t be a spazz, do practice your skills, and when you have mastered those skills you should be able to move smoothly and quickly.

2. Speed is Your Only Security

Speed, is one of the basic principles of Close Quarters Combat: Speed, Surprise, and Violence of Action. That being said speed is not the only principle and if you are so worried about going fast that you lose security you are going to have a real problem. Never outrun your headlights, do not think that speed can compensate for poor security. Speed is an enhancer like sugar in your coffee, but you still need the beans and water to make it work. I see guys charge head long into complex scenarios that they have no chance of getting out of. I have made this mistake a ton due to frustration, or fear, or plain stupidity. You can regain the initiative with explosives, gas, distraction or misdirection etc. You do not need to be a team of guys running around like your hair is on fire unless you are trained to be incredibly fast (read this as Tier 1 operator with huge budgets, training apparatus, raw skill, advanced selection and support to execute huge amounts of training in which case you don’t need or want my advice on CQB anyway) So be deliberate, methodical, calculated and competent. If you master the skills speed will happen as a natural byproduct.

1.Playing Pic a Boo With Bad Guys

Great guys get killed because for some reason they decide to engage in a fair fight with the bad guys. Often we will gain entry into the breach point and get a foot hold in a structure, at the same time the bad guys get out of bed and decide to engage us. If we are in the first room let’s say and he is in the far room and he shoots we will go  to a position that provides cover and return fire. If there is a linear danger area separating these two places (read this as hallway, stairwell, etc) we will sit on one side and he will sit on the other and we will play pic a boo together until someone gets hit. This game is deadly, it will kill 50% of the people who play it and it is totally unnecessary. If he is there and you are here do not engage in a fair fight. If you are overseas throw your damn frags at him, use an AT-4, get out the m-203, have someone place a charge on an exterior wall to the room he is in, if ROE allows break contact and kinetically reduce the structure, please do not play this game. If you are in the US in a law enforcement capacity you can yell changing magazines (when you have ammo) drop elevation out of the gun line and get him when he shows himself, use Gas, have snipers take a shot, fill the house with bees for all I care just don’t attempt to fight fair in a gun fight it is dumb and can make your wife a widow.

Chinese Special Forces

Tactical Urban Rover Detachment or T.U.R.D. for short

Conclusion

First off thanks for reading to the end, your awesome. While writing this at first I made a list of ten things that I have seen cause problems in training and overseas, it was actually hard not to include everything, but I know it is tough to get guys to read more than ten things so I cut it short there are probably 125 or so. It is my hope that you will find this useful; I wish someone had given me this list ten years ago it would have saved me a lot of trouble. I have been working pretty hard to get the word out to guys like you and if you think there was something useful here I would really appreciate it if you left a comment or at least shared it on your social network of choice so I can get more feed back from guys. Thanks again for stopping by De Oppreso Liber.