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:
3. Violence of Action
Why discuss the Principals of CQB?
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 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
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.
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
VoA 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.
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