Ham Radio Crash Course has an interview up with former US Army Special Forces SGM, former Office of Global Affairs and founder of Fieldcraft Survival Mike Glover wherein they are Explaining Tactical Communications. The interview begins with an overview of SF communications and gear, but the moves in communication planning, PACE (primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency) planning, direction finding, comms preparedness and more. Mike Glover is also behind American Contingency, an organization designed to create a trusted network of support and teach people training they might need to survive in today’s uncertain times.
NC Scout of Brushbeater and American Partisan recently appeared on The Gunmetal Armory Podcast.
I had the awesome experience of being on with The Gunmetal Armory podcast last week. It was a kick-ass time and I’d like to give a big shoutout to Dane for being an excellent host and all around good dude. Its likely we’re going to have a course or two out in AZ this coming Fall- so if you’re out there, I’m looking forward to training with you.
Max Velocity Tactical has an article up on assessing your tactical gear needs. In addition to the article text, there are several lengthy videos going into more detail and showing you various gear.
I have written extensively about gear, and made videos. I will post some general gear videos below. This is why I came up with the MVT Lite Fight concept which, I believe, goes a long way to covering the bases of a basic gear setup. Having said that I have written extensively about gear, and being spurred to write this because it is cropping up again on the MVT Forum, is not a criticism – it is going to come up for each one of you, and is a journey that never ends.
On that note, after some thought, I would like to introduce a new way of thinking about gear. This is because we are always talking about how our gear should suit the mission, but on the other hand we may be equipping ourselves because it is what others do, and we may be imitating; there are plenty of good reasons for that if we are imitating best practices. Also, we don’t have unlimited resources, so our standard gear is likely to follow a similar format. That is generally the idea behind the MVT Lite Fight concept, with a scaleable set of gear. Then we might get specialist missions, where we may have to carry more gear or stay out longer, or deal with a winter environment, etc.
One thing I would like to say is that you should strike a fine line between not having everything you need, and having too much. Many non-mission-essential things you can get away with not having, but if you carry things for every eventuality, you will make yourself a tactical no-go due to weight. Oh, did I mention PT?
So, what is this new way?
Perhaps what we should do is first consider the point or purpose of the mission. Then, build back from that purpose. Examples could be surveillance, security patrol, or raid. Consider what the purpose is, and then build back from the equipment to the man in order to sustain the reason we are on the mission.
Let’s take a security patrol as an example – and clearly we will be helped in this by Intel, which we may be able to get hold of due to conduct of an IPB, and continuing exposure (through patrolling) to the tactical environment.
Security patrolling – what is the purpose? To detect and react to threats? This will come down to mission, and what you expect to do once you discover a threat; engage, break contact, surveille if not seen? Because it is a security patrol, let’s build back from the rifle. If this was a surveillance patrol, we could equally build back from the surveillance equipment you will need to achieve this. You will also see that although we have a ‘Lite Fight’ concept, it isn’t really ‘Light’ once you include mission critical gear, it is just lighter than it could be if you took the kitchen sink.
- Rifle – this is our purpose, as security patrol riflemen, and thus we build the gear to feed this purpose.
- Mags to feed it – how many? I always think 8 mags is a realistic first line scale.
- Type of optic – terrain and engagement distances?
- Night use? IR laser? IR Flood? NODs? White light?
- Oil to keep it running.
- Duration of patrol – rifle cleaning kit?
- Solid rod in case of stuck case.
- Spares? To what extent? Spare BCG?
- Handgun? Applicable in the environment?
Thus, we build what we need to operate our rifle.
Next, mission specific gear based on threat and operational concept:
- Threat level: ballistic plates or not? Helmet? Chest rig? Full battle belt?
- Communications? Radio – to who? Do we have a QRF?
- Vehicles or not? Foot or mounted?
- Profile: type of clothing / uniform based on the tactical situation. Overt or low profile?
- Maps, navigation equipment?
- Notebooks, recording equipment of any type?
Next, we can look at other factors to keep the man who operates the weapon going, probably based on duration of patrol, threat, and weather considerations.
- Water – quantity?
- Food / energy?
- First aid / medical?
- Duration of patrol?
- Summer or Winter?
- Overnight / sleep or not?
- Need to heat food / water or not?
- Clothing and spares? Spare socks?
- Weather appropriate clothing and survival gear?
- Resupply? When and how?
- Misc items such as bug spray, water purification (method?) etc.
If this had been a surveillance patrol, what we might have done was build back through the relevant surveillance equipment we were going to take on the mission with us, including how to operate and keep it running fit for purpose – in which case the rifle is secondary in a security or emergency role. If it were a raid or ambush, we might want to consider additional aspects such as more ammunition (how?), potential for QRF for support and / or casualty evacuation. Prisoner handling and equipment – the list goes on.
What is really happening here is that you are basing your mission equipment on the Intel picture, and building it based on your combat estimate as part of mission planning. What is likely is that you will have a basic set of gear with a couple of options – what type of patrol pack or larger ruck to take, for example. Plate carrier or chest rig? etc.
You can certainly have a reaction kit, or basic fighting kit, set up in case of bumps in the night or standard missions, but you will need to have the ability (probably through a couple of different load carriage systems / sizes) to pack for specific missions.
So based, on that, I haven’t really told you anything, because you are going to have to decide a lot of it for yourselves. Err on the side of less gear, so long as you have what is necessary for the mission. Too much “what if this happens” is going to weigh you down, and you simply can’t leave the wire ready for all conceivable circumstances and an endless duration of the operation.
- Type of mission, working back from the main equipment used to achieve the mission i.e. rifle, surveillance equipment etc.
- Size of team.
- Operating environment.
- Mounted or dismounted.
- Support available.
Max Velocity Tactical has been compiling for some time lists of equipment/gear issues (and other observations) which commonly come up during their training classes for tactical rifle. Examples/excerpts below.
- This is the second class that someone has over inserted a magazine during a drill. What happens is the magazine is shoved so far into the mag well during a combat reload that the bolt hits the back of the magazine when the bolt released is pushed. This time it was a Magpul Gen 2. Pay attention during reloads, there is no reason to put that much force into seating a mag.
- Charging Handles- Get rid of the stock charging handles on your AR’s. Some of the ones that are being put on rifles are to easy to bind and the standard latch is to small. My recommendation is a BCM medium sized latch. It will make weapons manipulation easier.
- Ammo- A student had an issue during the malfunction drills. The bullet was getting pushed back into the case allowing the powder to dump into the chamber. When that happens the rifle will not go into battery. You then have to clean the chamber to get rid of the powder, a toothbrush works best. The reason this is happening is due to the type of ammo, .223 Rem in this case. Most .223 doesn’t have a good crimp on the bullet when it is manufactured. 5.56 ammo will have a crimp that should prevent this from happening. I have not seen this with any 5.56 marked ammo, only with .223 Rem. I have some Federal .223 and it does the same thing. I know everyone is trying to save money when they buy ammo for class. The problem is that going cheap can bite you in the ass. Just like with going the cheapest route with a rifle, cheap ammo can cause issues. Spend a little more and buy 5.56 marked ammo.
- Ambi-Safeties -We see this over and over. Students use the thumb to rotate the safety off and their trigger finger to rotate the safety on. This is an accident waiting to happen. When you get in a hurry your trigger finger can slip into the trigger guard and fire a round. That is not good. If you insist on having one on your rifle you have to ensure that your thumb rotates the safety on and off. My recommendation is to get rid of them.
- Blue Loctite is your friend. BUIS, sight mounts, flashlight mounts etc. need to have blue loctite on them. This will keep them from working loose and falling off when you need it the most.
- 80% lowers. I understand the attraction of these, especially for someone who is behind enemy lines. I have yet to see one at class that doesn’t have some sort of issue. The biggest problem I see is mag wells that aren’t to spec. A lot of times the jigs that come with them aren’t perfect either. Be aware of this.
- Lube your rifles. Almost at the end of class one of the students rifles just quit running. Added lube and the rifle started running again. He said he didn’t put any lube on it that morning.
- Not all charging handles are created equal. Especially doing malfunction drills. The standard CH that comes on AR’s are OK but are not the best. My recommendation is to get a BCM medium latch. It gives you more to grab when charging the rifle.
Get a quick adjustable sling. One that you can change the length on the fly with your support hand. If you choose to attach it where the extension tube meets the lower, make sure that it cannot rotate up and get in the way of running the charging handle.
There is quite a list of equipment issues, so if you haven’t spent much time with your gear, or even if you have, it’s worth a read to see what you might be missing.
Dr. Alton at Doom and Bloom Medicine has a short article and video dealing with Tactical Combat Casualty Care.
You may have heard me reference something called “TCCC” in previous articles, podcasts, or videos. TCCC, sometimes called T3C or T triple C, is a term that means Tactical Combat Casualty Care. It represents the recommendations with regards to prehospital care of soldiers who have incurred traumatic injuries on the battlefield. Established in the mid-1990s, TCCC guidelines have become so widely accepted that many law enforcement and civilian medical personnel have adopted them.
And well they should. These protocols were developed at the cost of painful lessons in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is thought that there were 1000 preventable deaths in these conflicts. If you add civilian injuries during the same time period, the number of preventable deaths might number in the hundreds of thousands. The TCCC’s primary goals is to save lives, prevent additional casualties, and, in true military fashion, complete the mission…In survival settings, you can’t duplicate the care given at a field hospital or a trauma center. Your final outcomes won’t always be happy. You might, however, use some of the methods in MARCH/PAWS to possibly save the life of those who would otherwise die during or in the aftermath of a disaster…
Combat Studies Group has a couple of open-enrollment dates for their Low-Vis Tactical Operations course. Those weekends are Aug. 25-26 and Sept. 1-2. The two day classes are $400 and take place in the northwest.
It’s safe to say that a good number of us spend a lot of time in vehicles. Going to and from work, taking the kids to practice, going shopping, visiting friends and family and so on. How would this common activity change if the thin veil of civility we currently enjoy were to slip? Can we still do what needs to be done without ending up a mobile resupply for the bad guys?
Let’s engage in a mental exercise, hypothetical in nature, wherein the area you live in has devolved into a completely lawless state. It doesn’t matter why, whether it’s a financial collapse, foreign invasion, natural disaster or any number of other scenarios. Picture something akin to the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 90’s.
You live in a rural area about 20 miles from the nearest town. You receive word via your HAM network that relatives in town are in need of extraction due to a sharp increase in gang activity and looting. Their vehicles have been stolen and/or destroyed and they are barricaded in their home with dwindling supplies.
What would you take with you on this mission?
What would your mission planning look like?
What would drive your planning process?
Let’s look at something a bit less extreme. You need to run a security patrol or recce patrol in an area that is in a condition somewhere in between current day Caracas, Venezuela and Detroit.
How many vehicles would be in your party?
How overt would you want to be?
What would your contingency planning look like?
How would you deal with an unexpected roadblock?
Now let’s say you get a frantic call for help from a loved one and you need to go right now. You are stuck with what is already in your vehicle. Will it support your operation in any meaningful way?
A vehicle in your party a mile ahead radios that they have driven into an ambush and are disabled on the X. How would you approach this situation? The driver of the down vehicle is unconscious and appears to have a neck injury. How do you extract them in a hurry without causing more damage?
(And while I realize many of these questions are going to be determined by your METT-TC, they definitely deserve your attention sooner rather than later so standard procedures can be developed.)
These are some of the questions we address in the Low-Vis Tactical Vehicle Operations course.
– Vehicle packing – What and how
– Dressing around your equipment
– Tricks of maintaining a low profile
– Route planning
– Contingency planning
– Emergency action plans
– Multi vehicle operations
– Communication and coordination
– Roadblocks – manned and unmanned
– Anti pursuit measures
– Fighting into and out of vehicles
– Crossloading damaged vehicles under duress
– QRF setup and duties
– Vehicle modifications
– Counter surveillance
– Bail out bags
– Down driver and extraction
This is a two day course with SIM guns and a three day course with a live-fire module. Course involves classroom instruction, hands on demonstration, SIM guns and operating your vehicle in controlled scenarios.
Cost is $400 (2-day) and $550 (3-day)
NC Scout from Brushbeater blog has some good notes up on Guidelines for Integrating Inter-Team Communications Into Your Kit.
The cornerstone of why you need communications in the field is unit coordination. Teams must have a way to relay what they see and update the situation to other partner teams in the field and to a command location. This is what’s known as Inter-Team Communications and should be thought of as your lifeline for the Small Unit. One of the topics briefly covered in the RTO Course is how to integrate squad-level commo gear into your kit. After training with several groups I’ve noticed that this normally is an afterthought, so it’s something that I address through demonstration of my own gear during the second day. While I don’t require anyone to bring anything to class other than a notebook, pen, comfy shoes and a good attitude, on the FTX there is a little bit of team movement and scratching the surface on Small Unit Tactics (SUT) that I cover elsewhere. There’s a lot of reasons I do this, but its mostly to prove to the student they’re effective with almost nothing. Everything else is an enhancement to the skill they’re building. Basics never change, and proper adherence of the basics will get you through most situations. The point is not that its an SUT class- its that you’re using your training and gear in the intended environment and showing me that you can apply what you just learned. An RTO (Or RATELO for you Marines) is a critical element of the small unit and as a recent Scout class learned, can be the hardest job on the Team. Together we lay the foundation and provide a context, so that everything else becomes easy and you can add to it to suit your group’s needs. Among the takeaways through a hands on approach is how to integrate Inter-Team communications efficiently into your own personal Second Line or ‘Deuce’ gear (also known as ‘kit’). One of the biggest issues for those looking to conduct patrolling is how to effectively integrate basic communications equipment into their patrolling kits- there’s a right way and a less-right way, centered around making life just a tad easier while moving tactically…
My buddy, Paul Sharp, of Straight-Blast Gym—Illinois, and proprietor of Sharp Defense, posted the following on Social Media:
“When people start talking about advanced techniques my eyes cross. There are no advanced techniques. There are fundamentals honed to perfection through conscious effort. Then there is the application of those fundamentals against ever increasing challenges. The mechanics don’t change, our understanding grows so we’re able to apply the technique against higher and higher levels of resistance. As we advance we face greater resistance and better opponents which causes our understanding of the hows, when’s and why’s to advance. The mechanics remain the same. We become advanced.
Sugar Ray Leonard’s jab wasn’t magically different. His ability to hit anyone he faced at a world class level with his jab was the difference between basic and advanced.
During his seminar JJ Machado taught us all the same guard recovery technique. A guard recovery technique I had been taught my first month of jiujitsu. His ability to apply that technique against the best grapplers in the world is the difference between basic and advanced.
Bruce Gray presented my duty pistol, (a DAO S&W 4586), from a duty rig and hit the A zone of a target that was 25 yards away in a little over 1 second. He used the same draw stroke, mount, and trigger press he had been teaching me. He didn’t teach an advanced drawstroke or trigger press. His ability to make hits in those times with less than optimal equipment was the advanced understanding and application of the technique.
The point is; there is no secret sauce aka advanced techniques. There is advanced application and there is only one way to get there. High level coaching, and practice.”
This is something I’ve discussed in rifle and pistol classes for a long time now…
Max of Max Velocity Tactical writes this article about the importance of continuing your tactical preparations, even after a Trump victory.
It was reported to me that many businesses in the tactical and preparedness industry had bought in a ton of stock prior to the election, anticipating a Hillary win, and that they have been desperately trying to sell off that overstock due to the Trump win. It simply amazes me that people base a lot of their preparations on who occupies the White House, but it is a reality in ‘the business.’ A very odd way for people to make their knee-jerk ‘threat assessments.’ I took a different view, as a tactical training company – the election of Trump meant (to me) that I was not immediately expecting more anti-2A laws coming down the pike, which meant time to continue to build the business, and on a personal level, train and prepare. Because that is the key point – the election of Trump does not free us from the reality of ‘the collapse,’ it simply means that the current administration is not overtly hostile to gun owners and Liberty. A breathing space, nothing more. We still live in extremely uncertain times.
So what is it? Why did so many people appear to crawl back under the comforter following the Trump win? Those that had at least partially woken up to the need for tactical preparedness, in many cases, just went back to sleep. Amazing, and not rational. At MVT, we have a very active group of Alumni who return again and again for training; they have internalized the warrior ethos, and train to be prepared to defend their families. But we have noticed a distinct drying up of ‘new blood’ coming in to classes. It is definitely a phenomenon…
I know, I know: what we teach at MVT are true warrior skills, and not mere games at the range. I know that this fact in itself puts many people out of the demographic. But I am aware of that, and I know that most people are not warriors, they are not true protectors. They are fearful and weak. The people I am interested in are those with the courage to step up, identify the need, and make the commitment to get some real tactical training.