Saturday, 15 Feb 2014
In the world of civilian training, the availability of rural patrolling courses is far outweighed by the ever present need. This assessment is made, generally from what I see on the blogosphere, but more specifically from the ton of email I receive. Three patrolling courses I can make a no BS assessment of are Mountain Guerilla’s (Mosby) patrolling class, Max Velocity’s patrolling class, and my own (Mason Dixon Tactical) patrolling class. I know what your thinking, Here we go, knock the other two, and harp on why mine is the Holy Grail of Patrolling classes. Well, I hate to disappoint, but that’s not how I operate. The reason I was asked, by the few people that know, to write an evaluation on these courses, is due to the fact that I’m the only guy out there, that has been cadre for both Mosby and Max, and along with having my own courses, they thought a comparison was in order, and they knew I’d be fair about it. All observations are based off of what I actually observed in the class, or was advised by students during or after the class was completed.
We’ll start off with Mosby’s patrolling course . I helped him with the class (As the site facilitator, and a small amount of AI work, we ended up with a large Cadre, fortunately) he conducted in WV in June of 2013. The first thing I will say about Mosby is “WOW, he’s a very good instructor!” Mosby has a way of dumbing it down for a guy who does not have the benefit of a military basic training background, and he does it in an engaging way that makes it that much easier for the uninitiated to grasp (just like his writing). In a nutshell, this is what is covered in the class.
Day 1 Covered camouflage, cover and concealment, and stalking techniques with an exercise (good exercise, but time consuming), Individual movement techniques (IMT), and squad and fire team movement techniques were discussed with some practical exercises. Tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) was reviewed in depth (nasal pharyngeal tube anyone?), and IR and thermal imagery equipment review rounded out the day.
Day 2 started with patrol movement formations, We then moved (patrolled) to the live fire area, and patrol bases were discussed , and an occupy a patrol base practical exercise was conducted at the live fire lane. Live fire exercises, of the movement to contact with a flanking maneuver :type were performed dry then live. A break contact: dry and live fire drill was performed, then a review of actions on the objective. The class performed a movement to a patrol base, and learned how to select and occupy a patrol base ,(brief, but they got the picture) Night movement utilizing proper movement formations were conducted from the patrol bases back to the class site that evening.
Day 3 started with removal of combat casualties from the battlefield. Special teams needed on the objective. (enemy prisoner of war (EPW) Search/ aid and litter teams). Patrol orders were discussed, and the Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) Loop was explained to students.
Yup, he covers a lot of the prerequisite topics necessary to operate as a guerilla in an unconventional warfare scenario. Imagine that, a former Special Forces NCO is gonna teach you how to be a guerilla. Who’d a thunk it. Mosby is good at what he does, and that is teaching a non military dude, how to function as a partisan. With that being said, you need to understand that Mosby hasn’t got much in the way of a logistics train as it pertains to resources available when he gets on site. Other instructors generally have more resources, and don’t have to be as flexible, when operating from a fixed site (Mosby is travelling all over hell’s half acre). Mosby teaches the fundamentals of being a partisan, and although there is some crossover associated with being a partisan and responding as a civilian to a SHTF scenario (the small unit tactics are the same), this is not a SHTF, bug out or hold in place scenario, patrolling class, it’s a doctrinally sound, Partisan Basic Course. Mosby’s Small Unit Tactics (SUT) class addresses the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP’s) of the guerilla operating out of a patrol base (briefly, not overnight). Although I was surprised that he didn’t teach the hasty ambush, and crossing danger areas (apparently according to students that I’ve talked to, each of the individual cadre members did that within their own teams during the patrol base portion) I don’t know where he would have been able to fit it into the schedule anyway. If you want to train to be a partisan, and can get to one of his classes, by all means DO IT! If you want to train for SHTF scenario bug out or hold in place patrolling, and can get to one of his classes, DO IT! Training is training, and all you’ll be doing is honing your edge, regardless of whether it’s specifically geared towards your “Scenario”.
Max Velocity’s patrolling class http://www.maxvelocitytactical.com/tactical-training/ is pretty close to the most bang for your buck that you can get in the SUT training arena. with one or two caveats, those being no Force on Force OpFor (no blank fire maneuver element), and a lack of time for everyone to perform key functions in areas like “Ambush”, and the “Raid”, which is understandable due to time constraints. Max has a facility he has worked on for over a year now, that combines rugged terrain, realistic scenario lanes, and is geared towards the civilian that wants to learn how to conduct small unit tactics in a SHTF environment (more protecting our AO, than I’m a “G”). Max is a great instructor, His training scenario is geared towards a militia Squad/Platoon headed back to their home Area of Operation (AO), and the class room instruction is geared to reflect that, using the time proven small unit tactics developed and used by the military (with a few realistic modifications). SUT is not hard to understand (so easy a caveman could do it), but it can be extremely difficult to implement if appropriate instruction has not been received. Max has the ability to impart not only the tactics and techniques required for a given task to the clueless civilian, but usually the “why” behind those tactics and techniques, so that, in the end, it makes sense to the recipients.
On Day 1, Max started off the class with basic movement requirements (keep in mind his Combat Rifle/Contact Drill class is a prerequisite for the Patrol class, so people are already on the right page), and went right into Patrol theory, and different “Actions On” scenarios. After lunch the students were given the chance to put the instruction into practice with a Center Peel Drill, a Multiple Contact drill (front and flank), and a Hasty Squad Attack drill, on a bunker system in depth (remotely activated pop up targets are awesome!). All drills were conducted multiple times dry fire, before going live.
Day 2, Patrol bases started off the day, with Max stressing the need for rehearsals, with specific rehearsals discussed for various patrol “Actions On” scenarios. Gear inspections and the need for pre combat inspections/checks (PCI’s/PCC’s) were stressed. . Practical shelter tarp set up was discussed, them practiced. After lunch the tactical phase of the class began. A rucked up patrol movement to a likely patrol base AO was conducted with a hasty ambush set up and performed (While Max conducted the ” Leaders recon”, I brought each individual out on the trail, to point out what camouflaging features helped hide some personnel in the “Hasty ambush” and others to stand out) . Students were then taken into the patrol base site (After a recon was done by leadership) and the procedures for establishing a patrol base were implemented. Routine in a patrol base up until and including evening stand-to was reviewed, then performed, and then the students were brought back to the class site for instruction and implementation of the night recon. Student applied the instruction and performed the night reconnaissance patrols (on their own), and were all back and accounted for by midnight . The rest of the night consisted of patrol base routine (stand watch or sleep) till morning stand-to. (Side of a hill, 19 degrees, what’s not to love, right?)
Day 3 the morning started with stand to, and a live fire break contact drill followed by an awesome patrol to ambush (live fire) scenario, where the students were led to the linear ambush site, placed in position, and performed the task, then performed an exfil of the area. That scenario developed into the follow on Raid (live fire) scenario in the afternoon, with a post raid vehicular “De-ass the AO” exercise thrown in for good measure. Safety was paramount throughout the course, and any issues (no biggies) were taken care of swiftly by Max. Did I already say, remotely activated pop up targets make a big difference on a live fire, well, yeah…..just sayin’.. Max will tell you that they’re expensive, but worth every penny when it comes to the training realism (to a degree) it gives students when conducting a live fire exercise. Max’s course is geared towards the civilians who are thrown into a SHTF scenario, and will be conducting security patrols in their AO, and might have to function as a member of the local militia (IRREGULAR FORCES, IN AN UNCONVENTIONAL ENVIRONMENT) as well. If you are an untrained civilian, and have the ability to take Max’s courses, but want to play the “it costs too much!” or “I’m good with my deer hunting skills.” game, your a fool, you won’t get better instruction and live fire scenarios from a better facility anywhere in the country, it’s that simple.
My Mason Dixon Tactical courses:
http://www.masondixontactical.com/Tactical_Courses.html I started MDT in July of 2010, specifically to help make civilians more confident to deal with the SHTF situation that is coming our way. The Rural Buddy Team Essentials Course (RBTEC) was developed to give civilians a course that covers two days (weekend), and gives them the essential skills necessary to conduct patrolling operations whether your “Going to get milk at the neighbor’s”, or your functioning as a member of the local militia (IRREGULAR FORCES, IN AN UNCONVENTIONAL ENVIRONMENT) in a SHTF scenario. You will learn proper individual movement techniques (IMT), and how to perform a hasty assault or break contact drill within the two man element, Patrol formations (geared towards the civilian team/squad) and principles of patrolling are taught, but RBTEC is always geared towards the building block of the team/squad, which is the buddy team. Responsibilities (security sectors, implied and assigned tasks, etc.) of team members within the patrol are reviewed and practiced. React to contact drills (Hasty assault, break contact, and reaction to non standard, SHTF based, perceived threats) are discussed and practiced on non ambush and ambush (OPFOR present) drills. An OPFOR team will be present on several daylight, and a few night ambushed, with the accompanying full auto’s (legal class 3) firing blanks at the students. Things that are stressed in RBTEC are 360 degree security, especially during a firefight (no tunnel vision), “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” IMT bullet avoidance techniques (like what I did with that, sounds like high speed shit, don’t it?), “Distance, Direction, Description” commo with your buddy while engaged, and the “Move, Shoot, Communicate” prerequisites upon enemy contact are reiterated throughout the class. Thermal and night vision technology is discussed and used to show the benefits, and some detriments of both (it ain’t the movies).
Day two starts off with a safety procedures review, followed by the longest patrol of the class. This patrol will take us to the live fire lane where that portion of the course will begin. The live fire portion of RBTEC consists of multiple dry runs of the hasty buddy team assault, with a break contact drill as a follow up. Before live fire is done, all students will run the course singly, to ascertain that safety protocols are being implemented. That’s it in a nutshell. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten any pop up targets yet!
I’m not going to discuss the Rural Team Tactics Course from Mason Dixon Tactical, because it’s not a fair comparison. The RTTC is a four weekend, or ten day course that has a lot more time to teach the necessary skills of patrolling, and field operations from a SHTF perspective. If you interested in what the course contains, go to http://www.masondixontactical.com/Tactical_Courses.html , and go to the Rural Team Tactics Course description.
I’ve heard it said that pop up targets and OPFOR with blanks are unnecessary. Well, you might be right, but I have never had a civilian student leave my course and say “Damn, that full auto M14, PKM, or SAW (Legal Class 3), fill in the blank, was gay, and didn’t help the training at all!” Usually, the term I hear the most is “Overwhelming” If you’ve got the ability to provide this in the training environment, fine, if not SHUT YOUR MOUTH! Do you own thing and let others do what they can to help prepare people as best they can with what THEY have available.
On another note, I’ve noticed some out there throwing around the “Unconventional” term a lot, acting like it denotes a special significance to the person’s capability from a Small Unit Tactics standpoint. Small unit tactics are what we use in combat arms to achieve a specific result (take the objective, or retreat, and try to minimize casualties as much as possible). If there was a better way of doing it, everyone would be doing it, end of story. As Mosby has stated before,
“Unconventional warfare operations, in the irregular, partisan sense of the term, are nothing more than CONVENTIONAL, SMALL-UNIT OPERATIONS, CONDUCTED BY IRREGULAR FORCES, IN AN UNCONVENTIONAL ENVIRONMENT. To that end, most of what needs to be learned can be learned by looking at advances made in training the conventional force soldier over the course of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and the decades preceding it.”
Irregular Forces defined- A regular army is the official army of a state or country (the official armed forces) — contrasting with irregular forces such as volunteer irregular militias, private armies, mercenaries, etc.
Don’t get wrapped around the axle of “Unconventional” or “Commando” anything, It might keep you from getting the necessary, solid Light Infantry SUT training that could save the lives of you and your loved ones. WE are preparing for the unconventional environment (SHTF) ahead, and YOU are an Irregular! You are not going to become a “Commando” by attending any of our courses several times, let alone once, and anyone trying to sell the “Become a Commando, take my class.” BS, is ignorant of reality and obviously inexperienced (what’s their background, if any? MW3 perhaps?)
I hope this gives the reader who’s looking for a patrolling course, some valuable insight into what I’ve experienced as an assistant instructor with two well know trainers. They are both all about getting you ready for a SHTF scenario, and have put themselves out there on the line, because it’s important to them. But keep this in mind. No matter how much training you get, if you aren’t keeping your edge sharp on your own, all the training in the world will not save you from your lazy ass self. TRAIN!
American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE