A snowflake and a small meteor (meteoroid) fall from the sky, but that’s pretty much where their similarities end. A snowflake hits the ground, and unless it has perfect conditions such as the ground temp being low, and/or it is surrounded by other snowflakes, it will disappear in a short while. A small meteor that was tough enough to make it through the atmosphere hits the ground, and if it survives the impact unbroken, it isn’t going anywhere, and can be around for centuries. Hell, even if it is broken, the pieces will still be around for a long time (reminds me of some of my “mobility kill” Buddies LOL).
The reaction of many to this post will help them, and those around them, determine whether they are or have the capability of being a small meteor. If you are a militia group member, that is non prior service, and sensitive to being told the inconvenient and harsh “Facts of Life” in regards to some of your training and possible incorrect perceptions, you are more than likely a snowflake, and are better off not disturbing you delicate pleasantries by reading this post.
I was asked a couple weeks ago to write a post based on a comment I made at WRSA that forwarded this premise, “on a good day, a civilian that has taken 3 or 4 SUT type classes from a Tactical Trainer won’t even be at the experienced Infantry PFC level”. Of course that type of comment elicits more than my normal share of “fan mail” because everyone knows “Paytriots” (if you’re not payin’ for the trainin’, you must not really care what happens to your country, and therefore, you are not a patriot) and “Moolishas” (because 2A said so!) made “‘Merica”, and if you don’t think they are the God ordained Shiznit of (i)nfantry, well you must be nothin’ but an Elitist Vet who is forwarding a defeatist mindset towards your “Lessers” and are setting them up for assimilation by the Borcs (Borg and Orcs, what a combination)….. right?
Some trainers have actually told those they’ve trained that the students were equal to, if not better than experienced Infantrymen after a class or three. If he said it, it must be true….right? No one would ever blow smoke up your ass to make a buck and get you to come back again and again……would they? The funny thing about those types of trainers is that they will regurgitate anything they think will lead to drawing a paycheck. They will change what they say and do to see what works with the crowd (what sticks when thrown against the wall), even if it means contradicting something they said just a few short years earlier.
Some blowhards were/are big on not only saying that you are the “commandos” (that was some seriously delusional “MilSimMeth” he was purporting) of the “fweedumb forces”, but that if you pay to join their club, you will be the future “Officers” of the “forces of fweedumb”, oh, and “here’s your (sign) patch.
A while back, a conversation was in play on social media regarding the militias, and their use by the government. This was my response,
“Wanna know what would happen if the government decided to “use the militias? First, they would call them all in for a muster (YAY, they are recognizing us!). Second they would assign present or former combat arms Officers and NCO’s (non combat arms Commissioned Officers or NCO’s need not apply) to each unit to evaluate them. Third, they would tell all the non prior service guys that if they are lucky, they’ll be able to stay and be privates (E-1’s). Next the prior service non combat arms guys will be told they will be E-2’s or even E-3’s if they show ability and heart. Finally the prior service combat arms guys will be given positions (E-4 or above) dependent on their proven ability and bona fides (DD214). At that point, those Officers and senior NCO’s will take control of their newly formed Companies. Multicam Airsoft Commandos (MAC’s) need not apply except for a AV function, since they’ve already proven they are good at taking pictures and doing videos of ‘ftx’s’.”
I know, I know…..Defeatist, Jackbooted, Elitist, Assholesque Ne’er-do-well-ian, right? How about Practical, Experienced, and Concerned former Soldier and Forever Survivalist who has seen too much pomposity, arrogance, and delusional wannabeism in those who think they are the next iteration of Francis Marion, James Ewell Brown Stuart. John Singleton Mosby and their favorite Halo character, all rolled into one. Here’s the funny thing about that. Francis Marion was a veteran (an Officer) of the F&I War, JEB Stuart was a combat experienced Veteran before the Civil War ever broke out, and John S Mosby started out in “Grumble” Jones’s “Washington Mounted Rifles” as a Private (not a Sergeant, and not a Damned Colonel) at the beginning of the Civil War. Notice a theme here?
What I decided to do with this post was get some others to give their thoughts on the quote the post premise is based on. Every one of the individuals who gave their thoughts is a military Vet. Every one of them served in Combat Arms (one type of Infantry or another) as Non Commissioned Officers or Commissioned Officers, and the majority are combat veterans. Why would I only consider the opinion of Infantry Veterans? It’s simple. Only an Infantry Vet knows what the Infantry is like. Only an Infantry Vet can give true insight into what my original statement was about. Why Infantry? Because Infantry is what you “Killahs” aspire to be, is it not? Anyone sayin’ I’m gonna conduct guerrilla warfare is sayin’ they want to be Infantry, whether they know it or not. Anyone sayin’ “I’m gonna conduct offensive operations in SHTF.” is sayin’ they want to be Infantry, Period!
If you haven’t EXPERIENCED it, you truly don’t know what you don’t know. No matter how many movies you watch, books you’ve read, or “SUT” classes you take, you have not experienced that of even the Infantry Private First Class’s existence. Taking an “SUT” class or three doesn’t equate to proficiency, it only shows familiarity. Familiarity and Proficiency are in different locations of the same spectrum, and mastery is on the opposite end from familiarity. A good analogy would be a toddler when they first learn what running is (familiarity), compared to a teenager who is in their second year of being on the HS track team (proficiency), and then there’s the Olympic runner (mastery).
So here it goes with the thoughts of others on the topic of, “On a good day, a civilian that has taken 3 or 4 SUT type classes from a Tactical Trainer won’t even be at the experienced Infantry PFC level”.
Training Requirements for Consciously Skilled ‘Infantry’ Capabilities
Background of the Vet: 21 plus years active duty in the USAF; retired as a Senior NCO. Of that time, 12 years in Air Base Ground Defense (Air Force for ‘Infantry’); comprised of 5 years teaching advanced ‘infantry’ training, rated “Master Instructor”, specialized in patrolling, 5 years on a RDT (Rapid Deployment Team) for 81mm Mortar & Hostage Rescue concurrently. 5 years as NCOIC of Air Base Ground Defense at field units building and conducting local unit training.
At issue is the belief that a lot of well-meaning folks have that a few months of taking a weekend each month and undergoing Small Unit Tactics Training at any school under any trainer will make them equal with professional military ‘infantry’ trained units, from fire teams up through platoons. This doesn’t even take into account the support that infantry type units have with organic and non-organic support weapons and sister service support (CAS, Arty, airlift, etc.). They’re not looking at things objectively, nor are they understanding that they’re doing nothing more than ‘walk through’ familiarization that gets them to, at best, the ‘consciously unskilled’ (“I know that I don’t know a lot, and if my instructor helps me, I can get through the requirements”) level of task mastery. I know these folks want to learn SUT to protect their families, and that’s a good thing, but where the problem comes is, again, where they, or their course instructors, conflate what they are capable of with what an active duty infantry trained unit as small as a fire team can do. It’s just not true, and it sets the civilian student up to get killed. In essence, the civilian student fails to recognize the limitations of his training.
Think about it: How many hard contact hours are received over a 4 or even 5 day training course at ‘X’ school? 5 training days for civilian SUT schools provide, at most, 50 training hours, except in rare cases. I only know of one school that ran 20 hour training days for 3 consecutive days, but that school was running a very advanced course with students who’d had about 60 hours of basic skills training previously. As it was, in each of the classes (about 25 students, average), between 6 and 8 would drop out or suffer an injury that precluded them from continuing. Even that course had an 8 hour admin block before training started and 2 hours after course completion.
So, let’s be generous. A 5 day course at school ‘X’. It’s basic to intermediate in skill complexity. And there’s no PT pre-reqs. This is all about SHTF. Chances are the training days are no longer that 9 hours, and a meal is built into the training day. If the school has a cadre of multiple instructors, there will be change over time built in to the schedule, and then, break time, because most civilian attendees aren’t in their 20’s, in top physical shape, and able to take the standard training regimen that occurs on active duty. So, figure out of each 9 hour day, you’ve got 2 hours for breaks, cadre change over, and meal(s). Brings the contact time to 7 hours a day.
School ‘X’: Basic SUT Familiarization Course – 5 Days, 50 hours
Admin Hours: 8
Break/Meal/Change Over Hours: 10
Hard Contact (Teaching/Evaluation) Hours: 32
Let’s compare this to courses I’ve taught or helped build:
Basic SUT Skills Course – Average of 260 Course Hours – Equates to about 28 training days of varying lengths from 8 to 20 hours. 5 days a week. After week one, all meals during training taken during contact hours; breaks held to a minimum. Let’s be generous and say 40 hours of the 260 are breaks, change overs, and meal times. That’s still 220 hours for basic certification (Consciously Skilled). Students having problems with attaining required performance are usually ‘recycled’ at one point or another to ensure funds spent are not wasted. After 2 recycles, they’re sent elsewhere. Or home.
Advanced Training – Average 220 Course Hours – Equates to 20 to 25 training days of varying lengths. Let’s keep the admin hours at 40, so we’ve got 180 hours of training. 5 days a week.
Subtotal: 400 hours. For basic certification. Which equates to walking and chewing gum at the same time.
A civilian would have to attend 12.5 civilian SUT schools of 5 days (32 hard contact hours each) to approach the ‘Consciously Skilled’ level of an active duty soldier, airman, marine or sailor trained in SUT.
Based on current prices, the civilian student would have to pay over $6,200 @ $500 per course, not counting transportation, meals and lodging.
Back to active duty: The newly minted SUT troop goes to his unit and is assigned to a seasoned NCO who starts his ‘OJT’, and for the next 1 to 2 years (sometimes longer) the troop is in a training mode, and most likely logging (out of a 3000 hour duty year) – 300 duty days or 10 months (the other two months are for garrison admin requirements and leave). In 2 years, that’s 6000 hours of unit based training for ‘the real thing,’ in a squad, platoon, and company that lives, eats, sleeps, and trains together, building essential corporate and individual knowledge on how to fight as an infantry unit.
Compare that to what a civilian has available. Most schools that even touch on some of the more advanced skills only do a walk through; legal liabilities restrain them, from say, teaching raids, ambushes, belt fed weapons employment, use of grenades, etc.
6,400 hours before the squad leader will be satisfied the new troop can be trusted to operate as part of the unit without someone directly supervising or getting someone killed.
In the example above, the civilian student would have to attend 200 five day courses (of 32 contact hours each course) to equal the amount of training time an E-3 (PFC, Lance Corporal, or Airman First Class) spends getting qualified in his unit.
You can argue all you want about how many training courses you went to, but when you look at how he broke down the hours spent on training at different levels, only a fool thinks his tacticool class or classes will equal anything even close to a basic military Combat Arms “rite of passage”.
Next up is something brief but telling from a friend who is a retired Infantry Officer.
Retired Infantry Captain,
Best I can come up with is they won’t even be good PFCs because they don’t share misery and/or have a common enemy. They don’t live together, sleep together, party together, or have common experiences. Common enemy? NCOs and Officers: They lack them.
The “Common Enemies” of the Infantry PFC consist of the environment (where the Infantryman has to live and operate in), the day in and day out chores (KP for instance), and that of just keepin’ up with the minimum standards (you better not just be only meeting the Damned minimum standard Private!) such as requirements for uniform/hygiene appearance, PT, and weapons proficiency, can be daunting to many.
People think “Your uniform appearance doesn’t matter.” (paying attention to the details and presenting a squared away appearance matters to the Infantryman, especially when you go into the higher tier units), “I don’t feel like doing PT today (or this week)” (As an Infantryman, you always base your PT on the premise of not knowing when you’ll have to do your job for real, and the NCO’s make sure you remember that), “I just shot my weapon a few months ago.” (great, but considering that the Infantryman’s basic purpose is effectively using his weapon to stop the enemy, he doesn’t have the option to rest on his “laurels”). All of this is OK for the civilian, but not for the Infantryman. The civilian has a job as a priority, and it’s not being an Infantryman.
Here’s another thought from an Infantry Vet.
Thoughts on Small Units, Civilians, and Skill
This writer held every position on a Long Range Surveillance Team up to Assistant Team Leader (ATL) and on the Line as a Fire Team Leader, Squad Leader and Weapons Squad Leader, and had three deployments, twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.
JC Dodge approached me with the request for input of issues with civilian thinking versus military proficiency; an issue which, if you’ve been around for a minute, provokes an interesting discussion drawing out the Walter Mittys in prime fashion when told anything other than what they want to hear. Well, stand in the door.
The original question was one regarding “no tactics are better than bad”, meaning that if one has simply read a book or watched a film, rehearsed it a few times, or even walked through a couple of weekend classes your better plan lay with creating a defensible area and networking with your neighbors in order to do the same. While I’ve been rather harsh on suburbia, it’s not without reason; rural, hilly terrain is easier to defend and more likely to be inhabited by people with needed skills and the youth who can endure more. For those playing militia in the woods and thinking the all the world’s questions were answered by SH 21-76, FM 7-8 and Patriots, you’ve got a very harsh reality coming and it’s coming fast. Contrary to what you might think, the two military texts are written for a specific audience assuming previous conditions exist; namely, supporting units and fire; the last a purposefully unrealistic picture of a best-case scenario; one that is unobtanium for anyone not into prepping or training for the past three decades and having people with combat arms military backgrounds.
That last point is critical. While certain figments of the militia have contempt for prior military, it’s due to the fact that we pop your bubble and make you feel every bit as insecure as you really are. When I was originally asked the question, my immediate response was something along the lines of “movement, particularly akin to a LRS insertion, is much more akin to what preppers should focus upon rather than standard Line-unit battle drills and formations.” Deciphered to civilian speak, a Long Range Surveillance Team is an unsupported 6 man element which is expected to move long distances with at least a week’s worth of equipment to their planned hide sites, undetected upon entry into an enemy area; as one can expect, this is no easy task for even well trained soldiers. But that being said, the same principles apply to the civilian arena when concerned with low-signature movement into an area; the recon patrol, like its combat counterpart (ambush and raid) requires patience and hinges upon discipline, the plan, land navigation skills, and the ability to creep along at a very slow pace. In the LRS paradigm, only one battle drill is the primary focus; Break Contact, and it is a modified drill.
There’s various ways its done, some do an Aussie Peel, some side step the Senior Scout (“pointman” to the uninitiated) in order to provide the maximum firepower to wherever the contact is coming from; “Bravo Two Zero” provides a good vignette of such a team move. The team continues to retrograde (Rangers never Retreat.) until they’re not being shot at anymore. Sounds sort of like what prepper-militia types are looking to do with limited numbers. The reality is though, that with a handful of people, especially those that have neither fired a shot in anger nor been on the receiving end, you’re in a world of hurt. You are not Infantry, you do not posses Infantry, and for your own survival, stop confusing yourself that you are.
So we can properly identify that movement then is far more important than the cool-guy run and gun nonsense most confuse with actual ‘tactics’. Being quiet in the outdoors and understanding that people generally take the easiest paths becomes the method by which a team can both hunt and avoid being hunted.
Don’t Take the Same Route Twice, MAJ Rogers’ so said. With that, principles hunters use are far more applicable to a partisan group than looking like you’re about to kick doors in Baghdad and making the same amount of noise as an unbalanced over-encumbered Infantry team would. Just like how you’re not Infantry, you’re also not SWAT. Quiet movement coupled with a high degree of knowledge of your terrain are critical to those seeking the initiative in combat. It is not the ambushed who usually win, nor is it the reactive element. All of these principles combined are what we who teach these skills (to military folks) call “natural lines of drift”.
These intersecting factors, the size of team and accompanying expectations of capability, along with competent terrain analysis and route selection for both movement and attack, should be the primary focus of the prepper/militia/survivalist who finds himself on an offensive patrol. It is not sexy, makes for very boring video, and takes weeks upon weeks of team development for proficiency not normally gained in a weekend. You can pick up some skills, sure, you can even get a good gauge of your own fitness and applicability to such types of patrolling, but you won’t become a recon man in two or three days. For that reason when one of us derides the cool-guy wanna be stuff, instead of scoffing and self affirmation the reaction should be to perk the ears up and listen. A PFC in any Line Infantry unit is miles ahead of the walking army surplus store who can tell you the current head of the CFR but not his last 12 mile ruck time. It takes experience to run these sort of operations, and despite the bubbles that some of you prefer to live in, any bush-dwelling ex-grunt should be the proverbial water to your sponge.
The writer and I have discussed some of what was written here, and due to some similar experiences in training, unit type and other factors both in the military and as civilians (both of us having an early on Survivalist mindset), we completely agree on how Survivalists should be trained and go about practicing for SHTF.
And finally, here is the last contributor to this post,
From an 18F
Can militia types, with their handful of weekend “SUT” (they are no such
thing) classes be integrated into the Regular or NG infantry? The answer is… no. The answer is no for the simple reason that the
rawest private out of Basic and AIT, freshly assigned to a rifle squad
in any infantry unit, is head and shoulders above any militia type no
matter how many weekend “SUT” classes the militia type has had. And even
then it takes almost a year of nearly constant training before that
rawest private can be considered an infantryman in his squad.
Example: On an MTT to Zambia the mission was to bring the Zambian
Commando Regiment up to 7-8, 7-10, and 7-20 standard. It was a 90 day
mission, and the Commando Regiment was the elite unit of the Zambian
Army. Without going into useless detail it took 60 days to bring trained
squads and platoons to 7-8 standards. While that was going on 7-10 and
7-20 senior NCOs and Officers were being trained. So by the end of 90
days there was a Battalion live fire Movement to Contact. Nobody got killed.
The point is this: When an infantry private arrives at his first unit he
is CAT IV (undeployable) until after about a year training with his
squad. It took us 90 days to bring an active Zambian infantry unit to
CAT I (combat ready — if they had white NCOs and officers).
So, to be blunt, militia chest thumping leaves me cold.
This author and I were discussing this the other day, and both of us agree that an inexperienced guy would probably be more desirable to an Infantry unit, than the “experienced” Moolisha “operator”. The primary reason for this is that depending on who taught the “Moogrunt”, he could have been taught WRONG, practiced it WRONG, or he just “knows” he knows what he’s doing, and all three of those situations means you have to get rid of what was WRONG before you can truly square him away correctly.
THE rule of thumb is 1,000 reps will give a person a good “second nature” capability in whatever skill is being practiced. 2,000 to 3,000 reps is what is required to correct a skill that was learned incorrectly. Why would an Infantry unit want to take a chance on the “experienced” non prior service “Moogrunt”. when they can get an inexperienced “Didn’t learn it wrong” recruit?
The amount of experience presented in this post, whether combat and/or as a trainer, is staggering. You will notice a recurring theme, and it isn’t, “You are maggots”, “You are not worthy.” or “You are going to die.”. The theme is “You are not Infantrymen, and shouldn’t fantasize about conducting operations after SHTF like you are an Infantryman.”. Offensive operations…. really? You don’t even understand and haven’t realistically implemented the “in’s” and “out’s” of effective defensive operations yet (remember “familiarity” versus “proficiency”), and you’re talkin’ about offensive ops (this is a generalization based on a number of groups that I have seen over the last 30 years)?
We tell you these things because we want you to succeed and survive. We tell you these things because we understand the reality of the tasks required and training that needs to be achieved before conducting simple, effective defensive operations, let alone, an Offensive Infantry Op. Realistically, I have yet to see a group that has the personnel required to continue an effective defense, while conducting an offensive operation ( do you even know what your ratio should be?). This isn’t some fantasy where you end up with the stash of goodies and organized “militia” personnel the “General” left for you when he said you’d be in charge (Tri-States anyone?), this is reality.
In reality, we will have a hard enough time holding on to what we have (defense ops), so, leavin’ one or two people at the retreat to “hold the fort down.” while your group of “operators” go “light up” the gang bangers down the road is just askin’ for you to lose everything you’ve prepared and put back (yeah, that gang with a few experienced Infantry guys was conducting a recon of your retreat, and just waiting for you to do something stupid like leave a skeleton crew on security).
Wanna ignore the reality presented here? Be my guest, it’s only your family, friends, and associates that will pay the high price for your lofty “Operators operating operationally” fantasy. Wanna be an Infantryman? Go in the military, whether active duty or National Guard. Wanna be a responsible protector of loved ones and a survivor of SHTF? Learn how to effectively defend what you’ve got, medically treat what you’ve got (person and animal), feed what you’ve got (people and animals), repair what you’ve got, and pass on what you know. When it comes to the number of categories a Survivalist needs to not only be familiar with, but at least have some proficiency in (hopefully there’s some mastery), the Infantry PFC has it easy by comparison. Think Tactically Proficient, Modern Day, Pioneer, not Spec Ops Soldier. Besides, like I’ve said before, you are not an Infantryman unless you have an Infantry (and that’s the whole organization, even if it’s only at squad level).
None of the people here are making money giving you this hard won advice. None of the people in this post who gave commentary really care what you think of them in relation to their thoughts on this serious topic. We have already earned the martial survivor skills we possess with blood, sweat, and tears, and the weak “The Mean Sergeant hurt my feelings” mewlings of an inexperienced civilian just shows us that that guy is more concerned about his effeminate feelings than his personal and group survival.
Be a small meteor, not a Snowflake.
American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE