Tag Archives: Military Training

How to Properly Set Up and Wear a Combat Tourniquet

Disclaimer:  These are only suggestions or proper set up and wear of the combat tourniquet.  All personnel using a tourniquet should consult their medic, doctor, healthcare provider and tourniquet manufacturer on the proper wear, setup and use of the tourniquet prior to use. After seeing countless soldiers walking around in combat zones, improperly wearing their tourniquets, we thought we would put together a quick guide to getting your kit set up properly.  Soldiers are often handed tourniquets and given no instruction on its proper wear or use and then take that piece of kit into combat under the notion that they will figure it out when the time comes.  Unfortunately, the tourniquet, like any other piece of life saving equipment  is something that you have to pragmatically approach in setup and use.  This is especially important when you consider that an arterial bleed can cause someone to lose consciousness in 15 seconds and completely bleed out in 30-45 seconds.

If operators are not actively practicing the use of applying the tourniquet from their kit then they should consider making it a part of their training plan.  Below is a simple guide on how to properly setup and place a combat tourniquet on your gear.   Step 1- The Setup The setup of your tourniquet is crucial in ensuring it can be quickly placed onto the injured limb.  Under no circumstances should soldiers be walking around theater with the plastic wrap still covering their tourniquets or if they haven’t properly set up the tourniquet for immediate use. Inspection: When you are first issued a tourniquet you should inspect its components for cracks, tears or deformities.  This is especially important for users living in dry, hot, desert environments that cause the plastics to break easily. Preparation:  After inspecting the tourniquet you should prepare it for immediate deployment.  The idea behind the set up is to make the tourniquet so that it can be used with one hand in the event that it needs to be applied to one of your arms.

To prepare the tourniquet for employment first weave the tourniquet strap through ONE loop on the attached buckle.  This will allow you to cinch the tourniquet down using one hand.  If you weave through both buckles you will not be able to cinch the tourniquet down as quickly.  Once the tourniquet is cinched down and the velcro has been adhered to itself there will be enough friction to keep it from moving. If you are using the RATS Tourniquet you can create your cinch loop prior to storage as well for even quicker application.

Sizing: Size the tourniquet so that it is open/wide enough to fit over your largest extremity (usually your leg) as well as fit over any equipment you might have on such as a drop leg holster or boots.  The tail end should be very short since it will be adhered to the velcro on the tourniquet, if this tail is too long and adhered to too much velcro you will not be able to grab it and cinch it down using one hand.

Take the tail end of the tourniquet and fold it over on itself, creating a small tab for you to grab.  This is important given that if you are using the tourniquet, your dexterity will be limited due to gloves, blood or dirt.

Finally “S” roll the tourniquet onto itself so that it will open when pulled from your kit.

Step 2 – Placement: Placing the tourniquet on your kit is as equally as important in ensuring you can employ it in a timely manner.  Many soldiers downrange place their tourniquets in their top right or top left cargo pocket of their duty uniform; this should be avoided considering that if the opposite arm in which the tourniquet is being carried becomes injured it would not be able to reach up and grab the tourniquet from the pocket.  All tourniquets should be placed where both hands can easily reach them and release with minimal effort! One of the most important things when considering placement of the tourniquet is ease of employment.  Rubber bands, tourniquet holders and even hair ties are great ways of keeping your tourniquet on your kit while still being able to rip it off when needed.  Note: If using rubber bands or hair ties to keep your tourniquet on your kit always ensure you replace them every few days.  Rubber bands will easily break, especially when left out in the elements. A few common places for your tourniquet include: the middle of your plate carrier, behind your back centered on your belt, lower left or right pant leg cargo pocket, buttstock of a rifle, inside a vehicle door handle and on the outside of the aid bag.  I personally keep two tourniquets on me at all time, one on my tourniquet holder located behind my back on my belt and the second in my lower cargo pocket pants leg.  The reason I keep these in the said locations is to ensure that one, I have a tourniquet on my persons at all time and two, I have more than one tourniquet on me at all times in the event that I need to apply it to two extremities or to another casualty. Placing the tourniquet on your body armor:

Placing the tourniquet on your belt (best option for low vis operations)

Placement on rifle:

Placement in pocket:Important considerations: When operating in a semi or non-permissive environment you should have a tourniquet on you at all times.  In many cases personnel operating overseas will gucci their kit with several tourniquets, non of which are carried on their first line of equipment.  This causes personnel to walk around base with no ability to stop massive bleeders and leaves them vulnerable when IDF or Green on Blue attacks occur.  Remember, just because the mission stopped doesn’t mean the war stopped, be ready to perform first aid at all times. In short, when you need to use your tourniquet you have the rest of your life to figure out if you set it up properly or not.  To ensure a quick application operators should always practice taking their tourniquet from their kit and applying it to their different extremities in 15 seconds or less.  We try to incorporate the placement of tourniquets into our stress shoots and combat scenarios to ensure each operator has the proper set up. We have numerous options available on our website that will allow you to quickly access your tourniquet in a life or death situation.

Learn more at tacticalequipment.com

Here’s How You Can Learn to Swim Like Special Ops

 

    Many Special Operations units in today’s military place a large emphasis on training to be able to conduct the maritime operations mission set. Most elite units such as Navy SEALs, Marine Force Recon, Army SF, Air Force PJ’s and CCT have a combat dive capability. From maritime operations to dive ops, these elite units are masters of their craft. Special operators must be willing and able to go through some of the most rigorous training the U.S Military has to offer to be prepared to take on one of the most unpredictable and dangerous environments planet earth has to offer; the ocean.

        It is often said that “water is the great equalizer,” this is because you can take a strong-minded and physically fit individual and break him completely in a matter of minutes.  This is accomplished by causing fatigue and inducing small amounts of stress while training in an aquatic environment. Even the biggest “studs” can succumb to complete panic and enter survival mode if small amounts of stress are introduced into a safely structured training environment. So, if you are uncomfortable in the water, but want to be in an elite unit with a diving capability, how can you prepare yourself both mentally and physically?

Underwater Demolition Team PVC Patch

 

     To start, the vast majority of people can eventually become physically ready to take on a course such as BUDS or the Basic Reconnaissance Course, but very few have what it takes to handle the mental stress that will be endured on a daily basis. That being said, there are ways you can better prepare yourself both mentally and physically for the aquatic portions of training. Firstly, if your cardiovascular and muscular endurance are at a high level, then you already have a leg up on the competition. Remaining calm during training events such as an open ocean swim, or weighted tread in the pool, can become tough when extreme fatigue sets in.  This is because you are much more likely to panic when fatigued. A panicked swimmer is always at a much higher risk of becoming a drowning victim. There are countless ways to train to become a more proficient swimmer and increase your water confidence.  We will go over a few that can help you, this coming from the perspective of Instructors of some of the above-mentioned courses. The easy and obvious first tip is to do long distance swims to build both endurance and water confidence. As with all the drills and tips mentioned here, you should begin “slick” (just in a pair of swimming shorts) and slowly add articles of clothing as your confidence and ability increases.  Do this until you are fully clothed to include boots. Your attire should closely resemble modern camouflage utilities and combat boots. Tip number two is to practice treading weighted items. This is crucial to building water confidence as well as endurance. Start slick with no more than five pounds, attempt to keep the item out of the water and completely dry, do this for as long as you can. Remember to keep two hands on the item at all times and to try and tread in place.  If you are constantly moving backward or forwards, you risk the possibility of coming into contact with other swimmers.  Becoming entangled with a classmate when you are actually in a course can throw off both of your rhythms and cause panic in a less confident swimmer. Once you become fatigued and put the item in the water, stop, place the item on the edge of the pool, rest and try it again. As you become comfortable treading weight, slowly start increasing the amount of weight and articles of clothing. Adding weight and items of clothing will increase your proficiency and boost water confidence.

            The last tip that we will give in this article is to increase your breath hold. There are multiple ways of doing this. From just holding your breath on the side of the pool, to doing cardio, there is really no wrong answer. As long as you consistently practice and strive to make your breath hold longer, it will steadily increase.  One tip we can give is retrieving weighted items from the bottom of a 12 to 15-foot pool. You can add a million different variations to this drill such as treading, dropping the item then retrieving it, or dropping a hand full of change in the pool and trying to come up with a specific amount. As long as you are becoming more comfortable being at the bottom of the pool, you are building water confidence and increasing your breath hold. An example exercise begins with retrieving the item from the bottom, bringing it to the surface, treading the item until fatigued and repeating. Once this becomes easy to add any variations that you want, as long as you are continually challenged you should be building up your lung capacity and breath hold.


In conclusion, these are not the end all be all drills to making you a perfect swimmer with an unbreakable will, and an endless supply of water confidence. These are just some tips and drills that can benefit you in preparation for military selection courses that are aquatic based. All of these drills can be modified and made easier or more difficult based on your skill level. The main thing to focus on is progressing and building water confidence. You must get used to being uncomfortable and accept the fact that these courses are designed to be tough, and test you no matter how well you prepare. Showing up to these courses as prepared as possible can be the difference between you passing or failing the selection process.  

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The Aberration of War and its Impacts on Planning

So it’s the time of year again when the Naval War College classes start up, and I’m abusing myself this year with Strategy & War and Joint Maritime Operations.  You lucky guys and gals get to be the recipients of some of the studies and writing I’m doing for class.  Enjoy.

In 2007, Philip Meilinger, a retired US Air Force colonel, published an article in Joint Force Quarterly titled American Military Culture and Strategy that discusses some of the historical cultures of the US military and the civil government as it relates to the execution of the war.  Although written nine years ago – not even halfway through the “War on Terror” – it still holds some discussion value for those in authority as the war continues, despite being declared finished on at least two occasions.

One of the most salient points that COL Meilinger brings up is a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville regarding democracies and war: “There are two things that a democratic people will always find tough, to begin a war and to end it.”  Tocqueville also brought up the natural isolation of America; surrounded by friendly countries, separated from the majority of the world by water, the United States spent a significant portion of its early years officially isolated regarding military alliances, and with no significant standing military forces.

The Founding Fathers were against a large standing army, fearing it as a vehicle of oppression, and no less a patriarch than George Washington warned against the idea of  permanent international alliances in his Farewell Address: “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.”  The state of mind during that period of time was that the United States would go to war only when absolutely necessary, that a military force would be raised to meet the need, that the war would be fought until the enemy surrendered, and that the military force would then be demobilized back into the population.  This outlook persists and has shaped American conflicts throughout history.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to Dr. Khaild al-Obeidi, Iraqi Minister of Defense, at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, July 31st, 2016. Dunford is visiting Iraq to assess the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to Dr. Khaild al-Obeidi, Iraqi Minister of Defense, at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, July 31st, 2016. Dunford is visiting Iraq to assess the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

COL Meilinger argues that this “short-term” view of war (he contends that culturally, America views war as an aberration in the normal flow of society and is slow to engage and quick to disengage) dovetails with Tocqueville’s views on democracies starting and ending wars. This has led to military leaders throughout American history focusing purely on the dynamic aspect of a war, and failing to consider the cultural and political implications of their actions, much less devoting time to adequate planning for peace after the war.  Except for post-war Germany and Japan, history would certainly seem to support his hypothesis; recent history supports it even more so.  It would be a safe argument to posit that we are where we are today due, in large part, to this cultural failure at both the military and civil government levels.  The failure of the Bush administration to adequately plan for the aftermath of a successful invasion coupled with the inability of the Obama administration to recognize the consequences of an abrupt withdrawal have given us the media-savvy and stone-age-savage Daesh to contend with for the foreseeable future.

A counterpoint to the colonel’s argument that the military ignores political and cultural considerations would be the

U.S. Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, execute a fire mission with an M777 howitzer during an operation to support Iraqi security forces at Kara Soar Base, Iraq, Aug. 7, 2016. Battery C Soldiers support the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve mission by providing indirect fire support for Iraqi security forces as they continue to combat Da’esh and re-take lost terrain. The assistance and support these Soldiers provide demonstrate the commitment of the United States as part of a Coalition of regional and international nations joined together to defeat ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region and the wider international community. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel I Johnson/Released
U.S. Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, execute a fire mission with an M777 howitzer during an operation to support Iraqi security forces at Kara Soar Base, Iraq, Aug. 7, 2016. Battery C Soldiers support the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve mission by providing indirect fire support for Iraqi security forces as they continue to combat Da’esh and re-take lost terrain. The assistance and support these Soldiers provide demonstrate the commitment of the United States as part of a Coalition of regional and international nations joined to defeat ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel I Johnson/Released

War in Afghanistan, during which the commanders made a dramatic reactionary swing from the full exercise of active power to an extremely culturally sensitive (some would argue paranoid) multi-tiered system for requesting permission to engage possible hostiles, especially with higher-damage weaponry such as close air support and artillery.  While designed to minimize civilian casualties in line with the “hearts and minds” theory, soldiers on the ground frequently complained that the rules tied their hands and exposed them to additional, unnecessary risk.  Captain (now Major) William Swenson loudly criticized the military’s decision not to provide air support to his troops – due to this risk-adverseness – on the day of the battle for which he received the Medal of Honor.  Many people familiar with his case believe (but cannot prove) that the mysterious loss of his MoH recommendation for two years was due to these criticisms.  Five officers were eventually disciplined over the incident.

How much credence is given to political and cultural considerations is a necessary decision that must be made at the Presidential level, with full and open input from the military and other concerned agencies.  In the end, the President and his advisers must choose the type of war they intend to wage, the level of casualties they are willing to accept, and the monetary cost of the conflict that they will accept.  To say that political considerations such as the will of the people and the threat perception of the public can be ignored for a definitive victory is tempting but unrealistic in today’s world.  Soldiers on the ground may not like the final decision, but it is far removed from their hands.

A Peshmerga soldier engages his target at a weapons range, as a German coalition instructor looks on, during a six-week infantry basic course near Erbil, Iraq, Jan. 12, 2016. Peshmerga soldiers attend a six-week infantry basic course that will help them gain more skills to aid in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). There are six Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve training locations, four building partner capacity sites and two specialized training sites. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Sergio Rangel/Released)
A Peshmerga soldier engages his target at a weapons range, as a German coalition instructor looks on, during a six-week infantry basic course near Erbil, Iraq, Jan. 12, 2016. Peshmerga soldiers attend a six-week infantry basic course that will help them gain more skills to aid in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). There are six Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve training locations, four building partner capacity sites and two specialized training sites. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Sergio Rangel/Released)

The second counterpoint to COL Meilinger’s argument lies within the military’s doctrine.  Joint Publication 3-0 (published four years after the article) contains the doctrine of unified action, which is defined as “a comprehensive approach that synchronizes, coordinates, and when appropriate, integrates military operations with the activities of other governmental and non-governmental organizations to achieve unity of effort.”  Arguably, this concept should wholly remove the issues of cultural conflicts and failure to plan for the peace.

Various governmental and non-governmental agencies who specialize in bringing to bear the full spectrum of US power (diplomatic, information, military, and economic) to achieve the desired strategic end state realize the pre-approved termination criteria.

“specified conditions approved by the President or Secretary of Defense that must be met before a joint operation [including unified action] can be concluded.”

Perhaps we’ve finally learned from our mistakes.  Realistically, even with a section devoted to it in military doctrine, real unified action will only take place if an emphasis is put on it during the initial planning phase by the President and his various Secretaries.  Otherwise, it remains a very good idea in a neat book, and COL Meilinger’s points of the short-term aberration of war and all of its associated shortfalls remain the reality faced by the troops.

Further Reading:
COL Meilinger’s article (pg. 80)
George Washington’s Farewell Address
Joint Publication 3-0

About the author

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served in various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

How The US Army Manual On Rifle and Carbine Was Developed According To The Guy Who Wrote It

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TC 3-22.9

Greetings to the readers of RE Factor Tactical’s Blog. I am SFC Ash Hess and the Senior Writer for the recently released TC 3-22.9 Rifle and Carbine.

Last week RE Factor asked if I would like to do a write-up on the book, its development and what’s next. I jumped at the chance as this will be my biggest opportunity to thank the group that indeed made it possible and let many people know what is coming next. It is best to give a little back story on the project that will allow you to see the scale of what was accomplished.

The Beginning

In 2012 I was given the guidance to build a course for the 10th Mountain Lightfighters School that matched the FM 3-22.9, was able to be duplicated by the graduates, and created highly skilled marksmen. This required me to truly dig into the FM and find ways to make the course teach the things I had learned at TigerSwan, from Kyle Defoor, the vast knowledge of Kyle Lamb, and many others. Therein the problem rested. FM 3-22.9 was a maze of training strategy, marksmanship techniques, positions and advanced skills. That manual had five different prone posts in it that were not based on combat, they were based on where in the training cycle you were. The pictures did not match the words, and the standing position had two variants based on range. This led me to make an attempt to get in contact with whoever at Fort Benning was writing the manual and ask some questions.

If you have been around the Army in any way, you know what happened next. I found the people who had more questions than I did despite them being tasked to work on the manual. These individuals were attempting to turn an aircraft carrier with a paddle, and the process was still in early stages. I maintained contact with them and met some of them in person two years later when I attended the newly formed Master Marksmanship Trainer Course. I also came down on orders for Fort Benning at nearly that same time. As fate would have it, I landed in the very office that was writing the new manual.

A short time later, I became the 27th NCO and 28th person to work on the 3-22.9. Imagine if you will a document that had been recycled since the late 1980’s that had 28 people press their version of what was important and the most recent technique into that document. As you can imagine, it was not pretty. It was long, drab, and bounced from one subject to the next based on two years of meetings with various units, groups, and individuals.

I was determined to start completely fresh with some specific guidelines in place that were unavailable to the previous owners. This allowed me to gather a group of friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and ultimately some people who had been calling out my office about what we were doing. All of these people helped in some form or fashion craft and steered what would be published.

The most credit goes to the 10th Mountain, 82nd and 101st Master Gunners and marksmanship gurus. They have been involved since the 2nd day of the project. They steered, tested, calmed, and guided me on the path of building a book that best suited their needs. These guys spent hours poring over ideas and pages of things that I created. They took those things refined them and sent them back to me. More times than not they wondered if I had had a urinalysis recently but patiently made things smooth.

About the time we had a working product, a member of a state-level marksmanship unit was publicly saying that he had heard the new book was being written and since they were not involved it was going to be subpar. So I invited him and his people to be part of the group. Their input allowed us to see things from a state level and ensure that everyone would be able to apply the stuff we published.

Now firearms use in the Army is much like fitness on the outside. Everyone is an expert. Everyone has their favorite way of doing things, or favorite person to listen to. We had over 500,000 people on active duty and that many in the Reserves and Guard at the time. This makes a project like this harder in that everyone wants their way to be THE way.

These guys, which totaled about 20 total, provided great insight into training in the units. We combined this with most of the things that the US Army Marksmanship Unit wanted from the book. I will let you all know now that not one single person, let alone group, got everything they wanted from this book. Even the people who only wanted buy in from one group didn’t get that. What everyone got was a highly valuable book.

That leads me to the scale of this book. This book outlines the “how” we want over 1 million people to use the Rifle or carbine. That’s 1 million people today. That number doesn’t account for change over or the long term change over. When you have highly skilled, opinionated, and passionate people debating the proper way to say how to pull a trigger and you have to make it simple for millions of individuals to understand, it gets fascinating.

So there is the baseline for what I have been doing since March of 2015. Many people think that the published book has been in progress for eight years. In reality a year ago it was a name and a table of contents. With the collected knowledge of the group mentioned above combined with much typing and talking on my part resulted in a leap forward book which has been praised in may reviews since its release. It is easy to shoot. It is harder to teach shooting. It is harder to type about shooting, and hardest to get everyone to agree on what is typed. Despite many days of anger, meetings, passion fueled lively debates EVERYONE had the best product in mind, and the Army is better for it.

The Book

Now, a thousand words into this, I can start to get into what the TC 3-22.9 is. It is designed from inception to be a Soldiers book. It does not cover how to run a range, qualification, or training strategy in it. We focused on what a Solider needs to know while shooting their rifle. .” any Soldier of any rank. A shooting manual if you will. It is cargo pocket sized and as mentioned in RE Factors’ review has some things that are missing. The goal was to have the important things laid out, so the individual has access to them in a building block format. The book discusses the rifle, the optics, the accessories, then once all that is taught, how to use all those things. We looked at the truth and how we taught those things. We settled on the Shot Process as our baseline. We pulled the shot process directly from the AMU and built upon that. We needed separation and decided to use Stability, Aim, Control, and finally Movement as the places to put all the information. This in itself is a simplified shot process that without tying importance on to things as is the habit, allows it to be taught in a sequence. First, you build a position and things like grip and Stockweld based on the weapon. Then you aim which is sight alignment and sight picture. Then you control the trigger and the multitude of other things that can have effects on the shot like focus. Movement describes how to take all this stuff and move. Moving has effects on stability, aiming, and control. It is critical to learn because offensive operations will require movement.

Shot process

There are new things such as a different way to deal with malfunctions that we made as simple as possible in real language. We hoped that the NO BANG on the chart was self-explanatory to all that use the book, but as we found out recently, it wasn’t. We didn’t add pages of pictures and words to the book on malfunctions and reloaded.

As NCO’s, we believe the NCO is the primary trainer in units. Rather than dilute the book with 30 techniques that a Soldier may or may not use, we saved some things for the next book.

What’s Next

At this moment, we are in the early stages of building what is referred to as the “trainer book”. This book will be “How to train all the things in the TC3-22.9”. It is going to cover each phase and lay out the best techniques to teach soldiers about the rifle or carbine, how to operate and zero their optics, what accessories do what, the shot process and how to make the best use of the things in the elements. Without having to explain all that in text, it frees us up to lay out the ways to see sight alignment with all sights, how to know a good position, when to use that position, and pros and cons of all.

It also allows us to allow leaders to select which reload matches their SOPs and teach the one they chose most important. An example is most units teach magazine retention on reloads. Some units do not teach that technique. This book will allow us to show both techniques without bias toward either. As for malfunctions, we now have space to lay out the entire process of reducing each type and allow the leader to show Soldiers via hands on.

One of the coolest things about this book is the same group who developed the 3-22.9 will be testing and validating every word in the book. The group teaches courses on a daily basis, and we can test each line on Soldiers as we write it.

The final validation of that book will come from the Master Marksmanship Trainer Course. This course is the TRADOC built course that was spearheaded by the US Army Marksmanship Unit and is in the final stages of validation itself. This course will serve as the baseline for marksmanship instruction in the future much as the Master Gunner School does for Armor and the MACP does for combative.

This book should be finished by September of this year and will go through the publishing process with a hopeful publish of late 2016 or 2017. The time it will take is in the testing of every word and the fact that MMTC is five weeks long.

Overmatch

In Closing  

The Army has taken a keen interest how we use weapons over the past few years. Improving it is interesting and was littered with institutional inbreeding, ego, passion, haste, laziness, and moments of epic frustration. This is exactly what you want a book to go through that million of Americans could take to the battlefields of the future. We owed the American people, her sons and daughters, and all those that came before us the best product we could make. All the people I mentioned in this process made that happen. Their skill and professionalism made it possible. Hopefully, this has given some insight into the process and the future.

SFC Ash Hess

Weapons and Gunnery Branch

Directorate of Training and.Doctrine

Maneuver Center of Excellence

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About SFC Ash Hess
I am a 20+ year Cavalry Scout with four tours overseas. I am a graduate of the Master Marksmanship Trainer course, The 75th Ranger Regiment’s Small Arms Leaders Course, and Ranger Marksmanship Instructor Course; I was the primary developer of the 10th Mountain Divisions Rifle Marksmanship Instructor course, Urban Operations Course, and Machine Gun Leaders Course.
I have been to multiple civilian courses from Defoor Proformance and TigerSwan.
I am currently the Senior Small Arms Writer for the MCoE and primary writer of the TC 3-22.9 Rifle and Carbine, TC 3-22.35 Pistol and overseeing the revamp of TC 3-23.10 Sniper Operations.

There Is A New Army Training Circular And It’s Awesome As Hell

For anyone who doesn’t anxiously await the release of new Army publications, there is a new Training Circular out – TC 3-22.9 Rifle and Carbine.  I may be a little late to the game, as it was released a week ago, but here are a few of the highlights of this TC, which replaces Field Manual 3-22.9, Rifle Marksmanship, M16-/M4-Series Weapons.
Cover page
First off, the information has been updated.  A lot.  And it seems to be genuinely aimed at helping soldiers learn to fight with their rifles, not run a flat range qualification.  The illustrations are better (someone finally figured out you can illustrate with a computer, not just hand drawings), and the information is presented in a much more readable format (lots of tables and figures for those of us who can’t just read a bulleted paragraph and learn), especially in the sections on leads, environmental conditions, and range estimation.
internals
Second, the Army has finally started to catch up to modern “tactical” shooting.

prone 1
Ever been told that putting your magazine on the ground will cause your gun to jam?  The Army officially says that’s not true.

workspace
Workspace is no longer just referring to the place where the lieutenants get stuffed into cubicles.

high ready
There is actually a ready position that doesn’t require your muzzle be pointed at the ground (although the verbiage still passive aggressively discourages it, at least they discuss the validity).

no bang
The malfunction correction flow chart will undoubtedly give memers something to laugh about for days, although it’s actually a lot more functional than anything the FM had (but the Army still won’t teach you how to “mortar” because you might hurt yourself and break your gun).

walking
The “duck-walk” is no longer cool.

prone 2
You might actually have to fire from a prone position other than the one from qualifications.

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Oh, and you don’t have to perfectly place your trigger finger anymore.

Now, is this new TC perfect?  Of course not.  I can state from experience that by the time you manage to capture tactics in a document (especially within a bureaucracy), they are no longer the latest and greatest.  There are a few things that they don’t cover that I would have liked to see, like magazine changes.  But, considering that this is the first MAJOR revision to marksmanship since 2008, it represents a lot of hard work from the subject matter experts in the field to catch Big Army up to more relevant marksmanship tactics.  If you haven’t read it, hit it up here.  Take it to the bathroom with you the next time your significant other gripes that you don’t do anything in there and claim professional development.  Don’t really care how you read it, but at least give it a look.  Enjoy!

About the author

Joel is an 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

How To Set Up Your Rifle Sights And Optics

Setting up your rifle is a very personal affair, much like setting up your gear.  With today’s accessories available for the AR and AK platforms, the sky is pretty much the limit, barring agency resrictions.  In the end, your rifle’s setup needs to be effective and efficient for you.  As with any other gear choice, mission drives the gear and its setup.  With that in mind, I’ll present my thoughts on rifle gear choices from sights to lights to slings over the course of the next few articles.  I’ve covered sights and optics briefly here, but I’ll go a bit more in-depth.

Sights:

Yes, I consider back up iron sights (BUIS) to be necessary because I’ve seen both Aimpoints and EOTechs fail without warning.  Which ones you choose is up to you, but application drives choice.  Despite the hundreds of various models out there, I can’t say that any particular front or rear sight really sticks with me.  Typically, I tend to use the standard round, two aperture rear with an A2 style front.  With a red dot, I prefer a fixed front sight and fixed rear, and I run the rear sight on the 0-200 aperture.  If my red dot goes down, my transition to  irons is quick and easy.  If I use a magnifier, I prefer a fold down rear for when the magnifier is mounted.  With a magnified optic, such as a 1-6 power, I prefer offset irons.  Even with the offset irons, I run them always up except for storage.

Optics:

I’m a huge fan of red dots, and to be honest, they’re pretty much the norm on long guns at this point in time.  Most sights are designed to be unlimited eye relief and parallax free, meaning you can get a solid sight picture no matter where you place the optic on your rifle’s rail or how your head lines up with the sight; theoretically you could mount as far forward as you like.  With that said, no sight is completely parallax free, so I prefer to set the optic up as far to the rear as I can to minimize the effect.  I also find that for me, the closer to my eye the sight is, the easier it is for me to acquire.  Typically my only hindrances to rearward mounting are the BUIS and a magnifier, if I choose to use one, and both are fairly simple to work around, especially with the latest generation of micro red dot sights and magnifier mounts.  Red dots are designed for fast acquisition, and are extremely useful when your mission is primarily CQB/short engagement distance related.

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Red dot sight with magnifier and BUIS.

A magnifier adds the capability of engagement at medium ranges, as well as enhanced target identification.  There are some extra considerations for a magnifier/red dot combination, however.  First, any magnified optic brings with it the issue of eye relief, defined as “the distance from the last surface of an eyepiece at which the user’s eye can obtain the full viewing image.”  If you are not within this “sweet spot,” typically 2-3 inches from the glass, you will find your view looks an awful lot like looking down the tube of a paper towel roll at an angle – you won’t see the full picture at the other end.  This need to find the eye relief can slow down target acquisition through the magnifier in close quarters or otherwise.  Most magnifier/red dot companies compensate for this by mounting the magnifier in a flip or twist mount, allowing the user to move the magnifier out of the way for CQB use and replace it quickly for more precise use.  The magnification level of these optics is usually fixed – you either have their full magnification or you have the 1x red dot – and usually remains below the 4x power range, which can be limiting for distance engagement.  Also, the magnifier has to be mounted somewhere, which means it is taking up real estate on your upper.  That typically pushes the red dot sight further away from your eye, increasing the possibility of parallax (albeit in a relatively miniscule way), and possibly making acquisition a little slower.  A magnifier/red dot combo may be extremely useful in a perimeter security role where CQB may be involved, such as first responders who may have to confront an active shooter, but also may be expected to hold the perimeter at a drawn out event where engagement distances are inside 200 yards.

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An illuminated reticle magnified optic – in this case, a Vortex.

Many manufacturers have attempted to rectify the drawbacks of the red dot/magnifier combo with a variable power (usually 1-4x or 1-6x) illuminated reticle magnified optic.  These optics eliminate the on/off nature of the magnifier by giving the user the ability to zoom to their needed level of magnification, and also remove an additional piece of hardware from the equation.  Many also feature a bullet drop reticle that allow not only compensation for longer distance shots, but also serve as handy hold-overs for close quarters use.  However, as a magnified optic they are still subject to the need for proper eye relief.  The place I’ve found this most difficult to acquire is switching shoulders for corner clearance in CQB.  That’s not to say that a magnified optic can’t be used in CQB, just that the user needs to be aware and train that acquisition thoroughly.  If CQB is in your mission and a magnified optic is used, I recommend one that has as close to true 1x power as possible.  Some optics use 1.5x or 2x as their starting magnification, and this can cause issues for shooting with both eyes open, because the brain cannot easily reconcile one eye seeing 1x and the other seeing 2x.  Not everyone needs a magnified optic, but it can be a good compromise for individuals who expect to move from a CQB to a designated marksman style role on a regular basis (read: fairly equal amounts of CQB and DM inside 300 yards) during missions, or for civilians who can’t afford multiple weapons setups.

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Illuminated reticle magnified optic with offset BUIS.

For individuals who will primarily be working in a longer range role (300+ yards), but have to move to their observation point, a combination of the above may be needed.  A magnified optic with a red dot mounted above or at a 45 degree angle could be the answer in those situations.  Typically the optics used at this range start at 3x and go up.  Their reticles are usually not lighted like the 1-4x optics may be, and are not set up for rapid target acquisition at extremely close ranges.  The red dot, especially micro red dots, minimizes the extra weight, but allows for rapid acquisition during movement to and from an observation point, where the magnified optic will be used for distance engagements.

Hopefully this has been helpful for you.  As always, I can give suggestions and and items for your consideration, but I can’t tell you definitively what will work for you.  Your mission drives your gear and your setup.  Find one (or more, if you can) that is effective and efficient, then practice with it, adjust it, and practice some more.

Joel is an 11 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Lessons I Learned from The 2010 Haiti Earthquake

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In January of 2010, I was sitting in my room in the Hotel Caribe, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti sipping on a Coke. Haiti hadn’t experienced an earthquake in over 50 years, and all the risk assessments my team had done prior to our arrival had indicated that the greatest danger to us was from street crime or riots. My team had personal cell phones, a satellite phone, and an Embassy-issued radio on the net operated by Post One. I won’t go into details concerning the quake, as a Google search can provide you with that information, but I would like to share several things I learned:

Complacency can get you killed. Have a plan, practice it as much as you can, and don’t count on someone coming to save you. Emergency services in a catastrophic event (those that aren’t affected by the event) will be focused on the most severe injuries or most severely damaged areas. My team was required to submit a mission plan that included procedures for what to do in an emergency. Quite frankly, I did a crap job of sitting down and thinking about what could happen. I blame it on personal complacency. By this point, I had completed 2.5 years of mobile training teams on 5 continents. Nothing had ever happened, and I was in the mindset that nothing ever would. My plan for everything was the same: call the Embassy. When the earthquake hit, the initial panic and injuries among personnel (both permanent party and TDY) resulted in Post One having to assume control of the net and regulating traffic. If you weren’t severely injured, you weren’t getting through. We had a vehicle, but didn’t know how to get to the Embassy (all our driving was done by a hired driver), and we didn’t have a map. We also had no weapons. You don’t necessarily wander around certain parts of Haiti during normal daylight hours, much less when all security and social services just disappeared.

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Know your equipment and how to use it. This is one reason I’m a huge fan of the Operator Band Practice Kit. All the equipment in the world won’t help you if you’re looking at it for the first time in the moment you need to use it. My team was issued a medical kit from Adventure Medical Kits, designed to treat everything from a hot spot to a gunshot wound. Nobody on my team, myself included, had ever opened the kit to actually see what was in it, or read the field medicine guide that it contained. My team also had Ultimate Survival Kits in a bottle. Like the medical kit, we had never opened those kits, and we found ourselves digging through them in the dark trying to find the batteries to put in our flashlights. Our satellite phone required a password to use, and we had rarely used it outside of checking to see if the battery was charged. Under stress, the password was forgotten, and we ended up locking the phone out.

Be prepared for a total communications failure. Due to the massive damage to the infrastructure, all cell phone service was lost. We locked out our satellite phone in the chaos, and the radio network was jammed with people needing assistance. The military teaches you to plan for up to four different methods of communications. We lost all three that we had available in a matter of minutes. During another natural disaster, Hurricane Rita, I was in Houston for the evacuation. As over 3 million people attempted to leave the city, all cell phone communication went down. The only comms that would go through were burst comms such as text or the old Sprint push-to-talk phones. And this happened before the hurricane even came ashore.

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Stay calm. I know this sounds a little ridiculous, because you’ve been told this a thousand times. I can tell you that it is imperative, and a lot harder than it sounds. Once the world stopped shaking, the only thing I could think about was getting us out of the hotel. There were two exits from the hallway, one into the lobby, and one into a stairwell. The exit into the lobby was partially blocked by fallen debris, including what appeared to be electrical wiring. The exit toward the stairs was only slightly better. I was preparing to head down the hall toward the stairs when one of my guys pointed out that we were only on the second floor, each room had a balcony, and there was a landscaping feature that reduced our drop from the balcony to less than 5 feet. That little fact made our exit significantly safer, not to mention easier. After we realized that we weren’t trapped, it made it a little easier to calm down, which allowed us to prioritize the equipment we needed to take with us. We initially escaped with our med kit, survival kits, water, some snacks, and our sat phone. As the evening wore on, we eventually had to go back to get some clothing to share with other hotel guests, but our initial evacuation left the three of us pretty equipped to make it through at least the night.

They say that without self-reflection and critique, you can never make progress.  Well, what you’ve just read represents a stinging critique of my mindset and preparation at the time. A lot of it may be old hat to the guys on here that have multiple combat tours under their belt, but hopefully this will be useful to someone, and my mistakes can help you be more prepared.

All photos were taken the next morning, after we had gone back in to get the last of our personal gear before being evacuated to the Dominican Republic.

About the author:

Woody is an 11 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Communicate Better With Your Guys By Following These Rules of Thumb

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Continuing in the theme of military concepts in civilian life from our last blog entry, this post is about communications. I think I can honestly say that in military operations, communications is always one of the top items critiqued during an after action review. Even if all objectives were met, there seems to be some sort of communications issue that made reaching those objectives that much harder. A well thought out communications plan makes recovering from those issues less burdensome and lessens their impact on mission accomplishment.

The military typically uses the acronym PACE: Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency. While it may seem as if these are just four names for four communications methods, it goes a bit deeper. Ideally, communications methods are selected from most expedient for the mission to least expedient. They should also be as distinct as possible from each other in order to give the greatest chance of the other methods working if the primary fails. For example, you wouldn’t necessarily want to just have four different VHF radio channels as your PACE, because if the radio itself fails, you’ve just lost all four possible methods of communications. However, if you had a VHF radio channel (very expedient), a satellite phone (distinct from the radio, not quite as fast, but still relatively expedient), a cellular phone (not as secure, and therefore less desirable than VHF or SAT, but still workable), and a courier (not at all expedient, but functional in an emergency) as your PACE, you have established four distinct methods of communications that are not contingent upon each other for function. Obviously there are other considerations, such as operational security and availability of communications methods, but ideally, you should shoot for distinct methods.

Now, in the civilian world you may not have access to all the various communications methods the military does, but you can still use the principles when setting up your plan. Cellular phones are probably the most common form of civilian communication, but even within that realm, you have the option of text or voice communication. In an emergency, or in an area where there are many people all trying to talk at the same time (such as a hurricane evacuation, or just a large sporting event), text communication often has a better chance of success than a voice call because it doesn’t require a constant connection with the cell tower, and you don’t have dozens of people around you talking over you and garbling your transmission. For example, during the Hurricane Rita evacuation in Houston, cellular voice calls were almost impossible to make due to the large number of people flooding the towers, but texts and burst voice, such as the Sprint push-to-talk phones, remained reliable throughout. For those involved in Amateur Radio, your options are a little more extensive, with VHF, UHF, HF, and SAT voice and text available, depending on your license level. Other options include Family Radio Service and General Mobile Radio Service (FRS/GMRS), or Citizen’s Band (CB) radios, but these are often limited in range and subject to extensive traffic during an event. As always, landline phone, email, and courier remain older, but still viable options depending on your situation.

A schedule for communication – set by time or waypoint – can help make sure your team stays in contact and can assist in determining whether or not you need to begin the transition to your alternate communications methods. If you choose not to use a communications schedule, at the very least you need to determine and publicize the criteria that guide the switch from your primary to your alternate methods of communications. If you are dealing with a fixed command post or something similar, they should be monitoring all four methods at any given time. If you are dealing with another team, however, they may not have all four methods up at all times, whether due to licensure constraints, battery preservation, or simply trouble with one of their systems. Knowing the agreed upon criteria, such as a missed comms window, will spur them to begin contingency procedures.

Essentially, while you may not have all the different modes of communication as a civilian that the military does, the key is to recognize the possible weak link in your plan and adjust accordingly to minimize its effects. Whether by bringing that annoying little FRS radio with you in addition to your phone, or just planning a check-in schedule and rally point for your family if you anticipate getting split up during a planned or emergent event, having a good communications plan can go a long way towards peace of mind and mission success.

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About the author:

Woody is an 11 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Here’s the Deal With Special Forces Training Area Pineland

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Pineland is a fictitious country located in North Carolina, developed by the United States Army Special Forces Command to train Special Forces, Psyops and Civil Affairs in unconventional warfare.  The basic scenario of Pineland is that the government has been overthrown through a violent coup and US forces are now assisting a guerrilla force that aim to overthrow the de facto government and restore order to the nation.  Around eight times a year Special Forces soldier infiltrate into Pineland via parachute, vehicle, helicopter and foot and link up with their guerrilla forces.  The guerrilla forces are comprised primarily of Active Duty soldiers and volunteer civilians who participate in the exercise often referred to as Robin Sage.

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Pineland’s geography mimics North Carolina’s and the common language is english.  There is a fake currency known as Don which can be used to pay guerrilla forces, transportation and even food in some of the participating restaurants.  There are even fake firefights that take place in the middle of town centers and residential neighborhoods using blank ammunition.  Thousands of residents in North Carolina have participated in Robin Sage for years acting in various roles from town mayors to CIA contacts all designed to help train the Special Forces soldiers.

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Fake Pineland currency known as Don

The missions that take place within Pineland include everything from hostage rescue to building a bridge for the local populace.  Special Forces soldiers conduct raids on bridges and emplace fake explosive charges after killing or capturing UPA (Unified Provinces of Atlantica) or they meet with underground forces to gather intelligence on enemy movements and operations.  The goal of the exercise is to train the resistance forces to a point where they can successfully overthrow the UPA government and restore order.  This is done through ongoing training of the resistance forces while in Pineland and an operations plan where the SF soldiers gradually pass the responsibility of training and operations to the forces to the point where they can operate unilaterally.  This is designed to train SF soldiers for real world scenarios such as Afghanistan where they are conducting similar operations.  In many ways the Special Forces soldier’s job is to train themselves out of a job and leave behind a fully operational force that can conduct ongoing operations without the help of US personnel.

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Pineland Resistance Forces Flag

To purchase the Pineland Sticker go tohttps://www.refactortactical.com/shop/end-the-oppression-of-pineland-sticker/

Want to Learn More About Pineland and Special Forces Training?