Tag Archives: training

How to use the Human Resources Target

Images ©Copyright 2017 RE Factor Tactical

The Human Resources Target was created at the request of U.S. Special Operations units for improving their already advanced shooting capabilities. Units from the SOF community needed a target that would provide diversity and complication,  as well as test the skills of their operators in various situations.

There are five different variations of the targets to provide the shooter with an unlimited number of drills and scenarios. Each target contains five shapes placed inside and around a standard torso silhouette, differentiating in numbers, letters, colors, and shapes. This is a similar system to that of our IQ Targets, which are also used among other SOF units, law enforcement, professional shooters, and everyday civilians looking to improve their shooting abilities. The primary shooting zones on the H.R.T. targets are the T-box zone for the head, a large circle for the chest area that approximates the location of vital organs, and an upside-down triangle to simulate the pelvic cavity of the human body.

Need work on your target transitions? Read our blog, This Drill is Designed to help work on your Target Transitions

Additionally, we have added two more secondary shapes, (one on each side of the head) to simulate either hostage scenarios or shoot/no-shoot scenarios. All of the secondary shapes, vary from target to target, to make the shooter look and think before he/she shoots.

The torso silhouette features three primary target areas – the T-box (head), a large center circle (chest) that approximates the location of vital organs, and an inverted triangle (pelvic cavity). Two additional shapes, one on each side of the head, have been included to simulate either hostage or shoot/no-shoot scenarios. All of the secondary shapes vary from target to target, forcing the shooter to look and think before firing.

The Human Resources Target is the perfect target for CQB/shoot house style training, due to the vast number of scenarios that can be built from different target variations. Drills can be as simple or as complex as the shooter desires, and can continuously change between iterations. Both instructors and shooters can quickly alter the focus of a drill by marking specific target variations as shoot/no shoot. This challenges the shooter to quickly identify targets as threats or friendlies when entering a room or while on the move. The same drills and principles can also be applied to basic flat range training,  making the targets more useful for instructors and students. The Human Resources Target and all of our other training aids are available at tacticalequipment.com.

Want to improve your marksmanship? Read our blog, 5 Gun Targets to Increase your Marksmanship

What should you do when there is an active shooter?

Image courtesy of David Becker/Getty Images

The common misconception that we live within well-disposed, nonviolent communities is a self-destructive dogma that repeatedly endangers not only our own lives but the lives of those around us. Society’s collective decision to deliberately ignore pragmatic threats has built our communities on the fundamental and false premise that we are always safe and that threats do not exist. However, history shows us quite the opposite, proving the existence of consistent threats to our safety.

Mass shootings, such as Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Orlando, and most recently Las Vegas, show us that our personal safety can be threatened anywhere, regardless of how arguably “safe” you believe your location to be. That being said, the threat of active shooters is REAL and more common than we choose to acknowledge. Naturally, this poses the question – What should I do in the event of an active shooter? Here’s a quick guideline:

Establish Your Plan – Without endangering yourself, the first thing you’ll need to do is to figure out what exactly is going on. This means assessing not only the threat but also your current situation and the situation of those around you. Do you have the ability to get yourself to safety? Should you remain in place and harden your defenses? Will my actions endanger those around me?

Execute Your Plan – Your primary goal should be SAFETY, whether that means you have to run to it or stay where you are. Do your best to remove yourself and others (if possible) from the situation so that you are safely out of harm’s way.

Communicate – If others are around you, let them know your plan. If you must flee your location, share your escape route with others. If you choose to say and hide, cooperate with others to harden your defenses to ensure you’ve made effective barricades and cover. Communication also includes working with law enforcement or first responders to notify them of your situation, whether that be any injuries or immediate threats.

Don’t Be A Hero – Just because you sank $2k into your tricked out 1911 and look like a badass doing your static weaver stance at your bi-monthly range visit, doesn’t mean you should be taking on an active shooter. The shooter has planned his attack and hopes get the drop on you, most likely have studied the lay of the land and having firepower superiority. You also don’t want to be mistaken by law enforcement as an active shooter. Fighting should always be a last resort, used only when your immediate safety is threatened. Let the cops do their job and focus on getting out alive.

Daesh’s Global Presence and Homeland Threats

Ultimately, you can never be 100% prepared for an active shooter, as your situation will always dictate your response. However, understanding the present situation and prioritizing your safety will increase your chances of survival.

Remember – complacency kills and vigilance is constant.

How to Properly Set Up and Wear a Combat Tourniquet

Disclaimer:  These are only suggestions or proper setup 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 set up and place a combat tourniquet on your gear.

Step 1- 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 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 adhere to the velcro on the tourniquet. If the 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, none of which are carried on their first line of equipment.  This causes personnel to walk around the 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 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 setup. 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 What A Training Weekend Looks Like with the Virginia Defense Force

The VDF shoulder insignia. Photo credit JKC.
The VDF shoulder insignia. Photo credit JKC.

Some of you may remember a previous article I wrote on citizens, the police reserves, and state guards.  Well, I had a chance today to observe some training that the local unit of the Virginia Defense Force was conducting, as well as talk to the Commander of First Regiment, Major Richard Rheinsmith.

First, a little about the mission of the VDF from their website:

“The Virginia Defense Force (VDF) is an all-volunteer, formal military organization. Its mission is to assist the Virginia National Guard in performing state missions as specified by the Governor.

Special Forces Training

The VDF is the state’s only military force that is independent of federal control. With units located throughout the state, at the direction of the Department of Military Affairs, the VDF can move into a stricken area quickly, interact with and assist local authorities and restore community integrity as soon as possible. Working during blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disasters, the VDF volunteers are familiar faces working in nearby towns and cities bringing aid and comfort to their neighbors.”

And from the Code of Virginia:

“The Virginia Defense Force with a targeted membership of at least 1,200 shall be organized within and subject to the control of the Department of Military Affairs.

Special Forces PT Test

When called to state active duty, the mission of the Virginia Defense Force shall be to (i) provide for an adequately trained organized reserve militia to assume control of Virginia National Guard facilities and to secure any federal and state property left in place in the event of the mobilization of the Virginia National Guard, (ii) assist in the mobilization of the Virginia National Guard, (iii) support the Virginia National Guard in providing family assistance to military dependents within the Commonwealth in the event of the mobilization of the Virginia National Guard, and (iv) provide a military force to respond to the call of the Governor in those circumstances described in § 44-75.1.”

And a little about their history:

Virginia State Volunteers / Virginia Volunteers: 1917-1921

In response to the 1917 federalization of the Virginia National Guard, the Commonwealth of Virginia created the Virginia State Volunteers to support civil authorities. Soon renamed the Virginia Volunteers, the group guarded bridges, waterways, fuel storage areas, and public buildings and facilities during the war years, armed with surplus weapons dating back to 1876. With the return of the National Guard units after World War I, the last company of the Virginia Volunteers was deactivated in 1921. A total of 1,300 Virginians served in the Virginia Volunteers from 1917 to 1921.

Virginia Protective Force / Virginia State Guard: 1941-1947

Following the 1940 Nazi defeat of the French army, Virginia Governor Price created the Virginia Defense Council to plan for the possibility that the Virginia National Guard could be federalized once again. Based on the recommendation of the council, Governor Price ordered the establishment of the Virginia Protective Force on January 2, 1941. Provided surplus M-1917 Enfield rifles and blue-grey wool uniforms made in the state’s penitentiaries, the Virginia Protective Force assumed the in-state missions of the Virginia National Guard when it was called to federal service. In 1944 the General Assembly changed the name of the Virginia Protective Force to the Virginia State Guard. With the return of the Virginia National Guard from overseas service, the Commonwealth deactivated the Virginia State Guard in June 1947. A total of 16,885 Virginians served in the Virginia Protective Force and Virginia State Guard from 1941 to 1947.

Virginia State Guard / Virginia Defense Force: 1985-Present

The Total Force policies of the Department of Defense prompted changes to federal law in the mid-1980s, allowing states to establish military forces designated to assume the missions of their state National Guards in the event they were called to federal service. With planning dating back to 1981, the Commonwealth created the first units of the new Virginia State Guard in 1985 with same mission as its predecessors: support of civil authority. In 1989 the General Assembly renamed the Virginia State Guard the Virginia Defense Force. The Virginia Defense Force currently has more than 1000 men and women serving their communities throughout the Commonwealth.

The training I got to observe this weekend was crowd control and entry control points, conducted in conjunction with a

Practicing shield work. Photo credit JKC.
Practicing shield work. Photo credit JKC.

local National Guard unit.  I know the stereotype of State Guard members is typically less than favorable, but I was impressed with how seriously the volunteers were taking the training.  There were a wide variety of ages represented, from teens to retired adults.  There were also a variety of experiences, from untrained to retired military to civilian professionals and first responders.  All were engaged and willing.  The first training day encompassed classroom and practical, including expandable baton, takedowns, empty hand control, and a use of force brief from the Judge Advocate.  The second day covered ECP and vehicle searches, then riot control with the shield and baton.

Top Apps for Operational Fitness

While this particular drill weekend was focused on a security/law enforcement mission, it certainly isn’t the only mission the VDF undertakes.  During the weekend the 1st Regiment also supported a multi-state communications exercise using High Frequency Radios called TAC-PAK’s – a multi-user “Briefcase Command Center”.  These lightweight, battery-powered, man-portable communication platforms (with full wireless communications functionality) are integrated into small suitcases and attached to Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT’s).   This is what the VDF uses when they provide communications support for disasters and other emergent events along with their other assistance to planned events (such as manning aid booths and parking).

Conducting radio inventory. Photo credit JKC.
Conducting radio inventory. Photo credit JKC.

Elements of the VDF are training in wilderness search and rescue, and there is a new cyber unit that will be assisting with major planned events within the next year.

To tie this into the previous article: the VDF is all-volunteer, and they only get paid when they are called to state active duty, so their drills and associated expenses (gas, gear, food, etc.) are all out of pocket.  They perform a service to the state by augmenting local and state agencies, as well as the National Guard during planned and emergent events, and they do it because they want to.  To me, this is a positive example of the kind of citizen engagement that our country really needs today.  As MAJ Rheinsmith said, “Our volunteer members bring to the table their individually developed skillset.  Through collaboration, cohesion and common goals, we provide capabilities to the commonwealth in times of need.  Come join us; you won’t know if you like it until you try!”

Baton takedowns. Photo credit JKC.
Baton takedowns. Photo credit JKC.

If this article interests you, and you don’t mind some long hours for no pay, you can contact the VDF.  Even if you have no military experience, I know they’d be happy to hear from you.  From what I’ve seen, it’s a group of guys and gals who are just looking to do their part for their state and are willing to put their time and money where their mouths are.  I just wish half the Internet’s keyboard warriors would do the same.

About the author

Joel is a 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.

Introducing the Essential Shooting Guide



After almost a year of work, we are excited to announce the release of our new Essential Shooting Guide. This 91-page book is specifically designed to use in conjunction with our Essentials Target. Together, they will enhance your shooting skills as well as make the most out of your range time.

The Essentials Shooting Guide starts out with the user shooting our 150 round, 17 course of fire Essential Drill listed in Chapter 1 on page 7.

This drill is designed to test all of the major aspects of shooting including draws, reloads, marksmanship, trigger speeds, and target transitions.  Following the drill, you will see where you need to improve and offers exercises to enhance your skills.


Each drill also has a section where you can record your results and track your improvement.  The books are printed in the USA and measure 4 x 6″ to allow for easy carry to and from the range.


To purchase, the book go to https://www.refactortactical.com/shop/the-essential-shooting-guide/

Use This Drill To Get Better At Shooting

The 5 x 5 Drill is designed to be conducted on our Kill Zone Target. This drill can be done from any range between 3-25 yards but we would recommend 3-5 yards to start out.  The starting position for this drill is the holstered position.  If you are at a range that doesn’t allow draws you can start from the presented position.

Shooting Drill of the Week (DoW)

The Kill Zone Target is available through our website. 

For more drills, check out our shooting drills page.

Get The Best Bang For Your Buck With This Marksmanship Training

How to Fly with Checked Firearms


I recently had my first experience flying with checked firearms, and I thought I’d share what I learned for those who may be starting to travel with their guns for business or pleasure.  First, let’s start with what the TSA says:

“You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.”  (TSA website)

Now, each airline has slightly different methods of how they execute the TSA policy, so definitely check up on the individual airlines.  Here is Delta, Southwest, American, and United.  Firearms are usually lumped into “Sports Equipment,” so you may have to scroll down to find it.  I flew American Airlines out of Norfolk, which is a huge military town that probably sees guns constantly flying, so my experience was quite comfortable.

10 Reasons to get Travel Insurance

Photo Jun 13, 19 53 57I packed my pistols inside a Stack-On metal gun safe.  Technically it was probably a lot of overkill, but I also wanted a safe to keep the weapons in my hotel room once I arrive in New Hampshire.  The standard is simply a locked, hard-sided case.  I would recommend using a case that can accept a massive lock, not just a TSA lock, mostly because TSA locks are flimsy and specifically designed to be opened by a readily available master key.  Upon arriving at the ticket counter, I declared my firearms to the ticket agent, who asked me a few questions regarding whether the guns were unloaded, whether I had any ammunition, and whether the ammunition was packed or loose.  In this case, I wasn’t flying with ammunition, as the course was providing it, but if you are, please keep in mind that ammunition cannot be loose in your luggage (they prefer original packaging), and there may be limits on how much ammunition you can carry.

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Photo Jun 13, 19 39 04I had to sign a statement that my firearms were unloaded, then take my bags to the TSA screening point.  I declared my firearms to the screener and waited while they ran my bags through the scanner.  Once they gave me the thumbs up, I headed to my plane.  Honestly, the process itself was pretty simple.  The most stressful part of checking in was the insane overweight baggage fees (note to self, bring two bags next time).  I’ve heard stories of people having their tickets marked with codes denoting firearms, but after examining my tickets, the only unique code I see is the TSA Pre-Check (sign up for it if you haven’t), so I can’t find any evidence of that.  What I did get, however, was a big red “Special Handling” tag.  According to American, that tag denotes an item of value or particular fragility.  The intention is to keep baggage handlers from putting the bag on the carousel, requiring you to go to the baggage office to show identification for pick-up.  So while it doesn’t expressly identify a gun, it does tell everyone in the bPhoto Jun 13, 19 39 20ack room there’s good stuff in there.  There was a theft ring in Norfolk International Airport a few years back that specifically targeted red-tagged items, so to me, it is a bit of a concern.  They also didn’t tell me that I would have to pick it up at the baggage office, so I wasted time at the carousel before heading to the office after the carousel stopped.

Hope this was useful.  Don’t let worries about flying with your guns keep you from attending that course, going on that hunt, or even just taking your carry gun with you when you travel (providing it’s legal where you are going).  As with anything, have a plan, especially for extra check-in time, and know the rules.  Good luck and safe flying!

Best WWII Airplane Nose Art

Flying with Firearms in NY

If you’re planning to fly out of any New York airport, TSA says you should have the firearm unloaded and locked in a hard case. Loose bullets are not authorized, even a single stray round will get you in trouble. Your rounds should be in their original packaging—full or partially filled packaging—and then placed beside your unloaded firearm inside of the hardened case, though they can be in a separate case. Once this is done, ensure you lock the case and declare it at the airport. You cannot place it in a carry-on bag, but checked bags are acceptable if the above steps are taken. Do not under any circumstances take it to your checkpoint because you won’t be able to get on the place with your weapon, even if you have a carry permit.

Flying with Firearms in CA

You might think that flying through places like CA, where gun laws are strict would come with more regulations. However, all airline policies abide by TSA standards. In all cases, your weapon should be locked in a hard case. And you’ll have to provide TSA with a lock code or key if they request it. In regards to ammo, you can’t exceed anything over .a 75 caliber. Shotgun shells of any gauge are authorized for flight travel according to TSA.

Marines Sky Penis Penetrates Salton Sea

Flying with Firearms in Washington D.C.

If you’re flying from an airport in D.C. the same TSA regulations apply here as in any other state. You can carry your ammo in the same case as your unloaded firearm, but it is not a requirement. According to TSA’s website, “Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, whether loaded or empty, must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm.”

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 views of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

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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.
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.

The 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 members 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).

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.

trigger finger
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 a 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.