AAR: DARC Tactical Urban Sustainment Course SEP 2015


Network Support I
DARC TUSC Sep 2015

Day 1 Sep 4th, 8AM
The first half of the day was going over simple, yet at the same time, very hard scenario based situations as well as going over the contents of everyone's bag and making any needed adjustments to them. This was a tedious process and once completed, we had to live the next 4 days and 3 nights on the decisions we made this day. The fact of being limited to the DARC compound with the items in your bag and on you makes you completely double check every item. It's easy to look at things as needs then look at them again as weight and change your mind then again as needs!

Next we stepped outside when the first real teaching moment and reality hit the whole class. Our instructions were simple "Find 5 gallons of water and make it drinkable, while also keeping all your gear secured." Sounds simple right!!! Well if you have ever been to DARC you know there just happens to be only one location on the property that happens to have standing water! And that's a swamp that is about 120 yards to the east of the classroom and shoot house.

After scrounging for a collection bucket, off we went. Once we broke through the deep thick brush we found that the swamp had dried up a lot over the very dry summer and the water line was about 50 or so yards farther back than normal. The ground was not real muddy but rather a dry crust over mud that became softer the closer you worked to the water line. It is about this time I hear "oh SHIT" and as I look up I see a member of the Gold Team(team UTM) go down in the water/mud mixture. While he was the first he would not be the last to go down. This was a very nasty and labor intensive process, but one we had to complete to even really begin the class.

After both teams successfully filled up their 5gal water jugs with dirty nasty swamp water we then had to make it safe to drink. This is where another hard lesson comes into play. One team just poured strait from their 5gal jugs into their gravity filter bags. Only problem was that this water was very dirty and clogged the filters up extremely fast and made for a very slow process as the water was just very slowly dripping out of the bags.

The other team did a net filter over the 5 gal jug and did a lot of pre filtering so the water ran through their gravity bags pretty fast.

Lesson learned, its critical to filter as much as you can before you start using your final finish filters. I did not really pay attention to the time but I would guess about 3 hours or so and several people soaked in mud and water with lots of calories burned just to be able to have 5 gals of water!

After this was completed the instructors started in on the building blocks of the CQB portion of the class. This went on till a little after 1AM. There was no real lunch break during this time as students just munched on snacks during class instruction time. The dinner meal break came about 8PM where the teams went off info different areas of the shoot house and set up defensible areas. Once the area was chosen and set up half the team stood guard watch while half ate and then we rotated out. After dinner it was right back into more CQB stuff till right around 1AM.

Finally, each team were given areas to set up an overnight camp. Before we could start setting up we had to have a plan that included a sleep area, defense, evacuation and a rally point in the plan in case we got over ran and or separated during the night.

Day 2 Sep 5th, 9AM
We started day two with a few recaps of the first days building blocks and ran several dry runs through the shoot house. After some dry runs and corrections from the instructors it was time to FIGHT!

We went inside got our protective gear on and back to the shoot house to start some positive reinforcement training with airsoft and simuntions!!! One team was the heroes while the other team played a very aggressive OPFOR.

Now we had a pretty unique group in this class in that almost everyone in the class has ran OPFOR many times at this facility, so we all pretty much knew the angles and places to lay hate to the heroes so much love was given on both sides. You would think this would have been an advantage to the heroes and while it was to an extent we had to keep in mind “I'm on a team and the team must come first.” You may be getting hammered but you can't move because you are providing cover for your team. If you step out to take care of "ME" then you just screwed your team. This is not cool and while people don't truly want to screw their team they are just getting ate up because other team members are guarding an empty concrete corner instead of following SOP and looking for work.

There is nothing scarier that I can think of than when you and your team walk into a hell storm of sim and airsoft rounds as you enter a building other than it being real rounds! Your first instinct is to back up and your brain screams at you to “BACK THE F*&K UP” but if you give in you only cause the cluster to get worse and now everyone is feeling the suck fest of sim rounds coming down that long ass hall.

Once you get over the shock people start to follow SOP but it is still really sloppy due to everyone trying to RUN through instead of just following SOP and look at every problem and use the SOP to solve the problem then fast walk back to look for more work! Don't die bored!

Since both teams did such a good job the first run the instructors decided we should “run it again”. After both teams had our fair share of of airsoft/sim love we moved back in the classroom to strip off protective gear clean/reload guns and mags and get ready for the reality check you know is coming in the AAR for all of the failures to follow SOP.

It is amazing these instructors have been doing this for so long and are so damn good at it they don't miss a damn thing. They break down the failures and then remind you how they could have been avoided if we would have followed the SOP.

Day 3
This day started like the rest with a recap the day before then right into more instruction, problem solving and SOPs. We ran through the shoot house from the long hall side and then through the meat grinder working and solving the problems as they were presented.

A lot of the class room time was further explanation on topics including home defense, neighborhood defenses, planning, mindset, etc.

We ended the the night like all the rest with each team given a area to pitch their camp so to speak and come up with a plan on how to get there, how to set up for the night, how to defend it, and how to evacuate if needed.

Just like last two days we started with a review of the previous day, then went straight into ground movement, vehicle movements, and reaction to contact drills mounted and and unmounted. We also went over how to move through a structure after making contact and set up an alamo and prepare for an attack. To be clear, for some that have not been through a course, moving through a structure is not the same as trying to clear a structure.

I spent a few years in the Army but I was a signal puke so only in basic did I do a lot of contact drills in a pack and they were more for laughter it seemed at the time and I was 17 and in track and field shape! That being said no one was laughing at DARC about doing contact drills with packs on!!! Then trying to clear a house with one on adds a whole new level of suckery!!!! Keep this in mind if you think you are going to strap on a 40lb pack and walk/fight for 3 or 4 days to get to a safe place.

Due to some issues with sim rounds and stuff we got behind schedule and a lot of the pistol work that would have normally taught on day four was moved to a "5th day" a few Saturdays later

Day 5
This day was all about concealed carry, and how to protect yourself from single and multiple attackers. We worked in small rooms to large fields. Lots of attention was given on how to keep control of your firearm and to use your head to solve the problem. While you may be in a fight for your life it still may not be the right time to try and draw your gun for fear of having your own gun taken from you and used on you. While things are moving fast you have to use your head keep you cool and use you hands, body, anything else just to survive.

To say there was lots of physical contact, force on force, as well as lot's of time on the ground grappling is a huge understatement. This day will showcase any of your physical weaknesses, lack of stamina and point out yet again the need to keep your body in good shape.

I just want to thank both Rich and Travis for hosting this class and the lessons learned may save mine or my my families lives one day! Also a big thank you to other students in the class as the ideals that were bounced off each other and the different approaches to problem solving is always valuable and helpful to the leaning process.