Forge Tactical Night Vision CQB

Steve Burris

Network Support I
John “Chappy” Chapman and John “Doc” Spears are Forge Tactical. I have known both of them for several years, and I always try to get in at least one Forge class a year, work commitments allowing. Chappy has been a cop for a long time as well as a firearms and tactics instructor. Doc Spears has been a soldier, a surgeon, and a competitor as well as an instructor. The two men, whom I consider to be friends, complement each other well.

Chappy has developed an approach to CQB based on doing things the hard way. That is to say he started with the tough mission of stealth approach and assault under night vision and built his TTP’s up from there. In order to understand his thought process and how he developed the curriculum, I highly recommend taking Forge’s Shoot House Instructor and CQB Instructor classes.

I don’t like doing things the easy way, so I jumped into my first NV Shoot House course with Pat Rogers about four year ago without having taken a basic NV class. I strongly recommend against that approach. Take the basic course first. I have struggled with not fully understanding the equipment and not understanding why TTP’s are taught the way that they are.

So, fast forward to this class. The class was tiny: six to seven students. This was fantastic, because we got a good number of two-person runs and a lot of individual attention from the instructors. TD1, we started off with intros. Kris B-C and I were the only LEs in the class, and there were no military guys at all. I know someone out there is still shaking their head about that. But everyone had been vetted and everyone was ready for the class. Something like this requires more than just equipment. Every student was at least passingly familiar with Forge’s CQB Procedures. Every student’s gun-handling skills measured up to Forge’s standards, and every student was capable of the accuracy standard that Forge demands (even if we didn’t always demonstrate it).

We went through the standard safety brief with the specifics for laser use. We judged each other by the gear we were using. Someone won by bringing out panos. Game over, man… game over. NV equipment ranged from PVS 14’s all the way to the set of panos. Otherwise, a mix of single and dual tubes were present. While a single tube user is at a disadvantage, it was not crippling. Lasers ran the gamut from my DBAL D2 to a real DBAL with diffuser and MAWLs.

A recurring theme was that NV adds a layer of difficulty, but CQB, especially mastering the procedures, is where the hard work really lies. With that in mind, we spent the remainder ofTD1 on two-man dry runs in the waning daylight and then dry with NODS. Once Doc and Chappy were happy with what they saw, we were allowed to load and make ready with live ammunition for a couple runs. I have a hard time slowing down, and that lead to problems with not allowing my head to lead my muzzle.

“Slow down” was said and heard multiple times throughout the course. If there is one important piece of advice for anyone wanting to take their first CQB course, this is it. Slowing down didn’t really sink in until TD2 on the last run. Once I wrapped my head around the fact that operating under NODS gives us the advantage of stealth, I adjusted my approach from “Get into the room!” to “Let’s see the bad guy first with the best angle.”

TD 2 was all about operating as a full team. We started off with a safety brief and then moved onto flow drills with varying rifle positions: low/hi carry and ready as well as retention and slung front and back. We then worked on coming on-line, confined space support, creating distance, and going long. Then we worked our way through the shoot house under natural light. Flashlights eventually came on, and then we transitioned to night vision.

The runs through the house were all about executing the CQB principles as taught by Forge. We screwed them up. Well, at least I did. But that is what practice is for, right? Bear with me for a minute here. There exists an attitude in some agencies and among some students that training is about showing how good you are. If you make a mistake in training,obviously you aren’t good enough for (fill in the blank). This leads to students who do not challenge themselves and grow. If you have never been “that guy” in a class, you are staying in a nice safe blanket of mediocrity. In order to improve, you need to have your teeth kicked in occasionally. Seek out training beyond your comfort zone.

We came on line and loaded a TL from within the class. It was interesting seeing it from theperspective of a student with another student as TL. I don’t think that any of us were confidentenough in processing the shapes in the rooms to take our mind off of what wewere doing and just let the team flow while we worked on the next problem. As that became obvious, Chappy stepped in toassume the TL role. We really startedsmoothing out because we had a steady, experienced hand guiding us.
Our last run had some issues, but by and large it was muchsmoother than anything we had done before. After we finished up and debriefed, I didn’t even have to mark anymisses! And, yes, I did shoot on thatrun. Slowing down and allowing ourselvesto think through the procedures we hadn’t mastered at a heuristic level reallyallowed us to smooth out and work our way through the problems.

TD 3 started off in a similar way to TD2. We briefed safety and ran through flowdrills. Team patrolling was upnext. We discussed staggered formationand maintaining spacing and then went and practiced it. We walked around the sewage treatment plantin formation and patrolled to a building with stairs in it. Once we breached the door into that building,we then started our stair procedure lecture.

I have not seen anyone teach stairs exactly the way Forgedoes. That isn’t necessarily surprisingas there are many ways to skin this cat. However, as this was the second time I sat through Chappy discussing theprocedure, the finer points began to sink in. I really like the methodology because it dovetails into what we had beendoing for the last two days. After theentire team worked up and down the stairs under daylight, we then transitionedto nods. I found that the hardest partof negotiating the stairs was knowing where to point my rifle when moving upand down a level with teammates all around.

Finally, with night coming on, we patrolled back to the classroom,breached, and stood down for a quick overview. Once we hydrated and snacked a little, we threw our full kit on andjumped in the raid van. We were toldthat we were looking for a murder suspect and already had a teammate watchingthe house who would link up with us and lead us in. We dropped a few blocks away and patrolledthe link up. Doing hits in the field on houses set up for UTM use was a greatvalidation of the work we had been doing.

We had issues of course, but we were able to hit the houseagain and clean up our actions on the objective. Unfortunately, our target was notpresent. However, we did develop intelthat he might be at another house. So weloaded up in the van and moved to another location.

We again dismounted and patrolled to our objective. I will say that Forge saved the best for last. This house was all nooks and crannies with really small rooms. It may not have been pretty, but we managed to process the house and much learning occurred.

I have a lot to practice on my own after this class. I can process the shapes in my house and in my office and in other places I frequent. I need to work with the offset of my laser in close quarters. I found myself using my rifle from awkward positions trying to skid a door without sticking my muzzle in a room. So, I need to work on shooting from that shortened position or pressing the rifle out to a shouldered position. I also found that some of my gear needs to be reconfigured, but that is what training is all about.

Thanks to BE Meyers and BCM as wellas the Alliance, OH PD for making this possible.

Joe _K

Network Support II
Good write up man, I’m saving up for a set of Dual Tubes, and after a basic class or two as a refresher definitely want to get in on this class in particular.