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The Art of Tactics

The art of tactics consists of three interrelated aspects: the creative and flexible array of means to accomplish assigned missions, decision-making under conditions of uncertainty when faced with a thinking and adaptive enemy, and understanding the effects of combat on Soldiers. -ADRP 3-90

 

ADRP 3-90

Tactics are the most misunderstood, untrained and most dangerous part of the profession of arms. We see, particularly in our industry, the over use of the term tactical(as relating to tactics) but rarely are people discussing tactics in a real world context. I agree that tactics are not an open source discussion but even in the back alleys and vetted portions of the internet and closed door discussions it is rarely brought up. In the rare instance that is brought up, the wheels fall off quickly. There are simply not enough people proficient enough to talk them. This is true across military and law enforcement as well as the well-meaning citizen.  We do have several avenues to get training in tactics available but those classes always create chaos in the rank and file. The reason for that is not being able to maintain a high level of trained personnel and the fact that the training is not free. There is also the slow wheels of bureaucracy to account for.

Another avenue is videos by professional instructors. One is High Threat Environment Vehicle Tactics from Aaron Barruga of Guerilla Approach. This well put together video is done by Panteao Productions. Aaron put together an outstanding product that takes the viewer through gunfighting in around vehicles. The most significant portion in my opinion is the differences in use of cover. Remember, videos are great for ideas and getting fine details but never replace real training with instructors.

Throughout the video, Aaron consistently talks about vehicles as terrain. This detail is missed by most who watch the videos. One of the finer points of tactics development is using terrain to your advantage. This has been true since the we began attacking large animals for food. By reading terrain, we can apply the tactic and choose the positions accordingly. This is very important and often overlooked by the novice.

Copyright Panteao Productions

Aaron also takes the time to explain pros and cons of each of the positions around a vehicle. This has more value than most anything in the video. It allows you to understand the when and why to apply the position. By knowing this, you can choose the best position based on the tactic that you are applying and the job at hand. A solid defendable position may slow you down significantly if you are trying to close the distance. We have all seen some very solid positions under and around vehicles that involve getting prone or laying on your side. Once you are off your feet you slow down.

Overall, the Guerilla Approach video is a solid primer for fighting in and around vehicles. Taking the time to watch the video and testing the techniques yourself is a very good use of time. Aaron assumed that the viewer has a solid understanding of gun handling and lays out finer points of running the gun in this situation. This is another finer point that is often over looked in tactics development. If you, or you subordinate, do not have those skills, your tactics will rapidly break down. It is a must have and enhances your tactics.

One of the complaints I heard on this video and many like it is that the techniques are military or PMC focused. I agree that this video is nearly plug and play for those type organizations. It is after all, where Aaron comes from. The common thought is that military techniques can’t be applied to LEO’s. My thought on this is simple and the reason I opened the article the way I did.

The tendency is to go to a class or watch a video and instantly attempt to apply the tactics taught with no refinement. The threat of that is real and happens more than we think. If I were to apply the break contact drill as presented by Aaron, which is highly effective, as a uniformed patrol officer I would instantly have problems. One, I probably don’t have a rifle on my lap so I am running a pistol. Second, who are in the cars behind me? Is it random people on the roadways? This tactic in that situation would fail. This doesn’t detract from the tactic and the lessons learned by practicing it, even dry. The tactic is solid, you just can’t apply it. Conversely, if you are set up to run it and have never attempted it you have a chance to act with no skills to do so.

Copyright Panteao Productions

Tactic development is not for the novice or those not well versed in the Art of Tactics. While military oriented, the definition I opened with applies to all who have a vested interest. You simply can’t take a tactic from anyone, no matter how close in set up to your organization and apply them to yours. You must look at that tactic, tear it apart, rebuild it into your arena with your subordinates and equipment. You also need to be able to see the overall effect of the tactic and make sure you have all the pieces to apply it. Can your people move effectively? Are they fit? Do they have the gun handling skills, do you have special equipment that hinders you? Can you fight it differently? Does it work on demand at night? Does it fit within your mandate?

These are all questions you need to answer. In my world, I have some distinct advantages that change how I would apply the break contact drill. I have armored vehicles, remote operated belt fed machine guns, mortars, and air assets. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have to run the drill though. I may have a vehicle that I must fight back from that is broken. I wouldn’t be able to fire through the windshield so I would be ineffective until I got on the ground. Then all the lessons presented by Aaron would come into play. I am not a LEO, nor have I ever been. I have never patrolled in a car with pistols only and possibly a shotgun. I will say that there are some very applicable pieces of this video that can be applied to any one though, from CCW carrier to LEO to a military application. I will close by saying that if you carry a gun in any capacity, you are doing yourself a disservice by not viewing this video or those like it. If you are serious or have a job where firearms play a part, you need to get to live classes from reputable instructors and learn the Art of Tactics. Get all of them, stay current, get involved. Get your people involved. If you do this you will be better, your people will be better, and the investment is significantly less than one payout for a loss of life.   

  • Ash Hess 
Ash Hess
Senior NCO in the US Army currently serving as the Senior Writer for Small Arms in the Weapons and Gunnery Branch at the Maneuver Center of Excellence Fort Benning, Georgia .
Army Schools include US Army Master Marksmanship Trainer Course, Rifle Marksmanship Instructor Course, Urban Combat Leaders Course, Air Assault, Rappelmaster, Senior Leaders Course, Army Basic Instructor course, High Angle Marksmanship Course, and Unit Armorer course.

Has also attended the TigerSwan Basic Carbine course, Defoor Proformance Advanced Carbine and Scoped Rifle courses, Sionics Weapon Systems M4 Armorer course, and the MDTS Practical Small Knife 1course.

Four combat tours totaling fifty-two months overseas.

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