Same Problem, Different Solution

| November 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

A review of Urban Warfare Weekend with Suarez International Instructor Greg Nichols

This is a guest article from CR Williams, firearms instructor and author of several books on self-defense and firearms use (see our reviews of his book Facing the Active Shooter and Gunfighting, and Other Thougts About Doing Violence). You can follow him at In Shadow In LightShepherd

There are two approaches to clearing buildings and rooms within those buildings. The one that someone outside the military or SWAT/HRT (Special Weapons and Tactics, Hostage Rescue Team) training and experience is familiar with and the one most often taught in classes is the slice-by-slice ‘pieing’ of the corner (keep in mind that in Close-Quarter Combat everything is a corner)—an almost literal step-by-step survey of small parts of the area you’re about to go around up to the point where you commit to crossing the LOD (either Line of Decision or Line of Death depending on who’s using the term). It’s a slow process interspersed with bursts of quickness (and sometimes, in this area of consideration, violence) when done correctly.

The other approach and the one I hosted Suarez International Instructor Greg Nichols for three days to learn about is defined and seems best summarized with six words: Start moving, keep moving, decide, commit. That movement might be faster or slower depending on place and circumstances and situation. But in the world that Greg comes from and in the experience he brings to this class deliberate speed is life and commitment to action is the key to survival and victory.

SAM_0357

Urban Warfare Weekend is a combination of two Suarez International courses in their High Risk Operator series: HRO-6, CQB – Fighting in Structures and HRO-7, Team Tactics. Coming into this course I had already taken HRO-6 twice, once in the same facility I hosted Greg at this time—the excellent Sim House at Double Tap Training Ground in Calera, AL.

Joining me for the course were an ER doctor, an Emergency Medical Technician, a criminal defense attorney from Alaska and his brother the pilot from Georgia and four others. Most of those were alumni of SI courses but none of us had taken anything presented by Greg so both the material and the instructor were new to all of us.

Day one started with introductions and short briefings about content and path of the class and sundry safety and administrative things. First after that was individual action within a room. This served to get us used to the terminology Greg would be using throughout and brought us up on the way he wanted us to move at all times.

Greg Nichols 1

Beginning the evening of the first day and continuing throughout the course additional members were added to the entry group. Pairs, the foundation of team entry, were introduced. Over the next two days a third and fourth and fifth were added and so on until walk-throughs were being done with all nine students in the class. In all cases the movement was the same as when working alone but the tempo and speed of movement varied as others were added to the mix.

Climbing up 2

The second day started late in order to work a few hours without light sources other than what we had available. White light, proper use of chem sticks, weapon-mounted lights, how bright the lights should be and how specifically they should be used were covered. Most of the participants, me included, will be looking to get lower-power white lights on their guns after this. Also, one attendee had a 3rd-generation night-vision system which we all sampled (I was able to shoot with it the first night after the day’s class was done with a suppressed pistol. Thank you, J.) Night Vision Gear = game changer, guys. Game changer—and that’s all I’ll say on that. BUT: You need at least Generation 2+ to get the real benefit out of it. If you can afford it, Generation 3 should be what you get. If you can’t afford it, save up until you can. It can change everything about fighting at night.

As things went along we discussed weapons, accessories and support gear. This varied with the students between 9mm pistols (me, the MA 30DMG with folding AR tube and KAK Shockwave  brace) and AR pistols and rifles (one or two SBRs), one AUG and one Sig 556R. Setups on the weapons were discussed. (I altered the setup on my AR-P after getting Greg’s advice on it though I did not use that in any of the training.) Chest rigs, vests, belts, and shoulder bags (I and one other ran shoulder bags with our two-hand weapons while most used either chest rigs or battle belts) were all present and considered and discussed. Basically, where guns are concerned short is Good when working in rooms. Where support gear is concerned ease and quickness of access to magazines and other equipment and ability to move with it are what you want to look for.

SAM_0358

The third day started with a little work with tourniquets and discussion of in-the-fight casualty treatment (basically, fix what’s killing them and get them out if you can). Means of evacuating a casualty by yourself and with help were reviewed and demonstrated. One of the students is an EMT and added his valuable input to this. (Pulls from this part: IF you can keep your TQ and blowout kit near to your centerline so you can reach it easily with either hand. CAT, SOFTT-W, Cav Arms are what is preferred. Best TQ for self-aid is the CAT, best for applying to others the SOFTT-W. The Cav Arms major point is that it’s inexpensive and more compact to carry so you can have more of them available while still being effective.) Next was a section on how to defend a structure that was quite interesting indeed. Then it was back to clearing.

Weather precluded the night-shoot familiarization that was to have been done the second evening and live-fire work the third day. That was in no way an impediment or loss as far as either Greg’s presentation or our instruction was concerned. The best and most useful instruction I’ve received in all the courses I’ve taken has been done without a shot being fired and this was no exception. Greg adjusted to changed conditions on the fly and had way more than enough material to run us three more days without a shot being fired.

Knock Knock 1

Brief takeaways from the course include but are not limited to:

  • The difference between the (line officer) law enforcement approach to clearing and the military approach to clearing. Neither one is necessarily bad. Both have strengths, both have drawbacks. Everybody else I’m aware of so far goes with the LE approach in training. Greg brings the military approach which is something I, especially, need to see and be exposed to. (This is because in the past I was proving too hesitant about committing to action. This course, the content, and the instructor demanded nothing but commitment to action. This ‘drive across the line’ philosophy was exactly what I needed to counteract what could be a fatal tendency to slow down and pause when faced with a decision point that had to be addressed.)

    Moving 2

  • If you’re by yourself and you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything against hostile or possible hostile action, don’t.
  • Inside buildings especially, the ambush rules.
  • Deliberate speed is life. Speed varies, but as a rule of thumb the faster you can move the better off you will be.
  • CQC is a chess game that you need to cheat at if you can. You have to be able to think on your feet and at speed. You can’t afford to just cruise through it on automatic.
  • Working in teams: Two to clear a room. If you have more than two it depends on whether it’s an odd or even number what else you can do. Ideally you want multiples of two. And they’re always moving. The analogy Greg used was a train. Once the train starts moving whether you’re in the engine or the caboose it does not stop. You may be driving it or you may be one of the cars being dropped off and reattached constantly but the train and everyone on or off it is always moving and doing something. You individually are either working, pulling security or waiting for a squeeze (the signal to take the next room or space). If you’re not doing one of those three things be looking for one of those three things to be doing.

    SAM_0356

  • First man through a door has to DECIDE and COMMIT. Second (and after) has to OBSERVE and ADAPT.
  • There can be no specialist in the entry teams. Anybody in the stack will at some point become the first man through if you’re flowing correctly. Anybody will be the second or third or… if you’re flowing correctly. You must be able to slide on the move into any position and any role.
  • (Personal) I’ve got to get myself weaned of the impulse to muzzle strike with the 30DMG every time after closing on a contact. It’s too much fun. (Disclaimer: No humans were muzzle-stroked
  • in the course of this class. Several ‘Ivan’ 3D targets did feel the bite, however.)
  • I know that some of you reading this may be wondering how a team tactics course of this nature can help you as an individual. While some of you may have friends or co-workers or others you know that you could form a team with, I suspect that most of you are like me: Something happens where you are, you’re on your own. What you as an individual ‘operator’ can get from a course like this is the same thing I got from it: The concepts of commitment to action, exposure and training in on-the-fly adaptation and decision making, and above all the need for deliberate speed and constant movement. Technique-wise the best way to move and maintain movement when clearing and how you can best approach corners and rooms and spaces in a building will be taught—these are the same whether you’re working by yourself or with seven others in a team.

Final thoughts

I’m not someone who waxes enthusiastic in a sense about learning opportunities like this. Where someone else would say, “It’s awesome,” I say it’s interesting. Ladies and gentlemen, this stuff is INTERESTING to me and entirely too useful to everyone that lives and works in places like I do to pass up if you get a chance to attend. Please, for your own development as a counteroffensive fighter, do not forgo this kind of training.

About the Author:

CR Williams is the author of (so far) four non-fiction books: Three volumes of the ongoing "Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts about Doing Violence" series and "Facing the Active Shooter: Guidelines for the Armed Citizen Defender". He has also made entries into the fiction arena with recent releases of "Live Fire" and the first volume of the "An Even Break" series. He currently runs classes from either his home-base area in Central/South-Central Alabama or wherever anyone wants to host him for a class. An active and ongoing student of the fight in all its aspects, he continues to work toward his goal of making you the very best defender of life and loved ones that you can be.
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