Wednesday, August 22, 2012

AAR - TC3 & Small Unit Tactics

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend John Mosby's first open enrollment class on TC3 and Small Unit Tactics this last weekend.

First let me preface by saying John Mosby is the real deal. He's been in combat many times. He knows from experience what he's talking about and does an excellent job imparting that information to the class.

I'm not going to repeat details that were covered in a previous AAR on the class as it would be redundant. I will, however, try to point out things not mentioned there and other things learned.

Hint: If you plan to attend a future Mosby class, you better be in VERY good shape. At the end of day one, EVERYONE was hurting, even the guys that were in good shape.

The phrase, "Train like you fight. Fight like you train," took on a whole new meaning.

If you're executing all your PT in sweats and a T-shirt, you're going to regret it. As J.M. would often say, "Ask me how I know."

You NEED to be conducting your PT in your battle gear. Whether that's a LBV, or plate carrier with plates, or battle belt...complete with full mags, filled canteen(s) or CamelBak, knee pads (a must!), AND your battle rifle with a full magazine.

Why? Because that's EXACTLY how you will be training here.

Train like you fight. Fight like you train.
Makes sense?

Also, don't conduct your PT on a flat surface either. You will encounter uneven terrain which takes more effort to get through than flat terrain. So train with that in mind.

Day One
After everyone arrived to the class location, J.M. introduced himself and talked about his background and what we were going to be doing in class.

We were introduced to TC3 (Tactical Combat Casualty Care). Areas covered were:
  • Basic Management Plan for Care Under Fire Phase
  • Basic Management Plan for Tactical Field Care
  • Individual Task List for Tactical Combat Casualty Care
  • Practical Scenario Exercise
We were taught how to properly apply to ourselves and classmates a CAT tourniquet (preferred over others), the TK4 tourniquet (not recommended for lack of a windlass) and the SOF tourniquet.The point is to get that blood loss stopped within 60-90 seconds to prevent unconsciousness. Untreated, you will bleed out in 3 minutes or less. Everyone was able to preform this exercise without any problems.

Then we moved to the casualty extrication under fire exercise in full gear. Basically you drag your buddy to safety by using the drag handle on his chest rig/plate carrier, the shoulder harness on the rig, or by grabbing him under the arms.

We practiced the one man drag and the two man drag while J.M. fired rounds to simulate incoming fire. We had to move the wounded man to safety in under 90 seconds. I'm not a big guy. At 5'-7" and 135 lbs. dragging a 220+ lb. man is not an easy thing to do. Which is why I appreciated the 4 man improvised litter carry method much more. Basically you position a casualty blanket under the wounded man, and each man grabs a corner and carries him off to safety. This makes moving the wounded man much easier but at the cost of reducing your fighting force by 4, plus the wounded man, as they won't be in a position to return fire and kill the enemy. This method is better utilized after the fighting is over.

The most important lesson we learned about treating combat injuries is this:

The best medicine on the battlefield is fire superiority!

Win the fight to prevent the further casualties.

Shortly after this exercise during further TC3 lessons, we had 2 heat casualties that needed to be attended to, one of them being yours truly. My buddy went down first. He ended up vomiting and didn't immediately respond to J.M. who rushed over to asses the situation. My buddy was given an oral I.V. and plenty of water to drink. A wet bandana was placed on the back of his neck and he was kept in the shade. J.M. used this as a teaching moment.

About 5 minutes later, I became overwhelmed with nausea and asked another classmate to help me up as I felt I was going to be sick. He and another classmate helped me to the trees where I thought I was going to hurl, but this didn't happen. (I'm thinking I might have been better off if I had) As was done with my buddy, I was given more water to drink, administered an oral  I.V., and kept in the shade with a wet bandana on my neck. I suspect the culprits to this incident were the Wendy's Chicken sandwiches we both ate the night before class and washed down with a root beer float. This event led to my very poor performance in the assessment test that occurred a little while later. I wasn't back to feeling 100% until later the next day.
Side Note:
Throughout the day, J.M. was constantly asking me if I was okay. Even though he joked that I probably thought he was an a-hole for constantly asking, I appreciated his concern and completely understand why he kept checking. A leader looks out for the men under him. He did this with other classmates too, some had bad knees, bad backs, or whatever, and his number one concern was always for our safety and health.
After TC3 class, (I think it was after, the order of things is kind of a blur due to the heat exhaustion) we practiced dropping to one knee, using 2 different methods. Then we practiced dropping onto both knees simultaneously while running. Then we practiced dropping into the prone position from the 2 knee drop. Good knee pads are a must for this.

After everyone got that mastered, or close enough, we moved on to the 2 man bounding exercises. First with dry fire while yelling "Bang! Bang!" to simulate gun fire. Then later with live rounds. This was the "I'm up! He sees me! I'm down!" forward advancing exercise. Then we practiced with two 2-man teams moving simultaneously while giving each other cover fire. The key to doing this exercise correctly was communication. You don't move ahead unless your request for cover fire is acknowledged by the other team. If you don't hear the acknowledgement, "Gotcha covered!" then you repeat your request while looking to make sure the team is not dealing with another issue such as a weapons malfunction or changing a magazine. J.M. would fire rounds to simulate incoming fire. This did 3 things:
  1. It signaled us to drop to the prone position to avoid getting shot
  2. Got us used to yelling our communications to be heard
  3. Helped us to get comfortable with gunfire

In short order, everyone was doing pretty well. We then moved on to the assessment test.

Since it wasn't mentioned in the previous AAR, I'll describe it here. The assessment test was simple. Run 1K as fast as you can with your designated Ranger Buddy, while wearing full gear and carrying your battle rifle. This was immediately followed by five rounds in twenty seconds into a target at 200 meters, a sprint to the 100 meter mark and 5 rounds in 15 seconds. Then a sprint to the 50 meter mark and 5 rounds in 10 seconds. Finally a sprint to the 25 meter mark with 5 rounds in 10 seconds.

NOT easy to do after suffering from heat exhaustion earlier that day and J.M. said normally those times are half of what he allotted. He said he was going easy on us.

Afterwards we took a break for a surprise dinner of delivered pizza. What a guy!

After dinner, it was nearly dark and we moved onto getting accustomed to walking around the woods with no lights. There was no moon but the stars were plentiful and gave off enough light to see a little once the eyes adjusted. Some classmates were fortunate enough to have a Night Optical Device (NODs) with them and J.M. demonstrated that he could run faster through the woods in the dark without NODs than those who had them. He wasn't doing this to show off, he was doing this to show us that NODs are a good tool but not to rely on them alone.

It was about 23:30 when we were dismissed and everyone headed for bed, at a slow pace. Everyone was aching somewhere on their body. Day one was a half day and it kicked our ass. I didn't get a good solid night of sleep. Due to all the water I drank for the heat exhaustion, I got up 6 times during the night to relieve my bladder. A new personal record.

Day Two
J.M. started with a discussion on camouflage. He showed us how one could easily blend in the woods with khaki pants and a brown top just as easily as someone in full Multicam. One doesn't have to have the latest and greatest camo to disappear and he proved this. He also discussed the proper application of face camo and some students applied it on, and others used balaclavas, gaiters, shemagh or improvised masks from a shirt

We then headed into the woods to learn how to walk as quietly as possible. Making minimum noise, watching our foot placement, avoid snapping twigs with our weight, and brushing twigs out of the way so they didn't get caught on our gear. J.M. demonstrated how to step with the outside edge of your foot and roll it down slowly to minimize noise. We then practiced this together. Then we were taught how to low crawl quietly. The point was not to rush, but to make deliberate and quiet movements.

After this, we headed off to a heavily wooded area. Half the class would sit at the top of a ridge and try to spot the other half of the class stalking through the woods. A couple of scouts would walk through to try and spot anybody but they were only to observe and not interact. The goal was for the stalking team to get as close to the observing team before being spotted. We applied what we had learned about moving through the woods as quietly as possible. At one point during the stalk, a deer walked obliviously between me and a classmate. I guess we got the quiet part down correctly. After an hour and 20 minutes of slowly moving closer to the ridge, J.M. blew the whistle and called us in. It was time to switch and the observing team became the stalking team and vice versa.

After this exercise we walked back to camp and ate lunch. Then we began with more bounding drills. Then advanced to an outflanking exercise. One four-man team would act as the fire support team while the other four-man team bounded around to act as the assault team. Team work and communication were vital.

We had 2 sets of radios, a set of Motorola's and a set of Cobra's, but each set was not compatible with the other. The fire support team had a radio and the assault team had a radio. The purpose of the radios was for the assault team to notify the fire support team to lift fire (cease fire) immediately before they assaulted the enemy objective to avoid getting shot by friendly fire. In the case of radio failure due to not being heard over the gun fire, or an incompatible set, a whistle was used to signal 'Lift Fire'. This worked better than the radios 100% of the time. Everyone should have a whistle.

As always, the exercises were conducted dry until everyone was comfortable moving properly and understanding just what the heck we were doing. Teams were working together and having fun, but more importantly, they were learning and understanding the purpose of the exercises. Each exercise was a building block for the next exercise.

Live fire drills were always exciting as they added more realism to the whole exercise. But mainly it also taught us how to conduct a rapid reload, a reload with retention, and how to communicate over gun fire with your team. It also made people more safety conscious and aware of where everyone was, as nobody wanted to be the guy who shot their classmate. Fortunately, this never occurred and J.M. was always aware of what everyone was doing.

We had some more lessons on the white board and Q&A time. Later we began repeating the exercise, except this time we were going to do it in the dark. I think this made some of us a little nervous. What if we didn't see our assault team, what if we didn't hear the "Lift Fire" command before they began they're assault where we would be shooting? This is why we practiced dry over and over.

By the time it live fire time, it was dark. J.M. had us form a line and go prone. He told us to fire where he did and proceeded to shoot tracers at the target. We all shot where he did. J.M. explained to us that tracers are a tool be used to direct fire by those with NOD's for the others who do not have NOD's. Then he placed 2 glo-sticks on either side of the target and told us to shoot at the space between the the glo-sticks. This was to help us keep our fire directed in one location and prevent anyone from shooting where they should be shooting. It worked out well. That J.M. is a smart guy I tell you.

We then began our live fire flanking exercise in the dark. The fire support team fired at the space between the glo-sticks and the assault team moved into flanking position. What happened was that people moved slower in the dark compared to the day. They were more cautious of where they stepped, where they shot, and how they moved. J.M. would shadow the assault team to make sure they stayed safe and to motivate them to move faster. When it was time to assault the enemy objective after "Lift Fire" was called, we were told to rush into the woods (objective) with our weapon mounted lights momentarily turned on and off as we shouted "Bang! Bang!" instead of actually shooting. This was done more to prevent cutting down the trees than anything. (We also did this during the day)

After that exercise, we learned how to march in the dark through the woods, as always, in full gear and with rifle. The lead man would use his NODs to move forward and scan. When the coast was clear, he'd signal the man behind him to move up and so on and so forth. This was a little tricky as the lead man was supposed to stay close enough for the man behind him, who didn't have NODs, to still be able to see him in the dark. Sometimes the lead man got too far ahead where his hand signals couldn't be seen. It was a short adjustment period to get the right distance between men.

By the time this exercise was complete, it was 23:30 and time for bed.

Day Three
We began with learning how to patrol in 2 four-man teams. Using what we learned from the previous days, we utilized the quiet walking technique J.M. taught us the day before. When the target was spotted, the person who spotted it would yell, "Enemy contact! 10 o'Clock!" and everyone would begin firing in that direction. As one team directed cover fire, the other team would bound up and provide cover fire for the other team as they bounded up. Once a team was close enough to assault the target, they would yell "Lift Fire!" and as soon as the gunfire stopped from the support fire team, the assault team would rush forward while firing.

J.M. then taught us how to break contact with the enemy. He taught us the Australian Peel and we practiced it dry and then with live fire. We learned how to create a 360 degree security perimeter once we arrived to the rally point and it's purpose.

Afterwards we had a lesson on the Principles of Patrol. (PRSCC)
  • Planning
  • Recon
  • Security
  • Control
  • Common Sense
Also METTC
  • Mission
  • Enemy
  • Time
  • Terrain
  • Civilians
The two types of Patrols:
  • Recon Patrol (with a potential for becoming an ambush)
  • Combat Patrol
    • Raids
    • Ambush
and other topics that I won't bother mentioning. Not because they are not important, but because it's too much information to cover. I'm writing a blog, not a book. All this information can be found in the Ranger Handbook.

During the verbal AAR, everyone agreed that the class met or exceeded their expectations. We also agreed that we needed to modify and increase our PT. <------HINT!!!

As much as this class kicked our asses physically and mentally, (and J.M. said he was going easy on us! LOL) everyone agreed they'd do it again, myself included, sans the Wendy's the night before class.

I want to publicly thank J.M. for taking time out of his private life to conduct these trainings. They are important. They are necessary. And the time may come (hopefully not) when we will have to fall back on what we learned here and utilize them to save lives, be it our our loved ones, our neighbors, or ourselves.

This class wasn't just about learning how to gun fight. There is much more to it. You won't finish the class the same person you were when you started it. I guarantee it.

Was the class worth paying $500 for? No. It was worth MUCH more than that. If J.M. decides to conduct another open enrollment class, I'd jump on it right away. Just be prepared to come home bruised, battered, cut, sore, and possibly unable to get off the toilet due to the aches in your legs (ask me how I know), but more importantly, be prepared to come home changed and educated enough to begin training your friends.

NousDefions

8 comments:

  1. Excellent report and posted. Thanks. For some reason not all your pieces show up on my reader.

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  2. Excellent review of the course! More than worth every penny spent I'm sure!
    In my younger days I took some similar course's.... from what you have described they don't even measure up to John Mosby's instruction.
    If I take anything away from your report on this... PT, PT, PT, PT, PT....
    Damn, I've got a lot of work ahead of me!
    Thanks again for the report.

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  3. Wow, fabulous write up! I wish I could take advantage of his teachings.

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  4. Disciple: if you can't attend high-speed training like this, then start on your own. A place you might begin is with my recent essay "Night Fighting 101" posted last weekend on Western Rifle Shooters.

    http://westernrifleshooters.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/bracken-night-fighting-101/

    Attend organized training when you can, and get into shape in the meantime, but also start your own self-training plan. THis is how the Night Fighting essay begins:

    "Would you like an all-expense-paid week of training at a tier-one tactical shooting academy, taught by a Nationally Famous Big Shot? Would you like to ramp up your “operatorship” a few proficiency levels, but you can’t afford the time or the expense of top-flight training?

    "Well, I can’t offer you such a free ticket, but I can tell you how to improve your operator skills just as significantly, and it won’t cost you any money or even much of your time. You, yes you, can become a deadly night fighter in your spare time. If you are already a hunter who frequently stalks into position long before dawn, much of this will not be news, but for most folks, undertaking this self-training can make you a much more competent post-SHTF survivor."

    The point is to get outside and increase your skills, even if you have to do it on your own or with just a friend.

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  5. Great AAR. I hope to make the trek half-way across the country to attend one. I got winded just reading it. I'll take some info from the AAR and apply it, including running in gear and boots instead of shoes and shorts.

    Matt and Mosby- I don' think I could convey to you two and those like you how much it means to us "Militia" types (militia as in Revolutionary War, not 1980's) what you do and to know you're on this side and not BIGGOV side or the coin. It's motivated me after years of grumbling to put legs under my discontent and make some things happen. I talked to a couple guys just yesterday about planning some night training using your model.

    Back several months ago, I had an idea, theory and hope that SOF would be involved in training up and in recent months have found that they already are.

    You have my deepest respect.

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    Replies
    1. From the discussions we had with Mosby, we were elated to learn that the Patriots will have lots of support from the SOF community if/when it gets ugly. That's all I'm going to say on the matter.

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    2. VERY VERY good to hear. I had figured as much, but it's final then. Thank God for that.

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