Training AARs from Participant Patriots
(This page will include AARs from participants in classes offered through this blog. –J.M.)
(I’m including this AAR at the author’s request. He has participated in training from a variety of trainers, including some extremely well-known trainers in the industry.
Folks, I’m not doing these classes to get rich, or make a living even. I’m doing it because I KNOW the shit is getting ugly, and I feel bound to help get as many good people as possible schooled on the skills they are going to need to know to protect their families and friends and communities…If you’re group can get motivated to train, let’s get this set up. If you don’t want to train with me, get some training somewhere. It’s coming, and it’s coming sooner rather than later.
Please note that I edited this solely to redact persec information for the author and his group of friends. –J.M.)
John Mosby Small-Unit Tactics and Medical Class AAR
There are two kinds of classes that I attend: those that end up not being of much value and those that get an AAR. Well damn straight this class is getting an AAR! Driving back home from this class gave me a good few hours to contemplate what I’d learned over Memorial Day weekend. Some of what I learned is still bouncing around in my head but I’ll try to put my thoughts into coherent format here.
I met John Mosby a while back and had the privilege to learn some impromptu stuff from him on subjects ranging from shooting to martial arts to literature (In the always present interest of full disclosure, I’ve “known” the author of this AAR for just over two years. We’ve “hung out” on probably a half-dozen occasions and shot together at range days on most of those occasions. —J.M.). When I heard that he was starting to teach stuff to ordinary Joes like me that one couldn’t really expect to learn anywhere else then I knew I would have to make it to one of his classes. Myself and several of my friends were in search of some training above and beyond what it taught in the average “gun school”. We already knew how to shoot relatively well but there were some gaps in what we’d learned. I myself like to put myself into the shoes of those that I read about who are thrust into harsh situations and ask myself “what would I have done?” One of those situations I thought about was the assassination attempt on congresswoman Giffords in Tucson. There was a CCW holder nearby buying cigarettes when he heard the shots. He ran towards the sound of the guns to see what he could do but by the time he got there the shooter had been subdued. So what would I have done in that situation? I would have watched people bleed to death. I had been spending time, effort, and money to learn how to make bullet holes in people but I had invested virtually none in learning how to fix wounded people; a serious oversight to be sure!
I also have quite a few friends who, like me, are of the opinion that “the bad times they are a comin’“ and who want to be able to deal with whatever the future decides to throw our way. We had all read up on small-unit tactics before and understood the basic principles but reading and doing are two very different things. Additionally, having someone around who has “been there/done that” makes you feel better about the training that you’re doing…especially when he’s not yelling at you that you’d better pull your head out of your ass square yourself away if you don’t want to get wasted in a real fight. We knew that learning to work together as a team and being able to fight as one would make us far more effective in a fight than we would be on our own. John Mosby’s classes seemed to be just the ticket for filling in these gaps in our training.
A brief introduction to TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care or “Tee-See-Three” if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about) was made. The history of how we got to where we are in the world of tactical medicine was covered and we were told that even today it is still evolving even though Ranger Regiment has the lowest rate of deaths from survivable combat wounds in it’s history, about 6-7 times better than it was in WWII.
The class began on Saturday morning in --location redacted J.M.– A friend up there was willing to allow us to use his rather roomy house to conduct the medical portion of the class. As it turned out, the roominess of his home was an important thing for the initial part of the medical stuff since some of the first drills dealt with getting a wounded buddy off of the “X” so that better medical treatment could be administered once the fight was won. These drills were conducted in our fighting gear (tactical vests, chest rigs, etc) to teach a couple of significant lessons. First, if there is a piece of someone’s gear that can be used as a drag handle, then do so! It isn’t easy dragging someone along the ground (and we were on a smooth hardwood floor; uneven ground, grass, mud, rocks and all that other stuff that tends to be on the ground outside would have made this substantially harder) so you might as well give yourself every advantage that you can. Second, it showed us how our gear might slow down our extraction from the fight due to extra weight and snagging issues.
A recurring theme in Mosby’s class was simplicity. His material was derived from lessons that he taught to semi-literate third-worlders in his SF days. Additionally, this was all stuff that is meant to be executed while you’re either a) being shot at, b) seeing your friend badly wounded and doing whatever you can to help him, or c) both at once. Simplicity was the rule with the buddy extraction drills and a few basic techniques were taught. The one man drag and the two man drag were pretty much what they sound like and, with the exception of some brief points about how to keep your primary weapon running with the hand that isn’t dragging the wounded guy, pretty hard to screw up. The two man carry was another very simple method the required minimal instruction on how to “set it up”. One man gets on either side of the patient and sits him up. The patient’s arms are then thrown behind each man’s necks and held in place with the outside hand while the inside hand (i.e.: the hand closest to the patient) grabs the patient’s belt or under his thigh. Both men lift the patient and start moving.
Mosby doesn’t teach the classic “fireman’s carry” since it is difficult to execute and is usually finished by the carrying guy dropping his patient on the ground! Not good. Instead, Mosby teaches the saddleback (Actually, it’s called the “Hawes Carry”–J.M.) carry. This was simple enough but required some instruction for me to get it. Here the patient is sat up once again and the patient’s arms are thrown over the carrier’s shoulders and held securely. The carrier then stands up (ideally with his patient’s help) and leans forward at the waist to lift the patient off of the ground. The carrier can then get moving and can straighten up at the waist or bend further to get rest if needed. It helps to strap the patient’s rifle to his back so that it isn’t digging into yours. It also helps if your patient isn’t carrying an HK91 and a vest full of loaded magazines. I need to get back to squatting…
Another common theme in Mosby’s classes was that each lesson flowed smoothly into the next. After you move your critically bleeding buddy to cover what do you do next (assuming that bad guys don’t need to be shot first)? Enter the tourniquet. The tourniquet of choice of the overwhelming majority of military medics out there is the Combat Application Tourniquet or “CAT”. Another tourniquet that is authorized for use by the U.S. military is the SOF-T. Mosby said that he doesn’t (personally –J.M.) know of a single medic in the U.S. military who prefers the SOF-T over the CAT and it was easy to see why. Someone at the class had one and the method for securing the windlass after getting it tight was a lot more finicky. Once again: simplicity is a Good Thing.
The tourniquet that I had brought was a TK4. I liked that it was compact, light, simple, and cheap. Mosby said that he had never seen one used on a patient in combat before and wasn’t completely comfortable trusting a patient’s life to the TK4 (I have huge issues trusting as tourniquet with no windlass device. –J.M.). Mosby has seen the CAT work many a time and is satisfied with his. That is a huge endorsement to me and I have decided to now keep a CAT on my gear. Field-expedient tourniquets were briefly touched on. A piece of fabric at least 2” wide should be used and anything long and strong enough to provide and withstand mechanical torque should work as a windlass (I’ve heard of pistol magazines being used before).
One important lesson from the medical class that was written plainly and in nice, big letters on the white board: “The best battlefield medicine is accurate outgoing fire.” Your buddy might have to choose between applying a tourniquet to you and shooting the enemy while you bleed…and the latter decision might very well be the right one. What this means is that you should also know how to apply a tourniquet to yourself. This was gone over as well under time pressure; you’ve got approximately 1 ½ minutes or less before critical blood loss causes you to pass out. If you can’t put on a tourniquet in that amount of time or less then you’re not going to be awake to help yourself! Everyone in the class was able to comfortably beat this time allowance, even when applying a tourniquet one-handed to the opposite arm. Tourniquets are to always be applied as high as possible to the damaged limb. This not only prevents blood from collecting in the limb and getting trapped there (where it does no good to the patient and can even cause harm over time) but ensures that the tourniquet is also placed above the wound. If the tourniquet is not between the heart and the wound then it is doing no good! Also, never put a tourniquet below the elbow or knee since the bones in the lower arm or leg surround the artery there and prevent the tourniquet from doing it’s job.
We’ve all seen/read “Black Hawk Down”, right? The part where the Ranger bleeds to death due to his severed femoral artery retracting up into his pelvis left an impression on everyone who saw it, either due to the graphic depiction of the wound and it’s attempted treatment or due to people wondering how it could have been handled better. There is now a device in use with military medics to treat just this type of wound but it is not anywhere on the civilian market that Mosby has ever seen. The alternative (just one alternative I’ve seen, and it was very vocally espoused by the senior Delta on my ODA. –JM.). to the device is to make a fist, place it on the patient’s femoral artery right on the hip crease at the front of the pelvis. The wrist of the arm that is making the fist is then grabbed with the other hand and the care giver then goes into a plank position (kind of like the starting point of a triangle push-up) and focuses the pressure of his fist down onto the artery. Two “volunteers” got to help with the demonstration and based on their facial expressions alone I would say that the pressure exerted had to be awfully significant. Furthermore, both “volunteers” reported a very rapid loss of circulation in the leg which is exactly the point.
While tourniquets work for wounds to the limbs they are not appropriate for torso wounds. Also, unlike wounds to the limbs where arterial bleeding is the primary short-term concern, wounds to the torso can cause tension pneumothorax, the number one cause of battlefield deaths from preventable wounds. Pneumothorax is a phenomenon where air enters the chest cavity outside of the lungs and can’t get out again on it’s own. Over time the buildup of air in the chest cavity will start to press the lungs to the side, preventing normal breathing from taking place and eventually collapsing the lungs. Also, the air pressure will eventually start pressing the lungs against the heart and cause a heart failure. The cure for a pneumothorax is to insert a 14ga. catheter needle into the second or third intercostal space and allowing the catheter to relieve the stored-up air pressure in the chest. This space is found by first finding the collar bone by feel and then going down to the first rib you can feel (this is actually the second rib from the top) and then on down to the second (actually third) rib. Push the needle in below this rib, twisting gently as you go. Keep your face near the back end of the needle and you should be able to smell, feel, and even hear the whoosh of air as it escapes. Don’t push too hard and don’t go deeper than necessary. Make sure you insert the needle on the same side of the chest as the wound is (the patient doesn’t need TWO punctured lungs!) and be sure to angle the needle away from the heart.( It took Mosby about one minute to explain the procedure (using me as an example of where to find the intercostal space) and then every student went through and felt on me where the space is. Again, pretty simple.
Chest seals (purpose-built and field-expedient) were covered. These are often something as simple as a bandage packet being duct-taped over the wound to keep air from being drawn in. The purpose-built seals are simpler yet: peel off the backing and put them in the appropriate spot. Wipe as much blood off as you can first to give the tape the best chance of sticking.
Wound packing was covered for all types of penetrating wounds. Compressed gauze is simply stuffed into the hole and held there for about three minutes. The gauze must be held in place or it may be forced out of the wound. After three minutes or so the wound should be wrapped with an “H” bandage or an IBD (Israeli Battle Dressing) or similar. Hemostatic agents such as Quickclot and Celox were discussed. Mosby is not a fan since they are difficult to apply under pressure and the exothermic ones work by burning (our friend misunderstood or misinterpreted my statements here. I like the concept, and recognize the value of the devices, if used in the current “sponge” or gauze type products. I’ve just heard a lot of 18Ds swear that it didn’t perform any better than compressed gauze. –J.M.) This not only means that the patient gets burned as well as shot but that a gust of wind could send the granules into the medic’s eyes as well. Mosby’s opinion is that if you feel you must use a hemostatic agent then get the gauze that is impregnated with the solution in lieu of the separate granulated version.
The part of the class on airways was fascinating to me. Basically, air needs a way to get from outside the body into the lungs. If the normal ways are blocked then shortcuts (sometimes literally!) need to be taken. The nasopharyngeal airway (or NPA) is a rubber tube that is inserted into the nostril and down the throat to get around any blockages that might be there. Oro-pharyngeal airways are no longer used by the military (outside of schoolhouse trained medics), since sizing is more critical and complicated and since shoving a rubber tube down someone’s throat has a way of making them want to puke (our friend doesn’t know what an oropharyngeal airway is….they’re plastic not rubber, and are not tubes. –J.M.) There are three sizes of NPAs but a #28 is what most troops carry and what fits most adults (actually, I just happened to have three sizes of nose hose in my trauma bag. There are numerous sizes.–J.M.). The NPA is inserted into the nostril and pushed back, not up into the body’s existing airway. A water-based lubricant will make insertion easier. If the NPA does not want to go in then do NOT force it! Try the other nostril instead. If that doesn’t work then it’s time to get into more advanced techniques.
The surgical cricothyroidotomy (or just “cric” for short) is an operation that Mosby repeatedly insisted to the class was very easy to perform. I think he could see that the students were a little nervous at the prospect of maybe having to perform it. The cric is performed by finding the Adam’s Apple and then feeling for the next bump on the neck below that which is made by cricoid cartilage. Between the Adam’s Apple and the cartilage bump a “valley” exists where a vertical incision should be made. Make it small; you can always make it bigger if need be (a big reason to make the incision vertical instead of horizontal). Cut only the skin, not the membrane underneath. Once the skin is cut and the membrane exposed in the “valley”, the membrane must be punched through. Mosby told us that the implement for punching through the membrane is not that critical. In fact, he’s seen it done with a car key (heard of it, not seen it. –J.M.) Once the membrane is perforated you should be listening and feeling for the whoosh of escaping air. If it doesn’t occur right away then a tube insertion might be called for.
While the above procedure might sound extreme, Mosby had a story where he had to perform one for the first time: on patrol in Afghanistan an ANA soldier was struck in the face by the opening shot of an ambush. The 7.62x54mmR bullet destroyed the soldier’s jaw and lower face, leaving literally no place to insert an NPA. Mosby had never done a cric before but after making a cut in the skin of the neck and poking through the exposed membrane with his fingernail (!) the soldier was able to breathe once again. The soldier not only survived but was able to return to duty (though in Mosby’s words “he was one ugly motherfucker after that!”) before Mosby’s return stateside.
Once the airway, breathing, and circulation (ABC) were covered then it was a matter of covering the less life-threatening injuries that one might encounter: broken limbs should be splinted with a Sam Splint if available; if not then improvisation is called for. A rifle (or the upper alone if the entire rifle is too long) can work as a splint. Eye injuries should not be bandaged, per se, but should have a protective cup placed over the eye and taped in place. What to do with a patient after the fight was also covered. Basically, get them to a real doctor or other competent medical professional ASAP! Get antibiotics into them and give pain meds such as Tylenol if needed. Don’t give blood thinners such as Aspirin to someone who is or was recently bleeding. Get and keep a hypothermic victim warm by covering them with blankets and, if need be, by getting a warm body under the blankets next to them. Get a dehydration victim out of the heat if possible but don’t do anything drastic…like dumping a cooler full of ice water over the patient’s head (ask Mosby about this). What is often the way to rehydrate a patient is with an IV. Mosby showed the class how to start an IV, right up to and including demonstrating sticking a needle into my arm. Where to get stuff like IV solution was also touched upon by Mosby. Veterinary supply stores and the internet were mentioned often.
I hope that I’m not forgetting anything major; I was a doofus and didn’t bring a pen or paper and thus I’ve had to do everything from memory. The amount of information stuck in my head as I’ve written down here is a testament to not only Mosby’s skills as a teacher but also to the simplicity of the techniques taught. Anyone who can make doing surgery on someone’s throat simple is doing something right!
One point that was brought up repeatedly was that prevention is better than cure. Wear PPE (ballistic-rated lenses, body armor, gloves, etc) to keep from getting wounded in the first place. Fixing broken people is not fun and if their wounds can be prevented then they should be.
Another thing that Mosby said that really stuck with me was that if you screw up and that results in someone dying that might have otherwise lived then you will have to carry that for the rest of your life. A sobering thought indeed.
After breaking for lunch we headed down to the range to work on small-unit tactics. The weather was still incredibly foggy with less than 50 yards visibility at times! There was a bit of misty rain but not enough to totally obscure glasses or optics. The ground that we were on was in a small draw with tall-ish grass and uneven ground. Steel poppers and other targets had been placed at ranges from about 35yds out to about 200yds; the farther ones could not be seen on every drill due to the fog but we improvised and worked with what we had.
Movement techniques for use under fire were covered. Getting into the prone rapidly by falling to your knees and then bracing with your support hand as you go to the ground is the technique currently taught. The old-style technique of bracing with the butt plate of your rifle is now discouraged due to the use of tactical slings and the comparative fragility of the M4 collapsible stock. Getting out of the prone is done either from a “combat roll” or just pushing up off of the ground. The combat roll has the advantage of giving you momentum that can launch you to your feet as well as moving you away from the spot that you were just shooting from when you were prone. If the terrain allowed for it I got up from a tactical roll every time during the class.
Once basics of individual techniques were covered then advancing as a two-man team was begun. One man moves while the other covers him with accurate outgoing fire. The moving man moves for no longer than it takes to say “I’m up! He sees me! I’m down!” This cadence is begun as soon as you get off of the ground and once it’s completed you should be going to the ground fast. Just a note here: get some good knee pads for training and fighting. I’m still in my 20s and my knees hurt for days after this class was done. The grass was slick from rain (and the occasional cow pie) which helped with sliding into position. The one advantage to getting all wet that I could see.
The team mate who is shooting rather than moving should put out one round every two seconds. This can be altered to fit different situations but is a good baseline for rate of fire. If no opponents can be seen then fire should be directed at probable hiding places or firing positions.
The key to making all of this work is COMMUNICATION. You *must* let your team mate(s) know what is going on at all times. If you are clearing a malfunction or reloading then let them know that! If you spot an enemy that you think your team-mates haven’t then let them know. Mosby said that if we weren’t hoarse from yelling by the end of the weekend then we weren’t doing our part. I guess that means that I did mine! Distance and gunfire from center-fire rifles makes communication all the more difficult. If you don’t hear or understand what a team mate said then ask for clarification! On one drill I assumed that after yelling “Cover me while I move!” my team mate had replied “Gotcha covered!” I had heard my team mate speak…but he’d been trying to inform me of a weapon malfunction. Mosby punished me by informing me that I’d taken a round to the leg and that I needed to apply self-aid. Note to self: place blow-out kit where you can reach it in ALL positions!
All team drills were done first ‘dry’ (i.e.: with unloaded guns) before moving on to live fire. During the dry runs we were told to shout “Bang!” in lieu of actually shooting. This allowed our team mates to know that we were “shooting” and to allow Mosby to gauge if we were shooting at the correct rate of fire. In a way the dry runs were harder since we had to continuously be shouting “Bang!” over and over whereas with the live fire drills we could take the opportunity to catch our breath a little while covering our team mates. The flip side of this is that when firing center-fire rifles we needed to shout a lot louder to make sure that we were being heard by our team mates!
Once we had done the two-man team drills we moved on to four-man drills. These had two pairs of shooters covering each other while advancing. Once again the key here was communication but now the communication needed to be between not only team mates but between the different teams as well. To this end Team Leaders were selected to communicate between each other and to co-ordinate their teams too. Everyone took turns being Team Leader so that everyone could experience what is was like. I found that it was a little more mentally exhausting (and required a lot more yelling!) to be Team Leader but that I also had a better idea of what was going on around me because it was my responsibility to do so. Being a subordinate team member requires that you only shoot, move, and communicate as directed which is a lot simpler but can lull you into complacency.
Mosby told us that if we weren’t hopelessly outnumbered then we should press the fight and close with the enemy as quickly as possible. “If you remember nothing else from this class,” Mosby said, “remember ‘speed, surprise, and violence of action’.” Attack when the enemy doesn’t expect it, attack quickly, and attack so violently that the enemy is more concerned with if he’s going to survive or not than he is with killing you.
After doing the team drills over and over we were all starting to get what was being taught. Once ammunition started getting low, clothing started getting soaked, and knees started screaming for mercy we went back to “J’s” house (thanks again for letting us crash there “J”!) for dinner and to discuss what we’d learned that day. Mosby, with the aid of a white board, explained to us the basic concepts behind various types of ambushes and react-to-contact drills. Hasty and prepared ambushes, linear and “L” shaped were covered. The concepts of “fix ‘em, flank ‘em, and finish ‘em” were talked about in some detail since that was what we were going to move on to the next day. The basic philosophy of this is that one team is what is called a “base of fire”. This base of fire shoots steady, accurate rounds at the enemy position to keep them more interested in their own survival than figuring out what the other team, the “maneuver element” is doing. The maneuver element moves laterally away from the enemy (i.e.: neither directly towards nor away from the enemy but off of their line of fire/line of attack). Once the maneuver element is sufficiently far away from the enemy position and out of their sight they cease to move by bounds and just run as fast as they can until they are roughly parallel to the enemy’s position. Once there they will move towards the enemy position and engage them from their flank. How far away from the enemy the maneuver element needs to get will be dictated by the terrain and the situation. The maneuver element must also move very quickly because they can be sure that the enemy is going to try the same tactic against them! Once the maneuver element is prepared to fire on the enemy’s position they must somehow communicate with the base of fire to let them know to shift their fires away from the maneuver element. The purpose of shifting fires is to not only keep the base of fire from accidentally shooting up the maneuver element but also to create a beaten zone where the enemy would try to flee. This effectively traps the enemy in place and allows the maneuver element to finish them off. If a rush of the enemy position is called for then a signal must be made to the base of fire to lift fire completely.
A short introduction to John Boyd’s OODA Loop was also presented. The OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) Loop is a decision making and acting process that we all go through hundreds or even thousands of times per day. When someone “gets inside your OODA Loop” then you have to start the process over again and end up hesitating. It is important to see how this effects not only you but also your opponent so that you can use the OODA loop to your advantage and minimize it’s adverse effects on you.
The lecture was finished off by a general Q&A session with Mosby. The questions were really all about minor details or clarifications since the concepts discussed (again) were very, very simple and really didn’t require much clarification. Still, if there was a topic that needed clarification then Mosby did a great job of elaborating. Day one ended with all of us being far more knowledgeable than when the day had started.
The –location redacted– weather decided to be a little different the next day and started out quite clear and sunny. We proceeded directly to the range but went to a different spot than the day before. The –redacted– contingent was formed into “Charlie Team” and the –redacted– crew formed up “Whiskey Team”. We launched directly into the team drills again but this time we got right into six- and eight-man drills (i.e.: two teams of either three or four) which increased the responsibilities (and the yelling) of the team leaders by a considerable margin. In spite of that I found that the movement and firing was already feeling more natural and somehow simpler than it had been even the day before. The wind and sun had dried out the grass where we’d decided to go that day and it made going to ground abruptly a bit more taxing. The slickness of wet grass really does seem to be an advantage here. Then again, perhaps I was just feeling more tired!
After a quick warm-up with the bounding drills we started the outflanking drills. As with the day before, we did these dry first and then proceeded on to live-fire. Since I have –redacted– at one time or another I was moved from team to team as needed to fill in gaps. It was emphasized that the maneuver element needed to get into a flanking position as quickly as possible but that surprising the enemy was also desirable if possible. Mosby let the maneuver element that they had been spotted by the enemy by firing off a string of rounds from his rifle down range. While there was never any danger of his rounds heading our way, the sound of staccato gunfire nearby gave a greater sense of urgency to get on the ground than a verbal warning would have! Charlie Team and Whiskey Team took turns being the base of fire and the maneuver element. Members within the teams took turns being Team Leader. This way things were kept fresh and there was little redundancy even when drills were repeated.
The maneuver element bounded towards patches of trees and somewhat dense brush before running around the patch and then bounding through it towards the enemy’s flank. The dense brush made for awkward shooting positions and easily getting tangled up in the branches. Loose straps, PALS webbing, and anything else that possibly could get caught on branches DID get caught on branches! Trying to bull through the brush worked as often as not but when it didn’t then you were in a dire position indeed! Choosing a path to your next destination before you move greatly decreases your getting tangled up or any other mishaps.
Inter-team communications were done with a simple whistle. One blast was a signal for the base of fire to “shift fire” and a series of blasts for “lift fire”. The latter was also a signal from the maneuver element’s Team Leader to rush the objective. This system was low-tech (a good thing, IMO) and, like everything else Mosby teaches, simple and effective. There are, of course, more sophisticated comms available such as radios but for the budget-minded a simple whistle can be a good substitute for yelling.
These team drills were done over and over until they became second nature. We went on and on until the late afternoon before breaking for dinner. We began packing up just as ominous clouds started rolling in and small hail started falling. So much for the nice weather!
That evening we bombarded Mosby with more questions about what we’d learned. Our questions began getting more detailed as we started learning the basic concepts of what we were being taught better. It was obvious that the teams were really starting to gel and to get the hang of what was being taught.
The third day started out snowing lightly. We were only half joking with one another when we opined that by the end of the day we would see a tornado just to “complete the set”.
Due to a number of the students needing to make 6-8 hour drives to get home and then to get up again in the morning for work we launched right into the team drills on Monday morning. We went to yet a different area for the fire-and-maneuver drills as the day before. This not only added an element of being in “Unknown Territory” but also brought us to a place where the maneuver element would have to hoof it a bit farther and through rougher terrain. This made the maneuver element’s job a LOT harder than it had been the day prior! Additionally, both elements’ jobs were made harder by the targets being placed in better places of concealment/shadows. This required the Team Leaders to communicate with their team mates very specifically and for ALL team members to look very carefully if they wanted to direct their fire accurately and on target.
In the location that we went to on day three the base of fire lost sight of the maneuver element not only for longer but more completely than they did the day before. Where this made for a more profound difference was the rate of fire put out in the dry runs versus the live fire runs; there was a lot more shouting of “Bang! Bang!” on the dry runs than there was actual shooting in the live-fire portion. When you’re not 100% certain of where your buddies are then you are a lot more reluctant to squeeze off a round through the bush! Mosby had selected our location well, however, and we were under his watchful eye at all times. We never even came close to putting rounds too close to one another. The possibility was there in our minds though which helped to temper our desire to shoot unless we were totally sure of our target.
Day three ended in the early/mid afternoon and those who had to make their drives home set out. As we did so we promised to get together and do another class with Mosby as soon as possible and to practice what we’d learned until the next time. We had never been so happy to be limping, scraped up, hoarse, exhausted, and out of ammo! The actual lessons learned were profound and fascinating but the bonding between team mates that occurs during such events is a great thing to experience as well.
If you are at all interested in learning how to fight as a member of a team then TAKE THIS CLASS. Mosby has ‘been there done that’, not only as a Warrior but also as a Teacher of Warriors. There are plenty of Teachers out there who’s Warrior credentials are questionable and there are plenty of Warriors out there who’s teaching abilities are lacking but Mosby is the rare blend of both Warrior and Teacher who is brilliant at both.
When you take one of Mosby’s classes bring your friends! It is all well and good to develop individual skills and it is always nice to meet new friends but a small-unit tactics class is the place to grow and learn with your long-trusted friends. Find a way to get yourself and your ‘team’ to a Mosby class!
What Went Right:
What Went Wrong:
Until next time,
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
- It signaled us to drop to the prone position to avoid getting shot
- Got us used to yelling our communications to be heard
- 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.
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.
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)
- Common Sense
The two types of Patrols:
- Recon Patrol (with a potential for becoming an ambush)
- Combat Patrol
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.