A Training Tool for IMT and Buddy Team Training
I have discussed, ad nauseum, on this blog, the importance of training to a standard in every individual and collective task that you can determine your group or organization needs to master. If you are not training to a standard, you are not training; you are fucking around, playing soldier.
When developing training and standards, keep the following training principles in mind:
- Train how you want to fight. Within the constraints of reasonable safety restraints and common sense, leaders must demand realism in training, in order to set, and achieve, combat-level standards, whether their people can achieve them yet or not (after all, if your people can already achieve them, then they are already perfectly trained, or your standards are too low. I’ll let you decide which….).
- Use real-world, effective doctrine. Base your training and standards on real-world experience and knowledge. If you don’t possess real-world, outside-the-wire combat experience (no, mortars impacting at the other end of the FOB you never left for your entire deployment, doesn’t fucking count as outside-the-wire combat experience, FYI…), find someone that does, and get their input. Failing that option (and if THAT fails, you’re really not trying very hard, because we’re a dime-a-dozen nowadays….), look at the published resources, whether Army ARTEPs manuals or training manuals written by experienced warfighters passing the information on. Don’t use airsoft or paintball competitions as a source for “what works” doctrine, and for the love of Baby Jesus, quit using Call-of-Duty: Black Ops, as a training reference!
- Use Performance-based training. Individuals and units become proficient at critical tasks by performing those tasks to standard. You cannot learn a physical skill, of any type just by reading about it or watching a video. You have to actually perform it, even if initially you suck donkey balls. Trainers are responsible for developing and executing a training strategy that allows for this type of learning.
- Train to challenge. If this shit was easy, they’d call it fucking video games. Fighters are motivated and stimulated to learn by tough, realistic training that leaves them intellectually and physically exhausted by the end. Challenging training forces participants to dig deep spiritually, emotionally, and physically, in order to discover the initiative an enthusiasm for learning life-saving skills. For you guys that can’t get members of your group to show up regularly for meetings, this is a perfect tool to re-kindle enthusiasm: don’t just set around and talk. Get physical and make it challenging.
- Don’t succumb to the peacetime Army blandishments of “sustainment” training. Once you’ve accomplished the standards, across the mission-training plan (MTP), adjust the standards to be more difficult, and continue getting better. Shoot faster, more accurately, run faster, climb higher, carry more weight. Never settle!
- Training using multi-echelon techniques by making leaders trainers. The leaders in your organization, all the way down to the senior man in a buddy team, are responsible for the training of their people. Maximize what limited training time and resources you have available to you by training individuals, leaders, and units at the same time. Allow junior leaders to train their subordinates while larger unit training is on-going. Don’t stop organizational training every time a new guy shows up, and needs to get caught up on the standards.
A Training Exercise
The following exercise is specifically intended to teach individuals and buddy team to work as a team, under combat conditions, more effectively, using a fundamental light infantry fighting task. It covers shoot, move, and communicate, at their most fundamental levels. It indoctrinates aggressiveness of action, and the importance of life-saving speed. It develops the critical mindset of protecting your buddy and allowing him to protect you. It is efficient, effective, and as combat relevant as a motherfucker can get. It demands accountability of marksmanship, and is a simple GO/NO-GO standard, with the option of adding a time component to the standards, as well. It can be conducted during daylight conditions, or at night, if you have NODs (it won’t work particularly well with just white-light illumination).
It is as inexpensive as you need it to be, since it can be set up with whatever scrap materials the partisan band can scrounge to fabricate a range out of. Targets can be steel plates, half-silhouettes, or F-type silhouettes, or whatever you can come up with: paper plates, chunks of plate steel hung from a tree or leaned against a tree or rock, etc…Barricades can be man-made, or they can be natural positions of cover for less expense and greater realism.
Set up a series of barricades or other objects to represent “positions of cover” for shooters to shoot from behind as covered firing positions. On a square range, these could be as simple as partial sheets of plywood or old plastic, 55-gallon drums. Elsewhere, use your imagination. Positions should start at either the 200 or 100 meter line, depending on skill, fitness levels, and operational environment considerations. Barricade positions should be set up at 10-15 meter intervals, all the way to within 15-20 meters of the targets, with a 10 meter interval between lanes.
Suggested targets are half-scale IPSC steel plates, paper silhouettes folded in half (lengthwise or crosswise), or F-type cardboard silhouettes. Cardboard IPSC targets should be cut in half.
Shooters should carry a full fighting load complement of rifle magazines, half loaded with five rounds, and half loaded with ten rounds. While this reduced ammunition payload will make it difficult, if not impossible to maintain a completely realistic rate of fire, it will force shooters to slow down, focusing on making solid hits on target, while simultaneously forcing movers to speed the fuck up, in order to complete the exercise before they or their partner runs out of ammunition. Different loads in different magazines will cause speed reloads to be surprises, rather than allowing shooters to count rounds in low-count load magazines.
Shooters begin at the first barricade, standing, with loaded weapons, safety on, at “patrol ready” or some similar, appropriate carry method. On the signal to commence, both shooters drop behind cover and begin engaging their target. Shooters move forward, by buddy team bounds (one shooter moves while his buddy protects him by engaging the target, and vice versa), from one position of cover to the next. Shooters MUST communicate effectively, before moving, and for reloads: “Cover Me!” “Moving!” “Cover me while I move!” are all appropriate (honestly? I genuinely just don’t give two fucks what verbiage you use!), while “reloading!” or “magazine change!” or “Oh fuck! I’m empty!” may work for reloads. Shooters must respond to their partners communication! “Covering!” “MOVE!” “Gotcha covered!” are all appropriate.
Shooters may use low crawls, high crawls, or 3-5 second rushes to move from one position to the next. However, if a 3-5 second rush (“I’m up! He sees me! I’m down!”) does not get the shooter all the way to cover, he has to get down anyway, and must crawl the rest of the way to his next position, instead of popping back up where he just went down.
Shooters will progress to the last set of barricades. As soon as the second shooter arrives at his last barricade, and fires one round, the clock stops.
Scoring and Standards
At it’s most basic, this exercise is a simple GO/NO-GO exercise. The addition of time standards however, will increase its training value by instilling the need for speed and violence-of-action.
To score, this exercise will require one scorer/coach per shooter. Scorers will follow their assigned shooter, watching for safety violation and keeping track of missed shots on steel. Safety violations are an immediate stoppage and NO-GO (safety not being used, moving with finger on trigger, etc). Failing to communicate with the Ranger buddy in accordance with good tactical practice results in a NO-GO, as will moving without protective suppressive fire from your buddy.
If shooting steel, scorers are also responsible for listening for impact and counting missed shots. If shooting paper, number of hits on paper is deducted from number of shots fired to determine missed shots. Each missed shot adds 5 seconds to the total elapsed time for the drill.
To establish a time standard, have your five fastest teams perform the exercise 3 times each. Average all of the unadjusted (for marksmanship errors) times, and subtract 10%. That time, with zero NO-GOs, is now your standard to start with. Once 1/4 or 1/2 of your personnel can achieve the standard, you can re-test it, or simply deduct another 10% of the time standard.
Modifications can be useful to keep training challenging and interesting, but avoid the tendency to turn it into a game. Keep it serious, and real-world relevant. Adding modifications does not mean you need to change the time standards.
- The simplest, and perhaps most applicable modification would be to run the exercise in reverse order and turn it into practice for breaking contact.
- Partially obscure the targets behind nominal cover, and paint them a suitably drab color to make target acquisition more difficult (and thus, more real).
- Add no shoot silhouettes in depth and near the targets, as occurs on real-world battlefields. This will force the shooters to focus on extreme accuracy, despite the need to go fast enough to meet the standards.
- If you have access to artillery simulators, flash-bangs, smoke grenades, or other pyrotechnics, use them to increase the chaos, confusion, and combat relevance during execution of the exercise.
- Have shooters run the drill with an alternate rifle system than their normal (Kalashnikovs for Stoner guys, Stoners for M1A guys, Kalashnikovs for FAL guys, etc….the possibilities are endless), or have the shooters have to pick up a different weapon system at a position of cover along the exercise lane and use it the rest of the exercise.
- Set up four lanes, instead of two, and have two buddy teams run it simultaneously, as a fire team.
So, an exercise, with a way to determine standards, that allows you to practice and train to standard on a basic individual and collective tactical task. How’s that shit for a Monday morning gift from Uncle Mosby? Told you fuckers I was back with a vengeance!