Rangeisms – How Training Can Get You Killed

cropped-299304_10150762598255697_4401021_n2.jpgThe first couple days of this week I was busy conducting MOUT operations with a group of individuals that was thrown together to form a short squad.  Nothing too high speed or visually stunning, but just a chance to do some training through repetition.  We had virtually no information on what we were doing prior to stepping off to occupy the range and weren’t even sure if we were getting ammo (blank or live) and the entire plan for taking down a seventeen building village with two squads was made entirely on the fly.  Not a big deal, as flexibility is key in MOUT, but when you have guys that have never worked with each other before (to include a kid that got to the unit two days prior), things can start going south fast.  All and all, I was impressed it went as good as it did given the situation, but of course, like any good military operation, it didn’t go without micromanagement.

The senior guy running the training was following behind and observing as the teams moved through their respective objectives.  There was a road running the length of the village that divided it up the middle and each squad was taking down a side of the road – bounding through the buildings while maintaining cover across the road for the opposite squad.  It was slow and deliberate like a bulldozer tearing through the city.  We tore apart the opfor with interlocking sectors of fire and security which pushed the last of them back into the corner where they were pinned down until dead.  Apparently 0 casualties assessed and seven (all) enemy dead equates to being too slow to someone else.

So we got a pep talk about how we’re taking too long and how we can do better, and we need to go through the rooms and move forward without the adjacent security of the other squads and focus less on taking the couple seconds to communicate appropriately where our teams were positioned.  The big hit was that the senior guy felt that the squad leaders were spending too much time in the buildings themselves.  He proposed that on the next iteration, the squad leaders not even enter the buildings at all.

I can’t attest to what sort of deployments this man had.  I can’t account for the experiences he has been through.  I can attest to the fact that in MOUT, sitting solo outside of a building while having to spend 90% of your time on a radio coordinating, is going to make you one hell of a target of opportunity.  I face palmed at that one.  What the senior man was asking, while maybe not on this linear range, would surely get people killed in the 360 degree environment of a city.  I know this.  He should have known this.  The new guys?  They do not know this.  So by changing the rules of the scenario to do his bidding, he has effectively set a precedence to the new soldiers of, “Hey, senior guy had them do this before.  That must be the way to do it, because why would he have them do it if it wasn’t?”


I then have to ensure my guys know that what we just did is not how it should be done.  I have to hope and pray that they don’t get caught up in some primitive mental state and revert back to the training scenario that we just ran and taught them as a baseline, like often happens when your adrenaline kicks after the bullets start cracking past your head.

I have to say it here, please, if you run any sort of training, don’t put ridiculous stipulations that you know won’t happen on your guys.  You set them up to fail when the time comes that its not “just training”.  The bad part is that senior guy, while the loss will be on him ultimately, won’t feel the loss like the guys in the squad will because of his ridiculous training.  He won’t know them like the kids to their left or right.  He won’t suffer like they will when the rangeisms of training take hold and limit the guys on the real battlefield.

For those of you that have no grasp of what I’m talking about, this may just seem like some bitching over some minute crap.  But when you go out, you train to fight, and you fight to win.  Zero casualties and all the enemy dead?  That is a win, no matter how long it took on your stopwatch.

Stay hidden; stay safe.


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