- No need for crying here – just move on
How often do things ever go PERFECTLY in a venture? Rare, if ever, right? Do you know we can learn from f-ing up? We can learn A TON The chaos, friction, and the most assured probability of mistakes being made in the Red Zone is a tremendous learning opportunity if you survive it.
Your first order of business is to always fight through whatever gaffe takes place. This is not as easy as it sounds on paper. Seemingly simple matters tend to become wildly complex in the field. Too many contractors and adventurists tend to dwell on the mistake in front of them and lose the immediacy demanded in combat or crisis to recover in swift fashion.
They dwell on the ‘oh shit’ moment too long giving a decided advantage to their adversaries. This negative distraction and self talk invites disaster. Continue reading
We break vehicle skill sets into two types, high threat driving, and vehicle tactics. High threat driving is everything you do with the vehicle while it is in motion. Vehicle tactics, the focus of this article is everything you do around a stationary vehicle.
The majority of us spend a great amount of time in and around vehicles, but for some reason don’t train enough around them. In the last year between military contracts, and during my own courses I have seen around 500-700 people do the same number of wrong things over, and over again. Let’s take a look at them.
First of all, vehicles, even when up armored, are poor fighting platforms. They are intended to be able to soak up rounds as you drive away from the threat. Which brings us to the first point: Your best option when it comes to vehicle is to use them for their intended purpose and put distance between you and the threat.
At all times, when you are by yourself, or with friends loved ones, you need to be aware of your surroundings, and always looks for holes to drive through if the need arises. Identify drivable terrain, which we define as anything you drive through or over without disabling your vehicle.
The next thing is to keep windows up and doors locked, during force on force scenarios we have to instruct the students to not do one or the other. Because with the windows up, and the doors locked, the chances of an occupant being attacked are slim. Couple this with movement and the chances of something happening in transit are very low.
- Are You Ready For a Black Swan Moment?
Wikipedia defines a Black Swan as an… ‘Unexpected event of large magnitude and consequence.’
Basically it’s an event that occurs outside the expectations most people hold and is low probability but high impact if it does occur.
I am a trained and experienced operator with years in the field dealing with asymmetric threats, the frictions and uncertainties that only a combat environment can offer, as well as the general malaise of interpersonal violence that spans the world just like many of you reading this article.
I would consider myself more aware, capable, and prepared than most. I have managed the stress and complications from fixing a flat tire to a firefight in the red zone and consider living conditions in blown out sections of Baghdad ‘normal.’
However, I am not prepared to handle everything, and sometimes all I’ve had working in my favor is a f**k-it drive on mentality.
To Everyone under 25 – This is NOT an Xbox 360 Controller
*Note: I use the term “operator” loosely here
When the subject of “what are must-have operator skills” comes up most people spit out the obvious answers of guns, Ninja-fu and other shooter type tactical skills that first pops into mind when thinking about leaping out of a chopper in some 3rd world shit-hole.
But as much as being able to fire an AT-4 naked or reloading an AK with one arm blown off may be great skills for shooters, they are actually some of the least used skills unless you are some sort of Tier-1 SF or OGA guy.
When I first started in the Overseas Security Contracting biz back in the day I thought the only skills I needed to know was how to shoot, loot, chew on cigars and say cool catch lines like “Its gona’ be a long day”.
But after working in places like Iraq, Indonesia, Thailand and Kurdistan for the past decade I ended up using way more mundane skills like sewing my clothing than the exciting shit like strapping C4 under a bridge while wearing a black stocking cap.
So I put together a list of some of the less obvious skills that every operator should have, no matter if you are running the roads in Iraq or Afghanistan or surviving a natural disaster with your family, this is the shit you really need to know how to do.
I Like Sandwiches and Tactical Training
Why are people more interested in taking classes where they get to dress up in full kit as apposed to non-shooting classes (or with less shooting) where they will learn an actual skill? Now I understand that I come from a background where I pull triggers for a paycheck and work in the 3rd World as a job, so in my mind I am thinking “why take a class if I don’t learn how to do something, I only have a month off this year?”
One example is EP/PSD Courses – I have had several top EP/PSD Instructors tell me I am crazy to offer an EP/PSD course that only teaches Classroom based Academic training and does not have tons of shooting in it (despite the fact that the base EP/PSD skills are non-shooting skills), one buddy that is a Rock Star in the PSD/EP business said “Just add a day or two of shooting on your course and you will sell out – pander to people”
One 10 minute workout a day like this and you can kick Mr. T’s ass too
In the groundbreaking movie, “The Matrix” (too bad about those sorry sequels), Morpheus said, “Time is always against us”. In most aspects of our lives, that always seems to be the case.
Exercise always gets pushed to the back of the line when it comes to prioritizing things in our lives. Let me pose one question: Is there anything more important than your health? It is time that exercise, one of the two biggest components of your health along with nutrition, move up the list of daily priorities.
If you can find ten minutes, you can do a number of different workouts that will work you both aerobically (endurance) and anaerobically (muscular). The most important component of these types of workouts is intensity.
Intensity has a lot of fancy definitions. Mine is the furthest thing from fancy. Intensity is how hard or how little you bust your ass. Workouts can be low or high intensity. If you are going for a time limited workout as we are discussing here, you want to go high intensity.
That would be pushing a heart rate of 80-90% of your maximum heart rate (Quick formula: subtract your age from 220 and multiply that number by .8 and .9; that gives you the proper range of beats/minute you want to maintain).
If you can’t remember the last time you saw this then its time to take the EOTECH off your rifle and hit the range
During some pre-deployment training I was going through for a gig some time ago I had to qualify at the range with a pistol and rifle along with a group of other guys. None of the guys I was with were worried about not qualifying, they were all ex-‘this and that’s’ so doing a simple “loot and shoot” weapons qual was a ‘no biggie’ for them.
That is until we go to the range, and 30% of them flunked the rifle quals like a mo-fo, I am not talking about not qualifying by a few rounds – most of their targets looked like someone blasted it with a shotgun full of buckshot from the hip.
Even after retrying a couple of times less than half of them passed, the other half, took the “slow plane of shame” back home while waving bye-bye to a six-figure job. And the guys who passed on the first try didn’t do a hell of a lot better; about a quarter of them still had targets that looked like Helen Keller was shooting at it.
Like I said above, all of these guys were former military, law enforcement, contractors and a few greener guys with some solid weapons training under their belts.
So why did they do so miserably at the range?
Simple – Iron Sights
I was chatting online with a buddy of mine yesterday about some of the firearm classes and training we’ve both done over the past year. As we were chatting we were sending each other pictures of ourselves while training (you know, the Ninja Action shots everyone takes).
The first thing I noticed was he was wearing a chest rig at the rifle class and a drop leg holster at the pistol course. The second thing I noticed was he was wearing the 5.11 tuxedo with knee and shin pads.
After looking at my pictures he asked me: “dude, why are you wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, chucks and a concealable belly pistol holster – and are you carrying your spare mags for your M-4 in your back pocket? – you own tons of tactical gear, why didn’t you use it for that training?”
I said: “I was honing my stateside civilian gun skills, and that’s how I would fight with a pistol/rifle stateside as a private citizen – my tactical gear and Ninja clothing is for when I am training for overseas high risk work”
So in return I asked him: “why are you dressing up like a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan hunting Osama bin Laden when you train – don’t you work at a bank? – seriously dude if you ever end up using a gun you will probably be wearing Dockers, a golf shirt and wing tips”
His answer: “I never really thought about it that way”
Keep dreaming dude – This will never be you
What is more likely to happen to you:
- Some insecure ass-hole hassles you on the street outside your office or in a bar and you are forced to go H2H with him?
- You get into an epic gunfight burning through half the AK mags in your chest rig?
Unless you are Military, a Civilian Contractor working in a hostile environment, LE, or employed in some sort of high risk profession the chances of you getting into a shoot-out where you use the high speed skills you learned at some tactical ninja school are about zero.
But the chances of some douchebag, “tough guy” or thug forcing you to defend yourself using H2H are damn high if not guaranteed to happen at some point in your life.
Active listening is a skill that can benefit anyone, all the time. The huge majority of most people’s day is spent interacting with others – what better way to improve our performance than by making sure we are truly paying attention to those interactions?
Active listening is not a difficult skill to acquire. It is not simply listening, but concentrating on the action of listening. Our culture has built multi-tasking into such an integral part of society that we never focus on one thing anymore. Texting, watching TV, and talking to your ex-girlfriend on Facebook all at the same time is a pretty common occurrence.
Active listening means focusing on only one thing – the conversation you’re having. There are four steps to effective active listening. I’ll use the example of a suicidal 911 caller.
Keep in mind the basic premise of communication – there is a sender, and a receiver. The sender is the one with the message, the receiver is the listener.