April 27, 2016 at 8:48 pm #26669MaxKeymaster
I received the following email from a multiple-Alumni ‘Doc.’The email is an example of the quality of student that we have through MVT classes: on the whole, intelligent, professional and socially aware. As he states, this is both an overall strength, and when it comes to combat, a potential weakness:
Having spent the last few months reflecting on the training I have had the honor to receive at your various classes (CTT, patrol), I have found that one particular message has crystallized in my mind. It is an obvious but subtle lesson that was not clearly articulated until the last day of Patrol class.
Universally, the individuals who take the initiative to train and prepare for unrest are intelligent, motivated self-starters – exactly the type who may be called on to lead in a time of disruption. This very attribute can make for difficulties in the smooth and coherent operation of a small infantry unit.
In combat, there can only be one leader. Questioning and explanations have a place in training; but, for example, when running a live drill like an assault, rapid and complete obedience to the leader’s commands is imperative. In the real world, hesitation or dissent can have fatal results. Trust and faith in leaders is not optional.
Now, this trust is earned through experience and shared suffering, but a firefight is not a time for democracy. This seems blindingly obvious, but we saw the results during our retreat from the last day’s raid in CP class. A simple “line up – single line by squad” command turned into a squabble about who stood where, while the simulated QRF was inbound to destroy us all.
This lesson is blindingly obvious to all with military experience, but to individual-minded civilians it is not. This is one aspect that will be the Achilles heel of cobbled-together small units in future. I would ask that you perhaps write your thoughts on this for the group, and perhaps increase your emphasis on this small but critical point during classes.
Thanks for all you do
Well, I have touched on this in many ways and many posts in the past. Some would make this a political point – the so called ‘anarchist’ or ‘voluntarist’ point of view where they see doing anyone else’s bidding as ‘submission to the man’ or collectivism, or alternatively they will only fill their part in a team so long as it is voluntary, which is code for “I’ll undermine the leader and fuk it all up just as soon as I get a little upset.”
So I immediately want to get away from the ‘politicization’ of what is really a matter of group survival in dangerous times. A collapse is very much the ‘state of nature’ and it is up to people to band together as effective groups to survive it. I really don’t want comments on this post to turn in to a justification or argument from ‘voluntarist-anarchists’ as is so often the case. Two ears, one mouth, so STFU for a moment and move back into the real world. The real world is where you will live or die by your action or inaction.
I touched on this, and the purpose of MVT, a little in the recent post: ‘MVT Tactical Training: Perspective.‘ A quote:
From the start, the mission in my mind was always along the lines of providing information and training ‘in order to keep the good folks alive.’ However, the offerings at MVT are a little different from the normal, and some who only know ‘tacticool’ training needed to get their heads around this. This is real live fire combat training tailored to the needs of a civilian audience and designed for potential uncertain times ahead.
So that is what I am about, ‘keeping the good folks alive,’ and I have no wish to be bogged down in existential politics. I hope that has given this post some context and focus as we move forward.
At a recent class I remember commenting in conversation about the woeful state encountered by those trying to create and run groups. I was responding to a question about how to have a leader and when it is right to countermand that leader. I know I facetiously commented that my belief is that in most groups that have a leader, there are those who will keep their mouths shut in the quiet times, but are just waiting for that critical moment when the leader is really needed to step up and undermine him/her, in order to simply try and prove themselves superior. My answer to the original question went along these lines:
- Anyone you appoint as a leader must be competent and trained to do the job. This is the basis for your trust in them. If you need training to make them competent, get training.
- If someone then comes to prove they are incompetent in the non-critical everyday moments, then you should have a mechanism to have them replaced or reassigned. You could simply move people about. I have suggested in the past that during training you could simply use a system of ‘command appointments’ to see how people actually do, and you may have a natural leader rise to the top based on such situations, and the developing respect of the group. You don’t want to appoint leaders for the wrong reason: they have the most money, own the training land, are the loudest or biggest etc.
- Leaders must be able to lead from the front by example. They must be selfless and prepared to do anything they assign to another. That doesn’t mean they necessarily have to run the best time cross country, better than the 18 year old, but they need to be able to lead the way on patrol. It also doesn’t mean they need to be at the front all the time: they need to lead from the center of gravity, but be prepared to actually show ‘leadership’ when the situation goes to crap. That is the difference between coordinating and actually leading. What do I mean? Well, we are really only talking team/squad (CUTT) level here, so the squad leader will mostly lead from the center of gravity of his teams. However, if an assault starts to go to crap, for example, he may have to jump in and physically lead it to victory by example. He is however, mostly at the center of gravity, or point of main effort, so that he is in position to see it going to crap, based on the wisdom of his training and experience, and may even have the moral courage to make a call to call it off, break contact etc, which may not be seen from in the weeds at team level.
- The critical emergency moments are the time to just do what the leader tells you. They are not the time to step up and tell everyone you have a better plan. That is when everyone gets killed. The crisis moments are the ones where a decision needs to get made, and carried out: the old “go left, go right, but make a decision” moments. These are the moments that I am cynically persuaded are the moments those cockroaches in your prepper group are waiting for, to validate their egos and get the group killed. DO NOT BICKER. A swift right hook is the best answer to that, but remember the leader may not always be capable of winning that, pulling off the swift STFU punch, if the trouble maker is some huge loudmouth. That should have been identified and taken care of long before in training. That’s why you train and go through mutual unpleasantness together as part of your training, because it builds team and trust, and identifies those you do not want. It is called ‘character building’ and it only happens in the wild in meatspace, at training classes, and not in front of a keyboard. It doesn’t even happen to any real extent as part of a low effort weekend prepping and canning fest.
- ONLY if the leader has a mental shutdown when the crisis happens, is overwhelmed and unable to function (‘blue-screen’), does a natural leader step up and take over. Circling back, I would hope you identified this during training. However, just because you are that saboteur waiting to undermine the leader, remember that if he has any experience he will be using whatever time he has available to do a combat estimate, assess the factors, and make a decision. A short pause as he does this is not your time to take over the group. While you are looking at him watching him apparently ‘blue-screen’, not covering your sectors and not suppressing identified enemy positions, he is actually looking out and assessing the enemy and terrain, in order to make a plan. That is why as a group you need to train together and gain trust in each other so that this does not happen.
- My comments about bickering and ‘taking over the group’ do not apply to inputting critical information, such as enemy location or enemy maneuvering on the flank, which the leader may not have seen. That info needs to be passed, concisely.
Now, so far I have been talking about small groups that should be training together and knowing each other. There are other potential situations where individuals and/or groups may not actually know each other but may have to come together and work together. Thus, we need to be able to establish trust and a measure of competence. We have talked about this before on this blog: ‘Guerrilla Unit Command & Control Discussion – MVT Forum.‘ This is also one of the purposes of the MVT Rifleman Challenge: it is not only to act as a personal challenge for people to work towards, but also to act as an identifier of competency that is recognized. Anyone who is in fact an Alumni of the Combat Team Tactics and Combat Patrol Classes at MVT has a common understanding and basis in training. Some will have ‘got it’ to a greater extent than others, and some have not trained in a long time, or have not got a grip off their tactical fitness, all of which will impact on their actual effectiveness. But alumni still have an understanding of what right looks like when it comes to tactical operations.
The point being that if groups are coming together to work together there needs to be a system for trust and competency, so ego does not become the saboteur as we so often see. In the current situation out there, viewed through the lens of the internet, I don’t have a solution for you, other than real training and real cooperation. To me, it looks like a cluster-fuk out there.
However, let’s get away from the state of the ‘Liberty Cause’ and back to what the original question was in the email, which is really what I am about: keeping good folks alive. To quote the email above:
…but we saw the results during our retreat from the last day’s raid in CP class. A simple “line up – single line by squad” command turned into a squabble about who stood where, while the simulated QRF was inbound to destroy us all.
The specifics of that situation are just a training factor, people were squabbling about exactly who needed to be where in the formation at the ORP. I often observe in training that the return to the ORP after ‘action on the objective’ is a ‘cluster’ moment. It just needs more repetition, which you will only have to a certain extent on an MVT class.
In combat, there can only be one leader. Questioning and explanations have a place in training; but, for example, when running a live drill like an assault, rapid and complete obedience to the leader’s commands is imperative. In the real world, hesitation or dissent can have fatal results. Trust and faith in leaders is not optional…..
…….This lesson is blindingly obvious to all with military experience, but to individual-minded civilians it is not. This is one aspect that will be the Achilles heel of cobbled-together small units in future. I would ask that you perhaps write your thoughts on this for the group, and perhaps increase your emphasis on this small but critical point during classes.
I think my thoughts should be plain from the points above. People need to understand that they need to put their ego away and jump in to fill a role in the group. Doing this does not make them an inferior person to whoever is nominated as the leader. It is simply a recognition of skills and strengths in certain areas. I have commented in another post ‘Leader & Led‘ and it would seem economical to simply reproduce some of that post here:
Regarding leaders and led, this is a topic that really needs to be addressed across the board. The bottom line up front is that to effectively operate in a tactical /survival environment, you have to operate as a team. The team must have persons filling positions of leadership. For you extreme anarchists, it doesn’t mean they get prima nocta on your wife, or you have to offer tribute; it simply means that they should be filling positions of leadership to allow the team to operate effectively. The people that are filling those roles need to be competent and the best ones available to do so. To form a tactical team, you have to temporarily subsume self to the interest of working together as a team, because that is ultimately in the best interests of self and your group. Bring strengths as individuals rather than tear it apart and make the team weak as individuals.
What people mainly miss about this is the flip side: to have leaders you need to have led. If you are not in a leadership position, then you need to support the leader to allow the team to achieve the mission. Tactical situations are not ones for petty bickering. Ego and false beliefs in ones own ability are two of the main bars to this working effectively.
I am a great fan of letting people do what they do best. This means that if you are good tactical leader, then you do that. If you are the best cook, then run the kitchen. Each specializes where their strengths are and commands in their own sphere. If you have a group of survivors then there will likely be someone in charge of the whole thing, for whatever reason. Maybe they are the wisest head, or own the ranch, or whatever. Think of that as your civil leadership, if you may. They in turn must put the right people to the right tasks. They could be the head of household and the overall leader, but they may be physically impaired, old, or even wheelchair bound. They may still be the wise head that provides counsel and runs the show, but others may be better at running tactical missions and retreat security. So you won’t necessarily have single leaders, as the group grows in size, but section leaders in charge of their area of specialty. If you are the tactical guy, you may at times be in charge of the guy who runs the mechanic section, when full security turnout is required. But you don’t boss him in his shop. Try bossing the women running the kitchen and see how that turns out for you!
I hear comments about prominent bloggers being leaders of the liberty cause. Perhaps not so. Just because you run a blog, doesn’t make you a leader. Or it may make you a potential political leader, or whatever. I write about tactics and run training, but I’m not leading anyone. Just because you start a ‘militia’ and call yourself a Colonel, doesn’t make you a leader. Probably the opposite!
Bringing it back down to the team level, it is important that when someone is fulfilling a leadership role, they are supported. I am not worried at this point how you get those people into a role (but I would prefer it was based on merit and ability), but once there they must be supported, particularly when out on mission. However, if someone proves incompetent then they may have to be removed. Preferably not mid-mission, but depending how people were nominated, that may have to happen. I know that is the opposite of what I just said, but clearly thought needs to be given to who is actually placed in leadership roles. If you train together, then you will start to get an idea. It shouldn’t necessarily be the loudest, the most over bearing, the oldest, the one who owns the training land, or whatever. The hardest thing is to shelve egos and take a hard look at who is good at what.
If you have the wrong people in charge, what will happen is that they will either get you killed or when the rubber hits the road, they will fail to perform. In those cases, in combat, the natural leaders will step up. If you aren’t dead yet, and they have a chance to. So the trick is to try and identify that with clear eyes in any training prior to game day. The flip side to that is that just because you have an ego, and think you should be in charge, don’t question everything that the leader(s) do. Unless you have clear reason to think they are incompetent, then let them do their job, and support them.
On tactical training courses back in the British Army, on FTX, at the end of each training iteration we would all form a hollow square and get out all the team and command gear. Command appointments would then be announced for the next phase. You may have been rifleman number 4 in 3 section, now you are going to be the platoon commander. It was called ‘getting the binos’ because you were in fact handed the command kit, which included binoculars and lensatic compass. Clearly, on exercises / training such as this, we were all peers filling roles for the purposes of training and some would of course perform better than others. You can adopt a similar practice, by getting together to train with your peers, and having different people fulfill different roles for training. You will soon identify who is good at what. This also performs the function of training for redundancy if others are trained in the leadership roles. In case of casualties.
The vital thing was that whatever your ability, when someone else was in charge, you supported them and tried your best to make the mission a success. You didn’t bicker or argue or try and make yourself look better by sabotaging them. If you felt you had advice or help to offer, you would look to do so in an way that didn’t undermine them, doing it quietly. I remember being on the final exercise at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. We were in Germany and another cadet was tasked with an area ambush some way from our patrol base. He came to me and employed me as his ‘lead scout.’ I got him to the objective area for the recce, made some suggestions as to how to lay it out, got him back, led the ambush in as ‘lead scout’ etc. I didn’t even really like the guy much, it’s just what you do.
In a similar way, we can think about the use of the Incident Command System (ICS), as laid out in this post by Leatherneck556: ‘Guerrilla Unit Command & Control Discussion – MVT Forum.’ This is taking the fire unit ICS and adapting it to response by Citizen Unconventional Tactical Teams (CUTT). In this system, someone deploys their team and is responding to some sort of incursion by enemy forces. Any action by a command center at that point is aimed at supporting the team and leader on the ground. Providing assets. When QRF shows up, they are also there to support the leader on the ground, and deploy as requested by him, until he is able to hand over the incident to a suitably qualified and trusted higher formation commander. Thiscannot be about ego! It must be about how best to support the mission, which is ultimately the survival of your group(s).
One of the things that drives me crazy is the sort of silly games that go on in small groups. Imagine a small boat crew, or a small team, or whatever. You know how it goes – people take offense, get upset, and they sulk, and there is gossip, and all that. I just rip the bandaid off. You have to have this stuff out. And if people are repeat offenders at the silly games, they have to go.
I just put up Lee’s bio on the site and he provided me with this quote:
“I am very proud to be a part of the Max Velocity Tactical Cadre. This is bar none the best tactical training American citizens can receive before actually defending themselves in combat. It is far superior to the training that the vast majority of combat arms personnel and tactical LEO’s receive before going into the fray. Many of these lessons were learned the hard way, but through MVT can be passed on so that the next warrior will stand victorious. You simply cannot get in a month with the conventional forces, what you get in one weekend at the Velocity Training Center. This is what Small Unit Tactics always should have been.”
But again, it isn’t even lack of training, and lack of will to PT that is the issue. It is ego and the inability to operate as a team. You have to get out and operate as a team to learn the skills that make it work. And remember, you may be a leader in your field, and bring that ego, but in fact you may ‘not be the one’ when it comes to the tactical leadership. I sometimes have mixed generational groups show up and I may on occasion tell them that it is plain to me that the 20 year old should be the tactical leader, and the 40/50 year old’s need to listen up. It may be that they decide on what the mission will be, but as far as execution goes as a team leader, the 20 year old might ‘be the one.’
So remember, don’t cause drama in your team. Learn when to lead and when to be led. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason – don’t talk when you should be listening. I have seen it before – a symptom of talking when you should be listening is sometimes two black eyes.
Did I cover it?
MaxApril 28, 2016 at 10:40 am #26705AndrewParticipant
If not applicable, remove, no hard feelings here. These appear some simple basics to work with for a potential leader.April 30, 2016 at 9:49 am #26809TnMichaelParticipant
Excellent write up on the dilemma we face as we form up teams. As most people have no experience getting into a real firefight, or real training, they have no idea what it’ll take to survive…that’s why I came to Max. I’m always looking for teammates who were in the military, no matter what branch or job, because I feel that at least they understand command hierarchy. I’ve noticed that when you’ve got a potential teammate and you tell them what to do, they can too easily get butthurt when told what to do…so we tell “new” people, like Max does, to leave their butthurt at the gate! We all need to quit being so damn touchy, learn and train together..good grief. I know you hear it all the time Max, but thank you for what you do…it is very important. Once I heal up some severe injuries I will be back asap.
TnMichaelMay 1, 2016 at 8:22 pm #26841tangoParticipant
Little extra plug for Max: We saw all of the ups and downs of this topic in Force on Force. AAR’s coming out of that class reiterate the same points in the OP. Link Here
Quite a bit harder to iron these things out in local groups outside of training, though. No doubt about that.
Weak Men can't be virtuous. - JBP
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