July 28, 2016 at 11:21 pm #29566MaxKeymaster
On the MVT FORUM HEREDecember 14, 2014 at 11:52 amGuerrilla Unit Command & Control Basics BackgroundThere is a lot of material on the Patriot Blogosphere concerning the tactical side of things should any type of event occur where we must do without systems of support. There are a lot of phenomenal people writing about and doing phenomenal things when it comes to shooting, moving, and communicating. Trainers like Max Velocity and others write solid information on small unit tactics and skills, but I’ve noticed somewhat of a gap in these writings: command and control. I know that at least Max plans to correct that with his MVT Rifleman into MVT Squad Leader progression, but I want to go ahead and put some of my thoughts out there now.Command and control (C2) is the glue that binds the small unit together. It is a force multiplier that enables combat power to be focused and applied at the decisive point. Notice that I didn’t say C3, or command, control, and communications. C2 is not communications, though comm is the tool that commanders use to execute command and control.I decided to write about this because we are missing a good bit of discussion on this topic and also because I have some experiences that provide me with a unique point of view on in. I served in the Marine Corps as an infantry officer in action against a rural insurgency in southern Afghanistan. Now I am out of the military and earning a living as a firefighter. Both the military and the fire service must exercise C2 in critical situations, and both have their own styles of executing C2. There are common threads woven into each, however. I think there are valuable lessons to be learned from both and uniquely applied to the local community security force.
Command vs. Control
An important concept to understand is the inverted relationship between command and control. It is typically summed up like this: Command flows from the top down while control flows from the bottom up. Let’s explore this a little.
In a typical military unit – we’ll use a company as an example – command is exercised by the company commander. He issues orders about what needs to be done, and these orders flow from his position at the top all the way down to the individual rifleman at the ground level. The company commander, however, has very little control over what an individual rifleman does at any given moment in time, because he is in charge of almost 200 people. At the exact opposite end of this spectrum is the fire team leader. He only commands three individuals, but he has very tight control over those individuals at any given moment.
The farther down the chain of command you go, the less scope of command any one subordinate leader has, but the greater their level of control over the fighters under their leadership. This is important to understand – especially for the guerrilla force.
Unity of Command vs. Decentralized Leadership
Another core concept we need to understand before going any further is the idea of Unity of Command vs. a more decentralized approach to leadership. Unity of Command just means this: only one person is in charge of a given unit so that the fighters aren’t receiving conflicting orders from multiple different people. This reduces confusion and ensures unity of effort, which means all members of a given unit are on the same page and pulling in the same direction.
In the big military, we achieve this through centralized planning and execution. In other words, the commander at the top makes the decision and issues the orders. These orders filter down to the lowest levels and are then executed.
The problem is that most guerrilla units/local security forces will not have the luxury of centralized planning most of the time. If dealing in a reactionary manner to an unexpected attack, or if facing an enemy that is much stronger than the local security force, centralized planning will be too slow to allow the guerrilla to outmaneuver his opponent.
That is where decentralized control comes into play. When operating in a dispersed manner (that is, units are not all located in the same place), each subordinate unit needs to have the initiative to act independently to get the job done. The problem here is that 10 different four-man teams located in one Area of Operations (AO) may not always be on the same page when executing the same operation.
Decentralized leadership doesn’t have to mean a lack of Unity of Command, however.
C2 In the Fire Service
Let’s step away from the military examples for a minute. We know that as guerrilla fighters working to ensure local security, we will not have the strength, logistics, or ability to mass that the big military possesses. This means that big military solutions will not work for guerrilla problems. We need to ensure unity of command and unity of effort while still maintaining dispersed units with a decentralized leadership structure. There is a great example of this type of command and control in the United States: the U.S. Fire Service.
The fire Incident Command System operates off of this very idea; a rapid response with little planning time is needed to respond to a fire and extinguish it before it gets out of control. In the Fire Service, a large city doesn’t maintain its entire fleet of fire apparatus and firemen in one location: it disperses its units in various fire stations located around the AO to facilitate a faster initial response. However, a large incident requires a large response involving many firefighters and fire trucks. Unity of Command is essential at these incidents to ensure that unity of effort is maintained and all firefighters are working constructively toward the same goal of putting the fire out and saving lives.
So how does the fire service accomplish this? For simplicity sake, I am going to give hard numbers where numbers might actually fluctuate: In the fire service, a company is the four-man crew that operates one fire truck. An engine company would be four fireman who operate a fire engine (the truck that pumps water), and a ladder company would be a four-man crew that operates a ladder truck (the trucks with the big aerial ladders built onto them). Each company is led by an officer – either a Lieutenant or a Captain. There are usually about two or three Lieutenants for every Captain. Each smaller district within the city will have its own district officer, which in most fire departments is called a Battalion Chief (BC). The BC is in charge of all the incidents that happen within his district or AO.
When a fire alarm is dispatched, there will be a standard response that is toned out. Let’s say that a structure fire in city X calls for three engines, two ladders, and a BC. All companies and the BC will then race toward the fire as quickly as possible. Because the units are dispersed, they will not all arrive at the same time. Most likely, the first-arriving company will be an Engine. The engine might get there within just one to two minutes, and initiate firefighting operations upon arrival. The Lieutenant in charge of the engine will establish command and then radio to the rest of the responding units to notify them of the problem he is facing, what he plans to do about it, and what he needs as other responding units arrive. Within another minute or two, the next unit will arrive and join the firefighting operations. If the next officer to arrive is higher ranking, then he will either leave the command structure in place or assume command himself. This will continue until the BC gets on scene to command the incident. He will issue orders to the companies, who are operating semi-independently on the fireground. In this way, the response to a structure fire is both decentralized and unified.
Using a Fireground Model For Local Security Operations
I think the fireground model is ideally suited for guerrilla-type local security operations. Guerrilla fighters will be local people living in their own homes or some type of retreat location with few others, as opposed to locating all together in some type of overt fortification. A guerrilla “platoon” won’t really be able to respond to an attack all at once, and if the platoon waits until all fighters show up to engage, then the response will be too slow to be meaningful.
This is what makes more sense in my mind. Let’s assume that we have enough G’s to make a platoon-sized element in AO Anytown. We’ll call this 40 fighters. These 40 fighters could be arranged into three 12-man squads and one 4-man headquarters team. The 12-man squads are further subdivided into three 4-man teams each. This brings us to a total of ten 4-man teams in our platoon.
Each of the fire teams has a leader. One of these fire teams will have the AO’s platoon leader, three of them will have squad leaders, and the other six of them will have fire team leaders. So your total platoon membership would break down as follows: (1) Platoon Leader, (3) Squad Leaders, (6) Team Leaders, and (30) Riflemen. Obviously, this structure is just an example and could be tweaked however you need in order to make it work with your numbers.
When an incident breaks out – either a team out on patrol spots a target of opportunity or the platoon must react in a defensive manner against some type of hostile action, the nearest unit initiates appropriate contact. This contact may be anything from maintaining visual contact to attacking with fire only or attacking with fire and movement. Regardless of the action taken, the team leader assumes command and radios the rest of the platoon and give his contact report. The rest of the teams will begin moving toward the location of the enemy contact.
As units arrive on scene, they will follow the lead of the team leader who established command until the next-higher leader arrives. In this way, you have a decentralized response that is built and controlled from the bottom-up but which maintains unity of command from the top.
To help further cement this idea in your mind, let me give an example. In the below example, we are using the exact same guerrilla platoon described above. The radio call signs are as follows: 1A = 1st Squad, A Team (A team is the squad leader team), 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, etc. Delta will be the call sign for the Platoon Leader’s team.
Since the collapse, there has been an increase in organized, violent criminal activity. Most of this activity takes place in the form of home invasions targeting more isolated rural properties. The typical home invasion element consists of about 6-8 men in 2-3 vehicles armed with a mix of rifles, pistols, and shotguns. The local militia platoon is task-organized as described above, and is armed with semiautomatic rifles, some pistols, and web gear.
While on patrol, team 2B spots three pickup trucks matching the BOLO for a known gang that has committed violent home invasion robberies in the past few months. The trucks turn off of the paved county route onto a half-mile long gravel driveway that leads to a private residence and kill their headlights as they race toward the farmhouse. 2B orders his team to double time after them, handrailing the gravel driveway. The team observes approximately 7 armed men dismount the vehicles and begin to deploy themselves to attack the residence. 2B then orders his men to get on line and attack the home invaders by fire.
While engaged in the firefight with the invaders, 2B gets on the radio.
2B: All units, this is 2B. I have troops in contact with a 7-man home invasion force located at Old Man Johnson’s farmhouse in vicinity of checkpoint 34. We are attacking by fire only from a position 100 meters west of the farmhouse. We need additional fire support and/or an assaulting element to hit them from north to south. Over.
At this point the remaining militia units roger up that they are en route. The nearest unit – 2C – is only four minutes away to the west, and the next nearest unit – 2A is six minutes north.
2C: 2C to 2B. I copy all. Team is inbound from the west. ETA 4 mikes.
2A: 2A to 2B and 2C. I copy both your reports. 2A is inbound from the north. ETA 6 mikes. Tentative plan is for 2C to link up with 2B and provide additional supporting fires as well as security to the south on the gravel road. 2A will prosecute the assault from the north.
2B: 2B copies.
2C: 2C copies.
When 2C arrives on the scene, he links up with 2B and follows the squad leader’s orders. 2B is still in command at this point, and if the situation changes, he will notify 2A of the change and react appropriately. When 2A arrives, he will assess the situation and assume command. Assuming that nothing changes, that would sound like this.
2B: 2B to 2A. 2C is on scene and has linked up with us. We have fires focused on the enemy force and 2C also has eyes on the route to the south. No other changes.
2A: Solid Copy. ETA to assault position is one mike.
A minute later, the squad leader arrives in the assault position and assesses the situation with his own two eyes. He concludes that his tentative plan is still the best course of action.
2A: 2A to all units on scene, I am taking command. I say again, 2A is in command.
2B: 2B copies.
2C: 2C copies.
2A: 2B and 2C, increase fires to the rapid rate and prepare for 2A to assault from north to south. Use the enemy vehicles from north to south as target reference points to shift fires. Signal will be whistle as per SOP. Assault commencing now.
2B and 2C pick up fires, and 2A begins assaulting from north to south by buddy rushing. As the squad leader rolls up with his team close to the first vehicle, he blows his whistle to indicate a shift in supporting fires. He continues to roll up the flank of the enemy force and blasts the cease fire whistle, then he finishes the assault.
Delta: Delta to 2A. I am approaching from the southeast with 1A and 1B. ETA is 3 mikes.
2A: 2A copies. Assault is complete. Looks like we have 4 dead enemies. I believe three more are bugging out on foot to the south. I need blocking positions to the southeast and southwest on Route 274. Break. 2A to 2C: bring your team up here to help with the search.
2C: 2C copies.
Delta: Delta copies. 1st Squad and I will handle the blocking positions on Route 274.
This is just one man’s idea for how to handle C2 for Guerrilla-type local security operations. Maybe it’s a useful model or maybe I’m just crazy. I would like to hear some input, though. This model is obviously in its infancy and could absolutely benefit from some outside input. Also, there are a lot of details that I glossed over in communications, task-organization, SOP’s, training, etc. This was meant to be an intro to a model, and further details can follow if we collectively agree that this model is a useful one.
____________________December 14, 2014 at 7:42 pmThis is excellent stuff:
1) the subject/content
2) that he stepped up and wrote a useful detailed article like this.I’m on the way back from class. I will read this in more detail.I like the way it chimes with the concept I advocate of buddy teams making 4 man teams, making 12 man squads.I also like that implication that to have people assuming commnad roles, they have to be trained and trusted to do so. We see an example of how not to do this with Bundy Ranch. To make this work your leaders need to be trusted as competent.
Good reason for the rifleman and follow on squad leader challenges/training methinks….
____________________December 14, 2014 at 9:08 pmWe need a…..shadow leader war college.
Somewhat like a nco course, a staff nco course, and an officer course (shifting emphasis from tactics to strategy).
So the nco course would be squad/fire team/4 man SUT drills;
LACE [liquids, ammo, casualties, equipment ]reports; medical field aid; and tactical Comms (radio and hand and arm). Everything learned to mastery, so as to become the trainer.SUT level (squad, platoon, transition to higher).
Logistics (LACE reports, cross leveling, classes of resupply).
Medical (field aid, equipping EMTs, set up of clandestine ER).
Comms (inter-team/hand arm signals, regional Comms, shortwave).
Intel-(neighborhood watch, regional, running counter-intel).Is such a thing even possible?
I mean, wouldn’t it be cool to have a class where you are taught how to MASTER the fundamentals over the spectrum of war?
Edit: I understand MVT has a wide variety of classes, what I am trying to say is maybe a combination of classes that each one takes you to a higher level of understanding across widely varying disciplines.
____________________December 15, 2014 at 8:47 am
Some supporting links:Thoughts on Organization (+ embedded links in tha post)
And of course, standard:
MVT Rifleman Challenge – noting comments at the end about the squad leaders class.
____________________December 15, 2014 at 1:38 pmThanks, Max. I had hoped some might find use in this. As you wrote in the blog posts you linked, three subordinate elements are better than two because it gives you that flexibility to have your assault, support, and security/reserve elements. I would actually go one farther and say that I like having a 13th man to be a dedicated squad leader so that he doesn’t have to manage both a team and a squad, but guys have been dual-hatting for years. The fire team building up example is just that – an example. There could be a lot of variations on it. For example, the Plt Ldr team could actually be two separate teams; a Plt Ldr/Radioman buddy pair and a Plt Sgt/Medic buddy pair, etc. The main point I wanted to talk about was the model where you build up from the bottom to make a bigger unit as an incident develops. I think the fire-type Incident Command system does that well. There are many other points to be made here, and I may write another forum post or two on this in the future.____________________December 15, 2014 at 1:49 pmThe vital thing here is that whoever holds these positions is competent and trusted so that they can effectively take control of the scene.
Sometime personalities can be a real problem – the dominant guy in the group, for a number of potential reasons, who isn’t actually that competent and shouldn’t be taking charge, but will for a variety of reasons….____________________December 15, 2014 at 4:43 pm
ffhounddogLeatherneck556,Outstanding way to bring up a topic that is hard to accomplish with the way things are today. I agree with Max, peoples egos will be a major confrontation point. Just because you talk a big game does not mean you know what you are doing. Sitting in a Staff billet, I am not exercising small unit tactics much anymore. In the past 3 years I have been wargaming Division level exercises. I can plan an Air Assault or Armor Advance but my skillset below Company level is not where it was 4-5 years ago. I need to sit down and put some thoughts to paper but it might help with some of what Sled238 has posted. Cross leveling I can see being an issue with “I bought that” mentallity.
Well good thread and between ILE and work I should be able to be more constructive.
____________________December 15, 2014 at 5:16 pm
The vital thing here is that whoever holds these positions is competent and trusted so that they can effectively take control of the scene.
Sometime personalities can be a real problem – the dominant guy in the group, for a number of potential reasons, who isn’t actually that competent and shouldn’t be taking charge, but will for a variety of reasons….
I concur. This also gets back to the concept of what training should occur. That’s something else I could write on at length, but to sum up: I don’t think a “Fire Team Leader School” is really necessary. To me, the first level of instruction that is distinct from the basic rifleman is the squad leader. Ideally, all the fire team leaders and squad leaders would be trained to the squad leader level. The leaders who are designated as squad leaders would be the best of the best from this crew.
Why do FT leaders need to be trained to the squad leader level? Just like in my example above, you can expect a FT leader who is acting with initiative to have to be on his own and make calls that will affect an entire squad or platoon as a situation develops. He needs to understand the big picture and be able to think ahead in terms of what the rest of the squad will need to do. He also needs to be able to assume the role of squad leader at any point the assigned SL becomes unavailable.
The Platoon Leader level would probably be the next level of training because while the three-unit concept remains the same, the scale of it becomes larger and so does the logistical component. The scope of the missions themselves take on a larger perspective, and more training would be useful for this bigger scope and increased responsibility.
Should we – as a community – worry about training beyond that? Well on one hand, I think yes; the Bundy Ranch clearly demonstrated the need for command and control at levels beyond the tactical. But part of me says that it should be a pretty low priority because in local Areas of Operations, I think you’d be extremely lucky to even get a small platoon together. Thoughts?
____________________December 15, 2014 at 8:59 pm
Great post…Also you performed a good analysis of the different operational concept that would have to underly militia/Self-defense groups operations in our country compared to Big military ops.
Fire Dept SOPs for responses are largely based on the Incident Command System (ICS), (which in turn was based on Cali’s Firescope system)
I’ve been plugging the use of ICS for Self defense groups and FREEFOR “incident” responses for a while.
Also its a free course anyone can take online to better prepare ourselves (especially those w/o any military staff experience) to help run FREEFOR OPS.
Here is the free online course:____________________December 15, 2014 at 9:57 pm
As I attend Battle Staff for the Army I’m struck by the timelines of this post. Leadership is crucial and without it any collective endeavor will fail. I’d recommend anyone take the “free chicken” max just offered as well as the seminars that are now becoming available.Everyone wants to pull a trigger but no one wants to lead the way. Another thought, be very weary of the man who crowns himself king.____________________December 16, 2014 at 2:29 am
MVF, Thanks for the link.Also if you go to this link -> http://training.fema.gov/is/ you can do online study and download Course Classroom materials in zip files for a number of related courses including emergency leadership and management courses.
Just mouseover the “Independent Study” tab on the top menu which displays a number of free online courses. Just right click the course you want to open in a new tab. The link for downloading the Course Classroom materials is on the right side. You can even take the online exam for each module through their page if you wish.____________________December 16, 2014 at 3:17 amFor those interested in the C2 foundation theory stuff there is a lot of material at the Command and Cpontrol research Program at http://www.dodccrp-test.org/(it’s where their old site now points).These guys have been researching and writing on C2 for decades.
They have a lot of publications – many in PDF format:– books
– journal editions
– codes of practice
– courses & course materialsFor those interested in an overview of deeper level of understanding and higher level thinking for situation awareness, decision-making and intelligence purposes I’d also recommend their 2001 Sensemaking Symposium Final Report which is still at a link in their old sitehttp://www.dodccrp.org/files/sensemaking_final_report.pdf____________________December 16, 2014 at 10:13 am
I think a few people missed this:MVT Squad Operations Tactical Seminar: Manassas – January 24/25 2015
Perhaps thinking it was too high level operations planning?
I renamed it to better reflect what it is about. Squad level combat estimate and leadership.
I have no interest in running training at a higher level military operations planning level. The right level is tactical squad/platoon, which easily translates to company operations.
____________________December 16, 2014 at 6:16 pmThat seminar is really important and is exactly what many have asked for!____________________December 16, 2014 at 7:53 pm
RRSMaybe it should be remembered that FreeFor does not have the structure the military has, and FF’s participants will probably have to start at ground level with a battle buddy.Finding that BB is I would guess the biggest obstacle. Will be trained up to be a SL help in securing a BB? I bet it would, I would also like to shut the internet down for a couple of weeks so people would seek some meat space time where real friendships are made.____________________December 18, 2014 at 4:00 pmLeatherneck, great write up. It got me thinking about my own experiences in security forces. Your fire fighting tactics are very similar to the tactics we used to respond to alarms during our mission. There were remote qrf teams that were tasked with gearing up and responding within a minute and establishing a basic defense while the other react teams made it to their position. As soon as the corporal/ sergeant/ captain of the guard arrived they took command but it was on the individual team leaders to run the show until they arrived. We got the shit drilled out of us on react until we knew where to go for nearly any situation. Team leaders and NCO’s were always killed off to make the junior marines have to take command, and in many drills our cp and comms were taken out as well. I think a system like that would be very doable with enough man power if you needed to defend a town or area. It also required a great deal of discipline in the react teams in order to maintain their readiness and it took a willingness in the command to do the necessary training. SOPs were also critical so everyone knew where to go and what to do in the absence of a commander.“A story: A man fires a rifle for many years; And he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armoury; And he believes he’s finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son’s diaper; His hands still remember the rifle.”____________________AuthorPostsViewing 1 post (of 1 total)
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Max Velocity Tactical (MVT) has established a reputation on the leading edge of immersive, scenario based, tactical live fire and force on force training. At MVT we are dedicated to developing and training tactical excellence at the individual and team level, in order to better prepare you to defend yourself and others during life threatening situations.