September 5, 2017 at 10:28 am #50172MaxKeymaster
I have posted previously (June 2016) on ‘Making Decisions‘ and that article should be reviewed with this one. Here at MVT we are packaging tactical training as a holistic activity under the name ‘TacGun.’ It is important to note that TacGun is a ‘whole man’ activity that is not merely a ‘shooting sport.’ I have mentioned the positive training aspects of teamwork and leadership and how the development of those skills will have a positive impact on your current day to day personal and professional life. This should not be underestimated, and the mental and character positives that are developed in this way are a strong part of the purpose of TacGun.
People arrive at MVT, and TacGun, by a variety of routes. Some are simply seeking the warrior way, and the learning of small unit tactics (SUT) as a martial art. It is of course the ultimate martial art. Those who practice TacGun are improving their physical fitness, shooting and tactical skills, awareness, and of course most importantly their mental skills. It is true that many former military leaders will leave the military and go on to teach leadership and management skills to business. That is a well known career path. However, with TacGun we are actually using the military skills of SUT as a vehicle to teach leadership and teamwork, so you not only gain those managerial skills, you actually learn how to function tactically in combat. This is why what we do at MVT is unique outside of the military. It is real combat training, using a mix of live fire and force on force environments.
Of course, many people arrive at TacGun through a desire to prepare for the worst, to protect their families. That is great and noble, and I fully support it, but there are some pitfalls, mainly in the execution. Many ‘preppers’ fail the tactical ability test because of several reasons:
- They never adopt a warrior mindset and are simply attempting to study tactics to cross off a need on a ‘list of lists.’
- They are approaching prepping form a fear based perspective, not a warrior perspective.
- They never attempt to prepare themselves by adequately preparing with physical conditioning.
- They stuck to book learning of tactics which is not sufficient to allow successful execution when the hammer drops.
- They exhibit an over-analytical ‘research’ mindset which is anathema to what I am writing about in this article, which is effective and timely decision making.
After all, if you spend your life beset by paranoia and glued to internet insanity, there really is no time for effective training. In order for a ‘prepper’ to become successful at effective tactical preparation, they will need to adopt a warrior mindset and a way of life. This is what the most successful MVT alumni do, and for many of them they are not really full time ‘preppers’ but more along the lines of warrior students. You cannot focus on purchasing gear and a little bit of questionable tactically-applicable shooting at the range, it is simply not sufficient to ensure tactical survival or success.
We apply decision making in TacGun in a variety of ways. Informally, it has its place in some of the more advanced live fire training scenarios such as those found on the Combat Patrol / Direct Action and Convoy Tactics classes. It most definitely comes into play on Force on Force Team Tactics (next event; November 4-5), and decisions and results are analysed in the after action debriefs. It is formally taught on the annual Combat Leader Course (CLC) which runs in April.
Today I am going to flesh the previous ‘Making Decisions’ post out with a look at some passages from ‘Battle Leadership’ by Adolf Von Schell. This is a boom written about leadership experiences in the German army in WWI. The passages take place on the eastern front:
Let us go with the 9th Company. The young company commander ed his company to bivouac in the wood located about 200 meters from the river and then in company with a few men moved forward to the river in order to look the situation over and see the real lay of the ground (Max: on CLC, this would be a Leader’s Recon). Before he left his company he sent a patrol to the right to gain contact with the battalion at the farm. (Max: if you read the recommended SLAM book ‘Men Against Fire’ you will note that this is the vital aspect of making contact with friendly units on the flanks).
All was quiet at the river. The situation did not seem as bad as the battalion commander had pictured it, although the terrain was very unfavorable. The ground was so thickly wooded that visibility in any direction was limited to about one hundred meters.
The company was about eighty to ninety men strong. The company commander decided to use two platoons along the river in the front line and to hold out the third as a reserve. He issued orders accordingly.
His platoon commanders, although only corporals, were men on whom he could rely. They returned to their platoons while the company commander searched along the river for a boat in which he could reach the far bank…..finally he found a boat. As he did so he looked back and saw his platoons coming forward from the wood. All was going smoothly.
Suddenly, over on the right, a rifle was fired. he thought to to himself….now he heard another shot….firing increased, two, four, seven shots. The firing now became heavier. Quicker than can be told the following events, thoughts and decisions took place.
The company commander’s first thought was: ‘The neighboring battalion has located and driven back a Russian patrol. The firing, however, seems to be too strong for a mere patrol fight. My patrol will certainly bring me information,’ he thought.
Suddenly a few rifle bullets whistled over his head, coming from the right rear. By the sound he knew that these bullets came form Russian rifles. The situation now became clear to him. The neighboring battalion was not at the farm, otherwise, the bullets could not have come from the right rear. The Russians had crossed the river and were at the farm.
What should he do? The battalion commander was not there. He had to make his own decision. He had to act and at once. Naturally these thoughts did not require the time it takes to relate them.
His train of thought was perhaps as follows: ‘Mission, defense of the river. The situation is changed. (Max: familiar to mission analysis from Contact or CLC anyone?) The Russians are across the river. Therefore my decision is to attack quickly and with as much strength as possible.’
He ran back with his runners to the reserve platoons. On the way he gave this order to a runner, and man in whom he had complete confidence:
“The left platoon will immediately retire to the wood and will then follow me in an attack on the farm. The right platoon will defend the entire company sector. Deliver this message to the platoon leaders and then report my decision to the battalion.”
He was soon with his reserve platoon which had taken position with its front to the farm. However, the men could see nothing. Firing was still going on. Without halting a moment, the young commander yelled:
“The whole platoon will attack in double time in the direction of the farm.”
The whole outfit plunged into the wood at the double. It was necessary to attack the Russians quickly before they could get across the river in larger numbers. A messenger came running up from the patrol breathing hard:
“The Russians are across the river near the farm. The patrol is lying down along a little road which leads north from the farm. The Russians are trying to get around us.”
A new situation had now arisen. Since the first decision scarcely ten minutes had passed. The company commander’s thoughts ran something like this:
“Has the situation changed? Do I now have to make a new decision? Is it possible to continue the attack? Are the Russians already across the river in force?”
The company commander had only thirty men with him. He decided to attack. It cannot be said whether this was right or not but such was his decision. The advance continued. Soon the thinning undergrowth indicated that the edge of the woods was near. Just before the assaulting troops was another wood and a road leading to the north. The Russians were on this road.
“Lie down, range 400 meters, fire.”
That was the only order given. Fire broke loose. For a moment there was no reply from the enemy, but soon a hail of bullet came down on the Germans. It was evident that a mass of Russians were concealed over there. At this moment a runner came from the 2nd Platoon.
“The 2nd Platoon is 200 meters in rear of us.”
Again the company commander had to make a decision. Should he continue the attack? No time was available for long thought. He called out:
“I am attacking with the 2nd Platoon on the right. This platoon will keep up its fire and then join the attack.” (Max: thus he leaves this platoon as a base of fire and pans to go right flanking with 2nd platoon).
He ran back to the 2nd Platoon and led it forward through the wood toward the right. As they ran he issued his order:
“There are Russians near the farm, we are attacking.”
In a few moments the 2nd Platoon had also reached the edge of the wood. As they emerged from the wood they received heavy fire from their right flank, which forced them to take cover. The Russians were already much farther across the river than the company commander had believed possible. The situation had again changed. What should he do? Would he have to make a new decision? At that moment a runner came from the battalion:
“The Russians have broken through our cavalry. The battalion commander is wounded.”
The runner could not say a word more for he sank to the ground dead with a bullet through his head. Again the situation had changed. What should be done? Would a new decision have to be made? Naturally the situation was not as clear as it appears in the telling. The company commander did not have a map. He stood in the midst of combat. One thing, however, seemed clear. To carry on the attack with only fifty or sixty men would surely lead to failure. But what should he do? There were only two possibilities – hold where he was or retire.
Defense would be advantageous only in the event that fresh German troops were available who could drive the Russians back across the rover. The 12th Company was still in reserve, but no one involved in the fight had seen or heard anything about it. The company commander therefore came to the conclusion that it had probably been used on the left flank of the battalion where the cavalry had retired. There still remained one other body of troops that might be looked to for help – the battalion that was supposed to be at the farm. It was not there. When would it arrive? Would it come at all? No one knew. The Germans could hold their own if they received support immediately. If no support was coming it was high time to retire. To remain where they were, fighting without prospect of immediate support, was equivalent to destruction. Under those circumstances he decided to retire.
It is immaterial here whether this course was right or wrong. The essential point is the fact that this decision had to be felt rather than arrived at through logical thinking. If the battalion which had been awaited so long had arrived in the next few minutes, this decision would have been a serious mistake. However, the matter of prime importance was no longer a question of holding the river, but of holding the enemy. If he could not be stopped at the river, then he would have to be stopped at some other place.
The retirement was made slowly. In the meantime the Russian artillery opened up. By afternoon the company had regained contact with its battalion which had in time been joined by the cavalry. Later another battalion arrived and a few batteries of light artillery put in their appearance. The crisis was over. A defensive position was organized on a little ridge in the midst of swamp and forest and during the next few days every attack the Russians launched was repulsed with heavy loss.
Let us summarize the more important lessons to be learned from this action:
We saw in this fight a complete absence of information of the enemy, and a lack of knowledge of the situation. Although the German cavalry had been in contact with the enemy and was probably in a position to give information, nevertheless no information materialized. Suddenly the Russians were across the river. What their strength was is not known to this day. ….Thus it apears that in the war of the future we will again be required to make decisions without satisfactory knowledge of the enemy. It is therefore important to practice this in peace for in war we will do well only that which we have learned to do in peace.
And now the last point, and the most difficult of all. Our map problems generally close with a statement that it is now such and hour and call for a decision. We know, therefore, that the situation is such and such, that we have all the information we are going to get and that we must make a decision. The foregoing action clearly indicates that one of the most difficult things we have to do in war is to recognize the moment for making a decision. The information comes in by degrees. We never know but that the next minute will bring us further information that is fresh and vital. Shall we make a decision now or shall we wait a little longer? It is usually more difficult to determine the moment for making a decision than it is to formulate the decision itself.
This is an excellent illustration of the points made in the original post Making Decisions. Decision making and the ability to recognize the moment that a decision must be made, are skills that need to be learned and practiced in a dynamic simulated combat environment. This will have benefits to teamwork and leadership skills in your personal and professional lives in the hear and now, and is one of the reasons that we do TacGun. An over-analytical nature and a reluctance to make decisions will not translate well to a survival or combat situation.September 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm #50192BrothersKeeperParticipant
“An over-analytical nature and a reluctance to make decisions will not translate well to a survival or combat situation.”
I give permission for Max to use me as a perfect example of that failing. I suffered from that problem earlier in my pilot career until constant practice and muscle memory burned it out of me. Now I function very fluidly and I am a seasoned professional. That experience helps me see how I am making all the same mistakes when I train at MVT. I am hoping the learning curve is a little shorter this time around. Max can smell the blood in the water and see the gears in your mind grinding to a halt under stress. I’m sure him and Scott have had a good laugh over my blue screens. It’s all good. I have progressed so far since I started this journey. MVT gets a lion share of the credit for keeping me on track. The holistic, warrior mindset that Max speaks
about is slowly changing me for the better.
Land Nav 06/15
Alumni Live Fire 08/18
Don’t let your past define your future.
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