29 August 2012

Comments on IronWill's AAR

(I've taken the liberty of blatantly copying and pasting IronWill's blog post of his AAR from the recent open enrollment SUT class he attended that I conducted early this month. I will add parenthetical notes.--J.M.)

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend John Mosby's first open enrollment class on TC3 and Small Unit Tactics this last weekend.

First let me preface by saying John Mosby is the real deal. He's been in combat many times. He knows from experience what he's talking about and does an excellent job imparting that information to the class.

I'm not going to repeat details that were covered in a previous AAR on the class as it would be redundant. I will, however, try to point out things not mentioned there and other things learned.

Hint: If you plan to attend a future Mosby class, you better be in VERY good shape. At the end of day one, EVERYONE was hurting, even the guys that were in good shape.

The phrase, "Train like you fight. Fight like you train," took on a whole new meaning.

If you're executing all your PT in sweats and a T-shirt, you're going to regret it. As J.M. would often say, "Ask me how I know."

You NEED to be conducting your PT in your battle gear. Whether that's a LBV, or plate carrier with plates, or battle belt...complete with full mags, filled canteen(s) or CamelBak, knee pads (a must!), AND your battle rifle with a full magazine.

Why? Because that's EXACTLY how you will be training here.
Train like you fight. Fight like you train.
Makes sense?

Also, don't conduct your PT on a flat surface either. You will encounter uneven terrain which takes more effort to get through than flat terrain. So train with that in mind.

(Guys, I can't emphasize the importance of realistic, effective, RELEVANT PT enough. Combat is the single most intense, physically, mentally, and spiritually demanding endeavor in the human experience...with the possible exception of being in the room for the delivery of your first-born. I am working on an article on the subject currently, but am also dealing with some things in real life at the moment. Suffice for the moment to say, you're probably not in as good of shape as you think you are, and no, farm work and ranch work is NOT combat conditioning....)

Day One
After everyone arrived to the class location, J.M. introduced himself and talked about his background and what we were going to be doing in class.

We were introduced to TC3 (Tactical Combat Casualty Care). Areas covered were:
  • Basic Management Plan for Care Under Fire Phase
  • Basic Management Plan for Tactical Field Care
  • Individual Task List for Tactical Combat Casualty Care
  • Practical Scenario Exercise
We were taught how to properly apply to ourselves and classmates a CAT tourniquet (preferred over others), the TK4 tourniquet (not recommended for lack of a windlass) and the SOF tourniquet.The point is to get that blood loss stopped within 60-90 seconds to prevent unconsciousness. Untreated, you will bleed out in 3 minutes or less. Everyone was able to preform this exercise without any problems.

Then we moved to the casualty extrication under fire exercise in full gear. Basically you drag your buddy to safety by using the drag handle on his chest rig/plate carrier, the shoulder harness on the rig, or by grabbing him under the arms.

We practiced the one man drag and the two man drag while J.M. fired rounds to simulate incoming fire (in a safe direction, to clarify, NOT over the heads of the students. That was an entirely different element in the class....). We had to move the wounded man to safety in under 90 seconds. I'm not a big guy. At 5'-7" and 135 lbs. dragging a 220+ lb. man is not an easy thing to do. Which is why I appreciated the 4 man improvised litter carry method much more. Basically you position a casualty blanket under the wounded man, and each man grabs a corner and carries him off to safety. This makes moving the wounded man much easier but at the cost of reducing your fighting force by 4, plus the wounded man, as they won't be in a position to return fire and kill the enemy. This method is better utilized after the fighting is over (and I generally recommend adding real litters to medic packing lists, even if they are the torture device known as the poleless litters)

The most important lesson we learned about treating combat injuries is this:
The best medicine on the battlefield is fire superiority!
(Fucking GOSPEL!!!!)

Win the fight to prevent the further casualties.

Shortly after this exercise during further TC3 lessons, we had 2 heat casualties that needed to be attended to, one of them being yours truly. My buddy went down first. He ended up vomiting and didn't immediately respond to J.M. who rushed over to asses the situation. My buddy was given an oral I.V. and plenty of water to drink. A wet bandana was placed on the back of his neck and he was kept in the shade. J.M. used this as a teaching moment.

About 5 minutes later, I became overwhelmed with nausea and asked another classmate to help me up as I felt I was going to be sick. He and another classmate helped me to the trees where I thought I was going to hurl, but this didn't happen. (I'm thinking I might have been better off if I had) As was done with my buddy, I was given more water to drink, administered an oral  I.V., and kept in the shade with a wet bandana on my neck. I suspect the culprits to this incident were the Wendy's Chicken sandwiches we both ate the night before class and washed down with a root beer float. This event led to my very poor performance in the assessment test that occurred a little while later. I wasn't back to feeling 100% until later the next day (Honestly? HH6 was convinced IronWill and his buddy had just smoked too much weed the night before. Will assured me this was not the case. Guys, I don't give a shit WHAT you do when you're not in my class, but consider the implications of what you are doing and their impact on your training.....whether it's smoking out, or eating shitty Wendy's food....)
Side Note:
Throughout the day, J.M. was constantly asking me if I was okay. Even though he joked that I probably thought he was an a-hole for constantly asking, I appreciated his concern and completely understand why he kept checking. A leader looks out for the men under him. He did this with other classmates too, some had bad knees, bad backs, or whatever, and his number one concern was always for our safety and health.
(While the goal of training is to replicate reality as closely as possible, few of us are 19-year old studs anymore. Don't fucking cripple yourself in training. I'd rather have every swingin' Richard capable of manning the line for real on the big day, than sitting on the sidelines because he fucked himself up in training.)

After TC3 class, (I think it was after, the order of things is kind of a blur due to the heat exhaustion) we practiced dropping to one knee, using 2 different methods. Then we practiced dropping onto both knees simultaneously while running. Then we practiced dropping into the prone position from the 2 knee drop. Good knee pads are a must for this.

After everyone got that mastered, or close enough, we moved on to the 2 man bounding exercises. First with dry fire while yelling "Bang! Bang!" to simulate gun fire. Then later with live rounds. This was the "I'm up! He sees me! I'm down!" forward advancing exercise. Then we practiced with two 2-man teams moving simultaneously while giving each other cover fire. The key to doing this exercise correctly was communication. You don't move ahead unless your request for cover fire is acknowledged by the other team. If you don't hear the acknowledgement, "Gotcha covered!" then you repeat your request while looking to make sure the team is not dealing with another issue such as a weapons malfunction or changing a magazine. J.M. would fire rounds to simulate incoming fire. This did 3 things:
  1. It signaled us to drop to the prone position to avoid getting shot
  2. Got us used to yelling our communications to be heard
  3. Helped us to get comfortable with gunfire
(The old mantra is "shoot, move, and COMMUNICATE" folks. Too many people spend time training by themselves or one or two close friends and learn each other's habits well enough to get by with piss-poor communications. That's great...except when it's for real, and everyone is shitting themselves and forgetting what they know, or when you are suddenly thrust into a situation where you have to work with guys who you've not trained with as much.)
In short order, everyone was doing pretty well. We then moved on to the assessment test.

Since it wasn't mentioned in the previous AAR, I'll describe it here. The assessment test was simple. Run 1K as fast as you can with your designated Ranger Buddy, while wearing full gear and carrying your battle rifle. This was immediately followed by five rounds in twenty seconds into a target at 200 meters, a sprint to the 100 meter mark and 5 rounds in 15 seconds. Then a sprint to the 50 meter mark and 5 rounds in 10 seconds. Finally a sprint to the 25 meter mark with 5 rounds in 10 seconds.

NOT easy to do after suffering from heat exhaustion earlier that day and J.M. said normally those times are half of what he allotted. He said he was going easy on us (additionally, I didn't impose a time standard on the 1K movement....more on that in the forthcoming article).

Afterwards we took a break for a surprise dinner of delivered pizza. What a guy!

After dinner, it was nearly dark and we moved onto getting accustomed to walking around the woods with no lights. There was no moon but the stars were plentiful and gave off enough light to see a little once the eyes adjusted. Some classmates were fortunate enough to have a Night Optical Device (NODs) with them and J.M. demonstrated that he could run faster through the woods in the dark without NODs than those who had them. He wasn't doing this to show off, he was doing this to show us that NODs are a good tool but not to rely on them alone (additionally, I took the opportunity to demonstrate you can move more quietly in the woods without NODs. While they ARE an inarguably valuable force multiplier, you need to understand HOW to apply them effectively and correctly. It's not a simple matter of putting them on and going off on walkabout.)

It was about 23:30 when we were dismissed and everyone headed for bed, at a slow pace. Everyone was aching somewhere on their body. Day one was a half day and it kicked our ass. I didn't get a good solid night of sleep. Due to all the water I drank for the heat exhaustion, I got up 6 times during the night to relieve my bladder. A new personal record.

Day Two
J.M. started with a discussion on camouflage. He showed us how one could easily blend in the woods with khaki pants and a brown top just as easily as someone in full Multicam. One doesn't have to have the latest and greatest camo to disappear and he proved this. He also discussed the proper application of face camo and some students applied it on, and others used balaclavas, gaiters, shemagh or improvised masks from a shirt (we also discussed and demonstrated the importance of shadows and leveraging them to your advantage, amongst a host of other elements in simply disappearing into the background)

We then headed into the woods to learn how to walk as quietly as possible. Making minimum noise, watching our foot placement, avoid snapping twigs with our weight, and brushing twigs out of the way so they didn't get caught on our gear. J.M. demonstrated how to step with the outside edge of your foot and roll it down slowly to minimize noise. We then practiced this together. Then we were taught how to low crawl quietly. The point was not to rush, but to make deliberate and quiet movements.

After this, we headed off to a heavily wooded area. Half the class would sit at the top of a ridge and try to spot the other half of the class stalking through the woods. A couple of scouts would walk through to try and spot anybody but they were only to observe and not interact. The goal was for the stalking team to get as close to the observing team before being spotted. We applied what we had learned about moving through the woods as quietly as possible. At one point during the stalk, a deer walked obliviously between me and a classmate. I guess we got the quiet part down correctly. After an hour and 20 minutes of slowly moving closer to the ridge, J.M. blew the whistle and called us in. It was time to switch and the observing team became the stalking team and vice versa.

After this exercise we walked back to camp and ate lunch. Then we began with more bounding drills. Then advanced to an outflanking exercise. One four-man team would act as the fire support team while the other four-man team bounded around to act as the assault team. Team work and communication were vital.

We had 2 sets of radios, a set of Motorola's and a set of Cobra's, but each set was not compatible with the other. The fire support team had a radio and the assault team had a radio. The purpose of the radios was for the assault team to notify the fire support team to lift fire (cease fire) immediately before they assaulted the enemy objective to avoid getting shot by friendly fire. In the case of radio failure due to not being heard over the gun fire, or an incompatible set, a whistle was used to signal 'Lift Fire'. This worked better than the radios 100% of the time. Everyone should have a whistle (this goes back to a mantra I've preached since the beginning of this blog, folks: leverage technology to your advantage, but know how to function when the tech goes to shit).
As always, the exercises were conducted dry until everyone was comfortable moving properly and understanding just what the heck we were doing. Teams were working together and having fun, but more importantly, they were learning and understanding the purpose of the exercises. Each exercise was a building block for the next exercise (crawl-walk-run).

Live fire drills were always exciting as they added more realism to the whole exercise. But mainly it also taught us how to conduct a rapid reload, a reload with retention, and how to communicate over gun fire with your team. It also made people more safety conscious and aware of where everyone was, as nobody wanted to be the guy who shot their classmate. Fortunately, this never occurred and J.M. was always aware of what everyone was doing (As a couple of military veterans in the class pointed out..including a former Scout Platoon Leader...this was far above the typical check-the-box training they received on active duty in the conventional force. Sad, but true).

We had some more lessons on the white board and Q&A time. Later we began repeating the exercise, except this time we were going to do it in the dark. I think this made some of us a little nervous. What if we didn't see our assault team, what if we didn't hear the "Lift Fire" command before they began they're assault where we would be shooting? This is why we practiced dry over and over.

By the time it live fire time, it was dark. J.M. had us form a line and go prone. He told us to fire where he did and proceeded to shoot tracers at the target. We all shot where he did. J.M. explained to us that tracers are a tool be used to direct fire by those with NOD's for the others who do not have NOD's. Then he placed 2 glo-sticks on either side of the target and told us to shoot at the space between the the glo-sticks. This was to help us keep our fire directed in one location and prevent anyone from shooting where they should be shooting. It worked out well. That J.M. is a smart guy I tell you (actually, it was a class participant who was shooting the tracers. He had PVS-14s on, and an IR laser on his rifle. As instructed, he'd fire a tracer round, and the rest of the class would aim where his tracer indicated, with a great deal of success....not surprising, since this is a classic technique of using NODs in the tactical leader role).

We then began our live fire flanking exercise in the dark. The fire support team fired at the space between the glo-sticks and the assault team moved into flanking position. What happened was that people moved slower in the dark compared to the day. They were more cautious of where they stepped, where they shot, and how they moved. J.M. would shadow the assault team to make sure they stayed safe and to motivate them to move faster. When it was time to assault the enemy objective after "Lift Fire" was called, we were told to rush into the woods (objective) with our weapon mounted lights momentarily turned on and off as we shouted "Bang! Bang!" instead of actually shooting. This was done more to prevent cutting down the trees than anything. (We also did this during the day) (one request by the land-owner/host was to prevent destroying any more timber than absolutely necessary. Considering his generosity in letting us use his land, it was the least we could do)

After that exercise, we learned how to march in the dark through the woods, as always, in full gear and with rifle. The lead man would use his NODs to move forward and scan. When the coast was clear, he'd signal the man behind him to move up and so on and so forth. This was a little tricky as the lead man was supposed to stay close enough for the man behind him, who didn't have NODs, to still be able to see him in the dark. Sometimes the lead man got too far ahead where his hand signals couldn't be seen. It was a short adjustment period to get the right distance between men.

By the time this exercise was complete, it was 23:30 and time for bed.

Day Three

We began with learning how to patrol in 2 four-man teams. Using what we learned from the previous days, we utilized the quiet walking technique J.M. taught us the day before. When the target was spotted, the person who spotted it would yell, "Enemy contact! 10 o'Clock!" and everyone would begin firing in that direction. As one team directed cover fire, the other team would bound up and provide cover fire for the other team as they bounded up. Once a team was close enough to assault the target, they would yell "Lift Fire!" and as soon as the gunfire stopped from the support fire team, the assault team would rush forward while firing (Will's description is a little confused, but pretty well accurate. This is the basic "react-to-contact" battle drill).

J.M. then taught us how to break contact with the enemy. He taught us the Australian Peel and we practiced it dry and then with live fire. We learned how to create a 360 degree security perimeter once we arrived to the rally point and it's purpose.

Afterwards we had a lesson on the Principles of Patrol. (PRSCC) (Puerto Ricans Suck Cock Constantly)
  • Planning
  • Recon
  • Security
  • Control
  • Common Sense

  • Mission
  • Enemy
  • Time
  • Terrain
  • Civilians
The two types of Patrols:
  • Recon Patrol (with a potential for becoming an ambush)
  • Combat Patrol
    • Raids
    • Ambush
and other topics that I won't bother mentioning. Not because they are not important, but because it's too much information to cover. I'm writing a blog, not a book. All this information can be found in the Ranger Handbook.

During the verbal AAR, everyone agreed that the class met or exceeded their expectations. We also agreed that we needed to modify and increase our PT. <------HINT!!!

As much as this class kicked our asses physically and mentally, (and J.M. said he was going easy on us! LOL) everyone agreed they'd do it again, myself included, sans the Wendy's the night before class.

I want to publicly thank J.M. for taking time out of his private life to conduct these trainings. They are important. They are necessary. And the time may come (hopefully not) when we will have to fall back on what we learned here and utilize them to save lives, be it our our loved ones, our neighbors, or ourselves.

This class wasn't just about learning how to gun fight. There is much more to it. You won't finish the class the same person you were when you started it. I guarantee it.

Was the class worth paying $500 for? No. It was worth MUCH more than that. If J.M. decides to conduct another open enrollment class, I'd jump on it right away. Just be prepared to come home bruised, battered, cut, sore, and possibly unable to get off the toilet due to the aches in your legs (ask me how I know), but more importantly, be prepared to come home changed and educated enough to begin training your friends (ultimately, THAT is the goal of the training I put out, whether it's combative shooting, small-unit tactics, TC3, or any of the other courses I teach...I want you to be able to teach the fundamental skills to others).


  1. Was I THAT out of it to appeared stoned? I didn't mention in the AAR that I also had chili cheese fries while my buddy did not. Damn, last time I eat at Wendy's!

  2. Sounds like one hell of a class. Let us know when/if you ever plan a trip to Ar.

  3. Arkansas or Arizona? Email me at nousdefionsranger@yahoo.com

  4. Seriously dude, email me, post-haste. I can make something happen in that area....sooner rather than later.

  5. It seems conventional force training suffered extensively in the Clinton years and later.

  6. If you are going to go to the time and expense to attend a class, especially a physically intensive one then show up ready. Have a drink or two or smoke a bit maybe if you really want but eat a big plate of spaghetti, drink a lot of water and get 7-8 hours of rack time.

    I like the guy with the nods/ laser identifies targets and everybody fires a volley routine. Having a couple legit setups in a group may be a lot more realistic than everybody spending 4 g's to fight at night. Guess it isn't revolutionary as I am used to designating targets with a PEQ-15 but at work everybody has these things.

  7. On the hydration front, get some Qwik Stik electrolyte packets for your kits. They sell at industrial supply stores or easily On-Line. These turn any water into a Gatorade type drink. If you are sweating profusely and drinking plenty of water, you need to replace those electrolytes to maintain your muscle function. I keep many of these with my kit. 20 plus. Always. I dump a pack of them on my tongue and wash is down with 15 gulps of water over 5 minutes. Amazing results for stamina. No BS. Try it. I take them everywhere now, and consume one when it is necessary. On a hump after 10 miles with a moderately heavy pack in 95 to 100 degree heat, you need it. And after you get them into your body, within 5 minutes, you'll wonder WTF were you doing before this. Sqwincher Lite Quik Stik, various flavors also.

    1. Those are very effective and readily handy! I was introduced to them when I worked in a tire recycling factory, tossing around 100# semi truck tires in 100 degree heat, water wasn't cutting it! Some guy brought a bag of these packets, and I can tell you, when before I was going 1-3 hours on just water and feeling my muscles just acting like rubber bands, to going the same with this packets in my water, I could grab the tires and not feel the drain at the near end of the day. Highly recommend these!! Great for restoring your energy leves and keeping your body fully charged!