BUILDING SMALL TEAMS: DEVELOPING COMBAT-EFFECTIVE RESISTANCE ELEMENTS, PART TWO: DEVELOPING TRAINING
Properly conducted tactical training is preparation for interpersonal violence: combat. Improperly conducted training is a waste of time, energy, and limited finance. It is essential that potential future resistance elements train how they will fight. Training must be planned to ensure that not only are all necessary individual and collective tasks are fully learned and practiced, but that the training is as realistic as safely possible. Combat is harsh, unforgiving, and unpredictable, but well-planned and executed training can help to mitigate the hazards of combat by preparing fighters to face them. Training must be kept relevant and real.
Some tips to make training more effective:
- Grab students' attention from the beginning. This may range from showing a suitably relevant movie the first night of a weekend training course, to initiating the first classroom/lecture portion of the class with flash-bangs and blank-fire automatic gunfire to ensure they are paying attention.
- Always inform students beforehand, of all the equipment they will need in order to perform the training in accordance with the training plan. Make sure they know ahead of time, what tasks they will be expected to learn, allowing them to read up and study the task steps beforehand. This will accelerate the learning curve for them.
- You do not need high-tech training aids, but don't be shy about using training aids, from butcher board sheets with illustrations, to hand-outs, to specific weapons systems to demonstrate certain elements (For the love of Christ Almighty though...do not EVER use fucking PowerPoint as a training aid. No one knows how to do it properly, in or out of the military. –J.M.).
- Involve the students in the lesson and be animated. Move around, keep asking them questions, keep them interested. If students are falling asleep, or getting distracted by outside diversions, you are not doing your job as a trainer.
- Combat units do not attend lectures or classes. They TRAIN on combat tasks. Hands-on training is the best way to impart tactical training to students. Don't be shy about making students get dirty, wet, and cold, or sweaty and hot. They will appreciate your efforts.
- Have students brief-back your training to you, to review it and ensure they have fully understood all of the relevant lessons.
- Put your team in an actual training scenario, on a relevant piece of representative terrain. If you live and expect to operate in a built-up, urban environment, don't expect them to remain interested if all of your training takes place in a state park somewhere, out in the woods. It's not relevant to their needs, and they will recognize that, thus losing interest.
- Do NOT waste training time. Use it effectively. Have a well-developed training plan. Train to the plan, and only modify it if the training demands it. Do not train to a time standard, train to the standard, no matter how long it takes. If you have a limited training time window, due to other constraints, pause the training and restart where you ended the next time you can get the students in the same place for training. Do not rush through something that is not fully understood (trust me, doing so will fuck you in the long run. --J.M.).
- Challenge the students on the team. Push them to exceed their preconceived limits. During training, make them perform to higher standards. During evaluations, require them to perform to gradually increasingly difficult standards. Teams that successfully overcome real, unexpected challenges will enjoy greater cohesion courtesy of the increased individual levels of morale amongst the group members.
I recognize that many inexperienced people seem to believe that SOF war-fighters are “fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants,” “make-it-up-as-we-go,” improvisational masters. To a degree, that is an accurate assessment. It's only possible however, because we operate off a plan that happens to offer us multiple contingencies in case something changes. While modifying a plan to fit changing METT-TC conditions is perfectly acceptable, you must have a plan to start with in order to change it. Anyone who thinks they can just “wing it,” in training, or in combat, is fucking delusional. I highly suggest, if someone shows up, offering you training, or leadership, and their stated teaching method is, “I make it up as I go,” or some variation thereof, run, as fast, and as far as you are able, to put space between you and them.
Somewhere in the mountains