Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Patrolling Training Review

Some time back, I attended a training session with 13 fellow patriots. The topic was patrolling. The session was taught by a US Marine, who was about 5 years removed from his time in the infantry. It is my understanding that his MOS was 0311 - infantry - and that he had served overseas. I am unsure if it was Afghanistan or Iraq, or both. Two other Vets assisted in demonstrations. Out of respect, I am keeping all personally identifying information out of this review.

My son (age 10) was one of the group of 14. There were three teenage boys, who were remarkably well mannered and well behaved. Two women were in the group. Of the grown men, I was one of two (that I know of) who had not been in the military.

There were many nuggets of information that were passed along which have applicability outside of patrolling. Things you might hear in a tactical carbine class or other combat oriented class.
* Keep your head on a swivel.
* Complacency kills.
* In a gunfight, you need to be shooting, moving, or communicating.
* Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
* People will naturally take the path of least resistance.

As for the patrolling specific information, I took notes and other things were committed to memory. Here is the roundup:

You would patrol an area around a place you occupy. The idea is to stretch your area out and make sure the enemy is not encroaching to prepare an assault. There are many other reasons to patrol, as well. A patrol of a few hundred yards may take 3 - 5 hours when done correctly.

Patrolling is not reconnaissance. Patrolling is not standing guard or standing watch.

The key word was "dispersion." Don't keep bunched up. There are times to be in a straight line (tight spaces, etc.), but in the open, you should have 7 - 25 meters distance between yourself and other members of your fire team. Patrol in a staggered (zig-zag) pattern. TAKE YOUR TIME - this is not a race.

Areas of Responsibility
5's and 25's is the term: 5 meters all around you is your zone of responsibility, as is at least 25 meters in front. Every 7-15 steps, you should turn to the rear and check the person behind you... just in case. Always turn to the outside of the group. If you are the final person in the group, you need to turn every 5 steps or so. Remember - this is not a race.

What to Look For
Overturned dirt. Things out of place. Evidence of enemy movement. Look for the enemy.
Look all around. Look on the ground. Look up in trees / rooftops. Look everywhere.

Bounding By 2's
From time to time, you will come across an area where you are out in the open from all sides. At this point, you would "bound by 2's." Two people move forward, one covering forward and right, one covering forward and left. The two do not leave until touched by fire team member behind them. Both people leave cover at the same time.

Once the clearing is crossed, they stop, and provide cover for the next two fire team members. Additionally, ones head must be on a swivel - expect the enemy also to come from the front. Once the next two team members arrive, the first two continue the patrol. If there are more team members still, then the second pair provides cover while the third pair bounds by 2.

Setting Up a Perimeter
Perhaps you've reached a checkpoint or an objective, it's time to set up a perimeter. You may have just your own fire team, or you may have several fire teams. Traditional doctrine specifies movement based on squad machine guns... however, we lowly civilians do not have access to that technology, so the idea would be to fill in the next logical space. ** Author's note - perhaps the civilian group needs to base the doctrine around the Designated Marksmen? **

When leaving a perimeter, there are two general schools of thought:
* First in, first out.
* First in, last out.
Obviously, if another course of action is needed due to circumstances, it is up to fire team leaders, squad leaders, and platoon leaders to communicate and sort this out in advance.

Hand Signals
This ends the review of the material covered. Obviously, we practiced each of these, as well as performing drills to get better. Each activity had specific hand signals that were needed to be known -
* Stop!
* Get down!
* Go prone.
* Get back up
* Increase space between you.
* Decrease space between you.
* Come on (continue patrolling).
These signals were fairly straight forward and intuitive. A quick Google search will yield all the pertinent signals.

Other Observations
These are my personal observations, outside of the scope of the material. Some were touched on by the instructor(s), and some were not.

Camouflage - I am happy with my choice of A-TACS. Woodland would be good, as would multicam. My son had no issues blending in among tall grass by simply taking a knee. He was wearing OD pants and hat, along with a regular grey shirt. We put local grasses in his hat for effect.

Black - is not camouflage. I immediately realized this in the pictures of the group. Everything on my primary rifle and load out that was black is being replaced. Similarly, my orange/red lenses on the sunglasses were easy to spot. Those have been replaced.

Single point slings are not bad. I've ordered one (not in black). The model I ordered can double as a two-point sling.

Hydrate. No, really.

During and after the training, I was very glad for every hour of exercise I put in over the past few years. Carrying 30 - 40 pounds of gear was not something easily done by several in our group. For patrol, pack light. I carried 210 rounds (7 magazines) regular ammo, 40 rounds (2 mags) precision ammo, a handgun, 85 rounds handgun ammo (9mm - 5 mags), a knife, flashlight, water (3 L), and my primary rifle (SPR - about 8 or 9 pounds). Some in the group were drenched with sweat at the end, I was not one of them, nor was my son.

We were in forrest and fields in rural Tennessee. My ACOG with piggyback red dot was perfect. My son used a micro dot on his M4, to good effect. Most had red dots of varying types.

In the field, a boonie hat is easier for ACOG users than a ball cap. My ball cap would have bumped my optic when aiming a lot. The boonie hat gives way. The ACOG, of course, has a short eye relief, so the shooter must get close. That said, a ball cap is perfectly fine with red dots.

Comfortable hiking boots in earthy colors are more cost effective and comfortable than military style boots, in my opinion.

This was my first time wearing a combat shirt during training. I was impressed with the comfort and utility.

It is very reassuring being among like-minded individuals. Patriots, the lot of them.

Nobody seemed to mind a 10 year old with a full size M4 carbine. Nor the teenagers with similar. We were there to train, and I didn't catch any unsafe gun handling by any other students.

Several Vets complimented my son on his manners ("yes, sir" / "no, sir"). It seemed anyone there would have been happy to have him on their fire team. Makes me a proud daddy.

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