Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Breaching And Clearing

Recently, I had the privilege of attending a class on breaching and clearing. The instructors for the day included a current US Army infantryman, and two retired US Army soldiers. Attendees included young men and women and several of us in our 40's. About 20 students overall. The course was designed for civilians in  SHTF scenario.

Breaching and clearing in a SHTF scenario might be necessary for any of a number of reasons. Reasons may include assault on an enemy stronghold, searching for supplies, or simply reclaiming one's own property that has been taken away. These lessons center around a core 4-man fire team, but can easily translate to 3-man teams and 5-man teams. Only minor modifications are needed for squads (2 fire teams - usually 8-12 men) or platoons (2-4 squads).

First order was to take a look at the basics via Power Point Demonstration.
Second up was a safety briefing, as we were about to go to the live range.
Next part was breaching and clearing in 4-man fire teams. We used actual rifles of our choice that had been cleared (no live ammo, and you'll see why in a moment).
Last was a 1-5 drill.

For a four man team. If the door is locked, the point man calls for the 4th man to come up and breach the door (via kick, crowbar, shotgun, etc.). Once the door is breached, the building is entered swiftly. The point man goes left or right, depending on what he sees. Second man goes opposite the point man. Third man goes center. Fourth man runs security - covering the rear of the team.

The remaining three men bunch up, and proceed to take additional rooms in the same fashion.

At all times, your task is to either shoot, move, or communicate.

Exiting the building can be just as hazardous to your health as entering.

There are special tactics for specific problems encountered by problematic layouts. One such example might be when a fire team is going down a hall and there are two doors - one left and one right - at the same spot. Another such problem is if a hall dead-ends into a perpendicular hallway. All angles must be covered and cleared.

The US Army infantry book has a lot of information. As does the US Army Ranger book.

I ran breaching and clearing drills and 1-5 drills with three of my rifles - SPR, M16A4, and an M4. On my SPR, I alternated between an Aimpoint and an ACOG (with piggyback red dot), and I found most drills to be virtually identical. The 1-5 saw a marked advantage with the Aimpoint.

Having a "musket" (M16A4 clone) limited maneuverability slightly, but not as much as some would have you believe. Oh, and the retired Army guys really got a kick out of seeing a man successfully breaching and clearing with a rifle. When they found out I own an M1, they asked if I'd do a breaching and clearing round with the M1... sadly, I'd left it at home.

Fitness is crucial. I never got winded nor tired. In fact, in a group debriefing, it was a shock to some of my fellow 40-plus folk that I was in their age bracket.

Marksmanship is crucial. It didn't take long (end of the first string of 5 rounds) for the instructors to realize that my marksmanship was tops among the students present. Of course, they were eager to see if I had any speed for the 1-5 drills... and they were not disappointed.

"Driving" your rifle (or carbine) is crucial when changing targets, and when clearing.

I loaned out my rifle and my carbine to other shooters for clearing and shooting drills. The younger shooters really liked the M4 carbine I brought and the Eotech sight on it. The older guys really liked the M16A4 clone. Several asked me about how to build one.

Our host was a remarkable host. Attentive, and a quality instructor. He went out of his way to make sure everyone felt welcome. No names here, but I'd worked with him before, and he is as quality a guy as you're likely to come across.

Watch for windows.

Gear & Weapons
I think I may buy a Primary Arms red dot and put on the M16A4 clone. That, plus the Primary Arms PAC3X scope would make an ideal combo.

My SPR was as fast as any carbine, weighs similar to a carbine, had the least recoil on the range, and still retains most of the velocity of a 20" rifle. This shall be my go-to SHTF gun. Of course, I already knew that... I'd built the gun specifically around that type of mission.

My drop-leg holster for my sidearm drops a but more than I prefer. This shall be remedied.

Aimpoint for total speed, but my ACOG with piggyback red dot is just fine for what I'll likely be doing if SHTF.

Some folks had iron sights fall off, front BUIS fall off, optics fall off, and one gentleman even had his takedown pin fall completely out (whoever assembled it had not put in the retaining pin and spring). My weapons had zero issues, and that was as expected.

Personal Training Notes
How to adapt what I've learned into my skillset, and what I've done in the past that helped in this class.

1. Continue with walking, sprints, pushups, dips, pullups, squats.
2. Speed drills changing targets are good.
3. Marksmanship is essential.
4. Learning mindset is essential.
5. My personal load out is pretty good overall.

Other Thoughts
We did the 1-5 drill, and it's a good drill. At this time, I would prefer the Army 2-2-2 drill. It will get more shots on multiple targets in a faster time... and still allows for followup if an enemy combatant is not out of the fight after 2 shots. If I have a reader who has seen actual combat (I haven't) who would disagree, post a comment or email me. Don't just say 2-2-2 doesn't work - give me a drill that works better instead.

It is important to be honest with oneself. I labor under no false pretenses of my role in  a particular fire team in SHTF. If anyone in certain of my circles makes it past day 1 of SHTF, then my most likely role in a fire team  (in order) is SDM, medic, rifleman.

As long as automatic weapons are forbidden for civilians, then I think a civilian fire team should base all movement around the SDM... and that's not just because I can personally fill that role. It's because reconnaissance and accurate fire will become much more important since civilians cannot call in air support. Again, if there's anyone who has actual combat experience who can give me an alternative, then I'm open to hearing it and changing my mind.

Get out there and train. It's one thing to occasionally be able to hit the middle of a target. It's another thing altogether to be able to rapidly and proactively engage multiple threats.

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