Thoughts on Class Progression

Update on the ARKTIS B110 Windproof Smock
January 5, 2014
Arctis B110 Windproof Smock – Field Trial
January 8, 2014

I have been taking notes on the feedback people have been giving me in blog comments. I am now doing the MVT thing, as well as writing (Sequel to Patriot Dawn) full time, so there are no excuses. I am about to introduce the Combat Patrol Class (first class 18-20 January, 3 places remaining) which is the progression from the standard CRCD Class.

Combat Patrol is a progression from the required CRCD, and although it is termed a patrol class, it is also a Small Unit Tactics (SUT) class. Topics covered include the basics of patrolling, patrol base, living in the field, recce patrol and also live fire contact drills in various forms, ambush, hasty attack and raid. However, although there are opportunities and they will be exploited, this is not so much a leadership class, but a led class through these activities.

I have seen two main topics of requests: Leadership and Alumni Weekends. Based on this I am considering developing a couple of additional courses, for implementation once the patrol class is bedded in and I have done all the work in the site to take it to its potential. In order that you have the required level of ‘basic training’ in TTPs and safety, both the CRCD and Combat Patrol classes will be prerequisites for the advanced classes.

1) A Teamwork/Leadership class. In outline, this would likely take the form of a scenario based weekend of either balanced force on force or friendlies (FREEFOR) versus an OPFOR. Both my wife and I have experience in this field. It does not have to always be full combat, it may involve scenario based FreeFor activity, such as aid to the civil population, rescue missions, use of agents and dead drops, role players etc. With a healthy dose of bad guys in there somewhere! I am always motivated to create realism, and will likely look into the use of MILES gear or similar, to be used with blank rounds, to make this as realistic as possible.

2) I am considering some sort of additionally dynamic weekend, or maybe just a day, for a competition/selection. The current classes do not ‘select’ or pass/fail. So long as you abide by safety rules and instruction, and have the heart to get up and down the ranges, you pass the class. I am considering offering a harder weekend, neither the Combat Patrol or the CRCD. Perhaps some sort of selection event, nothing super hard, but with standards. If you pass, you get an additional badge or tab to the one I hand out at CRCD classes. I am considering an event perhaps along these lines:

  • A rapid approach march, to contact. I design a route at the site, which given the hills would be maybe 2 miles with a set pass time. We do it as a squad or individually.  A standard weight is carried.
  • At the finish point, there is some form of shoot. This could be scored individuality or a team event. March & Shoot.
  • An extraction with a casualty.
  • It occurs to me that you could well do with TC3 if you are doing the casualty extraction, so perhaps this event could be combined with some initial TC3 training?
  • Perhaps some form of longer route march, with full ruck weight. Maybe with a raid at the end?

Just some ideas for now. Input is appreciated as we develop the concepts.  As with all these things, now that I have mentioned it, it will probably take on a momentum of its own and happen rapidly….MILES gear will be an expense/investment.

Live Hard.

Die Free.



  1. F says:

    Loving the ideas and looking forward to participating! : )

  2. Tater says:

    Ditto to what F just posted. I still have a few soon to be useless fiat dollars left, so I might as well convert them into something of value, like training, while I can. The competition/selection idea is great! The thought of having to meet some sort of minimum criteria will help provide me with the motivation to keep pushing on those days when I’m “just not feelin’ it”. Thanks for all you do to help prepare us for the upcoming Liberty Games.

    Tater, out.

    • F says:

      Tater you make a valid point.

      Even though I exercise for my current job knowing that I have to perform for Max in hilly terrain has sometimes given me a little extra push to not skip an evening when i was really not in the mood…


      PS: Just got done working out earlier.

    • DarkKnight says:

      Tater- That’s a great name for the competition weekend: “The Liberty Games.”!!!
      Would love to be involved once I get the patrol class done!

  3. SP in NC says:

    Digging it. All of it. 🙂

  4. Thomas says:

    If you are setting this up as an alumni course where you teach leadership, you might consider running parallel five day courses where your alumni plan parts of the CRCD/Patrol course missions and perform some leadership tasks associated with the basic class.

    There is a great deal that you could do but time is your enemy.

  5. Hawkeye says:

    I like the sound of all of it.

  6. TOR says:

    Max, In terms of potential classes here are my thoughts:
    1- IIRC you are qualified as a medic. Something medical maybe along the Combat Lifesaver lines though TC3 would be even better.
    2- Combat Rifle 2. More in field shooting and individual movement.
    3- Along the lines you mentioned a weekend FREE FOR FTX with a medley of dead drops, civil aid, patrolling, lying up, maybe an ambush, etc.

  7. Sfsigo110 says:

    The training value of the military style miles gear is very limited in my opinion. It tends to be horribly inaccurate and failure prone. I would recommend simunitions or even just regular paintball gear as better options, though they have downsides as well. You might also want to check out the kit being used by Sudden Combat in Sterling. It at least can give you unpleasant feedback when you get hit, but I am not sure if it would stand up to the beating of a field environment.

    • Max Velocity says:

      Don’t agree. Paintball/airsoft doesn’t have the range or realism. Simunition is prohibitively expensive. MILES always worked good enough in my opinion. Any kind of simulation has limitations, it’s just a question of minimizing them and keeping it as real as possible.
      We used to do BG on BG exercises with TES (MILES) gear, annually, called TESEX oddly enough!

      • Chuck says:

        MILES can be somewhat useful if used with careful supervision. It requires that each element is overseen by an Observer/Controller with a “God Gun” who can assess casualties regardless of whether the MILES laser has been set off (e.g., player is standing up behind a bush that is sufficient to stop a laser but not actual rounds fired) because sooner or later the urge to “win” leads to playing the “MILES game.”

        One would think that MILES would put an end to the the “I killed you” “No you didn’t!” arguments we all had as kids playing Cowboys and Indians (or whatever you Brits played…) but it doesn’t.

        In summary, any force on force, whether using MILES, Simunitions, paintball or just plain blanks and the honor system will require supervision and evaluation by Observer/Controllers to be useful and to facilitate the AARs after each iteration.

        • Max Velocity says:

          Yep. That’s my job 😉

          Cowboys and Indians….

          • Chuck says:

            You’ll need more O/Cs than just yourself!

            This is why it was more fun when, as kids, we graduated to BB gun wars. While stupid and reckless and I’m damn lucky I never lost an eye, there was never any doubt whether one was hit or not!

          • Max Velocity says:

            Thanks Chuck! 😉

          • Chuck says:

            No problemo, Max. I have done more than my fair share of cheating at MILES.

            One thing you have going for you is the level of motivation of your students will probably lead to them policing themselves much more than a bunch of 19 year old soldiers might.

            Your students pay good money for the training because they want it; soldiers are just doing what they’re told and if given their druthers would rather be out drinking than wearing MILES and humping rucks through wet/cold/hot/humid WV mountains.

      • sfsigo110 says:

        Agreed that all forms of simulation have issues. My problem with MILES is that often the sensors would get dirty in a field environment and wouldnt register hits, sometimes even from point blank range, plus you have to pay for blank ammunition. In my experience, even if everyone was “playing” fairly it would come down to the evaluator with the god gun deciding if you did something stupid enough to “get killed”. Perhaps new equipment/technology has advanced from when I used it in the early 2000’s, or privately maintained equipment would perform better than Army owned equipment, but I wouldn’t spend good money on the stuff we used. That being said I am about trying to figure out what works and not just pissing on what may or may not work. I live near your training site and so will volunteer to drive out and help you test whatever solution you decide on if you need help. Love the concept of force on force and I am sure you will set up a course with great training value.

      • SP says:

        Just a bit more on the MILES stuff and who else Stateside is using it. and Both the same company but different webbies for some reason.

        In their youtube vids, I notice they keep their MILES teams small(ish) so I imagine it is better to regulate and keep peeps in check.

        I think for your 12 man max groups, MILES would be spot on.

  8. pat says:

    Great ideas. Defnitely like the leadership course idea. One oher thought… Recon class. It may be a non-firing class (atleast for part of it) but a no shit actual recon. How to gather the intel. What to gather. How to remain unsees. What to do in a compromised situation. Etc. Could be as simple as a mock base with actors or a trip to town to observe the trogladytes.

  9. Joseph Fahy says:

    We will be signing up for your new courses as they become available. We are keenly interested!

    I am also interested in learning, assuming they exist, the TTPs of Threat Assessment, Threat Mitigation Strategy Development and Tactics Development to support given Strategic Objective(s) with limited Forces. I envision this to be more than “stayin alive.” Though that is a necessary condition!

    A Threat Assessment matrix [Severity v Likelihood] or other variables/dimensions, with associated Strategies and implementation Tactics, would help me to evaluate what I am seeing on the ground in terms of a “best guess” for what happens next and what my reaction “most likely” should be.

    This is more than a BS session and doesn’t involve chest thumping or miracles. It might have some decision tree logic in it. No doubt some military history. Maybe some classic chess games as well. Perhaps GO might be more apropos. It would involve speaking about lines, and departures from normal behavior.


  10. Diz says:

    I remember my first Bn night assault at Pendleton with Miles gear. It was very disconcerting to hear all those alarms going off, knowing those were all casualties. Occupational hazard, to be sure, but not helped by CO’s who insist on “high diddle diddle, right up the middle”. Even at night we were being mown down by the defenders.

    Miles gear is kinda klutchy, but it works.

    • Chuck says:

      Battalion night attack = clusterf*#% But in a fun kind of way.

      I have a very clear memory of being on the receiving end of one of those and mowing down the attackers with my MILES laser by standing behind a bush (completely out of my fighting position) tapping the sensor on the laser to make it fire while walking the laser in as I observed it through my PVS-14s. I never actually pulled the trigger on my M4 since that would have given away my position. It was a slaughter. Good times…

      Yes, MILES is a useful tool, but it has some major shortcomings.

      • Max Velocity says:

        You! You were that guy!
        Do push ups!

        • Chuck says:

          Ha! You’ll never find my shaved key either.

        • BravoJuliet says:

          I thought cheating was required. See rule 11 below:

          U.S. Marine Corps Rules:

          1. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
          2. Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough.
          3. Have a plan.
          4. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won’t work.
          5. Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
          6. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a “4.”
          7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.
          8. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral & diagonal preferred.)
          9. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
          10. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
          11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
          12. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
          13. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating your intention to shoot.

      • Diz says:

        Well, yeah, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying, etc. Chuck you are a very sneaky fellow. I won’t mention that I would take my batteries out, but I feel really BAD about that.

        Key point, you do need observers and possibly videotape to document what happen and how to improve. These things have a way of just degenerating into “bang-bang, I got you first-no you didn’t” without someone watching the whole thing.

    • RobRoySimmons says:

      Yep, its the Marine way, same in the mid 80s straight up the middle. I always assumed that even the dry runs with blanks at most were done straight up the middle so as to meet the time expectations of the exercise. The live fire runs, well from the pics of the Marines on a previous thread we can understand why it was “get on line.”

  11. SP says:

    Oh you mean a totally pointless cannon fodder charge only to then get minced by some well placed MG in depth because they didn’t think to use common sense and a bit of savvy? Gotcha!

    • Diz says:

      Close. Usually a pointless charge into 2 Mg’s on the flanks, with interlocking fields of fire. Sounded like two bassoons answering each other back in some demonic symphony. Butta, butta, buttta (butta, butta, butta). Continue until company is wiped out.

      I think a lot of that stems from experience in Viet-Nam, where units found getting on line and assaulting through quickly worked well in a jungle setting. But it also comes from officers afraid to try an envelopment because of the dangers of losing control and fratricide.

      • Max Velocity says:

        And perhaps an insufficient level of professional training and tactical understanding in the wider US Military?
        But that’s ok, because it’s really all about endless bureaucracy, not about competence at the job, right?
        Oops, did I write that out loud? 😉

        • Chuck says:

          Sort of. Most know what to do but for a variety of reasons they don’t do it. The training and tactical knowledge is there, but the incentive to actually employ it is not: careers are not made through tactical excellence, but by checking the right blocks, especially in the officer corps.

          For example, most infantry platoon leaders in the US Army (2nd and 1st Lieutenants) are lucky to spend more than a year in charge of a platoon before moving on to the next job. If they’re lucky when they move on they get to be a company executive officer (XO) or a “specialty” platoon leader (Scout Platoon, Battalion Mortars, etc.). More likely they will be assigned as a staff flunky. Before you know it they are Company Commanders and they’ve spent the last few years drinking from a fire hose and never mastering any of the myriad of jobs they’ve been shoved into. The Army uses Ranger School as a crash course in small unit leadership and tactics for nearly all new infantry officers, but again, more drinking from a fire hose. The Army also relies heavily on the NCO corps to supplement this lack of experience with platoon sergeants, first sergeants and sergeants major. Unfortunately, this is a crap shoot as the Army has eroded the NCO corps with the same sort of “career road map” that resulted in the revolving door officer corps.

          To compound the problem (as I’m sure you’re aware being a member of the USAR) the Army has become consumed with all sorts of mandatory training requirements that do nothing for combat readiness such as Equal Opportunity, Sexual Harassment, Suicide Prevention, Master Resilience, etc., etc….These “mandatory briefings” continue to pile up and as they add them the old ones never go away (although they might change, e.g., Don’t Ask Don’t Tell training went away but now we get to learn all about how to get ID cards and other benefits for “same sex couples”. Then there are piss tests, command climate surveys, etc. Political correctness has literally reached crisis proportions in the Army to the point that not only has it supplanted combat readiness as a priority, but has actually degraded it.

          Eventually you get to training, but it is nowhere near the priority on the list of things a commander is held accountable for. And much of the training is check-the-block training that is quantifiable for reporting readiness, e.g., numbers of soldiers qualified (which does not equate to actual proficiency) on individual weapon, PT tests, etc. True tactical excellence isn’t the kind of thing you can quantify in the Unit Status Report and it is too vague for a commander’s Officer Evaluation Report.

          There are some units where tactical excellence thrives and the knowledge is still there (although much of it is lost as those who have it have vote with their feet and leave the force) but it is truly something that is leader driven and not institutionalized in a way that can be measured (like it was when we had the old ARTEP system). And if it can’t be measured, it won’t make a good OER or NCOER bullet…

          TL; DR version: Careerism and political correctness are the enemy of actual tactical excellence in the Army’s combat arms units.

          • Max Velocity says:

            You don’t know what you don’t know….
            And in the USAR all I ever seem to do is stand in a field for change of command ceremonies or get selected for ‘random’ piss tests….

          • SP says:

            All that sounds strikingly similar to the British Army……

          • Thomas says:

            I agree with this when considering it from the unit perspective through BN/BDE level. It seems as though units live to be detail company, do meaningless sensitivity training of one sort or another.

            At the operational level, the Army is better trained and more capable than ever before. That happened because senior leaders changed the approach to training NCOs and Soldiers after Vietnam.

            Return to peace time footing and the associated loss of available training resources will have something of an adverse effect that is not yet fully identified. Additionally, the deployment of the 11th (?) Cav from FT Irwin to Iraq will have a long lasting negative effect on conventional training.

            Careerism is nothing new. The careerists get sorted out. If the ratio of warriors was increased from 1 in 100 to something much greater, the Army would resemble the Klingons and citizens would be terrified!

    • Thomas says:

      The Marines default to the frontal attack because beach landings don’t lend themselves to exploration of an exposed flank. It has everything to do with their primary mission and their logistics plan for 72 hours of operation without resupply.

  12. Darkknight says:

    Maybe after initial leadership class or two, the alumni can assist as O/C in future classes.

  13. RobRoySimmons says:

    Marine Corps way is the hasty attack that stems from the Civil War Confederate cavalry passed on thru primarily Chesty Puller. When not “on line” then the MC reverts back to the island hopping campaign’s bunker attacks, pin em’ down and burn em’ out. If anyone disputes this I would be interested to know. Even an uncle of mine who was a very bitter draftee into the Army in Nam laughed at the MC for charging into well defended positions when the Army would use F&M.

    “Hammer and Anvil” seems to me to be the defacto battle plan for the US Mil but I have never read of it being used lower than at company level.

    In 83 at Pendelton during the NBC exercise Kernel Usher I was attached to a company as the radio man for the FO and our attack on a defended hill was “get on line” charge after our battery’s super awesome barrage. All that was missing was our officers carrying swagger sticks.

    IMO if I had a kid who wanted to go into the service and I couldn’t talk him out of it I would send him to MV’s for a course prior to deployment.

    My guess is that the MC trains you to a certain level then hopes that a few can become the warriors who make the battle while the rest carry the ammo.

    • RobRoySimmons says:

      Sorry to babble on, but speaking of USMC training. In Chris Kyle’s auto bio he mentioned that during the battle for Falujah he gave training on house clearing to the Marines he was attached to during the lulls in the battle.

      Excuse me? You would think the Marines in their prep for such a campaign would have dogged those grunts out doing MOUT training, guess not.

      So in the small chance we have to endure a government gone mad scenario I would assume the illegal government would control the roads out to a distance that a .50 can cover, and what air assets can be brought to bear.

      • Chuck says:

        “So in the small chance we have to endure a government gone mad scenario I would assume the illegal government would control the roads out to a distance that a .50 can cover, and what air assets can be brought to bear.”

        Sounds about right. That’s about all the US .mil actually “owned” in AFG and IRQ (except for the FOBs) unless they were actually standing on it during a major named operation.

        US is a hell of a lot bigger than either of those countries with well over ten times the population. Hell of a lot more roads and cities too!

    • Max Velocity says:

      I’ll volunteer to run all squad/Platoon Leaders through a SUT class….

  14. So glad I’m out of that ever increasing PC environment. It’s a great feeling to be able to forego putting out all the needless, politically correct crap, and just concentrate on teaching what will keep the student alive in that non permissive environment we call Teotwawkistan.

  15. Tee-ought-wok-ee-stan, and no I haven’t, It’s where I tell people we’re goin’ for the Survival Olympics

  16. Diz says:

    It’s very easy to take a “snapshot” based on your experiences and interpolate this as the standard. My experience has been that the quality of Marine and Army infantry units comes and goes over the years, and as Chuck has said, varies in direct relationship to the quality of leadership. Not to defend mass incompetence, it has been there for sure. But I have also met some very competent individuals as well. Comments such as my uncle watched marines fuck up in ‘nam are not really useful (even if they’re true), as one could bring up stories your gunny told you of army incompetence to match. Then you just have a pissing contest. What’s the point. Other than leaders have been fucking up in battle since day one. It’s very easy for us all to sit around our keyboards and criticize; it’s something else to be out in the field, trying to lead men under stressful conditions. All those grand ideas of yours go right out the window when you’re all tired, sick, and hungry, and YOU have to lead the herd into battle.

  17. Mt Top Patriot says:

    Max are you eventually envisioning an alumni weekend where all of your disciples who can gather in a jamboree and conduct company or larger SUT’s?

    Maybe combined with MDT alumni?

    Having various workshops for pertinent skills and studies?

    Kind of a Rogers Rangers jamboree 3 day or longer event?