Tactical Clearance: An Alternative CQB Technique

Student Review: Combat Team Tactics (CTT) 12-14 Dec 2014: Matt
December 23, 2014
VIDEO: ‘How to be Tacticool’
December 23, 2014

For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you will know that I have big issues with the way CQB is taught and conducted. Traditional dynamic entry/immediate entry style CQB clearance methods show obvious tactical disadvantages against prepared or barricaded defenders. What is needed is a shift in thinking and training in the way CQB is conducted, with the priority becoming gaining an immediate tactical advantage, leading to greater survivability. The traditional ‘SWAT style’ dynamic room entry and clearance technique is already old hat. It has been replaced at the top end  with better ‘combat clearance’ and ‘fighting from the door-style’ techniques.  This article is not going to be about what is wrong with the traditional dynamic entry technique. However, in summary:

Dynamic  entry techniques rely on Speed, Surprise and Violence of action. When breaching into rooms and flooding the room with a team, you rely on somehow getting the drop on the enemy inside – either that or you are in fact entering a low risk environment. When it is a high risk environment with a prepared or barricaded enemy, you may not have the element of surprise – this is particularly applicable to further clearance after first making entry. The whole action of entering, sweeping for threats, cornering and running the walls leaves you extremely vulnerable. The way this is properly done in a high intensity environment (think war) is that the target building will be reduced by firepower before entry. If that cannot be done, shock will be achieved on entry by the use of fragmentation, concussion or flashbang types of grenades. The type will depend on the threat, the assessed presence of civilians or hostages, and the rules of engagement. Once you get away from high intensity clearance, you are beginning to assume more and more risk with each entry. If you cannot shock the room on entry, then there is not much to stop the enemy inside engaging you as you flood into the room.

Essentially, dynamic entry is designed for high intensity environments and when not used in such, it is not a sensible methodology, unless you are only dealing with low risk situations. Think SWAT, where they will avoid entry if there is a real threat inside, such as a barricaded enemy, and try to negotiate. Yes, current active shooter protocol is to go straight in, but that is not normally a barricaded threat situation, but one of a mobile shooter who needs to be taken down immediately.

As civilians if you are ever forced to conduct CQB, then you will not have the grenade type shock devices in order to gain that surprise as you enter. You don’t have remote robot cameras in order to see the enemy and gain a tactical advantage.  If you try dynamic entry, you will be running into the muzzle of anyone in the room. This methodology is taught across the country at ‘tacticoolaid’ schools. It is teaching people what they want to know because it’s the ‘cool guy’ stuff and everyone and their fan boy wants to know it. They all want to stack up on the door and flood the room. It’s exciting, right?

On the other hand, tactical clearance allows flexibility with the situation at hand and encourages tactically adaptive behavior. It also, in fact, is a phenomenon that happens naturally, when there are active enemy shooters inside a breach and dynamic is not going to work.


Read the rest on the MVT Forum:  Forums Tactics & Leadership CQB and Urban – Citizen Close Combat (C3)



  1. […] And don’t forget the serious blog article: Tactical Clearance: An Alternative CQB Technique […]

  2. Thomas says:

    Good stuff, Max.

    This type of fighting is logistics intensive and we tend to not discuss the log aspect of tactical clearance.

  3. Mike Quadros says:

    Knowing the construction of 95% or all interior walls, whether residential or commercial construction, in the CONUS are made up of metal or wood studs with 1/2 inch drywall on each side; how do you prevent being shot through the walls when your team is at or around the door?

    • Max Velocity says:

      That ties in with the fatal funnel fallacy. None of it is cover.
      Remember to place this in the context of time, space and tactical surprise. Once you approach the doorway, or open the door, you are immediately and rapidly engaging threats. See the bottom video for an idea of timescale.
      No one is saying it’s not dangerous, but it’s better than dynamic entry without appropriate breaching/shocking tools. You are more exposed, for longer, when entering and running the walls as per classic teaching. Not to mention flanks and alternate doors etc.

      Added: like all these things, it cannot be done without training. You can’t read this and then say “great, I’ll just fight from the door.” All these TTP’s require training and repetition.

      • Steve Suchocki says:

        Max. One point when you talk about the “fatal funnel fallacy” rember that most bad guy dint shoot through walls. They wait until they see you in the doorway. Also most schools have brick walls that tend to stop most handgun ammo

  4. WiseCaveOwl says:

    given my situation, I tend to look at all this from the receiving end. Most interesting. Evidently I have some changes to make in the indoor battlespace

    • pdxr13 says:

      WCO: “…from the receiving end.”

      Loud and clear. I’m not going where not invited, and doing my best to make my “safe” places uninviting to hostile entry. Mostly, low-profile in-public (looking healthy working poor) and non-association with the police/gangs/drug-liquor-gambling-prostitution underworld makes life insurance policies less needful.

      Consider an older (~1905) apartment building of 8 stories with windowless long halls with right angles and ~30-50′ of apartment thickness on either side. No plans available, nor would they be accurate with 110 years of maintenance. Only the old janitor knows 90% of everything. Lots of masonry on lower levels and exterior. Lots of keyed tight-fit man-sized access panels here & there to get to air shafts, plumbing, steam, gas, electrical utilities mostly on roof or in basement. Unknown basement layout or tunnel access. Reasonably secured by janitorial staff against 10 year old boys without tools.

      Would you send a 4-man team in there against hostile unknowns and a bunch of unassociated women & children with video cameras? He11 no!

      What if the targets are familiar with CQB as practiced by tacticoolio shooting skools, recruited an unhappy ex-SWAT policeman (Dorner…?) or have been trained by a soldier who made it through AIT as an MP? A police commander MUST assume that the target has knowledge of Tactics Techniques and Procedures used by entry teams, and will deploy countermeasures.

      If I were to be thinking about countermeasures, I would say “think in 3 dimensions” for offense and “buy time” for defense/escape.

      Consider how Europeans built castles for defense: CQB is at the range of short swords/crossbows/pikes, and the man-movement is identical (knights in armor on-foot heavy and slower, Squires/Archers/Men lighter-faster). The difference of then to now is small-light-powerful explosives for shock/breaching/traps and how traps were initiated. Old-time sensor was a man or a string, now it’s a camera, IR beam, pressure-plate, microphone, rf scanner, heat sensor, or switch (perhaps, also a string).

      Pre-explosive-era traps were still plenty effective (imho, not as killers, but as delay & demoralizing). Fake traps are almost as effective as real traps, esp. when mixed with real traps.

      War games with innovative players are the think tanks for war that speculative fiction is for societies encountering the unknown. It’s always about the people, and how the people respond to the new situation.

      Do leaders cram the new situation into an old box and label it “old situation to be responded to with old response #3” or recognize that the situation requires something different than issuing ultimatum and sending the Fleet Marines backed by Heavies in Mobile Infantry suits. Does the opposition have unstoppable weapons that can jam operations/targeting while peasants build fires around the immobilized super-high-tech weapons? I mean Islam and occupation of thoughts, of course.

      Cheers & Merry Christmas from Portlandia, where a Street Fee is really a City Income Tax.

      • Max Velocity says:

        Note to all: this post is about Tactical Clearing and better CQB techniques. I will not allow it to be turned off topic into a discourse about CQB defense.

        That being said, there have been questions/comments here and on the forum version of this post about defense against these sort of tactics. I will say this briefly:

        If you knew they were coming, you would not be there. Simple. If they catch you there, then you probably got taken by surprise, otherwise logic says you would have bugged out. If you get trapped the best you can hope for is delaying entry to allow you to try and get your shit together. Then you get burned to death. You effectively become that barricaded enemy and have to be winkled out. Have an exit plan!

        There are strategies for defense in urban fighting. I cover this in both ‘Contact‘ and ‘Patriot Dawn.‘ Mostly you are better off with a mobile defense withdrawing while causing attraction to the enemy. If you fight back to and are caught/trapped in your strongpoints, you will eventually die. Think Alamo.

        Tactics for surviving room entry in defense include building bunkers/inner walls within the rooms, even coffin like sandbagged areas, within which you wait until the grenade comes in. It goes off and they rush into the room, at which point you pop up/out and let them have it. If you have grenades of your own, you will roll one out so that as they run in, it goes off. You will still die in there in the end, unless you have a series of mouseholes to get out of the building. Sewers.

        So taking that back to a raid, the best thing you could do against a surprise raid is to harden the entry points to delay them and give you early warning, then have some sort of protected area to get into. When they eventually flow into the house you are protected and able to return fire. But unless you have QRF coming, or can get out, you will still die in the end. Don’t be there, if you can. If they knew this about you, they would just take you in your car on your way to work. Job done.

        Urban Fighting is manpower intensive on both sides. Lots of casualties.

        If you want to discuss CQB defense, start another thread in the forum for it. Thanks.

        • pdxr13 says:

          Thanks for the response!
          My point is that measures always generate countermeasures, leading to new tactics, and back and forth. Both sides, both ways.

          I always remember RAH quote on atomic bombs: “…don’t be there when it goes off.”

          The book Contact! and these pages are a real service to those of us who spent careers in back shops making sure A-10’s & F-16’s flew straight while keeping snack bar treats properly turned-over for freshness.

  5. […] Tactical Clearance: An Alternative CQB Technique […]

  6. SP says:

    The first and second slides reminds me of when my company spent 6 weeks in Washington State, and conducting a 48 hour live firing exercise in a really cool full sized WW1 styled trench system with bunkers and pillboxes. Complete with an American SF crew sweeping rounds about 2 feet above our heads as we crawled on our belt buckles under barb wire and up to the trenches itself.

    The trench system was only about 50m wide by 40m/50m depth, but by God did it take a while for the whole company to clear through it. Every single corner/bunker and pillbox was first cleared with HE grenades (you remember the ones where you had to screw your own fuse assembly into?). Grenadier would be at the corner, lob the grenade in, followed by the chap behind him peeling round and dropping to his belt buckle at the corner on full auto, with the grenadier then stepping out from said corner to place his foot on the other chaps back and himself then going full auto. Because both chaps were on the corner covering the route forward, then 2 man team behind them would then peel round them to the next corner/junction to carry out the same process.

    Thats another thing about true CQB and FIBUA based warfare – manpower. If you haven’t got the numbers (2 men mught be defending a building but you’ll always need far more than that to take them out), then you’ve pretty much lost before you’ve started.

  7. perioikoi says:

    An alternative when lacking explosives is the use of fire. Time permitting, just burn/smoke the enemy out.

  8. pdxr13 says:

    first video, trainer say “you’re getting channeled”, which in any realistic scenario against an even partially-prepared opfor should be followed up with shouts for a medic. HESCO barriers are awesome.

    Yep. That’s what all that body armor is for. yeah, right. MOUT chews up soldiers. ’nuff said.

    second video: white pants! “Born to be wild” bad-rock soundtrack for training cannon-fodder.

    MV has wide-open potential to improve the clown antics that do and will get innocents and not-so-innocent-uniforms hert-n-kilt, but it’s not at the angle of attack, but rather to do at all. Good commanders bypass a chance to fight and win at high cost, regularly.

  9. John Lee Pettimore III says:

    Another excellent post Max. I would add that knowing the materials that make up the inner walls has a significant effect on room clearing tactics.

    In Iraq, Hadji who expected that a safe house may be raided at some point would harden the interiors by drilling 3-4″ murder holes in a wall opposite a doorway. When Marines would move into the room, they would get hosed with AK fire through this little hole coming from the other room, and 5.56 didn’t do much to penetrate such walls. If Hadji knew what he was doing, he was never in the room you were clearing, he was in the next room over…

    Limited penetration tactics developed out of need and at the cost of numerous casualties. It was the only way to counter the “murder holes”.

    Some bastards would even do the same at the end of a long hallway with a PKM. Sections of chicken wire would be stapled at intermittent points in the middle of the hallway to stop hand munitions and 40mm from getting to the PKM. If you weren’t using limited penetration, be prepared to lose a whole squad in 10 seconds down that hallway.

    On a side note, 2010 was pretty ominous when we seemingly changed training to account for walls that 5.56 could easily penetrate. Bad, bad omen…

  10. […] you haven’t already read my post ‘Tactical Clearance: An Alternative CQB Technique‘ then  you should do as background to this post. I ran a FaceBook campaign to get that post […]

  11. Grenadier1 says:

    So why buttonhook in a centerfed room when entering from both sides of the door? WHy buttonhook from a corner fed room when you have guys on both sides of the door?

    It sould seem to me that a crisscross entry would be better in those situations, for example slide 7 having the number 2 man who is on the rightside of the door cross over and enter to cover the nearside corner. Number 1 man then crosses over to cover the far corners. That may be more of a dynamic technique but you should be able to cross over and keep penetration into the room limited while clearing the doorway and covering the room.

    Not knocking this BTW I am very interested in the ideas since I just took a CQB course.

    • Max Velocity says:

      I’m not trying to set things in stone. Go out and experiment. You’re already at a disadvantage because you just took a ‘CQB’ class – good luck unfucking your training scars 😉

      However: criss cross delays the second guy for longer than a swift button hook around the door frame – remember this is not a dynamic entry running button hook. The button hook will allow either simultaneous or rapidly consecutive entry – to avoid the near corner threatening the back of either guy.

      Also, criss cross means the second guy has to drop his weapon because the other guy is crossing in front of him, thus providing even less coverage I to the room.

      Hence button hook, and simultaneous if you are slim enough…..

      • Grenadier1 says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        I think the class I just completed was very much in line with what you are taling about here. I used CQB as an expediant. It was really geared more toward “fighting in a building” and not the SWAT style dynamic entry.

  12. Max Velocity says:

    In Facebook Comments:

    Timothy Wittmer: I noticed you referenced in a later thread the AAR written by Sgt. Catagnus with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines after the battle for Fallujah. I was also in 3/5 L at that time as a casualty replacement and served during the battle. I found that it took precisely 1 day and 1 casualty for our entire “CQB” or “MOUT” doctrine to completely change in to something similar to what you’re advocating. Although I would disagree slightly with some of the movements you are teaching for individual room clearance, the overall principle remains the same. Move only so fast as you can identify a threat and accurately engage it. An enemy barricaded inside a room waiting for you should get only a partial view of part of your shoulder, arm, head and muzzle (flash) as your 1 man makes entry. I’ll link a copy of the AAR- http://www.blackfive.net/main/2005/03/showdown_the_ba.html


    Techniques that individual Marines need to be taught and practiced are the following:

    1. Pieing off all danger areas. Even before entry into a room as many danger areas as possible should be pied off leaving only one or two corners that need to be cleared. Don’t blindly rush into a room, especially if the door is opened.

  13. vxxc2014 says:

    “As civilians if you are ever forced to conduct CQB”

    Then discover man’s first tool, FIRE.

    Worked fine at Waco, many other places.

    • praharin says:

      First, man’s first tool was likely a rock. I, for one, wouldn’t want to clear rooms of potential hostile forces with a rock.

      Second, saying the fire “worked fine at Waco” is disgusting. Being so careless with human life not okay. Maybe you’re being facetious or sarcastic or something. Fire is not, or at least should not be, a CQB tool. Ever. Don’t lower yourself to that level.

  14. Brazilian Police says:

    Great post!

    In my unit work with emphasis on pre-entry and limited penetration techniques. Basically we fight outside until the threat is controlled or neutralized. We conduct about 90 operations to comply with high-risk arrest warrants and warrant officer safety first. In Brazil are the ones who did not use the classic method of CQB, we use a system that dubbed the “Deliberate Systematics,” entirely based on the videos we see the company “Hight Threat”. The following is a video of my team performing CQB and fighting outside:http://globotv.globo.com/rede-globo/bom-dia-brasil/v/policiais-e-oficiais-do-exercito-fazem-treinamento-de-seguranca-para-a-copa-do-mundo/3259737/


  15. […] some basic walk-through / explanation of Tactical Clearance, you may find this post useful: ‘Tactical Clearance: An Alternative CQB Technique.‘ Lee Sends: Scanning and Cover/Concealment: During the inaugural Citizen Close Combat […]