Beyond Gear: Teamwork & Leadership

Book Recommendation: Company Commander by Major Russell Lewis MC
April 21, 2015
Land Navigation: Reminder
April 23, 2015


I’m going to throw this post together this morning after waking up to some thoughts that I want to put words to. Yesterday I put out the following blog post: ‘Book Recommendation: Company Commander by Major Russell Lewis MC.’ I was looking at this book last night and reflecting on the value of the experiences that are recorded in it. In particular, the lessons on command and leadership.There are many books out there about heroes, and how they needed to be heroes because they were placed in bad situations. That is usually where the requirement for bravery beyond the call of duty comes from: being placed in bad tactical situations. Often, due to a failure of leadership. This book isn’t about that kind of heroism, it has different lessons. It’s not war candy. You can apply many of the lessons from the book across to challenges you may face running a defended retreat location post-collapse.

When I look at the kind of response my articles get, it is overwhelmingly gear that catches people’s attention. Guaranteed: do a post on gear and people are sucking it up. Tactics, not so much. This is a sad reality: that many people can’t get beyond gear. Gear is interesting and important, I love gear, but there is so much that is essential beyond it. But I know, it’s hard, even finding a motivated battle buddy to train with.

If you have followed MVT for a while, you  may have realized that I am not about the gear and tacticool. I am trying to change things for the better. I’m not about being some sort of fee paying membership organization. I am about facilitating motivated armed civilians to become competent at small unit tactics (SUT). Why? Because it will aid your survival, and you should be competent at these things anyway.

One of the takeaways from classes such as Combat Patrol (CP), is the need for leadership at the team and squad level. On the classes, I simulate and provide that leadership. It is vital, it cannot be overstated. Once you get beyond gear and can conduct buddy pair movement, it simply isn’t enough. You need the ability to make tactical decisions.

There are a couple of objectives that I have been pushing recently. MVT is providing training that is unsurpassed in the civilian sector. Just check out this student review by a former USMC infantry officer. Stop thinking that you can never be as good as someone with military training. If you pursue this pastime by taking the right classes, working on your PT and putting time into your training outside of MVT, you can be better. We are giving you the distilled essence of infantry training without the accompanying BS. If you are that guy with prior service, then get YOUR ass to training also, like many others have done. You will benefit from it.

The couple of areas that I have been pushing beyond my usual training classes are:

I’m not doing this to make it exclusive, or take dues off you. This is essentially free information  that you can take and use to implement your tactical team. I am trying to change the prevailing mindset: from people being unfit and useless, and obsessed with paranoid ‘OPSEC’ to the extent that they won’t associate or train with others, to a situation where training is taking place and teams are being formed and trained. I won’t ever know about your team, or what you are doing out there. Please, just do it, and by doing so be prepared to defend hearth and home for when the SHTF.

My recommendation is that you are taking training seriously enough to be at a professional level with a local CUTT team. Tie that in with regional HAM communications and you are establishing a mutual aid network ‘farm net’ to assist each other in a crisis.

I have talked previously about a leadership class. I need to step up and provide that. I am going to start putting this into action. October is likely to be the month when I run the first 3-day CUTT leadership class. This will be a small unit leaders class. This kind of training is absolutely vital once you get beyond gear, PT and basic tactical drills. Comment from students about their awakening to the requirement for leadership, seen at the classes, is most welcome, to illustrate the point.

The MVT Rifleman Challenge has become (for now) an MVT alumni-only event where you need to have attended CTT at least before I can put you onto the tactical ranges. Thus illustrating the need for training. What it does do, however, other than provide a means of motivation for your training, is provide an established standard that you know that person has attained if you end up having to potentially work with them in a crisis. Thus, rather than asking for dues for membership, it gives an identifiable training standard that will work to create trust, That is the idea behind it. If you take that and apply those trained personnel to the CUTT concept, you have the makings of an effective team.

Do you see it now?

So I’m not that guy, that ‘tactical trainer.’ I have a vision to provide professional level training and I have built a facility to allow me to do that better. This tactical journey of learning is really not about ‘cool guy operator shit’ at all. It is about a training progression from individual to team level, and building tactical planning and leadership on top of that. Without leadership, you are just a bunch of guys geared up.

Who is going to plan and lead this when it needs to be done?:

A couple of related comments:

1) I have seen comments from Mosby about ‘tactical trainers’ and his refusal to invest in a training facility, and have a mortgage on one. That is his choice. I think having a facility is vital to provide a better level of training. My trip to Texas shows that you don’t need it, and I get where Mosby is coming from, but the sweat and treasure that my family and I have put into the WV facility is paying off with the level of training we can provide: It keeps getting better and better. And anyway, I don’t have a mortgage on it. That doesn’t mean there has not been considerable and ongoing investment into it (And thus business risk), but working for five years as a paramilitary contractor allowed me to gather a chest of pirate gold that I could exchange for the land.

2) I have seen several instances where students that have trained at MVT have subsequently advertised themselves as instructors teaching topics that are obviously straight off an MVT class. Often, for regional or national level dues paying organizations, or otherwise as part of free training branching off a website-that-shall-not -be-named. I have a couple of thoughts on this:

  • It would nice to be credited for providing the training, drills and SOPs that are taught.
  • Some of these guys should not be instructing, and otherwise did not get enough exposure to MVT training,to really be effectively passing on the knowledge.
  • When I see the curriculum, with a lot of information crammed into a couple of hours , and statements such as ‘Contact drills bolts out’ I question the utility of this training.
  • I know that many want to send an individual to MVT training in order to go back and train the group. I know from first hand comment that this often does not work. In most cases, people need the professional training first hand. If you can’t all come to WV, talk to me about putting on a class in your region.

UPDATE: my comments on dues paying organizations are not aimed at the III% Society, to be clear. Rather, at other, more ‘exclusive’ organizations(s).



  1. Leatherneck556 says:

    Bravo, Max. I really like the way you are taking this. I also want to take a minute to make a comment with regards to the CUTT concept for anybody who may be a little intimidated by it:

    Understand that the 16-man CUTT provides the framework for leading ANY size tactical unit. When you are in charge of a 3 distinct maneuver elements plus a “weapon” that you have in your “back pocket” (the MSG in the CUTT concept), then things don’t really change just because you scale them up or down. If you become proficient at the theory and practice of leading 3×4-man teams with an HQ element, then you have the capability to be proficient at leading 3×13-man squads or 3×40-man platoons or 3×125-man companies. The logistics and moving parts get more complicated, yes, but the basic concepts for maneuver (Assault-Support-Security/Reserve) remain the same.

    The opposite is also true. Only have 10 guys? Well think about it – you could do whatever suits the mission: 2×5-man teams, 2×4-man teams with a 2-man HQ element, 3×3-man teams with a CUTT leader, etc. Start small – start with your buddy pair. Then move to a 3- or 4-man team. As you get more people, figure out how you will task organize, and then just keep building and adapting. Read and study. I learned a LOT about SUT from my training and combat, but believe it or not, I have probably picked up more golden nuggets from reading Max and Mosby since leaving the Corps than I got while I was in.

    Leadership is not SUT. Leadership is leadership. But leading a team in SUT definitely requires a solid grasp of SUT, so you need both.

  2. robroysimmons says:

    That is pretty weak of those guys doing the advertising without at the very least bare minimum of acknowledgement. Their “students” should be made aware of that, because it sounds like they are getting ripped off by those dudes.

  3. Diz says:

    I am the world’s biggest gear queer. In fact I design the shit for a living. Max does not pull punches. Most guys are all about looking cool at the range with all the latest gear. I’ve done it too. But at least I acknowledge it, and am working hard to change that.

    Leadership mean first training yourself up to standard. Then learning how to teach it. Then going out and doing it.

    When I first checked into recon, I remember a Lieutenant who was field-daying the shit out of his room. I mean everything out in the hall and waxing down the floor. I asked what was up, bed bugs or something? He chuckled and said no, he was conducting a barracks inspection the next day. I always remembered that. Seems small, sure, but the point being you clean your own “house” first before you expect someone else to do it.

    Mosby is Mosby. I think his template is “jumping in” to the AO and conducting training with the local tribes. Having the “G’s” come to him is an alien concept. Besides I think he’s a nomad. He wouldn’t stay in one place and teach if you gave him the land.

    As for the ersatz instructors. I have said in the past any good NCO can teach this stuff, which is true, but then again, there are teachers, and then there are teachers. If all you have access to is a veteran, or MVT student, then you make do with what you have. However, if you truly want to learn this stuff, you should make the effort to train with someone that is really good at it. And these “student-teachers” should perhaps master the material before attempting to teach it to others.

  4. JeffSags says:

    Think of the gear articles as a “necessary evil.” Gear drives more traffic to the site. They come for the gear, but stay for the tactics!

    The only thing I know about tactics is what Ive learned from your books and classes. I don’t comment simply because I don’t think I have anything of value to add. I am soaking up all of the information like a sponge though!

  5. Mike H says:

    Good post Max. Part of the “gear obsession” is the “internal laziness” that has been inserted in the “American gene makeup changes” over the decades. Haven’t been active in the Appleseed Program for over a year and one reason is this. Most Americans(even on the political right) are downright lazy(both physically and mentally). Fuck first It was “had to provide a rifle, then get them some ammo, then Hey is lunch provided?” just to get people to attend. Then it was they wanted all kinds of shooting assistance…bipods, chairs, etc. to shoot off. Break into telling the story of April 19th at Lexington & Concord(the whole reason for the event) and everyone is sleeping, on their cell phone, or talking among themselves.

    Your reply to leatherneck’s query about an assault type pack is an example. I researched the Snugpak model you referred to…but after browsing for a bit I thought better to run CP class with what I have together now and use those funds for a deposit on my next class in WV. So there even I can get sucked into the “gotta get some gear” wormhole. Sure I have that chest rig Diz has been working on on my wish list…but lets get CP outta the way and then even a CTT or that leadership class you are planning later.

    Some of Mosby’s decision not to build a facility is that he was having trouble(as you have had) getting people to firm up and put their money down for classes. Last summer he planned a patrol class in Neb and he had to refund my money. I’ve actually have had more classes cancelled that I’ve signed up for then been able to attend.

    As far as people attending training and then becoming “tactical trainers” I personally would never past myself off as that. I try and help people but I do it for the good of the AO not for profit.

    I would hope the poachers out there that grab all the “free cheese” offered here (and it’s real good free cheese) would at least donate to the forum occasionally or buy some books.

    Rant off…see you in May.

  6. Alex says:

    Buying gear is easier than doing roadwork.

    I’m a carpenter by trade. And when I got started I collected tools like a motherfucker , the better I get at it the less tools (gear) I need to do my job well. – caveat : crap tools are a no-no.

    I suspect there are many people in my position : I feel like I’ve basically maxed out the square range, other than maintenance. I’ve read Max’s books. I have like minded friends who’ve read Max’s books. We’ve got enough intelligence to know we need pro training , but we are geographically/financially challenged.

    It is my hope and suggestion , unasked for , that Max seriously considers deputizing some Pro grade Alumni to spread out to instruct with official MVT training.

    Besides the distance ( travel time equals lost wages ) the cross state border threats of traveling with guns and ammo ( legal here , legal there – hostiles in between ) are a goddamn nightmare.

    We’ll sort it out , eventually.

    • Max Velocity says:

      1) I have people traveling from Texas, California, Florida, Alaska etc to take advantage of the WV facility.

      2) I have put on a class in Texas. That was a 5 day CTT/mobility class. If you want training local to you, talk to me about it. In fact, if it involves vehicles a location other than WV is preferable.

    • StarvinLarry says:

      “caveat : crap tools are a no-no.”

      There’s exceptions to that-for example-I got tired of people dropping metal bodied saws that I paid well over $100.00 for from the second floor,or off the roof as we were framing houses-since I provided tools to the crew-they got $40.00 Skil plastic bodied saws-those will take a few bounces and still cut 2×4’s straight/square-why keep buying Milwaukee/Makita/DeWalt saws that just get broken?
      Best framing carpenter I ever worked for or with wore a cloth nail apron,and clipped his tape to his front pants pocket,never saw the guy use anything but an old Makita circular saw-no miter saw,no table saw on the job.

      Like you said-not all tools/gear are essential.
      Training is more important than gear-all you need is a basic gear set-up-better to spend the $$ on training before you start a buying a bunch of gear that you later learn you do not really need.

      OK,enough about work stuff-as long as your guns and ammo are locked up so that you can not get to them from inside the vehicle-you should be ok-with the possible exception of N.J. Look up each state’s gun laws online-as long as you’re just traveling through,you shouldn’t have any problems-I’ve hunted all over the U.S. and Canada-drove to the destination sometimes,flew other times-never had a problem,other than baggage handlers for United airlines running over a rifle with a forklift-the effin’ morons broke a scope that cost close to $1,500.00.

      “It is my hope and suggestion , unasked for , that Max seriously considers deputizing some Pro grade Alumni to spread out to instruct with official MVT training.”

      I second that one.

  7. Mike H says:

    I’ll second what Larry stated. I traveled to WV last year and heading there next month. Lock your stuff up separately and throw a bunch of crap on top of it. Hang some business shirts/ties in your window and don’t stop in any “hostile” areas….no strip clubs around Chicago…..I travel thru 8 states plus the totally fucked up turf known as Chicago(sorry guys that live there) to get to Max’s place. Stay in the cheap hotels if ya gotta stop and you can camp once you get there. Eat spam and tuna all week if you have to. But get to training….never so important as now.

  8. Larry says:

    Max, I find your TTP. Articles much more interesting than gear/kit articles. The professional presentation without the .mil B.S. is a great recipe for the novice and alike. Being the latter I would be interested in more advanced and in depth TTP. Including video with voice over tutorials,instead of music.

    I really liked your satellite patrolling CUTT ideas.
    In the future I promise to comment on your TTP. Articles.

  9. Riot says:

    Let me understand this.

    If I come to WV and learn the skills from MVT, I shouldn’t go back home and teach my team what I’ve learned?

    I understand that the best training is best taught by the best teachers but don’t you think the training should be shared with my teammates, or is MVT the only one that is capable of teaching this at a static location?

    When I share it and teach it, I may not be able to immolate it exactly, but the basics can be replicated, can they not?

    What you offer at MVT is excellent, and vital to the exciting days ahead, but what Mosby is offering is also valuable in that not all of us will be operating in an AO such as WV. We may be in the open prairie, desert southwest, or mountain ranges of the northwest, and Mosby offers to come to us, and train us in our AO.

    All of you that have stepped up and offered professional SUT training to civilians are valuable to the cause, I just hope we don’t eat our young in the process.

    • Max Velocity says:

      Hmmm. Is this deliberately obtuse, or not? Either way, it exhibits some common misunderstandings.

      1) Its not that you shouldn’t, or won’t, share your training with teammates. It’s whether you can, effectively. Just this last 6 day class, a two time attendee form Texas commented that he had tried with his group, and it simply didn’t work. A mixture of his ability to teach, egos, disruptions and the like. So you may get better results having more of your group trained at source. You can tell me that is more expensive, but I will tell you it is about the results you want, and some quote about paying peanuts and getting monkeys….

      2) I have various groups of Alumni constantly emailing me with questions and clarification as they move on with their training, together as group. They return sporadically. Its not that I wont help people, or discourage training as a group. In fact, I encourage it, as per my comments on training as a CUTT, but SUT is not as simple as a 3 day class and plug and play…..and if others have not trained at MVT, they may not fully understand the ‘why’ which ;leads to problems of ego and understanding.

      3) Basics my or may not be transferable depending on your skill as a teacher and the character of your trainees. If they are nto really convinced by you, they may argue the pit based on youtube and the internet…..

      4) Why the Max/Mosby comparison? I have stated that I will come to you and train you if you like, such as with Texas. What this misses is that the training in WV, although held in WV, doe snot make it solely suitable for WV. What I am teaching is applicable in all locations. All that may change is spacing and what you are using for cover. The basic principle so what is being taught does not change. My CTT class in Texas is the same as my CTT class in WV, the terrain is juts a little different. This is a common misunderstanding that you may not grasp until you have actually attended training.

  10. FormerSapper says:

    In my opinion, without expanding your wetware and educating yourself by reading, watching and attending lessons all the gear in the world is meaningless.

    For example I could give all of your nice kit to some sub-standard African conscript and would it make him a better soldier? Fuck no it wouldn’t. Do read the theories behind leadership, fieldcraft and infantry tactics. Do read things that will aid you in civil affairs and in arguing politics with people who are minded enough to listen to you.

    Certainly in the British Army NCOs have to go through various training courses not only to lead their section/platoon and so on in battle but to also qualify them to train those below them effectively.

    Just my opinion of course.

    • FormerSapper says:

      As an addendum to the above, reading and watching are not adequete replacements for hands on practical training. You absolutely must attend training if you either wish to learn something new or keep your particular spear point sharp and fresh. Shooting, tactics and so on are ever evolving and are genuinely perishable skills in my opinion.

  11. shooter says:

    A fellow MVT alumnus and I got together a couple of weeks ago to run some simple 2-man drills. This was different terrain, was only 6 weeks or so after the MVT class, with 2 guys who were battle buddies for 5 days of training under Max’s watchful eye… We kinda sucked.

    Also, I have tried to bring another guy up to speed, and found that a bunch of my assumptions about what he already knew were incorrect. Had to start at square one, just like Max does on Day 1 of CTT.

    The point is that though the concepts are fairly simple, they are not easy to teach, and they don’t seamlessly translate into different terrain with the basic intro to the concepts you get with just a few days training. Max is truly a master at conducting this training and evaluating the terrain, and the individual students, so that he can give them what they need and what they can absorb.

    All this doesn’t mean that it’s a BAD idea to try to pass along info to people who are unable (or unwilling) to attend the actual classes. But it’s important to understand that it’s not an apples to apples comparison. If you want professional training, you have to get it from a professional.

  12. JeffSags says:

    Here’s something else I wanted to add to the discussion and its something I think even the alumni take for granted.

    Straight from Max’s “Training Cadre” page:

    “Part of the small arms training at PCBC involves qualifying to ‘Stage 5 Field Firing’ which allows you to plan and conduct ranges all the way up to full field firing exercises. That is how Max knows how to create and run realistic but safe live firing ranges for small unit tactics.

    Following his initial stint as a rifle platoon commander, Max was selected to be a training platoon commander at the Parachute Regiment training company (Para Company). he spent two years doing that; taking Parachute Regiment candidates through the 22 week long course…

    …It was Max’s responsibility to plan and conduct every single field exercise and the ranges, from basic marksmanship up to full field firing.”

    Personally, this is why I feel VERY safe attending class after class and I know the level of instruction I am receiving is second to none. Max is not just a “guy that was in the military.” I am not knocking any other intstructor, just saying Max and his facility are kind of a “diamond in the rough.”

    Also, if some students are able to take some nuggets of wisdom back to their group, great! Maybe it saves your life one day. But if anyone charges money to teach a class based on Max’s curriculum that is unethical and down right dangerous.

  13. Brian from Georgia says:

    Any plans to run the leadership class again in early 2016?

    • Max Velocity says:

      Maybe I’ll do 2 a year like the RC? I’ll see if anyone shows up first. I may be working in McDs by then….;-)