‘Joe’s Armed Gang’ -OR- ‘It’s about the TRAINING, Duh!’

September Classes
August 31, 2015
MVT CADRE Sends: Timeless warfare wisdom of the Rangers: by Lee
September 1, 2015

Throughout the course of last week I watched a few events unfold with amazement. We had:

  • Posted on the MVT forum for comment, some blog posts from ‘veteran’ websites. The point of interest was that these bloggers, retired military, were abusively dismissive of any attempts by civilians to tactically train, apparently because if you never served in the military how can you possibly know anything about Small Unit Tactics (SUT)? By way of comment, there is an alarming trend among former military to reflect the entitlement mindset, and also to be ‘offended’ by everything. I see a lot of ‘butthurt’ veterans who reflect this entitlement mindset and who are desperately seeking greater recognition for having served. Also, some of these veteran themed blogs put out some very poor information, mainly because the writers are not the experts in the field that they purport to be. That, however, is not the main point of the post. Moving on.
  • Then, mainly centered on a post by SFC Barry at WRSA but spilling over to, and possibly caused /fueled by, some other blogs, we had another internecine bitch fest. It seems started by the usual suspects with the usual aim of attacking those who wish to promote / develop tactical training in the civilian community. The main thrust of the prime offending article, by SFC Barry, was that only military can be effective at tactics, and that any civilians who attempt any training and organization are fools and nothing more than ‘Joe’s Armed Gang.’

There was of course, a kernel of truth (like that?) in the points about the ‘militia.’ We have all seen the shows on the Discovery Channel.  The ‘militia’ is in itself a problematic term and as such I prefer to not use it. You can tell me that is a wrong approach, and that it is a historical term, but it has been polluted. Not only by the media, but also in too many cases by the actions and poor PR of the actual ‘militias’ themselves. This is not said to hate on the ‘militias’ themselves, but if the cap fits, wear it, and it simply reflects much of the reality. If you are an un-publicized squared away militia out there, then good on you and keep going. It is however true that many of the groups that were termed ‘Joe’s Armed Gang’ reflect poorly; modern voluntary ‘militias’ are also not the same thing as historical militias, which were official State units. So perhaps ‘militia’ is simply not the right word to use? But either way, whatever word you use, it is the professionalism, or lack of it, that you display that is important.

If your militia is overweight, unfit, poorly trained and consists of three heavyweights led by a ‘Colonel’ who looks like the Michelin Man, then it is very easy for not only the general public, but also the professional military, to get their hate on. Or disdain. You are your own worst enemy.

But on the other hand, it is simply not good enough for military to show blanket disdain of civilians engaged in serious tactical self defense training as teams. (I use the term Citizen Unconventional Tactical Teams, or CUTT). Why?:

  • The vast majority of former military were never in units that prized skill, or trained it to a high level, in SUT. Even in some of the more premier units, it varies from individual to individual. Just because Billy is in Ranger Regiment, doesn’t mean he is that high speed. Maybe he is good at being a  SAW gunner, and doesn’t know much more than that, at a junior level?
  • Experiences on deployment / what unit you were in / what training you had and how good it was   may not reflect the best use or experience in SUT. ‘Survivor bias’ plays a part.
  • If Billy stayed in and left at senior NCO level, he may or may not have a good understanding of SUT. It just depends who he is and what he did in his career. Part of the problem with today’s military is that it is a vast bureaucracy and there is a whole lot to take up the time of senior NCOs and Officers that has no reflection on real martial skills. In fact it is a training and readiness distraction.
  • The final factor with senior NCO Billy is that he is now retired. This is where the professional soldier has to make the step to ‘warrior.’ I always found the term warrior a little cheesy, but I know Lee approves, and you understand the point I am trying to make (citizen soldier?). While he served, was he really a warrior, or just a career minded bureaucrat? Now he is retired, is he keeping the fires burning and maintaining his personal training and readiness?  In fact, veterans are the worst ones to try and get to training, because in many cases they think they know it all, because they were shot at in Iraq or whatever. They often need a whole lot of training, or at the very least, continuity training.

As a means to demonstrate my point, take a look at the video below. To the uninitiated, this is a ‘hero’ doing his thing in Afghanistan. However, even as a trained member of a combat arms unit, this guy has no weapon manipulation skills at all. He is also a liability, if you read the description from the guy himself:

“I got a hit a total of 4 times. My helmet cam died and I made it down the mountain on my own. I was also hit in the side of my helmet and my eye pro was shot off of my face. We were doing overwatch on the village to recon and gather intel. I was point heading down the face of the hill with the LT. when we got hit. The rest of the squad was pinned down by machine gun fire. I didn’t start the video until a few mins into the firefight for obvious reasons. I came out into the open to draw fire so my squad could get to safety.”

I wasn’t there, but he was suppressing nothing with his wild fire. If his squad was in overwatch, they were likely near the crest / on it. But they had started moving down the forward slope? They then came under contact. What happened to fire control orders and break contact back over the crest? Acting as an individual and getting hit stuck out on the forward slope, now calling for help, will only put the rest of his team in more danger, having to move out there to recover him. Luckily he survived, and we have another case of poorly trained survivor bias:

I know it may appear harsh, but just because you were in the military and deployed, doesn’t make you better than a civilian.

The majority of the problem is training and fitness. Most people won’t train. Even if they like to comment on blogs, and are worried by the potential for economic collapse, they don’t train. The level of ‘unconscious incompetence’ out there is staggering. That is why you:

  • Have people who don’t think they need training. These are the same as those who think they can read an article, or watch a  video, and assimilate the ability to do it for real. Ask any MVT Alumnus: ‘shoot, move and communicate’ is not as easy in reality as it is on the internet. There will be a lot of accidents when people are killed by friendly fire.
  • Have people who won’t show for training for fear of their ‘ego bubble’ being burst.

It is a sad fact that in our society there are far too many loud mouthed obnoxious opinionated gut buckets. The majority of these are in the ‘unconscious incompetence’ phase. Those who fear the ego bubble are those who do know what they don’t know, and are at a level of ‘conscious incompetence.’ Come and train at MVT, we do not belittle students, and better to  learn it right at MVT than kill a family member, or fail to prevent  your family getting killed, when it happens for real.

However, ego is a major fail factor in our society, people live in constructed realities, legends in their own lunch break, and I have said it before, ego is one of the main impediments to effective training. MVT is an ego free zone, and if you can wake up and gather sufficient humility to actually come to training, that is the best thing for you. If you can’t we can do nothing for you.

If you make the decision to make yourself more tactically able, we have fitness training programs, training courses, all that that you can take advantage of.

Regarding the ‘militia’; thing, I was looking at my FaceBook feed a while back and I came across a video that a ‘State Militia’ had posted. It was of a training session, dry, in react to contact drills. It was fairly terrible absolute basic level training. But we all have to start somewhere, right? The issue as it appeared to me was that in comments, there were a whole bunch of offers to train these guys up, from combat vets, I even put a link up to MVT Training. It was all refused, mainly with the reason that ‘they were doing something.’

This ‘at least we are doing something’ thing has to stop. Why? Because it simply isn’t good enough. It is nothing more than a ‘no child left behind’ mindset. Perhaps accepting training from a combat vet (I have no idea how good that training might have been – see my point on combat vets above) would threaten the position of the group leaders, or at least would be perceived to be a threat? However, here is the main point:

Whining that you are ‘at least training’ and ‘doing your best’ when in fact you are not is going to result in a much higher chance of you being wiped out. Because, at the end of the day, this isn’t school sports. The enemy does not care. In fact the enemy will be happy that you ‘did as best you could’ but didn’t actually do any effective training, because he wants to kill you. He will take advantage of your weakness and keep pumping rounds into you until you stop moving, and then some more to make sure.

This is where the issue of ego in ‘militia’ groups, and fear of being tested and shown up, really leads to a dangerous place. If leaders of such groups are dumbing down training, and not seeking good training due to such attitudes, they are really doing a lethal disservice to their people. But of course, many such groups are more about ego and fake rank badges than actually being effective…..

It was my desire to raise training standards across the civilian tactical community that led me to create the MVT Rifleman Challenge. However, such standards have remained at MVT, and not yet spread as I wish they would, again due to the actions of the ‘usual suspects’ who are behind this attack on training in the civilian community. There is also an entitlement mentality out there among so called ‘liberty’ supporters. I see this in the attacks on the III% Society, and I have also been attacked for it. Are you collectivists or do you understand the free market? In order to provide tactical training, or any training, we have to be viable as businesses. We don’t have resources to provide it gratis, and there are expenses. We have made considerable investment in training equipment and infrastructure at MVT, for example, in order to be able to bring you a better service. Where does the idea come from that training is a free entitlement? Do you get your other prepper supplies for free? Have you tried that entitlement mindset when purchasing your Mountain House? When I created MVT and subsequently decided to go full time at it, in order to bring a service aimed at ‘keeping good folks alive’ I had to make considerable investment, and I need to make a living to support myself and my family. Even those doing training as a part -time weekend job only still charge you money in exchange for their services. Do you understand that?

(Cue some nut job making comments about future urban resistance shooting tyrants in the ear in a coffee shop with a suppressed .22….who needs training?….WOW!)

The reality is that for motivated people, any multi-class MVT Alumnus has an excellent grounding in SUT, and better training than many will received in the military. I do not say that lightly. Couple that with continuation training and returning routinely for classes, and you have an excellent training effect. And this isn’t all about MVT. We have students who have been to multiple trainers. maybe a class at Mosby or two, a couple at MVT, maybe a Texas Mobility class. Choose your poison: choose capable training schools where you can learn real SUT, and not the ‘tacticool’ substitute.

Contrary to what I hear, MVT is not building a ‘militia’ or preparing for ‘the revolution.’ We are simply training to give ‘good folks the best chance of surviving’ uncertain times ahead. It appears inevitable that the USA will collapse at some point, we are simply lacking the actual timeline and exact mechanism. We also have no real idea what such a collapse will look like. We are already in the ‘gray collapse’ simply waiting for the big ructions that will really take us into the dark. We could be in the gray collapse for long time. It behooves you to get a group together and train to be effective. Such an activity is entirely legal and inherently American.  You must pay attention to legitimacy when you do this. Pay attention to the PR impact you have if others notice what you are doing, or if you attempt to recruit.

There are far too many nut jobs out there as it is. If you are a sensible sober individual or group training for potential collapse, do it right. Work on legitimacy, which is vital. Put out the right image. Be fit, and get the best training that you can. If you can get a qualified combat veteran to train you, do so. Worry less about being a ‘militia’ and holding rank, and more about being an effective tactical team.

Military / retired military are not better than you, and depending on your level of training they may have training they can offer, or you may actually be able to offer them an effective team to be part of. We all know that survival isn’t all about tactics. The military simply has some skills to offer, and civilians can be very well trained at SUT, and bring other skills. In fact, it may even be that the military person brings the logistic skills, or mechanical skills, or medical, from his / her trade in the military, and not the tactical skills: maybe you civilians need to train them up in those?

Quiet professionalism applies to those who are creating / training CUTT’s. Be professional, seek training, be the part and look the part. Take everyone as an individual for what skills they may bring to the party. The traditional ‘militia’ thing does nothing but harm to your own image and unfortunately will evoke an automatic disdain reaction from professional military and the general public alike. However, it isn’t about the name ‘militia’ – either be professional and call it something different, or be professional and call it a militia. Your choice.

It really isn’t at all about whether you are military or civilian. Effective training is now available for  civilians (and military, privately) that is the equal to, or better than, much of the training available in the military. This is because it is specialized SUT training by qualified experts. So you never joined the military? Well, you can have world class SUT training. Went to boot camp twenty years ago and learned some outdated semi-useful tactics? Get re-trained! You cannot sit on your laurels, or put yourself out to pasture.

It is all about maintaining the fire, the warrior mindset. That is all.

As a finishing note: as a trainer myself, I spend more time training others that I get to train myself. I get out there when I can. I hit the woods the other day to make a video about the MVT VERSA Chest Rig. The following video is just a scenario and not about the best thing to do in such a situation: it is a scenario and demonstration to run the rig through its paces. It is also not real combat, like the video above is. However, even despite my primary focus on students I manage to keep my weapon manipulation squared away to a reasonable standard:




  1. TomS says:

    Right on the money. The same “entitlement mentality” can be said for Law Enforcement at city/state/federal level.

    Because we train we are not planning/fomenting radical revolution or any violence.

    Some golf/tennis water sports and they spend as much time and money on equipment and “training” as we do.

    Ours just involves firearms and challenging courses of fire/movement/communication.

    The government mentality leads to if they(government) does not provide it or require training/certification it is not needed and we know more than civilians after all we protect them…like Ferguson/like Baltimore. Too many of that mindset are self proclaimed (untested) experts and disdain anyone outside their bubble.

    Of course there are exceptions wether military or Law Enforcement. They tend to be the few not the many.

  2. Leatherneck556 says:

    Max! Get out of my head!

    I know I haven’t commented here or in the forum in a little while now – August has been an extremely busy month for me, but my silence is now broken.

    Two things you wrote in the article above are things that I constantly harp on to others:

    1. “I know it may appear harsh, but just because you were in the military and deployed, doesn’t make you better than a civilian.”

    I try to explain this to people all the time. Outside of the legit special ops crowd, there just aren’t that many military guys that are really good at SUT. Honestly, there aren’t even really a lot that are that good at weapons manipulation and marksmanship. Military training is very focused on qualification as opposed to being focused on proficiency. What I mean is that military training is about putting the check in the box that says you did something, not about making sure you are really good at the things you do. I could tell stories for days about combat vet Marine riflemen that thought they were steely-eyed dealers of death who were really operating on a low amateur level.

    2. “You must pay attention to legitimacy when you do this. Pay attention to the PR impact you have if others notice what you are doing, or if you attempt to recruit.”

    It is really hard to be a rationalist pointing out all the unsustainable things we do as a nation, and the collision course that has put us on, and still be seen as credible. To most sheeple, there is no difference between tin-foil-hat-wearing loonies and those of us that talk about the damage the federal reserve system is doing to the government. We must take every chance we can to show ourselves as being credible. Even though I hate that the word “militia” has been polluted, the fact of the matter is that it has, and it just really isn’t the best word to use to describe a CUTT. I also stay away from it for the reasons you described above.

  3. Easy says:

    Right on point…

    as usual Max.

    As to the main point of this post, I feel like for some, prior military experience might, in some cases, even be a detractor.

    I trained, briefly, with a “militia” group, which was, as you put it when I emailed you about them, a shit show. A couple of the guys were former military, and they both said, by virtue of that, they didn’t need to train with the rest of us and run drills.

    One of them was allegedly trained as a sniper, and because of that, he didn’t need to learn how to run a carbine, and fight as a group.

    I have been training with a group now for about 16 months, and honestly, I think that even though none of us has any military combat experience, we could fuck some people up if the need ever arises.

  4. Wes says:

    Great post, Max, and right on the money, I think. I am a veteran. I served as a cavalry scout in 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment during Operations Desert Shield & Desert Storm in 91/92. The training and experience I received during this time is practically useless to me in my current situation. The only useful, practical training I have ever had is the Combat-2-Gun Course I had at your place back in February. That course provided a sound foundation for more training, but the fact is – I am woefully unprepared for anything bad that may happen. I can’t wait to get my team up there sometime this winter for CTT. Until then, I will be busting my ass on the PT. Thank you for all you do!

  5. Baldrick says:

    One of the abovementioned threads here


    I will echo this post, which was well said, along Leatherneck556, that legitimacy and credibility are imperative. Not to mention probably life-saving.

    Thanks for distilling these thoughts, Max.


  6. D Close says:

    One of the great points that Max makes here is that standards are being put out and we, as students, need to keep pushing it. Having a group of folks you train with is important. Having standards to meet is vital. If my group have all been to MVT (they have), I know they have some relevant experience. I don’t think we call ourselves anything other than friends. We aren’t trying to take over anything. We do enjoy each other’s company and care what happens to our merry band. We have an actual colonel or two, but we just call each other our names and try to figure out how we are going to make it through this.
    Good training made all that possible. Max and the cadre deserve the credit for taking a bunch of motley folks and showing them how to fight and a path to get even better. In the process, the tribe is growing. Keep up the good work. Max, I have a kid who needs training and I need a chance at a Rifleman tab soon. See you at Combat Patrol.

  7. phoenix says:

    As usual Max made some good points overall.

    I’m mostly happy with the progress of people I run into and train with. But many want it for free. As a pistol instructor myself I found the bit about free mountain house to be very funny.

    We have a LOT of great real world training we charge NOTHING for. Not to say max shouldn’t charge. He should. and his rates are very,very,VERY fair. Were it not for schooling up with him we’d be way behind the curve. I’m more giving a “YEAH BUDDY” about this when I see people not want to pay for the tactical pistol classes I offer. And those same people don’t want to pay for MVT. Derp! There is no free lunch. If you are not training and paying for training…ever, you are missing out. Further there is a need under VA law to get training and a certificate. This costs money.

    I and others have spent a lot of money to get the certs ourselves to provide the certs for students. Do you ask your plumber, electrician, hvac guy, mechanic, or DR for free services? I didn’t think so!

    As to the “Militia” term I mostly agree. The term has been hijacked and become a negative. Where I disagree is with this statement: “modern voluntary ‘militias’ are also not the same thing as historical militias, which were official State units.” I disagree because there is no such entity available to the people that is an ‘official state unit’. The national guard isn’t the militia. The Virginia Defense Force isn’t (it’s unarmed) and so the only entity left to the people is the volunteer ‘militias’.

    That said we could easily get in the weeds here when we don’t need to.

    Whatever term you ascribe to your team, be it: Tribe, Militia, CUTT, or whatever, just get it done. Build it. Train it. And at the very least pay for some of your team to go to MVT. It will pay dividends for years to come.

  8. starvinlarry says:

    Well said Max.
    I don’t know what SFC Barry’s problem is-an article posted a few years back states that he was booted from Ranger school-something about the other guys in the class saying he wasn’t fit to be a Ranger.
    Who the f*ck is he to talk down to anyone?
    The rest of it was the same usual suspects-with one new one,as I’m sure you know.
    You’re right about the ego problem,the fat ass Cheeto eating Mountin Dew chugging keyboard warrior “militia” kernels,and the general lack of fitness and training.
    I guess a putting together bunch of qualified guys offering a wide variety of training,in a wide variety of subject areas is a bad idea?
    As is those trainers charging for their courses-must have something to do with market share.
    I don’t get the attacks on the III Society,and the efforts made to get a bunch of trainers together,all over the U.S.
    I’m still involved in a couple III projects,and will see them through-in spite of what Barry and others say about it.
    You’re also right about the “at least we’re doing something” crowd-training when doing something wrong helps no one,and will possibly get people and their families killed.
    Barry and the rest don’t seem to get the concept that there are multiple people offering quality training who turn out students better trained than a lot of ex military guys I’ve run into over the past ten years or so.
    Barry and co. are not any better-and they seem to forget the logistics chain that supported them when they were active duty.
    I believe the whole bitch fest and rampant personal attacks bullshit caused by a few people has done serious damage to the III Society.
    As I’ve said all along-it’s time to get back to getting shit done.
    Those complaining about a network of trainers need to stop complaining about it-and if they want more students-then they need to put out a better “product”-that’s how the free market works.

  9. Max Velocity says:

    Just had to add:

    To quote NASCAR Driver RickyBobby: “If you’re not first, you’re last!”

    @JeffSags: Heh! Yes, we are posted over at WRSA. Hands up who reads the article, with reading comprehension hat on, instead of going straight to comments and making irrelevant remarks! 😉

  10. I am one of those 20 year retired veterans, but I served in the Navy, and all I can tell you is now Navy Supply works.
    I know my service experience is only relevant to where and when I served. I never carried arms for a living, and any opinion I have on same should be judged in that light.
    In the interest of acquiring that which the Navy did not give me, I have taken classes at several big name sleep over schools, and some other well known trainers, so I would like to think I have rifle and pistol manipulations down. Application of problem solving is my next step in the learning continuum. Conscious incompetence state is there.
    MVT training is on my wish list, but schlepping to Tenn from WA state is not a cheap undertaking for this poor college student. Maybe spring next year, while I save up for it…

  11. first off tell mark Dietzler he can ride with me….next,,,Max you are the best! I am 57 yrs old,I train hard with fire arms, will be attending cpr, gunshot wound classes, and AED (including buying a unit)…renew my USCG 100 ton capt license …and hope to run up the hills at your Virginia school without going so slow as to embarrass my self,,and not be a burden on the rest of the class..YT

  12. ApoloDoc says:

    Great as usual, Max. The refusal to train and acknowledge the need to do so is rampant. The superiority BS being thrown out by some folks is pathetic, and appears intended to demoralize freedom loving individuals. Just roll over as there is nothing that you can do…NOT!!!

    That video was pathetic. Run into fire, randomly shoot into space, get close to solid cover (big rock) but still manage to get shot AND drop your weapon. Brilliant! Then keep screaming. Is this advanced technique going to be taught at MVT in the future?

    It will be time for refresher training soon, so get the cold weather and snow ready! I will be far better equipped for cold than last time, and I have been practicing target identification 😉 I still owe you some pull ups or pushups, I believe!