CQB & The Cover vs. Concealment Issue

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    • #96006

        There was a discussion sparked off by the posting of the following Video in the Combat Media section of the MVT Forum:

        The description from YouTube is as follows:

        “Special Forces working with Afghan National Army. The first guy through the door is ANA. His weapon is hit and he turns and runs out the door (look for sparks when rounds hit his weapon). He is killed when he runs outside (this happens off camera). Insurgents inside the house shoot the ANA soldier through holes in the front of the building. The Special Forces soldier neutralizes the threat.”

        In one of the comments I wrote the following:

        I have used the video before as an example of tactical clearance, which is what he is doing and what we teach. He is doing it unsupported, which is not recommended, but may be applicable in a home defense situation. Tactical clearance can be done stealthily or hard and aggressive. Sort of like the difference between fire / movement and bounding overwatch. Some don’t get this, which is why they get hung up on modern construction materials.

        It’s all tactical clearance, but the SF guy is flowing fast. The first Afghan enters, visually clears left them heads straight, where he is focused on the guy in the hallway who appears to be unarmed. The SF guy is following and clears near left. As he comes back out of the room, Afghan is engaged from far right doorway. According to video description the Afghan’s weapon is hit and he runs out, to be killed through one of the murder holes in the outside walls. SF guy engages from near left to far right. As he pushes out, he visually clears the hallway then moves across to the far right doorway. He then does a classic tactical clearance ‘pie’ of the doorway, engaging the threat as he gets a visual. He then enters and secures the room. That is fast aggressive tactical clearance, engaging threats rapidly from the doorway before making entry, rather than rushing in blind. Note that SF guy had ample opportunity to employ off shoulder or support side shooting, due to the right hand turn for a right hand shooter. He does not. Although we teach the techniques, I have commented that in a dynamic situation, without much time to think, you probably won’t.

        This started a discussion about the cover / concealment provided by much construction in the United States. The bottom line is, that it cannot be assumed that any construction in structures in the US will give you any cover, it can only be assumed to be concealment. This is a simple fact, and is not really one that needs to be debated. Yes, there are objects within walls and in rooms that may stop rounds, but don’t bet on it, because a bit of drywall and insulation will stop nothing. You only have to watch any of the home improvement shows on TV, when they get to the ‘demo’ part, to see how vulnerable most walls are.

        So the real point of this post is to address how this may affect CQB tactics, in particular the tactical clearance that we teach at MVT.


        I would like you to consider the following points:

        1) CQB (or MOUT) is a violent and dangerous activity that is best avoided. Your best chance of being involved in a CQB situation is if you have a home intruder or similar situation and you have to clear your residence. Beyond that, even if you are operating in a rural environment, you may have isolated buildings or farmhouses that need clearing, including your own retreat if it is overrun. This is why you need to know tactical clearance techniques. However, actually engaging in combat in an urban environment is a high risk and casualty intensive activity that is best avoided. Your best option if you have to do so, is a well trained team numerous enough for the task.

        2) There are many reasons why you may be employing CQB techniques inside structures. You may simply be clearing (i.e. searching) a structure in a fairly low risk manner, ensuring that it is unoccupied. You may be engaging in urban combat. There may be hostages or non-combatants present. The situation will dictate how you respond in terms of use of violence and rules of engagement.

        3) Step back from the minutiae of CQB for a minute. A problem I see is that people tend to focus in too narrowly. An example is the original thread to the above video focusing on residential walls not proving cover – we know that, move on. The next thing is focusing only on methods of entry for CQB, and not the bigger picture. Whatever CQB environment you are in, whether it be an actual urban area, or isolated building(s), your activity does not start at the point of entry. Whether you are clearing (searching) without evidence of enemy in sight, or conducting an assault under enemy fire, you need to get your breach and entry team to the chosen breach point. This will take the form of any type of attack, where you need to establish support by fire (SBF), a covered approach, assault positions, assault sequence, suppression of buildings in sequence. In effect the assault cycle (assault, support by fire, reserve/flank protection). The presence of a structure means that you have a three dimensional problem with firing points in the target buildings that need suppressing so that you can maneuver to enter. Once you enter, you need to sequence assault teams through the structure in order to clear it, which is potential chaos and requires excellent communication. Once the initial structure is clear, your plan must call for shifting of support fires to suppress other firing points as you sequence the break in to the next structure.


        4) If a structure is vulnerable to small arms fire i.e. is is a standard American construction building, then step back a moment from focusing on doorway entries and consider that depending on the situation and mission, if there are enemy in the structure, what is to stop you from riddling it with fire before any sort of entry? However, never assume that this will kill them, because that cannot be assumed, the only assumption you should make is that they will be alive when you get there. Stepping back from a focus on doorway entry, as part of your assault plan consider options other than going in through the door. Doorway entry should really only be considered as part of a hasty entry or low risk clearance. In a high threat environment you want to, if possible, enter and clear from top to bottom, and breach walls if possible. Given that you do not have explosive breaching charges, there is no reason that you can’t knock a wall down with a truck, or use a sledgehammer. If mechanically breaching, this is all the more reason to be skilled at tactical clearance, because during the time you are doing so, you may have to fight from the breach, and the standard bum rush SWAT tactics will not work. Such mechanical tactics are also applicable to fighting in urban environments, because you need to avoid moving down streets, because they are kill zones. An example would be to get in the attic or upper floor and smash your way down through a row of attached houses, clearing as you go.

        5) I notice that when we start to train people in tactic clearance, which is at that point necessarily slow, people seem to shit the bed focusing on the fact that they cna be shot through the wall. Welcome to the danger of CQB.  Even when I attempt to explain that fighting from the door should be fast and aggressive, consider it form another point of view: if you stack at the door fro a standard CQB dynamic entry, you can still be shot through the wall. The whole stack. What is also often not considered is that if there is live enemy in the room, waiting for you to enter the door, then the standard dynamic entry will have you running through that fatal funnel in the muzzles of their guns. Absent flash-bangs, grenades, explosive charges or some other way to shock the room, this is a really really bad idea. Dynamic entry works with speed, surprise and violence of action. It may work on the first entry if you have surprise. After that, you have to be able to shock the room to allow you to live as you bum rusk through the door. The problem that is encountered is the barricaded enemy, who will not be reduced by support fire and will survive the grenade into the room. If you don’t even have any sort of mechanism to shock the room, you are running into his (their) muzzle(s). So, in short, the fact that walls do not stop bullets does not justify dynamic entry over tactical clearance.

        6) You should also consider that tactical clearance is designed to reduce the enemy in the room prior to committing to entry. If you run into difficulties, such as the enemy is barricaded, you take a casualty at the door, or you take rounds through the walls next to the door, you have the option to back away. You can then consider another approach or an alternative breach point. You have the time and opportunity to plan. If you go for dynamic entry in the same situation, you will now have casualties in  the room, who you cannot extract, and you are in a world of hurt. Also remember, that even if rounds will come through the walls, you are still better off with a little concealment as you dynamically pie the entry, rather than running through the door and into the room, where you have nothing. Believe it or not but some people don’t even have the imagination to shoot through a wall. CQB is a highly dangerous activity but tactical clearance gives you a lot more options, and is a far superior technique, to dynamic entry.


        MVT currently offers an introduction to CQB techniques on the afternoon of the MVT Run n Gun, which is usually scheduled prior to Force on Force Team Tactics weekends. This is primarily designed as an add-on to the FoF TT weekend. In order to make the Run n Gun more accessible, and to give more of an opportunity to train CQB, we may consider adding a Saturday and Sunday option where the Run n Gun happens on the Saturday morning (not Friday) and then the remaining 1.5 days are given over the CQB training. Also, this would not be endless repetition of entry techniques, but on the second day it would evolve a little towards scenario training a little like the Force on Force Team tactics, but with the focus remaining on CQB – to include the total scenario of a CQB assault as listed above. Feedback welcome on this option.


        I will include belwo the original post on Tactical Clearance, which lays out the basics to give you an introduction the topic:

        Tactical Clearance: An Alternative CQB Technique

        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.

        Dynamic entry often fails in the face of effective resistance, without complete surprise and low levels of resistance. Flowing through the door as a stack, ‘running the walls’ to the corners, and achieving overlapping fields of fire works well under conditions of total surprise, with near perfect execution of its users, and with scant resistance from the occupants. Without those conditions, it is only viable against low levels of unprepared resistance, unless the team is willing to accept casualties. This can be seen in training with many examples of failed entries. Rather than trying to flood through a doorway immediately, blind, it is preferable to have time to observe and react to the situation and threats inside the room. This allows for greater safety and a flexibility of response. The amount of time spent at the doorway can be minimal and it can be done while still applying the principles of speed, surprise, and violence of action. Remember, the speed part is not how fast you move, but how fast your reduce the threats inside the room.

        With the Tactical Clearance method, multiple shooters engage immediate threats from the doorway, initially using limited penetration techniques. If a standoff ensures, perhaps with a barricaded enemy, wounded can be more easily extracted, and the team can withdraw and re-engage with justifiably greater force, or can abandon and destroy the structure if appropriate. Remember that if a standoff occurs, in a military setting you may be looking at the doorway engagement as a base of fire to allow you to establish an alternate breach, or for the guys who are engaged to break contact in the face of overwhelming threats in the room, and  reduce the enemy by another means/breach. However, as civilians you will perhaps not have the means for an alternate breach, particularly an explosive one.

        The Tactical Clearance method utilizes TTPs from a variety of techniques, with the purpose of keeping the drills flexible but simple. The limited penetration method of ‘fighting from the door’ has been in use for some time and is part of current ‘combat clearance’ methods used in the GWOT. This clearance method can be used at variable speeds and can be done cautiously, or immediate entry can be facilitated as soon as the room or situation is observed. It uses cover/concealment, cornering (slicing the pie), mutual support and bounding overwatch.

        I knocked up some basic slides of these drills. Just remember when you look at them – this is dynamic, responding to what is encountered in the room, and not step-by-step slow as the diagrams may suggest. Sweeping the room with your muzzle as you ‘slice the pie’ is a rapid movement only taking as long as you need to scan and assess, shooting as necessary:

        Principle Techniques:

        • Cornering (Slicing the pie).
        • Bounding Overwatch
        • Mutual support (2 guns up front).
        • Limited penetration in order to observe and engage.
        • Observe 80% of the room before entry.
        • Identify threats from the breach point
        • Two men enter simultaneously/slight offset (factors of door size/operator size) and immediately get guns on the remaining near corners – back to back button-hook.
        • Use of the high/low technique.
        • Use of ‘quick peek.’
        • On call commands to adapt to changing situations.

        Example: 4 man team moving in corridors:

        Right Hand Corner #1

        • 2 front men mutually supporting, number 2 offset and slightly back from number 1.
        • Number 3 = Team leader.
        • Number 4 = Breacher (if required) and rear security.

        Right Hand Corner #2

        • Corner right:
          • Number 1 slices the pie to begin to get eyes down the opening, stepping left as he corners.
          • Number 2 steps out left from beside Number 1 and completes the corner/steps across the gap if there are no threats to engage.
          • If applicable, number 3 covers down the corridor they were originally moving down.
          • Number 4 covers rear.
          • Number 2 active muzzle awareness, if he crosses behind number 1 due to a change in direction/corner direction, he drops his muzzle and then brings it back up on the new side.
          • Offside shoulder technique used with weapons when cornering on support side.
        • Corner left:
          • Opposite, Number 2 comes out on the right.
        • T-Junction:
          • Number 1 and 2 corner in opposite directions.
          • Number 3 and 4 step out left and right respectively .
          • It’s just a double corner.
          • Team continues in desired direction, Number 4 pulls rear security.

        Example: 4 man team, door closed, center fed room:

        • Split breach point if possible, team split on either side of the door (door closed only).
        • Number 1 and Number 2 split either side of doorway.

        Center Fed Room #1

        • Number 3 and 4 also split, providing security – cover up and down the corridor or external as appropriate.
        • Open door – use Number 4 man to mechanically breach if necessary (try handle!)
        • Number 1 & 2 are immediately covering from their opposite near corners (minus 10% unobservable each side deep in the near corners) through opposite far corners to center.
        • Don’t initially flag weapons into the room!

        Center Fed Room #2

        • Number 1 & 2 engage any threats and observe situation in the room.
        • As they move their muzzles  into the center of the room from their opposite near corners, slicing the pie on the door corners, they sidestep into the doorway.

        Center Fed Room #3

        • Simultaneously if there is space (doorway size?), or Number 1 fractionally ahead if there is not, they step into the door and button-hook back to back into their near corners.
        • ‘Quick Peek’ and ‘high/low’ techniques can be used to view the near corners as appropriate.
        • Number 1 and 2 push into the room a limited distance – not ‘running the walls’ – followed by number 3 (team leader).
        • Number 4 covers rear, will remain in corridor/room until called in if they are moving into another room and not back into the corridor/out through the original room.

        Center Fed Room #4

        Example: 4 man team, door closed, corner fed room:

        Corner Fed Room # 1

        • Same as center fed room.
        • Depending on the side of the near wall, either number 1 or 2 will have a limited field of view.

        Corner Fed Room # 2

        • Only one near corner will be an issue.
        • Depending who has that near corner that operator will be the one to button hook first, getting eyes on the unseen near corner.

        Corner Fed Room # 3

        • Other operator number 1 or 2 immediately follows and moves along the near wall to support his buddy.

        Corner Fed Room # 4

        Example: 4 man team, door open right side of corridor, center fed room:

        Center Fed Room Open Door #1

        • This situation is like a corner, but there is more space beyond it, due to the center fed room i.e. it’s not just a change in direction of a corridor.
        • We cannot be split either side of the door, because it is open and that will expose us crossing the doorway.
        • Approach as per a corner, number 1 covering into his opposite near corner.

        Center Fed Room Open Door #2

        • Number 1 corners, sweeping his muzzle into the center of the room as he side steps.
        • Number 2 comes up on the left, steps into the entrance, and continues to corner into the right side of the room and his now opposite near corner. He ends up on the other side of the doorway.

        Center Fed Room Open Door #3

        • Number 3 is covering down the corridor, Number 4 pulling rear security.
        • Once both near corners (minus 10% unobservable) have been covered, including 80% of the whole room, Number 1 & 2 simultaneously (or slight offset) button-hook into their respective near corners.

        Center Fed Room Open Door #4

        • Any threats that come into view are engaged prior to making entry. Decision whether to enter or stay back is made.

        Center Fed Room Open Door #5

        • The rest of the drill is as per a door closed.
        • An alternative, if he has it, is for Number 1 to pie the whole entrance, getting to the opposite side of the doorway, number 2 taking over his original position by the door, then Number 1 and 2 continue as per the same drill.

        Center Fed Room Open Door #6

        • There are alternatives about how to cross the open doorway – only expose yourself if cornering correctly with muzzle up, and not flagged into the room.

        Remember that rooms will have exits. You will either be leaving the way you came (hence security remaining in the corridor) or moving through a room via another exit. If there are other doors out of the room, the rooms on the other side of them will be cleared the same way as you initially entered. This is why it make a lot of sense to keep the penetration into the room shallow at least initially, because you do not expose your flanks the same way that you do with classic dynamic entry, where you will be moving to corners possibly past open doorways or similar.

        Here is a useful video illustrating some of the movement cornering concepts:

        (You don’t have to have the support Number 2 weapon so close to the front mans face).

        Here is a useful video illustrating some similar fighting from the door and limited entry techniques. It’s a bit dated and some is not exactly as I describe above. Also, there are multiple oddities, weird rifle grips and other things that I don’t advocate, so use it just as a visual on some of the concept of fighting from the door with limited entry techniques. Take the good and ignore the bad:

        I have been talking for some time about building a facility and bringing some CQC training to the MVT curriculum. We will be working on our specific instructional SOPs. In the meantime ‘enter and clear a room’ will be part of the MVT Rifleman Challenge instructional/testing segment. You will not be taught the old failed ways. You will be taught a version of Tactical Clearance. This will be instructed, practiced and ultimately run live using a simulated room set up on the square range.


      • #96007

          Great write up.. I have questions but want to digest..

          @ 4:11 the Agent gets owned by not considering proper cover and a poor entry plan.


        • #96008

            By posting Waco there is a danger that the tactical CQB discussion will now abruptly take a left turn and exit stage right. Let’s not do that. If anyone wants to discuss anything other than CQB tactics, start another thread.

            As far as the specific tactics of the ATF window entry go, the 3 agents that enter took some time due to the difficulties making a mechanical breach in the window. They then attempted as dynamic entry as they could into the room, given the difficulties with the window itself. All 3 died in the room.

            I don’t know what happened in the room, but I suspect they were killed as they entered, probably from a firing point in an adjacent room or by a counter attack by the defenders. Perfect example of why, without sufficient surprise and violence of action and faced with an active defender, dynamic entry does not work.

            The remaining agent on the roof attempted to fight the defenders in the room from the window. He has a poor position and a bad view due to the blackout cloth. Rounds came through the wall. He was lucky. Luckier than the 3 who went in. He survived. Classic case of realizing that an entry is a no go and withdrawing to make another plan/ breach point.

            In this case, the attackers did not consider killing all the people inside a constraint, and thus opted for a standoff attack and burning the place down. This is not uncommon, and represents a decision that assaulting is too risky, and that collateral damage is acceptable to the attackers.

          • #96009

              I welcome any additional curriculum added to MVT. More is gooder.

              HEAT 1(CTT) X 3
              HEAT 2 (CP) X1
              FOF X3
              OPFOR X2
              CLC X2

            • #96010

                Ok Im done digesting….Please don’t take this as some sort of attempted “Gotch post”. I hesitate to post this but I have questions that will eventually lead to an overall understanding at some point..

                I’m under the assumption here that the dwelling defenders have no idea they are about to get owned, correct? I want to start at the beginning. Before I try to digest clearing the interior of the dwelling I’ll go right to how I would approach this in a Post-Hammer drop environment.

                What’s the deciding factor for action here?:

                The number of dwelling defenders is unknown, correct? So what is the deciding factor that kicking the door in is the appropriate course of action considering the risk? Is it the overwhelming tactics/style or ratio of the number of Defenders vs the Raid Team if even a rough idea of the number of defenders is known? How can one be sure the element of surprise is in the Raid Teams favor? If it is can a weaker force actually dominate and destroy a larger force embedded in a dwelling similar to that original video, in the same terrain, with possibly inferior numbers on the Raid Team, superior training and applicable firepower?

                I understand the critical effect and the need of ‘shock and awe’ to gain rapid domination and fire superiority to overwhelmingly effect the behavior of the defenders, but I feel I’m missing some critical deciding factor/information that prevents me from looking at it from the more practical approach of a survivor of the Hammer Dropping, just as professionals do in their natural environment. Its the POV I envision in a post collapse environment…

                Sometimes (most of the time) the military approach conflicts w/ what I would see as the total fluidity of a Post Collapse fight. To me risk versus reward would seem like an overwhelming factor that would adjust and seriously effect every tactical decisions, thus changing the over all tactics and approach to specific situations to find a solution.

                Consideration in my mind:

                *Cover. There is none for the Raid Team. The defenders shooting through the walls or mouse holes if the teams approach is compromised can be expected because I would suspect anyone alive after a collapse would be well versed at the important of 24-7 security. Getting the drop would be a huge issue. The raid team is in pretty much a wide open area unless they make it back to the berm and Back-Hoe. Thus the threat of simply being lead in to be pounced upon would be one of my first concern. I would have to assume the Raid Teams approach has already been compromised and go from there. So if they have a LMG to deploy to cover them- In which case if I had that resource I would consider a limited expenditure of firepower to shake things up before I would even think to consider putting the raid team w/in range of the defenders. (Post Collapse ROE would be to kill. I would suspect anyone I was involved in attacking, that it would be for good reason thus collateral damage should be expected).

                *Concealment. There is none in the original video. Would one or more long range DM first be assigned as over-watch/cover for the Raid Team be assigned to approach, or act in the same roll as the above LMG?

                *Firepower and its proper application w/ available resources. How much is this going to cost The Raid Team.

                *Medical and support resources should the situation fall to pieces. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

                Ive generalized and left gaps in the above information on purpose. Ill stop there and hope I’m understood.


              • #96011

                  Bergmann: Good questions but you need to step back to get maximum benefit.

                  First part of your comment: you are taking about the decision making process and deciding on a course of action / plan. This is part of your combat estimate, which is laid out in ‘Contact!’ This is no different from any other decision making process, except in a CQB situation you have the added element of the structure(s) at the objective. This is why in the post I talk about the situation and mission and what the circumstances are. Any operation, from an ambush to a raid needs to be analyzed and planned to ensure you can achieve the objective with minimal casualties.

                  You may very rightly decide to not have anything to do with it, given what I said about any CQB having significant risk involved. On the other hand, the CQB could be a hasty event, such as clearing a building to set up a patrol base or OP inside, or a hot pursuit as per the post video.

                  The SF video itself: this was not used as an example of how to do CQB or plan a raid in a global sense. It was posted, and the part I was focusing on was the individual techniques of the SF guy as he does his individual clearance drills. It is not even planned or conducted like a hasty attack, with the building as the objective, is it? They just roll right in on what appears to be a hot pursuit. If you wanted to plan this like a raid/hasty attack then of course it would include a SBF element prior to the assault team moving to the house and making entry. Whether overwatch or actually shooting, would depend on the situation.

                  So don’t over-analyze the video footage. That was just used for individual CQB techniques. Yes, any raid or attack involving structures need to be analysed as per any other kind of attack, and the presence of a structure will give you specific planning considerations. If it’s too risky, don’t do it – but why are you there?

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