Combat Leader Course
I was one of the lucky four members to fight (and more often die) as the OPFOR (Opposing Force) team.
The class was twelve strong and as I understand it mostly all MVT Alumni.
At first I was concerned with the 4 vs 12 odds but in the end feel like this was a perfect number for this class.
I was the only OPFOR that had not experienced or used the UTM rounds. The other members of the OPFOR team got me up to speed and helped sort out many small issues as we worked through the week. Simple things from pointing out camo recommendations (solid black packs for example) on my part to other tips and tricks to help with gear placement and more effective operation. Helmet outlines should be broken up and anything shiny should be dulled when possible. Goggles seemed to be a big challenge here with slow head movement vs fast helping reduce but not eliminate the challenge. At one point during the week the opfor team realized that we all would focus on reloading mags, cleaning weapons and getting gear set for next mission before other tasks without even thinking about it.
Mask, gloves, goggles, helmet, shemagh could be heard being repeated to ourselves as we each tried to ensure we had the gear needed before moving out on each mission. Despite this we still had two instances where we had to improvise or correct gear issues. (would be good to have backups available to avoid possible last min failures or losses)
Lessons learned (as OPFOR):
Gear fit and environment:
Just because it feels good when you try it on in your temp controlled living room or even in your backyard does not mean it will work the same in the rain/hail, with wind, laying prone in the mud facing downhill as all the blood rushes to your head and the chin strap on your helmet tries to strangle you. Even having gone through CTT and other prior “real world” situations in the past I overlooked this point. Check your gear and fit in all imaginable positions and environments.
after the two days of rain and mud with limited drying options 2-3 or each critical item would be ideal. Wet gloves, shemagh, boots are no fun. bring more and have more options you may still end up with cold damp gear but hopefully at least not dripping wet.
Lessons learned (from class members):
Communicate and drop the egos. This is easier said than done, especially with a 4 man team vs 12. If you can not shoot, move and communicate effectively you will die. This all improved as the class progressed but was clearly heard and seen in several instances. Finding a group and training with them routinely and often is the only way this will improve. You will not always agree with who is in charge but when they are in charge you need to do the best you can to support them. All these people who think they will find a group “later” and just click are going to have a rude awakening. The class did an amazing job from my perspective and way ahead of most if not all others who have never tried to train like this. OPFORwas part of every AAR and you get to hear how things went and unfolded for the good or bad from many perspectives other than your own fight perspective. First Sergeant did an awesome job getting us into positions and communicating the intent of the OPFOR plan.
The people in the class and the OPFOR team along with Max and Scott make this what it is. As OPFOR my personal goal was to do my best as the bad guy and to help make the class realistic and not fall on my face while pushing myself and testing my gear. As always the physical side is a challenge and I need to continue to push myself with more PT. As good as the other classes are I can see why Max wanted to do this class. It pushes the training envelope even more and allows some great learning opportunities for all involved. Seasoned Alumni to anyone with the basics down will learn from this class.
The weather was perfect for training. We had everything from hail during an assault, rain, flurries to snow at times and wind. Even with fan googles and anti-fog solution applied many times lying prone it was almost impossible to see. I found this normally only when prone in the wet ground but other times as well. Propping the goggles on the face mask or sealing them against the skin nothing seemed to help. This sucks but it is real and you have to roll with it. Good cheek weld position is also a challenge with the safety gear, especially when trying to find that low spot to shoot from without exposing your upper body/head over the makeshift bunkers.
I also enjoyed the social interaction aspects. Camping all week with the team, dinner out in town combined with the class cookout with the “inferno” fire was a great time to get to know everyone. I would recommend to anyone who is able to volunteer for OPFOR. I also look forward to taking this class as a student and would recommend you add this class to your training schedule.
Thanks again for Max and his immersive training opportunity as well as all the input and feedback from Scott and the opfor team. I learned more than I imagined I would and am thankful to have been apart of this class. Thanks also to all the students for being good sports and having what appeared to be fun killing us. It was a pleasure meeting you all and look forward to training with you all again soon!