Student Review: Combat Team Tactics 17-19 Oct: JustARandomGuy

CTT Oct 14

I attended an original CRCD almost a year ago exactly from the 2014 class covered here, and it was an eye opening experience- I immediately made plans to return, but was delayed, hence the year wait. For brevity’s sake, I could simply direct all interested parties to my previous review posted here on the MVT blog (Oct. 2013, AAR #2) because everything I said there still applies. However, in the year it took for me to get back up to WV, a lot has changed with the CRCD class, (now CTT) and it would be a disservice not to cover the impact these changes have had on the course, as well as additional other takeaways.

So there I was a year later, standing there in the early morning dark with 8 other attendees…

The new CTT (Combat Team Tactics) has had a third initial square-range day added to it that in itself was a great idea, aside from how it impacted the rest of the class. For day 1 we spent the morning either zeroing or confirming zero on our rifles, then moving on to loading/unloading, reloads, and malfunction clearance drills, ending the day with some basic static movement drills that would lead into the RTR drills on day 2. So in essence aside from a team tactics class, you get a basic carbine class in as well. Frankly this is a much needed essential that was good to see added, considering last year there were some minor hiccups with folk that had less experience running their weapons and “Barbequing on the X”. The new square range day did a great job of mitigating this, and therefore freeing up time to work through the more involved portions of the class during the next two days.

Day two we moved into the basic Contact/ RTR drills. The original “short” range has been expanded, which means that not only are there more options to run the drills, but more space to run them in. For example, the “peel right” now ends up feeling little more “full” if you will,  since you can get a couple more movements in before running out of range space. And did I mention the expanded area is all uphill? Not only does this add an extra level of physical exertion on the Day 1 portion, but working with the terrain can come into play as well. I’ll leave it at that, but it was a great way to up the intensity of the first day.

Also, another thing that was great was the ability to run an actual walkthrough of some of the more complex drills (like the team “peel right”)- remember all that time freed up for day 2 by working out all the weapon related issues on day 1? That pays off here, where the fifteen extra minutes that would have been spent having a Tactical BBQ can now be spent in developing a better understanding of how the drill works, or discussion of related issues.

Day 3 we moved onto the fullsize range which has also been expanded (and yes, it’s all uphill too). We warmed up with the classic jungle walk, and then moved into buddy pair assault/break contact drills, then on to 4-man break contact and peels. The new expansions really came into play on the large range, and especially on the final “bunker assault” drill of the day. Without giving any of the new fun stuff away, you get a much better feel for how a squad attack would work- engaging depth targets, the “assault cycle” and shifting of fires were all demonstrated in fuller detail than last year, and overall the final exercise was just that much more awesome.

Freedom boner activate!

As far as secondary takeaways;

-Situational awareness. It’s easier to get sucked into your site, and shooting the target popping up and down than you would think. It’s also easy to default back to what you did at a previous class, which could lead to a situation where you jump in a ditch like you did before, and completely miss the new target that has popped up on the extension range… On another drill, I missed the “contact front”, but it was called by my buddy, and the target was then engaged and we rolled into the rest of the drill. Fail on my part, *but* a great example of the oft repeated “every man is a link”.

-Shameless product plug of the day- the BCM Gunfighter Mod 4 charging handle is some of the best spent money you will spend on upgrading your rifle. My personal rifle has one of these on it, but I spent this class T&E’ing a budget built rifle for a family member. Since you perform reloads and malfunction drills with your left hand (unless otherwise applicable), while keeping the shooting hand on the grip, this means you need to work the charging handle with one hand. To put it simply, a charging handle with an extended latch and textured surface provides so much more positive control over your actions when running the charging handle one-handed, you don’t realize how much less effective the standard USGI charging handles are until you go back to one. Especially if you wear gloves.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the USGI CH, but after a decent optic this should be the next thing you upgrade your rifle with. End plug.

-Don’t attempt to communicate into your stock. There’s no microphone there, and at times it can impede your buddies ability to hear you- especially if you’re a fellow who doesn’t do much yelling at full volume on a regular basis…

-Earpro- I switched to some basic active earpro since last class (the Howard Leights almost everyone in the picture is wearing). This is definitely an improvement over the foam plugs, or just basic earmuff hearing protection, and as far as I can recall I did not have any issues in this class hearing communications from other team members.

-Fred’s talk at the beginning of day three was great- it’s always good to get unfiltered factual info on the various CBRN threats from an expert on the subject. Further, the addition of an extra instructor (Chris) helped some of the larger drills run more smoothly, and made an exercise like the new bunker assault possible.

-If you can help it, don’t wait a year to go back. Need I bring up the old cliché of “perishable skills”? Especially if you’re largely without others to practice them with… While I was surprised at how much I remembered from a year back, I still had to re-learn a lot.

Final note- the original CRCD class that I took a year ago did more than an adequate job of explaining all the essential concepts for a base of team contact drill knowledge. The new CTT class does it that much better. Personally I would have liked to see a basic medical portion kept on (why the lack of interest in the TC3 class I don’t get….), but aside from that I would go so far as to say that the class is now as it should be.

If you’re looking to take a basic team tactics class for the first time, or re-take the CRCD course, the new CTT version won’t disappoint.