Student Review: Combined CRCD / Combat Patrol Class 28 June – 3 July: Sam

Max: Sam was ‘number 2 son’ of submariner’s four man (Dad plus 3 sons) fire team. He has some of the training out of sequence on the AAR below, in terms of what happens on each day, so I will insert comments appropriately: 

Detail on the Combat Patrol class contents can be found on THIS PAGE.

Sam Sends:

Prior to taking this class, I had attended numerous square range classes taught by EAG Tactical, culminating in a shoot house class at Alliance, Ohio.  This is this the second class off the square range, and in my opinion, the best I have ever taken. So, here is my take on the TC3, RMP, CR-CD, and Combat Patrol classes.

T1: We began at 7:00 A.M. with Tactical Combat Casualty Care. I had taken a limited medical class taught at home by an fellow EAG student who had been a contractor overseas, but this was a more hands-on approach than I had experienced. Max’s elaboration of the M.A.R.C.H. protocol was very good and was greatly enhanced by the demonstrations he gave. Anecdotes of actual combat wounds incurred were much appreciated and gave the class a less theoretical feel. After lectures on applying tourniquets, bandaging wounds, applying chest seals, clearing airways, needle decompression, and hypothermia, we went onto the trail to test all of this on our classmates.

Max stressed that, if possible, you should win the firefight with the enemy first, and then treat the casualty.  Running up to your buddy and getting shot to the ground will not help anyone. You also tell the casualty to stay down and return fire if able. If you yourself are wounded, you should try to get to cover and treat yourself.

Dragging my brother off the trail was an interesting experience; getting him into the proper position with his head uphill was also fun. Tourniquets should always go high and tight and it is not so easily done with gloves. After going through the checklist, we swapped roles and began again. Definitely need upper body strength when doing this, otherwise he will not go anywhere. I learned a lot from this class and am glad I took it; it was concise, to the point, and did not have unnecessary elements. Overall, the class was great, the teaching style was excellent, and it was a great help.

After TC3, we began Rifle Manipulation Primer, taught by Aaron. It was similar to other square range classes I have taken, but it had the positive effect of loosening us up, making sure everyone was on the same page as far as weapons manipulations was concerned, and teaching me a new way to clear double feed stoppages. The teaching was great, and I believe you should take this class to get all your ducks in a row before the CR/CD. After September 1, Combat Rifle / Contact Drills (CRCD) class attendees will have no choice – it’s now a 3 day class with RMP absorbed into the training on the Friday. 

After RMP, we had Night Observation Device Firing. It was eye-opening, to say the least. I have never actually used the helmet-mounted NODs before, but the instructors were able to get safely get us to zero, move, and engage targets on the square range. An important thing was gear integration: get all kinks with your gear worked out before coming to the class. The night was pitch black, without any moon or stars, only punctuated by fireworks being set off in the area. Chris said it was just like battlefields at night. On the zeroing, we sort of screwed up Max by taking Smith & Wesson .22 carbines, but Chris was able to get us zeroed fairly quickly with his own technique. After that we were to go to an ambush site that had been set up beforehand. We went by threes in the Ranger up the trail to the Objective Rally Point. It was like being the protagonist of a horror movie: you could only see through a toilet paper tube, the Ranger was rocking every which way, and your depth perception was screwed up. After we got to the Objective Rally Point, we took up Herringbone formation and waited for the rest of the team to arrive. Simply scanning through one eye while the other was blind was novel. After we had all arrived, we took off through the woods, led by Max, to the ambush site, got into position, and waited for his arranged signal.

Moving in the hills with no depth perception is not very easy; it takes habituation and practice before you can do it without problems, as Chris told us.

When the ambush was sprung, we opened up on the targets and blasted them. Practice with the IR laser is needed. After the class, which ended at about 11:30 P.M., we crashed in our mosquito-net beds and tried to get some sleep. The class was amazing; I would heartily recommend this to anyone who owns NODs and IR lasers..

Important notes: IR lasers and lights can give away your position if your enemy has parity with your night vision. On darker nights, your patrol will have to move closer together to avoid losing men. As my brother said, “You don’t own the night. You just borrow it for a few hours.” Night vision will not make you an unstoppable force. If you have never used it before, you can very well panic over the difficulties it brings. Practice is essential for fighting at night.

T2: First day of the Combat Rifle/Combat Drills. A note on this, if you took NODF, you are in for a long day. You will probably only get 5-ish hours of sleep, so be prepared. It began with lectures at the pavilion on React To Contact: contact front, contact left, contact right, and contact rear. The theory of cover was put forward and how to take advantage of it. We began working in buddy pairs, two people reacting to contact and fighting back or forward as the situation dictated. Learned a lot from this about moving in the opening, never staying up long when running to cover, and the ultimate importance of suppressing the enemy. There is no movement without cover by fire. Finished the day by learning to peel left and right.

T3: Began with a lecture on various threats nuclear, biological, and chemical with a one man jungle walk throughout (this is Fred’s talk as concurrent activity to the Jungle Walk). Learned to fight back with teams of two buddy pairs breaking contact to a rally point and setting up a hasty ambush, then bugging out. Learned the caterpillar center peel. Next came a box peel: two teams in front fighting back, a team each providing right and left flank security. (Center peel and the MVT box peel were actually on the next day, day 1 of patrol, where we move up from the team drills of CRCD to the squad centric drills on Combat Patrol). Finished with a hasty attack: assaulting two in-depth bunkers with a fire support team and two assault teams, the first of which switched to suppressing the in-depth bunker after taking the first. I was a grenadier and responsible for posting a smoke grenade into the second bunker. The most intense thing I have ever done in my life, bar none. We learned that controlled aggression is critical to this work, as you will not be able to fight effectively unless you have this drive. And if you don’t have it and someone close to you dies, you will lose control of yourself.

Overall: CR/CD is a great class and has great instructors. I did not feel unsafe at any point, the instructors were all competent in their work, and had a great passion to teach it. There is no other place in the country I know of where you can get this kind of training. This is not a tactical theme park where you run around in the woods with rifles.

Important notes: Taking cover can block your line of sight on an enemy, so you must take a good to make sure you see everything. Communication and coordination between buddy pairs must be good; otherwise you will take forever to get anything done. Momentum is not speed as such, but doing the basics correctly and quickly.

T4: First day of Combat Patrol. Began with heavy lectures on the theory of patrolling, the different types: observation post, covert OP, ambush patrol, fighting patrol, and reconnaissance patrol. (This has been changed to make it less lecture heavy – the new format is listed on the Combat Patrol page). How to plan a patrol: picking routes, the organization of duties, posting and rotation of sentries, passwords, the chain of command, actions on, delegation, and individual anticipation. Terrain navigation: terrain association, azimuth navigation, aiming off a terrain feature, danger areas, linear danger areas, and cross-graining terrain. All of this can be found in Max’s book, Contact! We went on to gear and how it can help and hinder you, and a recommendation from Max on what to take.

T5: Began by having our gear inspected and practiced setting up our tarps. Then we rehearsed moving in file and commands that could be given while on patrol: single file, double file, get down, rally point, ambush, and others. Moving together without bunching up while keeping an eye on the guy behind you is a great chance for randomness. Again, practice is key. We moved into a mock area of the patrol base where we were given an idea of the shell scrape dispositions and the idea of how to do a clearance patrol around the base. After that, we did some practice on crossing linear danger areas–bridges, breaks in forests, roads–by sending a security group ahead while the rest took position and kept watch behind. Also, he showed ways to fight back across a danger area by doing the centipede center peel. Then we began patrolling, marching up the trails over a route Max had devised, stopping often to listen and watch. We set up a hasty ambush on the way, and Max took us one by one to walk by it and see what could be seen. (this was part of the patrol base occupation procedure) Finally, we arrived at the patrol base and my brother and I ran a clearance patrol under the eyes of Chris. We went farther than we needed to clear the area and were advised on what is a good distance, depending on terrain. Sentries were posted and began the work phase of setting up our shell scrapes for sleeping.

We had what Max called a “tactical yard sale”, all our stuff spread out and around the place. We were also reminded of battle discipline–having your rifle and belt within reach at all times. We set up our mosquito-net beds, but that left no room in the scrape for myself and so defeated the purpose of having a tarp to block aerial observation. Having set up and put away our stuff until needed, I rested as much as could before going on sentry duty. While on sentry duty, the class moved out towards the pavilion where we would have a break for dinner and go into the night reconnaissance patrol. We did not do so well on that patrol because the route we took put on a hill looking down on the objective, and the tree cover and leaves on the floor did not help matters. I twisted my ankle at the beginning and middle of the patrol but was able to make it back to the pavilion. After the debrief, I bunked at the pavilion until morning. (Sam was in fact a casualty now, with a sprained ankle. He stayed in the pavilion overnight. My aim at that point was to prevent further injury, for him and a couple or others, while giving them the benefit of the training. The Ranger ATV was now their friend!)

T6: I was not present for what happened in the patrol base in the early morning, so I will not write on it. After my family got our things together, Max then taught on a deliberate ambush, as opposed to a hasty ambush, and all the myriad things that went into running one. This, too, can be found in his manual. After rehearsing the ambush, the two of us that were least capable of moving were driven up to the ORP. We then screwed up by not falling into Herringbone with the rest of the patrol, and it all went downhill from there. Team Submariner was supposed to move together to secure the flanks of the ambush for the kill team, but we did not move out as planned and went by pairs instead. After something happened with the kill team, Max called us back up the slope and got very upset with our inability to follow orders. (Even after rehearsals! There were some tired students there that day, which greater prior focus on PT would have done a lot to mitigate against). After we reaffirmed that we still wanted to do the ambush, we retook position and managed to execute it tolerably, although our fire was not as heavy as it should have been and it is probable that a number of fictitious targets would have escaped. (Yes, worst ambush I have done on the patrol class, but we rescued it, not to mention the unmentionable incident with the guy who shall remain nameless, from the national level organization, who brought his ego and found himself off the training before we went and executed the ambush after the reset. I have not seen the like before on any of my classes, and I hope to never see it again). 

Returning to the pavilion, we began discussing the deliberate attack. It involved a fire support team and two assault teams. Dad; another man, Dave; Chris, and myself; would be the support element and would be ferried to our area on the Ranger. So, for brief moment, we were mechanized infantry. Riding to battle has its advantages!  The attack was synchronized beforehand and we began firing on the mark at the mannequins and targets in our zones of responsibility. At the signal, we shifted fire and continued to suppress our designated targets. At this point, I suffered a catastrophic ammunition failure that took my rifle out of the fight (broke the firing pin.) I suppose if you have to have a failure at a class, the best time would be the last few rounds of the last drill. The attack went off without a hitch and somewhat made up for our ambush performance earlier.

The class as a whole was great. I have never had the opportunity to do this under the eyes of instructors who know what they are doing and are passionate about teaching it.  The shoot house class taught how to fight in a house, but this class teaches what you need to get to and from the house.

Team Submariner did really well. They did 6 consecutive days of training with a fitness level that was less than optimum. They showed a great deal of heart, never quit, and got it done. Well done!