Student Review: HEAT Night Operations Nov 15-17: Dimitri
Night Operations Class
Overall score 10 out of 10.
Having been to several HEAT 1 and HEAT 2 classes, which are day time courses, I had a chance to experience some of the criteria of the HEAT classes at Night Operations course in almost total darkness. What a huge difference the darkness makes, when fire teams are moving through the landscape on the way to the objective, assuming the positions of the support by fire and assault teams, coordination between the teams without being able to see each other (except the flashing IR strobe lights). This was truly an eye opening experience, which left me with much thought about day versus night operations. Some of the major takeaways from this class for me are: Equipment, practice of using the equipment, understanding that one will not just grab the NVG’s from the box to go off into the night to own it.
I used PVS 14 in conjunction with OTAL-C IR laser, with Surefire Remote Switch Dual Pad, both PVS 14 & OTAL-C did their job how they were supposed to. There was one issue I had with my OTAL-C laser first night of the class. I could not get the laser on target as fast as I needed to, I had to press the IR button very hard to activate it. Also at times, I had trouble finding the IR button immediately. This issue was caused primarily by the thickness of my glove, especially on my thumb (finger which I used to activate the IR laser). Second night of the class, I have changed my gloves to thinner ones, and the issue of not being able to press the button did not occur again. My speed of placing the laser on target needs to improve, which will be done at home with more frequent practices.
It takes time to be efficient with the use of NVG’s, IR lasers, IR illuminators, and how to use them to their maximum capabilities. The Night Operations class has helped me to see my limitations, as well as my weaknesses in using this equipment. I would suggest to anyone who wishes to learn and use this equipment properly to take this course.
Practice using your equipment over and over and over, and then do it again. At first it was little bit awkward to get used to having one eye looking through the PVS unit and the other eye looking out into the darkness. With time, my eyes got better at seeing what was around me further away (looking through the PVS unit) and what was near (seeing with my other eye’s natural vision). Movement with NVG’s is naturally slower, as it is dark outside and the depth perception changes with the use of NVG’s. I could see at a distance, but not up close so much as the near distance was little bit blurry without adjusting the NVG’s focus constantly. At times, I did not use my PVS unit at all for the Objective Rally Points approaches or departures, as it was it was bright enough to see where I was going with the help of the moon. However, the moon will not always will be present, and tracking in total darkness will be much more difficult. The only way to get past these inconveniences is to practice walking around at night with NVG’s as much as possible.
The class content was interesting, useful, and class appropriate. Each day we spent part of the time on the flat range, working on certain drills with the help of NVG’s, IR lasers, and IR illuminators. We were also shown the proper use of weapon mounted lights, their limitations during smoke/fog/dust in the air, as well as the proper deployment of weapon mounted lights. Jungle walk in the dark was great and one of my favorite drills at the Night Operations Class. Ivan’s sneak up on you in the dark!
Fire and movement in the dark was also practiced, and it is NOT an easy thing to do, especially when trying to stay on line with your fire team during bounds and the assault on the objective. Again, PRACTICE is required to get better and be more efficient.
Max and Scott did nice job of organizing this class and it’s criteria.
At no time did I feel unsafe or anything close to that. Both instructors were on top of their game and helped each one of students in various ways. Other attendees in this class were professional, aware, and very safe to be around with hot weapons at night. Thank you to all of them for showing up for this class.
I will be signing up for the Night Operations class again next time without a doubt, and hopefully will not be fumbling around as much as I did trying to locate the IR laser button on the tape switch.