Student Review: HEAT Reconnaissance August – Rich

My context for this review is 17 years active duty military with career-long intelligence analysis and production experience, the last 5 years being in special operations. I had the pleasure of being the only student to have repeated this course so far. I took it when it was first introduced as a 3-day course, and then recently in its revamped 4-day format. The fact that I came back for more should be a testament to the training and the instructors, Scott and Dave. Bottom line up front: this is a class way apart from the typical MVT training paradigm; it demands a much higher physical and mental capacity than simple “run and gun” instruction, and I suggest you take some time to consider what you’re looking for in tactics and combat training before committing to HEAT Recon. Let me unpack that…

As compared to small unit tactics courses, whether at MVT or the ubiquitous ranges and compounds nationwide, a reconnaissance class needs to instill a mindset and methodology both parcel to and separate from combat arms. The stage and premise of HEAT Recon is certainly combat-oriented and supposing a hostile environment, but you as the student need to realize that even a single round fired will likely blow the mission, and get you and your team killed. For most MVT students, this is a 180-degree departure from the warrior mindset we’ve worked so hard to achieve. The goal is to NOT SHOOT, but instead take that devotion to self-preservation and team success and convert to slow, precise, and determined movement, while committing every detail to memory and staying alive and free long enough to pass what you learned onto those who can win the fight. This is where the advanced physical stamina and mental acuity play their part. You’ll find yourself exhausted before even laying eyes on your objective, pressed to gather your intelligence in that ragged and spent state. If you’re being chased after compromise, you need to think your way to some decisive tactics to buy escape time, or depend on your back and legs to carry you and your 80 lbs kit to safety over rough and often unfamiliar terrain. There’s some brutality involved in this game.

During the original 3-day HEAT Recon course, day 1 was classroom instruction aimed at teaching basic intelligence gathering, quiet and resolute movement, silent communication, and very hard decision making (what if you’re compromised by an innocent child? how do you react? your whole team is now at risk. what are you going to do?…). Day 2 was a practical exercise in information gathering and how to properly debrief it, complete with mission planning. Day 3 was a second mission, but with much higher stress and adrenaline, which really drove the ideas home. The newer 4-day design spread the classroom instruction over the first 2 days, which was a good change, but still excluded so much. To give you some perspective, typical military reconnaissance specialists receive 4-6 months of training at a minimum before ever seeing their first pump. Scott took what he had, what typical students could handle, and made a recon course, more like a primer, that I believe fills a marked gap in today’s commercial tactics market. Long range reconnaissance is a skill atrophied in today’s military, but is destined to make a comeback with our current superpower competition, and needless to mention with domestic community defense needs. Here we have a vanguard in passing that knowledge. You won’t leave a recon expert, but you will know exactly what to study and practice to become that expert, and have some shoulder knots and blisters to show for it.

Overall, I highly recommend the training. It is immediately applicable to my day job and is simply my idea of fun. Please adhere to my warning of being physically fit and willing to delve into the academics of intelligence mission planning and execution. This time, your eyes and legs will multiply the force way more than your rifle.


Next Reconnaissance Class is October 15 – 18. Space Available.