TEAM: The Class Syndrome



I recently wrote a post titled ‘Leader & Led‘. In a comment on that post, Bergmann wrote the following:

On a serious note many times you get stuck with ppl that don’t want to be led, but rather have their own nefarious and demented reasons for showing up. Running a school give you a chip in the game that guys trying to coordinate a team (I’m not a leader) and depending on volunteers will never have. For a school, ppl have payed money to be there. It’s as good as fidelity bracelet in many ways.

This is a really good point, and one well worth considering.

It also ties in with some observations Diz made about his attempts to train a  group, and how it really doesn’t work. I think this is probably a larger problem than is acknowledged. I have heard plenty of anecdotes about how people find it hard to get a group together, keep it together, and even more so: how to train effectively.

There are probably many reasons for this, but the main one is likely to be that deep down the group members don’t take training seriously. They think it will all be OK on the day (night) and they will rise to the occasion.

As a  training school, MVT has the advantage in the creation of team, and people behaving themselves. Life is easy for me, because I don’t have to herd cats: students have traveled, given up treasure, invested their time. They trust the ability and experience of the instructors(s). They are told to put ego aside and use the training as an information exchange. They are training at a designed facility that is purpose built for training value. On the other hand, attempts by individuals to train groups can fall flat – for many reasons.

We had a discussion before about the philosophy of one person coming to MVT and then taking the training back to his group. This will have limited success, and will depend on the ability of that person to assimilate, instruct and pass on the information. This does have one advantage though – that if he has assimilated the information correctly, it reduces the potential arguments over what is right and wrong, because it has the weight of a training school behind it (though I get questions all the time from alumni groups, clearing up disagreements over methods and SOPs etc).

Of course, better to put your group in its entirety through MVT training, so everyone gets the most effective training from the source and it puts everyone on the same page. This can be done via open enrollment classes, or by arranging private classes. As an aside, I am looking to offer private CUTT training classes, where you have me come out and I train your group together.

Outside of the temporary discipline of a training school like MVT, it can be hard on the trainer. They have to get everyone to show up, they may have issues of credibility as a trainer and face challenges to the training that they are putting out, and there may be motivational issues from their team. I also see a lot of this sort of hokey-style training going on, which often lacks relevance because the instructor has failed to transfer the right lessons across from military service, which may in itself be limited/outdated: those field days where people do mini-patrols and perhaps extract a casualty and call in a 9-line – to who? Points for effort, but how effective is this? Bottom line is you will benefit from professional training.

Outside of the discipline of the military, or a professional training course, you have to be careful of the quality of training that you are getting. Also, individuals often become ‘experts’ when in fact they were never any such thing in their service time. This is prevalent in the civilian training world as well as the contracting world – I get anecdotes from Chris about some guy who won’t STFU on team training and who insists that pirouetting in a peel is a legitimate move instead of the safe/workable mantra of head-body-weapon. The guy won’t shut up. He’s an expert, as is everyone else. Unfettered ego.

Of course, lack of appropriate qualification and experience as a trainer leads to copy-catting. There has been a fair bit of this going on off the back of MVT training, but what I am really referring to is those who assimilate the ‘tacticool’ training methods / TTP’s and don’t know any better. I’ve seen ‘militia’ shows on TV where the training consists of this sort of ‘tacticool’ adaptations of square range training, or even poor current military/police TTP’s, that lacks utility as SUT (small unit tactics). It’s a problem.

The flip side to this is where trainers don’t have the experience, or it is dated, and they insist on teaching ‘old school ‘ methods, or maybe stuff straight from an FM, without the benefit of both including lessons from more recent combat experience, and also adapting these methods to a civilian environment.

From all of that, you should take away the need to be very careful where you get your training from. Research it. Once you have some training, the next issue is how to train your group. Of course, my best suggestion is bring them all to MVT, or bring MVT to you! Thee are a handful of other reputable trainers out there who will come to you. I hear good things from students about Mosby, but don’t really have a frame of reference on any others. . But failing that, what to do? I’m not sure I have the solutions for you, because it really depends on who you are and who you have in your group. Getting hooked up with alumni from the forum in your AO is always a good idea, because the fact that they have trained at MVT means that have received sound training and have good motivation to train. There are groups out there training and coming back every now and then to MVT for more.

Now, I get the whole thing about making the training suit the level of who you have, and inducting people gently, like your wife etc, so you don’t scare them off. But there has to be a rubber-meets-the-road time when training has to be done seriously and effectively to make you combat effective. You can’t pussy-foot around the issue forever. Thus you need a group of people out of which you can form a team, and which must train together. You have to set expectations that this will take up time and at times be hard work, and if they are not up for that, then they are out. They must do PT and get in shape. Because at the end of the day, you are either ready or you are not, and the enemy doesn’t give a shit. If you make it easy, he will kill you and rape your women.

If people don’t:

  • Take the threat of SHTF/need for tactical training seriously.
  • Don’t ultimately respect your ability as a trainer.
  • Won’t do PT.
  • Wont reliably show up for training.
  • Wont shelve their ego in order to be a team player during training.
  • Won’t STFU about their 5 minutes in boot camp 25 years ago, and how they did it back then.
  • Won’t stop second guessing the SOPs you are putting across.
  • Won’t quit whining about training being hard, and sweaty, or whatever else is getting sand in their holes.
  • Or are some sort of provocateur, instigator, or whatever.

Then don’t even bother. Perhaps they will serve as useful sentries once the SHTF, or porch snipers. There is absolutely no point in trying to take these muppets on a patrol or any kind of mission.

I know, this is the problem that most of you face.

I can’t solve it for you, other than to offer training.