You are not a Light Infantryman?

I have noticed a theme running through certain elements of the ‘Liberty community’ concerning the aspect of being a Light Infantryman. In essence, it appears to be a reaction against tactical training. The thought being that you, if you are called upon to survive in a ‘WROL’ situation, are not an infantryman in the sense of being in a military unit, and thus you should therefore disregard the skills and training that a light infantryman might undergo.


In my opinion, that is simply another defense mechanism used by those who do not wish to do the heavy lifting of training and maintaining the skills of a light infantryman. It is moral cowardice.

How so?

Let me put it this way. If you imagine a skilled infantry or special operations veteran – someone who stays fit and keeps their skills sharp, or perhaps even not so sharp – would you agree that such a person has relevant skills should they be called upon to fight?

I do not think anyone is telling you that ‘come the collapse’ you will be immediately enlisted into an infantry battalion and sent to the front! One of the skills that MVT has brought to the table over the years, in both writings and practical training, is to translate light infantry skills from a ‘big army’ setting into something that would be relevant to civilians in small team or individual combat settings. Indeed, much of what is taught has a basis in light infantry, and a continuation in special and paramilitary operations. Much of what is taught is combat situational awareness which goes along with the individual and team skills.

After all, when we start talking about unconventional (or paramilitary) operations, you should realize that the skills taught are those of the light infantryman. All that is happening is that the light infantry skills are applied by a unconventional force, and not by a conventional light infantry organization. Thus, the unconventional force may have less support assets, and rely more on the pure art of small unit tactics, including raid and ambush. Sound familiar? Sound useful? Thus we are about light infantry skills, rather than being part of a conventional light infantry organization. That this crucial point is missed, tells you a lot about such authors.

After all, if you end up being engaged in combat, you can’t call foul just because you are not in an infantry unit. Combat is combat, you can try and set the conditions all you like, but if you are attacked, or whatever, only skill will help you. Not a legal definition. Incoming rounds are incoming rounds.

The article that set me off on this post was this one: ‘THE MOUNTAIN MAN AS A RIFLEMAN: AN ANALYSIS OF A BETTER SURVIVALIST STRATEGY‘ by NC Scout on American Partisan. Enjoyable article, romantic and lacking in realistic application for most folks. It makes the strong point that these fur trappers were not infantrymen of any type, but rather trappers and scouts for the army. Great. For example, he hammers down the point in this excerpt from the concluding paragraph:

“Where this leaves you, the soul concerned only with protecting his own God-given liberty and posterity, is to view your skills, training, and equipment in a different way than some in the contemporary sense may. The mountain man of yore had no illusion of their place in the world- they were not Infantrymen of any standing army and had no desire to be, had no supply line aside from what was on their backs or could be procured, and above all else, knew wholeheartedly the very fine line they tread between life and death. For some, perhaps that was all part of the thrill of living. But all of the above was and is predicated upon their skill with a rifle; the ability to make the shot under any condition while tired and cold. Simple and effective kit, a good rifle, and the skills to make it all work was, and remains, the most effective model of survival and personal defense versus training to be exactly the opposite. The traditional mountain man scout, both individually and as a team, serves as an effective example of what the survivalist should strive to be. The jack of all trades and master of quite a few, including expert proficiency with his chosen weapon. They were not Infantrymen nor troops of any real kind; simply hard, stubborn, self reliant and skilled men. And you should be also.”

But the previous paragraph stated this (bold mine):

“In the small unit sense, mountain men were team hunters. Each man in the team knew how to move quickly and quietly while assessing terrain. All the skills of team movement, such as knowing where each man in the group is in the hunting party, having an experienced pathfinder and tracker taking lead, and the others watching for any and all signs of danger, all being well versed in land navigation, were exactly the model of small unit prowess that many seek today. Further, they knew when and where to make an effective ambush, whether it was to kill game or getting the better of a team of hostiles.  The ability to see the game first meant the difference between them living another day or dying a very, very miserable death. In that sense their hunting party is synonymous to a type of Light Infantry, where one is hunting and only concerned with winning and withdrawing versus taking and holding terrain for follow on forces.”

And thus the point is made for me, but also missed by the author. When we teach you team small unit tactics, it is as an unconventional force. We teach you as an individual to manipulate and use your rifle. We teach you as a team how to fight. How to assault (which teaches fire and movement), how to break contact. How to conduct close target reconnaissance. How to conduct ambush and raid. Close Quarter Battle. These are all light infantry skills which are also unconventional warfare skills. Ambush and raid are skills of tribal warfare (and the mountain man) – we just teach it better! To argue about semantics or the possible mission of government light infantry troops is irrelevant to the fact that what we are teaching is the art of small unit tactics.

Light infantry small unit tactics are the constant theme of this, which as a concept are applied to whatever organization is using them, according to context, support, and weapon systems in play. In fact, the availability of support assets is one of the main reasons why the art of small unit tactics has been largely lost in the military, because troops no longer maneuver in most cases, but simply ‘call for fire’. That is not SUT.

The real and greater issue here that pertains to your survival is that without training, you really have no clue. That may seem harsh, and it may cause you to push back against me for making that statement, but as a professional tactical trainer I observe this all the time. What we teach you is how to ‘shoot, move and communicate’ which is often quoted, but is not as easy as it sounds. Building simple tactical awareness to function in a combat environment, get your head out of your rifle, and communicate effectively to operate as a team is a fundamental of what we are teaching. The difference between first time students and alumni is striking.

You can build an ideal of a mountain man existence where you have sufficient stand-off where you can always control every contact and engagement, but that is pure fantasy. It is along the lines of the ‘porch sniper’ fantasy. Mostly this boils down to a lack off willingness to get off your ass and do the hard work of building tactical skills…because you think you will be alright on the day, when you engage from your hide at 1000 yards, in your fantasy prepper collapse. An easy test is this – when did you last do effective PT? The answer to that usually informs all before.

In order to train SUT effectively with motivated citizens, you need a good facility. You need experienced instructors, and you need a purpose built and effective course of instruction for the various classes and progression. This is what we have built at MVT over the last five years. Be careful of those who would feel the need to argue that you do not need these skills because you ‘are not a light infantryman.’ What is the motivation of this? Why denigrate combat proven SUT? And by combat proven, we do not mean just within the context of a heavy infantry or mechanized company, which is the example they really appear to be using as the point of reference. To argue against the training of SUT to responsible citizens appears to me to be eerily close to those types in law enforcement (or certain law enforcement trainers) who disparage the need and ability of private citizens to be trained in SUT. They will rail against it, saying there is no need for tactical training, that you do not need that gear, that you do not need that ballistic plate carrier. These are the types who will tell you you do not need to train, and that only certain people should have equipment and weapons. Next, they will be the ones to come for your guns. I do not know why certain types and even trainers within the Liberty community are echoing these arguments, other than to perhaps shore up the egos of the weak who will not invest in themselves to become competent, physically fit, fighters. Or their own egos?

On a related note, I had the recently published ‘MVT Tactical Manual: Small Unit Tactics’ in a sponsored post up on FaceBook. I saw a comment: “I’ll stick with my Ranger Handbook, thanks.” This from a guy who had not read the Tactical Manual, so simply judging a book from a position of ignorance. But this is exactly the issue. Sight unseen, he reflexively goes with the Ranger Handbook, which is a government publication specifically designed for Ranger Battalion use. The RH is a very prescriptive document that has debatable use for a civilian and his team. On the other hand, the MVT Tactical Manual is far more flexible, offers a variety of techniques, and is applicable to any team utilizing SUT, with or without heavy weapons. That is why it was written. People can be their own worst enemy.