To ensure the team succeeds one must practice and train regularly. Due to limitations such as range accessibility, reduced training budgets, scheduling conflicts and time constraints tactical achievement seems questionable. There has to be a viable solution to overcome the above problems. I have found one solution that has worked with many professionals and teams. It is high volume dry training which assists in building and reinforcing individual and group drills.
We proved the effectiveness of high volume repetitive dry training with an inexperienced and unproven infantry section. I was the section commander and chief trainer of the 10 man unit and the plan was a seamless tactical integration of these men into a more experienced, senior organisation.
- Minimal level of individual and team skills with weapons and tactics;
- Insufficient live fire experience in dynamic group tactical scenarios;
- New tactics;
- No team cohesion; and
- Unknown expectations from the senior organization.
So we got right into the training cycle. We ensured our weapons were zeroed and then we started the dry training. We stepped every man down to his basics.
Reaction to Incoming Fire!
We drilled side by side for hours on an open field to the numbers… each of us walking through the steps until every individual on the team was synchronized. When I say “by the numbers” I mean I called out the commands and then movement occurred. Break it down, build it up.
Once we were all in sync, we stepped up to team drills. This was a fast transition due to the volume of individual training. The entire process is slow, methodical and exact. By end of day one we confirmed our progress with 2 man and 4 man basic live fire scenarios. The results were mixed and less than ideal. Under the stress of live rounds and the pressure to perform the 4 man attacks broke down. The issues:
- Communication break down;
- Team members hesitation;
- Individual weapon drills varied; and
- Larger group tactical standard operating procedures were not proficient nor consistent.
The solution, more dry training. The next day we conducted dry training on individual weapon drills, team movements and group communication. We logged 8-10 hours of dry training in the first 48 hour window. Day three started and we linked up with the larger organization to carry on with 8 days of scheduled live fire training. Now, this is not where we stopped.
Once linked up we stepped into their training schedule which put us back in time 48hrs. We found ourselves confirming our rifle zero and participating in 4 man live attacks again. This time our 4 man team’s performance was much better. The movement across the battle space was smooth, engagements on threats was aggressive and consistent, communication was effective and the assault element maneuvers were proficient.
The team members recognized the transformation from the time spent running the drills. The next check point was 48 hours out with the mounted mobile section attack. No one in the team, excluding myself, had ever worked extensively, fought out of or around armoured vehicles. The unknown put the pressure back on the team. I had a plan. Every day we stepped the dry training back and built our way back up and one step past. In this process I introduced a new concept with the vehicle.
We trained for hours every spare chance we could. No worries on our end because the effort and focus was paying off tenfold. By the days end we were slated for the second last battle run live fire section attack. The section had rehearsed individual and group skills and tactics for so many hours they were now comfortable with their responsibilities, fully compliant and focused on the team’s objectives. We mounted up and rolled out for their first full scale live fire mobile section attack.
Success! The team hit the ground, spread out and with controlled speed and violence closed with and neutralized all targets. With increased man and vehicle fire power the verbal communication in the group was difficult. With a single-minded mission focus and a full understanding of tactical expectations required of all members, the objective was properly assaulted and the location was professionally secured.
I departed the infantry section 3 days ahead of the final training attack. The second and third in command of the infantry section carried the team forward in those days. As reported back to me in the weeks to follow, their performance was exemplary and they ranked near the top over the other few hundred men involved in the training cycle. Why the success? High Volume Repetitive Dry Training. They each worked very hard to earn their spot and each of them stepped away a stronger, better soldier from the effort they put forth as a newly formed tactical team. Good job!
This is not ground breaking, it is a reminder that it takes personal discipline and a great deal of effort when focusing on training. Make easy adjustments and be flexible to change thus allowing the team to build and grow in a positive direction. Success will be achieved!