Today’s lesson is a little more advanced…not much, but a little.
Sometimes when you are working with a group of friends it is common to move in a column. This is a good technique for moving everybody efficiently from one point to another, especially when you don’t know exactly where your opponents are. The main advantages of this formation are speed, ease of control and all around security.
If you are moving through dangerous areas where you could get attacked from any side, it is easier to divide up areas of responsibility and have eyes looking out 360 degrees while in column. If you are suddenly attacked you can all react swiftly to face the threat vs. having to scramble a bunch of bodies from here and there. In column, nobody can wander off on their own because you are simply following the dude in front of you. It’s also easy for the guy in front (AKA “Point Man”) to send messages back to everybody via hand signals. This makes this formation ideal for controlling movement in dark environments or in areas where its difficult to see very far.
You will see this often in SWAT operations because it is the most efficient way to get an entire assault team from their last point of cover to their entry point swiftly and safely while keeping everybody in their assigned positions.
One of the disadvantages of the column formation is that it is difficult to engage targets that are immediately in front or behind the column. In the illustration below you see that not everybody can see or engage a target and when the bullets start flying, people behind you can (and often do) start slinging lead past your coconut at the bad guys. If they or you make an unexpected move, it is going to be a bad day. It is also easier for the bad guys to take your entire team in enfilade. Which is fancy French for “you are lined up like turkeys”. All he has to do is keep shooting straight on and chances are he will hit a few of you.
Unfortunately, even with some experienced tactical teams it is not uncommon for the entire “stack” to continue into the assault or retreat while still in column. There is a natural, and dangerous tendency for people to feel safer while bunched up and if you are trained to move solely “in stack”..well you will do what you train yourself to do.
A better way to deal with this situation is to get “online” with your opponents while seeking positions of cover. This way you can all efficiently engage targets without screening each others fire.
You will also note from my illustration that the good guys are not trying to hit the opponent directly in front of them. When possible, this is a good approach for two reasons. One: you don’t have to stick your head out from around cover so much to engage the guy directly in front of you and Two: it is natural for your opponent to “tunnel vision” on the guy directly in front of him. Sending the enemy some fire from the flank takes advantage of this lack of Observation and Orientation (damn OODA again!) on you…and it is always better to be shooting at a bad guy who isn’t aware of you.
Once your target goes down, you can then shift yourself or your fire to “join the party” on the remaining bad guys.
Good for you…bad for them.