Tag Archives: SWAT

tactical preschool 65

This lesson will cover an alternative room clearing option from the “room flood” technique most commonly seen.

The “room flood” is the one you see in all the movies and cop shows. The door blows open and all the good guys “flood” into the room, shooting down the bad guys…



The idea is that “speed, surprise and violence of action” will overcome any resistance.

There is something to be said for the technique. The SAS perfected it and most US Special Operations Forces and Elite SWAT Teams still train and use it effectively. But to work when people are actually shooting at you as you enter, you need to be HIGHLY trained and willing to accept losses. In essence you are stepping into a room with the bad guys and shooting it out.

For SHTF situations like hostage rescue where you HAVE to get in and get in fast or else the hostages are going to get killed, this is probably still the best basic method (incorporating other things like window porting, sniper shots, diversions, etc.).

However, when used as a default method for all SWAT entries like high risk warrant execution, single person barricades and other less exigent reasons…well…you are asking people to wade into possible gunfire, expecting them accept losses and “drive on”.

For the average “operator” I don’t see that being something that will work out too well. Over and over again we have seen situations where the team meets gunfire at the breach and bogs down in the fatal funnel:

An alternative method of room clearing gaining ground is commonly called the “limited penetration” technique.

This is a concept that combines two previous lessons.

In Tactical Preschool 11 we covered the basics of room entry/room clearing.

In Tactical Preschool 46 we talked about how sometimes it’s wiser to deal with an armed subject from outside the room rather than trying force your way inside with him.

In this method, instead of rushing into the room to clear the funnel, the operators slice the pie from opposite sides of the door and engage any threat from outside the room. If the room is clear, they button hook the door and clear the corners and then proceed to the next entry point.

lim pen


This is becoming one of the preferred techniques with the Israelis and the South Africans. If you go to the 1:28 point of the following video you can see the South Africans training in it….live fire….with an instructor inside….

Some detractors of the method don’t like the “loitering in the fatal funnel” aspect of the technique, but I believe there’s something to be said for the idea that perhaps…instead of trying to force a group of armed men into an enclosed space with a bad guy…it may be a better idea to deal with him from the door.

Magpul “Action Sport”

Magpul PTS Dynamic Action Sport from john lawrence on Vimeo.

A nicely put together video that shows the training options/benefits available with Airsoft equipment.

While I’m not sold on the competition aspect due to “training scar” concerns, the target systems and equipment can provide many man-hours of training in a shoot house environment without the expense of live ammunition or the safety concerns.

police militarization

Police machine gun
Police machine gun (Photo credit: amphalon)

The Radley Balko book “Rise of the Warrior Cop” has been making a lot of media hay lately and I have discussed the subject in various discussion forums. To paraphrase those discussions I have the following to say on the subject.

I agree that 10 man departments forming SWAT teams is a problem, but I also think Balko is going in with an agenda, cherry picking data and exhibiting a little confirmation bias.

My opinion…it’s not gear that “militarizes” police. Its their actions with or without the gear. If I kick down your door and storm your house in street clothes pointing a revolver it’s not legally different than if Im wearing a helmet and carrying a subgun. The overkill stories being bandied about are ALL about police leadership decision making. The trappings and vehicles are just a diversion from the fact that storming an office building for wood importation records would be overkill if it was done by uniformed patrolmen.

If anyone is truly interested in the roots of PD’s “gearing up” I think they need to look into the after action analysis of the Mumbai attack. That attack (in conjunction with domestic mass shootings) plays a LARGE role in US police forces trying to prepare themselves to deal with such situations. I sat through a number of regional meetings on it. As the Bank of America incident illustrated: Two domestic bank robbers outgunned cops with nothing but pistols and shotguns. What would 4 dedicated attackers with AK’s be able to do in your Town/City with officers restricted to Barney Fife equipment?

This is not to say that cops should be walking the streets CARRYING rifles..and they really don’t, they are just kept in cars in case of need…or doing routine patrol in Bearcats. But we need to balance preparedness with departmental policies of use. Which is the REAL issue here IMO….

I have seen pictures of turn of the century (1918 etc) cops with motorcycle mounted machine guns and 1940’s cops with armored vehicles. I don’t think this trend is unprecedented, or that having the gear is necessarily wrong. But if we cant use it correctly then someone will have to set policy limits on its use.

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tactical preschool 55

Surprise! Surprise! One of the tactical “must-haves” is surprise.

Surprise is one of the tools you use to crack into your opponents OODA loop. At one time or another all of us have been caught off guard, startled, and experienced that split second of FREEZE where your brain is resetting to it’s surroundings. That is the ideal “surprise” you would like to give an opponent, it gives you the proverbial “drop” on the bad guy.

There are different ways you can accomplish this, there are tools and equipment like lights and NFDD’s (explained below) that can be employed, but sometimes simply doing something unexpected will work just as well. You can approach from unexpected routes, you can yell, you can make a sudden and unexpected move or attack…the possibilities are limited only by the imagination.

One of the godsends in tactical development was the Noise Flash Diversionary Device, or NFDD. The NFDD, commonly referred to as a “Flash Bang”, is a grenade that generates a bright flash and a loud concussion. Deployed in tactical operations it can be used to distract a bad guy long enough to pass the fatal funnel.

For illustration purposes, I am showing a 2 man entry here. Most tactical units have a special purpose breaching team that will orchestrate breaching and the introduction of a diversionary device.

Many times,  a barricaded gunman “knows” that the SWAT guys are going to come eventually. He thinks “When they come in, Im shooting the first guy who comes through that door.” When the door opens and the bang comes in and detonates the guy goes “what the…”, and before he can re-Orient on the door the entry team is in and shooting. They broke into the BG’s OODA  at the second “O”.

One of the interesting things about NFDD’s and OODA is that when you are the one throwing them you can oftentimes “Eat the Bang”. This means that since they know whats coming, tactical operators can enter in almost exactly as the NFDD detonates. You may only get a split second startle out of the bad guy so the best thing is to make the most of it.

Conversely, even though most bad guys (who watch TV and movies like the rest of us) KNOW that a Flash Bang will probably be coming, it still will shock the crap out of them. This is because the moment it will go off is unknown and most BG’s have never been exposed to a NFDD before. If you have a hard core bad guy who has been through a SWAT stand-off and been exposed to NFDD’s before, you may want to take that into account.

Some great diversionary tools available today include “bang poles”. These are long poles that allow attachment of NFDD’s to one end. They can be held up to second story windows, held over walls and fences or rammed straight through a window to detonate in the middle of a room vs on the floor; where it’s possible the device could roll under furniture and lessen it’s effect.

The concept of causing a diversion on one side or level of a structure while entering another can be translated to routine patrol functions in many ways. I have tricked warrant suspects who are known to run by placing officers in adjacent rear yards of the target house. When the officers approach the front door and knock…”Mr. DA (dumb-ass) Knucklehead” runs out the back, jumps the fence and SURPRISE!

The real skill with this tactical stuff is to recognize the “essence” vs. the particular technique. Don’t look at this lesson as a class on NFDD’s. Consider the principles in play.

Musashi said:

These things cannot be explained in detail. From one thing, know ten thousand things. When you attain the Way of strategy there will not be one thing you cannot see. You must study hard.


tactical preschool 47:the transition

North Penn Tactical Response Team of Montgomer...
Image via Wikipedia
If you’re in the middle of a firefight with your carbine and it goes “click” (or nothing) when it should go “bang”, you have what is known as a malfunction. Your options then are to either clear the malfunction or transition to another weapon. Otherwise you can use the darn thing as a club.
If you are engaged in a long-range fight (say 75yd.+ or 50yd+ and he’s not maneuvering on you) and you have some cover, clearing the malfunction may make better sense, as hitting a target that is shooting back at that distance with a pistol is a crap shoot and a rifle will always trump a handgun. The generic method of doing that with a magazine fed semi-auto can be remembered as SPORTS.

S-Slap the magazine to make sure it’s seated properly. (Sometimes you may feel the bolt close on a live round when you do this and you may just decide to try shooting again.)
P-Pull back the bolt.
O-Observe the chamber as you Pull. Look to see if a round is ejected or an empty casing. Look into the chamber to see if there is a round stuck in there or a double feed.
R-Release the bolt, letting it go forward.
T-Tap the forward assist on weapons that have them (this one may be omitted if yours doesn’t have one).

Here is a video example:

If the fight is up-close and personal you wont have time to bother with this. If you are within H2H range you may just consider going bayonet style on the guy with your long gun. If you have the reactionary gap and a secondary weapon, its time to go to it.

There are various methods to do this, each with its Pros and Cons.

1. If you are on a sling system, swing the carbine down and away with the weak hand while drawing pistol with the strong one. You can start shooting with one hand if you have to and then bring up the support when you can.


  • Fast
  • Keeps the carbine on you so you can clear it and get it back into the fight when the immediate threat is taken care of.


  • Leaves the weapon attached to you and can be used as a “handle” to drag you by the BG.
  • It can tie up your legs and hamper mobility.
  • It can be harder to use the carbine as an impact weapon if needs be.

2. Drop the carbine and draw the handgun.


  • This means the carbine is unslung which makes it easier to change shoulders and fight with the carbine as an impact weapon.
  • Slings can’t be used to drag you down.


  • You may have to move away from the tossed weapon. Odds of getting it back “up” are slim then.
  • If you drop your weapon into mud, snow or sand it may just make clearing the malfunction later worse.

3. Hold the carbine to the chest with the weak hand and shoot one-handed with the strong.


  • Same as above but you add keeping the carbine with you to them.


  • Pretty obvious, you can only shoot one-handed and both hands are full.


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urban warfare center


The Urban Warfare Center is a training facility I just recently discovered.  Too bad its all the way out in friggin Utah. If I had the money and motivation I would love to open one of these places with the ability to run “force on force” training AND have it be live fire and explosive breaching training capable as well.


tactical preschool 44

Most buildings have multiple rooms, and those rooms can have many doors or openings into other rooms.

In this example the operators start with a basic 2-man entry into the first room.

As the number two man begins to “run his wall” he starts to systematically “slice the pie” into the adjacent room. He sees that the far corner is clear and notices a closed door. He may then hand signal his partner that he observes this door.

There are various ways that the operators can approach this door-less opening. The number one man could cross over to the opposite corner and run the wall to stack behind the number two for entry into the next room, and this may be the preferable method for consistency sake; or if there was a door. Otherwise, he could run his own wall to set-up on the opposite side of the doorway. Doing this allows the operators to clear most of the next room except for the immediate corners.

Since there is no door to deal with, another method of entry that can be used here is known as the “criss-cross”.

The criss-cross is a fast yet risky entry method. You both need to be well trained as the chance of bumping into or tripping each other is higher than it is in “stacked” methods of room entry. It’s important that the operators signal who will be moving first as the most common screw-up here is both trying to get through the “fatal funnel” at the same time.

Once the corners are clear and you have reached your points of domination you will then have to set-up on the closed door.

Except this time, instead of moving down the wall, the operator furthest from the door will move across the room to stack behind the point man so that they can make entry on the closed door from the proper side.

Of course all of this precludes having to clear around objects like furniture, closets and other things that may actually be IN these rooms. Keep in mind that these are tactical basics. Real life requires flexibility within your framework of fundamentals.

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