Before I get started on today’s lessons learned, I’ve got to make a quick comment about the local panhandlers in Richmond. Like most cities in the United States, there are people with their cardboard signs on every street corner asking for spare change and adding some reference to God. I’m from San Diego and I’m against giving any of these people money. Just like anything else you feed, it will grow. I wish I could put my hand out and not have to work, but if we all did it there would be no one to give us their hard-earned money. Anyway, the street people in San Diego AT LEAST stand-up and ask for your money. Every single person I walked by while I’ve been here was sitting on their ass! Come on, get motivated if you want money!
So today was spent in two separate Lessons Learned briefings presented by two very experienced SWAT leaders. The morning session was Lessons Learned from Hostage Rescue Operations, while the afternoon session covered Lessons Learned from Barricaded Subject Operations.
Both of the sessions covered a lot of overlapping material with the main difference being that Hostage Rescue Operations obviously have someone being held against their will and all the additional problems that come with that. There is a much higher consideration that must be given to the speed of the operation and the decision to make entry to defuse the situation.
One problem common to SWAT operation is not understanding or underestimating the threat. Some common thoughts are:
- “No one’s in there”
- “We just need two guys”
- “They don’t have any weapons”
- “They’re not trained like we are”
- “We’ve never been shot at before”
To be effective at what we do, we need to train for, plan for and expect the worst case scenario. But the other side of this tactical coin is overstating the threat. Some common statements might include:
- “There must be 100 guys in there”
- “These guys are ready for a fight”
- “The guy refuses to come out or comply”
Without the action-imperative that I talked about on day three, make sure you understand the true threat before making any tactical decisions. You need to be fully trained and ready to execute multiple options in any tactical situation. If the only tool you have is a hammer, every situation you’re presented with will look like a hammer.
Look at other options available before making a dynamic entry:
- Breach and hold
- Tactical canine
- Not training with outside sources
- Not consistent
- Lack of specialized training
- Over emphasis on certain topics
- Training on topics that will never be used
- Poor use of time
- Lack of realistic training program and oversight
The next problem is poor communication. We all know that communications are the first thing to go wrong in any operation, but do you train with comms? Is there a requirement?
One of the most dangerous times during any operations is during the transition from movement to the threat to commencement of actions on objective. How much training do you do for this part of tactical operations? Is it even a requirement to practice this vital step in your training?
That’s it for today. Tonight I’m attending the Awards Banquet and hoping to win one of the guns they are raffling off!