In the spirit of the Dunning-Kruger Effect Mosby details here. If NPT members are to get better at what they do to protect their families and communities, they must objectively look at their corporate ‘knowledge’ and improve on what they believe is ‘good enough’.
Noob’s question during patrolling class: “So, what do you do when you think you’ve been ambushed?”
A good, valid question. A new member of the team/patrol should be taught effective immediate action drills for this, as well as other common situations encountered in a SHTF situation. Let’s check out the conversation for a moment:
Older, more experienced teacher: “Well, the way we did it back in the day was to have everyone in the kill zone immediately assault the ambush position screaming and yelling and shooting. They told us that’d give us the best chance at survival.”
Noob: “How did you know it was an ambush and not a perimeter or something?”
Older, more experienced teacher: “Son, when all hell breaks loose without warning, and the shooting is coming from one side, it’s an ambush!”
Noob: “So did it work?”
Older, more experienced teacher: “In training it did.”
First, as the above photo indicates, a well executed ambush will ensure very few, if anyone, inside the kill zone survives, and unfortunately, in many AO’s today, a common assumption of indigenous teams participating in counter-ambush immediate action drills (IAD) (and previously standard doctrine of all US forces prior to the adoption of MW) is anytime a team/patrol is engaged without warning they are in an ambush and have only one of two options for survival:
- If the incoming fire is judged to be 50 meters or closer to the patrol, it is presumed to be a ‘Near Ambush’. All members of the patrol immediately turn into the ambush and assault (rush) upright through the enemy ambush. In more contemporary times, this is where you hear the shrill yells of ‘contact left/front/right/rear’ along with the obligatory catapult into the depth of the kill zone.
- If incoming fire is judged to be 51 meters or more distant from the patrol, it is presumed to be a ‘Far Ambush’. The members of the team/patrol within the kill zone take cover and return fire forming a base of fire while the patrol members not in the immediate kill zone rendezvous, form a maneuver element and attempt to flank and assault through the enemy position.
No consideration is given to the very real possibility that the patrol may have encountered an enemy LP, OP, sentry post, or prepared perimeter defensive position. See above graphic.
Little or no employment of returning fire, taking cover, and returning aimed fire is typically employed, or taught (with very few exceptions), especially by indigenous teams demonstrating their expertise on ‘the net’.
In order to apply the principles of maneuver warfare consistent with indigenous team capabilities, changes from the attrition warfare style of reacting to ambushes must be adopted for a team/patrol to have the possibility of surviving the encounter. Especially if that encounter is not comprised of an ambush, but is instead a prepared enemy defense. With that in mind, consider the following base line for developing effective Ambush IAD’s.
Why modify traditional anti-ambush IA drills?
- Worth repeating: The patrol coming under fire may be in an ambush or it may have come into chance contact with an enemy sentry post, listening post, or a prepared position.
- If the ambush is any further away than just a very few yards, the best chance for survival members in the primary kill zone have for survival is to drop to the ground, fire, move quickly by crawling to cover and again return fire on visible targets. From there, they can either move to a pre-determined (rehearsed IAD to movement to designated Rally Point Enroute (RPE) rendezvous, move to flank the ambush position once it is known the enemy occupied site is not part of a larger enemy perimeter, or break contact and move to an RPE for regrouping activities.
- If the team/patrol attempts to assault a prepared position, it will most likely (99% chance) be destroyed.
- If the team/patrol attempts to assault through a well prepared ambush in an upright position (running, firing, and screaming as taught in AW teams/groups) that has mines and belt fed weapons to employ, the team/patrol will (100% chance) be destroyed. The odds of ‘old school’ ambush IAD aren’t very good.
- If the patrol attempts to maneuver on the “ambush” and finds it is attempting to flank a prepared position, it could find itself attempting to assault the perimeter of a prepared defensive position sited in-depth with interlocking fields of fire and mutual support, and again, the patrol will (100% chance) be destroyed.
Note: The following distances are provided for training use only; like anything in the world of SUT, everything should be flexible to meet the current situation.
MW concepts provide a new Near Ambush Definition: An ambush initiated at a range 23 feet (7 meters) or closer to the team/patrol. Basically, their right on top of you when they open up. (This can be described as one of those, “Oh, SHIT!” moments in life that must have an instantaneous reaction in order to come out the other side more or less in one piece, but know that the odds aren’t very good. Nevertheless, any chance is better than no chance.)
Suggested IAD modifications for all ambushes initiated at ranges of 23 feet (7 meters) or less from the team/patrol (again, when your team is hit this close, your actions must be immediate, violent, and overwhelming–that’s why IAD’s must be practiced until they’re second nature).
- If you can see a target, immediately engage (remember, they’re 23 feet or closer to you) as fast and as accurately as you possibly can while at the same time attempting to get to a less exposed position. Your primary mission now is to put as many rounds into the Zombie position as you can, change mags and repeat. Remember, you’re in the kill zone here, and you may be hit already, but not possibly out of the fight yet.
- Members outside the immediate kill zone, but in near proximity, should fire immediately into the suspected enemy position (anything that looks like it would or could hide an enemy), then drop, take cover and then employ well aimed shots at exposed enemy troops. Make sure IFF procedures are followed; fratricide is a bad thing.
- If no enemy are exposed, but the vegetation around the ambush site indicates that there is a good chance of hitting hidden enemy, shoot low (5 to 10 inches from ground level) to help members caught in the immediate kill zone increase their survivability.
- Guide fire on the leading members of the patrol within the kill zone and shift fire as they move forward. No signals are necessary.
- Members caught in the immediate kill zone should move attempt to gain fire superiority into the enemy shooting “controlled pairs” on enemy soldiers as seen.
It follows then, that a new Far Ambush definition would be an ambush initiated more than 7 meters away from the team patrol.
IAD modification for all ambushes further than 7 meters (23 feet) from the patrol (terrain and vegetation dependent) could be:
- Drop to ground, crawl to cover, ie, that which will stop enemy rounds from penetrating your body (could be a small depression in the ground-your NPT should be trained in the identification and use of micro-terrain).
- The PL and team leaders should not attempt to ‘bound’ through the ambush/position for the same reasons listed regarding prepared positions.
- Return fire only when a target is seen and only when you are sure you can drop the target. Immediately determine if you should crawl to different cover as the report of your shot will provide the enemy with your general or specific location.
- Move in the direction of the last designated RPE or as instructed by the PL, assemble with remaining team/patrol members, and wait for the senior member issue a FRAG order, which could be anything from continue to break contact to a hasty attack.
Bounding through an Objective does not work when under fire (especially when the patrol is facing belt feld weapons, interlocking fields of fire, and other sundry goodies) therefore, it is not used unless only sporadic, un-aimed fire is encountered.
- Patrol members choosing to “rush” will only do so from cover to cover, and only for 3 seconds or less duration.
- Each patrol member has the authority to determine how and when he will move; he is in the best position to see what cover is available. Ordering a man to rush or assault into belt fed weapons does not do anything but hasten his death and the weakening of the team/patrol.
AO and/or Team Specific Modifications:
Once all patrol members have learned and rehearsed above to the point that it’s second nature, all participants will be given the opportunity to suggest improvements and modifications so that at least 3 alternatives are rehearsed and ready for use.