It’s interesting that we get asked from time to time, “besides the ‘basics’, what other classes do you offer?” from prospective students who readily admit they don’t have a good grasp of what we consider ‘basic’ to performing as an effective member of a NPT or on their own in a routine situation where at least the electricity is on and there is a modicum of ‘Rule of Law’.
Basics that are inadvertently ignored include but are not limited to:
- Consistent, effective physical conditioning among team members.
- Capability to effectively communicate between team members in VHF/UHF/CB/FRS/MURS spectrums.
- Capability to evaluate and select general purpose equipment.
- Commonality of equipment/defensive carbines between team/group members.
- Capability to maintain daily routine without ‘normal’ amenities (water pressure, electricity, hygiene, shelter)
- Capability to achieve fundamental marksmanship skill mastery.
- Capability to perform effective/quiet individual & team movement.
- Capability to effectively camouflage & conceal individual/team in any environment.
- Capability to conduct a security patrol as a team effectively.
- Capability to read/plot topographical maps of local area.
- Comprehension and application of Effective Concepts of Area Defense.
There are more, but these are foundational skills, and are either boring to learn and practice, or overlooked because they are so very basic.
And that’s where many folks who truly desire to set up an effective NPT go ‘high and right’. The basics must be dealt with prior to going a bit more ‘high speed’, because it’s literally the foundation upon which your team will learn and perform. A solid foundation helps ensure solid performance when it counts. Take marksmanship for example: Before you start to move while you shoot, or shoot while your team member is moving, it would be prudent to ensure that on a reasonably safe range, you can effectively hit the ‘x’ ring under varying conditions, such as after running in place and assuming a prone position.
A very simple and effective method to achieve this is to shoot the AQT at 25 meters, albeit with a twist: On a 100 meter range, move the shooting line to 25 meters – now there is 75 meters behind all shooters of clear space. All shooters have clear rifles with their magazines loaded and in their mag pouches. On the command, ‘Run!’, the shooter turns 180 degrees and sprints to the 0 meter line and back. The clock measuring the time allowed for shooting starts when the first shooter arrives back on line. All other shooters lose whatever time it takes them to get back to the line. Continue this through the entire AQT. Watch what happens as your team struggles to keep their rifles on target while their heart rate is high and they’re trying to breathe. It’s very effective in familiarizing shooters with stress in a pretty safe manner, and prepares them for live fire shoot and move training.
For example, if you’re going to train for security patrolling in a realistic manner, in which you might be on a security patrol, for say, 3 days, something that you and your team must be able to do first is live in the woods or whatever environment you’re going to be performing the patrol in without causing issues to the patrol objective.
Tasks like establishing a patrol base that stands a good chance of not being detected by marauders and employs effective defensive and sustainment positioning (depending on the length of time in the patrol base). Or performing routine tasks without discovery: Hygiene, bowel/bladder voiding, eating cold (fires aren’t used on a security patrol), sleep/watch shifts; unpacking necessary items for use in the patrol base, repacking, and moving in/out of the location silently/unnoticed. If establishing an observation post, well-camouflaged shelters to allow sleep shifts for maximized rest periods.
Another example of a foundational skill necessary for an effective security patrol is communicating silently, that is, no talking on the patrol, except in extreme circumstances, and then only by whispering right next to the ear of the person needing the communication. That’s easier said than done by many; mostly because it’s not practiced much in the various school houses that teach skills along these lines.
The bottom line is that when you bring on new members to your NPT, they’re going to be very anxious to learn and get doing the things you’re doing. Having them learn the basics well initially will translate to higher quality performance during more advanced training later. For example, high encouragement of increased fitness will translate in higher levels of energy and stamina during training sessions, which will result in an increase of overall performance when the team is training on one skill or another.