Between my military and law enforcement experience, I have seen the training of CQB (Close Quarters Battle) evolve. I first learned CQB while I was in the Army between 1990 and 1994. I talk to guys now who have returned from Iraq and realize that the military has changed their CQB tactics a little since I was in. I have seen various CQB tactics since I have been in law enforcement as well. Every tactic I have been taught, or have seen, I have given a fair shot during force-on-force training. The problem I see, as a tactical trainer for my department, is that officers focus too much on the specific tactics and don’t truly understand the principles behind them.
I was the same way at one time. I wanted to learn all the CQB tactics that were known. That way I could be ready for any situation or floor plan. I’m still not sure where the turning point was, but suddenly I started to shift my focus on the principles to CQB, and not so much on memorizing specific tactics. I realized that learning specific tactics is like learning dance steps. You don’t have to think about it. And, I can see how that would be appealing to many trainers and tactical teams.
The problem is if you encounter an environment that you are unfamiliar with, then a pause or hesitation occurs because you’re trying to figure out how to make a specific tactic work. If officers are taught the principles, and drilled in a manner that forces them to think on the move, then you have a more fluid operator. But, this is harder than teaching dance steps.
Understanding the principles has simplified CQB for me. I don’t worry so much about what specific tactic I am about to use, because as long as I keep the principles in mind, the environment will dictate my tactics or actions. And, the tactics can be modified or “tweaked” to fit the situation. Understanding the principles has also helped me to predict what my partner is going to do, or should do (providing they know the principles), which allows me to start my decision-making process early. Most people have heard of the OODA cycle, or
loop, which was developed by the famous fighter pilot, John Boyd. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. This process is constantly cycling, or looping. We use it every day in various things. I will use the analogy of driving a car. Imagine driving your car on a freeway.
The actions of the vehicles in front of you help you to decide what you are going to do next. If you OBSERVE a vehicle about to switch lanes in front of you, you ORIENT yourself to the situation and environment (how far away is the vehicle, how fast is it going, what other vehicles are around, etc.), you DECIDE what your are going to do (slow down, change lanes to avoid, etc.), and then you ACT. And
then, you start the cycle over again. The bottom line is this; your decisions and actions are based on your observation and orientation of the environment and actions, or inactions, of those in front of you. The same holds true for CQB.