In this article I´m going to describe a situation that often happens to those who are not so experienced or trained during CQB trainings and specifically in real situations.
2008- hot, dusty and stressful.Finally we reached the 'physical' part of our 'Urban' qualification. The training ground looked like a small random settlement straight out of Tatooine (Star-wars).
It was our first real physical training of different various CQB methods,with a great focus on the entry phases.I was number 2, behind my buddy ready to enter the room. It was our first time with live fire. Needless to say: no more game or simulation...a real cause & effect. We entered the room via the procedure we learned. Since, like I mentioned above, the place was full with sand, the whole room which had no windows turned very fast into a one big dust cloud. We couldn’t see more than two meters ahead. Seconds after 'stabbing' the 180° to the left, I recognized a continuous passage to a next room and automatically notified my buddy.
We shifted into a 'continuous' method and solved that problem as well. We stacked up, processed the situation carefully and continued to the next room. For those who have been in those situations before it´s clear, your heart is beating, your adrenalin valves pumping like a F1 formula car, and you view the world out of a toilet paper tube.
On the second entrance it was hard to breath and we began to process it slow. One of the instructors tossed by us a live flash-bang straight into the room, in result we had to 'flip the switch' and kick in all force. It was a bad enter. Out of 4 targets in each corner, one was still 'alive' and clean.We froze in our final position, awaiting 'endex' & feedback from our instructor.He came in with a hard face, checked the 4 targets and swiftly started to yell on us:
''Paper targets never lie. They are a true mirror to your actions and they have no manners or pretty words to deliver the truth. You failed in the first room, you missed a hidden corner with a small target, and you repeated your failure in the second room-you are all dead long ago''.
I refused personally to even believe him – not until the next hazing changed my mind. We were too linear and too 'obvious', all of that was the fault of Mrs.White fatal.
What is that White fatal?
Back in the methodical CQB preparation week, which took place a week earlier, we sat in classes and have been through literally dozens of different tactical sketches and white boards simulating different situations and clearing techniques.
What we all always saw was a white background and a black color as the designated structure borders – there were no obstacles, furniture, irregular structure layouts or so. It was just obviously blank & clean.
During our first 'wet' week I figured very fast that prior to any entrance.We all ran in our brains that same white board with that clear & clean sketches.We always unintentionally ignored the fact that there is more than just a 'Cube' shape and some borders, there are also obstacles and things in between that will require your immediate attention and the ability to take a fast decision. And none the less it will compromise & force you to even change your individual tactic in some drastic occasions.
Walls will always be there, and so it is with windows & corners. But there are enough obstacles that no white board can prepare you for. Obstacles like tables, chairs, sofas, ledges, elevations & different angles; and even big animals in some shit holes in the world will surely get in your way and will do their best to disrupt & compromise you.Unlike in the white board – the effect can not be deleted by a simple move of a hand – what happen is a solid bitter fact.
''When everyone in your team thinks the same, no one thinks.”
Linear thinking is our tendency to immediately look for a reason at a problem rather than looking at the problem as the result of many interconnected reasons.
Focusing on one reason rather than on the underlying structure of interconnected reasons is what creates unintended consequences in our attempts to solve a problem. Just like missing a hidden shaft or a passage in a room.
When you relay your planning only on a white board, it will result in a linear thinking later on. Most CQB briefs I did and have been through in my life have been with a clear and straight lines. Don’t get me wrong. I see no problem in the use of white boards or sketching. I just believe it´s crucial to keep in mind that nothing is linear in a room clearings. And no room is empty of content.
For example in many briefings we did, regardless when ever for a Mission or training, (in case there was no third model available) the white board was fairly accurate by structure, but we never knew obviously what is inside.In order to prevent the white fatal, we always added into the empty sketch of the designated room five different sets of possible furniture \ content layouts. So in case there is a hidden small shaft or a huge 'Bar' ledge to the left, we would have an automatic 'answer' to that problem.
Discussion is a must in any team.
Yes yes we all know that, we all heard our instructors & officers repeating that damn sentence...But wait a second, are you really doing so?
A healthy team discussion is made of the ability to forge more than two opinions and point of views into a productive tool, which is essential to your task. In my experience, the discussion is a key element to prevent that White fatal. Life is made out of questions, fast & slow questions, and you are the one who is committed to reply with an answer, fast or slow – you choose. Therefore, after you went through that sketch, make sure that there are answers to any possible ''IF?''.
I´ve got nothing against white boards. I loved them since I was a kid. But only sketches without any discussion, a discussion that was built by everyone´s OWN opinion and not by a team opinion, is what will give you the ability to deal such situations.
Thanks for listening.