Published on April 19th, 2012 | by Bravo Two62
The Civilian Operator: A Whole New Kind of Covert Work
A New Battlefield
No matter what the evening news tells you, many of this country’s largest cities suffer from a plague of violent crimes. Police forces do what they can, but as anyone smart has figured out, their job starts when yours ends. Much of the violence is localized and kept between armed combatants. Gangs against gangs, gangs against police, and so on.
However, there are just as many unscrupulous criminals out there who look for easy marks to make a few quick bucks. Many robberies don’t involve violence. More and more, the use of force is employed to overwhelm the subject.
It’s not surprising, then, that the average person is taking advantage in record numbers of concealed carry laws and learning the arts of self defense. In fact, the exact demographics of people who recognize the need to protect themselves is surprising in its variety, no longer limited to the narrow category pundits would term “gun nuts”. Completely contrary to the portrayal as urban terrorists, these people are law abiding citizens who take this responsibility very seriously.
Training and Tactics
The best trainers of handgun shooting and self defense will tell you that training is paramount to survival. As silly as some may find it, seeking out and training in classes that blur the boundaries between law enforcement and civilian tactics is not a bad thing. The key tactics learned in these, and the myriad civilian self defense courses that are worth the money, start with the most basic and often overlooked:
- Maintain a heightened state of awareness and look for details. When it comes to self defense, this is even more critical. Most bad situations can be avoided by simply observing your surroundings, and taking note of anything that’s out of place or simply suspicious.
- Practice de-escalation and avoidance. Avoiding a confrontation is always preferable to engaging a threat. As a civilian, because of our tight rules of engagement, we can’t act simply on a hunch, and by the time things escalate to the point of calling for action, the danger is much higher. By being aware of your situation, and actively seeking to avoid confrontation or de-escalating the confrontation if you can’t avoid it, chances are things will resolve themselves.
- Maintain a warrior mindset. If you can’t avoid a bad location, and you can’t talk your way out of the fight, you’re going to have to act. Mentally preparing yourself for the eventuality, and deciding mentally on your tactics and training with those will ultimately help you decide the outcome of the fight. Remember, in most cases, an aggressor who is actively seeking to do you harm has already decided on his course of action and his limits. By predetermining your own limits and course of action, you are free to simply act on your battle plan, paying attention to cover, concealment, accuracy, and other things that matter. Worrying about the consequences and outcome is best left until after doing what you need to do to save your life.
Relentless training isn’t just for the military or the police, and it’s not just about going to the range and putting a few rounds in paper. Everything from your own mindset to load out to logistical support needs to be checked and rechecked, because indeed if the time comes that you as a civilian must engage a threat, the critical nature of your kit and support system is every bit as serious as for a soldier, marine, or police officer who goes into battle.
To be successful, you need a routine set of kit – a holster that you are comfortable and familiar with, a specific placement of spare ammo, a cell phone that works reliably, etc. Make preparations for the eventualities of death or legal issues. Have a lawyer on speed dial – I’m serious! Make sure you’ve spoken with family and legal representation BEFORE the fact. Having a game plan will make your life a lot easier after the fact.
Dealing with an attorney who you are familiar with and who knows you is much easier when you’ve got all the psychological marbles rolling around than dealing with an unfamiliar attorney and no idea of the legal process to come.
Also, avail yourself of every training course you can. Don’t just attend once, either. Take as many classes as you can. New techniques and different classes have different dynamics and different perspectives on the same problem. This helps cross-train you with more skills, and at the end of the day, the more skills you have, the more tools you have in your toolbox to stay alive.
Think you’ve got a good situational awareness? Try out these two videos to see how you do.
Covert Operations Really Does Apply
The open carry movement not withstanding, advertising yourself as a shooter or a gun-toter is a bad idea, especially in this day and age. Yes, it is legal to carry openly in many states, and in places where that’s the status quo, it won’t really draw attention.
However, remember that drawing attention to yourself not only makes things harder with the public who are not used to the good guys walking around in civilian clothes with a gun hanging out, but also the kind of elements who would see you as a target, like a school yard bully who wants to prove he’s bigger and badder than you are. Plus, if they don’t know your true capabilities, then you have a significant tactical advantage.
Covert in this case, though, doesn’t just cover how you carry your gun. It’s also about how you carry yourself.
Many of the people who carry a gun for the first time and aren’t used to it are very self conscious. They either act in a way that draws attention to themselves, hinting that you’re somehow special or otherwise other than the normal public, or they do things that give themselves away. Behaving oddly is a huge tell, and again draws attention. Our goal is to treat our life like a serious undercover mission, and be a ghost to anyone that is looking for a mark to rob, beat, rape, or kill.
Also, urban camouflage is as important to us as anything else. Dress right for the culture, and no one pays you a second glance.
It’s okay to be a regular guy. Not everyone has to rock the operator watch, shirt, shoes, and pants. Keeping low key is ideal, and when you do your job right, you achieve your objective without people remembering you were there.
Our goal, as Civilians, is to get out of the game intact, and to keep our loved ones safe. We’re the home guard, and that’s our job.
We can learn a lot from our brothers and sisters in arms, because they are the external to our internal security. We don’t need to be the police to be proactive, but we do have to be willing to step up because there won’t always be a cop handy.
Stay Safe and Shoot Straight
Anyone have some good recommendations for training courses to learn/become more of an "operator" SOF style? I saw that onpoint tactical has an urban escape and evasion course, I'd like to take some classes to become more proficient with my handgun, some driving courses would be sweet but really anything to improve the skills I think I have that don't actually exist would be great.
If anyone knows of any in the Colorado area I would love some ideas and next year I may try the Rogers Shooting School.
I will always be saying this. Thank you so much for this article. My training notebook is expanding. The people who post here are experienced and credible. Please assume that I click 'like' on most of your responses!
One other thing I'd like to point out here for those that read these posts and may not know: the answer to the "round in the chamber" question: YES
2 quick and easy reasons: 1) economy of action 2) noise
Thank you for validating what I have done for years and helping me not feel like a foil-hat type! I not only carry for multiple levels of conflict but have a DARK kit w/ extra TQ in my bag. De-escalation by talking (while keeping the stranger at a good distance) has kept me out of trouble most of my life. When time slows down I'm always thinking contingencies and avenues for cover and escape - btw, I found that even a short course in Executive Protection hones your awareness and gives you other tools!
I'd also like to add to the idea of avoiding conflict. It's 10PM and you have a headache. You would like to pop a couple ADVIL but you're out. Heading down to the local Walgreens (the stop and rob du jour of Colorado springs lately) at that time of night is not worth it.
Like mamma used to say: Nothing good happens after 11 PM. There are also neighborhoods in certain cities you just stay away from. People that wander into those places just because they CC I classify as the "4-Wheel Drive" type... you know the ones: when it's a foot of snow on the road they think because they're in a 4WD SUV they can still do 60.
Your best weapon is your brain.
Phenomenal write up.
One thing that's always puzzled me is the false dichotomy of the civilian shooting community (of which I am a part). I see guys taking shooting classes (which is great) completely decked out in multicam with plate carriers, etc... Nothing specifically wrong with that, but I do get confused as to what they're training for?
If for fun and gun handling skills, I get that, and that's great. But if it's for situations involving SHTF/rioting/police can no longer control threats, wouldn't it be a better option to look like an average joe? If I'm in a gang and see a guy walking down the street with multicam, a plate carrier, a helmet, and an AR, I'm gonna be on my guard and try and take him out ASAP from distance.
If the same person was wearing a coat with jeans, but concealing a handgun with extra mags, perhaps a SBR tucked away in the coat, and a plate carrier covered by the coat, the mindset of the criminal completely changes. Seems to me more people should be dressed 'normally' with hidden assets in training classes because I can't think of a situation for the life of me where it is beneficial to look über tactical in true, real world, destabilized situations.
The false dichotomy lies in a lot of those same people attend all these shooting classes in full-on tactical gear, and yet only occasionally CCW and aren't in the right mindset when they do.
I'm not trying to stir anything up or pass myself off as a SME, but it seems like a lot of people are missing the forest for the trees a bit, and your article hit the nail on the head.
An excellent write up. One think I would press is training for failure. It is vital for our humility and survival to experience different failure scenarios from shooting our friends (in practice of course) to drawing on the wrong person from officer to the weak part of a herd of thugs and then dealing with the full development of the scenario. It is annoying but very rewarding in the broader sight it develops in the person and you will be less shocked when sometimes things don't work the way they are "supposed to" :)
This is a fantastic read. Believe it or not, two nights ago I was put to the test.
I work nights, alone in an area on the border of good and not so good. Due to certain events I no longer the owner of a pistol. Mostly financial reasons thankfully. However, here I am working and I see car lights pull into the parking lot. This happens often as people turn around, get head from a prostitute or whatever. But never do they stay for more than about 10 mins. This car however stayed for roughly an hour and half. After watching it from time to time, knowing that there were not many actions I could take should something arise. I did the next best thing. I called the police.
Mind you while waiting, I planned my escape routes, which I actually practice and my boss even noticed on camera...he laughs..I sit there with a more serious face. I even strategically place all the sharpest objects and blunt objects I know of around the office. Needless to say, the only thing missing is my firearm, which now will be back in my possession as soon as I can get it.
So, the police car rolls up and what do you know, the other cars leaves discretely when the officer drives to the back. Now, his situational awareness is shot to hell. He said he never saw the car at all. There is only one way in and one way out of the parking lot and instead of going left he went right and never looked.
With that said, my nights at work have left me a bit on edge. This write up could not have come at a better time. Down here in Florida there are a lot of civilians taking on the role you mentioned above. And at some point in time, I will be damn sure to be one of them too.
I was never able to receive formal training in the military and as a civilian I appreciate and thank you for a write up like this. Only shows me that I am doing something right when it comes to my safety and that of my family.
I recall reading at some time that the Japanese High command never seriously intended on an Invasion of the Mainland US because, "Every Farmer and citizen could be armed." Although the gun control act of 1968 makes owning certain types of military weapons restricted, at no time does the 2nd Amendment make mention of any distinction between Sporting or Military arms. Reading through the Federalist papers I find that our nation has a huge advantage over every other, likewise we have a greater responsibility.
Looking like you fit in any given situation is of paramount importance. Situational Awareness,driving, shopping, walking the dog, playing with the kids in your yard, will save lives.
@bogman2121 I think the Whistling Pines Gun Club was setting up to put in a tactical range. I was a member there some years ago but bailed because they only had 25 yard indoor ranges. They may have expanded. Co Spgs.
oh btw - I also simultaneously think about legal possibilities which is another thing which has kept me out of trouble. I have the card and on my phone the number of an attorney who specializes in defending the armed civilian. If you can't find one, my first instructor mentioned looking for the guys who get people in the worst trouble off the hook.
@Tango9 "Nothing good happens after 11pm" is another which will go in my notes!
@ArcticWarrior When I got stationed in San Antonio, we rented a place smack dab in the middle of mexican mafia territory. We had no idea.
I have had a high-n-tight my whole life. So we're there about 4 days and I'm out mowing the lawn, 3 cholos roll up to me. "Hey man," They seemed friendly enough (I'm clueless at this point). I stop the mower. "Hey, how's it goin'?"
Scary Cholo #1 says "Hey what's with your hair cut?" I was a little confused... but I said "I'm in the Air Force.... this is my haircut?" He says "Air Force don't have haircuts like that." I said "Well, I'm a training instructor at lackland. We DO have haircuts like this." They looked at each other, smiled, waved, and walked away. I'm thinking that was the wierdest fucking 'welcome to the neighborhood' I've ever gotten.
About 10 minutes later Cholo #1 comes back with 2 beers, we make small talk and he takes off. Once I got to work I asked around and only then figured out what the fuck had just happened. Know what? No one ever fucked with us in the 5 years we were in that house.
This is something that irks me to no end. Many people who carry concealed complain about carrying a gun, or strip their carry load down to bare minimum, if anything, because of comfort. I grew up in the boy scouts, and learned early on the truism of "Be prepared". To my way of thinking, carrying a mousegun for comfort is about like going camping and only carrying a small pen knife. Sure, a pen knife is better than nothing, but it's not really going to be as useful as a multitool or a bigger knife with a heavier blade, no?
As to gear for these classes, few people do stop to think about this. You practice how you carry, and you carry how you practice. This is something I like about IDPA and IPSC (if you go back to the article on these competitions and how they can be made practical): if you ignore the gaming and go into it with the mindset of learning to work with your every-day gear, then you're miles ahead of the guy who goes in with all kinds of specialized gear with only marginal application to daily carry.
@Burton My current instructor, 13th MEU SOC Desert Storm and current LAPD Det. Supervisor, advised his students to do the same thing (which is why I wear regular clothes except in my remote night practice spot), he tells us that while training his officers, they often do the same thing, come out in full tac gear with leg holsters when their regular gear is uniform or street clothes. Can't get your muscle memory moving to a low slung holster when your sidearm is in a high IWB!
@BrandonWebb Coming from you, that means a lot.
@Sharon Friedman Great point. Buying a gun because of expected reliability is disingenuous at best because if you rely on that gun to be reliable and don't train for the inevitable, then like the green weenie, Mr. Murphy is there to put you in your place.
Hope for the best, train for the worst, and always always always have the tools ready to deal with something worse than the worst thing you can think of.
@SFAAINC same thing here just last Fri night. Nothing happened, but it was like some kind of simulator practice for situational awareness.
@SFAAINC I experience similar situations. It's always frustrating, the best thing is fixed medium angle cameras. The Camera should ideally be aimed outward towards the greatest threat. This way you can see patterns and decide more easily what is unusual.
Glad things turned out well, but keep on the watch it could happen again.
@Old PH2 Heh, I heard the words in the invasion analysis paper were something like 'behind every blade of grass is an armed American'.
@Old PH2 I wish I could remember the exact quote from the Japanese General so dont hold me to this, but I think he stated "There will be a gun behind every blade of grass" in reference to an invasion of the USA.
Note to future foreign invaders...or those that even THINK about attempting: DEFINITELY don't invade the U.S. through the southern states. Ya' might not make it. Just a good piece of advice. ;)
@Old PH2 But did you see the dancing bear? :D
@ArcticWarrior did you write that scene in the A-Team remake? I've heard of that happening! Nice. Before my ex demanded that we buy a house in a really dicey area (1991), I called the Sherrif's local station to ask for their crime statistics officer. Turned out that the local politicians who were property owners told them never to reveal that information. He was nice enough so that we talked around it until I got my answers. The idea about tattoos is a great idea and I'll have to put that in my notebook! Having grown up in LA and living in some borderline areas, I've become familiar with some of the bad news ones as well as a few of the tags, but only a few. I'm basically a scardy kat so I am very good at avoiding possible problems or areas.
@katgirl231 all the trouble I got into happened after that! lol... just anecdotal but it's proven true in my life.
@LCpl X where the fuck do you get these pictures? lol
@DavidKnuth @Burton I have to admit that I was in the "waaaaa.... that's a pain in the ass to carry." department for several years. But I've found a stable of really awesome holsters: IWB back carry, OTB cross draw, straight draw, shoulder, that now allow me to carry whatever I want with very little adjustment.
My "lazy" carry is a Glock 30 in the pocket of some cargo shorts, spare mag in the other.
@Burton except when I run the risk of going by myself to do some low light at my desert range, this is how I always look while drilling or in a class: http://twolftfeet.com/me/training_and_class_captioned1b.jpg I have an old black LE style tactical vest buried in my gear and I do want to get an identification sign on the back which says "Innocent Bystander!"
@McPosterdoor This was misattributed to Admiral Isokuru Yamamoto. There is actually no historical record of him saying it. The quote is "You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."
@gunslinger6 I think that's pretty spot on, I can't recall where I read it.
@SleazyWeazel That's good advice. -BW
@DavidKnuth Saw the Bear missed one pass, The changes in the detective scene blew me away.
@DavidKnuth I did!
@Tango9 @ArcticWarrior @katgirl231 I have tested a eaven holster, and I disagree. The problem I had was tnat the thing was inflexible and uncomfortable. The garrett insuarejea dusion hybris is far more comdortable and easier to conceal. Also, the holster is far more adjustable.
Also, re tattoos, your legit prison tats will have a greenish hue because of the quality of the ink and tools they use in prison, they usually scrape colors off of magazines.
I could on and on about prison tats, if you ever go to a Baker to Vegas run, check out the California prison shirts, they have the coolest designs and logos-- done by their inmates.
@DavidKnuth @Burton @Tango9 Thank you. I'm always looking for good holsters. Although the Phantom IWB is comfortable for all day standing, if I wear it sitting, the bottom edge can really dig into my hip, and that's with one of my thinner pistols. If I can find a good sturdy IWB which works better than my Kramer for the P229, that would be terrific.
The holster you reference may be that middle ground between durability and flexibility, but I haven't found one yet that was rigid enough to not collapse and still be super durable, while still being very flexible (if that makes sense).
Like I said, I carry a large gun (Glock 17 w/ weapon mounted light), and the RCS hasn't bothered me. I may be so used to it that I don't notice it much.
If I get a chance, I'll check out your recommendation!
@Burton @Tango9 see my poorly placed quote upthread. the problem with kydex-only holsters is they are inflexible and have hard points, especially for larger guns. the garrett industries' silent thunder fusion is a far better option as it is more comfortable and adjustable, and with the suede backing is less apt to shift wnile wearing it.
@Burton it's actually something I wear on warm days, that top easily covers the grip on my P229 in an IWB and the mag carrier :)
@katgirl231 Nice! That's a great example of wearing what you normally would wear (I'm assuming! ;) )
@SleazyWeazel Yes, the south is well armed : )
I honestly believe that the south is SO well armed that I think they are the only ones besides military door kickers that could utter the phrase, "FUCK IT!!.....WE'LL DO IT LIVE!!" :) Gotta' love 'em!! Sucks out here in California for all the gun restrictions they place on good, decent citizens who just want to play, protect themselves, and their families. Absolutely ridiculous.