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Team Tactics and the Lone Operator


Team Tactics. Recently I was discussing this with another gent. Here is my POV. I learned this stuff back in the age of ignorance (pre-google..pre-youtube). I was blessed to train with the Recon guys at Camp Pendleton, with LAPD D-Platoon, and with LA Sheriff’s SEB. I attended every SWAT school available from HK’s to the FBI SWAT school, and with notables such as LASD's Gary Rovarino, SAS' Phil Singleton, FBI's Ron Frigulti, and multiple HK International courses.

To say I conducted a few High Risk Entries with my team would be like suggesting Antarctica is chilly. This was back in the era of “Jeans and Raid Jackets” and MP5s with Kel-Lights duct taped to the handguards. Makes me feel old when I see all the cool gear available now.

We were all individual operators back then. (More like thugs with guns...but I digress). And our ability to project force of violence was multiplied with numbers. But working team function as well as whatever-the-foxtrot-else we were assigned to, we always looked at this in two ways. First there were Individual Skills, then Team Skills. One augmented the other and there was no contradiction. And while many of us went to shootings as a team, we also got into gunfights alone…or with one other officer. For us SWAT was simply having the ability to divide up threats and we did not use the presence of another man as a crutch or a shortcut.

I first began seeing the “crutch” effect in the late 1990s in training. I saw guys operating alone using the same skill-sets suitable for a team environment. They would ignore the “other” side of the door, or focus exclusively on their cone of fire, as if another man was there covering for him…even if he was alone.

If you are always with your team 24-7-365, eating sleeping, crapping, and everything else, no worries. But if you are sometimes with a team and often alone, consider organizing your skill-sets to support the lone operator and set your team skills up so they support that and augment it. Doing otherwise is a gap, and good men have died in the gaps. Some of those who did were my friends.