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Tactical Training for the Modern Family, by Jeff F.

In discussions with other members of the preparedness world one thing becomes abundantly clear. Training is secondary to supplies and generally is handled exclusively by the head of the household. I have found that being a former Marine, and a gun enthusiast, as well as the director of my family’s survival plan that many conversations with others all end up at the same spot on the map. The question I pose to the other males leading the charge is, “what happens when the SHTF [1] and you go down early by brick/bullet or from a tap on the shoulder from Murphy?” The response tends to be a collection of, “well I know how not to get hurt”, or “I am aware and well planned” or any other combination of how well trained they are. But at the end of the day, we are all subject to failure at the worst possible moment.

Often neglected in home or family survival is a combination of simple military training tools combined with civilian business training. In the military, in day one small unit tactics, there is the responsibility to learn your assigned task then teach it to others in the unit. Each person has a task, radioman or medic or team leader etc. Once you have your area down you teach others. The theory behind is simple; as someone gets hurt or killed the next person can step up and know what to do to continue the mission. In the world of survival if the train stops due to one person being down or out then the chance increases that everybody could soon follow and that is unacceptable. This is mandatory for anyone in the group that takes the time to learn something or attend a class. Knowledge confined to one person, that is so rampant in the civilian business community, is the exact polar opposite of what is needed by any group working to function as a team.

When tactical training practice is overlooked, as being standard procedure, we become a Murphy beacon. Military and survivalist alike need to understand Immediate Action (IA) drills. It is imperative to understand how and why rally points and action plans need to be set up and practiced before, during and after an event. This concept seems easy if you have been trained or are dealing with others that have been similarly trained, but for a vast majority of people in the affected group, to include family of all ages, this is an area where nobody would expect an issue to arise until the trouble starts – and at that point, it’s too late.

The modern family unit, or first group to have to move or connect with other groups, is of the utmost importance to conduct both mind and body drills. With this in mind I would like to introduce business-training techniques into the busy modern family to accomplish this goal. Businesses are always dynamic creatures, growing and changing, always striving to be better.  Changes in procedure are always communicated to the affected group, followed by mandatory training and finally the change is implemented.  All of these steps are handled by those that have a full understanding of the current mission before it starts. If you view children and spouses as employees, they have little time or desire for long boring and dry training sessions. Getting everyone involved and on track is tantamount to a successful completion of assigned tasks.

As a leader, one goal you should have when dealing with a varied audience is to develop your own creativity. You must find a way to take complex tasks and break them down into simple steps for all concerned. The worst thing you can do is stand in front of a group and read from a book. Some may learn effectively in this manner, but when in times of stress, nobody is going to remember what they heard or read unless it is reinforced with hands-on practical training. I have a young son, as I have been explain to him throughout the years, that tactical awareness and knowing what and who is around him is one of the most important things he can learn and accomplish. He loves video games, especially first person shooters, this works well in teaching him small unit tactics, over watch and ambush drills in the safety of our home. I then couple this with walk and talk at the local park as we “play” and practice the same activity to increase muscle memory so at a time of high stress he reacts like he was trained.  I create these small sessions to get him learning and doing so it becomes second nature.

Is this foolproof? No, of course not, but we live in a fast paced society with busy jobs and lives. Carving out time each week to maintain the skills we have learned is difficult, let alone incorporating and teaching new practices. My wife is different then my son in her likes and dislikes but her love of our family and her natural desire to survive gives great strength to our training and practice sessions. Even with her, I find myself spending a lot of time focusing on “What If…” scenarios. I meld this way of thinking into our daily lives, while we are driving, sitting at dinner waiting for food, or in any other situation where we find ourselves with a few extra minutes. By doing this, I am effectively crafting activities and practices that my wife can put in place during times of struggle. For years I have been training her on being aware and using cover and concealment, which thankfully, she knows the difference, because when a real life situation happened her training kicked in.

Late at night, at a deserted gas station, my wife was approached by a drunken stranger who had an agenda of malice. My wife was able to keep focus on the situation at hand. She maintained eye contact on the stranger; she actively kept a safe distance and kept the car between herself and the larger male. During the brief interaction with the stranger, she quickly assessed the situation and developed a mental plan of action in case things got out of hand. This is a prime example of how the “What If” training kicked in, followed up by the “if this then that” forward thinking mindset. During this event my son was in the car. He immediately locked all of the doors, removed his seatbelt and placed himself in the middle of the car incase he had to escape the vehicle on either side. He immediately began to scan the area, watching for others that might be approaching and watching mom when she was had to leave the vehicle, touch base with the scared gas attendant, and contact the authorities.  While my son was giving the arriving officer a detailed description of the stranger, he observed the very same stranger appear from a wooded area and reenter the gas station behind the officer. My wife was able to handle the situation staying aware, and like a trained soldier, give an after action report to me so we could then dissect the positive and negatives to shape our future training sessions. It was after this event my wife finally relented and got her concealed weapon permit.

Tactics and “what to do if you are in charge” concepts are a necessity for everybody on the team. My family does not always see the big picture on why I may focus on one training concept more than the next or how individual training sessions can be combined into series of tactical approaches to a situation. Having been in the Marines, I understand that ideas without actions and goals without training will lead to failure. This is true in business and life. If you have all the jobs and responsibility during a crisis there will be a point where you either need sleep or perhaps receive a minor injury and you will need to rely on others to pick up the slack. Does your team, or family, know how to set up an Observation Post (OP)? If there was an attack in the immediate area, or they got lost or ambushed, do they know where to rally?  Do they know how to treat or care for wounds? At the very least, do they know why we don’t use the bathroom in the same vicinity as the water supply? If the answer to all of the above is no, then there is a good chance that you will fail. Why not plan a camping trip or a few nature walks with your family and start your own progression of training evolutions?

My wife and I have practice driving techniques while on long family vacations, both talking about what to do and what jobs are whose and what happens if someone goes down. We have done multi car driving adventures to test the skills as well as communication gear and GPS [2] and map reading skills. We as a family have used crowed malls and sports events to practice movement in crowds and hands on direction and movement drills. My son knows without a doubt when I grab his shoulder and start to move him it’s because I see a threat and he is to comply, to the point that if my wife or I take it to the ground that he goes down and makes himself small, allowing us to cover him while making ready with our firearm for defense. It is little moments and opportunities in our normal fast paced life that we can take advantage of and use for training.

The business world and major world events are ever changing, having all the ability and knowledge locked into one person’s head is practicing for disaster. I end all of our training events with the question to my wife, if I go down what is your job?  I then follow it up with the same question to my son, if Mom goes down, what is your new job? We are always prayerful that we never need what we practice, but we plan for the worst. I buy important items in threes. That includes fire starters, water purifiers, maps, etc.  If I go down or my cargo is lost or destroyed, I need to know that the others have when they need to keep going. The last thing I want is to my son to end up lugging three packs with him because his mother and I fell out. If I take a class on firearms that I can’t take with others in my family then my job is to spread the wealth. If my wife learns how to can foods or dress a deer what good does it do if she is the only one with that knowledge? Taking tactical training and making it applicable for others and breaking it down to teachable chunks, that all can understand, and finding ways to make it fun is the challenge, but so is the heart of why we do it. Survival – it’s pure and simple.