Saturday, September 22, 2012

There is No Magic Tactic

We will be having a somewhat regular segment covering a variety of concepts related to tactics  plus firearms and operational training from Steve Claggett, Director of Training for Fulcrum Tactical, along with his fellow instructors. Mr. Claggett has a wealth of knowledge starting out with 6 years in Dallas PD Narco and 15 years with Dallas PD SWAT. He has also made appearances on the TV shows Combat Missions and Dallas SWAT, and has several years as the Director of Training with courses covering a wide range of situations and tactics. 

Fulcrum Tactical Training
Since the inception of SWAT in 1968 every team has searched for the “Magic”. The ultimate weapon, the ultimate round, the ultimate tools and yes the ultimate tactic. Weapon and ammo decisions are generally made way over someone's pay grade by “cubicle warriors” who’s knowledge of your operational needs are boiled down to beans and brass tacks. Control what you can. Be proficient with whatever they give you. 

 Nothing evokes debate in the SWAT world more than tactics. Every team believes in and defends their tactics to the brink of fist fights. Passion in this job is a good thing as long as it does not cloud our judgment and stifle our objectivity. I’ve found that with many teams the reason they use a certain tactic is it was handed down through the ages by Sun Tzu himself and was above reproach or evaluation. “This is the way we’ve always done it” should be forbidden verbiage in the tactical world (along with “I can’t…”, “why me?”, and “hold my rifle while I try this”).

I’m familiar with approximately 9 different CQB systems for room domination. The four most common are Points of Domination, Direct to Threat, Limited Penetration, and Threshold Assessment. As with everything in life each system has strengths and weaknesses. Both are revealed depending on environment, situation, and the suspect’s motivation.

To quote John Holschen, a friend and spec ops medic, “You can moon walk through doorways and be successful until somebody shoots at you”. I hope this statement does more than evoke the unsettling image of Michael Jackson poised in the stack kitted up in body armor, white socks and glitter glove.

What the statement should inspire is the premise of occasional reassessment of our tactical doctrine. Consider everything you do and the way you do it from a simplistic standpoint: “What Do You Gain and What Do You Lose”. As long as the gains outweigh the losses the option is viable.

Consider, after three energy drinks, the endless debate of “Dynamic” versus “Surround and Call Out” for high risk warrant service. The maelstrom of opinions generated across the country by this topic not only shows my command of the computer thesaurus (maelstrom), but also the visceral opinions on how to run the same operation.

My opinion-- Be flexible enough to do either and everything in between. Using the same template for every operation has gotten good teams in a ton of trouble. We are given an immense amount of tools to do this job (AKA: Tactical Options). Relying solely on the hammer for every gig shows not only a lack of tactical creativity but in some cases a disregard for operational priorities. Relying solely on the bull horn reflects the same lack of creativity and generally results in less warrants for us due to evidence destruction thereby denying Detectives their drug seizures. Also a consideration is overtime issues and potential barricade situations. The answer lies between the two options.

Situations should dictate tactics. Smart hurts less.

Fulcrum Tactical is based out of the Chicagoland area and offer training courses nationwide. View full details and training schedule at

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