CQB: Attitude Beats TTPs

There’s nobody quite as good at CQB/CQC/good-ole-doorkickin’ as the unit known as Delta. Not anybody, not worldwide. The SF teams that are best at CQB are the ones that train to be an interim stopgap, available to theater combatant commanders if Delta’s too far out or too overcommitted for a given tasking.

Delta’s skills came from its origin as a Hostage Rescue / Personnel Recovery unit, and it now has nearly four decades of institutional memory (some of which cycles back around as contract advisors so that old TTPs don’t get lost) to bring skills back up when real-world missions sometimes take off a little bit of the CQB edge.

In a wide-ranging post at the paywalled site SOFREP, fortunately reposted at the unwalled site The Arms Guide, former Delta operator George E. Hand IV discusses how the most important building block of CQB is, absolutely, the guts to actually do it.

Close Quarters Combat (CQC) is to the effect about 75% (maybe higher) testicles, and then 25% technique. I don’t like to over complicate things, especially CQB…. It is the very nature of the degree of difficulty inherent in ‘the act’ of CQB that bids its techniques to remain very simple, lest the mind become incapable of holding the process at all.

… if you can find a person that will take an AR and run into a small room of completely unknown contents, expected deadly threat, then you already have ~75% of what you need to create a successful CQB operator. All that remains, is to teach and train your operator the very few principles, and the very simple techniques, for room combat.


You are ~75% ‘there’ once you have that individual who will storm blindly into a deadly room. Now, it can’t be a person who just says they will do it. It has to be a person that in fact WILL do it, and WILL do it over and over.

See, no matter how high-speed low-drag you are, the enemy gets the proverbial vote, too.

There is a constant that exists, though you may disagree ferociously, it remains nonetheless: “no amount of high-speed training and bravado will ever trump the thug behind the door, pointing his AR at the door, and with finger on trigger.” ….

That’s right, the Chuck Yeager of CQB has a bullet waiting for him; all he has to do is wait long enough, however long that is. I have known a team of Delta men who lost their junior and senior team mates to the same goat-poker in the same small room in Iraq.

Both were head wounds from the same rag-head firing blindly over the top of a covered position. For the senior brother, that room was supposed to be the last room, of the last attack, of the last day, of the last overseas deployment he was ever supposed to make. The wait was over.

via Nobody goes into a room like Delta Force: A CQB attitude primer | The Arms Guide.

That “senior brother” is MSG Bob Horrigan, whose picture (courtesy Hand) graces this post. The new guy was MSG Mike McNulty, whose image is also at the link.

Hand’s entire post is worth reading, studying, and even contemplating. Do you go in, when going in could well get you shot by some “rag-head goat-poker”? (For police, substitute “brain-dead gangbanger” or “booze-drenched wife beater”). Real life for guys in these jobs is a daily reenactment of Kipling’s Arithmetic on the Frontier.

No proposition Euclid wrote
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow.
Strike hard who cares – shoot straight who can
The odds are on the cheaper man.

(Background on the poem. Of all the things I read before going to Afghanistan, Kipling was the best preparation. The Yusufzais he mentions are today still a Pathan (Pushtun) tribal group, frequently in opposition; the Afridis are still dominant in the Khyber Pass area, and some of them still affect green turbans. Only the weapons have improved).

If you have the attitude, and are willing to go into the Valley of the Shadow because you’re not going to be in there with them, instead those poor throgs are going to be in there with you, what are the simple tactics he has in mind?

(Caveat. Your Humble Blogger has never served in Delta. He had a short CQB/HR course called SOT many years ago, the short course which ultimately evolved, in two paths, into SFAUC and SFARTAETC).


You need to have the basics first:

  1. Physical fitness. If you’re not ready to sprint up five flights of stairs you’re definitely not ready to train on this. Bear in mind that actual combat is much more physically exhausting and draining than any quantity of combat training. That may because fear dumps stress hormones that either induce or simulate fatigue. Perhaps there’s some other reason; it’s enough to know that the phenomenon is real.
  2. Marksmanship. This comprises hits on target but also shoot/no-shoot decision-making, malf clearing and primary-secondary transition. In our limited experience, almost no civilian shooters apart from practical-shooting competitors are ready to train on this stuff.
  3. Teamwork. It’s best to train a team that’s already tight. If not, no prob, the training process will tighten you.
  4. Decision Making under Stress. This is vital, because the one thing that you can plan on is your plan going to that which is brown and stinketh.


The military stresses doing complex events (“eating the elephant”) by breaking them down into components (“bite-sized chunks.”) The process we use is lots of rehearsals in which risk and speed are gradually increased. One level is absolutely mastered before reaching for the risk or speed dial. (There are guys who go to SFAUC and are still carrying a blue-barrel Simunitions weapon in the live-fire phase. They’re still learning, but they’re not picking it up at the speed of the other guys. They’ll have to catch up and live fire to graduate).

Numerous rehearsals and practices are done in buildings of previously unknown configurations. A culmination exercise is full-speed, live-fire, breaching doors into an unknown situation. It can be done with dummies playing the hostiles and some hostages, and live people playing some no-shoot targets. (George has a story about this at the link. Not unusual to have a Unit commander or luminary like the late Dick Meadows in the hostage chair on a live-fire; at least once before Desert One, they put a very nervous Secretary of the Army in the chair).

The term the Army uses for this phased training process is widely adaptable to learning or teaching anything:

  1. Crawl
  2. Walk
  3. Run

Most civilian students, trainers and schools go from zero-to-sixty way too fast. To learn effectively, don’t crawl until the training schedule says walk, crawl until you’re ready.

Training should be 10% platform instruction and 90% hands-on. This is a craft, and you’re apprenticing, you’re not studying for an exam.

Tactics on Target

The most important thing you get from all these drills is an instinctive understanding of where the other guys are and where you are at all times, and where you’re personally responsible for the enemy.

Divide the sectors by the clock (degrees are too precise) and have one man responsible for a sector. Don’t shoot outside your sector unless the guy covering that sector is down. Staying on your sector is vital for safety! You should not only own the sector between your left and right limits, but also the vertical aspect of that sector, from beneath you, at your feet, through the horizontal plane to overhead.

Shoot/No-Shoot is vital and the only right way to do it is look at the hands and general gestalt of the individual to assess a threat. Weapon in hand? Nail ’em. Empty hands? Wait and keep assessing. (In this day of suicide vests, any attempt to close with you should probably be treated as a suicide bomb attempt).

If you have the personnel, the shooters do not deal with neutrals or friendlies on the X. There’s a following team that handles them, for several reasons including the shooters being keyed up to a fare-thee-well at the moment of entry.

You can’t learn CQB from a book, or a lecture, or some assclown on YouTube who never suited up and took a door. You have to physically practice, and practice, and practice. Ideally, under the beady eye of someone with a lot of doors in his past, and a skill at setting targets that borders on malicious mischief. (MSG Paul Poole, rest in peace, you old goat).

But first, absolutely first, you need guys with the guts to try. George is absolutely right about that. There is much other good stuff in his post, including a funny history of the term “operator” in the Army. (If you didn’t attend the Operators’ Training Course, it’s not you. Sorry ’bout that). You know what we’re going to say now, right? Damn straight. Read The Whole Thing™.

62 thoughts on “CQB: Attitude Beats TTPs

  1. Boat Guy

    I’ve trained to some very low level on this sort of thing and having considered the problem; I am NOT one of those guys. I don’t want to have to do CQB; however it’s not beyond the possibility that someday I might have no choice – one of those times Dr. Hanson describes as “…the choice between bad and worse.”. If that were the case I’d just have to “gird my loins” and proceed knowing it could very well be the last thing I’d ever do. As noted in the article far better men than I have been killed doing this stuff.
    On training I’ve found playing “OPFOR” to be very valuable experience; decidedly complementary.

    1. LCPL Martinez USMC

      Is it true SOF’ers are psychologically tested to determine whether or not you’re an assaulter, or more an over-watch type personality? ie. aggressive, extroverted types tend to feel comfortable going into the unknown, hence assaulter; while introverted, quite, big-picture types will be sent to say sniper school , language school, etc.?

      I never understood how psychology tests applied in the military , but this whole 75% balls thing has got me re-thinking all this psychological mumbo-jumbo (my bias probably is hampering me here, as i’ve never respected the field of Psychology).


      “no amount of high-speed training and bravado will ever trump the thug behind the door, pointing his AR at the door, and with finger on trigger.” “Well I would throw a banger in there to stun the thug.” Really?

      If I’m not mistaken , that was the same exact scenario for Officer Simmons (LAPD SWAT), flash bang; entry; while breaking the plane of the door way, suspect squeezed a round (or was it a shotgun blase?), it finds Simmons head (i think goes thru and thru strikes another SWAT guy), and that’s all she wrote.

      1. Hognose Post author

        I don’t know what Delta does. In SF there is no formal psychological testing for placement. Guys and their leaders (primarily NCO leaders, team sergeants and company SGMs) sort it all out according to skills and preferences. A team sergeant generally has a pretty good handle on the strengths and weaknesses of his individual members, and knows where to use them best to get the mission done. A wise TL lets the team sergeant do that, and make him (TL) look good.

      2. archy

        ***“no amount of high-speed training and bravado will ever trump the thug behind the door, pointing his AR at the door, and with finger on trigger.” “Well I would throw a banger in there to stun the thug.” Really?***

        Georgie Patton’s Third Army tried mightily to avoid MOUT as they toured across Europe from June/July 1944 to May 1945. But there were times when it could not be avoided. They found a useful *banger* field expedient in the form of a tracked 155mm self-propelled gun, which in addition to stunning or liquefying any occupants, created a new entrance that could be used without first having the Engineers clear it of probable boobytraps.

        I understand that LAPD has a couple of armoured cars. But I doubt they have an M12 or M40 155 SP on call.

        I think LAPD has a couple of armored cars. I d

        1. Hognose Post author

          Soviet WWII MOUT practice was similar. Blow new loopholes in the target, and go in that way. The Red Army was very good at urban fighting in WWII.

          They got beaten by Commander Latif in Kandahar in 85-86, so they pulled back and called in the bombers. The post-86 roads are completely different, a pre-invasion map is utterly useless, and in 2002 there were still parts of Kandahar that looked like the surface of the moon. Well played, Ivan.

          1. JHP

            Did you ever see the amusement park in SW Kandahar? I once took a wrong turn at the western traffic circle and ended up there. Kind of wanted to explore but figured it would be wiser to get out of the canalized terrain.

          2. archy

            .They got beaten by Commander Latif in Kandahar in 85-86, so they pulled back and called in the bombers. The post-86 roads are completely different, a pre-invasion map is utterly useless, and in 2002 there were still parts of Kandahar that looked like the surface of the moon. Well played, Ivan.

            Likewise in Chechnya. Grozny and the Khankala Airport area got nailed from the air, then by massed indirect artillery, barrage rockets and mortar fires, followed by direct fire on the way in.

            Ivan has always been a big believer in artillery, *God of battles.* And their improvements in mortars over the last 50 years, especially autoloading tracked mortars, has been steady and battle proven on the dukhai.

            They were surgical about it, though. They kept the airport more-or-less intact for the incoming desantniki.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Link there seems to barf. Try this one:

      This graf from the article is right on, historically:

      These special mission units developed these TTPs almost exclusively for hostages rescue operations. It was understood that any such operation would be of great strategic importance and therefore worth great risk and cost. It was also understood that to have any reasonable chance of success, the assault must be conducted with complete surprise, simultaneously entering the critical point from as many unexpected directions as possible,ending the fight almost immediately. It was assumed that if the operation failed to accomplish this in the opening seconds and a protracted fight resulted, the opportunity for a successful resolution would quickly evaporate, hostages would be lost, and casualties would mount.

      However, in the next paragraph he suggests that they were willing to accept unit-disabling levels of casualties to do this. Never.

      Indeed there were squadrons that took mission-limiting levels of casualties, but most of them were not the result of direct enemy action. Lots of joint and back injuries resulting from doing the impossible long enough for your musculoskeletal system to take notice.

  2. Seans

    Suggesting that Delta is the best at CQB period is a bit of a stretch. They are the best at their style of CQB, no doubt. But not every building needs to be target secure in under 3 minutes or less.

    1. LCPL Martinez USMC

      I don’t get your argument, Sean… it’s like comparing NBA basketball to high school or a park pick-up game, of course basketball can be played at all 3 levels, but there’s a reason why NBA players get the big bucks, no?

      OR are you really saying there are different CQBs, like different sports? Pls. elaborate, seems an interesting point, if you are saying there are different CQBs, what would they be?

      1. Seans

        Delta pretty much clears a house a house one way. The HR way. Which has got a time and place definitely. But not every building needs to be cleared as if you are rescuing the POTUS. Delta took a fuck ton of casualties in Iraq. When you start hitting multiple targets a night. The odds are going to catch up. Speed and violence of action are only going to get you so far.

        1. Gray


          I am writing this in my words to see if I am correctly understanding what you are saying.

          “CQB is a tactic that was and is designed as a specific modality for HR, and is worth the calculated risk inherent within it due to its aforementioned raison d’etre.”


          “With no hostage situation in view, CQB is not the preferred tactic for combatant capture or elimination of specific targets as a direct action tactic.”

          Is this what you mean?

          1. Seans

            Close Quarter Battle or Close Quarter Combat. What ever you want to call it. Every block of training I have seen. Has used the acronym in reference to the tactics and TTPs for making entrance and clearing a structure or a ship. Hostage Rescue inside a building is a type of CQB. Which places priority on the hostages safety. Those tactics are well documented and known. Delta is hands down the best at that. Their naval rival even agrees with the assessment. But that type of building clearance isn’t needed all the time. Its a minority of or clearances require that. It doesn’t matter how good you are. You are at a disadvantage on a adversary who knows you are coming and is prepared. There are tactics that are designed to negate the defenders advantage. But they are extremely slow moving and methodical. If you have a SOP of building should be secured in x amount of time. Then it can’t be down.

          2. Hognose Post author

            Yep, what you are making here is basically the argument in the magazine article. “We are infantry, we know how to reduce defended targets systematically, why do we go in and shoot it out at muzzle-flash range, giving up our great advantages?”

            And the answer seems to be, “We picked up the emphasis on speed that the SOF guys used for HR without thinking about why that speed is necessary in this case.”

      2. LSWCHP

        There are definitely different sorts of CQB. For example, the current definition of the term in the US seems to be restricted to “inside structures”.

        The army I served in had 40 years of almost continuous jungle warfare experience after WWII, and most of our training was focussed on this type of operation. I recall many days in the weeds where visibility was only a few metres and contact was initiated at “lounge room” ranges. It was sometimes a matter of stepping around a tree and coming face to face with a guy in “Musorian” uniform, with the Musorians being our generic unnamed communist-style OPFOR.

        It certainly met my definition of “Close”. Immediate violent action with lots of outgoing was the SOP, with particular attention paid to getting the gun into the game to pin and suppress the enemy.

        I’m not bagging the door-kickers, by any means. They have bigger balls than me. Just a different perspective is all.

  3. AlanH

    From a distance one sees clearly that there is a genetics of CQB practices, and therefore a variety of current best practices naturally selected according to the particular requirements of a unit and task type.

    As an example of inheritance, it is likely that the first use of live innocents placed in-between dummies in a structure to be cleared during training …with live ammo, was added to training at Detachment 1 in Berlin, and that several members from that unit were among the first selected for Delta, bringing with them innovations not previously permissible for or found in SF training.

    It is likely that this training innovation was already in practice before Dozier was kidnapped, and obvious that Dozier must have declined protection that would certainly have been offered by Detachment 1 given the Red Brigade threats at the time. Senior leader appreciation for the special abilities of highly trained cadres has clearly grown since that time, it seems. Good.

  4. Cap'n Mike

    A couple of schools I went to, taught that way of taking a room.
    This years active shooter training, they stopped us from doing that and wanted us to pie the doorway instead.
    Not sure why, the answer when asked was “Its safer”
    Maybe somebody decided that your average street cop responding to one of these incidents doesn’t have the testicles to go through that door. Maybe they are correct.
    Next year we will probably be back to taking the room again.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The problem with incrementalism is it gives Sumdood time to aim at you, or at least spray in your general direction. Speed and violence of action save lives here.

      1. Boat Guy

        Could be a matter of numbers. If you don’t have enough folks with you to cover the room in one burst, pieing might still make sense. It certainly affects both surprise and speed – and depending on wall construction sumdood might just decide to shoot you through the wall.
        Choices; – bad and – worse.

        1. LCPL Martinez USMC

          We got to work with some PDs and Sheriff Depts in 29 Palms awhile back, and I distinctly remembered an argument by two guys over something similar, Cap’n , Hognose & Boatguy.

          I think the gist of their argument was in “owning” the room and getting too stretched thin, but also about pie’ing and going fast vs. slow,

          BUT as they argued (friendly but heated), one copper finally said, if you don’t go fast enough and cover all rooms, these guys will destroy evidence (namely narco); and the other copper was laughing (i guess finally realizing their difference),

          but we don’t care about narco getting flushed down the toilet, we’d rather take our sweet time … his counter-argument essentially was that they don’t have to run to the toilet for every entry.

          Entry was the same, no arguments there, it was just what happens after initial entry, when there are more doors to enter, and the narco guys ‘ priority was to preserve evidence, LOL!

          So i guess the narco guys were all for Surprise, Speed and Violence of Action too, only they got their eye on the prize (while the gang guys, were more concerned of something else entirely).

          1. LCPL Martinez USMC

            p.s.~ I don’t think the above , ie. narco vs. gang guys, is necessarily CQB, though it’s similar, more Entry i suppose—- or CQB, but like jv basketball, and not NBA.

          2. Hognose Post author

            If the gang guys have enough stuff to be worth taking the door like that, they’re not going to get it flushed before John Law puts the collar on.

          3. John M.


            And what to a layperson is “flushed away” is to a plumber “easily retrievable.” We tend to think of our sewer systems as being in a different dimension or something, but the sewer is, unlike the Internet, a series of tubes and pipes, easily accessible and well-understood to someone who knows what he’s doing.

            -John M.

        2. John M.

          Or, given the typical levels of marksmanship I observe at the shooting range, sumdood might try to shoot you in the exposed right eye and wind up sending one through the wall and hitting you in the stomach.

          -John M.

      2. whomever

        I’d think that a hostage rescue or active shooter situation is very time critical, versus a ‘we know Fred is in the house and have all day to find him’ situation. I recall reading an account of a SWAT search once where the team spent 2 or 3 hours slowly clearing the whole house except the attic. Once they determined Fred must be in the attic, and the only way out of the attic was the access trap door, the team leader had a couple of guys guard the hatch and sent everyone else out for a leisurely breakfast. He explained they were tired from the long search, and he thought giving Fred time to worry worked to his (the SWAT team’s) advantage. With that kind of time frame, maybe the inch by inch pie slicing makes more sense?

      3. Cap'n Mike

        I agree completely.
        Active shooter is like a hostage situation. Time is critical as the body count increases and the victims bleed out.
        Slow and Deliberate does not make sense.
        Sometimes I think the training guys change stuff just for the sake of changing stuff.

  5. james n

    On a slight tangent, with regards to the now overused term operator, i came across an unusual example. In the (very highly recommended) book by Mark Urban Big Boys’ Rules : The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA, the term is used several times. Interestingly it’s used in an interview by some Provo’s discussing with much admiration an IRA active service unit running amok around county Fermanagh. They are described several times as operators, very much in the same context used now. The book was first published in 1992. Not sure how that term made it across, so long ago, or came to be used by and about the Provo’s. Could it have been some of the unofficial and unsanctioned US ex military advisors they were rumoured to have had in the 70s and 80s?

    1. LCPL Martinez USMC

      I’ve never (never ever) come across this word in the military. Only in books and the internet, but in the day to day conversations, it’s like that’s a Delta guy, SEAL team 6, Marine Recon/Dual Cool, Ranger, PJ, etc. etc. if you don’t know, then people say he’s Special Op…

      but the term operator just seems by itself (in and of itself) douchie , maybe amongst Special Op folks this term carries a lot of weight ,

      but to conventional guys, it’s like saying a’hole (remember that Sadie song, “Smooth Operator”?) , anything if you notice, any title that ends with an ‘or or ‘er , tends to whiff or affect said connotation. I’ve never heard Special Ops types refer to themselves or others as ‘operators’ in person neither—- maybe its just a written thing?

      1. Hognose Post author

        After a Delta guy passes selection, he attends the Operator Training Course and gets an SQI (ASI? I forget). Apart from guys who run bulldozers, he’s one of the few soldiers whose paragraph and line number on the TDA says “Operator.” They were the ones who brought the word back. Prior to that, “operator” was a kind of fading term inside SF for a guy who was superior in both fieldcraft (practically everybody) and tradecraft (a subset). That’s where they picked it up, the original leadership was all SF… Beckwith, Bucky Burriss (sp?), Dick Meadows, Logan Fitch, the first three or so sergeants major… and they thought the unit would be more tradecrafty and not quite so shooty as it is today. But they were all also guys old enough to remember when SF was built on Airborne Infantry men, in the days when being a Paratrooper was really something special. (So the seeds were planted for the later Ranger ascendancy).

        1. W. Fleetwood

          For what it may be worth. In the late 70s, early 80s, the Rhodesian and SADF military terminology was pretty much a clone of British military terminology. What the US would call a “combat zone” was referred to a an “operational area” and the combat units deployed there were referred to as “operational units”. I suppose an individual in an operational unit deployed in an operational area would be an “operator”, although I don’t recall that exact term being used. Given that we’re told Col Beckwith consciously modeled Delta on the British SAS the above may have been the sun source of the term.

          Wafa Wafa, Wasara Wasara.

        2. Miles

          The SQI designator is T-1st SFOD-D Operator.
          Maybe just because it was the next letter after “S”?
          And the Operators only keep that SQI as long as they’re assigned to the unit. Leave and it’s rescinded unlike other SQIs as I understand them.

          Operators are “operational” people – official, primary, low/high visibility, door kicking, barrier breaching, airplane unjacking, body snatching, trigger pullers – and everyone else is “non-operational” thus not Operators.

      2. aczarnowski

        I remember reading in, I believe, Eric Haney’s Inside Delta Force that the term “operator” came from legalities surrounding other terms like “agent” or “specialist.” That Delta members needed a way to avoid stepping into international legal repercussions if caught doing what they do when the paperwork all got reviewed so they dug around for a new/old term.

        My memory isn’t as good as the text. And it could certainly all be BS.

        It rang true when I read it because, I thought, even Delta can only skirt, not truly escape, the The Iron Law of Bureaucracy right?

        1. Hognose Post author

          True story: friend of mine, contemporary of That Guy later in his time there (not when he came in right after founding, I think That Guy was in first selection) says: “Don’t say his name. If you say it three times, he appears, and trust me, nobody wants that.”

      3. aczarnowski

        I remember reading in, I believe, Eric Haney’s Inside Delta Force that the term “operator” was coined to work around legal issues with existing terms like “agent.” That they needed to avoid international legal implications if Delta ever got caught doing what they do.

        Could be BS of course. I have no visibility into that world besides what’s printed about it.

        It rung true for me because, I thought, even Delta can’t escape the The Iron Law of Bureaucracy. But they’re probably high speed enough to skirt it.

        1. aczarnowski

          Apologies for the double post; should not have been so hasty. Thanks to our host for always fishing things out of the moderation queue.

          FWIW to others, underline HTML is apparently a no go and the poster doesn’t get to see what’s wrong. It just looks disappeared.

    2. Steve

      Never dealt/worked with them, but there are a few books out there in primarily the British market about 14th Intelligence Company working alongside/supporting the SAS/SBS in Nothern Ireland in the 70s and 80s. Those folks (14th Int) were labeled ‘operators’, and in fact that is the title of one of the books about them, written by a former ‘operator’.

  6. GQ

    I have a buddy that was on Desert One. He said it was a good example of just how bad things could go, when they started in that direction. And to your point, how even the most gifted can and often do, die.

    I think that it is difficult for many to comprehend just how far Delta has pushed the “Operator” curve and to exactly what level of demonstrated skill and ability they must routinely maintain, just to stay on a team. This is coupled to the utter insanity of the teamwork required to accomplish their mission profile and the very difficult and dangerous “real world” opportunities they enjoy to prove skill and valor. It is a whole new level of soldiering. My friends who ply this trade, at this level are truly without peer. And in most cases, always have been, even as former members of the E-4 Mafia.

    So some of us can shoot straight under pressure and demonstrate an astonishing level of violence of action; but the discriminator, as I see it, is the ability to demonstrate initiative and intuition in this highly charged and dangerous environment. Some things can be learned, but they can not be taught.

  7. aczarnowski

    I’m just a non-mil non-leo guy on the internet but it seems there are a few different things wrapped up in the CQC/CQB acronyms.

    For example, the rescue mission, whether people or information, appears to have different risk vs reward calculations from general urban fighting. In the first speed of action is obviously a priority and I’m thankful those unique guys exist. In the latter pieing a door seems like a useful tactic. Why run into a bullet when leveling the building with explosives is an option.

    Maybe the tactical confusion Cap’n Mike notes above is part of, as Kirk might say, not naming things specifically enough?

  8. Mike

    I used to run a training location with a big GOV shoothouse. A couple of Unit guys showed up (certainly not to see me, there was another, much better reason) and we spent the afternoon running the house with them. Oh yeah, they are the best.

    This is poorly worded, but they have hardwired the skills (particularly the basics) to a point that is nearly unfathomable.

  9. 11B-Mailclerk

    A key difference that may lead to the “pie the corner” stuff:

    The Law Enforcement mindset gestates in the womb of their institutional rules, rewards, and retributions. It has been a long, long time since LE could start a building assault with a plan that basically says “Kill anything that looks threatening. Only the lives of our side and hostages matter.” Inflicting death is now supposed to be the last resort of the Blue team, not the first.

    As our nation seems to be getting ready for a more widespread and local playing of “Cops and Jihadis”, I wonder if this difference will significantly change, or if the powers that be will insist on the values that exist only in their minds, versus the reality burning in the streets.

    Either way, life is likely to get far more exciting, for a while.

    1. John Distai

      There was a LA SWAT video game in the 90’s. Endorsed by Darryl Gates himself. One of the game training modules was on pieing a door.


    Brigadier General James Dozier was kidnaped 17 Dec 81. At the time, BG Dozier was C4 (Combined Staff Officer for Logistics) at Headquarters of NATO LANDSOUTH (Land Forces South), in Verona. Dozier was recovered after 45+ day’s captivity by the Italians. By NATO standards, BG Dozier was NOT a “high-ranking” Officer and the perceived Threat Condition for LANDSOUTH was LOW.

    1. AlanH

      Dozier was not referred to as a high-ranking officer in that post. He was rescued after 42 days. The threat condition for LANDSOUTH was not the basis upon which an offer of highly specialized protection for Dozier was said to have been made. The Red Brigade threat was specifically spelled out: they intended to kidnap an American flag officer. The threat was credible, specific, and did not apply to LANDSOUTH as a whole, but to US flag officers serving in Italy, specifically. There were not so many people that met that description. Of these, many were working/living in more secure locations than Dozier.

      The offer of protection was rejected as posing too great a restriction on his personal freedom to move about Verona. To date he is still the only US flag officer kidnapped by an independent terrorist faction. The group offering the protection was certainly a main contributor to HR training concepts and practices of Delta in subsequent years.

      Dozier was kidnapped in 1981. Beckwith had formed Delta as recently as 1977 with the specific goal to create a direct action force that could provide a greater focus on HR, in particular, as one of three key DA tasks. By 1980 Delta was fully functional and attempted Desert Claw. It can easily be said that there was a close connection in 80-81 and on between the nascent Delta and troops who had cycled through Det 1. In point of fact records would show that several of the Desert Claw NCOs had recently served with Det 1, were such records open.

      It is a curious coincidence that Colonel Beckwith’s father’s middle name was Dozier.

  11. archy

    *** if you can find a person that will take an AR and run into a small room of completely unknown contents, expected deadly threat, then you already have ~75% of what you need to create a successful CQB operator. All that remains, is to teach and train your operator the very few principles, and the very simple techniques, for room combat.***

    We pretty well had that attitude in every tank crew in USAREUR in the late 1960s. We were told we’d be be outnumbered by the 8th Guards Army and one of their Tank Army formations, facing 17-1 odds of their tanks to ours the first day, 30-35 on the second, and 60-75 by the third, depending on how well the USAF plastered their rail yards and bridges. All we worried about was POL [fuel & oil] and ammo resupply, and figured that by day 10 we’d be fighting in former bad guy T-55s and T-62s. They told us in Armor AIT that the cost to the taxpayers to train a 4-man tank crew was about the same as it was for the USAF to train a fighter pilot, and that the guy in the gunner’s seat had better be a cold, efficient killer; heavy stuff for a 18/19/20-year-old E1/E2/E3.

    ***You are ~75% ‘there’ once you have that individual who will storm blindly into a deadly room. Now, it can’t be a person who just says they will do it. It has to be a person that in fact WILL do it, and WILL do it over and over.***

    It also has to be someone who’s not squeamish about fighting indoors with a roof over their head. It was amazing how many of the mech infantry guys who supported us in M113s were nervous as hell when riding inside [understandable, the ones with a gasoline engine used a plastic bag between the inside wall and the outside *armor* behind the driver as a fuel tank] but were happy as clams once that back ramp dropped and they were open to sniper fire, mortars and arty, minesand other novelties. And some people just flat don’t like to kill up close.

    Once Baghdad had been taken, higher eventually used some of the tank and SP artillery crews to do the housecleaning required. The MPs and many of the leg infantry just didn’t have the stomach for it, and there were several cases of a new issue of undershorts being required for some of them.

  12. James

    How do teams avoid doors wired with explosives/faulty floors purposefully designed ect.I read the article and was stated they may not(probably)know the building and layout.Seems when fighting a enemy willing to blow themselves up in a war that this could be a real problem.

    1. Miles

      You’re getting into “TTP”; Techniques, Tactics and Procedures.
      But here’s something to consider:
      Maxim #10. “Sometimes, the only way out is through…..through the hull
      In some cases, other words than ‘hull’ may be substituted.

    2. archy

      On 22 July 2003, SF personnel chasing down Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay faced just that problem, pinned them inside the house where they were forted up, locked up the perimeter and fell back while other assets, including 101 Airborne Div helo gunships and a USAF A-10, showed up. Among the several useful tools the 101 brought to the party: a TOW antitank missile launcher, which got the job done.

      Using several thousand dollars worth of guided AT missile on a couple of overblown thugs may have been a tad excessive, but it worked, and there didn’t seem to be any tanks around for the gunners to engage. And if you become a high-value target, don’t be too surprised if somebody uses a high-value missile on you. Nevertheless, there probably is a need for a *dumb round* for the TOW.

      A pal of mine there that day tells me that the 101 Division commander [maybe the 101 V corps CO at the time] overhead in a C&C Blackhawk noticed an armed fella scooting out from the rear of the house, had the driver take him down, let fly with his M4, and that took care of that. Some MGEN named Petraeus….

      No one size fits all, your mileage may vary. But it seems to have worked nicely for them that day, in that place, given the job and tools they had available. I think I would have gone with the A-10 if it had been my call.


  13. Jacobs

    I’ve been researching force-on-force training and finally bought a couple airsoft pistols. A few nights ago while my wife and baby were in the other room I shut off all the lights and practiced clearing the apartment. Realistically, my place is a death-trap. The floor plan sucks because to see into one area you have to expose yourself to another. Anyways, I tried to mentally simulate a home invasion situation as much as possible and even knowing no one was there, it was still creepy busting into a room in he dark and trying to check every corner as fast as you can. In fact, I don’t even want to do it. Before my daughter was born the plan was to wait in the bedroom, 870 aimed at the door with every intention of shooting at first sight. But now with her sleeping down the hall, I have to go secure her, and that is the only reason you’ll ever see me taking a room. I suppose love of family sometimes gives people big balls.

    1. 11B-Mailclerk

      Consider the utility in house clearing of motion-activated lights, and remotely-activated lights. (the former of course, have some potential downside…)

      Being able to turn on lights elsewhere can be a rather useful thing.

  14. Seans

    Hognose. Making this reply to what I believe is yours to mine. And not seeing a reply button on your comment. I personally believe Delta tactics at CQB has negatively influenced the military as a whole. There tactics aren’t applicable in 99% of situations with/or 99% of military personnel. This in my opinion has negatively affected the entire US militaries non H.R. CQB in Iraq and Afghanistan. Normally when you look at the best it a good idea to emulate them. But CQB might not be the case. When you work in a environment that the walls will routinely stop rockets, much less bullets. Pieing the corners, and moving slowly and methodically makes a lot more sense. We shoot better than they do on average. Optics and training, night vision and lasers. Even with that in consideration. With what I have seen data wise. Delta versus Dev, Delta has had more guys wounded/killed per building than their counterpart.

    1. John Distai

      My comment has no credibility, so please take it as such.

      Based on crap you hear in the media, Delta was created for a particular mission – Hostage rescue. Lots of resources have been invested to make these members the elite of their profession.

      Politicians are aware of the skill set, and want to make frequent use of it. How do you handle this particular resource when missions fitting their primary mission profile are rare? You retask them with other activities that seem similar.

      This is a problem in any industry. Someone in a “leadership” position decides “I have a great idea! Let’s use an off the shelf specialized tool for a generic purpose!” And this is done whether the tool is the proper tool for the job or not. Perhaps this is what is happening.

      And after I finished typing the dross above, I remembered something else I read about their missions. Many visits need to be made in one shift. Sometimes you don’t know where the next visit will be until you finish reading the news from the last one. Wait too long, the shift is over, the neighbors have gossiped, and the news is chickenfeed.

  15. MD

    Just a former grunt here, with a tiny amount of training in urban warfare. However I’ve been under the impression that CQB has been evolving over the past several years, with less of an focus on storming the room , and more priority given to “limited entry” techniques where, as much as possible, the room is cleared from the outside the doorway. Of course this probably doesn’t work well for hostage rescue, but it may be applicable to more mundane .mil or leo work in urban areas. I’m interested if anyone else can confirm.

    1. jim h

      former grunt, current LEO here. departmental policy is always changing. one of the key factors is knowing just what the mission is. if we’re talking warrants for drugs, that’s one area with a special set of circumstances to it. I personally am not concerned with destruction of evidence as much as I am, say, hostage safety. but CQB as it relates to warrants for arrest or narco is a wholly different thing from CQB as it relates to an active shooter. which is wholly different also from CQB as it relates to hostage rescues.

      we have recently changed our TTPs in this regard. if an active shooter, first responders need focus on getting in there and negating the threat to save lives. the old model of stacking up and waiting – endlessly – for SWAT teams is not viable anymore. when I was on my agency’s warrant team, we trained constantly for the different responses needed for warrants and active shooters. destruction of evidence ALWAYS takes/took a back seat to the preservation of life, be it officer or civilian. for warrants, you have more resources for the arrest, and time can be on your side if used wisely. for standoff situations like a barricaded suspect, there are a number of responses, but among the top considerations were always “what does he have with him, who does he have with him and in what capacity, and how many of them are there?” trying to learn as much about the situation as possible from outside is the ticket there. learning the background of weapons available, hostages or non/combatants, and the number of same can change the response immediately.

      with an active shooter, it’s not that you don’t care about those things, but that responders need to charge quickly and efficiently. the safety of those inside trumps all. keeping the shooter focused on the external response gives those inside a better chance to get out….provided that the external response is competent.

      I wont go into specifics for security reasons, but the bottom line is that there are multiple disciplines of CQB being used and stressed in law enforcement agencies, and sometimes waiting the bad guys out can be as beneficial as prosecuting the attack. police missions are necessarily different from military missions, for good cause. I actually believe the MOUT I learned and used in the sandbox was a good prep for the demands of major city policing. different missions, but knowing the building blocks from one discipline is a good start to understanding the needs of the other disciplines.

      1. Hognose Post author

        I had a long reply, and inadvertently hit the back button. ^#$&%^!!

        Shorter version:
        1. Columbine drove the change in police tactics. Cops there took a lot of abuse for following their SOP/training and waiting while the two turds inside popped their cowering classmates. (The cop onsite commander was screwed. Imagine if he overruled policy and went in, with any outcome short of fairy unicorns, the same desk heroes in the press would crucify him anyway).

        2. Mil have a big advantage, we can be blasé about the hostages. Sure, we want to save ’em, but it’s more important to kill all the hostage takers. But even as soldiers we are discouraged from saying that out loud, and a cop can’t even think that. But a terrorist in custody is a negative ledger entry, because (1) he’s been compartmented enough interrogation juice isn’t worth the squeeze, and (2) his buddies will take more hostages to try to spring him (the Dane-Geld thing).

        3. If you look at some of the classic hostage rescues by military units, you will see hostage takers popped that would run afoul of today’s anti-military JAGs. (Princes Gate is one example off the top of my head). But it was no question the right thing to do. Terr orgs who take hostages have shown that they shouldn’t be taken alive, and if that means pop ’em while they’re cowering in closets and corners and under desks, lock and load.

        4. Technology and psychology both usually work in your favor if you have an individual crumb holed up who hasn’t killed his hostages yet. Personally, I’d rather see the negotiations handled by a good narcotic or homicide cop who has experience eliciting confessions, than by the university trained psychologists that the FBI uses. The crumbs always seem to pick up the FBI dude’s condescension. (Not that he doesn’t deserve condescension, but what he deserves is to be addressed ideally by the sniper, secondarily by the courts if that didn’t work). Unfortunately, everything FBI does half of LE copies immediately, which is usually good, but not in this specific case.

        As SF soldiers we were keenly aware that in the event of deployment in The Big One (i.e. behind Soviet lines in a general European war) the principal threat to us was not special SF hunters, the KGB’s radiolocator vans, or enemy Spetsnaz, but the normally curious or even vigilant civilian, dog, or just alert private on guard duty in the rear area. For terrorists and criminals the same thing applies: what gets them is often not what hunts them, but what happens to be there to notice / observe / interdict them. (How many active shooters have been stopped by an off-duty cop? Quite a few. Because he or she was there).

        1. jim h

          all good points.

          our negotiators are specially trained folks that have been in shooter’s shoes as well. they are a part of the SWAT group, and most have some background there, but ALL have at least been in warrants and other sorts of field operations. it’s a point of pride that none of our suits are negotiators, and have limited impact on them since they answer to the on-site commander there.

          a key point you make that I think needs to be emphasized in this model is about the unprocessed intel that might be found with the guys cops take down. it just doesn’t really matter to cops as much as it does mil, because of the different missions.

          sad state of affairs that JAGs and the legal group that cops deal with more often than not tend to be birds of a feather.

          1. MD

            jim h and Hognose – thanks for adding additional context and info. Great blog post and discusion.

  16. 3000£ of education

    I second the choice of Kipling for general Afghan reading. Though upon further review of the text it’s pretty embarrassing that I’ve been misquoting (and overestimating) the value of my education…

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