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Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Barruga’

SureFire Field Notes Ep. 33: Bad Guys Move with Aaron Barruga

Friday, September 14th, 2018


SureFire Field Notes is a multi-segment informational video series with tips and techniques from subject matter experts of all backgrounds. In this episode, Aaron Barruga of Guerrilla Approach discusses the importance of movement in vehicle tactics.

Aaron joined the military because of 9/11. Accepted into the 18 x-ray program, he was allowed to directly try out for Special Forces, where he eventually served for nine years. Deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations, Aaron trained and performed missions with foreign commandos, law enforcement, and militia fighters. He utilizes lessons learned from success, but also failure in designing his training courses for domestic law enforcement and civilians.

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

Modern Stress Shoots Are Injury Factories That Confuse Marksmanship Advancement

Two days into what was supposed to be a four day mission, my overwatch element was frantically scurrying down ridge lines to avoid being cutoff by Taliban forces that were coordinating an ambush. The hasty exfil lasted a few hours and at multiple points we sacrificed security for raw speed. During moments such as these, I was thankful for all that dumb Army training that served no other purpose than to teach me how to “embrace the suck.” Countless hours spent training under a rucksack paid dividends on days that demonstrated that sometimes grit is the most powerful weapon.

In training, running with a rucksack is one of the worst things a soldier can do because of the trauma it causes to the knees, shoulders, and lower back. Regardless, this doesn’t excuse a soldier from having to perform such a task in combat. Whether a forced march or carrying combined loads up to 200lbs in Assessment and Selection, a soldier must become accustomed to the discomfort caused by his equipment. However, it is important to differentiate between when a soldier is training to endure suffering, versus when he is perfecting a technical skill. As of late, confusion with whether harder is always better can be observed in contemporary stress shoots.

We need to make stress shoots simple again. What were once straightforward exercises that measured altered performance through an elevated heart rate, have become events that place more emphasis on Crossfiting with a gun than actually improving marksmanship abilities. Worse, the Type A personalities inherent with tactical professionals, combined with the sloppy design of stress shoots create an environment that is ripe for injury.

For example, olympic lifting in full kit is a terrible idea. Although impressive, performing such action unnecessarily exposes a shooter to career stalling bodily damage. The risk isn’t just that adding weight via kit causes an adjustment in form, it’s also that a shooter will attempt to perform an exercise as quickly as possible. Consequently, individuals will sacrifice the quality of their movement or form, so that they can “ugh” their way through to the next exercise to achieve a faster time.

From a marksmanship standpoint, sloppy stress shoots plateau development because a shooter will focus on the wrong aspects of his performance. Satisfaction results from completing a difficult task, not from actually testing skill. Whether flipping tires, carrying kettle bells, or running through an obstacle course, a tactical professional will inherently focus on and reward himself for accomplishing the anaerobic qualities of a stress shoot rather than assess how the event improved his marksmanship.

However, poor stress shoot design within training culture does not excuse tactical professionals from learning how to shoot with an elevated heart rate. Moreover, anaerobic activities such as flipping tires and heaving sandbags can be useful, so long as cadre differentiate between diminishing returns and skills progression. In order to be executed properly, stress shoots must be programmed through one of two methods.

The Sustainment Stress Shoot teaches the effects of shooting with an elevated heart rate through short bursts of aerobic or anaerobic activity. This can be accomplished through sprints or carrying weights, however, the physical exercise should never overshadow the marksmanship points of performance. Sustainment Stress Shoots are also shorter in duration to prevent the effects of diminishing returns and the unintended solidifying of sloppy technique.

Sustainment Stress Shoots should not just blindly throw shooters into an exercise. If the event requires the shooter to run, cadre must assess the shooter’s sprint mechanics and weapons handling efficiency. This is more than just cataloging the speed at which the shooter moves, and demands cadre observe explosive acceleration and deceleration sprint mechanics, muzzle orientation, and efficiency with prepping the weapon as a shooter prepares to fire. Similarly, if a shooter must carry weights the cadre should assess the shooter’s ability to rapidly stow and unstow a weapon for travel.

Although not primary to skills development, cadre must remain mindful with enforcing that weapons should be carried or stowed in a manner applicable to a combat environment. Crossfiting with a carbine has led lazy carrying positions in which shooters unnecessarily take their firing hands off their pistol grips and away from their safeties and triggers. Although not catastrophic during a stress shoot (because the shooter knows exactly where and when he will use his weapon) we’ve seen these techniques filter into tactical training events in which shooters are delayed with employing their weapons towards unexpected close quarter targets or in force on force scenarios. If, however, a shooter must move his firing hand away from his trigger and safety, it should because a physical task (e.g. casualty carry, climbing, jumping, etc.) allows for no other options.

Sustainment Stress Shoots also demand that cadre be engaged the entire time. They must be able to catalogue a shooter’s performance flaws and not simply state that a shooter missed because of fatigue.

Below is Throttle Control. It is designed as a Sustainment Stress Shoot that assesses sprint mechanics and marksmanship with an elevated heart rate.

throttel control

The second type of stress shoot is the Resiliency Stress Shoot. These events are meant to be smokers and reinforce just that, resiliency. However, their purpose is still to test skill, and not just reward a shooter for accomplishing something difficult. Because the Resiliency Stress Shoot will place a higher premium on aerobic and anaerobic tasks than marksmanship skill, they should only be performed after Sustainment Stress Shoots are executed as diagnostics. This ensures that a shooter is still learning, and not just running in place—physically and metaphorically—with regards to performance.

Collecting performance data during Resiliency Stress Shoots is more difficult because of the switch in exercises. For example, did Shooter X finish before Shooter Y because he climbed ropes quicker, or because he flipped tires the fastest? Ambiguity such as this is removed through strict penalties for marksmanship failure. This helps to level out the ranking system so that the worst shooter cannot win because he is in the best physical shape. An example of such design is adding a devastating time penalty (e.g. +10 seconds) for first round misses. This accountability encourages shooters to go for speed with sprints or kettle bell carries without allowing for sloppy marksmanship.

course

Resiliency Stress Shoots should always reinforce that grit, determination and heart are more important than any piece of equipment. The hardest thing to teach a tactical shooter is that he, not his gear, is more important than any piece of performance junk the tactical industry—and its Instagram influencers—will attempt to sell him.

Resiliency Stress Shoots should only be performed after multiple Sustainment Stress Shoots are executed as a diagnostic. Failure to do so ensures that a shooter will plateau with regards to performance because the purpose of the event lacks clarity. This results in a shooter assuming that because he accomplishes something hard that his skill is increasing. Although his skill might improve, it is likely in areas associated with weight lifting instead of marksmanship.

If possible, Resiliency Stress Shoot exercises should also attempt to replicate real world obstacles that the shooter can expect to navigate such as urban climbing, carrying a casualty, or breaching a door.

In summary, this article critiques sloppy stress shoot design and its effects on marksmanship progression. However, it is not intended to pardon tactical professionals from learning to shoot in full kit and with an elevated heart rate. Instead, it demands that we perform such actions through more purposeful methods. This can require shooters to actually perform entire training sessions absent of kit and with just their weapons. Furthermore, tactical professionals are also not excused from performing tasks in which the only learning objective is endured suffering. We simply need to be smarter about an event’s goals, and whether we’re unnecessarily risking injury and performance plateau.

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Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com

www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach

www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Aaron encourages shooters to keep their foots on the gas pedal with the “T-Drill” speed exercise.

Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com

www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach

www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA.Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Aaron introduces the Carbine Consistency Target and explains why shooters develop either competent or sloppy speed.

Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com

www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach

www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Respect This

In 1945, my grandfather returned from the war in The Pacific to discover the America he fought for was different than the America that welcomed him home. As a first generation immigrant from the Philippines, he spent the post war years dodging misplaced racism, unemployment, and blanketed disenfranchisement towards minorities.

Although he wasn’t Japanese, the war and Pearl Harbor were still fresh. As a result, any resemblance of asian heritage was enough to solicit racist comments. And even more ignorant, yet comical, were the occasions in which he was slurred at for being Mexican.

Regardless, my grandfather loved America and understood that although he was a citizen, and had fought for America—even earning a combat infantryman’s badge for bravery on a no name island—he would never prove he was an American by simply expecting others to accept him as one. He understood that every day, he would need to demonstrate why he deserved his rights, regardless of already being entitled to them.

And therein lies a reality that is lost on the current generation despite being only decades removed from the Civil Rights movement. Just because you are entitled to certain rights, does not mean that others will allow you to access them.

My grandfather fought every day to defend rights that he had already earned. However, other large groups of immigrants used racism as an excuse to never assimilate. Consequently, these groups didn’t develop the social tools that facilitate access to what they deserved as citizens. And when inequality occurred through employment or everyday interactions, the results were tense arguments and protests that only further divided the immigrants from the majority population. Unfortunately, this meant that these minorities were only seen at their worst, when they were outraged and attempted to combat stereotypes.

Today, the faint sound a of a familiar echo can be heard over discussions of the second amendment. Owning firearms in America is a civil right. And I believe 100% that all law abiding Americans are entitled to firearms possession. Unfortunately, we’ve seen how others would abolish this right through legislation. Similar to the pockets of minorities that only interacted with majority culture during periods of conflict, gun owners are also susceptible to only allowing others to see us when we are highly emotional and attempting to combat false narratives.

And that’s the bigger problem. If we only choose to be vocal about our culture during times of conflict, then we are directing energy at disproving the opposition’s agenda. Rather than demonstrating the values we actually believe in, we are forced to disprove the ones we do not.

———

For me, shooting has never been about violence. It’s always been about craftsmanship and discipline. A man’s rifle is more than a tool, it’s an outward display of his self-reliance. I learned this when my father first taught me how to shoot at the age of eight. After an early morning hike into the forest, we arrived on a ridge line and began setting out clay pigeons. Unslinging his rifle from his shoulder, he handed it to me and said the two most important words that accompany all gun ownership, “Respect this.”

Without haste, I depleted our ammo supply. I was hooked.

The following week at school I told all of my classmates about my excursion into the wilderness. Not once did I think I was handling a tool that could also be used as a weapon. Instead, I felt so much pride in using my hands to build a skill set. I played sports and was athletic, but shooting and firearms were different.

Later, when I was deployed overseas, I witnessed first hand the uncertainty that is created by lawless regimes in failed states. Caught between the violence of militia groups, terrorists, and government forces, civilians in these countries were living a dystopian reality. For them, gun ownership was not about heritage and craftsmanship. There was no time for that. Gun ownership was that of necessity for family security.

In the US, a citizen’s security is not constantly under threat by criminal actors or non-state terrorists. Still, bad things happen and the police are hardly capable of preventing all crime. Worse, the temporary lawlessness caused by extreme natural disasters or civil unrest can actually rival the violence of war zones. However, the nation as a whole functions. We are not living under constant fear of our personnel security being threatened and society’s infrastructure collapsing.

This allows gun ownership to exist beyond the sole purpose of personal safety, and is why American gun culture is rich with a heritage that respects craftsmanship, rugged individualism, and family traditions.

Give that a second, because the following is important.

If a tool’s only utility is grounded in fear, it allows for one dimensional stereotypes of its owner. Those opposed to your beliefs will label you, contain you, which will anger you while also leaving you vulnerable to manipulation. Although this is unfair, it happens regardless.

Stereotypes of gun owners and gun culture in America couldn’t be further from the truth. Yet, the only time the nation as a whole interacts with gun owners is following the tragedy of a mass shooting. With emotions already high and fingers being pointed, responsible gun owners are pigeon holed into false identities that they then feel forced to defend.

We’re not backwoods racists incapable of adapting to metropolitan society. We’re not paranoid hermits stockpiling for a last stand. We’re not men attempting to compensate for insecurities about masculinity.

We are, however, doctors and blue collar workers. Feminists and fathers. Hunters and hipsters (yes I’ve met them). Republicans and Democrats. Yet, this is not who the mainstream anti-gun crowd knows us as. Instead, they see us at our worst. When we feel attacked after the tragedy of mass shootings; and when we take the bait and respond to false headlines that only serve the purpose of agitating. Yes, it is necessary to critique flawed statistics about gun violence. But longterm change of perception is not accomplished through memes or shouting bumper sticker slogans. These actions only add gasoline to the dumpster fire.

In the long run, appreciation of our culture won’t be won by only engaging the anti-gun crowd on their terms. It isn’t enough to only make our culture known when we are called to defend it. We must also do it during lulls and periods of normalcy. As a young American, the pride I felt in using my hands to learn a skill was unrivaled. No sport or achievement in school mirrored the satisfaction of focusing my body and mind on a target, and then sending a bullet to score a direct hit.

Throughout the US, everyday Americans feel similar sentiments towards gun ownership. But we cannot make these qualities known in the middle of an argument. Arguing with opposition never changes their mind, it just causes them to further entrench in their beliefs. Therefore we will never experience a significant blow to the anti-gun crowd by only challenging their false narratives. Instead we must demonstrate through our own agendas why we value firearms. The greatest success I experienced with this approach was after I left the military and attended college.

I finished my undergraduate studies at a California university. The political climate annoyed me—trigger warning—but I was there because the campus was parked on the beach. Despite the confused politics of the school, I started a marksmanship club that allowed students and faculty to participate in recreational shooting. At first, the faculty were concerned with sanctioning a gun club on campus. But prohibiting the club contradicted all of their rhetoric about equality and inclusion. Approved by the university, we began hosting monthly range events for students.

We were a hit.

What surprised me most about the club was that there was no single unifying characteristic of its members. There were graduate students and sorority girls. Faculty members and socially underdeveloped Generation Z’ers. Some of the club members owned firearms, but most did not. Regardless, shooting was never about violence. Marksmanship was a sport. Our members easily classified it next to other outdoor activities such as surfing.

The students felt a similar satisfaction that I felt with my father by shooting rifles and pistols for the first time. For me, fulfillment also came in the form of mentoring young adults to do something with their hands other than text or take selfies. The success of the marksmanship club serves as a broader vignette about gun culture in America. When you label a group of people without ever actually engaging with them, you’re likely to develop stereotypes that are not grounded in any kind of reality. The administration at the university was concerned about promoting gun culture because they had been exposed to the wrong narratives about gun ownership. For them, guns were strictly symbols of violence.

On the other hand, the students were characteristic of everyday Americans. They enjoyed the sporting of marksmanship because it allowed them to learn a skill with their hands. Their motivation was not derived from fear. It was not of hollow bravado. As a group, their satisfaction was communal. An appreciation of American heritage, being outdoors, and learning discipline.

A finer moment of responsibility was displayed by a graduating female that explained why she was learning to shoot a pistol. She already secured a job and would live by herself in a new city. She considered buying a pistol for self-defense, but dismissed it as an option due to fear of misuse. The club allowed her an opportunity to learn about firearms. Not solely from the standpoint of self-defense (or fear) but through an appreciation of American heritage and taking personal responsibility for her safety.

———

For me, marksmanship is important because it is one of the few things I can actually do with my hands in the modern business world. I love writing, I love creating, but marksmanship is something tangible. In a trip to San Francisco my friend Mark took me shooting on private land outside of the city. He was formally an engineer in tech and recently transitioned over to the executive side running operations for a decent size firm. He is a part of what is actually a very large number of closet gun owners in Silicon Valley. Mark gets excited about firearms, but as an engineer it is usually out of respect for craftsmanship.

Regardless, Mark loves shooting because it is a physical test of his skill and discipline. Loading magazines on the back of his hybrid SUV he looked at me and said, “A lot of my peers make decent money, but they’re incredibly unhappy. Everyone in tech goes through the typical phases of getting really into endurance racing or hiking, but hobbies are like fads. Shooting is different. When I come out to the range, it is one of the few times I can actually disconnect from my phone and just focus on myself. It’s kind of like yoga that way.”

This appreciation for firearms that Mark and so many Americans have is not demonstrated when we’re screaming to explain why 30-round magazines shouldn’t be outlawed.

Mark has converted several of his hybrid-driving-soylent-diet-hipster-beard executive buddies into gun owners. He did not accomplish this by challenging anti-gun beliefs, but instead by showing the positive aspects of why he appreciates firearms. This truth is at the core of all civil rights movements. If you only promote your values when others attack it, you will never show the real depth of your culture.

———

When I was younger, if someone attacked gun culture, I felt that they were attacking my family. All of those trips to the ridge line with my father would surge to the forefront of my mind. However, these sentiments were never something I could demonstrate mid-argument. By getting drunk with emotion and charging head-on against the opposition’s narrative, I was only ensuring that they would control the flow of debate. Although it was satisfying to fact check someone in the heat of the moment, it accomplished nothing in the long run.

In college, when the administration was hesitant towards sanctioning the gun club, I did not respond by telling them why they were wrong about guns, or by defaulting to bumper sticker slogans and pro gun memes on social media. Instead, I showed them on my own terms and through my own narrative why I value firearms. This produced the lasting effect of challenging ignorance without giving into toxic behavior, but more importantly, it equipped me with the tools to champion gun ownership outside of the opposition’s control of the narrative.

By recognizing that he needed to demonstrate value in his rights every day, my Grandfather developed social tools that allowed him to navigate racist agendas. Similarly, I try to do the same with the second amendment. Although I am entitled as a citizen to own firearms, it doesn’t guarantee that others will not try to abolish this right. When I see a purposefully inflammatory anti-gun agenda, I do not allow myself to give into anger. Because as with all political movements, if someone can anger you (both from your party or the oppositions), they will control you.

Owning a gun in America is a civil right. And our nation has a rich history of civil rights being upheld by individuals that not only defend their culture, but also champion it.

Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com

www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach

www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Now More Than Ever, Standards And Leadership Matter

The Taliban’s ambush kicked off with the standard barrage of RPGs and machine gun fire. After completing their “mad minute” of initiation fires, the surprise attack lulled and we maneuvered out of the kill zone to coordinate our response.

Unlike previous ambushes, the Taliban either through overconfidence or misreading of the terrain positioned themselves in a wadi. Clear of any civilian structures and risk of collateral damage, they were exposed to the full capacity of our small arms, mortars, and crew served machine guns.

It was the type of fight we begged for. An open engagement with what was an elusive enemy that preferred to fight from the homes of civilians, purposely using them as shields. With a hastily formed assault line of gun trucks, we suppressed Taliban fighting positions and dismounted personnel began prepping mortar fire to contain them.

Everything was textbook, flawless with execution, except one thing.

Prone behind his machine gun, a junior soldier attached to our team wasn’t shooting the Taliban positions.

“Why aren’t you shooting?”

“I can’t see them.”

He was lying, but he wasn’t a coward. He knew where the Taliban were. Everyone did because tracers from our heavy weapons directed fires at the Taliban’s skirmish line.

The fear of death wasn’t what scared the soldier from shooting. Instead, he was afraid of punishment. For doing something wrong and being made an example of by a higher headquarters that readily distributed career ending reprimands. The irony was painful. A highly trained—albeit junior—soldier failed to perform his mission critical task because he was afraid of our senior leadership, not the enemy.

———

Last month, the nation again revisited an uncomfortably familiar cycle of mourning, outrage, and finger pointing after the Parkland Florida school shooting. However, following this specific tragedy, the typical week long news cycle about gun control was pushed into the backseat as a nation cried out against the law enforcement officers that failed to enter the school and kill the gunman.

Civilians, soldiers, and cops took to social media with an unending supply of blame and ostracized the deputies that failed to perform their duties. And just as the outrage was beginning to subside, news surfaced about officers that were actually reprimanded for attempting to swarm the scene in an attempt to kill the shooter.

Despite all of the blame, meme generating, and “I would have run into the school” sound clips; we’re still left with a hard question to answer.

Why did this happen?

During the ambush in Afghanistan, I knew that the junior soldier on the machine gun was competent. He was not afraid, and despite it being a terrible decision, would charge blindly into a compound full of Taliban by himself if he knew he wouldn’t get in trouble.

However, I don’t know the deputies that failed to enter the school in Florida. In fact, few of us do. I don’t know if they were afraid, or confused due to lack of training. But what I do know is that organizations do not fail as a whole because of a single mission. Organizations fail throughout years in which a collection of small and insignificant events compound over time to produce a culture of complacency.

For tactical professionals, the hardest decision to make often isn’t running towards the sound of gunfire. Instead, it can be taking on the less heroic task of attempting to change complacent organizational culture.

As a trooper on the line you never get to choose your commander. As a commander, you do not get to choose which policies your predecessors establish. When an organization fails, the easy answer is for subordinates to blame weak leaders, and for leaders to blame rigid policy. However, pointing fingers  after mission failure tends to yield minimal results because the reality is that complacency must be challenged every day.

It’s in the small things:

-Every time we let a teammate skip out on training for non-urgent personal matters.

-Every time we bend the rules for those that fail to meet physical fitness standards.

-Every time we finger drill mission critical SOPs.

-Every time we ignore negligent discharges instead of enforcing punishment.

-Every time we reward promotions for precedence instead of ability.

-Every time we complain about the lack of quality with department training, but then fail to seek out better methods for acquiring skill.

-Every time we let a teammate improperly configure his equipment (e.g. tourniquet not easily accessible) so that he can instead have cooler looking kit with “do-nothing” pouches.

-Every time we let our ego say “But I’ve been (SWAT/SRT/Special Forces) for “X” years to compensate for performance failures.

During pre-deployment training for Afghanistan, a brand new Green Beret assigned to our company negligently discharged a simunition gun. He wasn’t in a shoot house or in a training scenario. He was just loading the trucks for movement to the day’s training area and got careless. Regardless, he was removed from the company and sent to a staff section as punishment.

Later, during a 2-month CQB train up, a seasoned Green Beret negligently discharged a pistol. Similarly, this wasn’t in the shoot house or during a course of fire on the range. It was while he was clearing his team’s weapons before they were transported back to the arms room. His failure with the ND was both because he finger drilled his checks, but also because a teammate had set him up for failure by lazily placing a loaded gun in an area that was designated only for cold weapons. That Green Beret was not reprimanded because “he’s a good guy.” But because he was not punished, the stigma of his reputation always beat him to his next assignment. A career debilitating black eye that he would not recover from.

Examples such as these exist in many forms. Whether its failing to meet physical fitness standards, or misuse of operational funds. Ultimately, if an organization fails to correct small issues, the problems compound and reach a tipping point. Typically, a commander will overly punish a minor infraction in an attempt to set an example for future decisions. Of course, this starts an organization down a path in which trust between subordinates and leadership is eroded.

Returning from our deployment to Afghanistan, we were not greeted by senior leadership that applauded us for a job well done (or for most, a job well endured, because hey, democracy is kind of a hard thing to spread). Instead, we were marched into the battalion classroom and told all the ways in which we would be kicked out of the unit for integrity violations.

As the infractions were explained, we all began shaking our heads and rolling our eyes. The individuals that were made examples of were known for their poor professional behavior. But in the past, instead of being punished, they had been allowed to fail upwards to their next assignment. Although they were finally reprimanded in the end, it was at the expense of establishing policy that impacted every soldier in the unit.

———

Attempting to change organizational policy is a monumental task, and often isn’t one accomplished through a single individual’s career. However, real professional growth occurs day-to-day, and in the grey areas where there are no strict guidelines or rules. In other words, it occurs both when someone is and isn’t watching you.

There is also a difference between rules and standards, and the two must not be considered the same. Rules declare limits, but must not be arbitrary otherwise they actually encourage individuals to subvert or bypass them. However, standards are meant to empower because their achievement indicates superior skill. Organizations that misunderstand these realities will use standards and rules synonymously. And instead of empowering individuals to achieve success, will actually deter them from trying for fear of a reprimand that accompanies failure.

My successes as a soldier weren’t because I possessed natural talent or superior skills. It was because I had direct supervisors that understood how to create a learning environment in which I wasn’t afraid to fail. This allowed me to grow as a noncommissioned officer because I understood the difference between punishment and professional critique. Organizations that fail to separate the two will create a zero sum environment in which troopers are afraid to do anything wrong. Consequently, this handicaps otherwise competent individuals from returning fire at enemy ambush lines, or running towards the sound of gunfire to save innocent lives.

Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com

www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach

www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

BCM Welcomes Mike Glover and Aaron Barruga to the Gunfighter Program

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

January 2, 2018

Hartland, WI – BCM welcomes US Army Special Operations combat veterans Mike Glover and Aaron Barruga to the Company’s Gunfighter Program.

Established in 2014, the Gunfighter Program has been a means for BCM to highlight some of our industries most experienced and skilled teachers in both tactics and the manual of arms. Each instructor in the program is a combat veteran that has provided years of instruction to our community of professionals and responsible citizens alike, after their military service concluded. These men are some of the finest our nation’s military has produced and it has been an honor to know and support them all.

Mike Glover – Fieldcraft LLC


A US Army Special Forces veteran with more than 18 years of military service, Glover has operated at the highest levels of the US Special Operations Forces, serving as a Weapons Specialist, Sniper, Assaulter, Recon Specialist, Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC), Team Sergeant, and Operations SGM. Glover’s last position was as an independent contractor for a US government agency, where he provided security services OCONUS in semi and non-permissive environments.

Today, Mike is the owner of FieldCraft Survival LLC, providing consulting services for companies in security, management and leadership, as well providing knowledge and equipment resources related to outdoors survival and lifestyle.

www.fieldcraftsurvival.com

Aaron Barruga – Guerrilla Approach

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Enlisting after the 9/11 attack, Aaron enlisted and served as a Green Beret in the US Army’s 1st Special Forces Group. After leading militia fighters in Afghanistan, conducting raids with Iraqi SWAT officers, and training foreign commandos in Asia, Aaron learned an incontestable truth about war: everything comes down to brilliance in the basics.

After completing his service, Barruga founded Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he is among the vanguard of GWOT veterans that are modernizing contemporary tactical training for US law enforcement and self-reliant citizens.

guerrillaapproach.com

Gunfighter Program
Meet the rest of the Instructors in the BCM Gunfighter Program here: bravocompanymfg.com/gunfighters

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Monday, November 27th, 2017

We normally offer Gunfighter Moments on Saturdays but due to last weekend’s holiday, we have resheduled for this morning. Enjoy!

A little about Aaron Barruga. Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

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www.guerrillaapproach.com
www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach
www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they regularly bring us different trainers to offer words of wisdom.