Protonex Technology Corp

Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Barruga’

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

IMG_5832

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.

footer

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.

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

You Won’t Become A Better Tactical Marksman Until You Become A Stronger Tactical Leader

Aaron Barruga

As a twenty year old Special Forces sergeant, I was predictably overconfident and periodically arrogant. I was strong and fast, but that was mostly because of youth. I was great at shooting drills. But only because I could learn sequences and had no clue as to which skills impacted my performance overall. I exploited my status as “Special Forces” and allowed conventional soldiers to mistake my confidence with competence, when in reality I was often winging it.

My performance in controlled environments—or training—was only an indicator of just that, my performance in training. I was strong, but couldn’t lead. I could shoot fast, but couldn’t train others to do the same. My first trip to the Philippines changed these realities through a healthy bruising of ego.

My team was working with a Philippine Army infantry unit and teaching them US small-unit fighting techniques. During the trip, I was tasked with teaching a 2-hour block of instruction on hemorrhage control and care under fire. Fortunately, my team already possessed a slide deck for the class from a previous deployment, so most of the preparation for my course was already accomplished.

I bombed my presentation.

I failed because I committed the most annoying error as a lecturer, I read off slides and when questioned I simply restated what I had already said previously. Although I understood the steps to take during care under fire, it was only because I had learned to follow sequences. I knew the answers to questions, but not because I knew the answer, but because I knew what phrase to regurgitate. Fortunately, the practical exercises and hands-on portion of the class allowed students to work through what I failed to explain.

Transitioning to the range, I was allowed back in my comfort zone of shooting drills as quickly as I could. This satisfied my vanity, but again demonstrated that I didn’t really know anything. One of the Filipino soldiers I was coaching needed serious improvement on his application of trigger control. Attempting to coach this soldier, I executed the same error as the day prior in my medical class. Rather than teaching, I was simply regurgitating the right answer.

The Filipino soldier experienced issues because he was shooting too quickly which made him sloppy. My solution was the regurgitated answer of “slow down.” Although slowing down would have helped the shooter, it was supplemental and not the primary solution. Watching us run racetracks around the same problem, a senior teammate came over and mentored me through how to teach the right answer.

To truly mentor a student, whether in the gym, the classroom, or on the range, you have to encourage him to pursue a line of thinking in which he arrives at both wrong and right answers. During this process you must guide him through the critical thinking process that allows for real learning.

However, the military and law enforcement are not accustomed to this style of teaching. The martial and conservative nature of these organizations often results in teaching that is a one-sided dialogue. Although a recruit might have a question, he dare not ask it and seem stupid, or become the center of attention for a bad instructor that is more interested in punishing basic trainees. Consequently, a majority of tactical professionals are indoctrinated at a very early point in their career to seek regurgitation, not actual learning.

My teammate had been shooting longer than me, but that’s not why he was able to remedy my situation. In diverse environments working with individuals of different skill levels and different levels of being coachable, he learned that being a subject matter expert doesn’t mean knowing the right answer, it also means knowing the wrong answers, and how they all tie in together to support the broader learning objectives.

Leadership forces a type of accountability that cannot be learned as a lone-wolf. As a junior Green Beret, I had minimal responsibility and made decisions that supported my missions, not the performance of others. At company-level range days, if the primary instructor taught something I thought was boring, I would physically roll my eyes in the back of the crowd. Rather than focussing on the basics, I wanted to perform exercises that I thought looked cool.

Of course, the principle issue with exercises that look cool is that they are often self-serving. We see this dynamic a lot on Instagram now. Shooters running around, tossing kettle bells, throwing rocks at students, and punching rubber mannequins. Although these actions are enticing and appear purposeful, they typically develop no compoundable skills and lack external applicability. Under these circumstances, performing these drills only makes you good at performing the drills.

Shooting cool drills did nothing for me because I couldn’t deconstruct and identify the different skills being exercised. Again, I could regurgitate what the right answers were, but that was not always significant as previously demonstrated. It wasn’t until I was given more responsibility and promoted to higher positions of leadership that I was able to identify what was truly important about any skills development.

As an individual, you can default to the regurgitation fallacy and not even know it. This is simply because your focus is narrow. But if the collective performance of subordinates impacts mission success—or life and death—it forces a comprehensive examination of how you develop stronger troops. This allows leaders to transcend teaching methods that are self-serving and approaches that encourage drills that only satisfy drills.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to shoot the fastest, or being able to lift the most weight. But focussing on narrow end states undermines our overall growth. For example, who wins a gunfight, the police officer that can deadlift 550lbs or the one who can only deadlift 325lbs?

Regurgitators want to shoot drills that demonstrate speed, but they can’t explain how to develop consistent speed, and not just a one-time shot timer success. They want to argue over bumper sticker tactics and subjective performance variables such as “how much finger you place on the trigger because such and such said so.” None of these actions require accountability that is learned through leadership, it just demands that you shout louder than the person you’re arguing with.

Leadership also forces you to examine the possible second and third order of effects of a decision. Whether intended or not, every action creates reactions. In the heat of the moment, predicting unintended consequences can be difficult, but is an indicator of your value added to the team and the mission.

As a junior Green Beret, all I brought to the table was an enthusiasm for lifting weights and shooting. As a result, I was not a long-term asset. In order to truly improve your ability as a tactical marksman you must become a stronger leader; because leadership forces professional maturity that cannot be achieved alone, no matter how many reps you put in at the range or in the gym.

footer

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, August 19th, 2017

AS VEHICLES BECOME THE PREFERRED WEAPON OF TERROR ATTACKS, PATROL OFFICERS SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH THESE 5 CONCEPTS

Aaron Barruga
August 18th, 2017

header

Since Thursday, 13 people have been killed and 100 more injured as vehicles were driven into crowds in Eastern Spain as part of terror attacks executed by the Islamic State. In March, a car plowed through pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge in London, killing 5 and injuring 49. Last December, a truck driven through a crowd in Berlin killed 11 people and injured 56.

For terrorists, vehicles pose numerous tactical advantages over traditional small arms or explosive attacks. For these reasons, law enforcement officers should consider the following five concepts.

1: PRE-STAGING A VEHICLE PATROL RIFLE
Whether in the trunk, the center console, or the back of a motorcycle, officers must be familiar with the rapid employment of carbines or any weapon capable of defeating windshields and door panels. Simple dry-fire exercises such as releasing the carbine from its mount and dismounting the vehicle can help with minimizing officer response times during crises.

If responding to crises, officers should consider releasing the carbine and staging it for quick access on the passenger seat of their patrol car. The ability to arrive on scene and immediately step out of his vehicle with a patrol rifle allows an officer to be an immediate force multiplier when responding to crises.

Stow your sling with rubber bands or similar retainers. Slings that hang loosely inside of vehicle mounts can create unnecessary headache should an officer need to rapidly dismount his vehicle. To ensure a patrol rifle’s sling doesn’t catch on dashboard equipment or the steering wheel, slings should be stowed against the patrol rifle with rubber bands. When stowing a sling with rubber bands, remember to build in a quick release by “s” folding the sling. This allows it to move freely of the carbine when an officer decides to sling his patrol rifle.

2: UNDERSTAND SAFE WEAPON READY POSITIONS
Vehicle attacks are most likely to occur in urban environments because of the target density available to terrorists. Responding officers will need to navigate through crowds, possibly with weapons at the ready. Officers must feel confident running with both carbines and pistols in these confined areas. The ability to move aggressively in and around terrain without flagging bystanders or fellow officers is critical for a safe response.

When teaching ready positions, competency should not be sacrificed in favor of misinterpreted simplicity. Despite sayings such as “more tools for your toolbox,” during a stressful situation individuals fall back on the technique that they have the most repetitions performing. Furthermore, utilize common sense when validating ready positions. If a technique contradicts the tenets of developing competent shooters (such as placing a pistol against the shooter’s forehead for “safety”) avoid these methods so that you can instead develop more well-rounded tactical responders.

3: THE DANGERS OF SYMPATHETIC FIRE
Our senses are overwhelmed by stimulus in urban environments. In close quarter engagements, over saturation may cause an individual to pull a trigger as part of a sympathetic reaction to another officer shooting. It is paramount that officers always understand what lay in front and behind the threats they are engaging.

4: HOW TO CLEAR A VEHICLE AS A SINGLETON
The exigent circumstances of terror or active shooter attacks might demand that an officer individually clear vehicles containing suspects. Although certain protocol might advise officers to wait for backup or even SWAT, in his dying breaths a terrorist’s resolve might be to continue killing bystanders. For this reason, an officer must feel confident in his ability to clear a vehicle by himself. This does not suggest that officers unnecessarily put themselves at risk, but it also does not excuse them from performing the task should it be necessary.

5: IMPROVISE, ADAPT, AND OVERCOME.
In preparing for urban terror attacks, perform scenario training that encourages adaptability and abandons rigid training approaches, or “if this, then that” mentalities. Despite being labeled as “stress induced” or “unscripted,” a lot of scenario based training fails officers because the techniques taught only work under the very narrow guidelines of the specific training scenario. This produces officers that are great at navigating artificial training environments, but these individuals are more likely to freeze when responding to the spontaneous nature of a real fight.

It is impossible to predict exactly how an attack will be executed, or what exactly will transpire on the ground during the attack. For these reasons, it is critical that officers participate in training that encourages both flexibility and decisiveness.

footer

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, May 27th, 2017

YOU ARE ALREADY FAST ENOUGH

Aaron Barruga
May 2017

Header

By his 20th iteration, an Afghan guerrilla with minimal marksmanship training was shooting the 2x2x2 exercise just as efficiently as Instagram tactical celebrities. Only an hour earlier had we discussed some key points of marksmanship, then I gave him a crate of ammo and coached him through each repetition of the exercise. Two weeks later, that same guerrilla fled his checkpoint during the initial phase of Taliban attack. So what happened?

Obviously there is no link between how quickly we can shoot an exercise and our performance in battle. Regardless, as tactical shooters we can be notoriously bad at searching for significance where there is none, or misreading the real importance of a shooting drill. We see this happen quite a bit with speed. Everyone wants to be faster, which is fine, but faster does not always correlate with better.

For novice shooters, static speed shooting exercises help develop confidence and proficiency. For experienced shooters, speed exercises become a measurement of how well we can learn a sequence and perfect our movements. Neither of these are bad, however, the seductiveness of a rapid rate of fire can cause shooters to focus on the wrong aspects of their performance. Moreover, while pursuing speed it can become easy for us to neglect the development of discipline that forces us to proactively see our sights.

We retroactively see our sights by hijacking our natural point of aim. I see this happen a lot at the seven yard line. Whether with a pistol or carbine, shooters just point and squeeze their trigger as soon as they “feel” their sights are in the right spot. We become so focused on beating a time standard that we neglect the unintended development of bad habits. Although it is important to understand where your body naturally presents your sights, it can build a false positive regarding performance feedback.

Body

I experienced these effects as a junior team guy. As a novice, I obsessed over how quickly I could shoot a string of five rounds at two targets, perform a reload, and then shoot the exercise again. Although I was developing confidence, it was at the expense of incredibly sloppy speed. During a force on force scenario I rushed my shots in a shoot house and either missed or landed wounding shots that would fail to neutralize a threat. The cadre pulled me aside and told me to discipline my fire and see my sights. Roger that, see my sights, no issue. The next run through I continued to rush my shots and not enforce any discipline because I had performed so many garbage reps shooting for speed.

Because I had developed quick, but sloppy hand speed, I assumed that the cadence at which I shot rounds against cardboard represented how quickly I needed to shoot a gun against a real threat. The next day, the cadre demonstrated their run through the force on force scenario. None of their shots were rapid fire and their cadence was entirely sporadic. They only shot when they saw center on the OPFOR, and instead made up for speed with efficiency moving in between rooms.

From a tactical marksmanship standpoint, everything comes down to whether or not you can present your sights, and then exercise discipline when squeezing the trigger. That’s it. Marksmanship exercises ensure we understand how to use a weapon, but it is actually really hard—as demonstrated by the Afghan guerrilla and myself—to design shooting exercises that create a reliable baseline for real world performance. Yes, trim the fat and sharpen your mechanics, but do not assume a sub one second draw, or a sub two second 2x2x2 signifies the most important aspects of training.

Unfortunately, it can be incredibly difficult to convince a shooter of the aforementioned. The martial nature of combat marksmanship encourages us to seek out sequences, and then shoot those sequences as fast as we can. Learning a sequence, then following all of the steps to perform that sequence makes us feel good about ourselves. This is also why so many shooters never break their plateau. Because they have a pre-shooting sequence, and a post-shooting sequence, shooters can poorly perform a shooting exercise by shooting as fast as possible, but because they did their pre and post sequences, they mentally check the box and reward themselves for following a list of steps. Pre and post shooting sequences are not bad. However, assuming they signify proficiency is akin to assuming that the pre-lift act of adding weights to an olympic bar, then the post act of removing them signifies our ability to power clean.

We must encourage shooters to develop speed through exercises such as 2x2x2, but all speed must be followed up with discipline. Aggressively driving our sights to the center of an easy hit target helps develop novices, but plateaus the seasoned marksman. Worse, it is easy for experienced shooters to slip into auto-pilot in which they are not truly seeing their sights, and are instead seduced by the rapid rate of fire in an exercise.

Although we need to develop the confidence to shoot quickly while under stress, we must always reinforce discipline. Shooting a string of five rounds at a cardboard target only requires us to drive our sights back to a single plain, and thus we can unintentionally hijack our natural point of aim. But remember, real flesh moves. Shooting five rounds at a living breathing target causes the target to move after each round, and results in five separate plains where we acquire sight picture. If we’ve spent our range time chasing speed and building sloppy habits, we can set ourselves up for failure when we encounter a real target that requires a slower rate of fire in exchange for more precise shots.

Footer

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

Guerilla Approach – How We Construct Tactics For A Real World Fight

Thursday, May 4th, 2017