“Vehicles are another piece of the terrain.”

 

Whether you’re conducting operations as a Special Missions Unit (SMU) member or a street cop out on patrol, fighting from and around a vehicle gets extremely sexy very quickly. Further to this, employing the wrong tactics can put you on a one way ticket to a permanent horizontal state.

I’m not going to go into depth about vehicle tactics specifically but rather the concept and application of the vehicle as a piece of terrain, as well as some seriously bad trends that are developing in the US and what I have also seen emerging in Australia. Remember, every article is situation/ mission profile dependent so this will by no means answer every question there is to vehicle tactics.

Whilst my primary background is helo-based interdiction and disruption operations, I have spent a fair bit of time around soft skin sedans, Special Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and their up armoured brethren - most recently on vehicle packages in West Virginia and Moyock, NC.

To put things into perspective, an infantry unit will always fire, manoeuvre and re-position themselves to a more advantageous position. In turn, maximising safety and increasing lethality to effectively engage and kill the enemy. A vehicle, regardless of style, is exactly that - just another feature within the terrain.

Too often, bad training scars are developing where shooters are utilising every single piece of cover on a vehicle before manoeuvring to another firing position on the same vehicle because their Instagram instructor showed it that way. And this is what they are, training scars - not even relevant for training to get into a fight. You wouldn’t use the same piece of terrain more than twice and certainly wouldn’t repetitively “pop-up” in the exact same position so why would you when utilising a vehicle as cover?

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Don’t worry, the above shooter fired and manoeuvred appropriately however the image above demonstrates the six common firing positions shooters are generally moving to in sequential order - more or less.

“Predictability, just like stillness, creates death”

An often neglected concept in Vehicle Tactic classes is that the enemy is not cardboard. The enemy shoots, moves, communicates, thinks and most importantly, studies in their off-time just like we do. Whilst you’re busy doing the *“Scooby Doo” on the Toyota Camry, the enemy is analysing your movements, moving and re-engaging when necessary to kill you. This will also include flanking you.

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The image above incorporates common firing positions 1/3/4/6 (ref previous image) that shooters are adopting as a means to engage a threat. Current Vehicle Tactic classes are run like ISPA competitions with pre-determined targets, rounds allocated and fixed firing positions that are turning shooters into mindless and predictable liabilities. Not only can your field of view be obscured by the lift of the vehicle (which can be crazy narrow if it’s a sedan and dependent on distance to the target), but this positioning also minimises your peripheral vision. To the right we have God’s green Earth and to the left sunny blue skies. You can’t capture any information except through the narrowest of tunnel vision which gets dusty real quick once you start banging away; so now we aren’t just having to battle auditory exclusion but also visual.

From this firing position:

  • Do you know how many threats there are throughout the engagement?

  • How can you be sure they, or one, aren’t flanking?

  • Are you moving to a superior firing position where you can adequately engage to neutralise the threat and maintain accountability of your team mates, principal and rescued civilians?

  • How close is the threat to your current firing position?

  • Can you even adequately engage the threat from this position?

In short, don’t be “Scooby Doo’ing” if you don’t have to. Assess your Vehicle Tactic package as to whether it is building a practical and functional skill set specific to the mission and wider spectrum you operate within - or is it just another ISPA stage? Trust me, whilst it’s fun dominating cardboard, bad guys will shoot back and they want to kill you.

 

*Scooby Doo - Popping your head in/ out or up/ down from cover multiple times to engage a target - Bad for you health.