Friday, 12 January 2018

This is why we can't have nice things...

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Whiskey Delta Gulf is an ‘all the lumens’ sort of place. We like as much light as we can carry in our pockets, on our rigs and, most certainly, on our weapons. The innovation, from old D cell MagLights taped to MP5s a la Pogoda Troop era to the modern eye searing models we use today, has been amazing. This year, especially, is proving to be a pinnacle year for those in the light fight as tactical light companies are all releasing more formidable and ground-breaking product.

Weapon lights are simply more than the ability to see in the dark with a gun. Weapon lights are life savers. Both for the weapon operator but for non-combatants stumbled upon during operations. I can attest to this from some real world experience during the GWOT.

Weapon lights are used for Positive Identification (PID), Force Projection and as a Control Measure. The primary consideration for weapon lights is PID. We don’t use weapon lights to see. We use them to identify hostile targets. The Afghans knew that a bright light piercing the darkness of the desert night was likely attached to a weapon system. We knew they knew. Thus, we used light as Force Projection by demonstrating our willingness to use force as we actively searched or denied ground with light. Yes, we aggressively used other no-light methods as well. But, as a Control Measure, light is very useful. Nothing says to a subject ‘we have you covered’ like a face full of bright light. Many a local villager was stopped in his tracks by a bright beam of light attached to a weapon. Some of these tactical concepts are not intuitive and need to be taught.

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The officer in the above photo is using his weapon light mounted to his carbine for an administrative purpose: searching a SECURE crime scene for shell casings. The scene is obviously clear as the press is  filming the search for evidence.  At a few points in the short TV clip, he either lazes himself and/or comes close to lazing his fellow officers. What else got lazed off camera?

Using a weapon light for administrative purposes is generally a bad idea. One, powerful weapon lights need charged batteries to put out the requisite lumens when called upon in a low light fight. If the weapon light has been used constantly for other purposes, the juice will not be there when you need it. Running your light dry at the beginning of a fight sucks. Use your hand held for administrative searching. Two, never let your muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. Simple, your weapon light is attached to a weapon! I have had soldiers in training offer me light while working on a casualty by pointing their weapons at me! This could have been mitigated when interior by running the weapon muzzle up and splashing the ceiling with light rather than muzzling teammates. Watch your muzzle awareness and avoid the muzzle direction dogma.

There are no bad troops. There are only bad leaders. - Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall

As said before, these tactical concepts are not necessarily intuitive and need to be taught. The failure lies within the training system. Obviously, this officer was not taught correctly. That failure lies with the leadership. Likely, they have not been trained properly either. It is known that certain Canadian police forces and government agencies will not even issue weapon lights in fear of their use administratively. TV video clips like these are fuel for that fire. Rather than equip line officers with minimum requirement gear and training to properly identify threats in adverse lighting, some chose to control a training issue with gear selection. This, too, is poor leadership.

I get it. Training is expensive. It costs budget and time. Time spent training is not time spent writing tickets, completing paperwork or breaking down doors. In the short term. Proper training reduces injuries, lawsuits and liability in the long term. Think long term, beyond your mandate, is visionary leadership.

Be a visionary. Get some training. Then help train others.

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