Don’t overcomplicate it…

The meme… template… concept slide? Whatever it is, I suppose, floated around the internet awhile from a Nick who claims the status of Nickest on the IG. He’s at least using his noodle, credit there. But he’s also overthinking and that is among the greatest errors we in the industry commit on the daily.

An overly clever coworker of mine tried to ‘impress’ our boss one day by asking how we, or rather do we, have a plan for if someone Timothy McVeigh’d the casino we worked at by pretending to be the band. I laughed and said, “Yeah, hope you are on the far side when it happens.” My boss laughed and nodded, being realistic in our position in the world. The long, short, and medium of our reality was that our little polite safety force of door greeters wasn’t going to intercede on a VBIED with anything but sheer dumb luck, if someone was that mad at the casino and hadn’t telegraphed their attack to where we could see it and get law enforcement involved, it was going to be a rough day.

Don’t overcomplicate it.


You know what it means. If you don’t, use a bit of Google-Fu.

Simple concepts apply to greater numbers of people and situations. When I say apply, I mean can be accomplished successfully by. This slide covers a complex concept for a nuanced offensive situation and I fail to see any reasonable purpose for it. At what level of operational planning do we believe that civilians will be fire and maneuvering offensively?

It is going to be enough of a herculean task enough to drill any group of civilians of disparate physical and skill levels to be proficient with a light rifle, to say nothing of building them into a jury-rigged, quasi-heavy weapons team.

It would quite literally be easier to steal a 240 from a local armory. Much less effort. Or, in the odd chance the Canucks invade, the GPMGs are coming out of the armory anyway.

Problem solved. Heavy weapons unlocked… literally.

The Civilian “Support Squad” Concept

Supporting what? Conceptualizing fighting in what capacity? What ‘maneuver element’, as the original post implies, exists to be supported?

This ‘concept’ somewhat successfully turns a five man team into what would amount to one, singular, lonely M240 or other GPMG… and I don’t understand why we would want to. My job in the Marines was to be that maneuver element being talked about and I cannot conceive of a manner in which a civilian “gun team” makes sense to plan.

“To fix the enemy in place and maneuver on them, Keith! Duh!”

What enemy?

And what civilian gun team?

And again, what maneuver element? What apocalyptic scenario are you envisioning where this requires any attention at all?

This could be a cool alt-history way to solve a problem in a novel. This is an imagined problem with an imagined solution to it that, of course, works nicely in fiction/theory.

Ukraine? They handed out AKs, gave a few days of instruction, and made people skirmishers, but ultimately the actual uniformed forces are doing the fire and maneuver thing with real machine guns. So in the most real world example we have ever been given of a space where this might be needed it doesn’t appear to be being done…

Pick your squad

Alright team. The… well, not the Russians… The not-the-Russians have invaded and you must sally forth all sallied and forth with your fire team. Who are you picking?

Nope. You don’t get them.

You get your neighbor, who’s an alright guy or gal, and a bunch of various well meaning tryhards of highly variable quality, who have maybe seen a Nutnfancy video, GarandThumb if you’re lucky and/or they’re younger. Odds are real long that any of them has a recent shooting course under their belt. No, a state compliant CCW course doesn’t count. It may be the best you get, but it doesn’t count.

Say ‘it goes down’ at work, now your coworkers are your team. How screwed are you, really? Even against not-the-Russians I have one coworker in office who might be not-a-liability in a gunfight, especially one that is more infantry than robbery.

Face it, your ad hoc “machine gun” team is incapable of basic weapons manipulations. Don’t scoff, just about everyone near you would get DQ’d and sent home at a single shooting match stage. The actual no shit military struggles with basics once you’re off the ‘line companies’, yet we think a civi-team is going to have enough presence of mind to implement a support role with specialization tasking? Most of these people are not going to be able to reliably hit targets at 100 yards, yet this concept expects they will be able, and equipped, to run two battle rifles like a machine gun for target suppression out to 800 or so.

Again, why? Why are we worried about building a “squad” for this specialty? You’ll be luckier than odds suggest you have a right to be if every one of the volunteers shows up with a functional rifle. Those rifles won’t be zeroed. They will probably not have slings on properly, or at all. Their optics are going to be a whole mix of whatever. Spare magazines are going to run spectrum from a single backup el cheapo pmag clone to a hopeful mix of MOE and M3 PMags, Surefeeds, Duramags, and Lancers… hopeful being the operative word.

What on Earth suggests that worrying about turning five of these guys into a static ‘support weapon’ has value?

If you get a fairly squared away bunch, veterans and competition shooters perhaps. If they have common weapons that are mutually supporting, like common ammunition and magazines. If you can foresee forming them into a squad, then you’d be best served in first drilling them as individuals. After individual spin up, drill them as a security force on ECPs, perimeter security, interlocking fires, communication, medical, etc., and then as a light patrol/skirmisher force. There are so many tasks prior to developing heavy weapons doctrine and improvised heavy weapons doctrine.

Don’t overcomplicate it

I had several discussions with support/logistic echelon soldiers about how CQB or close contact or any number of events would work and to these soldiers, just like this hypothetical civilian squad, I would advise.

“Don’t worry about it. We aren’t there yet.”

The most basic shoots we did in my time with MIANG were familiarization fires and the basic service rifle qualification, and both were done in a ‘best we can do’ manner which left no time to build individual skills. A soldier was either proficient or not, and those not were just kinda left in the dust like ‘you suck and you shouldn’t’. We routinely failed soldiers in this manner.

So if you feel the need to build a fireteam start taking people to classes, lots of classes, individual pistol, rifle, and medical classes. Camp with them, hike with them, workout with them. Once you’re warm and fuzzy on the individual skills you can start taking some of the team tactic classes offered here and there.

But you’re going to find a few things out really quickly. Most people won’t ante up and go, either in a group or on their own initiative. A few will, most won’t. Too much time and money diverted from other items they need more immediately, I get that. Of the few who do go, not all will emerge proficient and ready to start building a ‘team’ mentality.

I remember jumping into Day 2 of Dan Shaw’s Carbine course with VSO and running a some buddy team integration but, not to toot my own horn, he and I are fairly proficient users and we took it slow. Why? We’d never run anything together, so thankfully both knowing that we slowed down and communicated clearly when we were working barricades and malfunctions next to each other. And that was all we were doing, malfunctions around a single barricade, not a buddy team or fireteam assault, just Dan making our guns stop by messing up the ejection and we had to communicate it, swap to our handguns which Dan would also mess with, fix our guns, and keep shooting and hitting the targets. There was a lot going on, for how little was actually going on.

I’ve spent time nearly riding the back of surgeons, like Yoda on Luke, making certain I could catch a muzzle and redirect it or answer the same question again, and again, and again because the task stacking that the rest of the class was managing is too much for this individual.

This is a learning curve with no shortcuts, short cuts lead to confusion and dangerous handling.

Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.