Vertical Fetal Position

There’s an old saying, “combat produces combat tactics.” You learn about combat tactics in class, you don’t create them there.

You’re doing what???

There is always crazy stuff hitting the industry. All it takes a quick search on YouTube to see some of the silliness and worse the time we waste discussing much of it online. Something to consider is most discussion on tactics are cyclical. Meaning they come back around after a certain period of time. They began to loose their luster for some, probably because someone comes along trying to re-invent themselves. Then when enough time goes by someone “discovers” these old tactics again and now they are all the rage.

Feel good versus effective

Negotiating cover and or concealment is a subject everyone has an opinion on, but here are some cold hard facts to consider. Hugging the cover/concealment is more feel good than effective; which is why we call it the vertical fetal position. On the battlefield, it is not always who is the “best”, a lot of times it is who sees who first. Being able to search, locate and identify within your sector is what separates the good from the bad regarding tactics. If dealing with threats off the ground floor such as the second deck or roof tops, hugging cover would be ideal. Provided it is the tactical imperative, but managing good offset should be your default.

You have to see to do

We see it often in our assault classes where students out-run their headlights. They are not trained properly on target discrimination practices and therefore have little experience in really breaking targets down. You either don’t recognize a shoot threat, or you shoot a no-shoot threat. Both outcomes are the result of poor training, specifically not building tactics that allow you to process your battle space in real time. If you are right up on your edge or corner and you pop out or over, you have milliseconds to search, locate and identify the new space you are viewing.

Working angles

It doesn’t take much, sometimes a few feet to provide you the offset you need. Usually if you can fully mount your weapon that is good enough. At this point it is all about angles, I could break it down, but it would require a lot of coffee and a bunch of crayons. Suffice it to say you can be deliberate or dynamic. You can slowly work the problem, or quickly bust the corner. Once you have good offset and decide to clear around to the unknown the next main principle to adhere to is what we call the “three eye” principle. It is pretty simple, when ever possible keep your eyes, weapon and potential target all in line. In so doing you give yourself a degree of time to process through your target discrimination process then engage if necessary.

Cover is temporary

If performed correctly it also allows you to minimize your exposure, though in tight quarters this is not always available. The proverbial boogieman around the corner should compel you to compress your position in anticipation of a close quarters fight. However, the idea of backing off cover should be the default, followed by being up close when the situation dictates. One last comment, just remember cover is always temporary, either through degradation from projectiles or defeating through angles. If you are hunkered down behind something and it is getting rung like a bell recognize the danger. Move to your next piece of cover or more likely your last. Now, here is the kicker, if your opponent is willing to maneuver on you, don’t let that cover become your coffin. That is where the standoff will come into play.

Avoid the vertical fetal position when working cover. Mind your offset.

'Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.' Sun Tzu, Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher

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