Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reality Based Training

I know several fighter pilots. In particular I talked with an A-10 Warthog, “tank killer”, pilot. He’s a great guy and a great father and husband. To meet him and get to know him away from his aircraft you would probably not guess that he was a pilot. He and I talked about controlling that fear and adrenaline dump that comes with a combat situation. He and I did some shooting together and I asked him how he kept control? He said because he had done it before. Training. Reality based training.
It’s been said that you never want to run into something for the first time in combat.
I’ve talked about the OODA loop (OODA=observe, orient, decide, act) and also the Fight or Flight survival trigger and its various components. I also talked about how it is necessary to go through those mechanisms as quickly as possible in order to go from a reactive to an active response to the attacker, and that it is a key factor in upping the odds in favor of your survival.
I will assume that those of you who are reading this that have had firearms instruction or combat training have heard of the effects that a spontaneous, unexpected threat stimulus has on the body. And I’m sure that we all were taught and all agree that one of the effects is that our fine motor skills go to heck in a hand basket in a high stress environment. In addition to tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, increased heart rate, the adrenaline and cortisol hormone cocktail totally negate your ability to execute fine motor skills in a gross motor skills environment. It is often described as wearing gloves or oven mitts. We’ve all been taught that. We all agree on that, right?
Tell that to a Fighter Pilot. Here you have an individual flying at Mach II in the cockpit of a $55 million dollar machine, 20,000 feet in the air, directing flight control over a bank of controls and instruments, both heads up displays and dash mounted, in charge of fire control, cognizant of the rest of his squadron and in contact with them, tracking radar both for position and possible enemy birds or radar lock on his position. In addition the pilot is following his mission directives and reporting status back to command. That is a pretty high stress environment if you ask me. And it sounds like the pilot is using some pretty fine motor skills.
Yet, it is true that all of the effects of adrenaline and cortisol that I mentioned previously are real and they do take place. So how is this possible? How can a fighter pilot use all of these finite motor skills in a high stress, gross motor skills environment? Because he has done it before. Why is it often bad guys win?” The answer is, because they’ve done it before. It’s the same answer here concerning the fighter pilot. Actually it’s the same principle. Funny thing about Principles and Concepts. They are completely objective. They don’t take sides. They don’t change. They are universal and they apply equally as well for bad guys as they do for good guys. How do we make them work for us? Reality based training. This is the game changer. This is what separates the traditional rote memorization of skills and techniques from the evolutionary, adaptive ability to effectively apply learned skills and decision making processes in the fluid, dynamic environment of actual combat. You may ask, just what the heck is he talking about? We’re going to take a brief historical look at the evolution of Reality Based Training. The goal of reality based training is to identify and analyze the combat environment and to reproduce it as closely as possible in training.
Enter Colonel John Boyd, aka 40 second Boyd, a nickname he earned as a fighter pilot in combat training because of his ability to gain the superior position on opponents in 40 seconds or less. John Boyd was a fighter pilot but was also one of the most influential and important Military analysts and strategists of modern times, also known for the concept of the OODA Loop. Boyd was in part responsible for the modernization of fighter pilot combat training and architect of the Air Force Fighter Pilot Training program which was also the model used to create the Air Force Red Flag Training and the US Navy Top Gun fighter pilot training program.
How does this relate to our discussion? I will ask another question. When do most fighter pilots get shot down? On their very first mission. Boyd and others looked at the data from decades of armed combat and were made aware of a very important statistic. Statistically it is most likely that a fighter pilot would be shot down on his first or initial combat engagements. However, if they survived their first 10 or 12 missions their survivability jumped dramatically. In fact so dramatically that statistically those pilots were almost never shot down in combat. As a result of this discovery many things were learned. One of which was that the environment of air combat did produce all of the damning effects of high stress, high threat physiological and psychological responses that we discussed earlier. This was not good for a pilot engaged in aerial combat. Oven mitts and tunnel vision do not enhance your survival skills at 17,000 feet.
By looking at this phenomena (the spike of survivability after a dozen or so sorties), much was learned about the human’s ability to adapt and prevail in spite of the effects of high stress in a combat environment. The most obvious is simply the benefit of “Combat Experience,” the more you engage in combat the better you are at it. As this was analyzed it was deduced that the more an individual faced these high stress environments, the more he was able to maintain both physical and psychological self- control in spite of the effects of large amounts of adrenaline, and cortisol, the increased heart rate and all the other stress responses and their resulting influences. And the more times he faced these environments the more he manipulated the environment and the less the environment manipulated him.
So in terms of Fighter Pilots it was proposed that if you could get a pilot through his first 12 Combat missions in training before engaging a real enemy in real combat then perhaps the survival rate would increase. And it worked. By creating as close a combat environment as possible in training and putting the pilot through that stress again and again you are in essence inoculating the individual to the stress of combat before he is actually exposed to it. Hence the term, stress inoculation that is now commonly used to describe this process.
Again, the question is; How does this relate to personal or individual combat? Well, principles don’t change, they don’t care where and how they are applied and they don’t care if you are a good guy or a bad guy.
Combat is combat. It doesn’t matter if you are engaged in a dog fight with an Iranian Mig or a bad guy who’s slinging lead or fists in your direction. You will experience all of the deleterious effects of a high threat, high stress event. A large part of your ability to prevail and survive will depend on whether the event controls you or if you control the event.
In terms of hand-to-hand combat the “Top Gun” training principle applies equally as well. The more experience you have had in gun fights or street fights the less you are “infected” by the stress of that action.
In terms of most people, they do not have the “privilege” or “misfortune” of actual combat experience and just as with fighter pilots you must in some way prepare yourself for it.
Reality based training is one of the best ways to gain at least an approximation of that experience. How do we accomplish that?
Welcome to a new ammo called Simunition. It enables the use of real guns firing wax bullets in gunfight simulations. It has become one of the standard training evolutions for almost all operators, agencies and departments around the world. Using Simunition, you could put operators into active force on force scenarios and run them through time and time again to give them their version of Top Gun training. And it works. Air soft training is a legitimate alternative to sims training, much easier and cheaper to use. I’ll admit it’s not quite as “real” but it also produces dramatic experiential results.
In terms of hand-to-hand combat there is of course no substitute for training. The key is taking the standard forms of training from the mat or ring to reality based training. Once again the need is to analyze the combat environment and reproduce it as closely as possible in training.
You must develop your own reality based training.
What are the basics of what you do or what you think you’ll be doing, in a defense situation?
Will you be sitting down? Maybe at a desk or in a vehicle? Will it be night or day? Would you ever have to fight with one arm? Would you be in a bathroom stall? Walking? Running? With someone? Will you be in a confined are or in the open? These are just some of the ideas you need to consider if your own situation. If you’ve got training partners you can get even more creative with multiple attacks, surprise attacks, attacks from behind, in a car, backed into a corner and any number of various scenarios.
You can introduce weapons, for example, fighting your way of a surprise weapons attack. A sock with a couple of whiffle balls stuffed into it works really well and it stings like hell. It’s very important to bring pain into the training as this really ups the stress level. Always wear eye protection.
These are just a few examples of how to start introducing some reality training into your conventional program.
Now mind you, you don’t have to practice these skills at the expense or exclusion of your other/current training. Remember, the first time you want to get attacked between two parked cars isn’t when a bad guy is really trying to kill you. You want it to have been two dozen times before in training.
We haven’t even touched kicking, grappling or ground fighting skills in regard to this subject, but I think you can see that any basic skill set you possess can be enhanced to reflect a more reality based, “Top Gun” approach.
So, what if you are someone who can not participate in active physical training for whatever reason. What can you do? Remember how real a dream feels? Do you have an imagination?
A few years ago a Arizona Highway Patrol officer spoke of this experience. Another officer radioed in that he was making a stop on a highway in the Arizona desert. He did not know that he was stopping a wanted felon. When the officer exited his unit, the bad guy wheeled out of his car with a nickel plated .357 magnum and fired off a round striking the officer directly in the belly. The officer went down and the bad guy took off. The officer crawled to his car and radioed “I’m shot, I’m shot” and fell back onto the pavement. The officer telling me the story arrived on scene about 5 minutes after the call. The downed officer was dying right in front of him and going into deep shock. Officer #2 tore open the downed officers clothes looking for a way to stop the bleeding. Funny thing though, there was no blood. He turned him over looking for an exit or entry bound and couldn’t find one. The officer in his hands was slipping away. There was no wound. The bullet had struck his belt, traveled around his side and out into the weeds. When the ambulance arrived they told officer #2 that 5 more minutes and the first officer would have been a goner. As you know, shock will kill you dead. So what is there to be learned from this? When the officer was shot, his thoughts were, “I’m shot. I’m dying.” The most important point here is, “If the mind truly believes something, the body follows suit. In effect the officer was willing himself to die and the body was following suit, shutting down the system.
So how can you develop training for yourself? You can use creative visualization to train. You can imagine the attack scenarios. But this has to be a vivid, HD quality movie that you watch. Imagine the sounds, the smells, the details of the attacker and the attack. Create your response, your vicious, ferocious response and your survival. The more real you make this waking dream the more “experience” you garner from the exercise. And you can let your imagination run wild. I hope that you realize that this also is as valuable as a training aid to anyone who is actively training in any form of combat, not just for those who are unable to train. There are certainly other aspects that go into the process of hardening the target including physical fitness, research and education. But, remember the Highway Patrol Officer? If you can imagine yourself dying, you can imagine an attack, your response, your survival and your experience. The use of creative visualization is not the real thing, but it can be the next best thing and in the game of life and death I will stack the deck with everything I can in my favor and so should you.
I watch a You Tube channel called Nutnfancy. In his testing and shooting guns he runs what he calls a “Run and gun”. This a course he sets up out in the Utah desert where you run and have several shooting scenarios and targets. He times them so some stress is added. You can see him at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbT5ssxEDZHNyz28N4Ov7Wg.
You can devise your own training program. Make it simple. Part of my “workout” is shooting from different positions. From behind something, looking through something, angles, you get the idea. People watching me think I’m nuts. But standing and facing a paper target only teaches you technique. It’s important to practice good technique but there comes a time when you know how to hold a gun, aim a gun, and trigger control.
I’ve shot with air soft and I like this training. I’ve shot in a shoot house and I like that too. I’ve never used Simunitions but would love to.
Find a program you can use to give you that reality edge over your attacker. Make yourself a hardened target.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Safe Water: Boiling

How long do you really have to boil water before it's safe to drink? The answer might surprise you!
So how long do you really have to boil water before it's safe to drink?

5 minutes?
10 minutes?
20 minutes?
30 minutes?

The correct answer: If you actually saw through our trick question and guessed 0 minutes, you would be correct!!

Now you might be thinking “Wait a minute... how is that possible?? That’s not what I learned on Survivorman or Man vs. Wild!” Well, as you are about to learn... it’s absolutely, positively & definitively 100% possible… with just a little knowledge!

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there regarding how to “purify” water to make it safe to drink, and it can get pretty confusing. There are chemical treatments, filters and of course the “old faithful” boiling of your water to make it safe to drink. Most of these treatments are completely viable for making water drinkable as long as you know the limitations of each method.

For this article we are going to stay away from the chemical and filtration methods of water purification and focus primarily on using heat to treat water and make it drinkable. Heat is an effective method for treating water because it eliminates (kills) the microscopic organisms that are living in that water that can make you very sick.

So how much heat? And for how long?

Great questions! Depending on your source, “conventional wisdom” has told us for decades that bringing water to a rolling boil at the very minimum and holding it there for a period of time is what is required to kill these microscopic pathogens.

For example, let’s take a look at what the Boy Scouts of America say about treating water:
“The surest means of making your drinking water safe is to heat it to a rolling boil—when bubbles a half inch in diameter rise from the bottom of the pot. While this is a simple method, it does require time and fuel.”

Now let’s take a look at what the United States Marine Corp. recommends for treating water:

“Purify all water obtained from natural sources by using iodine tablets, bleach, or boiling for 5 minutes.”

So are the Boy Scouts of America and the Marines wrong? No. Bringing your water to a full boil will absolutely kill all common pathogens that we have all learned to take so seriously because can make us sick with illnesses like Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli and the rest. The problem with bringing your water to a boil, as you are about to learn, is that doing so is actually complete overkill when it comes to treating water for harmful microbes! Boiling your water, while completely safe and will absolutely kill those nasty pathogens, is actually a waste of precious fuel/firewood resources in a survival situation!

OK, so how much fuel are you wasting exactly?
Did you know that heating your water from 200° F to 212° F… just that last extra 12° to get your water to its boiling point… actually uses TWICE as much fuel as it does just to get your water to that initial 200°?? Well... it does. TWICE as much fuel! That is nothing to scoff at!

So now that we know what the Boy Scouts of America and the Marines say about purifying water (and we love both of these organizations!), let’s see what science tells us about using heat to purify water.

Important Temperatures to Factor In to this Equation:

212° F = Temperature at which water boils
160° F = Temperature at which milk is generally pasteurized
149° F = Temperature at which Hepatitis A is quickly killed
140° F = Temperature at which bacteria (V. cholerae, E. coli and Salmonella typhi) and Rotavirus are quickly killed
131° F = Temperature at which worms & protazoa cysts (Giardia, Cryptosporidium and Entamoeba) are quickly killed

As you can see from the temperatures listed above, the pathogens that we are primarily concerned about when it comes to safe drinking water are ALL killed (quickly) at temperatures much lower than 212°, the temperature at which water boils. That being the case... why would you unnecessarily waste any more fuel than you need to heating up your water those additional 63°?

Now let’s take another look at that milk pasteurization temperature above: 160° F.
Pasteurization is a process invented by French scientist Louis Pasteur during the early nineteenth century. Pasteur discovered that the pasteurization process made it possible to heat the milk to high enough temperature to kill all harmful microorganisms without “cooking” the milk causing it to curdle.

Now of course you never have to worry about your water curdling, but an important lesson can be gleaned from this milk pasteurization process that can be extremely beneficial: Water, like milk, does not have to be boiled to be safe to drink!

Temperature + Time = Pasteurization

Pasteurization is a process that occurs based on two variables: temperature and time. You see... you can actually pasteurize water at lower temps if you do it for a longer duration. This is extremely helpful in situations where A) you aren’t able to effect fire for heating your water, or B) you can make fire but you do not have a suitable container for boiling that can withstand the intense heat of your fire. Lower temperature/longer duration pasteurization can actually be done with discarded plastic 2 liter bottles set in the sunlight for longer periods of time (typically 6 hours). This method of disinfecting water is known as the SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) method. You can even put something black or reflective behind your bottle to speed up the process!

So Why Do So Many Advocate Boiling Your Water?

The answer is simple: When those bubbles start to roll in your container of water, that is nothing more than a clear VISUAL INDICATOR that your water has become hot enough (actually MORE than enough) to have killed all of those little nasties. It works. It’s effective. But is it ideal? Or can we do better?

So if the bubbles from boiling water gives us that terrific visual indicator to let us know that our water has reached 212° F... but now we know that boiling our water to make it safe to drink is actually a waste of precious fuel resources (fuel, wood, candles, etc.)… how can we then determine if our water has gotten hot enough to have been properly pasteurized without those rolling bubbles? We could certainly use a thermometer... but most of these are glass and very fragile. Too fragile to keep from breaking inside your kit. We need something small, light, compact, durable and can be used over and over again to let us know that our water has reached that effective pasteurization temperature. SOLUTION: A tiny inexpensive device known as a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI)!

WAPI’s are incredibly simple little devices. They are nothing more than a tiny sealed clear tube with a special brightly colored (easy to see) green wax inside of them. This wax (known as Myverol 18-06) is formulated to melt at just the right temperature for pasteurization (156° F or 69° C.). In most WAPI designs the tube typically slides up and down a thin cable with a tiny weight on each end allowing you to flip the tube so that the wax inside can be easily positioned at the top of the tube again.

To use your WAPI simply slide the little tube down to the bottom of the wire so that the wax-heavy end of the tube is oriented toward the top of the tube. Place your WAPI tube into your container of water draping the weight at the opposite end of your WAPI tube over the lip of your container so that it is easy to grab. Once your water has reached pasteurization temperature of 156°, the wax in your WAPI tube will start to melt allowing it to fall from the top of your clear tube to the bottom of your tube with a little help from gravity. This is your visual indicator that your water has been pasteurized!

While WAPI’s are extremely inexpensive to purchase (typically $5 to $8), it is possible to make your own WAPI! We have even seen versions made from drinking straws and glue sticks for hot glue guns. While you can make your own WAPI, they are so inexpensive that we recommend purchasing one. “Quality control” can be an issue with DIY WAPI’s causing inconsistent results… even when purchasing DIY kits made with genuine parts. Sometimes it’s just best to leave work like this to the experts… especially when a piece of kit like this is so inexpensive to begin with.


When traveling to countries that are known to have a questionable water supply (due to harmful pathogens remaining in the water supply), one little known trick when you cannot access bottled water is to pour yourself a glass of HOT water from the tap instead of cold. Water from the hot water heater has actually been pasteurized! Water from hot water heaters is typically between 120° F and 140° which is slightly below ideal pasteurization temperatures… but remember that heat + time = pasteurization! 99.999% of water borne pathogens are killed instantly when water is brought to 149° F. The same result can be accomplished with lower temperatures if you simply allow the water to remain at that temperature for a longer period of time. For example, water can be pasteurized at 130° F if simply held at that temperature for 2 hours.


As with anything else, use common sense when treating water. Your health and potentially your life are on the line. When in doubt, heat your water a little hotter or for a little longer. It can’t hurt unless fuel is at an absolute premium.

Just like with boiling, pasteurizing is not a panacea for making any water drinkable. For example, pasteurizing sea water will not make it drinkable as pasteurization does not remove the salts from sea water. Just like boiling, pasteurization only kills microorganisms that can make you sick. It does not remove chemicals, metals, pollutants or other toxins that could harm you from your water for you.

One example in particular that comes to mind where both boiling and pasteurizing water can make matters worse for you instead of better is in the case of the recent algae blooms in the Toledo area. Water of this type contains the toxin known as microcystis aeruginosa. Microcystis aeruginose is a species of freshwater cyanobacteria which can form harmful algae blooms (HABs) in fresh bodies of water. Boiling or pasteurizing water of this type actually INCREASES the presence of the toxins and makes your water more toxic to drink!

So when it comes to treating water to make it drinkable, be smart. Be careful. Play it safe. Use your head!

Semper Paratus
Check 6

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Overwatch: Drill Of The Month for September

How to Have a Bug Out Drill
Training in the military can actually be fun. I can remember having a lot of fun on exercises.
Its important that when a disaster scenario happens, you and your family are ready to react.
Here are your goals:
• Get to safety as quick as possible
• Make sure you have everything you need to sustain life. (My acronym is ASWiFFS or air, shelter, water, food, fire, and security.)
Your family is probably going to think you’re a little weird for asking them to have a bug out drill (unless they have come to expect this sort of thing, like mine) but someday, it might just save their lives. That said, here are a couple bug out drills to practice with just you or the entire family.
Bug Out Drill #1: Evacuation
This scenario is not as likely as other bug out scenarios, but here’s one to practice your speed and coordination in a stressful situation.
Imagine you get a knock on your door. It’s the fire department, EMTs, police, or whoever. They give you 10 minutes to pack what you need and evacuate.
Time yourself. Anything you can carry after 10:00 minutes will be taken, all else left. Take your family out to eat and discuss the items they brought. Get your family thinking about the essentials of your bug out.
Bug Out Drill #2: Bug Out Weekend
Bugging out can be fun – plan with your wife to bug out, but if you have kids, don’t mention it to them until 5 or 10 minutes before you leave. Give your children 5 minutes notice that you’ll be spending the weekend camping, hiking, or whatever your budget can afford. That will really give you an idea of how well your bug out bag is prepared.
Bug Out Drill #3: Bug-out/Bug-in Weekend
Plan a bug in weekend. A weekend where you shut off the power and water to your house and spend the entire weekend with the power out and the water off. This will also give you a good idea of how you would cope in a grid-down scenario.
Before you have a bug out/in weekend, make sure you have a security plan, a plan for food and water, and a simple schedule of activities to keep your family having fun.
If you are not bugging out alone, then everyone in your family/party will need to have an idea of what they need to bring. A bug out bag packed with all of your survival gear prepared for each person is a must for any person preparing.
Bug in Weekends Can be Fun and Affordable!
Keep your bug out bag in an accessible location that is personalized for each individual. This is important because men and woman may have different needs as would a child or adult.
These items should be placed somewhere convenient and someplace easily accessible. Everyone in the family should know where to find these items and what it is they are responsible for. The goal is to have this accomplished in under 10 minutes. Essentially a grab and go.
Practice the Bug Out Drill
The military trains by repetition and so should you. Practice this drill every so often and time yourself to see how quickly you can respond to a scenario where you need to move you and your loved ones fast. You will also be able to determine the most ideal locations for your backpacks as well as the space you have in your vehicle.

See “Overwatch: Drill of the Month” page for more drills

Semper Paratus
Check 6