Closing with the enemy

Soulis had planned to shoot through the back window if Palmer drew a weapon, but for reasons he still doesn’t fully understand, he moved forward and to his right, stopping alongside the passenger door, not more than two feet from the window. Instantly, he realized he’d made a grievous blunder.

Officer Down: The Peter Soulis Incident One of Brian McKenna’s excellent analyses.

Unconsciously closing with an adversary is something I have seen many times in Force on Force. The response was so uniform and so prevalent that it is one of the few things I feel sanguine in saying the probability of people doing it borders on 100%. We need to train ourselves rigorously to hold position or to retreat unless there is a valid purpose for closing. Closing with an enemy needs to always be a conscious decision, never an unconscious one.

When I was an infantryman, the stated mission of the Infantry was to “Close with and destroy the enemy by means of fire and maneuver.” Infantry units consist of numerous men, who are capable of mutually supporting each other with automatic weapons fire and explosive munitions. Private Citizens rarely have those resources available and law enforcement officers generally don’t. Our desired outcome and tactics have to be different.

It’s very common to see in news reports where Armed Citizens have pursued criminals after the criminal has broken off from the crime. Pursuit is fraught with hazards, both legal and tactical. Dependent on the laws of the particular State, pursuing a robber or attacker could result in losing the ‘mantle of innocence.’ This could result in charges being brought against the original victim. It also could put you in a position leading to becoming the victim of a mistaken identity shooting by a responding police officer. Keep in mind that although you know the victim/aggressor roles of the parties involved, the police have to sort that out upon arrival and it’s not always easy.

One of my students was involved in a shooting during the course of an invasion of his home. Despite the fact that he is an excellent marksman, he closed with the invader and the final shot was fired at contact distance. Closing with the enemy causes the defender to give up distance, which favors the marksman, and barriers/cover, which favor whomever is behind them, at least temporarily.

At home or in your place of business, decide ahead of time where your Limits of Advance are located. This is probably no further than your front door, perhaps even further in. The stairwell in your home or the counter in your store may be as far as it is advisable to go.

Palmer flinched as two more rounds hit center mass, and then started backpedaling toward the Toyota. He was still holding his gun, but never raised it to fire.

After reaching the car, Palmer dove over the trunk and dropped out of sight. Soulis paused, and then cautiously started forward again.

Outside the home, pick a spot, preferably something tangible. Then stick to your decision unless a good reason to change it arises. Keep in mind that all cover is temporary until it is defeated by fire and/or maneuver. If there is imminent danger of the cover being defeated, then move. That’s a conscious decision.

You don’t have to make a terrain diagram but making your decisions ahead of time helps you pick better decisions in the moment.

Limit of Advance

Limit of Advance

4 responses

  1. I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen this sort of thing in training, even when we specifically tell people about it ahead of time.

    Some of the most glaring cases are when we do OC exposure training, the officer who has been sprayed is obviously at a great disadvantage as far as ability to see, yet they will break from cover while giving commands to the “suspect” in order to get closer, even though pistols are clearly able to shoot across the distances in which we work drills.

  2. Reblogged this on disturbeddeputy and commented:
    It’s not your job to chase the bad guy

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