October 7, 2015 DCU

THE CHALLENGE OF CONFINED SPACE COMBAT AND FIGHT OR FLIGHT

For many years now I have been preaching about the numerous challenges that confined space combat presents to operators and even to civilians in certain defensive situations.

Understanding the environment in which you are operating is crucial to achieving your objectives and more importantly, staying alive!

For example, techniques for room entry and clearing in many third world countries because of the diminished operating space must be adapted to “fit” the true operational parameters of the engagement or mission.

When presenting either a handgun or long gun, the shooter will normally lose visual contact with everything below the barrel line. Employing classical stances while moving thru confined space such as an Arish in Somalia or on a ship or airplane may force you to continually “lead” with your weapon.

Any instructor worth training with in the tactical world would agree that leading into any confined space or room with your weapon is a huge tactical error. Take for example the individual attempting to execute employing a traditional type platform in a confined space combat situation, the reduction in both the combination of field of vision and sweep time are perhaps two of the biggest factors to consider when discussing confined space combat, and now reason in the other abundant elements that are also associated with this form of conflict and we have a potential recipe for disaster.

The idea of confined space combat is in itself challenging enough offering a number of serious considerations such as restricted movement, limited range of motion, obstructions, deploying your weapon if in a defensive situation, shooting from a compressed posture, the increased risk of failure, having to fight the space and direction at the same time you are forced to engage the hostile, and with no magical formula that will allow you to immediately overcome all these odds.

There are many variables that need to be accounted for in confined space combat and there is no “one” tactic or technique or procedure that will work each and every time in all situations.

In the real world everything is dynamic and things can go south pretty quickly whether you are a civilian victim of a car jacking, a super spy or special ops guy infiltrating a terrorist network in a hostile environment.

Confined space combat requires TRAINING. Hard repetitive realistic training. As operators, we plan, we rehearse and we execute, there are no do-over’s in the real world and the training affords you an opportunity to make mistakes and correct them while you are in a somewhat controllable environment. We always consider the end objective, the mission, but how about those that are starting out or for those that do not have that level of training yet?

In these cases, your first and foremost enemy may be your own mind and not the confined space!

We talk about all these variables in confined space combat but what about the fact that one must contend with their own mind when one part of you says, “let’s get the heck out of dodge” and the other half says, “fight”. This dilemma is known as “cognitive dissonance”. And for the untrained or less experienced person this is immediate and extremely stressful.

The trained operator can immediately bring the cognitive end of things into line with his actions allowing faster decision-making and thus less psychological stress.

The obvious idea would be to “reduce” the dissonance (dissonance reduction) and thus bring you into “consonance” or accord so that you have one definitive path. What can do this? TRAINING and REHEARSAL!

(For those that are unfamiliar with the work of Leon Festinger (May 8th 1919-February 1989), an American Social Psychologist, Festinger is best known for his theory on cognitive dissonance among other theories).

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