Securing a Building
If you ask a Navy Seaman to secure a building, he will turn off the lights and lock the doors.
If you ask an Army Soldier to secure a building they will occupy the building and stay there so no one else can enter.
If you ask a Marine to secure a building, he will assault it with grenades and flash bangs, occupy it, set up a perimeter defense with suppressive fire, amphibious assault vehicles, establish communications, and prepare for hand to hand combat if necessary.
If you ask an Air Force Airman to secure a building, he’ll take out a lease on a building with an option to buy.
Now that the joke is out of the way, I’ll tell you how it relates to Urban Combat. But first, a story.
When I was a police officer, I received some training on how to respond to active shooters in a building. We went to a local elementary school and received a few hours of classroom training. We watched videos of other officers clearing rooms. We had a Q&A session. Then we got to the fun part: practice with simunitions (think airsoft, but much more realistic (and painful)).
The instruction was to enter the building as soon as there were two officers on the scene as long as the shooter was “actively shooting”. We were to by-pass the wounded and head straight to where we heard the shots being fired and engage the shooter if possible. If the shooter was in a classroom, we entered rapidly one after the other. The first officer going to his left and the second to the right (if there was a 3rd, he’d go straight).
Once in, we were to ignore what was happening in the room and “run the walls” by scanning with our gun and moving along the walls of the room until the two officers met in the middle/back eliminating threats as you went. The idea was that if we did this, we would efficiently leave no corner unsearched and if we moved quickly enough, we could catch the bad guy(s) by surprise and stop them from killing more people. The downside to this is that we’d have to ignore threats directly in front of us in order to check the corners for a “possible” threat. I thought it was a bad idea when I did the training and actually engaged threats as I saw them and killed more bad guys more rapidly than the other officers (I did not win any points with my trainers though).
If at any point the bad guys barricaded themselves or stopped shooting, we were to wait for reinforcements and/or SWAT. Because at that point, the opposition shooter(s) were either on to us and we’d be walking into an ambush or he was no longer a threat and there was no more urgency (except for the dying/wounded screaming for help). Even SWAT will avoid entry if there is a barricaded enemy and will attempt to negotiate.
So, how does this story apply to urban combat (as a civilian)?
Let’s make a scenario. *In a world without rule of law* you and your like-minded neighbors are taking sporadic sniper fire from a house down the street. You need to eliminate the threat.
First of all you don’t want to be “clearing rooms” like we did as police or securing buildings as the Marines did (in the joke above) if you can avoid it. “Sounds cool though” you say to yourself. Cool as it may be, you don’t have flashbangs, grenades, amphibious vehicles, etc. Even if you have all those things, it sucks. Here’s a video of US Marines attempting to clear a house with barricaded enemies. They end up pulling back and demoing the house with an MK-19.
Houses and buildings in the US are primarily made of hollow walls and they will not stop a bullet or offer you much cover (they can conceal you, but not stop a bullet). Even brick masonry walls are penetrated by 30 caliber rifles.
If you don’t have the “drop” on the opposition and can’t surprise them with overwhelming force, then you don’t want to engage them, much less run into a room where they are expecting you. SWAT and similar type entries rely on surprise, speed, and force of violence. If you are missing any of those things, don’t engage if you can avoid it. Also, if you do a dynamic entry with any noise (shooting, crashing doors, shouting, flashbangs, etc.), then you have lost all surprise for additional targets in the same building. The sniper in the scenario may have set boobie traps or may be lying in wait for you to enter his doorway.
So what do you do? Remember that walls (both interior and exterior) are not bullet proof? Well…what’s to stop you from engaging him with overwhelming fire power from a more secure outside location? Or burning him out?
If you must enter (e.g. to verify that he’s dead), then slice the pie. There’s no need to rush into anything. Observe as much as possible from the doorway. Slowly observe more and more of the room as you move across the doorway (when I say slowly, it can be quick- just slow enough for you to observe.). You can also use techniques like peeking low or doing a quick peek. Then, when you enter, enter at the exact same time if possible and check the corners you could not observe from outside the door. Don’t stick your muzzle through the door before you enter (you’ll give yourself away). If you see a threat- eliminate it by shooting directly or through walls and doors.
In sum, if you find yourself in a situation where you must “secure a building” in a world without rule of law, then you should NOT rely on police techniques or other techniques that encourage you to “stack up” behind a wall and rush into a room when there are much better techniques. Use your head- you are not expendable.