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Two man tactics: Where to begin?

So you and your friend/spouse/family member/partner decide you two are going to become the ultimate fighting team, an army of two. But, how do you get there?


We have to start with a very critical teamwork skill, communication.

You and whom ever you are working with need to sort out leadership, SOPs and ROEs.

A team needs a leader. This leads to a couple possible problems. If you have two type-a personalities they make challenge each other for leadership. You could have two people who neither want to be charge. Even if there is a clear leader and followers, there can be all sort of tension, intentional or unintentional sabotaging of leadership, etc. You two have to sort this out.

Unfortunately in the majority of tactics discussion leadership is just sort of an assumed given. If you and your buddy were out hunting,and saw the prey, when one of you wants to shoot and the other wants to wait to see if you can get a bigger score, who makes the call? If the two of you were sitting in ambush, who decides when the initiate the attack? Who makes the final decision when you two disagree on what to do?

This is something you need to work out before the shooting starts.

Then think about communication, SOPs, ROEs, and all that unfun stuff to think about.

The military and the police have the advantage of standardized training and rules. When I was a rifleman in the Corps I knew that if I ran into another 0311 from a different unit, we were suppose to know the same room clearing techniques, the same hand/arm signals, and the same rules of engagement. In practice, it didn’t always go smoothly, but we had enough of the same procedures and vernacular that we could make it work.

Unless you and your buddy are both military or police, it is unlikely you have common commands and terms for the types of tactics and actions you may need to do in a fight. That needs to get sorted out.

For example, lets say you and your spouse or battle buddy were leaving a big store after shopping. If you noticed a potential threat, could you communicate the threat, direction, and distance to your partner quickly and with out pointing at the threat.

Two quick examples. At some point when I was young my father had us use the codeword “click” to indicate to each other that there was a problem. When I deployed to Iraq, we used the term “firecracker” in lieu of IED when in front of the locals. We could mention firecracker to alert our teammates, then give the direction, description, distance, like a normal ADDRAC command.

You and your battle buddy should go over simple things like hand arm signals. Make sure you are both on the same page with the same understanding. Many things are pretty obvious, but we don’t want miscommunications in a fight. To someone from the military the difference between “Halt” and “Freeze” may seem apparent, but if the person you are working with does know, it could end up being a problem. And there are all sorts of commands that we don’t commonly use, but are good to have. Like how would you signal to your partner to increase or decrease their rate of fire?

When we taught the difference between halt and freeze we explain that halt is just telling you to stop moving forwards. Freeze is telling you to not move a muscle, not even a twitch. Moving after the “Freeze” command is given may compromise your location to the enemy, or might put you at risk of other dangers. The classic military example being if you suddenly find your self in a minefield, you signal “freeze”. Telling everyone to immediately stop all movement might be what stops someone else from putting their foot down on a mine.

Rules of Engagement are set by higher ups in the military and police. Those individuals are taught when they can use lethal force. If it is just you and a buddy fighting with out an external chain of command you need to know when you two want to fight, run, or hide. There is a time and place for each of those options. It would be rather bad for you if you ran into a superior force and you want to run away but your buddy wants to go out in a blaze of glory. I don’t want the guy who believes that there is no more noble death than fighting an impossible battle telling me which fights we are going to fight.

Often unintentionally, but sometimes done as unconscious sabotage, team mates can ruin a great plan in moment. A trigger happy team mate can cause all sorts of problems for you, up to and including defeat and death.

Imagine trying to hunt with a buddy who has buck fever, who will fire at the first bit of brown colored movement they see. That person might be more of a danger to you and other hunters than the prey. If you are laying in ambush for an enemy force and your team mate goes off half cocked, not only might you fail to destroy the enemy force, you might get killed by those enemies. You need to work with your team mates to ensure that you all are going to work effectively and cohesively. You are not going to bag much if your buddy keeps shooting to early and spooking everything out there.

As much as we Americans love to romanticize combat, and then the training for combat, we can’t overlook that prior to that, a group needs to have leadership, direction, and plans.

It is similar to when business advisors who will parrot terms and phrases like, “We need the team to develop a rapport to solidify a united homogeneous strategy in order to allow us to function in step and work shoulder to shoulder for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.” But unlike corporate buzzwords and bullshit to dodge the real work, we need to get things done. You need to take the time to talk with the person you would fight along with and make sure that both of you will be able to work together and understand each other when things get bad. Then train together to find the points of friction in your communication and team work, so you can fix it.

Then start working on all the cool stuff.

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