For some time now the SWAT community has experienced a debate about the use of dynamic entries and is it a legitimate option for high risk warrant service. Some would argue that the dynamic entry is flat out getting cops shot and the use of the tactic lends to carelessness.
This controversy — from what I can determine — has no merit. It’s my experience that the dynamic entry is very effective. I also believe that the deliberate entry is also effective. The problem seems to be that there is a need for some SWAT trainers to replace one with the other. The question is, why? They are two different applications that can be used best when faced with different tactical challenges.
Proper tactical planning for a high risk warrant service should include the use of a threat matrix. Once the threat level has been determined and the need for a tactical team is warranted, then the tactical commander must review all the intelligence available to properly formulate a tactical plan to execute the service.
The tactical commander’s options are many and they will vary from team to team. Some options include, but are not limited, to:
1. Takedown: Effect the arrest away from his home on a traffic stop or when he his walking down the street, etc.
2. Ruse: Get the suspect to exit his home for some reason and then effect the arrest.
3. Surround and call out: Set a perimeter and call out the suspect from the objective and then effect the arrest.
4. Breach and hold: Set a perimeter, knock and announce, breach an entry point, effect entry, or call out.
5. Dynamic entry: Knock and announce, breach, bang (if warranted), clear the objective.
6. Deliberate entry: Knock and announce, breach or breach and hold, clear the objective at a methodical pace.
Once the first four options are ruled out for what ever reason, then the tactical planner is left with the dynamic entry or deliberate entry.
The standard for many years for many teams across the country has been the dynamic entry when conducting high risk warrant service. The dynamic entry may vary a little from team to team but the basic concept of the tactic is still the same.
I won’t try to define how another agency may describe or use this tactic. However, I will share with you what we teach in our basic SWAT courses.
“Dynamic Entry” is a tactic where surprise, speed and domination are key.
1. Usually accomplished by timing of the execution of the entry.
2. Use of noise-flash diversionary devices when warranted.
3. Use of an overwhelming amount of dominating force inside the stronghold.
The dynamic entry is generally the fastest option for clearing large threats. We like to use eight or more operators. The operators stack up at the entry point, knock and announce, breach and enter the stronghold. They then start clearing the stronghold by moving toward the most immediate threat(s).
Generally, two operators enter a room together — three or more operators may enter if the room is large. They may bang the room(s) prior to entry when warranted.
Upon entry into an objective, operators must concern themselves with “points of domination” and “areas of responsibilities.” In other words, clear the most immediate threat first. Take a position of domination that will allow for overlapping fire from the operators inside the objective. This must be done with an overwhelming amount of dominating force.
The operators will step through the door of the room, muzzle up, and take a corner to clear. The second operator in the stack is required to be right on the first man’s tail as he enters the stronghold. The second man takes the opposing corner to clear and takes his point of domination.
When the room is clear they announce “clear.” As they exit the room, they announce “coming out” and rejoin the clearing operation.
The advantage to this style of dynamic entry is that it provides speed through the objective, especially when the location of your adversary is unknown. Speed in the dynamic entry buys you surprise, and surprise affords you the opportunity to neutralize your threat before he engages you.
Another reason this tactic works is that your adversary has to process though the OODA loop as you make your entry. If two operators bang a room, enter swiftly, and then clear and take a position of domination before the two to three seconds that the bang provided has expired, your adversary will still be processing through the OODA loop. If you don’t bang the room, your adversary still has to choose one of the two operators to engage as they split up and are still on the move. We all now it takes time to choose a target. Also, your adversary has to place a lethal hit hitting on a moving target, which we all know isn’t easy and something most criminals don’t practice.
To make the Dynamic entry successful these two points are important:
1. Don’t move any faster than you can effectively engage your adversary.
2. Provide an overwhelming amount of dominating force inside the stronghold.
Speed of the dynamic entry is critical and I think this is where some tactical trainers have failed. This has created this unnecessary controversary. When teaching or training the dynamic entry, start on the gun range. Have the operators shoot from various positions, various distances, various speeds, and various formations while moving. Try to recreate what they will encounter in hallways, rooms, and other types of objectives. Place hostage targets downrange and most importantly, make them accountable for their shot placement. The operator will then develop the speed at which he can effectively engage his target. That is the speed at which they will then conduct the dynamic entry.
Once the operator is proficient on the range, then he is ready to learn the dynamic entry in a building. The key now is to have them maintain the speed they operated at on the gun range. This is when I notice that operators pick up the pace and they tend to move faster than they can effectively engage an adversary. This is where the dynamic entry becomes problematic.
If you can harness the proper speed to conduct dynamic entries, master the CQB principles utilized during the clearing operation, then the dynamic entry — in my mind — is a highly effective and viable option.
The dynamic entry has worked for many years. We conduct opposing force training in our SWAT schools and when the tactic is conducted properly, it is very safe and very effective. T he operators will experience these results firsthand, which will build their confidence in the tactic.
I don’t buy into the fact that dynamic entry isn’t a safe tactic and SWAT officers are getting killed because they use it. SWAT cops are getting killed because bad men want to kill us.
If your adversary is waiting to ambush you in a well-fortified stronghold it may not matter what tactic you use. He has the advantage because he owns the ground and taking ground is a dangerous business. It just so happens, that’s our business.
High-risk warrants using the dynamic entry have been conducted for many years. I would say there have been thousands or tens of thousands of successful high-risk search warrants served in this country using the dynamic entry since the inception of the tactic. Without any conclusive data available it’s impossible to determine the success ratio.
The deliberate entry uses the same basic principles as the dynamic entry but the pace at which the clearing operation is conducted is reduced significantly. The speeds at which teams conduct deliberate entries will vary from team to team. I have seen teams use a speed slightly slower than which most dynamic entries are conducted and I have seen teams move at almost a “stealth clear” speed.
There isn’t a right or wrong speed when conducting a deliberate entry. Your team should spend many hours training on this tactic to find what works best for your team.
The basic concept using the deliberate entry is that it’s slower and you can clear objectives from the outside prior to making the actual entry. If you observe a subject inside the room then you can attempt to verbalize commands to have them crawl out of the room to the team or prone out on the floor. Once you decide to enter the stronghold you may then go dynamic or continue the deliberate clearing method.
Here are some advantages to using the deliberate entry:
1. Operators can “slice the pie” into the stronghold prior to entry.
2. Mirrors can be used to clear corners and other threats prior to entry into the room.
3. Ballistic shields and blankets can be used during the clearing operation.
4. Verbal commands may be given to occupants of the room prior to entry to a safe area.
5. The tactic is easier managed from the team leaders perspective.
Moving through the objective is very much the same as the dynamic entry. You will utilize the same CQB principles. A critical component is that the team must maintain security during the movement. In other words, there must be guns covering all threats all the time. If you loose this security element for what ever reason the team leader should go dynamic to clear the rest of the objective or consider withdrawing. The reason is during a deliberate clear operating your adversary most likely knows you’re in the objective. Your team most likely had to knock and announce your presence, breach a door, banged a room or two and given verbal command to the occupants or team members. Therefore, in a sense your team is already compromised.
Once your adversary is aware of your presence he has ample time to arm himself and take cover. You lose speed and surprise because your adversary now has the time needed to process through the OODA loop. He now has the ability and opportunity to engage you first. Therefore, teams must provide security for the element as it conducts the clear operation.
A great way to achieve success with the deliberate entry is to mandate that the team leader doesn’t make entry into any rooms. He must position himself so that he can “manage” the operation. This works great because when an operator is focused on his most immediate threat he may overlook or miss other critical factors that can compromise the operation.
The team leader doesn’t necessarily have to focus on immediate threats and can now focus on the integrity of the operation. Thus making the tactic and operation very safe. My team leaders have found that positioning themselves 5th in the stack works out best for them.
Another consideration on the use of the deliberate entry, while your element is moving and clearing most interior walls offer minimal to no ballistic value. Thus the slow deliberate clear may provide a false sense of safety inside a typical home especially if your presence is known.
As you can see both tactics have their advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion both are viable options for high risk warrant service. My team is tweaking a variation that blends the two tactics and so far we are happy with the results.
Until some empirical data is furnished that concludes that the use of dynamic entry is dangerous I believe we should stop the controversy and use what ever tactic will work best for the tactical problem your team is faced with.