As I’ve previously written, I’m looking forward to my attendance at the first-ever Southeast Regional Warrior Symposium taking place in a couple of weeks in Orlando (Fla.). In addition to the classroom seminars on a variety of important national security and law enforcement issues being presented in the 'Command Leadership' track, there is an impressive lineup of activities for the attendees signed up for the 'Warrior' track. Topics covered in the Warrior Track will include Advanced Defensive Tactics, Hostage Survival Advanced Combatives, Advanced Ground Survival, Suicide Bomber Immediate Interception, and others.
Following the opening ceremonies on the first day of the Symposium — during which we’ll hear remarks from Bobby Henline and Craig Floyd — a handful of sessions will take place. High on my list of “musts” in the agenda are the talk to be given by Henk Iverson (on Gun Fighter Performance) and Col. Danny McKnight (on Courage Under Fire).
The Warrior track will begin with 16 hours of intimate hands-on sessions spanning the first two days, followed by a two-day 16-hour live-fire venue — hosted by Orlando City PD. During this element, attendees will have the opportunity to work with internationally-recognized instructors such as SGM Pete Gould — one of SOCOM’s premiere firearm experts and trainers — and Pittsburg SWAT Commander Steve Mescan.
Training Emulating Tactical Environments
I recently reconnected via phone with my friend Chris Ghannam — Chief Technology Officer and Training Coordinator for SARK, who has been working on this event for more than a year — to get a little more information on the upcoming program.
“Right now in law enforcement, if you go to a range they all look pretty similar,” Ghannam began. “Regardless of whether you’re LAPD working in a completely urban metropolitan environment, or if you’re on the Border Patrol and you’re stuck in the Arizona desert with no landscape to assimilate physical structures to assist in range assessments,” Ghannam began.
“The military learned this critical lesson as ODA team members began transitioning between the urban landscape of Baghdad and the mountainous and flat plains of Afghanistan,” he continued. “To the point where ammunition lethality even came under question even though the issue had nothing to do with stopping power and everything to do with the operators inability to effectively gage distance in a completely different terrain. We tend to want to qualify these guys in a very similar shooting range environment, even though real world conditions are grossly different — we’re not looking hard enough at how that can negatively impact authentic demonstrations of gun fighter performance and base line qualifications.”
It almost goes without saying — almost! — that there is obvious value in training/qualifying an metropolitan police officer at least a little bit differently than training/qualifying an officer who patrols the mountains. Yet, at least as it relates to quals, we still look at those spray-painted lines on the square range, delineating the three-, five-, seven-, ten-,15-, and 25-yard line.
Ghannam asks, “If you work in a location that is constantly cold, hot or frequently changing as it tends to do throughout the country, doesn’t it behoove you to qualify in that exact environment? Why do we keep putting our professionals in a climate-controlled indoor shooting facility? What is the real gain beyond some added comfort for the shooter, why are we so bent on making our shooters intolerable of adverse conditions, we really have to decided if we are after pass or fail tests – qualifications or the far more important – personal and professional development.”
That’s a damned good question.
A Variety of Perspectives
To address this — and other issues related to tactical training — Ghannam and his fellow conference organizers have brought in experts who deliver a diverse set of experiences and offer a variety of different perspectives. He specifically points out the very unique “resumes” of the instructors working the pistol ranges during the week.
“I brought in guys like Steve Mescan and Pete Gould,” Ghannam stated. “They come from very different worlds, but at the end of the day we aren’t there to teach our attendees how to squeeze the trigger — this is about how to make more effective coaches, how to make more effective range instructors, and how to mitigate those common high-fail errors regardless of what level our attendees are presently working on.”
The program Ghannam and the SARK folks have developed for the Warrior track is fusion of 16 hours of live-fire instruction and 16 hours of hands-on instruction in an intimate setting with world-class trainers. Regular readers of this space know well that I seek to participate in as much hands-on, live-fire training as my schedule will permit. Whether or not I will get the chance to partake in the work being done that week on the range will depend on a variety of factors — for starters, I absolutely insist on not getting in the way of anyone else’s training time.
But you can rest assured that I will do my level best to remember what I see and pass along to PoliceOne readers the highlights of what will surely be an event chock-full of highlights.