CQB/Hostage Rescue

From the notes of LCDR (Lieutenant Commander, USN) Robert Graves:

Hostage rescue is one of the two most likely scenarios within our CQB profile wherein Bravo Team is most likely to receive hostile contact. The second such scenario is the Jack-hammer–otherwise known as the “snatch-grab” or more formally worded as the apprehension of a high value target. The reason why a hostage rescue is such a risky mission is because before we’ve even been contacted, an armed group has forcibly taken a person of value to our cause and is guarding said person(s) with extreme vigilance. It’s essentially our enemy pulling a snatch-and-grab on us! And before Bravo Team is even notified, a lesser entity like a local police department or even a military GPF has failed to resolve the problem.

In such high pressure, high stress scenarios; it’s key for our operators to block out emotion & focus completely on the plan, the layout of the target area, & any unknowns that they observe after having entered the target area. Typically, as well-trained & equipped as Bravo Team is, we limited if any time to plan our response to a crisis in progress. And no matter how professional my operators are, the word’s of the great Mike Tyson still hold true: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” We want our guys to anticipate the enemy’s punch & pre-empt said action with decisive action of their own. Or if not, absorb that punch to the face & punch back even harder!

Think you know CQB? Well then join the action! Use the white arrows along the middle seam to toggle between both pictures!

One: Contact 12 o’clock. Tango in sight.

Two: Drop your weapon now! Drop it or die!

(Tac-tac-tac!!!)

One: One Tango down. One is up.

Two: One Tango down. Two is up. Package (hostage) secured.

Three: One Tango down. Three is up. Package secured.

Four: One Tango down. Four is up. Package secured.

L-T: Yes. Our goal at the end of every hostage rescue is to return the hostage back to where they belong: back to the people who love them. And back to the place where they can best contribute to the overall just cause.

What Mike Tyson said during his peak still holds true. Everyone–including the Tangos (terrorists) have a plan. And everyone eventually does get punched in the face. I guess our guys just have a jaw that our enemies don’t want to test. Because so far, Bravo Team has never failed a mission that it’s been tasked with. God willing; we never will. I just hope we manage to make the difference that truly matters.

CQB/The Mastiff

SENSITIVITY STATEMENT

Navy SEAL Wayne Bowman clears a corridor with his suppressed MP-5 sub machinegun at the ready.

CQB–an acronym for Close-Quarter-Battle. It’s the deadliest form of non-nuclear warfare; a real up close & personal hand-to-hand fight to the death. Think of it as a fist fight with guns & grenades. Despite what you see in Hollywood movies, the majority of US military infantry doctrine trains for contact between 300-1000 meters. Anything inside 300 meters is uncomfortable; anything inside 50 meters is the red zone because that’s hand grenade range. Oh, the basic infantryman is tough. But when my CQB direct-action team hits the scene, we don’t measure contact distance in meters; we measure in feet. Hand grenade range is dangerous; but when our guys go in, we operate to within stabbing range of the enemy.

I know what you’re thinking. Why do it if it’s so dangerous? Right? Well, there are a handful of situations when CQB offers the best option for an acceptable resolution. We’re talking hostage scenarios, especially when a VIP like an ambassador is the hostage. We’re also talking snatch & grabs; missions where we forcibly apprehend a person of key significance like a terrorist cell leader. There are a handful of other situations where our team takes priority to carry out the mission, but these first two scenarios represent the areas when armed resistance is almost assured. Put it this way; by the time they call us in, the situation has already devolved from bad to worse & we’re there to try to salvage at least a partial victory.

By now, you’ve probably met Lieutenant-Commander Robert Graves; he’s “the big boss.” And Chief Petty Officer Stone; he’s the second-in-command. We usually call him “Next” since he’s next in command. Well I’m Wayne Bowman. My official job title is “assaulter;” but my guys have designated me as the mastiff. When we’re on a snatch-&-grab mission, which about 30% of our missions are–my job is to close in on the target & apprehend them–the same way a police officer would arrest a suspect. These guys–typically, the targets are males although not always–can get mighty feisty. It’s my job to close in & lock down on them, the way a mastiff would lock in on a wild boar during a medieval hunt. I often end up wrestling the guy into submission & then escorting him out to the extraction zone while my teammates provide cover fire. It’s an uneasy feeling being caught in the middle of a firefight & not being able to shoot back. My job is to ensure the precious cargo makes a safe exit. That’s what I do. I’m the mastiff.

Usually most of the guys arm themselves with a standard M-4 carbline as their primary weapon. But I prefer the MP-5 submachine gun with a flash suppressor. Given my unique task, I often only fire once we’re in doors. And in-doors & in extremely tight quarters, the MP-5 actually has some advantages to the versatile M-4. For backup, I carry an H&K USP chambered in .45 ACP. Like my primary weapon, my pistol is usually suppressed. Again, I do my best work in-doors.

Most of the operators in my line of work measure success in terms of kills. I measure mine in terms of how many bad guys I bring in alive for questioning. Once we get them to talk, they’re worth way more to us alive then dead.

HARD AS STONE

SENSITIVITY STATEMENT

DukeCrop

I’m Jay Stone, Chief Petty Officer (CPO or simply “Chief”) in the United States Navy. At least, I think I’m still officially working for the Navy. You’ll see what I mean shortly. I’m the Team Leader of Bravo Team. No, that doesn’t make me the unit “commander;” that would be Lieutenant-Commander (LCDR) Graves. He’s the team’s commissioned officer & formal unit chief. As Team Leader, I’m simply the field lead operative. Depending on who you ask, I’m the team’s real leader while Graves is more of the department administrator. All the big wigs in Washington see Graves as the leader while most of the operator’s you meet in the field defer to me instead. You see, I’m an enlisted guy just like the other 80% or so of military professionals who trade slugs with the enemy face-to-face in the mud. But as a small special warfare element, everyone on this unit is a capable & experienced grunt. Graves included; hell, his nickname before he received his commission was Grunt!

Anyway, you’ll hear more about Graves–or “LT” as we call him–later. But while we’re on the topic, technically we should address Graves as “Sir” or “Commander.” But since most of us came up from SEAL platoons, which are 16-men units headed by a Lieutenant, its just habit to call the boss man “L-T.” He doesn’t seem to mind. He’s not too caught up in the officer/enlisted thing; but really at this level, hardly anyone is. As I was saying, we are a 5-man direct action combat unit modeled heavily after the US Navy SEALs. I say “man” because, as of now, there are only men on the team. We don’t have any qualms about having a women join our ranks. In fact, we often go into the teeth of battle with women leading the way; mostly the secretive CIA types. We are the CQB (Close-Quarter-Battle) element of a small special warfare task force, the name of which I will reveal later. Our unit, Bravo Team, infiltrates & exfiltrates our target areas the same way SEAL Platoons do–by Sea, Air, & Land. In addition, we share most of the same mission profiles, although our charter calls for a narrower list of responsibilities. We only deploy with a max of our 5 guys with occasional support of a 2-man sniper team; SEALs can deploy in a full platoon of 16, or at least they did when I was there.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about unit integrity & have you meet the other guys. Typically, I lead a 4-man team in the field; but I don’t technically always lead the way. That’s the Point man’s job. That would be Reyes. He acts as our primary pathfinder & almost always spearheads the formation. I’m usually next followed by our Assaulter/Breacher Bowman. After him its Compton bringing up the rear as Assaulter/Tail Gunner. This scheme represents our most frequently used load out. Sometimes, LT goes out into the field with us. When he does, he lines up between Bowman & me. This way, LT is the man in the middle if we make contact & he can split us up into two separate maneuver elements with me & Reyes as alpha & Bowman & Compton as bravo. LT can join either element as needed but he most often stays under cover & directs each element as an observing 3rd party. In our task force, we call this our “fireteam plus one”(fireteam + 1) format. When we go full force, we work alongside Variable, a 2-man sniper unit for fire support. Typically, that’s it; that’s all we got. Now, depending on the situation, we usually have close air support via helicopter or drone strike; but that’s when we really get fancy!

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In formal military parlance, they call units like us low intensity conflict solutions. That’s a bit of a misnomer, because the conflict gets really intense & the stakes are always really high. When I say stakes are high, we are talking the difference between making to work for your 9 am presentation or nuclear holocaust depending on mission success or failure. I laugh when I hear my friends back home talk about not being able to sleep because of anxiety from their jobs. If they only knew!

Anyway, they call us “low intensity conflict” operatives not because the conflict is low stakes, just small scale. When I say small scale, I mean 4 to 16 guys taking on an enemy maybe 12 to 60 members strong; and that’s on a big operation. The fighting is still fierce & high risk, it’s just not high intensity in terms of a giant World War II style battlefield with 100,000 soldiers all jumbled in an area of a few square miles. Our missions look more like those of a big city SWAT team raiding a local organized crime warehouse. The difference is, our jurisdiction is global & the implications are bigger than that. How “big” you ask? Real “big”. We’re talking borders on your smart phone’s GPS change day by day based on the things me & my guys do the night before “big”. We’re talking North Korea doesn’t launch a missile capable of reaching our capital because one of my guys made a pin point shot with his last bullet from 100 meters with his left hand when he’s right handed “big”!

SShheeewww! Low intensity conflict. Pahhh-LEAZE!! Anxiety over having to present a proposal to the boss the next day. Most people wouldn’t last two hours in my world. But, truth be told, I’m probably no more stressed or no loss stressed than everyone else is at their office job or in their factory somewhere. Because the truth is, this is simply what I’ve chosen to do. And I explain it to people like this. Stress, fear, anger, anxiety . . . they are all just universal emotions. It’s just like turning up the volume on your fancy stereo when you favorite song comes up. If your volume meter only goes up to ten & you typically have it on 8 or 9 for your average song, you can still only crank it up one more notch even for a real kick ass song!  We can’t freak out 10 times worse than normal just because the stakes are 10 times higher. That’s a realization that brought me some finally brought me some peace. I used to resent my civilian neighbors more than I do now for living filled with such petty concerns. But then I realized that what looks petty to be as I’m trying prevent the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile looks big to someone back home trying to hold down a job. I don’t consider those guys lesser men anymore–just different. After all, I choose to do this. I was made to do this. God has different plans for different men; but we are still men. We are all still necessary & valuable. We each just have to serve our purpose. And I haven’t even gotten to the women yet! Where would we do without them?

Anyway, that’s what terminal recognition did for me; enabled me to forgive my neighbors for living a life different from mine. Terminal recognition is the term we use in the task force for that idea that we can only feel fear up a a set max level. Once you hit level 10, rest assured you are adequately aware of the high stakes. Focusing on your fear or how big a moment it is beyond this becomes counter productive. At this point, you’ve acknowledged the risk. Now it’s time to block out the emotion, formulate a plan, & execute it. That’s what we call terminal recognition. Any emotion beyond that point is just pure distraction.

We may be SEALs. We may be badass. We may be tough. But we’re still only programmed to max out emotional awareness at level 10.

I’m Jay Stone. Most people think I’m a hard-ass. The guys I work with tell me I’m “hard as stone.” And I don’t guess they’re wrong.

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FICTION FRONT PAGE

ADVENTURE FICTION

SENSITIVITY STATEMENT

LT

Up to this point (May 2020), I’ve used this site as a virtual shelf to display my collection of 12″ GI Joes along with an assortment of other 1/6 scale action figures.Now I’ve decided to write a bit of fiction recording the action through the eyes of my 12 ” heroes as they navigate the perils of my scaled down, imaginary world. I have always had a deep interest in the military, in history, & recently in politics: as such, I will strive to keep everything realistic insofar as I will base everything on the real world without specifically writing about real world events. I never served in the military. I do not intend to criticize or to judge anyone else’s culture, beliefs, or  life experience (see SENSITIVITY STATEMENT for details). I just want to tell a compelling story and, in doing so, demonstrate the reason that a man well into his thirties has remained so glued to relics of his childhood. Some people play video games to visit an alternate reality; I used to drink to do so. But now, I choose to do this. It’s more creative, less expensive, & less dangerous.

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