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  • Writer's picturePaul Howe

Of Fads and Perception

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

I have been working with LEO’s (Law Enforcement Officers) for over 30 years and have watched the roller coaster of fads come and go.

New and Special Ops Approved CQB?

Tactically, I see “New and Special Ops Approved CQB” (if you call it that) systems taught that are taking years to master. It cannot be handed down to patrol types because it is too complicated. Further, instructors who attempt to learn the system cannot explain what is gained by using these new techniques.

I know, the Spec Ops Bearded ones look cool, but that is where it ends with me. I have been there and worked with guys that looked cool, but I would not want to be taught by them. They might be a great soldier, but as far as teaching goes, they leave much to be desired.

Take for example, room CQB and a point person. New systems teach old school stuff that is made for sterile big rooms which are in most military shoot houses. The tactics don’t work so well in the average house with furniture and clutter.

Some instructors teach the point person to enter, shoot the bad guy and continue to roll to the unknown. There are a couple of problems with this. First, bad guys don’t die like in the movies. They can fall with a gun in their hand, next to the gun and can flop for 60 seconds before they expire or relax. As point, do you want to give this this threat up visually and lose sight of this person? Why not hit and commit? You are entering the room with a team or a partner, why try and clear it all by yourself?

Next, some systems being taught promote pushing to the corner, even though you might see it from the outside of the room instead of taking the threat which is obvious when you roll your scan from the corner as a point person prior to entry. I have watched many a student see the threat, then look at their corner and then shoot the threat. Guess what guys, reaction time has started when the bad guy sees you. You can look at an empty corner that you can see from the outside prior to entry and then look at it again prior to shooting the bad guy, but it is time consuming.

The old thought process of getting out of the “fatal funnel” is okay, but running to a corner first before you shoot is not putting rounds in the bad guy. It has been said that it was three and four man always getting shot on entries as the bad guy would shoot at the doorway. This is likely because one and two were busy doing dumb stuff and not putting rounds into them. 1 and 2 were running to corners they could see outside the breach point and ignoring the obvious threat. This is why 3-4 were getting hit. Again, 1 and 2 were not putting rounds into the bad guy because they were “digging” a corner they could already see.

While the military has some good tactics in special units, much of the standard tactics simply suck. I have to constantly break former military guys of throwing their rifle up at every corner when entering a room. I have to explain to them that this is America and walls do not stop bullets like the ones overseas. I have to also explain to them that there are other officers and innocents in those rooms that don’t need weapons pointed at them.

Special Ops units

In regards Special Ops units, I have seen them use tactics that were poor, but because they are classified, you don’t here when their tactics fail and the have to reinvent the wheel. This includes training accidents that they have.

In the end, don’t be afraid to use common sense. Dynamic tactics are fun, but you have to still use common sense when applying them. You are in “Close Quarters” and have to get effective rounds on the bad guy before he gets rounds into you. Remember, we push to save life.

If we move this “Fad” discussion to appearances, the obvious discussion is that of beards and tattoos.

As for the current trends of beards and tattoos, I don’t care. The question is,“Does it enhance the uniform.” While you think you look like this war-torn operator fresh from the Snack bar province of Trashcanistan, you might just look goofy.


As a LEO, you have probably the noblest professions in the world. You are charged with protecting and serving the community. You get a rifle, pistol, ammo, training and get to chase bad guys and extract them from the community both upright and sometimes prone. It should be one of the best jobs of your life. The problem is that many times the command climate is which makes the job crappy and not the civilians you interact with.

Commands that promote training and excellence have higher moral, better agencies and retention. Commands that are weak, let officers have beards to appease them, like throwing a dog a bone. It is a command bone of no substance. Does your appearance enhance the uniform or detract from it? You don’t need a high and tight haircut, a business one will do. This also applies to being fat as well and not having any physical training standards to adhere to. You as an individual need to make that call. Cosmetic CQB and Fad appearances do the same for you, nothing.

Finally, from a friend and LE Professional:

As to the serve and protect part at the end of your article. Just my humble thoughts a police Officer has the duty to protect the Constitutional rights of everyone they are charge to protect and bring to justice those they take into custody (even if that means using deadly force). I have always felt the American soldier from George Washington’s army to today’s soldier have secured our freedoms and the American police officer ensure those in our communities have their constitutional rights to pursue the rights to live free.

Paul R. Howe is a 20-year veteran and former Special Operations soldier and instructor. He owns Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT), where he consults with, trains and evaluates law enforcement and government agencies in technical and tactical techniques throughout the special operations spectrum. 

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