Monday, February 12, 2007

Character Flaw

Good training, especially good scenario training, can uncover holes in your skill sets and a myriad of bad habits. Sometimes what you learn is so heavy that it can only be described as a character flaw- sometimes it's not what you know or what you did, it is who you are.

Second day of the training and we are practicing witness transport and protection. Drive, stay alert, arrive at drop, bail and set up a hasty perimeter, scan for safety or clear as necessary and touch base with the receiving unit, then remove the protectee from the vehicle and escort inside.

First scenario and we took fire. I hear the 'pop, pop, pop' of sim fire from across the street. I turn and engage, closing. I fire three shots from 25 yards to 20 and the threat turns and runs (odd, we are taught and practice even in a scenario to saty in the fight no matter what). Doesn't matter- another threat to my left and I sprint, tactical reload, sprint to the dead space behind the building that threat is using for cover. He's still firing at my team, tunnel visioned and I pop around the wall at his knee level and fire three rounds into his belly just below the vest, all angled upward. It urn and scan 360, looking for a third threat and my team is screaming, waving me over. While I've gone off on this little murdering hunt they've kept one vehicle in the kill zone waiting to extract me. I sprint, dive in the window and we tear off.

That's it, my character flaw. One of 'em, anyway. When attacked, I counter-attack. Normally, that's a good response. Not here. The mission, the team, my responsibilty as a team leader- all those things disappear and the thing that comes out is what it is- implacable and predatory- just not part of the team.

The goal, now, is to consciously take control. To remember the mission even when this deep button is pushed. To trust my men on the perimeter to do the killing if killing needs to be done. To force myself to look at the big picture. That's going to be hard.

BTW- the guy ran because I shot him right on the tip of the nose. Those suckers can hurt.

Since this is on the edge of true confession time- also at this training I did the most egregious friendly fire kill ever. We were ambushed again and everyone fell back in good order to the hardened (solid cover- a concrete building) drop. The instructor (sneaky bastard, JJ, but I'll never again back into an unknown or take a safe zone on faith) had put one more threat inside the safe house. We backed into a deadlier ambush. One of my team peeled, trying to find a way down a corridor to flank the room the threat was firing from. The rookie pit his weapon and light on the door. I buttonhooked through into the connecting room. The threat was silent, suckering us into crossing the threshhold into another kill zone. I signaled the rookie to kill his light and saw the shadow of the threat on the floor. I dove, sliding on my side and fired four shots into the threats groin and lower stomach at an upward angle (may be seeing a pattern here). It wasn't the threat. The threat had run to the basement. It was the officer who had run down the corridor to flank. Not only had I shot my own man, but I stalked him and assasinated him.

Lots of things would or could have changed this- threats and officers wearing the same armor, officer watching the door instead of the stairs... but those are incidentals. This is the purpose of training at this level- to find holes, to get better. This was great training.


Unknown said...

I purchased your book on "Violence for Writers". So far, it's brutal, honest and so far hit every "trigger" (PTSD). I'm getting more solid; not so reactive.
I hate on the TV shows the villain or the hero shoots 5-20 men and all of them die squirting blood or hit in the gut and not one of the 5-20 men scream or live through the shootings with a sound of agony that last more than three syllables.
I grew up in a "survivalist" home and mentality. I suffered. It's a knee jerk reaction to assault and I know the feeling when you know you are in the "winning zone". I also know what it is like to be in the "losing" pummel and head slamming, face in the dirt-loser side. I am now 48 and I'm a woman-blond none the less. It is part of me even after all these years. I wish kids saw the "real" results of killing anything, especially a human; maybe some of these young men wouldn't develop a taste for blood. Or is it still oxytocin thinking that violence can ever be reduced in males? By the way, I might lose against an opponent-but he'd be easy to pick out in a line up. If I'm going down for the final loss- An ear, a nose, a hunk of flesh, will be missing. Yeah, I know what it feels like to be punched, count till I can see again-and using every gross motor skill I have.
LOL Thanks for the book, Violence for Writers. The content is harsh, but reality. Great job.

Rory said...

Thanks, Florida. I hope the book helps you more than it hurts. But sometimes it's both.