Are we truly training to understand the realities of an armed conflict?
In our modern 21st century world, reality has quickly become the optimal buzz word, the catch all statement used to sell to an eager audience. Grown from something faced in our lives to something that’s designed to entertain, riveting masses to the television nightly. In fact, were faced with some sort of “Reality Based” amusement at practically every turn. Engaging us with exciting programs about overindulged starlet “role models” flashing there nether regions to their fervent minions, decrepit pop stars fumbling through life or captivating us with the suspense of seeing who will shoot an obsolete weapon the best all while arguing over whose ego is more out of control. The popular mass media of the 21st century has preyed upon our natural curiosity and the immediacy of information available today. Allowing basement dwellers of all ages to live vicariously through others, focusing their lives on the questionable ethical issues of various professional sports figures, celebrity indiscretions and the relationships of some our nations most prominent elected leaders. The concept of reality has never meant so much to the lives of so many and been as misunderstood as it is today. In fact, the general understanding of reality as it relates to the martial application of firearms and tactics has also been subject to a widespread alteration. In many instances it has taken an E-ticket ride right through Tomorrowland, past the spinning teacups and the hall of Presidents, stopping briefly to goose Cinderella in front of her castle and heading straight to Fantasyland.
About Wes Doss, PhD.
Wes is an internationally recognized firearms, tactics, and use of force instructor with over 30 years of military and civilian criminal justice experience, as well as significant operational time with both military and law enforcement tactical and protective service organizations. Wes holds specialized instructor certifications from the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, Arizona POST, the Smith & Wesson Academy, the Sigarms Academy, the NRA LEAD, and FEMA.
Wes has studied adult education and human performance extensively and has a broad background in the martial arts, with over 25 years of training, teaching, and competitive full contact fighting experience. Wes is the founder, President, and General Operating Manager of Khyber Interactive Associates, LLC and the Annual 1 Inch to 100 Yards Warrior Conference. Wes holds a Masters degree in Criminal Justice Administration and a PhD in Psychology. Wes is a member of a number of professional associations, including: The International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), The American Society of Law Enforcement Training (ASLET), The National Rifle Association (NRA), The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA), The Military Police Regimental Association (MPRA), and the International Association of Counter Terrorism and Security Professionals (IACTSP).
Wes is also a published author, with numerous articles in various publications, such as; SWAT magazine, ASLET “The Trainer”, and The NTOA “Tactical Edge”. Wes is also the author of the bestselling books “Train to Win”, and “Condition to Win” both training psychology/philosophy books focused on law enforcement and military trainers and professionals. Wes’s third book “Inside the Gap” is a psychological exploration of the close quarters environment and methods to train for them, its due for release in winter of 2013.
For all intense purposes reality is the sum total of an individuals knowledge of themselves, others, the environment and their understanding of the interaction between these elements. Individual perception of reality is acquired and developed over the course of an individual’s life. In other words: Our perception of the world is taught to us. Our knowledge of reality is very limiting because it has been passed to us through things we have experienced, starting out initially as a set of beliefs and norms through our family tree. Mothers are often our first teachers and depending on your take on psychology and any lingering Oedipus or Electra complex, remain the most dominate influence on our perception, but many times this gives way to popular and charismatic figures who are happy to assist us in altering our sense of reality. This is very common even in the over the top, tier one, bro-bumping, tribal tattooed, tough guy world of self-defense and tactical training.
Volumes have been written about gun fighting, tactics and strategy, often times with limited regard to the effects on the individual involved or to the realties these situations produce. The inclusion of words like “fight”, “combat” and “tactical” are often added generously to articles and course descriptions to provide an air of reality and necessity, but much like black nylon and Velcro, they are only loosely based on reality or real needs.
The developed modern world of self-defense and combative training, in its attempt to homogenize responses to situations, has tried to mimic the real world by establishing a countless number of hard fast absolutes. However, it’s critical to understand that in the real world, in particular the real world of conflict, there are no absolutes and while there are plenty of referees and armchair quarterbacks there are no universal rule books. The real world has no cut and dry, black and white conditions; rather, it is an environment of infinite shades of grey, abound by endless options and opportunities.
If we find ourselves in a fight, armed or otherwise, how long will it last? 10 seconds? 25 seconds? A minute? Honestly….who knows and who cares? A fight will last as long as it will last and isn’t over until submission, compliance or a significant drop in blood pressure is achieved. Since the inception of statistics about gun fights we have been swamped with theories that tell us that since most gun fights only last a matter of seconds, only involve the firing of X number of rounds, or generally occur at close distance, that these are the only conditions that we should train under. So, if I am advocating greater reality in training why would I want to contest these training concepts? Because in a fight you just never know! If we prepare for the worst then perhaps anything less will pale in comparison. A better question and training concern should be, will the individual last as long as the fight? Has our training conditioned us to understand and mitigate the effects of emotional and psychological stress? Do we posses the physical and mental stamina to go the full duration of a conflict? Are we truly training to understand the realities of an armed conflict?