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Thread: What is CQB?

  1. #1

    Default What is CQB?

    I raised this question on another forum (to remain nameless) and was slammed. I cautiously raise it again here confident that the level of discourse is able to cope with such a question....

    CQB = "Close Quarter Battle"

    The issue, with my raising and questioning of the definition, seemed to be that since 9/11 certain high Tier CT units have been training extensively in urban CQB, as a sub-unit tactical activity of the larger MOUT/FIBUA picture, which has concentrated on a lot of kill/capture missions into urban or structure environments. This has spread into the wider army and civilian culture and it seemed to me that a lot of people out there think that warfare is just about room clearing (I exaggerate).

    I asked the question of whether CQB is purely synonymous with urban operations, or whether CQB can be "close combat" in other environments. This is where the controversy was. Yes, urban CQB involves specific drills for room entry and clearance and all the rest, that is a given, but does that mean that is all CQB is? It is a semantics question, I know. I remember doing "CQB" on Jungle lanes.

    Yes, you will not use urban CQB drill in, for instance, the Jungle. But you may be doing another type of CQB. Or is it just "close combat". It appears that CQB has become, in the eyes of the primary CT practitioners, simply urban tactical operations.

    The other side to this was my observation that due to current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where a lot of raid type search/capture/clear missions have gone on, including by conventional troops, that I felt we may be losing our way a little on what high intensity urban/MOUT is about. I felt that we have been applying techniques that are more suited for "permissive" environments or "semi-permissive" ones, which then carries over to kinetic completely non-permissive battlefields.

    What do I mean by this? Primarily entry drills. Even the US Army small unit tactics smart book, when discussing urban entry drills, describes it as I originnally learned it in the British Army; splitting the breach fire team into two man teams and moving to the breach site under cover of ground/fire before breaching and securing the entry point with two man teams, to be rapidly exploited into the building. What do we see all the time? "SWAT" style stacking at the breach, which isn usually a door.

    High intensity MOUT/FIBUA involves avoiding breaching and entering via the doors if at all possible. Without going into all of it here, the basics are that a higher level entry is preferred, and via another route such as a mousehole etc.

    So, to recap: There are two strands here:

    1. Is "CQB" simply an urban activity, involving entry and room clearance?
    2. Have we become "too SWAT" with our building entry drills and have we forgotten how to conduct ourselves in high intensity urban operations.

    An observation that I have as a British American is that a lot of the training is very "stylised" in the US. This includes room entry, where it is all about practising specific drills for entering and clearing the corners, dominating positions etc. The way I remember it, entering a room is a highly violent activity that is likely to result in a close encounter or just as well a full pile into the floor after tripping over an item of furntiture. I am wary of "stylizing" the training too much. I hope my point comes across as intended. I think you have to have good basic practised drills, go left, go right, cover the room etc, but real rooms are full of stuff, and it can rapidly become a clustee in there. You have to be flexible and ready to adapt. Just sayin'....
    Last edited by max velocity; 08-06-2012 at 08:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Max,
    All your points are well taken and essentially correct. Some of the equipment is new and fancy but there isn't anything essentially new since the days of W.E. Fairbarin and Rex Applegate it's just people have figured out ways to make money off of it. But I am becoming very cynical in more old age.

  3. #3
    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    CQB is a "SME" empire built on police tactics entirely inappropriate for conventional operations in populated areas.

  4. #4

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    Ok, thanks for the feedback. I knew something was up, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Now I feel that I am slightly less likely to be crazy (only slightly).

    It appears that those whom I tried to raise this issue with for discussion, are in fact embedded in the "industry" as SMEs - a quick website check got me that info. Mainly retired police/SWAT types with some military experience, and some Tier 1/2 military types. Defending empires I guess.

    I have never claimed to be "CQB" SME. I have certainly "done" CQB, and trained others, but I called it urban operations, MOUT/FIBUA and room clearing. I did a search of the internet and sites like youtube to find out what all this stuff is about. Interesting, very stylized drills that are not really appropriate and work well in empty kill house type rooms. When watching the way people are trained, I can't help but notice that they seem to almost ignore the center of the room in favor of concentrating on "dominating" the corners.

    I was originally in the British Army. In the Parachute Regiment we were considered very good at FIBUA. The British SAS is considered the premier "CQB" hostage rescue outfit and has been since the Iranian Embassy siege in 1982. If you look at some of the completely open source youtube videos of veterans showing somewhat outdated tactics, they don't do anything like the current US CQB teaching.

    Example: they will enter the room, one goes left, one right, but only so far to clear the "fatal funnel" and get out of the way of the door. They will then engage targets in the room and the third guy will come in as back up. The fourth man will do security in the corridor (assuming they are acting as a somewhat independently moving team and don't have another teams coming behind, and that they are going back out into the corridor as they clear multiple rooms).

    As to high intensity FIBUA, I am pretty sure that has been covered in detail on this site. A little summary: We were well trained at it, up to Company and Battalion level. Feeding into buildings and breaching through to avoid the outside and open spaces. It's all about link men and coordination! Back down to the tactical level, for any kind of normal residential type rooms, we would assault with two men, closely backed up by the rest of the team. Grenade goes in (not all the time, would use too many), one assaulter goes left, one goes right. Cover the room with fire. Fire into avaialble cover if the tactical situation called for it. Make sure the room was clear. Call room clear and indentify exits from the room for the section commander so when he entered he could rapidly make a plan to push the next asault team through into the next space. Repeat.

    Buildings would be defended and not easy to get through. The full gamut of OBUA defensive tactics woud be used to foil assault teams. Houses could be full of wire, rooms with furniture. No stairs, just as examples. Ladders and breaking tools would be carried, similarly to the way we carried assault ladders for urban movement recently in Helmand, when you need to patrol over the maze of alleyways and urban compound type terrain. Those mud compound walls are so strong that you need a bar mine type charge to breach them.

    I digress into ramblings....

    This is not a Brit bashing at US tactics. I know that US tactics are very close to UK for MOUT/FIBUA. With our current "SWAT Team" focus we seem to have forgotten that?

  5. #5
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by max velocity View Post
    This is not a Brit bashing at US tactics. I know that US tactics are very close to UK for MOUT/FIBUA. With our current "SWAT Team" focus we seem to have forgotten that?
    I don't think anyone would/should take it that way, actually. I've been concerned as an outside observer for some time about what could be called the "law enforcement-ization" of military tactics and operations, honestly. Started, IMO, soon after 2001 when people started talking about military personnel "arresting" terrorists. CQB grew from hostage rescue techniques and LE stuff and soon become the "cool guys" method for urban operations. The fact that it wasn't appropriate for that wide of a focus escaped many.

    It just goes to show that we don't always learn the right lessons, or understand how to correctly apply those that we do learn.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  6. #6
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Also two other factors. SOF-ization and a deeply flawed training system

    Not only is the US Army (and the Marine Corps to a lesser extent) guilty of "law enforcementization," the Army in particular dumbed down training to such an extent in the 80s that, given 2001 and some fighting to do, they adopted not only the flawed LE stuff but also much in the way of SOF Direct Action TTP. A combination of those two adoptions using the terribly flawed Task, Condition and Standard training process in an attempt to rectify shortfalls induced by that very process has been very harmful.

    Task: Clear a building. Condition: Whoops! Empire State Building? Pentagon? Crystal City Marriot? Typical American Office building? Strip Shopping Center? European urban house? Afghan Rural house? Viet Namese rural house? Thatched Hut?
    Standard: Clear and live...

    Both the LE and the SOF DA TTP have a place but in general, infantry combat is not such a place. Some one needs to go dig out the pre-1975 doctrine, get the Army on an outcome based training regimen and let the LE and SOF stuff stay where it belongs. Slap and Infanteer are both correct as are Steve and Max -- and we, the Army, have got a problem that must be addressed...

    Take doors as an example. For good reasons, LE and SOF DA types use doors. Why would Joe Tentpeg, Gruntus Typicalus, in an urban combat situation EVER use a door if it could be avoided? He's not remotely concerned with doing little damage to property, * he is very concerned with not ever doing the same thing twice (contrary to what we 'taught' and practiced for too long...) and doing the unexpected while letting the other SOB die for his country (hat tip to George C. Scott...).

    Mouseholes, battered holes, through the ceiling, even windows are better than doors. Been my observation that a Frag grenade is best first in if doors must be used (NOTE: That will work on most Afghan dwellings. Do not try it in much of the rest of Asia; the walls are far thinner... )

    * For those who cite good COIN etc. practices as a reason to avoid property damage, I agree -- what I do not agree with is using General Purpose Forces in that role; they will never do it well -- nor should they.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the input. This brings me on to another "pet peeve":

    I see it everywhere, even on a recent episode of Doomsday Preppers! Why do I see people walking ("patrolling")around with their weapons jammed into their eye socket? Is this an attempt at being super-alert and ready to fire? It will do the reverse, it will give you tunnel vision. You cannot patrol like that, unless you think the enemy is very imminent from a specific direction. Even when you expect contact, you will have your weapon at the ready and your eyes up and looking along the top of the weapon. At close range you will shoot instinctively using the "shotgun method" anyway so gluing your eye to the sight will not help. Keep your head up, alert, and the weapon at the ready, in order to best respond to threats from multiple directions.
    It's this silly "TV SWAT" thing where they run into a building pointing their weapons intently with their eyes glued to the sights but they have no peripheral awareness.
    I think it is another example of this "tacticool" craziness that seems to infitrate everywhere.

  8. #8
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Infanteer View Post
    CQB is a "SME" empire built on police tactics entirely inappropriate for conventional operations in populated areas.
    Then there are the police tactics inappropriate for the police too. I was taught a very involved, complicated way of handcuffing people. Boy did I sweat over getting every step right. That is until an old Captain said if you do that you are just going to piss them off and then they might fight you. He said just ask them to turn around and put their hands behind their back and before they could figure out what was going on, click click and you were done. You took advantage of that moment of confusion.

    The thing was, the complicated method was meant (I think) for really dangerous guys who were covered with a gun by one officer while a second went though the evolution, the kind of thing the SWAT guys did. But the SWAT guys controlled most of the training so they taught what they knew even though it mostly didn't work.

    (I hope that story has some application to the discussion.)
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Kiwigrunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by max velocity View Post
    Why do I see people walking ("patrolling")around with their weapons jammed into their eye socket?
    I wonder if the advent of red-dot sights may have some bearing on this, being a both eyes open sight and all...
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

  10. #10
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Sight fixation is nothing new, really, and I don't know that it's related to red dot in particular. I think Max is referring to (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that odd "elbows up in your chest" carry position for pistols in general that has extended to other weapons.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  11. #11
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    Default The Pet Peeve and LE-ization of ROEs

    I go along with Steve and Ken, but look at it from another vantage point. The LE-ization, SOF-ization and contradictory (or absent) TTPs and training practices, have gone a long way to replace ROEs based on the Laws of War (Laws of Armed Conflict; International Humanitarian Law) with ROEs (and TTPs) based on civilian legal rules (the "Rule of Law" and International Human Rights Law).

    This is again beating the horse that Polarbear1605 and I have been beating for the past 4 years; but that horse (unfortunately) is still alive and kicking.

    Its most recent resurrection was last month with release of ATTP 3-37.31, Civilian Casualty Mitigation (July 2012), whose second paragraph sets the test:

    1-2. During armed conflict, Army forces protect civilians through civilian casualty (CIVCAS) mitigation. CIVCAS mitigation is all measures to avoid or minimize CIVCASs and reduce the adverse impact of those that occur. In the context of CIVCAS mitigation, a civilian is any person who is not a combatant. In other words, a civilian is a person not engaged in hostilities during an armed conflict, regardless of the groups or organizations to which the person belongs. If there is any doubt, Army forces consider a person to be a civilian. In the context of CIVCAS mitigation, a CIVCAS refers to any civilian wounded or dead as a result of armed conflict.
    In how many "CQB" situations involving irregular forces (such as room clearing, stairwell clearing, persons at an IED scene exiting a vehicle, etc.), will there not be at least some doubt as to the status of the shootee ?

    This ATTP (3-37.31), BTW, is not a legal or ROE text as such; but rather a GPF operational text (from Preface):

    Army Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (ATTP) 3-37.31 is the Army’s doctrinal publication for mitigating civilian casualties (CIVCASs). The purpose is to provide doctrinal guidance for minimizing CIVCAS incidents and managing their consequences. The focus is on guiding Army leaders conducting operations involving armed conflict.
    civcasmitigationcycle.jpg

    Like John Keegan, I've never been in a battle; nor have I been close to a battle. So, to those who have, is this ATTP bullroar - or am I missing something ?

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 08-08-2012 at 01:16 AM.

  12. #12
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It's typical military response to civilian 'norms.'

    'Norms' in quotes because they change like the winds...

    Typical because the Armed Forces have to respond to those changes in some fashion lest they imperil their funding. Typical also because in every war, we have modified the rules, the doctrine, to cope with what the bulk of Americans want -- or seem to want, not always the same thing -- the forces to do. The US has most always tried to minimize civilian casualties and in recent wars, that has been at some cost in own casualties. In the most recent, that cost has been relatively small. We have also further modified at the end of or after after the wars to remove what may seem to some an excessively violent approach to operations (That lasts until more violence seems prudent...).

    In this case, an odd combination of R2P and current 'COIN' theory sends us to combat (which is barely coordinated chaos) and demands that no one not positively identified as hostile be bothered, much less harmed. Thus the Pam is a fairly logical result of that anomaly. Like most such efforts it truly means well but suffers from excessively idealistic intent coupled with a lack of current appreciation for the harshness of heavy combat in which excessive concern for civilian casualties will cause a more significant increase in own casualties that (as has not been true in the current wars) will go beyond what the public and the politicians will find they are willing to accept. In mid to high intensity combat, it is inevitable that civilian casualties will be incurred and that the rate will rise with the intensity of combat..

    The bad news is that such contradictory and untenable doctrine will get combatants killed unnecessarily as they attempt in many combat situations to avoid civilian casualties and find that is not possible without significantly increasing own casualties. The good news is that after a few weeks of heavy combat, reality returns and such idealistic but unrealistic stuff falls by the wayside.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    IIRC, a SWC member penned an Armor Magazine article titled, "Beware Battle Drill Six.". It shares some of your concerns.

    The folks who slammed you for asking an entitely reasonable question have their heads up their asses.

    The Marine Corps learned the flaws of our TTPs in the urban/residential fights along the Euphrates, and in wholesale amounts during Fallujah 2.0. I cannot remember the title, but a group of infantrymen from 3d Bn 5th Marines wrote an excellent AAR of their fight, and it was eye-opening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    IIRC, a SWC member penned an Armor Magazine article titled, "Beware Battle Drill Six.". It shares some of your concerns.

    The folks who slammed you for asking an entitely reasonable question have their heads up their asses.

    The Marine Corps learned the flaws of our TTPs in the urban/residential fights along the Euphrates, and in wholesale amounts during Fallujah 2.0. I cannot remember the title, but a group of infantrymen from 3d Bn 5th Marines wrote an excellent AAR of their fight, and it was eye-opening.
    The Benning link is broken, but there is an open source version of the article here:

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/A+case...x.-a0160714362

    Great SWJ thread here:

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...4002#post54002

    And my comment:
    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...2&postcount=47

    Bottom line - no reason a unit should do it unless all other options are expended. Excessive training focus on it makes it a first, rather than last, tactical choice.
    Last edited by Cavguy; 08-09-2012 at 12:09 AM.
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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I'll add that in the Afghan context, there is definitely no need to send a man through a door, knowing that hostiles are confirmed to be inside, unless one is doing DA in-extremis hostage rescue, or hard target takedowns and the intel to be gained has a short shelf-life. The units that need to do it, do it well. Everyone else should just use a rocket or a tank.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    The Marine Corps learned the flaws of our TTPs in the urban/residential fights along the Euphrates, and in wholesale amounts during Fallujah 2.0. I cannot remember the title, but a group of infantrymen from 3d Bn 5th Marines wrote an excellent AAR of their fight, and it was eye-opening.
    The title is:Lessons Learned: Infantry Squad Tactics in Military Operations in Urban Terrain During Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq.

    I have it in PDF if you want me to send it to you.

    One of their conclusions is you if you know somebody bad is actually in the building, you bring it down around their ears with tanks or artillery as you said. The Russians learned the same thing long ago. Each of their city fighting battle groups preferably had a great big direct fire weapon attached.

    American cops basically do the same thing. If you know there will be a fight if you go in, you don't. You gas 'em out or wait them out, active shooters excepted. Same thing with cell extractions in prisons. You don't. You gas 'em out.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    I'll add that in the Afghan context, there is definitely no need to send a man through a door, knowing that hostiles are confirmed to be inside, unless one is doing DA in-extremis hostage rescue, or hard target takedowns and the intel to be gained has a short shelf-life. The units that need to do it, do it well. Everyone else should just use a rocket or a tank.
    I wonder how this works out well if the defenders in the village have connecting tunnels between the houses as they did in Chechnya.

    snipe from building
    run to tunnel, crouch through it
    boom - house gone
    rinse, repeat till whole village is down - all for one man with a bolt action rifle?


    Other problem; assault on village. First line of houses is unoccupied save for some spotters, textbook-style. Assault on village. How to blow up 2nd line of houses without closing in with tanks within suicidal 50 m (think: capable opponents, European two-floor houses with inverted vee roof)?


    I'm no friend of maxims.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    By Afghan context, referring to the use of a rocket or tank was hyperbole. We shouldn't actually level a house for a guy with a bolt action rifle. You just encircle the structure and wait him out.

    If, over time as you operate in the battlespace, you realize there are tunnels involved, you change to address that element.

    Now, if there are defenders (emphasis on plural), then tactics adjust as well, but I get where you're going with what you're saying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Like John Keegan, I've never been in a battle; nor have I been close to a battle. So, to those who have, is this ATTP bullroar - or am I missing something ?
    Mike, at least you are asking the question... many powerful people - for that read congressmen and senators - have not either yet that does not stop them making far reaching decisions which have a major implication for soldiers on the battle field.

    First thing that comes to mind is the 1978 US decision to unilaterally take flamethrowers out of their weapons arsenal. I can see the fire risk in areas where building are built with wood but in caves, bunkers and buildings they may well be just the trick. (Not at all concerned about the "horrific" death they deliver as I would be more concerned about reducing own force casualties and noted that under demolitions three improvised incendiary devices are listed in the document.)

    The comment that soldiers adapt is correct but one needs to bear in mind that this experience is purchased through the blood of soldiers.
    Last edited by JMA; 08-10-2012 at 06:52 AM.

  20. #20

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    So, the So What?

    Re: "CQB" "black art tactics" (sarcasm), neither the police nor the military do, would, or should, use them when there are actual armed and ready bad guys inside a structure.

    So: I am getting a consensus that CQB room entry and clearing drills are best utilized simply to confirm that a room(s) is/are clear, with the potential for bad guys in there but not really considered high threat. Unless as pointed out you are Tier 1 DA and have no choice, but are super high speed anyway.

    So: infantry need to be trained for high intensity MOUT/OBUA "just in case" or indeed as we always say, in order to train for the worst case: "train hard fight easy". But in reality we will seek alternative means within the rules of engagement to destroy or neutralize enemy combatants prior to "clearing" those structures. We want to avoid dynamic building and room entry in high intensity conflict where the bad guys are alive and tip top inside there, if we can. And if we do go in, and we dont have a tank gun or thermobaric weapon in direct support, we would rather go in through the roof or a mousehole or some such alternative to the front door.

    Interestingly, when buildings are damaged and we include tunnels, rat runs etc, then we can't really do the urban specific "CQB" SME room entry drills, because rooms/buildings have been rearranged by fire. So, then it becomes close combat or "non-SME taught" CQB which comes full circle back to my original point: if urban room clearing type CQB is the totality of all CQB, or whether other close combat is CQB also, with urban CQB being simply a specific sub-set.

    We also need to think seriously about getting back to a point where we train infantry to do the real high intensity breach and room/building clearance drills, rather than the current norm "SWAT type", as laid out in publications such as the small unit tactics smart book (US). I recall that BritMil had a battalion in Berlin during the cold war the exclusively trained in FIBUA high intensity tactics.

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