AAR TEES Mechanical and Ballistic Breacher Instructor Course
June 02 – 06 2014
I attended the TEES (Tactical Energetic Entry Systems) Mechanical and Ballistic Breacher Instructor course from June 2 through June 6th, in Byhalia, Mississippi.
The course was described, as the title suggests, as an instructor level course for skills like shotgun breaching, as well as breaching using hand tools like Halligans, sledge hammers, and rams. The first three days were skill development with these tools, as well as developing skills that instructors need and lesson plans.
The fourth day was hands on instructing for officers/deputies from various local agencies in basic techniques with these tools.
This class was populated by seven law enforcement officers and one instructor. Agencies represented were PD’s/SO’s from Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Maine, and the federal government out of Maryland. All the students were relatively switched on and were members of tactical teams of some sort at their home agencies.
The weather was…. hot as FUCK…. for me. The southern contingent from the class were constantly shitting on (flirting with?) me with regards to the heat. Although super hot and humid for my northern complexion, it didn’t detract from the training since frequent water breaks in the air conditioned classroom were provided.
Day 1 – An overview of the mechanical and ballistic breaching tools of the trade. It became apparent that TEES was well provisioned to provide this kind of training for classes from seven to seventeen persons. They have plenty of tools for students to use, of all types. We quickly moved into gear setup, which was an awesome component to this class. I was already running a “PVC pipe” setup to hold either a Halligan or sledgehammer, but I learned some new techniques that seemed REALLY simple stupid, like looping the tool’s lanyard under the arm to prevent it from falling out if the user bends over. Also seemingly dumb but something I missed was if the pipe is longer and holes drilled through it, it’s much easier to mount than the way I had it, which was just with zip ties through the length of it. I don’t know if that makes sense, but the TEES way was much more secure.
The longer pipe helps with stowing the tool, and keeping it from flopping around. The instructor pointed out that if you can turn your head and see the top of the pipe, it’s much easier to restow the tool than if you’re fishing around for it or asking a buddy to stow it for you all the time. Simple shit, but my pea-brain hadn’t figured it out due to a lack of institutional and personal knowledge.
We did both dry and hot runs with the shotgun, as well as a full class on just the shotgun using TEES’s shotgun training stands, which are detailed elsewhere on this forum. They were incredibly fast to reset and allowed up to four shots before needing any sort of manipulation. The stands are also really portable, and would be a good training tool to simulate a shotgun breach when training somewhere that doesn’t want you to blow the doors apart.
Day 2 – We worked runs through TEES’s breach house. This house is pretty damn badass for it’s purpose, which is maximizing door breaches and not focusing so heavily on tactics. The house can be reconfigured both by pretty ingenious flaps on hinges that create or remove walls, as well as the number and type of doors to be breached. We basically did runs through the breach house for most of the day.
Around lunch we got to demo and test out the Broco torch system, Quickie saws, and chainsaws. That stuff was pretty eye opening for me and served as a really good intro into the capabilities of those systems. There was plenty of rebar, chain link, and doors to test the saws and torch on.
At the end of Day 2 we started to form the beginnings of lesson plans and whatnot.
Day 3 – We started off building a shotgun training stand of our own using TEES’s blueprints, which they provided to us to take. We then did a few more runs through the breach house, both as breachers and as safety officers in an instructor role. Debriefs were conducted after each run, and it was a great learning experience for how to manipulate the tools and cover officers.
Day 4 – We showed up at the classroom early and did last minute preparations for the “teaching” day. There was a shotgun, ram, and pry station that the students were going to rotate through. Pairs of us “instructors” were going to teach each station, and rotate opposite the students to get exposed to different students and teaching the different topics. This was probably the only weak part of the course, since we did not have very many “students” show up for this free training. That meant the instructors did not rotate, as the students were in one large group. This isn’t really the fault of TEES, since I’m sure it’s not easy to source students from nearby after a while. Regardless, it was good practice teaching and having to explain the various concepts we learned throughout the week.
This day is pretty important in my opinion, since it brought full circle the walk-crawl-run-teach system. Teaching reinforces stuff in my brain that learning about it simply never will. Every time I “teach” a topic or class, I walk away feeling even more experienced and confident in the subject matter.
The “students” did a bunch of runs through the breach house, utilizing the three skillsets we had taught them. I took on the job of resetting the house after each run, mostly because it prevented me from having to wear my STUPID large vest in the heat. When we wrapped up, the students got certificates for a basic one day course.
The “instructors” debriefed in the classroom, and we did course critiques. From the sounds of things, TEES takes those forms pretty seriously. We got our certificates and the class ended.
Bottom Line: If you need training that carries the “instructor” label, and you don’t have explosives capabilities at your agency, this is a great class to attend. You can get the instructor certification and get a professional background in mechanical and ballistic breaching to go along with it, which will carry various levels of weight depending on where you’re at. I would recommend this course to agencies that don’t have any actual instructors for these methods of breaching. If you already have reasonably competent breachers or they’ve taken courses elsewhere, you probably won’t learn much new practices in this course.
I would be completely remiss to not mention HOW I was even able to make it to this course. I won’t blow him up by naming names, but those in the Mil/SWAT room can probably figure it out. I would NOT have been able to attend this course if it wasn’t for the generosity of a fellow Lightfighter, who invited a strange dirty Mainer to stay with him, free of charge. My agency was balking at the cost of flight, checked bags, rental car, hotel, food, course tuition, and my overtime. This LF’r came out of nowhere and said I could stay with him if I could make it down to MS. He and his family are AWESOME people and I feel really humbled and appreciative that he gave me a place to stay for the week.
Included in that was seeing some of the stuff he and his team do, and the facilities and equipment available to them. If I was a shithead in the Memphis or northern Mississippi area, I don’t think I’d fuck around all that often based on the quality of the cops in that county. ( I met their Sheriff too, and he politely didn’t call me lilly-white or yankee).