Redback One High Risk Vehicle Tactics. Primary instructor: Jason Falla
This 3 day class was held in Casa Grande, AZ at the local PD Range, the range facilities were pretty minimal but it worked out pretty good. This class is billed as a “Tactics” class not a “weapon handling” class, even still the load out called for 1000 rounds rifle / 150 pistol so I knew there was going to be some shooting going on. This was not an open enrollment class and was restricted to LE & Military, we had 13 students and Jason had another instructor with him. To say their resumes were impressive is an understatement...Jason is former Australian SAS and his co-instructor Chris retired from DEVGRU after 25 years being active. We had 6 impounded vehicles in various condition to use for the class and we pretty much destroyed them by the end of TD3.
The tactics that were presented and worked were very advanced, this was my first foray into this type of class, all my previous firearm classes were shooting based. There were a couple drills where under lesser supervision I would have felt uncomfortable running them but these guys were absolute hawks and I felt that I was in good hands. Jason asked us not to pass any of the TTPs presented to anyone outside our Agencies so this AAR will be more a review of the program and experience I had in the class.
Gear used: I brought 2 rifles just in case of a failure (I didn’t have one but a couple guns had issues in the class), I used my 14.5” BCM ELW KMR w SF Warcomp & SF Fury on TD1 and my 11.5” that is set up the same way for TD2&3. I ran Wolf 55gr Poly steel case for the whole class, my rifles eat this stuff up and we didn’t have any shooting over 35 yards. I brought a case of brass case ammo as well just in case. My secondary was my primary training H&K VP9 w X300U & TF mag well w TF extensions and used my own reloads (VV N320 under 147gr Xtreme RN). Due to most shooting being done in 2 man teams on steel from within and around car’s body armor was required, I used my First Spear Strandhögg loaded with Velocity PBZ plates and their backers (I use an older version of this carrier at work and the new style cumberbund is much nicer). 1st line was a Volund Micro battlebelt w Esstac KYWI pouches and a Safariland ALS holster (set up identical to my work Batbelt but in awsomeflauge). I had no issues with any of my kit which made learning easier as I didn’t have to fight anything.
TD1: Introductions were made, a class schedule was gone over and briefings were done on safety, medical & legal matters. Our 1st lesson was a ballistic test shoot on vehicles. There were a verity of weapons & calibers used (5.56 NATO & Comm, .40, 12ga 00 buck & slug, 7.62 NATO and Comm). Lesson learned...cars are shitty cover with a couple noteable exceptions (engine block & wheel wells), auto glass can make bullets do weird things & if you need to make a low probability shot quickly...it can be iffy. We were shown a couple techniques of gaining access to the interior of vehicles using out primary weapons...SF Warcomps work very good as an improvised glass breaking tool. Later that day we worked on shooting positions and ran some 2 man shooting drills. Shooting from inside a vehicle sucks, it’s loud and like I said before, Glass makes bullets do weird things. Lesson learned: if you need to shoot or are engaged while in a vehicle and can’t clear the area don’t stay in the vehicle for long, get out ASAP and improve your position. WX became an issue for us (and me especially on TD1), it was unseasonably hot, 95F, light breeze with no available shade on the range. In full kit from 0700-1730 made hydration a challenge and fatigue set in on most of us by the end of the day.
TD2: 95F again but no breeze (0800-1730) . I prepped my hydration and snacks better and it made a huge difference by the end of the day. I was still smoked by the end of the day but kept focused much better (good thing because TD2 was much more intense). The drills built on each other from TD1 and kept getting more involved. Jason really puts in a lot of work to make sure everything builds on prior lessons and his instruction is clear, concise and easy to follow. Subjects covered were one & two man teams being ambushed in vehicles, man down drills and setting up a basic assault after being ambushed. The man down drill was...very challenging, It was done as a live fire drill (after dry runs). During this section there was a basic TCCC brief and TQ refresher. Gear was put to the test for sure. Lessons learned: kydex doesn’t fair well to being drug across a rocky range underneath a guy weighing the better part of 300 Lbs fully kitted up. Also, sling management inside of vehicles is tough, Jason showed us how he uses rubber bands to stow his sling and it seemed like it is the way to go (his technique is much like what BCM stock / rubber band technique is like). Climbing out of a small car in full kit with a loaded rifle and a partner was not something I’d want to do with just anybody as a RSO but between Jason and Chris the safety factor was handled.
TD3: WX was up to 98F and still no breeze, it was pretty brutal and we were all feeling pretty beat up at this point from smashing in and out of small cars and dragging each other around on day 2. Day 3 was more of the same and the instruction, TTPs and drills continued to build upon what we had been doing the prior days. He took us from, being ambushed in a car and getting out to first available cover to being able to form back up and conduct a counter assault. On both TD2 & 3 we had multiple rifles go down, as far as I remember it was all ammo related (both training and duty rounds). If you are running Winchester take a close look at the crimps...lots of bullets were being set back during the loading phase. At the end of TD3 (0800-1800) we conducted a debriefing and shared lessons learned.
Final thoughts: I was very impressed with RB1, the instruction was top notch. Jason made sure he taught to his students (everyone was LE except for 1 who was a DOD embassy security contractor), as a lot of the TTPs he presented were from the .Mil side he made sure he understood beforehand what our UoF policies were and made sure everything was relevant and appropriate for us. I’ve read AARs of other instructors where this has been an issue, not the case here. This class was demanding both physically and mentally, if you fucked up, you had to pay up. Burpees in full kit suck when it’s close to 100F and not a cloud in sight but it sure drove the point home.
On the gear side there was a mix of personally owned and issued weapons. Every rifle in the class had a red dot on it, mainly Aimpoints but a couple Eotechs and a couple Trijicon MROs. The only issue was with one of the new Aimpoint M5’s, the brightness knob had become loose and occasionally when bumped it shut the dot off, sample of 1 but... Makeing sure your gear was set up correctly was huge, especially when working in vehicles, stuff snags... On the pistol side there was your usual mix of Glocks, M&Ps & a higher than average representation of H&Ks due to the amount of USBP Agents in the class. I may be wrong but the only pistol I saw have a malfunction was a Glock but I could be wrong and there wasn’t much pistol shooting being done.
All my guns ran great, 11.5” rifles excel in and around cars. I had a couple of gear issues: a single pistol magazine that I left in my dump pouch and got filled with small rocks after being drug 20 feet or so under my full weight, I unloaded it cleared the rocks and it worked fine afterwards. The other one was a similar situation but with my Safariland ALS holster, it got jammed with a bunch of small rocks and dirt after rolling around on it during drills from alternate shooting positions. It locked up completely and took some serious yanking on to get my pistol out, I noticed that I had the tension set very tight on it and that may have played a big part in the issue. I use the same holster at work and have had it filled with debris with no issues. I properly set the tension on it and didn’t have any problems with it the rest of the class even with all the dragging and rolling around in the dirt.
Personally my best piece of gear in the class was my Arc’teryx knee caps, thoes things are money. No shifting and weren’t uncomfortable at all (I don’t know why I waited until after lunch on TD1 to break them out...wearing them from the jump would have saved me a banged up knee from a slip and fall onto a bunch of small rocks).
I was very impressed with Redback One and would not hesitate to train with them again. I hear they may be back to Casa Grande in the beginning of 2018 for a weapons handling class and I will make every effort to make it.
In case you need any further info about them...
636 Prosperity Way
Chesapeake, VA 23320
Phone: (757) 819-6878