“Our recent combat experience is not necessarily analogous to what we are going to have to do in the future.”

– Maj. Gen. John Nicholson
Commander, 82nd Airborne

Battle Plan (n) – a list of things that aren’t going to happen if you are attacked.

“No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength”

“Strategy is a system of expedients.”

– Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke

Moltke’s notable statement that, “No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy” is a classic reflection of Clausewitz’s insistence on the roles of chance, friction, “fog”, uncertainty, and interactivity in war.

“No plan survives first contact intact.”

Are we seeing a theme yet? Strategy and tactics are fluid, ever changing. Even if you’re employing the “best” tactics, things will change.

Fundamental skills and capabilities, however, always apply. A given stratagem will never work unless you have the developed skill and capability needed to pull it off. Because this always applies it should remain a priority.

The training needed to improve fundamentals improves self control under duress and that further reduces the chances of failure. It also trains the mental processes and reaction time that improves your ability to think and react under stress. Plus, it makes skillful application of fundamentals a more subconscious reflex, allowing more brain power to pay attention to and adapt to an ever-changing environment.

Of course, low level shooters continue to bleat that tactics beat marksmanship. Which tactics?

In a discussion with Jason Falla (Redback One) I pointed out that his Combat Fitness Assessment – Sprint course is just a modified, reduced version of Run Down matches shot in military shooting compeition at shorter distances. He scoffed that competitions don’t require ambidextrous shooting as needed in the real world to properly use cover, but his course does, thus making it more tactical.

When I pointed him to links showing AASAM and AFSAM match programs detailing courses of fire requiring ambidextrous shooting and testing the same thing, he ignorantly scoffed again and bleated out, much to the enjoyment of his sycophants, that I was just a competition shooter and therefore don’t know anything about tactics.

While attending a course hosted by Paul Howe at his CSAT school, Mr. Howe expressed his displeasure with competiton shooting. When I asked for an example, he replied that competition shooters have too much emphasis on ambidextrous shooting than is needed real world. The Howe/CSAT tactical approach to using cover is to always shoot strong shoulder, move aggressively from cover, own the area and “service” threats as needed.

Falla and Howe both teach tactics and shooting in tactical situations. They can’t agree on a simple tactical approach on how an individual is best able to shoot around and use cover. I can only imagine how much they diverge on team tactics.

A fellow instructor that teaches at a local law enforcement academy tells his students that, “The tactical approach that let me survive my first gun fight would have gotten me killed in the second.” His point is that tactics are basically applied common sense and that the “best” tactic in one situation might be a poor choice in another.

I don’t put much faith in anyone claiming to have the best/ideal approach to tactical shooting. Those that do can’t even agree among themselves what and how “proper” tactical training is or how it should be conducted.

You won’t magically become skillful while fighting baddies, terrorists, goblins, ninjas, pirates or zombies, regardless of the lies your favorite instructor has soothed your ego with. For a skillful marksman and gun handler, appropriate defensive movements/positions/stances (whatever you deem them to be…) can be quickly learned. The target and timer is telling you the truth, if you’re willing to listen.

Fundamental skills always apply. Marksmanship and good gun handling is an example.