The first time I sat through a two-week Combat Hunter Course I was pissed.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought the material in the classes was incredible, but I couldn’t stop asking myself why hadn’t I been through the course before my deployments? In 2010, something along the lines of 60-70% of all American killed and wounded in Afghanistan was the result of IEDs. We are hearing from Marines returning from overseas, and in overwhelming numbers, about how those skills kept them alive – how it helped them find IEDs before they were detonated, or how it helped them find the people who put the IED in the ground. But still today, not every Marine gets taught how to do this. As I sat through that first course, I realized that this is absolutely unacceptable.
If this material was brand new, I might be able to accept that. But it isn’t. In fact this type of training has been available for a long time. The problem was, being in an infantry battalion, I didn’t have the clearance necessary to go through those schools. To steal a line from another Marine – I had a high enough clearance to step on an IED, but not a high enough clearance to learn how to uncover the people who put it there.
With the foresight of some people like General Mattis, David Scott Donelan, Ivan Carter and Greg Williams, the Marine Corps made huge strides in correcting this problem and developed the Combat Hunter Program. By teaching at an unclassified level so that it is possible for every Marine to get this training before they deploy. Their actions have undoubtedly saved a great number of lives. They also ensured that the class was designed to improve a Marine’s ability to apply the concepts taught immediately. This wasn’t a class on “Combat Hunter Theory,” this was a class designed to make you better and make you better right away. That is a concept that resonated with me and I realized that it was those values and that purpose that contributed to the overwhelming success of the program.
Fast forward a couple of years to last week where I was sitting down with an author for a future post and I was explaining to him how I choose content for this site. By talking about my approach and the rational for some of my edits on his post, I realized that I was talking about many of the concepts used in the creation of Combat Hunter and had become extremely passionate about my approach to choosing content for this site. Because of that, I wanted to pass on to you how I choose articles to write about and determine what makes the cut.
1. Is the information unclassified?
Everything you find on the site is from open source research. There is a great deal more information out there that relates to the skills we teach here that is not included in our posts. This is because there is a lot of training, especially in the intelligence or military communities, provided to only those people with high-level clearances. The reality however is that most Marines, soldiers, and police officers aren’t in positions to get that clearance and therefore never get the training. That is ridiculous. If you are “special” enough to get killed by your enemy, you are “special” enough to get taught how to stop him.
Yesterday, I visited the 9/11 memorial for the first time since it was opened last fall and while reading signs that stated the fact that the world changed on September 11th, I realized that applies to how we are training our military as well. Perhaps in the days of the Cold War, or wars where both militaries were wearing uniforms we could get away with only training our spies, agents, and interrogators how to observe and analyze non-verbal behavior. But not anymore. In a war where every person you meet could be trying to kill you and where every corner you turn may have an IED in the road, you can’t keep this skill to only those very few people. Everyone needs this. If the actions of a Marine on the ground can have strategic level effects, than that Marine needs to be trained with strategic and national level resources. You can’t hold him to that standard without providing him that level of training.
So by not incorporating all of the information possibly available on the subjects (such as reading facial expressions), and not relying solely on government-funded research, we keep it from becoming classified. This keeps it from being available to only a select few. If you have the ability to go through a course that goes beyond what we teach here, I’d definitely recommend you get it. It is unlikely to be a waste of your time.
But that puts you into the Fortune 50 of the government community. This site though is designed for the Fortune 5 Million. It is for the boots on the deck who may not have the opportunity to attend that level of training.
That is important to me because if we teach or write about a topic, and you spend the time to read the post or practice on our videos, you should be able to actually use the information. If the content is classified and you aren’t allowed to use that knowledge in a court (either military or civilian) to explain and justify your actions, what good is it?
Some researchers I have talked to about this concept love it — others think I’m crazy and ask me what happens if it gets into the wrong hands? Because everything here is open source, the enemy could already be reading it, so why not ensure our American military and police are benefiting from it. There is a great deal about how we operate that puts us at a disadvantage, having a lack of knowledge or lack of access to information should not be one of them. With the expansiveness and high quality of what exists in open source publications, we can educate that Fortune 5 Million and not cross that line.
To me, this is non-negotiable.
2. Is the post geared towards improving the reader’s ability to assess others?
Priority #1 is to make the reader more survivable on patrol by becoming capable of picking people out of the crowd. If you want articles only talking about theoretical concepts and with only minimal applicability, I recommend you subscribe to the Journal of Non-Verbal Behavior. You will find plenty of that there. I am not knocking the publication, in fact I subscribe to it, but it is through applying the conclusions that the researchers have come to that makes it tangible for the audience on this site. If I bring up research in a post it is so you can see where I pulled this information from, but I always attempt to tie that into how it supports behavioral analysis.
The posts, the videos, and the pictures we choose to put up are selected to build the file folders people need in order to understand and apply the concepts of human behavioral analysis. When the site was first launched, we had to write enough posts that explained Tactical Analysis so that as you watch a video, you can read posts afterwards that explain the concepts. This guided a great deal of the writing up to this point, but the focus of this site will be on building a library of videos that train you to be capable of finding an enemy hiding in plain clothes.
3. If the post is not written to provide the reader a tangible use of the The CP Journal material, does it instead provide background information for the material taught that allows a reader learn more about where the content comes from?
Behavioral analysis requires thought. It isn’t a passive act. By actively assessing and analyzing your surroundings and thinking about what the causes may be for your observations, you have already shown you have the inherent curiosity to delve deeper into what you think you know.
If I just described you, you probably aren’t content simply letting me tell you what to look for and won’t just accept this information at face value without understanding why it is important. If a post isn’t designed to explicitly apply the concepts we teach, we then want to let you know where we pulled the information so you can do research on your own. By showing you the underlying principles for our conclusions, you can go out and learn more and don’t have to rely solely on this site. Because becoming a better observer of those around you requires a conscious act and dedicated development, we want to help by opening the door for you and consolidating resources to simplify and assist in your pursuit.
4. If the post isn’t written specifically about observation, does it provide the reader with other information that makes them smarter and more effective in what they do?
Behavioral analysis isn’t the “perfect solution,” to curing all of the problems that the military and police face in their jobs. In fact it is far from it. No singularly focused approach will ever be that, so instead of ignoring that fact, we embrace it. Being a professional in any field requires that you be well rounded. That is what allows us to be adaptive in constantly changing environments and it is what lets us develop creative solutions when the situation has changed. So you will occasionally see posts up here that may not tie directly to observation. We come across a great deal of research that has enormous applicability to our lives that we think should be passed on.
For example, science has found extremely strong ties between physical fitness, learning, and creativity. Since being in the military or in combat requires all of those things, we don’t want to keep that information and those findings to ourselves. We aren’t the experts in that field, so we will pass you on to those who are, in the case of physical training; we have found that CrossFit embraces many of those methodologies.
Or, as we find information about the human brain, and while it is complex and can sometimes make for a daunting post, it is the one thing that unifies every human being in the world. Understanding this common feature can help you in many aspects of life that you encounter daily. It provides the “why” behind everything that we do, either consciously or unconsciously, so there are some posts about that.
Tying directly to Combat Hunter – I believe that the Combat Tracking information has likely saved more lives than Combat Profiling in Afghanistan and Iraq. With the primary weapon that insurgents are using being the IED, being able to identify subtle changes on the ground is crucial. If we find something like this or a resource that we think is beneficial to you we will pass it on, we aren’t going to keep any secrets (assuming it is unclassified).
To outsmart an enemy, you have to be well rounded and have to find creative and intelligent solutions to the problems you encounter.
Back to the present day:
I feel pretty strongly about this. I whole-heartedly believe that Tactical Analysis can help save the lives of our nation’s military and law enforcement officers, but think it is negligent that not more people are taught these skills. Because I didn’t think there was enough information available on predictive profiling and how it ties into recognizing threats is the reason why I started this site. While I was an instructor in the Combat Hunter program while still on active duty, I had to go out and search all over the place for this information. I had to read either pieces of or entire books from over 25 different books just to cover the entirety of the Combat Profiling curriculum. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Now it is one spot, for you right here.
If you feel the same way, don’t keep it to yourself, but pass this site on. Let your buddies, coworkers, and the person standing on your left or right have access to the same information. That is what we are really are fighting against, the difficulty in getting high quality, relevant, and practical information down to the people who need it.
Because this site is for you, the reader, if there is anything else you want to see here that will help you, let me know.
Thanks for what you do.