According to the dictionary, the term "Hostile" is described as:
"...showing or feeling opposition or dislike; unfriendly..."
In the same dictionary, the term "Environment" is described as;
"...the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal or plant, lives or operates..."
"...the setting or conditions in which a particular activity is conducted..."
I've deliberately highlighted the word "conditions" as the premise for this short article, in an attempt to argue my point that, for the delivery of realistic training, we need to redefine what is meant by a "Hostile Environment".
In order for everyone to digest this article in an objective way, we all have to agree on one thing; threat and risk evolve and therefore, operating procedures must evolve, which means that training, to, must evolve. Agreed?
It's a demand and supply cyclic relationship...the Threat "demands" the "supply" of progressive and new-thinking "solutions" and those solutions demand that training must also supply this new demand in order to train-in those new-thinking solutions.
Currently, Hostile Environment Training is just...well...flat, samey-samey, uninspiring and dare I say it, unrealistic? Issue some body armour, plonk on some helmets, fire off some AIRSOFT pellets at each other, chuck some Pyro around for effect and, hey presto...you've got yourself a Hostile Environment Course.
The question we should all be asking is, is that good enough?
This is where the Training Industry has become a little lazy, unimaginative, off the mark and way out of touch with what constitutes a Hostile Environment. Additionally, there are so many terms for Hostile Environment courses that even I get confused:
To narrow it down, let's look at PSD/PMC Operators training ok?
Most of these courses primarily focus on the more "military" aspect of working in a Hostile Environment. Most of the Instructors have a one dimensional thought process and either cannot or will not, accept the fact that a Hostile Environment is every town, city or country where you are working under "conditions" that may be "unfriendly"; that could, arguably, be Sao Paulo, Moscow or London.
PSD/PMC Operators Course participants are generally dressed in clothing that they would never wear on deployment. Most of the gear, gadgets and equipment that course participants are using, won't be required on deployment and most of the tactics taught are better suited to Military operations than PSD operations; it's almost as if both the course providers AND the course participants are training as if they are still in the Military; there is little, if any, reality based training.
As far as we (Go Noisy) are concerned, it is NOT just the "location" of where you are operating, that makes it "Hostile", it is the "nature" of your role, in that location and the consequences for you, your team and/or your Client (if you have one), if under fire or caught, that makes it "Hostile".
Operating in a Hostile Environment is bigger and broader than Iraq or Afghanistan and we need to change the idea that working in a Hostile Environment is the sole claimant of the PSD Industry and that the term "Hostile Environment" can only be used in a CP/PSD context; that is simply not accurate.
There are many other "role specific" Teams who operate in environments and under conditions that, to the everyday viewer, would not be deemed as a "Hostile Environment". Surveillance Operators, Intelligence Operators, undercover Soldiers, undercover Law Enforcement Officers, Government Covert Agencies and their Support Teams, all operate under those conditions.
A couple of years ago, I had a Bulgarian Police Officer on one of our courses and, in his 15 years as an "armed" Police Officer in Bulgaria, had been shot, stabbed (twice), set on fire and run over by a vehicle driven by Mutra (Mafia) gangsters. He had MORE experience of working in a Hostile Environment than most guys who have been working in Iraq or Afghanistan for years. Ironically, this same Police Officer was deemed to not have the suitable Hostile Environment experience that would qualify him for employment in........wait for it......a Hostile Environment - it makes no sense. His 15 years of experience of working under "unfriendly conditions" i.e. a Hostile Environment, where his life was in actual danger, make him MORE qualified, not LESS, than most Military personnel who have served 5 years in the Devon & Dorsets. (Disclaimer - no offence meant to the Devon & Dorsets Regiment; it was the first Unit that came into my head...they use to have a great Football Team to).
This is the disparity in what the Security Industry perceives as a Hostile Environment.
No longer can it simply be about Baghdad, Kabul, Tripoli or Mogadishu, running around in hi-profile B6 Armoured's, in body armour, 5.11's, Oakley gloves and Gargoyle wrap-arounds.
Operating in Caracas or Juarez, Belgrade or Los Angeles, running around in covert or low-profile, soft skin vehicles, in jeans and a t-shirt, can be as equally, if not more "Hostile".
However, the main difference between these examples, is that the first four generally conjure up images of hi-profile teams, driving in some sort of CP formation (I know all CP Teams do not operate that way...before anyone shouts at me), whereas the last four, conjure up images of something a little more discrete, low-profile or covert.
And it is THAT "nature" of your "role" that changes your operating procedures, which has a knock-on effect on what type of training you should be conducting; a "one-size-fits-all" Hostile Environment course, approach just doesn't cut it.
In any Hostile Environment, how you deal with "non-aggressive" incidents is completely different in a covert role than it would be in an overt role. How you do deal with an "aggressive" incident is completely different in both roles and how you deal with a "contact" situation is completely different in both roles and training has got to reflect that, otherwise everyone is wasting their time and you're wasting your money on a course that is too one dimensional.
"...we know this...!!!" I hear you all shout.
So why do we constantly see the same stuff being rolled out by training providers? It didn't use to be like that. Pre-SIA days and before the Tsunami of CP Training Providers popping up, delivering all manner of HEAT's, HET's and HEPCO's, Hostile Environment courses were, generally, delivered by experienced people who knew what they were talking about and who had operated in a variety of different hostile environments in a variety of different roles; I'm not sure that can be said of all of today's Hostile Environment courses, who seem to be more focused on how sexy the course looks and how their prices are cheaper than their competitors.
Whilst we're on the topic of course "pricing".
I make no apologies that our (Go Noisy) course prices are on the high end. I'm pretty ok with that, simply because of the content of those courses and the facility we use, especially our Hostile Environment Operators Course, which is jam-packed with realistic and relevant content (combative's training in a purpose built Dojo, TCCC training (in a Live Firing setting), Arabic, Dari, Pashtu speaking role players, unlimited ammunition, 2 - 6 man Team Live, foot and vehicle Contact Drills, Surveillance Exercises, Hostile Scenario Training in a Little Mogadishu Village) as well as three meals a day, accommodation and airport transfers and is held in THE best Training Facility in Europe.
We COULD run sub-standard Courses for about a third of the current price but that would go against everything we, as a company, stand for; realistic training comes at a price and if we want to use the best facility in Europe, then that to, comes at a price, for us.
Anyway, I digress.
We (Go Noisy) are, once more, now moving away from what everyone else is teaching, as it's becoming stale. We will continue to focus on realistic and functional training that provides suitable "response options" but it will not be in a Military-style context. So, if you do ever come on our Hostile Environment Operators course, then expect to be in jeans, nikes and an old shirt and working from a IWB or OWB holstered, platform.
Leave your drop-leg, thigh holsters, SF Helmets and NVG's at home please...
If you have any specific questions about the courses we deliver, then please do not hesitate to contact us directly on any of the e-mails addresses below. All "Go Noisy" merchandise enquiries should be directed to Tsarina.
Go Noisy Specialised Tactical Training Solutions Ltd.
4 Redheughs Rigg
UK Registered Ltd Company Number: 614167