In the military training always has to be “basic.” What does basic mean? Well, that's highly debatable. Some people consider the basics to be the fundamentals of marksmanship that every soldier learns in their initial entry training. Others think complex multi-phase unconventional warfare campaigns are basic.

All training has to be basic, and we are always wanting and trying to “get back to the basics” whatever that means. I always hated this notion. It dumbs down training to the lowest common denominator, it sets the bar low, and expects the very least from soldiers. The idea that everything has to be basic is a misnomer, it's a social construct that once removed will make people wonder why it was ever there to begin with.

Here is the secret to complicated and advanced training: don't tell students that it is advanced.

By walking students through seemingly complicated maneuvers in a step by step fashion and gauging their confidence level and skill, people are perfectly capable of learning so-called advanced techniques.

Of course there are limits. I once took a group of students who had little training in infantry tactics to doing live fire squad attack drills over the course of a day, but the group had worked together before and had already become proficient with their weapons handling skills.

In our initial CIV_GRP class, we only used airsoft pistols but was still impressed with how well the students were able to shoot, move, and communicate during the final training exercise. Furthermore, watching them grasp the basics of espionage tradecraft and apply it in a real world setting was super impressive.

So much for keeping it basic.

- J -