Op-Ed

Special Operations Turned Instructors – Not So Special?

Today’s op-ed brought to you in it’s entirety by Strategic Armory Corps.

Abner Miranda (you may’ve read his material on SWAT, Tactical Life, and other places) recently posted an op-ed on social media. In it he addressed what he sees as an unhealthy trend toward the marginalization of non-SOF instructors in the training/tactical industry. We’ve posted it below with just a couple of minor edits. Now, make no mistake – we’re confident he doesn’t mean to impugn anyone’s skill or service, and that’s an important distinction. Don’t let some unnecessary outrage filter the important and informative discussion we hope this op-ed engenders. Note: we’re pretty sure he means SOF, not SF, but we’ll clarify as soon as possible. As anyone knows, teaching and influencing people is a foundational part of their entire mission! Anyway, read on. Mad Duo

Grunts: engender

Lastly, remember, before your passions get inflamed: Jane is an ignorant slut

 Special Operations Turned Instructors – Not So Special?

Abner Miranda

With the recent “Former Special Forces” clownery going around that keeps breaking Facebook, I believe it’s prudent to post some truth. I was asked a question on Youtube about giving some specific examples of how the Special Forces fascination has caused problems. The following was my response. It’s not just one example, it’s all of it.

This whole industry is just taken with all things SF. I mean pick someone, it does’t matter who. Look, former SF guys are hard working dudes who are just trying to make ends meet just like anyone else. But the industry has sold all of us a damaged bill of goods and we’re just accepting it. The Former SF guys see the opportunity to make money from their service to our nation, and they’re doing what anyone would do – they’re taking it. It’s not a question of right and wrong, this is a question of relevance or irrelevance.

Just this evening I was talking with a friend who is also a former police officer. He was telling me that a gentleman that we both know who has been a SWAT medic and paramedic for over 30 years is having difficulty finding a solid toehold in our industry. However, a former Delta operator that only has two tours overseas can fill classes to the walls just because he holds the title of being an 18 Delta. Who would you rather learn from? A guy who’s had his hands in peoples guts every day for 30 years? Or a guy who spent a couple of tours overseas dealing with guys that come fully stocked with all of the med gear you would ever need – on their person.

I’d rather have the guy who has learned to make do with what he can get his hands on. Teaching is vastly different than showing or telling. Anyone can show you “stuff” and tell you war stories but few, precious few, can actually teach you something and make it stick. Many of the men I’ve been privileged to train with are superb instructors who know how to “make it stick.” I’ve learned vast amounts of knowledge and wisdom from them.

These are instructors that (comparatively) few people really know about because they’re not former SOF guys. They fly along under the radar doing some of the best work in our industry and not being recognized. This industry of ours is stunted and in-bred. The fan boy culture is killing the dissemination of wisdom, discernment, and patience. Be wary of whom you choose to pay attention to.

[Note: this is the video Miranda was referring to.]

You can subscribe to Miranda’s YouTube channel right here or follow him on Instagram, @AbnerMiranda1.

What does our readership think about all this? Is combat experience a prerequisite for quality instruction? Are some instructors with a SOF (Special Operations Forces) overrated? Are we going the wrong was a community?

Serious action figures want to kno.

Know who you have to thank today for the opportunity to debate and discuss this? SAC. That’s who.


Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!

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16 Comments

  1. I’ll have to echo a sentiment here.

    Yes, it’s very difficult to take someone seriously on a topic like this when just by looking at them I get the feeling that running 50 yards is really quite challenging for them. No offense intended but… well that OFG look just doesn’t make a good impression.

  2. I’m a 26 year LE officer with no military experience. That said, I want to begin with reminding this guy in the video, a little about the history of SWAT; an evolution in LE tactics spawned by Vietnam era veterans bringing their experience back and teaching it fellow LEO to deal with radical bad guy tactics.

    I have and do work with a lot of veterans including a couple of Army Rangers, Recon Marines and a bad ass Marine Security Forces guy. Most of them are a whole lot younger with less LE experience than I. Yet I have learned something from all of them.

    I have a SWAT school under my belt and lots of firearms training. I’m slated to attend a combat Pistol course in July, taught by one of the types of guys he’s talking about. And I’m chomping at the bit to go. I have 9 more years before I plan on retiring, I’m 48 years old and I have to train my ass off to stay sharp. I an ecstatic that these individuals are willing to come back stateside, and teach me the things which have kept them alive.

    I’m sorry, perhaps I rambled too much. Mainly because I can’t really believe I read what I read and heard what I heard.

  3. Normally my SOP is to STFU and listen. But this particular topic just tears at me.
    So…..

    1) As far as training goes, take what classes you can afford and can get to. Vet the instructor and their curriculum via AAR’s posted on any of the relevant (credible) forums. Then add what suits you to your tool box and put the rest in the pantry for now.

    2) It is true that just because a guy is a certified pipe-hitting door kicker from hell, he might not be the best at relating those skills to the realities of civilian life. Some people are better teachers than others. BUT… do not make the mistake of failing to recognize the skill set. Often times, some of the best learning is osmotic. Just watching someone who’s world class do their gig can be an education in itself.
    If a guy falls victim to his own ego, then he does that at great risk to his credibility. No matter how great you are…never believe your own press.

    3) As far as the original commentary…
    Wah…wah…wahh.
    I’ve read the author’s stuff on and off for several years and have never had a reaction more moving than being underwhelmed. I’ve never understood how anyone that makes a living purporting the paradigm of personal protection can in good conscience do so with a pear shaped physique. The gun is a tool. Obviously the most important one is the mind. Second is the body. If you do not subscribe to a full spectrum approach to the problem, you are seriously mistaken. Unless hampered by a legitimate disability (not just a fondness for buffets), mobility, strength, and physical speed are instrumental in filling the gaps between avoidance / de-escalation and lethal force.

    4) All the haters gonna hate but here’s the no shit truth. There are people out there that function at a level the normal human simply can’t fathom. The folks that inhabit the uppermost reaches of the DOD go through a selection and vetting process that culls all but the most resolved, determined, and intelligent applicants. Then they receive what is LITERALLY the very best training that money can buy. ALOT of it. And they prove their worth every single day they show up for work. Selection never stops.
    And most get tasked at some point to train other high level personnel and have received in-depth instruction on the fundamentals of learning and cognitive processing. So if you ever get a chance to be the recipient of their time and input, my advice is to sit down and listen. If your ego can’t handle that, then you’ve already lost.

    5) And last but not least…
    I’m gonna write this and it’s the absolute truth. If I knew I was about to suffer a GSW and could pick my first responder, it’d be one of the many special operations combat medics I’ve worked with over the years. SOCM at JSOMTC is probably the premier school of it’s kind in the world. And it is only the start of their learning progression. They get the best instruction, operate on the cutting edge of technology, and function under protocols developed by some of the best minds in emergency medicine in the world. Without first hand knowledge of who they are, how they work, and what their capabilities are, I suggest you refrain from comments borne of ignorance.

  4. Those who wish to learn can learn from any professional, resume be damned. I am a former Marine, Weapons Company, 2/5 (0341) no combat experience, with 27 years in law enforcement. I have been taught things by people I would have never believed had anything to teach me and attended classes taught by high speed low drag cool resume guys and only learned some really cool war stories. Both have value as long as the stories are true!

    Not everyone has experience in a combat zone and not all cops work in jurisdictions with full time SWAT teams. Although these types of experiences tend to lend credibility and “celebrity status” to the instructor, not everyone who has this experience is a good instructor and can successfully transfer concepts and skills.

    If I get the opportunity to go training I take it. I use what I can and shit-can the rest! I have never been to training where I haven’t learned something of value, even if the only thing of value was that I didn’t believe any of it and couldn’t use any of it, BIT (Bullshit Identification Training! It’s the instructor that makes the difference, not their experiences or resume!

  5. You have gotta be shitting me. “Only two tours” AKA only two life times worth of experience? An 18D has to make do in far more harsher conditions than any SWAT medic. You can be a shitty ass SWAT medic and just drag a dude into an ambulance and take off and be 5-15 minutes away from a hospital and still hit that golden hour. I wonder how long CASEVAC is for 18D’s in Syria right now? Do you want to guess?18D is by definition a good teacher. If you can’t teach in more than just one language you don’t get to be in Special Forces. That is part of their wheel house. The Trauma care the military gets is a good decade ahead of the civilians. Then we go to the scope of practice. An 18D can do things a SWAT paramedic can’t. Surgical interventions, Run a battalion aid station, set up imaging, labs, and a pharmacy. I am sorry your feelings got hurt. I am sorry that your poor buddy can’t do what he wants and has to have realistic expectations. For the vast majority of returning veterans it is the exact opposite situation. So excuse me why I laugh hysterically at the problems of your SWAT medic friend. Bahaha haha haha haha ha…

  6. You know I never saw this guy until this thing and my immediate reaction is why is this fat guy whining about SOF and veterans? Left and Right limits; We’ve all got them until you change that or you don’t. Coming from the Combatives world it’s a fact that your personal protection plan goes beyond having a gun. It also involves fortifying the chassis that carries out your desired intentions aka get in shape. It’s going to be a good thing for the industry when the get rid of size 58 5.11 pants at the shit show and we have the new blood in the industry to thank for that…

  7. So experienced war fighters coming home to teach their trade are the problem with the industry now? How about the fact that there are arrogant fools teaching classes that hold themselves up like gods. Now that people have an option to avoid such instructors and go with experienced fighters/teachers it’s bad for the industry ? It sounds more like bitterness and a lack of know how in expanding ones business model is the problem.

  8. It’s all about the man, IMHO…
    I’m just an old guy, a sexagenarian. There are people who have done a lot of stuff and act like (or say that) they know a lot of stuff. There are also quiet professionals whose infrequent sentences are priceless jewels.

    Before signing up for anyone’s class, I’d want to ask someone whose opinion that I trust what they got out of it.

    Everything is a learning opportunity, even a session with a moron. It helps with future moron identification.

  9. Regarding the paramedic vs. the 18d: Depends on the person. For me, personally, it is simple: I got to both and decide afterwards about a second class.

    In general, though, a SWAT- and para-medic will have different perspectives, techniques and procedures than an 18D.

    Due to the material available and the short time medical care is needed until the hospital, the former will probably the go-to guy for penetrating traumata. They might, however, be terribly restricted by department policy (e.g. prohibited form using those horribly dangerous, nerve-damaging tourniquets). An 18D should have spent time in the goat lab and knows a lot more about long-time care with minimal equipment. They might however only be taught to cinch wounds tight and pop some pills (e.g. those horrible, prescription-only antibiotics).

    If I am preparing for a civilian disaster or terrorist attack, the former will know a lot more about that, even though they might be used to having a wider array of tools available.

    If I am preparing for work abroad, from protection work to remote places like oilfields, the latter will have more to say about that.

    So… depends?! Is that the right answer?

  10. Good teachers don’t spend time criticizing other teachers, they spend time perfecting their instruction. I’ve never worked with or aided a 18D that I wouldn’t consider a good teacher… just my .02 cents

  11. I have about 400-hours of training that I paid for with my own funds from a gamut of instructors spread out for more than a decade. I’ve trained with multiple individuals who cut their teeth at the tip of the spear in various US and foreign SOF units. I’ve also trained with individuals who have experience in both Military and LE as well as a few who had neither.

    IMHO, based on my experience and depending on the actual course I signed up for, the instructors’ background and experience is only useful if (a) The experience is relevant to the course, as well as the techniques and lessons that are relevant to the course; AND (b) The instructors can effectively convey these techniques and lessons. I don’t care how many years an instructor has spent in CAG, SEAL, Rangers, SAS, UDT, HRT, SWAT or what-have-you. If you suck as a TRAINER your background or experience does not matter.

    This also applies to the type of individuals they allow into their courses, the numbers they allow to sign up for a class and whether or not they put in any effort to keep their fanboys under control. I once took an “Intermediate” course with a former SOF whose classes seem to live off these fanboys. Some of them have taken the same course almost a half dozen times at this point and fancied themselves as “experts” in what this instructors teaches. Never mind the fact that we had more than two dozen students; but these fanboys, who literally jostled with each other for the closest spots this instructor during breaks so they can eat up every word he uttered, would come up to the other students and try to “instruct” them as if they were AIs. I found it hilarious because pretty much all of them had no military or LE experience and only shot at square ranges as a hobby and some of those they tried to “correct” ended up members of active duty SOF units themselves.

    I personally will never recommend this instructor nor would I even consider signing up for any of his course offerings. But not because of his fanboys. I would never waste my time, money and ammo on his courses because he spends an inordinate amount of time on his ever-present soapbox telling war stories (tot he delight of his fanboys) AND bashing other instructors.

    I want an instructor who will teach me the techniques he or she likes to use and allow me to later determine, on my own, if I will adopt that technique based on its applicability to my situation. I want that instructor to be able to tell the class why they favor certain techniques and/or piece of equipment without wasting the time to compare it to others techniques or equipment.

    I don’t care how much experience an instructor has, what is more important is heir ability to impart knowledge as well as teach, evaluate and correct my technique. I don’t sign up for a course because I want to be in someone’s presence or to hear their war stories. If I wanted that I would take the time to go to a book signing.

    1. Current active POST certified patrolman here…

      Couldnt agree more. Quality instructors give you tools for your tool box…..you learn which ones work best as you apply them in real time and keep the others there just in case.

      One of the best instructors I have ever had….the best, in fact, was/is a Joe of a guy at first impression. He never had war stories to tell. He remained at eye level with his classes. He has a passion for sharing nomenclanture and gets excited about a student succeeding. This guy has decades of LE/SWAT experience and has probably been in more LEO OIS/Active shooter enagements than anyone in this region but all of that doesnt get in the way of his instruction.

      I’ve been on patrol with cops who are/were military….I can tell you that sometimes what worked in Fallujah is not applicable in Fargo. Best thing I have found is to get within a group of like mindeds…subscribe to the teachings of another like minded instructor who spends more time telling you how he field stripped his rifle to replace a gas tube while being shot at than wasting time talking about how many hadjis he sent to paradise or how bad ass that close airsupport was….I cant radio disparch for a gunship or overwatch on a traffic stop or while getting jumped in the parking lot of bank atm so all that high speed shhhh is useless at that point.

      Experience counts….I mean it does. But instead of telling you in depth about my first stand off that I got to deploy my patrol rifle on, i would rather share with you the story of all the crap I took off of same new rifle when I got home and never deployed on the rifle again.

      Training is about sharing information. Its not story time.
      Training is about looking and then doing. Learning what did or did not work.

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