The first operation for any operator is exhilarating, exciting, and produces a sense of accomplishment. Over a long period of time, operators gain more and more experience conducting all types of tactical operations. What happens to some operators over time affects how well a team operates together. What is meant by the previous statement is how prideful operators can become after conducting many operations. Officers, military personnel, or even civilians can fall into a trap called pride. It’s not uncommon for anyone who conducts dangerous or high-level operations successfully to walk around as if they don’t stink. Having pride in skills and abilities does not mean someone is prideful. It means they are confident in who they are and how they do things. What gets operators/officers killed is being so confident in their skills and abilities that they refuse to listen to others before and during the operation. Prideful operators tend not to listen to other’s input because they are so caught up in their way of doing things. The problem is tactics change and every operation is different or should be treated as different. Everyone on a team should be allowed to give their input regarding the tactics, techniques, and procedures that will be used to successfully complete an operation. When team members are silenced because the one who is planning the operation is too prideful to hear what they have to say, the percentage rate of operational success will decrease. This doesn’t mean it will fail, it just means that the operation could have been done in a better way to be successful. In the tactical world there is a bad way, good way, better way and the best way to conduct tactics, techniques, and procedures in order to have a successful operation. Operators who are responsible for planning should choose the best way to get the operation done. In order to do that, the team leader/senior operator needs to lay aside pride and hear everyone’s opinion in the briefing room. It should not matter whether a team member has just a year of experience or twenty years of experience, pride should not keep their input from being heard.
As years go by, operators get better and better at their craft. They train as much as allotted to them if they are a part time team and train as much as possible if they are a member of a full-time team. What tends to happen is the team gets caught up doing the same tactics, techniques and procedures year after year after year. They refuse to change with the times. For example, there are plenty of tactical teams who will not adopt carrying their rifle at high port because they have moved to low port for years on end. Their pride will not allow them to try other ways of doing things. Instead of trying it, the prideful operator labels a tactic bad and therefore refuses to try something different. Sometimes operator’s pride gets in the way of growth in the tactical world. When operators don’t grow because of pride, they wither away and die tactically.
Once an operation is over, operators should go back to the T.O.C. (Tactical Operations Center) or wherever an A.A.R. (After Action Report) is conducted and begin humbly going through what went right and what went wrong before, during, and after the operation. After action reports conducted by those who can’t take constructive criticism can cause “tactical operator death”. The main cause of this highly contagious disease is the operator’s pride. Tactical death is slow and painless most of the time with symptoms that are totally ignored by the one who has pride, as well as those around the prideful person. Many operators will tell others no operation is textbook. Just because no operator got injured or killed does not mean it went smooth and without problems. Those who are too prideful to understand will always say that during an A.A.R. the operation was textbook. This prideful attitude just tactically kills operators because they don’t grow tactically as an operator. To make things grow you must feed whatever it is you want to grow. If an operator is fed humble pie, he will grow humble. A humble operator will grow tactically and avoid the dangerous disease that causes tactical death, and that disease is pride.
Every operator should be confident in his or her skills. They should have a desire to get better every day and make others around them better. There are plenty of factors that can keep an operator from becoming great. For example, laziness, complacency, lack of effective intelligence, lack of determination, and lack of dependability are all factors that keep operators from tactical growth but not “tactical death.” Out of all the aforementioned factors, the only one which causes “tactical death” in the author’s opinion is pride. Pride keeps operators from learning, sharing knowledge, teaching, receiving advice, and moving on from the old to the new.
Operators who become prideful forget where they started and who they were before becoming an operator. People don’t just wake up and become something special or elite. It takes years of training and conducting special operations. Over time eventually the title of operator is achieved. When it is earned and not given the operator needs to never forget what got him to that special place. Those who don’t forget their roots are able to share with others and make the team they are on that much better. Eventually, once the operator gains experience, he should want to pass on knowledge to patrol officers if in the law enforcement world and to regular infantry units if in the military world. Operators understand the importance of operational security and do not want tactics, techniques, and procedures to be leaked to the public. This doesn’t mean he should ignore the need for patrol officers or regular infantry to receive good knowledge and training. There are some operators who will not pass along knowledge because of their pride to hold on to something that was never theirs in the first place. How could anyone go home with a good conscience knowing they could have helped a patrol officer or infantry unit, but chose not to because they are not an “operator,” and then come to find out that an officer or soldier was killed because of the lack of training they deserved? They didn’t receive it because of pride.
In conclusion, pride is a silent killer that seems to run rampant in the operator world. Having pride in one’s skills and abilities is not a bad thing. It’s to have pride in yourself and in your unit. The problem is allowing pride to change you as a person and make you seem to be more than what you really are. The operator will tend to mask his deficiencies with pride. This becomes the silent killer that no operator ever intends to have on their team. A quick solution to an ongoing problem is this: stay humble, put God and others first in life, remember where you came from, and never think yourself to be better than anyone else.
Thank you to all who serve this country both home and abroad. All of you are true heroes who deserve the utmost respect for what you all do. God Bless and please stay tactical which will allow you to be safe.
Rich McCusker is a former Marine Special Operations veteran with combat experience in different venues throughout the world. He has over 10-years-experience in the military with five years as a Direct Action Unit Team Leader. He was highly respected by his peers as well as his command for his leadership, tactical and firearms knowledge. Once Rich left the military, he continued his service to the community by joining a major metropolitan police department. Rich retired after many years of honorable service with many years serving on the full-time SWAT detail. Rich has been involved with many government agencies teaching tactics and firearms, as well as conducting operations throughout the world.
Rich holds Instructor certifications in Firearms, Tactical Combat Casualty Care, FPOS, Hand Combat (Level 8 under Coach Eric Paulson’s Combat Submission Wrestling, Full Instructorship with Progressive Fighting Systems Under Sifu Paul Vunak). He has been involved in Maritime operations in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Aiden, and the Indian Ocean regarding Hostage Rescue, GOPLATs and Ship Takedowns (VBSS). He has been involved in countless High-Risk Warrant entries and callouts involving Barricaded Suspects and Hostage Rescues. Rich has travelled across the United States teaching seven skills (Firearms, Hand Combat, Knife Combat, CQB, Medical, Physical Fitness, and Leadership) to Military, Law Enforcement and Civilians.
Rich has extensive knowledge in the world of Executive protection with real world experience protecting corporate executives, dignitaries, politicians, celebrities, professional athletes and church pastors. Rich has developed tactics, techniques and procedures regarding executive protection for numerous churches, companies, and Police Department Security Details. Rich has worked closely with the U.S. Secret Service, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, and mayoral security details in major cities across America. His innovative ideas, real world experiences and ability to pay attention to detail along with his passion for firearms, Hand combat and tactical instruction has made him one of the most sought-after instructors in the tactical world.