What is close-quarters combat (CQC)?

Typically close-quarters combat means room-to-room fighting or clearing during a Hostage Rescue or Direct Action mission.

Most special operations units receive the basics of close-quarter combat training along with a manual-sized list of other related acronyms. The basics include how to shoot, move, fight, and communicate in a tight setting.

Most of the training we received in the Navy SEAL Teams for close-quarter combat used live fire. It was conducted under microscopic instruction by certified range-safety officers and it was recorded.

Crawl, Walk, and Run

Typically you start out with what we call, crawl, walk, run training.

You start off with a few weeks of basic fight training (hand-to-hand combats with weapons integrated). This is real combat fighting with no tapping out. You are striking to kill. It’s one of the few things about combat fighting that is very different from the UFC/MMA style.

We also integrate weapons into our fighting style. A muzzle strike to the forehead in close quarters can sometimes be more effective (and safer) than firing a round.

A former teammate of mine was on a combat boarding to take down pirates off the coast of Somalia and had to use a knife to kill one of the pirates because he was too close to fire his weapon without risking hitting a teammate.

We would practice close-quarters combat in single-man and pairs settings. Then, we would integrate everyone into a full squad-sized unit complete with snipers, breachers, and other specialists that start moving through a “Kill House” (can just imagine all the “woke” people reading this one as my eyes roll) like a deadly serpent hunting and squeezing the life out of its prey. It’s quite a thing to see.

It’s messy, but effective and doesn’t pose a risk to one’s teammates.

Contrary to popular belief and silver screen depictions, when operators clear out rooms they mostly use hand signals (Sorry Hollywood, but there’s, obviously, no talking.)

The training scenarios are different each time. They can include multi-storied houses, ships, and other structures. They mostly involve complex live-fire decision-making and multiple scenarios of “shoot no shoot.”