Note: This is part of a series. You can read parts one, two, three, four, and five here.

In 2001, the Army opened the Combatives School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and began formulating training and protocols for this new mixed martial arts-based combatives system, further analyzing and preparing the soldier for close-quarters battle. In 2002, the U.S. Army officially adopted MACP and issued the first Army MACP FM manual, FM 3-25.150. This was a major step up for the Army and allowed major improvements. MACP is modular and adaptable to unit needs and training time constraints. MACP instructor selection is unique to each unit and is based on who is on hand and what they know. Although still lacking in the way of standardization, this was still much better than what existed previously. But, as good as MACP is, in time it became clear to Special Forces that MACP was a good fit for the Army, but not for SF. Not completely.

Combatives FMs

The story of Army combatives manuals offers some insights. FM 21-150 COMBATIVES was first published in 1954 and last published in 1992. It had evolved over the years, but still retained its traditional influences of bayonet (Repeat after me: “Parry! Thrust!”) and e-tool, pit construction, obstacle courses, pugil stick training, and some new and old judo and karate influences and techniques such as punches, throws, pressure points, and even a six-foot pole many martial artists refer to as a “Bo.”

“Stick with what we know,” must have been the dominant logic. A major problem with 21-150 was that it was too vague in the training of qualified instructors or to serve as a system for fluid implementation across all units, and relied too much on the “commander’s discretion.” It did not put everyone on one sheet of music.

FM 3-25.150 replaced 21-150, was first published in Jan 2002, and was last published in April 2009. The current manual is TC 3-25.150 and is, essentially, the FM without the competition rules. It is not available for public access. Army military police have their own combatives manual, which derives much from the influence of MACP. It is known as ATP 3-39.35.

SOCP hand-to-hand combatives

In 2007, SWC officially adopted MACP. A year later, in 2008, the Special Warfare Center (SWC) officially dropped LINE, adopted MACP, and Matt Larson was put in charge of that effort. Around that same time, Greg Thompson was training various units on Bragg in combatives. Matt and Greg met and discussed adapting MACP to fit SF. Greg had already developed many of the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that would become SOCP. Matt took many of those back to MACP. Karl Haskins also entered the picture around this time. Karl had been teaching combatives to various SOF units on Bragg using the SPEAR system, a system devised by Tony Blauer in Canada in the 1980s, based on natural human reflex actions.

It was this collaboration between Greg, Karl, and Matt that led ultimately to SOCP, which was fine-tuned MACP for SF. The SOCP evolution and development out of MACP persists to this day, as the two systems, and their instructors, share a mutually beneficial relationship which allows them to cross-pollinate and improve one another. Also in 2007, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) issued a concept of operations (CONOP) stating, “The CSA (Army chief of staff) has directed that every soldier will experience actual hands-on combatives training prior to deploying.” USACS, U.S. Army combatives school, had been instructing 20,000 soldiers per year since 2001. That number was about to escalate dramatically.

In 2008, AFSOC picked up LINE. They never officially adopted it, but some AFSOC units did use it for several years. They dropped LINE when that system’s gaps and shortcomings came to light in public and military reports. In light of that, the Air Force chief of staff shut down all Air Force combatives training and formed a review committee to determine how training should move forward.