Welcome back to the second part of the Top 10 unwritten rules of CQB series. In the previous part we talked about the first two rules about sight fixation and flashlights. Lets continue to our next two rules. But before, we would like to remind you that these ‘rules’ are more of a reminder of things that many forget or not aware of. Throughout this series, we will discuss the top ten unwritten rules of CQB.

3. Dividing the threat’s attention

I will be honest. I was not sure if I should include this point in the list. It requires a somewhat mature intellectual approach filled with experience glittered on top of it. Dividing the threat’s attention, or in other words messing up his OODA loop is one of the most important principles. Especially when the threat is oriented and you have no other means to distract the threat. However, before I am going to dig into it, it is necessary to give an example in a bigger form.

When we used to practice raids in small unit capacities on fortified compounds, we used to employ a very simple known but effective technique. We used to refer to it as suppress and flank.

While it consists of more than the name suggests, it would work like this:

(Figure A) Bigger picture – SUT of outnumbered medieval age knights who are dealing with force concentration. Note the same principle of threat divided attention aka Split Force which is being used to thin the opnent resistance. IMPORTANT – formations are not similar to the modern formations due to trajectory and FF.


Taking this into the microcosm of CQB:

Author Disclaimer : I am aware that the majority of respected organizations will not advocate to go into a kneeling position when committing to an entry. However throughout my career I have witnessed many who were, in fact, instructed to kneel, for many rainbow and glitter kinds of shit reasons.

When things are moving fast and has the same mechanism of Assault versus Defenders depicted above, we used to employ the same principle but in slightly different way to increase our survivability odds. Dividing the enemy’s attention works best in “known” type of entries.

One person is acting as  ‘bait’ as he moves fast into the known direction, deliberately drawing attention by movement or sound from the threat forcing the oriented threat to shift his attention to the fast moving picture, while the point man follows in to engage the threat from cover. While the threat is basically doing what humans or animals do when receiving new unfamiliar information stimuli, he will basically be forced into reestablishing his subconscious OODA not to be interrupted a moment later by the next team member which will gain a trajectory on him.

I’ll give you another example that we use specifically in low to no light conditions. One person enters the room in X direction with a strong source of light aimed on a human, while the other members entering in Y direction initially without lights, concealed by contrast and darkness. Here the effect is even more devastating for the threat since he will be essentially blind and fixated on the source of light.

In the video :

-L Shaped Room.

-Camera View: Threat View

We teach the same principle even to patrol officers who are approaching a person in an open space, say a parking lot, for the purpose of communication or search. As soon as the officers perceive danger or the officers are getting into the combative bubble, they may began to divide attention (see figure below), essentially breaking off laterally, turning one picture into two forcing the observing individual into recycling his decision making (OODA) and overloading the amount of data perceived. What we teach normally in the next phase is that one teammate is talking, drawing verbal and visual attention, while the other remains quiet, aware and exploiting the opponent’s flanks for better cover of his partner, view and proper fields of fire.  Eventually, from observing, orienting, deciding, and eventually acting point of view, the threat is forced into two dimensions of consideration. More data to process, less time to react. Mental physical cage.


Dividing the threat’s attention, or as some people might be familiar with similar concepts such as “running the rabbit’’ is all about exploiting your opponent’s human limitations. Some people will frown upon RTR, but it did work for us and to other people I know. Its all about human performance. [Ed note: consider assaulting an objective with two elements, one by air (helicopter) and one by land (vehicle) striking the target simultaneously.  By the time the enemy decides which direction he wants to fight in, the aggressor force is already breaching the door and clearing the building.]


4. Avoid kneeling if possible.

Note – This rule is in reference to clearing interior structures

Back in the day when I served in the IDF, the first CQB course we took was obviously a basic infantry level program. You know, corners, and box shaped rooms. In that course it was a standard that once a person gets to his corner, he immediately goes into a kneeling position to “avoid” the first bullets fired by possible resistance.  With the years and progress of training, this methodology was quickly dismissed by my unit CQB instructors, but it was a reality that made me really understand how stupid and potentially what a death sentence kneeling can be in CQB environment.



General issues with kneeling :

(a)    Injuries

Before we get into why, it is important to highlight the difference between the trigger and switch zones that a threat normally has. (Remark – explanation is short and brief on purpose)

  • Trigger zone – Trigger zones are often chest and below. We call it trigger since in most cases it triggers a certain chain of reaction’s (bleeding, loss of mobility, trauma) rather than death. It might not eliminate the threat right away, but will allow a “certain wished reality.”
  • Switch zone – You hit that area and its lights off. Neck and up, shitty day to the maximum.

Back to the issue. By kneeling the individual is not only losing mobility, but often replacing a ‘trigger’ zone (aka plate) in a ‘switch’ zone (AKA your head), making any kind of impact around that zone more than just a shitty day. Why is it important to highlight this issue? Because the majority of tactical institutions are still teaching in their basic courses kneeling and crowding covers in the context of firefights that take place within ten feet.


Can you see the issues ? (answers below)

(b)    Mobility

While in the majority of kill houses I’ve trained at the environment was a simple empty box shaped rooms with one to two doorways, reality is very different. Interconnection of several compartments, doors, hallways and other partitions exist in any warehouse, apartment, or tunnels and it will require the team to be responsive and take on the challenge as soon as possible. By kneeling down, reaction time is decreased and often visual view is less general and more fixated. Getting people to reinforce others by numbers is critical in multi room clearing. Mobility is the key; accuracy is the lock.

(c)     The little things.

Additional stuff I have recognized over time when I saw individuals kneeling by default during room clearing –

1.       Equipment is caught in the edges of tables, closets etc.

2.       Losing orientation with additional teammates who are moving around.

3.       Becoming more fixated on visual covers.

4.       When humans are afraid or the need to self-preserve is initiated, that last thing a human likes to do is to settle down and wait (freeze is a different phase).

To summarize

With that being said, kneeling should be avoided in most cases unless working a threat from the door way or cover and concealment (HL for example). There are several reasons, but the major and most important one is the simple fact, that by kneeling by the person simply replaces his plate carrier with a piece of head in the enemy’s sights.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to the third part of this series !

Lead picture courtesy of DOD.