After Action Report: OnPoint Tactical’s Urban Escape and Evasion
Who: Eight students, including myself and a close friend. 1 Instructor and 12 Surveillance “HKs”.
What: A course designed to take students who know little or nothing about escaping unlawful custody, surviving and becoming anonymous in an urban environ, and using a basic knowledge of locks, vehicles, and security and how to bypass their systems.
When: 24-26 September 2009
Where: Portland, Oregon
I’ll begin by saying like many others, I heard about this course via Neil Strauss’s book “Emergency”.
Though I’ve trained for quite a while, with the Military, Police and Private sector, this class really brought a new sense of urgency to my mind. The urban expanse is something that we are always taught to negotiate in groups. Even in SERE, the urban area is not strongly considered.
Yet the Urban area commits most of our troops, operator and agents – so self reliance and knowledge should be at the front of their minds.
The day started with a presentation about various skills. A very general overview and a relatively slow morning with some hands on describing how to escape various types of unlawful detention.
After when we returned from lunch, a lesson in stress innoculation was used to demonstrate to the students how unsteady your hands become when you’re under high levels of pressure. While in the trunk of a car, we were expected to escape restraints while blindfolded, in the trunk of a car while the instructor demonstrated some “enhanced interrogation techniques”.
The day was concluded, and several hours after class were devoted to establishing identities while evading capture and gathering supplies that could be improvised and employed to escape unlawful restraint.
The concepts behind gear “Lines” were discussed, as well as useful items to keep near. Much of this was “retread” but it was interesting for students who had not been exposed to the material.
Day two was the “Meat and Potatos” of the skill building. We worked with several types of locking mechanisms, and refined our technique in bypassing such measures. More discussion on concepts involving escape and evasion were introduced, including how to defeat obsticles, defend against physical attacks and attack dogs.
We discussed what to expect if captured in a hostile country and the concept of “Baseline” was established and discussed. Disguises and blending were discussed and we closed out the academic day dividing the 8 students into 4 teams of 2. The class weas briefed the outline of the Area of Operations for the Field Training Exercise to follow.
Disguises appropriate for the area were established and taken for the Visual Recon.
NOTE: After Day Two, our team spent an additional 6 hours doing Recon, establishing our Cache’s and determining how we were going to use ORP/ERP’s and developing a knowledge of the landscapes and Waypoints.
We arrived at the “safe house” and were briefed on the rules. We would be captured and upon escape from restraints we were to aquire a message giving our first set of orders…
The Field training exercize started with a bang and did not let up. Pressure was continally applied and the contant threat of surveillance and being brought to “Detention” where you’d be “Interrogated” (Not gently) and would have to escape all over again really took its toll on our team. Though we managed to escape and complete all but one of our objectives, staying a “step ahead” of the Hunter teams was extremely challenging from the word “Go”.
The event tested our cunning, critical thinking, operational ability and ability to blend and use customs to blend into a unfamiliar AO. We were pursued constantly and worked our way from rendezvous to rendezvous, accomplishing our tasks and shifting disguises appropriately.
Portland Oregon is an extremely ecclectic city, and what’s “reasonable” there (naked bycicle rides anyone?) and what’s reasonable in the Deep south are extremely different.
Students who are looking for a course on “serious” evasion in the Urban Environment and who aren’t scared of a serious mental and physical challenges should not ask themselves twice about this course.
– Be flexible, plan simply. Full on mission planning was impossible under the circumstances.
– Do not have fixed rally points. Use roving rally points and always have a backup.
– Act natural. Drawing attention can help you not draw attention.
– Think outside the box, but work with your natural abilities.
– BE PHYSICALLY FIT. I spent the day running, hoping fences, crawling through the dirt and climbing trees.
– Keep your mind in the fight.
– Build trust and TTP’s for those you’d plan on moving with. Know how to move using bounds and continually pay attention. At one point, our teams communication breakdown (a misunderstanding of situational Awareness) led to a seriously dicey situation.
We often use the analogy popularized by Col. Grossman: The Sheep, The Sheepdog and The Wolf.
This class forces you to develop the cunning of the fox. You will quickly realize how overwhelmed you’ll be attempting to “fight” your way out of certain situations.
I cannot say enough good things about this course,
dang…wish I had known about it…no more classes in the northwest this year. sounds extremely useful.
Green with envy.
Check these guys out.
They will also do private classes as long as you can get 5 people together.
I think the quoted price was $400/person + Airfare + Room and Board.
The instructor will stay anywhere though. If you’ve got an extra room, you can save some coin.
If anyone is interested, it’s C.J. Black, Email:
Tell him Aaron from Portland Team 4 referred you.
After reading Aaron’s review of the Urban Escape and Evasion class I did some more research and signed up. I took the class last weekend in Chicago and it was very eye opening. You might be able to learn these skills by reading books and watching videos, but nothing can replace the day three practial experience of being “hunted” within a city while trying to complete tasks. I can’t recommend this class enough.
I am seriously considering the course being given in my area next spring.
I have no military background. It sounds as though Aaron refers to techniques and methods that are learned in the military and helped him in this class. Is it unreasonable for me to expect to benefit from this class without prior knowledge of thoughts, methods used in situations like this?
Aaron, chime in as well if you are around.
[quote]Is it unreasonable for me to expect to benefit from this class without prior knowledge of thoughts, methods used in situations like this?[/quote]
NO!!! Absolutely not! You stand to gain more than someone who has some prior military experience, as you have a less comprehensive “tool box” from which to draw. Skill is like any other tool a man can collect. Some you get because they’re shiny, some because they’re on sale, some because you really need them.
This is a skill set that you have a low probability of ever needing, and if you ever do – you’ll really wish you had them.
For your money, this class will definately give you a skillset that would apply to a “dark future” scenario.
We had an abnormally small class in Chicago (there were only 4 students to go with 2 instructors and 2 helpers) and no one in the class had a military background. We actually had 3 cube farmers and a recent high school grad. The main instructor, Kelly, not only explained the best way to handle different situations he explained why to do things one way vs another. Some of the things we learned I hope to never have to use, like how to get out of handcuffs, but other skills I have already been thinking about and adjusting my planning around them. For example I have examined what my plans are to get out of the city if there a 9-11 or Katrina type of event. To me it’s kind of like owning a gun. I go to the range and practice to keep my proficiency up and while I hope I never have to use my gun in defense I know that if I have to I will be as ready as I can be.
Thanks guys. Your responses have helped me decide to register for the class. It will be in March. I am really looking forward to it.
I will post my thoughts afterword.
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