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  1. #1
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    Default Night Vision Fighting Tactics For Private Citizens

    Milspec_Jarm_3.jpg
    Just like body armor, the more prolific Night Vision Technology becomes, the more available it will be to the bad guy. The presence of this technology requires a rethinking of low light fighting tactics. The days of the Harries Position with a Surefire 6P being the pinnacle of the night fighting skill set are long past. To ignore this is a foolish mistake. To stay at the leading edge of the study of violence...in this case in the dark, we began approximately two years ago to develop concept and curriculum for private citizens that choose to stay current and use the technology available.

    I will say with all certainty that, all other things being equal, an operator, aided with night vision will always prevail against a flashlight-only operator.

    I used a personally owned Night Vision Unit years ago in police special operations service. I have a good understanding of the application especially as it applied to handguns and CQB. There are some requirements of course and we will discuss them immediately:

    Hardware Requirements: There are several generations of night vision units. The most advanced and best buy due to longevity, visibility, and clarity, is the Gen. 3 units. They can be hand held (secured by a lanyard system to the operator's neck) or head mounted via head mount or helmet mount. The standard is the PVS-14 series. If using a handgun, it must have a Night Vision usable sighting system (IR or visible laser, Mini Red Dot, or tritium sights). In the case of the rifle, it must have IR or visible laser. In this study we will focus on the use of the handgun for this application.

    Tactical Preparation/Requirements: Pre-focus the night vision unit on the threat at the distances of expected contact. Outdoors on infinity...indoors at about 10-30 feet. When moving, use exaggerated movements of the head to enable seeing things even with the narrowed field of view. One of the best training methods is simply to go for a walk in the woods with the night vision kit.

    You must have a well rehearsed immediate response for a close range assault. If using a lanyard mounted unit, a good IAD might be to drop the unit on the lanyard and use the support hand to strike, block, etc.

    NV-1.jpg
    You must have a well practiced technique for a Night Vision failure...or a weapon stoppage. Not a huge concern for a head/helmet mounted unit, but certainly one for the man using it as a handheld unit. This again illustrates the wisdom of using a helmet mount when possible, and at least a lanyard around the neck so the unit can be dropped for an extra hand available when needed, and then retrieved undamaged.

    In the area of weapons stoppage, this also illustrates the wisdom of non-diagnostic, "flow chart type" progressive weapon clearing instead of analytical weapon clearing that requires looking at the chamber area to discern the nature of the stoppage.

    You must develop a strong, braced for collision, but mobile, search and movement ready that incorporates the night vision device. And develop the ability to transition to white light when necessary for tactical purposes, as well as transitioning from tactical to administrative lighting.

    Shooting techniques are simple. They involve holding the night vision unit in front of the non-shooting side eye, while the pistol is raised up to the eye-target line, in front of the dominant eye. If the neck lanyard is used, the pistol would be fired one handed while the other hand holds the night vision unit in front of the non-shooting side eye. This method allows the use of any applicable sighting systems.

    Using tritium sights. There are advantages and liabilities. The strongest liability concern is that the tritium elements are visible to adversaries that may be positioned to the 3:00, or 9:00, or to the rear. Especially when they are using night vision units as well. To use these with the night vision unit, the operator will be using his firing side unaided eye to sight with as seeing the tritium sights through the night vision unit is difficult and the need to have the unit focused to locate targets precludes it being focused to see the sights.

    What happens is the visual image of the tritium sights, and the image seen through the night vision unit occlude together into one due to the binocular human vision. This gives the appearances of the tritium dots floating on the target. This will not yield pin point accuracy, but it is "good enough for CQB".

    Using Mini Red Dot Sights, such as the Trijicon RMR. All the same issues are at play as discussed above except that the nature of the RMR RM06 and RM07, allow for reducing the brightness of the red dot to a level still visible by the aided eye (viewing through night vision), but no so bright that it overpowers that image. In this case you are in fact seeing the red dot (although it appears as a bright green dot) through the night vision unit and firing as you would during the day...except using the non-dominant aided eye for sighting.

    Using Lasers (Both Visible and IR). Unlike a rifle where it is possible to have two lasers in tandem, both a visible and an IR, the pistol requires a much smaller unit, thus forcing a choice between IR or visible. Other than the Crimson Trace IR Laser, these are usually available with a white light unit as well.
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    The IR laser will only be visible to those using night vision, whereas those without it will also be able to see the visible laser. If the visible laser is used only at the moment of firing, to help verify the shot, this is preferable to simply leaving it on. At this point, Surefire and Streamlight have both announced the availability of their pistol lights with IR capable lasers so the user has choices. My own personal choice would be to opt for the IR visible laser if available.
    DS10-6830_b.jpg

    Understand that the laser is not used in a reactive mode for this application. Rather it is used for proactive application for hunting the bad guy. All of these laser units must be operable by the shooting hand while the trigger finger is on the trigger. This usually means there is a requirement for a grip activated tape switch.

    I understand that this is a limited market and that most private citizens will still rely on the flashlight as their "night combat response", but as the night vision units become more and more available, and as the reality that the night battlefield has changed for the urban defender, the perception of need will change. When that happens, Suarez International will again be at the forefront of training with Night Vision Fighting Tactics For Private Citizens.
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    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  2. #2
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    For those of us with only one functional eye it looks like the RMR or IR laser is the way to go.
    .
    Monte

  3. #3
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    Good stuff bro. I am thinking by the end of next year I am going to drop the Benjamin's on a gen 3 monocular. My gen 3 binocular type don't cut it, but definetly better then nothing. Try running one of those without a lazer, it's not much fun and probably more suited towards night driving then fighting.

  4. #4
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    I want to add, when do bad people do their killing and home invasions? At night, proactively, on their terms. People should take intrest in this stuff even if you have to break into your tax money to do it. Nightime can be your best friend or could be a nightmare, you choose....

  5. #5
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    Very good topic……The study of low-light combat would certainly be incomplete without delving into the application of NODs (Night Observation Devices). It is important to look at these devices as tools that enhance the abilities that we already have, fighting is still fighting....However to do this we need to integrate these tools into our tactics and as always, apply the right tools for the job. This begins with a solid understanding of both the capabilities and limitations of your total system (NVGs, sights, lasers, illuminators, etc).

    On this point one of the important things to understand is how NVGs work. I’m not talking about a PhD understanding (however that won’t hurt). The caveman simple thing to understand is that they are light amplification devises the work by collecting the available light and then amplifying it for viewing.

    Photons (light) are collected by an image intensification tube that converts photons into electrons, multiplies them and then converts them back into photons.
    how-night-vision-stages-work.jpg


    There are certain lighting conditions that are more favorable to the NVG user then others; but keep in mind that this is also based on the device. (For simplicity I will base these examples on GenIII PVS-14s as these are popular, obtainable, and relatively affordable.)

    Lighting conditions that have an impact on NVG employment.

    Taint lighting - Natural lighting conditions that are neither bright enough to see unaided but too bright to be aided, or what I like to call the “Taint” periods of day, these being early morning and early evening. It can be difficult to employ NVGs to their max potential during these times.

    Low Illumination nights - These are times when there is little or no lunar (moon) light. However this is a double edge sword; natural illum of less than 10% isn’t very good for employment. However at the same time too much natural illum levels the playing field too much in the favor the guy who isn’t aided.

    Low Illumination (Overcast) - Moonless overcast nights will reduce the effectiveness of NVGs significantly. This is by far the worst conditions.

    Very bright “cultural” lighting (manmade) - Most of the higher quality modern NVGs have amplification governors built in to prevent the “Whiteout” conditions that plagued earlier devices. However there is a slight time delay while this works, sort of like walking out into a bright day from a movie theater.

    Complete lack of “cultural” lighting while indoors - Again because these are light amplification devices some ambient light is needed for them to work. I have been in many situations when I have entered a room and had it be so dark that it was impossible to see even with my goggles on. I like to call this “Dark as three feet up a bull’s ass!” This is when an IR illuminator is needed.

    Shadows – It is not uncommon for it to be difficult to view into dark shadows (doorways, under low trees, etc.). Again this is again when an IR illuminator is best employed.

    Other tips and tricks

    Over the years I have used NVGs “a few” times and here are a couple things that can be helpful. Some are really just common sense but worth mentioning.

    Head mounted – The optimal way to employ NVGs for combat is head mounted, either a “skull crusher” type mount or on a helmet. This leaves both hands free for to do when must be done and one less thing to worry about.

    Lanyards – There are times when the hand held option is what is best for the situation. Honestly, early in my career NVG mounting options were so bad that we mostly hung them around our necks and would lift them to our eyes when we wanted to look at something. In this case lanyards are critical. However it has also been my experience that the lanyard needs to be “Breakaway” capable. 550 cord will ruin your night when it snags on something while moving dynamically, or someone garrotes you with it (don’t ask me why I know this).

    Spare batteries – Have a way to carry spares, if helmet mounted I like to keep them in a velcro pouch on the back of the helmet. It keeps them handy and also acts as a counter weight.

    Laser burns – A bright laser can burn an image into the photo cathode (the part the collects the light). There are filters for this.

    Illuminating a dark ass room – I often find that a weapon mounted IR laser will provide the ambient light needed to see inside of a room when reflected off of light colored walls or floors.

    This is just a sliver of this topic….I will add more if interested.
    Cheers
    T.

    "VICTORIOUS WARRIORS WIN FIRST...
    AND THEN GO TO WAR,
    WHILE DEFEATED WARRIORS GO TO WAR FIRST...
    AND THEN SEEK TO WIN." Sun tzu


  6. #6
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    Sua, thanks for the post. You have a wealth of wisdom on this topic and we would definitely want to hear more. My own comments below.

    Quote Originally Posted by SUA SPONTE View Post
    Lanyards – There are times when the hand held option is what is best for the situation. Honestly, early in my career NVG mounting options were so bad that we mostly hung them around our necks and would lift them to our eyes when we wanted to look at something. In this case lanyards are critical. However it has also been my experience that the lanyard needs to be “Breakaway” capable. 550 cord will ruin your night when it snags on something while moving dynamically, or someone garrotes you with it (don’t ask me why I know this).

    There is a way to rig the 550 cord to break away, but it must hold the weight of the night vision unit. I got hung up on a piece of furniture once that way. Very embarrassing when trying to be stealthy and ninja-like.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabe Suarez View Post
    There is a way to rig the 550 cord to break away, but it must hold the weight of the night vision unit. I got hung up on a piece of furniture once that way. Very embarrassing when trying to be stealthy and ninja-like.
    Absolutely there is...... Here is how I like to rig my lanyards to breakaway and it also allows you to adjust the length with ease.

    breakaway.JPG
    Cheers
    T.

    "VICTORIOUS WARRIORS WIN FIRST...
    AND THEN GO TO WAR,
    WHILE DEFEATED WARRIORS GO TO WAR FIRST...
    AND THEN SEEK TO WIN." Sun tzu


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SUA SPONTE View Post
    Absolutely there is...... Here is how I like to rig my lanyards to breakaway and it also allows you to adjust the length with ease.

    breakaway.JPG
    Very nice and simple. I like it.
    LIVING > FIRED > JAIL > DEAD

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    T
    WOTU Since 2012


  9. #9

    Default a question

    Thank you for the terrific info on this topic! A similar treatment of the newer FLIR units would be a great thing to complete this this topic of owning the night. Especially hand-held v. weapon-mounted for the new compact FLIR units, and how they would integrate with NV.

    One last question; is it true that a "pulsed" IR laser is not visible to opponents equipped with night vision? I have been told that but don't know. If so, what units are so equipped?

    Thanks for your on-going pursuit of excellence.
    Last edited by burfurd; 02-09-2014 at 10:03 AM. Reason: added:

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by burfurd View Post

    One last question; is it true that a "pulsed" IR laser is not visible to opponents equipped with night vision? I have been told that but don't know. If so, what units are so equipped?
    No any laser the you can see while aided then so can your similarly aided adversary.
    Cheers
    T.

    "VICTORIOUS WARRIORS WIN FIRST...
    AND THEN GO TO WAR,
    WHILE DEFEATED WARRIORS GO TO WAR FIRST...
    AND THEN SEEK TO WIN." Sun tzu


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