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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Small Unit Tactics 1 in Chattanooga TN class review

    I recently attended Suarez International's Small Unit Tactics class at their
    training facility in Ider Alabama, which is just south of Chatnooga TN. The
    instructors were Randy Harris and SOFRGR.

    I would like to give a brief review of that class, but I will not go into too
    much detail about what was taught, as I feel that would be in poor taste
    to reveal all of their secrets. :D And besides, I had to pay for it, and so
    can you.

    Day one

    Day one, or rather night one, as it turned out, was spent in the
    classroom. Subject matter included troop movements, formations,
    crossing danger areas, squad structure, and also a brief explaination of
    hand signals. This had the benifit of getting everyone on the same page
    and saving time when we actually got into the field. I felt this was an
    outstanding call by the instructors, and showed a lot of forethought on
    their part. They had no idea of the skill level of those who would be
    attending this class, and this classroom portion made things much easier.

    Day two

    Day two started at the assembly area at their training facility. First thing
    was a brief review of the previous night's class, along with an opprotunity
    for any questions we may have had up to this point. Next was a safety
    briefing from Randy as to his safety rules. After everyone geared up, and
    Having a final safety check from Randy we proceded to move out.

    In the assembly are there is a small field where we formed up as two
    separate squads. We then actually did the formations and movements we
    had discussed and seen in the diagrams in the previous night's class.
    After a brief discussion of hand signals, what do do when you receive
    them, and how to pass them up and down the squad, we hit the field.

    Throughout the course of the day, we practiced various squad level
    tactics and movements, such as crossing linear danger areas, like roads
    and trails, as well as larger danger areas like fields and clearings. Moving
    from different squad formations, and when and why to do so. SOFRGR
    also touched briefly on land navigation, and was very patient with the
    deluge of questions from all of us throughout the day, as was Randy.

    After this portion of the class, which lasted until late afternoon, we took
    a short break until it got dark, after which we took to the field again, and
    did the same movements under the cover of darkness, which introduces
    a whole different dynamic into the equation. After a short talk from Randy
    and SOFRGR about what went wrong and what went right during the day,
    we ended day two.

    Day three

    Day three started on the firing range. In this portion of the class, we
    were exposed to different firing positions, when and why to use them, as
    well as firing around and over cover. We then used these different
    positions and techniques to fire and manouver through a course Randy
    had set up for us. Other techniques such as the Aussie peel, and
    bounding overwatch were walked through, and done with live fire.

    The final portion of this class, which was also the most fun part, was a
    full mission profile. We were given a certain set of circumstances, and
    a certain problem to solve. Our instructors were either acting as role-
    players, or were observing our actions, and would accasionally provide
    feedback to assist us. After completion of our objective, Randy and
    SOFRGR critiqued our performance, and gave us valuable feedback on
    what we did right, as well as what could be inproved upon.

    After the awarding of graduation certificates and our chance to critique
    our instructors, the class was officially over.


    I felt the class was presented in a very professional manner, there were
    no attitudes whatsoever. No "boot camp" mentality. Both instructors
    were very helpful, and accomidating. This is very difficult material to
    teach in such a short time frame. We pretty much just got a crash
    course in tactics in these 2-1/2 days. It will be up to us to take what we
    learned here and further refine it to become more proficient at it.


    Even though it was fun, and even though I did pick up a few pointers and
    useful tips from it, I feel that the live fire portion of the class could have
    been omitted. This is not a shooting centric class. This class is about
    tactics, not about shooting for the sake of shooting. Randy states in the
    description for this class that it is not for beginers. This could not
    be more true. One must have a firm grasp of safety, weapons handling,
    as well as basic weapons manipulations, to get the most from this class.

    Another thing I would have liked to have seen was more night operations.
    We did a small bit of it, and I do understand that we did have some time
    constraints, but perhaps a fourth day, or night could help with this.

    The Bottom Line

    For those of us who want to take our skills "to the next level" I have to
    highly recommend this class. There are several situations where I can see
    the skills I learned and refined in this class to be of use. There might come
    a day where the safety of us and our families rests solely upon our own
    shoulders. It is comforting to know that one has the skills and training to
    deal with it, and most likely survive it.

    Randy and SOFRGR are truely two unique individuals, and I for one, was
    glad to have the opprotunity to "pick their brains" for a few days.

    Best regards,

    Last edited by ScottFN308; 02-09-2009 at 01:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Thanks ScottFN308!

    I've been eargerly awaiting a review of this class.

    I sure hope it is offered again...and soon.:D

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Las Cruces

    Default and another review

    Scott did a great job reviewing the class but I'll add a few things, more along the lines of thanks and lessons learned.

    The only thing I disagree slightly with Scott on was the shooting part. Some of us don't get the chance to shoot rifles much, especially on an open range and right next to someone while moving. I thought there was the perfect amount of shooting. I also wouldn't be surprised if this was the first time some of the class had ever shot from the "other side" too (shoulder).

    I want to thank the instructors. SOFRGR knows his stuff but equally importantl, knows how to teach it. This is pretty rare. Having once been an officer myself, I can tell you it's even more rare in the DOD. I'm not kidding when I say it was an honor to learn from him.

    This is my second class with Randy. The first one he was just a student like me and there were times he was just a student in this class. There aren't many instructors confident enough to do that. Randy knows his stuff too. They are both very nice guys that anyone should be glad to learn from.

    But almost as important as the good instructors were the good students. We were a very different bunch of guys but we were all there to learn. Everyone kept the correct, positive attitude. Physically, even though we weren't humping with full rucks in an Alabama August, the class did present enough challenges that if you were a total internet commando, you wouldn't have been able to do it. Everyone was in good enough shape to do everything needed of them. I can't emphasize how important this was to me - I would have had very little patience waiting on Mr Cheeto Butt to pick his wheezing self up off the ground. This was a really great bunch of guys who were serious about training, but not so serious to not enjoy doing it.

    A couple things I learned are you need to wear gloves. I just pulled out another briar from my index finger. Both hands are really scratched up. This may seem like nothing to worry about, but if you were in the position to be in the woods for more than a few days (or in some parts of the world a few hours) those scratches could turn into something nasty. Don't forget your knee pads either (like I did).

    Also, all of my gear worked except the Glock extended mag release I put on years ago (in my more ignorant days). When I rolled on that side, it would eject the mag from the gun while it was holstered. As Randy said, that could be problematic. IMHO, you have to have a class like this to see if all that gear your wife thinks you were nuts to buy really works.

    We had a large variety of rifles. I found the standard black AK sights with tiny rear slot and front post the size of the wings on either side to be just about useless in the woods. Debate all you want, but black is found in nature and black on black doesn't work. If you think you can just point shoot at 30 yard in the woods and hit what you are aiming at, then you either haven't done much deer hunting or that's all you do. I assure you you can easily miss a man sized target at that distance.

    Having looked down a few of the guys rifles that had optics, I believe a red dot is the dog's balls in the woods. Barring that, those of you who have an AK with the stock rear site need to get a Fuller rear site or break out the file. A white or orange front post that's bigger would probably be a good idea (we'll see) but you really have to get some light on either side of the front post.

    The movement stuff Sonny P. taught us in the AK class actually worked extremely well for me. When I hear "prone", I do it his way, which is fast to get into and much faster to get up from than the plastic green army man prone position. Same with the other movements: thanks Sonny.

    Last observation was about camoflauge clothing. Regular old woodland pattern was pretty darn good. I was amazed how at well a solid color dark shirt blended in to the woods. German dark flectarn looked solid black to me at 50 yards. The new Army and Marine multi-cam really stood out, literally. It was way, way too light colored. It might work somewhere, but in winter Alabama woods it didn't to my eyes. As expected, khaki and desert colors were easily seen. No one had any on, but not only will you blend in with the locals much better (Gray Man), but my hunting experience leads me to believe you are much better off wearing Real Tree camo than any military stuff. Barring that, I think dark solid colors were better than any of the military camo. As Brian said, a black shirt and brown pants like the Amish hunt in works very, very well. What did you others think?

    Oh, but nothing stood out like caucasian faces and hands; you might as well be wearing blaze orange (or let the tin foil under your hat reflect ;)). Gun camo is a good thing, but not with a shiny pink hand on it. I don't think having darker skin would have made much difference either; bare skin in the woods just means something doesn't belong there.

    I imagine some of you guys were a little intimidated to go to a class like this. Do I really want to run around in the woods? What will my friends say? Will we get lectures on the Banking Holiday of 1933? Yes, it was "army stuff" but like Scott said, it wasn't taught like you were a recruit: SOFRGR and Randy are too good for that.

    If you have any interest in learning how to work with other armed people for something other than hunting or target shooting, this is the class. I will even use the basic movement stuff with my Cub Scouts.

    It was a serious class about a serious business but seriously fun.

    P.S. I had a great 5.5 hour motorcycle ride home with a full moon at my back the whole way.
    Last edited by DC950; 02-09-2009 at 09:28 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Many thanks to Randy Harris and SOFRGR for teaching this class. I had to miss Sunday as a result of unforeseen family issues.

    Good to meet and train with all of you.

    Cy Pritchard
    "Truth is treason in the empire of lies" - Ron Paul
    "But I have an "A" in PE" - my son

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Chattanooga TN
    Thanks guys.

    This was our initial offering of this class and frankly we were a little unsure of what to expect from the students, unsure of how quickly they would pick up on the material and unsure of how much the weather would cooperate.

    I can honestly say I do not think the class could have gone any better.

    We really could not have asked for a better group of students. They all digested the material quickly and worked together and by the end of class were amazingly cohesive for having only spent 2 days together. Good job guys!

    We are in the process of revising some things for the 2nd offering of this class (maybe in NOV) and working on material for the level 2 class;).
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor
    NRA Certified Instructor
    Tennessee State Handgun Carry Permit Instructor
    Glock Factory Certified Armorer
    IDPA Master Class SSP, ESP,CDP, CCP, BUG, CO
    Gung Ho Chuan Association

    TRAIN with me....

    Fundamentalist Christian Man at Arms


    Joel 3:10 - Beat your plowshares into swords , and your pruning hooks into spears; train even your weaklings to be warriors.

    Through HIS power I can walk on water..IF I just have the faith and courage to get out of the boat.

    A good man who's done a couple of bad things along the way....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Harris View Post
    Thanks guys.

    This was our initial offering of this class and frankly we were a little unsure of what to expect from the students, unsure of how quickly they would pick up on the material and unsure of how much the weather would cooperate.

    I can honestly say I do not think the class could have gone any better.

    We really could not have asked for a better group of students. They all digested the material quickly and worked together and by the end of class were amazingly cohesive for having only spent 2 days together. Good job guys!

    We are in the process of revising some things for the 2nd offering of this class (maybe in NOV) and working on material for the level 2 class;).
    Thanks, Randy.
    I know some guys who might be interested in the second offering of this
    class, I'll send them the word as soon as you get a time frame together.

    Mark me down for the Level 2 class.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Sweet Home Alabama
    good job guys!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    THANK YOU RANDY AND SOFRGR!!! What a great class. For a first run, it came off excellently, and I'm psyched for the Advanced SUT. Just schedule it out a little way...incoming baby is tightening the training budget, and last weekend's kitchen pass wasn't easy...but hey, my wife has been through SERE school so she cuts me a little slack as I'm really still trying to catch up with her! :D

    In a few months, I'll see you again for one of the Chatnooga offerings. Thanks again for a great class. And, to all those that I met, what a great group, it was my honor to meet you all and get to spend a little time training with you. Keep in touch.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Northern AZ
    Thanks for the review, guys. I am VERY interested in taking this class. Quick question: what would be the pre-req. coursework for a 1911 and AK-owning noob (never taken anything but the CCW class) be?


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Let me first say how impressed I was with those who attended the class. Everyone was highly motivated, quick studies and in good enough shape to keep up with the pace. As soon as we started the practical application, it was quickly apparent that no one was a novice or "internet commando". This could be seen in everything from weapons handling skills, to demeanor and professionalism to equipment.

    While some minor gear changes were made between day 1 and 2, I got the impression that everyone had put some thought into their gear selection and had worked with it previously. Not just buying up the latest and coolest "johnnie go-fast" black nylon and fast tec buckles.

    All of the above combined to allow us to cover and practice a tremendous amount of info in a very short time and hopefully have a good time in the process.

    At the end of the weekend I hope that you came away with not only the tactics but also a deeper appreciation for critical thinking, decision making and leadership skills.

    Also I would like to give a big thanks to Randy for honchoing this thing and bmp_sbi and his parents for allowing us the use of a great training area. And last but not least to Gabe for his backing and support of this new class.

    Hopefully we can run another SUT 1 class in the fall and look at a SUT 2 around the this time next year. Having gotten the fundamentals down in SUT 1, SUT 2 would incorporate more night ops and full mission profiles with role players (like the last portion this weekend).

    Thanks guys!!!

    "Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave" Stonewall Jackson

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