FORT CARSON, Colo. – It’s 11 p.m. and cloud cover obstructs illumination from the moon. Disguised in darkness, Special Operations Forces Soldiers maneuver stealthily inside a mock village. To the naked eye, nothing is distinguishable.
A deafening explosion punctuates the quiet. Yells and gunshots emanate from inside a building followed by the detonation of another bomb. The crack of rifle fire betrays the assaulters’ faces for a split second and then darkness again.
From May 2 – June 3, 2022, Polish and German Commandos honed Close-Quarters Battle (CQB) tactics alongside Green Berets assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), on post.
“CQB is a kind of universal language,” said a Special Forces senior sergeant with the Critical Threats Advisory Company, 10th SFG(A). “Having [partners] out here training with us, working together, sharing [tactics, techniques and procedures] is crucial. Once guys understand the basic principles, getting thrown in together is not that big an issue.”
The CTAC partners with premier SOF personnel who conduct direct action missions within the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.
“It can be chaotic to some folks who aren't inoculated to it—shooting live rounds, flash-bangs, explosive breaching—but it doesn’t even come close to the reality of [having] real bad guys that are moving and shooting back at you,” the Special Forces senior sergeant continued. “It’s pretty important for CQB to be as idiot-proof as possible.”
A Soldier assigned to GROM, a SOF unit within the Polish Armed Forces, said CQB tactics were generally similar among the participating units but with some nuance.
“We’re comparing our tactics here to see where we can improve,” the Polish Soldier said. “The opponent is getting better and better, so we’re taking what we learn here to Poland to improve our own techniques.”
Though English wasn’t the first language of the invited countries, mission planning, execution and after-action review (AAR) were all conducted even despite language barriers.
Bilateral cooperation is not only a chance to share theoretical and practical knowledge but also to develop common standards and procedures, which are crucial on demanding battlefields.
“I think what’s most important is cooperation and planning together all the time because we've got different habits on how we do things and sometimes different meanings to words,” said a Polish SOF Operator with JWK. “The longer we’re together the better we understand each other.”
The CTAC is slated to train with SOF counterparts in Europe later this year.