Earlier this week, a video of Soldiers working their way through a shoot house drew the attention (and ire) of service members and veterans across the country. Now, the Command Sergeant Major (CSM) of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division has come forward to lay claim to the embarrassing video, promising to train and correct the issues it reveals.
The video seems to have been first uploaded by a Facebook user named John Valiukas, who claims to be a retired U.S. Army infantry Soldier on his profile. He posted the video on Sunday with a profanity-laced description that seemed to resonate with others who have undergone tactical training and as such, could easily recognize just how poor the execution of this drill really was. The video is shown below without the description, but you can read Valiukas’ accompanying statement by following the link to his Facebook page if you’re so inclined.
These “shoot houses” are used to train Soldiers on CQB, or Close Quarters Battle (one of a number of names commonly used for clearing buildings). Usually, shoot house videos are a blast to watch–with highly trained troops doing exactly what they do best. The video in question, however, offers anything but. The most egregious failure on display in the video has to be how often the Soldiers “flag” one another with their rifles.
“Flagging” is when you point the barrel of a weapon at a friendly Soldier, which is a huge no-no even if the weapon is on safe and your finger is off the trigger. In fact, one of the fundamental safety rules all service members are taught right from the start is, “never point a weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot.” One Instagram user who saw the video commented that it contained “more flags than the UN,” and that seems like a pretty fair assessment.
Egregious flagging of weapons aside, the video also shows a serious lack of training in how to effectively clear a building. Soldiers can be seen failing to clear corners and generally disregarding norms, prompting one former Green Beret on TickTock to refer to their approach to entering rooms as “playing hopscotch in the fatal funnel.”
The video, which seemed to have been originally uploaded by someone who thought it looked cool, based on the Xzibit song playing over it, eventually made it all the way to the Command Sergeant Major of the 10th Mountain Division, Mario O. Terenas, who took to Twitter to claim responsibility for the video–and to make sure everyone knows that he intends to ensure these Soldiers get the training they need.
“It’s 10th Mountain Division. We ran it down to the ground and it is 10th Mountain Division. It is our folks, and it really, really hurts to say that,” Terenas says in the video.
“It is not the standard, it is not how we do business, and it is not acceptable. We’re running this thing down to the ground. We will investigate it, we will take action, and we will re-train. That is a guarantee.”
The video itself likely wouldn’t have raised as many eyebrows if it weren’t for the use of live ammunition and the apparent lack of corrections being doled out. While the military community can be unforgiving at times, everyone has to start somewhere. It’s totally expected that troops will struggle with some elements of CQB as they develop the skillset… But you don’t give those young up-and-comers live rounds and free reign. All kidding aside, that’s how people get killed in training.
While the first video may show some bad training, the second shows the solution: good leadership. CSM Terenas has made it clear he intends to fix this problem, and based on his statements, it’s seems likely that he’ll do just that.
The 10th Mountain Division specializes in mountain warfare and is recognized force-wide for offering some of the best training for combat operations in mountainous or Arctic conditions. They were the first conventional forces to deploy into combat following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and have gained a reputation for being highly trained and capable warfighters. It’s hard to say when the embarrassing video was filmed, but it seems likely that all of the Soldiers in the division will see some remediation on CQB in the coming weeks or months.