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A successful combatives program cannot stand alone. The transition to the appropriate techniques must be natural, which can only be accomplished by integrating combatives into scenario training. This is hard and arduous training; soldiers should know that war is harsh, and the reality of training for war is equally harsh.


Training soldiers in the appropriate use of combatives requires expertise and detailed planning. As in live-fire training, the potential for accidents must be mitigated by control of both the scenario and the conduct of the exercise itself.


When planning a hand-to-hand scenario many factors must be addressed. A detailed and well thought out scenario tells the soldiers what type of techniques are appropriate. For example, very different techniques are appropriate when clearing a building in an enemy occupied city, such as when U.S. forces cleared Hue City, Vietnam, than when clearing a building during a noncombatant evacuation operation.

a. Scenario. Scenarios must be explained to soldiers in detail so that the appropriate actions come to them naturally. This should include an explanation of the events leading up to the scenario as well as the immediate tactical situation.

b. Rules of Engagement. Rules of engagement must be given that provide soldiers a clear understanding of what actions are appropriate.


During the conduct of an exercise, leaders must maintain control throughout. It is very easy for undisciplined troops to go beyond the bounds of the exercise when they get frustrated at their own poor training. Soldiers and subordinate leaders must know what is expected of them, and what the repercussions are for inappropriate actions.

a. Opposing Force. There is always a tendency for soldiers playing the opposing force (OPFOR) to lose track of the training goals and get carried away. OPFOR must be well rehearsed and stay within the bounds of the scenario. The safety of the OPFOR must be considered even in small details of the situation. For example:

  • Should they wear their canteens on their LBE knowing they will be knocked down?

  • Are there any dangerous objects for them to fall on, such as the pointed corner of a table or a picket in the ground?

b. Safety Measures. The most important control measure that a leader can have after the scenario begins is a means to stop the action. This can be as simple as a whistle, but it must be clear and easily heard over the action.


There are as many different possible scenarios as there are potential missions. Commanders must evaluate their own METL to come up with realistic scenarios for their units. One of the primary learning objectives is the thought that must go into using techniques and tactics that are appropriate to the situation.


Clearing buildings during MOUT can confront soldiers at the lowest level with life and death decisions at every turn.

a. Situation. The battalion has been deployed to the island nation of Cortina to help stabilize the political situation long enough for the recently elected democratic government to gain control of the country. Platoons are being sent out to search for suspected weapons cached by the former armed forces, who recently lost power. Your platoon has been tasked to search and clear a small village.

b. Rules of Engagement. Deadly force is only authorized for self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property that could create a substantial risk to others.


Soldiers must always be trained and ready to execute their principal wartime missions.

a. Situation. The platoon is attacking an enemy-held bunker complex.

b. Rules of Engagement. Deadly force is authorized in keeping with the law of war.


Soldiers may be used in increasingly more complex scenarios short of war.

a. Situation. The platoon is manning roadblocks that divide the two hostile factions of Cortina. Hostile crowds are known to appear, threatening U.S. soldiers.

b. Rules of Engagement. Soldiers will use the minimum amount of force necessary to control the situation.

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