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Low Light Tactics for Military Law Enforcement

Low Light Tactics for Military Law Enforcement

Using the modified prone to displace from the light around a corner.

Robert Carlson / SWAT Digest

It’s instinctive to fear what you can’t see. It’s the unknown that we fear; where are they, do they have a gun? These are all thoughts that race through your mind as you search for a target in the dark. By the same token, we can feel secured by the darkness. We’re safer if they cannot see us. Over the years many people have been lulled into a secure feeling by that old phrase and misnomer cover of darkness.

There is something about those dark shadows that can both play upon a persons fear and at the same time bolster a sense of security. The reality is that both thoughts are correct to one extent and wrong to another. Unfortunately, not understanding this and allowing either perception to override the other could very likely result in the death of a military LEO at the hand of an adversary.

Statistics (as well as common sense and operational experience) consistently show our adversaries prefer to operate at night. Every cop knows this. This has been the primary impetus for the many advances in flashlight technology in recent years. The military has always this and have long made the development of NODs (Night Optical Devices) a priority, to provide our forces with an advantage. The military traditionally chose to stay away from lights, feeling they compromised your position, using them only for things like map reading. NODs such as NVGs (Night Vision Goggles), though initially heavy, temperamental and hungry for batteries, were great! They allowed us to see without being seen and prevented the compromise of positions and personnel with non-tactical white light.

NODs do, however, come with their limits, even the most recent generation; loss of depth perception and peripheral vision, difficulty in adapting to changing light conditions, and of course, cost. Now don’t get me wrong, NVGs are perhaps one of the best pieces of kit you can have with you on a night operation. Other times though, especially in urban operations, there might be something better. Urban operations are a unique environment, consisting of many angles, dead spaces where you can’t see, and a multitude of light levels even at night. Lighting conditions can change rapidly as we move through an urban area—street lights come on and off, we move into and out of shadows, are exposed suddenly to headlights or flares, search a dark room when lights are suddenly thrown on, etc. So, could we not perhaps learn something from our civilian counterparts in Law Enforcement about how to fight at night? Might there be something that surpasses the limitations of NVGs, that could be easier to utilize (if practiced effectively) and simpler to deploy?

Enter the flashlight.

Such a statement should and does sound self- evident and obvious, but it’s not. There are large numbers of SPs and MPs out there that lack even a basic understanding of low- or no- light operations. This is more a result of a failure on the part of their career fields as a whole than any dereliction on the part of Training Section NCOs—they are faced with so many constraints it’s a wonder our troops have any proficiency at all. The fact is, there is more to using a light properly than just pointing it where you want to look.

First, the Security Forces SP or Military Policeman should understand that it is not just any flashlight will perform effectively in such conditions. Through my years in both military and civilian law enforcement, I’ve often noted how little thought most of my peers put into the selection of the flashlights they carry. I’ve seen officers spend almost a thousand dollars on the best handgun available, but settle for a mere thirty dollar light. Unit S-4s often exhibit the same skewed priority, purchasing expensive, often little-used pieces of kit without any consideration for superior, easily carried and easily manipulated lights.

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  • Photo_00002_max50

    Recondo99

    over 3 years ago

    2674 Comments

    Very good tactical perspective. LTC Tom Nugent

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    crichard98

    almost 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    Our department authorized the Tigerlight Flashlight. It was rated the #1 rechargeable flashlight, has low light and strobe features. The LED light is rated at 600 lumens and the best part of all there is pepper spray housed in the end cap. Our guys did a six month field study and loved it. If you want to be safer and/or want your fellow officers to be safer, check out this flashlight.

  • Blue_line_decal_max50

    crlittle554

    almost 4 years ago

    506 Comments

    I love my fenix tk11. wasn't the cheapest light out there, but it's brighter than my maglite, and the battery last an entire work week.

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    almost 4 years ago

    19380 Comments

    Well written.

  • Beyondthegraceofgodnn8_max50

    TXPD

    almost 4 years ago

    332 Comments

    My advice would be to stay away from those $150+ flashlights(im looking at you, surefire and streamlight). There are some excellent lights out there for a fraction of the price and weight. Check out brands like 4sevens and fenix. I carry a 4sevens that take AAs, is brighter than my led stinge, lasts longer even on rechargeables and cost about $60.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    almost 4 years ago

    being on the ground is one of the worst things that this guy could do..."modified prone". He has placed himself an the least manuverable position and cannot react fast enough from this position to seek cover.

  • Img_1155_max50

    Ashurbanipal

    almost 4 years ago

    74 Comments

    LED flashlights are definitely worth the cost. Bright, tough, efficient and dependable.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    SHARRI8

    almost 4 years ago

    106 Comments

    YES,,,,,AT NIGHT IS WHEN SOME CRIMINALS SWITCH PLACES WITH ANOTHER PERSON. WITHIN THE HOUSEHOL;D.....TO COMMIT THEIR CRIMES....HERES WHERE THE LAW NEEDS TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR TWINS OR OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS WHO LOOK ENOUGH ALIKE TO BE PULLING SUCH CRIMINAL ACTS.....MALE OR FEMALE......

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    deweylandrum

    almost 4 years ago

    12 Comments

    Maybe I misread, but I think the point of the article was that there are times that you need a flash light. And when you need a flash light and your life depends on it, it probably shouldn't be the same standard military issue craptastic flash light that my father carried in Vietnam. (I was issued the same model of flashlight my father had - except crappier made!). And... you probably need to learn some skills around the different techniques of using a flash light in one hand and a pistol in the other. I don't think anyone is saying to switch to police tactics and don't use night optics....that would be silly.

    An though the flash light with the tail cap push button are practical, there are other designs that are quite adaptable to tactical situations. I own the Coast Lensor V2 - 120 lumen white LED and 5 lumen red LED. You can still hold it with the light towards the pinky finger, in fact it was designed to use your pinky to turn it on. The red light has a smooth button and the white has a rough button so you can tell the difference n the dark.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    bstark

    almost 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    I agree with jimg1, my son inlaw is a RAKKASAN and just returned from Afghanistan. As a retired Law Enforcem,ent Officer, I would rather have a trained RAKKASAN 101st Airborne soldier on my squad and covering my back, than a cop, cant compare "tactical training" to the real soldiers 24/7 fighting for their lives!

  • Mp_logo_max50

    jimg1

    almost 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    This article is rediculous. Most MP are coming off the battlefield and have a better understanding of tactics than most civilian departments and the experiences were made using real bullets. Get with the times! We're not in the 80s and 90's anymore.

  • Maa_class_badge_max50

    1baggdHD

    almost 4 years ago

    1374 Comments

    Good article..

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