Scouts in Contact Tactical Vignettes for Cavalry Leaders A Book of Tactical Decison Exercises for Cavalry Leaders

Scouts in Contact

I got a copy of Scouts in Contact Tactical Vignettes for Cavalry Leaders a book of tactical decision exercises for Cavalry Leaders (see the attached PDF of the book below). Any new book on how to facilitate Tactical Decision Games gets me fired up. Why? There are not enough of them out there. When someone takes the time to develop a book on the topic its worth exploring it and the methodology they use. J. Frederick Dente, LTC, Unites States Army and Bradley Nelson, LTC, United States Army members of the Cobra Team Operations Group National Training Center had the moral courage to publish as well as come up with innovative TDGs. Nicely done! They were also gracious enough to allow me to share the information here for police officers and police trainers to learn from. So thank you very much!

The scenarios are made with the Unites States Calvary in mind but we cops can learn from the format they have laid out in this very useful manual to help us facilitate repetitive, imaginative and effective training. I love the intro chapters which were modeled after the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. “Design and Delivery of Tactical Decision Games: TDGS/STEX Workbook. The tactical decision games (TDGs) are laid out in a format that is simple and effective. At the end of each tactical decision game they have indicators of success and failure section. These sections are great for the facilitator to help focus efforts and a great tool for AARs and when the exercise is over. Bottom line is they did a fantastic job of putting this book together and those that use and learn from it will benefit greatly in my humble opinion.

Tactical decision games (TDGs) are a simple, fun, and effective way to improve your decision making ability and tactical acumen, to improve your mastery of the art of war. In law enforcement tactical decision games improve the art of operations or what I like to call police operational art or our ability to take what you know, be able to adapt and then apply it to a given set of circumstances to affect your strategy on the street, bringing an end to a violent occurrence using appropriate tactics. Like most skills, you can improve tactical decision-making ability through practice. The idea behind TDGs is to put you in the role of a protagonist facing a tactical problem, give you a limited amount of time and information, and require you to develop a plan to solve the problem.

By repeatedly working through problems like these you will learn not only to make better decisions, but you will also learn to make decisions better, that is, more quickly and efficiently. You will learn to look at a situation and instantly take in its essential feature and cut right to the heart of the problem.

“Nine-tenths of tactics are certain and taught in books: but the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals. It can only be ensured by instinct, sharpened by thought practicing the stroke so often that at the crisis it is as natural as a reflex.” ~T.E Lawrence

Cobra Team has developed SCOUTS IN CONTACT to provide commanders a tool to train young Scouts to think through complex tactical problems and communicate clear, concise, and executable orders. This is not a guide on 'what to think' but a series of exercises to train our doctrinal fundamentals, in ambiguous, rapidly changing tactical situations. In the end, it increases our junior leaders' ability 'how to think' while building their experience base in a low-overhead training environment.

Why are these low-tech table-top TDEs still valid in an environment where a Commander can leverage powerful live, virtual and constructive systems like CCTT and MILES? The answer is simple, these TDEs allow the commander to observe and asses how his scouts think. Strip away all distractions from virtual training environments. Strip away the pressures of time and space in live force-on-force training. Slow down the tempo of the operation, and watch a young leader think through a complex tactical problem.

To learn as quickly as possible, we must be more deliberate, more disciplined, and more thorough in our approach in order to squeeze as much as possible from each experience, as with everything else about mental conditioning there is no magic here. The basic concepts behind good decision making and tactics are not all that complex, nor are they particularly hard for the average police officer to understand and comprehend. The difficult thing is in applying those concepts to a specific tactical problem. It is here where the development and mastery of decision making and tactics come in. In policing there is no substitute for experience, no substitute for the intuitive experience that comes from repeated practice. Decision Making exercises and critiques are the practice field for the tactical leader and officer. If we as individual officers and as a profession are not willing to collectively learn from our own on the job experience and history in an effort to continually educate ourselves to, improve safety and effectiveness, we will have failed to protect ourselves and the communities we have sworn to protect.

We are professionally obligated to do whatever we can to gain whatever experience we can without paying the full price. That is precisely why we study past campaigns and precisely why we should play tactical decision games.

Stay Oriented


Scouts In Contact, Tactical Vignettes for Cavalry Leaders (Cobra Team, Ops Grp, NTC, 2016).pdf7.95 MB