Tactical Differences


Last week Chameleon provided a course Active Shooter – Lessons Learned in Israel for trainees in San Antonio, Texas.  Feedback from a law enforcement officer with decades of experience in the U.S. who participated in the training was interesting.  From his point of view, how was it different and what were his takeaways?


With active shooter events on the rise in the West, there has already been a shift in protocols and tactics.  For example, where previously, law enforcement would first set up a perimeter and then hold and call for backup, now when events warrant, officers move in immediately.


Unlike the current situation in the U.S., civilian security officers in Israel are vigorously trained, more so even in some cases than are law enforcement officers.  Although they might be expected in certain cases to detain a suspect or perpetrator, the role of Security is to secure, the role of the police is enforcement.  In that respect, security officers perform somewhat like agents of the U.S. Secret Service.


Tactical Training
In Israel, much of the training is meant to simulate the stress and the environment in which a security officer would be expected to react.  To that end, rather than practice firing on static targets on the range, they conduct a lot of moving exercises.  Trainees use dry fire, blanks and ‘simunition’ non-lethal training ammunition.  The thinking is that it’s better to have an aggressive officer coping well under stress than a sharp shooter who freezes in combat.


An aggressive mindset is one that has a security officer in fight mode, running towards the problem with a goal of eliminating the threat as quickly as possible.   From the Israeli point of view, stopping an active shooter takes precedence over apprehending him.


Conducting this kind of tactical training gives instructors a chance to evaluate trainees on criteria that are more likely to predict reaction under crisis – discipline, responsibility and handling stress well.  Candidate mindset is a top criteria for getting the right person for a security officer job.  And the right mindset will also result in reduced turnover, hiring and training costs.


Aggressiveness techniques needed to combat terror are easily be incorporated into training here.


A proactive approach that involves engagement and questioning suspicious activity serves to deter threats before they unfold.  It’s a better approach than Observe and Report and can be effectively integrated into SOPs.


Shooting Methods
Israelis employ a run-stop-shoot maneuver which differs substantially from U.S. training which has officers shooting while moving.  The latter is tactically safer for the officer while the Israeli method helps an officer come to a balanced solid stop, and serves to improve accuracy in order that an assailant be taken down more quickly.


Another tactic has the securing officer shooting with one hand while keeping the other hand elevated at his side to keep bystanders out of the line of fire, serve as a visual warning and help maintain balance.


Krav Maga
Krav Maga is not a martial art but rather a fighting technique that takes weeks, not years, to learn.  It’s intuitive, simple and aggressive.  Because it is also important to know when not to shoot, Krav Maga is incorporated into the training, to be used when the action is at too close a range to make shooting feasible.


In Israel, guns are usually unchambered.  In the act of drawing a weapon, an officer racks the slide and engages the target in one smooth, fast movement.  In the U.S. where generally guns have a bullet in the chamber, there are cases where unchambered may well make more sense, for example, in environments where a juvenile could try to grab a gun or for those carrying concealed weapons.


Another common Israeli procedure is to conduct a quick weapons check after every firearm encounter where the slide is moved forward and the magazine set.


At the end of the two-day course, the instructors brought all learning modules together for scenario exercises that included Krav Maga, firearms and/or both.  These mock drills clearly showed weaknesses and demonstrated better and best ways of handling them.  Although there are legal and social differences between Israel and the U.S. which would make full on adaptation of all Israeli methods unworkable, still the seminar provided a good deal of information that security managers can apply to SOPs, use of force, deterrence and of course, training.


  1. Anonymous on April 7, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Having attended this class I can honestly say it was excellent. While not all the tactics can be used the same here in the US the lessons certainly can be used. I look forward to attending future classes with Chameleon!

  2. Anonymous on April 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

    As a former member of the Israeli special forces, having served in the capacities of a commander, counter terror instructor, and operational member, and having served as a law enforcement officer in the United States in capacities including SWAT and as a tactical and use of force instructor, I have to reply to two points made in this article:

    1) the difference in shooting techniques between Israel and the US: the article states that in the US officers are trained to move while they shoot and that that is more conducive to keeping the officer safer in a gun fight. This statement is false. There exists absolutely no imperical data that can prove that any human ever has survived a gun fight because they were moving and therefor avoided adversary bullets. In addition, the pace at which you must move in order to incorporate shooting is a pace that will still make you any easy target to hit. The only way to move and allow for a chance at not being shot, is to sprint as fast as possible, which of course eliminates any possible to effectively shoot.

    2: the Israeli model of tactical engagement and shooting is 100% applicable and incorporateable in the US. Those who try to make a long in saying that the Israeli tactics are not applicable in the US, are people who are solely bias towards their knowledge and training and do not want to change what they know.

  3. wpadmin on April 8, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I attended the Active Shooter lessons learned in Israel seminar in San Antonio and was glad to see a different perspective on tactics. I have read some comments on your recent article regarding U.S. police tactics of moving and shooting and the Israeli method of aggressively run to the target and shoot in a static position. You could argue the pros and cons of both styles and possibly agree that anyone who trains enough can be proficient in whichever way they shoot. I did not attend this seminar to affirm that my tactics are the best or tell me I am doing everything right. I attended because I was interested in other ideas, learn from the successes and failures of others, and gain a new perspective from those I respect. This seminar met those expectations. I was able learn new ways and affirm some of my old ideas. Terrorists are constantly changing their tactics and we must be willing to change and keep them off balanced.

    In my opinion, the biggest takeaway from whichever tactic you use is to make sure you include aggression. In my past, I have been on a police tactical team and we conducted numerous narcotic raids, search warrants and arrest warrants. It was not our tactics that made us effective, because we are human and we make mistakes. It was our surprise, aggression and the fear we put in our adversary that made us successful. The next idea that must be used is the winning mindset. Here in the U.S. the idea of winning has only recently been taught. Many use to teach survival tactics or surviving a violent encounter. It is not as important to just survive, but to win. You can lay down in the fetal position, play dead, and survive. Surviving does not stop the terrorist nor does it save lives. We must WIN and we must not stop until we WIN. Once you give up the desire to win and to just survive is the exact second you give up the fight and lose.

    In my humble opinion, the way to WIN is to have an aggressive warrior fighting attitude. You can run, shoot, and hit your target every time, during training. Without that deep down desire to always WIN you may be able to survive with your tactics and skills, but you may also in return lose many innocent lives. The Israeli method cultivates that warrior spirit to win and is a major component to its success. Thanks for the great class and keep winning!


    Mark Locricchio
    Federal Protective Service

Leave a Comment

five × four =