This post is dedicated to the many hours of lethal force training that I have had. I will try to be concise, but taking a life is not laughing matter. Nonetheless, I hear guys say, “If I feel threatened, I will do what I have to.” If they mean take a life, they may unwittingly take an innocent life, and there are legal and civil ramifications for this, and you don’t want that on your conscience. So bend your ear, I will try to give you a basic understanding in the next few paragraphs. It is not comprehensive, but a start.
In the Navy (and I was trained to the fullest extent) we were taught the OIC triangle. The acronym stands for Opportunity, Intent, and Capability. All three have to be present in order to justify taking a life…or killing someone. For instance, someone may have the Opportunity and Intent, but not the Capability. They may have the Intent and Capability, but not the Opportunity. They may have the Opportunity and Capability, but not the Intent. I will admit, the last one is the trickiest.
In the Navy, I was placed in a simulator to run some Deadly Force exercises. Our M9s (Military-Grade Beretta 9mm) were equipped with gas bullets so they would cycle as if fired. They had lasers that could locate precisely where we shot. We were given a screen about 10 feet away, which is the distance that most deadly encounters happen. I stepped in the bullpen and fired off a full magazine of about 15 rounds in about 5 seconds, all bulls-eyes. The proctor responded by stating, “Oh. We have a shooter.” Something they didn’t tell us, they had a device that shot ping pong balls at us as a way to simulate return fire.
So, we entered a scenario, and a gentleman came up to our ECP (Entry Control Point) and had a suitcase. I asked him to place his suitcase on the table and open it up for inspection. Once he opened it, there was a pistol in the case. I asked him to step back away from the case, while placing my hand on my weapon, which was secured in my holster. He didn’t move. Instead, he took a step toward us. At his point, the force and volume of my voice elevated. “Sir, please step away from the suitcase.” I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but the whole situation felt awry. In retrospect, I should have drawn my weapon, but if I had, I wouldn’t be able to share the badass part of the story.
The gentleman, myself, and my partner were in a standstill. My partner and I were both on alert, knowing that we might have to kill this person. The individual refused to comply. In a moment’s notice, he went for the pistol. I dropped on one knee and cracked off three shots — two the chest and one to the head. Once the simulation was over, my supervisor came in the room and started drilling me. “Why did you shoot him?” “Did you notice if there were any civilians in the way?” “Did all your shots land?” Of course, I missed the shot to the head by about an inch. Little did I know, I also dodged a ping pong ball when I dropped to one knee, drew my weapon, and shot — all in one motion. In the end, I didn’t kill any innocents, and we all concluded that I got over-zealous with the one shot to the head. I should’ve just stuck to two to the chest, but I will openly admit that it was just a reaction. I hadn’t been trained to do two to the chest and one to the head. It was simply a reaction. I also noticed that there wasn’t any aiming in the moment. All those range rounds finally paid off — it was a point-and-shoot endeavor. Luckily, I was accurate as fuck. Thankfully, that wouldn’t change when it wasn’t a drill.
So, there is a time to kill. If there is Opportunity, Intent and Capability on behalf of the target, then you are authorized to use any means necessary to stop the threat. As a Veteran, I almost always carry the Opportunity and Capability. The real question is “What is my intent?” I do not intend to harm anyone unless they are intent on harming me, or someone that I feel obligated to protect, which is anyone in my immediate vicinity. Like it or hate it, this is the obligation of a soldier, and that obligation doesn’t stop at discharge.
Wagen, over and out.