Hostile environments: advanced training programs for tactical professionals in the security industry

Being accustomed to the (relative) quiet of the shooting range or, at most, small amateur practical shooting competitions, I just didn't know what to expect when I was invited to participate in a course organized by GENIAX Tactics, a leading international provider of advanced training programs for tactical professionals. But when I found myself inside a car  shooting through the windshield with a rifle, or rushing from one cover to another while firing at the targets as quickly and accurately as I could for three days from 9am to 18pm, I understood a couple of things: firstly, these courses are definitely not for overweight, wimpy, out-of-shape people; secondly, these courses are not designed for leisure or sport shooters, but for professionals who risk their own lives to protect other people in brutally hostile environments. There is a reason you have to shout “Enemy!” every time you identify and engage your target in this game...

Learning the trade from professionals

The author standing in the middle between Manrico Erriu (standing on the right of the photo) and Luca Tremonte, instructor (left), with some students who participated in the Hostile Environment Close Protection Operations (HECPO) course.

GENIAX Tactics offers advanced training programs designed to meet the evolving needs of tactical professionals such as Counter Terrorism Special Units or Quick Reaction Teams, and ranging from Close Quarters Battle (CQB) to Close Protection Operations (CPO), Hostile Environment Close Protection Operations (HECPO).

The operators respond to enemy fire from inside the car, shooting through the car's windshield.

The course I had the privilege of taking part in was Vehicle Close Quarters Battle (VCQB): a three-day, fully immersive experience based in real-world situations and scenarios. This training is crucial in situations where time is life and it guides you through proper and dynamic methods for close-quarters engagements in and around a vehicle. You learn how to leverage a vehicle strategically, which includes tactics for car evacuation, using cover and concealment, countering ambushes, executing assaults with vehicles, and effectively engaging the enemy. 

The operators quickly exit the car after suppressing enemy fire, then they will extract the VIP from the back seat and evacuate him away from the hostile area, after providing first medical aid if needed.

For me this meant learning (or re-learning) a lot of things, starting from pistol and rifle manipulation techniques and stances different from those I was used to, but above all it meant learning to work as a team with other people: each training drill/scenario in fact involves at least a two-people team – one armed with pistol (we had 9mm Glocks), the other with rifle (AR-15/M4 in .223 Rem.) – plus sometimes another team member playing the role of the VIP to be evacuated.

After extracting the VIP from the car and suppressing enemy fire, one of the operators is opening the trunk of the car to reach an AR-15 that will be used to support an evacuation strategy from the hostile area.

The trainees came from different countries, including Italy, Spain and the UK, so during breaks you could hear a curious mix of Italian, Spanish and English words, with the British speaking Spanish, the Italians speaking English, and the Spanish speaking both English and Italian. But repeating the drills over and over quickly creates a sense of camaraderie, mutual understanding and friendship with the other international team members, partly because the team members rotate roles – pistol, rifle, VIP. (And believe me, even playing the VIP role, crouching behind a cover while the other guy above you is emptying his magazine into the “enemies”, is a pretty instructive experience that offers a different perspective on real-world scenarios.)

Under the  watchful eye of the instructor, operators continue to return fire after extracting the VIP from his car and prepare for a rapid evacuation.

Even tough safety rules are always very strict, I must admit that at first I was pretty nervous about practicing very dynamic live-fire exercises with other people moving and shooting around me – something I had never done before. Clear and constant communication with your partners, and full awareness of what everyone is doing each time, is paramount here. 

As you progress, improve, and learn to coordinate under the watchful eye of the instructors, your self-confidence grows too. At the end, the “pling-plong” symphony of your and your partner's bullets hitting the steel targets in perfect synchrony sounds oddly satisfying. 

Video: some of the training scenarios

“A multifaceted toolkit”

Not just tactics and firearms: Manrico Erriu shows how to apply a tourniquet in case of a leg wound.

“Our mission is to provide world-class tactical training to professionals in the security industry, including law enforcement, military personnel, and private security contractors. We aim to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in high-risk environments, ensuring their safety and the safety of those they protect,” explains Manrico Erriu, founder, director, and head instructor of the GENIAX Worldwide Network and GENIAX Tactics. 

Operators use smoke grenades to cover the VIP's extraction from the hostile area to the vehicle that will later allow his evacuation to a safe area.

“The Israeli Advanced Tactical Response Method we teach is a radically different approach from any other combat shooting technique. We teach an evolution of the Israeli method that can be applied to various operational scenarios,” he says. In addition, thanks to GENIAX's Exclusive Career Training Program and its extensive partnerships worldwide, participants gain access to a wide range of career opportunities and professional connections. GENIAX Tactics is in fact an Approved Training Center by the Security Skills Certification Scheme (SSCS), a prestigious non-governmental, international, and independent organization, and ensures that individuals meet the mandatory requirements to work in the industry.

Returning fire from a frontal threat during the Vehicle CQB course. With pistol calibers in particular, bullet trajectory and accuracy is influenced by the windshield glass they pass through: something to be taken into account.

As Erriu puts it, “It's not just about mastering firearms techniques; it's about equipping individuals with a multifaceted toolkit – a transformative journey towards professional excellence and success”. 

A break on the last day of the VCQB course: the author and Manrico Erriu, GENIAX Tactics founder, director and chief instructor.

For me, it was quite an eye-opening and enriching experience. Needless to say, a single three-day course did not make me an expert professional in private security. 

But it made me understand my strengths and, more importantly, my limits in realistic combat scenarios, which I consider a very valuable improvement in my self-awareness as a firearms user and enthusiast.

You can find more information on the Vehicle Close Quarters Battle (VCQB) course and other advanced training programs on the GENIAX Tactics website.