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Old November 30, 2007, 01:33 PM   #1
GalilARM
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"Directed Fire" vs "Suppressive Fire"?

I did some active shooter simunitions training with the local PD SWAT guys and they were instructing the new recruits that cover fire is a no-no. Now obviously they are cops and have to account for every shot fired, eliminating the option of "covering fire" like the military has. They said what they are allowed to do is called "directed fire" which they basically described as follows:

If there is a shooter (in this case a gunman shooting at cops from a third story window of an occupied office building) who the police cannot get a direct bead on, they are not supposed to use suppressive fire, but instead are instructed to try and land bullets around where the suspect is covering, i.e. the window frame area, or the frame of a door in the event that a suspect was firing from the cover of a room. The idea, in theory, was to force the suspect back and hold off his fire.

In theory and on paper, this sounds like a good idea. Obviously the police have to worry about shooting innocent people, so it makes sense that cover fire is not an authorized tactic. But at the same time, this "directed fire" seems sort of hokey. Now I'm obviously neither military or LE, but it seems to me that this idea would detract from focus on the actual target. We all know how cops have to worry about covering their own rears legally, especially when the bullets start flying. Is this "directed fire" thing a tactically-sound practice or just the product of misguided thinking by PD's who are wanting to cover their own arses?

I learned a lot of cool stuff during these training sessions, but this was one of the things that confused me. Any insight is apreciated!
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Old November 30, 2007, 06:28 PM   #2
Dwight55
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In the tactics I was taught, . . . the idea was to pin the opposition down long enough to flank em, frag em, toast em, or get the heck out of Dodge.

It was done using the term suppressive fire, . . . but the idea was to land the bullets close as we could to the bg's figuring that we just might get lucky and knock em out at the same time, . . . but if not, . . . bullets whirring around their noggins may keep em down long enough for us to do what we wanted.

Looking at your description, . . . it reads like the PD lawyer needs more to do, . . . as all it seems like was done was a semantic change.

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Old November 30, 2007, 06:41 PM   #3
alizeefan
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Quote:
It was done using the term suppressive fire, . . . but the idea was to land the bullets close as we could to the bg's figuring that we just might get lucky and knock em out at the same time, . . . but if not, . . . bullets whirring around their noggins may keep em down long enough for us to do what we wanted.

Looking at your description, . . . it reads like the PD lawyer needs more to do, . . . as all it seems like was done was a semantic change.
I agree. Directed fire appears to be a cosmetic change in terms to placate the public who may already fear the "militarization" of the police. Same thing still ( although not a GPMG to be seen . )
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Old November 30, 2007, 07:10 PM   #4
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Aren't you really talking about "Spray & Pray" verses "Directed Fire"? One denotes control and the other panic don't you think?

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Old November 30, 2007, 07:28 PM   #5
Edward429451
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I agree with xrocket. Even suppressive fire is directed fire, directed to a specific targeted area and aimed. Maybe a BG isn't in direct view but its still aimed so is not spray & pray. Big diff.
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Old November 30, 2007, 07:50 PM   #6
KellyTTE
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One of the things that DCT stressed to me in the SWAT basic skills course is that just like LE, civilians have to account for every round in the end.

Suppressive fire is a no-no, directed fire is more acceptable, but still frowned upon. In the Active Shooter Response class, it was stressed that you plan out movement so as to be able to rabbit point to point of cover./concealment. You can't just spray the building as a teammate dashes for the front door.

So it depends on the shooter, is he active? Is he inactive (wounded)?, Is he converting to a barricaded gunman? You have to put a lot of information into play to make a good decision.
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Old December 1, 2007, 11:03 AM   #7
Dwight55
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I would just like to add that the only place I have ever seen "spray and pray" techniques advocated: Hollywood.

None of our military tactics involve "spray and pray", . . . even when you use cluster bombs, . . . or something like Puff the Magic Dragon (prop aircraft with rigidly mounted gatling guns firing out the side), . . . it is fire directed into a suspected enemy position, . . . nothing different from the original definition of "directed fire".

About the only use of spray and pray I ever saw was in the old "B" movies where the hero started toward the bunkhouse (with a six shooter he had shot 4 or 5 times) and he told the rest of the family/possee/good guys, . . . "Cover me".

Germany did use probably what would be a whole lot closer to spray and pray when they sent their "buzz bombs" across the English channel, on a wholesale effort to demoralize the Brits. There was no "aim" in them, . . . just point em up and West and let em go.

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Old December 1, 2007, 01:53 PM   #8
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It is outrightly disgusting that the police direct more concern winning court cases and lawsuits than versus BG's.
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Old December 1, 2007, 02:25 PM   #9
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If you think you may nead to use supressive fire be sure to carry a lot of ammunition. Some years ago when it was possible I might get into an extensive fire fight I carried 4 spare magazines instead of my usuak two.
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Old December 1, 2007, 06:26 PM   #10
BillCA
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Quote:
but instead are instructed to try and land bullets around where the suspect is covering, i.e. the window frame area, or the frame of a door in the event that a suspect was firing from the cover of a room. The idea, in theory, was to force the suspect back and hold off his fire.
Silly me. I thought the description above is suppressive fire.

I guess there might be some differences between military doctrine and LE doctrine here. If we presume a 3rd floor apartment where the BG is shooting from a bedroom window as the center of operations, then;

Military: Lay down fire on the bedroom window AND the balcony window/door while troops move in closer or to other advantageous positions. The fire is directed at the window itself and the area just around it (2 ft either side).

Police: Fire is directed at/around the specific window where the shooter was last seen. Attempts are made to keep the fire limited to that window & frame area to prevent projectiles from hitting innocents on other floors or in other apartments. During firing, officers move to advantageous positions.

I guess one could say the main difference is probably in the level of saturation the target area gets.

However, modern day military doctrine says utilize the forces at your disposal to neutralize snipers and fortified enemy combatants... such as: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKyLgQgFAoY
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Old December 1, 2007, 08:50 PM   #11
Erik
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Law enforcement doctrine frowns on "directed fire" to the extent that it is rare to find tactical doctrine which alows it let alone standard policy.

LEOs are generally trained to never fire at a specific target they cannot identify visually. The exception, and it is rare to the point groups of industry trainers would have a tough time doumenting more than a handful of instances, is when they are trained to fire where they know the target to be but cannot at the time of the trigger pull see them.

Woe to the LEO who applies indirect fire with negative results...
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