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Close quarters battle (CQB) or close quarters combat (CQC) is characterized by rapid offensive action and the precise application of lethal force in very close proximity to the targets. Because of the close proximity of the targets (threats) during assault operations, operators must make split-second decisions and take appropriate actions in order to save lives and limit collateral damage.

Principles of AssaultEdytuj

When a unit is tasked with conducting an assault where CQB is expected, whether to eliminate the threat posed by targets, to rescue innocents, or any other mission, there are certain principles that must be present to achieve success. Those principles include:

  • Detailed planning
  • Controlled entry
  • Speed
  • Surprise
  • Violence of action
  • Security

Detailed PlanningEdytuj

Each assault operation should be based on pre-established standing operating procedures (SOPs) and detailed planning using all available intelligence about the crisis scene, targets, and innocents. The proposed plan should be diagramed and discussed, outlining each team’s actions and responsibilities, location, fields of fire, special tasks, etc.

This should be followed with step-by-step "walk-through" exercises on a mock-up that duplicates the target environment. A final inspection of each team member is conducted to make sure that all needed equipment is on hand and operational, and that everyone knows and understands the plan.

The team leaders will provide a mission brief back to the controlling headquarters to ensure that they fully understand the plan. It is recommended that the team conduct as many rehearsals as possible because repetition will increase coordination and speed, and will help eliminate any misunderstandings.

Controlled EntryEdytuj

The vast majority of hostage rescue operations and other CQB operations employ multiple teams or multiple assault groups, as well as additional elements in supporting roles such as perimeter security, observer/ sharpshooters, hostage reception, arrest teams, etc.

In most cases it is desirable to use multiple, simultaneous entry points to overload the target's ability to react effectively. Therefore, it is necessary that a centralized command group coordinate the overall control of the assault. This is normally done through radio communications, with each element reporting periodic progress.

Decentralized control is accomplished through the assignment of specific missions to each element, which are automatically carried out when the action is initiated. Assignment of boundaries between elements helps ensure they do not interfere with each other.

The centralized command element should also be prepared to send in back-up assault teams, if available, in the event that any element is unable to complete its portion of the mission.


Once the assault begins, the team must gain control before the target understands what is happening and can prepare an effective defense or mount a counterattack. Speed is achieved through well-designed tactics, such as gaining proximity with an undetected approach, the use of multiple entry points and explosive breaching. Other factors that will aid in achieving speed are effective rehearsals and attention to detail by individual assaulters, both of which will help to eliminate mistakes.

Speed does not mean that you have to run. A fast, controlled walk is better for accurate shooting. If you try to move faster than you can shoot accurately or faster than you can perceive threats, then you are likely to make mistakes. It takes longer to correct mistakes than it does to do it right the first time. Taking the time for well-aimed shots is more effective, than rapid, wild shots. The key is that control should never be sacrificed for speed.



The objective is to complete all offensive action before the terrorists are able to react. To gain this element of surprise, the following factors should be considered.

  • An undiscovered approach to the crisis site is essential. This includes stealthful movement, noise and light discipline. Elements must arrive at their breaching points undetected.
  • An assault should be conducted at a time when least expected. The optimal time of assault should take into consideration fatigue, normal sleep periods, and other factors that detract from the target's alertness.
  • Diversions are an essential element in achieving surprise. Staged events, such as a mock auto accident, fire, or explosion near the crisis site can divert the target's attention away from the assaulting elements. Explosive breaching and diversionary devices, such as flash bang, smoke, or gas grenades can be employed to distract and disorient the targets.

Violence of ActionEdytuj

Gaining and maintaining physical and psychological momentum during an assault is essential. Violence of action is gained by use of explosive breaching, flash bangs and very direct and aggressive actions of the assault team.

If a person has a weapon in his hand and presents a clear threat to human life -- the operators shoots. Remember that controlled fire is critical for the safety of innocents and operators. Target discrimination is mandatory. Assaulters should always identify threats by looking for weapons and aggressive action among all personnel that they encounter.

The team must maintain aggressive momentum throughout the assault. Loud, forceful verbal commands must be given during the assault.

Once the shooting has stopped, operators must maintain dominance over the crisis site through immediate, positive control of all live targets and innocents. Clear, forceful commands and instructions are required, and if necessary, physical restraint should be used.


Security actions are mandatory from the time the assault team begins approaching the crisis point until it returns to the tactical holding area for post assault debrief.

Remember that CQB takes place in a three dimensional environment; the threat may be in front, behind, above, or below. By being aware of the surroundings as well as the movements of the other operators gaps and vulnerabilities can be minimized. In many instances, observer/sharpshooters can cover movements and let operators know when the way is clear to move.

One security consideration is the fatal funnel. This is the entry point used by the assault team that backlights and silhouettes assaulters from inside the room. Remember, what the target can see, he can shoot. Once operators begin to enter, they must get out of the fatal funnel as quickly as possible.

After the shooting stops, security is still an immediate concern. All personnel in the crisis site must be searched and secured as soon as possible. This includes known and unknown targets as well as innocents. Targets and other suspects must be restrained and segregated from known innocents.

The crisis site must also be searched for other potential threats; hidden personnel, explosives or hazardous materials. When searching, cabinets, closets, false ceilings, etc should not be overlooked . The important point here is to ensure that security is maintained throughout the operation.


CQB procedures are those actions necessary to dominate a crisis site, and eliminate the threat posed by the targets. There are two methods of entry in CQB; each has advantages and disadvantages depending on the mission.

Methods of EntryEdytuj

  • Slow and Deliberate (Typical Police Entry Method) - Most law enforcement building clearing operations are conducted in a slow and deliberate manner using ballistic shields and mirrors for searching. This affords the highest degree of safety and security for the police. This is a stop-and-go movement using static or limited penetration tactics for conventional room clearing.
  • Dynamic Entry (Typically used in military operations or hostage rescue in police ops) - Dynamic entry tactics must be more rapid and aggressive than conventional tactics if the team is going to reach the hostages in time to save their lives. Ideally, the assault is a continuous flow using overwhelming force that does not stop until the threat is eliminated and the crisis site is under team control.

Entry and Room DominationEdytuj

The following are specific rules of room clearing that must be followed for the assaulters to survive and be successful in its CQB operations.

  • Enter the doorway (get out of the fatal funnel)
  • Clear the immediate threat
  • Clear the corners
  • Move to points of domination
  • Establish over-lapping fields of fire.

Enter the DoorwayEdytuj

As each assaulter makes entry through the breaching point, he must not stop or delay. He should continue to move out of the doorway to his respective sector, so that he is not silhouetted or backlit from the door.

Clear Immediate Threat AreaEdytuj

Each individual will clear the immediate threat area, within two meters, in the direction that he is moving. The assaulters are identifying hostile persons and physically clearing any obstructions that may impede entry by the rest of the assault team. This function is performed while the assaulter is moving in his respective lane.

Clear the CornersEdytuj

The corners nearest to the entry point are the most dangerous part of the room, because as soon as you take one step into the room, the near corners are already behind you. Therefore, those corners must be cleared immediately upon entry.

The first two assaulters to enter the room will generally be responsible for clearing the corners. These assaulters will scan the immediate threat area as they are entering the room, then immediately shift their focus and muzzles to their respective corners as they are traveling in their lanes.

Depending on the size of the room and location of the door, they may or may not move beyond the corners before pivoting to cover the center of the room.

Move to Points of DominationEdytuj

Points of domination are locations inside the room where assaulters can cover and control all personnel (targets, innocents and unknowns) in that room. Each assaulter that enters the room on initial entry will assume a position of domination after clearing his sector.

Establish Overlapping Fields of FireEdytuj

Over-lapping fields of fire are achieved when each assaulter has cleared his sector, stopped his movement at a point of domination, and can safely scan the majority of the room without covering his teammates with the muzzle of his weapon. This allows the assaulters to re-enforce each other and provides a redundancy in coverage on the threat areas.

The general rule that applies is do not point your muzzle any closer than one meter to any of your teammates.

CQB is a method of conducting room combat. MOUT refers to urban warfare, but while MOUT refers mainly to the macro of it (i.e. sending troops, using of heavy armoured fighting vehicles, battle management), CQB refers to the micro of it—namely: how a small squad of infantry troops should fight in rooms or confined spaces within an urban environment.

As a doctrine, CQB concerns topics such as:

It may include lethal and nonlethal methods across a "spectrum of violence" or within a "continuum of force" as established by rules of engagement. It should be noted that the U.S. Army's definition for these terms is MOUT, as their definition of CQB is actually CQM, and focuses solely on marksmanship techniques.


Military uses of close quarters battle vary by unit type, branch and mission. Military operations other than war (MOOTW) may involve peacekeeping or riot control. Specialized forces such as the U.S. Coast Guard may adapt CQB tactics to their specific needs, e.g. for the boarding of small vessels at sea. Hostage rescue or extraction by commando troops such as the British Special Air Service, Delta Force or U.S. Navy SEALs may involve even more esoteric adaptations or variations, depending on specialized environments, weapons technology, political considerations or a mixture of friendly, unfriendly or civilian personnel.

Armies that often engage in urban warfare operation may train most of their infantry in basic CQB doctrine as it relates to common tasks such as building entry, "clearing a room" and concussion and other grenades.


Domestically, police crisis response teams (CRTs) are the primary groups to engage in CQB. Situations involving the potential for CQB generally involve extraordinary threats outside of conventional police capabilities, and thus CRTs are specifically organized, equipped, and trained to respond to these situations. These situations often require the special tactics and techniques involving building entry and room clearing procedures that are the hallmarks of CQB.

Police CQB doctrine is also specialized by unit type and mission. Riot control, corrections and SWAT teams, for example, each have different goals, but may make use of similar tactics and technology such as non-lethal force. A prison, for example, may have a squad which specializes in high-risk cell extractions, and psychiatric hospitals or wards often have similar specialized teams. Among the "less-than-lethal" tools and tactics central to police CQB are electroshock guns, pepper spray, riot shields and riot guns to fire tear gas, rubber bullets, plastic bullets or beanbag rounds. All so-called "less-than-lethal" weapons can inflict injuries which may cause death.

Private IndustryEdytuj

Private corporations engaged in security or military operations overseas maintain internal CQB teams. These teams might, for example, be responsible for responding to an incident at a facility operated by a government agency who has engaged the contractor's services. That team would then act as the Crisis Response Team (CRT) and "clear" the facility of threats or hostiles. In another example, Military corporations or Private military contractor might be employed to provide protection for high-ranking diplomats or military officers in war zones.

See alsoEdytuj

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