Five Rules of Room Clearing

The urban warfare faced by our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated the need for effectively searching a building with the fewest number of soldiers possible. The outcome of this need is a proven Close Quarters Battle (CQB) technique currently in use by many tactical units to more safely and effectively enter a room.

The principle is kept simple by design and is built upon five principles to be followed every time a room is entered. Called the Five Rules of Room Clearing, these are, in order: 1) through the door, 2) clear your near corner, 3) run your wall, 4) collapse your sector, and 5) communicate.

This simple technique can be employed with just two officers. Accordingly, this technique should be trained and practiced with just two operators in an effort to ingrain the importance of following the Five Rules as well as preparing for ‘the worst case-scenario’, two officers facing an immediate threat such as an active shooter scenario.

    

 

Rule #1

Through the door

The doorway is called the ‘Fatal Funnel’ for good reason. It’s the channel by which we need to pass but is also the likely focal point of any potential adversary lying in wait. Whenever officers line up at the room they are preparing to enter, they should not spend too much time waiting to go in nor should they telegraph their presence with needless talking or even carelessly exposing the tip of a rifle across an open doorway.

Upon getting a signal (usually a non-verbal signal such as a triceps or shoulder squeeze), the number one officer should immediately enter the room by either crossing over the threshold to the opposite wall or button-hooking into the room along the same wall. At this point, the number two officer should be heads up and immediately enter the room in the opposite direction of travel as his teammate.

In order to keep this tactic as simple as possible and as easy to remember in a high-stress situation, part of this Rule is that the number officer is NEVER wrong with whatever direction he decides to enter the room. There is no need to remember fancy footwork or which way to go in any given situation, if the number one man gets a squeeze, he enters the room. It is as simple as that.

Whatever direction the first officer entered the room, it is incumbent on the number two officer to go in the opposite direction. If there is a third officer, he would go opposite the man in front of him and so on until all officers are through the door and into the room (More on three- and four-man room entries later.)

As the officers find themselves ‘stacked’ at the doorway, the number one officer should be keeping his eyes forward, both at the door to be entered and further down the hall if necessary. The number two man should be ready to enter immediately with his teammate whenever he gives the signal to enter the room.

 

Rule #2

Clear your near corner

As the first two officers enter the room, it is imperative to place a set of eyes and the muzzle of a weapon in each area of the room that may contain an adversary as quickly as possible. This needs to be methodical and it begins with each officer clearing the nearest corner he faces immediately upon entering the room.

 

Each of these tactics lends itself to the other. In order for this tactic to work effectively, the number two officer needs to enter directly behind the number one officer. Dynamically entering the room as a two-person team, and addressing their respective near corners, not only protects the officer facing the potential threat hidden in a corner, but also protects his partner’s back.

If a near threat is present upon entering the room, meaning someone just a few feet away, deal with this threat immediately before clearing the near corner. That means either a minimum of one round if armed or a well-placed arm check if unarmed. Do not get sucked into firefight or into addressing a potential threat deep in the room and ignoring the near corner. This point can usually be well illustrated during force-on-force scenario training.

Also, avoid watching the near corner for too long. It should only take a fraction of a second to recognize the near corner is clear. Once the near corner is cleared, then each officer needs to immediately progress into Rule 3 and Rule 4.

 

Rule #3

Run your wall

This rule emphasizes why it is imperative to train shooting while moving. Static range training is unrealistic and only develops potentially bad habits of standing still during a gunfight. Once both officers have cleared their near corners, they will continue moving

along the wall in their direction of travel along their respective wall only stopping once they reach their near corner or to a point of domination where the officers can still maintain visual communication with one another and have the best field of view of the contents of the room.

It is important to move along or ‘run’ only one wall. Do not change the direction of travel when a corner is reached. This tactic relies on each officer moving along the first wall only. While not actually running, the officers are moving at a speed where they can move while accurately engaging any targets.

It is harder to be hit as a moving target and it is imperative to take in as much of the room as possible as you enter. By moving or ‘running’ along the wall, the officer is able to keep moving while visually taking in the contents of the room. In order to effectively overwhelm and dominate the room, it’s important each operator accomplishes Rule 3 concurrently while conducting Rule 4.

 

Rule #4 – Collapse your sector

Rule 3 and Rule 4 are being performed simultaneously, which once again emphasizes the importance of practicing shooting-while-moving drills. While moving along their respective wall and with their eyes and a ready weapon, the officers will each scan the room toward one another stopping at a few feet from their teammate’s muzzle.

By collapsing to a few feet from their partner’s muzzle, the officers ensure three things: 1) an overlapping fan of ballistic attention to any armed adversaries; 2) two sets of eyes on any danger areas (furniture or any other obstacle potentially concealing an adversary); and 3) identifying any other tactical problems (such as additional doorways within the room), as well as preventing flagging each other with the muzzle of their weapons.

Remember, of course, do not let your muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

 

Recognize there are at least two officers in the room. This leads to Rule 5.

 

Rule #5 – Communicate

Whether or not the officers have encountered any hostilities, it is important to communicate with each other before moving on to another room or back into the hallway. A momentary ‘eyes on’ one another and a thumbs-up is usually enough to accomplish this. This is also the time any reloads or ammo and equipment consolidation should be done. Officers need to assure they are battle-ready before proceeding on to the rest of the structure.

Consider three-, four- or even more person room entries using this tactic. The first thing to keep in mind is nothing really changes except for Rule 2. If the third and fourth officers enter the room and clear their near corner, they have just covered their teammates with their muzzle. Instead, as they enter the room and go opposite the officer in front of them, they will clear to the center of the room first, and then clear both left and right, each time stopping a few feet off the nearest teammate’s muzzle.

There are some key points to consider as you practice the Five Rules of Room Clearing. Do not overpenetrate into the room. This should be considered during Rule 3. Always maintain a half an arm’s distance from the wall. Remember, always train for the worst-case scenario, a low-light or even total darkness scenario.

Teammates should know where one another are based on common knowledge of the tactic. If a teammate steps away from his wall into the center of the room without first communicating his intent, he could potentially cut off his partner’s field of fire or worse yet, potentially create a disastrous fratricide.

Remember to communicate any movement outside of the tactic. Rule 5 is built in for teammates to communicate with each other. This is the time to call out danger areas or any intent to move deeper into the room for a search.

 

Exit the room

On the subject of communication, have an established SOP on a method of communicating both into and out of a room. Whether it’s a triceps squeeze, shoulder squeeze or muzzle dip, teammates should always communicate into a room to ensure the second officer is right behind the first officer as well as communicating out of the room so no one officer gets left in a room alone.

Maintain a 360-degree security. The CQB environment is spherical. Threats can be found above and below you, for instance: in ceilings, closets, attics and crawl spaces.

Do not cross, pass, or turn your back on danger areas that could conceal a threat.

Unless another officer or officers were kept in the hall as forward facing or front security, it will be necessary to retake the hallway before proceeding to additional rooms. If the numbers allow it, try keeping someone in the hall (two if possible) maintaining forward facing security. If at all possible, try keeping an officer somewhere in the structure as rear security.

This tactic works just as well for center-fed rooms as well as corner-fed rooms. Keep the tactic simple and remember the number one officer is never wrong. Number two simply goes to the opposite direction of travel.

Remember, in order for this tactic to work it needs to be practiced. It’s simple and battle tested, but unless everyone is on board and knows what they are doing, then it’s as useless as arming an officer without any live-fire range training. Practice, practice, practice. Following and practicing these simple rules will give police officers a baseline of knowledge to fall back on whenever they find themselves faced with the common task of building entries.

 

Michael Fletcher is a former Deputy Sheriff, San Bernardino County, Calif. (14 years); CQB and firearms instructor (10 years). He is currently with a federal law enforcement agency.







Published in Tactical Response, Jan/Feb 2015

Rating : 0.9


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Comments

14 Comments

Huh?

Posted on : Mar 13 at 5:15 AM By T Dean

Where's the part where you throw a grenade or flash-bang in first?

2/75

Posted on : Nov 14 at 1:06 AM By Rich

In Response to RLTW........A lot of people are going to read all this and do whatever applies to their mission. I was in 2/75 and now Im on a major city swat team. Sure clearing from the outside can work, but it also keeps you in the most dangerous spot in the house, the hallway. Clearing rooms on a major city swat team works a little differently. If your serving a Narcotics warrant, speed and violence of action have to be on your side. You can not sit back and clear each room from the outside. Aside from all that, bullets go through drywall like butter, Do you want to hang out right outside the door hugging that wall for long? I don't think so.......RLTW

2/75

Posted on : Nov 14 at 1:05 AM By Rich

In Response to RLTW........A lot of people are going to read all this and do whatever applies to their mission. I was in 2/75 and now Im on a major city swat team. Sure clearing from the outside can work, but it also keeps you in the most dangerous spot in the house, the hallway. Clearing rooms on a major city swat team works a little differently. If your serving a Narcotics warrant, speed and violence of action have to be on your side. You can not sit back and clear each room from the outside. Aside from all that, bullets go through drywall like butter, Do you want to hang out right outside the door hugging that wall for long? I don't think so.......RLTW

2/75

Posted on : Nov 14 at 1:05 AM By Rich

In Response to RLTW........A lot of people are going to read all this and do whatever applies to their mission. I was in 2/75 and now Im on a major city swat team. Sure clearing from the outside can work, but it also keeps you in the most dangerous spot in the house, the hallway. Clearing rooms on a major city swat team works a little differently. If your serving a Narcotics warrant, speed and violence of action have to be on your side. You can not sit back and clear each room from the outside. Aside from all that, bullets go through drywall like butter, Do you want to hang out right outside the door hugging that wall for long? I don't think so.......RLTW

2/75

Posted on : Nov 14 at 1:05 AM By Rich

In Response to RLTW........A lot of people are going to read all this and do whatever applies to their mission. I was in 2/75 and now Im on a major city swat team. Sure clearing from the outside can work, but it also keeps you in the most dangerous spot in the house, the hallway. Clearing rooms on a major city swat team works a little differently. If your serving a Narcotics warrant, speed and violence of action have to be on your side. You can not sit back and clear each room from the outside. Aside from all that, bullets go through drywall like butter, Do you want to hang out right outside the door hugging that wall for long? I don't think so.......RLTW

Getting Into the room

Posted on : Sep 25 at 7:31 PM By Brandon

Granted, clearing as much as you can from a hallway is a grand idea and very persuasive, it allows for the members of the team to take contact from the foreseen hallway. In long hallways, it has been proven that threats will blind fire down hallways injuring/killing team members. With this happening there is only one gun in the fight. The point man covering the next threat being the open door, the second man covering the the front of the formation, third can potentially be a second gun in the fight but is now shooting from depth leaving more potential for blue on blue (this can be alleviated with an experienced team who has trained on this) and the last man, of course, covering everyones six. To get into the room as quickly as possible is not only safe for the rest of the team, allows more weapons in the fight, and allows the team to keep the speed, surprise and violence of action at its peak all without giving the threat time for his OODA Loop to take full cycle.

Getting Into the room

Posted on : Sep 25 at 7:31 PM By Brandon

Granted, clearing as much as you can from a hallway is a grand idea and very persuasive, it allows for the members of the team to take contact from the foreseen hallway. In long hallways, it has been proven that threats will blind fire down hallways injuring/killing team members. With this happening there is only one gun in the fight. The point man covering the next threat being the open door, the second man covering the the front of the formation, third can potentially be a second gun in the fight but is now shooting from depth leaving more potential for blue on blue (this can be alleviated with an experienced team who has trained on this) and the last man, of course, covering everyones six. To get into the room as quickly as possible is not only safe for the rest of the team, allows more weapons in the fight, and allows the team to keep the speed, surprise and violence of action at its peak all without giving the threat time for his OODA Loop to take full cycle.

Hallway vs Room

Posted on : Sep 25 at 7:30 PM By Brandon

Granted, clearing as much as you can from a hallway is a grand idea and very persuasive, it allows for the members of the team to take contact from the foreseen hallway. In long hallways, it has been proven that threats will blind fire down hallways injuring/killing team members. With this happening there is only one gun in the fight. The point man covering the next threat being the open door, the second man covering the the front of the formation, third can potentially be a second gun in the fight but is now shooting from depth leaving more potential for blue on blue (this can be alleviated with an experienced team who has trained on this) and the last man, of course, covering everyones six. To get into the room as quickly as possible is not only safe for the rest of the team, allows more weapons in the fight, and allows the team to keep the speed, surprise and violence of action at its peak all without giving the threat time for his OODA Loop to take full cycle.

Hallway vs Room

Posted on : Sep 25 at 7:30 PM By Brandon

Granted, clearing as much as you can from a hallway is a grand idea and very persuasive, it allows for the members of the team to take contact from the foreseen hallway. In long hallways, it has been proven that threats will blind fire down hallways injuring/killing team members. With this happening there is only one gun in the fight. The point man covering the next threat being the open door, the second man covering the the front of the formation, third can potentially be a second gun in the fight but is now shooting from depth leaving more potential for blue on blue (this can be alleviated with an experienced team who has trained on this) and the last man, of course, covering everyones six. To get into the room as quickly as possible is not only safe for the rest of the team, allows more weapons in the fight, and allows the team to keep the speed, surprise and violence of action at its peak all without giving the threat time for his OODA Loop to take full cycle.

Hallway vs Room

Posted on : Sep 25 at 7:30 PM By Brandon

Granted, clearing as much as you can from a hallway is a grand idea and very persuasive, it allows for the members of the team to take contact from the foreseen hallway. In long hallways, it has been proven that threats will blind fire down hallways injuring/killing team members. With this happening there is only one gun in the fight. The point man covering the next threat being the open door, the second man covering the the front of the formation, third can potentially be a second gun in the fight but is now shooting from depth leaving more potential for blue on blue (this can be alleviated with an experienced team who has trained on this) and the last man, of course, covering everyones six. To get into the room as quickly as possible is not only safe for the rest of the team, allows more weapons in the fight, and allows the team to keep the speed, surprise and violence of action at its peak all without giving the threat time for his OODA Loop to take full cycle.

Hallway vs Room

Posted on : Sep 25 at 7:30 PM By Brandon

Granted, clearing as much as you can from a hallway is a grand idea and very persuasive, it allows for the members of the team to take contact from the foreseen hallway. In long hallways, it has been proven that threats will blind fire down hallways injuring/killing team members. With this happening there is only one gun in the fight. The point man covering the next threat being the open door, the second man covering the the front of the formation, third can potentially be a second gun in the fight but is now shooting from depth leaving more potential for blue on blue (this can be alleviated with an experienced team who has trained on this) and the last man, of course, covering everyones six. To get into the room as quickly as possible is not only safe for the rest of the team, allows more weapons in the fight, and allows the team to keep the speed, surprise and violence of action at its peak all without giving the threat time for his OODA Loop to take full cycle.

Getting Into the room

Posted on : Sep 25 at 7:26 PM By Brandon

Granted, clearing as much as you can from a hallway is a grand idea and very persuasive, it allows for the members of the team to take contact from the foreseen hallway. In long hallways, it has been proven that threats will blind fire down hallways injuring/killing team members. With this happening there is only one gun in the fight. The point man covering the next threat being the open door, the second man covering the the front of the formation, third can potentially be a second gun in the fight but is now shooting from depth leaving more potential for blue on blue (this can be alleviated with an experienced team who has trained on this) and the last man, of course, covering everyones six. To get into the room as quickly as possible is not only safe for the rest of the team, allows more weapons in the fight, and allows the team to keep the speed, surprise and violence of action at its peak all without giving the threat time for his OODA Loop to take full cycle.

RLTW

Posted on : May 22 at 7:59 AM By Vardaro

Learn to fight from the door, you can clear 80 percent of the room from outside the room. Mitigate your risk, I agree the doorway is a dangerous place. Why are we teaching to push through. Stop, combat clear gain some insight into the room then move in as quickly as you can to clear what's left

RLTW

Posted on : May 22 at 7:59 AM By Vardaro

Learn to fight from the door, you can clear 80 percent of the room from outside the room. Mitigate your risk, I agree the doorway is a dangerous place. Why are we teaching to push through. Stop, combat clear gain some insight into the room then move in as quickly as you can to clear what's left

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