Timothy McVeigh’s final statement to the court was that the government instructs us by its example. For the purposes of the kind of events which the ShieldWall Phalanx will initially be deployed, that is, public rallies, protests, and demonstrations, a study of law enforcement small unit tactics, particularly those of riot police in crowd control, are more immediately appropriate than a study of small unit infantry tactics.

Moving in formation, as a unit, listening for and obeying commands without question or hesitation, and disciplined entry and withdrawal from conflict theaters are integral aspects of ShieldWall Phalanx training.

For examples, if one member of the group is attacked, those ShieldWall Phalanx nearest to them will respond. If a Phalanx member or ally is pulled out of the group by contact with the enemy, a shielded ‘flying wedge’ formation will penetrate the opposing crowd, regain their comrade, and withdraw back to the main body in formation. Likewise, if the ShieldWall is penetrated by an enemy attacker, it will open a gap, close back around the enemy in envelopment by both flanks moving up to surround them, deal with the attacker, and then briefly open again to expel them. (We aren’t exercising arrests.)

In the accompanying diagram of how riot police operate in small units, the formation is described: “When a riot is in full swing, police will deploy in a square formation with a command team at the center. The command team is protected on all four sides by echelons of troops deployed in groups of 10 or 12 officers. There is also an arrest team at the center of the square.”

For ShieldWall Phalanx purposes, the designated  “gas officers” will be replaced by security for leadership, and the “arresting officers” will serve as reserves to react to any enemy which penetrates the front or rear echelons. In that way, both the front and rear echelon ShieldWalls can remain solid and unbroken, and penetration issues be dealt with by the reserves. This is how law enforcement riot police tactics, which are really just adaptations of ancient Greek, Roman, and Northern European infantry warfare, can be tweaked for ShieldWall Phalanx use.

I encourage ShieldWall Phalanx members to read the referenced article and think about how these tactics can be applied to our formations and actions.

This tactical unit is very mobile and able to adapt on the fly to changes in the situation. If a threat suddenly appears behind or to one side of the unit, then the echelon facing that direction is designated the front of the unit. The entire team can then change the direction it’s facing without a lot of maneuvering. Also, the echelons can cover each other when the team moves to take advanced positions. If the unit is under attack, the whole team does not move together: One echelon moves while the others provide covering fire or an actual physical screen (with riot shields). Then another echelon moves up into position.

How the ShieldWall Phalanx can train: In addition to learning the above pictured formation, and how to move in that formation, the ShieldWall Phalanx will practice using the formation in drills.

To train in the use of their gear and to gain confidence in the protection it provides, crowd control units have “practice riots.” The Cheektowaga Police Department uses an abandoned hockey arena for theirs. The unit is split into two teams — the Crowd Management Unit and the rioters. The rioters spend a few minutes throwing whatever is handy at their fully armored fellow officers, including 2x4s, hockey pucks, rocks and bricks. Once the officers have learned that their protective gear really works, they get to “control” the rioters. One officer admitted that while the practice is valuable for many reasons, “it’s also pretty fun.”