Night-fighting is more than just a skill, it is an art. Anyone can hide in the dark; however, being able to use the shadows to distort your form and hide in plain sight takes real expertise. Very few people can move from shadow to shadow without being seen, but it is possible.
Darkness is a place of uncertainty for
humans. The fear of the dark that we experience is largely due to the knowledge that most predators hunt at night. Whether those predators are humans or beasts makes no difference; the fear is the same. The fear of the dark is called nyctophobia. It is common in children and exists in everyone to a certain extent. It can be a crippling fear and must be overcome if you are going to become a competent night fighter.
To adequately discuss night-fighting I will have to explain function of the eye a little, so that you can take full advantage of the techniques presented. Our eyes are responsible for eighty percent of the input that our brains receive. Low light levels significantly decrease the amount of input available for our brains to process. As a result, humans are at a disadvantage in low
The human eye contains cones which see color and rods which see black and white. The rods are what provide our night vision. In order to see at night the rods in our eyes produce what is called rhodopsin or visual purple. It takes about forty minutes for the rods to reach their maximum sensitivity. The sensitivity varies depending upon age, health, diet, and environment. For example, in an urban setting your eyes may never reach maximum sensitivity due the constant presence of light – both natural and artificial.
The unfortunate aspect of visual purple is that it can be destroyed by light. This means that things like car headlights, flashlights, and flash bangs can wipe out our visual purple, making us temporarily blind in the dark.
Visual purple begins to regenerate immediately. Over the course of forty minutes your eyes will become more and more sensitive until they reach their peak. At their peak sensitivity, your eyes are 30,000 times more sensitive to light. The only problem is that until those forty minutes expire you are not seeing at your best in the dark.
The fact that light destroys visual purple can work to your advantage as well. For instance, you might wait until a car goes through a gate and flashes the sentry’s eyes with the headlights before you attempt to penetrate an installation. Or you might use the age old trick of throwing a rock over the sentry’s head in order to make him look in the direction of a light, thus destroying his visual purple. This will allow you to slip by while he is temporarily blind.
You will have to move even when your enemy is not blind. To do this requires a lot of skill. If you keep certain details in mind as you move you will have more success. First, always be mindful of shadows. As the night progresses the position of the moon is going to change. This means shadows are going to get longer and shorter and, in some cases, disappear altogether. For example, if you go up a road that is concealed in the shadows on one side, chances are very good that when you return those shadows won’t be there anymore. Before you go up the road, make sure you have a plan for getting back.
Make sure that you chose a new hiding spot before you leave your existing one. Also make sure that you have a route to travel. Don’t just take off running hoping to make it. Move with direction and decision. Planning is part
of good concealment. Without planning you might as well be a rabbit trying to escape a predator. Don’t be a rabbit!
In order to make it easier to hide in the shadows, do whatever you can to make your silhouette appear inhuman. If your silhouette is disguised, a sentry has a hard time distinguishing you from the background. A blanket can be very useful; you can pull it over yourself and look like a rock instead of a human. Keep your arms tucked against your sides to appear more like a tree and less like a person.
There are all kinds of things you can do to distort your silhouette. Be creative with
it. The more you distort your silhouette the easier it will be to hide among the shadows. Part of the purpose of Batman’s cape is to make his silhouette appear inhuman. I don’t recommend wearing a cape, however, as it is a problem in combat, and it can catch on things when trying to move quietly.
Your silhouette can work as a weapon too. You can create human-looking silhouettes by putting a t-shirt on a lamp or a tree. While your enemy is distracted by the fake silhouette, you can incapacitate them. You can also disguise your silhouette by putting on the enemy uniform and carrying the enemy’s weapon. Or a woman could make herself look like a man by putting on large padded clothing that hides her figure and makes her seem physically larger.
When fighting at night you should be prepared for all contingencies. It is not a matter of if something will go wrong; it is simply a matter of when. Be prepared to change your tactics quickly. Night-fighting increases the time it takes to make a decision. You can cut this time down by having a plan in place to deal with common problems.
It is important to be aware of lighting conditions and properties. If you understand them you can use them to your advantage. Surveying your environment and making decisions regarding the light will help you remain invisible and make the most strategic moves possible.
Light comes in four different levels. These four levels are bright, medium, low, and none. Each of these levels has advantages and disadvantages.
Bright light can be detrimental to your eyesight. This light can also be referred to as blinding light, depending on the level of intensity. A bright light on you makes you easy to see and makes it hard for you to see your enemy. A bright light on your enemy makes it easy to see your enemy and hard for the enemy to see you.
Medium light is essentially the ideal light level. It allows you to see color and depth. This makes it easy for you to identify and neutralize targets.
Low light makes it difficult for you to see. At this level of lighting you are no
longer seeing color and depth. Your night vision is being used and, for the most part, you are seeing silhouettes. This can make it difficult to identify and neutralize targets.
None refers to having no light with which to see. This happens in locations like caves or rooms with no windows and no lights. This is a particularly dangerous situation. Here, being able to apply the use of a personal light source can be advantageous. Once you can see, however, so can your enemy.
DRESSING FOR THE NIGHT
You will want to dress appropriately for night time operations. You’ll need to wear soft, well-fitting clothes. If you wear the
wrong clothes, they will betray you. Starched clothes swish, and baggy clothes could snag.
You will need to blouse your pant-legs by tying a string around your pant-legs at your ankles. This will help to avoid noise and keep them from catching. You should limit the amount of equipment you carry. The more weight on you the slower you will move and the more likely you are to make noise.
If you have to scale a fence with a duffle bag full of equipment, you’re in trouble
. You have few good options. Carrying the duffle bag over the fence will slow you down. Throwing the bag over the fence before you climb will make noise. My suggestion is: if you can’t carry it in your utility belt it doesn’t need to come with you.
RULES FOR SUCCESSFUL NIGHT – FIGHTING
Tactical night-fighting is a difficult skill to master. Certain rules, however, can assist in your training and execution of the tactics described above.
First of all, the acronym OODA can be very helpful. OODA refers to Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. Under normal circumstances applying OODA is difficult. Under night conditions it becomes even more difficult. Your ability to observe is limited by the light level, thus making it more difficult to orient yourself to the situation. The confusion generated by the darkness makes it more difficult to decide on actions, thus the speed at which you act is greatly decreased. That is why training and practice is so important.
This next rule is applicable to any
situation but is particularly important while fighting at night. “Don’t turn your back on anything you haven’t checked.” Fight at Night pg. 146. When it is dark, it is easier for your enemy to hide and move, so it is necessary to make sure you have adequately checked everything before you turn your back on it.
Finally, darkness is the ally of anyone carrying a bladed weapon. Darkness can allow someone with a knife to get close enough to use it. Darkness can make it difficult to see a knife, and if the enemy accomplishes deploying this weapon quietly, he is one step closer to using it. It also works in reverse though. If you can deploy your knife quietly and get close enough to use it, then you have the advantage.
This is an excerpt from my book but it goes along with the next post, so I thought that I would include it.