'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

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Ryan
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'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by Ryan » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:30 am

Recent modern games and films over-promote the use of 'stealth' kills... be it with a knife to the neck at close range, a silenced pistol round to the forehead or breaking a neck from behind. The trend has become that popular that acradey 'one hit' knife kills are everywhere. Sneak up, strike! Run and gun, run out of ammunition? Strike once and they're down. Now we know that is beyond bollocks and based off nothing of realistic substance but it lead me to wonder how a stealth kill would actually work and under what conditions.

One point you have to make is the definition of stealth is adjustable to situation. Stealth may mean not getting caught, not setting off an alarm/alert as examples. They are two separate issues. If someone screams or shouts but is taken down and does not alert anyone else, stealth is maintained. The only floating factor is how can you be sure? Another definition is kill. Games and movies tend to promote 'insta-kills' in which the target dies instantaneously but defining kill may be defining what anatomical locations need hit and how. An example is I looked up the force needed to break a neck, and in reality it's a lot of force on certain pressure points within the human anatomy.




The media tends to under-promote quality and realistic elements. The method of which they 'dispatch' a person is almost always questionable as seen in the videos above.

These typical conditions you see in movies, games and other media tend to be sneaking up from behind on a lone sentry, usually distracted or not paying attention to kill in a way considering 'stealthy'. If this was the case there are multiple patterns to consider.

Terrain Analysis: What kind of terrain am I moving on? What kind of angle? Does the target have line of sight against me?

The Approach: Where am I moving to? Where does the attempt begin?

The Target: What is he going? Are there any compromise indicators such as stiffness, locking up, hesitation or sudden movements? Targets in movies and games tend to be half-blind, half-deaf pre-occupied sentries.

You: How are you moving there? Do you have a path mentally laid out? How do you plan on taking the target down? What weapon do you have? Movies tend to show the lone warrior hidden in the bushes by his one streak of camouflage layer paint, knife in mouth crouch-walking in the bushes.

The Weapon: What kind of weapon and technique to use? There are numerous. Some specific, some unrealistic. Movies depict anything from piano wire or a garrote to a tomahawk being used.

The Attempt: How do you take them down? In the movies there are numerous shown take-downs and 'kill scenes' and nearly all of them differ from another. That tends to be the trademark approach.

Contingency planning and condition responses included. Example: Compromise one meter from target, run up and take down. Target tries to scream, go at the neck and mouth. Does a hand over the mouth really help? There's more ways than one, that's for sure.

There's almost always cases we didn't expect to find or encounter, such as the approach. If you're on sand you may kick up dust, you may disturb sign and compromise yourself. After looking into more conditions of compromise of stealth such as screaming, the rush of air due to a knife take-down I found some sources on how to prevent such. They included cutting at the voice box or towards it, spinal mobilization pre-neck engagement, brain box knife thrusts, going for a certain artery to shorten consciousness time and positioning the head on a downwards tilt to minimize noise. There's numerous ways to do something, it seems in the melee setting there's numerous ways, and a few thousand more. You can easily combine techniques, modify them and adjust on the fly.

It all sounds pretty brutal, and it would be. I've read numerous articles, reports and general information on these events. Many occurred during World War 2 where sentry killing was common practice, common enough for German guards to adjust weapon carry to prevent sneak attacks on their person, and since then it's become fewer and fewer but still the potential for and actuality of the event is always there and has been in every theater we've stepped into.

With the new kind of urban, insurgency and civil warfare in play there has been more events of not stealth but reactionary use of 'melee' weaponry such as a blade or bayonet during situations involving jamming, struggles, no ammunition or limited ammunition but the factor of stealth remains to be seen or detailed. Is there still room or has it been pushed out? Under what circumstance may it work or not work? I mean it's more likely to be done on guard dogs rather than humans!
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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by civiliansheepdog » Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:17 am

I believe stealth kills are doable and pretty sure it's been done numerous times. We all human beings have pretty good hearing sense and can detect a noise easily. So if you're going to do a stealth kill, you got be real quiet and hope that target dies instantly without compromising yourself. Also I believe if you do a stealth kill it seems more a "emotional attachment" because you're getting close to your target and when you do the act, the target will be in agony, kicking and screaming, and then feeling your target just stop and drop in a "bloody" mess.

What I found interesting when watching movies with stealth kills is when the person uses a knife to slice the throat of a target, that target might still have a chance to live if it isn't done properly. But if the knife were to enter from the side of the neck and doing a ripping cut(push in and pull across the neck) instead of a slice cut, I think the target will instantly die in seconds instead of minutes or 5 minutes. That Rambo clip I can see it totally happening.

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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by Ryan » Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:25 am

Oh, I agree with you, for certain doable and there has been reports on these events that have occurred. However rare, it's there, no need for a reality check. The use of melee weaponry more commonly so than specifically a 'stealth kill'. For example semi-recent events in Afghanistan and Iraq occurred the use of knifes and improvised weapons, rarely so, rare enough to sell books on the subject matter - but 'stealth killing' in particular, an even rarer subcategory.

You bring up some good points on the definition of stealth in terms of 'quietness.' The target dying instantly all depends on anatomical location of the strike and the variables around the strike. As stated in 'Fairbairn's timetable of death' some of the wound types are very close, borderline instantly, debilitating to the point of unconsciousness. Others may take less than two seconds, some less targeted areas going above that into the minutes before loss of consciousness and eventually death from exsanguination. Without behavioural defaults, contingency events in place drama can occur and lead to a failed kill or a compromise as you say.

Image
"You could compare it to navigation in an age where the GPS has replaced the trusty compass. However knowing how to use a compass if your GPS is not an option could be the difference between life and death." - Tank Todd

... http://www.fighttimes.com/magazine/maga ... rticle=969 ...

I believe there are many misconceptions around stealth killing in this exact category, for example slitting the throat does not mean instantly quiet - the escape of air and blood makes noise. A better example is someone I talked to recently who had the idea that puncturing the lung would stop any screaming. I had to remind him humans have two lungs... :lol: But that's just another good point on the reality check, and seen modified in approach with 'two-man takedowns' and other techniques to minimize risk of that kind of exposure. Compare that to the said movies and games, some of which promote these fantasy ideas of 'Ninja rolls' and cartwheels. That doesn't mean it CAN'T happen, possibility and chance are always there, but the likelihood of realistic use and success predicts lesser survivability and therefore a nullified view of it.

Human senses and perception is another deep topic. How do you limit your noise profile for example? Does ambient noise help? There are many ways to do with how to actually walk in a silent fashion, your terrain analysis and adjustment. Bending the knees and walking on the edge of your feet and lower the noise spread is a way of doing such. Another example is minimizing chance of detection through vision via camouflage, lowering your profile and overall trying not to look like anything humanely recognizable. I liked the part in the recent movie 'Sherlock Holmes' where-by Sherlock analyzes the target for a few seconds, or even sometimes at a glance, and considers known or most likely factors of the person, "Head cocked to the left, partial deafness to the ear - first point of attack. Two - throat, paralyze vocal cords, stop screaming. Three - got to be a heavy drinker" as he continues to hit the liver and take the person down with a final swipe to the patella. It's just a very good example of the analytic make-up pre-fight, that can be applied... in realistic, not Hollywood way... to your target through the way he acts. His direction of view, stiffness or relaxed states, change of states and so on. This is all done on approach.

Image
"Oh Shit Situations"

Emotional attachment is just that point. The way it affects the attacker, you have to kind of literally be mental for a moment - a psychopathetic response, the animal instinct, the killer instinct? Or is it the fact you have to learn to ignore? To be trained on killing at that level I agree demands new and unique training opportunities. An example goes with combat medics too, taught on pigs, donated bodies and - to the Special Forces - apparently, rumored, alive dogs. 'Get used to killing, violence, blood and gore' is easier said than done. You don't want to be a first time virgin who has just cut someone open then throws up all over the floor. That brings questions such as - already a killer, does that make it easier? Exposed to violence, does that? The kind of 'combatives' training conducted are mainly scenario training events, so you physically and mentally have that image of being able to do it, as exampled in the below video.


"Lock horns, go fight."

I also agree the target may still live, and may still fight back. As you know a stealth attack in any form gives initial advantage to the attacker. Be it in Afghanistan, presence patrol to suddenly get shot at to an example event of a sentry extermination, surprise is an advantage. People are shocked, stunned, momentarily paralyzed for some. The brain has to comprehend, 'Oh shit, this is actually happening' and put it in to play. That goes with the ATTACKER too, he has to say, 'Oh shit I'm actually doing this, I never thought I would'. I fully agree too that 'slicing' is a thing for movies, ripping apart the whole anatomy of the neck is a strategy as is aiming specifically for the larynx to deliver damage to the vocal cords. First note: destroy the airway. Still moving? Destroy the spine, you can thrust all the way to the spine from the neck area. Compare this to hand-to-hand, where there is more chance for failure, especially with pain techniques such as fingers in the eyes. That's probably why 'breaking necks' is a main Hollywood feature, because it's less of a spontaneous compromise response but more a struggle with control.

These kinds of counter-measures are brutal and violent but great to avoid unnecessary events such as screaming. The Rambo clip is an example of an event where by the enemy is focused on something else, that is probably why 'stealth kills' are best known in reconnaissance units and Special Forces, due to the fact they're where they're not expected and the enemy is often pre-occupied. Specifically going into sentries there because it's a boring job, when you're tired, cold and keeping yourself entertained mentally. Then again it goes into the advantage of the sentry because they remain quiet... normally... and nowadays it tends to be SOP to have two on duty.

Sorry for the long reply but it's a very interesting topic. Similar could be said about pistols, specifically the Welrod. :lol:
CQB-TEAM Education and Motivation.

"Pragmatism over theory."
"Anyone with a weapon is just as deadly as the next person."
"Unopposed CQB is always a success, if you wanted you could moonwalk into the room holding a Pepsi."

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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by civiliansheepdog » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:29 am

Yeah good post. I'd rather read a long post that makes sense and backed up, instead of a keyboard warrior answer and some relationship to a movie or a C.O.D moment hahahha

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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by tacticalguy » Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:22 am

1) Gerber Mark IV from behind, overhand down between collarbone and scapula on the left side, angling towards the body's center, the dagger is then rocked back and forth, front to back, slicing the heart multiple times and the aortic arch to hamburger.
2) Piano wire or wire saw garrote from behind, wire looped before it goes over the target's head, pull the loop tight while executing a half pivot and crouching down to draw the target across your hip and lower back, pulling down hard. This will virtually decapitate the target because the wire won't stop until it reaches the vertebra.

Both of those work. What many won't tell you is that for a true stealth kill, you need a second person to catch the falling weapon as you "manage" the target. Also, you've just become covered in bio-hazardous waste and now need to be de-conned. The Hi-Standard OSS .22 pistol with silencer and subsonic rounds, a "Hushpuppy" is a better choice, often.
If you have `cleared' all the rooms and met no resistance, you and your entry team have probably kicked in the door of the wrong house.
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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by Ryan » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:50 pm

I agree, shooters first and foremost. There's always that line of the news at 10 o'clock, "Police shoot knife wielding man." Same principle. Without stealth you resort to aggression, violence. With stealth you resort to control, timing - but both are difficult and very much individually challenging. Without stealth or surprise on your side at up-close ranges or with short ranged weaponry, melee weaponry, then chances drop significantly. That said, it's not that it can't be done - exampled by what LINES expresses during room clearance with jams, ammunition dry spots and pistol holster issues.

I 100% agree too that with rocking the blade back and forth. When people say twisting I can't see an extensive cavity created compared with a rocking and jarring motion. You can have a single area of penetration but once the object moves within that created cavity it causes extensive damage to the surrounding tissue. The point of these 'low velocity penetrating injuries' is that they're not linear like a gunshot wound may be if it doesn't yaw, tumble - just a through-and-through - but to create a cavity then thrash it around to make an even bigger one.

Someone said to me it's better to go for the spine, through the back of the neck instead of the airway, what do you think TG? We already know the noise made from cutting open the airway - the rush of blood and air needs to be controlled by tilting the head forward. Straight to the spine ignores those issues but needs a deeper thrust to penetrate. Is it reliable?

The only times I can imagine, and kind of compare with reality to real events that have occurred, is that SLEEPING sentries are the only credible stealth kills you're going to make without the huge risk association. I've heard of stories of SEALs during training trying to sneak up on each other... half a day later they finally said, "Yeah, suppressed weapon to the head." Spontaneous reaction in reality were just too common. Sleep is a great factor in your favor during this event, or any at that. As is noise, ambient noise or distraction. As is a sentry not concentrating or totally unaware. Fuck it, a deaf and blind one too while we're at it. ;)
CQB-TEAM Education and Motivation.

"Pragmatism over theory."
"Anyone with a weapon is just as deadly as the next person."
"Unopposed CQB is always a success, if you wanted you could moonwalk into the room holding a Pepsi."

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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by tacticalguy » Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:00 pm

Ryan wrote:Someone said to me it's better to go for the spine, through the back of the neck instead of the airway, what do you think TG? We already know the noise made from cutting open the airway - the rush of blood and air needs to be controlled by tilting the head forward. Straight to the spine ignores those issues but needs a deeper thrust to penetrate. Is it reliable?
Poignard (dagger) straight into the notch at the top of the spine was the method that medieval assassins favored. If the blade's profile was small enough and the entry was hidden by the hairline, it was hard for many to understand how a normally healthy man might just drop dead.
Ryan wrote:The only times I can imagine, and kind of compare with reality to real events that have occurred, is that SLEEPING sentries are the only credible stealth kills you're going to make without the huge risk association. I've heard of stories of SEALs during training trying to sneak up on each other... half a day later they finally said, "Yeah, suppressed weapon to the head." Spontaneous reaction in reality were just too common. Sleep is a great factor in your favor during this event, or any at that. As is noise, ambient noise or distraction. As is a sentry not concentrating or totally unaware. Fuck it, a deaf and blind one too while we're at it. ;)
Sleeping is good. Coming in at about 0430 when the Circadian rhythm is typically at it's lowest ebb and your alertness level is waning is also good. That's the reason for "stand to" during WWI, in the trenches at dawn and dusk, ya know.
If you have `cleared' all the rooms and met no resistance, you and your entry team have probably kicked in the door of the wrong house.
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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by Ryan » Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:46 am

I meant to say, on sleeping sentry removal recently, apparently members of TF42 (UKSF) killed Taliban sentries, who were sleeping, with their knifes during a kill or capture mission in Afghanistan.

Yes, the British Army still stand-to. That vulnerable point for sneak attack, you have to be in a state of absolute readiness. "Soldiers in defensive positions were woken in the dark before dawn, so by the time first light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert, and manning their weapons; this is still known as the “stand-to”. As dusk is equally favourable for attacks, the stand-to was repeated at sunset."

As per Robert Rangers' Rules of Ranging:
"At night, keep half your force awake while half sleeps."
"Don't sleep beyond dawn. Dawn's when the French and Indians attack."
CQB-TEAM Education and Motivation.

"Pragmatism over theory."
"Anyone with a weapon is just as deadly as the next person."
"Unopposed CQB is always a success, if you wanted you could moonwalk into the room holding a Pepsi."

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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by Ryan » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:11 pm

Interesting comments by someone via Reddit:

"I was at a 2 month exercise with a Special Forces team and the medic was a 35ish year old PA. Decided one day to just be a badass. Tired of working in hospitals. I remember him getting really excited teaching us how to properly snap someones neck by pulling the head straight to set an exact set of vertebrae and then how to twist and snap the vertebrae after they were set. He was like giddy about it."

"From my understanding, it means extend the neck upwards to align the vertebrae and remove some of the natural resilience to sideways and twisting motion, then twisting to damage or sever the connection between two of the vertebrae.

Or as Andy McNab puts it "like screwing the lid off a jam jar".

Pull and twist, rather than media's "quick snap". You'd just give them whiplash."
CQB-TEAM Education and Motivation.

"Pragmatism over theory."
"Anyone with a weapon is just as deadly as the next person."
"Unopposed CQB is always a success, if you wanted you could moonwalk into the room holding a Pepsi."

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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by tacticalguy » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:59 pm

Ryan wrote:Interesting comments by someone via Reddit:

"I was at a 2 month exercise with a Special Forces team and the medic was a 35ish year old PA. Decided one day to just be a badass. Tired of working in hospitals. I remember him getting really excited teaching us how to properly snap someones neck by pulling the head straight to set an exact set of vertebrae and then how to twist and snap the vertebrae after they were set. He was like giddy about it."

"From my understanding, it means extend the neck upwards to align the vertebrae and remove some of the natural resilience to sideways and twisting motion, then twisting to damage or sever the connection between two of the vertebrae.

Or as Andy McNab puts it "like screwing the lid off a jam jar".

Pull and twist, rather than media's "quick snap". You'd just give them whiplash."
Side benefit is that even if you don't completely break the neck, you will likely tear the internal carotid. That means that you "ride" the person down to the ground or floor and hold onto them while they exsanguinate.
If you have `cleared' all the rooms and met no resistance, you and your entry team have probably kicked in the door of the wrong house.
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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by Ryan » Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:48 am

tacticalguy wrote:Side benefit is that even if you don't completely break the neck, you will likely tear the internal carotid. That means that you "ride" the person down to the ground or floor and hold onto them while they exsanguinate.
You just gave me the chills.
CQB-TEAM Education and Motivation.

"Pragmatism over theory."
"Anyone with a weapon is just as deadly as the next person."
"Unopposed CQB is always a success, if you wanted you could moonwalk into the room holding a Pepsi."

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Re: 'Stealth Killing': Fact or Fiction?

Post by tacticalguy » Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:32 pm

Ryan wrote:
tacticalguy wrote:Side benefit is that even if you don't completely break the neck, you will likely tear the internal carotid. That means that you "ride" the person down to the ground or floor and hold onto them while they exsanguinate.
You just gave me the chills.
Sorry. It works, though.
If you have `cleared' all the rooms and met no resistance, you and your entry team have probably kicked in the door of the wrong house.
(Murphy's Cop Laws)

The greatest enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan. (Von Clausewitz)

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