SWAT Tips for Pubbers--Stairwell Safety

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SWAT Tips for Pubbers--Stairwell Safety

Stairways can be dangerous due to the multiple angles that need to be cleared. It is always preferable to descend rather than to ascend, for that very reason. Another critical reason is that tacaids like frag grenades work better when dropped from above. It's very tricky to deploy a frag over your head and hope it doesn't deflect off a rail or wall and come back on your team!

You may have an element behind you, however, stairwells can generally be cleared by two people. Support is preferred for managing doorways you will be bypassing.

As the pointman, to minimize your exposure to those many angles above you, climb (or ascend) stairwells from as close to the wall as you can while still giving your coverman an angle at the landing or any openings on your immediate 6 o'clock. You are only moving forward until there is a ledge or landing over your head that forces you to move up the stairs backwards. Take the stairs slowly and check all new areas thoroughly.

While the pointman is moving backwards, the coverman will move up close to him in nearly a chest-to-chest formation. The coverman will be positioned to the side of the pointman that gives him the best view of the doorway or landing that the pointman can no longer cover.

The key to this is moving only as fast as you can safely clear things that become visible to you.

As you reach the next landing and continue up the stairwell, the EL must leave a trailing man on each uncleared doorway or floor, or must have the uncleared doorways wedged, if possible. Generally, the EL or back-up will wedge or stay behind. It's best to avoid using the pointman, coverman or rear guard to place wedges in the stairwell.

It is always best to traverse to the top of the stairwell and clear the upper floors before clearing the lower floors.

If it's not possible to secure a door leading to a stairwell, it's best to leave a man to cover it. Prevent movement of tangos through the structure whenever possible.

As opposed to ascending, it's good to control the center of the stairwell shaft when descending. Hugging the rail as close as you can without flagging your weapon over the edge. You do not want to give the tangos any indication of your present location.

When descending, take full advantage of your ability to deploy tactical aids when the situation calls for it.

When descending it can be advantageous to use some form of leapfrogging your way down. The pointman can hold on a good vantage point while the rest of his team passes behind him. When the coverman stops at the next good vantage point and begins covering, the pointman can now catch up with the element and become the new rear guard and so on until you reach the bottom of the stairwell.

When you get to the bottom, don't forget to clear the area under the final set of stairs. It's a great ambush point. The person who reaches the bottom first, should clear this blind spot as soon as he gets cover from the second man down the stairs, who will now be watching the doorway that is at the bottom of the stairwell.


Lt. Col (Retired)

22nd [SAS] Elite Virtual Regiment



Last seen: 8 years 12 months ago

This is good for RVS as well

22nd SAS Elite Virtual Regiment

Last seen: 10 years 10 months ago

Seen some of these techniques in a USMC handbook somewhere. It's good to break up the stairs into inner, centre and outer lanes too for travel and coverage purposes. Nice article.

My idea of CQB is running in with a sword.