"There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter." - Ernest Hemingway
18 Series Bag Company – SITREP 18 – 02 April 2022
In 2016, my company was slated to take over the crisis response duty for the Baghdad Area of Responsibility (AOR). A recent AOR shift within Special Forces took Africa off our plate and put my company, C/2/10, back on the CENTCOM playbook. I traveled with our Operations Sergeant, Chris G, to Clarksville, Tennessee to meet our 5th Group counterparts, learn the rotation, and get a feel for what was expected. 5th Group had invested decades into that mission, and I felt that a little bit of historical context would prevent us from going in and trying to reinvent the wheel. When I arrived, I met some fella’s that I hadn’t seen since the Q course at Bragg. I was caught off guard by a couple of them because I remembered them having that city swagger, Yankee’s and Red Sox ballcaps, and sweet SUVs, only to find them at 5th Group over a decade later with a fishing hook on the beak of their ballcaps, bow-flauge seat covers on their lifted F-150s, and a three-finger pinch of Copenhagen in their bottom lip. When I asked one of them what had happened, he just smiled and said, ‘Clarksville, bro’.
SITREP 18 is the continuation of championing Green Beret entrepreneurs, here are three stories from 5th Special Forces Group (A).
On a recent call with my boo Kyle Lamb, we spoke about great business examples that were percolating from each of the Special Forces Groups. I asked him if he knew anyone from 5th SFG(A). Without missing a beat, Kyle said the name, Drew Estell. I didn’t even ask what he did, I just said OK. When a guy like Kyle tells me someone’s a good dude, I don’t even need to hear why. Kyle’s like Mr. French from the movie, The Departed, during the cranberry juice scene.
“Well, I’m the guy that tells you there are guys you can
hit and there’s guys you can’t. Now, that’s not quite a guy
you can’t hit, but it’s almost a guy can can’t hit. So, I’m
going to make a ****** ruling on this right now.
You don’t ****** hit him. Understand?"
I immediately researched Drew and gave him a call. Kyle was right, what a good dude. As it turns out, Drew and I grew up in SF with similar backgrounds and histories. He’s just like the best guys I had in my company as I came up. Drew spent years shooting and is constantly looking for ways to better himself, his team, and others. After medically retiring, Drew created Baer Solutions and developed unique approaches to training, incorporating cognitive stress to push students and train them in how to think as well as how to act, if or when the time comes. Baer Solutions has worked with local, state, and federal law enforcement, military, all the way to the other end of the spectrum with people from all walks of life who want to be better and more proficient. Drew even wrote a book on the subject, Process and Progress Pistol Training, available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Read the reviews if you don’t believe me, his training methodology is legit (then click ‘Buy-now’).
BAER Solutions is a Special Forces Veteran-owned training company that specializes in firearms training, CQB, Urban Survival, and medical training for professionals who carry a weapon for their job, enthusiasts, or just great Americans who wish to protect themselves and loved ones. Between the four instructors, BAER Solutions has developed their training through years as special operations assaulters, tactical medics, and survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) specialists.
I asked him what drove him to start Baer Solutions and he replied, “I knew I wanted to take these skills we learned and invest in others as they had invested in me. I started BAER Solutions in January of 2017 and have been very fortunate to work alongside men who were better than myself and have been able to train those who are still out doing great things.”
I’ll only write this once Kyle, you were right.
Modern Tactical Creations LLC, (MODTAC)
I met Dave by chance online (not on a dating site). Dave was a former 5th Grouper that had returned to his old stomping grounds in Colorado after his time in the Army. I had been kicking around a couple of ideas to bring our community together and pitched Dave some ideas. He drove down to the Springs for Friday night pizza night with my family and we spent the next couple of hours talking. I found out that Dave had a business partner, Jason, whom he had met on his ODA in 5th Group in 2008.
Over the next 5 years, they worked, lived, and deployed together as an 18C and 18E. Over their time on a team together, between conducting training and deployments they began to find deficiencies with equipment within the special operations community. They both began looking for ways to improve equipment and ways to acquire better mission essential gear.
In 2017, Modern Tactical Creations, LLC. was born with the simple goal of providing solutions to everyday tactical problems. They understood better than most the job, the environment, and its unique demands. They also know, too well, the annoyances, inconveniences, and problems faced by warfighters today. Because of that, they provide effective solutions to our law enforcement and military brethren.
The MODTAC flagship product over the last five years has been the suppressor shield, which is available in 3 mounting options, the MRAC- Modular Rail Attach Coupler Suppressor Shield, URAC – Universal Rail Attach Coupler Suppressor Shield, and the Original Direct Attach Suppressor Shield. These three lines of Suppressor Shields offer burn protection and mirage mitigation for nearly every firearm and suppressor on the market.
As the force Modernization OIC for 10th Group, I thought his idea for a suppressor shield was new, innovative, and easily adaptable for the SOF community. Kyle Lamb (man, twice in one SITREP) was in town for a VTAC sesh with the boys so I brought Dave by to show his wears and have fun. Ben Radar (Radar K9 in SITREP 15) was on the range that day and stopped by afterward to tell me about the benefits for K9 handlers having the suppressor shield, as a hot barrel on the range could inadvertently burn their four-legged fur missile. Dave’s suppressor shield would prevent that.
MODTAC designed the Suppressor Shield to address shortcomings in other suppressor cover solutions and provide the operator with reliable protection. The Suppressor Shield provides a solid, recoil-proof, safety solution to the danger of extreme suppressor temperatures. To achieve optimal performance, the Suppressor Shield design includes an air-gap stand-off, low thermal transfer materials, and reliable attaching mechanisms. MODTAC exists to provide simple solutions to everyday tactical problems. Their products are being used by the world’s best Special Operations warfighters, federal agencies, and foreign militaries.
Thanks to an IED making my truck a garage sale in 2011, I found myself at a spinal rehab hospital in Atlanta for four months recovering from a Cervical fracture (for the Bravo’s…I had an owy in my neck). Roughly a year later, I returned to work to find a desk job waiting for me, in a company where no one cared that I was having memory problems or constantly word-finding, they just made fun of me and moved on. It was the best thing for me. After a year of proving myself not completely useless, the Command allowed me to serve as the Detachment Commander for a Recce team. This is the moment I found out about Kinetic Research Group, or KRG as apparently, everyone knows it. The Team Sergeant of that Recce team was like Marky Mark from Shooter, plugging in the Coriolis effect to ensure the rotation of the earth didn’t affect the trajectory of his long-distance shooting. Having not shot past 25 meters for the previous seven years, this was mesmerizing for me. I’ve been in love with their work ever since.
A couple of years ago I had the chance to link up my good friend Joe King from Berretta with Justin from KRG. I knew Joe from the SF Medic course in 2004, and now Joe was the Rifle Program Manager for Beretta’s rifle line (Tikka & Sako). So I called my buddy at MODTAC, Dave, to get an introduction and linked Joe up with KRG. It just made sense. Both companies make works of art that are both of style and substance. The Tikka action and barrel are legendary and placing them on a hot-rod KRG chassis gives you the chance to beat the Good Vibrations king himself.
When asked how KRG came up with their model, Justin simply replied, “We make things that we want to use.” That was KRGs early ethos when they formed, informally.
Two of the three founders are Wyoming boys, honing their long-distance skills in the prairie dog fields, the other is from rural Florida who was into .22 precision and suppressors. The three founders had all joined the Army after September 11 and all of them had become 18C’s. “During the Q Course, we would discuss and scheme products that weren’t available or identify glaring weaknesses in the available kit. We had all been into precision shooting even before we joined so a lot of our focus was on that arena. Around ’09 it was time for the next chapter, and we started working on what became KRG.”
Justin continued, “Vince funded it, John had the outstanding idea for the Bolt Lift, and I designed the “ultimate gas gun”, something like the ARAK but it was novel then. One day while going to Whittaker’s Guns in KY we hit upon the idea of making a mag conversion for the TRG to use AICS mags because the TRG mags were about $280. That was the fork that sent us down our final path. We dropped the gas gun and went all precision. The Sako TRG folder followed, and from there was a forend and trigger guard from a full chassis so we went for it (for the Tikka T3 which we knew was excellent and underappreciated at the time). This was 2010 and it was the first production Tikka chassis as far as I know and one of the first chassis available for anything. We developed a sort of co-ethos, “Superb, Authentic Precision”.
“The early days were hard-living, ramen noodles, work every waking hour kind of days. Of course, we’ve grown and now all the founders work in (and on) the business along with a bunch of other people including two key additions as principals, Ben and Darryl. We’ve been very fortunate along the way with good luck, a lot of help from others, support from our families, and good effort from our employees. We’re grateful for all those things plus our customers, and our country that has provided the environment of opportunity and scale and scope of the economy, our opportunity to step up and serve and overcome the challenges all that posed, and of course the comradeship and memories of our brothers who did not return and of those who are still with us.”
Just like I found out during my visit to Ft. Campbell in 2016, the guys from 5th Group have been constantly developing new ways to skin old problems. All the guys I wrote about today are innovators, something that is second nature to the men of 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Thank you for reading.
Always forward - Matt
- Cover painting is from the James Dietz Collection and can be found here
Next SITREP - We have the ability to achieve the impossible