By John Crump
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Eric Dorenbush has led an interesting life. From his time in SFOD-D (Delta Force), being a contractor, and then starting one of the premier training centers in the country he has done it all.
Eric now runs Green Eye Tactical which trains everyone from Law Enforcement/Military to the civilian shooter. He believes in the second amendment and thinks that everyone is entitled to the same training.
I had a chance to sit down with Eric and talk to him about his life and his teachings.
It was a great opportunity to talk to someone who was in the top 1% of the top 1% in the military.
Eric Dorenbush ~ Interview
John: What is your background?
Eric: I’m an ex-Army guy who spent his career in operational billets. I started in the Army National Guard when I was a junior in High School as a 11C under the split option program. After a failed attempt at college at ODU in Norfolk Virginia (I pledged a fraternity my first semester and spent more times in bars than classes), I went active duty. I took a 11X contract with Airborne but otherwise wasn’t picky- I just wanted to get in.
Unfortunately, the Army assigned me 11H (a now eliminated heavy weapons/anti-armor infantry MOS) so when the Ranger battalion recruiter came around before AIT- I couldn’t volunteer for Regiment. It all worked out because I actually got to go to Ranger school from the 82nd much faster than if I had gone to Battalion.
After a few weeks in Division- I was in Ranger PT and then Pre-Ranger before going to Ranger school right away. My Ranger buddy was actually from Regiment and was pissed to hear that I was so new and there when he had been waiting for a year in Regiment. So that resulted in me walking around Bragg as a tabbed E-3 before they quickly gave me corporal so I could receive the “privilege” of easing the CQ duty rotation.
I did the Best Ranger Competition in 2000 and deployed to Kosovo and Afghanistan with the 82nd. Before my deployment to Afghanistan, I went to the selection course for the Army Special Missions Unit. I did multiple deployments to Iraq with that organization. After that, I took a contract in the UAE as an instructor for their Special Operations School.
While there, I re-wrote their Basic and Advanced Rifle Marksmanship programs. I spent a few years over there before coming back to the states to take a job for a company in Dallas with a former Unit teammate. I learned quite a bit about how I did and didn’t want to run a business and when that dried up I decided to be my own boss and start my own company, Green Eye Tactical.
I now teach civilians, LE and Military.
John: What was the hardest part about joining 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force)?
Eric: Everything is hard there, but the hardest part is actually pulling the trigger to go. What we often say is that the biggest reason people don’t make it in is that they never try. You never feel like you are in good enough shape, well enough prepared, or it is a suitable enough time in your life or your unit’s OPTEMO.
Mental stress that is self-induced is a huge factor as well. Every shot you take and decision you make could result in you getting cut. The instructors there will rarely yell at you or play games to induce stress. The training is hard enough.
John: Was there ever a point where you thought you were not going to make it through the training?
Eric: Of course. I was a young guy from the 82nd. I had had minimal exposure to Special Operations or the more relaxed environment. The majority of my OTC classmates were all from SF or Ranger Battalion and had some form of exposure to the type of environment and skills there.
John: What is the biggest misconception that people have about Delta Force?
Eric: There are a lot of misconceptions. I don’t discuss specifics, but needless to say – the type of operations the public knows about is only a small portion of what you do there?
Green Eye Tactical’s Introduction to the Tactical Rifle Video Series
John: What made you leave the military?
Eric: There were a lot of reasons – some good, some bad. Some within my control, some not. There was a little turnover around the time I got out as well, due to the changing political and command climate that resulted from the transfer of authority between Bush and Obama. Having a pretty well-paying contract job fall into my lap was a bit of the icing on the cake.
John: After getting out you went into military contracting. Which do you prefer?
Eric: Hands down I prefer what I’m doing now. The students over in the Middle East didn’t really want to be there and the locals didn’t really take training seriously. Some of the western instructors there didn’t take it seriously either and were more interested in getting home to their private villa and having drinks at the pool.
I take training seriously and tend to throw myself into work. During my three years there, I actually only took one vacation and that was because the company forced me to, as I had accumulated so many vacation days and funds in my travel account.
I much prefer teaching American citizens because I firmly believe that the country would be a much better place if everyone took personal responsibility for their safety and that of others. They also WANT to be there, which makes a huge difference.
I’m also a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment, as written and intended by the founders. As a result, I do not have types of training that are restricted to LE/MIL. I regularly hold open enrollment classes on topics like CQB, Night Vision application, Small Unit Tactics, and Counter Surveillance/Tradecraft.
John: Why did you start Green Eye Tactical?
Eric: So, the company I worked for in Dallas for a year drove that choice. There were a number of things that the owner was doing that fell into an ethical gray area. He also wasn’t managing people very well or efficiently and was playing a bit fast and loose with 1099/W2 designations.
When my former teammate and I cut sling on our tenure there, I knew that I never wanted to put myself in the position where I would be working for an outfit like that again. The only solution was to become my own boss. It helped me establish how I wanted to operate as a business as well.
I would never again engage in any kind of outrageous employment contracts or agreements. Even when military units or federal agencies contract me for training – I don’t have them sign any kind of contract. Generally. If I can’t do business with you off your word and a handshake – then I don’t want to do business with you.
This has resulted in me getting hosed a couple times, but I feel it is was worth it as I learned if those entities were trustworthy and just won’t deal with them again. I also decided to operate on a no credit / no debt basis. I even refuse to set up NET terms with companies that I’m a distributor for. The client pays me cash, I pay the manufacturer cash, they ship goods and we part friends.
I also researched other instructors, their business models, and read all their training reviews I could find. I came to some conclusions on how I would run my business based on that:
- I would accept no product endorsement deals. I saw multiple instances where this either affected the credibility of an instructor’s recommendation or put them in an uncomfortable position when the company’s product didn’t perform as advertised. I miss out on a lot of income from that, but I feel the tradeoff is worth it. Especially after the parallax report I recently released. Had I accepted an ambassador deal from EOTech prior, that report would have been dismissed as a shill.
- I would not offer free slots or compensation for reviews. I saw a few guys that did this and didn’t like how it looked. Apparently, neither did many in the industry.
- I would not market off my name or background. While that information is out there, I don’t give a real background brief in my courses, tell non-stop war stories during training, or post pictures or video from my time in the Unit that shouldn’t be out there. Of course, this slows down social media marketing, but I think it helps shape the following a bit. Some of my students that have shown up for courses actually had no idea what my background is- which I’m fine with. If I have to use my background to justify what I’m teaching instead of intelligently explaining the how and why- I probably have no business doing what I’m doing.
- I would not engage in “entertainment” courses. All of my training is 100% in depth fundamentals, whether it is Tactical Rifle or CQB. It isn’t fun and it is hard, although many students do find enjoyment in the more challenging curriculum. This has also helped shape my clientele quite a bit. People that show up for my courses aren’t there for an “experience”, to hang out with an ex “cool guy”, or whatever. They are there to train. I have a very high retention rate with clients coming back for multiple courses and have not received any negative course reviews (I do solicit AAR’s and will often receive requests for a change or improvement in something, though – which I use to evolve the curriculum).
- I would remain personally engaged with clients before and after courses. When you email the company – I’m the one who answers. When you call or text the phone number – I’m the one that answers. If you message the Facebook page – that’s me. There’s no secretary or agent between us. There will never be an instance where the first time you are able to actually talk to me is the first time I show up to run a course you booked.
John: How did you come up with the name?
Eric: I actually came up with the name, sitting in my office in the schoolhouse in the UAE. A buddy of mine, who was a 18D (SF medic) was sitting in there with the door closed, eating lunch. It was Ramadan so you had to eat in private.
You also did almost no training because the locals were starving themselves all day so you got bored clock watching all day. We were talking about future plans for after contracting and got on the subject of starting individual businesses so we started brainstorming names for our respective companies.
I came up with the name Green Eye Tactical after considering the name that Al Qaida used for my former unit – the Green Eyed Devils. We actually used to leave some pretty cool propaganda stickers that played on that name around targets we hit.
John: I know Green Eye Tactical does a lot of military and law enforcement training. Do you offer civilian classes?
Eric: All of it. I’m a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment, as written and intended by the founders. As a result, I do not have types of training that are restricted to LE/MIL. Many don’t share this view, but you either believe in our Constitution as it was written, or you don’t in my opinion. I regularly hold open enrollment classes on topics like CQB, Night Vision application, Small Unit Tactics, and Counter Surveillance/Tradecraft.
John: What type of training does Green Eye Tactical focus on?
Eric: A pretty wide variety of training. For open enrollment, I have started with a small offering and built onto it as the pool of previous clients has increased. I now have courses that range from Fundamental level Pistol/Rifle, Fundamental and Intermediate CQB, Small Unit Tactics, Land Navigation, and Counter-Surveillance/Tradecraft.
For LE/MIl- that training is custom in nature. I avoid cookie cutter course types since the client’s needs and mission set will vary. So, there is usually an in depth phone call and a bit of back and forth to make sure that they are getting the right content.
John: Is there any other fields that you would like Green Eye Tactical to get into?
Eric: Interesting question because until recently I would say no. However, after posting on my social media for donations to assist in the south Texas floods (I spent a week down in Houston and Beaumont performing rescue work) – I’m looking to start a 501c under the company.
My intent is to organize and support groups of veterans, clients and other volunteers for disaster or charity work. I worked with a couple veterans groups in south Texas and It seems like a really good outlet for veterans to find purpose while supporting the country and getting around fellow vets.
John: You have written about the CQB and CQE. Would you mind explaining the difference? Why do you think the two gets confused so often?
Eric: Sure. So, I drop a separation between the two concepts based on how I was trained in the Army SMU and how we approached it. This explanation will be a little generic because I do not talk about Tactics, Techniques, or procedures in any detail on the internet.
CQB (Close Quarters Battle) is a TACTIC. It is the tactic of conducting offensive operations internal of structures. When you enter into a structure, you apply CQB as to how you address the movement in and through the structure.
CQE or CQM (Close Quarters Engagement or Close Quarters Marksmanship) is a TECHNIQUE. CQE/CQM is the skill subset as to how we employ weapons in a close range scenario. CQE/CQM is generally tied to distance.
We don’t apply CQM/CQE techniques at 100 or 200 yards. The stability required to take surgical shots on a threat in an environment where the foreground and background of the threat area, that can be very complex and mixed with hostages or non-hostiles, exceeds the stability and accuracy you can apply in aggressive standing positions or while moving.
Often these CQM/CQE techniques from a standing position are referred to as “reflexive fire”. So, if we are entering large venue structure like a shopping mall, we are still applying the tactics and fundamentals of CQB to address the angles and movement needed to dominate those spaces. However – CQM/CQE may not be appropriate for the shot.
To summarize – CQB is not tied to distance, it is tied to entering a structure (or plane or train). CQM/CQE is generally tied to distance.
Now – other services or conventional military units definitely have their own definitions of either of those terms, usually as it applies to MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain), but this is the approach that we used.
My personal belief in why this gets confusing is the level of training that is available. Most conventional military guys are training in their branch doctrine of CQB in small live fire shoot houses. They don’t receive in depth instruction (compared to Special Missions Units) on shooting and tactics and the two concepts wind up blending together due to a lack of in depth training, lack of realistic live fire shoot houses, and what is common in their operational cycles.
The same can be said for LE teams. Many departments are limited in the distance they can shoot due to training facilities. A SWAT team that is getting used (improperly in my opinion) to conduct raids on flop houses to collect evidence for narco units allows that to become their reality. The size of the rooms they encounter and how they are able to move into a room that looks like a TV episode of Hoarders often influences their tactics and they allow that to become the default.
As a result – I have encountered teams that zero their rifles at 10 yards. Many times I have been told by the teams/agencies that they adopted these methods because they were instructed to by a former service member from the conventional military. This is a case of “you only know what you know”.
The issue is: the mission set of a SWAT team does not equal the mission set of conventional military units or even regular Special Forces teams. SWAT has the tasking of maintaining hostage rescue capabilities in their areas of jurisdiction. This not only means residential houses, but commercial structures like banks, hotels, convention centers, and theaters as well as public facilities like schools and local governmental buildings.
If we use that mission set as a filter for what military units have official charters to maintain the operational ability for or even any form of in depth training for – the list gets VERY short. We are basically only talking about the Special Missions Units at that point.
I wrote this article about a year and a half ago after repeatedly observing some things that I found fairly alarming. I was early on in my business development and had received numerous contacts for SWAT teams that wanted large venue Hostage Rescue training. Due to available training areas for these elements – we are usually limited to performing this type of training with Simunitions in real structures.
When I learned that many had their rifles zeroed at distances like 10 yards. When I questioned them as to if they knew what that did to their round’s trajectory at 100 or 200 yards, I would get the answer “we are good” or “we know what our holds are”. However, when I asked them how often they shot at those distances, the instances where they did were few.
It normally gets very quiet in the class when I actually pulled their muzzle velocity, plugged that and the rifle/round data into a ballistic calculator and showed them the mathematical impossibility of their “known holds”.
I’m not trying to be a dick when I do things like that, but I’m serious about this type of training. I care about the welfare and safety of the guys I teach, dudes that slap on a badge and willingly risk their lives for you are great Americans. Also, it could be my wife or son in that school or mall they are entering.
John: I have taken multiple classes and although situational awareness is touched on I don’t think it is covered enough. I know you have touched on situational awareness in your writings. What can the average person do to increase their awareness?
Eric: So, situational awareness is a habit that we have to instill. I’m not a proponent of all these color codes of levels of awareness. I like to keep things simple. You are either situationally aware, or you aren’t.
The level of effort that this takes, the number of tasks you can simultaneously perform, and the speed you can move do vary according to the level of threat, environment, and physical/mental condition. What I tell people to do to aid in training and instilling this into their way of life is to start simple and small, then layer on the complexity or number of tasks.
Perhaps start with spatial awareness as it pertains to the proximity of others. Go to a venue with moderate levels of people like a library, with the goal of developing progressive scanning without being overt. Attempt to absorb how many people are around you and where they are. Every few minutes stop and do an administrative slow 360 scan.
Did you miss anyone? If you did, slow down and/or increase your rate of scan. If you didn’t, layer on it by adding information or activity. Attempt to be aware of what the people are doing, what they are holding in their hands, etc. Conduct the same periodic checks to see how much spatial awareness information you are absorbing.
This is very much small scale and simplistic detail, but when you train fundamentals by starting simple and uncomplicated – you experience better progression. Obviously, there are much more things to look at, tactics and techniques to apply, and decisions you need to make for effective situational awareness – but, you are trying to build this habit into your lifestyle. Start small and simple so that you aren’t overwhelmed by the complexity of it and add complexity as you perfect the techniques and they become a component of your natural behavior and posture.
John: What advice would you give the civilian shooter on training?
Eric: There is no easy button. Improvement takes hard work and discipline. If you find yourself laughing, talking, having fun – you aren’t concentrating hard enough. Don’t fall into the trap of the 7yd tactical crowd. Especially with a rifle. Get in the prone at distance and group until your eyes hurt.
Prioritize your training in an intelligent manner. Don’t spend an hour of a 4-hour training session on something that only has a small chance of occurring just because it looks cool on your Instagram or is easy to quantify improvement with a Pro-Timer. Build your base first on tasks that you will perform 100% of the time at the fundamental level and then layer on from there.
John: Any other projects coming up?
Eric: Nothing major yet – but I try to walk the path that God lays before me.
About John Crump
John is an NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%’ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on the history of the Patriot movement and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss or at www.crumpy.com.