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Telluric Group At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Tactics Of Night Vision: Telluric Group [CES]

Head Of Training & Colleague Discuss Training & Mindset At Engagement Exercise At Trade Show Using High Grade Equipment

John Lovell & Michael standing outside the night vision training facility at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. [Photo Credit: Tim Wassberg]

Night vision has always been an area of interest to both consumers and government sectors alike. There have been ranges of camera that can integrate with the outdoors to different levels but nothing gives the real aspects of Ranger and Marine training. At the Consumer Electronics Show in cooperation with the new series “Six” on The History Channel, the training company Telluric Group set up a tactical training exercise to both show the texture and the mindset of where the technology is both for military and civilian consumption. Head Trainer and former Army Ranger John Lovell and his colleague, former Marine Michael, discussed combat psychology, technological application and balance of engagement.

The Buzz: First if you could give me both your name and background.

Michael: My name is Michael with the Telluric Group. Before that, I have done a lot of private security for high profile clients with different companies as an independent contractor. I served almost nine years in the Marine Corps. I did a ton of different infantry jobs from distributive operations team leading over in Afghanistan to leading squads in Iraq as well Scout Sniper Assistant Team Leader as well.

John Lovell: I'm John Lovell. I'm a lead trainer for The Telluric Group which is a training organization that works with military, elite law enforcement, and civilians to train folks in night vision, room-clearing tactics, low light stuff, firearms, you name it.

The Buzz: John…could you tell me a little bit about, if you don't mind, your military background as well?

JL: Sure. I was in Special Operations. I was a member of 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

The Buzz: And when you were doing that kind of stuff, did that introduce you to night vision and tactical operations in terms of the kind of stuff that you're showing in training?

JL: I was first exposed to night vision in the military where we became very proficient at nighttime operations, meaning the vast majority of all missions that I would do would be during dark hours.

The Buzz: Now teamwork and the actual using of the technology is so important in those kinds of situations. Can you talk about that in reference to how important night vision is?

M: So the beauty of night vision, it gives you a different perspective at night time. It allows you to be able to gather more information about your environment because it does amplify the ambient light that's available. So it lets us know…it doesn't give us all the details…but it can provide more information as to where our ally troops are. If we use different strobes, different other night vision technology, we can communicate better as to people's location, disposition, and what not.

The Buzz: Now what is the more important element to understand about the technology at this point and what you guys are doing with this specific night vision?

JL: Part of it is that it's not just about tools in technology. Tools in technology are a piece of it. You also have to have the tactical training and wherewithal to be able to understand the advantages and the limitations of a good piece of equipment. Now with this equipment, what is the thing people have to know? How do they need to approach it because you have to have a different mindset in terms of when you're using night vision. You have to adjust yourself in terms of-- it's like, "Oh, gee. I have to know how to do this." You have to problem-solve. You have to do all that.

The entrance to the night vision training facility at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. [Photo Credit: Tim Wassberg]

The Buzz: The technology we just experienced, does it show where technology is right now?

M: It's pretty advanced, especially for the military. I came in in 2003 and night vision was pretty widely distributed to the infantry community in the Marine Corps. So we've been using night vision for a while. We have weaponry-mounted night vision as well so now we can sit and be able to do observation from long distances, or we can do close quarters combat with night vision as well.

The Buzz: When I went through the course, I was second-guessing  myself because you're thinking, "Okay, did I see that? Or did I see that?" Because you want to make sure you don't miss anything because if you miss something, that could be somebody else coming to get you in that sort of situation.

JL: Sure. And those are real obstacles that you can be in all too quickly. Try it with bullets flying back at you.

The Buzz: Exactly.

JL: At first, you can wander around in the technology and feel like, “Oh, this isn't so bad.” And then the more you try to really do and the more you push yourself, you realize, “This is going to take some time.”

The Buzz: Because you guys do instruction in strategy down in Georgia at Telluric Group, how does fit into this regiment.

M: We teach law enforcement and military…mostly infantry for the special operations community.

The Buzz: Can you talk about that in terms of teaching to be familiar with that psychology?

JL: I need folks to be so familiar with the technology that they're able to make adjustments on-the-fly… in a split moment without even thinking about it so that your mind can be occupied with the combat mission that you may be on.

The Buzz: What does the mindset have to be and how is that reflected in how you guys look at it?

M: The mindset-- from my perspective, I've done a lot of training and everyone teaches something differently based on their own background, and people have their own philosophies.

The Buzz: How would you approach it personally from your perspective?

M: Really I would just walk in with an open mind. You take in as much information as possible from different instructors. I would kind of do a data dump for everything I thought I knew in the past. That way, I don't have a bias going into the class, and I can actually be able to gain more information that way.

The Buzz Editor In Chief Tim Wassberg equipped inside the night vision training facility at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. [Photo Credit: Tim Wassberg]

The Buzz: Can you talk the design of the current night vision technology? How it helps you do what you need it to do.

M: The crazy thing about night vision is a lot of people think it allows us to be superhuman. It doesn't. It actually just gives us an additional tool to enhance our capabilities, right? If there are shadows out there, our night vision can't see into them because there's no ambient light inside the shadow.  Based off the tools we use and the environment, we still have to be able make decisions.

The Buzz: Has the night vision technology made things easier…at least for combatants?

JL: In some ways. But there's also difficulties inherent with night vision. Loss of depth perception. Loss of peripheral vision. Getting sucked into your night vision. Not understanding that you still have to read lighting conditions. You could be standing under a spotlight and not realize it because everything is green. You still have to have a good bit of training so that you can really see the forest through the trees.

The Buzz: In what you guys are showing here at CES, how does that give the person coming here a sort of perception of the kind of stuff you do?

M:  So for this event, if you're new to night vision, it really helps paint a picture of what it's going to be like. So there's no threats in there, but if you were to just put another person in there and give them a nerf gun, now all of a sudden it increases your level of intensity significantly.

The Buzz: Now can you the practical applications since there are civilian aspects for it in addition to military. Can you sort of talk about that?

JL: Civilians, just like military and law enforcement, are interested in being good protectors of themselves…family, communities in general. There are some people out there that would like to be able to push that area of protection into hours of limited visibility. 80% of all violent encounters happen during hours of limited visibility, which lets us know that it could be of some value, possibly, to some civilians…particularly some civilians living way out in the country. Who knows? But we do make training available to them.

The Buzz: Night vision is not used just for combat, but also for reconnaissance. And that has practical civilian application. Like we were saying before, the idea of looking for wild pigs in Georgia, or something like that. It can be used for many different applications. Can you talk about that?

M:  You look at anything that we do. Information drives decisions, right? And so, if you're going to buy a new car, what do you do? You go online and do the research. Or if you wanted to buy a new gun to go hawk hunting, you're going to talk to people who do it. So, for this, whether you're a hawk hunter or military or law enforcement, what it does is it gives you the opportunity to be able to gain information in situations where light isn't always available. I could bring a flashlight to the fight, but once I create that visible light, now I've made myself a target and people know that I exist out there. So this just gives us more options and it gives us the ability to be able to gain information without necessarily revealing ourselves.

A view through the goggles at the night vision training facility at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. [Photo Credit: Tim Wassberg]

The Buzz: Stealth has also become a bigger thing over the years in terms of the evolution of the technology correct?

M: Right. And I mean, don't get me wrong. It does enable stealth but it doesn't create stealth.

The Buzz: People are more and more getting into sort of these military war games, which is a bigger question, but they are also doing it on video games. From your perspective, is there's a big difference between the experiential and actually showing somebody how this is done versus looking at it as a video game. Can you talk about that because it’s a very important differentiation to make.

JL: Sure. And I want to stay inside my lane as well, not play the part of a sociologist, but I think there's advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses, to this sociological phenomenon. But I think it can inspire a generation to really get a sample of something that's out there so that when they arrive into the military, they're already familiarized with some stuff. They already know a little bit about it. They've got some basic mindset around the technology, around the fight, and even though there's huge, gaping holes… books could be written on what they do not know and what they won't understand until they actually walk through that experience…it can be a good recruiting mechanism.

The Buzz: How important is it to you to show this technology here at the Consumer Electronics Show in conjunction with promoting the military series “Six” on The History Channel?

M: It's an awesome opportunity because most people don't understand how the military drives technology to some degree. Because we use this stuff overseas, most people don't know about it. Then it comes to a point now where we can actually make it known to people. It’s cool that people can understand how technology enables military forces to be able to do their jobs overseas. In a lot of ways, it helps them be more efficient and more successful at the same time.

JL: One thing is, personally…you ask me personally…and to me personally, I'm a huge history buff. I love history. I also love protecting people. I love people, and I want to make communities safer. Whether that's training civilians, military, or law enforcement…and the opportunity to interact with living, breathing history that's so relevant to the area of my expertise of tactics and firearms and defense was certainly a good opportunity.


Tim Wassberg

A graduate of New York University's Tisch School Of The Arts with degrees in Film/TV Production & Film Criticism, Tim has written for magazines such as Moviemaker, Moving Pictures, Conde Nast Traveler UK and Casino Player. He enjoys traveling and distinct craft beers among other things.

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Telluric Group, which provides firearms and tactics training and specialized equipment to military, law enforcement, and lawfully armed citizens to help keep communities safe . Their goal is always the same - to improve security in every community they reach, directly or indirectly.

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