Tactical ropework is essential for many missions and often increases the operational security because intervention forces may gain a tactical advantage. Frequently it is the key to missions success. Tactical ropework is very difficult to describe, because it is not a distinctive, independent field like alpine ropework, the Speleologen ropework or the high angle rescue. The following report tries to define tactical ropework and to show some specific features. Tactical ropework is a hybrid of best practise techniques from different disciplines, i.e.:
- Alpine ropework contributes to tactical ropework by adding minimalist technologies
- High angle rescue contributes to tactical ropework by including high load capacity techniques of anchor points for several users as well as horizontal and diagonal lines.
- Canyoning-ropework contributes to tactical ropework by work with a single rope with different braking efficiencies (for variable user weight, rope diameters etc.) and by releaseable pull down rope systems
- Tree work techniques contribute to tactical ropework by techniques which find their use in apprehending activists in a suburban environment.
Access for intervention requires extensive techniques for the construction of highly loadable and spatially independent anchor points. Sharp or cutting edges represent a special danger (metal roof-edge / window glass). Roping with ballistic body armour and head
protection requires special attachment points at the climbing harness. One-hand rappelling is performed with the “bullet weak” support hand and requires accurately controllable rappelling devices tuned to the operator`s weight. A quick release system is also
needed to allow efficient separation from the access rope. In the field of training, rappelling from the top of structures may also serve as a preparation for safe rappelling from a helicopter.
The apprehension of activists or troublemakers mostly requires proficiency in the area of tree work and quick action capabilities in
hazardous heights. The takeover of a trespasser from highlines tensioned between two trees and over a train catenary is one of the most difficult scenarios. Activists usually intend to attract attention by obstructing intervention and by creating technical problems. These scenarios often happen under the focus of a public audience, and require some prudence. Intervention forces must therefore use redundancy techniques very similar to commercial rope access methods. A forced rescue is sometimes the last option to save a suicidal or deranged person from an exposed position.
The immediate apprehension of the person is a highly time-critical, dynamic process with an open outcome.Rescue and evacuation represents another extensive field of tactical ropework. This field ranges from the quick recovery of a person from a dangerous exposed situation in a rescue triangle, through the rescue of injured persons by carrying out a helicopter hoist based stretcher rescue operation, up to evacuation with the Air-Tep. in very critical situations a provisional and temporary interaction between ropework and air rescue may be required (i.e. extension of a rescue hoist cable).
The most important difference between police and military techniques is that, due to limited transport capacities in military operations, rope setups are often made with only minimalist usage of gear. (e.g., direct attachment of ropes on trees with the No-Knot or Clove-hitch, secured by a Slip-Knot / tensioning of ropes with the “Kara-Acht” or the “luttensee Klemme”). access for intervention and rescue / evacuation in the military case is basically similar to methods used
by police forces, but may be more aggressive and less hesitant in the use of explosives to get access through windows and walls. When helicopters are involved, rope based in- and exfiltrating techniques (i.e. rappelling, fastroping, S.P.i.e., rope ladder or AirTep) play a very important role.
Mountain warfare relies mostly on alpine techniques. With its own field of techniques, military mountain guiding is the most advanced field with tactical ropework.
Combat survival must be extensively trained and requires very specific techniques. it needs very light
ropes, streamlined gear like improved sit harnesses created from rope or webbing, and techniques which do not leave “footprints” (i.e. the releaseable pull down Macrame knot).
In summary, tactical ropework is a double edged sword. its techniques can offer great advantages when used with proficiency. however, lack of specific training may quickly lead to failure, particularly where single rope
techniques without fault tolerance are applied.in the next issue, some more light is thrown into equipment, techniques and education.