1. of or relating to combat tactics: such as
a (1) of or occurring at the battlefront, a tactical defense, a tactical first strike
(2) using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront tactical missiles
1. a device for accomplishing an end
2. a method of employing forces in combat
(source: merriam-Webster dot com)
I wanted to get the dictionary definitions out of the way, because I see them misued a lot by the film community at large. Someone in film says "tactical," and they imagine a bunch of hardbodies in boots and MOLLE gear; gliding down hallways with weapons at the ready and setting themselves up as a legit threat for the main characters to escape from and/or slaughter.
Which is perfectly cool. Who doesn't love well-done action? Who doesn't want to make a movie that will have battle-hardened veterans nodding at it and saying, "yeah, it's like that."?
Unfortunately, the current cinematic use of the word "tactical" is both too narrow and too broad. End result being that productions don't know what they're asking for, performers don't know what adequate training looks like, and trainers are forming their own definitions as they go.
I say too broad because the dictionary definitions above cover a vast range of techniques that will never see a depiction onscreen. By such definition, the fact that I dusted my crotch with gold bond powder before stepping off on a patrol was a tactical action. I don't care what you put on the soundtrack, hard to make that into the depicted warrior look a production wants.
And I say too narrow because TTP's (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) change rapidly according to conditions on the ground. While there are some baselines (a combat glide is a combat glide, a buttonhook is a buttonhook), what gets used more effectively can completely alter movement on a battlefield in six months. There is no way to look at movement alone and definitively say, "yeah, this is Iraq, but this has to be Afghanistan."
And that's not even getting into nomenclature differences between agencies (A low ready is a low ready, except when it's an alert. Wait, wtf?)
Which means that an advisor from one agency has an entirely different idea of who's trained and to what level than someone with a different agency background.
Yeah, we can hope said advisor's aware of and accounts for such, but do you want to be the one who risks your reputation on it? Or for that matter, your training budget?
So with all that said, what should be looked for? What skillset needs to be instilled before an actor with tactical whatever listed on their resume walks onto a set?
My personal checklist goes something like:
- Nomenclature & handling of semiautomatic pistols and AR platform rifles
- Room clearing 101 (Combat glide, cross, buttonhook, pieing, stacking)
- Working in 2 and 4-person teams
- Basic CQB/CQC
Institutional differences are what should be known and instructed by the individual project's tactical advisor before filming. I'd personally rather see people hired who know the basics, then spend time working on the nuances (Which agency are they portraying? Here's what's specific to them).
Of course, that's ~my~ criteria. It's anyone's guess what the industry standard will wind up becoming.