Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bitmessage

Whoever was trying to reach me via Bitmessage, my BM address has changed.

New one is    BM-2cWhRVRzKcwL3eEVu15BT9CXXTqujRsbu7



.....Blogger is not making me happy right now.....


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Libertas Tablet Second Batch Available Now



16 and 32 GB Libertas models have been added to the Store page inventory.



As more tablet hardware shows up I will add it to the inventory. The particular hardware I am using is getting more and more difficult to get my hands on so I am only listing what I actually have in my possession at any given moment. I am also testing hardware for the next model and will provide updates as that progresses.

I will also be making some user friendly guides for the various tools available on the Libertas.

Stay tuned....





Friday, March 6, 2015

Shrinking Your Online Vulnerability

"As NSA general counsel Stuart Baker has said, 'Metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody's life. If you have enough metadata, you don't really need content."
-- Dr. David Cole

"We kill people based on metadata."
-- Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA director

Metadata is data about data...

"The main purpose of metadata is to facilitate in the discovery of relevant information, more often classified as resource discovery. Metadata also helps organize electronic resources, provide digital identification, and helps support archiving and preservation of the resource. Metadata assists in resource discovery by "allowing resources to be found by relevant criteria, identifying resources, bringing similar resources together, distinguishing dissimilar resources, and giving location information."
-- National Information Standards Organization


 

In the realm of communications security, and specifically internet based communications, it is generally agreed that the largest attack surface for end users is the web browser. This applies whether you are using an "unsafe" operating system like Windows/Mac or a safer Linux based one. I have touched on the operating system issues in past articles and will cover it again in greater detail later, but for now lets take some small easy steps to bolster our privacy defenses.

First off, and I just want to address this briefly as it is an article unto itself, this guide assumes that you are utilizing a VPN for most if not all of your internet adventures.

Second, we will be working with the latest Firefox build (Chrome/Chromium still have some trouble respecting your privacy). We are going to employ a series of "under the hood" hacks as well as some various browser extensions. I am going to list them in order of importance and offer some alternatives as well (you may find some of the addons less annoying than others).

First lets get under the hood - open your Firefox browser and follow along,

1. type about:config into the address bar and hit Enter. Accept the warning that pops up, type tls in the search bar and confirm the following "value" column settings:

security.tls.version.max    3
security.tls.version.min     1

If they do not match the above settings, change them to match.

2. Go back to the search bar where you first typed "tls" and instead type media.peer . Find "media.peerconnection.enabled" and change it from true to false.

So what we have done so far is to make sure that the web browser will not allow a site with depreciated SSL (Secure Sockets Layer - how websites encrypt HTTP traffic) to achieve a connection, which would leave your traffic potentially exposed. Ideally, the sites you visit will have option "3" enabled (TLS 1.2) which provides PFS (Perfect Forward Security).....in other words, a site using TLS 1.2 for encryption will negotiate a new key for every session, meaning if a key or session was somehow compromised, it would only give the attacker access to that one session and not your complete browsing history.....the implications should be obvious.

Now we will tackle the Firefox addons in order of importance.

It is debatable which of the following addons belong at the top of the list, as differing circumstances can shift the relative importance of the addon. That being said, I am going to start off with -

1. HTTPS Everywhere which enforces an encrypted website session as long as the website being contacted supports it.

2. Ghostery (this can be found in the Firefox menu under addons), is effective at blocking a large amount of the cookies, analytics and trackers that plague the internet. An alternative that is pure opensource is Disconnect. In my experience Ghostery is the more effective of the two, but your results may vary.

3. Random Agent Spoofer . Your default user agent string is a big part of that metadata mentioned earlier, as it is one of the contributing data points used for browser fingerprinting. This clever addon will, as the name implies, randomly select user agent strings to present to internet land thus shrinking a major metadata factor.

4. No script is a script management addon. A script (javascript in this case) in layman's terms, gives a browser the ability to run "programs". Some of these "programs" could be malicious in nature and in fact this, historically speaking, is responsible for the majority of computer attacks. Even if you choose to disable the script blocking function (it can make browsing difficult at times), it still offers some valuable protective features and is highly recommended.

5. FreeSpeechMe . This addon gives you access to ".bit" websites. Dot-bit, unlike .com - .net - .org and all the rest of them, does not rely on centralized corporate or government control. Instead it uses a bitcoin style decentralized blockchain to secure the domains. Read up on it, this is the future of free internet.

6. Better Privacy. This addon deletes those sneaky, hard to find cookies that might be missed by Ghostery or Disconnect.

7. Adblock Edge blocks adware without the sneaky corporate whitelist that regular Adblock uses.

8. Secret Agent is a child of the Dephormation project. It offers quite a bit of protective features and user settings. It can, however, bog down your browser - so be forewarned.

Some other settings that may need some attention:

Go into Preferences, Privacy, set it to always use private browsing mode, or at the very least, never accept 3rd party cookies and clear history on exit.

Go to Advanced, Data Choices, and de-select everything.

***

Another useful tool is to download the JonDoFox browser configuration. Once installed, this will ask you what type of Firefox session you want each time you start Firefox. The JonDo variant has several privacy controls built in and is suitable for TOR browsing as well. Be aware that if you want to use it on the regular "clear net", you need to go into Preferences, Advanced, Network, Settings - and select no proxy.

***

There is much more that needs to be done to mitigate your online risk, but this is an easy place to start that anyone can do.

More steps to follow......













Dangerous Distractions


.....heh.......


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Regarding Solar Options


Being that I have been off-grid for the last five years and built
several small to large solar systems, I thought I would pass on what I
have learned.

First, Goal Zero does make some quality stuff....never had any
noteworthy problems with them. That being said - if you are going to go
with their Yeti 1250, do yourself a favor and skip the Goal Zero Boulder
panels and order a full sized 240-250 watt (mono or poly) solar panel.
It's a lot more bang for your buck and 250 watts is about the max the
Yeti's internal charge controller can handle. You would need to also get
the MC4-to-anderson power pole converter cord (goal zero sells this
item, but you have to call them) and enough MC4 (10awg) cord to support
your setup. It's worth mentioning that you can also add a second battery
and double the storage capacity of the Yeti 1250, giving you around 2500
watts of power. You need to make sure and match the internal battery of
the yeti which is a 12v 100ah SLA/AGM (can be found at your local
Batteries Plus store or ordered on Amazon, but shipping will hurt).

Second, if you want to try and roll-your-own, I would highly encourage
the use of AGM batteries as opposed to flooded lead acid as another
commenter had mentioned. Flooded Lead Acid are a better value money
wise, but present several problems that preclude them from serious
consideration, especially if you have mobility in mind. Compared to FLA
batteries, SLA/AGM (Sealed Lead Acid/ Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries are
sealed and do not appreciably off gas hydrogen, making them much safer
for enclosed living areas. They also can tolerate being turned on their
side and are more tolerant of temperature extremes. They do, however,
cost a bit more than FLA's, but due to the factors mentioned, they are
all I use in my own projects.

A simple setup (comparable to the Yeti above) would be to purchase the
following items:

1. 12volt / 100ah SLA/AGM battery

2. 100 watt folding solar panel

3. 10amp, 12/24 volt MPPT charge controller (might go with a 20 or 30
amp for future upgrades)

4. Medium size rolling toolbox ("dolly" style)

5. 1000watt AC/DC inverter

6. 10awg cables w connectors for your chosen panel, 8awg cables for
internals

7. automotive/ blade style fuse holders and fuses (match the amps of the
chosen charge controller)

8. Optional - NOCO wicked smart battery charger (if you want to top it
off when you have access to the grid or a generator.


Start by securing battery in the bottom of your "toolbox" housing, then
mount the inverter and charge controller inside, making sure that they
all have space between them and room for airflow as cooling is
important. Connect the cables that run between the panel and the charge
controller to the CC adding one of the in-line fuse holders to the
positive cable. Run a set of the 8awg cables to the battery (leave the
positive disconnected for now). Run a set of 8awg cables from either the
battery or the CC, depending on the model, to the inverter (inverter
should have it's own fuses). Connect the solar panel to the first cables
you set up, make sure all your fuses are in place and connect the
positive battery cable. The CC should read the state of the battery and
begin charging or maintaining the battery.
This setup will give you the same 1200 watt rating that the Yeti 1250
has out of the box for about half the price. If you wish to use the NOCO
charger, you would just attach its alligator clips to the battery, plug
it into a 120AC wall socket, select the appropriate voltage and battery
type on it's faceplate and you are in business.


A quick note regarding inverters. There are two basic types of inverters:

- Pure sine wave (more expensive)

- Modified sine wave (less expensive)

Besides the cost consideration, care must be taken as a modified sine
wave inverter can cause problems with more sensitive electronics, such
as computers. I don't know if modified sine wave would present problems
for the charging or powering of radio equipment - perhaps Sparks or Dan
can chime in here?


***

Another option would be to purchase a small folding 14-16watt panel and
a lithium/ion battery pack for use in the charging of phones, tablets
and other handhelds in the field. This style of battery pack has come a
long way and 12000mah - 30000mah units can be found on Amazon with ease.
This is a power solution I will be offering for my tablet project as well.


While this has been a rather breviloquent guide to setting up a solar
system and there is obviously much more info available on the subject,
this should get you started on the right path. If there is more interest
from the readership I can put together a more detailed post on the setup
or possibly just build and ship them for those that want that.




Sunday, January 4, 2015

Libertas Tablet Update #2



Okay folks, I am wrapping up the user manual right now and will be shipping the tablets from batch one this week. Some last minute additions include:

- Several pertinent Mil manuals 
- Realtime satellite tracking
- Ballistics software
- Shot timer
- Topo Maps 
- Survival Guides
- Knot guides  

There are a couple tablets left as of this writing. See the Store page if you wish to order.

Batch two will be coming in March/April and will be much larger.


Sam Culper over at Guerrillamerica has kindly agreed to test drive one of the Libertas tablets and post a review, so you can get a second opinion from a tech savvy individual other than myself.

Mosby (Mountain Guerrilla) has also graciously agreed to offer his book in ebook format to the first purchasers of the Libertas.

***

This project has been mentally exhausting and time consuming in the extreme, but sorely needed in my opinion. My thanks goes out to all of you that lent your ideas, assistance and brainpower to this endeavor. I will strive to continually improve the product and keep it on the cutting edge of security and privacy.

I also have acquired the thermal camera now and am working on its integration.


.....more to follow.....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Liberty Tablet Update #1


I have received an avalanche of emails related to the upcoming tablet. Instead of trying to answer each one individually, I will try to address all the questions right here in a FAQ fashion.....


FAQ

1. What are the hardware specs?

7 inch tablet
1920x1200 resolution (HD)
Gorilla Glass screen
5mp back camera, 1.2mp front camera (with blockers included)
Quad Core Snapdragon 1500mhz processor
2048mb RAM
16 or 32 GB of on board storage
3950mAh battery
Wireless/Qi charging ability
NFC disabled (for security)
built in microphone removed on request (can still use a plugin headphone/mic combo if desired)
baseband radio firmware removed (for security)
Bluetooth 4.0
Wifi a,b,g,n


2. What operating system does it run?

A highly customized Cyanogenmod with SElinux rules, Secdroid hardening and several security specific mods.

3. Will it have Google on it, or the Play Store?

 No. Google has so many apps and backdoors that snoop on you it would make your head spin. This system is free of all that. There will be three available stores for desired apps.

4. Can I still use the tablet for my day to day tasks? Listening to music, etc....

Yes. It will come with safe apps for music, video, internet browsing and secure email, chat and telephony.

5. Will the tablet use TOR?

TOR will be available on it, as well as I2P, Mesh networking and a very strong VPN. I am also working on a VPN/TOR/ObfsProxy combo setup for extreme anonymity.

6. What VPN service are you using?

I have gotten it down to three candidates. They offer no logging, offshore protection and anonymous payment systems.....as well as meeting my standards for the highlest level encryption available.

7. What physical security will the tablet have, for example, what if it falls into the wrong hands?

The tablet will have a very robust disk encryption system separate from the login password with a user specified self destruct in the event that the password is entered wrong a certain number of times or a brute-force hack is attempted. The bootloader and recovery are also locked.
Also comes with a Faraday/RF shielded pouch, for when you want it to go completely dark.

8. Is it durable and/or Milspec?

Yes. It will come in a MIL-STD-810F certified housing. It is not fully waterproof at this time, but can take some rain or light splashing.

9. Since this is an especially secure device, will it be a pain in the ass for the non-geek to use?

I have gone to great lengths to keep the tablet as user friendly as possible without compromising the security. With that said, security comes first every time so there will be a small learning curve. Not to worry though, I have been testing it with my technology hating wife and she has not had too many issues.

10. What other useful software will it include?

A secure wallet for the major crypto currencies in use.
Anti Virus and Malware suite
An eReader/book app
Secure browser
TOR browser
Encrypted notepad
Steganography  app
PGP/GPG client
Secure IM
Mac spoofer
Software Defined Radio apps
Metadata removal software
Mapping app
Ballistics software
Thermal camera (separate add-on)
Police/EMS scanner
Secure file wipe/shred
DNS switcher
Serverless email system
One touch, throw away email addresses
Secure anonymous cloud storage

Will also come with a USB multi-port device for using normal flashdrives and for SDR radio add ons later.

11. How do we know you aren't really working for a shady corporate/government group and this is just a honeypot for mining our data?

Well, frankly, you don't. There is nothing I can really say to convince someone that I am one of the good guys if paranoia has led them to think otherwise. If you know me personally or have taken my classes or have been visiting my site over the years, you should have a pretty good idea of what I am about. I have been a staunch privacy and liberty advocate since before I even joined the military as a young man long ago. This project started as something for myself and my family members, to enhance our data and communications security. It was only due to repeated requests and cajoling from my colleagues that I agreed to make them available to the public. One more thing to consider - I can guarantee you that iPad, Macbook or Windows device you are reading on right now is compromised and sending every detail of your life to corporate thinktanks and government central planners.

12. How much will they cost?

I am still putting the finishing touches on them and have not finalized the price. Similar "military grade" tablets on the market go for around $1000 (and don't have the enhanced security I am offering). I am looking at keeping the price at least half that, if not less.

13. How will they be shipped?

Any way you prefer. USPS, UPS, FedEx, personal courier......doesn't matter to me. Some folks have some trepidation about using certain carriers - I will work with you to get it delivered in whatever way makes you feel the most secure.

14. How do we pay?

I will get a Paypal button set up on the new Store page. I also accept Bitcoin, or Darkcoin if you really need anonymity. We can also do old-school money orders if that is more your speed.

15. Are any services included in the price, such as VPN subscription or VOIP service?

I will be including an Unseen account with each unit (Unseen has the best security solution on the market right now for chat/phone/video). I may also include a 6 month VPN service for free once I decide on the provider.

16. Will the product continue to evolve or is this it?

Yes, in technology as in any warfare, we must strive to keep up with advances and an ever shifting landscape. I definitely want feedback from you as you use the tablet.....things you don't like, things you would like to see included, etc.

17. What happens if I break it?

If it breaks the first month due to a design flaw, send it back and I will fix it at my cost.
If you smash the screen or destroy the USB port or something like that, send it back and I can repair it for a fair price.

18. How many are available?

I have 12 this batch, with 6 spoken for already. I plan on having a much larger batch ready by March.

********

Let me know if I didn't answer your question. I should be finished testing in the next few weeks and hope to ship after the holidays.





Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Taking Back Your Privacy - Step One


"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."

-- Ayn Rand

***

So...

Where have I been this year? Well, in a word - working. My "day" job has been busy this year as some of you have guessed, but I have also been hard at work on some pet projects that many of you have been asking for.

Those of you that have attended my Escape & Evasion or my Groundrod classes have a solid grasp on the electronic leviathan we freedom loving people face on a daily basis. As a result of this fact, as well as a great many requests, I have spent much of the year developing the following -

1. A truly secure "defensive" tablet

2. A truly secure cell phone

3. Secure Yellow, Orange and Red operating systems for your laptop/desktop

4. An "offensive" security tablet and netbook

As those of you who know me understand, when I say secure - I mean for real secure. I cannot find anything on the market that offers what I am proposing.

A few of the tablet highlights -

* Up to date fast hardware.....quad-core CPU, 2 gigs RAM

* Highly customized secure & hardended OS that is easy to use

* Included secure email, chat, video phone and self-destruct button

* Milspec rugged housing and Faraday/EMF shielding

* Available add-ons like, HAM radio capability and mesh networking

* Support and training

The purpose behind the tablet project is to give the freedom minded (non-geek) individual a device they can feel comfortable using in the age of hackers and Big Brother. Whether you want to watch a video, listen to your music or communicate securely with the highest levels of security and anonymity.

I will have more details and prices up shortly. If you have specific questions about the tablet, drop me a line.

If you are interested in a tablet please email me to reserve one, as they are custom built.

.....more to follow....


***UPDATE***

For those of you wondering about the more gritty of my course offerings - they will be back with a vengance in 2015 as I will be backing off on my deployments to focus more on the home front.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Secession and the twisting of truths


This well researched piece comes from a colleague's blog and is worth the read...

"Many people today think maintaining the integrity of the union is constitutional; never stopping to think their position is neither congruent nor synonymous. The irony is that in the way Lincoln preserved the union he destroyed the voluntary association and State autonomy aspects of the Constitution and made the central government supreme in the United States, which it was not up until that time."

Read the whole thing at American Founding Principals


While you are there, cruise his other articles....lots of good stuff.


Friday, November 15, 2013

December Training Dates


I am going to go ahead and open up December 6-8 for classes in the NW. I have had requests for T3C/Off-Grid Medicine, Combat Pistol, SUT and E&E. I won't be able to do them all this time so if you are interested in one, email me so I can lock down the appropriate subject and locale.

Pick your poison and push the go button....







Saturday, November 9, 2013

Things that make you go Hmmmm...


Thought I would post these items up as their relevance, I believe, could be important...

Chinese Troops in US - Not A Conspiracy Theory

This is to coincide with the upcoming GridEx2 exercise being spearheaded by the fine folks over at DHS/FEMA.

Also worth noting....

Communications Down

Might want to spend some time on your commo plan.

Maybe get familiar with these items as well.....


The QBZ-95 and variants (top picture) is the standard issue assault rifle for the PLA. Manufactured by Norinco (remember, all those cheap import AK and M1A clones back in the 90's?) it fires the 5.8x42mm cartridge.....they also have a variant that fires the 5.56 NATO cartridge, the QBZ-97. Below that is the M99 anti-material rifle which fires a 12.7x108mm cartridge.....this also has a variant that fires the US .50BMG cartridge.

See a pattern here?



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Understanding the Intelligence Cycle


S2Company

A good read on understanding the Intelligence building cycle. The questions you need to ask yourself as you read this are:

1) How can an enemy use this process against me?

2) How can I use this process against an enemy?

3) How would I need to modify the process to make it a useful tool in my unit's current configuration?

****

 "The enemy has a reserve which can be used to counterattack into either Objective BOB or Objective JOHN.   The initial CCIR was "Where will the enemy counterattack with his reserve?".    During your IPB you might identify the details about that reserve (it's the 1-23 Tank Battalion, etc), but you won't know WHERE it will attack until it actually starts to move.  During the wargame the staff realizes that the effect of this enemy action is significant enough that it will require the commander to make a decision on the use of attack helicopters.   This  becomes a Decision Point, and the CCIR is transformed into the more specific PIR: "Will the 1-23 Tank Battalion counterattack into Objective BOB or JOHN (between 0830 and 1330 hours)?"  Note that in order to qualify as a PIR you need three items: 1) A Single Question concerning an enemy status;  2) A link to a Decision Point (High Payoff Targets are just specialized Decision Points);  3) A specific time interval that the Question is related to the Decision."

****

Unknowns
Beget
CCIR
To focus
IPB
Which drives
Wargaming
Which produces
DPs and HPTs
Each requiring
PIR
Which become essential tasks for
Collectors and Analysts

****

Glossary

CCIR= Commander's Critical Information Requirements
CUB= Common Understanding of the Battlefield
PIR= Priority Intelligence Requirements
FFIR= Friendly Force Information Requirements
EEFI= Essential Elements of Friendly Information
HPT= High Payoff Target
HVT= High Value Target
IPB= Intelligence Prep of the Battlefield
DP= Decision Point
IR= Intelligence Requirements
BDA= Battle Damage Assessment


 (H/T Neil Garra & S2Company)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Auxiliary Blues...


Continuation (part 3) of the ongoing "learning through fiction" series.

Part 1      Part 2


John shifted uncomfortably as he pulled the scratchy, surplus wool blanket to his side to plug an annoying draft. He forced his eyes closed and tried to focus on the vibrations the big locomotive was producing....anything to quiet his mind from replaying the events of the last twelve hours. The adrenaline had finally subsided, but while his endocrine system may have adjusted to his current situation, his brain refused to be so accommodating. He started to stand from his curled up position in the corner of the cab behind the engineer. He was not quite erect before the engineer growled at him to keep out of sight or he would kick him out right here and now. John sunk back down, not wishing to be ejected into a pine tree at 50 some odd miles an hour.

The events from hours earlier began their mental replay again - after he had squeezed out of the tiny cafĂ© bathroom window and found no storm-trooper waiting to engage him in the alley, he knew he could not go home again and was officially on the run. He dashed to the opposite end of the alley, took a deep breath and stepped casually into the midday shopping crowd crawling the downtown sidewalks. He knew he had little time to create distance before they cordoned off the whole area for blocks in each direction. The general public had grown all too accustomed to the “snap checkpoints” and “safety inspections” that used to only exist in some abstract faraway combat zone. Remembering his training, he hunched down in the crowd as he slipped on the sock hat and glasses he had in his pocket. His heart sank as he approached the end of the block and an MRAP squealed to a halt, troopers jumping out and beginning to erect barricades. His mind raced.....he side stepped into a drugstore to try to compose a plan. He headed into the back employee area as if seeking the bathroom. Looking around he spotted a makeshift break area and some lockers. There were a couple employee smocks hanging near the lockers, the type with the store logo and plastic name tag. John grabbed one and slipped it on without skipping a beat. At that moment the back service door opened and an employee pushed a hand-truck through overflowing with sundry items. John nodded at the preoccupied worker and stepped out the door finding the delivery truck still running.....could he really be this lucky? he thought. He pulled the cargo door shut, jumped in and stepped on the gas. His disguise may not have been great, but it was good enough to get him through the chaotic checkpoint still being established.

He knew he was on borrowed time driving the delivery truck, as it was surely being reported stolen at this very moment. That, coupled with the fact that all vehicles were mandated by the regime to contain a “black box” which included GPS tracking and, rumor had it, a remote kill switch. He took the next exit off the freeway and pulled into the long term parking at the regional airport. He navigated the truck into a space in the middle of the sea of parked vehicles, locked the keys inside and struck out for the adjacent road that bordered the airport. He managed to flag down a cab leaving the terminal area and directed the driver to his next stop. John had chose the airport for a couple reasons. First, he hoped it would cause confusion as to where he was headed next and how he was getting there. Second, regime helicopters and drones would have to arrange airspace deconfliction with the airport which would buy him some more precious time. The cab drivers were technically required by law to scan a passenger's ID before leaving the curb, but luckily, few actually bothered with it. A short fifteen minutes later, the cab dropped John off in front of a school playground just as the sun disappeared to the west. John handed him the last 20 from his pocket and headed north away from the cab. Once the cab was out of site John spun around and ran back to the south. A couple blocks later and his destination came into view. He pulled himself over the fence and started towards the back of the poorly lit cemetery. By the time he had located his cache point and dug it up with the aid of a jagged rock, it had grown quite dark out. A condition he was grateful for as he noticed the red and blue light reflecting off the tombstones and trees around him.....

John thought back to his first assignment as an auxiliary member. He had been tasked with mapping the location of every surveillance camera in a particular section of the city. It seemed at first a rather menial task, but he soon realized, the more he looked - the more cameras he found. He had no idea just how prevalent the devices had become. He was to make a note of each camera's location followed by a simple description.....
Covert or overt?
Size?
Fixed or motorized?
Did it depend on a supporting light source?
Suspected field of view and angle?
Private, commercial or government?
If he could not make an accurate assessment on one of the requested items, he would indicate as such. It was his duty to supply raw information. The resistance Intel folks would further assess and develop it into useful intelligence. If he was able to do so without compromising himself, he was to take a close up photo as well. Once he compiled the data, he would create an overlay on a city map that had been provided to him.
About a week after turning in his assignment via dead drop, he received new instructions. He was to take the newly compiled city-wide overlay, find the surveillance gaps and plot as many routes in, out and through the city as he could. He was to do this for vehicles as well as for foot traffic.

That evening, in the cold cemetery, as he pulled the map from his cache, he sincerely hoped he had done a thorough job. 


.....Don't underestimate the relevance of the Auxiliary....

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rhodesians, Masada, von Trapp and ham-hocks...



In the last piece we read about the conditions the Rhodesian farmers had to exist under and some of the techniques they used to try and mitigate the dangers they faced. I would now like to look at another aspect of the homestead security problem, specifically, avoiding the siege scenario.

History has shown that sieges rarely end well for the people tucked inside the walls. From the stone fortress of Masada, to the massively fortified city of Sevastopol, to the wood framed building at Waco – history begs us to take note of the lessons.....and have a viable exit strategy on hand.

Dealing with small groups of bandits, looters and marauders in a SHTF scenario could in fact be a manageable problem dependent on your manpower, level of combat expertise and fortifications, but dealing with an antagonistic state level group (or even a well funded/equipped private entity) is a whole different animal as demonstrated in the three afore mentioned examples. What can make this especially difficult for us in the western culture (and the preparedness community in particular) is the psychological filter called normalcy bias that has been heavily institutionalized into us from childhood and endlessly reinforced via the media, our workplace and our social lives. Add to this situation your average prepper type, who has spent years and a small fortune accumulating all the gear and supplies they think they could ever need in their home or retreat. Getting this individual to leave their “stash” behind is going to be like trying to take a ham hock from a starving dog. They will convince themselves that somehow things will magically work out and they won't have to abandon their fortress....all evidence to the contrary. Concerned parties need to establish an escape and evade plan now, long before it is actually needed and accept the potentiality of a hasty exfil. The following can serve as a rough guideline:

1. Develop an early warning system.

This could vary from neighbors with FRS/GMRS/HAM radios, to remote CCTV cameras positioned on main avenues of approach. (You do know all the likely avenues of approach to your home don't you?). If you have early warning, then you can prepare accordingly – deciding on the proper defense or evasion plan based on the incoming threat and your current defensive capability. It goes without saying, the more standoff or distance you have between you and the first alert point the more time it buys you to make an assessment and execute your plan, but even standoff can be a double edged sword depending on where you live. If you live in an urban or suburban area with homes all around, you may not have any assurance that it is you or even anyone in your “tribe” that is being targeted. Leaving you waiting until the last minute to determine if you need to exit or not. This is a factor that should be addressed in your plan – which could equate to periodic false alarm/dry runs for your family, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

2. Don't have everything important in one place.

If you have a dozen firearms and 3000 pounds of food storage, there is no good reason to have it all consolidated at your house just begging to be collected by the local warlord or apparatchik . Establish safe houses and cache points off your immediate property with at least some basic essentials in them to keep you alive and kicking. At it's most rudimentary level a cache should be able to support you according to the rule-of-three's...

You can go - 3 minutes without air
                     3 hours without shelter
                     3 days without water
                     3 weeks without food
(I suppose we could add, 3 seconds without ammo in a gunfight)

A good mental exercise to help in this process is to visualize going for a jog. It is winter and lightly snowing.....you are wearing a jogging suit and running shoes, you have nothing else. You round the corner to your property only to see the local gestapo standing around your home as it burns to the ground. Your mind is immediately plunged into chaos.....what do you do? Having a plan at this point is the difference between positive action towards a predetermined LUP with cache or mentally freezing and doing something stupid and full of life ending bravado. Once you get to your LUP, you dig up your cache and check the inventory. Change of clothes....map....compass....knife.....box of shells....poncho liner....Max Velocity thermal shield.....collapsible flask....canteen cup......small pair of cheap binos....some mainstay bars.....iodine.....IFAK.....USB Linux disk...small flashlight...100 bucks in small bills.......pre made OTP and pencil. You examine your map under your camouflaged thermal shelter and plot a route to a safe house where you have some other items stored.....but first you sit tight and wait for the eye in the sky to finish it's survey.

3. Establish safe houses (think Auxillary).

This doesn't have to be as elaborate as hollyweird makes it out to be. Having a sympathetic acquaintance (or friend of a friend) who will store a bag for you and shelter you for a short period is not unrealistic for most people. Beware of using immediate family and well established friends for this purpose, as they will most likely be under surveillance if the "gov-gone-wild" folks are even remotely interested in catching you.

4. Establish cache points (as implied above).

Having a huge cache in your backyard doesn't do you a whole lot of good. You won't be able to get to it in a crisis and the badguys WILL find it. Do a map study (followed by walking the ground) and determine at least four avenues of escape. Once that is established, using good terrain analysis, pick some Laying Up Positions and/or cache points. How far you can safely move undetected after OPFOR knocks down your door is going to largely be a matter of your head start, your unique terrain and what air assets OPFOR is likely to bring to bear.....and what said air assets response time is (find out now). You and your family going “von Trapp” over the rolling South Dakota hills 30 minutes after contact is a sure way to get caught by the eye of Mordor. Get to know your terrain.

I recommend a tiered approach to caching:
Level One – Basic keep you alive items (think coffee can size)
Level Two – Basic plus, escape and evasion items, more ammo
Level Three- Basic plus, sustainment items & tools

Level one should be fairly universal for all folks, while two and three will vary depending on a focus of survival or resistance (though they don't have to be mutually exclusive of course).

In essence, this concept has much in common with the battle-drills practiced by any light infantry soldier. Trying to make a crucial decision at the moment of contact is a losing proposition, just as thinking you can win a siege from the inside is.



Friday, November 1, 2013

Home hardening in a real SHTF scenario...


Found via a commenter at Max's place ( original post HERE )

"After discussing in another thread the problems with the wooden building that are so often used elsewhere in the world I thought I would post my 2 cents on how its done in Africa at many farms I have visited and read about over the years.


Rhodesian Farmers Defensive Arrangements

The following is a general overview:

1) Most farmers fitted hand-grenade grills to the outside of all windows and Doors leading outside were likewise security grilled.

2) Many farmers built thick sand bag walls in front and under bedroom windows to stop bullets passing through walls and providing secured firing arc's. Beds were never placed against the outside walls of a farmhouse.

3) It was usual to have a designated safe room within the farmhouse that could be defended until support arrived. Sometimes this was a central corridor that allowed the farmer to move into other rooms to attack those outside through the windows. In the loft or ceiling over the safe room, some farmers laid sand bags to deal with possible mortar attack.

4) Every farmhouse in a given area was linked by a radio system called “Agric Alert”. This allowed radio contact with other farmers who formed their own defence units, usually under the umbrella of PATU (Police Anti-Terrorist Unit), which would react to a call from one of their neighbours for assistance. Another means of alarm raising was the use of a signal rocket - The Agric-Alert system was not done away with after the war, such was the lack of trust in Mugabe`s promises. It performed admirably as well when dealing with criminal activity such as stock theft. The alert system arranged for all farmers to check in with each other at a given time in the morning and evening as a means of monitoring their status.
South Africa also had such a system Called MARNET.


5) Around all farmhouse gardens were erected security fences with barbed wire (or razor wire) and which often had simple alarm systems built into them.
There were usually 2 fences were placed about 50 m apart with a ditch dig close to the inner one - the inner fence was usually very high 10 feet with barb wire and close to the main house, about 4 meters away, the outer fence was lower and alarmed with simple soda cans with stones inside that would rattle and wake the dogs if there were disturbed.

the reason for the 2 fences and ditch was much like todays BAR Armour on Hummers that you guys use .. the inner fence would catch grenades and they would then roll into the ditch and explode there causing little damage. and an RPG fired at the house would also be caught by the fence and do little damage to the mail house

Within the inner fence boundary, every farmer usually had a couple of large dogs. The dogs were fed their largest meal in the morning instead of the evening, in order to help keep them awake at night. Other farmers had geese or ducks, which made excellent guard “dogs.” Gardens were kept deliberately trim so as to keep clear fields of view and fire etc. The farm houses also had outside flood lighting erected in such a way as to blind those outside the fence, but not to interfere with the vision of those within the farmhouse.

the flood lighting often included hardened lighting, usually behind sand bags , reflectors were used to provide light from lights shining vertically upwards because lights are the first targets and if the reflectors were shot they still worked ... albeit with a few holes


6) All farmers and their wives were armed with an assortment of weapons, and most farmers were trained military men. They had at least one assault rifle, usually an FAL 7.62, assorted shot guns, .303 hunting rifles and so forth. It was also not unusual for wives to carry Uzi`s around with them, or other equivalents such as the Rhodesian Cobra. All members of the family were trained on the various weaponry available to them, including the kids. In one famous incident a child successfully fought off the attacking terrorists after both of his parents were wounded. The main defensive weapons were at all times within immediate reach of the adult farmhouse occupants, and were placed next to the bed at night.

7) Some farmers used mine protected vehicles, as a favourite of terrorists was to landmine the driveway outside the fence. A great deal of time was spent looking at the dirt roads for freshly dug earth points and so forth when driving around the farm.

8) Some farm gardens and particular points external to the fence were wired with home-made claymore like devices strategically placed in areas where attackers were likely to take cover. In a few instances farmers deliberately erected “cover positions” for the terrorists to use outside the fence, which were then blown up upon attack. A particular favourite was a section of plastic piping filled with nails, nuts, bolts, screws and so forth. I witnessed tests with these and the tubes cleared large areas of their intended aiming point of all bush cover and leaves from trees etc for about 30 meters into the bush. By placing a number of figure 8`s in front of these tests, it was apparent from the strike patterns that not one of them would have walked again had they been terrorists.


9)Out buildings were often fitted which screens of thin steel or wood the provide false cover to intruders who would have to stand behind the sheets to fire around the corners of buildings but could easily be picked off if they did, by firing through there cover."


Those farmers learned some hard lessons....take notes.


(H/T to Max Velocity, Tea Party Guy and xizero)