Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Repost of TC3.....courses start next month...

Teamwork for tactical units - Medical stuff


As we are focusing on being a Gunfighter and not just a "trigger-puller", we must include medical skills in the definition. The military and specifically SOCOM, began to realize this reality after the TF Ranger operation in Mogadishu.  This is what led to the TCCC/TC3 concept (Tactical Combat Casualty Care). This follows the logic of “every fighter a medic” insofar as lifesaving and stabilization skills are concerned.  This was a huge step forward from the former CLS (Combat Lifesaver) protocols as this addressed the most common lethal injuries on the battlefield and provided for a committee that would regularly evaluate and implement the latest innovations and lessons learned.

To this day I still see organizations that go in harm’s way and only require CPR and sometimes basic first aid (Red Cross style)…..this is shameful to put it politely, especially considering that we have over a decade of combat operations experience to draw from. The importance of a robust and standardized lifesaving skillset among a tactical team cannot be overstated.

Even though I have had formal training as a Medic, the most useful skills I know, based on what I have actually employed in the real world, are found in the TC3 program.  TC3 breaks down into three basic sections.

- Care under fire
- Tactical field care
- Tactical evacuation care

Instead of simply regurgitating the TC3 manual (which you can find online), I want to frame each section in a scenario based narrative.

Care under Fire…

You are part of a small unit on a security patrol in a lightly treed, mountainous area.  Your team mate “Joe”, who is in front of you, turns to say something but instead of his voice you hear gunshots and Joe collapses. You dive towards a pile of nearby rocks as you fire several rounds into the grove of trees about 200 yards ahead where the shots seem to be coming from. From your covered position you do a quick 360 scan. You identify where all your teammates have taken cover and notice that most are directing fire into the same grove of trees, with a couple guys scanning the flanks and rear. As you line your sights up to acquire a target you notice Joe lying still on the ground at your 10 o’clock. You fire a few rounds as you yell at Joe to move to cover.  Joe is moving very slightly and is clearly disoriented. You notice his leg is at a “wrong” angle and his uniform is growing dark with blood. You identify a large rock about 15 yards away at your 2 o’clock. You fire a few more rounds, perform a retention reload and dash to the new piece of cover. This puts you directly across from Joe and gives you a larger field of fire.  You yell at Joe again but he is clearly unable to effectively move himself to cover. You yell at him to put a tourniquet on his injured leg. He slowly begins to fumble around his belt apparently searching for his tourniquet. At this point you decide that the team is effectively suppressing the enemy, as the rate of incoming fire has dropped substantially, and decide to bound to Joe’s position and drag him to a nearby ditch. As you reach him you grab Joe’s armor strap and drag him the eight or so feet to the safety of the ditch. You see that Joe’s shin has been destroyed by a bullet and he is bleeding bright red blood. You can’t find Joe’s tourniquet so you grab your spare and apply it high above the knee. Joe yells out in pain as you turn the windlass and secure the tourniquet in place. You reassure Joe as you move into a firing position and reengage the enemy. The patrol leader indicates that the QRF has been called and is inbound. At this point the enemy seems to have broken contact....

Okay. So what do we get from this scenario?
Care under fire is just that…..the minimum intervention that is necessary to keep someone alive while you eliminate the threat. Ideally, the injured party will be able to achieve a sufficient level of self-aid; for example – applying a tourniquet and moving to cover. This was not the case in our scenario, so our character had to make a quick judgment call. Another lesson we can glean from our story….Joe either did not have, or possibly lost his tourniquet. It is important for everyone to have a tourniquet readily available (easily accessible) and, ideally, everyone in the team wears their tourniquet(s) and their blow-out/IFAK kits in the same spot so you don’t have to search for it. I’ll tell you what….your buddy screaming and bleeding all over you coupled with incoming fire is not the time to be digging through a bag trying to find something that you desperately need. This is something that needs to be trained on regularly and this portion of TC3 can be easily inserted into your normal training activities.

…..Next time we will continue with Tactical field care and discuss Bail-Out Bags/Go-Bags/Bug-Out Bags and IFAKs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Re-post of spare parts.....

Had a co-worker's Glock go down the other day. The culprit was a broken trigger spring, which I have only ever seen happen twice now, but it is a definite showstopper. Luckily, we had a spare spring available.....which got me thinking....a $1 part is the difference between a functioning weapon and an expensive blunt object. I would encourage all to stock up on replacement parts while it is easy and cheap to do so. I will be.

You do realize that all those springs in all those various guns and bits of equipment you have, have a finite lifespan......right? Springs are cheap folks, buy extras now.....they may not be around later.....

Will get some fresh posts up shortly.....overcoming my jetlag and getting my course schedules in order - stay tuned.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pardon the re-post....currently in transit....

"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks."
-- Thomas Jefferson

   As any of my former students can attest to, Jefferson's point is something I strive to integrate into all my shooting courses. Gunfights generally take place under less than ideal circumstances and I feel training must reflect that reality. It is a difficult thing to maintain an acceptable degree of marksmanship while cold, tired, wet, dirty or injured. A couple concepts to ponder...

1. You rapidly exit your helicopter on a hot LZ and immediately find yourself up to your knees in soft mud. The barrel of your rifle is now packed with mud....do you have the tools available to punch the bore clear? How fast can you do it?

2. An assailant throws dirt in your face, ruining the vision in your dominant eye as you bring your weapon to bear. Have you trained with your non-dominate eye? With pistol and carbine? How fast can you make the transition?

3. You are shot in your support arm rendering it useless. Can you fix a malfunction and return effective fire? With carbine and pistol? What about if your primary arm is the one that goes down, can you perform these tasks with your support arm only?

4. What parts on your M4/AR15 are known to fail? What is the general life expectancy of said parts? Where exactly is your weapon in that timeline? Do you have spare parts? How fast can you change them out?

I bring these particular scenarios up because they actually do happen, and are show-stoppers if not dealt with most ricky tick............ask me how I know.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Liberty double dose...

"Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty."
-- George Washington

.....and while we're on the subject of liberty....

"Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves."
-- Henry David Thoreau 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

That my briefcase??

If you will all forgive me for using a "movie" example, I think this scene from Collateral demonstrates some skills worth examining.....
I remember thinking at the time that the gun-play in this film was better than I have come to expect from Hollywood, and after a little investigating,  found that the actor had spent a substantial amount of time receiving firearms training from SAS veteran Mick Gould. So what skills are we looking at here specifically?

1) Social engineering & positional assessment - As the badguys approach, goodguy chats them up and slips into a more passive profile, raising the hands slightly, wearing a faux "startled" look on his face.....this can all serve to have a disarming effect on the badguy. A little basic Sun Tzu prepping of the the battlespace if you will. As to position....instead of allowing himself to be centered equally between threats, he stayed in a position (granted the badguys kinda helped here) where he would have the option of maneuvering himself to a flank where he would have one badguy between himself and the other with just a quick lateral step.

2) Prioritization of targets - Goodguy is faced with two targets, each armed, but target one is closer and has his firearm drawn and indexed on goodguy.....target two is further away and has not yet drawn his pistol. Well, this one is a no brainer as target one meets both the crucial decision parameters of Proximity and Hazard, thus making him the clear priority in this case. What if it were presented differently though? For example, what if target one was close, as he is in the picture but presented no firearm.....okay, well we still have proximity, unless......target two has drawn his pistol. Now we have to weigh the threat of a potential grappling problem from target one with the firearm hazard posed by target two. Get the picture?

3) Multi-tasking -  Training to be able to do more than one task at a time. Notice he does not strike badguy's pistol hand away and then draw his own pistol, but performs both tasks at once effectively staying inside badguy's OODA loop. He also (presumably) maintains an awareness of badguy two's position and activity. I personally think I would have added more movement to my own platform to help me stay inside their loop.

4) Drawing from concealment - Unless you are a uniformed police officer or a deployed soldier, you are likely going to be wearing your pistol under a garment....yet 90% of the folks I see practicing at the range do not actively train from this style of carry. This is part of the unfortunately prevalent belief that one will "rise to the occasion" when needed. That was a bitter lesson for me to learn when I transitioned from years of overt carry to having to train for dynamic engagements from a strictly low profile model. It is also worth noting how badguy two struggles unsuccessfully to draw from a semi concealed appendix carry before getting shot down. No doubt poor training on his part.

5) Shooting styles - Because of the proximity to badguy one, the goodguy does not draw to full extension, but employs a "speed rock" technique. After firing a quick hammer into badguy one, he pivots and acquires badguy two with proper SP/SA and puts him down with a Mozambique/FTS (two quick shots to high center mass, one aimed shot to brainbox. What the clip above does not show is goodguy then proceeding to clean the scene by applying a "security round" to the head of a still wiggling badguy one before turning his back on the engagement area. It should go without saying, but this practice would be legally dubious at best and none of this should be construed as "advice", but simply an examination of techniques.

I would also note that although I am not an advocate for the liberal application of "point shooting", the speed rock technique can be done with more accuracy than one would expect - understanding, of course, the limited situations where one would apply such a technique. A former SMU instructor I trained with had a particular way of teaching this principal that resulted in shooters consistently hitting small bulls at 5 yards. It's good to have options......

Monday, October 8, 2012

Took his task to heart...

Thought this was worthy of a re-post. It was said Simo would hold snow or ice in his mouth to cut down on the telltale "steam" from his exhalation and that he stuck to iron sights in order to lower his profile. Ingenuity can carry you far folks.... 

I give you Simo Hayha (The White Death, as he was known to the Soviets)

During the Soviet invasion of Finland circa 1939; this 5 foot 3 inch farmer served as a sniper in the Finnish militia. He conducted his duties alone in the harsh winter, armed primarily with an un-scoped Finnish variant Mosin-Nagant. Was this one man effective? 705 dead Soviet soldiers will endorse his efficacy. By the way; he accomplished this task in about three months time.
The Soviet army was so terrorized by this small man and his little rifle, that they eventually tasked an entire battalion to hunt him down.....to no avail. That's an entire battalion tied up with one partisan......think about it.
One could say he ended up being a one man psychological warfare unit as well.

When asked later in life how he became such a good shooter, Simo simply responded...."Practice".

Don't ever count yourself out because you don't have the best gear or are feeling past your prime. Take Simo's advice and practice.

More on Crisis Hygiene...

Someone asked in the comments of the recent "crisis hygiene" article, about the specific applications for cinnamon, cloves and charcoal. I wanted to address that question and bring up a couple other points as well. I also would add that this information, besides being backed by research, is based upon my own personal experiences with said items.

Cinnamon, (Cinnamomum cassia or verum), has been shown to exhibit a strong antimicrobial effect on E. Coli, Salmonella, Listeria and Staphylococcus aureus, just to name a few bugs. I normally travel with a bottle of 500mg capsules. As a prophylaxis, you can take one capsule with each meal to avoid many food borne illnesses (this also can have a favorable affect on blood sugar modulation). As a treatment if illness sets in, you can take two to four capsules as needed. Be aware that overdosing (handfuls) can potentially irritate the liver and kidneys due to the coumarin content. Also, cinnamon can act as an anti-coagulant and would be contraindicated if you have a bleeding disorder.

Clove is useful in many of the same ways as cinnamon, having a similar chemical makeup, but is especially good at dealing with parasitic issues (usually coupled with black walnut & wormwood for this purpose). Clove oil is very useful if you are suffering from tooth pain due to it's high Eugenol content. I usually travel with a small bottle of clove oil handy.

Charcoal, specifically activated charcoal, is excellent at absorbing and expelling toxins. This is a very useful treatment for the ingesting of poisons. So much so, that even your local EMT is always going to have this on hand, and it is in fact one of the few treatments that he can administer without a doctor's oversight. It can also be very helpful with severe intestinal gas pain. I always keep a bottle of charcoal capsules in my gear.

Another agent that deserves mention is Cayenne. A capsule of cayenne can stop a heart attack in it's tracks, as well as being a powerful blood builder. It can also be applied topically to staunch bleeding.

While we are on the subject....a couple other items you will want to consider adding to your preps are:

- Desitin or A&D ointment (diaper rash cream). If you spend any amount of time in a field environment, you are going to want to have this available, trust me.

- Gold Bond powder. A quality foot/body powder is very helpful at keeping your feet dry and healthy as well as other skin areas prone to fungal attack or abrasion. Countless soldiers in world war one fell victim to trench foot, which was a fungal infection brought on by constantly wet feet. Another good reason to only wear wool socks - year round.


It's important to understand what treatment options may be available to you when pharmaceuticals are no longer an option.





Sunday, October 7, 2012

Can't get to the range? Try this...

As most of my readers know, I am a strong advocate of the practice of “dry-firing/dry-practice”. Some of the particular techniques I like to employ are:

1) With empty pistol up on target, have a buddy balance a penny on your front sight post. Maintaining sight picture/sight alignment, press the trigger until release – repeat five times (if the penny falls during the cycle, it zeros you out and you start from scratch).

2) Conduct the above with strong hand with support grip, strong hand only and support hand only.

3) Walk while maintaining the sight picture/penny setup described above. Execute a smooth trigger press when your buddy calls it at random (while in motion). Same rules apply – drop the penny, start over.

4) From the holster, draw and maintain steady SP/SA while dry firing. The goal here is to be as fast as you can while maintaining zero movement in the SP/SA through the “firing” cycle. Follow the drawing principals of “Fast to the holster – deliberate to set the grip – fast to the target – deliberate sights and press”.

5) Walk (no penny this time) maintain SP/SA and press, conduct IA , reacquire SP/SA and press – continue this until the end of your available walking lane, conduct 40 pushups, repeat the process. You can mix it up with whatever exercise you wish, you are just trying to elevate the heart rate and induce some physical stress. Remember the walking principals for shooting are - put more flex into your legs, let them absorb the up/down motion so that it is largely isolated below your torso. Take shorter steps, rolling your feet from heel to toe. Try to narrow your path to mitigate side to side motion in your gait, for example, visualize walking on a length of 2X6 lumber lying on the ground.

If you are struggling with the whole walking and shooting thing, and many do, try this: at work or at home, fill a coffee cup to the brim, hold it out in front of you and walk through the house without spilling…….do it often. Adjust your body mechanics until you can pull this off with repeated success. If you want to induce some more stress into it….fill the cup with grape juice and practice over your wife’s favorite carpet.

The wit of Mr. Clemens

"The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet."
-- Mark Twain

...Yeah, that was 1890, if only he could see it now.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Some thoughts on crisis hygiene...

Sanitation & Hygiene in the field or a SHTF setting

Selco had a good post the other day (HERE) on survival hygiene that I wanted to attempt to flesh out a bit. Granted, this topic is not as thrilling as gunfights and multicam gear, but it is nonetheless a crucial aspect of survival, as improper sanitation & hygiene can kill you just as dead as gunfire.

Let’s look a few different scenarios…
1) Suburban family sheltering in place due to grid-down/disaster situation.
2) Team at a camp/patrol base with a potential for enemy troops in the area.
3) A couple in a high rise apartment in a large city and the utilities cease to function.

Family awakens to no power or water. The family members continue to use the non-flushing toilet as they assume things will return to normal at any moment (normalcy bias at work). Luckily, they have a couple cases of bottled water on hand, as the misses hates the taste of the local tap water. Father heads into town to see what he can find out and to restock supplies……he returns hours later disheveled, empty handed and visibly shaken. He tells everyone to lock the doors and windows and close the curtains. His wife is starting to get scared due to his unusual behavior, but he refuses to discuss what he witnessed while away. By day three they have sealed off the bathrooms as the odor is getting bad. Father decides to craft a makeshift outhouse in the backyard.  The backyard is not very big, so he digs a hole in the back corner of the yard and rigs up an old shower curtain across the corner of where the fences meet.  On day four mother notices that some kind of animal has been digging around in their shower curtain outhouse. Food is now beginning to run low as well as water. Father goes to fetch the kids for dinner and finds their youngest curled up with the family dog on her bed scratching away at his belly. The family immediately sits down and begins to eat without washing, as father had opted not to enforce it since water was in such short supply.

Up at the camp…
The 18 man team had been lying in the prone watching their individual areas of responsibility for hours now. The leadership, huddled in the center of their somewhat circular camp, where trying to decide how long to occupy this area. Their logistics drop at a nearby forest service road was a no-show and they desperately needed resupply. Team leader Phil returns to his men on the line and informs them that they will be staying put for at least another 24 hours. He takes one of his men and exits the camp to set up a temporary latrine. He finds a large pine tree about 20 yards or so away with a clear line of site to the camp. He digs a slit trench on the near side of the tree and then places a section of silver duct tape a couple feet up on the tree trunk. Once back in the camp he informs the rest of the leadership of the latrine location which the team leaders all point out to their individual men. As they have no more soap or hand sanitizer, the medic sets to work on a wash station. He puts a pot of water on to boil over a Dakota fire pit and gathers several handfuls of fresh pine needles and some of the wisps of pastel colored lichen that are hanging from nearly every tree  branch. He adds them all to the boiling water and lets the concoction simmer for a few minutes.  Once it has cooled to a tolerable temperature, he instructs everyone to aggressively wash with the solution after using the latrine and prior to eating.

Frank and his wife lean over the rail of their 12th floor balcony, gripping the rail tightly and trying to make sense of the carnage they are witnessing on the streets below. It was like something they had seen repeatedly played out on CNN, in Libya, or Greece, or Iraq. It had only been a few days since the television had stopped working…..when everything had stopped working…..but it seemed so much longer. Frank’s wife, Lynn, had been in the bath when the first emergency broadcast started only days ago. Her husband’s alarmed beckoning caused Lynn to grab a robe and dash into the living room. It must have only been a day later when they came to the conclusion that a tub full of dirty bathwater was the only water they had…and for the time being, leaving the building was out of the question…..my god, people were shooting guns on the street right outside! The bright side to their situation, if there was one, was the fact that the couple’s favorite pastime was to get out and go camping at least once a year. Consequently, they had accumulated quite the collection of camping gear. Frank used his MSR hand pump filter to transfer bathwater to a stockpot which he then brought to a boil with his little butane powered campstove on the balcony. Lynn setup their old mop bucket as a toilet by lining it with a trashbag and fashioning a makeshift cover to keep the odor down. Lynn was a bit of a hypochondriac at heart so they had a large supply of soaps and sanitizers on hand. In some small way she felt the current craziness had vindicated her “germ obsession”….but how long could they keep this up?
In each of these three situations some good and bad things were done. Let’s break it down and discuss the proper courses of action.

1) Suburbia – by continuing to use a non-functioning toilet they are inviting disease vectors into their house. The outhouse option should have been started much earlier. They could have “hardened” their outhouse to animal intrusion by using wood materials or even by “fencing” it in with some old chicken wire. By dodging the hand washing issue this family has invited catastrophe into their lives – especially considering that the family dog was getting into their scat and now is in the house being handled by family members. Cholera and Dysentery are no joke folks….
Father could have set up a wash station with a small amount of water that could be reused for wash purposes with liberal chlorine treatment and boiling. Lime would also be a good item to have on hand for outhouses - fireplace ash could also be used in a pinch.

2) Camp – This team is demonstrating some basic military field hygiene skills. Keeping the scat out of the “living space” of the camp but still being able to provide security for latrine users, is essential. The TL marks the latrine to help ensure that all are clear on the location so there are no blue on blue incidents. It is also worth noting that no one would ever leave a camp like this without the word first being passed to every single member. The medic shows some old world ingenuity and is able to use the local vegetation to work a hygiene solution. Pine needles are high in vitamin C as well as being antimicrobial. The lichen he used is called Usnea or “Old Man’s Beard” and is a rather powerful topical and internal antiseptic. It can be found in most alpine areas of the US.

3) City – Chance seemed to favor these urbanites, even as unprepared as they seemed to be. You have to be creative and engage in some outside the box thinking in situations like these. Keeping the bathwater gave them around 50 gallons of useful water. The MSR filter should do a sufficient job of filtering the unclean water, but boiling is always a good safeguard if available.

Also, don’t get too hung-up on the tactics, or lack of, in the scenarios.  My purpose here was to attempt to augment what Selco had started with the hygiene issues and focus on stimulating some useful ideas on the subject.  Worth noting is, besides Usnea, some useful prophylaxis and treatments for GI infections that you probably have in your cupboard right now are cinnamon, cloves and charcoal. With over 12 deployments to some of the more filthy locales of the world, I can say from experience that these common items have been a lifesaver for me on more than one occasion.  I don’t travel without them….

Friday, October 5, 2012

Evolution of field garments..

Why wool has become my go-to gear for field use (or: How I learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Wool)

Once upon a time, it was rather common to find wool in use by military units. From the Navy peacoat to the winter field pants (both axis and allied) circa WW2. Problem was; it was heavy and itchy. In more recent years we have seen an ever increasing amount of synthetics being fielded, such as fleece, under-armor type shirts and the much loved "smoking-jacket". While having a decent weight to insulation ratio and being fairly cost effective, they did have their shortcomings. Not the least of which was the tendency to exacerbate thermal injuries and the marked increase in various skin infections due to the microbe friendly environment created by operating for days on end in the field.

( If you have some time on your hands, HERE is an in depth piece on the subject of battlefield burns over the years).

I began trying various Merino wool garments a couple years ago and have been impressed with my findings. The merino wool, having a finer fiber than traditional wools, is very soft, has good wicking properties and is naturally antibacterial due to it's lanolin content. I began with merino socks, as the synthetic blends would always give me a case of "slime-foot" before the day was through, which of course led to various fungal pleasantries. The difference was amazing. Not only did the merino wool not itch, but I could go days in a pair  if needed without having my feet rot off. I then tried some light weight merino long sleeve quarter zip tops. These worked great as a base layer in cold weather or as a standalone in the summer months. The merino's ability to regulate temperature is truly impressive. Another factor for consideration, going back to the burn issue mentioned earlier, is that merino is remarkably fire resistant, requiring 1100F to reach flashpoint with zero melting point - compared to cotton @ 490F and synthetics with a melting point of 480F.

(Some textile burn data HERE)

There are limited choices right now for "tactical" garments in merino, but plenty of neutral/earthtone choices are marketed by the various hiking outfitters. I have abused and ignored the "proper laundering" instructions with my various merino garments and so far they are still going strong.

Guess it's still hard to beat "mother nature"...(and I mean that in the most non-greenie way possible)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Let's talk patriotism....

"I have heard it argued that the Constitution and the principles of the Founding Fathers are outdated and inadequate for our new age of technological wizardry and terrorist ideologies. This is pure intellectual idiocy. The principles of freedom never expire. Individual liberty is inherent and eternal. It is the driving force of every great accomplishment in the history of mankind."

Brandon Smith makes a solid and eloquent argument in his piece HERE

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Three Man Team

Combat effectiveness – a view from the outside in

Years ago while still in uniform, I was selected to take part in a large training exercise as part of the OPFOR.   The exercise was to take place in a high desert setting, not unlike the Afghan mountain areas, and involved a battalion plus hunting down our 12 man “insurgent” unit.

We were up against a battalion of infantry, augmented with a cav scout troop and a company of NATO soldiers. Their sole purpose was to find, capture and/or kill us.

We broke our team into four, three-man cells. We also had a HQ element and two sets of 81mm mortars with organic crews attached.  Besides our indirect fire assets, we were armed only with M4 carbines and frag grenades.

Ten days later we were being dressed down for the sin of rendering the battalion "combat ineffective" as well as destroying the TOC and killing most of the staff officers. 

All in all I found it to be a useful learning experience.  Without violating any OPSEC, let me break down some of the lessons learned…..

1) We spent the first few days avoiding contact and doing as much observation as possible. Whenever feasible we would use coded hand written messages left at a dead drop to pass information back to our HQ. Reason being that we believed the BLUFOR was actively scanning for our TX as well as attempting to DF us. This worked out rather well for us, as our flow of information went largely uninterrupted and we denied them any actionable SIGINT.

2) We traveled light and fast, relying on caches and rolling drops for resupply. We would have to huddle up close in the night time low temperatures to keep somewhat warm - one man sitting up on watch at a time.

3) One of our biggest fears was the BLUFOR’s use of their scout’s mounted thermal assets, especially at night when the ambient temperature fell and our body heat stood out like a sore thumb. Choosing good Hide/RON sites and smart route planning was essential. The few times we were spotted we were able to quickly move into terrain prohibitive to vehicles. 

4) Indirect fire assets are priceless. We quickly frustrated them with accurate fire missions on a daily basis. Terrain association, solid map reading skills and good pre-established TRP’s were put to devastating use.

5) The utility of harassment fire cannot be overstated. Again using the terrain to our advantage was essential. A few well-placed shots induced chaos and we made an exit as the unit went into a battle drill before they could ID our location.

6) Eventually we decided to let one of our cells get captured as we needed a peek close in and were fairly confident that we could affect an escape. This risky move turned out to be an intelligence goldmine for us. Our captured cell was able to make their escape that night before being moved to a more secured rear area. The random information they brought back proved very useful.

7) Based on our gathered Intel, we put a plan in motion that involved our last two cells (two had been captured or killed by day ten). One cell engaged a company far to the south of the Bn FOB as a diversion while my cell low crawled about a mile past the Bn FOB to a lightly guarded OP to the north. The soldiers there had seen no action at all and were bored and sleepy. We were able to secure the site and steal a hummer without firing a shot. We then drove into the FOB and began tossing grenades into GP mediums as we moved towards the TOC, where we “shot” the entire staff section.

I should note that the cells we lost were due to one being caught out in the open (huge danger area – poor route planning). The other was due to spending too much time close to a prominent terrain feature after calling in several fire missions. Some studious BLUFOR soldier thought about where he might put an OP and glassed them when he could see their bino’s catching sunlight.

For me, the experience proved useful the next time I was in an operational environment facing down an enemy that felt no compulsion to conform to any particular set of standards.


OPFOR = Opposition Force (bad guys)
BLUFOR = Blue Force (good guys)
HQ = Headquarters
TOC = Tactical Operations Center
TX = Transmission (radio)
DF = Direction Find
RON = Rest Over Night
TRP = Target Reference Point
BN = Battalion
SIGINT = Signals Intelligence
FOB = Forward Operating Base
OP = Observation Point

The Everyman

Wanted to share this essay written by a colleague of mine. I found it to be a thoughtful and well articulated piece.  


The Third Way

The meaning of the current heated debate in modern American political life can be extraordinarily difficult to decipher in light of the myriad conflicting assertions regarding the best direction for the country politically, ideologically, socially and economically.  Without a means of comparing and weighing each of these positions and claims, making sense of the debate can be an impossible task.

Fortunately, there is a way of understanding and comparing each of these claims.  By reducing all of the competing assertions to their principles, by going to the philosophical foundation of each claim, clarity and an ethical dilemma begins to emerge.  This distilling and cutting away brings us to a singular issue underpinning every single one of the various ideologies clamoring for ascendancy.  Do we argue that the everyman is incapable of managing his or her own affairs satisfactorily for any one of an infinite variety of reasons and take this as justification for the creation or existence of some sort of a body with the power to make decisions for him and to force compliance with these decisions when necessary?  Or, do we acknowledge the right of the everyman to run his own life regardless of of our agreement with his personal decisions, do we recognize the right of each human being to be the absolute authority in the very limited personal sphere of his or her own life, to be free to make his or her own decisions about what direction that life should take, and do we arrange our society along these lines to protect these human rights?

That is the only question that matters.  Every political solution is corollary to how one answers this basic question, where one stands on this issue of human nature and human rights.

If you answer affirmative to the first choice, there are a wide variety of flavors to choose from, but every single one rests on the assumption that the everyman is incapable of handling his affairs with adequate vision, understanding, social awareness, competence, environmental concern and so on.  The various possibilities here cover a wide variety of forms, including social democracy or overt socialism as well as its crypto-socialist variants such as modern American liberalism or progressivism.  It should be noted that modern American liberalism is a coercive ideology that has co-opted its name in an Orwellian twist and is distinct from traditional or Classical liberalism, the original advocates of small state political liberty.  Other expressions of statist coercion would include modern "capitalism", which has likewise co-opted its name in an Orwellian manner and is actually technically a form of fascism, corporatism or mercantilism.  National socialism, communism or international socialism and the various types of strongman states, dictatorships, authoritarian and totalitarian structures are likewise obviously coercive statist structures.  Without exception, every one of these possible social, political or economic systems has a singular defining feature in common.  That feature is the existence of some person or body with the power to make decisions for people without their tacit consent and against their will, and to then compel them to submit to these decisions using whatever force is necessary or expedient.  Very often this fact is camouflaged by appeals to a proclaimed higher good, such as the need for the creation of the New Soviet Man or the purification of the Aryan Race, or perhaps appeals for social justice, economic equality, a level playing field, social compassion, environmental stewardship, or any one of an endless variety of justifications.  Nonetheless, any such justifications aside, we must not lose sight of the crucial fact that any inhabitant in any such society is subject to coercion or violence if necessary in order to bring about his or her compliance with the plans of the extant regime, as opposed to merely being subject to restraint preventing them from harming or damaging another person or that persons property.  All such societies necessarily rest on a foundation of threats, force and violence, since they all share the feature of a person or body with compulsory power to make and enforce decisions about the intended direction of society.

Contrast this with a society which is based on the belief that each person should run his or her own life, whether it is because one believes that with the exception of defensive force no person has the moral or ethical right to impose their will on another human being, whether that is because one holds that only the individual is capable of determining subjectively what direction their life should take, perhaps because one has good reason to believe that such a society would be more peaceful and prosperous, or for any other reason.  If we conclude that each person should be the ultimate authority over their own life, which necessarily limits their authority to themselves and not their neighbor, then there would be no need and no place for an external body exercising policy making power and coercive powers to execute such decisions.  Such a society could properly be called a free society, due to the absence of compulsory force.  In such a society, if any venture occurred which involved more than one person, it would necessarily have to be of a voluntarily and cooperative nature given the absence of external compulsory decision making or executive power.  With the exception of the ever present possibility in humanity of individual coercive behavior, such a society could also be referred to as a peaceful society, because the foundations of such a society would rest on peaceful, voluntary cooperation as opposed to arbitrary coercion.  As a protection against the problem of individual coercive behavior, the people who lived in such a society might find it beneficial to set some ground rules about what sort of behavior is not permitted, and those rules would correctly only restrain behavior which is based on force or fraud.

The society I have just described would be defined as having in the economic realm a free market, because non-defensive force would be prohibited, meaning that any economic association would necessarily be both voluntary and mutually agreeable.  Such a society could also be described as being a free society, for the same reasons.  This would also technically be referred to as a capitalist society in the original unadulterated meaning of the word, because absent compulsory force, each person would rightly own and could dispose of whatever goods or skills he or she created or traded for, including capital, that is, the tools or means of production.  Such a society could only properly exist under the protections afforded by the rule of law, as opposed to the capricious and arbitrary rule of man.  It is hard to see how such a society could be said to be exploitative, given that any and all interactions between persons or bodies would have to be voluntary and mutually agreeable, and that legal protections would exist to uphold and protect these individual rights.  It is also hard to see how any other arrangement would be desirable, given that it is only in such a society as just described that human dignity, peace, genuine and widespread prosperity arising from free economic cooperation to maximize the benefits of the division of labor, voluntary association, freedom from force and fraud as an institutionalized constant and so on are honored and fully exist.

It is easy to see how a society of the sort described as based on force inevitably lead to all kinds of abuses and exploitation, based as they are on force wielded by a select few against the many.  This would include any one of the types of socialist societies as well as capitalist societies in the colloquial sense of the word which should be more accurately referred to as corporatism, fascism or crony capitalism.  Essentially, the commonly accepted but little considered tool of political analysis, the venerable left-right continuum, is at best completely inadequate for describing the significant aspects of political realities, and at worst is intentionally misleading.  Keep in mind that Soviet Communism would be referred to as far left, with European Social Democracy being merely left.  Everybody knows that Fascism and Nazism are extreme right-wing ideologies…   but...   what does Nazi stand for?  National Socialism.  So, the intellectually bankrupt device of the left-right continuum actually describes different types of socialist or force based societies and is therefore incapable of making the much more important distinction between coercive and free societies.  The left likes to complain about how the excesses of what they call "capitalism" lead to all kinds of corporate abuses of the environment and the common man, that the right wants to create an atmosphere favorable to select corporate interests and to impose various kinds of unwarranted controls over their personal lives.  The left is correct in these charges.  Conversely, the right likes to complain that the left wants to coercively appropriate private property, to cripple property rights and business activity in order to socially engineer some utopian goal.  These charges are correct as well.  Proponents of both camps, however, seem to be blind to the reality that their ideologies have a staggeringly important feature in common, that is, the sanction of the use of non-defensive coercive force in order to achieve some desired goal as defined by the ascendant power.  In light of this understanding, the fact that different ascendent powers have different goals and methods shrinks to irrelevance.  Any such society is by definition a force based society and as such should be rejected by any thinking person who wishes to uphold the ideals of human dignity, in favor of a peaceful and cooperative society based on the prohibition of non-defensive force under the rule of law.

When we move beyond the artificial and dangerously misleading left-right paradigm, we encounter an oft forgotten third way.  The way of voluntary cooperation and the prohibition of non-defensive force is not often spoken of in public life today, but this way is the only way that is consonant with all of the things that matter most to human beings, such as the right to be free of political coercion and politically directed violence, the right to direct ones own life and make ones own decisions, the right to spend ones own time as desired, the right to cooperate with others or not as one wishes, in essence, the rights to life, liberty and property.  That this ideal is rarely spoken of and even more rarely put into practice is no argument against it.  The historical fact that such societies, when tried, have been subverted to the interests of whatever cabal proves capable of wresting power from the individual people and communities is not an indictment of these ideals.  This is merely an indication that more effective safeguards need to be created, that greater diligence against such theft of liberty needs to be exercised.  Unless a society is based on principles of free, peaceful and voluntary cooperation with guarantees to the rights of life, liberty and property, it is, by definition, a slave society.  We must do better than this.

-- Mountain Webfoot


Reminds me of that great quote from Heinlein....

"Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Embrace the suck

Really wish I could have made it to this event. With any luck, they will be doing it again next year. Check it out here..

C.D. 24 Hour Sniper Challenge

Vuurwappen Blog has a good write up on the event here...

9 Lessons Learned

A moral people....an effective team

As I watch current events in our nation unfold like a slow-motion train wreck, I can't help but be reminded of John Adam's warning.....

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 

As we sink deeper and deeper into the collectivist quicksand, I have to wonder what Adam's reaction would be if he were able to peer through the ages and see our current state of affairs. Would he be shocked? Disappointed? Or perhaps he would just get that sickened feeling one has when a loved one, despite all admonishment,  foolishly meets their demise. 

Individual responsibility goes hand in hand with individual liberty....... while collective responsibility (which really should read "it's not my problem") passes the buck to some conceptual entity (bureaucratic government) and ushers in all the Marxist principals that we currently see being established.

For a mental exercise, lets frame this in a tactical setting...

A four man team is preparing to begin a three to four day recce operation. Once dropped by vehicle they will make their way overland, establish their ORP and proceed to overwatch a key bridge. The commander's intent is that they gather any useful information regarding enemy movements across said bridge....how many pax, how many vehicles, what type vehicle.....basic SALUTE report stuff. For a well trained team, this is an easy mission.
Now, lets replace one of the four team members at the last second with an out of shape office worker who really doesn't want to be there. Could the remaining three pros on the team still make this work? I think so...would not be fun, but they could still make it happen. How about if we replace two team members at the last second with wide-body-attitude-factories? Could the remaining pros still pull their weight and that of their worthless teammates? Possibly......I have seen it happen but probability of success starts to diminish. How about if we change up the mission and make it an area reconnaissance of a small village where terrain dictates the usage of a cloverleaf technique?
Now things become downright hazardous, as the team must move close to the target area using a great deal of stealth to avoid detection and thus being decisively engaged.

So as the team loses individuals that take their responsibility seriously, the mission becomes more and more jeopardized. What happens when you are mandated to carry said dead weight and still expected to have a successful outcome? As you become overburdened and the mission becomes more complicated, your risk of catastrophic mission failure becomes nearly assured. 

Not that anyone reading this does not already understand this particular social dynamic.....but I needed to vent a bit...