Showing posts with label Militia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Militia. Show all posts

Monday, July 21, 2014

RE: Military Vehicles on Roads.

Got a comment to yesterdays post that seemed worth addressing here. My replies are in italics


 Yogi Berra was famous for his highly intellectual quotes, one of which was "You can see a lot just by looking around."I'm all for looking around. Anonymous is right on

How many convoy serials have you bloggers commanded?

I am in Officer in the US Army. Enough to know what I am talking about. 

DOD Regulations require convoy serials to be marked clearly with signs "Convoy ahead" and other safety related equipment to conform to State and Federal Transportation regulations. (not just wide load banners with no escort.)

Every time I have done a convoy we have the stupid Convoy signs.  As to other safety gear we have all sorts of stuff but  I am not sure what you are talking about or how it relates to the conversation we are having.

Military Vehicles in CONUS must have their unit stenciled on the front and rear bumpers for easy ID with convoy serials written in chalk that is why they are referred to as chalks when they are assembled for deployment. Mainly so the MPs can write them a ticket for speeding.

Typically I have seen unit info spray painted with stencils on vehicles but 1) the exact locations vary and 2) While customary I would be interested in seeing the exact, current, regulation that specifically says that is required. 


The video was poor quality but it is clear to this old guardsman that it was not a Guard unit heading for AT or crew eval and qual.

Don't know where you are going here at all. 


It appears to be an RA road trip but it isn't headed for the border with Mexico.

What?Don't know where this is going man.


The key question is are the really knowledgeable people always vigilant?

 This is an interesting point. If you saw a bunch of vehicles loaded up with ammo boxes and live rounds fed into their crew served weapons in blocking positions on dominant terrain at key intersections one could justifiably go to condition red. On the other hand some guys driving by from here to there is almost surely nothing.

I don't have a tinfoil hat but may get one if this S#@* keeps up.

What S*&T? What specifically is the US Military doing that is giving you concern? If you were worried about the general state of our government or some federal law enforcement agency that might be a different discussion. 


I'm curious though as to where they came from and where they went? The truckers would know.
My 8 year old grandson would have asked them where they were headed at the Rest Stop when they had to take a pee and then quizzed them about how their equipment stacks up against Bradleys, BTRs, BMPs and Barretts.

Soldiers, much to their leaders disappointment have almost 0 awareness of operational security. Honestly if you ask and are not a complete dick they will probably tell you exactly where they came from, where they are going and what they are doing. 


Are these strikers part of the Ready Brigades brought back from Iraq and deployed through out the U.S.A.?

I am an Officer on active duty in the US Army and would bet a goodly sum that I currently hold a higher security clearance than you do. I genuinely do not know WTF you are talking about with this. 


Is one of these Brigades assigned to Ft Knox or Blue Grass AD?

I dunno? You talked about Mexico earlier. This is all over the place man. 


Were they on a deployment exercise or just out for a Sunday drive perhaps?

 It is possible the individuals we are talking about were doing a short local test drive but otherwise they were headed somewhere for a purpose. They definitely were not just driving around for the sake of it, especially on a weekend.


Where were they going to play?

 Probably a local place with more ranges to train on.


Garand & Lawson say in their great book "The End of Civility" that "There is no such thing as a false alarm."

I have not read that book though it does seem interesting. They seem like fine people but I am honestly not sure what to make of the quote. Seems to me like false alarms happen all the time.


Its good quick reaction drill practice. Never forget that friends.

Having a plan is always a fine thing.

Note: Sorry if I came across too harshly here. I have my fair share of integrity and have not embellished my bona fides in any way. Given that everything cool these days is SOF I would be a lot better off here in terms of this little business to stretch the truth and infer or imply having qualifications, tabs or experience I do not have. Honestly like many folks I am smart enough at something I understand to talk a little bit more than my actual ability level in a way that only a few folks might catch.

Also I try not to talk about things I am not reasonably well informed on. 

Suppose that while I am not all in your face waving a flag and yelling about my accomplishmments  I do have a healthy dose of pride in what I have done, am doing and likely will do.  As such, especially given my aforementioned honestly at the expense of my own best interest, I probably do not handle folks questioning my background or knowledge of this type stuff very well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Military Vehicles on Roads. A Nonevent with Common Explanations

About every few months somebody in the survivalist (though more lately 'patriot' community) sees a few military vehicles on the road then takes a picture. They talk about how it is a clear sign that the Federal Gubmint is coming to put them in FEMA Death Camps or the UN is invading or at the very least it is a clear breach of Posse Comitatus and or conditioning in preparation for one of the aforementioned operations in the future.

Let's take a deep breath and remove our tin foil hats. Also we might want to remove our body armor and loosen any pistol belts. A drink of water is not a bad idea either.

This is a classic Ocams Razor scenario. There are reasons military vehicles might be moving around on the open roadway that are far more likely than any of the above mentioned scenarios.

The simplest explanation is that a group of service members and or their vehicles need to get from point A to point B. Despite what you heard on midnight SW radio or some forums we do not have magical underground tunnels with roads inside. If we need to get 40 people and their vehicles to a place to train, turn in vehicles for upgrades, maintenance, etc we usually just drive there like anybody else.

At all but the biggest bases we may need to go to other areas for training. Example: while Fort Lewis is a huge base the amount and type of ranges there are limited. If we want to shoot larger weapons or conduct bigger scenarios we have to go to Yakima Training Center in central Washington. Yakima is a huge largely open training area. Think of it like the equivalent of a gravel pit where you can shoot however you want for the Army. In many other areas there are similar needs to go to a different area to train.

Sometimes loading vehicles onto trains and sending the soldiers in buses is an option, other times it does not make sense or the option is entirely unavailable. Maybe there is not a rail line right by where we need to go or the timelines do not work. Maybe due to obscure government budgeting stuff we can buy fuel and spare parts but not pay for buses.

In particular during the summer months reserve and national guard units will conduct their 2 week annual training. These groups are often located in small enclaves all over the place. This is especially true of the guard which might have 1 platoon in a town, a company in the next town, etc. All of these groups will need to gather into larger groups and travel to some sort of base to conduct their normal annual training which is typically split between knocking out various requirements (weapons qual, various mandatory tasks, etc) and some sort of scenario based exercise or war game. These things happen every year. The guard in particular tend to do 1 big scheduled event very year at the Brigade or even state level. If you looked carefully through the local news it would probably not be too hard to learn that the XX Brigade which is the XX State's guard unit is conducting their AT at Fort Whatever from 1-15 August.

These groups stop at various points along their routes for the same boring reasons you stop on a long drive. Mostly soldiers need to pee, get another giant monster and more chew or maybe pick up some snacks.

Look is you see armed soldiers (or marines) setting up check points [not to be confused with directing traffic if a vehicle breaks down, etc] or machine gunning people it is time to worry. Actually at that point it is probably too late but you get the idea. 

The comments section here could be interesting. By all means chime in with your opinion.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Militia opens fire on government forces

BOSTON – Police and National Guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed Sunday by elements of a para-military right wing extremist faction.
Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.
Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist militia faction has citizens whohave links to the radical right wing tax protest movement.
Gage blamed the militia for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices.
The governor who described the group’s organizers as “terrorists” , issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the governments efforts to secure law and order.
The law enforcement team augmented by elements of the National Guard, were sent to raid a militia arsenal after widespread refusal of right wing extremists to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons.
This decision followed a meeting in early July between government and law enforcement which authorized the confiscation of the illegal arms, known as the weapons of choice among criminals and militias.
One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out “that none of these people would have been killed had right wing extremist obeyed the law and turned over the weapons voluntarily” .
Police and government forces initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition.
However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily armed militia extremist who had been tipped off regarding the government’s plans.
During a tense stand-off in Lexington ‘s town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes.
The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right wing extremist.
Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange.
Ironically, the local citizens blamed the government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths.
Before order could be restored, heavily armed militia groups from surrounding areas had descended upon the police and guard units.
Colonel Smith finding his forces over matched by militia mobs, ordered a retreat.
Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order.
The governor has also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government.
Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist militia faction remain at large.
( The American Revolution begins, as reported by Associated Press)
(Compiled by Charles Norton and New American Magazine.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thoughts on Insurgencies Four

Thoughts on Insurgencies # Something
1) Occupiers or liberators (depending on which side you are on) can only have limited success when they willingly ceede terrain to the freedom fighters/ guerillas. If the Cong or Taliban are able to come into the village at night the occupiers will never be able to keep the populace safe or deny access to them to the guerillas.
2) If you are a guerilla or a partisan or really have picked any kind of side then keep it to yourself for a long time. In WWII parts of Europe (Holland and most of Russia come to mind) changed hands repeatedly. It would be very bad to have been loudly bragging about all the Germans you killed and how much stuff you broke to then have the tanks roll back in. If I was in a situation where some partisan shenannigans seemed appropriate I would certainly conduct them alone or in a very small group of people I trust deepy and would probably take them to my grave.
3) If you are anything except an occupier or a strait up hiding in the woods Red Dawn style partisan then be as grey as you can be. Grey will keep you alive.
4) American forces and to a lesser degree our allies that have been involved in the GWOT have learned some interesting skills. They have gotten really good at searching houses and structures. They are also using some very interesting technology in terms of biometrics. Getting a big enough database makes population and resource control very easy.
5) UAV's are suprisingly ineffective in weather that is less than ideal. In particular low level cloud cover and wind are issues for them.
Well that is all for now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bags VS Chest Rigs/ LBE's

Bags that are expressedly built to carry the necessary stuff for a rifle fight (but not fit the rifle itself) have started popping up over the last few years. I got to thinking about them today because I saw someone talking about them on some blog. After some reflection here are my thoughts.

As a replacement for a chest rig/ lbe rifle bags are junk. They are hard to carry under less than casual walking around conditions. Seriously when was the last time you tried to run a couple miles with a fairly heavy duffel bag flopping around all over the place? Bet it wasn't real comfortable. What about trying to overcome real world type obstacles with a duffel bag getting hung up on everything?

I know that no matter what I am doing with a chest rig/ rack or to a slightly lesser degree an LBE (they flop around more) I know exactly where my mags are and can get them out quickly. My IFAK is in the same place also, not burried in a small duffel bag flopping around someplace.

If I saw a realistic chance of anything happening I would toss a legit chest rif inside of a duffel bag to carry it around conveniently and discretely if need be. So a 'rifle bag' does not replace a chest rig/ rack/ lbe for likely combat type situations. I would not say that doesn't mean they cannot have a legitimate nitche. What is that nitche exactly?

To me that nitche is as more of a tactical equivalent of a range bag. There is not a known or likely scenario where you see yourself using your rifle. You are just going camping or on a road trip or like to keep a gun in the trunk or whatever. While you aren't planning on anything really bad happening having 4-6 mags, a few extra boxes of ammo, maybe a tourniquet or two and some misc gun stuff just makes sense. Instead of having junk all over the place it is desirable to keep everything nicely organized in a purpose built bag.

A bag of this type is on my long list of gear.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"There is no such thing as tough. There is trained and untrained. Now which are you?"

I put this quote from the great action movie Man On Fire up here awhile back. Recently some conversations I have seen have brought me back to it. "Tough" doesn't matter and is really just bravado and bluster. Simply put you either know what you are doing or you don't.

The idea that people are born tough in a certain area or lifestyle is stupid to begin with. Every guy who has a horse isn't Billy the Kid and no matter where you come from you are not automatically a competent fighter in any style. That is just as ridiculous as saying that because you are from Pittsburgh you automatically  know how to make steel.  You can be a healthy physically fit guy yet don't know how to box and you step into the ring with a good Golden Gloves boxer (or God forbid a pro) it is not going to go well.

You may go target shooting or hunting but aside from a bit of basic gun handling and time in the woods those have little to do with fighting with guns as an individual or a group. Saying they are similar is like saying that because someone can swing a hammer they can automatically build a house. Aside from a few places which are in almost constant states of warfare like Afghanistan or the FATA/ NWP areas of Pakistan little boys do not learn how to fight with guns. It just doesn't happen in places which do not suck.

Seriously gun fighting is a skill not something you can reliably just do. If you start getting multiple people on either side doing it safely stops being a skill and starts being a science.  I am not going to say where to seek training or even what kind to seek. The military is a very good source as we actually do this stuff instead of some schools whose main qualifications are wearing pressed $500 worth of tactical clothing and hawking various products. I spend my days around E4's and Sergeants who have more real world gun fighting experience than most tactical pants instructors. There are some good civilian schools out there if you can look past the matching tactical pants guys to the ones who teach combat tested and proven skills.

In any case the point is that you need to get some training. Go forth and train.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts On Insurgencies Two

The first one was well received and I really enjoyed writing it. I've been thinking on the topic again recently. In no particular order.

One thing I find incredibility amusing is that so many folks who could be called wanna be insurgents (lets face it the difference between a freedom fighter/ patriot and and terrorist is if they are on or against your side) completely ignore fitness. I like the term insurgent largely because it is relatively judgment neutral. You see the old school videos of the Michigan militia or whatever and it is usually a bunch of fat old guys standing there shooting rifles. Seriously insurgents do not fight static fights. They initiate an ambush or blow a bomb or conduct a raid and get away really fast before a large group of better armed and supported individuals comes to kill them. This usually means being able to move on foot quickly for some distance. If you are 40 pounds overweight you will not be able to get away and you will die. Insurgency is a very Darwinian business and that doesn't go well for fatties and idiots.

Onto the topic of idiots. A man, or I guess a woman, has got to know his limitations. This means being careful and choosy about the kind of fight they get into. They need to pick a fight with the right group of individuals or in a place that suits their capabilities, ideally some combination of both. They also need to pick a fight that they can get away from. Unless you're down with the whole suicide thing you need a real solid exit plan.

In terms of numbers and weapons insurgents always face bad odds. However if 3 insurgents with knives find an occupier in a dark alley it doesn't matter that his side has the overall odds in their favor. The same could be said if a section or platoon sized element of insurgents hits a squad sized patrol and gets away fast enough to miss the QRF.

As some folks mention to me not everybody is in their 20's or 30's and physically fit. I would submit to you that there are a lot of lot of 40 and 50 often with numerous poorly treated wounds from decades of almost constant warfare. Those 40-50 something year old insurgents are giving our boys in Afghanistan hell but they are in shape. Saying that you are older and thus in horrible shape is an excuse, sorry but it's true. For a person with a truly (not you are obese and go figure your joints aren't handling the weight well) destroyed knee or back, some kind of other medical problem, etc the idea of being an active rifleman in an insurgency while it has a certain mystique just isn't realistic. That is OK though.....

Why is that OK? Well the first reason is that it's life. If you have MS then running all over the place doing direct action stuff just isn't realistic. If you have a destroyed knee then hiking 20k through the night to get to a perfect point to mortar a small outpost isn't realistic either. However unlike the "every man is a rifleman and we will fight together" propaganda reality is that only part of an insurgencies total participants are active combatants in the traditional sense. So there is still a role for people who can't go running and gunning, in fact there are many roles. How are there many roles you ask?

Think of our modern conventional forces. They are not composed entirely of Infantrymen and Armor guys but in fact there are numerous other units and jobs, some of which have almost nothing to do with killing people, blowing stuff up and holding territory.

Insurgencies would need explosives efforts, logistics people, medical folks, intelligence and many other types of skills. A 55 year old ER doctor with a huge gut and bad knees is more valuable than a squad or even a section of fit 20 year old guys who can carry a rifle. A boringly average 40 year old woman who had a mediocre job in local government and was able to remember stuff from work, write it down at home and pass it to the right people could be a huge intel asset. A guy who is able to discretely bring continuous if modest donations (from his buddies at the country club or the shooting range or church or whatever) coming in could keep the shooters in the field.

Even the most boring guy with no real skills could help by offering to run an occasional short term safe house. Meeting them at a good bland place and pulling into the garage before the people get out and them staying out of the front room with the open window would be all the security that is needed.  All that would be needed is a bed or a cot, a stocked fridge/ pantry and some form of entertainment. Cable TV or a good stash of books and games would be sufficient. Most likely they would just sleep a lot and sit around. This would be a bad one for somebody with kids because even if coached they have no mental filters. Your 6 year old daughter talking about the strangers who come over for a few nights occasionally would cause real problems. This one would be best left to those without kids in the home.

Even a grandma who was willing to let somebody stash stuff in a false wall in the spare bedroom could be of a real help. Maybe she is just helping out or maybe she gets a few bucks now and then. Lots of inner city drug people keep their stash in the home of a seemingly innocent and unconnected family. The rent is paid and they let people drop off and pick up packages.

Insurgents need continued sources of revenues to operate. They have got to eat, purchase arms and ammunition and do all sorts of stuff that costs money. Typically this money comes from either outside donations (from a foreign power or well funded friends like the Saudi's) or coercing the local populace. Robbery, kidnapping and other general criminal behavior is also often employed to get funds to continue the fight. There is a reason that now and then you hear about some extremist group getting arrested for robbing a bank. It isn't that they want to rob banks parse but that they need money to fund future operations. That doesn't mean those are the only options. A small part time operation could require minimal funding because the participants have normal jobs support themselves that way. They would also have the advantage of good cover. Instead of being the 4 guys who live in an apartment, don't seem to have jobs and come and go at odd hours it would be Jim the accountant and his wife Sally the home maker, members of the Elks lodge and solid members of the community. Of course their OP Tempo would be a lot slower because no matter how motivated you are a normal job and life would greatly limit time to fight those darn occupiers. Also these folks would not be the backbone of a successful insurgency but that doesn't mean they couldn't be valuable members, particularly if they had access to Intel, useful skills or deep pockets.

As a final thought it might not be a bad idea to keep some stuff stashed though for survivalists that is old hat. Of course it is all but impossible to stockpile enough stuff to sustain an insurgency forever but it wouldn't be too hard to get a good start. Pretty hard to spend a couple days doing a recon without chow and if there is a way to shoot people without bullets I don't know what it is. Ammo that you can get now with the only limiting factor being your ability to pay might be next to impossible to get if through normal channels if supplies were interrupted due to restrictions because of a conflict. A couple hundred bucks worth of ammo now could be enough to do a lot of damage later.

Well I could talk on this topic for some time but I've got to go to bed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fantasy vs Reality

It occurred to me just a minute ago how much of a role fantasy plays in survivalism/ preparedness.

Part of it is that while we don't want to admit it preparedness is in many ways a hobby. Yeah it could be real important some day but on a normal everyday basis it is a thing we allocate resources and time to because it gives us enjoyment/ entertainment in some form or another. In that respect it is not so different than being in a softball league or bass fishing or stamp collecting or any other hobby. Seriously you can sharp shoot that statement all day long but it has at least some truth.

We can also want to be vindicated and thus entertain very specific worst case scenarios that let what we like and prepare for shine. A guy with a super fancy tricked out rifle envisions it saving his life and whatever. A guy with a closet full of Mosin Nagants imagines arming/ forming a large neighborhood guard or a militia. An avid gardener imagines their massive crop feeding the whole neighborhood. A person with great preps envisions being able to be the neighborhood hero. Somebody who has an awesome "retreat" but debt up to their eyeballs sees things falling apart and them being in a great position.

More concerning is the inverse of this fantasy worst case scenario. Simply put by focusing too heavily on this tailor made scenario they ignore a variety of other scenarios, much to their detriment. The guy with a super fancy rifle who also doesn't have any food ignores the possibility that we will not be attacked by a bunch of thugs and will sit there bored and very hungry. Instead of another sweet mil spec wanna be accessory he should get some frickin food. The very nice friendly gardener lady (The ones who go whole hog preparedness but totally ignore defense tend to be women) ignores the distinct possibility that she could need to protect herself from violence or theft. Somebody might want all of her food instead of a basket full or they might even want her. Instead of another garden bed she should buy and learn to use a defensive firearm. The guy with a basement full of preps doesn't have any savings. He somehow sees complex and unlikely worst case scenarios playing out but not say an unexpected emergency car or home repair. I wonder how these guys plan to push a homeless guy cart around with a years worth of food and a dozen guns in it after a fairly normal life event leads to their financial situation falling apart. 

The guy with the awesomely setup and well stocked retreat but debt up to his eyeballs sees scenarios where his debt is almost magically washed away but he still has all the cool stuff and preps. This guy is probably the most idealistic and fantasy fueled of all. He is almost wishing for (a narrowly and conveniently defined) TEOTWAWKI. He talks about how the "sheeple" will get their due and he will finally get to live free and untroubled by money concerns. He really thinks it would be great to not have to pay back the guys who loaned him the money for the land and the house and all the stuff. He thinks about how his sucky money situation would be washed away but fails to see that in significant ways people who have never even heard of preparedness but just keep their financial houses in order are probably more likely in the long run to have good outcomes than he. Instead of looking at his massive mortgage (possible an ARM) he sees a wonderful "retreat" on a nice piece of productive land and instead of a huge visa bill he sees a pair of night vision goggles and a pair of cool rifles. 

When doing a final edit on this I  realized that in all but one of the above scenarios the individual was specifically identified as a man. This wasn't conscious but is definitely significant. Upon 5 seconds of reflection I realize something. Aside from the (predominantly liberal and pseudo environmentalist) woman who make great preparations in many ways but completely ignore protecting themselves; women tend to take a pragmatic and realistic stance toward preparedness. It is us guys who seem to fall into these at least partially fantasy fueled preparations.

I am certainly not going to claim perfection. I have fallen into a stereotype or two myself as I started with a pretty solid gun collection and went from there. However as time goes by I am allocating a majority of my resources in a more reasonable manner which is the goal.

It is fine to day dream now and then. Just don't take the next step and focus too heavily on scenarios that involve buying toys you like, hobbies you enjoy or happen to just work out real conveniently for you. At a minimum at least consider your vulnerability to scenarios that do not happen to be tailor made to your interests and position. I urge you to be realistic and prepare for a variety of scenarios, not just the one that happens to be convenient and ideal.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thoughts On Insurgencies....

Last week I got to talking with a co worker about insurgencies. Also I prioritized watching and really enjoyed a recent episode of FRONTLINE where a reporter spent 10 days with the Taliban. Based on these two things I have some thoughts on insurgencies in Iraq (more a couple years ago than now) and Afghanistan as well as elsewhere.

-First insurgents need to blend in with the population be it in a rural or urban setting. Of course their neighbors know what is up but they will not tell the occupiers. Insurgents out in a non typical for the area heavily armed compound never have a happy ending. However just another house or farm which has the normal comings and goings (versus say 30 military aged males) is not going to get noticed.

-Secondly insurgents have the ability to choose where and when they fight. To be blunt if they are on the defensive as anything but a delaying action before retreating from superior forces they get massacred. However if they choose a time and place that suits their strengths and minimizes their weaknesses they can do some real damage with a rifle and 4 mags a piece. Considering that US Infantry are likely carrying close to half their weight in stuff it isn't suprising that they can't catch the Taliban when they retreat. (There is a very interesting article called Bring Back The Light Infantry Projecting Combat Power More Effectively that you may get something out of ) .

While I do have a stark differences with the Taliban and their Al Queda friends (I want to kill them and they want to kill me) I can honestly say that they are very effective Light Infantry. They are very physically fit, highly motivated and adept at fighting in their environment. They know how to use their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. They attack at times of their choosing with IED's and complex heavy weapons ambushes from outside of the engagement range of most of our organic platoon weapons. I hate pretty much everything they stand for but darn it I can't say they are not very good Infantrymen.

-I think a modern insurgency needs the ability to get at least a mobility kill against moving armored tracked vehicles. Without this the other side is able to move with impunity which is not a good thing for said insurgents. If the insurgents can't find an answer to this issue it is going to just massacre them. Insurgents can't win in stand up fights so if they also can't engage mobile forces they are pretty much done for. The way they are successful is by making the cost of conducting everyday operations (movement, log pacs, transport, combat ops, etc) high and eventually outlasting them.

Being able to (at least mobility) kill an armored vehicle means more than punching a hole in the side of it with a .50 cal. It requires anti tank mines, some sort of heavy IED's or genuine modern anti tank weapons. Usually manufacturing IED's is the most practical option as all it takes is some decent explosives and a bit of ingenuity. A reasonably motivated fellow with a bit of initiative and access to some sort of explosives could make an IED but making a home made Javaline missile is at best a difficult prospect.

- Insurgents have a hard time with communication. Particularly when facing a major modern military their attempts at any form of discrete radio or electric or electronic communication are futile. A modern highly skilled force that has almost limitless (at least relative to the insurgents) resources can break any form of electronic or radio communication insurgents are capable of fielding widely enough to be tactically useful. A few authors and bloggers talk about how various forms of COMSEC (namely digital encryption) which can be downloaded for free and used by anyone with half a brain can easily defeat group of dozens of PHD holding geniuses who have nothing but time and the most powerful computers in the world. If you didn't pick it up from the last sentence; to be very blunt I do not think the kind of COMSEC available to average normal citizens is good for much but keeping Barney Fife from the local PD from knowing what you are doing.

One technique which has been used with moderate success is pre paid anonymous cell phones. In some places they are really the only kind available anyway. The theory is that if someone on one anonymous cell phone calls someone on another one it is totally discrete. Easy wireless secure communications for prices any insurgent can afford.

Here is reality. People are lazy and stupid and modern methods of tracking/ snooping on cell phones are very good. This is how laziness and modern snooping collide. Lets say a dozen insurgents all have anonymous pre paid cell phones. Someones gets lazy and uses theirs to call their Moms house or their buddy at the local Mosque to ask what time the potluck is. Being as the people who are looking for them have done a good job in targeting they were snooping on Momma and the Mosques phone lines. They electronically snoop on the pre paid cell  phone now, really recording and searching for key words (bomb, Allah, US, soldier, rifle, Israel, whatever). Pretty darn quickly they realize this phone is of interest. Lazy Insurgent calls one of his co conspirators to talk about the big soccer game or planting some IED's. Now they got Co Conspirators number from Lazy Insurgent. Of course being smart they wait awhile and Co Conspirator calls a couple more Insurgent buddies and so does Lazy Insurgent. More likely than not the whole network gets taken down.

Insurgents have realized this to a certain degree. They realize that if nothing else due to sheer dumb luck (it is hard to track all the cell phone conversations in a decent sized town but they will sure listen to some)  that sooner or later their network is going to get infiltrated. Their answer to this is that it is easy enough to just toss a cheap anonymous cell phone and get another one. Seriously for $20 or so even your average small farmer/ insurgent can afford a new one, particularly with some help from their Saudi friend at the Mosque. However they can never seem to all ditch them at the same time. As we noted above with the way that these phones are tracked it does no good for one person to ditch theirs unless everyone they call and everyone who calls them does also, at the exact same time. Insurgents have a real hard time with this one for some reason.

The answer that Al Qaeda and the Taliban eventually came to is based on admitting that they will never be able to reliably use modern communication (radio, the internet, phones, etc all) securely. They went stone age simple and primarily rely on runners. The most sophisticated surveillance can't tell you what a scrap of paper in some guys pocket says or what the message he memorized means. This stone age method of communication combined with a a structure of cells which means the capture of any one person doesn't take everyone down is pretty effective.

Insurgents by and large just can't come up with a way to cancel out the problem of their enemy controlling the air. Not even Hamas has an air force. Without lots of money and great (from this perspective) connections getting your hands on decent man portable surface to air weapons is not realistic. The large occupying force controls the skies. Insurgents can mitigate this by blending into the population and doing things to not obviously look like insurgents. Having someone who watches the airfield the helicopters operate out of that tells them when they take off and in which direction would help a lot also. Drone aircraft are an interesting development but they don't fundamentally change the situation. Large well funded forces always controlled the skies.

Finally to close the biggest thing that benefits insurgents is taking a long view. As the Taliban say "you've got the watches but we have the time." Sort of like George Washington (a real old school insurgent;) and the Continental Army they do not have to win any battles, they just have to not get totally wiped out. Most insurgencies do not develop into full scale conflict where insurgents openly battle occupiers. If insurgents were capable of openly battling the occupiers and winning they would not be insurgents, it would be a conventional fight. It is more realistic that insurgents annoy the heck out of (yeah it is far more than annoying if it is your patrol/ convoy that gets shot to pieces but we are looking at the big strategic picture here) the occupiers until they decide the cost isn't worth it and leave. Insurgents want to make the cost of occupying their area higher than the occupiers are willing to bear.

I hope you found this somewhat informative and maybe even interesting as I spent a ridiculous amount of time writing it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

quote of the day

"Partisans are free of supply worries only in the orthodox military sense. They can live without regular rations, blankets, underwear, shoelaces, and toothpaste. But they must eat."
-Leo Heiman, a veteran of the Rossokovsy Brigade of Russian Partisans

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Question of the Day

Does your group/ family/militia whatever you wannna call it have standard firearms? If so what are they?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Militias: What They Were. What They Are, What They Can Do and Examples

I have been sort of holding off on this for awhile because well it is going to be a long and complicated post. Today is as good a day as any so I will get started.

Questioning the sanctity of militias in this group is probably more dangerous than saying you voted for Diana Feinstein and party regularly with Bernanke. Anyway I am going to attempt to look at the role of militias in America from the establishment of the new world to now. Also I am going to try and look at some of the examples of successful militias and question what militias can do for our national security. This should be fun.

Militias have a long history. Groups of cave men likely had something like a militia where able bodied men used what weapons were at hand to defend themselves and or just kill other groups of cave men. Prior to division of labor people probably fought much shorter battles because they were unable to really store up food. I imagine groups occasionally bumping into each other and sometimes fighting being the norm.

In England militias have a long tradition. They were a come as you are sort of affair. Our colonial militias were drawn along these lines. Colonial militias were not created because they were the best option, they were created because of a lack of better options. Warfare at that point was so localized that a standing army 20 miles away would not do any good. Also since these colonies were chartered by private companies they were watching their dollars. The general idea was that all able bodied males are armed and will come together to defend their village from aggression or try to massacre the local Indians when they become a bother.

While some militia units did awesome things for every one of them there was at least one bumbling expedition lead by a complete fool that ended in total disaster. Having the head of the militia often be a political figure had disastrous results in many cases. This brings us to a couple of interesting points.

First of all a real problem the militias had in the various conflicts up to and including the French and Indian War was that they were local. Often militias were fairly well organized at the local level and could be called up by the states but that was it. Often say the New Hampshire militia would refuse to go to Vermont to assist them in fighting. Even getting them to leave their local area was often difficult. Don't get my wrong I totally understand why these men wanted to protect their families, homes and livelihoods but a few guys here and a few guys there guarding their towns is not how wars are won. Because of their desire to protect their homes and Governors desires to protect their state and or internal squabbles militias efforts stumbled. By and large in this period they were often unable to achieve Mass, did not have good Unity of Command and lacked Economy of Force. The end of the French Indian was brings us pretty much up to the American Revolution.

To bring this period to a close I think the main points were as follows. Militias were definitely the cheapest and most expedient way to bring a level of protection to the local level. Their performance was good and bad depending mostly on the quality of their key leadership. Ability to work effectively in a regional sense was often hampered by the localized structure of militias and their sometimes unwillingness to go far from home.

The American Revolution is often what is cited as the great American example of why we are awesome and why militias are amazing. I do think it is completely awesome that a bunch of folks stood up the the most powerful and well trained army in the world to pursue the goal of freedom.  Of course these folks could not have done so had they not been armed but we will revisit that point later.

To say American militias beat the Redcoats is a serious oversimplification. To say that America was very lucky that the Revolution happened in a period where England and France happened to be fighting it out abroad would be accurate. To say that American militias were able to avoid being totally destroyed until a the Continental Army could be raised and foreign aid could be secured is probably accurate if not philosophically pleasing.

One part I would like to note from this period is that military and civilian arms at the time were very comparable. In fact in some ways the rifles many colonists carried were superior to the Brown Bess. A group of militiamen from some village were probably equipped in a roughly comparable way as a comparable group of redcoats.

After the Revolutionary War over time the concept of a compulsory militia of all able bodied males became less prevalent as the necessity for it went away.

From the late 19th to early 20th century state militias became much more organized at a federal level. This period saw the Militia Act of 1903 and the creation of the National Guard. as we know it today. This is also where we are going to see a significant shift between what militias were and what they are today. Militias were compulsory organizations of all able bodied adult males of military age who often provided their own weapons and equipment and occasionally (varying widely by period and region) trained at the local level. Though they draw lineage from the militias of the past it could be argued that today's National Guard has little in common with the militias of the past. First of all they are volunteer organizations composed of a relatively small group of individuals and all of the equipment is provided by the Guard and centrally stored at their Armories. The guard is more of a professional  though part time part of the U.S. Army than a militia group at least for the sake of this discussion. One could talk all about the Guard but that isn't really what this is about so further discussion will not involve the National Guard unless they are specifically mentioned.

People who are championing the militia concept often speak of Switzerland as a great example. I will agree with this with one significant proviso. The Swiss have a very good compulsory militia. That they have a strong tradition of marksmanship and keep their weapons at home would help greatly should they need to be activated. Also that they keep their noses entirely out of every ones business and stick to chocolate and banking helps a lot but that is another discussion entirely.

My proviso is as follows. The Swiss militia had little to do with Germany not invading in WWII. It is fashionable in some circles to say that the Swiss militias were so well trained and great marksmen, etc that Hitler decided not to fight them. I think if we really take an objective look it was geography that kept Switzerland safe, well that and some collaboration. If the Swiss people with their tradition of neutrality and strongly militaristic culture and corresponding militia had happened to live in Poland they would have been Blitzkrieg-ed.

Someone, likely Brass is going to bring up both Vietnam vs France and then the US and the Afghans vs, well everyone who has ever came to Afghanistan but mostly them vs the Ruskies. Small wars/ wars of empire/ whatever the term of the period are an interesting beast. The indigenous group involved tends to do better when there is an outside group providing them with weapons/ equipment and better still when they have a safe haven.  The American Revolution would have been a lot different without help from France and Spain. Vietnam would have been a very different war without the Commies giving aid to the North and them having a safe haven in neighboring countries. The Afghans would have had a far harder time fighting off the Ruskies without massive foreign aid, mainly from America and Saudi Arabia. The Afghan elements we are fighting today would have a harder time without a safe haven in Pakistan.

Maybe it is just because I am in the military but I think these wars are won or lost more by political decisions than military skill/ might. If we really look at it the key factors in these sorts of engagements are how realistic (or unrealistic) the political goals which took the military (Russian, US, whatever) there and their willingness to do what is necessary to meet those goals than anything else. Going back to my post yesterday the military can kill people, break stuff and control space/ deny that space to others. If the enemy crossing an imaginary line gives them a safe haven, there aren't enough troops to get the job done and or the goals are entirely unrealistic the best military in the world can't win. Just to put it into perspective I could whoop a very good boxer in a fist fight if he had drank a quart of booze, was wearing a blindfold and had an arm tied behind his back.

As to the concept of militias in modern America. Some liberals and anti gun folks portray modern militias as a bunch of white, racist trailer trash has been/ never were types with beer guts who get together to shoot guns, ramble anti government conspiracies and drink beer. Liberty and militia type folks will portray modern militias as pro American, well trained and competent, freedom loving individuals looking to protect their communities and families, modern Minute Men if you will. To be honest I think they are both probably somewhat right with their portrayals personifying the extremes of the modern militia movement.

As for how effective militia groups would be I think we first need to say it would vary widely based on the militia itself. That group of a few fat drunk has been/ never were types who get together to ramble about conspiracies and drink some beer would probably not be an effective fighting force unless their job was to turn full beer cans into empty beer cans. A group of reasonably fit and well trained individuals who were properly equipped and effectively lead that took on realistic missions could probably get some stuff done.

Now we ask, effective against what? Lets say there two broad possibilities would be foreign invasion and some sort of an internal problem (I will let you imagine your own scenario).

So lets just say that those darn Canadians raise a million man Army and invade the US. A bunch of militia men in foxholes would not be able to stop an Armored column from taking over their town. Now if they were smart and realistic they could harass the heck out of them and get their hands on some heavy machine guns and then become a real pain a la Red Dawn. Offing a guy here, blowing up a truck there and stealing some supplies in another place is not going to get those darn Canadians back over the border. However the more resources they have to spend guarding their logistics and hind quarters the fewer they have to fight our conventional forces and continue their invasion.

Now to an internal scenario. I think this is where a militia could have some real value. Even those fat drunks might well be able to get together and protect their families, all of their pickups and at least one of the trailers. Also depending on exactly what the scenario is they might be able to get some stuff done. An effective militia force would likely have solid well thought out plans to protect their families and such in their immediate area which could have some real value in an internal scenario.

I think the biggest things holding militias back are that they are now small, marginally equipped (for modern warfare) and varying trained:

Instead of every able bodied male being in the militia a la colonial America they are now very small select organizations at least by % of the total population. Lots of very competent and well trained folks stay away from militias because they do not want to deal with hassles and put their freedom/ family at risk by drawing that bulls eye on their head. Between unfriendly government agencies, their informants, and just plain psychos in their ranks militias these folks see them as a dangerous group to be involved with. Entrapment is a dangerous thing and conspiracy is a very open ended phrase.

Our weapons laws being what they are militia groups are really handicapped. Either they are seriously lacking weapons for modern warfare or they are probably breaking the law. Class III weapons being highly regulated, rare and VERY EXPENSIVE mean they are almost surely not widely fielded. While it doesn't matter if someones individual rifle goes bang once, three times or repeatedly when the trigger is pulled medium and heavy machine guns are very useful. Also mortars and anti armor weapons are not present at least in more than a token sense.

Of the three things likely holding militia groups back training is the one they can realistically do the most about. Honestly I doubt a group which did not have some experienced folks in key positions for both training and potential operations could be successful. Setting and enforcing standards would be essential. Physical fitness is key. Selection, size, recruitment and training always go together. If goals are set too high you will have three or four highly qualified (whatever that means to you) folks and if they are set too low you will have a bunch of worthless buffoons. Setting realistic goals for who you want to recruit and figuring out how to get them to join and stay would likely be the biggest challenge of a militia.

Broadly speaking the two roles militias have been best in were immediate localized defense and as a balwark against tyranny. Seeing as the Indians have pretty much been done declaring war on local towns and burning isolated farms and we have two weak neighbors (though I am watching those darn Canadians) immediate local defense is probably not a big concern. As for the militias role in preventing tyranny I think it is a distant second to the fact that Americans own about a billion guns but is positive none the less.

I just want to say this was a long post and I didn't spend weeks researching it so I am not going to debate small historic points with you. However discussing broad trends and conclusions should keep us plenty busy.
Thoughts?

Edited to include:
To my fat drunk readers in trailers. Sorry if it seemed like I was taking a shot at you guys. It is the liberal anti gun totalitarians stereotype, not mine. I think you are great just the way you are and am fine if you don't want to change. Its just that if you are serious about being part of some sort of militia it might be wise to be a bit more about the exercise. Again sorry if I offended.

Edited again to include:
To all. My point certainly is not to belittle militias or say they could not do some good things. If it came off that way maybe I am having an off day. Note that for both an internal scenario and an external threat I mentioned areas where a militia could be quite successful. Also in mentioning what I see to be their biggest limitations it doesn't take much imagination to turn two of them into a blue print on how to do it very well.  The one they can't do much about is weapons. Unless they can get their hands on Javalines at Costco and RPG's and heavy machine guns at Walmart they are pretty much left to improvise or try and scrape some up if need be. My goal was to look at militias both in the past and today through a pragmatic lense instead of one tinted by political leanings. If I got you thinking a bit more critically it was at least a partial success.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What Does The Military Do.

This might seem simplistic or pointless but it is going to build into what I hope will be some interesting stuff. Today I want to talk about what the military does. It is fine to talk about projecting power and fancy mission statements and the like but I want to boil it all down to a few simple and concrete capabilities. After a lot of thinking I came up with 3 major capabilities and a couple minor ones.

First of all we kill people. It is not nice or politically correct to say that but it is absolutely true. Maybe it is a plane or an ODA taking out some asshats in a compound somewhere or a torpedo taking out a ship but the end result is the same.

Second of all we break stuff. We are great at breaking all sorts of stuff.

Third we can control an area be it land, sea or air. We can occupy this area, keep it free for our purposes or deny the use of this area to other people.This could be occupying a village somewhere or blockading a port or whatever.

Usually the stuff we do is some varying combination of these three. When that ODA raids a compound they will kill some folks and almost certainly break some stuff. For at least a short period of time they will also occupy a piece of ground and deny its use to others. Be it the scalpel of precision bombing and SOCOM or the sledgehammer of an Armored Division pretty much everything we do involves some varying combination of these three capabilities.

I said there were a couple of minor capabilities. To me these are more of a bi product than anything else.

First we are able to train people. We have the ability to train people because that is how we get people who can do the things we want them to be able to do. A group of folks who can train Americans to be snipers can with some additional instruction and language capabilities (often interpreters) train people who are from other countries to be snipers. We train a lot of folks all over the world to do a lot of stuff for many reasons but by and large this is usually an ad hoc affair thrown together to fill some sort of need.

The last capability is for humanitarian assistance and disaster response. This one makes the last one seem well planned and organized. Ingrained in our above capabilities is a variety of assets when it comes to transportation, construction, medical care and the like. Big trucks are useful for disaster response and so are large groups of able bodied people who are organized. We can have a thousand men filling sandbags in Iowa next week if need be.

Maybe I missed something small but by and large these are what we do.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Militias Work!

Do Militias work... They do in fighting the Taliban. Its something people should remember in this country.
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