Showing posts with label explosives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label explosives. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quotes of the Day The Fall of Sam Ax

“That’s going be your detonator, tape it on top of the valve” Sam
“Real quick the warning label says keep away” Doctor
“Yeah but we are building a bomb so you do the opposite….” Sam

 “Just to clarify commander, you decided to join the group you were sent to Columbia to investigate?” Investigator
“Join is a strong word” Sam

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Why did you do that, why did you light the fuse man?" - Hugo
"Why wouldn't I light the fuse?" -Locke
"Maybe because I was running towards you waving my arms and yelling don't do that." -Hugo
"laughter... well you got a point there, I guess I was just excited."-Locke

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.

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.

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.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mortars and Money: My Day and End The Fed IPR

I have all sorts of stuff in my head but am tired, hungry, thirsty, in the middle of an awkward freezing/ thawing cycle and scatter brained. Also I made a sort of promise to myself to write every day if possible, I didn't say anything about it being organized or good.

Today I got to shoot mortars a bunch which was pretty awesome. We had 60's and 81's and rounds a plenty. First we layed the section in, registered it and all the normal adjust fire stuff but we also did hip shoot and direct lay. I particularly enjoyed shooting the 60mm mortar hand held.

One of our instructors said this is the only way they shot mortars in Iraq. It is by far the least accurate way to shoot a mortar since you are just pointing the tube at the target. The apparatus on the top of the trigger allows you to measure distance which is essential as the lobbing trajectors would be just about impossible to Kentucky windage unless all you did was handheld firing of mortars. The reason hand held is so widely used is that it is by far the lightest configuration with just the tube, a tiny base plate and rounds versus the tube, a big base plate and the bipod legs. Also maybe more importantly it is very very fast. No FO and FDC or adjustments or leveling bubbles. You put the mortar tube onto the ground, put a round with the right charge in it, point it at the target, get the right range and shoot. One could easily be driving around, take fire and be putting rounds downrange in well under a minute. The limitations are that you have to be able to see the target, the target has to be pretty close (probably under 1k) and it is not particularly accurate.

If in addition to the section sized PSD element I have on request I could get a section of mortars with an FO to be on call to fire an FPF and a couple priority targets that would be great. 

I have worked most of the way through End The Fed. I am enjoying it a lot and learning significant amounts about hard money and getting an intro to The Austrian School of Economics. The book is a tad repetitive but I am learning enough stuff and hearing various amusing Ron Paul stories that it is enjoyable. This book is much more technical and complicated than The Revolution. Partly because of this and partly because I have been busy and it is harder to free up a few hours in one shot to read a somewhat technical and such than one which is easier to digest.

If I had to sum up End The Fed in a sentence that wasn't "Ron Paul really wants to abolish the Federal Reserve." it would be that "Ron Paul believes the Federal Reserve coupled with fiat currency have caused most of not all of the financial problems the US has."
If I had to sum up the theme of this book (aside from the obvious stated above) it would be connectivity. Fiat currency is related to banking practices which are related to the FDIC which is related to moral hazard which is related to the Federal Reserve which causes Inflation which leads to other stuff which affects the previously mentioned stuff. To be honest I really don't see the connections between some of the stuff Ron Paul attempts to connect in the book but I sure see a lot of them.

I would say more but I have to save some for the final Review. 

I am going to eat a big dinner, drink a gallon of water and go to bed early.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Free E Books

Mickey Creedmore is offering some free e books. I downloaded Shooting to Live, CIA Lock Picking Field Operative Training Manual, CIA Book Of Dirty Tricks, Improvised Munitions Manual and Boobytraps. Not sure when I will read them but in the near future I will have some spare time here or there. Maybe scheduling a half hour of survivalist reading a night would help. I do need to learn to pick locks. In any case you should take Mickey up on his offer of some free shit.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Demo Day- Blowing Shit up and Breaching

On the bright side it turned out that we got to come home tonight. That was an extra special suprise. We did some pretty darn cool stuff. I sure would like to have a good stash of the makings (det cord, C4, shock cord, blasting caps) in a safe place.

I want you to know this is strictly for entertainment purposes only! Do not try anything described below under any circumstances. If you happen to have the making for this stuff you should know how to use it safely and only do so under wise and legal circumstances. If you somehow stumble onto some of this stuff don't fucking play with it. I know enough to make some charges and more importantly that if you don't know what you are doing this stuff can hurt you quick fast and in a hurry.

First of all C4 is just plain awesome. As safe as possible to store, carry and handle but a bit of it can blow lots of stuff up.

Breaching was fun and interesting. Read about Mechanical and Ballistic breaching here as I will be talking solely about explosive breaching. Properly applied det cord can do some really cool stuff.

We made 4 types of charges:

Flexible linear charges are designed to blow the hinges off of a door. Basically you measure how tall the door is first off. After that take two pieces of 100mph/ duct tape and lay them so they are just sticking together sticky side up. Next you run a length of det cord all the way up the tape and then back down. Repeat that set 4-6 times being sure to leave a 2-3ft tail. Now you take double sided tape and put it on one side (or plan to tape it on with 100mph tape), hook the tail to the shock cord and then you are ready to blow a wood door.

Another way to deal with wood doors is from the other side. This works if the door has a pad lock. Take a piece of cardboard which is about 8x8in square. On 3 sides make a C shape with a piece of det cord. Cut that cord off and make several more approximately the same size and one with a long tail. Press the pieces of det cord together tightly and tape the heck out of em to keep them in place. Cut an X out of the middle of the card board. You will stick the X over the lock you plan to detach from the door. Double sided take also helps ensure it sticks onto the door and does what you want. Hook it up to some shock cord and you are ready to make a door swing open easily.

Now you are saying "so what? wood doors are easy, any crook worth his piece has a metal door".
Well I've got something for that. Really the most interesting thing we did. It is called a water impulse charge. To make one of these you need some det cord, two IV bags (could be a good use for expired ones), and tape. Make a tight coil (like a snake in the movies) with the det cord and then put some tape on it to keep it tight. As always leave a couple foot long tail. Your det cord is now the meat in an IV bag sandwich. Place the det cord coil between the IV bags and tape the hell out of it. Throw some double sided tape into one side, hook it up to the main charge and you are ready to blow a steel door. The water disipitates the shock of the charge and pushes the door open or off.

The last kind is for doors or reinforced concrete. Nothing more bad assed then clearing a room from the hole you made in the wall. This is called a silhouette charge. You need two stiff silhouette targets and the usual stuff. Cut the head off of the one of the targets and tape it onto the bottom of the other one. Starting from the outside wrap the det cord around the target several times and then tape it in place, as always leave a good tail to hook to whatever your ignition source is. If you are going through thicker material place some little chunks of C4 around it. Put double sided tape onto it and then you are ready to rock. Be sure the silhouette sits flush on the ground so you don't trip whilst entering the building.

Aside from the most pathetic excuse for a morning it was a pretty darn cool day. I am enjoying the copy of the economist I picked up and the little AM/FM radio is nice for down time and riding in trucks.

Oh and to the person who wanted to hear more about firearms training I've been doing at work. Should have some more stuff for you this weekend. I will try to better describe future training so you can take advantage of some of the good stuff we do.
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