Showing posts with label fighting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fighting. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Joe Rogan vs Aikido Guy

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Skill, Size and Strength in Fighting

My post yesterday on Joe Rogan vs the Aikido guy got a comment from our friend Pineslayer. I felt the need to reply in this venue and also didn't have a post idea for today.

Anonymous" Pineslayer said..
I'm with Joe on this one. Real world vs. Dojo. Full disclosure here Rogan hosted Fear Factor and UFC color guy. God Bless Joe Rogan.

Seriously, I trained with a few different styles, technique only goes so far. Focused rage and desire trumps belts on the street. In the ring with rules, it is a different game, but still brute force and strength can't be discounted."

I agree with the first half of what Pineslayer said and almost entirely disagree with the second half. Point by point.

Pineslayer says 'technique only goes so far'.
-Techniques can be very valid and useful or complete crap. Many martial arts that are popular these days are so far from their martial roots that either they are no longer relevant ideas, looking at you Kendo, or they have evolved into an art or sport, looking at you Tai Kwon Do.
-Practical arts and the skill derived from them is very useful, less useful ones, less so. 
-The combination of skill, mindset and physical size/ strength/ conditioning that makes a fighter is opaque. What separates a crappy fighter from a decent fighter or a decent fighter from a great one can be subtle but it is still absolutely relevant.

Generally speaking I find fights are decided by violence of action/ will to win, skill and size/ strength. Pretty much in that order. As to violence of action/ will to win. The amount of people I could beat up expands greatly if I bring an ax handle. It takes willingness to go all the way but if you have it a lot can be done; my AARP aged mother could take Mike Tyson if she walks up and dumps a .357 mag into his chest. Next comes skill.

Presuming equal or roughly equal violence of action/ will to win skill is what determines the outcome of fights. Sure anybody could slip on a banana peel and get beaten up by a chump but the more capable fighter will win the vast majority of the time. People, particularly men, need to understand fighting is a learned skill. I can look up how to fix something on youtube but that does not mean I am a legitimate trained mechanic, let alone a master mechanic. Ego aside thinking Joe Everyday could cook eggs like a trained professional chef would be stupid. Thinking Joe Chef is going to do them like Alton Brown or Nigela Lawson (wow she is a babe) would be silly. Next comes size/ strength.

Size and strength are less important than skill. To this I have to caveat that any time one fighter has a massive size/ strength advantage they have a chance, no matter the other fighters skill level. Mongo a 350 pound power lifter might land a blow on a legitimate professional fighter than ends things, or get his hands on the guy and slam his head into a wall. Note I say size/ strength because they generally track together. However while 350 pound Mongo has an advantage over most other fighters sheerly due to size he is not going to beat a guy like Randy Coulter or Bass Rutten because they have enough skill to overcome his size advantage

So those are my thoughts on that. What do you think?.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Real World Self Defense and Weapons Retention

I have recently seen a couple of videos that merited sharing. In the first a man is attacked then robbed of his CCW pistol. I feel like we need to be reminded that in a significant number of cases, maybe even a majority, some amount of  movement/ fighting is going to be necessary to create the time and distance to bring a pistol into play. Everyone wants to be a cool guy and shoot fast at targets up close as well as quote some variation of the '3 seconds, 3 shots, 3 feet' thing. However folks don't seem to want to accept this means a fist fight or dirty boxing/ standing grappling/ wrestling match.

 Tam noted this guy who got beat up and had his gun stolen. Seriously a holster with decent retention would have gone a long way in helping the probably decent guy not get gun jacked. The pistol fell out when Goblin threw him on the ground. It isn't even an economic thing. The Blade Tech AIWB holster I use costs like $25. So for the price of a frozen pizza an a half rack of decent beer or bottle of Jim Beam you can have a serviceable holster with adequate retention. Even the most basic Uncle Mikes nylon holster will be like $15.

This is yet another reason I favor appendix carry. Nobody is going to sneak up and grab a pistol I am carrying at 12:15. Also that is an area where I can apply a lot of power and I can easily protect.  Here folks like to envision some sort of boxing match and their pistol safely at 4 o'clock. It ain't likely to happen that way. The person is either going to attack the gun strait away of when they become aware of its presence change angles and go for it. Now the person is fighting someone at their side or behind them which is not good. By default a person trying to grab for my gun is right in the danger zone. Taking a gun off someone carrying appendix is going to be about impossible without strait beating them into unconsciousness.

Additionally I am a big fan of knives for close in work. Some folks carry a dedicated blade just for that but I just have the one knife in my EDC system. I want one of those cool finger knife things but haven't gotten around to it yet.

This is also a fairly rare instance where breaking just one of the three cardinal rules (Don't do stupid things in stupid places with stupid people) got a guy into a problem. Usually you can get away with fudging one of the three and it is when you get to two that trouble comes. Except this time. This happened around 1 AM. I cannot say for certain it couldn't have happened at 8 pm but I doubt it.

Like Tam ECQC is definitely on my short list. In fact it is the only specifically named class (vs a generic field like 'precision rifle course')

Onto the next video.
This is worthwhile because a guy comes from a position of serious disadvantage to win. When bad guys try to decrease your mobility, restrain you or take you elsewhere they want more than money.

Also whatever they plan to do is going to make the situation better for them and worse for you. Better to fight it out, even against terrible odds, on the sidewalk or in this case in your office than decide to fight when you are tied up in a closet in a shack or abandoned building in the middle of nowhere.  I sort of figure if a bad guy plans to maim/ kill me anyway then I have nowhere to go but up by fighting in that situation.

Of course having  weapon on you helps a lot. Still this guy did great. It wasn't pretty but he went from on the ground at gun point to having a gun and engaging the bad guys and as a prize got to live.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

White Knight Syndrome

Truth by James Yeager. You might not agree with everything he says but the man is dead on about this one. Personally I have thought a lot about the actual situations where I would intervene/ get involved with violent (or potentially so) situations that did not involve me. Admittedly as the years have gone by I have gotten older and wiser about this topic. Honestly the times I would get involved are pretty narrowly defined and vastly outnumbered by 'not my problem'.

If White Trash (I say as the most likely cultural group I would encounter in this context, not an insult. Pot says to kettle.) Joe is slapping around White trash Betty May  who is a stranger to me that is not my problem. If Betty May is my family member or good friend it is probably going to be Joe's problem but that is a whole nother discussion. The truth of those situations, from watching years of Cops, is that you are more likely to end up fighting both of them then save this gal or whatever.

Honestly if strangers are doing whatever sort of madness to each other and life/ limb/ eyesight are not genuinely in danger I sort of figure it's not my problem.

In a clear cut situation (ex random guy tries to grab old lady's purse in a parking lot, meth maggots assaulting a school girl a la Training Day, etc) I am more likely to get involved that some sort of DV or mutual combat situation. Then again I guess even that is scenario based.

If I'm walking around with 2 buddies who are also armed I'm going to get involved, we've got that purse snatchers number. If I'm alone I still really like my odds and will probably help Granny out.  On the other hand if I'm alone coming out of a store holding an upset/ tired/ sick/ whatever 3 year old in my left arm whilst wrangling a cart full of whatever that also holds my baby daughter the idea of getting involved in any fight I'm not forced into is a hard sell. Personally I consider any  potential risk to my loved ones as far more important than some random person. I'd see Granny in the dirt before risking my kids getting hurt. That is harsh and not nice to say but absolutely 100% true.

I don't mean to be uncaring here, nor that I do not value human life. If I can realistically help somebody without undue risk to my loved ones I would do so. True story... a few years ago in a shopping complex where my little sister used to work a woman was randomly murdered by a transient type guy. Just a normal gal doing some shopping or getting lunch and some asshat attacked her. He probably had a knife but I honestly do not recall. Anyway a bunch of people watched this goblin kill that poor gal. Ryan don't play that. At that point in life I was not legally able to carry a gun but I'd have stopped that guy or died trying. Knife (mine), improvised weapon like a metal chair or my bare hands there is no way I'm going to watch some monster butcher a person. The only way I wouldn't get involved is if I was A) alone with my children. Usually Wifey is with us and she could thus take them speedily in opposite direction while I go do what must be done AND B) I was not carrying a firearm.

[Admittedly a strait up lethal force situation is easier to deal with given that realistically my kids would be there. I say this because I'd tell crazy murderous transient to "stop or I will shoot you" then do precisely that. The odds of risk to my children, sitting in the grocery cart, when I am between them and knife wielding psycho and engage him while holding a pistol at the high ready are pretty darn low. The Tueler Drill goes out the window if the gun is already aimed and the shooter is willing to immediately open fire.]

Anyway as a person who may potentially (you bloody better) choose to carry deadly weapons I urge you to think about the situations where you might choose to get involved in a violent or potentially violent encounter. Consider the legal as well as social/ moral angles. Think about this now before you might have to make a split second decision that could change your life. Do the right thing for your family, yourself and strangers in that order.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Quote of the Day

"Not very often does law enforcement have to confront actual combat veterans. When they do, there are frequently heavy casualties.....

If I played golf against Tiger Woods, he could beat my a$$ with a set of rusty K-Mart clubs, just as easily as with his Pings. It's not the gear. It's what you can do with the gear."


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

You Will Not Rise To The Occasion

There is this American idea about rising beyond ones normal abilities to rise to a challenge.  It is cute but just not realistic. Sorry to say it folks but if you cannot do it Wednesday morning on the track, Thursday afternoon at the gym or Saturday at the range the odds of doing it when you need to for real are about zero.

For every '90 pound mother who lifts a car off her kid' there are many, actually documented cases where Momma can't lift the car and the kid gets crushed. For ever normal guy with a .38 in the nightstand that survives or even wins when 3 armed thugs kick in the door many get robbed, beaten, maybe raped and killed. Sort of like they say the plural of anecdote is not data.Sorry to be real but that is actually how life works.

You will not rise to the occasion. At best you will default to the level of a skill you have mastered. These excellent recent articles prove the point in more detail than I'm willing to go into:

Why You Need Tactical Training. Teaser...
You need tactical training. You know, in your heart of hearts and soul of souls, that you need training. You just have to turn your ego down and listen to your brain for a change. 

About Some Survival Myths....

Somehow folks think people are just born with inherant skill in fighting each other which is really stupid. It doesn't matter if you are brave, right minded or own a really cool gun. Folks without knowledge of combat (hand to hand or weapons) tend to somehow think it is not in fact a learned skill that builds off other capabilities/ traits both inherent and developed. The funny thing is if we turned it around and instead of talking fighting talked fixing an engine, building a house, writing computer code or whatever else the person does, they would go into a half hour long tirade about why that would never work. Funny story, the same things apply to fighting except the stakes are far higher. If you out computer program/ car fix/ carpenter me six ways from Sunday nobody ends up dead.

Get quality training from guys like Max Velocity or John Mosby before you need it.

Get training. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Leaderless Resistance

The topic of leaderless resistance is really popular with a certain group within certain communities. After Max Velocity and John Mosby talked I may as well jump in with my unsolicited .02 cents.

As to the most vocal promoters of 'Leaderless Resistance' (LR)I have a couple of observations. Before discussing these observations I have to say the folks involved, who I will not name but you probably know, are good and right minded people.

My first observation is the individuals who are promoting 'Leaderless Resistance' lack any meaningful experience in guerrilla warfare. To expound they generally lack significant experience  in warfare period. They are a textbook definition of ignorance on the topic. [For the uninitiated my working definition of ignorance is "lack of knowledge/ experience in a particular topic". Ignorance is not a particularly bad thing, everyone is ignorant of something. This contrasts with stupidity which is just being an all around buffoon.] These individuals just don't know what they don't know which is understandable. Though for reasons that escape me the LR crowd make the mistake of opening their mouths on the topic to show their ignorance instead of learning from folks in the know or simply talking about something else.

Next the LR crowd seriously suffer from confirmation bias. In their readings and selection of stuff to quote and talk about context is lacking with only parts that agree with their overall perspective being meaningfully considered. It goes something like this. We have 5 people who will be called A-E. A writes something that B comments on. C links to B's writings as support of his thoughts. D and E slightly disagree on some topics but concur with the broad strokes. It boils down to a few people, who just don't know what they are talking about are all listening to each other.

Anyway I've said my peace on the individuals who most actively promote LR. Onto the concept itself.

In no particular order:

-My biggest issue with the discussion to date is that we are looking at LR vs a pretty doctrinal guerrilla group using a cellular structure with a supportive axillary and a chain of command (cell, city, district, state, nation or whatever) in a binary way. To me that is a real oversimplification that leads to all sorts of assumptions, exaggerations and confusion. I look at a true LR scenario of a person going all Rambo/ Chuck Norris or a small group going Red Dawn as one side of the spectrum and a full on cellular structure like the IRA or Free French during WWII as the other end. Between these two extremes groups would progressively grow in size and organization.

-LR utterly fails to consider the all important Principle of Warfare that is Mass.  The hard truth is that a squad or platoon fighting together toward a common goal will be able to destroy a bunch of tough individuals all doing their own thing. To break it down more simply; if I bring 3 friends to help stomp a person them having a dozen really tough friends sleeping at home, working, at the gym and traveling or whatever is irrelevant. I win and they lose. I win since we brought overwhelming force which was applied at a decisive place/ time. Since we are talking Principles of Warfare LR also very arguably fails Objective, Maneuver (hard to cover yourself), Economy of Force and Unity of Command.

-When we discuss whether LR can be effective we need to define what success will look like. Along these lines I will submit that potential success of a person or three acting alone is going to be much more local, smaller and arguably more symbolic than operational when compared to larger groups working together towards a common goal. LR can be successful in a 'kill a commie for mommy' or Pastunwali/ blood feud type way. If success is avenging the death of a loved one by killing several bad guys there is a reasonable chance of attaining it. On the other hand if success is defined as pushing the bad guys out of your AO in order to establish a free democratic government based on the Constitution LR likely isn't getting it done.

- In the big picture to me the most pure form of individual LR is not a plan. Quite frankly LR is what a person does if they want to act but do not have a network in place when the balloon goes up. An individual doesn't know anybody and has no established relationships with useful (in a guerrilla sense) people so they slit a drunk soldiers throat one day, plant a bomb in an enemy government building the next week, snipe a Company Commander in 2 weeks, IED a vehicle in a month. You get the idea.

-There really aren't any successful big picture (win vs kill a bunch of guys before they kill you) of LR. The lack of successful examples says a whole lot about LR's future potential.

-My past article 9 Considerations for the Lone Wolf is worth revisiting for folks who want to go it alone.

Cannot think of anything else to add to the conversation so I am going to wrap it up.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tueller Drill's, Appendix Carry and Other Handgun Defense Thoughts

John Mosby's post Underground Tradecraft: Tactical Application of the Defensive Sidearm, Part III

is pretty much required reading to understand this post. I'm not so much replying to it as moving from it to a different train of thought but his post is the jumping off point.

It is my personal opinion that the Tueller drill's valuable information is used to jump to the wrong conclusions. The Tueller drill means 1) A person who has their weapon, including bare hands, ready will almost always beat a person who does not have their chosen weapon ready. Instead of being a knife it could be a brick or an open hand slap to the face. Folks often confuse this to say knives are superior to guns. Knife vs gun is a complicated conversation but the Tueller drill really isn't involved. 2) A handgun is not a magical talisman that will keep you out of a physical confrontation!!! I say again a handgun is not a magican talisman that will keep you out of a physical confrontation. You are almost surely not going to be able to use super awareness to detect a threat from 40 feet away then be able to (justifiably) draw a handgun then deescalate the situation or engage using lethal force.

This is yet another reason that Appendix carry is a really good option. The draw is wickedly fast which is good. Also more importantly you can easily control/ protect the pistol with the non dominant hand. In a serious fight I am inclined to protect the weapon with one hand and fight, probably employing a knife, with the other hand. Fighting with one hand is a less than ideal situation but at least this way it's my good hand. Conversely carrying strong side hip that is not an option.

Some folks have a hard time with the idea of carrying a loaded pistol pointed at their genitals. It doesn't worry me too much because I safely handle the weapon and honestly strong side hip in a reasonable concealment holster has it pointed at my thigh which is also important. I guess it's something you can either get comfortable with to have the advantages of appendix carry or not.

When it comes to fighting and the use of handguns at point blank range I am not a huge fan of the use of handguns. If you have a weapon out then just shoot the heck out of the threat. If the weapon is in the holster I am personally inclined to keep it into the holster, especially if it's concealed. I would take a handgun out after creating sufficient space to do so. Ways to create that space using a variety of H2H techniques exist but are beyond the scope of this post. Along these lines SouthNarc's ECQC is high on my training wish list.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kung Fu Fighting

The topic of hand to hand fighting has come up recently and while my thoughts are already recorded for posterity somewhere in the archives it is a good time to revisit the topic.
Everyone needs to be competent at hand to hand fighting in order to prevent people from beating the hell out of you and to be able to beat the hell out of people if you need to. “Well I carry a gun” doesn’t get you off. In reality you can’t keep every person 30 feet away and live a normal life. Threats can appear quickly and at close range. Even if you are carrying if an aggressive panhandler or strong arm robber is 3 feet away you are in a hand to hand fight.
Furthermore as a dude, and particularly a reasonably healthy one you are going to have a hard time justifying lethal force simply because someone gets too close or grabs you or whatever. If you shoot somebody because they push you or even try to start a fight you will go to jail. Sorry but it is true. (Case in point George Zimmerman) Gals have an easier time here.
One of the stupidest things I have ever heard is “I will fight dirty, breaking fingers and kicking groins” as an excuse to not actually learn to fight. Idiots use that as an excuse (maybe even to their selves) for not actually learning to fight. This is not a viable plan. The reason it is a stupid idea is that in real fights that sort of behavior is pretty much a given so it really isn’t an advantage. A guy who can kick box/ box/ do jui jitsu or whatever and is willing to kick groins and break fingers will win over a less skilled fighter whose only chance is a couple cheap tricks every time.
If I need to make a hard sell of these points just stop reading this post now. Your situational awareness is so great a threat couldn’t possibly get within 10 meters of you and or you are such a finger breaker and groins kicker that the same dirty moves everybody tries will always work for you. I wish you the best of luck.
So you need to learn how to fight. I am not going to say that formal instruction is absolutely necessary. Big strong guys with some “experience” can do quite well unless they meet a big strong guy who can strike or wrestle or a decent sized guy who is good at striking or wrestling. In all seriousness just about everyone benefits from formal instruction as the self taught tend to have some real bad habits that a skilled fighter can take advantage of.
To be a competent well rounded fighter you need to be able to strike and grapple both standing and on the ground. You’ve got to have at least some skills in both to not have huge vulnerabilities. Ideally you will get good at both but if you are hardcore in one you need to at least be able to survive in the other. It doesn’t matter if you are a wrestling/ judo/ jui jitsu fighter if you get the hell beat out of you before you can get your hands on somebody. If you are a competitive kick boxer or boxer at least learn enough grappling to keep folks from taking you down or throwing you and to get back up if it does go to the ground.
There are so many different styles out there. I don’t want to get bogged down going over each one or offend people by suggesting that the style they spent years learning sucks so instead I will talk about a few commonality of effective styles for contemporary self defense. The first is that they focus on realistic techniques for realistic scenarios. Styles that focus on implausible scenarios like jumping spinning high kicks may be fun but can have questionable utility.
Next effective styles practice at close to full speed/ intensity trying to harm people who are trying to harm you. Call it sparing or fighting or whatever. Be very caution with styles that are so deadly you can’t actually spar but instead only practice slowly or with cooperative partners. It is one thing to say it works but it is difficult if not impossible to figure out the kinks, work through issues and develop confidence and muscle memory in a technique without trying it against an uncooperative person who wants to hurt you.
Lastly effective styles tend to compete against other styles in as realistic of competition as possible against other styles. This is probably the biggest and easiest single test of if a style is actually effective or not. Points based sparing with rules that emphasize high kicks and jousting back fists which barely make contact are a nice sport and all but have little to no relationship with actual fighting. For example if I was in a points sparing match with a nimble 105 pound 13 year old kid they would probably win by a series of very pretty but not damaging glancing strikes. However they would last about 7 seconds in an alley. To phrase it another way it doesn’t matter if you are the toughest and most skilled guy in your style if an average redneck in a bar can wipe the floor with you. Think full contact kickboxing and mixed martial arts style competition.
It is worth noting that early on in Ultimate Fighting we had some very good case studies for this before everybody started training in the incredibly effective modern hybrid style we now call MMA. Quite a few black belts in Taekwondo, various styles of Karate (though notably Kempo Karate fared well), kung fu and musho do quai chi got the heck beaten out of them by wrestlers and good old boy golden gloves type boxers.
Now we will talk about physical fitness as it relates to hand to hand fighting. In real fights size and strength (I say size and strength because they are generally related) are an advantage. Of course skill matters more but can only overcome so much. A truly skilled fighter can take amateurs way out of his weight class. Oscar De La Hoya could wipe the floor with a lot of tough 225 pounders. That being said he wouldn’t last long against Lenox Lewis or Tito Ortiz.
Strength lets you hit harder, execute techniques more effectively against an active opponent and resist their techniques more effectively. I am talking about the kind of raw strength that you get from lots and lots of heavy labor (like professional construction or masonry or the like, not doing normal chores on a modern hobby farm which consists of moving a few hay bales and a few buckets of feed a day) or serious time at the weight pile doing big compound movements like bench press, squat, dead lift and power cleans. Strength really helps here. Also if you build enough size and strength it can become a pretty big deterrent and save you trouble.
[Though there is a sort of “I want to fight the biggest guy here” phenomena. For some reason below average sized guys try to fight the biggest dude in the bar or party, often without any provocation. I saw a 6’3” 270 pound mountain of muscle that played college football get into three of these fights in one night for no reason. These little guys were just walking up and punching him in the face. They all ended very quickly and decisively.
I don’t for the life of me understand this. It seems like about the stupidest thing ever to me. It is one thing if circumstances are what they are and you have to fight some huge guy but going out of your way and choosing to do so is just really stupid. More interestingly it is not really strong or skilled 150 pound guys either but random shmoes. I really want to know what these guys are thinking but after they show their selves I haven’t see one in the condition to talk.
Remember; never fight somebody hand to hand who has such a size/ strength advantage that they could go all Lenny on you. +Two extra special bonus points if you get the reference. Seriously if they can play King Kong smash all over then either make friends, stay away, stab them or shoot them. ]
This is incidentally a pretty good litmus test for how realistic/ practical a martial art is. To paraphrase our new friend Mr Mosby “no martial art is going to let a blind 98 pound wheel chair bound grandma beat up a 230 pound power lifting steroid using ex convict” That sort of stuff just doesn’t work in real life. If somebody tries to tell you otherwise either they are knowingly lying or they are an idiot. In either case take your time and money elsewhere.
Conditioning is important for a lot of things but in my personal experience its role in real life H2H fights outside of an organized competitive setting is minimal. I have never personally seen or been in a fight (again outside of a competitive setting) that lasted long enough for conditioning to be a real issue. Of course this does assume that you are an average reasonably healthy person who can walk a few blocks without getting winded. Organized settings are different because both people know they are going to be in a fight, are ready and are theoretically a pretty even match. All these factors make for much longer fights.
So in closing I recommend that you invest some time to learn how to defend yourself and put the time in at the weight pile to build the muscle to be able to apply those skills in real life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

React To Contact, Break Contact and Insurgent Operational Planning

I talked about Battle Drills awhile back. Recently Max Velocity talked about Reacting to Contact. We label the steps differently but basically do the same thing. I will get into it a bit but do not feel the need to write it from memory or get fancy paraphrasing FM 7-8. Either you know how to do it and I'm wasting my time or you don't and me writing about it for a couple paragraphs will not fix the problem so I'm wasting my time. For those without an Infantry or Special Operations background Max's book Contact (my review here) is a great starting point. In that mythical time when I have a hundredish dollars of preparedness money which is not spoken for picking up a few copies to hand out would be a good idea.

Anyway in the US Army React to Contact is a Battle Drill. It is the 2nd one according to the copy of MF 7-8 I'm looking at. Personally I think it should probably be number 1 because it is the most frequently used and more importantly it is the base for platoon/ squad attack and break contact.

React to contact is the classing 2 groups stumble into each other situation. To cover it very briefly the element in contact returns fire and seeks cover. Anyone who can see what is going on yells the direction, distance and disposition (CONTACT LEFT, 200 meters, 2 personnel in a ditch or whatever) so everybody in that element can put fire onto them. If people need to move (crawl) to a different location to put fire on this element they will. The patrol's leader will make the assessment of whether they can achieve fire superiority and maneuver on the bad guys or whether they should break contact. At this point they attack or break contact.

I would in fact argue platoon/ squad attack (as per the battle drill it's a hasty attack really, not a deliberate one/ raid/ ambush) and break contact are really just subsets of react to contact. Anyway moving on.

The decision to attack or break contact has a lot of variables. A cohesive well trained force that happens to patrol into an enemy element that is larger but unprepared or outright screwing off/ sleeping/ eating without significant security can defeat them. A squad wiping out a platoon in this fashion is not implausible.

As Max discussed sometimes a small element can not achieve fire superiority. Sometimes the other guy has more soldiers or bigger weapons or key terrain, whatever.  Conventional forces are unlikely to just break contact though they may adjust their locations. If they are unable to achieve fire superiority typically they will try to fix the enemy or at failing that hold up in a small area defense until reinforcement arrives via additional personnel or CAS/ CCA/ Fires.  The reason for this is that in a counter insurgency (COIN) type unconventional environment time is on the conventional forces side. Almost without exception (the exception typically being massed pre planned enemy attacks) they have more friends and weapons coming than the insurgents/ guerrillas do. The longer the fight goes the better it is for the conventional forces and the worse it is for the G's.

For guerilla's/ insurgents/ whatever the word of the day is the question is equally simple with the exact opposite answer. If I were a guerrilla small unit leader in the stumble into another force situation we would break contact probably 8/10 times. The only times we would not break contact would if the enemy force was very small and isolated (2-3 guys that clearly are not a point or security team for a larger element) or a situation that is too good not to exploit (a few enemy soldiers boozing it up in the woods, a high value individual whose vehicle broke down on the side of the road, etc).

John Mosby has debunked the .308 battle rifle 'far ambush' fantasy such that I do not need to talk about it. His point that infantrymen win fights by closing with and destroying the enemy is correct and valid.

In my opinion guerilla's should only fight if they have no other choice or are confident they will win. Guerilla's need to fight when their advantages can be used and their weaknesses mitigated. If a guerrilla force makes contact with the enemy in any situation they are not sure they can win with few to no casualties on their side and a clean get away they need to break contact.

Furthermore coming back to something I have touched on before it is my personal opinion that guerrilla's should not only fight when they can win but when it serves a purpose. Guerrilla's are very often outnumbered, their medical care systems are poor and getting trained replacement personnel is problematic. My point is that G's shouldn't be doing ambushes for the sake of ambushes. Guerrillas can not trade 1-1 casualties with the enemy, they will run out of men and lose by default. Guerrillas should be conducting operations to deter the enemy from patrolling their safe haven areas, gather intelligence, attack key (military) infrastructure or supply/ log convoys to put pressure on the enemies logistics or whatever.

My point is that guerrillas should only fight when they can win and that win serves a greater purpose. Anyway that's my .02 cents on that. As always input is welcome.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thoughts on Insurgencies #9 North Ireland AKA The Troubles

Today I want to talk about The Troubles. I previously talked about Operation Banner An Analysis of British Operations in North Ireland.That is worth reading though it is a bit dry. So here we go.

For a brief recap the problems between England and Ireland probably go back 900 years or so. We will focus a bit more on current history. The Anglo- Irish war from roughly (start and stop points are hard for guerrilla wars) 1919 to 1922 ended up partitioning Ireland into 2 entities. The 26 counties that make up the majority of Ireland were granted Dominion status and the 6 counties that became Northern Ireland stayed part of the Empire. The 26 counties formally dissolved their last formal ties with Great Britain in 1949.

Northern Ireland makes up roughly 1/6th of the island of Ireland and is approximately 80 miles North to South and 120 miles East to West.

(Real quick Loyalists wished to stay part of the United Kingdom and were almost exclusively Protestant. Republicans wanted a united Ireland and were almost exclusively Catholic. Some folks may use Loyalist/ Protestant or Republican/ Catholic interchangeably.)

In Northern Ireland there was a slim Protestant majority and Catholics were narrowly outnumbered. The Protestants were generally loyal to England and the Catholics generally wanted a united Ireland. Protestants held all political power and filled the vast majority of the police and security forces. A slew of complicated voting laws kept power in Protestant hands.

Now we can fast forward to the 1960's. Protestant Loyalists have used their total grasp on power to discriminate against Catholics in terms of employment and housing. The narrow Catholic minority lived in cramped outdated housing and had massive unemployment.

This brings us to our first key point. People with nothing to lose are often willing to use physical force to change the established order that is the (real or perceived) reason for their undesirable situation.

The Irish Catholics were largely inspired by the American Civil rights struggle. They started organizing into groups to protest. In 1968 peaceful Catholic protests were suppressed by the Protestant government and Protestant Paramilitaries. Think Birmingham PD vs NAACP but the climate is cooler, everyone is white and the suppression is even more brutal.

I have heard the theory that the peaceful protestors were useful idiots put in place to get the RUC and Protestant Paramilitaries to overreact and let the IRA come back onto the scene. There is probably at least a shred of truth to this idea. 

In 1969 the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary AKA police force) and Protestant paramilitaries were brutally cracking down on Catholic Neighborhoods. A guy who lived in West Belfast at the time described them as "burning down streets and murdering people". After the Battle of the Bogside the British Army came in to stabilize the situation. Initially the Catholic community was happy to see the Army arrive to establish order. That honeymoon period ended pretty quickly. The early 70's were pretty messy with the notable Bloody Sunday On July 21 1972 where British Para's killed 14 unarmed protestors.

The British adopted a policy of open ended internment that some could argue was extralegal. Basically they rounded up all the IRA boys, tossed them in jail and threw away the key. It damn near worked except it was a massive IO (information operations) nightmare. They went back and forth on keeping these guys incarcerated. Hunger strikes by IRA prisoners were an IO nightmare for the Brits.

In any case during the late 60's and early 70's the IRA saw a resurgence that is difficult to believe. Coming into these events they were largely a group of old men just hanging out. Sort of like herpes the IRA never really goes away, they just go underground and wait till the right time to pop back up.

The Provincial IRA split off from the original IRA at this time. The IRA wanted to largely stand by while the PIRA wanted to act. This scenario of a more cautious group accepting peace and it's more aggressive branch forming a new group would repeat itself multiple times. These splits do not matter much at the big picture we are looking at but this one is notable as the PIRA had a much more local look than the overall IRA.

Historically the IRA was organized along roughly military lines. Recruiting was done through long term friends, neighbors and along blood lines. This made for an organization that was difficult to penetrate. It is important for us Americans to note that Europeans tend to stay in their neighborhoods/ villages/ communities much more than we do. Several generations of the same family living in a county is not at all uncommon. Penetrating an organization where members recruit folks they have known their whole lives is impossible.

During the mid 70's the IRA didn't need to recruit. The British Armies heavy handed tactics did it for them. As we discussed a couple paragraphs back their organization exploded. Like any rapid increase it had some growing pains. In particular their traditionally excellent OPSEC went to hell. They were seriously compromised which lead to a lot of arrests.

By the mid 70's the IRA had reorganized into the type of cellular structure we are used to seeing with Insurgent organizations.

Since the IRA typically recruited people they individually knew well it was a fairly casual process. Bobby who grew up a block over (and you knew was IRA) would ask if you were interested. If you were they would slowly bring you in. Maybe a potential recruit would do a few simple jobs (sit in a cafe and watch patrols, be a courier for innocuous items, etc) then maybe they get brought into an operation. The point is it might be a year or so before they were really into the mix of things.

As a general rule the IRA did not coerce recruits. This is a bad idea in general. People who do not genuinely want to be part of the organization are a significant security threat.

In Catholic communities everyone was involved in some part of the insurgency. Part of the reason was the IRA was part of the community.  Asking your life long neighbor to hold onto something, for the neighborhood  hardware store owner to sell you some stuff off the books, a nice old neighbor lady to occasionally host her 'nephews' for a few days, etc is an easy proposition. It helps that these community members were unhappy with the situation they were in but that probably wasn't necessary.

Many people were affiliated with the IRA to some degree. They fought to protect their communities against the Protestant Paramilitaries in times of need. However some were unwilling to go beyond protecting their community to acts of (real or perceived) terrorism. 

Occasionally the IRA would leak false information around potential informants. If that (false) information was acted on the informant would be questioned then killed.

In Northern Ireland people generally stay to their neighborhoods, or at least neighborhoods of the same group. Flags hanging on light poles or pained on street corners mark which group the area belongs to. Catholics stay out of Protestant neighborhoods and visa versa.

Initially training was conducted in rural areas. Quickly that became impossible. Training moved across the border into the Republic of Ireland and to international terrorist facilities, largely in North Africa.

Some members of the IRA joined the British Army. A good way to learn weapons, tactics, intelligence and exactly how their enemies fought. Others ended up in the US Army and Marines. These folks did their 3 year hitch then went back home well trained. The IRA got an excellent sniper or two this way.

In the 80's Libya was a huge supporter of the IRA. As AM noted conducting an insurgency that does not have outside support is almost impossible. It wasn't so much that Col Goddafi liked the IRA as that he hated the British. Libya gave the IRA TONS of Semtex, a whole lot of weapons (including shoulder fired AA weapons, RPG's and Dishka's) and tons of ammo.

The IRA provided local security in their neighborhoods (as the Protestant groups did in theirs). Interestingly despite the Troubles crime in general and murder rates were lower in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK. The reason for this is that people didn't call the cops, they called the IRA. The IRA did not screw around. Beatings, kneecapping, tar and feathering and of course good old fashioned murder were common punishments. While arguably hypocritical (a guy might get punished for selling drugs outside of IRA sanction, while the IRA was also selling drugs) and harsh they definitely kept crime down.

Aside from security the IRA provided a variety of basic services to their neighborhoods. They built community centers, funded local programs, etc. Basically a shadow government. It has been said everything Hamas did in Palestine was stolen from the IRA's book.

Funding- Hate alone does not make an insurgency go around. The need money. Funding started with collections and raffles. Pubs in Ireland and the US having a donation box for 'the cause' was quite common for a long time.The IRA robbed a lot of banks but that got dangerous. Eventually like the mob they used funds to purchase legitimate businesses which would make a profit. Guys who never had 2 dimes to rub together opening million dollar Irish Pubs in major US cities was one way that funds were washed and used to make a legitimate profit.

Compartmentalization- IRA operations were compartmentalized to the utmost extent. First and foremost this minimized the damage any individual could cause. Second it insulated the operations cell from incriminating weapons/ equipment/ clothing to the largest extent possible.

The community largely aided in this. A sniper would not have the rifle until a few minutes before the OP. 30 seconds after taking the shot he would be out of the building. 5 minutes later he would be in new clothes (including gloves). 15 minutes later he would have showered then changed clothes again and be in a safe neighborhood.  That guy is now impossible to find, at least in the context of this OP, though they might get him later on other intel.

The IRA had female members. Some ran the classic honey pot. Others formed a direct action cell. They principally smuggled small incendiary devices into British economic targets in an attempt to disrupt their economy.

Caches- There is no 4th Amendment in the UK. Catholic neighborhoods (as well as Protestant ones) were semi regularly searched for weapons and explosives. Consequently the IRA perfected caching. Weapons/ explosives and special equipment were dropped in one cache to be picked up by the DA cell then after the OP immediately dropped into another cache. Some support folks would grab the guns, clean them and store them till they were needed again. These operational caches were used extensively to get weapons where the DA (direct action) folks needed them. In addition to operational caches deep caches were used. These were generally along the Survivalist "bury a bunch of guns in case we need them some day" sort of lines but on a much larger scale. Individual cells kept their own caches to minimize the chance of one senior logistics guy being nabbed and half the PIRA's guns getting captured.

The fusion and cooperation between international terrorist groups is worth noting. The IRA/ Libya link has been discussed already. In 2001 3 IRA hard cases who happened to be explosives experts were caught leaving Columbia where the had been training the FARC in exchange for drugs/ drug money. These two lovely groups were introduced by the Basque Separatists ETA.

Ultimately the conflict between the IRA and the government ended in a truce. Neither side of the conflict was winning and they were both tired. Along the way many of the legitimate grievances about housing and employment discrimination against Catholics were addressed which helped to improve their collective situation and thus temper separatist tendencies.

I have been writing for 2 hours now. May have some more thoughts but I cannot recall them. Am tired of writing so this post is done. May have more on the topic later.

Hope you enjoy the little lesson and just maybe can gleam some useful stuff out of it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Just Read the FM's?

American Mercenary wrote an excellent post. Army Field Manuals, like any other sort of reference tend to be geared toward people with a working understanding of the topic. They are meant to help make sure you do not miss a step, not to teach you something from the ground up.

What I am getting at is that a guy with a background like AM or myself could get a bit rusty in a staff job then pick up a Ranger Handbook and one of FM 7-8 and quickly reorient ourselves to light infantry tactics. In contrast someplace I have a Chilton Manual for a '76-79 (or whatever the specific years of the book covered) Chevy half ton truck plus a reasonable variety of hand tools. That doesn't mean I can change out that particular truck's carburetor or give it a tune up. Joe Mechanic could take that Chilton Manual plus my tools then do all sorts of stuff to that truck because he has a frame of reference. However give Joe Mechanic a Ranger Handbook, FM 7-8, an AR-15 and a fighting load and he'll do about as good of a job with it as I would taking that engine apart.

Unfortunately some folks without a frame of reference think they can learn from manuals or other references. A few can, we call them geniuses or savants or whatever. That being said for the 1 in a million who can learn Jui Jitsu/ Piano/ Small Engine repair from a book there are the other 999,999 who cannot. Most people simply are unable to learn that way and need some sort of more organized instruction. Those who fail to realize this simply do not know what they do not know.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pic Post

I really hope this one ends badly for the folks of Westboro Baptist. Those hate mongering assholes have been screwing around at funerals asking to get stomped for years. If there is any ambiguity in my statement I really hope a mob of angry Slayer fans inflict seriously bodily harm to every member of this protest old enough to legally drive a car.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Quote of the Day and Discussion

“Everyone has a plan – until they get punched in the face.”
-Mike Tyson

Some years ago I had the occasion to be in a situation where a bunch of people got punched in the face within a controlled environment. Some of them were people who would not otherwise find such circumstances and others were guys like me for whom it was just another Friday. Blood lust aside it was very interesting. You could tell without a doubt who was getting popped for the first time by the way they reacted. Never trust anybody who hasn't been punched in the face.

The implied task is that you need to become accustomed to violence under controlled circumstances now while the opportunity to learn before it matters still exists. Get used to it while you can.

I am not going to be writing a post today. All of a sudden it got late. Will crank out something good tomorrow unless I don't.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thermal Crossover

Definition: (DOD) The natural phenomenon which normally occurs twice daily when temperature conditions are such that there is a loss of contrast between two adjacent objects on infrared imagery.

In Laymens terms twice a day the optical technology gap between guys with iron sighted AK's and dudes with ten grand in cool technology is leveled. Folks who figured out when that time was and took advantage could take advantage of that situation. Some guys I know were regularly mortared at just the right time (thermal crossover) in Iraq. They never really figured out a good way to deal with it.

Figured that little tidbit might just interest a few of you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Targeting Families

AM wrote an interesting post that talked about this. He hits on the rather important point that it just doesn't work. This is not how folks win wars.

AM's post was about cause and effect. If you hurt somebody's family they will have a serious vendetta against you and might not value the lives of people around you very highly. Even in pretty ruthless criminal organizations they generally leave families off limits. This is largely for functional reasons that even scumbags have people who they love and nobody wants to go down that road. Think about it for a minute. If somebody hurt my family I wouldn't have much to lose and the life expectancies of people around them would be low. Lots of folks probably think the same way.

Something Matthew Bracken touched on is death squads formed by cops or various paramilitary types. Basically it goes like this. Some cops or whatever are doing their jack booted thing. They face some effective reprisals by some guerrilla types. Instead of waiting to get shot up by some rednecks with deer rifles the cops decide to get pro active off the books. They know more or less who the people they are up against, especially in a small town or a place with good proactive intelligence gathering. These cops get together off work and do the old snatch and drag to the woods to kill in a ditch routine. Maybe it is unofficially sanctioned by their bosses in an "I know you know, you know I know but we don't talk about it" sort of way or maybe it's just that no cops look very hard when a rabidly pro freedom gun shop owner vanishes. Also it isn't exactly too hard for a group of cops to make sure an investigation doesn't go anywhere.

Of course the G types are doing the same thing more or less; it might have developed on it's own or as a response to the regime death squads but it doesn't really matter.. They quickly realized that instead of waiting for a bunch of guys with body armor and automatic weapons to stack outside the door at 2 am it's better to get their own group of guys and hit some houses of their own, snag a guy coming out of a bar or whatever.

This is bad but it happens with almost predictable regularity. Look at the various dirty wars in South America throughout the 70's and 80's or Iraq circa 2006-2008ish. Like they say history doesn't repeat itself but sure rhymes.

I do not think that lethally targeting families is a good idea first because of the slippery ethical slope it puts you on (pretty quick you're bombing random civilians Bagdad 2008 style to destabilize the security situation) secondly because of reprisals and third because it doesn't gain the desired effects. I just think it is a bad idea.

That does not mean you should not target families (non lethally). Shunning is very powerful in isolated insular communities which a lot of small towns sort of resemble. Imagine a guys morale if his wife can't get her hair cut, the family has to drive 90 miles to find a doctor or dentist, the grocery store stacks the canned stuff on top of the bread every time, the son can't make a friend to save his life, the daughter isn't asked to the dance despite being a beautiful and charming girl, the bank messes up their account causing overdraws or freezing their money almost weekly, the mechanic won't look at the family car, you get the idea. Pretty quickly that guy is going to move or find another job.Shunning takes a high percentage of the community.

However there are still things a smaller group can do. Not much says you aren't welcome like burning someones house down. Also that has the benefit that you can find a time when it is unoccupied and not harm anybody. A group that has a reputation for action gets to the point where they don't even have to do these things. They just need to drop a night letter saying to leave or they will do whatever. Worst case if the night letter is accompanied by a Godfather style animal head it will probably be taken seriously.

Anyway those are my .02 cents on that.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thoughts on Insurgencies 7: How They Happen, Advantages and Disadvantages

An insurgency could be defined as an armed competition for the heart of the people and thus power. Almost without exception insurgencies involve at least one non state actor otherwise they would just be a war.

Insurgencies develop when a group of people feels they are facing injustice (real or perceived) and either cannot or do not want to participate in the main stream political process. That they do not have the numbers/ influence to achieve their goals through normal political channels leads these groups to take up arms. I do not find ethics or value judgements to be particularly useful here. Many groups in the middle east as well as Africa had really legitimate cases to pick up arms but happened to be Islamic and or Communist a holes.

Folks like to talk about the white Afrikaners and Rhodesia's.  A small minority holding all of the power and most of the wealth in a system with very limited mobility is a good way to make the other people angry. That the small minority happen to be a different color than the poor majority is a real problem. Also it makes for a very good case as to why that system should be changed through violence. Of course sooner or later the many will question why they are so blatantly and brutally held down by the few. That the commie's would give these disenchanted groups indoctrination, training and weapons was just icing on the cake.

I cannot say it is a 1-1 thing but for insurgencies to really have a chance to take roots a lot of people need to be pretty unhappy as happy people do not fight their own government. The government needs to be incapable or unwilling to address their real or perceived issues that are making people so unhappy. Governments that are healthy have the right combination of being aware and able to address, if just in a token way peoples needs and having a viable security apparatus to keep the lid on things. So we have a couple conditions. We need a fairly large group of people that are really unhappy with their government and a government that cannot or will not address their needs and or shut them down with the security apparatus.

Now we have these two (or more but let's stick with two right now) opposing groups with a bunch of normal folks stuck in the middle. The government wants to maintain the status quo and the insurgents/ guerrillas want to be in charge or have some freedom or see land distribution in their favor or whatever. The government could be broken down into foreign or local. Foreign being the classic usually European Empire (say the Brit's in Malaysia, Kenya or whatever) and local (Rhodesia back in the day or Syria right now are fine examples). The difference is notable in that foreign or predominantly foreign (there is always a proxy force) forces have far less of a stomach for a long fight. It is pretty natural that folks will eventually give up on keeping/ taking over Nowhereistan and go back home. On the other hand and equally naturally people will fight tooth and nail to stay in power at home. This is why you see a lot more 10, 20 or 30 year conflicts between the local (national or state) regime and people who do not like them than with foreigners from far away. It is like a semi sporting fight between casual acquaintances and a brawl in a dark alley with a stranger. One ends when somebody gets hurt and the other ends when somebody is crippled or dead.

Both sides have advantages and disadvantages. Rather obviously the government has men, money, weapons, technology and pretty much every conventional warfare advantage you could name. On the other hand the insurgents/ guerrillas have some advantages also. One is low expectations. That they do not have to win but just have to convince people they are not losing is obviously an advantage. It is kind of like a handicap in golf. 

Another advantage is adaptability. It takes a conventional force like the Russians or the Americans forever to adopt a new weapons system. If we started now I would probably retire before a genuinely new weapon was widely fielded. On the other hand if a group of guerrillas finds that they need say a .50 caliber rifle they just need to get their hands on a few and train some dudes to use them. It could potentially be done in weeks. The same for new explosive charges or uniforms, radios or tactics.

Rather obviously guerrillas need weapons, ammunition, stuff and money. Money is probably the most important as it can readily be turned into the other stuff. We could break guerrilla funding sources into three basic streams. 1) Donations typically large foreign donations by sympathetic groups/ nations is pretty simple. A country such as both the US and USSR during the cold war or group such as Gulf State extremists supporting the Mujaheddin and then Taliban in Afghanistan and sympathetic Americans funding the IRA comes in with big bucks. Smaller donations can also be a consideration. 2) Various illegal or semi legal dealings such as drugs in the case of the Taliban and many South American Groups, the IRA selling guns and all manner of jerks and thugs robbing banks, printing fake money and running various scams. 3) Illegal taxes and forced donations from businesses and everyday folks. Either they are taking stuff without paying for it or making people make 'donations' or whatever. Unless people are sympathetic or they are providing some services in return this tends to make people unhappy though just about all insurgent and guerrilla groups do it.

Obviously it is a lot easier to conduct an insurgency if you are flush with cash. Groups with cash can get whatever sort of weapons they want, explosives, pay bribes and all sorts of fun stuff. This means that groups are hitting funding techniques 2 and 3 pretty hard. The difference between an insurgent group that is actively participating in the global gun/ drug/ smuggling/ etc trade and a big nasty gang like the Russian Mafia or MS-13 can get blurry. To me it comes back to the groups primary purpose. MS-13 are scary international gangsters to make money and get respect while the Taliban sell opium to fund their fight against the US and goals to regain regional domination or whatever.

As to equipment unless a group is getting  regular resupply via a friendly force or purchases they will by necessity use the same weapons systems as the government they are fighting. Having your own weapons, set up how you like and zeroed, in those calibers/ systems just makes sense. Even if you hate a system having one set up and put away for a rainy day is smart.

Well I am bored of writing now so it is time to wrap this up.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Reader Question- Night Vision

C sent me a note asking about night vision. "I am not ready to spend the coin on PVS-14s like you did but was wondering if you have any thoughts on gen 1 stuff.  My goals are modest-- (1) get familiar with the stuff, (2) check out activity in the back yard up to 50 meters or so, (3) move through terrain without visible light.  The ability to use with a weapon would be a plus.  Yukon has some positively rated gen 1 weapon sights for $400 ( but I don't love flagging everything I want to look at.  I also have an AIMPOINT PRO which is NVG compatible; in that case would a helmet-rig make more sense?"

TOR here: Sorry Man but to be honest I do not know. There is a picture comparison of the generations of night vision put out by a big manufacturer that you can see by going here and scrolling down about halfway. Somebody made a video comparing Gen 1 and Gen 3 that you can see here. I cannot personally vouch for these but they seem legit to me.

As to Gen 1 stuff. Broadly speaking you definitely get what you pay for. This is a great "buy once, cry once" candidate. That being said some folks are not able (or willing) to spend the equivalent of an OK used car on a NOD. Both the spend more and the 'but I can't' rabbit holes can be followed if you want. Personally I decided to suck it up and make the purchase of a NOD. I use them at work and know what they can do. The massive advantage they bring is worth the cost to me. What was right for me might not be right for others. I have used some older stuff on the .mil side, can't remember what exactly, it was a long time ago, but it was complete junk. I wish I could spend a night testing a dozen common models all the way from Gen 1-3 but the opportunity has not presented itself. It is almost certainly better than nothing but how much better and if it is worth the money I cannot say.

 You can probably get some or most of what you want done with the kind of model you mentioned, which I thought about getting myself but decided against it for reasons I cannot remember, though they will be degraded in relation to a more expensive set. I am trying my best to help but really don't know. [If anybody with experience using modern Gen 3 stuff also has experience with commercial off the shelf Gen 1 stuff like the model mentioned and is interested in writing about it please leave a comment or contact me at]

Now we can go to something I know more about. Unless you are using night vision as a dedicated sniper setup for varmit hunting the right answer is to mount the night vision on your head, probably using some sort of helmet. The reason for this is that you are going to do a whole bunch of stuff with night vision that requires your eyes but doesn't need a gun pointed at it. Stuff from walking around to turning back to make sure a buddy is behind you or whatever.

When an optic is said to be "NVG compatible" what (I believe) they mean you will be able to use it in line with a NOD (by mounting the NOD behind the optic on the rifle). In plain English it means you can see the reticle/ dot through a NOD. If the NOD is on one eye and you try to aim the rifle with the other you would see with the night vision through one eye and with the other a lit optic on the ambient light surface. I have never done this but I suspect it would work badly.  The way to use a weapon in conjunction with a NOD is to have it on your face and aim the weapon via an IR laser. To do this you need a legit IR laser that is able to be zeroed and can hold said zero. A DBAL which is basically a civilian legal equivalent to a PEQ-15 costs about a grand. Yeah this sucks, I am knee deep in said suck right now. If anybody knows of a legitimately viable alternative I am interested. (Rednecking the cheapest IR laser you can find onto a gun won't cut it. It won't be able to get or hold a zero and thus will not be able to hit #*$* with it, sorry.)

Anyway I hope this helps our friend C and maybe a few other folks.  As always input is appreciated.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Body Armor, To Buy Or Not And When To Use

The topic of body armor has come up again recently. I have talked a bit about it in the past. Anyway here we go, some of this will probably be new and some will be rehashed.The first question is if you should buy body armor. I would say that folks who think they might end up on the two way range some day would be well advised to acquire body armor. It saves lives and gives a useful advantage. It broadly comes in two types soft armor (like cops wear)  and rifle plates. Soft vests can sometimes be had pretty cheap. They will stop most pistol rounds and buckshot. It comes in class 2A, 2 and 3A. Each successively heavier type stops larger/ faster bullets but is also heavier and thicker. A lot of folks recommend class 2 as a good compromise. One of these might be handy if you have to make large cash transactions or otherwise function at increased risk in a normal non mad max world. Rifle plates are solid ceramics or steel plates that stop heavier/ faster rounds including most common rifle rounds up to the .308/30'06 range. They are relatively heavy, cumbersome and expensive. Then again they do stop rifle bullets. While a stripped plate carrier could theoretically be concealed under a coat or sweatshirt they are not something most folks would wear outside of a war zone or situation where a gunfight was likely. When to buy it is however a practical question. Once you have some basic weapons w/ ammo and ancillary stuff, some food and other gear it might be a good time to look at body armor. The subject of cost comes up here. My experiences as a consumer and brief google research show the following for prices. A soft vest will probably cost as much as a decent used revolver (around $300) and a plate carrier with rifle plates costs about as much as a mid shelf AK or lower end AR ($600ish or more). This is honestly something folks on really low budgets may have a hard time affording. I wouldn't fault somebody who was doing their best to slowly work through their families needs in a logical way and had to put off the purchase of body armor indefinitely.That being said if you have several nice pistols and a half dozen military pattern rifles but no body armor your priorities are skewed. I would recommend that you stop collecting guns. Delay the purchase of your next toy vital survivalist tool, consider maybe selling a safe queen and get the stuff you need to have every possible advantage on the two way range. Personally I would place body armor before gen III night vision. This is simply because of cost as body armor costs about 1/5th as much as a PVS 14 monocle. [While night vision is another topic most of the things said about body armor could be amplified about night vision. Very useful but very expensive.]When to use it. Personally body armor is part of my home defense plans. I want every possible advantage, fighting fair is for idiots and losers. Lots of folks talk about how body armor is not useful for insurgents or  guerillas or generally in modern "4G" warfare. I have to observe that most of them have not been a boots on the ground (vs say a senior FG officer in some redundant "command") participant in one of these conflicts. Lots of lives are saved by body armor. There is a reason that historically speaking fatalities are down (though amputees are up by percentage) in our recent conflicts. Body armor saves lives. A plate carrier will typically weigh around 20 pounds (plates at 7-8lbs each, a couple pounds for the carrier, potentially side plates, etc) give or take. A full up IOTV weights more and to be blunt I would not recommend it for most civilian or G applications.Some folks talk about how the added weight slows you down. Some argue this is a significant factor in recent conflicts, particularly Afghanistan. I read a great article about this called Bring Back The Light Infantry which I linked to in an old but if I do say so myself pretty awesome post.For me if things went all Red Dawn and I was playing guerrilla with remaining parts of my unit, buddies or whatever I would be inclined to wear body armor far more often than not. The decision would be a trade off between the protection body armor offers and the decreased mobility it brings. Mostly this would be an issue if we needed to carry a particularly heavy load to sustain ourselves for a long period or due to heavy items needed for the mission. Also if speed was important and the risk of contact was quite low I might consider ditching the armor. Certainly I would wear armor if conducting any sort of planned operation such as a raid or ambush. Basically unless there was a really good reason (or reasons) not to I/we would wear our darn body armor. Not too long ago I found myself doing a timed run in interceptor body armor, a uniform, boots and a helmet. Two miles took me 16 minutes plus a few seconds but I do not remember exactly; so about a minute to a minute and a half longer than it would in shorts and running shoes. Of course adding a chest rig with a bunch of magazines and a rifle would be an increase in weight but you would have that stuff either way. The point I am trying to get at is that body armor, especially a basic plate carrier with 2 rifle plates, just ISN'T REALLY ALL THAT HEAVY. If you have a strong core, a bit of muscle and run/ ruck regularly like you should be doing anyway wearing body armor, though it does increase the suck a bit really isn't an issue. I have to humbly submit for consideration that if a person who isn't fit enough to go play war wearing body armor isn't fit enough to play anyway.

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