Showing posts with label guerilla. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guerilla. Show all posts

Monday, November 30, 2015

Links From Around The Web

Guerrilla America brought up a Good Chart for Rules for The Use of Burner Phones.

Very good stuff. Without going all OPSEC violationy (though a combination of wikki leaks, scientific/ tech magazines like popular mechanic or internet shit weekly and various manuals/ TTP's/ CALL publications you can probably get over 90% of the way there) I want to add somethings.

I would add.
Problem- Do not just dispose of compromised phones. The issue is smart folks will sit on that stuff, especially if the bad guys aren't dumping them. They will sit on phones for weeks to roll up as much of the network as they can.

Solution- Dump phones, and I mean genuinely 100% of the phones not half or 3/4's AT ONCE. I hesitate to say an exact time but I would probably do it at least monthly during a very low intensity (which one could argue we are in now) time and more like weekly in a high intensity time. I would also consider operational variables such as mission timing and personnel changes. I would not keep to a schedule but would instead of it semi regularly within those general considerations.

Problem- Hiding in plain (electronic) sight.

Solution- Whenever possible use phones in areas/ times where there is lots of electronic noise. Since basically anyone can listen in on cell phones you want lots of noise. Think of it like having a conversation in a crowded bar instead of a quiet empty libraary. I bet there are a lot of phones in use at say 5-7 PM in a quarter mile radius in the suburbs. How many are being used in a national forest at 2 AM, probably one. You might not be able to avoid when/ where you talk from in some situations but when you can busy is good.

5 Critical Things You're Missing in Your SHTF Training is pretty good also.  I have never seen that blog before but it was sure a good post.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Quote of the Day

Daryl Jenkins: Oh, ho, I missed this.
Julie: You know what else I miss? Pizza.
Greg: Toilets that flush.
Daryl Jenkins: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Robert: Dude, we're living Call of Duty. And it sucks.

-Red Dawn (2012)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quote of the Day

"From the historical perspective, guerrilla warfare is far more conventional than formal armies are."
-John Mosby of Mountain Guerrilla

Monday, December 9, 2013

Max Velocity on Terrorist Vs Freedom Fighter

An interesting discussion going on at Max's place. Suppose like all things the clearly defined extremes are a lot easier than the murky middle ground. Also I cannot help but observe that when we try to differentiate between 'terrorist' and 'freedom fighter' those who we are ideologically compatible with tend to come out as 'freedom fighter' a whole lot more often.

The clearest issue in my mind is whether a given combative group chooses to target random civilians in order to spread terror or commits atrocities against innocent family members of the enemy side. If random people or civilian dependents of enemy combatants end up hurt or killed in a wrong place wrong time scenario that is unfortunate but war is messy. I think the difference is about intent and taking actions that are reasonably focused towards ones enemy.

Example: Lets say the Chinese invade America and I'm playing Red Dawn. A key officer in the PLA lives with his family in a small home near their base. My group wants to kill/ capture him so we plan a 0300 operation. The op goes bad. The officer was having trouble sleeping so he heard our entry and armed himself. In the craziness a kerosene lantern was broke and a fire stared. The officer died as did his family. This is an unfortunate situation but ole LT Wong made a choice for his family.

On the other hand if we tied up the whole family, covered them with petrol then did the dramatic cigarette toss that is not acceptable in my mind.

The hard truth is that was is an ugly dangerous business. You can do everything right and sometimes the wrong people still get killed. That being said accepting some inherent risk is different than being ambivalent. One might decide that certain tactics and weapons should not be employed in certain areas due to risk of collateral damage. A 500 pound IED designed to flip over a MAC V in the desert won't hurt anybody else, or at least not a lot of people. On the other hand that same IED emplaced for the same reason going off in a Bazzar on a peak shopping day would kill a lot of people.

Well those are my thoughts on that. As always feel free to join the conversation.

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.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Patrolling Discusion

John Mosby and Max Velocity are having an interesting discussion on patrolling worth keeping up on. They both made excellent points. You need to know how to conduct patrols. If you do not know this save a few bucks and go learn. Max Velocity is running a 25% off summer discount which will make the hit to your wallet a bit easier.

Max's discussion of British patrols in Northern Ireland is interesting. Whatever you or I might think of the politics involved the Brits were in Northern Ireland for a long time during which they learned some hard lessons. These lessons were proven valid in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Presence patrols can be important. One often underestimated consideration is that many patrols are not about the patrol itself. There is a need to move from point A to point B to do something (trade, meet with people, gather intel, see a doctor, gather food, etc) and the patrol is done to support that need. You will need to go places/ do things; hiding in an uuber survivalist retreat is a cute idea but it fails the common sense test.

Learn to conduct patrols NOW before you need it.

As to the challenge yesterday was a fail. Today I lifted and ran. Ate 1,820 calories.

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.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hybrid Threats and Modern Law Enforcement in the Border States

Hybrid Warfare is a strategy of warfare that blends some combination of conventional forces, unconventional/ guerrilla forces, terrorism and criminal elements as well as cyber and information warfare. Instead of dealing with one type of threat a force ends up dealing with  multiple threats. Potentially these threats are working together though some (typically criminals) may just be doing bad stuff in the same time and space. Basically it's a big mess.

Of particular concern to the border states is the overlap between gangs and guerrilla/ terrorist (in this context I do not find that term productive as, excluding the most violent and pointless atrocities, it often boils down to a value judgement of a group so I use guerrilla instead) organizations. To some degree large gangs are guerrilla organizations and guerrilla organizations are criminal. 

Mexican drug cartels cutting the heads off people and hanging them from bridges is certainly done to inspire fear which is by definition terrorism. On the other hand guerrilla groups inevitably resort to a variety of criminal acts for fund raising.  Selling drugs to fund guerrilla actions is boringly cliche. The IRA was big on smuggling and various forms of fraud. All those Aryan groups in the 80's and early 90's were big on robbing banks. You get the point. What it boils down to for me is the primary purpose of the organization. Mexican drug cartels exist to make money by selling drugs. A bunch of folks robbing banks to fund the revolution are their guerrilla goals.

In any case I was involved in an interesting discussion  that is worth talking about. Took me awhile to digest it so now we have story time with Ryan. Some thoughts in no particular order:

-The fusion between various federal agencies, state, county and local law enforcement is significant.  Information sharing and intelligence gathering, training, a variety of joint operations and such. They are far more connected than in years back. This is necessary to deal with a variety of threats that do not neatly fit into jurisdictional boundaries. On the other side of the coin I can certainly see how this fusion could concern some folks. Regardless of your value judgement on the matter this is here to stay.

-As to our southern border. It is a good reminder that barriers only stop people if they are guarded. Barriers without dudes carrying rifles watching them only serve to slow movement.

-Cell phones. I'm going to spot you the credit to assume the normal everyday cell phone most people carry is not around if you are doing something it would be a problem if ANYBODY knows about. If you did not know that I would recommend educating yourself. We are talking about semi anonymous disposable pre paid cell phones. These phones are also known as dirt phones, drug phones and my personal favorite hoe phones. Even still this just doesn't work. I've been talking about it for years. Like I said a long time ago.

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.

 If I was doing something where shady where the only viable communications option was cell phones they would be collected then dumped regularly. Probably weekly on a normal basis then as needed before then after significant operations. Only 'work' calls (and maybe some completely random planned ones) would be made with a significant penalty for any inflactions.

- If you weren't tracking it  UAV technology has came to all levels of law enforcement. Maybe they own them or maybe they borrow them, the significance is negligible really. What matters is you can assume pretty much all but the most podunk PD's have UAV's.

- Again as noted before too many vehicles or people is a tip off. If a typically 4 person residence or agricultural operation always has 20 folks hanging out it is an indicator that something else is going on.

- Also too expensive of vehicles is another indicator of something illicit. This makes sense though is not something one might consider. A little farm or ranch that MAYBE brings in 25k a year should not  (unless obviously the owner has significant income from another legitimate source) have several fifty thousand dollar customized trucks or SUV's outside.

- Paper records are an interesting topic. They are hard to destroy, especially on short notice. Info on a micro SD card is a lot easier to destroy on short notice. Obviously one would want to use a dedicated laptop THAT NEVER GOES ONLINE for this. If you really want to go old school with ledgers and records some sort of a burn cabinet (a container that stores files with a method in place to immediately destroy them if need be) would be the order of the day.

- Being able to get your hands on a rotating supply of legitimately titled/ licensed vehicles is helpful if you wan to avoid prying eyes. A buddy with a used car lot would be a good friend to have.

- Compartmentalization. In terms of drug stuff (obviously the big border show) people who know how the drugs come in should not know where they go. Folks who know where the drugs are stored should not know where the cash is stored. None of those people should know where the drugs are delivered to. The same could be applied to a guerrilla force keeping direct action cells separated from support folks and everybody from each other on general principle.

- Information and intelligence gathering. Both sides run intel on each other. They study successes and failures to learn from them gathering as much info as possible along the way. The cartels know who the cops are and where they live. The cops know who the real players (south of the border) are and where they live. The cops cannot reach the bosses down in Mexico and the cartels largely do not bother (lethally) targeting cops. Cops are held at bay by moral constraints and the border. Cartels just don't bother to (as far as any legitimate systemic trends I have seen) target American cops. Some busts are just a cost of business and enough get through that it's not a huge deal anyway.

- Often guerrilla's have a criminal wing to support their operations. Sort of like we discussed earlier. As we have also mentioned drugs are a common financing source. Personally I find that rather distasteful. In places where the business is in growing/ refining or shipping drugs I can see it but in the US it's all use. At the end of the day, despite my legalize everything libertarian tendencies, drugs are a scourge to our communities that I would never be a part of. Smuggling is a good option especially in a restricted economically dysfunctional scenario. Decent cigarettes, booze, name brand candy, perfume, make- up and maybe guns/ ammo could bring a decent amount of cash in. Obviously for a G government money is free game, significant government supporters (media, key politicians, etc not some secretary) are also a fine option to either rob or extort.

- Border regions. This whole drug mess would not be what it is without a border that gives crooks a safe haven. Being able to have established logistics and homes in a secure place then operate, largely through illegal alien cut out's, over the border without significant risk of consequences is a large part of why cartels are successful, rich and powerful. Looking at history the same could be said of guerrilla organizations. Insurgencies that succeed without a border to rest and train behind are at best the exception to the rule.

Well that's about all I can think of on this topic. Hope it was interesting for somebody.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thoughts on Insurgencies # Whatever Targeting by CARVER

CARVER is an accronym used for targeting. In this post I am going to go through it in plain language laymen will understand. If you want more formal stuff as well as the scoring matrix click here. Use this method of targeting to look at potential options from your pattern and link analysis.

CRITICALITY- Obviously the point of attacking a target is to hurt the group whose personnel or equipment (infrastructure, etc) you are targeting. No point in going to all the risk and hassle to conduct an attack that will hardly impact the enemy. Lets say you destroy the enemies resupply of underwear, so what. On the other hand if you blow up their fuel it will hurt. This is one significant problem with the 'Shoot the enemy Joey's in the face' plan. Joey is a fine upstanding young man but he is not critical to the mission. 

ACCESSIBILITY- Sure it would be nice to kill the enemy President while he has dinner with all the top military leaders and the head of their intelligence agency but that event is probably very secure. No point in planning a mission where you can't reach the target, execute the mission and successfully exfiltrate. To me this is the reality check question.

RECUPERABILITY- How quickly can the enemy recover, repair or bypass the damage? No point in damaging a city road if they can take 2nd instead of 1st. On the other hand knocking out a bridge might take them months to fix, making a 20 mile trip to mess with your safe area into an 80 mile trip and giving you freedom of maneuver for awhile. Recuperability is another reason the shoot Joey in the face plan sucks. Sure folks will get bummed, they will have a ceremony for him, etc but there is a negligible impact on the big picture. 

[If you haven't picked it up I do not think much of shooting the enemies junior soldiers as a plan for success. Insurgents cannot risk their lives for a stupid goal of killing some 20 year old kid who only matters to his family and buddies. I am not saying there isn't a reason to engage the enemy in combat, just do it towards a goal. Attack to deny the enemy freedom of movement, harass them and push them out of an area or to capture supplies, for propaganda purposes, knife them in dark allies to put fear in their hearts or whatever. Sort of like exercising if you can't clearly state the reason for doing something it's probably good to question it.]

VULNERABILITY- Can you destroy the target with skills or weapons the team possesses? Not much of a point targeting things you cannot destroy or damage enough to meet your goals. Any redneck could knock a cell phone/ radio tower offline. On the other hand a steel and concrete bridge is a bit harder and the right equipment (explosives, det cord and detonators) really help. 

EFFECT- What will the impact of this target be on the political, military, social, economy and in particular the civilian populace? This relates to criticality; how I separate them (maybe wrongly so) is that criticality is the effect on the enemy while effect is on the larger situation. Example, You knock out a bridge that limits regime movement within the AO so it is an obvious criticality win. However this also prevents farmers from getting their crops to market easily and the flow of normal goods/ services are adversely effected. The end result is the economy being seriously hurt which makes lots of otherwise sympathetic people angry with your group. 

AND RECOGNIZABILITY- In realistic combat conditions or bad weather can the folks executing the mission quickly and accurately identify the target? Grabbing a 6'3" skinny teenager with short hair and an earring wearing a baggy t shirt, shorts and sneakers at a high school basketball tournament is going to be problematic at best. 

Well I hope this gives you something to think about. Use
pattern and link analysis then CARVER and, assuming a decent foundation in small unit tactics, there is reasonable chance of success.

I hope you enjoy this post and have a wonderful Friday.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Death Squads, What Collapse Looks Like and Things To Do Now

Well it looks like the friendly (snark) local Aryan Brotherhood offed that DA and his wife, as well as the Colorado prison department guy in Colorado and probably the ADA from Texas. As AM noted recently Assistant Attorney Jay Hileman stepped down from prosecuting an Aryan Brotherhood case. Part of me says the dude should man up and do the job Texas is paying him to but on the other hand I can see his perspective. The guy took the job to bridge into something else and now all of a sudden some crazy honkeys are killing folks in the exact situation he was in. As AM noted this is bad.

I do not know what will happen. It is worth noting this is how death squads come to be. Some group either Criminal or Revolutionary in nature (yes there could be others but lets keep it simple)  decides to start hitting back at the cops and or soldiers (for the sake of flow I will just say cops from here on). The cops decide that it sucks when they are being attacked and killed. In small to medium sized groups they decide to do something about it. Given that they are the cops who have significant discretion about which cases to pursue and where to pursue them, especially with politically marginalized people, the odds of getting caught are about zero. Cops know who the bad guys are, who their friends are and where they hang out. Maybe they go all Vick Mackey and bend some rules, slap some folks around for info or whatever; or they might go strait to 'black sight prisons, torture and summary executions and shallow graves. In the big picture it doesn't really matter because it is bad.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Actions by angry groups of armed men are typically violent. Once the pro regime death squads get going the anti regime (criminal or revolutionary) death squads are sure to follow, if they do not exist already. The tit for tat spiral goes into full effect. The end result is Iraq from 2006-2010ish, the dirty wars in South America or Mexico right now. For those who are not up on their current history that means very bad. Tons of people getting killed or just vanishing. Some are legit players in the conflict but many, of not most, are normal folks ratted out for personal reasons or just at the wrong place during the wrong time.

This is the kind of thing that happens with the mob in Italy or tribal groups in Iraq during the bad years. It leads to a paralyzed system in the short term due to turnover. Eventually folks get into these positions who are not inclined to prosecute these cases unless it's a slam dunk (like caught on live TV and the guy says his name out loud) or maybe even not at all. It would be difficult to overstate the impact this sort of thing has on rule of law.

Along other lines (well except mooching off AM for material;) we need to know that collapses do not typically happen in a day. Rome wasn't going great then all of a sudden those pesky Germanic Hordes showed up. One could make a legitimate argument that right now is what collapse looks like.

What can we do? Long term shelf stable food and dehydrated emergency food are good options. Ammo and precious metals are always good ideas.  A quality water filter is essential. All old hat.

Today I had a couple of cavities filled. Not so long ago I went to the eye doctor to get a couple extra sets of glasses. Wifey has done or is about to do these things. We make sure the kids stay current on all their stuff too. Typically these are things that get put off or delayed when money gets tight, which it is now for about everybody. Best case you still have a job but magical price increases that are clearly not  inflation are decreasing purchasing power.

I urge you to take care of this stuff ASAP. A tooth that you've been putting off getting fixed would be a real problem if things go all Argentina on us. Ditto for needing a spare set of spectacles. If your family need medicine it would be prudent to stock some. Yes it costs money, sometimes a lot of money. However I can't see medical/ dental/ optometry care getting cheaper, more available or better in the next couple years. Quite frankly I suspect the opposite is going to happen. In other words that filling or new pair of glasses you are putting off now will be even less affordable in a year. They may just plain be out of the reach of many folks who are currently in the middle class.

Along the health and fitness effort line work on getting into shape. Also slowly work to make your addictions into luxuries. In other words decrease frequency and consumption such that if you need to stop using them it is not a big deal. Do this a bit at a time and it doesn't suck that bad. I'm down to 2 cups of coffee a day and more days without beer than with so it can be done. It's not fun but sure beats needing to quit these things because you do not have and can not get them during an already stressful situation.

 That covered a lot of ground but hopefully everyone got something out of it.Get moving and do something.


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.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

9 Considerations for the Lone Wolf

Max Velocity started the topic and then American Mercenary added to it. Time for me to toss .02 cents into the topic.

1) You do not want to fight. It doesn't matter if you retired yesterday as an E-9 genuine JSOC Jedi from the coolest Tier 1 unit. Five rednecks with rifles probably have your number, if not today then next week.

2) Force multipliers matter even more when you have less force. I would call a guy with a NOD equal to 2 or 3 guys without them at night. If you can possibly afford it get body armor and NODs.

3) Ex filtration is probably more important than the actual operation itself. One guy can't shoot his way out of much and there is nobody to drag you off should you get shot or break an ankle. You can miss shots/ have bombs fail or whatever all the time if you can get away. Sure it sucks but you can always try again. On the other hand if you kill a tank then get blown up trying to get away you are dead. If you cannot figure out a very solid exfil plan it's probably better not to run the op. Live to fight another day is the optimal phrase.

4) Have a realistic op tempo. The reason cool JSOC guys or even plain old Infantryman can maintain the operational tempo's they do is that they have a bunch of support. People are gathering intel for them, others are planning operations, some more folks are fixing their vehicles, others are doing logistics, making food and such. Since a lone wolf does not have people doing any of those things they have to do it them self. Remember that gathering intel, planning, caching weapons, doing necessary maintenance and dealing with logistics is the stuff that lets you do the more gratifying part.

5) Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Like AM said you probably want to lean more towards assassinations than harassment. No point getting offed trying to shoot some Joey. On the other hand doing a 1 man infiltration of a Brigade sized FOB to kill a General Officer probably is not realistic either. (Remember #3 Exfil)

Put in the time and do pattern and link analysis. In doing it you will probably find there are some good targets that are not very well guarded. Whacking the proverbial lynch pin is less sexy than offing VIP's or blowing up tanks but it is arguably more effective and certainly more realistic for a lone wolf.

6) Do not set patterns. Keeping a little threat wheel of your actions is a good way to avoid setting patterns. Also taking a couple months off of kinetic work is a good way to get other things done, plan, rest and let the enemy forget about you.

7) Have a reason to be wherever you are as much of the time as possible. Maybe you like running and use that to do some recon. Maybe take up bird watching to explain always being out in the middle of nowhere with bino's and a sack lunch. The point is to be able to explain why you are where you are in a way that is sufficient to the casual contact with a member of the other side's security apparatus.

8) Caches. A lone wolf is going to be living at home, probably still going to work and all that. Some caches are to spread out your proverbial eggs. Others are more operational in nature. In North Ireland the IRA were great at this. Their shooters would just be some guys in a truck until they grabbed their guns/ explosives from a pre planned cache a couple minutes before go time and went into action. Almost immediately after they ditched the guns, probably in another hiding spot, and vanished into the population. For a lone wolf maybe this would mean stashing a pistol or a rifle in a good spot, grabbing it and going into action then either hiding it again or worst case ditching it. Especially if he takes some steps to avoid fingerprints, gunpowder resin, etc and gets out of the immediate area a lone wolfs odds of getting away are pretty good. Certainly far better than if he tries running off wearing cammies and carrying a rifle through the street or woods.

9) Make some friends so you can stop being a lone wolf. Do this now. Get out of your shell and meet some like minded people.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: Patriot Dawn The Resistance Rises by Max Velocity

Today I am pleased to be reviewing Max Velocity's newest book Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises. The basic plot is as follows. A veteran and his family in the DC/ Northern Virginia area find themselves in a grid down collapse type scenario and simultaneously faced with an oppressive regime. They have some misadventures and end up involved in the resistance against said oppressive regime. Any further than that will get seriously into spoiler territory. To the usual format.

The Good: A plausible scenario is always a good start. Some of Max's book ready like the news these days. The book offered some seriously great advice for anybody looking to fight a guerrilla war against an oppressive regime. Without using buzz words to sound knowledgeable Max laid out some very good information. It would be difficult to overstate the amount of good information that is in this book. To put it into perspective I have been in the Army for awhile, done a whole lot of training, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, read bunches of books and I got a lot out of this book. Just maybe some day having a hard copy of this book around could be handy.

The Bad: The characters were a bit flat and at times they related to each other in ways that needed to be better developed to seem superficial and could have been better developed. I took this with a grain of salt for two reasons. First Max is not a professional fiction author; expecting him to write like one would not be realistic. Secondly the parts these parts did not really detract too much from the book. Sort of like Patriots it is halfway a how to wrapped in a fiction novel so the lessons aren't lost because Bob and Sue's dialog wasn't perfect.

The Ugly: About a quarter of the way into the book there was a scene that was ridiculous. I do not want to spoil the details but the main character and his family somehow killed several guys who had better weapons, superior positioning, initiative and numbers on their side. It was ridiculous and in my experience totally implausible. If it would have been hammed up a bit more it could have been a scene out the The Survivalist; all they would have needed is to have the main character dual wielding stainless Detonics Combat Master 1911's while riding a Harley and smoking a cigarillo.

I got pretty annoyed and almost stopped reading the book. Figured if this was going to be the way it went why waste my time. However thankfully I continued reading. There were no parts like that and the rest of the book was awesome.

Overall Assessment. I found this book enjoyable and very informative. Strongly suspect you will also find it a worthwhile read. It paired with Max's nonfiction book Contact would give about as much of an edge in surviving a nasty situation as two books can. If you can find a sale that is cool but don't hold off to find one. Get yourself a hard copy of Patriot Dawn sooner instead of later.

For the sake of full disclosure I received a copy of this book to review.

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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

RE: Building Rapport with the Local Civilian Populace, a Primer for Militia Groups by John Mosby

It seems that John Mosby has taken a trip from the hinter boonies to town and dropped an article titled Building Rapport with the Local Civilian Populace, a Primer for Militia Groups that I plan to discus today. Obviously you should read Johns post because it worthwhile and entertaining. Also what I am going to write will not make much sense otherwise.

The reasons a militia needs to build rapport with the local population should be obvious. Groups that are not integrated in the community can be marginalized then, sometimes under color of law, victimized. SWAT raids with loose fire control are made against fringe groups in addition to various criminals. If your militia supports the local Sheriffs Auxillary/ Search and Rescue/ whatever and they know you are good folks who obey the law (or at least the important ones) the odds your group will be treated how you want are much better. You might even get a heads up if something is brewing. You do not hear about the head of the local Lions Club President or a Sunday School leader from First Baptist getting SWATed very often.

Also groups need to build rapport to garner good will and assistance. A local doctor who is also a member of the local Eagles club that  knows your group from the park restoration might develop into someone willing to teach a couple things, help you get some legal to have but hard to find medical stuff or even be willing to provide discrete medical care. The gas store owner whose kid was found by militia folks  supporting the local search and rescue might fudge some numbers to get the militia fuel to operate if there is rationing going on.

If your militia supports the local Sheriffs Auxillary/ Search and Rescue/ whatever and they know you are good folks who obey the law (or at least the important ones) the odds your group will be treated how you want are much better. You might even get a heads up if something is brewing.

Local folks who would be great militia candidates might who are turned off by a (moderately accurate) impression that militias are a bunch of fat old white racists could see that your group are not those things. These prospective members might see a bunch of reasonably fit people with decent heads on their shoulders worried about the things they are and doing something. This could be a way to help get the kind of recruits a militia really wants.

You get the importance of building rapport. Now onto my ideas about the subject. In no particular order here we go:

- Everyone has certain talents and getting along with people, making friends and bringing in potential sympathizers/ auxillary members/ members are talents. The folks who are best at this task should have (as a primary or additional duty) that task. Waitresses, salesmen, and folks with a gift for gab who are smart enough to say the right things and not say the wrong things are what you need here. Some folks are awesome tactical leaders but should not be put out in front as the face of your group. A dude with an eye patch and a big scar that cannot regulate his profanity is not going to be a good recruiter. Neither is anybody with the personality of a wet blanket. It doesn't matter if they are the lowliest rifleman or a key leader you need the right person for the job.

- Dressing appropriately for the social/ cultural group and event matters. Between decent free image design software and a whole bunch of internet companies you can get shirts screen printed for surprisingly reasonable prices.  A bunch of folks wearing polo shirts with a tasteful symbol and slacks or cargo pants looks a whole lot more appealing than old BDUs. For a volunteer function t shirts and cargo pants or clean newish jeans would be a good option.

[I am talking appropriate and tasteful stuff so no daggers, skulls, guns, snakes, blood or any other stupid Joey junk. Motivational t shirts are cool but some are best kept at home or out training.]

- For information and ideas on building community relations militias would be well advised to look at groups that have successfully integrated into communities. The Boy Scouts of America and various fraternal organizations like the Kowanas, Lions, Eagles, etc all come to mind. These groups have a few characteristics worth discussing.

A) They come from the community. Bob from the hardware store, Jim from the repair shop, Suzie from the local greasy spoon, Tom the propane delivery guy, etc. It is easy to marginalize those wacko's with the compound out in the woods. However convincing folks that Jim who fixes their cars and Tom who makes sure to get propane to folks who need it when the weather is terrible are evil psychos is a lot harder.

B) They are organized and can mass efforts for good causes. Think of the impression you would make on the community if every time a significant event happened the local militia showed up to help. The old ladies who run the community garden would love if 20 volunteers showed up to get things started. The folks at the gun range would love if some folks helped rebuild the sheds and beefed up the facilities. The search and rescue would love 10 teams of 2 with their own 4 wheel drive vehicles and radios that know the local back roads and trails.

C) They fund raise for good causes. Passing the hat is an easy answer. If everybody who can afford it tosses a few bucks in it adds up. Even if your folks don't have much money to donate to causes they can still help. Have a pancake breakfast to benefit a family whose house burned down. Do a raffle for a kid with cancer whose family doesn't have medical insurance. Do an auction to fund the youth shooting group. You get the idea.

The big point of B and C is to be an asset to the community. If your group act decently and help the community folks will start to like, or at least tolerate, the presence. This will of course lead to an increase in your networking, fund raising and recruiting.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Intelligence Analysis Tools- Patterns and Links

There is so much that goes into intelligence that it is not going to be covered in a single post. Today I want to talk about managing intelligence (information really) and making sense of it.

Obviously any good organization is working hard to find out information about their surrounding area, people and of course enemies. Snipers are doing over watch and pattern of life analysis on high payoff targets as well as whomever happens to be around. Patrols are  tracking enemy movement/ operations and actively engaging key leaders (both hard and soft power*) as well as the populace at large. Aside from the standard listening shop keepers are noting when soldiers come in to buy 2 cartons of smokes instead of a pack or two and weeks worth of snacks instead of something to tide them over till dinner chow. Retirees and other folks with a decent reason to be hanging around near key choke points are counting numbers and types of vehicles that cross their path. All sorts of folks are sitting in coffee shops, restaurants and bars listening to the chatter. A few pretty girls, potentially willing to 'take one for the team' (sorry I couldn't resist) are spending time with the rank and file and well as key leaders when the opportunity arises. Tech geeks are listening to radio frequencies. They probably can't pick up the encrypted stuff but the walkie talkies used for admin stuff on base might be interesting to listen to. Some computer folks will probably be doing their thing also. The point is that any organization with a few members and a semi decent axillary plus a few basic resources will quickly get overwhelmed with information.

As we have seen in the last few years in intelligence the issue isn't so much the gathering of information but rapidly analyzing it, figuring out it's meaning and passing that info through command channels to the shooters. What we will discuss today is a framework for this analysis. A series of products that can be created to make sense of all the chatter by slicing it up in terms of time, individuals involved, events and space. It is important to note that these products are largely looking at the same information just from different angles.

First we will look at time. The two products we will talk about are the threat wheel and the event timeline.

Threat Wheel- I could not find a good picture of this. Imagine a bicycle wheel. The spokes are the hours of the day so obviously there are 24 of them. Next we are going to make concentric circles from the inner hub all the way out to the rim. These are days. The amount can vary by what you are doing but a month isn't a bad place to start. Every action goes onto the threat wheel. You place index the appropriate time to the day and mark what it is. A could be ambush, B could be bombing, c for snap checkpoint, whatever works.

The point of this tool is to see fairly short term patterns. Example Cool Guy in black helicopters conduct raids between 1 and 3 in the morning while conventional guys hit at more like 6 in the morning. Checkpoints get set up about 7 in the morning and run till 1 or 2 in the afternoon. You get the idea. It is important to realize that your insurgent forces actions can affect the threat wheel. If you run operations in the morning then they will look for you in the morning, raids will be conducted in hours of darkness when they suspect your force will be resting, etc.

It also might not be a bad idea to keep a threat wheel (maybe call it a friendly forces activity wheel or something) of all of YOUR actions. The reason is to avoid setting patterns that can be targeted. The other guy will be looking for those patterns to set up an ambush or drop some bombs so you better not set any obvious ones.

Event Timeline- This is just that a timeline. It is better for longer term stuff. Showing how two sides got to fighting or whatever. These are good for seeing big picture patterns. These typically focus on months and years while the threat wheel is more about days and weeks.

Example: A fellow I know was an intelligence officer who worked in South America in the 80's. He ended up advising a friendly Banana Republic in their fight against an insurgent communist group. When they looked at it this group had a pretty set pattern for moving into an area. They would send a few guys in to look around and ask questions. What were the local grievances, who were the power players, that type of stuff, next they would damage the roads, bridges and train tracks (isolating the objective) which inconveniences the people and made them dislike the police and army who could not stop this. After that they would conduct a few attacks hurting a few people and destroying most of the police vehicles to stop the lazy police from patrolling and they would move into the jungles outside the city in force. Some folks would then come in and talk about how the regime was corrupt and incapable of providing basic services. By the time they got to actually going into town the police were incapable of maneuvering, it was difficult for regime reinforcements to get there and the people were largely on their side. Information like this allowed the regime to much more effectively mass their forces (instead of guarding everything) and defeat the insurgents. Remember that patters will be exploited by people who find them. End example.

Next we are going to look at people.

Association Matrix- This is a pretty simple document. It is a triangle with a bunch of names going down the angled side.

The point is simply to show which players know each other. Here is an example.Typically one symbol will be used for suspected association, another for confirmed association and a third when one of the parties is dead.

Activity Template- This is a simple square divided by lines. On the left side we have the names of all our players from the association matrix and on the bottom we have a whole bunch of activities. Some will be key events like Regime puppet forces assassinating a local power broker and others will be broad like 'intimidation' or 'information operations'.
The same known, suspected, KIA code (the examples from the FM don't have it but it's smart to include so you don't get all whipped up about finding a connection to then realize one of them is dead) will be used here. The point is to link our players with activities. This can also feed back into our association matrix. If Bob and Jim are both confirmed to have participated in the death squad that offed a town council member they know each other. Be sure to adjust the association matrix accordingly.

Next we put this stuff together.

A product omitted from the manual but useful none the less is an Intel Analysis map overlay. Taking the people and activities and plotting them onto a map. Think of it like a threat wheel slapped onto the map. You can also incorporate a variety of other useful info like ethnicity, religion, income as needed, whether an area is pro regime, neutral, contested or pro insurgent and whatever other info you deem pertinent. I do not think this is necessarily essential but it depends on how many visual learners are in your target audience.

Link Diagram- The link diagram shows activities, players involved and the connections between them. An event will be a square, people are circles, confirmed connections are solid lines and suspected ones are dashed lines. You can use another key system but this one works fine and is easy.

The link diagram is really what all of the work we have done is building up to. It should (if you have a decent amount of info) graphically depict who is doing what and the connections between them. Also this is where this whole process really starts giving back to you.

This process is pretty helpful for managing a lot of information during a complicated situation. If you haven't figured it out yet Insurgencies are complicated situations. The Regime has conventional forces, paramilitaries, auxiliaries, folks actively and passively supporting it. Local power brokers are out doing their thing and supporting one side or both, sometimes switching back and forth as conditions change.  A variety of thugs and criminal organizations exploit the vacuum to ply their trades. The insurgent groups have a slew of loosely organized, sometimes even competing, groups, auxiliaries and supporters.

I said before that this analysis is a way to manage information. That is the most basic function for sure but it also brings up questions when you see the picture more clearly. Seeing everything put together will make connections or holes in your information become much more apparent than if they are stuck in a huge stack of reports. This will lead to new PIR (Priority Intelligence Requirements) to answer the questions that come up. Is a person who seems to be involved with every cell but not directly in any operations a courtier, some sort of specialist (explosives, commo, medical, etc) or a leader? Is the Mayor a Boss Hog style crook, a Grey Man, playing both sides or a full out regime stooge? Are the local chapter of the Masons running a pro regime death squad?

The relationship between intelligence collection and operational command is a complicated one. Way more than can be addressed in a paragraph. Simply put the Commander will give guidance on operational plans which will be supported by intelligence collection. Intelligence collection will then lead to focusing or adjusting the operational plans to suit the situation. I guess you could say that operations drive intelligence and intelligence focuses operations. Done right it is a positive feedback loop of butt kicking.

*Hard power would be established positions of authority, not necessarily of arms, such as tribal leaders, mayors, police chiefs and whatnot. Soft power folks can be just as influential but do not have a formal title parse. Think village elder, influential businessman, religious leaders and such. Their power is just as real but varies more depending on the individuals involved. If you have ever seen a Mayor make a 180 degree policy turn overnight after the town doctor and Preacher spoke against it you have seen soft power.

For further info refer to , and FM 3-07.22 particularly Appendix F where the example images came from.

I hope this is interesting to a few of you. Anyway happy day after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thoughts On Insurgencies #8: Fundamentals of a Successful Insurgencies 101

It became apparent to me after a discussion with an invisible that I needed to take a step back in this series. Sometimes I am guilty of forgetting that most folks here have not spent a good portion of their live training for or being personally involved in an insurgency. We should discuss the fundamentals of a successful insurgency.

I am not saying that every insurgency must have each of these elements or it will not be successful. There are a certainly examples out there which do not fit every criteria but most tend to fit them if loosely. In no particular order.

Obviously some group or subset of a state needs to be unhappy with the current governmental system. Not just kinda unhappy but enough so to fight a war they may well die in. Taking a step back it isn't so much that there need to be people willing to take up arms but conditions that lead to people being willing to take up arms.

Some of these people will be active fighters. For every active fighter there are a few supporters or axillary types helping make things work.  These folks are involved to varying degrees. Some are full time intel, logistics or C2 types filling your conventional staff functions. Others may be a farmer who gives an old cow to feed some fighters or a Grandma with a big house who loves to feed and look after a bunch of teenage and early 20 something boys. For every person who actively aids insurgents they need a bunch of people who just keep quiet. The neighbor who sees something and goes about his business or the apathetic local cop who doesn't search for insurgents very hard.

For an insurgency to build from an initial nucleus to a group that has a real chance the government has to have problems. Maybe it is a backwards corrupt nepotistic regime, maybe it is an aging dysfunctional empire, maybe the economy is toast or the government is distracted by war. The reason for this is that functional governments can eventually use the stick and or carrot to decrease the total amount of people willing to take up arms. Eventually this makes insurgencies peter out until an 'acceptable level of violence' which varies from place to place. There are bombings and high amounts of murders in a lot of places but that is just normal.

Some sort of a safe haven is very helpful for insurgents. This safe haven is very important for insurgents to train, rest and plan and conduct a variety of logistical efforts. These safe havens can be due to political boundaries the insurgents can cross that the opposing force is unable to cross at least in a widespread regular way. Vietnam as well as the Pakistan/ Afghanistan border are good examples of this. Other times a safe haven can be due to an area's isolation in terms of rough geography, lack of improved all weather roads and low population densities. Areas outside aside from the AF/PAK border in Afghanistan fall into this category. The longtime Philippine insurgency  and the FARK in the jungles of Columbia are also examples.

Without this safe haven motivated governments can eventually wear down an insurgent group or at least prevent them from regrouping, recovering and training. This means they are not healing up injured fighters or training new ones which makes it hard to build numbers and win. Some sort of a (relative) safe haven is just about impossible for insurgents to do without.

Outside assistance is very important. It is cool to think about a bunch of guys running to the hinter boonies with rifles and fighting the big mean government but it is just not that simple. To keep things going insurgents need money, weapons, ammunition, food, medicine and often outside training. Admittedly money can handle most of those problems if the insurgents can get enough of it. For a long time during the good old Cold War a group could pretty much bet on assistance from whichever side didn't have a relationship with the regime they are trying to topple. Since the Cold War has ended it has become a lot more dicey but wide open. Islamic groups can get solid funding from various Gulf State groups. Other folks may have relationships that work for various reasons.

Those are the big ones that come to mind based on my formal and informal education on the topic as well as real world experiences. As always input is welcome but please try to keep it on topic. I hope that some of you get something out of this post.

Have a nice day,

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.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Movie Review: Red Dawn 2012

Even though it came out when I was a toddler when it came out the original Red Dawn was a big part of my formative years as a teen and early 20 something gun toting redneck soon to be survivalist. I cannot count nights revolved around a case of beer, some booze and watching Red Dawn with my buddies. Watching it, talking about what we would do and even making a few preparations because of it. So naturally I had to see the new Red Dawn.

The Remake of Red Dawn has faced some adversity. It was sucked into a black hole due to financial issues at MGM. After filming the invading nation was changed from China to North Korea. It isn't too hard to mentally insert China every time they say North Korea anyway. So it finally came out and I went to see it.

I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum but if you are dead set about seeing this movie without any sort of a notion of what happens then it would be smart to read this after you see the movie, not before. 

Red Dawn 2012 has naturally been brought into the modern era. The loose scenario that starts things out is based around current situations and some plausible continuations of them. Kind of the same start as the original with today's threats really. The location was changed to Spokane, Washington which is (for the inland American West) a pretty big city instead of the small town of Calumet, Colorado. I always thought in the original it was Montana but cannot recall why. Another notable difference is that the older brother is a Marine with combat experience.  More on this later.

There were a variety of other fairly small changes. Broadly speaking the 2012 version was true to the original. It was not a carbon copy but the broad strokes were similar with enough changes to make it contemporary and interesting. Also there was a scene (may have been more that I missed) where they poked a bit of well intended fun at the original. Well played.

To the usual format.

The Good: Making the older brother a Marine with combat experience made the whole plot a lot more realistic. The odds of one person with real experience being able to field a team of fighters that could do some damage and stay alive is much higher than a whole crew of amateurs doing the same. A departure from the original for sure but not a bad one. There are a whole lot of veterans of viable fighting age around these days so it is pretty realistic anyway.

Naturally coming along with a person with combat experience the group conducted some training before beginning to go all Wolverines on those evil Chinese North Koreans. There was even a pretty cool montage about it. Some basic training combined with somewhat competent leadership makes the groups success seem more plausible than it might have in the original.

 Also the way the group operated, was supplied and sheltered was more plausible than in the original. It meshed with a variety of historical patterns of various guerrilla groups. Not that the original was weak here as it didn't really focus on tactics anyway it is just that this one was just a bit stronger here.

The characters seemed a bit more 3 dimensional in the 2012 version. There were some sidelines of various human interactions that made the characters seem a lot more human.

The Bad: Without getting into details I think the Wolverines ability to freely enter and exit Spokane was a bit convenient. The totalitarian folks in China North Korea know a few things about population and resource control. They would probably issue some sort of passport or ID card very quickly and use them to restrict (and if the system is electronic track) freedom of movement.

The Ugly: To keep up with today's hyper action movies the level of up close and personal violence as well as close calls was pretty high. At one point a Chinese Korean soldier was blazing away with a frickin Ma Deuce AKA .50 caliber machine gun from CQB range at one of the Wolverines but somehow did not kill him. I wouldn't say these few incidents detracted from the overall movie but they certainly annoyed me.

Overall Assessment: I liked this movie and think you will also. If you are into slightly cheesy patriotic action movies you will enjoy Red Dawn 2012.

I have some general thoughts but will probably let them mull for a day or so. Folks who made it out to the movies for Red Dawn please let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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