Showing posts with label partisan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label partisan. Show all posts

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.

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.




Sunday, June 3, 2012

Azimuth Check

I have stolen this title from Lizard Farmer who runs an excellent newish blog that focuses on retreat/ farm/ ranch defense. His post was more a check on how folks thought his blog was doing. I will head in a different direction. My azimuth check is more about the direction from where my/ your overall situation was to where we want it to be. I will break it into a few categories.

Finances:
How is your debt situation? Do you have any debt with an adjustable or otherwise particularly high interest rate?

Do you have some savings for if something happens?

Do you have some money accessible to buy things if there is an event that interupts normal banking (this means cash on hand)?

If you can afford it have you considered putting some money into precious metals? There isn't a right or wrong answer to this one. Folks differ widely on this topic.

Health:
Are you and your family of a reasonably healthy body weight? If not are you making tangible progress towards getting there?

Do you have any health/ medical/ dental issues that could be improved but have not been? Maybe you need an elective surgery or have been putting off dental work or need to get into physical therapy to get something worked out. Bringing us back to the last question it is utterly amazing how many medical issues decrease or go away if you get to a reasonably healthy body weight.

If applicable do you keep a stash of essential perscription meds on hand? Keeping 30 days on hand is ok, 90 days is pretty decent and will cover a lot of issues but of course more is better. It may mean paying out of pocket but consider the alternative which is, to varying degrees, very ugly.

If applicable do you have at least a pair of spare glasses in your current perscription (two or three would be better)?


How are your chompers doing?

How are you doing at physical fitness? Can you walk long distances with a load? Run fast for short periods and slower for longer ones? Control your body weight through a variety of tasks and obstacles? Lift heavy things or carry another person?

Skills and Training:

Can you make a fire? At night? Can you do it when it has been raining for a week strait?

Can you find your way around with a compass and a map?

Can you make or improvise some sort of shelter to be as comfortable as possible in a variety of situations?

Can you turn basic staples like flour, rice or wheat into a decent or even tasty meal?

Can you grow or raise your own food?

Can you find or gather food from fishing, hunting, plant gathering or something else really cool I have never heard of?

Can you fix stuff? Mechanical things? Small arms? Brick and mortar? Wood? Plumbing? Electrical?

Can you engage targets with personal weapons in realistic circumstances?

Can you organize a defense be it at home or in some sort of hasty situation?

If the Chinese invade or whateveer can you plan and execute small unit Red Dawn/ partisan/ G style offensive operations?

Stockpile and Equipment:

How is your food storage doing?

Do you have personal weapons as well as the stuff needed to use them? Do you have some spare parts, cleaning stuff and ammunition to keep your guns running without a trip to Wally World or the local gun shop?

How are you doing at storing all of the other stuff like medical supplies, batteries, fuel, cleaning and hygiene stuff, spare parts, etc all to keep on keeping on as well as you can without outside assistance?

Is the stuff you have put together into kits or packages or systems that will meet your needs on short notice?

I am sure there are some good questions that I missed. This covers a ton of ground so do not be ashamed if there are some areas where you fall short. My goal is to give you some areas to think about and see where you are at. Every one of these questions is not equally applicable to all situations. Like many things you would be well advised look at these questions with brutal honesty, action what is applicable and disregard what is not.

Hope you all had a great weekend!










Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thoughts on Insurgencies- What Made the Mujahedeen Successful

Thoughts on Insurgencies- What Made The Mujahedeen Successful?
I am going to try to discuss some of the reasons the Mujahedeen were so successful in Afghanistan against the Soviet’s. Some might draw parallels to the US experience here and I would say they have a case in some areas, though not in others. In no particular order here we go.
•    Rural Afghan’s are, particularly in the South and East of the country, strongly tribal in nature and very militaristic. When not fighting outsiders the tribes seem to, almost without exception, fight each other. It is about the closest thing to a cultural pastime as this country has.
•    They started out reasonably trained in small unit and individual tactics. Why, well I think consistent tribal warfare is the answer. This was probably the most helpful in the beginning because if you take anybody and toss them into a guerilla war after a year, should they be alive, they have some skills and knowledge.
•    They fought to their strengths and as such avoided their enemy’s strengths. Knowledge of local terrain coupled with hitting weak targets and vanishing worked pretty well. It helps when you can use the same hill Grandpa used to fight the British coming along the same road. This leads back to my last comment about training and knowledge.
•    Physical fitness. Between their rough lifestyle, reliance on foot transportation, moderate calorie intake and lack of medical care (that meant the sick and crippled were either useless in the village or dead) Afghan’s of military age were physically fit. They could haul butt up the side of a mountain carrying a medium machine gun after an ambush and leave the soviet’s panting at the bottom.

 [In my opinion physical fitness is the most lacking trait of American militia/ guerilla wanna be’s (I don’t mean “wanna be” in a derogatory way, just that since we don’t have a guerilla war going on it is kind of just a self imposed label instead of a title). Seriously if these guys spent half as much time exercising as they do arguing about what pouches to have on load out gear or which rifle to use in internet forum’s they would be much better off. I get particular amusement when somebody who is a disgusting fat body and probably hasn’t ran a whole mine this year talks about being a “light fighter” and using “hit and run tactics”. Many of these individuals are good, well meaning people and I probably poke too much fun. I hope that if any of them read this instead of taking it personal they look inward. If this side rant is hitting too close to home I recommend that you get onto a reasonable but ambitious physical fitness program and exercise some self control at meal time to get into fighting shape. ]

•    A proliferation of small arms, particularly rifles. Every military aged male did not have a rifle but a heck of a lot of them did. Eventually they started capturing weapons and getting them shipped in by foreign backers but for awhile it was just rural Afghan’s and their rifles.
•    A cohesive and resolute group vision. Rural Afghan life is very traditional and tribal, especially in the Pastun areas to the South and East, and its values stood in stark contrast to what the Afghan communists and their Soviet backers sought to impose. They were, and the Soviets never quite got this, absolutely unwilling to compromise and would rather just fight.
•    There are probably more but a couple of these are already more generic of all guerillas than is my intent. Now let us not forget the two factors which had a massive impact on events and were largely outside of the Muj’s control.
•    Safe haven’s. In particular the ability to seek medical treatment, shelter their families, train, plan and recover in Pakistan had a direct and immeasurable effect on the war. The Soviet’s launched a few rockets and probably a few raids but in the big picture the Muj were safe to recover and plan in Pakistan and parts of Iran.
•    Outside Aid. Despite some fantasy ideas to the contrary it is difficult to keep a force fielded without feeding and equipping them. While guerilla logistics are pretty simple and light they still need weapons, bullets to shoot, explosives and food to eat. Being able to keep at least part (this improved as the war progressed) of their force through the whole fighting season was essential to building up cohesive organizations and conducting significant operations. Even if you want them really bad guns, food and bullets don’t just appear. Also as these wars go on for years stocking enough of anything except maybe shoe laces to get you through one is wishful thinking.
•    A long term vision. In a sound bite and paragraph quote world they thought in terms of seasons and years. The Muj were never going to win in a sense where they militarily forced the Russians out. They could however continually make it uncomfortable for the Russians to be here (I am in Afghanistan as I write this, oh irony) until their government decided it was time to throw in the towel.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow Shoes and Cross Country Ski's

Bro Brandon B inspired today's post with his comment yesterday. I can honestly say I do not know a whole lot about field expedient methods for making snow shoes. I read about it in a miltiary survival manual once. Basically you take a pine branch and then bend in back around on itself (thinning the part that bends or heating it up a bit helps) tying it together and then tying the thing to your foot is the jist of it. I don't think they work very well though they are better than post holing/ wading through the snow.

[A bit of background. I grew up doing a lot of cross country skiing and have done enough snow shoeing to know my way around it.]

Basically the whole point of ski's and snow shoes is to spread out your weight and keep you on top of the snow instead of sinking into it. They both help you move, relatively unimpeeded through snow when it is otherwise difficult or impossible to do so on foot. They are traditionally used in places that have significant amounts of snow throughout the winter. These traditions are especially strong in Northern Europe. I will discuss the characteristics of both then briefly discuss their pro's and con's.

Snow shoes are basically just a big thing that attaches to your foot to spread your weight out over a larger area. The old ones look like a big tennis racket and the more modern ones are made out of metal and or plastic. They vary in size based upon technology and the conditions and weight they are designed to handle. When you look at boyancy snow shoes are sort of like life jackets, they need to be purchased for an individual and their intended use. A set that works for a 90 pound kid will not work for a 200 pound man with a 50 pound pack.

The biggest advantage of snow shoes is that they are relatively easy to use. You need to walk a bit wide (think of the steriotypical bow legged cowboy from the old movies) and be very careful not to get the snowshoes crossed over eachother but fundamentally you are just walking. Most people can get comfortable on snow shoes by taking a short walk in them. Also snow shoes do well in varried/ uneven terrain (particularly in the woods where the holes around the bottom of trees, the snow doesn't accumulate under a pine tree so there is a big hole, can make skiing impossible, and lack of space for relatively long ski's is a real issue) and really deep powder. The disadvantage of snow shoes is that they are a lot slower to use than cross country ski's.

Cross country ski's are how people who live in really snowy places get around. Since you can glide on top of the snow (like water skiing or skating) you can move much faster and burn less energy than on snow shoes. Also on ski's you can go down a hill in two or three minutes that will take a half hour on snow shoes. I find that it is a lot easier to get into a rhythm and really cover ground on ski's than snow shows. However ski's do have some downsides also. First they are, while not too difficult to learn to use, certainly more difficult than snow shoes. In particular the less than ideal slopes (not a nice even cleared downhill style ski slope) inherant of cross country conditions and flexible bindings make it difficult to safely move downhill without a decent amount of skill. If I was keeping a spare set of something around to equip a random friend that came to my beautiful mountain cabin (I wish!) it would be snowshoes. Also some situations are better for snow shoes. Deep powder and moving through the woods are areas where show shoes beat out ski's.

Being able to move over snow under human power is a skill that has become a lower priority in a world of snow mobiles, snow plows and vehicles of all types. However if there wasn't fuel and the snow plows stopped moving it would, for folks in heavy snow areas, be the difference between utter isolation and being able to travel freely. Also cross country skiing and snoe shoeing are great cardiovascular exercise.

Some of my readers might be interested in how these winter travel skills have been employed by guerilla and partisan forces in the past. Some folks, if memory serves me correctly the Norwegians and the Finn's in particular capitalized on the mobility of their skiing skills to mount daring actions against much stronger but less agile and mobile enemies during WWII. In heavy snow areas a person who is a natural on ski's and a decent shot with a rifle could raise hell with a bunch of soldiers on foot.

If you live in an area with heavy snowfall then I urge you to learn to ski and snow shoe this winter.
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