It’s Not Enough

gila monster


You’ve watched a thousand YouTube videos.  You’ve carefully researched and bought good quality gear that will hold up. You spent good money on a rifle, optic, mags, and all the other associated errata. You’ve got maps of your AO waterproofed and ready to go. You even spent money and bought a good quality handheld radio and headset. Level IV plates, quality PC and a helmet? Check. You’ve been to a tactical first aid class, a radio theory class, and some other classes that cost you a couple of bucks. You even tribe up at least once a month and either shoot or practice what you’ve been trained on. You’re I your comfort zone feeling pretty good about how ready you are for when things get dicey.

Guess what? You’re probably sucking hind tit completely unaware of how ill prepared you actually are.  I see it all the time. Guys show up in their comfort zones and get their asses handed to them, and that shakes them.

It’s not enough to just go learn, you have to put the real effort into reinforcing and expanding your training to develop honest genuine, repeatable knowledge, skills and abilities that you can exercise under stress. And to do that takes two things presuming you’ve been given the requisite training; Time and Effort.

I’ll give an example: A few months back I taught a basic static marksmanship class, nothing fancy, just the basics starting with sloth slow dry fire practice until everyone was smooth enough to go live, then back to sloth speed and working up. By the end of the class guys were breaking cover, engaging, reengaging, and returning to cover against a 100 yard silhouette with an appreciable amount of skill while being mindful of their exposure time. Less than 45 days later e all gathered together and it was apparent who hadn’t touched their rifle outside of cleaning (don’t show up with a dirty rifle). The guys that had practiced the skills they had been shown with at least a few weekly sessions of dry fire practice were still fairly proficient, the rest, well, they had the knowledge in their heads but it hadn’t been committed or refined to the lizard brain. And as a result they were freaking sloppy as shit. Bottom line: Once a month isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good without reinforcement. You wouldn’t want a guy that trained on brain surgery and performed his last surgery a couple of years ago to cut on your head, would ya? Why would you be willing to rely on something you’ve been exposed to for one day and never routinely practiced to save your ass?

Another thing is it’s not just about practicing and committing those skills to muscle memory. What are you doing on your own to expand your knowledge base? I think it was JC Dodge who stated “Knowledge weighs nothing in a rucksack” and that’s an absolute truth. Example: You might be the greatest tourniquet applier on the earth, hell you recognize an arterial bleed and can slap a SOF-T on that puppy in under ten seconds. But how about expanding that knowledge by studying some human anatomy? There’s online college level human anatomy classes that are free. A working knowledge of the circulatory and skeletal systems might be worth their weight in gold when you start having to deal with a GSW involving bone. There are low and no cost resources out there that just require some looking. Don’t be satisfied that you master the skills in one subject area – expand your knowledge base of the subject.

Is it a matter of time? Sacrifice that 30 minutes a day to something. PT, dry fire, studying antenna theory, etc. 30 minutes a day is a piss in the bucket compared to how much time the average person fucks off daily.  Is it a matter of making the effort? If you lack the self-discipline to get offa that couch, phone, or whatever then amigo, you are probably fucked.  You think you’re physically unable? That’s a defeatist attitude and ya need to check that shit at the door. I’ve got guys with artificial legs that show up and run drills. Are they as fast as everyone else? Some are, some aren’t. But they make the freaking effort. Lose the weight, give up the bad habits, and if you need a buddy to put a boot in your ass then find one, likewise with a reason.

Mosby, Dodge, Max, Culper, NC Scout, and the rest all offer quality training. And they can teach you a LOT. But when you pack your ruck and leave the training site if you do nothing to reinforce and expand that knowledge you’re not doing enough.

30 minutes a day. Not a whole lot to ask when your ass is on the line.

Carry on the conversation @ freezoxee

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How They Hunt


I’ve cobbling this entry together between uptime and downtime over the last couple of weeks so bear with me on this one. I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of how counter-insurgency intelligence and exploitation systems work so I’m going to touch on them a bit in this entry.  It’s by no means comprehensive as that would take an entire volume to document.  So what I’m going to attempt to do here is give the reader some insight into how an insurgency is identified, exploited, and targeted using a fairly simple and brief scenario.

Make no mistake that over the last decade plus the DoD, DoJ, DHS, NSA, and CIA have definitely learned their lessons.  From shortly after 9/11 when the new lessons of counter-insurgency still lay ahead to the recent (last few years) capture and killing of Al Qaeda’s top officers the concepts and techniques of counter insurgency targeting have been vastly refined. Lessons learned not only on the battlefield but in the ops center have developed intelligence exploitation systems that are genuinely lethal due to their ability to be comprehensive and timely.  Instead of sitting here typing out how these systems work I’m going to throw out a bit of a scenario for you.  Not every system is represented but hopefully I’ll depict enough of them to give you an appreciation of just how dangerous they can be.

In this scenario we’re going to assume to perspective of the lead intelligence officer in a built up area with a fairly large population.  Austin TX sounds good at this point.  Anyway the country has de-stabilized to the point that National Guard units have deployed but martial law hasn’t been declared yet.  Over the last few weeks we’ve been faced with a frequent insurgent attacks against logistics columns traveling up and down I-35 in areas around Georgetown and Salado.  Additionally this (or other groups) have attacked the infrastructure junctions and  in that area as well.

We just happened to get lucky (from our perspective anyway) and kill one of the insurgents and have possession of his body.  He had no identification, the serial number on his rifle had been removed, and he had even gone to the trouble to remove his own fingerprints (talk about dedication).  Those are some significant hurdles to overcome figuring out who this guy is right?  Yeah, but not something we can’t work around.  A quick phone call to the field gets us a good high resolution frontal image of the DIs (dead insurgent’s) face.  The case officer uploads that image into a work file and sends it off to multiple agencies, say the DoJ (FBI specifically), DHS, and the State Fusion Center (there are more but let’s keep it simple).   The Fusion center comes back a few hours later and identifies the individual as Bob Jones of Llano TX. How did they do that? By loading the pic of the DI into a biometric facial recognition program and running a comparison to Texas’s drivers license photo database. If they hadn’t gotten a hit it could have been compared to other states databases as well.  It would have taken more time  but eventually would have given us the identity.   Now we have a starting point.

First thing we do is get a quickie warrant and pull all of Bob’s home and cell phone records for the last 90 days.  Then we’ll identify every call he made or received in a certain radius say 200 miles.  These calls automatically get categorized into business numbers and residential numbers. All calls will be looked at however we’re going to jump into the residential numbers first.  In that pool we’ll separate the numbers into known and assumed family (by last name, tax returns, public records databases, etc.) and unknown reason contacts.  In the last 90 days there have been roughly 300 calls to personal numbers which belong to a pool of 125 individuals. These 125 are now our short list for the time being.

Now we have an identification and an address it’s time to generate physical warrants.  So the local boys go and raid Bobs home and take any and everything electronic, anything that remotely looks like correspondence, and any credit/debit cards or checkbooks. They even go so far as to search vehicles.  But here’s an oddity: Bob’s truck isn’t at his house.  And we know his make, model, and plate number by querying the state registration database and we put out a watch for the vehicle. Note at this point we’re not trying to build a case against Bob – hell he’s dead.  We’re looking for cross referencing information to identify other remembers of his group.  Once those items are collected they are handed over to a team of forensic technicians which begin to dissect the information and cross check other databases.  Within 24 hours we have a comprehensive list of who he sent and received emails from, the IPs and cookies of the websites he’s visited,  any purchases he’s made online and quite a few of the offline ones as well.  Remember this isn’t all encompassing but intended to give you an idea of how it works.

All of this information gets laid out into what we’ll call a virtual “starfish” with each bit of info representing a point.  We’ve got systems running the phone records down to individual names associated with those accounts referenced by physical location and date, systems referencing any known purchases referenced by location and date, and any and everything else we can dump into the system to expand the starfish.  Once this part is done it’s time to start looking at known associations.  We do this by take the folks we’ve already identified and trying to determine  their association with good old Bob.  For the sake of simplicity we’ll start on phone records – those 125 individuals.  Those individuals names now generate their own starfish.   As the multitude of systems begin to return information on each individual those starfish grow as well.  at 36 hours to keep things simple we’ll reject all information on those other starfish if they do not correspond to any of the kegs on the starfish that represents Bob.  That narrows down things considerably.  Now it’s time for some human review (most of the action up to this point has been fairly automated.  So we get a couple of analysts to start scrutinizing the associated information points between Bob and the other 125 folks we’re looking at. Some of the info can be dismissed fairly easily however other pieces have to be physically researched and even though it’s done via network it still takes some time.  A couple of days later the analysts come back with a narrowed list of 16 people that could still be considered suspect however Bob had no contact with those people within 14-21 days of the attack in which he was killed.  How did they arrive at the 16 people? Remember when the forensic team tore apart Bobs computer? They took his known data (his IP)  and ran it across the stored multiple metadata databases to identify which websites he had been visiting.  Of those websites a dozen were considered radical or fringe (at least under TPTBs definition of such).  they then ran a cross check against those 125 folks from the phone records and 16 other people on our list had visited some of those websites.

What we have so far isn’t sufficient enough to start kicking doors in and shooting dogs so we’ve got to dig deeper.  And for that we turn to financial transactions.  Breaking them down into periods working outwards from the attack we find that Bob bought gas in Florence TX the evening before the attack.  So now the Florence local boys get a call to specifically look for his vehicles.  While that is going on we’re going to start looking at the transactions of those 16 other folks and compare them to Bobs.  One thing that is puzzling is the fact that Bob didn’t have any phone or email contact with our new 16 person  short list in the period immediately preceding the attack. Attacks are typically coordinated so there had to be some form of communication.  By scrutinizing Bob’s debit purchase records we find that he had bought a “disposable phone” at the local big box store one day before his last contact with any of the 16 individuals we’re looking at.  Getting the number to that phone isn’t hard at all with a quick warrant for the metadata for that carriers phones that were activated within a 36 hour period in Bob’s area.  But for timeliness we’re also going to scrutinize those other 16 individuals transactions for the same type of purchase – disposable phones and we come up with nada for them.

The carrier returns the information from the warrant we wanted and two numbers show up as having been activated in the big box store parking lot within that time frame. A quick cross check shows one of the numbers has no association  with any of our existing data however one has a call to his personal cell phone.  Bingo we now have his number.  And we can go back and get all of the metadata for that number including numbers called/received, location, time, and length of call.  The phone data itself is built into a starfish of its own and cross referenced against any known contacts Bob had.   The vast majority of it turns out to be other disposable phones which result in financial transaction dead ends (probably paid for by cash) but two do get a hit.  The first is a call to Bob’s younger brother. The second is a call made from a diner near Georgetown the night before the attack.  Bob’s younger brother now joins our short list simply due to association.  Another quickie warrant and we’re going to get his brothers phones and computers and any correspondence.  And we’re also going to start looking at the financial transaction and phone records of the other folks on the list to see if we can establish a point in time at that gas station or diner for any and all activity.  Bob’s brothers stuff goes off to the forensics team for dissection and we wait for the data for the day preceding the attack.  As that data comes in its correlated to Bob’s info and we come up with two positives.  Bob’s younger brother called his house from that location at the same time Bob was there and a large meal charge was purchased on a debit car belonging to one of the 16 folks on our short list.

Meanwhile Bob’s vehicle has been found outside of Georgetown in a wooded area and the forensics folks descend on it to photograph and catalog everything – tire tracks, fingerprints, footprints, you name it.  All of this info begins to get processed and correlated as it comes in to try and establish links to our known associations with bob.  We get a hit off of this.  A pair of shoeprints that match the size and model of a pair of another one of Bob’s known associates.  How do we know they own those?  Financial transaction records show they were bought a month prior to the attack with a debit card (hint – next time you buy a pair of shoes at Wally World look at your sales ticket – the model and size are listed).

Now we’ve got 2 hot suspects.  More warrants, more seizures, more forensics.  And now comes the time for interrogation.  Bob’s brother is brought in and leaned on – hard.  He’s good but the interrogators are better.  These aren’t your run of the mill local PD Detectives – there are professional psychologists  trained and experienced in mental and physical manipulation.  Here’s some insight for you: If you’ve never been interrogated every second of it serves a purpose.  The long waits are designed to build up anxiety. The sometimes cordial manner of the interrogators contrasted to the often brutal treatment from guards is designed to gain your confidence and make you feel more secure.

Anyway prior to interrogating Bob’s brother they build a profile of him and look for any and all means to break him – because that is precisely what interrogation is intended to do – make you talk.  We’re not talking waterboarding here.  Strong men can keep their mouths shut when being tortured.  No we have to get at his psyche.  So we gin up some false charge sheets and press releases naming him as a terrorist (which also happen to mention his wife and children’s names), let him know we know he’s associated with the guy that we got the shoeprints, from (everything we can present to make it look like we have a substantial volume of information), and we go a step further and have his kids picked up by human services and placed in foster care on the grounds of child endangerment – all to easily “substantiated” for the time being.  One thing we don’t do is touch Bob’s brother’s wife – she’s critical to all of this.  But we do freeze his accounts so he can’t afford a lawyer (or anything else for that matter like bail) .  We’ve got to make her suffer so we let this run for a week – basically putting her through a mental hell.  In the meantime we’re still working on Bob’s brother but after we’ve determined his wife is beginning to get desperate so we allow her to see him. The combination of all of this is what finally breaks Bob’s brother – hell the only person it wouldn’t get to is a true sociopath.  So a few days later after we’ve let him mentally wrestle with the prospects of his and his families hell we offer him a deal.  We’ll back off the family and return the kids, unfreeze the assets if he’ll talk and take a plea bargain of murder one with life instead of the death penalty. He initially refuses but after another visit by his wife a week or two later (and trust me we’re not letting things get better) he breaks.  We’ve now got other names, places, times, and so forth.

With that info it’s wash, rinse, repeat of the entire process with each individual until we run into complete dead ends and wait for the next break – like another corpse.  But within the span of a relatively short time we’re able to cripple the insurgency in the area for the immediate future.

Is this realistic?   Folks shit like this is happening NOW.  Biometric identification is real – you’re drivers license photo and thumbprint is in a database that routinely gets accessed at the state level and is available to the Feds (Fusion Center anyone). Facial recognition is how the Tsarnaev’s were initially ID’d.  Your communications meta-data is routinely being stored and accessed by the government. Your financial transactions records are stored by your banks and creditors.  All of this info is available through a rubber stamped fill in the blanks warrant.

So what happened?  Bob was sloppy.  Unreal fucking sloppy.  He thought he was taking safeguards by using things like disposable phones but in reality his laziness killed his cell.  If he had consistently used cash drawn out of ATMs in his normal routine for his purchases, if he had shown some phone discipline (seriously – that disposable phone ain’t for calling ma), and maybe if he had been a bit more discreet in his using technology the links might not have been established.  But one link is all it takes and then the system starts chewing people’s lives up.  And those links are how the powers that be identify and pursue their targets. Think your safe online?  Even the vaunted TOR has been compromised by the DoJ lately.

These tactics are how insurgencies are broken.  They’re what enabled the system to pin Bin Laden down, catch the Tsarnaevs, and identify drone strike targets in the middle east.  Networks are deadly to an insurgency.  Even operating in meatspace can be deadly without the right precautions.  All it takes is for one person to use that phone to call or that debit card to pay and they’ve been nailed in time and space.   Sure you may be using your regular phone (and not your disposable one) to call ma but you’re there and the records show it.  And if your battle buddy does something similar he’s fixed at that time and place as well – so now both of you are associated.  The key is discipline.  When you meet you go completely off the grid.  Completely.  No phone use, no debit card use, nada in and around the geographic area and  timeframe you meet.  Recon and identify how you could expose yourself.  Does a certain route have license plate readers?  Then don’t use it.  Convenience stores?  They all have cameras at the counter and pumps. Nearby ATM machine? Cameras and transaction records.  The golden rule at all times (and I mean all times)  is to ask yourself:

How will what I’m doing at this second expose myself and others to identification?

In Bob’s case they started with a corpse with no fingerprints.  Bob thought he was doing right by sterilizing himself prior to the attack but in reality he left gaping holes everywhere else. That one corpse is what allowed a local insurgency to be broken.  The same techniques are used in Afghanistan with significant success despite the lack of things like financial transaction records.  It’s used stateside on a daily basis.  And all it takes is one sloppy SOB to destroy everything.  Whether you’re a four man team, nine man squad, or distributed cells EVERYBODY has to have complete OPSEC uber alles hammered into them and practice it.  And the larger your organization the more likely someone is going to get sloppy.  Discipline and vigilance is the key not only to success but survival as well.  It pays to have rules on who does what, who contracts whom how, and where and when all of this takes place.  And those rules have to be understood and enforced.

Till next time stay frosty amigos.

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Putting Some Teeth in the Tribe: What Do We Need To Be Able To Do?

Fightin' Lizards

Alright – a new topic (here anyway)  and a lot to write about. Now we’re going to start digging into the process of actually building usable fighting skills and knowledge among your tribe members.  The next few entries are going to attempt to impart upon you some basic realities you’ll be dealing with along with some nice simple tips to use when establishing your security force.  To set the record straight right now I’m going to be referring to what I call a “Rural Defense Force” (RDF) throughout this series.  That is simply the defensive element of your tribe.  The folks that actually defend the area.

This entry is going to deal with defining operational capabilities and using a simple training methodology.  Operational capabilities are the tasks that you need/want to be able to execute.   I.e. do you want to establish roadblocks, conduct ambushes, raids, deliberate defenses, etc?   You need to sit down and conceptualize what tasks your RDF will have to accomplish.  This is how you focus your training as your efforts need to be geared towards supporting these capabilities.  For the .mil guys out there this is what we used to refer to as a developing a Mission Essential Task List (METL) along with associated drills but we’re going to go through this without the luxury of having higher echelon tasks and directives to work this out. Basically we’re going to build a list of tactical tasks that we identify are critical to the defense of our tribal area.  The difference here is normally a METL goes no lower than a Company but unless you’re really fortunate chances are you won’t have the kind of strength.  So I’m going to make another convention at this point – when I refer to METL what I am actually using are more akin to ARTEP battle drills for a Platoon and Squad sized element.  Training methodology is simply the way we’re going to train.

Before you begin this process it’s a pretty good idea to go through a throughout terrain and threat analysis.  As an example if the threat is known to not and will not likely have armored vehicles then establish an anti-armor ambush would be low on your task list.  If you need some help identifying tasks this is where the Army field manuals can come into play.  Take a look at ARTEP 7-8-Drill which lists tasks for the platoon and squad sized elements. The lists in that manual should help you identify the kind of tasks you want to be able to accomplish.  Are we going to use the info from that manual verbatim?  No we’re not. But for now use it to help identify tasks.

One thing about tasks.  Right off the bat you need to understand that there are individual tasks and “collective” tasks.  Individual tasks are the tasks that folks do as an individual – i.e.  applying a tourniquet is an individual task.  “Collective tasks” are tasks that are executed as a collective element be it a buddy team, fire team, squad, or platoon.  Individual tasks usually support collective tasks – i.e. an individual might acquire and engage targets with their rifle while conducting team fire and maneuver.  For now we’re going to focus on collective type tasks.


Dose of reality time: There are some tasks which will probably be worthless and some you won’t have the resources to accomplish.  An example of a worthless tasks for your purpose might be “Change formation (mounted)”.  That task is designed for forces that are mounted in vehicles and have the terrain to actually change their physical association during travel. Granted if you live in the desert it might be worthwhile but that’s just an example.  A task you might not have the resources to execute would be “Knock out bunkers”.  Now does that mean we ignore them?  Not necessarily.  The possibility to adapt and develop techniques to deal with those tasks using our existing capabilities might just be worthwhile.

So we’ve gone through our analysis, familiarized ourselves with tasks, and for Shits n’ Giggles we’ve come up with this list of critical tasks.  To keep it simple we’ll focus on one task for right now: Conducting an ambush.  Sounds simple right? Welp there are different categories of ambushes (hasty, deliberate) and different types (point, area, L shaped, etc.).  Don’t get lost in the weeds at this point instead focus on the general task itself and identify the collective and individual skills required to support this task.  The graphic below illustrates how those individual tasks support the collective tasks.


Sound training methodology dictates we need to be proficient in the individual tasks before we attempt collective tasks otherwise we’ll not only waste time having to teach individual tasks while trying to focus on the collective tasks but our execution of the collective tasks will be sloppy at best. That equates to a waste of training time and energy.

In the graphic notice I circled the “engage targets” individual task.  Sounds simple enough but think about what that task entails.  It could include such supporting skills like :

  • Load your rifle
  • Acquire targets
  • Apply elevation and windage to engage stationary and moving targets
  • Perform suppressive fire

These individual skills are once again supported by such tasks as maintaining your rifle, zeroing your rifle, etc. .

The key thing here I want to impart upon you is that we need to identify our collective task requirements and then work downward to identify the critical tasks and skills needed to execute those collective tasks. By focusing on the individual tasks prior to training the collective tasks we avoid unnecessary training frustrators and save time and effort.

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Defense: Obstacles Part XII: Starting to Set It All Up

OK, back to the grind.  I’ve managed to catch up on the work around here after my little overseas soiree  and it’s time to start finishing this puppy off.  Sometime either later this year or early next year the entire series on terrain is going to get published in an eBook so those that are valiantly printing and saving hold off because I’ve got some additional info and points I’m going to lump in with the existing info once I start editing it down.

In this entry we’re going to begin looking at actually placing obstacles to work for us.  A quick recap on what we’ve learned about obstacles thus far: Obstacles serve multiple purposes.  They are designed to delay and frustrate a threats movement, funnel or channel the threat to where we want him to go, deny critical terrain to the threat, and buy you time to react.  They will not stop a determined threat.  And the golden rule of obstacles above all else: anything designed to frustrate a threats movement towards you is likely to frustrate your egress from the area you’ve emplaced the obstacles in.

Alright – we’re going to split this up into two areas, micro and macro.  Micro for our purposes is going to be the land you directly control – your homestead.  The macro portion is the remainder of your tribal AO and the terrain surrounding it.  We’re going to tackle micro first because some of these measures you can take right now.  Others might be a bit more conspicuous and you may want to hold off on them.

First up let’s look at our homestead again.  Remember in previous entries we cleared some land, felled some trees, expanded our pond (noted by the blue area).  Here’s what we have to work with:

In a previous entry we also took a look at fields of fire. Now for the sake of argument for the remainder of this entry we’re going to assume that the folks that live on this homestead are going to defend from the house itself.  During latter entries I’ll cover some ways to actually harden the house and its surrounding structures but for now to keep it simple they’re using the house.  So what we have to do is actually determine our fields of fire from inside the house to the surrounding terrain.  To do that we’re going to use the obvious fields of observation we have – windows.  Now when you look out a window to determine a field of fire there’s a golden rule – get the hell back from it.  Why?  A person in a window is an obvious target.  By backing off a couple of feet you reduce your silhouette.  The trade off is you also reduce your field of observation and fire.  Think about it this way:  From a window you have a lot of terrain to observe.  Someone looking at the house itself is going to be looking at those windows – a much smaller field of target detection for the threat.  By backing off a couple of feet  (at least far enough back so your muzzle is still a foot away from the window) you reduce your profile.  Now once you’ve decided which windows you’re going to use and determined what you can see on your left and right you’ll want to plot that on a drawing or map.  What we’re actually doing here is building a sort of range card – a tool the military uses to identify the characteristics of a defensive position.  So we’ve drawn them out and come up with something like this (simplified for the sake of illustration):

The light red areas represent the terrain that we can observe and fire on.  We’re going to dig into this one just a bit deeper in the illustration (which looks like a Luchadore nightmare) below.

Notice that I’ve highlighted the areas that were dark red in the previous illustration in orange on this one.  This is common terrain that more than one window/position can fire on.  The term we’re going to use for that is Interlocking Fires (the old cowboy term for it was crossfire). Interlocking fields of observation and fire are high payoff (meaning they are more lethal for the threat) – simply due to the fact that more than one shooter can engage targets in that area thereby increasing the chance that a threat in that area will be successfully engaged.  Interlocking fields of fire are a critical aspect of defense and pretty darn important to how we position our obstacle sin the micro terrain sense.  Remember we want our obstacles to channel the threat into our fields of fire and by positioning them to force them into or delay them in our interlocking fields of fire we increase our lethality against the threat.  Notice the areas I have blacked out?  That is what’s called Deadspace.  Deadspace is an area in which you cannot observe nor fire effectively into.  When you look out those windows/firing positions you want to make sure you depict that deadspace because deadspace can be lethal – to you.  The threat can use deadspace to move closer to its objective with less chance of being observed and engaged so finding and dealing with that deadspace is critical.  More on it below.

Now we’ve established our fields of fire we’re going to look at what we have in the way of existing obstacles – which is probably fences.  In the illustration below I’ve overlaid the existing fences in relation to our fields of fire and deadspace.  We’re looking decent to the west and east with good coverage however notice we’re lacking in the north and south/southwest.

What we have to do is determine where and what kinds of obstacles we’re going to emplace in the immediate vicinity of our house to work to our advantage and offset our defensive weaknesses (which includes the aforementioned deadspace).  So let’s plug a few additional fences and wire obstacles into our layout and see how it looks.

In this illustration I’ve depicted our additional immediate obstacle  with blue lines.  To the west we have excellent coverage and good interlocking fields of fire and observation so the placement isn’t so critical however I’ve placed additional fencing in to frustrate the threats lateral (north to south) movement in that area.  Remember the longer a threat is in your field of fire dealing with an obstacle the longer you have to engage them.   To the north we’ve done basically the same thing.  To the west notice how the fencing has run all the way to the expanded pond?  With the way that area is laid out in relation to the pond it’s going to be what we consider a less-likely avenue of approach for a threat on foot during a direct assault.    In some of the other areas we’ve fenced our deadspace off to help prevent threat movement into and out of that deadspace .  The key here is Frustrate the threat’s movement, Delay him in your field of fire, and Deny him easy access to your deadspace.

And now we have to deal with our deadspace.  First off – is that amount of deadspace realistic?  To the north probably not so much.  Houses typically have quite a few windows facing the normal main avenue of approach (which in our case is the road).  You’ll encounter normal headspace  immediately around your field of observation/fire (think below or immediately beside a window) and beyond any structures.  Which brings us to the sore thumb in this illustration – that huge amount of deadspace to the southwest.  That deadspace is something that just can’t be ignored, it’s too close to our position – well within hand thrown ordinance.  How do we deal with it?  Well, you can evaluate it against the remainder of your micro terrain and against your macro terrain (maybe there’s another homestead between those building in the illustration and the threats’ main avenue of ingress) and make a decision whether to level it or leave it standing.  Leveling it and the other offending structures will probably cure your deadspace issue but that may just not be an option – especially if you’re trying to keep your homestead productive.  Another option could be to wire it completely off – once again that may be too great an impact on production.  Sow some nasty little surprises for a threat that tries to use that area?  Your decision but personally I wouldn’t want them that close to the homestead where one of my family or livestock could stumble across them.  Early warning devices?  More acceptable.  Another option is to establish a bunker or developed fighting position to cover that deadspace.  Once again this has pros and cons.   Fighting positions are only effective if they’re being fought from and if you have reaction time to get to them.  All the foxholes, trenches, and bunkers in the world do you no good if they aren’t manned.  So weight that decision against your capabilities and resources.  If you have inbound family during a SHTF scenario maybe that’s a good place to position them.  If you go that route then remember – you have to have some form of comms between the main house and that developed position to maintain situational awareness.  Handheld radios, wire, whatever.   If you go that route plan on developing a system by which you can get as much early warning as possible from that direction.  If I had to place a position in that area I’d probably put it somewhere near the star in the illustration below.  That position could provide some observation and fire on that deadspace while still being in a position to be supported by fires from the house but for the reasons I’ve outlined above could prove to be a liability.

It doesn’t really take a lot of effort to take the time to look around your micro-terrain (your immediate land) and asses what your fields of fire and observation are.  Weigh your defensive plan against where and how the threat can or may come at you and place the obstacles we’ve covered in this series up to now to capitalize on interlocking fields of observation and fire.

Note in this entry we didn’t get a whole lot into Defense In Depth.  I’m planning on tying that in when I address ways and means to actually harden the house itself.  Defense in depth on a 360 degree front is a can of worms for a small (think 5 or 6 household members) group and it deserves its own entry.

Next up we’ll start assessing our macro terrain at the tribal level and cover some things like obstacle parties.  Till then keep the powder dry and the pantry stocked.

Posted in Defensive Measures, Hardening the Homestead, Terrain and AO Development | Leave a comment

Defense: Obstacles Part XI: Breaking Contact And Evading

Things are finally settling down and I’ve recovered enough from the hard drive crash (backups – a real necessity) that I can drive on with the blog.  Up to this point we’ve covered numerous types of obstacles and creative ways to delay a threat headed your way.  Before we actually look at the ground we’ve got one more thing to do and that’s develop an escape/bug plan out aka Escape and Evasion (E&E) plan.  For our purposes I’ll also call it a Break contact and Evade plan (B&E).  One thing I’ve harped on throughout the entire series is that any obstacle that slows them down or keeps them out is going to have the same effect on you getting out.  There’s a basic truth in defense planning:  No matter how well planned, how well constructed, how well defended there’s always a possibility of being attacked by such a superior force that your position will no longer be tenable. Given that truth it’s pretty imperative you develop your B&E/E&E plan prior to planning and executing obstacles.  By developing that plan ahead of everything else you can also leverage some of your obstacles to help facilitate your B&E/E&E.

When would you execute an B&E/E&E plan?  IMHO there are two instances it comes into play.  The first is that you have forewarning of a greatly superior force headed towards your homestead.  By hauling ass and rallying with other tribe members you maintain your combat power to possibly setup a hasty ambush or stage for a counter attack and protect the less able members of your family buy not having them in the threats objective area.  Those situations will be covered more in depth later on when we get into tribal tactics.  The second instance is that you are suddenly faced with a vastly superior force assaulting your homestead.  If you’ve got your brain switched on and have good situational awareness there may come a point to where you realize your position is no longer tenable and it’s time to go.  We’ll look at that more in a little but first let’s examine a few basic concepts about B&E/E&E plans for the homestead.

The first concept we’ll look at is the Rally Point (RP).  A rally point for our purpose is a known location that everyone is familiar with and can find their way there individually (even in the dark) if they have to.  We’re going to deal with two types of RPs – an Initial Rally Point (IRP) and the final Rally Point (RP for us).  You could create more if you wanted to (i.e. Secondary/tertiary rally Points etc.) but we’ll stick with these two for now.  The IRP is the first location you’ll go to after you have escaped the homestead.  This is where you establish a temporary defense and gain accountability of your family if you’ve been separated.  It should be a secure and secluded location where you can catch your breath and get your head straight.  The final Rally Point is the ultimate destination of everyone and probably would be a fellow tribe members homestead.  At any rate it should be a secure defended location where you can reconsolidate (treat your wounded, regain situational awareness, possibly plan and execute a counter assault, etc.).

The next concept we’ll look at is the use of obscurants (i.e. smoke) in our escape.  A lot of people are down on using smoke grenades but honestly very few other things work as well for masking movement in open areas.  If you’re having to shag ass across an open area to cover away from your homestead spoiling the threats target acquisition by dumping smoke is better than nothing.   Bright lights can also be leveraged to mask your movement during dark.  Just make sure you aren’t between the threat and the light source or you’ll be a nice silhouetted target for them.  One thing to keep in mind is like a lot of other things obscurants can be a double edged sword.  That smoke you pop to cover your movement can shift with the wind and you could end up blindly running into a smoke field – not a good thing to have happen when bullets are flying.

Another concept to be aware of is how to exploit the OODA loop.  Situational awareness is everything and by not attaining or maintaining it you’ll increase your risk tenfold.  I used to tell folks getting into a situation without knowing what the threat is isn’t a risk – it’s a gamble and I ain’t fond of gambling with my life.  If you’ve had forewarning and time to setup an ambush prior to the threats assault then you’re inside his loop once you spring your ambush.  But if the threat assaults in the wee early hours of the morning before your stand to then he’s already inside your loop.  You are now forced into a position in which you either allow the enemy to exploit his advantage or you forcibly get inside his OODA loop by going directly into the action phase.  Keep him in the observe and orient portion of the loop and out of the decide and act portion as much as possible.  Violence of action and shock are two of the best methods of accomplishing this.  By keeping your OODA loop tighter than the threats it’ll help you establish and maintain any aspect of superiority you have.  This is where planned and rehearsed drills and tactics come into play.  More on that below.

Yet another concepts is volume of fire.  I’m not a big fan of full auto but it does have its place.  Very short controlled bursts are good at forcing a threat to keep his head down under cover.  And the more/longer you force the threat to keep his head down the more time you have to maneuver.  There’s a basic axiom off the firefight that I’ve seen hold true over the years.  Initial fire superiority goes a long way in establishing who’s going to come out on top of a fight.  The more one side suppresses the other and continues to keep them suppressed as that number grows the lethality of the threat diminishes.  Simply put as fire is laid on and held the more guys on the threat side that duck = less shooting on their part.  The lesser the quality of the threat the greater that phenomenon is and it will increase as the threat begins to take casualties.  Does this volume of fire have to be super accurate?  IMHO not really but it needs to be pretty close.  Close enough to make the threat behind cover believe he’s being individually targeted and once again the lower the quality and less experienced the threat is the greater chance they believe they are directly being fired at.  Keep it in nice short controlled bursts (3-5 rounds) and keep it consistent.  Keep him reacting to your fire and chances are he’ll be stuck in observe/orient.

Clear concise communication is critical in a break out and evasion involving more than one person.  Locations should be commonly known to family members and names should be short and able to be understood.  If your using other homesteads you can use the last name of the family that lives there (i.e. DOE).  Similarly with Initial Rally Points you could name them after the direction you plan to break out and evade to (i.e. NORTH, SOUTH, etc…).  Commands and information have to be passed in a clear enough manner that all family members can understand them and know what they mean.  Figure it out beforehand and you’ll save a lot of confusion and buy yourself more time by not having to repeat or clarify commands and info when times comes to use it.

Another concept we need to look at is multiple escape routes.  Why do you need multiple escape routes?  Well just think if you only had one and the threat was greatest in that direction or along that route – That wouldn’t be anywhere near ideal escape.  Think of it as “One way in and five ways out”.  Multiple routes give you the flexibility in escape you might just need to escape with minimal casualties.

But what if all of your routes are covered by the threat?  This is where the concept of violence of action comes in.  You may end up being completely surrounded and have to punch through an assaulting force in one area to clear your route.  By using obscurants, applying volume of fire, aggressiveness, and speed your chances of making a breakout are better than waiting for the threat to slack enough to give you a “window of opportunity” (like that’s going to happen – I wouldn’t be willing to bet my life on it).  IMHO you have to create your own “window of opportunity” by either inflicting casualties and achieving suppression in one area to a point you can gain some freedom of movement or by executing a violent escape early on before the threat has completed his maneuver.  Here’s where an interesting thing happens.  It’s natural instinct for a threat with enough resources to attempt to completely encircle an objective (i.e. your homestead) .  It happens with pack hunting animals in nature and it happens with man as illustrated by basic tactics throughout human history – think of how the Native Americans assaulted a homestead and how the feds encircled the Weaver homestead at Ruby Ridge.   If the threat is less than experienced they may just screw up and begin their assault prior to having all of their forces in place.  Personally I wouldn’t use this as a rule rather expect to have to punch your way out and plan accordingly.

A final concept I’ll address is “funneling”.  Funneling is  the phenomenon in which you’ve laid obstacles to channel (or funnel) a threat into your fields of fire during his maneuver.  If you aren’t careful with your obstacle planning you can create a condition in which you end up being funneled during your escape.  You want to avoid this condition when emplacing your obstacles to facilitate your B&E/E&E plan by creating large fields as you move further away from the homestead.  This gives you more freedom of maneuver and a larger target area for the threat to cover as you make your escape.

So let’s look at our map and pick out some rally points.  Take a look at the pic below:

For the sake of clarity I’ll keep it simple.  What I’ve done is annotate our homestead with the star.  I’ve located three Initial Rally Points (IRPs) in cover in different directions.  This gives us a minimum of three locations under cover that are easily recognizable.  In two instances (the South east and west) they are small clearings in wooded areas that can provide both cover and concealment.  In the case of the north east one it’s actually the closest neighboring homestead.  Any of these three locations should be fairly easy for family members to recognize with little moonlight.  Here’s a key point to remember:  Do not let the first time someone sees or navigates to these locations be when it’s under fire.  Get out in both daylight and dark and walk to them.  Make a game of it and have different family members guide to them against time.  But they have to be moved to under both daylight and darkness.  For our purpose I’m going to use other homesteads in the area as my final Rally Points.  The reason behind this is they can provide security, aid, and sanctuary.  It’s a good idea to establish a small cache of  loaded magazines for your rifles, water, first aid supplies, and even a spare radio and batteries at your initial rally points.  This will allow you conduct a quick reconsolidation and help replenish your defensive capabilities before moving to your final rally point.  For the sake of illustration let’s say that southeast rally point is named Doe after the Doe family (it becomes pertinent later on).

Now we’ll take another look at the map and establish routes to get us to those RPs.  If you’ve done your homework and cleared fields of fire there’s going to be a lot of open area to cross but ideally you want to hit cover away from the homestead as soon as possible.  This is the point in the B&E/E&E plan where you’ll want to take maximum advantage of the terrain.  Gullies, wadis, creeks, even cliffs can facilitate putting terrain between you and the threat.  Once you have your tentative RPs and routes planned get out and actually move through the terrain to evaluate them and then ask yourself “Is this a route or location that can be made in pitch black with pouring down rain by everyone at the homestead?”.  If not relook and adjust as necessary.  Anyway in the pic below I’ve laid out basic routes to the RPs we identified.

Once again this is simplified for illustration – two main avenues of escape wouldn’t be enough for my peace of mind.  I’ve color coded the paths – blue is under cover and orange is open areas also considered danger areas which you have little to no cover and concealment in crossing.  When you have to move through those types of areas before you break cover stop inside of cover and listen, then edge out and look around slowly.  Cross only when you think it’s clear to do so.  In the case of having to cross a large open/danger area once you’re committed don’t stop unless it’s at cover.  Move and move fast because speed is your ally.  Notice that the paths are not direct – they go to the nearest cover and concealment.  What you want to avoid is locating a path too close to a heavily traveled road or other commonly known and trafficked area. Also in the case of the western one it actually doubles back.  That is because once a person hits that north/south fence line on the north side they’ll be able to follow it down across the road to a trail that leads into that small clearing.  Notice the southern path is in the open for a good portion.  Not ideal but if you have the homestead between you and the threat with some obscuration it’s feasible.  And really that’s what you want – as much between you and the threat as possible be it the house, tree line, whatever.

So let’s run through a little fictional scenario to flesh the entire concept out:

It’s 0500 (5 a.m.) and at the Jones homestead the dogs suddenly start going apeshit or maybe one of his  tripwire alarms he laid in has gone off.  Mr. Jones is startled awake and gets his jeans and boots on while shoving his wife awake.  Both of them grab their rifles and radios and he begins to assess the situation determining where the dogs are barking at while his wife finished getting her shoes on and grabbing her go bag which contains a radio, water bottle, and a smoke grenade – identical to the ones each kid has.  She then moves through the house waking everyone up and having them get their clothes on that are always laid out when they go to bed.  The rest of the family gathers in the center hallway of the house while Mr. Jones determines that the dogs are all gathered in front of the house by the road barking at something across the road in the wood line. Having had some foresight he has installed a series of car headlamps on the poles around his house shining into likely areas that an assault would come from and he flips the switch cutting the front series of lights on. Seconds later shooting breaks out and the threat has begun firing that the dogs.  At this point Mr. Jones is able to discern muzzle flashes so he picks up his Romanian AK clone with its Korean drum and slidefire stock and shouts out to his family “ACROSS THE ROAD – ON ME, COVER THE OTHERS” And begins firing very short controlled bursts into the wood line where he sees the muzzle flashes from as his wife moves the kids into their assigned watch sectors.  About that time his family begins to yell “BACK CLEAR” “EAST CLEAR” and a few seconds later he hears his oldest son yell “MOVEMENT WEST” followed by shots from the west end of the house and the lights he had installed pointing west flipping on. At this point sporadic fire begins raking the house on the north and west sides however the family has put some preparation into the house so they fell pretty safe.  Jones can hear his wife on the radio alerting the other homesteads to their situation and suspected location of the threat.  At this point things seem to be going their way until the threat gets its head straight and starts shooting the lights out in the front once they’ve dispatched the remaining dogs. About the time the last light is shot out and a second or two too late he sees a shadow throw something that sparks like one of those cheap 4th of July sparklers across the road that lands in the front yard and explodes a few seconds later – the threat has explosives.  Now the equation has changed significantly and its decision time.   Stand, fight, and hope the neighbors get there in time to hit the threat from the rear or side or haul ass?  Jones knows from experience it’ll take his neighbors at least ten to fifteen minutes to consolidate and get into action and he begins to realize he may not have that time.  From his perception the heaviest fire is coming from the north across the road so he assumes that is the main assault forces location and they’re waiting for his suppressive fire to lift to begin their assault.  As he runs his drum dry and switches to magazines he makes the decision that he’ll wait for the first assault and hit them with a few choice “nasties” he’s buried in the front yard and then displace while the threat is dealing with the shock of having his homemade claymores go off in their faces.  He yells to his family “ON THE BOOM – SOUTH DOE”.  This cues his family to get ready to displace to the south as soon as they hear the explosion and his wife gets on the radio and gives the rest of the tribe the brevity word letting them know they are displacing.   Once his wife yells “SET” to him Jones comes back with “READY” and slows his firing down.  A few seconds later he sees two shadows break the woodline and as soon as they hit the edge of the road he hits his electric detonator creating one god awful explosion in the front yard.  As soon as the family hears that boom they break out of the back door  with his wife in the lead and his son at trail keeping a ten yard interval between them moving as fast as they can along a path they’ve walked many times before.  Jones doesn’t wait to assess the damage he’s inflicted instead he turns and breaks for the back door.  On his way out he notices his son has popped a smoke grenade towards the west side of the house to cover their movement and he is unable to see them but continues on at a full sprint.  A few minutes later he approaches the families initial rally point stopping just outside of it and using his handheld radio keys it twice.  He’s answered back by squelch being broken four times (double his number) and he proceeds to move into his IRP to rejoin his family which has assumed a 360 degree defensive posture.  Once the family is accounted for he drags out a small sealed cache of magazines, another couple of smoke grenades, a radio with batteries, and first aid kit to reload and treat any injuries the family has (reconsolidation).  While in the IRP the Jones family makes no noise and only moves when absolutely necessary instead listening and looking for any clues they were followed.  Once they are satisfied they had no pursuers his wife gets on the radio and tells the tribe members on the net they are clear of the house.  At that point Jones can hear a few explosions and sporadic gunfire coming from the house until it dies down signaling to him the threat has taken the homestead.  He then marshals and moves the family along their E&E route to the Doe homestead but while doing so he hears some intense gunfire break out back at their own homestead as the rest of the tribe begins to engage the threat once its begun to raid after seizing the homestead.  After a few more minutes the family reaches the Does and safety (for now).

An interesting little scenario that went all too right but I wrote it to illustrate some points:

  • The Jones family had an early warning system.  Be it dogs or alarm devices that helped buy them some reaction time.
  • The family consolidated in the hallway before the action took place.  That makes sure that little Mikey  hasn’t rolled back over and gone to sleep.
  • The Jones family were prepared.  They laid their clothes out at night and had their go bags ready.  No fumbling in the dark looking for a shoe.  They had a plan.
  • The Jones family had obviously rehearsed this type of situation  as his wife and kids knew exactly what to do.
  • The Jones communicated with each other in a clear common language using established references- a CRITICAL factor in surviving.  They also notified the rest of the tribe alerting them to a threat and  activating any kind of quick reaction force that might exist.
  • Jones had the capability to put a lot of rounds into the threat area and did so in a disciplined manner after switching those lights on and creating at least what would be temporary blindness for the threat.  He forced his way into the threats OODA loop.
  • Jones didn’t hesitate to make the call to E&E – he realized he was going to be outgunned and probably outmanned.
  • Jones created his own window of opportunity with his front yard mines.  Those mines not only forced him back into the threat OODA loop again it also created one helluva distraction as the threat would no doubt instantly hunker down and try to assess the situation.
  • His wife and family didn’t wait for him instead moved directly to their IRP and established 360 degree security.  They employed obscurants close to the house to help cover their move.
  • The family had a sign/co sign system established for use at the IRP.  Be it comms, vocal, whatever they had a way to recognize that the person approaching the IRP was not a threat.
  • At the IRP they silently paused listening and looking to ensure they weren’t being pursued.
  • They notified the rest of the tribe they were clear of the homestead.  This communication with the rest of the tribe is critical to ensure that you don’t get shot approaching another homestead or mistaken by any reaction element as a threat.
  • They moved to their Final Rally Point when they were satisfied it was safe to do so.

A note aside if you notice the QRF waited until the threat was on the objective and reconsolidating.  Later on when we get into some Tactics techniques, and Procedures (TTPS) that’s probably the best time to hit an ad hoc threat.  An undisciplined threat is likely going to be too busy high fiving each other and looking over their booty than be concerned with establishing security.  Like I stated that was just a fictional scenario to point out some teaching points.  Things could only go that right in such a situation – when you throw in friendly wounded, dead batteries in radios, and other Murphyesqe frustrators things change quick.  But by having a plan and rehearsing it the Jones family would have increased their chances at survival tenfold.

I mentioned dealing with wounded which brings me to another point.  Is breaking contact and evading the answer for everyone?  No.  If you have elderly or disabled in the house and their incapable of moving swiftly then shagging is probably not an option for you.  After all, would you be willing to leave Grandma or young Johnny with a bullet in his lower leg behind for the threat to deal with?  Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.  You might be able to incorporate a vehicle in your plan to overcome some of the issues associated with an inability to B&E/E&E but whatever you do have a plan and rehearse it.

Posted in Defensive Measures, Hardening the Homestead, Security Planning, Terrain and AO Development | Leave a comment

Defense: Obstacles Part X: Closing Some Gaps

A lot of time when it comes to obstacles you’ll want an obstacle with certain characteristics beyond what a normal obstacle would have.  You might tailor it to deter a specific threat or take advantage of your existing resources.    During this entry we’ll look at a couple of the common places we may not necessarily want to completely cut off 24/7 and examine a few methods of creating a temporary barrier that can be moved into and out of position.

One thing you might have noticed is how I started the obstacles piece in kind of a remote area and have been working it “in” towards the homestead.  This entry will put us right into the immediate area around the homestead – literally almost in the front yard.   The acre or two immediately surrounding the house and barns (what I’m going to refer to as our “point defense”) is going to be the focus of this entry as we look at ways to reinforce that portion of our area of operations.  Now most of y’all probably don’t want to close off access permanently to the house (especially if you’re still interacting with your other tribe members) but you still want to have some kind of measure of deterrence when normal folks aren’t out and about.

First off I’m going to go back to our case study homestead and look at two areas we may need to have open or closed depending on the threat.  Take a quick look at the pic below:

Now notice that I’ve marked two areas in the pic.  Area 1 is our entry to the driveway.  Also for the sake of examination I’m going to say the fence line at area 2 has a cattleguard.

Let’s tackle that driveway opening first.  It’s an open area roughly 15 feet wide with a barbwire fence on either side.  If we’ve done our homework and reinforced that fences that driveway is a natural route for a threat to take as they are channeled by our other obstacles.  But it also leads directly to the house and that is something we darn sure don’t want.  As it currently stands it’s a high speed approach for both dismounted threats and vehicles.  We gotta fix that so what we need is an obstacle that we can move into and out of position that will deter people on foot and vehicles from entering.  To do both effectively we’re going to need a complex obstacle – that is an obstacle made up of more than one element.  And it’s gotta be somewhat easy to emplace and remove on a daily basis.  The first thing we could do is create a slalom down that driveway with some more fencing and barriers.  That will help to slow down any vehicle that enters the homestead when our other barriers aren’t in place.

I want to tackle vehicle barriers first.  Why?  because although a vehicle may not be able to make it all of the way to the house they can ram into fences opening them thereby giving dismounts a faster method of approach.  Now we need to be realistic here.  You’re going to be hard pressed to stop anything really heavy (i.e. a tank, IFV, etc.) but for most wheeled vehicles we can slow them down or prevent their ingress with a few simple measures.  First up going back to the entry about stopping the threat on roads and trails I’m going to borrow an obstacle design and modify it a bit.  Looking at the obstacle that’s a pole in the road we’re going to create a variation of it that we can install and remove with nothing more than a lift on a tractor.  For this method you’re really going to want to use concrete as a base for the obstacle because if you just emplace these in normal dirt they’re going to be pushed over a lot easier.  Anyhow you’ll need to find some sections of pipe that has roughly between 6 and 8 inches of inner diameter – PVC will work for this but it won’t be as durable.  Excavate a a ditch approximately 3 feet wide and 12 inches deep across the drive you want to block.  Then you’ll take your pipe and cut it into sections 3 feet long.  Dig it into the ground in a pattern as indicated in the pic below making sure that it’s 24 inches below the level of your ditch – 3 feet into the ground and flush with the regular surface and no more than five feet apart in a line.  Preferably you’ll be able to create two staggered lines so when it’s setup there’ll be no more than 2 and a half feet between each post when looking from the front.  Then you’ll need to create a form to pour your concrete in and once you’ve got that done you’ll want to use rebar both horizontally and vertically driven into the ground tied together to form a support matrix for your pour.  When you pour the concrete make sure you put a few inches in the bottom of the pipes as well to support the poles.

And once that part is done it’s time to turn to the poles/posts themselves.  Some of the best and cheapest material to use on this step is railroad rail.  You can find it in scrap yards and sometimes even on the internet (I managed to snag a hundred feet on Craigslist pretty cheap).  But in a pinch you can also use regular metal pipe or even PVC pipes capped on the bottom.  If you use a hollow pipe then you’re going to want to reinforce it by filling it with rebar and concrete.  On top of the posts you’ll want some kind of loop or hook to be able to lift them to remove and install them.  Something like a wire cable and clamp or a shackle will work.  Also you’ll want a loop or hole to be able to run wire cable through at roughly the middle of the exposed parts. Anyway these should still be light enough that you can lift them with the forks on the front of a tractor or bobcat.   Assembly is pretty simple – in the evening drop them in place and run a wire cable through the top and middle loops.  That cable will help add to the strength of the entire assembly.  It’s preferable to alternate how you run that cable – i.e. weave it at the top and run it linear at the bottom.  Here’s an example.

Will it stop a bulldozer?  No.  Will it stop a jeep, pickup, or HMMWV?  Yes. Will it stop an ASV or MRAP?  It depends.  If the area on the threat side of the obstacle is gravel or soft dirt then it probably will present enough resistance that when those vehicles push against it their back tires will probably spin and start digging in.  But remember – obstacles only deter a threat and they won’t stop a determined and capable threat.

So we now have an obstacle that will deter vehicles.  However we still have to deal with dismounts.  And the best deterrent for dismounts is good old wire (razor wire works best).  But we need a setup that will allow us to block and open an area at will.  So for this effort we’re going to build a frame to hold our wire that we can pull or lift into and out of position.  It needs to be fairly sturdy and not be movable by hand.  What I’ve come up with is a setup that should be pretty cheap and easy to build and still fairly quick to emplace and take down.

To build an example of this obstacle we’re going to do some shopping for old bedframes – the kind made out of L shaped rails.  Lay hands on as many as possible – you should be able to find them pretty cheaply on craigslist or in the scrap yard.  If they have springs remove those and lay them out and tackweld them together so they’re individually rigid.  Then drill holes along the front flat portion of the frames – this is where we’ll tie our wire to.  Then we’re going to drill holes in the side edges to connect them together with carriage bolts after we get them mounted and holes to mount them to our facing frame.  Now we need a framework to support the entire assembly.  This is where rigidity becomes important.  You can build it out of wood  (telephone poles, 2″x4″s,  4″x”4s or 8″x8″s) or weld it up out of scrap metal and pipe.  Whatever you do this framework has to be rigid enough to hold up to being moved and heavy enough to prevent being lifted by hand.  The best shape is preferable an “L” with the vertical face towards the threat however a slight back tilt is OK as well.  You want some kind of ballast on the friendly side to prevent the threat from tilting it forward and out of the way.  Old telephone poles secured in place are heavy enough to serve this purposes but scrap iron or other heavy junk will work as well.  Once that’s done we’re going to start facing the frame with the bed frames we tack welded up.  Face the entire threat side connecting the frames to the mainframe and each other as you go. And once you’re done facing them it’s time to connect the wire to it.  When you run the first set of wire run some taut stringers or even goat fence (better) across the face and then run the rest of the wire in a loose manner.  If you have concertina that’s preferable but even using a design like our tanglefoot will work.  What you want is depth in the wire so a threat can’t climb the obstacle.  Get that wire all loose and snaggy so the threat gets hung up in it if they do try and climb it.  What we end up with is a linear obstacle that can be moved into and out of position fairly easily – the pic below will give you an idea of how it looks:

This type of obstacle is effective only when there are no gaps between it and the fences.  IMHO being able to lift the entire assembly and push it up against the existing fences at the opening will not only add to the security but will also add to the durability of the obstacle versus being drug into place.  You want to make sure that this kind of obstacle is wider than the fence opening it is supposed to close.  Pay particular attention to the area where the existing fences and the obstacle meet.  Don’t get hung up on the main frame design – just make sure you focus on structural rigidity and weight.  Adding spiked boards and nails to the facing frame on the threat side will also help deter people from trying to engage it.

These two obstacles combined can be emplaced with a tractor lift in under a half hour (putting the posts in place is the most time consuming task and that becomes easier with experience).   They should be a great enough deterrent that the threat will focus their efforts on another part of your obstacle.  Anyhow be creative when designing this kind of obstacle.  Not too long ago in a discussion about obstacles I was asked if cattle panel would work for this.  IMHO I wouldn’t use it because the pipes running across it are rigid enough to support the weight of a climber.

Anyhow next up we’ve got to tackle that cattleguard.  For the sake of argument we’re going to assume we want to be able to continue using it since we’re still going to try and run a productive ranch.  To deter dismounts a frame assembly like above would work but we still need something to deter vehicles.  That something needs to be strong yet portable.  With some creative thinking we can go back to the example given in the roads and trails entry and use a variation of our spiked pole.  Let’s take a look at a standard type of cattleguard real quick:

Most of them have concrete boxes or ledges they sit on top of and are constructed of a grid work of metal pipes for enough apart to keep animals from crossing them.  Here’s where we can get creative and setup a spiked post assembly with  some basic materials.  For this example I’m once again going to look at that “L” shaped steel that we scrounged from old bedframes.  Cut a piece at maximum length and stick it into rear section of the cattleguard.  Make sure the back end of it is resting against the concrete footer and measure out a point where it’s 24 inches off of the ground.  You can decrease the length by moving the post further back between the pipes but the most effective when they are at 45 degrees. Once you have the length determined cut enough of them so that you have one for every 12 inches of cattleguard.  Then you’re going to assemble them into manageable sections by welding them together into sections with a section on the bottom and a reinforcing beam approximately 12 inches from the bottom.  Since not all cattleguards are equal you’ll have to play with your measurements but the idea should be similar.  The pic below illustrates the concept:

What you should end up with is an obstacle that can be emplaced by hand is a short amount of time.  You can stack these so you have multiple layers on the same cattleguard as well.  Granted this isn’t going to completely stop a vehicle but anything with a suspension or driveline within 24 inches of the ground is going to suffer catastrophic damage and isn’t going to go much further.  I have seen this type of obstacle completely destroy a U-joint and pierce an oil pan.

The examples given are just a couple of types of obstacles that serve a specific purpose.  On my last road trip my host asked what I thought about making concrete beams out of forms dug into the ground with construction wire (the heavy gauge stuff) reinforcing it.  This is the kind of creative thinking you can use to reduce the costs in time and resources and still create viable and effective solutions.  Don’t for a second think that this series has presented every type of obstacle – that would take volumes upon volumes.  What I have tried to do is show some examples of how you can leverage existing resources to your advantage when it comes to creating and emplacing obstacles.

Over the next few entries we’re going to be going back to the map and developing an obstacle plan for our AO to deter different types of threats.  We’ll be using some the obstacles I’ve presented and examine the logic behind what goes where and possibly when.

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Defense: Obstacles Part IX: Reinforcing Existing Fences

In the last entry we examined a few different types of common wire and concertina wire.  In this entry we’ll take a look at ways of reinforcing existing fences to make them better obstacles.  Your average fence that exists now is probably suited for a specific task.  That task may be keeping livestock in, marking your property boundary, keeping feral animals out, etc.  Often by just adding a few more features to an existing fence we can create a viable obstacle that will help us to achieve a desired effect.  Remember from the last entry wire serves a lot of different purpose when it comes to defense.  Regardless of the purpose fence obstacles all have one thing in common: they are a pain in the ass for humans (and vehicles) to deal with but they are not the one stop absolutely don’t let anything in solution.  That solution doesn’t exist – but when it comes to the basic principles of obstacles wire is good – damn good.  This isn’t a primer that’s going to tell you what a widowmaker is, how far to space your t-posts or drive them in, what type of barbwire to use, or how to use fencing pliers.  There’s a gajillion sites on the net that gives that kind of basic info (there’s a good link at the bottom of this entry for it).

The most common type of fence you’ll see in rural areas is the steel T-post and barbwire fence.  There’s so many schools of thought on how to put these up (tight wire, slack wire, post spacing/depth, etc.) that it’d be pretty hard to address them all here so I’m going to highlight their common properties.  These fences normally consist of four or five stands of wire connect to standard t-posts at a fairly uniform interval.  The pic below illustrates a pretty common type:

Fences like these are pretty good at controlling livestock but suck at deterring humans.  Given that fact we’ll start off with some basic reinforcing and work our way up in complexity.  Complexity is a term you’ll see me use a lot when talking about wire obstacles.  There’s a rule I frequently use when discussing obstacles and that’s The more complex an obstacle the longer it’ll take the threat to a) figure it out, b) deal with it, and c) be more likely to deter a threat from taking that approach or route.  If you have a complex obstacle and the threat is unable to examine it from cover while you have good observation and fire on it then the threat is going to have a helluva time breaching it. After all – running up on a complex obstacle you’ve never seen before in the middle of an open area with little to no cover or concealment nearby and no tools to breach under fire is kind of a suicide mission that is likely to fail.

The simplest type of reinforcement is simply adding more wire.  In this instance I’ll add a single row of concertina  to the base of the existing fence on the threat side. Not a very complex obstacle by any means but it does complicate being able to get through the lower portion of the fence and frustrates trying to create a breach.  If you take this measure then it’s a good idea to make sure your concertina wire is firmly fixed to the lower portion of the existing fence (both the wire and posts) so it can’t simply be lifted up and out of the way. Burying a part of the bottom of the roll is an even better idea and if you can anchor it to the ground that’s even more effective.  Using something as simple as cut and bent rebar or cut up step in or pigtail posts every few feet will keep that concertina wire fixed. A key point here is that concertina wire is most effective when it’s slack – not pulled tight or stretched.  Once it’s in place you can add a couple of barbwire stringers (or razor tape if you have it) to the roll to keep it from expanding or collapsing. Note the illustration below:

So we’ve got a slightly better obstacle than just a standalone fence.  If you wanted to make it even more effective you could add another layer to either side of the fence.  And if you have the resources you can even create what the military refers to as “triple strand” concertina.  Triple strand concertina is three rolls of concertina wire stacked in a pyramid shape.  It’s a little more labor intensive and given the fact we already have one fence up with its wire intact unless you’re going to pull that wire you’ll have to drive more posts.  The goal is to have the two bottom rows tied to the post and the top row actually straddling the posts with the whole assembly being tied together at every possible location.  As I stated another option is to drive additional posts in front of your first roll of wire (tying it as you go).  Make sure you stagger the posts so they aren’t lined up with your existing ones.  That will give the entire assembly more rigid strength.  After you have those posts in roll out another roll of concertina and tie it to the posts.  Then you’re going to take a third roll, unroll it away from the fence, and place it on top of the other two ensuring you place it over the new posts you’ve driven.  It’s a good idea to tie as much of this together as you go and then go back later and anchor everything as much as possible.  Afterwards you can run stringers of barbwire or razor tape (similar to the single strand) to keep the assembly rigid and from collapsing.  Tying the wire together and anchoring it to the ground and the posts is imperative to prevent the threat from simply lifting the wire out of the way or cutting and rolling an entire section back.

We now have an obstacle that’s going to take some time and effort to get through.  And if you place it correctly (away from cover and concealment and within fields of observation and fire) that time translates into time that you can engage a threat.  Another point I want to touch on here.   If you go back to the entry in which I wrote about clearing fields of fire and observation remember I stated you want to clear as far into any woodline as you can well that concept also applies to obstacle fences.  Because of one time proven tactic – a threat attempting to breach an obstacle will almost always have support covering it firing from cover to its rear or flanks.  If you are trying to engage a threat attempting to breach wire and you’re taking fire yourself you’re interdiction is going to be much harder and probably less effective.  Denying that threat breaching element support by fire increases the effectiveness of your capabilities.  When we get into placement I’ll illustrate a couple of ways that you can frustrate the threat’s support by fire capabilities.

At any rate we’re up to a regular old barbwire fence with some triple strand on the threat side.  Good, but it could be better.  How can we make it better?  Add more layers.  You could create another set of triple strand on the backside as well or you could add another type of obstacle on the front or backside.  One of the ones I’ve run into that is a total pain in the ass to deal with is called “tanglefoot”.  Tanglefoot is a matrix of wire run close to the ground in an interlocking pattern designed to frustrate a threat from either running through an area or crawling along the ground. It doesn’t have to be super complex and doesn’t have to be perfectly uniform.  IMHO the most effective tanglefoot runs at varying heights and uses both tight and slack wire. You don’t want it to be so high the threat can crawl under it nor do you want it to be so low that the threat can step on it.  It also needs to be close enough that the threat can’t easily step between it.  Here’s an example used in Vietnam:

Notice how the wire is setup in a complex matrix?  In reality this wire is probably too close to the bunker (inside hand grenade range) however it will prevent anyone rushing the bunker which was probably its original intent.  No doubt there were other obstacles setup in depth to give the occupants of that bunker some additional stand off.

Tanglefoot is actually simple to emplace and very effective but it is resource intensive.  When placed stand alone you want it at a depth that a physically fit man can’t easily jump across from a run.  When combined with other obstacles you can decrease its depth however you still have to take into account changes in the ground (like dips, depressions, humps, etc.).  When placed inside woodlines it can frustrate the threats’ ability to quickly assault from cover.  In open areas if it’s put in tall grass or immediately behind a hill and it could be almost hidden until the threat is right up on it.  Not a pleasant surprise when you’re trying to move from cover to cover in an assault.  And even if the threat knows it’s there it can still help to divert the threat into an area where you can engage it (remember I referred to this as “channeling” a threat).  The illustration below shows a basic tanglefoot setup.  In this example I’m going to use 26 inch long posts made of either wood or cut down t-posts.  The t-posts will get notched to hold the wire (that keeps it from being lifted or pushed down once you tied it onto the post) and the wooden posts should have the wire stapled securely to them.  The basic pattern starts by measuring a line 12 inches from the fenceline parallel to the fence.  Then measure additional lines 12 inches beyond that.  Now segment our first line by driving posts in at least 12 inches deep in irregular heights leaving 8 to 14 inches exposed at 24 inch intervals along that line.  Once you’ve completed the first line start working on the next line  while staggering those posts so they half the distance of the first ones.  Continue on until you have a pattern similar to step 1 in the illustration below.  Once all of your posts are driven you then run barbwire stringers along the lines you originally measure out connecting it to the posts once you’ve stretched it tight (step 2).  Next you being creating your diagonal pattern by running the wire hand tight along the diagonal patterns until you’ve reached the end of your obstacle.  Make sure anytime you can tie the diagonal lines to an existing fence you do so not just wrapping it around but looping it around them.  It’s actually pretty simple in its construction but it is time and resource consuming.

One additional step you can take once you have all of your posts in before you being running wire is to cut the end of the posts to a pretty sharp angle.  I saw this done in Korea and I couldn’t help but think if you ran into that stuff at night and tripped into it that would create one helluva puncture wound.

Tanglefoot placed in front of your triple strand is going to frustrate the threat’s ability to get in close to deal with the triple strand.  Placed on the backside of the fence and it creates an area that frustrates the threat’s movement once he gets through that fence and triple strand.  So let’s add some tanglefoot to our fence:

In the above illustration I’m going to emplace at least six feet of tanglefoot on the backside of the obstacle first.  Why six feet and not ten/twenty, etc?  Six feet is a good length to prevent a threat from jumping over the wire once I add a backside fence (see below).  I’ll also add at least four feet to the front side of the concertina.  Why at least four feet? That’s a good tradeoff distance to give some standoff when the threat is trying to deal with the concertina.  Try kneeling, reaching out four feet, and doing some grunt work.  It’s hell to maintain your balance and accomplish any task that requires effort (like using wire cutters).  Once you have your tanglefoot integrated into your fence and you’re happy with it is a good time to setup any “surprises” you might want to use.  When laying in tripwires make sure you run them so they can’t accidentally be snagged and you darn sure want to run them so the threat can’t easily cut them.  Use the wire to your advantage and make sure the threat has to pull or push on it to get to those tripwires.

So we now have a fairly complex wire obstacle but I’ve got a problem.  I have livestock and I damn sure don’t want them tripping into that tanglefoot or setting off any surprises – almost a sure bet especially if you have goats or mules.  I’d also like to have one more layer of complexity to my obstacle as well.  To deal with these issues I’m going to do a little planning before I start laying in wire and add another fence on the backside.  This fence is going to be a bit different – it’ll use goat wire.  So I’m going to drive in my posts before I lay in my tanglefoot and dig a trench (I like using a tiller for this) six to eight inches deep in front of the posts.  Here’s where things get complicated and you have to be really careful or you’ll be tied up in your own obstacle.  You want to fix that goat wire on the threat side of the posts with the bottom cell below ground level BEFORE you put your tanglefoot in.  Once you have it tied to its posts then bury the bottom cell (if you have the resources to anchor the wire below ground use it).  Then working between the two fences you’ll tie your diagonal barbwire for the tanglefoot to this fence as well when you’re running it. See the illustration below:

What are the advantages of this setup?  Let’s think about it.  If I’ve placed this correctly when the threat hits it he’s going to have to deal with stepping into the tanglefoot to get to the triple strand.  Then he has to get through the triplestrand and the fence it’s attached to before he runs into another set of tanglefoot.  Once he works his way through that (and if he doesn’t set off any surprises up to that point) he still has to either cut or climb that goatwire to get through.  It’s not fool proof but it accomplishes a few critical obstacle goals.  It may reroute the threat if he’s unwilling to deal with it.  It may also expose him to my fire while he wrestles with it if I sited it correctly. You don’t necessarily have to use tanglefoot between fences.  Another set of triple strand, a razor wire obstacle, or even a natural obstacle like cacti or thorny bushes could be put in that zone.

The last couple of examples are pretty complex obstacles that would require a lot of time, effort, and resources to construct.  When planning keep in mind the most important tenet of obstacles – Anything that’s going to make it hard for the threat to get in is probably going to make it hard for you to get out.  Use your imagination, measure your resources, and think about what you’re planning from the threat’s perspective of “how much of a pain in the ass is this going to be to deal with” by mixing up the different types to create as complex an obstacle as you can given your resources and time.  As always this isn’t all inclusive, there are other types of wire obstacles and in the next entry we’ll look at a couple of other types of obstacles that serve specific purposes.  For the time being here’s a few other sources of info for your reading enjoyment.

Here’s a site with a wealth of information for those that have little to no experience with the pleasure (that’s sarcasm) of putting up fences.

The US Army’s Field Fortifications Subcourse  has a good chapter dealing specifically with wire obstacles.

Here’s a great little Book titled Wiring Obstacles by the US Army dated 1917.  Still a lot of good basic info in it.

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Defense: Obstacles Part VIII: An Quick Look At Common Wire Types

First off sorry for the delay in posting – summer is a pretty busy time around here.  A little bit of rain brought me a needed break so I’ll nug this one out real quick.  In this entry we’re going to begin looking at wire.  Wire from an obstacle standpoint is used to either contain (keep in), exclude (keep out), channel (direct into or out of an area or along a path), and delay.  There’s that word delay again – and it goes back to a basic tenet of obstacles:  A determined threat isn’t going to be stopped by an obstacle instead it will only be delayed as the threat deals with that obstacle.  Given that tenet along with the fact we’re not too worried about keeping stuff in the rest of the wire series is going to deal with delaying and channeling.  Is wire really a feasible obstacle?  Hell yes.  I watched a Bradley run into some triple strand concertina once and become completely stalled once it wrapped around the suspension.  I’ve seen guys have to be medevaced because they got tangled up in some concertina wire and it tore them up so bad they looked like they had made a few trips through the blender.  I’m primarily going to use this entry to define the types of wire I’ll be discussing in some of the following entries.  It’s important to know the different types of wire simply because some types are better than others at given tasks.  So later on when I say “you can use X wire” we’ll be on the same sheet of music.

The first type of wire we’ll use is good old barbwire.  It’s pretty straightforward and everyone knows what that is so I’m not going to go in-depth on it. The next wire we’ll look at is what I call “goat fencing” but it’s also called hog wire, sheep wire, etc.  There’s a lot of varieties and sizes of this type of wire but for our purpose (and since I’m cheap) I use the cheapest thing  I can find which is usually a 4 foot tall 300 foot long roll of what the Co-Op sells (see the pic below).  Why use this type of wire?  If you embed it in the ground one cell deep and anchored nobody is going to crawl through it without some cutting.  I’ll go more in depth on how to use goat fence as the wire entries progress.

Next up is razor wire and tape.  This kind of wire is designed for one purpose – inflicting pain through sharp cuts and it does that all too well.  Normally you’ll find this kind of wire in rolls (the tape comes like a roll of tape) but it also come in rolls wrapped around another piece of wire to give it some additional rigidity like the piece in the center of the illustration below.  Military concertina wire is made of reinforced razor tape wire.  On a serious note:  from what I understand it may be illegal to use razor wire in some states or counties.  Check your local laws and make sure you’re not doing breaking them if you put razor wire up pre-SHTF.  Razor tape isn’t as common as it used to be for one reason – it is pretty much unmanageable once deployed.  Good for long term single use once deployed but moving and reusing it is more work and pain than I’d ever care to deal with. Razor wire also has varying types of barbs – the “NATO” type which the military uses has much less aggressive barbs than other types.  Don’t let it fool you – it’s still pretty painful to get wrapped up in.

But what about electric fences?  Good idea.  Every gotten popped by one? It’s a deterrent.  And although it may not be feasible to rely on grid power to run one even a solar powered charger can give a decent enough zap to slow someone down (and make them yell) if they’re trying to get through your fence or obstacle.  Hell even an unpowered line that looks hot encountered after a live one is enough to slow a threat down and make them pause as they approach it.  During this series as I address electric fence lines you’ll see me call them “zap lines”, “hot wires”, etc.

Those are the most basic types of wire we’ll be using in the blog.  yeah there are others and truth be told I won’t even begin to try and imagine all of the different types of wire available.  For the series we’re using the ones I illustrated above.

Now there is one more thing in this entry I want to address and it’s a configuration of wire.  Remember above I referred to military concertina wire.  It’s good to know that “concertina” is the design and not the wire type itself.  Concertina means that the wire is assembled to be deployed from rolls along the end of the roll instead of the side kind of like a Slinky.  It’s designed to be somewhat portable and fairly faster to emplace than a regular wire fence.  Concertina wire is made from several different types of wire including barbwire and razor wire.  Although most military concertina is made from reinforced razor wire nowadays originally it was handmade in the field out of barbwire by troops.  Military concertina can be found at surplus auctions sold as scrap and in some states can be bought at Co-Ops.  So let’s say we haven’t found any concertina or it’s unavailable in our area.  What can we do?  Make our own.  You’ll need some tools for this one.  First up is a good heavy set of gloves.  If you’re dealing with barbwire then a good heavy set of leather gloves will suffice.  If you’re dealing with razor wire or tape then you’ll want something a little better.  The military version are some seriously heavy leather gloves with metal staples embedded in the palms and fingers.   Next up you’ll need a good set of wire or fence pliers (aka hognose pliers) – you’re going to be bending and crimping a lot so the bigger the better.  Of course you’ll need some kind of wire but you also need another roll to cut , crimp, and hold the rolls together (I’ll refer to this as tying wire).  You’ll also want some kind of rope to hold the rolls together once you have them assembled.  One final tool you will need is a drum, tub, or other uniformly round object to serve as sort of a template.  That’ll give you some uniformity and help make the task a lot easier.  Ideally you want something big enough to give you at least a 36″ diameter loop.

In this example I’m going to use barbwire because it’s common and can be had for cheap (see the I’m a cheap bastage entry for some ways to get it almost free).  Anyway the first step is to run a loop of wire loosely around our drum.  Then where it overlaps itself you’ll take another piece of wire and crimp it together and then cut behind it a few inches and bend that back over itself. You don’t have to necessarily cut it (you can crimp and make it out of one continuous roll as you go) You should now have a barbwire loop. Slide it up over the drum and set it aside.  Continue doing that until you run out of wire or think you have enough.  At that point you’ll take a loop and lay it on another loop and using your tying wire and hognose pliers join those two loops together with two crimped pieces of tying wire 180 degrees from each other.  Next place another loop on top of the first two and join it to the first two by crimp two  tying wires 180 degrees out from the first two.  Continue doing this making sure you alternate the crimping points between each set.  If the wire starts to become unmanageable you can tie them together as you assemble them with something as cheap as monofilament fishing line to help keep them in place.  It also helps to compress the roll you’re creating as you go along to make it more manageable – a 2×4 across the coil with some knee pressure should work.  Once you’ve finished you’ll end up with a coil that looks like a giant barbwire slinky.  You’ll also want to run a couple of pieces of rope through the entire assembly to hold it together until you get it to where you want to deploy it.  Laying and taping down these ropes and the monofilament lines out ahead of assembly makes the task much easier.  It’s not easy nor efficient but it is an alternative if you can’t get your hands on the real deal.

One expedient source for a tangled mess of wires that nobody seems to think about is the remains of tires once they’ve been burnt – especially steel belted radials.  Although you probably don’t want to bother with trying to sort it out a half dozen burnt out tires in and long a trail can create one helluva mess for anyone that happens to get caught up in them.  Take a look at the pic below and imagine walking into and getting hung up in it in the middle of the night – not a pleasant prospect at all. Add some broken bottles to it along with a few spiked boards and caltrops and this thing is flat out nasty if you have to deal with it.

So we’ve covered the most common types of wire we’ll be using along with a basic how-to make your own concertina.  In the next entry we’ll be looking at employing some of these obstacles and how to get creative employing them.   In the meantime if you’re looking for a source for military wire The DRMO auction site is a good place to start – it takes some searching but you should be able to find an auction near your area.  It’s hit or miss but from my experience surplus/scrap wire comes up more often than not.

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Defense: Obstacles Part VII: Dealing With Sikorsky’s Toys

I’ve been asked in more than one email to address ways to counter helicopters inserting in your Area of Operations (AO).  I’m of the belief if you’re dealing with a helo threat then it’s probably a good time to shag out.  Truth be told it’s going to be pretty hard to develop passive defense measures to counter a helo insertion threat.  Remember: we’re covering passive defense measures – active ones come later on.  Helos are highly mobile and vertical insertion techniques allow a threat to put boots on the ground in a matter of minutes.  The element of surprise is why the military along with more and more law enforcement agencies are employing vertical insertion via helo.  Given the operating characteristics and capabilities of the platforms themselves  it’s going to be almost impossible to completely block their ingress and insertion.  Think about it for a second – you’re typically going to be contending with a platform capable of flight that can appear over an area and insert multiple people into a confined space while hovering at a hundred feet.  Is all lost?  No you can hamper that platforms ingress by denying it easy access while at the same time creating a battlespace that allows you to channel it’s cargo – the dismounted threat.

By now if you haven’t noticed I’m not addressing attack aviation (aka attack helos) here. Why?  Realistically they can and will stand off exploiting their capabilities which allows them a degree of protection and mutual support that most obstacle types aren’t suitable to counter.  Nope this entry is going to address cargo birds – they kind that deliver people.

To counter any threat capability you have to understand it’s operational characteristics and limitations.  Helos use three types of flight paths when they ingress.  Those three being Low Level, Contour, and Nap of Earth (NoE) which are illustrated below.

Common sense dictates as an aircraft flies lower it’s collision risk increases which is why you will often see aircraft fly level until the situation dictates they fly either contour or NoE.  Also the competency level of pilots is directly correlated to their echelon type.  Pilots from the 160th Spec Ops Aviation Regiment are going to be light years ahead of pilots from the San Diego Sheriff’s Office in terms of skills and proficiency.  Where the 160th jocks may get to practice NoE routinely under blackout conditions using night vision trying to scare the living bejeezus out of their cargo most of the civilian pilots out there don’t get the same level of practice simply because it’s dangerous and creates huge liabilities.  Anyway pilots will also use terrain masking during flight to hide their presence.  The better the pilot the more they will exploit the terrain.  Study the illustration below for a second:

I’ve presented three flight paths as indicated by the colored lines.  The yellow line presents a low level or possibly even contour flight path to the objective (the LZ or assault location) however it also allows the aircraft to be seen for the longest period of time given the altitude required to clear the ridgeline.  The white line reduces the amount of exposure time by coming in using contour or NoE flight along the cliff and doesn’t come into view until it breaks that spur on the eastern edge.  Better but not the best.  The flight path indicated by the red line using contour and NoE while being masked by the ridgeline until it crosses the northern edge of that terrain feature gives it the least amount of exposure time – which reduces the amount of reaction time for anyone on the objective.  In reality you would probably see both the red and white line used.  Remember anywhere there’s multiple paths to an objective the threat is more than likely to exploit them so don’t develop tunnel vision focusing on one area.

So what can we do about this?  Let’s make some of that terrain work for us.  years ago I had a good friend and drinking buddy that was a pilot in the 160th who had struck a host nations communications wire strung across a valley during a training mission.  He was in low level flight using terrain masking at the time and it damaged his bird bad enough to force an emergency landing – creating a mess for the mission commander to have to deal with.  Wire strikes are a leading cause of rotary wing crashes every year especially in military helos.  Something as simple as a hundred bucks worth of wire strung across a valley incapacitated a multimillion dollar bird.   One of those birds has an emergency and as I wrote you’ve complicated any plan the threat may have had. Complicate it bad enough and he may have to scrub to regroup and try again.

For SnG let’s look at the typical run-in to a landing zone for an actual landing.  Once again given proficiency levels we’ll take the best bet guess – the active military requirement.  Plan for that and everything else should be covered.   Planning dictates that you should have a minimum of 30 meters from a Blackhawk (35 for a twin rotor like the Chinook) landing zone that is obstacle free.  This includes keeping the aircraft at least 35 meters away from tree lines.   Now typically when an aerial assault is going to happen by aircraft that actually land they will choose a landing zone (LZ) away from their objective but close enough for their cargo to still assault without covering a long distance.  Now it’s time to go back to the terrain and take another look at it and its surrounding terrain as well.  Using the factors above you want to identify any location in your AO that is a minimum of 60 meters in diameter cleared and fairly level without tree cover for another 5 meters past that.

So now that we’ve identified those LZs what can we do about them?  An easy fix is to put an obstacle in that breaks that area.  Something as simple as a ten to fifteen foot pole with guide wires running out to the surrounding tree lines ruins a landing site.   If you have a stock tank a windmill would be a good obstacle that wouldn’t be questioned.  Rule of thumb: the taller and more wires the better.  Similarly if you have a suitable landing site near a bridge that has a superstructure running guide wires out from it to posts in the ground will accomplish the same thing.  Use your creativity to disrupt any clear area working from the inner part of your AO to the outer part.  How far is far enough?  It really depends on the threat you anticipate.  If a Sheriff’s Office is going to raid you but can’t find an LZ within 2 kilometers then chances are they do it in ground vehicles instead.  A highly trained military force?  You aren’t going to be able to push them far enough out to deter them.

OK we’ve taken care of some of the ways they ingress and landing zones.  What next?  The next threat would be from rope insertions (rappelling and fast roping).  I’ll state it again – a Blackhawk can swoop in and drop a squad on your rooftop in a minute.  There’s not a lot you can do to counter this type of tactic  other than creating clutter and adding obstacles in areas and locations you believe that rope insertions would occur.  As always don’t create cover for a threat when laying in clutter.  A wise man might leave one area open that he could use as an observed fire zone that would seem to be a sweet LZ for insertion.  This is where wire obstacles could come into play – and we’ll be getting to them shortly.

What about tree lines and dense woods?  Yup they can be roped into – I’ve done it and hated the hell out of it.  There’s not a whole lot you can realistically do to counter that tactic.  Instead focus on the approaches to your homestead from logical insertion sites using the same basic logic the threat will.  That being if there’s a clear place to insert away from the objective versus taking a risk and inserting into dense clutter that route will be used almost every time.  Especially by a less trained and competent threat.

As always use your imagination tempered with a realistic approach and threat analysis.  Get the gears grinding and next time you’re out and running around in your AO look at those clearings and think about how you could spoil a helo insertion.

For those that are screaming for more active types of countermeasure Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) there’s a couple of books you can dig into:

The Canadian Army has a volume entitled All Arms Air Defense that’s a good little read.

Additionally the US Army published a manual entitled Combined Arms for Air Defense.

Also there is a book entitled Guerrilla Air Defense: Antiaircraft Weapons And Techniques For Guerrilla Forces by James D. Crabtree- an actual Air Defense Officer – published by Paladin Press.  I’ve read it and although I’m not fond of a lot of the examples in the book (fixing an automatic weapon to a stump in a cleared area doesn’t strike me as such a great idea along with some others in this book) it does serve as a decent primer for Air Defense theory.  I think it’s out of print however as always Google is a good bet.

Posted in Defensive Measures, Hardening the Homestead, Security Planning, Terrain and AO Development | Leave a comment

The Wave: Bugging Out? Some Things To Think About

This is going to be the first entry in sort of a parallel topic series I’ll be covering about people from outside the tribe moving into and through your area.  I had intended to do it separately later on however after having breakfast with some young’uns this morning I want to capture some of my thoughts before I forget them.   This isn’t necessarily intended for the rural folks but those urban types planning to hit the road when it gets bad.  Face it – over the last year or two prepping has become semi-mainstream.  With even big box stores like Wally-World and Costco selling premade kits and buckets of preps it’s a become kind of a legitimate thing to do.  Yeah the majority of the sleeping still scoff at it and spend their money on golf clubs and iPhones and other tchotckys but more and more people are waking up and that’s a good thing.  I had the pleasure this morning of sitting down with #3 son and a few of his friends over breakfast and the subject of prepping and bugging out came up.  And where it went really got me thinking.  Hopefully some of the points I’m going to make will get your gears turning as well if you prep or plan to bug out or know someone similar to the twenty-something’s I describe in this entry.

I’ll tell you straight up front:  If SHTF I already have a plan and the resources in place to support my immediate family returning with a little extra and they already have their bug out plan to get home.  The ranch is our rallying point.  My youngest son is pretty proud of his planning and his skills (He’s a kick ass kid for 21) and during the conversation one of his friends (we’ll call him Jeffy) asked if he could come along with him and his fiance.  I looked him in the eye and asked him if he was serious.  “Yeah – I got no other plans and my parents live overseas now” was what his answer boiled down to.  So I thought for a second and asked him a few questions.  I’ll present those questions and the basic answers I got:

Q: Do you own a rifle, know how to use it, and have any experience with it? A: No.

Q: Do you own any kind of weapons? A: A Samurai Katana (ohhh-kay).

Q: Any military experience at all?  Stand guard, etc..? A: No nothing beyond video games (more ohhh-kay).

Q: Do you have any kind of medical training? A: No.

Q: Have you ever had a garden or raised any kind of livestock or poultry? A: No.

Q: Can you run two miles nonstop? A: I don’t know (I take that as a no).

Q: What are you studying in college? A: Liberal Arts.

Q: Have you ever seen a dead person or torn up person really close – like within 3 feet? A: Yes (Finally!), at a funeral (welp so much for that).

So I had to break it down to one big question – “What do you have to offer?”  The answer I got was a rather roundabout explanation of how he has a funny personality, plays guitar, is a computer genius, etc.  It all boils down to this – he has absolutely jack in the way of skills or resources to contribute so he would be a burden.  And once I broke that news to him and told him he wouldn’t have a meal card at the ranch he was kind of shocked.  Keep reading.

One of the gals (call her Betty) in the group really seemed to have her stuff together.  She went in depth into what she has in a ready backpack along with some skills she’s picked up.  Her plan is to grab her gear and shag out of the dorms.  I was pretty impressed as she described her gear and the skills she was actually learning and practicing (real down and dirty survival skills like making fire, purifying water, foraging, etc).   What she wasn’t talking about was what happens when she gets where she’s going.  Here’s the gist of it:

Q: So without going into detail you’ve got a bug out location?  A: No just a direction – South.

Q: What’s South?  A: Farms and stuff.

Q: Do you have any of those skills I asked Jeffy about? A: No.

At that point I didn’t need to go into further detail as everyone sort of came to the same conclusion themselves of what she has to offer- and it wasn’t a pretty conclusion for her.

I asked one of my sons other friends (call him Fred) what he planned to do.  No plan.  No preps.  Any skills or experience?  Four years as a combat medic in the 101st  and now he’s going to school to study nursing on the GI Bill.  Bingo!  I told Fred he was more than welcome if he wanted but needed to figure it out and start getting his gear together and let me know ASAP.  And so the bitching, whining, crying, calls of “No Fair”, “You’re prejudiced because he was in the Army” began.  And once I got these twenty-something’s quiet I broke it down to them – nothing is fair when it comes to life and death and especially post SHTF.  If you have nothing to offer in the way of skills or materials you’re a burden until you can be taught something useful (and doing the laundry and cleaning the house isn’t all that useful when you’re scraping by).  The time for teaching may not be available.  If you show up at someone’s farm or ranch looking for a handout you may get some charity…or you may get a load of buckshot.

Now I’m not one to leave a problem without a solution.  I broke it down to these young people and left them thinking about what and how they could have an insurance policy.  The facts are based on some simple truths:

  • If you have no skills or resources you’ll be a burden on whoever you wind up staying with.  Get a skill.
  • You can get robbed of everything you have but if you have a critical skill that can’t be taken away unless they kill you.
  • Think about what skills you need to learn.  Some skills will be in serious demand in rural areas- medical skills, labor skills (welders, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, good mechanics) and anything dealing with agriculture or animal husbandry.  Others will be probably be utterly useless (things like X-Box champions, rappers, computer gurus, the assorted flavors of liberal artists, political science majors, and lawyers).
  • It’s a good idea to pre-stash stuff at wherever you’re going if you trust the people you’re going to stay with.  If you don’t trust them why are you going there in the first place?
  • If you plan to leave where you are you need to have a destination – and you don’t need to show up uninvited.  Failing to coordinate your arrival/return may buy you a one-way ticket down the road. If you’re a burden (see above) you’ll probably be asked then told to leave.
  • Fail to have a destination and you have planned to fail.  “I’m going to go hang out in the national forest” sounds good at first but hanging out in the woods for a couple of years like Bear Grilles isn’t a good insurance policy unless you plan on not getting seriously hurt, not freezing to death, or accidentally being shot by a hunter.  Which brings me to a final point.
  • If you plan on hanging out in somebody’s woods and stealing from gardens and poaching livestock plan on dying.  You may not even be doing those things but if it’s been going on and you’re there you’re guilty.  You’ll see signs that say things like “Posted”.  That means stay the hell out.

There were two young people in the group that kind of concerned me.  The first was a young girl who nonchalantly said she’d just screw for survival.  I’ll reserve my judgment of the effectiveness of that plan.  The other was a rather smart kid who said he’d go back to his parents.  His parents happen to live in an affluent neighborhood in Chicago.  IMHO he might ought to go ahead and just buy a bus ticket to Baghdad.  Hell less people are dying there than Chicago nowadays anyway.

Some people may wonder if the “Patriot movement folks” or the “III%” would be welcome.  They bring something very tangible to the table.  A lot like those “Brightstars” in Rhodesia they offer security when they are around and can even be helpful taking care of “problems”.  Think about a band of dirtbags coming in to raid your homestead and ending up facing a group of five or six guys trained and armed.  So before you tell them to take a hike consider the benefit of allowing them to lager, stage, cache, hide, or E&E in your area. With some careful thinking and basic steps you can minimize the physical evidence of their presence in your immediate area. IMHO it’s more of an advantage to have them around even if it’s just temporary.

Now I have no illusions that all of these young people I mentioned above will think and act.  Some will, some won’t.  And if STHF some will survive, and some will die.  But the old saying still applies:  Fail to plan plan to fail.  Or in this case fail to plan plan to die.

Posted in Building and Developing Tribe, General Info | Leave a comment