Threat: When Do We Start To Sweat?

First off if you ain’t sweating already then you’re likely still asleep so maybe the question should really be “When do we really start sweating?  If the Who part didn’t wake you up then I dunno what will.  Anyway in this entry I’m going to do some wargaming and get a best guesstimation of when the threat will increase to the point of “Constant Significance”.  Constant Significance, WTF is that?  That’s the point you need to address it and be concerned constantly – in other words expect to get hit.

For this entry I’m going to do a bit of wargaming.  Wargaming is basically a system whereby you run a given scenario out with known and assumed information to determine logical outcomes.  The phrase “Conflict Simulation” might be more appropriate there but  we’re sticking to wargaming for now.

Right off the bat:  I’m presenting an example here.  It’s not intended to be ultra-realistic.  It does use information I know to be true however it also assumes things I haven’t completely fleshed out yet.  Normally before you begin wargaming you try to exhaust all of your Intel sources to reduce your guesses to as close to none as possible.  The more you have to guess then the more you need to assume your model is going to be flawed.  Also this model uses what I call a “Civil Disturbance” model.  There’s others, i.e. a Patriot Stand, .Gov crackdown, etc.  And when I refer to .Gov in this model I refer to all branches – the Military, DoJ, DHS, etc. ad naseum.

With that out of the way let’s set this up.  I’m throwing an assumed date out – Day Zero.  An event has occurred that will trigger widespread rioting and chaos.  TSHTF in the majority of large urban centers with populations over 25k and spreads to towns as small as 10k.  So let’s look at the example timeline.

Notice our left boundary is our Day Zero.  Widespread rioting and looting has broken out.  It’s a known that initially LEOs and National Guard will respond (a historically proven fact).  An assumption I make here is that due to the size, number, and operational tactics of the Violent Groups (VGs)  we indexed that those forces alone probably won’t be able to contain it.   Now you notice that yellow bar that turns red labeled “Threat Lethality”?  That is an index we establish of how lethal any given threat could be to us at any point in time.  You have to take into account your tribes readiness in coming up with that.  Balance the threat capabilities vs. your own.  So after about two weeks I assume the numerically superior VGs will most likely gain initial dominance.  That’s a trigger point at which I’m predicting El POTUS would declare the Insurrection Act and send in the .Gov – sometime roughly between Day 15 and Day 20 at the latest.  Notice at Day 20 our lethality index jumped from Amber to Red?  That’s because we have to assume that our VGs are now in control of some of the equipment that the LEO and NG forces had.  Doing some digging I found out that the National Guard Armory in my lil ‘ol town is a Headquarters unit not equipped with anything heavier than softskin HMMWVs but they do have a substantial arms room.  Bad juju.  At this point we can expect the authorities established localized curfews, checkpoints and such to pretty much just fall the hell apart until the .Gov forces try to assume them.

Anyhow – during this time I’m  also assuming those neat bastions of man known as the cities are being picked clean and burnt out – I used how long it took large sections of LA to go to shit during those riots as a quasi model for the time estimation.  This will likely create some waves of refugees trying to GTFO before they become casualties.  Awesome – that’s another issue we have to deal with (I’ve got an entry in the que for that).  And with those urban centers being picked clean and the .Gov trying to deploy and contain violence plus deal with refugees it’s going to be ugly – imagine the debacle that was Katrina a thousand fold with stretched thin federal agencies tripping over each other and in the midst of that insanity our VGs not only facing them but beginning to strike out from those urban centers (even possibly completely displacing) to satisfy their needs.  So from our perspective Day 15 on looks pretty damn horrible.   With the cities and most larger towns trashed we can pretty well assume that urban resettlement operations should be a given and is probably going to be the .Govs  focus.  So if our VGs have struck out to the rural areas we need to be ready.  That’s the logic behind going from Amber to Red.

Wargaming further I would estimate there’s a possibility that the .Gov manages to get shit under control at around D30.  So there might be some stability around then but what could be the worst case scenario?  Martial Law and possibly even a UN Peacekeeping presence.

Now I throw a monkey wrench in the works.  Shit has gotten bad enough that the Militia and Patriot movement get offa their asses and begin to defend their areas and conduct attacks against the VGs.  Given the nature of the Patriot Movement and the topic of “Resettlement Operations” I just can’t fathom that they would go after VGs alone so that is the point I assume that the threat becomes truly asymmetric with multiple forces going against each other.  That could possibly alleviate some of our threat or it could increase it.  Better to stay wired for sound eh?

Now at D45 to 90 I let the timeline go.  There’s no real telling how long things could play out.  But we can assume so logical outcomes:

The first is that there’s a possibility the .Gov forces gain and achieve control.  Once again worst case scenario we’re looking at Martial Law and Peacekeepers.

Secondly there’s also a chance that the presence of the Militia forces could create local and even possibly regional stability.  The outcome of that IMHO is unpredictable however I think the worst case guess is Cooperation with the .Gov forces resulting in Martial Law but I won’t put money on that outcome.  If anything it would likely result in a long grind as things go back and forth.  Not a climate that fosters Liberty.

Finally the uglier side of the picture is that we assume the VGs have managed to gain local or regional dominance.  IMHO at that point I assume they would manage to acquire heavier arms and possibly .Gov  grade armored vehicles.  Although I find it hard to assume they would be able to exert larger than a regional area control this is bad if we’re in that area.  The threat has become paramount and constant.   So we now have VGs controlling some regional areas.  Remember the cities are trashed so at this point there’s a good possibility that the .Gov would try to begin Rural resettlement ops to remove folks from what it would consider the threat area.   Shit just keeps getting deeper, eh?

Well this rosy fricking picture is our example assumption of “When”.  And that’s just based off of one instigating scenario.  Do your homework, gather your intel, flesh out the Ws (Who, What, Where, When, and the motivation behind said groups gives you your Why) and try developing your own timelines through wargaming.  Always assume the worst and always assume time is not your friend.

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Threat: What are We Dealing With?

In the last entry we established a focus area to narrow down our intelligence gathering efforts on four types of threats which gave us our “Where”.  Those four types of threats and a little research gives us our “Who”.  Now we need to look at the “What” aspect of it.  There are some very simple questions we’re going to use that may not necessarily have simple answers.   Something along the lines of:

1.  What is the primary basis for any given groups existence/function?

2.  What violent actions or patterns of actions has each individual group been known to conduct?

3.   What type of offensive capabilities do we know/assume the threat has?

4.  What is the probability that we’ll eventually have to deal with “X” group?

5. What is our tribes visibility and impression to the threat?

Those are four simple questions  that are going to have some complex analysis applied to them.  I’m not going way into the weeds with this one but my goal here is to get you to think in an analytical manner when looking at your threat.

The first thing up is the primary basis for existence.  Any given threat organizes to serve several purposes.  Knowing what your threats reason for existence is helps to give insight into what motivates them.   Criminal enterprises including gangs and larger organizations normally exist and are motivated for the following reasons:

1.  Survival of the organization.

2.  Security of the members and its “turf” or operational area.

3.  Security of any means of production (i.e. drug trade, etc.)

4.  Sense of belonging and self-esteem through power.

For some further reading on why gangs (and other types of this organization exist) there’s an excellent online book by Mike Carlie Ph.D titledInto the Abyss“.  Although it’s focus is on street gangs much of the psychology can be readily transferred to other types of organizations as well.

When looking for patterns of violence or violent actions one doesn’t have to dig too far.  A quick Google of “Loz Zetas Violence” or “MS13 tactics” yields more results than you can care for.  What we want to do  here is identify what type of tactics certain groups within our AO normally employ.  Things like drive by shootings, or kidnappings, firebombings, or using IEDs.  Something you’ll notice is as the threat becomes more sophisticated in its capabilities it’s tactics also follow suit.  A run of the mill violent street gang may not employ fire and maneuver however a group of cartel Narcos Soldados most surely will.   It’s interesting to note that even as a threat becomes more sophisticated and develops a sound tactical operational art they may not necessarily drop lower tech tactics.  Those same narco cartels still conduct drive by shootings.   A good technique to flesh this kind of info out is to do some good old fashioned research and “Waffle House” intel gathering.  Pay particular attention to events like carjackings, drive by shootings, home invasions, arsons, increases in random sporadic violence (especially directed against authorities),  large drug busts – including meth labs, etc.

Now comes the fun part – determining the threats offensive capabilities.  Right up front don’t assume any type of threat is going to be lacking in firepower.  If I can Google lightning link and order an FA bolt carrier then so can any other dirtbag on the net.  Those same .pdf files everyone downloads are also widely available to the threat forces as well.  See that pic up top? Well those ain’t water balloons.  You need to assume that the threat has the capability to employ serious firepower including automatic weapons, explosives, and possibly even ad hoc armored vehicles.  Ehh?  Naw surely they won’t employ bombs.  Yup – there’s been a couple of instances just this year of IEDs being found in busts and even attempted IED attacks against cops and rival gangs in Oklahoma, California, and Georgia.  There’s a simple truth here – all four of the types of violent organizations I outlined in the last entry have increased their lethality exponentially over the last five to ten years.  Gang members are well documented in the military.   Hamas has a known presence in Mexico cooperating with the Narco-cartels.

Take a gander at this flyer that describes methods criminal organizations use that enhance their readiness through different type of training.  

So this is probably an easy one – assume any ground based capability can and will be employed by all violent organizations.  For the time being it’s pretty safe to assume that only the more sophisticated and resourced violent elements can afford and field things like air support.  That’s going to change in the near future as RC and drone technology proliferate and drive costs down.  More on drones later down the road.

So what is the probability we’ll run into “X” organization?  This bleeds over a bit into the “Where” area but IMHO it’s directly attributable to three things:  Proximity, Visibility, and Appearance/Impression.    Logically the closer you are to any given threat the more likely you are to encounter it.  If your nearest town is contested between two or more violent organizations then it’s more likely you’ll encounter the one nearest you – it’s human nature to take the path of least resistance and rather than cross through and raid or attack a location those elements will most likely work outwards from their location.

You visibility and impression play into the probability of an encounter as well.  Common sense dictates if your tribe is highly visible and gives the impression that your little rural community is doing extremely well after the SHTF you’ll be a much more likely target.  Especially if you seem like a soft target (one that is barely defended or disorganized).  This is where OPSEC is critical and you need the understanding among all of the Tribe members that information in any way shape or form about your tribe shouldn’t be discussed outside of the tribe and it’s members at all.  The slightest slip could put you on the radar – think about what would happen if a starving band of heavily armed gangbangers finds out you’re fat dumb and happy when the urban jungle isn’t giving them what they need?  Bad juju there.

You’re going to notice I keep going back to OPSEC in the blog.  It’s that damn important and IMHO it just can’t be stressed enough.  People like to talk and it’s going to be a challenge to get them to curb that instinct.

Do your homework, do your legwork, but whatever you do don’t assume that you’ll never have to deal with threats like these.  Society has fostered a false sense of security among folks that “Oh that’ll never happen to me” and I’ve heard that over and over again in a lot of reports from victims of organized violent groups.

In the next entry we’re going to jump into the “When” aspect of analyzing our threat.  Although it’s a lot of speculation I’m going to introduce you to the concept of “wargaming” from the threats perspective.  In the meantime here’s a few links to dig into for your enlightenment:

The BJA National Gang Centers Publications page has a ton of pubs to dig through.

The Borderland Beat is an excellent site that gives you a lot of info on the drug trade fueled violence along the border including profiles of the cartels.

The Spanish language site Blog Del Narco is what I consider to be one of the best sources of info.  Google Translate is your friend.

Here’s a couple of reports from The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) on Narco Cartels that are worth the read:

The FAS CRS Report to Congress on the Narco-Cartels

Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Rising Violence  

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has a lot of really generic info on racially radial groups in the US.  Not a big fan of them because they fail to cite any of the radical Jewish groups in the US (yes they exist) but once again, your tax dollars are helping to fund them so you might as well get some use out of it.

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Threat: Fleshing The Picture Out

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle” – Sun Tzu

We’re going to jump into an area we have only briefly touched on and start to flesh the threat picture out.  What is a Threat?  Simply put the Threat is any element with ill intentions toward any part of your tribe or families, friendly tribes or entities, or even the outside world.  In this entry we’re going into the Who and Where part of identifying the threat.   Right off the bat I’m going to break what I consider the  threat into four categories:

Gangs – Criminal groups that identify with popular gang type culture and center around a certain groups influence and position within the culture.  i.e. Crips, MS13, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, etc.  This will also include violent ad hoc groups that form after SHTF.

Serious Criminal Enterprises – Criminal organizations that are structured to produce profit in an illegal manner that use illegal means (often force) to achieve their goals. Narco-Cartels like Los Zetas, etc.

Radical groups – Groups or organizations that have a radical ideology that they wish to spread or force on others.  i.e. The Aryan Nation, The Muslim Brotherhood, The Nation of Islam, The New Black Panthers, etc.

Organized Forces – Forces either governmental or private that posses the capability to employ a trained military presence to implement orders or instructions from a designated authority.

Is this all as clear cut as that?  Hell no.  Let’s use Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) as an example.  It’s lower level members form together and act as a gang.  However it is networked internationally like a serious criminal enterprises with ties to the Narco Cartels and also has ties to radical organizations like La Raza.  The organizations can spread across the spectrum of those groups at a lot of different levels.

What’s the exception?  Organized forces.  Most often they are federal, state, or local (can be contracted as well – i.e. Xe or whatever name they are using this week) and may not possess an immediate threat to the tribe (this is an analysis piece folks – don’t go into the weeds on how our rights are being infringed.  I’m aware of it).   They may later on become a Hostile Force if they attempt to remove members of our tribe or their property from either Tribal or Familial control.  I’m holding off on going into organized forces for now so don’t dwell on them.

Are these groups really a threat?  Well hell yeah.  They already are a formed and armed tribes with a command and control system in place.  Most of the folks in those types of organizations I listed take an oath that it’s group above family.  This IMHO is what makes them such a danger.  If the LEOs and .mil jump to ship to protect their own families these threats will remain and in the absence of any authority to challenge them will no doubt grow in both size and force.

OK we’ve broken the threat down into four basic categories.  But we need to find out what organizations that fit those identities exist in and around our AO.  IMHO the most logical way to define our focus area is to start with your AO in the center and draw a line connecting every city with greater than a 2500 person population around your AO and focus on that area.  If it’s less than 20 miles then bump past it to the next one.  Here’s an example map assuming our AO is located just outside of McRae Georgia.

That gives us our Where.  Now we need to identify the Who.  Honestly there are some good sources for what are known criminal activities within our AO.  The FBI gang report, Fusion center products, hell even the Southern Poverty Lie Center puts out maps.  A lot of the State Police websites will contain things like known gang information, Uniform Crime Reports, etc.  Look at all sources and don’t discount any of them even if you disagree with them (i.e. the SPLC).  Also don’t forget to get out and drive those cities.  Look for those territory tags, those Cuts guys are wearing on bikes, etc.  If you come up dry then at least take a look at the FBI 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment.  In the back it has known gangs and criminal organizations broken down by state and that’ll give you some groups to work with.

So we need to look at the actual activity these groups are conducting inside of our “focus area” and we need to identify and develop as many sources of information as possible.  So try to track down any incident in the towns and cities along the ring and inside of our “Focus Area” using any and all sources and track them (remember Tools for Fools?).  Some of those sources could be:

Newspaper articles

Television reports

Scanner traffic

Word of mouth (got Waffle House?)

Police reports (including press reports)

Federal, State, and Local Uniform Crime Reports

Open Source Intel (Public Intelligence is a damn good site)

Those are just examples.  But use every source you can get your hands on.  I’ll tell you right now – if you ask the local PDs gang guy what the threat is in your area he’ll probably be more than happy to fill you in.  They like to talk about their work and although he may not give you any specifics if you walk away with a list of criminal organizations in your area you’ll have benefited.  Use the tools while we’re still paying for them.

Now I’m going to throw you a curveball.  Let’s jump back to our Tribal AO.  Jim down the road just outside of our Tribal boundary is a member of a bike club listed as a known violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang by the Fibbies.  There’s never been any issues at all with his presence – quite the opposite he keeps low and quiet.  I’ll be frank with you here – he’s a threat in our area.  He may not be a problem for now  but when his Cut brothers show up to hole up at his place you now have a concentrated threat in your area.  One that if you ignore will most likely bite you in the ass.  And it doesn’t have to be an OMG.  It could be the crazy skinhead dude, whatever.  That person and location should have just become your immediate concern.  How you deal with it is up to you and yours.  IMHO you need to watch your timing and keep a serious eye on the location and people at a bare minimum.

Next entry we’re going to cover the What portion of the Threat.  In the meantime here’s some links to do some research.

The Public Intelligence Center – An EXCELLENT source of info.  Spend some time going through their documents.  It’s worth it.

The DoJ Organized Crime and Gang Center

The SPLC Info Center

I want to address that last link.  I’m not a fan of the SPLC.  IMHO they’re shit is entirely too lefty liberally biased and they like to create and over sensationalize Caucasian male boogeymen to support their ties to the current Marxist administration.  But  you use their info as raw data for locations and such and throw the vast majority of their opinion in the toilet where it belongs.  Personally I think Morris Dees and his crowd are full of shit for not including guys like Shabaz on their “baddie list”  Fuck ’em.  Your taxpayer dollars are helping to fund them so you might as well get something out of it.

/Rant off

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Building Tribe: Some Motivation

WRSA bumps an article by Jeff T. at JWRs site,  Read it.  This is relevant because this is the kind of threat you’ re going to see once the urban areas have been picked clean or the dirtbags go looking for easier prey.  Just substitute the word Tribe for Retreat.

BTW about the pic.  That was a young gentleman from the Juarez Mexico Police Department captured by Los Zetas within 1 mile of the US border.  His head was eventually found along with a few others.  Recognize the danger and remember:  Overestimating is always safer than underestimating.

As CA says – Tempis Fugit!

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Building Tribe: The Rule of Law vs. The Rule of Honor

In the last entry I posed a question – “What good is our Micro Republic without law?”.  In this entry I’ll discuss the rule of law vs. the rule of honor.  A concept in the prepper community is a world Without the Rule Of Law (WROL).  When it becomes a WROL tribes are going to face challenges.  One of those challenges is the choice of whether to try and retain existing laws or abandon them.  This entry is going to dig into that concept a bit and examine some historical examples along with how a tribe might implement its own set of laws.

As I stated before we’re assuming the proverbial feces have hit the rotary oscillator and the world forgot to duck.  Never mind 911 the phone lines no longer work and any RFD (Rural Fire Department) has been raided for its equipment.  Yup, we’re still on our own. So what now?

Examining history teaches us one important fact.  That without laws groups of men and even cultures normally resort to a “Culture of Honor”.  Sounds cool, right – Honor and all.  Not exactly.  The honor that  those men and cultures resorted to was not the honor you see all the patriot movement and liberty bloggers write about.   The cultures of honor that emerged and existed were the ones that gave birth to the concept of standing as determined by possessions (which creates an Aristocratic class that eventually becomes beyond reach of the honor law) and the notion that inspiring fear forms a better strategy than promoting kinship; and the concept that creating a reputation for swift and disproportionate retaliation increases the safety of one persons family and property.  As an example look at the western Land Baron that perceived a wrong for smaller ranchers grazing their cattle on his property.  The land baron had the resources through hired hands to beat, rob, and burn the smaller ranchers out – and they had no repercussions because of their lack of resources.  The fundamental reason cultures and groups with their foundation in this kind of rule of honor collapse easily because that honor concept is so easily perverted for one parties gain and the other members eventually revolt against those that have morally wronged them.  Another aspect of the historical rule of honor is the emergence of “Honor Killing” – think Sharia law on that one.

The cultural “Rule of Honor” most folks nowadays refer to is more similar to Bushido (which eventually transformed in Japanese Feudal Law) or the Chivalric Code.  And those codes of honor are more like laws unto their subject group than the “rule of honor” which has historically arisen in cultures lacking the rule of law.

Now within the tribe it’s going to be a given that there is no real equality when it comes to some families holdings vs. others.  And if we want a really cohesive tribe we need to have equity among the tribe members.  So the historical rule of honor is out (that doesn’t mean we can’t act with honor as an individual or tribal attribute) and for SnG we’ve decided to establish our “Tribal Council” of the ten representatives from the families within the AO to have responsibility for our Tribal Security, Health, and Welfare.  We also need some form of the rule of law to apply to our tribe and it’s members.   But what laws and what punishments?  Do we keep the existing ones or develop our own?  Those are questions you are going to have to sort out within your tribe taking into account your common morals, ethics, and beliefs.  IMHO If you plan on developing a model it should be simple and not ultra restrictive – we’re going to be living in a world that our common set of laws nowadays may just not suffice in.  We also need a process by which our Tribal Council has to operate within – because don’t ya know dammit even the least little two bit politician is going to let that shit go to their head.   So what I’ve done here is draft a VERY SIMPLE  form of “Constitution” for our tribe.   remember – I’m putting out examples – semper gumby it or choose another method altogether.  This is designed to get you to think.

The Constitution of the Example Tribe

In it we enumerate the rights and responsibilities of the members, due process, our simplified criminal code, our local tribal government, and codify who is responsible for planning and executing what might be atypical in the way of Tribal community functions – Security, Communications, Health, and Welfare.  It doesn’t address some things like Civil issues i.e. marriage, divorce, and such.  It’d be all too easy to plug that stuff in there. But it’s not specific! It doesn’t address threats to the tribe or a whole lotta other stuff!  Truth be told it’s designed to be flexible to allow the Tribe and the council to deal with evolving threats and issues related to those four areas.  We don’t want uber-government telling us how to feed our cat.  What it does do is restrict the council from becoming a corrupt little board of oligarchs.  It does give the families in the Tribe equal representation regardless of holdings and a basic set of laws to help us retain our civility – which without we might as well be the dirtbags driving around raiding homesteads.

Like I stated – it’s far from perfect and only meant as an example.  Semper gumby it, adapt it, make it fit your Tribe and their ideals.

Edit for a link:  There’s a ton of stuff on the Native American Tribal Self-Governance site.  Examples, etc.  You have to dig but there’s some worthwhile reading in there.

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Building Tribe: Someone’s Gotta Be In Charge

I’ve delved into Tribal Politics a bit with the blog and with this entry I’m going to take it one step further.  Let’s say all hell has broken loose.  The shit has really hit the fan.  It’s a few weeks down the road and scanner traffic reveals nothing but random chaotic traffic which leads us to believe that the LEO/EMS radios are no longer in the authorities hands and TPTB have probably gone to protect them and theirs. We’re on our own.

But we’ve done our homework and legwork and have been planning to defend our AO and now it’s time to consolidate the tribe.   History has proven that any group is much stronger with some form of formal leadership organization.  A leadership organization not only gives structure to any effort but it can also ensure that there is unity of that effort.  In this case we’ll say that effort is the survival of our tribe. So how/what do we put together?  I’m going to put one example out and give you a few historical references.  Ultimately it’s up to the tribe what kind of leadership organization forms.  Note I’m not going to go into processes (how things get introduced, decided on, etc.) too much here – that’s material for another entry.

I’m rather partial to the the idea of a “Tribal Council” composed of an adult leader from each family within the AO.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be completely Patriarchal either.  Quite the opposite the council must have female representation as well.  The difference in physical thought processes (it’s been documented) is valuable when it comes to developing and shaping cultural policy.  That is one reason that in the Cherokee tribe the men weren’t allowed to go to war without the consent of the Councils female members.  Tribes have been led by Women – i.e. Wilma Mankiller (former Chief of the Cherokee Nation) and in Africa there are several Matriarchal tribes and cultures.  The complementary thought process of men and women are what make couples that communicate effectively stronger.  And it’d be kind of dumb for us to ignore that fact rather than exploit it.

So we have each family designate one adult to represent them.  And among those adults they elect a primary “Chief/Mayor/Spokesman” (don’t get hung up on gender here) or whatever you want to call it.  Now among this group we also need some representatives for critical aspects of tribal life.  So we designate one person to be in charge of those areas like Medical (got Doc/Vet/PA/LPN/RN?), Security (former LEO/.mil?), Communications (Ham guru?), hell even Education (if you have wee ones).  These aren’t the inclusive areas – I’m sure folks will come up with others but let’s keep it simple for now.  So for the sake of argument let’s say we ended up with ten adults representing the ten families with four of those members representing critical areas – Security, Medical, Communications, and Education.  Don’t sweat it for now – I’ll be touching on processes in a later entry.

Also remember – we’re working with an example here.  Historically small councils or leadership entities have been built along familial (Clan),  religious (sect), or even ethnic lines (caucuses anyone?).  For our example I’m sticking to geographic proximity.  Use what works for you and yours.

Anyway those ten adults now have the responsibility of dealing with everything relating to the security, health, and welfare of the tribe.  By designating an adult representative those families have bought into our concept of a “Micro Representative Republic”.  But what good is a republic without laws?  The answer is it isn’t – it’s pretty worthless actually. And the next entry is where we’ll go into the concept of Tribal Laws and Processes.

By the way – the gent in the pic is the Emperor Norton the 1st.  Rather an interesting and humorous read.

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More on Tribal EEFI and OPSEC

During the entries on comms we briefly touched on two critical concepts: Operational Security (OPSEC) and the Essential Elements of Friendly Information.  Techniques to control Spillage was also covered.  During this entry we’ll look at how EEFI should flow within our AO – whether by comms or other means.  For a quick recap let’s hit the simplified definitions of those terms again:

EEFI – Information about us that we don’t want outsiders to know.

OPSEC- Measures we take to protect EEFI.

Spillage – a loss of OPSEC that allows EEFI to be revealed to outsiders.

Notice I didn’t use the term threat this time instead substituting it for the word outsiders?  Why?  In the simplest terms there are different levels of EEFI and there might often be information that we don’t want others that are not threat to know – more on that later.

Please take a moment to look at the diagram below as I’m going to refer to it frequently during this entry.

What I’ve done is identified four very basic levels of information awareness (who knows what).  Those levels are Family, Tribe, Other Friendly Tribes (and other entities) and the Rest of the World.  Those are pretty straightforward categories and you may have more.  I’m going to work through these four categories and give some examples of what I consider information that should be held at which level.

I’ve arranged this little diagram from the center outwards to depict the level of information sharing with what I consider the most shared info at the center and the least at the outside.  The critical concept I want to depict is that as a general rule any EEFI either generated or relevant information at any given level should never flow outwards – only inwards (there are instances where there’s probably going to have to be a few exceptions – as stated below).  Not only that but the fidelity of the information might change as it drills down towards the center.   Also note this diagram represents only the view for a single family.  There should be multiple family boxes inside the tribe box and possibly multiple tribe boxes inside the friendly tribes box.

So what kind of info are we considering at any given level?  Honestly that’s for you to decide.  I feel it’s fairly dependent of how your family and tribe interacts.  At a minimum I suggest you keep anything specifically relating to family and preparedness (food, fuel, stock, GnA, etc.) inside that family box.  There’s going to be instances where you’ll probably have to share some of your family info with the Tribe – try to filter it if at all possible (that’s an exception to our general rule).  As an example specifically at the tribe level if a family is suffering from a food shortage that information might have to be brought up to the tribe level of sharing.  The fidelity and level of of that information is based wholly on your tribe dynamic (how you interact).   Is there a requirement for everyone at the Tribe level to know that information?  Probably not.  It’s generally a good idea that once information flows outward it’s in a controlled as possible manner with as few folks knowing it as possible – and even then the fidelity of the information pertaining to the issue should be contained to those with a “need-to know”.   This is an example of a necessary controlled spillage.

Referring back to our diagram there’s another point to be made – information sharing about the next outside level increases as you move outward on the diagram – i.e. as much possible information about the Rest of the World should probably be shared freely with Other Friendly Tribes and entities.

Now let’s focus down to the tribe level and complicate things a bit.  Bonds between some families within your tribe will no doubt be stronger than others.  It could be due to marriage (Bill’s son David married Joe’s daughter Gail), familiarity, proximity, etc.  So it’s safe to assume a greater level of information sharing at a more intimate level between those families than they and other families within the Tribe.

On to addressing the substitution of “Threat” with “Outsiders”.  IMHO at any given point after SHTF people and organizations as a group will evolve.  For example – let’s say the tribe down the road is friendly one week after things go to hell.  Two months later they are running out of food and you have plenty.  If they are aware of it and hit your tribe up and you all decide not to assist then that group most likely will move into Threat status – a threat that will become greater as it becomes more desperate.  Same thing with the authorities.  Immediately after STHF they may be attempting to assist whomever they can.  Then perhaps they get the order to begin resettlement ops.  I dunno  about you but that just moved them from outsider to threat in my view.  As stated it’s all dependent on your Tribal dynamic.  That’s why I recommend little to no information sharing with “outsiders”  – pretty much common sense.

BUT like everything else there may be an exception to the “outsiders rule”.  Maybe Bills daughter married and is a member of another Tribe (in this case you’re dealing with an entity and not the whole Tribe) we mentioned and struggling.  Bill is probably going to help her.  This is an instance where retaining EEFI at the family level is critical.    Let Bill help her but as a Tribe should you and yours?  Once again it’s all dependent on your Tribal dynamic.

Another point I would like to bring up is sharing information about other Tribes and entities.  Once again your call but I would hesitate to discuss information about another tribe with an outsider.  Don’t endanger their well being unless they are hostile to you – you very well may need their cooperation later and if you sold them down the river they’ll just laugh at ya.

Regarding the difference between the “Other Tribes and Entities” and the “rest of the World”.  Whom/what goes where?  That once again is up to you and based on your current situation.  It may evolve and elements will probably move in and out of those two categories.  Expect proximity and that elements efforts or intentions to dictate a lot of that movement.

So how do we manage this?  These are the takeaways that might help you get everyone in the same mindset:

1.  Information about the family should stay at the family level unless it’s an emergency.

2.  We don’t talk about anything relating to the Tribe to outsiders.

3.  All information about “Outsiders” and “The Rest of the World” is shared freely within the tribe.

4.  Information about other tribes and entities doesn’t get shared outside of the tribe.

5.  Information about the rest of the world gets shared freely.

These are an example of some simple rules that can help keep your EEFI out of the wrong hands.  Adapt it, evolve it, make it yours.   Just realize one critical concept:

FAILURE TO CONTROL EEFI SPILLAGE BY FAILING TO IMPLEMENT OPSEC PUTS YOUR TRIBE  (AND FAMILY) AT RISK.

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Rural Defense Comms: TTPs Part III

Alright Joe, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for.  We’re going to touch on how to overcome that shortage of secure comms.  First up I’m going to state my honest opinion on having non-regulars and untrained folks encrypting and decrypting messages. Unless it’s simple and idiot proof I’m not a huge fan of it.  I would rather folks use sneakernet to pass messages but if time/space isn’t in your favor then it may very well be worth sitting some folks down and conducting a “train the trainer” session to get whatever techniques or technology you use spread amongst the tribe.  For our purposes we’ll refer to our code as a “Cipher”.

Message encryption is ancient – literally.  Ceaser used a basic encryption to encode his personal messages (Google Ceaser Cipher).  There’s literally hundreds if not thousands of ways to encrypt.  Book Encryption, drop code, etc. etc. Understand this right now:  A cipher is only as good as the folks using it and how secure they keep it.

Joe Commented “Regarding crypto. Prepare a code manual. Five-letter meaningless groups. These are assigned arbitrary meanings. You need the code book to encode and decode messages. The code groups can be spelled out phonetically. Numbers will also work, and may be easier to transmit. Just read 5-digit groups with a pause between groups. The code book is arranged like a bilingual dictionary. Code groups in some order (alphabetic or numeric) with their assigned meanings on one part of the code book; assigned meanings arranged in some manner (alphabetic) with their code groups in the other part.”  This is a viable technique as well.

When I was a young troop (and I’m going to give away my age here) we still used PRC-77s.  Now light units in those days were “equipment challenged” so not every radio had a Vinson (Google it).  In fact only our Company Commander had one.  So we lacked secure comms between the Company and the Platoons.  And the way we overcame that was through the use of the Company Tactical Standard Operating Procedures (TSOP or TACSOP – an SOP that dictates how a company operates in a tactical environment)  and the Communications Electronics Operating Instructions (CEOI later called an SOI – a classified controlled small book normally carried in the chest pocket dummy corded to the carrier).  the CEOI gave us the ability to encode messages and other information along with authenticating traffic.  The Company TACSOP gave us a neat tool – The Brevity Matrix.  I’m going to throw some example tools out inspired by these “low tech” solutions to get your gears grinding.

Remember:  A cipher code is only as good as the people using it and how well it’s protected.  So if you plan on using it prepare to conduct some really intensive training along with thorough practice sessions along with setting rules on handling your ciphers.  And spotcheck both the operation and handling frequently.

Now before we get into the meat and potatoes we need to add a few Prowords (remember those?)  to our vocabulary.  So jot these down:

ALL AFTER – Used in conjunction with SEND it tells the message sender to resend everything after a certain part of the message.  i.e. “SEND ALL AFTER VICTOR VICTOR OVER”

ALL BEFORE – Similar to ALL AFTER except it’s used to send the portion of the message that precedes the stated portion.  i.e. “SEND ALL BEFORE VICTOR VICTOR OVER”

AUTHENTICATE – This Proword is used to make a sending station conduct authentication from the authentication matrix.

I AUTHENTICATE – These prowords are used to let the receiving station know the transmitting station is sending an authentication cipher in response to the proword AUTHENTICATE.  DO NOT conduct automatic authentication (i.e. before being prompted the transmitting station sends the phrase “I authenticate Victor Victor Zulu”).  It is a sloppy practice that can compromise a cipher.

PREPARE TO COPY – This tells the receiving station to prepare to copy a message.

SEND – This lets the sending station know the receiving station is ready to copy the message.

Good to go?  Now here’s an interesting tidbit.  There are over a thousand words in the English Language that consist of ten letters without a single repeated letter.  So for this example I’m going to use my big ass list of ten letter non repeating words as a cipher.

The first thing we’ll go into is Authentication.  Authentication is normally used in response to a request, demand, or command.  Authentication allows the receiving or directed station to confirm that the sender is the real deal and not some dirtbag trying to pull some B/S.  Remember: this is an example.  Semper Gumby it.

For my purpose I want to have a 10×10 authentication matrix to make it easy on me (remember I’m working with ten letter words).  So I grid out a 10×10 grid and use the words from my list to fill it in.  The way I did this one is I started at the top and worked inward from the top and bottom – one from the top, one from the bottom, one from the top, etc.. scratching them off as I went.  Once I had the grid filled I added another unused word above and to the right side of the matrix.  So this is what I ended up with:

So how do ya use this thing? It’s simple.  The station requesting the authentication selects a letter from the top (shaded) row first and then from the shaded side row.  For example the station callsign Howell prompts the station callsign Briggs to authenticate:

“BRIGGS THIS IS HOWELL, AUTHENTICATE TANGO SIERRA OVER”

Briggs in turn would look those letters up in the same order Howell did and cross index them – resulting in the letter “R”.  Briggs would then authenticate in this manner:

“HOWELL THIS IS BRIGGS, I AUTHENTICATE ROMEO OVER”.

If the authentication is successful then that Cipher shouldn’t be used again for that period (more on that below).  If it’s not then Briggs may send another.  After two failed authentications Howell would ignore all traffic from Briggs and report a failed authentication to the NCS – which may prompt the QRF to move out and check to see why Briggs had its head up its ass and returned an incorrect authentication – possibly from an expired table (we’ve got a fix for that below).

Another neat technique is the incorporation of duress codes into authentication.  If a station is under duress and being forced to send demands, requests, etc. they could slip a predetermined code  or technique into the mix.  i.e. instead of just authenticating with Romeo they may authenticate with Romeo Tango (the letter below R).  The receiving and monitoring stations realize that a dual letter authentication isn’t right and take action.  One thing really important here :  If a duress is used in conjunction with a cipher then that cipher has to be immediately considered compromised.

Easy, eh?  Alrighty, next up is one of my favorites – the Brevity Matrix.  We used the brevity matrix to encode messages and even locations to send across unsecured nets.  It’s similar to the authentication table however instead of just letters it contains words or even phrases.  Using my list of ten letter words (over a thousand of them – that is some fascinating shit) we’re going to create another 10×10 grid.  This time we’ll fill it in with common words, orders, information, whatever you feel needs encryption.    Once we have it filled in (and you don’t have to fill the entire thing in mind you as blank spots could be a great method of deception – and don’t forget to jumble ’em up) once again we place one of our UNUSED ten letter words on top and the side like the Authentication table.  So we end up with something similar to this:

Simple right – so let’s setup a message with it.  Once again Briggs and Howell are on the net and Briggs is going to send Howell the message using what we’ve covered so far in comms techniques (including those breaks). Note how both stations use their callsigns – each message is started by the intended receiver followed by the transmitter.  Now here’s a technique I recommend:  Send brevity matrix codes in the same group size as any location types or other type encrypted info you send – it adds a layer of difficulty for the threat to determine what kind of information is being sent.

“BRIGGS, HOWELL, PREPARE TO COPY OVER”

“HOWELL, BRIGGS, SEND IT OVER”

“BRIGGS, HOWELL, I SEND ALPHA WHISKEY BRAVO, WHISKEY, ROMEO WHISKEY – BREAK” ..”UNIFORM WHISKEY PAPA, WHISKEY TANGO WHISKEY – BREAK”.. “INDIA WHISKEY OSCAR, WHISKEY, NOVEMBER WHISKEY – BREAK”.. “SIERRA WHISKEY ALPHA, OSCAR, OVER”

Now for SnG let’s say Briggs missed the last two sets.  Here’s what should happen:

“HOWELL, BRIGGS, SEND ALL AFTER NOVEMBER WHISKEY OVER”

Howell would send:

“BRIGGS, HOWELL I SEND SIERRA WHISKEY ALPHA, OSCAR, OVER”

“HOWELL, BRIGGS, ROGER OUT”.

An “ALL BEFORE” request would be structured in the a very similar manner.

Now it’s not a good idea to throw messages in a straight line like I did  – I got a bit lazy making that example and all those Whiskey lines would make breaking the cipher easier.  If you scramble those words all over the matrix it’ll take the threat some serious time or a compromised cipher to figure it out.  Also I didn’t invent the ten letter non-repeating Cipher technique – I’ve seen a lot of different forms of it over the years.  I’m sure there are some other examples on the net as well

So how do we protect our cipher.  My suggestion is to have one location (maybe the NCS) develop it daily and distribute it via sneakernet every day prior to the noon switchover with it going into effect at noon right along with the new freqs.  To get the new one the old one has to be surrendered.  It’s also a damn good idea to track how many go out, how many come in, and who lost their copy (it will happen).

Be creative and come up with your own systems.  Remember it has to be simple enough for folks to use it or else they’ll get sloppy and evolve it creating one helluva comms mess.  Take into consideration who you are working with in your AO, who needs the cipher, and who’s going to administer it.  A cipher is not something you can just float along – if you let it get sloppy IT WILL be compromised.

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Rural Defense Comms: TTPs Part II

In the last entry we discussed the basics of establishing our local area net.  I’ve identified one huge shortfall in our scheme – the lack of secure comms.  Continuing the comms theme in this entry I’m going to address that problem and begin to dig into some solutions.  Before this goes any further we have to discuss radio security.  A quick review of the first two basic radio operator guidelines are in order at this point:

1.  Always assume someone you don’t want monitoring the nets is listening. Practice OPSEC.

2.  At no time does anything that would be considered OPSEC be transmitted outside of an emergency situation.

OPSEC, OPSEC, OPSEC – because anything you say on an open unsecured net can be considered intelligence.  OPSEC is formally defined as: The process that identifies critical information about our tribes intentions, capabilities, and vulnerabilities while employing steps or measures to deny this information to our threats.

So how do we identify that critical information?  We establish what is called Essential Elements of Friendly Information (EEFI).  EEFI is that info which we don’t want folks outside our AO to know.  EEFI should include things like:

1.  Anything to do with security.

2. The number of folks in the AO (your manpower).

3.  Any defensive or offensive equipment on hand or shortages including arms, ammo, medical material, obstacle material, etc.

4.  Any capabilities – including the time frame to assemble a QRF, their size, assembly area, medical or firefighting capabilities, etc.

5.  Times and locations for any planned event (i.e. coordination meetings, church events, etc.)

6.  Any current or future plans including things like when an obstacle is going to be emplaced, When a hardening party (more on that in passive defense) is going to happen, guard force information, etc.

7.  Any information pertaining to food, fuel, first aid, or emergency reserves.

8.  Any kind of tactical information outside of an emergency.

Leaping Lizards that a lot of stuff.  Yup, and that’s a non-inclusive list.  I’ll break it into one easy to follow concept for ya –

IF THERE’S ANOTHER WAY TO PASS THE INFORMATION OTHER THAN USING A RADIO DO SO.  TRY TO KEEP ALL TRANSMISSIONS TO ESSENTIAL AND EMERGENCY COMMS ONLY.

Not super complicated is it?  The concept that the best way to keep EEFI out of the wrong hands and practice OPSEC is  radio “abstinence”.  So once again you’ll have to delve into the area of Tribal Politics and convince the Tribe that the number of rolls of wire Mr. Jones has isn’t something that needs to be talked about on the radio.  What about using phone lines?  Folks, the ability to remotely monitor wire comms has existed for over half a century.  It was a common practice in the Vietnam war to tap into the NVA and VC wire to get info.  You’ll have to convince folks that lacking some really high tech gear (which we’re not going to have) anything you say outside of meatspace is being monitored by someone who is probably not friendly.

It’s going to take some fundamental changes in the way people think about information to effectively implement OPSEC in the tribe and AO.  By adopting a “Need-to-know” attitude a lot of info will stay off the net.  A Need-to-know attitude is simply restricting information to those that only have a clearly recognizable requirement to know something.  It boils down to avoiding gossip or the old saying “loose lips sink ships”.  Pose this to them:  Before you say anything think – “How could this information endanger us? Does this person really need to know about this? Is there a better way to get the info to them?”  Some folks will ask “Is it really that dangerous to talk about some of this stuff on the radio?”  Here’s an example:

I’m eavesdropping and I hear Carla on the radio with her mother asking if she can go over and see Jimmy after her chores are done.  Her mother gives her permission So she calls Jimmy and let’s him know she’ll be over.  Jimmy tells her he can’t because he has a “prior commitment” until 1800 at “Kilo Four One” but she can pick him up there if she wants but to be careful of the tree in the road.

What did that tell us?  Think about it.  I know a minimum of two females and one male operate on this net.  I can assume that two are members of the same family which draws the conclusion there is probably an unnamed older male as well.  I know there’s a male (Jimmy) that is going to be tied up until 1800.  Possibly a guard rotation at a location that he used a code name for.  So I know that there is an encryption system for locations in this area.  I also know that there are likely obstacles in their AO now as well. That’s a lot of info for such an innocent conversation.  And that’s the point –  The simplest information can be used to flesh out a picture. hence:

IF THERE’S ANOTHER WAY TO PASS THE INFORMATION OTHER THAN USING A RADIO DO SO.  TRY TO KEEP ALL TRANSMISSIONS TO ESSENTIAL AND EMERGENCY COMMS ONLY.

If Carla had gotten offa her butt and talked to her mother face to face then rode over to Jimmy’s and done a face to face the info we gathered would not be in our hands now.  Maybe Jimmy’s place was too far to go and the radio call  was legit.  We still wouldn’t have all of the info we gathered.  If Jimmy had employed a little more OPSEC and not mentioned his “commitment” time frame, location, etc. but that he was going to be tied up for a few hours this afternoon or evening we’d still have less than what we’d like.   Now people are going to take the path of least resistance or “the easy way” and wanna play GI Joe with the Kung-Fu grip on that mic.  If you hear them doing it it’s probably a good idea to tactfully break into the conversation and remind them about OPSEC.  Don’t be an ass because you’ll just piss people off.

So how can we use the radios without letting everyone know all of this info?  Truth be told you’ll have what are called “spillages” (information leaked that shouldn’t be) – expect them.  The damage done can be minimized by some  conscious thought and following some common sense rules.  Things like:

1.  Thinking about what you’re going to say and the information you are going to pass before you key that mic.

2.  Keeping information as generic as possible i.e. “being tied up” and “down the road” are good terms.

3.  Never transmitting a list of anything.  No rosters, shopping requirements, ammo on hand, nada.  Lists are nothing  but raw intelligence.

4.  Minimize the transmission as much as possible.

5.  Use prowords, callsigns, and any adopted encryption methods.

6.  Employ a need-to-know attitude (keep gossip in check).

Yup, this is all fine and dandy but what about an emergency?  That’s a whole different ballgame.  You can contain spillage over the emergency net by having clear plans built and briefed in meatspace.  I’m going to cover those types of emergencies in their respective areas (i.e. active defense).  All of this leads to one theme:  You want intel to be a one way street running in your direction.

Next up I’ll jump into some basic encryption methods to pass info and explain why they may or may not be such a good idea.

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Rural Defense Comms: TTPs Part I

First up:  If you’ve served in any military or like environment and used tactical radios this is going to be all too simple for you.  And that’s the point here – we’re going to try and make it simple for the non-trained to pick up and use.  If it’s overly complicated chances are people will use bits and pieces and adapt the system to their own liking so let’s keep it simple and avoid any painful evolutions.  The first thing you have to stress to everyone that will use a radio is that clear, concise communications are critical to effectiveness.  If someone is screaming at the top of their lungs in a panic on the net it’s going to be a lot more painful than necessary to sort out what’s happening at their station.  Hammer this consistently.  Comms procedures are one area that has to be disciplined – hell even in regular forces comms discipline can be painful.  Work it, be persistent, be tactful, be the example, but most of all be unwavering.

So we’ve identified our comms hardware and now is the time to put it to use.  I’ve geared this to our local area radio system identified in the previous comms entry (in this case CBs) however it can easily be adapted to other systems as well. And to put it to use it has to be turned on and monitored.  Folks should have their radios on and within earshot 24 hours a day.  After all it would seriously suck to miss that spot report that 3 armed dirtbags have been spotted 200 meters south of your homestead because you were on the shitter.  If you can’t be near the radio then someone in your point defense should be.  There is another time folks should have a radio on them and have it tuned to either the admin or emergency channel.  That’s when they are out away from their point defenses (homesteads).  That way in case of contact or if they are needed as a response force they’ll be on the net.   This is what makes those handheld radios so attractive.

So we’re going to identify some necessities that we need to develop and implement.  Kicking it around I’ve come up with these necessities:

1.  We have to identify what elements of communication are critical to everyone understanding so they can effectively communicate on the net.

2.  Folks need to understand when to switch to the Emergency Net.

3.  We need callsigns.

4.  We need to be able to spell out complex words by using a phonetic alphabet.

5.  We need to use prowords.

6.  We need to assign frequencies.

7.  We need a Net Control Station (NCS).

8.  We need a procedure to ensure everyone is able to transmit and receive on our nets.

The elements of communication we want everyone to clearly understand and apply should be something like this:

1.  Always assume someone you don’t want monitoring the nets is listening. Practice OPSEC (OPSEC will be covered in depth later on).

2.  At no time does anything that would be considered OPSEC be transmitted outside of an emergency situation.

3. Take a moment to mentally (or actually) compose the traffic you wish to send.

4.  Keep messages as short as possible.  Transmit no more than five continuous seconds.  If the message is longer use the BREAK proword (explained below).  This is to make it harder for direction finding equipment to pinpoint you accurately.

5.  Always listen to make sure no one else is transmitting before you key your set.

6.  Speak clearly, slowly, and in a normal tone.

7.  Monitor the radio all the time.

The second necessity we identified is to have folks understand when to switch to the emergency channel.  It should be SOP throughout the entire AO that anytime you aren’t talking on a routine traffic local channel or monitoring the administrative channel you should be monitoring the emergency channel (many CBs have a channel 9 scanner which works great for this purpose).  It needs to be reinforced if you hear or see something out of the ordinary like gunfire, an explosion, or heavy vehicle movement to switch to the emergency channel automatically and monitor traffic.  The administrative channel is kind of like the old country “party line”.

The third necessity we’ll cover is that every station on the net has a callsign (a.k.a. a name or handle).  This can be something simple like the families last name, a commonly known nickname, physical location, etc.  It must be something commonly known to everyone throughout the AO.  Referring to the map from out terrain piece I’ll just use the family names of the homesteads on the map.

The fourth necessity to avoid confusion you should stress the use of the Phonetic Alphabet.  Although this is standardized across the military and most LEO/EMS entities it doesn’t necessarily have to use that format.  The substitution of other words that also clearly convey the letter intended will work as well.  I.e. instead of “Zulu” the word “Zebra” could be used.  As long as they are not complex words (advise them to stick to short and distinct words) they should work.  Keep it simple and easy for the tribe.

The fifth necessity is Prowords.  A Proword is a word that has been assigned a meaning and are used to expedite messages.  IMHO I would only expect the most common Prowords to be used and then in simple fashion.  These are the ones that will provide you the most bang for the buck. i.e.

ACTUAL – normally reserved for the family/homestead leader. It’s used in conjunction with the callsign, i.e. “Briggs Actual” would get you Mr. Briggs Sr.

BREAK – Indicates that the sender is going to take a temporary break in transmission for a few seconds.

FLASH – FLASH is used in regards to traffic priority with FLASH traffic being a higher priority than all other traffic.  A Sender starts a message with FLASH FLASH FLASH (always 3 times) when a message contains traffic that is of an emergency nature.  All other stations should stop transmitting and monitor the message.

I SPELL – Used immediately before phonetically spelling out a word.

OUT- The station is done transmitting and no further traffic should be expected.

OVER – The station is done transmitting and is awaiting a reply.

ROGER – The station understands/acknowledges the traffic sent.

SAY AGAIN/SEND AGAIN – This Proword is used instead of “Repeat”.  When a station doesn’t understand or didn’t receive a portion of a message they will ask the sender to “Say Again” or “Send Again”.

WAIT OVER – The sending station must leave the net – not normally for more than a few minutes.  Using this Proword gives the expectation the station will return briefly with information or to continue the conversation.

WAIT OUT – The sending station must leave the net for more than a few minutes and will return later to complete the conversation.

Prowords also bring up the topic of duress codes.  A duress code is a single distinct word used when a station is being directly threatened (i.e. a dirtbag is standing over the sender with a pistol pointed at his head during a comms check or a conversation).  A duress code must be memorized by everyone and should be easily inserted into normal conversation.  The word “Peachy” is an example.  A station under duress might answer a comms check with “All Peachy Out” instead of a simple “Roger out”.  This alerts the other stations that station is under duress and needs assistance.  At that point hopefully you’ve developed a TTP to deal with this.  We’ll cover that later in active defense.  Also note that duress codes SHOULD NEVER BE USED in normal conversation.  If you want to get real fancy each family/homestead could have its own duress code but frankly IMHO for the sake of simplicity a single word throughout the tribe is better.

The big thing with prowords is that everyone understands what they mean.  If I use “Tally-Ho” as a proword for the QRF to assemble and no one knows what it means then It’s useless.

The next necessity to avoid confusion is to assign frequencies.  In our case using the Citizens Band we reserve some channels for their intended use.  Channel 9 is the normal emergency channel.  Channel 17 (for North/South Bound traffic) and 19 (for East/West Bound traffic) is normally used by Truckers.   We will retain the use of Chanel 9 as our Emergency Traffic/Alert channel.   We also need to assign channels for normal routine traffic that is common throughout the AO.  This is an example of how to break it down.

CH. 1-8,11-16, and 18 are used for local inter-homestead traffic.  9 is the emergency (our version of the “Agric-Alert”) net, and 17 and 19 we retain for truckers.  Now we block off 20-29 and 30-39 for our local admin net.  This is the net we put routine information on and conduct comms checks on.  The idea is that we use the channel that corresponds to the date with a fall back channel 10 steps higher.  I.e. on the first, eleventh, twenty first, and thirty first we use channel 21 and if it’s jammed/being used by outside sources/ otherwise unavailable we’d switch up to 31.  We use Channel 20 on the tenth, twentieth, and thirtieth with a fall back to Channel 30.    Note that SSB is normally in the bands above 30, could possibly interfere with AM traffic, and is used for longer range comms so we’ll try and avoid it.  Good to have in a pinch but we’re going to try and avoid advertising our existence.   I would advise everyone routinely monitor the administrative net and if they need to communicate amongst each other contact that station and have them drop to another channel.

Next up is our seventh necessity.  Here’s the fun part:  We’ve almost got to assign a Net Control Station (NCS).  The NCS acts as our Emergency Ops Center (EOC) – the central hub for our comms.  It’s a good idea to collocate your scanner, Amateur radio, and a couple of CBs (monitoring the admin and emergency channels but if you have a radio that scans 9 you can get by with one) along with an FRS/GMRS scanning radio (there’s a good possibility any threat might be using them) in one central well protected location   If you have a HAM enthusiast in your AO they would normally be the natural choice (most of the ones I know would like nothing better to live on their rigs).  Here’s a downfall – comms should really be monitored 24 hours a day.  So it might be a better idea to rotate the responsibilities for monitoring the emergency net throughout the AO.  One critical asset of a good NCS is the ability to pull information out of a station on the net.  If blabbering jack is on the end trying to tell everyone what is going on and he’s excited and transmitting a lot of gibberish and extraneous info it’s the NCSs job to calm them down, ask pointed and direct questions, and get as close to the real picture of what’s going on as possible.  Basically when SHTF the NCS controls the emergency net.

Our Final necessity is to be able to ensure everyone is able to transmit and receive on our nets.  We accomplish this by using Comms checks.  Comms checks should be conducted at least twice daily – normally once in the morning and once in the evening.  If feasible the morning check should be no later than 30 minutes before morning twilight and the evening check should be no later than thirty minutes before the end of the evening twilight (you can get those times from the good old Farmer’s Almanac or the web).   Why?   Historically these are the times that are most likely for an attack to occur hence our TTP of “Stand-To” which will be covered later on in active defense.  Now this isn’t to say that you might not get hit at midnight but if you’ve done a comms check then chances are your rig still works.  Another good TTP is for everyone to switch their radios to channel 9 prior to bedtime which brings up another point – the radios ideally should be in the bedroom.  That puts it near and pretuned in case it’s needed and also allows for monitoring of traffic.  If channel 9 goes blaring at 0130 about an attack on the Briggs homestead chances are it’s going to wake you up.   Putting the radio in the bedroom with a handheld is no problem but with a base station it may be.  Plan accordingly.  Daily radio checks are initiated by the NCS and answered by each station in a manner similar to:

NCS initiates the comms check:  “All stations this is Briggs radio check”

NCS calls first station: “Mann Briggs Over”

Station (in this instance “Mann”) responds: “Briggs Mann Roger Out”

And so on and so forth until all stations have acknowledged.  If a stationed doesn’t respond after three calls you should move along and try them once more at the end.  If they still do not respond then it’s time to send some folks over and check on them.  The NCS normally closes the comms check out with something simple like “This is Briggs out”

For those so inclined the US Army Center for Lessons Learned RTO Handbook is an excellent source of additional and amplifying info. If you haven’t what figured it out by now what we are basically doing is building a Comms SOP from scratch pulling from several sources and simplifying it wherever possible.  The KISS principle is still as relevant as ever.

In the next installment we’ll look at some examples of how to overcome our lack of crypto and examine OPSEC a bit more in detail as it relates to comms.  Reports and other emergency procedures will be addressed in their respective articles.

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