Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Basic Training - Patrolling

Road marches, and the relevant field manual, are primarily concerned with administrative, i.e. non-tactical, movement from point to point. Generally, it's for getting a group from here to there when bad things aren't likely to happen.

Moving when there is that risk is properly known as patrolling, and addressed better in the text on that subject: FM 21-75 Soldier Combat Skills (January 2008). It was formerly known as Combat Training Of The Individual Soldier and Patrolling.

The part of the current manual that concerns us is chapter 7 (p. 123 of the pdf), Individual Movement.

The primary individual movement is walking.
The difference between walking on a march, and patrolling, it that on a march, getting there is the whole point. On a patrol, getting there is half the fun.

Before you gear up, everyone on the patrol should know the entire patrol cold, from start to finish: Where you are, where you're going, how to get there, what route, all actions in case of a myriad of contingencies, and what you're headed out to do. There should be a designated chain of command from leader to the very last man regarding who's in charge if something happens to the person(s) above them. Once you get outside your own wire, there's no guarantee who's going to be running the show when the patrol when they come back, and bad times are no time to decide, let alone argue over, who's in charge. And everyone should know what to do if they get lost, separated, or have to make it to a rendezvous or return to their start point alone and unassisted. (We'll cover more of this, but understand the general concepts overall at this point.)

Before you start out, even more critically than on a simple march, you should be inspected by the patrol leader to ensure you've got everything you're supposed to have, and nothing you're not supposed to have. Radios should be checked, weapons (if applicable) should be function-checked (and test fired if practical/possible). Nothing on you should rattle, jingle, or shine. You should be able to test-walk several yards and not make any sound above your actual footfalls. Everything should be properly stowed and secured. You should be wearing eye protection, and if you have it, hearing protection that will allow normal sound, but block damaging sounds.

Weapons are carried locked and loaded once you're out the gate, not slung on your shoulder. On a road or trail, half of them should be pointing to each flank. The person carrying them should be using three senses of five at all times on a patrol: looking, listening, and smelling. Anything and everything you collect with those senses may be directly significant to either your life expectancy for the next minute, or for information-gathering purposes, to build an intelligence estimate of your area under whatever the current circumstances are.

Whenever someone is on a patrol they should be looking at their assigned area, with the muzzle in the same general direction. As well they should be regularly doing quick scans of the persons ahead of them, the persons behind, and/or to both sides when moving in any formation or terrain. This is so they can see a change from anyone rapidly, without the need for other communication, and note indications to halt, freeze, or take other action, depending upon what is going on. That way, on a patrol, multiple sets of eyes look over everything. Along the entire route.

You should be listening, for anything that doesn't fit, including nothing. The world, even in nature, is noisy. Dead silence is usually a noteworthy sign. So is everything you hear.

Smell is equally important. Smoke, exhaust, cooking fires, food, dead animals, etc. all activate a primitive part of your brain, for good reason. Your lizard brain knows things your monkey brain didn't get taught in school. It may sense something that makes the hairs on your skin stand up. you may smell something or someone, before you can see them or hear them; pay attention, and pass it on when it happens.

There are multiple reasons to patrol.

It may be a reconnaissance patrol, to see what's out there.
It may be a combat patrol, to find bad people and do bad things to them, or wait in ambush for them to do so.
It may be a logistical patrol, to get or take supplies from one place to another, or to deliver or collect people similarly.

Because of this, as a rule, a minimum patrol should probably be three people. If one gets injured, the other two can bring the injured back. One can keep watch, while one sleeps, and one communicates/relaxes/rests/eats/poops/etc. You can do a patrol with more, even many more. But generally, less than three people will make things a very difficult time if anything unexpected happens, and patrolling is where the unexpected is the reason you're patrolling in the first place.

Besides walking, you may need to move through areas more surreptitiously, either because of lack of concealing vegetation or terrain cover, or the possibility of getting seen/shot/killed.

Your alternatives at that point are approaching stealthily, rushing, high crawling, and low crawling.

Stealthy simply means slow, steady, deliberate movement, avoiding making any sound or sudden movements, and taking full advantage of any concealment, shadow, and cover in the area. Generally, you're still walking, whether upright or crouched.

Rushes are for open terrain, where speed moving from one piece of cover to another is more important than the risk of visibility by rapid moving, because you either figure you've been seen already, or the incoming fire makes that obvious.
You use rushes to move up on someone who knows (or should) you're coming, but dropping back to a covered spot as rapidly as possible, before you can be sighted and shot. Alternating pairs can approach a position with rushes that prevent someone from concentrating fire on a single person or pair.

High crawl is on your knees and elbows, belly and gear off the ground, head up. It allows someone to cover a lot of ground either quietly, or at least quickly, if the brush or cover is only a couple of feet tall, without them being seen. If you're relatively young and fit, you can get across 50 yards in a minute or less.

Low crawling is flat on the ground as low as you can get, generally because cover is extremely sparse, and/or incoming fires are sweeping the area being crossed.

What happens when you stick up too far?
Skip to 2:33 through 2:45:

There's a lot more to cover; this is just the start.

Basic Training - On The Move

Whatever gear, and how much, you think you're going to need, in order for it to do any good, you have to get you, it, and any number of like-minded friends, from Point A, to Point B.

There are a number of ways to do this, but the one that's always going to come into play no matter what, is on foot. Even if you ride, sail, or fly to where you're going, you're going to have to get off the ride at some point.

Once again, everything you need to know to get started is in the reference you should be getting very familiar with, FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017.

So, let's say you're going bare minimums:
Your basic clothes 8#
An M4gery, with optic, cleaning gear, and ammunition: 19#
Two quarts of water in canteens: 5#
Food: 1#
First Aid kit: 1#
Means to carry and hang just all that on you: 6#

You're at 40#, now.

Figure a minimal pack: 3#
with more water: 5#
and more food: 2#
and minimal rain and sleep gear, i.e. poncho and liner: 3#
and a change of socks and under wear 1#.

Figure a knife: 1#
and a bare bones EDC survival kit (we'll get to that by and by): 1-2#.

So you're still at between 40-57 pounds of gear, just to leave the front porch for a bare minimum walk, in a single day or overnight, with no resupply nor means to eat or drink beyond 24 hours.

And you're going to walk that.

The only way to build up to that, is to build up to that.
For Common Core grads, a "klick" is a kilometer, which is 0.6 miles, or near enough.
IOW, a 5 km march, for example, would be 3 miles.

You should start, in addition to your daily PT, with putting on a bag or pack, and working up.
For a training period, we'd do this:
Load a small but sturdy backpack with 20# (weigh it!, and water/snacks don't count), and do 3 km. At a brisk pace on level ground. Don't jog, run, or anything more than a very rapid walk.

Time yourself.

At the published average march rate of 4 KPH, you should cover the 3km (1.8mi) distance in 45 minutes. If you didn't make that, you're too slow.
I say again, If you didn't make that, You're too slow.
Either way, you've got a baseline to aim for. Drive the route beforehand, and note the 0.6 mi. increments using your odometer.
If you go outwards 0.9 mi., and go out and back, the 0.6 is 1/3 and 2/3 of the distance, going and coming. You should be there at 15 and 30 minute marks, and the 0.9 mi. turnaround in 22 1/2 minutes, or better, if you're on pace.
(BTW, day-glo orange and yellow spray paint is sold at the local hardware store, and a spot or short stripe at the curb or on a corner of the sidewalk probably isn't going to cause the walls of the citadel or nearby courthouse to crumble into dust. Road and survey crews plus local utility teams do this 24/7/365, everywhere. Just saying.)

Now you know where you stand in terms of basic ability, with about 1/3 of your bare minimum load.

You can probably guess what happens next.

Your new after-dinner activity every day to every other day after this basic training, is to increase the distance and the load, until you're carrying the equivalent of what you'll be packing, and can do so for a full 8-hour period.

Go up by 2KM/week. Do the base distance every evening. Make the weekend march the one where you add that additional 2Km, which is your new starting distance the following week.
During the week, add another pound a day, for a total of 5#/wk., i.e.:
Week 1 20-25#, starting with 20# for 3K and finishing at 25# for 5K.
Week 2 25-30#, finishing at 7K.
And so on.

At that rate, it'll be a month before you're doing almost 10k (6 mi.), with 40#.
(That would be the equivalent of 3 miles out and 3 miles back, in only your stripped-down fighting load, above).
It'll take you 3 months to get to 80# and 15 miles, and 4 months to be able to carry full weight for a full 8 hour march.

And you can stop adding weight when you've weighed your gear, and figured out your max load, and you reach that weight.
Unless you want to plan for the times when you might need to carry more, like an injured comrade, and his gear.
Which would be smart.

Bear in mind this notional training period is a mere two weeks.
Just like now, you'll be on your own a lot more than you'll be under supervision.
Remember what we said before we started about self-discipline?
You can bullshit anyone you want, but you can't bullshit yourself, or Reality.
Do the work or suffer the consequences.
Like you will.

So on your own time, after basic training, you should be shooting for nightly walks of the target distance - under load, and at least one all-day (approaching 8 hours) walk on your day off (Saturday/Sunday/whatever day your week works out), with eventually 60-80#, for 32+km. (33K being 19.8 miles! That's the 8-hour standard to shoot for, since about Hammurabi.) 
If you can carry a loaded backpack during the day, for some or all of it, that would be helpful.

[If you decide to try adding workout weights to your daily routine, make them waist belts or body vests, if not simply a backpack with actual useful items. Do NOT put on ankle weights, unless you want to overstress your lower extremity joints, and put your orthopedic surgeon's kids through college. Ankle weights are generally for idiots and fools: be neither one of those. If you want to start wearing heavier footgear instead, like for instance the various boots you may be walking in every evening, that would be far more intelligent, and also serve to start breaking them in - like you should do.]

And once you're doing 10k or better, it's time to get off the roads and start making your weekly jaunts cross-country, over progressively worse terrain as you may, in any weather rain or shine, and in all seasons.

After your initial pace experiment, you should stop after the first 10-20 minutes every time, to address gear carriage/comfort, and address any hot spots on your feet. Blisters are always easier (and more fun, trust me) to prevent than to treat. Moleskin and Spenco Second-skin blister prevention patches should be your new best friends, as you toughen your body, bones, muscles, and feet, to being able to walk distances under load, slowly and progressively.

This regimen cannot be "crammed". You can't skip the daily work-ups, and try to cram one week into Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday. You'll tear up your feet, joints, muscles, get injured, and have to start all over again from the beginning after you recuperate.

Also, I get that you may not be able to take 3,4 or 5 hours after dinner every night to go on walkabout. That's why I recommend doing some work during the day (even on a lunch break) to fulfill some of the time requirement. Bear in mind as well, you can do it 2-3x a week, plus one weekday, just increase the weight each time without fail, and if you decrease the time you can devote, increase the pace as well as the weight. The weekend walk still need to be the full time/distance and ending week's weight goal.

And remember, this after-dinner training every 1-2 days is for a few months, not your entire life. Suck it up for four months to get to the goal.

This isn't The Devil's Brigade, and you're not an idiot (I hope). You don't need to be toting rocks or sandbags to make up the load. At the start, make it water and useful items: sunscreen, insect repellant, extra socks, foot powder, ACE bandages, etc. one of the Camelbak HAWGs or equivalent is a useful training aid at that stage. Regardless, add weight progressively, then distance, and repeat until you've toughened yourself enough to cut the mustard.

(And if you don't want to scare the shit out of the locals, the constabulary on patrol, and/or get shot, buy a single workout dumbbell of 8-10 pounds, and carry it in your hands to simulate a weapon, whenever you're inside city limits, or in sight of civilization, like public roadways where the local mounties drive and patrol. Holes in your ass and/or time in the pokey is never good training. An 8-10# weight carried out in front of your body, however, is. You can also get a 5-6' piece of blackpipe, cap it, and fill it with an appropriate amount of concrete, and paint it to look like a wood walking stick, and no one will ever care. Ask me how I know. A 3/4" piece weighted at the tips also makes a wicked quarterstaff for self-defense. Just saying.)

Once you're at distance (+/- 20mi.), weight (70-90#), and speed/endurance (8 hrs.), you can cut back to a once-a-week hike on the weekends, provide at least one per month is full weight, full speed, over off-road terrain, to maintain the level of ability you worked so hard to achieve. (You should be continuing to PT regularly, regardless.)
You are free, however, to work out at the exact same standard more frequently than weekly if you choose.
If things get sporty, it'll be your ass, after all.
Do what you think is prudent.

You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.

You're not getting shot at. Yet.
Getting your body in condition is called "sharpening your hatchet."

You should, at this point, read FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017 cover to cover, and master it down to the details. Then get busy on the practical portion until your body knows the material as well as your head does.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Basic Training - Gear SOPs and Location Standardization

Just one random example.

As I hope I've made plain, because I don't know what you're worried about, or training for, and what you think you can accomplish, I have no idea what a detailed gear loadout should actually look like for you.

Only you can figure that out.

I can give you the resources to help you plan things out, and I have. But this is the part where the "You're-not-going-to-be-IN-the Army/Marines-when-SHTF" rubber meets the "this-is-what-you-need-for-yourself-and-all-your-people" road.

The broad generalities will apply.
The specifics will vary based on more factors than it's worth exploring in a blogpost.

One thing thast must occur, is for you, and all your people, to put your heads together, and figure out what's crucial. Then enforce everyone taking everything that's on the list, and nothing that's not on the list. When you're dealing with 50-100# loads, the only thing as bad as not taking what you should have, is taking anything you shouldn't have. It's not a big deal if you're a pound or two heavier than everyone else, but it's a yuuuuuuuuuuge deal if you're twenty or thirty pounds heavier than everyone else. In a you're-going to-hurt-yourself/poop-out faster and/or-get-us-killed sort of way.

Come up with an SOP - Standard Operating Procedure.
(The military ones are generally written in blood, just like safety regulations. Learn from their mistakes, rather than learning from your casualties. Your conscience, and their next-of-kin, will thank you.)

Split team gear and mission items to even out loads.
Inspect for compliance with the SOP.
Inspect for your guys not taking everything but the kitchen sink "just in case".

And once you've done the headwork to figure out what you're about, or want to be, and figure out your SOP load items for each level, there's something you should do with a lot of them that I can guarantee.

You need to standardize where you put a lot of stuff.

Obviously, lefties vs. righties should be a primary concern, but we can live with mirroring the placement based on a single parameter, i.e. your own handedness.

But if you get shot, would you rather I spend the time while you bleed out trying to discover which one of seventeen places you squirreled away your CAT-T, and do you think it might be beneficial if everyone in your group all marks them the same way, in the same pouch, and puts them all in the exact same spot? And if you're the radio guy, do you s'pose if I need to call for help now, because you can't, that it would be a great help if the Signal Operating Instructions with all the comm frequencies, call signs, etc. was always in the same pocket, every time, for every radio guy, forever? If you're the leader, and out of the fight, and now I need the map, should I need to spend ten minutes trying to look around your body, or should it always be in the exact same pocket, for every leader, on every stroll outside the fenceline?

Clever readers will deduce some subtle foreshadowing from the use of italicization for emphasis in the preceding paragraph.

You can buy, download, or link to, any number of copies of patrol "lessons learned" from prior conflicts, and the better ones will note, time after time after time, that every single group looking for any success quickly learned and shared that finding what worked, and then enforcing that uniformity ceaselessly improved performance and save lives when it counted.

I don't care what your designated SOP loadout or arrangement is.
Only two things matter:

1) Did you field-test it to come up with what works best?
2) Do you inspect to verify that that's how everybody does it, every time?

Do what you like.
The grading curve for the Final Exam will be a harsh one.

Everything The Left has Said For The Last Five two panels.

h/t Kenny

What? You doubt the innocence of that face??

Basic Training - Gear (cont.)

2005 version. Plus ca change...

Picking up where we left off yesterday, we'll move to your third-line gear, your Sustainment Load. If you flip to the very next page (pg. 75, i.e 3-2) of that manual on  FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017 , you'll find another breakdown for what's not a bad idea at all for what to carry in your pack, if you were going on a walkabout.

And note that it comes to another 30 pounds or so.

Depending on whether you plan on wearing SAPI plate armor or the equivalent, you're now at between about 80-100+ pounds of gear, on your back, whenever the mission set is no more complicated than "Go from Point A to Point B".

Getting the point of why everyone from your h.s. phys ed. teacher to your old drill sergeant/instructor to every last single serious blog on preparedness on the web keeps chanting "PT! PT! PT! ?"
We yell, because we care.

Ten, and nearly fifteen (Wow! That long?) years ago, I was routinely toting mil-spec Level One and Two gear loadouts, and an 80-100# ruck on the border. Much more than I ever had to carry in the .mil. (Artillery: "If you can't truck it, f**k it"). I am no JSOC/Ranger animal. And we were only humping it 3-6 miles in and back out, not doing 20-mile daily yomps. But to get the gear to defend ourselves, get photo and video evidence of what was going on, not die of heat stroke or freeze in temps annually that ranged from 120° to 5°, at 4-6K' of altitude, and move into position on the military crest of local highpoints, with enough water and batteries and food and batteries and commo and batteries to be able to sit in place from a Friday night to a pre-dawn Monday or same thing from Tuesday to Thursday, with only everything we absolutely needed, record what was going on, call in groups to civil authorities, and apprehend such groups when they trespassed, and bring our hides safely back to wherever home was, took that much crap, times 3-6 guys, all the time. What we saved on cold weather gear in the summer was made up by needing 3X the water supply, so the loads were virtually the same weight year around. We were not LRRPs, we were SRRPs: Short-Range Reconnaissance Patrollers. Because if we'd had to cover 20 miles/day with that much stuff, it'd probably have killed us. 

If you expect to be able to go out for a couple of days, and see what's going on in your area, which thing you WILL need to do unless you think getting in a furball on your front doorstep is a good thing, because you didn't know what was going on anywhere from 4-20 klicks (kilometers) away from you, that's probably a pretty good taste of what you're going to have to be prepared to do, on a regular basis.

If you're lucky, you may be able to use vehicles or other pack conveyances part or all the way to where you need to get, but that just adds convoy ops or pack animal skills to your necessary skillset.
Oh, and BTW, vehicles break down, usually the farthest point away from anything or anywhere you'd like to be. BTDT, got the T-shirt.

So, looking at the Big Green list, it summarizes the Sustainment Load as

1) Food for 1-3 days, depending on how hungry you are, and/or how well your resupply plan works.

2) A day's water, per man, i.e. 1 gallon@.

3) Wet/colder weather gear, and bare minimum sleeping arrangements (poncho+poncho liner "woobie").

4) A minimal amount of spare clothes.

5) Tools. In this case, just a 1# weapons cleaning kit for the exact same AR-series rifle you should probably have (or one for whatever you are carrying), and a military entrenching tool, i.e. small folding shovel, with case.

Note the list doesn't include a few nifty things.
Individual and/or group radios.
Batteries for same.
GPS (though a compass is included for every Swinging Richard, as it should be).
Anything to heat meals/boil water. Or even make a fire.
Any sort of group medical kit.
Any sort of litter for transporting the sick/injured.
"Pioneer" gear: hatchet, machete, hand saw, etc., of which any notional group should have at least 1@ of.
Rope (climbing or otherwise) or wire.
Maps, signal operating instructions, etc.
Signaling devices, pyrotechnics (panels, flares, smoke, etc.)
Or anything else.

Those are team- and mission-essential gear, and somebody's carrying some of all of that.

And we're civilians, so I've helpfully left out any discussion of things you won't have, like grenades (yeah, there's two frags in the basic soldier loadout, but that just equals another quart of water or another full mag pouch instead, so whatever), explosives, crew-served weapons, ad infinitum. Be happy for small mercies.

So now we're at or over 100#/person, even for any little stretch of the legs where you don't anticipate curling up warm and snug in your actual bed that night, which de facto means additional food and water for the day coming back. The only good news is that you'll drink and eat 8-10#/day of water and food, but some percentage of the time, you may be packing your poop back out for OPSEC reasons. And any additional day means you need to carry or find another 8-10 pounds of water and food per man to make it through, so that's really a wash except on an out and back two-day trip.

Welcome to "light" infantry.

Now you might also understand why Big Green is really rather fond of things like Bradleys and Strykers, rather than just boots. It means they only have to gear up in the 70# "fighting" load, and everything else stays on the vehicle.

It's also why if you shoot one of our guys in the leg, you've taken out one guy, but if you cripple or mobility-kill their AFV/IFV, you've pinned down an entire squad.

"But Aesop, we're not worried about head-to-head conflict with Mutant Biker Zombies in the Zombpocalypse, we're just worried about after a tornado, flood, or hurricane."

Okay, so you're still potentially going to deal with looters, so you're rocking a pistol, maybe a shotgun, and you'll still have the AR if you're any kind of smart, but even if we drop all that but the CCW pistol, you still need your food and water, tomorrow's food and water, chainsaws, axes, and such to get people out from under collapsed houses, or chop through a roof to get them out of the attic of a flooded house, and oh BTW, another metric buttload of medical and/or bare basic relief supplies, like litters/stretchers, blankets, water and food, and maybe tarps and tents. And comms. And go-to-hell waterproof bombproof maps and nav. Even the Cajun Navy, God bless 'em,  needs gas for the boats, batteries for the cell phones and radios, generators to charge them up, plus mountains of food, water, and bandaids.

(This is why generally, both your neighbors and TPTB prefer prepared folks: you're one less cluster of helpless refugees that have to be saved, sheltered, fed and watered, times forever.)

"Intelligence drives the fight."

Once you figure out what you're preparing to do, based on what you probably will face, you can plan for what you'll need for you, your group, and your mission.

Then look at what that looks like for one day.
Multiply that times the number of people in your group.
Multiply that times 30 for a month.
And so on, for how long this has typically/will probably/may possibly last.

You may be getting an inkling that "Sustainment" is part of the Great Chain Of Being for any purpose-driven, task-oriented group, military or otherwise, and therefore start looking at this as much more of an S-1/S-2/S-3/S-4/S-5/S-Whatever problem than a "what do I put in my pack for today" problem.

That would be wise.

You thought you were just working on being a good little foot soldier in a neighborhood defense group, and now you find out you're going to have to run a battalion. True fact: the persons in every military unit with both the best and worst grasp of what's going on are the lowest private, and the battalion commander. Now you know why.

Almost like I, let alone the entire military, had thought about this stuff before burping it all out on you. Trust me, they're not all about $600 hammers, sailors that can't steer a ship, and airplanes that don't fly.

A 5-year-old worries about what's in his lunchbox today.
Mom and dad worry about how to keep filling it up for 18 or so years.

Fieldcraft is therefore basically about "adulting".

Monday, May 21, 2018

Basic Training - Fieldcraft: Gear and Levels

1965 iteration. Ask me how I know. And still pretty damn
functional 50+ years later. Read on.                                   

Anybody who studies history, especially during or after military service, learns one immutable fact: there is nothing new under the sun.

The lists and layout of military gear from Caesar's legions to tomorrow have been, and will always be, remarkably similar, even as they differ in the particulars and details.

Don't take my word for it, the UK Telegraph did a remarkable piece covering British soldiers' kits from 1066 to 2016, spanning a paltry 950 years. They're similar because the basic unit of issue for all armies is one soldier, human type, bipedal. We all need the same things: water, food, shelter, clothing and armor for protection, and the tools to both survive afield and wage war on our perceived enemies. All that has changed across the span of millennia is the current technology available to us. And in some cases, it hasn't gotten all that far. There's no infantryman today who would be more poorly served by a Roman field spade from 40 B.C. than by a modern entrenching tool, and a canteen of water is still a canteen of water. And curiously, they have almost infallibly been right around 1 quart capacity in size.

But all that kit can be broken down into components, and summarized under the following categories.

0) Clothing: "So obvious it's before 'first-line' gear", i.e. underwear, shoes, boots, hat, and everthing in between, based on the climactic conditions where you are, and any needs for being anything from camouflaged to merely non-descript.

1) Survival load: "First-line gear", i.e. the stuff you should have on your person 24/7/365, even if your pants are around your ankles answering the call of nature.

2) Fighting load: "Second-line gear", i.e the things you need to move into battle and fight there.

3) Subsistence load: "Third-line gear", i.e. the things you carry on your back to feed, clothe, clean, and shelter yourself, and sleep in far from the creature comforts of normal civilization.

4) Administrative load: "Fourth-line gear", i.e. the things packed, on animals,vehicles, etc. that are nice to have, while not absolutely essential, or to extend the abilities of you beyond levels one through three.

5) Mission-specific load, the things you may need once, but not every day, nor all the time, in order do a given thing.

6) Everything else. Ranging from "this is cool" stuff to the "Gucci gear whore Hall Of Fame" to all the crap you own, and the place you keep it.

A cache (it's pronounced "cash" like "cash money", not "cashay", ever. People who say "cashay" are the same level of illiterate halfwit f**ktards as people who talk about "nucular weapons". You've been put on notice.) may (and should) contain gear from any of the above levels, so is not strictly assigned to any one of them.

What belongs in each of them, for you?

No, not these:

I mean, it depends on what you're doing, or envision having to do.
In short, you have to use your head, as well as your back, to select and carry the stuff required, because that changes, and will do so, all the time.

We'll cover First-line gear in a few days, when we get to Survival.
Second line gear can be summarized:

1) Primary weapon.
This may be a modern carbine or fighting rifle. It may be only your CCW piece. Depending on where you live, your CCW piece may be nothing more than OC spray, a bright flashlight, and a Swiss Army Knife/multitool. Think about it, and give due regard to where you may be and what you're doing; don't assume.

2) Carrying apparatus for everything else.
A sturdy belt and multiple pockets, all the way to a full MOLLE vest, etc.
It has to accommodate everything.

3) Water. And food.
The more the merrier. The lunch you're carrying (or, not) may be the only meal you get today.

4) First aid supplies.
May be just a TQ and an IBD. May even just be band aids, tape, a handkerchief, and some Tylenol/Motrin. Should always include any personal/Rx meds, like epi-pens, asthma inhalers, etc. (Duh!) That's for you to figure out. Just remember, in tough times, I'm probably only using what you brought, on you. So, how much are you worth, to yourself?

5) Resupply/logistics for #1, above.
Bullets, maybe. Cleaning kit, as appropriate. Maybe just another OC can, spare batteries for the bright blinding defense light, and a sharpener for your pocketknife/multitool. Work it out.

6) Any other handy weapons or tools you need all the time, at minimum.

If you want to get an idea of how much we're talking about, turn to page 74, i.e page 3-1, Table 3-2, of  FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017, and note that for the average soldier in the Army right now, the notional typical fighting load is nearly 70 pounds, and even without the protective vest and SAPI plates, it runs over 56 pounds, before they even put on a pack.
(See if you can cleverly deduce thereby why this is not a game for the weak, the infirm, the elderly, nor women of any kind. But I digress.)

We're going to stop here. If we've just weeded you out, because you can't hack the next steps, you have two choices: either suck it up, PT harder, and get rid of the 50 pound midsection you're already carrying, so you can carry a fighting load;
start reading up on John Mosby's (see column right) lessons on the Auxiliary and the Underground, because that's where you've just been de-selected to for any form of productive service.

Cooks and radio operators are every bit as vital in tough times as trigger-pullers, probably more so, frankly, and there's no shame in undertaking those functions. You should still be the fittest gorram cook or radio operator ever seen, unless you're physically incapable, or else you're still a fat douchebag for not even trying.

And you might still follow along, because to do even those jobs, it will help greatly for you to understand the needs of those doing what you cannot. Without you, they won't be doing much either.

Basic Training - Fieldcraft Intro

Fieldcraft: the art of living and working in the field, i.e. outdoors, away from ordinary living and working spaces.

Depending upon circumstance, this could be out in the wilderness, it could be living out of doors after disaster renders your normal habitat non-functional, or it could be working in an urban environment in less-than-happy times. Some training will be specific to one such situation, much of it will be applicable to all of them.

Some of it's cool-guy stuff, and some of it is pretty mundane.
It's all important, assuming you want to stay alive and come back.

Breaking it down into component parts for instruction, you'll need to know six main things:

I. Preparation - What To Take 
II. Transportation - How To Get There
III. Navigation - How To Find Your Way There, Around, and Back
IV. Habitation - How To Live While You're There
V. Operation - What To Do While You're There
VI. Communication - How To Tell Others What's Going On

Every basic task falls under one of those five topics. We'll spend the next 4 training days on it.
And don't expect any more 12 hour days.
Phase One is over. The real world functions 24/7. You will too.

Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks Level 1 (June 2009)
FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017
FM 3-25.26 Map Reading and Land Navigation (January 2005)
FM 21-75 Soldier Combat Skills (January 2008)
FM 7-8 Infantry Platoon and Squad (April 2016)
FM 24-19 Radio Operators Handbook (May 1991)
TC 3-21.76 Ranger Handbook (April 2017)

You're not going to learn all of that in 4 days.
You can learn enough to make a big difference, and put you miles ahead of (or more importantly, away from) headless rabble from the Free Sh*t Army in sporty times.

If that sounds worthwhile to you, stand by for further instruction.

Basic Training - PT

Monday of Week Two dawning means you've moved up a notch.

You'll add a rep to every exercise in the Daily Seven.
Then max push-ups, max sit-up in a minute and twenty seconds, and off for a 1/2 mile at a four minute pace.

Then cool down, change over, hydrate, and breakfast.
Fieldcraft classes start today.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Operation Un-Person

h/t Old NFO

Under the expediency argument that "Something Must Be Done!", we note that the correct approach is that the correct "Something" must be done.

There seems to be some misguided sentiment for infringing on the First Amendment, by passing legislation to forbid the naming of mass murderers in every new shooting spree.

Sorry, but that idea's a First Amendment hard stop.

(It'll also be thrown out of federal and/or state court on its ass so hard and fast the first time it's brought there, it won't even hit the steps on the way to the street.)

The correct answer is for the president, every member of the Cabinet, and the entire Republican caucus in both houses of Congress, to start chastising the media out loud and at length for dancing in the blood of children, and glorifying mass murderers.

Rub their noses in it until they finally get sick of hearing it, and stop doing it.

Make it the #YouToo movement.

If the White House also started yanking press credentials and access from non-compliant agencies over this, Sarah Sanders' daily briefings would get awfully lonely.

If the press wants to martyr themselves over glorifying murderers, let them do it, and hand them the nails and hammer to begin pounding their representatives onto their own crosses.

Trump & Co. going after the media is a win-win, for him, in perpetuity.

It's an easy rule: mention the name once after the first 12 hours, (you want the name out initially, so they don't try hiding black/Muslim/anyone else's f**ktard culpability, but once that's established, that's it) or show their picture - anyone anywhere in your organization - and you go to press Siberia in perpetuity. Like there aren't 4000 other organizations waiting in line for every open seat at the WH Press Room.

They will police themselves in about a minute, and shut up so fast it'd leave skidmarks.

Call it Operation Un-Person.
George Orwell would be proud.
Shooters would go down a permanent memory hole in a New York Minute.

Game over.

And it's not a law, it's simply government policy.

The media is free to disregard it. And wind up out on the curb, looking through the fence, while they get scooped forever by their colleagues, who will knife each other in the back for a byline or headline since ink and paper became a thing.

And then, once and for all, rescind the asinine federal Gun-Free School Zone nonsense, forever, and restore the Second Amendment to being the inviolable law of the land.

Schools will stop being victims when they stop being federally-mandated volunteers for the privilege.

IDGAF if Texas lets teachers pack .44 magnums, while NYFC puts cops into the schoolhouses; both approaches will suffice to end the bullshit.

When these murderous motherfuckers start getting shot in the face in 0.2 seconds, shooting up a school will become about as popular as trying to shoot up a police station, or an NRA meeting.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Deadpool 2

If you were thinking of seeing this, it's everything you were expecting. Everything.

Maybe a hair less satisfying than the original, but more than makes up for it with laugh-out-loud funny. By the yard. The too-spot-on running commentary by RR/Deadpool throughout the film is outright hilarious.

My rating:
Two thumbs way up.

Ebola 2018: Since You Asked

First one, and now another, commenters in comments on other posts asked an opinion on the latest Ebola outbreak:

(CNN) An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has entered a "new phase" after it spread to a large city, the country's health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, aid Wednesday.
The new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern Congo, the World Health Organization confirmed Thursday.
The spread of the virus from rural areas into a city has raised fears it could quickly spread and become harder to control.
A total of 45 cases of hemorrhagic fever have now been reported, including 25 deaths, the health ministry said Thursday. Fourteen cases have been confirmed with laboratory tests.
Until now, the cases and deaths were reported from the rural Bikoro health zone, nearly 150 kilometers from Mbandaka, allowing authorities to attempt ring-fencing vaccinations in the the affected areas.
A newly confirmed case in a densely populated part of the country will complicate attempts to control the outbreak.

"The arrival of Ebola in an urban area is very concerning and WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa.
"With the new case confirmed in Mbandaka, the scenario has changed," said Henry Gray, an MSF emergency coordinator in Mbandaka. "It is paramount to trace the suspect case in order to have a clearer view on how it reached the city."
In Mbandaka and Bikoro, 514 people who may have been in contact with infected people have been notified by national health authorities and are being monitored, according to MSF.
My original response still applies:
One case is just one case. No big deal.

It's when it starts morphing to two, four, eight, 16, 32 in a few weeks (like it does)that it starts getting dicey. In a city of  over 1M just improves the odds that it hops a plane to another continent before anyone's looking for it.

If Dallas had gone to four or eight cases in 2014, it would've gotten away from us in the U.S., and we would've been off to the races.

Jackasses with double-digit IQs forget that at the latter stage of the 2014 outbreak crisis, we had exactly one open BL-IV patient bed left, for the entire United States.

After that, hospitals become ghost towns pretty quickly.
I didn't like sportscasting the end of the world the last time, and I'll be dragged to it again only kicking and screaming.

One can only hope that both WHO, and TPTB in this administration are brighter than the unmitigated and incompetent @$$clowns showcased in the last one in 2014, who came within a whisker of getting everyone everywhere killed. No shit.

There are three posts from my Greatest Hits album you should probably refresh your memory upon.
Logarithmic Growth 101 : How Ebola doubles in the real world.
TL;DR: We are currently at between a 4 and a 5, on a 33-point scale of whether or not to panic. So we're still in the "small potatoes" phase.
So far.
(To recap, a 10 is 1000 cases. A 20 is just shy of 1M. A 30 is entire continents. 33 is functionally everybody.)

Do The Math : This is a breakdown of what the actual US resources are for dealing with Ebola.
TL;DR: 23 beds. It's actually worse than that: it turns out the hospitals in question are only staffed for 11 beds. For the entire U.S. At the height of things in 2014, we had 10 patients in those 11 beds. we were two actual patients away from everything turning to shite, just like Liberia/Sierra Leone/Guinea,because we were down to one open bed.

Surfing USA : how to deal with Ebola, if and when it comes here, and overwhelms our ability to treat it.
TL;DR: Forget masks. Stock up on food and water. And bullets.

You have a couple of things going for you this time around.

1) Obozo and his team of @$$clowns aren't running the show.
(That, dear friends, is yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge.)

2) There's a new Ebola vaccine that shows some promise, unlike last time around:
The World Health Organization, which earlier this week deployed 4,000 doses of experimental vaccine along with emergency teams and equipment to the Congo to control the outbreak, described the situation as "a concerning development."
The Ebola vaccine being provided -- called rVSV-ZEBOV -- has been shown to be safe in humans and highly effective against the Ebola virus, according to the WHO.
A 2016 study found it to be 100% effective in trials in Guinea in coordination with the country's Ministry of Health after the 2014-15 outbreak.

The other shoes dropping:
1) The virus may have mutated, rendering the vaccine ineffective already.
2) This outbreak has already blown past the vaccine-ring they tried to throw around it, either because of bacteriological factors (#1, above) or because of sloppy quarantine and human cupidity and stupidity in the region in question.

Either of these may render the vaccine approach useless, and then we're back to my Greatest Hits selection.

Since you asked.

Personally, as in the Spring of 2014, I'm hoping this is the only time I need to visit this topic this year.
But if you're a religious person, a prayer or two is in order.
Ebola, unbridled, is literally hell on earth.

Have A Nice Day.

Image © First (White) Horseman of the Apocalypse, AKA Pestilence

Leftism Is A Mental Disease

h/t Gun Free Zone

If you think you're going to argue and reason them out of this position, which they did not argue and reason themselves INTO in the first place,

rather than eventually have to end up shooting them in the face, I have a bridge to sell you.

We're dealing with madness in rabid dogs.
That always ever has only one recourse, of unfortunate necessity.

What you tell yourself at night, to get to sleep, is your business.
Cold daylight realities are liable to be another matter entirely, unless contrary to all available evidence, they start shaking off their rabid delusions for good. As it is, they show every sign of wanting to stay rabid, right up until the Ultimate Surprise about the community's sensibilities crosses their mind at about 3000fps.

Now do you understand the last two years? Getting the picture yet??

Basic Training - Shotgun

Hours 8,9,10,11,12

As I told you at the outset, we'll go with the Remington 870. The .mil has used it, and half a dozen other guns, going back to about the turn of the last century. (Cue up The Wind and The Lion for some worthwhile scenes with one.)
They currently use the Mossberg M590. Mossberg does one thing right that Remington gets wrong: they put the safety on the backstrap, where it belongs, and where you can operate it rapidly with your strong hand thumb, instead of behind the trigger guard (which is functional, but more awkward).
In every other way, IMHO, the Remington 870 was/is a better gun (at least, it was before now-bankrupt RemCorp starting larding it up with all kinds of plastic parts to cut costs and quality). I have a M590. (In addition to most of a rack full of 870s.) It has a barrel heat shield, and a handy bayonet lug, always a thing near and dear to any Marine's heart. Mine sported a non-standard 12-inch M7 bayonet during the Rodney King riots.
But you can buy and add the heat shield and bayonet lug to any standard pump, with a couple of parts, and a minimum of work.
At any rate, the 870 is probably the vanilla-ice-cream commonest shotgun in America at this point. But if you're working with a Mossberg, a Winchester Defender, a new or vintage Ithaca, or any number of other pump shotguns, you'll get the job done. So at the end of the day, I don't care what you've got, as long as you know how to run it accurately and safely.

Focus on learning that, whatever you're rocking.

Hour 8 - Nomenclature, Firing Cycle, Disassembly/Assembly/Function Checks/Maintenance
Shotgun basics x 2:

Shotgun functioning:

(Note, to find Reassembly, video 4 of 4, click on the link inside the video at the end of section 3. The http addy for it is a dead link for some reason.)

Two ways to go about it

(And a thanks to BillN in comments who spotted what I didn't, which was the spaz-ex on the other video when guy got flustercated, and lost his mind. My apologies for not catching the last 30 seconds of stupidity.)

Note for users: one thing I highly recommend you do with your 870, or other pump if the part(s) are available, is to replace the factory-standard small dark shell follower (the part that pushes shells back into the action during loading) with an aftermarket hi-viz heavy-duty plastic or anodized aluminum follower. I use a bright international orange one, so that I can see the action is empty at a glance. If I can see orange, I know there's nothing in that tube. It's also bigger and beefier than the OEM factory part, and therefore more reliable and less prone to jamming or tangling the shell follower spring.
It's a $5-10 mod, and you can do it in about a minute at home without tools, during normal disassembly for cleaning.
Do it.

Hour 9 - Immediate Action, Ammunition selection

Shotgun ammunition basics:

Hour 10 - Basics of Marksmanship and Moving Targets

The first video is prime: when firing a shotgun, lean forward more aggressively, and ride the recoil as you shoot to work the pump, so that when your muzzle comes back down, you're already set to fire the next round. I'm an average-sized guy, and I kick ass with a shotgun since learning that some decades hence. Your weight should be forward onto your leading leg. Then the recoil of full-power 12ga buckshot is inconsequential, and even the heavier magnums are tolerable.

When you're shooting at a moving target, coming or going doesn't really matter much.
Side to side does. The rule with clay pigeons is to pull the muzzle through the target, from rear to front, and pull the trigger as you get to the front edge, while still swinging the barrel. It works with clay pigeons, it works with birds on the wing, it works on feral pigs, and it works with bad people running across your field of view.
The beauty is, you can practice all you want at the local trap, skeet, or sporting clays range, to get the swing speed right. If you try to fire a shotgun like you aim a rifle, at a moving target, you'll miss behind them (and if they're not inanimate objects, they'll probably pick up speed getting away). Ask me how I know.

So spend some quality time practicing on trap or skeet (put a longer sporting barrel on the 870 if you do), get a new hobby, and build combat skills without looking like it.

Hour 11 - Course Of Fire

The entire USMC shotgun training for security personnel who use one, comprises a grand total of 2 hours of classroom time, and two hours of firing practice. The detailed breakdown is here. You should note that the orders section on shotgun training for additional security personnel in the first reference doesn't even require actual live fire training.

If live fire is conducted, following the breakdown in the second link, you fire 18 rounds of standard load 9-pellet 00B at 3 targets, (the CoF staggers it so you've fired 6 rounds at each target of the three by the time you've moved forward from the 25Y line to the 10Y line) engaged in the specified order in the second reference, from 25Y, 20Y, 15Y, and 10Y. 30 pellets (out of 54 possible: 9 pellets@ X 6 shells per target) impacted into each target is a pass, and qualification is a simple pass/fail.

That's it.
You can do the same thing most anyplace you can shoot, or you can replicate the exact full course to specification.
Your call.

A shotgun for defensive use should only be loaded with buckshot (00, 000, or #4) or slugs.
(Birdshot is lethal at muzzle range, and a mere annoyance after a very few yards distance. Don't try it. It only works in cheesedick Jason Bourne flicks, not real life.)
As a Rule Of Thumb, shot spreads approximately 1" in height and width for each 1 yard of distance from the muzzle. (Hardcore geeks, IDGAF if it's a bit more or less, I don't care about chokes and barrel lengths, nor about patterning the shot spread. That rule is literally,"close enough for government work". Pay attention to the general rule.)

Remember this guy? So, now you know he was about 6Y away from the muzzle,
assuming a cylinder bore weapon. Which was right in the sweet spot for
the person shooting at him.

So that means the ideal range for engagement is between about 6Y and 20Y for an average human target (given that the average person's torso is 18-20" across when facing you full-on). It'll still be quite effective closer up, but beyond 25Y, pattern spread, and a limited number of pellets, means that you'll start dropping pellets off the target (which flying lead you're still responsible for when it's continuing downrange past your target), and by 50 yards, the likelihood of an incapacitating hit with one round of buckshot on a man-sized target becomes prohibitively futile. Not impossible, just generally not worth the trouble.

Slugs, especially with a rifled barrel, turn a shotgun into a large-caliber hunting rifle with a 100-200Y range. If you have the slugs, if you have the barrel, if you have the sights, and if you've taken the time to train with all that in order to be able to use it to maximum effect.

If not, you get a roughly 100Y effective weapon shooting a rather devastating slug, with the accuracy of a Revolutionary War musket, at ranges a pistol is more difficult to be good with, without a lot of practice. And a weapon that's essentially worthless at normal rifle engagement ranges, particularly at 200Y and more, when you can't hit your target, but anyone even with a rusty old AK can hit you.
In short, great weapon indoors, in trench warfare, or in heavy brush or jungle, but not so good on prairie or desert plains unless the other team has nothing but clubs.

It is not a magic wand. Its forte is hammering relatively close targets with a devastating amount of damage, if they're not wearing a protective vest. (Most vests, including the 1980s-era PASGT military vest, were/are rated to stop fragments the size and velocity of shotgun pellets, among other things. Hips and heads if necessary, kids.)

A standard (2 3/4") buckshot round fires 9 .33 caliber pellets. At, say 10 yards, that turns your face or chest into hamburger. You tend to stop.

At 75 yards at a running person, you might get a hit or three, or you might miss them entirely, with all the pellets you fire.

Hour 12 - Sights, Lights, Lasers and low-Light Shooting

Shotguns need to be aimed.
And, just like pistols and rifles, there is no end of things you can add to them to help you see, ID, and hit your target. Some work better than others. The key is to know about them, try them out, and make sure before you make something a must-add, that what it gets you is worth the time, trouble, and expense.

A light is not a bad idea, to ID your target. The down side is that it also IDs you as a target to them.

Sights that only you can see in the dark, even without NOD, are even better.

Wearing NOD means you don't need the light, or the glowy sights.

You decide, and try it out for real, on a range, before you commit to something, and understand the pros and cons.


That concludes the marksmanship module, and Week One of basic training.
You're halfway finished.

Next, we start on fieldcraft.

Expect some administrative tidying up over the weekend, and perhaps a teaser, but I don't expect to start posting the next section this side of Monday for the meat and potatoes.
If I can do so, I'll do it like this week: all posts for the nominal day posted in the same day, rather than stringing it out over a month or more.
We'll see how that best-laid plan works out in reality, but that's where I'm headed with this.