|Posted by Vigilante on June 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM|
I have compiled a list of several content areas that I feel are of special interest to the citizen soldier. These are areas where, for one reason or another, I have developed some particular insight.
1) Light Discipline
2) Noise Discipline
3) “Tactical” use of white light
4) Battle drills
6) Gear Readiness
9) Night Operations
10) Booby Traps
11) Tactical Intel/Counter Intel
1. Light Discipline
A night around the camp fire is a great thing. I have more fun talking to my friends on these nights than most anything else in my life. But it anyone was really looking for us this would be the biggest no-no I can imagine. I like to think everyone realizes this, but after looking at the packing lists of some folks with the amount of fire starting equipment, I’m not so sure. (Note: fire starting skills and equipment is a good idea for non tactical situations.)
The only light you should ever expect to use is a small blue or red LED light that you can hang around your neck. Blue is actually better than red because it will allow you to see blood when administering first aid. You should only do this when absolutely necessary such as for first aid or map reading, and then hopefully you can cover yourself with a poncho or tarp.
One thing, we may have to depend on is heat to cook our food. For this you should have a small stove, and in tactical situations this should only be used during the day. A good routine if you are moving by day is to be up and out of your position by dawn and stop for one hot meal after a couple of hours. During the day the light and thermal signature is much reduced. Of course, if possible it is best to not use it at all. But on a long patrol it might be impossible to carry enough non dehydrated food that does not require cooking.
2. Noise discipline
Another poorly practiced area during training is noise discipline. This is all well and good for the “friends hiking image.” But in reality you need to reduce noise to the lowest amount possible. Citizen soldiers should practice moving through the woods, by night and day, while making as little noise as possible. This varies in difficulty with the terrain. You also need to practice the “patrol whisper,” where you speak without moving the back of your throat and simply using your diaphragm to force air out.
Another area of concern is equipment. All hard surfaces should be covered by a layer or two of tape to prevent clanking. These include the buckles of gear and sling swivels. You should also eliminate things sticking out from your body, this is hard with all the stuff you might expect to carry, but a loose strap caught on a passing branch can give away a patrol. Lastly, gear should be secured. Dropped gear makes a lot of noise in quiet woods.
3. Tactical use of white light
A rifle with combat light
One thing I’m seeing more and more on self-defense weapons are white lights. This is a good thing, because in any self-defense situation it is critical that you identify a target. However, these have a very limited set of uses. In your house, at night, a brief flash of a white light to identify a target or illuminate a shadow is probably not a bad thing. In a large room or outdoors where there might be multiple targets this is suicidal. Don’t believe me? Try an old fashioned game of “flashlight tag” in your back yard with the kids. In a multiple target situation, using your light to illuminate one target will instantly give you away to another. One of the desired effects of weapon lights is blinding your target, outside you are unlikely to hit their face right away and if there is another target he is going to light up your position. The light on your firearm should be limited to fast searches indoors. To this end I prefer smaller lights that are easily removed (i.e. no hard mounts, not remote pressure switches etc.) If I was a SWAT door-kicker type it would be a different story. As with anything you should take some time practicing the use of weapon lights around your house.
4. Battle Drills
Toy soldiers can help illustrate tactical principles before practice
Also known as “immediate actions drills,” a battle drill is a pre-planned and rehearsed maneuver that a team performs under a certain situation. These are situations where reaction time is most important to survival. For example, when caught under fire, but not in the kill zone of an ambush (far ambush), a team might want to perform an “Australian peel,” where each team member, in order of march, fires and then withdraws to the rear of the column. You should have a basic set of battle drills that cover likely situations and are within the capabilities of your group. Basic ones to start might be; 1) near ambush (right left and front) 2) far ambush (you aren’t in the killing zone) 3) hasty ambush (where you set up a hasty ambush when you see an enemy but they haven’t seen you) 5) incoming fire (shout out a direction and run like hell) and 6) crossing a danger area. Refer to the reading list for books that might give you an idea of where to begin. The most important element of battle drills is that they are rehearsed and each member of a team understands their role so that it is instinctive.
Burlap and spray paint are helpful in camouflaging gear
Camouflage is the guerilla soldier’s best friend. Since any potential enemy will likely outclass you in terms of manpower, firepower and technology, your best bet is to not be seen. A lot of people seem to think this involves things like ghillie suits, full sets of cammies and face paint. This might be a good idea if you live in a very rural area, but if there is any chance you can blend in to the civil population it is a better idea. This has been the best camouflage of the guerilla fighter since the beginning of time. To this goal you should concentrate on a “low key” look. I like Earth tone clothing, if you mix a couple of Earth tone colors between shirt and pants you can move from decent camouflage in a wooded environment to blending in at Wal-Mart by simply dropping your field gear. What is important is that you can make this switch quickly.
If necessary, Earth tone civilian clothing and equipment can be rapidly camouflaged with cans of camouflage spray paint, or better yet- the addition of frayed strips of burlap or similar material. But as a general rule, tactical gear (things that would keep you from blending with the civilian environment anyway) should be pre camouflaged with color and you should keep some burlap around to add to it. For example, I like two tone weapons, with a flat black finish and green furniture. The change in color makes it hard for the human eye to recognize the shape of the rifle at a distance against a variable background. Some people take this further and fully cammo their rifles, this is even better. Another trick that is easy to achieve is to have some cammo netting with you. This can be draped over your body or hung to create a hide position.
6. Gear Readiness
The old time “minuteman” concept is a hard point to maintain. Think about it… how long would it take you to go from dead asleep to ready for combat? I’ve actually timed myself and it’s about twenty minutes to be in “full battle rattle.” But how long should it take? A lot of people seem to put stock in to things like maintaining loaded magazines and having all of there gear ready. I don’t like to keep a bunch of magazines loaded, mostly because I like to load them with different amounts of ammo for shooting drills, and I don’t shoot the same ammo in training as I would if I was heading to a fight. What I think is a good idea, is if you can keep your line gear together and packed with a go box of ammo, that is enough. I keep my chest rig, belt rig, a set of old clothes + boots and a basic load of ammo (in stripper clips not magazines) in a nondescript gym bag. I can grab that, my rucksack and my rifle out of my safe and I’m ready to drive away.
When I was in the Army, when my battalion was in the field, you could walk up and pull the same thing out of every outside rucksack pocket. Ever piece of gear was arranged the same way (where possible) so that people and parts were near interchangeable. It was a very “one size fits all” system. This gives you a huge advantage, for the most part it doesn’t matter what rucksack you grab when you’re jumping up after an air assault, and when a man goes down his gear and supplies can easily be used to replenish the others.
This level of standardization is next to impossible among citizen soldiers. We buy our gear at different times and from different places, we have our own preferences for weapons and budgets. I guess this is an area where you should simply do the best you can. The first concern is that ammunition is interchangeable. If everyone in a group sticks with an AR type rifle or an AK/SKS then you are doing a lot better than many militia types I see on the net. Magazine interchangeability would be even better. Next would be to make sure those expendable items like batteries, filters etc would be interchangeable. The last truly possible thing would to make sure that important rapid access items such as the first aid kit are similar and in roughly the same place.
8. Combat Communications
I am referring here to the non-electronic communication that happens prior to, during and immediately after contact.
One thing that any group of citizen soldiers needs is a system of hand and arm signals. There are good starting points in several of the manuals listed on the reading list page. These need to be modified to meet your needs and should be practiced. Hand and arm signals are (of course) a non verbal method of communication that allows you to maintain noise discipline when telling someone something over a distance. After seeing most hand signals each person should immediately duplicate it as the person originating it will probably not be visible to everyone. This insures that the information is disseminated quickly.
While in contact noise discipline becomes moot and all the people that may need to know information might not see the person giving the signal. There are “in contact” hand signals such as “move out” and “cease fire.” This is not to maintain noise discipline but because the noise can be so great in a firefight that people won’t be able to hear you. Another trick is to shout things at the top of your lungs. Every member of the force should immediately repeat the command loudly. Shouted commands should be pre planned and brief, “code words” are a good idea.
There are also a few inexpensive ideas you might want to explore to improve communications while in contact. One, and the cheapest, is whistles. It is a good idea for every member of a patrol to have a safety whistle. The meaning of one blast, two blasts etc should be preplanned and discussed during warning orders. Other areas you need to consider are flares and smoke devices. Either can be used (during night and day respectively) to signal one event during a contact, such as “withdraw” or “flank left.” Again, the meaning of a particular signal needs to be understood before contact.
9. Night Operations
NVDs and luminous tape are two tools that will help you at night
Traditionally, nighttime is the friend of the guerilla soldier. This is not true for us, for several reasons. First, operating at night, sneaking through the suburbs or woods and land navigating, is a completely different world. It is a world that most of us are completely unfamiliar with. And practicing for it can get you in a lot of trouble if caught. Like so many things that I have discussed, the best thing to do is to get out at night and give it a try. You might need to do this during a camping trip, or perhaps just in your own yard with a fiend. But you need to do it.
Second, if you don’t understand the capabilities of modern nigh vision equipment it can be deadly. A few minutes watching videos from Iraq on youtube can show you what the capabilities of modern technology are. First, let’s hope we never have to face modern technology. But you need to study what they can do. Against a less technologically advanced enemy, with practice, the night can still be your friend. There is a strong psychological advantage to being able to operate at night when your enemy can’t.
That being said there are a few tricks that will help you survive at night.
1) Understand your terrain. Some terrain is impossible to move through at night, the close vegetation of the Southeastern US comes to mind. Give it a shot and see if you can. Sometimes it is better to hunker down at night.
2) Get a night vision device. Even the low cost 1st generation stuff can give you some advantages. (See the other gear page.)
3) Get luminous “cat’s eyes” and sew them to the backs of equipment such hats and packs.
4) Tighten up the movement intervals. It’s always good to be spread out, but a team should never be so spread out where they don’t know where each other are. On dark nights you might have to travel with your hand on the rucksack of your friend.
10. Booby Traps
Booby traps are traditionally another huge friend to the guerilla fighter. Here I mean traps that can be command detonated, and things that can be detonated by accident by the enemy. Booby traps can be very low tech (like a pungi-stick) or extremely sophisticated (like a cell phone activated IED.)
Booby traps can be used as a force multiplier in both defensive and offensive roles. In the defense:
1) they are useful for slowing the speed of an enemy along likely avenues of approach;
2) used to warn against an approaching enemy supplementary to, or replacing sentries; and
3) used as mass casualty creators to blunt the assault of an enemy. In the offense: 1) they are useful for “area denial” to slow the progress of enemy troops; 2) as an element of an ambush, perhaps to initiate an ambush or 3) as a moral weapon. However the employment of booby traps should be confined to instances where civilians will not be harmed. Remember, we are most likely to be fighting on our own turf, and any time innocents are hurt it would work against us.
Of course actual training in the manufacture of most of these things is illegal; therefore your training needs to be mostly theoretical. I would suggest reading the relevant military field manuals on improvised explosive devices and booby traps discussed on the reading list page. A good review of Vietnam era history books will offer insight to how these things were used by both sides and there is information on their use in Iraq. The tactical use of booby traps can be explored by using noisemakers and trip flairs.
11. Tactical Intelligence/Counter Intelligence
Various leadership and intelligence tools
A small guerilla force does not have the ability to disseminate information and usually will not be able to pass intelligence to higher echelons nearly as well as a conventional force. Yet traditionally accurate and timely intelligence is a hallmark of successful guerilla campaigns. This is due, in a large part, to a friendly noncombatant auxiliary. There is not much advice I can offer about this as skills in developing such a network are unique to each situation and there is very little real world experience available. I would point you in the direction of the classic works of guerilla literature in the reading list. The Swiss book Total Resistance also has a practical outline for developing an auxiliary intelligence network. One thing stated universally by people who have done such things is that it is critical to keep a cordial two way relationship with other locals. Another point to add here; the availability of such a network is a primary difference between what I would call a legitimate insurgency or guerilla force and a group of terrorist thugs (I don’t expect I’m giving advice to terrorists.) If the bulk of the populace is actually for the occupiers/government then you are doomed to failure in the long term.
The expectation of a civilian auxiliary does not mean that we do not need practice traditional military skills in intelligence gathering. There are two of these areas available to us. 1) Is traditional reconnaissance and observation skills. You need to read up on and discuss things like the SALUTE(R) report and work to develop skills in clandestine observation. 2) Is the condition of enemy captures and dead, as well as any artifacts (maps and documents that they may have.) Enemy captures should be immediately searched for such things and should be collected by the group leader for examination.
One good reason to understand combat intelligence gathering techniques is limit the effectiveness they might have against you. You should strive to reduce the things you carry that might give away your intents or disposition. These include maps of permanent positions on maps and GPS. You should also remain concealed from observation to whatever degree possible (taking in to account the technologies that an enemy may have.) Signals intelligence is another major concern when facing a technologically advanced enemy.
Lastly, regarding combat intelligence, it is useless unless it is disseminated. On gaining intelligence it should be spread to all members of a team in case the leader/intelligence specialist does not return from the operation. If you are operating with other groups intelligence should be spread as soon as possible.
I don’t want to get into discussing a lot of different patrol formations or the like. These are written in other places better than I can here. I would point you towards the US Army Ranger Manual and Light Infantry Tactics: For Small Teams. However, I do want to mention some critical aspects of training that apply mostly to citizen soldiers. We, to include me, have a tendency to train in the woods. I think it more likely that, if we ever have to fight, it would be in an urban or suburban terrain. Also, most citizen soldiers rarely train using vehicles (at least not that I have seen.) These are two things that need to be considered in your planning. The US military Field Manuals on Urban Operations and Convoy operations are good places to start looking for info.
POSTSCRIPT: Please do not misinterpret this blog or any entry in this blog, as a call to arms, fomenting armed insurrection against the lawfully constituted government of the United States of America. It is simply intended as a preparatory training manual in case events unfold that demand such action in the future.
Created and Compiled by a friend in Tennesee