26 January 2012

When you can't do what you want...

One of the lessons I've learned is essential to success in the military, "when you can't do what you want, do what you can."

If you want to take a hill, you literally "can't" do that until you have done the things you have to do to enable that.  Set a support by fire position, called for indirect, set up an echelon of fires that lets you get within halitosis range before turning off your support.  If you just try to take the hill you and your men will get slaughtered.

So do what you can.  This post is brought to you by John Mosby http://mountainguerrilla.blogspot.com/2012/01/public-service-announcement.html since I would like to add on to and wax poetic about what keyboard commandos (and even seasoned professionals) don't know about an insurgency.

If you are a middle aged (I'm in my thirties now, it used to be that 30 was old, but now it is the new 20 I've been told) guy like me you can probably still hump a ruck enough to keep up with the 18-23 year olds that make up the Infantry.  But it hurts like hell and that is why they give CO's and 1SG's humvees to roll around the battlefield.

Now my father is a machinist (I have mentioned this before).  I don't expect him to put on a rucksack and leave my mom to go play guerilla in the woods any time soon.  But who do you think I turn to when I need a rifle repaired?  In addition to rebarreling old rifles and adding scope bases my dad has spent more time under beat up old cars and trucks helping me get back on the road than I ever deserved.  Thank you Dad, I appreciate it and hope someday I can pass it on.

My sister just got certified as an LPN and hired full time.  Next year she'll go back to school to finish up her R.N. degree and certification.  I don't expect her to put on a ruck and go play guerilla any time soon.  But who do you think I'd trust to clean and pack a wound at 0300?

Some folks talk about being a "week long prepper" or a "month long prepper" as if it were anything other than second nature to my mom.  My mom could feed a squad of hungry Infantryman a delicious meal on a moments notice with nothing more than what she keeps in the walk in pantry.  Not many people in todays world know how to turn an animal into a meal from start to finish, but my folks do (and thank you for passing that skill on Dad).  So if you can't do what you want, you do what you can.

A family is generally a built in support network, now that I'm half a continent away from mine I don't have their skills available to help me.  My family supports me, they have stood behind me through a whole heap of military life.  If push ever came to shove those are the folks that I would run to (or my older brother who is also well prepared for bad things to happen).  But right now I don't have them available so I have to rethink survival plans.

But what is the point about all this?  Every successful insurgency depends more on an active and passive support network than on insurgent fighters.  How many safe houses does it take to support just one fighter?  Do you have a buddy who is a realtor, property manager, or landlord and can stash you in empty apartments or houses?  How many "money men" does it take to keep the food, medicine, weapons, and ammunition flowing for an operational cell?  Do you have a buddy who is an accountant, bank manager, or financial planner?  Do you think that even simple things like food become easy to get when you are being hunted and food is being rationed?  How many housewives does it take to add just one extra can of food to their weekly shopping trip to support one fighter?

The fact of the matter is that in an insurgency the Powers That Be will use any and all tools including purchasing habits (when cash is outlawed there will be no "anonymous" transactions), social networking (how many dumb crooks are caught because they updated their location on Facebook?), surveillance via satellite, spy plane, and drones (already in use round the world).  If your network can't keep you out of the limelight you are effectively screwed.

When JM is talking about building a support network he is talking about building people and facilities that allow those who are willing and able to fight to stay in the field.  I can't stress how important it is for those support personnel to be in place.  Fighter win engagements, but logistics wins wars.  Or as Patton liked to say, "Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics."


Disciple of Night said...

It's easy to get discouraged, because one is led to believe that only those on the front lines of any war are making a difference. We're led to believe that "doing what we can" is never good enough. For a guy like me, in his 20s, I feel that I "should" be able to run without getting tired very easily, simply because a lot of guys in their 20s can. I'm young, aren't I supposed to be bursting with energy? That's not the lot I was given in life. I had to spend my young adulthood just getting to the point where I could walk again without pain. Arthritis sucks, even more so when you're trying to get in shape as part of your preps.

To make it worse, prepping costs lots of money. Money for equipment, good classes, ammo to train with, spare parts, medical classes, etc. But one thing I learned eventually, reinforced by Mountain Guerilla, is that you can always do something that will be useful. For me, that usually means reading, by which you can gain knowledge about anything relevant.

Do I still wish I had the body of an SAS soldier? Of course I do, who wouldn't like that? It takes a lot of humility to accept what you aren't and learn to say, "At least I'm not doing nothing."

Brock Townsend said...

Well said and posted.

AM said...

Disciple of Night, I wouldn't worry too much about being support. As much as Appleseed disparages "cooks" I recommend actually knowing how to cook things from scratch. Anyone who can turn a 100 pounds of flour into bread, biscuits, and noodles is very useful person indeed.

Mountain Guerrilla said...

One of the big problems I have with the Appleseed Project (In the ever-present interest of intellectual honesty, I have LIMITED exposure to Appleseed...Basically, I've read some of their articles and discussed it with a couple of friends who are instructors for Appleseed, and a couple of people who have done the Appleseed program as students, is their denigration of support echelons.
Granted, as a young hooah, I was as guilty as anyone of looking down on support personnel, but one of the first things you learn as a young NCO is how critical they are.
If you're a forty-five year old mother of six...you're not going to be a "rifleman," on the line, no matter how many times you can hit a reduced silhouette target at 25M. Same thing applies to MANY, MANY people, or various reasons. But....there is nothing wrong with being support. Think about the fact that the U.S. military has something like a 10:1 tail-to-tooth ratio...For every combat arms warfighter, there are ten support echelon troops supporting them...

(Unrelated, but the other issue I have with AS is the lack of realistic expectations they impart in participants. You will not be shooting stationary targets. You will be shooting people who move, often erratically. One-shot, one-kill is not even often he case for school-trained snipers, let alone a suburban housewife turned "Designated Marksman." I absoutely endorse being able to engage targets to the mechanical limits of your weapon, but let's not have people thinking they can make 500yd one-shot hits with a fucking SKS (No shit, there I was....a guy I know who was an AS grad claimed repeatedly to be making consistent hits with his SKS....)

P.S. I should admit that the AS instructors I count as friends are not veterans, but are pretty well-grounded in shooting skills, from 0-500, and my complaints have more to do with people I've talked to who attended a weekend AS course.

Anonymous said...

It is just like a bunch of little kids playing football, everybody wants to be the quarterback or the reciever and nobody wants to block or hand off or run a false route.

Some folks seem to be taking AS(quality basic rifle instruction at a very affordable price) as something more than it is.


davy crocket said...

Old age and treachery will always out do youth and skill. As a personal hero I look to Samuel Whitmore.
I wouldn't right off anybody yet. We can theorize and pontificate about this and that but when the times comes we really have no idea of what kind of fight we will in or what enemy we will be up against.
My crystal ball is broken. I only know what I am capable of and I am doing pretty darn good, If I say so myself. I intend to live life to the fullest despite what the government says or wants. They want me to fear them, but I don't. I came to the conclusion a long time ago, that if they are going to arrest me, then they will, if they are going to kill me, then they will, but as long as I go down with freedom on my lips then I fought the good fight.
A lot of us are not going to make it out alive. Perhaps you'd best prep for that reality first. Embrace the suck friends.
A lot of us will be going to prison as well. If you have a friend or family in the joint ask them about survival skills. What they know might just come in handy.
Here is my worst case scenario- picked up on suspicion,interrogated then locked away in a hole somewhere.
No gear, No Guns, No support< No friends. You prepped for that? That's where they want to put us and some of us they will.
One of the best things I have ever trained on was prisoner of war resistance. Guess what? Even the big bad super soldiers crack, give up and cry like babies under torture. I will and so will you. Don't kid yourself. Accept that it might happen to you and will happen to some one you know or love.
If you plan on fighting a guerrilla war against them, think about the fact that they trained a lot of us, literally they have been prepping to fight against us, as a guerrilla force, for decades. They are ready for it and have plans to deal with us.
Maybe we should strike where they are not looking. We have got to get in close and hit them where they can get hurt. We have to pick targets of real value and make them fell uneasy about moving around. Won't be easy but it isn't impossible for where I am sitting, but hey what the hell do I know. Only time will tell. Ya'll be good to each other, your going to need any help you can get.

pdxr13 said...

Davy said "We have got to get in close and hit them where they can get hurt. We have to pick targets of real value and make them fell uneasy about moving around."

In-close means that they can't use their superior big-fire without fratricide (Commanders who must win will kill their own people to do it, "with regret", of course).

Targets of real value are grounded aircraft, parked vehicles, fuel depots, service depots, refineries, rail, power transmission/generation facilities, pipelines, comm ground stations, and effective commanders (not ineffective OpFor commanders, they must be preserved!).

Attacks on maintenance facilities might seem ineffective against OpFor strength, but over time, front-line units will be degraded. At first, there will be shelf-spares, but there is a sharp limit to spares, and these may be in Texas (or Germany, not yet manufactured), while the broken bird or tank is in Sacramento. Even credible threat of attack reduces maintenance effectiveness, as staff loses sleep and wastes time on protective behaviors. There will be "safety briefings", NBC training, 12 hours shifts that result in 5 hours production, supply Sgt. frustration, "hot stamping" (certifying equipment without completely checking) to meet brutal new quotas, and general lack of confidence up and down the chain of command.

Siege mentality must be promoted, and movement made expensive/risky without heavily armed/armored convoy or armored helicopter doing taxi duty. The cost of guarding should be oppressive, only slightly less than the cost of not-guarding.


Anonymous said...

During WWII, 1 in 6 U.S. men 18-49 was in uniform. That means 5 of 6, and almost all the women, weren't. Which, coincidentally, works out to a ratio similar to that of the avg. leg/mech/armor div. The saving grace is the remaining teeth have destructive capabilities 1 to 3 echelons higher than their 1945 counterparts, but it comes at the expense of high fragility.
One other note: in reading Glen Beck's book on Geo. Washington, was the seminal event in the French & Indian War when GW realized, as British troops got their asses handed to them by an inferior force @ the Battle of the Monongahela, that "these guys can be taken".
There are veritable legions of people produced since the 1960s, far more than there are available for active duty, who know the .mil better than it knows itself. I see our goal as being like Switzerland-so formidable in any event that the juice isn't worth the squeeze.
- Aesop

Anonymous said...

The comments on what Appleseed is and isn't deserve some attention. Appleseed isn't really about creating trained militiamen. The skills taught at clinics, however, are a sound foundation for future training. They are time-tested techniques that can get a shooter shooting 4 MOA groups from standard field positions. That's 1" at 25 meters or 20" at about 500 yards. Now that's useful no matter how else you look at it, and that training is a great start for those wanting to go further in marksmanship training. But marksmanship training really isn't the main purpose of Appleseed. The real purpose is to teach the history of the American Revolutionary War, particularly day one on April 19, 1775, the day the Redcoats marched on Lexington and Concord and got their butts kicked. From the stories told, Americans learn of the sacrifices their forefathers made for them so we could be free. These lessons, which are certainly not taught in our public schools these days, plant the seeds of resistance to tyranny into the minds of attendees, be they cooks or Riflemen. It helps those who are "good, law-abiding" citizens to understand that being good and law-abiding isn't always the most moral course of action. If these seeds of the spirit of resistance to tyranny are not planted, then any chance of restoring liberty is lost. While I certainly want my compatriots surrounding me to be good marksmen, I also know that not everyone can become a marksman, but they can certainly contribute to the cause of liberty in other ways that are absolutely vital. Getting supplies to those manning liberty's teeth, is no less important, but these folks will also be well aware of the risks and will be willing to take them because of their commitment to the cause of liberty. To those of you who already know how to shoot well (and some of you who make those claims really don't...), please go to the nearest Appleseed, and take with you your friends and family, whether they are interested in being marksmen or not, so they can hear these stories and have the seeds of liberty planted. Given what is ahead of us, we are going to need all the help we can get.

Signed, an Appleseed Green Hat.