03 March 2013

Lone Wolf: Eight bits of advice.

Having been off the net for a while I'm still playing catch up.  Max Velocity's article on tactics for the Lone Wolf has stirred the debate, and now I get to add my two cents.

First off, if you absolutely have no other option, then be a lone wolf.  A relatively good fire team will make short work of a loan wolf in a react to contact situation.  You have to be infinitely better as a loner than you do as a member of a team, because there is NO ONE else to help cover your mistakes.

You have two (or less) eyes, and can only hear as good as you can.  That fire team has eight (or less, down to four eyes if you take one from each member), so even if you had a half blind fire team you would still have twice as many eyes as a lone wolf.

The only offensive tactic available to a Lone Wolf is the ambush.  Whether this is due to sniping (long range ambush) or an explosive device (short range ambush) that is it.  No deliberate attacks, no raids, no anything that requires both fire and maneuver.

Defensively you can't stop anything as a lone wolf unless you get deep and heavy into preparing the battlefield.  If you can plant enough explosives you can usually muck up the other sides advance for a bit.  But a lone guy with a rifle is just a "react to contact" drill for any decent unit.

Others have written this, and it is all true.  But if you really had to be a loner, this is my advice.  I've never been a loner, but I've thought about it quite a bit.

First, be an assassin, not a harasser.  Figure out who the key players for the opposition are, and target them.  Target key personnel in the enemies command, intelligence, or logistic structures.  You are an operational cell of one, so be as focused as you can on being operationally effective.

Second, mix it up.  If you are great with a rifle, learn to use bombs.  If you can make a bomb out of bisquick learn to shoot a rifle.  Being able to use multiple modus operendi will help keep the enemy from pinpointing you based on your operational signature any faster than they already can.

Third, know when to call it quits.  You don't do anyone any good dead.  Wait until the other side makes a big raid and kills a bunch of people, then lie low.  If your activities stop after a bunch of people die, then it is likely that the enemy will think they got you in that operation.  Wait until there is an influx of people from somewhere so that if you resume operations the enemy thinks it is from a new cell.

Fourth, don't get cocky.  If you have had several successes in a row, revert to the third piece of advice, know when to quit.  A flea can suck a lot of blood from a dog if it keeps moving and doesn't stop to drink its fill in one spot.  This is probably the best piece of advice I can give.

Fifth, lay low.  Getting known by a cool call sign stokes your ego, but it also puts a price on your head.  Juba is dead, and for all the terror that Juba caused US troops it didn't matter in the end.

Sixth, have a react to contact plan.  Whether it is to carry so much firepower that you are a single man fire team or it is to ditch your gear and become a nature photographer (or some other excuse to being where you were) is up to you.  But have a plan, and execute the plan as best you can.

Seventh, don't get too hung up on gear: If you have an AK and a sniper rifle and you want to conduct a sniping mission it makes sense to bring the AK for infil and exfil protection.  If you have a battle rifle that is capable of making the long shot (AR-10, FAL, M1A, etc) then use that instead of carrying two rifles.  There are no "wrong" decisions here, just preferences and what you happen to have available.  Gear can dictate tactics to some extent, so understand the limitations of your gear, and your body.

And finally, surrender is an option.  Especially if you can sterilize yourself before surrendering.  Unless you are sure that your enemy will kill you out of hand then it makes sense to surrender and see if you can't survive the system and live to fight another day.  Many of our guests in Guantanamo have found there way back to the battlefield having waited for the legal process to take place.

And that is it, at the end of the day it is always better to work with people you trust.


Aesop said...

Good advice, and yet...

Presidential would-be assassins, or even the successful ones, argue that shooting privates is a better long-term game than shooting generals. Both will be replaced, but I'd rather have snipers who rack up a company's worth of privates over a few months than those who get one brigadier, then get hosed.

Deception can leverage the disadvantage in numbers.
(Get familiar with the story of Gideon in the Old Testament.)
Carlos Hathcock (and doubtless others) used to try and position shots so that the bullet would travel past an outcrop or structure, because the differential sound echoes from them would play hell with pinpointing his location by the shot, and thus give him time to displace for followup shots, or simply exit the area. One needn't set up an IED, but a simple relay trigger for a couple of firecrackers or a loud blank from a different direction wouldn't seem to require a PhD in electrical engineering.

A Lone Wolf has to excel at planning, and contingencies. It's all about how to do it and every possible what if, or it will be a short and exciting career for those operationally lazy.

One also oughtn't feel shy about deciding that today isn't a good day to die, and simply declining an engagement when the odds are ridiculously long.

One has to be able to exploit serendipity. You may have planned A, but along the way, an opportunity to do B presents itself. Like airplane landings, any win you walk from is a success.

Choose tactics carefully.
It may be a fine thing to potshoot a squad in defile at the bottom of a deep canyon they can't attack out of. Right up until the first radio call for CAS, when you become a pizza on a hilltop while they're hiding behind rocks and laughing.

Responses go in cycles.
If you've worked out a way to disappear or blend in after taking action, and stay there for a few hours, it's likely life will have returned to normal, and an egress becomes much easier than trying to be the guy sprinting to get outside a cordon 20 minutes after the bomb blast/sniper shot.

Also overlooked is the opportunity to do things that require neither shooting nor blowing things up.
Learn what things are pivotal in importance, and learn how to monkeywrench them. Vehicles don't go without fuel. Blow off enough tires, and vehicle patrol degrade to foot patrols. Bombs are easy if you have them, but wirecutters fit in your pocket, don't get tracked by the authorities, can be discarded and replaced almost at will, and are a lot quieter. In fact, with anything electrical, adding wires where they don't belong, or removing wires from where they do can do far more damage than an explosion, and usually isn't detectable until after one is long gone.

Think outside the box. You may not be able to come up with 100 pounds of AmFO or a Stinger missile. But if you get your hands on 100 pounds of birdseed, and take out a million dollar aircraft with a birdstrike once a month from spreading it out in the flight path of an airfield, you're worth your weight in gold. The same tricks works if you put animal food on convoy routes. Deer take out more cars in some states than AQ does in SWAsia most years. And as a rule, if a patrolling vehicle gets taken out by deer, they don't usually launch a task force or an air strike.

And remember that long roads, long rail lines, and long electrical and pipe lines are impossible to guard everywhere. Just weigh the consequences of their loss to all parties very carefully before going there.

And while you have none of the strengths of a group, you have none of their weaknesses either.
> You won't be waiting on someone.
> You won't squeal on yourself.
> Your unit "footprint" is just that - one set of footprints.
> Logistics for one are a lot easier to plan, and provide, for one instead of 10 or 100.

General Soren said...

And for the love of God, do not post a fucking "manifesto" on Facebook.

Aesop, as an aircraft mechanic, I'm laughing my ass off at the idea of calling in bird strikes on an airfield. That's genius, and it's hilarious at the same time. It wouldn't even take much smooth-talking to get out of trouble if they wondered why one is hanging around an airfield with some field glasses and a book on ornithology, provided one wasn't armed to the teeth.

Be a regular customer "watching hawks" or something, and occasionally toss seed, and the guards probably wouldn't even care after a while.

Appearing to be slightly crazy is always a good defense. One never wants to appear to be highly intelligent, but brain-dumping an ornithology degree on some hapless guard might steer them in quite the wrong direction.

badanov said...

It may seem trite, but pulling a practical joke on your enemies, for example, putting heavy lithium grease inside the door handle of a Hummer, would likely get someone angry, and with zero idea a lone wolf did it.

The One said...

Wow! All great comments for a change.
I like where this is going. Badanov is right as the rest. A little grease on a handle or a rubber spider, cockroach or fake rat to piss people off at each other. Make it look like a practical jokester among the ranks so they suspect one another that may lead to poor morale and infighting that can disrupt a unit to reduce their efficiency.