28 March 2013

Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom

I have written before about the OODA loop.  If you haven't read that, please do so now before continuing.

The OODA loop is all about "information dominance" when applied to Maneuver Warfare.  Your side knows where the other side is while you deny them that information about your own formations.  Got a UAV spotting from beyond visible detection range?  You can hit the enemy with artillery or precision guided munitions before they ever know they are in danger.  That is an example of information dominance.

To explain what you need to have information dominance there are three things you need to know.
1. Where am I?
2. Where are my buddies?
3. Where are the bad guys?

If you know those three things, you will win the fight, or at worst NOT LOSE.  Knowing those three bits of information allows you to get to the "D" part of the OODA loop and decide what to do, and allows you to decide to do something else as those bits of information change.

Network centric warfare is all about sharing information between individuals, teams, and larger formations across the battlespace.  If a team out in the boonies finds the enemy Command Post, what can they really do about it?  Not much until they share that information.  Because they 1, know where they are (through compass/map or GPS, doesn't matter) they can answer #3 for their side (where is the enemy?) and once that information gets to someone who has an understanding of #2 (where are my buddies) they can make a decision to engage the enemy with the most effective or most expedient means available.

I've tried to incorporate elements of electronic warfare and information warfare into the FC7 to help people see where warfare is now, and where it might go in the future.  Fiction is a great vehicle to test out concepts and tactics that I think will emerge as "common" in a potential future.  Why did Johnny and Charlie have to work around jammers?  What tactical advantage does jamming your enemy give you?  To give you the answer, when you stop the enemies ability to communicate bits of information, even if someone knows all three bits, if they can't communicate that to someone who can allocate combat power to destroy the enemy, then that knowledge is functionally worthless.

And that it network centric warfare.  The systems that are used to share information have varying levels of speed and robustness.  I found it ironic that a commenter over at WRSA, from his computer, commented that he didn't know anything about network centric warfare because he didn't know much about computers.

The systems used to communicate don't matter so much as that communication is taking place.  Tin cans and fishing line may work good enough in some situation, an IRC client might be preferred in others, heck even good old fashioned messenger will get the message through. 

"A pebble can stop an avalanche, a branch can stop a flood.  But they must be very well placed."  I can't remember where I heard that, but it sums up the philosophy of "knowledge enables small things to have great results."

This is why I think that a Lone Wolf will be largely ineffective.  A "lone operator" who is enabled by a shared awareness of people in his community is not a lone wolf, he is part of a larger network of shared information and understanding.  Moishe fed Frank information, Frank performed analysis and planning which Moishe distributed to others.  The flow of information is absolutely critical.

Now, what happens when you have too much of a good thing?  Paralysis by analysis.  You have so many options you can't choose one.  I've been there, sometimes there are no standout good options, and someone just has to make a choice.  However, it also means that you are likely "swimming in a sea of data but thirsting for information."

Data is a fact, "Johnny lives three blocks down from Frank".  Facts alone do not give you a tactical advantage.  Facts must be linked together with other facts, such as "A convoy of medical supplies will run at 5 P.M. every other Tuesday." and "The medical convoy route runs between Johnny and Frank's houses on a single lane dirt road to bypass a blown bridge."

Linking facts.  Answering, "Where am I? Where are my buddies? Where is the enemy?"  Sharing those bits of information with your peers, superiors, and subordinates.  The "Network Centric Warfare" is not about the computer networks, voice and data networks, satellite links, or any other single bit of technology.  It is about bringing people together for your team, and doing what you can to deny the enemy the free flow of information.  Once the facts are linked together into information, processing that information becomes knowledge.  And once you know what to do, you use experience to weigh knowledge against risks to make a wise decision. 

Data, information, knowledge, wisdom.  You can deny your enemy data you deny your enemy all that follows.

Other types of information warfare include informing and influencing public opinion.  The Vietnam war protestors told outrageous lies that made it into history books because they made the lie big and kept telling it.  When the people are decisive terrain, you want to have information dominance, you want to be credible, believable, and you want to discredit the other team.

You can't stop the signal.

27 March 2013

What does collapse look like?

Collapse looks like today.  And collapse will look like tomorrow, and the day after that.

Collapse looks like everything getting more expensive.  Roads getting turned from blacktop back into gravel.  Abandoned houses being stripped of copper wire.  Cities not able to provide fire, police, and EMS teams to every neighborhood.

All organisms have a life cycle.  Some are violently fast like E. Coli, replicating itself every eleven minutes until it destroys the environment or comes into harmony with it, being killed as often as it splits.  Or fast and insidious like a virus, invading cells to do nothing but replicate replicate replicate until it is stopped by the host, or kills the host, but not before moving on to a new host.

All life cycles have a part labeled, "death."

In a normal cycle you have "origin/birth, rapid growth/maturation, reproduction, death."  Normally that "reproduction" part of the cycle is the point of hope, the continuing of the wheel of time.  But as the wheel of time spits out a new generation the windmill of fate tosses you to the ash heap of history.

History is a funny subject.  You cannot do an experiment with history, so you really aren't a scientist but you can learn powerful insights into the way things are, because of the way things were.  Sometimes I like to think that the way things are now will be a good indicator of the way things will be in the future.

Just like children are not the clones of their parents, the life cycle is never exactly the same.  "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes" is a good analogy.

The Liberty Movement should probably recognize this now, and expect that there can never be a "restoration" of the Republic.  Every model I've ever studied in biology or history shows that things change, and information dilution, deletion, or corruption changes things for the better or for the worse.

So what do you want the next iteration of liberty to look like?  It will descend into some form of tyranny for that is the nature of government.  It happened to Rome, and Germany, and it will happen here.  Rome fell into the dark ages, and Germany was occupied for decades.

What will happen to us?  History says it won't be good.

25 March 2013

Recon, Raid and Ambush

I don't know if my perception is skewed by what I read, but it seems to me that a lot of people in the Liberty movement believe that conducting light infantry style operations will be something that comes naturally. I think that this is a dangerous and foolish notion on both a tactical and strategic level.  Scotland would be free if Scots could work together beyond the clan level.

In Ranger School you really only do three missions.  Recon an objective, conduct a Raid on an objective, conduct an Ambush along a line of communication (which means road or trail).

That is it.

But you will do a Recon as a leader, as a rifleman, as a grenadier, as a SAW gunner, as a machine gunner pulling security.  You will do a raid as a Platoon leader, squad leader, platoon sergeant, team leader, RTO and Medic.  You will do an ambush and learn every damn job in the platoon until you can do it when you are so tired you have auditory and visual hallucinations.

Don't get the wrong impression, there are a thousand things that can go wrong conducting the basics, and a gajillion different variations on the themes (do your air assault in or use a zodiac?  or both?) but what it boiled down to is simply conduct a recon, raid, or ambush.

Here is what a raid looked like if whittled down to the absolute minimum.

In an established patrol base.
Receive the mission.
Plan the mission using Troop Leading Procedures (TLPs) and Operations Order production.
The plan would include: order of movement, movement technique and security, contingencies, communications PACE (primary, alternate, contingency, emergency) plan, roles and responsibilities, planned checkpoints and rally points, and a go to hell plan.
Once you briefed the plan to your platoon internal leadership you began movement.
Once you got to the Objective Rally Point you would set security, drop rucks, and push out recon.
Once recon was finished objective security would be set.
Once objective security was set the support by fire position would be emplaced.
Once SBF was in position the main assault force would be emplaced.
At some point the trigger to start shooting would happen (covered in the plan).
At some point leadership would control the movement of forces through the assault to clear the objective.
At some point leadership would control exfil off the objective to the Objective Rally Point.
Rucks gathered back up.
Move to a new location and establish a patrol base.

Things I didn't talk about, sand table, rehearsals, head counts, react to contact during movement.  All the little details that give Ranger School students "go/no go" grades for the different roles and associated responsibilities.

I bring this up because the current generation of Soldiers has spent the bulk of their career at war, and at war units adopt "Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures" that work in their Area of Operations, with the equipment they have to work with.  They figure that if it worked for them once, it will work for them again.

If you asked a grunt soldier in a Stryker unit how to conduct a raid I bet you dimes to donuts that the answer you would get is, "breach the wall with a Stryker, drop ramp, stack on the door, enter and clear."  If you asked that grunt's Platoon Sergeant he would say, "roll in the outer security, breach with a Stryker and set up immediate security for the entry team."  And if you asked the Company Commander I think you have a 50% chance of getting an answer that is close to what the doctrinal answer on how to conduct a raid is.

Now we joke about "Doctrine Man" and how he comes down to make simple shit complicated.  However, if you don't know the right way to do things, you won't know when you are doing something wrong and putting people at risk without necessity.  Everything we do is a balance between risk and success, and doctrine is about knowing the least risky way to do something.

I wasn't too far out of Officer Basic Course when my Battalion Commander stumped his entire battalion's worth of Lieutenants by asking, "what is the maximum length of time that a SAW gunner can rapid fire on a basic combat load?"  It is a pretty simple question isn't it?  Why did we not know?  Because we didn't know doctrine, and we didn't know how to plan to use that soldier and his weapon to the utmost utility.  It was an eye opener for me, a Ranger school graduate and leader of men, that I didn't have that answer handy.  I did know where to look it up, as did everyone else in the room.  But knowing where to find an answer is not the same as being competent at your job.

I have been a part of Platoon, Company, Battalion, and Brigade level planning now.  One thing I have learned is that the people who know doctrine are the ones who make the best plans.  The ones who use good ideas and guesses end up planning the same operation two or three times as reality forces them to adjust.

I've learned that any plan that requires independent thought of a subordinate during a planning phase is going to fail.  Subordinates are great at thinking on their feet during the execution to get things done, but they generally suck at planning on their own.  Checklists are your friend, they help super studs and zero duds alike perform the same task to standard (Ranger School is all about following the checklist, the checklists are there for a reason, use them).

So ask yourself, if Rangers spend 62 days in the suck just to learn how to perform a Raid, Ambush, and Recon to standard when they are cold, tired, wet, and hungry, how damn important is it to know basic doctrine and follow the checklists?  Something to think about anyways. And why does it suck so much?  Because it isn't about Recons Raids or Ambushes, it is about working together.  Gung Ho means work together.  Work as a cohesive team, even when you are at your weakest.

So, what school exists for the "lone wolf" among the elite units?  The only thing I can think of is the CAG selection course where individual initiative and performance is the deciding factor (so I've been told, when I went through SFAS back in 2001 they were using a selection standard more similar to CAGs).  However, even if you get selected for CAG, you still have to go through the Q Course where it is all about teamwork.

I don't know about all of human history, but from what I know of warfare, "lone wolf" actors have never been decisive in the outcome of a revolution.  So having "tribe" or "clan" is good.  Having a unified political presence is decisive.  In the Revolutionary War General Washington lost more battles than not.  In WWII after Pearl Harbor we got our asses handed to us straight for 18 months.  Remember that winning a war isn't always about killing the other guy, it is about being the last one standing.  And most insurgencies go along the same way, the insurgents die in disproportionate amounts to the superpower, but the superpower decides to go away.

Think about it this way: if you take the kill/loss ratio from the US experience in Vietnam, and apply it to the current US political atmosphere against the "Three Percent" then there would be not enough Three Percenters left at the end of the war to have a political voice.  There may be a few lone wolves howling at the moon, but they will be dismissed.

War is bloody politics.  Politics is just people trying to work together, often to gain power over other people.  And politics is "mostly" bloodless war.

23 March 2013

Money, Debt, Wealth

Back in 2006 the Democrats ran on a platform of fiscal restraint and managed to take a majority of the House and Senate.  Then they proceeded to make the fiscal insanity of the Republicans under GWBush seem like a pleasant memory from a bygone era, first with the bailouts and then with an illegal "no budget" government that Harry Reid has done on purpose to spend us into oblivion through stop gap funding amendments.

There is a method to the spending madness.  If there weren't a method to the madness then people wouldn't keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

If you make the American Dollar worth less, eventually it will be worthless.  By using debt financing to expand the monetary base the amount of dollars in circulation has increased, and of course inflation has come along with it.

If someone had a twenty dollar debt in 1920 it was a pretty big deal.  If someone had a 20 dollar debt in 1940 it was less of a big deal for the average person, as it would no longer take months to earn that much money, but a few days to a week or so.  By 1960 that 20 dollar debt was down to about a day or two worth of labor.  Now 20 dollars is less than three hours of labor, at minimum wage.

If you took out a loan at zero percent interest in 1920, and just kept rolling it over, the two months of labor that it took you to buy that debt would be reduced by inflation to just under three hours of labor by the time you got paid back in 2013.

This is the only logical reason why "quantitative easing" has been used as an implement of national policy, to take money now, make it worth less, and pay it back later on a loan with effectively negative interest (when inflation is faster than the interest on the loan, people are paying someone for the privilege to lend them money).

The question remains, can it work?  Other governments have tried it in the past, notably the Germans after WWI.  Their economic collapse didn't last forever.  Argentina, Chile, they've all gone through this process of debt leading to inflation leading to collapse when the gamble didn't work.

So who will get hurt the worst?  As always the savers, no matter if there is a bust or just the stagflation and "lost decade" like Japan.  Or it could just be outright theft like in Cyprus.  People who save money lose wealth through inflation (or theft).  Better to keep your money in some sort of market based account (except that as Ann Barnhardt has explained to anyone who will listen, that house of cards is ripe to fall too).  Which leads me to the conclusion that it really is down to you and your mattress.  Anything you can't physically protect can not be counted on as a resource for your continued survival.

Those numbers in your IRA?  Might be enough to buy you a beer or a burger if we see post WWI Germany levels of inflation.  That savings account?  Could be a Snicker bar.  Numbers are nothing, they are a "dimensionless value" until you tack on some sort of label.  20 cents, 20 tons, 20 bricks, 20 piles of manure.  The number 20 has no inherent value. The continuing inflation turns that dimension of "money" into a dimensionless value, just a number.  When something is worth zero, any number times zero is zero.

I didn't start prepping until I was in my early 20s, and I have boxes of 22lr that still have $9.99 as the sticker price for a box of 500 on them.  A combination of falling dollar value and increasing commodity prices make that seem like a dang good investment now.  Wish I'd spent a heap more on ammo and components.

22 March 2013

Johnny and Charlie

Johnny put the radio down in disgust then checked his cell phone.  "Ok, they jammed us."

The ambush was going well, so far.  Johnny gave the command take out the machine gun turrets verbally to his communications specialist.  The nerd with glasses (there was a stereotype that played out) looked out of place in the unit filled with macho types carrying guns and rocket launchers.  The nerd spoke the message into a crank phone and typed a few sentences into this terminal and blasted the message out worldwide, depending on relays outside the immediate jamming area to get the message through.

War has always caused an arms and technology race.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and survival is the the mother of necessity.

Once the Empire started embracing Electronic Warfare for land forces it became much harder to use wireless devices to provide command and control to units dispersed by even a city block.  So to provide C2 alternate methods of communication were required.

The slowest form of C2 communication was the messenger.  Whether it was a Signal Soldier on a bicycle or a carrier pigeon this form of message traveled often at the speed of smell.  The big draw back is that it only took one bullet to stop the message from getting through.

The next fastest form came in the form of wired communication.  First telegraph followed by telephone followed by data links.  In WWII tapping the enemies telephone wire was a preferred technique of the Wehrmacht.

Finally wireless communication.  In WWII radio operators complained that they had to switch frequencies almost instantaneously because they could only get a message or two out before the German's jammed them.  A sexy Hollywood vixen named Hedy Lamar came up with an idea to use the same principle used in player pianos to automatically "frequency hop" between a preset selection of frequencies at a synchronized interval.  The military establishment ignored this idea until the mid 50's when a defense contractor with better ties to the pentagon sold the DoD on the idea of "spread spectrum" radios.

As a result, spread spectrum or frequency hopping radios became hard to triangulate and hard to jam.  Civilian single band radios became easier and easier to exploit and deny.

Johnny knew he had a problem when he couldn't maneuver his platoon, so two weeks ago he started talking the problem over with Charlie, the nerd in glasses running the comms terminal.

"Honestly it's an area effect."  Charlie said as he drew diagrams on a white board around Johnny's tactical plan.  "The Empire will have jammers that can deny you comms inside this circle.  It doesn't matter how big the circle is really, all we have to do is maintain comms by either not using radio frequencies, or by keeping our radio relays close enough that the jammers can't drown them out."

"Look Poindexter, I don't care how simple it is to you, I want to know how we are going to work through the problem."  Johnny said.

Charlie looked Johnny dead in the eye.  "Fucking treat me with respect or I'll go follow someone who will."

Johnny hated being at the mercy of a nerd, but damnit he needed this man to be able to fight.  "All right, you tell me how to do this and I'll put you in for a god damned medal."

"First: You can go wired, prep your ambush site with wires to each position.  This won't help you if you have to maneuver out of those positions."  Charlie spoke slowly. "Easiest way is to set up a ring network and have everyone listen in."

"Second: you can use repeaters, set up a wifi network and try to run voice over IP or even just text to anything that can get an IP address such as a laptop, smart phone, or tablet."  Charlie continued.  "Even with the most powerful devices I can get you these will be easily jammed.  On the flip side, since it is a ubiquitous commercial technology this has a low probability of being exploited for intelligence by the Empire."

"Third: You can keep using radios and hope that it works next time."  Charlie shrugged.  "You can target the antennas on the vehicles to try to degrade their jammers.  That won't help much if they have a bird in the air."

"Fourth, you can try a combination of all of these, and throw in some redundant systems like laser microphones to boot."  Charlie finished.

"Laser microphone?" Johnny asked, "Like James Bond shit?"

"Yes, like James Bond Shit."  Charlie replied.  "If you set up your position so that the outlying positions can eavesdrop in on you, and you can eavesdrop in on them, in a frequency used by light, that is damn near impossible to jam without physically blocking the atmosphere with smoke or dust."

"Ok, set me up for option number 4." Johnny said.  "I know they are going to run an ammo resupply convoy through that area and I want to take it out."

So Charlie got to work, he pulled in every member of the Republic Restoration Movement that had ever worked telecom or spliced Cat5e together to build a network.  They set up Johnny's position with access to two different ISPs connected to two different backbone providers.  They ran wires for old crank phones through storm drains between buildings to provide backup for voice.  They put a wifi access point near every position, and then set up every IP enabled device to access the encrypted hidden network.  The redundant comms platforms seemed to be working now that bullets were flying.

"Ok, Bravo Team, begin assault."  Johnny said into the microphone of the crank phone.  Bravo team bounded into position, withering fire from Alpha team keeping the Empirials buttoned up in the big armored trucks.

"Johnny." Charlie said. "Security team 2 reports the Reaction Force moving our way."

"Roger.  Have Sec Team 2 delay the Reaction Force, we need more time."

Charlie nodded and typed into his terminal.  "Sec Team 2 acknowledges, reports they can give you five minutes."

The fight was over in three.  Once Bravo Team got into position outside the disabled armored truck shaped charge explosives blasted through one side and killed the occupants with overpressure.  The trailer carrying ammunition was looted quickly, then set fire before everyone hauled ass out of the kill zone.  Smoke from the fires started interfering with the laser microphones, but by then everyone had their marching orders to disperse.

Three weeks later Johnny handed Charlie a shiny hand cast brass medal, a star made from lightning bolts.  "It doesn't mean anything, really."  Johnny said, "But we made a citation and everything to go with it.  If we ever get a government set up I'll see if I can make it official."

21 March 2013

Dream

I don't normally remember dreams.  Last night I had the second dream I've ever had about using a firearm on a human being.

I don't know how young I was in the dream, save I was young enough to be living at home with my family in a house that we moved out of before I hit my teen years.  I knew my older brother had taken some sort of map or diagram from some people who were interested in getting it back (somehow it was evidence of a crime they committed).

Three men entered our home (the one my grandfather built with the split entrance) and went upstairs and started gathering my family into a corner and threatening them.  I managed to grab my single stack 9mm carry piece (my mind must have been all jumbled, I didn't get that piece until late last year, not in my childhood) and head up stairs.

All the men were facing away from me, trying to intimidate my family into giving up the evidence.  I ordered the men to their knees and got my family away.  The men were on their knees with hands behind their head and I covered them with the pistol just waiting for an adult to take charge, and the one on the far right started to rise.  I told him to get back down and he didn't, so I shot him in the head.  He fell.  The second man, in the middle, started to rise too, and I didn't warn him, I shot him in the head, and he fell.  The last man on the left got an angry look on his face and started to rise, and I shot him twice, because my hands were shaky.

As the last man fell a female deputy walked out of the shadows shaking her head, having watched the whole thing go down, and I knew that I would be working through the consequences of my actions for years to come, but my family was safely crying behind me.  And that ended the dream.
 
The last I had dream about shooting someone it was that I didn't have enough firepower to bring the guy down, he charged like a bull and I emptied a full magazine into him with no effect.  I was carrying a 1911 as my concealed pistol at that time, but I remember trying for center mass shots and not being very accurate.

So, what do my dreams tell me?

Shot placement shot placement shot placement.  A good hit with a 9mm is better than a poor hit with a 45.

Trouble comes in threes, and you have to deal with them all.

Hesitation equals death.  If you have a gun on someone and they disobey your orders it is only to cause you harm.  Pull the damn trigger.

Lastly?  A dream is just a dream, how our subconscious works through memories and thoughts, experiences and emotions. 

20 March 2013

Boom, big bada boom.

"Once upon a time in Iraq we had cab drivers take the trunk lids off their taxis to prove they weren't packed with explosives."  A grizzled old Master Sergeant spoke to the Private First Class manning the 30 cal machine gun in the turret.  "The terrorists killed a couple cabbies, but once every taxi driver complied they stopped killing them."

"Why the hell don't we do that here?" The PFC asked, scanning the line of cars going back around the block.

"Because this isn't Iraq, and so far we don't have a suicide vehicle borne IED threat."  The Master Sergeant replied.  "And we don't want it to be Iraq and we don't want people so pissed at us that they are willing to kill themselves to get us in the process.  But if this is anything like Iraq, things are going to get worse"

The Master Sergeant let his eyes focus on infinity as he started to explain how he went from rolling around the countryside in HMMWVs with no doors to rocking out in an MRAP with a decoy device out front and an electronic warfare device blocking common signals all in the span of three deployments.

In a city of any substantial size, parking spaces existed at a premium.  No matter how self righteous the urban planners were the car pooling, aggressive bus routes, and "light rail" did not alleviate the congestion of thousands of people moving from one area to live to another area to work, or to try to find work.

In that mass confusion the roadside car bomb took hold as a tactic.  First they were just "big booms" of nitrate based fertilizer with some sort of petroleum fuel to activate.  As bomb making cells got more experience, got fed more lessons learned from foreign organizations the types of bombs spread, and their effectiveness grew.  Directional fragmentation, explosively formed projectiles, even "overpressure" charges designed to knock a vehicle off a roadway and into a body of water.

Priming systems came in all flavors.  Portable radio antenna sections stuffed with a cracked car fuse and black powder, bottleneck rifle rounds with the bullet removed and twin stereo wire shoved inside and crimped down tight, even commercial blasting caps stolen wholesale from mining operations.  Explosives varied as well, from simple Ammonium Nitrate/Fuel Oil to one enterprising chemist who took denatured alcohol and starting ether to dissolve bulk gunpowder back into gel form and cast it into improvised warheads.  The nitrocellulose bombs needed the hottest primers, but provided a big boom.

The first "house borne IED" in this war wasn't a house, but an empty warehouse being raided by the forces of the Empire.  A lifting charge was used to scatter 20 pounds of powdered sugar, and a secondary black powder charge set the whole thing off as a thermobaric munition.  The structure collapsed and the entry team lost.

The Master Sergeant pulled out a Camel cigarrette, the PX still had them for relatively cheap.  "You see son, even this cigarette can become a short time fuse for a bomb."  The Sergeant took a drag.  Pull off the filter, put one end over cannon fuze, and light the other, give you anywhere from three to five minutes to get out of the area before the firework show."

"We have to get lucky every time."  Inhaling the bitter smoke the Master Sergeant exhaled through his nose, twin streams of white smoke polluting the interior of the vehicle.  "They only have to get lucky once."

19 March 2013

The Continuum of human politics inside Bracken's Cube

Taking a step back from fiction for a bit, as I was trying to make a point about Bracken's Cube that I don't think I made explicit enough.  The cube is a way to generalize a population, and like all generalities it cannot portray the entire truth.  The cube seeks to explain a political ideology based on racial, geographic, and economic indicators.  This is fine, and using it as a predictive tool is completely legit, but we must really look at what the tool is, and isn't.

The cube isn't about sides, the cube is about volume.  If you put every individual inside the "cube" where they fell on the three axis you would not end up with a perfect cube.   It would look kinda like a lopsided pyramid or tear drop shape, with a large "poor floor" and small wealthy top skewed towards whites (we don't have an even distribution of races in any country).  No one perfectly exists at the sides or corners of the cube, each axis is a continuum.  There will always be someone more successful, or poorer, or even whiter or blacker.

So my point is that the cube is best understood as only a starting point, not an infallible crystal ball.  If an area is poor, rural, and white, what does that say about their politics?  Nothing really, in fact someone even wrote a book titled, "What's the matter with Kansas?" trying to figure out how in the world poor, rural, white people can embrace conservative values.

In thinking about using Bracken's Cube as a decision on where to live, and whom to ally yourself with, we need to not think about economic status so much as values.  I have much less in common with wealthy Democrats than I do with very poor Republicans despite my economic status as a relatively successful government employee.

Let us take Bracken's Cube beyond the third dimension and add "human intelligence" and "information awareness" to the mix.  Now we are starting to see clusters of poor, urban, lower intelligence, low information awareness people all voting in a monolithic block.  Why do they vote that way?  What are the Democrats doing that is so successful with that waste of humanity?  How do you translate the data into something that you can use to win a political fight?

That political fight, the one that transcends racial and socioeconomic classes, that is where I see the key tension line.  Not between the rich and poor, but between the dependent and those who prefer dependency and the independent and those who prefer independence.  Whites and blacks fought on both sides of the Civil War, southerners fought on both sides too. 

The difference between Al Sharpton and Alan West is what?  The difference between George Soros and the Koch brothers?  Both examples fall into the similar areas of the cube, but the real difference is political, not racial, geographic, or economic. 

People wonder how a nation can fall into fascism like Germany under Hitler.  The truth is that most people will "go along to get along" with their group, and as long as your own particular job isn't too distasteful you'll keep doing what you are doing because it takes less effort, less will, and less courage to try to change the group.  Especially when the group dangles something in front of you like money, identity, pride, or freedom in the case of Southern blacks fighting for the Confederacy.  

Looking at the spectrum of Obama voters you have plenty of examples of low information, low income, urbanites casting their vote along racial and party lines along with wealthy true believers.  Bracken's Cube predicted this.  On the flip side the rock stars of the conservative movement should be able to tap into those racial lines as well, Ted Cruz, Alan West, Condi Rice, Bobby Jindal, etc.  How you are perceived by the "cube people" is their reality, Republicans are racist, just ask them.  This is how I know that the republicans aren't serious about winning, they let the Dem's and mass media control the narrative.

What should the conservatives do to manipulate the cube?

Replace Wayne LaPierre with Alan West.  There is no difference in ideology, only the color of skin.  But perception matters, in fact perception is more important in politics than truth or honor.

Get Condi Rice back to into party leadership.  She is smart, intelligent, and she needs a leadership role that has her in charge of old white men.  If not Condi then any conservative woman who can dodge the ridicule better than Palin.

Conservatives don't have an ideology problem, they have an image problem.  The bulk of the volume of Bracken's Cube lives in a world where perception is reality.  They don't care what the talking head on the TV says as long as that head is black, or hispanic, or whatever (just not asian because that's too close to white).

Politics is bloodless war.  War is bloody politics.  We have over 50 dense urban centers that skew our national politics towards collapse.  How do we fight the political fight now so that the bloody fight to come is minimized?  A purely logical person might argue that instead of minimizing the bloodshed we should excise those 50 urban areas to maximize initial bloodshed and shorten the length of the a civil war.  That would cause a severe setback for manufacturing and economic development, but it would skew the cube towards more rural, independent minded individuals.

If you want to change the makeup of the cube killing off a bunch of people is one answer.  Changing their political orientation is another.  A bloody answer, a bloodless answer, and it all comes down to politics.  How can we point out to people who truly believe in unions that the politics of unions lead directly to their impotence and demise as a power broker?  How do we convince them that the Democratic party is using the same playbook on a national scale that is having the exact same results?  How do we get people to accept a bitter truth instead of a pleasant lie? 

18 March 2013

Bracken's Cube

Ok Class, today we will be discussing Bracken's Cube in light of the history prior to the declaration of Empire and subsequent insurgent revolution." The instructor smiled as the class groaned.

"First off, what does the cube describe?"  The instructor pointed to an intelligent social outcast.

"It is a three dimensional construct that describes diametrically opposed social statuses." The student replied, "rich and poor, urban and rural, liberal and conservative."

"That is all true, but what does it mean?" The instructor asked.

"Well, Bracken thought that the revolution would be fought along those lines, poor black people banding together, rich white people banding together, conservative and liberals banding together."  A smart girl in a short pleated skirt said without being prompted.

"Good point Sarah."  The instructor replied, "so how did it actually go down?"

"Well, it turned out that the cube applied more to geography than social statuses."  The know it all outcast spoke up.  He was tall, skinny, and slightly clumsy but with a mind like a steel trap.  "This was similar to the first Civil War where geography played a large role in deciding who fought for whom, and even then there were some exceptions such as the Alabama volunteers who fought for the North."

"That's a good point."  The instructor went to the chalkboard and sketched out six lines, writing oppositional statuses on each.  "But anthropologists and sociologists are the only ones who are allowed to get away with sweeping generalizations.  What Bracken did was take the obvious stress lines and link them in a multidimensional way." 

The instructor drew the lines intersecting into the familiar cube shape.  "In reality there was never more than dimension that was worth talking about, and that was, 'who do you support?' in the fight between the Republic Restoration Movement and the Empire."

"Kinda like Robert E. Lee was politically aligned with the North by his personal actions but fought for the south due to familial and geographic ties."  Another student spoke up from the back.

"Exactly, the problem of Robert E. Lee has been discussed by people much smarter than anyone in this classroom."  The instructor smiled, "and that includes myself, so we'll just sideline the problem of General Lee and get back to the cube."

"The cube only generally predicted who would fight for whom."  Sarah spoke up again.  "We've studied all the heroes from the Republic Restoration Movement and they come in both sexes and all races."

"Excellent point Sarah, but the question remains, do we study them because they were general examples or exceptions to the rule?" The instructor smiled, enjoying the look of thoughtfulness that passed over more than one student's face.

One enterprising student referred to his computer pad.  "Well, looking at the recorded death statistics by race and gender against medals awarded for heroism I see no statistical preference for any one group over the span of the entire conflict.  But when you break it down geographically you see that there are great disparities in the distribution."

"And that is to be expected." The instructor smiled, "You wouldn't expect an Algonquin to be fighting in Arizona alongside the Apache, would you?  Don't answer that, it was rhetorical.  But the distribution of peoples along the lines of geography was not rhetorical, and that is what Bracken tried to describe in his cube."

"Economic status seemed to be the least important variable."  Sarah said as she manipulated date on her comp pad. "It almost looks like entire regiments were formed from different areas and they just translated the social status into a military rank structure.  The rich became leaders and the poor became followers."

"Excellent point Sarah."  The instructor smiled.  "While there was never an official caste system after the fall of the Jim Crow laws, much like in India where the government declared an equal society the United States had a caste society.  You had Ivy League graduates over private college graduates over public college graduates over high school graduates over high school drop outs."

"Why else would some of those politicians have been successful if not for their social status?" The instructor smiled.  "But transition between the levels of the social caste system was possible, and one of those ways was military service.  A successful General could parachute in to the top of US politics often quite successfully."

"That is because the military was the last recognized form of meritocracy available to the underclass."  The student in the back spoke up.  "They were a self selecting group from every strata of society, even those upper crust echelons who wanted to just get some street cred."

"And there were are, the most respected institute was a nominal meritocracy."  The instructor said as the bell rang signalling the end of period.  "Tomorrow for class I want a five paragraph exposition on why the military wasn't a meritocracy followed by at least three paragraphs explaining why it was perceived as one."

17 March 2013

Oskar Schindler Option

"How do revolutions end?"  The old Major asked.

"In liberty or tyranny."  The Captain replied, sipping the black market bourbon and savoring the taste of nine year old single cask whiskey.

"How will this revolution end?"  The old Major asked.

"It has to end in liberty." The Captain replied, "we already have tyranny."

"If you had to say what the problem is, what would you propose as a problem statement?"  The Major asked, eyes closed as he tried to visualize the dimensions of conflict.

"At the base of it all it is geographic culture."  The Captain replied, twirling the ice cubes in his drink.  "You have an urban class and a rural class, and the urban class can dominate politics, but the rural class relies on the principles of the republic to keep from being dominated by the urban class."

"That's a useful way to describe the situation, but what is the problem statement?"  The Major didn't open his eyes.

"How do you convince someone to leave others alone?"  The Captain sipped his drink, trying to make the flavor linger in his memory.

"That's not a problem statement." The Major replied.

"Ok, we can go the traditional route, such as, 'conduct counter terror operations to isolate the insurgents from their support base and provide security to the populace."  The Captain said.

"But who are the insurgents?  The urban class that is trying to destroy the Republic through pure Democracy, or the rural class fighting to restore the Republic?"  The Major asked.

"The urban class controls our paychecks."  The Captain stated bitterly.  "In the end this must have been what it felt like to watch the cadets from the South leave Westpoint to ride south.  You parted friends and met again as enemies.  Hell, we can't fix this with a wall or a DMZ, no matter what the 'urban achipelago' school of thought thinks.  Hell, that school of thought wants to set up the urban class as the new aristocratic overlords of the rural class.  I don't see a good way out of this one Sir."

"Oskar Schindler" The Major replied, eyes still closed. "The guy who did everything he could to not help the Nazi Regime."

"What do you mean?" The Captain asked.

"He protected the underclass to the extent he could, he produced as little as possible to support the war effort."  The Major responded, eyes opening to a new hope.  "How do we do the same?  How do we come out of this with our honor unstained?"

"By doing our jobs as incompetently as possible?" The Captain answered, grinning behind his glass.

"Hell, everyone expects the military to be incompetent." The Major smiled, "Sometimes it doesn't hurt to play to expectations."

For the next three years mechanics would randomly hammer a nail through alternator wiring to deadline vehicles, unscrew bleed valves from water pumps, and unit readiness standards fell.  Clerks screwed up operations budgets by ordering the wrong types of ammunition, fuel, or sent personnel to expensive yet unnecessary schools.  Some military units were unable to find a single firearm when tasked to clear an area, and yet the follow on "Civil Defense Corps" would get shot to hell as soon as the military left.

One ammo clerk slipped his cousin live rounds for spent brass, as long as the poundage at the turn in sight matched up no one seemed to care.  Once the Empire declared martial law being caught with ammunition without a license and tax stamp was a felony, but the insurgents didn't seem to care about breaking the law.  The Captain knew what was going on with the clerk, and he made sure that he never had to sign an expenditure non-recovered document for anything, including live fire training out in the desert.  This made everyone do "hands across America" recovering the precious brass that was melted down by the manufacturer and remade into more brass for government consumption.  The ammo clerk figured that sidelining some ammo before turning in the brass after it had been reloaded four times was his patriotic duty to make sure nothing went to waste.

16 March 2013

Frank

The old man didn't need a disguise.  Liver spots on his hands and forehead showed the world how feeble and aged his body was, but with age comes experience.  Frank picked up the white knight and moved it towards the center of the chess board, creating a fork between the black rook and black queen.

"Terrain is a funny thing Moisha."  Frank said in a low voice.  The weekly chess game in the park had gone on for years now.  "A knight in a corner only has two moves.  A knight in the center has eight.  It is the same piece, with the same power, but it becomes much more useful depending on where it is, and when it is in the game."

"Yes Grandpapa."  Moishe replied.  He was a handsome youth, his brown hair tinted with gold where the sun had bleached some of the Swedish heritage into view.  He had a keen intellect, and manage twice now to beat his crafty old grandfather.

Frank had spent a lifetime studying terrain.  As a child he learned the importance after his father had finally succeeded in getting their little family over the wall and into the west.  Frank grew up, learned english, and immigrated to the U.S.A.  Terrain remained important to Frank as a private in the post-Vietnam era, learning to lay a machine gun or claymore mine, as a Sergeant leading a squad through the Panamanian countryside, as a Captain leading a company through the desert of the Arabian peninsula, and finally as a strategic planner before retiring.  What age had robbed in strength and vigor from his body it gave back in experience, knowledge, and wisdom.

Every week during their chess game Moishe would slip a micro SD chip full of surveillance data to Frank.  The fingernail sized memory stick shrink wrapped for safety.  Frank would place it in his mouth, safely tucked between gum and cheek.  Moishe would do the same with the memory stick that Frank slipped him.

Moishe moved his Queen way from the threat of the knight.  Instead of taking the rook Frank smiled.  "Someone once told me that successful revolutionaries would trade space for time, and time for the will of the people."  He took the bishop that had been covering his rook and moved it to threaten Moishe's Queen.

Moishe sipped his coffee.  It seemed that everything was getting darker, more bitter.  The longer the Empire held on the worse it got.  Luxury taxes on coffee, tea, wine, beer, cigarettes, chocolate, had driven many smaller companies out of business, and now only the transnational corporations with their dedicated supply trucks could get anything through.  However the downturn in the economy trickled across the world, and the result was just enough less of everything to make everyone notice.

Moishe made a gamble, he pushed his Queen deep into white ranks, displacing a pawn and threatening another bishop and knight.  "Check"

Frank smiled, and moved his King one space out of check.  Moishe took the bishop, pinning the knight against the rook.  "Check"

Frank moved his King one space forward.  Moishe took the opportunity to back his Queen to the second rank.  Frank moved his knight away from threatening the rook to threaten the knight once again.  Moishe moved his Queen forward one space to threaten the knight.

"Shah maht" Frank spoke evenly as he slid his rook forward, through the space opened by his knight, onto the space covered by the knight, next to Moishe's King.

"Terrain, time, tactics."  Moishe smiled.  "When I'm eighty I'll be lucky to be half as devious."

"When you are eighty I hope you have someone half as devious to play chess with" Frank replied.

The two men, separated by forty five years of life hugged and went their separate ways.  Moishe took a long route back home, visiting his girlfriend along the way.  She was a radical artist studying female culture at the university.  She was intelligent, pro Empire, and therefore both a security risk and the perfect cover for Moishe.

When he finally got back to the little apartment off campus he made sure to sweep for bugs.  Having few possessions made it harder on surveillance teams to plant bugs, but it also made him look suspicious.  So Moishe went through his routine with due diligence in the living space he tried to keep balanced between security and camouflage.

Booting up his small netbook Moishe studied the diagrams Frank had provided.  Timeline, tools, infiltration and exfiltration routes, abort criteria, it was all there.  The biggest part was when and where to fight.  Picking the right terrain, picking the right time.  Frank took the surveillance and turned it into simple operations.

Operations simple enough for college kids to execute.  Working off the netbook Moishe logged on to a pirated wifi signal using a USB wifi adapter to mask his MAC address.  He routed the files directly to users on the IRC channel and then wiped his system clean, used a software hacking utility to change the MAC address on the dongle before laying down to sleep. 

When the police kicked in his door in the middle of the night a few days later Moishe knew not to struggle.  They beat him anyways and claimed he tried to resist.  The detective who grilled him read statements others had made about him, some of them blatant lies.  Moishe let his eyes tear up, but he remained silent through the physical torture and mental abuse.  Time.  Trading for time.  It would take the police literally decades to break the encryption on the netbook, and Moishe didn't keep any incriminating data on the hard drive.

In the end it was Frank who picked up Moishe from the detention center.  No charges were filed.  Frank took Moishe home and made him tea.  And then began debriefing his grandson, asking question after question, prying into his memory to get sketches of officers, dimensions of buildings.  When Moishe finally fell asleep on the couch Frank started planning.

Frank's plan was simple, but it took months to prepare.  A firefight at a traffic control checkpoint was used as a feint to draw out the reaction force.  When the reaction force crossed a certain bridge that cued four vans packed with bulk fertilizer explosives into position which took out the corners of the police building.  The heavily armored reaction force sped back on the quickest route, only to be on the bridge primed for demolition.  The fall killed the occupants of the armored vehicles.  Sniper fire killed the cops who rushed to the scene attempting to control chaos and dig their companions out of the shifting and collapsing rubble.  The death toll estimate broke 150 and the Governor declared martial law.

In the media frenzy following the "spectacular attack" the propaganda cell released their justification as  a press release to the international media.  Links to the surveillance videos of interrogations, of cops beating people during raids, all published on the internet to as justification for the "terror" action.  Simply the immune system of the political body attempting to get rid of the cancer that was eating at everyone.  Every international sympathizer was a potential resource in the long game, and Frank was saddened that he didn't have more time left to give to the cause of freedom, but he did his best to pass on his experience to Moishe, praying that the freedom his family had fled towards wouldn't be extinguished.

14 March 2013

Robert

Gun drilling is a very specific machining operation, requiring a very specific set of tools.  Robert decided to offer gun drilling as a service for his shop to cater to the automotive performance crowd.  Gun drilling axles is a way to lighten the car and reduce rotational inertia without significantly affecting axle strength.

However, it takes a lot of time to do right, and so most hot rodders didn't bother with that particular modification.  Robert still gun drilled axles that he pulled from junked cars and put them up for sale on online auction sites.

The other thing Robert did was learn how to finish ream the inside of a gun drilled axle.  Robert's first attempt at button rifling was a disaster, but junk car axles are cheap and Robert had more and more time on his hands as the economy suffered.  By the third attempt at rifling his own barrel Robert was satisfied.  Roberts rifled barrels stayed in the shop, two were even installed on vehicles for transport into a heavily fortified area.

Buying chamber reamers was a no go, so Robert made his own from untreated O1 rod steel.  He profiled the reamer on the lathe, cut the flutes with the mill, and heat treated using his oxy-acetylene torch and used motor oil.  Hand polished and sharpened the reamers were functional if not exactly pretty.

Once Robert had a completed barrel and reamer ready to go, he decided that his first hand built rifle should be a single shot falling block action.  Simple and tough.  The resulting rifle was crude, and even with careful hand loaded ammunition would not group better than four minutes of angle.  Robert smiled every time he pulled the trigger though, and his second rifle shot much better.

Over the course of the ten year struggle Robert built or repaired over 247 rifles.  Customers would bring in a car with a dent in the bumper or fender.  Robert would fix the car, accept payment for the work, and the with the right code words they would find a rifle under the rear seat, or magnetically attached to the underside of the pickup bed in a welded metal box.

Operationally Robert's Rifles were neither prized nor despised, but recognized for the utilitarian weapons they were.  Several of the more accurate rifles made there way to a marksmanship instructor.  They were ideally suited for sniper training, as the slow rate of fire forced trainees to make their shots count.  One a more practical level they were a way to get better guns off the enemy.  More than one captured weapon could trace the transfer of ownership back to a skilled rifleman with a Roberts in his or her hands.  Some teams passed the Roberts to the newest member, and it became a right of passage to earn a more suitable weapon with the Roberts.

One particular Roberts Rifle was broken down into several parts and smuggled in separate vehicles into the "Emerald Zone" in multiple trips over multiple weeks.  The simple assembly methods allowed the partizans to reassemble the rifle inside the secured area inside a maintenance shed near the contract workers smoking area on the roof of a medical facility.  Since the scope base was mounted to the barrel a return to zero scope mount was used to ensure first shot accuracy.  A stolen uniform and fake ID let the shooter escape in the confusion.  The local hire contracts stopped shortly after, further depressing the local economy and making the dividing line between government insider "haves" and peasant "have nots" ever more clear.

13 March 2013

Sherri

You can always get something for a price.  Sherri had seen it all during her stint in the ER before she moved into administration.  She knew that anything, absolutely anything, could be had for the right price to the right person.  Drugs, sex, medical care in a sticky basement by someone with a questionable medical background if necessary.  For a price, anything is available.  And the questionable background and sticky basement can get turned into professional care in a sterile if impromptu surgical suite with a little foresight.

Sherri didn't like watching cops order doctors to not treat a gunshot victim because it might be embarrassing in court if the victim lived.  Sherri didn't like having thugs tell her who to treat, and who to deny treatment to based on who had a government care card.  Sherri didn't care about the resistance, but she did care about the resistors.  Her son was involved, and she didn't want to know how deeply, but she knew that other mothers would want her to care for their sons the way she cared for hers.

Sherri knew which doctors had their medical licenses denied due to regulatory snafus instead of true malpractice, and she knew what medical devices, supplies, and medicines were really needed for trauma surgery and recovery.  Sherri put her knowledge to good use and made a list of contacts for her son to push out through word of mouth.

In small amounts she assembled trauma kits.  IV bags, gloves, masks, suture kits, packing material and gauze.  Her husband John picked up vapor barrier plastic sheeting, portable construction lights, work table, and tripods.  Other than the controlled medications and IV supplies the kits looked like very robust first aid kits, and the other items looked like normal garage detritus.  In places around the city the prepped kits and taught sympathetic nurses and EMTs the skills needed to assemble an impromptu surgical suite with little more than twenty minutes notice.

To show her resolve, Sherri and John kept a kit in their basement, ready for when the call might come that someone needed assistance immediately.

Their first patient was a gunshot wound to the leg.  The 5.56 bullet ripped through flesh like a combination high speed drill and buzz saw.  Sherri called the closest formerly licensed doctor and he arrived shortly after the patient.  John had the patient prepped in the plastic "clean room", UV light ensuring sterility.  Everyone wore polycarbonate glasses rated for 100% UV blocking, which was kind of a pain but necessary to protect their eyes.  The former doctor took his time, but the damage was sewn up and the patient stabilized for recovery.

Recovery presented another set of problems.  Setting up a sterile room in your basement and operating under UV light to kill bacteria is child's play compared to letting another human being live in your house for a few weeks while getting better without having telltale signs that more people are living there.  John and Sherri made it work by converting the attic into a recovery ward for four, and John learned the nursing skills necessary to change out an IV, change a diaper on a fully grown man, and administer medication. Sherri kept her day job in hospital administration even though John had retired a few years before.  They didn't need the money, but the contacts she made through her work proved priceless on more than one occasion.

John and Sherri both went shopping at different food stores, never together, both payed cash, and used a trash compactor to make sure their garbage signature didn't spike on the curb.

Medicine was hard to find.  Heroin was available on the street but dosing and purity were always a concern.  When Sherri could she would buy black market painkillers from nursing home orderlies looking to make a profit.  Antibiotics were at a premium, but it was easier to smuggle them out of the government system than painkillers.  She dared not use the hospital she worked at as a supply point, but the network of former doctors were able to work through colleagues who still had their license to prescribe just a few too many pills "just to be sure" to keep the painkillers and antibiotics flowing.

The hardest part for John was simply disposing of used medical things.  Living in a townhouse made it feel like he was living under a microscope.  In the winter the fireplace consumed much of the waste.  In the summer John would use any excuse to get to the marina to play on his boat, leaving weighted down waste at the bottom of a secluded inlet while "fishing."

The worst part was when luck ran low and a patient died.  The cleanup had to be quick, and had to be thorough.  They buried the poor boy at sea.  John had made a habit of "fishing" several times a week during his "retirement" so the trip to the marina was not unusual, even at 5 A.M.  The body had to be offloaded from the SUV and dumped over the side of a bridge out of the way of the marina security cameras.  Bringing the boat up the river to retrieve the corpse was a 30 minute nerve wracking experience, but luck was on their side.  They never learned his name. 

12 March 2013

Exerpt from "History of the Decline and Fall of the US Empire"

Chapter 17, Urban Insurgency

In every city a low level propaganda and harassment campaign seemed to draw a disproportionately overwhelming response from the appointed government.  The harder the crackdown the stronger the resistance became in return.  A notable exception to this policy is the rural midwestern states from Texas to Montana, generally the appointed Mayor was laughed out of the room when he or she gave orders for a crackdown.  The city of Butte, MT, had the entire police force fired by the Mayor and the citizens didn't seem to care, the former police chief simply made an announcement that the police had been disbanded, it would be a good idea to plan for your own security, and that expecting help from the government would be a "damn long wait."

The city of Lewiston, ID, went through three appointed Mayors before the Appointed Governor allowed a local election for local representation.  Encouraged by this, the State of Idaho then went through four Appointed Governors before the Emperor cracked down with a long range bombing campaign against known "insurgent" friendly towns.  The bombing campaign did little for the popularity of the Empire in other cities where the populace stood on the fence, although it was lauded by some coastal enclaves.
 
However it would be misleading to reference the midwest without mentioning the far reaches of the Empire.  Other cities had different experiences.  In a typical coastal city the appointed Political bodies were generally more in line with the prevailing political attitudes before the declaration of Empire.  As propaganda and harassment continued different tactics were used to root out the insurgency.  Traffic control points, random searches, door to door searches, installation of Closed Circuit Television Cameras on a massive scale.  In the end the harder the grip the more fuel that the administration poured on the fire.

The flash traffic control checkpoint program was a limited success.  Fewer and fewer citizens refused the search, but a few still stood by their Constitutionally protected rights and were harassed for their troubles.  In Seattle the police saw rising levels of resistance to TCPs, and after the third day of the first intensive crackdown a judge was on call to rubber stamp any sort of warrant needed to force a person to let government agents paw through their vehicles.

At checkpoint 37 in the city of Los Angeles the first gun battle broke out when a drug dealer was pulled into the queue and couldn't get out.  High as a kite he managed to wound three officers before the entire squad of police pulled their service arms, fired 96 shots, and hit the drug dealer 22 times.  Six bystanders were wounded by the police, two died of wounds in the hospital.  An internal investigation determined that "proper procedures were followed" but recommended more marksmanship training for the police.

The first recorded assassination of a police at a checkpoint didn't happen until a week later, but nobody knew about it until after the autopsies were complete.  The East Side Crepes, a militant gang of French Moroccans started shooting up the security element of the Flash TCP.  In the end it was three cops dead, 5 wounded, 7 ESC's dead, 10 wounded, and but it wasn't until a complete inventory of the weapons involved did the 22 long rifle shots to the back of the neck of two of the cops become unaccounted for by any of the weapons recovered.

By the time the cops knew what to look for in the aftermath of a shooting event the "double deuce" snipers had struck 4 more times, claiming 7 more lives.  Some cops had started to call in sick on days when they knew TCP operations would be conducted.

The Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona requested the Governor activate the National Guard to provide "security assistance to local law enforcement" which would not violate Posse Comitatus restrictions.  Initially the plan was for the National Guard to simply provide security overwatch.  Within two months "mission creep" had placed the National Guard at the forefront of traffic control operations as hard experience forced police to rely on cell phone communications as radio comms failed to interoperate.

Police presence patrols escalated into heavily armed incursions through the city, the familiar "black and whites" replaced by up armored humvees and MRAPs on loan from DOD under Title 32 and DHS.

When the armor came, the IEDs followed.  Southern California burned with the wreckage of tons of steel as drug cartels exported IED knowledge north in an effort to expand their territory.  New York had claimed to be more successful in disarming the civilian populace, but once the bridges were cut it was reported by citizen journalists that some were reduced to cannibalism to survive.  There was plenty of food, but between the sabotage and government roadblocks it took too long to get anywhere, and when the government loosened up travel restrictions tonnes of fertilizer used in the IEDs flowed into the resistance cells in the cities.  Having less than ten bridges to cross the mighty Mississippi for major traffic slowed intra-continental commerce to a fraction of former capacity.

The death toll was staggering, but only approximate counts survive, but generally a city had a die off between 15 and 35% of the pre-Empire population.  Ironically the areas where the appointed government overlooked often prospered, drawing the eye of of the Empire.  Soon the police or "Civil Guard Force" that was armed like the military but not under the purvey of the Department of Defense would come to help redistribute the wealth.

11 March 2013

Commisar HQ

"Flyers showing up in the middle of the night, you have the bastard's face on a hundred cameras and you can't catch him because every time you stop to grab a damn doughnut someone slashes your tires" The politician screamed at the assembled police brass.  "I want them stopped, I want them arrested, I want every cop working a double shift until these terrorist cells are eliminated."

The Chief of Police, a political animal himself responded with quiet resolve, "Your Honor, you don't know a god damned thing about eliminating terrorist cells."

The room went silent, the Mayor, appointed by the Governor who was appointed by someone else, nobody really knew how the whole political appointment thing worked, started turning a deeper shade of red.  "What did you just say?"

In a louder voice, the Chief of Police responded, eyes hard, "Your Honor, you don't know a god damned thing about eliminating terrorist cells."

"Fine, you're fired."  The Mayor replied.  "Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."

"It takes a full vote of the City Council to fire me."  The Police Chief replied evenly.

"Executive Proclamation 137 suspended all duties of the City Council and placed all authority in the office of Mayor until further notice."  The Mayor responded.  "I repeat your fired, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."

The Chief stood up and left the room.

"Well, what did that accomplish?"  A Police Captain asked.

"Either you get with the program or you get gone." The Mayor replied with a smug smile.

"So you fire the one guy on the force who has actual experience in counter terror and counter insurgency work?"  The Captain asked.

"What?" The mayor asked, shaking his head in disbelief.

"The Chief served in SRT when he was an Army MP.  Then he served on a Police Transition Team in Iraq, then Afghanistan for two tours as a Security Force Advisor."  The Captain said.  "You didn't bother to read his bio?"

"It doesn't matter what his experience was over there." The Mayor grinned, "Here I'm in charge and my people are not illiterate savages or tribesmen."

"Neither were the Iraqis."  The Captain replied.

"Bullshit."  The Mayor replied.  "Any more lip out of you and you're fired too."

"Fine." The Captain said.  "We can do it your way, door to door searches, flash traffic control checkpoints, mandate a curfew in a city where all the food service, medical, and emergency personnel work all hours of the day, and all for what?  A few flyers and some slashed tires?"

"It is disrespectful, it shows contempt for the legitimate government of this city, state, and nation!" The Mayor responded, anger in his voice.

"They haven't killed anyone." The Captain said.  "If we respond the way you plan it will escalate the situation."

"Good." The Mayor responded. "That way they'll know we are serious."

"If we do it your way it is a one way ticket, there is no going back from escalating the violence."  The Captain replied.  "Every time we roll up an innocent person we run the risk of making pushing more people off the fence and into supporting the other side."

"Patriotic people support strength, good citizens support security."  The Mayor quoted the little red book he always kept in his left breast pocket.

"People support strength and security when we knock down the doors of a crack house or break apart a drug cartel."  The Captain replied evenly.  "They don't like it so much in their living room."

"Then the people should not tolerate such disrespect to his excellency." The mayor replied.  "You have your orders, now go and execute."

Clearly dismissed the police brass stood to leave, and under someone's breath, the words, "Ave Caesar, Morituri Saluten" was heard.  The irony was lost on the Mayor who had never studied history before Marx.

10 March 2013

Josh

Nobody really needed a break down 10/22, especially one with a side folding stock cut down to work with the break down front, but Josh happened to pick one up from a friend who needed some cash and didn't mind opening his gun safe to get it.  Josh wasn't a prohibited person, and even though he let his concealed carry permit expire a few year back he still kept his nose clean.  Retired military, a signal support specialist, he still had his security clearance.  His friend was off working on an offshore oil rig, and would come back to find his house burglarized, and his gun safe broken open.  He would dutifully report the losses of his firearms to the police, reporting that he'd sold the 10/22 at a gunshow some years back but that the rest were gone.

Josh checked the room once more, the thin gauzy curtains providing diffuse light and concealment from the outside, the easy chair wasn't a perfectly stable shooting platform, but by sitting on the back with his feet on the seat and using two TV trays stacked on top of each other, duct taped for stability, he was able to get a steady position.  As he settled in, the rifle resting on a bipod and sand sock Josh thought about all the moments that brought him to this place, and the actions he was about to do yet again.

Josh had been selling off his "papered" firearms one at a time for several years now, on consignment at a local gun store.  His off the record purchases getting squirreled away.  The worst part about going underground was not being able to buy powder, primer, and bullets in bulk off the internet anymore.  But Josh still paid cash, and a pound here or there didn't pick up any notice.  Picking up business cards at gun shows gave him numbers to call to see if he could get something particular in stock.

When the Sheriff came calling Josh welcomed him in, and showed him the nearly empty gun safe, only a side by side shotgun and break action 30-06 HandiRifle remained, along with a single shot target 22 Josh had used to train his sons to shoot as part of Boy Scouts.  The Williams micrometer rear and globe front sight gave the rimfire rifle the appearance of something you would see at the Olympics, and so far the gun bigots didn't seem to up in arms about "legitimate sporting arms."

The deputy carefully checked Josh's data, showing that he once had an extensive collection, and while sipping a cup of rather good local roast coffee chatted about how things used to be.

"Oh sure, I used to compete, three gun and High Power" Josh said, sipping his own cup.  "But that was when my boys were young, wanted to have something to do with them.  Now I just keep that old 22 around in case I get grandbabies to play with.  The shotgun was my great uncles, and I never needed more than one shot when I hunt so I picked up the handi rifle.  Dropped an elk last year."

The deputy dutifully wrote down the firearm serial numbers on hand, and asked about a pistol that Josh had purchased sixteen years ago.

"Damn, can't even remember why I bought the damn thing." Josh smiled, "I remember I had it for about six months then I hit a deer with my truck.  My insurance didn't cover the work, but the guy who did the work traded labor for the pistol, said he'd always wanted a stainless 1911.  I'll be damned if I can remember his name though, closed up shop and moved away after a nasty divorce.  Used to see him around the rifle club from time to time though."

Josh knew that the only auto mechanic who had been a part of the rifle and pistol club had died three years ago, and that there was no way to get testimony off a dead man.  

His memories of the past were disturbed by the police cruiser pulling into view in the present.  The Tek Sights provided an excellent sight picture.  The cops got out and went into the restaurant, like the normally did the day after payday.  Josh lined up the cross hairs on the drivers side front tire and gently squeezed the trigger.  The illegal sound suppressor did a fine job of reducing the audible signature, and the sound of traffic masked the crack of the bullet breaking the sound barrier.  Josh shifted to the rear tire and went through the cycle again, breath in, out, pause, squeeze.

Josh immediately unscrewed the suppressor, and used the takedown button to break the rifle into two pieces.  The pieces went into a "civilian assault pack" of a style that Josh habitually carried.  The bag wouldn't pass a serious inspection, but if a cop opened only the main compartment he would see books, laptop, a mess of wires, and other random junk associated with normal use.  Josh had modified the internal frame to make room for the Ruger parts, so a cursory inspection wasn't likely to arouse suspicions.

The 10/22 parts fit nicely into the hydration pouch area and nestled into the empty parts of the internal frame, the side folding stock reducing the length of the receiver even more, and the 16" carbine barrel slid smoothly into place.  The suppressor went inside an aluminum water bottle padded with egg crate foam and into the main compartment.  Josh moved quickly to sterilize the room, placing the spent casings in a double layer ziplock baggies.  Josh made sure to wash his hands and face to remove and gun shot residue using baby wipes from a travel dispenser, not perfect but it would have to do until he could get to a real sink.

If the cops kept to their schedule, they wouldn't leave the restaurant for another 20 to 30 minutes unless they were called to respond to an emergency.  He couldn't plan for the unexpected but Josh hoped they had a quiet shift today.  Josh left the building and walked to the bus station, just another old man waiting for a ride.  Three connections later Josh walked into the parking garage and put his bag into the trunk of his car. 

Josh drove carefully, maintaining the speed limit and using turn signals.  He drove to the local library and enjoyed a Clive Cussler novel, devouring the book inside of three hours.  Then he drove home, careful to obey the speed limit.  Once inside he immediately transferred his normal items into the spare "civilian assault pack" that he kept, this one with the internal frame unmodified, and hid the other, Ruger and all, in the sub flooring compartment he built.  Moving the refrigerator in and out of place was a pain, but added security.

Josh removed the old man beard he had used to disguise himself, and the bushy eyebrows.  The brown contacts came out and the added inserts to his shoes as well.  The long grey wig came off and his normal buzz cut showed through.  The disguise material all got put in a box marked "Halloween" and stored in the attic.  The athletic shoes, pants, and jacket, were thrown into the washing machine for a quick clean, then everything went into the dryer.  Once dry they went into a black plastic bag to be dropped off at a charity drop off site.

Josh would lay low for a while before striking again.  Job hunting in the economy was tough, but it gave him a good excuse to be out pounding the pavement.   The government hadn't totally cut off his pension, but it looked like a good bet that it would come in the next round of austerity measures, so he laid out his suit and got ready for another long day of job interviews.  Maybe he could get a job with a tow truck company replacing blown cop car tires.

09 March 2013

Kevin

Kevin took the stack of printed posters and slapped them onto the concrete wall.  Just a simple slogan, "Slaves beg their masters for food and safety.  Free men don't."  With a picture of the local cops liberally using a nightstick on a black woman holding an EBT card.

Kevin's face sweated under the rubber mask, one of those full face Halloween jobs.  Adding the rastafarian dreds and rainbow knit hat made the disguise.  Wearing a bulky hoody sweatshirt helped disguise his actual size as well.

The rounds around the neighborhood were quick.  Darkness fought with streetlamps to see who would dominate the terrain.  Kevin walked casually on the sidewalk, quickly spraying the concrete with adhesive and slapping a flyer on top of it.

Never more than ten minutes in any given area, Kevin moved back to the safe house, making sure the security camera across the street watched him go in.  Inside Kevin worked his way to a side alley not covered by cameras, and up a fire escape to enter the third story window of an adjacent building.  Kevin removed his disguise and put the items in a gym bag.  Mask, wig, shoes, hoody, even pants.  When the opposition has cameras everywhere everything needs to be different between disguises.

Kevin put on his other disguise, new shoes, pants, suit jacket, mustache and thicker eyebrows attached with medical adhesive, mole prominent on his left cheek.  Hiding the first gym bag in a utility closet Kevin left the building and calmly walked down the stairs to exit the on the street opposite where he entered.

A police cruiser slowly moved towards Kevin, who checked his watch and moved towards a bus stop down the street to wait for the first of many trips to get across town. The cruiser moved past, Kevin noted the car number in the back of his mind while he put his hat on, hipster book bag slung carelessly across his back.  His early morning commute to college classes gave him a predictable excuse should he need to pull the fake student ID he made to match this disguise. 

Two bus hops later Kevin entered another building and switched out of his disguise into his own face.  Clean shaven, respectable looking, he stowed the shoes, pants, shirt, jacket, and cosmetic facial hair and mole into another utility closet.  Having connections to a janitorial service turned out to have some perks.

As a real college student Kevin studied math and physics.  Working for his uncle's janitor service three nights a week helped pay the bills, and gave him access to janitor closets in buildings around the city.  Propaganda might be small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but it gave Kevin something to do other than seethe in anger.

06 March 2013

Active Duty and AGR take note

Greylocke is offering a service to Active Duty and AGR personnel.  Once you've provided proof you are Active Duty or AGR you provide a 32 gig thumb drive and a self addressed return envelope and he will install the KTD/Knoppix files necessary to plug it in to pretty much any computer and boot into a functional operating system with massive amount of survival related information on hand.

http://txfellowship.blogspot.com/2013/03/ktd-project-active-duty-military.html

If you don't want to bother with that, or you are not active duty or AGR you can click on the link on his sidebar for Knoppix links and instructions and make your own. 

Knowledge, not wealth, is the only thing in need of redistribution. 

The sequestration gamble.

If someone wanted to get their point across about budget cuts by "denying essential government services" and "making it hurt" they would probably do an analysis of who exactly is using those services, and who would be most affected.

It sure as hell isn't the people who read blogs like mine.  People who measure their round count by the case, their food storage by the month, and generally have no problem reacting to anything nature throws at them.  People who want to be left alone are not hurt by leaving them alone.

So who is most affected?  The people who voted for the party in power.  The people living hand to mouth, EBT deposit to EBT deposit.  The people living in gun free zones where recently released violent felons will return.

If we assume that the "make it hurt" attitude is a deliberate and thought out strategy, and we assume that the person or people who made that choice are not fools, then we are left with only one single option.  That option is that the powers that be are working to get a "people's mandate" to "do something" about "all the violent crime and no food in the fridge" issues.

This strategy can work IF someone doesn't start telling the truth, that the powers that be want you to suffer so badly that you'll give up your freedoms for a crust of bread.  If the powers that be can control the story, dominate the message through being the loudest voice in the crowd then it may work.  Make the lie big, keep repeating it, and eventually people will believe it.

On the flip side, this is the time for handbills and posters glued to the walls of the concrete jungle.  Urban law enforcement cut but 50 million spent on new TSA uniforms.  Felons released but half a million spent on pet shampoo.  Telling the truth is a powerful tool of dissent.  Dissent is patriotic, so I've heard.

Remember, winning an insurgency isn't about facts and figures.  Winning is about politics and perception.

04 March 2013

Scenario Training

If anyone has any doubts about why I was gone a month, lets just say that training was involved.

When you go up against the OPFOR at a Combat Training Center (CTC) you get to fight the craftiest fighters on the planet in their respective area.  Different CTC's are oriented to different types of organizations (for example heavy mech doesn't go to Fort Polk, but light infantry can go anywhere).

Veterans who got the opportunity to play OPFOR at a CTC (NTC at Fort Irwin, JRTC at Fort Polk, or CMTC at Hohenfels, Germany) have seen pretty much every way to do it wrong, and at least a couple of good examples of doing things well.

In my career I've had 4 CTC rotations, and the last two have been "COIN" oriented for pre-deployment purposes.

Key things I've learned from this latest round of training.

Successful insurgents get the populace on their side.  This is a "no duh" comment, but it is somewhat profound.  Having the populace on your side means that the BLUFOR is focusing on the populace, instead of focusing on you.  This means that for every good deed an insurgent commits, it pays long term benefits in freedom of movement and logistical support.

One of the better tactics I saw enacted was the "Robin Hood" approach to stealing from the haves (government, international charities, big business) and giving to people who don't have whatever it is you stole (food, medicine, fuel, blankets, building materials, whatever).  It doesn't matter that the insurgent is making everything worse, people remember what it feels like to have someone fighting for them.  Insurgencies aren't about facts and figures, they are about perception and politics.

Now some people will say, "well that's in training, reality is always different."  The answer to that is that training never replicates or duplicates reality, but it is the next best thing to being there.  In my limited experience the OPFOR did a damn good job of using real world tactics.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Muslim world is different than the West, so the tactics of Muslim insurgents are keyed in to that culture.  In a home grown insurgency (ie civil war) the BLUFOR and OPFOR share the same culture, so I would honestly expect the COIN forces to be much more effective in their native country (if they focus on the population to dry up support for the insurgent).  Think about the British ability to utterly penetrate the Provisional IRA.

Every war is unique, but it is always good to train on the basics.

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.

01 March 2013

More Thoughts on Counterinsurgency

There are two major schools of though on CounterInsurgency (COIN from here on out).

The first school of thought is that we go in, we set up programs, we chase down and kill bad guys, and somehow this leads to stability and prosperity.  The current COIN manual kinda espouses this view.  This is how we fought in Vietnam and how the USSR fought in Afghanistan.

The second school of thought is that we go in, figure out how we can help the local populace achieve the goals they want to achieve, and then help them build prosperity and security.  This is the kind of COIN that you find espoused in books such as "The Ugly American" which is really a must read for anyone trying to understand effective and ineffective ways to combat an insurgency. 

When you take a look at the two schools of thought, it becomes clear that one is "top down, government centric" and the other is "bottom up, people centric."  Getting people at all levels involved in governence and development, empowering them to be part of the process.  This type of COIN is generally the more successful strategy.

Depending on how a person thinks depends a lot on how they are going to view a successful counterinsurgency strategy.

The first type of strategy is endorsed by the big government crowd.  The second type of strategy is endorsed by the pro-liberty crowd.  Guess which strategy has a better chance of winning?  If you guessed strategy number two you are correct.

The question becomes, with what I see as a homegrown insurgency brewing in the United States, how can our own government which recognizes that a successful counterinsurgency strategy involves empowering the people, rush so hard to failure in trying to curb the freedoms of Americans?

On the flip side, they got away with it in Europe.  However the Europeans didn't give up their guns, and now that the money is running out people are forming tribes, acting local, and getting a bit more "conservative" when it comes to relying on big government.  We only have to look to Greece to see our financial future, so it isn't too much of a stretch to think that our political future will be similar.

It is funny, that a government that can most effectively wage a COIN fight is the government that needs least to do so.  The French led the way in the insurgency against a bloated and abusive central government, heck Mao did the same (then created another bloated abusive central government, but for the peoples own good of course).  Whatever the case, the more people feel disconnected from their government, the more disenfranchised they feel, the more likely an insurgency is to succeed.