Archive for July, 2012

How to Build the M4 / AR-15 Rifle Used in I Am Legend

July 30, 2012

Let’s do a little online window shopping, shall we?
(note: this post follows up on yesterday’s poston this subject)

Let’s build it from scratch. If I’m missing something here, or if you have insight that I may have missed, by all means comment away.

Sabre Defense Upper Receiver with necessary additions (bolt group, charging handle, and M4 receiver) – $595.00
: if you ARE building one, Ranger Man suggests going with the mid-length gas system and sticking with the 1:7 barrel twist for reasons I stated in this post. I would also upgrade the flash suppressor)

Yankee Hill Machine Quad Rail – $105.00

Command Arms Accessories Rail Covers – $27.95

Sabre Defense Complete Lower with 6-position Stock – $265.00

Trijicon ACOG TA31A – $1,015.00

Pentagon Light/Laser Combo – $339.24

Total Cost (not including magazines, sling, tax, FFL transfer fee, and shipping) = $2,347.19

Ranger Man would also suggest adding Low-Profile Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS) just in case your expensive Trijicon fails during combat (unlikely given they’re extremely rugged, but always possible) – $109.00

Max out the Visa and you’ve got a suh-weet zombie popper!

Top Ten BEST Guns for Survival

July 30, 2012

NUMBER TEN – The Mighty Barrett .50 BMG

LOL! Okay, okay, I kicked this list off with the Barrett just because. I don’t own one and I wouldn’t buy one, but I’ll tell you what, if SHTF, and you have one, you’re on my side.

The sticker price ($3,000-$12,000) on one of these monsters is enough to take anyone’s breath away, but witnessing the colossal *POW* that this bad bitch delivers waaaay down range will also take your breath away. Nothing on the civilian market can deliver anything close to the *smack* of the Barrett. Consequently, there’s a growing movement in different states (mainly New York, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Illinois) to remove the .50 BMG rifle from the civilian market altogether. California banned it in 2004. So, if you have more money than you know what to do with, this could be a great investment. Buy a few and then sell them after they’re banned nationwide for 4 times what you paid for them. 😉

The cartridge selection for these rifles is disturbing to say the least. They come in incendiary, armor-piercing, armor-piercing/incendiary, tracer, and armor-piercing/incendiary/tracer all-in-one. A .50 BMG sniper rifle was used by a Canadian solder in Afghanistan in 2002 to pull off the longest-range, confirmed sniper kill in history when he delivered the insane ball of lead to a Taliban insurgent 1.5 miles away.


Advantages: it’ll make anyone go “. . . . . . wow;” it’ll penetrate light armor with NO problem; people will open the door for you when they see you carrying it; you can disable equipment and engine blocks from over a mile away; Made in the U.S.A.

Disadvantages: price, size, weight and recoil (ouch!); very limited availability of the high-end, military grade ammunition you’d need to fully realize this rifle’s capacity



For what you’d spend on one Barrett .50 BMG you could buy a truckload of these things. I’m not a big fan of them. A friend of mine has (maybe had) a Russian SKS and the thing would sometimes fire two rounds with one trigger pull. This may sound cool, but neither of us thought it was. They’re cheap for a reason.

Advantage: they’re cheap

Disadvantage: they’re cheap

NUMBER EIGHT – Bolt-Action .308

Here it is. You need a sniper set up – period, and there’s a reason the .308 is the most widely used sniper round, it delivers – consistently. It may not have the more flat trajectory of a .270 or the extra wallop in a 30-06 (30-06 ammo), but it delivers, has moderate recoil, and offers a more common caliber with a wider selection of ammunition.

Of course, the flip side of having a sniper set up is that it’s only worthwhile if you actually spend A LOT of time (and money) learning how to use it effectively at long distances. Chances are, for anyone not in Navy Seal sniper school, they’re not going to. However, the rifle can still get plenty of use hunting large game. The 180 grain .308 cartridge is my top recommendation for large game. It hits hard.

Advantages: common caliber, highly accurate

Disadvantage: no rapid fire feature

NUMBER SEVEN – Springfield M1A

What’s better than a bolt-action .308 WTSHTF? A semi-automatic .308. If you’re 3 weeks into TEOTWAWKI, holed up in your house with stacks of books around your picture window to serve as makeshift “sandbags,” you’ll want the M1A standing nearby. Gotta send a message to The Golden Horde hanging out by your mailbox? The M1A will do it.

Advantages: common caliber, stock one round for your bolt-action AND your semi-auto; Made in the U.S.A.

Disadvantages: $1,300 and up typically for a new one; heavy if carrying long distances

NUMBER SIX – 1911 .45 ACP Handgun

Ah yes, a handgun enters the scene. You have to have a handgun, and the 1911 .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) is a beauty. Let’s say it appears TEOTWAWKI is on the verge of happening and people are panicking. They’re out in force to empty the local grocery store’s shelves, and you’re heading into town as well to get whatever you can. This is the stage at which you’re not going to head out with rifles wrapped around your torso unless you’re begging for trouble – HOWEVER – you’re not going unarmed either. Shit could break out in the cooler isle as 28 different dads battle over the last gallon of milk and suddenly one them pulls a piece. You need to be ready without letting people know you’re ready. Additionally, you need a piece for your SHTF “go bag” and the .45 contains a whole lotta lead.

Advantages: conceal and carry; whole lotta lead; common caliber

Disadvantages: limited magazine capacity (typically 8 + 1 in the pipe); $800 and up for a good one

NUMBER FIVE – Remington 870 12 Gauge Pump-Action Shotgun

Let’s hear that again.

The sound is undeniable. You hear that and you instantly know what it means, “You wanna roll with me?” The only reasonable response is, “errrr . . . . nah, I’ll move along.”

You can get a shotgun that’ll take a bigger shell, but you don’t need it. The 12 gauge is exceptionally common and it’ll take a variety of shells: birdshot for game hunting survival purposes; double-ought buck for pushing intruders not only down, but back out the window they came in through; and slugs for anything else.

Want to mount that shotgun to your bed frame (lol)? Check out one of my previous posts on “The Backup” here.

Advantages: common caliber; many accessories available for this model (pistol grips, tube extensions, etc.); obscene knock-down power

Disadvantages: none come to mind


It’s durable, designed to be thrown into a mud hole for a month when it can be dug out and immediately used without cleaning. That might be an exaggeration, but not by much. It also delivers a beefy round for a standard issue assault rifle. If you’re outside the United States, there’s likely readily available parts and ammunition.

Advantages: banana clips, baby; jungled clipped banana clips, baby

Disadvantages: lacks the accuracy found in other assault rifles; made in China, or Russia, or Yugoslavia – you get the idea.

NUMBER THREE – Compact 9mm Handgun

What’s a more common caliber than the .45 ACP? The 9mm. Unfortunately, it’s the most common handgun caliber in the United States used against police officers. Thugs love it. Love the 9mm, but don’t be a thug.

Advantages: cheaper to shoot than the .45 (and thus practice with); high capacity magazines; easier to conceal and carry

Disadvantage: less lead

NUMBER TWO – Ruger 10/22 Rifle

I can hear it now, “What!?” That’s right, the .22 rifle. It’s ALL about survivalism. Look, when TEOTWAWKI hits you’re going to want a rifle like the Ruger 10/22 for put some sort of meat on your dinner plate. Squirrels, gophers or the neighbors’ cats, the 10/22 is quiet, effective, and you can shoot all damn day for what it’d cost you to buy a 6-pack of PBR.

Additionally, a little recognized fact, Chechen rebels successfully used .22 rifles for sniping purposes against Russian troops in urban settings. The urban setting consisted of narrow streets and close buildings allowing these “snipers” to get exceptionally close to their targets. They strapped soda bottle silencers on them to further the effectiveness. I don’t care what you say about the .22lr, take one in the neck and you’ll think differently.

Advantages: already stated – go buy one

Disadvantages: none whatsoever

AND now . . . . . . .


*drum roll*

The Mighty AR-15!



This should really come as no surprise. My only guess as to why so many survival writers don’t list the “Black Rifle” as their top choice is because they want to set themselves apart from the pack. Like in politics, when you’re the man on top, you can expect attacks. There are very solid reasons for the AR-15′s extreme popularity and cult-like following. There are very solid reasons why its the #1 choice of the U.S. military and para-military groups (“AR-15″ to include all variations). It’s the best – period.

Explaining in great detail why I believe the AR-15 is the single best choice for survivalists goes beyond the scope of this post. I will detail it in the future, however. In the meantime, basically:

Advantages: very common caliber; fast bullet with flat trajectory; highly adaptable platform that allows the user to meet mission specific needs; extensive options readily available; they’re everywhere (meaning so are parts); wide variety of available rounds from 55 grain to 75 grain, tracer rounds, steel penetrator tips, etc.; very, very light recoil; Made in the U.S.A., and in the case of Bushmaster, Made in Maine 😉

Disadvantages: smaller caliber than what’s found in other battle rifles; many moving parts; rather annoying to clean compared to other rifles; the gas system often comes under criticism for throwing the “gunk” back into the chamber (some call this “shitting where it eats”), though this problem has been remedied in some newer models (at a higher cost).

Have You Tested Your Bug-Out Bag Lately?

July 30, 2012

It’s been awhile since I grabbed my primary bug-out bag and took it for a walk, so last night I picked it up and headed out into the woods to my wilderness camp.  I’ve got a lean-to and a fire pit out there and it’s one of


my favorite getaway places and what makes it even better is that it’s pretty close to the house – meaning I can get there quick.

One reason I like to do this  is to find any shortcomings in my BOB that could cause me problems if I ever have to use it for real.  I usually find a few small things wrong and this trip was no exception.  I’d made some changes to the bag awhile ago and hadn’t bothered testing them to see how those changes worked, so this was a good time to do it.

One of the first things I noticed on the way out were the horse flies and the mosquitoes and when I went looking for my bug spray I came up empty handed.  For those of you who don’t know about the Maine woods this was nothing short of a Greek tragedy.  So there I am without bug spray and I’m getting eaten alive.  What did I do?


Made a fire, of course.  I actually hadn’t planned on building a fire, but I needed the smoke to keep the bugs down while I made coffee and got comfortable.   I also put on a bandana to help keep the bugs out of my hair, but still wound up getting one down my shirt that I didn’t dig out until I got home.That’s when I ran into the second problem.  The matches I keep in my survival tin were a little damp and I went through about five before I got one to light.  I managed to get the fire going, but I thought I might have to resortto the firesteel for awhile there.Next I got out my alcohol stove and canteen cup and lit it to heat up my water.  The pot stand I have for the stove wasn’t a great fit for the canteen cup.  It was originally designed with anotherCIMG5308pot in mind, but I thought it would work fine with the canteen cup.  It did work, but I wasn’t totally satisfied with the stability… I was afraid it was going to fall over and I was a little jumpy around it.  I didn’t put enough alcohol in the stove and it didn’t heat the water up enough.  Once the stove went out I just put the canteen cup on the fire and let it finish heating that way.   I could have just used the fire alone of of course, but I wanted to see how the alcohol stove would work heating water.Once I had my coffee made I got some cookies out of my bag and because I’d left them floating around they were quite stale.
For the most part I was satisfied with the experience. loose they were stale.  Oh, I still ate them, but they were a little less crunchy than they should have been.CIMG5302What Did I Learn?

Here’s what I came away with.

First, even though there was a short list of things wrong there were a lot more things that were right.  The basic gear I packed was sound and I was satisfied that I’d have been comfortable if I’d had to spend the night out.

Things that are sensitive to moisture like matches or loose food packages have been removed and/or replaced and I put in some bug dope.  I had some in there at one point, but I must have grabbed it and used it and then never put it back afterwards.  That’ll teach me!

I took a few of the pictures below with the flash and a couple without just to give you an idea of what it looked like sitting around the fire.

Have you tested your bug-out bag lately?

If you haven’t you should get out there with it or at least go through it to make sure everything is still relevant to the mission and working as it should.



Tactics 101: Security Operations

July 27, 2012

“Even in friendly territory, a fortified camp should be set-up; a general should never have to say, I DID NOT EXPECT IT.”

The Emperor Maurice

During the last two months, we have focused our efforts on the mix of heavy and light forces. As history has shown, a commander who can deftly combine the strengths of heavy and light forces has a significant advantage over his opponent. Of course, combining these forces takes a talented commander. In our past two articles, we provided you some ways on how you could combine these forces effectively. In doing this, we first looked at how you integrate a smaller light force with a larger heavy force (heavy/light). Then in our past article, we turned the tables and dissected how you integrate a smaller heavy force with a larger light force (light/heavy). We hope these articles shed some light on how these operations were effective in history and how you can utilize this mix on your future battlefields

Beginning this month, we will dedicate a group of articles dissecting security operations. We will begin by looking at them as a whole and then we will start to get into the weeds. In our overall discussion, we will address the definition of security, the types of security operations, the fundamentals of security operations, and things you must consider when conducting security operations. With the preliminaries complete, we will then focus on three of the key types of security operations – Screen, Guard, and Cover in future articles. Let’s Move Out!

What are security operations? These are operations in which a unit conducts to provide them early (and accurate) warning of the enemy’s operations. The objective of security operations is to provide you with reaction time, maneuver space, and protection to the force. These operations can be conducted anywhere in relation to the unit’s main body – front, rear, and flanks.

After our discussion several months ago on reconnaissance operations; some may wonder what the difference between reconnaissance and security operations is. The key difference lies in the focus and emphasis. In security operations, the emphasis is on the friendly force. You are conducting the operation so nothing negative occurs to the friendly force. In recon operations, the focus or emphasis is on the enemy or on the terrain.

There are five basic types of security operations. These are screen, guard, cover, area security, and local security. Within this group, you can basically break them up into two groups. The first involves screen, guard, and cover which are generally the three that come to mind when discussing security operations. The other group is composed of area security and local security. These are almost always part of every unit’s overall posture. Below we will provide a brief discussion on each type. We will get into far more detail on each (especially screen, guard and cover) as we continue.

Screen – Screen operations are probably the most known of the ‘Big 3.’ The purpose of the screen is to position forces so they may provide early and accurate warning to the main body. In relation to guard and cover, a screen will consume less combat power. Because of this, you do not want your forces to get decisively engaged with enemy forces. You want them to simply do their mission, providing early and accurate warning.

Guard – In a guard mission, the force is upping the ante on a screen. In a guard, forces continue to provide early and accurate early warning to the main body. However, these forces are also asked to protect the main force and buy them time. They achieve this by preventing the enemy from observing the main body and not allowing them to fire direct fire weapons at the main body. To do this, the guard force may have to conduct reconnaissance, conduct offensive operations, form a defense, or conduct a delay. During a guard, the guard force will conduct their operations within the range of the main body’s indirect fire weapons.

Cover – In a cover mission, the force is upping the ante on a guard. In a cover, forces provide early and accurate early warning and protect the force. They will conduct recon, offensive operations, defend, and delay. The main difference in a cover is that the covering force can operate beyond the range of the main body’s indirect fire weapons. A unit conducting a cover will possess everything they require to operate independently. Obviously, this is a very robust force and a force that is well-trained.

Area Security – In area security, the unit positions forces to protect a certain critical area. This could be an installation, command post, logistical node, a portion of a supply route, etc….

Local Security – Most of us have heard the term, “Put out Local Security.” Whatever the size of the unit or the situation on the ground; putting out local security is a must. In basic terms, local security is placing security elements (better known as Soldiers) in areas near the unit so the unit doesn’t get surprised.

The fundamentals of security operations are nothing profound. In fact, in most cases they are things we have addressed in other discussions in the series. Yet, as mundane as they appear, it is vital for any unit that they are adhered to. Let’s touch on each of them below.

Provide early and accurate warning – This is one of the overriding fundamentals of security operations. You want to place your assets far enough forward so they can provide this early warning. However, you must balance this with putting them in no man’s land where you can’t assist them in a timely manner if they get in trouble. A unit with the means can mix technological assets with conventional means to achieve this.

Provide reaction time and maneuver space – This is one of the more challenging of the fundamentals to achieve. The key in this fundamental is being able to locate your security forces as far away from the main body as tactically possible. This should translate into more reaction time and maneuver space. This is aided when you can provide this force as much combat power as feasible.

Orient on the force or facility to be secured – Security forces must always understand that their mission is tied directly to the security of the main body or a location. Thus, these forces must have a continuous understanding of how their actions and location on the ground impact their ability to conduct security.

Perform continuous reconnaissance – We addressed this fundamental pretty extensively in our recon series. To reiterate, recon and security is 24 hour a day business. Anything less, puts a unit at a huge disadvantage. You cannot make up this time no matter how good the unit is.

Maintain enemy contact – Again, another fundamental that has found its way in various operations. Once you have gained enemy contact (remember, this does not have to be physical, it can be visual); you must ensure you maintain it. Maintaining enemy contact can mean several things. First, you may originally have gained contact physically, but because of the situation you switch it to visual means. This could mean aerial assets such as a drone. Second, the unit originally making contact can be switched out by another unit to ensure no break in coverage.

Considerations When Planning a Security Mission
As we highlighted earlier, we will address screen, guard, and cover separately in significant detail later. However, there are many planning considerations which relate to each of them. Let’s discuss these below.

What are you securing? It all begins with what you determine must be secured. The Commander will determine what he deems is critical in the security arena. In determining this, he this will set the table for the rest of your security planning.

What type of security operations is required? There are many things that will dictate the type of security operations you will conduct. Of course, the upcoming mission of the unit will obviously influence the type of security operations the unit will conduct. The terrain you are operating in will impact what types of security operations are feasible and which ones could be a significant challenge to conduct. The enemy always has a vote and their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses will come into play. Finally, the capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and experience will play a part in determining the optimal security operation.

What are the specifics on the security area? Terrain management is vital on the battlefield. This is certainly true in security operations. As stated in our fundamentals section, providing maneuver space is usually imperative. Consequently, you want to mold the security area so that it provides this maneuver space. In analyzing the security area, you ultimately want to determine the depth, width, and orientation of the security area. These should be driven by the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) you have conducted. This should provide you things such as enemy avenues of approach, enemy recon capabilities, etc…. These will assist in formulating the security area.

What are the constraints of the mission? During planning, guidance should be given by the commander on security operations. Within this guidance, the commander many place some constraints on the security mission. These constraints could include things such as engagement criteria, withdrawal criteria, etc…. Constraints will clearly shape the type of security you will conduct.

Where will you place your initial observation posts? As we stated earlier, recon and security is 24 hour business. In order to not lose any initiative, a key action is to place Observation Posts (OPs) on the battlefield as soon as possible. These observation posts will set the conditions for a unit to conduct the three principle types of security operations. There is truly an art and science to emplacing OPs. We will discuss this art and science in a future article.

What types of observation posts will you utilize? You have options in the type of observation post you can emplace. The two basic types of OPs are mounted and dismounted. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, the tactical situation and terrain will dictate the type of OP. In many cases, a unit will utilize a mix of OPs to achieve the required results. Let’s go into a little more detail on each type.

Mounted OP – As the name suggests, a mounted OP is one in which observation is conducted via a vehicle platform. This type of OP has several strengths. First, the vehicle is usually equipped with some ‘high speed’ optics aiding in observation. Second, if needed, most vehicles will possess some potent weapon systems on board. Thus, if engagement of the enemy is needed; a mounted OP should be more lethal than a dismounted OP. Finally, again, if needed, a mounted OP can ‘hightail it out of the AO’ (not a doctrinal term!) much quicker than a dismounted OP. Of course, mounted OPs do have some weaknesses. The key one being that it is difficult to hide mounted OPs from the enemy (a true art). Consequently, when steathiness is at a premium, a mounted OP is not the optimal method.

Dismounted OP – The strengths and weaknesses of utilizing dismounted OPs are a polar opposite from mounted OPs. The strength of dismounted OPs is clearly their stealthiness. Soldiers experienced in dismounted OP operations can be nearly impossible to detect by their opponents. In fact, there are numerous examples in warfare where dismounted OPs were hidden for days in the midst of an enemy position. Since a dismounted OP is virtually Soldier dependent (whatever the Soldier can carry or do physically) it has several challenges. First, the optics available to the individual Soldier just can’t compare to those vehicles may possess. This of course influences the quality of observation. Second, Soldiers on a dismounted OP simply cannot carry the firepower a vehicle will have. Finally, if the situation becomes precarious; the ability of a dismounted OP to displace can be highly difficult and time-consuming.

What is the endstate for the security mission? Security missions as part of a relatively short-term tactical operation (a defense or an attack) are normally not open-ended. Consequently, it is wise for the commander to specify an end-state to the mission. Endstates should be either time-driven or event-driven. A time-driven is obviously tied directly to a time period. For example, a commander may want a screen forward of his main body for six hours. Thus, the endstate for that mission is six hours. Certainly, this time could fluctuate based on what is taking place on the ground; but for now the mission is complete in six hours. Event-driven endstates correlate to an event occurring on the ground. For example, the commander may require a force to conduct a guard operation as the main body prepares a defense. Once the defense is set and the enemy begins to conduct their attack; the commander may order the guard force to complete their mission and fall back to the rear of the main body.

Will you need to augment your security forces? One of the key considerations in security planning is determining how to augment your security forces to achieve their mission. Some units are organized, equipped and trained to conduct security operations (in particular, cavalry units). However, many units assigned a security mission do not possess these characteristics. With that the case, you must determine what is required for the mission and what the unit currently has. The higher headquarters must then decide how it will make up this ‘delta’. This augmentation could be in the form of combat forces, but is usually more combat support and combat service support related. These resources could be things such as engineer assets, types of radars, chemical recon and decontamination assets, and logistical support. Augmentation can occur in any of the types of security operations – screen, guard, or cover.

What intelligence support is required? When we discuss security operations; one of the first things that should come to mind is intelligence support. Obviously, intelligence is critical in all areas of warfighting. However, nowhere is it more essential to assisting in mission accomplishment than in security operations. Once again, the two principle variables are the type of security mission to be conducted and the capabilities the unit assigned the mission possesses. The intelligence support that may be required can come in numerous forms. This could include radars and sensors, high level assets from the theater or national level, and aviation assets which are specially developed to acquire intelligence. Normally, the key thing these assets buy for the unit conducting the security mission is time. Because of these asset’s unique capabilities; they can track enemy maneuver from great distances. This assists the security unit in acquiring the time and space the main body requires.

What indirect fire support is required? The extent of indirect fire support for a unit conducting a security mission is based principally on the specific type of the security mission. Each of three main security missions (screen, guard, and cover) will have different indirect fire support needs. Indirect fires are particularly important for a screen force. Normally, these forces are fairly light on combat force. Thus, if they get into trouble; indirect fire is the preferred option in enabling them to break contact. Within a guard operation, forces are still within friendly indirect fire range. Consequently, they require indirect fire support from their higher headquarters. This fire support can be a little more challenging because fighting between guard forces and the enemy is usually more intense than in a screen. In a cover mission, the force is almost always robust. Within this lethality are organic indirect fire support assets, so they can operate outside the main body’s indirect fire range. To summarize this consideration, the commander must place his assets in supportable locations in a screen or guard operation. In a cover, he must ensure the force is internally equipped with the indirect fire assets they may need.

How will you integrate any aviation support (if available) with the ground forces? One of the best ways to increase your ability to accomplish your security mission is to integrate aviation support with your ground forces. This integration is a challenge based on the complexities of utilizing air. One of the biggest challenges is that aviation can’t truly occupy ground. In security operations, the ability to occupy terrain in key locations is a huge advantage. With that said, aviation can be extremely valuable in security operations. The following are some ways aviation can support the ground effort:

  • Can be utilized forward of the ground units to extend the depth and width of your security.
  • Can be used to plug gaps between security units if needed.
  • Can be utilized to keep a link between the main body and the security unit.
  • Because of its’ capabilities can provide early warning in areas ground assets may not be able to physically get to.
  • Depending on the aircraft (preferably attack aviation) can be utilized to aid ground units in breaking contact if the tactical situation warrants.
  • Can recon areas which ground units may soon occupy.

Will engineer support be needed? Depending on the type of security operation, engineer support can be a huge multiplier. In security operations, mobility is clearly one of the keys to success. Engineers can be instrumental in assisting in gaining and maintaining the mobility advantage over your opponent. Engineers can aide in mobility in a number of ways in security. These include:

  • Creating maneuver routes where they currently do not exist.
  • Breaching obstacles/minefields if required.
  • Developing survivability positions (vehicle or soldier) if needed.
  • Emplacing obstacles/minefields to assist in creating maneuver space or buying time.

How will you logistically support the operation? Logistically supporting units conducting security operations can be a huge challenge. For some units, who are equipped and organized to conduct these type of operations this is not as significant. However, for units not as fortunate it is a different story. There are several critical actions that should take place (no matter what type of security operation) to aid in supporting the security unit. These include:

  • Logistical planning starts as soon as there is a warning order for the mission.
  • For the organization conducting the security mission, someone must be responsible for logistics. Normally, this is pretty cut and dried. However, in other cases, the unit may be a hodge-podge of smaller units and the rose may be a little more difficult to pin.
  • Once the above person is identified, they must immediately establish link-up with the higher headquarters logistical POC. This communications must be established quickly.
  • There are many variables that will affect the degree of log support needed. This includes the type of security mission, the distance from the security unit to the main body, log capabilities of all units, etc….

How will you medically support the operation? Medical support for a unit executing a security operation is even more challenging than supporting them logistically. The challenges in medical support are pretty straight-forward. The over-riding factor is time. Nowhere is time more critical than in medical evacuation. The environment surrounding security operations greatly affects the ability to evacuate casualties in a timely matter. This environment includes: 1) The distance separating the security unit with the main medical facilities. 2) The terrain in which the security unit is operating can be difficult to maneuver medical evacuation vehicles. 3) In a security mission, it is critical that you strive to remain undetected from your opponent. This is complicated when you are attempting to evacuate casualties out of the area of operations.

How will you command and control the operation? As in any operation, a commander must position himself where he can best command and control his unit. The commander must conduct some quality analysis in determining his location. This is because once in position, it can difficult to move to another location without giving away your location to the enemy. Units must be disciplined in their reporting procedures while conducting a security operation. Undisciplined procedures will quickly give away your positions to a savvy (and even a not so savvy) enemy.

Are there any special requirements in the operation? A commander should always dictate any special requirements he has for the unit conducting the security operation. In some cases, these special requirements can be considered constraints on the unit. These special requirements can be things such as engagement criteria, disengagement criteria, bypass criteria, reporting instructions, indirect fire restrictions, dealing with civilians on the battlefield, observing certain locations on the battlefield, and various restrictions based on the rules of engagement.

Are there any enemy considerations that must be addressed? Just as in any mission, you must conduct quality Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) to set the conditions for success. In regards to a security mission, there are some things that clearly stand-out as things you want to know about your foe. These include:

  • Strength and capabilities of all enemy recon elements that are or may be operating in the security mission area of operations.
  • Strength and capabilities of enemy security elements that are or may be operating in the security mission area of operations.
  • Known locations or templated locations of any enemy forces that may have been bypassed in past operations.
  • Routes you believe the enemy will utilize for reconnaissance or infiltration.
  • The capabilities the enemy has in conducting infiltration.
  • The capabilities the enemy possesses in conducting an aerial insertion.
  • Locations you believe the enemy could utilize to position observation posts or indirect fire observers.
  • The enemy’s capabilities in surveillance assets. This could include various radars and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).
  • Determining what field artillery assets the enemy possesses that can range the anticipated locations of the security unit.

How will you conduct coordination in the security area? One of the most challenging and critical aspects of a security mission is conducting the necessary coordination between and among units. This coordination can take many forms. These include:

  • A security mission can involve operating in inhospitable terrain and may cause a unit to operate in depths and widths they are not accustomed to. These factors can result in causing gaps in the unit’s coverage. Consequently, coordination must be conducted to ensure these potential gaps are covered within the unit. These gaps can be mitigated if the unit possesses technology such as radars and other surveillance assets.
  • Many times there is a significant distance between the security unit and the main body. Coordination must be conducted to ensure the main body knows exactly where the security unit is operating and what they are doing.
  • Once a unit is given a security mission, it may be required to pass through other units to get to its’ specified location. This will require coordination between all units to conduct this passage of lines.
  • Vice versa, once the unit has completed its’ mission, it will generally maneuver back to and through the main body. Coordination must take place between units to ensure this rearward passage of lines is conducted without a hitch.
  • One of the key pieces of coordination that must be done is between the security unit and units from other commands. This coordination must take place so units know who may be operating on their flanks, forward of their location, or to their rear. A lack of this awareness can lead to disastrous consequences.

Needless to say, security is an imperative. You may have the greatest plan in the world, but if your security is a sieve; you will never get to execute this plan. In this article, we wanted to provide you a solid background on security operations. We included the types of security operations, the fundamentals of security operations, and concluded with a group of considerations you should reflect on during the planning of any security operation. This background will set the conditions for our following articles.

We have covered the basics of security operations. Now it is time to dissect the first major type of security mission – the screen. Our discussion next month will address all facets of the screen – planning, preparation, and execution. At first glance, it may appear that executing a screen is a pretty elementary operation. However, as you will discover there is far more to a screen than meets the eye. See you next month!

Ukraine jails North Koreans in missile espionage case

July 18, 2012

One of the two North Koreans being led to court
A court in Ukraine has jailed two North Korean citizens on charges of trying to obtain secret technical information about missile engines. A Ukrainian government official said on Monday that the North Koreans had each been sentenced to eight years in prison, and that “they will serve their sentence in Ukraine”. Speaking to Russian-language Ukrainian daily Segodnya, the official said that Ukrainian authorities had expected that Pyongyang would request extradition of its two citizens, but that the North Korean government’s reaction had been “passive”. According to the paper, the two convicted men, who have not been named, were employed by the North Korean trade mission in Belarusian capital Minsk. It was from there that, several months ago, they arrived by train to Kiev, where they tried —unsuccessfully— to recruit a number of locals as informants. One of the latter tipped off Ukrainian authorities, who placed the two North Koreans under surveillance.

Eventually, the two suspects were arrested in a rented garage in the Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk, while photographing technical documents with a pair of handheld miniature digital cameras. The Segodnya report stated that the documents consisted of doctoral dissertations, marked ‘confidential’, which described highly technical methods of designing effective solid- and liquid-fuel supply systems for missile engines. Some of the documents concerned the technical specifications of computer software to assist in the design of missile fuel supply systems, said the paper. The confidential documents had reportedly been taken from the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau, a cornerstone of the Soviet —and now the Ukrainian— space industry, which in the early 1960s developed the R-16 (known in the West as SS-7), the first inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) successfully deployed by the Soviet Union. In the late 1960s, Yuzhnoye built the R-36 ICBM (known in the West as SS-18), which formed the basis of the Soviet Union’s nuclear delivery arsenal. Ukrainian media reports suggest that the alleged espionage efforts by the two North Koreans were closely linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, and that the stolen documents could have significantly augmented North Korea’s position in its geopolitical power-struggle with South Korea and the United States. The report in the Segodnya daily said that the two men had pled guilty during their trial and that their lawyer had not appealed the court’s sentence.

How to defeat tear gas in a riot. . .

July 18, 2012

In a collapse of civil order, a riot can break out in any number
of scenarios…

* A natural disaster that causes food shortages
* Political unrest that triggers protests
* Desperate revolt at food/water distribution points
* Looting during a civil breakdown
* Etc.

Of course you can try to avoid these types of scenarios, but the
reality is, you may find yourself thrust into any one of them in
the strange, uncertain times we’re currently facing.

You know this to be true if you’re honest with yourself, right?

When a riot breaks out, one of the most common crowd dispertion
tools used by police or military is going to be tear gas.

You’ve probably seen this dozens of times in televised mob scenes
in Greece, Palestine, Syria and other areas of the world where
collapse is already taking place.

And if you’ve ever been exposed to tear gas, you quickly realize
why it’s so effective:

You can’t see a thing due to uncontrollable stinging in your
eyes and massive tearing…

…breathing becomes complete agony and you’ll feel like
you’re suffocating

…and you’ll run wildly in terror to get to breathable air
as fast as possible.

It’s even worse if you’re protecting a spouse and children.

They can quickly panic and run blindly away in agony, separating
them from you and putting them at the mercy of adrenaline-fueled
military or police and rampaging crowds.

And make no mistake…

A stampeding mob running away from tear gas ISN’T going to
politely step around you and your loved ones.

They will trample ANYTHING in the way of their desperate scramble
for oxygen and they’re just as deadly as a sniper’s bullet if you
fall down.

That’s why the first thing you need to do in a riot scenario is
prepare yourself and those you love against tear gas so you can
stay calm and escape to safety fast.

Now, the best defense against tear gas is a gas mask… but most
people don’t have one on them (especially for each member of the

So to protect yourself and those with you, here are 3 quick tips
for what to do…

1. Have a pair of tight-fitting swim goggles with you –
they’re fast and easy to put on and will protect your eyes
from the gas.

2. Always keep a plastic zip-lock bag with a bandana for each
person and a small plastic bottle of cider vinegar handy.
The vinegar can help neutralize the gas, so quickly empty
the bottle in the bag and soak the bandanas in the vinegar
before placing them over your nose and mouth to breathe

3. Get upwind or escape to high ground (like a hill or
building roof top) – The gas stays low to the ground and
high ground is more defensible if you have to fight back
when things get even uglier and looting breaks out.

Now, knowing how to defend against tear gas is just one of the strategies you need to master to prepare for a complete breakdown when the SHTF. *Shit Hits The Fan)

Mossad ‘helped arrest’ alleged Hezbollah operative in Cyprus

July 17, 2012

Cyprus, Israel, Syria, Lebanon
Israeli intelligence was directly involved in the recent arrest of an alleged member of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, who is said to have been planning a series of attacks against Israeli targets on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Cypriot media quoted police spokesman Andreas Angelides, who confirmed that the 24-year-old man was arrested on July 7 during a raid on his hotel in the tourist resort of Limassol. He also said that the man, whose name has not been released, was arrested “on possible charges pertaining to terrorism laws” soon after entering Cyprus using a Swedish passport. According to local media, Cypriot authorities were tipped off as to the man’s alleged Hezbollah connections and plans by an unnamed “foreign intelligence agency”. However, several news reports suggested over the weekend that officers of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad have already been dispatched to Cyprus to aid local counterterrorist officials involved in the investigation. Several sources allege that the Swedish-passport holder has been collaborating with his interrogators, telling them that he traveled to Cyprus with the intent of launching an armed attack at the embassy of Israel in Cypriot capital Nicosia. He allegedly changed his mind after observing the heavy security measures in place at the embassy, and opted instead for a plan to blow up a commercial airplane belonging to El Al Airlines, Israel’s national air carrier. He also allegedly considered attacking a number of buses belonging to Israeli tour companies operating in Israel. Cypriot police said that a thorough search of the man’s hotel room netted information on Israeli bus tour companies on the island, detailed flight schedules of Israeli airline operators, as well as digital photographs of popular destinations among Israeli tourists holidaying in Cyprus. It is unclear at this point whether the alleged Hezbollah member had any accomplishes, or whether he was acting alone, according to the police report. Commenting on the arrest, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued on Saturday that the captured man was a member of Hezbollah acting under direct orders by the Iranian government. The last time an Israeli facility was targeted on the island of Cyprus was 24 years ago, in 1988, when a car bomb exploded outside the Israeli embassy in Nicosia, killing three people.

Analysis: The Danger in Ignoring Non-Muslim Religious Terrorism

July 13, 2012

Hutaree militia members
Even though over a decade separates us from the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Americans continue to be heavily preoccupied with terrorism. But what is the face of terrorism in our time? Too often, the term ‘terrorist’ conjures up the stereotypical image of an Arabic-speaking Muslim male from the Middle East —viewed by many Westerners as an abstract geopolitical notion that erroneously includes Afghanistan. There is no doubt that Islamic-inspired terrorism is both very real and very dangerous. However, consciously or subconsciously associating terrorism solely with Islam is not only flawed, but also potentially dangerous for our collective security. In reality, all religious dogmas contain extremist elements. This includes religious doctrines that are widely considered peace-loving, such as Anabaptism, or even Buddhism. A case in point that is often overlooked by Westernern observers is Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese millenarianist cult inspired by Buddhist tenets. In 1995, Aum members used sarin gas in a large-scale terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway system, which killed 13 and injured close to a thousand commuters. In later years it was revealed that, prior to engaging in chemical terrorism, Aum had become history’s first known terrorist group to actively try to acquire nuclear material for tactical purposes. It was only after failing to obtain nuclear material that Aum’s leadership turned to sarin. This past Thursday, July 5, an interview of mine was aired on this very subject, namely the current state of homegrown, religiously-inspired terrorism in the United States. In the interview, conducted by the Reverend John Shuck, producer of Religion for Life, a weekly syndicated radio program broadcast on a number of National Public Radio member-stations, I argued that it is both unwise and unsafe for us to ignore the extremist potential of religious fanatics who are not Muslims. I spoke at length about the long history of Christian-inspired terrorism in the US, focusing on the Ku Klux Klan. I also explained the known connections between neo-Nazi doctrines and Timothy McVeigh, the notorious culprit of the 1995 Oklahoma Federal City bombing, in which 169 people perished, making it the worst terrorist atrocity on US soil prior to 9/11. I also discussed more recent examples of Christian-inspired extremism in the US, with particular reference to neo-confederate, racial supremacist, and militia groups. One of the more recent cases mentioned is that of the Michigan Hutaree, an armed group widely believed to be part of the Christian Patriot movement. The 25-minute interview can be accessed on YouTube, here.

Charges dismissed against Israeli general accused of outing Egyptian spy

July 13, 2012

Ashraf Marwan
Israel’s Attorney General has dismissed all charges against a former Director of the country’s Military Intelligence, who had been accused of leaking the identity of an Egyptian spy found dead in London in 2007. General Eli Zeira, 84, had been investigated as a possible source of the leak that identified Egyptian businessman Ashraf Marwan as an Israeli spy who worked in London and Cairo in the 1970s. Marwan, the son-in-law of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, is said to have approached Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in 1969 during a visit to the Israeli embassy in London. On October 5, 1973, he warned his Israeli handlers that Egyptian and Syrian forces would attack the Jewish state on the next day, thus giving Tel Aviv a last-minute warning of what later came to be known as the Yom Kippur War. However, Marwan was found dead underneath the balcony of his London home in June 2007, five years after his alleged espionage activities were revealed in a book by London-based Israeli historian Ahron Bregman. Marwan’s widow claims that her husband was murdered by intelligence operatives. In 2004, the Israeli government initiated an official investigation into the affair, after allegations that General Eli Zeira, the Director of Israel’s Military Intelligence during the Yom Kippur war, was the source that leaked Marwan’s espionage activities to Bregman. The main force behind the allegations against Zeira was Zvi Zamir, Director of the Mossad from 1968 to 1974. In 2011, Zamir, now 87, wrote a book openly accusing General Zeira, not only of leaking Marwarn’s espionage activities, but also of failing to heed the Egyptian’s warnings in time for Israel to adequately prepare for the Yom Kippur war. Reacting to the allegations, Zeira said that Marwan was probably a double spy for Egypt, and that he was instructed by Cairo to warn the Israelis about the impending attack at the last minute, when it would be too late for Tel Aviv to react in any meaningful way. This way, said Zeira, Marwan’s could enhance his credibility with the Mossad without damaging Arab strategic interests. The dismissal of the charges against General Zeira is expected to put the lid on a 40-year espionage affair, which has revealed deep rifts between Israel’s military and civilian intelligence agencies.

Secrecy News

July 13, 2012


Last May, J. William Leonard, the former director of the Information Security Oversight Office, asked a federal court for permission to disclose and discuss declassified National Security Agency documents that had been cited in the prosecution of former NSA official Thomas Drake.  The documents represented a particularly “egregious” and “willful” case of overclassification, Mr. Leonard said, that needed to be publicly addressed.

Last month, government attorneys said there was no basis for action by the Court, and they suggested that Mr. Leonard could submit a Freedom of Information Act request to NSA for the documents instead.

Yesterday, Mr. Drake’s attorneys fired back in support of Mr. Leonard, who served as an expert for the Drake defense. They said Mr. Leonard is properly seeking relief from the Court because it was the Court that issued the Protective Order that limits his ability to discuss the issue.

“The Protective Order remains in effect today. It was not voided or mooted when judgment was entered last year. It has not expired,” wrote public defenders James Wyda and Deborah L. Boardman, Mr. Drake’s attorneys. “Although the United States may not take the terms of its own Protective Order seriously, Mr. Leonard does.”

The government’s suggestion that Mr. Drake file a FOIA request is unsatisfactory in two ways, Mr. Wyda and Ms. Boardman wrote.  First, NSA has failed to release these documents in response to previous FOIA requests, including one filed by me last year.

“Given NSA’s track record and its failure to respond to prior requests […], Mr. Leonard had no reason to believe his FOIA request for the same document would have been successful.”

But even if NSA did release the documents under FOIA, that would not solve Mr. Leonard’s problem, the defense attorneys explained.

“Even if Mr. Leonard had received the documents pursuant to a FOIA request, he would still be bound by the terms of the Protective Order that prohibit him from disclosing and discussing the documents.  It would do Mr. Leonard no good to merely receive the documents pursuant to a FOIA request if he cannot discuss the documents because he is bound by a Court Order that prohibits such discussion.”

The good news, they said, is that NSA has already prepared lightly redacted versions of the documents that are suitable for public release.  “These redacted versions are acceptable to Mr. Leonard,” Mr. Wyda and Ms. Boardman wrote.

Now it will be up to the Court to rule.

The deeper question raised by Mr. Leonard’s action — how to respond to “egregiously” mistaken classification actions — remains open.


“I’ve had it up to my keister with these leaks,” President Reagan complained in 1983 after a series of unauthorized disclosures.  “Keister is slang for buttocks,” the Associated Press helpfully explained at that time.

One of President Reagan’s responses to the flood of leaks was to direct the use of polygraph examinations in leak investigations. (The Director of National Intelligence reflexively responded in a similar way last month.)

National Security Decision Directive 84 of March 11, 1983 directed that “All departments and agencies with employees having access to classified information are directed to revise existing regulations and policies, as necessary, so that employees may be required to submit to polygraph examinations, when appropriate, in the course of investigations of unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

Amazingly, this policy was denounced by then-Secretary of State George Shultz, who threatened to resign rather than submit to a polygraph examination.  He was excused from the test.

“Management through fear and intimidation is not the way to promote honesty and protect security,” Secretary Shultz said in a January 9, 1989 valedictory speech, explaining his opposition to the polygraph.

But management through fear and intimidation seems to be a recurring theme in security policy.  And polygraph testing is part of that, judging from a remarkable story published this week by McClatchy Newspapers.

“One of the nation’s most secretive intelligence agencies is pressuring its polygraphers to obtain intimate details of the private lives of thousands of job applicants and employees, pushing the ethical and legal boundaries of a program that’s designed instead to catch spies and terrorists,” wrote McClatchy reporter Marisa Taylor.

“The National Reconnaissance Office is so intent on extracting confessions of personal or illicit behavior that officials have admonished polygraphers who refused to go after them and rewarded those who did, sometimes with cash bonuses, a McClatchy investigation found.”  See “National Reconnaissance Office accused of illegally collecting personal data,” July 10.  (More here.)

“The US is, so far as I know, the only nation which places such extensive reliance on the polygraph,” wrote convicted spy Aldrich Ames in a November 2000 letter from prison. “It has gotten us into a lot of trouble.”