Archive for December, 2012

US Senate blocks Pentagon plan to launch new CIA-style agency

December 13, 2012

The US Department of Defense
Last week the United States Department of Defense flooded media outlets with press releases announcing the planned establishment of a new military intelligence organization that would rival the Central Intelligence Agency in both size and scope. Not so fast. The US Senate has just blocked the plan citing gross mismanagement of the Pentagon’s existing intelligence operations. The proposed Defense Clandestine Service centers on plans to build an extensive overseas intelligence network, run by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency and based on the CIA model of stations located in large metropolitan centers. The DoD said that the new intelligence organization will help the US armed forces broaden their intelligence collection from the current concentration in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Senate, which was asked to review and approve the plan’s financial requirements, submitted under the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, has refused to do so. Moreover, it issued a written rationale, drafted by the Senate Armed Services Committee, in which it explicitly forbids the Pentagon using US taxpayers’ money to expand its overseas intelligence operations. According to The Washington Post, the reason for the plan’s rejection is two-fold. First, the Senate appears unhappy with the financial management of the DoD’s existing intelligence collection efforts. The Senate report cites serious concerns about the excessive financial cost and management failures associated with the Pentagon’s ongoing intelligence operations. It specifically mentions “poor or non-existent career management” for DoD intelligence operatives who are often transferred back to regular military units after undertaking “unproductive” assignments overseas, despite extensive intelligence training. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s report stipulates that, before it asks for more money to build the proposed new agency, the Pentagon must “demonstrate that it can improve the management of clandestine [human intelligence] before undertaking any further expansion”. Second, Senators demand that DoD officials provide more details on the precise cost of the new program and on how exactly they intend to use the extra intelligence operatives. The report asks for “an independent estimate of the costs” associated with the proposed Defense Clandestine Service, as well as a classified explanation of the administrative and operational structure of the agency. Furthermore, the Senate has asked the DoD to provide information on any institutional agreements between it and other US intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency, relating to the proposed new agency. The Post’s Greg Miller, argues that the Senate’s move to block the Pentagon’s proposal signals “deep skepticism” in Washington that the DoD can bring this ambitions proposal to life. The DoD has long been the US federal government’s most wasteful and mismanaged department, so it is little wonder its reputation appears to have finally caught up with it.

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Get-Home Bag

December 10, 2012

Imagine this, you’re 40 miles from home doing some errands in the city and the Big One has just hit. It cripples communication and power lines, halts public transportation, and has just left your car buried under a heaping pile of concrete. With the power down, your bug-out bag stuck in the car, and some of the zombies coming out to take advantage of the situation, your family is depending on you to get home NOW. But there’s just one thing…

Do you have the resources to make the trek back home by foot? Or are you going to remain where you are, hoping for the government to come help you and possibly risking an attack by looters or worse? This is where you need your Get-Home Bag.

What is a Get Home Bag?

The purpose of a Get-Home Bag is to get you to your home or to some other shelter-in location safely and as quickly as possible.

A Get-Home Bag is different than a Bug-Out Bag in that it is designed to be carried with you at all times (or at least readily accessible) any time you’re away from home. While a typical Bug-Out Bag is stocked full of items to support you for at least 3 days, a Get-Home Bag should contain the minimal amount of items to support you in getting home within a 24-hour period.

What Type of Bag Should I Choose?

If you are caught in a situation where looting and other forms of lawlessness is breaking out (remember Katrina), the last thing you want to do is stand out from the crowd. It’s at those times that you want to be the Gray Man and fade into the background.

If your Get-Home Bag screams “tactical” or looks like you’re carrying a load of preps, you could be a target. For that reason, the main thing you want to ensure is that the bag is discreet.

If you’re female, you’ve already got it made. A purse is discreet but also the larger handbags are often seen being carried by women so not only do they blend in well but they can carry a bunch of stuff.

For you guys, a simple messenger bag works wonders. Especially in the cities, messenger bags are seen being carried by guys more and more so they blend in real well.

I carry 5.11′s PUSH Pack everywhere I go. It’s not overly tactical looking, it has a small footprint (it looks like a camera bag) with multiple compartments and has strategically placed MOLLE webbing so that it can carry a bunch of stuff for its size. Since half the time mine has a baby bottle in one of the outside water-bottle compartments, it looks like a glorified diaper bag — perfect for blending in.

If you can’t deal with the Man Purses, go for a standard back pack. Just be sure not to abuse its size with a crap load of gear. Keep it under 15 pounds. Anything over that and you’ll soon give up carrying it around on a day-to-day basis.

In most cases, try to stay away from the Alice Pack or MOLLE Pack type of look. If it’s overly military looking or you have a bunch of MOLLE webbing with all sorts of gear riding on it, you’ll attract undesired attention since it looks like you’ve got a bunch of supplies on you (and they’d be right).

Just keep it simple and go for what blends.

What Should Your Get-Home Bag Contain?

What you pack in your Get-Home Bag is obviously dictated by personal preference and what your needs are. However, if you’re unsure as how to organize it, perhaps I can share what I carry in my Get-Home Bag and hopefully it’ll give you some ideas on how best to organize yours.

As with all my preparations, they are organized into what I call the 5 Pillars of Survival: personal security, shelter, water, fire, and food.

pers_sec

Personal Security

The Personal Security portion of your Get-Home Bag has to do with those items which will keep you safe and keep you alive (in the case of injury).

If you have the option to carry a concealed firearm in your state and you are comfortable with that, by all means I would recommend that. Otherwise, if it’s not an option, you can carry a knife, pepper spray, stun gun or any other item that can protect you from animals of both the 4-legged and 2-legged-walking-upright variety.

Here’s what my GHB contains:

  • Glock 22 with 15 rounds of hollow-point 40 caliber ammunition
  • Benchmade RSK MK1 folding knife (this, I clip to my pants)
  • stripped-down version of my trauma kit containing: Quick-Clot (combat gauze), Israeli bandage, pain-killers and nitrile gloves

shelter

Shelter

The Shelter portion of your Get-Home Bag includes those items that protect you from the elements. Since you will most likely not be carrying a tent around with you at all times of the day, your limited with regards to size and weight.

My GHB contains one of the simplest and lightest shelters available: a space blanket. These ingenious devices are waterproof, windproof, and can reflect up to 97% of the radiated heat your body throws off. The down side is, since they are so reflective they aren’t very discreet.

If you are worried about being observed, then you’ll want to be sure to cover up the space blanket some how. Or if you can afford the space in you GHB, the military has a field version of a space blanket (often called a “Casualty Blanket“). The casualty blanket is olive drab on the outside so it’s a bit more discreet. It also provides greater durability and warmth than a basic space blanket, but at the cost of greater bulk and weight.

Unfortunately my GHB can’t afford to give up that space, so for now — until something better comes along — I’m stuck with a standard space blanket. (Update: 9/15/11 – I was able to find an olive drab space blanket here)

water

Water

The Water portion of your Get-Home Bag includes water itself or those items that allow you to hold, filter, and purify water.

If you were forced into a 24-hour trek back home, dehydration will quickly become a very real issue. That’s why it’s so important that you have either water on you or some means of getting and purifying it. The benefit of living in New England is water is always a stone’s throw away, however it may not always be the cleanest. For this reason I carry the following:

  • small hydration bladder
  • iodine crystals (Polar Pure) for purifying
  • bandanna (for sediment filtering and many other purposes)

If you live in a more arid environment, consider carrying at least a small water bottle along with you.

fire

Fire

The Fire portion of your Get-Home Bag includes those items that you need to reliably start a fire.

I wouldn’t recommend packing some obscure “cool” fire-making implement like a battery and steel wool or a fire piston. Remember, this isn’t about impressing your friends but about survival. Instead, pack something you know you’ll be able to start a fire with (especially in wet conditions) like a lighter or waterproof matches.

Remember, redundancy is a good thing so pack in a firesteel and some Vaseline-coated cotton balls while your at it. These implements hardly take up any space so if you can carry more than one option, by all means go for it.

Here’s what’s in mine:

  • lighter
  • matches
  • firesteel and Vaseline coated cotton balls

food

Food

The Food portion of your Get-Home Bag includes enough food to carry you through a 24-hour period.

Food is the last on the list of importance in a survival situation (in this case, getting home). You can actually go for quite a bit without food (~ 3 weeks) however, in a high-stress situation liking humping it though a disaster area, you’ll be burning up calories like crazy so having something on hand will give you that needed boost.

For the food part of your Get-Home Bag you’ll want to avoid any high-water-content containing foods like canned goods or fresh foods. Instead pack some simple, dense, calorie-rich foods that save space and take no extra preparation beyond tearing open a wrapper. Dehydrated foods and dense candy bars are more along the lines of what you want.

For my bag I carry four 400-calorie emergency bars. It’s not gourmet but it will carry me through until I get home.

Beyond the Essentials

The elements of your GHB that make up the each of the five Pillars of Survival above should be the minimum required to get you home, but if your bag still has some room in it, may I suggest a few more things which can greatly aid you in the getting-home process.

What I Currently Have in My Bag

Beyond the basic items listed above, here are the other items I am currently carrying:

  • Maps: I carry foldable topo maps (homemade from MyTopo via Google Maps) of my area. This encompasses where I work, my home, and the areas in-between. This way, I can figure out how best to navigate around potentially unsafe or inaccessible areas.
  • GPS: This would be my primary means of navigation if satellite coverage is available.
  • A compass: Since I have experience and training in orienteering (navigating by compass), I carry a small compass that can provide a back-up in case my GPS were to go down (via EMP or otherwise):
  • Survival Knife: I carry a Bark River Bravo 1.
  • Paracord: Too many reasons to list here.
  • Lock-Pick and Bump-Key set: You never know what types of buildings you may need to get into or through in your attempts to get out of an area or into a safer shelter-in location.
  • Surefire E2D LED flashlight: Flashlights not only light the way in darkened areas but provide a tactical advantage.
  • Leatherman Wave multi-tool: The name speaks for itself.

What I would like to carry if I had the room

Given my current configuration, here are some items that I would like to carry but do not quite fit:

    • Breaching tool: A crowbar or modified Stanley Fatmax makes for an excellent breaching tool for getting into and out of areas in an urban environment.
    • Alternate footwear: The chances are good that the stuff could hit the fan while I’m at work. A 45-mile hump in a pair of dockers is not my idea of fun. Unfortunately at the present time I can’t fit a set of running shoes in my GHB. I am currently looking into a pair of Vibram Five Fingers as a potential solution to this issue.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

The key to safely and successfully getting home is to plan ahead. Since your situation is probably different than mine, you need to figure out what potential hazards and obstacles you’d face given the area you’d likely be egressing from. This will dictate what types of things you’ll need to equip.

As with any form of survival training, be sure to practice with the tools you carry. Getting caught in an emergency situation is not the time to try out a new tool/technique for the first time. Be prepared ahead of time with both equipment and training.

ITS Discreet Messenger Bag Review

December 10, 2012

In a previous article I wrote about The Get Home Bag  and why having one with you when you’re out and about is a very important part of being prepared.

Besides the 5.11 PUSH Pack (the one I recommended as a Get-Home Bag in that article), I now have another bag that I would highly recommend and is the focus of my review for you today.

The bag is called the ITS Tactical Discreet Messenger Bag (Gen 2) and it’s designed and sold by the guys over at ITS Tactical.com.

I met the owner of ITS (Bryan Black) last year in Vegas at the SHOT Show and he’s a stand-up guy. I’ve been following his blog and work for a while now and they have a great community and some fantastic resources over there so be sure to check them out (Note: I was not paid or given the bag or compensated in any way for this review).

ITS Discreet Messenger Bag Gen 2 Review

First Impressions

My first impression of the bag was the obvious quality. Entirely hand made in the USA from 1000D Cordura, this bag seems like it will take a beating (and then some) and still be around for years to come.

In keeping with its name (ie “Discreet”), from outward appearance it really doesn’t display any overly “tactical” features. There’s no MOLLE webbing, camouflage, paracord or Velcro and looks like your standard messenger or laptop bag. However, when we take a look under the hood, you’ll see that it has a bunch of great features for you tactical junkies out there looking for a great way to carry your gear discreetly.


The dimensions of the bag are 15″ long x 5.5″ deep x 12″ tall and it’s available in black, coyote brown and foliage (the coyote brown version is featured in this review).

Looking under the hood

Here are some of the main features of the bag:

Bottle holders

On either side of the bag are bottle holders large enough to fit a standard Nalgene bottle. Also included with each pocket is a removable strap secured by Velcro that will help to retain your bottle if things start to bounce around.

External Velcro field w/ discreet cover

On the outside panel you can peel away a cover revealing a 4″ Velcro field for you to attach unit/team/group patches, reflecting patches etc.

Abrasion-resistant lined bottom

On the bottom of the pack you’ll find a rubbery material (called SlipNOT) that is highly abrasion resistant. Also, there’s a removable weave of elastic shock cord which is great for holding your jacket, gloves or other extra clothing.

Two interior “drawbridge” style pockets

Opening the bag’s flap reveals two paracord drawbridge pockets (7.5″ wide x 9.5″ tall) that contain two elastic-retention magazine pouches and a large rear pocket.


These are large enough to fit 4 AK mags or 8 AR/M4 standard mags or Magpul Pmags. They also can fit multiple handgun mags as well as a host of other gear.

Map pocket

On the inside of the outer flap you’ll find a 14″ x 12″ zippered marine-grade vinyl map pocket — perfect for getting home by foot if the occasion ever arose.

Multiple interior pockets

In the main section of the bag you’ll find three inner pockets: a central pocket for your larger gear, a padded laptop pocket that will fit most 15″ laptops, and a deep-looped velcro lined and HDPE-reinforced concealed pocket.

The small macbook fit without issue in the laptop pouch but my 15.5″ Toshiba only fit in the main area:

The concealed pocket is perfect for a velcro holster (also available through ITS) and pistol.

Top lid zipper access

One feature that I really like with this bag is that the concealed pocket is easily accessible through the top lid via a zippered access. It allows for quick (relative) and discreet drawing of a pistol.


Retaining strap

Another feature which I really liked with 5.11′s Push Pack which this bag also has is a retaining strap that you can secure around your waist so the bag doesn’t bounce around if you’re on the run — perfect for catching a train or running from zombies.

Secret hidden pocket

What you’ll also find built into this bag is a secret compartment/pocket. They actually did a great job at making this compartment invisible to even prying eyes. Since it’s to our advantage that people don’t know where this is (sorry guys) you’ll have to purchase the bag to get that info.

Israel special forces conducting cross-border operations in Syria

December 10, 2012

Regional map of Syria
Teams of Israeli special forces are currently operating inside Syria in an effort to detect and sabotage the Syrian military’s chemical and biological arsenal. Citing an unnamed “Israeli source”, the London-based Sunday Times newspaper said yesterday that the operation is part of a wider “secret war” to track Damascus’ non-conventional weapons stockpiles and “sabotage their development”. The Israeli government refused comment on the paper’s allegation. However, Israel’s covert activities against the Syrian government’s chemical and biological arsenal go back almost 30 years. Reputedly, some of the more recent such activities may have involved the targeting of Russian scientists. Although Russia routinely denies it, it is believed that Syria’s non-conventional arsenal was significantly augmented in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the help of Russian retired general Anatoliy Kuntsevich. Kuntsevich, one of the Soviet Red Army’s top scientists, is said to have helped Damascus build its XV nerve agent stockpiles, which are still believed to be in existence today. Interestingly, Kuntsevich died suddenly in 2003 onboard a flight from the Syrian capital to Moscow. It was widely speculated at the time that the Mossad, Israel’s covert-action agency, may have played a role in the Russian general’s sudden death. In 2010, another retired Russian general, Yuri Ivanov, who had served as Deputy Director of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, died in unclear circumstances. The body of 52-year-old Ivanov was found in Turkey on August 16, 2010, several days after he had disappeared close to a Russian naval facility in Syria. Russian media did not report Ivanov’s death until several days later, when he was quietly buried in Moscow. According to reports in the Israeli press, the former GRU official was on his way to a meeting with Syrian intelligence officers when he went missing.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War Decision Releases Force

December 7, 2012
 Energy may be likened to the bending of a cross-bow; decision, to the releasing of the trigger.
Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all. Amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without apparent head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.

Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.

Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy; masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions.

Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act.

By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him.

The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence, his ability to pick out the right men and to utilize combined energy.

When he utilizes combined energy, his fighting men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground, and to move when on a slope; if four cornered, to come to a standstill, but if round-shaped to go rolling down.

Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet in height. So much on the subject of energy.
 

Effective Delegation Saves Time, yet Initially it Requires Time

December 7, 2012
  • Delegation is the process of entrusting a task or a part of a task to others.
  • Know what cannot be delegated – make sure you properly assess the task and the level of competency, confidentiality, and commitment required to complete the given task SUCCESSFULLY. Do not put yourself or any of your Team in a position where they cannot succeed. Remember: Failure can be successful if learning occurs.
  • Granting Authority: you can delegate authority, however you cannot delegate responsibility. When you delegate a task, it is important to remember this: in the eyes of YOUR Manager, ultimately you are still responsible for the successful completion of all tasks delegated to you, INCLUDING the tasks that you delegate to others.
  • Creates an Obligation: delegation creates an obligation for both of you-to each other. This mutual obligation, granting authority and entrusting a task are like a three-legged stool. Each depends on the others to support the whole. No one can stand alone.

Deterrents to Delegation

1. Why don’t I delegate better ?

  • “I can do it better myself.” -Yes, AND you can’t do it ALL better yourself. For most of us, there is too much to do and too little time to do it. Take the time to develop others. Someday they may be sitting in your seat.
  • “I can’t trust others to do it as well.” -Trust is reciprocal. You get what you give. As a leader you may have to take the first step towards building trust with your team. Delegating a task to someone shows that you trust them to handle the responsibility and you believe in their abilities.
  • “I am reluctant to take the risk they’ll fail.” -Taking risk is a part of a leader’s job. If you’re not taking risks and making mistakes you’re probably not leading much. Remember, leaders operate where things are being done for the first time, where there is no road map. You’re bound to take a wrong turn. We all make mistakes – recover and move on.
  • “I don’t have time to involve others.” -Then make time. It may cost you time upfront, however, the long term investment ensures a solid foundation of informed, trained, and competent team members/associates.
  • “I feel my team members resent when I follow up on their work.” -Following up is done out of RESPECT for them and their work. Because you RESPECT and APPRECIATE your team members and the contributions they make, it is your job as a leader to confirm how much value they add. Additionally, follow up will help you and your team members decide where the learning opportunities are simply by conducting brief After Action Review (AAR) or “lessons learned.”
  • “I can’t bring myself to delegate ‘busy work’.” – Busy work is a part of any organization and any job function. If they are going to be standing in your shoes eventually, let’s make sure they understand up front just how they fit and what comes with the fancy laces.
  • “I can’t delegate to my friends.” – It’s hard to separate work from fun, family from friends, and team members from friends. Oh, well. That’s just part of being a leader. Get used to it. There is no easy way out for a leader. Keep the communication open and treat others with dignity and respect. FRIENDS will understand.
  • “Everyone is already busy.” – THAT’S AN EXCUSE! So are you! Try to identify areas where consolidation may be appropriate. We’re all busy all the time. It’s like the weather: Accept it or move.

2. Why team members resist delegation ?

  • They don’t know how to do the task. -Based on the priorities you set and the “NLT” (No Later Than) completion time of the task you or your Customers establish, make time to train others how to complete tasks essential to your organization’s success. The more value they add, the more valuable they are to you, the team, and the organization. Remember, people make the difference, they are you only true, long-term competitive advantage.
  • They have a fear of failure, of criticism of mistakes. – Coach them through the learning curve. Reassure them that mistakes are learning opportunities and that criticism (feedback) is a gift when presented properly.
  • They lack confidence in their abilities. – I can’t think of a better way to build their confidence than to delegate to them and give them the opportunity to succeed and add value. Enough said.
  • They don’t understand what is expected. – Remember we all have different “input” channels and “sorting” styles. Remember, everyone interprets things differently. To some a BOW adorns a package, to others it is a part of a ship. Be Clear. Don’t make assumptions. Ask them to paraphrase until you’re certain the expectations are mutually understood.
  • They don’t have time. – Neither do you! You don’t have time to waste getting team members up the learning curve either. Task organization and time management are essential to mission success. Delegation provides a learning opportunity for everyone. Problems will always exist and can be found everywhere. At any time anyone on your team may need to assume the leadership role and complete the task. Delegation helps prepare others so no time is lost when roles must change quickly.
  • They don’t like doing it. – SO! We all must do things we don’t like to do. It’s a part of life, get used to it.
  • They feel inadequate. – WHY ? This sounds like an opportunity to practice good listening skills. Sit down with them and find out “why”, then develop a plan to coach them through their insecurities.
  • They already feel overworked. – I know, so do I, empathize don’t sympathize.
  • They’ve done it before. – Great! Then maybe they can do it better again, OR, maybe they can teach someone else how they do it and hone their ‘delegation’ skills.
  • They find it easier to ask than to decide. – At some point they need to learn how to make decisions. Easy isn’t a good enough reason to resist. A path with no obstacles would probably lead nowhere and is well traveled. Each of us has a personal responsibility to learn and grow as much as we can. To choose not to do something because it is difficult or challenging is simple laziness and you are depriving yourself of a learning opportunity.
  • They don’t possess the proper attitude. – WHY ? As a leader you need to go find out. It’s your job. Don’t keep stragglers on the team. Be sure you are doing everything possible to redirect their attitude through feedback and coaching. If you have confidently expended all means then you must trust that they are in control of their own behavior. You may correct the attitude through communication and you may not and you may have to cut your losses at some point and move on. It’s a part of being a leader.

How can I Delegate Better ?

  • Trust the abilities of your team members. -By working with your team, practicing the Four Factors of Leadership, and through experience your ability to assess others will improve. Listen to your gut. Often it is the only choice you have.
  • Respect your team members as people. – That’s right. PEOPLE not machines. They have feelings, emotions, and problems; Beliefs, Values, and Norms just like you. Don’t forget that.
  • Keep an “Open Mind!” – The ability to remain “open” about others’ ideas and contributions is essential for leadership. It is extremely hard to do as we tend to view the world through our eyes and our experiences. Remember leadership exists in the unknown. Keep an open mind and keep learning.
  • Understand that mistakes will be made. – Cool! First time mistakes are learning opportunities. Be sure to debrief with subordinates when mistakes occur. A mistake the second time is your learning opportunity: You didn’t prepare / train them enough after the first mistake occurred.

Summary:

  • Effective delegation saves time AND initially requires time: YOUR TIME! It’s a long term investment for you, your team, your Customers, and your organization.
  • Delegation is not a shortcut to avoiding responsibility. You can delegate authority but you can’t delegate responsibility. Delegation saves time through task organization/distribution and by teaming up problem solvers with the appropriate skills to solve them efficiently.
  • Don’t waste valuable time. You can never regain lost time. NEVER!
  • Set the right “Climate.” The right climate is one that promotes successful behaviors and stimulates growth. Be approachable and be sure to approach your team members with the intent of helping them be successful. If you help others succeed, in turn, you too will be successful.
  • Follow the basic steps of delegating.
  • Assess the task.
  • Consider the Four Factors of Leadership: The Led, The Leader, The Situation, Communications.
  • Consider the confidentiality, competency, and commitment required of the individual or team.
  • Provide leadership essentials: Purpose, Direction, and Motivation.
  • Clearly state the Task, Conditions (resources), and Standards (outcomes).
  • Be accessible for help.
  • Follow up and give feedback: Reinforce what you want more of and redirect what you want less of.
  • If you do the whole thing yourself, you are ensuring that the next time you will have no choice but to do it again since no one else learned how.

Select a Task for Delegation and use this Outline:

  • Identify the task and asses it. Evaluate the skills required.
  • Consider the Four Factors of Leadership. How do they apply to this task ?
  • Consider the competence and commitment of team members. – select a person or persons to complete the task.
  • Identify and provide:
  • Purpose – Why are we doing it ?
  • Direction – Where to begin; orientation of tasks.
  • Motivation – Fuel for the fire.
  • Identify and clearly state:
  • Task – What is to be completed or accomplished.
  • Conditions-resources available for this task.
  • Standards-Minimum results expected.
  • Be accessible for help. Inquire about progress. Spot-check along the way.

Follow up:

  • Was the task completed successfully according to criteria ?
  • If no, identify reasons why-conduct AAR.
  • How can you turn failure into a successful learning experience for both of you ?
  • What feedback will you provide from this process ?
  • Reinforce ?
  • Redirection ?

The Three B’s of Preparedness

December 7, 2012

Well, the election is over and it’s become apparent that our Nation is continuing down a slippery slope. With all of the legislation and rhetoric being espoused from D.C. regarding gun control, ammo taxes, healthcare and the much vaunted secession debate which is continually spun and re-spun by the media; Mr. John Public is fed a steady stream of ilk which cements him in apathy. Mr. Public doesn’t know what to do or believe because he’s not a doer, nor is he self-motivated, but one that believes everything will pan out as long as he continues to rely on the institutions which made this Nation what it is today. If he encounters difficulty in life, he simply reports to the local welfare office for his monthly ration. Should he become ill, he simply needs to report to the local Medicaid office where he will be assigned a doctor and cared for. And, when he is one day unable to find stable employment, he simply reports to the FEMA Camp where work will be assigned and his basic needs met and his protection assured by the armed FEMA Youth Corp from the civil uprising that is outside the gates.

However I and I pray you dear reader, am a doer. We have seen the writing on the proverbial wall for some years now and daily things escalate- A super storm in the North East, an earthquake in Eastern Kentucky and in the Middle East Israel has decided to start assassinating its enemies without “international” approval. If you have not been prepping for a while now, YOU’RE ALREADY BEHIND! Preparedness isn’t something that is a passing fad or an idea that can be thrown together on a whim. True preparedness isn’t having enough on hand for a few days during a storm; true preparedness is a lifestyle… Something you live and DO daily. With that in mind, I have broken down this lifestyle into three categories called the “3 B’s”- they’re easy to remember and should you prep these items alone in abundance and in redundancy you will not only have the very core of your long term survival needs, but trade items which can be utilized as currency when there’s none to be had.

The three B’s are:

BEANS: Beans doesn’t only stand for the wonderful things that make chili extra filling and our rear ends extra noisy, but food in general. Obviously you will want to eat should you be forced into a long term situation of self-reliance. If you believe that you will be able to live on wild edibles and wild game; you’re incredibly misinformed. You will not be able to harvest enough from the wild to be completely self- reliant and in all likelihood not enough to survive just one harsh winter. Thus, you MUST supplement your wild edibles and gardening and canning with store bought canned foods, MRE’s, Freeze Dried and Dehydrated food stuffs. Taking into consideration your shelter and mobility options, you may be able to have one large cache of food or several within a specified area. Regardless of the scenario, compile primarily foods, drinks mixes and yes, even liquor such as whiskey or vodka, which you consume on a regular basis NOW so that your palate is not forced to greatly adjust to “survival food”. If you hate Spam- don’t stock it in abundance! Use it for trade… Liquors like Vodka can be used as trade, antiseptic, poison ivy relief, a laundry freshener, insect repellant, mold killer, and to treat ear aches to name only a few!

BULLETS: Bullets obviously means ammo but I also lump knives and other tool items in this category. Stock up on common ammunition NOW. We all hear the rhetoric and it’s only a matter of time before they tax the ammo so much we cannot afford it. Look at the Cook County Illinois (Chicago) with their proposed “violence tax” of $0.25 per bullet sold! So that box of 50 .22 rounds will now cost you a whopping $22.50 instead of the current $10.00 (approx. for Federal ammo at Sportsman’s Guide). What is common ammunition? Well, it’s not .223… Think 12 gauge, 22 long and 9mm- these are the guns you need on hand for your family and the ammo you need to stock FIRST in abundance because it’s cheaper, easier to obtain now and it will be the most common you’ll find should your neighborhood be taken to a FEMA camp… Some will argue that they need to grab up their .223 or 7.63×39 or 54 because the others are more common and while that rings true, the others build up faster. I mean how many .22 do you really need? You can get a box of 500 Blazer rounds for $17- stock up 5000 rounds and you’re probably set for your .22 supply for some years to come. Do the same with your 12 gauge which is $23 for 100 rounds of target or bird shot at Wal-Mart. Remember; the common ammo is for small game hunting and bandit protection. You need the other goodies for the occasional big game, holding off marauders, zombies, Blue Hats, etc. Another thought to consider is picking up some barrel adapter for a 12 gauge single shot such as a New England Arms Pardner or H& R single shot. You can pick these weapons up for around $50-$60 at most pawn stores, they last forever, you can clean them easily in the field and with a small investment of $110 you could shoot 410/45LC, 9mm and .22 through your shotgun! See www.gunadapters.com for other options…

Knives as I mentioned are also lumped here because everyone needs a good knife for skinning game, doing chores or self-defense. Choose a solid fixed blade and select one that you can stake your life on. Too often people believe they can enter a survival situation with a cheap China made knife from a flea market only to have it break the first time the baton a branch with it. For me, my knife is one of the most expensive items I carry, often costing as much or more than my guns! I go for carbon steel, fixed blade that can just as easily be used for self-defense as they can for common woods chores. I like the Becker BK2 and Habilis Bushtool. But there are many other fine knives that can accomplish the same things. Shop around for the best deal, check eBay, find a trading site such as Bushcraft Trading Post on Facebook- I have upgraded most of my equipment by trading within this group and have a back up knife such as a folder or smaller fixed blade for carving or skinning tasks. Mora Knives are great little knives that can easily be re-handled when the plastic handle breaks, and they’re cheap. Condor Knives also offer good quality products for a fair price. Cold Steel used to be nice and their high end models still are, but they’re priced out of the common mans market. There’s no reason to have to spend over $200 on a good knife… That said, cheap knives have their place in your barter bin. Keep lots around as beaters and for trade with other like-minded folks along the trail.

Band-Aids: Band-Aids stands for all your medical & hygiene supplies. You need bandages, gauze rollers, 4×4 pads, tampons, soap, and toilet tissue, sutures, anti septic ointments, antibiotics galore and whatever prescriptions you rely on. If you wear glasses, have several pairs available in hard cases. Stock up on common antibiotics and refill whatever prescriptions you’re given as often as you can and just keep the meds stocked back because they most likely don’t expire. There are over 122 types of commonly prescribed medicines that don’t go bad, some even after 40 years of storage according to a recent FDA press release. Things that do expire are Aspirin and Tylenol, but they will still go at least 5 years according to the same FDA study! And you can get 140 tablets of 325mg Aspirin at your local Dollar Tree for yes, $1 that is made in the USA!

Additionally, get some basic medical training. A class in Wilderness First Aid will greatly enhance your ability to field treat common problems and learn to improvise when you lack proper medical equipment. Get books- REAL BOOKS, not ebooks on field medicine. When and if the power grid fails, ebooks are worthless. If you’re near Kentucky and want to get some training in Wilderness/Disaster Medicine, check out my website as we offer classes on a regular basis.

I realize that it’s difficult to store everything you need for 1, 2 or more years and in reality, you can’t do it due to variables that cannot be foreseen or taken into account. However, you can at least prepare enough essentials to greatly affect your survivability over a long period by simply prepping the 3 B’s.

And always remember- Hope for the best, prep for the worst…

Army Exploring M110 Semi Automatic Sniper System (SASS) Improvements

December 7, 2012
The M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) is one of the U.S. Army’s more recently procured medium caliber sniper rifles. The Army is seeking to shrink the weapon’s size and lower its weight. PEO Soldier photo

In much the same way that the U.S. Marine Corps is exploring potential enhancements to its current 7.62 x 51 mm M40A5 Sniper Rifle, the U.S. Army is also exploring a number of similar enhancements to its own 7.62 x 51 mm M110 Semi Automatic Sniper System (SASS).

 

The M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) is an anti-personnel and light antimateriel weapon that fires 7.62 mm ammunition out to a maximum effective range of 800 meters. It incorporates a rapid fire/rapid reload design, variable-power day optic sight, and 10- or 20-round detachable box magazines. The weapon system exceeds the rate-of-fire and lethality of the M24 Sniper Weapon System. The M110 weapon system (combat ready with suppressor and loaded 20-round magazine) weighs 17.3 pounds. PEO Soldier photo

First fielded [first unit equipped] in the 1st quarter of FY 08, the M110 SASS is a lightweight, direct gas operated, semi – automatic, box magazine fed, 7.62 x 51 mm rifle intended to engage and defeat personnel targets out to 800 meters. The weapon is manufactured by Knight’s Armament Company, based in Titusville, Fla. The weapon’s associated Leupold Mark IV 3.5-10X scope provides field of view options to suit the specific tactical range applications. Using 10-round or 20-round detachable magazines, the semi-automatic M110 SASS greatly exceeds the rate of fire and lethality of the previous M24 Sniper Weapon System.

 

Army representatives outlined their interest in enhanced characteristics through a recent “sources sought” announcement. The announcement, dubbed Compact Semi – Automatic Sniper System (CSASS), was released by the U.S. Army’s Army Contracting Command on behalf of the Project Manager Soldier Weapons (PMSW).

 

CSASS interest focuses on manufacturing a complete system or reconfiguring some or all of the existing M110 SASS currently available in Army inventory.

Specific criteria outlined for the notional CSASS focus on size and weight improvements. Specifically, the announcement calls for the overall length of the weapon to be reduced using a shorter barrel and/or collapsible buttstock. Maximum overall assembled length of the rifle would be no greater than 36 inches with the stock at its shortest position and no sound suppressor mounted. This compares with a 40.5-inch length for the current SASS with buttstock fully compressed and without suppressor.

At “no more than 9.0 lbs. for the unloaded rifle without optics and accessories,” the CSASS would also be lighter than the current SASS design.

Other noted CSASS criteria include:

  • semi-automatic operation;
  • compatibility with 7.62 x 51mm NATO cartridges;
  • modular, adjustable pistol grip;
  • non-adjustable match style trigger;
  • fore-end hand guard that includes a fixed 12 o’ clock rail with configurable 3, 6, and 9 o’ clock rails;
  • muzzle mounted, detachable compensator/muzzle brake compatible with the sound suppressor;
  • bipod with tool-less detachment featuring cant and pan/track capability;
  • Army specified variable power day optic and compatible rings;
  • back-up iron sights offset 45 degrees from the day optic scope;
  • flush cup, quick detach sling attachment points; and,
  • “Significant improvement from M110 requirements while enduring higher rates of fire.”

The announcement identified a CSASS production requirement “at an estimated range of 125 per month with a capability to ramp up to 325 per month.”

Operation Harling: British Special Operations Executive Team Blows Bridges In Greece

December 7, 2012
Greek Andartes (resistance fighters) in Greece, ca. 1944. The Greek Andartes overcame division between the two main resistance groups in order to help the Special Operations Executive carry out Operation Harling. National Archives photo

 

“Get the sheep away from the bridge, the British are going to blow it up tonight!”

-Elderly villager warning sheepherders at the base of the Gorgopotamus viaduct

Supplies for Axis troops in North Africa arrived from Europe one of two ways: in the west through Italy and Sicily and then to Tunis or Benghazi, and in the east through Greece and Crete and then to Benghazi or Tobruk. During the summer of 1942, Lt. Gen. Bernard Montgomery and his Eighth Army were preparing for what would become the Second Battle of El Alamein. Disrupting the Axis supply line in Greece now became a priority. The main supply route there was a single-track railroad line, part of the famous Oriental Express route, that ran down the middle of Greece, terminating at the port of Piraeus. Because the road network in Greece was all but nonexistent and there were so few railways, even a partial destruction of that line would compromise supply efforts. Planners determined that the best choke point was about 75 miles northwest of Priaeus in the rugged Brallos Pass. Three railroad viaducts were located there: Gorgopotamus, Aspops, and Papadice. Commander in Chief Middle East army headquarters assigned Special Operations Executive (SOE) the task of wrecking them. It was SOE’s largest and most complex mission to date. Led by Lt. Col. Edmund “Eddy” Myers, twelve SOE soldiers prepared to launch Operation Harling.

The Gorgonpotamos viaduct blown up in 1942 by the Special Operations Executive as part of Operation Harling and subsequently rebuilt. © Crown copyright. IWM

Myers divided the team into three groups of

 

four. Each group contained a leader, an interpreter, a sapper, and a radio operator. The first attempt to insert the teams on Sept. 28, 1942, failed as the three modified B-24 Liberators couldn’t find the prearranged landing zone signal fires. Another attempt was made two days later. This time signal fires were located near Mount Giona in Central Greece. Though the fires’ arrangement was not what everyone had been told to expect, the decision was made to parachute in.

Instead of landing close to each other, the groups and their supplies wound up scattered. The group led by Maj. Christopher Woodhouse landed near the signal fires. Woodhouse, who spoke fluent Greek, soon discovered why the signal fires were odd. They had been set by three villagers who, having heard the bombers two nights ago, hoped that by doing so they’d be rewarded with an aerial drop of supplies and ammunition – not soldiers!

The second group landed some distance away. Because of the rugged terrain and the need to avoid detection, a week would pass before it rendezvoused with Woodhouse’s.

The most harrowing experience occurred with Maj. Cooke’s group. Three members landed near the Italian fortified town of Karpenissi, with one of them landing in the town itself. Friendly villagers managed to help all four evade the Italian troops. Ultimately it took Cooke’s group two weeks to join the others.

During this period the SOE groups encountered Greek andartes (guerrillas) from the two main Resistance groups, the Communist-backed Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS) and the right-wing National Republican Greek Leagues. After being briefed on the mission, for the first and only time the two rival groups agreed to work together to help make Operation Harling a success.

Maj. C.M. Woodhouse (left), who in September 1943 succeeded Brig. Gen. E. Myers as commander of the British Military Mission in Greece. Maj. “Jerry” Wines, U.S. Army, co-commander of what became the Allied Military Mission, is at right. © Crown copyright.

Reconnaissance of the three viaducts determined that the Gorgopotamos viaduct was the most vulnerable. The andartes would attack the garrisons stationed at both of the approaches. Once the garrisons had been neutralized, the SOE team hidden in the valley would attach explosives to the base of the pier supporting the middle of the viaduct.

The attack began at 11:00 p.m. on Nov. 25. The assault on the garrisons was supposed to last a few minutes. Instead it continued for more than an hour. Worried about enemy reinforcements, Myers ordered his men to start laying their charges. At 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 26, the first explosions detonated, collapsing two spans. About an hour later the remaining span was destroyed. By 4:30 a.m., with the andartes suffering only four wounded, the attackers departed.

SOE’s success set the stage for similar major operations throughout Europe. It took seven weeks for the Axis to repair the viaduct. Hitler also reassigned six divisions from the Eastern Front to Greece. Woodhouse and a couple other senior members of Harling were ordered to remain in Greece and form the British Military Mission to Greece.

Years later Woodhouse, a retired colonel and the 5th Baron Terrington, recalled that security was a constant problem in Greece. “If one Greek knew, then all knew,” he said. “So we became resigned to the fact there was no real secrecy, whatsoever. However, since nobody told the enemy, our plans were not generally compromised!”

A video clip about Operation Harling can be seen on YouTube at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4agppakDL6Y.

Illegal spy agency operated in West Germany, new book claims

December 7, 2012

Willy Brandt
Conservative politicians in Cold-War West Germany set up an illegal domestic intelligence agency in order to spy on their political rivals, a forthcoming book claims. In Destroy After Reading: The Secret Intelligence Service of the CDU and CSU, German journalist Stefanie Waske exposes what she says was an elaborate plot to undermine West Germany’s rapprochement with Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe. The book, which is scheduled for publication in February of 2013, claims that the illegal intelligence agency, known as ‘the Little Service’, was set up by politicians from Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister organization, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU). The two parties allegedly founded ‘the Little Service’ in 1969, in response to the election of Willy Brandt as German Chancellor in 1969. Brandt, who was leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP), was elected based on a program of normalizing West Germany’s relations with Eastern Europe. Under this policy, which became known as ‘Neue Ostpolitik’ (‘new eastern policy’), Brandt radically transformed West German foreign policy on Eastern Europe. In 1970, just months after his election, he signed an extensive peace agreement with the Soviet Union, known as the Treaty of Moscow, which was followed later that year by the so-called Treaty of Warsaw. Under the latter agreement, West Germany officially recognized the existence and borders of the People’s Republic of Poland. Brandt’s Neue Ostpolitik, which continued until the end of his tenure in the Chancellery in 1974, earned him the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve reconciliation between West Germany and the countries of the Soviet bloc, primarily East Germany. But Brandt’s policy of rapprochement alarmed the CDU/CSU coalition, says Waske, which quickly set up ‘the Little Service’ by enlisting former members of Germany’s intelligence community. Intelligence operatives were allegedly tasked with infiltrating the SPD and Brandt’s administration and collecting inside intelligence, which could then be used to subvert both the party and its leader. According to Waske, ‘the Little Service’ eventually established operational links with conservative groups and individuals abroad, including Henry Kissinger, who at the time was National Security Adviser to United States President Richard Nixon. One of the book’s most controversial allegations is that, in one of his communications with ‘the Little Service’, Kissinger entertained the possibility that the CDU/CSU coalition, with the assistance of the German military, might overthrow the government of Willy Brandt, though “it remain[ed] to be seen whether this would involve risks”, he argued. Waske alleges that the illegal intelligence network continued its operations until 1982, when CDU politician Helmut Kohl was elected Chancellor of Germany, thus ending fourteen straight years of rule by the SPD.