Saturday, May 26, 2018

Basic Training - Team Formations

On a patrol, a team should be moving as skirmishers, i.e. everyone looking at everything within sight, and ready to respond immediately to anything or anyone sighted, hostile, neutral, friendly, or unknown.

How this is accomplished is a function of the team's leadership, specifically the leader, responding and directing his team members to take up appropriate position and spacing, as a function of the terrain itself, the likelihood of contact with hostile forces, and the suspected direction of such encounters.

In short, you arrange your people in the most useful way possible to be able to respond to likely threats.

The way that's done is with team formations.
As we noted in the patrolling notes, the minimum patrol size should be three members. The ideal team size is actually four. This is for the same reason Army tank platoons and military flight formations are both four-ship affairs: it gives you two leaders, each with a wingman, which allows for one to move and one to flank, or one to bound and one to cover, and gives everyone someone else as their "battle buddy" to cover them and "have their back".

"An Army of One" is recruiting rah-rah nonsense, for the most part; the real army is pairs, teams of pairs, and squads of teams.

Larger formations invariably should be constructed of additional four-person teams, with a squad being made up usually of two to three (that choice being mainly as a function of whether they're entirely foot-borne, or whether they spring from inside an IFV, with more limited numbers due to seating capacity) fire teams. So a Marine infantry squad is three four-man fire teams plus a squad leader directing all three, for 13 people, whereas an Army Bradley squad is 9 guys: six dismounts, because that's how many seats there are in the back, with the squad leader and two more guys running the Bradley for a base of fire. (A squad should really be two Bradleys, with 12 combined dismounts making up three dismounted fire teams, and both Bradleys making a hellacious base of fire, but I'm not SecDef, so Big Green's Bradley squads get to lump it. But I digress.)

Note on diagrams: military fire teams depend on someone with a SAW or equivalent serving as the automatic rifleman, and at least one member of the four having a grenade launcher. This gives fire support and pocket artillery, leaving the team leader to direct members' fire, and leaving at least one guy to be the plain-Jane rifleman/scout infantry has had as its primary mission for 400+ years.

Technical note: Absent extraordinary circumstance, you will have neither automatic weapons fire, nor grenade launchers. You'll have (ideally) a team of four guys, all with rifles. One might be a designated marksman with a precision weapon and optic. More likely, you'll just have four guys all with roughly equivalent M4gerys or the like, one of whom is the team leader. Regardless of your weaponry or arrangement, the movement techniques are the same. So just ignore the designations for the weaponry you won't be carrying; it's unimportant. Also, nota bene that the team leader's position is frequently a function of being able to best direct the fire of the automatic rifleman and the grenadier, which you won't have. What you should have is a team leader (TL) and a designated Assistant Team Leader (ATL), who is the second in command if anything bad happens to the TL, and the guy in charge of his pair if you split the team into two pairs operating together.

Whether you make the TL your point leader or not , and where the TL is in the team under any and every formation, should depend on one thing alone: where the TL can best lead and direct the members of the team during the patrol to accomplish their mission. That will either be based on your group's SOPs, or the TLs judgment in the absence of other direction.
Being the first, second, third, or even the last guy of the four may vary with the terrain, situation, and objectives of the moment. So in essence, ignore the location of the TL in any and every formation diagram that follows. The key is the shape of those formations, the strong and weak points of each, and not focusing so much on who stands where, or how many dots in the diagrams. That will depend on your group, and the team leader.

There are a number of different formations. This is basically all of them at once:

Strengths: good directional control
good fire to the flanks (L and R)
Weaknesses: poor fire to the front or rear

This is true for both/all straight-line formations: the narrow line is your weak point, the wide side is your strong point.

Staggering that file, or any formation, improves all-around visibility and direction of fires, and minimizes weak points.

But you usually pay for that with increased difficulty of control.


This is just the file on a line abreast. Great for advancing with best fire to the front, weak to either flank. So you get 170° of good coverage to the front and the rear. but you need a wide area of space to do it, and the guys at the end have to keep checking to the sides, and watching the TL frequently. (Which they should be doing anyways, in every formation.)


This is the classic and typical pattern you see in air forces when a four-plane formation flies by. It works the same on the ground.
You can also move the guy on the echelon short side to the front, and make it four-in-a-row, which is just the file or line, slanted.

Echelon to either left or right is possible, making the formation strong to the front and the echeloned side.


This gives you half your guys up front, half in back, and three of the four can fire in any direction. (The guy in the back, depending on the threat direction, is masked by having one or more of his own guys in the way.) The leader can be the middle of this, making control somewhat easier for him. Note that the diagram above calls that a "V", when it's shaped more like a "Y". You can also make it more of a true "V" shape, two pairs, with the two on the left echeloned right, and the two on the right echeloned left. If they need to split off into pairs, they're already near each other.


Strong to front, back, and both sides.
A four-man variation (the diagram has seven dots) places the fourth man at the rear, making it a diamond formation, giving you good all-around-strength. If the front and rear aren't directly in front of and behind each other, and the sides are staggered just a bit, everyone can see/shoot in almost any direction.

If you squish the wedge front to back, it becomes a staggered line.
If you squish it side-to-side, it becomes a staggered column.

Which, in essence, is what an entire patrol consists of: constantly moving the members based on terrain constraints and TL's direction to protect itself, cover the territory in all directions, and be able to move and react to any potential threats.


At a minimum, you want each person about 5 yards apart. As every sergeant has told his troops, "Just one grenade...". You don't want to all be taken out as a lucrative, bunched up target, by anything. You've done the range portion of training, so you know your battle buddy's rifle can shoot 500Y accurately to cover you, and vice versa. So in this case, space is protection.
This rule is written in blood, since forever.

You may want to spread out even more than 5Y. This will depend on terrain, vegetation, potential threats, and what you're trying to do. A patrol is a balance of seeing everything, while trying not to be seen, and as much of each as possible.

Weapons handling

If there's a heavy side to the formation, you should be pointing in that direction. If you're in a staggered column, your weapon should be pointed outbound, i.e. right if you're on the right side, and left if you're on the left side. Learn to fire your weapon with either hand, at least initially. This is especially simple with the AR weapon platform. Why? Carry your weapon as you would; say at a relaxed port arms, pointed left for a right-hander. Now count out loud how long it would take you to turn and fire at an unexpected threat shooting at you from 90° to your right. Then, go to the range, and tell me how many aimed rounds you could loose off in the intervening 2-3 seconds it will take you to get your muzzle from the wrong way to such a threat. (We won't even go into what happens when some percentage of your team, up to 100%, sweeps everyone else in the team with their muzzles on a hot two-way range, during a spaz-ex under fire to get to their triggers. I've met people in wheelchairs for life after they took a round in the spine from someone behind them on "their" team. Bullets are always on their own team; once he's fired and on the way, Mr. Bullet is not anybody's friend. Enough said.) Muzzles go outbound, toward the appropriate side, in all cases. End of discussion.

Team leaders should adopt the formation that allows them to cover the direction(s) they're worried about, not have their people forced to swing muzzles through team mates, and muzzle discipline must be observed more scrupulously "in real life" than on a firing range.

Bigger parties

Note also that the fire team is the basic Lego block for all larger formations.
You can add in additional fire teams, and make different formations.
For instance, two entire squads echeloned. now make a giant "V":

Or you could arrange a squad so that each fire team is in a wedge, but the squad forms an echelon:

The only limit is how many fire teams you have to play with, and what you want to do.
All the pieces are mix and match, and it works with individual people, vehicles, aircraft, ships, etc.

Helicopters prove the point: a formation works for anything.

It's nice to read about this, and good to know what the patterns are (anyone who's played playground football for five minutes can pick this stuff up, it's not difficult). But until you do it with real people, on real terrain, especially after dark, or in the rain, you haven't really learned it. Including going back and forth from one formation to another, with and without cues, which we'll cover in the next instructional period.

Friday, May 25, 2018

When You're Not Training, You Should Be Downloading Like A Mofo

Once again, Sam Culper's Forward Observer mag website is always a conex box full of goodies, most of them for nothing more than the price of mouseclicks and electrons.

Today, he's posted a metric buttload of Intel bookshelf items, pdf files by the bunch, and if you don't go there today and download every single one of them, you're wrong.

In case you're still here, there's no second option coming.

I have all those pdfs already, and the books I don't have, I'm looking at ordering as necessary. Anyone without the free stuff should be grabbing them with both hands.

Your tax dollars have created the instruction manuals for the single greatest military machine in world history, period, and you can learn about what they'll be doing, and what you should be doing, on a host of topics.

You will see this material again, boys and girls.
Possibly in a Darwin Award-winning way, should you fail to grasp the importance of at least the fundamentals.

We're working on some different things, and if your plate is full at the moment, I understand if you're not going to read and digest this entire boon of reference materials tonight before bedtime.

But things on the internet aren't always forever.
The FO page, or the links provided, could go away at any point in time.
Things in your computer, a thumb drive, and in hard copy on your shelf have a much better lifespan.

Go. Grab the lot. If not for you, for the ACE you set up in sportier times, from disasters to riots, to something far worse.

And for you civilians out there, or military types who only look at the pictures, I'm going to give another pearl, for nothing. Write this one down if you need to.

Every military manual has a "References" page at the back. It lists every other military publication that has an impact on, or will aid in the understanding or accomplishment, of the fundamentals of the one you're looking at.

So once you find a great reference book, look for the "References" it lists in the back.
Write them down/print them out.
Then Google them, and see if there's a pdf of the next one.
If there is, grab it too.
Continue down the same process, until you've exhausted each and every rathole of pdf goodness you can find. For maybe a C-note's worth of external drive, like a TB or 2, you can essentially download the entire unclassified Pentagon library into your pocket.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

Bear in mind this isn't just for you.
You may meet someone who can use the information better than you can.
Now you have it.

Second pearl. Same price.

You should put all the basic references on a thumb drive. Times 10, or 20, or 50. Give them away to people you think could use it. Or to LMIs (Like Minded Individuals) who are or might be part of your notional neighborhood protection group, come the day. 8GB thumb drives are like $5@ these days. They'll hold craptons of information. Like every manual *I* suggested to you at the outset of the current basic training course of instruction.

You could should also do the same thing for all the weaponry pdfs.
And all the engineer pdfs.
And all the medical pdfs.
And all the survival pdfs.
Ad infinitum.

Third pearl. Still cost-free.

This sort of experience (reducing large quantities of documents, drawings, and information to the size of three nickels) is what those in the intelligence trade for companies known as "Far Beyond Insanity", "Christians In Action", and "No Such Agency" refer to as tradecraft. As in spy tradecraft.

George Lucas was a piker, and didn't know about Moore's Law when he wrote Star Wars:
Leia and Company could have made 3000 thumb drives, each with the entire construction plans for the entire DeathStar, and put each complete set on something the size of a pack of gum, then sent them outwards in all directions, while Darth was looking for some snotty-ass droids.

32GB. USB and smart-phone plug-ins. $32 at Office Depot.
Holds 500,000 pages of images, or 21,000,000 pages of text.
That's 643 complete sets of the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Is the size of a stack of 5 quarters. Can fit on a key ring.
Consequently scares the shit out of counter-espionage agencies.
You can't stop the signal.

You work out where that skillset may come into play in the near future.

Now, enough fun and games.
Get over to Forward Observer, burn up some bandwidth, and start vacuuming up data like you were doing a Friday cleaning on the barracks to get the weekend off.

Thanksgiving plenty like this should never go to waste.

Super extra bonus: If Crisis Or War Comes
Sweden released this worldwide today, as a 20 pg. (11 in the pdf, because they're 2 pages per pdf page) standard handbook for their citizens in case there's a war, or an internal (read Muslim "immigrant"/terrorist) crisis.
And yes, it's in English. Take a peek.

Say, How About That Deep State?

Kurt Schlichter (a national treasure at this point) asks a simple question.

Can we hope to keep our republic when one of the parties supports tyranny?

He doesn't answer the question, which is obviously rhetorical, but I will:

No, we cannot.

That answer has consequences, as does the ceaseless quest for tyranny by the party representing, nominally, 48% of the voting population, some 66M persons (some of them non-existent, and a like number Munchkinland-Coroner-dead, but that's another topic for another time).

Forgetting entirely what might have been, the continued existence of the nominal republic depends, every waking minute, on the continued heartbeat of a man who will be 72 in less than three weeks' time. And who, at most, will only be able to do anything for another six and a half years. Which optimistic timeframe could vanish like morning mist should that heart stop beating.

What happens after that is anyone's guess, but history has certain suggestions along those lines, from multiple similar situations.

We've been there before as a country too. The last time tyranny tried to hold sway here, it had to be rooted out, from one end of the country to the other, only after seven long years of war, which became an international cataclysm so great, it toppled the French monarchy in direct result.

So unless someone else rises up in the very near future to stand in the breach, currently and solely occupied by a man with voluminous shortcomings, orange skin, and of dubious character, but a prescience for public perception and an instinct for action that has, thus far, proved uncanny.

History has seen that before too. Such genius runs rampant for a time, but there is always a Gettysburg, a Waterloo, or a Senate full of backstabbers to bring such runs of brilliance to a sudden and sticky end. And afterwards, it's the hordes of common followers who pay the price, and ever shall it be.

Someone else was once faced with the prospect of half a nation set against the other half.

 "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other."
We know how that soiree turned out.
Casualty figures at that rate, less than 2% of the population, which were the most fearsome death toll of any war in the nation's history for all time, would in the current time leave 6.5M Americans dead, if the forces of tyranny decide they'd rather fight than quit. That's one 9/11, each and every day, for five years, non-stop.

And when we go, the world system goes as well. The collapse would be biblical.  When  Bosnia or Zimbabwe or Venezuela goes under, the rest of the world just moves to the other side of the street, and continues on by. When global empires collapse, one of two things happens: it either starts a world war, or ends one. We aren't in one now, so you figure out what's next. That's what's at stake.

And not to belabor the point, but that time, most of the war was fought solely on the territory of one side; there were no civil war battles nor damages in vast swaths of the states north of the Mason-Dixon line. A second such conflict will be no such location-limited, which will make it not a state-to-state conflict, but rather one from house-to-house, times everywhere.
And neither blue hive enclaves like Boston, Manhattan, San Francisco, or Chicongo, nor Red State comparative paradises in someplace like Dallas or Salt Lake City should think they'll escape such a conflagration.

It's widely known that there were never any more than a few thousand members of the IRA even at the height of "The Troubles", and in 1969 there were only 50 in Belfast (which rapidly swelled to 1200 in two years). And despite over 10,000 imprisonments over decades, they ran the British ragged and terrorized half that island for half a century, and still exist as an active terrorist organization to this day.

Anyone who thinks that sort of thing can't or won't happen here, from both sides, because magical American exceptionalism, is pissing into the wind: it won't work, and they're all wet.

So, the Leftards can have a sudden 180° reversal of course, because suddenly they acquire a basic grasp on reality contrary to all experience since at least 1960.

Or, you can begin making preparations for what happens once things start to fall apart utterly, and completely, as they always will once tyranny is allowed to run rampant and unchecked.

There's no likelihood anyone in the Uniparty in D.C. wants anything other than unbridled tyrannical statism to become the de facto operating principle of the former republic, and anyone trying otherwise has been uniformly sandbagged and thwarted, if not outright co-opted. Whenever we send one of our guys to Mordor On The Swamp, he stops being one of our guys.

So short of arrests and trials of every person who is and has participated in this Deep State crapola, by the literal thousands before January 20, 2020 (or 2024, at the rosiest reading of the tea leaves), including hunting down George Soros like he was Bin Laden, because he is, you can kiss the republic as you know it good bye.

It's inevitably going to run out of altitude, airspeed, and ideas, and rapidly plummet into the abyss so aptly described by Matt Bracken as "Bosnia times Rwanda".

You could be amidst that now, but for an electoral accident of epic proportions.
Thank a merciful deity, or the most fortuitous conjunction of luck in the galaxy's history.

It will not last indefinitely; it is but a respite.

Thus far, we have not changed course in heading to the cliff Schlichter observes; only our speed.

Nearly 50M good little Progtard minions just in this country want you dead, imprisoned, or enslaved, because they think they can run your lives and theirs better than you could do for yourself.

In fact, every attempt or expression of your belief that you can and should be allowed to run your own life at liberty, drives them into paroxysms of apoplexy and howls of pained screeching, up to frequencies heard only by dogs and bats.

And they'll happily raise and import armies from the pit of hell itself to come here and assist in their undertaking.

The Orcs mean to conquer you, supplant you, chain you up, and ultimately slaughter and eat you, as surely as any scene in a Peter Jackson movie or a J.R.R. Tolkien novel.
Not all fiction is fictional.

So, how much longer would you like to put off doing that PT, or putting your crap together in one bag, and getting your affairs in order?

That Sound Your Head Makes When You Finally Break Suction

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Basic Training - Patrolling

Road marches, and the relevant field manual, are primarily concerned with administrative, i.e. non-tactical, movement from point to point. Generally, it's for getting a group from here to there when bad things aren't likely to happen.

Moving when there is that risk is properly known as patrolling, and addressed better in the text on that subject: FM 21-75 Soldier Combat Skills (January 2008). It was formerly known as Combat Training Of The Individual Soldier and Patrolling.

The part of the current manual that concerns us is chapter 7 (p. 123 of the pdf), Individual Movement.

The primary individual movement is walking.
The difference between walking on a march, and patrolling, it that on a march, getting there is the whole point. On a patrol, getting there is half the fun.

Before you gear up, everyone on the patrol should know the entire patrol cold, from start to finish: Where you are, where you're going, how to get there, what route, all actions in case of a myriad of contingencies, and what you're headed out to do. There should be a designated chain of command from leader to the very last man regarding who's in charge if something happens to the person(s) above them. Once you get outside your own wire, there's no guarantee who's going to be running the show when the patrol when they come back, and bad times are no time to decide, let alone argue over, who's in charge. And everyone should know what to do if they get lost, separated, or have to make it to a rendezvous or return to their start point alone and unassisted. (We'll cover more of this, but understand the general concepts overall at this point.)

Before you start out, even more critically than on a simple march, you should be inspected by the patrol leader to ensure you've got everything you're supposed to have, and nothing you're not supposed to have. Radios should be checked, weapons (if applicable) should be function-checked (and test fired if practical/possible). Nothing on you should rattle, jingle, or shine. You should be able to test-walk several yards and not make any sound above your actual footfalls. Everything should be properly stowed and secured. You should be wearing eye protection, and if you have it, hearing protection that will allow normal sound, but block damaging sounds.

Weapons are carried locked and loaded once you're out the gate, not slung on your shoulder. On a road or trail, half of them should be pointing to each flank. The person carrying them should be using three senses of five at all times on a patrol: looking, listening, and smelling. Anything and everything you collect with those senses may be directly significant to either your life expectancy for the next minute, or for information-gathering purposes, to build an intelligence estimate of your area under whatever the current circumstances are.

Whenever someone is on a patrol they should be looking at their assigned area, with the muzzle in the same general direction. As well they should be regularly doing quick scans of the persons ahead of them, the persons behind, and/or to both sides when moving in any formation or terrain. This is so they can see a change from anyone rapidly, without the need for other communication, and note indications to halt, freeze, or take other action, depending upon what is going on. That way, on a patrol, multiple sets of eyes look over everything. Along the entire route.

You should be listening, for anything that doesn't fit, including nothing. The world, even in nature, is noisy. Dead silence is usually a noteworthy sign. So is everything you hear.

Smell is equally important. Smoke, exhaust, cooking fires, food, dead animals, etc. all activate a primitive part of your brain, for good reason. Your lizard brain knows things your monkey brain didn't get taught in school. It may sense something that makes the hairs on your skin stand up. you may smell something or someone, before you can see them or hear them; pay attention, and pass it on when it happens.

There are multiple reasons to patrol.

It may be a reconnaissance patrol, to see what's out there.
It may be a combat patrol, to find bad people and do bad things to them, or wait in ambush for them to do so.
It may be a logistical patrol, to get or take supplies from one place to another, or to deliver or collect people similarly.

Because of this, as a rule, a minimum patrol should probably be three people. If one gets injured, the other two can bring the injured back. One can keep watch, while one sleeps, and one communicates/relaxes/rests/eats/poops/etc. You can do a patrol with more, even many more. But generally, less than three people will make things a very difficult time if anything unexpected happens, and patrolling is where the unexpected is the reason you're patrolling in the first place.

Besides walking, you may need to move through areas more surreptitiously, either because of lack of concealing vegetation or terrain cover, or the possibility of getting seen/shot/killed.

Your alternatives at that point are approaching stealthily, rushing, high crawling, and low crawling.

Stealthy simply means slow, steady, deliberate movement, avoiding making any sound or sudden movements, and taking full advantage of any concealment, shadow, and cover in the area. Generally, you're still walking, whether upright or crouched.

Rushes are for open terrain, where speed moving from one piece of cover to another is more important than the risk of visibility by rapid moving, because you either figure you've been seen already, or the incoming fire makes that obvious.
You use rushes to move up on someone who knows (or should) you're coming, but dropping back to a covered spot as rapidly as possible, before you can be sighted and shot. Alternating pairs can approach a position with rushes that prevent someone from concentrating fire on a single person or pair.

High crawl is on your knees and elbows, belly and gear off the ground, head up. It allows someone to cover a lot of ground either quietly, or at least quickly, if the brush or cover is only a couple of feet tall, without them being seen. If you're relatively young and fit, you can get across 50 yards in a minute or less.

Low crawling is flat on the ground as low as you can get, generally because cover is extremely sparse, and/or incoming fires are sweeping the area being crossed.

What happens when you stick up too far?
Skip to 2:33 through 2:45:

There's a lot more to cover; this is just the start.

Basic Training - On The Move

Whatever gear, and how much, you think you're going to need, in order for it to do any good, you have to get you, it, and any number of like-minded friends, from Point A, to Point B.

There are a number of ways to do this, but the one that's always going to come into play no matter what, is on foot. Even if you ride, sail, or fly to where you're going, you're going to have to get off the ride at some point.

Once again, everything you need to know to get started is in the reference you should be getting very familiar with, FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017.

So, let's say you're going bare minimums:
Your basic clothes 8#
An M4gery, with optic, cleaning gear, and ammunition: 19#
Two quarts of water in canteens: 5#
Food: 1#
First Aid kit: 1#
Means to carry and hang just all that on you: 6#

You're at 40#, now.

Figure a minimal pack: 3#
with more water: 5#
and more food: 2#
and minimal rain and sleep gear, i.e. poncho and liner: 3#
and a change of socks and under wear 1#.

Figure a knife: 1#
and a bare bones EDC survival kit (we'll get to that by and by): 1-2#.

So you're still at between 40-57 pounds of gear, just to leave the front porch for a bare minimum walk, in a single day or overnight, with no resupply nor means to eat or drink beyond 24 hours.

And you're going to walk that.

The only way to build up to that, is to build up to that.
For Common Core grads, a "klick" is a kilometer, which is 0.6 miles, or near enough.
IOW, a 5 km march, for example, would be 3 miles.

You should start, in addition to your daily PT, with putting on a bag or pack, and working up.
For a training period, we'd do this:
Load a small but sturdy backpack with 20# (weigh it!, and water/snacks don't count), and do 3 km. At a brisk pace on level ground. Don't jog, run, or anything more than a very rapid walk.

Time yourself.

At the published average march rate of 4 KPH, you should cover the 3km (1.8mi) distance in 45 minutes. If you didn't make that, you're too slow.
I say again, If you didn't make that, You're too slow.
Either way, you've got a baseline to aim for. Drive the route beforehand, and note the 0.6 mi. increments using your odometer.
If you go outwards 0.9 mi., and go out and back, the 0.6 is 1/3 and 2/3 of the distance, going and coming. You should be there at 15 and 30 minute marks, and the 0.9 mi. turnaround in 22 1/2 minutes, or better, if you're on pace.
(BTW, day-glo orange and yellow spray paint is sold at the local hardware store, and a spot or short stripe at the curb or on a corner of the sidewalk probably isn't going to cause the walls of the citadel or nearby courthouse to crumble into dust. Road and survey crews plus local utility teams do this 24/7/365, everywhere. Just saying.)

Now you know where you stand in terms of basic ability, with about 1/3 of your bare minimum load.

You can probably guess what happens next.

Your new after-dinner activity every day to every other day after this basic training, is to increase the distance and the load, until you're carrying the equivalent of what you'll be packing, and can do so for a full 8-hour period.

Go up by 2KM/week. Do the base distance every evening. Make the weekend march the one where you add that additional 2Km, which is your new starting distance the following week.
During the week, add another pound a day, for a total of 5#/wk., i.e.:
Week 1 20-25#, starting with 20# for 3K and finishing at 25# for 5K.
Week 2 25-30#, finishing at 7K.
And so on.

At that rate, it'll be a month before you're doing almost 10k (6 mi.), with 40#.
(That would be the equivalent of 3 miles out and 3 miles back, in only your stripped-down fighting load, above).
It'll take you 3 months to get to 80# and 15 miles, and 4 months to be able to carry full weight for a full 8 hour march.

And you can stop adding weight when you've weighed your gear, and figured out your max load, and you reach that weight.
Unless you want to plan for the times when you might need to carry more, like an injured comrade, and his gear.
Which would be smart.

Bear in mind this notional training period is a mere two weeks.
Just like now, you'll be on your own a lot more than you'll be under supervision.
Remember what we said before we started about self-discipline?
You can bullshit anyone you want, but you can't bullshit yourself, or Reality.
Do the work or suffer the consequences.
Like you will.

So on your own time, after basic training, you should be shooting for nightly walks of the target distance - under load, and at least one all-day (approaching 8 hours) walk on your day off (Saturday/Sunday/whatever day your week works out), with eventually 60-80#, for 32+km. (33K being 19.8 miles! That's the 8-hour standard to shoot for, since about Hammurabi.) 
If you can carry a loaded backpack during the day, for some or all of it, that would be helpful.

[If you decide to try adding workout weights to your daily routine, make them waist belts or body vests, if not simply a backpack with actual useful items. Do NOT put on ankle weights, unless you want to overstress your lower extremity joints, and put your orthopedic surgeon's kids through college. Ankle weights are generally for idiots and fools: be neither one of those. If you want to start wearing heavier footgear instead, like for instance the various boots you may be walking in every evening, that would be far more intelligent, and also serve to start breaking them in - like you should do.]

And once you're doing 10k or better, it's time to get off the roads and start making your weekly jaunts cross-country, over progressively worse terrain as you may, in any weather rain or shine, and in all seasons.

After your initial pace experiment, you should stop after the first 10-20 minutes every time, to address gear carriage/comfort, and address any hot spots on your feet. Blisters are always easier (and more fun, trust me) to prevent than to treat. Moleskin and Spenco Second-skin blister prevention patches should be your new best friends, as you toughen your body, bones, muscles, and feet, to being able to walk distances under load, slowly and progressively.

This regimen cannot be "crammed". You can't skip the daily work-ups, and try to cram one week into Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday. You'll tear up your feet, joints, muscles, get injured, and have to start all over again from the beginning after you recuperate.

Also, I get that you may not be able to take 3,4 or 5 hours after dinner every night to go on walkabout. That's why I recommend doing some work during the day (even on a lunch break) to fulfill some of the time requirement. Bear in mind as well, you can do it 2-3x a week, plus one weekday, just increase the weight each time without fail, and if you decrease the time you can devote, increase the pace as well as the weight. The weekend walk still need to be the full time/distance and ending week's weight goal.

And remember, this after-dinner training every 1-2 days is for a few months, not your entire life. Suck it up for four months to get to the goal.

This isn't The Devil's Brigade, and you're not an idiot (I hope). You don't need to be toting rocks or sandbags to make up the load. At the start, make it water and useful items: sunscreen, insect repellant, extra socks, foot powder, ACE bandages, etc. one of the Camelbak HAWGs or equivalent is a useful training aid at that stage. Regardless, add weight progressively, then distance, and repeat until you've toughened yourself enough to cut the mustard.

(And if you don't want to scare the shit out of the locals, the constabulary on patrol, and/or get shot, buy a single workout dumbbell of 8-10 pounds, and carry it in your hands to simulate a weapon, whenever you're inside city limits, or in sight of civilization, like public roadways where the local mounties drive and patrol. Holes in your ass and/or time in the pokey is never good training. An 8-10# weight carried out in front of your body, however, is. You can also get a 5-6' piece of blackpipe, cap it, and fill it with an appropriate amount of concrete, and paint it to look like a wood walking stick, and no one will ever care. Ask me how I know. A 3/4" piece weighted at the tips also makes a wicked quarterstaff for self-defense. Just saying.)

Once you're at distance (+/- 20mi.), weight (70-90#), and speed/endurance (8 hrs.), you can cut back to a once-a-week hike on the weekends, provide at least one per month is full weight, full speed, over off-road terrain, to maintain the level of ability you worked so hard to achieve. (You should be continuing to PT regularly, regardless.)
You are free, however, to work out at the exact same standard more frequently than weekly if you choose.
If things get sporty, it'll be your ass, after all.
Do what you think is prudent.

You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.

You're not getting shot at. Yet.
Getting your body in condition is called "sharpening your hatchet."

You should, at this point, read FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017 cover to cover, and master it down to the details. Then get busy on the practical portion until your body knows the material as well as your head does.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Basic Training - Gear SOPs and Location Standardization

Just one random example.

As I hope I've made plain, because I don't know what you're worried about, or training for, and what you think you can accomplish, I have no idea what a detailed gear loadout should actually look like for you.

Only you can figure that out.

I can give you the resources to help you plan things out, and I have. But this is the part where the "You're-not-going-to-be-IN-the Army/Marines-when-SHTF" rubber meets the "this-is-what-you-need-for-yourself-and-all-your-people" road.

The broad generalities will apply.
The specifics will vary based on more factors than it's worth exploring in a blogpost.

One thing thast must occur, is for you, and all your people, to put your heads together, and figure out what's crucial. Then enforce everyone taking everything that's on the list, and nothing that's not on the list. When you're dealing with 50-100# loads, the only thing as bad as not taking what you should have, is taking anything you shouldn't have. It's not a big deal if you're a pound or two heavier than everyone else, but it's a yuuuuuuuuuuge deal if you're twenty or thirty pounds heavier than everyone else. In a you're-going to-hurt-yourself/poop-out faster and/or-get-us-killed sort of way.

Come up with an SOP - Standard Operating Procedure.
(The military ones are generally written in blood, just like safety regulations. Learn from their mistakes, rather than learning from your casualties. Your conscience, and their next-of-kin, will thank you.)

Split team gear and mission items to even out loads.
Inspect for compliance with the SOP.
Inspect for your guys not taking everything but the kitchen sink "just in case".

And once you've done the headwork to figure out what you're about, or want to be, and figure out your SOP load items for each level, there's something you should do with a lot of them that I can guarantee.

You need to standardize where you put a lot of stuff.

Obviously, lefties vs. righties should be a primary concern, but we can live with mirroring the placement based on a single parameter, i.e. your own handedness.

But if you get shot, would you rather I spend the time while you bleed out trying to discover which one of seventeen places you squirreled away your CAT-T, and do you think it might be beneficial if everyone in your group all marks them the same way, in the same pouch, and puts them all in the exact same spot? And if you're the radio guy, do you s'pose if I need to call for help now, because you can't, that it would be a great help if the Signal Operating Instructions with all the comm frequencies, call signs, etc. was always in the same pocket, every time, for every radio guy, forever? If you're the leader, and out of the fight, and now I need the map, should I need to spend ten minutes trying to look around your body, or should it always be in the exact same pocket, for every leader, on every stroll outside the fenceline?

Clever readers will deduce some subtle foreshadowing from the use of italicization for emphasis in the preceding paragraph.

You can buy, download, or link to, any number of copies of patrol "lessons learned" from prior conflicts, and the better ones will note, time after time after time, that every single group looking for any success quickly learned and shared that finding what worked, and then enforcing that uniformity ceaselessly improved performance and save lives when it counted.

I don't care what your designated SOP loadout or arrangement is.
Only two things matter:

1) Did you field-test it to come up with what works best?
2) Do you inspect to verify that that's how everybody does it, every time?

Do what you like.
The grading curve for the Final Exam will be a harsh one.

Everything The Left has Said For The Last Five two panels.

h/t Kenny

What? You doubt the innocence of that face??

Basic Training - Gear (cont.)

2005 version. Plus ca change...

Picking up where we left off yesterday, we'll move to your third-line gear, your Sustainment Load. If you flip to the very next page (pg. 75, i.e 3-2) of that manual on  FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017 , you'll find another breakdown for what's not a bad idea at all for what to carry in your pack, if you were going on a walkabout.

And note that it comes to another 30 pounds or so.

Depending on whether you plan on wearing SAPI plate armor or the equivalent, you're now at between about 80-100+ pounds of gear, on your back, whenever the mission set is no more complicated than "Go from Point A to Point B".

Getting the point of why everyone from your h.s. phys ed. teacher to your old drill sergeant/instructor to every last single serious blog on preparedness on the web keeps chanting "PT! PT! PT! ?"
We yell, because we care.

Ten, and nearly fifteen (Wow! That long?) years ago, I was routinely toting mil-spec Level One and Two gear loadouts, and an 80-100# ruck on the border. Much more than I ever had to carry in the .mil. (Artillery: "If you can't truck it, f**k it"). I am no JSOC/Ranger animal. And we were only humping it 3-6 miles in and back out, not doing 20-mile daily yomps. But to get the gear to defend ourselves, get photo and video evidence of what was going on, not die of heat stroke or freeze in temps annually that ranged from 120° to 5°, at 4-6K' of altitude, and move into position on the military crest of local highpoints, with enough water and batteries and food and batteries and commo and batteries to be able to sit in place from a Friday night to a pre-dawn Monday or same thing from Tuesday to Thursday, with only everything we absolutely needed, record what was going on, call in groups to civil authorities, and apprehend such groups when they trespassed, and bring our hides safely back to wherever home was, took that much crap, times 3-6 guys, all the time. What we saved on cold weather gear in the summer was made up by needing 3X the water supply, so the loads were virtually the same weight year around. We were not LRRPs, we were SRRPs: Short-Range Reconnaissance Patrollers. Because if we'd had to cover 20 miles/day with that much stuff, it'd probably have killed us. 

If you expect to be able to go out for a couple of days, and see what's going on in your area, which thing you WILL need to do unless you think getting in a furball on your front doorstep is a good thing, because you didn't know what was going on anywhere from 4-20 klicks (kilometers) away from you, that's probably a pretty good taste of what you're going to have to be prepared to do, on a regular basis.

If you're lucky, you may be able to use vehicles or other pack conveyances part or all the way to where you need to get, but that just adds convoy ops or pack animal skills to your necessary skillset.
Oh, and BTW, vehicles break down, usually the farthest point away from anything or anywhere you'd like to be. BTDT, got the T-shirt.

So, looking at the Big Green list, it summarizes the Sustainment Load as

1) Food for 1-3 days, depending on how hungry you are, and/or how well your resupply plan works.

2) A day's water, per man, i.e. 1 gallon@.

3) Wet/colder weather gear, and bare minimum sleeping arrangements (poncho+poncho liner "woobie").

4) A minimal amount of spare clothes.

5) Tools. In this case, just a 1# weapons cleaning kit for the exact same AR-series rifle you should probably have (or one for whatever you are carrying), and a military entrenching tool, i.e. small folding shovel, with case.

Note the list doesn't include a few nifty things.
Individual and/or group radios.
Batteries for same.
GPS (though a compass is included for every Swinging Richard, as it should be).
Anything to heat meals/boil water. Or even make a fire.
Any sort of group medical kit.
Any sort of litter for transporting the sick/injured.
"Pioneer" gear: hatchet, machete, hand saw, etc., of which any notional group should have at least 1@ of.
Rope (climbing or otherwise) or wire.
Maps, signal operating instructions, etc.
Signaling devices, pyrotechnics (panels, flares, smoke, etc.)
Or anything else.

Those are team- and mission-essential gear, and somebody's carrying some of all of that.

And we're civilians, so I've helpfully left out any discussion of things you won't have, like grenades (yeah, there's two frags in the basic soldier loadout, but that just equals another quart of water or another full mag pouch instead, so whatever), explosives, crew-served weapons, ad infinitum. Be happy for small mercies.

So now we're at or over 100#/person, even for any little stretch of the legs where you don't anticipate curling up warm and snug in your actual bed that night, which de facto means additional food and water for the day coming back. The only good news is that you'll drink and eat 8-10#/day of water and food, but some percentage of the time, you may be packing your poop back out for OPSEC reasons. And any additional day means you need to carry or find another 8-10 pounds of water and food per man to make it through, so that's really a wash except on an out and back two-day trip.

Welcome to "light" infantry.

Now you might also understand why Big Green is really rather fond of things like Bradleys and Strykers, rather than just boots. It means they only have to gear up in the 70# "fighting" load, and everything else stays on the vehicle.

It's also why if you shoot one of our guys in the leg, you've taken out one guy, but if you cripple or mobility-kill their AFV/IFV, you've pinned down an entire squad.

"But Aesop, we're not worried about head-to-head conflict with Mutant Biker Zombies in the Zombpocalypse, we're just worried about after a tornado, flood, or hurricane."

Okay, so you're still potentially going to deal with looters, so you're rocking a pistol, maybe a shotgun, and you'll still have the AR if you're any kind of smart, but even if we drop all that but the CCW pistol, you still need your food and water, tomorrow's food and water, chainsaws, axes, and such to get people out from under collapsed houses, or chop through a roof to get them out of the attic of a flooded house, and oh BTW, another metric buttload of medical and/or bare basic relief supplies, like litters/stretchers, blankets, water and food, and maybe tarps and tents. And comms. And go-to-hell waterproof bombproof maps and nav. Even the Cajun Navy, God bless 'em,  needs gas for the boats, batteries for the cell phones and radios, generators to charge them up, plus mountains of food, water, and bandaids.

(This is why generally, both your neighbors and TPTB prefer prepared folks: you're one less cluster of helpless refugees that have to be saved, sheltered, fed and watered, times forever.)

"Intelligence drives the fight."

Once you figure out what you're preparing to do, based on what you probably will face, you can plan for what you'll need for you, your group, and your mission.

Then look at what that looks like for one day.
Multiply that times the number of people in your group.
Multiply that times 30 for a month.
And so on, for how long this has typically/will probably/may possibly last.

You may be getting an inkling that "Sustainment" is part of the Great Chain Of Being for any purpose-driven, task-oriented group, military or otherwise, and therefore start looking at this as much more of an S-1/S-2/S-3/S-4/S-5/S-Whatever problem than a "what do I put in my pack for today" problem.

That would be wise.

You thought you were just working on being a good little foot soldier in a neighborhood defense group, and now you find out you're going to have to run a battalion. True fact: the persons in every military unit with both the best and worst grasp of what's going on are the lowest private, and the battalion commander. Now you know why.

Almost like I, let alone the entire military, had thought about this stuff before burping it all out on you. Trust me, they're not all about $600 hammers, sailors that can't steer a ship, and airplanes that don't fly.

A 5-year-old worries about what's in his lunchbox today.
Mom and dad worry about how to keep filling it up for 18 or so years.

Fieldcraft is therefore basically about "adulting".

Monday, May 21, 2018

Basic Training - Fieldcraft: Gear and Levels

1965 iteration. Ask me how I know. And still pretty damn
functional 50+ years later. Read on.                                   

Anybody who studies history, especially during or after military service, learns one immutable fact: there is nothing new under the sun.

The lists and layout of military gear from Caesar's legions to tomorrow have been, and will always be, remarkably similar, even as they differ in the particulars and details.

Don't take my word for it, the UK Telegraph did a remarkable piece covering British soldiers' kits from 1066 to 2016, spanning a paltry 950 years. They're similar because the basic unit of issue for all armies is one soldier, human type, bipedal. We all need the same things: water, food, shelter, clothing and armor for protection, and the tools to both survive afield and wage war on our perceived enemies. All that has changed across the span of millennia is the current technology available to us. And in some cases, it hasn't gotten all that far. There's no infantryman today who would be more poorly served by a Roman field spade from 40 B.C. than by a modern entrenching tool, and a canteen of water is still a canteen of water. And curiously, they have almost infallibly been right around 1 quart capacity in size.

But all that kit can be broken down into components, and summarized under the following categories.

0) Clothing: "So obvious it's before 'first-line' gear", i.e. underwear, shoes, boots, hat, and everthing in between, based on the climactic conditions where you are, and any needs for being anything from camouflaged to merely non-descript.

1) Survival load: "First-line gear", i.e. the stuff you should have on your person 24/7/365, even if your pants are around your ankles answering the call of nature.

2) Fighting load: "Second-line gear", i.e the things you need to move into battle and fight there.

3) Subsistence load: "Third-line gear", i.e. the things you carry on your back to feed, clothe, clean, and shelter yourself, and sleep in far from the creature comforts of normal civilization.

4) Administrative load: "Fourth-line gear", i.e. the things packed, on animals,vehicles, etc. that are nice to have, while not absolutely essential, or to extend the abilities of you beyond levels one through three.

5) Mission-specific load, the things you may need once, but not every day, nor all the time, in order do a given thing.

6) Everything else. Ranging from "this is cool" stuff to the "Gucci gear whore Hall Of Fame" to all the crap you own, and the place you keep it.

A cache (it's pronounced "cash" like "cash money", not "cashay", ever. People who say "cashay" are the same level of illiterate halfwit f**ktards as people who talk about "nucular weapons". You've been put on notice.) may (and should) contain gear from any of the above levels, so is not strictly assigned to any one of them.

What belongs in each of them, for you?

No, not these:

I mean, it depends on what you're doing, or envision having to do.
In short, you have to use your head, as well as your back, to select and carry the stuff required, because that changes, and will do so, all the time.

We'll cover First-line gear in a few days, when we get to Survival.
Second line gear can be summarized:

1) Primary weapon.
This may be a modern carbine or fighting rifle. It may be only your CCW piece. Depending on where you live, your CCW piece may be nothing more than OC spray, a bright flashlight, and a Swiss Army Knife/multitool. Think about it, and give due regard to where you may be and what you're doing; don't assume.

2) Carrying apparatus for everything else.
A sturdy belt and multiple pockets, all the way to a full MOLLE vest, etc.
It has to accommodate everything.

3) Water. And food.
The more the merrier. The lunch you're carrying (or, not) may be the only meal you get today.

4) First aid supplies.
May be just a TQ and an IBD. May even just be band aids, tape, a handkerchief, and some Tylenol/Motrin. Should always include any personal/Rx meds, like epi-pens, asthma inhalers, etc. (Duh!) That's for you to figure out. Just remember, in tough times, I'm probably only using what you brought, on you. So, how much are you worth, to yourself?

5) Resupply/logistics for #1, above.
Bullets, maybe. Cleaning kit, as appropriate. Maybe just another OC can, spare batteries for the bright blinding defense light, and a sharpener for your pocketknife/multitool. Work it out.

6) Any other handy weapons or tools you need all the time, at minimum.

If you want to get an idea of how much we're talking about, turn to page 74, i.e page 3-1, Table 3-2, of  FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017, and note that for the average soldier in the Army right now, the notional typical fighting load is nearly 70 pounds, and even without the protective vest and SAPI plates, it runs over 56 pounds, before they even put on a pack.
(See if you can cleverly deduce thereby why this is not a game for the weak, the infirm, the elderly, nor women of any kind. But I digress.)

We're going to stop here. If we've just weeded you out, because you can't hack the next steps, you have two choices: either suck it up, PT harder, and get rid of the 50 pound midsection you're already carrying, so you can carry a fighting load;
start reading up on John Mosby's (see column right) lessons on the Auxiliary and the Underground, because that's where you've just been de-selected to for any form of productive service.

Cooks and radio operators are every bit as vital in tough times as trigger-pullers, probably more so, frankly, and there's no shame in undertaking those functions. You should still be the fittest gorram cook or radio operator ever seen, unless you're physically incapable, or else you're still a fat douchebag for not even trying.

And you might still follow along, because to do even those jobs, it will help greatly for you to understand the needs of those doing what you cannot. Without you, they won't be doing much either.