Monday, February 15, 2016

Military Organization For Dummies - Pt. 6

This briefing is to cover the other stray cats and dogs that any staff will need to account for.
You can slavishly follow the relevant Army FMs, of whatever era, or not.
But you will have to take care of these functions, whatever or however you assign them.

This covers any and all forms of communications, from carrier pigeon to encrypted transmissions.  You will need Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for any and every aspect of establishing and operating a communications net. It will need to be redundant, resilient, and clandestine, and best if it doesn't make you a pirate from the outset. They're going to have to walk a fine line to stay inside the lines, and still outside someone else's radar. SMEs will make you or break you on this.
IT types may be included in this section, or made its own little universe.

You're going to need standardization, training, and the whole gamut from what should go in an individual first aid kit (IFAK) all the way to field hospital systems, and everything in between. Medical operations may/will encompass preventative care, public health, sanitation, illness and injury prevention, as well as medical treatment, trauma, surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation.

Or, you can just shoot your wounded.
If you pick "B", don't wonder why no one wants to join your merry band of adventurers.

Somebody better know how to build a bunker. Or an underground cache. Or fortify a position. And how to harden a safe house. Or dig a well. Set up off-grid power generation. Or build a school. Or a hospital. Or an underground manufacturing facility. And string electricity to it, and run plumbing.
You get the idea. So get the engineer(s) to support that.

I don't care if your group is the Madeline Murray O'Harebrain chapter of Atheists For Freedom, you better have a chaplain. The morale, guidance, and comfort aspects of their everyday mission cannot be overestimated, and there are only 4K double-blind studies to back up the importance of the spiritual component to every undertaking. Weddings, funerals, and a number of other functions are going to need someone wired to connect with people on that level. I'm NOT telling you to set up a theocracy; I'm telling you you'd better consider the spiritual component of every human being, and plan accordingly to meet those needs. And your group needs a conscience, and an expression of it.
Think about it: Even Robin Hood's merry band had Friar Tuck. There's a precedent for this stuff.

You don't have the ability to print limitless amounts of fiat currency to bankroll your undertakings. So you'd better consider how you will, and have people that can honestly and transparently bring money in, safeguard it, and disburse it where and when needed to meet the needs of your organization. I don't care if you hold bake sales, but if you're planning on robbing banks, my lawyer says I don't know you.

{Aside: A hot tip might be to think about what could be accomplished if a like-minded group set up a legitimate business, and agreed to dedicate all profits to something a bit more, shall we say...liberty-minded.
If it were a business with direct applications to other missions aspects, well, what a coincidence.
Suppose, just for one example, you had a doctor, a couple of nurses, a PA, and a couple of paramedics, EMTs, etc., who ran an urgent care or clinic, and were all "in on the deal".
What could the profits from that business do for a given group?
How hard would it be to slip in a wounded comrade for some off-the-books care and treatment, if necessary?
How about acquiring medical supplies for other uses?
What if they also rotated people through on internships and acted as your cadre trainers for medical arts?
And then opened up another such facility in a nearby place for another group?
Getting the picture?
Now imagine if you did the same thing with a ham radio store.
Or a hardware and building supply business.
Or a general retail business.
Military surplus store. Gas station/Propane delivery co. Construction company. Taxi service. Ambulance company. Pharmacy. Mortuary.
What if you had a delivery service, that could go anywhere and gather information all over?
Or a garbage pick-up company, same tasking?
Suppose you had enough money lingering around that you could think about opening an actual legitimate bank?
I can think of literally dozens of legitimate business concerns that you could leverage into both supplying your organization - at wholesale prices - and/or providing training and service options, while maintaining actual workday employment for members (potentially making them better doing the same sorts of things for your group), while making a profit in the local economy, and funneling the proceeds into bootstrapping the liberty efforts in your area.

It is no coincidence that the founding fathers and Sons of Liberty were some of the cash-fattest fat cats of the American colonies in the 1770s. Freedom isn't free, and revolutions don't fund themselves.
Start thinking about it, and then start doing something about that. That's exactly the sort of thing your finance section is going to have to get a handle on. Spin the wheels in your head, and see what you can come up with.}

Or, if you prefer, Propaganda.
Along with a PIO to handle media contacts, you're going to need, want, and damn well better establish, someone to brainstorm and produce everything from Twitter, Book of Face, and other social media fodder, all the way to slick podcast and video productions, as well as graphic arts like posters, handouts, flyers, brochures and pamphlets. You want to be able to get messages out on every level, ASAP, and have a media campaign at least as well-thought-out as any military one.
Start with someone who can make a flyer or put out a tweet; work up to someone who's able to run a successful cable television network.
Or else, get used to getting your ass handed to you in the court of public opinion.

And any number of other things we haven't covered, or which will and do become apparent five seconds after you realize "WTF were we thinking to not have someone in charge of X?"
There is no limit to what you can have or set up. The limit is on what you can't do if you don't set something up.
Not everything has to be a full staff function, but if something is important, and no one is responsible for implementing it, and accountable for failing to do so, then no one will do it, and it won't happen. Or, it'll be so FUBAR'ed you'll be so far from f**ked you won't even be able to see it in the rear-view mirror.
Your circus, your monkeys. Employ them to best serve the needs of your organization.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Military Organization For Dummies - Pt. 5

This is your S-5 briefing.

S-5 is sort of a catch all: Civil Military Affairs.
(And yes, for the hyper-astute, Big Green has mucked around with everything above -4 recently. DILLIGAF? It hasn't changed for the Marines, and the function is what's important, not the newest numbers in this year's Doctrinal Flavor Of the Month.)

Part of it is used in peacetime to catch the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation aspects for friendly forces. As such, it encompasses the Chaplain, and usually at least one junior SLJO: the Shitty Little Jobs Officer, which is usually one of a number of brand new 2nd Lts. in a unit, who get handed the crappy box-checking functions no one with more serious slots has time for: voter registration, dependent housing, Equal Opportunity, Sexual Harassment, and a dozen other touchy-feely PC bullshit things that have nothing to do with military operations, but everything to do with taking care of military personnel and their dependents, and/or making the higher up panjandrums and their civilian overlords happy. Some of them really matter, and some of them are tits on a bull.

On deployments, it also encompasses everything that a given organization does that impacts the civilian population, and everything the civilians do that impacts the group's mission and operations.

In times past (say up to 1965 or so) military units did what they did, and largely regarded the civilian population as just another obstacle, or at best, a neutral entity.
But as insurgency and counterinsurgency became important, and even more so for an unofficial group in whatever scenario you envision, the S-5 functions are half the battle.

Half. The. Battle.

Below is the official breakdown, with all the jargon buzzword bingo letters explained.
Rather than try to cover this in shorthand, this is one section where you should see the entire breakdown from the horse's mouth, to see what all is involved.

Staff Responsibilities. S-5 responsibilities include:
  • Advising the commander on the effect of civilian populations on military operations.
  • Minimizing civilian interference with operations. This includes dislocated civilian operations, curfews, and movement restrictions.
  • Advising the commander on legal and moral obligations incurred from the long- and short-term effects (economic, environmental, and health) of military operations on civilian populations.
  • Advising the commander on employing military units that can perform CMO (Civil Military Operations) missions.
  • Operating a civil-military operations center to maintain liaison with other US governmental agencies, HN (Host Nation) civil and military authorities, and nongovernmental and international organizations in the AO (Area of Operations).
  • Coordinating with the Fire Support Coordination on protected targets.
  • Planning community relations programs to gain and maintain public understanding and goodwill, and to support military operations.
  • Coordinating with the SJA (Staff Judge Advocate - military lawyers) about advice to the commander on rules of engagement (ROE) when dealing with civilians in the AO.
  • Providing the S-2 information gained from civilians in the AO.
  • Coordinating with the PSYOP (Psychological Operations) officer on trends in public opinion.
  • Coordinating with the surgeon on the military use of civilian medical facilities, materials, and supplies.
  • Coordinating with the PAO (Public Affairs Officer), and PSYOP officer to ensure disseminated information is not contradictory.
  • Helping the S-1 coordinate for local labor resources.
  • Coordinating with the PAO on supervising public information media under civil control.
  • Providing instruction to units, officials (friendly, HN civil, or HN military), and the population on identifying, planning, and implementing programs to support civilian populations and strengthen HN internal defense and development.
  • Providing technical advice and assistance in reorienting enemy defectors, EPWs (Enemy Prisoners of War), civilian internees, and detainees.
  • Participating in targeting meetings.
  • Coordinating with the PM (Provost Marshall - the head military cop overall in a given unit) to control civilian traffic in the AO.
  • Helping the S-4 coordinate facilities, supplies, and other materiel resources available from the civil sector to support operations.
  • Coordinating with the S-1 and SJA in establishing off-limits areas and establishments.
  • Coordinating civilian (legal) claims against the command/higher authority with the SJA.
Some of those things will apply right away for a given group or unit, some may eventually, and some never will. But you should use that non-exhaustive list to get a flavor for all the sorts of things that have to be considered, unless you want to be simply a bull in a china shop, and regarded by the locals in a given area as just another bunch of hooligan @$$holes with guns, dicks, and no brains.

It continues:

Staff Planning and Supervision.
The S-5 performs staff planning for and exercises staff supervision over:
  • Attached civil affairs units.
  • Military support to civil defense and civic action projects.
  • Protection of culturally significant sites.
  • Humanitarian civil assistance and disaster relief.
  • Noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO).
  • Emergency food, shelter, clothing, and fuel for local civilians.
  • Public order and safety as they apply to operations.
The function of the S-5 is to look at everything you're going to do, everything you're doing, and everything you might do, and see where and to what extent that will persuade, cheer, and motivate, or annoy, pester, and piss off, the people in the area(s) you're working in.

If you're thinking of a neighborhood protection team, these considerations apply.
If you're thinking of an underground resistance movement, these considerations apply.
If you're thinking of an insurgent military organization, these considerations apply.
If you're thinking of an eventual fully functional military structure, these considerations apply.

The total number of instances where these considerations don't apply (except perhaps for a family staying entirely self-contained on its own land, forever, without any outside interactions; and maybe not even then) is NONE.

Re-read that point, please.

Whether we're talking patriots in North America circa the 1770s, French Maquis in occupied territory in the 1940s, a VC guerrilla in the jungle, Al Queda or ISIS in the desert, or you and your tribe when the Zompocalypse hits, Mao got this right:
"The guerrilla (insurgent/patriot/liberator/whatever) is a fish that swims in the sea of the people."
They will feed you, join you, hide you, spy for you, cover for you, cheer for you -- OR NOT.
On an individual basis, "NOT" looks like Che in Bolivia.
If you want to have your head blown off, and get on a t-shirt posthumously, ignore the S-5/Civil Military Affairs considerations, and don't plan for them.

As one egregious example, some monstrously huge dumbfuck suggested in a comment stream sabotaging the inbound rail lines to a notional major city, as Some Great Idea.

Okay. Now the trains won't roll there. Well played.
So you've just insured that the people that grow or make the goods that formerly travelled there will be broke. They're now on the side of the people you were trying to harm. Strike One.
They may have been willing to supply you with food before, but now that they're broke, they've left the area. That's now a Two-fer.
Everybody who gets killed or injured will have family and friends; they're all now on the other side too. You're at a Hat Trick.
And the people at the end of the line, the ones you thought you could starve? Guess what: they don't just lay there and die off conveniently. They're coming looking for you, with a passion, because you took the food out of their kids' bellies. They'll hunt you down with a purpose, and stake you out across the rails when they find you, and wait for the next train to come by and see you to your reward. Congratulations on achieving the Grand Slam of Fail.

The same considerations apply with dumbassery like cutting power to an entire city, etc.

Instead of coming up with hare-brained (look it up sometime, and see how small a rabbit brain is, m'kay?) ideas like that, run them through the S-5 filter. You don't want to destroy the train tracks for everyone. But taking out a train loaded with the other side's troops would be splendid. Patricularly if you made sure to let bystanders know ahead of time that "you might want to take the next train".
And you don't want to dump the entire power grid. But taking out the transformers upstream from a HQ or internet data mining coordination center would be your own version of a smart bomb. Go with those, instead of being a not-so-smart bomb.

Seriously, real life here: how do you think average people stuck in traffic regarded the @$$holes in the Occupy! movement, when those fucktards blocked traffic headed home at rush hour? All they accomplished was thousands of people begging the cops to wade in and start cracking heads. Learn the lesson: childish, nihilistic orgies of Stupid will get you the same crowd of well-wishers hoping somebody gives you a PR-24 shampoo, or worse. And when they get the chance, they'll dime you out to the authorities, and the extra bag of goodies they get as a reward will just be a bonus for them.

It doesn't matter if you're the army of the World's Last Superpower, or you're just a small band of merry men with a purpose.
Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Malheur.
When the population is on your side, you might win, and you can't lose.
When they aren't, you can't win, and you'll probably lose.
Long before then, you personally will probably be dead. Or in prison.
Or learning to breathe between trips underwater, until the people who caught you have everything in your head. Think about all those craptastic terrorism provisions and all the ways domestic authorities can find to send you to Club Gitmo, without any mention of due process once they invoke the magic "T" word. So, maybe you want to leverage some odds in your favor just a wee bit.

Let a well-run S-5 section keep you from screwing yourself, and see if you can win some hearts and minds. At any rate, enough of them to keep you in business.

Any group needs someone to think about the secondary consequences, and the tertiary consequences, and the consequences to those consequences, to everything that is done, for all the various bystanders - both close, and far away just watching vicariously. And to avoid collateral damage, to those you'd like to persuade, or at least persuade not to hate your guts, and whenever possible, to minimize and mitigate damage and injury to them. Just like you'd want done if it was your family affected, right?

Watch the café scene near the end of The Great Escape:

(James Coburn has successfully bicycled across Germany and France, and finds himself sitting at a table at an outdoor café. Some German officers are sitting nearby. The café phone rings, the waiter answers, and comes over to Coburn, and tells him the phone call is for him. Surprised, he plays along, they all go back to the bar, and they all duck behind the bar just as a car full of Resistance guys zips up and hoses the Nazis down with a machinegun, then speeds away.)
Sweeeeeet! So...who made the phone call?
The 1944 version of Maquis S-5, of course. That is how you want to roll, right? Right.

Otherwise, you're just another g--d--ned bomb-throwing anarchist, and nobody mourns them when they end up strung up from the nearest tall object, or get thrown in a hole so deep they pump air and light into it from out here in the free world.

So as usual, Don't Be That Guy.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 6

At Best, Criminal, At Worst, Treason - By The Numbers

h/t to WRSA for this one.

Widest possible dissemination for this, from a retired Army Intelligence Officer, on the magnitude of the security breach Shrillary perpetrated in deliberately putting SAP information onto an unsecure private server.

If it is true that Hillary Clinton had SAP information on her unsecure server, whether it was marked or not, you can be sure that the FBI will strongly recommend that charges be brought against Hillary Clinton and continue in an exhaustive investigation to trace back to every single person that had even the tiniest role in this unbelievable security compromise.
If the Attorney General, through “prosecutorial discretion,” elected not to prosecute this crime, I believe congress would have no alternative but to impeach her, and the FBI would then have no choice but to conduct a criminal investigation of her for a deliberate cover up – so grave is this security violation.
If President Obama were to pardon Hillary Clinton for a compromise of this magnitude he would render himself in the historical record as an “enemy of the state,” and could himself face criminal prosecution – so grave is such a security compromise. Nobody, not even the POTUS could gets away with something like this in our system of government.
Read The Whole Thing.

Consequences, bitch. I hope you see them. Bill's probably ready for some alone time by now, anyways.

The Honorable Associate Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia - RIP

Word comes today that Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the lion of conservatism and strict constitutionalism on the Supreme Court, died today on a hunting trip in Texas.
When you see the flags half-masted this time, know that it's for a man among men, and a brilliant legal mind and staunch defender of the Republic as intended by the Founding Fathers.
We have lost a giant today.

With respect to the question of replacing him on the court, if Bitch McConnell and the cacophonous collection of cronies dubiously identified as the Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate can't manage to stonewall any attempt by lame duck HopeyDopey to replace him before the change of office next January, the entire collection of them isn't worth a bucket of pig droppings.

Should they perform their usual senatorial maneuver these last few years, and present the President with their offered hindquarters, pants helpfully already around their ankles, their reward in a just world would be to subsequently find their heads on the end of pike poles, and separated from their bodies by some yards of distance.

This is also the reason the utter idiots agitating for Trump have to be finally and decisively shown the door. This and the prospect of 1-3 additional SCOTUS appointments over the next 4-8 years is why electing a president is too important a task, among many such, to be left to a bunch of chattering @$$clowns.

Military Organization For Dummies - Pt. 4

This will cover the function of the S-4 section.
It is the logistics section.
And yes, amateurs talk about tactics, and professionals talk about logistics.

It's a simple job: Get everything you need. Then get everyone, and everything they need, from point A, where it is now, to Point B, where you need it to be.
Every day.

As Bill Roberts noted in a post on WRSA, the military breaks that "everything" down into ten classes of supply:

Class I – Food, rations, and water
Class II – Clothing
Class III – Petroleum, oils, and lubricants
Class IV – Fortification and barrier materials
Class V – Ammunition
Class VI – Personal Items
Class VII – Major End Items (computers, cars, etc.)
Class VIII – Medical supplies
Class IX – Repair Parts
Class X – Miscellaneous supplies

Everything falls into one of the above categories.
All the S-4 section has to do, is make sure they have all of everything required.
And sufficient means of moving it, and the unit, from where it is, to where the leadership wants/needs it.

Whether that means a train of semi-trailers, a camel caravan, or by pushing heavily-laden bicycles down a narrow trail, that's what they have to acquire, and organize.

Your S-4 is WalMart, Target, Home  Depot, Costco, FedEx and UPS, all rolled into one.
Everybody may contribute to what they do, but at least one person has to be in charge of accumulating the stuff, accounting for it, and moving it.

What made Lexington and Concord a victory wasn't the operation of harassing the British troops all the way back to Boston, fun and cheerful though that aspect was; it was the twin coups of superior intelligence from their version of an S-2, and the superior logistical expertise of their version of the S-4 in moving all their muskets, cannon, shot, and powder out and away from where the British could get their hands on it, with bare notice of their imminent arrival. That success enabled them to later challenge the British for over a year, until the other 12 colonies decided to get aboard the revolution bus.

D-Day wasn't nearly so much about getting 100,000 men ashore at Normandy (brutally and primally brave though that was on Omaha Beach), it was about being able to get enough bullets, bandaids, beans, and all the other seven classes of supply ashore, day in and day out, to enable them to amass the wherewithal to break out and sweep across France a month later.

Napoleon sagely observed that "An army marches on its stomach."
Or as it was put on more than a few military S-4 shops and motor pool signs, "You may be the pride of the division, but without us, the pride don't ride." Or eat, or shoot, or anything.
What's in a person's pack will get them through a day, maybe three. But not 2 weeks.
You have to have a handle on what you're going to need, first for bare subsistence, and second, to be able to conduct any sort of training or operations. Or else, like Japanese soldiery on a bypassed island, you're just going to wither and die out in nowhere, for nothing.

The logistics section is what keeps that from happening.
Or, not.
Your choice.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5
Part 6

Friday, February 12, 2016

Military Organization For Dummies - Pt. 3

Today's lesson covers the function of the S-3 section.

The S-3 has a dual role: Training, and Operations. Why is elegant in its simplicity:
So that you have trained people to conduct operations, and so that the training is adequate to enable same.

If your training and operations were separated, your training might be worthless, on the day. But because the people ostensibly planning the operations also devise the training, the people they get can hopefully find their back end without both hands, a mirror, and an anatomical chart.

And if you ain't done no training, you ain't doing no operations. Period.
Think you don't need no stinkin' training? Suture self.

So your S-3 person(s) should be in an endless loop. They should figure out, with the input of the leadership, what operations every swinging Richard should be capable of undertaking. Then they plan backwards, and figure out all the essential individual and group tasks that will or might be needed. Then they make sure that everyone knows how to do all the things on those lists, first individually, then as part of larger and larger groups, until you've got a functional group. Crawl, walk, run, over and over until you get it right.
Then because of human memory, personnel turnover, etc., do it all again.

Remember, Rangers, SF, SEALs, etc. aren't better at stuff because they have secret knowledge; by and large, they're better because they've completely mastered the fundamentals to the point of near-flawless execution.
You can too, if you choose to do so.

Under the heading of not re-inventing the wheel, this is the sort of thing John Mosby covered back in 2013 on his mountainguerrilla website:

Planning Group Training: Mission Essential Task List

That would be an excellent place to start, for a group.
He also took a more comprehensive whack at it even earlier, down to the individual task list:

Individual And Collective Task Training

(So, as a side note, JM had this stuff pounded into him in SF, then spent some period of time helping to teach it long before he blogged it. I'm pointing you to it 3 1/2 years after reading it there, and after going over this stuff both on paper and in person going back considerably longer than that. Let's not be baby ducks: this stuff isn't new, and if, through no fault of your own, it's new to you, dig into it, and master it, for your own good. M'kay? Then get your group(s) up to speed on it as well.)

I would further suggest breaking it down to individual tasks. Then work out a schedule: weekly, monthly, and annual. Whether it's just you, or your handful of guys, or a whole group, figure out how often you're willing to work on stuff. Then do it! Then next time, do the next task. Once or twice a year, see who knows what, and test them on it. Until everybody can do everything, to the standard of mastery.

Want to cross-pollinate a bit? Find out if anyone in your group is better qualified to present and teach one skill, then have them do exactly that. Take turns teaching each other. Do that in a small group, and you now have your instructors for the new people who come along. Got a gaping hole in the skill set with no expert(s)? Now you know what to recruit for, or where to spend more time learning until you have one. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Nota bene that four guys teach twelve guys, twelve guys teach forty guys, forty guys teach a hundred guys, a hundred guys teach as many as you need.. Which is a fire team - squad - platoon - company progression. And also exactly the way - and exact ratio - Jesus mentored his followers. And I bet you didn't even know he was a tactical guerrilla genius, did you?

And for those for whom inability, disability, or the march of time precludes training in some of the warrior skills, cheer up: somebody has to do those staff functions we've already laid out, including this one, and the ones yet to come. Another real world hint: In Israel, the IDF doesn't allow women in combat roles, but women do serve. And for many of them, they make them the instructors. Because using biology means, lo and behold, a bunch of guys pay more attention when the instructor is a woman. And the male trainees try to outdo each other to show off. So biology is leveraged into better-trained people, and they don't waste staff and training cadre jobs by putting able-bodied (male) warriors into them. You could do worse than to emulate that model.

Whatever your group needs to do, it needs to train to do. Practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. And you have to put together an S-3 functional entity to do that training, whether it's one guy or several. Then what?

Their other job is to take that trained up entity, and figure out where it needs to be employed, and how best to go about it. In an actual battalion, the S-3 officer is almost without exception the third most senior person in line to command it, after the CO and XO. Because that person knows the group and its abilities the best, they are the best ones to pick up the job if actual operations create a vacancy at the head.

In the meantime, the job of the S-3 is to direct training and operations to fulfill leadership goals, and also to have any contingencies available or in mind for most possible new goals. Their job is to think things through several steps ahead, and be ready to shift to the next mission seamlessly regardless of outcome of the current one, while making sure everybody is properly ready to perform as needed beforehand, which requires that they know what is desired by leadership, and so can anticipate future eventualities

Their job isn't to plan the first move, and then the next one; it's to plan the last move, and then work backwards for every move from there to the start. This is chess, not checkers or tic tac toe.Then make sure everything required has already been done to make the plan successful.

Which beats the hell out of showing up and just hoping everything works.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Military Organization For Dummies - Pt. 2

In today's briefing, we'll cover the S-2 section.

Oxymoronic jokes aside, the -2 shop's job is everything related to Intelligence.
Not measuring it, in an IQ sense. Rather, collecting it in a military sense.

Who are the potential enemies?
How big are they?
Where are they located?
What are their training, tactics, and procedures?
That, and anything else is the job of your S-2.
Same for friendly groups.
And for neutral groups.

Need a map or ten of a given area?
What's the weather like there next month?
When's sunrise? Moonrise? High tide? What's average temperature and rainfall?
How about three months from now?

Where are the major roads? What about the smallest trails?
Can the bridges handle heavy trucks? What's the height of the lowest overpass?
Is there water access?
Nearest airports?
How many planes there?
Any military there?
Pretty much everything DHS doesn't want you taking pictures of.

Locations of everything:
Government buildings.
Which agencies are there. How many people.
What stuff do they have.
State, county, and city facilities.
Police, fire, ambulance services, hospitals, clinics.
Bad neighborhoods.
Power plants.
Rail depots.
Distribution warehouses.
Schools from K-PhD.
Any place big enough to land a helicopter.
Any place where you can only get there on foot.

Military facilities, from ARNG to active, all the services, army, navy, marines, air force, coast guard.

Utilities: power, water, gas, phone, cell towers, relay sites, TV and radio stations, newspapers.
Any important resources, whether for weapons, ammunition, gasoline, medical supplies, clothing, food, water, etc.

The economy.
Major employers.
Political/religious/other important groups and factions.
Criminal activity.
And on and on, to the level of minutiae.

Including language(s) spoken, in other places, and jargon, even here at home.

If there's anything you might want to know, ever, your S-2 should already know it. Or be working on getting it. Ideally, from people or sources inside. Firsthand news is usually the most reliable.

For a hint on a national scale assessment, take a look at the CIA World Factbook.
If you have access to a decent library, find any old unclassified US Mil Country Study, on anywhere. Or go read them online: US Country Studies.

Forget about the info, look at the categories of info.
Then apply the same level of rigor to your own state, then to your own county and nearest city or town.

Everything you see, hear, know, or find out can go into your own version. Get as many sources as you can, because "none of us are smarter than all of us". And all of that is just raw intelligence.

And if you thought gathering the raw intel was a monstrous job, now your S-2 has to analyze it, and turn it into usable products for your group and its leadership.
What does X plus Y times Z mean?

And what else should the S-2 be doing? Counter Intelligence: Keeping the people on your potential enemy list from finding out anything about you besides Jack, and Sh*t.
Vetting the people the S-1 recruits. Again and again, and over time. Enemies never do as much damage to you as "friends" do from the inside. The Walker ring, Bradley Manning, etc. should ring some bells out there.
The S-2 keeps the stuff you gather safe, encrypted, and as near to uncrackable and unnoticeable as possible. Their job is to find out what the Other Side is doing, and make sure no one knows what You are.

Codes and ciphers.
HUMINT: people who tell you stuff
SIGINT: what you can get from the airwaves
OSINT: what you can find out from open sources
And about a dozen other acronyms.

Maps, photos, satellite pics, books, magazines, video, etc.
And yes, GoogleEarth is your friend now, but you'd better have hard copy and new means in case the net goes away.
Got still cameras?
Video cams?
Audio recorders for radio traffic?
Thumb drives and hard drives to store it all?
Hard paper copies of everything?
You might start to get that this is going to get big, in a hurry. You'll want a few trusted friends helping to do this, not just one guy, if you can help it.

They should also be running anyone tasked with gathering intelligence, whether it's folks taking pictures and counting cars, or guys sitting on a site in the weeds, or someone inside who works there.

Yeah, exactly what people in the trade call "spook stuff".

So somebody better know about espionage and tradecraft, and know how to disseminate it to everyone who needs it.
This is all the job of the S-2.
Some fun recent resources:

100 Deadly Skills
Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life

For those who find two whole books TL;DR, let me boil it down for you from both books:
Stay situationally aware, always, everywhere.
That's everyone's job, unless they're lunchmeat.

But the people doing the S-2 function, for you, should be the unquestioned subject-matter-experts, able to make sure that your group doesn't get caught with its pants down.
Because doing that metaphorically, leads to that situation in reality.

Just ask the Bundys.

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6


Avoiding the Angel Of Death

Many of you, at some point, have had some decent first aid or first responder training. Your instructor probably went to some pains to impress on you that, like the alphabet, medical response begins with the ABCs.

I'm sorry, but you were lied to.

In a distant blog post, I shared a story about one of my first instructors. Let me illustrate what I just said about being lied to by telling you about one of that instructor's minions: Sam. Sam was very quiet man, who spent most of our lectures sitting quietly in the back. Like a vulture, as it turned out. Our lead instructor introduced him early on as "The Angel Of Death," but he told us not to ask why, since we'd find out soon enough. And how.

During a break between segments one night early on, the 30 or so of us students were having coffee and junk food. Sam approached one of the students, led him aside, spoke to him briefly, and took him down the hall. Sam came back shortly afterwards, and picked out two more students. They left too. Our supposed 10 minute break stretched out, and our numbers dwindled. No one was really noticing this at first; I was perhaps the 12th one picked.

"COME WITH ME.*" I followed Sam down the hall, around a corridor, and we stopped about 10 feet from the building’s supply/copy room. We hadn't been taught much, so I had no idea what he expected me to do. We hadn't even gotten to first aid kits.

"THIS IS A PRACTICAL QUIZ – YOU’RE ON," said Sam. I walked up to the door, and laid out on the floor before me were the first 11 people Sam had led off. They were laying on the floor, close together. I looked around. Do I see anything unusual" I asked. "WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU’VE GOT." said Sam. I knew there was a trick, but I couldn't see the trap. I looked up, down, left, right. It was just a normal copy room. Finally, conscious of time ticking away, I reached down to check a pulse on the nearest "victim."

As my fingertips made contact with his wrist, Sam said, "YOU’RE DEAD. LAY DOWN ON THE FLOOR NEXT TO THE PERSON YOU’RE TOUCHING." 10 other casualties and the original victim softly convulsed in shared snickers. I obligingly lay down and played dead.

Well, our 10-minute break stretched into 30 minutes or more. By which time, the daisy chain of "dead" students extended across the copy room, out the door, and halfway down the hall. And my experience repeated itself over and over.

As Sam "killed" the last student, he had us all get up. By this point, the other half-dozen instructors and assistants were standing at the end of the hall. "How'd it go?" they asked. "GOT ‘EM ALL." said Sam. A class of 30 bright, serious people wiped out in almost as many minutes.

Sam then explained to us that the first "victim" had theoretically touched the copier, which had an electrical short, and been electrocuted. And was still in contact with it. As each and every one of us walked up, and completed the circuit, we added to the body count. We, of course, felt stupid. We also learned a valuable lesson without actually "dying." One which we'd actually been taught in the second lecture on the very first night, which hadn't (obviously!) penetrated very well.

The first step in rendering medical assistance isn't A for airway, or B for breathing, or C for circulation. It's S.

For safety. Yours most especially.

Go to the Darwin Awards website, and you can read story after tragic story of someone who died from stupidity, because he didn't proceed safely. 5 people who climbed down a well to rescue a chicken -- 5 drowned, chicken recovering nicely. Man who couldn't swim, jumped into river to save person floating by, both drowned. And so on. Just like us in that copier room, except we could still laugh about it.

A nurse I know got in a fender-bender, and her car stopped against the center divider. Ricky Rescue, First Class EMT driving the other way, saw the accident, parked his car on the other side of the freeway, and ran across six lanes of racing freeway traffic. "Hi! I'm an EMT, can I help?"

The nurse, in pain from injuries, saw his approach, and said through clenched teeth "NO! Anybody so stupid they'd run through traffic is TOO DUMB to lay a hand on me! Stay away!" and she rolled up her window to wait for paramedics. I find it impossible to argue with that logic.

The most important thing to do in an emergency is make sure of safety: yours, the victim's, that of others. You don't want to simply add to the number of victims by becoming one stupidly. And if you did, who's going to then take care of you?

If somebody fell off a cliff, make sure the edge isn't taking you next. When a guy is stabbed or shot, how about making sure the person who did it isn't still hanging about? Don't touch the car crashed into the utility pole with those sparking wires nearby until you're sure it's safe. Don't flip the lights on to check for somebody in that room that smells like...natural gas. And so on.

If you're in a more sporty environment, the maxims of TCCC apply: if bullets are flying, the first step is to take cover and return fire.

But even if you're in a medical facility, whether an actual one, or an ad hoc casualty collection point, for whatever reason, the Safety "S" is still first. I've related other times how under first-world medical conditions, with the best care available, I've had patients arrive covered in feces up to their sternums, crawling with maggots, or contaminated with unknown chemical agents. So your first step, always, is safety. Put on your gloves. Maybe goggles or a face shield. Maybe even a barrier gown. And perhaps, sometimes, even a Level A fully- encapsulating chem/bio/radiological protective suit. It's funny until it isn't.

Fools rush in where angels (well, except for that one) fear to tread. Don't be a fool.

Sam isn't out there waiting for you. But the real Angel Of Death always has room on the bus for one more rider.

*(In hindsight, I realized Sam should speak, just like Death in Terry Pratchett’s hilarious novels, always in capital letters. So his dialog has been changed to thusly comply.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Just In Time: or, Why Barnes & Noble Wants You Dead

This is an aside. I'll have something more on topic up later on.
But in visiting the 5 nearest huge book warehouse stores hereabouts, I was hoping to find some common reference work on first aid or medical topics.

The reality was not just no, but Hell to the F*cking No!
They don't carry that.

You can find out how to ace every exam for every healthcare occupation, from slinging bedpans to doing surgery. Even for non-English speakers.
But if you came into the store hoping to find a book covering basic first aid, you'd bleed to death, or die of old age before you found one.

Personally, I'm not worried; I have 80 feet of bookshelves at last glance, and the damned things keep mating and multiplying when my back's turned, occupying every flat surface like Tribbles from an episode of Star Trek.
But if you, being reasonably intelligent, and wanting to prepare, trotted on down to the single largest retailer of printed materials hereabouts, you'd be S.O.L.

I'm sure some drone will pipe up about how they have everything online. That's nice, really it is. But so does Amazon. And I wanted the book now, not a week from Thursday, if the UPS guy doesn't leave it on the porch and it gets stolen before I get home. And all that "just-in-time" bullsh*t won't do any good if there's any one of a dozen natural catastrophes. As opposed to walking up to the store, handing them cash, and walking away with a book, which would.

Considering that locally, an average year within swing-a-dead-cat range could include brushfires, mudslides, earthquakes, floods, riots, shootings, stabbings, multi-car pile-ups, train derailments, and so on, ad infinitum, not having so much as one raggedy-ass copy of any first aid handbook ever penned strikes me as a pretty short-sighted and incredibly jackassical thing for Barnes & Noble.

No one, anywhere, has ever rushed into a store and said "Quick! It's an emergency! I need a copy of Noam Chomsky's latest screed!" Or "Get me an adult coloring book, right away!" And yet they have a shelf full of each of those.
But not one single solitary copy of anything that would help you in a medical emergency, unless you bought a newspaper or magazine, and rolled it into a splint. Of course, you'd need some handbook to tell you about that unless you're already trained, wouldn't you?

So much for finding anything useful there: get your references, medical and any other kind, in dead tree form, and do it right away. No one will have it when you need it if you don't.


Military Organization For Dummies - Pt. 1

(Somebody was asking about this info recently...-A.) 


Pay attention please, you'll see this material again.

For any group larger than one person, the above breakdown is how any notional battalion (about 500 guys, since you asked) gets what it needs done. For reference, a Special Forces Operational Detachment A-team was originally conceived to be essentially the staff for any given guerrilla band of merry men (and women) when operating in an unconventional warfare role.
The same thing is done on a smaller scale at company (about 100 or so guys) level, and even the platoon (20-40 guys) level. And an ODA divvys up the functions amongst 12 guys. (And among 6, in a pinch.) Because it works, and everything that needs doing gets done, because somebody is answerable for getting it done, and knowing how that's coming along.

So, who cares?

Anybody that's thinking of setting up, running, organizing, or participating in anything larger than a nuclear-family survival group should, at a minimum.

So let's get started with it.

The S-1 Section:

When you hear somebody speaking militarese jargon S-1 (G-1 for divisions  - 10-15K guys - and bigger units) is personnel: they are the people responsible for everything to do with your people. Who they are, how many of them, their training, records, status, etc.

The takeaway for any group, small or large, is that this person/group would be responsible for recruiting people, knowing what jobs/functions each person could do, their medical status and conditions, and anything like that.

This is also the shop that takes care of all individual and unit records, mail and pay distribution, awards and decorations, legal problems, official correspondence, and a whole host of crap, most of which you won't deal with. But some of which you might. It's probably handier all around if any of those things, if they crop up, be handled by this person/group. If you have/need a lawyer, this section should be dealing with that.

The point is simply so that the people in charge and other staff members
a) know who to ask about the specifics of how many people they have, what jobs/functions they are filling, how well they can do them, how many they are short, etc.
b) don't have to deal with a metric f**kton of paperwork that always pops up in any group, sooner or later.

Whether you call them Human Resources, as in business, or the S-1, this section is going to recruit people, put them in jobs, keep track of them, and deal with anything that might come up related to people, paperwork, finances, etc.: leases, vouchers, purchase orders, funds, expenditures, property and tax information, legal correspondence, etc. ad infinitum.

In an actual larger group, they're the ones that make sure everyone in Group A gets the same word as Group B and Group C.
They also manage publications, which for an informal group would make them responsible for the group reference library, and information on everything you do.

The section leader is traditionally the Adjutant, by whose direction all the commander/leadership's policies and procedures are disseminated, and people assigned to the next lower level of group/unit.

If you were, for example, going to participate in something not as fusterclucked as the Malheur shenanigans, the S-1 should be the person who knows who you're bringing, how many there are, maintains a roster of them all, including pertinent personal information on them, and how many of them are present for whatever on any given day, including which shifts they're on, who's responsible for them, and any duty rosters of essential tasks.

Professionalism is an attitude, not a paycheck, and people who don't want to half-ass what they're doing, whether it's a small group's retreat, an actual peaceful protest (say, bussing to the state capitol to raise some hell with your public servants), or a group going, e.g. to patrol a ranch along an international border, would have someone designated to keep tabs on every swinging Richard at all times, and know where they were and who they were.

As membership names and information are sensitive, they'd have it secured, both in physical terms, and in cyber terms, and it'd be bomb-proof, both metaphorically, and literally. And yet they'd be able to pull it out at a moment's notice, for planning and administrative purposes. Or make it disappear forever, should that prove necessary.

Hopefully you can begin to understand why this is a lot more important than just shuffling papers.

After we hit the highlights of the various sections, we can also talk about how different sections co-ordinate among themselves to get things done.
As you may have deduced from the clever title and the opening graphic (which embiggens), we'll be hitting this topic quite a number of times.

Feel free to refer to any number of references on this stuff , from Army Field Manuals down to even Wikipedia. The more times you see the material, the easier it'll be to keep it in mind, especially if you didn't have to deal with it for 2-30 years as a cammie-clad guest of your Uncle Sugar.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


 (Daily Mail UK)VIENNA - A 10-year-old boy was so brutally raped by an Iraqi migrant in a swimming pool cubicle that he had to be hospitalised for his injuries.

A lifeguard immediately called an ambulance after the boy went to him in floods of tears, while the Iraqi was entertaining himself by repeatedly jumping off the three-metre diving board.

Police arrested him on the spot at the pool in Vienna, and during an interrogation, he told them that it was a 'sexual emergency' as he had not had sex in four months.

Point of Grammatical Order: the boy was not merely raped.

He was merkeled.  

Because Vidkun Quisling shouldn't be the only Youreapeon politician grammatically accorded Rockstar of Infamy status for eternity.

Dirty = Infected = Dead

Reading, in my spare time, Florence Nightengale's Notes On Hospitals, what becomes rapidly apparent, in a tome from when Pasteur's germ theory was still largely theory, was that even then, anyone (like Florence) who spent 5 seconds looking at the problem noticed that building medical facilities that were third-world dirty and rampant with lice, flies, rats, shit, etc. was a passport to 50% mortality levels. Which she published, to rave reviews, after having reformed British Army hospitals and cutting casualties  to less than 10%, which is pretty amazing given the primitive level of even the most advanced mid-19th century medical treatment, let alone for field hospitals in a wartime army.
Clara Barton did the same thing over here a few years later during the Civil War, with similar results. (It's also significant that neither the British nor American military supervision had either the wit nor wisdom to figure this out their ownselves, despite having actual degreed and medical-school trained professional doctors to figure it out. Nightengale was a nurse when the only requirement to become one was to put on an apron and do it - no schools, no diplomas, no nothing. Medical education from 20-30 years prior was obviously nothing to write home about, and the bureaucratic mentality - or rather, its lack of any - has been unchanged for six millennia, since before Pharoah's time and back to Hammurabi, probably.)

So, besides the historical note, so what?

In anything from a nasty regional disaster, to major societal upheaval, you're going to be in similar circumstances in a hurry. And the lesson at the individual level is exactly the same:
You can't provide care for anyone that's worthy of the name, if you're working up to your elbows in filth.

So, some notes for you, at any level.
1. Wash your hands. Always. Frequently. Compulsively.
2. Expose and clean the patient.
3. Clean everything, on, over, under, and around the patient, with religious fervor.
4. Before and after EVERY patient.
5. Then do it all again.
6. Literally, lather, rinse, repeat.

Now, some details.

Soap and water are your friend. And warm to hot water are way more fun to wash in than cold water. You lather and wash for the same length of time the "Happy Birthday Song" takes, then rinse, getting all the nooks and crannies around fingernails, and you're as clean as you need to be for 95% of medical work. (Surgery standard requires repeating with povidone iodine scrub and finger brushes, then rinsing that too, before gloving in sterile gloves, gown, cap, and mask. Just saying. Surgical Scrub 101 for med students YouTube video)

Alcohol is for sterilizing instruments, not wounds. Write that on your hands in indelible ink, and don't wash it off. Alcohol, given 15 minutes to work, will kill the cooties on most everything. Provided you've first scrubbed the thicker accumulations of yuck off of them.
It's also inflammable, kills healthy tissue, and burns like hellfire in open wounds. If you use it on your patient, EVER, you deserve to have them cock-punch you. And if you set them on fire, even accidentally, nobody will cut you any slack. Save the isopropyl alcohol for instrument baths, in a covered basin. Period. And remember the "inflammable" part.
Bearing this in mind, where wash water is scarce or unavailable, alcohol hand sanitizer gel is better than not washing up at all.

Hydrogen peroxide is for getting blood out of clothing, carpets, etc. Not for sterilizing anything. It works poorly for that. Need to get bloodstains out of your scrubs? Great stuff. Need to get bloodstains out of the carpeting before the cops arrive, after you hide the body? It'll do that. Sterilize a wound? No way in hell. It also burns like hell, it foams up and makes you think it's doing something, but it's really only cleaning superficially, so it hurts plus it misses things. Two bad things for one low price. Save it for getting bottle-blonde, or cleaning blood spots out of linen or clothes. Not for patient care. If you want to use it for very minor wound cleaning, to assist in getting organic (bodily fluids, etc.) stuff up and out, and decrease germs (NOT eliminate them), it's not terrible for cleaning up an infected toenail, or making sure you cleaned everything off a pair of tweezers. But it's never the last, let alone only, agent to use. With other things, okay. Alone, never.

Betadine (c) (trade name) or povidone iodine (generic name) is the standard - if the patient is not allergic to iodine. Iodine allergy, or shellfish or seafood allergy? No iodine, period.
Use solution (the weaker formulation) not scrub (the stronger one). You can and should even cut it 1:1 with either clean tap water, or any form of sterile water or sterile saline, and it makes an excellent wound soak. You can pour it or blast it (with an irrigation syringe) straight into open wounds, to kill the germs you're dealing with in a dirty/infected cut. Just suction it mostly all back out after a bit, once it's done its job.

After that, there are a host of engineered antiseptic chemicals. the most commonly available commercial one is benzylkonium chloride (abbr.: BZK). It's in all sorts of handiwipes and such. It is the lion's share of what makes Bactine (c) work. It hurts far less than alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, and cleans one hell of a lot better, along with having no allergy issues for people with iodine problems. Therefore anything with this should be your first-line choice. Povidone iodine should be used afterwards, if there are no allergy issues. And lastly, clean water and soap. Phisohex etc. is okay, but so is Ivory.

Next is simple household bleach. You can look up all sorts of dilutions for it's use, bearing in mind it is for things, not people, and it, you know, bleaches things. Like your clothes, when you splash it. At four to eight drops per quart, and given 30 minutes or so, it'll turn a canteen or jug of water into clean water. At higher concentrations, you can make a slurry that'll kill anything, including biological and chemical agents. Which is handy when you're having to decontaminate an impermeable surface on a treatment bed or what have you that got someone's blood or diarrhea, etc., on it. You should have handbooks or cheat sheet cards made and laminated that tell how to do all of the above. And get an eyedropper too.

Hint: Put the eyedropper inside a 4"-6" section of end-threaded PVC sprinkler/plumbing pipe, and screw on pipe caps at both ends. Drill a small hole thorough one cap, knot a piece of cord inside, and tie or loop the other end through your laminated instruction card, and over the neck or handle of your bleach bottle, and you'll have a crushproof container for the dropper to make your bleach solution when you need it. If you need a small plastic measuring cup for stronger mixes, add that as well.

Lastly, if you want to go with potassium permanganate, it can, just like household bleach, be used to purify water, make a cleansing wound wash, etc. (If you look up the details, it can even make an improvised incendiary device. NTTAWWT.) So be careful lest you set your own stuff on fire accidentally, if you choose to stock it.

There are literally catalogs full of other items and solutions you can use and should acquire, some for cleaning surfaces that aren't people, and others for use directly on people. Anything else you get should be studied exhaustively. You're responsible for everything you put on, in, or next to people you treat. Get the MSDS sheets for all of the above, because the stuff you use to clean will splash someone in the eyes or mouth, and you'll want to know what to do if that happens too. And for pete's sake, store your stockpile intelligently, so it doesn't corrode your cabinet, mix with other chemicals and make a toxic brew, or burn your stuff down. All chemicals should be treated with the same diligent care you'd use for unstable nitroglycerin or a running chain saw, and you'll never need to treat yourself for screwing things up. Murphy is a bitch.

And stockpile as much of any of the above as you can justify. Pool shock can make gallons of liquid bleach. Bar soap lasts for decades without going bad; so does liquid soap in jugs.
Alcohol is a flammable, as noted. Hydrogen peroxide will, over time, turn to tap water (H2O2 becomes H2O), even in brown light-resistant jugs (yet another reason why it's a poor choice for long-term stocking and usage). And so on.

Bear in mind you'll need sponges, mops, wipes, and other cleaning supplies, and the more people you contemplate treating, the more cleaning stuff you'll need, in small mountains. The only way to make something clean, is to make something else dirty (i.e. clean floor requires a dirty mop and bucket), and that goes double for trying to create any sort of clean or sterile area for minor, let alone major, surgical undertakings.

On an individual level, hand sanitizer gel, betadine, and BZK wipes and solution should be in every kit you stock, without fail, down to the smallest one. Leakproof travel bottles for TSA use are perfect for keeping a small quantity of each in a personal/car/field kit.

You would also be well advised, living in nice, clean, lemon-scented first world conditions, to make sure you can deal with rats, mice, body lice, bedbugs, fungal infections, and a host of other nasties that will crop up when everyone reverts back to a weekly bath/shower, when they're lucky. The plague spread very nicely in medieval through industrial times, when everyone had their own supply of body and hair lice 24/7/forever.

So do you want to guarantee 50% casualties, or less than 10%?

This concludes your hospital cleanliness briefing. Screw it up, and kill your patients, and/or infect or infest yourselves.
Don't be that guy.