(No, I've not suddenly gone over to the eco-friendly, not-showering-for-weeks-at-a-time, dirty-smelly-hippie, Left. I do however, think the admonishment to think globally, act locally, is one that many, if not most Liberty Movement believers need to focus on more.--J.M.)
There seems to be a growing interest in the Liberty Movement to focus on the bigger picture on a national level. This is not a bad trend, and it even makes sense on some levels. It was not your local chief of police who "walked" guns to Laz Zetas and other Mexican cartels. It is not your local mayor who wants to ship your kids off to die in the Iranian desert for no apparent reason.
At the same time however, as has been discussed ad nauseum within the blogosphere, it is your local neighbor who borrowed your lawn mower last week, who's going to turn you in to the regime for stockpiling food storage. It's your local sheriff's department SWAT team that will be kicking your door in to serve a no-knock drug enforcement warrant. It's your local tax-collector who ends up responsible for assessing your property values at a level you cannot afford to pay. It's your local traffic enforcement officer who orders a plate carrier on E-Bay, wears multi-cams and carries PVS-14s and a select-fire M4, and suddenly thinks he's a SFOD-D assaulter instead of a sworn peace officer who will stomp the family dog to death and shove a Remington 870 in the face of a skinny teenager during a traffic stop.
Our society and culture is rapidly accelerating down the same steep, precarious mountainside that our political system has already dove off. We're on a twisting, turning, two-lane blacktop road, and the fucking brakes just went out on the truck. The Powers That Be (TPTB) in corporate, banking, and political circles are going to do everything they can to protect themselves and their interests. If that means convincing local LEOs to shoot patriotic, hard-working Americans in the face, do you think they will lose sleep over it? They will lie, steal, and cheat their asses off to keep the ignorant, unwashed masses stupid enough to believe them, in their "rightful" places (that's not me being superior. I was there once too. "Of course the invasion of Iraq is justified. Of course our government needs to keep secrets. They have knowledge and access to information we don't need to know.") It's not going to work though. The brakes are already toast, and we're passing 100mph already. Do you know a mechanic who can fix brakes on a runaway car? Me either. The system is fucked and each of you needs to wake up to the reality.
It doesn't matter what the fucktards in D.C. do, in the long-term. In the short-term, you need to protect yourself from the professional criminals in the Beltway, as well as the local snitches who do their bidding in the effort to maintain the status quo. In the long-term, instead of worrying about the national level, you need to focus on developing the defense of your local area. Focus on your family, your networks, and your community. When those are dialed in shit tight, then and only then, should you start worrying about the national level. Chances are, your local area is not wired in as tight as you think it is.
This ties directly in to another recent subject of conversation in the blogosphere, that of leadership. Leadership, as a former Ranger and a former NCO, is a subject that is both near and dear to my heart and soul. The definition of leadership, the execution of leadership, the art of leadership, especially in the tactical arena, are long-held passions of mine. What makes a good leader? Why, when so many claim that charisma is critical in a leader, are so many of history's best tactical leaders guys who you'd punch in the mouth if you met them over a beer?
According to the bible of small-unit leadership, SH21-76 The Ranger Handbook, leaders provide purpose, direction, and motivation. Good leaders must BE, KNOW, and DO. Those are pretty good criteria, even for irregular force leaders. How can we have leaders at the national level, if we don't have leaders at the local level? We cannot. It's neither realistic nor relevant to concern yourself about the strategic if you cannot handle the tactical.
A leader must be proficient in all the skills relevant to his position, on both an individual and collective level. He must be able to shoot, move, and communicate. He needs to understand not just the how, but the why of what he is teaching and asking his subordinates to do (if you cannot engage hostiles with your primary personal small arm at distances of 0-200 meters, how can you expect to convince your group members that they need to be able to engage at 500 meters? If you don't know how to insert a nasopharyngeal airway device or perform a surgical chric, or initiate a saline/IV lock, how can you expect your group members to understand the importance of spending $45-100 or more on IFAK/BOKs? If you don't have a realistic, serious food storage program in place, how do you expect to convince others of the necessity?)
A leader must be courageous, committed, and candid. If you are preaching the sanctity of the Bill of Rights, but you are afraid to carry a weapon daily because you can't or won't get a concealed-carry permit, how committed are you? How courageous are you? How candid? If you refuse to verbalize your concerns about increasing tyranny because you're worried about UAVs overhead running surveillance, or that the "wrong" neighbor might overhear and rat you out because if the USA PATRIOT Act, how candid and committed are you?
A leader must know himself. He has to know, and acknowledge, his own strengths and weaknesses; in character, judgment, knowledge, and skill. He must be willing and able to determine his weaknesses and strengths, and he must possess the moral strength of character to admit those weaknesses and get expert guidance when an operational requirement demands skill in areas he lacks expertise.
A leader must know his subordinates and their strengths and weaknesses. He must know what areas of training and knowledge they need improvement. Are they conducting their individual training requirements (marksmanship, PT, fieldcraft, combatives, and other individual level skills should be the responsibility of individuals) and "professional reading?" A leader must recognize the weaknesses in his own group, and develop a training plan that addresses these. If a group has a regularly scheduled "training" meeting, he should have collective task training planned and prepared for when the group arrives. A leader must recognize what concerns his subordinates have regarding safety and address them (at a recent class, conducting down-vehicle egress drills, live-fire, I handed a loaded magazine to a young man to allow him to participate live-fire. Most of the group in question was amazed. "He's too clumsy!" "He's too irresponsible!" "He's too young!" "John is crazy!" Yet, when I made the decision to let him go live, he performed at a level equal to that of any "more experienced" shooter there [none had ever done vehicle egress drills before, so "experience" was largely theoretical], and exceeding that of many who were older than he. I was able to look at his performance and demeanor during the training leading up to that drill, and determine he would perform to standard. That's what leaders need to be able to do in training.).
Leaders must set an example. If you spend your weekends in front of the computer screen, reading blogs on the internet, instead of at the range, or in the gym, or hiking up the local mountain, how can you expect to guide and inspire your subordinates to spend their time training? If you're bitching about the costs of ammunition instead of dry-firing, how do you expect to convince your subordinates of the value of training? "I'm already the fittest guy in my group!" or "I can achieve our group's marksmanship standards!" is not a suitable excuse for a leader. Can everyone in your group exceed the standards? Why are you not training them?
Leaders provide guidance and motivation. Leaders lead by teaching. If you're a Master-level IDPA 3-Gun shooter, or a black belt in judo, why isn't everyone in your group? If you are an EMT-P, why isn't everyone in your group capable of teaching TC3? If someone in your group is morbidly obese and refuses to get off the fucking couch to do PT, drive to their house, grab them by the hair, yank them off the couch, and drag them down the god-damned road until they decide that running is less painful than road-rash. Or, do the right thing, and shed the dead weight, and focus your group on quality over quantity. Trample the weak and hurdle the dead!
Make the hard decisions. Be a fucking leader. Focus on local needs. I don't think going to a PatCom is a bad idea, and I'm hardly the guy to badmouth the idea of making network contacts as widely dispersed as possible. On the other hand, what are you doing at your PatComs? If you want to be a leader, and set an example, the develop some training and lead it at your PatCom. Don't sit around in the woods bitching and moaning about how you're doing something by sitting around the fire singing "kumbaya."
If the local stormtroopers are kicking in your doors and pitching in flashbangs, in BumFuck, Idaho, what good is your contact in East Kackalacky, Pennsylvania going to be? Wouldn't it be better to spend the money and time on making local contacts at the range (never mind the training value in training at the range while you are meeting people)? How about going to a Tea Party rally and making your voice heard in local politics? Granted, a majority of the people you'll meet will think you're wearing a tin-foil beanie under your Gadsden Flag ball cap, but who cares? If out of every 100 people you meet, you manage to find two who are right-minded and dedicated, you're still doing better than Herodotus.
(I'm not suggesting you run out and start discussing plans to build IEDs for training in the desert with every Tom, Dick, and Harry you meet on the street. Use discretion, consider PERSEC, and don't be a fucking moron. --J.M.)
More to follow, but HH6, the morale officer, and myself, are currently on vacation.
Somewhere other than the mountains