31 January 2012

EQUIPPING THE GUERRILLA FIGHTER, PART THREE (THE SUSTAINMENT LOAD)

Recognizing the importance of always striving to reduce the mobility-destroying load-bearing requirements of the guerrilla fighter, it is critical to first dispel some long-cherished myths regarding the historical American woodsman-scout. When most Americans consider the archetype of the woodsman-scout, their visualization typically involves a frontiersman (eastern long-hunter or western “mountain man”) slipping silently and effortlessly through the timber, carrying everything he owns in a shoulder-slung “possibles” pouch or a small knapsack slung across his back. This, like the cowboy-plainsman with his bedroll strapped behind the cantle of his saddle, is for the most part, nothing more than Thoreauan mythology.


Prior to the World War Two introduction of realistically practical off-road motorized transport, long-term travel in the backcountry almost always involved the use of livestock for transportation of personnel and logistics. Guerrilla and irregular forces have historically made wide-spread use of the local indigenous beast of burden as well, whenever possible, even as recently as the GWOT (SF made rather extensive use of animal transport in the early days of OEF, thanks to the Northern Alliance's reliance on horseback transportation. Both SOF and conventional forces have continued to make use of pack animals, in various degrees, according to my sources, especially in the more remote, extremely alpine regions of Afghanistan.--J.M.). Nevertheless, for the light-infantry force, the paradigm in large part remains the focused on man-portable sustainment load-bearing equipment, in the form of rucksacks.



It is neither necessary nor desirable to pack the “kitchen sink” in the guerrilla sustainment rucksack load. A guerrilla light-infantry patrol is not a recreational backpacking trip. Focusing the sustainment load packing list on the basic necessary logistics of survival and combat effectiveness, rather than creature comforts, and the regular utilization of pre-positioned re-supply caches, makes it possible to minimize the guerrilla fighter's load to the barest minimum possible.



Among the simplest, but most certain methods of reducing sustainment load weights is the development and use of “standardized” packing lists within a guerrilla patrol element, and the enforcement of these packing standards by key leaders during pre-combat inspections. At its simplest level, the light-infantry sustainment load should encompass only the basic necessities to ensure human survival: water, food, and adequate shelter for the given environmental conditions. This minimalist approach leave the light-infantryman a load-bearing capability far below the standard of conventional force infantry forces, while allowing for the addition of some mission-essential equipment without exceeding the ability of the fit war-fighter to move and fight effectively.



Packs

The selection of a load-bearing pack design for the guerrilla fighter is most critically dependent on the demands of the immediate operational environment. A guerrilla force operating from an urban enclave guerrilla base, with ample support from a complex, established subversive underground and extensive auxiliary support network, will have a significantly different logistical sustainment requirement than a less well-supported organizational element operating from a swamp/jungle base or in an alpine environment.



At its most fundamental level, Che Guevara's recommendation of a poncho and light blanket may be all that is required for shelter in many environments (as a young hooah, training throughout the southern US and many tropical and sub-tropical environments, even as far north and south a temperate regions, we utilized nothing more than a poncho and poncho liner as a “sleeping bag,” even in winter. --J.M.). Along with a decent water bottle, water purification method, and food supplies for several days, a complete sustainment load could theoretically be carried in no more than a small assault pack, or even an old ALICE buttpack (for those still dedicated to the ALICE LBE system). With regular re-supply from caches, the guerrilla could conceivably operate in the field indefinitely.



In more extreme environments, requiring more extensive shelter protection, or for longer duration patrols without the benefit of auxiliary support and/or pre-positioned caches throughout the operational area, a larger sustainment system load-bearing pack option may be necessary. The small assault pack/buttpack option may not be viable (on the other hand, even in winter in extreme alpine environments, it is theoretically possible that it may be sufficient. The interior of a snow cave maintains a pretty steady temperature just above or at freezing. I've stayed comfortably warm in snow caves with nothing more than a poncho, poncho liner, and casualty-type quilted “space” blanket with just a small candle for warmth and light. Of course, on the other hand, I've also frozen my dick off laying in a tank track in the mud of an early spring sleet storm, wrapped in a poncho and poncho liner, with MRE heaters shoved under my ass for additional heat! --J.M.) in some environments.



Larger rucksack options for the potential future guerrilla light-infantry fighter range from military/military-surplus options such as the LC-2 ALICE rucksack (with frame) to the newer MOLLE designs (despite the total lack of any sort of contemporary ergonomic engineering, I still own, use, and love the “big green tick” ALICE ruck. My body long ago learned how to mold itself to fit the idiosyncracies of the “tick.” While I love the carrying capacity of the MOLLE II ruck, I still can't bring myself to trust the integrity of the plastic frame, after seeing them break just being tossed out the back of HMMWVs and five-tons. A MOLLE II ruck on an ALICE frame though? What's not to love? --J.M.), to the option of civilian mountaineering packs from companies such as Gregory, Dana Designs, North Face, and Kelty. While these typically lack the modularity or sheer brutal toughness of the military designs, it is important to remember that, despite the sometimes odd-ball aspects of the mountaineering sub-culture, serious alpinists are extremely physical athletes who demand a lot from their equipment.



Further, the relatively innocent appearance of this equipment, in some areas may assist the guerrilla's attempts to blend with the local civilian population in regime-controlled denied-territory, when moving through built-up areas (consider the idea of a small guerrilla force infiltrating a an urban area solo or in pairs, to rendezvous/link-up at a pre-arranged, auxiliary-operated safehouse, to conduct final planning and isolation functions prior to a HVT raid within the regime-controlled urban area...Anyone been to Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, Washington? If so, do you see the point?).



Finally, there is the obvious option of selecting the sustainment-load rucksack from the current offerings of companies catering to the military and PMC markets with non-issue, COTS rucksack and load-bearing gear, such as Kifaru, Eberlestocke, and others. While they offer a remarkably attractive blend of the best of both worlds, they do suffer from two potential drawbacks, dependent on the operational environment. One, they are incredibly expensive (although often no more expensive than comparable civilian backpacks, they are seldom found used, in thrift stores and second-hand stores, dirt-cheap, the way the civilian models often are), and second, they are obviously military in appearance, meaning they offer little advantage to the urban-based guerrilla who will need to avoid piquing the curiousity of security forces.



Ultimately, the selection of a pack for the sustainment load will depend on the physiognomy of the individual potential guerrilla fighter, what is locally available and affordable (although, as long as the internet is still available, “local” is a loose term in this case), and the operational/environmental constraints of the local environment.



If the priorities of survival are considered honestly, the importance of packing the sustainment load with adequate water, food, and shelter may vary in criticality dependent on the local operational environment. It truly is a METT-TC consideration. Conditions vary greatly across North America and across the globe. What constitutes adequate shelter in downtown Miami Beach, Florida in July will differ greatly from what constitutes adequate shelter in the Bears Paw Mountains near Chinook, Montana in January.



While potable water will be a major concern in most months of the year in the Sonoran desert environment around Yuma, Arizona, the winter months in the area of Heber City, Utah mean there will be adequate water in the form of snow to validate a very light packing list for water in the sustainment load.



At a fundamental level, clothing is shelter. Wearing adequate clothing for the operational environment will greatly reduce the necessary sustainment payload for shelter (for example, in the above example of using an ultra-light shelter option in a snow cave, had I not been wearing polypropylene long underwear, fleece second-layer, Gore-Tex shell garments, and a polar fleece balaclava, I would not have been anywhere near as comfortably warm in the snow cave. Further, the fact that I was not wearing anything but basic summerweight BDUs and jungle boots when I tried to bivvy up in the tank track, the mild sleet storm would have been far more tolerable with just a poncho liner and poncho. --J.M.). Additionally, since time is generally on the side of the guerrilla (thus the term “The Long War”), the utilization of field-expedient shelters such as snow caves, brush lean-tos, and even dug-out, roofed over fighting positions, further reduce the environmental protection needs of sustainment load shelters. While the very real potential of having to bivvy up in the middle of a thicket of thorny brush must be considered, the guerrilla should recognize that, outside of an active E&E, he should never rely just on the supplies on his back. He must think outside of the box (further, the thermal mass represented by an earth-covered fighting position or a snow-cave offer interesting countermeasures to the threat of regime security force thermal imaging devices...--J.M.).



(For the record, while in many seasons I am able to get by in the field with the poncho liner/poncho shelter combination, I do own several of the military three-bag sleep systems. For winter conditions above 8000 feet, it just makes sense to hedge my bets on staying warm. In the event I need to occupy a guerrilla base in the mountains, rest assured, these will be well utilized within the housing developed inside the secure guerrilla base area. While there are some comparable, and even a few superior civilian options available, the price was perfect for me. It sure makes sense to make good friends with the supply NCO...--J.M.)



Dear Reader,



It is late. Despite not having completed this installment of the third installment of this article series, I am going to post it, and try to complete the rest of the article tomorrow. My sincerest apologies, but it did take awhile for OpenOffice to download this evening after I got off work. I am now back to having a real word-processing system, and my wife, significantly younger than I, and thus far more tech-savvy, managed to do some stuff to the computer today to ensure the continued viability of WinDoze until I can get the Linux disc I burned this weekend to boot properly.



Nous Defions!

John Mosby



Somewhere in the mountains

30 January 2012

TECH ISSUES UPDATE: LAPTOP IS STILL TARFU

I've still not resolved the tech issues I'm dealing with. I downloaded LinuxMint to a DVD-R this weekend, but every time I start to boot from the DVD, the computer loads, but screen goes black....hmmm......

Additionally, while I DID download OpenOffice onto the computer's hard drive, within WinDoze, I ended up having to re-set the computer, so my OpenOffice promptly disappeared. It's currently struggling to re-download with our fiendishly slow WiFi connection.

So, in order to get this posted, I utilized the guerrilla mindset, and found a way around the obstacle. By utilizing web-based email, I was able to type the article as a message, then copy and paste it, before deleting it from the email system, without ever sending it...once again, leveraging the available technology to meet the needs of the guerrilla/resistance.

If something happens and I do not post for a lengthy time (call it a week at the outside), it is simply because the WinDoze finally crashed, and the computer has to go to a tech guy to fix. Unfortunately, in our small mountain hamlet, the only tech guy is WAY over-priced. I'd rather wait until I make another trip to town, even if it means making an unscheduled trip.

In the meantime, I hope every one is doing their PT, spending some quality time at the range, working with friends on developing small-unit tactical skills and TACSOPs, and getting their shit in order.

Nous Defions!

John Mosby

Somewhere in the Mountains

GUERRILLA FORCE COMMUNICATIONS CONCEPTS

(In lieu of the promised third installment of the "Equipping the Guerrilla Fighter" series, which is still in the writing stages, I offer the following for readers. This article came about as a result of a conversation on the topic with a co-worker on Friday It subsequently brewed in my head until I felt obligated to include my thoughts on the subject within the blog.

I've also decided to tone down the formality of my prose style somewhat. While I've tried to keep the prose very third-person and somewhat inoffensive, the reality is, that's not how I speak. So, while I will still attempt to keep the profanity to a dull roar, I hope readers will pardon the somewhat less formal tone I will take as these articles continue. --J.M.)

In the real-world of small-unit warfare, communications are absolutely critical to surviva and success. Whether it is organizing and conducting "combined" operations, with the subversive underground and/or other guerrilla force elements, coordinating re-supply from caches wth the auxiliary, or maintaining security of the guerrilla base with LP/OPs and roving security patrols, secure, effective communications networks must be developed and maintained.

While the relative merits and shortcomings of various radio communications devices, such as amateur radio/HAM, FRS/GMRS, and citizen's band/CB radio are discussed, ad nauseum, in various "survival" forums and blogs, this is, at best, a half-measure approach. While some elements ad patrols my carry a radio or radios, the very real danger of signals intercept must never be overlooked. Additionally, despite the LoS advantages facilitated by ridge-top or roof-top LP/OPs, ultimately, radio communications in alpine environments (and to a lesser extent, urban areas) tend to be extremely unreliable. This is most often due to three factors: terrain masking effects of ridges and timbered areas (and large buildings interrupting the LoS), the often unavoidable rough-handling electronic equipment receives under combat conditions, and the adverse weather conditions common in mountain regions.
The effectiveness of radio communications for the guerrilla force (and the resistance in general), ultimately will depend on the resourcefulness and ingenuity of communications personnel. The proper, effective use of expedient, directional antennae will be of value, as will maximizing the use of the afore-mentioned ridge-top LP/OPs as "relay stations," although the static interference of adverse weather will still have to be considered. The extreme and rapid changes in temperature normally encountered in alpine regions crate condensation problems, further exacerbating the problems, by increasing the difficulty in keeping radio sets and batteries dry.

While the technological difficulties iherent to the use of radios by the mountain guerrilla must be considered in the planning process, equal consideration should be given to the tactical issues involved. Considering the technological advances typically available to regime forces for electronic signals intercept, even brief use of radio communications should be minimized as much as humanly possible. The primary purpose of sending communications messages in the field is to transmit information to other elements. If intelligence information is to be useful, it myst be transmitted and delivered in time to be acted upon effectively. The inability to accomplish this requirement by any other communications means is the only justifiable reason for the guerrilla force to risk radio communications rather than more "primitive" methods. Operational planning should incorporate communications planning, including the useof freuently changing personnel and unit call-signs, pre-planned electronic communications windows, and (whenever possible/tactically feasible) pre-planned rendezvous/link-up points and times for courier-based message transmission.

When utilizing radio communications, resistance elements should only power up their radios during the planned "random" transmission windows. Receiving elements should not need to respond to transmissions, unless absolutely critical to operational success. Immediately following communications windows, radios should be powered down, and elements must leave the vicinity as rapidly as possible. It must always be assumed that regime security forces are constantly-and successfully-utilizing signals intercept capabilities.

(Personally, my exception to the general rule of not using radios would be for close-range, intra-team tactical communications, utilizing low-powered 0.5W FRS/GMRS two-way radios. The pathetically weak transmission power of these units mean that they are extremely difficult to intercept unless the enemy is already nearby and has the element pin-pointed within a very small geographical area. Th only time these intra-team radios should be used is in contact, in which case, it's probably fair to assume that the enemy already has a fairly good idea of where you are. --J.M.)

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One method available to resistance forces to leverage available technology for communications security is the use of couriers, carrying a USB thumb drive, or similar device, with the message encrypted using open-source free-ware type encryption systems. While the NSAs purported inability to decrypt these programs is probably urban myth (or good advertising/disinformation), a current court case in Colorado seems to indicate that, even at the federal level, law enforcement agencies at least, do not possess the ability to crack this level of encryption. If the courier is simply given a dead-drop location to leave the encrypted device, with no information as to the content of the message and/or passphrase, he/she will not be able, regardless of the level of maltreatment by regime forces during interrogation, be ble to compromise the security of the communications net, beyond the location of the pick-up and dead-drop. If good fieldcraft is practiced by the resistance, the compromise of either of these should not be an issue of great concern, since they will realize the locations are compromised and drive on.

(This is, specifically, one of the concepts I'm referring to when I dicuss the idea of resistance/irregular warfare elements utilizing the available technology to augment traditional UW TTPs to their advantage. --J.M.)

Messengers are of course, necessarily slow, due to the nature of their need to travel clandestinely and/or covertly. The use of couriers for communications should be closely scrutinized for applicability when planning for the transmission/delivery of time-sensitive communications. Nevertheless, when couriers are proven trustworthy, and have received excellent field-craft training, they are one of the most (if not the most) secure methods of communications available to resistance forces.
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Visual signaling methods such as semaphore or light-transmitted Morse code, are often overlooked by contemporary potential future resistance personnel, but havethe potential to be extremely useful tactical communications methods for resistance forces in both urban and alpine operational environments. The long lines of sight afforded by ridge-top and roof-top LP/OPs provide many opportunities, and the light weight of the requisite equipment (two bright pieces of cloth for semaphore, and the already present flashlight for light-based signaling) makes them far more easily carried than heavier radios and sustainment batteries for the woodsman-scout guerrilla, or the clandestine urban saboteur/subversive.

The semaphore method of signaling hs been historically demonstrated to be extremely functional. It is easily learned, and provided environmental conditions contribute, can be easily seen at distances well over 5K, provided the receiving element has the benefit of decent magnified optics such as field glasses and/or spotting scopes. While it is critical that key leaders, couriers, and communications support personnel master reading and sending semaphore, all resistance operators should be trained to a basic level of proficiency (remember, in the days of wooden-ships, illiterate, press-ganged seamen learned to read semaphore proficiently...it ain't fucking rocket science! --J.M.). The average person can learn the semaphore alphabet in five or six hours of instructions, and minimal amount of refresher training/practice thereafter should maintain a functional, if not fluent, proficiency.

A decent flashlight and understanding of simple alpha-numeric Morse code can be utilized for visual signaling at night at distances of over 2K (I once got verbally hammered by friends on another ODA due to poor light discipline. On a refresher night land nav course in mountain desert, I flipped on a halogen-bulb headlamp to dig a sweatshirt out of my ruck. From a mapped ten miles away they not only saw the light, but later reported that it was obvious someone was using a "hand-held" light. --J.M.).
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The final method of secure communications readily available to the potential future resistance force is the use of wire-based communications, such as older military-surplus field telephones. Obviously, the difficulties inherent to laying the wire preclude its use by fast-moving, small-unit maneuver elements for most purposes, but its ultimate, ideal use is for communications within the urban or alpine guerrilla base.


The laying of wire for these networks must be accomplished with extreme care and excellent camouflage (one mission of LRSU, SF SR teams, and other tactical intelligence-gathering units is "tapping" into enemy wire lines and subsequent signals intercept. Vietnam-era SOG teams performed this mission a great deal, often with outstanding success.). Nevertheless, the use of field telephones and wire, especially for security networks connecting LP/OPs to TOC/CPs in the guerrilla base should be seriously considered as an option during the development of the guerrilla base and security and communications network planning.
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Consider the advantages of a series of LP/OPs, connected to the TOC/CP by landline wire and field telephones, augmented by roving foot-mobile patrols comprised of individual guerrillas with exemplary fieldcraft abilities, who can easily communicate with the separate LP/OPs via semaphore...or consider the use of FRS/GMRS radios for intra-team communications by fast-moving, highly mobile guerilla maneuver elements, augmented by couriers who can be used to communicate with outlying LP/OPs at the edge of guerrilla-controlled territory, who in turn can communicate with the TOC/CP via land-line field telephone. With properly established LP/OPs camouflaged from both visual and thermal view, there is very little COMINT signals intercept possibility for regime security forces to take advantage of. Figure out ways to leverage the available technology to benefit the resistance movement! --J.M.)

Nous Defions!

John Mosby

Somewhere in the Mountains

26 January 2012

WORD PROCESSING PROGRAM SHIT THE BED!

A year ago, I switched to Linux and didn't look back....Until my laptop died about six months ago (cause unrelated to Linux). I bought my current laptop two months ago, and haven't been able to download Linx on it, due to an exhaustingly slow internet WiFi connection.

Tonight, the Windows Office Starter program that comes as part of the box package shit the bed. I cannot open any Word Starter files at all...Fotunately, I write all my articles out, longhand on yellow legal pads (Yes, I really AM that fucking old school!), so I won't lose any of my new content. However, I am unable to type and post tonight's article. I will probably not be posting anything over the course of the weekend either. I have promised to take my wife to "town," which implies a four-hundred mile round-trip, overnight stay...We'll be there all weekend. She'll be buying groceries and stuff for the baby. I'll be stocking up on S-4 materials.

I will also be trying to find a way to utilize a faster WiFi connection to download Linux and get it booted onto this laptop, so I can wipe this MS horseshit from my box and get on with the mission.

I highly encourage each reader to dedicate him/her self to doing one of three things:
1) Spend at least a couple of hours at the range, running practical defensive combat shooting drills.
2) If you are a potential future "G," throw on a fifty-pound rucksack and go for a (long) walk. 15-20 KM should do for a start...assuming you think you are in shape.
3) Spend at least two hours, pen in hand, paper on the table in front of you, and make a list of training, logistics, or research efforts you need to undertake, and develop a plan to implement these into your life.

Nous Defions!
John Mosby
Somewhere in the Mountains

25 January 2012

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

I am going to interrupt my normal broadcast to comment on some comments regarding the recent articles “Equipping the Guerrilla Fighter,” made on the Western Rifle Shooters blog.

I don’t know if current readers have gone back and read every article I’ve ever posted on this blog. However, doing so is pretty critical in order to maintain currency with the thought processes behind current articles.

That having been said, in case you, dear reader, decide to say, “Fuck you John! I’ve got better shit to do than read what some has-been SF guy blathers on about,” there are some critical things to consider regarding resistance movements. If this is all theoretical mental masturbation for you, swell, go on fantasizing. I’m cool with that, seriously.

OTOH, if you are seriously concerned about the route being followed by Federals, there are some things you HAVE to face, regarding resistance movements. As I mentioned in previous articles, there are three different aspects to a successful resistance movement: the paramilitary guerrilla force, the subversive underground, and the auxiliary. It is absolutely, undeniably essential to understand the role of each of these elements and the differences between these elements. If you live in suburbia, and believe you’re going to run some sort of paramilitary guerrilla operations like movements-to-contact, raids, and convoy ambushes, you’re delusional. There is no way, in a suburban neighborhood, in a totalitarian regime, that you are going to maintain the OPSEC necessary to pull it off. That doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to fuck up the bad guys, or otherwise help the resistance. It just means you need to ditch the John Wayne and Red Dawn fantasies.

Let’s face reality, a suburban neighborhood is NOT an area that can be secured, the way an urban, inner-city neighborhood, an alpine valley, or triple-canopy wetlands can. If you live in the sort of terrain that is not conducive to the development of a “guerrilla base,” you need to be focusing your preparatory efforts on the development of support networks to stand-up a subversive underground or auxiliary. Instead of buying load-bearing equipment, purchase and cache the materials and equipment to construct roadway barriers, and communications gear that can be utilized by resistance forces in the future. Purchase, store, cache (and record the location of the cache) foodstuffs that will last, that can be utilized by yourself, your family, your community, AND the resistance (including the guerrilla force) in the event of future hostilities.

If you do not have the physical capabilities to hump a ruck up and down the mountains to get to rendezvous points to link up with auxiliaries operating the transportation networks, stop fantasizing about running combat patrols and raiding security force compounds. It’s not going to happen. Instead, focus on researching the methods of building anti-personnel and anti-material weapons when those are necessary (Note: Do NOT start building bombs and IEDs until you personally feel the time has come. I do NOT advocate getting thrown in the federal prison for doing stupid shit.). Learn a valuable trade, even as a hobby, such as machining, welding, or something similar (machining would be an extremely valuable skill for the subversive underground AND the auxiliary. A good machinist should be able, with some reference material, to start small-scale manufacture of everything from indirect-fire weapons like mortars, the ammunition casings for them, to the external components of IEDs/EFPs.)

Please note, if you do continue to read this blog, instead of deleting the link in a huffy little bitch-tantrum, that I am try very hard, to be very precise with the English language. I minored in English in college and am an avid reader of classical and historical literature. I understand the power of language, so I attempt to make it precise. When I speak of “equipping the guerrilla fighter,” I am talking about the paramilitary guerrilla. I am not talking about the subversive underground activist/fighter/saboteur. I am not talking about the auxiliary supporter.

That having been said, lest anyone think I am the one having a huffy little bitch-tantrum, I want to clarify that I appreciate ANY feedback on the content of my blog, even negative, if for no other reason than it helps me refine the delivery of the knowledge I’m trying to share.

Good hunting, and I promise to return to your regularly scheduled programming tomorrow!

Nous Defions,

John Mosby

Somewhere in the mountains

24 January 2012

EQUIPPING THE GUERRILLA FIGHTER, PART TWO (The Fighting Load)

(In the previous installment of this article, we discussed the implementation of a 1st line “survival load” for the guerrilla fighter. The overwhelming theme was, and should be, to minimize the amount of weight and equipment that the guerrilla carries to the minimum necessary. In this installment, I will delve deeper on a couple of the items of the survival load that are also de facto parts of the survival load. Further, we will discuss tactical equipment load-out elements of the 2nd line fighting load-out. –J.M.)

(The selection of tactical equipment in preparation for future social unpleasantness must be predicated on some major philosophical constraints. Among these is the recognition that the world and nation we have known is rapidly imploding around us. If this recognition exists, there are some critical issues that must be addressed.

The first of these is the degree of seriousness in one’s preparations. If it is simply a hobby, because you enjoy shooting guns, that’s okay. There is certainly nothing wrong with that in a free society. You don’t need to invest any more time or money than you fell like spending. You will get away with airsoft-quality gear and base-level, budget firearms and tools. However, if you genuinely believe that “bad times, they are a-comin’” then you have to look at your preparations in a far more serious light. In this brighter, more intensely focused light, then quality becomes a far more important issue. How much is your life actually worth? How about the life of your children and spouse? What about a successful restoration of the Constitution and the Republic?)

Keeping in mind the previously mentioned importance of maintaining the lightest load possible for the guerrilla fighter to operate in the woodsman-scout model, the foundation of the 2nd line fighting load-out is the load-bearing equipment (LBE). While it for a guerrilla fighter to toss a spare rifle magazine in his pocket, a bag of lunch and a blanket in a knapsack, and traipse off to war, experiences and battle damage assessments (BDA) conducted in Afghanistan have demonstrated that this is far from an ideal way to go about the business (on numerous occasions, following airstrikes on Taliban/AQ positions, SF ODAs have conducted BDA, and found dead enemy fighters with this very load-out). Such a poorly equipped soldier, regardless of the depth of his religious motivation, is a lousy match for a properly-equipped opponent with good training. While the guerrilla may spend a great deal of time in nothing more than his basic 1st line “survival load” while in secure areas or performing covert operations in denied areas, whenever possible, when conducting combat operations, the guerrilla should be wearing adequate LBE to complete his mission.

With the wide-variety of LBE available on the market currently, how does the concerned citizen or potential future guerrilla fighter determine the type of LBE set-up that might be ideal? Should he copy the equipment used by an infantryman of the 82nd Airborne Division or the 1st Marine Division? Perhaps a set-up like that used by a member of the Ranger Regiment or the SEAL teams would be more suitable? Considering the difference in missions, logistics support, and organization of all of these organizations, the argument should be obvious that none of these is an appropriate model for the guerrilla fighter.

The guerrilla fighter must base his load-out on the likely circumstances of his future operations. While it is obvious to most that future guerrilla forces will not possess the logistical support services enjoyed by conventional military forces, it is also important to realize that even many historical guerrilla models will not fit. The potential future American guerrilla cannot expect external support from friendly nation-states, such as enjoyed by the Viet Cong from the North Vietnamese and Chinese, the Iraqi insurgency from Syria and Iran, or that the Afghani resistance forces enjoy from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan via the services of the Pakistani ISI. Even during World War Two, the French Resistance, from whom this blog borrows its title, enjoyed a high level of material, moral, and technical support from the Allied Forces High Command. Instead, the American guerrilla will necessarily be forced to literally, “live off the land,” turning to his friends and neighbors, as well as battlefield recovery, for logistic support.

While the utilization of auxiliary support will facilitate the occasional use of vehicles for transportation of both personnel and supplies, the ability of the regime to utilize airborne and space-borne surveillance and reconnaissance assets for vehicle-tracking/pursuit, means that vehicular transport for the guerrilla combat force will, in many cases be extremely limited. The resulting necessary reversion to “primitive” light-infantry foot-mobile travel will act as a limiting factor in the fighting and sustainment load-outs of guerrilla fighters.

For several decades, the standard-issue load-bearing equipment of the United States military’s ground forces was the LC-1 and LC-2 “ALICE” system. Comprised of a wide, thick pistol belt with various equipment pouches and canteens hung off it, this system used a pair of suspenders to help hold the loaded belt around the soldier’s mid-section. The ALICE system was sufficient, if not ideal. Drawbacks included the fact that the ammunition pouches were cumbersome and slow to reload from, the canteens tended to result in occasionally disabling (and always annoying) chafing, and the general reality that the system was neither well-balanced on the soldier’s body, nor ergonomic.

In the middle 1990s, the Army’s Natick Laboratories, in cooperation with elements of the United States Special Operations Command and the U.S. Marine Corps (with the exception of some units in USASOC, the USMC amazingly adopted the MOLLE system before the Army did), began development of a new, modular, lightweight load-bearing system, referred to as MOLLE gear. This new system, and the advances that have been developed since, offered several distinct perceived advantages to the modern war-fighter. With MOLLE gear, equipment-carrying layout can be tailored to the needs of the individual war-fighter, rather than a doctrinal SOP, equipment can be spread more evenly over the fighter’s torso, reducing fatigue, and since it is held closer to the body’s center-of-gravity, the MOLLE gear offers considerably less of a hindrance to combat athleticism.

The current ready, inexpensive availability of the older ALICE gear on the military surplus market makes it an obvious, popular choice for many potential future guerrillas, as well as auxiliary support personnel to stockpile for future support of resistance activities. There is nothing wrong with this, but the reality is, for all intents and purposes, some variation of the MOLLE system is an effective leveraging of the currently available technology for the guerrilla to take advantage of.

The foundation of a MOLLE-based 2nd line fighting load-out comes in one of three basic forms: the plate carrier, the chest harness, and the new, “War Belt” configuration, based loosely on the older ALICE system.

Plate carriers, designed to carry ballistic protection against small-arms direct-fire threats, as well as load-bearing (with a notable exception that will be discussed below), offer one huge advantage over the other two options: they can save the guerrilla’s life by stopping enemy bullets! The use of body armor in current conflicts has saved an untold number of American lives from small-arms fire, as well as shrapnel threats from IEDs and indirect-fire weapons.

For the guerrilla fighter however, there are several mitigating drawbacks to plate carriers that must be considered. First among these is the fact that the weight of body armor may be detrimental to mobility for the foot-mobile guerrilla. While no one who has ever been on a two-way firing range will argue the inherent value of body armor, there are some within the military who have questioned whether some of the lives “saved” by body armor were not in fact, “saved” because they needed to be saved since they couldn’t move fast enough to exit the path of incoming fire.

Certainly, the use of a ballistic-protection “outer tactical vest” such as the Interceptor vest, with groin protection, side plates, deltoid protection, and throat guards are best left to vehicle-mounted war-fighters. The weight of these systems and the resulting decrease in mobility is what led to the development of what are now termed “plate carriers,” designed to hold a single plate in front of the vital areas of the torso, and another in the back. Currently, there are plate carrier systems available that, combined with ceramic, multi-hit protection, NIJ Level Three rifle plates, weigh less than 15 pounds (I don’t know about you, but I can run pretty damned fast, even with an extra 15 pounds on if I’m scared enough! –J.M.). The applications of a plate carrier in fighter survivability should certainly be considered when developing the 2nd line fighting load-out.

Chest harnesses, unlike plate carriers, are simply lightweight panels of nylon with MOLLE/PALS-compatible webbing straps, covering the front of the torso. While the chest harness suffers the obvious drawback of not offering any ballistic protection whatsoever, they do offer increased mobility due to reduced weight. The guerrilla can move much faster and possibly more quietly, with a loaded chest harness on than with the same load attached to, or over a plate carrier. In hot weather, the reduced weight and increased ventilation of the chest harness may be life-saving, due to the reduced risk of heat-related injury or death.

One major complaint about the chest harness MOLLE system in the recent past has been constant lower back strain as a result of the load being unbalanced towards the front of the torso. While this is correctly remedied by the addition of a small assault pack or filled hydration bladder on the back, a new model of MOLLE load-bearing gear was developed instead. The “war belt” or “battle belt” system involves the use of a MOLLE-compatible belt system, often (but not necessarily) supported by a set of suspenders with padded shoulder straps. This system has found a great deal of favor in the civilian tactical shooting world, and apparently among some contractors and special operations personnel.

One combination of these systems that has the potential to offer great benefits to the guerrilla fighter in the future is the use of a low-profile plate carrier, with no MOLLE webbing, that can be worn under a baggy sweatshirt or coat, for ballistic protection from rifle threats, with a chest harness that can be quickly donned if necessary, or the addition of a war belt system (while I currently train with a “normal” external plate carrier, and attached pouches for gear, I am seriously contemplating this idea, due to the theoretical ability to utilize the plate carrier, even during covert operations in denied-area, regime-controlled territory, that require no readily visible paramilitary signature. –J.M.).

The final decision of whether a plate carrier, chest harness, war belt, or combination system (or older ALICE system) is most suitable for a particular potential future guerrilla must be based on the needs and preferences of the individual, including physical fitness levels, preferences, perceived future missions, and of course, current budgetary limitations.

Regardless of the final choice of systems, if the guerrilla fighter selects a MOLLE-based system, the next important choice is the selection of a manufacturer. With the current demand for MOLLE-compatible LBE, for the war efforts, law enforcement militarization, and the civilian enthusiast, there are a vast number of companies producing MOLLE gear in one form or another. Unfortunately, this high level of demand also means the cost of quality MOLLE gear is still relatively high, especially when compared to older surplus ALICE gear. While it is possible to procure less expensive imported gear, it is imperative to remember that most of the imported equipment manufactured in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is intended solely for use by the recreational airsoft culture. (While it looks, at first glance, comparable to hard-use gear, relying on equipment intended for a kid’s game in a life-or-death situation is stupid. If the guerrilla chooses the cheapest airsoft gear he can find, and dies because of an equipment failure, I will personally make it a point to laugh at his funeral. Yes, I am an asshole like that! –J.M.)

(Domestic manufacturers of quality tactical MOLLE gear that I have personal experience with include—but are not necessarily limited to:

·         Blackhawk Industries. Ironically, although much of their manufacturing now takes places in the PRC, the chest harness I have from them has had the ever-loving dog shit kicked out of it, and is still going strong.

·         Eagle Industries.

·         High-Speed Gear, Incorporated.

·         Special Operations Technologies.

·         Special Operations Equipment.

·         5.11 Gear. Although 5.11 is the least expensive of these manufacturers, I LOVE their gear. My 1st line pistol mag pouches are 5.11, as are some of my PC-mounted rifle mag pouches, and my assault pack. Not a single complaint from me.

·         TAG/Shellback Tactical. –J.M.)

The guerrilla light-infantryman must consider the historical triumvirate of infantry duties: shoot, move, communicate. The necessity for mobility for the woodsman-scout paradigm of the light infantry leads to the oft-quipped line, “Travel light freeze at night.” While used as a self-mocking joke amongst infantrymen in the military, the humor is found in the truth. It is essential that the guerrilla ensure that every piece of gear on his fighting load is focused on the two tasks of shooting (fighting) and communicating.

The key phrase of “shooting” is actually intended to cover all of the actual tasks involved in fighting and killing the enemy. Primary among the logistical demands of this is, of course, ammunition for the primary personal small-arm, ideally a rifle. Opinions on how much ammunition the individual war-fighter should carry on his fighting load differs, based on who you ask and what their specific mission experience has been. Some tactical trainers insist that, for the armed citizen, no more than three or four rifle magazines will ever conceivably be needed. Former special operations sergeant-major Kyle Lamb (USA, retired) is an advocate of this approach, even for military special operations. As he explains in his excellent book “Green Eyes, Black Rifles,” three magazines of 30 rounds each, equals 90 rounds. Assuming it takes three rounds per bad guy to nail him to the ground, that still allows for 30 dead guys accounted for by each shooter before he runs out of ammunition. If a person is in THAT serious of a fight, then either he’ll have plenty of buddies around to borrow magazines from, or there will be plenty of rifles and magazines lying around to pick up. There’s quite a lot to be said for that argument, including the fact that such a minimalist load will do a great deal to ensure maximum mobility for the guerrilla light-infantryman.

On the other hand, unlike a military special operations soldier, the guerrilla does not have the option of counting on a regular re-supply of ammunition, nor the ability to readily call for a heli-borne quick-reaction force if help is needed. It is entirely possible, and far from uncommon, for every soldier in an unconventional warfare, small-unit element, such as an ODA, or a LRS team, to run through more than three magazines performing just one “Australian Peel” break-contact maneuver. Additionally, in the event of a contact, it is plausible that, while performing an exfiltration from the immediate battle area, a guerrilla unit could be forced into a further contact with pursuit forces, before having the opportunity to re-supply from a pre-positioned re-supply cache. It should be considered that the U.S. Army doctrinal “basic load” of ammunition, 210 rounds, could serve as a MINIMUM basic load for a guerrilla unit (As a young Ranger, I was blessed to have a squad leader who encouraged us to carry nine magazines on our old ALICE LBE, and one in the rifle. When I was an NCO, as an 18B, my personal rule was to carry 12 full magazines: one in my rifle, one in a “butt-cuff” pouch, and ten on my LBE. My current standard is 10 magazines: one in the rifle, one in a speed-reload pouch on my belt, and eight on my plate carrier or chest harness. All of my magazines are 30-round capacity, and all of my magazines are loaded to full-capacity. I’ve never suffered a malfunction due to the rumored propensity of 30-round M16 magazines to not function reliably with more than 28 in the box. –J.M.). While this certainly adds more weight to the load-out, the reduction in weight from other items that are unnecessary, attenuates this drawback. Considering the probabilities of being out-numbered and pursued by regime forces, it’s unlikely the guerrilla fighter will ever be carrying “too much ammunition.”

While a sidearm is considered part of the 1st line survival load, it should be noted that there are various options for carrying it, once the LBE is added. The obvious method for carry of the sidearm solely as part of the 1st line load is a concealed carry holster (Appendix, Inside-the-Waistband Glock 19 for me, since I know you were dying to ask, if I haven’t previously mentioned it. –J.M.). Once the guerrilla is carrying a fighting load, on LBE however, the facility of concealed carry holsters is greatly reduced. In these cases, any number of holsters might work, dependent on the preferences of the individual. It should be noted however, that it is important to remember that the sidearm is, ultimately a next-to-last-ditch weapon, followed only by the fighting knife and unarmed combatives. As such, it should remain attached to the individual, not the fighting load LBE (I have favored a drop-leg holster for as long as I’ve been able to carry a sidearm in the field. While some supposed internet “experts” deride these as suitable only for the airsoft crowd and “keyboard commandos,” this is ignorance speaking. Remember that this design was introduced to the world of gunfighting by none other than the British SAS. From the sands of North Africa in World War Two, to the Princess Gate hostage rescue, to the mountains of Afghanistan today, David Stirling’s boys stand second to no one as a fighting unit. The drop-leg holster is not intended to be worn hanging down to your knee like some Hollywood-mythic gunslinger, a la Angelina Jolie in “Tomb Raider.” It should be worn low enough to clear your body armor or LBE, but otherwise, as high as possible on the thigh. In such a position, it is more than adequately comfortable for long-term wear, and is still accessible when needed, as it will be when needed, in a hurry! –J.M.).

In addition to rifle ammunition and a sidearm (which is, ultimately, not to be considered any sort of mandatory item for the light-infantryman of any genre. While I would not forego my pistol to save a couple of pounds, there is legitimately, no reason for every war-fighter to “need” a sidearm…unless he feels he needs it), the 2nd line fighting load-out should include spare ammunition for the sidearm (I keep two spare magazines on my trouser belt as well.—J.M.) and a combat/utility knife.

The combat knife, like the 1st line survival load-out pocket knife, may very well see its primary usage for general field-craft and utility applications. On the other hand, it is far more likely than the 1st line knife, to be used in an anti-personnel role, so it should feature more characteristics of a “combat” knife. One perennially popular example among special operators (in my experience –J.M.) is the classic Marine Corps stand-by, the Kabar. Developed during World War Two and in constant service with the Corps since, the Kabar has a well-earned reputation as a general utility knife, as well as an effective fighting weapon (On the other hand, my personal choice is a Cold Steel push-dagger, despite the lack of utility for general field-craft chores. I carry plenty of utility knives. Since I have boxed for over 20 years, the delivery system of the push-dagger makes total sense to me, requires no difference in my combatives training program to use efficiently, and, well…I just like a push-dagger! –J.M.).

In addition to the actual weapons-specific fighting gear above, the last critical element of “fighting” gear on the fighting load-out of the guerrilla fighter should be an individual first-aid kit/”blow-out kit.” A serious injury or wound can be the single most mobility-reducing issue to impact the combat effectiveness of a guerrilla fighter. With the development of the military’s Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC or TC3) protocols, first adopted by USSOCOM in 2000, there exists a single, doctrinal methodology for providing battlefield aid to casualties that makes complete sense and takes into account the necessities of actual combat (If you are unfamiliar with these protocols, I suggest you spend some serious time studying and mastering them. They do, and will, save lives in combat! –J.M.). Predicated on actually receiving training in how to perform this protocol of care and wound management (preferably before getting into a firefight), an individual blow-out kit should be based around them. The equipment required is minimal, weighs very little, but will prevent death from most small-arms fire wounds if treated properly and rapidly. The TC3 protocols require trained medical personnel to execute above the basic, level one “Care Under Fire” guidelines, but in essence, should be considered an integral part of planning for medical care for the guerrilla force.

Beyond the fighting portion of the “shoot (fight), move, communicate” aspects of the 2nd line fighting load-out, the issue of communications within the guerrilla force should be considered. While there are ways to leverage the technology of two-way radios into the communications package of the guerrilla force/resistance effort, the communications security (COMSEC) protocols demanded are beyond the scope of this article. The use of two-way radios, especially FRS/GMRS radios (unlike many “survival” and “preparedness” writers, I recognize the weak transmission strengths of these line-of-sight radios as a strength, since it actually reduces the chance of successful signals intercept at any extended range. Further, in alpine environments, using ridge-top LP/OPs, the line-of-sight transmissions of these radios is more than sufficient for use in guerrilla base security networks. Additionally, their limited range is not an impediment for intra-unit communications needs. –J.M.) however, should never be allowed to overshadow the effectiveness and usefulness of written and/or oral communications, delivered via courier to the guerrilla force. There is a reason that guerrilla wars are referred to as “long wars.” Time ultimately, favors the guerrilla, if he maintains his security.

Ultimately, this is the fundamental load for the guerrilla 2nd line fighting load. While there are numerous other equipment items that could be useful for the guerrilla fighter to add, from STANO to breaching tools, these should be assessed on a mission-essential basis, and only added to the load, when needed or warranted. The above load, when combined with a 3rd line sustainment load, already exceeds the loads traditionally carried by historical guerrilla forces. The difference however, must be weighed.

Historically, guerrilla forces have not hesitated to “tax” the local civilian populace to support their efforts, as well as having been at a dramatic disadvantage due to the lack of available technological assets available. The potential future American guerrilla however, has no moral ground (in my opinion –J.M.) to tax the civilian populace, and should make every effort to leverage whatever technology he has available, as long as it does not in itself, become a burden by detracting from his field-craft skills and the application of true light-infantry tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Nous Defions!

John Mosby

Somewhere in the mountains.

23 January 2012

EQUIPPING THE GUERRILLA FIGHTER, PART ONE (The Survival Load)

The guerrilla fighter is a true light-infantryman in the classical sense of the term. He is essentially, a woodsman-scout. The guerrilla operates in a manner that emphasizes the expert use of his personal small-arms, the use of stealth in all of his movements, using the available terrain and cover to counter the supposed technological advantages possessed by regime forces, and an expert grasp of the fundamentals of small-unit, “hit-and-run” maneuver warfare.

The guerrilla possesses the trained ability to operate day and night, over varied, broken terrain, using his field-craft expertise and whatever technological assets are available to him, to escape enemy observation until he chooses to attack. When he moves, the guerrilla moves from one position of concealment to the next. He strives to utilize appropriate movement techniques to maximize the value of masking terrain. When not changing positions, the guerrilla remains motionless and hidden from observation by regime forces that may possess the most advanced STANO (Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Night Observation) tools available,

Like his woodsman-scout forebears, the guerrilla carries only the necessities to ensure his survival and combat effectiveness. Additional, unnecessary weight leads to excessive, accelerated fatigue, impedes and slows movement, and leads to a compromising over-reliance on the technology represented by the equipment, rather than his native wit and skill in field-craft.

The light-infantry paradigm is not found in Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicles, or even HUMVEE-mounted convoys to a disembarkation point two kilometers from an objective (although both of these certainly possess value in their own right). The light-infantry paradigm is found in field-craft, mobility, tactical expertise, and marksmanship. The ability to sneak inside the enemy’s reactionary gap un-noticed, strike with overwhelming violence-of-action at his weakest points, and then disappear into the surrounding environment before a reaction force can be mustered, is the key to interrupting the enemy’s OODA loop. This “hit-and-run” ability is the chief tactical advantage available to the irregular, small-unit force.

Conventional force militaries no longer possess a true light-infantry capability. The fundamental problem, over-burdening foot-mobile infantry soldiers has existed nearly as long as armies have existed. The modern development of advanced technological war-fighting assets has exacerbated the problem rather than remedying it. Despite the best efforts of military logisticians and theorists, the load of infantry forces has continued to increase. The modern, conventional-force “light” infantryman is often required to carry loads far in excess of 120 pounds, even when operating in difficult, broken, and steep terrain such as the alpine environment of the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan.

The load of infantry forces has been a subject of intense study since the 1700s, and is still a problem that has never been resolved. Technological advancements in weapons, STANO, communications, and personal protective equipment have added to the soldier’s load. This has only been partially mitigated by advancements in load-bearing technologies and attempts at miniaturization.

According to an unidentified infantry first sergeant of the 187th Infantry Regiment (“Rakkasans”) of the 101st Airborne Division, concerning load-bearing during Operation Anaconda during 2002,

We had extreme difficulty moving with all of our weight. If your movement would have been to relieve a unit in contact or a time-sensitive mission we would not have been able to move in a timely manner. It took us 8 hours to move 5 klicks. With just the vest (Interceptor Body Armor vest) and LBV, we were easily carrying 80 pounds. Throw on the ruck and you’re sucking.”

Studies conducted by the United States Army following World War Two found that the average infantry rifleman had carried approximately 55 pounds during movements in the field. These studies concluded that this was the maximum weight for an approach-march load that would still allow the fighter to fight effectively when he got to the fight. A decade later, a follow-on study determined that this still applied, but allowed for a maximum 48 pound fighting load in actual combat, if carried by a conditioned fighting soldier.

The fighting load is doctrinally defined as the actual load carried by a soldier during combat. The approach-march load, on the other hand, is the load carried by the soldier in order to get to the fight. It includes the necessary equipment to survive until he gets to the objective.

Despite the advances made as a result of these studies, by 2003, soldiers engaged in dismounted combat operations in the mountains of Afghanistan were carrying a 60-80 pound fighting load and an approach-march load that was often (during true dismounted operations, rather than vehicle-based patrols) in excess of 130 pounds. The heaviest loads, typically carried by M240 assistant machine-gunners, were often in excess of 150 pounds. These figures, it is important to remember, are the doctrinal loads, and do not include the almost inevitable inclusion of personal items by individual soldiers.

As the previous quote from the Rakkasan first sergeant illustrates, today’s conventional-force light-infantry soldier simply cannot move fast with his doctrinal load. Additionally, these loads were developed based on a regular re-supply via rotary-wing aircraft or ground-vehicle convoy every 48-72 hours.

The guerrilla fighter will not have these support assets. He will be forced to live out of his rucksack almost exclusively, with his re-supply provided by previously established caches hidden throughout the operational area. The guerrilla light-infantryman must overcome these liabilities. The ability to function as a woodsman-scout will be absolutely crucial to the survivability of the guerrilla fighter.

The survival load/fighting load/sustainment load model is a useful framework for the logistics planning of the future guerrilla. The surest way for the guerrilla to maximize his ability to apply his light-infantry capabilities is to minimize his load-bearing requirements while utilizing re-supply caches and safe-houses throughout the operational area.

The survival load is the items that the individual warfighter carries on his person, either in hand, in his pockets, or on his belt, but not attached to the fighting load-bearing equipment. The concept behind the survival load is that it will allow the operator to escape and evade hostile pursuit and survive indefinitely, if not comfortably, long enough to return to the control of friendly forces. For the guerrilla fighter, this is the perfect goal for the survival load. While the guerrilla is unlikely to conduct combat operations without the benefit of his fighting and survival loads, there are numerous reasons that he may need to have mastered the survival load concept. Whether conducting a clandestine infiltration of denied, regime-controlled territory to conduct an operation, or simply the need to dump all of his personal gear in order to run faster while trying to escape an overwhelming enemy force while breaking contact, the guerrilla must develop and carry a survival load that takes into account his personal field-craft and knowledge.

Too often, even among survival “experts,” the solution to the survival load idea is misinterpreted as a hardware issue. The trend to rely on a survival “kit” is not the answer. The guerrilla fighter should never rely on the “Altoids can survival kit.” Instead, the focus should be on the effective use of the tools he would normally carry on his person, facilitated by proper field-craft and survival knowledge. As in everything for the guerrilla, software trumps hardware.

At its fundamental level, the survival load consists of:

·         Sidearm. In extreme evasion scenarios, or covert operations conducted in regime-controlled built-up areas, this will function as your primary arm. The primary attributes necessary are that it be utterly, unfailingly reliable, and readily concealable. Because of its role as a personal defense weapon, perhaps in direct-action combat missions, as opposed to simple self-defense against one or two hostiles, a magazine-fed, high-capacity semi-automatic pistol is the ideal choice.

·         Knife. This is a field-utility knife. While the possibility of its use as a combative weapon should not be overlooked, this knife is far more likely to be used for fire-building, shelter and hide-site construction, and the manufacture of traps and snares under survival conditions than it is to be used for silencing enemy sentries by stabbing them in the throat. While a fixed-blade knife may be the ideal, a stout folding knife, kept suitably sharp, more than adequately fills this role, while simultaneously being eminently more concealable (in the interest of intellectual honesty, I feel obligated to note that I carry a Cold Steel push-dagger for an EDC knife, and generally have no fewer than three folding knives on my person at any given time. As a team sergeant once pointed out to me, “Sergeant Mosby, a man can just never have too many knives on his-self!” My Victorinox Swiss Army knife probably gets more daily use than any other tool I own, of any sort. –J.M.)

·         Sun/Safety Glasses. In the mid-1990s, the Ranger Regiment issued Ray-Ban sunglasses as part of a new Ranger’s central supply issue. Nevertheless, Rangers were not allowed to wear them, because it was considered non-uniform (WTFO? I never did understand that. –J.M.). Today, thanks to the advances developed by operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the use of safety lenses is generally accepted as mandatory. Polarized, tinted lenses during daylight, with ANSI Z87 safety ratings will increase visual clarity, reduce eye strain and fatigue, and protect the war-fighter’s eyes from battlefield debris and some shrapnel. The two most popular manufacturers of “tactical” sunglasses are Oakley and Wiley X, but any tinted safety glasses will suffice, and may look far less conspicuous than the latest cool-guy, CDI selections from U.S. Cavalry (again, in the interest of intellectual honesty, I have to admit, I wear Oakleys for work, and Wiley X for daily wear. –J.M.)

·         Cordage. Cordage is, rightly, considered a critical tool in the survivor’s tool kit. The simple truth is, there is no such thing as too much cordage in a survival situation. Many long-range surveillance units (LRSU, the operational descendants of the older LRRPs) and some ODAs, make it part of their standard operating procedure (SOP) to replace the laces in their field boots with 550 cord. It’s out of the way, readily accessible, and the operator is never without the requisite material to construct field-expedient shelters, snares, fishing lines and nets, and even poncho rafts for water-crossing operations (to this day, every pair of boots I own has had the laces replaced with 550 cord. –J.M.).

·         Compass. While the woodsman-scout background of the guerrilla light-infantryman means the fighter should possess the ability to determine directions, at least roughly, without a compass, he should rarely, if ever, be without a compass. The ability to reliably traverse terrain that the enemy considers impenetrable is the strength of the guerrilla. Possessing a compass, whether a standard orienteering compass on a lanyard around the neck, or a simple button compass on a watchband, should be considered a necessity for the guerrilla, as part of his ability to escape and evade when needed.

·         Fire Starter. This may be a simple waterproof match-safe stuffed with weather-proofed “hurricane-lifeboat” matches, a flint striker, or a flint-and-steel kit. The serious survival expert will never allow himself to be caught without some means that he can use reliably, to build a warming fire to stay alive.

·         Water Purification. The final aspect of the survival load that can never be overlooked is the ability to procure or manufacture safe drinking water. Historically, evaders have suffered horribly from dysentery after being forced by necessity, to drink stagnant, putrid water infested with bacteria. It is critical that the guerrilla devise a method of purifying water on the run in an evasion scenario. With the prevalence of store-bought bottled drinking water, soda, and sports drink, the guerrilla should always be able to find a receptacle to carry his water, as long as he can purify it to make it safe for drinking. Whether a small container of iodine tablets, a filter straw, or a pocket-sized, “standard” water purifier, it is critical to possess safe, clean drinking water to stay alive, healthy, and effective ( I use a product called “ION Stabilized Oxygen” for water purification. I’ve used it all over the world, purifying water from stock tanks and ditches, without ever getting ill. It’s smaller, lighter, and more effective than any micro-filter I’ve ever seen or used, and I can keep a bottle in the pocket of my jeans without noticing it.

Different experts on survival will recommend different elements to add to the “survival load.” When considering it as part of a layered, tiered approach to guerrilla equipment however, a minimalist approach, reinforced by proper field-craft training and survival knowledge, will more than adequately provide the essentials needed to keep the guerrilla fighter alive during escape and evasion scenarios in the remote chance that he has to ditch his fighting and sustainment loads, or is compromised and forced to E&E during covert operations in denied territory that precludes the carry and use of the normal fighting load.

Part Two of this article will discuss the layout of the guerrilla fighting load, with Part Three covering the sustainment load. The final installment, Part Four, will discuss strategies for the construction and use of re-supply caches.

Nous Defions!

John Mosby

Somewhere in the mountains