We move slowly through the dense morning fog, for all appearances simply dark shadows slipping silently through the forest. Each man constantly scans his area of responsibility around the patrol while also keeping track of each others disposition. Foot placement is carefully considered to avoid snapping twigs or rustling brush. Slippery moss-covered stones and logs are stepped over or around to avoid injury due to the burden of our heavy kit or leaving any sign of our passing. Branches in the way are lightly grasped with gloved hands, slowly moved to the side or up to allow for better vision and ease of movement. After passing they are slowly returned to their former position to avoid quick movement or noise when released and to avoid tell-tale breakage.

The predominant sound in the woods is the steady dripping of the mist from the trees which, along with the thoroughly soaked and rotting leaves covering the forest floor, helps to mask our footfalls. With experience from extensive time spent in the back country, we all understand that while this weather is not the best for a stroll in the woods, it is great for patrolling. The untrained eye of the casual observer traveling through the area would be hard pressed to notice our passage along our route-of-march.

Quite frequently while walking point, Andy stops and slowly drops to a knee, using a nearby tree or boulder for concealment, to thoroughly scan under the low branches in and around our path. He looks though the brush and beyond the trees and foliage surrounding us for movement and anything that does not belong or look natural. Some patrol leaders let the point man set the pace. However, this method can cause members of the patrol to lose contact with one another or move like an accordion through the woods. Our method is to let the last man in the patrol set the pace. If I felt we were moving along too fast, when the man in front of me would turn and notice I was lagging behind, he would then stop until I caught up. We have worked together long enough that this was not a problem we encounter very often.

We trekked just below the ridge top along the northern side of the spur heading west on an azimuth of roughly 260 degrees magnetic. As the trees thinned and the terrain opened, we automatically spread out into a diamond formation, still just within visual contact of one another. Jim, the second or even-numbered man in the file, now moves to the right, and Al, the third or odd-numbered man moves to the left. Each man would still be responsible for watching their sector, right and left respectively. I, being the last man in the file, stay roughly aligned with Andy in the front. This makes communications between members of the team tricky. Now, the lead man needs to ensure both men behind him see his hand-and-arm signals. A signal from one of the men on the flanks would need to be seen by the man on the other flank. The diamond movement formation is our primary formation used during a 4 man patrol since it allows 75% of the teams firepower to be concentrated any direction. While the file formation is very easy to control, it only allows a small percentage of the patrols total firepower to be projected to the front or rear of the formation, in our case 25% or one man.  At least until the even and odd-numbered men step out to the right and left flanks, respectively, in relation to the point man. Then they must each move forward until they are in a line abreast in order to avoid fratricide. This is not a simple battle drill, especially at night, and requires extensive rehearsal.

Soon Jim’s pace count indicates we are below the saddle in the ridge above and he passes the halt signal up and down the patrol. After the patrol halts and everyone has taken a knee, he touches his support hand to the heel of his left boot (pace count) then bumps his support fist once on his carbine and held up 5 fingers bumps it again, and holds up 4 for a total of 900 meters traveled. He then points to the top of the ridge. We all give Jim a thumbs up to indicate we understand. Andy and I both check our route cards against our memory, then set the next azimuth, 225 magnetic, into our compasses and the patrol moves out along the new azimuth.

Due to the thick fog, Andy can’t see the two hilltops at the top of the ridge to verify we are in the saddle. He does recognize that the ground on both sides is now rising and that the pace count is positive we were nearing the top of the saddle. Before crossing the saddle, Andy sends back the hand-and-arm signal “Rally Point”, indicating the saddle as our next en-route rally point. That would activate the last en-route point, the RON. In order to minimize his profile and to avoid silhouetting the patrol when crossing the ridge line in the saddle, Andy now drops on all fours and began a modified high crawl. We fall back into the file and follow suit. As I cross I momentarily let my head and shoulders drop to rest my arms on my elbows and am quickly rewarded when my ruck suddenly slides forward and slams my face into the ground. Spitting leaves and dirt out of my mouth, I roll onto my back in order to get the ruck off of my head then roll again back on all fours. Looking up ahead, I notice Al has crossed over the ridge line and is almost out of sight. I began moving forward again, ignoring my aching shoulders and arms.

I think to myself, “Got to do more push-ups and chin-ups when we get back home.”

After we cross over the ridge and have moved a few meters down the spur, the danger of silhouetting ourselves against the skyline has passed. We stand, fall back into the diamond formation and continue toward the road ahead. I soon call a rest halt where we drop into the prone, rest, hydrate, and set the next azimuth into our compasses. As usual, security is paramount, so we are each in the prone behind and under cover or at least concealment and are each scanning our sector. While resting the fog begins to switch over to a light rain. I glance over at Jim who was giving me one of his infamous “This is starting to suck” looks. I shrug and pull my snivel gear from the top section of my ruck. He watches as I put on the light Gortex MossyOak jacket and pants and then one-at-a-time each man follows suit. Even though the rustling sound of the rain gear can be noisy, the sound of the falling rain will counter-act it and the gear will protect us from hypothermia in the chilly spring air.

Soon we start back down the south face of a spur falling away from the ridge above.  After about 20 minutes, and a pace count of 400 meters, we all know that we are within 100 meters of the road and the bench mark pillar. Suddenly Al stops short, calls a halt, then puts his hand over his ear (since he is monitoring the scanner through the ear bud in his ear, this is our team signal indicating he is picking something up) and takes a knee. We all go into the prone.  I watch Al for a few seconds as he is writing intently in his storm pad, then shift my position to monitor his sector as well as mine. After few minutes he motions me over to his location. I rise to a low crouch and move slowly to his side and drop into the prone next to him, now both watching our separate sectors. Al hands me his open pad where I quickly read the following:

030835RMAR20 GRID 01206545

1. SS8* 462.5625M/FM**
0835** Voice 1: “Lewis, this is Wade’?” (Male, nasally)
0837 Voice 1: “Lewis, you there?”

2. SS3 Freq Same
0837 Voice 2: “Yeah, whats up!?” (Male, gravelly baritone, sounds angry, loud, over-driven mic )

3. SS8 Voice 1: “Lewis, were at the end of the hard road at the top of the mountain. There’s nothin’ up here but a foot trail that follows the ridge.  We’re turnin’ back. (Voice 1 drops gs at the end of words, southern accent)

4. SS2 Voice 2: “No houses at all above those two we hit already?”

5. SS8 Voice 1: “None so far. We took another side road through the woods comin’ up. We’ll check the rest of the hard road down to those houses on the way down.”

6. SS1 Voice 2: “What’s on the other side of the mountain at the top?” (Lots of static, signal popping in and out).

7. SS8 Voice 1: “Can’t tell, fogs too thick, we can smell smoke though. Somebody’s burnin’ wood down there”.

8. SS1 Voice2:  “All right, that’s good to know. Get on back, I’ve got other work for you.”

9. SS8 Voice 1: “On the way”. Sound of engine starting in the background.

0839 EOT***

* (SS is signal strength 1 to 10, a rough, subjective indication of range of the emitter from the communications receiver due to the signal strength bar display on the receiver)                                                                                                                                                                             **(Time of transmission with time zone indicator, in this case Romeo time zone)
*** (F is the Frequency of the Emitter, in this case 462.5625 Mhz channel 1 FRS / FM – Type of modulation
**** (End Of Transmission)

I nod to Al,  “Good work man. I’ll pass it on to Jim and Andy. Sit tight”.

I move to Jim’s position. “Sounds like we have some company using a FRS HT (Handy-Talky or hand held radio) nearby checking for houses along the road. The other end was weak, probably not close by.  Heard a vehicle on the radio also. Might be using the road up ahead.”

Jim just nods his head and continues to peer toward the road through the light rain. I leave him to his thoughts and move on to Andrew’s position at point.  When I give the news to Andy, he grimaces slightly and whispers “OK.”

“Keep your head on a swivel, that first signal was pretty close. Let’s get a move on.”, I reply.

“Not that it is necessary to tell him that”, I think to myself.  Andy’s got eyes like an eagle, which gives him the uncanny ability to spot anything out-of-place.

I motion us up and forward. As the patrol makes its way down the east side of the small spur just below its ridge line, and passes my position where I had been with Andy, I take up my position at the rear. We only move about 50 meters when Jim holds up a tight fist “Freeze”. He was facing downhill but now has turned his head to the east. After a few seconds of listening, he touches his ear with his support hand, indicating he has heard something unusual, makes the hand-and-arm signal for vehicle, a “V” formed with the index and middle finger of his support hand palm facing toward himself and then points to the east using the same hand, all fingers and thumb extended.

Looking quickly at the terrain around us, I decide I want us on-line, parallel to and facing down the slope toward the road below us as quickly as possible. I signal for a”Hasty Ambush”, my index finger pointed skyward and the thumb parallel to the ground forming an “L” with the remaining fingers folded to the palm. I then sweep the same hand one time from left to right parallel to the road. This is not our first rodeo and it shows: everyone immediately moves to concealed positions. We had rehearsed this battle drill many times prior to leaving on our patrol. Also, in the past couple of years as times had gotten hard, and then even harder, some seriously evil human predators have descended on our little valley, as well as on our neighboring communities, giving us the opportunity to defend our home turf and to conduct several real world hasty and prepared ambushes.

As I move forward to the left flank, I pass Al who has already set up in a small depression behind Andy’s position and now faces to the rear providing security in that direction.  I set up behind a large stone to the left of Jim, facing about 45 degrees off axis of the road providing left flank security. Jim is now in the prone providing security on the right flank facing 45 degrees in the opposite direction while Andy has set up in the center facing the road. We are now in a rough line, parallel to the road below, spaced out about 20 feet apart. This would be the same hasty ambush battle drill for a large combat patrol, but for our small unit this was now our defensive position battle drill. Because we are a 4 man R&S patrol, we have no intention of conducting an ambush. We’re merely using the drill to get us into a well protected, hidden position with 360 degree security in the event we are compromised and need to break contact. We are set up about 35 yards above a narrow paved road named Ben Creek Road on the map. Directly in front of Jim’s position a small tree has fallen across the road, blocking it totally.

Soon we all hear the faint sound of a small diesel engine approaching from the east, or up the road, moving toward our position. Now I pick out the movement of a large green 4 door all-terrain vehicle with yellow wheels making its way down the road. From my position, using my binoculars while laying in the prone, I can just make out the face of a man behind the wheel as the single small wiper sweeps quickly across the windshield. The UTV comes to a slow stop just outside of my peripheral vision in front of the tree blocking the road. I catch myself trying to shrink even closer into the ground as my breathing becomes shallow. I am looking for any target of opportunity.

Before the vehicle pulled up, Jim had already retrieved his binoculars from the exterior pocket of the ruck he was laying next to. The old fallen tree stump in front of him provides good concealment.

“Now it’s time to put all the “Kim’s Game” stuff that Dan had us practice to use.” Jim thought to himself as he was adjusting the pair of small binos. “What was it he always said?…… KIM means Keep-In-Mind. Yeah, another of the bazillion acronyms the Army used.”

Glassing the vehicle with his binos, Jim is amazed at its size. 4 wheels in the back under the bed and two at the front. Green and yellow: “John Deere” he whispers to no one in particular. Jim is able to read the sign on the door. Under the picture of a fish the lettering reads “Kyle Trout Farm”. Jim vaguely remembers a visit to the trout farm a few years back when things were normal. It was a Mom and Pop operation run by a pretty good fellow with a nice family. He is trying to make out the occupants behind the fogged up side windows when the noisy little diesel shuts down, the doors swing open, and four men step out into the rain. Jim watches them intently as they stand gazing at the tree blocking their path. The tree had fallen in such a way, suspended about 2 feet above the road bed due to the high banks on both sides, that the group would not be able to drive the UTV over it. The trees and brush on both sides of the road are too thick and the banks are too steep to allow them to circumnavigate.

“This ain’t rocket surgery guys, ” Jim thinks to himself, “Your going to have to move it or go back the way you came.”

Jim studies the men closely making mental notes to transcribe later in his SALUTE report. They are a rough-looking group. All four are deeply tanned indicating a recent life in the outdoors and only one looks old enough to be called an adult. The other three appear to be older teenagers. The older man, who had been riding shotgun, is dressed in filthy blue jeans,  muddy cowboy boots and an old faded woodland pattern BDU shirt with a military patch on the right sleeve.

“Looks like the head of a black bird screaming at the sky on the patch.” Jim thinks. “Have to ask Dan what that stands for.”

The man has long stringy, unwashed dirty blonde hair falling out from under his tan ball cap. The hair matches his thin beard. His sleeves are partly rolled up and his exposed arms, hands and fingers are covered with tattoos as is his neck. Jim also notices when he moves that the right side of his shirt is tucked behind a holstered sidearm.

“Looks like a semi-automatic pistol in a black fabric holster. One of those cheap clip-over-the-belt types. Maybe a spare mag in the pocket attached to the front of it.” Jim notes to himself.

He is carrying, slung over his right shoulder, muzzle up, what appears to be an AR-15, with the collapsible stock retracted completely, and iron sights. A magazine is inserted, the bolt is locked to the rear, dust cover open and there is mud smeared on the butt plate.

“Doesn’t appear like he’s too worried about running that weapon in a hurry. And so much for weapons maintenance” Jim concludes.

He can see no outright evidence of him carrying additional magazines except for the bulge in the lower right pocket of his BDU shirt. But then he notices the bent, short black whip of an HT radio sticking out of his right back pocket.

“Bingo.” Jim says to himself. “Wade with the whinny voice is right-handed.”

The skinny driver has long greasy black hair under an old blue ball cap, a scruffy beard and lots of piercings. Ears and nose.  He also wears bent wire framed glasses. As he moves to the front of the vehicle next to Wade, Jim notes he was wearing dirty black pants, with the left knee torn out, which are tucked at the bottom into old scuffed black combat boots. He is also wearing a fairly new, brown denim jacket about three sizes to big. More importantly, in his left hand he is carrying a beat up wooden stocked SKS without a sling. No optics, only iron sights. As he appears to be talking to Wade, he gestures and points at the fallen tree with the carbine.

“Wonder were Skinny Man is carrying his extra ammo?” He thinks, “Maybe in his jacket pocket? And where did he come across that clean jacket? It doesn’t match the other dirty clothes he’s wearing. No sling, watch him set that SKS down and walk away from it. Wonder if he can use those iron sights with those dirty glasses? Wonder if its even BZO’d?” Jim remembered Dan requesting Martin to authorize extra ammo for the patrol to Battlesite Zero our weapons before leaving the retreat.

Jim now watches Wade talking to the others and motioning toward the tree. They were too far away to make out what was being said, but it appeared that he is giving orders to the others.

“So, Wades the boss of this crew” Jim makes another mental note.

Another stooped over scrawny teen with long brown hair is carrying a bolt-action hunting rifle with a wood stock in his right hand. It also has no sling and by the diameter of the barrel it appears to be a .22. He is wearing filthy green pants, a gray hoodie type sweater and muddy black boots.

The last man is a short, stocky fellow with dark features, with his long dark hair tied into a pony tail. He walks with a noticeable limp, and is carrying a rusty AKM, with the standard brown stock, slung upside down over his back, magazine inserted. Again, no optics. The sling appears to be made of rope. When Shorty turns his back him,  Jim can see that the bolt is forward and the safety selector is in the “fire” position.

“Holy Crap, what a cluster this bunch is. I’m surprised any of them have lived long enough for their weapons to rust.”

Shorty is wearing a dark rain jacket, black pants, low-cut black leather shoes and a dark green boonie style hat with a wide brim. Jim sees he has a wooden revolver handle protruding from an old leather holster and a large, wooden handled knife in a leather sheath, both on his right hip. Again, no sign of spare magazines or ammo. Jim makes a mental note of the fact that Shorty also has several long fresh bloody scratches down his right cheek and neck.

“How did they get the UTV and diesel to run it with?” he wonders to himself.  He doesn’t remember the trout farm being big enough for the owners to have any employees working for them.

Jim watches as the three move to the tree. Then Skinny leans his SKS  against the vehicle, while Hoodie lays his on the road.

“Yep, that figures.” thinks Jim.

The three squat under the tree and attempt to pick it up and move it. After a few minutes of playing with the hand-held radio while leaning against the hood, Wade walks up behind them, slaps Hoodie on the back of the head and points to the winch mounted on the front of the UTV. After a few minutes of discussion, they have the cable played out and are hooking it around the tree. While the three stooges are working on the cable and tree, Jim watches as Wade walks back around to the passenger side of the UTV, drop his pants, squats and defecates on the road.

“Wonderful.” Jim thinks. “Just what I wanted to see today.”

Now Jim can read the tags sewn on Wades shirt just above the pockets: “CONNER” on the left and “US ARMY” on the right.  When Wade finishes, he stands, pulls up and fastens his pants, then walks around to the driver’s side. He yells something at the group, opens the driver’s door and climbs in. He promptly starts the UTV, puts it in reverse and pulling the cable taught, with the help of the trio pushing on the opposite side of the tree, tugs the crown end of the tree far enough into the center of the road to open a space that the UTV can now pass through. Wade then shuts down the vehicle, opens the door, leans out and shouts at the group. While the trio works in the rain unhooking and retrieving the cable, Wade slides back over to the passenger side and appears to be eating something with his hands from a large glass jar. Soon the others have disconnected and reeled in the cable, loaded up and are passing the downed tree that is now out of their way. Wade tosses the empty glass jar out of the window into the grass beside the pavement. Soon they disappear down the road to the west and the sound of the little diesel fades away.

After waiting silently for 5 minutes, Andy wonders “What are we waiting for?”

He finally turns in Jim’s direction with a questioning look and gives him the “What?” signal, both palms facing up and raised simultaneously a few inches. Jim looks back at him, then points to the road directly in front of his position. On the road, partially hidden under the repositioned tree, lies Hoodie’s .22 bolt gun. Andy sends Jim the “OK/I acknowledge” sign: a thumbs up.

Sure enough, within a few minutes, Jim gets our attention and signals “enemy approaching” from his flank, using the “L” shape, thumb pointing toward the ground, index finger facing the direction of the “enemy”. Shortly we see a lone, wet, miserable looking Hoodie come into view slowly running up the road toward the fallen tree, where he stops and sits down on it, sides heaving, with his head between his knees.

“So much for the Buddy Team concept.” Thinks Jim. “If we were a combat patrol we could snatch this lone guy, easy, and no one would notice. Probably would spill his guts in a heartbeat.”

After a few minutes to get his breath back, Hoodie stands, looks around and sees his rifle under the tree, retrieves it, and while turning to leave, promptly steps in Wade’s pile of feces on the road. When he looks down and realizes what he’s stepped in, he shouts and throws the rifle to the pavement, breaking the wooden stock into 2 pieces. Suddenly realizing what he’s done, Hoodie stops and stares silently at the broken rifle for a few seconds, picks up the broken pieces and shuffles down the road, head down and soon disappears out of sight.

“Ah, why so sad Hoodie?”, Jim chuckles silently in his head. “A little duct tape and it’ll be good as new. Wade probably wont even notice”.

NC_Wayah Bald_165034_1957_24000_geo-001-001 Story part 4

Quote  —  Posted: 03/24/2015 in The Patrol


Read & heed, kids.

Originally posted on 3% Signal Corps:


  • Everyone in the group should have the same model of radio. It makes logistics of accessories such as microphones and batteries easier.
  • Radio model should have readily available accessories.
  • Radios should be rugged enough for heavy field (ab)use.
  • Radios should be capable of operating off of common alkaline batteries. Most HTs capable of doing so will take either AAs or AAAs.
  • Radios should be able to run on 12V DC, either directly or via an adapter.
  • Radios should be frequency agile, or front panel programmable. Ham HTs are. Most commercial LMR HTs are not unless they are specifically mentioned as being FPP. Amateur radios should have fairly easy “MARS/CAP” extended frequency coverage modification. Your mileage may vary.
  • Radios should preferably have a BNC or SMA type antenna connector, for ease of attaching gain-type antennas. This is not a problem with ham HTs. Many commercial LMR HTs will not.

The best…

View original 624 more words

The Patrol – Chapter 3

Posted: 02/13/2015 in The Patrol

I signaled the two junior members of the patrol, Al and Andy, to pull security while Jim and I lay on the ground behind our rucks, close to the southern edge of our RON.

“Jim, I said quietly, show me today’s route.”.

Jim pulled out his map case, opened it and studied the map under the clear plastic cover for a few minutes.  Then, looking around into the thick fog enveloping us, he struggled to get his bearings from the terrain around us in order to orient the map. Finally he gave up due to the poor visibility, he couldn’t see any terrain features. He took his primary compass from the same case and after opening the top, he placed it on the map with one edge of the compass lined up with the maps north-south grid lines. He rotated the map until the needle and the lines matched up. Satisfied, he lifted the compass to his eyes, rotated to the right a few degrees and nodded in the direction of a large oak tree about 50 meters outside the thicket.

“That oak tree’s dead on our first legs azimuth” he said. “That’s the way we leave the RON.

Next he retrieved an aerial photo dated 2013 and placed it beside the map. It covered part of the same area, but was much more up-to-date than the 1978 map. Since the internet had quit working, at least in our neck-of-the-woods, it was the best we could do. Fortunately for us, Elizabeth, one of the intel. gals, had downloaded the aerials of the entire AI to her computer a few years ago. Even better, she had also printed out and stored the same photos in a binder for future use. If we needed one that she didn’t have, she still had a limited ability to print them. Elizabeth also had stuffed a cabinet full of various topo maps of the AI.

Using a blade of grass as a pointer, he indicated our RON site on the map and began tracing the primary route as he quietly spoke.

“From here, we move west along the side of the spur to the south of our present position, the one that parallels Ben Creek road, hand-railing just below the ridge line so we don’t silhouette ourselves. We follow it until we hit the saddle, cross over in the saddle and down the south side along this smaller spur to the southwest, toward the survey benchmark shown in this clearing on the road. That saddle will also be our next rally point”.

By comparing the map and photo side-by-side, it was obvious that new roads and buildings had been built since the map was last updated. Others had vanished. Forest had been cleared and old pastures had grown over. However, the terrain on the photo appeared flat and featureless, so we would still rely on the map to determine the terrain features along our planned route.

“O.K., what happens if there’s company on the road?” I asked.

“We sit tight, gather intel., and wait for them to move. If they don’t, we go around them.

I raised an eyebrow and asked “Intel. ?”

He frowned as he realized his mistake.

“You got me” he sighed. “We gather whatever information we can in the SALUTE format, and send it back to Elizabeth. She looks it over, works her spook magic and turns it into intel.”

I nodded and said, “Something like that. You think we can find that benchmark? It could be gone.”

“If we can’t find the post, no big deal. The photo is only 8 years old and the clearing was there then….” he paused pondering. Then added “and it’s shown on the map in the same location. We can use the clearing as the checkpoint instead. Also, look at the photo here.” He tapped the picture with the grass. “It looks like another dirt road intersects with the main road there. That’s not on the map. That will help us lock down our location.”

I nodded in agreement. “Then what?”

“We skirt the clearing, cross the road and Ben Creek, move off the road, about 100 meters south, depending on terrain, turn west and hand-rail the road, counting the draws as we go, until we hit Cold Spring Road. That’s our backstop. There we turn south-west, follow….I mean we handrail the hard road as it makes this hard swing back to the east. We cross the road and Whiteoak Creek where it intersects Holloway Branch. Then we follow the branch up into the draw and find the nastiest place we can to set up the MSS.”

I noticed he was intently watching for my for reaction.

I nodded again.

“Good job Jim. A couple of things to remember: the photo shows some houses that aren’t on the map, on the other side of the road just before we get to Cold Springs Road. Also, according to the photos, it appears like some new dirt roads have been cut in and new houses built around the area of our planned MSS. We need to be on our toes in both areas. And, we’ve got to have line-of-sight from the MSS to the hide to get comms between the two with the DTRs . We need room at the MSS for Al to set up his wire HF antenna for comms back home. Do you remember all the azimuths? This fog won’t break any time soon, so I don’t know how much terrain association we’ll be doing today.”

“Yep, he answered, I’ve written them up, azimuths only.”

He handed me a small sheet of green paper. The text on it was handwritten neatly in pencil and the paper was from a small weather-proof storm pad. The letters would not smear and the paper would not dissolve easily if it got wet.

“Andy checked them last night.”

He was still watching my reaction because he knew the risk of writing mission information down where it could be compromised.

Now I understood what Andy had been doing last night. I’d noticed he’d been laying face down in his position, propped up on his elbows, with his poncho over the top portion of his body and head to block the escape of any light. Instead of sleeping, (he seemed to always function just fine without much) he apparently had been using a red lens flashlight to go over the map, double checking the route figures one last time just in case we had gotten it wrong during planning. No one had asked him to, he just did it. These were good men.

Carefully looking over the sheet, I checked to ensure it contained only the azimuths from the RON to the MSS. Back on the team, this information would have had to been memorized, not written down, or marked on a map. I let them get away with this one as long as our maps were clean and the distances between the points and our check points were not recorded. If a list was lost or one of us was captured, no one could use the information to find the path from the RON back to our homes in the cove.

“Thanks man, this might come in handy. Did you make one for the others?”

“Sure did, 4 copies, he stated.”

“Did you check Andy’s map to make sure he didn’t mark it up last night?” I asked while stowing my copy of the sheet in my map case.

“Yep, it was clean.” he replied, nodding.

I rolled out of the prone and crouched on my knees near him while he was putting the last of his gear into his ruck.

Time for pre-mission equipment and personnel checks. This was a ritual for us before we started any patrol and during the patrol if we stopped for an extended period and removed equipment from our rucks. While it seemed a waste of time to the newcomer and might seem demeaning to an old hand; treating everyone on the team like a Private, it kept everyone honest and helped build a very basic leadership skill – looking out for your troops. I took over security for Andy so that he and Jim could do their check as a team.

Andy stood in full equipment, including his weapons, in front of Jim, hands on his head. Jim pulled the first three inverted mags on Andy’s plate carrier, checked to see if they were full and replaced them in the same orientation.

“Canteens full?” Jim fired off quietly, not taking his eyes off of Andy’s gear.

“Yessir” Andy drawled.

“VS-17?” Jim asked.

Andy pulled the boonie cap from his head and held it so that Jim could see a bright orange 6″ square section of a VS-17 panel sewn into the underside of his cap. The VS-17 panel is a large nylon signalling panel used by the military for short to medium range identification and signalling. One side is fluorescent orange and the other is magenta. We had larger 12′ panels stored in each of our rucks.

Jim nodded and Andy replaced the cap.

Jim circled around him looking over his gear, occasionally tugging at a strap or fitting. He was looking for any loose, shiny or noisy items. He stopped on his right side and unzipped the top of Andy’s BOK (Blow Out Bag) or IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) and quickly checked the contents. Jim had him jump up and down a few times listening for loose or noisy gear. There was a soft metal-on-metal tapping coming from one of the pockets. Jim opened it and found the source; two metal magazines had fallen out of their bandolier. He repacked and secured them.

“O.K. hero, let’s try it again, he whispered.

This time there was no sound.

“Better” he said. “Canteens full?”


“Good, Check your weapons”

Andy nodded and performed a press check and function check on his AR and sidearm with Jim watching. Jim nodded approvingly as Andy finished up.

Jim patted him on the butt and said “Good-to-go Hot Rod, now my turn”

Andy helped him get his ruck on and started on his check.

“Jim, you missed a spot of camo on the back of your neck, give me your stick”

Jim handed him a green and loam camo stick that he pulled out of the zipper pouch under the ammo pouches on his plate carrier and Andy covered the white spot on his neck. Handing it back, Andy continued to check his equipment.

“Change your socks today Troop?” Andy quipped, doing his best John Wayne impersonation.

“Yeah, Jim said grinning, wouldn’t want the smell to give us away.

When he got to Jim’s AR-15, Andy spotted a piece of green 100 mph tape, that was used to silence the front sling swivel, was coming lose. When he pointed it out, Jim turned and asked Andy to retrieve a small flattened roll of the tape from a rear pocket of his ruck. Jim replaced the tape on the swivel, checked to ensure it was not loose and then asked Andy to stow the old piece of tape in his ruck with other trash in a zip-lock bag. When he was satisfied Jim was squared away, he returned the butt tap and said “O.K. Big Guy”

Finished with their inspection, Al and I took our turn while Jim and Andy took security. We finished quickly and soon we were ready to go. We made one last sweep to check for items left behind.

I took a knee near Jim, who was scanning his sector.

“Jim, Al and I are going to set up comms and make the shot.”

“Roger that” he replied without looking up.

Our team communications SOP  required all radio shots to take place at least one click (Kilometer) or one major terrain feature from our Patrol Base. Or if the Patrol Base was used for a transmission site, it must be abandoned immediately. The only exception was when we used the frequency hopping Motorola DTR.

During  our movement on the previous day we had used one of the Motorola DTR 550s handheld radios to report our progress to Joe back at the retreat as we reached each checkpoint per our Operations Order (OPORD).  The Motorola had no problem making the line-of-sight shot on the way up the eastern slope of Burningtown Mountain, but once we crossed over the ridge line and moved westward down into the valley below, we knew the mountain would block the UHF transmissions.

Now Al would have to put up a very long wire antenna to make an HF radio shot that would reflect off of the ionosphere above us and reach our retreat just on the other side of the mountain. This special process is known as Near Vertical Incident Skywave or NVIS. Joe and I had practiced it on a daily basis, with other like-minded ham radio operators throughout the region, for a few years now. Initially we’d had quite a few problems setting up the net, but thanks to the perseverance of a few key operators in the region, we had worked through the issues and created a very dependable network. Not only would it fill in the gaps caused by the surrounding terrain, eliminating the need for mountaintop VHF and UHF repeaters (repeaters which were all now dead due to lack of electricity), it was much harder to locate HF transmitters with direction finding (DF) equipment.

The antenna Al needed to set up would be 128′ long and would run parallel to and about 12′ above the ground with two thin wire elements, each approximately 64′ long. It is connected in the center by a short section of RG-58 coax cable which leads down to the small Elecraft KX3 HF transceiver. The radio is then connected to a tiny Winbook TW7 tablet through a very small Signalink USB modem. Everything combined is small enough to fit in a Zip-lock freezer bag. The tablet is running a free peer-to-peer communications software known as RMS Express. We had used the program extensively before WROL with an organization known as AmRON. They helped groups of preparedness minded radio operators set up nationwide and local radio nets and radio bulletin boards. Joe was still in touch with a few of them in communities scattered around the mountains. One of them was his life long friend Jack Conner. Jack’s radio had gone silent about 2 weeks ago.
Jack’s home was our destination.

Al has already encrypted the situation report (SITREP) to be sent back using the team’s “transmit” one-time-pad (OTP) that he and Al had generated with dice before the mission. Joe had the matching “receive” pad back in the radio room that he would use to decrypt or “break out” the message from the team. Joe kept another pad labeled “Transmit” back at the radio room. If Joe had a message for the team he would encrypt it using this pad. Then Al would use the teams matching “Receive” pad to decrypt the message from Joe. Using two sets of pads allowed both sides to have messages ready to send simultaneously.

If Joe had messages for the team, he would have already encrypted and then loaded them into the computer tied to his base station radio. The beauty of the system is that no one has to be at the base station radio when it is called up by the deployed team. It can be programmed to scan several frequencies until someone calls it on one of those frequencies and queries the base call sign. If the calling station has its call sign loaded in the base station computer, the base radio will automatically send all messages loaded in the computer for the calling station and then receive any messages intended for the base station. Just like the upload and download of email.

Since the FCC seemed to have gone away along with most of the FedGov, at least in our little part of the mountains, and the airwaves seemed to be mostly quiet, we tended to occasionally ignore the ham radio regulations such as no encrypted messages and using your legitimate call sign. We now generated random call signs to keep unwanted listeners from grabbing our traffic. Once the base and team call signs were used once, they were stricken from the list and not re-used. The multiple frequencies given to a deployed team that the base station monitored were also random and once one was used would not be re-used for months. These random items were listed in the Signal Operating Instructions (SOI) given to the team before it deployed.

Al followed me just outside of the RON. He had given the ICOM R-20 to Andy to monitor while we worked. The little handheld communications receiver was programmed to intercept radio transmissions near our location. Back at the cove, Al and Joe had programmed it to scan the common civilian channels: GMRS, FRS, MURS, Marine and CB. If anyone nearby keyed a radio mic using any of the bands, we could listen in as well as have a good idea of their distance from us. Al had extended the range of the scanner to a few miles by constructing a special portable antenna known as the RC-292 that we could unfold and hoist up into a tree overhead when we were in a fixed or static position.

I watched as he used his compass and map to determine the azimuth back to our cove from our current location. Once he was satisfied with the direction, we began looking for two trees that lined up on an azimuth 90 degrees out, or broadside back to the direction of the cove. He found two that were just a few feet further apart than the antenna would be when rolled out to full length.

Al unrolled two thin black antenna wires from their spools while I held the free-running ends. One of the wires was marked with small pieces of green duct tape at 5 feet intervals with the distance marked on each tab. When he had rolled each out to the 60 foot mark, he took a small, rolled up tailors tape out of the canvas antenna bag and measured out the final 4 feet of wire on each. He quickly replaced the section of bicycle tire inner tube, that had been cut to resemble a large, heavy-duty black rubber band, back around the spool, holding the remaining unused wire in place.

I laid the antenna wire on the ground between the trees then tied a section of 550 cord to the plastic insulators at each end. Using a large fishing weight tied to the other end of the para cord, I selected a low limb about 15 feet off the ground at each tree, threw a weight over the limb and then, when it fell to the ground, pulled the 550 down, and hoisted one end of the antenna up about 12 feet above the ground. I then tied the cord securely around the tree truck. Al had already connected the coax to the connector at the center of the two wires and now he pulled the other end up until the entire antenna was about 12 feet off of the ground between the trees, and then tied that end off also. He connected the radio to the other end of the coax, turned the radio and tablet on, set the freq. and gave me the thumbs up.  Everything was ready.

“Send away” I said.

Al tapped at the small tablet, then knelt back on his knees, watching it closely. After about 1 minute, he said, “They got it. and there’s a message for us.”

Al handed me the tablet and started breaking down the gear. The message was in the clear and read “Expect rain later today.” I deleted the message and after shutting the tablet down, then handed it back to Al. Joe had sent the message without encrypting it since it was not mission critical. His action saved us the time required to stop to break it out, as well as saving the limited decryption pages for future messages.

While he was packing the radio and tablet, I dropped the antenna and started rolling it up. Working quickly we finished packing the radio gear and checked for anything left behind. Jim signaled “move out” by raising his support hand, open palm facing forward, to his left shoulder and then slowly let it arc forward down to his left hip. The signal was passed back and we were moving out less than 5 minutes after our radio contact.

As each man passed me, I gave them the weather info we had received and I fell into the file formation. Andy, our guy with eyes like an eagle, was on point with the compass, then Jim on pace count, Al, monitoring the scanner, and finally, me, taking up the rear. Soon were moving quietly through the thick early morning fog on azimuth along the side of the spur to our south.


NC_Wayah Bald_165034_1957_24000_geo-001-001 Story part 3





The Patrol – Chapter 2

Posted: 02/01/2015 in The Patrol

The team slowly rose as the rally signal was passed back, each silently slipping their rucks on. Andy moved to the opening and took a knee to provide security while guiding the others in. The two remaining men, Al and Jim, maintained their interval as they moved, still scanning their sectors, their heads on a constant swivel. As each man entered the laurel thicket, they rose to their feet and crouching under the low branches, then moved to the clearing near the middle where I was waiting. I placed them in two-man temporary fighting positions near the center facing out, then pointed out to each, their assigned sector of fire, limits of fire, their direct compass azimuth back to our last rally point should we have to un-ass the RON in a hurry, and the two primary exits from the thicket; the entrance was at the 6 o’clock,  the uphill stream exit at the 9 o’clock and the downhill fallen tree exit at the 3 o’clock. Jim and Andy would occupy one position as fire team A (TM A) with Jim being the Team Leader (TL). Al and I would share the other position and I am the TL for fire team B (TM B). Since we were a small patrol and each of us covered a 90 degree sector, we would lie in the prone and lock ankles with our Ranger buddy. This would allow one to silently alert the other team member. Per our SOP, after occupying the RON, we conducted another 15 minute listening period.

Following the listening halt, I motioned to Al to watch my sector as well as his. He nodded and shifted his entire body so that his natural point-of-aim covered the entire 180 degree sector. Leaving my ruck in our position, I used the modified high crawl, on hands and knees and moved quietly to Jim’s side.  He watched as I pointed one index finger down into the upturned open palm of my other hand. Map check. He nodded, insured that Andy would watch his sector and pulled a map case from the front pocket of his ruck. It was secured with a length of 550 para cord to a moly strap pouch on his ruck. We began looking over the 1/24,000 topo. map of the area. Jim picked up a thin pine needle from the ground and using it as a pointer instead of his big stubby finger, indicated our current location on the map, then the ridge-lines running parallel to our position to the north and south overlooking the adjoining draws but, most important, the road that paralleled the ridge to the south.

He said quietly “I think we need to get eyes on that road and look for recent traffic. My team can run the security sweep around our RON to both of these ridges. What do you think?”

After a little thought, I shot his plan down.

I explained “Jim, this is not a large combat patrol and our security relies on not being detected. In order to recon both surrounding ridges your team would have to crisscross this valley twice, covering a distance of nearly 2 clicks. We need to avoid leaving additional spore for trackers to find. Also due to the terrain, the road to the south would not be visible from the ridge line above it. You would have to get very close to examine it for traffic. I’m satisfied that the J-hook we pulled around the site and my visual scan should suffice for our R&S”.

We both knew we had left our community early the same day to take advantage of the concealment provided by the ever-present thick fog that gave the Smoky Mountains their name. The fog covers the region’s valleys and low mountains most mornings, except during the winter, and doesn’t burn off until nearly noon. We had moved nearly 7 clicks today, not a long distance, even with our heavy rucks. However, due to the small size of our patrol, we had been very cautious and had been on the move for about 11 hours; less than 1 click an hour. The elevation change had been about 3,000 feet. We were all pretty smoked and had to cover another 7 clicks tomorrow in order to reach our destination. We also needed to implement our work plan before darkness set in.

Jim agreed. We started the work plan.

For camp hygiene, I let Jim designate an area a few feet away within sight as the latrine. We had worked and trained together long enough that we weren’t shy when it came to bodily functions. A deep cat hole needed to be dug for urine. It would be used by all and covered when we closed camp in the morning. A cat hole for feces would be dug as needed and covered immediately. The first one of us to need the latrine would do the digging. It would be interesting to see who could hold out the longest.

In all good combat arms units, weapons maintenance should always be the priority task. However, per our SOP, the priority is to set our hooches up first, due to the threat of someone using thermal imagery against us as the day cooled and the ambient thermal background noise of the terrain and foliage around us lowered. The threat of airborne thermal imagery and the availability of inexpensive handheld thermal imaging and infrared devices, the lack of effectiveness of both during warm days, and our ability to defeat both at night if we stayed in one place, were the prevailing reasons we chose to move during the heat of the day rather than at night.

Jim would provide security in one direction while Andy and Al set up two hooches, one over each position, performed weapons maintenance, refilled water containers, checked their rucks and other gear, and they would eat. I would provide security in the other direction. Then we would swap, Jim and I would do weapons and gear maintenance, and then eat.

Al pulled an ICOM R-20 Communications Receiver, that he had been monitoring since we left the retreat, from a pouch on his chest rig. He pulled the short whip antenna loose and replaced it with home-made 292 wire antenna that he had rolled up and stowed in a ruck pouch. He retrieved the 3 small green and brown painted PVC spacers and positioned them between the lower counterpoise wires. He then threw a small lead weight which was attached to a section of gutted 550 cord and that was also tied to the top end of the antenna wire, over a tree limb and hoisted the antenna up about 20 ‘ into the air.  He handed me the radio. I took it, checked to ensure it was scanning, put the ear bud in my ear, checked the squelch and volume, then stowed it on my chest rig. I motioned Al down next to me.

While still watching my sector I asked him “Pick up any new traffic since this morning?

Al said “Not since we first crossed the ridge on Burningtown Mountain”.

I nodded. Al had picked up some broken chatter on the marine band but the signal had been very weak. It could have come from anywhere in our line of sight, which at our altitude then was a pretty large area. It hadn’t been a strong signal and it didn’t repeat so we didn’t stop our movement into the valley. We had stopped just long enough for him to enter the time and freq. in his log.

“Al, who do we know that uses marine band radios?” I asked.

He frowned and said “Dan, as far as I know, nobody in our AI (Area of Interest) has them. When I make comms to Joe, I think I’ll have him check the intel. database.”

“Good idea, let me know what he comes up with” I replied.

He gave me a thumbs up and went back to where Andy was working.

Andy and Al set up the hooches over both positions. They started by suspending a brown Grabber Thermal Blanket, shiny side down, over one position. They stretched 4 OD Green bungee cords from the corner grommets, to low branches and stumps. They then attached a standard Woodland GI poncho over the top of the Thermal Blanket and attached it to the matching grommets. The blanket grommet pattern and size had been modified to match the poncho. Andy tied the poncho hood closed with the hood cord, attached one end of another bungee to the cord and the other end to an overhanging branch to form a peak. Under the poncho, Al tied a piece of 550 cord from the center loop sewn into the Grabber and tied it to one of the small waist cord grommets inside the poncho.  The setup left an air space between the two, cutting down on the thermal signature. Had we been in more open terrain, they would have added some local vegetation to break up the square outline seen from above. The laurel was so thick above us that the thermal blanket was probably not needed, but we didn’t want to take the chance. The sides and back of the hootch were about 4 inches above the ground. The front was just high enough for the man on security to see out from under while in the prone and several large rocks provided partial frontal cover and concealment. The peak was about 18 inches high. The pair repeated the procedure over my position. When they were finished we had 2 back-to-back shelters. Our RON Security SOP for R&S is for the two men on security be in the prone, foot-to-foot rather than the textbook setting back-to-back in order to lower our profile. Our SOP alert plan is for each man on security to alert the other silently by shaking one anothers feet. This is a pretty simple alert plan. Keep-It-Simple-Stupid.

Jim watched out of the corner of his eye as his young team-mate Andy, checked the safety, pulled the mag., and cleared his AR, catching the ejected round in his hand. Pulling the rear take-down pin, he swung the upper from the lower. Next he pulled the bolt-carrier-group, checked the movement of the bolt, inspected the extractor and ejector, added a few drops of CLP, from his OTIS cleaning kit, into the two gas ring access holes, examined the upper receiver and bore, checked for grit and dirt, then reassembled the weapon and did a quiet functions check bending over his weapon to muffle the sound of the hammer falling and riding the slide forward.  He then examined his Lancer Arms AR Mag. He re-inserted the ejected round, checked the round count (right hand round on top), follower spring tension, feed lips and overall cleanliness then reinserted it into his weapon. He then checked the safety again and performed an admin load, finished by a press check. Satisfied, Andy turned his attention to his sidearm, our group standard, the Glock 17, and gave it the once over also. Jim smiled, he had taught the young lad well.

While Andy was performing weapon maintenance Al was eating. When Andy finished his weapons maintenance, he would eat and Al would clean and check his weapons. Our R&S Team SOP allowed only 1 team weapon to be down for maintenance at any time.

This would be a cold camp; no fires or stoves. We chose to carry stripped MREs as our primary rations. The individual pouches had been removed from the boxes as well as the condiment packets and heaters. The pouches were then taped together, slid into the bottom of the tough outer MRE bag which was then folded over and taped shut with a short piece of olive drab 100 mile-per-hour tape (duct tape). The bag contents were labeled on the outside of each bag. After eating, all trash would be stored in heavy zip-lock bags and carried out in our rucks. The MRE bags would be saved for latrine duty later when in the hide site. No trash would be left behind or buried for animals to dig up and scatter.

When both men had finished weapons maintenance and eating they began checking the rest of their gear. They looked over their rucksack and chest rigs for loose, worn or broken straps, buckles and pouches. Anything out-of-order would be repaired before morning.

Both men then gathered up all camel backs and collapsible canteens that weren’t full and carried them to the stream a few yards away. While Al provided security, Andy filled the Sawyer bladders that were attached to the Sawyer Mini filters. He then screwed the other end to the hydration bladders and filled them by squeezing the water from one to the other. The collapsible canteens were filled from the hydration bladders. While one provided security the other conducted personal hygiene, wiping down with small micro fiber towels and brushing their teeth.

After Andy and Al finished their work, we switched places. They pulled security while we performed weapons and gear maintenance, ate and did personal hygiene by the stream.

30 minutes before End of Evening Nautical Twilight (EENT) we all occupied our fighting positions in order to have 100% security for Stand-To. After the uneventful Stand-To hour, we started the rest plan. Andy and I would stand sentry in our positions while the others slept, providing 50% security. Our SOP required at least one leader to be on security at all times during the rest plan. Al and Jim dug out their patrol bags and bivies and turned in. It could be disastrous for a patrol if a sentry fell asleep, so we would each pull 2 hours shifts until morning stand-to, 30 minutes prior to Beginning Morning Nautical Twilight (BMNT). While on sentry, we would not use our bags so that the cold would help us stay awake. We would also occasionally scan the area with our handheld thermal imagers to identify noises and to keep our minds busy. The night passed slowly, with zero natural illumination and only the only action was one small opossum noisily sifting through the leaf litter. I watched him for a while through the imager. The scanner was silent throughout the shift. I woke Al around midnight and Andy woke Jim. I waited as he stowed his bag in his ruck and took up the position in the prone next to me. When I was sure he was awake (he had started scanning with the imager), I pulled my bag and bivy from the bottom zip up section of my ruck. My clothing had dried from earlier in the day so I just rolled into the bag. It seemed about 5 minutes had passed and he woke me for my second shift. Sometime during Al’s shift, a heavy fog had rolled down the valley and everything was wet. The only sound was the steady dripping of dew from the laurel leaves. Vision was zero feet in the darkness and the fog made the thermal worthless. I kept my self busy reciting Bible verses, old TV commercials, songs in my head and thinking about home. One of the guys had some serious gas, so I kept count. Seventeen events. I guess that’s why we used the term “fart sack” instead of “sleeping bag” in the Army. Two more uneventful shift changes and we were back at stand-to 30 minutes before dawn. 100% security.

Following stand-to, Al and Andy policed up their areas, packed their sleeping gear, ate, performed morning hygiene,  refilled canteens, reapplied their camo, and then took our place at security so we could do the same. When we had finished our morning routine, Jim and I pulled down and packed the wet hooches in their stuff sacks.

“No need to worry about imagers now” Jim commented quietly, I can’t even see 100′ the fog is so thick.”

“Yep” I responded, “Great weather for patrolling, so let’s get a move on”.

We began to sterilize our site, looking for traces of our passing, such as bits of paper, tape, bits of dropped food and lost gear. We also filled in the cat holes and did our best to camouflage them with the ubiquitous deer moss. A decent tracker would find our sign; the boot tracks left, vegetation crushed by our passing, and pressed down at our fighting positions/bedding down areas. The trick was to make it hard to know how many had passed through and to not leave any indicators to help them determine our numbers, makeup and intent.

Satisfied the area was clean, We pulled out a map and reviewed today’s movement plan.


Next up: Movement to the Mission Support Site (MSS).


More good info. from DTG.

Some history on the USMC ILBE:

As stated, the ILBE was produced by Arcteryx, a well-respected civilian backpack manufacturer. There are actually 2 generations of the ILBE. The first gen., produced in 2004 will have black padding and the later gen. will have coyote padding. The major problem with the ILBE for the Marines was the internal frame, which consists of 2 metal outside bands and 2 larger spars that run down the middle of the back.  The pack works fine in a civilian backpacking role, however, the two spars in the middle make it nearly impossible to wear the pack while also wearing the rear SAPI or the follow-on ESAPI plate in their modular tac. vest. So, unless you plan on toting it around while wearing your body armor, don’t throw out the 15 ILBEs you picked up for your group at a great price down at the Army/Navy store.

DTG also mentioned the Military Sleep System. These are popping up at surplus stores and gun shows everywhere. Hint: don’t buy the ACU camouflaged bivy, stick with the Woodland pattern. The system consists of 4 parts: A compression bag, a Gortex bivy, a green light patrol bag and a heavier black intermediate cold weather bag. The patrol bag is touted to keep you warm to 35 deg. The black bag to -5, and in when snapped together down to -30. YMMV depending on what you consider comfortable. Here in the Southern Appalachians, the system works fine. You have to get out and test them in the cold in your AO.

In the interest of lowering our ruck weight and bulk, a few friends and I have tested a bivy, made by Survive Outdoors Longer. The Escape is a highly water-resistant, breathable, thermal insulated, very lightweight (8.5 oz) bivy. This thing is tiny when rolled up in its stuff sack. In case you are concerned about the blaze orange color (and you should be), they do come in green.

I have used it extensively with the MARPAT woobie down to 20 deg. F. and down to 4 deg. F. with the green patrol bag. All tests were done while wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, light polypro long underwear pants, a poly t-shirt, light wool socks, walking shoes and a poly snookie.  I also used my Klymit Static V2 sleeping pad (which now comes in a subdued color version called the Recon) for ground insulation. No overhead cover was used. I slept like a baby.

The Military Gortex bivy is bullet proof and you will probably get a thousand nights sleep out of it. It is very bulky and provides very little to no insulation. Will the SOL bivy hold up as well? Most likely not. I’ve used it several times this winter and if I can get one seasons use out of it and cut down on weight and bulk, allowing me to carry more ammo, I’ll buy several to keep on hand. Another plus, using the SOL allows me to go with the woobie or lighter patrol bag which also cuts down on weight and bulk. I was also able to ditch the issue compression bag and replace it with a smaller, lighter civilian version since I was only using one bag. The downsides: the SOL bivy’s zipper system is only  about 30 inches long, but with practice, I can slip out of the top of it very quickly; less than 3 seconds. It is also tight around the shoulders, so if you are not used to mummy style bags or are claustrophobic, this might not be the bivy for you. Good hunting.



Originally posted on The Defensive Training Group:


From time to time, a debate will arise on a NPT’s use of full sized ruck sacks that may weigh 1/3 or so of the carrier’s body weight or more.  Arguments for and against will rage from the perspective of denying the capability due to the writer having one reason or another to not work toward achieving the condition necessary.  Things like,

  • “I’m too old,”
  • “I can’t get motivated to start,”
  • “Carrying something that big is unrealistic,”
  • “You’ll stroke out,”
  • “I’ve got a heart condition,”
  • “I’ve got Lumbago,”
  • “I’ve got ______________,”
  • “That’s retarded, all you need is a rifle, a few magazines, a couple MREs, and your rifle.”
  • Etc, etc, etc, etc.

For those with medical reasons, (real medical reasons – not “I smoke” or “I drink too much” or “I like getting stoned” or “I get sore when I exercise,” or “I’d rather go to a ball game or watch ‘Survivor'”), understand that there is no…

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Study this, get out and practice as a team, and build your IAD SOPs.

Originally posted on The Defensive Training Group:

UPDATED:  In the spirit of the Dunning-Kruger Effect Mosby details here.  If NPT members are to get better at what they do to protect their families and communities, they must objectively look at their corporate ‘knowledge’ and improve on what they believe is ‘good enough’.


Noob’s question during patrolling class:  “So, what do you do when you think you’ve been ambushed?”

A good, valid question.  A new member of the team/patrol should be taught effective immediate action drills for this, as well as other common situations encountered in a SHTF situation.  Let’s check out the conversation for a moment:

Older, more experienced teacher:  “Well, the way we did it back in the day was to have everyone in the kill zone immediately assault the ambush position screaming and yelling and shooting.  They told us that’d give us the best chance at survival.”

Noob:  “How did you know it was an…

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Originally posted on LibertasIntel:

From over the transom:

First off, a little background.  I enlisted in the Army when I was 18 as an 11B (Infantryman) and have now served 6 years.  During that time I’ve spent two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, on the line. (Rapid deployments, 6 months or less)  I was assigned to a sniper team and graduated from Sniper School recently and have been a recon sniper team leader for 18 months now.  

I had originally titled this brief article, “Recon, another essential element in conducting combat operations.”  After some thought, I decided to remove “combat” from the title because reconnaissance goes well beyond combat operations and it is critical to understand this.  Every day, everywhere, every minute you are conducting some type of recon whether you realize it or not.

It’s time to begin learning and, more importantly, understanding the information you are gathering and how to…

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