Comms 101 at AmRRON

Posted: 07/24/2015 in Uncategorized

If you haven’t seen it here’s the link to a pretty good comms primer from the folks over at AmRRON.

Thermal Imaging

Posted: 07/20/2015 in Uncategorized

Tex recently posted a question regarding Thermal Imaging (TI). He asked if the use of a thermal monocular would have been appropriate for the situation described in Chapter 6 of “The Patrol”.

Good point. It might have. The effectiveness of  TI depends on a few variables but it is not the all-seeing Eye-of-Mordor most folks think it is. The proper use of cover/concealment will usually degrade the effectiveness of TI. Put something substantial between you and it and you should be good to go.

TI is greatly affected by the ambient temperature (emitted infrared radiation level) of the mass surrounding the object being targeted. On a hot, sunny day when the surrounding mass has absorbed and is now emitting a lot of that heat, TI is nearly useless, unless your body and gear is quite a bit cooler. In which case you then appear as a human-shaped, dark object.  Unless you are using cover properly. For example, if I were in the prone behind a log that completely masks my body from your view, with the exception of that tiny space just large enough for me to surveil my sector, which you are currently standing in, then, depending on the range separating us, you might see that tiny dark spot (or light spot) that is the exposed portion of my face. But most likely not. We have used them pretty extensively during the day and have found ourselves chasing after small forest critters and birds perched on low limbs. More often than not, the tree trunks and limbs in our thickly forested AO create so much vertical heat clutter that we are better off relying on our normal vision.

The same concept applies when dealing with the aerial TI threat. If you are in a heavily forested area and have thick overhead concealment, than the aerial TI threat is also degraded. Max Velocity uses the TI defeating angle of concealment in the construction of his “Thermal Shield”.

Other environmental factors that can degrade its effectiveness include: Rain, fog, snow, sleet, dust and smoke.

Also, thermal imagers are completely useless when looking at glass such as a windshield or window. The glass will reflect the emitted IR image of the person using the device.

We have also tested our imagers  through open doors and windows of various building in order to determine if a building is occupied. Again, everything hinges on the amount of heat that has been absorbed by the interior of the building and the use of concealment by the person occupying the building.

A word to the wise:  Unless concealment is very thick, moving targets are easily tracked by TI, day or night.

So, in answer to your question Tex, yes, a TI might have been effectively used in the story against the bad guys laying in the shadows if they weren’t using cover and/or concealment properly. Especially since this portion of the story takes place on a cold day. However, was the falling sleet thick enough to interfere with the imager? Dunno, have to wait until next winter to test it.

P.S. Thermal Imagers are like ‘scopes: not all are created equal. Do your due-diligence and op for the highest resolution screen you can afford. If the options include display in both gray-scale and color, that’s a plus.

The Patrol – Chapter 6

Posted: 07/19/2015 in The Patrol

Jim slowly slides back out from under the thick brush that conceals our position overlooking the homestead. He joins me at a spot deeper in the forest roughly centered between Andy and Al, who are still providing security to our flanks and rear. It’s time to move on, but first I take advantage of the break to rearrange our order of march. Walking point requires a constant, intense mental focus and Andy needs a break. If left at that position too long even the most experienced soldier will eventually loose concentration and begin making mental errors which can lead to disaster. I also want to give Jim something else to occupy his mind other the carnage that we are leaving behind. I signal Jim to take point, with Andy behind him where he will take up pace count duties. Al stays in the number 3 slot, manning the receiver, while I stay in the slack position at the rear of the patrol.

We don’t waste time discussing what we’ve seen. We’ve all experienced much worse in the last few years and if we feel like we need to talk about it, we’ll have time for that later. Andy had gotten a good look when he initially came up on the site while walking point. While Jim and Andy are occupied verifying our present location on their maps and going over the next leg of our journey, Al and I provide security.

Soon Jim and Andy agree on the route, give me the thumbs up, and we resume our trek on azimuth to the west. The temperature continues to drop as the wind increases out of the northwest. Low gun-metal gray clouds scud by and the rain changes to a fine, hard sleet that bites at the exposed skin of our faces. The sound of the wind blowing through the bare tree limbs and the sleet rattling on the dead leaves combine to mask the noise of our footfalls.

Due to his extensive experience on previous patrols, Jim instinctively uses the noise of the wind through the trees and underbrush along with the subsequent increase in the ambient noise level as an invitation to pick up the pace. With the probable exception of a cold rain, this is the best weather for patrolling. He knows that if anyone else is out in this weather, they will most likely keep their heads down. But we don’t have that luxury and so we keep up our guard, using all of our senses to continually scan for threats.

We’ve only traveled about 300 meters when Jim suddenly detects the slight smell of wood smoke mixed in the bitter wind. He stops the patrol, takes a knee, turns to Andy, and touches his support hand to his nose, then points in the direction of the wind, indicating he smells something unusual. Andy gives him the thumbs up and passes the signal. Standing slowly, Jim turns back in the direction of movement and stepping out cautiously, begins to intently look for the source. Jim suspects it is wood smoke coming from the chimneys of the homes he noted earlier during his map and photo recon. Soon he spies the obvious horizontal ridge line of a roof ahead about 75 meters through the trees. Jim calls a halt, signals for me to come forward and waits in the prone while I move slowly in a low crouch to his location. After dropping silently beside his prone position, he points toward the roof. I nod. He then points to me, touches his thumb to his chest, touches his eye with his hand and then to a clump of evergreen trees a few meters ahead. I nod again and after sending the “provide security” signal back, I follow him as we low crawl about 15 meters and then push under and through the lush low branches of a massive hemlock tree.

Laying side-by-side, hidden under the branches that are so low they touch the ground, we survey the scene below us. Per our surveillance SOP, one observer will conduct a hasty scan, looking for threats and threat indicators with the unaided eye, while the other conducts a deliberate scan of the area before us. Once those scans are completed, usually taking no more than a few minutes, one will then conduct a detailed scan with optics while the other either sketches the scene or provides security. Jim, who has better eyesight, starts the hasty scan after seeing me retrieve my binos. He is looking at the overall scene trying to spot obvious threats. I quickly scan the same area concentrating on specific spots that are more likely to conceal a threat but might be missed by the naked eye. Starting directly in front of our position, we each scan in an arc from right to left from 0 out to 50 meters, looking for threats that would be an immediate danger to our patrol. Then we enlarge the area out to 100 meters and repeat the scans. We continue to enlarge each subsequent scan area by 50 meters until we are finally observing the area to the far tree line and can see no further into it. Next, I repeat the cycle using my binoculars for a slower or detailed scan paying extra attention by lingering over areas that would conceal someone, such as areas in the shadows and on the right-hand side of any cover and/or concealment since most folks are right-handed. As a rule-of-thumb, I look at the areas that I would normally take up a position in. I also look for any observable indicators that would betray their presence.

Two building clusters stand slightly off our path in a large clearing to the right, down the mountain side, well below our current position. The closest house, which is about 60 meters from our location, sits on our side of the paved road. It is a two-story wood frame affair with a metal roof that has been twisted, blackened and warped by fire. The nearest side of the slightly smoldering structure has been mostly consumed by flames which leave it partially collapsed over a gaping black opening cluttered with burned, darkened timbers and other blackened debris.

Neatly mown lawns are a thing of the past due to the shortage of gasoline and as usual, the ubiquitous, well-worn foot paths wind through the tall grass and weeds between the outlying structures and the main house. The weeds and grass in the yard on the damaged side of the house have been burned away in a strange semi-circular pattern and several broken and blackened glass containers lay among the ashes. Someone has used the containers as Molotov cocktails to start the blaze, most likely to force the residents out of the structure.

The root cellar, and the small greenhouse have both been looted and the very large early spring garden has been trampled and ruined, the cold weather produce having been pulled up by the roots. Next to the greenhouse there is a long wooden building that was most likely used as a chicken house. The wooden door to the house as well as the chicken wire door to the run are both standing open. Random feathers are scattered on the ground around this building but no birds are to be seen. I make out 2 sacks, which appear to be pillow cases taken from inside the house, trampled in the mud at the coop entrance.

On the far side of the house away from our location stands a medium-sized 2 story wooden barn. It appears to be intact. The doors on the front facing the house have been slid open exposing the front of a small blue tractor parked inside. It is too dark inside the barn to make out any further detail. On the nearest side of the barn, the long wooden gate to the fenced-in corral is standing open also. Since the hay bunker in the corral holds fresh hay, I assume that whatever livestock that may have been kept fenced in has been stolen. A second pen near the first appears to have held pigs. The lot is muddy and a wooden feeding trough is next to the fence on the ground. It’s gate also stands open.

A man’s nude body is laying curled up in the center of the road that bisects the two homes. I swap out the binos for the teams more powerful spotting telescope kept in the long outside pocket on the back of my ruck, which Jim retrieves for me. Looking back at the scene I can see the man’s hands have been bound behind his back and he has been shot in the back of the head. His skin has taken on that very light gray, almost porcelain shade of the recent dead. From this distance it’s hard to tell how long he has lain there. The weather has been cool lately. I spot the shine of a single piece of sidearm brass not far from his body. He has been executed, probably for the benefit of anyone watching from the house across the road.
The second, smaller, single story, wood frame home across the road has been severely damaged by gunfire. All of the windows within our view are shattered and the exterior walls surrounding them are riddled with bullet holes. The area around the front door shows the heaviest gunshot damage. A quick study of the amount and placement of the gunshot damage indicates a lack of fire discipline as well as the type of weapons used. Bullet holes ring the tops, bottoms and both sides of the windows as well as the top and both sides of the front door. Random holes appear along the length of the exterior walls. An experienced soldier understands that most folks are right-handed and will tend to post up behind cover on the left-hand side facing out. Usually only trained shooters can easily transition to the left shoulder to take advantage of right-hand cover. The more experienced also understand that wooden structures offer very little cover to small arms fire and wood exterior walls are easily penetrated unless properly hardened with sandbags. They will then concentrate their fire below windows and on the right hand side of openings from their perspective. When faced with a concrete or stone structure they will concentrate their fire on the lower right hand or left hand corner of windows and doors.

Laying face-up, just outside the front door on the porch, is the body of another man. From our vantage, it appears he has taken a shotgun blast to the upper chest, neck and face at a very close range while attempting to gain entrance at the doorway and subsequently died in place. Through the ‘scope I can see that he is barefoot and his pants pockets have been turned inside out.

Discarded items apparently looted from the house and garage are scattered between the front porch steps and across the overgrown front yard to the paved road. The tall grass around the house has been trampled flat in numerous paths from the road and the woods surrounding it. The doors are standing open on a pickup and small car parked on the circular drive in front of the house. From the looks of the dust-covered vehicles, they haven’t been moved in months. Both have flat tires, while the body of the truck is pock-marked with bullet holes and it’s windows shattered. There is a large, ominous brown stain on the concrete drive on the road side of the truck. Expended rifle and pistol brass of various calibers and a few shotgun shell casings are scattered around the scene, but are mostly grouped behind the truck and car near the large stain. This is curious since most folks now-a-days save even the smallest caliber brass for possible future reloading. Obviously, the raiders tended to cluster in groups behind what they thought was good cover but had to cross large open areas along natural lines-of-drift to get to it. Both are signs of arrogance, laziness, and lack of experience. Hopefully for us and others in this valley, they won’t learn from their experience and adjust their tactics.

Still scanning with the spotting scope, I notice a large, bright piece of cloth at the edge of the overgrown yard next to the road. Adjusting the focus, I make out a ripped woman’s print dress laying discarded in the weeds. Lying near the torn dress there is a single small shoe and torn undergarments. A coldness creeps up my spine and when I lower the scope and close my eyes I see the faces of my wife and both daughters-in-law back at home. I suddenly get the feeling in my gut that we should be back at the retreat protecting them. Jim notices that I have lowered my face and closed my eyes. He bumps his boot against mine to get my attention.

“What?” he mouths, looking in my direction.

“Nothing” I shake my head, not looking his way. I slowly bring the scope back to an eye and gaze back at the house, careful to avoid looking toward the dress. I keep the my thoughts to myself for the time being. Jim has a wife and small granddaughter at home.

Nothing at the scene is moving except the torn curtains in the shattered windows. The only sound is the wind blowing through the trees and the clattering of the sleet on old leaves. No one is alive here.

Jim touches my boot again and points over his carbine in the direction of a line of neatly stacked cord wood under a long, low shed about 50 feet to the right of the smaller house. There, unwittingly thinking the split wood would provide adequate cover, sprawls the body of another man. The top of his head is missing as well as his shoes, trousers and weapon. He still has a glass container with a rag stuffed in the top clutched in his left hand. The fire-bomber got his reward.

“Looks like he was peeking over the top of his “cover” and caught one in the melon,” Jim thinks to himself. “Stupid mistake that you can’t take back. If you’ gotta’ look, look around the side of your cover. Didn’t help that he’s bald as an egg and his head could have used a little camo or at least a hat to cover that bright white dome. Split cord wood’s not good for cover anyway.”

I continue to study the scene for a few more minutes when Jim suddenly leans toward my ear and remarks so quietly I almost miss his words over the wind, “I’d say these raiders don’t give a rats-ass about their dead. They stripped everything useful off them and left ’em for the buzzards, just like their victims.

“Yeah,” I whisper back, “Great for morale, I’m sure.”

As I continue to take in the scene, it appears to me that the bad guys didn’t catch whoever was in the small house by surprise and the homesteaders gave as good as they got. But the final result was still the same; they lost. Probably it all came down to numbers. More of the bad guys, less of the good. I still don’t understand why folks think they need to defend their homes from inside. It didn’t work at Masada, Yorktown, the Alamo, the Maginot Line or Waco. As a defensive tactic, it really limits your options. Let the bad guys have it and take it back when you decide and on your terms. If your going to go on the defense, make sure it’s a defense-in-depth using terrain and maneuver to your advantage. Know the terrain in your AO like the back of your hand and make them pay for every inch of ground prior to the house and then make them pay even more to keep it. And most importantly, get them before they are in your front yard.

At least now I’ve answered my earlier question; why no one buried the dead at the first house we came upon. There’s no one left. Their neighbors/family have either been killed, taken or ran away. By the looks of the smoldering embers at the burned house, this happened a few days ago.”

While thinking about all this Jim suddenly exclaims, “Sons-a-bitches” a little too loud for my comfort. I look sharply his way, about to give him a quiet dressing down when I see that he has his binos out and has seen the dress in the grass. His lips are tightly pursed and his hand are clenched around his glasses so tightly that his hands are shaking. This time I tap his boot. He turns to look at me and I see that same far-away look clouded in black.

“Get a grip” I whisper quietly while looking him straight in the eye. He blinks a few times and then his eyes regain their focus.

“Yeah… yeah, okay man” he whispers back before he turns back to the scene.

“You sons-a-bitches, that’s two” he whispers again, this time, full of venom.

Studying him for a moment, I’m wondering how this is going to play out and if we can keep him under control when the time comes. I find myself thinking of the Norse Ulfhedinn and how Jim always carries that big-assed black Osogrande combat kukri knife on his kit.

I’m thinking,“This is really gonna’ suck for someone” when my closest friend turns back to face me, gives me that quizzical look I’ve seen many times before and shrugs. He’s seen enough and so have I. Time to go.

I give him a quick nod while I’m thinking to myself. “Yeah, it’s really gonna’ suck.

Motorola DTR Repeater

Posted: 07/09/2015 in Communications

Had some folks asking about a repeater for the Motorola DTR series radios. Here you go. Disclaimer:  I have not tested it. If someone has, send us the information and we will post it.

Amen brother, Amen.

Camouflage 101

Posted: 04/23/2015 in Uncategorized

This very long post is in response to Tex, a reader who requested information regarding the camouflage clothing and equipment being utilized by the characters in “The Patrol”. His questions, as well as those submitted by others, are one of the reasons why I decided tackle the project. I wanted to provoke questions and debate as well as put out information that covers: BASIC tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), equipment that we have used/are using, and some unusual skill sets all wrapped up in a (mildly entertaining, I hope) story. Time will tell.
I occasionally hear the statement “Camouflage is something you do when you get there.” And while that statement has some merit, my question is: “What do you do until you get there?”. I believe that not taking advantage of manufactured camo is a mistake, as long as you don’t think it will make you invisible.
Stack the advantages in your favor. Here is a relevant, true story from my life regarding this personal philosophy: I once had the opportunity to work closely with a certain Brigadier (1 star) General. Even though he was Airborne and Ranger Qualified (he had punched all the right tickets) he was at the time commanding a straight-leg (non-airborne) infantry unit. One day toward the end of my assignment he asked me “,
Sergeant Morgan, are all Special Forces as good as you?”
To which I replied “Absolutely not sir,…. most of them are a lot better.”
He laughed and then asked “Why is that, what makes the soldiers in Special Forces different?”
“Well sir”, I answered, “as best as I can tell, it’s because we train a little harder and longer than most, and we are constantly trying to broaden and improve our skill sets. We’re always attempting to stack up all the advantages in our favor.”
I tell the students in my classes that this is an important individual aspect of war fighting. You keep your weapons maintained properly. You use good quality magazines. You run mil spec ammo. You train realistically with with your rifle and sidearm while wearing your gear (train-like-you-fight). You dry fire…a lot. You do your PT and watch your weight. You practice UN-armed combatives individually and with your team. You put your field gear to the test…in the field. You practice patrolling and run battle drills with your team…over and over again, in all types of weather. You forgo that fancy vacation to Cozumel in order to attend professional training with your team. While that other fellow and his buddies are sitting at home drinking beer and watching the game, you’re busy stacking up advantages for “that day”. When you start piling up all those small advantages, eventually the stack can get pretty high in your favor. Then you stand a much better chance of winning encounters of the violent type. Camouflage should be viewed as another advantage if use properly.
For the remainder of this article, if you only take away one lesson it should be this:  Camouflage done properly will allow you to get inside of the other fellows OODA loop. If he can’t Observe you due to your ability to camo properly, he won’t Orient properly. If he can’t correctly Orient on you, he will now make an incorrect Decision followed by an incorrect Action. Check and Mate.
How does camouflage work and what are Targeting Indicators?
From Websters Dictionary:
French, from camoufler to disguise
First Known Use: 1917
a: concealment by means of disguise
b: behavior or artifice designed to deceive or hide
The three textbook methods of camouflage are: hiding, blending and deceiving. Hiding is using objects to conceal yourself and your equipment. Blending is matching your personal camouflage to your surroundings. Deceiving is used to confuse the enemy regarding your true location, intentions or movement. This post deals primarily with blending.
Instead of just covering the old standbys: shape, shine, shadow and silhouette, we will go a little deeper and discuss Target Indicators (TI).  If you’ve attended Army Sniper Training an/or the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (SOTIC) this information will not be new to you. TIs are anything you do or fail to do that could result in being detected. TIs fall into four areas:  Auditory, Tactile, Olfactory, and Visual.
Auditory:  Anything that is heard. Talking, snoring, coughing, digging, walking, crawling (footfalls, rustling of vegetation), gear/equipment/clothing noises, alerting and/or flushing of wildlife, (such as deer, birds and domestic dogs), insects suddenly becoming quiet, etc. Sound is especially important at night and during periods of fog/stillness.
Tactile:  Anything that is touched. Cut/broken branches, crushed/disturbed vegetation, broken spider webs, dried/wet urine splatters, disturbed soil/stones/moss/dust in unused buildings, foot prints, silted streams, litter, trip wires, etc. We have all seen sign of someone walking across dew covered grass or down a dirt road.
Olfactory:  Anything that is smelled. Food/cooking, smoke, body wastes, body odor, tobacco, insect repellant, deodorant, sun screens, scented soap and shampoo, detergent/fabric softeners, gun cleaning agents/lubricants.
Visual:  Anything that can be seen or observed. This is the big one. The first three TIs will usually disclose your general location. When you are seen, your exact location is now known. Visual TIs are broken down in the following areas: Shape, Shadow, Surface, Shadow, Silhouette, Surface, Siting, Spacing, Color, and Movement.
The human brain and eye constantly work together to identify what it sees and to place it in a category or group. When you see something that normally doesn’t belong, such as the silhouette of a man in the forest, it demands your attention and you will immediately place it in the category of “man”.
During Jumpmaster school we were taught to look for what was right and so when we saw a deficiency rigged into a jumper, it would jump out at us. During an assignment to JTF-Bravo in Honduras, C.A., my team conducted an exchange jump with the Honduran Airborne School. They were using hand-me-down MC1-1B parachutes from the U.S. Marines Corps. While inspecting my stick of Honduran jumpers, a process known as the JMPI, I immediately noticed that instead of closing the main ‘chute with a type 1, 1/4 inch cotton tie, the Honduran riggers had used a strip of hot pink nylon, presumably from female underwear. After the O.K. from our riggers, we jumped our ‘chutes, they jumped theirs, Y no habian problemas. Point being I had seen so many correct examples, I immediately keyed in on the incorrect and then placed it in the category of female underwear (don’t pretend you’ve never seen hot pink woman’s underwear).
Shape: The shape or outline of an object is visually very important since our brains are programmed over time to categorize things based primarily on their shape. The human head and body are very distinctive shapes, even when seen from a distance. We use the E-type target on the range to not only to train us to unconsciously react to a threat (classical conditioning) but also because we quickly recognize it as a human shape. Cold War era soldiers might remember the GTA armored vehicle and aircraft recognition playing cards. They were black silhouettes of friendly and threat vehicles or aircraft. We used them to quickly memorize shapes for immediate identification and action.
In order to camouflage shape you need to break up it’s outline to make it appear irregular to the eye. Natural shapes are very random. Straight horizontal lines and geometric shapes are rare in nature. One method used to break up the distinct edges or outlines of familiar shapes is to use dark colored splotches to create false edges. When using splotches, the concept of fade distance states that the human eye can distinguish a 1 MOA object if it’s in stark contrast to it’s surroundings, such as black against white. 1 inch at 100 yards, 2 inches at 200 yards, etc. If the object is less than 1 MOA the unaided human eye cannot easily resolve it. Keep in mind that your threat may be using magnifying optics. Fade distance is the idea behind the pixelated camouflage uniform schemes. Small pixels less than 1 MOA. Keeping the contrasting splotches less than 1 MOA is part of what makes the Ghillie suit appealing to snipers. To make the splotches even harder to distinguish make the contrasting colors similar and then match them to the natural colors in the AO.
Another method of shape camouflage is to physically change the normal shape. This is the idea behind the boonie cap and the ghillie. The boonies large brim provides shadow to the lower part of the head and ears as well as breaking up the shape of the head. It also has loops to attach some natural or man-made enhancement which further breaks up the heads shape. Add an effective camo. pattern and you are on the right track.
The ghillie uses natural and man-made attachments to disrupt the entire human shape while adding texture, depth and color blending. Its smaller counterparts, the sniper cape, veil and hat are used when the entire suit is not appropriate. Proper construction and employment of the ghillie is another subject for another time.
Shadow:  The eye cannot adjust to two areas of high contrast simultaneously. When given the choice of a bright, sunlit area or surrounding shadows, the human eye will initially be attracted to and observe the lighted area. The dark colors used in camouflage patterns create the illusion of empty spaces or shadow. While it is usually to your advantage to stay in the shadows, be careful not to create an unusually large dark area or shadow by the sole virtue of your presence.
Silhouette:  The outline of a recognizable shape when viewed against a contrasting background. Examples include a soldier standing on a ridge line or against the wall of a building. Another very common example of silhouetting occurs when one is standing in a shaded area that is back lit by a bright sunlit area.
Surface:  Surface contains two subcategories: Shine and texture.
Shine:  The surface of an object that is very smooth can reflect light, or shine, which the eye is attracted to.  Items that fall into this category include: worn or unpainted metal such as a knife blade, eyeglass frames, firearms, metal mags., belt buckles, rings and watch bands. Lenses:  Telescopic and binocular lenses, wrist watch and compass bezels, eyeglasses. Plastic eyeglass lenses, frames, and ammunition magazines. Fabrics made into that new camo boonie, uniform, rucksack and plate carrier can shine. Even the sides of the soles and heels of those black boots give off a shine.
Texture:  Texture represents depth and shadow. Camouflage patterns alone cannot overcome a lack of texture and depth. A flat camo pattern adds no depth to an object. Attention to the use of texture is very important especially when operating in a woodland or jungle environment.   Texture is another reason a properly constructed Ghillie suit can be very effective. Civilian camo manufacturers address texture with items such as Realtree Leafy.
Siting:  A detailed study of the area to be occupied or traveled through is required to determine the type of camouflage that will blend in. Will you encounter broad leaf or pine needle, high grass or low bushes, shades of green or brown, flat ground or rolling hills, forest or desert? The area might have several combinations that you will have to adapt to as you move through it. Blending using natural vegetation requires a keen eye in order to determine the colors, textures, shapes, depth and density that are found in the surrounding area. Once these items are determined, the orientation they are attached must also match the area. Grass grows vertically, so don’t attach it horizontally. Leaves are dark on the top but lighter on the bottom. Will natural camo wilt due to high heat? Will you leave tactile TIs when cutting vegetation? How often will you have to change natural camo as you move through  adjacent areas?
Spacing:  Nothing in nature occurs in a perfect linear layout with regimented spacing. If it does, then it is man-made and will attract attention. This should be considered when laying out multiple fighting positions and using items such as binoculars with a pair of identical lenses set on the same horizontal plane.
Color:  Must be carefully considered so that you do not contrast against the surrounding natural colors. Black is not a natural color.
Movement:  Camouflage is used to avoid detection and the primary method of detection of a Target Indicator (YOU) to the unaided human eye is MOVEMENT.
“Wait a minute Dan,” you ask “What’s that got to do with me? I’ve got my brand new Multicam Man-Jammies and my M-1. I’m going to lay low in my FFP and wait for them to come to me. I’m not going anywhere, I’m golden”.
O.K. Killer, let’s think about this. We all have to move sooner or later. Take, for instance, you folks in the one-shot, one-kill crowd. In order to occupy your Black Ninja Stealth Commando Sniper Final Firing Position (TM) whereupon you plan to deal out death and destruction at 1,000 meters with your trusty M-1, you have to move there from somewhere.
The average human eye and brain processes movement at about 60 frames a second (1/60th of a second) depending on light levels. Quick, jerky movements are noticed much quicker than slow, smooth movements. Even if your camo is perfect, if you move quickly, you will be seen. I once spotted a fellow, who was poaching turkeys on my property, from about 30 feet away when he blinked his eyes. His camo was great but his movement compromised him.
If you have to move, plan your route in short stages, stay low, move slowly, watch your foot placement and what you brush against, and stay in the shadows and concealment.
Putting it all together:
The old saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Spend some time watching the “Camouflage Effectiveness” series of well done videos which are available at H/T to Weaponsman for the find. Brent has a video for just about every pattern made. Watch each objectively with regard to the areas covered in my post. While most patterns are pretty effective when the wearer is not moving, almost all are useless during movement. Keep an eye out for patterns that still provide some camo ability during movement. Notice which patterns that are too dark or too light for the surrounding terrain and vegetation. Watch for uniform shine on the shoulders and head, and instances of silhouetting, especially in shaded areas. Also watch for the signs left behind when he moves through still water. I won’t comment on his face paint or his movement techniques and I haven’t watched any of his other videos.
So, how do we put all this information together? Start with basic clothing. Solid colored clothing won’t conceal as well as camouflaged clothing. It will generally fade into the surroundings at about 300 yards, However, there are some instances you will need to move through an area where wearing camo might bring unwanted attention. When worn, solid colored clothing should be in earth tones that match the local vegetation and the time of year. I always keep a set in a dry bag in my ruck to sleep in at night or to change into when moving through a populated area. Do not mix different colors in order to avoid creating large areas of visual contrast at the waistline, i.e. brown shirt and green pants.
When selecting a manufactured camouflage pattern, you have two choices: military or civilian.
Military: Usually expected to work in most, if not all environments. A recent example is UCP, the pattern used in the Army’s digital ACU (or as we knew it the “I See You”). It is a great pattern… if your AO is a gravel pit. While some of the newer military patterns such as MARPAT and Multicam are superior to the older Woodland and 3/4 color desert, they are still expected to work across a wide range of areas and conditions. While they might work, they might not be the best fit for your area. In my area of the Southern Appalachians, both MARPAT patterns would be followed by Multicam.
Civilian: An almost limitless, bewildering array exists to separate you from your hard-earned cash. With some research and a little time spent talking with the local hunters, you should be able to put your hands on something that works well in your area. In our area Realtree and Mossy Oak are the favorites of the hunters with Mossy Oak Obsession leading the pack. I am not completely sold on the leafy versions of civilian camo clothing. While it does provide texture and depth, I question it’s ruggedness. Nothing like leaving pieces of man-made leaves hanging in the briar bushes along your path to bring the trackers right to your location.
My picks for our area would be Mossy Oak Obsession for spring/summer and ATACS AU for fall/winter. If you could only have one pattern in our area I would choose Multicam.
Face Paint:
Military comes in stick form with three schemes; Light green/Loam, Sand/Loam, and White/Loam. Civilian comes in many colors and is usually easier to apply. Stick with what works in your area. Do not go too dark. Face paint is applied to all areas of exposed skin to include the inside and back of ears, the entire neck, hands and wrists. Lighter colors are applied to naturally shaded, darker areas on the head: around the eyes, under the cheekbones, and the neck under the chin. The lighter areas, the chin, lips, brow and cheekbones are darkened. The overall effect is likened to a negative exposure of the human face which is not easily recognized.

Camo face paint must be checked regularly due to perspiration and rain. Have your Ranger Buddy check you over. Since I always wear gloves in the field (and on the range), I don’t trouble myself to camo my hands. I prefer to use the Mechanix brand coyote or green camo gloves.

Another option to be considered for the face/head is Spandoflage. I’ve used it and while it seems convenient, it tends to cause my glasses to fog up from my breath. If you aren’t wearing some type of eye protection during patrol your wrong. It also has a tendency to get hung up on every briar you pass. Both Spandoflage and  the leafy-type clothing should probably be left for use when you are occupying a hide-site and not moving around.


Paint your rifle. Long, black, straight, horizontal clubs don’t exist naturally in the woods. You can get it painted professionally by a competent gunsmith using a product such as Duracoat or Cerakote, which will add to the resale value of the weapon. Or you can do like we did in the military, paint it with Bow-flage which is removable or Krylon, which is permanent.

Rucks and load carrying equipment require camouflage treatment also. If you are concerned about a camo ruck standing out in the city, cover it with a removable, conventional colored, pack rain cover.

Hope this answers your questions Tex.

The title says it all.

Having the latest and greatest high-speed, low-drag tactical gear and training can be a good thing. Being in the best physical, mental and spiritual shape of your life is a good thing.  Being a part of a group of like-minded folks that have been tempered by working through and overcoming the hard things together is great. Being at the pointy end of the sharpest and longest spear in the valley can be a result of those things.

However, experience has shown me that if you don’t have intelligence that is timely, relevant, accurate, specific and actionable, your spear will usually be pointed in the wrong direction at the wrong time.

Our group recently had a member that needed to get spun up in the S-2 (Intelligence) area but converting the Army’s intel. programs to something usable by civilians is not my forte. So we both recently attended Sam Culper’s Intelligence Preparation of the Community Course.

Sam has successfully converted the Army’s Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) into an entry-level, two-day civilian community based course. It was well worth our money and time.

If you decide to attend this course he will patiently guide you through the processes that will allow your group to develop a systematic, continuous process of analyzing the environment and the threats in your community. While his online courses and posts are a good starting point, attending a class in meat space is much better. While in class you can ask questions and receive timely answers, as well as work through practical exercises geared toward the physical and human terrain that is unique to your area. These can be done alone or as a group, with instant feedback from Sam. Sam will also assist you in configuring your laptop for use in your ACE.  The experience is worth it’s weight in gold.

The final result: Keeping that pointy end in the right direction.