Archive for April, 2015

Amen brother, Amen.

http://www.maxvelocitytactical.com/2015/04/clarification-on-a-common-misunderstanding/

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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  https://www.youtube.com/user/Brent0331. 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.

Equipment:

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.  http://guerrillamerica.com/2015/04/intelligence-preparation-of-the-community/

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.

DOL

DM

 

Had a reader recently ask about the scanner used in Chapter 4 of “The Patrol”. My answer, of course, was the ICOM IC-R6 which, due to it’s small size and weight, works great for a patrol. I added that the Uniden HomePatrol is used as our retreat fixed base scanner.

This article produced by Sparks will give you some information regarding an alternative to the fairly expensive, and limited HomePatrol. If you are fairly computer literate and somewhat familiar with basic radio communications, this might be the ticket for you. I’m currently working on this setup as a new addition for the radio room.

And thanks to all the readers and the comments regarding my latest madness.

The Patrol – Chapter 5

Posted: 04/01/2015 in The Patrol

The area around us has been quiet for 10 minutes and I decide now’s the time to cross the road and continue the mission. I slowly rise and give each man in the patrol the up signal, slowly lifting the up-facing palm of my support hand, followed by the sign for a linear danger area (the road), using the same hand, palm down, drawn across my throat, then point to the road. Finally, I tap my left shoulder indicating we will cross the danger area using the “scroll-to-the-road method” and then point to the area on the road where we will cross. The crossing point has good visibility in both directions down a long stretch of the road with no nearby curves. We won’t be surprised by someone suddenly turning a bend in the road at a short distance from our patrol.

The point man in the patrol, in this case Andy, stands and moves toward the road. He takes a knee just inside the treeline, using a large poplar tree for cover and concealment, with his left shoulder (the Ranger scroll or unit patch is on the left shoulder) facing the road. He is now looking down the road to the west, providing security in that direction. When he is in place and sees that the road is clear in that direction, he motions the next man, Jim, forward. Jim moves to Andy’s position, and taps him on the shoulder. Andy then turns around to face the opposite direction, east, insuring it is also clear. By then Jim has taken a knee in Andy’s old position and Andy then quickly stands and moves across the road, still facing east, until he has found concealment just inside the opposite tree line. There he takes a knee still facing the opposite direction from Jim. Andy’s left shoulder is still facing the road but since he is on the far side, he is still facing east. Now both directions of the road are under our observation. Next Al moves to Jim’s position, where he taps his shoulder, and the entire process is executed again. This time however, as Jim turns and moves quickly across the road, he taps Andy on the shoulder. Andy stands and moves into the woods a few yards where he stops at the head of the patrol. He is now on one knee facing in the direction of forward movement. Finally I move to Al, tap his shoulder and the process repeated once again, this time Al turns and after moving across the road, he taps Jim who moves into the woods to Andy’s old position as Andy moves deeper into the woods. Finally, I quickly cross the road, bump Al who moves into the woods with me following when he reaches the proper march interval. If done correctly, the patrol will cross the danger area smoothly without stopping movement. As the last man crossing, I drag a small branch behind me in the dirt of the shoulders of the road to help obscure any footprints we might have left. This technique is more useful when crossing a dirt road and while it will not cover all traces someone has crossed, it does help to conceal the number of folks who have crossed.

We continue movement in a file formation through the ever thickening underbrush and canopy until we come up hard on Ben Creek. The branch is narrow and twisting and so we don’t treat it as a danger area. We ford the noisy, narrow branch, through the knee-deep, ice-cold water and with the help of one another, struggle to scale the high, steep bank on the far side. After crossing we continue to move perpendicular away from the road, due south up the rapidly rising slope. At about 100 meters beyond the branch, Andy passes back the new rally point signal, pointing to a massive, room-sized, boulder jutting out of the mountain side. This activates our last rally point at the saddle on the top of the ridge we have left behind. I send up the signal for the patrol to turn west in order to handrail the road. After we’ve moved about 200 meters from the danger area crossing location, I feel it is safe to stop the patrol long enough to allow each of us to empty the water from our boots and wring out our wool socks.

We continue to slowly, steadily and silently follow the terrain features, checking off each on the map as we pass it, in order to keep track of our location. We wind in and out of the draws and cross the spurs while hand-railing the road below us. In a matter of minutes the fog lifts but the rain steadily gets harder and the temperature is noticeably dropping; our breath now is visible in the air. After moving nearly 1 kilometer Andy stops the patrol and signals for me to come forward. As I approach his position I see that he is looking down the mountain at a small home in a clearing on our side of the road.

Scanning the house, I quickly decide to bring Jim, the assistant patrol leader, up to my present location. I get Andy’s attention, point to him, then send him the security signal, index and middle finger forming a “V” held under my eyes. I bump the  stock of my AR with my closed fist, then holding my palm facing down I show him two fingers pointing down, close my fist, then five fingers, also pointed down, (25 meters) and point in the direction I want him to go in order to provide left side flank security.

Next I motion Jim to join me and for Al to provide right side security at his present location, using the freeze/hold sign, a closed fist. Both Al and Andy know to include rear security in their respective sector scans. 360 degree security is ALWAYS our first priority

Jim joins me in the prone under a small copse of bushes at the edge of the clearing where we have an unobstructed view of the homestead below. Through the binos our gaze is immediately drawn to the bodies of a man and boy laying about 15 feet apart in the tall grass of the large overgrown yard behind the 1 story ranch style house. Or what is left of the bodies. It appeared that they had been worked over pretty good by coyotes or buzzards. Four of the large black birds are standing around the adult now. The man, who was fully clothed except for his bare feet, is laying on his back with both arms, which are probably bound, under him. If he had a face above his bearded chin, it would be staring into the sky. His torso has been ripped open by the scavengers who have been after his intestines, which were strung out like random lumpy red and yellow ropes around his body, as well as his lungs and other organs.

“Jim, looks like his head and face have been crushed like an egg. That’s not something coyotes can do.”

“Yeah, whispers Jim. I’d say someone took a sledgehammer to him.” After a moment’s hesitation he adds “Dan, take a look at the young’uns neck.”

The boy was thankfully laying on his side away from us but I noticed his head is laying at an odd angle. Looking closer, I see a thin piece of line or thick wire that had been pulled so tight it around his neck that it has nearly severed his head. His wrists have been bound behind his back then lashed to his bound feet.

“Father and son” Jim grumbles as he lowers his binos and turns to look at me. I see the darkness in his eyes.

I’d seen that look and heard that tone from him in the past and it usually meant it was going to end very badly for someone. Jim is a fellow that keeps score.

We both turn back to the scene below when Jim nudges me and says, “Dan…the clothes line at the far side of the house.”

To the left side of the house I see the line. Hanging among the now wet sheets, towels, pants and shirts are several dresses.

“Dresses?…. Women….. Where are they?” I think to myself.

Glassing the house carefully, I look for any sign of other bodies. Nothing. There are no bullet holes to be seen from our angle in the wooden structure. All the window glass is still intact. The back door is open into the house and is hanging loosely from the top hinge.

“They gained entry from the back” I think out loud. “Subdued the family inside, bound those two, but why drag them outside to finish them?

“Dunno,” Jim whispers back. “Who knows why friggin” psychos do what they do.” He pauses for a few seconds, then adds slowly in a flat tone, “All I know is… this won’t stand.”

“No it won’t. Not if I can do anything about it” I think to myself.

A small stone building set into the hill to the right of the house was most likely the family’s root cellar. Most folks in the mountains have built them to store their garden produce and home-canned goods in when electricity for refrigeration had become unreliable. The root cellar door, with the hasp and lock still attached, has been torn from its hinges and now lies flat on the ground near the small building. Empty canning jars and lids are scattered on the trampled grass around the front of the root cellar where the looters had eaten the family’s carefully raised, prepared and stored food.

Jim remembers Wade throwing the empty canning jar he had been eating from, out of the UTV earlier in the day.

The last building in our field of view is a small shed just below us at the bottom of the hill. It’s situated next to a piece of tilled ground, which was most likely the family’s garden plot. On one side of the shed is a covered area where several cords of split fire wood are neatly stacked. The closed portion of the shed had been their chicken coop, but it’s now empty except for a few feathers on the ground near the open coop door.

While I am trying to wrap my head around the scene below, Jim throws yet another wrench in the works. He slowly says as if thinking to himself “Wonder why no one has buried those two yet? Why have they been left to rot and be eaten by the critters? Where are their neighbors and other family?”

Jim is right. No one lives alone out in the sticks anymore. In order to survive in the small, isolated coves of these mountains, everyone lives in small clusters of family and friends who help and look out for one another.

That little switch in my head clicks. “Time to go Jim. We need to get to the objective and call this in. Nothing we can do for them now.”

“Sucks that we can’t bury them” Jim says flatly.

“Turn it off man. We’ve seen a lot worse.” I reply without looking at him as I slip my ruck on and start to back out from under the bushes.

“Still sucks” he says.

NC_Wayah Bald_165034_1957_24000_geo-001-001 Story part 5