Sunday, January 24, 2010

Praxis: Rattlesnakes and Copperheads. A thoughtful comment from O'Ryan deserving more consideration.

There is more than one kind of snake in woods.

Copperhead: mean, swift, venomous and silent, it gives no warning before striking and will pursue you once disturbed, until you are gone or it is dead.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Praxis: Some light reading on Guerrilla Counter Intelligence" --

O'Ryan Sends:

The JSOU publication is a good one, however I estimate that most of it's contents will be lost on the modern American guerrilla. The reasons are simple but difficult to fix, to wit:

Militia culture focuses on the kinetic activities, not the quieter domains of intelligence, perception management and clandestine operations. Most militia (and I use the term broadly) think in terms of fighting a II or III GEN war, not in terms of modern insurgency. Militias have no real influence operations or the intelligence apparatus to drive them. I've been told that perception management is like “lying” and “that's what the government does, not what we do.” Without perception shaping and the entirety of low-level psychological operations, every kinetic victory the militia has will be embarrassing nullified by the Oppositions use of the same. They'll never keep up let alone win. The people will always be against them. They will never win the vital human terrain.

When Militia members look at intelligence at all, it's from a II-III GEN perspective: the situation map, Forward Edge of Battle Area, platoons and fronts. I've not seen much application of network analysis and target exploitation. There is no real HUMINT collection because the militia lack fundamental capability in this domain. HUMINT is the guerrillas fundamental collection modality because the guerrillas fundamental opponent are human networks---not tanks, Chinese divisions or NORTHCOM massing it's forces in Colorado. It's really a shame because HUMINT is relatively easy and requires little technology.

The militias need more intelligence training and application. Low-level HUMINT, analysis, Close Target Reconnaissance and HUMINT enabled SIGINT and less talk radio. Mark Koernke is not an intelligence source and military publications are written for an audience with a large supporting infrastructure. There is plenty of information available for militias to develop really a spectacular intelligence capability, but the militias, for a variety of reasons, have not matured to this.

Because militias lack basic HUMINT capability, they lack basic HUMINT knowledge and are unable to perform counter-intelligence. There are no fine grained background checks to vet prospective applicants---ensuring that the Opposition can always stay inside their OODA loop. There is no Intelligence Preparation of the Environment to develop the intelligence fabric for operations. Because of this, the militias are always several moves behind while the Opposition is always several moves ahead. The militias cannot “detect” the Opposition let alone “finish” them.

An indicator of militia evolution will be their development of a low-level intelligence capability that has degraded, denied or disrupted an operation against them.

I've met a few individual actors that understand this. Some have interesting military backgrounds, others are entirely self-taught and to good effect. They don't get involved in militias because militias are a giant boy's club with OPSEC problems. Further, militias just don't want to learn anything that would upset their self image of modern Minutemen fighting with honor on some contemporary Breed's Hill.

The Opposition is allot more cutthroat. Plus they do intelligence very well---as we have seen with the Oppositions use of informants (or 'sources' in the HUMINT lexicon).

Until the militias develop a functional intelligence capability, they will never be a fighting force.


Please read through the above again and consider how it applies to you and your area of operations. Here are my thoughts:

For the public militias, the larger groups, this is certainly true. Many are still preparing for attrition warfare on a model that was out-dated even in the 90s when it was the norm. Yet, the threat of further federal government misadventure after Waco was short-circuited by the implicit threat of just shooting back if it happened again. This worked in the 90s because the Clintonistas were not, in the end, serious about what they were about. Clinton was in it for the power, yes, but also for the babes. The present administration is far more ideological and driven, and the thought and resources devoted to domestic counter-insurgency and the surveillance are now far more capable and fully-formed than in the 90s, grown exponentially courtesy of Dubya by the PATRIOT Act and the counter-guerrilla experiences in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But then, so is what John Robb would call our potential "open source insurgency."

While I appreciate the fact that patriotic Americans are once again forming public units -- the rattlesnake on the Gadsden flag -- the fact of the matter is that this time around more folks contemplating resistance rather resemble copperheads than rattlesnakes, to complete the reptilian analogy.

A rattlesnake announces its potential strike, telling you that you're trespassing and giving fair warning. A copperhead lurks, letting you walk by unaware if it wishes. But woe betide you when it strikes because it gives no warning and will pursue you when disturbed, and it doesn't give a damn about how much bigger or more evolved you are than it. I know, I've been chased by copperheads more than once while on militia FTXs or exploring the foundations of old historic home sites in north Alabama. Once, I disturbed a foundation stone of the old Pillar place up on LaGrange Mountain -- the scene of a post-Civil War politically motivated double murder -- only to be chased by TWO of them. Fortunately I had my .45 and killed them both while furiously back-pedaling, but only after expending an entire magazine. Color me embarrassed. Well, I never said I was Sergeant Alvin York. The point is, they gave no warning and they never stopped coming until I killed them.

Yet the term "militia unit" covers a lot of ground, generally describing a host of different kinds of organizations with different missions. A "traditional" public unit certainly is capable of neighborhood (even county-wide in some places) defense of public order, in assistance of established law enforcement or in the absence of it. Some of these, most in fact, I would rank with the "common militias" of 1775. Others are far better trained and battle-ready, capable of either security missions or tyranny resistance fighting from the jump. These I would rank as today's Minutemen. There are also units who specialize in intelligence gathering. The overwhelming majority of these are run by men (and women, I discovered recently) who have training from Fort Huachuca and real-world experience in intelligence support of anti-guerrilla operations. These folks do not take out advertisements in the local newspaper. Some have tactical components they support, some do not. Yet they exist, in place, silent as copperheads, gathering intelligence on the likely OPFOR.

I asked one of these men a few months back how he would utilize the intel he routinely (and I must say incessantly) gathers. He gave me a pained look. "If I can know who our enemies are, I can also find out who our friends are by the same process." I pressed him on this point, asking for specifics. He gave them, and I was suitably impressed.

It is important to remember that Paul Revere would not have made his famous ride, without being informed of the British movement by the whisper of a spy (likely Mrs. General Gage). Civil wars, which are first and foremost ideological conflicts, are characterized by an infinite number of personal decisions, often taken by people best placed to make use of their core beliefs. Mrs. Gage, who loved her husband, loved her country more and destroyed her marriage on its altar. How many more of her like exist today? Many, I would guess, because the present regime is, by its plain contempt for the Constitution evinced in its actions, shedding its legitimacy faster than King George the Third.

In a civil war, King's men desert, or turn their units back upon the royal cause. Volunteers step forward from the most unlikely of places. All are motivated by a common thread -- the burning desire in many human hearts to be free. I say many, not all, because there are some folks who just prefer being slaves.

Yet there are many man and women out there who are preparing to resist. Some are riflemen, some are logistics officers, some are trainers, some are spies, and some are intelligence analysts. Many, many of these are veterans. This is what keeps the more intelligent of our domestic enemies up at night (few they may be) -- they realize that they don't know what they don't know. They don't know how thoroughly they are penetrated now, or will be in the future as people are mobilized by events, by folks who will resist their future grab for absolute power. They do not know how many potential Ned Broy's their own ranks contain.

Michael Collins was successful in his day. He would not, with the same level of operational security, be successful today. Today we cannot count on one Michael Collins, but we must rely on many, all motivated by a common cause. We need many "Squads" of "Twelve Apostles." The fact is, there already is more than one potential Michael Collins' out there, just as we possess more than twelve "Apostles."

It is up to us to encourage this line of thinking in the oppressors' tiny brains. They think they can deal with the rattlesnakes. But there exists many more than one kind of snake in the woods. Can they deal with the copperheads they carry unnoticed in their pockets? The strategic uncertainty generated by that disturbing thought may yet prevent a civil war.

It is also up to us to encourage the thinking, planning and actions on our side necessary to carry the fight, if it is forced upon us by unconstitutional depredations, straight at the throats of those who would rob us of our liberty, our property and our lives.

I am a mere scribbler in that effort, pointing out certain salient points of fact and conjecture. It will be up to others to make use of my scribblings, if necessary, may God forbid.

This I know. I have no doubt that should the domestic enemies of the Constitution make their final, bloody move, many will be terminally surprised by how many copperheads -- human, informed, intelligent copperheads -- will pursue them silently and remorselessly until they are dead and their malignant collectivist revolution against the Founders' Republic is consigned to the dustbin of history.



Larry said...

Excellent post and I hope it is widely distributed. You may be a mere scribbler, but we have seen how important that is to the preparation of the battlespace. David Koresh was completely painted as a childmolester before the Government molested all the children in the church by burning them to death to the applause of the populace. We don't have to make anything up, we just need to keep shining the light of truth and let the cockroaches be cockroaches to the reproach of all. And to the applause of the populace when they are finally exterminated.


James said...

I agree in principle with O'Ryan but I'm inclinded to give liberty's defenders the last word when it's finally "on".

Part of the problem of HUMINT from a militiaman's point of view is that the vast majority of the public, from which the HUMINT would come, are not aware of the struggle...yet.

Are we to three percent now or is three percent applicable when it finally starts?

If the latter, then we have more to add to the ranks and more HUMINT will follow. If the former, then it could be a lop-sided fight as suggested.


Scamp1776 said...

Excellent - much to think about - esp the synergy of copperheads & rattlesnakes fighting the same fight... with the Great Snake Wrangler of the Universe as the 3C... "Be wise like unto the Serpent."... I almost pity those traitorous zombies (for they are indeed the walking dead).

rustynail said...

The link to Ft. Huachuca brings up a rather disturbing screen warning that you are accessing a U.S. Government site and that by doing so, your data and/or system may be seized by the U.S. Government at any time. I don't know what to make of that, but I didn't agree to the conditions at this time.


Anonymous said...

"They" (the Statists/Communists) should read, "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross to envision how the "Copperhead" strategy might develop. There's more ways to fight an insurgency than just firefights in the streets.


Unknown said...

Let's frame this discussion (note: it's a discussion, not a debate.) in another way. In Vietnam we learned that timing is an -if not the- important element.

Start an operation at the wrong time and the elements are against you. See Napolean B. and the Russian campaign, Hitler and the Russian campaign, etc. To a musician, timing makes music out of sound, to a soldier, timing makes order out of doubt, and so on.

Timing, in the context of an insurgency, means throwing out the illusion that it will be men (and women) lining up to face the British soldiers at Concord Bridge. It means that as Mike said, less kinetics and more strategy. It means not fighting more than decisive battles. It means waiting and taking advantage of weaknesses in the enemy strategy and tactics. It means going about one's daily routine until the timing is right and the advantage belongs to your side.

If you get your ideas about insurgency from the TV or novels, you get the wrong ideas. Jack Bauer gets his job done in an hour, including commercials. The war is over in days, not years. But reality will be very much different. We can take lessons from the North Vietnamese in this regard. They prevailed in the South because politicians and the press became convinced that we were losing while, in fact the communists were losing. Had the timing been different, democracy (of a sort) might have prevailed.

The communists prevailed because they were persistent and patient.

Like the copperhead, we must wait for the opportunity, we must choose the time, we must pursue viciously, we must not spend our resources when there is no gain.

There will be painful losses. There will be setbacks and outright defeats on a tactical level. An insurgency, should it come to that, may take decades. It may see today's insurgent grow old, only to see his son or grandson take up the cause.

It's really not about assault rifles and ammunition, it's about patience and timing.


W W Woodward said...

I use the following comparison of Rattlesnakes and Copperheads in my Legal Use of Force as well as in my Firearm classes.

Rattlesnakes almost always rattle (make threats) prior to striking. The rattle snake often gets his head stomped before he ever get his bite.

The Copperhead on the other hand never gives warning, he just strikes. The copperhead may get his head stomped but he, at least, does get that first bite.

Never make threats. Always strike from an unanticipated location. Always have the edge. Make use of available camo and cover. Get that first bite. Have a backdoor available.


Anonymous said...

15 years ago, on a public shooting range, I encountered one of these "militia" types.

He had seen too many John Wayne movies and he kept bitching moaning about the Viet Cong (and it was very obvious that everything he knew about Victor Charlie came from seeing The Duke in "The Green Berets" over and over).

Those VC weren't real men, he said. They were cowards. Always sneakin' around and hiding, and pretending to be something they weren't.

He kept asking me, like he actually expected an answer, "Why don't ya just fly your flag, and let the chips fall where they may?"

I thought to myself, because you want a chance to win, and you don't want to get uselessly butchered underneath your flag?

Way too many in both the militia and "freedom movement" are way too caught up in publicly beating their rugged individualist chests.

Anonymous said...

Pay Attention to what is happening everyday in Irag and Afganistan.

This is NOT about the war or if you support it or not. this is about teh lessons that can be learned from it.

The US miliitary has been bogged down fighting insurgents (Freedom Fighters, If you will) there are important lessons to be learned if one pays attentions.

Anonymous said...

Okay, you get your intelligence, somehow, and want to make use of it.


I like the idea that there be no head to cut off, no leadership that can be neutralized. I don't like, too much, that individual areas are starting out already cut-off from others, because it's the safe way to do it.

What do you do with what you learn?

The only thing I can see right now is that intel has to be used locally, and apart from some grand unifying strategy. Without resources culled from current authorized powers, without the assets available to people in power now, your intel-driven efforts will have little meaningful effect.

The Holy Grail, as I see it, will be people from within the beast, working against it. The other side simply has too much capability in all areas to be overcome. Most concerning to me is their EYES and EARS. Electronic forms of communication will be overwhelmed with the latest in eavesdropping capability, spoofing, redirect and alteration. The Right side will have a hard time moving about and sharing if it has no idea what the Wrong side can actually do, without detection.

How do you deal with these things?

Copperhead said...

We should already be developing our networks of support and intel.

We also should - imho - be the classic "gray man" in the process.

Mike serves as our collective "rattle" - but he's also a very VERY obvious target if the unthinkable starts. He's another "line in the sand" for us - and like others, if they touch him I will do my best to reap vengeance 100-fold.

The rest of us should be quiet and invisible, so as to be overlooked -- we are the copperheads.

Carefully feel out those who MIGHT be trustworthy, but NEVER let anyone else know -- consummate perfect OPSEC is the proper order.

I don't want to be seen, if I am noticed at all I want to be immediately judged as "harmless sheep".

I am a wolf -- more accurately a sheep-dog -- in sheep's clothing.

Build your network, but all QT, no big "meetings", nobody brings anybody else in without 100% unanimous approval, and then only to meet 1 or MAYBE 2 others. If I don't know, I can't be forced to tell it.

The Internet gives us abilities that are still almost unfathomable. With total precautions we could remain invisible.

Find out how to use Tor, and encrypted e-mail. Encrypt ALL of your mail so you don't give away opsec by only encrypting messages to other "gray men."

Be invisible - be the copperhead...

thedweeze said...

1) Study the manuals, especially military/SWAT texts on assaulting a fixed position. That's what they'll try to do to you. Make sure you have an escape route available.

2) Try and avoid .223 caliber weapons, as that's what they'l be using. These guys are going to be spraying bullets all over the place, so when the little old lady's body is found with .223 holes in her, it will be a simple matter of pointing out that it can't be you. There will be news people in the area. Find them. Do not allow them to control the info war. Try to make it a live appearance, so you can't get your message edited.

3) Make sure the only people you shoot have uniforms on. It won't take long for the folks to figure out that they're in much greater danger from them than you. And be sure to let the uniforms know that you're quite dangerous to them. Aimed fire. The survivors need to know that every time they hear your rifle, one of them is already dead. The growing fear will make them escalate the violence. You want that.

4) Take a few seconds after you've taken the armor and sidearm and grab the radio. Until they figure out you're listening, you will be inside their comm loop.

See? If you use your imagination, you can apply the lessons of the monograph to your own particular situation. Don't worry about what you don't have: adapt and overcome. Do what you need to survive initial contact. Once they show their hand, winning hearts and minds will be easier. Let them do most of the work. Find an internet cafe or public library to communicate with the outside (and don't use the same place twice).

Anonymous said...

Guys I think some points have been missed and too many are getting caught up in reptile anologies. Reality is not as simple as the presence or lack of a rattle on the tail. Read what O'Ryan has posted 10 times until it sinks in what he is saying. Stop deluding yourself into believing that someone will provide this task once the shooting starts. I have been thinking along the lines of O'Ryan for several months. I have studied the Militia movement for some time and even have considered joining a unit. I came to the same conclusions that O'Ryan has pointed out. Lets get this clear so we can begin to address the shortcomings.

Its not all about guns. The type of thing that O'Ryan is talking about is going to require a commitment to doing things that are not sexy, like reading data. Face it thats why most of you have this fantasy that this task will be performed by others and you will fill a shooting role. No one wants to admit that you may have to fight the revolution behind a computer screan and not a gun site. Stop thinking about battle rifles so much and begin thinking about secure communications, data mining and how you are going to get this data to those that can act on it.

The last point leads to open source insurgency. If you have not read John Rob stop reading this and go there now do a little summary skiming we will wait.....okay now that you have a little bit of an idea here is what it boils down to.
There is no leadership beyond the local level. Small units share information and ideas,information is an asset to be given freely not horded like a dragons gold. think of new ways to do things and publish them often enough to keep ahead of the enemies counter to your last method. Provided that all units have an idea about the overall goal (ala adaptive leadership) then all actions taken independently by the various groups lead to that goal. Tasks are not determined by a single leader they are identified by concensus and accepted by groups independently.

Imagine the following
Bay City
September 2010
Ten independent insurgent groups operate in this city. They do not know each other they have no overall leader. They walk the streets daily and carry on their lives. They do not carry rifles and may not even carry a pistol but they are more powerful than any field army. They watch and gather information. They share this information with each other via various methods electronic, paper, word of mouth go betweens. Once actionable information has been gathered then one or more units will act. This is a network with multiple nodes that can not be taken down in its entirity because it does not have a single point of failure.

To get to this point you need to be thinking about building a small unit of intellegence agents not a fireteam. Its good to learn the Fireteam info but that should be your starting place not the end.
I envision a unit that includes 50%shooters who will act on intel gathered and 50% desk jockey hackers that will mine the databases on the intertube for any and all information about our enemies (at a personal level!)


Scamp1776 said...

This seems to be going in the right direction... keep in mind this caveat re: FedGov... they have allot of tools but little skill... Ignore jingoistic MSM 'news' and look at any reality 'cop'show or study Gen. Van Riper:

Low tech can get it done... motivation and LEADERSHIP are essential... Semper Gumby... III%

Unknown said...

Intel drives operations. In the IO war info drives kinetics. We are in an IO war and it will always be an IO war. Insurgency takes place amongst the people, you the insurgents are vying for the loyalty and support of that human terrain. Within that human terrain lies the domain of "will" (the will of the population, the enemy and the insurgency) in addition you have the domain of morality which one could couple with will if desired however fighting within the moral domain and defeating the enemy within it requires that you "manage" the perceptions via an adequate IO platform and related intelligence centric platforms. Look at Afghanistan- we bomb a compound, we bomb it becuase tech or HUMINT sources ID'D the G's in that location. By the time the press shows up, more often than not alerted to the bombing by the G's if not taken directly there by them or their allies and what do you know....all G'S are gone....only dead lying about are kids, women, goats, dogs...true or not it is what it is- perception- G's are good, local's are good, U.S. is bad....local population comes to hate the U.S. if they don't already, international community continually spanks the bad U.S., elements within the U.S. believe U.S. forces are "bad". Insurgency grows....did the G's fire a shot? Nope...they drove the perception via IO. Hopefully you can all be as dumb as the cave dwellers. There is a time and a place for everything. There will be a time for kinetics and a time for IO...there will be a time for the knife and the suppressed weapon and a time for going loud. All tools in the tool box though you need to know when to employ the appropriate tools.

Virgil sends.....

Anonymous said...

How do us isolated folk find anyone worth talking to?