Piling On: You're On Your Own (YOYO), Part 3

Part 1: YOYO and The Thin Veneer of Civilization
Part 2: The Time Machine

By R. L. Seigneur, Major (Ret.)

Piling On

As a career military officer, I know enough about US military capabilities that I never worried much about our ability to defeat any one country if we were attacked. However, I remain very concerned that several enemies could coordinate their efforts and together attack the US mainland and/or US interests with overwhelming force.

Current US military capabilities are heavily dependent on satellites and the internet. Current US military thinking on the future force is to use all available technology to create a highly efficient, light and lean force that is networked together to see the battle space clearly and act/react so quickly that the opposition cannot keep pace.

If and when our adversaries decide to attack us one of their first actions will be to take out our satellites, and take down the internet and/or computer systems. As of January 19, 2007, we now know the Chinese have the capability to shot down satellites, and we have know for years that a nuclear weapon fired off the US coast by submarine and programmed to air-burst over the US mainland can take down the internet and computers with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The Department of Defense (DoD) defines electromagnetic pulse as “The electromagnetic radiation from a strong electronic pulse, most commonly caused by a nuclear explosion that may couple with electrical or electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges.”

Should China, Russia, Iran, Syria, North Korea, etc. collaborate and simultaneously attack US interests using a full spectrum approach (nuclear, conventional, and asymmetric), you can see this scenario would not be good to say the least.

Negative Synergy

“Synergy” can be defined as “An advantageous integration where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Imagine that future (and current) US forces, constructed to optimize technology, lose their technology edge. How long are these light and lean forces going to survive on the battle field if they can't see clearly and can't act/react quickly? Now their lightness and leanness conspire to work against them. I would suggest that once these technology-dependent, net-centric forces lose their satellites and/or networks they will experience negative synergy: A disadvantageous integration where the whole is less than the sum of the parts.

If you don't care for the term negative synergy perhaps you'll accept the term and concept of cascading failure (from Wiekpedia), “The failure in a system of interconnected parts, where the service provided depends on the operation of a preceding part, and the failure of a preceding part can trigger the failure of successive parts.”

Security, Security, Security!

If the US Army taught me anything it taught me to put out security in a tactical environment-360 degrees of security (in one form or another) at all times.
One well known incident of poor security happened to a well trained recon team in Vietnam. This particular recon (reconnaissance) team concluded that in a team of approximately six team members, someone would always be awake at night for one reason or another; therefore, there was no need to mandate that everyone would pull a rotating, one hour watch throughout the night. One night they set up in a good night defense position and when to sleep. When the team became over due, a helicopter (as I remember) flew over the area they were patrolling to look for them. The entire team was found lying in the open, stripped of all equipment and uniforms, with their throats cut.

Run Silent, Run Deep

In my opinion, one key to staying alive during a total breakdown in law and order will be to become as elusive as a whitetail deer by reverting back to the skills and attitudes of our hunter-gather ancestors. To get the point across, imagine in your mind which will survive better and longer in a Mad Max scenario, a domesticated dog or a wolf/coyote? The more you become a swamp fox, the better your chances to survive another day. The domesticated-dog-types who walk around in the open looking for a handout or to be taken in by a kindly stranger will not last long.

A recent story of a wolf attack in Eagle River, Alaska highlights some key points. From that article, a description of the attacking wolves and wolves in general is instructive:

Think or Die

Regardless of what comes at you, you'll have to effectively deal with it. Use you instincts and every brain cell you have to survive. Whatever the challenge or obstacle, you have to deal with it or be defeated by it. Adapt to the weather. Adapt to the terrain. Adapt to the tactics of your opposition. And remember that what works today will not work forever because your opposition will be adapting to you. I've observed that many people feel confident because the have things, maybe a nice weapon, that they think will somehow magically fix all their problems. They won't. The number one survival tool you have is the computer between your ears and the instincts that go with it. You'll have to decide--and decide correctly--when it's time to stay, and when it's time to go. You'll have to decide when it time to be on defense, and when it's time to go on offense. If thinking in terms of the principles of warfare has value, you'll have to decide which principle to apply at the appropriate time:

The Kindness of Strangers

While the average American assumes wars will be fought according to the Geneva Conventions, experience shows this is often wishful thinking. I've lost count of number of US military troops that have been captured in Iraq and later executed. Most likely they were tortured and molested, then executed, although the news media isn't going to tell you this.

You may assume that as recently as the Cold War Soviet forces were well versed in the Geneva Conventions, but Viktor Suvorov's book, Spetsnaz, provides us with surprising evidence they were not:

One of the Spetsnaz soldier's main tasks is to seek out important enemy targets, for which purpose he has to capture people and extract the necessary information by force. …

It may be claimed that not every prisoner will agree to answer the questions put to him, or give wrong answers and lead their interrogators astray. To which my reply is categorical. Everybody answers questions from Spetsnaz. There are no exceptions. I have been asked how long a very strong person can hold out against questioning by Spetsnaz. The answer is: one second. If you don't believe this, just try this experiment. Get one of your friends who considers himself a strong character to write on a piece of paper a number known only to himself and seal the paper in an envelope. Then tie your friend to a post or a tree and ask him what number he wrote on the paper. If he refuses to answer, file his teeth down with a big file and count the time. Having received the answer, open the envelope and check that he has given you the number written on the paper. I guarantee the answer will be correct.

If you perform such an experiment, you will have an idea of one of Spetsnaz's milder ways of questioning people. But there are more effective and reliable ways of making a person talk. Everyone who falls into the hands of Spetsnaz knows he is going to be killed. But people exert themselves to give correct and precise answers. They are not fighting for there lives but for an easy death. Prisoners are generally interrogated in twos or larger groups. If one seems to know less than the others, he can be used for demonstration purposes to encourage them to talk. If the questioning is being done in a town the prisoner may have a heater iron placed on his body, or have his ears pierced with an electric drill, or be cut to pieces with an electric saw. A man's fingers are particularly sensitive. If a finger of a man being questioned is simply bent back and the end of the finger squashed as it is bent, the pain is unendurable. One method considered very effective is a form of torture known as 'the bicycle'. A man is bound and laid on his back. Pieces of paper (or cotton or rags) soaked in spirit, eau-de-cologne, etc., are stuck between his fingers and set alight.

Spetsnaz has a special passion for sexual organs. If the conditions permit, a very old and simple method is used to demonstrate the power of spetsnaz. The captors drive a big wedge into the trunk of a tree, then force the victim's sexual organs into the opening and knock out the wedge. They then proceed to question the other prisoners. At the same time, in order to make them more talkative, the principal spetsnaz weapon - the little infantryman's spade - is used. As spetsnaz asks its questions the blade of the spade is used to cut off ears and fingers, to hit the victims in the liver and perform a whole catalogue of unpleasant operations on the person under interrogation. …

Once it has obtained the information it needs about the targets of interest to it, the spetsnaz group checks the facts and then kills the prisoners. It should be particularly noted that those who have told the truth do have an easy death. They may be shot, hanged, have their throats cut or drowned.

Spetsnaz does not torture anybody for the sake of torture. You come across particularly no sadists in spetsnaz. If they find one they quickly get rid of him. Both the easier and the tougher forms of questioning in spetsnaz are an unavoidable evil that fighting men have to accept. They use these methods, not out of a love of torturing people, but as the simplest and most reliable way of obtaining information essential to their purpose.

Given a total breakdown in law and order for any reason (“YOYO” scenario), expecting humane treatment from your captors is most likely extremely naïve. That being said, your clan's/band's/tribe's mindset, training, and practices should be based on never voluntarily being taken alive.

Train by Hollywood (TBH)

Regardless of whether we admit it or not, we've all been trained to some degree by Hollywood by watching their movies. And that training, generally speaking, can get you killed in a hurry. For example:

I could go on, but the point is to challenge what you think you know and try to identify where it came from-garbage in, garbage out.

Get Small

One day during an exercise in which the USMC was opposing the 82nd Airborne, I saw the prettiest skirmish line one could ever hope to see. Unfortunately, I would have been one of its victims. While patrolling down a road in our gun jeeps (M151 jeeps with pedestal mounted M-60, 7.62mm machine guns), we (one of the Recon platoons assigned to each infantry battalion of the 82nd Airborne) bumped smack into a Marine platoon lying in the prone and spaced out into a perfect skirmish line in a farmer's recently plowed field. We did our best to cover our hasty retreat with machine gun fire, but we knew who would have taken the most casualties that day, and it wasn't the Marines.

Terrain permitting, many if not most infantry-type shooting scenarios that take place outside “the city” call for you to get into a prone position (lying on your belly) and putting out rounds as quickly and accurately as you can. If you think you can fire as effectively from a standing position or knelling position as you can from a prone position, say, at 150 yards, you have not been to the range in a long, long time. The prone position has the double advantage of making the shooter a small target as well as providing a stable shooting position. WWII-, Korean-, Vietnam-, and Cold War-era infantry vets know exactly what I'm talking about here. If you doubt me, go ask one of them. When appropriate, my most fundamental advice to you is to “get small”-get into a good prone firing position. Generally speaking, those that stand tall when they could “get small” are bound to take a nasty fall.

Good Wolves and Bad Wolves

I'm guessing you have heard the analogy of there being three kinds of people in the world: Sheep, sheep dogs, and wolves. Generally speaking, people fall into one category or the other. The “wolves” are the criminal types that prey on the sheep. “Sheep” are the people that need someone to protect them from the wolves. And the “sheep dogs” are the armed citizen-, veteran-, police-, and military-types that tend to be naturally deposed to protect the sheep from the wolves. That being said, there's more to the story. In my opinion, and I'm just speculating here, because the sheep significantly out number the sheep dogs, the sheep dogs will, at some point, start acting somewhat like wolves because as much as they might want to help the sheep, the numbers of sheep will simply overwhelm them.

The numbers just don't add up. Assuming that the wolves constitute between 4-10 percent of the population during a total break down in law and order, and during that same time period, the sheep dogs constitute between 4-10 percent of the population, under a best case scenario (10 percent sheep dogs), the sheep still out number the sheep dogs 8 to 1. Do you really think one (1) sheep dog can truly care for 8 sheep when the sheep have failed to secure not only weapons and ammo, but have failed to secure a three month food supply, proper clothing, relevant training, etc.? Well, I don't see how the sheep dogs are going to be able to do it. That being said, I think the sheep dogs well save the select few sheep they can, and push the rest of the sheep out to fend for themselves. If you're one of the sheep being pushed out, that sheep dog doing the pushing is going to start looking like a wolf to you. You can quibble over the number if you like, but, in my opinion, the reality holds true. “YOYO” may take on a deeper meaning than any of us ever suspected it would.

The Optimum “YOYO” Rifle

My personal view of the optimum “YOYO” rifle would address the need to deal with vehicles, roadblocks, barricades, and semi-hardened targets as well those humanoids that have gone over to the dark side. Even if you have decided to depart the area and relocate to a safer location, if and when you encounter a roadblock manned by bandits of the lowest order, you won't have artillery or air power to help get you out of a bad spot. Your best bet is to have selected a rifle capable of both dropping land-pirates in their tracks, and penetrating vehicles and semi-hardened targets without breaking a sweat.

One contender for the mission is the civilian version of the new DPMS .308 rifle. This rifle fires what most agree is a “high powered” cartridge, the 7.62 x 51mm, or .308 Winchester. The semiautomatic LR-308 has a 19-round, detachable magazine, long sight radius, and fires a 30-caliber bullet weighing approximately 150 grains (or more if desired) very accurately. It is a very effective man stopper, and will penetrate most hasty barriers like a hot knife going through butter.

Any quality 7.62 x 51mm/.308 Winchester, semi-auto, infantry-type rifle (DS Arms' FAL). Do your research and make sure you understand where you can obtain the correct ammo for your particular rifle, in the needed quantities, and at the right price. Rifles of this type can be damaged by shooting some military surplus ammo as well as commercial, off-the-shelf, hunting ammo that was load too “hot” for these semi-autos. Before you buy anything, do your research on the correct, safe ammo.

What's Wrong with the M-16/AR-15?

There nothing really wrong with the M-16/AR-15 rifle as long as you understand the following:

A One-gun Solution?

For those of us on a tight budget, if given the option of buying only one gun, I'd seriously consider a shotgun and plenty of reduced-recoil/managed recoil slugs supplemented with reduced-recoil buckshot, and birdshot. More specifically, I recommend a Remington Model 870 Express Turkey Camo, Remington order # 25152.

Advantages of this particular firearm follow:

Using this gun with Remington's 12 gage, 2 3/4 inch “Slugger Managed-Recoil Rifled Slugs” (Item #: RL12RS) is a true winner in my opinion for many a tactical situation.

Advantages of these managed recoil slugs follow:

Advantages and disadvantages of a smooth bore, pump shot gun:

Reconnaissance by Fire

Assuming a total break down in law and order, here's a trick you need to know because it can be used by you or against you. “Reconnaissance by fire” is a technique to draw the enemy's fire (weapons fire) thereby confirming their presence and location. Assuming the enemy is present but unconfirmed, you can often draw enemy fire by initiating the fire yourself.

To illustrate, picture you are out on reconnaissance patrol, patrolling what you consider to be your turf. You can get help fairly soon if you needed it because your base camp is not that far way. You stop the patrol because you think there may be bad guys in a grove of trees. You have no evidence they are there, but your instincts/experience tells you: 1) you need to confirm there is or is not bad guys in the grove of trees, and 2) you need to do this without getting somebody killed foolishly. So, instead of sending in a scout to kick the bushes and shake the trees, you tell the patrol it will do a reconnaissance by fire. When directed, the entire patrol fires their weapons into the grove of trees as if they know the enemy if there. If the enemy takes the bait, they shoot back confirming the presence and location. Now the fight is on, but you did your reconnaissance job well-you confirmed the area (your area of responsibility) did contain enemy troops, and did not get anyone killed needlessly by sending a scout in to kick the bushes. Obviously, if you're on enemy turf, still undetected, and outnumbered, using this technique would be counter productive.

Now that you understand the technique, imagine you are now the ones lying in the grove of trees on their turf, when the bad guys try to use reconnaissance by fire to get you to confirm your presence and location, you know to hug the ground, don't return fire, and laugh as quietly as you can.

During the Viet Nam War, some units made it a division-wide practice to use a variation of reconnaissance by fire. They called it the “Mad Minute.”
It would commonly be used when a large infantry unit was sweeping through “Indian County” (contested area) on a multi-day, search and destroy-type mission, and set up a battalion size night defensive position. Knowing that most attacks on a night defensive position of this type would occur at first light or at dusk, the commander would have everyone “stand-to” on the perimeter and fire their weapons at likely targets outside the perimeter for approximately one minute.

The effect of this firing had a twofold purpose: 1) it encouraged the enemy to confirm their presence and give away their position(s), and 2) it tended to break up the attack that was to occur very shortly. Of course, once the enemy understood the goals of the mad minute, they tended to hug the ground, not return fire, and laugh as quietly as possible, then attack when ordered. American forces felt good about using this technique even in a contested area because with artillery, air power, and reinforcements a radio call away they normally surmised that they could dominate the battlefield. And since their mission was to search out and destroy the enemy, going into a night defensive, using themselves as bait, and using artillery and/or air power to rack up a good body count was one way to accomplish the mission.

Given a “YOYO” scenario, understanding reconnaissance by fire is a nice piece of knowledge to put in your trick bag.

Defense is Superior to Offense

“Fixed fortifications are monuments to man's stupidity.”

“In war the only sure defense is offense, and the efficiency of the offense depends on the warlike souls of those conducting it.”
--General George S. Patton, Jr.

Yep, the accomplishments of General Patton in WWII along with the assistance of the actor George C. Scott undoubtedly convinced a generation of movie goers that the offense is somehow always superior to the defense.

Taken from the eye-opening book Spetsnaz, The inside Story of the Soviet Special Forces by Viktor Suvorov, I give you his description of the Soviet Infantry's use of their standard infantry spade:

Every infantryman in the Soviet Army carries with him a small spade. When he is given the order to halt, he immediately lies flat and starts to dig a hole in the ground beside him. In three minutes he will have dug a little trench 15 centimeters deep, in which he can lie stretched out flat, so that bullets can whistle harmlessly over his head. The earth he has dug out forms a breastwork in front and at the side to act as an additional cover. If a tank drives over such a trench the soldier has a 50% chance that it will do him no harm. At any moment the soldier may be ordered to advance again and, shouting at the top of his voice, will rush ahead. If not ordered to advance, he digs in deeper and deeper. At first his trench can be used for firing in the lying position. Later it becomes a trench from which to fire in the kneeling position, and later still, when it is 110 centimeters deep, it can be used for firing in the standing position. The earth that has been dug out protects the soldier from bullets and fragments. He makes an embrasure in his breastwork into which he positions the barrel of his gun. In the absence of any further commands he continues to work on his trench. He camouflages it. He starts to dig a trench to connect with his comrades to the left of him. He always digs from right to left, and in a few hours the unit has a trench linking all the riflemen's trenches together. The unit's trenches are linked with trenches of other units. Dug-outs are built and communication trenches are added at the rear. The trenches are made deeper, covered over, camouflaged and reinforced. Then, suddenly, the order to advance comes again. The soldier emerges, shouting and swearing as loudly as he can. ... And when he gets the order to halt, he again builds his impregnable fortress around him. He knows how to dig the earth efficiently. He builds his fortress exactly as it should be. … If the infantry have a few hours to dig themselves in, it could take years to get them out of their holes and trenches, whatever modern weapons are used against them.

Defense in Depth

Defense in depth can be explained as a defense with several layers. Should the probing/attacking force penetrate one layer, they will have to penetrate another and another while shedding their blood all along the way. These layers can be made up of many different things. For example the outermost, first layer could be sensors and tank traps, the second layer could be trip flares, the third layer razor wire, the fourth layer a mine field, the fifth more razor wire with cleared fields of fire, the sixth layer infantry in prepared fighting positions, the seventh layer fallback positions for the infantry. At the center of your defense would be indirect fire weapons such as mortars along with a rapid response force, and the command and control element. Mix in antitank weapons, snipers, and listening posts (night)/observations posts (day) at the locations of you think best.

It's not uncommon to create a defense in depth with soft spots to channel the attacker where you want him to go. The farther he follows the soft channel the closer he moves to your prepared kill zone.

Who uses defense in depth today (in one form or another)? Answer: Every military/security professional I know of including the US Secret Service.
Should you need to create a low-tech defense in depth (YOYO), your primary limitation is your imagination. In the dark, a tin can filled with rocks hanging from a wire stretched above the ground can be an early warning device. Improvised mines and booby traps are only limited to your imagination. Mix in barbed wire, vehicle barriers, snipers, listening posts/observation posts (LP/OP), channels with kill zones, man traps, prepared fighting positions, etc. and you may very well convince the feral humanoids that your band/clan/tribe is not worth the blood they will have to shed to breach you defenses.

Bed-down the Second Shift

Like it or not, everyone has to sleep. A common mistake when things really start to get interesting is to keep everyone on duty just in case you need them. Problem: If everyone is on duty, everyone is going to start suffering the effects of sleep deprivation at about the same time. Experience teaches, personnel permitting, a second shift-built to mirror the first shift in leadership, trigger pullers, support troops, etc.-should be put into a non-duty status to rest, get as much sleep as they can, and be ready to relieve the fist shift in approximately 12 hours. If additional personnel are needed during the first shift, wake whoever is needed and get them back into the rest mode as soon as practical. As you would guess, the first shift needs to give the second shift a good shift-change briefing before they go off duty. An events log will help. A “To-Do” list for the next shift is also a good idea. It's a good idea to begin operating in a two-shift mode long before anything happens to work out the bugs and mold each shift into a cohesive team.

Given a “YOYO” scenario, obviously the people you allowed into the clan need to be trustworthy, disciplined, team-players. If found to be unreliable and/or disruptive, get rid of them. You're not running a halfway house.

Field Expedient Hardening

Field expedient hardening is important if you intent to use a house/building in some manner, but don't want the opposition's bullets to penetrate the building with ease. Most any rifle will penetrate into and/or through the average house like a fork through a well cooked pot roast. Many home owners don't realize that the modern house with aluminum siding can be quickly breached with nothing more than a carpenter's razor knife. Simply start cutting a hole near the center of any side of the house and in short order you will be inside. Once you cut through the aluminum siding, then the layer of fiberboard, then through the 4 inch rolled insulation, then through the interior sheetrock, and slipping between the 2X4 studs spaced 16 inches apart; you're in. If a handheld razor knife with a one inch, disposable blade can open up your house like a can of soup, imagine what a chainsaw can do up close or a medium to high power rifle from a distance.

Filled sandbags are a common type of field expedient hardening, but anything that will stop a rifle bullet will work. Fifty-five gallon drums filled with dirt, gravel or concrete, a dirt berm, any type of container filled with dirt, gravel, sand, or concrete can be used to stop a bullet; just use your imagination. One of my favorites are bags of premixed concrete that can be stored inside until needed, then quickly put in place like sandbags. Once they're position outside, wet them down with a garden hose; now you have a concrete wall. Another good option would be building elevated-type flower beds made out of heavy duty treated lumber and filled with quality top soil for growing garden plants. If you build these “flowerbeds” ahead of time and they just happen to be in the right places to stop a bullet, good for you.

Plan B

I've heard it said that military people always seem to have a “Plan B”, and you know, they're right. It gets to be a habit after awhile. First, the military is a business where mistakes can cost lives, not just dollars. Second, we know that a thinking enemy, bad weather, mechanical problems, human mistakes, and unforeseen circumstances are a fact of life.

Given a “YOYO” scenario, you should have a Plan-B for almost everything, and everybody should know what they are at all times. One of your Plan-B's should also include a clear line of succession: If #1 leader dies or becomes incapacitated, #2 takes over #1's duties, if #2 dies or becomes incapacitated, #3 … Generally speaking, everybody needs to know everything. Anybody in your group caught playing “I've got a Secret” gets a stern counseling session behind closed doors.

Tactical Awareness

Do you know what General George Armstrong Custer and the victims of Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer had in common? Answer: They lacked tactical awareness. Given a total break down in law and order, I don't care how innocent they look or how good their sob story is, you don't let strangers just walk up on you and staring chit chatting. If something feels wrong it probably is and should be treated as such.

Given a “YOYO” scenario, the old drill of:

1. Weapon at the ready (maximize use of cover)
2. “Halt!”
3. “Advance to be recognized”
4. “What's the password?”
5. “Wrong answer, depart the area NOW!”
6. Stranger begins sob story and advances on your position-bang!

Should a stranger approach under white flag, identifies himself as belonging to an adjacent clan, and wants to deliver a message from his clan leader, have him drop the written message at his feed and instruct him to depart the area (or back up, lie face down, and wait for return message).

Whatever comes at you or whatever you bump into, use tactical awareness and error on the side of safety for you and yours, not the stranger(s). Being rude is much better than being dead.

Another aspect of tactical awareness is using all your senses, including you sixth sense, to detect danger. If you smell tobacco smoke and your people aren't smoking …. If you see movement where there should not be any…. If you see fresh human tracks where they should not be …. If you hear anything unexpected … If you feel that you're being watched … If you suddenly realize the terrain you're moving through could easily be used against you ….

Successful hunters and soldiers focus on their environment, not on their sore feet or empty stomachs.

Offensive Operations

Now that you have a better understanding of what constitutes “defense”, a natural question is: OK, then what constitutes offense? Offensive operations for a modern military ground force can be any number of things. In general though, it can be boiled down to the five F's”:

Within the five “F's” are more specific offensive operations/goals which can include reconnaissance, reconnaissance in force, raids, ambushes, sweeps, meeting engagements, probing attacks, preemptive attacks, counterattacks, preparing the battlefield, move to contact, breakthrough, envelopment/ encirclement, etc.

Given, a “YOYO” scenario, your earliest need for offensive type operations/patrols will most likely be limited to what is called an “active defense.” Active defense is defined as “The employment of limited offensive action and counterattacks to deny a contested area or position to the enemy.” Generally speaking, these “offensive actions” should include reconnaissance patrols, ambush patrols, and maybe even a raid.


Artillery and Air Power

Pure infantry-on-infantry battles usually end in a bloody stalemate. In Vietnam this often true. I've heard several Infantry Officers of that war recount how they were fought to a standstill by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) until they (US forces) used artillery and/or air power to break the backs of the NVA. As you reflect on the successes of US forces in the last 30 years, you must give due credit to our use of artillery and/or air power to produce a decisive edge, and break the backs of the opposing force.

Given a “YOYO” scenario, even if you have the best collection of ex-infantry buddies one could hope for, it's important to understand that should you find yourselves fought to a stalemate, you won't be able to just get on the radio and call in an air strike.

Center(s) of Gravity

“Center of gravity” is defined as: The source of power that provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act. In developing the Air Campaign Battle Plan for Operation Desert Storm you can bet the planners thought long and hard about Saddam's centers of gravity (COG). Then the planners set about targeting those centers of gravity for destruction. It was concluded the Saddam himself was a COG.

Given a “YOYO” scenario where law and order have totally broken down, it's important to realize that even a roving pack of two legged hyenas has a center of gravity--the leader. All of your snipers should be trained to watch for the body language that identifies leader(s). Watch to see who gets respect and who gives it. Watch to see who gives direction and who receives it. Who is in the best position (center) to control the pack? Once the sniper(s) identify the leader(s), that's where the first shot(s) go.

Your Number One Challenge

“Forget Queen and Country. Forget Maggie. Forget all that. You fight for yourself and your mates. Without your mates you're nothing.” —Falklands War veteran (former British Paratrooper), 1990

Organizations with a high-stress mission like the military are bound together by individual relationships. While the organization may start things off based on a sense of duty, service, or a higher calling, in the end the team, squad, platoon, etc. will work together, fight together, and die together because they have become a family (e.g., a band of brothers). Getting to the family stage of unit cohesion is what it's all about.

Given a long term “YOYO” scenario, your greatest challenge will be forming a cohesive, mature, dependable, self-supporting family or band of brothers capable of operating in a high stress environment. The problem is: Building a band of brothers to perform in a high stress environment takes time, and the process requires the patience of Job. In the beginning you'll hope for a platoon of Marines, but you'll get a gaggle of kids running around poking at each other with sharp sticks. You'll hope for blind obedience and stoicism, but you'll get backtalk, second guessing, cat fights, flaming egos, and passive resistance.

Your Achilles Heel: Discipline

The US Armed Forces' support system to deal disciplinary problems and crimes is extensive. Not only do they have their own body of law, The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), to deal with problems both small and large, they have lawyers to represent both the defense and prosecution (civil terminology), judges and juries (civilian terminology), stockades and prisons, and investigators (criminal and non-criminal). Depending on the offense, the accused could receive a Letter of Reprimand (LOR), fine, demotion, or even a death sentence. Although commanders and supervisors rely primarily on leadership, esprit décor and professionalism to get things done, it's comforting to know that you have a support system to deal with serious crimes or just obstinate, unprofessional behavior.

Given a long term “YOYO” situation, understand from day one you have no such support system. You really are on your own. When leadership, esprit décor, and common interest, aren't enough, then what? Whatever solution you devise, it's important to have it in place as soon as possible.

One possible solution: Interview everyone who wants membership in the clan/tribe. Find out who has military, police, medical, organizational and/or supervisory experience. Find out what skills they have. Ask them what they want to do and what they don't want to do. Make no promises you don't intent to keep. Before anyone is allowed to join the band/clan/tribe, have them read, sign, and in public swear/affirm an oath to the clan's “Code of Allegiance and Conduct” which clearly identifies required behavior as well as punishments for breaches of the code. This will help you weed out the uncommitted, unfocused, confused, light-weights before they can endanger the clan or instigate a mutiny. You should also have identified a core of trusted brothers that understands the need for all this, and will support you and the system when things begin to devolve internally. When problems arise, deal with the swiftly and decisively. Reward good behavior with at least three times as much energy and passion as you use to punish bad behavior.

Revolutionary Technology: The WWI Truck

WWI was the first war that saw widespread use of the internal combustion engine to power some of the revolutionary weapons of that war--aircraft, tanks, and trucks. Most people wouldn't consider a truck as a revolutionary weapon, but prior to introduction of the truck on the battlefield, it was not uncommon for infantry to march all night in the rain to reach the battle site. For the infantry, the truck was a revolutionary weapon of war, allowing them to go into battle rested and ready.

The average American does not appreciate that their family car/truck can be used to carry basic survival supplies (food, water, warm clothes, medications, etc.) with little or no inconvenience.

WWII Horsepower

The bulk of the German army started WWII with horses and ended WWII with horses. Only the units designed to be part of the armed spearhead (Blitzkrieg) were mechanized.

Photo: The bulk of the German Army-the dough feet of the normal infantry divisions-moved on shank's mare. The rifle companies' transport consisted of three-horse wagons, on which the troops loaded their packs, as did this outfit on campaign in Russia in the summer of 1941.

The picture right and an excellent article on the German Army's use of the horse during WWII can be found here:

Just a few years ago (2001) our US Army Special Forces soldiers used horse transportation in the first days and months of the war in Afghanistan (Operation EDURING FREEDOM).

Given a YOYO scenario, should you find supplies of gasoline and diesel unavailable, horse transportation is a good workaround. Note: Just think how surprised your wife will be when you give her a gift certificate for those horseback riding lessons she's always wanted to take.

Travel Light and Freeze at Night

“Travel light and freeze at night” highlights the fact that life is a series of tradeoffs and the infantry is no exception. If you want to sleep warm and cozy all night, you have to carry a heavy, bulky sleeping bag with you all day. If you're willing to be somewhat uncomfortable at night, you only need to carry a light weight poncho, poncho liner, and a sleeping shirt with you all day-travel light and freeze at night.

Given the family car/truck, it's important to appreciate how much you can carry on four rubber wheels as opposed to two leather heels.

Specialization vs. “Fairness”

I had the opportunity to interview a combat infantry Marine from the Korean War. His unit saw some of the heaviest fighting of that war. The colonel commanding his unit used the combat wisdom he learned during WWII to be successful in Korea.

One carryover of combat wisdom from WWII was to use the same company of Marine infantry to spearhead almost every attack. The idea being that the more you doing something the better you become at it. I was a first shocked to hear this and asked about how everyone felt about not rotating the task of being the lead company in the attack. The answer went something like this: “We were good at what we did and everybody knew, why change something that worked?”

This old Marine was one of only three men out of his company of over one hundred that was not killed or wounded during the war. Many of the wounded were wound on multiple occasions.

Shoot, Move, Communicate

The US military does not see itself as a defensive organization. Accordingly, a three word mission statement for the combat arms units of the Army and Marine Corps could be: “Shoot, Move, Communicate.”

“Shoot” could be explained as putting steel on target. “Move” could be explained as maneuvering in order to carry out the commander's intent. “Communicate” could be explained as communicating up, down, and laterally with friendly forces to keep the commander informed, receive updated information and direction from competent authority, coordinate with adjacent units, request artillery/air support, request re-supply, request medical evacuation, reporting the units' current situation, reporting enemy activity, and the list goes on.

Given a long term “YOYO” scenario, you ability to communicate effectively with each other will be as important as it is for a modern military force. Using inexpensive walkie-talkies is one option. Secure communications is an important consideration. Using predetermined codes can help make your communications more secure than messages passed in the clear. Radios that scramble/encrypt messages are great if you can afford them. Ham radio transceivers may be able to help to supplement and extent the range of your communications. Again, predetermined codes can be used to communicate in a semi-secure mode for awhile. Codes must be changed periodically. Any misuse of a code will render it useless very quickly. Use a “runner” to carry messages if that all you have, but find a way to communicate as quickly and securely as possible.

Preemptive Strikes

I am often both amused and angered by the implication from the talking-heads on TV that a preemptive strike is, in and of itself, somehow immoral; far from it. Preemptive strikes have been used for centuries as a normal part of warfare. Suppose for example that in November of 1941 the US Pacific Fleet had solid intelligence that the Japanese Fleet was coming to attack Pearl Harbor. Would it have been immoral to launch a preemptive attack against the Japanese Fleet steaming towards Hawaii?

Organizational Inertia

“Continuous improvement” was one of the ideas/concepts that came out of what the business schools called “Japanese Management.” It's a great concept in that it permits, encourages, and sometimes compels all involved to identify and implement improvements on a continual basis, and necessitates an environment of participative management, creativity, innovation, and respect for ideas coming from the up from the bottom of the organization.

Given a long term “YOYO” scenario, your clan's “corporate culture” will be a major factor in your overall success or failure. Evidence of a healthy culture will include:

1. Decisive leadership when needed.
2. Sincerely listening and responding (when appropriate) to ideas and suggestions from even the youngest trooper.
3. Training subordinates to assume their leaders' duties and responsibilities.
4. Mentoring at all levels.
5. A culture where everyone looks to improve everything: fighting positions, tactics, training, etc.
6. Training and exercises to push the band/clan/tribe to higher and higher levels of operational excellence.
7. Fixing problems, not blaming people.
8. A lack of egos and turf battles.
9. Fostering, recognizing, and rewarding teamwork.
10. Healthy competition
11. Meeting the needs of the individual (i.e., Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)

Source: Wikipedia. For more information on “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs” go here.

Ground Combat is Labor Intensive

As I can best remember, thirty (30) years ago the American military wanted a minimum 3-to-1 numerical advantage when attacking prepared defenders. The Soviets wanted a 5-to-1 advantage, and the Chinese (low-tech army 30 years ago with plenty of male soldiers to spare) wanted a 10-to-1 numerical advantage.

These numbers are admittedly dated, but the concept holds true. John Giduck, author of Terror at Beslan, states in his book: “From a military perspective, it takes minimum numerical superiority of four to one for an attacking force to rout out well-entrenched infantry. When the defenders are elite commandos, defending a heavily fortified position that ratio rises to at least 9 to 1.”

Defenders also crave numbers. Not every soldier is a trigger puller. While militaries constantly strive to increase their tooth to tail ratio (numbers of combat troops compared to numbers of support troops), support troops are a reality of life.

Assuming a satisfactory tooth to tail ration, it's still better to have three trigger pullers in each fighting position than just two.

Given a “YOYO” scenario, assuming you can feed and water everyone, big numbers are better than small numbers. Combining/merging with potentially friendly clans is a very important consideration. In a conflict with no artillery or air support, clans with large numbers will tend to dominate the battle space-strength in numbers. In fact, your best overarching, macro-level strategy may be to (carefully and smartly) merge early and often.

Span of Control

At some point all leaders and supervisors realized they have a limited span of control. Span of control can be defined as the number of immediate subordinates the leader/supervisor can effectively control. The US Army has concluded that the optimum span of control for high stress organizations is three (3). Generally speaking, there are three line companies in a battalion, three line battalions in a brigade, three line brigades in a division, three divisions in a corps, and three corps in a numbered army.

Given a long term “YOYO” scenario, and understanding that you are building a high stress organization, use a span of control of three to build fire-teams (3 troops), squads (10 troops), platoons (approximately 30 troops), and companies (approximately 90 troops). As closely as you can in terms of weaponry, follow the example of the Marine Infantry during the Korean War and design your fire teams to include: 1 fire-team leader armed with a semiautomatic rifle (M1 Garand), 1 machine gunner armed with a machine gun (i.e. “BAR”: magazine feed, .3006 caliber, air cooled), and 1 assistant machine gunner armed with a semiautomatic rifle (M1 Garand) and carrying extra ammo for the machine gunner.

Assuming your clan has no machine guns, replace the machine gun with the best sustain fire weapon the fire-team has (LR-308/AR-15?). The fire-team leader could be armed with a scoped, bolt action rifle, and the assistant gunner armed with the next best sustain fire weapon (and carrying extra ammo/loaded magazines for the “machine gunner”).

Then put three fire-teams under the supervision/command of a “squad leader” to form a squad. Put three squads under the supervision/command of a “platoon leader” to form a platoon. Put three platoons under the supervision/command of a “company commander”. Give the company commander all the authority and support troops he/she needs to be effective.

Should you find yourself running a small, town-like organization, keep your span of control as close to three as possible by appointing a Combat Operations Group Commander, Combat Support Group Commander, and a Service Support Group Commander. Give you group commanders all the authority and support you can to help them be effective. Note: The exact numbers of troops in a platoon or the exact history of the USMC is not important here. What is important is that you understand span of control.