In this article I have three objectives. First I want to discuss what would happen to a lone wolf fighter if he tried to be effective without aid and assistance. Next, I want to distinguish between thinking tactically and strategically concerning survival. Finally, I want to describe things that might catalyze the need to invoke such plans, from rogue, illegitimate groups to patriots who will not relinquish their second amendment rights, regardless of the consequences.
In Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf we saw how good tacticians can provide broad outlines for tactics, equipment and knowledge of procedures for small unit maneuver, and can enable a lone wolf fighter to be effective for a short period of time. But I said, and still hold true, that this is a bad paradigm for operations, and represents tactical rather than strategic thinking.
The lone wolf fighter faces a daunting set of problems. From a small child, between riding and training horses, working, camping, hiking, shooting and hunting, I have spent thousands of days and nights in the wilderness. I have experienced some or a lot of what I am going to describe, and seen others experience the balance of it (or in extreme cases, I simply know of people to whom this has happened or know that it can happen).
Within a couple of days of being in the wilderness, your personal stench is merely disgusting. By the end of the first week, the putrid, toxic paste that develops around the groins of men becomes a risk to health and safety and can cause serious diseases. Within another week your feet develop a cocktail of fungal infections, and within another week the skin begins to fall off of them.
Around this time sores develop across your entire body, and the clothing you wear and carry, from underwear to socks, to pants and shirts, to boots and sleeping bags, is fit for nothing but putting into a pit and burning. Listen carefully. You cannot carry enough baby wipes to prevent this process from occurring. You can only slow it down.
In the winter, the cold will sap the energy and even the life out of your body. It is even difficult to maintain proper hygiene in harsh weather like this. I have been backpacking in such cold weather than my toothbrush froze into a solid block of ice between the time I pulled it out of the river and the time it reached my mouth. Without proper dental hygiene, various dental diseases can develop, and these can be debilitating to anyone, much less someone in the wilderness.
In the heat the problems only multiply. Dehydration is a constant concern, and the time it takes to boil water is precious, if you are able to get a fire going or carry an isobutane canister. Rarely, there is a Godsend like fresh, naturally-filtered water.
Our Nalgene bottles are sitting under moss at the bottom of a steep rock face collecting potable water. My 80 pound Doberman Heidi is drinking. I almost lost her that weekend at Jones Gap. She almost went down a waterfall, and my son Josh managed to catch her collar with his trekking pole.
I have also been backpacking in such a downpour that nothing would burn, and it would have taken a gallon of gasoline to achieve a fire that lasted for longer than ten minutes. Assuming that you can find a potable water supply at all times, food presents yet another problem. You simply cannot carry enough freeze dried food to meet your needs. There are no Gunny Sergeants ordering up coffee in the morning and rations all day as long as you are in the field doing training. There is no training. This will be for real. The lack of food energy is debilitating, and eventually deadly.
In the summer heat, there are snakes. I have been bitten by a Copperhead before, as has my dog. A Rattlesnake bite almost always involves loss of limbs, and in the field without medical attention, would be deadly.
My XDm .45, Ka-Bar folder, sleeping bag and one man tent. The tent is barely big enough for Heidi and me. I probably need a good, small two-man tent.
Ticks bring tick-borne diseases, and they can be deadly. After every summer backpacking trip, I and my sons strip and search each other for ticks (or I have my wife do it, but it must be done soon from the field). Lack of a partner to perform this inspection can be deadly. Eventually without showers, washing, and proper hygiene, the body can get lice or scabies. Without Ivermectin this is untreatable in the wilderness. Marines will routinely shave their entire bodies of hair before deployment in order to avoid lice, but without this possibility in the wilderness in the absence of water and other sanitation, lice will be hard to avoid.
There are the very rare cases of those who become beached on a deserted island and live long enough to tell their story, or survive on the open ocean by drinking turtle blood. But in the main, you simply cannot last for long as a lone wolf fighter, and if you think so, you’re delusional and like to nurture fantasies. You can stay out for several days, but eventually you and your family must ensconce somewhere. It might be in your neighborhood, it might be in the mountains or wilderness somewhere else, or it might be with multiple families. But you cannot stay lone wolf for long.
In Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf we discussed standing down a SWAT team on your front porch, ready to breech. This is a highly controversial issue, and there are those who will perish defending their second amendment rights, or more correctly, God-given rights. They will choose to perish in their own home during an armed standoff with governmental forces.
But it must be remembered that those who advocate such measures are thinking tactically. The SWAT team is also thinking tactically. But the SWAT team reports to supervisors, and those supervisors report to managers, and they are all thinking strategically. A thousands deaths at the hands of SWAT teams means only one thing. Losses. That is a losing strategy.
I’m not advocating against this sort of approach, so much as I’m observing reality. I’m not saying that it should not happen this way, so much as I’m saying that it won’t happen this way. The first bloody corpse dragged from a home invasion by government forces hunting for firearms will be the occasion for some deep soul searching by millions of firearms owners across the country. This may happen sooner, when confiscatory plans are announced.
Americans are generally very adaptable. Turning for a moment to a warning I had about foreign terrorists in the country, I observed that there are deep vulnerabilities in our infrastructure.
The most vulnerable structure, system or component for large scale coal plants is the main step up transformer – that component that handles electricity at 230 or 500 kV. They are one of a kind components, and no two are exactly alike. They are so huge and so heavy that they must be transported to the site via special designed rail cars intended only for them, and only about three of these exist in the U.S.
They are no longer fabricated in the U.S., much the same as other large scale steel fabrication. It’s manufacture has primarily gone overseas. These step up transformers must be ordered years in advance of their installation. Some utilities are part of a consortium to keep one of these transformers available for multiple coal units, hoping that more will not be needed at any one time. In industrial engineering terms, the warehouse min-max for these components is a fine line.
On any given day with the right timing, several well trained, dedicated, well armed fighters would be able to force their way on to utility property, fire missiles or lay explosives at the transformer, destroy it, and perhaps even go to the next given the security for coal plants. Next in line along the transmission system are other important transformers, not as important as the main step up transformers, but still important, that would also be vulnerable to attack. With the transmission system in chaos and completely isolated due to protective relaying, and with the coal units that supply the majority of the electricity to the nation incapable of providing that power for years due to the wait for step up transformers, whole cites, heavy industry, and homes and businesses would be left in the dark for a protracted period of time, all over the nation.
Bob Owens takes this down the grid to the next components.
They don’t understand asymmetrical warfare in the slightest, much less how it would be waged here. Let me give you just one small example of how a lone wolves or small teams can strike well beyond their size against a near defenseless leviathan.
After the Dot Com bubble burst in the early 2000s, I took a job in upstate New York for a subcontractor of Central Hudson Gas and Electric. I was part of a crew sent out to map electrical transmission line power poles and towers via GPS, check the tower footings for integrity, check the best routes for access, etc.
It meant I rode quads (ATVs) through mountains, swamps, forests, neighborhoods and farms all over southern New York, in winter’s icy chill and blowing snow, and in summer’s melting heat. It was exhausting work, often in beautiful scenery.
We probably averaged 20 miles of line a day, and that over the course of the contract I easily rode a thousand miles. I can tell you stories of flipping quads, sinking quads, going down a mountain without brakes, almost hitting deer at top speed, and parking on the remains of an electrocuted bear, but that isn’t really what I remember most about the job.
No, what I remember most about the job were the days we spent up near the Rondout Reservoir. What I remember in specific was discovering how powerless the government was to protect key utilities.
[ … ]
Substations like the one above could be accessed not just from surface roads, but from access trails under the power lines by people with UTVs, ATVs, and motorcycles.
Just like the residential transformers in your neighborhood, the transformers in substations are cooled with a form of mineral oil. If someone decides to blast a transformer at its base as prepper Bryan Smith did, and the oil drains out, then the transformer either burns out catastrophically, or if the utility is lucky, a software routine notices the problem and shuts the substation (or at least the affected portion) down. The power must then be rerouted through the remaining grid until that transformer can be replaced and any other resulting damage can be repaired.
Were an angry group of disenfranchised citizens to target in a strategic manner the substations leading to a city or geographic area—say, Albany, for example—they could put the area in the dark for as long as it took to bring the substations back online. Were they committed enough, and spread their attacks out over a wide enough area, perhaps mixing in a few tens of dozens of the residential transformers found every few hundred yards along city streets, they could overwhelm the utility companies ability to repair the damage being caused or law enforcement’s ability to stop them. The government could perhaps assign a soldier or cop for every transformer, substation and switch, but they’d run out of men long before they ran out of things they need guarded.
It’s even more vulnerable than Bob hints. The utilities in America don’t belong to the government (except for TVA), and the government isn’t duty bound to protect them. They are private assets. Even if the government could protect those assets (and they can’t), they wouldn’t.
If the DHS had a trillion rounds of .40 pistol ammunition it wouldn’t matter. With America in the dark for two years, confiscation of weapons would be the last thing on the minds of law enforcement (that is, the LEOs who left their families alone and without protection in order to come to work).
And there you go. Smart New Yorkers who don’t want to watch their friends perish on their doorsteps might choose to act strategically rather than tactically. And that brings in a whole host of issues that need our attention.
When such a scenario occurs, are you prepared? Do you have a place to ensconce your family? Do you have the weapons and ammunition that you need? Do you have means to make potable water? Do you have freeze dried and canned food? Do you have means to generate power when you need to, to plant seeds for crops, or provide covering and clothing to stay warm? Are you allied with like-minded families who will assist each other in dealing with a scenario like this?
The questions run deeper than you think. I sat across from the dinner table with a very dear friend of many years a few days ago, and heard him lament the fact that they hadn’t been able to afford to purchase firearms for family protection. This family operates on a thin budget.
My thinking began: “Do I give him my .45, no, that’s my premier personal defense weapon … do I give him my .40, no, I have that one because it’s the same caliber as Josh’s gun … do I give him my .357 wheel gun, no, that’s the best CQB weapon ever invented my mankind … I cannot give him my rifles … ” and so on, and so forth.
Should I go buy a relatively inexpensive polymer frame semi-auto handgun and some ammunition in order to be able to assist friends and loved ones in their time of need? We need to think through these issues. Are you a diabetic? Do you have the insulin you need for a protracted period of time? Are there other medications you need?
And it might not take firearm confiscation to pull off catalyzing a scenario such as this. Mr. Obama has created an America that is as bifurcated as it has been in more than 100 years. More than 40 million people are on food stamps. This roll is growing at more than 11,000 per day. We owe so many trillions in unfunded liabilities that we will never be able to meet our commitments.
Ben Bernanke, the most notorious Keynesian economist in history, has clearly said that his printing money like he was drunk will not recover employment. Translation: Keynesian economics is failing, and I am admitting it to the Senate today. Yet I will keep doing what I’m doing.
Even states that think they are rejecting Obamacare because of opting out of the plan aren’t really opting out. I know these things because my daughter is a Nurse and lives in this world. She knows that the smaller hospitals will cease to exist. They will be driven out of business.
The larger ones will stay in business, but they will bear the brunt of the penalties. The penalties that America doesn’t yet know about involve penalties for treating and releasing homeless people, only to have to re-admit them later, or any of a large group of things that cause the hospital to have to pay the federal government money. Obamacare will get its way, and we will all pay the price for it even if we opt out of participation. States have no say-so, regardless of what the talking heads are telling you.
If you think that the austerity measures in Greece caused a backlash, wait until we implement them in America. And we will, after hyperinflation hits, price controls are put into place, the supply of goods dries up and your money is worthless. Gangs will roam the streets looking for anything they can take, the elderly may as well have targets on their backs, and the apocalypse will be upon us. The government won’t be able to do anything about it. The government will have caused it.
Are you ready? Have you thought through the salient questions? I haven’t thought through all of them either, and we all have some soul-searching to do.
As always, everything I have said in this article has been for educational purposes only.
UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.
UPDATE #2: Thanks to Western Rifle Shooters Association for the attention. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.