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TEOTWAWKI is NOW! Overcoming Normalcy Bias: Critical Thinking for Survival

August 10, 2015

One of the most important skills for survival that must be mastered, or at least practiced at a journeyman level, by the prepared individual, family, and tribe, is critical thinking. Of all the practical, tactical training and preparedness you can can do, the single most important, most often overlooked, is basic critical thinking skills. As I write, travel and teach, and interact with contemporary people, I regularly witness the lack of this in the broad majority of people. I’ve even been known to suffer from it myself.

People, even in the “firearms,” “tactical training,” “preparedness,” and “militia” communities, suffer from a pronounced lack of critical thinking skills, all too often.

An example of this can be seen in the recent frenzy within the preparedness and liberty-minded communities, over the Jade Helm 2015 UW exercise. For months prior to the beginning of the exercise, we saw unfounded, unsourced reports by sensationalist outlets in the preparedness and militia communities repeated across the preparedness “media” and social media as “fact.” Here we are, a full month into the exercise, nearing the stated end of the exercise, and most of the original source reporters have either stopped talking about it completely, or have taken a 180 degree course shift from their original stance, of “it’s an imposition of martial law,” to “well, it’s still an attempt to normalize seeing military personnel operating on US soil!”

This is despite the fact that COUNTLESS recent Special Forces veterans within our own virtual communities (yes, myself included), have spent an inordinate amount of bandwidth trying to explain to people the concept of a “theater-level” exercise, and pointing out the recent historical precedents for this exact type of exercise.

It’s funner, and far more entertaining however, to imagine resisting against martial law, in some form of masturbatory Red Dawn scenario, than to use critical thinking to recognize, “Hey, maybe we SHOULD at least listen to what the guys with actual experience in THIS EXACT TYPE OF TRAINING EXERCISE have to say, before we jump to conclusions. You know what happened as a result of the hyper-paranoia induced within the preparedness and militia communities by these Harbingers of Doom? The virtual community lost even more credence with the average Joe and Jane Citizen, who saw the community represented as a bunch of farcical, paranoid lunatics. Seriously.

That was a lack of critical thinking. It’s easier to blindly repost scary memes on Facebook though.

A similar example can be seen in the oversimplification of “use-of-force” scenarios among the preparedness and survivalists. Too often, discussions of use-of-force end up being artificially simplified to, “I’ve got mah .45! Ah’ll jest shoot that there sumbitch in the eye!” Or, “I’m going to use my gutterfighting, dirty tricks to gouge his eye out and skull-fuck him to death!” While those may work as standard responses to dangerous encounters in a TEOTWAWKI “Zombie Apocalypse,” the simple reality of life is, we’re not dealing with a Zombie Fucking Apocalypse. We’re dealing with an entirely different TEOTWAWKI situation. In the real TEOTWAWKI life we’re living, right now, today, those responses as standardized responses, will only end up in one result: getting buggered in the ass by your cellmate. Oversimplification of any scenario is, in itself, a failure of critical thinking, in recognizing that the world is NOT black-and-white, and there are always shades of gray involved. Maybe not fifty shades, but damned sure more than two.

The above example of the REAL TEOTWAWKI leads directly into the one failure of critical thinking that is currently, and will continue to be, the leading killer of otherwise solid, prepared individuals. This ranges from armed citizens, to soldiers, to armed police officers on the street. That is “normalcy bias.”

What is “normalcy bias?”

Wikipedia, that paragon of journalistic objectivism, defines normalcy bias as “a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to undestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects….The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur….People with normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before…”

That’s actually—surprisingly for Wikipedia—a pretty accurate description. So, how do armed citizens, who have actually, apparently overcome their normalcy bias at least enough to recognize that something bad enough to warrant needing a gun MIGHT occur, suffer from normalcy bias? How do soldiers and police officers suffer from normalcy bias? How can I say that preppers, who obviously recognize the potential for a disaster to occur—that’s why their preppers, for fuck’s sake—suffer from normalcy bias?

Well, let’s back up for a few minutes first, and look at WHY normalcy bias occurs.

The Why and How Behind Normalcy Bias
Humans as a rule, in any given scenario or situation, generally “see” exactly what we expect to see. An example of this regularly occurs in the shoot house during the decision-making drills when I teach CQB. As the shooter moves around the angles of the door, he “pies” quickly, to see as much of the interior as possible, before actually effecting entry. Many times, they’ll “see” a role-player inside “pointing a gun” at them, because they do, in fact, see the role-player’s hands up and to the front, and they do, in fact, see a gun. What they don’t recognize, because it’s not what they expect to see, is that the gun is actually laying on the ground at the role-player’s feet, and the outstretched hands are palms-out, in a placating or pleading gesture. For the first several iterations, almost invariably (certainly in more than 90% of cases) the shooter engages the role-player with simulated gunfire, because they “saw” a “gun pointed at them,” because that’s what they expected to see, and that was processed faster than their brain could piece together what was actually seen.

The same thing often happens in what later turn out to be apparently unjustified shootings by both armed citizens and sworn police officers. In dealing with an aggressive, combative subject, something appears in the hands, and the good guy, conditioned by sub-par training, to “expect” a combative subject to have a weapon, engages with lethal force, only to discover after the fact, it was a cellphone or some other innocuous implement that was not really a weapon at all (it’s important to note, I’m not criticizing the individual in this case, but their training. There’s no point in criticizing someone for following their human nature).

Besides seeing what we expect to see, the second why behind normalcy bias is the human tendency to ignore and/or deny those things that make us uncomfortable. Someone who is uncomfortable with physical violence may be in denial, even as they find themselves on the pavement, getting a boot stomp party across their forehead. This happens with police officers and armed citizens with a frightening frequency, and there is ample surveillance and dash camera footage to validate it. Even a half-hearted search of YouTube, coupled with some minor objectivism when watching the videos, makes this abundantly obvious.

Finally, if something cannot be “ignored” or “denied,” we dismiss it as unrealistic. I witnessed one major example of this on my buddy Greg Ellifritz’s Active Response Training Facebook page recently, when he posted a link to an article discussing the relationship, or lack thereof, between what “gun guys” wear in tactical shooting classes, and what is actually needed for personal protection, based off the recorded use-of-force experiences of armed citizens and police officers. The argument was made that, since the chances of a private citizen getting involved in a shooting that involved them using their rifle was slim to none, that training with a full load-out, and practicing things like speed reloads and related esoteria, was largely unnecessary and irrelevant.

There’s a lot of apparent value to that argument. While I do drive around with a loaded M4 on the backseat floorboard of my vehicle, and carry a Glock 17 or 19 concealed on my person religiously, I don’t drive around with a plate carrier and warbelt or RACK on. If we look at regular use-of-force incidents by armed citizens in public, and at home, most are successfully ended with far less than one magazine out of a Glock, let alone out of a rifle. One commenter noted that if an armed citizen fired an entire magazine out of an AR15, in a defensive shooting scenario, he or she would be the lead story on the national news. If they used TWO magazines, they’d probably go in the history books.

The problem is, THAT is normalcy bias, and it leads us directly into the crux of this article: We don’t live in what most of us recognize as “normal” times anymore. I would argue that we are, in fact, in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, and most people, including “preppers” are in a normalcy bias-driven denial of that reality.

TEOTWAWKI…For Real
For most of us, of a, shall I say, “certain age,” normal is defined as the America we recognize from our youth and young adulthood. That America is gone, as most of us recognize. The denial in question isn’t that. The denial is expecting that “normal” as we define it is going to return.

The core of this article clicked with me several nights ago, as my wife and I watched the Republican presidential candidate debates on television. No one of the candidates was arguing for a return, or even a conservation, of “normal” America. From Donald Trump acknowledging that he had—and would continue—to buy politicians, and that it was “no big deal,” because “everybody does it,” to Chris Christie arguing that there was nothing wrong with shredding the Constitution, in the pursuit of “security,” to Ben Carson arguing that taxes are a moral equivalent of tithing, there was really none of the candidates—with the arguable exception of Rand Paul, who made any argument that even hinted at a desire to return America to “normal.”

We face constant, and increasing foreign invasion across the southern border. We face increasing socialization of our society and government, and beyond calls for electing a “Republican” to roll back the socialist policies of the Obama administration, including his “unconstitutional executive orders” (no mention was made of those of his predecessor, I noted), no one really expects any changes to that either. We see calls from Mohammedan subcultures within our country to be allowed to deal with things under Sharia Law. Rather than laugh at the absurdity of it, too often, we give it credence by even taking it seriously.

Sure, they’re serious, but the only sane response to that is a resounding, “Go fuck yourself, or go home and fuck a goat,” by the political leadership of any community that finds itself confronted with such pleas. Even giving them the appearance of legitimate consideration is admission that “normal” is no longer “normal,” and is admission that it really us TEOTWAWKI.

Normalcy bias, in this instance, is the belief that TEOTWAWKI will be heralded by some obvious, major catalyst, like an EMP or the declaration of martial law by the government. Ignoring the absolute, absurd impossibility of effective martial law in the United States, as a whole, think about the actual definition of TEOTWAWKI. It’s HERE, NOW, and denying it is normalcy bias.

Yes, use of force by armed citizens are generally solved by 2-3 rounds in 2-3 seconds at 2-3 yards. Accepting that, and determining that, because this is “normal,” then that’s all you need to prepare for, even as we argue and discuss the infiltration of jihadi terrorists, and WITNESS the radicalization of home-grown jihadi sympathizers, is a textbook example of normalcy bias.

Stockpiling beans, bullets, and band-aids, in the interest of being prepared for TEOTWAWKI, without recognition that you are in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, is normalcy bias.

Overcoming The Bias
We see media pundits every day, telling us we have to move past our biases, and accept all people as the same. While that’s absurd, on the face of it, there are biases we do need to overcome, if we’re to survive long enough to ensure that our children and grandchildren will survive. How do we do so?

1) Accept that “normal” is no longer “normal.” This requires more than simply telling yourself. It requires internalizing it as reality and truth. It’s great for patriotic, conservative, Americans to long for yesteryear, and the greatness of the Pax Americana. It’s also completely fucking delusional. America is only a superpower now, among nation-state actors. The transnational terrorist groups do not recognize American sovereignty and superiority. If they did, they would never have started fighting, or would have yielded by now. A wall along the Mexican border is great…except we already know there are more tunnels than an goddamned ant farm, traversing the border. So, sure, let’s drop several billion dollars building a wall that won’t be any more useful than the locks on your car door are (remember, as my grandfather told me when I was a kid, “car locks only keep honest people honest.”). Illegal aliens are going to continue crossing the border, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it, outside of genocide, or the total collapse of our economy.

2) Recognize what the “new normal” implies for you and yours. This may range from reduced police presence in your neighborhood or community, especially for dealing with property crimes and other “minor” issues. Think about what happened in NYC last year after two officers were assassinated, sitting in their cruiser. If you live in a really shitty neighborhood, where people are as likely to assault cops as help them, you should—justifiably–expect the same thing. As my wife pointed out yesterday, when she heard that people were “acting out” in Ferguson, on the anniversary of the Wilson-Brown shooting, “if I was a cop, I wouldn’t even respond to calls in their neighborhood. Fuck them. If they hate me, why help them?”

Recognize that, as the elevation of “special groups” of people, of whom you are not a member, for whatever reason, continues, if you find yourself engaged in a legal or political struggle with them, you will lose, because they are “special,” and you are not. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to approve of it, but if you deny it, you’ll find yourself “married” to a cellmate, and the relationship WILL be consummated.

Recognize that, ultimately, you have to rely on yourself, and those with whom you’ve built trusted relationships. That may range from dealing with community problems in an “extrajudicial” manner, to helping those who’ve lost their employment and income, by either providing employment for them, or using some gray market type of exchange with them, to allow them to procure the necessary items of life, ranging from food to shelter and clothing.

Experience Is Only A Start
Experience is a great advantage when dealing with bad situations. Experience in violence is a great advantage when overcoming the normalcy bias necessary to self-defense situations, whether that’s getting caught in traffic in the midst of a “flash mob” and recognizing that escape means driving OVER people, or it’s recognizing—and accepting—the reality that the dude coming at you in the middle of the alley, with a knife in his hand is not curious if you could spare a pat of butter for his crackers.

When we’ve faced violence before, it becomes significantly easier to acknowledge its occurrence. This is why the criminal gangbanger with a Saturday Night Special has a far better chance of survival than a white-bread suburban stockbroker with a basement full of bunker supplies, but no experience with interpersonal violence, regardless of how many AK47 and AR15 rifles he has stockpiled in his safe.

Ultimately though, experience can be as much a hindrance as a help. If you expect all future engagements with people to reflect what you experienced as a neighborhood bully when you were a kid, or what you saw in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq, you may find yourself unpleasantly surprised when it takes a different face. Experience is useful, only when it is used as a springboard metric for improvement through further training.

“Hey, I recognize that trouble can occur. It will probably NOT look like what I’ve experienced, so let me look around, do some serious studying, and see what it probably IS going to look like.”

I’m a historian. I see and recognize the parallels between the TEOTWAWKI we are experiencing, and the TEOTWAWKI other empires have faced in the past. Expecting the Vandals to come through the gates, on horseback, swinging swords and lances, behind war banners and a single leader though, would be a hindrance. I recognize that the Vandals, this time around, are already here, and more are en route daily, not under one leader, but with a common shared cause, that includes marginalization and disenfranchisement of people like me. They’re not armed with swords and lances. They’re armed with computers, reporters in their pockets, guns, and IED.

Experience is a teacher, but we have to let it teach us.

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41 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on Starvin Larry and commented:
    Well written,and well worth the read.

  2. SGM Mike (ret.) permalink

    Well Done, J.M.
    SGM Mike S.

  3. tfA-t permalink

    “The virtual community lost even more credence with the average Joe and Jane Citizen, who saw the community represented as a bunch of farcical, paranoid lunatics. ”

    The average Joe and Jane are pretty fucking dumb anyway, so I’m not too concerned about that aspect. You could piss on them from a 2nd story balcony and they WOULD believe it’s raining.

    I agree that we are in TEOTWAWKI times. Only a fool couldn’t recognize that.

    The part that unsettles me, is the taxpayer has spent billion$ on MASSIVE military reservations for the troops to train. We’ve paid for full mock-up towns and cities for this purpose. The military really has no Constitutional right or business to disturb the civilian population with their “mental masturbatory” scenarios. Like the never-ending wars of imperialism around the world aren’t good enough real-life training. That, coupled with the undeniable fact that the po=lice have been federalized, issued military grade weaponry, and are training in conjunction with the armed forces, presents a truly eyebrow raising set of events.

    I’m not buying any of it. It stinks worse than a toilette full of week old piss-n-shit. To think otherwise is succumbing to “normalcy bias”-IMO.

  4. tom daly permalink

    Well stated,……………….and true. That is why I spent Saturday in the desert with rifle, shotgun and pistol. Didn’t even bother to what debates. No need. Thanks.

    • I only watched because my wife asked me to watch it with her, and I knew I’d need to be able to comment on it. It was painful to sit through.

  5. Excellent article. Just to comment on a point…

    “For most of us, of a, shall I say, “certain age,” normal is defined as the America we recognize from our youth and young adulthood. That America is gone…”

    It gets to a point, that we start to wonder whether that old “normal” was just a Potemkin village. After all, isn’t it just as likely that (for example) politicians were being bought even a hundred years ago? And it was just less visible to people then because the gatekeepers of information were not letting us see it? Think of how the Federal Reserve came into being…

    Maybe part of fighting normalcy bias is a reasonable questioning of what we consider our reference point, our view of what was “normal”.

    That’s not to say that everything that is happening now was also going on back then. But a lot of it was.

  6. Tom permalink

    Normalcy bias will get you killed. Thanks for the article, stay frosty. Sorry but for me that includes potential for my own military to roll tanks in the streets. We passed treason a long way back. We passed that checkpoint eon’s ago and no one even blinked. I wear a knife every single day in case I need to stab a motherfucker in his femoral artery and watch him spray. That’s just how it is. I will protect the weak and stupid as best I can because I think that’s what Almighty God would like me to do under the current circumstances. I”m on a swivel 24-7 because Bracken recommended that shit. Condition Orange. I was at a place yesterday and saw a cool shirt that said, You can trust your government, just ask the Indians!

  7. Dion Bafundo permalink

    Your articles are amazing. I am a nobody not mil just a professional firefighter. In the short time I have been following you I am amazed at how screwed up my thinking has been . Next on my list is your book and some practical training. This article by far had me smacking my self in head…. Please keep up,the good work . Thanks Dion B.

  8. nobarcode permalink

    There are several reasons why there were and still are folks concerned Jade Helm. One is from an article entitled “How the U.S. Military Would Crush a Tea Party Rebellion” by Forbes (in 2012) reporting on an article written in the Small Wars Journal entitled ““Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A ‘Vision’ of the Future”.

    That article is here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelpeck/2012/11/15/how-the-u-s-military-would-crush-a-tea-party-rebellion/

    Then there is this (Army careers and jobs): http://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/browse-career-and-job-categories/legal-and-law-enforcement/internment-resettlement-specialist.html

    Then this (Army FM 3-19.40): http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/mil_pol_operations.pdf

    Now, that IS sensational.

    • And you just got an F on your report card for critical thinking. Congratulations.

      • nobarcode permalink

        OK. I don’t mind a failing grade -seriously. I may not like it, but… So I’ll read again this post and I wasn’t really disagreeing with you anyway, for the record. It’s been around 3 years since I took one of your first 2-3 dozen classes…

        Or, I get a failing grade and a congratulations for me not seeing your point of view or “frame of reference”[?]

      • nobarcode permalink

        Nevermind. I like Fs.🙂

  9. Fred permalink

    Well thought out essay. I appreciate the work that went into it. Matter of fact I appreciate all of your work.
    Fred

  10. JoeStalinIsMyGodILoveHim permalink

    Again, and with all due respect to your personal experience in the Service, you aren’t an officer and you certainly aren’t the strategists that conceive, authorize, fund and execute programs such as Jade Helm. By that I mean you really have no actual knowledge of their purpose beyond that stated in the press releases. Compartmentalized “need to know” means only a handful of officers and political overseers have actual knowledge of the true purposes.

    Normalcy bias works for you too — “We’ve always done this and they were always benign to the civil population. Ergo this too will be benign to the civil population” is a much an error as any. Past performance does not guarantee future returns, as they say.

    With the complete breakdown of trust between The Ruling Class and The Ruled, there is only one way to approach everything: game theory. Or as Rush Limbaugh famously said about the Soviets, “it’s not their intention that matters; it’s their capability” meaning — as with Jade Helm or Emerald Navigator or whatever the next big op is, there really is no way on earth to divine the true intention and purpose behind anything any more. All we can do is be aware, game theory it as much as possible in an attempt to reverse engineer their mindset, and use that exercise to inform our own understanding of that mindset.

    Is this the worst way in the world to find “truth”? Hell yeah. But until I have full and unfettered access to the War Room and NSA’s Pentagon feed — with full analyst support — it’s the best thing going apart from blind trust.

    Do you blindly trust? I do not think so.

    Time to come down off that High Horse now, isn’t it, and cut the common guy some slack. Professional skepticism is the only viable strategy under current conditions. If Alex Jones makes a few extra bucks from it, then so be it.

    • jwoop66 permalink

      Kinda what I was thinking. Good critical thinking.

    • oughtsix permalink

      “Time to come down off that High Horse now, isn’t it, and cut the common guy some slack.”

      Absolutely, insofar as normalcy bias will allow.

      I’m sick to death of being patronized and lectured by noncoms about the strategy of the Very Highest Pay Grades… not to mention their paymasters..

      Steve Barry, “pinelander,” JC Dodge and now Mosby all seem too eager to defuse our justifiable concerns with regard to the intentions and motives of our would be rulers.

      Who is it, again, who is victim to normalcy bias?

  11. Klaatu permalink

    Impactfull essay. Thank you. About Operation JADE HELM 15: What follows is a report I put together for the ramrod of our little group here. I’m what passes for the S2 and this is the tasking I received, and i quote:

    “Sir, please find as much info as you can about Op. JADE HELM before the next command staff meeting.”

    It’s a little long for this kind of format, the referenced “addendum” are not included, and I have no idea if the imbedded links are live or need copy/pasted to work. If you don’t want to take the time to mess with it I understand. I send it along because I came to essentially the same conclusion you did without the deep background and experience that you were able to bring to bear. I spent about four hours following links on the internet and about three hours putting the report together. I thought it might be useful to demonstrate what even a rank amateur could come up with if he was to just take a little time and look..

    The information developed herein is all open source.

    Jade Helm 15

    Jade Helm 15 is a military training exercise to be conducted from July 15 through September 15, 2015. It will be conducted in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. (As of April 7th Colorado has been dropped from the list of participating states.) While a handful of non-official sources place Florida in this list, it isn’t included in the DoD statements I have found. In DoD documents Texas, Utah and the southernmost portion of California are designated as “Hostile”, Nevada, Colorado and the rest of California are designated as “Permissive”, New Mexico is designated as “Uncertain (Leaning Hostile)” and Arizona is designated as “Uncertain (Leaning Friendly)”. Among the “hostile territories”, Southern California is further identified as being an “Insurgent Pocket”. http://american3rdposition.com/wp-content/uploads/Jade-Helm-Martial-Law-WW3-Prep-Document-1.pdf

    There is very little discussion from either official or unofficial sources as to the precise location of exercise related activities in any state but Texas. There, activities will take place in Bastrop/Smithville, Big Springs, Caddo Lake, Caldwell, Christoval, College Station, Dell City, Eldorado, Goliad, Junction, Leakey, Menard, Mountain Home, San Angelo, San Antonio, and Victoria. (As of about April 29th Victoria and Goliad Counties have been dropped from the list of participating counties.) The activities will take place on either public property or private property with the express permission of the owners. In at least three Texas counties, possibly more, the exercise participants had planned to set up up local headquarters on the private property of large landowners. In Schleicher County, the HQ will be at the Steve Blaylock Ranch, and in Victoria and Goliad Counties, the HQ was to have been at the T. Michael O’Connor’s ranch, which spans both counties

    The exercise will be conducted under the umbrella of the US Army Special Operations Command. Assets involved include elements of U.S. Army Special Forces Command, U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command, U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Units and the 82nd Airborne Division. Some non-official sources include elements of the FBI, CIA and DHs. One DoD document includes “interagency partners” at the end of this list but that is the only reference to non-military assets in the DoD statements I have found. The document reproduced in addendum 4 indicates that approximately 1200 personnel will be involved in the part of the operation to be conducted in Texas and the document further states that the, “Local footprint will be 60-65 personnel”. It is not clear whether this means the total number over the span of the exercise or if it refers to numbers at specific location. Once again, these numbers refer only to events in Texas. There does not appear to be any readily available numbers for any of the other areas of operation in the exercise.

    The purpose of the exercise is addressed in DoD documents in non-specific, generic terms, for example, from the USASOC press release of March 24th, 2015: http://www.soc.mil/UNS/Releases/2015/March/150324-03.html

    “This exercise is routine training to maintain a high level of readiness for ARSOF since they must be ready to support potential missions anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.” http://www.soc.mil/UNS/Releases/2015/March/150324-03.html

    And from the official USASOC “Request to Conduct Realistic Military Training (RMT) Jade Helm 15”:

    “JH is a US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) sponsored exercise to improve the Special Operations Forces’ UW capability as part of the National Security Strategy.” .)

    A number of military and ex-military observers speculate that what is known of the Order of Battle is consistent with intensive training in SERE and associated rescue operations. Others speculate that it is consistent with training in the planning, logistics and execution of the type of fast, in and out operations that was demonstrated with the Osama Bid Ladan raid. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    Another possible objective of the exercise is indicated by the content of the logo associated with DoD documents about Jade Helm. http://american3rdposition.com/wp-content/uploads/Jade-Helm-Martial-Law-WW3-Prep-Document-1.pdf A rocker under the logo states, “Master The Human Domain”. In recent years, the Special Forces arena in the military has begun to integrate sociological and psychological elements into doctrine to a much greater degree than before. This is typified in a May 2013 Strategic Landpower Task Force White Paper titled “Winning the Clash of Wills”. This, from the SLTF website, is the equivalent of a dust jacket blurb about the paper: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2075515-strategic-landpower-white-paper.html

    “The SLTF’s May 2013 White Paper, “Strategic Landpower: Winning the Clash of Wills,” identifies a growing problem in linking military action to achieving national objectives. It also describes the requirement for rigorous analysis to determine solutions that will ensure we provide the right capabilities for the nation in an era of fiscal austerity. The subsequent concept, studies and papers that follow will propose solutions that will ideally foster vigorous debate about the adaptations that must be made across the joint force.

    This exploration of the confluence of land, cyber and human actions, seeks to:

    1) Address the role of forces “that operate on land,” and how they can contribute to preventing and containing conflict;

    2)Address why past tactical and operational successes have not always achieved strategic outcomes;

    3)Reinforce the necessity of integrating our understanding of achieving physical objectives with a fuller understanding of, and consideration for identifying and achieving human objectives in the formulation and execution of strategy, operational plans, and tactical actions;

    4) Expand the dialogue around the “social sciences” of warfare alongside the “physical sciences” of warfare.”

    What follows is a quote from the white paper itself, which can be found at:

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2075515-strategic-landpower-white-paper.html

    “What we know and project about the future operating environment tells us that the significance of the “human domain” in future conflict is growing, not diminishing. Many factors underpin this assertion: the threat of hybrid warfare, involving multiple entities; the increasing ability of non-state actors to de-stabilize entire regions and challenge national forces; the complexity of rules of engagement that constrain one side and enable the other to operate with near impunity “amongst the people”; and, importantly, the increasing pace and mutability of human interactions across boundaries, through virtual connectivity, to form, act, dissolve, and re-form in pursuit of hostile purposes. Simultaneously, the importance of conflict prevention and the ability to shape conditions in regions to maintain stability through actions highly focused on human factors is also rising in significance. The U.S. cannot afford to ignore these developments nor minimize their origins and solutions within the “human domain” as have occurred in the past. In a word, the success of future strategic initiatives and the ability of the U.S. to shape a peaceful and prosperous global environment will rest more and more on our ability to understand, influence, or exercise control within the “human domain.””

    It is reasonable to assume that, whatever else may be among the objectives of the Jade Helm exercise, doctrinal applications relevant to this “human domain” paradigm are going to be put through their paces.

    Some idea of the objective of the Jade Helm exercise can be gleaned from the name of the exercise itself. We will examine the second word, “Helm”. It may be an acronym for “Human Element, Leadership and Management”. This appears to be a training course that is prerequisite to certification into the more senior ranks of the British Merchant Marine and that is about all I am able to determine about it. I speculate that USSOC has identified some utility or relevance of the curriculum to the “human domain” components of their doctrine and has thus integrated it into their own programs.

    The First word in the term, “Jade”, is the name given to what is essentially an integrated package of software and procedures. It is an acronym for, “Joint Assistant for Deployment and Execution”. http://www.dodccrp.org/events/5th_ICCRTS/papers/062.pdf A couple of quotes from the aforementioned addendum just to get the general idea:

    “The Joint Assistant for Deployment and Execution (JADE) offers a new technique for rapid force deployment planning, especially in crisis situation.”

    “It is being designed to operate within the next generation Global Command and Control System. JADE implements state of the art technology to reduce the time typically required for building a Time Phased Force Deployment Data package, which presently takes days or weeks, down to approximately one hour.”

    It is virtually certain that one of the objectives of Jade Helm, perhaps one of the primary objectives, is to take JADE off of the laboratory test bench and find out how it functions under real world conditions.

    There are sources, apparently the majority of them, which maintain that operation Jade Helm will, to one degree or another, implement a covert plan to impose martial law upon the United States and do away with the Constitution. The cases being made to support this assertion are mostly circular in nature, relying on ideological, rather than objective foundations for support. Other sources take the position that Jade Helm is a practice drill for the aforementioned covert plan, which would then lie fallow, awaiting the occurrence of a great crisis, engineered or otherwise. It must be said that, over time, virtually all of these sources that have an identifiable track record of predictions to look back on have proven to be very inaccurate, and some of them have a history of being highly alarmist and spectacularly wrong.

    Many of these sources assert that local law enforcement will be co-operating with the military in this effort. While there are many examples of smaller scale exercises in which this is the case, in this instance these assertions are unsupported by anything concrete. The only co-ordination that can be identified objectively in the available information is that local LE will be kept briefed in on what is happening in order to avoid confusion or alarm, and so they can be in a position to respond to any accidents or other incidents that may occur.

    One argument in support of the martial law position is that the military trains like it fights and so if the military is training on American soil in American towns then the intent is therefore to fight on American soil in American town. A point against this argument is that the American military anticipates that most of its mission in the near to middling future will be in the environs of the Middle East. A lot of the territory in the footprint of the Jade Helm exercise is a lot like a lot of the territory in the Middle East so this training is actually consistent with that mission.

    Also asserted is the contention that Operation Jade Helm is an exercise in the conditioning of the hearts and minds of the American people, intended to acclimatize us to the presence of the military operating domestically, out among civilians. While this operation and others like it would actually have that effect, is that a hoped for and intended outcome? There are elements within National Command Structure, and without, for whom the answer to that question would be in the affirmative.

    Are there elements within National Command Structure, and without, that would like to see a mode of governance in America other than the one established under the Constitution? Absolutely. Would the kinds of things being practiced in the Jade Helm exercise be applicable to the imposition of that alternative mode of governance? Absolutely. Will those elements be observing and cataloging lessons learned for future reference? Absolutely. But, barring the sudden emergence of a crisis of catastrophic proportions, it is virtually certain that, under the current social and political conditions, Operation Jade Helm itself is not intended to, nor is it capable of, accomplishing such an end at this time.

    Lt Tango

    (Soylent Green Is Sheeple!!!)

  12. Good read. Thank you for assisting in making the point that the abandonment of critical thinking is far more dangerous than any other threat we face- real or perceived. I too have fallen victim to the extreme conclusions available in the virtual community. My own views have evolved significantly over the last year. Absent the presence of critical thought, any scenario we face becomes worse-case. Fellow blogger at WordPress: https://troublesomecreekpublications.wordpress.com/

  13. Reblogged this on Troublesome Creek Publications and commented:
    A good read on critical thinking, especially for all those Jade-Hel conspiracy theorists. Some use of language here, but emphasis taken is within reason for most readers.

  14. JW Collins permalink

    The shit has hit the fan but the fan isn’t on high yet.

  15. Roseman permalink

    I tend to agree that some of the rulers in charge have devious aspirations but I don’t agree that the practicality and feasibility of the military carrying out illegal orders would be possible.

    Danger to us and ours will come from rouge groups/gangs, not the government. They would be completely overwhelmed during a SHTF type event and I don’t see any large scale violence occurring until such an event transpires.

    • I agree with most of what is being said here about Jade Helm; I do however want to point out that in Katrina, the military along with some Mercs and LEOs went around and violated the 2nd amendment rights of some citizens by confiscating their guns and then left them at the mercy of roving bands of thugs and criminals who in detail liberated them from the rest of their valuables. I’m not some tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist, but I’m definitely not someone to continue to turn a blind eye at what has transpired in the not so distant past. To do so would fall into the normalcy bias that you are talking about….or do I have it wrong? Another issue that comes to mind is the Bundy ranch incident where the BLM thugs tried to destroy a man’s ability to make a living on land that his family had ranched for many generations…back into the 1800’s I think. Only after a large number of citizens banded together did the BLM think twice about what they were about to do. I’m not one who believes in confronting government officials in that fashion…normally, but in that case it had the desired outcome. If we sit back and continue to allow our government officials to treat us like this…well it won’t be long before keep moving the standard for how we expect to be treated by those who supposedly work for us. That too can be a form of normalcy bias. I agree that critical thinking is our best asset when there are those amongst us try to push our paranoia buttons…but like the article discussed we need to use to some extent our historical experiences and I for one have not forgotten how our government has behaved in the last decade or so and I have not forgotten those government officials who have in my honest opinion committed TREASON against this nation and its people for their own personal gain and the expansion of their own power.

  16. IMO, avoiding normalcy bias means that your mind is open to any eventuality. You have to take all incoming data points, of which Jade Helm is only one, and evaluate them in totality in order to determine if the dots are connected. So I say examine Jade Helm, examine the Walmart theories, but evaluate them in the context of everything else going on. The point is to not go apeshit over one single data point (unless it’s so obvious like someone actually sticking a gun in your face).
    Could JH be the govt planning on martial law? Sure. Is it likely, when evaluated against all the other facts? Probably not. When we get so fixated on one particular data point, we may lose the ability to process the others, some of which may contain more likely and threatening things.

    I like to think of it in the context of being a failure of one’s OODA loop. With NB, you Observe, but you fail to correctly Orient because you’re inable to keep an open mind to the reality of the situation. And if you can’t correctly orient, how can you possibly correctly Decide and Act?

    You want to overcome NB? Stop thinking all suburban, white, latte-drinking, Volvo-driving soccer moms are a non-threat. Stop thinking every humvee on the highway is the military prepping for martial law.

  17. h in australia. permalink

    with regards to this comment john,
    “I would argue that we are, in fact, in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, and most people, including “preppers” are in a normalcy bias-driven denial of that reality.”
    i would put forward the idea that it is not normalacy bias driven, but through fear of the idea.
    i’m not prepared for a total breakdown of society, but at least i can think of what to try in that situation. i for one, have no idea how to face this slow decay, it is not a fight or flight situation. there is no simple answer. we can’t let loose our red dawn fantasy’s, we can’t feasably check out of everyday life. it just doesn’t fit with the standard SHTF thinking/preperation.
    distracting ourselves with prepping for what we think will come is far easier then facing the reality of what is happening.

    with regard to jade helm, it makes perfect sense to be training as they are. i think it is a fact that there is a movement to bring the fight to “the oppressors” aka america/australia/brittain etc. we are seeing more and more attacks on home soil, i’d want to do the same if the roles were reversed and i would be training my military to combat those actions if i made those decisions.

    i don’t know what everyday life is like in the US, but over here in australia, distracting the public from the reality of what is going on with triviallities and slights of hand seems to be the current prefered method, and a very sucessful method at that, of keeping the masses under control. while the whole white/blue dress shit was all over the news the australian government signed a very unpleasent international trade agreement and from memory passed some other equally unfriendly (to the general public) bills, it barely rated a mention as the news and social media sites were so focused on a f’n dress!

    as an aside, does anyone out there have access to inside information to how the government actually views the various subsections of the prepper movement? that knowledge would be very useful for deciding how paraniod to be regarding government actions such as jade helm.

    h.

    • Mike permalink

      I agree with you H. How does a normal working stiff prepare for the total collapse of society? We can’t loose Red Dawn fantasies, or drop out of society. I guess John and Sam have the most reasonable approach. build your personal skills privately, try to create a tribe (at least be friendly with your neighbors so they are pre-disposed to trust you), and use Sam’s protocol’s to maintain awareness of events.

  18. Dan permalink

    Collapse is a process not an event.

    When the military wants to train for fighting in the desert they practice in Kuwait or at Ft Irwin. When they want to train for mountain warfare they practice at Ft. Drum or the Marine Corp Mtn Warfare Training center in the Sierras. For cold weather training…..Alaska. Jade Helm was an exercise where they were practicing the use of military forces in modern first world major cities. Essentially they were practicing to impose law and order via military force….
    I.E. Martial Law. It’s a safe bet they aren’t practicing to use those skills in Paris, Tokyo or Oslo. They are practicing g those skills to use in America. If they are practicing they must be figuring they will be using those newly honed skills. If not this month next month, if not this year next year. Bet the military isn’t practicing this just for shits and giggles.

    There might be some people on the inside who can say exactly when the plan to trot out Martial Law is scheduled to happen…..perhaps they don’t have a date set yet. But they ARE preparing for it.

  19. Mike permalink

    John don’t sneer at Wikipedia. That’s conduct unbecoming. It’s been my experience it’s got 10 times the info of Encyclopedia Britannica, with 90% of the accuracy. That’s damned good, especially compared to OSINT such as the media outlets. At the very least Wikipedia is a great big-picture starting point with useful links.

  20. Swamp Fox permalink

    JM,

    Good job, and some support from the SBF position.

    Please watch these. There is a JH15 fixation.

    Some historical aspects of Off Post training by SF, JH1960’s

    Listen closely you will hear “social and political aspects of guerrilla warfare”, just like the JH15 briefs and papers.

    Why did the TM SGT go straight to the vice (smokes)?

  21. Sergeant McNott permalink

    This is one of the gold nuggets to take away from this post.

    “When we’ve faced violence before, it becomes significantly easier to acknowledge its occurrence. This is why the criminal gangbanger with a Saturday Night Special has a far better chance of survival than a white-bread suburban stockbroker with a basement full of bunker supplies, but no experience with interpersonal violence, regardless of how many AK47 and AR15 rifles he has stockpiled in his safe.”

    If you are not incorporating violence into your training then you are training to fail. I suggest an ECQC type courses for those who need their eyes opened.

    I recently attended a force on force low light pistol course. During a training evolution one of the students advanced on another while firing, experienced slide lock, continued to advance, closed with, got the takedown, achieved mount and continued to press the fight. What is surprising here is the reaction of other students viewing from a second story catwalk. Many of the observers were somewhat shocked that the fight continued past the expenditure of sim rounds, I guess they thought both sides should have quit.

    Furthermore they obviously could not discern the difference between training and an actual fight as they mistook the two individuals who appeared to be versed in violence and were actually training for an honest to goodness fight.

    This is just a technique, remember you are not graded on technique just results.

    Keep up the good work Gray Ghost.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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