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Skull-Stomping Sacred Cows: Quit Being a Bitch

I came across a conversation on Facebook the other night. As I read through the comments on this conversation, I was both chastened and appalled. I’m going to address two specific comments, because they are the issue, ultimately. Either these people are worrying about something that others have already figured out, or I’m wasting my fucking time writing this blog.

…I think people should make the effort to learn, but I wish someone would consolidate and organize the information in one place. I mean this elitist former military mindset is getting old, we weren’t all in the military, weren’t special ops, and weren’t military intelligence. This is one reason I liked A Failure of Civility, they recognized the elitism most former military trainers put off and recognizes the average citizen has never been expose to most of it and wouldn’t even know where to begin.

To begin with, I find it ironic that someone claims they think people should make the effort to learn, but then expect everything to be handed to them on a silver-fucking-platter. If you are sitting back, reading the vast quantities of available free content, written by subject-matter experts, and doing your own thing, that’s awesome! That’s WHY we do what we do. For you to then bitch that we don’t cover every single subject—including the ones we’re not subject-matter experts on—is pathetic. If you want the information compiled, here’s a suggestion…look at the sites that have legitimate subject-matter experts putting out information on a given subject, then compile a list of the URL addresses for the different sites you get value out of. Voila! You now have a consolidated list of valid material.

Oh, but that means you need to put effort out! Damn…..

Well, guess what, America didn’t become America because people sat on their asses, back in Europe, and accepted the status quo. They DID shit to improve their situations.

Quit being a bitch.

“…this elitist former military mindset is getting old, we all weren’t in the military, weren’t special ops, and weren’t military intelligence. This is one reason I liked A Failure of Civility, they recognized the elitism most former military trainers put off and recognized the average citizen has never been expose to most of it an wouldn’t even know where to being.

You poor, simpering, whining fuck. I am an elitist. Absolutely.

Let’s look at the definition of elitist.

From the Oxford English Dictionary: “demonstrating a superior attitude or behavior associated with an elite.
So, let’s look at the definition of “elite,” in order to get a better grasp of what an elitist is:

A select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities.

You know what? I believe, to the depths of my soul, that America, the Idea, is superior to the rest of the world, in terms of quality. So, that makes Americans, who believe in America, the Idea, an elite. I am part of that, so yeah, I’m an elitist. Don’t like it? Fuck yourself with a crow-bar, and join the Leftists who openly avow that America is nothing special.
I get what the commenter meant, of course. We keep talking about physical abilities—from PT standards, to weapons qualifications—that seem hard. Well, guess, what? They ARE FUCKING HARD!

I find it disgusting—and I mean that literally—that we have people who consider themselves “patriots,” but want “easy” answers. The men who froze their dicks off at Valley Forge, are cursing you from the afterlife, you fucking pussies.

“Oh, but I’m just a regular guy! I can’t do what you young guys do! I was never in the military!”

Boo-Fucking-Hoo. You know what? You’ve got time. You’ve got opportunity. You’ve got an entire world’s worth of knowledge to get you in shape, teach you how to run your gun, and perform medical aid to keep your loved ones alive…and all you whiny bitches want to do is bitch and moan because we keep telling you to do hard shit? Go fuck yourself with a crow-bar.

It’s obvious you’ve never been exposed to this shit. That’s why we’re giving you the information! So you get the information, in time to actually start learning and training. We’re making it readily digestible bites, if you’ll actually apply it. You CANNOT learn it all from reading shit on the Internet, any more than you can learn it from reading the books. You HAVE to actually get up, off your lazy fucking asses, and DO THE WORK!

Quit being a bitch.

And the next comment, where the poster makes some valid points, but still overlooks the obvious (in fact, I know he gets it, because we discussed it via private message on Facebook…)

….There’s great stuff out there about sustainment and tactical loadouts for the warfighter. I’m more concerned with average Joe American. The reason for the focus away from the warfighter guys is because there’s not gap to fill there—the guys who are following Mosby or Max Velocity (add your own equivalent here) and doing that level of tactical training are going to find this stuff because they have to in order to perform their chosen skill set. But what about the patriot/prepper who is much more likely to be in the auxiliary? What about the guy who is just concerned about his family? What should they be getting in terms of gear? Your wife and your kids aren’t going to hump a 60 pound ruck or carry 500 rounds of ammo—they’re not going to be a warfighter.

It’s a given that not everyone is going to be a warfighter. I’ve addressed this, ad nauseum, over the history of this blog. There’s a role for the auxiliary, and there’s a role for the underground. In fact, as I THOUGHT I had made plainly clear, those are MORE important than the meat-eating gunslinger role.

So, if you see yourself in the auxiliary role, what should you be doing as far as equipment? If you’re going to fight at all, you’d better be getting your ass in shape and trained up, or some meat-eating motherfucker like me—without a conscience though—is going to come, kill you, take your shit, fuck your wife, geld your sons, and sell them and your daughters into slavery. I don’t care if you’re “just concerned about your family.” Your family, by yourself ain’t gonna last ten fucking minutes. You’d better quit being an asshole, and start making friends and building a tribe that you can rely on.

Guess what, though? They’re going to want to know what you can contribute to the effort, to make them willing to risk their ass saving you and your family. If you can’t fight, you’d damned sure better have an idea of what you can do to help!
You see yourself as part of the auxiliary? Great, then everything you think you need to survive? Buy double or triple that, and then you’ve become part of the logistics network of the auxiliary. If you want to buy guns and ammo? Great, buy multiple guns and all of the ammunition you can manage to put together the change to buy.

“But, I’m not going to buy a gun for someone who didn’t have the foresight to buy his own! He might take my other shit!”

There are a metric shit ton of young, aggressive, fit, experienced veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq that believe just like you do. They may not have the funds to purchase all the gear they need, but they bring something far more valuable to the table—experience that you, Mr. White-Bread, Suburban, Soccer Van-driving Accountant, don’t fucking have. While you were making money, and stockpiling it away, they were shooting motherfuckers in the face. You build rapport, and then frith with them, and then you make sure they know that you have the things they need, in return for their help. It’s this strange concept, that we’ve been programmed to forget in America…it’s called “community.”

So, if you don’t like what I say? If you don’t think it’s relevant to you? You think I’m an elitist prick?

AWESOME! Quit reading. I’ll stop writing, and then I’ll go hang out with my own people, and keep doing my PT, and training to keep my skills sharp. You can go fuck yourself with a crowbar.


Quit being a bitch.

I’m Gonna Shank a Fucker!!!

(On the Mountain Guerrilla FB page, I posted a question, asking what articles readers would like to see. I got a lot of great suggestions, but the one below already had the notes collated, since I’ve written in passing on the subject before, and it is relevant to another project I’m working on, namely Book Three.

So, while the other article subjects will follow, this one was an easy, quick piece to write. –JM)

There is a lot of fantasy that floats through the preparedness, survivalist, and Liberty movements disguised as fact and Truth. Some of it is pretty harmless, but some of it is so completely erroneous that it puts the lives of well-meaning, but ignorant, innocents, in jeopardy.

Combatives in general—and knife-biased combatives particularly—are one of the most nefarious of the topics that fall into the camp of the fantastic.

Two of the most famous combatives instructors in American history are often held up as exemplars of this particular discipline of training: William Fairbairn and Rex Applegate.

William Fairbairn
Fairbairn joined the Royal Marines as an underage teenager in 1901, and found himself stationed in Korea, before leaving the service to join the Shanghai Municipal Police force, in 1907. Most of Fairbairn’s notoriety is derived from his—admittedly awesome—exploits during service with SMP. One of the most important claims, regarding the legitimacy of his methods, is that Fairbairn was involved in “over 600 street fights” during his tenure with SMP. There is, of course, a great deal of argument among martial arts historians as to whether Fairbairn was himself involved in 600+ streetfights, or whether it was his units in general involved in that number of fights. I tend towards believing it was his units in general that were involved, not Fairbairn specifically. I also willingly concede however, that it is entirely possible that—given the nature of Shanghai specifically, and seaports like Shanghai generally, at that point in history—Fairbairn was personally involved in a metric shit ton of street fights.

That having been said, using those 600+ street fights as the sine qua non of the perfection of his unarmed and knife-based combatives methods is fatally flawed. We modern Americans tend to view the term “street fight” through the prism of three decades of indoctrination of Asian martial arts influence as synonymous with “unarmed” fights. The reality is significantly different.

A “street fight” especially in Shanghai at that point, was more likely to involve the use of firearms like Mauser Broomhandle pistols, rifles, and even machine guns and artillery pieces (the Boxer Rebellion is an interesting piece of history to read about when it comes to the history of Shanghai and the development of combatives techniques from that city).

The first street fight that Fairbairn was reportedly involved in while in the employ of SMP happened about four months after he arrived in the city. He was attacked by a Chinese gang and stabbed at least a dozen times, before being left for dead, to bleed out in the alley. He didn’t die, which leads one, logically, to question to “extreme lethality” of the knife in close-quarters combatives. I mean, fuck me, a dude was attacked by 12+ people, stabbed repeatedly, and then left to bleed out, AND HE DID NOT DIE…….

Fairbairn would go on to study numerous martial arts, ranging from boxing and wrestling to jujutsu and Kodokan judo. When World War Two began, he was recalled to England, and commissioned in 1941, for service with the British Secret Service. He trained British, Canadian, and Dutch Commandos, as well as the original US “Darby’s” Rangers. Perhaps most famously, he co-developed with Eric Sykes, the Fairbairn-Sykes dagger, and exquisitely designed killing tool, with some significant weaknesses (which would be somewhat overcome in a later redesign when he partnered with American Rex Applegate, that led to the Applegate-Fairbairn dagger).

By the time he arrived back in England, Fairbairn was “reportedly covered in scars across his arms, legs, chest, and abdomen,” leading one to question exactly how lethal the knives that purportedly caused those wounds, actually were.

Rex Applegate
Oregon-born and raised Rex Applegate was originally commissioned as a Lieutenant of Military Police, before being grabbed up by William “Wild Bill” Donovan for service in the OSS, teaching combatives and CQB to prospective OSS agents. He was sent to study under Fairbairn for some time, before returning to the States in his new post.

The colonel went on to write the seminal American work on unarmed combatives and CQB, “Kill or Get Killed,” in 1943. It was revised and republished in the 1970s, and has been a USMC manual for years.

Having grown up hearing tales of the greatness of both men from my grandfather, who had trained under them, I would not, in ten lifetimes, lower myself to questioning their expertise or their credentials as gentlemen and scholars. However, as important as myth and legend is—and both are, or should be, sacred—there are some serious shortcomings in basing your training on the teachings and tools of these particular legends.

As even Fairbairn so famously wrote, “Get tough. Get down in the gutter, win at all costs…There’s no fair play, no rules except one: kill or be killed!” If there are shortcomings to the systems these men taught, that decades of more recent experience and research and study can overcome, I would argue that they—of all people—would want us to discover and eradicate those shortcomings, to make winning so much more of a sure bet.

The Knife as a Fighting Weapon

The Fairbairn-Sykes makes a pretty decent assassination knife, by all accounts. The Applegate-Fairbairn, with it’s broader, stronger tip, and oval-shaped handle that lets the wielder know the blade orientation by feel, is reportedly even better. I’ve owned both. I still have a F-S clone on my office desk, as part of a shelf of “nostalgia” items. Having carried a Gerber MKII—like, I suspect, most SOF veterans of a certain age—for some time, until I realized it’s utter uselessness for anything else, I never bothered carrying any other dagger.

The problem with daggers as combat knives is that, while they ARE the ultimate expression of the killing knife, that’s all they are good for. Considering the slim chance that even a moderately prepared person will ever need to shank a motherfucker, and considering the actual inefficiency of the knife as a killing weapon, carrying a sole-purpose tool of that particular nature just doesn’t make a lick of sense. As I’ve said in articles before—and in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One, to take the opportunity to pimp my books—it’s a lot easier to kill somebody with a Swiss Army knife than it is to cut 550 cord or brush with a dagger.

The use of a knife as a weapon is fundamentally simple. Put the pointy parts in the soft spots. Even the ancient Romans knew that shanking someone was more effective than slicing and dicing and “biomechanical cutting.” As Vegetius wrote, in De ReMilitari, “They were likewise taught not to cut but to thrust with their swords. For the Romans not only made a jest of those who fought with the edge of that weapon, but always found them an easy conquest. A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended both by the bones and armor. On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal….this was the method of fighting principally used by the Romans…

The problem that arises is that, even for the Romans, with their Gladius short sword, so much longer and heavier than a dagger, the fatal wound was not particularly quick. The “death time table” is, in words that Fairbairn himself would understand…”utter, bloody poppycock.” It was hypothetical, at best. It had as much bearing on reality as the “death point meridians” taught by “Dim Mak” masters.

The problem with using a knife as a weapon isn’t the specific techniques used. After all, Fairbairn, Sykes, and Applegate all posited the same stance as the Romans, “stab a fucker!” The problem is that the knife is NOT, contrary to mythology, a particularly effective weapon, outside of the psychological benefits of scaring the ever-loving-shit out of people (see the notes about Fairbairn’s experiences, above….)

The problem with THAT particular theory however, is that it’s a sucker’s bet. If you count on your enemy being a pussy or a coward, you’re kind of retarded yourself. There is a myth in American lore that “bad guys…bullies…are cowards.” While it makes us feel good, it’s complete bullshit. Are there bullies who are bullies because they are cowards? Sure. Are all bullies then, by definition, cowards? Absolutely not. Thinking that is the case, is a good way to get your own shank shoved up your ass. This leads to the theory that showing your enemy your weapon, in an effort to “scare him off” is a pretty goddamned stupid idea.

Experiential training, analysis of historical (even recent historical) examples, and the logic of UW strategy and tactics (surprise, speed, and violence of action, anyone?), tells us that “knife fights,” are fantasy. If you’re in a fair fight, your tactics suck, and your strategy is fatally flawed. If you whip out a knife and brandish it to scare me off, I’m going to shoot you in the dick. Not to kill you, because you’re obviously too stupid to bother killing, but to keep you from breeding and continuing the bad flawed genetic material.
There is another fundamental truth that needs to be considered, in the modern context. While Fairbairn fabricated a homemade, expedient plate carrier, by sewing a sheet of plate steel in to a leather harness—reportedly capable of stopping a Mauser pistol round at point-blank range—neither he nor his men, nor their foes, were facing men regularly equipped with body armor, helmets, and protective “gas” masks, or Kevlar “cut proof” gloves and gauntlets.

If you are engaged in a fight with a dude kitted out in protective gear, where exactly do you think you’re going to stab him? Kevlar soft-armor may or may not stop a knife stab. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Rifle plates WILL stop a knife. Kevlar helmets will stop a knife stab, more often than not. Most of the parts of a protective mask will stop a stab (Book Three includes photos of tests I’ve conducted with various knives against these mediums, for your educational benefit….). So, we find that we have to resort to the same techniques used in the late medieval period, of trying to thread a point into the “chinks” in the foes’ armor.

There’s a myth that ALL cops, DHS, and other government agents, as the “bad guys,” are fat, lazy fucks that “FreeFor” will easily defeat in valor and fitness. It is—of course—nonsense. There are more fit cops than there are fit “Three Percenters.” There are damned sure more “criminal gang” members who are fit than there are “FreeFor” that are fit. Do you genuinely believe you are going to manage to thread your dagger tip into a tiny chink in the other dude’s armor, before he smokes you in the grape hard enough to knock you the fuck out? That’s okay if you do. I like to masturbate occasionally too.

Historically, we know it’s bullshit. Even the fit, trained, experienced warriors of old couldn’t pull it off reliably. When medieval armor reached a point of development that required such precision, two developments occurred in the arms race. Guns were developed to a level of power and effectiveness that they’d punch through plate armor, of course. Previous to that however, fighting men stopped trying to thread the needle, so to speak, and went back to using clubs, maces, and war hammers, that had enough ass behind them to literally CRUSH the armor, doing lethal damage to the dude underneath.

The simple reality is that, for most purposes, the use of edged weapons to kill people is utter, complete, total fucking masturbatory fantasy. Sure, there are uses. For EDC carry for the underground and auxiliary, a small, concealed knife offers a decent tool to easily access—with training—and cut your way to your concealed pistol, to then shoot a dude. Of course, if you possess the physical and technical ability to fight your way to the knife in the first place, you probably possess the same ability to fight your way to your pistol instead. Mountain Guerrilla combatives tip o’ the day? Guns—even “pop guns” like .22 and .25 caliber pocket guns—are better than knives at killing people. As SFOD-D veteran, SGM (retired) John “Shrek” McPhee likes to point out to people, “I’ve got a pistol, why the Hell would I want to use a knife?”

It’s a popular fantasy, of course, to discuss the use of edged weapons for “sentry neutralization.” If you’re using a Scottish Claymore, like old-school badass “Mad” Jack Churchill, who carried a longbow and a basket-hilted Claymore across Europe with the British Expeditionary Force (and is reputed as carrying out the last longbow wartime kill, when he smoked a German NCO in 1940, with a cloth-yard shaft), and lived by the motto that “any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed,” or if you’re carrying a Kukri, then yes, perhaps, cleaving a skull in half, or separating the head from the cervical spine is a pretty damned effective way of smoking a dude with a “knife.” Maybe.

Cutting a throat, or even stabbing someone in the carotid artery or jugular vein, is neither fast, nor silent, by all accounts. Have you ever been elbow deep in someone else’s blood, with more of it spraying in your face, eyes, and mouth, and up your nose? Speaking experientially, from providing medical aid to casualties, it’s not a particularly pleasant experience. There’s nothing romantic or heroic about it.

I’ve had students in TRAINING classes, who were hesitant to get too much FAKE blood on them. In a world where we’re conditioned—somewhat justifiably—to be paranoid about blood-borne pathogens like HIV/AIDS, syphilis, and Hep C (or, as I prefer, HepasyphilgonorheAIDS), this makes sense. The problem arises when people disconnect this from the fantasy about slicing a motherfucker from eyeball to asshole. “I’m not comfortable getting drenched in someone else’s blood” does not translate well to “I’m gonna stab a motherfucker!”

This further ignores the fact that, someone who gets stabbed or cut does not just fall over and die. There’s nothing quiet or stealthy about it.

The Better Alternative

There is another, better alternative however. Smacking a fucker in the brain box, with a ball peen hammer—or better yet, a 2.5# sledge hammer, results in only two sounds: The wet “smack” of the hammer cracking through the skull and into the brain, and then the sound of 150-200+ pounds of unconscious—probably dead—meat falling to the ground. I’ve never killed anyone with a knife. I’ve also never killed anyone with a hammer. I have smoked a dude in the grape with a big fucking rock. I was a teenager at the time, and was in serious danger of getting my ass stomped—I was being a mouthy little shit, and probably had it coming—by a group of guys. The dude I hit fell instantly, doing the “kickin’ chicken,” and, while he didn’t die, he was done with the fight in less than a second. It also served to discourage the rest.

There are anecdotal reports of SF and SOF guys carrying ball peen hammers in Afghanistan and Iraq carrying ball peen hammers—and even using them—for the anti-personnel role. I cannot confirm or deny these reports. I certainly never saw it, but I wish I had thought of it back then.

The Final Solution

(Yeah, I know…tasteless….)

So, in answer to the original question, on Facebook, the selection of functional knives is contingent upon context. My choices may not even be relevant to your needs, within the specific contexts I will describe here.

1) General field knife.
For a general field knife, I prefer a relatively small, light, but effective, bushcraft knife. I’ve carried everything from a Swedish Mora knife to a Kabar to my current choice, the Becker BK16 Buschcraft knife. I like the Becker, a lot. It’s significantly lighter than the Kabar, it’s got a thinner, narrower blade, which makes pretty much every cutting chore significantly easier. It’s only potential drawback is that it’s a very, very light knife. That’s not a drawback to me. If I need to chop or cut something to big to cut with the bushcraft knife, I can use a saw or an ax. The best “big chopper” knife out there is significantly less effective for chopping than even a shitty, Wal-Mart camping hatchet. I don’t own a Wal-Mart camping hatchet. Like all of my gear, when I invest in gear, I invest in good gear. The axes I carry on my kit include hand-made hand axes and a Swedish Gransfor-Bruchs Scandinativan Forest Ax.

My folding saw is the Bahco Laplander saw. It’s a small, super-lightweight piece of kit that you could—theoretically at least—use to perform a fucking amputation if necessary. They’re relatively inexpensive, but worth every dime.

2) EDC knives.
I tend to follow the reverse-grip, edge-in mode of use that Craig Douglas re-popularized with his ECQC program. Not out of blind loyalty to the methods, but because, through experiential testing during FoF training, combined with logical, rational, critical thinking, it makes sense in the delivery system.

If I’m forced to use a knife in self-defense, it will likely be in the process of trying to escape an overwhelming physical attack, in the process of either escaping the grappling match that Craig refers to as the “Fucked Up Tangle (FUT),” or to gain access to my pistol. I think his Clinch Pick design is probably the essence of that application. Of course, Clinch Picks can be a pain-in-the-ass to get your hands on. Triple Aught Design ( carries a Made In China version occasionally, available on a “first come, first serve” basis. They go quick when they come in though, so you’ll have to watch them closely.

The premier custom maker that produces Clinch Picks—and the ONLY one currently authorized to produce Craig’s design—is Ban Tang, out of California ( Do me a solid, if you decide to look at his? Tell him I sent you. Maybe someday, it will get me a good deal on one.

I don’t own a Clinch Pick. Part of that is because I’m poor white trash from Idaho. Partly it’s because the knife, even in EDC is such a remotely tertiary weapon for me, that I can feel comfortable carrying something less optimal for the anti-personnel role, while being significantly more multi-functional. I understand the “spiritual” appeal of a dedicated “fighting” knife, but for me, I’m far more likely to need to cut a box open or cut some rope, or even kindling for a fire, than I am to need to shank someone.

In light of these considerations, I am currently running an ESEE Izula II, carried in the left-side Appendix position, mirroring where I carry my pistol. It’s small, unobtrusive, serves the purpose for combative applications, but more importantly, is an eminently useful little tool for every day use.

Editorial Note: Since posting this on the Forward Observer site (, I’ve managed to actually get one of Ban Tang’s Clinch Picks. I’m still not 100% sold on the knife as a combative weapon of first, or even second choice. That having been said, this has got to be one of the nicest, most well-built little EDC knives I’ve ever had my hands on. It’s worth twice the price. I THOUGHT–until I got one–that my little Izula II was filling the gap well as an alternative. I was wrong.

First Open-Enrollment Class of the Year

The guys down up in Idaho Falls are doing people who want to get into a class with us, but can’t work out how to host one themselves, a solid. They’ve decided to do a small-unit patrolling class, and have a few slots they can fill that they’re willing to let people in on.

It’s a little short notice, but the class just got finalized.

8-10 (Fri-Sat-Sun) May 2015, I will be doing  a small-unit, irregular security patrolling class in the vicinity of Idaho Falls, ID. Cost for the class is $500/shooter.

Small-Unit Security Patrolling Operations—3-Day

May 8-10(Friday-Sunday)
In the vicinity of Idaho Falls, Idaho

This is a three-day class that serves as a practical and theoretical introduction to the individual and collective common task skills and small-unit tactics applied by irregular light-infantry forces in an unconventional warfare environment in both rural and urban environments. It uses a solid focus on basic battle drills to teach the underlying concepts that can be adapted to all situations.

The focus of this class is on the hard skills necessary to effectively conduct small unit security patrols in order to protect a retreat location or neighborhood.

Equipment Requirements

(students should arrive with a minimum of 500 rounds of ammunition for their weapon.)

-Fighting Rifle

-Fighting load-out

-Sustainment ruck or “Bug-Out Bag” (this is a field environment class. Expect to live out of your rucksack for the duration of the course. It’s also May in Idaho. Weather may range from near tropical to blizzard conditions, although this year, tropical seems more likely. Pack accordingly.)

-note pad and pen or pencil

-clothing suitable to strenuous activity in the local environment.

-rain gear/cold weather gear as required by seasonal climactic conditions.

-hearing and eye protection are required.

-hydration (Camelback-type system, canteens, or water bottles)

-an open mind, especially if you’ve previously received a great deal of traditional, competition-based marksmanship training.

Three-Day SUP Class ($500/shooter) May.8-10. 2015(Friday-Sunday), Idaho (vicinity of Idaho Falls) The course tuition is due May 1. or before.

To enroll in this class, please contact HH6 at

or the host of the class at


In addition to this, we’re working on setting up some potential open enrollment classes in the SE and upper Midwest of the USA this summer and fall. I also have a number of closed/private classes scheduled for further east this summer and fall. If you’re interested in hosting a course East of the Mississippi, but have been previously discouraged by the challenges of scheduling us to get back East, contact HH6 at the above email address. We’ve had some changes come up that are allowing us to bring Mountain Guerrilla training further east.



Auxiliary Functions Within The Tribe

(One of the topics I still get a lot of reader queries about is the doctrinal Auxiliary. These range from people who are “too old” or have “too many old injuries,” to be a door-kicking, badass gunslinger, to those that just don’t see themselves in that role, regardless of why.)

Doctrinally speaking, in Maoist-influenced UW, the auxiliary includes—or may include—all those individuals who are not full-time, active participants in the paramilitary guerrilla force or the underground, but who are sympathetic to the resistance and actively support its efforts. Traditionally, the activities of the auxiliary have been directed and controlled by the area command authority.

The coordination that arises from this allows the assistance from the auxiliary to be leveraged in the most efficient way, offering maximum benefit from limited personnel and material assets. Otherwise, the auxiliary would see its efforts wasted as some assets were overused by local buddies, and other assets that might be sorely needed elsewhere, would go to waste, due to their inapplicability to the local effort.

While a resistance effort is necessarily localized at the tactical level, its important to remember that tactical applications exist solely to facilitate strategic end-game goals. Anything else is futile for anything except feeling good about yourself because “at least you made a statement.” A bunch of guys with similar views, committing acts of violence are not a resistance movement. They MIGHT coalesce into an organized resistance, but history has repeatedly demonstrated that, more often that not, they end up labeled as nothing more than brigands, are run individually to ground, and end up exterminated. Since the victors write the history books….

Within the context of a tribal-based resistance that adheres to the “Heinlein Doctrine,” there is still a role to be played by individual members of a local tribe, in the traditional duties of the auxiliary however. By fulfilling those roles that the auxiliary has historically fulfilled in a resistance, that do not require the fitness or physical capabilities of the guerrilla force or underground, members of a tribe can still contribute worthwhile efforts to the security of their tribe, thus “earning their keep.”

An individual’s specific contribution to the efforts has—and will—depend largely on their socio-economic status, roles, and their occupation. A stripper or bartender may provide crucial intelligence-gathering and collection roles that end up facilitating actions by the guerrilla force or underground, or they may set up a hit on members of a rival organization by dropping “roofies” in their drinks, a farmer or homesteader may “only” provide assistance by providing extra harvest to feed the guerrilla force or underground, or to sell on the local black or gray market, in order to help finance tribal operations. On the other hand, the farmer may end up providing barn space for a way-station on an evasion corridor, or for use as a guerrilla hospital.

Regardless of the specific role the auxiliary tribesman plays in the effort, it is critical to understand that the success of their efforts depends on their participation in such operations remains clandestine. The secret must not be kept only from rival organizations, but even from apparently friendly or supportive neighbors who do not enjoy the trust of being part of the closed circle—innangard—that is the tribe. Even other members of the tribe, outside the leadership, may not know exactly what the auxiliary offers the tribe. Keeping this information compartmentalized, even within the innangard, can reduce the chances that someone will inadvertently reveal it to someone that does not “need to know.”

Auxiliary Tasks

While there is really no task that the auxiliary might be able to perform, to support the tribe’s efforts, there are a number of roles the auxiliary has traditionally played that still offer a significant role for members of your tribe to contribute to your efforts of autonomy.

Security and Warning

One of the best efforts your auxiliary tribesmen can offer is the same that the elderly and young children, not ready to be warriors yet, have always provided a tribe. They can act as a physical security and warning system for the tribe. From simply standing watch during training exercises and meetings, to organizing and directing sympathizers into networks to observe, record, and report on the activities of other organizations—rival or not—in the area. Do you know who your local constabulary is? Which ones are sincerely carrying out their oaths, and which are too enthusiastic about federal handouts and “gifts?” Do you know the names, faces, and addresses of the local, federal LEO who will be organizing and directing State efforts against autonomy and self-reliance in your local area?

Who is going to be more effective at gathering useful, functional information of that nature, that the end-users need? The big, muscle-bound dude with tattoos, that looks like he just came back from skull-stomping ISIS, or the little grandmother that is just concerned about how well “protected” her community is from those “scary bad guys?” While this technically falls into intelligence collection, it’s also relevant to security/early warning specifically.

Grandma can sit on her porch, next door to the National Guard armory, count vehicles, and take notes on activity levels, so that when there is a significant uptick or change in activity, she can share that information with the tribe. If she’s sitting on her porch, shelling peas or watching “grandchildren” play in the yard, who’s going to think twice?

If my big, ugly ass is sitting on my porch all day, everybody in the damned neighborhood just assumes I’m some sort of drug dealer (no shit, it happened once, when a landlord asked a mutual friend if I was a drug dealer, since I worked nights, and was home all day).


Are you a farmer who can sow an extra acre of crop ground, or set aside a portion of your harvest to help feed the tribe? Are you a gun dealer or pawn shop owner who can buy a couple of guns from private party sellers and “forget” to record them so they can be sold to members of your tribe, without a paper trail? Hell, even a case of ammunition a month set aside and stored for the future might be a critical contribution in the future.

Are you a machinist or gunsmith, that can manufacture firearms, suppressors, or other necessary accouterments, if the need arises? Or, are you the manager or employee of a grocery store that can set aside some of the discarded staples that are still edible, but have damaged packaging that precludes their sale to the public? Are you just someone that has a spare outbuilding or basement that can be used by the tribe to warehouse “extra” goods for later disbursement?

Medical Support

The auxiliary has traditionally provided medical supplies and support, arranging for doctors and other medical personnel to provide care for the sick and wounded? Are you a doctor or nurse? EMT or paramedic? Veterinarian? CNA?

Hell, can you afford to purchase an extra roll or two of bandage each time you go to the grocery store, and set it aside for later use? Can you take an EMT course? Can you afford to pay for someone else in the tribe to take an EMT course? Even a CNA certification course? We sometimes forget that doctors and nurses get a little busy, and will need help caring for wounded and injured tribesmen, and “even” a CNA can have a useful role to play (and hell, I’ve met some really FAT chicks that were CNA….)


The auxiliary identifies and screens potential recruits for active resistance units. Who do you know that is in the right place politically to become a probationary member of your tribe, but doesn’t know the right people to actively train with like-minded people? Are you a gunsmith or gun store owner or employee who is in the position to meet the dude who just bought his first AR15 or AKM? Did he buy it because he’s concerned about the socio-political environment? Does he want to get some quality training in how to run the gun? You probably know “someone” that can be “convinced” to provide some lessons in the correct, efficient use of the weapon, both technically and philosophically, don’t you?

Maybe you’re “just” a regular guy customer at the gun shop, but have had some serious, quality firearms training, and want to help teach some others? Print some decent business cards up, and let the employees know that you’re offering training. Since it’s not about making a living off the training, who cares if you only get a half-dozen students a year. If you can develop even one of them to the point that they become a trusted tribesman, you’ve more than recompensed your costs for the business cards, never mind the fact that you’ll make at least a little bit of money from the other students, as well.

The best thing that “auxiliary” members can do is stop being afraid of the big bad Fed “bogeyman” and start networking more actively. Be…gee…”guerrilla”….about your networking. Look at everyone you meet as a potential member of your tribe. If you’re shy about declaring your values to people you just met, think about the fact that others might be just as shy. Someone saying something stupid the first time you meet them might be a result of ignorance (lack of knowledge), brainwashing, or it may be a “cover.”

Intelligence Collection and Counter-Intelligence

The auxiliary is in a unique position to collect and collate information to support its own operations—who can or cannot be trusted as part of the auxiliary—as well as other operations of the tribe. The auxiliary can also act as a counterintelligence asset both by maintaining watch over transient people in the area, screening potential members, and reporting known or suspected attempts by hostile organizations to infiltrate the tribe or area. They can also act as a “Red Cell” team, trying to gather information on the tribe, in an effort to discover and negate weaknesses in the tribe’s overall efforts.

You can, as we mentioned above, get to know your local LEO, as well as some of them local criminal elements that can be leveraged to find out who the local CI are. Remember, before you immediately discard the idea of being on conversational terms with “criminals,” that it’s unavoidable for each of s to commit at least one “crime” per day. Really, is a gun smuggler such a bad guy? If a local boy is busted for selling pot, who has he really hurt, if in fact, he actually sold the pot? Do you really understand the difference between “mala se” and “mala prohibida” offenses? There really is a difference between a crime and a victimless “crime.”

It is important that auxiliary members get training in intelligence collection and assessment. Understanding the strategic intelligence picture is important, but we also need people who can get a handle on the end-user, tactical intelligence needs.

Psychological Operations

The auxiliary may be able to provide it’s single greatest contribution by making an organized, concerted effort to spread word amongst the community outside of the tribe, about the value of armed citizen’s defense groups. Whether it’s a whispered word of support in the right ear, or simply pointing out that the difference between a Neighborhood Watch and a “militia” is that the militia actually has the ability to do something about the criminal activity that the police ignore, the spoken word, by respected, upstanding members of the society can be far more effective as positive public relations than a bunch of hillbillies running around with guns, wearing BDU, in the local park.

Maybe the PSYOP effort is as simple as making fliers that point out what a lying bag of leftist dicks the SPLC is, or teaching an adult education class on Constitutional Law and/or American History 101 at the local community center. Are you a CCW instructor? Or, can you teach a class on canning and food preservation? Can yo incorporate some political tidbits into your curriculum so that Suzy Homemaker, just waking up to the need for preparedness, can start looking deeper?

Can you drop a few bucks to print up fliers or bumper stickers and hand them out at the local gun show or preparedness fair?


The auxiliary can provide a secure, compartmentalized communications network for your tribe. Whether you are paying attention to Sparks and Dan Morgan’s lessons, and joining AMRRON, or studying and practicing computer/Internet encryption and historical tradecraft methods, or are simply setting up a phone tree for notifying members of the tribe in emergencies, you can play a vital role. Do you own a vehicle and drive? Do you take public transportation? You can still act as a courier between members of the tribe. My grandmother is a conduit of information in my family. I may not know what one of my cousins has been doing. I may not have seen him in a year, but I guarantee, if I go see Granny, I’ll know, in five minutes, what anyone in the family is doing. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t leave her house, because we all stop and see her when we’re in town, and if we’re not in town, we call her and visit with her on the phone. It doesn’t take a high degree of physical prowess, it just takes a sharp mind and a willingness to pass on important information.

Reserve Forces

One traditional role that the auxiliary often plays is overlooked by those who look at the auxiliary as an excuse to not be bothered with training, is that of providing an active reserve component for the guerrilla or underground forces during operations. Whether it’s part of a security element, in a blocking position during a raid, or a “sniper” shot intended to elicit a quick-reaction force (QRF) reaction, so they walk into an ambush, being part of the “auxiliary” within your tribe is NOT an excuse to ignore training, from gunhandling and SUT to PT. Even if you simply observe most of the training, or do walk-throughs while those around you are running and gunning, it will provide a better grasp of the skillsets than just reading about it in a manual. Whether that understanding is needed so you don’t shoot a friendly when someone sticks your fat ass into a fighting position to serve as part of a blocking force, or because you’re going to be helping teach the fundamentals to potential recruits to the tribe, is irrelevant…you need to be able to explain and demonstrate the skills, and the only way to gain that ability is to DO them.

I’ve told at least one participant in every single SUT class I’ve taught in the last four years, I’d rather see them walk through the class and be able to teach it later, than permanently cripple themselves in my class, and be useless afterwards.

Organization of the Auxiliary

Doctrinally, auxiliary elements are typically organized to coincide with, or parallel, the existing political and administrative divisions of the government of the operational area. Doing so means that each community, county, state, province, etc, are provided with an auxiliary force that can provide support to the local resistance.

Organization can be either centralized or decentralized, but the basic organization of each level usually takes the form of a command committee organization that controls and coordinates the activities of the auxiliary within its area of responsibility. At the tribal level, this may be as simple as members of the tribe who cannot perform as part of the auxiliary or underground, offering whatever services they can provide to the leadership of the tribe, or being specifically tasked with a set of auxiliary-related tasks by the leadership.

The level of compartmentalization needed will depend on the threat levels presented by various hostile organizations in the tribe’s operational area, and may range from “do not discuss the service you provide the tribe with anyone except me!” to “meh, everyone knows you’re a farmer. Maybe don’t tell them exactly how much food you’re providing, but as long as they’re a member of the tribe, they probably know you’re delivering a couple of steers every month to help keep people fed.”

Ultimately the greatest benefits for both the tribe and the individual member of the tribe who is acting as the auxiliary come with an organized command approach towards the efforts. It prevents the wasteful and unnecessary duplication of efforts, while reducing the chances that key needed efforts will be overlooked and neglected (really, who wants to be the guy that stockpiles toilet paper and bathroom cleaner, instead of ammunition?). It reduces the chances that members of the auxiliary will interfere with other auxiliary efforts. I’ve seen this happen when three guys—all part of the same network—are unwittingly bidding against each other for a key piece of equipment, thus driving the price up, unnecessarily. Wouldn’t it make a shit ton more sense for everyone who needed to buy ammunition, to buy it from one guy in the group who does bulk purchases of ammunition at a lower price, and then divvies the ammunition up into smaller lots for members of the tribe, who then get the ammunition at the lower price?

Successful Auxiliary Planning and Organization

We can tell we’re on the right path to organizing an effective auxiliary when you can honestly say that you’ve managed to:

  • Organized those members of the tribe who are not, or will not, be part of the active security efforts of the tribe, into an effort that can provide autonomous, internal support to the tribe.
  • Can provide security and clandestine operations in the auxiliary taskings for your tribe.
  • Begun to develop organized plans for the establishment of E&E/bug-out plans and networks, safehouses, and supply caches for the tribe.
  • Developed a command-and-control structure within the auxiliary of the tribe including a call-chain that allows for rapid contact with any member of the tribe, especially the auxiliary members who may have access to immediate logistics needs and/or transportation and E&E.
  • Begun the development of a compartmented communications system, ranging from the use of call chains, open-source encryption and Internet-based communications, and HAM radio options.
  • Have developed an organized, tribal “shadow government” that provides the necessary functions to build autonomy within the innangard of the tribe. This doesn’t mean you need to overthrow the local government. It means you should—within the tribe—have an established authority, that means you don’t need to go outside the tribe for most needs, from security to supplies, to helping someone in emergencies.

The reality is, while I spend a lot of time, justifiably, focusing on the needs of personal excellence in the fundamental warrior tasks and traits within the preparedness community, it’s a given that not everyone is a “powerlifting gunslinger,” nor need they be. Many—perhaps most—will fill the roles of the auxiliary. We can see this reflected in the 10:1 tail-to-teeth ratio of the military. That doesn’t mean—just like the support and service element personnel of the military—that you can completely foregoe training and PT, but it does still provide a useful, critical role for the “elderly, infirm, and frail,” to play within their tribes.

You don’t need to wander into the woods and start singing your death song, as you starve to death, just yet.


Medicine is a funny thing. It claims to be—and SHOULD be—very empirical, very reason and science based. The reality however, tends to be less concrete. From doctors and research scientists who refuse to look at new evidence that refutes the same education they received in med school, even if med school was thirty years ago, to the belief that no one who has not been through four years of med school, plus internships, etc, to earn the privilege of adding a couple of letters behind their name.

One of the ironic things about the belief, in the medical community, of their own reliance on empiricism, is the idea that 20 years of research and experience in military medicine should have no bearing on emergency care, since it doesn’t have “adequate” research behind it.

My experiences teaching TC3 for over 15 years, as both a soldier and a civilian instructor notwithstanding, my medical training includes: holding a first-aid and CPR certification since I was 16 years old, once upon time being on the National Registry as an EMT-Intermediate, ongoing membership in the Special Operations Medical Association (SOMA) and a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification. Those certifications are not intended to illustrate the depth or breadth of my expertise. By any measure, there are a whole lot of people out there with far more impressive credentials for medical care. This is not even a complete look at the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC or TC3) protocols.

The point of this article is to demonstrate the absolute importance for preppers—whether they are “gun people” or not, in taking a solid TC3 medical class, as soon as possible. Why? Because there is nothing in modern medicine that offers a more rational, empirically-supported set of protocols for emergency and field medical care available today. Period.

Let’s look at some of the issues I have with the differences between TC3 and my personal experiences with civilian pre-hospital trauma life-saving (PHTLS) methods.

The ABCs

I actually almost failed out of my NOLS WFR course, because of my unwillingness to accept that they were still teaching—even in a remote wilderness setting—the absolute primacy of the ABC method of patient assessment. Even during practical exercises during the class, I unfailingly reverted back to my TC3 training and the MARCH protocols. The MARCH protocols stand for Massive hemorrhage, Airway, Respiration, Circulation, and Hypothermia/Hypovolemic shock. The only difference, obviously, is the emphasis on Massive Hemorrhage in the tactical model.

The ABC method is predicated on the idea that an airway obstruction will lead to death in a matter of minutes. Thus, ensuring a patent Airway is the first priority (after scene size-up, etc, of course). This makes a lot of sense…if your kid is fucking choking on a chicken McNugget…

A major hemorrhage, such as from a severed artery, can lead to unconsciousness and death in less than one minute. When I pointed this out during a recent TC3 course in Idaho, both of the local paramedics in the course, as well as a nurse with three decades of experience, all acknowledged befuddlement that no one had ever considered this in their educational experience.

The first objection most people in the medical field have is that “most of our patients haven’t been shot or stabbed, so massive hemorrhage can be treated during our blood sweep, during ‘circulation.’” The ironic thing about this is, BECAUSE most of their patients aren’t victims of gunshot or stab wounds, it’s all the more important that they start thinking differently, especially within the context of remote/austere medical care. For preppers, the potential for massive trauma wounds, from mechanisms of injury other than gunshot wounds and stabbing, should be obvious. Cutting wood, with a chainsaw or ax, motor vehicle accidents, tripping and falling and impaling yourself; there are a number of potential injuries that make it entirely possible for the amateur or part-time medical care provider to lose a patient to blood loss, even as they try to initiate a chin-lift/jaw thrust to “save the patient” from choking….

Moral #1: Let’s stop worrying about our ABCs, and focus on MARCH.

Airway Issues

The chin-lift/jaw-thrust is the standard method of ensuring a patent airway for PHTLS, for anyone with less than an EMT-I certification (I know EMT-B who are taught, and allowed, by the ambulance services they work for to use, intubation, but—in my experience—they are the exception that proves the rule). For a patient that you are going to have lots of help with, and not have to move, this is sensible. What about when it’s you, or you and one other person, trying to move a patient, who is unconscious with an existing or impending airway obstruction, even as simple as their tongue rolling back into their airway and causing a blockage?

The method I’ve been taught, and the method I teach, is pretty simple: if I have a casualty that has lost, or that I believe will lose, consciousness, they get a nose hose (obviously, absent contraindications). A nasopharyngeal airway device (NPA), often referred to as “nose hose,” “nasal trumpet,” etc, is a simple, soft rubber hose designed to be placed into the nose of the casualty, and running through the nasal passages into the back of the airway, past the mouth. This allows the airway to remain in place and patent, even if the patient loses consciousness.

The funny thing about NPA is, despite the fact that we teach 18 year old privates to emplace them, I’ve yet to see a first-aid course that even discussed them. During my NOLS WFR certification, both of the instructors claimed to have no idea what they were when I pulled them out of my aid bag. A NPA as a method for maintaining a patent airway is a simple, intelligent approach, especially when we have to consider that we may be moving a casualty, quickly, in the dark, in tactical situations that preclude having a third care-giver standing around to hold the chin-lift/jaw-thrust.

The NPA is contraindicated in cases of maxillo-facial trauma, such as gunshot wounds, or kissing a steering wheel or windshield, during a motor vehicle accident. In the TC3 protocols, if a patent airway cannot be maintained, and a NPA is contraindicated, the next step is a surgical crichothyroidotomy, also known as a “cric” (pronounced KRIKE). Since this is definitely an invasive, surgical procedure, there are obviously legal liability reasons that they are not taught in PHTLS courses….

Chest Seals

It amazes me that a first-aid course, whether first-aid or WFR, still teaches the “expedient chest seal” with a piece of plastic wrap and duct tape, as the prime choice to treat penetrating chest wounds. Whether a HALO chest seal, Bohlin, or Asherman device (or the host of other pre-packaged chest seal devices available), the superiority of these to the expedient version is exponential.

During my WFR certification, one of our practical exercises included what turned out to be a “gunshot wound” to the upper chest (in the hippy-leftist flavor of NOLS, of course, it was a random gunshot from a hunter in the mountains, striking your backpacking companion….). While my class peers were still tearing open bandages and digging for duct tape, I had ripped open a HALO seal, plastered it over the entry and exit wounds, and gotten on with my patient assessment. The instructors of course, were livid, because I was “missing” the opportunity to practice making the expedient dressing. The fact that I had done so hundreds of times in the past was irrelevant. The fact that I carry multiple chest seal devices in my IFAK/BOK and medic’s bag, was irrelevant. Since their protocols didn’t recognize the chest seal devices, “they didn’t work.”

Needle Decompression

The same issues arose during WFR when the topic of pneumo- and hemo-thorax arose. The NOLS standard was to “evacuate immediately. There’s nothing you can do to help them. If it turns into a tension pneumo, there’s certainly nothing that can be done for them in the field.”

This is, as any recent infantry veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan can tell you—probably from personal experience—is absolute, utter, and complete bullshit.

There are a number of ways to deal with penetrating chest wounds that develop into pneumo- or hemo-thorax. The needle decompression involves using a 3.25” 14-gauge needle catheter to allow the trapped air or blood to escape, reducing the pressure on the lungs and heart that lead to death.

An alternative that is uncommon in the US, apparently, but well-regarded in the rest of the world, is “digital decompression,” using the finger to manually open the path through the chest between the trapped air or blood and the external surface, serving the same purpose as the needle decompression, albeit in a more rapid fashion.

In a remote situation, pneumo- and/or hemo-thorax MUST be treated. “Evacuate immediately” is a grand strategy, as long as evacuation can happen rapidly, and as long as there is somewhere to evacuate the casualty to, that will provide a more definitive level of care. That doesn’t mean however, that in a grid-down situation, you’re not going to have to deal with it, to keep the casualty alive long enough to get them evacuated.

Of course, the most obvious shortfall of the relationship between PHTLS and TC3 is the still present (although, fortunately, admittedly closing) gap regarding the use of tourniquets for massive hemorrhage from the extremities.

From a video I saw on FB recently that had a deputy sheriff pulling an appropriately applied tourniquet off a casualty, to the number of medical personnel I still meet who insist that “tourniquets cause limb loss,” there is still a large amount of ignorance, even in the medical field, about the experiences of the military medicine field regarding tourniquet use over the last decade and a half.

Here’s the rub: tourniquets save lives. I know of exactly one otherwise avoidable loss of limb from appropriate tourniquet application. Yet, during refresher first-aid courses and WFR certification, the standard PHTLS mantra regarding tourniquets is still “last resort, because they’ll cause loss of limb.”

The old-age tourniquet alternatives such as a bootlace and stick are not desirable, but using a tourniquet recommended and authorized by the CoTCCC (Committee on TCCC), will not “automatically result in loss of limb.” It WILL save lives.


I see a lot of people on various Internet forums and blogs and articles that insist on how important it is to take a EMT-B course, a WFR course, or even just a basic first-aid course. I’m not about to argue with them, because I agree. There’s a lot of benefit to having a) a legal certification right now, and b) the opportunity to learn to treat with some of the more common civilian issues that don’t arise in the military/tactical environment (My WFR course, for example, opened my eyes to some of the issues that arise with treating lifestyle illnesses and diseases that I had not spent much time considering in the past. This actually led to a pretty drastic changes in my TC3 POI when I teach the class, in order to help address some of those that preppers are likely to see, that are really non-issues in military TC3 classes).

Unfortunately, none—or very few—of the available PHTLS courses of instruction deal with gunshot wounds, stabbings, and burn/blast injuries that we can expect to become more prevalent in our daily lives as things become more apocalyptic. You NEED to take a TC3 course.

Obviously, it goes without saying, I recommend my own TC3 class. Others I can recommend, either from personal experience, or from the word of people I trust implicitly, include those taught by Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training in Ohio, and Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics.

Socrates for Survival

We’ve spent a lot of time recently, focusing our efforts on this blog, on the philosophy of ideas. My goal is to help readers begin to recognize—and hopefully overcome—some of the cognitive biases and errors so prevalent within the culture of preparedness. That emphasis on metacognitive considerations will not change any time soon.

Sure, we’re going to get back to training- and gear-specific articles, but this has never been a “training” blog anyway. As I—and others—have pointed out repeatedly, any 11B with one enlistment under his belt can teach basic tactics and even—to a basic level—weapons handling methods. My goal has been to move past that level, and provide you some of the though processes necessary not just to learn and teach those methods, but to discover the underlying principle concepts BEHIND those fundamentals, allowing you to modify them for your specific needs, in a way that is “relevant to reality,” rather than the hyperbolic fantasies of dystopian fiction.

Since we now have the rough beginnings of an education in critical thinking, we will be able to approach the dogma of preparedness with a METHOD of thinking “outside of the box,” that may provide answers to the questions that we should have been asking, had we even known those questions existed. Today’s lesson is The Socratic Method. Don’t worry, Socrates is a nicer guy than Aristotle. Aristotle might have thought you are an asshole, but rest assured, Socrates won’t call you a shithead. He’ll leave that to you to do for yourself.

The Socratic Method, often also referred to as Socratic Debate, is a method of inquiry and discussion that serves as a method of hypothesis elimination, through the deliberate asking and answering of questions. It is a tool to stimulate critical thinking and to provide clearer illumination, in an effort to reach “better” or even, “best” hypotheses. This is achieved by identifying and eliminating those competing hypotheses that lead to contradictions.

In its simplest form, the Socratic Method is just a series of questions—often the simplest but most useful being “why?” serving as the predominant question—formulated as tests of logic and fact. It helps us determine where the division exists between actual facts about a subject, versus what are simply our beliefs about that subject.

In the 5th Century BC, there was a class of teachers in Athens, called “sophists.” These men (I know of no evidence for female sophists. Readers?) specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric to entertain, impress, and (hopefully) persuade those sons of gentility that could afford their lessons, to accept their arguments. Aristotle credited Socrates with developing an alternative method of using definition, induction, and deduction, to learn and teach. Plato famously formalized the Socratic Method in his earlier Dialogues, portraying Socrates engaging in the method to interrogate his fellow citizens about moral and epistomological issues before becoming more Dialetic in his methods, while Diogenes Laertus credited Protagorus with the development of the method.

The central technique of the Socratic Method is called “Elenchus,” and simply refers to cross-examination for the purpose of refutation. In Plato’s early Dialogues, this cross-examination is the method Socrates used—as one example—to determine the definition of justice. It was comprised of four basic steps:

1) The interlocutor asserts a hypothesis: “We need to have a minimum of one year of food storage,” which Socrates considers false (or incorrect, the two are NOT synonymous) and decides to refute.

2) Socrates secures his interlocutor’s agreement to further premises that are based on the original thesis, such as “We need food or we’ll starve, right?” and “We can’t hunt, because all the rednecks will be out there hunting the same deer, right?” and “the deer will be extinct in a month or two, right?” and “90% of the population of America will die in the first 30 days of a grid-down event, right?”

3) Socrates then argues, and the interlocutor is forced to agree, that these further premises imply that the contrary of the original thesis is more accurate. “We don’t need food storage for one year, because most people will be dead before all the food is gone, and then we can gather what we need, for free.”

4) Socrates then claims that he has shown that his interlocuter’s thesis is false, and that its negation is true

The problem of course has been brought to light that, Step Four above is nonsense. Having demonstrated that a given thesis is flawed is not adequate to conclude that some alternative theory MUST be true. Rather, the discussion has reached a state called aporia, an improved state of still not knowing the “best,” but having a better understanding of what is not best.

Ultimately, the exact nature of this cross-examination—elenchus—is open to debate. Is it a positive method, that leads to knowledge, or a negative method used solely to refuse false claims to knowledge. Socrates, unlike the sophists, did believe that knowledge was possible, but believed that the first step to gaining knowledge was recognition of one’s ignorance—a concept that the vast, vast majority of modern Americans, including in the preparedness culture, could profit from spending some time considering. Socrates claimed that he himself didn’t know anything. The only way he was wiser than other men, he would claim, was that he was conscious of his own ignorance, while they were not. The essence of the Socratic Method is to convince the interlocutor that, whereas he thought he KNEW something, in fact, he didn’t know shit.

This is the value that the Socratic Method offers survivalists.

Socrates generally applied his techniques to those concepts that lacked concrete definitions. These included things like moral concepts, such as courage, justice, etc. This challenged the cherished moral beliefs of the interlocutor, pointing out inadequacies and inconsistencies in their beliefs, ultimately resulting in aporia.

The modern use of of the Socratic Method, and Socrates’ use of the method are not equivalent. Socrates didn’t—or at least rarely—used the method to develop consistent theories. Instead of arriving at answers, the method was used to break down the theories that were held, to go beyond the platitudes we take as “truths.”

Examples of this can be seen in almost every single “truth” we take for granted in modern preparedness culture.

Jim: Small, rural communities are safer retreat locations than large cities, because cities are festering with crime and poverty.

Socrates: Fair enough. Small towns too have crime and poverty, correct?

Jim: Yes, of course.

Socrates: Small town people tend to be closer knit, and people know each other’s business, as well, right? There’s no secrets in small towns?

Jim: Often enough, sure.

Socrates: Large cities often have safe neighborhoods within their boundaries, right?

Jim: I suppose so, sure.

Socrates: A densely packed urban neighborhood, assuming it’s one of the safe neighborhoods, has more people available to mount an adequate defense against aggressors, right?

Jim: Yes, I guess that’s true.

Socrates: In a world of modern, monoculture agriculture, there’s a better chance of finding a warehouse with a variety of food, and manufacturing capabilities to rebuild necessary technology, in a large urban area than in a small community, right?

Jim: Probably, sure….

Socrates: So, perhaps small, rural towns are neither safer, nor more dangerous, than a well-selected neighborhood in a large urban area?

Jim: Well….but……uhm…..

Of course, that’s neither going to end the argument, nor change Jim’s mind about living in the sticks. That’s okay. What Socrates wants for Jim, is for Jim to develop a framework to question his conclusions, and perhaps discover that his preparations are not perfect, or even “better,” and thus have the capacity to overcome those cognitive biases, in order to improve.

Ian: I need a .308 Main Battle Rifle, because it’s “turns cover into concealment!” It’s more accurate at long range!

Socrates: The .308 has better penetration than the 5.56? This makes it a better caliber?
Ian: Yes!

Socrates: You’ve seen the body armor studies that clearly show 5.56 M855 punching through body armor that stopped all the .308 and 7.62×51 they tested, right?

Ian: Uhm…yeah, but….in general, .308 will penetrate stuff that 5.56 won’t!

Socrates: Do you accept that the difference between cover and concealment is that cover stops incoming projectiles, while concealment simply hides you from observation?

Ian: Of course! I’ve read the field manuals!

Socrates: As a “long-range shooter,” I’m sure you are aware that the shooters at Camp Perry have long since discarded .308 as the most common winning caliber in National Match competition, foregoing it for smaller calibers…like 5.56, right? It’s demonstrably true that .308 is NOT more accurate at long-range than 5.56, right?

Ian: Yeah, but that’s just punching paper!

Socrates: If “cover” stops incoming projectiles, but .308 will penetrate it, then your “cover” was always merely “concealment,” and since M855, which is 5.56, will penetrate body armor that stops your .308, and since National Match 1000 yard competition is regularly won with 5.56, then your conclusion is flawed.

Ian: Well, shit…….

Like the above, this one is NOT going to change the mind of the deluded. It’s purpose is as much to illustrate the ignorance of Ian to those who have not been convinced by his naivete, as it is to convert Ian to the Gospel of 5.56.

Stop. Seriously, just stop. Stop assuming that because you read a couple of books by “experts” that you know everything you need to know about preparedness and survival. Question every conclusion you drew from your reading and study. Question the credentials of the “experts.”

A friend and I had a discussion the other day about this. He pointed out that the “experts” have a lot of knowledge. Inarguable. The important question however, is two-fold.

1) Is it knowledge, or is is supposition and belief? Is it predicated on fact and provable history, or is it theory developed through uneducated imagination?

2) If it is—in fact—knowledge, is it relevant to reality?

There has been a tidal wave of change in the preparedness culture in recent years. The teachers available in all areas of preparedness, have grown exponentially. We’ve gone from people who read some books and trained at one or two schools, to combat veterans who have not only trained at those schools, but then actually put their training to the crucible of actual combat testing, day-in and day-out, for multiple tours in actual combat, over a decade-plus.

Instead of just reading the theories of people who lived on small homestead-type hobby arms, and extrapolated what was needed for survival in Dystopia, we have the lessons being taught by people who survived collapsed societies first hand, as well as the teachings and observations of people who have traveled and worked in collapsed societies.

Instead of learning all of our lessons from fantasy dystopian fiction novels, written by—admittedly excellent—students and theorists, we have real-life stories and fiction both, being written by people with real-world experience in “bad situations.”

There is NO reason to maintain the status quo in preparedness. The only “authority” we should owe allegiance to, when it comes to preparing to protect and provide for our families, is Truth, or the closest approximation to that ideal that experience and introspection can provide. Any other “authority” should be—must be—questioned, objectively, until we determine that their premises are flawed, and where those flaws are, in order to determine “better” or “best” alternatives, or until we determine that the premises are—regardless of origin—the “better” or “best” alternatives available.

The Socratic Method is one method of being the “10th Man.”

Why Are You Here?


Reader “Wes” posted this in the comments on the latest article. I would call this a solid summation of my reasons for writing this blog, and my books. To help people achieve these goals.

“Talk to your doctor to determine whether or not Mountain Guerrilla is right for you. Side effects include learning new things, thinking outside the box, being rational, hardening the fuck up, building tribe, practical training, and large amounts of PT.”


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