Skip to content

From the Library

Tactical Firearms Training Secrets by David Morris

I came across this a few weeks ago, when my buddy Greg Ellifritz mentioned it in an article on his Active Response Training blog. Greg had some good things to say about it, so I checked it out. It’s been a couple weeks now, since I read it, and having had time to digest it, I’ve got to say I was underwhelmed.

There were a couple of basic drills in it that were okay, but they were the same general drills available in most references and classes. A lot of the material in the book however, relied on obsolete research data that has been refuted by more recent research. I haven’t, to the best of my knowledge, read any of Mr. Morris’ other work, but this one left me unimpressed. It’s probably legitimately a solid reference for new shooters, or those new to combative shooting, but there was a whole lot that I came across that was just wrong. I can’t recommend it.

(That having been said, keep in mind, I’ve written a book on combative pistol shooting and training, so I may be unreliably biased.)

Defensive Tactics by Loren Christensen

A reader sent me a copy of this, and asked me to venture an opinion on it. I’ve read a lot of Christensen’s books, over the last couple of decades. I was pretty impressed with most of what I read from him, at least until he partnered up with Grossman.

That having been said, there’s nothing inherently WRONG with the techniques and methods described in this book. As team defensive tactics, for controlling suspects, there’s a lot of validity to them, in my experience and observation. That having been said, the inherent problem with a lot of LE DT methods, is they tend to be predicated on the idea that a cop isn’t supposed to be getting into a wrasslin’ match with a suspect all by his lonesome. Like most DT, the ones taught here work best—most efficiently and effectively against someone who doesn’t really know what he’s doing, isn’t particularly motivated, and/or has his reflexes and physical attributes impaired. They also work best—most efficiently and effectively—when there are two or three dudes wrasslin’ one dude to the ground, to put him in cuffs.


Combative Shotgun by Mike Boyle

I’ve long acknowledged that I’m not a shotgun guy, by choice. A few years ago, I took the time to do a deep-dive into the shotgun, and gained a moderate level of ability with it. I’ve spent more time since then, incorporating it into my ongoing practice regimen, in order to improve the skill I have, and to increase it.

The last book on the shotgun I read—and the only other one on my shelves currently—is Mas Ayoob’s Stressfire II. That having been said, as I explained in this week’s article for $5 Patreon subscribers, the shotgun is not a really complex weapon to operate. There’s not a lot of specialized knowledge in running one. The biggest issue is ammunition management and keeping the beast fed. Mr. Boyle’s book, as is to be expected (I don’t know him, but we have mutual friends), is a solid look at the current applications of the shotgun in the anti-personnel role. Recommended.

Campfire Chat

(Patreon Subscribers, first articles are posted! First tier folks, you’ve got the second installment in last week’s Retreat Facility article. Second tier folks, an article on the scattergun, including useful training drills to work on.)

I keep seeing people on social media, discussing the active shooters in Texas and Ohio this weekend, expressing shock that in an entire Texas Wal-Mart, there was apparently nobody carrying a gun, that was willing to maneuver against and engage the shooter. There are a number of issues with this disbelief. First of all is the fact that something less than 5% of Texans actually have concealed carry permits (I believe, IIRC, they are CHLs in Texas). Added to this is the well-known fact that the vast majority of CCW/CHL permittees don’t actually bother carrying their pistols, as a regular thing. They tend to only carry “when I’m going somewhere I might need it!” ignoring the fact that you’re probably better off not going those places in the first place, if it can be avoided.

More important, is the issue that guns are not fucking magical talismans. Having a gun—even assuming you are actually dedicated enough to carry it—doesn’t suddenly give you the ability to do wondrous feats of heroism. There’s an article going around, from the Washington Post, back in March of ‘18, by Matt Larsen, of Modern Army Combatives fame, and LTC John Spencer. It’s titled “A Gun Won’t Give You the Guts to Run Towards Danger.”

This is a critically important reality that too many in the “tactical” and “preparedness” neighborhoods of the gun community don’t grasp. As the authors point out in the article, being issued an M4 or an M16 doesn’t make a soldier into a meat-eating gunfighter. It takes experience facing fear, and working through that fear.

The thing is, you see, as humans, we have this instinct for survival built into us. Some things are intuitively scary to us, because of evolutionary developments: things that go bump in the night, growls in the night, heights, etc. All of these intuitive fears are easy to understand, hard to overcome. I’m an experienced paratrooper, skydiver, and rock climber. Nevertheless, I still get nervous in high, exposed places. I’m not even a particularly great rock climber or skydiver, but I know enough to realize that even the very best athletes in these fields are still frightened by the possibility for death and or bodily harm in the pursuit of their activities. What makes it possible for them to overcome that fear is not a lack of it, but familiarity with the sensation, in those circumstances.

We need to build the same type of familiarity with potential situations we might face, if we are going to be able to overcome fear in a shooting situation we might find ourselves involved in. The biggest of these is simple fear and discomfort about interpersonal violence. The vast, vast majority of modern Americans have never even been punched in the face. To think that you are suddenly going to go from “I’ve never even been in a fistfight!” to “I’m gonna smoke check a motherfucker!” is beyond hubris. It’s fucking retarded.

Beyond that simple issue, we have the issue of normalcy bias and accepting that “this is actually happening. Right here. Right now. Shit.” I’ve been in a number of situations, as a private citizen, over the last several years (I’ve been in a number of situations as a private citizen, over the course of my life, actually, but I’m focusing on these) that a lot of people, when those scenarios are described to them, find shocking. Some of these, like pulling my rifle in a road-rage incident, as described in Guerrilla Gunfighter I, and thus precluding the need to shoot him, are relatively easy to fathom. After all, road rage incidents occur every day, all over the country. Others though, like the time, also described in that book, and in The Reluctant Partisan II, when we forced a car off the road, after watching a man thrown from the vehicle, and I pulled my pistol on the driver, until she exited the vehicle, are less common. These are not uncommon because they happen infrequently, but because most people have their heads so far up their asses, that they don’t realize what they’re seeing, and if they do recognize that something “strange” is happening, they rationalize it away as something else.

It is critical that, not only do we learn to acknowledge that this shit does happen, every day, and can happen to us, we’re not going to be prepared for it when it does happen, regardless of how courageous we “think” we are, and how well armed we are. Courage isn’t manufactured into the gun. You’ve got to provide that on your own.

The other thing that the media makes it really easy to overlook is, while it is certainly true that a mass shooting is traumatic to the victims and their families, the reality is that far, far more people are killed each year, in one-on-one violence, than all the victims of mass shootings added together. There are individual cities (not just counting Chicago either!), where the monthly murder rate exceeds the total victim count in every mass murder in the last decade. They really are a Black Swan event for most of us.

That having been acknowledged though, while the vast majority of gun owners aren’t going to train to be able to effectively negate an active-shooter event, with their EDC gun, that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t. I posit that I’m not particularly gifted as a shooter. I work hard to get to the level of ability I have, and if I slack off, I lose that ability in a hurry. I’m really not that special. But…if I can develop the ability to make an on-demand head shot, at 50 yards, in less than 2 seconds, from the holster, anybody can.


A question for you about building legitimacy in your community. Currently I’m 27 and I’m trying to get members of my church to take looking out for each other more seriously, as in not really using outside sources for labor or expertise. The problem I’m running into is that I think my lack of having a bachelor’s degree or higher is holding me from being taken seriously in a way, as my church as a whole is extremely well educated. I’m considering pursuing an engineering degree in the spring on a part-time basis, even if only for personal development as my employer would pay for it, but I have to wonder if I’m wasting my efforts in terms of building regard for my opinion.
I already lift, run, ruck, do calisthenics and dry fire daily, shoot twice a week, and am starting BJJ early next month, but it seems like I’m treated as a well-meaning, but ultimately misguided youngster. My question is if I should devote the time and effort into formalized education in order to have legitimate accreditation to my name, which will also be potentially useful, or if I should not waste my time and to simply pursue more practical avenues to building community resilience.

My first response would be to point out that, without knowing the community in your church, I can’t comment authoritatively on what would increase your opinion’s worth in their minds. I certainly wouldn’t go out and get a degree, just for that reason. If you’re getting the degree because of personal improvement, by all means, but not just as a means to improve your standing within your church community. If my employer was going to pay for a degree, I’d focus on a degree in something with more long-term benefit to my interests (of course, that might be your interest, and you didn’t specify what kind of engineering degree you were looking at).

Instead, I would focus on listening to the needs of the community around me, and then working to assist in fulfilling those needs. “Oh,” says Mrs. Smith, “I really need to find a plumber to come clear the sink drain. Mr. Smith did it while he was alive, but now that I’m a widow…” Cool. Show up the next day, with the appropriate tools, and tell Mrs. Smith that you’re there to clear that kitchen sink drain. Then do it. You do this five or six times, and people will start looking to you for helping with little things like that. Set the example. If someone needs something big, and it’s going to cost some money, by all means, let them pay for the materials, assuming they can afford it, but, if it comes down to insisting on paying you, charge them less than anyone else would. Make sure you vocalize WHY you’re doing those things. “Oh, Mrs. Smith, it’s no big deal. It’s what we do for our neighbors/church brethren/etc.”


Warwolf was a great book–got me interested in making a couple lead-weighted clubs for one thing. I also read a book I saw you mention before, War Before Civilization, that seems to attest to the effectiveness of clubs given the amount of skull fractures evident in historical battle and massacre sites.

I suspect there’s going to be a great demand for the ability to deal with threats, at close ranges, without the noise of gunfire, in the coming years. I spend a lot of time working contact range weapons into my repertoire of skills, for this reason.


CAS, though limited, is now within reach of any homeowner –> drones. No, you’re not going to get the kind of support that a Warthog can provide, but it’s better than not having one at all.
Check out the vids where they were armed with grenades and dropped them into the open hatches of tanks in Syria. I think Youtube even has videos where kids have mounted guns to them. Of course, I’m not advocating doing anything illegal, I’m just pointing out what others have done..
Plus, in surviellance mode, they can push out your security perimeter whether it’s static (homestead) or mobile (flying ahead of your convoy giving you advancted warning of roadblocks, etc.) They can also deliver small packages (repeaters, etc.) to terrain/locations not easily accessible or of high-risk to humans. Have a tech guy/gal on your team?

I’m going to discuss the application of drones for security applications later in the series, for sure.


So you don’t recommend joining up for combat arms experience? Is there a private equivalent or something?

Not unless it is something you are specifically interested in doing. A lot of the combat arms experience isn’t going to be particularly relevant, even in a total grid-down TEOTWAWKI scenario, and the stuff that is relevant, like shooting well, and even basic small-unit tactics, is available in the civilian private sector. More importantly, the way it’s taught will probably be more relevant to private sector needs. There’s not a lot of point to learning to execute a platoon-sized takedown of a village, as a private. You’re not going to have a platoon, and as a private, you’re not going to have enough to do with the planning to really understand what is involved anyway.


In regards to the mountaintop vs CAS, modernity does pose some daunting challenges. Historically you would want walls and other static defenses, but good luck these days with shaped charges/ IEDs, even in a Mad-Max grid down yadda yadda. I don’t know what the answer here is, if anyone does.

I suspect there is a place for walls and static defenses, but most of that depends on the METT-TC analysis. We are incorporating some static barriers, but they are extremely limited.


You mentioned areas that would become hostile to certain demographics without rule of law; Besides a willingness to perform extreme violence, what is your plan since your family isn’t Christian? I too grew up and live in the South, let’s not kid ourselves on the potential for sectarian violence.

1) We don’t flaunt the fact that we’re not of the Book. It’s not a secret, but we don’t throw it in people’s faces either. 2) Our people know, and don’t care. Our shared values, customs, and traditions, are still there, despite the lack of a shared religion. So, in the end, we rely on the security of kith-and-kin.


How would you advise I get friends and family to become more preparedness-minded? They’re all right-of-center politically, but I think the relative peace and a (albeit ineffectual) Trump presidency has made them complacent.

I can’t get half the concealed carriers to actually carry their pistol, and forget about a tourniquet or flashlight. I also can’t get 95% of them to even consider going for a ham license. I just know they’ll be panic-buying ammo and talking about SHTF when the next Democrat inevitably gets in the WH. How can I get through to these people to prepare NOW?

The only advice I can offer is to keep doing the good work. Set the example. Point out to people examples of what is important, and offer guidance when they are ready. Mostly, set an example by being prepared for an “uncertain” future, while also being successful in the now.


In the process of sitting with my mother, I had some access to Internet, and was watching some YouTube videos the other night. If you’re not watching the videos from Jas. Townsend and Sons, under the YT channel name “Townsend,” you’re doing yourself a disservice. They are a company out of Ohio that sells historical reenactor gear for the 17th and 18th centuries. One of their videos that I watched (I watched a LOT of them), was on laundering clothes in the 18th century. I learned a useful trick for cleaning wool….

Apparently (I haven’t used this yet), you can make a paste out of diatamaceous earth (DE) and a small bit of water. Rub that onto a stain or soiled spot on your wool garment, without grinding it into the fiber. Then, let it dry. Shake out the garment, or brush off the DE, and it should have pulled out the soil. Certainly worth a try, and I will be using it, this winter.

I’m also going to try their method for salting pork in the coming months, and I suspect I will make some potted meat, in the form of breakfast sausage. I’ve seen the idea before, but like a lot of topics, it sort of went in one ear, cogitated around in my brain for a few minutes, then got shoved out the other ear by some new idea or concept coming in.

The Survival Retreat Facility: Design Planning Considerations in Theory and Practice, Part One

US Army Special Forces, like the rest of the US military, has a set of doctrine regarding the establishment, maintenance, protection, and even closure, of tactical facilities, under field conditions. In current SF doctrine, those facilities are referred to as “Special Forces Tactical Facilities.” These can range from a small, partially developed patrol base for the ODA, all the way up to an SFOB (Special Forces Operating Base), or what used to be called an “A-Camp.”

Doctrinally, the role of the SF TACFAC is “to support special operations and function as a tactical and operational base.” That is, they serve as a defensive base for the operational detachment, a base for projecting offensive force outwards, and as a center for developing, improving, and maintaining relationships with the local national populace and host-nation forces.

Over time, the TACFAC helps provide for establishment, restoration, and improvements of many local HN community and government services and systems. These essential support systems for the TACFAC and surrounding HN communities are best captured by the acronym SWEAT-MSS (security, water, electricity, administration, trash, medical, sewage, and shelter). Eventually, the SF TACFAC will be returned to the control of the HN government through a relief-in-place (RIP).

Taking our holistic, Permaculture view of preparedness, that seems an awful lot like what our retreat locations—whether you are in a rural, suburban, or urban environment—should be, doesn’t it? After all, if we’ve realized that the idea of Ma, Pa, and the kids, all by their lonesomes, with a year’s supply of beans, bullets, and band-aids, is not such a sustainable plan after all (and, seriously, if you haven’t realized it yet….it’s really not), then we know we need “community,” either in the form of a close-knit group of friends and family—kith-and-kin—or a trusted, small village or neighborhood of people with shared values.

Whether you’re looking at the kith-and-kin clan model, or the village defense model, as your solution, one of the most-often cited “problems” that preppers and survivalists face is the lack of fellow travelers on the path to preparedness. On the other hand, if you have even just four or five people—nuclear family members, best buds, or siblings/cousins, etc—who are doing their best to prepare, and you have a location that can be secured with some effort, you can begin the development of a retreat that will double as your very own UW TACFAC, when the time comes to up the security game.

In the appropriate field manuals (the Special Forces Tactical Facilities manual is a distribution restricted document, with distribution limited to US government agencies and their contractors, with distribution to JFKSWCS students from foreign countries on a case-by-case basis), the defensive purposes of the SF TACFAC are listed as:

–deter and defeat enemy attacks.

–achieve economy of force (by which they mean, require the least amount of personnel possible to defend the facility, releasing more available personnel for offensive operations).

–retain control of key terrain, including human terrain in the form of the local populace.

–protect the populace, critical assets, and infrastructure.

–develop intelligence, particularly local intelligence.

Since those same purposes are pertinent to the discussion of our survival retreat locations, we can see that, when combined with a modified version of the SWEAT-MSS acronym, this provides us a pretty solid basis for consideration of needs for the survival retreat.

After all, we need to be able to use our survival retreat to:

–deter and defeat attacks by hostile outside elements. Depending on collapse scenario, these outside elements could fit a number of different descriptions, ranging from unorganized, starving or near-starving refugees, to paramilitary bands with varying levels of organization and training, to local government forces trying to requisition materials and supplies “for the common good,” to federal or foreign regular military occupation forces.

–since we are definitely limited in manpower, both initially, and via replacements, we certainly need to ensure that we can develop a retreat defense program that will achieve economy-of-force. Growing, gathering, and otherwise harvesting food, repairing, replacing, and/or adding on to infrastructure such as buildings for housing, storage, and more will deplete our available manpower pool, as will other priorities-of-work, ranging from food production and preparation, cleaning and maintenance, medical care, and even childcare and education. Despite these competing demands for manpower effort, we cannot afford, in a post-grid environment, to ignore the demands of 24/7 360-degree security. This means we are going to require a plan and design that allows us to achieve maximum economy-of-force, in order to allow us to provide that security, from the beginning, throughout the process of expanding and strengthening the facility, and recruiting, training, and initiating additional personnel.

–by developing a secure facility, that still allows us to interact with the local populace in a positive manner, we can maintain beneficial relations with that populace. We may not need—or want—to “control” the local human terrain, but we need to, at least, maintain the ability to control that populace in regards to their ability to cause problems for us. Additionally, by selecting the location for our retreat proactively, with security at the forefront of the considerations, we can leverage the location and design of the facility to maintain control over surrounding areas, tactically and operationally, through control of key terrain features.

As an example, although there are some very definite potential shortcomings to locating our farm on top of the mountain in our area—and acknowledging the fact that, in a world with close-air support (CAS), a mountaintop is not necessarily “the key terrain feature,”–in any post-grid/collapse scenario that doesn’t involve a hostile element that possesses CAS assets, being on top of the mountain really does work as a key terrain feature, since it allows for greater observation of the surrounding areas, and makes it significantly harder for dismounted or ground vehicle mounted hostile forces to attack our location effectively.

–Our survival retreat obviously needs to help us protect the populace of our immediate community. That’s why we have a survival retreat, whether it’s a modern, isolated rural survival “doomstead,” an urban tenement building, or a subdivision in the ‘burbs. Additionally, if we design it right, and plan our operations within the retreat area properly, it can be far more effective at protecting critical infrastructure (solar power systems, water catchment systems, housing buildings, etc) and assets (water wells, stock ponds, gardens, fields, livestock, vehicles, and more).

–Finally, a well-established retreat location, with a community of people who are known and liked and trusted by the local surrounding community members, has a far better chance of successfully gathering accurate, actionable intelligence information, via neighborhood gossip and informants, than the weirdo family with the doomstead, that refers to their neighbors as “sheeple,” and weirds everyone out by walking around town open-carrying firearms, while talking about government conspiracies and how ZOG is coming to put us in underground concentration camps.

Of course, when we look at the SWEAT-MSS acronym however, there are some important missing factors, because our context is not a clone of the situation of a SFODA deploying to East Assholistan, with the knowledge and approval of the local HN government, and a supply train that enjoys air and naval superiority for the constant, regular resupply of critical support items, ranging from ammunition and ordnance, to food, water, and replacement clothing.

To really plan and develop an effective survival retreat, just like planning and developing an SF TACFAC, requires an accurate estimate of the situation, including analysis of mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available, time, and civil considerations (METT-TC), as well as those factors essential to security of the facility, including an accurate OAKOC assessment (Observation and Fields of Fire, Avenues of Approach, Key Terrain Features, Obstacles, and Cover and Concealment). These are, of course, integrally synergistic issues that influence and impact each other (for a thorough discussion of mission-planning, including both METT-TC and OAKOC, including how they interrelate, see Volume One of The Reluctant Partisan!).

In SF doctrine, a SF TACFAC may be developed by breaking new ground, and building up from bare dirt, or by using an existing facility that may need less improvements to be functional. The same considerations that help the detachment determine which of these is more contextually accurate for their situation, can be useful—with a couple of minor modifications—to the survival retreat:

–Is the AO permissive, uncertain, or hostile? This applies, in our context, both right now, and in the future, assuming a loss of government security force availability. There are neighborhoods—and even entire rural villages—in the USA today that are perfectly fine and safe for pretty much anyone to move into, that will be completely untenable for certain demographic groups, as soon as the police quit answering the phones. At the same time, there are environments that, right now, would be hostile to legitimate, effective preparedness planning and preparation, but because of the lack of prepared neighbors in the surrounding community, would be the very definition of permissive for anyone capable of protecting themselves, and maybe even providing protection for neighbors who need such assistance.

–Is the facility to be located in an urban, suburban, or rural location? Building from scratch is considerably more feasible on undeveloped or under-developed rural land, than in a suburban or urban environment. At the same time, while you might be having a brand-new house built in the suburbs, HOA covenants, building code enforcement, and nosy neighbors may prevent your ability—or even willingness—to incorporate much in the way of effective preparedness security options in the building plan, while purchasing an already extant structure, even in a heavily-urban neighborhood, may actually facilitate “remodeling” that allows for the addition of these options, out of sight of outside observers.

An example of this could range from the purchase of a small apartment complex, and remodeling it for protection, before leasing the apartments to select friends and family, to the purchase of a building or complex in an industrial or light-industrial area, and turning it into a defensible outpost (while I’ve actually heard of people doing both of these, and personally know a guy who did the warehouse thing, I can’t imagine being remotely interested in this option myself, so don’t expect much commentary on that side of things, from me).

–Is the potential facility logistically sustainable? An isolated, rural retreat, in much of the vaunted “American Redoubt” is logistically sustainable…for as long as you have rice and beans stored for. There are significant portions of the Redoubt that are not particularly amenable to small-scale vegetable gardening, without extensive external inputs. Other parts of the region are amenable to it, with extensive Permaculture-type development work to prepare the location for sustainable growing. That’s not to say that retreating to the Redoubt is a bad idea…as long as you have considered the logistical sustainability of your retreat, in accordance with your concept of what the future will look like…and assuming you turn out to be correct.

At the same time, while an urban or suburban retreat location may seem untenable, it IS possible to survive a complete collapse, for multiple years and even multiple decades, in urban areas. As I discussed in Volume Two of The Reluctant Partisan, the populations of two different urban cities, that are often used as textbook examples of the the hellishness of urban areas in collapses, Mogadishu, Somalia, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovenia, both actually increased in population during their collapse years (and, remember, Sarajevo was under siege and regular bombardment by artillery during that time frame, while Somalia was ruled by warring gangs, armed with automatic weapons, RPGs, and mortars!). Logistically, support may come from outside the urban area, either through smuggling or open trade agreements (one example of trade items in a US collapse might include stripping building materials and supplies from abandoned buildings, for trade to rural communities outside the urban area, in trade for food), or it may be internal, through the use of intensive urban gardening and permaculture practices. Utility logistics may be easier to develop in an urban area, during a collapse. Solar panels and inverters are in wide use in most urban areas on commercial buildings these days, and there are a lot more forklifts (forklift batteries are a popular choice for off-grid electrical systems) in urban warehouse districts than in the boondocks. Hell, setting your PV system up now, and getting used to it, without drawing attention to yourself, would be a hell of a lot easier in an “abandoned” warehouse in a city, than it is even on my remote rural location!

–Is the local security situation adequate? What is the local defense and protection situation? Is the local constabulary, whether municipal police department, rural sheriff’s department, or unofficial “gang” enforcement, actually adequate to prevent, or at least, reduce the chances of criminal predation now? Is the local constabulary corrupt? If they are corrupt, can they be coerced or bribed to leave you alone? Do you have the resources to achieve either of those routes?

Is there a local militia or community-defense organization that you can join, or at least coordinate with? Are there are other preparedness groups that you can coordinate mutual assistance pacts with? Do those preparedness groups, militia, or community-defense organizations demonstrate a level of training and ability that makes them worth coordinating with, or are they so apparently inept that they might as well not even exist, and you can basically ignore them as an organized potential threat?

–Is it possible for your organization to conduct Civil Affairs (CA) or Psychological Operations (PSYOP) on demographic groups in the local area to modify, change, or block threats from human terrain factors? Does your group have the knowledge, training, motivation, to plan, execute, and assess the effectiveness of these operations, if you do attempt them? Do you have access to people with those abilities? Can those people be recruited, or even temporarily hired, to conduct those operations?

In addition to the SFODs that will occupy the SF TACFAC (it may be occupied by ODAs, ODBs, or even larger elements, the SF TACFAC, may also house interpreters and other friendly force personnel on either a permanent or temporary basis, ranging from other US or multinational military, interagency, or contractor personnel, HN personnel in the form of military, constabulary, or civilian government, or irregular forces, whether local or third-nation (TN), working with the SFOD. To plan a proper TACFAC operation, the detachment must take into account both the size of these elements, how long they may need to be housed, and any cultural considerations related to those groups, when developing their TACFAC.

Similarly, when developing our retreat facilities, we need to recognize that, just because “our group” only comprises a half-dozen married couples, only half of which have teenage children, that may not be the entirety of the population of the retreat, once things get “sporting.” Elderly parents, adult cousins or siblings, and juvenile extended family members, as well as extended friends, or even bypassers who turn out to have potentially useful skills should all be considered as potential “Well, we can manage one more person, because they’re extremely dear to me!” additions.

It’s popular, and easy right now, to say, “Fuck those people! They should’ve contributed to the preps, if they wanted to show up!” But, when the rubber meets the road, if you tell your wife, “Hey, honey, sorry, but you knew your Mom and Dad, Sister, and nephews were not going to be allowed to come here when SHTF!” you’re as likely to end up with your wife and kids leaving to find their way with Grammy and Poppy, or with an 8” Chef’s knife buried in your chest one night, as you are to hear your wife say, “Yeah, you’re right, honey. Fuck my Mom and Dad!”

If you tell the wife of your best buddy that no, she can’t bring her adult sister and four nephews along, after her brother-in-law was killed in a riot, you might get your way, but you’re probably going to lose your buddy, his wife, and all the additional security they represent, as well.

This means, in a nutshell, that when planning, you need to make sure that you’ve got room, and materials, to help house and provide sustenance for, additional, unplanned personnel. The “traditional” prepper plan for that, of course, was to stockpile a couple cases of Mosin-Nagants or SKS, and some cheap surplus LBE for those people, and just tell them they better show up with a couple buckets of food, and camping gear.

I’ve always had a couple of issues with that approach, even when I was a kid, reading about it. First of all, if someone shows up without a firearm, am I really going to hand them a rifle? Do they even know how to safely handle a firearm? Sure, I can train them, but to really teach them, it’s going to take some time. That training time is going to take away from other essential tasks they need to be doing, like putting seed in the ground to grow some more food, and getting some weatherproof, environmentally appropriate shelter up.

Our farm is big enough that, with good planning and organization, we can maintain and expand our food-production capabilities, and still provide comfortable, housing, in a village format, for all of our “clan-of-choice.” We’re also surrounded by unused, and/or underused, open land. Some is cow pasture that is in use, other is forest or pasture that is not in use. My plan has long been (and I’ve discussed this with other SF veterans in the preparedness community), when the expected “unexpected” folks arrive (anyone who is family is always welcome, even if we don’t honestly believe they have the ability or wisdom to make it here, in time), without a pot to piss in, is to hand them a tarp shelter, a small bucket of seeds, a hoe, shovel, and rake, a breeding pair of rabbits, a couple of laying hens, and a marked out space of ground. For home defense, they will be handed a spear and a plywood shield. They will be shown how to fabricate a shelter out of the tarp, and then given instruction on how to use a bucket for a composting toilet, how to plant their seeds, and how to care for their new livestock. Finally, they will receive a welcome briefing: “Welcome to the farm. We (the farm, including the clan-of-choice that helped build this), get 10% of whatever you produce for five years, then 5% thereafter. You owe us two days a week for the first month for training, and then two days a month for security duties, and one day a week for community work efforts.”

If they don’t like that? Well, there’s the road. We gave them a chance. This idea though, that I’m going to hand some knucklehead that’s never even fired a gun, a rifle and ammunition, without first teaching them to use it properly, as part of a team, under stress, strikes me as preposterous, under the circumstances. Sure, as an SF guy, I might be working with local Gs, without time to “train” them up to my standards, but if they fuck up and kill one of us, it’s just the ODA. If someone in my post-grid community fucks up and kills one of us, it might very well be one of my kids….


Doctrinally, a SF TACFAC has “three broad phases of development,” which are “initial, temporary, and permanent, whether in a rural or urban environment.” Because of this, the TACFAC can be classified by phase and by environment, such as initial/rural or temporary/urban. The transformation of the TACFAC through these phases, if it happens, is mission-driven, and it is possible—and often the case—to begin a TACFAC at a higher level than initial (bare dirt) phase. An example of this can be seen in the rent/lease of already established, walled compounds in Afghanistan, for the establishment of temporary and permanent TACFACs in an already defensible, habitable place. In these cases, some of the basic sustainment and support systems are already in place. “Therefore, development of a specific TACFAC may begin at the temporary (intermediate) or even permanent (well-developed) phase.” With the obvious exception of the above-cited Afghanistan example, this will more generally be the case in urban TACFACs than in rural ones. This was often the case in Iraq, for example, when captured Iraqi Baath Party government buildings were commandeered for the use of SF elements as TACFACs. This is because, as mentioned previously in this article, urban areas often already contain numerous suitable existing structures, and are more likely to have some forms of the requisite support infrastructure.

In a post-grid environment, here in the States however, while it is still possible to start a retreat on the bare ground of raw or reclaimed land, which would constitute the Initial phase, most often, even rural retreats are going to to begin with some buildings and infrastructure support already in place. Additionally, in the post-grid environment, the supporting infrastructure available in an urban environment may or may not be functioning (there are cities where the water and sewage utilities are gravity-fed, for example, meaning that, as long as your building facilities work, you’ll still have the ability to utilize municipal utilities, even without the power grid functioning).

Like SF units, which may operate in environments as varied as the deserts and urban megalopolises of Iraq, to the mountains of Afghanistan, or the jungles of Latin America or SE Asia, preppers may need to establish retreat locations in a variety of different environments. Because of this, a facility may be further classified by specific environmental conditions, such as rural/desert or rural/jungle. A retreat facility in the Red Desert of Wyoming will look as different from a retreat facility in urban Portland, Oregon, as a SF TACFAC in Afghanistan does from a SF TACFAC in the Phillipine jungle.

This, of course, ties into the Permaculture principles, and working within the limits of the local environment. A SF TACFAC in Iraq looks different than a SF TACFAC in the Phillipine jungle, because the environments are different, so even though they fill the same needs, function remarkably similar, and have similar support system requirements, they will still be different, driven by the differences in the surrounding environment.


The essential support systems of the SF TACFAC, as we established at the beginning of this article, are doctrinally captured by the acronym SWEAT-MSS. These support systems are also critical to the retreat facility. Unfortunately, they alone are not adequate for support of the retreat facility, simply because the logistical chain enjoyed by the SF unit, is not something we are likely to have in the post-grid environment. Nevertheless, it makes sense to start with the SWEAT-MSS foundation, and expand on it to cover those elements not covered, but still essential to our contextual requirements.

In both the SF doctrine, and for our contextual requirements, “Security” is listed first. This is not because the typical “III%4LIFE” gun-crazy prepper in his multi-cam jammies, with his “North Idaho Sniper Rifle” SKS, with Tapco furniture, and 45x Tasco scope has the right idea. Instead, it is because, having every other logistical infrastructure support requirement dialed in, to perfection, but not being able to secure it adequately, simply means we’ve built something really nice for some roving warlord’s band to come and take from us. This is the biggest issue with the resilience/preparedness side of the typical Permaculture advocate. They’re all about building resilient, durable, sustainable facilities that could allow them to survive and thrive, and build a stronger community around them, post-grid….but they can’t wrap their head around the idea that they might need to smoke-check some fuckers if they want to keep it, and see it utilized in a manner in accordance with their principles.

While developing security requires an estimate of the situation, and the situation will change as you develop the retreat facility, you still need to start with a security plan for what you have now, and that requires having an estimate of the current situation.

While Administration, doctrinally, mostly refers to the daily administrative and logistical considerations of training HN forces, out of the SF TACFAC, for our purposes, we’re going to utilize that category to subdivide and cover many of the other essential administrative and logistical considerations of keeping ourselves and the retreat community functioning. This will include, most importantly, coverage of the Rule of 3s, and how we will maintain survivability for the populace within the retreat facility, as well as how we can begin expanding our sphere of influence outside of the retreat facility, to support infrastructure recovery and repair, development, and protection. The importance of doing this is often overlooked in preparedness circles, but cannot be overemphasized, from a preparedness perspective, if for no other reason than the goodwill it produces in the surrounding local populace will go a long way to increasing our survivability, through allowing us to build rapport, and develop mutually beneficial relationships with the surrounding populace, allowing them to provide logistical support, intelligence information support, and even security support. This development, in essence, allows us to develop the local populace surrounding the retreat facility, into our auxiliary.


SF doctrine utilizes an analytical tool called a Critical Nodes Matrix (CNM) as a planning guide to aid the SFOD in not only establishing an SF TACFAC, but in improving an already existing one. The CNM “identifies the environment and different development phases,” and cross-references those with the SWEAT-MSS requirements. It allows the team to analyze the specific requirements across the essential support systems, to identify critical requirements throughout the phases of the facility development. Through this process, it is possible to develop a logical progression of needs betweens the different phases.

While SFOD generally require nonorganic support to properly run a TACFAC and to allow them to properly function at full operational capacity, the retreat facility may be forced to rely solely on organic support for both internal operations and external operations. In either case however, a CNM can help identify existing shortfalls and gaps in personnel, equipment, and materials needed to establish or improve a facility. By identifying these shortfalls early, during the analysis process, before shit falls apart, we can increase the chances of successfully planning for and locating those needs, while they are still available. This may range from personnel needs like vehicle or small-engine mechanics, and medical personnel—or even extra gunslingers for security—to operational and equipment needs ranging from “Hey, we’re gonna need a LOT more ammunition, and we need to put together a large-scale reloading facility on-site, with appropriate components,” to “we only have enough antibiotics to treat forecast injuries for a dozen people, but we expect to have three dozen people living and working on-site within six weeks of grid-down! We either need to source a lot more antibiotics, we need all of our medically-trained personality to start looking at local plant-based antibiotic alternatives, we need to set up a lab to produce penicillin from scratch, or we better prepare on massive casualties from stupid shit like chronic dysentery!”

Ultimately, properly used, the CNM can facilitate proper development of a retreat facility plan and development, through the development of primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency (PACE) plans. For example, if an existing critical node in the SWEAT-MSS model fails, anywhere within the matrix, the previous critical node can be used as a substitute. An example of this actually occurred on our farm recently. Our initial phase sewage management plan was the simple bucket composting toilet system. Our permanent plan is a low-water use flush composting toilet system. The temporary (intermediate) phase plan was the use of a self-contained flush containment toilet, like those available for RVs, with small internally-contained catchment that could be dumped less frequently than the bucket.

Unfortunately, about two weeks after transitioning to the temporary plan, while developing the planning, and gathering the material needs for the permanent plan, we suffered a failure of then temporary system. To whit, the wife decided it stank to high heaven, and the piston pump flush system actually didn’t produce adequate water flow to reliably flush toilet tissue and feces. About 50% of the time, you’d have to dump extra water into the toilet, via a small pitcher, to gain adequate flow to complete the flushing process. This meant either A) we could stick with the temporary, completely inadequate plan, B) we could accelerate the development of the permanent plan, which would have thrown other planning into disarray (like a rebuild of the bathroom addition that needs to occur first, and that we don’t currently have the funding to achieve anyway), or C) we could revert to the temporary plan of using the bucket composting toilet method. Pretty easy choice, and it was a no-brainer, since it was the CNM default fall-back, anyway. Additionally, because we had already used that method for well over two years, we knew it worked, well (in fact, really the only reason we are planning on the flush composting system is because I’m lazy (well, busy anyway), and don’t want to have to carry the bucket out regularly. It would be easier to just have the compost flush automatically into a vermicompost bin, and the water drain into a separate containment system for fertilizer use. By all accounts I have found, this ends up meaning you can actually utilize the humanure compost sooner, and you don’t ever have to empty the containment system unless you need the compost, or simply want to use the compost.

For the purposes of this article, we are going to discuss the development of a rural retreat facility, in the form of our farm. This works particularly well for a couple of reasons. First of all, unlike a lot of preppers, even in rural retreats, we started with raw land, in the form of reclaimed pasture that is now a mixture of second-growth hardwood forest, young scrub forest, and meadows with brambles and shrubbery developing. We did not have a single functional structure anywhere on the land when we purchased it.

Second, it works well because while it has a small unit developing the facility (my wife, myself, and our children), we do have the ability to occasionally augment our workforce through recruitment of members of the clan-of-choice, and the plan is to develop it in a manner that will allow for a much larger permanent party population. Finally, it has—literally—gone through all three phases of the development process.

Like the SF ODA initially occupying a TACFAC site, our major concerns during the initial phase were basic survival needs: security, water, sanitation, food, and electrical power (to operate tools and communications devices).

Housing was rudimentary. We weren’t so primitive as to be living out of our rucksacks, or even in a tent like a GP Medium, but we started out with a “portable building” cabin, that we knew was temporary and short-term, so we didn’t need to do a lot of improvement on the temporary housing. Because of that fact, much of our environmental planning, even in the cabin, was “primitive.” We relied on a very small woodstove, sleeping bags, and sleep pads on the floor. We cooked on a two-burner camp stove, and our refrigerator was an ice chest. Like the initial phase of the SF TACFAC, for the initial phase of the rural retreat facilities, tends to be pretty barren and primitive.

Electric power may be provided by small commercial 5KW generators, like those assigned to many SFODs. Alternatively, as we’ve discussed in these pages, a solar generator may be a more resilient option. While a solar generator, whether manufactured or self-built may be more expensive than a cheap, big box store 5KW generator, it will also last incredibly longer, and the maintenance and operational costs very quickly even that cost out, since you don’t need to replace fuel.

Our planning for the initial phase development indicated our electrical needs were relatively limited. We needed—wanted—to be able to operate a few lights, a small television and DVD player, and charge laptops, cellphones and two-way radios. Equally critical for our needs however, was the ability to run power tools. While we were able to run the household needs on a single 210W solar panel, an inexpensive PWM inverter, and an auto parts store inverter, with three little 100amp hour deep-cycle batteries, the start-up draw alone for even the smaller power tools was too much for the inverter, and would have drawn the battery bank down too quickly as well. This required the use of a 5KW generator initially. These were quickly replaced in the temporary phase by the use of 20V battery powered power tools, although some tools still require the use of the generator. In the event the batteries for these tools are lost, or die, and are irreplaceable by a quick, albeit expensive trip to Lowe’s, the reversion to the use of the generator for power tools, and the use of manual hand tools.

Basic comforts, such as indoor plumbing and running water, typically are nonexistent.” Many rural retreat facilities have the same issue, of course. In such cases, many contemporary preppers rely on hauling potable water from town or a neighbor’s house (we actually did this for a number of years when I was a kid, because the well water was so sulfur and iron laden). The doctrinal—and better—option, is to ensure a reliable fresh water source in close proximity. Our farm has three year-round, spring-fed ponds on it. With a little filtration and/or treatment, we have a fundamentally unlimited source of fresh water. An additional source of course, that we developed very early in our initial phase development, and still utilize in the temporary (and, yes, even into the permanent phase) phase, was rainwater catchment and storage. This can range from the food-grade 55-gallon drum we used in the small cabin, to the doubled and connected 275-gallon IBC totes we currently use (and are an exceedingly common solution for off-grid living), or a more permanent solution in the use of larger plastic containment solutions, or even ferro-concrete, underground cisterns.

While the SFOD may utilize slit trenches and cat holes in the initial phase, for those of us with wives and children, the use of traditional outhouses is one, slightly more realistic option, or the even more function-stacking (there’s that Permaculture thing again….) composting toilet that can provide safe, sanitary waste disposal, as well as feed for soil and plants in the garden and orchards.

So, we’ve covered “water,” “electricity,” “sewage,” and “shelter,” of the SWEAT-MSS acronym. That, of course, leaves us with “security and protection,” “trash,” “medical,” and “administrative” issues.

Burning trash is actually legally verboten in our area, although that doesn’t stop anybody from actually doing so. The problem of course, with burning trash, is that not everything we produce as refuse, is burnable. Our system, for the initial and temporary phases, has been multifaceted. Step one is to sort household trash. What is burnable gets burned, of course, while recyclables get taken to the recycling center (the value of which is, of course, questionable at best. Between “recyclables” that cannot actually be recycled, and the preponderance of “recycling” companies to actually ship materials off-shore to other countries for recycling, where they are conveniently dumped in the ocean, the value of “recycling” is—at best—questionable.

On the other hand, if we don’t do that, we either have to send it to the landfill, or establish a landfill dump on the farm. While that may be the only practical solution in a post-grid environment, it’s not something I’m interested in doing until I cannot avoid it. The better option, of course, is to do everything you can to reduce household trash, and to make your best effort to limit what is produced to burnable items, as much as possible.

Most yard, farm, and construction debris is far easier to dispose of effectively, of course. Organic materials, such as wood and fibers, can be composted or burned, and most other materials, such as surplus or used fencing, nails, buckets, and etc, can be set aside, and stored for re-use.

In the SF TACFAC, most medical needs are, of course, going to taken care of by the ODA’s 18Ds, with the availability of an HLZ (Helicopter Landing Zone) for transport of casualties via CASEVAC helicopters, as a back-up. Of course, most of us aren’t Deltas, and even fewer of us have military CASEVAC birds on call.

For most preppers, even in rural retreat facilities, the primary medical resource for emergencies is still medical insurance and the Emergency Department (ED) of the closest hospital, with lesser medical issues taken care of by a Primary Care Provider (PCP)/Family Physician, and home care out of a first-aid kit, by Ma or Pa. The problem from a preparedness perspective, of course, is that, post-grid, that ED is not going to be much of an option, and the PCP may not even be available. Instead, we will be relying on our own medical training—or the medical training of others in the community. This could range from the ideal of an experienced MD, or a former 18D or USAF PJ (to be clear, nobody in our clan-of-choice is any of these, more’s the pity…so, if you’re an 18D and are reading this, and looking for a community…) to a RN, paramedic, EMT, former combat medic, or the local midwife, or someone like me who was nothing but a knuckle-dragging gunslinger, with an interest in trauma medicine, and took advantage of the Deltas, to keep boned up on Combat Lifesaver and TC3 skills.

In our extended group of folks, we have a MD (pediatric), a chiropractor, several nurses, a few other advanced care providers of various sorts, and lots of country moms and grannies, with decades of experience doctoring farm injuries, in lieu of an expensive hospital visit. Of course, with children in the equation, if I said, “We don’t go to the ED or Doctor, because we don’t have health insurance, and that shit is expensive.” Fortunately, I don’t have to, because, as I noted above, we have a pediatric doctor in the extended clan…

With the loss to a heart defect of our first son, of course, any and all subsequent pregnancies have been “high risk,” so my wife has gone for prenatal care, but beyond that, for she and I, all of our medical care thus far, has been at home. Much of that has been possible, because of safety practices, that have prevented any occurrence of serious injury, of course. In a post-grid environment, where the ED and our PCP (which we do also have, although we pay cash for care, when necessary), may not be available, when injuries do occur, I’m afraid our pediatrician is going to be dramatically overworked, between taking care of most serious injuries, and having to pass on her expertise to apprentices. However, the use of good safety practices around the facility will alleviate that somewhat.

A number of studies I’ve read have pretty convincingly concluded that, at least in the short-term grid down experiences we’ve witnessed in this country, and in a number of longer, failed-state, grid-down scenarios in other countries, the single most common reasons for needing medical attention are a) lack of hygiene, leading to pathogen transfer creating disease vectors, and b) injuries from working with basic equipment that people are unfamiliar with, in the performance of tasks they are not educated in the performance of. This could range from a middle-class, suburban accountant suddenly forced to chop firewood with an axe or a chainsaw, causing massive injury to himself or bystanders with the tools, to people making common mistakes, even amongst experienced practitioners, like rolling a tractor or UTV over themselves. So, for the medical planning issues of the retreat facility, perhaps the single most important medical planning we can do is good hygiene practices (Thank you, germ-theory of disease transmission! Ha! Can’t take that knowledge away from us, can you Mr. Apocalypse!?), and the use of proper education and PPE around tool-centric tasks.

Administrative, as we discussed is a very broad area, of course, ranging from food production and preparation, to the stockpiling, storage, and disbursement of equipment and tools ranging from garden tools, construction tools and materials, PPE, and temporary shelter options for newcomers.

Finally, of course, although it’s the most important, as we discussed, is the security planning issue. In the current environment, our security planning is not vastly different from what it will be post-grid, although we have less people actually on the facility to participate in that aspect. During the initial occupation of the initial phase SF TACFAC, security is larger provided via the implementation of a 24 hour security plan, just as in a patrol base, and the use of short-duration security patrols in the immediate vicinity. As the TACFAC develops, of course, security planning progresses as well, with greater protective measures being put into place. “These measures include longer patrols, listening posts (LP), observation posts (OP), and additional wire around the facility perimeter. After basic security is established initial construction projects—such as inner and outer perimeter barriers—are built. Early projects may be hampered by the limited equipment and material assets carried by the SF unit.

Without giving too much away, the only “wire emplacements” we have on our farm are perimeter and interior fencing, that we use as the inner foundation for the development of hedges. We have a gate that we do keep closed, and the property is posted. More important is the very large protection dog that, at 200# and jet black in color, scares the living fuck out of even our own people when he comes barreling up to them in the dark. Ultimately though, the dog is a “speed bump,” in the security planning. All he’s got to do is alert me to something not being “right,” and then slow down the threat long enough for me to gun up and slip out the back door to maneuver around. More important than even the dog however, in the current environment, is simply having the reputation of a guy who knows what he is about, and will not tolerate misdeeds. That can’t be gained from talking about what a bad-ass you are, of course. It has to be developed by example.

While there are probably a half-dozen neighbors who have a rough idea of what my professional background is, most don’t. The ones that do didn’t hear it from me, but from family friends who knew about it before I even moved back to the area. Those neighbors that don’t know my background however, do know that we train weekly, and I train daily. The local ne’er-do-wells, in other words, have to make a risk-benefit analysis, and it just doesn’t pencil out for them.


So, there is a “brief” introduction to some of the SF doctrine relevant to retreat design theory, and some practical, contextually useful examples of that theory being put to use. In the next installment of this article series, which will be posted on the Patreon Page next week, we will discuss the actual planning and design process for SF TACFACs, and how that can be modified for our requirements.

Campfire Chat

Could you have some kind of service where we could pay you for advice? Specifically on fitness/combatives/existentialism/societal issues. I’ve messaged you over Facebook and I feel bad for taking up time that could be spent on helping those closer to you rather than some guy over the internet. It would be a great boon for us to bounce questions off of someone if we have no one else to go to.

My Patreon Page is now active: Mountain Guerrilla Blog
I’ll be honest, even though I already have two tiers listed, I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to work yet. My current plan is that I will continue to post the Campfire Chat and Library posts here each week. The feature article each week will be posted for Patreon subscribers. Once a month, I will pick one of the last month’s articles, and post it here as well.

Additionally, for the second tier of subscribers, my plan is to include an extra article, specific to training issues. I am also working on some smaller book(let) projects. Second tier subscribers will receive free ebook versions of those, when they are done, while first tier subscribers will be able to buy the ebook versions at a discounted price (that having been said, I don’t know when those will be done). Finally, my current plan, for second tier subscribers, is to include my weekly training log, for both shooting and PT, including the results of our weekly range sessions with my people. This should offer a pretty good reference for the kind of PT you should be considering, and give you a wealth of ideas on how to incorporate different drills into your own firearms training.

I would be more than happy to include an extra “Campfire Chat” type article, exclusively for subscribers at the first tier. Maybe we’ll call it “Around the Council Fire” or something…

If the Patreon thing is successful, it will actually force me to start treating this like an actual second job, instead of something I just do for shits-and-giggles, to help folks, in my spare time. The benefit of that, for readers, is it will allow me to actually write the longer, serialized articles, like the one I’m posting tonight, on Retreat Facility Development (the second installment, of course, will be posted to Patreon next week).

Like I said though, I don’t know how it will turn out. I am still doing the twice-a-month subscription drills, and I really haven’t sold enough of those to make it still worth my while. Fortunately for the subscribers though, I committed to continuing it. With Patreon though, since you pay as you go, monthly, if it doesn’t pay enough to make it worth continuing, with the extra work, I’ll just go back to doing the blog here.

And, to be clear, I don’t know “how much” would “make it worth the extra effort.” I just assume I’ll know when my wife starts bitching at me about taking family time away, for inadequate return. She’s a Permie too….”Obtain a Yield.” In fact, she may be more anal about that particular principle than I am. I’m still at the stage where I’m willing to risk new stuff, and roll with the punches if it fails. She gets really heated if we “waste” money or energy trying one of my hare-brained ideas, and it flops.

Regardless of whether you subscribe or not though, thanks for reading the blog all these years.


No doubt that its not just permies and lefties that have the “good savage” delusions. Certainly neocons (in other words neolibs that prefer foreign welfare to domestic welfare) seem to suffer from a similar delusion that all people need is democracy hoisted on them in order to have good societies–as though people are all essentially good and only put upon by the tyranny of a few bad actors. When it seems that societies tend to get the governments that they deserve, and building that social base can’t be done with bombs. This is also why I am skeptical about the long term chances of the US, the social base is severely degraded and continuously so.


Concur. The cognitive dissonance that goes on in the heads of both sides of the voting spectrum in this country must be absolutely numbing.

Of course the flip side is the strict Hobbesian, which is no good because it invites authoritarians, utopians, and social engineers of all stripes to “save” people from themselves. Luckily the US managed to get as its original revolutionaries, men who had a more nuanced and tragic view of life that recognized that the average person tend to be fucked regardless if they are in “nature” or in states. So they designed a system that tended towards doing the doing the bare functional minimum to hopefully provide enough government to avoid the nastiness of primitive violence and promote peaceful trade but to limit the tendency of government to metastasize and concentrate power. Of course, society has greatly strayed from the 18th century, reflected in the straying from the original vision and constitution.

Either way, it seems historically that humans have had deep capacity to visit each other with extreme acts of violence, but people are so removed from it that it is easy to have naive delusions. Perhaps in addition to that is that people confuse harmlessness for being good, and it just so happens that the ease of life in modern industrialized countries makes for a lot of weak, harmless people.


1) This was posted under the screen name “Harmon Wolf,” which I have to say I greatly appreciated! (If you don’t get the reference, go read The Warwolf, that I recommended a couple years ago. You won’t be disappointed.)

2) I discussed this with a friend a few years ago. I think the Hyperborea myths of the ancient Greeks is a reflection of the understanding of this. My contention—which I have to admit the friend in question thought was ludicrous—was that the Hyperborea myth is a cultural memory of pre-civilized Greece, in the collective mindset of the ancient Greeks. The myths of course, reflect on it as a time of enduring peace and prosperity. Even though archaeology tells us that was nonsense, from a tribal perspective, it really wasn’t. Within the tribe, there really was, for the most part, enduring peace. That’s what allowed the tribes to stay together and grow strong enough to expand into what became the founding generations of the different city-states. Sure, they fought, but they really only clashed with those outside the tribe, which means they weren’t really “at war,” because you don’t go to war except with other people. You don’t go to war with the deer you hunt in autumn. You don’t go to war with the raccoon that is stealing your feed corn. I mean, I realize, in the modern vernacular that compares a fucking sports-ball game as “going to war,” people might think they’re at war with the raccoon, but, really? It’s not like the coon is shooting back, is he? He’s not maneuvering against you while his buddy lays down a base-of-fire. And, if you accept the anthropological norm, that the tribe is “People,” and everybody else is “Not People,” then it really was a peaceful time among the people….

Understanding that difference is, I believe, critical to understanding how to deal with the cyberpunk dystopian world we’re experiencing (to borrow a phrase I stole from my buddy, Seth Anderson….and consider that a recommendation to go to Amazon and check out his novels. They’re good! And while he’s a buddy, I don’t like him well enough to recommend his books if they sucked).


Wesley Powell told the PTB’s back in his day that the way to save water going down river wasn’t to build one or two huge damns but rather to build lots of smaller ones as far up stream as possible. Because nobody listened, the Colorado is the most fucked up river on the planet. As to your grounding problem…..use pure copper grounding rods, set them (yeah at least two) away from the house and set lighting rods to them and well as the copper grounding cable from the house, bury that minimum 2 feet deep. the cables from the Ltng rods can actually be strung in the air if you like.

Powell was a smart dude, way ahead of his time in understanding the environmental impacts of fucking with the Colorado River. He was also the dude that tried to convince Congress to break the West into states based on watersheds, rather than the arbitrary-as-fuck boundaries they did develop. It would have made a lot more sense, and probably would have gone a long way to preventing a lot of the problems that arose in the settlement era, that are still being dealt with today.


I can absolutely back of the recommendations of Speed, Power, Endurance by Brian McKenzie and Unbreakable Runner by TJ Murphy and Brian McKenzie. For anyone reading this, back in October I messaged Mr. Mosby over Facebook asking for advice on running programming. By following the 5k plan outlined in Unbreakable Runner, I went from a 20:30 3 mile time to hitting 18:00 for 3 miles in about 3 months.

Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade is also a great read, though you can skip up to the level he calls solitary confinement right off the back. No need to stick to one movement a day. For general weight training, I actually prefer Greyskull LP over Starting Strength, as SS just wore me out too quickly by squatting heavy 3 days a week, not to mention that I had to go up sizes of jeans far too often in order to get my legs into them, while never filling out medium sized t-shirts. T-rex mode is a real thing.

Dude, that’s awesome! Now, go do the 10K program!

I’ve recommended Convict Conditioning in the past, and concur, if a dude isn’t interested in ponying up the money for building a home gym, it’s a good introduction to strength training via calisthenics, instead of just building endurance. I am working on a project that actually combines the exercise progressions from CC with Crossfit-type conditioning WODs. I’m hoping it works on my lab rats as well as I suspect it will.


Down in the south, building the floor off grade with a crawl space underneath helped keep the home cool.

True. Although, something I’ve discovered, since our house is built on piers, that I am slowly filling in between with laid mortar-and-stone (and, for the record, if you plan on putting stone work all the way around the crawlspace of the house….do it right, and build it before you build the house. Doing it the way I am, because I was in a hurry to get the house up and dried-in, is a major pain-in-the-ass), is that, while you’d think it would help cool the house, to have the crawlspace open for breezes to blow through, it doesn’t. It works much, much better, with the crawlspace closed in. I suspect this is because it allows the cooler earth to actually cool the air in the crawl space, which radiates into the floor level. As it is, in the heat, all the cooler air just rises out from under the house, along the edges. Of course, in the winter, it sucks too, because even the slightest breeze sucks away the warmth of the Earth underneath, and replaces it with frozen air beneath your feet.



For everyone to read every so often to make real corrections in their training plans

Keep up the good work.

HHAHAHAHAHA! Awesome! I should’ve posted a link to that a long time ago. Thanks!


About the big dog . Get a Pyrenees . Eat less than any Dobie , Shepherd , or Rott I’ve ever had and I’ve had around 10 of each . Might have to put them up to discipline the kids though . They get real attached to kids and women .

We had a Pyrennes when I was a kid, and my mother has one now, guarding her goat herd. Everything said about them is true. But….my Mastiff has the same protective instinct about my kids. When my oldest was a few years younger, and the dog was still an 80# puppy, I went to swat the kid’s ass. She started screaming, before I even smacked her butt, and that dog cleared the 50’ length of the house in less than three seconds. If my wife hadn’t been standing there, and tackled him when he went blowing by her, I have no doubt that he would have taken a big chunk out of me, even.

Last year, we got done with our weekly training session, and I had a meeting to get to, so I told our guys to go ahead and finish with what they wanted to do, and please put my gear back in the house when they were done, before they left. I neglected to tie the dog up.

I got a phone call about thirty minutes later, informing me that all of my stuff was in one of our guys’ truck, because the dog refused to let anyone near the front door. Now, these are people that are at my house at least weekly. Every one of them has been in my house, and petted that dog while they were in the house. They said though, if they’d have tried, they’d have had to shoot the dog, and they didn’t figure I would let that go without shooting them, so they just hung on to the gear.


(and for anyone who thinks marathoners aren’t running fast, consider this: my cousin runs a sub-2 hour marathon. That’s 13+ miles in less than one hour. At 13 miles per hour, she’d be running a 4 ½ minute mile….)”

That’s an error, she’d be the fastest man in the world.

That’s because I’m a dumbass, that apparently doesn’t know shit about marathons….

So, when I read this, I immediately called my cousin, and asked her about it. After she laughed her ass off at me for about five minutes, and called me a dumbshit a half-dozen times, she corrected the facts for me. “I’ve run three sub-THREE hour marathons, but I’m normally a 3:10-3:30 finisher.”

So, I stand corrected. However, it really doesn’t change my original point (although it does admittedly change the impressiveness of it….) A 3:00 marathon is still a 6.8 minute mile average….and a seven-minute mile is neither slow nor unimpressive, especially for a female runner in her mid-30s….


Do you think it’s a fool’s errand for younger man to pursue occupations/experiences in SF fields and the like these days in the face of all this information? Occupations that to a varying degree prevent building of a tribe and development of your own self-sufficiency?

I fully understand that being selected is being brought into another brotherhood etc.

I wouldn’t say it us a fool’s errand. I learned a lot of valuable things in the SOF world, and experienced a number of things of value.

On the other hand, I was discussing this with a fellow SF veteran, turned preparedness teacher, recently, and he and I had reached the same conclusion: We wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, but we also wouldn’t recommend a young person today enlist.

I had a kid a couple years ago that I was asked to mentor, by a family friend. He was trying to get a SOF contract, and wanted help prepping for it, especially with the physical side of things. I spent the better part of a year prepping him, but I also spent the same amount of time trying to convince him that he didn’t need to go in the military to get what he was looking for. He didn’t go the SOF route after all, but he did enlist, and has been doing exemplary since. Hopefully, he’ll find what he was looking for, and survive the experience.

My policy today is, if a young person comes to me, asking about enlisting, especially in combat arms, I will try to convince them not to enlist, but if they insist they are going to, I will do everything in my means to help them prepare to be the best they can be when they show up at Reception.

From the Library

Grandpappy’s Recipes for Hard Times by Robert Wayne Atkins

One of the realities I knew as a kid, eating some pretty bizarre mountain dishes, that was really made to hit home to me during various survival exercises as an adult, is that as much as we might like to think we’ve prepared for everything, in real survival situations, whether we’re simply lost in the boonies, evading hostile forces, or in a post-grid scenario, is we may often find ourselves eating things considerably far outside of our comfort zone.

This may range from foraged wild edibles to small furbearers to rodents and insects (while I know technically squirrels are rodents, anybody from the rural South, of a certain age, can tell you they are also a delicacy. I’ve eaten rats and I’ve eaten mice, and neither is anything like eating squirrel, I can assure you!).

Additionally, one of the concepts inherent to Permaculture, or at least my understanding of it, is the willingness and ability to utilize all available renewable resources to increase the resilience of your designs and work. When we approach Permaculture for Preparedness, of course, that becomes even more of an issue, since we can’t expect, post-grid, to just run down to the meat counter at the local grocer.

We raise rabbits, chickens, and hogs, and will be adding at least a few cattle within the next year or so (I’m hoping to be able to procure a couple of bred Highland cows next spring, as well as a steer or two to raise for beef the first year). Nevertheless, we also harvest deer off the farm, and while I haven’t convinced the wife to eat raccoon or possum yet, I have every intention of sneaking at least the raccoon into a pot of chili or stew this winter.

For those with less experience using foraged foods, in addition to a plethora of typical storage food recipes, this handy little book includes a number of ways to incorporate not just unusual protein sources, but also a number of common, widespread wild edible plants found in the US. In the past, my use of wild edible plants has been limited to either eating them as I found them, or mixing them together like a salad. This book offers a variety of other methods, ranging from cooking them like turnip greens to incorporating them into stews.

Our home library has probably 50-60 cookbooks on the shelves. These range from the typical ones you would expect to see on your mother or grandmother’s counter (my wife also has my late grandmother’s cardbox of recipes as well. She was horribly disappointed to discover how many of my grandmother’s recipes relied on processed, boxed bases….), to ethnic food cookbooks, Paleo specific cookbooks, and a pretty diverse collection of antique cookbooks I had collected before my wife and I met, that range from reprints of cookbooks from the 1700s to originals published and printed in the early and mid-1800s. I am very satisfied with the addition of this one to the collection.


Campfire Chat

I am behind on emails. I know a lot of people have sent emails, and I apologize for not responding to them sooner. I am working my way through them as quickly as possible, under the circumstances. Have patience, please.


On Permaculture

Living in the extremely arid southwest desert I can only dream if such a land….

.Research “Greening the desert” by Geoff Lawton. He did this in the DESERT in Jordan. It can be done.

There are a number of videos and reports about permaculture designs put in place, successfully in the Middle East and in Northern Africa. There are also a number of them in place in various parts of arid North America. One of the things that people in the SW USA forget is that places like Mesa Verde, and the other pueblos of old, existed there because there was adequate vegetation, due to adequate water.

The water catchment and retention methods espoused by permaculture, for use in arid climates, can actually be extremely useful in returning parts of those areas to a sustainable habitat for humans. This can range from planting hardier species of foodstuffs, that can withstand lengthy drought periods, to soil moisture retention methods, including planting of ground covers that will help absorb more water during intermittent rainfalls, helping to maintain adequate soil moisture levels for growth between rains as well.

If I lived in the SW, I’d damned sure be looking at permaculture strategies and dryland tactics, as my first-choice of sustainable food production. That’s actually a pretty significant factor that drove me to looking into permaculture in the first place, when I was living in the arid deserts of Wyoming and Idaho, actually.

I’ve been haunting the permaculture a/natural/holistic websites for years and can’t help but notice how gubmint intervention is pushing many to the side of liberty . Can’t buy or sell raw milk . Can’t butcher a chicken and sell it without FDA approval etc .

Not only do I think this is absolutely true, I also believe it is basically unavoidable. I discussed this trend a little bit in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume Two, and even more in Forging the Hero, when I discussed the urge amongst many people to return to a more tribal social structure, even if they didn’t overtly recognize it for what it is.

On the other hand, it would also be dishonest to notice that a lot of permies seem to believe that increasing government interference should be the tool to drive people towards permaculture. I absolutely believe that permaculture makes far more sense, both on the large scale, and on the small community and family scale, than “traditional” industrial agriculture. Whether they’re coming to it strictly for more resilient food production, because of concerns about food safety issues within industrial agricultural, or because they are concerned about environmental impacts of petrochemical and GMO uses in industrial agriculture is largely irrelevant. I also believe however, that people are coming to it rather holistically, rather than being forced to it, and I believe allowing this to happen will do far more for resolving all of those issues, rather than trying to force people to do so. It will also help prevent the “industrialization” of permaculture, wherein people will ignore, or bypass some of the principles, in order to get a larger market share.

Not knowing exactly where you are, I will ask, didn’t the Apache have their own permaculture system of food production? Didn’t sound like anything I’d want to eat, but…Also, although far from ideal, you can store decades of grain for far less than the cost of some mountain land.

I’m sure the Apaches, of all the different bands, had some variation of sustainable food production that could be considered “permaculture.” I’m not an expert on the Apache, by any stretch of the imagination, but it makes sense to me that they did.

Yes, you can store decades of grain for less than the cost of some mountain land….but…I probably have decades of natural life left. My kids have the better part of a century of natural life left. Their children will push well into the next century, based on natural life expectancy, even if the natural life expectancy takes a noise dive of a decade or two. I can’t store THAT much grain, and “man cannot live on bread alone.” (Yeah, I know, that’s not what that quip is referring to, but it works anyway). So, the ability to not only store grain for years or decades or even centuries, combined with the ability to raise sustainable other foods, ranging from vegetables to fruits and nuts, to various types of meat sources, seems a far more viable option to me. That’s without even considering the paleontological and archaeological records showing how detrimental grain products are to human health in the long term.

Further, I think people get wrapped around the axle about the “mountain living” aspect of things, and ignore the parts of the discussion about initiating these practices wherever they currently live. Guerrilla Gardening, especially permaculture style, doesn’t require a large plot of mountainside. It can—literally—be done in an ignored corner of a deserted urban lot. It can be done in an overgrown, untended part of a city park. Hell, it can be done in the front yard of the abandoned house down the street. I’ve actually SEEN this done, in all of these areas, in recent years, personally. What it takes is a) the willingness to “do the work,” and b) the imagination to to see the options available.

Even if a family has to abandon their house and neighborhood, for whatever reason: flooding, the city burning down, terrorism or gang conflict, lack of ability to make their mortgage payment or rent, etc, this still serves a couple of purposes, chief among them, giving you practice in a valuable skill and knowledge base that cannot be taken away from you. Hell, the seed saving alone, is valuable. My wife has spent quite a bit of money over the last decade, on heirloom seeds. This year, she finally managed to start saving seeds. We now have more seeds from some plants, than she had seeds in total, before.

People always talk about barter and how barter is going to be important in the future. Want a barter product that lasts? Heirloom seeds are lightweight, the very definition of portable, and when you garden properly, regenerating. It’s literally, a product that reproduces itself with only minimal effort from you.

I suspect permies suffer from the Rousseauian delusion that a lot of soft-hearted people tend to have, that people are naturally good and only corrupted by civilization. The same foolishness that thinks primitive people don’t engage in war, murder, and torture.

Oh, undoubtedly. It’s not strictly a permie, or even a Lefty, thing though. I talk to die-hard NeoCons and PaleoConservatives all the time that suffer from the same delusions. I also see it as more a problem of modern civilization than a political leaning. Most of the middle-class suburbanites I know believe “nobody would ever do that!” even as they watch it occur on the news. I’m not sure whether it is simple cognitive dissonance on their part, or whether it has to do with denial about their own nature. “Oh, those terrorists cutting people’s heads off, and drowning people as public spectacles” are just “evil!” “Americans would never do that!” even though Americans have done that—or similar—in the not too distant past.

It’s easy to dismiss things like “strange fruit,” and Sand Creek, and My Lai, and the host of other “atrocities” that Americans have committed in the not-so-distant past, as “aberrations,” and dismiss them, because “we don’t do that stuff anymore,” but the reality is, none of that was all too far in the past. There are people alive today, who witnessed—and participated in—these, because they perceived threats to their way of life. People talk about how we’re only a few missed meals from savagery, they’re doing the same thing—it doesn’t take even a single missed meal to drive people to savagery. All it takes is pissing them off bad enough, or scaring them bad enough.


Sustainable Building Practices

What do you do for humidity? I too live in the southern highlands, and in my house I have a big problem with mildew caused by humidity. My construction method is split faced concrete block filled with foam, and that may be part of the problem.

Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation. One fix is, of course, lots of windows and doors that can be opened to allow for cross-breezes to push air around. Of course, most modern buildings—especially in the South—are built with the intrinsic expectation that they will be air conditioned. As such, even if they have lots of windows and doors, too often, either the windows are not designed to ever be opened, or if they are, they aren’t actually designed to created convection currents that will carry heat up and out (warm air is more humid than cool air, and humid air is warmer than drier air…warm air rises).

I actually fucked this part up, when I built our house. I was so used to being in the Northern Rockies that I was more concerned about blocking any north winds in winter, for heat retention, than I was about ensuring adequate ventilation for cooling in summer. There are zero external doors on the north wall of my house, and only two little windows above the kitchen sink. The only windows on the East and West walls are upstairs, in the gable ends, because we built with the plan of adding on to those walls, from the beginning. So, while we get pretty good ventilation, by opening the south windows (which, admittedly, I did right, by putting two foot eaves all the way around the house. Those windows are in shade, throughout the summer) on the ground floor, and the upstairs gable end windows, I have already decided to rip out one section of the north wall, and put in both a door and a window there. Hopefully, this will be happening in the next month or so. That will make a huge difference.

Another option, obviously, is the use of roof/attic fans for ventilation. There are two basic options there. On the one hand, the so-called “solar” vents, that use the rising hot air inside itself to start pushing a small circular fan, which in turn draws even more hot air up and out through itself, are the simplest, and most robust.

A somewhat more effective tool, if not quite as robust, is the use of solar-powered ventilation fans. I was actually given a couple of these by a buddy who works for a local roofing company, when the job they were bought for ended up not wanting them. These have a small solar panel, along with a small battery and motor in them, that drives the fan, even before the interior air gets too hot. I haven’t installed these yet, and I may end up foregoing them, in favor of the previous option, depending on how successful the option of installing an extra door and window turns out to be.

Finally, addressing a specific topic in your question, yes, I suspect the concrete block walls and foam are a significant factor in the humidity and mold levels in your house. One of the things I learned, in my studies leading up to building the house is that the modern approach of building what is basically an impermeable membrane around the periphery of a house, and then punching holes in it for ventilation—besides being as assinine as it sounds—is inadequate to allow adequate ventilation, especially in naturally humid climates. A far better option—and the one I elected to follow—is the historical norm of building with materials that keep water (rain) out, while simultaneously allowing water vapor/humidity to pass through the walls.

Our walls are covered in traditional lime plaster, made from hydrated lime, sand, and a fiber of some sort—traditionally horse hair, grass fibers in horse manure, or straw. There is no cement in the mix, and this traditional mix offers a number of advantages.

Number one, I can—at least in theory—produce lime locally, simply by superheating limestone (which we have in abundance, up to having a limestone quarry only a few miles from the house). So, that’s easy to acquire, in a post-industrial world, for maintenance. This is important, because, while it has more longevity than cement-based plasters, in the long-term, in the short-term, pure lime plasters do require more maintenance.

Number two is, having looked into the renovation efforts made on traditional buildings in Europe, following World War Two, I discovered that a lot of the traditional plastered buildings were “repaired” with cement-based plasters. This was unfortunate because, within 70 years, buildings that had been in constant use for centuries (like 6+ centuries), were quickly becoming unusable, because of interior rot in the walls and the posts and beams. Portland cement, it turns out, doesn’t breath, worth a shit. So, any moisture that managed to creep into the walls, couldn’t escape again. When it recondensed, inside the walls, into moisture, instead of water vapor, rot and mildew quickly set in. In buildings like mine however, with clay-slip straw (called lechtlaum in German, or “light loam”) infill in the walls, and breathable lime plaster for the cladding, even if a crack develops all the way through the plaster, and the straw actually gets wet, it can dry right back out, because of the permeability of the wall structures.

In a nutshell, it’s the difference between wearing a rubberized rain suit over your insulating layers, versus wearing a Gore-Tex shell over your insulating layers, in a static hide site. With the rubberized suit, you’re going to far colder in cold weather, and far hotter in warm weather, than in the Gore-Tex, just because the humidity from your body can escape in the Gore-Tex.

Concrete blocks, of course, have a pretty high level of Portland cement in their composition. Combined with the synthetic foam in between, you have basically three layers of rubber rain coat around the “body” of the building. Even in most modern “stick framed” houses, you end up with a vapor barrier surrounding the entire outside of the house (and often, another on the inside, covering the fiberglass insulation as well), that is pierced at various places with “ventilation” holes. This is the equivalent of putting on the rubber rain suit, and expecting the neck hole and the bottom of the jacket, along with spaces between buttons—and maybe ventilation slits under the armpits—to be adequate to allow the humidity to escape. It MIGHT work, okay, if it’s not too warm and wet, and if you’re not doing anything physical that increases the humidity inside, but as soon as you start putting people inside the house doing stuff (moving around inside your rubber rainsuit), or if you’re just dealing with high temperatures and high humidity levels (we’re dealing with 100F heat indexes today, with humidity levels about 60%), it gets really miserable, really quick. Unlike the rubber rainsuit analogy however, you can’t just change the house’s clothes to dry out…

John, about working on that 8 pitch roof. Get some foam cushion out of an old chair or couch and tie some 12” square chunks to your boots, like ice crampons. You’ll be able to spiderman your ass up there. A third piece to use for your leg/ass when you sit down is nice to have, too….

…Definitely agree with you about antifa. Came to tell you that a couple thick pieces of rubber foam, the kind you get out of an old couch cushion on the side of the road, can help you climb a pretty steep roof [satellite installing and roofing]. You move from one piece to the other and keep moving the other. I don’t know about an 8/12 roof. That’s pretty damn steep, you either get a hellacious snow load or you’re paranoid. Maybe that’s just my Texas showing. Good luck, be safe.
P.s. I’m assuming a shingle roof; if tin, I got nothing.

I’m not sure, at all, how this would work on a sheet metal roof? It seems like foam rubber would send me skiing off the roof, in a hurry.

As far as why the Hell I decided on an eight pitch roof….it was a compromise. Aesthetically, I wanted a 12-pitch, but being on top of the mountain, that would have been a sail. Typically, in our area, folks build with a 3-pitch, occasionally with a 5-pitch. My house would look “wrong” with a low-pitched roof, aesthetically, and it would have limited head space upstairs. In hindsight, from the head space angle, I could have gotten away with a 6-pitch, but it would have reduced available space upstairs, and it would have just looked “wrong” when looking at the house from the outside.

We are in a rather different technological paradigm than the Romans and Gauls. Back then numbers really did matter in every way, these days numbers have less to do with the firepower you can bring to bear.

Question about your solar setup: is your inverter coming off the load outlay from the charge controller, or off the batteries?

Off the batteries, with #4 heavy gauge wire. In hindsight, I could have gone with a smaller gauge of wire, even if I put the panel array another twenty feet from the inverter, than I did, but…well, hindsight is 20/20.



Side note, monoculture societies have their vulnerabilities, but they also field more soldiers. This is the great downfall of tribal societies. We talk about going barbarian and collapsing early, but it didn’t work out so well for the Gauls when the Romans came to town. I say this in service to the above article in the Dunning-Kruger effect….

…We are in a rather different technological paradigm than the Romans and Gauls. Back then numbers really did matter in every way, these days numbers have less to do with the firepower you can bring to bear.

I’d say yes and no. Larger civilizations are still likely to have more complex and better weapon systems. The small arms are going to be equal, but a more organized society can field artillery and airpower, not to mention all the ECM, etc. How much that would matter, your mileage may vary….



…I don’t disagree with John in the slightest, just pointing out that there’s a reason the “barbarian” societies got eclipsed by monoculture societies. Everything exists with trade-offs is more the point I’m trying to make.

All of these are valid observations. Archaeologists point out that the rise of monocrop agriculture, with it’s ability to grow large quantities of easy-to-store grains, is what led to the development of cities, civilizations, and mass armies. This also results in a greater ability, within the civilization, for specialization, leading to the development of superior weapons, larger formations of trained troops, and the ability to move larger formations of those trained troops, further distances, because of the ability to transport stored foodstuffs.

On the other hand, the Romans/Gauls, is not an entirely valid comparison, because, despite what they were called by the Romans, the Gauls, were actually a “civilization” by that point, with relatively large, settled cities and towns, and a pretty specialized, divided society. A better example would be the Romans and Germanii, wherein, witness Teutoburgwald.

On the other hand, as we all know, Arminius ended up assassinated by an agent in the pay of the Empire, despite the victory at Teutoburgwald, and the Romans did make a couple more punitive expeditions across the Rhine, despite the fact that they never conquered Germania.

A better example, in my mind, would be “I’ve been Afghan for a hundred years. I’ve been Muslim for 1200 years. I’ve been Pashtun for 6000 years.” Or, to put it in a more palatable example, look at the Scots and the Irish, or the Basques. They’ve all been invaded, and they’ve all been “conquered” by flatlander outsiders, but through it all, they’ve all managed to maintain a relatively insular cultural identity, and there are still independence and autonomy movements in all of those cultures (and this, despite the Highland Clearances, in the case of the Scottish, which removed them from their ancestral homelands. Ever been to a Highland Games? Hell, to hear those people talk, they’ve been consistently kicking the shit out of the Crown ever since).

It’s the root philosophy of insurgency, that I’ve expressed multiple times here on the blog, as well as in both of the Reluctant Partisan books, and in Forging the Hero: you don’t have to win. You don’t even have to not lose. You just have to convince people that you’ll still be around after the invaders leave.

Hell, you can see the same thing with the Seminoles that managed to hide out in the Everglades, and even the Cherokees that managed to hide out during the Removal.

The catch of course, is that you have to be in a physical environment that counters the advantages the civilized armies have. Even today, we see that extreme mountain environments can make moving large formations of troops difficult, even with air superiority, and resupply of those troops, regardless of how much foodstuffs you have stockpiled, is just as difficult. Supply chains, even with helicopters, are long, and are always susceptible to attack themselves. You don’t even have to defeat the combat arms elements of the enemy. Planned and played out correctly, you can defeat them by ambushing and killing their resupply people.

You might “lose” the battles, and YOU might even die. On the other hand, newsflash: you’re going to die someday anyway. What matters, as I pointed out in Forging the Hero, is that your values survive.

My wife lost the ability to rack the slide on her M&P so she got a Ruger 5 shot revolver with a one piece “moon clip”. Great little piece with a very good trigger. Fits a lady’s had well.

That’s definitely a reason to consider switching to a wheel-gun. I am curious though, what “fits a lady’s hand well” means exactly? I know ladies with hands as large as mine, and I know men with hands smaller and daintier than my wife. Hell, I know grown men with hands daintier than my daughter’s.



I was offered one of the most brillliantly,true responses ever, when a guy said to me he didn’t understand everything he knew about a subject-ponder that.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this, in classes. I know I say it at our weekly range days all the time, as well as any time I’m talking about building, permaculture, and more.

Question about your mastiff: how much food does a 200# dog eat?

As much as he wants!

Seriously though, I’m not even sure. Our four-year old has the chore of feeding the dog and the house cats (and don’t even get me started on how the Hell that I, of all people, ended up with house cats….), while her big sister feeds the chickens and rabbits (dad is responsible for the hogs. The kids aren’t allowed anywhere near the hogs without Mom or Dad there, and Mom and Dad don’t go near the hogs without a gun on).

All I know is, when I’m told to buy dog food, I buy good, no-grain dog food (we pay around $45/bag for 50# bags of dog food).

If you stopped trying to impress people with your gutter language tough guy persona everything would be easier and you might even be taken as a non poser.

Do you talk to your mom and kids like that?

Yaaaawwwwwnnnn. Okay.

And, yes, for the record, I do speak like that around my mother and my children. I speak like that around my mother, because my mother is an adult, and has heard those words before—and even used them. I speak like that around my children, because they will someday be adults, and will hear those words, and—judging by my eight year old, who manages to do so in the correct context every single time—even use them.

If it offends you, go elsewhere. I didn’t ask you to come read this. I’m sure as fuck not asking you to stay.

Thank you for responding to my question regarding winter patrols in your latest campfire chat.  I am amazed at your productivity given the burdens of a homestead (which I fully share and understand) as well as taking care of your Mom.  I am praying for blessings on you and your family.

You mentioned wool underwear, shirts, and sweaters – have you found a good brand?  I had been going with polyester (the ECWCS Gen 3 ‘silk weight’ stuff) because it is easier to launder – it’s a loooong way to the dry cleaners.  How do you care for your wool stuff?

I honestly couldn’t tell you what brand I’ve been using. I’ve gone through a few, with no real complaints about any of them. Typically, when I’m looking at wool long underwear, I just make sure the label says it is at least 80% (and preferably 100%) wool, and machine-washable.

I have a number of wool sweaters, many of them located in second hand stores, like Goodwill and Deseret Industries, that I just machine wash, and hang dry. I have a couple also that I’ve received as gifts or in trade, that require dry-cleaning. One of them, a beautiful cable knit from the Aran Islands, that I purchased at an Irish store in Seattle, I negligently tossed in the washing machine. It survived just fine. It didn’t survive as well, the second time, when it was washed with hot water. It shrunk significantly, but fortunately, I was able to stretch it back out, manually, and so it is still in use. The others, I generally just don’t clean. I will wear them for a winter, then shake them and beat them out, then put them in a storage chest with cedar shavings. Invariably, they come out the next autumn, smelling fresh and clean (I would NOT recommend this with wool shirts or wool long underwear! The difference is, the sweaters are not actually up against my skin).

For wool shirts, I stick with Pendleton brand, 100% wool flannel.

I’m not the book writing John, I’m the book reading John. I did write a History Thesis.
I’m a veteran. No I don’t have a Common access card. I don’t carry my DD-214 It is I’m my ex-wifes safe deposit box, I started with polished black boots , steel helmets, Chow balls ( not D-Facs) and we were told to not iron our BDU’s. Correction off paper was extremely effective.
I enjoy your work. We probably were in the same town or even the same Group but I’m guessing in 10-15 years older than you. You do good works. Keep it up
Not the book writing John

Thanks! I don’t carry a CAC card, and I don’t walk around with my DD214 either. In fact, most of the jobs I’ve had since I left the service, never knew what I did in the military, if they even knew I was ever in the military. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

I will say though, while I started with spitshined jungle boots and BDUs, we also had K-Pots, chow halls, and starched and pressed BDUs! “Correction off paper” was still very effective, whether it was a simple smoke session, or a wall-to-wall counseling session.


Speaking of “Obtain a Yield,” (See the Permaculture article today), I’m still considering doing the Patreon thing, since I’m still getting emails suggesting it (and a couple have basically demanded that I allow them to give me their money…).

Other than Patreoning the whole blog, or the feature article every week, is there any other service you, as the reader, would like to see MG Blog provide, and would be willing to pay a nominal fee monthly for?

From the Library

Speed, Power, Endurance by Brian McKenzie

Crossfit, almost two decades after its founding, is still a subject of contention, amongst both athletes and non-athletes alike. In the defense of the nay-sayers, many of the original Crossfit folks can be obnoxiously polarizing people. In defense of the Crossfit supporters, however, personality conflicts don’t negate the value of the system.

One of the key principles behind Crossfit that is often overlooked, is that it was not intended to be a sport-specific conditioning program. Nobody ever claimed that a Crossfit athlete was going to be able to go out and WIN a powerlifting competition, or an ultra-marathon, without tailoring their training to sport-specific demands, before doing so. The idea was, you’d be able to lift heavy shit, like a powerlifter, and run fast, for long distances, like an ultra-marathoner (and for anyone who thinks marathoners aren’t running fast, consider this: my cousin runs a sub-2 hour marathon. That’s 13+ miles in less than one hour. At 13 miles per hour, she’d be running a 4 ½ minute mile….). It was never about, “Hey, do Crossfit, and you’ll be able to squat more than Fred Hatfield!” It was never about, “Hey, do Crossfit, and you’ll be able to run like a Kenyan!”

Crossfit found a huge following in the military, especially among SOF folks, specifically because of its generalist approach to fitness. Dudes got big and strong, so they can could carry the gear they needed to carry, and scale walls and caving ladders when they needed to. Dudes got fast and increased their stamina, so they could stay in the fight, even when scaling mountains, chasing down locals who grew up in the mountains.

There were some shortcomings to Crossfit, mostly in the coaching development area. The idea that you can go do a weekend certification course, and suddenly be ready to run your own box, and teach what are relatively complicated weightlifting and exercise skills, let alone program effective training sessions, is kind of silly, even to most Crossfit folks. This led to a number of very publicized injuries that gave Crossfit a pretty good black eye.

One of the potential shortcomings of Crossfit however, was that it’s General Physical Preparation (GPP) focus, was not always understood—let alone expressed adequately—by these weekend coaches. This led to the development of more specific areas of Crossfit, such as Crossfit Football (CFFB, now defunct) and Crossfit Strength-Bias (CFSB) for athletes that needed more of a focus on strength attributes, and Crossfit Endurance (CFE) by the author of this book, Brian McKenzie, for endurance sport athletes.

There have been a lot of claims, both for and against Brian’s program and its success, or lack thereof.

Here’s the catch: I’m not a triathlete. I’m not going to try and ride the Tour De France. I’m not going to swim the English Channel (Hell, given my druthers, I’m not going to swim across the pond on my farm!). I’m not going to run a marathon (I’m not even going to run another half-marathon, if I have my way about it). I’m damned sure not running an ultramarathon.

What I am interested in being able to do however, is maintain and continue to improve my strength, while also maintaining and improving my ability to run 5-6 miles, and hump a ruck a significant distance, if I need to do that. I also need to be able to do this, while still dealing with the increasingly busy and crowded schedule I have, between running a farm, running a business, writing blog articles and books, raising kids, taking care of my family and clan, and still doing other training. I don’t have time to go run 100+ miles per week, let alone a 20 miler once a week. The methods of CFE seem to work well enough to allow me to achieve my goals, without compromising my ability to take care of all the other tasks on my plate.

This book was McKenzie’s attempt to codify the basic methodologies of CFE, and it’s one of the better CF-related books I’ve found. In addition to pretty solid technical coaching of techniques, it includes a thorough grounding in the philosophies and theories behind the methodology. Finally, the programming included, from the six-week introductory program that focuses on bodyweight calisthenics and short intervals (which, honestly, could be a moderately long-term fitness program by itself, if repeated three or four cycles in a row), to the 12-week program, that is explicitly designed to be repeated over-and-over, is excellent. There are a number of endurance focused WODs (Workout of the Day…I explained these in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One, in the PT chapter), as well, to change things up or to incorporate into a normal Crossfit programming schedule.

The best part of this program, in my mind, is that a person could go from sedentary, on the couch, to being reasonably fit, and able to do a lot of basic preparedness tasks, from a fitness perspective, in 6-12 weeks, and then continue improving from there.

Highly recommended.

Unbreakable Runner by TJ Murphy and Brian McKenzie

While not explicitly labeled as such, this is kind of a companion piece to the above book. Murphy is a lifelong competitive runner, and has spent most of his adult working life, as an endurance sport journalist. In the beginning of the book, he goes into excruciating detail about the injuries and damage he accrued following traditional Lydiard training methods, and the improvements he made when he decided to break down and give the heretical CFE methods a chance.

This book is also based on CFE methods, but while it does include some basic WODs, it focuses more on the interval running and time trial runs, needed to build sport-specific preparation for different race distances. It includes detailed training programs specific to 5K, 10K, half-marathons, marathons, and ultra-marathons.

I’ve used the 5K and 10K programs, and seen significant improvements in my running endurance and speed at those distances. I assume the same would be the case for the longer distances, but as I said, I just don’t have any interest in running that damned far.

Highly recommended.

Cross Training 101 by Scott James

I have a pretty good collection of these little booklets, from various authors, capitalizing on the Crossfit methodologies, without using the trademarked Crossfit name. They are all pretty similar, comprising a collection of WODs, and little else. This one, like the others, tends to categorize the WODs, into modalities. For example, this volume categorizes them into “Benchmark” Workouts. These are the so-called “Girls” and “Heroes” WODs from Crossfit. The Girls are a set of simple (not easy) set of WODs that most Crossfitters return to regularly, as metrics for performance improvement. The “Hero” WODs are named after military personnel who were Crossfit athletes who were killed in action during the GWOT (the most famous of these being the “Murph” named after SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was awarded the CMH posthumously, and which Crossfit gyms around the world perform on Memorial Day every year).

This booklet further divides WODs into “bodyweight” WODs, “regular” WODs, running WODs, and endurance WODs. Others may include kettlebell specific WODs, “Strongman” WODs, utilizing Strongman type lifts and implements, and any other variety.

Whether you’re just trying to spice up your home gym Crossfit-type conditioning, or you’re trying to utilize and expand on the programming offered in the previous two books, any one of these little “Cross Training Workouts” type books, are worth having. I don’t know that any one is better than any other. This just happened to be the one sitting on my desk at the moment.