The Ingredients for your Victory: Tactics + Gear

There was a very good response to my recent post ‘Realistic Rucking‘ some of which I want to extract and use to make some points in this post. As I progress with this blog and the training site, things are starting to coalesce. The method  in the madness is becoming more apparent to me. 
What do I mean by that? Well, as I evolve on my journey with this, and I meet more people, train more people, blog more, and see comments, my ideas are evolving. How I want to train people, and how they should best plan to operate, is also evolving.
On a personal/family level, I started off on this journey with a  lot to learn about being a ‘prepper’, in terms of the things to know and to acquire from a food and shelter perspective in order to be able to survive SHTF. I brought my tactical experience to try and help people survive the physical threats that such an SHTF situation will bring. Then, I became more aware of the challenges on the political side, brought by statist authoritarianism and the ongoing attacks on Liberty. 
The conclusion of this is that however ‘SHTF’ specifically pans out, there will most definitely be a tactical threat of some sort, which means people that you will need to fight. This will run the potential spectrum from starving marauders through to actual militarized enemy forces (enemies foreign or domestic). This is where I part ways with many ‘preppers’. 
‘Preppers’ want to hunker down and emerge at the end when it is all OK. They are often pretty delusional. They think they will be left alone. A lot of them miss the need for a tactical approach to defend their AO, and they also situate themselves too much around their stores – their ‘list of lists’ – so that when an upheaval comes, a dislocation of expectations, they will be left fumbling. “What about my stock of Mountain House!” you hear them exclaim as they run naked out the back of their retreat. They also tick the box for defense and think they will be OK by purchasing a few firearms and a stock of ammo. Meanwhile, they are often fat-asses who need an ATV to  move about. Granted, I am not saying you don’t need a supply of food and prepper items; clearly you do need to have something to eat, but it can’t be all about that. 
There was some collectivist libtard who recently made a comment about ‘preppers’ being selfish. Although I disagree with the sentiment behind it, and the REASON for why that was said (i.e. come back to the hive, the State will look after you), I don’t entirely disagree. The point is that you have to take action to dominate your AO, whether that is with a close-in offensive form of defense at your rural retreat, or a more active engagement in a resistance campaign. And how do you think the actual resistance fighters will feel about the fat-asses holed up in their bunkers, not doing any of the heavy lifting? Maybe they will do some redistribution of their own….
The point is that, for many of us, it is not about simply holing up and surviving, it is about going out and fighting to WIN. To defeat the bad guys. Granted, if you engage in combat there is a chance you will be wounded or killed. Most of us are willing to put it on the line because we believe in Liberty, we believe in Freedom, and we will not be oppressed; we will not kneel to tyranny. That is why we train, plan and apply tactics in order to increase our chances of success and mitigate the dangers as much as we can, while having an effect on the enemy 
The purpose of this article is to give you some pointers as to how you can win. I will state here that I am not talking about ‘leaderless resistance’ (LR). Even if you are a small group, you will have a leader, and even though when the hammer falls circumstances may mean that you may find yourself operating without connections to other groups; if you can establish a network, then clearly you will be better off by doing so. Run with what you have, but aspire to alliances and a network.
Firstly, if you are the type of guy referred to in the comment below, then you either need to stop, listen, learn and re-think drastically what you are about, or you are dead already and you should just close this webpage and move on. If your idea of exceptionalism is this:
“As I was watching a “training video” over at “Free North Carolina”; I realized something. Your average 325lb donut eater has no intention of EVER moving his “ruck” any further than the back of his SUV. They PLAN to conduct “opps” by driving around conducting 50 meter or less “firefights” -jumping back in the car and speeding away-and yes they DO plan on having theme music-and beer-and donuts. OMG Its the Homer Simpson militia!—Ray”

….then you need to get a grip.
OK, now onto the tactics. There are some clear pointers that I will put together here, in no particular order:
1) Tactical Team: you are going to need a trained, equipped and functional tactical team, anything from four guys and upwards, preferably a squad of twelve, in order to conduct tactical operations in your AO. Your guys must be well trained in light infantry ‘old school’ basics. Fieldcraft, shooting, small unit tactics, raid, ambush etc. 
2) PT: your guys need to be fit enough to conduct dismounted operations carrying a fighting load for at least three days at a time out in the boonies. This means fit enough to remain alert and not let standards of fieldcraft lapse just because they got tired. 
3) Retreat/Base: you need to move the families of the group to a safe location at a suitable time. Do not be dispersed and living at home when the HIT teams start going house to house. You need to think about being at a secluded rural or semi-rural location.
4) Base protection. You need to have a defense force for the base where the group’s families are located. If the tactical team is there, they can do this, but the vital thing is that if they are to move out and operate, there needs to be a group that will defend the base in their absence.  That could be a mixture of training and arming the women and leaving those who are not physically up to dismounted operations behind in a defensive role. 
5) You need to actively defend the AO around your retreat. This will be with a mixture of static defensive positions at the retreat itself, active ground domination patrols, OP’s and standing patrols. If you can make alliances with neighbors then all the better. Don’t alienate potential allies. The reality of this is that the tactical team, when at the retreat, will be engaged in a rotation of rest, OP/sentry and local patrolling. The ‘B team’ will take over at times when the tactical team, or part of it, goes out on a mission, such as a raid or ambush. 
6) You will need all the basics of prepper supplies such as food and all that stuff on the usual prepper ‘list of lists’. If you don’t have something, make do. If it comes down to it, go out and get it – barter, forage or take it off a selfish fat-ass after he set his killer bees on you, or shot at you from the ridge with his long range sniper rifle. 
7) Don’t operate close to your retreat. Learn to move out using tactical movement and alternative means to vehicles, such as patrolling, using ATVs, mules/horses or whatever. You only want to fight in the vicinity of your retreat if it actually comes under attack. Don’t draw the wrath of the Regime to where your families are hiding. 
8) If you don’t have a widespread network or communications system, you will be reduced to operating against the Regime using locally gathered Intel, word of mouth, your own patrolling and OP’s etc. You will be reduced to observing enemy movement and locations in your AO and picking where you are going to hit. This is where it gets close to Leaderless Resistance, but not intentionally, mainly due to circumstances. Deconfliction and coordination suffer.
9) Be prepared for your retreat to become untenable for whatever reason, and be prepared/plan to move on. Don’t get psychologically wedded to your basement full of mountain house. In a full SHTF situation, like all such upheavals in history, the situation will shift with large migrations and changes. The tides of war. Your retreat location is a short to medium term option and in the end you may end up trekking out to somewhere else. 
10) You are not secret agents. When you conduct operations, it is out in the boonies as a tactical team, with your fighting gear on. Patrol well and be sneaky. Don’t get tied up in urban areas. You need to be able to create stand off around your team using good patrolling skills. You only come in to your target area after trekking through the boonies to the target, hit it and move out. It doesn’t matter what you wear, camo or earth-tone clothing, so long as it is suitable clothing/colors for tactical operations. You are not getting away with it anyway if you are caught, with your gear. Even if you dump your gear, do you think that “Military Ages Males” caught near the scene of an ambush are not going to be detained, arrested or just killed?
11) I saw something on a website talking about how modern operations have moved to the urban areas. Not for you. Stay out in the boonies and operate there. As just mentioned, you only come in towards an urban or semi urban area if that is what you have to do to hit a target. The urban ares are death traps and need to be avoided. If that is where the Regime are concentrated, so what? You hit them when they make moves out into the boonies. If the Regime are confined to the urban areas, and cannot make inroads into the rural areas, then they lose anyway. They have to try and suppress the resistance by moving out and trying to dominate routes and the smaller urban/semi-urban centers.
12) Which leads me on the the following: ‘SP’ has recently started commenting on my posts. He is a BritMil guy with a couple of Helmand tours under his belt. A recent exchange pulled out some real nuggets. It’s something we are all guilty of – in the quest to be ‘tacticool’ we want to emulate either how we used to do things/be equipped or how the goons are doing it – or more realistically, the wannabe goons are emulating how real soldiers used to do things/how they look and then people in turn want to emulate that…… Have a look at this:
SP Comments (on ‘Realistic Rucking‘):
Just to add my £0.02 and a bit long.

Training for my first Afghan tour in ’08, we would carry realistic weight (or so we all thought) in our bergens, usually around 60lb+ excluding weight of weapon/helmet/body armour over 8-10 miles around the Catterick training area (hills galore but not like Wales, thank God). There was no webbing being worn on these tabs either. Just solid weight in a bergen. I was already the wrong side of 30 by that stage and although could easily cruise CFT’s, I admit I found these tabs hard simply due to the sheer amount of weight. A lot of us, senior ranks included, could not understand the benefits of that sort of training as it did not reflect the realities of where we were going to be operating.

The first time we started carrying proper Afghan weight (which was far in excess of what we trained with) was when we arrived at Bastion, where we were issued our (old desert style pre MTP) osprey plate carriers. Whereas I found carrying 60lb+ in a bergen quite hard, I found carrying the higher Afghan weights easier as I was able to evenly spread the loads out around my osprey and my ECM patrol pack. On that tour we were all easily carrying in excess of 110lb+ (plate carrier/weapon/ammunition/ECM. I once weighed all my kit and it topped out at 128lb’s.

I was still blowing out my arse though…….just not as much.

By the time I started training for my second tour 3 years later there had been a big shift by the Army in training with weight. The new OFT (Operational Fitness Test) were in force. During the 9 months pre-deployment training my Battalion only did 3 or 4 CFT’s and I think only 2 PFT’s. Instead we simply concentrated on very long marches at a more realistic patrol pace carrying the exact kit we would be using in theatre, minus the ECM so bergens simply had breeze blocks thrown in! Whilst still hard, it was more realistic and as such, more beneficial.
(****omitted for brevity*****)
To add to the point of weight carrying: Carrying a dead weight on your shoulders is never a good idea, however with a bit of common sense and redistributing of weight, those otherwise heavy loads can become much more manageable. Selection of load bearing equipment is vital to effective carrying of weight.

Max Velocity Replies:

Great input, and the updates on the OFT. Keep stuff like this coming please!

I think your point about the load weight being distributed is great, and something I was trying to convey in a comment above when I was asked about whether the quoted 55lb weight was inclusive of load bearing gear, and of course I was just talking about a simple ruck. Once people move from the suggested hiking/rucking training to wearing their full gear, they will have that spread around the body, and thus distributed as you point out.
Your comment does touch on a related topic though – that of the infantry load and the gross overloading of soldiers. Note that I am saying that people may be carrying 70lbs of gear when they have their full fighting load on plus assault pack they should try and avoid carrying more. Granted, they don’t have ECM to carry. To carry the kind of weight you suggest, 128lb, will slay most if they try and operate tactically – and tell me if I am not wrong, but it also slew you humping that round Helmand right?! And that is despite countless training exercises and tabs carrying it prior to deployment?

So there are some really good points there – 
1) Train realistically in a more patrolling/hiking fashion rather than as a speed march.
2) When you wear your fighting load, the spread if the weight will assist you – and you may not be able to train in tactical vest/PC as a commenter mentioned above – you may just have to wear a ruck or perhaps a weight vest.
3) Don’t carry too much, even if it is spread around your body. Infantry are carrying too much nowadays, which impacts on their agility under fire.

SP Replies: 

Stumbling around the Helmand countryside with extreme weight did mean that operating tactically went right out the window. Just could not be done. You’d get fleeting glances of Taliban running around in trainers whilst your blowing out your hoop just shuffling too and fro. Even getting back on to your feet from the kneeling position was an effort. All of us bods and juniors would have been quite happy to have sacrificed ECM and scaling equipment in return for mobility. I would also say that the extreme loads had a mitigating factor in a lot of lads being killed and wounded over the years. The locals know just how heavy our kit is, so would plan their attacks and IED zones accordingly. Sneaky little bastards. Now with the style of old school Brit infantry style of training you teach, it could lead to a sort of role reversal. If and when the US goes tits up and the Goons are out hunting in force, chances are they will be the ones that will be weighed down with all the gear (and no idea) which could be a major game changer. That will be one of their weak links in their armor.
Ok, so there it is, hitting the nail on the head right there in bold. You need to train to carry an effective fighting load, but without carrying too much weight. Don’t simply try and replicate what guys are carrying/doing on OEF/OIF. And remember the way to victory is to train in old school effective light infantry tactics. Remember survivor bias – a lot of what is going on in Iraq/Afghan is adapted to the situation. A lot of old school basics have been forgotten, and a lot of guys have got away with stuff because the Iraqis/Afghans can mostly not hit shit with their AKs. They may have survived, but it doesn’t mean they were doing it right. 
13) In my post ‘Gear Philosophy Update‘ I talked about realistic gear/weight to carry. Let’s get into that a little. You don’t want to overload yourself, but you will still be carrying a decent amount of weight if you are to be effective. ‘Light Infantry’ does not actually mean ‘light’! But you have to make sure you don’t go too far, and try and carry the kind of weight that SP was talking about. 
In terms of body armor/plates, its great to have., But that comes as a reward for fitness. First put on the required fighting load, and if you are fit enough to also wear plates, then do so. But if you put on plates, in particular those heavy-assed steel Patriot plates, and you are unable to move, then dump them. If you can’t  move you can’t fight. 
So you need a basic fighting load consisting of a battle belt or vest/chest rig/plate carrier (PC). You also need to carry an assault pack, which in my concept is actually more like a ‘three day pack’. The idea here is to carry a small ruck that will allow you to stay out for several days but will still allow you to move and fight. It is the sort of ruck that you would not have to dump at the first sniff of contact. Yes, you will cache it before a raid, but in a contact drill you won’t have to leave it behind. Get where I am going with this….?  It’s a balance of having gear to live out in the field with, without taking it all plus the kitchen sink. Given that I have my first Patrol class coming up in January, and we are going into winter, let’s look at what a winter example might entail. Remember, you have to be vicious in culling gear, and you will ‘travel light freeze at night’. 
So, a three day pack (TDP) will be a little bigger than a standard assault pack but it won’t be a full ruck. These are the sort of things you will want to consider having for a winter load. You may choose some over others and you won’t necessarily take all on this very rapidly thrown together list. Don’t forget a waterproof liner or canoe bag inside your ruck to keep the contents dry. I may also have forgotten items:
Sleeping system: thermal mat (thermarest), goretex bivvy bag, sleeping bag. You will be wearing clothes inside the bag and you won’t take a huge four-season bag. Go for a lighter sleeping bag to save weight/bulk and prepare to be a little chilly. The space required for sleeping gear is primarily why you need a larger pack than a basic assault pack. Stuff the bag, inside the bivvy bag, into the bottom of the TDP.
Tarp/Thermal Shield: yes I haven’t produced it yet but when I do, I suggest you use the thermal shield concept to keep the eyes of aerial thermal surveillance off you. The basic tarp or thermal shield is also used for shelter from rain/snow. Use paracord/bungees pre-attached the the corners and use trees or cut sticks as appropriate to put it up. 
Spare Ammo/magazines (more below): Best to have it in magazines, but you could also go for stripper clips in a bandoleer. Given what I see with guys leaving mags on my ranges, either get good at using a dump pouch/shirt front or take more magazines!
Spare socks/t-shirts
Warm clothing/jacket/thermal underwear/hat/gloves etc.
Goretex waterproof outer layer, jacket/trousers.
Night vision + Batteries.
Weapon cleaning kit/spares/lube: not to do a  full deep clean of your rifle., but to get the worst rust/carbon off it, fix malfunctions, lube it up, keep it running.
Lightweight stretcher/medical gear – to supplement the IFAK on your belt kit. More in depth stuff, like sutures. This is where you start to specialize across the team, with the medic going more in depth on what first aid gear he carries, others making up by carrying other stuff.
Solo  stove or similar: you need to be able to heat water/food. Dig the stove in, clear the area around it, then re cover it once you are done
Rations: either stripped down MRE’s or whatever you replace it with when they run out. In MRE terms, no more than two entree meals a day, snack on the other stuff like pound cake throughout the day/lunch etc. 
Water bladder/filter/purification drops: To supplement any canteens or bladder on your person. Hopefully there is plenty of water around in the winter. This is where you balance summer/winter. This winter list is heavy on ‘snivel’ gear, less heavy on water. In the heat, you can dump most of the snivel gear and load up more on water (but you may add a bug net to sleep in, for example). 
The makings: of hot tea/coffee/hot chocolate. For morale, at least dawn/dusk if you can. Drink hot drinks, heat up your food if you can and as the tactical situation allows. 
ETH – entrenching tool. For taking dumps and digging in as necessary. 
In conclusion, that is a short example list of the kind of thinking behind what you pack in your TDP. Not too much, enough to survive the cold. There are a multitude  of other little items that you can consider if I was gong to do a full list – paracord, wire saw, trash bag etc etc.
Ammunition: I would recommend at minimum 8 thirty round magazines on your person with at least the same again in your pack as a  reserve. Also, amend that depending on your mission. But your only resupply will be what you have with you. 
In the tradition of using statistics to make up examples which bear no semblance to what actually happens in reality here are some statistics for your ammunition (stats nerds: you can really get your teeth into this one!):
8 magazine = 240 rounds. 
Deliberate rate of fire is one round every 6 seconds, or ten rounds per minute. With 240 rounds that gives you 24 minutes of fire.
Rapid rate of fire is one round every two seconds, or thirty rounds a minute. With 240 rounds that gives you 8 minutes of fire. 
Remember that in a panic people tend to go more for the rapid fire, and training them to go more for the deliberate accurate fire is the hard part. 
In conventional military planning, in an assault, you will plan on 15 minutes per every 100 meters of ground that needs to be covered under enemy fire. So, with 8 minutes of rapid fire available  you will only get half way, or 50 meters. Ok, Ok, its not entirely applicable, but I said that at the beginning – I’m using useless stats to make a point….!
Carry as much ammo as you can without being stupid about it!
That is probably enough for now.
Live Hard, Die Free.

UPDATE: in order to address a couple of matters in the comments, I have posted in more detail HERE.