Thursday, December 31, 2009

A loss in the fight

The AP has learned that seven CIA officers and/or employees have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on FOB Chapman in the near Khost City (in the Khost Province).

While Hollywood and conspiracy theorists like to paint C.I.A. "agents" (which they are not called agents btw) as evil, the truth is that they are some of the hardest working men and women in the game. They endure hearing publicly about their failures that are well known and allow their victories to be credited to other people.

I am deeply saddened to hear about this. It's a horrible way to start the new year. We often as a society elevate our men and women in uniform to a hero status, and we are right to do so.

However their job would never go wheels up if it were not for those who work behind the scenes sometimes months and years in advance to build relationships, cultivate assets, and gather viable intelligence.

We have suffered a horrendous lost and tonight families and colleagues will mourn the loss of loved ones that won't be returning home. Sadly it is unlikely that this will be little more than a beep on the nightly news radar as the world will just have to know what piece of clothing some celeb failed to wear as she got out of a car to go celebrate the New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Too big of a toolbox ?

When I started writing the "Dark Arts" series I knew that it would set some people on edge, and understandably so I suppose. And I knew there would be detractors and critics, which to be honest I'm okay with I've got a rather thick hide.

So it came as no surprise when one reader pointed me to a forum where one of my recent posting was being discussed. One gentleman who conducts Self Defense training took um-bridge with me personally (ironic since he doesn't know me and lives in another state) and my advice simply because he had never "heard" of me (whatever that means).

I found the statement somewhat quizzical, yet for all of his critiques there was one statement I found to be a little ridiculous.

It went something like...."some of these guys like to overburden their students with so many tools that the toolbox is too heavy to carry. When I teach I focus only on the basics."


Well that's a first.

I will say this about the gentleman who takes disagreement with me. He is an actual trainer and a member of the law enforcement community and by all appearances highly respected in his area of the world. So he's not an arm chair commando. I would also point out that I don't make my living as a trainer, though I am a certified pistol instructor and plans are in the works to develop various training seminars through the company that I own and operate. But my line of work delves into a different area than his.

Let me point to another instance.

Over the summer I attended a morning conference on Church Security over in Illinois, after the murder of the Reverend Fred Winters back in March. The panel was made entirely of law enforcement officers which held a variety of opinions. Panel members where mainly small town police chiefs and most agreed that ultimately in a mass shooting that members of the church would be the first responders to the crisis. Given Illinois anti self-defense laws their were questions concerning what weapons could be legally carried and used.

One local police chief went against the grain of his fellow panel members and said

"you have to remember that this is a law enforcement matter and it is for the Police to respond to. I know you all want to carry a gun, but let me say this as a Chief of Police I don't even let my wife carry pepper spray nor do my teenage children. Any so called self-defense weapon can be taken from you and used against you and they simply aren't worth the risk."

It was an arrogant and disgusting statement.

For someone to say likewise that you can be over burden with to many tools is.....well absurd, because frankly I have yet to find in Sun Tsu's Art of War any quote that reads "stick with the basic levels of training and your campaign will go ok."

Fundamentals are important, but they are the building blocks to further our mindset. We all (myself very included) should always be striving to learn more, train more, think and out think the bad men of the world.

I hope that I never on this blog or in my life come across as someone who thinks he invented the concept of self-defense or outside the box thinking, rather I see myself as a life long student to a school of thought which can only be graduated from by dying.

The irony of it is we live in a world where we over burden ourselves with worry to the point we are told by blue screens in our homes to just take a pill to solve the problem. Yet most of us know that tackling your problems straight on and seeking to defeat them is far more effective than popping legal dope.

Because on Christmas day while most of us were opening gifts and stuffing food into our mouths a vacationing Dutchman was tackling some Nigerinan Farouker (that supposed to be a take on fucker) and preventing him from killing a plane load of people.

There still remains no requirement for being a victim, one doesn't even have to take a physical exam.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dark Arts For Good Guys: Think Fast!

There is a problem we (society in large) face in trying to thwart,fight,and kill the badmen of the world.

As the "Good" we have concluded that there is unofficially mandated fair play and ethics into trying to fight off those who commit evil.

When I teach on how to defend against mass shootings I tell my students that they have to get their head around shooting an attacker in the back. And turn the targets around for them to do so.

Being in a prolonged gunfight with multiple attackers is not the same fight as with a home invader. You shooting a man in the back as he runs for the front door is at best manslaughter. Understanding that firing into the back of a gunman as he walks around executing people lying on the floor is called tactical advantage and justified. Just as it is for any S.W.A.T and HRT Sniper.

The same holds true for taking a hostage. We have ingrained into our heads that those who take hostages are the bad-guys and the hostage the victim. Always.


There is a point when fighting against and resisting multiple attackers that taking a hostage can save your life.

To be clear. I am not talking about Sally from Accounting or someone's nephew named Nathan.

Rather one of the perpetrators themselves.

On the afternoon of March 22, 1999 Cyndy Vigil (then 22yoa) fled from the mobile home of David Parker_Ray in Elephant Butte, New Mexico. For three days she had been held in captivity, repeatedly raped and tortured until she had the opportunity to escape. When she burst into the kitchen of Darlene Breech's home screaming for help she was naked with the exception of a padlocked collar around her neck and four feet of logging chain dangling behind her. She had escaped by stabbing Cindy Hendy (Ray's accomplice) with an ice pick.

In the summer of 2008 a gang of attackers numbering around 20 brutalized and stabbed a family riding the Saint Louis Metro Train as they returned from vacation from the airport. This became the starting point for roving attackers sometimes numbering close to 100 people mostly made up of teenagers and young adults (again not all of them male).

We have to realize that there may come a point and time when you are simply out matched, outgunned, out numbered or out maneuvered. Surrender is rarely a good option and retreating can be cut off.

Granted in a situations like a train station against a roving gang and being armed when shots are fired most of the perpetrators will flee. Dwindling the number of committed attackers. But take the same mob during something like the LA or Paris riots and the pack mentality dominates.

Facing an armed gang with any gun whether its a 19+1 Sig or a five shot Ruger is over whelming. And in a tooth and nail fight there is one thing you can bet on. Not all of your rounds fired will kill or even severely wound.

Sorry but in the real world there is no one shot/one kill ratio. Though from a tactical standpoint you would be better served putting at least one round into as many attackers as opposed to wasting multiple rounds on a single target.

But what about a smaller and more perversely intimate situation. You're a wife and mother of three who earlier in the day was camped with your family near a nice lake when you were coxed over in a false panic to a truck by another woman asking to help her baby inside. In an instant you are now the victim of a demented sadist couples' kidnapping.

Wake up because they do exist.

In fact now more than ever we are seeing women act as very willing co-conspirators with their male counterparts in criminal activity most noticeably kidnapping and rape.

Regardless of the situation there may be a moment when escape is possible but a flat -out-running-flee is unlikely without being over taken by your pursuers.

When Cyndy Vigil escaped from David Parker Ray's infamous "toy box" she did it by stabbing her female kidnapper with an ice pick and running. Ray was at the time gone, but what if he had been there and the right opportunity to escape still presented itself, but was likely to be short lived as she would have two pursuers to communicate and cut off her escape.

What if in the midst of a mob attack you are low on ammunition or have only a knife or the proverbial pointed stick. Yet you have managed to wound a nearby assailant that is with in arms reach?

While the thought of reaching an grabbing a shirt collar of the guy who moments ago was about to kill you and using him for cover and emotional counter balance may seem morally deplorable to many. I would offer up this single solitary thought:

Who started the crisis that you now exist in?

My point is not simply to raise the moral question but explain the motor skills to do so. There is nothing complicated or magical about taking a hostage you simply have to do it.

For clarity in this exercise the term "Hostage" in this post refers to a previous attacker whose world you have seized control over in order to escape from the ordeal at hand.

A wounded hostage is better. Pain robs the brain of clear thinking and lowers the level of resistance, as does fear.

The use of pressure points is also helpful but not necessary. It is also key to remember when using pressure points not to over use or maintain steady and constant pressure on any one place. The body adapts to the pain. However hitting a pressure point hard for several seconds then releasing for a couple of seconds then bouncing on it again intermittently causes the nerves to become confused and thus they can not adapt to the blow they are being dealt.

However the simplest and best course of action is a fist full of shirt collar or hair that allows you to keep your B-I-Q/Hostage in front of you as a shield. If you are taller, stoop to get behind them. If they are taller than you once you have control of the head, collar, hair or ear just pull in the direction you need to go. Up-Down-Left-Right it doesn't matter.

Control the head and the body is forced to follow.

If you are armed don't stick it out in front of your B-I-Q/Hostage where it can be taken from you. Rather put it right at the base of the skull or locked in behind the ear. No one regardless of how fast they are can beat weapon on skin contact in time to prevent injury.

If you are armed and your message of being free to leave by fellow attackers is not being delivered a pistol round fired next to the ear of you B-I-Q/Hostage and into the group of attackers should speak a little more clearly and act as an impromptu force multiplier in the realm of psych war fare.

Because if you haven't caught on yet that is exactly what this is. Psychological War Fare at its most basic level.

Armed with only a knife, ice pick sharp stick, again the base of the skull or slightly inside the ear should give you all the control and undivided attention you desire. The loss of a little of your B-I-Q/Hostage's blood again conveys the seriousness of your mindset in wanting to be let go from your current circumstances.

If you're worried about the legal ramifications after the fact call Massad Ayoob or F. Lee Bailey and see who they recommend for the Defense.

Frankly if its your first thought it will probably be your last as well.

Because in the very real world there are men and women working as Contractors where Al Qaeda still kidnaps and saws peoples head off.

There are women who are kidnapped off the streets and locked in basements never to be heard from again only to turn up buried in a back yard in Ohio.

When you doubt the severity in which you think you need to know how to fight back in this world to save your life go read "Slow Death" by Jim Fielder or "Inside the Mind of a Serial Rapist" by Dennis Stevens, Ph.D or "Profiles in Murder" by Russell Vorpagell.

They are good reminders that there is evil that walks the street and sometimes they come in pairs, or more.

Man or woman. Alone or together. Getting out of the frying pan is on you first, because ultimately You are the First Responder in your crisis.

Friday, November 6, 2009


My plane leaves in a few hours and I'll be off the grid for a bit, so my apologies for not further exploring this.

But it does appear that Major Nidal Hasan was in fact participatory as an adviser for the Presidential Transition Team.

For the sake of transparency it should be noted that the task force was started seven months before the November Election.

The article (hyper-linked below) is from The George Washington University's Homeland Policy Institute titled "Thinking Anew-Security Priorities for the Next Administration" part of the Presidential Transition Task Force from April 2008-January 2009.

Nadal's name is on page 29 and he is credited as a "Task Force Event Participant"

Homeland Policy Institute Presidential Transition Task Force

Guess I've got my light reading for the plane ride.

Be Safe out there.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Real Quick

I apologize for the severe delay between postings. The whole Dark Arts for Good Guys series stems from a mid-summer slow down in my consulting work and since my mind runs a million miles an hour most days and I found myself sitting on my hands I needed something constructive to do (idle hands and all that).

Fall arrived and people apparently began having problems in their lives and I'm back at it. But the other half revolved around after writing Non Permissive Environment Pt I I was struck by writers block for part II. To the effect that are twenty something rough drafts of it floating around on my hard drive.

But the writers block seems to have departed (I hope) and work is not at DefCon 30 so postings "should" return to normal. Including that elusive part II.

Thank you for your continued encouragement in writing here and hopefully you enjoy the latest post below.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Change your mind and the rest will follow

On a regular basis I am interjected into the lives of others. Often enough this comes from when their life hits the fan so to speak. Occasionally I have the time to train others in shooting and what we would generally recognize as self defense. Having myself gone through a fair amount of training in many different aspects there is one thing that I have noticed that escapes most instructors.

To systematically ingrain into students to think positive and to react in a manner that invokes a positive/winning/I-will-feed-you-your heart attitude.

And while it may seem obvious it is not a given teaching method. The truth is it's very easy for all of us to focus on the mechanics of drilling,drawing, and defense that we don't think WIN.

hmmm I hear snickering.

Think for a second of this scenario whether you are a man or woman.

You come home late at night through the front door, pull the key out of the lock, and walk to the other end of the house. Something doesn't seem right and you look back behind you to see a 6'5" 230lbs male in a ski mask with a 10 inch bladed knife between you and the door.

Before you go into that clearing of the holster of that gun you may or may not be wearing. Break down your own personal mindset here.

The initial sucking in of air and "oh shit" is completely allowed because we all (a-l-l) get caught off guard in life but the next response should be in your head should be:


and by "GO!" I mean you need to have a mind set of being able to Go-straight-at-him with a total intent on leaving him dead on the floor. Whether you are a man or a woman.

There is a prevalent thought in the defense world that you need to turn and put distance between you and him. So prevalent that this is an acceptable response both amongst instructors and even legislators where we have become ingrained that our first obligation is to flee. Mention the concept of "counter attack" and the defense attorneys begin sweating.

The entire concept of fleeing from an attacker can be appropriate at times. Sometimes you are simply out matched-out gunned-out maneuvered. In Executive Protection "fleeing" is a doctrinal part of protection work. However there is also the point where sometimes you are left with no other option than to fight.

The moment you flee from anything it is incredibly difficult to then stop the flight signals in your brain and turn them over to fight. That's not just conceptual that chemical. Once adrenaline and the flight response kicks off in your head you damn near have to manually over ride it. Combine this with a society that systematically tells you to flee, or have zero tolerance policies for self defense and we are left with sheep dead in the streets.

This is why members of the armed forces, police and firefighters go through boot camps and academies. They see a potentially lethal situation and run towards it with the entire mindset of defeating that which aims to kill.

Some of this has also become subconsciously ingrained into the Defensive/CCW/Shooting Community. At least in a couple of ways that I see it (personally).

One is simply the caliber debate.

We have given far far to much credit to Ed Sanow and Evan Marshall (respectively) in that the concept of the one shot stop is interesting "science" however it is certainly not an applicable one.

The far reaching consequences of the one-shot-stop business is that it makes us question our equipment and think we aren't using enough gun. The physical fact is a .32 ACP does not make as large of a hole as .45 ACP, but six or seven bullets into the body of an assailant is going to either have a lasting effect or an effect that will end his life very soon.

True enough we've all heard the stories of how the .380 entered someones face and skirted under the skin and came out the other side doing no damage. What I can guarantee is that you have never read of an account of seven .380s doing that.

Don't worry about your "caliber" of choice near as much as whether or not you can make all of your hits count and that your equipment is reliable...

And that you have a plan when it is not.

Which may mean when your Glock's magazine fails to feed properly you dump it and go to your spare magazine that you carry (right?). Or that you pull your Sure Fire flashlight and one handed opener knife and make ready for up close work.

For all the debate surrounding pistol calibers no one questions a rifle's ability to make a supposed “one shot stop”.

The 5.56/.223 in the extremely popular M4 configuration being used by our troops has a relatively low reputation in CQB where Operators are having to put three and six shots into an enemy.

Yet as one SpecOps guy I know says “so you just shoot again. Whats the problem?”

So return back to our Ski Masked Attacker in the home with his bare bladed knife.

He is the living nightmare we have all read about, the guy who is laden with PCP and soaks up round after round of .357 Magnum.

Are they out there? Sure.

Are they common? No.

Case in point. I very recently had a client find herself backed into a corner armed with a Snub-nosed Smith & Wesson .38 Special (loaded with Glaser safety slugs). She had never fired the weapon, didn't want a gun in her home and yet when the time came she fired once into the very very large body builder typed attacker. The bullet striking him where the foot meets the leg.

One single round.

He fled/drug himself from her house and collapsed in the street where police found him.

"Come to the nightmare that is me."

Talk about a winning mindset. This is where your head should be. Where YOUR confidence should be. Your gun, knife, baton whatever is simply the tool. The weapon is you.

There is one thing I instituted for myself along time ago in dealing with everything from potentially violent encounters to verbal confrontations to even shooting sessions at the range. It is the simplest confidence booster for bad situations. it's free and it works.

I smile.

Not a big toothy Burt Lancaster smile, but I grin inward and outward. I raise my head up and whether its at the paper target in front of me or a stalker that has been haunting my client, I smile.

I do so because it reminds me that I am capable, the equipment that I carry is reliable.

The bad men who roam the world are not the Boogy man. Cut them they bleed. Shoot them they die. They have nothing on you other than whether you allow yourself to be mentally beaten from the start.

When the feces hits the impeller (and it does constantly in life). You are the motor to the fan. You either shut down or you speed up.

Speed up.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


currently working on part II of non permissive enviroment, and should be posted later today. My apologies for the recent delays in posts.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

True Story

The original email was sent to Sheriff Glenn Boyer on Thursday, August 27. Below is the citizen's email followed by Sheriff Boyer's response.

I tried to call you earlier this morning, but was unable to obtain your extension from the voice mail system as I was not sure of your first name or correct spelling of your last.

I was inadvertently in this procession as I was leaving work on 270 from Creve Coeur and proceeding on Hwy. 30 West. I have some issues and complaints. I called the Sheriff's office last night, but the officer in charge would not speak with me. His name was Corp. Curtis. I am in no way complaining about your officers. I, however, was not treated very fairly when I called last evening because I wanted a ticket/complaint/or at least a slap on wrist for the people involved. Let me explain:

1) This procession should never have been held during rush hour traffic! Hwy. 270 is dangerous and people drive way too fast and there is too much traffic. This soldier's certainly would not have want his family hurt on the interstate taking him to Cedar Hill. People were dead-stopping on the interstate even though the procession was in the far right lane, the other three lanes just stopped. There were many near accidents and possibly were after I drove through. I was in the 2nd to left lane, no way obstructing the funeral procession.

2) I exited off on Gravois (30 W), far right lane. Your police officers went in the left lane to stop any additional on-coming traffic so the procession could exit off 270 into the LEFT lane of 30. Again, I was in the right lane. The St. Louis County officer stopped and turned around at Weber Hill to return on 270 after the procession passed.

3) The road was not closed. (Only for president as far as I know.) Again, the road was not closed. Your officers only had the left lane blocked/closed for the funeral. All other traffic by MO law can proceed as long as they do not interfere (weave in and out )with funeral procession.
Let me say, that I did not know what was happening. I knew the did not have Kennedy coming to STL, at least not yesterday. I was at work all day. No news. Nothing reported on the traffic on the radio driving home.
Anyway, two of these dirty, nasty, renegade, who knows what motorcycle men that were escorting the procession proceeded to stop in front of me in the right lane on Gravois. I had to stop in the middle of an intersection. They proceeded to scream and yell at me about respecting this soldier, etc. One of them climbed off his motorcycle and came over to me and stuck his head in my car continuing to scream at me. I asked him what this was for and he told me I needed to stop as the officers had the road blocked and show some dang respect. #1, the road was not blocked, the funeral was in the other lane. #2, I am proud of our country and sorry for the family, but they had no idea where I was going or anything else. I could have a child at day-care, I could have been sick and racing to the bathroom, I could have a sick parent waiting for me, etc., etc.

#3, They are not law enforcement and had no right to stop in the lane on Gravois and they had no right to scream at me and intimidate and threaten me. If I would have had my pepper spray, I would have used it on this nasty man! He is just a big hoo ha that is not even related to this soldier. The other man did not get off his scooter, but was along side of my passenger window screaming.
I left an abusive husband 1 1/2 years ago and I did not need this intimidation. I was livid and shaking!!

My son is a deputy sheriff in another MO county. I respect police officers. It was not their fault as they were busy with traffic, but I called to make them aware of what was going on during this thing. The St. Louis County officer saw it but of course he was out of jurisdiction.

However, I called last night and your office asked me if I knew about this soldier. Again, I am sorry about him, but I am a taxpayer. I got a speeding ticket a few months ago and paid the fine. I do not deserve to be treated like this. I wanted to let the officer know how these men were acting. Also, they were driving into the turnarounds on Hwy. 30 and then back onto the road. the funeral was much further ahead. One of them nearly got hit by me and other people almost hit him and another as well. I wanted to lodge a complaint about them why they were still there, but no one in your office would take any information or do anything.
This was not a military funeral, even though it was a soldier. There were not military vehicles. It was a funeral and the road was not closed, the lane was closed, I was in the other lane and again, these nasty men had no right to do this and I would have liked them to get a ticket!
I am sorry for the soldier and his family but you cannot let these motorcycle renegades do this. They could have caused several accidents and I really wanted them arrested. If they had any respect for the soldier they would have dressed better and not looked and acted so scuzzy.

Thank you.

Glenn Boyer/JEFFCO
Date: 08/31/2009 02:05 PM

Subject: Re: Fw: Re: Funeral Procession - Yesterday p.m.



Yes, you do deserve a response and I am willing to give you one.

I would like to say that I am sorry for the inconvenience we caused you during the funeral procession of Sergeant 1st Class William B. Woods, but I cannot do so. I would ask instead that you take a moment of your time to take into consideration the scope of the event. Your very right to complain was the reason Sgt. Woods fought for his country and ultimately gave his life; thus making the ultimate sacrifice for you and your family.

Let me introduce you to him. After high school, Sergeant Woods entered the Marine Corps. After his contract was up, he joined the Army, where he became a Green Beret. He comes from a long line of military members in his family. His Uncle is a Vietnam Veteran and two of his grandfathers were World War II Veterans. His job in the Army was one of the most dangerous jobs - he was a sniper looking for the bad guys to stop before they killed or injured one of our soldiers. He has numerous decorations to include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

He grew up in Catawissa and was best known by his middle name, Brian. He enjoyed the outdoors, playing sports, and skydiving. He had a wife, Elizabeth, and two daughters, whom he loved dearly. He was a soft-spoken, level-headed young man who was proud to serve his country no matter what the risk. Now, I did not know him, but I wish I did. I am quoting from newspaper articles written about him.

At the young age of 31, he was shot during an engagement with Taliban forces in Ghanzi , Afghanistan . He died of his wounds in Germany on August 16, with his family by his side. He did not choose the time of his death, nor did he choose the time his remains would be brought back to his home in Catawissa. He just did his duty. He was quite a young man.

While you were being inconvenienced in your car on your way home, there were soldiers just like Sergeant Woods carrying 100+ pounds of equipment in 120 degree heat, up some mountain or in the middle of some desert. They will shower out of a helmet liner if they get the chance. They will eat a cold meal of MRE's; something most people would consider garbage. They cannot text their family or friends, or go to McDonalds, or watch TV. They can only continue the mission and look out after the guy to the left and right of them. They don't complain because they know they volunteered. The only thing they ask is that we do not forget the sacrifices they have made.

One of the dirty "big hoo ha" bikers, as you call them, was Brian's uncle, a Vietnam Veteran, like myself. We were not treated with a homecoming. We were spit on and called baby killers by a misguided public. Brian's uncle was giving him the respect that he, himself, never received when he came back and I, for one, am proud of him for doing so.

You say that your brother is a deputy in another Missouri county. I am sure he would be proud to escort the casket of a fallen solder, the same as he would that of a fallen officer. I am also sure he would not agree with your complaint about being inconvenienced.

My mother recently passed away. She was a World War II Veteran, serving the U.S. Army. She would say, maybe you should pick up Sergeant Woods' ruck sack and carry on where he left off. Then you could see first hand what it really is to be inconvenienced.

Per your request, I will forward your complaint to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office for his review. It is my personal opinion that your complaint is self-serving and without merit.

Sheriff Oliver "Glenn" Boyer

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dark Arts for Good Guys: Non Permissive Enviroment Part I

Sometimes being morally right and legal do not coincide. Especially abroad.

Killing in self defense (or in some cases just physically harming the attacker) can find you on the wrong side of the law. And if you are arrested you may be executed (at best) or kept jailed indefinitely (at worst) in a foreign prison. Involved in a post violent conflict over seas can leave you in the sticky spot of either notifying the local constables or getting the hell out of dodge.

It may sound cowardly to up an flee, but you need to weigh your options immediately. I have a standing policy with my clients when traveling abroad that if I become involved in a use-of-lethal-force situation the next stop is the airport in many cases. Yes it can depend on the country, the political climate, witnesses, etc. no doubt. But when you are left standing over one or two dead attackers from a street situation you have to make a judgment call immediately that can in many respects change the course of your life. And the right call can be leaving without dialing the country's equivalent of 9-1-1.

The moral and ethical mindset we are given today has to be re-examined and realistically face doing a potential 180 turn. We are told if we shoot and kill we then call the police. And we understand why. We did the right thing, the law is on our side. That is here at home.

But Gaijin you ain't at home.

Once you make that call to the police and you give your name that's it. You can't undo it. You can flee the immediate area and have a limited amount of time (say 1/2 hour in a major metropolitan area) to make the case that you were over whelmed and in fear for your life. Obviously in a rural area you may have more time. But once your name is in the system and they realize you're a foreigner they are going to want to ask you a few questions. In the modern world you're passport photo is going to go out and your name on the hot list of "please call if found attempting to leave the country".

If they don't have a name or even a decent description you still have some freedom of movement. One option may be to go to the nearest U.S. Embassy, if that is not an option and the country you are visiting has the death penalty head for the French Embassy. The French generally do not hand over people facing potential execution, and there are more than a couple of Americans facing charges here living freely in France.

Or you run.

While bribery can get you out of a lot of bad situations there may come the point where the better use of your money is to try and get yourself smuggled out of country.

It's not easy nor is it cheap. And never discount a country's capabilities in tracking and finding or the technology they use. You may see chickens and vintage Reagan era motorolas being carried around by the Polizea, but get made and you'll be surprised who just had your picture pop up in their e-mail with an "FW" in the subject line.

So if the ticket counter at Aéroport International de Tunis is no longer an option you need to look into transpo via the black market.

Hmmm Fodors and Hidden Planet don't have an index for that you're thinking. No they don't, but the key to proverbial black market is only a phone call away.

Prostitution is the key into the underground market. Where there is prostitution there are drugs and human trafficking. This means smugglers and off the books transportation. It may make your skin crawl just thinking about it, but ultimately it is about how bad you want it. The conceptual steps are simple. They just are not easy.

Remember this isn't about using the drugs, the prostitutes, etc rather you are going to weave through this world to back to yours.

But one has to go about this in a smart fashion of course. For instance we're not talking about street walkers, but rather the upper echelon of call girls and "professional" escorts.

The reason to avoid the street level hooker and her pimp for the initial contact is due to a combination of factors. Sure they have access to people, but everything here is low level. You need to by pass this. Low level criminals are unpredictable and low level organizations may on some level be infiltrated by cops, crooked or undercover (or both). If you are a wanted man (or woman), you may have higher value than they do, so it is quite possible to find that you've been sold out to broker a deal or plea bargain. These are not the best and brightest bulbs in the pack after all.

Go higher and the organization structure is better run and has an over all higher value than you that needs to be protected. Think of it as a mutual draw. You don't really care about their world and they like the color of your money (which you better have plenty of).

The best way is to get into the nicest hotel possible, it doesn't have to be the Corinthia in Budapest but something that a $500-$2,000 an hour escort will show up to. If you're not sure how to go about this (getting the girl) request that the concierge come to your room. If you're in any hotel worth a damn a good concierge is more valuable than a duffel full of hardware, because they have heard it all and their job is to do the impossible. So requesting a contact for an "escort" will be a walk in the park.

If he can not give you a name and number for an agency off the top of his head you either aren't tipping enough....or you aren't tipping enough. He's not a priest he/she is a facilitator who gets things done. More than likely they will say "let me see what I can do" and leave you. Sometime later your phone will ring if he doesn't bring the information to you. In many cases the concierge will pass along your name and room number and the escort service will contact you directly.They will in classic fashion ask what type of girl are you looking for.

Since sex isn't your end goal here it really doesn't matter, but to alleviate suspicion give them particulars. This doesn't mean her waist to chest ratio necessarily. Some professional escorts are quite well educated and charming. Some clients are looking for arm candy others are looking for someone who can be a well spoken "trophy wife for the night" (complete with wedding ring). So pick your flavor. Personally, go for one that is well spoken and educated since you may have some explaining to do.

The thing you have to remember in traversing into such arenas is that no one is your friend here. Never confuse someone who is friendly for someone who is a friend. If they're taking your money this is a business arrangement nothing more. Trust will of course be relative, because at some point if you are doing this right you're gonna go against your mother's advice and get into the car with a stranger.

coming next Non Permissive Enviroment Part II

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dark Arts for Good Guys continues this week...

with "non permissive environment part I".

How to get across a Border when you're wanted in the unpopular sense of the term.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

voicing your concerns

In the Self-defense community there tends to be two unofficial schools of thought. That an individual should either avoid or non-verbally deter a situation before it starts or go straight to a full bore gun fight. We tend not to talk about the weird middle ground where walking away may get you attacked and the situation doesn't constitute the drawing of a firearm on your part. I suspect this lack of discussion stems from one of two points of instruction.

One is the police officer who also teaches CCW classes on the side. Typically he/she is use to large amounts of conflict and confrontation on the job. Yet they bear one distinct advantage over the civilian. They have the law on their side automatically, and they have the benefit of rolling back up. Understand this is not a side glancing judgment on my part, rather a police officer's confrontation with an unruly-to-violent individual ends in the arrest. Rarely can a miscreant confront a police officer in a highly aggressive manner and not end up in the back of a squad car.

Meaning: both parties are not mutually deterred by the other.

The flip side of the coin is a civilian instructor who may work in the firearms industry at a local store and is an avid gun enthusiast.More than likely his/her experiences with hackle raising situations-to-confrontation-to gunfight/shooting is either rare or non-existent. This is not about their experiences being inferior, just different.

Focus too much on gun-on-gun resolution we take a valuable tool out of the tool box, our verbal skills and a calm demeanor. If you can't be verbally calm and mentally collected in a verbal altercation, I promise you, you are not going to shine on through when it comes to a gunfight.

Having to engage against a verbally aggressive person who for all appearances is not physically violent requires being smart on your part. One be polite and two be firm. These two are separate but equal. Being polite in a verbal confrontation isn't you being a coward. Rather quite the opposite. The capability to remain polite, unapologetic and firm shows who is in control of the situation.

Being rude or insulting doesn't show that you are strong, it simply points out your lack of decency, capability or both (i.e. you are an asshole just like the other guy). Likewise its not appropriate to be "nice" either. Being nice and apologetic in a bad situation says that you are soft. This is just as unsteady as being rude, and unnecessarily aggressive.

If your BIQ (bad guy in question) is screaming and yelling at you and you respond in kind you just lost all tactical placement in controlling the situation. Because now you have no other levels on the scale to go. Once you're in a screaming match and throwing around threats, YOU either have to get physical or run. And frankly if you're screaming and yelling too. It's your fault.

Conversely being too nice you set yourself up on losing ground mentally. Start off apologizing and backing down trying to de-escalate the situation by blaming yourself appears weak or unprepared and left racing to find the appropriate level of response.

Look like food you will be eaten.

Think Cooper's Condition Colors. Its the verbal equivalent of white and red with no yellow. If you're a hot head and can't control your temper you're likely the same guy who flashes his pistol during rush hour when he gets cut off (yeah its rare...and yeah it does happen). Yet the person who has no self-respect AND a CCW permit will forever doubt themselves of whether or not its the right time to engage unless someone else starts the shooting first.

For a number of years I had the benefit of protecting a very wealthy bachelor who enjoyed night clubs and bars and was always surrounded by beautiful women. At some point an intoxicated individual or a few of them would inevitable decide they resented my Principal's presence and his ability to “take up all the girls”. Some protection agents can go their whole careers and can count on one hand the number of verbal altercations they've had. I could expect several a week.

I had to remain professional and confident and not lose my temper. The same applies to you.

If we look at what causes our tempers to flare it is generally the result of taking something personal. Some cases its perfectly justified, but on the street it's not.


Ask yourself this. Does the overly verbal BIQ actually know you?

If some one calls you “a mother fucker.” You need to realize that in this day and age its more slang than insult, but are you? If you are not then its rather a moot point. If you are then he's right and you need to seek help.

Once early on in my career a very disgruntled individual was yelling some things at a Principal of mine as we walked out of a very nice restaurant (money does not equal class by the way). I maintained my vigilance throughout the situation until she said “fuck you and your fag bodyguard”. My temper flared. I didn't react in anyway other than a nasty look, but a couple of minutes later as we drove off in the Suburban I realized that it was meant for shock value and response, nothing more.

Don't get lured in by words.

Some people go around looking for a fight and they look for non verbal indicators from everyone else to see who to select. Its that simple. Sometimes you get picked, not because you look weak, in fact it may be because you look like a challenge.

If they start it, you end it, but be smart about it. Stay steady in your pitch of voice, maintain eye contact, watch the hands, and say things to them like “Sir”.

In a potentially violent situation don't ask them to do anything. Instruct them.

Don't make open ended statements like “this is the last time I'm telling you.....”. Because then you are faced with what to do when they do, whatever it was they were doing, again.

Don't fall into saying “I will kick-your-ass.” instead respond with a calm toned “do you have five grand for bail money?”

Once with the aforementioned Principal we were in a bar and a intoxicated individual was mouthing off and eventually walked over to our area. I placed myself between him and my Principal, the BIQ a little over arms length away. His threatening tone was blather but that didn't mean he could be ignored. I noticed a knife clip sticking out of his pocket and said “Is that a Benchmade?”, he gave me this cross-eyed look for a second and I continued with “yeah yeah yeah it is, I carry an Elishewitz Stryker myself”. The man stumbled over his words for a second and I said to the bar maid “hey get this guy a beer” then turned around and said “Seriously, nice blade man. Hey gotta get back to work though. Take it easy.” He beemed and said thanks went back over to his buddies and there was no more problems.

For $2.75 I avoided a physical altercation, police reports, and a potentially liable situation for myself and my Principal.

My client's friend, an out of town executive told me later that I handled that very smooth I simply said that I get lots of practice. And I still do.

I get it in the car, in the shower, waiting in line. It's called "the What If" game. I constantly look at situations around me and think "if this individual responds this way I will in turn do this." I then think of any other scenario that could happen and problem solve may way through. Everything from an irate person in front of me to multiple gunmen walking in.

Instead of practicing some witty remark to say if you ever have to pull your gun, work on what to say in order to prevent it.

Think it through and break your statements down. Are they feasible? too long an tongue tying? inflammatory?

Its not about memorizing the right thing to say, its about practice. Just like going to the range.

Practice serves to make you familiar with what you are doing and to build muscle memory so you know the appropriate response, build confidence. Bad guys don't wear t-shirts with bulls-eyes on them, that we all know. However it's nice to know that you can put a magazine or two through an ever increasingly ragged hole at the range.

People watch. When two people interact poorly and you witness it, think how you would have reacted initially, then stop think it over and think how you could have desolved it. Maybe it's by ignoring them all together, or maybe its by responding firmly and calmly.

Why is this so important. Because you may face a guy who is unarmed while you are carrying and he may be willing and very capable in hand to hand fighting where you are not. And you not being capable in that arena doesn't necessarily mean you have the right to lethal force.

Play the what if game, study your appropriate level of verbal response anywhere. Given that people are people you certainly won't lack opportunity.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do your damn duty!

I was visiting here (a very good blog by the way if you don't frequent it) and he posted a link on jury duty.

I went into the comments section to post my thoughts when I read another blogger's comment about not getting paid to serve and what he thought was an otherwise waste of a day.

It causes me no small amount of anger when I hear of people doing their best to avoid jury duty in general.

It's especially irksome when it comes from fellow Concealed Carry License holders or others who like myself who have strong conservative leanings and will go to great ends to write and talk about the sacrifice of our soldiers and tell us their feelings towards Liberty and Justice for All.

How many blog posting have we all read where a fellow CCW holder was either involved in a justifiable shooting (or was simply and rightfully carry their arms) only to find themselves arrested and charged and headed for court. Civil or Criminal. The comment sections are filled with angry rants towards Law Enforcement, the Prosecutors and the District Attorneys. Yet never at the jury.

How many times have you uttered the phrase "WELLLLL I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six!".

Given the current judicial climate in this country I'm not sure I would rather be judged by twelve. Especially when I hear of fellow gun owners and conservative activist not wanting to be "inconvenienced".

What if you found yourself on a jury where a man was being sued in a civil trial for shooting and killing his attacker, and now the dead criminal's family was suing for wrongful death. What if because of you a concealed weapons permit holder who has extensive knowledge of firearms, self-defense tactics and the like were able to delouse scare tactics (read: An evil plastic gun that holds 17 rounds of deadly 9mm) brought on by the Plaintiff's attorney.

Go read the ordeal of Harold Fish and then tell me how nice it was that you were able to skate out of jury duty.

What if because you failed to do your duty a fellow citizen who is innocent had to leverage their home and retirement in order to pay for legal fees.

As I sit at my desk and write this post I am looking at a pile of file folders and manila envelopes from this client's case that appeared on 48 Hours Mystery over three years ago. I strongly encourage you to watch the episode called Dream Killer and then pay particular attention to the interviews given by some of the jurors. Because the easily swayed may one day also be judging you.

Having testified in dozens of court cases and sat in the jury pool I can say this about the American Justice System. That when we as the backbone of society, both morally and financially fail to do our civic duty we leave it to the bummers and the dregs to weigh the future of those who sit at the defense table praying for Justice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dark Arts for Good Guys: Break on Through to the other side

One of the best weapons for getting out of a crisis isn't necessarily a gun. A decent size vehicle, even one that may not run so fantastic has more versatility and overall practical use than a pistol...not that you can't have both of course.

Faced with breaching a road block made from stationary vehicles a car makes a very serviceable battering ram. But like everything, there is a right way and a wrong way. Do it the right way and you not only surprise everyone, but you may also disable a few of the bad guys cars along the way. It just won't won't be in show room condition afterwards.

Do it wrong and you're gonna have a bad case of whiplash from the impact and a bloody nose from the airbag for the next thirty seconds until someone rearranges your school girl beauty with a magazine full of copper.

So first things first: Hands on the wheel. Just like the old man said, hands at ten and two or at nine and three.


Should the airbag deploy while you ram through the barricade your hands are going to be knocked away from the steering wheel in approximately 60-80 milliseconds after the first moment of vehicle contact. When your hands are at 10/2 or 9/3 they get knocked back and out of the way, but not into you. This allows you to quickly recover and get back on the wheel.

If you hands are in the 12 O'clock position when the airbag is you're going to break your nose, probably some fingers and maybe your face altogether. Why? Your hand is between the rapidly deploying airbag and your face. And airbags impact with some 200lbs of force, so instead of getting a face full of polyester goodness you get your own fist flying at you like Mike Tyson.

This applies on the beltway just as much as an evac out of Panama.

Your Fist+Your Face+Physics=Not good.

Ram through a barricade correctly and there is little likelihood that your airbag will actually deploy. Airbags are designed to open in frontal and near-frontal collisions that are of a severe nature. Think striking a parked car of similar size across the full front of each vehicle.

So how fast do you need to be going when you hit the bad guys cars to break through?

Between 35-45 mph is best when you make initial impact. Once you ram keep on the accelerator to force your car through and push the barricading cars to the side.But what keeps the airbags from going off?

If you try to ram the center of a broad sided car for example you displace too much force over too wide an area (essentially fighting the entire weight and body of the other car). This is where the airbag sensors read as you essentially hitting something akin to a brick wall and deploy.

The other car will move, but not out of the way. And along with deploying the airbags, it may also disable your engine temporarily or permanently. Preventing you from getting out of the kill zone and leaving you at its door step.

However you can force barricading vehicles out of your way, you just have to aim for the right targets.

General rule of thumb: Aim your car's headlight for the center of the tire of the car in front of you.

The reason it's unlikely airbags deploy here is because while it may look like you are trying to move two cars out of the way, you are actually only forcing away 1/2 of each car, and thus they are movable.

In most cases the people who set up road blocks are not use to having them breached, so they tend to park cars front to rear. Generally, its the rear of cars that are the lighter half and they will move first and farther out of your way.

As you approach a barricade at around 50 or so feet out brake and drop your speed to around 40 mph but no lower!!! At the moment right before impact floor it and stay on it, even though your mind is going to want to brake at the moment of impact. I can not stress this enough..... Don't!

You need every bit of inertia to force your way through and keep going.

At impact the other cars will start moving out of the way. Since these vehicles are stationary there will be resistance, hence the holding down of the accelerator. Tires are going to be squealing (yours) and metal crunching and grinding (everyones), but they will move out of your way.

As you force your way through the cars may try to momentarily drag along side. This won't last more than a split second. If you are fortunate and these are the bad guys only vehicles you may luck out and blow out one or two of their tires in the process.

You are creating an open wound the barricade that allows you and anyone else behind you to follow.Push on through and get out of the kill zone.

Your car may cough an sputter but, as long as its moving you keep moving until it quits or you are a safe enough distance away to abandon it.

The key things to remember:
  • Hands are ten and two or nine and three.
  • Headlight is your front sight, center of the tire is your target.
  • Approach at about 50-55mph
  • Brake to 40ish mph at about 50 feet out
  • Accelerate right before impact and all the way through
  • Do not brake
  • Do not brake
  • Pray
Special thanks to Matchbox for their five pack for $5.00 in making this posting possible.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Failure to Comply

Last night the Wife and I went to our local gym to work out and as I rolled into the weight room I saw a bright pink flier on the community bulletin board that read :


It's being offered by a gal who titles herself as a thirty-year martial artist, and gave a brief course outline. All par for the course stuff, but there were two things that left me shaking my head. One was a cute little Charlie Brown/Lucy-esque cartoon at the bottom with the girl standing over the boy while his head swirled from being knocked out.

Seems innocent enough.

The other was "How to be more aware of your surroundings and avoiding dangerous places!"

I don't know the instructor, nor her course so this is not intended to be a "puff my chest out piece" about what I know over her. But there are weakened, albeit good intentions, set sub-consciously into the flier.

I had the opportunity last week to see a guy get cut off in traffic and proceed to verbally berate the driver now five cars ahead of him. A few minutes later we ended up at the same drive up ATM. When his turn came he allowed a guy to walk up behind his car and wait while he did his transaction. From the review mirror he was looking an craning in his neck to see where the guy on foot was, which was less than ten feet away. For all of his earlier traffic bravado he didn't have the gumption to break societal politeness and tell the guy on foot to back away from his car.
Understand this isn't about yelling and screaming, but about looking at someone who is rapidly invading your personal space and telling them to walk away.

I'm a follower of Christ, love my God, but I also know that a flat even toned "Back the Fuck Up." does wonders in situational avoidance.If you can't handle a verbal confrontation with the average person on the street you're gonna lose the real fight.

And when the real fight happens it is going to be bad, and by bad I mean violent.

We are taught early on and reminded as adults constantly that violence is bad and that it never solves anything, and that no one wins in a fight. This is simply untrue. In fact it is horribly untrue. This is the result of political correctness infesting everything. It skews how we set and train our minds to win.

Violence does solve problems.

Reactive violence can and does routinely stop evil offensive violence. When you are left (regardless of your sex) on the ground and fighting to win to keep your life violence is the answer...and it is the only answer. And you should not apologize nor back peddle for that.

Don't allow yourself to be drawn into the false expectations of some protective incantation like "...and I hope I never have to use it". No one in court will ever ask "and why didn't you ever tell people 'I hope I never have to use it'". If you're worried about your character ever being referenced in court then you should be concerned about how you conduct yourself in daily life and the measure of your character as a whole. Not some silly phrase useless phrase that can lead a moments hesitation when the crisis starts.

Using violence to save yourself is an intense experience and while we know that a condition white mindset sets you up to fail so can a condition yellow mindset if you don't know how to move beyond it and into the fight itself.

For far too long we have taught statements like "be aware your surroundings" and "avoid dangerous areas".

Those who sat on the planes that crashed in the World Trade Center were very aware of their surroundings. They were on a plane that had been taken over by terrorists with a bag of peanuts in their lap. And the rest of the populace is beginning to understand that dangerous places include going to church and the gym.

Some live in areas of increased danger, like the inner city and the majority of those who dwell there are working class folks trying to make do. Perhaps you can afford to make statements like "I would never live someplace where I can't sit on my front porch for fear of being shot.", but others can not. Neither could the folks who settled this land. Pioneers of this country lived in fear of Indian raids and having their scalps taken. Blacks in the south lived in fear of having their homes set on fire.....and their churches bombed.

Former NatSec Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice talked openly about living through the 16th street Baptist Church Bombing in September of 1963 and how her father (a pastor) and other men patrolled the streets at night with shotguns prepared to defend themselves against Night Raiders of the Ku Klux Klan.

The simple reality is we live in a world where single moms may have to leave the safety of their homes in the middle of the night and go find the errant teenager who hasn't come home at 2am. Telling her to avoid dark parking lots doesn't do her any good.

The Wife's job is not only located in a "bad area" but she also works with several dozen juvenile offenders...some of them sex offenders. Her feel good, do no harm school of social work feelings of ten years ago no longer exist.

The fight never will be what you want it to be, and you should train accordingly. Shooting tight little groups at seven yards with that pocket gun doesn't prepare you for the first time someone slams a fist into the side of your head and knocks you to the ground.

You can make a cushy statement like "well you never should have gotten in that predicament".

Nice statement. My profession is being paid to think and to be aware and I can tell you that everyone gets caught off guard, simply because we are human and human factors come into play. Always. You need to learn to react instantly when you are caught off guard just as much as you need to learn to read the signs of a rapidly escalating situation two blocks away.

The suburbanite mother who is loading kids and groceries into her mini van at 2pm on Thursday needs to learn to react when her thinking about seat belts on a car seat and the bread in the bag are interrupted by a would be rapist delivering a hard right to her face. Followed by trying to drag her into his mini van.

I don't care that she got a bruised face near as much as I do that no one ever taught her to pull a Spyderco Endura out of her waist band and slam it into the side of his face and back.

We must learn to understand both in society and the courtroom that when an individual is in place of brute force that they must fight/attack in order to win. Because at some point the defensive must become the offensive. In combat there is no such thing as a defensive attack, there is only a counter attack. A badman must....must be beaten back so far and with such intensity that he either flees or is killed.

If you can't handle the thought of your clothes covered in someone else's blood from fighting them off or a body laying dead in your kitchen after he has come to kill your family..and you. Then its time you made some harsh real life decisions about that little pistol you like to carry around and the consequences that come with it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dark Arts for Good Guys: When No One is Coming

There may come a point when you learn that no one is coming to help. Not from out of or in town. No local security spooks or your mother. Sometimes its because there is no money. It can be as simple as that, sadly enough. Other times (think Katrina) due to weather, communications can break down or can be completely absent.

And there you are.


Being left in the wind can drive you into a panicked state. Or.... it can be liberating.

In a live or die situation there can be an amazing clarity received, burdens that can be lifted, because here there is only one thing. Live.

Mentally, you apply a liberal dose of Rule #25 and you do what it takes to keep it.

So if you're cut off and the Calvary ain't coming then you go to them. That means getting mobile. Sooner or later you're just going to have to, and better to go by your own volition.

While there is never a clear cut answer to anything a mob or civil unrest does to a city, there is one thing you do know. Mobs are made up of individuals who at some point get tired and hungry. The day before they were leading a normal life just like you, so they aren't exactly rested up for the big event. Lulls have to happen at some point. They may not last long or be as quiet as you hoped for, but they will happen (usually a couple of hours before dawn). Don't be disillusioned into thinking that peace is restored its just a gap. And it maybe the gap before the real show starts. Be ready for it, and have your people ready to go.

Tell them to be ready to roll out when you and (a buddy) get back to the hotel.

Where are you going???

Stealing a car is not as difficult as you might think.

Backed into a corner where this becomes the only option to flee from a social meltdown the likely hood is that no one will care...or even notice.But you need to go about it intelligently. While there are several ways to go about hot wiring vehicles the two following are what I know work, thus I pass them along to you....for educational and nuclear meltdown purposes only. I could include a disclaimer here I suppose, but its implied. Besides with roughly over 1.2 million stolen cars (inside the U.S. alone), there aren't any big secrets here.

But understand where you are. Your about to commit grand theft auto so it better really be do or die. Because brother if its not, Bangkok has some real swell shit holes for jails and you can't dance, and you don't speak Thai (or muay either).


Rule 1 in obtaining vehicles without pre-approved permission. Stay away from something that is going to be missed (read:noticed). Trying to make down a muck-racked road with chickens all over in an E-Class gets you noticed (these don't float in lakes by the way). Where as a dented and scratched plain tan '91 Isuzu trooper found all over the world goes less noticed.

Think economy line vehicles (regardless of age). 1992 Cadillac DeVilles had integral key chip technology. So even older cars of luxury class can be a little more difficult to fire up. Base/Entry level vehicles are just that and tend to have fewer security features (if any) on them.

Work trucks, vans, shuttle buses, and taxis tend to be a little more loose in the ignition switch area from constantly being turned on an off. The same holds true for fleet vehicles and rental cars. They also tend to be more reliable than the average beater on the street, because of having in-house mechanics. Not to mention rows and rows of options.

Tow trucks sometimes have a book of master keys inside, not to mention tools, with the only thing separating you is a piece of glass. The nice option about this, is that it enables you to switch (and ditch) vehicles as need be.

Its worth mentioning that if you are moving a large group of people it maybe worth it to steal a shuttle bus or van for a few reasons. One is that it enables you all to stick together. They are also heavy vehicles that have good ramming potential (but a little more prone to being top heavy). Should you get caught by the the local police its a little easier to plead your case that you all are running for your lives (its as good a time as any to let those hysterical people cut loose with the crying too) and trying to get out. Yelling thank you over and over and telling him that he has saved you all doesn't hurt either.

And should it all go south and everyone get thrown in jail at least you won't be lonely.

The Second method is a little more involved, but a cordless drill a few smaller sized bits, a large and medium size flat head screw drivers should get you going.

They idea of forcing a flat head screw driver into the ignition and using it as a key to turn on the car is (allegedly) feasible, however if there are pins in the lock your hand isn't going to generate enough torque to break them and fire it up. In some cases though the cylinder can be popped out using a large flat head and then used to turn over the ignition (specifically a beautiful Black Jeep Cherokee 60th Anniversary Edition stolen on the same day Johnny Cash died, but I've moved on).

So as not to waste time position the drill on the keyhole about 2/3 of the way up and drill in about the length of a key. This destroys any lock pins and makes the key switch able to be turned on and off without a key. If the vehicle has pins in the ignition switch it has 2 sections of pins, followed by a spring, so drill it more than once, removing the drill each time to allow the bits of the lock inside to fall into place. Put the screwdriver in the same way you would a key (it doesn't have to go in deep because the pins are already broken) and turn.

It can also take any where from 1-10 minutes depending on your level of skill and luck. If it's not happening move on to the next vehicle, and then the next till you get one fired up. Once you are moving check the fuel level and if you don't have a full tank get one. Figure out if it takes gasoline or diesel too. If there aren't any petrol stations around you can always siphon gas from another tank (gas theft seems tame at this point doesn't it).

Get back to your people, get them loaded up and head out. Whether its to the border or the airport. Don't move any faster than the situation dictates. If you're fleeing driving fast is understandable, but otherwise keep it business as usual. Driving normal keeps you calm(er) and doesn't draw undesired attention.

When the time comes to ditch your vehicle reconnoiter the area (specifically airports and secured areas) for surveillance cameras. The last thing you want is to have your face matched with a stolen vehicle. Granted if the country has gone south its doubtful anyone is paying attention, but you need to maintain vigilance.

It will keep you sharp, alive and committed to rule # 25.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dark Arts for Good Guys: Where there's smoke

Despite what you may think about evacuating out of a city that has erupted into chaos there is actually a lot of waiting. Hours of it. The world is crashing down. Except where you are. Down the street people just like you are running for their lives while you sit in your room on the sixth floor drinking coffee. Waiting for the right time to bug out.

While thoughts of leaving the room under the cover of darkness hoping to knock someone with a gun in the head with that crowbar may dance in your head, the odds aren't in your favor.

That doesn't mean be idle. When you are outgunned you have to out think them. Thinking tactically is constructive. It keeps your mind from running wild and going into a panic mode. It also gives you a creative outlet to incite fear into your enemy. There comes a point when your defensive thinking has to become offensive thinking. Sometimes that is with a gun, but first and more often its with your head. A defensive mind set tells your soul "just let me live" a mind positioned in offense meets an enemy head on in the fight. That's called strategy.

Even when you are unarmed you can still cause fear in your enemy. In a terrorist attack on the general population everyone is a target. You want to make the bad guys go and attack someone else, either out of fear or from being to difficult to access.

This is what we call hard targeting.

The reality is people are going to die in the chaos from bad men.That is the unfortunate reality of evil. It doesn't really ever change its mind, only direction. You have to change their direction.

Suicide bombers are often portrayed as martyrs for their cause. The bravest of their sect willing to sacrifice their own lives. As a leader you don't send your best and brightest off in a vest full of C4 and ball bearings. Rather (like any cult) you look for the poor, the weak, the outsiders who have no purpose (canon fodder). Telling them that their families will be better off financially and they'll be Valhalla for the sacrifice.

Just to be sure after the vest is strapped on its not uncommon for someone to shoot a needle full of heroin into their arm to keep them calm (and a remote detonator handy in case any thoughts of self preservation kick in).

Self preservation comes from fear and everyone.....everyone experiences fear, self doubt and anxiety. Whether you are just a guy trying to get things done overseas or a Quarterback trying to win the Super Bowl. You focus on the task at hand to get you through and minimize any unnecessary risks that can lead to the getting killed. Regardless of who you are.

Bad guys are no different.

Terrorist as a whole maybe inflicted with bravery for the cause (or the riot) when they are in a pack where they can feed off each other. Isolated most are not brave rugged men, but twenty-somethings (or younger) plagued with doubt and insecurity. That doesn't make them any less dangerous, just unsure of themselves. You have to feed on the insecurity.

You're not trying to get them to flee the city, but you can deter them off your hotel floor and possibly the hotel even if you're not armed.

With the exception of firemen and a few other certifiable crazies who run into buildings to save lives, no one wants to die in a fire. If the un-shaved kid in the ski mask, camo jacket and carrying a banged up assault rifle looks up the stair well or down the hall and thinks the building is on fire, and that the infidels are going to die anyway he's probably not going to see a reason to get trapped in a burning building. In third world countries plenty of people die in building fires and its a terrifying prospect for anyone.

So if camp fire smoke will make you close your eyes and turn your head, a hallway full of big white smoke will make you run.

But you don't have to set the building on fire to create smoke. Smoke can be created in pretty substantial amounts from field expedient smoke "bombs" out of ordinary materials found in the hotel, if not your room.

Ammonium nitrate is a white crystalline compound (at room temp) found in fertilizer and explosives. Its also used in Instant Cold Compress/Cold packs you see sitting on the shelf at Wal-greens next to the ace bandages.

The cold pack has granules of Ammonium Nitrate rolling around inside along with a separate small pouch of water. When the ice pack is needed the bag is hit against something hard breaking the water pouch inside. The mixture creates an endothermic reaction (absorbing heat), forcing the packets temperature to fall to around 35 F for 10 to 15 minutes.

The same ammonium nitrate can be used to create a very billowy smoke "bomb".

Cutting open the main bag with out breaking the internal water pouch pour the crystals into a dried ice bucket (or mop bucket from the maintenance room usually located near the elevator).

Next add just enough water to the granules to get them to dissolve into a solution.Once the solution has dissolved take and fold individual pieces of newspaper into squares just big enough to fit the bottom of the bucket. You should be able to soak 3-4 folded sheets easily. Keep adding folded sheets of newspaper until the solution is completely absorbed and your sheets thoroughly soaked. Let the folded pages soak in the bottom of the bucket for ten minutes or so.

Next remove the sheets one at a time and lay them on a hard, flat, dry surface to dry. This will take a while but you can speed the process up by lightly (lightly) using a hair dryer or if the bathroom has a heat light, lay them on the floor with the light on. The sheets will be very fragile when wet so treat them with care.

After they have completely dried you are going to want to fold each page in a one-two inch fold from the top down until you have a kind of flat tube. Do this to each one. In order to keep the tube folded together you can either use tape or string (shoelaces or line from the curtains will work here), tightly together. You want to leave enough paper on the ends that the paper can easily be lit with a light or a match to get it burning/smoking.

Remember the goal here is to start smoke, not fire, so you can put a roll or two (or more if need more smoke) in the now dried ice bucket in the hall or stairwell and light them. Even if the bucket is plastic the burning paper shouldn't melt it (and its the least of your concern anyway), but if you must, put a wet towel under the bucket on the floor.

If your evac is by chopper off the hotel roof let your pilot know that you'll "pop" smoke to ID your position.

Its about using tools in a tool box to win. Winning is getting home. In a dire situation you can obsess over wanting or wishing you could have a gun, but there comes a point where you have to accept that its probably not going to happen. That's not to say give up. Be willing to out think and out move. If your mind can't get passed your finger on an absent trigger then you're no better set to get home than a suicide bomber. Mindset wins the day.

p.s. making "stuff" requires experimentation to get "it" right. Just like shooting.
Practice & experiment consistently.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dark Arts for Good Guys: Flight Plan

When the brain kicks into the Flight or Fight response (i.e. from an environmental stressor) your sensory cortex sends a signal to the brain stem. The instant your brain kicks out of homeostasis and into high gear, your alertness to the situation and the environment are more attuned than previous.

The longer or more intense and prolonged the situation is causes activation in the sypathetic region of your autonomic nervous system (This is how adreneline gets dumped into your system).

When this occurs your body physically responds in several ways. Pupils dialate, digestion of food in your stomach slows down or stops, there is an acceleration in your heart and breathing rate. Skin can go pale, flush or bounce back and forth. The mind and eyes get tunnel vision. This is why we threat scan. Rotating your head left to right pulls you from this and can save you from being blind sided.

The same holds true for not having a good plan to get out. While it may be very exciting to rush from the hotel and into a waiting car out front yelling "gogogogo!". To do so with no plan is tunnel vision.

If you find yourself in the middle of an attack fleeing is a good thing. It doesn't make you a coward, it makes you smart. You fight when you have no other option or it aids in your flight. But ultimately you have to realize this is someone else's problem to deal with in the bigger sense.

So how do you go about fleeing in a smart way. Unless your under immediate attack stay where you are and think it through.You have time. You may not have five hours, but you probably have a half an hour to an hour to brain storm and plan. In many cases longer.

The other thing you are going to have to do is lead. You may think its a given, but its one of the single biggest components missing in a crisis. When the shit has hit the fan there is no room for democracy. One person must lead and direct and the others must follow.

CCW classes teach about using shooting tactics and techniques, clearing holsters, and repeating the worn and increasingly untrue statement that most shootings happen at night with less than five shots fired inside seven yards. Very few are teaching students how to lead their people and/or families out of harms way.

Hang with me on this, because the immensity of leading a group, regardless of who they are in your life (co-workers or family), out of an extended hostile environment is far more important than the weapons cache you have in your room.

Someone is going to have to delegate and willingly assign tasks that may get people killed. As much as you might envision yourself in all sorts of heroic deeds it will take everyone working to get through it. If you are too much the people pleaser or don't want anyone hating you, your left with two choices, get someone else to lead or grow up.

Grow up.

Leading people out of a hell hole requires you to be smart, mentally strong, and willing. It also requires you to start learning how to do that before the shit hits the fan. Hollywood likes to show the meek man or woman suddenly rising to their feet from the corner telling everyone to shut up and listen and they suddenly are empowered with leadership skills. That is make believe.

Not sure.

Learning to lead is no different that learning to draw from a holster, going to the range for practice, or taking a martial arts class. You're not going to find out in a gunfight that you have these inherent skills for handgun shooting. Or that after years of dedicated couch potato'ing you can run a seven minute mile "because you have too". We train for reasons. Those reasons are to learn to do what it is we can not.

So what's the first thing you do as you look out from your hotel room at a newly battle scarred city and back at your co-workers? Realizing that you are all facing a local Armageddon?

Order room service.

Get everyone together and create an improtu command center. Set someone with the task of getting food and drinks together. Both for the immediate and the prolonged. Food reassures and calms people down. Subliminally it tells people that eating tonight means there is another sunrise coming and tonight is not their end. You also don't know when you may eat again.

First unofficial rule in Executive Protection: Eat whenever possible.

The second order of business. Remove anyone who is in the midst of panicking from the planning area. Even if its just to the next room. I simply can not stress this enough. People on the edge of losing or already losing it spread their panic onto everyone else.

IF you allow it.


It may sound harsh, but if you have to pick them up and remove them do it. Don't be abusive, don't scream, just remove them from the room.

Frankly these types don't provide solutions, they talk too much, put everyone on edge, and they soak up valueable time talking incessentnly and crying. Crying and screaming amidst a crisis is a monumnetal waste of time and energy.

I was once forced to duct tape a "client's" mouth shut to keep us both alive. It may not be an easy thing for you to do, but the whole prolonged ordeal is going to be full of things that aren't easy to do. Adapt.

Next assign (competent) team leaders. General rule of thumb. One leader for every five people. Why? Because that is the usual passenger size per vehicle. Should one car become separated in transit, they have leadership in place, reducing time in the "whose in charge in this car" panic conversation.

Get people working. If phone service is available get someone tasked with finding drivers (security spooks with combat driving experience is the best route), but as the city crumbles fore-hire-security will become less and less availabe and you may have to make do with what you get.

Assign someone to get maps of the city and if possible correlate with google-earth, and the television. Use all three to get square on where the worst of the trouble is and then work on navigating around it or out of it as the situation mandates. If you have nothing get on the roof and physically look for fires, flashing lights, smoke, and listen for gunshots. If Jaish-e-Mohammed are gunning down the peoples in the street its best to avoid them as much as possible.

If your final mode of transportation out is by plane learn what the security threat is to the airport. The last thing you want to do is spend seventeen hours fighting, running, ducking and hiding your way across a city to discover the airport is shutdown.

Most people never pay attention to it, but cities generally have two airports. The one you came in on and the one that the wealthy fly out of. Even small towns and villages have "airports" that maybe nothing more than puddle jump launchers, but they can get you out of the newest global hot spot for danger. Personally, stuck in the middle of a coup or terrorist attack I'm heading for the small private airport that isn't a target and probably doesn't have the military crawling all over the place.

There is also that "third" airport option that we'll look at in a coming article. That is the smugglers airport.

Have everyone get packed and be ready to move out. Surprisingly, you may actually be able to take everything you brought and bought out with you. You also want a "bug out" bag in everyone's lap as they ride. If you are forced to abandon vehicles everyone has their essential kit with them.

The point that has to be stressed here again is that, you aren't to do everything for everyone. The Wife and I have been married for four years and I still open her car door for her whether its going to the gym or a nice evening out. However, she is also an adult who is responsible for herself and in the midst of a crisis I expect her to function as such.

If you are forced to go down the hallway and around the corner with that Skorpion 61 jutted out front ready to shoot down those who oppose you, Sally from accounting can follow behind. But she's more than capable of being eyes at your six o'clock.

Julia Child may have authored seventeen cook books and made one hell of a soufflé but she was also in the OSS in WWII.

If you're in a place where you must hire drivers get them up to your command center (make sure they speak English) and have them go over the routes and get their input. If the say the routes are no good, ask them why. Specifically.They may have legitimate reasons for changing your plans, but ultimately they probably aren't as invested in getting you to the airport or border as you are. If they want to go different routes have them mark it on the map. Because the probability exists that your driver can get killed or bail out of the car the moment things get hairy. Take the drivers with you and inspect the vehicles yourself. Make sure there is air in the tires and the tank is full (not kidding), and that they are big enough.

Once your drivers are with you and you've gone over routes keep them with you. Tell them they are to only speak English (in as much as possible) and minimize their contact with anyone else outside your group(i.e. no chitty chat on the cell phone). You don't want them hand delivering you to the local chapter office of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (it happens all the time in Columbia and Mexico).

Should your driver get killed, leave, or simply freeze when the shooting happens, you are going to have to drive for some short period of time from the passenger seat. Hand on the wheel and foot over the console.

Its not hard just weird, and if you're here its the least "weird" thing that has happen so far.

Be flexible and understand that once moving all plans will shift, move or sometimes all together collapse. Its frustrating and maddening if you aren't willing to adapt as things happen.

Things will happen.

Thoughts on planning your Routes. Because you should plan more than two.


Our conversation had started with me asking “ So who shot you in the throat? ”, a basic conclusion on my part, b ecause on one sid...