Learning from Insurgent Tactics: The “Hide n’ Glide”

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Since the War in Afghanistan and Iraq began, we have seen a multitude of different “insurgent” tactics come to light, the most notable (and deadly) ones being the use of the IED and VBIED (Vehicle Born IED’s) in ambushes, booby-traps and suicide attacks. But as far as actual ground tactics the enemy uses, there has been very little input from soldiers in the field. This is most likely because the typical insurgent has no “tactics” to speak of and if they do, they are typically sloppily executed. This does not always mean however that insurgents in both theaters of combat have not been successful in their attacks, as I am sure many veterans can attest.

One of the cornerstones of Insurgent or Guerilla Warfare is the ability of the fighter to not be easily identified and be able to “blend” in with the populace. This can be seen very clearly in the fight against the Taliban. A tactic the insurgents have developed to exploit this advantage is the “hide and glide” where weapons are cached in certain “convenient” areas and when coalition troops pass by, the insurgents then proceed to open fire on the troops (either by a one man sniper attack or a semi-coordinated ambush) the insurgents then re-hide the weapon and blend in with the locals. As a Counter-measure, very often U.S. Patrols will single out, search and if needed, detain “fighting age” males (typically ages 16-45) when entering populated  areas because of this. This may seem like a trivial way to fight a war and insignificant in the big scheme of things, but if the insurgents can inflict at least one casualty a day, that is one more soldier or “infidel” not fighting them.

We have to understand that Guerilla warfare depends mostly on the insurgents ability to be able to constantly “harass” the enemy and to wear them down mentally. Since its inception, this breed of war has always been about attrition rather than outright victories on the conventional battlefield. As in Vietnam, the enemy knows that the more soldiers who come home in coffins, the less popular the war will be at home, and in doing so, will create political pressure to end the war.

The CO therefore can learn two primary skill-set’s from this example:

Weapons Caching

Weapons Caching has 3 primary benefits:

  1. To keep weapons, ammo and supplies hidden and out of enemy hands
  2. To keep weapons from having to be carried on the person. Very often, CID (counter-insurgency doctrine) will dictate multiple security checkpoints that require full body searches. This is done to restrict freedom of movement and the transport of arms.
  3.  To offer a  tactical advantage in combat operations, specifically ambushes, as we have already shown.

There are  a variety of ways to “cache” weapons, the most fundamental of course is hiding several weapons intact in several different unorthodox locations. As mentioned above, this is the obvious solution to counter-insurgency doctrine that seeks to LIMIT the freedom of movement of insurgents, thereby limiting them from transporting arms on their person or in large shipments.The other method is to hide weapons is in pieces at several different locations. In other words, the barrel in one place, the receiver in another, etc. The IRA and the PLO operated in this fashion for many years. This may appear goofy at first glance and very impractical, but we have to remember that during these conflicts, the penalty  for just possessing a firearm was death, so great care had to be taken to ensure the weapon could be hid well.

Another layer of protection groups like the IRA practiced was “compartmentalizing” each task of an operation so only a unified team could complete the task assigned. A typical team consisted of the driver, shooter,  surveillance man and the quartermaster. The driver knew the destination, the shooter, the target, the surveillance man, all pertinent intel such as the layout of the ambush site, escape routes, police/military patrol schedules, The target’s habits and routines, etc. Finally, the “quartermaster” was in charge of dismantling, packing and hiding the firearm parts accordingly. He and he alone knew where the gun parts were hidden.

 

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Becoming The “Gray Man”

Not drawing attention to oneself through his actions or his clothing is often considered by many in the “survivalist” world to be one of the key skills to extending life in a hostile world. Besides giving the CO the edge in terms of tactical surprise, when we consider how this meshes with the “Hide and Glide” this is definitely a skill-set the CO needs to have in his tool box.

One of the key ways to “blend” with the crowd and not create any STIMULUS (ie to draw attention to oneself and your actions) is for the CO to SANITIZE their wardrobe.

  • Avoid “tacti-cool” clothing that screams GUN NUT!
  •  Avoiding any logo type clothing which may instigate a conversation (NRA, Sports Teams)
  • Avoid camouflage or military type clothing, including unit insignias
  • Avoid wearing combat boots
  • Avoid any jewelry that is distinctly military (dog tags, class rings)

I am not going to get mired down in what type of clothing the CO should wear, but suffice to say that everyday, age appropriate, conservative type clothing is best. To qualify this point, I can remember one time coming back home from a hunting trip and me and 3 other friends got stopped for speeding. I was driving, it was late and everybody including myself were still in our hunting camo. After taking my license and insurance, the officer immediately asked “Do you have any guns in the vehicle?” Now this is not to say after the typical “drug interdiction” questioning officers ask (we were on a major interstate late at night) such as “Where you coming from?” and “Where are you going?” the officer after deducing we were hunters, would not have asked about guns, but camouflage is a big red flag the CO can avoid if he wants to go “gray”.

Conducting some preliminary recon and scouting of the area to know what specific types of people and clothing will be around is a good ideal.  For example, is there any construction going on near the AO? If so, men with hard hats and safety vest may be a common sight in the area, and common is good. For you history and conspiracy buffs, you will remember the Kennedy Assassination, and how it was theorized that several teams of shooters were placed at key point along the parade route. One of these teams was placed directly behind the “grassy knoll” area where there was a rail yard. Eyewitnesses remember a group of “railroad workers” by the fence where the fatal head shot came from. Coincidence? The jury is still out on that one.

The other concern is not having any incriminating evidence on you (or your vehicle) in the event you are stopped and searched by authorities. Most people would think since you do not have the gun, you would be in the clear, but this is false. When one thinks of evidence of a crime, one automatically things of HARD, PHYSICAL evidence, such as a weapon, ammunition cartridge casings or any equipment that could have been used to commit the said crime (such as a burglary suspect having a lock-picking kit, gloves, etc.). It goes without saying that properly disposing of these things are necessary and have to be done properly, but in the era of forensics and DNA you have to be smarter and go deeper to cover your tracks.

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The IRA and the PIRA (Provisional IRA) prosecuted most of their attacks against British Military and Law Enforcement through Static and Mobile Sniper Hides. As the British got more aware to these tactics, the shooters had to get more and more creative in how they covered their tracks, in the book Fry the Brain (pp. 9-19) John West goes into great detail how a PIRA sniper detachment executed a “Hide and Glide” operation and the forensic precautions they took to avoid being caught. The following were the items listed in the “cleaner” bag the detachment had.

  1. Cheap plastic raincoat or nomex suit to provide outer barrier
  2. Leather gloves over Latex gloves
  3. Nylon Balaclava followed by a female nylon stocking on top to seal against gunpowder contamination
  4. Alcohol wipes to clean forehead, face, neck and hands of gunpowder residue
  5. Q-Tips moistened with alcohol to clean ears and nostrils of gunpowder residue

It should be mentioned that great care should be taken for these items to not be discovered prior to of after the event has taken place (burn them!). Just like a cop finding burglary tools during a traffic stop, it kind of shows your intent!

In next week’s installment we will discuss the actual planning and execution of the Insurgent Ambush and show some practical applications for the CO.

Until then, Stay Frosty, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

 

 

The “Practical not Tactical” CO Sniper Rifle

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In a previous article entitled “The 5 Gun Theory I expounded on the logic of the CO owning at least 5 types of firearms in order to be adequately prepared to survive and defend himself adequately. One of those guns was a .30 Caliber scoped bolt-action or semi-auto rifle to be used for hunting and sniper work. It is that gun and the training that goes with it that we are going to discuss.

Now since the driving mantra behind the Civilian Operator Lifestyle is “Practical not Tactical”, I wanted to explore a subject which is not really talked about much in most “Sniper” or “Precision Rifle” training courses, and that is for the EVERYDAY CIVILIAN, what type of rig and training is the most realistic and practical for what that CO will most likely be doing with the weapon system? Just to be clear: This is not a rifle for shooting steel gongs and paper and impressing your buddies at the range.

TRAINING

You see, most all weapon training courses, whether you are talking about Handgun, Assault Rifle, Shotgun or Long Range Rifle are typically approached from either a Law Enforcement and sometimes a Military Training approach/method. Now depending on the trainer and his expertise, this can be made to work for most weapon systems, because MOST OF THE TIME the skill-sets transfer and are applicable. For example, with a Handgun, as long as the trainer integrates specific civilian-type carry issues and scenarios, it works.

This is not the case with Sniper training. As a civilian, if you are picking up a sniper rifle, you are picking it up as a GUERILLA SNIPER, not a Law Enforcement or even a Conventional Military Sniper. This demands and calls for a unique tradecraft that has no parallels in conventional type training. The CO CANNOT AFFORD to waste his time sharpening skills that are not applicable to his particular tradecraft. For example, WHY waste the time and money attempting to hit targets at 1,000 yds, when the farthest shot you will most likely have to make as a GUERILLA SNIPER will be under 400 in an urban environment most likely? Yeah, 1,000 yd and 1 Mile shots are fun to watch on You-Tube, and for the Military Operator in dirka-dirka A-Stan who is packing a $12,000+ Rifle and Scope, this may be a typical shot, but for the CO GUERILLA SNIPER, who is operating in his own backyard in TX or wherever, it makes much more sense to prepare to make closer, higher percentage shots, as this will most likely be the scenario he faces. For more on Guerilla Sniping  check out Fry the Brain by John West.

 

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RIGS

We have to remember that as a Guerilla Sniper, the CO has to RE-DEFINE the meaning of what a “Sniper Rifle” can be. Now as John West elaborates in his book Fry the Brain, anything from a Ruger 10/22 to a Stock AR-15 CAN BE USED as a “SNIPER RIFLE”, it just depends on the situation. For our cause however, a scoped .30 Caliber is the most practical choice, for the primary reasons that this will (or can be)  a duel use gun (man killing and hunting for meat) and no better caliber exist for those 2 task. For those of you that think the two worlds of hunting and sniping cannot cross over and mesh, I direct you to two historical points. The First is Carlos Hathcock, one of the deadliest Marine Snipers to ever walk the face of the Earth with 93 Confirmed kills. One of Carlos’s first rifles was a stock Winchester Model 70 .30-06 topped with a 8x Unertl Scope. The Second is Charles Whitman, the UT Tower Sniper ( Another Marine). Whitman killed 16 and wounded 32 in 1966 during one of the most violent college campus shooting spree’s until Virginia Tech in 2007. Whitman’s primary rifle that day was a Remington 6mm with a 4x Scope, in which he made kill shots out to 500 yds.

Now I am not about to open up the eternal can of worms which begins with the idiotic phrase:”Buy this rig because it is better than that rig…”. What I am going to do is present to you that you DO NOT need to take out a 2nd mortgage on your house or risk divorce to have a decent Sniper rig.

Now before I continue, I want to address the fact that there is a HUGE amount of “gun snobbery” out there when it comes to precision, long-range rifles. There is the “custom” crowd, who maintains only a custom tube can give you the accuracy you need to be considered a “SNIPER” (BS!!) There is the “modification” crowd, who absolutely love to talk triggers, sears, scopes, barrel twist and ballistics. Typically their snobbery has to do with BRANDS of after market parts. Now all these things are fine as HOBBIES, but contrary to popular opinion, there is only a certain degree of accuracy the CO sniper rifle needs (minute of man versus minute of a fly’s ass). As I said before, we are NOT building a TARGET RIFLE, but.a MAN KILLING and HUNTING RIFLE. Like I said PRACTICAL is our aim here!

So as far as the rifle goes, no “off the shelf” gun manufacturing company has went further to offer the average, everyday joe civilian more practical bang for his buck than Savage Arms.  Speaking from experience, I personally don’t think you can find a better out of the box, off-the-shelf bolt action rifle than their Model 11/111 Long Range Hunter. Although they have many caliber choices for this model, (including the ever-popular, but uber-overkill .338 Lapua Mag) the venerable .308,  .300 Win Mag and .300 WSM are awesome choices for the CO Sniper. My reasoning for not choosing the .338 Lapua (or the .50 BMG for that matter) goes back to the “practical not tactical” thing; it is simply TOO MUCH GUN for what the CO would typically need. Add to this the exorbitant cost of ammunition, and you have all the reasons you need. I mean seriously, why own a weapon that you could only afford to shoot maybe a few times a year and by “shoot” I mean 5-10 rounds at a time! The CO needs a weapon system he can shoot plentifully, because precision rifle work requires trigger time, lots of trigger time, and choosing a caliber that handicaps that is just stupid. Now if you want to buy a .50 BMG or .338 Lapua or .416 Barrett for the simplest and most basic of all reasons, because you can and it’s currently LEGAL TO OWN, then by all means! But let’s be clear on our reasoning before we jump off that cliff!

So let’s talk scopes. Now this is the area where the “gun snobs” really love to flaunt, and unfortunately, in this area, they are right to a degree. A Precision rifle CANNOT CONSISTENTLY be precise with INFERIOR GLASS. No Way, No Day. I don’t know if any of you have tried to cut corners with the cheaper scopes and experienced the frustration of the scope not being able to hold zero, and floating all over the paper, but I will tell you, it can, at the end of the day, make you want to cry. And though there is no cutting corners in this area, there is finally a compromise. A Scope that offers you the full benefits of the higher priced glass but at reasonable “CO prices “check out Lucid Optics. In a recent article from Guns AmericaLucids L5 Model is put through the paces, and although the distances are a bit much for what the CO would realistically need, nevertheless, the scope proves it’s metal without breaking the bank!

So there it is in a nutshell guys. I know it was brief, but I intend to do some more intensive, more specific articles in the future on sniping to help you guys along on your journey. Until then…….

Stay Practical, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!