A Request To All Current/Former NCOs And Other Small Unit Leaders


If you are willing to share your responses to the following scenario, please send your responses to wrsa@hushmail.com.

I’ll read, lightly edit (if needed), send back to you any changes for approval, and publish one per day per the guidelines (if any) you require over the next couple of weeks.

Responses will be accepted though 6 pm edt on 20 June. Make any assumptions you need to keep the scenario realistic (e.g, terrain, etc.), but state those assumptions and how your response would have changed had the facts been different.

The objective is to provide some experienced guidance on a situation many will face in the coming weeks, months, and years.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Scenario: The bad thing has happened, and you find yourself as senior person in a very mixed group of 15 men, women, and young people aged 10 through 72, all of whom are in various levels of physical condition. Note that while you have a few vets, you DO NOT have any Deltas, scout-snipers, or other operators – just a mixed bag of scared 21st-century Americans.

Arms, ammo, and gear are the expected mixed bag, and skill levels are unknown.

You expect pressure from remnant government forces, local predators (both single/small groups and larger, more organized bad-guy groups a la MS13), and international relief forces (who will disarm any ‘refugees’ they find and send them to ‘relief camps’). Food supplies are dwindling, and you have adequate but limited water purification resources. You assume overhead imagery via UAVs and sigint collection are still functioning for the government remnants and/or international forces, voice and data cell service is sporadic, all roads are significantly interdicted with fixed and rolling roadblocks, and POL is generally not available commercially due to the “emergency”.

What do you do, in detail, over the next:

– Three minutes
– Three hours
– Three days
– Three weeks
– Three months

Explain ‘why’ as well as ‘what’ you are doing, and when you would do other things.

85 responses to “A Request To All Current/Former NCOs And Other Small Unit Leaders

  1. Dov, since you called out my lil old lady……… all the ones I know could definitely farm without gasoline and a rototiller, a hoe works better anyway. My inlaws do this in the hills of Mexico now and its done by pure muscle. Some of them have never even seen a tractor and they grow enough corn to sell, its how they make their living. Best tortillas you ever had too. The little old lady would be directing this work eventually……but not immediately, she’ll need some planning time and as others pointed out, seeds.

    IMHO, food wouldn’t be the immediate concern ie 3 hours. Introductions, Water and Security has to be first. In the short term, under 3 months, don’t be in such a hurry to settle down because the tactical situation may be very nasty. You may be moving alot, depending on the security or water situation.

    For food in the short term, be ready for a steady diet of whatever you can get ie road kill. You can’t afford to be narrow minded on this if you are going to make it. Think the squirrel in the back yard, feral dogs and cats, possum, raccoon, fish etc. Lots of things thrive in the smaller cities. Here in OKC, we have tons of geese and ducks 9 months of the year, so a can of corn used as bait can get you a flock… a cast net would come in really handy here since where refrigeration isn’t available, best to get them alive. If one isn’t available, head shots with a 22 at close range on the ground aren’t very sporting, but they’ll keep you from going hungry. Fluffy might be in trouble too.

    The scenario needs more specifics on a few items, are you at your house with a garage full of tools or anyone else’s? What season is it? You are going to have to aquire basic tools somewhere, either by trade or borrowing from the local hardware store. A hammer, hovel crowbar, hoe etc… Interesting twist on the cell phones/data services working intermittently, IMHO they would be one of the first things shut off……to isolate everyone ie divide and conquer. Pretty easy to do too, but if they are working at all that means you can assume you are being tracked…..also easy to do.

    Also IMHO, any leadership role will be more like running a co-op, ie put in, get something out. You may be leading one day, following grandma’s orders the next. Authoritative types will be probably shot in the back immediately, so be diplomatic and private property must be respected. Common hand tools may become community property, but noone is attached to a hammer or shovel like they are grandpa’s shotgun or their ammo. The only time anyone needs to follow orders exactly is during an attack, so don’t micromanage until you have to. Trust in your leadship takes time, unfortunately you don’t have that here.

    A US wide EMP terrorism event/solar flare with Russian/Chinese peacekeepers would be a pretty likely scenario. all they would need to do is wait a year after the lights went out and we wouldn’t have the numbers. Another possibility is our lovely Oh Man! declaring Marshal Law for some “emergency” post election to cancel the result. Open the switchgear or “hit the off switch” at Niagra,Hoover and TVA for a couple of days and you could create the emergency easily too. Either way, I wouldn’t plan on having electricity or comms unless it is truly your own.

  2. I also find it interesting how many say “what me lead this bunch of losers”.

    The life you save may be your own.

  3. Imagine in this scenario that I revealed I had Absolved’s boxcar of WWII weapons. You wouldn’t let me keep it. You wouldn’t even think of letting me keep it, or sell it piecemeal for all the market would bear. The thought wouldn’t even cross your mind. You’d steal it “for the greater good”, with you as administrator, of course. You veterans from the Statist Generation jump for the bigger communism every time.

    How about that as a rat trap for commies? A rumor of a shipping container of weapons and drugs, but empty with a big IED inside. The survivors will whine that it’s entrapment.

  4. Prairie Fire

    To Anon with the Boxcar of cool stuff: You’re wrong. You’d have the overnight time after the “little speech” to think through your commitment to the tribe/gaggle/target. Then, come morning, you’d get your chance to push your boxcar down the track by your ownself, unimpeded.

    I wonder what it is that you don’t get, about making a decision to voluntarily submit yourself and your stuff to authority greater than your own, if the decision to do so would lend a greater chance of you staying above the grass for a few more months. If your choice is “no”, then push your boxcar down the road, go in peace, and keep your worldview intact. The gaggle of fifteen in the scenario has let you keep both your boxcar and your ideas, and has let you go in peace. Maybe you can flog the boxcar’s cool stuff down the track somewhere, if somebody else doesn’t relieve you of its contents, first. Just a hint: the contents, and you, might not survive people less nice than the tribe which gave you the choice of stay or leave.

    “,,, veterans of the Statist Generation”. That is a new term for me, as you Anon use it. I’ve been under the impression that statism has known no generational lines. It’s been bad folks versus those from whom they try to force submission, for quite a few centuries now.

  5. Not to pile on Anon, but I agree with Prairie Fire. You want to be one your own, you will be, no team will have you. If you think it will help you much, you’ll be very suprised how limited you are by yourself. Hope you aren’t planning on sleeping. Communism or Facisim are both soon to be obsolete ideas, tribilism is going to come roaring back as the world of limited resources enlarges. There isn’t enough of everything to go around and the younger generation is ill prepared for the challenges ahead, either conceptually or intellectually. Much like the fall of Rome, the four horsemen will ride for a long time once the center breaks loose. I suggest you read Asimov’s Foundation series, the borders are the same as the galatic periphery. We may be Rome’s last legionaires, but alot of us have seen firsthand what happens when things break down ie Bosnia. Better pick your tribe in a hurry. Good luck, you’re really going to need it.

  6. “Do any of you have even the slightest bit of optimism? Is there any chance at all that enough good folks will awaken , survive destroy enough Bad People and build something worth having through the coming tribulations?”

    “If not… what are you preparing to survive FOR? We’re all going to die of something, sometime……”

    When I wrote that post above, I was trying to suggest that, without the hope of a better tomorrow, absent a belief that the present danger, suffering and struggle would result in a chance for a decent life for our children or grandchildren, folks will not be able to carry on. “Unit cohesion” will be very difficult to achieve and maintain.

    So, I repeat…. What are you surviving FOR? If you can’t convey a positive vision, if you don’t believe in and can’t sincerely communicate a plausible hope for the future, you’re all as good as dead anyway.

    Hopelessness, despair, defeat and death are inevitable, especially for the unprepared.

    Leadership is about more than organization and giving rational orders.

    Jon III

  7. Then, come morning, you’d get your chance to push your boxcar down the track by your ownself, unimpeded.

    That possibility is as mythical as every other claim of limited government. Most of the readers here have been voting all their lives to tax-fund American military adventures overseas. If a Bad Thing happens they won’t suddenly become libertarians. I won’t assume magic happens just because somebody wants it in a scenario.

    Just a hint: the contents, and you, might not survive people less nice than the tribe which gave you the choice of stay or leave.

    I’ve heard that phrased in movies as : “Nice liddle store you have here, be a shame if something wudda happen to it”.

    Statist Generation is a play on Tom Brokaw’s term Greatest Generation.

    JohnInOKC, piling on is fine, I’m here to learn. Earth geographic borders are nonsense, Asimov’s Foundation had space travel already. All the volume humans could imagine to expand into is just 100 miles away from everywhere (straight up). SpaceX proves that building an orbital rocket only takes a few hundred employees nowadays. There is more than enough of everything to go around. Resource depletion is nonsense, with the possible exception of fossil water under the American Midwest. Global warming is nonsense. Peak Oil does not mean Peak Energy. The continental US has 200 years of coal buried in it, and the Thorium in the coal has 10 times more energy than the coal. Solar on the roof will power a house. Technology allows humans to do more with less, the next turn of the crank of industrial revolution will feed all the world’s hungry.

    oughtsix, does that answer your optimism question? Aside from this irritating little problem that human nature prefers fascism, today is the best time to be alive in all of recorded history.

  8. Last time I checked nuke require alot of resources we simply just don’t have and regional stability, which is getting to be less not more. I’m a EE by trade so I pay attention to thse trends. It could work, but given that the states is essentionally bankrupt at all levels, most importantly intellectually I just don’t see it. Too many &*$#@@#% iPhones Solar will work, but not anywhere near the scale that we are used to here in the 1st world. Petroleum flow rates are decreasing and coal mines use alot of diesel. Suggest you research “net energy” which basically states that to be worthwhile, you have to get more than you put in or Return on Investment (ROI). These will be alot of coal and oil left in the ground because of this, it just won’t be economical. In the beginning fo the oil age, ROI was atleast 50 to 1 and the reason that Texas has so many old rich oil men. Now most of it is in the middle east and its no great secret they don’t like us very much. They are also having to expend more energy during production. Saudi Arabia has been pumping oil for 60 years, think about it. Texas rolled over in 72 and has never been the same. Do your really think we’d be out in the gulf or North Slope if it was easy? Offshore platforms are about the same monstrosity as a nuke plant. Agreed, global warming is nonsense, but resource constraints happen to everyone. Bin Laden would have done alot more damage if he would have waited and dropped a few oil tankers into the Atlantic in 2005 after Katrina. Complex systems are NOT inherently stable, quite the opposite. Live has never been quite a delicate balancing act as it is now. Alot of things have to go right since between efficiancy and redundancy,companies have had to chose efficiency due to low cost competition. Next time you pass a substation, look at the transformers, most are atleast 50 years old and are currently made on the other side of the world (Germany Japan maybe, definitly China). If we lose a bunch at the larger power plants that I mentioned previously, there will be no replacements coming any time soon and then there goes the neighborhood. Technology isn’t going to be the answer, if anything its making us dumber. Just ask your next cashier to calculate change or sales tax manually. Someone has to develop that technology and most of them are on the other side of the world too.

    The states is uniquely vunerable because we have a 1st world standard of living that we no longer earn by making things, a population that believes its entitiled, and a ton of farmland the chinese would probably like to repo. All small tribes have a cheif, but if they are too autocratic/stupid etc they do get replaced, which actually is an improvement over the current political situation. You are confusing the idea of government with what may be more like a pirate ship. Everyone works, contributes ideas and everyone profits If noone trusts the captian, then he is summarily replaced after being shot. The next one is then elected. Very democratic in comparison to the large scale arrangments.

  9. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. — H. L. Mencken

    Last time I checked nuke require alot of resources we simply just don’t have

    Who is “we”? Don’t confuse the bankruptcy of governments and their fascist corporate partners with a lack of physical resources.

    Petroleum flow rates are decreasing and coal mines use alot of diesel. Suggest you research “net energy” which basically states that to be worthwhile, you have to get more than you put in or Return on Investment (ROI). These will be alot of coal and oil left in the ground because of this, it just won’t be economical.

    200 years of coal in the ground, chemical conversion of coal to replace oil products is 100 year old technology. Non-problem.

    Do your really think we’d be out in the gulf or North Slope if it was easy?

    The commies have banned extraction from easier locations. Don’t confuse government pronouncements/analysis with good advice.

    [Life] has never been quite a delicate balancing act as it is now.

    The threat of human famine which was present for all of recorded history has finally been overcome. We know how to have both clean waterways and industry. The only remaining big threat is government. Once government is kicked to the curb by Bitcoin/Silk road etc, the entire middle class worldwide will be independently wealthy. The US income tax was invented because productivity from the industrial revolution was going to make middle class independence happen 100 years ago.

    Next time you pass a substation, look at the transformers, most are atleast 50 years old and are currently made on the other side of the world (Germany Japan maybe, definitly China). If we lose a bunch at the larger power plants that I mentioned previously, there will be no replacements coming any time soon and then there goes the neighborhood.

    100 years ago it was a life work’s achievement for Starrett to bring the combination square tool to market. Today CNC mills can be bought turnkey for $4,000. I know audiophile homebuilders who have drawn their own copper wire. See that youtube recently about handcrafting vacuum tubes? The capacity to produce industrial results in your garage is growing like never in history. I am not worried that humans in North America will lose the ability to wind a transformer. The commies have regulated US heavy industry to death, but that’s an entirely different problem.

    Just ask your next cashier to calculate change or sales tax manually.

    The cashiers can look forward to being bumped to housekeeping jobs by the self-scan until they get replaced by robots by Honda. I don’t feel bad about them, the cost of self-improvement is now cheaper than it has ever been. Khan Academy means a college education is available to anybody that simply bothers to show up and watch the free videos.

  10. LMOA, you are either increadibly young or naive. The low hanging fruit has been picked, we’re not running out, its just that everything will get more expensive from here on out unlike in the industrial revolution where things continously got cheaper. Yes, CNC mills can be bought that cheap, but once the currency crisis gets underway, good luck getting spare parts…you will need them at that price. Between lean manufacturing and JIT, there is no stockpiles to be had. I work with CNC, things made only 5 years ago face obsolescence every day. Because of that, they aren’t made to last either. One DSP gets changed and now the control parts aren’t compatible And if you think you are going to power a mill with solar array for any length of time, you’ve obviously never done any load calculations. Not to mention trying to make the processors. Drawing your own copper wire, ancient Egyptions were doing that. Not exactly difficult. Vacum tubes? Warms my ham radio heart, but guys have been doing this 100 years, not exactly a lost art since ham radio has made the effort to keep this technology alive and its better suited to transmitter finals with mismatched antennas. You have any idea how many of those things you’ll need to drive a CNC mill?

    How long do you really think you are going to be able to maintain surface mount components when even the factories throw the boards away half the time. Back shop has long since gone out of business. Used to be able to get your TV/VCR repaired on the corner, not anymore. Even the PC guys can’t repair anything, its all too damn small. Only able to be assembled by robots and any type of machine tool requires alot of electricity, not to mention all the raw materials. Now the mills from the 50s and 60s, they’ll last a 1000 years with proper care, but all of them chew up cutting tools if you are doing steel. You’re going to make tool steel in your backyard eh? It could be done, but it would take you about 10 years to get it right. Try staying alive while doing that in a war zone. Oh and dig up your own coal too. It will be a long walk.

    We’re not running out, just on the wrong side of the bell curve for most materials so there will be less and less every year meaning prices are going to keep going up. The G is doing all they can to assist inflation because, well we don’t make anything so there isn’t any money coming into the country except for what wall streeet can steal. So they give away money to try and keep a lid on things while they still can. Unfortuantely, crooks are creative and they are stealing it as fast as it can be printed hoping to get out of dodge before shtf. Currency crisis changes everything because noone wants what the other guys has. Why should arabs give away their oil for paper when they can use it for water? Why should coal miners in WV go to work when they aren’t getting paid in anything worthwhile. Its all about something of value and Bitcoin isn’t any better than the dollar, just a digit in a computer that disappears when the power is out.

    Unlike some of the other guys here, I haven’t seen the elephant, but I’ve seen what the elephant leaves behind ie Sarajevo after the Dayton accords. Law of the jungle takes over and its your tribe against the world and all that liberal, commie, Nazi, facist, “common good” crap goes away and its wolf pack against wolf pack. Best wolf pack is family, but with complete strangers it can happen too with trust. There is always an lead alpha though, could be the meanest, could be the smartest, but the post will be earned by respect not given away which is where this scenario falls down. Challenge the whole group, bad things are going to happen. Don’t expect people to want to “buy” things from you when their kids are starving. You’re alone and they aren’t, hmmm wonder how that works out. 2 weeks without power and any 1st/2rd world country will fall apart (or start to. Europeans are docile..for now) 3rd world might not notice unless they were expecting a UN food shipment.

  11. The low hanging fruit has been picked, we’re not running out, its just that everything will get more expensive from here on out unlike in the industrial revolution where things continously got cheaper.”

    Look at this faster-than-exponential growth curve starting back in 1900, it doesn’t show any sign of leveling off into the logistical function you predict it has:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PPTMooresLawai.jpg also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity

    This guy http://unreasonablerocket.blogspot.com is flying model rocket engines that were rapid-prototyped in stainless steel for a few $K. Higher end processes do jet engine turbine blades with internal cooling passages in titanium. I am so not seeing how the low handing fruit has all been picked. The CNC you work with goes obsolete in one PC generation because technological progress is quickening. This is what everything getting cheaper looks like, the old stuff isn’t worth repairing.

    And if you think you are going to power a mill with solar array for any length of time, you’ve obviously never done any load calculations.

    With panels made from the cheaper thin film roll-processed stuff. This company is shipping:

    http://www.nanosolar.com

    You have any idea how many [vacuum tubes] you’ll need to drive a CNC mill?

    Several dozen, removed from microwave ovens. These will be used for transmitter finals with mismatched antennas. Pointed outward, in a ring. Meanwhile, the hobby scale CNC inside will run on a PC bought from whoever is making them this quarter. Engineers in the US can still produce value that buyers in other countries want. If inflation with a currency goes too high, trade will happen in a different currency. The currency crisis will mostly halt unproductive activity that could only be funded by taxes. Coal miners and farmers still have every reason to trade that they did before. There is no need to have a government or its debt-based currency in the middle of trade, draining off the profit.

    If the USA really turns into a war zone, I will move to a first world country and read about the war on the web. But I’m not really expecting that. Montreal went 5 weeks without power during an ice storm, and nothing bad happened. Towns in the Midwest get wiped out by tornados and people pull together. I think the fears of zombie apocalypse have been exaggerated.

    • My apologies in not replying sooner, but my 3 weeks of vacation did not include a PC, …… on purpose.

      I live in the midwest, and let me assure you that after the latest round of tornados, there were indeed looters, both in Joplin and OKC. We are heavily armed here so things don’t get out of hand, a la New Orleans.
      BTW, I’ve never looked at the schematic of a microwave oven, but the subject is part of the Ham extra exam, I’m taking at the end of the month. Those aren’t regular tubes you’re looking at…suggest you look up magnetron, its a very highly tuned special purpose tube. Not much good for a switch or amplifier. Moore’s law is reaching its limit too. Singularity is another ivory tower idea that doesn’t really translate to the real world.

      The main problem with any EMP type energy burst, is not just the substation power transformers, but that ALL PN juctions plugged in will be toast too. Modern life depends very much on those small chunks of silicon and germainum. This type of thing has happend before and will happen again. In addition, the IEA has all but acknowledged that we are on the backside of Hubbert’s curve.

      So we all have to be prepared for a rough road ahead. Here’s a well thought out link on EMP/solar. You have alot to learn. Good luck, we are all going to need it.

      http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/A-Look-at-the-Devastating-Impact-a-Solar-Storm-Could-Have-on-Society.html

  12. Anon, last two posts above:

    “oughtsix, does that answer your optimism question?”

    Not even slightly. Plus two to John in OKC.

    Here to learn. Anon? Just been schooled.

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  16. a common enemy or challenge…. be it cannibals, hunger, the cold, foreign invaders etc. will create a metaphor fostering the willingness for some (the rational-thinking) to coalesce and agree to a rank structure for their own sake.