Forward Observer Special Operations Imperatives for Preparedness, Part Two

Discussion in '3 Percent' started by melbo, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Last week, we posted Special Operations Imperatives for Preparedness numbers 1-6. Here’s the link to catch up.

    7. Anticipate and Control Psychological Effects

    Any operation conducted, by any organization within the UW battle space, will have significant psychological impacts. Whether combat operations or civic actions, these can be conducted specifically to produce desired psychological effects, or simply result in the effects. A tactical victory over regime forces may be completely overshadowed by the negative psychological impact of blowing up a school bus of children in the process. The tactical victory of assassinating a key local security forces leadership personality can be destroyed if you murder his wife and kid in the process. The recognition of the fact that perception is more important than reality is absolutely critical to the resistance force. Leaders and planners must make certain that operations and operational objectives are understood by all parties impacted by the operation. Loss of control of the perceptions of the civilian populace will allow the regime to control those perceptions, and that will quickly destroy the gains of even the best-planned and executed you missions. We’ve spent twenty years in the preparedness movement and the militia movement, allowing the media to control the civilian population’s perceptions of what the militia is. Instead of continuing to let the media portray (sometimes accurately, unfortunately), the preparedness culture as a bunch of fat-ass rednecks with GEDs, we need to be making a more concerted effort to not only portray ourselves as contributing members of society, in a positive light, but an active PSYOP/IO campaign to get that message out to the general population.

    8. Apply Capabilities Indirectly

    Doctrinally, the primary role of Special Forces in UW is to advise, train, and aid resistance forces. The resistance leadership must assume primary authority and responsibility for the success or failure of this combined effort. This indirect control of the resistance reinforces the legitimacy and credibility of the resistance movement, rather than allowing them to be seen as “puppets” of the “Great Satan.”

    For the resistance itself, it is imperative that local defense groups be allowed the autonomy to provide for their own defense, as much as possible. Well-trained, organized, and disciplined resistance cadre should serve more as an advisory element, leading the training of local defense groups. These cadres should not view themselves as special-purpose assault forces, intending to conduct direct-action missions against regime targets in outside operational areas, unless absolutely necessary, and even then, only in direct support of locally-conducted main effort operations. Let people fight their own fights. Instead of trying to use your group or militia unit to provide all the security for an entire county or state, look at them as force multipliers. Don’t settle for “good enough to get the job done, if the threat we face isn’t too dangerous” training standards. Set your standards high enough that, when necessary, you can TEACH the skills to others, who can form their own community defense groups, with your people as leaders and advisers. Don’t just watch YouTube videos, or just take a class. Take the information you’ve learned, sit down and write a class on it, then teach it to someone. Teaching skills serves multiple purposes. Number one, it helps you learn how to teach. Do you know how to teach adults with different learning styles? Do some research into adult education theory and science. Number two, it forces you to gain a more in-depth understanding of the subject matter. As a young Ranger, I had a pretty solid grasp on the fundamentals of individual and small-unit combat skills. As a junior NCO in the Regiment, I learned more, as I was responsible for teaching my subordinates. As a Special Forces NCO, whose job was to teach people these skills, who had never even seen them displayed, I gained a far greater understanding. Teach and you will learn.
    9. Develop Multiple Options

    Resistance leaders and planners must remain aware, throughout the planning and execution, of the possibility of adverse contingencies and follow-on missions as a direct result of intelligence information gleaned from their mission. Maintain operational and tactical flexibility by visualizing and developing a broad range of options and conceptual plans. Partisans should take advantage of the broad range of non-military expertise inherent within their organizations to think outside of the box, allowing them to shift from one option to another, before or during mission execution. Whether you are planing a security patrol, a relief or rescue convoy, a food-gathering expedition, or a bug-out plan, always consider and develop a PACE plan. Primary, Alternate, Contingencies, and Emergency versions of the plan will provide you multiple options if things go haywire with your plan.
    10. Ensure Long-Term Sustainment

    Leaders and planners must make every effort to avoid training their forces in tactics, techniques, and procedures that the unit(s) are incapable of sustaining. Whether due to a lack of material resources, human terrain factor limitations, or physical incapacity to execute, TTPs must be able to be modified to negate the threat that is actually faced, with the assets actually available, rather than focusing on strict doctrinal answers that demand inflexible application of resources unavailable to the resistance elements. Training must focus on TTPs and equipment that are durable, consistent, and sustainable by the resistance movement elements, within their operational environment.

    I get asked questions about this a lot, in regards to both ammunition expenditure and medical care protocols. The medical care protocols of TC3 are all about keeping the casualty alive until you can get him to extended/advanced care. Having a doctor, nurse, or veterinarian in your network is pretty essential to long-term sustainment, now isn’t it? Keeping your people alive and contributing members of the network is pretty essential to long-term sustainment, now isn’t it? So, if you think TC3 is irrelevant to long-term sustainment, because “we’re not going to have medicine and doctors,” then you’re an idiot and are going to die of something like Clostridium difficile, because you don’t know what the you’re doing and have overdosed yourself on your stockpiled veterinary antibiotics.

    If you’re worried about “wasting ammunition” and die because you didn’t provide adequate suppressive fire to keep the enemy more worried about NOT getting shot than he was in shooting you, then you’re not really looking at the long-term very well, now are you? If you fail to fire enough to protect your Ranger buddy, and he dies, you’ve not really considered long-term sustainment, since now you have to provide for his family too.

    11. Provide Sufficient Intelligence

    Solid intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) is the foundation of all UW success. Successful operations require detailed intelligence information on all aspects of the operational environment, from terrain considerations to the internal and external dynamics of the key players in the battle space. These incorporate overt, clandestine, and covert collection efforts, and the collation and analysis of available information resources for operational planning. These range from the collection of information on enemy activities, capabilities, and thinking, to terrain analysis information, to the use of CARVER format target analysis and selection. Effective guerrilla and underground operations demand accurate, timely, and accessible intelligence. Resistance personnel must develop expert intelligence activity skills for collection, analysis, and dissemination for mission applications. The use of sound target analysis, utilizing the CARVER matrix, provides options to operational planners, ensures that operations can meet the objectives, and reduces undue risk in operations. Intelligence activities may assess areas of interest to the resistance movement, ranging from political and security force personalities to the military capabilities of friendly and enemy forces, to the effects of terrain within the operational area on the planning process. Leaders and planners must establish sensible priorities of effort when identifying intelligence requirements, while protecting their own information through adequate OPSEC training and discipline. Effective OPSEC requires a disciplined, alert organization that can accurately assess the threat of penetration by enemy agents, educate the resistance at the personal and organizational level of the threat, and take timely effort to detect, penetrate, and neutralize the enemy’s penetration efforts. While it is imperative the UW actors recognize the threat implicit to force protection, it is equally important to recognize that not all, or even most, threats will come from the identified enemy. The non-military threats posed by civil sector players, ranging from criminal activities and unaligned civil unrest, to hazardous materials spillage and disease epidemics must be addressed as part of the counter-intelligence and force protection effort. Force protection of your family and group isn’t just about looking out for Cannibalistic San Franciscans or Belgian Smurfs. It’s just as important that you develop intelligence on likely non-military threats to their safety and security. It’s just not as “cool.”

    12. Balance Security and Synchronization

    Resistance cell members in one location may be uniquely situated to provide a significant positive impact on operations conducted by other cells. While UW operations are often compartmentalized for security concerns, too often that compartmentalization can exclude key personnel that may have significant important information to impart that will impact the planning process. It is absolutely imperative that resistance leaders find a way to mitigate the balance. Inadequate security procedures may compromise a mission, but excessive security paranoia, leading to inadequate face-to-face time with other key leaders will result in mission failure due to a lack of synchronization of efforts.

    If you’re avoiding gatherings like the Oathkeepers NW Patriots and Preppers Rally in North Idaho, because it’s not “OPSEC” enough for you, you’re screwing yourself in the end. Your next door neighbor that’s a cool dude, but you’re not comfortable discussing preparedness with him in detail due to OPSEC? He might just be more prepared and better trained than you are. Be judicious in how you approach the topic in conversation with new people, but find that balance point in your life, so you can make new like-minded contacts.

    I hear from readers all the time who are leery of attending classes and getting involved in their local politics for “security reasons.” Ending up in a grid-down police state because you were too chicken to figure out the balance point is not conducive to survival. It creates more opportunities for you to end up dead.

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  2. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Think Like a Green Beret: The CARVER Matrix

    Read more:

    When you belong to the military of a wealthy nation state, there are many options to solve problems. Green Berets are taught to fight on the cheap, using what is available locally. This makes things a lot more interesting.

    There is a story I like to tell about a repair man that embodies the mindset and skill of a Green Beret. One day, the big office remote printer broke down, and a repair service was called in. Thirty minutes later, a guy with a bow tie and a briefcase full of tools shows up. He turns on the machine, checks the settings, and makes a few measurements with a ruler. He then pulls out a small hammer and wacks the side of the printer.

    Immediately, it whirs to life and starts spitting out pages. As the office manager stares in slack-jawed amazement, the repair guy writes out a bill for $500.50 and hands it to him. The manager says, “Hey, wait just a minute. How can you charge me $500 when all you did was walk in and hit my printer with a hammer?” The repairman smiles and says, “I only charged you 50 cents for the hammer strike; the $500 was for knowing where to hit it.” Green Berets know where to hit, and in this article, I am going to tell you how they do it.

    Trained to operate in denied areas, Green Berets are forced to conserve resources. After watching 14 years of video where guided weapons fall from the sky to blow up terrorists, it is natural to assume that the hammer is our primary tool and every problem is a nail. In a denied area, U.S. air support may not be an option due to time constraints (a fleeting target vulnerable in a short time window), political considerations (if we want to be friends, we aren’t going to openly drop bombs in your country), or deniability (maybe we want to tie the victim to a false source of the attack). While dropping a JDAM or unleashing a Ranger battalion certainly makes a point, it is not always our best move.

    A well-crafted piece of sabotage can be more effective than a bomb. This happens a lot more than you think. I am not going to tell any war stories involving classified situations, but there is some outstanding work in the field that I can talk about. A recent example of this is STUXNET. Worried about the Iranian nuclear program, somebody (almost certainly a group of national intelligence services) wrote a computer program, put it on a USB drive, and got it inserted into the computer that ran Iran’s Natanz nuclear fuel-refinement facility. It is believed to have destroyed up to 1000 centrifuges between November 2009 and late January 2010. No commandos, no bombs, a lot of intelligence, and a little analysis delayed the creation of a nuclear weapon for five years and counting. To this day, no one knows for sure where it came from.

    So how did the designers of STUXNET figure out what to do? CARVER told them. Sabotage plays a key role in unconventional warfare. The acronym “CARVER” was designed to help Green Berets destroy selected target systems in support of national objectives by identifying vulnerable nodes within critical infrastructure. CARVER is an acronym that stands for Criticality, Accessibility, Recuperability, Vulnerability, Effect and Recognizability. CARVER is used to identify and rank specific characteristics so offensive resources can be allocated efficiently.

    I can assure you that there was a top to bottom CARVER assessment of the entire Iranian nuclear program. There were certainly multipile vulnerabilities discovered and attacked. One of these identified vulnerabilities was the centrifuge facility (vital to enriching uranium to weapons grade). Within that node, the central computer control system was identified as critical, a method was found to access it, it was slow to recuperate and vulnerable to computer virus who’s effect would not impact civilians. The most sophisticated part of the virus was the recognizably component. It was loaded on thousands of machines, but did not activate until it found the one specifically targeted facility in the world.

    The origin of the CARVER matrix is shrouded in mystery from the very dawn of Special Forces. Some say the OSS developed it during World War Two, some say it was the first Green Berets in the ’50s. Over the years, there have been minor refinements, but applying CARVER is a basic SF skill.

    The CARVER selection factors assist in selecting the best targets or components to attack. As the factors are considered, they are given a numerical value. This value represents the desirability of attacking the target. The values are then placed in a decision matrix. After CARVER values for each target or component are assigned, the sum of the values indicate the highest-value target or component to be attacked within the limits of the statement of requirements and commander’s intent.”—U.S. Army Field Manual 34-36

    CARVER analysis is summarized in a six-column, five-row matrix. For each target, a rating of 1-5 is given for each column. A ‘5’ rating meant it favored the saboteur, whereas a ‘1’ meant it favored the target. The best score for the saboteur was 30 (6 x 5), the worst being a 6 (6 x 1).


    The ratings in CARVER are very subjective. While the concept is simple, a deep understanding of the target and available resources to attack are vital to producing useful output. It is best done by the entire SFODA.

    CARVER is the most stolen and misused idea ever conceived by Green Berets. The Internet can tell you how to use CARVER for everything from picking up girls to writing a grocery list. There are a number of classified programs where SFODA’s are tasked with performing security vulnerability assessments of sensitive facilities and programs using CARVER. This has spawned a security industry selling computer programs and analysts to do…CARVER.

    I don’t know any recent unclassified CARVER stories, so I would like to give a great historical example. During World War II, the Allies were very concerned that the Germans would develop nuclear weapons (just like Iran today). An analysis of the German program revealed that the production of heavy water for use as a moderator was critical to the program. The Norsk hydroelectric plant in Norway produced heavy water as a byproduct of fertilizer production. It was the only source in the greater Reich capable of producing heavy water in useful quantities. Norsk Hydro was the critical node. It was complicated and vulnerable. If it was put out of action, it would take years to rebuild, thus it was considered non-recuperable. The loss for the nuclear program would be catastrophic. The plant was easily recognizable.

    While Green Berets made up CARVER, they did not invent target analysis. That distinction belongs to the proto-humanoid who figured out how to pack-hunt the woolly mammoth, but that is another story. The British Special Operations Executive were professionals. They identified the vulnerability of the Nazi nuclear program. A CARVER-like analysis of the plant itself revealed that a few small explosives charges in the right spots would halt heavy water production.

    That left only one problem: accessibility, but that was a mother. The plant was on the side of a mountain surrounded by a civilian populace of a friendly, though occupied, allied nation. Let’s send in commandos!

    Operation Freshman was conducted by glider-borne British engineer paratroopers. The first glider crash landed after the tow rope snapped. The second glider and tow plane flew into a mountain. Most of the aircrew and a number of airborne troops were killed on impact. Those who survived were taken prisoner and executed in accordance with Hitler’s Commando Order. Realizing the vulnerability of the plant, the Germans added mines, floodlights, and additional guards.

    The only good thing to come out of this was the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) had successfully placed four Norwegian nationals as an advance team in the region of the Hardanger Plateau above the plant. It was now time for plan B. Six more SOE agents were dropped in.

    A Norwegian agent within the plant supplied detailed plans and schedule information the SOE team used to plan their infiltration and attack. Avoiding the one heavily guarded bridge, they walked through a ravine, crossed the icy river, and climbed the steep hill to the plant. They then followed a single railway track straight into the plant area without encountering any guards. They entered the basement through a cable tunnel and a window. They ran into a Norwegian caretaker who was happy to help out.

    The SOE team placed explosives on the electrolysis chambers, and attached time fuses. After a brief delay to find the caretaker’s glasses, the team activated the timers and walked out smiling. The charges destroyed the electrolysis chambers. The entire inventory of heavy water produced during the German occupation was destroyed with equipment critical to producing more. The team avoided the 3,000 German soldiers searching for them. Five of them skied 250 miles to Sweden, two went to Oslo, and four stuck around to work with the resistance.

    CARVER is an example of teaching Green Berets how to think, not what to think. It is a framework to organize your thoughts to plan a mission. It is a tool only useful to the creative and intelligent mind, but properly employed, it can change the fate of nations or pick up girls. Think like a Green Beret, but use your powers for good.
    Ganado and Tully Mars like this.
  3. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Think Like A Green Beret: The P.A.C.E. Method
    Think Like a Green Beret: The PACE Plan | The Loadout Room

    Related Posts

    Sometimes you get lucky and your plan works just as you thought it would. Enjoy those days, because there will not be many of them. No matter how smart you are or how hard you work, on the battlefield, the enemy always gets a vote. The famous philosopher Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” The Green Berets know something about taking a punch, and they have a plan for that, too.

    Exercise Robin Sage is a series of very bad days. The culmination of the Special Forces Qualification Course, Robin Sage starts with intense planning, and then your ODA goes into Pineland, where a team of professional role players and evaluators crushes those sweet plans contingency by contingency until you lose your plan B, followed by that alternative you never wanted to use until you are in emergency mode. That is the point at which you realize, when you plan for the worst thing that can possibly happen, and that thing happens, the situation can only improve.

    SEAL math famously teaches, “Two is one and one is none.” Green Berets aren’t happy with those odds when failure can risk a life or jeopardize the mission. Lacking the SEAL’s poetic nature, the Green Beret forgoes rhyming and uses the acronym PACE.

    PACE describes a methodology originally used to build a communication plan. For an ODA in a denied area, communication is the only way to get resupplied, and most importantly, extracted. The loss of all communications normally initiates the escape-and-evasion plan. The no-comms plan universally sucks, and almost always means abandonment of the mission and unsupported escape and evasion. Nobody wants that. The PACE acronym stands for primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency.

    Primary: The routine and most effective method of communication.

    Alternate: Another common method of passing a message with minimal to no other impact. May be used along with the primary under normal circumstances to assure readiness.

    Contingency: This method will normally not be as convenient or efficient as the first two methods, but is capable of passing traffic when necessary.

    Emergency: This is a method of last resort that probably sucks in some very significant way and may incur significant delays.

    The PACE method establishes four methods of communication between your team and higher. The genius of PACE is what engineers call ‘graceful degradation.’ When your primary radio fails, it is way too soon to worry; you still have A, C, and E. You transition through the plan and hopefully get extracted before you are forced to rely on E.

    An example of a PACE plan would be:

    Primary: Satellite radio

    Alternate: High-frequency radio

    Contingency: Satellite phone

    Emergency: Survival radio on guard frequency to aircraft overhead

    To be valid, each method must have independent equipment and power sources. This costs a lot of weight and is typically spread across the team so the loss of one man or rucksack doesn’t compromise more than one method.


    Well, if PACE is good for communications, it is good for everything else, formal and informal. If I have four ways to do something, I can be pretty cavalier about a single failure. But there are many instances where we just don’t have that many options. On a parachute infiltration, we have two parachutes and the option to stay on the plane. The failure of all three of those alternatives makes the emergency option for reaching the ground look pretty grim.

    For water, chow, weapons, and everything else essential, PACE is a natural way of thinking:

    Primary: M4 rifle

    Alternate: Grenades

    Contingency: Handgun

    Emergency: I use my knife to get another gun or two from the enemy

    When the Green Beret has a full set of PACE alternatives in any area, he is confident. As problems arise, he works through the degraded options, always looking at ways to regain the lost alternatives and move back up the chain. Things will go wrong, equipment will get lost or broken, teams might get separated during the mission or by enemy action. PACE lets you plan for the very worst while maintaining a positive mindset.

    Green Beret survival training prepares them to improvise weapons and shelter while foraging food and water. This gives them a resilience that allows them to maintain morale in conditions that would break others. They live PACE everyday. The idea that you can handle the worst possible situation makes anything better seem like luxury.

    You can use PACE to plan how to get to work or what to do if your girlfriend dumps you. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Have a series of plans for that. Having thought out the options and requirements beforehand makes the execution of a plan much less stressful.

    Think like a Green Beret. Use PACE. If you don’t have that many options, be cautious and try to develop more. If you get pushed down to emergency options, push back and recover. Make a plan and work it. As Elvis, The King himself, once said, “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.”
    Ganado likes this.
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