The Area Intelligence Handbook

Mike Shelby, intelligence analyst and author, has recently published a second book The Area Intelligence Handbook. If you’ve heard Mike talk before or attended one of his training classes, then you are probably familiar with his push for people to do their own area study in order to direct their preparedness in a useful direction. Here is a short except from the forward to his new book.

…a [particular large scale disaster] won’t kill you, but the follow effects could. These follow-on effects that occur at your doorstep, on your street, and in your neighborhood deserve your due diligence.

What I find is that those in the preparedness community are too focused on the strategic picture and not focused enough on the tactical picture. Too many get target-fixated on what’s happening in China, or in space, or in Washington, D.C., while ignoring their local situation. These people know the names of a hundred Congressmen but not one person on their city council. They know more about Nancy Pelosi’s husband’s boyfriend than they do about their local fire department. They can tell you about the latest YouTube prediction of mass starvation, but can’t tell you which gangs are active in their county. I think this is a problem.

Enter the solution. An Area Study helps us develop the tactical picture. What are the second-, third-, fourth-, fifth-order effects, and so on, from an EMP attack? How is the cyber attack on the gas pipeline going to affect your community? How will hyperinflation push threats to your doorstep? What’s your neighborhood’s population density? How many fighting age males live in the area? Which of these could become an ally or pose a threat to you?…Unfortunately, instead of developing local intelligence, we’ve been encouraged to buy buy buy stuff. Just fill that bottomless pit of worry with gear. It might fill up eventually.

This misunderstanding is why Joe’s bug out bag weighs 70 pounds, but he hasn’t compiled an Area Study. Joe’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t have a plan. He does, it’s just not a very good one. Joe hasn’t conducted a route study of where he’s going during an emergency. He’s blind to the threats and hazards between Points A and B, he doesn’t know police are going to be blocking the road to his destination, and he hasn’t considered any contingencies — what to do when things go unexpectedly wrong, and they will. And if Joe knew there were a dozen like-minded people in his community, including one with a small farm just outside of town, then Joe might completely change his bad plan to bug out into the unknown to a less bad plan…I wrote this book for Joe.

Mike has written extensively online about area studies as well as making available many videos about the process. This book gathers it all into one handy book. As many others have written, countries tend to decline slowly with occasional more rapid slips. As the USA slips from its lofty heights due to the greed and corruption of its elites, there are many ways the decline may manifest with various effects on your life and lifestyle. Use this book to think about your future and help you plan to make it through.

Radio Contra Ep. 228: Deep State Democrats in Panic

NC Scout of Brushbeater talks with Bob Griswold of Ready Made Resources about the panic that the deep state oligarchy and the Democrat Party are apparently in, their desperate measures, the possible next moves and what to do about it. Localism is the answer.

Radio Contra Ep. 228: Deep State Democrats in Panic

GOA: Gun Industry Writes To Congress As Imminent Ban Threatens 40 Million Firearms

From Gun Owners of America, GOA: Gun Industry Writes To Congress As Imminent Ban Threatens 40 Million Firearms :

On June 1st, the Biden Pistol Ban is set to go into effect. This rule, concocted by the bureaucrats at ATF, criminalizes ownership of an estimated 40 million firearms currently in possession by law-abiding citizens.

According to the final rule, gun owners who possess braced firearms will have to destroy, reconfigure, register, and turn in their firearms to ATF, or face NFA violations which include $250,000 in fines and a hefty prison sentence.

This rule will have some of the most wide-reaching impacts nationwide compared to other ATF administrative rulemaking actions. In comparison, ATF’s bump stock rule was estimated to have affected 520,000 Americans, whereas this pistol brace ruling affects 80 times more law-abiding citizens.

In response, the No Compromise Alliance sent a letter signed by notable firearms industry companies to Congress.

Among the undersigned are notable firearms industry companies such as Rifle Dynamics, Kahr Arms Group, KCI USA, Tippmann Arms, and more.

Additionally, two other letters were sent to Congress, with notable people of influence throughout the firearms community – representing more than 30 million viewers – and local ranges & shops that are bound to be affected by ATF’s overreach.

While these letters certainly make a statement, Gun Owners of America is working on all fronts to defeat the ATF’s pistol brace rule before it goes into effect.

GOA has a lawsuit in the 5th Circuit with Texas AG Ken Paxton. This circuit is the same that recently overturned the ATF’s bump stock rule in January of 2023.

In addition, GOA has backed legislation targeting the root of the issue with the SHORT Act. The act itself would remove Short Barreled Rifles (SBR), Short Barreled Shotguns (SBS), and ATF’s favorite, “Any Other Weapons” (AOWs) from the unconstitutional regulation of the National Firearms Act.

The NFA is the law that ATF derives its regulatory authority from on the brace issue, so the SHORT Act aims to stop the ATF by removing its power over such items in the first place.

Lastly, GOA has fought hard with our allies in Congress to bring the ATF’s pistol brace rule under scrutiny via the Congressional Review Act.

For those unfamiliar, the Congressional Review Act allows Congress to file a joint resolution of disapproval, which would overturn agency rulemaking.

This is where we need your help. 

With our legal fight against Biden and his ATF coming down to the wire, please call your Senators and Representatives and let them know to support the Joint Resolution for Congressional disapproval of the ATF’s rulemaking.

You can call your elected officials at (202) 224-3121

Let them know to support S.J. RES. 20 if they’re in the Senate & H.J. RES. 20 if they’re in the House of Representatives.

WPC: WA Property Tax Increase Bill Introduced

From the Washington Policy Center comes Just in time to avoid 2/3 vote requirement, new property tax increase bill introduced

It must be the last two weeks of the session. Yet another bill to overturn a voter-approved law was introduced just today. This one is a massive property tax increase with 20 Senate sponsors. Under the title “Providing state and local property tax reform,” SB 5770 would change the voter-approved property tax growth factor for the state and local governments from 1% to 3% while also changing the definition of inflation to grow faster by using the CPI instead of IPD measure.

And just for fun, the new tax increase bill was introduced just outside of the 10-day window under the constitution that would have required a 2/3 vote to advance the bill. Per Article 2, Section 36 of the state constitution:

“No bill shall be considered in either house unless the time of its introduction shall have been at least ten days before the final adjournment of the legislature, unless the legislature shall otherwise direct by a vote of two thirds of all the members elected to each house, said vote to be taken by yeas and nays and entered upon the journal, or unless the same be at a special session.”

At least SB 5770 was introduced as a complete bill instead of the prior practice of using a blank Title Only bill to get around the 2/3 vote restrictions. The Senate Rules adopted earlier this year banned the use of Title Only bills.

After decades of following policy debates in Washington, I’ve learned that you need a specialty state-specific dictionary to understand legislative phrases. Words mean different things here. For example: An income tax in Washington means “excise tax” and “balancing the tax code” means increasing the property tax for everyone.

Washington State Senate Passes “Assault Weapons” Ban

From The Hill:

The Washington state Senate has passed a bill to ban the sale and manufacture of assault weapons, bringing the state one step closer to becoming one of the few in the country that have instituted general assault weapon bans.

The bill, which must now return to the House for concurrence on some of the amendments made to the legislation, would ban the “manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any assault weapon.”

It would take effect immediately if signed by the governor and ban at least 60 different types of assault weapons.

The legislation provides a number of notable exceptions to the ban.

The new rules would not apply to weapons that are already possessed by a person in the state or those who inherit weapons. It also would allow law enforcement agencies to continue to purchase such weapons.

Even with the exceptions, the regulations would institute one of the most comprehensive statewide bans on assault weapons in the country…

From Bearing Arms, “Assault weapons” ban clears WA State Senate, 2A groups promise legal challenge

A bill banning the sale and manufacture of so-called assault weapons has cleared its last major legislative hurdle in Washington State, but Second Amendment groups are already vowing to bring the fight over the gun ban to the courts if and when HB 1240 is signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

State senators worked overtime over the weekend to clear the gun ban off their calendar, ultimately approving the bill on a party-line vote with only a couple of minor changes.

A floor amendment allows for gun manufacturers to sell inventory already in stock prior to Jan. 1, 2023, and only to out-of-state clientele, for 90 days after the bill goes into effect.

“I wasn’t able to support today’s legislation, because I think that we took away from some of the important things that we need in everyday life, which is additional treatment facilities. We need more mental health available resources for everybody,” said Sen Jeff Wilson, (R ) 19th District, Longview.

Because the bill was amended in the Senate, it must return to the House for further consideration. The 2023 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on Sunday, April 23.

I’m sure that House Democrats will hold a concurrence vote well before the legislature adjourns in a couple of weeks, and Inslee has already pledged to sign the gun ban bill into law. This isn’t the only infringement to the Second Amendment rights of Washingtonians that’s likely to be enacted before April 23rd either. Last Friday the state Senate also gave its approval to HB 1143, which would establish a “permit to purchase” system complete with mandatory firearm training that every would-be gun owner must possess before they can lawfully purchase or receive a firearm as well as a mandatory 10-day waiting period on all gun sales.

Inslee’s sure to sign that bill into law as well, and has already been touting the supposed benefits of a gun ban on Twitter…

WPC: Coming SCOTUS decision could be big for Eastern Washington

The Washington Policy Center discusses US Supreme Court case Sackett vs EPA on the extend of the EPA’s power to regulate land that gets wet.

The Sackett family has spent the past 15 years in the courts disputing the Environmental Protection Agency’s blocking their right to build a home on land they own near Priest Lake, Idaho.

This past October, the U.S. Supreme Court opened its doors for the public to listen in on oral arguments for the first time in 21/2 years since the original COVID lockdown in March 2020. The first case on the docket was theirs, Sackett v. EPA, the outcome of which will have profound implications for the future of rural communities in Eastern Washington and across the country.

The EPA alleges the Sackett’s residential lot is a federally protected wetland under EPA jurisdiction. Sackett v. EPA asks the Supreme Court to clarify the scope of the EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The court’s decision should of course be the final say on whether the Sacketts can build their proposed home, but it will also have sweeping implications on whether the EPA can expand the definition of “navigable waters” to include any semi-soggy lowland, ditch or parcel of land across the country.

Many will remember the saga of the Obama administration’s disastrous Waters of the United States – or WOTUS – rule. As a young staffer on Capitol Hill at the time, seared into my memory is how serious the regulatory uncertainty was for the agricultural community under the proposed rule, threatening to turn every ditch, puddle, or creek into a federally protected “navigable waterway.” The drastic expansion of the EPA’s jurisdiction in the rule was characterized as one of the most egregious oversteps by the federal government in history. Fortunately, the courts agreed and blocked its implementation.

Yet predictably the federal government continues to do its best to exert its regulatory might. Even as we await the court’s decision on Sackett, the Biden administration has barreled forward with their own rulemaking – essentially, WOTUS 2.0 – by introducing a new rule on the last business day of 2022 to expand the definition of navigable waters and again threaten rural America’s way of life.

While the Obama WOTUS rule was blocked by the courts, the Biden administration has now sought to codify a serpentine rule that avoids the legal landmines of the original WOTUS.

There was simply no reason for the Biden administration to move forward on this exercise when they knew the court would be issuing a ruling on this very matter. It only serves to cause further uncertainty for the American farmer and rancher.

Unfortunately, it’s not just bad ideas at the federal-level that are rearing their ugly heads to come after our water and threaten our agricultural lands. Legislation similar to the riparian “buffer bill” introduced during the last legislative session in Olympia has been reintroduced this week. The bill (HB 1838) – which would have exponentially cut off productive farmlands across the state while exempting urban areas – faced overwhelming public outcry and eventually did not receive a vote. Yet, it’s back again.

As Washington Policy Center’s new Eastern Washington director, it is my charge to help tell of the impacts of these misguided measures and to ensure the communities east of the Cascades have a voice in Olympia. Why is it that those who decry “big agriculture” and so-called “factory farms” are the same people who do everything they can to put the family farmer out of business?

At the core of Eastern Washington’s economy and identity is agriculture – our region’s farmers feed the country and the world. Our elected leaders in Olympia and Washington, D.C., must recognize that.

I was proud to work on efforts supporting the Sacketts’ case and was humbled to hear the arguments made before the Supreme Court in person this past October. It is my hope the court will finally provide the certainty rural America has long deserved and the victory the Sackett family has waited too long for.

GOA: Hearings for WA Preemption Repeal, “Assault Weapon” Ban, and More

Gun Owners of America has posted about hearings for Washington State bills, taking place simultaneously for House and Senate bills so as to prevent gun owners from weighing in on both.

Washington Patriots, we are in the fight of a lifetime for your 2nd Amendment Rights! The radical Left is fast streaming a vote to destroy your God-given rights with multiple anti-gun bills to be heard on Tuesday, Jan. 17th  in the House Civil Rights & Judiciary and Senate Law and Justice committees.

Here’s what’s on the agenda:

House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee (10:30 AM on Tuesday, January 17th) 

  • HB 1178 – Would repeal firearms preemption in Washington. This would turn Washington into a patchwork quilt of gun control laws as anti-gun cities would be free to enact their own gun control ordinances.
  • HB 1143 – This bill creates a draconian “permit to purchase” requirement for all firearm sales in Washington and would require mandatory training, among other things.
  • HB 1144 – Creates a mandatory training requirement to purchase firearms that would need to be renewed every five years.
  • HB 1240 –  The so-called “assault weapons” ban that would criminalize possession of over 65 semi-automatic rifles

Senate Law & Justice Committee (10:30 AM on Tuesday, January 17th) 

  • SB 5078 – This bill would eliminate immunity for firearms manufacturers, placing the entire gun industry at risk for frivolous lawsuits. If enacted into law, it could lead to the entire firearms manufacturing industry being sued out of existence.

Friends, your constitutionally-protected rights have never been in such peril in Washington. That’s why I need you to take action by sending a message to the committee members to oppose these bills and signing up to testify on Tuesday.

To testify, please follow these instructions as modified from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF): 

What: House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee
When: January 17, 2023
Time: 10:30 a.m. (PST)
Location: In-Person House Hearing Room A or Virtual

Instructions: To sign up to testify in opposition to these bills or to submit written testimony against this egregious legislation, click on this link and follow the directions below:

  1. Select “Civil Rights & Judiciary” in the “Committee” box.
  2. Select “01/17/23 10:30 AM” in the “Meetings” box.
  3. Select the following bills “HB 1178, HB 1143, HB 1144, and HB 1240” under “Select agenda item.”
  4. Select either written testimony or sign up to testify virtually under “Select type of testimony.”
  5. Fill out registration page.

What: Senate Law and Justice Committee
When: January 17, 2023
Time: 10:30 AM (PST)
Location: In-Person Senate Hearing Room 4 or Virtual

Instructions: To sign up to testify in opposition to these bills or to submit written testimony against this egregious legislation, click on this link and follow the directions below:

  1. Select “Law & Justice” in the “Committee” box.
  2. Select “01/17/23 10:30 AM in the “Meetings” box.
  3. Select “SB 5078” under “Select agenda item.”
  4. Select either written testimony or sign up to testify virtually under “Select type of testimony.”
  5. Fill out registration page.

This is devastating to the people of Washington! The anti-gun Left will stop at nothing and will continue their unlawful attack against your 2nd Amendment rights if we do not stand and fight.

The time to act has never been greater than it is now, so please send a message to the committee members (by using the form above) to OPPOSE the above bills and sign up to testify. 

On the federal level, the ATF has changed its rule on AR pistols with braces, making them illegal unless you register them. In the video below, Colion Noir talks about it.

Of Two Minds: What’s Behind the Global Erosion of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Property Rights?Of Two Minds:

Charles Hugh Smith at Of Two Minds blog writes What’s Behind the Global Erosion of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Property Rights?

Hierarchical power structures like city-states arose as problem-solving solutions, not just for the elites who benefited from the concentration of wealth and power but for the citizenry. This dynamic underpins the analysis presented in my recent book Global Crisis, National Renewal: when nation-states and global hierarchies no longer solve the key problems of their populaces, they dissolve and are replaced by some new arrangement.

It’s easy to see how hierarchies benefit the leaders / elites at the top, but there’s always a trade-off to the populace ceding power/control to elites: we will cede control over our lives in exchange for benefits we cannot gain by ourselves, starting with security from invasion and starvation, i.e. the existential threats posed by Nature and other human organizations.

Over time, as energy surpluses and knowledge increased, city-states aggregated into nation-states and empires. These larger organizations were able to solve problems on a larger scale than city-states.

When these entities could no longer solve existential problems (surpluses diminished, elites failed to provide successful leadership, etc.), they eroded and then collapsed, and were replaced with some other more successful organizational arrangement.

Over time, the citizenry of some regions began expanding the benefits nation-states and their elites were expected to provide in exchange for power: the state was expected to secure the rights to individuals’ property and various civil liberties relating to the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, freedom of worship, and having a say in national decisions.

Globally, these basic human rights are being eroded by state-elite over-reach and consolidation of power beyond what the citizenry agreed upon. For example, the citizenry ceded power to the state to protect individuals’ privacy from the surveillance and information-gathering of both the state and private interests.

As Richard Bonugli and I discuss in our podcast on Eroding Civil Liberties and Property Rights, these privacy statutes are still on the books but they are routinely disregarded by both state agencies and private-sector interests with little functional enforcement by state agencies tasked with protecting the citizens’ rights to privacy.

Big Tech routinely harvests private data for profit with little oversight, state agencies collect private data beyond their mandated scope and mobile phones gather private information which others manage to collect or access.

Property rights are also being eroded.Civil forfeiture enables local and national governments to expropriate individuals’ private property without due process, in effect declaring them guilty and effecting punishment (taking their money/property) and then forcing them to prove their innocence via a lengthy, costly, Kafkaesque process.

War by other means now includes sanctions and expropriation of individuals’ assets, not just the assets of other states or state entities (central banks, state-owned corporations, etc.)

What is driving this global erosion of the most basic civil liberties and property rights? As I describe in my book Resistance, Revolution, Liberation, all states share the same ontology, which is to respond to any threats or challenges by increasing their reach and control.

In other words, all states share the same teleological Prime Directive: always expand the state’s control and power. No state has the institutional memory or means to reduce the state’s reach, control or power.

The only limit on state expansion is the citizenry’s resistance to the loss of civil liberties, property rights and having a say in decisions which affect the entire citizenry. If the citizenry do nothing to protect their rights as individuals and communities, the state will nibble away at these until they exist only in name, not in the real world.

The first essential step is to recognize the erosion as real and consequential. Richard and I do our best to further this in our podcast Charles Hugh Smith on Eroding Civil Liberties and Property Rights (31:35 min).

The second essential step is to recognize how the spectacles of “news” and entertainment distract our attention from this erosion of basic rights. Before we know it, we’re in prisons without bars and grateful to get a questionnaire about how we like the torture (i.e. the “entertainment”)…(continues with pictures and more links)

Radio Contra Ep. 209: Localism, Training and Building Culture with Bryce Colbert of Intrepid Tactics

NC Scout of Brushbeater talks to Bryce Colbert of Intrepid Tactics about localism, training, and building culture in episode 209 of Radio Contra.

Radio Contra Ep. 209: Localism, Training and Building Culture with Bryce Colbert of Intrepid Tactics

Episode 209. I’m joined by Bryce Colbert, 3rd Special Forces Group Veteran and owner of Intrepid Tactics to talk localism, training philosophy, building a resilient culture, and arming good people with knowledge for rough times in America’s future.

Jonathan Turley: Fifth Circuit Rejects Bump Stock Ban

From attorney Jonathan Turley comes this article on the Fifth Circuit Federal Appeals court rejecting the ATF ban on bump stocks.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has handed down a major opinion in Cargill v. Garland, No. 20-51016, ruling 13-3 that the ATF ban on bump stocks is unlawful. The en banc decision found that a bump stock may be many things but it is not a machine gun.

On December 18, 2018, the ATF issued a rule that bump stock would now be considered unlawful as machine guns and gave bump stock owners 90 days to surrender the devices. After that deadline, possession would be treated as a federal crime. The specific statement read, in part:

The Department of Justice is amending the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to clarify that bump-stock-type devices — meaning “bump fire” stocks, slide-fire devices, and devices with certain similar characteristics — are “machineguns” as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 because such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.

On January 6, 2023, the Fifth Circuit handed down its decision rejecting the rule. It explained the technical aspects for the case as well as the clear shift in interpretation by the ATF:

“A bump stock is a firearm attachment that allows a shooter to harness the natural recoil of a semi-automatic weapon to quickly re-engage the trigger after firing, enabling him to shoot at an increased rate of speed. When ATF first considered the type of bump stocks at issue here, it understood that they were not machineguns. ATF maintained this position for over a decade, issuing many interpretation letters to that effect to members of the public.”

Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote in her majority opinion that “[p]ublic pressure to ban bump stocks was tremendous” after the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. However, “[a] plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of ‘machinegun’ set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act.”

The majority further explained:

The Government’s regulation violates these principles. As an initial matter, it purports to allow ATF—rather than Congress—to set forth the scope of criminal prohibitions. Indeed, the Government would outlaw bump stocks by administrative fiat even though the very same agency routinely interpreted the ban on machineguns as not applying to the type of bump stocks at issue here. Nor can we say that the statutory definition unambiguously supports the Government’s interpretation. As noted above, we conclude that it unambiguously does not. But even if we are wrong, the statute is at least ambiguous in this regard. And if the statute is ambiguous, Congress must cure that ambiguity, not the federal courts.

The holding was supported by a rule of lenity that “penal laws are to be construed strictly.” She noted that, as in United States v. Wiltberger, the Court had long followed the rule which Chief Justice Marshall described as “founded on the tenderness of the law for the rights of individuals; and on the plain principle that the power of punishment is vested in the legislative, not in the judicial department. It is the legislature, not the Court, which is to define a crime, and ordain its punishment.”

Thirteen judges agreed with the conclusion though twelve (Chief Judge Richman and Judges Jones, Smith, Stewart, Elrod, Southwick, Haynes, Willett, Ho, Duncan, Engelhardt, and Wilson) reversed on lenity grounds while eight members (Judges Jones, Smith, Elrod, Willett, Duncan, Engelhardt, Oldham, and Wilson) reversed on the ground that federal law unambiguously fails to cover non-mechanical bump stocks…(article continues)

Newsbreak: America’s Power Grid Is Under Attack

America’s Power Grid Is Under Attack comes from and addresses a recent spate of attacks on electric power substations across the USA.

On Christmas morning several power stations in Washington State came under attack by vandals. The substations are just a few of the hundred or so substation attacks over the past year. Excluding the Christmas attacks, substations in Oregon and Washington were attacked more than six times in the months of December and November.

Just a few weeks earlier, two substations in North Carolina about 30 minutes from Fort Bragg were attacked by gun fire, and a few days before that vandals leaked oil from substations 30 minutes from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Following the the North Carolina power outages, a sign with Nazi symbols was found along US 1 near Vass North Carolina reading “Bring it all down” with the number 1488. Earlier in 2022 several North Carolina men with Neo-nazi ties plead guilty to plotting substation attacks across the United States.

Yanasa TV’s ‘As A Man Thinketh’ host Charlie Rankin points out that these power grid attacks aren’t necessarily associated with a right or left wing movement but rather an anti-American movement. which is likely influenced by non domestic groups.

According to the News Nation television network, six “intrusion events” occurred at Duke Energy substations in Florida in September, resulting in at least one brief power outage.

According to the FBI Americans should be aware that power grid attacks may increase in the near future. As recently as December 29th according to WHIOTV AES Ohio crews were “investigating” the cause of mass power outages impacting over 10,000 customers in Montgomery County Ohio.

“We are aware of recent threats on power systems across the country and take these very seriously. We are monitoring our infrastructure and can confirm we had two incidents occur in late November at two different substations. We can’t comment on the incidents because they are both ongoing investigations involving the FBI.

Brushbeater: On the Guerrilla, His Ecology and His Communications

In this article, NC Scout talks about Guerrilla warfare vs guerrilla marketing. On the Guerrilla, His Ecology and His Communications

Guerrilla. We all know the term. Conjuring an image of a disheveled, rag tag group of merry miscreants dispelling justice in a particular way. We in the West are fixated on the term itself, for good and bad, romanticizing the image of an individualist gunfighter in its most pure form. To some, a freedom fighter. To others, a criminal reprobate terrorizing so-called legitimate authority through the very audacity of their existence. How dare they threaten the ruling order which is ours – not theirs – shall we remind them of it.

Che Guevara would label the Guerrilla explicitly as a social reformer, stating that his very existence is due to some societal wrong that cannot be corrected through peaceful petition alone. He wasn’t wrong of course, but this commonly gets lost in the marketing. Conversely in the strictly-military context we think of the Guerrilla, and his Force, as the purest context of what we call Small Unit Tactics. A small, armed band of voluntary troops with varying degrees of skill and capability. In every case the romanticize of the guerrilla fetishizes something that it may very well not be. Perhaps the arbiter can be found in the success of said guerrilla’s tactics.

Words must be specific, however, to have meaning. The term Guerrilla is a very specific one, at least in my own context, as that very same Freedom Fighter described above. Armed and defiant in the face of tyranny. That tyranny could come in many forms or any particular form you like. Economic repression, expropriating money from the populace in the form of taxation theft; medical repression, or outright denial; social repression, or the willing destruction of one culture through the use of coercive force; and last, the denial of justice through inconsistent application of law, whether purposeful or by miscarriage. In all cases, however, these realities lead to the creation of the conditions of Revolution. It is that Revolution which grants the Guerrilla his existence and becomes the social ecology in which he resides.

With that said, Guerrilla the label appeals to the later example above – the military context alone, failing to realize the social context entirely. One could argue it is a product of immaturity of thought, and conversely, recognize it is little more than a clever marketing ploy. But anything wearing a ‘guerrilla’ label without addressing the underlying social conditions which must be satisfied knows neither guerrilla warfare nor nor the intended audience. At its worst it creates a disconnect between otherwise well-meaning fighters and those capabilities which engender tactical prowess. But tactical prowess must be defined, with victory being the lone metric to judge.

The Guerrilla must recognize three critical points:

  1. He, and his local network, are his own supply line.
  2. He fights with what he has, not with what he wishes.
  3. He cannot fight as a conventional force.

To the first two points, many of a conventional mindset would think this a detriment. Lacking the enablers of a modern ground fighting force, the tip of the so-called spear, how could a Guerrilla force go toe to toe with the might of a modern leviathan? They can’t possibly win, lest they not have the equipment parity. This fails to recognize the incredible supply line necessary to keep said equipment fielded. There is no army of supplies to back him up. It is for this reason that historically guerrilla movements have fomented best in rural areas, light on government reach and heavy on local favor. Whether that guerrilla is moonshining tax resistors in Appalachia or guerrilla fighters in the Escambray mountains, the Kurds in the Hamarins or the Taliban in the southern Hindu Kush, it is a universal truth that the economic poverty of rural life, the hardships of topography, and the difficulty that creates fosters a unique and favorable environment for the budding guerrilla force. A type of folk hero finding favor among people cosmopolitan modernity forgot.

A particularly strong recent example of this phenomena is the rapid and spectacular equipment failures the Taliban experienced just after the botched US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Anyone who’s spent any time among Afghans knows equipment maintenance is not their strong suit, and further, the Taliban is a loose coalition of competing tribes comprised of a few unifying social goals. They were successful fighting as that underdog. Conventional warfare cannot and will not work for them, just as it did not in post-1994 Afghanistan. Small unit prowess need not be complicated, and most often, is better off without such complications.

Whenever I see certain pieces of equipment being marketed…let’s take ATAK for a prime example…I become immediately leery. ATAK, or the android tactical awareness kit, marketed by a company called “Guerrilla Dynamics”, utilizes android phones to create an inter-team mesh network. In short, it creates the ‘virtual battlefield’ that a Commander can micromanage individual team members or assets on the ground. But what they won’t tell you in the marketing is that we’ve been hunting and killing people based on cell phone data for two decades now. Yay, the capitalism of the Military Industrial Complex. Further, they fail in telling that the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance drones fielded by every nation’s conventional forces includes a spectrum analyzer looking for said mesh networking signals. It becomes a very easy target. All of the ever more impressive levels of encryption do not defeat the physics of RF signals. The Taliban learned, recognizing those three points above, that phones were a quick and easy way to get killed. They may have been ignorant in some respects, but in others, the long term vision cannot be understated. They won.

I can’t think of a bigger intelligence jackpot than snagging up a cell phone loaded with a team’s geolocation, reports, and personnel data. Overlays, maps, report formats…its a goldmine. It recalls a linear ambush we conducted on a Taliban HVI once, on the border with Pakistan, that created a mountain of chatter – it created follow on targets, some of which we interdicted that day, but to the others that remained or became silent, they simply melted back into those remote mountains, probably still out there over a decade later. Had they been using such a ridiculous device, exploitation would have been dramatically easier. Again, they won in the end. What we perceived as ignorant and weak was in fact the hubris which defeated the very best the West had to offer.

Fast forward to Ukraine. In March of 2022 a staging facility for foreign fighters in the Ukraine International Brigade was destroyed and with it over 200 fighters. They were targeted specifically through social media use and the proliferation of the ATAKs system by Western Intelligence Agency personnel guiding them across the border from Poland. It would not be the first or last spectacular failure of the system, but it would be the most well publicized. Enemy nations watched those very same lessons we learned over the past twenty years of GWOT misgivings, in some cases seeking parity, in others, exploiting the hubris granted by so-called ‘technological superiority’. But these are nation-states at war. There is nothing ‘Guerrilla’ about it, and those poor souls seduced to the front of their own accord are little more than suckers for the propaganda; expendable fighters in the great game.

Realizing those three points above, we return to the ecology in which the Guerrilla survives. He fights with what he has, rather than what he wishes. His equipment is kept simple, light, and through those means most capable. If he masters what is simple to its most innate level, the overall effect becomes its own force multiplier. Recognizing the lack of sophistication is no detriment at all, and in some cases, can be assumed to be a major force multiplier when used in the right way. The Guerrilla exists in the seams and gaps of the conventional force’s capabilities. Mirroring that conventional force cannot achieve this goal. A simple Baofeng radio, when configured and used properly, goes a long way in creating competence on the ground. For that matter, any analog radio can do the same. As I cover in The Guerrilla’s Guide to the Baofeng Radio, there are a large number of ways to implement the radio outside of conventional thinking. A Guerrilla is not a Conventional Force of the Leviathan. He exists in spite of it.

Off Grid Ham: Cheap & Easy Portable Antenna Hacks

Chris Warren at Off Grid Ham talks about Cheap & Easy Portable Antenna Hacks in the article below. When I run off battery power or away from home, I tend to use a Buddipole portable antenna system. The first time I set it up, I was able to tune into a pileup on an operator in Ukraine, and I’ve been pretty happy with it since then. However, you need to think about how and why you’ll be using your radio off grid. My Buddipole antenna is portable, but not so portable that I’d want to backpack it in somewhere with my radio and camping gear. Additionally, unless you are most worried about an EMP taking out North America, in most situations you don’t need to be able to talk halfway around the world.

Wire and wire dipole antennas can be cheap and light. If you only want to talk to radio operators in your state or couple of hundred mile around, you don’t need to mount the antenna very high. And if you only want to listen, you can lay your wire right on the ground. There is also a ton of information on the internet about building wire antennas. I’ll put a YouTube video at the bottom.

It’s a little unclear the way Chris wrote about baluns and ununs, but the need for either is based on both the feedline to the antenna system and the antenna itself. Chris is writing about using coaxial cable as the feedline, which is unbalanced. If you were using ladder line, that would be a balanced line. So feeding a dipole, which is balanced, from Coax, which is unbalanced, would be aided by a balun (balanced to unbalanced). Feeding dipole, again balanced, using ladder line, which is balanced would not need either. Feeding a random wire, which would be unbalanced, using coax, which is unbalanced, could use an unun (unbalanced to unbalanced). And feeding an unbalanced random wire antenna with balanced ladder line could be aided by a balun.

All that said, if your radio itself isn’t putting out balanced output, then a balun or unun may still improve things for you. Additionally, just because you’re going from coax to a dipole doesn’t mean that you have to have a balun to talk to anyone. Having a balun may reduce noise and keep unwanted RF out of your operating shack (if you’re using one), but not having one may not impede your ability to communicate as needed. These kinds of things are part of the reason why people who use radios a lot continually tell preppers not to just buy a radio thinking that they’ll be able to unbox it and use it perfectly when the emergency happens. Yes, you may be able to unpack your Baofeng HT, and it may work properly out of the box, but it may not perform the way you need it to if you haven’t tested it and made adjustments.

I don’t do a lot of antenna articles because there is already so much information in circulation I can’t see much ground left to cover, at least that’s what I thought until new Off Grid Ham reader Rick sent a nice email that inspired this article. What are some cheap and easy ideas to make a portable antenna better, from an off grid perspective?

The off grid niche. portable antenna

To rehash the obvious, running off grid radio does not require a “special” antenna. Whatever works for conventionally-powered stations will also work off grid. However, off gridders tend to have different needs and operating goals. Some antennas fit these needs and goals better than others. portable antenna

I know from my own operating experience, running this blog for over seven years, and talking with other hams, that off grid amateurs disproportionally use QRP, lean towards portable operations (outdoors), and are less focused on having a big signal for the purpose of DX, contests, & awards. They also, by a very large margin, are involved with the survivalist/prepper movement and/or EMCOMM on some level.

If you are into amateur radio in whole or in part because you want communications when SHTF, then your equipment choices are going to be different from the guy who is a contester, DXer, or thinks it’s just a fun hobby. An analysis of those two demographics might itself be worthy of an entire Off Grid Ham article.

From the abstract to the real.

Now that we’ve lightly touched on the sociology and psychology of why operators may choose different equipment, the next question is “what are my options?” Your options as an off gridder are are for the most part the same as they are for everyone else. You’ll just have to make a few adaptations. As we have discussed many, many times on this blog, there will be tradeoffs and compromises. Here are a few ideas with a “cheap & easy” goal in mind:

The wire antenna. portable antenna

Perhaps the most fundamental of all antennas, the dipole has been around almost as long as radio itself. There are a few things an operator can do to make it more off-grid friendly. These ideas can apply to all other wire antennas too:

Lose some weight!

If you are running QRP power levels, there is no compelling reason to have a dipole with heavy gauge (16 or less) wire. Wire sizes between 18-22 gauge are perfectly acceptable for QRP. It’s less expensive, easy to work with, and coils nicely for easy transport.

Speaker wire is a popular material for light weight antennas. It’s easy to find and not particularly expensive. It would be a great choice. But there is something better. Much better.

The “holy grail” of off grid antenna wire.

The top of the QRP antenna wire pyramid is 22 gauge central office frame wire (sometimes referred to as cross connect wire). CO frame wire is incredibly strong for its size and does not easily stretch. It comes in a twisted pair. There is no need to separate the pair. Simply strip the insulation and terminate the bare wires together at each end. This turns the twisted pair into what is effectively one single conductor. The twist will have no meaningful effect on your send or receive signal.

Unfortunately, CO frame wire is used only by the telecommunications industry and is very hard to find for sale to the public. It can occasionally be found at swap meets. I was able to source this wire through my professional affiliations and can confirm that it makes a fantastic light weight antenna material.

The photo below is a 20 meter central office frame wire dipole with balun, rolled up for transport. It weighs 9.6 ounces (0.272 kg) including the balun and fits in a plastic sandwich bag.

Many hams work for the phone company, or have connections. Ask around. If all else fails, you’ve got nothing to lose by knocking on the door of your local central office and simply asking  the tech if you can have some frame wire. He/she will know what you are talking about. Every year they pay contractors to haul away thousands of feet of the stuff to the scrap yard, so it’s not a big deal to give some away. Many telephone central offices are not manned full time so you may have to make a few attempts to catch someone while they are there. Since techs set aside unwanted wire for recycling, “dumpster diving” will not likely produce any results. In any case, it will be well worth your effort if you can find some.

If you cannot source central office frame wire, light gauge speaker or doorbell wire will work just fine but will not be as strong and stretch resistant.

Baluns and ununs.

Almost any antenna fed by coax can be improved by adding a balun or a unun. These devices are essentially transformers that manage the impedance difference between your feedline and the antenna and prevent common mode current. Common mode current is undesirable RF energy that flows along the outer braid or shield of the coax; it contributes to inefficiency and poor antenna performance.

A balun is used on antennas where all elements are the same length, such as a dipole. A unun is used on antennas where the elements are not the same length, such as a random long wire…(article continues)

And here’s a video on building a 20m dipole antenna.

Radio Contra Ep. 204: The Coming Economic War, with Bob Griswold

In Episode 204 of Radio Contra, NC Scout of Brushbeater and American Partisan talks about The Coming Economic War with Bob Griswold of ReadyMadeResources.

I’m joined by Bob Griswold to talk the looming economic war between the East with BRICS and the West with the Petro Dollar, the social fallout as a result, and how you can prepare for the storm.

Radio Contra Episode 204: The Coming Economic War with Bob Griswold