American Partisan: Matt Bracken Review of Jack Lawson’s “Civil Defense Manual”

Matt Bracken at American Partisan reviews the recently released Civil Defense Manual by Jack Lawson – the co-author of A Failure of Civility. Matt Bracken was commissioned as a naval officer in 1979. Later in that year he graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, and in 1983 he led a Naval Special Warfare detachment to Beirut, Lebanon. Since then he’s been a welder, boat builder, charter captain, ocean sailor, essayist and novelist.

A Review of Jack Lawson’s Civil Defense Manual:

How to Prepare and Protect Your Neighborhood from Disaster, Riot and Civil Unrest

If you are reading this, chances are good that you consider yourself a liberty-loving patriotic American. You might also consider yourself, as I certainly do, a “prepper,” that is, an all-around survival and preparedness advocate. As preppers, we’ve long been anticipating crises ranging from financial collapse, to violent insurrection, to natural or even man-made disasters that could extinguish our electrical grid in a flash. Now, deep into 2020, the year of the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic and widespread Marxist-inspired riots, it appears that we may at last be on the doorstep of the long-anticipated SHTF scenario. Revolutionary Communists, (currently wearing the Antifa and BLM brands, and with the tacit support of today’s far-left Democrat Party), have declared that under no circumstances will they accept a Trump election victory. Instead, they promise to take their revolution to the streets, in violent nationwide riots beyond any yet seen in American history.

Across the political spectrum, the number of Americans who believe that a second Civil War is imminent is at an all-time high. This heightened concern is why, for example, it costs three to four times more to rent a truck to move household goods from a liberal to a conservative state than vice versa. This is also why common rifle and pistol ammunition is at unprecedented scarcity, and when it can be found, it can only be purchased at exorbitant cost. A hundred rounds of standard 5.56 or 7.62X39 rifle ammo can easily fit into your jacket pocket, and today they might cost you a hundred dollars — a buck a bullet — if you can find them. The reason for their shortage at this moment in history is that millions of Americans have come to the bitter realization that they might actually need them to defend their lives, families and property.

By comparison to the extra cartridges, what value would you place on obtaining the equivalent of a master’s degree in surviving through a period of violent insurrection, or even civil war? I’d imagine much more than the hundred or so dollars you might spend for a similar number of extra rounds for your rifle or carbine.

So, what is it about Jack Lawson’s Civil Defense Manual that makes it so valuable? First of all, it’s nearly a thousand pages long, making it too big to fit inside one book cover. Instead, it’s broken into two volumes that are sold as a set. And the two volumes are large in size, measuring 11 X 8.5 inches, typeset in a generous 14-point font. In the end, the CDM is meant to be readable even by candlelight, post SHTF. And it’s written so that ordinary people can understand it, completely free of esoteric military or technical jargon, with key sentences bolded to stand out.

The CDM is not just another long list of expensive survival gear and equipment, nor is it advice to move to a remote mountain in Montana. The CDM is much more practical than that. In fact, Lawson’s most essential idea, the Neighborhood Protection Plan, or NPP, can be adapted to any location and situation, from the urban high-rise, to apartment complexes, to single-family homes in the suburbs, and to rural areas. The critical concept behind the NPP is that the inhabitants of an individual home, townhouse or apartment building cannot stand alone and successfully defend themselves against determined attacks by roving gangs of armed predatory thugs. It will be too late to defend your single domicile when your neighbors’ homes are going up in flames.

Neighborhood Protection Plan is not a glorified Neighborhood Watch, which is a passive arrangement whereby neighbors communicate with existing local Law Enforcement. Nor is an NPP a “militia” or any other kind of independent paramilitary force. In the first case, the activation of an NPP is predicated upon the inability or even the unwillingness of local LE to protect a neighborhood or other area during a crisis. In the second case, forming a militia or other paramilitary force implies that this group is planning to undertake proactive operations extending beyond the defense of a neighborhood and its immediate surrounding area. The Civil Defense Manual does cover the entire range of defensive options from existing Neighborhood Watch programs, through Neighborhood Protection Plans, and ultimately to coordination between separate NPPs for the mutual protection of wider regions, with the ultimate goal of restoring pre-SHTF civility, public safety, and restarting any disrupted infrastructure.

Lawson provides a sample command structure for his NPP concept, as well as methods to organize the NPP well in advance of a catastrophic series of events that might require a self-defense force to be stood up in days or even hours, instead of in weeks.

In the author’s vision, the elected Primary Leader of the local NPP is given overall command authority during emergency situations, but tellingly, the Secondary NPP Leader in Lawson’s suggested hierarchy is also the Fire Chief. During a breakdown of civil order, and the collapse of local infrastructure, when existing fire departments might be unable to respond, the protection of homes within the NPP against the risk of fire becomes second in importance only to protection against armed gangs, gangs which might be using Molotov cocktail firebombs as terror weapons to elicit surrender. It should also be recognized that during a period when the normal infrastructure might be disrupted, and running water and electricity are unavailable, the threat to structures from open-flame cooking and heating fires, and even candles, will be extremely high.

Just below the Fire Chief in Lawson’s suggested hierarchy comes the Third Section, the Watch Center Leader, overseeing a constantly manned Watch Center. These are followed by the Communications and Intel Section, the Supply Section and the Medical Section. The roles and responsibilities of each section are covered in detail.

This is not to say that Lawson has designed the perfect one-size-fits-all organizational structure to cover every post-SHTF neighborhood self-defense requirement, but what he has done is to conceptualize and provide a practical template that will serve well during a time of escalating crisis. When your neighborhood is undergoing a period of unprecedented stress, a viable pre-existing Neighborhood Protection Plan will be a Godsend. Your particular organizational structure can later be adapted to your unique local circumstances.

Every neighborhood self-defense force or NPP will require a small cadre of individuals that Lawson refers to as “self-starters.” If you are contemplating the purchase of the Civil Defense Manual, then that initial self-starter is you. For the Neighborhood Protection Plan to move from concept to reality, you will need to find and recruit a small nucleus of interested volunteers. Until someone more suited to the task of primary leader emerges during the formation of your NPP, that initial leader is you. The CDM will guide you through the tricky process of germinating the idea of the NPP within your neighborhood, to organizing its first small meetings, until your NPP’s final culmination as an effective volunteer community defense force.

If you purchase the CDM, I strongly suggest that you read it now, from front to back. Don’t wait, because it will take some time to get an NPP up and running. The two volumes of the CDM blend hard data and information, contributions by subject-matter experts, short fiction and non-fiction survival vignettes, and Jack Lawson’s own African combat experiences and survival philosophy. In this review, I have only touched on a few key concepts found in this truly encyclopedic work. After you have read and digested the complete Civil Defense Manual, you will be miles ahead of the “herd” in the coming survival derby. You will not only learn how to protect your own home, but how to defend your entire neighborhood by pooling all of its combined talents and resources for the common defense through “strength in numbers.” By doing so, you will be maintaining vital pockets of civil society amidst a roiling sea of violence and barbarism.

Just the chapter on post-SHTF radio communication, written by the acknowledged subject-matter expert NC Scout, aka Brushbeater, is worth more than the entire cost of the two-volume CDM. Most folks, even preppers, do not sufficiently appreciate the critical importance of maintaining secure communications across a spread-out community during a prolonged crisis. The immeasurable force-multiplier effect of strength in numbers does not come into effect unless the entire NPP can communicate. (While we’re on the subject, go ahead and buy some inexpensive yet invaluable Baofeng UV-5R handheld VHF-UHF radios — while you can. You can thank me, NC Scout and Jack Lawson for the tip later on.)

So instead of buying yet another box of bullets, I strongly recommend that you invest in Jack Lawson’s Civil Defense Manual, and earn yourself a master’s degree in post-SHTF neighborhood self-defense and community survival. What you learn from the CDM will be worth a thousand times more than another extra hundred cartridges to stack on top of your already existing prepper stockpile.

Civil Defense Manual by Jack Lawson on Sale Now

Jack Lawson is one of the co-authors of the now out-of-print but still much sought after book A Failure of Civility. He has now published Civil Defense Manual, Vol. I & II: How to Prepare and Protect Your Neighborhood from Disaster, Riot and Civil Unrest.

What’s in the Civil Defense Manual?

An overview of some subjects…

  • How to protect and secure your neighborhood against riot, civil unrest and fire using the CDM Neighborhood Protection PlanTM concept.
  • How to determine the level of danger from mobs where you live with this simple calculator
  • Checklists of items you must immediately purchase when Extraordinary Catastrophic Events strike in practical check box checklist forms
  • Tips on how to survive a gun battle
  • How to get gas station fuel from underground tanks in a total Grid Down situation
  • How neighbors can make their area a secure fortress by using simple military tactics
  • Night fighting without night vision equipment-written by a Navy SEAL Officer
  • Water sources, where are they and how to make water drinkable
  • Emergency lighting on and off the grid, how to make a torch and lamp, how to make lamp oil from trees, how to make candles and wicks
  • A simple way to store chicken eggs without refrigeration for up to two years
  • What you need for individual/cooperative tools, supplies, equipment needed for survival
  • Improvised security devices, improvised weapons and improvised attack vehicles
  • How to make your own N95 equivalent reusable face mask
  • The most probable catastrophes that are looming and what their characteristics will be
  • How to make a bullet cause a shotgun effect by using the ‘skipping rounds’ technique
  • Where and how to get salt from Mother Nature virtually anywhere
  • The step by step procedure of organizing your neighborhood and how to put it in action
  • What to buy in emergency foods and proper storage
  • Cold weather refuge from freezing without burning fuel
  • How to make Pemmican-the long-term storage food staple that provides everything you need in one food source
  • Marksmanship fundamentals… how to logically and properly choose your firearm
  • Medical information and resources and alternative pain control methods
  • How to make your own hand sanitizer
  • All about short and long-range radio communications
  • Dental care, how to protect your teeth without a dentist and pain control methods
  • How to make your own toothbrush and toothpaste
  • What fuel to store and how to store it.
  • The ABCs of alternative power sources
  • How to survive hypothermia and cold weather when others die
  • How to aggressively defend your neighborhood using strategies and simple military tactics that will defeat far superior forces
  • How to survive biological infectious disease and protective equipment needed
  • Principles of an Area Tactical Proactive Defense, patrolling and house clearing
  • Strategic and tactical principles of thought
  • Tactics… Plain language explanations, that even with no military or Law Enforcement background, you can understand. Tactical and strategic principles, effects and movement:
    • All Around Defense
    • Fields of Fire
    • Interlocking Fields of Fire
    • Supporting Fields of Fire
    • Element of Surprise
    • Force Multiplier Effect
    • Violence of Action
    • Economy of Force
    • Kill Zone maze
    • Defense In Depth
    • Flanking Attack principles
    • L Shaped Ambush
    • Cover and Fire Movement
    • Fall Back Fighting Positions
    • Area Tactical Proactive Defense (aggressive defense employing offensive maneuvers)
    • Serpentine Entry Control
    • Perimeter Defense and the Vauban Star Perimeter Defense principle
    • Indirect Approach Strategy
    • Employment and coordination of Inside Marksmen and OutFlanker Marksmen
    • The Rapid Response Force
    • The third Dimension of the Defensive Perimeter
    • The Castle Concept
  • Setting up long-range marksmen and observation posts
  • How to fortify and defend a suburban neighborhood, high-rise building, ranch, farm or houseboat on a lake or river
  • Where to hunker down in the city
  • How to survive hurricane, earthquake, tornados, electrical power outages
  • Why government can’t assist and why you and your neighbors are on your own.
  • Why natural gas flow will stop with most severe disasters-contrary to popular thought
  • The organizational structure needed for a CDM Neighborhood Protection PlanTM
  • Defense Perimeter principles and how to build fortifications
  • Surviving Nuclear Warfare where you are with what you have
  • The effect of an Electro Magnetic Pulse event (EMP) on you and what it will damage
  • How to build an inexpensive Faraday Cage
  • Sanitation and care for the dead made simple
  • Fire protection procedures
  • What a disaster will really be like and how to mentally prepare yourself for disaster
  • How to create an essential Intelligence Section to know what is happening in your area
  • The A to Z of underground shelters and everything you could possibly want to know
  • Security in Motion, Survival-Escape-Resistance-Evasion (SERE)
  • How to deal with family, friends and those who don’t prepare
  • Bullet proof vest protection level chart and penetration chart of common materials
  • Morse Code chart
  • Emergency Radio Frequency list
  • The Military Phonetic Alphabet
  • Calculation form for food, how many people it will feed and for how long
  • Blood transfusion compatibility chart
  • Chart of Catastrophic Events and Characteristics
  • Numerous engaging and illustrative stories to heighten the learning experience
  • Book features: Large font, written in Layman terms, practical check box checklists and forms, definitions, diagrams, depictions, charts, photographs and stories

Update: Having received a copy of Civil Defense Manual, I can now see that contributing authors include Sam Culper of Forward Observer, NC Scout from Brushbeater blog, former Navy SEAL Matt Bracken, Concerned American from Western Rifle Shooters Assoc., and SELCO among others. All of those names should be familiar to readers of this website, as I’ve posted or linked to all of them previously. Their contributions are mostly in the form of chapters dealing with their specialties, like communications for NC Scout and intelligence by Sam Culper. At least some of those sections may have been previously published by those contributors. The two volumes are letter-sized paper, perfect bound, for a total of 950 pages.

See also Civil Defense Manual Store Food Now!

…The Food Weapon

No folks… not that kind of weapon. Food… or the lack thereof. Food is a weapon that can destroy people, movements, groups, nations… and those with enough power to control food and use it as a weapon… don’t have to lift a finger, fire one bullet or even engage their enemy.

All they have to do is sit back and wait for your emaciated and starved carcass to start rotting. Then what will come true is what Charles Heston said at an NRA Convention… “You can have my rifle… but you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands!” That’s what those who use food as a weapon will do… wait until you’re dead and cold. And as an added bonus… they have that fine firearm you were going to defend your lifestyle with…

AmPart: A Practical Approach to a Neighborhood Defense Plan

Noell Bishop of Bishop 30 Solutions has written a brief introduction at American Partisan on A Practical Approach to a Neighborhood Defense Plan.  If you find that you are interested in more detail on this topic, you can try to get your hands on a copy of A Failure of Civility  (or via pdf[98MB]) by Mike Garand and Jack Lawson which goes into detail on organizing neighborhood protection teams. It is hard to find these days, but AMP-3 still had some copies last I checked.

Before we dive into the subject of Neighborhood Defense, I thought I would share with you some of my experiences that lend to my thoughts on the matter. Although I have actually studied the subject I have had some events that have been very beneficial to me on the subject.

In 2005, I was a DEA agent assigned to the Houston Field Division in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that year. Myself and two other agents along with members of our air wing based out of Houston responded just after the hurricane had passed. What I saw and what I was told to do was somewhat over whelming to say the least. As a reservist, I had already participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and, to be honest, what I saw in New Orleans was worse because it was in the United States. Growing up, I had always heard it said that “no matter what, we Americans will stick together.” Well, I’m here to tell you that could not be farthest from the truth there in New Orleans. I’m not going to tell a bunch of war stories but let’s just say I used more of my Army Special Forces training than law enforcement training. When developing a Neighborhood Defense plan, I kind of equate it to a guerrilla base when things get really bad out there. So for that, I draw from my days in training at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School attending the Special Forces Officer Qualification Course and the Unconditional Warfare phase, Guerrilla Base Operations, and my time at Robin Sage and other sources.

Let’s start this by identifying what the possible threats are that would lend us to need a Neighborhood Defense plan…

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

In regards to Bishop’s statements above about the conditions in New Orleans post-Katrina, I recently heard another speaker, also former military with several years of duty under fire and also deployed to New Orleans/Katrina, make very similar comments about the horrible conditions there.