Radio Contra Ep. 166 The Next Civil War

In NC Scout’s Radio Contra episode 166, he dives into the unfolding situation with the Lake Mead drought threatening Las Vegas’ water reserves, and how this is a preview of future civil conflict here in the US. Related to that is the reality that civil conflict does not occur without a substantial economic interest behind it and the next war in the US will be no different.

Radio Contra Episode 166: The Next Civil War

Radio Contra Ep. 161 – Joe Dolio of Tactical Wisdom

In Radio Contra episode 161, NC Scout interviews Joe Dolio of Tactical Wisdom.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-7v4ba-123dc6c

Episode 161. I’m joined by Joe Dolio of Tactical Wisdom to break down the Uvalde shooting and discuss your responsibility as armed Americans for your own protection. Next we move into Russia’s next moves in Ukraine and westward, and what’s preparing to unfold in South America.

Radio Contra Ep. 158 Fourth Generation Warfare

NC Scout of Brushbeater.org speaks with author Marc J. O’Connor in episode 158 of Radio Contra.

Episode 158. I’m joined by Marc J. O’Connor, author of “Electronic Warfare for the 4GW Practitioner” to talk fourth generation warfare unfolding in American politics, the strategy the Left has employed, the role of NGOs in subverting American infrastructure and what this means for the future of the US.

Radio Contra Ep. 158 – NC Scout and Marc J. O’Connor on 4th Gen. Warfare

Radio Contra Ep. 148: James Wesley, Rawles on Economics, Precious Metals, and Community Protection

In Radio Contra Episode 148, NC Scout of Brushbeater interviews author and preparedness blogger James Wesley, Rawles.

I’m joined by James Wesley Rawles of Survivalblog.com and author of the Patriots series to discuss the danger the Dollar is currently in, investment strategies for precious metals, and how to better prepare yourselves and communities for the potential coming unrest as the result of a economy run amok.

Radio Control Ep. 148: NC Scout Interviews James Wesley, Rawles

Radio Contra Ep. 144 – NC Scout Interviews K on Crypto

In this Radio Contra podcast, NC Scout of Brushbeater and American Partisan interviews K of Combat Studies Group. This topic is Biden’s recent executive order on cryptocurrencies, what this means for the market long term, and what measures you can take to protect yourself from intrusions by Big Brother.

Radio Contra Episode 144. Interview with K of Combat Studies Group

Radio Contra: NC Scout Interview with K from Combat Studies Group

Through the link below to American Partisan is NC Scout’s (of Brushbeater and American Partisan) recent interview of K from Combat Studies Group. Some of our local community members have been lucky enough to train with both of these people.

Radio Contra Episode 135. Nightvision Tips and Tricks, World Sitrep and Training Pointers with K

Radio Contra Episode 135

Brushbeater Courses in WA State, Apr-May 2022

Brushbeater will be teaching several of their classes in Washington State at the end of April and early May. These will be held in the vicinity of Yakima. Forward all inquiries to: brushbeater@tutanota.com

Scout Course – April 29 – May 1, 2022

Three day class covers the basics of scouting and reconnaissance for irregular or unsupported forces. Course focuses first on marksmanship to 400 meters, personal camouflage and ghillie suit construction, individual and team movement, observation techniques, practical range cards, target acquisition, and basic wilderness survival in an off-grid encampment. By the end of the course, students will demonstrate abilities required for functioning as a small team to effectively locate and engage a simulated enemy, replicating real-world guerrilla operations.

RTO / ADV RTO / Signals Intelligence – May 3 – 8, 2022

RTO:

This class will teach students the basics of communications at the Team or Squad Level in the field. Topics of instruction include:

  • Identifying Equipment Requirements
  • Writing a Signals Operating Index
  • PACE Planning for Communications
  • Basic equipment capabilities
  • Traffic handling
  • Improvised antenna types, uses and construction
  • Setting up and running an NVIS HF station
  • Message Formats
  • Setting up and communicating from a field site

Two day course will culminate in an field training event running a TOC station and Hide site in the field. Students will each build an antenna and demonstrate competency in team communications basics during the field exercise. Amateur Radio license qualification is helpful, but not required. This is NOT a ‘ham radio’ class but each student will come away with a basic understanding of a team’s communications needs in a tactical environment and how to best meet them under less-than-ideal circumstances. No equipment is required for this course; however, if students want to get field practice with their own gear, it is highly encouraged but done so at their own risk. Instruction is completely off-grid.

Advanced RTO:

Two day class picks up where the RTO Basic Course leaves off, covering advanced techniques for clandestine communications in the field. Points of instruction include:

  • Advanced SOI planning
  • creating a brevity matrix
  • Planning and coordinating a dedicated transmitting site
  • Theory, construction and use of directional wire antennas
  • Recognizing and mitigating signs of Electronic Warfare
  • Advanced HF Techniques

As with RTO Basic, the course will culminate in a field exercise where students demonstrate the concepts covered in a live environment. By the end of both courses, students will be able to build a bulletproof communications network with even the most basic off the shelf equipment and little, if any, external support.

Signals Intelligence:

Two day course covers the essentials of signals collection and analysis in an asymmetric warfare environment. Course specifically focuses on building skills to better prepare a retreat or small unit for intercepting and exploiting an OPFOR’s ground communications. Students will learn:

  • Communications Mapping of your Area of Operations
  • Common, Off The Shelf tools for Signals Intelligence
  • Planning and construction of Listening Posts
  • Radio Direction Finding (RDF) Techniques
  • Signals Interception and Analysis
  • Coordinating with an Analysis and Control Element (ACE)
  • Tactical Exploitation

Each student in class will receive open source tools for conducting signals intelligence. At a minimum every student will come away with the essential skills needed to receive possible early warnings or simply stay abreast of problems in their area of interest or potential threats to their patrol.

NC Scout on The Gunmetal Armory Podcast

NC Scout of Brushbeater and American Partisan recently appeared on The Gunmetal Armory Podcast.

https://www.spreaker.com/user/prepperbroadcastingnetwork/tga-live-with-nc-scout-of-american-parti

I had the awesome experience of being on with The Gunmetal Armory podcast last week. It was a kick-ass time and I’d like to give a big shoutout to Dane for being an excellent host and all around good dude. Its likely we’re going to have a course or two out in AZ this coming Fall- so if you’re out there, I’m looking forward to training with you.

American Partisan: Signal App Compromised? Not So Fast…

NC Scout at American Partisan talks about the supposed compromise of the secure messaging app Signal in Signal App Compromised? Not So Fast… Remember that encryption works, and because encryption works the people who want your data will do anything they can to convince you to just not take the effort to use it.

Much has been written about the supposed compromise of Signal as a so-called ‘secure messaging app’, with some sources being a bit better than others on the matter. I’ve had a ton of questions about it over the past couple of days, and almost all of it doesn’t revolve around the issues with an app itself, but rather, the tradecraft errors behind using it.

First things first, almost everyone I come into contact with in the Liberty community, absent those with serious .mil backgrounds requiring at least a primer in tradecraft, have no idea what they’re actually doing. That statement is not meant to deride, far from it; its simply the truth. When it comes to communications, most are looking for a replacement: a methadone for a heroin addiction, if you will- to their incessant need for a phone. This is especially true when it comes to the instant gratification of messaging. I’m reminded of Russell Crowe’s line from a movie long since memory-holed, Body of Lies, saying “we just need al Saleem on the phone. Langley’ll do the rest.”

And they did.

Signal, as a software, does what it claims to do. On top of that, the source code for the app is open source and subject to anyone’s audit or modifications, should your skillset include the expertise in that area. And should you have that level of ability, you can even modify it to suit your needs running a code off the beaten path while still utilizing Signal’s network. It is end-to-end encrypted, after all. And what exactly does that mean? It means that the administrators can see that someone is accessing the network, but not what is being passed along it, much the same way that TOR actually works. Even with audio calls, the system does what it claims to do.

So let’s discuss the actual vulnerability in question.

According to documents filed by the Department of Justice and first obtained by Forbes, Signal’s encrypted messages can be intercepted from iPhone devices when those Apple devices are in a mode called  “partial AFU,” which means “after first unlock.”

When phones are in partial AFU mode, Signal messages can be seized by federal authorities and other potentially hostile interests. GrayKey and Cellebrite are the tools typically used by the FBI to gain this sensitive information, an expert has explained.

It uses some very advanced approach using hardware vulnerabilities,” said Vladimir Katalov, who founded the Russian forensics company ElcomSoft, believing that GrayKey was used by federal authorities to crack Signal.

So its not the app after all, but rather the hardware’s setting. A vulnerability which, since its a hardware exploit, likely applies to every messaging app. So tradecraft, or the lack thereof, is the heart. As per the usual. And the hardware in question is the hipster device of choice, an Apple iPhone. Shocker. But I thought Apple prided itself on user security?

Maybe at one point. But clearly no longer. Must be all that CCP money. And the real kick in the groin is that (shocker, again!) the FBI (or any other domestic security agency) can get into your phone without your handy little thumbprint. And just because they didn’t mention Android, don’t think its not every bit as vulnerable. It is.

So let’s talk about how to mitigate it.

First, understand the levels of data collected from cellular devices. I’ve discussed this ad nausem in the past. Your phone is constantly tracking you, no matter what you do absent putting it in an EMP bag, and if you cannot fully comprehend this reality then you’re really, really far behind the power curve. The lone answer is moving to using wi-fi only mobile devices for communications using open source apps. Wifi is common enough even in rural areas and if the technology is beyond you, so is your usefulness in a direct action cell.

Second, understand how to properly message people. The magic blanket of encryption may conceal our message but it neither conceals our presence nor our patterns of life- and in particular, who’s being messaged. This requires first discipline, and second, a pre-arranged (and trained on) code. One Time Pads work quite well, but a pre-configured Trigram or Brevity matrix works as well. On top of that, messages should be set to delete after a short period of time. Signal enables this, and if the message is important (it should be if you’re using Signal to send it), write it down. Clandestine messages are usually one-way as it is, requiring no overt response. Or if a response is necessary, respond through another backchannel (the same way I teach communicating on two different frequencies simultaneously in the RTO Course). Further, group messages of any more than two individuals is an instant non-starter. This violates even the most basic rules of clandestine cell organization and why Liberty groups feel the need to broadcast everything to everyone, I’ll never understand. Maybe you’ll learn one day. Domestic Black Sites are real.

Last, what you’re using as a so-called daily driver, ie your surface phone, is absolutely not used for this role. One of my own personal objections to Signal is and has always been the requirement of a phone number for registration. My Sudo allows us to bypass this by generating another phone number, but alternative apps such as Wire and Threema register via an email account…far, far better. And on that note you did install it on your own, absent Google play, correct?

So with that said, what do I think of this so-called ‘compromise’? It think its a smoke screen for CCP / Apple to keep their own compromise hidden in the details, as well as a smoke screen for disgruntled feminist intersectionalist IT workers behind the scenes at Signal unhappy that anyone other than AntiFa degenerates and washed up Agency Spooks would be using their app. For me, Signal is the C in my PACE plan- the ability to contact those using cell phones from my own wifi device, should the need arise. I don’t hang my hat on its ability outside my control. Neither should you. And the fact that a lot of people in this community do underscores just how behind the curve some of the louder voices really are. No matter what you’re doing, the correct answer is always using open source systems, have a PACE plan, follow the Moscow Rules and if there’s any doubt, there is no doubt.

American Partisan: HF NVIS Antenna

NC Scout of American Partisan talks about the HF NVIS Antenna.  Also check out a follow up post here.

In the last Radio Contra I discussed a simple way of rigging up an antenna for NVIS HF use. Its a topic that gets a lot of attention, and in turn, a lot of confusion. But trust me, its simple. The whole point behind HF is creating regional communications- anything that’s beyond line of sight– and while you can spend a heck of a lot of money in a hurry and not get a lot, you can spend just a few bucks and with a little knowhow I’m about to impart here, have a great setup.

NVIS relies on sending as much of your radiated energy skyward as possible, with as close to a zero degree takeoff as possible. So, this means a horizontal antenna close to the ground. In case you’re wondering, the takeoff angle is perpendicular to the orientation of the antenna- so, if the antenna is vertical, you’ll have a very shallow takeoff angle, aka groundwave, if its horizontal, the radiation goes vertical. NVIS generally works best between 1.8-8mHz, with the higher frequencies working better during the day and the lower ones at night.

I’ll also add to this that the direction finding threat almost exclusively comes from groundwave. So on HF, NVIS is what you’re looking for. As little groundwave as possible.

So with that said, let’s talk about this antenna.

The first thing to know is that its built out of dirt cheap materials. 128ft 14AWG stranded wire, a Cobra Head, and ten plastic electric fence posts. Less than $25 or so.

For an 80M dipole antenna, each leg is going to be roughly 64ft long. You can make a loop or use a ring terminal to secure the wire to each end of the cobra head. Stretch it out- now you’ve got a dipole. Those plastic fence posts serve both as a suspension for the antenna and as an insulator. All you have to do is wrap the ends in a loop, and boom, you’re ready to rock and roll.

The antenna itself is roughly 2ft off the ground. This creates a high amount of reflectivity from the ground, sending your radiation almost completely vertical.

And with that, you’ve got a dirt cheap antenna that works pretty well. If you want to see how it works and get hands on building one, come out to class.

American Partisan: Commo Questions Answered

NC Scout at American Partisan answers some radio communication questions from readers, including one about terrain/vegetation and the effect on signal in Commo Questions Answered.

I’m starting up a regular post series where I field your questions on communications-related topics. There’s a TON of questions I get emailed every week that normally revolve around the same concepts or topics, so this is going to be a good way to get them out there for more people to index and use. Keep in mind none of this is a replacement for what you’ll get in the RTO Course, where I literally take you from basement-level knowledge and build you up to creating communications infrastructure where there otherwise would be none, taking it up a notch in the Advanced RTO Course teaching you techniques on operating in non-permissive environments.

MT01 asks:

I know we practice the jungle antenna in the scout course, and course graduates talk a lot about using it. I’ve attached a photo that shows they type of terrain and vegetation that covers the majority of the area where I live, aside from agricultural fields/orchards. It seems like the jungle antenna is not the ideal choice in this terrain. Should we consider ourselves lucky that our signal won’t be blocked by trees? Should be use portable yagi antennas like the Elk antenna line? Is it better to just keep with the rubber ducks? My assumption would be rubber ducks for intrasquad comms and yagi for squad to HQ. We’re also experimenting with some AREDN mesh for certain digital/computer network communications, but aren’t to the point of using it portably, yet. Just wondering your thoughts. I know that most of your posts are going to be tilted toward your local terrain and vegetation, but if you need an idea for a post maybe one on radio or scout operations in more open terrain.

This is an outstanding one. Taking it from the top, vegetation absolutely has an impact on your signal. The higher in frequency you go, the worse it gets. (reference: PRC-64 report in Jungle conditions and tactical jungle communications study) This is one of the reasons why VHF is a better choice in rural terrain over UHF. But then again, that might also be a reason to choose UHF in a rural area. Your signal won’t be blocked completely, but it will get scattered, and possibly to the point it won’t be readable. This makes a big difference when using digital modes, especially DMR. Either way, as you know from the RTO Course, a 4-5w handheld radio can do much when coupled with an antenna purpose-built for the frequency. Jungle antennas are omni-directional, meaning they transmit in all directions at once (as well as receive), so they’re best suited for two tasks:

  1. When you’re needing communications over an entire area, such as a retreat setting.
  2. When your patrol is literally lost (can’t get a fix on your location) and you need to make communications with a Recovery team.

Regarding directional antennas, this is ALWAYS the preference when transmitting to mitigate the DF threat. Not to jump on a rant here, but there’s a reason patrol planning takes as much time as it does in the real world (usually a week, sometimes longer). Among those tasks is mapping out transmission sites and planning the azimuths to transmit your communications. Yeah, its a lot of work. Yeah, its hard. This ain’t for everyone. And if your life depends on it you learn to do it right. You know this, but a lot of other people reading this probably don’t (and will LOVE to comment about exactly how much they don’t know). But long story short you should always be communicating with directional antennas provide you have the ability to do so. In your environment (sagebrush), it’d be a good idea to add a cheap camera tripod to the mix and run your antennas off that.

Inter-team communications are at the Tactical Level– meaning they’re immediate in nature, coordinating fire and maneuver in real time. The range needed is usually short, less than 1km or so, and the standard duck antenna is fine in this role. And contrary to popular belief, only one person on the team needs a radio- the element Leader. That’s it. Anything more than that leads to a breakdown in the command and control capabilities. When you’re going beyond that, to relay critical information to and from a central command point, such as a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) in a Guerrilla Base, this is where the directional communications become a requirement.

On the mesh networking topic…this is a good one. For a local use setup, its good for linking. Just keep in mind you’re not gonna get a ton of range out if it- its meant for a local area, such as a retreat or G-camp. And the second someone attempts to link it to the regular internet, its potentially compromised.

YT asks:

Check the answer in the last paragraph above.

Another topic that I would like to learn about: covert antennas (at home and on vehicles). I live in a subdivision that has nosy neighbors and a restrictive home owners association, so Ham antennas aren’t allowed.

Are there relevant use cases for remote transceivers? If we don’t want to radiate from home, but our gear’s at home, how can we transmit without undue DF risk?

This is actually a very common question. Check out this reference: https://amzn.to/3pvVUQx
It was one of the references we used when learning about HF antennas in non-permissive environments and one that I still reference today. That’s the central idea behind teaching students to build antennas in class, so they understand the underlying concepts behind them. Couple that with John Hill’s excellent work on wire antennas: https://amzn.to/3mQZ4fC
And finally, Sandman sends:

So I’ve been thinking about adding a man portable 11m rig to my signal repertoire to add a way for field ops to establish comms with a fob or hq. Also been thinking about fldigi over 11m. Do you have any experience with this?

11m, also known as Citizen’s Band (CB) radio in the US, is quite a capable tool for use in the field and one that won’t attract a ton of attention when used for underground purposes. FL Digi absolutely is capable over it, especially with some of the narrowband modes such as PSK-31 or RTTY.

If I were rigging up a manpack, I’d bypass kludging a mobile unit into service and simply run a handheld. They fit fine in a surplus MBITR pouch. Just make sure you build a REAL antenna for it. The stock rubber duck on handheld CB antennas are garbage at best. To run FL Digi over them it can be as simple as holding the mic up to the audio on the mobile device and transmitting, but its much cleaner (and less headache) to rig up a dedicated audio output to audio input (on the radio). We so this in the RTO Course with Baofengs using the APRS K1 cable, which makes it pretty simple. I’ve never built one for a handheld CB (or any CB for that matter), but they’re plentiful for a MARS/CAP modded Amateur radio rig (and I have done that).

Anyhow- great questions and as always I look forward to hearing from y’all.

Brushbeater: Ontario Ranger Assault Knife – Best?

My Ontario RAK in a third-party kydex sheath

Here is NC Scout of Brushbeater talking about Ontario’s Ranger Assault Knife: The Best Of All Worlds? Perhaps I’m a little biased because I have one of these knives and enjoy it myself. NC Scout mentions getting a better sheath, and I have a kydex sheath made by someone who doesn’t appear to be making them any more, but here’s a photo of the sheath. There are similar kydex sheaths sold by others available online.

What would be that ‘one knife’, that if the rest of the world went to hell, that you could strap on your side and do just about everything you’d need a fixed blade to do?

That’s a tough question and one I bet more than a few of you battle on a regular basis. I do, and I’ve carried knives I picked into hell with me, only to later find something that fit the bill just a bit better. It seems like with each wilderness trip, class, or hunt I end up with new wants in a blade. It hasn’t got any better since I got that first Air Force Survival Knife (aka the Jumpmaster knife) I borrowed from an AWOL kid’s kit so long ago. Doubt he missed it. That knife did everything I ever asked it to, is easy to sharpen, and doubles as a combat effective fighting knife. And for a long while it served me well, and still absolutely could had I not retired it when I returned from Afghanistan. But would it be my first choice today? Probably not; designs have evolved and I’ve got a number of knives that fit the general purpose bit a lot better, and one of them is Ontario’s Ranger Assault Knife.

Combat knives are always a fun topic of discussion and one that’s often highly personal. That old USAF design was meant to be a jack of all trades and it excelled at a few. Like most of its contemporaries, it is a stick tang short Bowie-type with an integrated handguard to prevent the user’s hands from slipping up the blade during a stab but also to protect against glancing blows. Mine slayed MREs, 550 cord and tubular nylon just like everyone else’s- even skinned a goat we picked up from a local village in Afghanistan. Its also made notches, battoned wood, made fire and processed domestic game with the best of them.

I’ve always loved tactical knives and fighter-type blades. But the reality is that most often a tactical knife, with many serrations, odd grind angles and ultra-hard steel is more a hindrance than an enabler for most mundane survival tasks. What’s basic and simple, at least in my experience, has become the preferred blade to a lot of the more tactical-oriented types. It’s a view that’s neither good or bad, its just personal choice based on what we call on our tools to do. Some of these tasks include:

  • Skinning and processing game
  • Light Chopping
  • Making feather sticks and tinder bundles
  • Striking of Ferro Rods
  • Batoning through small limbs
  • Be easily re-honed in the field

Lets look at the list. Any knife can skin and process game- in fact I’ve skinned more animals with my decade-old Buck-Strider folder than any other knife I’ve owned. And likewise for feather stick making, any sharp knife with decent edge geometry can do that. But for the heavier duty tasks a good fixed blade is what’s needed. For battening through limbs, a full-tang knife is really the best option. I’ve done it with the old USAF knife, but a full tang construction is best. And when striking ferro rods, high carbon steel and a squared spine gets the job done without having to use the knife’s edge. Speaking of, the ability to bring back a good working edge in the field is paramount. S30V, 154CM and the like are excellent for edge retention, but what happens if your edge does take some damage during use? 1095 is easier to bring back even from severe damage while using a small field stone or diamond plate like we use in the First Line Course, along with a small piece of leather as a strop.

So that brings us to Ontario’s Ranger Assault Knife (RAK). Justin Gingrich, founder of Ranger Knives and Green Beret, partnered with Ontario Knife Company several years back to mass produce his tactical and survival blade designs. I’ve used an RD-7 for a number of years now as a general purpose woods blade and its a highly functional design. His knives are a no-frills, hard use utilitarian types over the elegance of say, a Randall Made or Blackjack. These are not exactly lookers, but they will do everything asked of them and probably much more. The Ranger Assault Knife was something of a crossover design; combining the attributes of a functional fighting weapon and qualities you’d want in a simple survival knife.

Even batoning through this large knotty pine, which is generally a no-no, is no problem for the RAK.

The design sports a sabre grind that starts 2/3 of the way up the blade. Even after heavy use, including batoning, there’s no visible damage to the edge.

Looking over the design you’ll notice the spear point of the 6 inch blade. It’s as great for stabbing as it is choking up on the knife and making finer cuts with the tip. Being 3/16in thick and having the full width go to the tip, its very strong for any prying task you might be called on to do in the wild. Fortunately choking up on that blade is made easy by the very large (yuuuge!) choil. It allows you to control the blade for power cuts but also to accommodate the guard as part of the design. It’s one solid piece of 1095 steel, hardened to 53-55rc, which is hard enough to retain an edge a reasonable amount of time while still soft enough to flex when prying or batoning to prevent chipping. And the knife has no issues batoning- hard wood, soft wood, anything reasonable it breaks down pretty easily.

The blade itself sports a thick saber grind with a short, flat secondary bevel. I prefer a full flat grind for pretty much everything I do with a knife, but on this blade it works to the advantage of the design by maintaining the knife’s strength. Since the parameters of the intended use include aircrew survival, that strength is required when possibly cutting through aluminum airframes or punching out glass.  The pointed pommel serves as a glass breaker also, the same way the older RAT 5 and ESEE 5 knives do. And that leads me to my only real complain with it; that spike pommel is borderline obnoxious. Everything else about the knife is excellent, and since I don’t plan on needing to egress from an aircraft anytime soon, I’m thinking of grinding it down a bit. And the stock sheath is a flimsy nylon piece of junk. I threw it in the trash and had a kydex one made. But that’s it; the steel, the heat treat, the edge retention, and the flat out utility of this knife is excellent.

My Final Thoughts

The RAK pictured next to a RAT 5. Compare the glass breaker bevels on both.

For what this blade costs, around $65, it’s an excellent buy and well worth picking up a couple. You’ll need a better sheath but honestly I’m rarely happy with most stock sheaths. The design is definitely a jack of all trades and well thought out as a utility blade for those going into harm’s way. And as easily as it can be used in combat, it finds itself at home with a wide variety of survival tasks. Would it be that ‘one knife’ to use if the world went to hell? I think it could be. You could spend a heck of a lot more money and not come close to what you get out of this blade.

Brushbeater: A Guerrilla’s Experience in Boot Selection

NC Scout at Brushbeater has another short article on boots, this time inspiration taken from an American guy who converted to Islam and fought in various places around the world. A Guerrilla’s Experience in Boot Selection. You can check out NC Scout’s previous boot post here.

I was sorting through some old stuff cleaning out a building- an odd collection of crap, mostly junk, from a stack of toughboxes holding my old gear from sometime in between deployments to the middle east. Its crazy just how much junk one bubba can collect, how you instantly are reminded of certain thoughts and feelings when you last used whatever it was, but most important, you come back to old gear with a different perspective.

Digging up a tattered old copy of Aukai Collins’ book My Jihad I had that feeling. Its been a couple of years since I last read it and that copy sits on my bookshelf. But this copy is different. Its a hard cover and was given to me by a pubic affairs guy I was drinking buddies with way back when, who knew Aukai through Robert Young Pelton’s Dangerous Places forum and had stuck up a friendship after living in southern Arizona near him. Back then I was fascinated by the story of a guy who, probably as a product of a rough upbringing and a renegade attitude against the world, converted to Islam in a California youth prison and took up arms in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and then Chechnya. Despite the religious aspect, he didn’t go fight for anything other than himself. He just didn’t know it at the time. And maybe that was the part that intrigued me the most. The story sounded familiar then and far more so now.

Even still, Aukai’s story is a telling one. despite his bungling across eastern Europe and Central Asia culminating in the Caucasus, its full of valuable lessons for a anyone reading it. It is a brutal yet entertaining tale of lessons learned in an asymmetric conflict. A big one is footwear. A man can go without a lot of things but proper footwear is the one thing that will either keep you going in miserable conditions or make you miserable in decent ones. And as anyone who’s trained with me knows, what’s on my feet is what I’ll always recommend.

Aukai died four years ago, but he left an interesting blog behind from about twelve years ago that I skimmed through after dusting off that old copy of My Jihad. And funny enough, he wrote about boots in one of the first posts.

For those of you browsing my website or blog who hail from the San Diego County area I have an interesting side note for you. In my book I mentioned that during one of my original adventures overseas I had to hike up a steep, muddy ravine that would allow us to by pass one of the bad guy’s firebases. This turned into an all night ordeal, hiking/crawling up steep ravines in the dark and mud. Upon exiting the ravine this was followed by another hike through a thick muddy field until we crossed the border and realitive safety.

Our guide took us to the first of a series of safe houses. Keeping with the local custom we took our boots off before entering the “home” (it was actually a man and his wife and four children living in a Conex shipping container because their house had been blown into a pile of rubble). My associates that had made the trek with me took of their wet boots caked in mud and then their socks had to come off also because these too were soaked. Although there were far greater problems to come during the war, like for example out of the four associates who had made the muddy trek with me that night, I am the only one left alive, at that moment soaking wet cold feet with blisters seemed to be quite a catastrophe.

I on the other hand was in relative luxury. My feet were bone dry and didn’t have a blister on them. I actually said a silent little thank you to the man that had sold me my beautiful Danners. My feet would continue that way on through the rest of the war until the day shrapnel from a POM-50 directional mine would tear through the boots like swiss cheese making holes in my legs that would eventually lead to the amputation of the right one.

https://aukaicollins.blogspot.com/2008/05/boots.html

Sounds awful familiar. Experience may be a cruel mistress but she is a good teacher. Danner is good to go and a pair of Elk Hunters are what’s on my feet as I type this. But then again I also have former Marine Raiders who brings a deer he killed in the back of his truck to my Alumni weekend and am trying to find time to get in the woods to kill my own this year…so it shouldn’t come as a shock.

Spend the coin and get a good pair of boots- its the lone deficiency that you can’t make up for in other ways in the field.