Tensions Rising Over Ukraine War

In the past few days there has been a spate of news describing escalating tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

First, NATO announced a new strategic deterrence concept aimed at the Russia-China alliance, while President Biden warned Putin about escalating the Ukraine conflict saying, “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.”

Putin responded to these threatening words, announcing a partial mobilization of Russia.

Calling the moves “urgent, necessary steps to defend the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia,” Putin said that Russia is fighting the full might of NATO. The US and its allies, he said, are seeking to “destroy” Russia.

Radio Contra Ep. 184. NC Scout breaks down Putin’s speech

Then Russia announced that they could use nuclear weapons to defend the annexed regions of Ukraine. Russia had just the day before moved to formally annex the areas of Ukraine under control of Russia’s soldiers.

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” said Putin.

Then Russia restricted travel for young men as part of its national mobilization, and called up 300,000 reservists. Russia’s domestic airlines have halted all sales of tickets abroad to men aged 18 to 65 without a waiver from the Ministry of Defense. The BBC reported lines of Russians trying to flee through the Georgia border.

Nearby nations are preparing for escalating conflict. Estonia has decided to confiscate firearms belonging to Russians living in the country. Meanwhile the President of Serbia is warning that there may be a great world conflict in the next few months. Tensions have increased between Turkey and Greece as they have started to revisit territorial disputes since the start of the Ukraine war. The EU also recently called for a war crimes tribunal over mass graves in Ukraine where bodies showed signs of torture after Russian occupation.

How does this or could this affect you? While Ukraine has had political and economic issues for many years, now, it is still an agricultural powerhouse. When it was part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was responsible for 25% of the entire agricultural output of the USSR. If Russia was able to control the entirety of Ukraine, it would approximately double its wheat and corn and production. Even without controlling the entire country, the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine grow the most wheat. Combining just the exports of wheat by Russian and Ukraine, the two would more than double the amount of the second place exporter – the US.

We’ve seen Europe’s dependence on Russian fuel and how the conflict has caused fuel prices to rise worldwide, but especially in Europe. Should Russia also start controlling the food, it’s hard to predict specific outcomes, but food prices have already risen as a result of uncertainty over Ukrainian wheat exports.

Russia may be seeking a second lever in its geopolitical arsenal, adding food to fuel. Or it may be preparing for a period of imposed international isolation by “stocking up” on its neighbor food and fuel. Either way the effects on food and fuel will be upward moving prices even without the conflict going nuclear or spreading to additional countries.

Putin notices that Ukraine is a little “light on defensive weaponry”

Tactical Wisdom: Know Your Surroundings

In Know Your Surroundings, Joe Dolio of Tactical Wisdom talks about awareness, assessment and map studies.

An important part of personal safety and tactical awareness is understanding your surroundings and how to find help or refuge in an emergency. That’s our topic today.

What does the Ultimate Tactical Manual (The Bible) say about it? Before Joshua led his people over the River Jordan, he sent out a recon team, telling them:

…Go, look over the land…

…especially Jericho”

Joshua 1:1

Joshua knew that he shouldn’t just blindly rush into a location with no idea of what was already there, and neither should you. He wanted to know the general area, as well as his specific goal.

Think of the places where you normally go and ask yourself if you can honestly answer these basic questions:

1. How many emergency exits are there?

2. Where is the nearest hospital?

3. What police agency covers the location and where is the nearest station?

4. How do I get out of the parking lot if the main entrance is blocked and what road does that put me out on?

5. In the event of an active shooter, where is there a strong point with only one entrance that I could possibly defend myself and others from?

Knowing the answers to these questions doesn’t make you paranoid, it makes you SAFE. It really doesn’t take long to gather this information and it could easily save your life. In our age of handheld electronic devices, you can literally develop this information in seconds, even on the fly.

Start small; begin with your home, then move on to work and other places you frequent. As you develop the skills, it becomes a fun habit and you get faster at doing it.

Lets talk about how we do it.

MAP STUDY

The first step is called a Map Study. While it can be done on a cell phone, cell service may not be available in an emergency. I’m also not a fan of letting Google know where I am at all times, nor where I plan on going.

I’m a huge proponent of having paper maps. I keep a binder at home filled with paper maps, each opened and folded to an 8 ½ by 11 area of somewhere I frequent. I keep these in sheet protectors, so that they can be written on. This makes it easy for me to grab the applicable map and throw it into my Battle Board (and excellent product that lets you write on maps with dry erase markers – www.battleboard.us) or my clip board with a clear dry-erase cover.

I also recommend buying large-format “gazette” type map books, which are combined outdoor and street maps generally covering an entire state.

Another good source for maps is your local township or county clerk. They generally give free maps to residents of the township or county. I’m not advocating lying to a city official, but I’ve never been asked to produce identification proving that I live or work in a city when getting a free city paper map.

Using the map, learn at least 3 and preferably 4 routes into and out of every area that you frequent, or where you are going. At least one of these routes should avoid major roads and intersections, which will be clogged in an emergency.

While looking at the routes, note any hospitals, fire stations, and police stations along that route. In everyday travels, these are “safe havens” you can use to seek help. In an emergency, they are places where people will congregate and should be avoided.

Maps, especially paper maps, will tell you which police and fire departments respond to the area and where their stations are.

As far as hospitals, note their location and at least 2 routes to the nearest hospital from anywhere you go. Most people say, “An ambulance will take me, why would would I need to know that?”. Review the news coverage from the last few mass shooting incidents; most people arrived at the hospital by private vehicle. I’m not to willing to leave my life in the hands of a government employee, so I’ll ensure that I can get there myself or take others there myself if I have to.

Also study ways you could leave the immediate area on foot; you may have no choice but to leave on foot and come back to your car later.

THE DRIVE-AROUND

When you arrive somewhere, a quick drive around of the building only takes a couple of minutes and you can develop vital information on a drive-around.

First, you can note any graffiti in the rear alley, indicating roughly the propensity for criminal activity in the area.

You can also inspect the fence that surrounds most retail shopping centers – Not because we care about the fencing, but because if you have to escape an active shooter or other threat like fire, it’s good to know that you can get through the fence and not be trapped inside.

You will also see where emergency exits will let you out of the building at. If I escape through an emergency exit, only to be trapped in a locked utility space, I haven’t done myself any good.

You’ll also be able to determine the general security posture of a business by seeing if the back doors are locked & secure, or if they are standing open. You have to decide if you’ll patronize a business that doesn’t even care about their own safety, let alone yours.

Many retail strip centers also have more secure parking for employees in the rear with a walkway out to the main area, which may provide you with a safer place to park with less foot traffic.

PARKING LOT PAUSE

Before getting out of the car to head inside a business, do two things:

1. HANG UP THE PHONE – Also, put it away completely to resist the temptation to scroll social media while you walk, distracting you.

2. Look Around – take a quick panoramic look around the lot before exiting the vehicle. Be honest – you don’t do this right now.

ON SCENE ASSESSMENT

The on-scene assessment is very brief pause you can take anytime you enter a building; it only takes a couple of seconds and could save your life.

As you enter a building, step to the side of the doorway and glance quickly around your surroundings.

1. Note first what people are doing closest to you – people have walked in on robberies.

2. Note the emergency exits (look for the red signs).

3. Note any additional data – for example, in most businesses, a large red dot on a pillar or wall indicates the location of a fire extinguisher.

4. Locate restrooms immediately – not because you need one, but because they are strong points that have a single door, and the walls are generally tile on the inside, giving better protection than drywall.

Remain aware of changes the entire time you are in the location, especially if it’s open to the public.

REMAINING ALERT ON DEPARTURE

Before leaving a building, stop just inside the door and look outside first (there’s a reason the door is made of glass), to make sure that you aren’t blindly stepping out into a bad situation.

Try to see the entire route to your car.

While walking, resist the temptation to check your phone or make phone calls.

Remain alert the entire way to your car.

Stop in the driving aisle, before stepping between your car and the one next to it. Take a look between the cars before stepping in to that enclosed space. If you don’t and someone attacks you between the cars, you can only get away in one direction. Stopping in the aisle, you have many other escape options.

Once inside the car, lock the doors before doing anything else.

A side note on the remote unlock feature on your car – set it so that one press unlocks only the driver’s side door. Many default to unlocking all doors, but that’s unsafe, especially if you’re alone.

CONCLUSION

Planning ahead is smart, only takes a few minutes, and is a good habit to get into.

Take a few minutes to plan ahead, and you may well save your life.

Tactical Wisdom: Being Ready – Nehemiah

The following comes from Joe Dolio’s Tactical Wisdom blog, Being Ready – Nehemiah.

When the Jews returned to Jerusalem with Nehemiah, they were returning to a destroyed city, completely surrounded by enemies. The lessons taught in the Book of Nehemiah are just as valid today in either a Without Rule of Law (WROL) situation, or even in everyday life.

Nehemiah 4:23 says “Neither I, nor my brothers, nor my men took off our clothes, each had his weapon; even when he went for water.”

This isn’t bad advice, no matter what century.

The point of the advice is to remain aware and ready to defend yourself at all times. This was referred to by the legend Jeff Cooper as “Condition Yellow”. It means remaining engaged and being aware of the people around you, your environment, and potential issues that may develop, rather than being distracted by your phone or daydreaming.

When I approach a commercial building, like a store or gas station, I glance through the door or windows first, then as soon as I enter I take in the whole scene, noting all potential exits. It only takes two seconds and could potentially save your life.

In a true WROL situation, this becomes even more important. Nehemiah’s admonition to always be armed takes on special significance in the wake of a natural disaster, mass quarantine, power grid failure, or economic collapse.

In urban areas, the average house has about 48 hours worth of food in it. After the ability to quickly restock food from the corner store has gone away, hungry people will get desperate and remaining armed at all times can be the difference between safety and injury, or worse.

In that situation, you and your team should be fully armed and in “full kit” (sidearm, fixed blade knife, long gun, spare ammunition, and RADIO) at all times. When sleeping, be clothed, like Nehemiah suggests, with all your gear within arms reach. Luke 11:21 says “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his house, his possessions are safe.”

I also recommend highly the “3 Blade Rule”. You should always have available in everyday carry (EDC) and on your body in a WROL situation, 3 blades. First, a folding blade knife, which can be carried in a pocket for EDC or on your gear otherwise. Second, some type of multi-tool. For EDC, my Gerber Suspension and my Gerber M600 are in my laptop bag and in WROL, they have pouches on my web gear. The third blade is a full-size fixed blade knife. For EDC, the fixed blade knife is in my “Emergency Egress” backpack in the rear of my SUV (I carry either a Gerber LMF Infantry or my trusty USMC Ka-Bar). With these three blades, you can solve nearly any emergency, self-defense, or survival need.

As far as EDC carry of a firearm, Nehemiah said they carried their weapons everywhere, even to get water and it’s solid advice. There is no purpose is obtaining a Concealed Pistol License and then not carrying a pistol. I recommend carrying whatever your EDC gear is, whether it’s a handgun or a knife (and it should be both) everywhere that you legally can. You can’t possibly predict when evil or flawed ideology will touch your life, so it’s your responsibility to always be ready.

One more point about EDC: Whether or not you choose to arm yourself for EDC, you should ALWAYS carry a first aid kit. If you do choose to lawfully carry a firearm or knife, you MUST carry a first aid kit. Carrying first aid supplies really isn’t hard and can save lives in any emergency. I’ll do a full post on these, but here’s a recap of what I carry and where:

  • Laptop bag: Ziploc bag of various band-aids, some gauze, a pressure bandage (for gunshot wounds or any penetrating trauma), a tourniquet, and a CPR mask/gloves.
  • Emergency Egress Backpack: Full kit with band-aids, wipes, antibiotic, gauze, pressure dressings, triangular bandage, Cellox, EMT shears, gloves, CPR mask.
  • Trunk of SUV: Full Size med kit with multiple pressure dressings, tourniquet, band-aids of every size, combine pads, gauze, triangular bandages, tape, wipes, antibiotic, conforming bandage, EMT shears, minor medications, CPR mask, and gloves.
  • IFAK (moves between bags): Full kit like above, but also with Cellox for blood clotting.

The first aid kits may seem to be a bit much, but I’ve been blessed to be able to help injured people at accident scenes many times in my life. Having the right gear and never needing it is FAR better than needing the gear and NOT having it.

Thanks for reading!

Jack Lawson’s Review Of The Tactical Wisdom Series 

Jack Lawson is the author of Civil Defense Manual and co-author of the older and now out of print A Failure of Civility. Here he gives a review of Joe Dolio’s Tactical Wisdom, another preparedness book series. All of the works above are worth your time. Jack’s books have a larger format with many photos and diagrams, while Joe’s are smaller with only text, but also may be written in more easy to read style.

Tactical Wisdom (2 Book Series)

Rare does a book catch my attention like Tactical Wisdom. It could have been authored by my alter ego. But the Author, Joe Dolio, has created what I consider a companion and must-read book to my book the Civil Defense Manual. His book “Tactical Wisdom TW-01 Baseline Training Manual” has almost every procedure in it that my book has… presented in a concise and superb manner. He also has a great writing style.

The man clearly must be a genius, if by his definition of the word, we think alike. For those unaware of what I’m talking about, you’d have to read Joe’s opening line in his review of my book. But Joe and I, regardless of our level of intelligence and I’m definitely not a genius, agree on the way to Preparedness, Survival and organizing with others for Strength Through Numbers for protection.

This review is not a ‘trade off’ knee jerk evaluation of the Tactical Wisdom Series from me because Joe wrote a generous review for me… because anyone who knows me well, knows that I won’t praise a poor presentation, incompetence and or misinformation for any reason. The fact is that this Marine Corps Veteran has written a classic in writing the “Tactical Wisdom Base Line Training Manual.”

I know that Joe is more intelligent than me by one item… as he quotes The Ultimate Base Line Book… the Bible… in his book. That incredible Guide Book that I’ve seemed to wandered away from… despite being brought up by it. Some people that know me would say… “Lawson, you reading the Bible!?”

Well, I am drifting back to the Bible and Christianity… probably from the insanity of what illogic is bringing our society. I am not reading it because “I’m looking for a loophole” for my transgressions, like W.C. Fields said when one of his friends questioned him astounded that he was reading the Bible on his death bed. I have a pretty good idea where I’m going… and it won’t be pretty… but I still hold out hope for Valhalla.

That being said, I believe our exclusion of God, his Son and the Holy Spirit by many ‘enlightened’ and ‘elite’ people is the basis of the on-going destruction of the fabric of society, decency, the family, Free Enterprise (instead of Fascist Corporations), Individual Rights and Constitutional America.

When the huge egos and twisted values of those who become legends in their own minds represents the aggregate essence of a world of peoples… in lieu of the righteousness and principles of an Immortal and Benevolent Higher Power… mankind is well on the way to catastrophe… if not extinction.

I have read just about every survival book out there. Good ones… and bad ones. Fiction and non-fiction… handbooks, manuals and riveting fiction plots… some with excellent common-sense survival information and storylines… and then there are those with the ‘expert’s fantasy’ on how to survive.

What started me off was the late British Author John Christopher’s 1957 science fiction novel “No Blade of Grass,” first published as “The Death of Grass,” and made into a movie in 1970. A post-apocalypse story where food crops fail, and the world descends into chaos.

But novels cannot convey to you all the necessary methods and explain all the critical information on Preparedness and Survival no matter how good a story they are. However, novels will get you thinking in the right direction and sometimes point out stark issues that imaginations cannot conceive of in normal civility.

A case in point… William Forstchen’s “One Second After.” I said bull shytte when his story had 90% of Americans dying within one year after a High-altitude Electro Magnetic Pulse event (HEMP or EMP) happened. I retracted my words after reading the story and understanding why he would be correct in his assessment.

All the books you will read on apocalyptic events, Preparedness and Survival will give you basic, and in some cases extensive, information necessary to survive disaster and Catastrophic Events… however some will also give you and yours an early meeting with your Maker for inaccurate and erroneous information. Deadly.

But both fiction and non-fiction books on Preparedness and Survival create in you something critical… a valuable thought process that gives you a different perspective and understanding of the frailty of we humans on this planet.

And regardless… almost every book you read leaves you knowing something you didn’t know before you picked it up, if you check the accuracy of the information. Life is a process of learning… up to the second you pass from this world into the next.

What you’ll get in Tactical Wisdom Series is the solid information and procedures on what you must do to prepare for calamity and how to survive it. We both tell people what and how to do it, but Joe brilliantly puts a synopsis and summary at the end of each of his chapters called Base Line Standards.

I look at his Base Line Standards summary at the end of each chapter as the “get up and go… do it if you’re for real…” or don’t… if you’re an arm chair commando and couch potato. When I write a new edition of the Civil Defense Manual… I’ll do the same… put a summary of what people must do in ‘one-line sentences’ at the end of each chapter. A true motivator. A “Shytte… or get off the pot!” motivator.

I was astounded page by page in the similarity of Tactical Wisdom Base Line Standard ‘TW-01’ to the Civil Defense Manual. I haven’t finished Tactical Wisdom Fieldcraft TW-02 yet, but I will and will review that also.

This Marine Corps Veteran has also seen the boogeyman. That ‘qualification’ of combat experience alone does not convey a super mythical power that enables an author to write Preparedness and Survival books… but it does make you hyper-vigilant towards obvious and hidden threats… and creates a “what if mindset” from all the butt puckering of war like going through a hamburger grinder. Some people get this mental state without combat… but most people never do.

Like Robert Preston said in “The Music Man…” “There’s trouble in River City!” Only this trouble coming is real and is not a con job. You will live in exciting times in the next decades… make sure you have water to drink, food to eat and neighbors and friends to help protect you and your family… as well as you, them. Your “Tribe.”

Buy Tactical Wisdom and learn. I am excited that Joe plans to put out more in his series, as he indicates he will… books that will compartmentalize what each facet of Preparedness and Survival skills should teach you. I bought them and am learning from them… you should too.

Joe’s definitely a ‘get up and go’ type of guy with a visionary approach to Preparedness and Survival…

…so, my Base Line Standard advice to you is to ‘get up and go…’

First… get Joe’s books… read his “Tactical Wisdom Base Line Training Manual TW-01” …and start putting together your plan… but with his books’ guidance.

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.

Tactical Wisdom: Being Honest About WROL Comms

Joe Dolio at Tactical Wisdom has written an article titled Being Honest About WROL Comms (h/t American Partisan) which talks a little about amateur radio experts versus regular joes. Another way of putting that might be high tech hardware versus whatever gets the job done. And yet another way to describe the article is to tell ham radio people to stop intimidating new radio users with an overwhelming discussion of encryption, overspec’d radios, radio spectrum, etc., and just recommend they get a Baofeng.

Being an amateur radio licensee myself as well as having once been someone who knew nothing about radio, I know how easy it is to be overwhelmed. The LVA has a good number of ham radio operators, but mostly because we have taught the license classes ourselves and encouraged everyone who can to get at least a Technician license. That said we’ve only asked people to arm themselves with a Baofeng radio, unless they really want to take the step to higher end radios or long distance communication. With most people in your mutual assistance group using the same radio, you can easily maintain a configuration containing your local repeaters and call frequencies to load on each person’s handheld, further reducing the “know how” each person needs. The Baofengs are also inexpensive enough to buy in bulk, then you can load the configs and give/sell them to your people.

Being Honest About WROL Comms excerpt:

Radios

Let’s get a little housekeeping out of the way…my dear amateur radio friends, please refrain from the hysterical screeching about how wrong I am until the end; I think you’ll admit that what I say here has merit. Also, if you feel the need to discuss the FCC in the comment section, please understand that we are talking about true WROL communications, so understand that I don’t care about the FCC then. Sorry, but if we are TRULY talking about WROL comms, the FCC is not an issue. Agreed? Cool.

Some advice from the Ultimate Tactical Handbook:

Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.

Proverbs 18:2

The cold hard truth about WROL comms, which I take a lot of heat for, is that not everyone on your team needs to be a top-tier amateur radio guy and not every single person needs to have a $500-$600 handheld and a $1500 vehicle mount/base station radio. Sorry, amateur radio friends, but it’s true. Let me explain before you argue.

The VAST majority of your communication needs will honestly be INTRA-team communications. In other words, short range UHF-VHF comms among members of your team, relatively close to each other. The day-to-day communications will be everyone going about their business with their handheld radio in case they need to call for help or spread the alarm.

For example, the guys at your watch posts will have radios. A couple of people you send down to the local stream for water will need radios. Hunting parties…. radios. An OP 700 meters out, radios. None of these radios need to be a top of the line ultra-cool-guy frequency-hopping radio.

Cool Guy Digital Radio Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/3ukGvXk

I know, encryption sounds cool. It makes you feel high speed. The truth is, I can achieve the same thing with my own brevity codes and code names for locations (I know, amateur guys – FCC says no codes – see above). Some of the push back I get on this is “but the government” or “them Russkies”; I assure you that you can’t buy any radio as a civilian that a nation-state can’t crack if they want to. The truth is, you aren’t that important and if a nation-state has localized you to the point that they are listening to your short-range comms, you’re done anyway. They’re already within a couple of miles of you and it’s only a matter of time.

I don’t say this to discourage, but to ENCOURAGE you all. Every time I get asked about radios for people just getting started and I recommend something like a Baofeng for new people, a bunch of very helpful, but highly discouraging Hams pile on, overwhelming that new person with a list of every $500 to $800 handset that is the BARE MINIMUM they need, and people get frustrated.

Here’s another tip:

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 14:19

Now, having said that (listen up ham guys), you definitely need a licensed and skilled amateur radio operator as your communications chief. This person can make sure that your team has a set of radios that they can use to make long range contacts and gather information from outside sources, scan for others, and coordinate with other like-minded groups, but NOT EVERY PERSON needs this capability. Find a solid radio hobbyist and make them your comms chief. My good friend NC Scout holds a series of great courses on WROL comms (we have one coming up in Michigan), check out his classes at http://www.brushbeater.org.

Yes, Hams, I get it. You are very enthusiastic about your hobby and very helpful. Sometimes, though, in your zeal you intimidate and discourage new people.

So then, what does the average team member need? Some type of handheld VHF/UHF radio for local comms. I personally have had no issues with the Baofeng, and to be fair, those who do are trying to use it for more than what it’s intended for. For basic, point-to-point communications in a local radius, it’s sufficient. No, it won’t go 20 miles, but no handheld will by itself. Any handheld that can accept VHF/UHF programming with 4-8 watts is all you need for each member…(continues)