Friday, May 23, 2014


A rare glimpse into how I do my work . . . S.L.

When I retired from the Army, I intentionally did not go the path of a secure Government Service job, working for the Army as a civilian at Fort Bragg like so many of my buddies went for. I'm not knocking it - life might be better for me if I did, and those that went that way had their reasons.

Instead, I envisioned soldiering in the corporate realm and I carefully threaded my career needle. I sought opportunities and my family has had to deal with sacrifice as I navigated my way through the cutthroat realm of the modern American corporate environment. My battlefields have been boardrooms and industrial facilities around the world. I entered this game with a lot going for me - everything I learned in Special Forces - and have learned a lot along the way.

Nowadays I provide security and logistical support to commercial enterprises operating in challenging environments. When considering a business opportunity, I simply fall back on the planning and operational skills acquired through a quarter century of wearing the War Suit.

The Elements of Planning include:

Who / What / Where / When / Why and How Many

Knowns, Unknowns and Assumptions

Constraints and Limitations -
(Limitations are things we physically cannot do: we cannot fly, we cannot walk on water, we move slow over swamp land and over mountains. Constraints are artificial limitations: laws, rules, regulations, borders, passport & visa requirements, financial considerations.)

From this we create a Primary Plan, an Alternate Plan and an Emergency Plan; more commonly known as Plan A, Plan B, and your Go-To-Hell Plan.

The Principles of Patrolling -

These can be applied to an operation like this, because essentially what we're talking about is an exotic patrol, over distance with the potential for a lot of moving parts - planes, trains and automobiles. They are:





Common Sense

Lets Break Them Down:

Planning = Situation / Mission / Execution / Command & Signal / Service & Support / Routes (incl alternate routes, checkpoints, roadblocks, actions at borders/airports etc / alternate plan / Emergency Plan / Medical Plan / Special Equipment, Logistics and Supply plan / Communications plan (PACE = Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency)

Considerations during mission analysis include:

(Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops & Time Available) and

OCOKA - (Observation, Cover and Concealment, Obstacles, Key Terrain, Avenues of Approach). Use your imagination on how to apply these tools of ground combat to your non-military operation.

Be prepared to use your most basic skills to get yourself out of there, if necessary. The next time I have to whip out a map and a compass and use it to save my life will not be the first.

Planning is continual because no plan survives contact, intact. Sometime we plan routes while conducting a map recon.

Reconnaissance: Look at maps, Google satellite imagery, information resources on the Internet. Talk with colleagues who have been there. Be familiar with the geography & culture of the area we are going through, current events (especially political and security issues). Look at the terrain, vegetation, people, infrastructure, obstacles, weather. Road conditions for primary and alternate routes. Built up areas and chokepoints. Safe Haven locations such as airports, border crossings, hospitals, international business-class hotels, embassies and consulates, secure compounds, etc.

Security: Always the first priority throughout the operations. The moment we think we are secure enough is the moment where we have deluded ourselves into vulnerability.

Control: Know your people, where they are at any given time, and let them know where you are and how to communicate with you. Establish and rehearse emergency assembly and movement plans, even if this only includes key individuals, such as drivers. Establish a set of emergency signals, if the operational environment requires this, to include a method for clandestine communication. This includes signals (cellphones and internet) and a plan for lack of communications.

Common sense: No plan survives contact intact so be flexible, have a high degree of situational awareness and if something feels wrong, figure out why or if you can't then go with your gut. If something seems too easy, make sure you aren't walking into a trap.

"Success demands a high level of logistical and organizational competence." - Patton

As you may suspect, this post came out of a briefing I gave to my team today.



  1. Stolen wholesale, and put into a Word document so I can reprint it at leisure for the exact same briefing use.

    The knowledge itself isn't hard to come by, but having it laid together concisely with succinct explanations is very useful.

    1. Please use this material, Aesop - I didn't invent any of it, this is Professional Soldiering 101 - and don't hesitate to reach out to me for advice on how to apply the principles of war to business operations.

  2. Same as Aesop.

    Also going to use it to try and inject some sense into my current version of 'HQ types'.

    They are currently looking at throwing away their recce function, control is worsening (field folks like me are wagging the HQ dog's tail) and I am deeply concerned at the depth of the security complacency, What part of 'the greatest threat to security is the belief there is no threat' don't people understand?

    This is the clearest expression of things we field types have been arguing to HQ for several months.

    It may help. I sincerely thank you for it and will credit you with it.