Monday, November 16, 2015


Sitting here in a diner in Northern Virginia, just pulled into town yesterday from one of the most exotic lands I've ever had the privilege of visiting . . . Ethiopia . . . only just heard of the Paris attacks after I got off the plane - they happened on my birthday. I'm surrounded by good American people on this autumn Sunday morning, coming from church, having a special morning out, talking about school, sporting events or buying cars; meanwhile I'm trying to figure it all out . . . will it ever be over?. . . There ain't no figuring it out . . . this is War, and War is Hell, and it ain't ever over . . .


Friday, October 23, 2015


One year ago he lost his life standing guard at the National War Memorial.

There are two important lessons learned from last years terror attack in the Canadian capital:

A) The terrorists continue to attack us on our own territory,

B) If you are carrying a weapon, it makes no sense for it not to be loaded, and

It is true that the terrorist was a self-recruited local. However, it is also true that this is also besides the point; it merely points to the effectiveness of the enemy's tactics, which include unorthodox recruiting and training techniques. It is also most likely that the outcome would have been the same if Corporal Cirillo was fully armed, but I'd say its a safe bet that nowadays honor guards at monuments in North America are carrying loaded weapons.

It is also significant to note that Canada is an unarmed population; they have no 2d Amendment. Fortunately there was an armed individual within the Parliament building who could resolve the situation before more lives were taken. This leads to a third important lesson learned:

C) To stop a terrorist / mass murderer (i.e. "active shooter"), an individual armed with a gun is required.

We can't seem to get away from that.

Corporal Nathan Cirillo, RIP


Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Read a good book this week . . . here's one I helped write . . . S.L.

The types of items you carry in your survival kit will depend directly upon the environment you are operating in. Layer your survival kits; a small kit that can be carried on your body (items in your pockets, pouches fastened to your belt, lanyards around your neck), more items carried in a small backpack (your "bugout bag"), and a larger kit (packed in a rucksack and carried in the back of your vehicle). Keep important items on your body or in your small backpack, with your phone and other devices. For example; GPS, map and compass, and basic life-sustaining items (knife, lighter). Place bulky items in the rucksack, such as a tarpaulin or other shelter, cans of food, a couple gallons of water and perhaps a sleeping bag.

Items in your survival kit(s) should fall into the following categories:

• Water (filtering, purifying, storage & transportation)
• Shelter
• Food (acquisition & preservation)
• Fire
• Medical
• Signalling
• Weapon (and/or tool, and/or the means to make primitive weapons or tools)
• Miscellaneous

Each category should contain items that allow you to sustain your basic needs. For example; water - you should have items that allow you to scoop up, draw up, soak up, or suck up water; something to gather rainwater, condensation, or perspiration; something to transport water; and something to purify or filter water. Some examples of each category are as follows:

• Water - collapsible canteens or heavy duty plastic bags for carrying water; purification tablets, bleach or povidone-iodine drops (for purifying water), scarves, small towels or scarves, sponges, small plastic or rubber tubing.
• Fire - lighter, metal match, waterproof matches, magnesium bar, candle, magnifying lens.
• Shelter - parachute line (550 cord), tarpaulin or poncho, space blanket, hammock, mosquito net, wire saw.
• Food - knife, snare wire, fishhooks, fish and snare line, bouillon cubes or soup packets, high energy food bars, granola bars, gill net, aluminum foil, zip-lock bags.
• Medical - oxytetracycline tablets (to treat diarrhea or infection), surgical blades or surgical preparation knife, butterfly sutures, lip balm, safety pins, sutures, antidiarrheal medication (imodium), antimalarials (doxycycline), broad-spectrum antibiotics (rocephin and zithromax) and broad spectrum topical ophthalmic (eye) antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen), petrolatum gauze, and soap. Medical items may make up approximately 50 percent of your survival kit and could certainly be the subject of a stand-alone article.
• Signalling - signal mirror, strobe, pen flares, whistle, International Orange scarves or panels, flashlight, laser pointer, solar blanket.
• Weapon and/or tool - and/or the means to make primitive weapons or tools - even a small penknife or multi-tool can fashion primitive weapons or tools from bamboo or branches. Think of frog gigs, clubs, crossbows, or even wooden knives for killing game and preparing meat and hides. Digging tools, bamboo water containers and cookware, and walking sticks are useful tools you can easily make.
• Miscellaneous - compass, needle and thread, money, extra eyeglasses, knife sharpening stone or steel, salt, and survival manual.

Given your circumstances, you might carry a large sheath knife, machete or hatchet. Learn survival techniques in the references at the end of this article. Consider the environment in which you are working or traveling through, then prepare your survival kit(s) with items that are durable, multipurpose, and lightweight.

In preparing your survival kit, select items that are multipurpose, compact, lightweight, durable, and most importantly, functional. An item is not good if it looks great but doesn't do what it was designed for, or breaks after the first use. Items should complement each other from layer to layer. A signal mirror in your pocket can be backed up by pen flares in your personal survival kit, and a signal panel in your bug-out bag. A lighter in your pocket can be augmented by a magnesium bar in your survival kit and additional dry tinder in your bug-out bag.

Survival kits need not be elaborate. You only need functional items that will meet your needs and a container to hold the items. A soap dish, tobacco tin, first aid case, ammunition pouch, or plastic food container might be a suitable case. This case should be waterproof, easy to carry or attach to your body, suitable to accept various-sized components, and durable.

You are only limited by your imagination; indeed, creative thought combined with basic skills can replace many of the items in a kit. Combined with the will to live, it can mean the difference between surviving to return home with dignity or not returning at all.


US Army Field Manual 3-05.70 Survival (formerly FM 21-76)

The SAS Survival Guide by John “Lofty” Wiseman

The Boy Scout Handbook

12 Outdoor Survival Skillsw Every Guy Should Master

5 Basic Survival Skills You Can Practice In Your Backyard Now

Since I retired from active duty I've had my ups and downs and been knocked around a bit in this crazy world . . . nowadays I find myself right back where I started seven years ago - albeit under much better circumstances and for a significant amount more pay. Intelligence + Experience = Wisdom . . . that and a robust network will get you to where you want to go in Life - its working for me . . . cheers -


Saturday, October 3, 2015


The Moscow Rules are rules-of-thumb said to have been developed during the Cold War to be used by intelligence officers working in Moscow. The rules are associated with Moscow because the city developed a reputation as being a particularly harsh locale for clandestine operatives who were exposed . . . S.L.

  • Assume nothing.

  • Never go against your gut.

  • Everyone is potentially under opposition control.

  • Don't look back; you are never completely alone.

  • Go with the flow, blend in.

  • Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.

  • Lull them into a sense of complacency.

  • Don't harass the opposition.

  • Pick the time and place for action.

  • Keep your options open.

  • Murphy is right.

  • Any operation can be aborted. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.

  • Maintain a natural pace.

  • Build in opportunity, but use it sparingly.

  • Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. (Borrowed from Muhammad Ali)

  • There is no limit to a human being's ability to rationalize the truth.

  • Technology will always let you down.

  • Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an enemy action. (Taken from Ian Fleming's novel Goldfinger)

  • Don't attract attention, even by being too careful.

  • Moscow rules are prominently referenced in John le Carré's cold war books including - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - as tradecraft, including use of inconspicuous signal markers (thumb tacks, chalk marks), the use of dead drops, and the ways to signal the need for a (rare) face-to-face meeting.


    Wednesday, September 30, 2015


    I did not write this, but it sums it up just about right. I don't know this hero's name but a teammate reports an article in a WW II mag ID'd him as a 17th Airborne Division guy just prior to Operation Varsity, the jump across the Rhine in March 1945 . . . S.L.

    Paratroopers have a pride and arrogance that most Americans don’t understand and don’t like. Even soldiers who aren’t Paratroopers don’t understand. The pride doesn’t exist because we have a job that’s physically impressive. It certainly doesn’t exist because it takes a higher level of intelligence to perform our duties. It’s sad and I hate to admit it, but any college student or high school grad can physically do what we do. It’s not THAT demanding and doesn’t take a physical anomaly. Nobody will ever be able to compare us to professional athletes or fitness models. And it doesn’t take a very high IQ to read off serial numbers, pack bags according to a packing list, or know that incoming bullets have the right of way.

    The pride of the Paratrooper comes not from knowing that he’s doing a job that others can’t, but that he’s doing a job that others simply won’t. Some Paratroopers haven’t seen a lot of combat. While that may sound ideal to the civilian or non-paratrooper soldier, it pains the Paratrooper. We signed up to spit in the face of danger. To walk the line between life and death and live to do it again – or not. To come to terms with our own mortality and let others try to take our life instead of yours. We have raised our hands and said, “Take me, America. I am willing to kill for you. I am willing to sacrifice my limbs for you. I will come back to America scarred and disfigured for you. I will be the first to die for you.”

    That’s why the Paratrooper carries himself with pride and arrogance. He’s aware that America has lost respect for him. To many he’s a bloodthirsty animal. To others he’s too uneducated and stupid to get a regular job or go to college. Only he knows the truth. While there are few in America who claim to have respect for him, the Paratrooper returns from war with less fanfare than a first down in a high school football game. Yes, people hang up their “Support Our Troops” ribbons and on occasion thank us for our service. But in their eyes the Paratrooper can detect pity and shame; not respect. Consider this: How excited would you be to meet the average Paratrooper? Now compare that with how excited you’d be to meet a famous actor or professional sports player and you will find that you, too, are guilty of placing the wrong people on a pedestal. You wouldn’t be able to tell me how many Paratroopers died in the war last month, but you’d damn sure be able to tell me if one of the actors from Twilight died.

    Yet the Paratrooper doesn’t complain about that. He continues to do his job; to volunteer his life for you, all while being paid less in four years than Tom Brady makes in one game.

    It’s a job most Americans don’t understand, don’t envy, and don’t respect. That is why we have pride as Paratroopers.

    When I was a kid I read two books about U.S. paratroopers in Normandy and later in Bastogne. I wasn't even an American yet, but I knew that somehow, I would one day be an American paratrooper; of this there was no doubt. I had to make my way to America first, and there were a few hurdles along the way, but I made it and to this day my proudest achievement is to be able to claim that I was a United States soldier, and I spent 25 years on jump status. Airborne!


    Tuesday, September 29, 2015


    Getting back to basics here . . . S.L.

    The will to survive is defined as the desire to live despite seemingly insurmountable mental and(or) physical obstacles. The tools for survival are furnished by the military, the individual, and the environment. The training for survival comes from survival training publications, instruction, and the individuals own efforts. But tools and training are not enough without a will to survive. In fact, the records prove that "will" alone has been the deciding factor in many survival cases. While these accounts are not classic examples of "how to survive," they illustrate that a single-minded survivor with a powerful will to survive can overcome most hardships. There are cases where people have eaten their belts for nourishment, boiled water in their boots to drink as broth, or have eaten human flesh - though this certainly wasn't their cultural instinct.

    One incident where the will to survive was the deciding factor between life and death involved a man stranded in the Arizona desert for 8 days without food and water. He traveled more than 150 miles during searing daytime temperatures, losing 25 percent of his body weight due to the lack of water (usually 10 percent loss causes death). His blood became so thick that the lacerations he received could not bleed until he had been rescued and received large quantities of water. When he started on that journey, something must have clicked in his mind telling him to live, regardless of any obstacles which might confront him. And live he did - on guts and will alone!

    Let's flip a coin and check the other side of "will." Our location is the Canadian wilderness. A pilot ran into engine trouble and chose to deadstick his plane onto a frozen lake rather than punch out. He did a beautiful job and slid to a stop in the middle of the lake. he left the aircraft and examined if for damage. After surveying the area, he noticed a wooded shoreline only 200 yards away where food and shelter could be provided - he decided to go there. Approximately halfway there, he changed his mind and returned to the cockpit of his aircraft where he smoked a cigar, took out his pistol, and blew his brains out. less than 24 hours later a rescue team found him. Why did he give up? Why was he unable to survive? Why did he take his own life? On the other hand, why do people eat their belts or drink broth from their boots? No one really knows, but it’s all related to the will to survive.

    from Air Force Regulation 64-4 Search & Rescue SURVIVAL TRAINING Vol 1


    Thursday, September 17, 2015


    I started this blog with a post about basic skills: Fieldcraft 101: Tie Twelve Knots . . . My latest contract requires me to refresh the basics so here's an excerpt from Army Field Manual 3-05.70 SURVIVAL (which I helped write in its former edition FM 21-26) - S.L.

    Field-Expedient Direction (Army FM 3-05.70, pages 18-1 – 18-9).

    Finding (oneself) in a survival situation, you will be extremely fortunate if you happen to have a map and compass. If you do have these two pieces of equipment, you will most likely be able to move toward help. If you are not proficient in using a map and compass, you must take the steps to gain this skill.
    There are several methods by which you can determine direction by using the sun and the stars. These methods, however, will give you only a general direction. You can come up with a more nearly true direction if you know the terrain of the territory or country.

    You must learn all you can about the terrain of the country or territory to which you or your unit may be sent, especially any prominent features or landmarks. This knowledge of the terrain together with using the methods explained below will let you come up with fairly true directions to help you navigate.


    18.1 The earth’s relationship to the sun can help you to determine direction on earth. The sun always rises in the east and sets in the west, but not exactly due east or due west. There is also some seasonal variation. Shadows will move in the opposite direction of the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, they will move from west to east, and will point north at noon. In the Southern Hemisphere, shadows will indicate south at noon. With practice, you can use shadows to determine both direction and time of day. The shadow methods used for direction finding are the shadow-tip and watch methods.


    18-2. In the first shadow-tip method, find a straight stick 1 meter (3 feet) long, and a level spot free of brush on which the stick will cast a definite shadow. This method is simple and accurate and consists of four steps:

    • Step 1. Place the stick or branch into the ground at a level spot where it will cast a distinctive shadow. Mark the shadow’s tip with a stone, twig, or other means. This first shadow mark is always west—everywhere on earth.

    • Step 2. Wait 10 to 15 minutes until the shadow tip moves a few centimeters. Mark the shadow tip’s new position in the same way as the first. This mark will represent East.

    • Step 3. Draw a straight line through the two marks to obtain an approximate east-west line.

    • Step 4. Stand with the first mark (west) to your left and the second mark to your right—you are now facing north. This fact is true everywhere on earth.

    18-3. An alternate method is more accurate but requires more time. Set up your shadow stick and mark the first shadow in the morning. Use a piece of string to draw a clean arc through this mark and around the stick. At midday, the shadow will shrink and disappear. In the afternoon, it will lengthen again and at the point where it touches the arc, make a second mark. Draw a line through the two marks to get an accurate east-west line (Figure 18-1, page 18-3).

    Figure 18-1. Shadow-Tip Method


    18-4. You can also determine direction using a common or analog watch—one that has hands. The direction will be accurate if you are using true local time, without any changes for daylight savings time. Remember, the further you are from the equator, the more accurate this method will be. If you only have a digital watch, draw a clock face on a circle of paper with the correct time on it and use it to determine your direction at that time. You may also choose to draw a clock face on the ground or lay your watch on the ground for a more accurate reading.

    Figure 18-2. Watch Method

    18-7. Another method is called the 24-hour clock method. Take the local military time and divide it by two. Imagine this result to now represent the hour hand. In the Northern Hemisphere, point this resulting hour hand at the sun, and the 12 will point north. For example, it is 1400 hours. Divide 1400 by two and the answer is 700, which will represent the hour. Holding the watch horizontal, point the 7 at the sun and 12 will point north. In the Southern Hemisphere, point the 12 at the sun, and the resulting “hour” from the division will point south.


    18-8. Because the moon has no light of its own, we can only see it when it reflects the sun’s light. As it orbits the earth on its 28-day circuit, the shape of the reflected light varies according to its position. We say there is a new moon or no moon when it is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun. Then, as it moves away from the earth’s shadow, it begins to reflect light from its right side and waxes to become a full moon before waning, or losing shape, to appear as a sliver on the left side. You can use this information to identify direction.
    18-9. If the moon rises before the sun has set, the illuminated side will be the west. If the moon rises after midnight, the illuminated side will be the east. This obvious discovery provides us with a rough east-west reference during the night.


    18-10. Your location in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere determines which constellation you use to determine your north or south direction. Each sky is explained below.


    18-11. The main constellations to learn are the Ursa Major, also known as the Big Dipper or the Plow, and Cassiopeia, also known as the Lazy W (Figure 18-3, page 18-6). Use them to locate Polaris, also known as the polestar or the North Star. Polaris is considered to remain stationary, as it rotates only 1.08 degrees around the northern celestial pole. The North Star is the last star of the Little Dipper’s handle and can be confused with the Big Dipper. However, the Little Dipper is made up of seven rather dim stars and is not easily seen unless you are far away from any town or city lights. Prevent confusion by attempting to use both the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia together. The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia are generally opposite each other and rotate counterclockwise around Polaris, with Polaris in the center. The Big Dipper is a seven-star constellation in the shape of a dipper. The two stars forming the outer lip of this dipper are the “pointer stars” because they point to the North Star. Mentally draw a line from the outer bottom star to the outer top star of the Big Dipper’s bucket. Extend this line about five times the distance between the pointer stars. You will find the North Star along this line. You may also note that the North Star can always be found at the same approximate vertical angle above the horizon as the northern line of latitude you are located on. For example, if you are at 35 degrees north latitude, Polaris will be easier to find if you scan the sky at 35 degrees off the horizon. This will help to lessen the area of the sky in which to locate the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, and the North Star.

    18-12. Cassiopeia or the Lazy W has five stars that form a shape like a “W.” One side of the “W” appears flattened or “lazy.” The North Star can be found by bisecting the angle formed on the lazy side. Extend this line about five times the distance between the bottom of the “W” and the top. The North Star is located between Cassiopeia and the Ursa Major (Big Dipper).

    18-13. After locating the North Star, locate the North Pole or true north by drawing an imaginary line directly to the earth.

    Figure 18-3. The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia


    18-14. Because there is no single star bright enough to be easily recognized near the south celestial pole, you can use a constellation known as the Southern Cross. You can use it as a signpost to the South (Figure 18-4). The Southern Cross or Crux has five stars. Its four brightest stars form a cross. The two stars that make up the Cross’s long axis are used as a guideline. To determine south, imagine a distance four-and-one-half to five times the distance between these stars and the horizon. The pointer stars to the left of the Southern Cross serve two purposes. First, they provide an additional cue toward south by imagining a line from the stars toward the ground. Second, the pointer stars help accurately identify the true Southern Cross from the False Cross. The intersection of the Southern Cross and the two pointer stars is very dark and devoid of stars. This area is called the coal sac. Look down to the horizon from this imaginary point and select a landmark to steer by. In a static survival situation, you can fix this location in daylight if you drive stakes in the ground at night to point the way.

    Figure 18-4. Southern Cross


    18-15. You can construct improvised compasses using a piece of ferrous metal that can be needleshaped or a flat double-edged razor blade and a piece of thread or long hair from which to suspend it. You can magnetize or polarize the metal by slowly stroking it in one direction on a piece of silk or carefully through your hair using deliberate strokes. You can also polarize metal by stroking it repeatedly at one end with a magnet. Always stroke in one direction only. If you have a battery and some electric wire, you can polarize the metal electrically. The wire should be insulated. If it is not insulated, wrap the metal object in a single, thin strip of paper or a leaf to prevent contact. The battery must be a minimum of 2 volts. Form a coil with the electric wire and touch its ends to the battery’s terminals. Repeatedly insert one end of the metal object in and out of the coil. The needle will become an electromagnet. When suspended from a piece of nonmetallic string, or floated on a small piece of wood, cork or a leaf in water, it will align itself with a north-south line.

    18-16. You can construct a more elaborate improvised compass using a sewing needle or thin metallic object, a nonmetallic container (for example, the cut-off bottom of a plastic container or soft drink bottle), and the silver tip from a pen. To construct this compass, take an ordinary sewing needle and break in half. One half will form your direction pointer and the other will act as the pivot point. Push the portion used as the pivot point through the bottom center of your container; this portion should be flush on the bottom and not interfere with the lid. Attach the center of the other portion (the pointer) of the needle on the pen’s silver tip using glue, tree sap, or melted plastic. Magnetize one end of the pointer and rest it on the pivot point.


    18-17. The old saying about using moss on a tree to indicate north is not considered accurate because moss grows completely around some trees. Actually, growth is more lush on the side of the tree facing the south in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa in the southern hemisphere. If there are several felled trees around for comparison, look at the stumps. Growth is more vigorous on the side toward the equator and the tree growth rings will be more widely spaced. On the other hand, the tree growth rings will be closer together on the side toward the poles.

    18-18. Wind direction may be helpful in some instances where there are prevailing directions and you know what they are.

    18-19. Recognizing the differences between vegetation and moisture patterns on north- and south-facing slopes can aid in determining direction. In the Northern Hemisphere, north-facing slopes receive less sun than south-facing slopes and are therefore cooler and damper. In the summer, north-facing slopes retain patches of snow. In the winter, trees and open areas on southfacing slopes and the southern side of boulders and large rocks are the first to lose their snow. The ground snowpack is also shallower due to the warming effects of the sun. In the Southern Hemisphere, all of these effects will be the opposite.

    Always remember the letter "L" in Keyword S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L. stands for "Learn Basic Skills" . . . and practice them often. A pdf copy of FM 3-05.70 SURVIVAL can be downloaded HERE


    Friday, September 11, 2015


    No one who was alive that day will ever forget where they were. I was in Springfield, Virginia - not far from DC - I believe I have written about it before. Oddly, I am on my way to Springfield today. Work, and a writing project that is nearing completion, has kept me very busy this past six months but this date cannot slip by without a mark of acknowledgement, and respect.

    Our reaction was terrible, extremely violent and swift - the way it should be, in proportion to as horrible was the casus belli. But even from the start, the ten thousand pound gorilla in the room was the knowledge that we should not let ourselves get tied down into a conflict that involved taking and holding real estate - this is not a conventional war, And yet, we did just that. The concept of a series of pin point raids to kill people and break things - "Do unto others then split" - was too primitive for Western sentiments, despite the effectiveness of these kind of counter-guerrilla tactics. Western ethos demanded that we go in and put a bandaid on the people we had just steamrollered. And so we got what CNN in the second week of the war prematurely called 'quagmire'. And since 2012, when our national leadership decided to take our bat and ball and go home, an insidious evil decided to fill the vacuum left behind.

    Unconventional war is difficult to visualize, especially for the untrained - military and civilian alike. A historical example would be if, after three long years of struggle in the Korean War - and 50,000+ casualties - having fought the enemy to a standstill at the 38th Parallel, we packed up and left the South Koreans to themselves.

    As in nature, geopolitics hates a vacuum. In such a scenario, the North Koreans and their Chinese sponsors would have gleefully spilled over the DMZ and in a matter of weeks undone all the hard work of the United States, RoK and UN allies; certainly less than the three years it took us to sort out their initial invasion. As it was, during the sixty-two years since the armistice, the North Korean Communists have continued to commit extremely lethal acts of terrorism and outright acts of war. And yet nobody denies that the US presence in South Korea has ensured the kind of security required for the Korean economic miracle to unfold.

    We left such a vacuum behind in Iraq, and a determined enemy emerged to fill it. The sea change came when we changed the name from the Global War on Terror to "Overseas Contingency Operations". Sadly, we let our eye slip off the ball . . .

    The Islamic State now has a safe haven and resources of which al Qaeda in 2001 could only have dreamed. Every day we lazily, arrogantly provoke them without finishing the job. No one should be surprised by the consequences, which are as predictable as they are terrible.
    - Aaron MacLean, Manipulated Intel and the Kabuki War against the Islamic State

    This is why we must never forget. We must also never forget that the stated objective of the Evil we are up against is to kill us all, and to make slaves of our children and women of child-bearing age.


    Monday, August 17, 2015


    I know this part of Bangkok very well. The Erawan shrine is in the heart of the business and shopping area . . . S.L.

    Bangkok bomb: Deadly blast rocks Thai capital

    A bomb exploded close to the Erawan shrine in Bangkok's central Chidlom district, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 80.
    Reports say a second bomb has been found in the area and rendered safe.

    The shrine is a major tourist attraction. The Thai government said the attack was aimed at foreigners. Local media reports that tourists, including Chinese, are among the casualties. Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwong said: "It was a TNT bomb . . . the people who did it targeted foreigners and to damage tourism and the economy."

    Analysis: The bombs were obviously placed in an area of high foot traffic to ensure maximum # of casualties. the second bomb would have been intended for the emergency response personnel; a classic terrorist tactic dating back to the 1970s. Domestic Thai political violence is normally restricted to direct confrontations that get out of hand, i.e. riot control (police or military) firing into crowds; terror bombings are not a feature. In determining who placed the bombs or why, suspicion falls upon the Islamic extremist terror movement - aligned with IS - which has emerged from the Muslim south. It is also significant to note that foreigners may have been intended targets.

    It is also noteworthy that Thailand's recent political struggles are directly related to an act of vandalism against the Erawan Shrine ( ศาลพระพรหม - San Phra Phrom ) - on March 21, 2006, a Thai man smashed the statue of Brahma with a hammer, and was himself subsequently beaten to death by angry bystanders. The tie-in of this action to the political struggles and violence that have since plagued Thai politics is explained HERE

    I recently discussed the probability of IS-aligned terror cells from southern Thailand becoming operational in Bangkok and directing their actions against foreigners. Unfortunately, I was correct.


    Saturday, August 15, 2015


    A windfall came my way . . . S.L.

    These pieces come from an old sawmill up on the Brandywine River, 2" thick oak and walnut planks, 50 to 100 years old.

    I can produce coffee tables, bars, counter tops and shelves.

    I can make designs that are "knock down" for easy transportation. I'd love to hear from you, let me know what you want . . .

    I'm between contracts right now so the time is right - contact me via email, twitter or on Facebook.


    Wednesday, August 12, 2015


    SGM Ernie Tabata, Legend in the Special Forces community, departed on his Final Infil 10 August 2015 . . .

    SGM Ernie Tabata is an SF legend, is Distinguished Member of the Regiment, his service, military and as civilian instructor spanned 59 years. He trained and was loved by legions of SF demo men.

    Sergeant Major Ernest K. Tabata began his military career in June 1946 as a volunteer in the Hawaiian Territorial Guard. Two years later he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and completed the advanced combat engineer school at Fort Belvoir, Va. On June 1950, SGM Tabata found himself among the first American Soldiers sent to South Korea to repel the invasion by the North. He was assigned to the 14th Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

    Following Korea, SGM Tabata returned to Hawaii and received an honorable discharge in September 1952. He re-enlisted in the Army in January 1955. SGM Tabata served the next six years as a paratrooper in the 82nd and 11th Airborne Divisions. In January 1961, SGM Tabata became a “triple volunteer” when he applied for duty with the U.S. Army Special Forces. After his Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, SGM Tabata volunteered for a clandestine mobile training team, named “White Star.” Led by then-Lieutenant Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons, the team arrived in the Kingdom of Laos in October 1961 and began training the Royal Lao Army.

    In August 1964, SGM Tabata received orders to the Republic of South Vietnam. There, he joined the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and trained the Montagnards. In January 1965, reassigned to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Okinawa, SGM Tabata served as a team sergeant on a HALO team. A few months later, SGM Tabata and his detachment went to Korea to prepare South Korea’s elite White Horse Division for combat prior to its departure for South Vietnam the following year. SGM Tabata returned to South Vietnam in November 1965, his third combat tour, for assignment to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, or MACV-SOG.

    Returning to Fort Devens, Mass., in August 1970, SGM Tabata served with the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and with the 12th Engineer Battalion. Upon his promotion to sergeant major, he served as the senior enlisted advisor to the assistant division commander, 8th Infantry Division, in Mainz, Germany. His return to Special Forces came in 1978, with an assignment to the 7th Special Forces Group.

    SGM Tabata retired in December 1981 after 30 years of active-duty service. In November 1984, he returned to the Special Forces Training Group as a civilian instructor. SGM Tabata also participated in static line parachute jumps as required in the course of his duties, well into his seventies.

    SGM Tabata - known affectionately as "Sensei" (teacher) to Green Berets assigned to 1st SFG in Okinawa - taught generations of Special Forces engineers. Tt was an honor and a privilege to be his student.

    Memorial service information is forthcoming.

    We will miss you Sensei, see you at the Final Rendezvous Point . . .


    Friday, June 12, 2015


    Nigeria and Eeben Barlow's group . . . S.L.

    A couple weeks back an enterprising young journalist Joe Thorpe reached out to me with some questions about my work I simply cannot answer without fingering my employers, the client and thereby getting myself blacklisted in the community. But I commended his attitude and agreed to work with him, going forward. Here's his first piece:

    A Helping Hand – Military Contractors in Nigeria

    Looking forward to seeing more from this writer . . .


    Sunday, May 24, 2015


    An Aussie drover walks into a pub with his pet crocodile by his side . . .

    He puts the crocodile up on the bar, turns to the astonished patrons and says, "I'll make you a deal. I'll open this crocodile's mouth and place my manhood inside.

    Then the croc will close his mouth for one minute. Then he'll open his mouth and I'll remove my unit unscathed."

    In return for witnessing this spectacle, each of you will buy me a drink."

    The crowd murmured their approval. The man stood up on the bar, dropped his trousers and placed his Johnson and related parts in the crocodile's open mouth.

    The croc closed his mouth and the crowd gasped.

    After a minute, the man grabbed a beer bottle and smacked the crocodile hard on the top of its head.

    The croc opened his mouth and the man removed his genitals, unscathed as promised.

    The crowd cheered, and the first of his free drinks were delivered.

    The man stood up again and made another offer. "I'll pay anyone $100 who's willing to give it a try."

    A hush fell over the crowd.

    After a while, a hand went up in the back of the bar. A Blonde woman timidly spoke up . . .

    "I'll try it . . . just don't hit me so hard with the beer bottle!"


    Saturday, May 16, 2015


    When people say good things about my status as a veteran I have a couple of stock answers: I say it was better than working for a living, and I say that I am not a hero, but I served in the company of heroes. Both are the God's honest truth, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have served as a United States soldier. It was an honor and a privilege . . . S.L.

    Looking back, something drew me to it like a magnet, almost as if it was Fate. I was fortunate to make my way to America as an immigrant and to find my way into the greatest Army that ever marched across a battlefield. A series of good decisions and a lot of hard work got me into Special Forces where you don't earn the Green Beret after graduation - you earn it every day, by deed and thought.

    Now I'm no altruist - I'm not Mother Theresa and I'm no Boy Scout - and I know I was fortunate to fall into a profession that in many ways is a cause; I fight Evil. I got here almost by chance because growing up everybody I knew - to include my family - was against me joining the military. They made fun of my dreams and ambition to be a soldier, told me I was misguided and out of my mind.

    What I do nowadays is an extension of that; I'm still fit enough to carry on the fight, to make a difference in my own little way through my work in the security profession. I'm not wealthy but if I was I'd do everything I could to stand up my own Army and take the fight to the terrorist scum enemy who threaten everything we hold dear and love, whose evil cause is the destruction of Civilization itself. If I had the resources and the right sponsors I would go to the terrorist countries and start taking their cities apart brick by brick.

    There would be no more Somali pirates because they would be swinging from gallows with the ravens picking at their eye sockets and their palaces would be smoking ruins. The rat bastards decapitating Christians and tearing apart ancient heritage sites would be a mere footnote in the dustbin of history and it wouldn't be hard because they're stupid enough to parade around in trucks and wave their flags all over the place. I'd call in the A-10 squadron of my private air force and the Warthogs would feast on them day and night.

    Drastic situations call for drastic measures; if I could have my way we'd adopt a Zero Tolerance Policy towards terrorists and terrorist wannabes in our own midst. Any immigrant who joins the cause of Evil will pay and his or her family will pay - expulsion back to whatever hell hole country they came from. "Sorry about that shit, sure sucks to be you, should have thought about that before you decided to be a big, bad Terr." We simply will not allow our benevolence towards the outcasts of the world be mistaken for weakness; we will not allow ourselves to be exploited by the harbingers of hatred who at this very moment dwell among us.

    The terrorist enemy we currently face is the closest thing to Evil Incarnate I can possibly imagine. Those who are captured alive would be given tribunals in accordance with the Hague and Geneva Conventions, then tied to stakes and shot; in accordance with the Hague and Geneva Conventions. We will allow three out of every group to live - so their stories are corroborated - to go back and tell all the others how we wrapped the bodies of the terrorists in pig skins and buried them in graves filled with pig fat and pig guts. And in the end it would be like Lt. Col Ralph Peters said: we would ". . . leave behind smoking ruins and crying widows" . . . only there wouldn't be that many widows.

    The so-called altruists and hand-wringers in the media may not like it but in the end the annals of History will tell of how good, decent people stood up and refused to allow Civilization to be held hostage and destroyed by evil murderous nihilistic death cult fanatics, and what we did to expunge this outright Evil from the world. Just like we did to the Fascists and Imperial Japanese war criminals and yes even the Soviet Communists when we shut down their killing machines.

    "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell


    Thursday, May 14, 2015


    I've posted the story of how Rolex became the iconic military man's signature timepiece: PRISONER of WAR ROLEX's Part 1, also Part 2, and Part 3. I wear a Rolex - saved up and bought it at the PX in Okinawa, a sort of present to myself that I'd arrived at where I wanted to be in Life. Around the same time I learned why we professional military men wear Rolex's . . . Hint: it ain't to tell the time . . . S.L.

    The primary purpose of the Rolex - to a professional adventurer - is not as a timepiece but rather as a life insurance policy. When the situation goes pear-shaped and you've somehow made it to the airport, the Rolex buys you a seat on the last flight out of Heart of Darkness International Airport.

    As your aircraft circles the city, you look down at the rising columns of black smoke and imagine the scene downtown in the city square where they're chopping the few remaining Westerners up into monkey meat, you look at your wrist where your treasured timepiece used to be and you think 2 things:

    A) 'Well I guess the Rolex finally paid for itself . . .'


    B) 'I can always buy another watch . . .'



    I owe an explanation to my loyal followers: no, I'm not dead - rapid deployment came up and coincided with critical blogwriter's burnout - apologies I should have said something but I was honestly too focused on real-world issues . . . the following email exchange with a journo who reached out might serve as an explanation . . . S.L.

    Heart of Darkness International Airport

    Hi Sean:

    Really interesting blog on
    Eeben Barlow and Executive Outcomes. I'm a freelance journalist, writing a piece on the positive work done by external (a.k.a. 'mercenary') forces in Africa and the way they can aid the countries they operate in. Hoping to get in touch with a few people who can give me some insight into governmental and non-governmental military actions. Would you be willing to open a dialogue with me on these sorts of issues?

    Thanks, Joe T.

    Executive Outcomes personnel in Sierra Leone, circa 1997

    Hello Joe,

    What a coincidence - right now I'm on contract in SW Africa - you may have gathered that from the lack of activity on my blog. Don't wish to come across as rude, but talking with journalists is often a career-ending move in this line of work. Still, there's a bit of an air gap with the S.L. persona . . . if we get into sensitive territory I'll back off.

    FWIW I do not care for the term 'mercenary' - it suggests a gun-for-hire - I am not that, there are some things I will not do - and also suggests an organization that maneuvers against an enemy force. The operation I am involved with does not do that - we are a security company. It would be the broadest stretch to describe the modern private military companies or security firms as mercenary outfits. I refer to myself as a security professional or consultant.

    To the best of my knowledge there have been relatively few mercenary activities in Africa in recent years; Sandline and Executive Outcomes were pulling missions in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 90s; I was still on active duty at that time and was active in West Africa. Late 90's up to 2001 I became aware of Serbians and Ukrainians involved in mercenary work in Africa but haven't heard anything more recently.

    Please do not quote me directly; especially if the sentence or paragraph includes the word 'mercenary' - if word got back to my employers that would be a career-ender and could probably get our company thrown out of country.

    I don't know if I can be much use to your project given the above constraints but I simply cannot have my name associated with the term 'mercenary' - often synonymous with 'war criminal' and I definitely am not that.

    Having said all that I just recalled two operations I am aware of where private armies are maneuvering against an armed foe. The actual extent of their operations I am not aware of, but it might be able to give you a start point.

    Hope this helps - S.L.

    The Compound

    Hi Sean:

    Thanks for the reply, getting an inside perspective on what can be a misunderstood industry is really interesting to me (and hopefully some readers). The article I am looking to write will be called something like 'The role of foreign security consultants in Africa's future' - working title. It will focus on how they can be a force for good, and achieve things that both local forces and external armies cannot.

    I completely understand, it definitely has negative connotations. The article I want to write is going to address why these perceptions are outdated and wrong. That's why I phrased it 'mercenaries' in quotes - It's not a term I'm planning on using except to disown it. I'll make sure any questions I ask can be answered without compromising either your confidentiality or your ethics.

    Could be useful to establish the boundaries of what you can and can't discuss, few brief questions to start with and see how we get on?

    • Can you say who you work for and where you are operating?
    • Can I quote you using the 'Sean Linnane' alias?
    Hopefully that all sounds good to you, and we can go from there.

    Thanks, Joe T.

    P.S. Could you give me a few details about the 2 operations you mentioned?

    The AO

    Answer to your questions:

    I'm afraid I cannot name my employer and the reason why is the splash it would make on our client would be a disaster. Large multinational corporations do not want attention on their security arrangements, for a couple of reasons; A) security concerns (obviously) and B) negative publicity. Lets just leave it at mining operations, SW Africa. I will describe the work we are doing in general terms: physical security, evacuation planning and rehearsal, and emergency medical support.

    I suppose you can reference 'Sean Linnane' - I adopted the nom-de-guerre for precisely this reason and the anonymity has held up, which surprises me because it seems that anybody doing about 5 minutes of detective work could determine my real identity - but again, please do not refer to me as a 'mercenary' because I am not that. Security professional, retired US Special Forces, professional soldier, security consultant - these are how I describe myself and they are all accurate. I am not a mercenary because there are some things I simply will not do, and they include: A) treason, B) murder, C) drug dealing and D) human trafficking.

    One guy I know told me he figured out who SL was from my writing style - he is an old Team Leader with whom I served in C Co 1st Bn/1st SFG in Okinawa. I took this as a compliment. Around 2010 I became aware that Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan - when they were required to sign for supplies from support units - were signing "Sean Linnane". I took this too as a compliment and I actually regard this as a measure of immortality.

    The 2 operations I mentioned:

    SOLI training NPU soldiers at a covert training facility north of Mosul, December, 2014

    1) Sons of Liberty International (SOLI) - their current mission is consulting and training Iraqi Christians to fight ISIS.

    A colleague of mine - whom I count as a friend - is currently trying to sign on with SOLI. We served together and he - like myself - is an immigrant to the United States who earned his citizenship the same way I did: military service. I do not know at this time whether or not SOLI has accepted him.

    FBR medic attending to a patient

    2) Free Burma Rangers - "The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement. They bring help, hope and love to people in the war zones of Burma. Ethnic pro-democracy groups send teams to FBR to be trained, supplied and sent into the areas under attack to provide emergency medical care, shelter, food, clothing and human rights documentation. The teams also operate a communication and information network inside Burma that provides real time information from areas under attack."

    Regarding the Free Burma Rangers, I personally know the American (former US Army Ranger / Special Forces) mentioned in this article. I've known him since I was a kid, actually.

    The FBR are associated with the Karen National Liberation Army Finding information about the KNLA on the internet is difficult because the regime in Rangoon has an active disinformation campaign against them and wipes out referenced links, articles etc. Here's what I could find regarding their foreign military professionals:

    Yangon's Anti-Rebel Offensive Rages On

    Another outfit involving foreign professional soldiers is the Dwekh Nawsha, a military organization created in mid 2014 in order to defend Iraq's Assyrian Christians from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and possibly retake their lands currently controlled by ISIL. The article points out that they seem to be having internal political challenges that is affecting their ability to retain foreign fighters.

    None of the above organizations are active in Africa, however. The Foreign Legion has units stationed in Africa, of course, and I was actually present on a battlefield with elements from the 13th DBLE, in Cote d'Ivoire. The security profession here on the continent is infested with ex-Legionnaires, of course - it is part of their retirement program - and I have been involved with some of them. I speak French so that's a bit of an icebreaker.

    Hope this helps - and thank you for helping me break out of the rut I am in with the blog.


    Saturday, April 11, 2015


    I remember seeing this on the front page of the Bangkok Post, April 12, 1975. I was sixteen years old. I will never, never forget what happened after we abandoned Indochina to the Communists . . . S.L.

    U.S. Marines provide cover during Operation Eagle Pull as Americans and Cambodians board Marine helicopters in Phnom Penh during the final U.S. pullout of Cambodia. (AP Photo/File)

    Five days after Operation Eagle Pull, the dramatic evacuation of Americans, the U.S.-backed government fell as Communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas stormed into Phnom Penh. Nearly 2 million Cambodians - one in every four - would die from executions, starvation and hideous torture.

    Twelve helicopters, bristling with guns and U.S. Marines, breached the morning horizon and began a daring descent toward Cambodia's besieged capital. Residents believed the Americans were rushing in to save them, but at the U.S. Embassy, in a bleeding city about to die, the ambassador wept.

    Forty years later, John Gunther Dean recalls one of the most tragic days of his life — April 12, 1975 - the day the United States "abandoned Cambodia and handed it over to the butcher."

    "We'd accepted responsibility for Cambodia and then walked out without fulfilling our promise. That's the worst thing a country can do," he says in an interview in Paris. "And I cried because I knew what was going to happen."

    Thank you, Peace Movement, for giving us the lowest point in American history, and handing millions over to Communist butchers to be slaughtered.


    Thursday, April 2, 2015


    . . . and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else" - Ernest Hemingway

    Sunday, March 29, 2015


    The reason why I almost never wear my wedding ring - certainly not when I'm working . . . S.L.

    I just spent last week in Houston doing BOISET (Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training) to include HUET (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training). During the first iteration in the simulator my left shoulder strap did not release - trapped upside down, underwater, in a helo mock-up - I had to keep my head straight while I worked my way thru the problem . . .

    . . . I popped the window out and rotated my body to slither out of the strap. After I surfaced and reported for equipment inspection prior to the next go round, the instructor checking me out noticed I'd skinned my finger - a pretty good gouge on my left ring finger, significantly enough.

    My Dad started out as a machinist apprentice in the shipyards of Williamston, Victoria during World War II. He told me he never wore rings, because of his work around machinery. As a paratrooper, I have seen two instances where fellow troopers lost their ring fingers - once from getting a wedding ring hooked on something near the door of the aircraft on exit, and once from jumping out the back of a 5-ton truck. The injuries look exactly like THIS:

    (NOT me)

    Bottom Line:

    If I'd been wearing my wedding ring the damage would have been a LOT worse, and if it had been an actual helicopter crash I'd have either lost my finger, or I'd have died.


    Sunday, March 22, 2015


    Just my luck this thing pops up the minute I'm on contract . . . oh well you guys go play at being Vikings I'll be overseas doing the real thing . . . S.L.

    The contract came up quite quickly - the only sure thing I've seen in six months - and I had to move on it. I've been busy jumping out of my fourth point-of-contact last week; I ship out on Tuesday. It'll be good work for good pay and because I'm on ships there should be good comm's for keeping the blog; the only question is a question of time. We'll see. Hopefully there'll be some time for writing; one would think being between contracts would give a man all kinds of time to write but looking for the next thing is a full time job in and of itself. Job hunting is also a team sport and I'd like to take the opportunity to thank my team, notably the Deacon of Doom, Stark the Snark, Ann-of-a-Thousand-Days and Sheila the Sheila for all your help and assistance in what's been too long a dry spell.


    Looking at my banana this morning I wondered why bananas are so popular with those French Impressionist guys in their still lifes?

    Bananas are bright and yellow, of course, and have a nice curvy shape . . . but could it be something more? Impressionism emerged around the same time Sigmund Freud came out with all his goofy theories . . . is there a connection ? ? ? . . . or am I thinking too much into this?

    When I came to this great country of ours I literally came off the Banana Boat, 21 years old with my suitcase in my hand . . .

    . . . now I'm going back to the Land of Bananas and yes, I will be on a boat . . .

    Man, that's a lot of bananas . . .

    I'll keep you informed . . .