March 23, 2015: A Good Defense
As I mentioned yesterday, our Union Creek community defense plan is coming together. We drafted up the basics at the shindig at Pete’s and have moved into the execution phase.
I was surprised at how much our guest (I really wish we knew her name so I knew what to call her.) contributed. She didn’t offer much outright, but her critiques were both insightful and helpful. More than ever, I’m convinced she has some type of military background. However, she has no tattoos, dog tags or anything else to give us much insight into her history. She was wearing digital camouflage pants when we found her but those could very well have been military surplus.
A mystery wrapped in an enigma.
We also discovered that we have several other former military members sprinkled throughout the neighboring farms. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising. Given the depressed state of the local economy in the ’80’s and ’90’s, service in some branch of the armed forces was a pretty successful pursuit for many of us who grew up on small farms around here.
I remember being back on leave about five years after I graduated from high school. There wasn’t an official reunion, but a few of my classmates threw a hog roast. By that time, I’d been to a couple different countries and several states. Compared to most of my classmates, I was one of the more successful people at the party. It probably didn’t hurt that I’d also gone from the skinny 140-pound kid that everyone remembered from high school to 185 pounds of meanness and muscle with a high-and-tight haircut and a few wild stories to tell. Girls who wouldn’t give me the time of day in high school were fawning over me.
But I digress ….
We are fortunate to have, by my estimate, several hundred years of collective military service across those who gathered at Pete’s yesterday. We have a plan, a backup plan and a hell-in-a-hand basket plan. I don’t much like the last plan, but it’s entirely possible that it will be necessary.
High on the list of priorities in our plans are communications and knocking the rust off of everyone’s skills. Shortly following that, we need to work toward smoothly coordinating our activities. It’s great that many of us have served in the military but most of us haven’t actively utilized our military skills for years. There are a few younger guys and a couple younger women – our injured guest among them – whose skills are pretty fresh. That’s going to be critical to our success.
The older members of the group all agreed that allowing our skills to become stale was a big mistake. It was easy, once we were no longer in the military, to give in to the pressure of society that quietly erodes preparedness and military bearing. I know the comparison of the wolves, sheep and sheep dog is old and tired but it rings true. The sheep shun the sheep dog when they perceive no danger. After a long enough period without danger, the sheep dog himself begins to get a bit lax. Maybe he let’s himself go to the point where he’s more like the sheep than he is like a dog.
“There haven’t been any wolves around here in years,” he thinks to himself. “I should enjoy myself, take it easy, eat, drink and rest – enjoy life like the sheep.”
Then, one day, a pack of hungry wolves migrates down from the north. Food has been in short supply where they come from. The sheep, as well as the sheep dog, look mighty tasty. The sheep dog rises up to protect the flock, but he’s quickly winded and his fighting instincts are dull. The scenario doesn’t play out well.
I hope we can shake off the civilized mantle of the sheep quickly enough to save our own skin from the myriad wolves we may face in the coming days. While I wish for civility and the goodness of humanity, I recognize that we can only embrace such concepts to the extent they are embraced by those around us.
It’s been said many times over, the best defense is a good offense. If we had been on the offensive, constantly practicing and sharpening our skills; constantly working on our fitness and honing our instincts … well, we’d be much better off than we are today.
Many of the members of our community had no communications equipment. Fortunately, several other members of the group had stockpiled communications equipment of various types. We also scavenged the radios from the National Guard trucks that we commandeered. However, there’s nowhere near enough short-wave equipment to go around. So, our communication network will have multiple layers. We will have a long-range layer, based on short-wave radio. We will have a near-range layer based on citizens’ band. Finally, we will have a near-range mobile layer based on FRS. Radios have been distributed and roles have been established.
We’re lacking any sort of encryption for our communications infrastructure so we’ll use a multi-pronged approach to avoid interpretation of our messages. First, we have a rolling channel schedule for all three layers of the network. Each hour of the day has its own channel on short-wave, CB and FRS. Beyond that, the channel schedule shifts every day, according to another schedule. We’re also using what I call “plain talk encryption”. We speak plainly about everyday events but the words have alternative meanings. For communications that would have little to no strategic value for an enemy, we switch back to plain-speak. This is indicated by saying, “PS,” before the transmission.
We really have no way, except for radio silence, to keep a potential enemy, with sophisticated, military tracking equipment, from detecting our location based on our transmissions. As such, radio contact is to be limited to necessary transmissions only. No hourly channel checks. No chit-chat. Only what needs to be communicated. Our best defense against detection is not a good offense but rather complete silence.
As luck would have it, we also have a community member who raised and raced pigeons. We’re going to experiment with using them to carry messages back to his farm. He has a short-wave radio allowing him to transmit the messages out to the network. This would give us the advantage of concealing one half of the communication from anyone scanning radio channels.
Our communication strategy is, by no means, foolproof but it’s the best we can do with what we have. Unfortunately, none of our military members were radio communications specialists during their tours of duty.
While most of the rest of the community will be knocking the rust off of their basic military skills, a small group of us will travel to the Omaha/Lincoln area to scout and gather intelligence.
We’ve gotten into a bit of a family argument over the possibility of family rescue missions. Uncharacteristically, Terry seems to have given up hope that his adult children and their families are still alive. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism. Maybe it’s too painful to think of what they might have gone through to stay alive this long. Regardless, he has remained all but silent during our discussions.
Other family members, on the other hand, have been adamant that we have a duty to attempt to rescue any family members in the area. I’m all about duty. However, I personally feel that I have a duty to my wife and son above all others. Anything I can do to protect them, I must do. Anything I can avoid doing that could potentially reduce my ability to protect them (by getting me killed or injured, for instance), I must avoid doing.
It’s a difficult problem.
Sam, who has no wife or children, is the most inflexible in his stance that we absolutely must attempt to rescue our cousins and their families. Levi, seems to support Sam’s line of thinking but I can tell that the welfare of his daughters is in the back of his mind.
My guess is that Levi is thinking the same thing that I am. “What if I’m killed? Who’s going to take care of my family?”
Laura is very much in support of the rescue mission. She wants to be a part of it in case her medical skills are needed. I’m impressed. She’s usually not one to put herself in stressful situations. However, we might be rescuing her grandkids so, yeah, I can see her line of thinking.
Terry and I have had a pretty close relationship over the years. I want to find a few minutes of time to pull him aside and discuss it between the two of us. I want to make sure his emotional defenses aren’t keeping him from pushing forward with the right offensive to (possibly) rescue his kids and grandkids.