May 7, 2015: The Essence of War
In all likelihood, we only have hours until the forces spotted by Tanner’s men are within striking distance, but I needed a little time to think and plan. So, I stuffed my shooting mat, spotter’s scope, a couple targets and 100 rounds of ammo in my Real Deal Brazil Manaus pack, grabbed my Remington 700 and headed over to the east end of the farm for a little target practice. The gathering at Pete’s wasn’t scheduled until 10:00 a.m. and I had a feeling that sharpening my long-range shooting skills wouldn’t be a bad thing.
The shooting practice left me centered in many ways. The rifle was still spot-on. My shooting skills were still good. I was also able to center my mental and emotional well-being during the time I spent alone on the hill-top.
I found myself able to see more clearly than I had for weeks, it seemed. The smallest details revealed themselves to me. I was able to read the wind like a children’s book. The targets were clear and crisp. The bolt of the gun was as smooth as butter. My breathing and pulse were controlled. My finger squeezed the trigger flawlessly as the rifle responded in kind. My mind cleared the superfluous from its tracks and multi-tasked on my shooting as well as my planning.
The buzzing that has been constantly in the back of my head stopped.
The words of Sun Tzu came to me as if blown by the gentle breeze.
“Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.“
After this quote came to mind, I spent a few minutes in prayer. God’s presence was almost a tangible thing.
When I opened my eyes, I knew what we had to do.
The meeting at Pete’s went about like one would expect. Panic and anxiety permeated the room. The smell of fear was thick, almost visible like heat waves hovering over pavement in the summer sun.
I stepped up onto a small platform made of stacked pallets so everyone could see me.
“Folks,” I began. The nervous chatter died away quickly. “We’ve faced some hard times since late last year. We may well face even more difficult times in days to come. Tomorrow, however, we will be tested as few of us have been tested before.”
I paused for a breath and to allow what I had said to settle over the crowd of mostly men. Many of them had served in the military, but few of them had seen the horrors of war.
“Tomorrow we will engage in battle,” I continued. “We will fight to protect what we own, what we have built and those we love. We will fight for our survival.”
Murmurs trickled through the group.
“From time to time some of you have heard me use the phrase ‘the new normal’ to describe the period of history in which we now find ourselves,” I raised my voice slightly above the murmurs. “In the new normal, as in previous times, there are those who would rather take what they want by force rather than earn their living honestly. This is the ilk of the men we will face. By nature, they are lazy and unprincipled. These are flaws of character. Like flaws of any sort, these flaws constitute a weakness – a weakness that can be utilized in their defeat.”
The room was silent – so silent that I could hear the scrabbling of a mouse as it ran along one of the timbers over my head.
“The lazy only do what is required – at times even less. This is the basis of my plan for our defense.” I watched brows furrow as I spoke. “This attacking force is unaware of our intelligence about their position, direction of travel, troop strength and weaponry. They expect to march in here and take us by surprise.”
I could see light dawning on several of the faces in the crowd.
“The lazy are less likely to have backup plans,” I stated simply. “The lazy are less likely to be prepared if their battle plan is discovered or their circumstances changed.”
Tanner was visible out of the corner of my eye. He began to grin.
“The best defense,” I paused, “is a good offense.”
What had been murmuring before, rose to the level of a rumble. Heads were nodding as I looked around the room.
I stepped down off the platform of pallets and approached the crowd, “We used a similar strategy against the thugs assembled by the former drug dealer, Fernando Hernandez. We knew he was coming for us. We knew the punks that worked for him were holed up in the National Guard armory. We took the fight to them!
“And that is exactly what we will do with this group of punks. Some of them may wear the U.N. crest rather than prison tattoos, but they are thugs, nonetheless. They have demonstrated their willingness to attack and kidnap innocent people. They have already stolen from those among us and they’re coming back to finish the job. Well, we’re not going to give them the chance!”
That got the crowd pretty worked up. Cheers and hollering filled the old barn.
Once we got things settled down again, I went through the details of my proposed plan. Several others with combat experience chimed in with suggestions. Together, we crafted what I believe is our best chance at survival.
Just as Sun Tzu suggested centuries ago, we will utilize speed to attack the enemy where they have taken no precautions … and where their biggest weapon, the MLRS, will be of little use.