|Photo from: http://iliketowastemytime.com/2012/04/24/54-incredible-military-photos|
I felt incredibly frustrated. I didn’t really know what to do. The only thing I could think of doing right now, to distract myself from this feeling of disgust, was to begin another ghillie suit. I know it will help me relax while I sort through my thoughts. It was therapeutic, in a weird way, tying each strand of jute on. Long strands on the edges, and short strands in the middle, because vegetation grows vertically. This color here and that color there; not too many in one spot or else it will stand out. What time of year is it, I wondered. I turned from my computer and looked out the window. What colors would I add right now? The last of the leaves still clung to their branches, as if in a desperate attempt to conserve what little life they had left. I sighed. Fall was ending, and the beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges were being replaced by browns. Winter was certainly coming, a bit too quick for my liking.
My thoughts drifted to the black footlocker that was currently in some dark corner of the barn, probably under a combination of Christmas ornaments and paperwork. It had an address on top of it: 110 Strawberry Street, Pepperell, MA, 04911. I had sent it to my wife during my last deployment to Afghanistan, filled with all the gear I didn’t need. Isn’t it weird all the shit they make you pack when you know full well you won’t need it? We all know we won’t need our level fifty top and bottom ECWCs (aka marshmallow suit). Yet there it was, taking up space in one of our ten bags we were obligated to pack. We were ready for everything, which ironically, made us too heavy to fight anything. That is one of the many things we did wrong during those wars. Perhaps we should have trusted authority less and our own intuition a bit more?
I walked through my office and into the barn, stopping at the refrigerator to grab a beer. When I opened the door to the barn, I was hit with a sudden gust of cold air. It was colder than I thought it was, but not too cold. The bottom floor of the barn was a mess. My wife and kids, well mostly the kids, kept throwing things in, in no order, despite my protests. I guess it was fair, it was the storage area. The space was littered with empty boxes, pine four-by-fours for future projects, and various tools. Projects I had every intention of finishing months ago, yet for some reason hadn’t. My neighbor’s motorcycle was in the corner; I let him keep it in the barn because he didn’t have a place for it. I carefully stepped over the mess to get to the stairs.
As I said, it was cold but not frigid. It was more like a comfortable chill; you could see your breath in the air but didn’t need a jacket to keep warm. I was wearing my sniper instructor long sleeve and felt more than comfortable. It smelled like campfire, old wood, and pine. I loved the short walk up the creaky old stairs that lead to the second floor of the barn. It was built in 1853 and had very little renovation done to it. It almost felt as though you were going further back in time with every step. The past came alive in my mind as I envisioned all the families who ran up and down the barn steps. It was both fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time. They lived as I live now. They were happy and sad. They were angry, and they were fearful. They had hopes and dreams. Had the wife of a yankee fighting for the north in the Civil War walked these steps as she wondered where her husband was, fearful he would never return home? Now all those families, all those memories were dead and gone, and yet I could still feel their presence. I could feel the history. Those thoughts vanished as my black footlocker came into view. I fiddled with the lock for a second, trying to remember the combination. It was a Masterlock; the type you had to turn each individual number and align them to get it to pop. I popped the lock, flipped open the cover, and peered inside.
There, on the top, was the Multicam uniform I had saved after my Army retirement. Multicam was an improvement over the shitty ACU (Army Combat Uniform). The BDUs were adequate, but they still needed improvements to become the woods. They had too much black in them and were too dark when they got wet. The more you sweat, the more you stood out. That is the goal of a sniper- to become the woods- to become nothing. Many people erroneously believe the goal of a sniper is to look like a bush or tree. This is false. The sniper wants to become nothing. You wanted an observer’s eye to be able to scan right past you because the area was too “boring” for additional attention. A tree or a large bush is something easy to spot. So is a dude creeping around in a ghillie suit. Everything in between those spaces, the thousands of leaves, branches, and blades of grass, are just too much for the eyes to handle, so we naturally skip over those spots. Those spots are perfect for the shadow people to hide.
I continued my inventory of the footlocker. What else was in here? Let’s see, netting…. shoe goo…. canvas…. boonie hat…and jute. Can I be honest about something for a second? I love jute. I love the smell and texture; they are unique to anything else. It is the colors which inspire me most. The colors of the woodlands, swamps, and fields of the Eastern United States. There were various shades of browns and greens because a complete mixture of both were vital. However, it was geography and season that mattered most. A sniper, after all, was part artist. It was late fall in Central Maine right now, so I would have to use the darker shades of green to match the thick pine trees. I would combine that with the darker browns to match the prevalence of fallen deadwood across the region. I would finish off with some grayish green, or ranger green to match the moss, grass, or even some stone I have encountered. As I pulled out the jute, I thought about the tactical failures I encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan and debated how I could have countered them.
I find it ironic that the more I immerse myself in civilian life, the more I understand the enemy I faced in Iraq and Afghanistan. One must consider the environment they are operating in as a stage of sorts. The extras on the stage are your everyday workers; the businessmen and everyone within the businesses they operate. This could be truck drivers, cashiers, clerks, and tradesman. It is in that space you must operate from. You must be able to move in and out of those trades/business and seem as though you are merely a customer or worker. In the woods this is more obvious to me. When I was a sniper, we use to call it becoming nothing. You do not become the tree or bush in the forest because the human eye is naturally drawn to these “positive spaces”. You want to become the area between the bushes and trees where the eye drifts over. You want to become nothing; you want to be too boring for a more detailed search. In the city, the businesses, workers, and customers become the forest, trees, and bushes. To fight effectively in modern warfare, you must glide like a shadow across the urban landscape, ready to strike when your enemy is least expecting. Silence, violence, silence. The operator with a loud T-shirt and aggressive haircut eye fucking everyone is not boring. The guy looking like he just left work and simply wants to get home with his six-pack is boring and not worth further investigation. It is important to note here that it is on that stage with those actors in which that operator is “boring”. On another stage those actions could generate more interest. Thus, it is vital that the “actor” must be comfortable and fluid in many situations to avoid detection.
A complete overhaul of the infantry organization is necessary. I would laugh at our own incompetence if it was merely the leaders making such decisions who were killed for their gross incompetence, but it wasn’t. I criticize myself here as well. We all played our part. We had a box in which we had to fit. All our field manuals told us so! We were forced to fit everything into said box, but it simply didn’t work. Uniforms and uniformity made us stand out like the foreign invaders we were. Our FOBs and convoys kept us from learning the tribes and terrain. Without that knowledge, we had zero chance to locate the enemy actors as they slithered across the various stages they operated from. Even though reality demanded different tactics, we stubbornly clung to what consistently failed. What happens when your chain of command is so stubbornly obdurate in their tactics despite how ineffective they are? Apparently, nothing. They don’t care. Not if they get to keep their retirement pay. The reality is that the chain of command as we know it is obsolete. Dinosaur relics from the ghosts of World War I &II. Today the Sergeant has more of an impact on warfare. Day in and day out, he leads his troops on the front lines, making key decisions that can have severe consequences on the outcome of the war. Ask any E5 or E6 who served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq. To depend on rank or qualifications in modern warfare is to ask for death.
The United States military needs to embrace chaos, initiative, and intelligence at the lowest levels if it is to have any success in the twenty-first century. Some units have, but the vast majority hold back the true warriors; the fear of failure stinking upon their leaders. You simply cannot have the bureaucratic red tape holding back initiative on today’s battlefield. Are you qualified to do that? This is not the correct question to ask anymore. Quite simply, just do it without asking the authority to do it. Who cares if you are not “qualified” to do it. I had only one platoon leader who utilized initiative and chaos as a weapon. He did not ask for permission to operate in a certain manner. The success we had was immediate and obvious with the amount of true enemy bodies brought back to the FOB. When the chain of command didn’t let us conduct missions because of what they were called, this LT simply changed the name and carried on. This LT cared not for qualifications and permission just as our enemy didn’t care. He embraced chaos just as our enemy did. The snipers we faced in Iraq were effective though hardly professional. They operated nonetheless because their goal was to rid their tribal areas of a foreign invader. In this, they were successful. Clausewitz himself stated, “War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfil our will”. Whose will was fulfilled during the Iraq War? The point is that leaders must get over their fears of failure. It brings about a defeatist attitude, which is obviously deadly.
Chaos perfectly describes the tactics used by the paratrooper units who descended upon German occupied Normandy on June 6,1944. They were like sticks scattered in the wind that night as they landed across Normandy. Unable to link up to with the rest of their unit, the soldiers formed small teams that created ultimate chaos. The battlefield was nowhere, yet it was everywhere. High ranking German officers did not know what to do; how could you fight an enemy who was everywhere? There was no decisive point and seemingly no strategy to the invasion. It was the faceless NCOs who embraced the chaos and led the soldiers into battle. This wasn’t limited to Normandy. The famous 504th Infantry Regiment earned their nickname “Devils in Baggy Pants” while fighting the Germans in Anzio during the Italian Campaign in early 1944. The nickname originates from an entry in a German officer’s diary which read:
American parachutists...devils in baggy pants...are less than 100 meters from my outpost line. I can't sleep at night; they pop up from nowhere and we never know when or how they will strike next. Seems like the black-hearted devils are everywhere.
That battlefield was much more organized compared to the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. How can I take the lessons learned about chaos from a World War II unit and apply it to a modern battlefield?
The smell of glue stole me from my thoughts. I hated the smell of it; it gave me an instant headache. Back to the ghillie suit. You are supposed to glue a pad to the front of the uniform and then glue canvas over the pad. The point is twofold. It makes the ghillie suit more durable and more comfortable while you are crawling around on the ground. That is what the book says anyway. Honestly, I hate the book. It has some great information in it, but all too often people get caught up in following what the book says that they forget to focus on the current fight. To me, the canvas was too heavy and the padding too bulky. Plus, they both contrasted with the Multicam base, making them easier to spot. Straight lines and different camo patterns will allow the enemy to locate and destroy. Plus, the padding made people look like the fucking marshmallow man. Gotta look cool too, you know?
I always glued the netting on first, though some people sewed it and then glued it. It was a bit redundant in my mind, so I just glued it. I had already cut off the Velcro nonsense that littered the uniform. With both top and bottom face down in front of me, I laid the netting on back of both uniform parts. You want to leave about eight inches on top, so you can fold it over to hide the outline of your shoulders. I do not have any statistics to back this up, but I think that the outline of a man’s shoulders will give him away quicker than anything, except for his helmet. You must break up the human outline if you wish to “become the woods.” Do the same thing at the bottom. Leave about an inch on each side. Now when you glue the net on, you do not want to glue every four-way. You want your suit to be wavy and flexible. Does vegetation sit there rigid and unyielding? No, even sturdy branches sway with the wind. I glue about every third four-way, across and down, starting at the left shoulder and going down to the bottom. Do not glue the overhang. As I waited for the glue to dry, my mind drifted back to my thoughts on modern warfare.
Wars are no longer being fought the way they once were. What is the difference between a 100,000-man Army invading your border and replacing you over the course of three years and a 40-million-man invasion slowly dripping through your borders over forty years? The outcome of both is the same even if the intention is different. Thus, illegal immigration must be considered an act of war because to ignore it is to risk fundamentally changing our culture. After all, if you pick up 50,000 Syrians and place them in America, you will not have Americans. Those 50,000 Syrians will remain Syrian and retain their customs and culture. How long will it be until they begin to force the natives to go by their customs and culture? Is there a historical precedent? In 1620 the Pilgrims landed in the new world and agreed to a peace treaty with the native Wampanoag tribe. The Wampanoags had been ravaged by disease and were considerably weaker than their Narragansett enemies. So, their chief Massasoit allied with the Europeans, settling the land. Fifty years later in 1675, Massasoit’s son, Metacom, aka King Philip, lost a war to regain his native lands from those same Europeans. The Wampanoag’s had waited too long, and the Europeans were too many and too powerful to defeat. The similarities between those fifty years and the last fifty years of American history are terrifying. Thus, mass immigration = invasion because the outcome is the same- loss of the native customs and culture.
What if the enemies of America have figured out a way to defeat us in lieu of sending an Army to conquer us? Traditional pillars of Western society, equality, tolerance, and diversity, are being cited for the importation of cultures which do not exactly mesh with Western culture. Those ideological breach points then act as a foothold to conduct Islamic terrorist operations. As attacks on the natives increase, we are forcibly pushed further outside of our cities and towns until there are literal no-go zones. The governments, elected to protect the people, instead cry “diversity is our strength” even though that same diversity causes the streets to run red with our blood. Worshipping diversity to the point where cultures are clashing is insane. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, stated that, “What I do know is part and parcel of living in a great global city is you gotta be prepared for these things” after a bombing in New York. To me this sounds like one culture dictating terms to another culture. No, one shouldn’t live in fear of bombings in one own cities! It is a foreign culture (Islam) using our weakness (disguised as diversity) to sneak into our society and murder us. Does anyone happen to remember the Trojan Horse? Societies are either conquering or being conquered. There truly is no in between. Just ask the Native Americans.
So how do we fight that? The answer obviously isn’t the military. They are ready to fight World War I, maybe World War II, but have lost every time they have come up against a non-uniform-wearing enemy who is a true believer. No, it is going to have to be the citizen who rises to defend his native lands. The law-abiding citizen who isn’t scared to carry concealed and use it when he must. We MUST blend into our civilian background like a ghillie suit fades into the forest. We must be everywhere and nowhere. We must become the background and we must embrace chaos! In this kind of warfare, the old tactics will get you killed. It reminds me of the old joke where a squad of soldiers meets up to deploy to Vietnam. All showed up in uniform except for one who showed up dressed as a fireman. The leader demanded to know why the soldier wasn’t in uniform to which he replied, “well, they are going to be looking for soldiers.” Not the best joke, but a good lesson to consider for the modern battlefield.
Look at the tactics being used against the West in current year. The new tactics consist of individuals operating with initiative to bring about chaos: lone wolf attacks, mass murder by ramming through crowds of people in a vehicle, bombings, knife and/or machete attacks. This is what our enemies are doing to us in our own countries! Chaos is the true enemy of Western armies and our enemies are ramming chaos down our throats. Expensive Western armies stand impotent while their leaders bicker about rules of engagement and political correctness. On the modern battlefield, the best units are the ones that can break down to individuals because that is what is necessary to combat lone wolves. Think snipers and rangers only more “civilian” in order to blend into the population at will. We need to embrace chaos to have any real chance at winning. If we stick to the World War hierarchy, tactics, and traditions, we will lose in our own countries.
However, these tactics mean nothing without the will to fight and win. The West has sold their souls to the devil for a comfortable lifestyle. They have become so domesticated that even as they get attacked in their homelands, they do not fight back! Look around you next time you are in a grocery store. You will see heavy set people unaware of anything going on around them. In fact, some “men” even cheer on the invaders because they think we need to “embrace change”. They think they are being “inclusive.” How do they not realize they are traitors! The riddle of steel, that the strength of steel is limited to the will of the men who wield the weapons, is true. A weapon means nothing without pure brass balls to use it in defense of your culture.
“Dad?” My son’s voice cut through my thoughts like a hot knife through butter. He looked young and scared. I couldn’t imagine him fighting anyone, let alone people who hated him and wanted him to give up his land, heritage, and life. I looked down at the contents of the box I had laid around me. There were magazines, pouches, ammo, and holsters everywhere. Jute and netting littered the barn floor. I guess I was still a fighter. The sooner I accepted that, the sooner I would feel whole. I already lost my innocence somewhere between September 11, 2001 and my third tour, where I found myself dragging the lifeless body of a teenage fighter, who had his head shot off by an Apache gunship’s thirty-millimeter guns, to a pile of his comrades. They had picked the wrong day to fight. I remember throwing his body on top and then peering inside his chest cavity and looking at the different colored gobs of whatever the fuck that was and feeling nothing except hatred. We probably shouldn’t have been there, just like they shouldn’t be in our lands, except, oh wait, 9/11. The difference was they had the will to defend their homeland. We are too fearful of being called “racist” and “intolerant” to defend ours. If we do not change our attitude soon, we will be conquered.
“Hey, Buddy. What’s up?” I asked. I smiled and tried to speak as warmly as possible. It was hard with all those thoughts of war swirling about in my head.
“Do you want to play catch?” he asked. I could hear the hope in his voice. I felt bad. I worry about too much stuff I cannot control. I really need to focus more on my family. God (Christianity), family, and community, in that order, is what built this country. It was when the country let those pillars of Western culture fall that we lost our soul.
“Sure, just let me put all this crap away, okay? I promise I will be right out.” I opened the footlocker to put it all away.
“Dad, what is all that stuff?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll be right down.” I dismissed it as nothing right then. He didn’t need to bear the weight of Western problems. Nor did I to tell you the truth.
He turned, bounding down the stairs, throwing the football in the air and catching it himself. You really do forget how much they value even a little bit of time you give them. Before I went downstairs, I quickly glued the netting over the shoulders onto the clavicle area and added a bit to the forearms. I did not start adding netting to the forearms until I became an instructor. Believe me, the forearms really stand out. Make it a point to put netting there as well. It was good he came up as I couldn’t do much more with the ghillie suit. Plus, I was going to a rabbit hole that I was not ready to go down yet. The glue had to dry, and I liked to give it a full twenty-four hours. I took out a hanger and hung up the jacket. It swayed slightly as a cool draft ran through the barn. Tomorrow I would begin to put the jute on. I couldn’t wait.
“DAD! It’s been forever! Are you coming out or what?!”
I smiled, glad that he wanted me to play with him. There was a time, not too long ago, that he feared me- a time when I had lost my soul. A time when I was empty and bitter; dead inside from a lifetime of anger and turmoil. How many times can you deploy to fight a losing conflict begore you go insane? There was so much hate and anger inside of me. I fought monsters for so long that I almost became one myself. Nietzsche once said, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” I had stared into the abyss for far too long. The empty darkness, which stared back, had indeed invaded my soul. I was an empty shell, wandering about this world, isolated and living in fear. I know now, however, that no matter how dark I became, no matter how much I isolated myself, there was always a small flame that, when fed right, had the potential to grow into a roaring fire. I don’t know how that flame was not extinguished entirely, but I am grateful- when all was lost that tiny flicker led me to the truth.
With that thought in my mind, I gathered up all my old gear and placed it neatly inside the footlocker. I grabbed the silver lock and promised myself that I wouldn’t think about war again until the next time I worked on my ghillie suit. As I began to walk down the wooden stairs and out the back of my barn, I laughed despite myself. I constantly thought about war. I had eaten three apples from the tree of war, and despite the sometimes-bitter taste it left in my mouth, I always craved more.