My experience this weekend and the excellent article by JC Dodge HERE started a train of thought I couldn’t shake. I went to a training event a local group hosted and was treated to a particularly frustrating experience. Someone was there in Gucciflage all pretty and matchy-matchy (if George W. can invent words then so can this Texan) but failed to bring a holster for his sidearm (because who needs a holster when you look that good), so the planned iterations of transitions from long gun to handgun were interesting to say the least. Not that it mattered, as most had difficulty putting a controlled pair into steel at a 1/4 sized target 10 yards away with a handgun. I kid you not. The PT standards I and others had screamed for were scrapped for some feel-good joke of a run ( 11:30/mile is NOT a standard…it’s a brisk walk) and pushups on your knees, Girl Scout style. It deteriorated to a lot of back-patting and insistence that we all wear the same man-jammies (multicam of course) with a few pointed looks in my direction since I came in something less threatening. While I attempt to refrain from expressing my frustrations and admittedly caustic sarcasm on here, as I feel I owe the readers a modicum of maturity and good-taste, I use the former to illustrate my point. I see much of the modern patriot movement doing exactly what we sneer at the Pentagon and military brass for doing, namely fighting the last war.
Society, industry, culture, warfare and just about every other aspect of civilization evolve. It is a natural and healthy part of a functioning ecosystem, whether that is literal or financial or martial in nature. Clubs begat swords and spears which begat muskets which eventually arrived at things like the Dillon Aero M134. Similarly, the way in which the last two wars were prosecuted against insurgencies were rather bungled, though exactly who should shoulder the blame I will leave to others more qualified. Many patriots point to the insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan and some Ireland as examples of how insurgencies can and do defeat regular forces. While there are salient points to be drawn from these historical events, very little critical and realistic thinking is done on the part of Captain Awesome running his ‘mulisha.’ I very much agree with both JC Dodge and Max Velocity on the abandonment of military uniforms, nomenclature and patches. Partly because I view it as a lack of creativity, someone who cannot think of an original name should not be counted on to think outside the box in operations, but also because I believe one should not act like the 800 lb. gorilla in the room unless you ARE the 800 lb. gorilla in the room…and probably not even then. While the uniform issue is easily enough remedied, I think it is endemic of a systematic failure of critical analysis of what and who the Taliban, Isis and IRA were. Three issues in which the patriot movement has significantly overestimated themselves and misidentified the success of these various groups is in funding, cultural influence and what I will refer to as population motivation.
The best guesses for the Taliban’s funding put their annual income somewhere between $100-300M between profit’s from the poppy industry along with a healthy slice of all the aid that flowed into Afghanistan. Current estimates on ISIS run anywhere from $30M to $50M all the way up to $2B a year. The IRA was similarly well funded by Americans, various illegal behavior and allegedly the Soviets and Libyans. The current funding for any single militia, is what exactly? We can’t even create any type of leadership structure let alone compete with that type of funding. Maybe a few thousand dollars or ten would be the best the local community would be able to scrap together. The Oathkeepers and even the NRA could not compete with that kind of cash if you scale what $300M buys in Afghanistan to the equivalent in American purchasing power. Certainly nothing on the scale of what the aforementioned organizations had. This is important because money matters. It buys cool toys, it buys expertise whether through training or outsourcing, it buys contacts, information and influence. Money buys full time employees, meaning ideally you have all those smart guys focused full-time on furthering your goals instead of working 50-70 hours a week and doing it part-time.
2. Cultural Influence
One of the more memorable passages I remember from Killcullen’s Counterinsurgency was his description of how influential the Taliban social structure was. Summons to Taliban courts would be served even in Kabul and individuals were more likely to show up than a summons from the official Afghani government. To me this illustrates the realpolitik of the average Joe (or Achmed in this case). There was certainly a sizable segment of Afghanistan that did and still does support the Taliban, similarly ISIS seems to have built a coalition of support. The IRA originally built a rather impressive base of support, even spanning the Atlantic until the shifting cultural dynamic turned against them, partly because of their own actions (Omagh 1998, whether perception or reality), partly because of the absorption of Sinn Fein into the government, and partly because of how terrorism was perceived by the public in Western countries after 2001. During their heyday both the historical and modern IRA enjoyed support among the indigenous population to one extent or another. The patriot movement enjoys no such support among the population. While some may support it online, how many in the local community would look the other way or actively harbor someone the government deemed a ‘domestic terrorist?’ I know of a handful of people that know me personally who would, but the brand is MY name, not of any organization. Other tribes enjoy support here in the US so I contend this is a lack of organization and effort, not a cultural issue. Ask local LEO how many people saw something after an incident in a primarily black community, particularly if it is in a gang’s territory. Other examples exist, but that is the first one that comes to mind. So while Captain Awesome may think he will ride about in multicam and it will be some kind of Red Dawn type groundswell of popular support for his merry band of matching ‘operators,’ the fact of the matter is he has not a fraction of the cultural standing, authority or support any of these insurgency movement leaders that he so gladly is willing to use as historical evidence. Pray tell, who is the American Michael Collins?
3. Population Motivation
Religion. Politics. Culture. These things make people to fight the status quo, fight to preserve the status quo and generally motivate people to stop sitting in their own blood and go spill their enemy’s. ISIS and Taliban, if what I read can be believed, are motivated along all three of the aforementioned lines. Establishing a political structure that suits their religious beliefs, a religion that commands and supports their actions, and their cultural rejection of Western values and politics. The IRA was motivated along similar lines, though in my opinion less so by religious beliefs than the other two. An essential precursor to money and cultural influence is a base of support sufficiently motivated to support an organization because they represent an ideal they espouse. It has to be idealistic in nature because the existing regime has the benefit of discouraging support through prosecution, curfews, taxation, and a myriad of other soft and hard political force. My point being is that one of the symptoms and perhaps the most damning one of this long con we have been victim of is that of the demographics of the nation. One look at the comments section of WRSA reveals how fractured we are on all three fronts. Not quite a three legged stool, but two would be nice if you’re trying to solidify support for a movement. Those conditions simply do not exist at this point in America. The suburbanites in Captain Awesome’s AO do not have his ideals most likely, in some cases they may, but in most they do not. They are increasingly not sharing his religion and most especially not his politics. They are not ideologically motivated and the portion that are call themselves Black Lives Matter, Bernie supporters and social justice warriors. Motivated populations also provide a pool of potential recruits, as we have found out the last several years in the Middle East.
In conclusion, it is the height of folly to blindly point at some historical examples that seem to support a pie-in-the-sky assessment of the future battlefield. These insurgencies had things that will not exist here in America. While this may fly in the face of my thoughts about being optimistic, one should not allow a positive outlook to cloud hard facts and real assessments. I fail to see how modeling any patriot groups, or tribes after a semi-regular insurgency forces that have taken place under vastly different circumstances is anything but a recipe for disaster. It success impossible? Not at all. However rather than model things after an unholy bastardization of the US military, Taliban, Chechens, IRA and other historical examples we need to stop making the same mistakes as the Pentagon has since Vietnam. It’s a sobering thought to think that patriots have less support, less money and fewer friends than any of these historical insurgencies. It is all the more reason for us to be extremely critical of ourselves, our skills, our tactics and our tribe-building. This is not meant as a Chicken Little assessment, but rather a reason to motivate us to be serious. Things will not just work out, it will require planning and God-awful amounts of perseverance. We are Americans and we do it better, so let’s get to it…and for goodness’ sake get a pair of khaki or olive pants and quit being a gear queer!