Preparedness And The Free Training Available For The Truly Motivated

A young aspiring Paratrooper getting ready for another jump during Airborne School

I have taken a lot of training over the years, and I have never regretted any of it. That training has consisted of “Hands On”, physical training (whether as a formal school, or an “In-house” unit class), “Death by Power Point” instruction in formal classes, “Old School” correspondence courses in the Mil, or the more recent version of that, which is doing it on line for the Mil or LE.

Whether it was the training I received as an Enlisted Soldier, as a Non Commissioned Officer in a leadership role in the Infantry, my LE career, or info gleaned from courses I actively searched out and took on my own. The training was always what I considered a “Tool” in the “Preparedness Tool Box” and could come in handy one day.

Students learning to fire and maneuver in an MDT “Bushbastard” class.

There are many out there today who try to convince others that they are serious, when it comes to their “motivation” in the area they say is their niche/calling. For instance, the “Militia” crowd has done their very best to try and make many of us believe they will be there when needed, whether it’s a natural disaster, an invasion, or a protest.

Practicing some wilderness survival skills.

The facts we actually see are that many of them are a “Soup sandwich without the bread”, and not only do they not have any true organization, but they don’t even understand their authority (or in this case, the lack thereof), and what the original guidelines were concerning the militia.

MILITIA RANT ON:

Regardless of whether their intent is to just look like the “Navy Seal they always wanted to be”, but couldn’t cuz….SEAL!, or if they are truly serious about being there to help in their neighborhood’s time of need, it really doesn’t matter. Perception is reality, and the perception is that most of these guys (who put themselves in the public eye) are a joke, and define the term “Wannabe” to the fullest extent possible.

Do you guys want to change that perception just a bit? OK, here’s a tip, stop trying to dress like you’re a commando when you are in public. As an example: Although a tomahawk is an effective survival and fighting tool for a Soldier or a Woodsman, going to a protest while carrying it on your gear right behind your “Modular Food Storage Unit” IS DUMBER THAN AN IN-BRED, METHHEAD SNORTIN’ DRAINO LACED, COMET!

Want another tip? Do everything you can do to come across professionally (Not as “A Professional”. In this context, you are not “A Professional”. If you were, you’d be in the Military or Law Enforcement). This post is about learning one facet of what you can do to gain some knowledgeable in the right direction. Why? So you can be on the same “sheet of music” as those you might be helping out, and you can then all speak the same “language”. You can’t do squat if you can’t communicate.

MILITIA RANT OFF:

The area with the free courses falls under the “Independent Study section shown in the yellow box.

This leads me to the point of this post. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a website called The Emergency Management Institute. On it, there are a number of courses you can take for free that will help you not only understand how the organizational structure works, but if you may be involved with LE or Fed, (no, I don’t believe you when you tell me you worked with LE or Feds at the Presidential Rally or a Civil War Parade, they didn’t need or want you “helpin’ out” because you’re an unknown, untrained liability) at least, you will have an understanding of how they are organized and function in an organized function or an emergency.

I found out about the free courses years ago, and although I have been required over the years to take a number of them for my employers, the majority I’ve done were on my own because “Free Knowledge”….., and why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

Whether you are a member of a Neighborhood Protection Team tasked with the security of your group in your locality, or you’re just a Survivalist who likes to know all he can about how the Local, State, and Federal authorities will respond to different types of emergencies in your area. It would behoove you to take at least some of these courses to be aware of what is going on around you.

The red block shows a short list of what is available for free and shows up when you scroll across the “Independent Study” icon.

 

IS-100bIntroduction to Incident Command System, ICS-100

IS-700bAn Introduction to the National Incident Management System

These first two are the ones I recommend you take first to give you a base line for the rest of the courses you take. There are presently 194 courses available. A few require credentials from the Feds to take, but most do not. You will have to register with FEMA to take the on line tests if you want a certificate of completion, but you do not have to register to take the class.

In the last few days, the ability to take the tests for the classes has been down and this advisory has been on the site concerning the tests.

IS-101cPreparing for Federal Disaster Operations: FEMA

IS-200b, ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents

IS-230dFundamentals of Emergency Management

IS-251Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) for Alerting Authorities

IS-288aThe Role of Voluntary Organizations in Emergency Management

IS-293Mission Assignment Overview

IS-303Radiological Accident Assessment Concepts

IS-315CERT Supplemental Training: The Incident Command System

IS-405Overview of Mass Care/Emergency Assistance

IS-660Introduction to Public-Private Partnerships

IS-662Improving Preparedness and Resilience through Public-Private Partnerships

IS-775EOC Management and Operations

IS-907Active Shooter: What You Can Do

IS-909, Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone

These are just a few I’d recommend you take to have a solid grasp of the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” of Federal emergency operations. For you guys who say you are “militia” and are willing to put in the effort, prove it. Show us that you’re not just playin’ soldier, and tryin’ to look like an extra in an interpretive dance of Modern Warfare 3, and for God’s sake, stay off of social media.

Just like the other forms and types of training depicted in this post, the computer is an awesome tool that, for now, can be utilized to learn many things you wouldn’t have easy access to other wise. USE IT!

Put in the time. Learn what is going on, and become organized and professional (for you militia guys, that usually means a polo shirt and cargo pants with a concealed pistol, not a plate carrier, your AR “pistol”, and a “Operator Cut” helmet). Stay in your “lane” (that means YOUR State if you’re “Militia”), and do the HARD THING (in this case it means study, not expending rounds). Knowledge is power, and survival requires many forms of “power”.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"- Live Prepared.
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Compact Defense Rifles For The Survivalist

Update from 2016,

As a Survivalist, your primary role is not as a combatant, but as a “Jack of All Survival Skills”. As I’ve said before, a Survivalist should be a jack of all trades, master of some (specifically the life saving and protection arts). A Survivalist needs to understand farming/gardening, animal husbandry, woodsmanship, mechanical repair (vehicle, farming implement, and firearm), and the technical/tactical skills of first aid (TCCC), extended wound care, coupled with the defensive tactics implementation of firearms, blades, and empty hands.

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While this is an extreme type of activity while having a rifle slung on you back (most rifles will flop around on your back), the Keltec SU16C is light enough that it isn’t a problem.

Although a Survivalist should always be ready to fight after a SHTF scenario has taken place, that is generally not his primary task on a day to day basis. If there is a good possibility that a fight will happen, and it is possible to carry more than just a pistol, you carry a rifle, period. Carrying a full size rifle all the time every day is extremely inconvenient if your primary tasks are not that of a grunt, and you have a choice.

While growing up on a farm, I can tell you that if you are carrying a full length rifle around (us kids didn’t have handguns, but during hunting season we always had a rifle handy), you are always looking for a place to stash it so that you can accomplish the task you are involved in.

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Full size long guns are very inconvenient to carry while doing everyday chores.

Although a Grunt usually doesn’t have a dire need for a compact rifle unless he is operating out of a vehicle, the parameters of what a Survivalist needs and can use can be very different. A Survivalist uses the type of rifle we are talking about for defense of himself and those under his care. While the combat rifle is EVERYTHING to an Infantryman, the rifle is only one tool of many to the Survivalist.

Enter the Compact Fighting Rifle (CFR). Having a rifle that is reliable, durable, powerful, and compact is a tall order. There are a few out there, but they’re few and far between. I generally will only use a system that has been adopted by a military with high standards (this doesn’t apply to .22LR’s). I’m still waiting for the AR-10’s to be vetted and proven reliable to my satisfaction (still a lot of the feedback has been negative),  so I’ve never owned one.

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A pic of a DSA SA58 (FAL) carbine I had back in 2002 during the ’94-’04 federal gun ban. No threaded barrel (integral brake) or folding stock was allowed, and this was about as compact as you could get with this type of rifle.

Others in the 7.62N (.308Win) category that I actually have owned and used are the M1A (M14), HK91 (G3), Valmet M76 (Finnish AK) and FAL, and I can vouch that, from my experience, they’re all reliable weapons with good reputations. In the last 31 years I’ve owned one HK91, one M76, seven FAL’s (of various configurations), and four M1A’s (of different configurations).

In the assault rifle caliber category, the majority of what I’ve owned were AK’s or AR’s with a few Mini-14’s and one Daewoo K2 (A Fed Ban model). I have had a dozen AK’s of various configurations, and a half dozen or so AR’s ( mostly carbines).

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Although the M1A Socom in an EBR stock is somewhat compact, it’s loaded weight of 14.5 lbs. with an optic makes it somewhat cumbersome to be considered a “Compact Fighting Rifle”.

The US military has used the short M14 (16 inch SOCOM with Sage EBR stock) that weighs in at 13 lbs. empty, and is 34 inches long. The HK91 with the factory collapsible stock weighs 10 lbs. and is 33 inches long. The FAL carbine with folding stock is 8.75 lbs. (without rail handguard) and approx. 27 inches long.

In the rifles of the “assault rifle” calibers, you generally have the AKM and the M4 variant of the AR-15. The average folding stocked AK (7.62x39S or 5.56N) weigh in at 7.5 lbs, and is approximately 26.5 to 28 inches long. The average M4 weighs in at 7 lbs. and is approximately 33 inches long.

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Of course we’d all love an SBR, but who wants to do that paperwork? Options in this category for the non SBR guys is the “Pistol” version w/ brace of the full size rifles. 

In the bullpup category (all the mil models are 5.56N), readily available, military tested rifles available to civilians, are generally the IWI Tavor TAR-21 and X-95, and the Steyr AUG A3. The TAR-21 is approximately 26 inches long and weighs in a 8 lbs.. The X-95 is almost exactly the same. The AUG A3 is almost 9 lbs. with its optic, and a little over 28 inches long. All the specs listed above are factory tech specs reflecting rifles with no accessories and no magazine.

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Although the Keltec SU16C is a lightweight and capable rifle, I would relegate it to the “Truck Gun”, or “Get home Bag gun” and not give it the position of “Combat Rifle”. Empty, this rifle weighs right under six pounds with the optic and is 26.75 inches long. The only reason I still have this rifle is due to it’s super light weight and compact size.

So what is available for the Survivalist in the category of compact semi automatic rifles? We are going to look primarily at side folding stocked rifles, and Bullpups. I have never been a big fan of the Bullpup design, but I know some people that love ’em, and have nothing but good things to say. In the following paragraphs, we are going to look at what the practical weights are of different rifles when compared to the caliber of the rifles being covered.

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Probably the most popular of the semi-compact fighting rifles. The M4 version of the AR-15 is usually around 33 inches long (stock collapsed) and in this configuration weighs 10.5 lbs.

First up, we’ll look at some Bullpups to see what their specs are. IWI is a well known manufacturer and is known for it’s reliable rifles. Pictured below (rifles in the center and on the right) are the Tavor’s X-95 and the TAR-21. they are both chambered for 5.56, and with muzzle brakes are 29.25 and 28.5 inches long. With a tac light, IR laser, and Elcan 4x optic, the X95 weighs 11.3 lbs, and the TAR-21 weighs 11.75 lbs.

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The rifle that is pictured to the left is an M1A Scout in a Rogue chassis. The overall length with muzzle brake is 30 inches, and with a 6x Trijicon optic, tac light and DBAL IR laser, this rifle weighs 16.3 lbs. (compact but very heavy). Both the Tavor bullpups and the M1A (not in the Rogue chassis) are considered to be combat tested systems, and although there are a number of other bullpups out there in the 5.56, the Tavors seem to be the most economical in the combat tested category.

There really isn’t any combat tested .308 bullpups available out there that I’m aware of (the Keltec RFB is not combat tested), but as I’ve said, the M1A platform is a time tested system, and it has performed well in the Rogue chassis through a number of tactical rifle classes for the owner.

Next up we have two folding stocked Sig rifles. One is the model 556, one is the model 522 (it’s the owner’s cheap shooting “training rifle”). The 5.56N chambered 556 weighs in at 12.35 lbs. with an Elcan 4x, Vltor bipod, and a tac light. Overall folded length is 28 inches and 36.25 inches with stock locked open. The .22LR 522 weighs 12 lbs. with a Trijicon 6x optic, a Vltor bipod and a tac light. Folded length is approximately 27 inches and 34.5 inches with the stock extended.compact-rifle-post7

When this type of comparison is done, the calibers of the rifles in question are typically of the “Assault Rifle” variety. Although there are a number of compact rifles available in the usual 5.56×45 or 7.62×39, there are a few available in 7.62Nato (.308 Win). One such rifle is the DSA SA58 (FN FAL) Compact Tactical Para Carbine.

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DSA SA58 (Para FAL) Compact Tactical Para Carbine with a 30 round mag at the top. AKM with Magpul Zhukov folder on the bottom.

Most will tell you that you can’t compare a battle rifle with an assault rifle in size or magazine capacity. Below are some picks of the FAL in comparison to a AKM with a Magpul Zhukov folding stock. The FAL weighs in at 11 lbs. with an optic, tac light, and DBAL laser. It’s overall length is 37.75 inches, and the folded length is 29 inches.

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In the compact defense rifle category, it’s hard to beat the FAL Para or a folding stocked AKM.

In comparison, the AKM that is pictured weighs 10.5 lbs. without any accessories, is 36.5 inches long, and 28.25 inches folded. Here’s an interesting comparison. With a 30 round magazine the AKM weighs 11.75 lbs. and the FAL weighs 13.75 lbs. with 30 round mag. Normally, battle rifles use 20 round magazines, since they are the most convenient. Since people like to make the apples and oranges comparison with these two rifle types, I figure I’d show that the size disparity isn’t as great as some would have you believe.

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The AKM pictured on top of the SA58 showing the size/profile is almost exactly the same, but the 7.62N cartridge far exceeds the performance of the 7.62x39S.

In contrast to the AKM with side folder shown above, this AKMS is a lot harder to put optics on.

 

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The DSA SA58 Compact Tactical Carbine with it’s normal 20 round magazine weighs 12.25 lbs.

I mentioned earlier that you can own firearms that appear to be similar to the regulated short barreled rifles (SBR’s), but are actually regulated as pistols. I talked about this type of firearm in this post, and for the purposes listed here, it would be foolish not to consider a firearm of this type without serious thought.

Besides there small size, they can be carried loaded in many places you can’t carry a loaded rifle. The 11″ ParaFAL OSW pictured here is 23.25″ inches long when the brace/stock is folded, and 32.5″ long unfolded. It weighs 13.25 lbs. loaded (with a 30 rounder) as pictured here, and ballistics are 2325FPS with around 1800 FT LBS. with 150 grain Mil ball (I listed this because I was told it wouldn’t do any better than a 16″ AK ball ballistics. This shows that’s not the case).

The 11.5″ SIG M400 weighs in a 10.5 lbs. as seen (loaded) and including the DBAL. With the SB Tactical PDW Brace collapsed the length is 27″ long, and 29.5″ long extended. Both of these firearms have a Primary Arms Holosun HS505C solar powered red dot. The FAL has the short mount, and the M44 has the space for iron sight co-witness.

If you are looking for a super compact defense rifle, it’s hard to go wrong with one of the bullpups we talked about earlier, an AKM folder or FAL Para. There are a number of good rifles available to civilians these days, and the most important thing to keep in mind is that when you make your selection and purchase your rifle, TRAIN WITH IT! It makes no sense to have something for that purpose, but to not train and become proficient in it’s use.

This post is about being realistic. Be realistic in what you think you will be doing during a SHTF situation. If you think you will be running from firefight to firefight, like your Modern Warfare 3 video game, you need to read some of Selco, or FerFal’s stuff. Be realistic in the rifle you select as your “Go to gun”. A compact rifle for a Survivalist beats the Hell out of a typical full size Infantry long gun for all but a few limited uses.

Being practical, being realistic, and being ready is what it’s all about. Just like most people won’t carry their handgun if it is too large or uncomfortable for them to conceal, so to, the compact rifle will be carried more in a SHTF situation while doing the chores if it’s not a pain in the ass to transport.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"- Live Prepared.

Finding The “Positive”

Yesterday’s load

While on one of my weekend “walks” (ruck walk) yesterday I was reminded of the importance of finding the positive in everything you do, and how much that mindset can make a difference in your ability, physically, to get where you are going. Yesterday was a “light” day, so all I carried was 60 lbs. of load bearing gear, my “Shorty .30”, and a light ruck instead of my usual 60 to 80 pounder, so it should have been easier, right?

Wrong! For whatever reason, my initial step off was just miserable. I was having trouble getting my pace and breathing rhythm in sync, My gear was rubbing in all the wrong places, and it just seamed like things were not workin’ out the way they normally do (but I did take the last two weekends off, due to “Life”, so…..). Like I said, it should have been an “easy” day, due to a lack of weight, so WHAT GIVES!?

After a half a klick, I decided to stop, take a water break, and reassess what the deal was. I found a good elevated (observation, right?), flat rock to take a break on, take my gear off, and take a drink. While sitting there, I took in my surrounding, noting how beautiful a spot it was, while trying to figure out what was my “deal”.

After about 5 minutes, I heard something walkin’ through the woods. As I sat there, here comes two huge gobblers walkin’ right towards me. Keep in mind, I had camo on, so these guys got within about 15 feet of me before they turned West and started down the mountain, apparently, never seeing me.

About 5 minutes after they walked off, I got up, took a last drink of water, put my gear on, while making sure it was all where it was supposed to be, and has been on that rig for over ten years, and I started walkin’. The rest of my walk went great. I got my rhythm (pace and breathing) back, and was able to enjoy the rest of my day.

So right now you’re saying, “OK JC, what does a couple turkeys have to do with your mindset and comfort level on your ruckwalk?”. Well, there’s a couple reasons. First, anyone who knows me, knows I’m a hunter, and have been since I was a little kid. Seeing those turkeys and having them get that close means I was following certain implied rules in the woods that will make or break your success as a hunter and probably your survival in certain scenarios.

Second, I’m a huge fan of nature, and seeing those turkeys up close and personal like that is very rare for even good hunters, so it was a treat for me to be able to experience it. I’ve only ever been that close to a wild turkey one other time, and it was about 20 years ago, and even if you use the patience I spoke about in this post, it is a rare opportunity for me.

Last night, while thinkin’ about what happened during the day, I realized that what made the big difference in my ruck walk was having something happen that changed my mindset/enjoyment in what I was doing. Look, anyone who has ever rucked knows it sucks no matter how in shape or motivated you are. Anyone who says carrying 100 lbs. or more of gear doesn’t suck is a liar, or hasn’t done it.

Physical fitness makes it suck less. A good mindset behind the motivations for why you do this physically hard task, makes it suck less. Having the confidence created by your preparedness in all aspects of the Survivalist lifestyle makes it suck less. Anyone who desires a life of living like a hermit in the woods during a bugout, needs to go into the Infantry and experience at least one field problem for about a month. Hell, that’s with beau coup support takin’ care of you. You do that, and you’ll see what we mean by “Being in the suck”.

My friend Bergmann has done two videos that I think are relevant in that they give a small glimpse into what it might be like in that type of a situation. This first one is pretty grim.

The second one here is even more so.

Some of the things we do as Survivalists are hard, and they suck, but as the sayin’ goes, what is your life and more importantly, that of your family, worth? When you’re doing the hard stuff, find the small thing in what you are doing that makes it just a little more “enjoyable” (or less terrible if you’re an unrepentant pessimist), even if the rest of it sucks.

In other words, “Stop and smell the roses”. Ruckin’ is one of my forms of PT, and PT in and of itself has it’s own rewards in more than just the preparedness tasks of the Survivalist. Among other things, it can prolong your life, and make other, less than smart, health choices a little less harsh on you and your body.

Grunt

 

If nothing else, be glad you’re not the aforementioned grunt, living at the behest of a Light Infantry, Non Commissioned Officer’s orders. The downside of not being a grunt anymore is that I now have to sometimes reach deeper than I did as an Enlisted Infantryman then as an Infantry NCO to pull the motivation out to continue. I no longer have others to motivate me, and I can’t say, “I will not allow my peers/subordinates to see me slack off or stop.”. It’s all you, and that requires a little bit more.

Not a Grunt

TANGENT ON:

Although I teach what most will call “Small Unit Tactics” to civilians, it is with the caveat that what I am teaching them at the Squad (9-12), Fire Team (4-6), and Buddy Team (2) (all 3 are about the numbers of the group, that is all) level is a noisy “means” to a positive, and hopefully survivable “ends”, and I reinforce that they are not the “Light Infantrymen” some trainers will try to paint them as, and they should be glad they are not.

If you want to be an Infantrymen and call yourself such, go into the U.S. Army or the Marine Corps and live with the limitations placed on you there. As civilian Survivalists, the only limitations we have, is due to the physical, time, or monetary restraints placed on us. The Infantryman has many more.

My friend NC Scout spoke of our civilian advantages in this post, using the Mountain Men of old as an example. When we say “I will teach you SOME Light Infantry skills”. It is not the same as sayin’ “I will teach you to BE a Light Infantryman”. Anyone claiming the later (or anything else he shouldn’t even be mentioning due to national security/safety concerns) to civilians is a charlatan only interested in the money behind that/those “Tacticool” selling point. The closest that you will get to learning and living the Infantry life as a civilian that I have seen, is at One Shepherd, and that takes years to accomplish, but fortunately isn’t too costly.

TANGENT OFF:

The bottom line and point of this post is, “Find the positive things in every situation you are in that sucks.” Some of us naturally do this because we are optimists, others need to develop this attribute if for no other reason than their sanity. Trust me, it will go a long way down the road, for your mental and physical health, if the worst case scenario happens.

My destination yesterday.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.