City folk pride themselves on their lack of self-sufficiency. The urban hipster comfortably lives in a cocoon where everything he wishes to partake in is readily available.  The relatively tight confines of large urban enclaves are wedded to a higher standard of living and cost associated that allows a disposable income larger than most such as Los Angeles and New York City.  Since most humans tend to be lazy when other provisioning is available they will not bother to put back emergency supplies or increase the size of their food larder.  In some cases, the outrageous sums demanded for properties in the cities also restrict the storage potential of apartments’ or townhouses.

Restaurants replace refrigerators and cabs replace private transportation or worse yet, the government transit systems that were recently shut down en masse when Hurricane Sandy threatened the large urban megalopolis in New York-New Jersey axis.  Since time immemorial, the urban landscape has been the primary intellectual incubator for large and expansive government and the birthplace of millions of humans for whom dependence is not only reality but creates a sophisticated rationalization of entitlement living at the expense of others as a natural order of society.

The fragility of this arrangement has just been tested by nature and found severely wanting. The government response has been the bureaucratic bungling, over-reaction, and heavy-handedness one has come to expect of the faux Soviet aspirants that pepper the city halls on the Atlantic seaboard. Fuel rationing, clownish ineptitude in emergency preparedness at the highest and lowest levels of officialdom and the automatic fallback to police brutality that always seems to be the final word on government reaction to crisis.

It’s amusing to see the inevitable reports of privatized looting when unaccredited criminals or gangs start to take people’s property and the usual suspects in the journalistic world never make the connection that these looters are simply using a cruder means than the tax policies orchestrated a little more thoroughly by the rulers in the city halls and state houses.

You will also see official resentment toward folks who may have either prepared for the emergency or be correspondingly accused of hoarding. You will certainly see the apparatchiks in New York start to impose short-term prohibitions that will create long-term disincentives to prepare for future emergencies. Why would that be? A readiness mindset that examines future contingencies and pre-emptively prepares for these events is one of them most direct threats to government authority. If you discover that your plans and preparations are superior to the provisioning of the government, you may just start examining every aspect and discover that not only is the government counter-productive but also you simply don’t need them anymore.

It will be amusing to watch all the collectivist pundits trot out their tired shibboleths about global warming, decaying infrastructure, anti-hoarding laws and calls for increased funding of government emergency bureaucracies to further manacle and stymie efforts to better prepare for these natural and man-made events in the future.  The government supremacists will use fair and foul weather to constantly mewl and chatter about their nefarious policies to further enslave mankind as they erect new and improved Rube Goldberg contractions to snuff human liberty and advance the cause of serfdom

Hurricane Sandy was not the sole creation of hot air in this instance.

My wife penned this gem as an homage to the hapless and dependent masses mewling for help in New York and New Jersey.  Remember that city folk pride themselves on their lack of self-sufficiency. -BB

Listen my people, and you shall hear,

The cries of New Yorkers yelling, “Hey! Where’s my beer?”

New Jersey is flooded. New York has no lights.

The police are out on the streets controlling the fights.

Everyone’s short on power and gas,

The mini apocalypse has come at last.

The elevators powered down,

People stuck in their buildings.

Guess they’ll just have to walk,

But they’re sadly unwilling.

If help doesn’t come they might die of thirst.

I’ve just one thing to say,

”Should’ve prepared first!”

Even New Yorkers can fill up a tub.

Or waddle to the corner and fill up on grub.

To all of my people, this here’s your lesson.

The apocalypse just came .

Better get preppin’.

Max was kind enough to answer some questions about his new books and his perspectives on living on both sides of the pond.  Buy his books, I cannot recommend them highly enough. -BB

 What threats do you see in the future for citizens in the European Union (EU) and the United States from their governments?

That’s a big topic but in summary I see increasing erosion of civil rights and the encroachment of ‘Big Brother’ and the surveillance state. In general real practical freedom is being eroded at a rapid rate.

  Is there a difference in the nature of the threats between the EU and the US?

Very much so: Although there appear to be similar movements towards police surveillance states in both the EU and the US, along with the erosion of democracy, such as it was, there is a very different tradition in the US. To a very real extent there is more to be lost in the US. The US has its written Constitution and has since its inception been a beacon of hope and liberty, whereas for example the UK has an unwritten constitution that did evolve over time to give ‘subjects’ of the Crown very good civil rights. The British system evolved rather than being rapidly put in place as in the US. However, in the UK you see those rights being taken away, if not already lost. An example is that there is no equivalent of the second amendment, which has meant that citizens in the UK have already had their right to bear arms removed.

Therefore the threat in the US is of the loss of the natural rights of citizens as enshrined in the Constitution. However, the flip side of that is that in the US the population is armed and therefore if citizens do stand up for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and decide to overthrow any tyrannical government, as the Founding fathers intended them to do, they will have more chance of accomplishing it without being crushed by the military-industry complex. In the UK and Europe it is much easier to crush dissent because the state really does hold the monopoly of violence, unless a point is reached where large elements of the military and law enforcement either defect or refuse to act.

  Most of our audience is in the US and bring a certain perspective to guns, what is the perspective of the English?  Have they become so wedded to the state that anything can happen to them?

There is a vast untapped resource in ‘Middle England’ of decent ‘right thinking’ folk, but they have no power base or ability to do anything about the loss of the country to the socialist welfare state and the increasing lunacy of political correctness and multiculturalism.  The British have also lost their guns. It makes for an interesting perspective where policing always seemed to me to be more reasonable in the UK, with the ‘bobby on the beat’ being someone accessible who you may have stopped to ask directions from. Most of the police were not armed. But that is probably now a romanticized view and outdated as the police have to combat increasing violence in society and gangsters. In the US, due to the prevalence of guns and the threat of their use by criminal elements, the US police officer is a different animal, someone I would not stop to ask directions from for fear that he would ‘run me’ in an attempt to find fault and make an arrest. The cops in the US appear to be an increasingly paramilitary force who do not ‘serve and protect’ but look to harm and arrest. Some of this is due to the violence they face, but it also speaks to a lack of respect for citizens’ rights and also the use of ‘department procedures’ to excuse bullying and incompetence. There is also a role model culture from the movies of ‘tough guy’ cops that does not help.

   What do you think of the gun culture in the US?

I support second amendment rights and thankfully when facing the possibility of a collapse we have the ability to protect ourselves. How would I protect my family in a similar situation in the UK, faced with rampaging looters? There is also the fact that due to the availability of firearms in the US, you need to possess and be trained in their use in order to be able to protect yourself and your family from those who would use them against you. Gun control aimed at law abiding citizens is madness, so long as there are guns out there possessed by criminal elements. So I am thankful for gun laws in the US, because I know that I can protect my family and also that the people can protect themselves against tyranny. The fact that we can have practical firearms in the US allows me to write a book such as ‘Contact’, in the knowledge that good folks out there have the ability to equip and train to defend against lawless situations, following any kind of societal collapse and absence of the rule of law.

   Your books are not only well written but mercifully lacking in the “tacticool” virus that haunts so many of the tactical gun books here. What sets yours apart?

 I have devoted most of my professional career to training and deployments and becoming good at ‘tactics’. It has always been a passion of mine. I don’t have any time for ‘tacticool’ stuff and the kind of mantras that you hear people repeat ad nauseam but perhaps they don’t really understand e.g. ‘shoot, move and communicate. I write about effective tactics based on some excellent training and operational experience ‘downrange’ that I have had over the years. I didn’t invent or make it all up, but I have thought deeply about it and evolved it based on my personal experiences. If it doesn’t work, fix it, if it works, don’t fix it. I have benefited from the experience of being trained, training with, and operating alongside some excellent soldiers and operators who I learned my trade from. I also really enjoy instructing and passing on knowledge, which was the genesis behind writing the books.

   As you are aware, I am a retired Army officer, so I was wondering if you could share some of your experiences with the Paras that have proven valuable in your current vocation or approach to the coming bad times.

The ‘Paras’ is a unit that you have to be selected for and which has extremely high professional standards. It is not good enough to simply pass selection and get into the unit; you have to be able to maintain a professional standard and focus. It was the Paras that gave me my professional grounding in tactics and SOF operations. Once I had that base, I was able to get contracts as a security contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, for five years, based on my pedigree and which continued to enhance my knowledge and combat experience. In the Paras I served in multiple theaters such as Northern Ireland, the Balkans and Afghanistan. This gave me grounding across the spectrum of operations and an insight into how things may potentially pan out in the US following a collapse. It also gave me perspective on security force operations and how these forces would or could be used to crack down on anyone viewed as an insurgent by the regime.

By the time I got to Iraq as a security contractor and found myself out on the roads there, it felt that I had spent my whole career gaining experience in countering terrorism, insurgency, IEDs and the like. Afghanistan was particularly interesting. I was deployed there after 9/11 and returned for two years to Helmand Province as a security contractor in 2007. That is a country that could be viewed as a model for conditions of extreme collapse. By contrast, places such as the Balkans can be viewed as an example of a place that faced partial collapse and civil war.

   Besides your books, any other books you may recommend that would be of value?

On the tactical side, I would recommend any number of modern books that cover fighting and combat, simply because they are useful to give your mind an idea, and begin the conditioning process, as you visualize the conditions that the people went through. I also recommend books on prepping and survival to give you the skills for the rest of the prepping spectrum; Contact does not attempt to do that but skips largely over those basics, assuming that you already have your ‘bullets, beans and band-aids’ in order.

 I suspect you cut your professional teeth on the SLR and I am the former owner of a whole passel of FALs that have since found new owners to fund the .223 and .308 ARs we currently field. The AR platform is ubiquitous here in America, what are your thoughts on it as a weapons system.  How about pistols?

I initially came into the British Army in 1991 after the SLR had gone out of service. I had the opportunity to shoot it on the ranges a few times with my father while growing up. I had the pleasure of carrying a deactivated SLR around the Welsh mountains on selection. The British Army has the 5.56mm (.223) SA80, now the A2 version and I always thought it was a good weapon, although people claimed it was heavy. The SUSAT x4 magnification sight was excellent. I used the AR15/M4 while in the British Army also, as well as for a time in Iraq. I think the M4 platform is excellent; I have one of my own! I never had a problem with 5.56. But here we get to an interesting point, showing the difference between firearms ownership in the US and the UK. In the UK we only had weapons in the Army, so they were the tools we were issued and we got on with it. In the US there is so much choice and soldiers have their issued weapons and then they can have whatever they want at home. No wonder there are so many diverse opinions. My approach is to use what you have to the best effect. 5.56/.223 or 7.62/.308, hit well with it and the enemy is not going to walk it off!

Pistols: I favor the Glock. I like .40 Cal, after many years of using issued 9mm pistols. That is a personal preference and again, I think that you should go with what is comfortable for you. If you are concealed carrying you need to figure out a carry system and a handgun that works for you.

  It appears that Scotland and Wales may secede in the future from Great Britain and I see a probability of that very thing happening here in the states, what is your read on the situation?

I honestly have not been keeping track on the progress or not of any secession in the UK. I think that in the UK the situation is such that it would probably be allowed to happen, at least to a degree: they already have assemblies in Wales and Scotland. In the US, I don’t see that. Look at the Civil War. I think FedGov would stamp down very hard on the idea of secession of any part of the United States, simply because it would weaken the Federal powerbase, just like in the 1860s. If I read my history right, the American Civil War was not about slavery, at least not at first (revisionist history of the victors aside); it was about power. It always is.

  Tell us about your project writing a novel.

The idea of the novel is to write a storyline that I hope will be interesting and captivating to the reader in itself, but which will incorporate and illustrate the tactics that I have written about in Contact and Rapid Fire. It won’t be an instructional, that would kill the storyline, but the characters will bring to life the tactics. I intend the novel to be set in a post collapse civil war environment, where a resistance movement is fighting a tyrannical government. Sound familiar or probable? Yep.

Max Velocity Bio: I have been a lifelong soldier with extensive military experience. I served in both the British and US Armies. I served with British Special Operations Forces, mainly with the Parachute Regiment which is Britain’s elite quick reaction force and which also provides support to the UK Tier 1 Special Forces, the Special Air Service. I served on six operational deployments, including to Afghanistan immediately post-9/11, and also a tour training and selecting recruits for the Regiment. I retired from the British Army in 2003 and then spent five years serving as a security contractor in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This included working on contract for the US Government in Iraq, a year of which was based out of Fallujah, the rest variously based out of Baghdad and country-wide, and also two years working for the British Government in Helmand Province and Kabul, Afghanistan. These roles were operational security roles that included exposure to multiple different training methods and operational schools of thought, as well as both high profile and low profile mobile operations across Iraq and Afghanistan. I then joined the U.S. Army and trained as a Combat Medic and Civil Affairs Specialist. I am a U.S. Citizen and live in Northern Virginia. I am a family man with a strong interest in prepping. This comes from a desire to prepare for the worst while living to the best in our current society. Contact springs from my ruminations on the need to keep my own family safe and survive any coming apocalyptic event, and a desire to share this knowledge with other law abiding folk.



Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival:

Rapid Fire: Tactics for High Threat, Protection and Combat Operations:





“Realists appealed to Collins. There would be no more glorious protests in arms, he decided. He built a cadre of realists around him, first in the IRB, then at Volunteer headquarters, where he took over Pearse’s old post as Director of Organization before becoming Director of Intelligence, finally in Dáil Eireann, as the underground government’s very effective Minister for Finance. Collins was a doer. Essentially a well-informed opportunist with very few scruples, his entire ideology could be stated in five words: ‘The Irish should govern themselves.’” 

–         Sean Cronin, “Irish Nationalism: A History of its Roots and Ideology”

“The characteristics which mark Collins out as a remarkably successful Director of Intelligence during the War of Independence include his evident appreciation of the importance of the collection and assessment of information as primary elements of intelligence operations which should precede action; his partial penetration of his adversary’s own intelligence system; the efficiency and ruthlessness with which action based on good intelligence was taken; and his success in preserving the security and efficiency of his own organization both in Dublin and in Britain despite the pressures it operated under because of the constant threat of raids, arrests and the capture of documents.”

 –         Eunan O’Halpin, “Collins and Intelligence: 1919-1923 From Brotherhood to Bureaucracy” (in the anthology Michael Collins and the Making of the Irish State)


Michael Collins was a tough young Irish operative during the seminal years of Eire’s final divorce from the United Kingdom at the beginning of the twentieth century.  This paper will attempt to discover if Collins was the culminating point that brought Number Ten Downing Street to the negotiation table, stared down Winston Churchill and came home with the solution for Irish independence from the British Crown.

Ireland was invaded and occupied the British crown in 1169 and suffered a brutal occupation punctuated by indigenous risings, rebellions and pockets of resistance. Sinn Féin emerged in 1905 to formalize a political vehicle to liberate the Irish from the British occupation.  These sophisticated rebel organizations started to emerge in the in the 19th and 20th century, culminating in the 1916 Easter Rising which led to the mismatch and overreach that would be the undoing of English rule over the Irish.

Michael Collins would emerge as the premier guerrilla leader during the crucial struggle between 1916 and 1922.  He embodied the early germination of the non-state soldier as a twentieth century variation on the age-old warrior in history and fought in Ireland under a variety of covers and positions within the political hierarchy of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).  Collins would fight for the next four years culminating on Bloody Sunday on 21 November 1920.

 The Rising in 1916

During the Easter week of 24-30 April 1916, the IRB fielded the Irish Volunteers and smaller elements of Irish nationalists rose in armed rebellion in Dublin against the British crown.  The violence was a tremendous shock to the authorities in London and they reacted with enormous disproportionate use of military and constabulary forces to quell the rebellion.   “The British Army reported casualties of 116 dead, 368 wounded and nine missing. Sixteen policemen died, and 29 were wounded. Rebel and civilian casualties were 318 dead and 2,217 wounded. The Volunteers and ICA recorded 64 killed in action, but otherwise Irish casualties were not divided into rebels and civilians.” [1] Executions and reprisals followed and Collins started to rise in the ranks to prominence in the aftermath of the Fort Sumter of the twentieth century Irish revolution against the Crown and eventually a bloody civil war that would pit Irishman against Irishman.

An increased colonial imperial presence started to expand its reach on the southern island that was the heart of the rebellion.  England was on a war footing in her third year of fighting in the First World War and troop movements and weapons availability were quite abundant for the forces deployed.  The British had to invest in a counterinsurgency campaign and still had upper tier members of the military high command with bitter memories of the COIN difficulties in the two Boer conflicts fought less than a generation before.

The Rebellion in Earnest

The IRB and the other militant organizations started to realize that the war would have to be one of the classic insurgent and conducted in “suit and tie” as it were, assuming aliases and slipping through the mass base undetected.  Collins would for three years hide in plain sight in Dublin and its environs posing as a businessman named “John Grace”.  Great Britain would respond with one of the most slipshod and misinformed counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns in recent history with a number of missteps that would eventually cost them the conflict and the island of Eire would eventually float out of the Dominion orbit. Some suppose that if that had not occurred during wartime, that the COIN may have had an even chance of success but the “modus operandi and outlook…had been shaped during wartime for the intelligence apparatus which required intelligence officers to cut corners, dispense with vetting procedures and cold pitch informers.” [2] The British also severely underestimated the IRB/IRA counterintelligence operations being conducted against them.

Once the British introduced the Blacks and Tans, a paramilitary police unit in concert with the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), the atrocities started to even gain attention in England and some Members of Parliament warned that the harsh treatment would lead to a deepening resistance and compel the populace to close ranks with the rebellion.  Contrary to the popular media, the massacre at Croke Park in 1920 where 13 civilians died was at the hands of the RIC and some auxiliaries. Nonetheless, a critical mass of English brutality was having a measured effect on the Irish mood that the IRA took full advantage of and Collins hatched a plan to assassinate members of the intelligence organization known as the Cairo Gang headquartered in the Castle.

 Bloody Sunday

The propaganda war on both sides was quite effective although one can say the Irish rebellion had an advantage between a sympathetic USA and British public becoming exhausted with the expense and the apparent atrocities starting to percolate for the unintended conflict that Great Britain had been escalating since 1919.  Even Churchill grew weary in 1920: “What was the alternative? It was to plunge one small corner of the empire into an iron repression, which could not be carried out without an admixture of murder and counter-murder…. Only national self-preservation could have excused such a policy, and no reasonable man could allege that self-preservation was involved.”  One can bookend this speech with one of the greatest speeches Churchill even made on 8 July 1920 concerning the British military massacres of Indians at Amristar on 13 April 1919 (also known as the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre) and his condemnation of British military excesses in the Raj, one cannot help but think he was conflating some of that brutality with what was transpiring in Ireland during the war.[3] Churchill’s reputation as one of the finest speakers in the English-speaking world gave him a platform which enthralled millions in the British public whether broadcast or read transcripted in the daily newspapers.  The daily mauling of Irish civilians by British occupation forces may have started to gain more traction.

On 19 June, 1920 the commanding officer of the RIC in Listowel informed his ranks:

“Now, men, Sinn Fein have had all the sport up to the present, and we are going to have the sport now. The police are not in sufficient strength to do anything to hold their barracks. This is not enough for as long as we remain on the defensive, so long will Sinn Fein have the whip hand. We must take the offensive and beat Sinn Fein at its own tactics…If a police barracks is burned or if the barracks already occupied is not suitable, then the best house in the locality is to be commandeered, the occupants thrown into the gutter. Let them die there—the more the merrier. Should the order (“Hands Up”) not be immediately obeyed, shoot and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching (a patrol) carry their hands in their pockets, or are in any way suspicious-looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties some time. The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man.” [4]

The perfect storm was emerging that would lead to the operation that would change the course of the conflict and eventually draw the British to the negotiating table to parley for a conditional settlement and peace that may free the Irish from English dominion.

Collins would strike the match that would put the British in the hazard.  His “Squad” was comprised of volunteer gunmen and supporting elements that would target the Cairo Gang at Dublin Castle who were a key component of the intelligence complex the English had deployed into Ireland to quell the rebellion.  The popular media has greatly exaggerated the importance of the Cairo Gang in the vast network of intelligence assets the Crown had deployed but the propaganda impact coupled with what would happen within hours of the assassination would force the British government to find a solution the IRB and indigenous Irishmen would agree to.

“Shortly after eight in the morning, [Collins’ men] converged on eight different addresses in Dublin.  Nineteen soldiers, one or two of them probably not agents, were roused from their sleep and shot.” [5]

Of these, thirteen were killed and six wounded according to official reports. When Collins would hear the news, he would say: “Good God. We’re finished now. It’s all up.” [6] This was not the blow the popular media makes it out it to be ands tends to be exaggerated.  This was a propaganda blow but had a relatively minor operational impact from an intelligence perspective.

“In hindsight, Collins’ operation, although executed with imprecision was a shock to British intelligence but quite limited in scope.  The IRA succeeded in eliminating only a small fraction of the legion of British intelligence operatives, although there is no question that a few of those assassinated were among the more experienced and aggressive operators. At the end of the day IRA gunmen killed seven confirmed intelligence officers, two legal officers, one informer, and two Auxiliary temporary cadets, while wounding four more suspected spies.” [7] Collins blow would nonetheless have far-reaching effects that would happen just that afternoon.

The day was not over as the bloody-minded British Blacks and Tans and some associated constabulary possibly seeking revenge opened fire at the football pitch in Croke Park that afternoon by killing 12 civilians and maiming hundreds of other players and spectators in what would become the Croke Park massacre that would even upset the British government at the ferocity and brutality of the attack after the stinging rebuke Churchill had spoke against mere months before in the Parliament during General Dyer’s trial for the Indian massacre.


A mere two years later in December 1921, the Irish would get their independence after almost eight hundred years as a mostly unwilling vassal of the United Kingdom.  This would spark a vicious civil war between two competing factions that would be long and bloody.  Collins would be assassinated himself in his personage as the military commander of free Ireland by a rival Republican faction in August 1922.

Collins was an able commander and essentially one of the first successful non-state soldiers of the twentieth century although T.E. Lawrence may tangentially take the laurel for being a state soldier commanding an entire army of non-state soldiers in WWI during the British fight against Turkey in the Middle East.  One must entertain the counterfactual that had Collins not struck such a blow and reaped the unintended windfall of English brutality and callous disregard for human life at Croke Park that same afternoon if the Commonwealth may have remained intact.

“… [G]iven time, strength and public support, the British forces could have reduced rebel operations to negligible proportions. Nevertheless, these quintessential conditions were missing. While the IRA survived, political pressure on the British government increased and though the balance was tantalizingly fine, the IRAS held out longer than the government’s nerve.  That was what mattered.” [8]

Collins survived and went toe to toe.

Collins was at the right time and right place to take full advantage of English missteps and capitalize on the unintended profit from Churchill damning the military brutality by Raj forces in India resulting in thousands of civilian deaths and maiming.  Many forces were starting to coalesce to include the post-WWI exhaustion of Britain, British financial woes and the consolidation of Irish guerrilla forces under a capable and effective leadership. The combination of ruthless efficiency, political stellar alignments and the sheer exhaustion of the British public with the conflict most likely tipped the balance for Collins and his confreres.

A single day in which both the protagonists swung at each other may very well have set the conditions for Irish freedom.


[1] Foy, Michael, and Brian Barton. The Easter Rising. Chicago: The History Press, 2011.

[2] Hittle, J.B.E. Michael Collins and the Anglo-Irish War: Britain’s Counterinsurgency Failure. Washington DC: Potomac, 2011.

[3] Herman, Arthur. Gandhi & Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age. New York: Bantam, 2009.

[4] Wilson, A.N. After the Victorians: The Decline of Britain in the World. New York: Farar, 2005.

[5] Coogan, Tim Pat. Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland. Boulder: Roberts Rhinehart, 1992.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Hittle, J.B.E. Michael Collins and the Anglo-Irish War: Britain’s Counterinsurgency Failure. Washington DC: Potomac, 2011.

[8] Doherty, Gabriel, ed. Michael Collins and the Making of the Irish State. Dublin: Mercier, 1998.

 Works Consulted

Barry, Tom. Guerilla Days in Ireland. Cork, Ireland: Mercier, 1995.

Cronin, Sean. Irish Nationalism: A History of Its Roots and Ideology. New York: Continuum, 1982.

Dwyer, T. The Squad: and the Intelligence Operations of Michael Collins. Cork, Ireland: Mercier, 2005.

Foy, Michael. Michael Collins’s Intelligence War: The Struggle Between the British and the IRA 1919-1921. Charleston: The History Press, 2006.

Gleeson, James. Bloody Sunday: How Michael Collins’s Agents Assassinated Britain’s Secret Service in Dublin on November 21, 1920. Guilford: Lyons Press, 2004.

Hart, Peter. The I.R.A. at War 1916-1923. New York: Oxford USA, 2005.

Schneider, James. Guerrilla Leader: T. E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. New York: Bantam, 2011.


Note: I use the term (D)ear Leade(R) in reference to both of the parties in this short essay. It’s not meant to be confusing, rather it’s meant to only reflect reality. A pox on both of their houses.

The state is a gang of thieves writ large.”
-Murray Rothbard

I can’t wait until this election cycle is over. I don’t have cable TV, but yet my senses are punctured with a plethora of propaganda. I just can’t escape it; it pervades the air like pungent flatulence, and it smells just as putrid. The waft is whipped up into a whirlwind when The Unwashed propagate the propaganda by continuing to conspire in the contest that will ultimately conclude with a winner; (D)ear Leade(R).

On my way out to hunt, to help feed my family with healthier, antibiotic and hormone-free meat, I flipped on the FM band to fish for foul weather. This brought on a bout of bad behavior because I began barking, and banging my fist. I heard (D)ear Leade(R) blathering on about how his jobs plan is better.

The claim was (D)ear Leade(R) merely has a “one-part” jobs-plan, and this could no way create the climate that is crucial for employment demand. (D)ear Leade(R) continually claims that the correct amount of confiscation is the cornerstone of creation. (D)ear Leade(R) exclaims that enforced extraction is essential for employment enrollment. How can we argue? The experts endorse it.

As a fella who finds a fundamental flaw in that fatal philosophy, I fully reject the flagrantly fallacious findings flossed and fielded by the experts. You see, the truth is (D)ear Leade(R) has only one “fix” they can flex, so here’s the facts: (D)ear Lead(R) has only ever had a one-part jobs plan, and that fetid fix should be found false on its face, for this fact remains: the fix must be forced.

You might be pondering what that one-part jobs plan could possibly be. Well, allow me to pontificate. In a word, it’s theft, and (D)ear Leade(R) only varies in vein; but of body, the same. But please, Dear Reader, don’t doubt the declaration, that is the jewel of the “jobs plan” of both of these jokers. The gist is just how much jacking will be justified by the jackboots.

In a propaganda blitz that would bring Orwell himself to blush, (D)ear Leade(R) has the people persuaded that private property procurement promotes production. Indeed, these con-men have the constituency convinced that destruction delivers creation. Another blunt blow in the battle to brainwash the conglomeratic cattle into believing that B is not B.

Any attempt to translate the Newspeak that is pimped by these Presidential panderers of political power into plain English would point to pure plunder. Clearly, these criminals can’t coherently claim they carry voluntary collar. The demagogic (D)ear Leade(R) demands whatever (D)ear Leade(R) deems decent; it’s your democratic duty, don’t you know.

Removing and routing the rhetoric from the (R) reduces to the same recurring principle as when the data from the (D) is destructed and detangled. The (R) totes token lingo, “lower taxation equals new job creation!” Now, here’s the non-statist translation: “The less I steal from you, the better you do!” The (R) may proclaim that proud, but it’s pretty far from profound.

The (D) describes and delivers a slightly different dialect, “Increased taxation leads to employment inflation!” Again, the non-statist translation:  “To see my vision enacted, your property must be extracted!” The only dissension between the (R) and the (D) is only the distance between the degree.

If it’s true that lower taxation leads to prosperity propagation, (D)ear Leade(R) is leery that the lemmings will lead that to its logical destination. Hmmm..perhaps freedom unfettered is the factual and and favored finale…

“That thought is nonsense!” (D)ear Leade(R) cries in retort. “Life without us would be nasty, brutish, and short!”

(D)ear Leade(R) continues, “Remember, we stand for truth and justice for all!” But how can this be? A leader that leads with lead is no leader at all!

Many millions of ‘merikans are mesmerized by these marauders of the mind, anticipating they’ll mend the misaligned markets; more by the minute. All the while not even mumbling that maybe this monolithic, morbid, immoral, and wicked midwifery has managed the birth of most of their misfortune, and misery. The people plainly do not realize that their plans are premised on the promise of property confiscation at the point of a pistol. Pleads from the productive plebs to pause this pointless and petty plundering will not go unpunished.

The fact of this force is forever spit-shined by in-the-loop, and in-the-know intellectuals with their sophisticated socialist solutions, and a steady stream of statist scribblings; providing cover and concealment to the con-men of so-called constitutional government. The rationalization of this reprehensible rhetoric is the reigning problem. Recourse and redress is to be realized through reeducation, with the only real tool that we really have; real education.

As the drones drive on with the demented deification of (D)ear Leade(R) with a devotion that Dear Father doesn’t dare dream of, I’ll be high; dozens of feet off the deck in a deer stand, swaying and swinging from side to side; moving with the motions of Mother Nature; waving without will in the wind; blowing back and forth on even the briefest of breezes.

Most regrettably, my movements will be mocking and mirroring the morality of most of the men on this land mass.

I’ll climb down when it’s over.

Ideas are bulletproof” -V


 “One day you will take a fork in the road, and you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go. If you go one way, you can be somebody. You will have to make your compromises and … turn your back on your friends, but you will be a member of the club, and you will get promoted and get good assignments. Or you can go the other way, and you can do something, something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. … You may not get promoted, and you may not get good assignments, and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors, but you won’t have to compromise yourself. … In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you have to make a decision: to be or to do.”                                                                                                                 -COL John Boyd

John Boyd did the intellectual heavy lifting after WWII to offer a new strategic paradigm to orchestrate warfare and deeply analyze why the larger nation-states would have increasing challenges that neither technologies nor big budgets would solve.  This essay will configure a Boydian lens over the current American conflict in Afghanistan in general and examine the green-on-blue violence phenomenon in detail to illustrate how the insurgent forces have commandeered the operational level.  Green-on-blue violence is the instantiation of hostile action against allied forces by indigenous coalition forces.

John Boyd was a visionary and much maligned defense intellectual who pioneered a number of theories and grand strategic suggestions which were almost counterintuitive to the accepted precepts and nostrums of the classical and neo-classical military philosophers and thinkers who had influenced the post-WWII Western vision of how military organizations train and fight.  He was the polar opposite of celebrated but fatally flawed modern strategic thinkers like Herman Kahn and John Von Neumann.  He realized that the future fight and the evolution of warfare would still be ultimately reliant on people and not technology.

Boyd discovered and pioneered the modern Air Force combat fighter pilot methodology and contributed in deeper philosophical waters with an examination of how to build cost effective fighting organizations, prescient predictions of new (due to historical amnesia by the West) modes of conflict such as Fourth Generation Warfare and was one of the key innovators in designing the F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft.  One of the peculiarities of Boyd the man was that he did not write books and most of his intellectual legacy has been written by others. What makes Boyd even more interesting, if not enigmatic, is he is rather hard to pin down for a legacy in the pantheon of modern strategic thought except through his followers and acolytes.

Boyd always emphasized dynamism in thinking and the willingness of large and small organizations to adapt to emerging changes and threats.  Purpose and not merely process were driving attitudes that imbued his work and thinking; a purpose to react in conflict in a fashion that would gain advantage by striking weakness or leveraging surprise.  Nothing Sun Tzu would find scintillating or irregular.

Boyd then extrapolates these seemingly ordinary nostrums into human decision cycles.  His prognostication on the Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA) Loop provides an elegant explanation on the way humans do their everyday business and wage war.  His influence has spread far beyond the war-room to the corporate boardroom. As with all intellectual contests, he has his share of detractors who find him shallow, derivative or unoriginal.

Colin S. Gray describes as eight attributes of the American approach to strategy. [1]  While Gray hails from an ultra-Clausewitzian school of strategic thought and has on occasion taken a dim view of Boyd, they happen to agree on these approaches and why most are pathologically wrong-headed.

  • America tends to practice a severe indifference to history and consistently seeks to fight the last war won.  It will adopt new means of warfare such as “Shock and Awe” or effects based operations (EBO).  The quick collapse of the Iraqi armed forces in 2003 saved the American forces from experiencing the humiliating and instructive defeat of the Israeli Army when they employed EBO and airpower against Hezbollah and had both their army and national reputation severely mauled in the process.
  • The engineering style and the technical fix fascinates American policymakers but tends to create a temporary panacea instead of a long lasting legacy program or menu of policies that matures over time and, more important, adapts over time.
  • The American political culture has tremendous difficulty supporting Long Wars because of an institutional impatience due to the political cycle and low tolerance for casualty figures that start to balloon out of control.
  • An American blindness to cultural differences causes frequent mirror imaging in policy making that cause fits and starts in military campaigns, and increases the difficulty of information operations with the mass base during the prosecution of conflicts and occupations.
  • A continental weltanschauung hinging on the unique American maritime position often induces a strategic deficit disorder to consider the wide-ranging effects of executed policy options.
  • An indifference to strategy in the traditional sense has long been something of an American tradition.  Animated by American exceptionalism, the country has often thought it may be immune to historical trends and precepts of Western strategy if it simply tried hard enough.
  • The resort to force, belated but massive tends to be a response that the military practices on a consistent basis.
  •  An active evasion of politics seems to flesh out much of American military action abroad and the last few years in the wars fomented after 9/11/2001 have seen much foreign policy and its concomitant military action come to ruin through this action.

Boyd, was above all, a synthesist who drew from a long history of strategic thought and considered one of the pillars of advantage to be capability to compromise a threat decision cycle before it could even initiate action.

A Boydian assessment of the green-on-blue violence in Afghanistan would most likely appreciate the enemy decision to compromise the decision cycle of friendly forces and create an indefinite postponement of the critical notion of handing over power to the indigenous forces to create an exit strategy.  By foreclosing on an exit strategy, the threat realizes that the longer the occupation remains in place the more alienated and agitated the mass base will be for the occupier.

“In recent days, rogue Afghan security forces have killed six servicemen from the NATO-led military coalition, pushing the number of such fatalities past 50 in a single year for the first time. The death toll highlights one of the biggest challenges facing the coalition as it nears the end of its role in Afghanistan’s war.

These killings, known as “green-on-blue” or “insider attacks,” have increased substantially within the past two years, accounting for14% of coalition casualties in 2012. Though statistically small compared to the numbers of IED-related (roadside bomb) deaths, these attacks have a significant impact on the coalition’s mission in Afghanistan.

 The two provinces burdened with the bulk of green-on-blue attacks are Helmand and Kandahar. It is no coincidence that these areas are where the Taliban are strongest, and where the country’s highest levels of opium poppy cultivation help fund the insurgency.” [2]

Whether the violence is sponsored at a higher level by Taliban forces who are infiltrating these provocateurs into the ranks or, worse yet for Allied forces in the occupation, these are spontaneous incidents or lone wolf attacks, the results are the same: a permanent trust breach that will ripple through the entire force structure.  Despite nearly eleven years of occupation, the US forces barely own the road networks outside of Kabul much less the more remote regions next to Pakistan.  One finds this eerily reminiscent of the debacle the Soviets were enduring while they attempted to pacify the country.  It even harkens back to the difficulties the dozens of German Wehrmacht divisions attempting to pacify mountainous Yugoslavia in WWII.

“The perception of occupation rests on two main factors: (1) that Western forces are in Afghanistan to support a corrupt and illegitimate central government in Kabul, and (2) that Western forces are willing to impose harm on Afghan civilians to achieve their aims” [3]  The green-on-blue violence is a direct result of the this occupation as evidenced by the suicide bomber trends Pape describes in his book throughout the world.

Assuming the Taliban or a number of disparate rebel organizations opposed to the US occupation are behind this, it infers that these forces have hijacked and compromised the high-level decision cycle of the Allied forces at the operations level.  If so, what strategic advantage would this afford the anti-occupation elements in Afghanistan (and by extension, Pakistan)?  The operational level uses subsidiary tactics to fulfill a strategic vision.  In this case the end-state is to drive the occupation forces out of Afghanistan permanently.  Lind sums it up nicely:

“Having set a realistic strategic goal, we next must understand what strategy is. Col. John Boyd, America’s greatest military theorist, defined it as a game of connection and isolation. We want to break the Taliban’s vital connections while strengthening our own.

As is widely recognized, the key to both is Pakistan. That country is the Taliban’s enabler. Break that connection, and the Taliban would be greatly weakened. In turn, most observers know that we need to strengthen our own connection to Pakistan. In strategy, geography counts.” [3]

The operational construct of the resistance in Afghanistan is far more sound and prone to success whether unwittingly or by design by compromising the decision cycle of the US military forces in Afghanistan than anything the Allies can throw against it. Again, defense intellectuals and US policymakers tend to diminish the operational and tactical IQs of their opponents and the American track record of definitive victory since the end of WWII speaks volumes to the wisdom of this hubristic and ultimately wrong-headed view. Lind’s notion of connection and isolation is so basic it almost becomes a natural inference yet American forces consistently get these associations wrong and monkey-wrench their own perceptions of who is fighting whom on the ground.

In the end, the Americans will follow the Soviets and British into the same trap the Afghans have so ably set for every invader.

 Bibliography/ Sources

[1] Gray, Colin. Modern Strategy.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

[2] Sajjan, Gohel. “Afghanistan: Green-on-blue attacks show there’s no easy way out.” CNN. (accessed October 18, 2012).

[3] Pape, Robert, and James Feldman. Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2012.

[4] Lind, William. “How To Leave Afghanistan.” The American Conservative. (accessed October 18, 2012).

Works Consulted

Bassford, Christopher. “Tip-Toe Through The Trinity or The Strange Persistence Of Trinitarian Warfare.” (accessed March 20, 2012).

Bousquet, Antoine. The Scientific Way of Warfare: Order and Chaos on the Battlefields of Modernity. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

Ford, Daniel. A Vision So Noble: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and America’s War on Terror . Charleston: CreateSpace, 2010.

Hammond, Grant. The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security. Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 2004.

Lind, Michael. Maneuver Warfare Handbook (Westview Special Studies in Military Affairs). Boulder: Westview, 1985.

Luttwak, Edward. Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook. Boston: Harvard, 2002.

Luttwak, Edward. The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century A.D. to the Third. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1979.

Osinga, Frans. Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd (Strategy and History). Florence: Routledge, 2006.

Pape, Robert. Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006.

Richards, Chester. A Swift, Elusive Sword: What if Sun Tzu and John Boyd Did a National Defense Review?. Washington, DC: Center for Defense Information, 2003.

Richards, Chester. Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business. Bloomington: Xlibris, 2004.

Safranski, Mark. The John Boyd Roundtable: Debating Science, Strategy, and War. New York: Nimble, 2008.

Van Creveld, Martin. Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2007.

  “Liberty, then, is the sovereignty of the individual, and never shall man know liberty until each and every individual is acknowledged to be the only legitimate sovereign of his or her person, time, and property, each living and acting at his own cost

–Josiah Warren

A couple of years ago my Service Manager came to me with what he thought was a fantastic idea. He was planning to take all of the production hours from the shop, combine them, and then split the hours evenly among all of the mechanics in the shop.

My reaction? Instant face palm.

For those of you who don’t know, auto mechanics are generally paid on the “hours” they produce. We call it flat-rate. Here’s a brief explanation on how it works. Let’s say your vehicle needs a front brake job. You, the customer, paid $250 for the job, but the mechanic is paid 2.5 flat-rate hours. The mechanic is paid the same flat-rate 2.5 hours regardless of how long it takes them to do the job. If the mechanic can get the job done correctly in one hour, they still receive 2.5 hours of pay. This is still the case even if it takes them longer than 2.5 hours. You get the idea. The hours a specific job will pay will vary with the difficulty level. For mechanics, this is a blessing and a curse. For talented mechanics, it’s a great way to make a comfortable living, especially in high volume shops. This is the system that is most widely used by automotive shops, dealerships and independents.

From the brief description above, you can see that this system is set up to motivate and incentivize the individual mechanic to work smarter and faster. My goal every day as a mechanic is to “turn” 1.5 hours for every hour I’m actually at work. This would mean that I would be working on my next vehicle while still getting paid on the last vehicle. That’s really the goal of any flat-rate technician. The faster a mechanic is able to get the vehicles in and out, the more money they will make. This is beneficial for both parties in the employer and employee relationship. The employer doesn’t necessarily pay the mechanic on hours clocked, only hours turned. There’s been days where I’ve been at work for 10 hours, but I’ve only made 3 hours. When there isn’t vehicle on my lift, I’m not getting paid. The overhead  costs of employing a flat-rate mechanic tend to be relatively low. Also, the employer knows that a mechanic is less likely to slack off and just leave a car sitting in their bay all day long. The manager knows that the mechanic would be wasting their own time as well as the company’s time. This system is beneficial in many other ways, like the promotion of study and education in the field, but that’s not really the focus of this essay. To this point, I’ve just tried to establish a basic understanding of the mechanic’s pay scale. From here, we can move on and I will show you why I did the face palm in the meeting with my manager.

I voiced my dissent to his newly proposed plan, along with a couple of other team leaders, but to no avail. This was a man with an idea, reason be damned. Although, he did make a somewhat coherent case for his position, I will at least give him that. This was a time when the manufacturer I was working for was having a hell of a time building a decent vehicle. Engine, wiring, transmission, and braking system problems were rampant. This was also on top of very involved mass recalls that took hours per vehicle. The diagnostic work that some of these vehicles demanded was well above the skill level of many of the mechanics in the shop, but they were well equipped for routine maintenance. His plan was to put the team leaders and the senior techs in charge of all of the heavy diagnostic work, recalls, and other “shit work”, while the less experienced mechanics knocked out all of the maintenance and routine repair work, or what mechanics call “gravy”.

The experienced mechanics were not very happy about this plan. There is very little money to be made in warranty diagnostic and repair, and recalls. This means that their paychecks would immediately take a hit. My manager knew there would be an instant revolt against this seemingly unfair plan. This is where he confidently said his plan would work. By combining all of the turned production hours, the senior mechanics wouldn’t have to worry about doing the “shit work” all day, because they would still be getting paid on the “gravy” the younger mechanics were turning out. After his explanation, he had gotten quite a few guys to support his position, but I still knew it was doomed to failure; I suspected a rapid failure at that.

The plan was put into action, and the flaws in the system were seen almost instantly. Part of the reason my manager did this was because he thought it would “free up” more mechanics for light repair and maintenance work. It did leave more mechanics open for work, but the maintenance and repair jobs that used to be accomplished by the senior mechanics were taking the less experienced mechanics twice and three times as long. It seems the seniors weren’t only faster at heavy repair.  Flat-rate mechanics generally keep track of their turned  hours on a daily basis. It’s prudent to do this, because mistakes are made from time to time, and if you don’t watch out, you’ll lose out. As a team leader, I kept track of all of my team’s hours. I knew exactly how many hours the people on my team could turn. I knew the strengths and weaknesses of everyone on my team. I saw a drop in production hours in just about everyone on my team. Mechanics were now taking lunch when they never used to. More smoke breaks were being taken. People who I knew could produce good, fast work just weren’t doing it anymore. Aggregate monthly shop production hours began to drop.

The total number of hours can be divided up into groups, and more closely examined. General repair and maintenance may account for 70% of the hours, while warranty repair may account for the other 30%. We noticed a drop in both of these categories. On top of the younger mechanics generally being slower at their jobs, they also did not possess the experienced eye of the senior tech who could spot that torn bushing, or quickly find an A/C problem, or could recall the specific timing belt service intervals of the vehicles that came through the door, etc. It’s basically the difference of going over the vehicle with a rake and a fine-tooth comb, and since all of the repair and maintenance was going to the less experienced, lots of potential labor was being missed.

I also noticed that everyone began watching everybody else. Instead of the individual relying on themselves to work and make their own living, they were relying on others to make their paychecks. What this means is that there was a whole bunch of mechanics focused on the wrong thing. Instead of focusing on their work, they were focused on the guy next to them. Even though my manager combined the groups into one big hive(what he called a super-group), the team leaders retained their lead positions which meant they were still fielding complaints from the mechanics. Here was #1 complaint–“This is bullshit, I know he can work faster than that.” I heard that daily, and the thing about it is, the complaining party was usually right, and it could be proven. Occasionally, a fight would almost break out, because some techs were working harder and getting paid less, and some were working less and getting paid more. This is because some of the mechanics in the shop were never cut out for flat-rate work, and they were now dipping into the good mechanic’s pocketbook. They were enjoying the wealth redistribution.

And that was my primary objection the entire time.

I remember confronting one mechanic, because it was very obvious that his production hours had dramatically fallen off. He was a 15 year veteran at this stuff, and I knew he was a very capable technician. I asked him what was up, and he told me, “well, I’m doing all I can.” He was one of the techs who was working hard, but being paid less, and it was really wearing him out. His incentive to work and earn more had been sapped. It’s like someone took a bite of his carrot and then put it back in front of him; it’s not so appealing when someone else has been chomping on it. He could no longer directly see the fruits of his labor. His labor was taken from him, mixed with everyone else’s labor and then returned to him. Most of the time it was less–sometimes much less–than what he was used to.

This was the main reason for the drop in aggregate production hours. Mechanics were abusing the wealth redistribution plan. The mediocre producers were producing less, and the morale of the top producers took a complete nose-dive resulting in a drop in their production levels. The minor problems certainly played a role in the decrease of production, but this plan was doomed from its creation. The fundamental error in this theory is the same fundamental error found at the core of the collectivist philosophies that champion wealth redistribution. It’s the fundamental error of not treating a thing as it is; not treating a human as a human; not treating an individual as as individual. I thought this story was interesting, because it shows how wealth redistribution could not be harmonized within a group of sixteen men. It is a utopian fantasy to think it could ever be accomplished on a much larger scale. It is a micro scale experiment in socialism that ended in utter failure.

There is one difference in the story I have just told and the situation you now find yourself in. The mechanics in this story could have walked out at any time if they did not agree with the philosophy and policies.

You can’t.

To require conformity in the appreciation of sentiments
or the interpretation of language,
or uniformity of thought, feeling, or action,
is a fundamental error in human legislation —
a madness which would be only equaled by requiring all men
to possess the same countenance, the same voice or the same stature.”

-Josiah Warren