Notes for Tuesday – January 17, 2017

In his farewell address to the nation on January 17th, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the American people to keep a careful eye on what he called the “military-industrial complex” that had developed in the post-World War II years. We didn’t do a very good job of listening to his warnings.

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With the Presidential Inauguration just a few days away, we are running a guest article by Samuel Culper from Forward Observer. With the planned protests and the potential for civil unrest, they will be running an Intel Exercise beginning January 19th, 2017 where you can learn how to collect vital Intel using the available tools. Be sure to visit their site for more information.

Guest Article: A Primer on Tactical Intelligence Collection, by Samuel Culper

Tornadoes, flooding, and wildfires are just three examples of localized and very personal emergency events that we saw last year, and they illustrate the devastation by an event for which there is immediate early warning. We can be alerted to a tornado warning and seek cover. We can vacate our homes in case of flooding or an approaching wildfire. As we deal in the likelihood of SHTF scenarios, the likelihood of natural crisis events is 100%.

However, on a regional or national scale, we’re looking at more unpredictable events for which there is little to no early warning: an electromagnetic pulse, or perhaps a cyber or physical attack on critical infrastructure, or a financial or monetary breakdown that plunges millions into a very real emergency scenario. A cyber attack on the New York Stock Exchange will have no direct effect on your safety, but the second- and third-order effects will be felt on every level and generate threats to your community. So what we should be preparing for is not the cyber attack itself but for the follow-on effects of that cyber attack that will affect your community.

Regardless of the event, we need to be able to collect information to support decision making so we can keep our families safe. Should we bug in or bug out? If bugging out, which route should we take? If bugging in, how can we get early warning of approaching threats?

I’m going to break down a few ways that we can reduce the uncertainty in an emergency situation. I spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan, and both of those countries were real life or death, 24/7 emergency situations. As an intelligence analyst, my job was to keep the commander informed on the security situation and threat environment. The commander’s responsibility was to make decisions based on the intelligence we provided. If we had no incoming information, then we couldn’t produce intelligence. This is why information is the basic building block of intelligence, and therefore community security. If we want security in a volatile and potentially violent scenario, then we need to know more about the threats. What we need is real-time intelligence.

In 2014, a small group of volunteers and I battle tracked the Ferguson riots. The first step of battle tracking began with a process I call Intelligence Preparation of the Community, or IPC. (You can watch the entire IPC webinar here.) We analyzed the strength, disposition, and capabilities of local security forces. Knowing what equipment they had enabled us to better understand how they would react to unrest. We similarly analyzed the protest groups and identified associated individuals.

What these groups— both security elements and protest/riot elements— had in common is that they were both producing information of intelligence value, much of which was available through open sources. Through something as simple as listening to the police scanner, our team was able to plot out the current reported locations of law enforcement and the National Guard. Meanwhile on Twitter, we scanned the accounts of known protesters for real-time information.

In the image below, we took information reported on local emergency frequencies and plotted those locations on the map using Google Earth. “Warfighter 33” was the call-sign for the National Guard Tactical Operations Center, which was set up in the parking lot of the Target shopping center. We also pinned several National Guard posts as they reported their locations. It wasn’t rocket science, but it started to help us understand the security situation. This is a very rudimentary form of signals intelligence, or SIGINT.

Through the night, we continued to use photographs uploaded onto social media sites and news articles in order to identify the photos’ locations. Then we plotted them on a map. Pretty soon, we had a very good idea of which areas were generally safe and which areas had the most activity as the riots progressed and eventually burnt out. Had we lived in Ferguson, we could have used this intelligence to navigate our way to friends and family or to help friends and family navigate away from the threats. All this information was publicly available, so we call it Open Source Intelligence, or OSINT.

(And with some very basic equipment, anyone can replicate this process for their own communities. Be sure to check out the Ultimate ACE Startup Guide for additional information.)

So what do I do if there’s a grid-down situation where there’s no electricity?

That certainly complicates things. Before I answer that question, I want to ask you one: on a scale of 1 to 10, how important is intelligence in a emergency situation? (I would say 10, but I am admittedly a bit biased.)

First, understand that there may still be electricity in a grid-down environment. As long as there are generators and given that there’s not been an EMP, then someone somewhere will have electricity. My local law enforcement agency claims to have enough fuel for two weeks of backup power were things to go sideways. That’s good to know, and it’s the benefit of intelligence collection before an event as opposed to a post-event scramble. If they’re powered up and communicating during an emergency, or perhaps some Ham radio operators are, then we still need the capabilities to listen in. Otherwise, we’re going to be at a severe disadvantage.

If there’s no power, then we’ll have to rely on Human Intelligence, called HUMINT. That means getting out and talking to people. It could mean a reconnaissance patrol. For hundreds of years before the advent of collection technologies, the horse-mounted cavalry were the eyes and ears of the commander. Snipers and forward observers sitting in hide sides had the responsibility to get “eyes on target”— in other words, observing and reporting enemy activity— and they’re often excellent intelligence collectors. An observation post equipped with a field phone, sending back intelligence information, is another example of observing and reporting; in other words, they’re collecting and reporting intelligence information without electricity. A grid-down scenario certainly limits our collection capacity, but it shouldn’t negate it altogether.

What are some considerations for human intelligence collection?

Consider this: technology is a force multiplier. With SIGINT or OSINT, we can be very wide and very deep in our intelligence gathering. That’s a 1:n ratio. We have one collection platform, in this case maybe a radio receiver, and we can quickly scan radio frequencies to collect real-time or near-real-time information from anyone who’s transmitting. But when we deal with human intelligence, we’re often operating on a 1:1 ratio; that is, one collector is speaking to one source at any given time. That’s a very slow and difficult way to do business.

So instead of 1:1, I want you to consider the scalability of that ratio. If one person is limited to gathering intelligence information from one person at at time, wouldn’t it makes sense to scale the number of collectors upward? It absolutely would. Every set of eyes and ears is a sensor, so we as an intelligence element tasked with providing intelligence for community security should absolutely be interested in encouraging community members to passively collect lots of information. Every member of our community is a passive intelligence collector. They may not target individuals for recruitment or conduct source meetings, but we’re cutting ourselves short if we’re not consuming what they see and hear. All that information is reported back to us, and then we’re engaged in the arduous task of compiling and evaluating that information in order to create intelligence.

Intelligence doesn’t produce itself, so it’s incumbent on us to build that capability. The more accurate information we have, the more well-informed we can be. Without first being well-informed on the situation, making high-risk, time-sensitive decisions just got a whole lot more complicated.

Samuel Culper is the director of Forward Observer, a threat intelligence service that focuses on domestic security and conflict risk issues. He’s a former military and contract intelligence analyst, and author of SHTF Intelligence: An Intelligence Analyst’s Guide to Community Security.

Letter Re: Canning Jar Questions

Good evening, Hugh,

Your wife has posted a couple of articles indicating your family uses an industrial vacuum pump for vacuum sealing canning jars; do you have any recommendations on vacuum pumps for this task? How many inches of mercury do you regularly pull on canning jars? I’ve seen a couple of videos on Food Savers indicating they pull about 18 inches, but I suspect 20-21 inches should be more than adequate.

She also mentioned you made wood crates for storing and transporting canning jars. I’m getting ready to start making some; any suggestions? What dimensions do you use for the various size jars? – N.K.

HJL’s Comment: Most any laboratory diaphragm pump will pull the necessary vacuum. The point of the vacuum is to remove the oxygen from the jar. You can do this by throwing an oxygen absorber in the jar with the food or using your vacuum sealer to pull it out. (Warning: Do not try to store wet foods in this manner. Food poisoning is nothing to play with. If you don’t die, you will probably wish you were dead.) Since a hard vacuum isn’t a requirement for the storage, there are many brands of vacuum food storage pumps that can work. However, the Tilla Food Saver is the only electric consumer pump that I like. The others struggle to pull a vacuum as well. For those who don’t mind a bit of manual labor, the Pump-n-Seal is an excellent option (or backup unit) that will draw about as hard a vacuum as you can get without an oil type pump. We don’t use the intended method of sealing jars with this gadget, but instead connect the 1/4” vacuum line of the Tilla Food Saver lid sealer up to it.

We used a Tilla Food Saver until we wore it out, and that is when I made the built-in unit out of the laboratory diaphragm pump (purchased off of eBay). The laboratory units don’t like to be turned on and off rapidly, but they will run continuously. So we placed a valve in the line. Rather than turning the pump on or off, we control the access to the vacuum by turning the pump on when we begin and then vary the vacuum with the valve as we seal jars, turning the pump off when we are finished.

I built the boxes for the jars out of 3/8” plywood and 1/2 x 1 1/2 inch strips for reinforcement on the corners and edges, but this resulted in a heavy box. Next time, I will use 1/4” plywood and 1/2 x 1 inch strips for reinforcement. The boxes are simply made to fit 12 quart jars with a cardboard sheet between each jar. The quart box dimensions are approximately 15 1/4” x 11 1/2” x 8” on the inside.

News From The American Redoubt:

Gary Hunt’s Outpost of Freedom site has been served a “Cease and Desist” letter and the government has filed an affidavit and request for a court order to shut down his blog. Read this site while you can, before the American Stasi ignores the First Amendment in an effort to hide its illegal moves. – D.S.

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‘Go get the gun’ stops would-be thief in his tracks

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Record snowfall in Boise keeps Treasure Valley schools closed, side roads daunting

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The American Redoubt movement simply echoes what people have been asking for, for a long time. Here is a newspaper article from 110 years ago that provides some historical context: The Washington Times, April 22, 1907: Spokane People Demand New Western State.

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I missed this CBC (Canada) news segment when it first aired, back in October: The ‘American Redoubt’ Movement. And here is the more detailed report that appeared at their web site: Hoping for best and preparing for worst: Inside the American Redoubt movement. And here is a follow-on video report: Take a tour of an off-grid cabin in the American Redoubt.

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Splitting up Washington state: You take the dry side

Economics and Investing:

The Precious Metals Advantage: Are Silver and Gold a Good Investment?

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47% of Jobs Will Disappear in the Next 25 Years, Says Oxford University – G.P.

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Physical Gold Will ‘Trump’ Paper Gold

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

What ‘border adjusted’ tax means — and why it could be coming to America

Peak Prosperity- Mad as Hell

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SurvivalBlog and its editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for details.

Odds ‘n Sods:

KFC’s New Facial Recognition Software Is Troubling For A Few Reasons – W.C.

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That’S Strange: Weapons Caches Found Stashed In Dc Days Before Inauguration – DSV

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From The Burning Platform: Common Sense – 2017

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If you cut your own firewood, this will interest you. You will need a tractor with PTO. Use at your own risk (or your arms). – K.T.

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Here is the legislation that Pat Cascio warned us about a couple of days ago: Washington State Democrats Seek Bans on Semiautomatic Rifles, Pistols

Notes for Monday – January 16, 2017

The Space Shuttle Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 16th, 2003. STS-107 would disintegrate on re-entry 15 days later, killing all seven of the crew members on board. SurvivalBlog salutes all seven crew members: Commander Rick Husband, Pilot William McCool, Mission Specialist David Brown, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist Michael Anderson, Mission Specialist Laurel Clark, Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon.

SOG Knives’ Power Play Multi-Tool, by Pat Cascio

Many folks ask me what types of things they should put in their Bug Out Bag (BOB), and this is a hard one for me to answer. We all have different needs and different ideas about this. When I tell some of these folks what I put in my BOB, they question some of my choices. If they are smarter than I am, then why are they coming to me for advice in the first place? I don’t claim to be an expert in anything; I’m just a serious student in a lot of fields. However, over the course of the past 25 years as a writer, I’ve tested all kinds of products, including firearms, knives, camping gear, survival gear, and many other products. So, I feel I have a good grasp on what works and what doesn’t work. I carry a firearm every day, as do a lot of people. One never knows when we might need it. I also carry one or two knives each day. This comes with testing knives for articles. Ditto is true on the firearms. Each day I also carry a multi-tool, which is the tool I use most on a daily basis.

The original Swiss Army Knife, while a great idea, was never to my own satisfaction, and I’ve owned quite a few of these multi-purpose knives. To be sure, there are actually two official Swiss Army Knife makers. Of course, there are a lot of cheap (and I do mean cheap quality) clones of Swiss Army Knives out there. These clones simply are not worth a dime, if you ask me. I wouldn’t carry one or use one, and I have tested them. They are junk, plain and simple. The original Swiss-made army knives are very high quality. Still, they aren’t meant for hard use. I’ve had more than one literally come apart in my hand under hard use.

Enter the multi-tool, which are being produced by several different companies these days. Once again, buy quality. Don’t buy cheap junk for a couple bucks; they will only fail you when you need them the most. One of the leaders in the mutil-tool field is SOG Knives, and they are constantly coming out with new multi-tools. It’s hard to keep up with them. Most folks think, “Well, I already have a multi-tool. What’s new about this one?” There are many new features that someone should take into consideration. When I run across a new model of multi-tool that does everything my current one does and then some, it has my interest.

Enter the new SOG Power Play multi-tool. The Power Play is a smaller package; it isn’t a full-sized, overly large multi-tool. It falls into that “just right” niche, if you ask me. I’ve had large multi-tools in the past, and I only carried them for a short time because they were too big for my use. One of the main features on multi-tools are the pliers. Some are just plain-Jane, everyday pliers, while some have multi-uses, as the Power Play does. More on this later.

One complaint I have with many multi-tools is that you have to open them in order to access one or two of the knife blades. It shouldn’t be that way, if you ask me. When I pull out a knife blade, I want it fast and easy with nothing complicated. The Power Play allows you to access a straight edge plain blade as well as a fully serrated blade without opening the tool. Thats nice! I also like the SOG compound leverage when using the pliers. It doubles the gripping strength of the pliers, without doubling the amount of hand pressure you have to use, which is a great idea!

There’s hardly a day that goes by where something on my small homestead doesn’t need a repair of some type, from simply tightening a screw on a handgun grip to cutting wire to opening packages from FedEx, UPS, or the USPS. I don’t enjoy having to run back into the house when I run across something that just needs a minor repair and then having to dig through my tool box, which is always a mess, to look for the right tool for the right job. The multi-tool eliminates many of these back and forth trips into the house for the right tool. I’m not talking about overhauling the engine on my pick-up truck, but at times all that is needed is to tighten the clamp on a leaky radiator hose, and multi-tools have several different screw drivers that can get that job done.

Let’s take a close look at all the tools that are contained in the Power Play, and there are 18 of them listed below:

  • ¼-inch bit driver
  • 3-sided file
  • Awl
  • Bolt grip channel
  • Bottle opener
  • Fully serrated blade
  • Hex bit kit
  • Jewelry driver
  • Large flat screw driver
  • Medium flat screw driver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Phillips screw driver
  • Ruler
  • Small flat screw driver
  • Straight edge knife blade
  • Wire crimper
  • Wire cutter
  • Wood saw

Whew! That’s a lot of useful tools in some compact multi-tool, and keep in mind that these are quality tools rather than junk that will break easily. Also, should something break on your multi-tool from SOG, they will repair or replace it, period!

I really like the Hex bit kit that fits nicely inside the Nylon belt sheath. It slips right in, and all the hex bits are contained in a rubber sleeve so they won’t get lost. Now, of course, you aren’t going to replace a socket set with the hex bit kit; however, you can do many jobs with these small bits.

Remember all those survival knives from the 1980s that had saws on the blades? Did you ever really try sawing something with those survival knives that had the saw on the top of the blade? Most were useless. The saw on the Power Play is a real saw; you can saw some pretty large tree branches with it. If you want to win a competition with someone who brags about their hollow handle survival knife with a saw on the blade, see how fast they can saw through a 2X4 compared to how fast you can saw through it with the small saw blade on your Power Play. It’s no contest; you’ll win!

On more than one occasion, our can opener in the kitchen bit the dust when we needed it the most, and a multi-tool with the can opener tool saved the day. Ever have a screw come loose on your eye glasses? Yep, the Power Play can save the day and tighten that screw. There’s no need to go into all the uses of various screw driver bits on the Power Play; they all worked great. I like the fully serrated blade for cutting wet rope or polymer rope. Wet rope is tough to cut with a plain blade, and polymer rope is tough to cut all the time, but with a serrated blade it is no chore at all.

The pliers on the Power Play, at first glance, cause you to think they’re just a pair of simple needle nose pliers, but they’re far from it. There is also a wire crimper, which sure comes in handy when splicing wires together, and the wire cutter beats using the knife blade.

Now, while SOG advertises that the Power Play has 18 different tools, that’s not quite accurate, if you ask me. The Hex bit kit contains a dozen different hex bits, so by my count, that comes out to 30 different tools, if you include all the hex bits.

The Power Play is made in China, if that matters to you; it doesn’t to me. SOG won’t sell any junk, and they had it made in China for cost savings to the company and the end user. All the tools are made out of stainless steel for a lifetime of use and abuse. With all the features of the Power Play, SOG has managed to keep the retail price down at $89, and you can find it for less money if you shop around, too.

So, to answer one of the questions about what I have in a BOB, I carry a multi-tool on my belt each and every day, and I keep another one in my BOB. No one has yet to question my choice of a good multi-tool in my BOB. It should be in your BOB as well as one on your belt for everyday use. Check out the short video from SOG on the Power Play

As an aside, SOG also sent me their new “Traction” every day carry folder, and if you are in the market for an inexpensive folder that you can use and abuse, check out this neat little folder. It retails for a mere $26, and it is made by SOG! How can you go wrong?

– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio

Recipe of the Week: For Tomato Aholics, by S.T.

Yes, I admit my family are Tomato Aholics. We love tomato sauce and whole canned tomatoes. Our most favorite meals are made with tomato sauce.

This should take four hours of time and produce a minimum of eight different meals. Depending on the amount of sauce you make, it will produce from 8 to 16 meals in just approximately four hours of time.

When we had children at home, every Saturday while the kids were at soccer, I would cook for the week and make meals that could be frozen and then placed in the oven for dinner each night. Any leftovers would be used for after school snacks. After a few weeks of this type of cooking and freezing of meals, we were in a great rotation. Another week I would make soups and stews. Then another week I would make tuna noodle casserole and homemade baked macaroni and cheese. The Thanksgiving turkey would be turned into soup, hot turkey sandwiches, and turkey salad. The Christmas ham would be turned into ham sandwiches and split pea soup.

  1. Start with a very large pot or a turkey roaster. The size will depend on your family size. A turkey roaster is easier to work with in removing the sauce.
  2. Fill your big pot with your homemade pasta sauce, seasoned to taste and filled with bell peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs. Do not add any meat or any mushrooms to the pot.
  3. Let’s start on the meals.
  4. Move enough for 1 1/2 to 2 meals for your family to a separate pot; add the necessary well-rinsed and drained dark red kidney beans and ground beef, which is seasoned with chili powder and then separate into two different freezer containers.
  5. The first container will make a bowl chili for your family. Place this in the freezer. The second container will make a baked potato chili bar for your family. Place these in the freezer. We love baked potato chili bar made with baked potatoes, chili, fresh chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, and cheese.
  6. Using lasagna noodles build a pan of lasagna using layers of the noodles, then pasta sauce and cheese; with the amount of cheese, no meat is needed. Cover with foil and place in the freezer.
  7. Cook a cube steak or a minute steak for each family member and place in a roasting pan; then add two large onions cut into quarters and one small can of drained mushrooms; cover with your pasta sauce. Cover with foil and place in the freezer.
  8. Cook three Italian sausages for each family member and then open a hoggie roll and line with provolone cheese; add one of the sausages and add a little sauce and you now have Italian sausage subs for your dinner.
  9. Cook three meat balls for each family member, then open a hoggie roll and line with provolone cheese, add the meat balls, and add a little sauce, and you now have Italian meatball subs for dinner tomorrow.
  10. Take the extra two Italian sausages for each family member and place in a roasting pan; in a frying pan with olive oil saute quartered onions and strips of red and green bell peppers until soft; pour over the sausages, and then cover with the pasta sauce. Cover with foil and place in the freezer.
  11. Add cooked ground beef to the balance of the pasta sauce, to be used for spaghetti sauce. Depending upon how much sauce is left, you may also have enough to also make another pan of lasagna or Swiss Steak before you add any cooked ground beef or even enough sauce to make five more meals to fill your freezer.

Some additional meals that can be made with this pasta sauce is Chicken Cacciatore, Pizza, Cheese Ravioli, and Manicotti. You have many meals that this one pot of pasta sauce created:

  • Chili
  • Baked potato chili bar
  • Lasagna
  • Swiss Steak
  • Italian Sausage subs
  • Meatball subs
  • Sausage and Peppers
  • Spaghetti

Final Thoughts:

Pasta, like dried beans, requires more water and a longer cooking time the older the pasta. So we no longer store spaghetti noodles but instead store angel hair noodles.

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Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

Letter Re: Propane As An Energy Source

A very interesting and informative article, but I’d like to add a couple things. Some 500 gallon propane tanks are fitted with what’s known as a “wet leg”. It is another valve situated on the top of the tank, in addition to the main valve. It’s plumbed to a pipe running to the bottom of the tank, with its purpose being refilling smaller tanks, like 20 lb portables. It requires a specially fitted hose, the shorter and larger diameter the better; 10 feet works well in 3/4” diameter. I mention a short length as disconnecting the hose from the bottle causes you to lose whatever propane was in the hose, and larger diameter to reduce the time required for filling. I purchased three used tanks from a propane supplier, with the specific requisite that at least one have a “wet leg”. It cost the same as the other used tanks. The hose, including already attached fittings cost $38. They are available; you just have to find them. Also, the “tare weight” of the bottle itself will be stamped on the valve guard/handle. Using a bathroom scale on a board, adding the tare weight to the desired amount of propane weight, 17 lbs, will give you an accurate stop point. – O. T.

Economics and Investing:

The Little Rascals Of Government Want Your 401K Account – B.B.

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U.S. Shale To Kill Off Oil Price Rally. Oil prices have been showing signs of weakness last week, affected by bearish production and inventory data from the U.S.

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Gold’s Blistering Gain This Week Rewarded Contrarian Traders…But Can The Rally Continue?

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Why Fractional-Reserve Banking Would Be Limited in an Unhampered Market

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SurvivalBlog and its editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for details.