Letter Re: Observations on Life in Afghanistan

Mr Rawles.
I read “Patriots” nearly a year ago and was impressed with the well written plot, realistic scenario and detail oriented implicit planning and tips. I learned a while thereafter of your SurvivalBlog and have been nibbling at it in chunks, trying yet to digest it. I imagine you notice a bit of a self selecting bias in people who read and enjoy your writing, even more in those who choose to e-mail you, so I won’t write the usual bits about how alike we think. I will write that I appreciate what you’re doing with the SurvivalBlog site and the books you write.

Since your e-mail page said you particularly like hearing from those overseas I decided I’d write you a note. Right now I’m writing to you from a little morale tent in the desert in Afghanistan. You’ve likely heard of Marjeh in Helmand province, I’m seven kilometers from the edge of it. I’ve been here six months now and was here when we were the most forward unit, before 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 6th Marine Regiment swooped in to clear Marjeh. I’m a Marine, and actually according to the “about the author” in your book, we share a common specialty.

Being in the middle of a real live failed state, complete with an active counter-insurgency (COIN) fight including local national troops, Coalition troops, insurgents, and drug runners) and abject poverty has been very educational. These people live in literal mud huts. The wealthy among them drive 10 year old sedans or hatchbacks over roads most wouldn’t dare drive their fancy SUVs. Some own a motorcycle or two or, wealth of wealths, own a tractor. They eke out a[ marginal subsistence] living, with high infant and child mortality rates, or for that matter high mortality rates in general.

I suppose the biggest lessons here have been about how militaries operate in occupations and COIN, how insurgents can operate, and how the people survive. Mostly they do it by numbers, but occasionally an individual stands out who is wily and skilled.

Anyway, I’d like to write an article to compete for your prizes, but haven’t yet gotten through all your backlog [archive]s. I assume people have written on the basic principles of “shoot, move & communicate” but has anyone written on the five paragraph order?

Thanks, – R.P.

JWR Replies: Thanks for your letter. We have not yet posted a detailed article on the Five Paragraph Operations Order. That would be greatly appreciated, and instructive to the many SurvivalBlog readers that lack Army or Marine Corps experience.