I’m talking about cipher security. In review, I am a Retired Marine Infantry Staff Non-Commissioned Officer who has served multiple combat tours in Iraq, as well as most of the “skirmishes” the U.S. got involved in leading up to the global war on terror. I have taught “Survival in the Mountains” and have trained combat staff members in command post operations. I have taught Navy SEALS, Army Special Forces, Army Rangers, and Air Force Para-rescue operators, as well as many numerous foreign military personnel. During my career I was “voluntold” to write ground-up Intelligence reporting to higher headquarters. These tasks taught me many ways to deliver “secure” messages via plain text or open source communications formats and more.
I live in the East Sierra mountains where the population is sparse, yet in Orange and San Diego counties of California, I have family and friends who comprise my “network”. In part 1, I shared about the value of brevity in communications as well as the my network’s use of cipher sheets for secure communications. As part of the information already detailed about how my network and I use cipher sheets, I disclosed our rollover cycle system under both normal circumstances as well as emergencies. Names have been addressed as well.
My Network Getting Out of Densely Packed Region
My network would have a very difficult time getting out of that densely packed region, should there ever be civil unrest, a collapse of the economy, or, as all Californians fear, the “big one” shakes us beyond immediate repair. Given the population density and the nebulous highway system of Southern California, I am almost sure of the fact that my network would face many challenges getting out of the Southern California region. My mountain home is the place that they will all come to if necessary.
Highway Collapse and Closed Borders
Our network members and anyone reading this knows that if the “big one” hits the state, California’s highways will collapse and make most of the routes impassable. It could be argued that the states bordering California may also have severe damage to their own roadways. Those other states will likely attempt to close the highways at the state line, at least until the Federal Government mandates them to open the borders, or they become over run by the millions of Californians trying to escape. If this is so, we are talking about I-5, US Hwy 395, I-80, I-50, California 88/89, California Hwy 4, California Hwy 108, California Hwy 120, California Hwy 6, I-40, I-10, and I-8 all getting blocked.
This is an unprecedented amount of space to cover for the bordering states law enforcement or even their National Guard troops. If network members routed to other states before arriving at my mountain home, then we will expect them later, according to our “Time-Distance Formula”.
Bug Out Plans With Multiple Courses of Action
Any bug out plan needs to have multiple courses of action, or (COAs). My network has pooled resources and rented numerous storage units, in order to create cache sites to “sustain” the members. These supplies include fuel, sustenance, ammunition, and batteries and additional handheld Ham radios. One member went so far as to buy a piece of open desert land, so that the family could bury the items they think they may need.
Regardless of COA selection, network members will broadcast to home base, (my home) what the prevailing conditions are at their current locations, and how those conditions will affect their individual plans and arrival times. Monitoring these communications, other members may avoid local hazards, based on this information.
Color Coded Phonetic System Words in Cipher
In the cipher that is displayed below, I have color coded certain words. This is because we may need to actually spell things out via the military method. The letter A is Alpha. B is Bravo. This is called the “phonetic” system. To keep it easy, instead of typing the word “Alpha”, they type “W8”.
Typing Out Messages
One of the adult children of our network members used a cell phone and typed out their message. For people over a certain age, this is extremely time-consuming! During practice I realized that my personal typing skills are poor at best. To remedy my slow typing, I asked my adult daughter to do the typing during a practice session. The lesson learned was that young people are like lightning when it comes to text based messages, probably because most people under twenty five years old are glued to their personal cellular device and have been for years.
I would like to call the reader’s attention to cell “H-0”. In this cell, we have the four words: Bunker (one), Cache (two), Stash (three), and Safe (four). Did you notice how I listed this? I listed the words clockwise. In my network, we do it this way every time for a reason, because the items in that cell are arguably similar in nature. This way, we can refer to our needs in our messaging in a codified manner.
If a network member was specifically referring to a “safe”, then the spoken message would be broadcast: “Hotel-zero-four” or “H04”. (We use brevity, remember?)
In the cells that contain three items, we number them top to bottom. In cell “W2”, we see the words: Primary (one), Alternate (two), and Supplementary (three). If a member makes a “mistake”, we treat it as if that person is under duress and is alerting the network that they have been compromised, so we “roll over”.
When I built-in redundancies, I was concerned that the member alerting the network of compromise would be killed, harmed, or seized by malevolent actors who had them in custody and insisted that the member “give up” the network. Members of the network are given ciphers about two weeks before standard rollover on the 7th of the month, in order for them to become familiar with the new ciphers cells. We do not require memorization, but we do require familiarity.
A Good Drill
Here is a good drill for the reader, codify the word OPSEC: O “G6”- P”F8”- S”V5”- E”S0” – C “U4”. Here is a hidden nugget; what “honorary” member to the network do I mention in “E51”? The founder of this Blog, that is who!
I am sure that readers are nodding their heads and thinking that this makes sense. Our networks SOPs and TTPs are based on the KISS principal– “Keep-It-Simple-Stupid”. Keep in mind I was a grunt, so we like to keep things elegant by keeping them clean and easy. Being a career infantryman, I tried to “grunt-proof” all my methods, as there are many ways to make mistakes on a cipher sheet. I am also training network members who never served in the military (most of them). They don’t know what they don’t know! In many ways, they are far easier to train, as they are empty vessels who are actually willing to learn our network’s established TTPs to enable themselves and their family members to “Surthrive”.
Any reader can add or subtract to the methods of securing messages via day to day means of communication. All it takes is the desire to design a communications plan that address and fulfills your network’s needs.
The East Sierra Sage sends: Semper Fidelis. That is all. Carry on!
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.