The Ghillie Suit–The Ultimate in Camouflage

Back in the 18th century, game wardens in Scotland were engaged in an occasionally deadly game of cat and mouse with poachers. These wardens–called “ghillies” in the local parlance of the day were experts in field craft. To catch a poacher was difficult, so the ghillies would cut tree or bush limbs and cover themselves with them as camouflage while in laying in wait. This was laborious, but worked well. Then a warden whose name is lost in history came up with a clever idea: A camouflage body suit that was made of shredded rags in dull earth-tone and foliage-toned colors. From a short distance, the man wearing it resembled a bush, and could not be easily recognized. Thus was born the Ghillie Suit. The first use of ghillie suits by military organizations recorded by historians was during WWI, when Scottish ghillies served with Lord Lovat’s Scouts, brought their camouflage suits with them for the fighting in the fields of France. The ghillies in the Lovat Scouts shared their expertise in stalking, long range shooting, and camouflage, which spread to other British Commonwealth armies.

The modern ghillie suit, re-popularized in the late 20th century in the British and U.S. armies is now standard wear for sniper teams in most western armies. These modern ghillie suits use the same concept, providing four key attributes: they look like like plant foliage, they occupy three dimensions (unlike camouflage printed cloth), they break up a soldier’s distinctive silhouette, and they muffle noise. There are two common designs:

A full ghillie suit, which is usually made by sewing ghillie garnish (typically strips/bundles of dyed burlap, jute, and/or hemp) to a set of green mechanic’s overalls or to a BDU shirt and trousers

A ghillie cape, which is draped over the head and shoulders like a poncho.

(BTW, I prefer the latter, especially in hot climates.) Both designs are nearly always used in conjunction with a camouflage face veil and a boonie-type hat with similar ghillie garnish.

Ghillie suits and capes are commercially made, but these tend to be very expensive (since they are labor-intensive to assemble) and the choice of colors used will not always match your local terrain. Avoid the cheap commercial ghillie suits that are made out of plastic. They are indeed three dimensional but they do not blend in well in the boonies compared to natural materials like burlap and jute. Some commercial sources include:

And for our Australian readers, see:

Do It Yourself (DIY) ghillie suit/cape construction resources on the web include:

U.S. Army FM 23-10:

There are also fairly detailed ghillie suit making instructions in one for my favorite books, The Ultimate Sniper. See:

If you want to save money and assemble all of the materials yourself, rather than buy a commercially-made assembly kit:

Heavy duty black or brown nylon netting–such as deep sea fishing net material– (the 1.5-inch square mesh works best) is often found for sale on eBay.

The folks at sell fairly inexpensive military surplus rolls of 1.5″ wide burlap that is already dyed green and brown. Stripping out most of the horizontal crossbars (the Memsahib–who is a weaver–tells me this is properly called “weft”) is time consuming, but it is necessary to make burlap frizz up into a proper three dimensional look.

Two more points, in closing: Don’t overlook the need to integrate a hydration pack (such as a CamelBack or clone thereof) with a drinking tube when you build your ghillie suit. (This is not a big issue with a cape, but it is with a full ghillie suit.) It is also very important that you thoroughly soak your completed ghillie suit in flame retardant before using it. Without it, all of that frayed burlap is a fire accident that is just waiting to happen! In my experience the FlameCheck brand retardant (made in England) works well, because it does not leave a white residue like some other brands.


Article on Revised U.S. Nuclear Strike Doctrine

The Pentagon has drafted a considerably new strategy on nuclear strike options. See: This is some serious FFTAGFFR! From the standpoint of national security, it is probably a sound strategy, but in some instances (such as the emerging threat from North Korea), IMO it will raise the risk of a full scale nuclear exchange. Plan accordingly! (If you live in the blast radius or downwind from a potential nuclear target, then it is wise to move.)


Letter Re: Request for Clarification Regarding Diesel Engine Invulnerability to EMP

Jim, I’m no expert but I have some limited knowledge regarding the topic of diesel engines and EMP. What you want is a diesel engine with a mechanical fuel injector pump, not an electronic one. Diesel engines don’t require ignition systems to run, no spark plugs, distributor, etc. and the old ones used a mechanical fuel pump. All you need is a starter to turn the engine over, it runs or fires by the heat generated by the compression stroke. [JWR adds: A glow plug is also needed for the fuel to reach flash point at low ambient temperatures. Some of the newer diesels use an electronic glow plug control, which could possibly be bypassed if they are someday fried by EMP.] No ignition system, therefore impervious to EMP. Since the mid to late 80’s manufacturer’s have switched to electronic fuel pumps so even though you don’t have spark plugs, etc., the engine has “electronics” for fuel regulation. Now you have EMP problems. Hope this helps. – T.N.


Letter Re: Blood Transfusion Equipment Available

I read the letter you posted from “Mr. Lima” about what his friend “W” had told him. Other than knowing your blood type ahead of time, the rest of the letter is wrong. I’m not sure if “Lima” misunderstood “W.” or if “W.” only works in a lab on samples and machines and has never had any patient contact or he just mistook one substance for another after so many years in the lab. FWIW, the laboratories and blood banks in today’s hospitals are two separate and different departments. Short and sweet: EDTA anticoagulated blood can (and mostly likely always will) kill a person. EDTA has never been used (at least not since the days of trying to infuse humans with cows blood) to anticoagulate donor blood and has never been available in “blood donor bags from the blood bank”. EDTA bonds with calcium (irreversibly) and prevents clotting in blood sample tubes (vacutainers) and has seen some use in certain lab machinery. EDTA is a chemical compound and has other issues that could cause massive problems to a person aside from coagulopathy, it would alter a persons blood chemistry and I can only make educated guesses as to the outcomes since no data is available on EDTA entering a person’s vascular system. EDTA bonds with calcium because it is a metal ion, which means any metal ions in the blood (and finally the body) could be bonded. All those ‘guesses’ would result in major systemic problems that would invariably lead to death, 99%+ could be assured in a SHTF situation and not much better even with access to modern medicine. Coumadin (a.k.a. Warfarin) is not an anticoagulant in the sense of preventing clotting when drawing blood. Warfarin drugs work by inhibiting certain functions of the body from producing different factors that make up the clotting cascade. This is why they are commonly referred to as ‘blood thinners’. Obviously giving Coumadin to prevent immediate clotting won’t work, because it doesn’t deactivate the clotting cascade, it just prevents certain factors from being replaced once they expire normally in the body. It is unlike Heparin in that Heparin works immediately to interrupt the cascade rather than removing a factor or two. Getting blood bags with Citrate (CPDA-1 or ACD-A) from the blood bank is what a person would want and is also my personal choice. I keep some Heparin as well as a backup, but I wouldn’t use it until I exhaust my supply of CPDA-1 bags. So, never give Coumadin in the field. If there is some sort of need to ‘thin’ a patient’s blood (high blood pressure perhaps) then go on an aspirin regimen. Another bonus of Citrate as an anticoagulant is that once the blood is back into a person’s body the calcium in there body replaces the bound calcium and you almost instantly viable platelets again! Thus you kill two birds with one stone. Fresh RBCs and more coagulation factors and platelets to stop the bleeding. It’s really a beautiful thing. If you have any atheist friends, tell them to learn about blood. Just blood. Once they know it, I would be surprised if they can still deny that Divine intervention led to our existence. The complexity of how everything works just to form a clot a clot, let alone fix the clot is astounding. That is another topic however. In the future I would suggest getting some independent people to review some of the letters you put on the blog before you post them. I don’t know where anyone would find EDTA easily other that breaking open those vacutainers and just the thought of that sends chills down my spine. EDTA is used in cases of lead poisoning, but it’s is a sterilized and specific format. The patient’s blood gases and values must be constantly monitored to ensure no harm comes to the patient. This is not the same thing as the EDTA powder in laboratory vacutainers! I would be more than happy to review the hematology aspects of those posts, however I like most medical professionals are like insects. We specialize and I have already forgotten a lot of that too 🙁 I’m working on that as part of my preparations as well. I love the blog and keep it up!
P.S.: If you have free time (wishful thinking) drop by, we have a good group of Christian Patriots on the board.

JWR Replies: Thanks for setting us straight, Buckaroo! I will remove that erroneous post so that nobody mistakenly refers to it in the future.


Letter Re: Koyaanisqatsi–and Getting Back In Balance

I debated for four or five weeks about whether or not to write an email to you, as I know that you must receive too many already, and others probably offer information and mine only offers praise and thanks. I finally decided, that everyone could use encouragement and praise, so here goes…
I read your novel [Patriots] for the first time many years ago, several times since, and have worked it into my 5-6 book current reading stack. It was my first exposure to another way of viewing the world, and it alone, was responsible for opening my eyes and mind to a looming menace in our present “Koyaanisqatsi”. [“koy-yan-iss-katsi”–meaning “life out of balance” in the Hopi language.] I grew up on a farm in Kansas and have been living my adult yuppie life in Kalifornia for twenty plus years now. I have returned mentally, to my agrarian roots and self sufficiency that my grandparents taught me when I was a child on the farm and am PREPARING. I am currently making plans to leave our suburban existence and move my family to a rural farm setting. My wife and I are both readying for the transition. I found your blog soon after you started it by re-visiting bookmarks in by browser folder, titled “TEOTWAWKI”, that I created when I read your book the first time and what a great resource!
I hope to have information in the future to share with you and the readers of your blog as another silent member of your blogosphere whose life you have touched by your creativity, willingness, and drive to share what you imagine and see. In short, Thanks, God Bless, and keep up the good work. – C.J., Southern California


State By State – Nebraska

Population: 1.7 million.
Population Density: 21.9 per square mile (Rank 12 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 77,355 square miles (rank 15 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $649/yr. (rank 42 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $499/yr. (rank 18 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 12 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 64%.
Per capita income: $27,630 (rank 26 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 5 of 50.
Plusses: Low crime rate.
Minuses: Tornado prone (ranked #4 out of top 20 States). Few local firewood sources.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 11 of 19.


VHF Marine Band and Out of Band (“Freeband”) CB Radio Modifications

Proviso: The following is for informational purposes only. Do not modify radios as described unless it is a dire emergency. (FCC regulations do not permit out of band transmissions except under emergency situations.)

One aspect of preparedness that is often overlooked is secure radio communications. As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous blog posts, buying a pair of VHF Marine Band radios makes sense if you live in an area that is both inland from the coast and away from the Great Lakes. You will essentially have a band all to yourself. Another approach to increasing communications security is modifying CB radios to transmit just above or just below the designated Citizen’s Band.(The so-called “Freeband”.) Although your transmissions will still be vulnerable to interception with any scanner, they will not be noticed by anyone that has a standard (unmodified) CB radio. Freeband modification was very popular in the U.S. back in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Citizen’s Band was very crowded. It also had some popularity in Australia.

The earliest CB radios used crystals. In those days you could order specially cut “bastard” crystals to give your the ability to transmit out of band. But very few of those radios are still on the market. Then along came the early synthesized CBs. These could be modified for freeband by clipping wires or soldering-in a few jumpers. (Some modifications were very clever. In one instance a panel light switch became a freeband toggle so that the freeband modification was un-noticeable to the casual observer.) The latest production CBs are also synthesized, but have virtually all of their frequency-setting electronics burned onto a chip. So those are not easily modified for freeband.

Many of the early synthesized CBs from the 1970s/1980s “golden age” of CB radio are suitable for out of band modification. One of the most popular of these is the Cobra 148GTL. (BTW, lots of other Courier, Galaxy, GE, Midland, Realistic (Radio Shack), Uniden, and President brand CBs from the same era can be similarly modified.) There is a lot of information on the WWW if you look around. Books like the CB Hacker’s Guide also describe these mods in detail. You will occasionally find a CB that has already been modified up for sale on eBay. But to be sure that a freeband mod is done right, your best bet is to find a standard Cobra 148GTL (or similar) with “low hours” and do the modification yourself.

In closing, I need this admonition: Do not be tempted to install a linear amplifier for illegal transmission in excess of five watts. That would be like waving a red flag to the FCC. Remember: “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.”


Two Survival Stories from Hurricane Katrina

Here are links to two interesting articles that were recently posted by Debra over at Claire Wolfe’s Blog: One is titled: “Five Nights Alone in the Dark with a Shotgun”. The other article is about a Super Neighborhood Watch in New Orleans. (What I like to call a “Neighborhood Watch on Steroids.”)


Letter from “Doug Carlton” Re: Budget Survival Firearms

Hi Jim,
On Survival battery on a budget: It doesn’t really matter what you have as long as it is of good quality and you know how to use it. For instance, an M1 Garand is certainly a viable rifle, especially in areas where others may not be legal, but it may not be the best rifle for me. For others it might be the best choice over anything else. The key reason is training. My father (drafted for the Korean War in the 50’s) would be much better off with an M1 Garand than a FAL. Why? Because he knows it inside and out. The same goes for many folks that have military experience. If I were to choose a 5.56mm, it would be an AR-15 platform, not because it’s the best rifle ever made, but because after ten years in the Army it’s an extension of myself. Training and experience is the key. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you’re better off buying a cheaper gun and spending money on training, than buying an expensive gun and shooting it from the bench once or twice a year. Gizmos, gadgets, and dollars do not make up for skill. Only skill matters. Get professional training from one of the many instructors that teach carbine or rifle classes. Which brings me to J.B.’s question on night vision, etc. Training is again the key. It doesn’t matter if you have NVG’s if you can’t use them effectively. It takes training, and a lot of it to really use the potential of night vision systems. Don’t fall into the expensive trap of buying a night scope and thinking you “own the night.” The scope is just a tool. You have to know how to use the tool effectively. Now night is just another environment. Since it can be half the day or longer farther north, it’s pretty important to know how to operate at night. Again, training is the key. The only way to get good at night is to train at it. You won’t make up for lack of training, by buying gadgets. Training at night will put you ahead of those that don’t when you’re in that environment. Too many people get hooked on the gear and ignore training. Your brain is your primary survival tool. – “Doug Carlton”


Letter Re: Firearms Laws as Criteria for Retreat Location Selection

Mr. Rawles,
I see that when evaluating retreat locations you consider the state’s gun laws. It appears that the more favorable the gun laws, the better the state as a potential retreat. Your site seems concerned primarily with the “SHTF” or “TEOTWAWKI” scenarios. Should either of these come to pass, I don’t see where gun laws would matter one way or the other. Who’s going to enforce them? Regards, – J.G.

JWR Replies:
I strongly disagree. You still have to live and to train/practice with firearms somewhere in the interim. Why subject yourself to living under bad laws? And what if things deteriorate in a “slow slide” scenario a la the U.S. in the 1930s, or Zimbabwe in the present day? Think about it: In both cases–still a viable government to contend with. So gun laws do matter. If you live in a state that isn’t gun friendly, then I strongly recommend that you vote with your feet! Refer to my previous posts and Boston’s Gun Bible for details on the various state gun laws.