The mis-directed fetish of marksmanship.

I am a great fan of armed and trained civilians. But I’d like to point out that the “hundreds of thousands of deer hunters” are no military snipers and do not overmatch regular infantry. A very well trained rifleman with a sub-MOA rifle can indeed score a first shot hit on a 500 yard foe. What happens then?

The hit may be stopped by the armor. If effective, the hit may be fatal or not: due to better emergency medicine in the army, they will save most of their non-immediate casualties. Irregulars have historically lost over half of their wounded.

The direction of the sniper would be indicated by the backsplatter from the wound. In case of a miss, the projectile trace in earth or trees would just about pinpoint the location of the shooter. At which point, the infantry would use smoke to obscure themselves from the shooter, make his egress perilous with suppressive fire and get close enough to exact retribution. The civilian shooter would have no land mines to disrupt their progress.

A really good shooter can make 500 yards hits on bullseye targets. Can he do as well on camouflaged foes who move, use cover and can put literally a hundred times his rate of fire with their squad MG or SAW? An individual rifleman might be limited to 300 yards, but a SAW with a scope fired from a bipod can reach out more than twice as far.

Assuming that the sniper can manage to retain his stand-off distance, what can he do about air or artillery response. Insurgents world-wide have to brave close combat to get away from the firepower available to the regulars with one radio call. Against well-designed sniper hides that cannot be reached by artillery or airpower, short-range rockets would be used. The hide would have to escape detection in visible, near and far infrared ranges to remain secure.

Multiple snipers might do better, but the regulars can just continue using smoke to remain safe from long shots while encircling the whole area and plastering it with mortars or just mining the perimeter and leaving it at that.

I am a great fan of rifle marksmanship. But we shouldn’t overestimate its value in warfare. Unsupported by regular troops, most snipers die quickly. Most hunters may be marksmen, but they aren’t even snipers — that skill set goes far beyond the basics of fieldcraft and marksmanship required to bring down deer.

For that reason, the reliance on armed response indicates a loss for the side forced to fight as insurgents. The kind of expedients required for a successful guerrilla campaign tend to warp all participants out of recognition as the “forces of good”. So our best bet is political proselytizing and raising the next generation to love freedom, and to respect the freedoms of others. The opium pipe dreams of the “restoration of the Republic” through another revolution are best left for those who don’t much value a connection to reality.

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121 Responses to The mis-directed fetish of marksmanship.

  1. Bill says:

    A successful insurgency does not depend on victories on the battlefield, it depends on a systematic approach in creating an unbearable environment for the occupiers through attrition. The idea that insurgencies cannot defeat the modern military’s of the world is a misstatement that any Russian soldier of the 80’s can attest to. In it’s most basic form, nothing has changed in the mindset of warfare since the dawn of time. The equipment used to create that destruction has evolved, but taking a life is not rocket science. With all the advances that our military has, we have yet to have conquered the taliban, or defeat the forces who oppose us elsewhere in the middle east. You are correct in your assumption that “deer hunters” will not defeat the trained killer, however those deer hunters will evolve as the conflict continues for decades. This country was founded by those very types of individuals who fought against the most advanced military of their time. Do I promote this type of action? Absolutely not, however, the facts stand for themselves. The Germans invading Russia during WWII found out that deer hunters such as Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev can indeed be a formidable foe.

    • Y. says:

      Afghans had Pakistan as a safe staging area, supplies of Stinger missiles…and so on.

      Doubt Canada will be so accomodating.

  2. Endif says:

    Well put! What’s sad, though, is that anyone thinks this is even remotely relevant in a first world country, much less ours. Mostly due to a constant stream of eliminationist rhetoric and fear-porn.

    • Flint says:

      Wait, which first world country is that? Certainly not the country which has imprisoned a larger percentage of its population than even the most tyrannical dictatorships in history.

  3. Mike says:

    When the kooks start coming out talking of armed rebellion, I wish they had read this first!

  4. Tod says:

    You are generally correct in your observation but there are exceptions. If you have the opportunity, read the book “Jack Hinson’s One Man War” by Tom McKenney which is a remarkable story about an ignored part of the US civil war.

  5. docjim505 says:

    [O]ur best bet is political proselytizing and raising the next generation to love freedom, and to respect the freedoms of others. The opium pipe dreams of the “restoration of the Republic” through another revolution are best left for those who don’t much value a connection to reality.

    Hear him! Hear him!

    I add that I (and, I believe, all decent Americans) find the idea of shooting at our soliders and policemen to be horrifying. The American GI isn’t a Hessian or a redcoat, sent by an effectively foreign government to oppress: he is most assuredly one of us. American policemen are not the Gestapo or Red Guards set to terrorize us into submission to a despot, but rather public servants who protect and serve the public.*

    God grant that this NEVER changes, and that we keep our liberties because we value them for ourselves and for everybody else such that we never, ever have to fight each other over them again.


    (*) Yes, there are bad apples in every bunch, and I really don’t like the paramilitary tactics many police departments are using in the War on Drugs, but I respect and admire policemen for the job they do as it’s tough and the vast majority of them do it with honor and courage.

    • Flint says:

      Yeah, 99% of cops make the rest look bad…

    • swamp fox says:

      “I add that I (and, I believe, all decent Americans) find the idea of shooting at our soliders and policemen to be horrifying. ”

      The real question is, will our soldiers and policemen find it horrifying to shoot at civilians? I think not as evidenced by their willingness to follow (un)lawful orders and disarm citizens in New Orleans following katrina. I think not when a government is in the process of using drones against private citizens.

    • “The American GI isn’t a … redcoat”

      Actually, he is… in 1775, we were all British. When the British colonials took up arms in defense of Liberty, they were firing on their own nations troops.

  6. It’s a good article, and a good point. But bad sniping outcomes = do it the political way…. Idk. Do you really feel like we can combat the hydra that is the education system for our kids attention? Or the fact that patriots are notorious for turning their backs on one another when they are detained for one reason or another (including simple internet dissent) ? The politicians elected by the tea party produced very little fruit. This machine may be just a little too big to take down by changing the oil. You’ll never hear me say “Take up arms, we can win” because in all likelihood we can’t. But even without a patriot mindset this countries path may soon become unpalatable to many. And adding 25k liberty minded homeschooling kids a year is like putting out a burning building with an eye dropper. Who knows though, there’s always hope. And that’s an idea I’ll support. Take care.

  7. Tony Lekas says:

    There is some value to having as large a portion of the populace as possible that cares enough about liberty that they are prepared, whatever the odds, to take up arms to stop tyranny.

    -If they understand what it would mean to come to the point that they should be motivated to do whatever is possible within the system to keep that day from coming.

    -They may act as an additional deterrent, along with uncertainty about the amount of support from the military and security forces, to a government crossing going “too” far. Similar to Mutually Assured Destruction during the cold war.

    The question is, under what circumstances would someone be morally justified and arguably have a duty to take up arms against the government? The considerations are similar to those in Just War Theory. I need to write up my thoughts on that.

    In the mean time, from Chief Justice Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit’s dissent in:

    A sample: “My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed—where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”

  8. Old NFO says:

    Well said Oleg, and VERY true.

  9. willbird says:

    I have shot with US marines in the Camp Perry national matches, a Marine is a rifleman first of all things (IMHO). And they hit the 6″ spotter disk that marked the previous shot at 600 yards a LOT of the time. Carlos Hathcock showed what one man with a rifle, and a spotter with another rifle CAN do and DID do. Just a little bit of that here and there, even if Bubba the prairie dog hunter dies each time after a couple head shots will make whoever the target is feel pretty funny outside in the open. Also Carlos had to rely on his own built in range finder a lot more than people do today,,,if we could go back in time and tell him the distance to the target within a few feet, and let him make every shot over again…..hmmmm :-).

  10. There is one premise that this argument is hinged upon that does not hold water.

    That OUR military and police would stand behind and enforce tyranny so heinous to provoke armed revolt and against it’s own people use massive battlefield style force and weaponry. While certain small elements might in extremis, the vast majority would sit any political conflict out or even take the side of the people if the motivation to move to violence be so strong that the average man on the street would support it. The members of the police and military are OUR sons and daughters, Mothers and fathers. To just assume that they would kill anyone without regard as long as they were ordered to takes the leftist position that our servicemen and Law Enforcement are blood thirsty killers and monsters. Anyone who has served a day in the military knows this to be a false premise. Period. Our service people are not a herd of driven conscripts. They are volunteers, and regardless of why they joined, are not going to engage in mindless atrocities just because some politician or Flag officer told them to. Same goes for the vast majority of Law Enforcement.

    As far as the defeatist take as We the People could not win against organized military forces, ether foreign or a political para-military ideologically driven and as strong and as well funded as our military, this belies the fact of numerous historical precedence and cultural norms. American’s do not resort to political violence lightly. But when they do, that effort is epic and bloody. To all of those people who believe that resistance is futile against other armed men, I suggest shooting sports are too dangerous for you. Try taking up knitting. And may your chains rest lightly upon you.

    Your a personal hero of mine Oleg. That is why this post has disturbed me enough to comment on it. I fear this is coming from your exposure to someone of less that high morals and intelligence. Perhaps there is a cultural nuance that needs to be explained better also. Americans are by tradition and history rebels to authority, and physically dangerous to tyrants. Anyway, do not take my comments on this subject to be anything less that a teachable moment to someone who has taught me much and has done so much to document the firearms Americans enjoy as a God given right.

    “Live free or Die. Death is not the worst of evils.”–John Stark.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      “I fear this is coming from your exposure to someone of less that high morals and intelligence.”

      It came from getting slightly more familiar with infantry and counter-insurgency tactics. Being a guerrilla was hard enough in WW2. It required ruthlessness towards the neutral population, a willingness to take appalling casualties and a dependence on outside supply of munitions and intelligence.

      • Flint says:

        There’s a heck of a lot of ammunition and small arms just laying around in the US, which was not the case in WWII. Last I heard, American civilians still held more small arms than all of the planet’s militaries, combined. And the Internet solves many intelligence issues.

        That said, while winnable, an insurgency in the continental US would definitely result in those “appalling casualties.” It’s not something I’d hope to ever see…

        • ruralcounsel says:

          If the debate goes “hot”, the internets either won’t be functioning or it won’t hold any real truthful information. Nor will cell phones or any other easily monitored and manipulated form of communication. Don’t make the mistake that just because domestic enemies are wrong that they are stupid.

      • Jim says:


        Did you consider the fact that a few thousand Afgani peasants with small arms and booby traps have stalemated the US military for more than a decade?


  11. jimbob86 says:

    Popular uprisings against regular forces never win in the short run. They win by not losing. To do that, thay must remain popular, and must continue.

    Sure, the lone sniper is going to lose against a well supplied well led, high morale regular unit….. but the constant threat of attack everywhere, anywhere degrades the regular units ….. it’s asymetrical warfare. It is not pretty, but it works. So long as the idea is there, the insurgents are not losing, and you can’t kill an idea- they have to kill the believers.

  12. mike says:

    I will reply my .02 worth, I was in the usmc and was a grunt in viet nam 1968, and to say that a few can’t whip many is absurd. When any standing army is being shot at any time any where they will lose their will to fight for a dictator. How many can a dictator depend on not to join and support the few who want freedom. Remember the liberator pistols, now replace them them with AR-15’s and AR-10’s and M-14’s with skilled operators. Your enemies will pale in comparison who ever they may be. I say if the kenyan wants to build a fema army of urban yoots to counter this then go for it.

  13. I agree that the fantasy of trained marksmen sticking it to regular troops is ludicrous. Proponents of such thinking often suggest that the British were brought to their knees by such marksmen, but in reality, it was regular troops in the Continental Army that won nearly all of the victories.

    I would also add that most hunters are not marksmen. Perhaps they used to be, when you needed to hunt to survive, but now if you come home empty handed, you just go buy some steaks from the supermarket.

    I’ve been to the range enough times during the prelude to deer season and seen hunters sight in their rifles. By and large, they cannot hit anything beyond about 50m. In fact, my somewhat modest accuracy of about 2 MOA with ball ammo has garnered me such praise as “are you a sniper?” from hunters sighting in their rifles.

    • Flint says:

      “I would also add that most hunters are not marksmen.”

      Neither are many members of the military. And an overwhelming majority of cops couldn’t hit a telephone booth if they were standing in it.

      • So? They have air support and a mile long logistical train supporting them, not to mention body armor that will shrug off the vast majority of small arms ammunition in civilian hands.

        So what is this unpopular, ragtag band of not-marksmen supposed to do against a well-disciplined, in-shape, well-armed military with heavy weapons and air support again?

        • LarryArnold says:

          17,000,000 hunters v. 500,000 frontline troops.

        • Flint says:

          Having a weapon is not the same as being armed.

          Those who don’t really know how to use them, are not really armed.

          And the key to dealing with an enemy who has support weapons, is to avoid being where you can be hit by such weapons.

  14. Pingback: Sniping « ricketyclick

  15. Harmony Hermit says:

    One fallacy here is that insurgents will always be facing well trained and equipped infantry units with air and indirect fire support. Folks the US military is not that large, and in a country the size of the US they would have almost no ability to control anything but small areas. Most of the military is made up of support/admin/medical and staff and they are not going to have the training/equipment/motivation to carry out a counter insurgency war against their own people.

    Look at the Waco debacle, it tied up most of the assets of the BATF and FBI for months. And that was one “Compound” of ill trained religious nuts in a flimsy building. If there were several situations going on in different parts of the country the FBI would be overwhelmed, even if local Law Enforcement signed on and cooperated. We had more personnel on the ground in Viet Nam than the Army has on active duty today! And our country is much larger that Viet Nam and the Government is dependent upon the civilian economy to keep their stuff flying and moving. If the trains stop rolling and the trucks stop delivering, the highly mechanized US military will grind to a halt quickly.

    Our military is successful because the US is better than anyone else at moving an army across the globe and keeping it supplied. No other country even comes close. If they start fighting their own people their supply lines will quickly grind to a halt. No fuel, no spare parts, no deliveries of Ammo/supplies/ food, no pay and worry about families and massive desertions will reduce their effectiveness.

    A well led insurgency will attack the tail of the dragon and avoid the head. Our military has a massive tail(supply chain) and a small head (Combat units).The Army is something like 80% tail to 20% head. Our government will have no allies capable of helping them. And what fool nation will want to send troops to the US when they will not be able to supply them and reinforce them, the cost of doing so would quickly become prohibitive. Look at the British in the Falklands, and theirs is an advanced Military.

    And when everything grinds to a stop and the military is effectively neutered, then the rifleman will be king. Taking out the people who put us in this situation.

    As Marshall Tito said, when an allied officer asked him how rifleman were going to face tanks and aircraft. “Sooner or later that tank crewman will have to get out to urinate, then we will shoot him”.

    • Look at the Waco debacle? They all died, buddy.

      Even in the poorly fought counter insurgency wars in the past few decades, dedicated resistance could not “bring the supply chains to a halt.”

      Do you seriously believe that the US has the best supply chain in the world, but no means to defend it? Yeah, right.

      Go get yourself killed, but don’t bring others with you.

      • Flint says:

        “Look at the Waco debacle? They all died, buddy.”

        That sort of misses the point. What if there were a dozen such incidents, at the same time? A hundred? A thousand?

        At a certain point, the cost-benefit analysis just doesn’t add up, any more.

        They only have a limited number of individuals willing to commit atrocities, right now. The overwhelming majority of government employees will turn a blind eye to atrocious things, as long as their paycheck is on-time, but a much smaller number will actually enact those atrocities. They’re massively outnumbered, and there’s a certain “critical mass” of resistance beyond which they have to start choosing their battles.

        • The whole idea of guerrilla insurgency seems to posit this bizarre, unspoken gentlemen’s agreement of warfare that low tech must be fought with low tech, and high tech is only useful against high tech.

          As everyone knows the only way to fight insurgents is to stand out in the middle of a field and let them shoot at you from 500 meters while not doing anything.

          The level of delusion needed to even think that a large scale resistance would do anything but get loads of insurgents killed is highly nontrivial.

          • Flint says:

            Speaking of delusion… I think that’s about the most delusional thing that’s been posted, here, since it has absolutely nothing to do with anything that’s actually been said – certainly not anything in the post to which it was a reply.

          • Jim says:

            “The level of delusion needed to even think that a large scale resistance would do anything but get loads of insurgents killed is highly nontrivial.”

            Then explain why, after a decade of trying, the US military cannot defeat a a few thousand Afgan peasants equipped only with small arms and booby traps?


        • tkdkerry says:

          “They only have a limited number of individuals willing to commit atrocities, right now”

          Maybe, but is the percentage of armed civilians willing to act as insurgents high enough to be effective? I think not. Soldiers have volunteered to place themselves in harm’s way, Joe Hunter hasn’t.

          • Flint says:

            It’s amazing how folks will change, once they start seeing their neighbors, friends, and family murdered by thugs.

            This is not something that would happen, now. This is what would happen if atrocities started becoming much more common.

          • JSW says:

            “…Soldiers have volunteered…”
            Not to fight, but to suck off the fed teat and get the bennies. True- there are those patriot type who really are ‘in’ for their country. But I’ll wager that the majority are the same as those who ‘volunteered’ when I was in- to evade combat.

  16. Brad Socha says:

    Oleg is correct in regard to the need to raise the awareness & love of liberty in the next generation . This will take a lot more than being able to hit a man sized target at 600+ yards it will require knowing what you believe in & being able to express those ideas in an intelligent manner Oleg excels at this thru his photo work . It will also take effort to point out the ugliness of the opposition .

    To be rather blunt well done propaganda will be a lot more useful than some guy swaggering around in cammies . It is the creation of this propaganda that will change minds , it will be the support of the government by the vast majority of the population that allows the government to do anything, when politicians & the media types that work for them no longer have the peoples good will & support they will find that they can’t get things done.

  17. Lyle says:

    “…it will require knowing what you believe in & being able to express those ideas in an intelligent manner…”

    Yup ^ That’s the main “weapon”.

    To those who mentioned the internet; no. That means of communication can be shut down easily, and it is fragile. One, solitary fiber optic cable was cut accidently by a highway crew outside my home town once. Most cellular, all land line telephone, most internet, and several radio stations were down for over a day. And you think you have redundancy? It’s a mirage.

    Also, don’t forget the state militia. They have aircraft and artillery too.

    Aircraft and some other assets are fragile and slow to replace. With the large number of people who have access to them and their support infrastructure, and the uncertainty of their allegiances in such a situation, the effectiveness of those assets might be reduced quickly. We surround them and the supply lines. All these things make it somewhat different than fighting an insurgency overseas, from the safety of our well-supplied home bases and with relative harmony among the populace.

    For the most part I agree with Oleg. Everyone needs to think about it, but those wild cards – state militia and possible desertion (and even espionage) from regular forces, should be included in the mix.

    Another huge wild card exists in our collective foreign enemies, who might pounce on the opportunity presented by our civil strife. I believe they are right now dreaming of such a thing.

    • Flint says:

      Actually, the Internet is quite self-repairing. Things were down for that long because no one bothered. There are plenty of whitepapers on how to improve the reliability of the Internet, and there are plenty of folks who are actually implementing such things. Oh, the repair links might not handle that funny video with the cat that does that thing, but they’re plenty for meaningful data.

  18. Lyle says:

    There will never again be another Civil War in America that doesn’t include foreign enemies of America. That it mostly happened once, now that I think about it, is amazing. You think the Chinese, the Russians, et al, and the Muslim Brotherhood would all sit it out? I don’t believe there is any chance they’d all sit it out. That right there is probably the number one reason why an armed insurgency in America would be catastrophic. I believe that there are a lot of our enemies (foreign and domestic – they’ll sort out their differences after we’re crushed)) who currently have plans for such a contingency. Think on that.

    • sofa says:

      But then why is the leviathan pushing so hard to create it?
      Answer: Because they are well paid to do so.

  19. LarryArnold says:

    First off, I completely agree that the ballot box is far superior to the bullet box. Staging an armed revolution in the U.S. will result in an incredibly bloody civil war, with a very high risk of ending up with an even more despotic government than the one defeated, regardless of which side “wins.”

    However, if it comes to active conflict you have to look at numbers.

    There are approximately 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the U.S. According to the recent GAO report there are 8,000,000 concealed handgun licensees. 10 CHLs per 1 LEO odds.
    There are perhaps half a million warfighters in the U.S. military, and 80 to 100 million gun owners. 160-200 gun owners per 1 combat trooper odds.
    There are 2,500,000 total active and reserve personnel in the U.S. military, plus the 800,000 LEOs, gives 3,700,000 total armed government personnel.
    That’s 2.2 CHLs per government agent, or 22-27 gun owners per government agent.
    A significant number of the folks on the government side are state and local LEOs and State National Guard troops, who may well have conflicting duties.

    You also have to look at area. U.S. forces are stretched thin trying to control Iraq and Afghanistan, which are a little larger than California. Trying to control fifty states will be much more difficult, particularly since they will have no sanctuary.

    It will, of course, depend on the participation rate for each side. But there’s a big difference between your example of an infantry squad taking on one sniper, and an infantry squad taking on fifty or a hundred partisans. Those aren’t odds this former infantry officer would like to face.

    • Crustyrusty says:

      Take out about 360000 Air Force personnel. Only ones who can shoot are the Security Forces and they aren’t that great. I speak from personal experience

      • HSR47 says:

        There are the PJ’s, but there aren’t enough of them to really matter

        • Oleg Volk says:

          PJs = ?

          • Pararescue Jumper. Normal mission ops is to fast rope out of a special ops helo, shoot the bad guys and recover/treat wounded US troops. Think of them as a cross between and Army Ranger and an EMT.

            • HSR47 says:

              Actually, their medical training is far above basic EMT skills; Their scope of practice is more extensive than that of stateside Paramedics.

              For reference, an EMT cert can be done in under 140 hours, which means that it can be done in under a month.

              A Paramedic cert is basically equivalent to two years of college.

              An EMT’s job is to render basic external medical care; things like pressure dressings, splints, backboards, etc.

              A Paramedic’s job is to be the eyes and ears of a doctor, which means intubating, putting in IV’s, administering drugs, etc..

              PJ’s go into the field without a phone line to a doctor, and as such their scope of practice is necessarily larger.

              Then you take into account their level of combat training; These are guys who drop into enemy territory alone, or in a small group, locate a downed aviator, and evac. Basically, they’re the most badass ambulance drivers in the world.

  20. J says:

    Meaning absolutely no disrespect to those that saw Oleg’s post as, somehow, anti-American or unpatriotic in nature… consider this situation in terms of Invading State versus Invaded State instead of some unknown threat invading the US. Removing that variable divests this discussion of American exceptionalism.

    Now, that said, I agree with Oleg’s assessment for the most part. I wholeheartedly agree that poorly trained irregulars attempting to engage modern infantry formations with precision fires will, more often than not, end with the defeat of the irregulars. For those that would point to the American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan (arguably a defeat in both instances) as an example of how well an irregular force can do against modern infantry I would point to the criminally restrictive ROE, vagaries of combat in two of the toughest types of terrain and an enemy free to employ the tactic of suicide bombing as important variables to consider.

    However, the above is largely immaterial as a determined and smart irregular force would make every attempt to destroy or harass logistical lines of effort, enemy lines of communication and their ports of debarkation. The irregulars would avoid contact with line infantry at almost all costs and save their lives and limited munitions to strike at the support elements.

    Of course, these are only my observations after fighting irregulars for the lion’s share of the last ten years. YMMV.

  21. Lyle says:

    Yeah; so when we discuss the possibility of any wide-spread American conflict, we’re actually talking global chaos. World War III. “Twelver” stuff. Our enemies are prepairing for it and we’re too close to it already, so we’d better figure it out amongst ourselves.

    “…[know] what you believe in & [be] able to express those ideas in an intelligent manner…”

  22. Bob Owens says:


    Might I suggest reading “Fry The Brain: The Art of Urban Sniping and its Role in Modern Guerrilla Warfare” by John West.

    It’s not the kind of war you think it will be.

  23. Pericles says:

    Logistics – At maximum production rates, the US makes 6 Hellfire missiles per day, and if the entire land forces were mobilized every soldier in an infantry MOS could get 70 rounds per day if non combat MOS solders were allotted 120 rounds per month.

    The US military is masterful at bringing overwhelming firepower to a particular engagement at a particular time. What the military has not had to do since Vietnam, is to fight a number of such engagements concurrently. The Army ran out of radio batteries in 2003 and small arms ammunition in 2005. The tempo of operations required to attempt to “pacify” the United States is unsustainable by any military on the planet.

  24. Earl Harding says:

    Folks seem to be focused on third world insurgencies fought by third world insurgents against third world armies as a model. Even Iraq is a poor model here.

    Lets look at some closer examples. Northern Ireland and Spain (IRA et al and ETA). This is a much closer analogy. Very small numbers of operatives tying down very large forces. Forces, it must be said, that by and large have no safe sanctuary. Every morning before you get into your car you need to check if your legs are about to get blown off. Every knock at the door you need to wonder. Is that a treat or treater or is that someone who will gun me down in my own doorway?

    Parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren threatened at school, or at the grocery store, or at the gas station.

    The Ulster Defense Regiment took plenty of casualties, as did the police and prison service because their homes were in the contested area and readily targetted. Troops from the UK were less vunerable because they were in barracks in a situation more akin to the US experience in Iraq. So they tended to get attacked more in patrol.

    In a first world US insurgency it will not be pitched battles until the government has broken down and the military itself has split. Then it is a civil war, not an insurgency.

    Prior to that it will be police targeted with IED and assination & soldiers on leave shot whilst enjoying a barbeque and dying in their wife’s arms and in front of their sobbing children. The IRA didn’t win outright, but they won a huge number of concessions using exactly these tactics, along with blowing up shopping malls, pubs, fast food restaurants and the like. (And for the record the unionist side was equally nasty).

    If it starts to go down here it will go the same way. Attacking the military full on is suicide. Having said that sniper attacks are very successful in urban areas. Is the military really going to call an airstrike down on an apartment building with 20 or thirty american families in it? If they do, the insurgents lose a sniper but the government loses the people unless there is no popular support at all. But if there is no popular support at all the sniper has a hard time getting set up without getting ratted out, so the military respose is un-necessary. Catch-22.

    Serious insurgents aren’t fighting for control of the ground, they are fighting for a seat at the negotiating table so they get a say in shaping the future. Radical Islam which is religiously driven is the abberation here, and none of this applies.

    This is the first world insurgent battlefield. I grew up in Northern Ireland and saw this first hand. Had my own life threatened and nearly lost close family on more than one occasion. Thankfully I am now a proud American, and I’m not the only one who left for other shores.

  25. While I agree with the general premise of your essay, I believe that you may have missed a few key factors that come into play here.
    Lets start with what I agree with. Joe Average deer hunter is NOT necessarily a trained soldier, and just being able to hit a paper target or even a deer does not make them a soldier. Also, the organized and funded military has lots better toys and reinforcements than even minor militia force making an ‘insurgency’ against the military a near impossible undertaking.
    Here is where we part however…
    * There are over 80 Million gun owners in the US. While they may not be well trained soldiers, that is still a very daunting armed force!
    * Many civilian firearms owners DO train regularly and cross train over several different fire arms platforms as well as network with other like minded individuals and groups.
    * Many of your ‘deer hunters’ actually ARE trained military men and women!
    * There are several well stocked and prepared groups and organizations in this country ready and able to organize and mobilize IF ‘that’ time ever comes.
    * Possibly the MOST important factor that you seem to have missed is that our military men and women take an OATH to the Constitution and the Country NOT a Tyrannical Government. While an initial minor insurgency would be quickly dealt with, in the event of a full scale uprising against Tyranny or an Illegal order to fire upon/round up/etc US Citizens I have a very hard time believing that the military would actually follow those orders. Rather I expect they would stay on the sidelines or go ahead and take the side of the Citizenry against said Tyrannical government.

    Other than a few more radical individuals and groups, I don’t know that anyone relishes the idea of a civil or revolutionary WAR in the US. However, there does come a point where attempting to work within a corrupt system no longer works. For now, we have not yet reached that point, but I am not ignorant enough to think that that point might not be near. In the meantime, I will continue to try to inform as many people as I can reach and spur them to action through voting and communication with our representatives.

    Stay informed, Train, Network, and Be Prepared for ANYTHING!

  26. Rivrdog says:

    Earl Harding began to allude to it, but the thing to consider with an insurgency is not how good the insurgents are in the field, it’s how good they are in drumming up support in the towns and cities.

    How will the tyrannical government handle that? There are only two ways, and neither works: they can get overly brutal with partisans and supporters, to try and cow the population. That never works for long. Or, they can use secret police to “disappear” supporters. One day, the apartment across the hall is empty, and no one knows where that family went. That will work for a while, but not long. The word gets around. Most tyrannical dictators who survive do so by giving the population most of what they want, and some things they could never get from a representative government, such as law and order. If all the street crime were to stop tomorrow, wouldn’t you vote for that guy who made it stop? Of course you would, and you would give him a pass if he said that he didn’t want to go through the process of election next time.

    The Nazis came to power by chasing the Bolsheviks off the streets. The Bolsheviks were not the problem, the post WW1 economy was, but the Nazis painted the Bolsheviks as the main enemy and made that work. When the Nazis handed out soup and bread to all the hungry, that sealed the deal.

    Insurgencies, or the impossibility of them, are all about street politics. If the street supports the insurgents, the most powerful dictator will fall, but if the street supports the dictator, no insurgency will ever succeed. Hitler had actual plans for a 1,000-year rule of the Nazis. The plans worked until the other belligerents in WW2 made life miserable in the cities, and Hitler lost his support.

    To bring it into focus: why do you think that Obama is so focused on pandering to the have-nots? He plans for them to be his support when his surprise is sprung. Will they stick with him? If they are fed, housed and entertained, they will. All an insurgency has to do is interrupt the supply of largesse to the have-nots, and that would-be dictatorship is stopped, cold, without the insurgency ever taking to the field against trained troops. When the insurgency gains the support of the have-nots, the Government is toast. While the Government has the support of the have-nots, it is supreme.

    It’s really this simple.

  27. bluemntceltic says:

    The art of conflict would be to cut off that mile long logistics trail. Not to mention dozens of soft targets. One of the things we have trouble dealing with now is the single attack here and the by individuals acting seemingly independently. What if there was an American inverse version of the perfect day? No way would Intelligent folk play be rules of engagement that favored the enemy. BTW 2 moa is plenty good enough to hit a few and cause the remainder to duck and cover.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      The families and friends of the guerrillas are soft targets, too. Bolsheviks started with massive hostage taking. British army herded Boer civilians behind wire, too.

  28. Jason Roberts says:

    In a hypothetical American insurgency I would expect the insurgents to take more casulties than the government forces, especially early on as the more foolish ones get themselves killed quickly. I think that those that cooperate and carry out attacks in small groups could wage effective guerrilla warfare where they have popular support.

    I agree with Harmony Hermit that a widespread revolt would stretch government forces very thin and the government could lose control of large parts of the country.

  29. Braden Lynch says:

    Two thoughts from above:

    1) We have about 100 MILLION firearms in the hands of the citizens
    2) We have an ALL VOLUNTEER force for our military (i.e. patriotic)

    Both of these facts bode well for discouraging the rise of a dictator.
    No need to fight a revolution or insurgency if it never materializes.

    Molon Labe!
    Never Again!

  30. MAJ Mike says:

    It could happen here. I pray that it never does, but it could. There is a large faction in and out of our government that seeks to control every facit of our lives.

    I will not submit. I’ll die on my feet rather than live on my knees. At the age of 62, I’ve accomplished most all of my life goals. I aim to misbehave.

  31. AWM says:

    1. The Withdrawal of the Consent of the Governed. A majority, or at least a significant and effective minority, of the people of a nation or colony must consciously desire an end to the existing political and social order, and its replacement by a new one. It certainly helps if they want your revolutionary movement specifically to replace the existing order, although as Lenin and the Bolsheviks proved, it’s not absolutely necessary.

    2. A Fighting Revolutionary Party. A political, propaganda, and military vehicle must exist which will express the withdrawal of consent in concrete terms, and which is prepared to replace the existing order, and which is ready and willing to take direct action to do so.

    3. The Loss of the Credible Monopoly of Armed Force. All political power is based on the use of deadly force by the ruler or the state, the infliction or threat of bodily harm or death on others, without punishment of those who exercise force in the state’s name. This is what makes the policeman’s club or gun different from the club or gun in the hand of the criminal. The policeman may do harm without being punished for it, except within certain narrow parameters when he harms an influential, a wealthy man or some other societally protected person such as our minorities, through error or stupidity , and sometimes even then he is never punished at all.

    For example, FBI agents inflict terrible tortures on helpless prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere which would earn you or I life sentences if we were to inflict them on anyone without permission from the ruling elite, and yet they are not punished, but on the contrary they are commended and promoted. This is called a credible monopoly of armed force.

    In order for any revolutionary movement to succeed, it must first break that credible monopoly of armed force, by demonstrating to the public an ability to do harm to its enemies and not be punished. The people must be made to understand that change is in fact possible, because the state is no longer certainly able to punish those who oppose it. Eventually the revolutionary movement transfers the monopoly of armed force to itself, thereby becoming the established state. This is how revolutions occur.

  32. Yes, taking up civilian arms against a modern enemy with concentrated forces is asking to get your behind handed to you.
    Not many will be stupid enough to do so though.
    You attack the enemy where and when you have local superiority. And you will have such, from time to time.
    You will have allies, passive or active in the police and military, somewhat leveling the playingfield.
    You will move seamlessly in and out of the civilian population. You will have support from the civilian population.
    Your objective will not be to kill every soldier, but to make the prospect of helping to terrorize the people so unappealing that the soldiers either simply makes as bad a job as they can, desert or even defect to the rebels. all of this is possible.
    To control a population that doesnt resist is easy, you dont have to show the uglier faces of tyranny, when there is resistance you are forced to answer using terror and thereby losing the confidence of the sheeple as well as of your soldiers.

    The problem is not a fetish with marksmanship, the problem may be that people dont do enough fieldtraining and dont focus enough on studying tactics and strategy as well as on taking active part in politics today.

    One other problem is how politics in the USA works (as far as i understand) with basically two parties fighting over each position. While this makes each appointee responsible to his electorate, it makes gradual change difficult.
    In Sweden we have eight parties in our parliament, with from just over four to a bit over 30% of the votes (we have a limit of at least 4% of the votes to enter parliament, a limit i want to remove). This means that one party dont get total control of the government, and it opens for new parties to grow and prove themselves. Of course, today we have eight brands of laizsez faire liberals in our parliament, which is a result of a lack of fair and unbiased media.

  33. Strike against the miles long logistics train for example, or stand in the way of their trucks, unarmed and ask hem (in front of videocameras from apartmentwindows around) What will you do? Drive over me like they did in Peking 1989? Dying gallantly or being mauled by the powers that be can motivate tens of thousands, remember the rodney king riots? Hearts and minds people.
    The troopers arent protected all the time, from time to time the will stand at a corner offfering a pretty girl a smoke, and then the pretty girl puts a couple shots through his thigh or head.
    The Rifle and the marksman can and will deny the tyrants and their henchmen the ability to just waltz around as they please, they will be limited to “green zones” or heavily protected convoys.

  34. Mason says:

    I think Oleg is correct that the core of the problem isn’t marksmanship or tactics. The core of the problem as I see it is that it is extraordinarily unlikely for any sort of violent uprising/revolution/resistance, no matter how it is organized or motivated or how it fights, to result in a country that is more free.

    Let’s start out thinking of some sort of group or number of individuals starting some kind of uprising. Such an uprising is indeed almost impossible for the Government to win while using current conventional law enforcement tactics. Once the Government realizes this, it’s only choices are to either completely abandon any pretext of respecting the constitution and civil rights and wage unrestricted warfare on the uprising, or lose its monopoly of force in the area.

    In areas where they go the warfare route, I can’t see any way for them to ever let up. If they end up with a relatively stable control after that, then the severity of behavior restrictions and enforcement will be far more severe than anything we’ve dreamed of. How do they ever let up with that? Normally, you’d negotiate some sort of peace with the opposition, but any well-organized opposition where somebody had the power to negotiate on the behalf of the fighters would probably have that leadership squashed right off the bat. If anyone’s still fighting after that, it’s individuals and small groups with no connection to each other. How does anybody figure out what they want? How does anybody get them all to stop fighting? How could the violence and oppression ever end? The only way it could be otherwise would be if the opposition forces were extraordinarily well-organized and hierarchical, enough so that the leadership is very difficult to decisively destroy, and about as restrictive and oppressive to themselves as the Government is. Which is about the farthest thing from the single pissed-off rifleman that the people who talk of rebellion seem to have in mind.

    On the other hand, if the Government loses the monopoly of force in an area, then you get total chaos. The whole area is completely lawless, and anybody can do anything they feel like doing at any time. At least until whatever organized groups already exist or can form in the area manage to enforce some sort of monopoly of force and law and order in their area. You might actually get a sort-of reasonable living situation if you are in a remote, culturally-unified area where everyone can unite under one leader without too much friction. If you’re anywhere near a large or medium-sized city, you’ll probably get Somalia – a patchwork of constantly-shifting areas of control by assorted gang/warlord types mixed with areas of anarchy.

    That’s not to say that you should never, ever try to rebel. Do keep in mind what the likely endgame of such rebellion would be, and think about whether that’s really better than what you have now. Also that you being quickly killed or thrown in prison and made out to be a dirty nutjob in the media is far more likely than any of the other possibilities.

    • HSR47 says:

      “…the core of the problem isn’t marksmanship or tactics. The core of the problem as I see it is that it is extraordinarily unlikely for any sort of violent uprising/revolution/resistance, no matter how it is organized or motivated or how it fights, to result in a country that is more free.”

      “That’s not to say that you should never, ever try to rebel. Do keep in mind what the likely endgame of such rebellion would be, and think about whether that’s really better than what you have now. Also that you being quickly killed or thrown in prison and made out to be a dirty nutjob in the media is far more likely than any of the other possibilities.”


  35. Snackeater says:

    If this scenario is about the US military vs the US population, fought in this country, anyone putting their money on the military is a fool.

    The military is concentrated in large compounds called “forts” or “bases,” and everyone knows where they are. And since I live near one, I know that it would be next to impossible to defend it from insurgents. Plus they could be cut off from the rest of the world very easily. And the military does very little of the day-to-day drudgery–that is all done by civilians now. A fort would not last long without water or power. So would they deploy to other areas throught the country? They’re not big enough to control much territory, and their supply chains would be fragile at best.

    National Guard? Don’t kid yourself. They’re all located in larger cities throughout the country–right in the middle of “Indian country.” And we know where most guardsmen live–and their families, too–they wouldn’t pose much of a threat for long. And they compose half of the military’s strength. Plus their armories would provide much-needed supplies to insurgents.

    No, the DoD outsourced 80% of operations other than actual warfighting to civilians over the past 20 years, and without those civilians they would collapse within a year.

  36. PMain says:


    While I agree with you that a lone sniper wouldn’t last too long against a modern, well trained military unit, I too see the wisdom in what others have pointed out about simple numbers & vulnerable supplies. Not to mention the military’s ingrained distaste on firing on its own citizens. I believe that is why there has been a dramatic shift in the focus of the local, state & federal law enforcement’s training over the past decade or so. That is where the real danger resides for the citizen… the government, not the military.

    I think what I find alarming most is how often these conversations come up, especially in unexpected venues. This conversation at your site is a perfect example. Another would be the DHS’ listing of “preppers” & “gun nuts” as potential terrorist threats. These conversations are more than random occurrences from within our society, especially in reference to the rising of the Tea Parties & Occupy Movement.

    However, while I do find comfort in owning/using firearms, my greatest source is strength is the often ignored character of the American people itself. Ours is a culture that runs to the collapsing buildings of a 9/11 attack, volunteers to clean it up, pass out water, offer medical support, not to mention financial support to those that need it.

    Whether it’s a building preference cascade for political change, I doubt seriously that there will be a violent citizen uprising unless completely provoked by the government’s actions. If that’s the case, it will not be as simple of a matter of a lone sniper vs. military units, it’ll be politicians & bureaucrats lining the light posts of main street.

  37. anonymous coward says:

    couldn’t you just invent a 3 party to disrupt your one-party-state? with 57 % showing up last time (and 49 % in ’96) in the presidential elections, a motivated minority can do a lot more damage/good than a sub moa rifle. you first have to be united and know what you want though and that seems a lot less likely to happen than the first time you threw your government out.

    • HSR47 says:

      That’s precisely what the Tea Party has tried to do, and they’ve actually had some measure of success.

      That kind of success takes both time and money in large quantities.

      Basically, you need to have enough motivated people in order to motivate the larger body politic.

      To do this, you need to start by winning seats at the local level, and not only hold your seats in future elections, but win higher seats. You can’t just shoot straight for the presidency, because nobody will take you seriously (*cough*Libertarian*cough*).

  38. Six says:

    We didn’t reach this point as the result of an armed insurgency by the Left. We got here through a long, slow manipulation of the educational and political infrastructure by those committed to a fundamental change in America. An armed insurgency by those seeking a restoration of Constitutional Law is an admission that the use of force is the only way we can defeat our domestic enemies. I reject that idea wholeheartedly. We can win the same way we have so far been losing. By taking back that which is ours to begin wit. That starts by getting involved in all aspects of American life, from elections to your childs school curriculum. Apathy and laziness are our enemies, not the Left.

    • HSR47 says:

      The issue though, is that when they took over those institutions (schools, government, etc.), we were largely ignorant of their long-term aspirations.

      The reverse is not true. They know what we want to do, and they will fight us tooth, fang, and claw to maintain their hold on those institutions.

  39. OK, can someone explain to me why a militia who is 14 million members large would have a smaller and less vulnerable supply chain than US military forces?

    • HSR47 says:

      “OK, can someone explain to me why a militia who is 14 million members large would have a smaller and less vulnerable supply chain than US military forces?”

      Simple: The government doesn’t know who is an insurgent, and who isn’t.

      Generally speaking, insurgents spend most of their time blending in with the non-fighting civilians around them. Thus, most of their supplies come from the same sources that the rest of the body politic uses.

      Thus it is nearly impossible to cut off supplies to just the insurgents, and the collateral damage of trying to do so would undermine the political aspects of the conflict (winning hearts and minds).

      So, while the supply chain may be larger and more vulnerable, attacking it is also a political non-starter.

      • Y. says:

        Simple: The government doesn’t know who is an insurgent, and who isn’t.

        Perhaps. Not for long.

        NSA’s goal is to archive data on everyone in the US, and possibly some people elsewhere, so they’ll be able to look up what anyone’s been doing on the internet for years.

        Which means 98% of potential troublemakers who haven’t kept their mouth shut online will be easy to identify. The other 2% will merely be investigated alongside with everyone who uses secure communications, perhaps as suspected pedophiles or spies (who else would bother with encrypted email, VPN’s or anonymous browsing?)

  40. HooDooYooDoo says:

    In the U.S., it would partially be about numbers. There are more civilians. What’s more, many civilians were once in the military. How many of these people would take a stand? Unknown.

    But, let’s just pretend there’s no armed populace with the means to cripple the infrastructure, not to mention it’s the civilians who provide support to the military.

    All that aside, when the military is told to take up arms against those they are supposed to protect in the country they themselves call home, I expect there to be some serious gut checking. With the fairly recent events 9/11 and Katrina fresh in mind and the lessons learned from fighting a war in the Middle East, it would seem that these kinds of actions would be political suicide at the VERY least.

    So I would ask this. If the government is intractable, self serving and arbitrary, what options do you feel we have?

    • LarryArnold says:

      Notsure what they’re teaching today, but when I took Infantry Officer Basic we gotthe Nuremberg lecture. (

      “All officers of the seven Uniformed services of the United States take swear or affirm an oath of office upon commissioning. It differs slightly from that of the oath of enlistment that enlisted members recite when they enter the service. It is required by statute, the oath being prescribed by Section 3331, Title 5, United States Code. It is traditional for officers to recite the oath upon promotion but as long as the officer’s service is continuous this is not actually required. One notable difference between the officer and enlisted oaths is that the oath taken by officers does not include any provision to obey orders; while enlisted personnel are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to obey lawful orders, officers in the service of the United States are bound by this oath to disobey any order that violates the Constitution of the United States.” (

  41. Leonard says:

    Another lesson from recent history.

    The repressive apparatus in Eastern Europe worked well, with soldiers locked in barracks and intensively brainwashed. Accordingly, the revolutions there succeeded long after the population “had enough”. By ’89-’90, however, the troops low-rank commanders got disillusioned and became unreliable executors.

    Brainwashing is quite successful in US even now, with Internet and amateur radio not suppressed yet. Are there concerted efforts to free the troops from the effect of government propaganda? Otherwise, they would be proud to fight “terrorist formations”, maybe with drones, to protect themselves.

  42. Phelps says:

    Any insurgent who tries to take on soldiers when there are so many politicians, totalitarian-supporting journalists, and tax wasting bureaucrats to target is a fool who brings what he gets down on himself.

    An insurgent’s goal isn’t a military victory, it’s a political one. An EPA or FDA inspector casualty would bring that goal much closer than an Army corporal. (The corporal would likely push it further away.)

  43. Pingback: Ideas Are Bulletproof « Underground Carpenter 2

  44. avidus says:

    One of the first things we were taught at Battle School was never to play the game by the enemy’s rules.

    As the excellent article outlines, trying to shoot at well armed and armored enemies kitted out with all sorts of technology and off board support is a losing proposition, hence don’t do it.

    If you still wish to shoot at them from a distance learn from the Washington sniper pair. If you recall they caused massive amounts of trouble for that administration with minimal amount of effort and were only caught due to a repetition of the operating plan. And some bad luck. Imagine 100’s of such folks working independently across the country.

    The technique of shooting from inside a modified vehicle in a public place negates most of the assets Mr Volk has described and has been proven successful. Now of course they weren’t shooting at heavily armored troops, but why would you? Target troops without armor, or police, regime supporters, and so forth, who don’t walk around with SAPI plates and machine guns.

    Personally I will suggest that up close and personal is very hard to defend against, especially when using a small caliber weapon that naturally makes very little noise, and it is much harder to miss under ten feet than from several hundred yards. A good example of this is the film: “Flame and Citron” about Danish resistance under the Nazis. It is very difficult to keep everyone essential to the administration behind sandbags and high walls 24/7. So target restaurants, coffee shops and folks walking on the street. How difficult is it to find witnesses to crimes today, let alone witnesses for anti-establisment operations under a tyrannical regime? And cameras only work if they aren’t factored for in operational planning.

    In closing, yes engaging cutting edge infantry a la “Red Dawn” will end very quickly for aspiring resistance fighters – which is why you shouldn’t. Don’t play the game the way they want you to. Historically when you don’t, enemies often have a very difficult time adapting to you.

  45. HSR47 says:

    A supply chain that is miles long is vulnerable. It doesn’t take much to ambush a supply convoy. A few strategically placed roadblocks to get the convoy where you want it, and then some improvised incendiary devices dropped from on high. Given that we have a fairly extensive limited-access highway system, keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to block off exits (multi-car pileups work nicely), and that there are a LOT of bridges over our highways. All you need to do is know what road they’re on and be able to block off exits, and then drop stuff off bridges. Hell, you don’t have to even engage them, you just have to defeat their ability to move. The government does not have an infinite supply of spare tires, and tires are not the most durable part on a vehicle.

    Air support? That takes parts, fuel, crews, maintenance…. In short, lots of time on the ground between missions. There are all kinds of things that can be done to disrupt this.

    Body armor? Our military is largely only equipped with ballistic protection for the head (helmet) and chest. The chest protection is largely just front and back SAPI plates, with additional soft armor on the sides and possibly back/front. If you look at the mortality statistics for our current conflicts in the middle east, the most common killshot is side-to-side through the upper thoracic cavity (basically, through the chest where the armor provides no protection). Also keep in mind that the goal of an insurgency is NOT to kill their opponents: their goal is to cause maximum injury short of death so as to put maximal strain on supply lines and most effectively demoralize their enemy.

    The problem isn’t on the military side of things; it isn’t that hard to stymie a modern military. Rather, the problem is on the civilian side of things. The long-term key to winning is being able to effectively distribute propaganda material that is itself effective. Given the degree to which the old media has been in the tank for this administration, it seems to me that such an insurgency would have a very hard time winning the propaganda war, if it’s even a winnable fight.

    Basically, I agree that an armed revolt is likely a not a winnable proposition, but for different reasons.

    The idea isn’t for one man to try to take on a platoon by himself (which is suicide as Oleg rightly points out), the idea is for a group of men to engage the same platoon briefly and from multiple sides before fading away. The primary goal isn’t death, it’s demoralization. As such, you want to engage from as long a range as is practical, so as to maximize your chances for escape. Thus, the occupiers get shot at, possibly even take casualties, and in the end they never seem to catch their opponents.

    Thus, while individual skirmishes might be winnable, that doesn’t directly translate to winning the overall conflict. What wins that conflict is getting the Sisterhood of the Truro Synagogue to manufacture gunpowder for you. If they aren’t on your side either, then you have effectively no chance of winning.

    • HSR47 says:

      This was meant to be a reply to Wilhelm Durand’s post of October 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm, but the CAPTCHA timed out and re-entering it when prompted broke the continuity.

  46. Michael in CT says:

    An interesting thread with lots of interesting comments. Several points that I don’t believe have been considered:
    First, what makes anyone think that all of the states would go along with with a scenario that you laid out? If it is the current adminstration, then I can see a lot of states refusing to go along, with Texas at the top of the list.
    Second, the vast majority of US Army division sized formations are in red states such as Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Kansas & Kentucky.
    Third, most of the rest of the military that actually tasked for combat operations is also based in Red states.
    Fourth, what makes anyone think that the divisional commanders will obey orders from the politicians to fire on American citizens?

  47. Suspect1 says:

    All this discussion, seems to me, to be for nought. Take into consideration The Church Hearings, and as early as the 1970’s TPTB had the ability to squash any serious dissent before the greater public even had a clue it had taken place, and if any news of it did make it to the public at large, the spin machines were already in place to make the dissenters into the bogeyman of the day. Now with “stellar wind” in place and other wonders that would make the Gestapo green with envy, there is no hope for true American style freedom, the freedom that our founders died for. The Patriot movement loves to claim this freedom as their own, but they are unwilling to even show the same bravery as an Afghan goat herder who in the face of insurmountable odds will have fought the largest army on the planet to a standstill, and will once again be true. “free men” in control of their own destiny.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      Not sure if Afghanis are brave or just do what their local strongmen or clerics force them to do. It’s easy to join the resistance when the alternative is being killed by your own neighbors.

  48. Another Anon says:

    If things keep going the way they are we’ll get a junta well before we get a insurgency. I suspect a single modest unit could simply “call new elections” and take over with little effort. as poor a job as Congress is doing, so long as they mostly left people alone, people’d cheer them on.

    What won’t happen though is CW2 with armies of plucky rebels and military defectors fighting the empire. Not gonna happen just as our host mentions.

    Assuming a 20xx insurgency would be anything like a 1990’s one is a mistake .The demographic terrain and economic is too different . We are post industrial, resources starved (the military runs on cheap fuel too) and have way more Non Whites with radically different agendas

    Northern Ireland isn’t a bad analogy exactly but the US population is much more heavily armed and unlike N.A. we have a failed state on one border and a three or four way ethnic and cultural clash. The two way clash in NA was bad enough but the race war the US has far more faxctions and opportunity for sectarian power grans

    as an example number of for example, in a wide uprising young Non Whites (and we’ve had mass riots many times) so greatly outnumber the entire security apparatus and its ability to supress without atrocity.

    This would be exaserabted by the general collapse of the US economy, aid from foreign powers (the drug cartels and other crime syndicates would benefit from a weaker US as would China ) and other factors .The potential for something that can’t be put down is very high.

  49. In my opinion, at the end of the day, everyone who has the idea of taking up arms when the need arises, should use as much time taking part in and trying to change current politics, as they do in gathering arms and training with said arms.
    The ammo box is, as has been mentioned before, the last resort. The Soap box should be plan a and the ballot box part of the same, or possibly plan b. The ammo box should be somewhere around plan O, but it should never be neglected nor downplayed.
    At the end of the day it is better to die on your feet, gun in hand, than to live on your knees, licking the boots that kicks you.

  50. Ted N says:

    Specialized in Aircrew Recovery, from what I understand, but will keep up with the best of the secret squirrels.

  51. William Martin says:

    Mr. Volk,
    I have long admired your photos and sentiments, but you’ve run off the road this time.

    To suggest that a military/police contingent that makes up less than 2% of the U.S. population would win overwhelmingly in an armed contest is farcical at best.
    That military depends, every minute, on the logistical support from the very citizens it would theoretically be making war upon. And just to pile the lesson on, the military doesn’t draw a helluva lot of recruits, let alone arms, ammunition, or spaare parts from Harlem, Watts, or the District of Columbia.
    One lone sniper might, indeed, lead a short and interesting life taking on a battalion of combined arms troops in an empty field.
    But if he was shooting at a flightline, and blowing up a railroad trestle over an interstate to stop the Imperial Stormtroopers (god forbid such a day ever comes) the easy victory for the State would happen not so much.
    And one can learn to hit a moving target at 500m in an afternoon at the range. It takes 3 months to make a minimally trained squad member, a year for a splatoon leader, and 5 years for a sergeant. Whose boots, ammo, truck or APC, and fuel to haul it has to come from home turf through the same insurgency. And the replacement pool for a new troop? Oh yeah, *overwhelmingly* from rural RedState insurgent Heaven.
    So every sniper round that connects costs TPTB a troop they can’t replace, and suppressing that fire, popping that smoke, and deploying that company costs the Other Side muntions, supplies, gas, and even more troops to get it there.
    No sir, the only no-win scenario is trying to subjugate a people willing to fight for their freedom.
    You should have known that before you hit the first keystroke. I urge a reconsideration.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      I am not saying that winning isn’t possible. I am saying it would be costly and not effected entirely or even predominantly by citizen snipers.

      • HSR47 says:

        So what you were trying to get across is that, while such tactics would play an important role in such a hypothetical situation, they would be extremely hazardous to the health of the insurgent behind the rifle.


  52. Dan says:

    Nobody wants a Second Revolution….at least no one who is sane.
    Hell…the founding fathers really didn’t want the first one. The problem
    however that we face is the exact same problem that GW, Thom Jeff
    faced then. The people in power who are abusing us don’t care what we
    think, what we want, what we’d like or what we might petition for. They are
    going to do what they want to us, when they want, as they want whenever they
    want. The only response to that is violence.

    Yes….it will be bloody. Yes…’s not the simple “deer hunters decimate
    troops and win” scenario that many bandy about during hunting season
    but yes….it’s what will be required. Those who now rule in Mordor on
    the Potomac only pay lip service to our alleged freedom as it serves their
    purpose to do so. However we are not free. They don’t want us to be
    free and they will not allow us to regain our freedom by any means….
    including peaceful ones. Thus the only realistic option to return America
    to a condition of meaningful freedom will involve violence. Nothing else
    will work because those currently in power have no problems using
    violence to prevent any other method from succeeding.

    • HSR47 says:


      We’ve already had two.

      The most important question in all of this is what the final outcome of a third would be. History has taught us that such revolutions rarely result in a freer society; in fact, our first civil war is the only such positive example I can cite.

      It seems to me that certain unique circumstances played into the success of our first civil war, and it seems to me that most of them are no longer in place.

      • Dan says:

        Granted the minutiae of the CW being the second revolution….
        and granted that the odds of another one having as happy and
        prosperous an outcome as the first are miniscule…..what other
        realistic options exist.

        As stated. Those in power mean to stay there. They mean
        to expand their power. They mean to dismantle what little of
        free America they have overlooked. They mean to rule. We
        who are not part of the select are slated for servitude.

        The choices are two….fiddlefart around with meaningless efforts
        to change the system peacefully because we refuse to acknowledge that the system we are working in is a sham kept
        in place to placate the masses. Or pick up a weapon and go
        HL Mencken on those who mean to enslave us.

        • It is not meaningless to try to change the system peacefully nor from within. And even if it were meaningless, we must still try to do so, as a show of good faith. If/when we take up arms we must be able to tell our children that we had exhausted all other possibilities, we must be able to say without a doubt that we had tried everything else before we resorted to violence.

          • Dan says:

            Noble sentiment….and one that plays well into the plans and designs of the liberal left. The same marxist collectivist left that have NO qualms whatsoever about the use of violence in the quest to achieve their agenda. As long as people refuse to use the only true tool of political change that actually works and talk about “working with the system” they are content to allow the disaffected to flap their gums, blow off steam and argue amongst themselves. They know full well that talk is just that….talk. It changes nothing. The people who have siezed control of this country will not listen to talk in any fashion other than as a means to acquire intel on who to round up first when they decide it’s time to start rounding up the dissidents. Violence is the only tool that tyrants listen to. It’s the only action they understand and it’s the only course that will remove them from their hold on power. Violence is ugly, nasty and leaves a permanent scar on all involved….and it’s the only tool that
            evil respects and the only tool that will remove evil. That is the plain and unvarnished truth….which may be ugly but is still the truth none the less.

  53. Joe Sixpack says:

    You think that if you “just keep pushing liberty hard enough” then the national debt will magically become payable? That the welfare classes will start working for a living? That oil will become more abundant? That food production will keep up with population growth?
    The screws will keep turning.
    Why? Because for government there can be no retreat. It’s simply not feasible.
    Your biggest failing is that you, Volk, like many others, engage with the idea that you’re supposed to survive the revolution.
    Someone who values the freedom of their children and grandchildren understands that the first shot kill is what matters, and that living past that moment for any purpose whatsoever is merely a bonus.

  54. sand says:

    When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.
    – Sun Tzu

    While it’s probably not a good idea to tactically bash one’s head against a tyrant’s industrially enhanced troops, might it not be more productive for resisters to triple-F a tyrant’s materiel, functionaries and technocrats? That’s the lifeblood of any technological machine.

    Does uncle Joe tyrant command enough resources or well trained and equipped minions to defend them all?

    Seems to me that’s an awful lot of green zones to secure and be tied up in…Like a bunch of life rafts full of parched castaways in an angry ocean full of fish…With sharks lying in wait in the gloom.

  55. cmblake6 says:

    I’ve seen many excellent implied tactics, a few mention a superior choice of targets, not very many mentions of the fact that many military members will revolt from the inside. Let us pray that it may be done through the ballot box via the cartridge box being a potential response. Why do you think the left has been working for over 80 years to remove combat practical weaponry from the hands of We The People? The 2A was written specifically for the purpose being discussed in this article, but WTP don’t need military style weaponry? That was exactly what the Founders had in mind, not duck hunting. Yes, there would indeed be heavy losses on our side. To be avoided if at all possible. But at what point does it cross the line?

  56. cmblake6 says:

    “All officers of the seven Uniformed services of the United States take swear or affirm an oath of office upon commissioning. It differs slightly from that of the oath of enlistment that enlisted members recite when they enter the service. It is required by statute, the oath being prescribed by Section 3331, Title 5, United States Code. It is traditional for officers to recite the oath upon promotion but as long as the officer’s service is continuous this is not actually required. One notable difference between the officer and enlisted oaths is that the oath taken by officers does not include any provision to obey orders; while enlisted personnel are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to obey lawful orders, officers in the service of the United States are bound by this oath to disobey any order that violates the Constitution of the United States.” (

    The problem with this point is exemplified by the JCS, so dedicated to trying to extract the man juice from Ovomit. It, and they, have performed numerous unconstitutional actions, and it’s cabinet has stood behind it on those violations. The military isn’t the target. Many are not proper students of the constitution, and most are of the age to have been subjected to the rewritten history books.

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  58. anonymous says:

    ” Is the military really going to call an airstrike down on an apartment building with 20 or thirty american families in it?”

    Ask anyone who was a resident of or around 6221 Osage Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19143, on May 13, 1985.

    In 1981, MOVE relocated to a row house at 6221 Osage Avenue in the Cobbs Creek area of West Philadelphia. On May 13, 1985, after months of complaints by neighbors that MOVE members were broadcasting political messages by bullhorn at all hours and also about the health hazards created from piles of compost, as well as indictments of various MOVE members for various crimes, including parole violation, contempt of court, illegal possession of firearms, and making terrorist threats, the police department attempted to clear the building and arrest the indicted MOVE members, which led to an armed standoff with police. The police lobbed tear gas canisters at the building and the fire department battered on the roof of the house with two water cannons. MOVE members fired at the police, and the police returned fire with semiautomatic weapons. The house was heavily fortified with old telephone poles lining the interior walls and a bunker was built on the roof. A police helicopter then dropped a four-pound bomb made of C-4 plastic explosive and Tovex, a dynamite substitute, onto the roof of the house to clear the bunker so that police would not be injured.

    The resulting explosion caused incendiary materials listed in the police indictment, and stored by MOVE in the house, to catch fire, therefore causing the house itself to catch on fire. The resulting fire ignited a massive blaze which eventually destroyed 65 houses nearby. Eleven people, including John Africa, five other adults and five children, died in the resulting fire. The firefighters were stopped from putting out the fire based on allegations that firefighters were being shot at, a claim that was contested by the lone adult survivor Ramona Africa, who says that the firefighters had earlier battered the house with two deluge pumps when there was no fire. Ramona Africa and one child, Birdie Africa, were the only two survivors. Police shot at those trying to escape the house and acknowledge firing over 10,000 rounds.

    video at

  59. TheIrishman says:

    I’ve tried to stay out of this thread as long as possible to see where the conversation headed. Both sides have valid points in my opinion. Life long hunters(not those who wait for a deer to get within 20 yards, but those who truly hunt) are probably better shots than your average infantry. Standing toe to toe with a modern mechanized force is easily considered suicide. BUT, as been stated earlier, why go toe to toe when there are so many soft targets(politicians and their lackey’s) to be had. Giffords was shot in a huge crowd by a man with no tactical knowledge, while protected by a security detail. Other valid points concern the desertion rate of our volunteer military. When “G.I. Joe” learns that uncle bob/his parent/wife have been displaced due to violence or lack of public service, how long before he runs home to take care of them? We’ve already seen it happen in NOLA during Katrina. The police decided it was better to protect their own family than a largely ungrateful public. It is a political fight, beyond doubt, but the FEAR of violence is what makes political dissent possible.

  60. April says:

    Oleg, Oleg they got to busy gunnerbating to the tune of your fantastic battle, they missed your point.
    (how so?)
    At the end. After your big doomsday showdown Oleg style, when you went,
    “but BLAH BLAH BLAH aside!
    What really matters is
    that you *politely assert* yourself to others
    as an example of what it means to embody
    not all of freedom for oneself,
    but oneself for freedom of all.”

    At the end, when you said what matters is who took the time to teach each other how to love and respect life.

    When you went all world lighthouse level.

    Comment 48981

  61. Joseph says:

    Bill’s assessment is correct. Y, you are off base. The Afghan forces of the 1980s had a need for a “staging area” or perhaps more accurately a “pipeline” to acquire weapons, particularly military grade things like stinger missiles because they were as they are now fighting an invading military force. America is a nation with an armed populace and quite frankly no matter how many alterations to the emergency powers act emerge you’re going to be hard pressed to find a military commander or any soldier who would treat an order to operate in the continental US against US citizens with anything other than contempt. Such an order, even if lawful in the most extreme cases wouldn’t see things like artillery and tanks being employed in an American remake of Tiennaman sqaure. Thus even in the extreme case a “staging area” again I contend that “pipeline” would be a more accurate characterization would be unneccesary. The fact remains though that a “New American Revolution” (which I am not advocating or supporting) would be contending with civilian law enforcement personnel more likely than anything else.

  62. William Martin says:

    “I am not saying that winning isn’t possible. I am saying it would be costly and not effected entirely or even predominantly by citizen snipers.” -OV

    Of course it will be costly. But is life so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the cost of chains and slavery?

    And *no one*, absent the insane, has ever posited that when confronted by snipers the Empire would melt like fog on a warm morning. Certainly you must have better things to do than build up such straw men for fencing practice.
    You might as easily have said that signing the Declaration of Independence, alone, didn’t gain us our freedom either. But without Bunker Hill, Ticonderoga, Yorktown, and eight years of “citizen snipers” in between, the Founders at Philadelphia were naught but threescore and change geriatric gasbags on summer holiday in Philadelphia.

    What point therefore an essay to assert that there’s no sense assembling on Lexington Green, because our little ragamuffin band is no match for trained British regulars, and stands no chance at all at defeating the entire Britis army?

    And praytell, who won that, game, set, and match, if not “citizen snipers”?

  63. Cory M says:

    Thats what the soviets said about the Afghans. Dont think they feel that way anymore. Im pretty sure the British said the same thing about us and we said the same thing about the VC.
    Lets say that only 2% of the populace became insurgents your talking 6 million plus people vs those that didnt abandoned the military when it attacked its own people which im sure would be a large portion. It would be bloody but they dont want none and they know it.

  64. j booth says:


    You are thinking about a military victory in a field engagement.

    The targets of the insurgents are not the soldiers or policemen. It doesn’t matter whether the individual soldiers are slime-balls or heroes, every one of them will become the “Honored Dead” when they fall.

    The proper target is the man who sends the soldiers and policemen out to impose his will. The man who sets the policy, who dictates the goals and methods of the state.

    And that is a relatively small set of individuals, who all desire to reach retirement age, who are not necessarily guarded 24/7, and who do not hide in the midst of soldiers in the field. They live in cities, commute in normal passenger cars, park in public lots, work in offices without bulletproof glass.

    Soft targets.

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  66. Larry says:

    The problem with this post and all of the comments is that so much is assumed by each person commenting.

    Assumptions are all over the place. Assumptions by the blog author and the commenters. None of can know how anything would play out in this fantasy scenario. The detail that some of the commenters go into about supply lines etc is good but again no one can know how any of this would be played out….if it ever happened in the US.

    Best advice, be prepared (lawfully own guns and LEARN how to use them) but stop reading/watching end of the world stories and actually live life.

  67. sofa says:

    What is a “ragtag band of not-marksmen supposed to do against a well-disciplined, in-shape, well-armed military with heavy weapons and air support again?”

    Ever heard of Afghanistan?
    Tyranny is repugnant to americans.

    And those arms and heavy weapons and air support are based on a vibrant economy and production facilities are secure bases and uninterrupted logistics. oops.

  68. Mr. Volk,
    In today’s economy it’s much easier to daydream about running around in the forest with my Wolverine pals than it is to find a job. Thank you for this refreshing dose of cold hard truth.

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