….On Combat

 ….On Combat


I have avoided going here in my past articles, mainly because it contains many thoughts that most of us would rather not address. Most preppers have not “Faced the Elephant” and all wonder what they will do, how they will act when that situation presents itself. It is not easy facing your possible frailties, but they must be addressed rather now than later.

Although there are many preppers out there who have combat experience, thanks to Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the majority do not. Those of you who haven’t are in for a very rude awakening.

Many think, or hope, that when it all goes to hell they will rise to the occasion and possess the courage, clarity of thought and endurance…TO KILL MEN. You most likely will not. Even trained military have shown a propensity to not shoot at the enemy. Unless you are just completely sociopathic, you have a built in moral compass that compels you NOT to kill. Civilized society, religion and family values have taught you all your life that killing is WRONG. It is! In a civil society, WROL will be anything but civil. This is a natural inclination that you must work to overcome.

If you have decided to pick up a gun in defense of you and yours, you must prepare yourself now to be able to take a life. This is a bigger component than ammo and spare magazines to your defense. Probably the most dangerous adversary in civilian life is a Mother in defense of her child. Most will do anything to protect their children and throw all else out the window. Protection becomes basic and primal, as it should. Give this some real thought and incorporate it into your mind set NOW. You must be able to switch on that primal lizard brain that will allow you to kill without immediate thought or remorse. Cry about it afterwards. You probably will, and should, if you have the time. Much of PTSD is the result of not having the luxury of doing just that in combat, constantly putting the pain aside.

Courage; Are you born with it? Can it be taught? Does everyone have the capability to do heroic things? Everyone experiences fear! How you deal with it and overcome it defines your level of courage. Most all Medal of Honor recipients’ were scared shitless at the moment of their heroics. Many were motivated by their fear. They chose to act instead of freeze, to make it stop, sometimes making the wrong choice, but acting and following through none the less. Any action in stress is better than none at all. The only redeeming quality of fear is the feeling after being shot at and missed. You will never feel so alive again. That is your only pay off for overcoming fear. Life!

Having said that, here is a fact; EVERYONE DIES. This is something that we all spend most of our lives ignoring, but that does not make it less true. We have no say in it, no choice in it; we will all succumb to that inevitable dirt nap. Our ONLY choice in the matter is HOW we die. It’s been said many times “Die standing as a free man or on your knees as a slave”. Think about that. Accept it. It is your only decision in death. How will you go?

What you can expect:

Fear, noise, confusion, smoke, dirt, sweat, nausea, a grapefruit in your throat, snakes in your belly, time distortion, tunnel vision. Loss of fine motor skills, nerves jumping in your legs and arms.

All of the above are the results of that hardwired “Fight or Flight syndrome”. This has been going on with humans since they first became lunch for other stronger, faster, better weaponized species. The slow became lunch, the quick lived another hour. Natural selection of the fittest or the smartest. There is a small part of the brain that is responsible for all of this. I have heard it referred to as the lizard brain, because all it is concerned with is survival. Some say that sixth sense that you feel someone is watching you reside here. Make friends with your lizard brain. Although it severely distorts your world view it also provides you with the strongest drug the human body produces “adrenalin”. This is the stuff that allows 100 lb. moms to lift cars off of their kids.


Noise: you would think the noise of a fire fight is overwhelming. It is. Often your brain will just shut it off as too much to deal with and you will be fighting in a silent movie.

Confusion: absolutely, any plan will start to fall apart at the first hostile contact. This is the reason for realistic training. The dirt, sweat and smoke are just the special effects to this confusion and part of the “fog of war”

Nausea; It is almost a given that you will be nauseous. It is part of that adrenal pump. It will pass if you act. The grapefruit and snakes are just another part of this. You may feel that you have to defecate, urinate, or throw up, you may HAVE to. You may feel faint as your blood is reallocated, put your head between your knees.

Time distortion: This comes in two flavors, either speeded up or slowed down. The usual is slowed down. An unusual function of the brain this can allow you to think and accomplish many things seemingly at once. You are in a slow motion movie and have time to think it all out. It seems that you are operating at high-speed as the world around you slows down. Yeah that “Matrix” slo-mo is real.

Loss of fine motor skills: You are not going to be threading any needles. In fact some simple things will be quite difficult for you. You will be all thumbs. You will misjudge distances, over or under reach. A good reason to train in basic functions so your muscle memory accomplishes those tasks. Keep things simple, you will not have the skill to accomplish the complex.

Tunnel vision; your intense concentration and focus on the threat at hand will cause you to experience tunnel vision a loss of your peripheral vision. It is exactly what it implies; as if you are in a large drainage culvert with the walls closing around you. You will have a tendency to try to back out of this situation in an attempt to regain your peripheral vision.

Nerves jumping: Your legs or arms may start a “dance” shaking uncontrollably with a feeling of weakness in your knees. This is the flood of adrenaline pouring into your system telling you it is time to run from that Tiger. Act, use that juice, it will pass.

Dealing with the fallen:

Your natural inclination to the wounded will be to stop and help. The motivation of a close friendship or even more likely a loved one in distress will be hard to overcome. You must. The sooner that you can resolve the conflict, the sooner that proper aid can be rendered. Your stopping just further reduces the effectiveness of the group and could lead to all being lost. I am not saying that if you are behind cover during a lull that you should not render first aid, from THEIR IFAK. You should by all means. In the heat of battle though, press the attack it is the best for all concerned.

The best defense is a good offense:

Usually good advice, but I feel that in a prepper situation this could prove deadly. Offensive maneuvers are the work of trained military with endless reserves of men and materials. You will have neither. Your best defense is a great fortified defensive position with excellent cover, fighting positions, fall back positions, communications, improvised force multipliers and a defensive plan that has been trained. The IDF built the Merkova tank, the only one made with the engine in the front. Crew survivability was their number one criteria. They said “we can always build another tank, we only have a limited supply of men” This should also be your philosophy. It is also generally understood that it requires a minimal force of 3 to 1 to overcome a defensive position. This figure improves even more with natural barriers such as rivers and force multipliers

I bet you thought that this was going to be a “How to kill the enemy” article.  Sorry, it is not. In an oblique way it is, in that it will give you at least a vague idea of what you can expect to happen to you in combat and why it is happening. Consider it training. You will have been there before, at least in words, and it will not come as a complete surprise to you.

The how to kill the enemy is important and rather than try to write It, which would be encyclopedic, I would refer you to Southernprepper1 and his new You Tube series. He is covering the basics of cover, concealment, fire and maneuver from the ground up for the novice. It is a very instructive series. Watch it. I would also recommend Maineprepper videos. I am sure that now that he is retired military he will be addressing the real Nitti gritty.

In closing I would like to share with you an excerpt from probably the first prepper book I ever bought back in 1979. THE SOLDIERS HANDBOOK  by Lt.Col. Anthony B. Herbert, a man I greatly admire. This was an extremely limited edition that was a compendium of all military forces spec ops handbooks and black manuals of the time as well as sage advice from Col. Herbert. It cost me $100.00, a king’s ransom at the time for me, but worth it if only for this:


“Courage, stripped away from the poetry, is no more than performance in a situation or environment in a way in which others within that same situation or environment admire, because they feel it to have been beyond their capabilities. Sometimes it means no more than just “keeping cool”, when others can’t. Sometimes it means a little more, like staying in control of your and their environment when they lead themselves to believe that same environment is in control and they are now in effect its victims. Environments or situations span the spectrum from the battlefield to the office-from fighting as a member of a team to facing certain death alone, from having to stand by unable to help while loved ones die, having to accept the responsibility for anything and everything that occurs within your environment.

         No one is ever solely a victim. In the worst of most damaging of situations each man has a variety of ways in which he can act or go. The outcomes are therefore the result of actions and not the result of being forced by the situation to react in the only way still possible. Where one man drowns, another man enjoys a swim, because he has learned a skill. Learn then, those skills which are important to your survival. Courage is. And courage can be learned.

Right now stop. Convince yourself of a truth we banter about lightly without ever taking the time to understand. Take the time now. Really consider and think about this next sentence. “Everyone has to die.” It’s true. It’s really so. Every one of us are truly, without question, going to die. Get it into your head. Convince yourself. Take the time now and actually convince yourself of that one important fact of your life-You Are Going To Die. The only questions remaining are “When” and “How”.

When? No one knows. It could occur at any time. How? It can be with courage or in fear. You cannot control the ‘When” But you can the “How” just make sure you are not caught unaware. Don’t get caught dying a coward when you can go with even less difficulty as a hero. So don’t put off being brave. Teach yourself now. Begin to be courageous now, and continue to be; each time as if it’s the last chance you’re ever going to get to go out in a blaze of glory. Try it. It doesn’t take long. And before long it will become habit. If you’re going to die, and you are, then why the hell not take advantage of the situation and play out the “How” as your choice instead of as if it where someone else’s. Make up your mind to die when the time comes and you’ll begin to live like a man. Right then……..” (Col Herbert was America’s most decorated soldier and where ever he is I thank him for his extraordinary service and his words.).

Hopefully I have helped you to envision your future and overcome your fears when that time comes.

Regards and long live the Republic, D.

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  1. One of the best articles I’ve ever read on this site!
    Thanks for all the good information.
    Prepare for the worst, and expect the best, when the SHTF, when TEOTWAWKI comes, how you react will determine which members of your family live or die.

    Hey Rourke, this article should win a prize.

  2. Really good synopsis. You missed the smell – burnt powder, sweat, half cooked meat, bodily fluids and waste, smoke, and some that simply have no description.

    I don’t care what kind of training you’ve done, once your targets start shooting back it’s a whole new experience. You’ll never look at your E-Tool the same way after you clean recognizable body parts off of it.

    I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity – General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    War is delightful to those who have no experience of it – Desiderius Erasmus

  3. He who hesitates is lunch….

    and the other adage I have lived by is what I told my daughter when she was trying to right a paper on “evolution” many years ago. She asked me, “Dad what does evolution mean? I have to right a paper on it”. I said ” I can sum that up in one sentence; “Mutate, Migrate, Adapt or DIE!”

  4. At Harry, yeah and you never forget the smell as long as you live. I have also found that over the years certain sounds or smells will trigger that certain “Lizard” brain effect or battle mode in your head some times. And the sound of the crack and wizz as a rounds buzzes next to you, to close. I have my old mess tin with a hole in it from a bad shot from a sniper while I waiting in a chow line. I keep it as a reminder.

  5. Well said. I have talked with the troops on many occasions about this very same subject from 1971 to 2010 when I retired. I wish I had these words at those times. Worth a prize of some kind.
    I hear the young warriors today who can’t wait for the fight- they don’t know how bad it will be, what it will cost them and their families. It is an honor to serve our Country, but the memories will haunt us to our graves.
    Be Prepared – Be Prayerful – Be Thankful – You are an American

  6. @ Harry and Badger… You’re right… I remember the smell of battle. Sometimes it was so bad that I would put Vick’s Vapor Rub on my upper lip and force myself to breath through my mouth. It helped a little but it won’t erase the memory of it…

  7. Ditto. I couldn’t submit anything close to this article…and I have some writing skills. This fella’ nailed it! This covers psychology prep’ in only a way the experienced can. Just give the guy the prize. It is a no-brainer. Peace. 🙂

  8. Excellent article. Shows experience and feeling. Anyone who says they are not or were not scared in combat is either a liar or a fool or dead. Fear can be a good thing used properly. It can also get you killed . Everyone knows about plan A and plan B but in real shooting plan C and D E and so forth may be needed. If you can maintain your head around you when others are losing theirs (famous quote by someone) you are 2 steps ahead of your adversary. Well written and accurate article and much better than trying to teach combat to non combat citizens. That would take more space than you want to use. Enjoyed the article. My advice is to avoid combat if at all possible even if you have numbers, terrain and every other advantage on you side, someone could get wounded or dead. Bad day.

    Jack Fallin, Semper Fi

  9. Bravo. I highly enjoyed this, one of the best articles I have read. Both well written and informative, I commend the author for sharing his knowledge with us.

  10. 100% agree with Jack except on one small point – RLTW. To all the Vets, thanks for serving. Absent companions.

  11. John, Harry, Ranger, Jeff, Clinton, Jack, Jesse, Catherine et all:
    Thank you for the praise. I kinda knew this would be a good one, it took quite a while to get it out of my head and written.
    Harry, Re: Smell.
    You are right, I missed it. Blame it on my PTSD. I once had to fight a tank that had blood and tissue spattered inside the turret from a RPG penetration that took out two Crew/Friends. Operating in the heat imbedded that smell so completely that to this day I have trouble with so much as a BBQ. I don’t even care to think about it, and I guess I didn’t…….Also RLTW? Re-Load The Weapon??
    Thanks again to all. Regards, D.

  12. RLTW, really, FILO, first in last out, my NCO was fond of reminding me. It really doesn’t matter I have learned to respect anyone from army pukes, navy seals, Air Force country clubbers to marine jarheads that did their jobs whatever it was and lived. The article wins in my book and anyone who wore the uniform deserves the respect. Keep your head down and your powder dry and your wits about you. “Only the dead have seen the end of war”, Plato
    Semper Fi,


  13. Harry et all;
    I also didn’t venture into the fact that the dead and severely wounded lose control of their bodily functions and basically shit their pants. The heat and humidity that turned a body black and bloated and began coruption in mere hours. Or that weird rictus that put a shit eatin’ grin on some of the dead that made you wonder if they knew something you didn’t. Jack and Plato had it right “Only the dead……” Respect, to fallen friends and warriors all. Semper Fidelis, D.

  14. D,
    I was just yanking your chain – DOD paid us all to be the sharp end of the spear and let the folks back in the World keep the home fires burning. I have a number of friends who were Marines; they’re easy to spot around the house as they can’t play poker worth beans.

    War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend – The Two Towers, JRR Tolkien

  15. Harry;
    Were Marines? They are still Marines, just no longer manning the parapets. Just ask them! Regards, D. (Dontcha just love these pissing contests?)

  16. Jeez, you mean to tell me I’ve been wasting perfectly good home brew on a bunch of jarheads just so I could take their money at the poker table – shocking! It was bad enough when middle son became a squid, now you’re telling me my buddies still consider themselves one of Uncle Sams Misguided Children – horrors! Now I know why all of them want high capacity mags, they were never taught how to make one shot = one kill.

    How does that little ditty go? If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven’s scenes; they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.

    Definitely no longer lean and no longer mean, I still appreciate their service.

    I prefer the term “verbal jousting”, pissing contests tend to get smelly.

  17. Amen and thanks to all of you. I pray for our boys in the sandbox because they
    Are in it deep. Bless all who served, are serving and those who love them for they are the true inheritors. Maybe next time we can get those old congress men to jump into the mess. Wars are always started by old men who should know better and fought by the young who sometimes don’t live to get old enough to learn any better. We should have congress fight the next one and I bet there wouldn’t be another one. Back on subject, if you act crazy enough in combat sometimes you can scare the enemy to death, act of desperation but I have seen it work. Not reccommended though. Thanks again for the article and I do not miss that smell at all. As was once said ( peace through superior firepower) ( walk softly and carry an M-79).
    Jack. Semper Fi

  18. Harry:
    They probably just consider it another bar with a high cover charge. As to that one shot-one kill. Tell it to Carlos Hathcock! BTW the difference between the Army and Marine Corps, is that we have ADULT leadership. Naaah! D.

  19. D,
    Zing – never thought of that.

    I’ll see you Carlos Hathcock and raise you Adelbert Waldron. How about we both drink a silent toast to Chris Kyle and call it even?

    Your definition of ADULT may be somewhat loose.

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