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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Shadow living - Part 4 - Gear for your operations

What to Bring on Operations and When to Bring It


In the shadows, having the right gear can mean the difference between success and failure. You won't need a lot of gear for operations, but the gear you do have must be specially selected to suit your needs each and every time. Try to carry as little as possible to complete your operation, keeping mobility in mind.

Clothing

When entering the shadows, you must cover yourself from head to toe. This is because your skin does not match the night, and/or because it allows anyone that sees you to know just a couple more facts about you. Try to avoid baggy clothing, as it makes more noise, and is easier to snag on obstacles. Every clothing type has its advantages and disadvantages. I will try to cover each type suitable for operations as best as I can.

Dark Solids

Can be anything from jeans and a sweater to BDUs. The former works suitably if it's all you've got, but you should try to upgrade to BDUs as soon as possible as they are generally more durable and have more pockets to store equipment and loot in. As far as actual colors are concerned, dark blue is the best overall as blue is hardest for the eye to pick up, plus is just light enough to match the night. Black works good, and dark greens, reds, browns, purples, and grays can be used in a pinch as well. Avoid anything with yellows or whites in it, including said colors as well as pink, orange, etc. Something to think about; black is generally superior to blue when laying down, since if a light comes near you, it'll probably pass over. If the light hits blue however, that's a good reason to investigate.

Solids work best in an urban environment where the operative is surrounded by large shadows and solid shapes. Also, if you are hit by a light and are standing, you are as good as caught. If you are lying down however, you are decently hid.

White Solid

Only for use in heavy snow when everything else is solid white. Can be an actual suit or a pair of light, light khakis and white sweater. If you use this, make sure you lay in the snow when something approaches, as you are easy to spot when standing, even in snow at night.

Camouflage - Woodland

Useful when the time is right, woodland camo BDUs work excellent in green leafy surroundings, including areas with grass, leafy trees, bushes, and green weeds. Since they are BDUs, they hold cargo well. Woodland camo works good in other areas such as coniferous forests as well, just be careful to stay out of places with no green, including roads, walkways, dirt piles, rock mounds, and don't sit against walls for too long. As a bonus, woodland is superior to solids in that it not only makes it harder to identify you as human, but you blend into greenery better should a light be shined on you.

Camouflage - Desert

Not good for much, as the pattern is light, but as the name implies it would work decent in an actual desert. Try to go for something else instead.

Camouflage - Jungle Tigerstripe

This camo is sort of a mixed bag. As the name implies, it is in fact good in jungles and thick wooded areas, but as soon as you step out into an open area you stick out like a sore thumb. This means you must stick to heavy woods, tall grass, and bushes. At nighttime, these are good hiding places as it is, so you may as well go with dark solids. What saves it is that a person in this camo is very hard to identify as a human. Furthermore, when in your appropriate terrain, you have little worry should a light hit you.

Camouflage - Urban

Garbage. It isn't good in urban settings because of all the white, and the pattern doesn't match up with anything you'll find in a building, unless of course you happen to find a black and white plant. It doesn't work in snow well either, unless you stay around dense brush, in which case a solid white pattern would work just as well.

Camouflage - Subdued Urban

It works decent in dark urban settings, where the light blues seem to really break up your outline. If a light hits you, the camo offers no quarter as you'll be easy to identify as a human. Probably best to just go with a solid, where you have more places you can go.

Ghuille Suit

Limited uses. While it's true that it offers you the absolute best cover in a given environment, the ghuille suit makes it hard for you to access equipment, as well as cross fences. Try crossing barbed wire in one and see for yourself. If you want to recon, and there are no fences in your path however, give it a try. Otherwise the suit becomes a nightmare.

3D Camouflage

Treat it like a blend of a ghuille suit with conventional camouflage. Unfortunately, it still has many of the shortcomings as a ghuille suit, including the snagging problems and gear accessibility. Limited uses.

Masks

I list masks here because there is a significant variety out there, each of which need a mention or two. An operative should always wear a mask as it conceals his features, and helps him blend with the shadows better.

Ski Mask

Fairly generic, these are good for cold weather as they are warm, yet have good breathing holes. Usually only come in solid colors, and may or may not cover anything above the nose. If not, you'll need a cap of some sort as well. In warmer weather however, be advised that they can become very irritable.

Eye Cut Mask - No Mouth

The masks that cover the entire head, save the eyes. It may have one big eyehole (balaclava) or two eyeholes. The former exposes more flesh, but the latter makes glancing difficult, both of which are crucial when light is hitting you. It's a compromise you'll have to decide on. Can come in any color or pattern, though black seems to go with any set-up besides snow. The heavy, cold weather ones are useful in their season, but the cheap cotton ones are desirable as the are easier to breath through, cooler in summer, and can fold up into a stocking cap when it is safe to expose you face (i.e. in a field) so that you can cool off.

Eye Cut Mask - Mouth Hole

The mouth hole very useful in the summer as it allows you to breathe easier. Also, not having a hole here can make your throat scratchy, causing you to cough when it's least convenient. The tradeoff of course is that you expose more to light. Not too big of a problem though. Acceptable for cold weather as well.

Handkerchief Mask

The outlaw classic - a simply hanky turned into a mask. It's cheap and has multiple uses. The only major downside is that you need to wear them in conjunction with a hat.

Cloth Mask

Cloth wrapped around you so that it covers your head as well as masks your face. This is actually pretty comfortable, and when created correctly, will stay firm to your head yet allow you to breath well.

Hats

Depending on the mask you wear, you may or may not need a hat on your head. Hats are important because they hide your hair and your skin tones. Once again there is a variety, with each hat having advantages and disadvantages.

Beanie

A simple stocking cap, comes in most colors and patterns. Ideal with a ski mask, and can even be worn over an eye cut mask if your head gets too cold.

Bandana

Same advantages as a beanie, except not as warm, making it the hat of choice for warmer nights.

Baseball Cap

Fairly warm, and the bill has two good uses. One is when wearing the hat normal, it allows you to peer from underneath the bill, protecting your eyes from light and cameras. The second is gained by wearing it backwards. In this manner, the neck is covered if you are wearing a low-neck shirt and a handkerchief mask. The downside is that unless it is firmly fit, it can blow off a little too easily. Comes in all colors and patterns

Boonie Hat

Basically a baseball cap with both bill advantages, and boonie hats usually have a neck cord so that if it blows off, you can simply put the hat back on. All colors and patterns.

Footwear

Like all types of clothing, there is a variety of footwear available. You need footwear for obvious reasons, unless you plan on getting busted from your "footprints", and believe me, they'd check if you got caught.

High Top Boots

This variety of boot offers the most protection and support for the ankles, but they are also the most cumbersome to walk and run in. No real sense in using them unless you are expecting your shins to take a beating from something. They are also squeakier than other varieties.

Medium Top Boots

The common type of boot, this is the kind you see worn by most armed forces. They come with a variety of sole patterns and materials. Your ideal pair would be offer good traction, be silent, waterproof - with priorities in that order. These still offer good mobility with the support you'd expect from a boot.

High Top Tennis Shoes

Your common high top shoe. Sacrifices a little support for speed, as these are usually lighter than a boot. Outdoor varieties offer good traction and are waterproof as well, while remaining silence. A worthy choice when paired against medium top boots.

Low Top Tennis Shoes

Sacrifice even more support for more speed. You can run the fastest in these things, they are usually silence, and they offer fair traction. Unfortunately, water means getting your feet wet - waterproof or not - and you can count on dirt and rocks getting in there if you don't stay strictly in urban terrain.

Tabi Boots

These are essentially socks with a split toe sole. As such they are silent, lightweight, and some types are waterproof neoprene. The bad is that they can tear on some fences, offer almost no support, and you can stub your toes pretty badly. Finally, don't let anything land on your toes either...

Socks

Why include socks? Because they are important for more than just lining shoes and boots. Worn alone, they are silent and light, although they offer no support. They can also be worn over boots to muffle the sound slightly and destroy the sole pattern. Unfortunately, this sacrifices traction. You may wish to wear footwear that is easy to slip out of, and only wear socks across loud surfaces such as a hardwood floor.

There are many features of boots and shoes to choose from as well, some of which may interest you. Felt soled shoes, for example, are extremely silent, yet they lose traction on solid surfaces. There are also accessories, such as boot spikes that can make climbing certain trees easier, at the expense of leaving evidence aplenty. You'll have to decide what is appropriate to use, and when.

Gloves

Gloves are probably the most essential piece of gear you'll ever own. They keep your hands warm in the cold, blend your hands in with the surroundings, and eliminate fingerprints. You may also need them to get a better grip on things such as metal ladders and rooftops. These are not an option on any operation. Here is a list of common materials used in their making:

Latex

Common medical gloves, these have several advantages. They are lightweight, allow you maintain dexterity, and offer decent grip. The downside is that they are cold in winter and they tear VERY easily, especially considering that they'll make your hands sweat like hell. Also, they are hard to come by in anything other than white, which sticks out like a sore thumb. If you are going to use them, wear cotton ones over the top until you need dexterity. I should also add that these need to be a certain thickness, lest your prints transfer right through onto solid surfaces anyways.

Cotton

Cool, breathable, yet decently warm in the cold. The problems are that they are bulky and soft in a manner that makes minute tasks difficult, offer little grip, and tear easily on barbed wire. Still, an alright choice. There is a variety out that has rubberized grips, eliminating the traction problem on metal surfaces.

Leather

Very tough, and offer a decent grip on things, yet they make it nearly impossible to perform certain tasks such as unlocking doors or windows. Also, if the gloves don't fit you perfectly, you seem to lose even more dexterity. Finally, they leave a print on things which can be traced back to them. Not a problem so long as the gloves are never tested. If you decide you use leather gloves, choose a pair without a liner, as it makes them easier to use during the operation.

Kevlar

Tough, light, breathable, and having a good grip, Kevlar is hard beat. They still give you fair manual dexterity, yet they are hard to tear. They can still snag on sharp objects, but they won't tear open. Highly recommended.

Once you've picked the best clothing for your mission, it's time to move on to your tools. It is best to place most of these on a belt, either one that holds up your pants, or a pistol belt, so that you have fast access to them and they won't get lost or fall out like they would in your pockets. Here's a list of tools and equipment you may need on operations, what they are good for, and their varieties if applicable.

Load Bearing Equipment

If you are carrying any equipment, obviously you need a place to put it. Here are the common varieties, and when they are best utilized:

Pockets

Simple pockets which may be found on your pants or shirt. These carry smaller equipment, and some smaller loot. Make sure the items inside do not bounce all over the place as this can make moving awkward. Also, any pockets you put items into must either button or zip shut, or else you may lose what is inside.

Belt

A good belt which holds your pants up is great for carrying multitools, field knives, and other equipment. It has an advantage over pistol belts in the fact that they are more secured to you, causing less bouncing when jumping and climbing. Finally, if you are hurting for a weapon, a belt with a decently heavy buckle can be used as a flail.

Pistol Belt

Wide belt which lays outside of your clothing. Superior over belts in that they can hold more equipment, is easier to access, and can be quickly removed in times of need (like entering a small window). The only drawback is that they can bounce around sometimes, causing minor mobility problems, but is generally nothing that will upset you.

Backpack

A good, dark backpack is invaluable on a lot of operations as it can carry larger equipment and loot. You'll probably be using one often. A small, school bag is usually fine for most purposes. If you are after a big catch, like an entire computer set, a large rucksack is better. Keep mobility issues in mind however.

Belt Pouch

If you need to carry smaller gear only, you may opt to use a pouch instead of a backpack. Good examples are magazine pouches, grenade pouches, and fanny packs.

Load Bearing Vest (LBV)

These combine the best of a pistol belt, regular belt, and belt pouches. Lots of compartments for storing items, secured to you, and can be removed relatively fast when you need to get into a narrow area.

Knives

Knives are an essential tool on operations. They are useful for cutting cords, sharpening sticks, prying light objects, defense, and many other tasks. Stay away from stainless steel if possible, opting for carbon steel instead. Also, it is important that the entire knife is a dark color to eliminate drawing attention to yourself. If there are shiny snaps, then cover them with tape or paint. Finally, a sheathed knife should never rattle, so try to get either a leather or nylon sheath for operations.

Field Knife - Drop Point

A standard on rural operations, you'll find yourself using this kind of knife often. Good for prying open windows, chipping away at wooden frames (to access bypass doorknobs), cutting strings, and are perfect for making improvised equipment in the field. Also good for defending from attackers. The blade should be about five inches, give or take an inch. Be weary of longer blades, as they will makes noise when they slap against your leg while running and jumping.

Field Knife - Tanto

Tantos are overshadowed by drop point blades on all subjects except for piercing. The only thing these are better at than a drop point is stabbing. Get a drop point design instead.

Pocket Knife - Swiss Army

Has many gadgets that might come in handy sooner or later, but a lot of the stuff is mostly useless in the shadwos. Try to get a multitool instead, but if you cannot then this is a good choice to settle on.

Pocket Knife - Multitool

Absolute essential. Pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers, and small blades all in one. The downside is that everything is small, which means little reach and no prying ability. Still, comes in handy more than any other knife I've ever owned. Great for opening cabinets, RVs, trailers, and other places. If you can, try to get one with covered handles, as they are more comfortable.

Pocket Knife - Drop Point

Any generic pocket knife actually. They come in handy for small cutting tasks and puncturing some materials. Can also double as a screwdriver in a pinch.

Butterfly Knife

Useless. Does nothing a field knife can't do, and a field knife does it better.

Throwing Knife

Useless as a weapon, almost as useless as a tool. Keep this crap at home where it belongs.

Short Sword/Machete

Purely for use as a weapon. You may opt to take one if traveling in wooded areas, or where you may be attacked if caught. If possible, try to use the sword's backside for knocking a person out instead of killing them. Don't forget Rule 8.

Flashlights

Flashlights are another essential for operations. Even if you have night vision equipment, a flashlight is still smaller, cheaper, and more reliable. Remember to buy one with a dark coating, and try to get a red lens when possible, as red preserves your natural night vision, which you need.

Penlight

Small flashlight than runs on a "AAA" battery or less. Fits anywhere and gives just enough light to be useful. Great to put in a BDU pocket.

Mini Light

Flashlights of the "Minimag" or similar variety that operate on "AA" batteries. One of the best available for use during operations.

Crook Neck Flashlight

Military style lights with the clips on them. Small enough to store like a mini light, but the neck and clip allow this to attach to your shirt giving you two free hands. Good asset to have on ops where both hands are needed.

Head Lamps

A small LED lamp with red and white LEDs yet another good choice. Hands free operation, and a cover keeps the mirroring from betraying you with shine. The problem is that is doesn't direct as well, and you cannot control the light output well by putting your hand in front of it.

Maglite

Big "C" and "D" cell flashlights. These things are too big and heavy to carry on your belt. What's more, they put out much more light than is practical. They make a better club than anything else. An expensive one at that.

Optics

In recon, nothing is more essential than having the right optics on you. It can range from a simple pair of mini binoculars to a set of Generation IV night vision goggles, having something that helps you see better is always a good thing. Be sure that the glare from the lenses cannot be seen when light is shone on them.

Mini Binoculars

These are great for carrying around when you aren't really expecting the need to scope something out, but might need to anyways. Never assume, may as well take a pair along. They don't weigh much, and fit inside a pouch which will fit on your belt.

Binoculars

Your average sized pair of binoculars. Perfect for recon when you need to get a good view of your objective yet remain mobile. Don't take these along for general purposes however, as they bounce around and tend to get in the way when entering windows and such. They could always go inside of a backpack though.

Astronomer Binoculars

Basically a twin set of spotting scopes. Not bad for static recon, or even mobile recon if you can steady the binoculars on something. You might be better off with a scope though.

Scope

A rifle scope. With these you can get up close to something, yet the scope is easy to carry. If you need to steady it, just prop it on some rocks or dirt.

Spotting Scope

A higher-powered scope, it will get very close in on a target. The problem is that the field of view isn't very large, so you may need to bring a pair of binoculars along as well. Only good for static recon operations. You can try to save weight and bulk by ditching the tripod if you think you'll be able to improvise on the site.

Night Vision Monocular

Good for stationary viewing, but not while walking. Some models zoom in a good distance, making them good for peering further into the dark.

Night Vision Goggles

Made for traveling, these simply attach to your head and you walk around with them on. The big problem with this is the weight of the unit. Your head may begin to feel like it's going to fall off after a few hours of wearing it. Also, if a light is suddenly shined into the unit, it could destroy it, as well as your vision. Speaking of which, using this as well as the monocular sacrifices all of your natural night vision. I personally don't recommend a pair of these at all.

Tools

Tools in this context refers to the tools we all think of when we think of the word, such as wrenches, screwdrivers, and hammers. Tools are essential on some operations as they allow you to do what your standard equipment will not. Most tools will have to fit inside of a pack. Any that are exposed, such as a large pair of bolt cutters, must be darkened entirely to defeat glare. Also, most tools listed can also be used as weapon in a pinch, should such an occasion arise.

Screwdrivers

A large, flathead screwdriver should always be with you. Be sure it is one that can withstand rigorous prying. It is lighter than a crowbar, and almost as effective. Phillips head screwdrivers aren't used as much, but still are needed occasionally. Bring one only when you know you'll need it. One good idea may be to bring one with multiple heads so it had many purposes. While it won't pry, it'll do what it's meant for a lot better. If you think you'll need better prying power, bring a pry bar instead.

Socket Wrenches

Needed to unscrew bolts quickly. Again, bring only when you know you'll need one. True story: I've seen first hand, an operative unscrew an entire metal sheet panel from a garage with one of these just to get inside. Not recommended, but it should bring up some ideas in your mind.

Hacksaw

Big, but lightweight. Can saw through materials but is also pretty loud on most. If there is no alternative for completing your mission, bring one along.

Hammer

Heavy, but good for hammering of course, and prying as well. Still, it's obsolete in the shadows because of screwdrivers and rocks.

Bolt Cutters

Perfect for chewing away metal. Works well on padlocks, hasps, sheet metal, and bolts of course. The only downside is that a good pair is bulky and heavy, but the ability to get through most obstacles outweighs that. Bring only when you know you'll need it. A pair that is about two feet long is optimal. Also replaces the need for wire cutters when you have them.

Drill

The absolute best device for getting past fixed locks, and is decent for padlocks as well. Bring one that's cordless, of course. Don't bother with hand turned ones. They may be silent, but they are hard as hell to use. Make sure your drill is quiet as possible, and also that your battery is fresh off the charger. Like all big tools, bring it only if you think you'll need it.

Wire Cutters

Not necessary if you have a multitool or bolt cutters. Still, they have more cutting power than a multitool and may be handy. Bring only when you think it's necessary.

Weapons

If you think you are going to need a self-defense weapon, then by all means bring one along. There are many different types of weapons that will suit your needs and capabilities. Just make sure you know how to use them, lest they be used against you. Don't forget that you may encounter dangerous animals. Your mission may also require the use of a weapon. Be advised that carrying a weapon with you makes you more dangerous, think of the police. If you aren't careful, you may be shot. Also, don't be stupid and use a weapon everyone knows you own. Consider if the risks are worth it before taking a weapon.

Knife

Covered in the knives section, a knife actually makes a poor weapon. You'd be better off hurling rocks or finding a large stick, but if worse turns to worst, you can use one of your knives in a pinch. Should you have to, try to use the element of surprise as your asset - don't let them see the knife until it's too late!

Sword

Also covered in the knives section. Don't bother with a large claymore or katana. Instead use something small, mobile, and practical so you can take it where you need. Good for melee, but a risky choice, as your opponent may have a gun. It also has limited uses as a tool, unless you need to travel through thick brush. In such a case, it makes a good machete.

Mace

Pepper spray is great to take along at all times. Spray any attackers with it then escape. It's small, light, and effective, so there's really no reason to not take some along.

Stun gun

Good for incapacitating people, but you have to get up close to use it. Mace would seem to be the better choice. Nevertheless, a stun gun will guarantee they fall.

Sap

A high quality sap can rearrange someone's face in the hands of even a novice user. Effective, but it's still a melee weapon.

Firearm

The most effective weapon, yet the riskiest to use. It can also lead to a firefight with the police. Whether you carry a pistol for defense or a rifle for a specific mission, there are various problems. The first is that both expend shells, each of which must be collected or they will be used as evidence against you. The second is the noise. Unless you are using a silenced .22, your weapon will make a considerable amount of noise. Finally, the bullet itself can be traced to the gun if they suspect you. Carry only if you know you'll need its power.

Miscellaneous

Other devices that may prove useful on operations but don't fall into other categories. While their functions and usefulness vary universal precautions that must be taken are these: they should be dark, have no shine, not too big, and should not rattle when moving.

Wristwatch

Another staple on operations, you need to be able to keep track of time. Try to get a digital watch that has a light and a stopwatch. This way you can always see the time, record your time during the operation, and use the light for seeing in pitch black if needed. Also, a rubber shell and band is desirable as it is waterproof and stays firmly attached to the wrist. Color usually isn't important, since the watch will probably be covered by your gloves anyways, just don't bring something big and shiny.

2-Way Radio

Needed for party communications. Remember to talk in code, because you never know who's listening in. Wear a headphone so the voices aren't too loud. If possible, try to get one that encodes its messages, that way listening in becomes a chore. You can also get a headset which includes a speaker and microphone, but be sure it is off a kind that does not activate VOX mode by heavy breathing.

Police Scanner

If you can get one that is somewhat small and light, by all means get it! Know thy enemy. By knowing they're on the way, you can avoid a confrontation with the police. Remember to wear headphones with this as well.

Camera

Recon devise, useful for taking picture. Destroy all pictures taken with it. If you use a digital, use one that uses discs, and destroy the disc when you're finished with it. Cameras should only be taken for recon missions.

Tape

Always handy. Can be used to mask glare, repair equipment, make improvised equipment, or even re-camo equipment. If you carry a backpack, it may be worth your while to toss a roll in. Tape can also be used to block sensors if metallic in nature.

Lock Picking Set

Obviously needed for lock picking. Can be homemade or bought set, just make sure it's durable.

Grappling Hook

These aren't as useful as you probably hoped. In fact, there's almost never a time when a rope wouldn't fill the same spot. What's more, most hooks are cheaply built these days, so be weary when buying one. There are rarely useful, but if it's what you absolutely need though, detaching the hook after decending can be a problem. In such a case, one way to defeat this is to toss the rope over something that will hold you up when held by both ends. From there, you can place your feet in the hook, and lower yourself down using the other side of the rope. A grappling hook can also be used as a flail if needed.

Rope

The only accessory you'll need for climbing. A rope has other uses as well, such as crossing fast rivers with a party, and towing large objects. You can decend better by making a loop on one end and using the same technique as a grappling hook. This prevents the need to untie the rope from the top.

Pellet Gun

Good for eliminating lights and cameras, and is relatively quiet and lightweight. Special purpose item, not just a tool to bring every night. You may also be interested in the H-PAP experiment below.

Slingshot

Also good for eliminating lights and cameras. Quieter and lighter than a pellet gun, but is less accurate. Can also create distractions from further away. If you have a good one, go ahead and carry it.

Spray Paint

Covered cameras, lights, and sensors. Get black paint. Can also be used to darken gear in a pinch. Wrap it in some sort of cloth to keep it from making too much noise in your pack.

Graphite Dust

Useful for picking up fingerprints on control panels. Can be bought, or made by gathering mechanical pencil lead, placing inside a durable ziplock bag, and crushing with a pair of pliers.

Smoke Bombs

Almost useless. They wouldn't conceal you as anyone can cross the smoke, and from far away they would just give away your location. Then there's the issue of evidence. Don't bother. We all know how stupid the police are these days, they could consider it an explosive weapon which, in a worst case scenario, could end up with them firing on you.

Canteen

For long distance operations, you may consider taking a canteen along. Keeping hydrated is important, for various reason. Make sure your canteen is no more than one quart is size, as any bigger becomes too bulky and heavy. Also, if you have a cup, leaving it at base will drop weight.

Compass

If you think you'll need to run into the woods, bring a compass. It's easy to get turned around in the woods at night, remember that the stars and city lights may go out of view entirely. Keep track of the direction you enter, so that you'll always know where town is.

Survival Kit

Remember Rule 10, anything can happen. It is generally a good idea to take an altoid tin and put in basic things such as an alcohol swab, razor blade, fishing line, fishing hook, medical tape, matches, and any other small items you may need. Make sure it doesn't rattle, if it does, stuff toilet paper in it to stop the noise. Place it in a pocket when you're finished. You'll probably forget all about it... until you need it!

Notepad w/Pen

A small one will do. These are good for recon and writing down any other important information you run across. Remember to burn incriminating pages ASAP when finished with them.

When you have all of your gear selected, jump up and down a few times to see if anything makes noise. It so, try to hamper it as much as possible. If no solution is available, consider substituting equipment. Also make sure you are still mobile, losing as little flexibility as possible. Keep the load as light as possible, bringing only the essentials. Remember that you can always improvise in the shadows if you need to.

Gear Suggestions

After looking at all the stuff, are you unsure of what is appropriate and what isn't for your specific operations? If so, I've created a few "templates" that can be followed. They are created from what I personally take and what operatives I know in person take. You can substitute items if you don't have what is listed, or have a personal preference in something else.

Training

Enter Abandoned House or House Under Construction

Abandoned and unfinished housing provides valuable operation experience, and requires minimal gear to accomplish. Rarely are major security elements in place.

Clothing: Black (BDU optimal) solids if in town, Woodland if on outskirts of town.

Mask: Anything in black

Hat: Anything in black, or none depending on mask worn

Footwear: Anything dark and with a sole will work fine

Gloves: Black cotton will work fine

Knives: (Optional) Field Knife

Flashlights: Penlight or Mini Light

Optics: (Optional) Mini Binoculars

Tools: Large Flathead Screwdriver

Weapons: None

Misc: Survival Kit - Wristwatch - Backpack

This set-up allows you to pry open any windows and doors. You will also be able to see well inside the house, as well as outside if you brought binoculars. The survival kit may come in handy, and you probably won't even notice it's around. A backpack may come in handy if you find something you like, and a watch will keep track of time.

Recon - Obtain Combination to Building Door

Recon missions such can be simple or hard depending on what surround the building.

Clothing: Woodland BDU

Mask: Black Eye Cut Mask

Hat: None

Footwear: Black Medium Boots

Gloves: Black Cotton Gloves

Knives: (Optional) Field Knife

Flashlights: None

Optics: Spotting Scope, Astronomy Binoculars, or Best Binoculars you can get

Tools: Multitool

Weapons: None

Misc: Notepad w/pen - Survival Kit - Watch - Backpack

This set up is meant to set you in bushes, trees, or tall grass as you wait for someone to enter a combination. Remember to be out fairly early so people will still enter the building. You'll need high powered optics to not only get a good view, but do so while keeping out of range of people and any potential outdoor cameras. The notepad is for recording the combination or pattern if combo is not obtained. The backpack in this case is for storing your optical gear.

Theft - Enter RV and Liberate Audio and Video Equipment

RVs are mobile treasure chests if you strike at the right time of year. What's more, they usually lack complicated security, and even if they do, they can be severed easily. The bathroom vent trick is almost always an option.

Clothing: Black or Woodland BDU, depending on setting

Mask: Black Eye Cut

Hat: None

Footwear: Black Medium Boots

Gloves: Dark Kevlar, or cotton if unavailable

Knives: (Optional) Field Knife

Flashlights: Penlight

Optics: None

Tools: Multitool - Large Screw Driver - Lock Pick Set

Weapons: Any (Optional)

Misc: Watch - Backpack - Survival Kit

th these three tools, you'll have multiple means of entry. You will also be able to liberate stereos, VCRs, DVD players, TVs, etc. The backpack in this case is meant to carry the loot.

Theft - Enter Shed and Liberate Equipment

Sheds may have very valuable equipment stored away by someone, and they usually lack decent security. For this reason, they require only basic gear.

Clothing: Black BDUs

Mask: Black Eye Cut

Hat: None

Footwear: Black Medium Boots

Gloves: Black Kevlar

Knives: Field Knife

Flashlights: Mini Light

Optics: None

Tools: Multitool - Bolt Cutters

Weapons: Any (Optional)

Misc: Watch - Backpack - Survival Kit

Once again the backpack serves to carry liberated equipment. The bolt cutters are to cut any padlocks that would impede you.

You should get the basic idea. Field knife, multitool, mini light, backpack, survival kit, large screwdriver and a watch are you bare bones equipment. With these you can accomplish quite a bit. In fact, they are what I personally carry with me on just about every operation, along with any specialized gear I may need.

If you cannot get the gear you need, perhaps you should consider running a simple operation to get yourself equipped. The best place to do this is at a ranch. Even the best of ranches usually pass security up, leaving them wide open. The only thing to worry about is dogs barking. It is true that a crazy rancher may try to shoot you with a rifle (and they probably won't miss if they sight you), but as long as you don't act stupid they shouldn't pose too much of a threat. Ranches can offer you tools, maps, guns, and other gear you'll need.

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