Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Resistance S4: The Logistics of Successful Cache Plan Development

Of the four major aspects of support in military and paramilitary operations--personnel, intelligence, operations, and logistics--the fourth is often the most misunderstood by aspiring students of resistance theory and history. As the oft-cited cliche so accurately states, "Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics." When Napolean famously stated that "An army travels on its stomach," he wasn't talking specifically about the quality of the food in the French military, but about the importance of ensuring that the logistics train managed to keep pace with the fighting force, in order to keep the men re-supplied and fed.

For the inexperienced, the amount of material logistics support necessary to support even a single twelve-man SF ODA over the course of a six-month long deployment can be mind-numbingly massive (plane loads, not duffel bags full). The idea that a resistance cell will grab their individual rucksacks, LBEs, and weapons, and run off to the woods to fight it out in some Red Dawn, live-off-the-land scenario is a fantasy of hubris at its best. At its worst, it's just fucking stupid.

Similarly naive however, is the typical survivalist/prepper idea that, in a totalitarian regime, ruled by the force of ninja-clad stormtroopers who kick in doors at 0300, stomp puppies to death, and jerk citizens from their beds by the hair, a stockpile of food and supplies in the pantry and basement will be adequate or secure.

The key to successful logistics support if a resistance movement is the establishment, by both individual tactical cells as well as dedicated auxiliary logistics networks, of widespread, secure, and well-equipped caches of critical supplies (for the record, it's pronounced "cash," "cashes," and "cashed," not "cashay," "cashayes," and "cashayed!"). Caching is the process of hiding equipment or other necessary logistics materials in secure storage locations with the express intent to later recover those materials for future use (hiding them without the intent of later recovery is referred to as "losing shit.") In a resistance movement, cached materials may provide numerous benefits to resistance forces. They may meet the emergency needs of personnel for items that can no longer be procured on the open or black markets, due to regime interference or lack of supply, or they may provide necessary travel documents and funds for the initiation of escape-and-evasion corridors by compromised personnel. Most critically perhaps, caching provides a realistic supply solution for long-term operations conducted over wide areas, far from secure bases of operations. In the specific words of the doctrinal literature on caching for UW, "caching can also provide for anticipated needs of war time operations in areas likely to be overrun by the enemy."

Cache Planning Considerations

Selection of the specific contents of any particular cache requires a thorough analysis, careful estimation, and more than a little scientific, wild-ass guessing (technically termed "SWAG"), regarding the needs of particular resistance elements for particular operations. Fortunately, we still have the benefit that procurement of most of the likely candidate items for future re-supply caches currently pose no significant difficulties. In fact, as has been repeatedly belabored in this blog previously, the relative ease of procurement before hostilities become any more heated is the major benefit in favor of caching logistics materials now (fundamentally, it goes back to a previously asked question. How serious are you? Is it real, or are you playing "Gus the Guerrilla" so you can dress up in multi-cam and shoot guns?)

Planners, whether members of an individual tactical cell, or a dedicated auxiliary logistics cell, must determine the purpose and contents of specific caches, since these basic factors influence the location of the cache and the necessary methods of concealment. A cache containing liquid assets, such as silver or similarly small, readily concealable items may be established in relatively accessible places, since the recovery agent of the cache can simply conceal the contents on his person with ease. A cache of rifles and ammunition for a raiding party however, will require establishment in a less accessible, more remote location, since hiding the weapons from casual observation will require more effort than simply shoving them in a pocket (honestly, one of the few benefits I can see of owning AKMs, other than the fact that there are hundreds of millions, of not billions of 7.62x39mm ammunition floating around this country, is the convenience of a being able to conceal a folding stock AKM under a jacket like a Carhartt barn jacket).

Further, certain items, such as medical items like antibiotics, painkillers, IV saline bags, and other consumables do possess limited shelf-life and may require periodic rotation or other specific storage considerations. This may require easy access for the planners to service these caches, as needed. Ultimately, resistance planners must balance the logistical objectives of the cache with the actual possibilities when selecting items and locations for a cache. Realistic options for items included in re-supply caches may include, but certainly not be limited to: money, weapons and ammunition, explosives components, medical supplies, tools, food and water (water purification methods may be more appropriate in many environmental areas), batteries (overlooked far too often by amateur guerrillas. Realistically in modern conflict, even guerrilla warfare, combatant elements will go through batteries like shit through a goose), clothing, and spare/replacement load-bearing equipment (I utilize ALICE load-outs for cached load-bearing equipment, since it's cheap and will suffice, even if it's not as ideal as my current or future load-outs. If I'm to the point of relying on LBE cached months or years before, I'm probably not going to be too particular about how Gucci it is. If it's gear to outfit new resistance recruits, they don't get to be picky).

When planning a resistance supply cache, planners absolutely must remember that "the enemy gets a vote." The successful recovery of a combat re-supply cache will ultimately depend on how well the planners anticipated the various obstacles to successful recovery, which will be created, intentionally or not, by the enemy if he occupies the area of the cache. Hiding a weapons cache in a small meadow surrounded by brushy woods because it is near the junction of several major roads may seem ideal, since it's hidden and yet readily accessible. Unfortunately, those same considerations may lead the regime to decide to plant an encampment of security forces troops there. It might be difficult to recover a buried barrel of M4s when there are a bunch of guys in blue helmets with funny accents eating supper over the top of it. Further, future non-conflict related obstacles may arise (Anyone remember the incident last year when an arms cache was found buried under the right-of-way for a highway being constructed? I personally know of a guy in the northern Rockies who has several cases of dynamite cached. Unfortunately, it is now buried about eighteen feet below a road-side DOT weigh station).

In addition to regime security forces activities, actions of the local civilian populace may interfere with the security and/or recovery of caches. Planners must project how the local populace will react to the pressures of occupation/war-time living. One likely reaction is that many people, even those unaligned with the resistance, will resort to caching their personal and family valuables to prevent theft or confiscation by either criminals or the regime (but then, I repeat myself, right?). In such an event, ideal cache locations may become too well-traveled for the security of recovery teams, as well as gaining greater scrutiny by security force intelligence units looking for such cached materials.

Often overlooked in theoretical discussions of supply caches is the actual task of transporting the materials to be cached to the location. The most secure packaging of cached items is performed in secure areas, rather than in the field or at the cache location. While it may be simpler to transport a pre-packaged supply of cache items to the cache site from a safe house, than to transport the goods and the packaging material, it will still not be a simple task (consider the weight and space needs for a cache of six M4s, plus a basic load of 210-330 rounds each, or for food supplies, even in dry staple items like rice and wheat, for a two-week supply for a four- or six-man element).

Finally, anyone who is involved directly in the placement of the cache, from planning the location, to actually placing the cache in its determined location will know where the cache is located and is thus subject to compromising that cache location if captured and interrogated (as we will discuss in a forthcoming article, if you are captured and interrogated, you WILL talk. Everyone talks. It doesn't matter how tough you think you are, a skilled interrogator can break your will to resist. Unfortunately, it's even easier if the interrogator is from the same cultural background and speaks your language than it is if he's a foreign invader). The same considerations apply to recovery personnel. While a cache site that only one person knows the location and contents of is of little use to the resistance, and the members of a logistics cell will need to share the information data on various caches, there must be serious consideration given to the operational security requirements of doing so. Among these is limiting the access to information to the actual emplacement personnel and planning cell until the need for the contents of any particular cell is required, and spreading the planning and emplacement duties for various caches to various independent cells within a network.

Caching Methods

The specific methods used to cache materials for future use are as varied as the people who cache those items. The most obvious (and probably the most common) method, of burying goods, may be of limited value in some operational environments (it would be harder to bury a cache of arms for a platoon-sized element of resistance fighters, with adequate ammunition, in a large urban enclave, than to hide them in attics or basements. Burying items in a swamp is far less efficient than underwater cache methods). This wide variety of possibilities open to cache planners means there is little value in laying out general rules, or even too many specific concepts for caching. Nevertheless, one rule remains inviolate when developing a network of caches for resistance supply: Planners must always think in terms of suitability. The method most suitable for each cache, considering its specific purpose, the actual and projected situations in the particular location, and the impact of possible regime courses of action.

  1. Concealment of the cache means utilizing permanent man-made or natural features to hide or disguise the cache. Focusing on superb concealment of caches offers several benefits for planners and installers. Employment and recovery of the cache can both be accomplished with minimum labor, in a minimal amount of time. Items concealed in buildings or caves are protected from the elements and extreme weather, thus requiring less elaborate packaging (a cache of medical supplies concealed in the walls of an otherwise abandoned barn or out-building may need little more than to be placed in a plastic garbage sack before being concealed). A concealed cache may be more readily accessed from time to time, in order to replace perishable items that may be nearing or past their expiration dates. The potential risk of accidental discovery of concealed caches however, means that this method is most suitable for extremely secure sites safe from search by regime security forces (concealing a stockpile of old Mosin-Nagants in the basement of the president of the local gun club would be pretty fucking pointless, no?), or situations where rapid access to the cached items is of high enough priority that it outweighs the chances that the cache will inadvertently be discovered. Concealment may range from securing a small pouch of "junk" silver coins behind a heating vent in the wall, to building a false wall in a basement to hide a cache of workshop-manufactured mortars and ammunition.
  2. While burial is not always the best option for cache establishment, there is a reason that, when people think of caches, they almost invariably consider it first. Suitable burial sites can be located damned near anywhere, and if the cache is properly established, it will be next to impossible to find, without the utilization of very expensive, highly-technological equipment, and ample amounts of time. While the security of a well-placed buried cache is without compare, unlike simple concealment, burying a cache is an extremely labor-intensive process, requires severe and thorough packaging of the cache to protect it from the burial process and the exposure it faces from dirt, moisture, burrowing fauna, etc.
    Burial of caches almost invariably requires the use of specialized containers and/or special wrapping to protect the contents from the environment. Emplacement and recovery of a buried cache often takes so long that it can only be accomplished during the night, to preclude discovery, unless the cache site is placed in such a ridiculously remote location as to completely preclude any effective usefulness whatsoever. It can be extremely difficult, even for the initial emplacement element, to successfully locate and recover a buried cache after any length of time.
  3. One method of cache emplacement that is often overlooked (for good reason) is the submersion method. If the cache is properly prepared; and the cache site is genuinely secure; and the recovery team can actually locate it; and the tides or currents don't move the cache in the intervening time between emplacement and recovery, the submersion method may work. However, submersion sites that are suitable for secure concealment of a cache of any size are exceedingly rare, even in swamp/jungle environments. Further, the container for a submerged cache must be of such high quality that it almost requires the use of specially-manufactured containers to ensure adequate water-proofing and protection from other external pressures. Field expedients are seldom successful.

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