Monday, October 12, 2020

Home-field advantage: Setting up the pieces


***Note from the author: This is fiction. Since this is far outside my normal areas of expertise, I am extremely grateful when readers point out major errors. Please continue to do so***

Suddenly, I was a purchasing officer.

I was sitting in on the three-times-a-day meetings between Alex (leader of the neighborhood), Brad and Darryl. When I wasn’t with Brad I was scrounging equipment to use for the defense.

The challenge of purchasing is that it takes time to spend money. I know that seems odd to somebody with a daffy relative who watches Home Shopping Network.

It takes time to decide what is needed.

It takes time to find the needed equipment.

It takes time for the seller to get it prepped.

Shipping takes time.

Installation and training on the user’s end takes time.

By Tuesday evening, it was pretty clear the Marxists were going to wait for the next weekend. Pretty clear, but not 100% sure. Consequently, the preps could not leave the neighborhood spread-eagle and vulnerable at any time.

Brad and Darryl disappeared every evening and spent the night dozing somewhere between Spencer Avenue and the Hall-of-Justice. They said it was important they do that so they could see what the neighborhoods looked like at night. And what they sounded like and smelled like.

It was also two sets of eyes, and ears and weapons between the probable threat and the neighborhood. There would be some warning and something to disrupt the attacker’s cadence if they decided to attack on a weekday-night.

Back to the problem of purchasing:

It is difficult to formulate a viable defense if you have no clue about the attacker’s.

Fortunately, there was a great deal of information about the Marxists. For example, they nearly always dropped the power-grid when rioting.

That did several things for them. For one, it disabled most home-security systems. It also dropped out the street-lights.

The Marxists had shown a very deft hand in which neighborhoods they dropped the lighting on and when they did it. It was obvious that it was being coordinated in some way.

As the Quartermaster, one of my tasks was to find some way to negate the tactical advantage the Marxists gained, in fact relied upon, when they played with the lighting.

Brad and Darryl had some very strong beliefs about “gimmicks”. It was their belief that any gimmick or “trick-play” made the other side more vulnerable if the defenders had the wit to exploit that reliance.

That unshakable belief launched many spirited discussions.

Brad and Darryl also believed that technology was a two-edged sword. Technology that you have not mastered is as likely to be a liability as an advantage. The battlefield is chaos. Anything that tempts you to look down while you fumble-finger controls takes your eyes of rapidly developing threats. Threats that can kill you.

One quick example of “technology” that came up early on. Darryl and his half-squad took the southern defense which included the high school.

Darryl asked me to purchase twenty parkas and a hundred feet of 4”, corrugated, plastic drain-tile as well as a few other, miscellaneous items.

After delivering the items on his eclectic list I asked him what he was going to do with them.

That is when he showed me how to drape a parka over a folding chair with a length of sewer-pipe sticking out through the head-hole. It took Darryl less than 90 seconds to set it up, and that included cutting the length of sewer-pipe with his Kabar. 

Then, pointing to the base of the chair Darryl said, “I put one of those votive candles down there then that 10 inches of sewer pipe will look enough like a human head through infrared to fool most people.

We don’t have enough people to defend the neighborhood from all approaches, but suppose you saw twenty-five snipers on the roof of the high school...don’t you think most people would choose a different way into the neighborhood?

In fact, it seemed like Brad and Darryl were putting more effort into funneling the impending attack than in setting up defenses.

“Do you have a chainsaw?” Brad asked.

“Does a bear shit in the woods?” I replied.

The trouble with being a smart-ass is that I ended up spending most of one day cutting down shade trees.

Brad marked them with a simple dot. Once he knew I was capable of dropping trees in a specific direction (Thanks True Blue!) he put the dot on the side he wanted the tree to fall in.

I dropped A LOT of trees, including trees on the streets Brad and Darryl WANTED the aggressors to come down.

When I asked, Brad said “If we make it too simple, they will smell a trap. We just have to make the approaches we want them to use to be just a little bit less competently obstructed.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what “formula” Brad was using but he did consult with Alex and Darryl several times and did multiple “walk-throughs” from the direction of the Hall-of-Justice.

I guess that made sense. Frustrate the aggressors. Break up their tempo. Disrupt their logistics. Whittle away at their numbers every step of the way.



  1. Regarding electric distribution into a neighborhood, there are two different setups, basically.

    One setup is single distribution feed from the transmission lines. One line feeds the whole neighborhood. One point of failure. Attack that one distribution line, the whole neighborhood gets blacked out. A single Circuit. One main transformer stepping down to the distribution line, then smaller transformers off to the individual utility drops to the houses.

    The other way is to have the neighborhood fed by two different distribution hookups to the transmission line. Two circuits. So if one gets taken out by malfunction or by accident (or on purpose) the other circuit still powers the neighborhood. Most distribution circuits that include schools and medical centers or nursing homes are on 2 circuit distribution systems, because those tend to be considered critical locations.

    If the neighborhood is on the same circuit as the school, it should be set up on 2 transmission drops.

    As to how to attack a distribution/transmission point, either physically, by tripping the breakers manually or literally running a car or truck into the distribution transformer (oftentimes a ground mounted or big pole mounted unit) or the pole with lines coming off the transformer. The other way? By a dedicated attack to the computer controlling system.

    Unless the Marxists have someone working at the local utility control center and they're flipping switches from their main panel.

    You have me wondering how the Marxists are blacking out the neighborhoods. So I've given you some of what I've learned about distribution systems.

    Hope it helps.

    And I hope the neighborhood watch catches the bastards screwing with the utilities, or the Feds do. The Feds, by the way, really are very unhappy when people screw with utilities in a terroristic way.

    1. I work with SCADA systems -- no matter how they are cutting the power, there is going to be an audit trail with timestamps, whether it's done in software with account credentials, by manually flipping a switch, or by unloading a barrel of half-full mylar party balloons upwind of the substation.

      As for how power is being temporarily dropped for the neighborhoods, Eaton makes what is called a "medium voltage disconnect" (where medium is 15,000 volts!) these can be manually operated to isolate just the power to a small area for maintenance.

      You'll sometimes see a manual disconnect lever on a utility pole, mounted around ten feet up to deter tampering...

    2. This is where the writer of fiction has it easy. I suspect that the circuits for the street lighting and traffic signals is separate from the general grid. I think dumping both the local grid and the street lighting is more complicated than described in the story.

      Lansing has a municipal power generation company, the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

    3. Traffic signals and street lights around here (SoCal) are powered by the local grid, if they are out it is a reliable indicator of an area failure.

      We are in a No-cut block adjacent to two schools and a fire station and we still have lost power for hours at a time. No-cut means we are exempt from rolling blackouts by So Cal Edison.

      I'm sure OppFor has maps to the local pole disconnects and ladders on hand to get up to them. If I was devious I'd add a small electric chain saw or limb lopper to cut off the operating rod as high as I could reach after disconnecting.

    4. Or, go out before the festivities start and cut them off high so OppFor can't pull the disconnects.

  2. Conventional home security systems include a backup battery, generally good for at least 4 hours (SimpliUnsafe claims 24). This battery powers the base (including cellular communicator), wired sensors, keypads.

    Cell towers also have backup powerfor about 4 hours (less if utilization is high), some have generators.

    1. Since they have budget, I suspect they will just spend the money and buy a pallet of UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supplies) from DeNial Prime.

      Other power options show up tomorrow.

  3. My alarm system has enough battery for 24-ish hours.

    As far as the cameras, you've given me something to consider. Maybe it's the door I need to sneak in some solar power.

  4. Now, add a Day of the Jackal (Bruce Willis version) rig to the high school in a light recoil caliber so an operator with his head down can add real outbound rounds if OpFor starts thinking the snipers are fake. May also want to add a bunch of small firecrackers on individual channels to simulate muzzle blasts as well.

  5. Good planning. Funnels always work, because they are going to take the 'easy' way to the most looting...


Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.