Perspectives: Wishful Thinking & Playing Dead Is Not a Plan (Part 1)

November 16, 2015  
Categories: Op-Eds

The attacks in Paris last Friday are rightfully dominating conversation across the country (except for in certain solipsistic student gatherings in Missouri). In today’s Perspectives article, we’ll set all politics and sanctimonious commentary aside, we’re going to talk to a series of People Who Know to get some realistic, candid advice on what the typical American can do to prepare for this kind of event. The Mad Duo

tl; dr: Read what our editor, Frankie McRae and Steve Tarani have to say today. Look for more perspectives from Mike Pannone, Danny “Gator”, Greg Ellifritz, Kyle Lamb and others as the week progresses.

Grunts: Solipsistic.

You can find Part 2 here. Part 3 is online here. Part 4 can be found here.


Perspectives: Wishful Thinking & Playing Dead Ain’t Much of a Plan (Part 1)

David Reeder

Using les couleurs in your profile picture to show support for France is a nice gesture, as is donating to the Red Cross. But it doesn’t do a whole lot at a practical level. Not for them, certainly not for us. We need to spend less time time talking about loading mags and more time  actually preparing for such an event here.

Not at the strategic level. I’m not talking about closing the borders, stopping the influx of Syrian refugees or adopting a realistic and effective foreign policy. I mean we should discuss how each of us, within the confines of practicality and pragmatism, can prepare for the growing likelihood that we’ll be center stage when some asshole starts killing people.

Practical and pragmatic are the two key words here—the third should also be realistic. This can happen anywhere, and despite what assorted media outlets are reporting to sensationalize it, it doesn’t have to be planned and rehearsed to be successful. Any six assholes could decide while you’re reading this to hit all the Cracker Barrels in Cleveland, and tomorrow your breakfast plans would not only be ruined, you’d be on national news. Me, I’d like to carry an SBR [Short Barreled Rifle] or a PDW [Personal Defense Weapon] and a dozen mags everywhere I go, but I’m guesing the management Cinemark IMAX off Highway 169 or other places I frequent might demur (or misunderstand my intent).

So what’s the answer?

First, accept that the onus of fighting or fleeing is on us. We must be prepared to do either. That means having on our person the capacity to do violence, or, if we are not among those who are able or willing to carry a gun, the presence of mind to exploit any reasonable object nearby if we do not travel armed), and having in our heads the willingness for it. We should also accept ahead of time that it might be (indeed often will be) more effective to just get the hell out.

Second, we should look at these events and determine what tools we’d most likely use to respond. Fact is, we’d more likely use medical equipment than a weapon, and this truth requires us to learn medical skills. Tourniquets and bandages were a lot more useful in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Bombing than guns (though the good guys at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, TX were glad they had theirs). Something else to keep in mind is the various applications – anything we do to prepare for Paris/Mumbai/Boston – is also preparing us for a traffic accident on the Interstate or shooting at the local convenience store.

What else can we do? Like many of you, I’ve been reevaluating my daily routine, my EDC [Every Day Carry], my mindset and the (woefully inadequate I’m guessing) contingency planning I have with my friends and family. Are there hard or soft skills or any big picture context we’re not considering? To better answer the questions, what else can I do and what are we not considering I reached out to some Subject Matter Experts [SMEs] for their perspective on this very question.

What can the average American do to be as pragmatically, practically and realistically prepared for an event like this? Take a hard look at it — take a moment to put in your head, “One of those people could have been me – one of them could have been my kid home from college…


It’s doubtful many of these people expected or even worried about an attack when the left for the concert – somebody, somewhere is thinking “it won’t happen to me.” Then it does.

In part one of this series we will talk to Frankie McRae and Steve Tarani (I’m running the SMEs in the order they were able to respond). I’m hoping some of this information will be useful to you or your friends or your families. Much of this will be preaching to the choir, as it were — my hope is to lay out some advice in a simple, if brutally candid, fashion so as to reach people who might not already “think like us.”

Make sure you read it too, though. I was surprised by some of the answers that came in (some of which were things it hadn’t occurred to me to consider).

Steve - Tarani 2Steve Tarani

The real answer is mindset. You don’t have to go to the gym or join a club or be aligned with any political affiliation. It’s all a simple matter of placing yourself in a state of mind. For example when you get into your car and start driving, whether consciously or unconsciously, you switch mental gears to a higher level of situational awareness given that you may be driving in a traffic jam or at high speeds or anticipating the next move of that guy who’s swerving in front of you.

In this current ‘open season’ environment we are unfortunately the prey and as with any prey if you don’t pay attention to the predator he will inevitably take you down. There are three general mental postures most folks assume:

· ‘Well, that’s never going to happen to me.’

· ‘If anything happens, someone else will handle it.’

· ‘My personal security is my responsibility.’

Now, which of these three attitudes will likely serve you best against a predator? Adopting the appropriate mindset is step one.

Next on your “to do” list is have a plan, that is making personal decisions about your actions prior to an event unfolding. One thing every solid operator I know loads the same software program into their mind every day they strap on their hardware and go to work; It could happen to me and TODAY is the day. Simply being aware that it could realistically happen and further that it can happen to you, gives you the leg up you need to be one step ahead of the guy next to you suffering from a chronic case of deep cranial-rectal inversion.

In summary keep these two things in mind next time you leave the burrow:

Steve -Tarani1. Yes, it’s truly open season out there and don’t kid yourself Skippy you are a target, so adopt the mindset that your security is your responsibility.

2. Today might be the day and it could happen to you.

Armed with this tried and true operational mindset, you can control the situation as opposed to the situation controlling you.

Steve Tarani ( is a former CIA employee who has spent nearly 3 decades serving the DoD [Department of Defense], LEO [Law Enforcement Officer] and Intelligence communities. He has instructed for the National Security Agency, the FBI and DHS, Department of Energy, National Security Institute and other organizations. He currently consults for Global Resource Services while continuing to teach and speak around the country and abroad.


France Paris Shootings

Victims of a shooting attack lay on the pavement outside La Belle Equipe restaurant in Paris last Friday. (AP Photo)

Frankie McRae

Frankie McRae 2The first thing to do is to realize in your head that we are going to be attacked or meet a problem with a fight in the near future. There are three battles that take place at the individual level.

  1. The emotional/spiritual Battle- You have to make it up in your head now, not then, that you will or will not meet that fight with a fullness of conviction in your heart and mind about survival. With that in mind you must decide now if you can kill or maim when the time comes. Make it right with your God and your morals.
  2. The physical Battle- that Battle will test your mettle, it will test your endurance and it will test your skill. ANY of those that are not rehearsed or planned on will cause your demise. If you die on the way to the hospital you still lose. Prepare physically for all three aspects of the physical Battle; training in firearms, medical, hand to hand, physical conditioning and hardening is essential
  3. The legal Battle. As an expert witness on more than one trial for US Service Members charged with 1st degree murder for killing Afghani terrorist and combatants I have seen the aftermath of the financial burden placed on Special Forces teammates. The average cost was $180K that they had to pay out of pocket for legal defense. If they will prosecute a Soldier they sure as hell will prosecute a civilian if the local government is at all liberal.There are other legal aspects to look at as well. The legal use of force may be justified but a missed shot that hits someone else can be devastating to the whole family.

Frankie McRae 3Some other aspects to look at , although not a complete lists, just what is in my head now, are the following skills:

· Medical, have a basic idea of first aid training- it helps in any situation from earthquakes to wrecks

· Team work, as a family you must have some things already planned out and rehearsed- this also builds family ties and respect among the unit and gets everyone to thinking the same general terms in a unique situation the family may all think the similar thought and that saves time and saves lives.

· Get a Dog! Dogs are the best early warning and deterrence system out there. Even a small little rat terrier can alert you to something before an alarm system can. Remember an alarm system must be breached, a dog just has to think someone is out there and he will bark.

· Have food on hand, in the house and in your car, anything can happen on the road and a meal can be what makes you feel better, food at home also does good, they don’t call it comfort food for nothing. Plus enough for two weeks minimum at home

· Firearms skills. Don’t train the fundamentals once and think you are a gunfighter. Practice, practice and then practice some more. Don’t take tactical firearms training from someone that has never been in a gunfight either. You can learn the basics from the NRA but they don’t train in tactical skills.

· Basic Hand to hand combat skills, go take a self defense course, it helps with the mindset and the physical conditioning is excellent. Plus it hardens as well. Being physically hard to the rigors of fighting makes it harder to defeat you in a fight.

· Go camping, not in an RV but a tent. Live hard for a few days and make the determination that your comfort is secondary to your survival. This also makes you hard to the elements, and the rough life makes you appreciate your family when endured together. Put down the video games and the smart phone and see the country. Make marshmallows with your kids and sisters and brothers. The basic reason we are falling apart as a society is because the basic family unit is not a basic unit anymore. The father no longer does dad stuff and the mom doesn’t do mom stuff. When was the last time you ate as family at the dinner table or anything as a family?

Frankie McRae· Last but not least PRAY , pray that things will get better for you and your family, pray for safety, pray for togetherness, pray for forgiveness, pray for those not as fortunate as you and then do something about that. Help a person in need. God does not care about your comfort, just your soul. We need to make the world a better place by doing the right thing as an individual first, someone else second and the world will turn around.

Frankie McRae spent over 2 decades in the Army, all of it in the 75th Ranger Regiment or in Special Forces. The assault team leader for 1st SFG(A)’s [Special Forces Group, Airborne] Combatant Commanders In-Extremis Force (CIF), he has deployed all over the world, including counter-terror operations in the Philippines after 9/11 and a lot of time in Iraq with Task Force Black.In the former he helped stand up the Light Reaction Company of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines]; in the latter, now with 3rd SFG(A), he assisted in the development of (and of course ran missions with) the ICTF — the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force, described by many as Iraq’s SMU [Special Mission Unit], and one of proven effectiveness. He was first an instructor for, then NCOIC [Non Commissioned Officer In Charge] of SFARTAETC [Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance, Target Analysis, and Exploitation Techniques Course] and an exchange instructor at the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Course. As a USSF [United States Special Forces] 18D Medical Sergeant and then 18Z Special Forces Sergeant he took part in many FID [Foreign Internal Defense] missions around the world. He now runs Raidon Tactics and continues to consult/advise old friends and new clients in a number of dangerous places.


Watch for the next installment of this series in the morning, and by all means weigh in if you have some ideas on the matter.

That’s it for now. Go forth and conquer.

You can find Part 2 here. Part 3 is online here. Part 4 is here.


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Mad Duo David

Reeder Profile Picture 5About the Author: Someone has to corral the writing team, handle business expenses and bail the Mad Duo (and their minions) out of jail. For years the Pentagon, JSOC and the International Association of Chiefs of Police sought an impeccable man to lead the pedagogic and frequently obstreperous team of Breach Bang Clear writers. They needed someone charismatic, a warrior, able to maintain mental acuity under the worst stressors. Unfortunately the program suffered severe budget cuts so they ended up with David Reeder. Reeder founded Breach-Bang-Clear quite accidentally at his young son’s behest several years ago. He is the Mad Duo’s Chief Wretched Flunky and Breach-Bang-Clear’s HMFIC. A LEO for many years and former AF Security Forces SNCO, he was an O/C at the National Homeland Security Training Center for many years a MOUT instructor at the Bold Lighting UWS. Reeder has appeared on Fox News Business and written for a number of publications, from US News & World Report and to OFFGRID Magazine. You can read more about him here. Follow him on Instagram, @davidreederwrites.

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  1. Linda

    Good info, put plainly.

  2. JESullivan

    I’ve found that not “packin for a livin” anymore makes it even harder to maintain a state of high preparedness. Just maintaining condition yellow is difficult, and I KNOW BETTER. For folks who perhaps have never used such preparedness and skills and tools,it must be extremely difficult! May I suggest that on occasion, perhaps 2-3 times/year, enroll in a good combatives course, be it weapons oriented or H2H martial skills. Many former military operators have joined in developing facilities and protocols, so finding a GOOD course is easier than ever. I find it refreshing to body and mind, and it helps immeasurably in keeping ones head in the game.

  3. J.R.

    Great article, Strong work! I have shared this with everyone I know. Hope it makes them think.

  4. George

    I was reading through it thinking “oh wow, there’s a lot of really usefull, practical, real-life things I can do to prepare myself for the eventuality that something like what happened in paris were to occur where I live”

    Then it got to the part about praying. Really? Praying is the literal definition of not doing anything practical combined with wishful thinking.

    Why would you bring that up? You write an article how we should be realistic and pragmatic and how wishful thinking is NOT a legitimate strategy and then you finish off by instructing people to wish the world into a better place? Come on.

    • phil

      i’m one of those godless types myself, but if you read that part carefully it ends with “… and then do something about that.” I can’t knock that philosophy as an approach to trying to make the world better.

      Great article, I’ve had a couple of classes with Steve Tarani, and it heavily informs how I do everything. My friends who tease me about carrying a small first aid kit around all the time can bite me.

    • DF 1775

      Good question to ask. That’s difficult to answer and explain. For what ever reason, I think most of us that have deployed pray to God at some point. The times I thought I was going up against something I couldn’t handle, I definitely asked for protection. I think it’s pretty normal.

      Like I said hard to explain, but it’s common.

      Infantry folk can probably chime in and do better explaining than I can.

      But I definitely see your point, the absence of action would depend on a miracle to get you out of the situation. IMO action is always gonna be preferable to inaction. It’s just that a little extra help wouldn’t hurt.

      **great article

  5. Bob Connely

    Prepare? I don’t need to prepare for anything – it’s the job of the Gummamint to take care of me! “We have met the enemy and they is us” – Walt Kelly’s Pogo.

  6. JP

    So train body and mind to avoid becoming a lamb to slaughter, but then last, but not least, “pray to a god?” Best of luck with that when SHTF. See who crosses the objective first: guy trying to kill you while you pray, or god you’re praying to. Fucking delusional.

  7. Donna

    Excellent information well said

  8. Don Yenglin

    All that was mentioned and points stressed are the same that have been in my foremost thoughts. Additional comments made brought new ideas. Well said gentleman, well said. It’s time many wake to realize the need for preventative mind sets and be aware of what is to come.

  9. Delus

    Very informative. Thank you. I look forward to your next article.

  10. Jerry Fox

    Love the info.thanks.

  11. Grump

    · ‘Well, that’s never going to happen to me.’

    · ‘If anything happens, someone else will handle it.’

    · ‘My personal security is my responsibility.’

    That really sums it up!

  12. voodoo_man

    I’m gana link this as I was going to post something really similar. Good stuff.

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