Perspectives: Wishful Thinking & Playing Dead is Not a Plan (Part 4)

November 20, 2015  
Categories: Op-Eds

Part Four of our latest Perspectives series comes to you today with input from our editor and a couple guys who you should pay attention to: Mike Pannone and Danny “Gator” Pritbor. The latter two have a remarkable depth and breadth of experience, allowing them to give us pertinent and timely insight. Once again we ask that you set aside partisan political eructations and focus on the content — what can you do to prepare for a large scale violent encounter, and how can you help our friends and family (who might not think as do “we”) do the same? Mad Duo

Grunts: eructation.

This article is continued from Part 1 (Frankie McRae and Steve Tarani)Part 2  (Kyle Lamb and Greg Ellifritz) and Part Three (Derrick Van Orden and CK Redlinger).

Mali Attack

Security personnel evacuate survivors fleeing this morning’s attack.

Perspectives: Wishful Thinking & Playing Dead is Not a Plan (Part 4)

Today’s installment comes as we’re hearing news of a terrorist attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali. Though it’s too early to speak with any certainty about the attack, we do know the French military has been active in Mali for some time fighting a campaign against Islamists in the Sahel — and that AFRICOM has SOF personnel in the region as well. We also know Mali is a former French colony and that the Radisson Blu is one of the most common places for Westerners to stay (in fact, a Belgian political official has been listed among the dead — now numbered at between 18 and 30, depending on which reports you listen to — and that Air France flight crew were among the guests on site when the attack began).

For the intent and purpose of this article it doesn’t matter if the attackers were asking guests to quote the Koran, as some sources report. Nor does it matter if they were speaking Arabic or English with a Nigerian accent (which other sources are advising). What matters today is the attack occurred. It won’t be the last in Africa, in Europe, or in the U.S. There is something wrong with posting memes and comments promising mayhem and death to ISIS, et al, if that’s all you’re going to do (and ever so much more so if you’re not one of those few actually willing to go into harm’s way). It’s empty bloviation and serves no purpose. Much better to put that effort, little as it is, to developing link-up and rally point plans with your kids or establishing what equipment you should have on your person, in your car or staged in your hotel room.

Facebook War Fighter Ribbon 2

Conspicuous keyboard gallantry does exactly nothing practical; not to end terrorism and not to prepare your family and friends for that moment when the metal hits the meat.

Rather than trying to earn the Facebook War Fighter Ribbon, let “What can the average American do to be as pragmatically, practically and realistically prepared for an event like this?”

Mike Pannone

Mike Pannone 2Mindset-The first component of any good preparedness plan is a proper mindset. Get your head out of the sand and realize that in the world there are no lack of bad people who are not only willing and capable, but desiring to do genuinely bad things. It is easy to want to believe that the whole world is pretty much like a nice town in the US, France or pretty much any affluent Western country. In reality civilization as we fantasize it to be is a postage stamp sized island of civility in a sea of savagery. Acknowledge that and you are on the right path. Next identify what you are willing to do, genuinely willing. “Are you willing to help others or your family” is an implied task and needs little convincing. The reality of the question is are you willing to do harm to another human who is trying to harm you or your family. If yes, then the preparation begins in earnest.


A failure to plan is a planned failure. You will not make up in plan in the middle of an incident, whatever you brought to the show is all you have. An incident is time to execute a pre-rehearsed plan not try and create one. Here are a few blocks that need to be checked in your plan

  • Actions on

o        Escape & Evade-if we have the ability then we move immediately when an opportunity arises and we do not stop until we are either home or under the protection of a competent authority i.e. local law enforcement. If neither is possible we hunker down in a strong point (somewhere we can hold and defend for a period of time) and wait for a window of opportunity to move again to a better location.

o        Aggress- if we can’t get away then we must be willing to fight. Curling up in a ball and hoping they pass you by is rolling the dice with your life and a fool’s errand. This must be preceded by training to be successful. Once you have decided to take on the threat it must be with every bit of strength, quickness and violence you can muster.

  • Link-up plans

o        Planned Separation-If we all plan to go to the winds then how do I gather up my flock? Where are predetermined rally points? How long will we wait there? Where is the next one? With personal communications many say “I’ll just call you”. That might be an option but as soon as there is an attack, cell towers will be immediately overwhelmed and then more than likely shut down. Have a no-communications link up point

o        Lost member- if the above planning is in place then a lost member of your group can just activate the link-up plan.

o        Re-join- How will you rejoin your family if you are away when an attack occurs?

Mike Pannone 1Hard Skills

  • Medical-seek training to stop bleeding and open airways at a minimum. Learn how to use and have available tourniquets. They have been proven in over a decade of warfare to save countless lives with minimal training yet not cause limb loss as previously believed.
  • Communications- Always have a phone, always keep it charged. have a dedicated charge cord in your car and immediately plug in your phone when you get in. If at all carry a back-up battery either on your person or in your vehicle. Women especially since you carry a purse, carry a backup battery.
  • Weapons- Become familiar and competent with different types of firearms. The soldier Skarlatos in the Paris train incident a few months back got an AK-47 into operation after the foiled attack and used it to make sure no other threats were in other cars. You may not have one but if you can recover one it’s a great skill to have.
  • Seek competent training from someone whose bio you have researched and vetted thoroughly. I would look at what qualifies them to teach what they will be teaching you. For personal and family preparedness I am convinced that someone who has conducted high level protection detail work as a security agent on up to being in charge of an entire detail will have the best base of knowledge for preparedness and escape from an incident.


  • Weapons-make a decision if you choose to arm yourself and then seek competent council as to what is appropriate based on your local laws, needs and budget. Look at other less lethal options as well i.e. OC or possibly even an electrical stun device.
  • Have a “go bag” in each vehicle that has all you will need to sustain yourself and your immediate family if you are semi or permanently separated from your vehicle and home. It should have but not be limited to:

o        Medical supplies- These should be commensurate or exceed your level of medical training (in case you come upon a medical professional that can use them)

o        Lights-minimum of a head lamp and a high power hand-held flashlight

o        Batteries-High capacity battery pack for recharging your mobile phone and extra batteries for flashlights

o        Food and water- Enough to sustain you for a minimum of a few hours. This can be separate but co-located in the vehicle.

o        Thermal protection- Space blankets for warmth or to prevent shock

o        Knife- A robust folding knife or small fixed blade knife

o        Rope- Parachute cord is about the strongest and most size efficient available. 10-20’ is easy to carry.

o        Fire starting equipment- 3-pack of small lighters

o        Weapon support- If you are armed, extra ammunition

This is only an overview of how I prepare for a catastrophic event but should give an idea of some concepts and start-points. Everything here can be of use in either a natural disaster or a violent attack like the one we have recently seen in Paris. Don’t wait for an event to catch you off guard when everyone knows prepare while you have time. There is nothing more expensive than regret!

Mike Pannone 3“Good luck is for novices, bad luck is for everyone. Bank on skill, at least you can control that.” Mike “Noner” Pannone

Mike Pannone has spent nearly his entire adult life in the service of his country.He is a former Reconnaissance Marine, US Army Special Forces (Green Beret) and SMU [Special Mission Unit] soldier. Pannone retired from the Unit after an explosive breaching injury shortly before America was attacked on 9/11, after which he returned to service as the head marksmanship instructor for the then-fledgling Federal Air Marshals training course. Two years later he left the FAMS to serve as a PSD [Personal Security Detail] member and then leader for the State Department in Baghdad and Tikrit. He has worked as an independent contractor for such companies as SAIC, Triple Canopy, and The Wexford Group. In 2005 he served as a ground combat adviser for JCIED-TF [Joint Counter IED Task Force] and participated in combat operations in Al Anbar province; shortly after he helped stand up a pre-Iraq Surge rifle course with AWG [Asymmetric Warfare Group]. He later moved to the private sector, where he has continued to teach and author a number of books. He is also a competition USPSA pistol shooter holding a Master class ranking in Limited, Limited-10 and Production divisions. You can learn more at CTT-Solutions.


Pakistan Explosion

This morning it was the Radisson Blu in Bamako. In 2008 it was a Marriott in Pakistan (victim shown being evacuated above). In ’05 it was several hotels in Amman, Jordan. Relatively simple and realistic preparations can be made to help your family reunite after and survive such an event, whether it’s overseas or somewhere here at home during your Spring Break vacation.


Danny “Gator” Pritbor

Warrior Culture


Danny Gator Pritbor 1Although extremely horrific and barbaric, incidents like the recent mass murders in Paris are not new. Many countries live under the constant threat of violence from Muslim extremist groups.

Lets take a look at an armed society, some recent attacks, and how they were handled. In Israel, over the last few months (and still on going), there have been numerous knife attacks on the Israeli populace. These attacks are extremely difficult to track and preempt, as they are “Lone Wolf” style. In reviewing video of the incidents, the perpetrators are quickly burned down by Military, Law Enforcement or armed citizens. The armed response takes place within a matter of seconds. The armed citizen is key as law enforcement cannot be everywhere or respond rapidly. The citizens have a clear determination to protect others. No hesitation when responding to the threats as multiple good guys get involved and quickly shut down the attack cycle, followed by rapid medical attention by citizens until first responders arrive.

Take a look at how vigilance (or situational awareness) coupled with a combat mindset, can shut down the attacker’s attack cycle. Earlier this year, 3 Americans were riding on a train in Paris, when some nut job thought he was going to commit an act of Jihad with an AK47. Their observation and willingness to act changed the outcome of the situation. The enemy’s weapon malfunctioned and they made their move. We need to determine prior to the incident that we are willing to act, and act decisively.

Accept this is the new way of life; the battle isn’t on foreign land anymore. It is here, and will potentially be fought on the streets of your city. We live in a world where peace can be violently disrupted. There is good news; unlike the people of Paris, we can protect ourselves from one-sided incidents of terror. Accept the warrior culture, invest in training and preparation, be ready to defend yourself, possibly others, have a layered system for your EDC.

At Firebase Combat Studies Group, we teach Lines of Gear. These lines will allow you to breakdown how you carry your tools. What I have listed is based on my experiences using this methodology and is meant to be a template; customize these lines to fit your mission and profile. There are essentials you need to have, and then build from.

A common theme in all three lines is Weapon & Ammunition, Medical kit, and Communications. These three lines are designed to overlap, supporting each other.

Before building our lines, we must first know our USA mission profile as we cannot walk around with rifles slung without raising red flags.

For the armed citizen, we fall into a NO PROFILE (Or zero signature)

  • Cover shirt is on, over equipment; holsters are selected specifically for covert carry (appendix or inside the waist band)

1st Line Gear



You will be tempted to leave out the medical items. Learn from past incidents, the chances of getting immediate medical attention during a crisis situation is very slim. Paramedics do not enter scenes that are unsecured. Medical will be self-aid and/or buddy-aid.

Gator20112ND LINE GEAR


  • 550 CORD
  • GPS
  • MAPS
  • CASH

Note- A long-gun can be considered a part of 2nd line Gear



  • GPS
  • 550 CORD

“If you need to break into this line, chances are things are pretty bad.”

The 3rd line gear is designed to haul the high-profile kit; considered part of the disaster plan. Keeping a spare handgun with ammunition, holster and mag pouches is optional in the event you need to arm a buddy and/or you are displaced from your resources, i.e. a weather disaster or civil disturbance; having a spare handgun can bring peace of mind. Take it a step further – make sure it is the same caliber and weapon type of your everyday carry so it is compatible for sharing magazines and ammunition.

Communications capabilities, along with the items that support them, are commonly overlooked; having a P.A.C.E. plan in place can be a lifesaver. (PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency.) If your Primary is your cellular phone, what happens when the towers are down due to unforeseen circumstances? Having an alternate and/or layered approach, you set yourself up for success.

Once you have considered the purpose of your 3rd Line Gear, it is up to you to decide in what configuration you carry your long gun. Rifles can be broken down and consolidated into a pack that allows for easy carry, like a larger backpack. You want this line to be portable; don’t pack the kitchen sink if you really don’t need it. Choose wisely and be practical.

Take the time with your family to establish the game plan for safety and success in the fight. Do not take short cuts when purchasing equipment. Seek out reputable experience teachers in your area that can assist in tactical development for everyone in your family.

Danny Gator Pritbor 2Danny “Gator” Pritbor is a former Marine turned LEO who served in a number of billets (narcotics, gang enforcement, SWAT) in a major metropolitan area before going on to work as an anti-terrorism instructor for the US State Department and then contractor working for an OGA [Other Government Agency]. He has spent 23 years in the service of his country, during which time he deployed frequently (often for extended periods) to multiple semi- and non-permissive locations. Gator has trained personnel for several governmental agencies to include the U.S. State Department Antiterrorism Assistance program and the U.S. Department of Energy NNSI Central Training Academy. Private sector training companies include the Universal Shooting Academy, Blackwater USA, Surefire Institute and Strategos International. Gator remains active as a Government Security Specialist. He also serves as a tactical advisor, assisting companies with product development and training curriculums: you can learn more at Firebase Combat Studies Group.


Raddison Blu mali-hotel-attack-5

There are many brave men and women prepared to risk their lives to help you during and after an attack, but the closest one to your and your family’s Event will be you.

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

This article was continued from Part 1 (Frankie McRae and Steve Tarani)Part 2  (Kyle Lamb and Greg Ellifritz) and Part 3 (Derrick Van Orden and CK Redlinger).

Comms Plan

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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 Soldier Systems Daily and OFFGRID Magazine. You can read more about him here. Follow him on Instagram, @davidreederwrites.

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  1. Dexter

    Hello, I have question : many of the responses involve a lot of gear/preparation. But in the Bataclan, it is a concert place, so even if you are a gun owner, you could not enter with a weapon. No one was armed or have the possibility to be. How should you react properly when bullets are flying ?

    Thanks because I have no clue…

    • Grump

      You move to the midwestern United States. We’d be glad to have you!

  2. Rambo-not

    Interesting series with a lot of useful advice. I have a few things you might want to consider.

    If it happens it will be a complete, total surprise. If you had the slightest hint it was about to happen you would leave fast taking your family and friends with you. Any gun is very loud, AK-47 included, especially in doors. The first burst will put you and everyone else in shock. Your blood will turn to water. What you always thought was the heart of a lion will show itself to be that of a rabbit. You are suddenly the hunted, the prey and among those about to die. This will almost certainly not end well.

    If you’re like me with a touch of PTSD after two tours in VN, you may find yourself on the floor before you know what happened. To this day I can’t tolerate loud noises of any kind, leaves me shaken. At the shooting range with ear protection, I must watch the other shooters carefully as they fire otherwise I jump right out of my skin. Embarassing.

    So, anyway, you’re in shock and confused, then you see one or two people nearby have been hit and they are dead or laying there bleeding and screaming. Now you are terrified in the extreme. Any plan you had is long gone; rational thought is gone. You are in personal survival mode…the “I am about to be killed by a madman with a gun and I am getting the heck out of here now!” mode. As is everyone else; they are all yelling and screaming, more shooting, more people down, smoke fills the air, it is total chaos, a mad house. This can’t be happening.

    Maybe you can find an exit or cover of some kind. Maybe you will remember your family members, hope you do, but maybe you won’t. This will be your reality, unless you are an experienced combat vet in which case you may be able to keep your wits about you as you run or dive for safety. Or such a person may bravely charge the shooter. But the shooter is not about to let anyone get behind him. You will be the only one charging and thus the prime target. If not killed you will catch many bullets and never reach him. That was actually tried at a recent school shooting. The vet lived, but did not stop the perp.

    Let’s say you have your Glock or whatever with you. What do you intend to do, assuming you haven’t totally paniced? Draw your firearm, take aim across the room and open fire? You’ll be dead in seconds. Why? Because you are now the prime target and because of adrenalin. At the shooting range or in your combat training you have never had to deal with adrenalin. I’m sure your groups are tight, normally. Under stress you will not be able to hit anything. You will empty your weapon and think you fired two or three shots. You’ll be shaking so badly you will have great difficulty inserting a new mag, if you have one. You say this isn’t you? It happens to cops, too. They can be three feet from a bad guy with a gun, adrenalin kicks in and they never hit him. It is not like in the movies; you are not James Bond, totally cool under pressure. He was a psychopath by the way. Okay, maybe you are, too.

    If you can’t get way you must find cover; you will have the element of surprise on your side. Take a few deep breaths, try to calm yourself, assess the situation. Are you too far away to be effective, can you get closer safely, is he moving your way? Is there more than one? How much ground can you cover as he reloads? Are you going to die anyway? Can’t get to cover? Lie on the floor in the prone position, pointed at the shooter, making yourself the smallest target possilbe, take aim, open fire. And, yes, now it is time to pray. Good luck.

    Assume you got lucky and took out the shooter against all odds. Now what? Don’t stand there with your gun in your hand admiring your work. Why? Because the police are on the way; they are very excited, afraid and on a hair trigger. Place your weapon someplace in plain sight, out of your reach, get on the floor, spread your arms and legs, don’t move till an LEO tells you to. Enjoy the rest of your day.

    • Grump

      EXPECT IT. Then, it won’t be a complete, total surprise. Train under stress, but not so much stress that it causes severe post-combat reaction. Realistically visualize and hope for “success,” not just wetting your pants. Know that it will end badly, but that it will end even worse if you do nothing.

  3. Steve Mixson

    This was and is a great series with great sme’s.

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