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Survival and Controlling the Night

Sometime before 1968, I watched one of the usual breathless news reports on television. It was an agitated presentation of the South Vietnam jungle with machine gun volleys. The network reporter was excitedly reporting that the guerrillas controlled the night and that now machine guns were being made available to the Communists.

My immediate thoughts were that the US Army should know by the 1960s how to deny an enemy force the freedom to move in and control the night.

I was too optimistic. Despite television, videos, books, manuals, there is little institutional memory in the US Army. Least you think that I am too harsh, the Soviet Army of the 1930s failed repeatedly against the Japanese in Manchuria and the Far East until it adopted the Japanese night fighting techniques.

In 1913, an American Army officer translated the Japanese manual into English. Here it is - for free! It tells you how to train yourself, you family and your circle, now and after shtf, for night time fighting.

It seems that the material could be made available, but it isn't. Another example: the Russian Army of 2019 still follows the precepts of Field Marshall Suvorov from 300 years ago. He never lost a battle. Yet, even if you search the US Army West Point Library, you will not find a copy in English. I am trying to obtain a translation available in Moscow into English, there being one copy in Spain.

Depending upon where you live, you will have 6 - 16 or more hours or more, within 24 hours. Your choice. Do you control the night or do you leave it to chance.

In Vietnam, Hack Hackworth, a former enlisted man who did night fighting in Korea, was given command of a sad sack unit. Within a month, he had his command outperforming other commands in the Army. It was simple. He thought about how to control the night in fighting. So, go look up his story and learn the tactics for a unit.

My focus is on you, the individual, and your family and controlling the night.

1. get real about your skills and the skills of your family;
2. plan to control the night instead of it controlling you;
3. if you plan to control the night indefinitely, then focus on that goal.

Advantages of controlling the night:
1. if you have illumination, you have time invent, make and repair gear;
2. if you have illumination, you can facilitate movement;
3. if you gain the skill set, you do not need a light on a fire arm, a light in the hand for engagement.

Disadvantages of controlling the night:
1. getting too comfortable and failing to understand that an opponent will adapt to your control of the night.

You, the individual and your family
1. Don't buy sophisticated equipment requiring manuals/memory unless you a: make multiple copies; and b. train everyone now. Your skills are not transferable by osmosis or because the other person is your wife or child. Don't buy a super duper flashlight with 5 functions for example.

2. Don't buy an $800 generator to use only in emergencies to provide air conditioning or to protect $100 worth of food in the refrigerator unless, a. you have a medical condition; b. you are assured that you will have a resupply of gasoline or propane in a few days. Use the tanks of propane to fuel a lantern and you have a better situation. I have 5 tanks for that purpose.

3. Have an adequate small flashlight with spare batteries in depth. There should be a couple in every car, one in every room, one in every suitcase, one in every backpack. If you can afford rechargeable batteries and a charger, buy only the best with high ratings. Check the batteries every few months. You can even buy adapters so that smaller batteries can be used in larger flashlights. Learn that every flashlight is a compromise. Moonlight, long lasting for walking a trail at night without or reduced possibility of detection. High lumens for working on small items.

4. Consider low light lanterns which can be powered by batteries, flame, kerosene, propane. I have a standup, low lumen battery operated lantern for each major room in the house. A propane operated lantern for outdoors.

5. Consider motion detector lights that are portable. Before shtf, they are in the garage for illumination into dark corners. After shtf, they will be perimeter lights.

6. Don't get sucked in by the solar craze.
a. Every solar light has a rechargeable battery inside. Most are not replaceable unless you have skills, a soldering iron, a specialty battery, and power for your soldering iron. Then, you (how about your wife or 10 year old) have to figure out how to replace without a youtube video because the power is off.
b. Oh, you bought low lumen solar lights for your home? Ok. They don't last 10-12-16 hours and you need them for the early morning!
c. Oh, you bought a solar recharger? Forget your flashlights for a moment. Your walkie talkie takes 4 batteries. And, at a minimum, there are two units, yielding 8 batteries. And, you charger takes 8 hours to recharge just two batteries? Good luck.

2. plan to control the night instead of it controlling you
You have all basic supplies. However, you need to work on the skills and planning.
Example. You are a stay at home person. You are urban, living on a street. Ok. You measure the distances down two blocks, a block, across the street. Now you can learn sight adjustment on weapons for that distance. You live in a jurisdiction where street jacks are legal. You control access to your location by laying them out. You put your cheap motion activated lights where needed. Critically, you have worked out communications monitoring/transmitting so that batteries are not run down and you can use batteries elsewhere when needed.
You do some other things that no one does. In your urban example. You walk the two blocks at night in the dark and learn how long it takes. It affords you the knowledge of your lead time if you leave your position. You also transpose. This means you walk the distance at night from different places to where you plan to be. You note the places of concealment, places of cover, learn what a walking person sees when advancing on your position.
Interesting subject.

I'm thinking not many of us will be involved in night fighting but having an awareness of what things look like at night and what we may encounter at night is good to know.

I can't help but relating night operations, particularly defending one's property with some fundamental elements of security i.e, the 4 D's of Security ....

Deter-Making the area uninviting to outsiders. This may involve putting up No Trespassing signs, barriers, perimeter lighting. It may also involve keeping expensive equipment hidden or undercover.

Delay-Anything you can do to slow down an intruder, whether it be fences and gates on the outer perimeter, thorn bushes, culverts, ditches, lakes/rivers etc in the middle, or locked doors on the inner ring.

Detect-If an intruder is not deterred, it is good to have some means to detect their presence, be it motion sensing lights, cameras, alarms etc. Even a open buffer zone (space) between the property perimeter and the inner protection zone allows one to detect a presence.

Deny-Lock your stuff up and keep it secured when you are not around.
You mentioned solar lights. I installed some last fall and they have worked great.

Fast forward to this week, our trees are full now and one of the lights that had been working great (lasting all night long) now only gets enough light for it to last for a a couple of hours and it is dark in the morning. All the other lights have continued to work.

So, you have to be mindful of changing conditions and how it can effect your setup.
Great thread BD. I have a significant philosophy on dark time.

Assuming basic reduction of services SHTF -

My #1 rule is that Dark = Dangerous. If you DON'T have to do anything, don't!!! Get EVERYTHING you need done while it is light, and then sleep. The only thing rambling around in the dark will do is get you is inefficiency, consumption of power/resources, and possibly injured.

#2 is Don't use candles! Or at the very least, use them VERY carefully!!!! The LAST thing you need during a reduction in emergency response time is a fire.

#3 That said, if you you are using light, keep it minimal. No need for 800 Lumen lanterns. A simple 35 Lumen light of any kind will get you through, and keep your eyes dark adapted. Even a tea light candle (with caution!!!!). Again - dogs/cats have tails etc...

As for lights, I keep a ton of little $1 Walmart flashlights around. I'd also have my Surefire P6 LED and a Sipik on me!!!!
I think you under-value the cheap, multiple redundancy of low cost solar lights staked in the yard etc. Primary emergency light? Hell no! Great low/no cost light and ability to have 20? Hell yes!!!

As for combat at night, as my preps get stouter, I think about the advantage night vision gives you. Cost is coming down....but for now, Hi Lumen white light is where I'm at.

Your point is very valid though - night gives an attacker many many advantages - IF they can use it. If you can't it provides many disadvantages.
Coincidentally, I have ordered an additional 10 Sipik68s in the last two months. Last about 1.5 hours on a battery, then replace battery.

General comments on the night - whether civilian or military.

1. one time I was in a small western city in RC. At 10 p.m. all power would be turned off. This included the few street lights and home electricity. A totally different world.
2. I was on the road with my late wife through central Asia. No car. We had each day planned for no light. This meant reaching the next destination by 4 p.m., washing clothes and hanging them out to dry overnight, etc.
3. if you mean to control the night, you need to learn how to walk without making noise. this is different than walking around during the daytime.
4. get a photon 2 light. get a lanyard that is big enough to go over your head and attach it to the photon. The photon 2 light has a permanent on-off switch. This allows you to have the light on without continuously pressing on the light. Now walk at night in the dark. Walk through your house. You do not have to have a flashlight on a gun or occupy one of your hands with flashlight. Ughhhhhhhhhhhh! you are walking at night, your kid is injured and needs support or you need both hands to carry a package or you need to see whether a door pushes in or out. Work under those conditions when your only flashlight is on your gun or in one hand. Think now and before shtf about how you will apply your flashlight. A couple of decades ago, I went through the Surefire Institute class. Great flashlights for cops. However, your hand would have to be occupied. Gosh! A $200 light then would blind a person. However, try handcuffing someone with a flashlight in your hand! Think and re-think. Dave convinced me to spend the money and purchased decent lights that also go to under 1 lumen. I like the idea of a light that allows you to see, just see, and lasts for days and days on one battery.

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