Central War Gaming Blog

Central War Gaming Blog

 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Least Weasel Off but Training ON

We really tried to squeeze in an in person event in the fall of this year, but the schedule is tight. Fall is always busy and this year, everyone else is doing the same thing. Instead of fighting the schedules and having low turnout as well as causing agony to everyone in the community, we're going to try to help.

CWG has cancelled Least Weasel 21, our Force-on-Force event for the fall, and instead has two events planned, that we hope you'll all attend. The first is set up specifically to allow you to plan and prepare for your other upcoming Fall tactical activities. 

Fall '21 Fieldcraft

Keep your skills sharp or specifically prepare for force-on-force, re-enactment, training, or other field events by attending our short fieldcraft weekend. Starts mid day Saturday, and ends as early as the next morning, giving you 18 hours of tactical movement, bivouacking, communications, communication, observation, and concealment. As long as you can be comfortable, safe, and effective, bring and wear whatever you want, no uniform requirements. Sunday will be day of AARs, a chance to fix your gear and get familiarity with other CWG equipment and procedures.

11 - 12 September 2021 in Farmington, Missouri

Only $25 if you Sign Up Today


Operation Swift Fox 22

Our regular springtime force-on-force event will take place at the normal time, place, and duration, come hell or high water. And we mean it. We fight day and night, in all weather. And this time with a new twist, with insurgents to confound the battlefield with different tactics, as they do. Come prepared for anything.

April, 2022 in Wyandotte, Oklahoma

Watch for announcements of dates and when we accept signups.

Learn More

Sunday, March 28, 2021

What Weapons Can I Bring to Least Weasel 21?

One of the most common questions we still get is about suitability of individual guns. Can I bring my [whatever]. Adding the insurgents who are allowed to bring "anything," we expect it will get even worse. 

We don't want you to wonder, to assume it won't work because we're hardasses about all this, or to show up with the wrong thing and we have to work it out (or you start trying to borrow one) moments before the start of play.

Always feel free to ask us questions, but for your reading, here's an extended guide to weapons for CWG events. 

Airsoft

We have all used many simulation systems, but CWG force-on-force events are always — so far — airsoft. This naturally limits the range, but no more so than other projectile firing systems (UTM or Simunition), and it offers a broader experience. 

There are cheap, simple, and safe, machine guns, rocket launchers, mortars, land mines, and hand grenades for airsoft. Other systems simply do not have these, they are impossibly expensive and hard to obtain, there can be safety issues, or they are restricted by law. 

The vast majority of participants bring their own airsoft gun, which they often configure like a real gun they own, or have used in the military or so on. If this will be a hardship, such as because you are traveling, ask us and we may be able to provide rental guns, or make other arrangements such as pre-shipping items to avoid the complexity of travel with what appear to be weapons. 

The 10-Foot Principle

CWG events are Force-on-Force. You shoot at people as a war game — not a real battle — which means you inherently want to not kill or seriously injure anyone. That also means the guns are at least a little fake, and we must wear some Personal Protective Equipment at all times. 

However, we want to maintain a sense of "immersion," and not feel like the event is clearly fake. There are a lot of specific rules about what weapon system, barrel length, and realism of accessories, but a good guideline before you ask us is the 10-foot principle.

If the gun, when carried around by you, looks real at a range of 10 feet, without looking too terribly close, it is probably fine. Since you shouldn't be closer than that to the enemy for safety, this also works well in the heat of the action.  

If there is something clearly impossible, or fake, or wrong at that range, then it fails. For example: 

  • External gas guns with hoses coming off them: clearly fake. Not allowed. 
  • Many airsoft FALs and most AKs are simply wrong in a few ways. FAL triggers are too far forward, AK receivers are too wide. But at a glance, even a short distance away, they look fine. Allowed. 

We have a number of other guidelines for weapon accessories, and sights, right under the allowed weapon types details:  

Let's dive into the specific weapons for each side now. 

Ardea

Ardea issues 7.62x51 NATO self-loading rifles. Like many countries, they use several rifles, purchased over time, as budget or availability permits. In reality, units would tend to coalesce around one rifle even if the next one over uses a different rifle, but we've let that slide and within small teams different rifles may exist. 

Not any 7.62 rifle is allowed, we only accept: 

  • G3
  • FN-FAL
  • Mk17 SCAR-H
  • HK417
  • SIG 716
  • M14

They can be any issued rifle or carbine with any issued barrel length. No commercial, gunsmith-only, or airsoft-only variants. For example:

  • G3, or G3K, but not the HK51 as those were not real, factory guns
  • FAL, FAL Para or L1, C1 and other issued guns, with 21" or 16-17" barrels
  • SCAR-H, not the SCAR-L (5.56), and only with barrels from 13-20"
  • HK417, not HK416 (5.56), and only with barrels from 12" to 20"
  • M14s may only have the original 22" barrel, and may not use any railed chassis or folding stocks

No longer-barreled machine gun, sniper, or automatic rifle variants are allowed, even if actually issued. This is to be an individual rifle, not a specialist or support weapon of any sort. 

Only original, issue-style stocks are allowed. HK rifles may not have side folding stocks, FALs cannot use SAW stocks, and neither can have adapters to use AR-15 stocks.

HK 51s aren't production guns, so not issued to any army. Too short.

Bog standard HK G3. All good. 


Same basic gun, with sight, railed forearm, Spuhr buttstock. All typical of modern military use of this platform.

Too much barrel, too much scope, stocks configured for sniping. The PSG-1 is a sniper rifle not a battle rifle. 

Kitoy

Kitoy issues AR-15 variant rifles or carbines. While more standard than Ardea, they are also like a smaller country and do not have a single style, or a small handful, they bought only from one maker or to one technical specification but purchase small quantities of guns as budget allows, and may mix and match. 

This of course means you can bring most any AR-15 variant that is a carbine or rifle. That means all the way down to short things like the "CAR-15" Colt Model 733, or the Mk18, with barrels as short as 10" and up to 20" M16s

No shorter length SMG guns, no 9 mm versions and none if the longer machine gun, sniper, or automatic rifle variants are allowed, even if actually issued. Remember this is your individual rifle, not a specialist or support weapon of any sort.

Any buttstock that uses the original receiver extension may be used. No side-folding stocks are allowed. Yes, even though there are actually folding stock variations based on the AR15, they are too specialized and generally not allowed. 

Way too small. While very small guns are issued for specialized forces rarely, not a general issue rifle. 

Completely standard M4, with a 4x scope. All good.

A step up with lights, lasers, and a red dot instead of scope. All good still.

Rifle length, more precision optimized, but (as long as the scope is not more than about 4x) then this slightly DMR-configured gun is also just fine. 

Too much scope, but also a weird, non-standard receiver. No armies issue odd receiver patterns. 

Way too much scope, too much barrel, and too configured to be a sniper rifle. Oh, and also not an AR15, but a 7.62x51 "large frame" AR instead. 


GDL Insurgents 

GDL is an insurgent force, so what do insurgent forces carry? Well it depends. They might get support from a third party. They might buy weapons on the open market. They could be using older weapons saved — or donated — from previous wars and squirreled away for just this. And many insurgent actions are raids. 

The main news or threat reporting about raids is their lethality (how many soldiers or civilians were killed), their ability to disrupt government and NGO operations, and how much the risk of raids changes how the war is fought, how aid is provided, or how civilians go about their daily business. But a key factor in many insurgent raids is the shopping trip. Insurgent forces steal everything, from boots to weapons. 

Since we see too much of the Middle-East and North Africa terrorist threat, and think of them as always equipped with an AK47, that's by no means always true. AUG, FAMAS, SA80, AR18, SS2, and many more have all been seen in insurgent hands or for sale in conflict zones. What is used often varies based on what is available. For the GDL, we're specifically not going to make too much background, and decide which guns are allowed and not. Basically you can carry anything as long as it is: 

  • Real. No science fiction guns or otherwise fictional weapons. 
  • In reasonably current use. We generally only want guns issued to armies since 1955. This doesn't mean their first introduction, but their last date of issue; M1 Garands were in service through the 1960s at least so if you really, really want one of those, you can bring it. 
  • Realistic, and functional if a real gun. You can't — for example — simply take the buttstock off an AR15 as the mechanism of real ones goes back into the stock. 
  • Production guns. Despite their prevalence in some regions, we want to avoid overly gunsmithed or entirely craft produced arms. We'll just say guns aren't that hard to find in this region, so there's no need. 
  • Must be — when real — in a useful military caliber. SMGs are allowed, but not .22s or airguns. 
  • Look like a real gun at a glance. As mentioned above, meets the 10-foot rule. 

As for the weapons used by Ardea and Kitoy, they also have to have working sights that are zeroed (and you have to use them), meet the velocity requirements, and use only the issued pellets. 

So now is the time to break out your AK, MP5, UZI, or anything else you haven't been able to bring to CWG events. And yes, you can also use an AR15, SCAR, G3, FAL or anything as issued to the Ardeans or Kitoy as well and declare it was just captured. 

If you want a little inspiration — for weapons, uniform, LBE, and more — here are some insurgents in the Philippines

 
AR-15s some with carry handle scopes.

Old school M16, and a Galil on the right.


Grenade launchers are always a good force multiplier.

FN-CAL (no, not FAL) with improvised mount for M203.

An M16, and an M4 with M203.

Steyr AUG. 

 
Galil Ace. Yes, brand new guns make it to conflict zones also.

Snipers

There are no snipers. We don't mind scouts and use them all the time, but snipers more or less do not exist in airsoft due to the technology, and also tend to be disruptive, due to inappropriate adherence to fictional tropes of the movie sniper. 

There are other reasons we restrict these having to do with the effective range and functional reduced scale of the war game, so scopes over 4x are still not allowed for GDL weapons and bolt-action rifles are somewhere between discouraged and banned. If you really want to bring an iron sighted K98, ask us and we'll discuss why you have it though. 

While lower barrel length limits are removed so an HK51 or Colt 633 is allowed for the GDL, the opposite way — a very long barrel — might not be as it becomes no longer a general purpose individual weapon but a specialized sniper rifle. 


Machine Guns and Heavy Weapons

Want to bring a machine gun, rocket launcher, or something else? Please do! As long as it meets the basic principles of being plausible, reasonably modern, realistic, and having sights (no PVC-tube rockets!) then there are none of the per-side restrictions on weapon platforms. 

Machine guns and other heavy weapons have even fewer options in airsoft, and most armies are not too picky about these systems, so if effective will keep them in service for decades longer than they would rifles, and use odd mish-mashes of such systems instead of standardizing. 

Machine guns must be machine guns. High cap mags (the hopper fed wound style) are disallowed unless they represent a drum or belt feed box, as on a machine gun. Ardea and Kitoy cannot use automatic rifles (magazine or drum fed machine guns) so but the GDL is so open to weapon systems, so automatic rifles fed from drums are allowed. 

If you want to bring an RPK or some other automatic rifle that's probably fine, but ask us to make sure. If you want to bring a drum for your AKSU74, that's not okay, and you need to use box magazines for it instead. 


Operating Systems

All airsoft weapons may use pretty much any operating system or principle. AEGs are easiest, but GBBs and onboard HPA systems are great for the sound and realistic manual of arms. HPA tanks as buttstocks can be made to pass the 10 foot rule. 

No weapons will be permitted on the field which allow for adjustment of velocity without tools or disassembly. Any guns with easily-changeable spring rate, regulators, or the like must be able to be locked out (tournament locked), and will be locked by CWG event staff after passing chrono. A cut or broken lock during game play will be a bad thing so keep it safe, don't cheat and don't let anyone else cheat as this is a safety issue. 

All guns must be free-standing weapons systems, just like real ones. That means no external (hose fed) gas systems. As with all other accessories, all weapon accessories must be as they purport to be, and all airsoft gun specific mechanisms must be concealed. This means no PEQ battery boxes, no visible gas tanks, no visible wires, or visible battery packs are allowed. This is not an exclusive list, and feel free to ask us for approval or assistance in making your gun suitable for CWG if you have any concerns.

Note that one (rare and older) system is not allowed. Pyrotechnic (cap firing) systems are not allowed as they present additional risks, including legal ones.


Read more about weapon systems: 

http://centralwar.com/equipment/#Weapons-Airsoft


And we hope to see you in Oklahoma in October: 

Operation Least Weasel 21
22 – 24 October, 2021
Wyandotte, Oklahoma

http://centralwar.com/events/LeastWeasel21.shtml



Friday, October 16, 2020

A Guide to the After Action Review Process

I think we all know in principle at least that some sort of post-activity accountability is good, so improvements can be made to the next project, or the next phase.

Far too often, we skip this, or have vague chats about it. But we at CWG prefer the term and the process of the After Action Report. After an activity, you sit down and talk about it.

After Action Reviews are collaborative, inclusive assessments performed after any major activity or event. Ideally, everyone is involved. For exercises, have both sides attend both AARs, or do them both sequentially in one meeting. Tell everyone what the process is before you start. Show them this document, and make them stick to it. The moderator must interrupt people if they don’t follow the process. And the process is:

Get everyone in a room. Be ready to write things down where they can be seen, get a good moderator (preferably not from the team) and in turn discuss the:
  • Plan
  • Performance
  • Issues
  • Fixes
One person talks, everyone else listens, everything gets written down. Ideally, few computers are open and all the participants just listen. 

Plan

Communicated by the most senior actual battlefield leader:
  • What did you intend to happen?
Do not talk about what actually happened. Usually, you do not even describe changes in the plan at first. From the original plan, describe one or more of the following:
  • End state, what did you expect it to look like when done
  • Operational guidelines
  • Plans and coordination
  • Timelines, schedules
Brief, but complete, it should not take more than about 5 minutes. If it can be done in 30 seconds, all the better. It doesn't have to be done from memory, so the orders documents can be referred to, but don't just read an OPORD out loud.

Try not to project anything or use PowerPoint, but communicate by speaking of the issues instead. 

It can be good to have higher level goals discussed as well, so feel free to refer to the orders received or even to invite the next higher level command to the review process, if available. 

Write down all of this. Any method you like is good, from typing, to whiteboard to post-its.

Performance

For this step, the leadership cannot talk. Instead, everyone else talks. Usually, "everyone" is just the next level or two of command on down, vs every soldier involved, but still get them to answer:
  • What really happened?
Try to go around the table, and get everyone to provide input in turn. Make sure everyone is engaged. None of that false engagement by asking “does anyone else have something to say.” Instead go one by one around the table, or down the TOO.

Even if a respondant they say “it was said” then ask which one they would have said so that can be emphasized. It assures they feel engaged, and increases accuracy. They might have misheard, added their interpretation, or have a slightly different point to make.

Analyze these results: Compare to the Plan step. Looking for deltas here, and considering it like this helps make it more brief. Improvements over the Plan are fine. Cover all changes from the plan.

Again, go step by step. Do not say why anything happened. Just what happened.

Issues

This time, everyone can talk, although the most senior leadership should go last to assure they do not influence all other answers.  

Many AARs open this up and everyone raises hands and gets called on, but I think that’s risky. So again, everyone in turn should be called on to answer:
  • Why did those things happen?
"These things" are the performance phase items. Why did the things that are written down from the previous phase happen. New things that happened either should be ignored, or you have to stop and write them down on the what-happened list first.

If leaders seem to be taking over, or anyone steps on someone else, it is the moderator’s job to stop it. Everyone can help keep on target. 

Going around the table again is probably the best way, but if everyone is getting tired of this at least make sure there is minimal back-and-forth discussion, to avoid arguments or the original point being lost in the discussion. One person talks, and the point is put up, and that’s it. 

If the person bringing up the issue says they are not sure why; then go to raising hands, and one person responds at a time. Keep this under control. 

Some other notes:

  • You can consolidate items in the Performance step to single issues.
  • Try not to bring up Issues that are not gaps in Performance.
  • Discuss positive changes from plan or expectation, not just problems.
  • Participants might disagree. Some discussion is acceptable but if they are not going to agree, just write down both and move to the next phase. 

Fixes

Again, everyone talks. Same methods as above ideally to be sure everyone is engaged equally. If everyone is playing nicely, this may go towards raising hands, but I do find that people who don’t actively volunteer still have ideas and we need to drag it out of them.

Instead of talking, sometimes having everyone write their ideas on Post-its to share is a fine idea. This also works well if the team is very large so it would take too long to get all ideas out there. 

The core question is:

  • What could be done differently to Improve this issue OR,
  • What should be done the same, to Sustain this success in the future?

How to do this?

Try to address each Issue in the above list. Try not to discuss Fixes for things not already discussed.

Classify each item as “Improve” or “Sustain.” Either it was a problem to fix, or a benefit to keep. 

Note that many Sustain items are small. That doesn't mean they aren’t beneficial. Try to notice all that was done well, even if small, and accidental. 

Everything must be actionable, at least for permanent organizations (ad hoc game/exercise environments can skip this). Even Sustains. Assign a person (not a team, an individual). That individual must be there, and agree to it. Even if they can’t fix, they can find the person who can fix it, and it’s still their responsibility.

Fixes should still not be personal. Even if the problem was a person, don’t use this to simply point fingers. Instead provide training, provide more communications, move them to a place or role they fit better, things like that. Everything must be actionable, and their boss more likely gets the actions, not them.

Remember in general this should not be a griping session, but sticking to the process means that issues can be brought up that might have otherwise been perceived as an attack.

You are not allowed to say “Joe wouldn’t let us do x” because you have to say “We failed to perform activity x” and then some time later, you can explain why, and very often someone else will. Many times, in my experience, the person responsible will even do it for you. “Oh, I stopped that because…” You learn there are reasons, and it’s not all incompetence and personal bias.

These often become effectively team building exercises as you learn about everyone else, and how their role really works in practice.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Swift Fox 20 Moves Online

When we postponed our normal spring event, Operation Swift Fox 20, it was for the direct safety of players, staff and the general public due to proximity and travel. 

We had hoped that by October everything would be well in hand, so rescheduled to the fall. However, aside from continued high rates of infection in much of the US, with concordant restrictions, the situation has put much strain on everyone financially, and personally. 

CWG has chosen to cancel all in-person events for at least the remainder of 2020, and will not resume them until it is safe and reasonable for everyone to do so. 

But, we're not shutting down entirely. 

This year, CWG will instead host an online event on the same weekend, pitting larger scale forces, with more capabilities, over a longer timeframe. This event will like all of them be about how you command, plan, manage, and think. We'll simply no longer also be physically testing your ability to hike, sneak, see, and shoot. 

It's also much, much cheaper. 

Only $20 to attend, and no travel costs or new equipment needs. 

Swift Fox 20 will have the same overall scenario, pitting small units of the fictional Ardean and Kitoy against each other to gain control of the disputed, depopulated, mountainous Central Grafston Highlands. However, we'll be doing it as a tabletop exercise.  

Of course, there won't be a real tabletop, and it will all be online. But the principles are the same. You will play the role of a small unit — as small as a Squad — and will perform a mission, find and fight the enemy, and communicate with your chain of command over a voice link to simulate tactical radio.

Everyone will be sent a digital map file you may use online or print out if you have access to large format printing. For an extra fee we can also mail a paper map with the event registration.

Some players will be put in charge of higher level units, such as Platoons and Companies. You will have to communicate as though in the field to pass information, and orders. Since it's voice, you better have a notebook around to write it all down as well. 

Without the tabletop, you won't simply move the counters across the board, but will have to talk via an instant messenger link to the game administrators. 


Interested? Sign up today, or just visit the event details page to find more details.

http://centralwar.com/events/SwiftFox20.shtml




Tuesday, March 17, 2020

SWIFT FOX 20 POSTPONED

With increasing recommendations and restrictions on gatherings and travel as a result of the global pandemic, CWG must respect our mantra of Safety First, and will regretfully postpone SWIFT FOX 20.
We do not yet have a new date for the event, but will share it here as soon as we do. Expect fall, to avoid the heat of summer on the plains.
All existing Swift Fox 20 payments will be held and apply to the postponed event OR to Swift Fox 21, if it turns out you cannot make the new date.
In addition, and unlike our usual policy, for Swift Fox 20 you may request a refund at ANY time. That means you can wait until you know the new time, or even until the event approaches in a few months to decide.
To request a refund, simply respond to your reservation confirmation email asking for it.
If you lost that, message us here or email to sales@centralwar.com, and pay attention to responses as we may need to ask for addition info.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

HIT! Medic and respawn rules at Swift Fox 20

Here at CWG we agonized for a long time about how to represent and handle casualties. We wanted to be accurate, without too terribly much burden on the individual participant.

What we ended up with was nothing much for the casualty to do, and a Combat Medic role, often filled by people who are combat medics, or EMTs, in their actual life.


The casualty just calls HIT, lays down, and indicates they are a casualty with a red rag. Lay there until 5 minutes have passed — everyone is required to have a watch — and it is safe and not disruptive to the fighting, to walk off to the aid station.

If a medic arrives before 5 minutes are up, they will open their aid bag and retrieve, first, a casualty card. These are randomized, and indicate where you were hit, and what the effect was. Some effects are reduced or removed if you were wearing armor.

Treatment is anything from a bandaid (you think you were killed, but the medic confirms "it's just a scratch") to bandages, slings, and splints that remove the ability to use various parts of your body.


Casualty Care in the GDL

For Swift Fox 20, we're changing this up in one important way. The GDL, as an insurgent force spends their limited training time and supply budget — especially with a lot of uneducated locals — on arms and other skills and systems directly related to the battle. So, no buddy care, no medics.


But, that's the only difference. When hit, you call hit, lay down (if safe), indicate you are hit with the red rag, and after 5 minutes (or longer if the battle is still raging on top of you), get up and walk to the Aid Station.

Aid Stations

Your recovery or respawn will take place at an Aid Station. This is sited to be as unlike to be attacked as we can, and may even be in a specifically out-of-bounds area.

Aid Stations are well marked, with a large red cross, and usually have signs along the road when you get anywhere nearby, to direct you to it.


They are not hidden because they are notionally Aid Stations. Large, manned facilities. That includes notional defending troops. Anyone attacking an aid station will stop immediately, as soon as they realize, or someone stomps out of the aid station to tell them, and then will declare themselves casualties as the defending troops are assumed to have killed them all.

GDL Aid Station

That said, there may or may not be a GDL Aid Station this year. The principles would all still apply, but since the campsite will be "over the border" in another country and cannot itself be attacked or anything, we may simply let you go back there, and spend your respawn time in the spendor of your tent.


Read More

Read these other entries for more details on casualty handling, especially if you will be a Medic:
Rules: Hit, Medic, and Respawn

Some blog posts, in date order. Note that we did revisions, so older ones may use odd terms like call the Aid Station a Casualty Collection Point. The changes to today's method are explained in later blog posts.
The Combat Medic at CWG Events

Combat Medic Skills: Treatment of Wounds at CWG Events

Changes: Casualties





Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Shelters for Swift Fox 20

Last year especially really reminded me of the need for good shelters at our events, and for carrying and using them.

The weather can change fast at events like Swift Fox 20 (sign up today!), and it doesn't take much wetness or cold, or especially both combined, to be very uncomfortable very fast.

Or even, be outright dangerous. We want you to be safe above all, as I said in the sleep system post last week. A shelter on top of a sleep system can be a real difference between comfort and danger. Consider the weather, talk to your team, and think of what else you should bring to be comfortable the whole weekend.

Buildings

First off, the field we're using for Swift Fox events has a lot of structures of one sort or another. Much more another, though. The ones on the playing area are often quite derelict, often deliberately so to act as bombed-village props. They can provide some protection, but it is rather obvious, so not necessarily the most tactically prudent choice.
Some of the roofless structures at DDAP, as viewed from another one across the river at Swift Fox 19. Good for hiding, but no protection from the rain or snow.

If you decide conditions mean you should camp out in a structure, you will likely need a tarp or tent as well, so between the various other downsides of structures, don't assume any are around to save you.

Kitoy this year will be based in a relatively secure structure with a door.

But even there, we won't all be squished into the building to sleep, but using it as an operations center. It is also likely that it leaks and drips, and maybe we'll loose a fight and have to relocate anyway. So you'll need to plan for shelter in the event you are sleeping in the woods, in the rain.

Tents 

Ultra Lightweight (UL) gear has been all the rage for my entire outdoors career. With high tech fabrics, some of it is sturdy enough to use for military purposes, or of course to bring out to rough and tumble events like Swift Fox. Pyramids are a common way to get to a tent, like this:
Read more about these sorts of shelters over here, among other places.

One pole (often not provided, and it should be a hiking stick) and sides. That's it. These pack down as small as a cargo pocket and weigh nothing. They are not all bright colors, so can be suitable, and are nice if you own one as a backup, to always have shelter, because they are so light. But, expensive.

Most tents that apply to this small and light event, these days, are instead free-standing tents with floors. Put the poles in and they pop up, have a completed shape. Pick them up and move them around a bit to their final position. You can't dig into the dirt, and can't cook inside them, but fire in any sort of shelter smaller than standing height gives me the willies, so that's fine with me.

A woodland camouflaged LEWS at Swift Fox 18

That also means they can blow away. Really, not kidding, seen it too many times to count. Stake your tents, or at least make sure they always have sufficient stuff inside. Always. A lot of the blowing-away I have seen is right after everyone takes their stuff out in the morning.

If you need the tent for shelter, you are likely to need the rain fly. Those are usually provided as an extra thing over the top, and for maximum efficiency, should definitely be staked, to bring the sides out, and to add vestibules, or little covered porches to store your gear in.

Tarps 

A simple rectangular tarp can be put to many uses. As a ground sheet, to wrap yourself in, as a lean to, or with a center ridgeline cord, as a roof with the footprint of a tent. You can pick and choose based on terrain and conditions in ways you can't so easily with a tent, and can deploy them very quickly.


There are even ways to use them with poles, if you wish to pack those, but you will need stakes, or lots of trees to tie to.

The Australians love their hoochie, and there's much discussion of that and ways to rig tarps over here.

Another one that those who like ponchos do is to use it as a shelter. They even make aftermarket ponchos that are more suitable as shelters.

Whichever you do, plan ahead most of all by bringing enough cords to use it in these several ways. I have pre-set cords on the corners of my ICS fly and the tarp I often pack, and also extra cord to use as a center ridgeline, if that is needed.

I'd also bring stakes, and some way to secure the system, ideally some mechanical toggles, so you aren't relying on tying a dozen knots as your hands start to freeze up. Be careful about bungees and plastic cord ends; you may have a lot of load on this, and they can fail, as they have for me.


Mix/Match/Other

Lots of military issued shelters are modular, and provide several options. The USGI shelter half is one common example, providing a (heavy, canvas) tarp, a ground sheet, a lean too, or when two are attached to each other, a small tent suitable for two. Combine 4 and you have a thing called a Von Ruck, with room in the middle for a fire, room around the edges for 4 to sleep, or 8+ to sit and work, eat, or generally huddle up.

One I always pack is the ICS or Improved Combat Shelter. Or actually, sometimes I do. More often, I carry just the fly, as either with no, one, or two poles it can be a (not free standing) lean to. Combined with the bivy, this sort of setup provides a lot of protection from bad weather, for you and your gear.
This is old. I have a Woodland fly now and it's much sneakier like that.

You also don't need to pick only one. You may find it useful to bring either a modular system so you can flexibly choose what to deploy, or multiple systems, such as a tarp and a small tipi or tent.

Whether yourself or in coordination with your team, if you choose to bring a shelter, talk to everyone else. It may be that only one large tarp is needed, and a tent could be stored at the supply point, for use only if you have a base camp and the time and circumstances to set it up.

Camouflage, Concealment

Tarps and tents are not foolproof ways to hide; they are not lightproof for example, but they are better than nothing by a wide margin, even by themselves, as long as you bring something that's a suitable color, and try to hide it.

Camouflage patterns on tents and tarps, can be extremely effective. As long as you site them well they can look like a bush or rock from even quite close range.


This one, poorly set up on top of a hill because it was dark, was found by the enemy, but they didn't realize it was a tent until 10 yards away.

Sealed Tents, Buildings, Vehicles

One great thing tents provide is that they are sealed off areas. You can take your goggles off!

Now this is important to get right. It only applies to sealed tents. Tarps, lean toos, von-ruck sheleters? No. No way. Zipped up doors are sealed tents.

I'll consider a tipi or shelter half as tent the same, as long as you do pretty well getting the sides down to the ground. Stake them well for safety as well as warmth.

Don't leave eyepro off when the door is open. And think about why it's safe: no pellets. Don't bring guns inside the tent. This is a pretty typical thing anyway in bad weather; you may cover the gun, but leave it outside so there's no temperature change to condense on the gun and mess it up. And, also, for the same safety reasons; tents are small and you don't need to accidentally shoot someone.

And for anyone attacking into a place with vehicles with the doors closed and rolled up, buildings with closed doors, or tents with zipped- or snapped-up entrances: Leave Them Alone.

You can attack the campsite, but DO NOT open doors, stick muzzles under tent edges, etc. Actually, tents are pretty thin so avoid shooting at the tent walls themselves too much.

Call out safety kills or just declare "everyone in that tent is dead" after firing some bursts at the ground. No one hiding behind a few mils of nylon should give you any argument.

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