Following my post on “Terrorism as a response to electoral fraud” two days ago, I’ve had a few e-mail conversations with readers about the prospects for widespread disruptions in the event that our politics “goes kinetic”, to coin a phrase. What struck me was the sheer, blind arrogance of a couple of left-wing correspondents about how all this was “nothing more than right-wing mental masturbation”, that “Trumpers talk a good fight, but will never do anything about it”, and that “there simply isn’t much any individual can do to disrupt our cities”.
I’ll leave the first two comments for events to prove or disprove. The third, however . . . how anyone could be so blind to reality is mind-boggling. I mean, have you ever looked – really looked – at the streets within one mile of your home, and realized how vulnerable our towns and cities really are? I learned about it at first hand as a Civil Defense Sector Officer for part of the central business district of a major South African city. Here’s what I learned way back then, and what I see every day all around me.
- A utility right-of-way (for hard-wired telephones, cable TV, etc.) runs through the middle of our back yard, about 20 feet from my back door. I see two of its connection boxes jutting up from our lawn every time I look through a window. If the cables running through that right-of-way were to suffer some sort of accident, every hard-wired telephone connection and every cable TV connection linked to them would come to a grinding halt. That includes the control panel for the water storage and distribution center about a third of a mile down the road.
- Every major intersection in a nearby city is equipped with traffic lights. Every one of them is controlled from a single large metal container set back from the road on one of the intersection’s corners. Take out that metal box, and the entire traffic light system connected to it would shut down. Do that for a couple of dozen major intersections, particularly in larger cities with heavier traffic, and the resultant gridlock would make traffic cops tear their hair out and weep. It’d take weeks or months to sort out, because municipalities (not to mention manufacturers) don’t keep large quantities of spares for those things just lying around. They’re too expensive. For that matter, there are only so many people who know how to connect and/or repair them.
- In larger cities and even in some smaller towns, tunnels carry utilities, power and other connections to large buildings. Take out those tunnels (e.g. a fire, a flood, or whatever) and every service they provide shuts down. Skyscrapers have no air-conditioning, no elevators, no sewage service . . . you get the picture. The CBD shuts down until repairs can be made – and if traffic is also disrupted, those working there have a hell of a time getting home. We’re not talking delays lasting hours, but days or even weeks.
- Every pole around here carrying power cables is made of wood, often treated with bitumen or some other substance to slow down rot or control insects. Wood burns very easily, particularly if it’s soaked in bitumen or helped along with some gasoline. A couple of drive-bys in the small hours of the morning could burn a hundred poles in a several-mile radius. For that matter, a couple of wraps of home-made or commercial det cord will bring down the entire pole.
- For that matter, many of those power poles carry small transformers. A few rifle shots into each from a passing car, and that transformer’s toast. Take out enough of them, and you’ve lost power to an entire suburb. That doesn’t count electrical sub-stations, as discussed in the earlier article. Take out one of those, and you’ve lost power to multiple suburbs. Take out a dozen of them, and a city is paralyzed.
- There are nine or ten centers within 50 miles of me where couriers (e.g. FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.) receive parcels for delivery and/or collect parcels for dispatch to other centers. Disrupt those centers (which can be as simple as a power or utility interruption, or a blockage on roads leading to or from them, or something more serious such as a fire) and package processing and delivery will be severely impacted. Nowadays, that hits home shoppers as well as businesses – and have you any idea how many medical prescriptions are filled by courier or mail order these days? In a bigger center, which might have an Amazon fulfilment center or a Walmart regional distribution facility, disruptions to them might have a serious impact for scores, even hundreds of miles around.
- In areas where heavy rain is a factor (not only severe storms such as hurricanes, but just normal seasonal rains too), any blockages to storm water drainage systems can very rapidly cause flooding. Enough of it can paralyze a city for days, if not weeks, particularly given collateral damage to things like rail and road tunnels, electrical wiring and junction boxes, commercial and domestic basements, and so on. Why do you think cities constantly urge residents to keep the drains clear of debris and foreign objects? If anyone were to dump a lot of those foreign objects where they’d do the most harm, perhaps aided by a few bags of Portland cement here or there, chaos might result.
- What if trash collection trucks were immobilized for some reason? The same applies to fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks, etc. They’re all vital resources. Engines can be damaged in any number of ways that leave no trace as to who did it.
- Cell phone towers. No need for anything complex: a few rifle shots into each transmitter/receiver element on the tower would shut them down. Millions of Americans own rifles with telescopic sights that are more than capable of doing that. With every smartphone in a city shut down, how will everyday life be affected? No apps, no GPS navigation . . . it doesn’t bear thinking about.
- Railroads. One of the major east-west railway lines passes less than two miles from my front door. I don’t want to think how many trains per day use it, laden with containers, coal, oil, and who knows what else. Interrupt that traffic, and you’re talking millions of dollars per day in economic costs – not to mention goods and supplies that don’t get to where they’re needed.
- Flat tires. Have people driving around, going about their ordinary everyday business, discreetly drop home-made caltrops along roads and in intersections as they pass. There are many ways it can be done without anyone noticing. Before long, every tire shop in town will have run out of popular tire sizes, and there’ll be a waiting list days or weeks long to get new tires fitted. Do that in cities and towns across a region, and you’re talking weeks or months to get everyone mobile again. That includes ambulances, fire trucks, police vehicles, delivery vans, and so on, not just private motorists.
- Disrupt the distribution of clean, potable water, and within days you’ll have an epidemic of diarrhea, cholera and other nasties. Most cities and towns I know use water towers to manage distribution. They’re great big metal things, sticking up out of the ground, recognizable for miles. How much work would it be for someone to cut through the wire fences surrounding them, get inside, and take care of business?
- Disrupt the EBT system in supermarkets and corner stores, and watch an entire segment of the urban population erupt in riots.
Those are just a few thoughts, based on what I’ve seen happen in urban conflict and violence in several countries in Africa, as well as local problems I’ve seen here in America since I moved here more than two decades ago. Note, too, that I haven’t mentioned a single deliberately lethal attack – no bombs directed at people, no mass shootings, no arson of occupied premises, etc. If those are added to the mix, the consequences will be unimaginable.
One doesn’t even need sophisticated destructive devices to do the work. A chain wrapped around a small junction or controller box, tied to the tow ball of a pickup truck, will rip it out of the ground. It’ll take out a section of fence, or pull a door out of a wall. There are lots of pickup trucks around, and plenty of heavier vehicles that can be “borrowed” if needed – or even just hired for a day. U-haul, anyone? Penske? Budget? There are dozens of firms that’ll eagerly rent you what you need. Heck, Home Depot or Lowes will rent you power tools that will make a mess of just about anything! Chainsaw, meet wood pole. Tree-trimmer, meet power lines. There are firms renting major powered equipment to building contractors, or construction equipment to road builders, etc. that can do even better. Bulldozer, meet brick wall. Farm tractor with plow, meet utility right-of-way.
To make matters even more interesting, there are millions of Americans who’ve “seen the elephant” in Iraq, Afghanistan and similarly interesting places over the past few decades. They’ve witnessed at first hand how terrorists were able to disrupt society and normal everyday life. They were also taught, by Uncle Sam, to deal with such things. They’re now in civilian life, but still have all that knowledge. (Mine didn’t come from Uncle Sam, but I learned the same lessons wearing a different uniform.)
Our society and its structures are very, very vulnerable to those wishing us harm. Let’s hope and pray we don’t learn that the hard way. They can be found on both wings of US politics, too, as evidenced by ‘Earth First’ terrorists or pipeline opponents. The problem isn’t limited to just ‘frustrated Trumpers’.
Our indigenous Canadian natives, protesting whatever (it never stops, no matter how much you placate them – remember that as American blacks demand “reparations”) shut down a single rail track this summer and disrupted rail traffic across the country for weeks.
The Weapon by Michael Z Williamson is a disturbing read on what is possible…
Didn't read the book, what is the weapon?
Peter, I fear we are going to learn some lessons the hard way. You speak of shooting out local power transformers. A minor inconvenience.
Recently I read of a plan that can take out the entire western power grid: There is a place in Arizona Where those tall steel power towers of that grid stretch to the horizon in either direction, distributing power to just about everywhere in the west, and there is a spot out in the middle of nowhere (literally) where those towers suddenly make a course change of more than 30 degrees. A bit of explosive on a leg of the tower that is the fulcrum of that course change and down it goes. The resulting loss of line tension will take out numerous towers in both directions, perhaps for miles. Repair would take many weeks.
That's just one of the surprises the Antifa and BLM has for us. It is my opinion that we must neutralize these organizations completely, and soon. They are – in the truest sense – our enemies and it we don't take them out soon, we will most assuredly learn a whole lot of things the hard way. If it takes violence – and it will – so be it.
Additionally, I am a military veteran, weapons trained and understand the consequences of such an action. But if we don't take action now, the cost will be immeasurably higher.
Burning car fleets is a favorite past time for German leftist radicals.
DHL (parcel service), police or military car-parks are often targeted. Just this night they burned a couple Wolfs of the Bundeswehr.
There were a couple attacks on the railways, most of the times minor arson to junction boxes for signals, that shut down train traffic for hours to days in some regions. It mostly annoys commuters, as most of our goods for short term use get shipped on the roads.
These attacks all more or less aim to prove a point, not to cause a major disruption. But a couple similar low intensity attacks in a given region would cripple the region for days. But Germany is (relatively) small, our infrastructure is much more interconnected and it's easier to bypass damaged sections.
P.S.: Most of the time the media just glances over these acts of terrorism because it comes from the left…
Two idiots with a AR and a hole in the trunk of their car shut down DC and surrounding areas for quite some time. John Malvo and his nephew. The former cop Dormer in Cali shut down a huge area and cops were shooting up innocent people just driving down the road. Our "system" in the US is very fragile. Do these so called correspondents even read?
Tis frightening how fragile modern life is…
Several times in my military and commercial life I've worked with former Seal enlisted and officers. In a moment within a disaster recovery planning session for the company, one mentioned that a small group of smart, resourceful people could cripple the US for a decade or more with a couple weeks of "creative work". I didn't ask for details…
I'm getting my meds from Express Scripts by mail.
Terrence Popp did a video about this.
You're not going to want to be in New York City when the shit hits the fan.
IMO, the Antifa types don't know enough about US infrastructure to execute attacks like these. And a right-wing insurrection wouldn't want to, because few of these attacks would hurt the Deep State, while most would harm citizens who either are right-wing or could be persuaded to become so.
Right-wing terrorism, if it appears, will aim at the Left's power centers and its clients, and leave the productive part of the economy alone. Of the possibilities you mention, only shutting down EBT fits the profile.
I am not in any way espousing violence but I have long had an observation that Liberals and anti gunners obsession with what they call "assault weapons" is hilarious. I wonder if they actually understand what my pre 64 Model 70 Winchester 30.06 with the 3 to 9X variable Redfield is really capable of.
Projection is a typical leftist problem. They believe, if they don't know how to do something, no one know how to do it. And they have never heard the proverb, "Beware the Fury of a patient man"
While getting stuff done on Wednesday, I heard two callers (the same guy?) call both Rush’s and Hannity’s show saying that the socialists will win because conservatives don’t have the nerve to fight back and they hate our society more than they love their lives.
I understand why they think that way. The left wing rioters and anarchists are being propped up by the locals. They have faced virtually no resistance. Nobody’s shooting back. None of the rioters have been standing next to someone whose head suddenly explodes.
Something to consider if you are looking at damage to infrastructure is how long that damage will persist. Things like knocking down a power line are likely to last a couple days as the power companies have plans for storm damage repair that can deal with localized damage.
Looking at not easy to repair power options you come up with the large power station transformers. I'd prioritize ones for outside power coming into the city, then ones at local generation / surge plants, saving the distribution ones for last. There are very few spares for the big stuff and getting one can take a week or longer. Damage to one that destroys some of the windings, not just a coolant leak that shuts it down until it cam be patched and refilled is a major problem. Most cases aren't all that thick and a FMJ 30 something should be able to poke through and start fireworks. Damage to more than the number of available spares leaves folks down until new ones can be built.
Same for pipelines, the pipe is usually a quick fix, valves can be patched around. The pumping stations are just as subject to damage as the lines and valves and if done well they will have to order new pumps, likely with months to delivery.
This short read was a real eye-opener. How simple it could be to bring down the United States in a day, with small arms only and a very limited number of dedicated personnel.
This novella by New York Times bestselling author William R. Forstchen imagines a horrifying scenario where, in the course of one day, the terrorist group ISIS carries out massacres in schools and on highways across the United States. With a surprisingly small but well-organized and ruthless force, the nightmarish devastation brings America to a state of near-paralysis."
As counters personally, and socially-
*right of way in your backyard – of course you would attack someone ELSE'S backyard…
-personal – no big deal if you have hard copy of entertainment options, and cell or radio service, and who do you REALLY need to talk to anyway? Sat phone if you REALLY need to talk.
-social – they have a lot of experience fixing those things, lots of storm damage, etc. you'd have to cut a lot of cables or shoot the fixers, and you'd mostly be hurting your own locals Not a great target.
*traffic light controls – I used to have access to a major city's boneyard (service and maintenance area). They have a LOT of experience replacing the controls as somewhere a drunk hit the box, pretty much every week if not every day. LOTS of spares. Eventually they would run low, but more of inconvenience and a very short term attack
– personal – be prepared to stay home. If working outside your home, have alternate routes, and CHECK before committing to a route. Real time traffic maps are invaluable (while grid is still up). Worst case, always pee before you leave, have enough stuff in the car that sitting in it for 8 hours won't break you. Respond quickly if it looks like a disruption is happening, don't get boxed in.
– social – coordinated attacks will have local and temporary impact but if it becomes a 'thing' they'll work out a way to counter it. Ordinary people have directed traffic in past events. WORSE/ more effective if used in conjunction with another attack to slow or stymie responses.
*utility tunnels – aesop has had something to say about these recently.
-personal – be prepared to do without those things if you are served by them.
-social – pick the right manhole and you will REALLY screw things up. Pick 10 and you have a very effective attack. Cities are hardening manholes with locks and welding. They are mostly counting on obscurity atm, but that will change quickly. Chlorine powder or liquid bleach will corrode everything in a confined space, and the presence will act as a denial device. LOTS of pool supplies around… THESE workers are in short supply and are more likely to be sympathetic. A cable cutting war is the nuclear option.
*utility poles – it's been my observation that they don't actually burn all that well. Could be a US thing, might be age related. Chainsaws work, but 'ware embedded steel.
-personal – preps. Be ready to be on your own.
-social – There are probably more effective attacks, and quieter ways to attack these. Look for poles that are already leaning or that have additional guy wires that can be attacked. Attacks on poles will mainly effect your locals, which might not be desireable.
*transformers – yep. vulnerable as hell. The oil inside is flammable too.
-personal – preps!
-social – "shot spotter" systems will be deployed, traffic and street cams will be used. Since attacks hurt locals, snitches will be encouraged. Anyone with a rifle will be suspect- and possible victim of 'swatting' or snitches. Substations are getting fences, radar intrusion detection, and cameras as fast as homeland grants can be filled out. There are a LOT of them though. Easier attack would be just shutting off sections of the local grid. The handles are secured at the base of the poles with a simple padlock. Cut that, rotate the handle, chop it off, bail…. super quiet and easy. Look for the handles while out driving. If death of a thousand cuts is desirable, this is one way to get it. FWIW, I've seen pics of a guy stealing copper bars from a substation… he was so cooked a meat thermometer showed "well done", all his clothes were blown off, and the river rock he was laying on was discolored from the heat… standoff attacks will be safer…
*distribution centers – you should know where these are as part of your area survey anyway- as resource depots during the zombie apocalypse… They are huge and have a massive perimeter. Only a few gates though.
– personal – once again, the power of prepping prevents an impact on you.
-social – any disruption short of burning the whole place down is going to be very short lived. Trucks are very mobile. The workforce is probably the most effective way to shut them down, IT attacks next, you'll only get one chance at 'harassment' like caltrops or taking out their substation. There is a whole industry built around providing temp power.
*flood control – vulnerable but legally has enhanced protections and penalties, is getting DHS upgrades as fast as possible.
– personal – prepping and location
-social – even flooding every sub-basement in the Loop in Chicago didn't shut down the city. Anywhere with floods common enough for this to be effective is going to have LOTS of experience dealing with flooding. MUCH more effective in areas that don't flood. See also, Tempe AZ and dam failure. Youtube "Drain Addict" and "Post 10" for more and useful examples.
*trash – definitely harassment. Not critical
– personal – reduce reuse recycle – and a burn barrel
-social – NYC has this happen every couple of years. People deal. Fire and EMS, well, attacking them will cause everyone to hate you. Look at the recent "red house" occupation and the spike strips they made. FWIW, it's a lot easier to unscrew the stem insert or to cut off the stems than to poke holes in tires with a knife.
*cell towers – very little protection but lots of redundancy.
– personal – get a backup phone on another carrier. Pick an actual carrier, not someone who resells access to the same network as your primary. And why are you carrying the spy device if you're a partisan anyway??
-social – the antennas are not as vulnerable as you think. The boxes full of REALLY EXPENSIVE switches at the base of the tower are as vulnerable as any other electronics to ballistic damage. Easier to shoot too. Or burn. Or hit with a stolen dozer… Look for towers that serve multiple carriers, there will be clusters of boxes…
*rail lines – very vulnerable, but experienced cleaning up accidents
– personal – preps again…
-social – relatively easy to attack, but there is redundancy. Look for choke points. Oh, and a LOT of data goes thru fiber buried next to RR tracks. Look for the telltale posts and warning signs, and relatively new boxes…
-personal – have plug kits and those 12v compressors in your vehicle. Keep mounted spares at the ready. Know how to use them.
– social – area denial combined with other attacks bring this to a higher level. NB- roofing nails are VERY effective at damaging tires, according to all the hurricane AARs I've read. Just something to keep in mind…. big trucks have much more sturdy tires than light trucks and cars. It doesn't take much to shut down a freeway for hours at busy times.
*water systems – There are other things besides water towers that might be more accessible. Look at any bridge over water, there are probably pipelines parallel to or even attached to the bridge, no matter how small.
– personal – water is your FIRST need. You should have already prepped for a lack of running water.
– social – easier to contaminate, or convince people you did, than to disrupt, for even less effort… just saying. Water distribution systems are old and fraught with breaks even on the best of days. They've got LOTS of experience fixing these. Couple of bodies in the reservoir? 55 gallon drums of chemicals? Dead cow? Not so much.
– personal – don't be dependent on the government, prep, and be ready to stay at home.
– social – the food and water distribution will follow a hurricane relief model. Secondary targets anyone?
Natural gas pipelines and distribution are EVERYWHERE and are conveniently marked with yellow poles. Telcom too only with orange on white. The little survey flags also point out what lies beneath and Blue is water, red is power..
Lots of communities rely on lift stations to keep the sewers moving…
A Field Guide to Roadside Technology Paperback – June 1, 2006
by Ed Sobey is a helpful resource…
There are a million ways to attack infrastructure, in a harassment or death of a thousand cuts campaign. Those attacks are very likely to piss off any possible allies, or undecideds, and so should be carefully considered. Of course, the enemies of society have no such qualms.
For a general EBR outage, it will take the inner city folk about 4 days to start rioting and looting the food stores, from the history of the (IMO, .gov test) EBT outage of 2013. (Birmingham, etc)
People who have never made anything, and who assume that food just shows up at the market when they want it, may be unable to concieve of an infrastructure failure.
They may become educated to that, if only as a way to keep State and Federal forces occupied supporting them, rather than oppressing us.
John in Indy
I find it hard to believe your average MAGA type would shit in their own nest, so to speak. That’s a BLM/Antifa thing. More than likely these fools would do it once or twice and the rest of us would step up guard. I used to work in cable tv. The second time I’m fixing a line late at night because some jackass cut it, I’d be out hunting.
Lots of actions in this mental exercise not a lot of reaction. Rioters riot because they are allowed. Soon as the bodies hit the ground, they usually stop.
Ken and Deb above was right. The DC sniper messed up that area bug time. I was there and knew people that flat out wouldn’t shop during it.
A beater and a bolt action, and random targets (think gubmint workers) is all you’d need. Works for antifa ad well. Dressing tactical and acting out is all fun and games until there’s a decent chance you’ll get shot. 1-2 shots, one of which a backpack/earpiece dude, then walk away.
"Didn't read the book, what is the weapon? "
–the well trained and motivated man.
His team takes down civilization on Earth so that Earth .gov lacks the resources and attention to continue their occupation of his home planet. They take it down by attacking infrastructure.
His home planet is a libertarian paradise, and they are ruthless. The other related books about how they attack the occupiers will give some good ideas for asymmetrical warfare against a high tech enemy too, as well as being entertaining reads.
The disruption of cell and landline service last week in Nashville is a strong reminder otherwise.
How many of us remember the gas pipeline break/fire in Alabama 2 years ago. That created gasoline shortages in the southeast, and that was just due to lack of maintenance.