Nov 162014
 

Central African Conflict Zone Sourcing

 C4ADS link analysis diagram for illicit ivory smuggling

Like a lot of people, I get pretty pissed off when I read that poachers kill up to 50 000 elephants each year just to harvest material that is chemically identical to my fingernails. My immediate reaction is to grab my gear, head over to Africa and start capping fuqtards. However, that’s probably going to achieve sweet f#ck all. Nope, the problem runs far deeper than just the poor bastards putting their lives on the line to drop the elephant. It runs all the way from Asia to the big game parks and back again.

Recently, a non-profit organization, C4ADS released two thoroughly detailed reports on the state of ivory smuggling. A boom in consumer demand in China has led to record levels of poaching, leading the elephant toward extinction in some parts of Africa. The reports caught my eye as they demonstrate similar methodology to that used by intelligence organizations to pull apart terrorist networks. Utilizing sophisticated analysis tools such as Palantir, they dive into the complex problem of the illicit ivory trade, from poaching through to smuggling and distribution.

Before I go further, allow me to digress. A lot of smart and motivated people are fighting against the illicit wildlife trade in Africa. Former-Special Forces soldiers like Damien Mander are working in an ‘Advise and Assist’ role with anti-poaching rangers to secure ‘High Target Species’ like rhinos and elephants. Other Non-Government Organizations like the IFAW are implementing a broad range of strategies including targeting consumer demand. This would be considered ‘PSYOPS’ or ‘Information Operations’ in a military context, and includes paying for advertising to influence the consumer. According to the IFAW 70% of the Chinese population polled believed that elephant tusks simply fall out like human teeth, and harvesting them did not result in killing the animal. They need to be educated to the bloody truth about ivory. And those eating Rhino horn also need to be reminded that they could simply chew their damn nails for all the same bullshit health benefits.

It’s important work, not just for the survival of these amazing creatures and the tourism dollars they bring to impoverished communities, but also to disrupt what has become a billion-dollar illicit industry for global organized crime. Within conflict-torn central and east Africa numerous criminal, terrorist, and insurgent groups rely on poaching. For example, Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa, Al-Shabaab in Somalia, and Janjaweed militias in Sudan, all use funding from ivory that usually end up in Chinese carving factories.

Regardless of the hard work being done, the prospects for these animals is bleak. In the years following 2006, when the Chinese government listed the ivory sector as part of the country’s ‘intangible cultural heritage’, ivory carvers and retailers have boomed. What was an attempt to save the ailing the Chinese ivory industry led to a rise in demand from the increasingly wealthy population. Now, the state-supported Chinese ivory industry relies on poaching for supply, and elephants are being culled at record rates. True, some other Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam are also consumers, but they’re assessed as consuming far less than China.

Rhinos have already been poached out of existence in parts of central Africa and elephants are the next in line. Current trends point to elephants being killed off at a rate of at least 30,000 per year and this number is rising. Directly combating poachers in conflict-zones is an almost futile course of action. Many of the poachers are heavily armed military or guerrilla units that significantly outgun the rangers. They even use their heavy weapons and helicopters to massacre Elephants. On the other side of the problem, demand-reduction strategies are unlikely to influence the Chinese population and government at a rate fast enough to ensure the elephant’s survival in many areas.

Ugandan Helicopter Hunting

Ugandan military helicopter assessed as involved in poaching

C4ADS’s reports offer some alternative strategies. I can’t cover the 160 pages of analysis or summarize all the findings here. Instead, I’ll highlight some points that might stimulate some thoughts and discussion. C4ADS advocate complementing anti-poaching and demand-reduction strategies with ‘targeting’ the smuggling networks. In military parlance, this would be referred to as ‘non-kinetic targeting’ and some of C4ADS’s recommendations are similar to counter-proliferation (or in current jargon, counter-weapons of mass effect) operations. In the case of ivory smuggling, some recommended key nodes to target are the ports in Tanzania and Kenya, most notably Mombasa.

Mombasa Port

Smugglers rely predominantly on shipping to move bulk ivory from East Africa to East Asia (mainly China). C4ADS, using open sources (publicly available information) combined with anonymous interviews, was able to generate high fidelity intelligence on this smuggling network. They highlight the issue of information existing in silos and advocate the need for an intelligence-fusion center to generate actionable intelligence. Their report leads me to believe that they have generated a great deal of intelligence, fusing data ranging from financial information, money laundering, geospatial data, law-enforcement reports, with investigative journalism and basic link analysis. One of their most significant suggestions was that in the absence of government bodies doing this analysis, a NGO like C4ADS could potentially do it on a contracted basis.

Trafficking Route Analysis

Impact could then be made through a variety of ‘non-kinetic’ options. Trusted law enforcement agencies could be tipped off to conduct seizures and arrests. If convergence is identified between ivory smuggling networks and other forms of smuggling such as human-trafficking, drugs, or weapons, the likelihood of government response could be increased. Legitimate international shipping companies being used for smuggling could also be ‘incentivized to divest through reputational pressure’. Intelligence implicating corrupt government elites could be discreetly shared with international bodies to encourage the use of political pressure, sanctions, or other economic measures. Theoretically, costs would increase for the smuggling organizations, making the trade less lucrative for them and reducing poaching. And, let’s face it, as much as we may want to put warheads on foreheads this is likely to be a more achievable and successful line of operation.

Contracted intelligence services do, however, pose a number of questions. Much of C4ADS’s information was garnered from public sources, so what if the smugglers adapt and implement stronger operational security measures? Is it appropriate for a non-government organization to step up collection to utilize other forms of intelligence? Where does one draw the line between anonymous ‘interviews’ and running a HUMINT agent network? If publicly available software is used to monitor social media or online communications, where does it cross over into the cyber-espionage realm? What happens when the billion-dollar criminal enterprise decides to retaliate? What protections do the contractors have? If the NGO needs to operate from charitable donations, how hard would it be to operate in a semi-clandestine manner in order to protect its members?

A truly effective non-government intelligence capability probably only exists in the realms of fiction right now. The covert vigilantes in my PRIMAL series of books would definitely take the fight direct to China, to ‘influence’ policy makers and ivory kingpins. Yeah sure, they’d use some techniques frowned upon by not-for-profits and government agencies but you can bet your left ball they’d be effective. If that that’s the sort of rough justice that appeals to you can ‘Join PRIMAL’ here and I’ll let you know when a PRIMAL anti-poaching novel hits the shelves.

Xiamen Network

So what do you think? Is a contracted intelligence-fusion center a viable strategy in the fight against illicit wildlife smuggling? Can NGOs hope to save the elephants while the Chinese government supports the ivory industry and demand for ivory is so high? Or will another few hundred thousand elephants die to satisfy the material needs of the economically upward but environmentally ignorant Chinese?

JS

Jul 172014
 

Hey team, a journalist friend of mine, Milly, helped me research my latest book, PRIMAL InceptionShe also recently published this article on PRIMAL. Check it out.

***

By Milly Stilinovic

Jack Silkstone, military intelligence and special ops, has dedicated a life to weeding out and roughing up those he considers to be “global douche bags”. His PRIMAL series of action thrillers focuses on a team of heavy-hitting vigilante operatives who deliver justice where governments fail. In his latest novella, PRIMAL Inception, he delves deep into the heartland of Kosovo and emerges with a confronting truth about humanitarian intervention and the wheels behind military action.

PRIMAL Inception - out soon.

PRIMAL Inception – out soon.

“They’re all dead, boss.” The man Simeon had dispatched to check on the Spetsnaz team had returned. “One car was flipped over, no survivors. The other had been shot to pieces. Fucking disgusting.”

Simeon was sitting at the table in the villa’s dining room. There was no way he was going outside again, even after Aslan’s bloated carcass was removed from the pool. He sat in silence contemplating his options.

“What do you want us to do?” the man asked.

“Get everyone packed,” said Simeon. “We’re going back to Russia. Tell the men in Dubai that we’re pulling out.”

“You sure, boss? I mean, that seems a little drastic.”

“Are you a fucking moron? Did you see what those animals did to us? They came into our territory, infiltrated our home, and put a fucking bullet in Aslan. I’m now the head of this organization and I don’t want to provoke people with that sort of capability! We go back to Russia, we lay low, and we find new territory to exploit, you hear me?”

“Yes, boss.” The man scampered away to make the necessary arrangements.

Simeon poured himself a drink from one of the bottles on the table. He wanted to get as far away as he could from this place, and from the man whose voice would haunt his dreams for the rest of his life.”

With that, author Jack Silkstone cracks his knuckles and removes his fingers from the keyboard to step away from Simeon’s dire straights. He takes a swig of his own whiskey neat, having realised that his own, confronting ghosts are manifesting before him. Ghosts that urge him to use his pen, rather than a procession of high-tech weapons, to propagate a message. One that, not only Simeon but the world needs to hear – one that deals with the remains of intervention.

On Silkstone

Silkstone is a military man who has spent the good part of twelve years honing a career in military intelligence and special operations. He has worked alongside some of the world’s most elite units and within the world’s most hostile conflict zones.

“I’ve spent a lot of time overseas in really crappy places ranging from the Middle East to South East Asia,” he says. “The majority of my time was spent tracking down bad guys so that door kickers could serve out a bit of rough justice.”

His eyes have surveyed scenes of broken bodies and battered skulls, fractured societies and the impact of war on territories that have rarely known peace. He knows the feeling of attempting to save lives as death clutches at war’s latest casualty.

“I remember a moment very early in my military career,” he says. “I was a Platoon Commander in an infantry unit deployed on a UN peacekeeping mission. It was late one afternoon and we were in our patrol base when one of the locals requested help for an accident. My platoon medic, myself and some of my soldiers ran down to the local hospital to help. A truck carrying over thirty people had rolled on a narrow road in the mountains. People had been flung from the truck like dolls. Many of them had already died on the way to the ill-equipped medical center. Death literally walked among us. I could feel her presence. She snatched lives from our hands as we fought desperately to save the lives of men and women, children and the elderly. I felt like she was breathing down the back of my neck every time I knelt next to a stretcher to triage a victim. That day was an eye opener. I was a fit young man and thought I was immortal. Trying in vain to keep a five year old alive tends to remind you how fragile the line between life and death really is.”

He has also experienced the pain of separation. The moment when a soldier realises time does not stand still in the free world. When the minds of those you’ve left behind slowly succumb to the idea that you may not return. It was during his second deployment to Afghanistan when Silkstone received a Dear John from his fiancé, the name given to communiqué from lovers citing an end to your relationship.

“Rather than let it eat at me, I turned to writing in what little spare time I had,” he says. “It helped me keep my head clear and stay focused on the job.”

Through the pain of loss, PRIMAL, a series of hard core action thrillers, was hatched.

On PRIMAL

“One of my fans called the books revenge porn and I tend to agree,” Silkstone says. “They’re fast-paced, violent, emotional and they address a lot of the injustice in the world.”

PRIMAL, according to the author, is written to highlight the true intentions of those who hone careers in the military.

“We all want to take the fight to the bad guys and we all want to shed the shackles of politics and rules and just get out there and hold the truly evil to account,” he says. “We are sick of douche bags fucking over the little people.”

The fiction-based-on-fact series follows two former CIA operatives, Vance and Ice, who join forces with Tariq Ahmed, the heir to an Arab air-freight logistics empire. The trio conspire to assassinate Tariq’s father, a Wahabist extremist responsible for ‘acts of terrorism’.

“Empowered with his father’s billion-dollar empire, Tariq offers the two men an opportunity to bring a little justice to the world,” says Silkstone. “They recruit additional operatives, Bishop, Mitch and Chua and set about raising Priority Movements Airlift (PRIMAL), the cover name for the independent team of vigilantes.”

From this the series broadened in scope and sent the covert operatives to the world’s most notorious hot spots – Sudan and South Sudan, India and Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iran…

“If there is justice to be served and governments won’t intervene then the PRIMAL team is not going to be far away,” Silkstone says.

The sixth and yet-to-be-released installation, PRIMAL Inception, follows Ice and Vance down the rabbit hole of western foreign policy and into the war-torn hills of Serbia’s former province, Kosovo. In 1999 the conflict between the forces of the federal republic of Yugoslavia and Kosovar secessionist rebels had escalated into a humanitarian crisis. At this point, the two former CIA operatives are propping the aspirations of the Kosovar rebels.

“War criminals by any standards,” says Silkstone. “These brutal fighters are an unlikely ally in a vicious ethnic conflict.”

Two years on and the region is run by a government comprised of former rebel fighters. The territory’s political infrastructure is increasingly corrupted. The streets are run by one of Eastern Europe’s strongest mafia rings and the citizens are left to air their grievances to the ears of apathetic decision-makers. Ice and Vance are faced with a stark choice. They must either abide by the façade of stability or fight a lone battle against, what the author refers to as, ‘war criminals now turned political leaders.’

“Kosovo was classic case of large-scale intervention gone wrong,” says Silkstone. “Replacing a legitimate government, albeit oppressive, with the Albanian Mafia was not a smart move.”

While the plot is specific to the region of the southeastern Balkans, Silkstone utilises the story line to confront the larger issues policy-makers, military folk and civilians must address when faced with the potential of military intervention.

“When the intent is to minimize loss of human life then intervention can be the best option,” he says. “But, when things like politics, ill-informed public opinion and national strategy cloud the issue then bad decisions can and will be made.”

Since the post-WWII era, with liberal states taking on the duty of care, the world has seen a rise of states and transnational bodies interjecting into conflict and protecting the lives of those whose governments are unable or unwilling to do so.

Intervention enjoyed a honeymoon period in the nineties with a string of military interventions deterred aggressor states from further committing gross violations of human rights – Bosnia and Hercigovina, Sierra Leone, Haiti…

The rise of intervention spurred the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan to plead with the international community to manifest a uniformed approach to intervention. He aspired to create a concept that would allow for ‘more Kosovos’ and ‘no more Rwandas.’ To do so, the international community needed to reach a consensus on what actions, orchestrated by states and non-state actors, would warrant coercion. Dizzy by, what was perceived as the success of Operation Noble Anvil in Kosovo, The Canadian Government forged the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) to compile a report that would establish common ground and a threshold that would justify action on behalf of the international community. The report, that attempted to dissolve the notion of non-interference and primacy of state sovereignty that has been upheld by the world order since the post-WW2 era, was titled the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). According to the principle of R2P, no longer would sovereignty and non-interference be a barrier for inaction when vulnerable citizens were faced with gross violations of human rights. Nonetheless, no matter how passionate Annan was to see the rights of individuals propagated as the main objective of intervention, R2P in its complete state was not accepted by the international community. The votes of those states who only had sovereignty to protect them from having their will overshadowed by the affluent assured that, at the 2005 World Summit, the execution of R2P would remain under the authority of the UN Security Council that was run by the permanent five – a body of states.

To this day, the concept of humanitarian intervention remains highly contested due to, what critics claim to be, a selective and politicised nature. This politicised nature of intervention allows states to refrain from action during large scale genocide in Rwanda in 1994. It permits the creation of an Axis of the Willing to pre-emptively strike Iraq in 2003. Orchestrated by states, or state-run bodies, intervention is still prone to being clouded by politics, interest and bias.

“It’s all about political will and strategic resources,” Silkstone says. “What does Rwanda have? Jack shit. What did Iraq have? A regime refusing to tow the party line and a fuck load of oil. At the end of the day, governments act in their own interests not the interest of the people suffering on the ground.”

Due to the interest of states shaping the outcomes of intervention, Silkstone believes that frequently the true objective of intervention is not to protect the vulnerable but to orchestrate a regime change. This state-centric approach, as claimed by Silkstone, litters history with a procession of failed interventions.

“The basic underlying foundation of humanitarian intervention should be the preservation of human life,” says Silkstone. “If it’s not then you’ve got a case of a government using it as a mask for strategic positioning. This is especially poignant when a despot is the only thing stopping multiple ethnic groups tearing each other apart. Maybe crushing that regime is not the best option.”

With regime change at the fore of intervention’s objectives, power vacuums are created which are often filled by regimes that are considered cooperative by interveners. The establishment of these regimes, considered ‘puppets’ by anti-interventionists, not only encroach on an intervened state’s right to self-determination but may not provide stability to a war-torn region that has been marred by ethnic conflict.

“Look at Kosovo as an example,” he says. “World opinion was against the Yugoslavian campaign to crush the Albanian insurgency but the reality is that the violence triggered by NATO intervention created a situation that inflicted far more casualties than the Yugoslavians ever would have. Just because governments decide to back one group over another doesn’t make them legitimate nor should it make them untouchable. Sometimes large-scale intervention is not the right model. Often political and strategic decisions need to take a back seat to common sense.”

The other option, interveners taking over the administrative responsibilities of a state by executing an interim government, further encroaches on a society’s right to freely elect their representatives. It blurs the line between intervention and occupation which further impacts on the validity of the humanitarian aspect of intervention.

“If a government overthrows a regime then occupation is necessary to replace the security and governance apparatus,” says Silkstone. “You can’t topple a regime and then provide no alternative. Iraq is a classic example of this. The Americans toppled the government and disbanded the security forces, then they were left holding their dicks as the sectarian violence spread like wild fire.”

However, the post-conflict violence that sets fragile war-zones alight with ethnic tension is, as claimed by the author, a testament to regardless of how many UN Secretary Generals plead for humanitarian-based operations, the underlying question will always remain – whose security are we really protecting?

“That’s the billion-dollar question,” says Silkstone. “At the end of the day governments are responsible for the security of their own people and their own interests. But what if we had a global entity to try and protect the security of the little guys. What about the UN? Please, the UN is an epic fail. It achieves little other than to fill third world countries with new Landcruisers and handouts of rice and plastic sheeting.”

If this be the case maybe we, the spectator, have perceived the definition of humanitarian intervention incorrectly. Maybe it is time to question what meaning we apply to the term and what actions we expect to take place in hot zones riddled with gross violations of human rights. Instead of assuming that the security of those left vulnerable in war zones is the main objective of militarily coercing a state or non-state actor into compliance, maybe it is time to consider compliance as the main objective. Compliance, based on the ideals of interveners, as a means to secure international peace and security.

“War is a tool of diplomacy,” says Silkstone. “It’s far more useful as a ‘threat’ than an action. Once war is declared only enough force to break the will of the government is required.”

While Silkstone harbours a somewhat pragmatic approach to defining humanitarian intervention, his aspirations for the concept a far more idealistic.

“In my opinion human life is more valuable than anything,” he says. “We need to balance strategic interests against the need to minimise suffering and mitigate the influence of evil. But hey, I’m just an altruistic soldier who believes in dealing out rough justice to power-mongering ass holes.”

Original article published in Sneaky Magazine here.

PRIMAL Inception is due out in August/September.

Jun 092014
 

The latest 2022 FIFA World Cup bribery scandal surprised no one. The fact that Qatar was voted to host the World Cup despite being a desert hellhole, raised more than a few questions about corruption. However, the rampant media coverage seems to have forgotten the real issue, the exploitation of migrant construction workers.

'Global safety standards, allegedly.'

‘Global safety standards’, allegedly.

The poor bastards are dying at a rate of one a day, with the estimated death toll prior to the World Cup to be in the thousands. Living in squalor, denied their passports, unable to access to basic medical facilities, and forced to work through extreme temperatures, Qatar is treating third world workers as disposable slave labor. Fortunately international pressure forced the Qatari government to commission an independent investigation into how they can implement labor reform, or maybe just treat workers like human beings. Additionally human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, are attempting to hold them to account. Except, who would have thought, there has been no significant change. Nope, they just keep killing more of their disposable minions. Is FIFA going to do anything about it? Not likely considering they are still backing their choice of Qatar and aren’t even owning up to the bribery scandal.

Qatar – perfect venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, just need to build everything from scratch and ignore the fact that no one will want to visit Qatar because it is in fact a desert sh@thole.

It’s almost like we need an independent organization to hold all these corrupt immoral douche bags to account. A covert team of pipe swinging, ninja fuckmasters immune to bribery and politics. Hard men and women willing to use any means necessary to fight for the oppressed. Before you get all excited you need to understand that these people don’t exist, at least not in the real world.  However, the exploitation of workers in the Middle East did provide the inspiration for the story of PRIMAL Origin, and yes in the story the douche bags get what they deserve. You can check out PRIMAL Origin here.

In the meantime if you want to do something positive send a big fuck you to FIFA by boycotting their bullshit events. Don’t even get me started on the sex-trafficking in Brazil for the tournament next month or how much of a Sochi-esque shitfight the 2018 event in Russia will be.

JS

 

Mar 042014
 

PRIMAL Fury smallJPGFury – Violent anger. A wild and dangerous force. Webster’s definition is pretty much smack on when it comes to my latest PRIMAL novel. Sex trafficking is something that makes me very, very angry. The fact that piece of sh$t, scumbag, dickwads are trafficking women and children for pleasure is, quiet frankly, fucked up!

So what happens when team PRIMAL turns their attention to a gang of traffickers abducting women and selling them to sickos? Violent anger by a wild and dangerous force! Bishop and the team go on a door kicking, body stacking safari that leads them half way round the world. But this war on dickwad traffickers isn’t all beer and skittles. They soon face off against their most sinister opponent ever – a clandestine Yakuza clan.

Right now PRIMAL might be a fictional but sex trafficking isn’t. Every day thousands of women and children are forced into a life of misery by men who deserve to have their manhood hacked off with a blunt knife. However there are people and organizations out there trying to make a real difference. They might not have kinetic options but they do make an impact and they do need your help. Check out these links for the opportunity to give them some much needed support. International Justice Mission, Stop the Traffik, Not for Sale and the Polaris Project.

This is the first PRIMAL book that I have released with my new publisher – Thomas & Mercer. I gotta say Alan Turkus and his team have been an absolute pleasure to work with. They’ve been responsive to all of my outlandish demands and I hope this is the first of a long line of PRIMAL adventures. You can order PRIMAL Fury hardcopies, audiobooks and eBooks on Amazon.

Back to working on the next PRIMAL adventure – PRIMAL Reckoning.

JS

 

Aug 022013
 

PRIMAZONSo it’s finally happened. I’ve sold my soul to the devil and signed PRIMAL up to a publishing house. I might add that the publishing house is Amazon Publishing and not some antiquated team of literatertards who don’t get what I write or why.

Why did I do it and what does it mean? Well for starters it means I can now write full time, f@ck yeah! That means more PRIMAL more often. It also means that there will be hard copies and audiobooks available, lots of fans have been asking for both. In the short term it has delayed the release of PRIMAL Fury but in the long term it’s going to be HUGE.

Does this mean that I will compromise when it comes to keeping PRIMAL grittier than one of Chuck Norris’ turds? Hell no! The guys at Amazon Publishing are on team with letting me run things as I always have. What they bring to the party is distribution and the skills to turn out an even better final product. The entire PRIMAL series will be relaunched in December including a new ‘extended’ PRIMAL Origin that includes PRIMAL’s first mission. The relaunch will be closely followed by PRIMAL Fury which will be the first book launched by Amazon Publishing.

Until that time you can still buy all three of the current ‘limited edition’ indie versions here.

I want to finish this entry by passing on my heartfelt thanks to all the PRIMAL fans that have made this ‘huge’ move possible. You took a chance on an unknown author and it’s you guys who have made PRIMAL what it is. I write because you guys read! I also want to thank Amazon for the opportunity to work with a forward thinking and flexible organisation, they truly are the SOF of the publishing world. Lastly I want to thank my agent Scott Miller for hooking it all up, much appreciated bro.

Now I’ve got to get back to mapping out PRIMAL Mirza.

JS

 

 

Mar 152013
 

In Africa there’s a war being waged. It’s not a part of the War on Terror, it’s not even a counter insurgency or police action. Nope, nothing that sexy. It is however a day to day struggle to save something that’s on the cusp of total annihilation. I’m talking about the war to save the last of Africa’s Black Rhinos.

Last year over six hundred of these majestic animals were killed by poachers and their horns sold as ground up powder in Asia. The big question is how do we stop this? How do we protect the rhinos from extinction?

Rhino Wars, a TV documentary on Animal Planet, thinks they have the answer. Insert a team of four veteran SOF operators into Africa, deck them out in multi-cams, gun them up with an arsenal of small arms, give them an armored vehicle and turn them loose on the unsuspecting poachers. Interesting idea, but is it going to work?

Former SOF guys helping protect rhinos is not a new phenomena. Last year I was lucky enough to chat with Damien Mander, a former Aussie SF operator, who’s been working to save the rhinos since 2009. Unlike the guys in Rhino Wars Damien isn’t so much about hunting poachers. He’s training and equipping park rangers, educating locals and spreading awareness. You can check out Damien’s work here. I particularly like the fact he’s looking in to using drones (UAVs) to keep watch over our lumbering friends.

Anyway this Rhino Wars show got me thinking. If I had the finance to wage a war to protect rhinos how would I go about it and what role would SOF play? Here’s what I’d do:

1. Deploy a team of operators experienced in Foreign Internal Defense (FID) to train and equip local park rangers. I’d probably run with South African Recce Commandos for this. Not because they’re any better than US SOF, more that they know the lingo and the terrain.

2. Get the FID team to develop a Human Intelligence (HUMINT) network to gather intel on the poachers. They’d have to cover off on the counter-intelligence piece as some of the poachers would have ties with the rangers.

3. Support the whole operation with logistics and intelligence. I’d like to see some UAVs up top monitoring poacher movements. Civilian technology already exists for the UAVs to download imagery from remote cameras and provide an integrated surveillance network.

4. Target the demand for rhino horn with a PSYOPS campaign. Using a comprehensive online and television media campaign convince Asian men that rhino horn products will make their dicks flaccid and their balls shrink. Maybe pay a platoon of Chinese hackers to spread the word on forums and email.

5. Lobby governments to lift the ban of rhino horn and create a legalized market. Most people don’t know it but rhino horn can be harvested. Legalize it and suddenly farmers have a valuable commodity that they need to protect and manage.

So is Rhino Wars just pseudo-documentary entertainment or do former SOF operators have a role to play in the war to protect rhinos?

JS

Jan 262013
 

For those of you keeping track on Twitter you’ll know I was lucky enough to venture over to Vegas last week to attend SHOT Show. In between titty clubs, time on the range, casinos, nightclubs and driving the porcelain bus I was able to get out and about and find some cool gear amongst the veritable jungle of tactical nylon, AR15s, promo-chicks and free pens. Here’s my take on the coolest swag at SHOT Show 2013.

Saneh's body armor

I’m all about asset protection and if it’s one thing the PRIMAL team definitely needs to protect it’s Saneh’s assets. This female-specific soft armor is available in a range of sizes and part of the proceeds of each sale go to support research into breast cancer, protecting puppies in more ways than one.

SIG Sauer MPX

I saw more AR15 variants than any other weapon at the show.  The fuckers jumped out at me from every direction, by the time I was done I never wanted to see another black gun. But then this little bad boy caught my eye. The Sig Sauer MPX is a new SMG that rocks an AR15 style lower receiver for less training time. Chambered in pretty much anything you want it can even be tooled out with an integrally suppressed barrel…sweet.

MAGPUL Van

Zombies were soooo 2012. All except for this that is. Where I’m from these things are known for shagging and surfing. Trust MAGPUL to throw a mini gun on it and turn an icon of sixties flower power into a death wielding zombie-slaying death bus.

 

Spypoint remote cameras

As far as tech goes I was really impressed by the gadgets at the Spypoint booth. Their latest remote cameras feature full-motion video, audio capture, night capability, and connectivity via wifi and 3G networks. These little bad boys are designed to monitor game trails and the like but imagine what Mitch could do with them; monitor infiltration routes, provide early warning, etc. Rig ’em up to some elec dets and you could lay a sophisticated ambush with just an iPad and a handful of claymores. Boom!

 

OPSCORE Chariot at the Crye Precision Party

Probably the coolest thing at shotshow 2013 was the Crye Precision party. A whole bunch of tactical companies harnessed their chariots up to minibikes and raced around the track whilst a hundred or so lunatics (including myself) threw rotten fruit at them. Now that’s some serious fun. Jack Murphy put up a bit of video footage here.

 

Aug 242012
 

Take that skinny legged douche bag!

I haven’t blogged for a little while because I’ve been working on the new PRIMAL novel, I am calling it 4 until I come up with a cool name. Today I was forced to withdraw from the PRIMAL world of action, tech, fast cars, hot women and gargantuan explosions because of one thing… skinny leg jeans. What the fuck is the go with men’s fashion today? I went to a shop looking for a pair of jeans and the retail assistant asked me if I wanted a skinny leg variant. “Pardon me,” I responded with a puzzled look on my face. “Skinny leg jeans,” she replied giving me a look like I was some sort of window licking fucktard.  “Like these.” The clothing she held up had more hope of gracing the bridge of the Death Star than getting over my thighs. “Ah, no thanks,” I responded politely. I would have preferred to punch myself in the face with a fist full of gravel than wear that heinous item. “Fair enough,” she quipped.

Seriously though, since when was ‘skinny leg jeans’ acceptable attire for a man? When did we stop wearing stock standard jeans and start wearing skinny leg? Have I missed something? Because it seems to me that the generation of young men that are following in our foot steps checked their manhood at the door and signed up to the dress like a chick club? Hell don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for dressing in female attire. Ask any Royal Marine officer, every chance they get a chance they don women’s clothes get drunk and set fire to shit. But there is no room in my day to day attire for skinny leg fucking jeans.

Dudes look like ladies!

Our forefathers would take one look at skinny leg jeans and punch the wearer in the face. “How the hell are you supposed to ride a horse in that getup?” they’d ask as the accosted metrosexual updated his Facebook status with “Oh my god totes just met a cowboy lol” or some such piss. Men’s clothing used to be all about practicality, we wore jeans because they protected our legs from branches and stuff. We wore a suit because it made us look less like a meat head and more like a gentleman. There is no room in this equation for an item of clothing that makes us look like a woman.

What sort of real man could even fit into skinny leg jeans? You seriously need ankles like five year olds wrists. Nope when it comes to men’s fashion, in particular skinny leg jeans, Aerosmith said it best….. dude looks like a lady!

JS

 

Jun 292012
 

Awesome graphics in the Indie game RESET!

I wear the badge of an Indie author with pride, why? Because it shows that despite numerous set backs, disappointments, and rejections I backed myself. But I’m not the only one out there trying to forge their way in a world usually dominated by the big corporates. Plenty of other Indie artists are doing it way tougher than I am. Yeah I put a lot of time into the PRIMAL books but I haven’t had to mortgage a house to buy equipment or pay for other people’s skills. Musicians, game developers and film makers are the real heroes of Indie. They have a vision, a dream, an idea and they put it all on the line to share it with the world. That takes a set of balls that most of the big production firms simply don’t have.

Whilst perusing one of my favourite sites, Gizmag, I stumbled on a clip for some of the work that a small, two man, gaming outfit is doing. I was blown away by the graphics in the ‘RESET‘ trailer and the overall quality of their work. If you get a chance to check it out you will be seriously impressed. With this sort of talent backing their own products we are in for some serious Indie awesomeness in the next few years.

A buddy of mine has recently finished working on his own Indie action film, Contract Killers. Filmed on a shoe string budget in New Zealand, better known for Hobbits, Orcs and the All Blacks, Michael and his team have put together a pretty cool product. Gotta remember that these guys are working with a tiny fraction of Hollywood’s budget so it’s not quite a James Cameron blockbuster. I’m looking forward to working with him in the future to put together another PRIMAL short film. You can check out their work here, and there is the opportunity to help them out with a bit of cash to finish the film.

Indie film - Contract Killers

I think the most important component of the Indie community are the people willing to give Indie artists a chance. Without support and an engaged audience Indie productions are destined to fail. By virtue of the fact that you’re reading this blog I know you’re an Indie supporter. PRIMAL’s all about the little man and that’s what being Indie is all about, the little man standing up from the crowd and chasing a dream. 

This may well be my first profanity free post….. that can’t last.

JS

 

Jun 202012
 

For those not in the know the SOF community calls the recovery of personnel from hostile territory Special Recovery Operations or SRO. SRO jobs are usually conducted by a nation’s most highly trained personnel. Why? Because they involve a lot of complex parts: long range comms, isolated recon teams, sophisticated intel gathering, high-end aviation assets and highly trained door kickers. Millions of dollars of assets and the nation’s finest are all focused on this one type of very ‘special’ operation.

One of the hostages recovered by UK and US SOF.

One of the hostages recovered by UK and US SOF.

The recent recovery in Afghanistan of a bunch of UK NGO workers by UK  and US SOF has got me thinking. Do stupid fuckers really deserve to be rescued? I mean, dumb arses that venture -with no security- into areas that allow them to be captured by bad guys. The prime candidates are usually journos but NGO’s and battlefield tourists are also serial offenders. Yeah I get executing a SRO for a downed pilot, or even a kidnapped government worker, but what about the people who really don’t need to be in harms way? Are the lives of SOF operators worth risking just to keep one more self-righteous idiot in the gene pool? I know what Charles Darwin would say…

Toy figurines that are probably not suitable for conducting 'actual' SRO.

Operators will follow orders, they’ll put their lives on the line time and time again without question. They’ll argue that everyone needs to be rescued, that the kidnappers need to be found, fixed and finished. It’s a moral dilemma; put soldiers in harms way to recover some self-absorbed dick head gallivanting around in a high risk area or let him have his head hacked off on the internet. The default response is usually to bring it back to the bad guys, bang in, shoot the fuckers in the face and send a message to all potential hostage takers – you will be slotted if you try this shit! But we also need to think about the risk associated with sending men deep into hostile territory to pull someone out who’s own stupidity resulted in their capture.

Maybe it's better to let special kids hang out together?

Hopefully a few journos, NGOs and the like read this little diatribe and pause in thought. You may think you’re a bit of a hero for chasing the story or visiting the war zone but also spare a thought for the families of the men sent in to recover the retards. Don’t take risks that might end up claiming the lives of our nation’s finest.

Jack