The Europe of Power Vacuum has changed considerably. So has the war. The Triarii’s operational constraints have changed with the situation, and Matt and his Grex Luporum team have to adjust and reset to many of the tactics and techniques they had to use Stateside, before the war kicked off in earnest. There’s a lot more gray man stuff in Power Vacuum, so I’m happy to bring a guest post from Steve Tarani about how INFOSEC and physicality are a part of truly going gray. In today’s world of open-source accessible information, perception is reality. People look at your physical and digital footprint and may think ‘Hey what’s this person all about.’ Whether you are aware of it or not, how you are perceived by potential predators, opportunists, co-workers, family members, passers-by, social media monitors and others, is what contributes to their subjective evaluation. Badass or Buffoon? Steve Tarani Ranging from the bumper stickers on your pickup truck to what you post throughout all your social media platforms, all kinds of data are readily accessible to the entire planet rendering them plainly observable. To the outside observer, these all paint a picture of who and what you’re all about. You can be
It is that time again. Brannigan’s Blackhearts is back with Enemy of My Enemy, so that means a guns post. And since this one goes down in Azerbaijan, there’s a lot of Eastern Bloc weapons. (Also, because of the difficulty in finding good, royalty-free images of some of these guns, I’ll be embedding videos about them for the most part.) Shamil Mashadov and his Aswad al Islam brethren are armed with AK-203s in the beginning. The 200 series AKs are improvements on the 100 series, the 203 being specifically chambered in 7.62x39mm, and currently entering service with the Indian Army. Apparently, the Russian Army decided to forego the 200 series in favor of the AK-12 and AK-15, which are somewhat more expensive. They’re also carrying RPG-26s to use on the guard towers around their target. Specialist Owens is manning an M240B in one of those guard towers. Once the Blackhearts get on the ground, the weapons the Spetsnaz loan them–at least to begin with–are bog-standard AK-103s. The Spetsnaz don’t use them, but since the Blackhearts are–as always–supposed to be deniable, they get the 103s. Like the improved 203 that the Chechens use, the 103 is chambered in 7.62×39. This is a longer video, For the
I do a lot of research for my writing, particularly the military thriller writing. Unlike some authors, who take long vacations as “research” (I can’t afford to, and so much of the on-the-ground stuff is extrapolated from Google Earth.), most of my research is directed toward history, current events, and warfare. I’ve got an ever-increasing military professional reading library, from which the following words of wisdom come: “It is often said that guerrilla warfare is primitive. This generalization is dangerously misleading and true only in the technological sense. If one considers the picture as a whole, a paradox is immediately apparent, and the primitive form is understood to be in fact more sophisticated than nuclear war or atomic war or war as it was waged by conventional armies, navies, and air forces. Guerrilla war is not dependent for success on the efficient operation of complex mechanical devices, highly organized logistical systems, or the accuracy of electronic computers. It can be conducted in any terrain, in any climate, in any weather; in swamps, in mountains, in farmed fields. Its basic element is man, and man is more complex than any of his machines. He is endowed with intelligence, emotions, and will.
Eighteen years. Eighteen years, and no closer to the end. Some have tried to find the end. Negotiations with the Taliban have been going on for a long time. But it takes two sides to make peace. It only takes one to make war. And the jihad isn’t over. If you pay attention, it won’t ever be over. Dates matter. Dates have significance. We in the West like to forget our history, justifying it with platitudes about “moving on” or “getting over the past.” No one else does, except for Communists like Mao Zedong or Pol Pot, who will slaughter millions to try to wipe out the past and make themselves the sole arbiters of reality. September 11 had significance before 2001. It’s why the enemy chose it. It had been a date of Islamic defeat for a long, long time. The Great Siege of Malta ended on September 11, 1565. The Ottomans were driven away from Malta, defeated. The Battle of Vienna began on September 11, 1683, and ended the next day with the charge of the Winged Hussars on September 12, ending the high tide of Ottoman conquest. We don’t want to think about it. It’s become something
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place: and in the sky The larks still bravely singing fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead: Short days ago, We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved: and now we lie In Flanders fields! Take up our quarrel with the foe To you, from failing hands, we throw The torch: be yours to hold it high If ye break faith with us who die, We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium by Lt. Col. John McCrae The ghosts come back a little, today. I realized while at the local Memorial Day ceremony just how long the list has gotten. Men I knew well, men I only knew in passing before they were gone. Men who died in combat. Men who died in training. Men who took their own lives. Not a lot to say about it, today. Fair winds and following seas. We have the watch.
I’ve had to do some research into possible near-future weapons systems for a couple of series, now. If you’ve read The Colonel Has A Plan, you might have noticed that the Marines under Colonel John Brannigan are using M27s and LSAT machineguns instead of the current M4s and M249s or M240s. Similarly, the Marines at Camp David in Lex Talionis are armed with M27s. Now, arming Marines with M27s is an easy choice, since the Marine Corps recently announced a wider deployment of the glorified HK 416s, but it touches on a common theme when writing near-future military fiction. Including new weapons and gear that isn’t necessarily in common use yet helps to establish your setting.
“Timeliness” is a temptation that I think most military/spy fiction writers have to deal with. “Ripped from the headlines!” and “Prophetic!” are compliments that reviewers have used for works in the genre going back to Tom Clancy, at least. Those same phrases have been applied to some of my own work, and I’ll admit that it can be somewhat affirming (though often in a grim sort of way) to see events move in a generally similar direction to that predicted in one of your novels. It shows you that you read the situation fairly accurately.
No, this isn’t about InRangeTV opening an account on PornHub. (Yes, apparently that’s a thing. No, I haven’t gone looking for it, nor will I.) This is about the facet of much Action Adventure writing known colloquially as “Gun Porn,” wherein the author includes (and often lovingly describes) various cool and interesting firearms in the story. This isn’t particularly new; a lot of Louis L’Amour westerns describe interesting (and sometimes obscure) weapons that aren’t commonly found in the run-of-the-mill western (particularly on screen). But as with any element of storytelling, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
Mercenaries haven’t really been a staple of mainstream thrillers since the ’80s. Tom Clancy introduced Jack Ryan, an analyst, as the hero of his techno-thrillers, and it seemed to set the tone for much of the genre to come. Harold Coyle’s heroes were mostly tankers. Dale Brown’s were bomber pilots. As the GWOT got started, even the more shadowy operatives, like Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp and Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan were still directly operating within the government apparatus, if so black that they “didn’t exist.” So, why did I go with mercenaries for the Praetorian series, Kill Yuan, and the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series? Well, I think that has several answers.
I cannot let 9/11 go by unremarked. It is the single event that defined my adult life. While I knew no one who died that day, much of my life after was dedicated to the pursuit of those 19 hijackers’ fellow fanatics, and I have buried friends in the course of that war. It is a war that began long before any of us were born, and will likely continue. It is unpopular to say that there is a war between Islam and the West. Islam, truly devoted Islam, has been at war with all and sundry for 1300 years. Are many Muslims not at war? Of course. Far more Muslims have died to crush ISIS than Americans. But the historical record remains. Even when we are at peace, sooner or later, that peace will end. The hijackers did not choose September the 11th at random. It was not a date that simply came up in the course of planning and logistics. Like all fanatics, they sought to make a deeper statement in their act of mass murder. September 11 was the day before the anniversary of the Battle of Vienna. In 1683, the Ottoman Empire, then the Muslim Caliphate