Militia Training: Operation WitWeb
Copyright © 1995 Constitution Society. Permission is granted
to copy with attribution for noncommercial purposes.
Preparing for last war
Most of the kinds of tactical training that militia units across the country
have been doing have been focused on the tactical situations found in
conventional or counterinsurgency warfare. And most of the alert systems that
have been set up depend on telephone communications. While such exercises have
some merit, they neglect the kinds of scenarios that we are more likely to face.
This document describes in a general way a different kind of exercise designed
to prepare militiamen for more likely scenarios, emphasizing reconnaissance,
intelligence, and insurgency methods.
We call this kind of exercise WitWeb because it sets up a webwork
of witnesses. Think of ourselves as a spider, spinning of web to catch some
flies. In this case, the flies are corrupt or abusive officials or other
criminals. Our objective is to gather and distribute evidence, protect
witnesses, investigators, and other innocent persons, and bring the perpetrators
Elements of Operation WitWeb
(1) The operation should take place over a definite period of time, such as
from Friday to Sunday evening.
(2) Participants would operate singly or in teams of not more than three
(3) Each participant would initially receive an assignment to go to a
specified location at a specified time.
(4) At each location he would either perform some action and go to another
location, pick up further instructions from a dead drop, or rendezvous with
another participant, exchange recognition signs, and exchange items or further
(5) Each participant would hit multiple locations during the course of the
exercise, and would log the travel times, distances, and any other pertinent
information about each leg of the journey.
(6) At the end, each participant would report to a task leader, who would
receive his report and any items he was to deliver.
(6) One of the activities would be to reconnoiter a target site, find an
observation point from which it could be surreptitiously observed, if any, and
if found, describe the observation point to another participant, who would
attempt to observe from that site for some period of time, while a third
participant would observe his observation to determine how well he was
concealing his observation.
(7) Another activity would be to videotape a target, with the date/time
record feature on, then rapidly exchange the good tape for a blank and hand off
the good tape to one or more couriers who would escape the scene rapidly and in
different directions, deliver the tape to a location where it would be
duplicated, then execute a simulated delivery of the duplicates to key persons,
to hiding sites, or to media contacts.
(8) Among the observation targets would be the homes of activists, the homes
of straight government agents who might be the targets of actions intended to
discredit the militia, mobilization points of enemy forces, or other locations
at which some event of interest seems likely to occur.
(9) Each participant would have a way to alert the others in the event of
trouble at a site requiring either convergence or dispersal, indicating whether
convergence should be equipped to observe or to take protective actions.
(10) One activity would be to simply spread an alert message to all the
militiamen in the area as rapidly as possible without using electronic media.
The methods could include voice relay, coded written messages, or hand or light
(11) Another activity would be to code and/or decode messages as rapidly as
possible, using both technical implements, such as computers, and non-
technical, such as one-time written keys.
(12) The exercise might be supplemented by recruiting persons who regularly
live and work in the target areas to be alert and prepared to observe,
preferably with video cameras, in which case they would be provided with a way
to alert the militia to come pick up the video tape as soon as possible after it
was taken, and provide a blank tape as a replacement.
(13) The list of observation targets would be continually revised and
expanded, and observations made on a random basis, so that no one, not even most
of the militiamen, could be sure when any given observation might be made, but
also so that no one could be sure that any given target would not be observed
during any given period of time.
(14) Video cameras would be supplemented with still cameras using
high-resolution film, to get detail that video can't.
(15) Observers would make lists of relevant things in the area, such as
vehicles and their license plates, so that statistics could be compiled and
parties of interest identified. Of particular interest would be unassigned
(16) One activity would be to collect trash from important sites for
(17) One type of target would be storage sites and vehicles transporting
illegal drugs or other dangerous contraband, with special emphasis on
identifying official involvement, so that when reported to authorities the
militia would not be reporting it to the same authorities involved in making the
(18) One type of activity might be the actual interception of drug
shipments, combined with the destruction of most of the drugs so that they could
not be diverted by officials back onto the street, but leaving enough for use as
evidence in court.
(19) Another type of activity might be the observation, in relays, of the
movement of election ballots, from initial production to final counting, to
identify election fraud. This might involve the use of hidden cameras, including
the transmission of video to a receiver who could preserve the evidence in case
the on-site observer got caught with the camera.
(20) Lacking more dramatic targets, participants might practice observing
lesser instances of malfeasance, such as noncompliance with legal or contractual
standards for construction, environmental protection, medical procedures, or
other activities which are liable to occur in the absence of witnesses.
Working with other resources
These exercises are likely to turn into serious operations involving real
corruption and abuse. Therefore, it is important to line up other resources that
may be important:
(1) Straight law enforcement agents. But contact should probably be with
individuals rather than with departments, which may contain dirty agents.
(2) Straight reporters. Again, contact should be with individuals who have
proven their willingness to take personal risks to expose the truth.
(3) Straight elected officials. In most cases, the official himself may be
too busy, but one should be in contact with a key staff person.
(4) Media messaging systems. One should prepare in advance to disseminate
important information to the media generally, especially key persons with talk
radio and TV stations, newspapers, and mudraking magazines. This should include
a computer set up to email or fax to multiple targets. Messages should always be
directed to specific individuals, with a backup if the first one is out.
Things to keep in mind
(1) Participants in this exercise should remain as inconspicuous as
(2) Participants should remain mobile so that they do not themselves become
easy targets for attack or apprehension.
(3) There should be preparations for any participant who learns "too
much" to go underground while preserving the evidence, with everything
needed, such as money, ID, a cellular phone or ham radio, a vehicle with plates
not linked to him, or disguises, to remain underground for an extended period of
time, while preserving the ability to maintain necessary contact.
For more information contact:
6900 San Pedro #147-230, San Antonio, TX 78216, 214/641-7107V,