Ranching Standoff

We at the Jolly Landsknecht have been following the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR) occupation with a great deal of interest.  This blog is not going to punch the tar baby of the nobility of the cause or the legality of the occupation but rather look at one facet of the incident in a critical light.


Occupying facilities, government or private, is deep rooted in American history.  In the 1700s we were given the Boston Tea Party where members of the Sons of Liberty occupied the tea ships Eleanor, Beaver and Dartmouth and subsequently destroyed their contents.  In the early 20th century the American labor movement conducted “sit-ins” to protect what they perceived as unfair labor practices.  The Civil Rights era was partially defined by lunch counter sit-ins and the famous Rosa Parks protest.

The Vietnam War and its opposition generated many incidents of civil disobedience often involving the occupation of federal facilities.  On December 4, 1967, 500 protesters showed up at the San Francisco’s Federal Building where 88 draft cards were burned.


In 1971 a group of Native Americans occupied Alcatraz Island for 19 months.  They were protesting the US government’s seizure and refusal to return native lands under the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.


Historically speaking, the occupation of the MNWR is nothing new.  Why is it that some acts of civil disobedience are looked upon favorably and others in a negative light.  Two words:

Perception Management

One of the basic tenants of 4th generation warfare (4GW) is to control and craft the narrative.

One source states that 4GW combatants must employ “highly sophisticated psychological warfare, especially through media manipulation and lawfare.

The US military calls this process Information Operations (IO) which “are described as the integrated employment of electronic warfare (EW), computer network operations (CNO), psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), and operations security (OPSEC), in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.”

The past and present MNWR occupiers did/do not appear to have a basic understanding of either IO or have a cohesive and comprehensive plan of action.  Two of the most glaring and actionable ones were OPSEC and PSYOP (Public Affairs / Strategic Communications).


It does not appear that they looked at how their communications could be compromised which is basic Communications Security (COMSEC).  OPSEC came into play when photographs and access by nonaffiliated journalists allowed images that show the operational frequencies on their HTs.  This is covered in this excellent piece from RadioMaster Reports.


They did not control the movement of journalists in their AO.  There is some speculation that a popular internet journalist and his unfiltered live feeds were where the information that gave the meat to the federal arrest warrants originated.

Their personal movements were not random and were broadcasted and predictable.  The “OP” in OPSEC stands for OPERATIONS!  A basic OPSEC plan should be created for each action or operation.

Control the information coming in and for God’s sake, control the information going out!


During the Vietnam War there was the hearts and minds program that hoped to cast US and allied forces in the light as the protectors and helpers of South Vietnam.  I saw this same strategy used during my time in Afghanistan.

No insurgency or occupation will succeed without the will of the population.

The MNWR occupiers and their supporters were reported to have harassed the local population in the area of Burns, OR.  The Federal IO folks seized this chink and used it to craft the narrative that the occupiers wire usurpers in the community and harbored intents that were harmful to the community.

There is no one, clear, stable and articulate voice for the occupation.  In short no Public Information Officer (PIO) was appointed to control the public image of the occupation.

milita media

For example, videos and still photographs of the occupiers WITH OUT weapons and military garb would portray to the public the much better image of oppressed ranchers and citizens seeking redress through peaceful means.  Knuckle heads full of bombast like this guy do not help support that message.


Actively seek support of the public through social media.  Have the PIO establish an OFFICIAL face book account and use the power of the internet to further the narrative and to cast the occupiers as victims.  Have reoccurring press conferences and portray every government action as an assault on freedom and an attack on PEACEFUL and UNARMED protesters.


Benchmark successful movements like Black Lives Matters, Occupy Wall Street and the 99%.  Don’t get hung up on their message but copy their Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures.

no shoot

Craft the narrative, control the information, mold the truth and build the support!  All of which were lacking at the occupation of the MNWR.

As it has been said, “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.” ~ Mao Zedong