Tradecraft 101: Introduction


Welcome to the Black Arts

This series of articles will introduce you to the black arts of Tradecraft taught to our nation’s clandestine operatives by the top spymasters at Langley. It is a primer of sorts; an introduction into the world of espionage. These articles are designed to familiarize you with essential skills necessary to survive in an increasingly hostile world. Whether you are a member of a highly classified Special Operation Group like Jake Noble engaged in dangerous top secret missions to ensure the safety of the free world, or just a working-class-stiff watching the world go to hell in a hand basket, you can benefit from the lessons learned in clandestine warfare.


Unless you have been living under a rock, you are already aware of the growing violence around the globe. With the rise of technology the world is shrinking. The threat of radical Islam, terrorism and civil unrest is no longer a news headline about far flung countries in war torn regions of the world. It is on your door step. The threat of sudden violence is a growing reality for those of us living in first world countries. Gone are the days of Mayberry and Andy Griffith where our biggest worry was our 401k.

Surprised Deputy

            Now we have to be concerned about random acts of violence committed by devotees to a religion that Barack Obama keeps assuring us is a religion of peace. Adherents to the religion of peace rang in the new year with mass gang rapes in Cologne, Germany recently.

If the threat of Islam were not enough, we also have to be worried about growing inflation leading to economic collapse and the fact that our nation’s power grid is utterly vulnerable to cyber attack which would result in a country wide blackout. Worse than Islamic fascism, random shootings and an unstable economy is, perhaps, the looming threat of a United States Government that is moving ever closer to tyranny and oppression. With each passing day we see a little more of our freedom stripped away in the name of security.

So what’s a law abiding citizen to do?

Your safety and the safety of your family rests squarely on your shoulders. As the old saying goes, “When seconds count, the cops are minutes away”. If you are a man, you should have the ability to protect the ones you love. Period. Traditionally the societal duty of guardian has fallen to the male. A real man knows how to avoid danger, keep his family safe and can put up a fight when his back is against the wall. If you are a woman, you are inevitably going to find yourself in situations where you cannot rely on anyone else for your protection. And let’s face it ladies, do you really want to be in the position of having to rely on someone else for your safety?

A few tips and tricks from the spy world will help you stay safe. The first skill you need to acquaint yourself with is Situational Awareness or Constant Vigilance.

Situational Awareness is knowing what’s going on in your environment at all times. The first step in Situational Awareness is staying in a relaxed state of alertness at all times. Jeff Cooper wrote an excellent book on self-defense that explains the different states of readiness, but the simple version is; assume that any situation has the potential for a violence. Whether you are going to the mail box, the office or a trendy nightclub, the potential for sudden violence exists.

Most people spend their lives in what Cooper calls condition white. They are blissfully unaware that anything bad could happen. After all, they live an ordinary life in a safe town. Bad things happen to ‘other’ people. This is called the normalcy bias. People have a tendency to think that because something has never happened in the past, it never will happen. Or to put it another way, what has always been will always be. Imagine the surprise these people will suffer if the power grid ever fails. That mindset is a recipe for disaster.

A person in a relaxed state of readiness, aware of their surroundings and scanning for threats, realizes that even while enjoying an overpriced latte in a corner café with their sweetheart, there is still the chance for a mass shooting. To this end, the person in a state of relaxed ready is aware of the other patrons, the emergency exits and is in a position to observe (with your back to a wall if at all possible depending on your location) the environment.

It is helpful to adopt the mindset of a spy when you are out and about. Pretend you are trying to gather as much intel as possible on the people around you. What are they wearing? What are they doing? Who are they with? Use small clues to help you determine facts about people that would otherwise go unnoticed. Is there a guy at the counter wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt? It’s a good bet he owns the pickup truck with the American flag decal in the back window. He is also likely to own a firearm and have a concealed carry permit. I like this guy already. See the white girl wearing a Bernie Sanders T-shirt? Wanna bet she drives the Volvo with the Coexists bumper sticker? Yeah, she’s a useful idiot and will be absolutely no help if the proverbial excrement hits the oscillating device.

Gathering as much information as possible about the people around you and your environment will help you stay alert for potential dangers. If you are old enough you may remember the G.I. Joe cartoons of the 80’s. At the end they always had a public service announcement. They warned kids not to fly kites near power wires to avoid electrocution and they ended with “Knowing is half the battle!” Truer words were never spoken. Knowing really is half the battle. You can’t respond to a threat if you never see it coming and you won’t see it coming if you aren’t looking for it. So practice the art of Situational Awareness.

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