Recognizing Friends

Please Don’t Do This

As the situation here continues to deteriorate, one important thing to consider is how you will recognize members of your group or family during a chaotic event. It’s important in the initial chaos, but later, in a full collapse of society, it will become vital.

For example, imagine that you are on post at your community observation post. You know you have a patrol out there, but you also know that there are potential hostiles in the area. You’ve been on post for hours and through the spotting scope, you see four people moving slowly and carefully towards your perimeter. They’re wearing Multi-Cam uniforms, just like everyone in your group. Sadly, so is everyone else these days, including the bad guys.

You try to go by equipment, and through the scope you see everyone has either an AR or AK platform, and everyone is using a Baofeng radio…. again, just like everyone else still alive at this point. You try to see faces or hair color, but everyone is wearing a hat and either a face mask or camo paint, as they should be. Do you raise the alarm, or do you call out to them, giving away your position? How do you decide at a distance?

In the Ultimate Tactical Handbook, David warns about being surrounded by enemies:

All day long they surround me like a flood;
    they have completely engulfed me.

Psalm 88:17

Available here…

This problem isn’t new. In the Middle Ages, each “order” of knights adopted a crest, just like the Jerusalem Cross above that I use as a logo. On a side note, the Knight Orders were really nothing more than Private Military Contractors. Each force would carry their flag, and everyone wore a garment with the large crest on it or on their shield, so that they fought the right people in the heat of battle.

Prior to that, Viking bands did the same thing, painting their shields with different patterns to identify which boat crew they were with.

Easy to ID the Enemy

In the 1600s-late 1800s, armies in the field wore brightly colored jackets for much the same reason. “Shoot the guys in the red coats, but don’t shoot the guys in the blue coats”. A common method of defection in those days was to turn your coat inside out, displaying the white lining and thus no allegiance. It’s what gave rise to the term “turncoat”.

Modern military forces spend a lot of training time learning how to identify hostile camouflage patterns and vehicles to be able to ID the opposition at range. It’s also the reason the US Marine Corps wears a distinct pattern from any other US Force, easy recognition. As I watched videos of captured US military vehicles and uniforms flow out of Afghanistan and into Iran, I began to worry about this topic.

You need spotting scopes. Plural:

How can we, as people interested mostly in just defending our homes or safe havens from attack, quickly and confidently identify our own people, especially when under pressure and possibly even in the heat of combat? It certainly should not be like those geniuses in the opening photo, with the fluorescent green tape. That defeats the entire purpose of camouflage uniforms.

This first step, obviously, is uniforms. The problem is that the vast majority of people watch a few YouTube videos and settle on Multi-Cam, because all the ultra-tacti-cool guys on YouTube and Twitter wear it. If you haven’t considered it from an effectiveness standpoint, it may actually make matters worse. For the record, I consider myself an ultra-tacti-cool guy and I don’t own a single set of Mutli-Cam. I do own a couple sets of British MTP (multi-terrain pattern), which vary slightly from the Multi-Cam everyone else is wearing and is more effective.

See the Difference?

Your entire group should standardize uniform patterns, whichever you choose. Brent0331 on YouTube has a great series of videos on the camouflage effectiveness of various patterns. The ultimate is for your group to decide on a few patterns and establish a “uniform of the day” for security. One day you could wear MTP, and the next British DPM. Weather could render your choice of camouflage ineffective, BTW.

I discuss selecting camo in here:

Once you’ve decided on a common uniform, you need to establish one more method for long range identification. A lot of groups talk about passwords and running passwords, but I’m talking about long range and silent. If I don’t recognize someone, I’m not going to expose my position by challenging them for a password.

That method is by some type of patch. Have your group all buy the same 4-5 Velcro patches, each completely different. With these, you can establish a “patch of the day” long range recognition flash that is a bit more subdued than bright green tape. Don’t buy brightly colored ones, but ones in greens, browns, and blacks (subdued).

The exact same combination of unique camo pattern and patch of the day would be virtually impossible for someone to stumble onto by accident and would be a very secure way to identify friendlies from a distance. These are supplements to passwords and radio authentication, not replacements. You could be fairly certain that someone is a friendly before initiating communications with this method.

In a larger context, several separate groups in your same area could all have one of the same patches for joint operations.

A caution though, about selecting your patches and uniforms. While we are training for WROL operations, we cannot completely disregard law, especially in the current gray-zone conflict phase. Check your local laws FIRST.

Here in Michigan, Attorney General Nessel has vowed to charge any militia group with a felony for wearing “any part of a US Army or US Naval uniform” under an old and never-used law. Patches that identify specific US Military Units or say “US Army/US Navy” should be avoided. Check for these laws in your area.

As a side note, in a classic case of “Do as I say, not as I do”, I will INDEED wear the US Marine Corps “Eagle, Globe, & Anchor” that I earned, as it does NOT just identify the US Marines, but a brotherhood of people who were tested in the same Crucible and she can try and do whatever she wants.

I hope this article helps in making some decisions for your group, family, or tribe. Make them and put them in place NOW, so that you aren’t scrambling when the balloon goes up.

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Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

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