Tradecraft in Uncertain Times

Times are scary right now. People on both sides of the political spectrum (yes, both sides) are leveling threats at each other and people are seeking to “cancel” each other, which is a white-washed way of saying ruin each other’s lives and ability to make a living. Add to this the ever-present threat of an increasingly out-of-control federal law enforcement machine bent on labeling as many as possible as domestic extremists, and you have a very uncertain future. This labeling allows them to justify even more draconian intrusions and restrictions on rights.

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues
    keep themselves from calamity.

Proverbs 21:23

There are some very specific steps you can take to mitigate the risk and lower the threshold of the information that you are emitting. In other words, there are steps you can take to develop “tradecraft” skills.

Tradecraft is those skills that intelligence services and their informants use to hide, reduce their signature, and be less of target, all while still accomplishing their mission. The easiest way to stay off the radar is to do nothing at all, but that doesn’t help your preparedness stance.

As a person just into preparedness and not into politics, you might be thinking, “I don’t need to worry about this”, but you would be wrong. In their attempts to paint anyone who is not a government asset as an extremist, the DHS published a guide which listed “anyone interested in preparedness or being overly prepared” as a potential domestic violent extremist. Some of the things they want others to report: People with large stores of food, anyone concerned about disaster preparedness, those worried about a grid collapse, people into canning (yes, really), and anyone who was “overly concerned” about Constitutional rights and government overreach.

They also mentioned anyone “distrustful of the federal government”. You know who was distrustful of the US federal government? The very men who established this Nation. I’d be glad to be counted among them.

In this article, we’ll discuss a few basic tradecraft ideas. Understand going into it that this is a VERY basic primer and please don’t rush to the comment section to list everything you saw on the “Gray Man” video you saw on YouTube by Ultra-Super Prepper-Spy 2000. We are only going to scratch the surface here; there is much more to learn.

First, understand that “gray man” is a false sense of security. It only ensures that you won’t be remembered. Most guys who think they are practicing solid personal security by being the gray man defeat the purpose by taking their tracking device, or cell phone, everywhere they go. Literally. Like, the bathroom is the number one place to find everyone with a phone in their hand, and it’s also the place they’re most worried about being monitored in. It’s bizarre.

That’s topic one – Put the phone down. I know, everyone tells you to, and everyone knows this, but they flat out refuse to do it. I was alive before handheld cell phones were a thing. Trust me, you are perfectly capable of surviving without being connected to the prison, I mean phone system.

A Faraday bag is a great investment and lots of sites talk about them, but let’s talk about the practical use of it in the field. Most people buy one, and then decide to use it when meeting with like-minded people. They drive to the restaurant, then put the phone in the bag. Afterwards, they immediately take the phone out and check to see what they’ve missed. If all 6 people at the meeting did this, any government agent looking at these records wouldn’t know what you discussed, that’s for sure, but they would definitely notice that 6 people of interest all went to the same location and turned off their phones at the same time, for the same length of time.

A far better use of the Faraday bag is to drive to a commercial location that people spend a lot of time at like a shopping mall or a gym, place the phone in the bag there, and then drive on to your destination. After the meeting, drive back to the same location, and then take the phone out. Then it looks like you were there the whole time.

I know someone is going to drop in the comments and say, “Just leave the phone at home”. That might seem like wisdom, except your neighbors saw you leave. Also, an opposition agent (whomsoever that opposition might be) may have driven past your house and noticed that you were gone. This is how the Ingham County Sheriff knew that Eugene Yu was up to no good the night he tried to flee the US and head to China. They watched him leave the house and noticed that his cell phone was still pinging inside the house. Take the phone; use the Faraday bag.

The next tip involves being careful of who you tell things to. All of us in preparedness keep telling you that you need a tribe, but we also warn of federal or other infiltration. This is a big risk, and there are a few steps you can take to prevent it. As far back as Naboth and Jezebel, Feds have been infiltrating groups and entrapping them. Here is Jezebel’s plan to entrap Naboth:

In those letters she wrote:

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

1 Kings 21:9-10

The best way to avoid this is to only allow into your group people you already know and have had a relationship with for at least a few years. Anyone that a member of your group wants to add should also meet those criteria with their sponsor. In other words, if John wants us to add his friend Mike, John has to prove that he’s known Mike for several years. While this won’t eliminate the risk, it will indeed reduce it.

The best way, however, is to never engage in sketchy conversations, especially with people you don’t know or barely know. When someone starts suggesting building bombs, modifying weapons, or kidnapping Governors, tell them point blank NO (that’s important – don’t leave it unanswered) and cut off all contact with them. The failure to say NO is what got the Michigan Morons convicted. They never said YES, but they also never said NO.

Another good piece of tradecraft to develop is the Surveillance Detection Route. Have places where you can drive that seem natural but would expose surveillance. If I pull into a strip mall, drive around the rear, and then pull out onto a different street, anyone else who does the same thing to follow me would stand out. If I did that TWICE, it would confirm surveillance. Dear Feds: You aren’t the only people doing surveillance. Reporters and opposition groups on both sides do it.

A lot of people in our circles like to communicate by radio and the same people who tell you all about being a gray man (while carrying their phones) will tell you that you need encrypted radios. You don’t. Using encrypted radios lets anyone listening know that you are doing interesting things. Instead, I can hide my traffic by sounding like everyone else. While GMRS requires a license, tens of thousands of retail stores and businesses are using them daily without a license. If your surveillance radio traffic sounds like business traffic (“I’m in Aisle 5, can you see what the customer entering Aisle 9 needs?”), you are more secure than someone hearing the data bursts of encrypted traffic. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but you can either be secure or be lazy. Pick one.

I highly recommend taking a course like NC Scout’s RTO/Advanced RTO/SIGINT courses to learn a lot more about how to secure your communications and execute tradecraft while communicating.

Tradecraft also involves making sure your meetings are secure. I’ve set up meetings with new people and with less than 10 minutes notice, I’ve changed the location to somewhere completely different, but still in a reasonable radius. Anyone who flat out refuses to change your meeting location on short notice to a short distance away (like a few blocks), doesn’t want to move because of all the recording devices and surviellance set up on the original location. Cut them off. As a side note, I never change the location until I’m already set up watching the new one. If, after I tell them the new location, a bunch of vehicles pour into the new lot, but no one gets out of their cars, LEAVE.

Some readers might think this is all paranoia. I challenge you to read some of the J6 indictments or the Michigan case documents. Lots of people who were doing perfectly legal things have been turned into criminals because an informant opened up or steered a conversation and the other person wasn’t careful. It’s far better to be aware and take active steps to deny anyone a chance to put you in that position in the first place.

For the record, multinational businesses give this same advice to their executives and staff when traveling in areas where competitors might try and gain confidential information. It’s just sound personal security strategy.

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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.

15 thoughts on “Tradecraft in Uncertain Times

  1. A great intro to INFOSEC/OPSEC and practicable, usable information immediately. Methinks Mr Dolio might need to do a collab and start writing TW-06: Evading Surveillance in Urban/Suburban Environments, A Primer on OPSEC and Its Importance.

    I’m not married to the name, I’m sure there’s better way to phrase that, but it can delve deep into all the ways and means to blend into background both physically, and electronically, avoiding drawing undue attention to yourself, and possibly your tribe. Think it really fits into the series’ theme in line with the ramp up in skills so far.

    The snippets here are great, but you and I both know there’s slight nuance unsaid to the ones you gave away for free, and I believe, in current time, that it may be important for folks to survive and more importantly combined with other books in the series, maneuver in a WROL situation.

    As always great piece, always a thrill to read each time a new one posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent info. Thanks !!

    Question: In setting the meeting and changing the location ten min before, how do you communicate to the other (and possibly suspect informant) without using your cell ? Once you pull your cell out of the Faraday bag to make the call, the feds know where you are.

    Yes, you could have the meet site changed by using a pay phone or could ask bar to let you use their phone to call for a ride… but there are very few pay phones still working and the bar may not let you use their phone.

    Wouldn’t it be better to tell the “subject” that you will meet him at one of the ten following locations but will tell him beforehand which one. Then ten min before contact him.

    I dunno. Seems like the pinging if cell phone would make you a target.

    Use of burner phones is expensive for only a few uses……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here’s the thing, this is for a first meeting with someone, I’m not that worried about cell pinging. If I don’t know you at all, we aren’t meeting for that kind of conversation. I’ll send the message from across the street, bag the phone, then roll in.

      Also, there are ways to message without a cellphone. Wire is one. All I need is wifi


  3. Thoughts on social media? Should we still be fighting the good fight or is it time to go dark? It feels like there is still benefit to being engaged in the culture and infowar, and I suspect anyone with the wrong opinion is already on a list so why not keep going?

    I justify this by looking at the success of Radio Contra, The Council on Future Conflict etc. and the role of an online community that builds these assets up – helping to motivate others.

    Wrong thinking on my part?


    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is a ton to digest here. For everyone reading this, I highly suggest that you go back on
    American Partisan and look up Scout’s posts on the use of a WiFi Android tablet to circumvent
    the cell tower network. There are specific steps to set it up and a specific way to set it up.

    A lot of the points here really scream for a larger discussion on patterns of life. It’s something that
    has kind of fallen through the cracks in this movement. Not without reason, as the news is more or
    less hellish daily and just escalating, and will continue to escalate.

    Trying to organize for action on social media is not particularly wise, IMO. Been there, done that. It’s infiltrator and provocateur city. However, using it as a rallying call while keeping your organizing local with people you know face to face, you know where they work, what they do, what their wife does, etc.. can be productive. It’s really a balancing act. The best part of it, the social media aspect, is that the people we’re at odds with really advertise all their stuff flagrantly. This is something we should be practicing to exploit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Google exists, my friend. It would be quicker for you to Google them than for me to do it and then post them, and then let you know.


      1. Thanks, I’m aware of I figured you might have had those files saved and had links to them available and that there are many such documents and given there likely length may be work than it’s worth to locate the verbiage you alluded to.


      2. Yeah, I used to,.so sorry. It got waxed on a computer change over. Didn’t mean it to sound snarky, was trying to be funny.


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