Tradecraft for Patriot Groups: Overview

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ere at TOWR we talk a lot about privacy and security, and it can seem pretty overwhelming in the face of all the technology out there. Nothing is 100% secure, and patriot groups have the added attention of a federal government who views us as domestic terrorists. The truth is that engaging in privacy and security measures online isn’t enough, especially for those involved in the intelligence side of things. Past that, even the most junior member of your group needs to understand the basics of what we call tradecraft. We are considering offering a class specifically on this in the spring, but for now this article series will give you an idea of the actions and behavior patterns that you as a patriot need to be familiar with—and engage in—if you want to keep yourself and your group safe.

Keep in mind that this series is NOT to help you commit violent, unconstitutional, or immoral acts. Please view the Creed of the Order for clarification on this. Our goal here is simple: Just being a Constitutionalist means you are a threat. Protect your contacts, your capabilities, your training levels, and anything else attached to your activities. We offer this series in an effort to help you at least get started thinking about how to implement it in your groups—or even in your individual life and activities.

In this first installment, we’ll talk about the types of patriot groups out there, and the types of tradecraft there are. You may find that not all of it applies to you (such as if you’re in a group that is purposely public). You may not want to bother with it yourself. But you may also realize that you might need a dedicated intelligence officer in your group, and you might also realize just how effective tradecraft is at protecting you, your group members, and your activities. Let’s get started.

Can Your Group Benefit From Tradecraft?

The short answer is YES. Whether your group will be interested in learning it and practicing it on a daily basis, however, is another story. One thing that needs to be understood is that every single group can improve their security. No matter how tight you think your operations are, you can always do better. Tradecraft is an excellent way of doing that.

One mistake that many groups make is that they want to be known. They want growth, and depending on the personalities of their members, they want to be popular as well. They broadcast their training events, even taking film or photos at some of them. They broadcast their group leadership positions, and individual members have no problem telling others—even the general public—that they are a “team lead” or “training officer” or even “intelligence officer.” If your group is purposefully public, and you don’t mind the federal attention (and even infiltration), then by all means shout from the rooftops. There are groups whose purpose is to be open and public (those that put on rallies, engage in the political process, etc.), and there are groups who worry more about quantity of members than quality. For these, tradecraft is something they will not be interested in. Quite frankly, in many cases, groups like this do not possess the self-discipline necessary to adhere to the behaviors that tradecraft demands.

Some groups mean well, and try to operate with some level of security, but make mistakes here and there. They might practice opsec, vet their people, and even use more secure ways of communication…and then one of them will wear his group’s morale patch on his jacket around town. They may use codenames…and then put their codename on their Facebook profile, or refer to each other by their codename on social media. These groups would benefit greatly from learning tradecraft because the intent and desire may be there—they might just need some training on how to go about it. It only takes one mistake, by one member, to expose the entire group.

The last type of group is the one that will benefit the most from this article series. They’re the grey group. These patriots don’t talk about their training or capabilities, they don’t talk about their group outside their group, and you probably don’t even know they’re in a group at all. They pay attention to where they are and who they’re talking to, use a lot of low-tech when necessary, and operate strictly on the “Need to know” philosophy. These folks might already be practicing a limited form of tradecraft, and getting more detailed information on it will only make them that much more effective. Whatever group you’re in—or even if you’re an individual—tradecraft is something you should be very interested in learning. In fact, after this series, you may want to consider whether you even want to work with people who have no interest in it at all.

What is Tradecraft?

Tradecraft, in the general sense, is simply a set of skills used in a particular field. For us as patriots (and doubly so for intelligence personnel), tradecraft is a set of behaviors, disciplines and actions that we choose to take to keep our activities clandestine.

There are several different elements of tradecraft, and they can be somewhat divided as follows:

  • Asset Handling – This refers to your source networks, contacts, people you are ‘running’ (more on this later), recruitment, and operational management.
  • Cover – This deals with things like establishing safe-houses, alternate identities such as on the darknet or when infiltrating another group (think anti-gun groups, etc.), counter-surveillance and such.
  • Intelligence Collection – This element deals with surveillance methods, maps, elicitation, questioning, and other pursuits intended to gain information. They can be high tech or low tech.
  • Communication – Comms is not just radios. It’s everything from codes to drops and letter boxes, encryption, setting up secret meetings, and anything else that gets secret information from Point A to Point B in a secure and safe manner.
  • Individual/Special Skills – These are the ‘extras’ that certain members of your group may possess, whether through specialized training, military experience, etc. Eidetic memory, speed reading, deception detection, close combat, hand-to-hand fighting, computer programming, engineering, interrogation, public affairs, and many others make up this element. Each person in a group brings something unique to the table, and these skills can be utilized in tradecraft.

There is no ‘official’ breakdown of tradecraft elements; this is purely a generalized idea. In addition, while some may specialize in one area or another, tradecraft as a general discipline can be learned by all. No one person needs to be able to engage in every single possible skill listed above; they should, however, be willing to learn outside their comfort zone, even if another person in the group is the ‘specialist’ in that element.

What is the Purpose of Tradecraft?

As we’ve already discussed, tradecraft protects you and your group. But how exactly does it do that? Concealment.

  • It conceals who is in your group, their function, and their position.
  • It conceals your activities during planning stages.
  • It conceals any logistical, financial, technical, or intelligence support.
  • It conceals you and your group while you carry out your activities (meetings, training, etc.)
  • It conceals you and your group after the activity and allows you to continue in your group.

Right now you might be saying “but my group doesn’t do anything we need to hide!” Let me make this clear: If you are a Constitutionalist patriot, you are viewed as the enemy by the federal government. If you are in a group that is training, meeting, and educating each other, you are a target. In short, if you are doing anything besides sitting on Facebook talking trash and posting memes about how mad you are and how you’re Ready For The Revolution, you need to use tradecraft. Remember—it does not matter if you don’t care about your own info. When you refuse to use precautions, then every single person who works with you no longer has a choice as to whether THEIR information and activities are safe, because you’ve made that choice for them.

In Part 2, we’ll talk about what you’re up against, and what you’re protecting. In the meantime, be thinking about the answers to these three questions:

  • What information or activities do I and my group need to keep secret?
  • What would happen if they were known by the government?
  • What lengths will the government go to in order to know them?

Author: Kit Perez

Kit Perez is a liberty activist, longtime writer, and intelligence analyst specializing in deception detection and HUMINT. She is prior Air Force, holds a degree with honors in Counterintelligence and has a Master's in Intelligence. She writes at

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