V. Sheepdogs and White Horses

Sheep do not like the sheepdog.  He looks a lot like the wolf.  He has fangs and the capacity for violence… He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16.  The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go “Baa”… Until the wolf shows up… Dave Grossman

On this 19thday of March, 2011 we observe and enjoy a uniquely American phenomenon – college basketball’s March Madness, but a channel flip away are reports of other far more serious madness, on one side of the world the brutality of a country’s leader perpetrated on his own people, and on the other a country with large sections in utter devastation after earthquake, fire, and Tsunami and still engaged with a yet to be controlled nuclear meltdown scenario.  Only too recently, at our back door, the poorest of the poor were rocked by earthquake, and as recently retired Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks states after returning from a recent trip to Haiti

If history repeats itself, much of the international aid the Haitians count on for their daily survival will now redirect to the most recent disaster. The international community is increasingly effective in the rescue phase, but seems to be so ineffective when it comes to sustainable recovery. My heart breaks to think of how the coming redistribution of aid will affect the poor people who will soon see their assistance move leaving them with little hope for the future.

More and more it seems we must recognize the dangerous flaw in planning based on consideration for high impact, but low probability events, when indeed what we experience are high impact, low predictability incidents that happen all the time with both immediate and long term recovery being a global multi-stake holder process.

For planning for both the private sector and communities – to specifically include individuals and families - considering significant professional/governmental  level assistance the core of your survival thinking is literally to cast yours and your family’s fate to the wind. That very specifically is not a statement about professional first responders. It is a comment about catastrophic scope, serious conflict with legitimate juxtaposition of priorities, sheer accessibility, and last but certainly not least, casualties among the professional responder  population.  Basic community emergency planning counts on the cavalryto be able to behave in a certain fashion, for identified critical resources to be available, and for the establishment of a stabilized command process to include elected leadership.

 And that leads to “why” this new INTERSECTION page on PWH.  First and foremost, each of us should be using the news coming out of Japan to think about the unthinkable and do some personal disaster planning, recognizing that you and your neighbors may be all the cavalry you’re going to have for a while. Simple issue: division of labor/skills and resources at hand? Have you taken advantage of local emergency training?

The idea for adding this page and sub-pages draws on several recent occurrences:

1. Most obviously the ongoing events in Japan

2. Recent discussion as a result of the announcement of “Round #2″ for PWH 2011 Boundary conditions. See the comments from mostly experienced first responders for The Earth Strikes Back: 2011 Version- Tsunami.  While PWH is mostly about decision making in severe crisis and organizational response, the idea of resilient communities and building a “culture of preparedness” requires discussion on individual readiness.

3. My own recent training in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.  (Follow the link for basic information then Google for your community)

4. A reminder by old friend, retired Army airborne Col Tom Coyle of “sheepdogs.” Tom noted in comment to my story published in MiG Sweep about the unknown and unrecognized heroic actions of Virginia Tech Cadet Matthew Joseph La Porte, that we as a country seem to “miss” these stories some way, somehow.  That led me back to Retired Army Ranger  Dave Grossman’s website and his story on sheepdogs (first sub-page below) and to a quote from General Russ Honore’s speech Leadership and Preparedness in the 21st Century.

Remember this: you’ve got to take care of your people, but don’t forget to also take care of your sheepdogs.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman is an internationally recognized scholar, author, soldier, and speaker who is one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime. He is the author of multiple books including Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill.  He is on the road 300 days a year lecturing and teaching law enforcement, military and community leaders. Grossman’s full article is offered as the first sub-page but consider his comments:

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you.

This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-grass sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

Seems to me being a sheepdog and determining to “look good on a white horse” have much in common.

This INTERSECTION breakout is intended to provide a space specifically for individual and family survival aspects. The sub-pages under this heading will bring the stories of sheepdogs like Cadet Matt La Porte at Virginia Tech and Rick Rescorla, Morgan Stanley head of security in WTC 2 on September 11, 2001 whose prior planning, emphasis on the possible, and immediate action in direct disregard of Port Authority advice, saved almost 3000 lives in WTC 2 by evacuating MS people.  Rescorla died going back in to check for others – a sheepdog in every aspect. Further, “learning” pieces like the STRATFOR recommendations will be added  as discovered.

Much in the world is amiss, much we have no control over, but at the risk of preaching, we can choose our learning moments.

This page has the following sub pages.

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