Dark Holes

“All Dark Holes Have Guns.”

Ken Good, Strategies of Low Light Engagements.

Reflecting on this during events of the last few weeks. Ken talks about dark holes having guns when he is explaining the second principle of lighting, Operate from the Lowest Level of Light.  He and his crew developed the idea working in the darkened below decks of ships: I’ve trained on ships as we have a small commercial port in our city and include this as part of our yearly training rotation in the event something occurs there: the surfaces are very hard and irregular and the holes are very dark and there are a lot of them.

We deal with dark holes in our day-to-day as well. Take a look at the front of your house, for example. In the light of day, walk outside and take a look at how many dark holes you see staring back. How many of them could someone be standing in, a few feet back from the window, and watching you while completely unobserved?

Or at night, how about with your security lighting? You pull into the driveway and the motion light goes on, lighting up the front of your garage, the interior garage light goes on, and the person inside a darkened upper story window can watch you in the Pool of Light while they are unseen by you.

Live out in the country? The long driveway through the woods, to the clearing, by the creek?

Your home is an Island of Light surrounded by a Dark Hole, which has eyes, and could have guns. I have the experience of that all the time, inserting at o-dark-thirty prior to warrant services- even watching folks shooting heroin at a drug house just prior to the announcement of police, they completely unaware anyone was outside the window. Once of them even looked outside directly at the team walking up, and saw nothing. And once I had the surreal experience of standing outside a window in the pitch darkness of a starless night, with no outside lighting at all at a house surrounded by pastures, looking into the lighted bedroom where a suicidal man was laying behind a bed, wedged between the edge of the bed and the sliding mirrored doors of a closet. We were a few feet off the window and in complete darkness, but could see his feet, and his position through a partial reflection in the mirror. And that he had a rifle and that the muzzle was probably in his mouth. We could not see his head or face but only the top edge of his arm and shoulder and leg, and his feet were directly visible from the other side of the bed. Never knew we were there.

There are more – tinted windows in vehicles are dark holes, potentially very dangerous ones.

Or shiny ones, where reflection and glare prevent seeing inside. Like sometimes at a storefront, and depending on the angle of observation. Always remember just because we can’t see outside-in doesn’t mean they can’t see inside-out.

Window coverings as well are either opaque or covered holes, and one can peek through a hole in blinds while standing right up against them while no one outside can see in.

Just an observation  – there, I did it twice in one post – of things that we must repeatedly remind ourselves of. Or make those around us aware of, whether family members from a self protection point of view or fellow professionals dealing with reports of violence and guns inside darkened environments.  I’d recommend Ken’s book as a good place to start for more information on operating with and within the dark and the light. But the best of practice is in keeping such things in mind in the every day.


Fear and Fortitude

“Death fear and Death weakness hit the boy, shutting off his breath, stopping his blood.”

William S Burroughs, Naked Lunch

Fear exists at the core of so much of  what we do. Most in our modern society have little need to summon physical or even moral courage when there are truly meaningful consequences: death or serious injury or the loss of livelihood or social status or support systems for standing up for what is right.

Two books addressing the development of the kind of courage needed to do just that, particularly in soldiers and “other professions that go in harm’s way” are:

Conquering Fear – Development of Courage in Soldiers and Other High Risk Professions


Power of Courage in Combat and Danger

both by Halim Ozkaptan Phd, Gen. Crosbie Saint (Ret.) and Col. Robert Fiero, (Ret.).

Essentially they are the same book, the latter an expanded version published later, with Appendices and more background information. It -let’s actually call it the same book – is specifically addressed to Army leaders interested in the elements of fortitude, and instilling, developing, and maintaining it in combat troops.

Essentially it boils down to character and courage – the “strength of mind allowing one to endure pain or adversity courageously,” which of course applies to anyone hoping to manifest personal integrity in times of danger. Liberal use is made of historical quotes providing examples defining the topic, offering perspective and wisdom from times past, and confirming that we have known for a long time how to develop fortitude in people…

It’s just that the prescription is hard to swallow.

The book breaks it down into leader training, individual training, and collective training. Specific to military applications, most of what is discussed is universal. There will be nothing groundbreaking for those in the Multi-disciplinary/Interdisciplinary tactical training world, spanning as it does the elements of sound character traits and actions of the leader, inculcated personal ethics and knowledge, and skills and physical attribute training. All are spoken of in general, though a few specifics are mentioned in passing: specific symbolism, rites of passage, and esprit de corps; the difference between leadership and management (spot on, this bit!), sports and games (“boxing, judo, wrestling and pugil sticks”…sense a theme?), maneuver training, etc. Each is attached to a particular realm: leader, individual, and team training, and all are geared toward allowing the individual warrior to manage fear under duress, as well as just going about life with integrity and resilience. The effects of military life and of managing fear over time and with repeated exposures are addressed at length.

As a collection of general principles for developing fortitude through constant attention to training the inner self as well as leader and warrior skills, or as a resource for anyone who is in a position to lead others into combat, this book has much to offer. It could stand some editing, and once again, while nothing earth-shattering is presented there is often value in having our belief systems – and life path – confirmed.


It should be said…


“It should also be said that it is not good for others and does harm to ones’ self to simply remain tranquil and speaking like a three year old child, never becoming angry, bearing rancor, or deploring matters when one should.

This also goes for letting situations pass by when one should definitely speak his mind to another, in the end becoming known by all as overly accommodating.

It is a good thing to keep one’s mind tranquil, yet to speak what one should when there is a situation that should be reprimanded, and thus not become known as completely mindless.”

-Shiba Yoshimasa