Random Thoughts: A Mindful Miscellany

from Marcus Wynne

A New Beginning…

leave a comment »

Random Thoughts is done.

For future posts, please go to my new consolidated website, http://www.marcuswynne.com, and sign up to be notified of blog posts and my newsletter.

The new site brings together my consultation work, my fiction writing and my blog into one site. Check it out and sign up to be notified of all that is new and forthcoming.


Written by marcuswynne

August 22, 2020 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


leave a comment »


Macon Champagne, not her real name, but a pseudonym she selected to thumb her nose at her former partners in crime, was a highly successful State’s Attorney in a midwestern state. She provided legal expertise and get out of jail free cards to a wide ranging and long standing criminal enterprise. When the Feds, led by a corruption-busting US Attorney she hated, landed on her with both feet courtesy of RICO, she rolled over, eagerly, and handed over all her criminal compatriots.

As part of her deal she got a full walk and resettlement.

Thing is, she didn’t go far, opting to hide in plain sight and be lost in the crowds in Minneapolis. With time on her hands, and a fine tuned skill set, and a pliable US Marshal minder, she starts building up a brand new criminal enterprise right under the noses of the Feds.

She reaches out to her old network and recruits some muscle heads who owe her, and imports them into her growing Minneapolis criminal enterprise. But in the way of muscle heads everywhere, they screw up and offend someone with powerful friends.

They don’t look like much. Just two middle-aged disabled Recon Marine Master Gunnery Sergeants.

Named Salt and Sanchez.


Coming in November 2020.

Written by marcuswynne

July 20, 2020 at 11:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


leave a comment »


Click above to go directly to Amazon and purchase this latest installment.  Readers will notice that I’ve lowered the unit price to $2.99 from $3.99, since these books are shaping up to be inhabitants of the borderland between long novellas and short novels.  GITA is already garnering 5-star reviews, as did SALT and ARIEL, so please consider leaving a review after you’ve read the book.

Thanks so much for your support and enjoy the read!

Written by marcuswynne

June 29, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


leave a comment »

“…We are all children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue. This truth holds me close, rocking me like a child in a mother’s arms.”
Tomi Adeyemi

“Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand, blood and Revenge are hammering in my head.”
William Shakespeare

“…Lean men with shaven heads and blank, implacable eyes, they were God’s gunmen, and would stare, as such, from all the tapes of history, forever.”
William Gibson

A corrupt Minneapolis real estate investor has, since the Super Bowl and Final Four, managed a growing number of AirBnB properties that serve as low profile brothels. He’s a national level money launderer in real estate and construction, who started off taking a portion of his profits as sex on demand with teenage (and younger) girls trafficked through the Twin Cities. The profit to risk ratio with human trafficking is a fraction of what it is for narcotics — and he can still launder money with fake renters and AirBnb while his people move women, girls and boys from house to house and rent them till they bleed.

And die.

He maintains a lucrative sideline with multiple advantages — his best houses have hidden sound and video recording systems that capture — in living color — the activities of some very wealthy and highly placed individuals as they partake of his human trafficking products.

He’s a fat spider in the middle of a gigantic web that stretches from Chicago to Sinaloa, with a hard drive full of video that makes him, well, untouchable.

Until he pisses off a 18-year old girl with dangerous friends.

Two old and battered and very lethal retired Marine Force Recon Master Gunnery Sergeants.

And now, things get a little Salty.


Click here

If you already read SALT, please consider leaving a review.

Thank you for reading and please sign up for my newsletter here:




Written by marcuswynne

March 3, 2020 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Rob The Corrupt. Then Kill Them.

leave a comment »


There are those who victimize others with impunity, and who get away with it again and again.

In a world of violence, uncertainty, chaos and asymmetry, two disabled Marine combat veterans take a stand, and mete out their own version of justice to bring a new order into chaos.

Their cure for that brand of odious arrogance and entitlement is to rob the corrupt.  Then kill them.

Meet The Revengers.

“We spent our careers ridding the world of assholes. And we didn’t do it for money, we’d have done it for free. We don’t do it for medals and we sure as hell don’t do it for fame. We do it because we’re wired that way. And we still are. There’s a world full of assholes out there, Sanchez. And way too many of them are getting away with shit like this, in the dark nooks and crannies of the world. A guy like this, with a badge? He’s a fucking disgrace to the whole profession, to anyone who goes in harm’s way on behalf of others. Taking him off the books is a blessing, rids the world of that. And since Uncle Sam ain’t paying these Misguided Children no more, we gotta pay our way. Pensions and disability aren’t gonna cut it. So let’s go after them. The worst of the worst. They got money, they got property, they think they’re fucking immune, hiding behind lawyers and bought judges and crooked cops and officials. How many times did we show up on some HVT who thought no one could get to him? Same skill set, same application as far as I’m concerned.”

Master Gunnery Sergeant Salt, United States Marine Corps, Retired

SALT:  Book 1 of The Revengers Series is my 11th novel.  The Revengers will be a series in the “revenge” crime novel genre, the same place you’d find DEATH WISH or THE EQUALIZER or PEPPERMINT or THE PUNISHER.  These novels are short, rich in action, and rely on a structure similar to the heist novel.  SALT is my first venture here.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Purchase SALT By clicking here =  

Sign up for my newsletters at http://www.marcuswynne.com


Written by marcuswynne

February 25, 2020 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

When Training Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Be Training

with 9 comments


Before I launch into a lengthy discussion that borders on political (extremely rare for me), I’d suggest that you read the above blog post thoroughly, verify any thing you require verified on the Virginia Senate site, at least skim the comments and then return here.

But only if you want to.


These days, as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m so far outside the “tactical community” that I may as well be Obi Wan in the desert.  That being said, I believe I can say that if not a founding member, certainly an early single digits membership card member in the beginnings of the “tactical community.”

A long time ago, in a country that now seems quite far away, in the 1980s, there were some institutions that planted the seeds of the tactical community as it exists today.  The founding of Gunsite by COL Cooper, as the first commercial “combat/tactical shooting” school was one, to be followed by Roy Chapman of the Chapman Academy.  The next generation included Clint Smith, Gabe Suarez, etc. etc.  That was shooting.  Outside of law enforcement, the military, and .gov agencies concerned with law enforcement or intelligence, most civilians learned shooting by being taught by family members or friends, quite often with military or law enforcement experience.

They were “trained.”

In the 80s, there was a security related phenomenon that took hold during what was called “The Coal Wars” in the coal mining country of the Appalachians.  That was when the predominantly Scotch-Irish coal miners hewed true to their ancestry and began walk outs and strikes against unsafe labor practices.  The mining companies began hiring, true to their ancestry, the latest generation of hired goons to come in and break the nascent unions and force miners back to work.  Then the miners, true to their heritage, and coupled with a deep body of experience in explosives honed in the mines and in the large number of returning Viet Nam veterans, as well as their heritage of shooting, ambush, hunting again reinforced by their large number of Viet Nam veterans, started not just blowing up buildings but suited executives when they couldn’t snipe them.

So then there was a demand for “security personnel.”  Problem was, the times had changed, and there were concepts like “liability” etc that called for “trained personnel.”  So where was the training to protect executives from high level threats?  In the Secret Service.  Some retired SS personnel founded “executive protection training” companies (Vance International, Dick Kobetz Black Cat) and then one noteworthy institution ESI or Executive Security International started up to provide, for a fee (quite often a very large fee) to provide accredited training in principles of executive protection.

These schools offered a level of training that was on par and in some areas exceeded the curriculum of the Secret Service or Diplomatic Security Service.  They incorporated training in firearms, tactical response, empty hand skills, driving, profiling etc.  They offered an integrated training package in “tactical subjects” and there were many noteworthy Elder of the Gunfighting Community involved in them (John Farnum, for instance, was lead firearms instructor for ESI in the Golden Years).

That was another foundation in the creation of the “tactical community” as the primary people going through those courses were not law enforcement or military, though they were a significant percentage — they were civilians looking to break into executive protection.

The third and smallest portion was tactical driving, dominated at that time by Tony Scotti and the Bob Bondurant Driving School, and for any serious executive protection operator those were must have stamps.  One other government agency required for firearms Gunsite, Massad Ayoob’s Lethal Force, Bill Rogers; for driving Tony Scotti and brought in people from ESI and some others for executive protection training to augment the Secret Service training available to .gov folks.  It’s noteworthy that for instance ESI was the only school offering force on force training for high threat protection operations in the 80s — even the Secret Service had not yet refined it’s Attack On Principal training to include that.

So how do I know?

Well, I are a student of such things, and back in the 80s made ends meet doing a thing or two in the field of executive and high threat protection.  The organization I was fortunate enough to become involved with was, at that time, the only training company that provided a mobile training team and first as a student, then as an instructor and then as a coordinator I was instrumental (or around, anyway) in the beginnings of the tactical community.  Kinda like Forrest Gump.

Den-Lofty-Marcus Minneapolis 88

CQB Services, the Outfit I worked with, had, at the time, the single best collection of counter-terror instructors in the world.  People like:

John “Lofty” Wiseman:  Retired RSM 22d Special Air Service, headed up Selection, Training, and personally taught all aspects of combat survival.

David Scott- Donelan:  Training officer for the Selous Scouts, Rhodesian SAS, and later operator with 1st Recce, South African Defense Force (Counter-Insurgency)

Gary Wistrand:  Deputy Director, US Secret Service, two-time winner National Tactical Invitational Match, developer of SS sniper program, designer of JAR sniper rifle, nationally ranked competitive shooter)

Evan Marshall:  Trainer with Detroit SWAT team and Detroit PD tactical units, famous for tactical writing/training/development and his groundbreaking and controversial research into stopping power.

Dennis Martin:  at the time, considered to be the top professional bodyguard in the world, coordinated multiple high level high threat activities in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

Timothy Mullin:  at the time, the top firearms legal specialist in the country, author of TRAINING THE GUNFIGHTER.

Leroy Thompson:  a gun writer known for his articles on executive protection.

There are some notable American alumni of CQB Services — Nick Hughes, and some obscure novelist in Minneapolis come to mind, both of whom attended courses as working professionals in the field and were later recruited as instructors because we were still in the field working.


CQB’s bread and butter course was “High Threat VIP Protection” — it was a distilled accelerated 5 and a half day course that averaged 16-18 hour training days with training continuing into the sleeping hours (we took over a hotel and required the students to run shifts and provide security since there was no “off” time) and culminated in a real world protection exercise.  When I say real world, we had a VIP, often a real one, and we set off on a half day excursion protecting the VIP in the real world.  Overseas we often ran those live fire (real ammo, real bad guys, real bad areas, with real VIPs) on the Selous Scout model of your graduation exercise was a real world operation.

That attitude and philosophy was the foundation of all we did, and we did it for the USGOV, LE, military units, all over the US and eventually the world.

As the US “Coordinator” I did all the grunt work that goes into keeping a MTT working:  finances, marketing, airline/hotel reservations, payment, etc. etc.  I also taught hand to hand, executive protection team tactics including CAT response, surveillance and counter-surveillance, “soft skills” or people management/body language reading.  That was when I wasn’t off working as I did quite a bit back in the day, often as a singleton or a team leader.

So why the history lesson?

Well, I’ve been around the American tactical community for a very long time, long enough where I still stumble across e-mails from very young people like the late Paul Gomez or Craig Douglas from back when it was a “cool kid” ticket punch to know his first name instead of the mysterious SouthNarc of the old Self Defense Forum days, and I can legitimately point to many former students out doing extremely well as operators or trainers.  I used to participate very heavily (over three million words worth, as documented off Geoff Thompsons long defunct forum and elsewhere) in online forums and Facebook.

I no longer participate.

So the reason for my historical perspective is to underscore, from my vantage as a very long member and observer of the tactical training scene, the importance of paying attention to the language of the proposed VA bill set out first thing in this lengthy post.

And before anybody starts in “Well it hasn’t passed, it won’t pass, whatever…” stick around and I’ll explain why in my opinion even putting such a law into a formal proposal is an unprecedented attack not just on the tactical community, but an entire way of life.


Den Marcus DSS

I was recruited from CQB Services into the old Federal Air Marshal Program by one of the senior instructors.  I basically went for it on a whim.  During the lengthy training at the FLETC Marana Campus, which hosted a number of other government and military organizations with an interest in counter-terror, I had the opportunity to attend a detailed briefing by the DOJ attorney who had orchestrated the legal strategy to support the first extrajudicial rendition operation the US did.  This was the kidnapping of Fawaz Younis a low level and inept hijacker involved in a hijacking of a Royal Jordanian aircraft with 4 American citizens on board.  Younis was a Hizbollah graduate of the Hizbollah hijacking academy in the Bekaa Valley, which had recently upgraded its curriculum based on information tortured out of kidnapped CIA Station Chief William Buckley, who among other things had coordinated counter-terror and counter-hijacking training in the Middle East.

The challenge, at the time, was that US was essentially forbidden by law to go outside and just kidnap non-US nationals for crimes committed against US nationals.  So Younis was selected, not that he was so important a terrorist, but BECAUSE HE WAS THE EASIEST TO CAPTURE IN AN ORCHESTRATED OPERATION THAT WOULD ESTABLISH A LEGAL PRECEDENT.

Pay attention to that in bold and underlined.

The entire operation was built on that strategy.  All the tactics, from using a boat in international waters, from having US Marshals and DOJ attorneys on hand as well as Tier One military operators, were designed to support the strategy of ESTABLISHING A LEGAL PRECEDENT.

Once that had gone successfully, it then became law and doctrine with case law to support it.  So we could kidnap terrorists, legally, anywhere in the world, and bring them back to the US to stand trial.

The same model, by the way, underlies the American targeted killing doctrine, which allows for the killing of American citizens without due process by executive order/finding after approval of a small select committee.  Didn’t know that?  Anwar Al Walaki, an American citizen executed without due process via drone by order of President Obama.

So that particular legal precedent is:  THE US PRESIDENT CAN KILL AN AMERICAN CITIZEN WITHOUT DUE PROCESS.  It’s legal.

Several of my friends, most of whom have passed, were survivors of the German concentration camps.  One in particular, who’d emigrated to South Africa instead of Israel, made the point to me one time:  “Marcus, EVERYTHING Hitler did was LEGAL.  Everything.  There were laws that supported every single action.”  He used the example of the disarmament of the Jewish population in Berlin.  One Friday, the headline in the Berlin newspaper was the Chief of Police in Berlin and the head of the Gestapo proudly announcing the total disarmament of the Jewish population in Berlin.  That Sunday, was the infamous Kristallechnacht, Crystal Night, where the Jewish population was attacked en masse by Nazi sympathizers and party members.

Back to the VA proposed law.

Nope, hasn’t passed.  Yet.  Might never pass.  Probably not in its current configuration.  But READ THE LANGUAGE.  Essentially, that STATE law would criminalize tactical training in VA — and if passed, would likely be snapped up as a model elsewhere.  Maybe even at the Federal level under a different administration.  What it does is make unnamed bureaucrats responsible for determining the trainer’s INTENT in providing the training, and the INTENT of the people receiving training.

And someone is probably saying, So what?  I don’t train terrorists, I don’t train bad people, I make people do a background check, I just teach my kids/neighbors/friends, whatever….


Here’s an example:  A certain experienced trainer offered an intensive 5.5 day protection course to a group of students that included active duty police, active duty military, professional security, and a smattering of civilians.  In an abundance of caution, that trainer made certain deletions to the training curriculum to restrict information he thought inappropriate for a civilian audience.  ALL personnel attending the course either had military/law enforcement security clearances, or National Agency Checks conducted within 30 days of class start and verified before training commenced, which is a higher standard than many trainers even today.  Some years after the graduation exercise, two of those students were arrested, tried, and convicted for supporting terrorist activities.  They were, let me stress, at the time of training, cleared by National Agency Checks, double verified, and working in professional security positions.  Even the law enforcement participants in the course had no problem with these individuals.  So some five to eight years later they get caught up in a bizarre Federal case involving weapons, drugs, and terror affiliations.

Bang.  Go to Federal jail.

The instructor in question has never been formally interviewed regarding that case.  However, it was brought to his attention that a long (and continuing) series of elicitation attempts around “providing training” may have been connected to him becoming a person of interest because of that nebulous affiliation with those two, and the hunger of various Federal agencies to “make a case” regarding terrorist training.  In one instance, a guy who started as a low level (county) member of the JTTF tried repeatedly to entrap the former instructor in everything from narcotics to firearms violations to “get access to this guy’s network.”  That member and his associates (some local LE, some Federal, and a few private) went so far as to claim, on the street, that the instructor was a confidential informant in everything from narcotics to terror, in the hopes that the leaked disinformation and subsequent  threats from street gang members — and other dangerous individuals — would drive the instructor to “coming inside” or to “make a run for it” and disclose his supposed terror connections.

It would be amusing if it weren’t real, and that the instructor maintains high level friends and connection throughout the international counter terror training community as a long time advisor and training designer.

It made him very Achy, Man.

So take that deliberately vague (for legal reasons) story as you like, or not.

The point is:  if such a law anywhere in the US establishes that providing tactical training in good faith after due diligence will make instructors LIABLE FOR A FELONY after the fact based on the subsequent actions of students, who at the time of training were legally cleared, and the instructor had no reason to believe would be using the training with ill-intent — you could conceivably go to jail for teaching your kids to shoot, for teaching a neighbor, for helping a stranger on a public gun range, let alone providing formal training for money to civilians.

It’s not just an open assault on the entire tactical training industry.  It’s an open assault on your civil rights as an American.

As people who know me will attest, I don’t do politics.  So I have no political advice to offer you.  Other people may.  Me, I’ll continue to share my knowledge, my experience, and my opinions with those who care to listen and/or seek me out.  But if I were a young tactical instructor in the open market, I would pay very very close attention to the implications of this proposed legislation, and I would take such measures as I deemed appropriate.

Whatever those might be.

And please do not take anything I say on here as gospel or privileged insider information or an attempt to persuade to any particular course of action.  Verify everything yourself and do your own due diligence.  Provided for informational purposes. ; )

Be grateful for what you have, and give thanks everywhere.  Happy Thanksgiving.


The One Eyed Fat Man, pre-felony hearing.


Written by marcuswynne

November 29, 2019 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Samhain! (Halloween for you Non-Pagans) Free Books!

leave a comment »

Happy Samhain!  The Spirits have guided me to do a giveaway of ALL my books (with the exception of SWORD OF MICHAEL, which still technically belongs to Baen Books till my lawyers wrest it back — SOM would be a PERFECT Samhain book if you want to buy one though!)

The book giveaway starts at midnight tonight, and runs until midnight tomorrow, all through Samhain/Halloween.  All my books are FREE.  Download and tell your friends!

Go here:


And click away after midnight…cue Jonny Maxwell courtesy of Patsy Cline:  “I go out walking, after midnight, in the moonlight, just a-searching for you…”

If you don’t know Jonny, download NO OTHER OPTION and check him out!

Here’s the cover from the next book:


I’ve been bogged down with Other Life Matters on this book, and a more interesting temporary work slow down.  For the first time, ever, in a very long time of writing, I’ve had to stop myself, and ask:  Do I really want to go here?

”Here” is into the dark place of this particular bad guy’s head-space.  As my long time readers know, my bad guy and gal antagonists have been regularly lauded by readers, other authors, and reviewers as some of the “best of the best in bad” — and I get more than a few sideways glances when people ask “How do you come up with characters like these?”

I’m a student of human nature and a street psychologist, and finding examples of evil isn’t hard to find when you spend a lot of time close to the street as I do.  My friend Lance Storm of WWE fame sponsored an international book club for years, and the essay I wrote for him and the readers who tackled WARRIOR IN THE SHADOWS kind of says it all about my preoccupation with evil characters:


In this latest book, I’ve been experimenting with classic pulp fiction structure as exemplified in the old DOC SAVAGE, EXECUTIONER, and STARK book series.  You take an approximate word length of 60,000 words, break it into four quads of 15,000 words, subdivide into two smaller pieces of 7500 words, and structure your acts along those lines.  Act One is the first 15,000; Act Two is the middle 30,000; Act Three is the final 15,000.  So classic Aristotle structure, yeah?  What happens in the STARK books is something I wanted to try:  the first half of the book is all about the protagonist(s) setting up their heist, hit, whatever, when they get betrayed/set up/ambushed at the mid-point. The third quad is all from the perspective of the bad guy who has set them up at the mid-point.  The fourth quad is the final act and is breakneck action culminating in a satisfying resolution and set up for the next book.

Dead easy, right?  I’ve done it in all my novels, short stories, screenplays.

I slammed — hard — into a stoppage on my third act and I’ve spent some time reflecting on why that is so.  Part of it is that the bad guy in this book is a very perverse and corrupt cop, and I generally avoid painting LE as bad guys (which is not to say there are none).  I had a discussion with a Super Cop I’ve known most of his career who’s a long time reader, and he agreed that a lot of the cops who read my books disliked, for instance, Nina Capushek a Super Cop portrayed as an alcoholic who deals with on the job stress with alcohol.

”Yeah,” he said.  “They don’t like reading about it, even when they’re off getting hammered when they’re off shift and before they go home so they can manage their own stress.”

So that was part of it.

The other part of it is I had fun with evil in my last three books (compiled into a Game of Thrones length multi novel titled WYLDE:  BOOKS 1-3).  This bad guy wasn’t and isn’t fun to write, but I feel compelled to do so anyway.

Why?  One is to explore my own resistance.  Two is that this character was inspired by some true life stories that have come my way from various sources, stories that left me, as a long time supporter and trainer of LE, as someone who wore a badge, completely and totally repulsed and outraged.  Three is that my readers LOVE bad guys…

I’ll save the gut wrenching intro to our bad guy for the release.  In the meantime, meet Salt and Sanchez, two honorably retired disabled veterans, minding their own business, which is ridding the world of the worst assholes like a Two Fer Equalizer collaboration.

When the call came to kill a man, Salt was in his garage, systematically breaking the bones of the last man he’d killed. He ignored the buzzing of his iPhone. He only answered when he expected a call which was not often. Anyone who knew his cell phone number knew he’d call back.
His usual disposal method was to transport the body to one of his designated dump points, remove the head and hands, then open the torso to expose the intestines. He prepped his dump sites for months in advance. They were all out in the country, on the edges of older or abandoned farms, where feral dogs and coyotes competed for dinner.
He trained the canids by dumping pig carcasses in his site, and returned over a period of weeks to gauge progress. After two or three carcasses, the scavengers knew to check the site, and within twenty-four hours the meat was rent and spread wide. What scraps remained melted into the old farm soil beneath the trees and in the brush.
Heads and hands were different.
He hammered the teeth out and scattered those by the handful as he drove along a country road, or the night highway. The head and hands would go into a spring, or a pond, or a river, to be fed upon by fishes, turtles, water birds.
He enjoyed watching the fish snap at the meat, or a turtle or osprey dive for a treat. Salt found it satisfying to participate in the Great Wheel of Nature, returning meat to the Great Cycle, to feed another one of God’s creatures.
He rarely brought bodies home. Don’t shit where you eat was Marine wisdom. Don’t kill or take bodies home was a logical progression from known wisdom. This kill had become complicated when someone drove through the kill zone and slowed to watch the target struggle against the rear naked choke Salt had laid deep on him. Salt bundled the unconscious man into the stolen car and exfiltrated in a hurry. Per tradecraft the vehicle was compromised, so he finished killing the man in the alley beside his car. With the body stuffed in his trunk, he drove off to beat the sunrise and returned home where he could work in the privacy of his garage.
He liked his garage. He had room for any of his five vehicles. The one that he associated most with this address was a discreet and battered Honda Accord. The USMC globe and anchor flag took up the back wall over a heavy work bench with his gun smithing and reloading equipment set up. Hand tools were mounted on pegboard, each tool outlined on the pegboard in black paint, so that any visitor, and he occasionally had some, would replace any tool they laid hands on to the exact place it came from.
Salt required order in all things.
He didn’t want to deal with blood, fecal matter and urine in the garage, so breaking the big bones would make it easier to stuff the target into the wheeled duffel he’d pulled out of his bin of assorted carriage methods for just these instances. He had a folding tree saw and pliers set aside for the fine work, which he’d do out in the field. The particular one he had in mind had a nice isolated pullout down the dirt road.
He’d already shattered the spine and was dislocating the hips when his phone buzzed.
He was curious who would call him twice. He paused in his work and checked the phone.
He’d return that call.
Her phone rang in his ear. She answered.
“Baby, I got a problem.”
He waited. She, as usual, became nervous with the prolonged silence.
“You tell me not to talk about this kinda stuff on the phone, baby.”
“It’s one of those things.”
“Can you come by?”
Salt considered the remaining tasks. Break the body, pack it up, take it to the dump site, cut the head and hands off, drive those to a water location and dump them…estimated another 2-3 hours. He looked at his battered and scratched USMC issue GSAR wristwatch. 1100 now, be done around 1400, get something to eat and a cup of coffee, swing by and listen to Lydia.
“Be there at 1500.”
“Baby…what is that in regular people time?”
He did the calculation. “Three o’clock.”
“Georgie gets home about three thirty or so…”
“Three o’clock.”
She paused. “Okay…thank you.”
He disconnected the call and went back to his task.

Raul Sanchez sauntered. He no longer ran. The Marines got his knees, his ankles, his feet after too many long runs on hard pavement and too many hard parachute landings. He got 75% disability and would likely hit 100% in a few years. As a proud Latin man he had the swagger down, but with a limp, so he worked on his saunter. When the weather was bad — cold, wet, windy — the deep ache in the bone got to him and then he’d use a cane. It enraged him that at 38 he’d be on a stick, but it was what it was.
It is what it is.
That’s what his lawyer from the VFW said after he’d ramrodded Raul’s claim through a four year backlog.
It was exactly 2.7 miles once around Lake Harriet, and the walkway was clear and flat and well paved. If he worked his saunter, it took him between an hour and a half to two hours, depending on the scenery, all the fit lovelies running, jogging or power walking the same pathway. Even more if he worked his patter on some, which was often.
It had been a long winter. In spring everyone came out. There were early rude ones who would dominate the paths in hot weather — shouting “On your left” as they biked by, or bumping past you, handicapped limping veteran with a cane or not, which occasionally pissed Raul off enough to say something, though he was careful not to go overboard.
Not that he was worried about going overboard on some rude asshole.
He parked his van near the bandshell in a handicapped spot. By way of recompense for his four year wait for his disability claim to be approved, his VFW lawyer had wrangled a significant grant to modify or purchase a handicapped accessible vehicle even though technically he wasn’t quite to the point where he needed one. It made for a good walking loop though — he made his clockwise circuit around the lake and ended up in his van, then drove to one of a dozen coffee shops where he was known by name to the baristas — the cuter the better — and he’d work on his morning linger over coffee.
Between his medical retirement and his disability he had almost $3500 tax free monthly, which for a beat up Force Recon Gunnery Sergeant with simple tastes kept him in gas, beer, coffee, and bullets.
And for the occasional classy date when he got lucky.
It enabled his side hustle, too.
His business partner in the side hustle was sitting where you’d expect him to be, perched on a bench, watching the crowd, being the Invisible Man he was in the city or in the woods or in the mountains or the desert. Salt sipped from a large paper cup, and another large cup was tucked into a carrier beside him, with a white paper bag with the top folded neatly, twice, beside that.
Just as reliable as death and taxes.
Especially Death.
Raul limped to the bench, plopped himself down.
“How’s the spotting, dude?” Raul said. He took the larger cup, sipped. “Good. Where’d you get it?”
“That old man I like. Up the hill.”
“Linden Hills Coffee. Old Jim. He’s a character.”
“He likes dogs.”
“He does.”
“I like an old man that likes dogs and coffee. He’s got the right attitude about things.”
“True that, Guns. True that.”
“Nice sweet roll in there, too.”
“Nice of you to look after my diet.”
“I don’t eat that shit but I know you need it. Gets your brain working.”
“My brain works all the time, Salt. That’s my problem.”
“Less time thinking, more time doing.”
“I did get laid the other night. Does that count as doing?”
Salt grinned. “I reckon.”
“She liked being done.”
“You got a gift.”
“True that, Guns. True that.”
Salt watched an osprey circling high above the lake.
“You ever see one of them take a fish?” Salt said.
“Beautiful. Just hangs there then drops like a stone. Bang! Comes up with a fish.”
Raul fished out his roll. A chocolate bear claw. Good.
“Seen Lydia?”
“Little while ago.”
“So what we got?”
Salt took a long contemplative pull on his coffee. “A cop.”
“A cop? A fucking cop? Since when we war on cops, Salt?”
Salt stared at the lake. Gulls circled. Their squawk carried over the water.
“We war on cops when they dishonor the oath. When they dishonor their badge. When they become the fucking criminals and hide behind the shield they’re supposed to be when they pin that badge on.”
Raul grinned. “Dang. Not pissed or anything are you?”
“Not enough to be a sick animal. Got to be a sick animal with a badge.” He drained his coffee and crushed the cup in his fist. “Got to be a sick animal with children.”
“That’s the trifecta,” Raul said. “I guess I get to be the adult in this conversation?”
“No,” Salt said. “We both get to be adults. Only time I might get childish is when it comes time to do this guy.”
“You know how I know when you’re pissed off, Salt?”
“Been around me most of your adult life, I reckon.”
“There’s that.” Raul stared out at the lake, the birds circling, the oblivious passerby deep in conversation or listening to their music, headphones pressed deep in their ear, blocking out the rest of the world. “It’s about the only time you say more than a sentence or two. You get downright garrulous.”
“What the fuck is that?”
“Never mind.”

Written by marcuswynne

October 30, 2019 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

REPOST FROM 2015: Random Thoughts on The Gunfight That Never Was or “The Old Man Gotta Be The Old Man”

with 4 comments


I have a friend I rarely see. I’m always glad to see him when I do. We sit around and drink coffee, or I sit and drink ginger ale while he sips his Bolton Bourbon, and we compare notes on the fine art and science of growing old gracefully. He has some great insights. But then, he’s had a few more years practice than I.

He prefers to stay anonymous, so I’ll honor that. He’s an inconspicuous older gentleman who bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Rogers from “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.” He has an occasionally annoying habit of humming the lyrics from the theme song of that ancient TV show:

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, won’t you be mine, won’t you be mine…”

I’ll call him OM, for Old Man. He appreciates nuance and enjoys New Age stuff, so he’ll like that.

We were chatting about Accentus-Ludus and the research we’ve been doing into the neuroscience behind making “soft skills” more accessible and faster to learn. He was good enough to tell me a tale, about a gunfight that wasn’t, but might have been, in which the decisive use of soft skills settled a gunfight that almost was.

The Gunfight That Never Was

“There’s a little shop I go to a few times a week, not far from where I live. Run by a Lebanese family. All the men work rotating shifts there, 24/7. So I go in one morning, buy the Sunday paper like I always do. Have a little chat, kibitz a bit, talk about the old days in Beirut. You know, the usual.

“So this guy comes in. Twenty-something. Buff. Strung tight. Body language swaying from side to side…stalks past the cashier’s counter…looks out the side of his eyes…shifts his hand to one side pocket…then stalks from aisle to aisle in the store and heads back to the furthest corner, where he stands and stares at the milk, and shoots a look up at the mirror above his head, so he can see the whole store…

“I fiddle with the change I just received and turn so my back is to the corner where I can see out the door and the rest of the store. My Lebanese friend, no stranger to violence, started eye-tracking this guy through the store. He’s switched on because this guy’s vibe is no good.

“Mr. Just Out Of Jail stalks to the front of the store, to the only place you can stand and see behind the cashier’ counter. He looks, then turns his back and starts rummaging through the pastries. “You don’t got any Little Debbies?” he says.

“Yeah,” my Lebanese friend says. “Right there.” Mr. JOOJ looks out the other side of the store through the opposing door. Two doors in, two doors out.

I take a short walk down the aisle, pick up a bottle of orange juice to go with my paper, come slowly up the aisle back to the counter. Mr. JOOJ stalks past the counter, takes up the position I just left, Little Debbies in his hand. A woman walks in, buys a bag of chips, chats for a second or two, leaves.

Mr. JOOJ just stands there.

I say, “Excuse me, sir? You were here first. You go ahead.” Very pleasantly.

He looks at me, hesitates, gets up to the cashier counter and I have his back. He slides one hand into his side pocket, shoves a Little Debbie in that pocket while he holds the other one up. He pulls some bills out of the pocket he just shoved the donuts in. Nice shoplifting move…not such a big deal.

The little revolver he had in his pocket a concern.

So he pays three dollars for gas, and one pack of Little Debbies. Stalks out the door to his car. My Lebanese friend is showing all the tension of somebody who’s had a brush with someone who was radiating violence. “Not a nice guy,” I observed.

“He stole, didn’t he?” my friend said. “Not worth going after,” I said.

He didn’t get through the Beirut of the 80s by being a pussy. He came out from behind the counter and went to the door and shouted out at the guy. “Hey! You! I got your picture, I got your license plate! You never ever come back here, you understand?”

Mr. JOOJ feigns surprise. “What you talking about?”

“You’re on camera right now! You know what I’m talking about! You steal, you never come back here!”

Now I gotta swear a bit under my breath. I respect the man. He thinks you let somebody steal, pretty soon everybody steals. But now Mr. JOOJ, high on something, probably meth, with a revolver in his pocket, is gonna get pissed and come storming back in here.

So you know there’s no good position in here. No cover, and I already walked through. So I step out the door, past my friend. He’s cussing this guy out. I walk out like I don’t know him, looking back as though surprised. I need to get out where I can move, though there isn’t much cover out there.

My friend has retreated inside behind the counter. So I keep be bopping to the corner of the store. I have cover there, see? I’m old but I can still hit something if I need to. So the bad guy girds himself and stalks back towards the door. No gun in his hand yet.

I button hook back and go around the building to the other door. I stand outside the opposite door where I can see through the window. The guy comes in, and my buddy, now behind the counter and the acrylic partition, with two cameras on the guy, tells the bad guy to put the donuts back and leave. Mr. JOOJ has his hands up, contrite but pissed. Like a guy in the chowline in the jail getting caught. Puts the donuts back on the counter. Walks out, stands next to his car.

I stick my head in the door. “You cool, buddy?” He’s surprised. But glad. “I’m fine, my friend. Thank you.”

“Old men gotta stick together,” I say. And I wait till the bad guy gets in his car and drives away…


So some Old Guy hangs around and watches a bad guy decide not to get caught? So what?

From the perspective of soft skills informing tactical decision making:

OM has, to put it mildly, a significant body of experience in reading bodies, live, dead, violent, non-violent – he’s seen and read them all.

That experience led him to calibrate Mr. JOOJ pretty quickly as being —

• Fresh out of jail
• Under the influence of drugs, probably meth
• Contemplating violence or the threat of violence
• Scoping out the layout of the store
• Positioning himself where he could see and watch everyone in the store stay or leave
• Moving through the store to finalize his knowledge of where the money was
• Taking up a dominant control position between his car and the door, the best place in the store if you’re taking the place
• Starting to wind himself up to shove a gun in the cashier’s face, probably right after he laid the donuts on the counter and the drawer came open.

So HOW did OM know that?
• Experience (general life experience as well as specific experience in violence)
• Training
• Genetics (he possesses the “Warrior Gene” in spades, has abnormally fast reflexes even at his age, extraordinary endurance and despite wearing glasses, sees extremely fast due to superior neurological processing)

WHAT did he do?

• He made the decision to stick around as his assessment was that his friend was at risk. He could have called the police and reported a suspicious person – even with a good response time the whole thing would have been over before they got there. And, though he is loath to say so, he has a significant body of experience in fighting up close and personal. So in his judgment, based on his experience and training, he figured it was better for his friend if he stuck around.
• He took the dominant position in the store while he scoped out the situation
• When he saw the bad guy move to the opposite corner and start scoping out the store in the mirror, he knew what was happening.
• When bad guy moved front, he moved back, deeper into the store, but giving himself some concealment (not cover) and about ten yards of distance which maximized his superior marksmanship under stress AND put him behind the bad guy, who would have to twist his head around like a bad exorcism movie in order to watch him.
• When a woman (innocent bystander) enters, he moves up, which puts him within a long step of moving the woman out of the way and an angle from which to engage said baddy.
• In my favorite move, he drops into his polite older gentleman role and invites the bad guy to move ahead of him since, after all he was first. So bad guy can either refuse what is obviously true, or he can move forward and leave his back to the old man, and try his luck on the way out. Sweet move that both defuses, soften OM’s profile to polite old man instead of predatory bad-guy killer, and puts the bad guy on the horns of a dilemma: Refuse to move and draw attention, or move into a bad position with some old man behind him?
• Bad guy goes, but then the owner gets involved too fast for my friend to control him. And, truth be told, he doesn’t really want to control him. It’s his friend’s store, after all. But the owner’s decision escalates potential violence
• He decides he needs a better position in case bad guy breaks bad on the way in and he can gauge bad guys reaction to him, see if he’s made him as an armed good guy who’s looking to light his ass up. No reaction to him, since sweet move #2 is to act (deception, yeah?) as though he doesn’t know the owner and he’s hurrying away so as not to get involved.
• Once clear he can move to the corner of the building where he actually has cover and not just concealment (you do know the difference?) and watch Mr. JOOJ.
• When bad guy enters, instead of crowding up behind him, he cuts around the store and comes up on the blind side at the opposite door where he can see what’s going on and still have cover as well as concealment.
• Bad guy figures it’s not his day to rob this particular store, especially since the owner is back behind the plexiglass and he’s got cameras rolling and maybe the cops too, so he makes apologies, drops the donuts and leaves in a hurry.

No weapons displayed. No shots fired. No bloodshed. Nobody killed.

A word or two about OM: early 60s, combat veteran on the battlefield and on the street, totes a Karl Sokol customized Browning High Power he was issued by an Other Government Agency back in the 70s, with a Smith and Wesson hammerless .38 snub that was OGA issue back in the day, both of them in very well worn Ken Null leather holsters on a Null belt. Soft spoken, extremely intelligent with a Psychology degree from an Ivy League school coupled to a lifetime of experience in the worst places in the world. Book knowledge leavened with street smarts. He doesn’t go around looking for anything to prove, because believe me, he has nothing to prove to anyone.

So that’s his story. No violence happened. Violence avoided. Why?

Because of, for lack of a better term, what’s called “soft skills.” The skills that don’t involve hitting or shooting or cutting.

What kind of soft skills did he use?

Superior vision processing. He maintains a relaxed visual scan of his environment at all times. Fully utilizes his peripheral vision and knows the limit of his focus/discrimination visual zone and his peripheral vision.

Superior pattern recognition. Experience and training leads to recognize certain nexuses of behavior; the little pieces add up. He uses his superior vision processing to run faster pattern recognition thorugh the nexus of experience and training (remember the OODA loop?)

Superior body language acuity:  Experience, training, genetics. Adding up things like posture, body movement marking, skin flushing or blanching from studying with people like Paul Ekman, Joe Navarro, or some oddball Welsh-Filipino in Minneapolis. What comes before what is normally taught as pre-violence indicators.

Time distortion/cognitive acceleration: How he utilizes his subjective perception of time and physiologically induced changes to his experience of time.

So how do you cram 40 years of somebody else’s experience into your head?

Train your soft skills like you train your draw stroke or other motor skills. Break it down into the component parts, train them, reintegrate them. Measure how much more efficient your brain is at processing that kind of data.
Rinse and repeat.

And stand by for the next generation of technology and training. Remember in THE MATRIX when Neo and Morpheus go for it, and Neo exclaims, after his accelerated transcranial stimulation download, “I know kung fu!”

We’re almost there….

Written by marcuswynne

July 10, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

REPOST FROM 2012-ish: Mindset Rambles Pt 6; The Other Guys Assimilating mental training…

with one comment

Here’s another repost.  Matt Graham in this open-source video allows two civilian commentators into a mixed enrollment class near a .gov training facility in VA.  He took over a portion of the job that my friend and mentor Ed Lovette had back in the day.  Matt has a lot of overlap with me (pre-9/11 Federal Air Marshal among other things) and through correspondence, phone calls, and this blog has incorporated a LOT of my material into his presentations — and does an excellent job of it.  Much of the lecture material, and the emphasis on guided and collaborative learning, comes from work I’ve been doing in this area since the 80s.  Good example of a first-rate firearms and tactics instructor incorporating “out of the box” thinking and research and putting it into the service of prepping our finest operators in covert and overt capacities.

This video provides an excellent overview of many of the aspects I’ve discussed here as taught by a first-rate firearms instructor. I’ve shared quite a bit with Matt and he’s done a superb job of assimilating it and synthesizing new approaches…which has always been my intention behind sharing my work so widely — and freely. Previous students of mine will recognize some exercises, especially time distortion as applied to shooting…

Written by marcuswynne

June 27, 2019 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with

REPOST: (FROM 2012) The Evolution of Mindset Training, Part 1 — Some Random History

leave a comment »

I first wrote this series back in 2012.  It was more for my purposes and some of my students and colleagues, but maybe there’s still interest in it yet.  Most of the material remains valid except for the references to the DARPA programs which have since moved on (I beat their old training goal of 50% reduction significantly by clocking in a 85% reduction in specific training programs, but bragging is unseemly.)

It’s interesting for me to watch the evolution in mental aspects training in combative applications. When I started researching and developing ways to inculcate mental training into combative training in the 80s, the only people (officially) involved in that were the folks parodied in the movie THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS. Ronson’s book of the same name, in my opinion, was one of the best pieces of disinformation ever put out about a sensitive training program, but it does make for amusing reading.

For better historical information, check out http://www.amazon.com/Search-Warrior-Spirit-Fourth-Disciplines/dp/1583942025. Heckler-Strozzi does an excellent job of documenting the early evolution of the training. One of the students he trained in this particular project (again, parodied in THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS) won a Medal of Honor. Jim Channon, immortalized by Jeff Bridges in the movie, was a LTC tasked with developing mental aspects training in the 70s. A good overview of what he did is here: http://ejmas.com/jnc/jncart_channon_0200.htm.

As you may imagine, the “New Age” flavor of the mental techniques examined (which included bio feedback, meditation, active visualization, etc — remember this, we’ll come back to it) put off a lot of people. The level of distaste, dislike and distrust for the “touchy-feely” approach was reflected officially in a generally sweeping condemnation of the 70s and 80s era programs, captured specifically by a dismissive overview conducted by the National Research Council report drafted in the 80s and published in 1990 here: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=1580

As a counter-point to the criticisms leveled by the NRC in the Enhancing Human Performance report, COL John Alexander, Major Richard Groller and Janet Morris wrote and published a book titled THE WARRIOR’S EDGE (not to be confused with a book by a trainer who adopted part of the title for his book after I pointed out this particular reference to him). THE WARRIOR’S EDGE is out of print but still available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Warriors-Edge-Front-Line-Battlefield/dp/0380716747/ref=dp_ob_title_bk.

MAJ Groller also published an article in the handgun press (JPEG below) which was the first detailed examination, naming names and giving statistics, of the JEDI PROJECT focused on enhancing combat marksmanship.

I was at the time involved in developing training for Air Marshals and other people at the former FLETC facility at Marana, AZ, which also hosted, at the time, a number of other government organizations involved in counter-terrorism.

Den Marcus DSS

I was part of an informal working group that included people like Bob Taubert http://www.amazon.com/Rattenkrieg-Science-Quarters-Battle-Pistol/dp/0977265943 who was at the time with the FBI SOAR Unit, Ed Lovette http://www.amazon.com/Defensive-Living-Preserving-Personal-Awareness/dp/1932777091/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355681350&sr=1-1&keywords=defensive+living who was, at that time, conducting training for a government agency involved in counter-terrorism, Dave Spaulding http://www.amazon.com/Handgun-Combatives-second-Text-Only/dp/B004RTMXY6/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355681403&sr=1-2&keywords=handgun+combatives+2nd+edition and a number of other notables in training. I was fortunate to have an extensive roster of cutting edge mentors and contacts, derived from my employment as a protection specialist and trainer with Lofty Wiseman and Dennis Martin’s CQB Services operation:

Den-Lofty-Marcus Minneapolis 88

While at FLETC, I had access to a facility and a cadre of role players, and I was fortunate enough to be given a free hand in designing certain aspects of training. I had the opportunity to experiment with and then implement some of the early concepts that evolved into “neural-based training” — incorporating elements of accelerated learning, cognitive strategy mapping, expert skill set transfer to novice learners, etc. — on multiple groups of students. And I didn’t have to have an approved Human Use Protocol.

I shared my results freely with the other members of our “working group” and got plenty of feedback from the guys who were out doing the deed in the late 80s and early 90s. After I left federal service in 1993, I continued the work and shared the information as I found it. I found excellent testbeds for the concepts (relative to unarmed combat) in the martial arts and “front door security” world of the United Kingdom, where security professionals regularly engage in full on unarmed combat against armed or unarmed (and skilled) opponents; my testbed for armed combat was in South Africa, where I was invited by the South African Police Service to present material to their frontline operators in what was, at the time, the most violent urban area in the world. The SAPS incorporated it into a module titled MENTAL CONDITIONING FOR CLOSE COMBAT, required for all National Police officers in the mid 90’s.

Meanwhile, back in CONUS, “mental training” was relegated to lectures on mindset, many of them growing from COL Cooper’s original Gunsite lecture on mindset http://www.amazon.com/Principles-Personal-Defense-Jeff-Cooper/dp/1581604955 which influenced and continues to influence multiple generations of combative instructors. As it should. But talking about mindset is not the same thing as training it.

I started publishing in 94-95 a series of articles, primarily in COMBAT HANDGUNS, SWAT, GUNS AND WEAPONS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT (some of them archived on this blog) focusing on sharing with a larger audience some of my findings. These included introductions to the OODA Loop, situational awareness as an attribute, and training that focused on installing and enhancing the mental platform for combat. There’s some good overviews archived here: http://www.kalijkd-u.com/dev/kjkdu_articles.php?aid=1&title=Marcus+Wynne:+The+Way+of+the+Jedi However, writing about mindset is not the same thing as training it.

I was laughed at quite a bit and denounced for “New Age” bullshit. One notable, at the time, trainer made a point of denouncing “so-called accelerated learning” in his popular book; I notice that in subsequent editions he’s deleted that. Perhaps after these folks started focusing major effort on that “so-called accelerated learning: http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/DSO/Programs/Accelerated_Learning.aspx

I just plowed ahead and continued to do my thing. I measure my success by the number of lives saved by people I’ve trained all over the world.

Lives saved, dudes and dudettes. That’s what it’s all about.

So fast forward to the second decade of the 21st century and what do I see? I’m so far outside the tactical community I may as well be Obi Wan out in the desert, but I do see a return by cutting edge trainers to the essential foundation of the warrior’s skill set — mindset and mental attributes. I also see that technology and research is catching up with the work that was done back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Here’s where the cutting edge research is today: (these are out of date, go look at http://www.darpa.mil for new stuff)


And here’s *some* of the really cutting edge technology that’s becoming available:

Everything Old Is New Again.

The Article That Started It All —
Jedi 1

Jedi 2

Jedi 3

Jedi 4

Jedi 5

Written by marcuswynne

June 25, 2019 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with

%d bloggers like this: