Spy Tips on Field Operatives, Legal Documents, Fog of War, and more…
As a field operative, some aspects of life aren’t part of your daily experience. You may be familiar with the mountains of Afghanistan or know how to break down a .50-caliber machine gun, but that expertise comes at the cost of certain normal activities people take for granted.
One of the toughest parts of adjusting to civilian life after a major operation is the paranoia. You can’t turn it off. If a shopper behind you is carrying a suspicious package and avoiding eye contact, they could be there to do you harm. And if you’re right about the threat, the consequences could be serious. Of course, if you’re wrong, the consequences could be serious, as well.
Post-operation paranoia isn’t something you can control. It’s with you always when you’re working, when you’re relaxing. Even sleep is no escape.
Gaming facilities provide a natural habitat for loan sharks who are always hunting for gamblers who need a quick buck at a bad rate. As long as they don’t turn on each other, they’re at the top of the food chain.
Making an approach to a bad guy isn’t always about seeming scary, intimidating, or even smart. A certain kind of target needs to feel superior, so if getting the job done means letting them be the dominant force in the room. You step back and let them do exactly that.
As a spy, you get used to people having whispered conversations about you. It’s a little like being in high school. But when people are whispering about you in algebra, they’re a lot less likely to try and kill you afterward.
When you’re running an official operation, the mission is over when your superiors say it is. Documents are locked away to a basement vault, and you walk away. When you’re investigating events from your own life, it’s harder to turn the page. Even if you’ve read a file 10 times, it might still hold a secret.
Bad guys, like most people, aren’t big on checking the details in legal documents, which makes fine print a powerful weapon for a spy. Altering information on subsection 10 of a title deed may not be very exciting, but when that information makes a loan shark look like a cop, it can be as deadly as a bullet.
Stalling someone with a car accident is about calibrating the perfect amount of impact. You don’t want to cause a major injury or create a massive scene. You just need enough contact to keep your target from leaving right away, and it’s all about the timing. You want to make them hit you.
One of the most powerful techniques in a spy’s arsenal is accusing a bad guy of being a good guy. Your enemy’s associates dispatch their version of justice faster than any law-enforcement agency, but they’re often more ruthless. Of course, that’s the same reason that spies live in fear of the day they accidentally accuse one of the good guys of being a good guy.
When people are whipped into a murderous frenzy, standing between them and their target can get you killed. To stay in the game, you have to seem just as crazy as everyone else. You have to come up with a reason you need to stay close and the target needs to stay alive.
It takes a combination of factors to create the fog of war on a battlefield. But spies know even a single weapon can be a serious distraction. It’s hard not to look where someone’s firing, and gunshots are disorienting, especially at close range.