Gray Zone Dispatch/Going Deeper Into the Gray Zone

Going Deeper Into the Gray Zone

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

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Mike Shelby


Former Intelligence NCO and Contractor. OEF (x2) and OIF (x1) veteran.

CEO, Gray Zone Activity

Fellow Gray Zone Warlords,

LEADERSHIP is one of the golden opportunities in your community.

You probably know people, or maybe you're surrounded by people who are concerned or even fearful about the future. They're begging for a leader; someone to show them the way through. Maybe that needs to be YOU.

Regardless of your skills or pedigree, organizing and leading your tribe is going to be key to your survival.

I outlined the Gray Zone Roadmap to make this process as simple and straightforward as possible. These are the steps you MUST take if you want to maximize success in the Gray Zone.

Follow along as I describe the why and how at each step.


Physical fitness is probably the most overlooked aspect of preparedness.

A bug out bag, food, water, ammo, fancy gear, toys, and all the other "stuff" people buy does very little when you're huffing and puffing your way through an emergency.

What's more is that others' first impression is almost always based on your demeanor. Fit people tend to carry themselves better and tend to be more capable. People will pick up on that.

Your goal here is not to be in the same fighting shape as a Green Beret (although that's not a bad goal), but to get physically fit and healthy.

People will notice. And the more mentally and physically strong you are, the more likely your tribe will follow you.


As you're becoming more mentally and physically fit, and gaining core skills and knowledge -- congratulations, you're now building the personal authority to lead others.

Good leaders are skilled and knowledgeable. They're "doing the things" to earn the respect of others. They know what to do next and how to get there. And they know how to provide purpose, direction, and motivation to their tribe to get things done.

Work on developing your tribe. Cookouts, movie nights, camping trips, hunting, training -- whatever family and team events you can prepare. Aim for maximum involvement. The people who show up are your tribe. The people who consistently don't show up are not. Act accordingly.

Then work on expanding your local network. Utilize existing relationships to meet new people. Turn your people into passive information collectors. And train others to actively gather information. Knowledge is power.


We finally made it to our strategic goal: wielding power and influence for good at the community level.

All the previous steps were tactics to building power and influence, but this is the crux of the strategy.

We will live through a worsening low intensity conflict -- low level tribal conflict due to political, social, and economic deterioration.

The best way to wield power and influence during the next decade is by building social cohesion, first among your tribe, then among linked tribes in your network, and then community-wide. This is an imperative.

"The best-organized group usually wins, and that means the with the most internal solidarity." - Jack Goldstone, Revolution & Rebellion in the Early Modern World


Each phase of the Gray Zone Roadmap is designed to make the next phase easier.

The more mentally strong you are, the more success you'll have at the gym. You can will yourself to workout, even on days that you don't want to, through sheer mental strength.

Mental resilience means you won't give up, even after setbacks or personal stumbles.

This is not some Tony Robbins BS. Talk to any special operations guys and they'll tell you that personal success starts with mental toughness.

Mental toughness will not only push you through the Roadmap, but it will also push you through when the going actually gets tough -- in the Gray Zone.


As you're pursuing mental and physical fitness, you should also be expanding your knowledge base and frame of reference.

Start with the five core skills areas and an Area Study.

The five core skill areas are required basic knowledge. You should develop them well enough to teach others the basics.

And do your Area Study. Look for opportunities and make the most of what you have in your backyard. Then identify the threats and hazards and plan to mitigate those risks.

It also helps to read about low intensity conflict and what life is like in the Third World. These are the Gray Zone conditions you should be preparing for.


As you're leading your tribe and expanding your network, look for ways to build political, social, and economic power.

Almost everyone focuses on developing "hard power, but the truth is that in low intensity conflict, soft power is way more valuable.

Being able to mobilize people to exert political, social, and economic power and influence is the ultimate flex.

Violence (alone) does not win low intensity conflict, but political, social, and economic power do.

It's not the guy with the most guns and ammo who wins the future, but the one who can bring the most people to the fight.

Build your tribe, expand your network, and then start throwing your weight around.


In my next post, I'm going to cover the importance of social cohesion and internal solidarity because it's a central part of having strength in the Gray Zone.

If you got something from this post or want to access to the rest of my emails (most of which don't get posted), then sign up for the Gray Zone Dispatch below. Until next time, be well and stay out front. - M.S. 

Gray Zone Dispatch

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  • ​Winning Low Intensity Conflict
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