Balance The Odds Pt. V – an interview with Hermes Medical

Balance The Odds Pt. V – an interview with Hermes Medical

So, we’ve interviewed HHK (Hestehovkompaniet) Trident EOD, Arquebus Control Team and of course Sky One from Norway’s stunning RealSim collective Task Force Exorbitance

We round the series with Hermes Medical, by no means last and definitely not least, Hermes are pivotal in keeping the rest of the TF in the fight.
Here we’ll talk through their kits, gears and blasters and these impressionistas Medic and PJ (ParaJump Rescue) inspired load outs, and more importantly their quintessential role within Exorbitance.

S23: Welcome aboard, last but not least it great to round out what’s been an astounding series of interviews with Hermes
Dialing it right back to the beginning, how long have you been playing ‘Plastic Deth‘ (Airsoft) and how did it all start ?
M03: Like most of us, I and my friends in our early teens bought some springer pistols at this local shop that didn’t really care about age, rules and such. We had ‘BB Warz‘ in our backyards, of course this was not accepted by our parents but ever since, I’ve always thought that Airsoft had so much potential, little did I then know what I had in store. 

… the early days …
When I found a local, organized club in early 2013.
I found a few likeminded guys and we went all in with Russian gear, I think it took three months before I went from casual gamer to impressionist.

‘Leeroy Jenkins !!!’ (Now)
I joined ‘Spetsgruppa K‘ and from there I got to know some really cool guys, including HHK.

S23: What was you first taste of the Norwegian RealSim scene, what sort of impact did that have on where you wanted to go ?
M03: I didnt really get into RealSim before I had already gone from Spetsgruppa K and joined TF Exo, what really drove me into this extreme niche was the dedication the other guys had, the constant drive to be better, make the experience better for others and the friendship within the Task Force.

S23: Possibly one of the more eclectic, possibly even difficult load outs to develop and evolve – what inspired the PJ and Medic load outs of Hermes ?
M03: Hermes wanted to fit in with TF Exo, so we started out with the guys from ‘Inside Combat Rescue‘ (National Geographic PJ documentary) and the last year we have been moving towards modern STS (Special Tactics Squadron) just to get our hands on some better gear and follow the timeline with the rest of TF Exo.

S23: How much painstakingly excruciating research did you have to put in ?
M03: Oh my god, you have no idea! I went from Russian gearwhore to AFSOC PJ in like, five months, I had literally no clue on western gear, I hardly knew what a LBT 6094 was. 

Fortunately I had a lot of help from the rest of the Task Force, and they knew that I didn’t know that much on western gear. Asgeir, the founder of Hermes already had a basic kitlist but like the rest of the Task Force, I like to customize my loadout a bit more than the basic kitlist, and make it more effective for our missions. The last year, when we have been moving towards STS, the new guys, M04 and M06 have really made an effort in identifying kit, finding pictures and guiding Hermes the right way, I couldn’t have done it without them.

M03 with a member of Grey Group

Special Tactics Squadrons consist of Special Tactics Officers, Combat Controllers, Combat Rescue Officers, Pararescuemen, Air Force Special Operations Weather Technicians, Air Liaison Officers, Tactical Air Control Party operators, and a number of combat support airmen which comprise 58 Air Force specialties.
S23: Now, for the most part, I’d imagine much of your medical expertise and its application is simulated and undoubtedly brings a very new dynamic to RealSim events – is this immersion possibly something that more events should explore. I’d imagine it adds no end of tone and tempo to the proceedings?
M03: Most definitely! Strict medic rules changes the whole dynamic to the event! 

Everyone should be afraid to get hit, and getting hit should have consequences for the rest of the team, even the mission, and having dedicated medics should be rewarded. When TF Exo participate in events with simple medic rules, we play with RealSim rules just to heighten our own experience, and possibly guys around us also …
S23: … and how much of your ‘in game medical care’ is counterpointed by real world first aid and medical care, I’d imagine any knowledge, even routine basic first aid would prove to be invaluable for the environments you often find yourselves in ?
M03: The average Airsoft player is not in always average shape, lets face it, and when an average player runs sround in the woods, injuries are bound to happend, so yeah, some basic first aid training comes in handy.

 Asgeir serves in the Norwegian military, I myself was a medic in the military and those of us who have got no training or experience in first aid, we teach. 

The pack is a TSSI M9, there are several producers of the same pack, but mine is from Tacops. Its a great pack, slim and low profile – you can carry all the essentials, but not much more. When I served I had a much bigger pack with alot more equipment, but then I did not walk all the time, so it was no big deal. What I really like about the pack is how you can customize it to your needs. You got padded shoulderstraps, but if you dont like them and they get in the way of your weapon, you got these really slim straps attatched to the pack. You got three different inner panels, and you can change every pocket, even rip them out.

We are also a good resource for others around us who may be more skilled than us, since our backpacks are filled with real, relevant first aid supplies.

S23: … it surely must be quite exhilarating, patching up a ‘fallen comrade’ and getting your buddy up and running again all the whilst drawing fire – do you utilize tactics to concentrate on the task in hand while the rest of the team give cover and pull security?

: Yeah, its kind of ‘own safety first’ – Hermes falls, Exo is f****d, so we get some guys to help us get our fallen back behind the line of fire, or we move the line of fire forward so we can reach our guys. In extreme cases where nothing else is possible, we just run as fast as we can towards the fallen. The adrenaline and kick you get when you are reviving a fallen team mate and people are shooting at you or the guys beside you are really something to experience.
S23: Talk us through you personal load out, what modifications and adjustments have you made to improve functionality at events, Skirmishes and RealSim‘ ?

M03: The key factor is weight and access to medical kit, so I have TQ’s in my shoulder pads for quick application, scissors between the kangaroopouch and vest, carabiner hook on the stock to hang the rifle up and away if we are treating someone in a vehicle, my backpack is almost the exact setup as I had in the military so i know every pocket, content e.t.c. for easy, smooth use. Since we dont roll in Blackhawks we pretty much carry everything with us, including litters, IV’s and such so our loadouts are pretty clean, nothing is unnecessary, everything is put to use.

Hermes and other elements of TF Exo

S23: And of course, your blaster – I take it you still use the Marui M4 NGRS as a base platform ?
M03: Yes, we are still using the Marui M4 as our standard platform but as our gear have transitioned to the modern STS PJ Era, so have our rifles. Most of our guys are currently running M4 CQBR with 9.5″ Daniel Defense rails and 10.3″ barrels with up to date accessories. Other than our standard M4’s we have started our reconnaissance loadouts where we’ll be utilizing an M110, SR-25 and M14 EBRS.

S23: … Really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses ? 

M03: definitely, like strict medicrules, lowcaps change the hole dynamic, you have to think before every shot, count rounds, even better, before the event you have had to zero your sights to make every round count – M03

Keep up to date with Hermes right here on  Hermes Medical Facebook:

Huge thanks to M03, and of course to all of Task Force Exorbitance who’ve made this series of interviews such a resounding success. Don’t forget, of course you can catch up with the other four parts right here, and see what role HHK, Trident, Arquebus and Sky One play in TF EXOS23


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Balance The Odds Pt. II – an interview with T03 from Norway’s Trident EOD

Balance The Odds Pt. II – an interview with T03 from Norway’s Trident EOD

Hot off the heels of Hestehovkompaniets H87’s interview we are back with another interview fro Task ForceExorbitance, this time with T03 from Trident EOD.

Trident like  HHK are key components of the bigger picture, the support, community and established frame work has allowed to what many would consider and ambitious undertaking. However, alongside Hermes, Sky and Arquebus they’ve formed TF Exo subsequently bringing not only unlimited options to the table, but a new unbridled level of immersion and suspension of disbelief to RealSim scene.

Read here how Tridents unique transformation saw rapid ascent to the ranks Exo, which they now form part of the group and the vital role they play supporting the rest of the Task Force.

S23: Welcome aboard, thanks for reaching out to us, and secondly kindly agreeing to an interview, it’s our intention to round out this series with members from Sky, Hermes and Arquebus. But this serves as superb follow to H87’s interview from Hestehovkompaniet. So, how did you get started with Plastic Deth (Airsoft) ?
T03: No problem, it’s my pleasure. Well, about four years ago I got back in touch with an old buddy of mine who had just started out with Airsoft. At the point I didn’t even know there was a community in Norway. So I bought myself a G36C (I thought that was the coolest rifle at the time) and a s***y Multicam uniform and went speed balling with the rest of the guys. Since it’s a very small community where I live, it was not more than very small Sunday games at best with a maximum of ten or so people, but sadly the interest in the club died shortly after.

Then we were down to five people still wanting to play and started looking for bigger events. We got the taste of MilSim very quickly and after that, things have escalated in rocket-speed. Two more fell away and the remaining three of us suddenly stumbled our way into the ranks of Task Force Exorbitance 
S23: Now, impressions – you’ve focused on gears with Trident EOD emulating the United States 28thArmy EOD, what was inspiration for such specific gears ?
T03: I think it was catching the MilSim bug, that was one of the key factors, we wanted to do something more than just run around in the woods playing team death match. Combined with the urge to make a good reputation for ourselves to get the attention of Task Force Exorbitance.

Tridents EOD gears

We wanted to do something no one else had done before us. And I think it was, in part, inspired by one of the Hermes guys who wrote in a post in the Norwegian Airsoft group  that someone should do an EOD impression. After that I think we had really made up our minds on EOD after four minutes of discussion. (laughs)

… breach !!!

Then we had to find someone with the looks and from a branch that actually could fit in with the rest of EXO, so when we stumbled upon 28th Army EOD the choice was easy (plus they had a sh**t ton of photographs for reference material)

S23: Was researching quite a specific and unique unit difficult, are there kits and gears you still need to get or find to finish the project, or is it always an ongoing evolution ?
TO3: As not all of the pictures are high resolution, it’s sometimes really hard to pinpoint what the make or type of pouches, slings and smaller accessories are.

Since this is gear for hobby use and the most of us have houses, cars and familys to maintain, there is always something that needs to be bought. Building a correct stitch perfect impression kit is always an ongoing process, and actually it’s where some of joy of doing it comes from.

Photo courtesy of Roar Steve

S23: Now, I’d imagine you naturally fulfil a unique role in Task ForceExorbitantance, clearing ordinance, destroying enemy assets and of course breaching and clearing obstructions – but, that aside I take you otherwise fulfil a combat role too – what can you tell us about Tridents remit and responsibilities with the Task Force?
T03: Since not every game requires EOD personnel, we simply work as a regular DA element with the rest of the team, or conduct and support Recce work if necessary.

The ethos of the Task Force is that we can step in and cover most of the aspects of the others specialisms and solve any mission thrown our way.

S23: Now, I recently saw some great photography come out of OperationGarden Centre, care to talk us through your participation and involvement during that expedition?
T03: That was a great game, hosted by some great guys from Sweden! (Credit to Airsoft Adventures)

We really got put to the test on that expedition, we did everything from recce-missions, stand-by QRF and even a hot insertion by car followed up by Exfil of captured HVT’s, as well as some interrogation and demolition work.

Trident, alongside team mates from Hermes on a joint InFil with members of Devt6group5

We co-operated with the guys from Devt6group5 (Gray Group) and some members from Task Force Hotel Sierra (shout out to Seb, Lee-Roy and Philipp). This also included extended patrols onto target, gathering intelligence and using that to plan and carry out strikes and escape routes and everything inbetween.

with Hermes and TF Hotel Sierra

We are really looking forward to the next event hosted by those guys!

S23: Now, you and the rest of Trident run some very specific gears and kits bespoke to your role, can you talk us through the alterations and modifications you’ve made to your gears as EOD personnel?

Trident and Sky One on Maritime duties …

T03:It wasn’t too easy finding out exactly what gear the EOD personnel carry around. We came down to a mix of what we think they use, what’s natural for them to use and pick out the things we actually can use and might have need for since, after this is Airsoft.

So, the basics all three of us carry around are wire-strippers, cutting-pliers, small screwdrivers, mirrors and such.

Beyond that we have explosives, detonators, an inspection-camera, drill and a metal-detector. Oh, and we bought a dedicated ‘Airsoft’ EOD vehicle (laughs)  and with that gear we just kick back and wait for our jam to come on.

Tridents EOD Truck

For Those interested, there is a video on our Facebook page, showing us blowing up the SAM site from that very event, OP GardenCentre this summer.

S23: … and course, it’s always great to talk blasters, I assume you also run the Marui NGRS series, recently completing a finished build to your usual high standards?

T03: That’s correct, mine is currently a WIP – but during the winter I think It’s going to finally take form. We base and build the MK18 Block II on the Marui M4CQB-R.

Blasters !!!

As H87 said, the recoil puts a little more fun in to it, and the working bolt catch is also a nice detail.

The reliability of the Marui is outstanding, it’s like an old Volvo. It runs forever as long as you don’t open it and do stupid sh*t to it!

S23: I can assume, as H87 explained running the same platforms and munitions across the Task Force only serves to better interoperability amongst team members?
T03: As a team that big, we can’t have room for too much mix and match, if you run out of ammo, you can’t be crawling around asking for bob who has mags that fit your rifle, and like H87 said: you can grab your buddies rifle and still get back in fight.

S23: … Really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of RS mag counts – 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses?
T03: The pleasure is mine, thank you for showing the interest in us. I would love to see more using RS mag counts, at 90% of MilSim events I run through two maybe a maximum of three magazines. With less ammo you would be forced to be smarter in the field and really make your shots count. Also, I could change magazines more often, like you would in a real situation – T03

A huge thank you to T03 from Trident EOD especially as he knocked this interview around in double time, you can keep up with their exploits at the links below – S23

Trident EOD Facebook:

Trident EOD Instagram:

Task Force Exorbitantance Facebook:


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Balance The Odds – an interview with Hestehovkompaniet’ (HHK) H87

Balance The Odds – an interview with Hestehovkompaniet’ (HHK) H87

I rememberI when Rich over at the Reptile House Blog published his series on Task Force Exorbitantance I simply exclaimed ‘f**k, when are we moving to Norway‘ – I’d long been a fan of HHK (Hestehovkompaniet) but the Reptile House’ series covering HHK and the rest of the Task Force was truly compelling stuff. Including not only HHK, but Hermes, Trident, Sky and Arquebus was not only comprehensive but delved deep into the immersive world of RealSim and what it can truly be when its potential is realized.

Well, opportunity fatefully shined on us when H87 from HHK kindly permitted us an interview to get a more personable insight behind the scenes of one of Norways finest – read on …

S23: Welcome aboard and thank you, I’ve been long awaiting an opportunity to do something on the blog, as a long time admirer of you and the teams work, and subsequently the Task Force. I was thrilled with the series which featured a while back on The ReptileHouse blog – so hopefully in some respects this will serve well in part as a sequel and an accompanying ongoing series. Anyhow, on to business, lets wind it right back to the beginning how’d you get started with Plastic Deth (Airsoft)
H87: I originally started looking into Airsoft Guns when I was in my early teens. Back then, video cameras were getting cheaper, and we, like most kids our age, were making short movies simply for our own entertainment. As I’m sure we all can agree, most good movies include plenty of guns, and so we started buying the cheapest replicas we could find.

After a while, the replicas got more and more expensive, until I stopped using s***y movies as an excuse to make movies and just started buying guns because I love guns.

Soon after that, I found out that there was a whole new hobby to be explored, and here we are.

S23: Subsequently, how did your earliest adventures with Plastic Deth drive you to explore more accurate, researched and developed kits and blasters ?
H87: My first few years weren’t all that accurate, to be fair. I just mixed whatever I thought looked good! In hindsight – it didn’t!

H87’s blaster top and HHK team mate, H51 below

After a while, a more seasoned player started an SAS-ish themed team, and I got aboard. That was probably my first taste of impressions – not all serious, and lots were just done because we wanted to do it, but at least there were a few reference photos one could look at and see a resemblance to what we did.

HHK pop smoke as they guide in the teams drone …

S23: Can you talk us through your current load out, whilst I know you spend and incredible amount of time researching material to inform your load outs assembly, how much of it based on personal preference based on what does or doesn’t work ?
H87: My current loadout is built as a mix between HSLD and comfortable solutions, and somewhere inbetween realistic, plausible and “I do what I want!”

We used to do hours and hours of research into what real operators would use, and there’s still quite a bit of excitement whenever new photos of CAG is released, but as the guys on the team have grown older, we’ve laxed our rigorous standards quite a lot. It’s more important to us that we all enjoy the games and get together than how 1:1 we are.

Still, we try to maintain a certain standard, we want to look cohesive and be believeable as a deltaunit – there won’t be G36’s and K98 Sniper rifles  anytime soon (laughs)

S23: There’s been a drift away from detailed and accurate load outs, and perhaps in part it’s the path of least resistance but participants in both MilSim and RealSim extrapolate their own interpretations of gears based on particular units. Is this departure a loss to the historical side of gear collecting or perhaps a healthy sign that players are becoming perhaps more ‘self aware’ when assembling gears ?

H87: I actually think it’s a good thing to think a bit outside the box, at least to some extent.

While I love to see people post picture perfect impressions, all the way down to out of production pouches and the correct chemlights, there’s just too many reasons to customize your kit to your own preference. A full blown direct action kit would look out of place on a recon mission in the forest, but with slight adjustments, you could make it functional.

Ditch your helmet, beltgear and extra pouches, and don a backpack instead, and maybe your kit works like a charm in a recon-role.

The historical side of it is probably well preserved as well, as most of the guys with the knowledge and experience to customize their kits probably have done lots and lots of research to get to where they feel comfortable enough to think outside the box. Also, real operators obviously make changes to make them more efficient, so why shouldn’t we?

S23: Talk us through your current blasters, what’s the mindset behind their set up, I understand you all use the same proprietary platform to allow interchangeability of magazines ?

H87: We’ve been running the Marui 416 since it was released. It’s just a great platform for us, shoots great out of the box, and lasts “forever” if you’re not doing stupid s**t to it.

The slight recoil in it is also funny. All the teams in Task Force Exorbitance use it, and most of us run .25 BBs to allow perfect magazine interchangeability.
I remember once during Berget 15, we were hanging off the back of one of our cars, returning to base after a mission.

For some reason, both me and Joe had our guns in the back of the car, and not on us. Suddenly, we took contact from the front! The car stopped, we both dismounted, and the guys in the back tossed us our rifles. I got Joes, and he got mine.

We didn’t hesitate, and both started running the others gun. The contact lasted, and we got separated, but since we both ran the same mags and BBs, and had dialed our optics, there were no worries. It was a nice change – I got an hour with a short barrel and a T1, he got the long barrel and an EXPS3.

On the rifles, all of us run an unmagnified optic, some of us also run magnifiers behind them, just to observe further if needed.

We all have Surefire M600 Ultras, to truly show our opposition what they mean when they talk about the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

There’s also PEQ15’s, which by law have to have the laser removed. If the laser were somehow operational, however, there would probably be a mix of modified replica infrared lasers for use with NOD’s, along with a few real steel IR ones.

S23: Quite possibly, in part due to Norway’s climate, how much training and preparation do you, and the team put in advance of events ?
H87: We used to do quite a lot! We had regular drills during the week, and access to both buildings and makeshift “killhouses”, which we’d use as often as possible.

We studied close quarter shooting techniques, read a lot, discussed a lot, and drilled a lot.

After a while, we got quite competent at urban scenarios, and relaxed our training regime somewhat, focusing instead on how to perform well in reconnaisance and effective communication in outdoorsettings.

Nowadays, we’re getting older, and mostly trying to maintain what we know. We’re also trying our best to stay somewhat fit, to be able to catch up to all the younger guys joining Task Force Exorbitance! Still, none of the guys in HHK or TF Exo are ever the first to complain if the terraingets steep or we have to carry heavy shit, so I guess we’re not lazy speedballers just yet.

S23: To operate and participate both safely and effectively, what’s essential in the kit bag, and mandatory in the gear locker at such events ?
H87: Our Oakley M-frames is the obvious answer, but maybe it’s too obvious?

Communications is also important, both in regards to safety and efficiency. A team using radios will always be more efficient, and have plenty more options available in their toolbox. Also, should s**t hit the fan and you somehow end up alone in a ditch with a broken leg, radio communications will be key!

If you expect a lot of downtime, and have the ability to pack it, both a poncho and the poncholiner, woobie, is great to have.

When it starts to rain or snow, you’ll be pretty stoked you have that poncho, and when you’re stuck under a tree observing the enemy camp for eight hours, you will regret not bringing the woobie.

S23: Has your prior service with the Norwegian Military provided a good foundation to build not only your own pastime on, but the teams as well ?

H87: Yes, most definitely!

Most of us have served in the Norwegian army, and things we’ve understood foreign teams might struggle with is pretty much second nature to many norwegians, due to having spent a year learning thing like maps, comms and movement, as well as spending lots of time in nature and on the mountains.

H77 – Moons Out …

: What’s your specific role with HHK ?
H87: I used to be both team leader and medic, until we got H70 aboard, who really is a fantastic natural leader.

Then I was the medic for a few years, until we founded Task ForceExorbitance and Hermes MedicalTeam started joining us.

I’m still the team medic in case Hermes ain’t around, but when they are, I try to boost the team by running a Mk46.

Suppressive fire is my jam – I have poor eyesight and often forget my lenses, so firing in the general direction of opposition suits me just fine! (laughs)

S23: I take you all have the ability to interchange roles, be it due to absence or as workload dictates at an event ?
H87: Yes; we have a hierarchy in place should anybody not be able to come to an event, or need to respawn or whatever.

We all use each others guns pretty freely as well, so I could give swap my Mk46 with somebodys HK416 and start doing the ol’ medic-routine should need be.

Should I fall, I fully expect somebody to pick up the MG and keep suppressing the opposition.

Special thanks and photo credit to Roar Stene

S23: Now, I’ve observed a fantastic and growing collection of footage, photographs and documenting the teams adventures so far, often attending events in less than hospitable conditions, does it sometimes prove to be frustrating that Norway’s climate dictates to a degree your load outs ?

H87: YES! So much yes!

We see people Stateside pack for a 48hr wintertime milsim in tiny backpacks, which frustrates the f**k out of us!

If we want to go to a winter MilSim and expect to sleep outside, we have to pack a giant -20C (-4f) sleeping bag, wool underwear, extra wool socks, mitts, you name it.

It feels as if we need giant expedition packs if we want to stay utside for more than a few hours! We definately envy the American “winter” on occasion.

H42 snow bound …

however, you don’t get the sweet icecold snowy as f**k winter MilSim’s though. They’re actually kinda cool, no pun intended.

S23: That aside, after all these years, what’s still enjoyable and rewarding assembling kits and gears ?
H87: Rare pieces are still awesome, and new and innovative stuff is always cool.

Older gear is also getting more and more cool – I guess we all miss the gear that was hot and expensive when we first started playing!

Nowadays, the most rewarding thing is actually helping new guys along – breeding the next generation of geardos!

There’s a lot of guys out there showing a lot of promise, so let’s see what new teams suddenly joins TaskForce Exorbitance!

S23: So, what next for you and HHK – any new developments to your current kit lists, training work ups for upcoming events ?
H87: We have something special planned for an upcoming game, it’s not a complete game changer, but it’ll definitely look quite different than we do right now.

But no spoilers! There might also be new teams joining TF Exo, so stay tuned!

S23: What essential advice would you offer to those starting out to develop more immersive gears and kits, and perhaps items that you’d consider invaluable or a priority for more immersive and demanding events ?
H87: Actively seek out the advice of people you know have built kits like the ones you’re looking at building. Find a friend that also wants the same as you, and help eachother grow. At events, think “is this what they would’ve done?”, and if it isn’t, don’t do it! Don’t do the things that’d give you a one way ticket to heaven in real life.

Don’t just seek out the action, do your mission in an effective way, and people will notice. That way, you’ll get cooler missions, and cooler friends.
And for the love of god, invest in a decent backpack for those sweet MilSim, don’t be the guy with the s***y ranger green Maxpedition replica!

S23: Before we part out, HHK has been built on a longstanding ability to coexist and the interoperability of team members, what’s the secret to success and the teams cohesion and longevity?
H87: Our not-so-secret secret is that we’re not just Airsofter’s that shoot BBs together. We’re friends first and foremost, and that’s what makes it hard to join our team – you have to join our awesome bunch of friends first! We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which makes us stronger in the field. We know when the others will break, and we know where they will excel, and we can plan accordingly.
And there’s been lots and lot’s of s***y liquors, which has probably helped everything a lot. (laughs)

S23: From an insiders perspective what’s life like within such a close knit team of friends ?
H87: It’s honestly pretty great.

We’ve made friends for life, and we’ve all learned a great deal about each other.

Any disputes we may have, we air out pretty quickly, so they never get to grow out of proportion.

Again, the s***y liquor has probably helped. (more laughs)

S23: You’ve recently expanded the team, forming the collective, much to global admiration to include under Task Force Exorbitantance – such elements as Reconnaissance (Sky) EOD (Trident) Medics (Hermes) and Communications/TACP (Arquebus) how has this expanded the teams ability, options now at your disposal and approach to events – the possibilities must be endless ?
H87: The Task Force has really opened up a lot of new possibilities.

While we’re all able to do a bit of everything, we’ve all been able to specialize in our respective fields, knowing full well that there’s another team there to take up the slack. I don’t need to be a master of comms, because everything outside of my own team is handled by Arquebus. We don’t need to take guys off of door kicking duty to recon the area – Sky One have our backs!

And when shit hits the fan, and all of HHKs medics get shot to pieces while breaching through the door that Trident blew up, we know that Hermes is right behind us ready to patch us back up.

It’s easier to split up our groups, as we can still get a complete and functional unit with all of our capabilities, we don’t have to send the medic this way and our “engineer” the other way, there are plenty of personnel to go round, and we’re able to attack an objective in more creative ways because of it.

S23: … Really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of RS mag counts – 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses?

H87: In TF Exo and HHK, we strive for realism. We prefer to fire on semi auto, and would love it if our opposition did the same. RealCap’s is a great way to make sure everybody is making their shots count. I’m all for it!
… huge thanks to H87 for the incredible interview, as I’m sure you want to you can keep up with all their exploits right here at the links below – S23

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Maladjusted – an interview with A02 & A03 from The Alpha Group

Maladjusted – an interview with A02 & A03 from The Alpha Group

 … introductions, always a painful chore to endure – possibly as much as it is for me to write em’ as much as it is for you to read em’ – right ?
Just kidding, I’m sure you’ll bear with me, as I set the scene once again for our latest interview.

Sure I’m prone to hyperbole, and as such I’m an excitable sort who often enthuses over whatever chosen subject matter I’ve chosen to focus upon.
Still, I’m no less proud to introduce you all to these two long standing ‘stalwarts’ and for the better part stoic champions of the ever changing land scape scene here, in the United Kingdom.
I’m sure we’ll clarify the finer points of evolution and metamorphosis into their current incarnation and establish a little more about their mysterious history.
But, before we do so – as one of the interviewees ably and succinctly clarified that ‘ … bear in mind that this team is an amalgamation of a lot of experience over the years and has fused together with the ideals and attitude of previous teams. 
We’re not elitist, nor are we the best out there, but we give it our all and conduct ourselves to a very high standard, and we are going to bring something new to the table …’

I think, this in essence serves quite possibly the most honest and true introductions I could wish for, particularly as these are a group I look up, as when I started out, nearly a decade ago – they’d already been cutting around the UK for some time – give a warm welcome to A02 and A03 from Alpha Group.

: Hey guys, thanks for taking time out to sit down with us for an interview – and, I know only too well you prefer to eschew the ‘populist’ vote and limelight thrust up teams preferring your in game conduct to speak for itself, but nonetheless I’m proud to get you on here.
So, just to set the scene – how did you both take up ‘Plastic Deth‘ and what can you tell us about the origins of ‘The Alpha Group‘ ?

: I played around with Airsoft a few years ago, then the nature of my work at the time meant I had to take an enforced break. Came back into the fold over 3 years ago, when my cousin, A01, and I chatted. As ex forces like he is, we got together on a few games and sub ops and with A03, we banged heads, put some ideas on the table, and here we are in 2017 doing our thing. Collectively, the team as a whole is experienced both in real steel and Airsoft genres going back many a year, and this is constantly evolving and developing as we bring in new ideas, new players to the team, and the training and organisation it takes to get us all out there. The origins of Alpha Group came from Tier 1, who you know, were one of the leaders in the MilSim scene. However, we are in no way resting on the Tier 1 laurels, but getting out there as a separate identity. I’d like to give a shout out to DC Evans from Contact Front who we have collaborated with recently on ideas and past and a few unique endeavours in the pipeline. Watch this space. 

A03: On a personal note, I got introduced to the world of airsoft back in 2010 after a chatting with then a mutual friend and a BBQ now a firm brother Kiero who played as part of the Dark Angels. We got chatting BB guns and he told me you could get these things that’s took batteries and sling Plastic Deth like it was going out of fashion. Up until then I had a couple of springers that my dad had got me from the model shop back when I was 13!

Got invited along to some skirmish fun back in the day at the academy in Lewisham run by Andy from FCS and I’m not going to lie the bug hit me.
Straight on from the that rolled out with Kiero and the DA’s at the mall for some CQB action meeting Lex, Mark, Basho Siwa and Usif to name a few and got invited to step into their family over a post-game Nando’s that’s day is still great memory and a honour that opened up a whole new world or Plastic Deth for me. We rocked out as a team at BattleSim and MilSim games run by Town Assault at Sennybridge, Stirling games at Catterick and then hit up some training offered by Tier1 military simulations. This basically took me from a humble unskilled skirmisher to a full blown MilSim crack whore.
I got involved heavily with Tier1 again had the great honour of being asked into their growing family after a memorable weekend attending a low-key sub op. Never has not firing a single round ever been so immersive and of the chain. I’m pretty sure all who attended would say the same. Ed and the rest of the T1 family was an awesome movement to be part of. We pushed boundaries and had a great blend of skills within our ranks from all different backgrounds. 

Tier1 exposed me to many different guys and girls from the milsim scene and I got to make many friends from all over the world.
Fast forward to T1 slipping into the shadows for some much-needed R&R and a few of the guys kept hitting games for shits and giggles as well as running some very low key rural and urban training sessions lead by our very own grumpmeister A01 the main man with the knowledge. From this the Alpha Group grew organically with the aim of likeminded guys who all have a great attitudes and mind set hitting games together. Regardless of skills within the team we all strive to improve, put real world tactics into practice where it’s transferable to the event but mainly have a laugh whilst doing it. Serious faces on the field and s**ts and giggles off.


: Now, I’ve quietly followed – or was struck by the teams earlier ‘incarnation’ – ironically becoming very good friends with one of its former members through work (o has to put with him daily – laughs) but, seriously it’s evolution into its current long-standing iteration has garnered my interest f’sure. It’s surely a subtle combination of real steel experience and know-how from both the real world and from ‘the field’ through Plastic Deth. What’s the driving ethos behind The Alpha Group?

: the ethos has never wavered from our earlier incarnations, and that is having a correct outlook and attitude, marrying that with having a bit of fun, which Airsoft should be at the end of the day.


: yeah, we are a right mixed bag of guys. Out of the current 15 lads that are dipping in and out when work/time being in country allows 3 of us started with the DA’s back in the day, 8 off us were heavily involved with T1 and that’s has defiantly helped mould us in our current incarnation as the Alpha Group. As we stand now we have guys with experience from real world operations, both old school and bang up to date operations. We have carpenters, chefs, lighting techs and rail operators amongst our ranks to name just few civilian trades. This balance for military and civilian backgrounds blended with our just crack on and get the job done attitude drives us forward. 

Attitude is key, skills and gear can be worked on but attitude has to be right from the get go. No fuss just have a laugh and get the job done whatever that may be.


: Guns and Gear – always a welcome subject amongst our readers. In particular I’ve enjoyed extensive phone conversations with A03 about tweaking and even abstracting philosophies on the traditional load out. In particular, as hard as it has been for me to do so, I’m continually evolving and streamlining gears to produce something functionally practical.
What’s your take on this, what’s the key driving rule which inspires what I see has a healthy blend of UK inspired practicality which serendipitously in form produces something very SF in appearance?

: If there’s one thing that I can quite happily say and that is very simply: “Adapt to overcome”. We are constantly tweaking our kit to suit the environment we’re in. Not major tweaks, as all of our essential kit is in the same place (med kits etc) but as a team, we don’t stick to being full Multicam all of the time. 

We’re quite happy sticking on a Gorka suit, picking up a PKM and chest rig or going minimal with an AK and the classic football t-shirt and a spare magazine in the trouser pocket. That way, we can hone our skills outside of the normal good guy/bad guy sphere and see it from both sides, and either do the usual recce and doorkicking stuff, or harass and bang a few rounds down before running away, shouting “Aloha Snack Bar!”


: I guess the key driving rule within all of us is use what works and gets the job done. Like 02 says we adapt and overcome. It’s not all about Gucci gear and looking cool it’s about getting the job done, although If we look badass doing it then that’s a bonus!

In terms of gear A01 teaches the rule of 3. If you pack it 3 times and never use it then leave it behind.


: I’m all too aware, from my current and former members – you’ve a can do attitude, regardless of it being training, attending a skirmish to hone and tune those skills or putting them to good use in the field on an extended more immersive MilSim – what essentials do you always keep to hand ?

: combat coffee flask! Always had one from my real steel days. Morale boosting snacks are always secreted in a pocket, along with a notepad   and a pencil.
As far as kit goes, we are pretty much squared away with what we use on a personal basis, and we have quite a lot of kit in our stores that we can dip in and out of. With regards to any milsim we do, we always double check who has what and where, and spread that load evenly amongst those team members present.  

: combat coffee and combat crack (biltong/jerky) is my own personal little moral boaster. As for gear the one thing that always comes with me on MilSim weekenders is my softie jacket Cheap as chips from eBay, warm, lightweight and just works. 

Good boots and a good Bergen is essential as well. As you know I love gear and am always tinkering to get the best setup for whatever environment I’m playing in. I think we are all the same.
For the most part, we all seem to RRV type chest rig setups or webbing for rural and stripped back armour carriers for urban ops seem to be the guys choices.
As for camo, well that’s depending on role and environment. Although our current go to camo has become Multicam Tropic based on the fact that at the beginning we were hitting a lot of rural games and rural training. 


: Recently A02 reached out to us, and kindly cheered on the positive attitude the blog has towards all genres of Plastic Deth – as well as our enthusiasm for the more immersive side of AirsoftMilSim‘ – what is perhaps missed by perhaps more recent entrants to the MilSim community and Airsoft perhaps in general?

: And I’ll stick with what I said, all the kit and holier than thou attitude will not get you anywhere, either in Airsoft or in real life. At the end of the day, if you want to wear x, and use y, go for it. I’d rather see a player enjoying themselves, than worry that they don’t fit in, so wear and use what feels right. Too many barriers are being erected by so called “experts” and personalities, some of which are definitely all the gear no idea, and that in itself is degrading the whole ethos of what this concept of a sport is. 

Remember, we all turn up to a Skirmish or a MilSim and fire BB’s at each other then go home at the end of the day. 

: I echo what 02 is saying, it’s all about getting everyone involved regardless of background or plastic death preference. At the end of the day it does not matter if you are playing high end MilSim of quick ball skirmish we are all grown ass boys and girls playing Cowboys and Indians. 

The pastime has always had undertones of elitism and snobbery to some extent but for the most part I love the fact you can rock up to most events and have some good banter get your gun off and finish your experience with a smile on your face. 


: The Alpha Group draws upon a broad collective of individuals, who not only have a wealth of experience both from the real world, individually and just as invaluable – from years of playing Airsoft – be ‘Plastic Deth‘ or MilSim. What does this give the team, in terms of capability, and as team who clearly all read from the same page, what are your expectations, personally and attitude towards what you want to draw from an event?

: That’s a good question. I think that it’s because of our collective understanding and capabilities, that we can go into an event and just get on with it, and usually with the least fuss, whether it be slow recce or full on doorkicking. On that note, we are not out there as a just “The Alpha Group” and we have teamed up with some superb teams out there, such as TF Spear, Gray Fox and our Dutch cousins from The Orange Element to get fully immersed into the event and “crack on!”

: As a team, we are just as happy not firing a shot and getting the objectives done. And happy to spend the time working hard to not be seen.
But once it’s time to lay the smack down, we are all in balls deep. 0-100mph at the drop of a hat if the situation dictates it.
Violence of action and winning the fire fight is important but so is also knowing when and which fights to pick.

: We’ve seen some huge changes to the scene here in the UK – event organizers have come and gone, some even are possibly due to return …
Some have stoically weathered, at best, the tempestuous storm – such as Stirling and we’ve some exciting new comers recently arriving. But, after all this time what keeps you going, coming back for more and as enthused about it all?

: Having a great bunch of lads around me, who are able and willing to put that extra mile in, with a cheeky bit of banter and love for the sport is what does it for me, and its essential to keep those spirits up. 

: I love the Immersive nature and challenge of hard, wet tiring milsim events taking me outside my comfort zone and pushing me to dig deep and solider on. Which is about as far away from my day job as possible. 

A lot of enjoyment for me goes hand in hand with the lads you roll out with at any given event.
The banter, piss taking and down time with the lads at all events help bond you as a team, galvanise your resolve to get the job done and not let your buddy’s down. 

: Before we part out with trade mark question, we’ve not put this out to interviewees for a while – any particular stories or tales or ‘derring do’ you care to share, I know you’ve attended and partook in some particularly stunning events, often in inclement weather or austere conditions to say the least?

: Far too many to mention, but one of my favourite fun moments was during a weekend at STANTA. Myself and A04 were in a rural hide, doing what we do best (no, not sleeping!) when we had a contact happen right on our heads between the OpFor and the local police. they were so close, that when one on the police died and lay down, he was almost lying on him! A couple of hours later, when it was getting dark, I had to leave the hide to go to a prearranged dead letter box position to collect an item we needed. 

After crawling there and lying up there for a few minutes, as it was a fairly risky thing to do, I was very surprised when an opfor patrol walked over me, and I mean over me! Walked on my back, arm and my L119a1 without noticing. And that is the power of a decent well prepped ghillie suit kids! Oh how I laughed after! Not real laughs as it would have given our position away, but I wrote it down for A04 after.

: crikey there have been some awesome moments over my time in the sport. We are still building up as the Alpha Group  slowly with some great mini ops under our belts but I think I’ve got to hark back to maybe my T1 days for some of the most amazing experience to date. 
Getting lifted at a cheeky sub up was as strange as it sounds a stand out moment for me. Being put through the mill by the OpFor and mentally tested to my limits during interrogations really got my juices flowing. 

Wendigo 2 Arctic OP
with some of the finest guys I know was also a different level of challenge. 48hrs of proper hard graft followed by the reward of BBQ, beers, hot tubs and ice plunges in frozen lakes takes a lot of beating. 


: … Really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses? 

: 30 round mags all the way for me. It feels natural to me, and keeps that mind eye on ammo conservation. It also develops the team as a whole, in terms of how we fire and manoeuvre, without getting bogged down in endless firefights. It’s a sight to behold haha! 

: Love me a low/real cap and for MilSim that’s what I run for the most part. It forces you to think about your targets and if you need to engage head on or suppress and flank. We do love a bit of flanking action. 
Normally up the ammo count for a Sunday skirmish but keep the combat maracas behind. That’s what we have A04 and his LMG’s for.

… Life is Good – A02 & A03

Huge thanks to A02 & A03 from the Alpha Group, keep up with their exploits right here – S23

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Invaders Must Die – Stirling’s Op Darkfire AAR with DJ Richie Cee

DJ at The Ai500’s ‘Op Lockdown’
Early last year, not only interviewing The Rejected Lens, we also brought on longstanding team mate and MilSim enthusiast DJ Richie Cee
I’d followed DJ’s exploits for some years, always impressed with his personable and contemporary takes on modern impressions, delivering his own personable take on load outs.
Not only brimming with functionality, these are often attacked with style too, making all the more for visually appealing sets ups.

and I eventually befriended each other, with my modicum of limited knowledge, when I helped him, albeit most likely temporarily unf**k his comm’s system – shortly thereafter he and Mike Zero Nine jumped onboard with last years Ai500. Despite being accustomed to more technically immersive MilSim’s – the along with another stellar TF Viper gave it their all, and really threw down and gave it 110% at this large scale CQBBattle Sim‘ – showing, despite their experience and history with MilSim that they are both more than happy to get in the mix … 

Likewise, mutual friends such a Mike Zero Nine and other longstanding stalwarts of both the gear, kit, MilSim and Airsoft scene have not only contributed and supported the blog but have regularly reached out to either talk about blasters, gear or new kit they’ve acquired – or in this instance events they’ve recently attended.

5-2 at Stirling’s Op Darkfire

DJ, Mike and a few other familiar faces went along to Stirling’s latest 36 Hr MilSimOp Darkfire

: DJ – thanks for coming aboard, to make for a slightly different interview I’ll let you set the scene – where was Op Darkfire held, and what was your role as an attending team of players ?

: Thanks for having me along once again. OP Darkfire was originally set to take place at Caerwent training area but believe it got bumped to Catterick last minute due to operational requirements. We had a real bunch of misfits this time round all rolled into one callsign. Due to my dual comms set up it made sense for me to go as RO (Radio operator). 

: So, how many of you made up the collective which formed call sign 5-2 ?
I gather you’ve been regularly playing with this loosely gathered collective for a while now, I certainly noticed you’ve become quite slick with frequent training, events and skirmishes you’ve attended, including The Mall … 

Any intentions to solidify this ‘supergroup’ into a more permanent fixture, dare I say even, team ?

: We had long standing members from Blackhawk Rangers, one from Tribe MilSim, myself and MikeZero One Nine, the other two guys here, this was they’re first ever MilSim and another two other guys who we had not rolled with before this OP. So was definitley going to make for an interesting OP from the get go.

… ready room …
… we have hit up a few events/skirmishes over the past six months or so with various people attending what they could as well as putting the time in to training and events solo within each individuals local area. There is such a wide variety of personality (and age) within the GGC2K17 clan but when we roll out together it just clicks. 

Everyone has their certain niche and skill set to bring to the table but always with the utmost fun and camaraderie as possible. In all honesty I’ve been part of various teams throughout my time playing and in my experience the minute you put a patch on it and solidify that group of people as a team thats when things come apart at the seams. So right now I think its all about friends getting together when they can be racking up the ‘body count’ wherever we step foot and hitting town for beers and medals after …

S23: Kit bag, what’s the preparation and essential kit list for you, on a 36 Hr event such as Darkfire, naturally Blasters and LBE – but what contingencies are you thinking about ?

: We were very lucky in the fact that operating as Blue Force at Catterick we were stationed from the admin block, so no hard routine/basha/bivvi required. This event was heavily based around Hostage Rescue and Intel gathering in an OBUA (Operations in Built Up Areas) enviroment. Weeks prior we were all busy conversing on the group chat with each team member carrying a mission specific piece of kit …

Bolt cutters were a must, sledge hammers and Halligan bars all must be divided up as well as SSE (Sensitive Site Exploitation) equipment clear plastic bags/note pads/pocket cameras. We also made sure we had two support guns within our section as you need that fire support/suppression when pouring guys into a building …

S23: Now, years of experience under your belt, but what lessons did you extrapolate from this deployment – what worked, what didn’t ?

: Considering we had so many variables entering this OP, I feel we either got lucky or we were very well prepared as every mission we stepped out on we managed to achieve with little or no failure. Night Ops had head counts at regular intervals, TL and 2IC’s were always on point delivering the mission intel and making sure everyone was where they needed to be and knowing exactly what they were doing. Def one of the most successful OPs overall to date. 

(Op Darkfire Footage courtesy of Wigs Pushed Back)

: I always ask, as it’s turned up some cool ideas or things I’d missed or not thought about, what’s the one essential you can’t do without on a large 36 Hr MilSim ?

: Yeah always a question of much debate …

 I’ll bend the rules a little and give you two. Water is by far the most neglected piece of equipment by new and seasoned players alike. One small 500ml bottle in a cargo pocket can make all the difference when its 04:00 and you think you’re about to head back to re-sup – but you get re tasked to push on and breach two more buildings. I would also say my helmet light has been my savour time and time again. It has low level red and green LED for when you need to change a gun battery or some other admin but dont want to give your postion away. Also has white light for conduction SSE when being secret squirrel is not so important. But also has an IR light for use with NV when light discipline is a must.

: Now, whilst we enthuse about gear and kit – I’m sure all our readers really want to hear about the action. Of course, MilSim’s vary in tempo, tone and ultimately gun play can be virtually minimal to ferociously intense, what have you got to report, any cool guy AAR moments to share ?

: This was in comparrison quite a high tempo event. Every raid or search that was carried out lead to more intel being actioned upon. So teams were constantly rolling out wether it be a single call sign or multiple call signs doing a multi point breaches on a building. A good example or this was our call sign 5-2 were tasked with clearing and conducting an SSE sweep of a three storey building building 29. We pushed out single file around 01.30 Hrs Sunday morning, support gunners front and rear of the section. 5-2 took a wide berth to go as undetected as possible, guys without NV along with LMG gunners took up a cordon positions around building 29 while the rest of the call sign using NV swept the building one deck at a time. 

Happy the building was clear of all hostile activity, SSE searches where carried out. Various IED making equipment was found along with the vital piece of Intel we were after. 

As SSE was wrapping up and comms back to zero was underway updating our situation, a member of 5-2 on the third floor got eyes on a hostile roaming  three man patrol entering the compound of building 29. With no option but to engage the hostiles at a safe distance before they could enter the building we then quickly consolidated the callsign at the ground floor where we broke contact manouvered through two more buildings where we went silent till we were happy we were no longer being pursued. As  it was vital we got this piece of intel back to zero as it could be time sensitive. Us gathering this piece of intel was vital because once passed up through the command chain where zero could processes the information, This would then lead to the possible whereabouts of a HVT. Around 03:30 Hrs three callsigns were finishing up plans to enter a series of terraced houses known as the “hotel”. Slowly and silently 5-2 along with another callsign entered the building from both ends …

 With the  ground floor cleared without a shot being fired we moved to the second floor. On our way up to the second floor we could hear snoring from several rooms. (this was a good sign) After killing and identifying several members of OpFor in their beds with no sign of the HVT, contact was heard from the next room. After a very brief fire fight all hostiles were down and the HVT was in our custody, we then extracted to the next building where two Snatch Land Rovers and the Saracen APC was waiting. Ten minutes later all callsigns were accounted for back at the patrol base along with a very unhappy HVT. This for me was one of the highlights of the weekend. Teamwork, not just in the same callsign but across the whole blue force along with clear succinct comms and thorough SSE allowed for precise timed strikes getting the results needed. 

S23: So, from what I’ve heard from you and others, it was another superb turn from Stirling, what really made the event for you ?
DJ: As you well know I have played at and been part of (what I would consider) some of the best MilSim events around, however time after time Stirling always maintain the bar, they’re briefs and storylines are always immersive and the work the teams do out on the ground directly impact how the event pans out, they really give you the tools to make the OP succeed or not. This event for me was made infintley immersive when we used EMOE ‘explosive method of entry’ to breach a door. Three callsigns were tasked to make a simultaneous breach two with explosives one with breaching tools. It was down to the teams to organsie the breach between them so the pressure was really on to get it right. All teams stacked on the target building, with hand primers wired we were set to breach when two out of three breaching teams started taking fire. Sh*t really hit the fan! But again this is not a staged breach with ofpor there as cannon fodder, these guys do not want us entering thier house and theyre not afraid to let us know! This is where I feel the true MilSim players shine, everyone kept they’re cool and both teams rallied …

using each others medics to get everyone back in the fight, the breach was back on. BOOM … with dust and bits of door everywhere each team went. So many highlights to this event but being given the oppertunity to make an explosive entry just goes to show how far the guys at Stirling want to push things for thier customers. 
S23: Before we let you go, you always keep coming back for more – what keeps it all new, exciting on the MilSim scene ?

:  I would say along with other long time serving MilSim players I have been very fortunate to do some really cool stuff. Helicopter missions, being inserted into the AO at night via boat, EMOE, plain clothed surveilance. More often than not its the people that you do the MilSims with that make or break an event. If you feel the guys havent got your back or you dont gel then it just isn’t  going to work. So heading to events with different people is great, everyone has something different to bring to the table. Also im a bit of a gear whore, not to be confused with brand whore. Doesnt have to be expensive but I’m always keen to be the first to field innovative kit, especially if it will give me a combatative edge.

Huge thanks to DJ for the incredible write up – keep an eye for more events from Stirling here:


Head on over to and gear up at and show your #ogpunkrockhardcoreplasticdeth #s23familia pride …

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My Own Way of Life – An interview with MilSim Wests Joshua Warren

My Own Way of Life – An interview with MilSim Wests Joshua Warren

Joshua Warren, a name synonymous with MilSim West, possibly one of the most innovative and immersive MilSim event organizers Stateside right now.

If you’ve not attended one of their events yet, if your Stateside, or not been following their exploits as reported on line your really, quite frankly missing out. It’s in my opinion, as a humble observer, they’ve really taken the whole MilSim ethos, smashed it to pieces and for the better rebuilt in their own image.

Designed by players for players, bolstered by years and years of real steel experience – they’ve actively built upon their success to produce an ever evolving series of immersive and highly realistic free flowing events to form an interconnecting series steeped in immersion and realism.

Joshua is surely passionate, hard work and aggressively forth right in his vision to deliver innovation and drive MilSim forward onto bigger and better things.

Whilst this has perhaps attracted its fair share of criticism and derision, unsurprisingly from competitors. His candor and general integrity has seen him stand tall, and much to their displeasure call it as he see it.
Whilst generally an unassuming humble soul, he’s not been afraid to make the hard decision, be brave and push MSW ever forward he neither unnecessarily rests on his laurels or his past achievements. Unsurprising, as this is second nature to this former 75th Ranger – as they say ‘Sua Sponte‘ …

Read on as we’ve been graciously afforded the opportunity to talk with Joshua, about MSW, gear and blasters, and the future ….

S23: Hey bro, welcome aboard and a huge thank you for taking time out to sit down with us for an interview. Now, I’m aware you have had a rather illustrious former career, serving amongst the United States premier light infantry, specialist operations unit, the 75th Ranger Regiment. I can only imagine, it’s a truly life defining experience, one which continues to pursue endeavors today with drive, ambition and excellence. Tell us a little of your time in the 75th, and perhaps how that’s shaped for the better how you pursue your current endeavors and projects ?
JW: Well I wouldn’t call it illustrious. I had a pretty standard junior enlisted guy career in C company 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment. The battalion was and still is based at Fort Lewis, WA although it’s now called  Joint Base Lewis-McChord. I enlisted in the Army in January of 2001 with an 11X option-40 contract . After finishing Infantry one unit station training and Airborne school I was in Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) class 12-01. The selection program is now called RASP (Ranger Assesment and Selection Program) and has been expanded from 3 weeks (when I attended) to eight weeks. The third day of my RIP class was 9/11. That class started with over 400 students and graduated 42. To be honest it was refreshing to be in such a challenging selection/training program. I found basic training and Airborne school to be easy, not challenging and truly designed around the lowest common denominator.

After RIP I was assigned to 3rd Platoon C company 2/75 where I was known as a loudmouth dirtbag private. I got smoked (physical exercise punishments) regularly by all the ‘tabs” (platoon members who had graduated Ranger School) and NCOs probably in hopes I would quit. What I learned is the best time to talk shit is when you are already being punished, it’s not like they can punish you more at that moment. After 10 months in 2/75 as the lowest form of life on earth (a private) and a combat deployment to Afghanistan in the winter/spring of 2002 I was sent to the U.S. Army Ranger school class 05-03. I returned to C co as honor grad of RS class 05-03 and dodged being the RTO for 3 platoon by moving to the weapons platoon as an E-4 team leader. I did two more deployments to Afghanistan and two to Iraq as a 84mm Carl Gustav team leader , call-sign CG42 (charlie company, gun, 4plt, 2nd gun team). I was honorably discharged in 2005 after 4 years of active service. I spent another 4 years in the reserves after that mostly talking shit about what a badass I was in Ranger Regiment.

Although it was an incredible experience I find it important not to let it define my whole life. The further I get from the experience the more I realize it was who I am and choose to be daily that made me a Ranger and still makes me successful today. I certainly still know, believe in and follow the Ranger Creed today but I think my current career as an event promoter has been more rewarding and life defining in many ways. That said I wouldn’t be here without those experiences or what I learned about leadership there.
I will always remember my friends who gave up their lives for our Regiment and our creed. 

In particular the deaths of Nathan Stahl and Kris Domeij affected me on a deep personal level. Nathan was the gunner in my team during my last deployment to Iraq and he was killed in an ambush in Ramadi during the period of darkness between 21-22 September 2004. I had trained him since he arrived at the unit and was assigned to my team. I considered him a close personal friend who often spent time at my house despite being my subordinate. Kris was a team leader with the FIST team in C Co on the deployment when Nathan was killed. He was a great Ranger buddy to me both during the ambush and after when I was packing up Nathan’s personal stuff and gear. Later when I left active duty he threw me a surprise birthday party with all the guys from my old section and platoon. It made a big impact because that first year out of the military is always the most difficult. Seeing that my friends in Regiment hadn’t forgotten about me was a real boost to my mood. Kris was killed in action October 22 2011 in Afghanistan. He had 14 deployments when he died which is what most Rangers would call a truly illustrious career as a warrior.

Something about my background most people may not be aware of is that both of my parents have worked in live performance production for over 40 years. They ran a playhouse and worked for different theaters throughout my entire childhood. When they ran their own part of my “chores” included performing, doing technical work or helping market the business. I have been in more than two dozen professional productions before I was 18. A lot of the marketing, management and interpersonal leadership skills I use now as a promoter/producer I learned from them. 

Particularly my mother who doesn’t need social media because she remembers hundreds of peoples life stories, birthdays, addresses and phone numbers.

S23: I’ve also observed, you’ve a long standing fascination with history and by default Militaria. I’ve seen you present and WWII reenactment events, and of course sporting a wide variety of Russian gear at events as OpFor. Has this interest been with you from an early age or something you picked at a later stage ?

JW: I started reenacting the American Revolutionary War when I was 7 years old. Lot’s of kids do this because their parents do it but mine didn’t. They drove me to reenactments like soccer practices and hung out on the sidelines with juice boxes which I refused to drink from until the reenactment was over. Fun fact warm water from a wood canteen is not as good as juice and when you’re a child it doesn’t occur to you to replace it with booze. (laughs) 

I reenacted the revolutionary war until I joined the Army  after high school so you could say that was my main hobby as a child.

After I got out of the Army I got back in to reenacting. Several of the founders of MSW and myself where on an Airsoft team that also did reenacting for years before we started the company. I have even dabbled in some other eras specifically American Civil War. I still enjoy trolling reenactment groups on social media for the ‘lulz’. When I go back to the hobby eventually I think I wan’t to reenact a period before the invention of gunpowder. 

Blitzkrieg !!!

S23: So, back to the beginning how did you get started with Plastic Deth (Airsoft) ? 

JW: After I got out of the Army in 2006 I was working as a recruiter and I discovered Airsoft while setting up a recruiting event at a local arena. 

This appeared way back in an issue of Airsoft International way back in 2007 – S23

I eventually joined a team called Battlesim and that’s where I met Brian the co-owner of MilSim West

: … leading on from that, as one of the founding members and CEO of MilSim West, how did that get all started. Did you have a perception that something was lacking within the American MilSim community, a gap in the market if you will ?
JW: In 2012 I was working for an arena in Tacoma, WA. I started MilSim West under a different name with my friends Brian Clarkson, Marshall Smith, Brad Ball, Micah Hegland. It was meant to be a subsidiary business to the arena promoting outdoor games in the summer when business at the arena was slow. The arena owner tried to take creative control of the project after our first event was successful so we just formed an LLC agreed upon the name MilSim West which was Marshall’s suggestion and good friend Nathan  designed the logo.

The 40 hour format to our events is something I always thought was lacking in the larger war gaming hobby be it electronic or otherwise. There’s a lot of casual war games to be played but ultimately the founding group enjoyed a slower paced game that required a higher level of commitment and rewarded team based play. 

MSW wasn’t the first brand to come up with the concept of a hard core game, I would say MSW has developed one of the better and more comprehensive rule books and organizations for running hard core games though.

You’ve been wanting one for years…and it’s finally available for sale! The MilSim West logo patch, made by BritKitUSA for MilSim West and now available to the general public for sale on our website.

S23: I’ve been a huge fan, closely following MSW’s progression from event to event, they’ve just got bigger, better, stronger with each one. The utilization of vehicles, special effects, extended patrols onto target, night phases, and and overarching organic storyline as the mission unfolds with a solid command structure has made for even me as a spectator online a truly immersive series. Is this suspension of disbelief important to you, and perhaps a vital aspect of the MilSim West ethos ?
JW: Of course. MilSim West events are a carefully constructed fantasy designed to entertain and challenge. All the roleplay and pretend culture for pretend nations that goes on just builds on that.

 Ultimately it’s the 40 hours format of the games that helps make it seem the most real in my opinion. Imagine how easy it is to feel connected to the game when you don’t leave the field for a hotel or a campground after the sun goes down. 

When you wake up two days in a row with your eyepro on still playing Airsoft its hard to know whats real which is sort of the point I think for most people. Ultimately this is a hobby of escapism.

The issue of supply in the form of all Airsoft ammunition, medical bottles (for reviving dead players) and drinking water creates a real need for a chain of command outside of the actual shooting of pellets at others. 

The need for supply creates a more cohesive “unit” structure. The scene around MSW events tends to attract large coalition style teams that can fill out an entire 40 person platoon in one impression or uniform. 

S23: What’s expected of the attending players, have they perhaps struggled with the rigors of field craft and sustaining themselves over an extended period in game, is prior preparation briefed out to give them an expectation or have they overall endured with out issue ?
JW: Our tactical standard operating procedure (TACSOP) is in excess of 60 pages. 

Most of that information is not just rules but safety information, packing lists, descriptions of roles and responsibilities in the combat unit and other information for those who dont have a military background. 

We start publishing warning orders at 30 days prior to an event and planning products hit are released on a regular schedule up until the event. 

Players are emailed waivers as well as mock military orders with instructions on how and when to arrive on the friday of the event. I would say that preparedness crucial to enjoying a MSW event. If it rains and all you brought was a jacket, life sucks. 

S23: Whilst it’s awkward to simulate this over here in the UK, I was impressed to see the use of blank firing weaponry. We’ve had similar events offering similar immersion, almost RealSim, with high end production for casualties, pyro and explosive effects – aside from additional elements such as communications, detailed event briefings – this has been a well received element. Whilst enjoyed by those in attendance, and from onlookers who understood what’s being sought to achieve, it has raised to negative reactions from the uninitiated – what’s your perspective ?
JW: It’s a normal concern. Watching videos of people playing a game that looks much like real life can be unsettling to many, especially so when they see and hear gunfire. 

War is a real shitty thing. If you think about the hobby of reenacting, or wargaming or MilSim or whatever the brand name is you’re using for your war/violence roleplay game is from an outsiders perspective – I don’t think it’s hard to see where that reaction comes from. 

Overwhelmingly throughout history the people who suffer the most from war are the civilians who live in the places it happens. 

War play could be seen as an insult to many and probably is most popular in places not experiencing civil war, war, famine and mass homelessness. That said it’s entertainment and so it really shouldn’t matter if people find it offensive.

I find all kinds of entertainment other people enjoy offensive so luckily that’s not the bar to legality. I imagine it’s much easier to shoot firearms in the USA than it is in the UK but I know there are reenactment events in the UK so it’s possible of course.

Realistically our blank fire safety check is far beyond any safety check I have ever seen in my many years of reenacting. WWII reenacting is basicallyhistorical Airsoft  with blanks and even less people calling their own hits . In all my years of doing it I never once remember anyone checking my weapons for safety or seeing any one else checked. I remember reenacting the revolutionary war in the 90s running around with a large bore musket and a 3 foot bayonet at 12. 

Just because reenacting as a worldwide hobby generally plays it super loose on safety doesn’t mean I wan’t to run a business that way. MSW does a  100% equipment check prior to allowing participants in so we can ensure no contraband or live ammunition makes it in to the event.For those with concerns here is verbatim the pre event safety check we require of every single participant using blanks
The pre event inspection is performed by a designated MSW Cadre member at each factions in processing site. The designated blank fire safety cadre will validate the players in process checklist for the blank fire station when they have completed the following steps:

1) Submit to a magazine and ammo check with magazines empty and all ammunition in its original packaging as purchased or in clear plastic bags if the original packaging was discarded.

2) State the four rules of firearms safety from memory as follows: All guns are always loaded. Never let the muzzle cross anything you are not willing to shoot. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire. Be sure of your target and beyond.

3) Field strip the rifle, reassemble it and perform a functions check.

4) Demonstrate understanding of the 20 foot, 180 degree safety zone extending from the muzzle, while performing a test fire. The Cadre will present the blank user with three scenarios involving targets at various ranges and the cadre member standing in various positions around the shooter. 

Shooters must only engage target outside of the 20 foot distance and never engage with cadre standing in their safety fan. Weapons firing blanks must pass this station with two shots per target and no malfunctions. 

In the event of malfunctions it is at the cadres discretion to allow the shooter time to adjust the weapon and try again or simply not allow a malfunctioning weapon in to the event.

S23: Now, you’ve just completed the latest installment of Rostov Rising, what’s your assessment of that event, and what’s planned for the future ?
JW: I consider Rostov Rising a great victory for Spain. Dan McKinlay who commanded the Russian Forces  at that event may feel differently. 

Personally I enjoyed rolling out my new Airsoft alter ego for that game as leader of a Spanish Army  Task Force fighting in southern Russia in a “conquered land for military service arrangement” with NATO

The basic tactical scenario for that event was a Spanish led company sized task force vs a company minus of Cossack militiamen led and supported by Russian regular forces. 

The NATO force was tasked with crossing a river and clearing the entire AO of Russian forces no later than the 11:00 Hrs cease fire time on Sunday of the event. 

Luckily for MSW both sides came away from the event claiming victory so we will likely return to that venue again.

S23: You recently collaborated with Tactical Tailor to produce a superb radio pouch with Baofeng users in mind – and I know this was more personably inspired, the MSW Claymore Bag, a refreshing new take, a twist on a classic. (In fact I’ve just seen additional items include the MSW/TT Chest Desk Pouch, Emergency Panel and Go Pro Battery Counterweight Pouch added to your store) 

What was the inspiration to not only produce these to incredibly reasonable priced items, and how did the collaboration come about ? 
JW: Thanks that’s actually a question for my partner Brian Clarkson

MSW/TT Claymore Bag
MSW/TT Radio Pouch

We had been receiving sponsorship in the form of gear for our Cadre from Tactical Tailor when he came up with the field gear product line of soft goods. Our first product was actually our MilSim West Tourniquet, which is a low cost mock tourniquet for wargaming.

We issue them to all participants at our events. Participants wearing real equivalent weight armor and helmets can use two of them. When you are hit any team member can apply your tourniquet. After that a platoon or company medic must give you a 16oz water bottle which you have to drink before you can remove your MSWTQ and return to the ‘plastic fray’. 

MSW/TT Chest Desk Pouch

S23: Now, this blew my mind, you’ve recently had a new addition to the team, none other than Halo 22 from MARSOC’s Dagger 22 – yes readers, SSGT Michael Golembesky has joined MSW’s ranks. You may well read his two books Level Zero Heroes and Dagger 22

Ski and Josh

Joshua, how’d this opportunity come about, from what I’ve read he’ll be working with you guys for the foreseeable future ?
JW: Ski has been working with us for a while. His first event was ‘The Battle of the Caucasus’ in Wyoming and he has been a regular part of the Cadre since then. 

Brian Clarkson reached out to him and recruited him as MSW Cadre. 

He brings a lot of energy to what we do and I love working with him on events. He designed the latest MSW website and does a lot of other creative work behind the scenes . Dan McKinlay may disagree once again but Ski is undefeated as a NATO faction commander in MSW events.

S23: So, having been there, done that in the ‘real steel’ world – what’s in your kit bag, your go to cool guy gear or essentials that make time in the field a little easier on the soul ?
JW: Loads of snack and comfort items. The older I get the harder it is to sleep on the ground without a sleeping pad and pillow. 

When it comes to the rest of my kit I try to keep it as simple and functional as possible with the minimum required amount of fashion to fit in with the other kids at the pool.

S23: Likewise, whilst I know your often busy and preoccupied with planning, preparation and the running of events. But, on the odd occasion you have time, you still get behind the trigger to bring a little extra muscle. Talk us through your blaster set up ?
JW: I play a fair bit both at MSW events and other promotions and local events. I have attended a few American Milsim events and had a really good time. I go to local event’s hosted by the Chicago Airsoft Association and Mir Tactical near where I live in Chicago.

 I’m a lackluster member of a local chapter of a national team I started in Seattle with friends of mine. 

My blaster set up is a stock E&L AK105 with a fancy Tac Light Brian told me to buy and a G&G 3 power optic. I don’t know what it’s called I just know the sound it makes when it spits plastic (laughs).
S23: Before we conclude the interview with our trademark question – what next for MSW ?
JW: Continued expansion of our events throughout the United States

We will be bringing our popular insurgency series of events we started on the West Coast  to the East Coast.

S23: … Really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses ?

JW: It’s Airsoft, if you can dream it you can make it real! I think that would be cool for arena type play but at mixed ranges the limitations of air powered muskets makes that less fun.

 I think a 3/1 BB to bullet ratio is ideal for mixed range MilSim style games – Josh

Huge thanks to Joshua, taking time out to pen this highly personable, insightful and humorous interview – I’m sure you’ll be a big solid and head over and check out MilSim West and be sure to check out all the incredible event photography which has kindly been used here with permission from MSW – cheers S23

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Clerks – an interview with V01 from Task Force Copperhead

Clerks – an interview with V01 from Task Force Copperhead

‘I’m not even supposed to be here today!’Dante Hicks

Subtlety aside, we were meant to be on a break, but when you’ve got to go to work …

We’ve had V01 and V02 on here, talking respectively about their Plastic Deth history and some of their kit.

In some form or another these guys, have been around the block, in some cases for nearly over a decade, both on the field and within the industry.

Keen exponents of Plastic Deth, wether it be a regular skirmish or a larger more immersive MilSim, they like you have no end of enthusiasm for the hobby.

So, it’s been awhile, and as such, with a few recent developments we’d stop by and see what Task Force Copperhead have been up to.

S23: Welcome aboard, good to have you back again. You’ve been busy with a slew of events and a plethora of new kit recently showcased online – but, before we talk through that, tell us a little about Copperhead and it’s formation ?

: Copperhead started really without much thought or fanfare. Having come out of retirement and returned to my Wannabe ways, I had started playing together with V-02 on a fairly regular basis. One day he said ‘let’s start a team’ and that was that. Since then we’ve grown to five in number and are very much about fun and gear. 

We’re all geardos at heart but we want the team to work well together and improve on their game as well.

: I spotted your recently acquired Dragon Red ‘hydro-dipped’ Multicam Ops CoreBallistic Cut‘ replica. I’m a fan of Dragon Red’s Premium variants, owning an Airframe and formerly a ‘Ballistic Cut‘ too. Why the upgrade and how’ve you chosen to set it up ?

: The Ops Core was actually an additional acquisition rather than an upgrade or replacement. It was driven by a combination of practicality and as well as detail for the loadout. 

In getting the bits together for my NODs I hastily bought an FMA Maritime as they weren’t compatible with the ANVIS mount on my AirFrame

It served it’s purpose for a while but then when recent pictures of D-Boys surfaced wearing the Ops Core High Cut helmets I pulled the trigger on the Dragon Red

Since all the ‘picture perfect’ accoutrements are either unobtainable or way out of budget, it’s a very practical set up with a geardo flavour to do what I need for fighting in the dark.

: I found with how I prefer to configure my Act in Black Lunox monocular NVG both the Ballistic and Maritime cut helmets give a preferable and unparalleled eye relief over the Airframe – how’ve you got with your current configuration ?

: I’ve not had the opportunity to try the Lunox on my AirFrame due to the aforementioned ANVIS hardware, but in typical fashion I’ve spent more than double what I needed to before arriving at my current setup. I would guess that the steep angle on the front of the AirFrame and the lack of height adjustment on the Rhino are leading to your eye relief problems. In most aspects all the Wilcox hardware is a joy to use, solid and easy to operate. 

However, I’m lucky that I can get the eye relief as it won’t come any further back when I have it set and many people using these components can’t get it far enough back.

: Now, you too have opted for the Lunox, I’ve extolled its virtues and performance no end, but I’m interested to hear how you and the team are getting with your sets ?

: We’re all as happy as we can be with monoculars. It’s cliche I know but after running our Mk I eyeballs at several events with the rest of CTF226, they have been a game-changer. Being able to navigate and engage targets in the dark without giving advertising your position for miles is a great tactical advantage. 

Especially for players in the UK, they are a relatively easy and risk-free way to acquire night vision that is compatible with commonly used military mounts. 

It’s much more difficult to get quality hardware for the civilian dovetail mounts.

S23: What other accessories and equipment are you utilizing to work alongside and enhance its employment ?

: We’re all now running the ubiquitous Wilcox L4 G24 on Wilcox or Ops Core shrouds and either Wilcox PVS-14 Arms or Norotos Dual Dovetail Adapters, these greatly enhance the experience over older Rhino mounts and standard issue j-arms. 

They give more axis of adjustment and the improved tolerances and rigidity means the unit stays where you want it.

 I think many people fail to realise the device itself is only part of a system. Apart from the mounts and shrouds there’s also aiming and illumination to think about if you want to do anything more than taking a stroll in the dark. 

To that end I’m currently using a G&P DBAL on my rifle for aiming and target ID, a Princeton Tec Switch on the helmet for map reading and other admin tasks and the S&S V-Lite for friendly marking.

: You’ve always had a great observation and understanding when setting up your load outs, undoubtedly research and patience is key. Visually the end result is invariably an aesthetically pleasing one, but what rules and lessons have you picked up along the way that really drive functionality ?

V01: I guess my number one rule is ‘suck it and see’. I could sit for hours planning how to set up my gear, deliberate with a teammate, or even get dressed up in my living room but I never know if something really works until it’s been tried in-game under stress. 

The second, very closely related is ‘iterate and improve’, through use, you will find the little niggles and big problems. Go home, think about it then think of the next iteration to try next time. Lastly is that the word ‘best’ should always be followed by ‘for who’ and ‘for what’ and that you will never get there.

: Now, when ever we get a chance to meet up, or hang out we’ve usually no end of cool gear we’ve acquired or seen to discuss. What’s on new or on the horizon for you ?

:  I recently sold off my CPC as I’ve pretty much using the JPC 2.0 exclusively for the past year or so, it’s going to be replaced with an AVS for which I’ve already got most of the parts sitting in their packets. I’m hoping it’s going to replicate the load carrying capability of the CPC whilst shedding some bulk. Over the horizon and beyond, I’m looking to pick up genuine Helstar 6 and then work on procuring a set of dual tube NODs.

: I’ve spotted a slew of great photos from you, and other Copperhead teammates at Pariah Airsoft’s multi-decked boat moored just off the Thames. What’s that like to play out as a team ?

: It’s certainly unique! Although the setup is a little skirmishy with a fair amount of sackcloth and felt stretched between pillars, I think it’s a great venue for honing CQB skills under pressure. 

Despite it’s small size there’s enough complexity to let the games flow at a fast pace. You also never forget where you are with the views and the list at low tide.

: Rather than finish up with the obligatory trade mark question, we’ll close out with a little advice. What’s the best way to start out a good practical load out, form or function what should new entrants really be focusing on ?

: Given my brief education in design and engineering, I’m a strong believer that form follows function. Even with my own CAG inspired loadout I strive for practicality and efficiency within its confines. There is a bewildering array of pouches, platforms and clothing out there now and it’s only increasing. The advice I give to anyone starting out is to play the game before splashing your cash. I went to my first game of airsoft in a set of faded surplus BDUs, a TM M16 and spare HiCap in my pocket. Form is probably the first thing you will have to go on, seeing what other players are using on the internet and at events. As you start buying your own kit and using it, keep an open mind and then run through the rules I mentioned above. Eventually, you will find what works for you.

Huge thanks to V01 turning in what I’m sure you’ll agree is a stellar interview, check out more on Copperheads exploits at the links below – S23




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