Oath Keepers is an organization founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate. He has described the group as being made up largely of law enforcement officials and past and present members of the military who will stand up for the Constitution and American liberties by resisting orders to impose martial law or to create detention camps in the United States. Recently, Stewart Rhodes communicated a new Oath Keeper mission - that of forming small "field teams" of experts in various disciplines, such as communications, emergency response, first aid, etc. with the ultimate goal being to build up the "core competencies" among Oath Keeper members, and then have those members cross-train civilians so that our communities are more resilient in the face of any type of disaster.
According to an article posted to the Oath Keepers website, "Oath Keepers is instructing its 30,000 members nation-wide to form up special teams and sub-teams in each Oath Keepers chapter, at the town and county level, modeled loosely on the Special Forces "A Team" (Operational Detachment A)...which has a twelve man team of specially trained soldiers who are inserted into a community to train and lead that community in resistance to oppressive regimes (hence their motto: De Oppresso Liber)...Oath Keepers is using that successful model and adapting it to our mission, to form Oath Keepers "Civilization Preservation Teams" (we have already received critical input from some of our Special Forces members, and are actively seeking more input from others within the Special Forces community)...So far we plan to have the following in each Operational "Field" Team: Two Communication Experts, Two Medical Experts (with a special focus on grid-down emergency medical and wilderness medicine), Two Engineers (to assist with fuel, shelter, emergency power, clean water, sewage, etc. build bridges, clear roads, construction, facilitate field distribution of supply and logistics, etc.), Two Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) Specialists (who focus on the critical need for food reserves for the whole team, dependents, and especially for the community and who distribute food aid in the field), and Four to Six "Scouts" (all "Scouts" will train extensively in tracking, land navigation, search and rescue, reconnaissance and observation, precision rifle shooting, wilderness survival and other "bush skills", camouflage, small unit tactics, and patrolling...But within each Scout sub-team will be, ideally, a) Two Tracking Experts, b) Two Precision Shooting Experts, and c) Two Close Combat and Small Unit Tactics Experts. Each Operational "Field" Team will elect its own Team Leader and Assistant Team Leader and each Oath Keepers Chapter will also be a Support Team (Logistic Supply/Support Group (LSG)) and will act as an auxiliary to assist the Field team with supplies and transport. The people within that support team will also train extensively with the Field team."
The Oath Keepers website article went on to say that each chapter should also form the following sub-teams for use during "normal" times and also during emergencies: "Peace Officer Liaison and Sheriff/Posse Team (focused on making sure the local Sheriff is a "constitutional Sheriff" who understands the Constitution and the duty to defend it, and making sure there is a posse to back the sheriff up...); Military and National Guard Liaison; Neighborhood Watch Team; Local Government Team (this is the team that will draft and introduce militia bills, posse bills, and nullification bills, among other items to support liberty at the local level...); and Intelligence Team (to gather, analyze, and disseminate intelligence on who is doing what, where, when, and why)". Given this mission, where all Oath Keepers are expected to "Go Operational", the article reports that like with Special Forces, "all Oath Keepers will be expected to learn light infantry skills. They will all be encouraged to attend an Appleseed Rifle Program and shoot to "Rifleman" standards. Just as the Marines say that every Marine is a Rifleman (even the cooks) so will every Oath Keeper be a rifleman. After learning solid rifle marksmanship, they will learn individual movement and tactics, then buddy team, fire-team, and squad movement and tactics (shoot, move, communicate)."
As to why the Oath Keepers is doing this now, it was mentioned in the article that the Oath Keepers national Board of Directors feels "we are running out of time and we need to get prepared as fast as possible." It was reported the Board of Directors "war-gamed" and that they think "the most likely move by our enemies to scrap the Constitution" will be: a)intentionally trigger a catastrophic economic collapse as an economic "neutron bomb"; b) let the country descent into chaos; and then, c) ride in like the cavalry to "save" us by means of martial law and scrapping our constitution once-and-for-all." Oath Keepers urges its members "to presume the worst in the short term and to work in three or four month sprints - assume a collapse will be triggered this fall-winter and do all you can to get yourselves and your communities ready...If it doesn't happen in the next four months, then do another sprint, of three or four months of preparation. And keep going until it happens - which it will eventually, no matter what anyone does."
The New York City chapter of Oath Keepers held its "OK 2.0 Kickoff Meeting" on October 16, 2013 at the Soldiers' Sailors', Marines', Coast Guard & Airmens' Club at 283 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. The meeting leaders were Bill Cooper, newly elected Oath Keepers New York State Chapter President, Joe Conte, newly elected Oath Keepers New York City Chapter President, and Matthew Kelly, Oath Keepers New York City Chapter Vice-President. Mr. Cooper reported on what has been happening "behind the scenes," most notably building networks with other patriot groups throughout the state such as the New York Second Amendment Grassroots Coalition and New York Revolution, as well as "establishing strategies, objectives, and overall direction for all chapters within New York State, including such items as base-line required competencies for all Oath Keeper members, a uniform code of conduct, strategic communications, etc.."
Joe Conte, Oath Keepers New York City Chapter President, discussed the importance of orienting Oath Keeper members for the mission at hand as well as how to present Oath Keepers to outsiders. Mr. Conte said, we need to "establish the proper frame of mine (i.e. we're to view ourselves as analogous to a military unit, therefore we should be competent, disciplined, and professional in carrying out the Oath Keeper mission)" and when discussing Oath Keepers with non-members, we should "be smart and strategic...focus on the areas no reasonable person could disagree with, such as looking to strengthen our communities via training people in first aid, emergency preparedness, etc.; emphasize that we're teaming with respectable organizations like the Red Cross, etc.; employ language that is familiar to the average person or to those in the corporate world - e.g. "community organizers", "business continuity", etc.". Mirroring that message, Matthew Kelly, Vice-President of the New York City Chapter of Oath Keepers, provided the following quotation, "By this point in time, every (responsible) business has a "disaster recovery/business continuity" plan in place. It only makes sense that local communities emulate this best practice and likewise prepare for the worst. This is the thrust of Oath Keepers' new priority #1: aid local communities in establishing their disaster recovery/"business" continuity - or, in the words of Mr. Rhodes, "civilization preservation" plans."
Mr. Conte went on to state that "thinking strategically is thinking defensively: What will the enemies of our Constitution do to try to prevent the Oath Keeper mission from succeeding? Most likely, they will try to discredit the organization by labeling us with such smears as being "radical", "paranoid", "fringe", "extremist", "domestic terrorists", etc. To combat or obviate these smears, it is imperative that all Oath Keepers maintain message discipline and not give our enemies any ammunition to use against us. Specifically, curb any discussion of conspiracy theories that are, by definition, "kooky" (whether you think they're "kooky" or not); polish your presentation as to what the Oath Keepers are and what they are not (i.e. we are most definitely not a militia) so that it appeals to those we want on our side and contradicts any claims that we're a bunch of foaming-at-the-mouths wing nuts; contain the emotion, use common sense and exercise discretion."
Matthew Kelly, Oath Keepers New York City Chapter Vice-President, laid out the five to-dos for all NYC Oath Keeper members "that are to be embarked upon immediately given the aggressive timeline Stewart has laid out for operational effectiveness of the new mission. The five to-dos include: a) joining your local Community Emergency Response Team; b) get Red Cross's 2-year certification for First Aid/CPR/AED; c) get your Technician Class license in ham radio operation; d) do some basic prepping (i.e. enough essentials for surviving one week without any outside supplies); and e) establish your bug-out plans (i.e. where will you go and how will you get there if STHF?)." Mr. Kelly noted "these action items are only the first step in a long journey to establish the "core competencies" of all Oath Keeper members, and that once these steps are completed there will still be much more work to be done."