KGB and/or Cadre: GORUCK Red Dawn

A friend found a custom challenge that we both thought we couldn’t miss: Based on the movie Red Dawn, custom packing list involving climbing gear and potato guns, very little info on exactly what would happen after we got there. I jumped on it.

Several months of gathering information and determining team and squad leaders. Ordering gear from tubular nylon webbing to training knives and paintball masks. Re-learning how to tie a Swiss-seat rappelling harness.


Dress code was civilian 1980s attire. So I came up with the most awesome 80s MERICA outfit I could come up with:


Finally made it to the start point at 4 in the morning, found our teams, and waited for instructions.


When our instructions came, they were not what we expected:

The KGB knows we are here. They will be here shortly, they are going to kick our asses and move us to a detention camp. The Wolverines have a rescue team coming for us, who plan to cause enough of a diversion for us to escape. Do not talk to the KGB agents, do not give them anything to work with.

KGB agents showed up, and the welcome party was on. Low crawls off the deck we had assembled on, then backward low crawls back on it.


We were formed up into two lines, ruck on your front, hands through the belt of the man in front of you. We were ordered to move out, and came to our detention camp about a mile down the road.



Once there, we had to face a barn wall as we were divided into groups.


One of the first distinctions was anyone with an American flag on any of their clothing, so I was in for the first round of interrogation. Yelled questions of where are the weapons, where is your base, what is your next target, while enjoying several ways of experiencing discomfort. Spreading cold mud on our faces/bodies:


Headstands and body drags through the mud:



Pouring water in our faces (not quite water boarding, but close enough for me).


And various exercises with the Stone of Truth.


A teammate made a snarky remark to Cadre Mikhail, and Mikhail made a point of making my PT harder in response. The guy was very apologetic when he realized how this was going, and asked if I was okay. I muttered out “Easy day, all day,” and kept going.

Shortly thereafter Cadre Danny Boy called the two of us aside for a discussion, to make sure we understood what the point of this was. The name of the game is to buy yourself time. If you come off as the tough guy or the wise ass, breaking you becomes a personal challenge, and buying time gets much harder.

By the end of the discussion the wet clothes and the breeze were getting to me and I was starting to shiver. “Okay, go tell Cadre Mikhail that you are cold and need to do exercises!”

Next thing I know we are doing continuous jumping jacks and burpees in a shed.


In among this, groups were sent off to review the required gear and do more familiar welcome party PT.


We were then all called to form up where we had been brought in, take all the gear out of the ruck, get it back in in under 30 seconds, rucks over your head.



We all hear the call and run like hell into the woods. We stopped after a few minutes of running to re-form teams and get our next set of instructions. KGB will be following us, and there will be casualties if they catch us. We were given a destination to get to and moved out.

We reached the destination (a small lake called Dude’s Fishing Hole) and were ordered into the water to clean up. Holy crap that was cold.


From this point forward, our KGB agents were American Cadre, teaching us rather than chasing us. We climbed to a high peak overlooking the fishing hole…


To capture this epic shot:


Then the teaching portion began. Short classes in land navigation, knife fighting, and rappelling.


We then moved out for a paintball battle. I decided to sit out the fight and passed my gun off to another. It turned out to be a good decision, as he charged the enemy valiantly, only to find that his gun had been given to me and then to him with no CO2 cartridges.

All that was left then was the long, steep trudge back to the end point (same location as detention camp).


And one heck of a welcome when we made it there.


Next day was the Scavenger, in which we had to find a way to achieve various odd tasks and get photos of them. Serving someone in a restaurant, bonus for wearing part of the uniform:


Getting everyone in a taxi, bonus if teammate is in the driver seat:


Can’t believe I got away with that one.

Ambushing other teams with water balloons or silly string:


This event was an epic time. I can only hope someone is crazy enough to put together something like this again.



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