The following article has been contributed by Michael Lemieux, a combat vet and former Special Forces Intelligence Analyst (please see below the article for a full bio)
Prepping is More Than Just Amassing Stuff
Preparing for the unexpected (prepping) is more than just amassing stuff. It is also about understanding the dynamics and fluidity of what will/may happen in a given scenario. As I have said, and heard others say, “Every plan works great up to your engagement with the enemy.” Unfortunately the adversary, man or nature, is not playing by your plan book or your expectations of how they should behave and the plan will divert very quickly.
Most of us try to imagine what could happen in our locality and then extrapolate from that what things we would need and what training we lack and take appropriate steps to mitigate those shortfalls.
But are we thinking beyond our own “things?”
Face it; there are few families that can provide a competent medic, medical supplies for physical and dental requirements, armory, ammunition, food supplies, power equipment, 24 hour guard/security, and livestock management, gardening/farming and so on. For most of us just managing an inventory is a massive undertaking that requires constant vigilance.
I haven’t even mentioned the mountains of reference material, tools, equipment (both hand and powered), and training required individually and as a family. Just the art of silent communication, arm and hand signals, or some other communication system to facilitate working as a team is nearly extinct outside of combat units.
In a grid down or “without rule of law” (WROL) scenario, how well would you be able to defend what you have accumulated? How many people are in your household, do you plan to “bug out” to a retreat or looking to “bug in” and hunker down at home, you have to be able to defend your property in either case 24/7.
A Potential Real-World Example
Some will say they live in a quiet neighborhood with good people and they would not be a threat. Perhaps, but let’s try this scenario:
A massive solar event has caused a global power outage; it will be months before power is restored. Weeks go by with virtually no outside help and food is running scarce.
Gangs and groups of people have started roaming further and further outside their own areas looking for food, and whatever else they can find.
Many of your neighbors know that you were a prepper and you probably have food in your house. Even if you have been quite about your prepping they may have noticed some of the things you have been doing and suspect you are “one of them.”
Two weeks into the disaster a neighbor is looking at his weakened family and crying children who are hungry and literally starving to death in front of him. And now that the water is no longer flowing and all their supplies have run out, he is becoming desperate to keep his family alive.
He has the family shotgun at his side and he will take it with him when he goes to your house to ask for help. But he has made up his mind; he will feed his family whether you agree to help him or not.
So, in this scenario, do you agree to help? How much? How often? Let’s say you agree to give a little food, water, and medicine. Now you have confirmed you have supplies. He will be back again. What if one of the other neighbors sees you giving food to him? Will they want some too?
You can see how this can quickly escalate. And these are not even the “bad guys.”
So how do you defend your home? How many ways can someone enter your house? Doors and windows, regardless of what floor they are on, are all easy ways to enter a home. Can you cover all of them with just your family and for how long? And if you have security running all the time how can you get anything else done. We all know that we cannot be at a heighten state of security awareness while trying to cook dinner or work chores that must be done.
The average family of 5 may consist of a husband and wife and 3 children. My family, for instance, is my wife and I and two sons and a daughter. If we have two people on “guard duty” or lookout the most we could effectively cover is two sides of the building. Yes we could roam back and forth to each cover two sides. But in doing so we are also telegraphing that we have stuff here we are guarding and drawing more attention. And human nature always kicks in with a nature break every few hours, you have to sleep, you have to eat and we all need down time to break the tension.
You can quickly see that in a 24/7 self-protection scenario things could get very taxing very quick.
I have heard others say they could build a safe room with all their supplies and no one can get in. Really? How long would your safe room/bunker last with the house burning down around you sucking the life giving oxygen from the room. Flames would not need to touch you but the lack of air would have the same effect. Which brings up the next weakness of a “bunkered” situation – even if you bunker is below ground with a bomb proof door you still need to swap air with the outside and all it takes is a green brush fire lit under you fresh air intake and your bunker is now a smoke filled tomb.
Don’t get me wrong I love a good bunker but ones with secondary and preferably tertiary egress routes leading to concealed exits beyond the immediate vicinity of what is going on topside. The problem with these are that they are very, very expensive, and not going to happen if your renting or living in an apartment and in most cities if you try to dig a hole in your own yard the city code enforcement officer is there asking to see permits and plans that must first be approved.
The Importance of a Tribe
So in the real world where you and I live we have to rely on one another. A trusted group of friends and acquaintances that can make up your tribe can and most likely will be the difference between life and death.
Some of your tribe members may not even know they are part of your tribe; they are your intelligence gathering folks, bartering partners, and possibly alternative transportation needs. They may be a neighbor that works at the police department or other city department that can feed information as to what the city is hearing outside the neighborhood.
Get a ham radio and get licensed; during times of disaster they are sometimes the only ones that have up to date information. Make friends on air in the four cardinal directions, write down their call signs and when the flag goes up start calling and find out what is happening. Many times, like the move of weather across the landscape, you may be able to get a warning of trouble before it arrives.
Don’t overlook local hams either; yes they are close but if two cities to the north hams are telling of bad guys coming south and you have a ham friend to the north of the city you live in you can get updates of movements that can directly affect your planning and decision making.
Get Comfortable Now
You will also need to build a tribe that is personal; I mean sleep in the same room, brush your teeth and pee in the same toilet personal.
4-5 families can group together to fortify a single family home with a decent odds of survival. But you have to start now, get together weekly, assign tasks and responsibilities, train together, plan together, plan down to actual sleep arraignments, and get to know one another like family.
With additional people come additional requirements; increased meal requirements, waste disposal, water usage, medical requirements, etc. But the tribe also comes with a force of arms and the deterrence of multiple eyes and ears holding multiple firearms. This is much more of a deterrence than mom and dad and a few kids asking bad guys to leave them alone.
A Contingency Plan
Though we don’t like to think about it; our best laid plans may not work out, so we must have a contingency.
One contingency may be to fall back to one of the other tribe member’s house (if reasonable) and set up a secondary site. Have some supplies hidden away for just such a contingency and live to fight another day. Alternatively, establish a bug out location that you can pre-stash supplies and tents, etc. to go to if you must abandon your primary spot. Abandoning a losing battle to save the lives of your loved ones is better than dying to hold on to the things you may have.
It is always advisable to have GOOD bags (Get Out Of Dodge) that have food, water, clothes, emergency equipment, small tent, sleeping bag, etc. for each member. If the vehicle is still running, great, if not, each member should be able to pack their own gear. Pre-stage as much as possible and update often to be sure you are ready. After the emergency hits is not the time to start.
No Man is an Island
We have all heard the adage that no man is an island – this is never as true as when you are trying to survive a disaster and especially when you are caring for loved ones who cannot defend themselves.
I have over 20 years of military experience; I have been to more third world countries than I care to count. I have seen the ugliness that is war, have been shot at, and have shot at others trying to kill me and my brothers in arms. I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is no animal more fierce and more inhumane than a ruthless enemy of the human species when they think there is no law or power to stop them.
The most passive and meek gentlemen can turn vicious and deadly when faced with starvation of his wife and especially his children.
Yet we must retain our humanity in such situations and help where we can with the understanding that we can only share our excess and that any attack on us would be met with deadly force. In time that generosity may prove to create an ally that provides you intelligence or skills which can save your life.
Gear and supplies are important, but they’re not enough. It’s a community, your tribe, that will make all the difference when your family’s life is in the balance.
Michael LeMieux was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma in 1956 and graduated from Weber State University in Utah with a degree in Computer Science. He served in both the US Navy and US Army (Active duty and National Guard) and trained in multiple intelligence disciplines and was a qualified paratrooper. He served with the 19th Special Forces Group, while in the National Guard, as a Special Forces tactical intelligence analyst. He served tours in Kuwait and Afghanistan where he received the Purple Heart for injuries received in combat.
Mr. LeMieux left military duty at the end of 2005 after being medically discharged with over 19 years of combined military experience. He currently works as an intelligence contractor to the US government and owns a small Firearms Repair business called Raven Head Arms.
He has traveled around the world living in 14 States of the Union including Hawaii, and visited (for various lengths of time) in Spain, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Korea, Scotland, Pakistan, Mauritius, Somalia, Diego Garcia, Australia, Philippines, England, Italy, Germany, and Puerto Rico.
Michael now lives in Nebraska with his wife, two of his three children, and grandchild. His hobbies include shooting, wood-working, writing, amateur inventor and scuba diving when he can find the time.