Village Praxis: Capabilities Assessments 101 by Bill Buppert

Let’s talk today about assessing your required capabilities. Jim Rawles, who puts the style in the preparedness lifestyle, has had many articles that touch on specific capabilities assessments. What we’ll be talking about today is the general theory and practice of how to assess a given situation and determine, based on conditions, what your required capabilities are.

First things first, identify your particular situation. For example, a person living in a rural area will have vastly different needs that someone living in an urban environment, while a suburban person will have different needs than either a rural farmer or an urbanite. I highly recommend including climate, terrain, population density, demographics (population age distribution, etc), unemployment statistics, local fabrication capabilities, water and sewer infrastructure, transportation infrastructure and other pertinent data.

Now that you know what your local physical and human terrain looks like, assess the most likely threats and scenarios that could impact you and your area. There are two broad categories: natural (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes) and human (riots, civil unrest, infrastructure collapse) that affect and interact with each other. A localized “grid down” scenario driven by a hurricane can influence secondary, human driven scenarios. For each scenario, I recommend analyzing it by comparing “Probability of Occurrence vs Impact if Risk is Incurred”. You’ll also be wise to use a variation of the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) to assess the most likely and most

For a particular potential event, determine the probability of occurrence, for example, if you live on the east coast, a hurricane is a “likely” event. Next determine the impact. If the event occurs, how bad will things get?

Once you’ve determined your risk for a potential event and its attendant impact, now you know what to prepare for. Now that you know the probability and occurrence of your particular situation, the “how to prepare” should be framed in terms of “capabilities” and not “widgets” or “gear”.

Basics, Basics, Basics

One reason some Western special operations forces are so good at what they do is because they perfect the most banal tasks in small unit tactics to the best of their abilities; they live with weapons and not simply carry them on occasion as a totem.

One rifleman has examined this very practice and unfortunately he stopped blogging. In concert with a couple Appleseeds under your belt, there is no better way to catch up. And remember Buppert’s Law of Military Topography: “Mountainous terrain held by riflemen who know what they are about cannot be militarily defeated”.

Drive a rifle or ride a boxcar, that is the future.

No matter what occurs, you are going to need water, food and shelter. For water and food, you must determine how much per person, per day and how many days of supply should be required.

Keeping bottled water on hand is great. Also, have the ability to purify water of unknown provenance- boil, chemicals or filtration. Have a capability to store the water you’ve purified, both in bulk and in ready to carry containers.

Food is a little trickier. Once again, you’ll have to determine how much you will need, per person, per day and for how long. I won’t get into ration planning and preparing food for long term storage as others have covered it much better than I can, notably Jim Rawles.

A good place to start on nutrition outside of normal refrigerator, freezer and canned fare is NOLS Cookery. This book is a little gem on ration planning, nutrition, staple foods that will keep without refrigeration and recipes (that taste pretty damn good) prepared in one pot on a single burner stove from basic foodstuffs.

Shelter can be the toughest basic of all to accurately assess. Is your dwelling hardened against natural and manmade disasters? If not, do you have building materials and tools on hand to repair any critical damage? Or do you anticipate relocating to a planned fallback position? If so, by vehicle or by foot? How does your region’s climate affect your choice in shelter- is a poncho and 550 cord going to suffice, or will you need a 4 season tent and a sleeping bag designed for a mountaineering expedition? This paragraph is in questions because only you have the answers to your situation. There is no one size fits all answer.

Self Defense

The reason is that far too many people will drop $10K on an EBR, webbing, ammo and associated kit, but not prepare emergency or long-term stores of food or water.

Contrary to popular belief on the gun boards, you will not be executing a defense of Rorke’s Drift all day, every day. You will most likely be conducting a Michael Collins style slow drip rebellion that trades time for non-violent resistance for toe-to-toe conflict.

However, you must have the means to protect yourself and your family in the event that a physical confrontation cannot be averted either through avoidance, deception, or cunning. As with the shelter section, ask yourself a series of questions regarding what you need:

  • Are you urban, suburban or rural?
  • Is the terrain wooded, open plain, etc?
  • What type of threats are you looking at- opportunistic looters, semi organized mutant zombie bikers on a festival of rape and pillage or a well organized “other”?
  • What should your primary means of defense be?
  • Secondary or back up weapon?
  • Will every adult be armed?
  • How will ammo be carried?
  • How cleaning and maintenance gear and repair parts are needed?

The list is essentially endless and you need to triage your finite time and resources to accommodate the art of the possible.

Mental and Physical Requirements

Conduct an honest self-assessment of your mental and physical fitness. Do small inconveniences spin you up into a lather? Does being out of a routine “throw you off”? How far can you walk? How far can you run? How far can you do both while carrying a load equal to one third your body weight? How much can you lift, push and pull? What skills do you have? How many are useful in the projected emergencies you’ve identified? What do you need to learn to get you and yours to the other side? Again, ask yourself these questions.

The most important item in your kit bag rides right between your ears.

My personal Jedi strength is Stoicism.

Resist. Rinse. Repeat.

17 thoughts on “Village Praxis: Capabilities Assessments 101 by Bill Buppert”

  1. Bravo! Again, mein Herren, you are right on the mark. As always, honesty with one’s self is the bestest policy, because lies you tell yourself are the worst. The assessment of your area and possible situations that may arise are something to regard with sobering honesty. My personal situation is far from what I want, and I’m stuck with it. Even so, applying what I CAN to readiness is better than lamenting what I CAN’T. Besides, one must recognize that in flux, much will change, and taking advantage of that is a good idea. This post is well over the fence, and drives in three runs.

  2. Excellent article but as a newbie desert dweller I really have to up my water game. I’m good on food, shelter and weapons but my Achilles heal is water…

    1. Jeb,

      Sean and I are desert dwellers and we face the same problem. Unless you have a well, you are stuck with a finite dwell time before you have to leave.

  3. Great article, I’d like to work on the water side of my preparedness. I hope to pick up a Berkey water filter at the end of the month.

    1. How good are those? Serious question to anyone who has one, forgive my ignorance, but I can go scoop a bucket of brown river water and run it through that thing and drink it? I’d still need to put either a little bit of bleach or purification tablet in it, right?

      1. SemperFi, 0321

        If the water is brown and full of dirt/sediment, screen it thru a cloth first. Other than that, the Big Berkey has served me well for years with crystal clear safe water. No need to add any bleach or tablets, that’s what the charcoal filters are there for.

        1. Cheap things first: settle the sediment from the water in a 5 gallon bucket, then fine filter in coffee filter. If it’s roof water, lose the first gallons from the downspout for the garden to get rid of sediment. Rainwater has hardly anything biologically bad in it if you collect from a clean surface. Stainless Berkey is great and makes water taste better. Pre-filter and settle water before Berkey (or portable filter) for maximum filter life with least PITA. If you know that your best water is downstream of settlement/hog farm, distillation and bleach is not too much. If your best water is downstream of a commercial farm, find better water while going thirsty. Are there field cholera tests that are easy? FoldScope?

  4. SemperFi, 0321

    I just got back from a 10.25 mile hike in the Wind Rivers an hour ago, climbed a mtn to 10,700′ where the wind was howling at 70mph and we aborted the rest of the trip. I’ve spent a lifetime outdoors pushing myself to the limit (I’m 64 next month).

    I live not too far from the NOLS HQ and advise to take them with a grain of salt, they teach well but are also staffed by city kids who just got here and think they invented the sport of going outdoors and camping. Last year I took their two-day NOLS Wilderness First Aid class, finest first aid class I’ve ever attended, including my Recon classes. I’ve also been in camp with their 20 yr old know everything city snobs who lectured me on my lack of proper terminology for not calling a pack lid a ‘brain’.

    I started camping in the mid 60’s and spent 7 yrs in the USMC around the globe, needless to say that didn’t sit well with me.

    Study the reviews before investing hard earned cash on their products.

    1. SemperFi, 0321

      Another thing I’d like to add, the NOLSies are very communist in their ideology, they want to be the ones dictating the rules to the lower classes. Either their way or not at all, they are very unforgiving in dealing with those outside their circle of influence or climate change deniers.

      Lander Wyoming is right behind Jackson Hole and Laramie in crazy liberal thinking due to the large amount of former NOLS staff that retired and live there.

      1. SemperFi, having visited J-Hole a few years ago (2013) we figured out the local “environment” very quickly. Couldn’t get out of there fast enough (my NO FUSE, wanted to go off). Only drove through Laramie while staying in Cheyenne during CFD. We both fell in love with WY, northern half. Anywhere from Gillette, Buffalo, Thermopolis up to Cody. Would like your opinion on “liberal crazyness” in any of those areas. We WILL return for another visit and it will be an EXTENDED one.
        Currently a “northern-lower” Michigan resident.

        1. SemperFi, 0321

          Cody has filled with overflow that couldn’t afford JHole prices, becoming very liberal too. Look at how many real estate offices there are in any town, most owned by new out-of-staters trying to make a profit at turning everything into what they just left behind.

          Buffalo is nice town, still western in lifestyle, however, Sheridan (where I go several times/yr for VA Hosp) is turning very liberal also. They’ve had several negative problems with new police force.

          Gillette I don’t know,never having gone there yet.

          Thermopolis is still laid back, I travel thru there also several times/yr to work on some archaeology projects just north past Worland.(very hot up here in summer!!)

          The whole state is shifting as more folks move in, the young are too brainwashed to know or care about old school lifestyles and are slowly turning the tide towards liberalism just thru apathy.

          Good luck, it’s a great place to live.

  5. Well done, again. We all know our strengths, most continue to work on those strengths, when we should be working on our weaknesses.

    Local is critical,we moved to Southern Oregon in 1988, we saw then, what’s ahead. Isolation, few leftists, the prepper life style is the norm here. Guns bullets are just apart of life.

    Most folks have many cords of wood, gensets, and the juice to keep em going. Alt sources of power in the shed, with 300 days a year of sunshine, the panels are a reasonable alt. Multiple big Berks, in the inventory, plus our back packing filter units

    Water is everywhere here, on average a well is 20/30ft. Fun choice bullet selection is interesting, the m4 is the flavor of the month, a decent choice. I like mine a bit bigger plan and stock accordingly.

    Population of the entire county is 60k, in a county that’s bigger then many states back east. Spent the day up in the high mountains yesterday, fly fishing, saw one person and two cars, all day.

    Location is everything.

    Life’s about choices, make good choices, life’s grand, make bad choices, well you get it.


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