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.
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.