Showing posts with label plans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plans. Show all posts

Monday, June 12, 2017

Rally Points

Rally Points
The other day I was watching Fear the Walking Dead. That show did not particularly grip me but I was bored so I watched a few episodes. Of course after various bad things the characters kept getting scattered and not having a good plan. This brings us to Rally Points. 
From FM 7-8 
3-5. RALLY POINTS
The leader considers the use and locations of rally points. A rally point is a place designated by the leader where the platoon moves to reassemble and reorganize if it becomes dispersed. 
a. Selection of Rally Points. The leader physically reconnoiters routes to select rally points whenever possible. He selects tentative points if he can only conduct a map reconnaissance. He confirms them by actual inspection as the platoon moves through them. Rally points must--
▪ Be easy to find. 
▪ Have cover and concealment. 
▪ Be away from natural lines of drift. 
▪ Be defendable for short periods. 
b. Types of Rally Points. The most common types of rally points are initial, en route, objective, reentry, and near- and far-side rally points. Soldiers must know which rally point to move to at each phase of the patrol mission. They should know what actions are required there and how long they are to wait at each rally point before moving to another. 
(1) Initial rally point. An initial rally point is a place inside of friendly lines where a unit may assemble and reorganize if it makes enemy contact during the departure of friendly lines or before reaching the first en route rally point. It is normally selected by the commander of the friendly unit. 
(2) En route rally point. The leader designates enroute rally points every 100 to 400 meters (based on the terrain, vegetation, and visibility). When the leader designates a new en route rally point, the previously designated one goes into effect. This precludes uncertainty over which one soldiers should move to if contact is made immediately after the leader designates a new rally point. There are three ways to designate a rally point: 
(a) Physically occupy them for a short period. This is the preferred method. 
(b) Pass by at a distance and designate using arm-and-hand signals. 
(c) Walk through and designate using arm-and-hand signals. 
(3) Objective rally point. The objective rally point (ORP) is a point out of sight, sound, and small-arms range of the objective area. It is normally located in the direction that the platoon plans to move after completing its actions on the objective. The ORP is tentative until the objective is pinpointed. (Figure 3-2.) Actions at or from the ORP include--
▪ Reconnoitering the objective. 
▪ Issuing a FRAGO. 
▪ Disseminating information from reconnaissance if contact was not made. 
▪ Making final preparations before continuing operations; for example, recamouflaging: preparing demolitions; lining up rucksacks for quick recovery; preparing EPW bindings, first aid kits, and litters; and inspecting weapons. 
▪ Accounting for soldiers and equipment after actions at the objective are complete. 
▪ Reestablishing the chain of command after actions at the objective are complete. 
(a) Occupation of an ORP by a squad. In planning the occupation of an ORP, the squad leader considers the following sequence: 
▪ Halt beyond sight, sound, and small-arms weapons range of the tentative ORP (200 to 400 meters in good visibility; 100 to 200 meters in limited visibility). 
▪ Position security. 
▪ Move forward with a compass man and one member of each fire team to confirm the location of the ORP and determine its suitability. Issue a five-point contingency plan before departure. 
▪ Position the Team A soldier at 12 o'clock, and the Team B soldier at 6 o'clock in the ORF. Issue them a contingency plan and return with the compass man. 
▪ Lead the squad into the ORP, position Team A from 9 to 3 o'clock and Team B from 3 to 9 o'clock. 
NOTE: The squad may also occupy the ORP by force. This requires more precise navigation, but eliminates separating the squad. 
(c) Occupation of an ORP by a platoon. The platoon leader should consider the same sequence in planning the occupation of an ORP. He brings a soldier from each squad on his reconnaissance of the ORP and positions them at the 10, 2, and 6 o'clock positions. The first squad in the order of march establishes the base leg (10 to 2 o'clock). The trailing squads occupy from 2 to 6 o'clock and 6 to 10 o'clock, respectively. 
(4) Reentry rally point. The reentry rally point is located out of sight, sound, and small-arms weapons range of the friendly unit through which the platoon will return. This also means that the RRP should be outside the final protective fires of the friendly unit. The platoon occupies the RRP as a security perimeter. 
(5) Near-and far-side rally points. These rally points are on the near and far side of danger areas. If the platoon makes contact while crossing the danger area and control is lost, soldiers on either side move to the rally point nearest them. They establish security, reestablish the chain of command, determine their personnel and equipment status, and continue the patrol mission, link up at the ORP, or complete their last instructions. 
End Block quote. 
Simply put a rally point is a place your group plans to meet if they become scattered. 
Rally points need to be readily identifiable. Saying 400M west won’t work. Have a scattered confused half asleep people try to do that and they will all end up in different spots. On the other hand an identifiable feature such as ‘the abandoned car by the blackberry patch’ is much more doable. 
It is important to consider the circumstances which would lead you to using a rally point. Here are two considerations.
1- A rally point needs to be out of the immediate affected area of the thing that is causing you to leave. For a house fire it might be 50 yards. In violent situations a rally point out of the immediate area (say sight/sound and rifle fire) is appropriate. This distance varies by the terrain. In a city it might be a couple blocks, in dense woods it might be a couple hundred yards. In the plains or desert it might be much further. If you are worried about a problem at the nuclear power plant it might be 10 miles. The point is that you want to reorganize and reconsolidate outside of the immediate threat of the event.
2- Does it matter if people can see you? If you aren’t worried about people seeing you (house fire, concert, etc) then it doesn’t matter. On the other hand if you are worried about being arrested or attacked then you need a more discrete rally point

In a benign but still important civilian context this could be where you meet in a fire plan.
For the sake of this discussion we will make up a family named the Smiths. They are survivalists. The family is made up of the parents and two children who are 8 and 10. Old enough to generally follow basic guidance if it has been practiced but you wouldn’t want them traveling distances alone.
The Smith family has a few rally points for different situations.
Fire- The big oak tree in the front yard. 
The oak tree worked great for a fire but fails the common sense test for danger because they want to escape whatever the danger was. While outside the scope of this article they need a plan. 
Attack- Two rally points. Water and fire. Water is an old broken down pump shack 300 yards away in the woods roughly east of their house. Fire is a small old fire circle some kids used to use in a little depression a couple hundred yards generally west. 
Both of these have an alternate point that leads in the direction of their planned route of evasion. That is outside of the scope of this post and recommend looking at John Mosbys posts on escape and evasion. 
With these rally points the family needs a plan. 
Maybe the plan is for Dad engages the threat at a high rate of fire, ideally with a large capacity weapon like a 75 dr drum for his AK. Once Dad ‘has their heads down’ Mom (with a light pack and her rifle) moves out the side door with the kids, makes for the treeline then heads to the old pump house 300 yards away on the back corner of the property. 
The plan is for Dad to give them a minute to get free then he follows. Dad moved in a different direction and takes a halt at the top of a crest with a big log there and waits a few minutes to see if he is being followed. If it seems quiet Dad moves to the rally point to link up with the rest of the family. 
Moms plan is to wait for 15 minutes or until she hears a continuation of gunfire (after the presumed break when Dad bolts from the house) and then move to an alternate location further away. 
For patrol base/ camp or I would think a home having 2 rally points in opposite directions is the common practice. If the attackers are to the east you would go to the western one and visa versa. Of course in the real world they won’t be exactly 180 degrees apart but they should be in generally opposite directions. 
It would be prudent for the family to cache some supplies at these rally points. Common sense tells us if they have to flee for their lives at 3 am they won’t be idling along with 100lb ruck sacks. A small (certainly sub 40 lb) backpack could be doable but that might not even happen. Say they stash a little bit of water and food, some medical stuff for trauma or boo boos and some loaded mags for their rifles. 2x 5 gallon buckets should do. 
Lastly they have a plan for if they are separated and there is a disaster at the Nuclear base, reactor, spill on the train tracks. The plan is for Dad to get the kids since his work is closer to their school. Mom will probably be home so she will grab as much stuff from the list as she can and head out. After accomplishing their tasks they will leave separately without waiting. They will meet at the Denny’s in a town 20 miles away.
When they travel they want a plan should something happen. Remembering different points is complicated and mundane for a road trip. They have a floating plan (which would really only work in a city type environment) so should they become separated they will meet at the nearest McDonalds. If the McDonalds closes they will go to the nearest Greyhound station. The goal here is places every decent sized town has which are fairly safe and where it is not unusual for a person to wait for some time. 
I may write about this more but my intent is to give you some ideas.
Got Rally Points?


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Repost: How To Not Get Killed In a Riot

 In light of the rioting in Ferguson MO after the grand jury failed to indite the officer in the shooting of Michael Brown it seems like a good time to recycle this post. So here we go......

I have posted a bunch of videos of the LA Riots and talked a bit about how to be safe in a vehicle. Here are some thoughts on how to survive a riot. Check out this article and this for background. To be blunt riots tend to occur in urban areas with high percentages of lower income people. Riots happen in or near the Ghetto. Think I am being judgmental? When there is a riot in Beverly Hills I will formally apologize to everyone. Of course someone will invariably mention that there are no riots in Wyoming or something like that. While that is true lots of folks are in places with higher then desired riot potential because of work, family, a home they can't sell, etc. I am mainly speaking about dealing with a riot in the area where you live.

The biggest thing is to be aware of what is going on. Watch the local news or listen to local radio shows that have some news, reading a local paper is another alternative. We don't get networks ( dish network) so I listen to local radio show in the morning on my way to and from work. If nothing else just having the radio on a local station is a good idea. If things go completely nuts most stations will give out warning and such. Reginald Denny definitely would not have taken that route if he knew what was going on. Hindsight being 20/20 taking a sick day (even without pay) would have been a good idea. [Updated 1/25/14 to include: for a sick day go with something embarrassing and gross. Explosive diarrhea is a good one.]

Another cautionary tale. A guy I know was driving across the country from Oregon to Ft. Benning during the LA riots. His car didn't have a radio so he listened to The Clash on a boombox the whole time. He pulled into Atlanta to sleep for the night. Luckily nothing happened but he was completely clueless to the rioting in Atlanta. The 1911 under his seat would probably have been sufficient but had he been informed discretion would have been the better part of valor and he would have been wise to take an alternate route.

Now that we have spoken about staying informed the simple and logical reaction to a riot in your area is to leave. If you watch the news for powderkeg situations (cops using arguably excessive force on a minority seems to be the biggest one here) there should be some warning. Throw everything irreplaceable and high value compact items into the car and go somewhere else for a few days. Unless your livelihood and life savings is in a store I would get the heck out. This is not quite as much of a BS non answer as telling you to live in Wyoming. For whatever reason lets say that things happen so fast leaving isn't an option.

Here is what to do to be prepared for a riot in the Ghetto where you live. This is what you need to get ready now. Most of this stuff is pretty basic for anyone who spends much time on this site or others like it.

1. Have enough food and water to stay in your residence for at least a week, two is better. Most riots don't last that long but lets play it safe. Having a plan for cooking and sanitation if the power goes out is also a good idea. A radio which works when the electric is off would be a good idea. Options are numerous but picking up a couple extra sets of batteries for the cheap boom box that seems to live in every home would be a simple solution. At least one fire extinguisher is essential, two is better.

The great thing about this is that you now have the basis for dealing with natural disasters, blackouts, winter storms, or whatever else comes along. Some stuff is different for every scenario but regardless of what is happening you will need to drink water, eat food, go to the bathroom and stay informed as much as possible. Our basic life needs stay the same no matter what is going on.

2. Have a plan for getting yourself (and all loved ones) home that keeps you off public transportation and main roads. Have plans to stay away from choke points and such. Obviously children under a certain age will need to be picked up from child care or school. Depending on the circumstances kids 16 and over might be able to get themselves home. Route planning and maybe some sort of a GHB would be a good idea. At absolute minimum for a short trip home comfortable clothes, walking shoes and a bottle of water are a good idea. If work requires you to wear something else just stash some stuff in your car or at work. I could write a whole lot more about this subject also.

Getting home and the plan to do so is probably the piece of this whole thing that will change the most for different scenarios. In any case having comfortable seasonally appropriate clothes, walking shoes/ boots, some water and a snack is a pretty darn good start.

3. Have a reasonable stash of defensive firearms and ammunition. This is not the place for me to write 1,000 words about guns so I will sum it up. Have at least a centerfire pistol and a repeating shotgun with a couple hundred rounds of ammo for each. A basic four (shotgun, centerfire rifle, centerfire pistol, .22) would be better. Every competent adult having a pistol and a long gun would be the best scenario. Unless your kids are old enough to handle firearms in a crisis (far different than plinking with the .22) this would just mean picking up a spare pistol [to make logistics and compatibility easier stick with one caliber of wheelguns (example .38/.357, etc) or one model of auto's(1911, Glock 19, etc all)].

Having some defensive firearms is essential for hurricanes, riots and such is essential. Even for a blackout having some guns is comforting as the peaceable fabric of society gets stretched a little bit. Get some guns and a reasonable stash of ammo is just good advice for life.

Now that you've got chow, a plan to get home from work and weapons to defend yourselves once you get there, that is a great start. Here is what to do a day or so after some cops beat or kill a guy and people get all mad then proceed to hurt, rob, burn and rape the heck out of their own neighborhood which you happen to live in or around. Things are going nuts in your immediate area and it is too late to leave.

1. If you are at home with your loved ones stay there. Call in to work and say whatever you need to; the bottom line is that you aren't coming in until things cool down. If you and all your loved ones are not home then do the following:

A) Tell the boss you need to get home. Help batten down the hatches at work but get out of there pretty quickly. If your boss is such an a hole that he wants to keep the store/ office open when you can hear gunshots and see fire then flip him the bird and walk out.

B) If you have kids beat feet (or whatever else the plan is) to them and then strait home.

IF YOU HAVEN'T PICKED UP ON THE MESSAGE THE GOAL IS TO GET OFF THE STREET AND INTO YOUR HOME!

Now you are home so more then half the battle is won. Here is where there are two options depending on your scenario.

2. If teaming up with some neighbors (Korean merchants and the You loot we shoot guys come to mind) for localized (think very small scale on this one) security is possible that would be a good course of action. You and a couple neighbors are not going to be able to win a fight with every looting a hole. However if they see guys with rifles and shotguns on the roofs on the western side of the street and no one with guns on the eastern side of the street where do you think they will go?

2B.Your neighbors are hiding in their closets in the fetal position or are out burning down liquor stores. In any case you are on your own. Broadly speaking you are in a house/ duplex or an apartment.

If you are in a house/ duplex either sit on the porch with a shotgun in your lap or stay inside with the blinds down. If people are mainly just looting being on the porch with a glass of ice tea and a pump shotgun will dissuade them from coming in your yard. That being said if the crowd is intent on committing violence to whatever race you happen to be (usually this is white people or whatever the minority in the neighborhood is, Koreans were also targeted in the LA Riots) then stay inside. Maybe keep a sign like this in the garage to put out front.

If you are in an apartment and the neighbors are not capable or willing to help then stay the heck inside. There are too many ways someone could easily get up close to you and too many people (neighbors) have the right to be walking around for you to stand around and try to defend the place. Hopefully you do not live on the first floor. Looking out the window through a lifted mini blind while playing spades with your significant other is probably the best thing you can do. Having something to bar the door that can be readily moved should you need to would be a good idea.

3. Now that you are home and more or less safe STAY THERE. You have food, water and life's other essentials so don't frickin leave. It is boring and mundane but you are safer then anywhere in the immediate area. STAY PUT. If you smoke keep a carton in the house. If you drink (drinking to any excess would be a very poor idea in this situation) then keep some around. Whatever stuff you would leave home in search of have a few spares at home.

To the best of my knowledge most people who have got into problems in riots were out and about. IMHO aside from being at a family members house or a motel 300 miles away watching the neighborhood burn on TV the safest place you can be is your residence. The only reason I would leave my residence in a riot is if it was on fire. If someone was moving toward my residence with the clear intent to set it on fire (ie Molotov cocktail, etc) they would die of acute lead poisoning.

Thoughts?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Worst Case Scenarios Army Style

The topic of worst case scenarios comes up a lot in the Survivalist community. I got to thinking about them and then unconsciously started using the type of thinking I am indoctrinated to on the problem. Not saying it is the right way parse; unlike some obvious cases such as tactical gunfighting or battle drills where that is what we do there are a lot more options here. This is just a way I am used to dealing with problems. Figured you all might be interested.

Do not plan on fully getting into intelligence preparation of the battlefield today. It is good stuff but well today is Friday so I just dowana. So I'll skip some parts, briefly touch on some parts and dig into what I feel like.

We start by defining the environment we will be operating in. Next we evaluate the threat. First we look at how the threat would fight in an unconstrained environment. For old school conventional fights against folks who have and use doctrine, like the Russians, it is pretty simple to accurately lay out how a mechanized company will act in the defense (or whatever). Now it gets interesting.

What happens now is we apply their order of battle to the terrain/ environment and come up with a situational order of battle. This is how we think the enemy would be arrayed in the current operating environment. After that we look at the enemies potential courses of action.

Right or wrong we typically look at 2 courses of action most likely and most dangerous. The most likely is just that, what we expect the enemy to do based on their tactics, the terrain, etc. Most Dangerous is if the enemy decided to go 'all in' with an aggressive high risk/ high reward plan what it is what we think they would do.

What we do after identifying the templates two plans is figure out the differences between the plans. Those differences are targeted as part of our overall intelligence collection plan to hopefully determine the enemies disposition (most likely, most deadly or something else). Along with high value targets these differences will make up the bulk of our intelligence collection efforts.

It is worth mentioning that neither the most likely COA or most dangerous COA are exaggerations or fantasies. Both need to be grounded in the enemies capabilities and if possible historic activities.

Obviously you will not be looking for the enemies scouts to be templated at location 1 vs location 2, obstacles in a given location or battle positions to determine between 2 COA's as a survivalist. However the principle is the same.

Example time:
Lets say Bob thinks our country has real economic problems. He sees the best case as 8-15% real inflation coupled with a stagnant economy a la late 70's to early 80's stagflation. The worst case he sees is a complete economic collapse of Argentina like proportions. So obviously Bob will not be templating these COA's on acetate then looking for the differences. He will however be identifying the differences all the same.

Some differences might be:
-Continued increase in the monetary supply (most dangerous)
-Rapidly increasing inflation (most dangerous)
-Decrease/ a slowing of the increase in government spending (most likely)
- Slow increase or steady inflation (most likely)

Next we would need to drill down those differences (Priority Intelligence Requirements AKA PIR) into specific identifiable indicators. We will do this for one of our PIR:
-Rapidly increasing inflation (most dangerous)
        -Inflation above 9%
        -Inflation increasing more than 1% in a month
        -The spread between inflation as measured by .GOV and Shadow Stats increasing 25% in a month.

Anyway after a bit more consideration I will share my thoughts on Worst Case Scenarios.

Imagine a bunch of drunks driving around with a trunk full of dynamite to get revenge on a psycho murderer during a tornado. There are multiple risks in play. It should be noted this method only really works to compare similar courses of action (in this case risks). It would not work to compare an economic collapse to a pandemic or Chinese invasion. Looking at 2-3 areas that worry you could be assessed between most likely and most dangerous to determine whether the drunk guy behind the wheel will drive you off a bridge, the tornado will get you or the dynamite will blow up. Hope my iffy analogy makes sense to you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I ran 3 miles this morning leaving me with 21 left to go for the month. My NCO counterpart nicely told me that I am about 5 days behind being on glide path. That being said needing to do 2.1 miles a day or 2.6 if I don't run on the weekend (which my record on is pretty bad) is pretty manageable.

Picked up a spare filter for the Katadyn filter. The whole intentional purchase plan lead to making a purchase that has been languishing on the list for a couple years now. This is a good thing. 

Also did some looking at which tools and equipment fit into each of our systems. So many ways that can go. I have got some thinking and maybe tweaking to do.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Also remember that our giveaway of a copy of Stacey's Quest will run for only 2 more days.  Hurry up and enter today!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Letter to my sister- Communication and Bug Out Plans

I got to talk to my little sister for awhile today. Not doing a great job of keeping up with them in general, and especially since I have been here is a failure of mine. Anyway she is doing pretty well. Also making some good progress in preparedness. She has a loaner pistol, a modest on hand stash of cash, a growing stash of food and a coleman stove as well and camping gear. Her next plan is to stock up on fuel for the stove. I suggested some more staple food (pancake mix, rice, etc) because it can feed you for a long time for not a lot of money and is good to have around in general. She asked me about communication today. After talking a bit I realized what she really meant was communication and plans. Without getting into too much detail if things get hairy she is going to travel approximately 25 miles to a place with a better setup. She would have 1 child and 1 adult coming along. I told her I would think on it a bit and then write a post. So here we are. Obviously if cell phones, the internet and landlines are all functioning it is pretty easy to make a plan. If you need my help with that one I don't think there is anything I can do for you. Obviously we are talking about times when modern communications such as we know and come to rely on them are not working at optimal levels. There are numerous reasons this may be but the end results are the same so no point in discussing them. Interestingly my little sister is young enough that by the time she was self mobile and active with a part time job, friends, etc she had a cell phone and pretty much everyone else did also. Being able to call anybody, from anywhere, at any time is basically a given for probably everybody below the 35-27 year old (depending on exact location, socio economic status, etc) range. There is a reason that my sister said communications and I am focusing in on plans. Communications for if power/ cell phones/ the net are not working is pretty doable if you are willing to work at it AND THE OTHER PEOPLE YOU PLAN TO TALK TO ARE ALSO. First of all a simple land line with an old corded phone solves most problems as phone companies have batteries that will run the length of most power outages. So for the cost of keeping a land line you can typically make calls to other land lines. Personally I don't have many plans at this time that rely on being able to talk to anybody so it is not worth the expense. However that is different for everyone. The more complicated question is how to talk when you and the person you want to talk to are not both at places with a land line, and know where the other person is to call that line.

FRS (family band, the motorolla type you see families with camping, etc) radios are line of sight. I say again these radios are line of sight. I have personally used them for over 10 miles but it was ridge to ridge in the mountains with nothing but air in between. In the woods, flats or town a range measured in hundreds of meters is probably realistic. These you will have to test in your AO but they do not have the range to be useful outside of your farm or neighborhood in any case. The next options is CB radios, yes like the kind that truckers use. I do not know a ton about these other than that you can buy them at radio shack or on the internet and that everyone has a cool name called a handle. These are nice because also like FRS you do not need a license to operate them, at least IIRC correctly. These are far more powerful than FRS and have a much longer range. I'm not positive but I think several miles is quite realistic. I've heard you can boost the power and thus the range drastically but that is not legal. These are probably good for talking across town or to the next town a couple miles down the road and a good part of the county. For most families these would probably be a good solution. Modest cost and modest hassle for a pretty good range. To get further there are two viable options that I can think of ham radio and satphones. Ham radio is more of a hassle than CB but not overwhelming I don't think. It is on my list of things to do. Satelite phones are a great option but at great expense.

Sometimes I answer a question in a very different way because I know what people mean. My sister said communication but MEANT PLANS. Her, BF and whomever else could get CB's for less than the price of a one night getaway to a large regional city and be able to communicate easily if they so choose. Of course it should be noted that these radios are not secure and are in fact the equivalent of yelling in a large dark room full of people. Everyone listening might not know who is talking but they hear the message. However for this type of scenario assuming you keep conversation relatively vague and do not mention your super secret bunker or convenient to access huge stash of Krudgerrand's it is all good. Most of the desired communication is so generic it would not matter. Useful conversation like "I am near X so it is more convenient for me to pick up the kids, see you at home" would be just fine. The root issue however is plans.

Plans are a very broad topic which would be impossible to address fully in a post. IIRC another guy did a great post on this topic once but I cannot remember or find it to link to. Simply put you need a plan on how you are going to go from a variety of everyday situations (at home, at work, running errands, kids at a friends/ school/ daycare, etc) to wherever you are planning to go (home, a relatives house, a bunker in the woods, etc) with whatever stuff you think would be useful under a variety of circumstances including closed roads, downed bridges, possible riots/ security issues. Travel through dense urban areas, areas with numerous choke points such as bridges or tunnels and just plain long distances substantially complicate planning and decrease the odds of a successful trip under bad circumstances. Driving through the burbs out of town to your uncles farm 50 miles away is probably a strait forward plan, unless there are 2 sets of projects and 6 bridges along the way. The good news is that if you had to rate the complication of these trips from 1 being super easy and 10 being cross country starting in NYC the trip my sister plans would be about a 1.5 as there are a few areas which are denser than I would like and a choke point or two.

Since the route is not an issue the big thing is getting everyone consolidated and ready to go in a quick orderly fashion. Numerous questions must be thought through in advance. Do you leave work or finish the shift (what is the decision point between the two)? Who picks up the kids? What vehicle(s) are you taking? What stuff is getting packed? Where is it? If someone does not make it home right away how long do you wait or do you go without them? If you go without them what supplies do you leave behind? What stuff is most important for you to take? These questions cover a lot of ground which is why it is best that you do not decide this stuff on the fly, or even worse on the fly when you and an important family member (spouse, adult child, etc) are not together. The consequences for you zigging and them zagging could be significant ranging from unpleasant (them sitting in a cold dark house eating uncooked food) to downright disasterous. Having the ability to communicate helps a lot but radios fail when you need them most so it is better to figure this stuff out. You need to know that if there is a terrorist attack or a riot your husband is coming home but if there is a bad snowstorm he might have to finish the shift. Maybe the plan for one scenario is for the fam to wait a little while to link up at home and for another (snow storm comes to mind) they will head out separately. This is where having a plan for packing is key. Obviously every adult would need their defensive weapons (a pistol is enough for most of these scenarios and that is just because you should carry one anyway), their 72 hour bag and standard car emergency stuff. Combat loading is probably a good idea for the rest of your stuff. Simply put combat loading divides stuff into smaller groups based upon suppying a sub group, instead of all like items. That way if a boat/ plane or truck goes down it does not have all the ammo, fuel, food, etc. This would be most important if you plan to leave separately and or take multiple vehicles. One car having all the clothes and shelter stuff, another the food and a third the ammo and fuel would be a bad plan.

I know this covered a lot of ground and I am not sure where else to take it. Any questions?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reevaluating

Realizing that a plan is not working is hard. First of all, especially if the plan has a timeline measured in weeks or months instead of hours and days, some sort of deadlines or record keeping are essential. It is fine and dandy that you weigh 200lbs and can do 12 pullups, unless you  have been trying to weigh 180 and do 20 pullups but have been stuck in the same place more or less for a year. Clearly something is not working as well as you would like.I know a trainer who mercilessly mocks the fat girls who go to the gym and do 20 minutes at a leasiurely pace on a glider while reading a magazine. He says they are always still fat 6 months later. Mean but pretty true.  Maybe you have been working on baby step 1 (saving $1,000) for 6 months and have only stashed $500. For a single mom or family on a real tight income that might have been very difficult and genuinely the best they can do. However for most folks if they took a look at their behavior and had a few less five dollar Cappachino's or Carmel Machiato's and evenings drinking microbrews at a hip pub they could have been well into other goals (baby step 2 or saving a solid emergency fund, whatever) in that time. It is also hard because we have to admit that our brilliant plans didn't quite work out as well as we hoped. Nobody likes to do that.
 
I have had to admit failure in my own life recently. My exercise plan isn't working as well as I would like. I am getting stronger and increasing muscular endurance but not losing any weight or drastically improving my running/ cardio. I am ratcheting down on my diet and going to drastically up the amount of running and cardio that I do. Remember that you can never be too strong, just too slow.
 
If you  are not meeting your goals then start changing things. Maybe you aren't being very honest with yourself or maybe the plan just isn't working. Admitting failure sucks but not as much as continuing to fail.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Got Goals?

I don't think I can really express exactly how important goals are. I am not going to say that all people who are successful (in terms of finances or preps) make goals but I will say that most who are not successful do not do a good job of goal setting. It is really hard to get where you want to go if you do not know how you are getting there.

Lots of folks do their goal setting, revising and tracking in different ways. I really think this is an 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' sort of situation. If randomly coming up with goals and just keeping them in your head ( or whatever) works that is great. However if it doesn't work then moving to establishing written goals and reviewing them at some set interval will likely help. In particular I think that writing goals down helps when a goal is complicated or will go over a long enough timeframe that it may start to slip your mind.

I recall somebody once saying that a goal without a timeline is a wish. Looking at a specific timeline and breaking a task down to effort and money required in a given period is really helpful as a reality check. Clearly laying out your goals helps in figuring out the total amount of time, energy and money required to complete them. That flows well into my next point.

How ambitiously do you set your goals? I set goals from an optomistic perspective. I set goals that are doable if things go pretty well. That works for me because even if I fall short (as I generally do) I've still done pretty well. For someone who just hates not completing a goal shooting lower with goals that factor in a little (or a lot) of life happening wouldn't be a bad way to go.

I also think prioritization is important. It is particularly important if things go significantly less than ideal. Lets say you want to complete A-Z in a given period but find you are running short on time/ money/ energy. If you find yourself running short mid way through it helps to have thought about this and rank ordered your priorities so that you start at the most important and move to the least important.

To me goals are how we move foreward. They focus our effort, time and money on what we deem most important to move to the next place we want to be at. Without goals we tend to misallocate resources and waste effort. Think of it like land navigation where spending an extra 5 minutes to make sure your plots and routes are right can easily save 45 minutes of walking. Your goals are the route that gets you where you want to go.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Retirement Fun for Boomers and Beyond

I should note that I do not have a crystal ball or a product to sell which will magically fix all the problems I am about to discuss. I am also not an accountant or a financial advisor or anything like that so nothing I say should be seen in that light. By all means read what I say and think about it. If you decide it might have some merit then consider it in your plans. However don't just mindlessly put a lot of money into this or that because I (or anyone else) talk about it if you do that you are a fool and deserve all the bad things that could happen. Be an adult and make your own decisions because you will have to live with them.

With the slew of municipalities being broke and having insolvent retirement funds, corporations dumping pensions whenever they get any excuse and a whole bunch of states broke I would be concerned if a pension was going to fund my retirement. Heck even the federal government isn't doing so great. Consider what would happen if you pension was radically reduced or even defaulted entirely.

Also if you haven't noticed the USA has a real problem with welfare social security and medicare. Like the level of problem Charlie Sheen has with vodka and cocaine. Social security was started by commie FDR with benefits at 65 when people on average died at 62. Also there were lots of workers to pay for it. The numbers don't work and are rapidly getting worse. Too many people are retiring and not enough are working to pay for them.

I imagine a lot of small things will be done to try and bend the exponential curve of welfare entitlement costs.The are to collect full benefits will likely go up, well off people will be charged on more of their income (I think it's 100k right now), and some sort of a means test will likely appear. I believe all of this will only succeed in kicking the can down the road a few years.

Also more significantly generations X and Y realize we are never going to collect meaningfull social security. As boomer politicians screw us with higher rates of theft contribution we will get pissed. Pretty quickly we will get into an age demographic that votes at a far higher percentage and are a significant force there is going to be a reconning. I am not sure how we will screw you the boomers but I bet we will. Best case is that they are going to be paid in inflated dollars. On a more gloomy side it could be significantly inflated dollars. Worst case for them the welfare social security checks will stop entirely.

My point here is that you should plan for retirement without counting on a pension OR social security. If you can collect either of them then go for it. However personally I would want to be able to support myself without either and just have them as icing on the cake.

In an even darker scenario the dollar and subsequently paper investments denominated in the dollar could take a nasty hit. Maybe it could be a slow slide or a fast crash, I don't know. In any case the have money in investments and live off interest/ dividends plan would fail in this scenario. To be honest this is relatively unlikely (slow slide to a currency among many versus world reserve currency and a moderate loss in purchasing power is more likely) but it would be a bad one. Most retirees would be devastated. The truly rich would generally be fine (somehow they always are) but middle and upper middle class folks would mostly be destroyed.

What can be done for those who are worried about this relatively unlikely (the extreme version anyway) scenario? The first thing that comes to mind is to have your basic financial house in order. For those close to retirement age having very minimal or no consumer debt and having your primary residence paid off is so huge. I watch a lot of those financial shows and the amount of people who are trying to retire with car loans and very little equity in their home (let alone having it paid off) baffles me. If you are debt free and retire then something happens so you face a drop in income at least this way you can shred your expenses. It would suck but as long as you can pay property taxes, fuel and food you will be OK if not happy. However if your pension fund fails/ the stock market and subsequently your investments collapse and you have all sort of stupid consumer debt and a high mortgage payment it will get ugly fast.

My next thought also flows well with what is likely reality for most boomers. The reality is that many of them saved like they have a cushy defined benefits retirement plan when in fact they have a 401k. Too many of them continued to upsize their home and used home equity like an ATM instead of paying off their home. Fundamentally a lot of people are approaching retirement age and just can't afford to retire, at least in the way the Greatest Generation did. Some will be able to retire and live modestly (versus lots of travel and recreation) while others will need to keep working in some capacity or another.

The advantage is that earned income (vs from dividend's, stocks, interest, etc) is pretty flexible. You can, at least in theory, renegotiate the deal for future services to reflect a changing economic situation. That could mean getting paid to reflect the real value of currency, in a stable currency, PM or barter. Hard to do that with your pension or retirement account. If something this ugly happened a lot of people would be headed back to the workforce in a seriously damaged economy. The way to get ahead of the game would be by working in some capacity already. Maybe you could work part time, consult or just have a couple clients. Even a modest income could (in addition to making todays retirement economics more comfortable) be the difference between making it and not.

Where you choose to put your money is important also. I am not against precious metals for an alternate currency/ store of value but have concerns about them for retirement. The reason is that they do not benefit from interest, dividends, etc. Every silver dollar or gold eagle you spend is coming strait out of your principle.

The reason that truly rich (maybe wealthy is a better word) people do not get wiped out is that they own businesses and real estate that produce income for them. If currency values change radically a solid business will continue to earn some money. People will continue to rent apartments, homes and commercial space.

Things that produce income are good things to buy. A lot of the downsides of real estate (and to a lesser degree businesses) are minimized if you pay cash. I would rather have some money in the bank and the market and a modest rental house or twelve in decent areas earning me income than a bunch of money in the market.

I don't know what is going to happen so I hesitate to suggest putting all your eggs in any basket. If your finances are in order, you earn a bit of income and have at least some of your money in tangible things that produce income odds are you can weather whatever comes.

Thoughts?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Common Sense And Your Scenario

Having guns, training with them and carrying whenever functionally and legally possible is a good thing to do. However what gun rags and supposed expert instructors don't tell you is that there are a lot more important things you can do to protect yourself. For a second ignore the ' defensive experts' and listen to your Grandmother.

-Live somewhere that doesn't suck. Not much makes it more likely that you will have to deal with crime as having 3 crack houses on your block. Look at areas, local police reports and statistics. Don't confuse ritzy and safe as plenty of totally safe neighborhoods aren't fancy or expensive.

-Don't deal with sketchy people. Sketchy people bring sketchy stuff with them. This is a great example of a place where the difference between a good person and a good citizen is important. I know plenty of people who smoke a bit of pot and or break a couple laws or dodge some taxes that are fine people and are perfectly safe to be around. However when you talk about serious criminals and hard drug users they bring violence and crime like nobody else. Even if your hard drug using friend/ family member is a nice enough person sketchy stuff just surrounds them, I don't think they can help it. The dirty little secret the anti gun folks won't tell is that drug users/ dealers/ distributors are the reason you are 328% more likely to be shot by someone you know than a stranger. If you choose to spend time around them or especially allow them in your home I am certainly not saying you deserve what happens, just that you shouldn't be suprised.

-Get home early. The phrase that nothing good happens after 11 o'clock (well made a 9 o'clock movie but I digress) is just so true. Along those same lines if you like going out to taverns or bars I personally advise doing it earlier instead of later. You don't see a lot of stupid stuff happen at bars at 7 or 8 in the evening.

-Be smart about where and when you get money from ATM's. Getting cash in a rough neighborhood at 2am is just stupid. I can't remember a single case of a guy getting robbed at the ATM in a Barnes and Noble at noon. Also beware that some places are safe at one time but not another. An ATM in a vibrant down town shopping/ restaurant/ business area might be totally safe at 4pm but going there at midnight is just stupid.

- Keep information about your valuables need to know. It is pretty hard to keep someone from seeing a nice TV if they end up in your house for all sorts of reasons. However stuff like guns, cash, precious metals, expensive jewelry, etc is a bit easier. Sure close friends usually have a solid idea but outside of that handful of people this information needs to be kept only to those who need to know for some legitimate reason.

Even if you take all of this advice and impliment it there is still risk. There are some unique factors that can dramatically affect your risk. Your line of work is definitely a big factor. For example the odds of a bail bondsmen having a non random violent encounter with a criminal are a lot higher than a middle school teacher. I would be a lot more worried about my security plans if I was a cop in the organized crime department then as an accountant at a random company.

Are you in a cash business? This is a big risk factor. I have a friend who is in a cash business. To up the ante even more it is a cash business that is very seasonal. He makes most of his yearly income during one month.  He didn't advertise or anything but invariably more than a few people knew he was paid a lot of cash during the season. His personal OPSEC wasn't bad but the nature of his business sorta put him out there. A few years back there was a home invasion gang in his area. Not an elite paramilitary organization but a lot more than a couple random thugs. Somehow it became apparant that he was on their list and a couple SWAT cops lived at his place for awhile. For him it ended up fine but it wasn't so good for the first couple people that got hit. If you are in this sort of scenario I suggest some serious security plans.

The overall level of risk your area, profession and lifestyle minus the accomodations (above or similar) you are willing to make leave some degree of residual risk. This residual risk is a significant contributor in what sort of energy and resources you should put into cautionary measures.  I am torn on this one. On one hand life can be randomly dangerous, even if you are an insurance broker in Quietsville, Ohio. On the other hand it sort of makes sense. Stuff that you see an immediate need for is a lot more important than stuff you would sorta like to have around on general principle. For example this year a bullet proof vest is on my list, in fact it is pretty high on my list. Next year we will probably get another one. They are good things to have but I don't have a pressing ned and am balancing other concerns. However if I somehow ended up in a serious disagreement with 'Crazy Guns' Tony Guinn an enthusiastic local gangster both of bullet proof vests would be purchased locally at once no matter the premium.

I guess to me ones individual residual risk doesn't so much change what is ideal. A well thought out and comprehensive security plan is desirable for everyone. However I do think that where the components of this plan in terms of stuff, time and energy fall on your overall list of lists can vary widely by your circumstances. What might barely make one persons list for the year could be a 'this has to happen this weekend even if we've got to live on rice and beans for a month' type priority for another AND THEY ARE BOTH RIGHT! A strong reinforced door/ frame would be nice if you live in a pretty calm neighborhood. However if your third neighbors door got booted by goblins it has to happen now.

In conclusion I think you should take common sense measures to minimize your risk. I also think that you should take a look at your situation and the residual risk that remains. While everyone should have a well thought out security plan, depending on your residual risk level, it might be more urgent for some than others.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Years Resolutions 2011

I am doing things a bit differently this year. Breaking goals down Suze Orman style by people, money then things seems to be a good way of categorization. Some goals are going to be conducted consecutively. For things I took a stab at prioritization.

People:
1. Maximize family time. I think spending at least a hour of good undivided family time a day is doable on all but the longest work days. More on weekends.

2. Take better care of myself. I need to work on getting at least 6 hours of sleep even when I get off work late. Also I need to eat more regularly (I have started to get busy and just not eat) and like most people could also consume more green stuff. Find a suplimentary (to regular PT) exercise program that I can really stick with. I got busy and this goal sort of ebbed/ flowed and then just slipped away over the past year. I'm not in bad shape but could definitely be in better shape.

3. Better prioritize tasks and be more efficient.

Money:
4. Become debt free- Should be done in by the end of March

5. Fully fund ROTH IRA's for Wifey and I.

6. Add at least $500 (ideally $1,000) to our emergency fund.

7. Buy some silver. It is somewhat flexible but am leaning toward 90% coinage. I hesitate to say an exact amount because as I noted last year price swings change those goals from being realistic to unattainable.

8. Start funding Walkers college education.

Of course we will also continue to not make stupid choices.

Skills and Education

9. Study insurgent/ guerilla/ partisan tactics. This has the added benefit of being 'red hat' stuff for work.

10. Get better at first aid/ trauma stuff.

11. Shave with a straight razor. Sharpen it also. (implied task, get a straight razor)

12. Work on making antennas for world band radio’s and tuning into a variety of stations around the world.

13. Get better at using Excell. Particularly writing formulas to get the most out of what the program is capable of. This will help me with work, blog stuff, preps and life.

14. Learn more about IED construction, emplacement and use.

15. Read a couple of significant books. I wouldn't say classic but but old, noteable type stuff. In particular Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is on my list.

Alternates- Skills are an area where things seem more prone to changing due to factors beyond my control. I decided to come up with a few alternatives against that scenario.

Get better at making flat bread

Learn some HTLM

Get better with Powerpoint

Things:

Family/ Life:
16. Probably going to purchase another vehicle. A fairly low mile mid sized SUV with a decent sized 6 cylinder engine (3.5Lish or above) and 4WD. It goes without saying that we  will pay cash.

Prep Stuff:

I did a couple of things differently here. I broke stuff down by category. Also if you notice there are numbers after the goals. Those numbers are a tenative plan on what order I will acquire this stuff.

Force Protection Stuff-

17. 1x bullet proof vest. Probably class II or IIIA concealable type-2

18. 3x gas masks-9

Firearm Stuff-

19. Folding stock for my AK and a US palm grip-1

20. 500 rounds of .38 special-5.1

21. 500 rounds of 12 gauge buckshot-5.3

22. 1 case 7.62x39 hollow points-5.2

23. AK spare parts-11

24. Buy more mags. In particular a few more Glock happy sticks and a half dozen each for the AR and AK. I am not in a bad place but if I happen to have a couple extra C notes lying around in the late fall this is where they will go- 12

Food and Water-

25. 4x Berkley black filters-3

26. 1x Katadyn replacement filter-7

27. Nice solar oven-4

Energy and communication-

28. Bigger and better solar trickle charger (folding mat type)-10

29. Compact world band radio-6

Random

30. Get 2 spare Cold Steel folding knives (my EDC) and a leatherman for a rainy day-8

What are your thoughts about my goals? Do you have goals? If so would you like to share them in a comment or a guest post?

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve

I had wanted to put out the my New Years Resolutions for 2011 today. However it doesn't look like that is going to happen. I dodn't work on them much prior to now and would rather think about it a little more and have good ones in a week then mediocre ones now.

In the comments on a previous post a fellow mentioned the idea of  selling the 1903 Springfield. While the specific issue of its peculiarity that was in qustion is figured out, the topic stuck in my head. A bolt action rifle with iron sights isn't so useful. Its capacity and rate of fire are low for a defensive weapon and lacking a scope and the easy ability to mount one means it can't be a sharpshooter type rifle. I could sell/ trade it for another more useful weapon like an AK or part of something else. Scoping it could also give it a new purpose for hunting or as a sharpshooter. I will mull the idea for awhile. Most likely at some point I plan to sell a couple guns anyway.

Not a whole lot going on here for New Years. Went out for drinks and appetizers earlier which was nice. Just kinda hanging out for the rest of the evening.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Years.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

When Are You Done Preparing?

FerFAL was recently asked the interesting question "When Are You Done Preparing?". I found the question interesting and it sort of stuck in my head. I don't disagree with FerFAL's answer but I do see it from a different perspective. Here is how I see it.

It is worth discussing the difference between maintenance and growth (though not strictly money, also time, energy, etc) of your preps. Maintenance of your preps would be stuff like rotating foodstuffs, practicing to keep your skills fresh, etc. Growth would be stuff like increasing your food storage, learning a new skill, taking a class, buying guns, gear, etc.

I think a certain amount of maintenance is necessary lest your food goes bad, your equipment degrades and your skills atrophy. You've got to rotate food and clean weapons. Car kits and GHB's need to be periodically inventoried and have perishable contents rotated. Even the best shot will get rusty if he doesn't touch a handgun for a year. Personally I wouldn't classify this kind of maintenance as continual preparations. Now that we have that covered.

To the fundamental question "when are you done preparing?" I would reply "preparing for what?" Everyone has different concerns and worst case scenarios they are preparing for. If we imagine white being a very limited power outage and black being a full on genuine One Second After/ Mad Max/ Jericho TEOTWAWKI scenario there are almost infinite shades of grey in between. What you are preparing for has a lot to do with when/ if you can ever be done.

Lets say you are an average guy who lives on the Gulf or southern Atlantic coast. You are justifiably concerned about a hurricane. You know it can be difficult to get fuel in the run up to evacuation time so you keep a half dozen 5 gallon cans in the shed and make sure your vehicle is topped off during hurricane season. You know that the smart thing to do is to leave and you've got a plan with your Uncle who lives a few hundred miles inland to come crash there. You have maps and alternate routes planned out just in case.

Since Katrina showed you that it can be weeks before help can arrive and services are restored you keep 90 days of shelf stable, easy to cook foodstuffs around. A couple extra propane cans will let you cook just about forever on the Coleman stove you use for camping. Keeping a few extra big boxes of batteries will let you run the various flashlights in your house for some time. For water you picked up a filter at the local camping store. After seeing the madness of Katrina you ordered 500 rounds of buckshot for your 12 gauge in addition to whatever hunting loads you have lying around. You also purchased a handgun with a few spare mags and a couple extra 100 rd white boxes from Walmart. Last year you stashed a few hundred dollars in the gun cabinet just in case. Could this guy say that he is done preparing? I think so. Of course there might be a small hole here or there but the broad strokes are covered and he is in a decent spot for the scenario he is concerned with.

Someone worried about a genuine full on Jericho style collapse is probably never going to be done. They will just move from more likely and immediate concerns such as 'how will we eat next winter' to the more obscure and unlikely 'how will my grandchildren make metal tools to replace those which wear out'. A person worried about this kind of scenario is always going to be thinking of something new and trying to deal with progressively more unlikely scenarios.

Personally I do not think I am every going to be done preparing. I am going to have times where the growth slows or stops until I get to another stage (buying a home, having more space, getting some land, etc) over time. However in the big picture over time I am going to progressively work from likely situations to more unlikely ones. It is more likely that we will have to ride out a short to mid term disaster then that we will suffer an EMP or a super aids bird flu pandemic. Assuming the world doesn't end in a few more years I will likely be focused almost exclusively on relatively unlikely scenarios. It is just my nature to want to improve my situation.

It is the very last day to enter our Awesome Ammo Giveaway Contest. Hurry up and enter now so you can get a whole bunch of free ammo.

When are YOU going to be done preparing?
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