A while back we did up one of my personal favourite IP articles which took you through, step-by-step, a mock SHTF scenario and asked the hard questions of what you'd need to ask yourself in that same scenario.
Since it was such a fun article to write, I thought I'd take it one step further and do it again with a much larger-scale, longer-lasting, but still perfectly realistic mock scenario, this time taken from the book "The Reckoning: The Day Australia Fell", which I highly recommend reading if you haven't already.
The scenario is extreme, yes, but it is something that could potentially happen anywhere in the world, and has indeed actually happened before throughout history, in countries where no-one expected to ever see it happen.
In this article, I will point-by-point lay out a sequence of fairly realistic events that would happen during such an incident, and follow each point with a list of considerations that would need to be made by you.
As with the last article like this, the exercise is purely to get you thinking, checking over your gear, your skill-set and your knowledge, to see if you would be ready to face such a challenge were it to happen.
Now, the sequence of events in this article is not just made up out of thin air. Yes, the premise is from a book, but that is only because it poses an interesting example. The order in which things fall apart here, and the time it takes for them to do so are all based off real scenarios. Scenarios like the fallouts after hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. The fallout after Haiyan hit the Philippines. The social collapse of places such as pre-war Germany or, more recently, Venezuela. None of the events listed here are out of the range of possibility, though the scenario has been constructed in such a way as to provide one of the longer possible outcomes.
I hear too many preppers saying "I have guns and ammo. I can use those to get what I need." This attitude is wrong on three counts: firstly, no matter how much firepower you have, you cannot fend off an invading force. Secondly, you need to be completely certain that you could do the things necessary to get what you need using a firearm. Finally, you need to know that all SHTF scenarios have an end. And once they're over, you need to be able to pick yourself back up and go back to your life. Can you really do that if you've murdered twenty people to get the supplies you need? Be realistic about survival, and your chances of survival become far more realistic.
Ask yourself what would you do in answer to each of the considerations? And most importantly ask yourself... Are you ready?
Tuesday, 1:30pm. Gossip starts surrounding news of terrorist attack at a major airport of another city.
- What channels and methods do you use to get as much accurate, timely information that you can about the incident?
- Have you been following world events closely enough to be able to make certain assumptions based on limited knowledge of what's going on?
- What is your pre-planned system for dealing with such an occurrence? Keep in mind, simply walking out of your job may end up badly for you if this event is isolated and you need to still have a job the next day. Many preppers like to talk about what they'd do in various situations, but fail to think of the implications of their actions if and when order ends up being restored. You need to leave things in such a state that you can return back to your life if and when it all settles back down.
Arguments start surrounding details of attack. It becomes clear that there were multiple, simultaneous attacks at various airports.
- How do you deal with the aggression as panic sets in?
- How many people at your work know of the supplies you have with you?
- How will you handle the situation if panic takes its toll and people expect you to share your gear, taking into account point 3 from the last stage?
News comes in of ports also being attacked.
- How well do you know the layout of highways and their connectivity to the local ports?
- By this stage it will have caught on that this is not just an isolated incident and even the least savvy civilians will start panicking. What do you do to avoid the panic?
- Who do you contact and how do you go about it?
- Does everyone in your circle know what the plan is, and, more importantly, do they know where the line is of when to actually take action and when to stay put?
- Are you confident that you can not give in to panic with the looming threat of potential long-term disaster? Are you confident in your circle's ability to do the same?
You can see the city from your workplace. Smoke is rising from several, fairly scattered locations.
- Are you able to get to a vantage point where you can map out the best escape routes?
- Can you get a good view of major traffic thoroughfares which lead where you need to get to?
- Are you aware of multiple escape routes from your place of work in case one or more are compromised in the panic?
Power abruptly goes out.
- If a panic has not started yet, it is likely to now. How do you respond?
- Without power, you have a race against the clock with your mobile phone's battery before you cannot contact members of your circle and other loved ones. Do have what is required to circumvent this?
- Without the availability of the internet or television, do you have a means of accessing the media to get further information?
You decide to go home, but traffic is gridlocked, and public transport lines have been closed due to "public safety concerns".
- Do you have an alternate source of transportation lined up?
- If you had to, would you know how to get home on foot?
- If you don't know the exact way home, are you knowledgeable in navigation methods, both day and night, to get you headed in the right direction until you're in familiar territory?
Home is a good three to five hours walk from your work. You know that at this point, three to five hours can be the difference between relative calm and chaos. You decide to take a stealthy route.
- Do you have the knowledge, skills and ability to move stealthily when required?
- Do you carry a 72hr bag with you when you leave home, with enough supplies in it to last you three days abroad?
- Do you realistically have the fitness needed to make that trip on foot?
- Had you kept up to date with the enemies movements enough before bailing to be able to make educated decisions on areas you should avoid?
Despite the circumstances, you notice an absence of military and law enforcement. Opportunists have taken advantage of the lack of control for looting, but the ambient fear is keeping mob violence to a minimum.
- Are you skilled enough in stealth and grey man techniques to get away from the populated areas?
- Does you gear look inconspicuous enough to not make you a target for unwanted attention?
- Are you familiar enough with your route to know which places to avoid? Can you recall your entire trip from home to work by memory, including all of the different areas you pass through and what is in them? Do you know where the stealthiest route through each area would be?
Due to these obstacles, what should have been a five hour walk home will take up to twelve hours, requiring an overnight stay somewhere.
- Does your daily carry bag have the gear required for an overnight stay somewhere away from home?
- Do you have the necessary skills to facilitate a stealth camp?
- Do you carry food with you, as well as adequate means of hydration?
- Are you adequately equipped for extreme weather during an overnight stealth camp with just your daily carry bag?
You make it home and have access to your preps. Power is still out.
- Do you have a means of home defense that can stand up to any potential panic-looting?
- Do you have a means of entering your home in the event that you had your belongings (including keys) forcibly taken from you or lost during the trip home?
- Are your home preps suitably organised to be able to quickly gather the things that you'll need?
- Do you have an alternative means of power at your home in order to get the gear you need working?
- It may be night when you get home. With the power out, do you have easy access to a light source to be able to find and access your preps and move about your house?
Using the radio, you learn that what were thought to be terrorist attacks were the beginnings of an invasion as Indonesia - with backing from China - moves to take control of Australia as a part of a global power shift. Australia's allies are occupied in their own struggles, so external help is lacking. You make the call to take the night to prepare and then bug out.
- Is your home setup ready to be manned by a single person in the event of social unrest?
- Do you have established hiding places in the event that invading forces are searching for civilians or if local military are corralling people against their will?
- Do you have the knowledge necessary to keep your presence in the house unknown to passers by?
- Do you have the adequate equipment to be able to defend your property in the event of looting?
- As discussed earlier, does your defense plan take into account any potential ramifications post-SHTF event?
You load up your car with supplies and start heading out, but quickly hit gridlock. The lack of authority has led to improper road use as people respond in panic.
- Do you have the necessary defensive driving training to get yourself and your supplies as far as possible amidst such chaos?
- Do you have a vehicle capable of going off-road if the need arises?
- Do you have multiple alternative routes laid out mentally to get you to your bugout location?
- Does your vehicle possess adequate fuel supply, or do you have the means to transport extra fuel with you safely?
Time is of the essence as you can see people are leaving their cars as tensions rise and it's only a matter of time before someone notices your supplies. You grab your bugout bag and abandon the vehicle and road, headed for the scrub.
- Do you have a correctly prepared bugout bag which is "grab and go" at all times? Does it have the necessary equipment and supplies in it that you would need to genuinely bugout on foot?
- Are the clothing/footwear that you have left your home wearing suitable for extended bushwalking?
- Do you have an all-weather means of shelter?
- Do you have a way of distracting other people if needs be in order to beat a hasty escape without being observed?
Your planned bugout location is 100km away. A good 20 hours on foot at a good pace, and that's when not taking a stealthy route.
- Are you fit enough to hike 100km or more through bushland?
- Have you pre-planned your bugout thoroughly enough to take into account possible stealthy routes?
You have "bugout buddies" whom you know will be doing the same thing as you, but the communication network is down - most likely due to the invasion.
- Have you pre-planned an alternate means of communication?
- Do you possess a wide-range UHF transceiver? Are you familiar with its use and the various channels available?
- Do you have a portable means of listening to AM/FM radio or any national emergency broadcasts which you could use to determine information on their whereabouts or how they may be faring?
The 20 hours of on-foot travel to the bugout location will potentially extrapolate into 100 hours or more by incorporating the stealth required to avoid an invading force and other people. This means around 7 or 8 days of travel before reaching your bugout location.
- Your food supply that you're able to carry won't last this long. Do you know enough about edible plants to be able find more food?
- Do you have the ability and the skills to hunt for food? Keep in mind, this is an invasion scenario and you're trying to be stealthy. Using a firearm for this purpose will reveal your location.
- Does your bugout bag contain a sufficient means of water purification? Do you know how to find water in the absence of a natural source?
During your trek, you encounter a small band of looters. They become hostile when they see your gear and try to take it from you.
- Are you sufficiently skilled in defense to be able to protect yourself?
- Do you have any training with the use of a blade as a weapon?
- Do you carry any force multipliers to help ward off multiple attackers? Remember that this is an operation where stealth is paramount.
You survive and manage to escape the fracas, but have sustained an open wound which needs treatment.
- Do you have the required medical supplies in your kit to treat an open wound as opposed to a standard cut?
- Do you have some sort of trauma kit to deal with potentially life-threatening wounds?
- Do you have the medications, ointments, etc necessary to stave off infection?
- Do you have the medical training required to perform such a procedure on yourself?
You have to pass an open freeway running perpendicular to your path. No way around it and an industrial area follows it for a long distance in either direction, making cover limited. By this stage, you see that the invading force is using the freeways to distribute troops and set up supply lines.
- Do you have the knowledge of stealth techniques to be able to make the crossing unseen?
- Are you fit enough to climb, sprint, crawl, etc, as needed to make the crossing?
- Do you have the patience to take as long as it takes to get across?
You make it to your bugout point. It is remote enough to be away from danger for now. You need to set it up for a long stay.
- Did you bring a seed bank with you as part of an extended bugout scenario?
- Do you have a pre-prepared shelter at your bugout location? Do you have sufficient knowledge of construction in order to build one with the materials at hand?
- Do you have a thorough-enough understanding of horticulture to be able to sustain yourself as long as is needed?
- Do you have an understanding of water filtration and purification in order to survive off of it for as long as required, given that commercial filters only last for so long?
- Do you have the skills required to mask any fires you might make for cooking or sterilization?
As time passes, stragglers who made it away make movements near your camp. They don't currently know you're there and none have yet been lucky enough to stumble directly across you just yet.
- Do you have a plan to keep your camp secluded?
- Are you willing to do what it takes to keep potential threats away?
- Do you have the stealth skills required to move unseen in order to observe the stragglers and monitor their movements?
More time passes and your location is established. None of your "bugout buddies" made it, and it's been long enough to assume they haven't made it out.
- Does your range of skills cover all areas required to get by solo? Medical? Hunting? Horticulture? Engineering?
- Do you have the knowledge to set up your camp in such a way as to have an automated lookout system for while you sleep?
- The more difficult question is, do you have the mental fortitude to survive on your own for what could potentially be a very long time. This is a question that is very easy to say yes to, but very difficult to follow. Do you know any exercises used to help maintain your sanity?
On a hunt, you get an infected wound. You've been out long enough that the medical supplies you brought with you have run out.
- How thorough is your knowledge of herblore? Can you recognize medicinal plants?
- Have you prepared an adequate means of sterilization in your bush camp?
- Do you have enough medical training to recognize the symptoms of shock, sepsis and the like? Could you treat it without any conventional medicine?
After a few months, signs of jets overhead seem to show fighting going on. Most likely an attempt to re-take the country or at least the region you're in. You decide to investigate. Ranging wide you find a vantage point of high ground for observation. You see troops moving, smoke trails and, noticeably, internment camps where many of the civilians have been kept during the invasion. Things have not gone well while you've been away...
And here we leave the scenario... It could go various ways depending on how the re-taking of the country goes. This may sound extreme, but if you don't believe it could happen, read about the Holdout of Japan after WWII - in particular the case of Hiroo Onoda. He lived in the jungles of the Philippines for nearly thirty years, and he was able to remain so hidden and isolated that when he was eventually found, he refused to believe the war was over and his superior officer had to be pulled out of retirement to come and relieve him personally.
Now think of this long, drawn-out procedure and imagine how it would have went if the following were done:
- Close-enough attention was paid to world events to see the invasion coming before it happened.
- Survival caches were planted along the route from home to your bugout location.
- Your bugout shelter was pre-prepared and pre-stocked in advance.
- Milestone rendezvous points were organised, including a detailed acceptable timeline threshold for your bugout buddies, so you got your team together sooner.
- Alternative routes were pre-mapped in case of obstacle, including the locations of various sewer and waterway systems to help cross difficult obstacles unseen.