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Monday, January 9, 2017

Guest Post: Survival Security

by George Groot
George is a member of our Facebook Group and has written for us before.

The Security Mindset
I wanted to write a post about what sort of military training could be useful to a prepper, and it isn’t learning how light infantry kick in doors and shoot people. If anything, it is the security mindset of someone who has had to live in a hostile environment and realize that they are surrounded by thousands of people who hate them and want to kill them and will literally glean through their trash looking to put together just enough clues to pull off a successful attack.

If you think that you’ll never experience living surrounded by thousands of people who hate you and want to kill you, just imagine being the one non-starving person in your community three weeks after the balloon goes up. It ill make living on a combat outpost in the backside of nowhere Afghanistan seem quaint--  at least the locals there weren’t on a timetable set by their stomachs.

The good news is that there are plenty of people out there with military backgrounds who know these things. The bad news is that they don’t offer classes on how to develop "professional paranoia" anywhere near as frequently as other veterans are offering classes on how to pie the corner a fraction of a second faster in CQB classes.

The security mindset is thinking about what could happen and how to prevent it from happening. Having an analytical mind helps in this regard, but anyone can increase their security mindedness simply by focusing on the subject.

Physical Security 
Physical security, or PHYSEC, is the processes and procedures that you implement to protect something from being stolen or damaged. What are your most valuable assets in a survival situation? How are you going to keep them under your control and not someone else’s?

No matter what kind of security you use, you need to think of it like a “fire rating” for a safe. More security buys you more time against a determined attacker, nothing more. (If you take away nothing else from this post, let it be that security = time,)

Alarms buy you time by alerting you to a threat before you detect the attacker with your own senses. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a centrally wired redundantly powered system, you can go as cheap as you want. Even dollar store door and window alarms are better than nothing as far as giving you a heads up.

Obstacles rarely deter intruders; they usually just buy you time to respond before your perimeter is breaches.  An abatis obstacle can be burned, wires can be cut, ditches filled, and berms flattened, but the amount of time needed to do that will give you options. You can stay and defend; you can displace and counter-attack; or you can bug out completely. In short, physical security allows you to have a chance not to be rudely awakened by someone shooting you in your sleep.

In your average human dwelling there is little in terms of cover (that which will stop a bullet), but lots of concealment (that which will prevent you from being seen). If you want to fortify your defenses, remember these rules of thumb:
  • A single stack of sandbags won’t stop anything. 
  • Obstacles that you don't observe aren’t obstacles. 
  • The harder you make it for someone to get in, the harder it is for you to get out. 
  • Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man, which means "know when to get the heck out." 
  • Your base doesn’t have to be impregnable, just a harder target than the others.
Barricade material can be bricks, five gallon buckets filled with sand, quick-set concrete mixed with local earth, thick planter boxes (don’t underestimate the defensive advantage of a concrete planter), or even just a berm of dirt formed high enough to stop a bullet. Avoid using flammable materials as much as possible, although tires can be quite useful for making a concealing smoke screen if positioned properly to burn. Old tires can also be stacked to make an impromptu wall, and if you have time to pack dirt inside, can be quite the barrier to bullets.

If you plan on fortifying your defenses, having a friend with a bulldozer and backhoe is ideal. Short of that, any mechanized engineering equipment is great. If nothing else, please invest in some decent hand tools such as D-handled shovels and picks. It is possible to dig a fox hole with an entrenching tool, but it sure isn’t any fun.

Short of “end of the world” earthwork fortifications, there are some things you can do to improve the security of your dwelling right now that don’t look out of place:
  • If you have a covered porch area, consider enclosing it with external walls and adding another heavy security door. This will let the porch area serve as a choke point, as attacker must breech the first security door and then the second, giving you some time to respond. Remember,  more time to react to an attacker means you have more security!
  • You can get security bars for the exterior ground floor windows. 
  • You can install thick concrete planters along the exterior walls of your home and plant thorny bushes in them. With this setup, going prone will give you some good protection against bullets and the thorns will deter people from getting too close. 
  • You can set up motion-activated lighting fixtures on a DC circuit powered by batteries and solar panels, but instead of light bulbs activating outside, you remote them to activate inside giving you a visual clue when there is movement in a sector (Personally, I’d leave exterior security lighting as-is during "business as usual" and remote the lights inside when the security situation deteriorated).
  • If you do nothing else, fortify your door frames.
The extent of your defenses is limited by your imagination and resources. Two cheap locks are better than one, and two really good locks are better still.

You have enough obstacles and alarms in place when you gain enough time to deal with a serious assault on your dwelling. Good defenses ensure you have a 3-to-1 advantage against attackers (the attackers needing three people to every one of your defenders to achieve equal combat power).

Operations Security
Even after the fall of civilization, you’ll still be a person with personal things to do. If your plan is to stay sheltered in place for as long as possible, you want as few people to know about that as possible. Don’t tell people what you have, where you have it, and what you plan to do with it. There is only a thin veneer on civilization, and starvation strips that right off.

To figure out what is really important to you as a prepper, ask yourself the following questions.
  1. What is my plan, and what does it need to be successful?
  2. What about my plan is vulnerable to attack or exploit, and what can stop it from success?
  3. How can I keep that information about my plan safe?
  4. What is the attacker’s plan/motivation?
  5. What is the most likely way that an attacker can gain information about my plan?
Once you have those questions answered, put them into a list form and then teach yourself not to talk about the stuff on the list. How you go about your life is key information that someone who see you as a resource wants to have, so don’t let them have it. 
  • Buy a cross cut shredder and shred everything. When a hungry non-prepper starts digging through your trash, you don’t want him or her finding a receipt for a pallet of food with a date stamp indicating you still have some left. 
  • Don’t post pictures of your awesome stash of preps on social media. 
  • Don’t “check in” to places using social media apps on a mobile device. 
  • Don’t share what doesn’t need to be shared. Just don’t do it. 
Personal Security
This is the good stuff, where I tell you how to Chuck Norris the hell out of people and come out of any situation a shining hero.

Well, not exactly. Personal security isn’t about winning or killing; personal security (PERSEC) is about “not dying.” If you want to train to be a warrior there are a lot of former military and law enforcement personnel who will be happy to teach you CQB tactics or even Light Infantry tactics. You can even sign up with Blackwater and get a defensive driving course out of the deal.

But what I think you should do is learn how to recognize the difference between cover and concealment in your surroundings and avoid confrontational situations as much as possible. If it comes time for me to kill someone because I have to, I want as much distance between them and me as I can get while I do that. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also train to draw from your holster (concealed or not) and fire -- you should -- it just means that you should be more focused on avoiding rather than reacting. The people I’ve worked with on Personal Security Details (PSD) have to know when to tell the primary “Sir, you are leaving now” and then get him the hell out of dodge. Always leave before you can’t leave.

The best thing I can tell you here is “Don’t look like a target.” This is as simple as not looking wealthy or out of place. If you can’t avoid that, then look as tough as you can.  Predators feed on the weak; they only attack the strong if there are no weak left to feed on. But looking tough means you attract the type of predator that wants credit for knocking other tough guys down a peg or two. If I have to choose between being forgettable and being the baddest looking mofo on the block, I’ll choose forgettable every time.


I wish that this article could pass on years of experience in learning to be professionally paranoid, but it can’t. However, you can become mindful about your security, and that will get you started down the path towards ensuring that what you have stays yours. Even if you find yourself away from your resources with no plan for the situation you are in, being security conscious will help you maximize the time you have to come up with a plan and execute it.

The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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