[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the uncomfortable truths of SHTF is that regular people start doing things they would never consider in their ‘normal’ life. All you have to do is read some of the real-life stories on Selco’s blog about his own experiences during SHTF in the Balkans, where he survived for a year in a city with no government, no food distribution, no running water, and total chaos. When the grocery stores are empty and no one has water or food, things get horrifying in a hurry. Think about what you’d be willing to do to take care of your own children.
All of this doesn’t even take into account the people who are already criminals, who already hold no value for life or property. These people will stop at nothing to take what you have, and if they have to kill you to get it, so be it. (By the way, this is another reason why you need to understand the area you live in and not just the area you play with your guns in.)
Do all of these people care what the hierarchy of your group is or when and where you train? Probably not. Will they care that you have a year’s worth of food set aside? Will the people on your Facebook remember that you took pics of your food storage or bragged about how much food you were able to can this fall? What about the proud announcement that you’ve finally closed on a cabin for your bugout location? Tradecraft comes into play as a part of an overall OPSEC strategy that starts now, not when SHTF or the government decides to start going door to door with a gun confiscation.
SHTF may not come as a natural disaster or other all-in-a-day event. It may be a steady breakdown of society due to economic issues or a whole host of things that could happen over time. It may even be a temporary situation, such as a flood. Some areas of WA State were in SHTF status this summer as wildfires rolled through an incredible amount of area, destroying everything in their path and leaving families destitute and homeless. I saw firsthand as people showed up to a shelter with nothing but the clothes on their backs. As the situation worsens, grocery stores empty, and people become more desperate, threats become more real. Grey Wolf Survival talks about the SHTF threat continuum in play in a temporary SHTF even lasting only a few weeks or months:
At first, the threats to your safety and well being are going to be pretty much only the water and associated threats like gas lines erupting or exposure.
Other people in this stage are going to be more helpful than they usually are. Consider that they may not be an immediate threat but that could change later. If you tell someone that you have a stash of supplies, it may not be a problem at the time. If the situation doesn’t improve in a couple weeks, that same person will be looking for your stuff. Look how many times you’ve heard about family knocking on the door of their crazy prepper cousin after nature bore down on the town. Neighbors are even worse.
We all know a guy who loves to advise everyone about prepping by talking about his own preps in great detail. He’ll tell you about his rain collection system and his huge stash of seeds, and every time you see him he’s talking about something else he’s added to his food storage or defense system. Right now you might be slightly annoyed and maybe even a little jealous. Later, however, he’ll have a target on his back because if he’s telling you, he’s telling others.
The human threats from the first stages of a disaster like that will come mainly from people who are potential threats normally. They’ll take targets of opportunity, and there’s a lot more opportunity in a SHTF scenario. As the natural threats change, more opportunities present themselves and people start changing their priorities. Their priorities will start heading down the hierarchy toward the more basic needs. The longer a survival situation lasts, the more danger from others will be present.
Again, this is an excellent reason why you need to be intimately familiar with the areas you live and work in. You might be on the other side of town from the “bad parts,” but keep in mind that criminals don’t often prep. That means they’ll be branching out to other areas and victims. Eventually, they’ll be in your section of town, and by then they will have probably picked up a few more members.
The next stage are the friendly threats. Basically, the sheeple who either didn’t prepare or didn’t prepare thoroughly. They’ll run out looking for water immediately and food and power soon after. They’ll see your lights on and invite themselves in. Your family, friends and neighbors are going to be the worst offenders here. This is where you stand in the window and stare out at them while drinking your ice-cold beer and go, “Fools! Told ya so!” This is one of the reasons why OPSEC is so important while you’re prepping. It doesn’t do much good to stock up for a month for four people if a week into it, six more join in and don’t bring anything to the table. These people may not be threats today but giving them critical information now will empower them later. Your OPSEC should start the day you decide to be a prepper.
How many friends and family have jokingly said, “I don’t need to prep…if it all goes to hell I’m coming to your house”? The thing is, they’re not joking. You can help them prep, you can point them to resources, but don’t give details.
The last stage is the gang and marauder stage…Some people will gather together into groups to protect themselves. A small minority of groups will gather together to take what other groups have. As the situation deteriorates, this minority will grow. You’re going to have to work together with people to join or start a group. These people that you join could potentially turn on you later. Be very careful about who you let into your inner circle. Friends and family can make the worst enemies.
Now that we’ve shown both the government and civilian side of the threat, let’s talk about the process in our next installment.