Beyond Bug-Out -or- What Next?

Since there are a few out there just now giving their impressions of whether you should or should not “Bugout”, I figured I’d post some oldies but goodies.


10 March, 2015

The Author of this post is an old acquaintance of mine whose experienced and learned opinion was always highly valued. His advice to me in the past, whether it was for a military or personal situation, was always spot on. It would behoove you to take what he says, put your fantasies and romantic notions aside, and think about his advice long and hard, before you repeat the typical  ‘Well, in my experience.” Target Interdictee mantra. I’ve come to expect this out of many on the blogosphere, when an opinion (even an experienced one) doesn’t fit in the typical “School of Thought Lunchbox” they are carrying. Whether it fits into the “Lunchbox” or not, Barry’s advice is a “thermos full of hot reality”, and leaving it on the counter before a long, cold day of work would be foolish.

vally forge

by SFC Steven M Barry USA RET


 Responding to a recent post, “Purpose Driven SHTF Planning,” by your administrator, “Mason Dixon Tactical,” this writer commented:

 “What I have noticed is that most of these SHTF conversations are purely sub-tactical and reaction focused. Good for a couple of weeks. Then… what?”

 Following a brief correspondence with this writer your administrator suggested that “what then?” be somewhat expanded for this forum.


 SHTF is an ambiguous and equivocal term. To render the term SHTF unequivocal for the purpose of this essay, this writer makes strict distinctions between what is SHTF and what is not SHTF.

 Financial and economic collapse is not SHTF. Government overreaching and onerous laws are not SHTF.  Rebellious (government sponsored) minority uprisings are not SHTF. Martial law is not SHTF. Those things (and much more) are merely logical consequences of the Constitution. They are just a slow, steady, methodical, and systematic decline into chaos, barbarism and squalor. Given all or some of those scenarios there will still be some semblance of order and there will still be some (may God have mercy on us) constitutional government such that it is.

 SHTF is here restricted to two things; (1) catastrophic natural disaster on a continental scale to the extreme extent of societal collapse (it is going to happen), and (2) WWIII, which necessarily results in societal collapse – albeit more or less locally and on a somewhat lesser scale (this will happen first).


 Obviously, in a truly SHTF situation “bugging-out” is simply a waste of time, effort, and logistics. There will be enough to do trying to rebuild something resembling community. Bugging out will be a help to nobody and nothing. One exception: Getting out of a city. If you don’t see it coming and if you’re in a city when SHTF you’ll have to shoot your way out. That you cannot do on your own. Basically, you are screwed.

 It follows then, that “bug-out” is a reaction to not-SHTF scenarios. It is important to be realistic about these things.


 Typical planning for one or the other ambiguous not-SHTF scenarios invariably revolves around the “bug-out.”

 Let us say there is the most dreaded worse case scenario — declaration of martial law. You just know you are “on the list” for the Gulag. You kit up, grab the “bug-out” ruck, your best militarily useful weapon(s), a triple basic load of ammo (for each weapon), rations for a week – maybe two. From the city or suburb you flee to the nearest National Forest by vehicle – through multiple checkpoints and flying roadblocks. Or from the rural areas you hike out or ATV (now you need to add several jerry-cans of fuel to your load-out) out to the mountains, swamps, or wherever you are going to “resist.” Wheresoever you aim for, make sure there is adequate parking.

 Oh… Wait. Family. Well, of course you bring them with you. So you now have three or five additional mouths to feed (rations for six people for two weeks – never mind water – do the math) and necessary kit for all which they themselves will hump into the base camp that is well off hiking and ATV trails because it is a hidden location and a most closely held secret. Maybe you can do better and be set up for four weeks. Regardless; in the end you will have weapons, a triple basic load of ammo, very cool kit – and a starving family dressed in camouflage. In the “woods.” “Resisting.”

 That is only for one person with family. Multiply the problem by the number of “like minded rugged individuals” and their families who will also bug-out to link-up at the formerly secret base camp. Formerly secret, because one or other of the females, or women-of-the-other-sex, or unisex brats will have bragged about it to somebody or other beforehand. Or worse, they’ll call somebody on a cell phone.

 Now, with fifteen or thirty people in a base camp you have two real problems (before you run out of food) – and those problems begin immediately. Problem number 1 is authority. Problem number 2 is field sanitation. The subject of authority is a separate subject and will not be dwelt upon here. It is sufficient to know that some one man (man!) must command; everybody else follows orders. Field sanitation is all important. The disciplines of latrines, field kitchens, garbage disposal, personal hygiene, camp police, medical care, water storage (and purification and usage) etc., must be rigidly enforced. Base camp field sanitation is a full time work. In the Old SF the Team medics were in charge of that work. In your case detail the women. The longer you are in base camp the more work there is.

 Security is also a full time work. Base camp security falls into the categories of far, near, and perimeter. Bluntly, you will not have enough people. The best you’ll manage is perimeter security, and probably not even that, which means that the first alarm of dire threat you’ll have is grazing fire sweeping the base camp.


 Given a not-SHTF event compelling a bug-out, by yourself and your family or in a very best case with four or five other “like minded rugged individuals” and their families; and given a base camp is somehow successfully established at the head of some draw in the mountains or an island in the swamps; and given you are not yet starving and the other “like minded rugged individuals” with their visceral hatred of any authority whatsoever has not resulted in the base camp degenerating into anarchy (normally, well within a week), the very important question is, “What now?

 That is an important question. If the response to that question is, “We will resist oppressive tyranny!” this writer responds “resist oppressive tyranny” is not a plan, it is a bumper sticker slogan. Objection: “We shall link up with other bug out groups.” Answer: How? Whose link-up plan is it? Who is in charge? Have you worked out the logistics of doubling your numbers? What is the strategy? There are many more very important questions. In this writer’s experience these and other questions are met with silence – and not because the answers are “secret.”

 Here this essay might easy close. But there is something you can do to help yourselves.


 Well, quasi-professional. Get ten or twelve of you together and join the National Guard. Split your enlistments between infantry, military intelligence, supply, and administration. The best (and acknowledged leader) among you go to OCS. Go to every military school available to you within your MOS. Get cross trained in every skill you can within your MOS. At the end of four or six years you have a cadre.

 Get it?


Barry is blunt, but Barry is right. Learn from the experienced, and adjust your planning accordingly. I always tell students that planning to “Bug Out” should be the”C” or the “E” in your “PACE” planning. It is a last resort, and honestly, unless you are in a non permissive environment already (read that as big city/high crime area), why would you plan on leaving your logistical support area (home) any sooner than a life or freedom threatening situation dictates? It’s easy to fantasize about some rich guy setting up a “base camp” somewhere in the mountains for you to go to, but reality is a bitch, and 99.995% of us will not have that option. The best you can do is a planned (preferably before the road blocks start) exit to the residence of a friend or family in the country (where you’ve already pre-positioned logistics for you and yours), or placing one or more supply caches in a remote area you plan on “bugging out” to.


American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

2 thoughts on “Beyond Bug-Out -or- What Next?

  1. SFC Barry is spot on with this one.
    I think most people with an IQ above room temperature decided long ago that 99% of the bugging out plans are simply not realistic.
    Unless you’re in the middle of a city/ large urban area, it makes more sense to “bug in”.
    You will have more gear and supplies at home, along with some like minded friends.The friends and you have plans for a SHTF event- unless you’ve spent all your time and $$ doing other things and not stockpiling stuff that will be useful in such a situation. In that case- you have a problem.
    It’s better to start building up your supplies now than it will be to have nothing stored up.
    Or… have fun trying the “I’m gonna live off the land by fishing,hunting,and trapping” fantasy.

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