I have received a number of emails over the years askin’ how I plan for SHTF events. My answer for any type of planning is usually to use the “P.A.C.E.” concept as your guide, and it will give you multiple options and directions to go in your planning that you might not have otherwise. I have talked about this elsewhere, but I think it might be a good idea to go into some detail on how to prioritize and figure out your P.A.C.E. planning.
“P.A.C.E.” stands for “Primary”, “Alternate”, “Contingency”, “Emergency”. This model can be used for everything from planned food storage use, to your emergency response in a “Bug In-Bug To-Bug Out” scenario. With your food planning, it might involve things like the “Primary” category of foods being used after an “Event” are what is in your pantry that you have put up from your garden or livestock production. “Alternate” might be store bought canned goods that have also been put up, but that might have a higher shelf life, and are more easily moved if need be.
“Contingency” could be the freeze dried food and grains you’ve put away in buckets and that have a long storage life. They are bulky, require equipment for preparation, and are not as easily moved if you have to travel by “Shanks mare”. These items are what you might want to store at another location that you might be “Bugging To”. “Emergency” would be food like freeze dried retort pouches, MRE’s, or items like beef or deer jerky and trail mix. These items are easily packed and stored, they are easily carried on your back or in/on a cart if need be, and are easily prepared for consumption in the field.
In preparing the “Bug In-Bug To-Bug Out” P.A.C.E. plan, you might start it as follows. “Primary” is to “Bug In” at your residence. This is where you have the majority of you preps, and it is hopefully a prepared strong point for your defense. This choice has advantages no other option in the BI-BT-BO P.A.C.E. plan has. You are generally not as vulnerable in a fixed position like you would be on the road, whether you are in a vehicle or on foot. This option assumes you have identified key points in the site for hardening, and also that vulnerable locations have been hardened and secured to slow down or stop an advance in that given area.
Knowing how to prep and defend a fixed position is a key to survival in this choice. Learning how to identify key avenues of approach by the enemy, your best defensive observation and firing points, best area (most secure and least observable by bad guys) to retreat from the residence if necessary, and where a good rally point, upon evac of the residence is, are all basic Infantry skills needed for survival. I say they are “Infantry” skills and not “Fighting” skills because sometimes, the Infantry does not fight, they must haul ass out of an area to keep from being overwhelmed.
“Alternate” could be a plan to “Bug To” a friend or family member’s domicile by vehicle. This option has some risks, especially if you take too long to implement the plan, but compared to a move by foot, this is a breeze in certain key aspects. Downsides might be that you are confined to roads, and they are their own version of a “fatal funnel”. An upside is the ability to carry a lot of your preps with you to the “Bug To” residence.
Once again, some key “Infantry/Dragoon/Cavalry” (Dragoons were mounted Infantry who would ride to the fight, then dismount to “Do the deed”. Cavalry generally fought from their mounts) skills needed here are the ability to use the vehicle in the fight, whether it’s as a battering ram (not advisable for a non armored vehicle unless absolutely necessary and you know what you’re doing), fighting from the vehicle with weapons (short weapons come in very handy here), and the ability to quickly dismount to continue and/or finish the fight. The movie “Heat” comes to mind when I think of this situation.
“Contingency” planning for “BI-BT-BO” scenarios might involve the “Bug To” to your family or friend’s residence or property by foot. At the “Contingency” level, you don’t have the option to leave by vehicle. An advantage of the “Contingency”, compared to the “Emergency” level ,that we’ll talk about shortly, is that you can pre-position a lot of your supplies at the planned destination. This option makes it easier on what you have to carry for the trip to that location, because you don’t have to carry what you need for serious long term survival. You only need to carry the basics for the time you think it will take to walk there.
This option has certain implied Infantry tasks inherent in it’s planning. Planning for this type of “Mission” is a basic Infantry/Mountain Man task. Being able to fight and move (maneuver) on foot as a buddy team or Fire Team (FT has 4 shooters involved, and having that many actual, not bystanding, participants is probably a pipe dream in a SHTF reality), is a basic Infantry task. Living in the field is a basic Infantry/Mountain Man task.
Now to the “Emergency” level of “BI-BT-BO” planning. This is your least desired choice and will be not only the most daunting, but the most risky. In this scenario, you don’t have any of the above choices, or an above choice was implemented but turned into the “Emergency” option (Example: You started heading to your family’s farm. When you got there it had been over run by bad guys who now occupy it. Your vehicle was damaged and put out of commission during your escape from that situation, but at least you got away and down the road a bit).
In the “Emergency” option, you plan on carrying what you need on your back or in/on something like a game cart for a long term “mission”. How much can you carry for an extended period through rough terrain perhaps? Do you have a physical fitness plan that you do regularly? Is it practical for what you might envision is in the future?
Many of us are not the proverbial “Spring Chicken”, and just can’t do what we used to be able to do. I know what I can carry because I go out and carry it. I carry from 120-150 lbs. (rarely 150) because it is PT. I do not plan on carrying that much in an Evac, (although there are some I’ve read who can’t wrap their head around the fact that I carry more in training than I plan to in the real situation, whether it’s my Load bearing gear, or my ruck weight). I average 15-20 min miles (usually closer to 20) with that 120 lbs. of weight. Wanna know what the hard part is? It’s not walking at break neck speed (15 min miles with 120 is “Breakneck speed”, at least for me), it’s walking as slow as you need to to “see” before you are “seen”.
My Friend Bergmann talks about one type of plan you can use for this type of Evac.
My “Emergency” plan involves carrying or pulling a lot of gear (about 100 lbs. give or take, is what my load bearing gear and my “Evac” ruck weigh in total) over hilly terrain to a location I don’t feel comfortable caching much more than “disposables” right now. Food and associated expendables (ammo) are at the top of the caching priorities list for that area. Couple this with certain amenities like TP, and gear repair items. You can make certain parts of the “Emergency” survival plan not only more survivable, but more comfortable (“Comfort” is purely subjective. Things we did in the Infantry are not considered comfortable by the vast majority of the population, but for us, we made do and sometimes really enjoyed it).
Bergmann illustrates in this video what you can put in a small cache, and what to put it into.
Along with the Infantry tasks we discussed earlier in the “Contingency” level of planning, there are other considerations at the “Emergency” level. The load you carry is heavier, and the ability to fight and move (maneuver) is severely hampered by that weight. The first option is to plan on using the old school “LRS” (Long Range Surveillance) team approach (back when the 4 -6 man teams only carried M16A1’s or CAR’s and no SAW’s were present). This is the Hide and Observe method. Practicing going to ground quickly is an art form, especially if you’re carrying a heavy load. Another option is to be so well camouflaged that you simply are not seen if you stay still.
If you plan to fire and move (maneuver) by assaulting through the objective or having to break contact at high speed, understand that you will probably lose the load you have in your pack (you will have to drop it) unless you fight and win. A couple of options to use if you do have to fight are higher cap mags (more than the average mag cap of your rifle whether box or drum mag), and smoke or gas grenades. (throw smoke up wind of the attackers while you try to keep their heads down with rifle fire, then throw the gas when their vision of you is obscured by the smoke which has drift between the two groups. If they attack, they will come right through your gas grenade stream)
Gaining fire superiority due to your ability to fire for a longer period (extended mag cap) coupled with smoke and gas grenades being deployed can give the single Survivalist or small group of Survivalists a huge advantage in a break contact scenario. The use of the gas also sets the bad guys up to be “Hasty Ambushed” by you (if you’re by yourself, just be smart and break contact) or your group since you stepped off at a right angle from you original engagement/firing point and the gas choked bad guys came to where you were, not where you are now and can’t see a thing.
What should your pack contain for the “Emergency” option? As many non disposable items as you can carry. It starts with a solid pack. Tools for defense, construction of shelters, food procurement, and water carriage and treatment are at the top of the list. Clothing that is durable and long lasting (lots of quality socks). Items to keep all of the important gear dry. FIRST AID items, whether for trauma or even more important basic first aid and hygiene (antibiotic ointment, hand sanitizer, ace bandages, band aids, etc. These are all good items to cache ahead of time). Quality sleeping gear. I carry two weeks worth of freeze dried food, but the food in the caches and what can be harvested will supplement this. The list can go on forever, but you get the point. Anything less than what we’ve talked about will convert you from a Survivor to a Refugee in weeks.
Keep in mind, the options from “P” to “E” are cascading from the best case in a worst case scenario, to “In the suck” in a worst case scenario. No one wants to plan on being in the situation that required implementing any of this plan. Things happen and either you have war gamed a plan for the bad things that come about, or you leave it up to “Chance” as to whether you will survive it with your life and sanity intact. By the way, “Chance” has a brother named “Murphy”, and he is an SOB to those that prepare and unforgiving to those that don’t.
Although we talked about different Infantry tasks you should try to learn and practice, don’t think for a minute you are Infantry. That kind of a mindset will get you killed in a survival situation. Regardless of what some moron told you about your high end ability to “wack” regular Army Infantry (that’s who you’re plannin’ on fighting?) after you take a few of tactical classes. The facts are that it just ain’t so, and it’s a dishonest disservice to those of you who want to learn to fight from a realistic perspective. The objective of the Infantry is to accomplish a task set forth by their higher command with the least amount of casualties possible. Mission accomplishment overrides the desire for a low casualty count many times.
The Survivalist’s mission is to keep themselves, and those they are responsible for, alive. Anything that gets in the way of that is the enemy, whether it is a group of gang bangin’ troglodytes dressed like SEAL wannabes, or a serious flu pandemic. Don’t get wrapped up in the anti individual survival terminology used by some “experts” because you think they are “In the know”. They “Aren’t” and they “Don’t”. You can survive on your own. Yes, you are at a greater disadvantage without someone in support (I hope you at least have a Buddy), but as I’ve said many times, we practice and train for what is “possible”, not what is “probable”. If you have to use the “Emergency” plan of your P.A.C.E., figure out now what you will need to make moving that gear over various terrain possible, then, practice doing it.
Hopefully you won’t be on your own, but only a “Walter Mitty” fool or a charlatan believes you will have a heavy squad or platoon of actual “shooters” when the SHTF. If they do have ’em, those same “shooters” will probably be on the prowl when necessary things start to run out, and we’ll end up callin’ them “Brigands”.
"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.