Preparedness And The Free Training Available For The Truly Motivated

A young aspiring Paratrooper getting ready for another jump during Airborne School

I have taken a lot of training over the years, and I have never regretted any of it. That training has consisted of “Hands On”, physical training (whether as a formal school, or an “In-house” unit class), “Death by Power Point” instruction in formal classes, “Old School” correspondence courses in the Mil, or the more recent version of that, which is doing it on line for the Mil or LE.

Whether it was the training I received as an Enlisted Soldier, as a Non Commissioned Officer in a leadership role in the Infantry, my LE career, or info gleaned from courses I actively searched out and took on my own. The training was always what I considered a “Tool” in the “Preparedness Tool Box” and could come in handy one day.

Students learning to fire and maneuver in an MDT “Bushbastard” class.

There are many out there today who try to convince others that they are serious, when it comes to their “motivation” in the area they say is their niche/calling. For instance, the “Militia” crowd has done their very best to try and make many of us believe they will be there when needed, whether it’s a natural disaster, an invasion, or a protest.

Practicing some wilderness survival skills.

The facts we actually see are that many of them are a “Soup sandwich without the bread”, and not only do they not have any true organization, but they don’t even understand their authority (or in this case, the lack thereof), and what the original guidelines were concerning the militia.

MILITIA RANT ON:

Regardless of whether their intent is to just look like the “Navy Seal they always wanted to be”, but couldn’t cuz….SEAL!, or if they are truly serious about being there to help in their neighborhood’s time of need, it really doesn’t matter. Perception is reality, and the perception is that most of these guys (who put themselves in the public eye) are a joke, and define the term “Wannabe” to the fullest extent possible.

Do you guys want to change that perception just a bit? OK, here’s a tip, stop trying to dress like you’re a commando when you are in public. As an example: Although a tomahawk is an effective survival and fighting tool for a Soldier or a Woodsman, going to a protest while carrying it on your gear right behind your “Modular Food Storage Unit” IS DUMBER THAN AN IN-BRED, METHHEAD SNORTIN’ DRAINO LACED, COMET!

Want another tip? Do everything you can do to come across professionally (Not as “A Professional”. In this context, you are not “A Professional”. If you were, you’d be in the Military or Law Enforcement). This post is about learning one facet of what you can do to gain some knowledgeable in the right direction. Why? So you can be on the same “sheet of music” as those you might be helping out, and you can then all speak the same “language”. You can’t do squat if you can’t communicate.

MILITIA RANT OFF:

The area with the free courses falls under the “Independent Study section shown in the yellow box.

This leads me to the point of this post. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a website called The Emergency Management Institute. On it, there are a number of courses you can take for free that will help you not only understand how the organizational structure works, but if you may be involved with LE or Fed, (no, I don’t believe you when you tell me you worked with LE or Feds at the Presidential Rally or a Civil War Parade, they didn’t need or want you “helpin’ out” because you’re an unknown, untrained liability) at least, you will have an understanding of how they are organized and function in an organized function or an emergency.

I found out about the free courses years ago, and although I have been required over the years to take a number of them for my employers, the majority I’ve done were on my own because “Free Knowledge”….., and why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

Whether you are a member of a Neighborhood Protection Team tasked with the security of your group in your locality, or you’re just a Survivalist who likes to know all he can about how the Local, State, and Federal authorities will respond to different types of emergencies in your area. It would behoove you to take at least some of these courses to be aware of what is going on around you.

The red block shows a short list of what is available for free and shows up when you scroll across the “Independent Study” icon.

 

IS-100bIntroduction to Incident Command System, ICS-100

IS-700bAn Introduction to the National Incident Management System

These first two are the ones I recommend you take first to give you a base line for the rest of the courses you take. There are presently 194 courses available. A few require credentials from the Feds to take, but most do not. You will have to register with FEMA to take the on line tests if you want a certificate of completion, but you do not have to register to take the class.

In the last few days, the ability to take the tests for the classes has been down and this advisory has been on the site concerning the tests.

IS-101cPreparing for Federal Disaster Operations: FEMA

IS-200b, ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents

IS-230dFundamentals of Emergency Management

IS-251Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) for Alerting Authorities

IS-288aThe Role of Voluntary Organizations in Emergency Management

IS-293Mission Assignment Overview

IS-303Radiological Accident Assessment Concepts

IS-315CERT Supplemental Training: The Incident Command System

IS-405Overview of Mass Care/Emergency Assistance

IS-660Introduction to Public-Private Partnerships

IS-662Improving Preparedness and Resilience through Public-Private Partnerships

IS-775EOC Management and Operations

IS-907Active Shooter: What You Can Do

IS-909, Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone

These are just a few I’d recommend you take to have a solid grasp of the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” of Federal emergency operations. For you guys who say you are “militia” and are willing to put in the effort, prove it. Show us that you’re not just playin’ soldier, and tryin’ to look like an extra in an interpretive dance of Modern Warfare 3, and for God’s sake, stay off of social media.

Just like the other forms and types of training depicted in this post, the computer is an awesome tool that, for now, can be utilized to learn many things you wouldn’t have easy access to other wise. USE IT!

Put in the time. Learn what is going on, and become organized and professional (for you militia guys, that usually means a polo shirt and cargo pants with a concealed pistol, not a plate carrier, your AR “pistol”, and a “Operator Cut” helmet). Stay in your “lane” (that means YOUR State if you’re “Militia”), and do the HARD THING (in this case it means study, not expending rounds). Knowledge is power, and survival requires many forms of “power”.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"- Live Prepared.
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Finding The “Positive”

Yesterday’s load

While on one of my weekend “walks” (ruck walk) yesterday I was reminded of the importance of finding the positive in everything you do, and how much that mindset can make a difference in your ability, physically, to get where you are going. Yesterday was a “light” day, so all I carried was 60 lbs. of load bearing gear, my “Shorty .30”, and a light ruck instead of my usual 60 to 80 pounder, so it should have been easier, right?

Wrong! For whatever reason, my initial step off was just miserable. I was having trouble getting my pace and breathing rhythm in sync, My gear was rubbing in all the wrong places, and it just seamed like things were not workin’ out the way they normally do (but I did take the last two weekends off, due to “Life”, so…..). Like I said, it should have been an “easy” day, due to a lack of weight, so WHAT GIVES!?

After a half a klick, I decided to stop, take a water break, and reassess what the deal was. I found a good elevated (observation, right?), flat rock to take a break on, take my gear off, and take a drink. While sitting there, I took in my surrounding, noting how beautiful a spot it was, while trying to figure out what was my “deal”.

After about 5 minutes, I heard something walkin’ through the woods. As I sat there, here comes two huge gobblers walkin’ right towards me. Keep in mind, I had camo on, so these guys got within about 15 feet of me before they turned West and started down the mountain, apparently, never seeing me.

About 5 minutes after they walked off, I got up, took a last drink of water, put my gear on, while making sure it was all where it was supposed to be, and has been on that rig for over ten years, and I started walkin’. The rest of my walk went great. I got my rhythm (pace and breathing) back, and was able to enjoy the rest of my day.

So right now you’re saying, “OK JC, what does a couple turkeys have to do with your mindset and comfort level on your ruckwalk?”. Well, there’s a couple reasons. First, anyone who knows me, knows I’m a hunter, and have been since I was a little kid. Seeing those turkeys and having them get that close means I was following certain implied rules in the woods that will make or break your success as a hunter and probably your survival in certain scenarios.

Second, I’m a huge fan of nature, and seeing those turkeys up close and personal like that is very rare for even good hunters, so it was a treat for me to be able to experience it. I’ve only ever been that close to a wild turkey one other time, and it was about 20 years ago, and even if you use the patience I spoke about in this post, it is a rare opportunity for me.

Last night, while thinkin’ about what happened during the day, I realized that what made the big difference in my ruck walk was having something happen that changed my mindset/enjoyment in what I was doing. Look, anyone who has ever rucked knows it sucks no matter how in shape or motivated you are. Anyone who says carrying 100 lbs. or more of gear doesn’t suck is a liar, or hasn’t done it.

Physical fitness makes it suck less. A good mindset behind the motivations for why you do this physically hard task, makes it suck less. Having the confidence created by your preparedness in all aspects of the Survivalist lifestyle makes it suck less. Anyone who desires a life of living like a hermit in the woods during a bugout, needs to go into the Infantry and experience at least one field problem for about a month. Hell, that’s with beau coup support takin’ care of you. You do that, and you’ll see what we mean by “Being in the suck”.

My friend Bergmann has done two videos that I think are relevant in that they give a small glimpse into what it might be like in that type of a situation. This first one is pretty grim.

The second one here is even more so.

Some of the things we do as Survivalists are hard, and they suck, but as the sayin’ goes, what is your life and more importantly, that of your family, worth? When you’re doing the hard stuff, find the small thing in what you are doing that makes it just a little more “enjoyable” (or less terrible if you’re an unrepentant pessimist), even if the rest of it sucks.

In other words, “Stop and smell the roses”. Ruckin’ is one of my forms of PT, and PT in and of itself has it’s own rewards in more than just the preparedness tasks of the Survivalist. Among other things, it can prolong your life, and make other, less than smart, health choices a little less harsh on you and your body.

Grunt

 

If nothing else, be glad you’re not the aforementioned grunt, living at the behest of a Light Infantry, Non Commissioned Officer’s orders. The downside of not being a grunt anymore is that I now have to sometimes reach deeper than I did as an Enlisted Infantryman then as an Infantry NCO to pull the motivation out to continue. I no longer have others to motivate me, and I can’t say, “I will not allow my peers/subordinates to see me slack off or stop.”. It’s all you, and that requires a little bit more.

Not a Grunt

TANGENT ON:

Although I teach what most will call “Small Unit Tactics” to civilians, it is with the caveat that what I am teaching them at the Squad (9-12), Fire Team (4-6), and Buddy Team (2) (all 3 are about the numbers of the group, that is all) level is a noisy “means” to a positive, and hopefully survivable “ends”, and I reinforce that they are not the “Light Infantrymen” some trainers will try to paint them as, and they should be glad they are not.

If you want to be an Infantrymen and call yourself such, go into the U.S. Army or the Marine Corps and live with the limitations placed on you there. As civilian Survivalists, the only limitations we have, is due to the physical, time, or monetary restraints placed on us. The Infantryman has many more.

My friend NC Scout spoke of our civilian advantages in this post, using the Mountain Men of old as an example. When we say “I will teach you SOME Light Infantry skills”. It is not the same as sayin’ “I will teach you to BE a Light Infantryman”. Anyone claiming the later (or anything else he shouldn’t even be mentioning due to national security/safety concerns) to civilians is a charlatan only interested in the money behind that/those “Tacticool” selling point. The closest that you will get to learning and living the Infantry life as a civilian that I have seen, is at One Shepherd, and that takes years to accomplish, but fortunately isn’t too costly.

TANGENT OFF:

The bottom line and point of this post is, “Find the positive things in every situation you are in that sucks.” Some of us naturally do this because we are optimists, others need to develop this attribute if for no other reason than their sanity. Trust me, it will go a long way down the road, for your mental and physical health, if the worst case scenario happens.

My destination yesterday.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.

Trust But Verify

Do all your compasses point in the same direction?

All too often, we will trust things we get or have because they come from “Official Sources”. How many pieces of gear did you buy, or do you have because “It’s official issue” to our military? Have you verified the bearings that are shown on one compass with another? What about maps? What is the source for your maps, and is it a “Subcontractor” for the original source?

While conducting a LandNav class back in April, I found out that the map we were using for the area I had chosen to conduct the class, had a glaring deficiency in it’s markings. As in all beginner LandNav classes I’ve taught (first time in this area), I use major, easily seen terrain features (roads, powerlines, pipelines, etc.) to help with keep students from getting lost. This class was no exception, and I used one of the well used roads in that area as the extreme Western “handrail”, and a gas pipeline “right of way” as the Northern “handrail”.

Map marked pipeline with black dashes. Actual pipeline in red. the blue lines are MGRS 1,000 meter grid squares. Notice how even the azimuth angle is wrong.

This gives students a safety net in case the get lost in the “area of operation” (AO), and they know if they follow their compass due West (270 degrees), or due North (360 degrees), the will come to one of these “handrail” guides which can then lead them back to the start point, which was where the pipeline and the road intersect. Problem is, the map was wrong. The map in question had the pipeline marked 550 meters North of where it actually was, and it didn’t even follow the correct azimuth, East to West.

550 meters is over half a kilometer. 550 meters IS A LOT! During the class, it was figured out that it was off using other major trail marked reference points, pace counts and multiple GPS’s (they are not always right either, so be careful trusting them), and people were able to adjust fire and continue with the class. Two weeks after I taught the class, I called My Topo, and made them aware of the issue. Their response was they would check it out, but that their info came straight from USGS.

I sent them a copy of the map, with the pipeline marked where it actually is as a reference. How did I verify it’s location? I used resection with my compass and map together with my pace count, as well as my GPS using the MGRS coordinates and elevation features. I mapped out a path I made in the area, and plotted it on the map using the above listed information.

Why am I telling you this? If you have an area you going to be using, especially if it’s a place you’ll be going to after a SHTF event as a safe haven, you need to verify that the map is correct as much as possible. As an example, during Vietnam, SF and LRRP Team Leaders would do an aerial recon of most of the areas they were going to be operating in, to confirm things the map and the S2 (Intel) were telling them were correct.  Just like we always tell you that you need to test your gear out thoroughly before you need it, you need to verify what the map is telling you is correct for your “AO”. Checking these things is not an exercise in futility, LandNav skills are something you should be practicing anyway, right?

In this instance, what if you were using that pipeline as a handrail (you can move quicker that way) to lead you out of your town to an area you think will be safe, or to an area where you were supposed to link up with friends? If you had used that one in particular, the terrain you were seeing would not have matched up with what the map was telling you it was supposed to be, and you could end up in the wrong, maybe a “non permissive” area. Worse yet, what if you had been moving a night (a good idea if things are bad)? Identifying that the terrain around you doesn’t match the map is a lot harder at night.

“Trusting but Verifying” is never a bad idea wihether it’s your acquaintances, your gear, or your information (in this case, your maps). LandNav is just one more of the Mountain man, Pathfinder, Scout and Infantryman’s skill sets that, as Survivalists, we need to be able to do well. This starts with correct information on your map, and you’ll never know for sure unless you check it (remember the LRRP/SF guys above). A Survivalist is a “Jack of All Trades”, a master of some (hopefully the life protecting and the life saving arts). We are not Infantrymen, we have to be much more than that.

Figured while I was out checkin’ the map, I’d do some ruckin’ and kill two birds with one stone. You do LandNav with all your gear…right?

JCD
"Parata Vivere"- Live Prepared.