Are you intentionally setting your survival preparations up for failure? Are you or others in your family or group telling extended family, friends and/or strangers what you are doing to survive the next disaster or the coming apocalypse? Are you advertising to others that you are the “GTG” (go-to-guy or gal) to flock to during an emergency or SHTF event?
Operational Security: Basics for Protecting Your Survival Preparations
By Bama Bull, a reader of SurvivalCache.com
This brief article provides an overview on the topic of operational security of your survival planning and preparations before whatever SHTF or TEOWAWKI event you are prepping for occurs. If you don’t take precautions ahead of time to protect and safeguard your actions, all your efforts could be vain.
Operational security, known as OPSEC, is the process of protecting your planning and actions; safeguarding information on you, your family, or survival group; and preventing potential adversaries from discovering or learning about our preparations. It is used to preserve our plans, safeguard in progress efforts, and protect what has been accomplished. Your overall success will depend upon secrecy so that others cannot target you during a crisis event. The human animal is the most dangerous animal to confront, since he/she is a thinking predator capable of adapting.
The less information that is known about you and your efforts by others in a crisis, the safer you and yours will be, and the harder for others to target you. A good motto from World War II is “Loose lips sink ships.” This well known slogan is a reference to helping safeguard information on the sailing of troop and supply convoys in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
A “The Twilight Zone” Lesson
Some of you may be familiar with the old television show “The Twilight Zone” which aired in the late 1950s and early 1960s. There is an episode called “The Shelter” (first aired Sept. 29, 1961) which gives viewers a look at how people can react in a crisis. This short 25 minute story depicts the problem of friends and neighbors knowing about your survival preparations for a disaster. In the episode, a suburban dinner party is interrupted by a government bulletin warning of an impending nuclear attack on the country. As the neighbors scramble in panic to prepare themselves, many turn against the one family that had the foresight to install a permanent bomb shelter in their basement with supplies. Since the neighborhood knows about the shelter, the situation quickly deteriorates into a “dog-eat-dog” situation. It is not until a “false alarm” announcement is made that calm is restored. However, the damage is done and a real and ugly lesson is learned about all concerned. It is well worth watching.
Doomed Before the Disaster?
Two examples of preppers who have violated basic OPSEC principles and compromised their own secrecy and exposed their preparations are the McClung family and Lisa Bedford of Phoenix, Ariz. The silver lining here is that their public disclosures serve as a good lesson and a distraction away from the rest of us.
Dennis and Danielle McClung, from the suburb of Mesa, have made their presence and preparations known not just locally, but nationally and internationally via the internet on a host of survival websites and YouTube; and by appearing on such cable channel shows as National Geographic’s “Doomsday Preppers” and on TLC’s “Livin’ for the Apocalypse.” The McClung’s have opened their home and preparations, to include their elaborate aquaponic greenhouse in the yard and the store room of food and supplies, for the world to see.
Bedford is the popular survival blogger known as “The Survival Mom” with about 60,000 readers a month. While she does a great job of sharing information and her knowledge with tens of thousands of preppers, she’s unfortunately exposed herself and her family to all sorts of potential dangers when the SHTF. She’s disclosed her extensive stockpiles of supplies, and allowed TV cameras to show the front of her house in her cul-de-sac neighborhood and how trucks make nighttime deliveries.
Greater Phoenix is an isolated desert urban area of more than 1.5 million people, and is highly dependent on interstate trucking and the railroads to keep the flow of food, fuel and goods coming to feed and service the population. In a SHTF or TEOWAWKI event, depending upon the situation and time of the year, Phoenix and Mesa’s isolation in a harsh and barren desert environment may leave hundreds of thousands trapped and forced to fight for resources. Unfortunately, crime-wise, Phoenix and Mesa are well above the national averages for all types of crimes and has a significantly large number of ethnic street gangs – many are well organized and armed.
Both the McClung and Bedford families have openly discussed their plans to “bug-in” when apocalypse event occurs. It is great they are sharing information with others, but at what peril to them? If there was ever a better “famous last quote” it would have to be Dennis McClung on camera with NatGeo saying “We try to stay under the radar as much as possible.” McClung might as well paint his house orange and wire up neon “Loot Here” signs to the roof solar panels. They may get lucky and last a full week before the armed and violent hoards come a knocking at their respective doors!
What Can You Do?
Look at your daily activities from an adversaries’ point of view and determine how you can alter your behavior and actions. Here are basis suggestions:
· Safeguard what others might learn about you and your family.
· Develop and apply countermeasures, which are ways of preventing others from obtaining your information.
· Determine who you can trust and confide in with your information – be very selective.
· Develop a cover story that is plausible that deflects from your preparations and satisfies curiosity.
· Measures You Can Practice:
· Make sure that your family and inner-circle knows what OPSEC is and that information needs to be safeguarded.
· Routinely reinforce the importance OPSEC.
· Be aware of your surroundings, who is watching you, and what you say in public, in emails, on social media sites, and on cell phones and hard phone lines.
· Keep a “need-to-know” mindset – only inform people with a need to know your business.
· Shred any documents with personal and financial information, and receipts of your purchases.
· Don’t stack up boxes or throw out wrappers and packing for your survival gear and supplies in your curbside trash. Dispose of this trash at dumpster away from your area.
· Use a different “ship to” address for deliveries, such as your work or a P.O. box, instead of your residence.
· Limit What You Say About:
· Where you live (your specific street location or neighborhood) and your family members.
· The location of your “bug-in” or “bug-out” sites.
· Where you keep your “bug-out” or “get-home” bags.
· The location of any prepositioned caches.
· Your bug-out routes and methods (avoid potential ambushes).
· Any issues concerning your security systems or protective measures.
· The extent of your preparations and your weapons, equipment and stockpiles.
· The physical health of you and family/survival members, and any disabilities each may have.
This is no intended to be an all encompassing article on OPSEC, but serves as an initial primer to provide some of the basics. There is much more you can learn and put into practice. The important take-away is that you need to take precautions so you and your survival group doesn’t become a target if the worst happens. For more information or to discuss this topic with others, visit the Survival Cache Forums.
About the author: Bama Bull is an Army veteran and lives in southeastern Alabama. His interest in survival preparedness are based on the threats associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, coronal mass ejections, pandemic diseases, and . The views of the author do not necessary reflect the opinions of Survival Cache and Forge Solutions.