Last Updated on October 18, 2020
Editor’s Note: As we prepare to celebrate our Republics 243rd birthday what could be more appropriate than a third installment of R. Ann Parris’s Minuteman series?
From the most localized and lowest-level threats like rioting and looting, to major upsets that see individuals band together to usurp a larger, well-organized threat, how we deploy and for how long in what types of environments affect the skills most useful for us. That includes the survivalist skills we see listed so often.
They’re great to have, but as with learning them for general preparedness, what gets top billing for our time and income is largely situationally dependent.
Continuing the framework of my skillsets articles, I’m not focusing on how-to or subsets of the skills listed here. Instead, I’m offering a yes-no-maybe answer to the question of whether these in particular apply to preppers who are thinking about preparing for a minuteman role.
I hit orienteering and pace counts in a former article. It’s only a “maybe” for compass-map skills (based on location/terrain) and a definite “yes” for pace counts (across the board, everywhere). You can check out my reasoning’s here https://theprepperjournal.com/2019/05/31/modern-minuteman-yes-no-maybe-skillsets/.
If our AO is somewhere with large tracts between friendly shelter, sure. A tarp isn’t always enough, even combined with the ability to get up off the ground.
If we can’t rest, and if we’re burning calories shivering, our bodies and minds wear down. If we’re not crossing those tracts, though, spend the time honing something more universally applicable.
Nah, not so much – particularly alternative and primitive fire starting.
Again, some scenarios and some personal situations form exceptions. As minutemen we’re probably going to be operating fairly close to home and for limited periods of time – hours on duty, days on post or in transit.
Yeah, there are times and certain climates where a fire is the only way to dry things or stay warm, but it’s far from universal, especially today, and it’s hugely dependent on our area of operations.
And, yeah, even today some militaries lean heavily on stoves and fuel tabs with rations.
Mostly, though, they can keep warm with gear and eat cold/dry chow. So can we.
If we do need flame, largely a pill bottle or coin purse kit holding matches and a lighter that’s kept inside the clothes on a lanyard and a couple of candles will do the job to keep us warm or get a fire going enough to dry each load of wood combined with a tarp or cave-like shelter.
They do it with less effort (calorie expenditure, sweat/dehydration) and less time than primitive fire-making methods, and lessen the risk of exposure from larger fires.
Foraging Wild Foods
Maybe, but mostly “nah”.
I’m a huge proponent of wild foods, and the ability to source and cultivate wild foods – now, as well as for emergency situations. Mostly, though, whether we want to include small game hunting and trapping, fishing and fish traps, or only plants, how often are we expecting to get cut off far enough, deep enough, that we can’t push through with whatever our everyday carry and patrol pack contains?
Particularly as minutemen?
And, particularly as minutemen, how is it we plan to accomplish this foraging?
Go ahead and picture any given scenario(s) you like.
We’re urban moseying through streets in Gray Man attire with nondescript bag, or leaving our rural homestead for the dunes/woods/slopes/fields.
We could even being going “Red Dawn” in our heads, living out there in the wilds with our bushcraft set and our insurgency kits.
We’re in full combat load out with our mask in place, weapon of choice slung or in hand, multi-day pack to settle in for sniping and harassment or just because we’re heading 6-8+ hours away (so no matter how quick our action, we’re on our own for a while), or just our day patrol pack.
And now we’re foraging.
We’re either balancing these bags and whatever else we have to stoop and snag some chow or set up for animal proteins, or we’re staging our gear – stripping to our musette back or day pack, with or without a primary weapon if it’s there, with or without a sidearm or slingshot.
We’re either not making much headway, or have halted completely – making none – and in some scenarios we ditched our bag or propped our rifle, cutting ourselves off from the gear we decided we had to have available when we packed that bag.
The further away from it we get, the more vulnerable we become to losing it entirely, while also doubling the chances that somebody sees signs of a person operating in this area (us+bag versus the combo).
If we’re setting snares or fishing yoyo’s instead of air gun hunting or plant foraging, we have to then go back through to collect them before we move on.
Sure, there are times it’s more than possible to easily balance the two directives – food and distance.
I can readily snag berries to drop in my canteen cup in its pouch or the open jar in my cargo pocket, munch as I go, or pull my pellet gun to pop a squirrel that waits in my drop pouch. Not a major delay, readily possible in even a full winter combat load and pack, and depending on my scenario, maybe some fresh foods are totally worth it.
If I have to forage for chow, though, it takes time.
Not only is there time spent collecting, I regularly have to process that chow, which may require more water than I have on me and-or a fire – which means I’m either toting my fire, or I have to stop earlier yet to make that fire.
We also have to weigh how many calories we’re burning fetching those foods and preparing them versus how many we consume.
There are scenarios where, yeah, being able to source some food is huge.
Particularly since so many of the applications for modern minuteman deployment have us in relatively normal situations with portable foods, and-or operating near home or work, it’s mostly just not necessary.
Unless your scenario has you way-way out akin to armies on the march and out of or tired of their basic rations, operating close to home means the ability to deploy with jerky, crackers, last night’s biscuits or bannock, a canning jar of stew, dried fruit, etc.
Augmenting as we’re stopped or passing anyway is great, but as far as necessary skill sets for minuteman service … nah.
What is valuable, though, today’s everyday localized disasters to major upsets and crises, is the ability to…
Source Safe Water
Especially in urban and suburban situations, not just trekking the woods and rural retreat properties, absolutely and emphatically, yes.
The rationale for doubling down on water skills is a nigh-on endless list.
- Dehydration saps decision making and physical capabilities long before hunger, heat, or cold.
- Utilities are enormously vulnerable to natural or man-made disasters that affect power or the infrastructure itself.
- Utilities and specifically water systems (city water, wells, or springs) are vulnerable to all sorts of contamination’s – human and animal wastes from backups and floods, deliberate sabotage, chemical spills from factories and trains/ships/trailers.
- While some pressure remains in systems initially, the longer a situation goes on, the more our pressure and-or residual contents decrease.
- Wells can run low enough to suck air and springs can drop to trickles, even if we have all the parts and skills we need to keep pumps running indefinitely despite power disruptions.
- Water distribution and supplies are quickly exhausted even in otherwise “normal, functioning” society right here in the U.S., without any other disruption in services besides water.
- The denser the population and further downstream/downhill our location, the more contaminants and disasters that can affect our water supply.
- Very few of us carry around enough water at all times to cover our needs and the needs of any partners with us at any given moment for 8-12 hours of exertion, let alone 2-3 days.
- Roof type and bird presence greatly affect just how safe water catchment may be to drink, and how much filtration/treatment it requires.
- With authorities focused on bigger fish to fry (or, the cause for us manning our positions in the first place), distribution of water supplies may take a low priority – or, be available only in limited areas and limited quantity, in some cases with reduced ability to send representative(s) without leaving our position(s) vulnerable.
- In dry seasons, natural waterways can already be few and far between in backcountry … and in pastures/fields.
- By disaster, and previous disaster, dams may fail or end up low, decreasing reservoir levels and the overflows/control flows that normally feed area creeks, canals, and spring lenses.
- If we’re actively engaged in combat operations or hunkering in to avoid detection, we may not be able to detour to planned water sources.
- Travel impediments can affect how much distance we’re making (total time expended) and the effort it’s taking, increasing our need for water and decreasing our ability to tap expected sources.
Absolutely embrace the potential that as modern minutemen we may “only” be defending our block of Baltimore or Koreatown, or may be well able to withstand life at our rural retreat. By all means, apply everyday operations by grunts afield.
However, also acknowledge that the very idea of a modern minuteman suggests life has hit a hitch, and that Uncle Murphy usually laughs last and longest. Those grunts have a big system moving bottles and buffaloes around, and a five-cent part can disrupt water from our faucets.
Take some time to learn the signs of water and how to access it when we can’t see it, how to make it safe, and how we’d transport it from one building or floor or rural/woods location to another if our partners are over there dehydrating.
Wilderness Survival for Minuteman Deployment
Because we’re all different, in very different areas with very different situations to consider, the ways we anticipate participating as a citizen soldier varies. That means the skills we need to be effective vary, too.
(Editor’s Note: A comment on “photojournalism – there were no “Koreatown, LA Riots in 1992”, there was the Rodney King Riot in 1992, where the business owners in the area of Los Angeles known as “Koreatown” armed themselves to the teeth, barricaded their business and stood guard, ready to shoot any looters or people attempting to do damage to their businesses or hurt their families. As a result the area was untouched, passed by by the criminals who set fires and destroyed property throughout Watts and Los Angeles. A lesson still not learned by so many. In that same area today would they not all be arrested on one of the endless weapons charges that have popped up since?)
Nowhere is that truer than the wilderness and survival skills we might require.
There’s too much to do to try and cover it all, particularly all at once while also balancing daily life and other preps. Think through specific situations, and current capabilities. Whittle the many lists that exist down to highest priority, and concentrate on the things that have the most application in the most scenarios.
Work what’s most likely to be needed and used first and foremost, for us specifically as individuals, and expand later on.