Letter Re: Preparedness for Active Duty Military Personnel

Great blog! I also bought the latest edition of your novel “Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse”. My older edition is in storage somewhere, (see below) and I really like the updated material, it almost seems like a new book.

I don’t know if you have ever discussed survivalism from the perspective of families that need to move often. For those of us in the military who move every few years with weight limits the supply situation becomes more complicated. For most of us, idea of a fixed homestead is a dream for post retirement.

The biggest problem I have had to deal with is moving our guns and hazardous materials (fuels, ammo, etc.). It has also caused me to focus on trying to compartmentalize and organize. Another big issue is when moving overseas deciding what to take (especially books), what to let the government store, and what to leave with family or in a self storage locker at another location.

I am sure I am not the only reader that faces this predicament. – Dave

JWR Replies: You definitely are not the only reader in that situation! SurvivalBlog has a lot of overseas-deployed readers, both military and civilian contractors. (For example, just look at our hit map for Africa and Southwest Asia. Most of those are servicemembers, English speaking ex-pats, and a few consular employees.)

I often get e-mails from readers like yourself that are torn as to what preparedness items they should keep on hand overseas, and which to leave at home in storage. Two of them have mentioned that they are praying for promotions in rank, not for the extra pay but because their moving weight allowance for each Permanent Change of Station (PCS) will increase!

I recommend that at a minimum you keep your 72 hour kit with you wherever you are stationed, and an abbreviated version thereof even when you take a Temporary Duty (TDY) assignment. Regarding books, I recommend that you leave most of your hard copies at (or near) your eventual retreat. There are hundreds of books available online. For links to find those, see: K.L. in Alaska’s article “Sources for Free Survival and Preparedness Information on the Internet”. And as a military service member you of course have access to the entirety of the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) database, which has hundreds of military field manuals and technical manuals.

I also recommend that anyone in your situation purchase a set of the “1000 Books Homesteading Library” CD-ROMs, often available for $35 to $50 on eBay from sellers with the eBay usernames “prciousisthelord“. and “covenanter1599“. This compendium of book PDFs on 27 CD-ROMs includes a treasure trove of public domain books–mostly 19th Century classics (with expired copyrights) plus some modern texts that have been opened up to public domain such as “Where There is No Dentist”, “Where There is No Doctor” and even “The Owner Built Homestead” and “The Owner Built Home” (both by Ken Kern). BTW, a smaller collection of many of these same titles are available for free download at The Librums’s PDF Collection.

The next time that you buy a laptop, you might consider getting one with an extra-large hard disk drive. (500 GB or larger.) You can then keep many of the PDFs of many of the most important references on your laptop at all times.

One temptation for preparedness-minded individuals on active duty is attending on-site DRMO and other military surplus dispersal auctions. If you decide to bid on any items, be sure that you have enough moving weight allowance for you next PCS to cover the extra weight. Also be sure that you have the requisite storage space available. (I have one acquaintance that kept an “auction bargain” Army surplus Ahkio snow sled through the course of three PCS moves, two of which were warm climates!) It may be heartbreaking, but you may have to skip bidding on those nice 8 KW gensets that might sell for less than $100 each.

One sad story that I hear repeated over and over again, particularly from folks that have been living overseas, is that they have suffered break-in burglaries of their retreats in their absence. Assuming that you can’t find someone to “house sit” at your retreat year-round, there are essentially only two viable ways to mitigate this: 1.) Rent a relatively secure commercial storage space nearby, or 2.) Construct very-well hidden caches that cannot be detected–even by someone with a lot of time on their hands. (The worst case is that your retreat house becomes a “crash pad” for drug addicts for a period of weeks or even months.) See the SurvivalBlog Archives for some suggestions on building wall caches, door caches (such as my design), and hidden rooms. (In the ” Categories” list, click on the “Storage Spaces” category.