Letter Re: The Bosnian Experience, Part 2

The next thing that I would like to cover is mode of transportation. When the society collapses more likely you will have to leave your home. Having a 4×4 vehicle that is equipped with everything that you need to survive would be everyone’s choice for travel but that sometimes might not be possible. In the broken society there is no law. Everyone and everybody is a target. Traveling in the vehicle on the road or off the road is extremely risky. First, vehicles make noise and everyone can hear you. Second, vehicles are big and they can be seen. It is just way too hard to travel in the vehicle and not to be spotted. In a vehicle you will be ambushed by groups and the individuals. One of the reasons for this is that there will not be enough gas and just you traveling in the vehicle will make everybody think that you are a rich target and you will be attacked. If you plan on traveling long distances, you will be ambushed and if you might survive one or two ambushes but you will not be able to survive every ambush that you might encounter. Like I mentioned before, when the society collapses, there are no laws and everyone makes their own laws any way they like it. In Bosnia there were armed individuals and groups that would shoot at the vehicles just for fun to see how quick they can stop it and trust me, two M53s (Yugo version of German MG-42 light machineguns) supported with several AKs will stop most of the civilian vehicles very quickly. Traveling in the vehicle would be easiest way, but this might be putting yours and your family lives in danger but when the times comes, every individuals will have to decide for themselves on how they will travel and they will not have a lot of time to make this decision, so plan ahead.

My preferred method to travel was on horseback. The horse is quiet and it can go across terrain that not even 4×4 can. The horses also don’t require you to carry around jugs of spare gasoline since their food grows all around you. I would also recommend traveling on the horse back in the area that is covered with anti-personnel mines (minefields). Believe it or not, horses are extremely smart animals and sometimes they know where not to step. If your horse does step on a mine, you have a lot more chance to survive since his body will create some buffer between you and the blast and might give you another chance. The horse will also hear way before you any movement or any signs of life and if you know your horse, you will be able to read these early warning signals.

Since I am talking about animals, next thing that I would like to cover is food that they provide. While I was on the move, I was never long enough in one spot to grow a garden, but catching an animal for meal was another story. Good part of Bosnia is mountainous and wooded area, and there was some wild life to hunt at beginning but later on, this has changed and it was harder and harder to find wild life. First thing that I would like to recommend is to have some kind of small caliber weapon for taking small game. Shooting a small rabbit with 8 mm Mauser does not leave you a lot of meat to eat. Also learn to set traps for small animals. In certain parts you could hunt with your firearms but then you might be somewhere where you can’t shoot since you don’t know where exactly you are or what is around you. Another thing that you should learn is how to field dress an animal. I understand that a lot of people hunt and know how to do this but there are also people who have never hunted or seen an animal be field dressed and just seeing this might make them sick. Another reason for knowing how to field dress and animal is that you want to get maximum amount of food from it. You might not get to many chances to take an animal and when you do use everything from it that can be used.

The next thing that I want to cover is clothing that you wear. Most of survival oriented people, including myself, would wear some kind of military camouflage uniforms for several good reasons. Some of the reasons are durability, most of the military uniforms are quality made and will outlast a lot of civilian clothing. Pockets to store things since uniforms have a lot of them in the right places. Blending in with natural backgrounds, since military uniforms are not made out of colors that stick out. Recognition of other members of your group by having all of the group members wearing same camouflage pattern. If you will wear military type of uniform, make sure that you have some civilian clothing with you as well. If you are captured by military, militia, armed renegades or anyone else, you will be treated as a combatant just because of the military clothing that you are wearing. Even if you are not armed it won’t help you out. I have personally witnessed a young man pay dearly just because he was wearing old Yugoslavian Army boots. The mentality of you enemy might be that you are a combatant if you show any interested in military equipment. So, if you are wearing military clothing be ready to lose it quickly and change in to something else. If you are captured in the middle of nowhere with any kind of uniform on and no other clothes to change in to, that could be bad for your health.

Another thing that I want to cover is one of the important pieces of your equipment, and that is flashlight. I had a low quality flashlight (I though it was good because there was nothing better on the market) and it died on me the first time it got wet. In the USA there is unlimited number of good quality flashlights so if you are going to have a flashlight make sure that you have a good one. And have backup one as well. Flashlight is a must have item and the cheap one will not last you long. This is true with any other equipment. I understand that times are hard and money is the issue for a lot of people but buying quality equipment will probably save you money in the long run since this equipment will usually last for the long time. One thing that I really wish I had was night vision device. Most people know the area that they live in and can move around that area in the middle of night without any problems, but when you end up in the different part of the country, and you can’t orient your self and is middle of the night, this can become challenging. Night vision would be tremendous help.

Although I previously mentioned bartering with ammunition, one other thing that I would like to mention to have for trading is cigarettes. I did not even think about this before things went bad but I was lucky to have a grandmother who smoked two packs a day and she always had several cartons of cigarettes stored. The smokers become so desperate that they will give you almost anything for a cigarette. I have see people in prison and refugee camps become so desperate that they would pick every leaf of all the trees in the yards, dried them, wrap them in the old news paper and smoke them. A lot of people got sick of this since they were smoking everything they could find.

The one topic that I would like to cover last and I think that this is one of the most important topics is what happens if you are captured prisoner. Humans are some of the worst animals and will commit atrocities that are far worst that any wild beast could do. And the worst part about this is that humans will do it for no good reason and that they will find humor in at while they are torturing someone. Animals kill because they are in fear, protecting their families or hunt for food but we, humans, are the ones that will do it for no good reason. I was captured as a prisoner and have promised to my self that if I survive I will never become a prisoner in a society with no laws again. After the war I have moved to USA and since then have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans both as a soldier with elite unit of US Army and as a private contractor and during my deployments I did not know if I will survive the deployments but I did know that I will never again be captured. This is something that every individual needs to think about. If society collapses and you are captured, you will be at the mercy of your captors, who might not have any mercy. There wont be laws and rights to protect you and nobody will be there that you can call for help or complain to. I hope that I was able to provide at least some useful information for the readers and gave them some ideas. Keep your powder dry. – The Bosnian Survivor