Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read with a great deal of interest Dan B.’s piece on the Four Great Preparedness Myths, and although I have to agree with points 3 and 4, I have to take issue with the first two in his list. He says that “no one who has actually tried to defend themselves against a large group of determined assailants actually thinks it can be done”. Yes, no one person can defend themselves against a horde of attackers very long. But a group of ten or more, if they prepare themselves mentally, logistically and above all spiritually, can prevail against long odds.
History shows that with the right preparations even a small group can hold out against the most determined attackers at odds of up to 20 or 30 to 1, and that is without any type of heavy ordnance, i.e. artillery or air support. Yes, in most cases these were soldiers, but being a soldier is more than wearing a uniform. It is discipline under stress, pulling together with the individuals that are your comrades to become a unit with the mindset that you will not let them down and knowing they will not let you down when push comes to shove.
Dan states that the “math is pretty simple: the horde has numbers on its side, time on its side, and its determination probably matches yours. If a large group of people decide that you’ve got something they want, that’s all there is to it”. Not necessarily so, the strengths he states are also weaknesses.
1. Numbers are not always a good thing, especially when you have what is basically a large, probably undisciplined, mob. Time will not be on the side of the mob for the simple reason that it will be living off the land, and even though it may be known that you have supplies, no large group can stay in one place more than a few days or a week at the most without completely depleting all available resources. A study of history shows that most sieges were unsuccessful because the besieging force ran out of supplies. And remember, these people are hungry and desperate to start with, if they cannot rapidly gain control of your homestead they will probably be forced to move on to a more easily conquered target.
2. There will probably be, at best, only a rudimentary command and control structure, with leaders who have gained control through charisma or by force through an existing gang structure. To keep their position these leaders have to be flashy and visible to followers, this also makes them prominent targets, as the old saying goes, the fastest way to kill the snake is to cut off its head.
3. This lack of discipline and cohesion can be the deciding factor in defeating an attack. An excellent article on the 1874 Battle of Adobe Walls at shows how a badly outnumbered group of defenders can defeat a much larger disorganized foe.
4. Remember, these people are not Spartans, and they do not want to die. A vigorous defence will probably discourage further attacks.
You have to be vigilant and you have to prepare you home for defence, but it can be defended. – Harvey H.
I’ve wanted to share this concern for a long time, and the recent letter regarding the four myths has inspired me to share it, which is this: Those folks that have the two days worth of food, and the 2-3 MBRs, and the arsenal, and the 1,000 rounds per gun… Those are the people that are going to be the ones I worry about more than the average member of the “Golden Horde“.
Collecting guns and ammo is the “fun” part of prepping, right? At least for many, that’s where 80% of the money spent on survivalism goes.
They’ll have the money. They’ll have read the articles. They know there are nuts to be cracked.
Those are my biggest fear. We need to make sure we evolve beyond just guns and ammo. If a person doesn’t have a substantial amount of resources stored up, the temptation to go appropriate others’ stores could be too much for some – maybe not for themselves, but they’ll be darned if they’ll see their wife/son/baby girl/mother starve.
Expand your preps people! Or the likelihood is I need to harden up more against you than the typical “Golden Horder”. – Austin
First of all, great piece! I appreciate Dan B.’s perspective.
Re: Myths 1 and 2 – I think a SHTF situation can be improved strategically if one is truly prepared. It will not always be perfect, and it certainly is far from desirable to have to consider these possibilities.
If done right and one is really prepared, then you can take out a good number of people before you have a chance to start shooting. Let’s first consider, sentries, Lookout Posts, trip wire warning systems, moats, fences, thick bushes, sensors, traps, and well trained guard dogs. Maybe I have watched too many movies, but if you know it is coming, then you should have the upper hand.
As one specific strategy, you can boobytrap to take out a large number of people who might “hunker down” in particular areas. Think chess! What are the top 50 moves that you or anyone might make and then protect against it. There are shotgun shell trip wires that could be rigged to take out a group hiding behind a particular wall or tree. Maybe you put in a pit with sharpened spears. Maybe a couple of pressure sensitive mats can be hooked to a nice bomb made from a glass jar lined with buckshot glued to the glass? This could get very ugly very fast. (And maybe you only arm those positions at night when you can’t see off in the distance?)
In the novel “Patriots”, I recall a fougasse pointed to cover a road approach. Did you build a heavy duty fence out of railroad ties or a wimpy one? Did you forget to strategically use your night vision baby monitor that you got from your kid’s room? What about Molotov cocktails? What about thermite grenades? Can you deliver a bomb via a zip line? What about a clearly disguised bear trap – I hear those things hurt! What about tunnels from your facility to outflank your opponents? What about razor wire? Did you put alligators in your moat? Can you quickly destroy the bridge to your main facility to keep the enemy from getting to you? Is there a field with a high incendiary material or just oil to take out a large group? Can you drop balloons of gasoline from the trees and ignite with a flare gun or roman candle? – people really don’t fight well while they are on fire! Have you purchased and read the military’s books on boobytraps and special make weapons? There are so many options that I can’t write them all! How many can you quickly take out is the point? Just know that it is all about preparation – play the scenarios in your head a thousand times before they happen!
Next, you are right that you can’t expect to fight and survive by yourself. This is where the “alliances” mentality can been seen in shows like “Survivor” or in certain movies where it is important to have allegiances in other areas. Look at the Lord of the Rings Trilogy – they frequently summoned other ally forces.
If you have the right combat gear, mindset and strategic technology, you may just be able to take out a favorable ratio. Think of what the US military was able to do in Somalia in 1993. Sure, we lost many good men, but what was the ratio based upon better training, weaponry, technology, and psychology? (About 1,000 Somalis compared to 19 US Servicemen – that’s 52 to 1) How big is that horde going to be anyway? Perhaps the odds would have been more favorable for the US forces if they were truly prepared for the mission (ammo, armored plates, special weapons, ability to prepare, etc.) All this to say, in your preparations, did you recruit enough people and the right people to your retreat?
Another point is that you can’t expect to horde your food and ammo and have it pay off for you. Perhaps if you share (or you may consider this a bribe) with very trusted, like minded local sources, you might gain good fortune and they may come to your rescue to save your backside. Remember, if you are surrounded, you best have gotten word to others very quickly to come help you out! At the same time, what better way to flank your opponents than to have a group of friends show up on their backside and pick them off while they “stake out your joint”?
I am not a military expert, however I have studied enough to know one thing, strategy (with skill and preparations) always wins in the end (statistically speaking of course). As a consideration, if you have the right tools, weapons, mindset, and ideally, preparations such as alliances, food, and perhaps a little of God’s provision, you have a much better chance to overcome any engagement – you must be truly prepared first of course. – BG