I’ve spent the better part of the last decade in service to our nation. First as a Marine in Iraq and the last three years in Afghanistan as a civilian “security” contractor. And I’ve spent more of the last three years in a very rural valley in north-eastern Afghanistan than at home. In the last year with the birth of our first child, and the destruction of the ideals our country was founded on I found myself thinking more and more about the state of affairs in the world today and began to prepare for TEOTWAWKI. Starting as many beginner preppers do I began to accumulate silver and a small amounts of gold. Due to my professions I was ahead of the game in the guns and ammunition department from the beginning of my preparations. As I began to put together all the pieces of my plan I found myself trying to look for real world lessons in survival.
That’s when it dawned on me. I’ve spent the better part of the last few years in an area that is what TEOTWAWKI looks like, and I began to find problems with my survival plans upon comparison with the local community. First and foremost and my “expertise” is security.
The local communities have a simple but extremely effective security plan. Each village is basically it’s own militia. When the bad guys show up, or any unknown person, the alarm is raised and every able bodied male is alerted. This is done through a number of ways depending upon the time of day. At night flashlight signals or animal noises are used to raise the alarm. Hand-held radios are available but due to the monitoring of all UN-encrypted frequencies by coalition and the bad guys the local populace shy away from radio communications like the plague. A 155mm round landing on your family in the night because you keyed a radio can ruin your day. During daylight hours there are always members of each household outside doing chores and tending to animals so the alarm is spread simply by yelling or waving to one another. While extremely old school their methods are extremely effective. While observing this the importance of knowing your neighbors struck me. You quite simply are not going to defend yourself from a determined attack from a numerically superior enemy by yourself. The locals have learned this through centuries of war and genocide in the country and have adapted strong small community ties because of this. So get to know your neighbors, you don’t have to knock on their door and say, “Hi I’m here to get to know you so when the Schumer hits the fan we can defend ourselves.” A little familiarity will go a long way to creating a strong community in an emergency situation.
Another thing I observed was the amount of real hard physical work it takes in daily life in this country. There is constant activity through the daylight hours here. There are nearly always crops growing in the fields that are being tended to, clothes and rugs being washed dried outdoors, water buckets being hauled to and from the local water source, animals being taken to feeding grounds daily up in the mountains. And everyone in the family participates. The women can be seen doing all of the aforementioned tasks, the children are often shepherding the animals high into the mountains, often as young as 5 years old! If there were a social services here! The men are often in the fields and many hold a job as an unskilled laborer (not desirable) or a skilled laborer (extremely desirable) at one of the coalition bases in the area while still having to tend to their lands. Life for the locals is almost purely work. Most breaks from work here consist of praying or eating. One can see how important a role religion takes in a such a lifestyle (albeit a false religion) because there is little else to occupy one’s mind. Life is a physical grind and spiritual nourishment goes a long way to a happier existence.
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons in today economic environment that I have taken from my observations is the emphasis on tangible goods. The wealth of a family is measured by their access to clean water, the size of their goat and cow herds, and the ability to produce power for their house. (There is no power grid here. Each community must find a way to generate their own power if they want it.) When I first began working in this area I used to have a good laugh with my co-workers at the expense of the local populace. “I can’t believe they think they’re rich because they own 200 goats!” However I have since amended my thinking. Tangible goods truly are a measure of wealth here. The indigenous populace has very little faith in paper currency for good reason. Their national currency has changed many times and there is simply no guarantee it will be worth anything tomorrow. They prefer American dollars to their own because they believe that it will always have value. The joke may be on them before too long. When a family needs something here they can take their tangible goods and sell or trade for what they need. The winter wheat harvest not as good this year? Sell or trade some of your goats and cows for food and you’ve now expanded your food stores and reduced the amount of grain you have to feed your herd. Gasoline more expensive than usual? Offer to let your wealthier neighbors the use of your generator for a fee. These people have adapted so that if tomorrow the paper currency in Afghanistan goes to zero they can continue on with their daily lives much as they do today.
As I watched the daily lives of the Afghans in this area I compiled a small to do list for TEOTWAWKI. 1) Get to know my neighbors both in my city home and at the family retreat and be prepared to use very old world techniques to communicate. 2) Be prepared for the physical and mental grind of daily life in a survival situation. While I’ve been in excellent shape for years because of my profession I had let my spiritual fitness begin to lapse. 3) Assign each person in your family daily chores based upon age and ability. And if you live at your survival retreat do this NOW rather than later. 4) Own real tangible goods. Sure that fat savings account is great now but when the dollar goes to zero what are you going to do? Beans, bullets, and Band-Aids (and some precious metals) are going to be the currency of TEOTWAWKI. Don’t find yourself without a means of purchasing goods you are going to need. And I guarantee 99% of use don’t have everything we need for TEOTWAWKI and are going to need to purchase additional items and a $100 bill will be toilet paper in an economic collapse.
My experiences here in Afghanistan have gone a long way to my preparations. You don’t have to just take my word for it. Do some reading on life in third world countries around the world. These lessons and more will appear without fail in each and every instance. And to see what happens when people are not prepared in these countries one only has to look at the news of starvation, disease, and war around the world and see what becomes of those who cannot take care of themselves and their families.