Two Letters Re: How Long Can You Tread Water?

Mr. Rawles:
I have been reading your site for over two years now and have two of your books. I have a growing concern on what is going on in the world and working to prepare myself and my family for what the future may or may not bring us. I eagerly await the next day postings of SurvivalBlog each and everyday and look forward to what your other readers bring to the table. I took great interest in “How Long Can You Tread Water?” by Tom S. but more in the initial response. I am sure there will be more responses such as Andrew B. and I want to write about what I see as a growing trend from the readers on your site. A lot of readers, regardless of preparedness level, seem to disregard the greatest of battlefield multipliers, Murphy’s Law. Readers need to be careful that they are not planning for just for the optimal situation. You could have a three year food supply and the one hundred year flood could wipe out your crop and flood your stores forcing you to become a refugee. Would you loot to stay alive then or watch your family starve?

I read this site and people responses to controversial letters such as the current one and the one a while back about the guy planning on being a potential ‘good guy looter’. It seems to me, from people responses, that a lot of readers are not planning for contingencies. I want to talk about Tom’s article. I agree with most of what was said except the use of cars after an EMP attack. However what he said about gangs is dead on.

Gangs are experts with a capital E in stealth, deception, human manipulation and brutality. They are very organized and are lead by some of the smartest and most charismatic people around. As a former military man I can tell you the military has a huge gang problem. From the infantry barracks to the Los Angeles class nuclear submarine. Currently with the two wars going on the Crips and Bloods, Latin Kings and every other gang has been signing its members up for the military so in two years they can bring back combat and medical experience and infantry tactics to the gangs. This was covered in depth on the History channels Gangland. Gangs are not to mess with despite what some readers may think. Plus they have been empowered over the years by our week justice system that actually enables these vermin. I spent six weeks in New Orleans after Katrina. Any one of these punks would not have hesitated to walk up to one of my soldiers and shoot him in the face. They have no regard for human life.

After the SHTF gangs or some other body (rogue police perhaps) may or may not take over the cities. After they use all the resources up they will expand out but they will start to weigh effort versus resources versus payoff. How many losses can they take to rival gangs survivalists, army units, functioning police etc before they lose power or influence. Eventually they will expand out until their supplies collapse, they can’t loot anymore or start taking casualties due to starvation or lead poisoning.

As for attacking a Homestead or a retreat your best defense is to go undetected. What will it take to go undetected? At what price? You may think your farm house in the middle of nowhere is safe and defensible. Is it defensible against a man sneaking around at night with a can of gas and a match? A man who is willing to sift through the burnt embers to find a few cans of Spam that survived the blaze. That’s all it would take to destroy a retreat. A match and a can of gas. Maybe a distraction or two. Why take the structure intact when I can destroy it and search the rubble. I don’t need a platoon or a company of thugs. Maybe the thugs will just light the field on fire or the barn with the livestock. You got a rifle and 30 cartridges? The thugs will take your retreat with 31 guys with knives.

The world will be very brutal and you will be asking yourself to do things unfathomable. Will you be willing to kill to not be discovered? Killing men, women and children? Is your family worth more? Raiders or government military might question the family you let go during a recon patrol next thing you know you have a battalion at your door step. That may be the reality we would be living in. Neighbors killing neighbors just for OPSEC alone. Who knows? It will be hell on earth. As we have seen in the past it doesn’t take much to turn decent people into monsters.

BTW you railhead tracked vehicles to save on fuel and keeping the tracked vehicles from tearing up the roads. If a Bradley or Abrams turned out on a highway, the pavement would be ruined. Those stationed in Germany in the 1980s and 1090s will remember REFORGER exercises. We took tanks hundreds of miles cross country with only minimal break downs. Usually we still had 95% of our firepower by the end of the exercise. If we didn’t there was hell to pay. They are American made and the best. Regards, – Andrew S.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to respond to Andrew B.’s recent post about the excellent EMP article (How long can you tread water?) Andrew stated “If fuel is still being produced then law enforcement will operate and food production will not be halted and the point is moot.” I am a police officer in a very large department in the northeast. I know for a fact that our elaborate communications system and our fleet of emergency vehicle’s are not protected from an EMP attack. We would no longer be an effective service to our citizens in the event that we lost these crucial assets. Many of my co workers visit this site on a daily basis. We have had several casual conversations at work on how we would respond to a large scale/long term catastrophic event such as an EMP attack. We have all come to the conclusion that we would eventually have to return home to our families in order to protect them from the violence that would exist during the aftermath. I highly doubt that many U.S. law enforcement agencies have any plans in place to handle a large scale event of this magnitude. My advice to you all is to pray for the best and prepare for the worst. – M.A.