Knowledge is Power: The Value of an Area Study – Part 2, by Viking4

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)

Human Terrain

This section of the area study deals with the people who live in your Area of Operations (AO) and Area of Interest (AI). Data for this section can be a little harder to find depending on where you live. For my first area study I was able to search voter rolls to determine party affiliations. For my current area those records do not exist, though I was able to find more detailed political party details relevant to the AO.

Data to determine and document the human terrain include:

• Names of the people living closest to you (neighbors) and their political affiliations
• Demographics for the population of the AO
• Socioeconomic data for the population of the AO
• Attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of the people in your AO
• Who are the influencers of opinions and actions in your AO

Local GIS data can provide information on who owns properties nearby or in any part of the AO you wish to drill deeper in to. Simply performing a web search on your area name and the keywords “demographics” and “socioeconomics,” along with the latest census data will provide a wealth of information.

The websites for the political parties at the local level will provide some insight into the general trends for the AO. Elected officials and statewide political data is posted later in the study.

I find that determining the influencers in the AO takes the longest time to acquire. From a general standpoint teachers, small business owners and pastors among others have a good sized influence at the local level. I’ve had good luck with just speaking to neighbors, friends and business owners to pick up who are the movers-and-shakers in my AO. The barber shop is one of my best eavesdropping sites (remembering OPSEC of course)!

Critical Infrastructure

I find that determining and documenting the critical infrastructure in the AO and AI takes the second longest amount of time. Again, depending on where you are some parts of this section may take a considerable amount of digging to acquire.

The primary data points for this section include:

• Energy and utilities
• Hospitals and trauma centers
• Schools

Depending on your location, the number of electrical energy providers may be one or many. Rural areas may have an electric cooperative (Co-Op) while suburban and urban areas may have a single large power company. Regardless, the infrastructure that provides the power to your AO and AI is composed of miles of power lines and potentially dozens of electrical substations. Rural areas may have this infrastructure spread out over a large area, while more densely populated areas might have more of them in a smaller area.

I found it easier to start at the macro level during my information search. There is GIS data to locate the largest electric power transmission lines here. From this map you can drill down into your AO and AI to gather the information you need. Understand that these are the major feeder lines for the larger area. There are many miles of minor lines in a given area that cover the “last mile” getting the electricity to individual homes. These are not covered on this site.

Electrical transmission lines connect to the electrical substations. A similar GIS site located here will allow you to determine the locations and capacities of the substations in your area. Clicking on the locations will bring up the relevant data.

Other electrical power generation information to gather would include hydroelectric plants (locations and capacities) and nuclear power plants (locations and capacities). Include large solar plants if applicable.

Propane and natural gas services in the AO and AI are accounted for next. Finding the regional and statewide gas lines is usually quick. Drilling down to the county level may take a bit of work.

Water treatment facilities should also be located and information noted in the study.

Finding the hospitals and trauma centers in the AO and AI is, again, a rather quick search. Each individual care center website can list the services provided and, in the case of trauma centers, the level that they are certified to.

Locations of schools is easily found using the school district websites. Remember to include private, charter and religious schools in your listing. These facilities are important as they are commonly used as shelters for emergencies.

Politics and Governance

In this section of the area study we look more in-depth at the politics and governance of the AO and AI.

I’ve had good luck starting at the macro level of the political parties active at the state level and working my way down to the local level. State political organizations have decent websites that provide you a variety of information, including the names of the officials at that level. How many of those officials live in your AO or AI? Those people will usually have an outsized influence on the local level. Knowing the stated mission and beliefs of the state and local party machinery can be helpful when judging the honesty of the politicians in your area.

Working down to the local governments, be sure to include not just city or town, but also the townships and county levels. Who is the county sheriff, and what political party does the person identify with? How about the township supervisor? Who is your local county commissioner? Is the local town council dominated by one party? Are there any “career politicians” in your area? Knowing all of this information can assist in your planning processes.

These days it’s not uncommon for most politicians, government officials and the governments themselves to have dedicated social media sites. Include information from your search of those sites in your area study as well.

Military, Security and Law Enforcement

It should be easy to gather a lot of the publicly available information regarding the military forces in your AO and AI. In my own area studies I have also included units that could influence the AO and AI even from a distance, for example Marine Corps and Air Force flight assets. Organizations to detail include:

• Active, National Guard, and Reserve units from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps
• Civil Air Patrol
• State guard, volunteer defense and militia units
• Coast Guard units

If possible, break the units down by combat arms, combat support and combat service support. Note the equipment that the units possess. If there are any training areas in your AO or AI note those, as well as what kind of training can be conducted at each location. Unit websites can provide public affairs information to flesh out basing and unit data.

The history and use of state guards (not National Guard), volunteer defense units, and state militias should also be included.

I begin the law enforcement section of my area studies at the local level. County sheriff and city or town police departments will usually be the most prevalent in your AO and AI. Most of these units have public websites where you can gather pertinent information. Always include local radio frequency lists for each entity. One of the best sources for these is here.

State law enforcement agencies include not only state police/patrol units, but also special units related to specific missions. Ensure that you capture information on these units as well. Knowledge of the location of posts should be added as well.

In this section I also include information regarding prisons and jails in the AO and AI. Information such as location, capacity and security measures that keep their local communities safe should be documented. A check of the local and state press websites can also glean information regarding things like escapes and personnel shortages/changes.

Note any security firms that operate in your AO, their locations and the services that they provide.

Economy and Finance

In this section of the area study you will enter information related to the economic and financial state of your AO and AI. City, town and county websites can provide data regarding major employers and types of industries in the area. Many times these listings will contain the number of people working in each industry, and again the latest census data can be used to note trends.

State and county unemployment data should be entered, including any plans by government and non-government entities to improve the employment numbers. Welfare policies should be documented.

Economic disparity data, including items such as income levels, poverty statistics, housing information and other labor profile statistical data should be entered. If the area has economic development plans that information should be included as well.

Threat Overview

The threat overview breaks down into four areas:

• Conventional
• Irregular
• Catastrophic
• Disruptive

The conventional threats will usually revolve around armed invasions, incursions or some form of “peacekeeping” operation. These forms of conventional threats could conducted by military forces, government agencies (DHS and FEMA come to mind) or a global organization like the United Nations. Conduct an honest assessment of the ability of your AO to meet these potential threats.

The irregular threats include gangs and their activities, criminal activity, organized crime as well as the possibility of mobs and looters. Gang data is available for most cities and towns, and many states have dedicated law enforcement units to work on gang-related cases. These locations also have volumes of crime statistics that will allow you to assess the threat from everything from cybercrime to murder. Larger cities, states and the federal government compile data on organized crime, and again that wealth of information should be combed for applicable data. Lastly, the threat of and by mobs and looters needs to be assessed. I am sure that more than a few readers of this blog have already conducted this part of the assessment.

Catastrophic threats include an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, disablement of local power supplies, an incident at a nearby nuclear power plant, a forest fire, flooding, or an economic reset. Assess your vulnerability to EMP attack in light of your vicinity to targets in your AO/AI, as well as from a national level. Data to assist in planning security operations to safeguard local power infrastructure (electrical, gas, etc.) that may not have been captured previously can be added here. The U.S. Forest Service has excellent websites that summarize the state and national forests and detail their efforts to minimize wildfires (we will not talk about the west-coast states). Flooding risks can be documented from local insurance companies and the National Weather Service.

Two items that I call out for more specific information include an incident at a nuclear power plant and an economic reset.

All nuclear power plants are required to have emergency plans documented that are available to and have been communicated to the public. These Emergency Planning Zones (EPZ) are two sizes – 10 mile and 50 mile. Maps displaying these zones will be in the emergency planning documents, as well as shelter and evacuation information.

A communication plan will also be part of the emergency documentation, and this should be entered into your area study. Local press articles can be useful for gathering any historical data as well as any recent incidents that might warrant attention.

With our country carrying over $25 TRILLION in debt as of the date of this posting, assessing the ability of your AO/AI to withstand an economic reset is vital. I will not go into detail on the scenarios of such an event as our esteemed host and many, many others have been warning us of this for a couple of decades. In the case of my area studies, I have used this section to assess emergency availability of food and water supplies and the ability of the AO/AI to contend with catastrophic shortages. This pandemic has been an especially valuable test run for what is still to come.

Finally, the disruptive events include short-term grid-down scenarios, tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, snowstorms, and a pandemic. The susceptibility of the AO and AI to each of these disruptions should be assessed and documented. Most of you have most likely already done this as part of your preparedness regimen.

This concludes my posting on how the completion of an area study allows that knowledge to power a variety of contingency and security planning efforts. I hope that this is helpful and wish all of you the best for the future. Work hard, pray hard, keep your powder dry and God bless you all.




61 Comments

  1. We as a nation of supposedly intelligent beings are soooooo misled by the complacency of the media and the corrupt political demigods. Enjoy the writers submitted article. The mention of our debt being “25 trillion” sends me into orbit…..folks the 25 trillion is secured debt backed by savings bonds…..there is another 175 trillion of unsecured debt (that’s the can political jokers have been kicking down the road since before wwII.) I worked for the U.S Treasury Department for some years during my career, and experienced first hand the corrupt and wastefulness of the political geniuses we allow to run us to ruin. Obama a great example of wasted dna entered the people’s house in 2009 believe secured debt was 10.1 trillion and unsecured debt was around 80 trillion. Eight sad years later he had given the bank away to a tune of around 22 trillion secured and 165 trillion in unsecured debt. Wake up people our nation is printing itself out of paper, the first result is being felt right now it’s called hyperinflation. I remember Glenn beck warning us in 2012 about what’s coming and the example was 25 dollars for a can of beans…I laughed a little then……..I am not laughing now. We need common sense back in our mindset, there is a point of no return and president trump along with some other past Presidents had a clear understanding what’s coming. Even Herman Cain who worked for the Federal Reserve would openly discuss out total debt……..one other point……the Comptroller of the Currency who oversees all National Banks placed in those banks back in the early 70s sealed bags of colored paper currency ( example one dollar bills were red, five dollars bills another shade and so on) this colored currency was meant to be used during a war or economic decline. An example would be you in that event would exchange current currency for the new colored currency let says the rate was 100 to one you bring in the old currency of 100 dollars and the treasury dept agent would hand you 1 dollars of the colored type…..get the picture. Even the bank management does not know what those sealed canvas bags contain, nor most politicians or citizens. I know because I was one of the team of agents whose job was to to audit those bags during a comptroller of currency bank examinations audit. Today we should be aware and understand the political push to eliminate paper money….it will be much easier to control you and your assets with a push of a button…. think on it, we are so misled in this country by the political inmates we have allowed to run the institution. God bless this country and May gods will lead us.

    1. Hyperinflation is baked into the cake. There is more than unfunded liabilities to consider. They are planning on a guaranteed minimum income to kill production and businesses, and well as other massive giveaways, and schemes heretofore imaged. Check with Catherine Austin Fits, and John Skid Moore about the 21 trillion he discovered and documented as lost, and the rumored 35 trillion lost in just the last 3 years. And because of the rise in nationalism signaled by the election of Trump, the Globalist elite our right took of their mask off during the blatant theft of the election to accelerate their plan, and attempt to squash the rising tide of nationalism that is occurring world wide. The pattern we see emerging is a radical departure from the pattern of the last decade. They are in the process of turning over the table and installing a police state globally.

      It is import to recognize that we are in a new paradigm, that they have declare war by any and all means on us and the rest of the world, but they must take down rip out the roots of the last bastion of freedom that is the U.S. with great speed. Expect the unexpected. Economic war has already been waged though Biden’s EO’s. They mean to starve us out by killing the economy and the USD as we know it. The massive wave of deflation ahead may postpone the hyperinflation a bit, yet the massive debt is overwhelming, and they would use it to kill dollar to institute a cryto currency and consolidate power. They know that they cannot get enough of the guns to turn us into slaves, but they can certainly starve us into submission.

      However, if we can secure and isolate the inland Northwest, and issue local currency, we can, to at least minimal extent, break away from the greater economy and the stiffing effects of a digital currency and an onerous tyranny.

  2. Excellent pair of articles. I would like to recommend that under “Critical Infrastructure”, you include information on critical communications infrastructure as well, such as:

    NOAA Weather Radio frequencies serving the area, when weather emergencies might affect operations

    Local Amateur Radio repeater frequencies, scheduled net times, club affiliations. Even non-“hams” can listen in on these and get information during emergencies with relatively low-technology equipment. Better yet, get your license and drill with them!

    Local or regional Emergency Broadcast Service stations, primary and secondary, which should be available online.

    Cellular providers in the AO and AI. Watch out for towers and pinpoint on maps for determining possible areas of poor coverage.

    Listings of major and minor broadcast radio stations, formats, transmitter locations, and network affiliations (listening is not dependent on high technology items, like digital television broadcast is anymore).

    During times of upset or emergency, continuity of communications is vital to operations and certainly has a place in emergency planning.

    1. Ham nets are scheduled large group meetings on air typically conducted on a 2 meter repeater, and HF . Shortwave receivers with SSB can listen in to the HF nets if you are not in a skip zone. They are usually advertise on the local Amateur Radio club website. However, if that information is not available, check the 2 meter repeaters in your area with any VHF receiver for traffic on a Sunday evening 6 to 8 pm.

  3. Just a reminder to you all:

    We firmly feel that the vaccine is not safe! We seriously recommend that none of our readers take it no matter what.

    We suspect that leadership does not have our best interest at hand.

    We suspect that the vaccine in a binary weapon. The first inoculation sets up your body to be sensitized to a virus. The second vaccine may introduce the virus itself that will be the kill shot. Just wait and observe.

    The Georgia Guidstones indicate that the “elites” want to reduce the World’s population to 500 million. The vaccine is their STEALTH weapon of choice! People will die from this vaccine over the next two years. They will blame the deaths on other virus strains, not covered by the vaccine. It will be a spread out over time genocide.

    Heed our warning!

      1. LargeMarge,

        I was just going to correct your spelling of “rust” homes, to “rest” homes, then thought the word was quite apt, and knowing that you don’t usually misspell words, decided to leave it. Sadly, “rust” homes is an appropriate word for old folks homes. 🙁

        I’ll listen to Paul Harvery. He may very well have been a spokesperson for the elites, “predicting the future”/ Predictive programming. It is the Elites policy to tell the masses that which they are planning to do. It is a form of “being” god , who prophesies of the future, AND according to their beliefs a form of redemption, meaning they’ll be forgiven for what they do, because the populace had fair warning, even if they didn’t believe it, thought it was science fiction, etc. There will be a special place in hell for them.

    1. Check out his link and scroll down through the hits. Depending on the location, up to 60% of healthcare workers are refusing or are hesitant to get the vaccine.

      https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffsb&q=percentage+of+healthcare+workers+being+vaccinated+covid&ia=web

      The statistics so far say if you’re under 60 and don’t have any underlying conditions then your chances of the virus being life threatening are slim. Last numbers I saw said 40% of people don’t even show symptoms, though I haven’t checked for an update on that in a while. Two of the most at-risk conditions are people on dialysis and diabetes, with heart and lung disease also on the list.

      Just my personal choice but I agree with Lily and have no intentions whatsoever of getting the vaccine. I’d rather get the virus and let my own system provide the immunity.

      1. “I’d rather get the virus and let my own system provide the immunity.” This is my exact same thought on the subject as well and I agree with everything that Avalanche Lily has posted thus far about any form of vaccination being harmful. I know of nobody that has had their health improved by any vaccination, but on the contrary I know of quite a few people (first hand = friends) that have had their health compromised by going the “accepted medical route”. There is zero nutrition in vaccines, but there is poison in them.

      2. For my DW and I it barely a mild cold. The only reason I’m sure it was covid was because my DW lost her sense of taste and smell. My DW has several issues putting her at high risk and the only way she could get it is from me. I rather put my trust in the Lord than in man.

    2. Spot on……..we are never told the % of coverage the “flu shot” really is designed for in past years I remember the % of coverage was as low as 12%….and today we have heard that there are several new strains already in the country. People wake up even the top medical doctors at the AMA have referenced the 1917 Spanish flu in that out of over a hundred million deaths worldwide up to 30 million deaths were do to viral pneumonia……due to masks ….oh my….do we ever learn from history. Let your immune system work, no face diapers or flu shots for this kid.

  4. Good article. I suggest finding a copy of your local modern soil survey, which is normally conducted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of USDA. It will provide a huge amount of information about the area besides the actual soil survey. Included will be data on climate, economy, populations, rainfall, frost dates, suitability of different soils for crops, soil chemistry, and lots of other data. The majority have been printed in booklets and have maps included. Also should be available online.

    1. Here’s a link I found last night that looks very useful with first and last frost dates, and the probabilities of frost occurring on three different dates: 10%, 50%, and 90% chance dates.

      https://morningchores.com/frost-dates/

      Frost is also largely dependent on our local terrain and other factors so the best thing to do is keep a record very year to get a more precise handle on what the dates are. This year my killer frost date was almost a month later than last year.

  5. Just a few comments and suggestions-
    Re: Maps- try to find older USGS Topographical (topo) maps printed before 9-11. After 9-11 a lot of data was removed from the USGS Topo maps. Items such as pipelines and radio towers were removed.

    A good area study will want to include the EPA sites that fall under the emergency planning requirement due to having extremely hazardous substances (EHS). The location are most industrial manufactures and the EHS chemicals are those that present an airborne inhalation hazard. These location could have leaks but in a true SHTF/TEOTWAWKI scenario these locations could have problems that go unchecked. Many of the EHS locations have internal special teams to address leaks/spills. But think of a scenario such as a good earthquake that causes catastrophic damage. Hazmat team won’t be able to respond to all the locations. In a WROL environment people may try to “scavenge” (steal) or vandalize these location causing chemicals to release. Think giant clouds of chlorine or ammonia that don’t dissipate for miles. You local emergency management office should know these locations but beware asking for a list of these sites throws up red flags!! Most will NOT provide a list but if you ask about the EHS hazard of a particular building in writing (sometimes it has to be a formal written “right to know request”) these laws were past after the Bhopal India chemical leak and a few small ones here in the states, but again 9-11 caused a clamp down on getting this type of info (probably a good thing really).

    Water infrastructure- it is okay to know where this stuff is at but what are the capabilities. Most city water treatment plants do not have generator back up. Instead they rely upon stored capacity – which is no org 3 day assuming there isn’t a large fire that uses a lot. I find that if the local water source is surface water (river/lake) you might be lucky and have a system with generator back up since the need for huge electrical pumps to draw water up are not needed.

    Threats- know the gangs in your area and their symbols.

    I live in an area with a lot of Mennonite and Amish so I try to remember locations of saw Mills, green houses, bulk food stores, buggy shops etc.

    1. re:
      censored maps

      Think ‘three-dimensional’:
      * Charts For Airmen include permanent aerials and other inconvenient obstructions.
      * Charts For Airmen include above-ground pipelines and high-power transmission lines for an observant aircrew to follow in case of radio failure… or a total panel failure from mice gnawings or EMP or just the generalized category of ‘stuff happens’.

      Fiddling around chasing clouds along the east coast of the Pacific, I tend to keep track of roads and mountains and other visual cues…

      …and I probably will until somebody realizes I probably shouldn’t, and they sequester this drooling doorstop in a ‘rust’ home.
      .
      .
      [ note to g-men: the phrase ‘drooling doorstop’ refers to my future self, and is not intended as a slur against Glorious Leader china joe or First Son hunter biden because they are in full control of their faculties, and regardless, are doing a fine fine splendid job ]

    1. Take a look at our unfunded liabilities at the bottom of the charts that include SS, MC Pensions etc. Our debts are 10x the amount often quoted and exceed 300 Trillion.

      1. Something NOT on the Debt Clock — our Net International Investment Position (NIIP). I.e, our Net Debt owed to foreigner after subtracting what they owe to us.

        Was $2 trillion when Obama entered office in Jan 2009 — is now $14 TRILLION dollars.

        https://www.bea.gov/data/intl-trade-investment/international-investment-position

        Which is why I think the Neocon War Hawks are so hilarious — their stupidity has put us so deep in the hole that we can “confront” a rising China only if China first lends us the money with which to pay our soldiers and sailors.

        1. The word Quadrillions comes to mind. I refuse to call debt ‘money’ because money in America is a measurement of gold & silver only as defined in our Founding Documents, several Coinage Acts and our U.S.C

  6. Brand new to this site today.
    Am a very concerned senior and was trying to do research into alternative communications. Living in a medium sized city near wilderness areas with lots of terrain, mountains, deserts, etc, I was trying to decide the best way to go, CB or walkie talkies? Would like to be able to listen in to local chatter about possible threats, weather and also communicate with loved ones at base. Being a complete newby here, what would my best options be? I am setting up my go-bag in case of worst case scenarios. Thanks for your advice and patience.

    1. Consider adding a shortwave radio with SSB for listening to local and global news information. There are many good prepper type shows that broadcast over the SW frequencies.

    2. Tunnel Rabbit has a lot of expertise on this subject. If he posts here today, you might click on Reply to his post and ask him directly (This site alerts Posters to Replies by email.)

      If he doesn’t show up, you can scroll down to his Jan 24 article on “Pirate Radio for Sea and Land” and post the question there as a Reply to one of his posts, assuming posts are still allowed on that article. If not, he should show up in the next few days — generally posts at least once a week.

      For local surveillance, a scanner is useful. There are two types — the older , cheaper analog type and the new, more expensive and more complicated P25 digital needed to receive the cell-phone type police/EMS comms used in many urban areas with crowded airwaves.

      To see which type you need, go to RadioReference.com and look up info for your local county. Even in urban areas with some agencies using P25, many agencies still use Analog broadcasts due to P25 expense. If just monitoring the Analog subset is adequate, then no need to go to the more expensive p25 scanner.

      I like the Uniden BCD436HP ($458) for P25 monitoring. For many rural areas the Analog scanner can be used and I like the Uniden BC125AT $125) for that. The P25 scanners can cover Analog broadcasts as well.

      Having multiple receivers is useful. E.g, you might have a CB radio that scans even if your scanner can do the job in order to offload work from the scanner. For same reason, you might also have GMRS/FRS receiver that can scan for nearby transmissions.

      You should always have a AM/FM radio since much of the US government communications in an emergency will go out over that.

      A NOAA weather receiver is needed since that will sound an alarm and alert you to Government Emergency messages (e.g local tornado or nuclear attack) In some places you can sign up to have the local county emergency ops center send text alarms (CMAS) to your cell phone for similar emergencies. The alert capability is important since you often will not have the radio on (e.g when asleep at night.)

      You need a cell phone — I like the cheap burner phones but a smartphone that hooks into the Internet lets you bring up Google Maps and see how bad a local traffic jam is ahead and alternate routes. Useful if you’re trying to Get out of Dodge in a disaster.

      If you live in an earthquake zone, the local telephone/cell phone network may be knocked out when earth shifts cuts the underlying fiber optic lines. In that case, a Garmin Inreach SE phone lets you send text messages to family/rescuers in other areas via the Iridium Satellite network. $260 plus $10 or more a month for subscription. Plus has a Emergency button that calls in Rescuers if you break a leg in the wilderness.

      For all the above, you need rechargeable batteries and a power source. The source might be your automobile battery (with appropriate voltage rechargers) but a separate deep cycle marine battery handles recharging long term better and avoids the risk of sabotaging your car by running its battery down. You can charge the deep cycle marine battery with charging cables from your car or with a 100 watt solar cell panel sold for $125 by COSTCO.

      Note that using headphones for your receivers instead of loudspeakers greatly reduces their power consumption and doesn’t disturb other people who are sleeping.

      1. An Area Study of the Air Waves.

        To take better advantage of the Close Call features on those scanners, put them on a high gain antenna such as a slim jim. The Close Call feature is a frequency counter that is not as sensitive as the receiver is, hence the name, Close Call. The use of a good antenna will improve the distance at which the Close Call can detect and report a frequency that is not in you scan list and needs immediate attention. It is critical for situational awareness. However, using this feature requires one to be at or near the scanner to see or record the frequency, as the frequency is only displayed momentarily.

        Basic SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) techniques can also be used in an Area Study. Simply set the scanners to sweep the various bands and stop on an active frequency, and freezes the frequency on the display. You do not need to hear the traffic, we are in the process of creating a list to scan in the future. Record the frequency, and block out that frequency, or simply continue the scan. After a full week, we now have list of frequencies to scan. Load up the scan list for the each of the bands, ie. VHF, UHF, but focus on particular radio services, number one being the Ham bands, 2 meter, 70cm , 6 meter, 10 meter…unfortunately most scanners cannot scan 1.25 meters. Hams will be a source of low hanging fruit in terms of future intelligence. I would therefore avoid the use of repeaters and Ham bands…….
        Next would be FRS/GMRS, MURS, CB, etc, and then do the full spectrum by sweeping the band between radio services, that is, sweep the gapes between bands such as 148 to 151.800 mhz. Eventually we’ll find those who are transmitting a regular basis on the various services, and illegally.

        Hunting season is the best time to find those who are use are already using radio in a clandestine way. You will be surprised by what you find. Radio Reference.com can also supply you with government and Amateur repeaters that are mostly silent, but could come alive during fires etc. It also supplies you with all the Hams licensed in your AO, and business and individuals who have licenses to use certain frequencies. Download this data base.

        By using this method, we have a scanner pre- loaded with frequencies that are likely to be used in a disaster, and a data base that includes call signs and their general location, that can greatly aid in our situational awareness, or be used to develop intelligence, time permitting. It is best to perform this kind of survey every 6 months, or during every hunting season to update. My area Hams have installed several new digital repeaters I was previously unaware of. It can take up to a year before record of new repeater and new users appear on government records.

        I cannot afford or justify a digital scanner at this time, but I can still hear a digital transmissions and DF it, if necessary. I may only need to know if they are active or not. It is about establishing a base line of activity on the air waves, and changes in patterns of life, that can be as telling as specific information gathered. Hopefully I would have time for a full on SIGINT effort as that could a low risk way to drive my defenses. Unfortunately we will have to wear many hats. running a digital recorder on VOX can compress a 24 hour period of hours into minutes of listening. It would be better than nothing, if we could not carry a scanner with us when we do our chores….

      2. Marine verse Deep Cycle Batteries

        Hi Don,

        Unfortunately the marketing of lead acid batteries in past decades has perpetuated misconceptions about the applications that these batteries are in actuality designed for. This attempt to correct this widely accepted, and persistent misconception, may serve those who read this post. and may save them from disappointment in the future.

        The Marine battery is designed with the intention of providing a large amount of power for the few seconds required to start a large motor, and to provide additional reserve power not available in most automotive batteries. it has a little extra reserve capacity, more so that a standard automotive starting battery. It is somewhat compromise, or hybrid design, yet it is essentially a starting battery. Having been in the automotive business for decades, I am aware that most automotive parts store are not fully appreciative of the difference between battery types and their intended applications. The battery industry is partly to blame. The Marine battery is often marketed and sold as a deep cycle battery when it is in fact not. It is important to make this distinction as running radios on these batteries would not have the run time as radios run on true deep cycle batteries such as the popular Trojan T-105, or Trojan L116.

        A Marine battery is actually a starting battery. In recent years Marine batteries are now belately stating the CCA (cold cranking amperage) that by the presents of such information, defines it as a starting battery. True deep cycle batteries are rated in ampere hours, or Amp Hours, A/H, and not CCA. The difference between these two types of batteries in terms storing power is significant. The starting battery can not compete with a storage battery in this regard. And the storage battery is designed to be deeply discharged on a regular daily basis for service of life of years, yet loose much less loss in it’s capacity each time it is discharged. In contrast, a starting battery, if deeply discharged during on one occasion, will rapidly loose it ability to store power. For example, if a new starting battery is deeply discharged so the voltage reads near 12.1 vdc, it is physically damaged and can loose up 30 percent of it’s CCA rating after only one deep discharge. After 3 or 4 deep discharges, the starting battery is quickly rendered too weak to perform it’s primary job, and would have little reserve power to power 12vdc accessories, or radios. Any true deep cycle battery would quickly demonstrate that it outperforms a Marine, or other type of automotive battery, as these batteries do not hold up as a storage battery role for long.

        If a true deep cycle battery is not available, use an automotive starting battery gently, and do not let it become discharged, but only slightly, or as little as possible. Use techniques to mitigate. For example, charge radio batteries during the day when the sun shines to reduce the burden the automotive/Marine battery must bear, by using the power from the PV panels to charge up radio, and rely less on the battery, thus extending it’s useful life in a role it was not designed for.

        1. Another battery consideration in the consumer arena is an Absorbed Glass Mat Battery. We use them at work. Optima and Odyssey have the best chemistries though many AGMs should out perform a vehicle/boat wet cell. I’ve had Optima’s shipped to my house via UPS, mail, etc. They are not considered hazardous. They have slower self discharge than wet cells and I’ve been told they survive going dead better than a wet cell. If you have the funds, can move the weight, don’t mind the maintenance and charging, I’d buy the trojan’s or similar batteries designed for solar applications as Tunnel Rabbit recommends.

        2. T/R,

          Thanks for the information, especially the tip on Trojan deep cycle batteries. I’ve been looking for a brand recommendation.

          It is true that many people erroneously insist that our 8D boat batteries function as a deep cycle AND starting battery. As you stated, they are wrong.

          1. Trojan batteries are well established, but similar quality deep cycle batteries made in the U.S. cost less per amp hour. Check the price of less well known brands and see that the reviews on these batteries is satisfactory.

            I used off brand batteries and used them hard and found their life span to be equivalent to reports of Trojan T-105’s, and paid much less. Wet batteries do require more maintenace and have shorter life spans, but they can take abuse whereas the higher tech and expensive batteries may not. While the performance of high tech batteries is impressive, so is their price, and untold is the charging and other conditions of use that allow one to get their money’s worth.

            With the exception of latest lithium-ion, they are all essentially lead acid batteries, ‘Wet’ lead acid are by far the least expensive. With depth of discharge being a regular 50%, the peak capacity fades to less useful levels after about 3 years.
            If you can purchase lead acid batteries in ‘dry form’, then the battery can sit for years unattended, and acid added when they are need. We would get the most battery for the buck and into the future.

    3. Stay tuned here. One of our regular poster’s here is working on an article regarding communications. I believe they will be providing options for different setups. I don’t know when it will be posted, but they indicated to me that they were writing the article this week. The authors name is Tunnel Rabbit. You could also try the search functions at the top of the page using radio or commission as your search keyword. Welcome to the site, there is a wealth of information here.

    4. Start with the fundamental checklists that you can find at FEMA and other government sites, along with several of the survival magazines that are on the store shelves. There are a tremendous amount of information in the archives of this site along with many others. I recommend downloading and printing the ones you consider most important, since you may not have any online communications at some point in the future.

    5. I’m working on an article for those just like you but it will be weeks before it gets published. The problem for many is breaking though the technology barrier. I could recommend a scanner, a Boafeng, but then it would have to be programmed. I could recommend that some one get their Ham ticket, but that may not work out for them. I know several highly educated persons who simply can not deal with radios. If Sally estimated the distance, as the crow flies to her loved ones, then I might suggest something. If Sally used the net to determine if there is a GMRS repeater in her area, GMRS might be the way to go.

    6. `PS I forgot to mention — some counties have web sites that list local emergency calls (police calls to traffic accidents, ambulance calls for medical problems, fires,etc.) Those are a lot easier to use (and cheaper) than buying/programming a scanner but obviously depend upon the Internet staying up.

      Example: https://www.montcopa.org/264/Active-Incident-WebCAD

      Also, there are several web sites that store transmissions picked up by a network of amateur scanners for replay. I.e, instead of listening on a scanner you just click to have your computer retrieve the recording from the Internet site so you can listen to it.

      This is particularly helpful if you want to know what is going on in a remote city where family members live and which is 1000 miles from the reception range of your local scanner. Portland Oregon, for example.

    7. Sally,

      I will be 69 in a few weeks.

      I know next to nothing about a lot, so I gather folks with expertise — or at least a strong interest — in areas I have zero-zero-zero inclination to investigate.
      Fussing with radios falls into my “probably should but probably won’t” category.

      In my humble, a solid group offers greater value for the buck than collecting more gadgetry.

      In your hometown, you might find radio fanatics by looking for Meet-Up groups or poking around the senior center.
      Speaking of, the senior centers near me — Eugene and Springfield Oregon — usually have a ‘somebody knows somebody’ chain of acquaintances to fuss with just about anything.

      One good point about old folks:
      * If something is ‘on the fritz’, instead of getting on the short-bus for the weekly excursions around town to buy new, we try really hard to fix it.

      One bad point about old folks:
      * We tend toward rambling, including side-stories about did you know Morrie well his wife or was it his wife’s cousin they had Holsteins or was it Herefords I like their big eyes and that reminds me of the time…

      1. LM, you encapsulate my attitude about quite a few things: Fussing with radios falls into my “probably should but probably won’t” category.

        Accurate and crisp.

        Carry on

      2. Re: we tend toward rambling. ..
        Hah, yes, how true… (I’ll be 64 in a few days)

        And good call on the aviation maps… yes, a lot of detailed info on those maps… not exactly like a road map for automobiles, but still worth having. Good for old school navigation for when the GPS satellites are killed by Chinese and Russian lasers. For those who aren’t familiar with them, you can buy them online or often go to a local airport office (FBO) and buy them.
        The sectional charts are not broken up by state, but by section or region. (Go to sportys pilot shop online to see what’s available)

    8. Sally, here are two options:

      1) I suggest a very specific radio, the BaoFeng UV5R. Those exact numbers. Get a set of two. It will get you two complete kits with original batteries and recharger, along with earpieces.

      Buy the extended use 3800 mAh battery, although of them would be better.

      Buy the Nagoya vehicle antenna that magnetically sticks to steel, rated for Bao Feng radio, which includes the adapter between radio and antenna.

      Look up Youtube videos on how to operate your new radios. Why get two? They work but they are fragile, and are just one tenth the cost of a quality radio made in the US.

      2) Purchase a GMRS radio license from the FCC website. Good for ten years for less than $70.

      Purchase a set of Midland GMRS radios, the ones that include the weather bands. It comes complete with everything you listed for about $80.

      I would normally post the links but SB is no longer doing that for the sources we’ve used in the past so I am honoring their wishes.

      God Bless

      1. The Baofeng UV5R you can order direct from China (e.g. from another company beginning with ‘B’), will be cheaper, have more power, and a whole range of frequencies not now activated on the ones sold in the US. By most readings of the new regulations, it’s OK to own them if you don’t transmit on the now-deactivated frequencies, and only transmit on the (selectable) low power. I have found the ‘B’ company’s service to be excellent, though delivery can now take months due to shipping backlogs. After SHTF, those extra frequencies and extra power may be very handy indeed.
        Be aware however that almost all Nagoya aerials are fake, offering no performance increase, and you would be well advised to pay the extra and buy one only from a recognised radio dealer in the US.

  7. Re Terrain Analysis, a much more detailed tactical analysis of just your local neighborhood (and evacuation route if you plan on one) can be done using the Army’s OCOKA approach to sketch out/ outline on a map:

    a) Observation (areas open to) and Fields of Fire
    b) Cover and Concealment (Cover stops bullets, Concealment doesn’t)
    c) Obstacles and Movement
    d) Key Terrain
    e) Avenues of Approach (e.g, by incoming hostile force)

    Ex: http://reenactorpro.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Map-reading-lesson-5.pdf

    Note that above is based in part on expected weapons and tactics used by a hostile force
    (gang with pistols vs pickup truck tacticals vs armored vehicles vs helicopter gunship ).

  8. Excellent summary.
    As another former Intelligence Officer, could I suggest adding the following:

    Likely nearby nuclear targets, and prevailing winds for these and any nuclear power plants. There are online simulators to help you assess the potential radiation hazard.

    Level of law enforcement presence and effectiveness
    Level of government presence and effectiveness
    Level of civilian co-operation with law enforcement and government
    Level of gray and black economies
    These can be difficult to assess without living there. Finding a few long term residents who will talk to you is probably the best bet.

    Remember that low or high levels can be good or bad, depending on the combinations. My local area has zero police presence because we have zero crime.
    Do not assume that because the local media does or does not report certain problems or crimes, that the local population regards or does not regard those things as problems or crimes. I have lived in 7 countries on 3 continents. Everywhere has its own combination of things which are “acceptable”, “acceptable but don’t talk about it”, or “unacceptable”, and some of those things may be polar opposites even in different areas of the same country. You need to find somewhere with a combination that you personally find morally acceptable and socially convenient.

    Once one is settled somewhere, local history can be very useful for assessing rare event risk, such as forest fires, ice storms, or drought/famine. There is likely very little or none of this available on the internet. Joining a local emergency service/volunteer organisation, as well as being community-minded, is a very useful source of such information.

    1. Thank you Pontius for even more great suggestions for additions to the study. Last week I was approved to join our local volunteer fire department. It’s already paid dividends with access to even more critical infrastructure information sources to dive in to.

      1. Where I am, certain gas stations have been designated as essential in emergencies and have generators to power the pumps. This information is not publicly available, yet they have still been open to the public during power outages, so it is useful to know which.
        Certain routes becoming blocked can isolate whole areas, for example by snow, flooding, or a vehicle accident taking down a power line onto the road. There may be no alternative route, or one limited by, say, bridge weight restrictions. There may be an alternative (possibly unmarked on road maps) track usable by 4WD vehicles. It pays to know all these. For one organisation I worked for, I was successful in getting a second depot for emergency supplies opened, as our vehicle and trailer would have been unable to cross the alternative bridge had the main route become blocked. This situation had existed for over 20 years, yet I was the first to notice. The main route did indeed become blocked 5 years later. It would be unwise to assume either that your local emergency organisations have noticed all these things, or if they have that they or the government have done anything about it. I can assure you that official emergency plans, allegedly practiced and reviewed for years, can be completely useless in reality. I’ve seen it more than once. Some and or all your local organisations may be completely on the ball, but I would recommend checking.

        1. Pontius,

          Excellent point about potential travel restrictions.

          My suggestion:
          * occasionally abandon the “I explore my area in my vehicle” mentality.

          Get out and walk your area.
          Occasionally, get uncomfortable — walk at night during rough weather.
          Look for potential blocks from falling bridges, overpasses, trestles, electric lines… and abandoned vehicles forming a ‘fatal funnel’.

          If I was me, I might think like a bush-whacker.
          ‘Could this blind curve conceal a potential ambush?’
          I think a wise person might investigate potential hiding spots above the road, places for bush-whackers to safely ‘modify’ my ‘best-laid plans’.

          Today’s normal may not resemble tomorrow’s normal.
          Some say, pretty soon, we may look back at 2020 with fondness…

          1. All good points, especially about getting uncomfortable occasionally. Do not neglect the use of the water or the air either.
            It is best to look at these things from the viewpoints of both attacker and defender. Partly, one needs to understand the viewpoint of the opponent. Perhaps more importantly, attack is often the best form of defense. Be ready to take the fight to the enemy, and to do so earlier rather than later, when they will be least prepared.

  9. Check with your state and local GIS offices. GIS has a wealth of information that can be used. For example, a local city did a study on city owned trees, including location, type and condition. Doesn’t seem like much but knowing ahead of time the location of fruit and nut trees might give you an advantage over someone just out foraging.

  10. This started out as a very good piece, but taken with the comments section it has become a superb piece of information for everyone. This is one I will print out and add to my own assessment. Good intelligence people share information without worrying about who gets the credit as long as the task is accomplished, or the threat is ended or diminished.

    Good assessment is a never-ending task as you should be constantly updating your information based on changes in the environment (new government, economic change, security threat, etc.)

    Thank you Viking 4 and JWR for the work you do.

  11. Be careful when gathering info on neighbors. If it’s on line that is one thing but if you go places asking about people and they are not familiar with you can open a can of worms for you. Just saying many people don’t like or want people knowing much about them.
    And if you ask the wrong person it will get back to them and my not be accepted well. Just be careful to not be to nosey.

  12. Thanks for the info, Viking4.

    A suggestion:
    One thing people living near large cities might look at is the emergency plans of those cities — esp the evacuation routes and refuge areas. My local county had failed to do so.

    I always thought a hilarious comedy could be done based on a wealthy rural conservative family suddenly having 5 families from the city boarded in their house by FEMA during a nuclear war alert.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1977/01/20/plans-for-area-evacuation-in-nuclear-war-studied/99c6918e-91ab-4f83-b87b-951fb6622355/

  13. A few points to add to this good series:

    Names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, for people important to your plan of actions. See list below.

    Find out the home addresses, home/office/cell phone numbers of local authorities and key utility officials.

    Have you introduced yourself to the board or mobile work force members, or actual owner or employee of :

    Water utility or irrigation district
    Electric utility
    Natural Gas Utility
    County Dept of Emergency Management
    Sherriff/remote LEO offices
    Local Search and Rescue- units or scout/explorer posts
    Off Road Vehicle Club (rescue/deep snow/cross country movement asset)
    Hunting/Sportsmans club/Shooting ranges/Muzzleloader
    Country General/Coop/Farm store
    Local grocery store
    Doctor/Nurse/Dentist/Pharmacist
    Old Folks/Rest Home (source of bottled oxygen/respiratory equip/medical)
    FBI/other LEO
    Bureau of Land Management
    Bureau of Reclamation
    US Forest Service
    State Forestry/Natural Resource
    Game/Fish Wildlife State and Federal
    State and Federal Firefighting Agencies
    State and Federal Park Services
    County Road and Park agencies
    Radio Repair shops

    Next, get their radio frequencies for all the above. Every one of these agencies uses radios and many use repeaters as well. List them all out and start monitoring them. This is the best source of full time intelligence you can get.

    Make yourself a spread sheet and list every one you have established a personal contact with. Ask them for their business card. Be active.

    You must build out both HUMINT and SIGINT networks well in advance of actually needing it.

    Most of the above entities will have first hand observation of your AO/AOI and will be radioing real time intel to their head quarters, critical to your awareness.

    God Bless

    1. Well stated, brother. No need to reinvent the wheel when well-prepared and intelligent poeple have done much of your work for you.

      “Most of the above entities will have first hand observation of your AO/AOI and will be radioing real time intel to their head quarters, critical to your awareness.”

      To survive, we need allies. Some will be up close and personal and others, like in your example, will be folks who have done their job. One caveat: check the age of the intel. Topographical features can change, forests can burn, rivers find new channels. Trusting blindly in someone else’s work could be a big mistake.

      Carry on

  14. wow, this article really got me thinking… I’ve done this is a superficial way, but I can see how a detailed study could prove invaluable for a number of scenarios.

    One random thought came to mind; I always make a habit of learning alternate travel routes. Not only alternate roads but dirt roads, off road trails, transmission lines, rail roads, etc. should it be necessary to walk out of a situation because of fires, weather related road closures, possible future scenarios like dead cars clogging the highway after an EMP attack, military or law enforcement lock downs, riots, etc.

    One source is to view satellite views on Google maps (although double check your work as they can and do edit out various things at government request)

      1. Point well taken…
        I think it’s safe to assume The internet may be taken down by EMP one day or a terrorist attack on the underground fiber cables (it’s a major Communication backbone that runs through the center of the country East to west with no protection other than about 4 feet of dirt). And of course, the Deep State greatly admires the power and control of the Chinese government. They may decide one day to just shut the internet down because the smelly peasants are getting unruly.)
        So anything I think that maybe be useful, I save as a pdf file.

  15. Howdy,

    I work inside the tribal reservations and they continue to increase the lockdown restrictions. Mask mandates everywhere and check points to get in and make deliveries. All this and the Feds keep pumping money into the tribes. There is no pushback, they just keep them all muzzled. Yes this could be a pottental powderkeg when the money stops. The only recource is the once great nation of warriors and fighters have given up and gone soft. Our government was bad enough to them but nothing compared to their own BIA and their ongoing internal tyranny.

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