I spent most of my years in the military operating in the Recon genre of Special Operations. A job that had me living out of a rucksack for days if not weeks at a time. I learned very quickly in combat what optimization and efficiency meant, how important considering every ounce was, and how that truly equaled readiness on the battlefield. An early example is water and how we packed it out. On long-range movements on operations, we typically would bring 7 quarts of water per day and have a minimum of 3 days’ worth of water on infiltration. A quart weighs around 2lbs; so easy math, you are looking at 40lbs of water starting off—this made carrying all of our recon gear, comms, ammo, etc. around 120lbs at a minimum. With varied infiltration options, jumping, maritime, long walks, the list goes on, we were damn near combat ineffective from the onset. As we evolved through the war, we started analyzing terrain and utilizing natural water points for resupply, which cut our weight nearly in half.
On deployments, I began to do more mobility centric operations because the terrain we were operating in (over 10k feet) deprived us of oxygen and compromised our physical capabilities. In Special Operations, we had the luxury in preparation to pick and choose equipment and decided that ATV, side by side, and non-standard vehicles were the best bet. We acquired recoilless rifles, machine guns, ammo cans, mounts, and fixed them to every vehicle we owned and began living and operating off our rigs. One saying I’ll always remember is, “the mobility platform is an extension of your rucksack and should be loaded out accordingly.” I also learned you need to understand all strengths and weaknesses of your platform prior to the operation. For example, ATV, great for narrow paths and quick maneuvers, but obviously offers no protection against gunfire and IED’s and was limited in payload in sheer weight. I learned that Land Rovers although not always the most reliable were good enough for combat and was like an old stubborn mule in that it would go anywhere in the worst terrain that Northern Afghanistan had to offer.
As I translate a lot of the elements of rucks into mobility for our clients at Fieldcraft Survival, all these experiences make me wonder. How viable are our vehicles that we use today and how capable are they really in the worst-case scenario?
Imagine this… Imagine that all the electricity went out indefinitely. The ATM machines, the gas stations, the convenient and grocery stores, hospitals, cell phone towers, your house, everything was out. You are literally left in the dark. How long would you last? This question has made me rethink a lot of my own preparation and my own mindset. I mean is it really that farfetched to imagine the electricity being knocked out by a natural or manmade disaster? Well let’s play hypotheticals for the sake of discussion.
Most you will probably consolidate the best way you can with loved ones. You’ll drive to where your kid goes to school to pick them up, you’ll go to your spouse’s work to try and find them, given the absence of cell phone communication. If you are lucky, this all goes smoothly; but then what? If you haven’t prepared, you more than likely will try and go to the grocery store, and if you are one of the lucky ones that carry cash, you’ll use the last bit of cash you have to buy as much fresh water and food as possible. What do you think everyone else is doing? You guessed it, the same exact thing. So herein lies the problem, which on a smaller scale is comparable to a lot of the resources being scarfed up due to an impending storm, hurricane, etc. Even with all the infrastructure intact, the resources allocated by the supply chain of grocery and retail stores will be depleted in days, sometimes hours. Can you imagine if there were no available resources, zero electricity and panic ensued? You bet things would get real, really fast.