Author’s Introductory Note: I am not advocating for armed conflict; I am specifically writing this article to get people prepared for a different type of disaster than we normally have to be prepared for. I suspect that the majority of people just want to live their lives in peace but may be caught up in a civil conflict. This article is to help families be prepared should it occur.
Normally I am a very optimistic person, but we are not in normal times now, are we? As “Preppers”, “Survivalist”, “Homesteaders”, and others with a self-sufficient mindset, we strive to be prepared to survive potential calamities. Having been a student of survival since I was a teenager, I have accumulated much skills, knowledge, equipment and supplies over the years. I have felt confident in my level of preparedness, with the exception of the big TEOTWAWKI incidents such as nuclear attack, EMP, CME and, meteor impact. For those events I feel that our preps are ok but could definitely be better.
In early January, when the media started to cover a new mysterious viral outbreak in China, I took note and started to evaluate our readiness for a pandemic. The good news is that I felt very confident in our family’s level of preparedness. Being optimistic is okay but over-confidence can be fatal. Acknowledging the potential for the new virus to become a pandemic, having time and funds, we picked up a few extra boxes of Cold & Flu gel capsules, anti-diarrheal, instant hand sanitizer and oral rehydration solution in mid-January when supplies were plentiful and lengths of checkout lines were normal. Identifying the virus as a threat and acting quickly allowed us to avoid the un-prepared or underprepared people flocked to stores and waited in line with their carts full of instant preparedness in early March. If the pandemic wasn’t bad enough then came social unrest.
I remember being in high school civics class in the 1980s and our teacher explaining one of the reasons that America was so great, that be our ordering transfer of government after elections. I think based on what we are seeing, those days of a peaceful and orderly transfer of government may be over. I now find myself unbelievably evaluating our preparedness for civil war.
Thinking over the past several months of the pandemic I can remember hearing several people saying “I couldn’t imagine”, “I can’t believe”, or “whoever thought this could happen? Well people who are pro-active, and take their own safety and security into their own hands, versus those who leave it to chance, have the advantage in survival by being able to overcome the psychological barriers of disbelief. I will admit that when it came to thinking about a civil war breaking out in America, I have been saying “I can’t imagine” or “I can’t believe”. That is until I realized I just don’t want it to happen.
Acknowledging and understanding the threats and impacts that could befall our society should be an eye-opener for just how fragile our society is, but many are “too busy” with life to contemplate what might happen or just don’t want to contemplate the ramifications. As I digest the news of protests and read about things such as the “Transition Integrity Project” I find myself in a position where part of me wants to say, “civil war would never happen here” but history tells us that it can and has happened before in the United States and is common around the world. Acknowledging reality and the true possibilities is the first step in being adequately prepared.
Accepting, but not liking the idea, that we could be a few short months away from a second civil war, I have asked myself “Am I ready?” If not, what do I need to do to be better prepared? In order to answer that we need to think what the environment and threats might be during a civil war. Normally history is a good place to start, but trying to apply the lessons of the civil war from the 1860s might not be so relevant today. I went back and looked at some old newspapers. From the day President Lincoln was elected the fuse to civil war was ignited (some would say that civil war was inevitable from the day the Constitution was approved).
Who Will Blink?
Some of the more interesting things I noticed in these old news articles were northerners asking why the south didn’t use the court system for a remedy. I guess we should be asking why the current protesters aren’t using the court system for redress of grievances as well. I think the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg along with the nomination and confirmation of her replacement will only add fuel to the smoldering fire in that the left may not view the using the justice system will be in their favor anymore. It also seemed that each side was done compromising on their position. The south was dead set on secession and the north was overconfident that either the south would “blink” and not resort to arms or that if war happened, the north would quickly put down the rebellion.
In our current political state, we have two sides that are also digging their heels in and won’t accept compromise or even the decisions of the Supreme Court; unless of course, the court’s decision is in their favor. The Democrats have publicly stated that their candidate should “never” concede and the mainstream media mantra of Trump won’t leave peacefully are setting the stage. We have seen “protesters” set up “autonomous zones” and declare themselves independent of the United States. In an article in the New York Tribune from the April 11, 1861 edition entitled “The Approaching Conflict” the author wrote that conflict was not even up to the decision of Confederate President Jefferson Davis since the “entire community is rushing to arms.” Both sides are preparing for and telling us this will be a tumultuous election with the winner not known for weeks or months or even before inauguration day. Just like the eve of the Civil War we should be contemplating the real possibility that another civil war will break out.
Wars, let alone civil wars, in developed Western nations are not common. However, the Balkans in the 1990s offers a very close perspective that we can use to help prepare ourselves for a civil war. I started to look at everything I could find from Selco who lived through the Balkan civil war. His insights have already helped me identify some areas that I want to improve before the November election.
Food and Water First
It shouldn’t be a surprise food and water seemed to top Selco’s list. He points out however that even those who put provisions away ultimately ran out since the war lasted so long. Being able to produce (grow/raise) becomes necessary.
Security was another issue Selco stresses, but not just guns and ammunition but true security of having a group of people who trust one another and are organized to provide security against armed threats that seek to steal, by any means necessary, your food and supplies.
Medical capabilities are also stressed specifically Selco points out that people were just unable to even try to get to a doctor due to the snipers all around.
So, what have I done with Selco’s hard-earned knowledge? I have started to put more food away mostly staples. To me, rice, beans, cans of chicken and tuna fish seem to be the best bet right now. They are cheap, nutritious and for the most part store easily. I have also started to store something that I haven’t normally stored in the past, candy, specifically hard candy. I have been picking up bags of hard candy at the dollar store for storage. Why? One, they are carbohydrates for energy and two they are a nice morale booster and three they might make a good barter item. I have also started to put in three more raised beds for growing food.
Local Security Concerns
Security is another issue that I have been looking differently. I think back to reading about villages in Vietnam and how they were caught in the middle of war they probably didn’t even care about. I don’t suspect a Special Forces A-team will come in and help me organize my security. Regardless of where you might fall on the political spectrum, we need to understand and knowledge that a civil war in America today will probably NOT be a two-sided war. We have two pollical parties but we have a plethora of political views throughout this county. We will also have criminal elements that don’t care about political issues and will use the anarchy to build a criminal empire.
I forget what post-apocalyptic book I was reading but the author wrote about gangs like MS-13, the Crips and the Bloods, who are already “organized” becoming bigger and more powerful. I normally don’t buy ammunition when these panic buying frenzies start, I have made an exception this time. Also, to increase our ammunition stocks, I have started to reload with the reloading supplies that I had stored away. I have started taking firearms out to confirm they are zeroed in. I am also adding optics to a few as well.
Besides the “normal” guns and ammo, I am looking at things like likely avenues or approach. That is where are the mostly likely places like roads, paths, railroads, streams that people may use to come into our homestead or neighborhood? I have been looking at fields of fire and the best places to put in fighting and listening and observation posts. Specifically, can my positions cover those likely avenues of approach? Where can I put listening and observation post so that we can get an advanced warning that potential harm is heading our way so we can man our positions?
What obstacles can I make so Billy Bad guy can’t just drive up to our doorstep? Are there trees I can pre-identify at key locations that I can saw down to block roads? Can I dig up a road, perhaps where there is a covert across the road? I am also increasing our stocks of “T” posts and barbed wire. Force multipliers are also being looked into. I will be purchasing fireworks for a few reasons. One for signaling and two for psychological impacts. I am adding white flares for illumination. Smoke is something else I am looking to add too.
For medical preps I have added the purchase of extra creams such as athletes’ foot, diaper rash and hydrocortisone. I have also ordered additional stocks of antibiotics for my sickly fish. I will be heading to the dentist and my annual physical before election day as well. I feel pretty good with our stocks of medical supplies.
Besides looking at shoring up preps I have started to think about how a civil war might start and some of the ramifications we might expect. As I contemplate those issues, I can use that knowledge to again adjust preps. One of the biggest assumptions that I have is that if the situation “goes south” we may see the internet “kill switch” be thrown thus shutting down many forms of communication such as “Twitter”, “Facebook” and other social media and mainstream media sites. As we have seen over the past few months social media and apps have been utilized by protesters to command and control their forces. How will you communicate with family, members of your mutual assistance group, neighbors and others without the internet including voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phones? I also believe that that cell phone system may also be shut down.
Government has the First net system that will allow them to still utilize cell phones at the federal, state and local level. If you see this you should view this as a trigger point and have actions already preplanned for this. For example, a loss of internet and cell phone would automatically have members of your mutual assistance group (MAG) head to your location. I’m not sure what will occur with our traditional broadcast media such as television and radio. I believe the President through the Emergency Broadcast system can take over the broadcasts however I’m sure that a good engineer can bypass the Emergency Alert System encoders.
I have Ham Radio equipment and CBs that I can monitor for local intelligence. If you don’t have the capability to monitor local first responder radio system you need to get it quickly. Many public safety radio systems (primarily law enforcement) are encrypted. However, being able to monitor other agencies and departments that are not encrypted will give you some clues as to what is happening on the ground. For example, an ambulance may be dispatched to a civil disturbance, riot, or shooting. Listen for the dispatcher to instruct the crews to “stage away” which is an indication that the scene or situation is not safe or secure. Have a map of your local area on the wall where you can plot where incidents are occurring. Know where your critical infrastructure is located since a dispatch over the air might be to an address only. Again, you need a physical map since the internet may be out of service.
No Distinct Boundaries
Besides communications, I am also thinking about how military forces react. Unlike in 1860s when our civil war lines could be drawn by geographical state boundaries (for the most part) this civil war will be ideological. As we have already witnessed several retired generals have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 88 provision by speaking out against a sitting president. Another concern I have is that many good officers were culled out of the military during the Obama presidency. If you think about it, what happens to the military when you take Lt. Colonels out of the mix for becoming a full bird Colonel and or General? Those that get promoted now get promoted to key leadership roles and may tend to the left side of the political spectrum. What do division commanders do? Will their troops follow? Apart from the active-duty forces, what will governors do with their National Guard and State Defense forces? Will State Adjutant Generals obey orders if they are Federalized? How will we know what “side” local National Guard units, who may be mobilized, will fall on?
Remember there will be people in the same uniform and in the same types of military and police vehicles that may have different ideologies. Be prepared to somehow gain intelligence on how to identify different factions. I think that at the beginning, bothside may rally around the flag, but then again you don’t see a lot of American Flags at Antifa protests. I suspect we could even see the deployment of state guard forces to protect local critical infrastructure right around the election or immediately afterward should “protest” start. These deployments to “protect” critical infrastructure should also be watched for as an indicator that the situation may be heading south. Beside military forces what do our state and local law enforcement agencies do? Stay home? As we look back the last few months, we have seen different levels of response, including allowing left and right factions to fight. Will local District Attorneys and Judges release “protesters” who share their political ideologies right back out onto the streets?
Food production and transportation
What strategies and tactics might we see employed by conventional military units or ad hoc units? I believe that strategies and tactics will be different depending upon where you live (urban/suburban/rural). I think food production and transportation systems will be key areas of control for both factions to gain control over. Watch those systems for information on what is going on. Do utilities besides the internet get shut off? Who controls the NSA metadata (with all your emails and phone calls) that may be used to round up “thought criminals”?
One of the things that I have thought of is how do local posts the VFW and American Legion fit into this? Do local posts become ad hoc military organizations? These posts are made up of people who have taken the oath to “protect and defend” the Constitution.
Civil War will be different from other disasters in that in most disasters, the event happens and people come together to recover and get their community back up and running. Armed confrontation will extend the outages of infrastructure. Be ready.