Total Survivalist Blog: military

Commander Zero asked about my thought on…

The relationship, coinciding interests, practical applications, and relativity of military experiences in regards to preparedness. Or, put another way, what in the military is or has been applicable to preparedness.

Also, do you ever broach the subject with your comrades and if so what is their opinion?

TOR replies: To answer this question we have to look at what servicemembers do.

Let us say as a baseline a soldier is trained to shoot and maintain rifles and maybe handguns as well as basic individual stuff like pulling guard, searching prisoners and basic defensive and movement tactics. They have some exposure to first aid, map reading, land navigation, NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) type (yes I know there is a new acronym, I think it is stupid and am keeping the old one as protest) events as well as a variety of other skills. Theoretically every soldier should be familiar with all

skill level 1 common tasks

in addition to whatever skills are required for their individual job.

An Infantryman should be very competent at all skill level 1 tasks and able to effectively use every weapon in the US Army up to (and depending on the kind of unit they are in including) mortars and have a solid understanding of

Battle Drills

and movement techniques.

Note that I used the phrases theoretically and should. Some folks are solid above and beyond their skill and experience level and others not so much. Sometimes this is individual and other times groups or units show trends. In particular I can say that land nav is pretty weak in lower enlisted and support type folks.

[Before continuing this I feel that it is worthwhile to give a bit of a disclaimer. I can speak about being a soldier, an Infantryman and an Officer in the US Army and make some reasonable generalizations about the Army and the Navy’s Army aka the Marines. The Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force are very different and while they all do great things a lot of what I am going to talk about does not apply to the vast majority of their service members. Also of course experiences vary among branches and occupational specialties. If I offend you it is not intentional.]

Most folks get some of these type skills to some varying degree in whatever branch or job they are in. Aside from what we could call basic soldier skills folks in support type jobs can learn other applicable skills. Medics, combat engineers, plumbers, electricians and diesel mechanics learn skills that are are clearly useful. Some folks are in such a position that their military experience, however valuable to our nation it may be, relates very little to survivalism. There are however some characteristics that military folks even an X Ray tech on a carrier or a an administrative type in the Air Force who hasn’t touched a rifle since basic training still seem to have.

The ability to deal with stress is a big one. For a lot of reasons military folks deal with ton of stress. Being able to think clearly and make sound decisions under stress is something military folks tend to be good at.

Physical fitness. The military in general (and far more so SOF and Infantry types) is a pretty fitness oriented culture. You see some very fit people in the most random support jobs.

Planning. Beyond dealing with stress this is likely the biggest general contribution of military service for most people. There are surely some more general traits but I can’t think of them right now.

As to the applicability of military service to preparedness. Survivalism and its better dressed more polished cousin preparedness could be broken down into a variety of different skill sets (each with logistical requirements but they don’t really apply to this) which support the endstate of being able to survive and thrive in an uncertain and difficult future.

 One could, totally off the top of my head, break these down into: tactical, wilderness and primative living, food production and storage, physical fitness, medical, mechanical and building skills, communication and energy production.

It may be more useful to look at applicability by those skill sets:

In terms of tactical stuff Infantryman, other combat arms guys (and or course SOF) learn some pretty darn applicable things. While not a perfect stopping point these skills put them well beyond most folks. Other folks skills may be somewhat watered down and just give some basic firearms training or entirely absent.

When it comes to wilderness and primative living folks who spend a lot of time outside living out of rucksacks and in tents learn things. Typically these would be combat arms guys and those who go walk around with us.

Few folks learn much of anything to do with food production and storage. Cooks learn to cook but that isn’t really a weak area for most folks anyway.

In terms of medical stuff obviously medical folks like doctors, nurses and medics know a lot. Soldiers typically have a better level of first aid and particularly trauma training than average folks who take a first aid class or two. The more current versions of Combat Lifesaver and various other courses are pretty good and are often pushed down to the lowest level. This is one of the areas where we have really gotten our act together in the last few years.

As to mechanical and building type skills folks whose job is in those areas like mechanics, electricians and carpenters or whatever obviously learn stuff. The rest of us not so much.

For communication lots of folks get what could be described as radio communication 99 and commo guys, forward observers and JTACs get more useful experiences.

Other than electricians and generator mechanics nobody gets much in terms of alternative energy applicable stuff.

Also, do you ever broach the subject with your comrades and if so what is their opinion?

Not really and even then not directly. However when you get to know folks you pick up on things (and they pick up things about you). Somebody who has a solid gun collection and keeps a good amount of ancillary stuff put away that is also fiscally modest as well as conservative/ liberty leaning probably has some stuff going on. With these folks I will offer a piece of advice in context. Example, somebody is talking about the rough price of magazines for their handgun, I might suggest that they should not pay more than $XX and that it is worthwhile to check out a website that has what they need like CDNN.

As I don’t mention this sort of stuff with folks who are not at least partially in the club and still keep the cards pretty close to my chest I don’t know how a lot of folks might handle it. I can offer my totally anecdotal observations. I would say there are some survivalists, more “preppers”, a LOT of gun nuts and the balance made up of pretty normal folks within the military.

Also there is an interesting coincidence. While survivalists as a group are not necessarily a high percentage of military members I would say that a very high percentage of survivalists have some military background. This is not suprising as middle and lower middle class conservatives from the rural/ small town West and South tend to be a significant percentage of survivalists and this group is well represented in the military.

Anway again if I offended anyone it was not intentional. If you have anything to add please comment. Lets not get into a service vs service thing and if you try to say that some random admin or logistics type job is super ninja JSOC rambotastic I might make fun of you.