Total Survivalist Blog: Search results for cache

John Mosby who writes the excellent blog Mountain Guerilla was nice enough to let me cross post this article. John reminded me that guns which are in a cache cannot be used to shoot somebody in the face. this is of course a worthwhile point. If you have a basic 4 (rifle, pistol, shotgun, .22) I would not be inclined to cache anything. A gun that you need to defend your home or put food on the table needs to be at home, not buried off in the woods. However if like may folks reading this you happen to have a spare rifle and pistol or 4 that have lived in the safe forever it might be prudent to consider caching these weapons to resupply you later on.

Anyway for those who did not see it at his excellent site Mountain Guerilla here is an article by John Mosby on caches.

(Originally published on the old
site, APR 2012–J.M.)

Of the four major aspects of support in
military and paramilitary operations–personnel, intelligence,
operations, and logistics–the fourth is often the most
misunderstood by aspiring students of resistance theory and history.
As the oft-cited cliche so accurately states, “Amateurs study
tactics. Professionals study logistics.” When Napolean famously
stated that “An army travels on its stomach,” he wasn’t talking
specifically about the quality of the food in the French military,
but about the importance of ensuring that the logistics train managed
to keep pace with the fighting force, in order to keep the men
re-supplied and fed.

For the inexperienced, the amount of
material logistics support necessary to support even a single
twelve-man SF ODA over the course of a six-month long deployment can
be mind-numbingly massive (plane loads, not duffel bags
full
). The idea that a resistance cell will grab their
individual rucksacks, LBEs, and weapons, and run off to the woods to
fight it out in some Red Dawn, live-off-the-land scenario is a
fantasy of hubris at its best. At its worst, it’s just fucking
stupid.

Similarly naive however, is the typical
survivalist/prepper idea that, in a totalitarian regime, ruled by the
force of ninja-clad stormtroopers who kick in doors at 0300, stomp
puppies to death, and jerk citizens from their beds by the hair, a
stockpile of food and supplies in the pantry and basement will be
adequate or secure.

The key to successful logistics support
if a resistance movement is the establishment, by both individual
tactical cells as well as dedicated auxiliary logistics networks, of
widespread, secure, and well-equipped caches of critical supplies
(for the record, it’s pronounced “cash,” “cashes,”
and “cashed,” not “cashay,” “cashayes,” and “cashayed!”
).
Caching is the process of hiding equipment or other necessary
logistics materials in secure storage locations with the express
intent to later recover those materials for future use (hiding
them without the intent of later recovery is referred to as “losing
shit.”
) In a resistance movement, cached
materials may provide numerous benefits to resistance forces. They
may meet the emergency needs of personnel for items that can no
longer be procured on the open or black markets, due to regime
interference or lack of supply, or they may provide necessary travel
documents and funds for the initiation of escape-and-evasion
corridors by compromised personnel. Most critically perhaps, caching
provides a realistic supply solution for long-term operations
conducted over wide areas, far from secure bases of operations. In
the specific words of the doctrinal literature on caching for UW,
“caching can also provide for anticipated needs of war time
operations in areas likely to be overrun by the enemy.”

Cache Planning Considerations

Selection of the specific contents of
any particular cache requires a thorough analysis, careful
estimation, and more than a little scientific, wild-ass guessing
(technically termed “SWAG”), regarding
the needs of particular resistance elements for particular
operations. Fortunately, we still have the benefit that procurement
of most of the likely candidate items for future re-supply caches
currently pose no significant difficulties. In fact, as has been
repeatedly belabored in this blog previously, the relative ease of
procurement before hostilities become any more heated is the major
benefit in favor of caching logistics materials now (fundamentally,
it goes back to a previously asked question. How serious are you? Is
it real, or are you playing “Gus the Guerrilla” so you can dress
up in multi-cam and shoot guns?
)

Planners, whether members of an
individual tactical cell, or a dedicated auxiliary logistics cell,
must determine the purpose and contents of specific caches, since
these basic factors influence the location of the cache and the
necessary methods of concealment. A cache containing liquid assets,
such as silver or similarly small, readily concealable items may be
established in relatively accessible places, since the recovery agent
of the cache can simply conceal the contents on his person with ease.
A cache of rifles and ammunition for a raiding party however, will
require establishment in a less accessible, more remote location,
since hiding the weapons from casual observation will require more
effort than simply shoving them in a pocket (honestly, one of
the few benefits I can see of owning AKMs, other than the fact that
there are hundreds of millions, of not billions of 7.62x39mm
ammunition floating around this country, is the convenience of a
being able to conceal a folding stock AKM under a jacket like a
Carhartt barn jacket
).

Further, certain items, such as medical
items like antibiotics, painkillers, IV saline bags, and other
consumables do possess limited shelf-life and may require periodic
rotation or other specific storage considerations. This may require
easy access for the planners to service these caches, as needed.
Ultimately, resistance planners must balance the logistical
objectives of the cache with the actual possibilities when selecting
items and locations for a cache. Realistic options for items included
in re-supply caches may include, but certainly not be limited to:
money, weapons and ammunition, explosives components, medical
supplies, tools, food and water (water purification
methods may be more appropriate in many environmental areas
),
batteries (overlooked far too often by amateur guerrillas.
Realistically in modern conflict, even guerrilla warfare, combatant
elements will go through batteries like shit through a goose
),
clothing, and spare/replacement load-bearing equipment (I
utilize ALICE load-outs for cached load-bearing equipment, since it’s
cheap and will suffice, even if it’s not as ideal as my current or
future load-outs. If I’m to the point of relying on LBE cached
months or years before, I’m probably not going to be too particular
about how Gucci it is. If it’s gear to outfit new resistance
recruits, they don’t get to be picky
).

When planning a resistance supply
cache, planners absolutely must remember that “the enemy gets a
vote.” The successful recovery of a combat re-supply cache will
ultimately depend on how well the planners anticipated the various
obstacles to successful recovery, which will be created,
intentionally or not, by the enemy if he occupies the area of the
cache. Hiding a weapons cache in a small meadow surrounded by brushy
woods because it is near the junction of several major roads may seem
ideal, since it’s hidden and yet readily accessible. Unfortunately,
those same considerations may lead the regime to decide to plant an
encampment of security forces troops there. It might be difficult to
recover a buried barrel of M4s when there are a bunch of guys in blue
helmets with funny accents eating supper over the top of it. Further,
future non-conflict related obstacles may arise (Anyone
remember the incident last year when an arms cache was found buried
under the right-of-way for a highway being constructed? I personally
know of a guy in the northern Rockies who has several cases of
dynamite cached. Unfortunately, it is now buried about eighteen feet
below a road-side DOT weigh station
).

In addition to regime security forces
activities, actions of the local civilian populace may interfere with
the security and/or recovery of caches. Planners must project how the
local populace will react to the pressures of occupation/war-time
living. One likely reaction is that many people, even those unaligned
with the resistance, will resort to caching their personal and family
valuables to prevent theft or confiscation by either criminals or the
regime (but then, I repeat myself, right?). In such
an event, ideal cache locations may become too well-traveled for the
security of recovery teams, as well as gaining greater scrutiny by
security force intelligence units looking for such cached materials.

Often overlooked in theoretical
discussions of supply caches is the actual task of transporting the
materials to be cached to the location. The most secure packaging of
cached items is performed in secure areas, rather than in the field
or at the cache location. While it may be simpler to transport a
pre-packaged supply of cache items to the cache site from a safe
house, than to transport the goods and the packaging material, it
will still not be a simple task (consider the weight and
space needs for a cache of six M4s, plus a basic load of 210-330
rounds each, or for food supplies, even in dry staple items like rice
and wheat, for a two-week supply for a four- or six-man element
).

Finally, anyone who is involved
directly in the placement of the cache, from planning the location,
to actually placing the cache in its determined location will know
where the cache is located and is thus subject to compromising that
cache location if captured and interrogated (as we will
discuss in a forthcoming article, if you are captured and
interrogated, you WILL talk. Everyone talks. It doesn’t matter how
tough you think you are, a skilled interrogator can break your will
to resist. Unfortunately, it’s even easier if the interrogator is
from the same cultural background and speaks your language than it is
if he’s a foreign invader
). The same considerations apply
to recovery personnel. While a cache site that only one person knows
the location and contents of is of little use to the resistance, and
the members of a logistics cell will need to share the information
data on various caches, there must be serious consideration given to
the operational security requirements of doing so. Among these is
limiting the access to information to the actual emplacement
personnel and planning cell until the need for the contents of any
particular cell is required, and spreading the planning and
emplacement duties for various caches to various independent cells
within a network.

Caching Methods

The specific methods used to cache materials for future use are as
varied as the people who cache those items. The most obvious (

and
probably the most common

) method, of burying goods, may be
of limited value in some operational environments

(it
would be harder to bury a cache of arms for a platoon-sized element
of resistance fighters, with adequate ammunition, in a large urban
enclave, than to hide them in attics or basements. Burying items in a
swamp is far less efficient than underwater cache methods

).
This wide variety of possibilities open to cache planners means there
is little value in laying out general rules, or even too many
specific concepts for caching. Nevertheless, one rule remains
inviolate when developing a network of caches for resistance supply:
Planners must always think in terms of suitability. The method most
suitable for each cache, considering its specific purpose, the actual
and projected situations in the particular location, and the impact
of possible regime courses of action.

  1. Concealment of the cache means
    utilizing permanent man-made or natural features to hide or disguise
    the cache. Focusing on superb concealment of caches offers several
    benefits for planners and installers. Employment and recovery of the
    cache can both be accomplished with minimum labor, in a minimal
    amount of time. Items concealed in buildings or caves are protected
    from the elements and extreme weather, thus requiring less elaborate
    packaging (a cache of medical supplies concealed in the
    walls of an otherwise abandoned barn or out-building may need little
    more than to be placed in a plastic garbage sack before being
    concealed
    ). A concealed cache may be more readily accessed
    from time to time, in order to replace perishable items that may be
    nearing or past their expiration dates. The potential risk of
    accidental discovery of concealed caches however, means that this
    method is most suitable for extremely secure sites safe from search
    by regime security forces (concealing a stockpile of old
    Mosin-Nagants in the basement of the president of the local gun club
    would be pretty fucking pointless, no?
    ), or situations
    where rapid access to the cached items is of high enough priority
    that it outweighs the chances that the cache will inadvertently be
    discovered. Concealment may range from securing a small pouch of
    “junk” silver coins behind a heating vent in the wall, to
    building a false wall in a basement to hide a cache of
    workshop-manufactured mortars and ammunition.

  2. While burial is not always the
    best option for cache establishment, there is a reason that, when
    people think of caches, they almost invariably consider it first.
    Suitable burial sites can be located damned near anywhere, and if
    the cache is properly established, it will be next to impossible to
    find, without the utilization of very expensive,
    highly-technological equipment, and ample amounts of time. While the
    security of a well-placed buried cache is without compare, unlike
    simple concealment, burying a cache is an extremely labor-intensive
    process, requires severe and thorough packaging of the cache to
    protect it from the burial process and the exposure it faces from
    dirt, moisture, burrowing fauna, etc.

    Burial of caches almost invariably
    requires the use of specialized containers and/or special wrapping
    to protect the contents from the environment. Emplacement and
    recovery of a buried cache often takes so long that it can only be
    accomplished during the night, to preclude discovery, unless the
    cache site is placed in such a ridiculously remote location as to
    completely preclude any effective usefulness whatsoever. It can be
    extremely difficult, even for the initial emplacement element, to
    successfully locate and recover a buried cache after any length of
    time.

  3. One method of cache emplacement that is often overlooked (for
    good reason
    ) is the submersion method. If the cache is
    properly prepared; and the cache site is genuinely secure; and the
    recovery team can actually locate it; and the tides or currents
    don’t move the cache in the intervening time between emplacement
    and recovery, the submersion method may work. However, submersion
    sites that are suitable for secure concealment of a cache of any
    size are exceedingly rare, even in swamp/jungle environments.
    Further, the container for a submerged cache must be of such high
    quality that it almost requires the use of specially-manufactured
    containers to ensure adequate water-proofing and protection from
    other external pressures. Field expedients are seldom successful.

Selection of Cache Sites

The most thorough, careful study and hypotheses regarding future
operational conditions cannot guarantee that a cache will be readily
accessible when it is needed. It is crucial to remember the
now-overused maxim, “Two is one; one is none.” Establish as many
re-supply caches, in as many widely spaced locations as you can
afford to establish, including duplicate caches of critical items
such as weapons, ammunition, and foodstuffs.

Site selection criteria should center on three basic questions of
absolute importance to the resistance element: a) Can the site be
located by someone who has never been there, through simple,
easily-understood instructions? A site may be absolutely ideal, but
if your hillbilly Cousin Billy-Bob from East Toadfuck, Texas cannot
find it using simple verbal instructions, it’s going to be useless.
It must have multiple (

at least two, preferably three or
more, for compass triangulation

) distant landmarks, and at
least one suitably near landmark that is not likely to be moved
between emplacement and recovery (

don’t use a fucking tree
as a landmark. I always assumed it went without saying, but I’ve
seen cache recovery instructions that included “use the old dead
tree as the near landmark. Take a magnetic bearing of ___ and walk
fifteen meters.” Seriously? Because, you know, old dead trees don’t
get blown the fuck over and rot away?

) b)Are there a minimum
of at least two access routes to get to and away from the cache site?
Do both the primary and secondary approach routes offer concealed
movement corridors so that both the emplacement and recovery parties
can access the site without being seen by anyone who normally
transits the area (I’m a big believer in at least tertiary access
routes as well)? c) Can the cache in question be emplaced and
recovered at this site, anytime of the year (

A cache located
in the Teton Mountains on the Idaho/Wyoming line might be pretty
tough to recover if it were needed in February or March, since it
would be under five or six feet of snow…assuming you could even
find it, since many landmarks would be buried under snow as well

)?
Snow or frozen ground can make recovery impossible, since it is
difficult or impossible to dig in, and snow means it is impossible to
hide the presence of tracks leading to the cache site.

The first step in developing a cache site is the utilization of a
map survey. By carefully scrutinizing the map, planners can decipher
whether a specific area must be ruled out for cache emplacement, due
to the nearness of human activity and facilities. A good
topographical map can be used to determine all the positive features
of a given area for a potential site, including the topography,
proximity of roads, trails, and buildings, natural concealment such
as vegetated terrain and/or rocky outcroppings, and adequate
drainage. A map can also provide the indispensable reference points
that will be necessary for development of a recovery plan for the
cache, such as the geographical coordinates of nearby peaks and
ridges, stream confluences, and deserted man-made structures and
features.

Once several promising possible cache sites have been discerned
through the map survey, someone in the caching element must conduct a
personal surveillance of the potential sites, in order to determine
that the on-the-ground reality matches the theory of the map. The
survey member will need to carry adequate maps, a method of measuring
distance, a compass, and a notebook to record specific coordinates
and directions for potential emplacement sites (

I hope it
goes without saying that you should not record GPS way-points for
cache locations

). Since this individual will seldom be able
to complete a field survey without being observed by members of the
local civilian populace, even his neighbors, a solid cover story for
his actions of critical. The observer’s story must offer a quick,
concise, but logical reason for his being where he is (

the local
couch-potato who everyone knows sits in his mommy’s basement
playing XBox all day claiming he’s always secretly been an avid
outdoorsman and is simply out for a jaunt in the woods, isn’t going
to fool anyone. It’s likely to get the local constabulary called on
you for suspicious behavior
)

.

Reference Points

When a planner or member of a dedicated
logistics auxiliary network has located and determined to emplace a
re-supply cache in a given location, he will need to include easily
discernible key reference points in the cache report to help the
follow-on elements to locate it.

The final reference point; the key to
unlock the ultimate lock on locating the useful cache; is referred to
as the FRP, and within the instructions, the FRP must meet four basic
requirements. It must 1) be readily identifiable and at least one
element of the FRP must be useful as a precise reference point (i.e.
the northeastern-most corner of the abandoned church, or the last
headstone on the southern corner of the cemetery, etc
).
2) it must be something that will not be moved or disappear as long
as the cache may be in place. 3) It must be near enough to the cache
location to pinpoint the exact location of the cache by using precise
linear directions and measurements from the FRP to the cache location
(a 186-degree magnetic azimuth from the corner of the church
is far more precise than a 186-degree magnetic azimuth from the front
door of the church…
). 4) The FRP must be related to any en
route reference points by a simple route description proceeding from
the intermediate reference points to the FRP (follow
the old logging road from the intersection with County Road 99 south
for two kilometers until you see the abandoned cemetery on the left
side of the road
). The route descriptions and
reference points should be minimized to the absolutely essential
details while being readily identifiable but still secluded enough to
be functional for the role. Some commonly used reference points
operators have used in the past for reference points include, but are
certainly not limited to: small, infrequently used bridges or dams,
geological boundary markers, mileage markers and culverts along
infrequently used roads, monuments, churches, and other cultural
reference markers with respected, but not commonly voiced local
significance to ensure that they will not be “paved over” in the
interest of development in the immediate area. When all else fails,
it IS possible to use specific geographic coordinates for references,
assuming that both parties involved, emplacement team and recovery
element, will have GPS and the ability to utilize it for the task
without compromise (far from certain in the coming
struggles
).

Using the Final Reference Point

Recovery instructions MUST include
precise details to explain the EXACT location of a cache. These
instructions should describe the location of the cache in relation to
the FRP. For concealed caches, it is generally sufficient to
precisely describe and locate the FRP, with the cache concealed
inside the FRP. For the far more common buried cache however, there
are four basic methods.

The simplest method is for the
emplacement team to simply bury the cache directly next to the FRP.
Pinpointing the cache location is then simply a matter of describing
the precise reference point on the FRP. A second method is sighting
the cache by projection. This is useful if the FRP has a flat side
long enough to allow for precise aiming along the flat side of the
FRP to the cache. The cache is simply buried a precise distance away
from the FRP along the sighted line. The critical key here is to
remember that the slightest deviation error in sighting the line will
be magnified as the distance increases, so the cache should still be
placed as close to the FRP as practical.

The third method of using the FRP is
the use of two or more FRPs within a close proximity (ideally
within a couple of meters at most
). This is the
most difficult method of precisely referencing the cache location and
should thus be a last-ditch method (I’ve used this
method on numerous occasions. It HAS always worked, but never well. I
once solo backpacked across the southern half of Utah, from Cedar
City to Moab, without following roads. At one point, crossing a small
two-lane blacktop, I decided my pack was overloaded with extraneous
shit, so I decided to cache a large portion of it. Since I was in the
middle of fucking nowhere, I didn’t even bother to bury the cache.
Instead, I wrapped all the material in a large trash bag, then placed
it in a USGI waterproof bag, and tied the cache in the forks of a
juniper tree. I used a mileage marker on the roadside as my
intermediate reference point, and two nearby mountain peaks as my FRP
to shoot magnetic azimuths from to intersect the exact location of
the cache tree. I dutifully recorded all of it in my ever-present
notebook/journal, and proceeded with the rest of my trip. Three weeks
later, at the end of the overall four week trip, I got my shit back
in order, and the following weekend, jumped in the truck and drove to
the mileage marker. I easily identified the two peaks, shot azimuths,
and walked to the cache tree….which wasn’t fucking there! I shot
another azimuth, realized I was a degree or two off on one of my
bearings, so I fixed it and adjusted. Still no cache tree…I started
a search pattern, walking in increasing spirals, looking for the
tree. Twenty minutes later, I found the tree, recovered the cache,
and got back in the truck, and left. While I’m a HUGE fan of using
azimuth bearings to locate the cache, this is ample evidence of the
difficulties of using intersection/resection of multiple FRPs to
locate a cache. If I had needed to locate the cache in a hurry, under
cover of darkness, with my life and that of my comrades on the line,
we’d have all been fucked.
)

The final method of locating a buried cache reliably from the FRP
is sighting with a magnetic azimuth from your compass (

if you
don’t know what the fuck a magnetic azimuth is, quit reading, right
now, and Google your local orienteering club. Go join them and learn
how to use a fucking map and compass!

). It is utilized by
simply taking a bearing with your compass from the precise reference
point of the FRP to the cache location

(this is
generally my favorite method of locating caches. Every time I’ve
ever used it–a lot–over the years, I’ve had no trouble
whatsoever with locating the cache later

). The only
potential drawback is the level of ability and precision of the
emplacement team and the recovery team to accurately read a compass
and shoot an azimuth. Like sighting by projecting, any error will be
magnified by distance. In general, either method should locate the
cache within fifty meters of the precise reference point on the FRP.

Measuring Distances

While the mythical standard of measuring distances for caches in
paces

(walk ten paces from the big rock in the
meadow
)

sounds simple and effective, if a moment of
thought is put into it, the resistance element will realize what an
incredibly fucking stupid idea it actually is. What are the chances
that the emplacement operative will have the same length of pace as
the recovery operative? Slim to none. Even if they turn out to be the
same person, any number of issues could change the individual’s
stride length from the time of emplacement to the time of recovery.
Instead, use the normal, standard of measurement for linear distance
in your area

(for most of us, that’s yards. I
use meters a lot, because of the military, but I still use yards when
describing distances for most Americans.
)
Concealment Sites

The “ideal” cache concealment site
seldom is, simply because it IS “ideal.” Do not for one moment
think that Sam the Stormtrooper will not check likely concealment
locations for cached contraband when the door-kicking starts. Even in
the event of a warrantless “sneak-and-peak” entry, Ned the Ninja
is going to look for cached goodies. Do not, do not, DO NOT cache
critical items in your home! Instead, seek out good concealment cache
sites in the area, and consider the habits and customs of your
neighbors and other local civilian populace when developing your
cache resupply program.

Seek out abandoned buildings that are
unlikely to be destroyed (or moved into by
refugees!
) public buildings (assuming
you can figure out a way to smuggle your cache contents in
),
infrequently used facilities like stadiums, or other public venues,
culverts, abandoned mines and quarries, and sewers/septic tanks.

The concealment location must be
equally accessible to both parties. While it might seem feasible for
the logistics cell to emplace a concealed cache in the attic at Aunt
Myrtle’s, since she’s a nice old lady (if a touch daffy),
and a vocal supporter of the regime, if she’s not related to the
recovery team as well, it might be difficult for them to come up with
a legitimate reason to show up and demand to grab some shit out of
her attic!

Further, in case the cache IS discovered by regime security
forces, it must be in a location that will not compromise individual
network members. If Aunt Myrtle finds the cache of 10,000 rounds of
5.56 M855 in her attic, you better bet your ass she’s going to call
the local constabulary. They’re going to start looking for Nephew
Neil the gun-nut in a hurry. Besides, if Aunt Myrtle passes on or
ends up in a nursing home while Cousin Connie sells the house,
getting in to recover the ammunition is going to be a bitch.

Burial Sites

There are six critical considerations
when planning a buried cache, along with the standard concerns about
suitability and accessibility. Drainage considerations include both
the elevation of the cache site and the surrounding ground, and the
type of soil in the area. Clay or swamp muck is going to be far more
difficult to work with than loam soil or an old garden spot. If the
cache is located near a river or stream, the emplacement team must
ensure that it is above the flood-plain to ensure that the cache
doesn’t end up washing away.

Local vegetation is a far more critical
concern than it would first appear. Deciduous forests, while a
perfect choice at first glance, can be a bitch, since the roots of
the trees make digging extremely time-consuming. Coniferous trees on
the other hand have far less extensive root systems, typically
indicate well-drained soil, and have the added benefit of doing a
pretty good job of masking thermal signatures of human beings
(oops…did I just type that?). This of
course, ties into the third consideration of natural concealment on
the location. Not only do you need to hide the personnel who are
placing or recovering the cache, but you have to do something to
conceal the burial site as well. For those who operate in deciduous
forest country (God bless the spruce, pine, and juniper trees
of the Inter-Mountain West!
), consider the impact of
seasonal variations in foliage and the resultant changes in natural
concealment.

For those of us who do reside in high
elevations and cold-weather country, it is critical to consider the
impact of normal snowfall, depth of ground freeze, and the usual
freeze and thaw dates. Since it will be almost impossible to mask the
disturbance to snow cover in winter conditions, cache locations
should take this into account by emplacement in areas that mask the
snow fall and drift to some degree, or where the disturbance to the
snow cover will not seem out-of-place.

Finally, consideration must take into
account the possibility of underground obstacles such as large rocks
or sewer, subway (in urban environments),
or water main lines that can interfere with the ability to dig a
burial site for the cache.

Nous Defions!

John Mosby

Somewhere in the mountains

(In the previous installment of
this article, we discussed–well, I discussed, you read–a great
deal of the art and science of locating and hiding caches, in an
overview sort of way. In this installment, I will endeavor to get you
thinking of methods of packaging the materials to be cached, the
contents of the different types of caches, and how to develop a
written cache report format. –J.M.
)

Packaging

In reference to caches, the term
packaging refers not only to whatever container you decide to hide
your goodies in, but also the additional processing needed to protect
those items from adverse storage conditions. Proper packaging is
absolutely crucial, because inadequate packaging, in the face of
those adverse storage conditions (and let’s face it, being
buried in the dirt, or exposed to the elements, is generally adverse
for most manufactured goods
), WILL render the cached items
useless in short order (how bad would it suck to be ten days
into a planned four-day foot-mobile patrolling movement, dig up your
food re-supply cache…and find out the cans of Spaghetti-Os had
rusted through, leaking them all over the beef jerky, which had been
gnawed on and shit on by mice?
).

Determining Factors

All packaging needs to be tailored to
the specific cache. The method of packaging, size, shape, and weight
of the container need to be predicated on what items are to be
included in the cache, as well as how you anticipate it being
recovered (in MY dream world, all my caches would be in 24′
CONEX boxes, would include a generator, refrigerator full of
Coca-Cola, a month’s supply of Copenhagen, a queen sized bed, and
recovery would be accomplished with a Case backhoe…
). For
individual-specific caches, intended to be recovered by one person,
the container should generally be no larger than a small suitcase or
backpack, with an upper weight limit of around 30-40 pounds, to
facilitate ease of recovery and the necessity of moving the cached
goods. Obviously some equipment will automatically negate this as a
possibility, but those should be the exception that prove the rule.
If more than one person will be expected to recover the cache (i.e.
a cache of ammunition re-supply for a 4-6 man paramilitary team
),
then the packaging should still be divided into separate packages
that are readily portable by the individuals.

 When it confronting the specter
of those adverse environmental conditions, the logistics cell must
recognize that any or all of the common threats to caches may be
present: moisture, external pressure, freezing temperatures (in
the northern Rockies? No way….
), bacteria and chemical
corrosive agents found in much soil, and even the threat of animals
digging into the cache (insects or rodents…in larger
caches, concealed in exterior sites, larger animals may pose a threat
of damage. There’s a reason Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks
require bear-proof containers for food storage in the backcountry)
.
The suitability of packaging typically depends on the care taken in
analyzing the site-specific considerations during the planning
process (Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor
Performance, remember?
). The method of cache to be used
(concealment, burial, submersion), must be
determined in the earliest planning stages, long before any packaging
is undertaken.

Even in typical, active UW scenarios,
it is often difficult to know when a specific cache will be needed.
In the case of the modern American resistance, most do not even know
when the active phase of operations will begin, let alone how soon
after that a specific cache will be called on. For these reasons, a
doctrinally sound rule to follow is to design the packaging to
withstand adverse storage conditions for at least the duration of the
normal shelf life of the contents of the cache.

The Packaging Process

The exact process for packaging a
specific cache will depend upon the unique requirements of the cache
and on what packaging material is available. Typically however, there
are certain steps that are almost always necessary:

  1. Inspection: Inspect any items to
    be included in the cache for serviceability. It would suck doubly
    bad to be running an E&E corridor, recover an arms cache to
    re-arm yourself, and discover that the dumb motherfucker who
    established the cache didn’t know that the AKM he cached was
    missing the firing pin.

  2. Cleaning: All corrodible parts,
    such as unfinished metal, must be thoroughly cleaned immediately
    prior to packaging, before any final preservative coatings are
    applied. Any foreign matter, but especially any known or suspected
    corrosive agents, should be removed completely. It is a good idea,
    and generally accepted best practice, to handle any items to be
    cached, with rubber gloves between the cleaning stage and final
    packaging, to prevent corrosion from the salts and acids in human
    sweat from your hands (never mind the whole reality that any
    fingerprints inadvertently left on the materials would paint a giant
    target on your back if the cache was discovered by regime security
    forces!
    ).

  3. Drying: Following the cleaning
    process, items should be thoroughly dried. While any one method
    might suffice, I suggest a three-fold process. Wipe the contents
    down with a dry, highly absorbent towel, then oven-dry or air-dry on
    a sunny day, and finally, add a desiccant packet inside the
    packaging. To oven-dry items, place them in an oven for at least 3
    hours at a temperature of about 110 degrees F.

  4. Coat with Preservative: A light
    coat of preservative oil may be applied to weapons, tools, or other
    unpainted metal surfaces.

  5. Wrapping: Items should be wrapped
    in a suitable material for the added protection offered. The
    wrapping material should be as nearly waterproof as possible. Each
    item should be waterproofed individually, in order to prevent one
    un-noticed perforation exposing all the items in the cache. The
    wrapping needs to fit as tightly as possible, with little or no air
    remaining, and any seams or openings should be sealed with a
    waterproof substance.

  6. Packing: When final packing of the
    cache is conducted, all moisture should be removed from the interior
    of the container by heating or applying desiccant (again,
    there’s no harm in overkill–do both
    ). Air pockets
    should be eliminated, as much as humanly possible, by tight packing
    within the container. If nothing else is necessary, or desired in
    the cache, use clean, dried clothing, or other soft, dry padding
    material that might be useful to the recovery party, whenever
    possible, to fill in the extra space, and to provide extra
    protection against shock.

  7. Enclose Instructions: If
    necessary, or possibly necessary, enclose instructions in how to use
    the specific items in the cache to facilitate use or assembly by
    recovery party personnel. If a weapons cache, it might even be a
    good idea to enclose the technical manual for the particular weapon,
    including armorer’s instructions for field-level repairs of the
    common shortcomings of the weapon(s) systems in the cache.

  8. Seal and Test: When packing is complete, the lid of the
    container must be sealed to make it watertight. Testing should be
    conducted to ensure that it is, in fact, waterproof. Testing should
    be conducted, if possible, by completely submerging the container in
    a hot water bath and watching for escaping water bubbles (hot
    water will reveal leaks that might not be revealed by cold-water. I
    don’t understand the science behind it, but that’s why I’m not
    a fucking scientist)
    .

Wrapping Materials

The single most critical characteristic of wrapping material is
that it is moisture-proof. Additionally, it should be either
self-adhesive, or allow the use of an adhesive sealing agent. The
material should be pliable enough to to wrap tightly, with close
folds and it should be tough enough to resist tears or punctures
during handling. The simplest way to ensure both pliability and
durability, is to combine two layers: an inner, pliable layer, and an
outer, more resilient barrier. The tough outer wrap is absolutely
essential, unless the container and padding is adequate to prevent
items from scraping together inside the cache. There are several
generally recommended wrapping materials that are easy to use and
readily available, and I’ve used everything from aluminum foil and
trashbags wrapped with 100-mph tape, to Zip-Lock baggies, to Tyvek
house-wrap that I taped tightly and then glued the seams shut on. For
my use now, I stick to two methods, both of which I heartily
recommend:

  1. For items small enough, the best
    wrapping available is a FoodSeal-type vacuum sealer. Simply place
    the item in the plastic, cut it to size, use the vacuum-sealer, and
    you have a waterproof wrapping, with little or no airspace left
    inside. It’s idiot-simple.

  2. For larger, bulkier items, I wrap the item tightly in
    heavy-duty kitchen-grade aluminum foil (one of the most
    highly recommended wrapping materials, doctrinally. It’s
    waterproof, unless it gets perforated or torn, self-sealing, and
    conforms tightly to the shape of whatever is being wrapped
    ),
    then I wrap it in asphalt-type roofing felt, sealing the edges
    together with roofing tar. It seems to work like a charm, even for
    several years.

Container Criteria

While many items could theoretically be concealed in just the
inner wrapping materials (

especially when using the roofing
felt method

), the outer container helps to protect the
contents from shock, pressure, moisture, animal depredations, and
other hazards that the cache may be exposed to, especially when
buried. The ideal container should be completely waterproof and
air-tight after sealing, resistant to shock and abrasions, able to
withstand crushing pressures, lightweight, and equipped with a
sealing device that can be closed and reopened easily and repeatedly,
and capable of withstanding highly alkaline or acidic soil
conditions.

  1. instrument containers: high-end
    containers such as Pelican cases are resilient and waterproof enough
    to be used for caches, and they come in various sizes. The biggest
    drawback to the Pelican cases is, of course, the expense. A less
    expensive alternative would be to scour military surplus stores and
    government liquidation auctions to find the steel containers that
    aircraft and other precision instruments are shipped in. These have
    waterproof seals, for obvious reasons, and range from 1/2 gallon to
    10 gallons in size.

  2. Ammunition cans: the standard
    favorite of “survivalists” and “militia” types everywhere,
    steel ammo cans with the rubber gaskets intact do work remarkably
    well, and are relatively inexpensive. The only potential drawback is
    the size limitations, which are negligible, since you can find
    anything from a small .30-caliber can, all the way up to the larger
    cans used for 40-mm grenades, or even rockets.

  3. Steel Drums: the other classic
    favorite, the steel 55-gallon drum, actually suffers from a couple
    of drawbacks. The obvious one is the sheer size. No recovery team is
    going to get that barrel out on a hurry, and depending on what the
    cache contents are, they might not even be able to carry all the
    shit that will fit inside. Secondly, the most common types available
    lack suitable sealing lids. If used, waterproofing sealant must be
    used around all openings (seriously, unless you’re planning an
    arms cache to resupply a fucking platoon, I recommend staying away
    from 55-gallon drums. If you must use them, use the heavy-duty
    plastic type, since they will withstand corrosion better.

  4. Paint cans: Often overlooked by
    most, these are actually a recommended container in SOF literature
    on the subject. They do require a waterproofing seal around the
    re-closeable lids, and they are thin metal so they don’t hold up
    to corrosion for very long, but they are almost a perfect size for a
    one-man pistol and ammunition re-supply, if placed for an evader who
    will be using it within a short period of time. It is highly
    recommended that you either paint the exterior of the can, or,
    better, treat it thoroughly with several coats of roofing tar
    compound.

  5. Five-Gallon buckets: What survivalist/prepper doesn’t have
    a metric shit-ton of plastic, five-gallon buckets with resealable
    lids laying around for food-storage. As long as they are not buried
    too deep, where crushing from pressure becomes an issue, these are
    almost perfect cache containers. One bucket can hold almost an
    entire outfit of gear for one man (LC-2 type LBE, a can of
    ammunition in magazines, a change of clothes, some boots, and some
    food. Even a small carbine or rifle, broken down, can fit. A
    shop-built SMG would be a good fit here, after it had been
    thoroughly tested for function. I may have a couple of these with AR
    lowers, complete, and SBR uppers stashed away somewhere. Or I would,
    if it wouldn’t be a violation of BATE fiat regulations…
    )

Types of Caches

(The following section is
completely non-doctrinal. While it may have existed in SF doctrinal
literature at one time, I am not aware of it. These are strictly my
personnel concepts. –J.M.
)

For an underground resistance, I envision three basic types of
cache functions.

  1. The first is the guerrilla re-supply cache we’ve been
    discussing. These would be widely dispersed over an organization’s
    entire projected area of operations, to facilitate re-supply on the
    move in the future. These may also, in the future, be short-term
    emplacements made by members of the subversive underground or the
    auxiliary, to facilitate operations by the subversive underground or
    the paramilitary guerrilla force, based on specific operational
    requirements.
  1. The second is the “storage” cache. This is a method of
    dispersing your normal preparedness supplies stockpiles. Instead of
    having everything in your basement or “doomsday bunker-retreat”
    where it is easy and convenient for regime security forces, foreign
    peacekeepers, or roving bands of criminal looters to locate and
    steal it, this would allow you to maintain control or possession of
    various critical elements of your preparedness items, even if you
    had to “bug out” into evasion mode.
  1. The third, and final cache function, as I see it, is the
    individual evasion cache. These would be small, one-man re-supplies,
    along planned evasion corridors (primary, secondary, and
    tertiary, at a minimum
    ). Caches should be placed within one
    or two days’ walking distance of each other, to act as en route
    waypoints for re-supply as the evader moves. This would allow him to
    minimize the load he carried in his “go-bag” evasion kit,
    facilitating faster travel during the evasion.

Potential Cache Contents
Concepts

Caches typically contain certain combinations of items, based on
the mission requirements of the recovery element unit, and the
projected operational needs within the area. An alternative way of
looking at possible cache contents is to consider the “go-bag”
paradigm. What categories of items would you include in a “go-bag?”
Include those categories in your caches, unless it is a specialized
cache (

such as an arms cache, or a water or food-resupply
cache

). These might include:

  1. Water: again, canteens, bladders,
    filters or other purification methods.

  2. shelter and clothing: sleep
    systems, clothing, tarps, tents, etc.

  3. Fire starting methods: matches,
    lighters, tinder, magnesium strikers.

  4. Food: MREs (the only
    application I still have for MREs, because I’d have to be dying to
    eat the fucking things!
    )

  5. Medical supplies: A feasability
    study should be conducted to determine the need for caching medical
    supplies. While some items, such as CAT-Tourniquets, bandages, and
    other non-perishables is self-evident, the expiration dates and the
    actual expiration of other medical supplies, from blood-expanding
    fluids in IV bags, to anti-biotics (tetracyclines, for
    example go toxic after expiration, instead of just losing potency
    ),
    must be weighed against the projected time-table of recovery.

  6. Communications: GMRS/FRS two-way
    radios, HAM receiver, or complete radios.

  7. Light Sources: flashlights,
    candles, lanterns, batteries, fuels.

  8. Tools: knives, hatchets or axes,
    saws, wire, repair kits, pioneer tools.

  9. Money: silver, gold, or cash,
    depending on the projected scenario, and who exactly you expect to
    be spending it with. For use in the black-market, any of the above
    might be an option. For use with the civilian populace, cash will
    generally be the most readily exchangeable, since they will be able
    to turn around and spend it as well.

  10. Weapons: Whether complete weapons, critical parts, support
    supplies (cleaning kits, magazines, load-bearing equipment,
    etc
    ), these are an obvious cache item (all three
    cache functions
    ).

-END-