Rules and dangers when organizing security and survival groups
For many years I have argued that the single most important preparation any person can make if they are concerned about future social or economic instability is the preparation of community building. It is the one thing that everyone needs for survival, and unfortunately, it is the one thing even many preparedness “experts” ignore.
When I talk about “community,” I am talking about groups in many forms. Sometimes a community is merely a small collection of families or neighbors; sometimes it is an entire town or county. Sometimes it is built around a local church, sometimes it is rooted in an already functioning political activism meet-up. Regardless of the size of your community, the people who are organized within a group for mutual aid, defense and trade are light years ahead of everyone else when it comes to survival. In fact, if a national crisis scenario escalates to the point of the disappearance of the rule of law, I would say that those without community will probably die.
Though, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about organizing. There are also guidelines and hard rules to follow if you want your community to be an advantage rather than an obstacle. I have had the opportunity over the years to see many preparedness groups and organizations in action. I have gleaned knowledge from their successes, and also their numerous failures. I have also had the privilege of coordinating a preparedness group which has been active for the past three and a half years. So, I am speaking from personal experience when it comes to organization.
Here is what I have learned so far…
The levels of organization
There are different levels of organization, low to high, weak to strong. The biggest factor in determining whether or not your group is strong is usually time.
Many people out there do not want to hear about “time.” Why? Because it is one of the few factors that can’t be replicated. You can’t cut corners when it comes to time. What I mean is, any group of people, no matter how close originally, is going to have trouble operating together as a team unless they have had time to train together. They have to get used to each other’s personalities, and quirks. They have to grow accustomed to each others annoying habits; and maybe even grow fond of them. Without plenty of time working together on various projects and training, no group will be able to function as a unit when a real threat arises.
From my observations, it takes at least six months for any group of people to become psychologically acclimated to one another. Until this happens, their performance will be lackluster.
I have run into far too many preppers that plan (if they even have a plan) to organize after a crisis event has already taken shape. These people have been watching too much television. Again, it takes at least six months for a new group to even learn to trust one another. Post crisis, the problem will be doubly difficult.
The liberty movement is a bit obsessed with the concept of organizing on the fly — throwing together slapdash groups of people who have little or no training with each other for security at events like Bundy Ranch or Berkeley. But this is the weakest form of organization. And, in a survival scenario, such organization is likely to fail miserably.
Groups need structure
Liberty minded people tend to be very individualistic and also tend to avoid structure like the plague. Organizing them is often like herding cats — debate prone cats skilled at coming up with rationalizations for why the lack of structure in an endeavor is actually an “advantage.”
Sorry, but groups do not last very long without a skeleton to hang onto, and someone has to provide that skeleton. Maybe it’s a “leader,” a coordinator, a “coach,” whatever; the point is, someone has to make a schedule and get people to stick to it. Someone has to plan projects and someone has to find the right people to head up those projects. Someone has to take the responsibility to ensure that the group stays together and productive. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of it?
In my experience the best structure for a preparedness group is to meet once a week on the same day for no more that a few hours maximum unless there is a very specific and important reason. Do not try to make people sit around for six hours while the more “extroverted” members of the group blather all day. Many of them have lives outside of the survival world and will not come back for another meeting.
As a coordinator, you need to plan out projects and training ideas. What has your group accomplished in the past six months? If your honest answer is “nothing much except a lot of talk,” then this is a problem. People get bored. They want to see results. They want to be a part of those results. Endless political discussions and marches in Ranger File through the woods are not going to keep people interested. You will lose your group eventually, and with good reason.
Vetting group members
You will hear the anagram “OPSEC” thrown around haphazardly in preparedness circles as if it is some kind of catch-all answer as to why organizing is impossible or just plain “stupid.” Well, since we’ve already established that having no organization during a social breakdown is true stupidity ending in probable death, I think we need to take a closer look at the notion of OPSEC.
Firstly, Operational Security does not mean hiding in a survival bunker alone or with your immediate family while the world falls apart outside. You are not going to climb out of the ashes fresh as a daisy to rebuild civilization after all the looters have died. You are not going to fend off even a meager gang of thieves with just your Remington 870 and a Bowie knife. You are not going to be able to keep your family safe and fed, period.
Security requires eyes and trigger fingers, many of them, 24 hours a day seven days a week. We all have to sleep.
So, OPSEC to the degree that you have no community around you is unacceptable in survival terms. Therefore, you have to apply OPSEC more intelligently. This means vetting the people you work with and train with. Do they have an ugly criminal record? Are they former or current drug addicts (“addict” might be subject to interpretation — a guy smoking a joint now and then is probably not an issue but a guy popping Oxycontin on a regular basis should not be trusted)? Do they have an overly violent personality? Are they prone to overemotional reactions?
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