OPSEC

Prepping: ‘It’s Become Less Out Of The Ordinary, Less Extreme’

Earlier today I stumbled across a pretty decent article about the current state of “prepping” in the United States on the Chicago Tribune website. I say “pretty decent” because I’m so used to seeing “hit job” pieces about the activity in the mainstream media in the past six years I’ve been running this blog.

Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy wrote the article entitled “Prepper movement, while not mainstream, no longer just for doomsday outliers.” In it, she touches on themes including:

-Prepper mindset
-.22 LR ammunition as SHTF currency
-Degrees of prepping
-Operations/Operational security (OPSEC)

Head on over to the Tribune website here to read the entire piece.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Radio Appearance: Morning AMp, Vocalo Radio 90.7 FM Chicago

Last Chicago-focused post until next week- I promise.

However, this one’s not a “downer” like the other posts. In fact, I’m happy that I can share this with readers.

Back on Friday, February 8, I blogged about a terrific piece on Chicago-area preppers and guns that was done by Aurora Aguilar, a project editor over at Chicago public radio station WBEZ 91.5 FM. Published on the WBEZ website two days earlier, “Preppers: Guns are the most important tool in preparing for the end of civilization,” was the second story in a series by Aguilar entitled “Our Guns,” which are “conversations with gun owners.”

Now, later that Friday, Ms. Aguilar invited me to participate in a local show she was to be appearing on at the start of the next business week. I accepted, and on Monday, February 11, I found myself on the Morning AMp, a call-in talk show hosted by Brian Babylon and Molly Adams on Vocalo Radio 90.7 FM Chicago.

(Editor’s note: I didn’t have many details about the show beforehand, so I didn’t alert readers about the event)

From the show’s archive section on the Vocalo website:

Preppers: Preparing for the end of civilization with guns

George describes himself as “half-hillbilly, half-Viking.”

WBEZ’s Aurora Aguilar talked with George Drouillard (a pseudonym) about his preparedness plan. It maybe a devastating blizzard or a government takeover, either way George is ready with canned food, extra batteries, shovels, and lots and lots of guns. Aguilar joins hosts Molly Adams and Brian Babylon in the studio while Christopher Hill, editor of Survival and Prosperity, calls in to discuss the lifestyle choice that George has made and the community that supports it.

Brian and Molly were gracious hosts and were great to talk to. Aurora was terrific- again. As for me? I thought I could have done better, quite frankly. But I really appreciate having been given the opportunity to appear on the show and contribute what I’ve observed and learned over the last couple of years. Thank you so much Brian, Molly, and especially Aurora.

You can listen to our discussion of Chicago-area preppers and guns on Vocalo here (click on the “Play” symbol under the photo of “George” near the top-left-hand-side of the page).

By the way, before I said goodbye to the group that morning I pointed out there were still people without electricity as a result of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast last October. CNBC noted the Friday before the interview that some 2,000 people in New Jersey and and New York were still without power from the costly severe weather event.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago-Area Preppers And Their Guns

Some time ago, I received a message from Aurora Aguilar, a project editor with Chicago public radio station WBEZ 91.5 FM. Her request was one that I’ve received with increasing frequency over the last year or so. She was hoping to interview a prepper. Not just any modern survivalist- but one who is “stockpiling guns.” I gave Aurora names and contact info of more well-known and visible preppers who might be willing to talk to her, while at the same time cautioning her about the shying away from publicity that’s common among survivalists. I explained:

If you don’t know already, many preppers tend to be secretive about their activities. Not because they’re doing something illegal, but rather because of something called operational security (OPSEC).

Last night, I came across Ms. Aguilar’s piece on preppers and firearms. Published on the WBEZ website Wednesday, “Preppers: Guns are the most important tool in preparing for the end of civilization,” is the second story a in a series entitled “Our Guns,” which are “conversations with gun owners.”

Another hack-job?

Hardly. Aguilar pretty much hit this assignment right out of the park.

Now, the headline “guns are the most important tool in preparing for the end of civilization” may be a bit of a stretch. Guns are certainly a tool but the “most important” one? Debatable. Also, while some modern survivalists prepare for the “end of civilization” plenty of others prep for emergencies, man-made and natural disasters, and the end of civilization- as we know it. Firearms could have a role to play in those scenarios as well.

But Aguilar comes back strong in the body of the article. Consider the following statements:

“A growing group of Americans who believe life, as we know it, will end”

“In a family of war veterans, hunters and farmers, guns are thought of as tools, meant to provide food and protection”

“The fear that their stockpiles of food or weapons could be stolen stops preppers from talking.”

“After all, the entire family needs to be prepared.”

“Preppers go through a lot of ammo because many practice shooting at least once a week. They also see ammo as an investment. They believe people will need ammo if there’s a catastrophe.”

“The idea is to always be prepared…”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Aguilar gets its. She demonstrates that she has a good handle on what the Prepper Movement is about.

Too bad the same can’t be said about many of her colleagues.

A terrific, refreshing article, which can be found on the WBEZ website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Deep Earth Bunker’s Scott Bales: Most Prepping For Global Economic Crash

Last night I blogged about the Discovery Channel TV series Doomsday Bunkers. And before I forget, I recently came across a piece on the website of CBS affiliate First 12 News in northeast Texas in which Deep Earth Bunker owner Scott Bales talked about the prepper movement. Kristen Shanahan wrote on May 10:

“They’re worried about the dollar collapse, civil unrest, food shortages,” Scott Bales, owner of Deep Earth Bunkers, said…

“A dirty bomb could happen,” exclaimed Bales.

Those who believe the worst is yet to come are getting ready and they are known as “preppers”. For the past 14 years, Scott Bales has been in the business of building bunkers, shelters that can withstand just about anything designed to keep unwelcome guests out – including zombies.

“Zombies are people that didn’t prepare and then the world does whatever, and they’re the ones trying to get in your bunker to get your stuff that will kill you for your food and water. They go from procrastinators to zombies instantly,” Bales said.

Shanahan got a taste of operational security (OPSEC) while putting together the article. The KXII reporter and weekend anchor added:

Preppers come in all shapes and sizes. You could have a prepper next door to you and never even know it. Secrecy is just another tool for survival that is why none of the preppers we talked to would speak on camera.

“If you spend about half a million dollars on a bunker and you were going to hide there if there was a collapse, you wouldn’t want anybody knowing where it is because they’re going to know you have food and water in that bunker, and they’re going to come and get it,” Bales explained.

Having a number of preppers among his bunker clients, Bales talked about their gravest concern. From the piece:

He says people are preparing for all sorts of situations, but the most common is the potential crash of the worldwide economy.

“If we ran out of food right now and everybody ran to the store, there would only be three days of food left on every shelf and warehouse in the country. Three days,” Bales said.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

A worldwide financial crash? That’s just plain crazy.

Seriously, when was the last time the global economy was in that degree of trouble?

Sarcasm off.

Source:

Shanahan, Kristen. “‘Preppers’ preparing for the end.” First 12 News. 10 May 2012. (http://www.kxii.com/home/headlines/Preppers_getting_ready_for_the_end__150874255.html). 6 June 2012.

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

STRATFOR’s ‘Fundamentals Of Terrorism’ Part 2: Detection Points In The Terrorist Attack Cycle

Back on March 16, I talked about Scott Stewart of the global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or STRATFOR, authoring a series of Security Weekly reports entitled “Fundamentals of Terrorism.” The first of these, “The Myth of the End of Terrorism,” was released on February 23, and I wrote:

It’s a good, informative read, and serves as a reminder that just because major terror attacks directed against the United States and its interests haven’t been too successful lately, the threat hasn’t gone away.

The second “Fundamentals” report, entitled “Detection Points in the Terrorist Attack Cycle,” came out on March 1, and pointed out that those planning a terrorist attack must follow something called a “terrorist attack cycle,” and certain stages opens them up to detection.

Reprinted with permission of STRATFOR:

Detection Points in the Terrorist Attack Cycle

By Scott Stewart

Last week’s Security Weekly discussed the fact that terrorism is a tactic used by many different classes of actors and that, while the perpetrators and tactics of terrorism may change in response to shifts in larger geopolitical cycles, these changes will never result in the end of terrorism. Since that analysis was written, there have been jihadist-related attacks in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Yemen and Pakistan, an assassination attempt against the president of Abkhazia, and a failed timed-incendiary attack against the Athens subway. (The latter incident, which militant anarchists claimed, reinforces that jihadists are not the only ones who practice terrorism.)

But while terrorism is a continuing concern, it can be understood, and measures can be taken to thwart terrorist plots and mitigate the effects of attacks. Perhaps the most important and fundamental point to understand about terrorism is that attacks do not appear out of nowhere. Individuals planning a terrorist attack follow a discernible cycle — and that cycle and the behaviors associated with it can be observed if they are being looked for. We refer to these points where terrorism-related behavior can be most readily observed as vulnerabilities in the terrorist attack cycle.

The Attack Cycle

Many different actors can commit terrorist attacks, including sophisticated transnational terrorist groups like al Qaeda; regional militant groups like India’s Maoist Naxalites; small, independent cells like the anarchists in Greece; and lone wolves like Oslo attacker Anders Breivik. There can be great variance in attack motives and in the time and process required to radicalize these different actors to the point that they decide to conduct a terrorist attack. But once any of these actors decides to launch an attack, there is remarkable similarity in the planning process.

First, there is the process of selecting or identifying a target. Often an actor will come up with a list of potential targets and then select one to focus on. In some cases, the actor has preselected a method of attack, such as a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, and wants to find a target that would be vulnerable to that specific type of attack. In other cases, the actor will pick a target and then devise a method of attack based on that target’s characteristics and vulnerabilities. Simply put, the execution of these steps can be somewhat fluid; some degree of planning or preparation can come before target selection, and sometimes target selection will be altered during the planning process. The time required to execute these steps can also vary considerably. Some attacks can be planned and executed within hours or days, while more complex plans, such as those used in the 9/11 or Mumbai attacks, may take months or even years to complete.

Frequently, those planning an attack will conduct detailed surveillance of potential targets to determine what security measures are in place around the target and to gauge whether they have the ability to successfully attack it. If the target is too difficult to attack — commonly known as a hard target — the attack planners will typically move on to their next target, which may prove easier to attack. (When they do continue with attacks against targets whose security measures exceed the attackers’ capabilities, those attacks fail.) We refer to this stage as preoperational surveillance, which means surveillance that is conducted before the operation is fully planned.

After the target has been selected, a second round of surveillance is conducted. This round will be far more detailed and is intended to provide all the details necessary for planning the attack. For example, if the attack is being planned against a static facility, this round of surveillance will generally try to obtain a detailed description of the target’s physical security features and security force procedures. It will also focus on establishing a baseline understanding of the activity that can be expected around the facility at the time of day the attack is anticipated.

If the target of the attack is an individual, the individual’s residence, office and other places the individual frequents will be surveilled. Additionally, the surveillance team will look for patterns and routines that the target follows between these known locations. The team will often analyze the target’s usual routes looking for choke points, or places the target must pass to get from one point to another. If the surveillance team identifies a choke point that the target passes through predictably, it will then try to determine whether that point will allow the attackers to deploy in secret, permit them to spot and control the target, and provide them with good escape routes. If it does, this point will frequently be chosen as the attack site.

In the case of large organizations, different groups or individuals may conduct different phases of the surveillance. Many organizations use specialized operatives for surveillance, though the operational planner will often attempt to get eyes on the target to help with the planning process. For instance, it is known from court testimony in the Mumbai case that David Headley made five extended trips to Mumbai as those attacks were being planned. The repeated trips were required because the operational commanders in Pakistan considered India a hostile environment and the operational planners could not go there to conduct the surveillance themselves. As a result, Headley was sent to observe and report on specific things as planning for the attacks progressed.

During the planning phase, the personnel to be used in the attacks are identified and trained in any special skills they may require for the mission, including languages, marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, small-boat handling or land navigation. To protect operational security, the operatives may not be briefed in any great detail about the target of their operation until they are very close to being deployed.

Many times the planning phase will end with a dry run, as the preparation did for the 9/11 attacks, when some of the hijackers took their assigned flights in August 2001. While conducting a dry run, the attackers will generally be unarmed to ensure they do not needlessly bring law enforcement attention to themselves.

Sometimes an attacker will have acquired weapons for the attack before the planning phase. Other times the concept of the operation will be constrained by the weapons and money available. But quite frequently, the weapons for the attack will be acquired during the planning phase, after the target has been selected and the means of attack have been established.

Once planning, training and weapons acquisition are complete, the attack team can be deployed. The attack team frequently will again conduct surveillance of the target, especially if the target is mobile and the attack team is deployed and waiting at a predetermined attack site.

If it was properly planned, an attack is very likely to succeed once it has moved to the operational phase. Sometimes attacks do fail because of mistakes or bad luck, but by and large there is no way to stop an attack once it has been set in motion.

At the attack’s conclusion, the attackers will seek to escape the scene. The exception is suicide attacks or when, like Breivik, the attacker intends to be captured as part of the media exploitation phase, the final step in the cycle.

Regardless of whether the attack is a suicide attack against a church in Nigeria or a timed-incendiary attack against a subway in Athens, the same attack cycle is followed. With an eye toward averting future attacks, a thoughtful observer can use the attack cycle model to understand how an attack was planned and executed.

Vulnerabilities

While plots are occasionally thwarted at the last second, for the most part law enforcement and security personnel must detect and interdict the plot before it gets to the attack phase to have any chance of stopping it. Once the bullets fly or the explosive device is detonated, there is little security forces can do but initiate their immediate action drills in an effort to reduce the body count. This means that an emphasis must be placed on identifying attackers earlier in the process, well before they are in a position to strike.

Unless security forces have a source inside the group that is planning the attack or manage to intercept the group’s communications, the only way to identify attack planners is by noting their actions. This is especially true of a lone wolf attack, where no external communication occurs. The earliest point in the attack cycle that the attackers can be identified by their actions is during the preoperational surveillance required for target identification.

There is a widely held conception that terrorist surveillance is generally sophisticated and almost invisible, but when viewed in hindsight, it is frequently discovered that individuals who conduct terrorist surveillance tend to be quite sloppy and even amateurish in their surveillance tradecraft. We will discuss what bad surveillance looks like, and how to recognize it, in more detail next week, but for now it is sufficient to say that poor surveillance tradecraft is a significant vulnerability in the terrorist attack cycle.

As noted above, additional surveillance is often conducted at later stages of the attack cycle, such as in the planning stage and even sometimes in the attack stage, as the attackers track the target from a known location to the attack site. Each instance of surveillance provides an additional opportunity for the assailants to be identified and the attack to be prevented.

During the planning phase and as the operatives prepare to deploy, communication between and movement of group members often increases. Additionally, group members may engage in outside training that can attract attention, such as playing paintball, visiting the firing range or, as was the case with the 9/11 pilots, attending flight schools. This increase in activity, which also might include money transfers, leaves signs that could tip off the authorities.

Another significant vulnerability during the attack cycle is weapons acquisition. This vulnerability is especially pronounced when dealing with inexperienced grassroots operatives, who tend to aspire to conduct spectacular attacks that are far beyond their capabilities. For example, they may decide they want to conduct a bombing attack even though they do not know how to make improvised explosive devices. It is also not uncommon for such individuals to try to acquire Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, automatic firearms or hand grenades. When confronted by this gap between their capability and their aspirations, grassroots operatives will often reach out to someone for help with their attack instead of settling on an attack that is within their ability. Increasingly, the people such would-be attackers are encountering when they reach out are police or domestic security agency informants.

As far back as 2010, jihadist leaders such as Nasir al-Wahayshi of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula recognized this problem and began to encourage grassroots jihadists to focus on conducting simple attacks against soft targets. Nevertheless, grassroots jihadists are consistently drawn toward spectacular attacks, as seen in the Feb. 17 arrest near the U.S. Capitol of a Moroccan man who thought his handler, who was in fact an FBI informant, had equipped him for a suicide attack. Unlike most jihadists, other types of grassroots militants, such as anarchists, are far more comfortable conducting simple attacks with readily available items.

Personality traits and psychological profiles aside, anyone desiring to plan a terrorist attack must follow the attack planning cycle, which at certain stages will necessarily open them up to detection.

Detection Points In The Terrorist Attack Cycle is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Part 1 of STRATFOR’s “Fundamentals of Terrorism” series is reprinted here.

(Editor’s note: Link to original STRATFOR report added on “Resources” page)

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On TV: Doomsday Preppers, Episode 6

On Monday, I previewed episode number 6, “Nine Meals Away from Anarchy,” of the National Geographic Channel TV series Doomsday Preppers. This afternoon, I’ll be doing my review of the episode.

The show focused on three prepper groups this past Tuesday. In order of appearance:

Mike Mester and family, suburb of Atlanta, Georgia
“We’re preparing for civil unrest caused by a global economic collapse.”

Preston White, central Colorado
“Preston believes that a cloud of deadly radiation from Fukushima is heading towards the mainland United States and will soon contaminate food and water supplies.”

Riley Cook and family, Silverthorne, Colorado
“I’m preparing my family to survive a polar shift.”

Here are my thoughts about episode 6 of Doomsday Preppers, broken down by prepper group:

Mike Mester and family

Mike Mester is a contractor who lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, kids, and dogs. Prepping is a way of life for the entire family, so much so that they’ve been doing it for almost a decade. Mike warned:

The way the United States economy works today is not sustainable. We were once the greatest creditor in the world. Now, we are the greatest debtor. Where will all the money come from? Look at the news, look at the papers. Police departments cut. Fire departments cut. What will we do when there’s no one there?

According to the show:

Mike believes that as the global economy falters, the U.S. economy will fall deeper and deeper into debt. Banks will close. Power will go out. Basic services will grind to a halt.

Which led Mike to ask:

If the grocery shelves are empty, you’re only nine meals away from anarchy. What will happen then? Will you be prepared?

It’s revealed that oldest son Ryan is away at college 250 miles away. Mike declared:

My wife and I, our home is our family. That’s why we want to ensure that we get all our children home when things collapse. We will go to any extent to ensure their safety.

As a result, Ryan’s parents provided him with a “get home” bag full of supplies, including food and water, that will support him for 4 days. In case their son is unable to make it back to the Mester household by himself, his parents have a backup plan in place. Mike explained:

Heaven forbid our oldest boy can’t make it home. That’s why we have plans to retrieve him in 30 days.

From the show:

Mike believes that after an economic collapse, rioting will spread from urban centers in waves, with violence cresting in the first few weeks. So 30 days is a key timeframe for braving the road.

Mr. Mester suspects gasoline will be hard to come by in an economic collapse, so he stores 50 gallons of it out in his garage. He replenishes his stockpile every 3 months to keep the gas fresh. Viewers were also informed in the episode:

He is also teaching his son Kyle methods for stealing gasoline, if necessary.

Nice. How about:

He is also teaching his son Kyle methods for recovering gasoline from abandoned/disabled vehicles in a societal collapse.

It’s just not the humans who are prepping in the Mester household. Their two German Shepherd dogs, Storm and Thunder, both have bug-out bags and were later shown to be receiving training for protecting the home and family.

Putting his logistician background to good work, Mike has amassed and organized an impressive stockpile of food and water. It’s revealed 3 rooms of his 4,500 square-foot house are dedicated to food storage. He estimated they have 2 years of food for 10 people. Viewers are also informed:

Mike stores thousands of cans, sometimes for years past their expiration date. Expired food might not taste good, but Mike knows it could keep his family alive in a crisis.

Mike added:

There’s a difference between shelf life and life-sustaining. In Third World countries, they use rancid cooking oil. Certainly, it will not hurt you.

Another interesting bit of info provided about the Mester family’s preps was the alternative fuel source they were shown fabricating and stockpiling. They collect dead leaves in the fall and combine them with newspaper to create an alternative fuel source. The mixture is soaked in water for 5 days, the slurry is compressed to remove the liquid, and briquettes are formed and air-dried for a week to serve as emergency heating and cooking sources. Very nice.

Like a number of other suburban preppers, Mike and his family recognize the potential threats from living so close to a major American city should a SHTF situation arise- and are preparing accordingly. Mike said:

Security is an important part of the prepper’s lifestyle. If there’s an economic collapse, civil unrest will likely ensue the metropolitan areas, then spread out to the suburbs. Downtown Atlanta is only 45 miles away. We don’t know how fast that civil unrest will get to us, but we certainly will be prepared if it does.

The Mester family possesses a battery of home-defense firearms and a stockpile of ammunition, and trains monthly at the shooting range.

Mike left viewers with this thought:

If you think the government’s going to be there, are you going to sit back and wait for the cavalry? They may never come. So what are you going to do about it? Why don’t you start to prepare? Because it’s your personal responsibility.

In the “Expert Assessment” portion of the Mester segment, Practical Preppers LLC recommended:

You need to put your leadership skills to use in your community. Getting your neighbors aware of, and involved in your prepping, will only make your family more secure in a crisis situation.

Excellent advice. But I’d add, that depends on the neighbors. I’ve lived next to my share of wackjobs over the years. And here in Chicago, where a good number of the residents have bought into the notion of “cradle-to-grave” care and protection by the Nanny State, preppers/survivalists and firearm owners are looked upon with intense suspicion, if not disgust.

Finally, in the “Doomsday Preppers Update” portion, Mike Mester indicated that the family was planning to grow a 1,000 square foot garden in their backyard. Those who lived in Russia in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse will attest to how important a food garden is when society breaks down.

Preston White

Preston White is a web developer who lives in central Colorado. The recent disaster at the Fukushima power plant in Japan got him prepping. From the show:

Preston believes that a cloud of deadly radiation from Fukushima is heading towards the mainland United States and will soon contaminate food and water supplies.

White said:

People need to know Japan should be evacuated. California, Oregon, and Washington should be evacuated.

Convinced of this radioactive contamination, White makes putting together a seed bank a top priority. From the episode:

Believing that radioactive fallout from Japan will contaminate the American food chain, Preston is creating a seed bank, a store of fruit and vegetable seeds that can be used to grow radiation-free food in a post-apocalyptic world.

White has amassed so many seeds, he is shown displaying 11,000 different types for viewers. He explained:

A non-prepper might look at my supply and say, “Are you kidding me?” But if something happens- I win this game. People that aren’t prepared- they lose this game.

In the episode, Preston White worked with other preppers (Shane Anderson, Richard Dudas) to plant his seeds and create a radiation-free farm. A key component to the farm is the biosphere tent system, which acts as barrier to radioactive fallout while allowing enough light in to grow food year-round. In addition, these tents can be broken down/set up fast and easily transported should the situation call for it.

Besides growing food, these tents were also purchased so people can live in them. At this point in the episode, local Russell Preister brought in and demonstrated an HHO generator/home heater prototype that would hopefully provide energy, clean radiation-free water, and purified oxygen for the plant and human occupants. According to the show:

The HHO generator can turn water into highly-flammable gas by using electrolysis to separate water’s hydrogen and oxygen atoms. It can literally turn water into fire… HHO technology has become increasingly popular, with plans to build home generators readily available on the Internet.

Like the Mester family, White has a battery of home-defense firearms. He said:

If you’re a prepper, there’s 4 guns to have. You’ve got a 30-06 to kill a deer, shotgun, 22 rifle to protect your home, and a 9mm pistol. A sidearm for close contact. The guns I chose, I chose for defense.

Hope he meant to say that 22 rifle is a .223.

After learning a valuable lesson about violating operational security (OPSEC), White remarked:

I was faced with death. Decided I wasn’t going to be a victim. It changed my life the way I live tomorrow. I can affect my picture, and that’s what you do by prepping.

In the “Doomsday Preppers Update” portion of this segment, Preston said:

I’m hoping in the future to pick up a motor home and make it into a really good bug-out vehicle.

I always thought a mobile bug-out location was a neat idea. For those who can’t afford a fixed BOL, it might be worth investigating.

Riley Cook and family

Riley Cook is a welder living in Silverthorne, Colorado, with his wife and four kids. According to the show:

Riley believes that during his lifetime, there will be a catastrophic polar shift, a movement of the Earth’s North and South Poles along the Earth’s mantle. And this drastic geological change will unleash a litany of natural disasters.

The Cook family began seriously prepping 5 years ago. It was revealed they have already spent around $300,000 on prepping.

Prepping has become such an integral part of their lives, the Cook family’s welding shop recently became a disaster shelter building business. Because they construct customized underground bunkers, all sorts of features can be incorporated into a project. Even an incinerator to eliminate pesky intruders. Riley explained:

That’s what you get when you combine a prepper and a welder.

Getting back to the episode:

A bunker buried at a distant bug-out location is only effective if you can get to it. Riley expects that the catastrophic nature of a polar shift will cause severe fuel shortages. So he has used his expert welding skills to solve the problem of transportation. His latest prepping tool is a custom-made Cook original that he hopes will allow his family to carry supplies without needing a car or truck.

Riley designed and built a 100 lb. hand-crafted aluminum cart that allows him to haul almost 9 times his body weight by distributing loads like a horse and cart. In this case, Riley is the horse. It’s also water-tight and can float in a body of water. Pretty cool.

Not surprisingly, the Cook family has an underground survival shelter located at 11,200 feet in the Colorado mountains 10 miles from civilization. During the episode, Riley, his wife Sara(h?), and their kids are shown practicing bugging-out in severe weather up an unplowed, snow-covered mountain pass to the bunker. From the show:

Emergency preparedness experts suggest that you practice evacuating your home at least twice a year, and plot alternate routes in case roads become impassable.

Great advice.

The Cook family eventually made it to their “cabin,” and proceeded to hunker down for the remainder of their stay.

Overall, a really good episode. As I said in my preview earlier in the week, a lot of viewers can probably relate to the Mester family in the suburbs, the Cook family in the small town, and even Preston White out in central Colorado. And this week, a number of ideas (food gardens, HHO generators/home heaters, motor homes, etcetera) were introduced that might be worth looking into.

I wish these three prepper groups success in their endeavors.

New episodes of Doomsday Preppers air on the National Geographic Channel Tuesday nights at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific Time. For more information, go to the Nat Geo Channel website here.

And before I forget, have you seen the new Doomsday Preppers TV commercial yet? When I first heard it, I thought it sounded so similar to the beverage commercials from the late 70s/early 80s it had me wondering if the original crew hadn’t been hired to produce it…


“I’m a Prepper, You’re a Prepper”
YouTube Video

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On TV: Doomsday Bunkers TV Series

The end… is near. In every corner of America, people believe our world is changing. To them, civilization is falling apart. And the rest of us are in denial. They call themselves preppers, and they’re getting ready for the Apocalypse. They’re piling up guns and food, but what they really need is the perfect place to lay low. Real low. Enter Scott Bales, and Deep Earth Bunkers.

-Intro to episode 1 of Doomsday Bunkers

Wednesday night was the premiere of the new Discovery Channel television series Doomsday Bunkers. While I talked a little about the project Tuesday, this morning I will be reviewing episode 1, “Bunkers, Bullets and Blast Doors.”

Enter Scott Bales, an engineer by trade and owner of Deep Earth Bunker out of Dallas, Texas. From their website:

We manufacture and design, Bunkers and Storm/Hurricane Shelters Panic Vaults and Safe Rooms!

According to Bales, DEB started off fabricating storm shelters first, then added bunkers due to prepper demand. From the show:

Extreme weather and a volatile economy have triggered an explosion of new preppers. Scott’s Texas plant has been bombarded with new orders.

The company has built and installed hundreds of bunkers to date.

Other DEB personnel who appeared in episode 1 included:

• Jesse Saul- Floor Manager
• Scott Free- Special Projects Manager
• Charlie Christie- Quality Assurance/Carpenter
• Alex Bales- Scott’s 22-year-old son. Dad would like him to run the business some day.

Viewers were shown a 1,700 square foot DEB-constructed off-the-grid bunker at an undisclosed location. This particular shelter had multiple generators, filtered air, a 7,000 gallon water tank, and a full-service sewage system. It also came equipped with an above-ground hatch that led to an underground staircase and an armored blast door, along with an escape hatch. While I understand that many of the company’s bunkers share similar features, a bidet was requested by the client for this project. The interior was also designed and decorated to resemble a real nice apartment/condo unit. Bales explained:

Our bunkers are unique. We build them as close to being at home as possible to make you feel more comfortable when you’re in that bunker for an extended period of time.

The premiere focused on two clients of Deep Earth Bunker. First, there’s Shea Degan, a prepper, a former cop, and “master military tactician.” Degan discussed his interested in a bunker:

My number one priority is to protect my wife and children… My biggest fear is social unrest. We’re on the verge of having another recession. When people get desperate, they do desperate things. Home are broken into, business looted, chaos ensues. If the government collapses, and you weren’t a prepper, you don’t have the things in place to protect yourself or your family, you’re in trouble. You have civilized folks that can turn uncivilized very quickly. It becomes survival of the fittest.

Degan opened up 88 Tactical two years ago, a 168-acre complex in northern Nebraska. He explained:

88 Tactical group is a training organization. We’ve taken all of our law enforcement training, and we’ve opened up a number of courses for civilians.

88 Tactical is beta-testing a new training course that teaches people how to live in a bunker, and how to re-integrate into society after emerging from the shelter. As such, Degan wanted the DEB bunker for two purposes. He said:

I am buying this bunker for two different reasons. To teach people how to live in a bunker. And to protect my family- if need be.

Recognizing that this particular project would violate operational security (OPSEC) in that plenty of people would know of the existence and location of the Degan family’s underground survival shelter, Bales pointed out:

Clients call us with crazy ideas all the time. Shea is actually going to show people where his bunker is. You can’t get any more crazy than that.

He told Shea:

I can already see right now that we are going to have to put one hell of an engineered door in this thing, because everybody’s going to know where it is. And when the s*** hits the fan, they’re coming for your bunker, I don’t care what you’ve trained them to do. They’re naturally are going to come right to the bunker. The door has got to be able to stop trained guys from getting through.

Shea replied:

Well, that’s why I’m relying on you, Scott.

The two hammered out the specs for the project. According to the show:

Shea’s bunker needs to hold 4 people for up to 6 months. Scott decides on a 3-unit bunker complex. With over 1,100 square feet of underground space. A living room and full kitchen. Storage for over 6 months of food. And a sleeping wing with a full bathroom. Total cost, $450,000.

Scott talked more about this latest undertaking:

To live underground, there’s a bunch of stuff you have to have- clean air, water, and a solid septic system. Shea’s bunker gets fresh clean air through a nuclear, biological, chemical filter. The sewage will be collected in underground tanks. And for fresh water, Shea’s property holds a major advantage. Shea’s bunker has an underground well that’s dug seven hundred feet down to an aquifer under the earth. He’ll have water forever.

Deep Earth Bunker staff started work on Shea Degan’s shelter, while Scott focused on “the most complicated part of the build project”- the blast door. He explained:

The door is the most important part of any bunker or shelter.

DEB happens to have their own debris testing center which includes a pneumatic air cannon that shoots 2 X 4s over 600 mph. They proceeded to fire these projectiles at a number of different doors before selecting a potential candidate for the Degan job.

At this point in episode 1, viewers were introduced to Mike Hagans, another client of Deep Earth Bunker. Hagans lives with family on the Florida coast. Having already had an underground shelter built for him by Deep Earth Bunker, Hagans contacted Scott Bales about a recent situation in which the generator for his bunker was stolen.

This hideaway is tucked away in an undisclosed mountainous location hundreds of miles away. He said:

My bunker will protect me from tsunamis. I’m up over 1,500 feet.

Hagans explained why he wanted a bunker:

The reason I wanted to get a bunker? Piece of mind.

His underground shelter is only two- years- old, is 8 X 7 X 30, and cost him $70,000 to construct. He is prepping for crises that could last up to 6 months. Hagans said:

I first thought I needed a bunker when I was doing research. I started seeing all the severe weather we’ve been having- the tremendous amount of earthquakes, tornadoes. It just seems those things have been getting worse. You’re going to have some type of catastrophic event that will change everything. The people who aren’t prepping become zombies. They will kill you for anything that will help them survive.

Scott got busy working on a solution for Mike that will allow him to remotely-monitor his bunker.

Returning to Shea Degan’s project, it’s revealed that Shea’s “dedication to prepping is causing conflict at home.” His spouse, Jeannette, recalled:

The first time he brought up prepping, I thought he was crazy.

She’s apparently concerned about the amount of money that’s being spent on supplies. However, Jeannette fully supports her husband training their two kids to defend themselves.

In what could be the funniest part of the show, Scott is shown tinkering with motion-triggered security systems. To test out his latest creation, he affixes an automatic Airsoft gun to it and proceeds to spray his staff with plastic BBs as they break for lunch.


“Doomsday Bunkers: Bunker Defense”
Discovery Channel Video

While Scott worked on a solution for Mike, the prepper resolved himself to taking care of business at his Florida home, which is also full of gear and supplies for the Hagans family to bug-in if needed. Mike said:

You’re actually never done prepping. There’s always something a little bit more you can do.

Like Shea, Mike trains family members in self-defense. But instead of working on hand-to-hand fighting skills, the Hagans family headed to the shooting range in this episode.

The show returned to the ongoing construction of the Degan bunker at DEB, where it was explained:

Building the interior of a bunker is just like building a home- in reverse. The team primes the steel walls first, to protect from rust. And then goes about adding plywood and drywall.

At this point in the episode, Scott’s son Alex gets upset about the wrong screws provided to both him and Charlie Christie, DEB’s carpenter and quality assurance guy. Floor manager Jesse Saul is forced to speak with Alex about his outburst.

The discovery of plywood that’s already been installed in the interior becoming warped due to intense humidity got the team refocused on the task at hand. Unfortunately, the plywood had to be removed and replaced.

While Scott still needs to perfect his motion-triggered security system (future episode?), he was able to figure out a way for Mike Hagans to remotely-monitor his bunker. A 360-degree camera system with 2-way speakers that can be viewed/operated from the underground shelter and remotely via the Internet was installed high in the trees surrounding the mountainous bug-out location. Scott and Mike tested the new system out, and the bunker client was satisfied with the results.

Returning to the Degan project, the DEB crew was shown busting their tails before Shea returned to the facility for a walk-through. Bales explained that the company usually conducts a client walk-through when a project is almost done. Despite Scott’s concerns, his employees made significant progress, and Shea was impressed by what he saw.

The two attended the test of a blast door that DEB hoped would be strong enough to keep the bad guys out of the Degan bunker. Local SWAT team members fired long guns and handguns against the door, to no effect. Next, a shotgun and crowbar-like tool were used to try and breech the door, without success. Finally, a demolitions expert the team brought along with them rigged the entryway with 3 lbs of explosive. Even after detonating this, the blast door refused to budge. DEB had themselves a winner.

With nearly 1,000 hours of work invested in the project, the Nebraska site was prepped for installation by removing 1,400 tons of dirt, leaving a 12-foot deep hole. A crane was used to drop the bunker onto a concrete slab in the hole. And weeks later, well water and septic were hooked up, and the bunker was finally covered. Shea Degan proceeded to stock the shelter with 1,500 lbs of food, enough for his family of four to live 6 months underground.

Overall, I enjoyed episode 1 of Doomsday Bunkers. I’ve always liked learning about underground shelters, so this was right up my alley. “Bunkers, Bullets and Blast Doors” was very interesting, informative, and even funny at times. The Deep Earth Bunker staff that appeared on the show were likeable and seemed professional.

That being said, I’m not a big fan of “reality” TV, and two elements of that genre appeared in Doomsday Bunkers. First, there was drama from Shea Degan’s prepping “causing conflict at home” and from Alex being the owner’s son (as evidenced by the incident with the wrong screws). Second, there was the fast-approaching deadline with the client walk-through.

While I understand that “reality” television is a big hit among many Americans, I can’t help but wonder if the person that tunes into Doomsday Bunkers isn’t the “reality” show type. First off, the preppers/survivalists in the audience already pride themselves from being distinct from the “herd.” Second, from my experience, fans of “reality” TV flock to such programming because (as ironic as it sounds) it diverts their attention away from their own reality. Prepper Mike Hagans may have inadvertently described these folks when he said in the episode:

The people who aren’t paying attention out there- they don’t know what’s going on. Nor do they care to know what’s going on. They don’t want to know what could happen. They’re welcome to think that way. Doesn’t mean I have to.

In my opinion, the Discovery Channel and viewers stand to gain more by having Doomsday Bunkers focus more on the client’s reason(s) for wanting an underground shelter (how about bringing in outside experts to talk about the various threats?) and the engineering/technological features of the bunkers (for example, why wouldn’t the bad guys just attack the air supply system instead of messing around with a blast door?), rather than go down the increasingly-stale “reality” TV route. The rest of us already have enough drama and deadlines in our lives.

According to the Discovery Channel TV schedule, episode 2 of Doomsday Bunkers will air on Wednesday, March 14, and episode 3 on Wednesday, March 21, both at 10 PM E/P each day. Check it out!

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Survival And Prosperity
Est. 2010, Chicagoland, USA
Christopher E. Hill, Editor

Successor to Boom2Bust.com
"The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street"
(Memorial Day Weekend 2007-2010)

PLEASE RATE this blog HERE,
and PLEASE VOTE for the blog below:



Thank you very, very much!
Advertising Disclosure here.
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Emergency Foods Local vendor (Forest Park, IL). Review coming soon.
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Legacy Food Storage Review coming soon
ANY CHARACTER HERE
MyPatriotSupply.com reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Buy Gold And Silver Coins BGASC reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
BulletSafe reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
BullionVault BullionVault.com reviewed HERE
This project dedicated to St. Jude
Patron Saint of Desperate Situations

Categories

 

Archives