Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Real world SHTF: The Countryside is more Dangerous

One of the most commonly accepted misconceptions in the survival and preparedness community is that “once SHTF”, you “gotta get out of Dodge!”
It seems that not many people ask why and just accept this as an unquestionable fact, but those that do usually get a reply about cities being where most people are and therefore where problems will be worse. The logic here would be that more people=more problems. While this may be the case in some specific scenarios, those of us that have dedicated years of our lives to seriously study real disasters tend to have a different opinion, and the answer is: Its not that simple.
The best location to ride out a disaster, large or small, is directly linked to the type of disaster you are facing. In the case of war, widespread terrorism or uprisings, running to the countryside is probably the last thing you want to do.
In the case of an invading force moving across a country, both cities and more rural areas would be equally at risk. Ground troops moving forward will go through all buildings looking for enemies, scouts and spies and no survival retreat with armed occupants will present much of problem to anyone with mortar fire at their disposal. Anything that falls within the enemy occupation territory is at risk.
Different historic incidents such as the Bosnian war, involving an invading, foreign force, or the violence in South Africa, in this case a local threat, targeting farmers after the African National Congress rose to power, have shown us that the countryside isn’t always an idyllic safe place to be in when everything goes to hell.
Currently we have yet another example with Boko Haram militants:
DALORI, Nigeria — Hundreds of women and girls captured by Boko Haram have been raped, many repeatedly, in what officials and relief workers describe as a deliberate strategy to dominate rural residents and possibly even create a generation of Islamist militants in Nigeria.
Despite this relative calm in urban areas, Boko Haram killings and kidnappings have not diminished. Recent analysis of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker indicates that they have in fact increased.
Fighting has instead shifted to rural areas.
Boko Haram militants killed dozens of traders at a village market in northeastern Nigeria's Borno state, security sources said.
The attack Friday was the second major assault on the market in Mainok, 65 kilometers west of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, within five months.
The weekly rural market draws hundreds of people from remote and surrounding communities who come to trade their farm produce and animals.
In this case, we see how when terrorist organizations aren’t strong enough or big enough, they will fight more of a guerrilla warfare, hiding in the countryside, taking over smaller towns and villages, and only going after bigger cities when they have enough power to defeat the forces located there.
If we think of a post SHTF world in USA where for whatever reason most of the country has collapsed, it is easy to see how most of the security and rebuilding efforts will be focused on the larger cities with the most people while smaller communities and the least populated areas will be left to fend for themselves.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.


Don Williams said...

1) Which area -city or country -- is more dangerous depends upon the country and local situation.

2) The mindset of American survivalists was set by Mel Tappan circa 1979 , who urged people to find refuges in the country around 400 miles away from any major city.

But Mel did NOT urge people to set up in isolated rural cabins --he mocked the very idea as idiotic and impossible to defend. Noting how a young couple in his Oregon area had been murdered by some rogue motorcyclists.

Instead, Mel argued for fair-sized (5000 population) fortified towns in largely self-sufficient agricultural areas with a local police force/militia powerful enough to defeat likely threats.

3) Mel was influenced by the massive urban riots/widespread arson that had struck multiple US cities in the 1960s Civil Rights struggle, especially in 1968 after the assassination of black leader Martin Luther King. See,e.g.,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_riots#Civil_Rights_and_Black_Power_Movement.27s_Period:_1955.E2.80.931977 and associated links like




4) There were several unique aspects of US history that led to the above. Slavery, black repression by Southern resistance to Northern military occupation after the Civil War, the massive migration of blacks to northern cities due to heavy demand for labor in WWII, and the descent of black urban areas into deep poverty after the war ended and US corporations dispersed to the outer suburbs due to the threat of Soviet nuclear attacks on the urban cores.

5) Mel also lived during the economic stagnation and high inflation of the Jimmy Carter period and thought urban riots would increase if economic collapse halted the flow of welfare income payments and food subsidies (food stamp program.)

Although Mel's concern about high federal debt seems premature. US federal debt was only 37 percent of US GDP in 1979 -- it is over 100 percent today. And the massive baby boomer generation was entering the workforce then -- not entering retirement with a massive demand for income and health care by the elderly about to hit Social Security and Medicare programs underfunded by $40+ Trillion.

Don Williams said...

1) A survivalist movie of the 1960s had an interesting idea for how to free up the freeway if you need to escape the city and have the Massive Horde climbing up your back. Dump 5 gallons of gasoline on the freeway and toss the ole flaming Zippo lighter at it -- massive flames, exploding gas tanks etc halts the exodus behind you and freezes a massive traffic jam (and the Urban Horde) in place.

2) However, Mel and other survivalists greatly underestimated the capability of humans to move on foot. With food and water in a back pack, 20 miles a day is not unreasonable, which means it only takes 20 days to cover 400 miles. Small bands emigrated from Asia to South America via North America 12,000 years ago and settlers here in the USA crossed 2500 miles on foot from the East Coast to California in the 1849 Gold Rush.

However, the need for water means large bands of people would have to follow the rivers and subsidiary streams inland, just as they did in the colonial period.

3) Plus the US military has its chains of massive forts out in rural areas about 80-100 miles from the major cities and in areas likely to escape blast or major fallout in a Soviet/Russian nuclear attack.

4) The US government has plans to have the US Army tightly control travel and seize food supplies in the event of catastrophe. Partly for the benign purpose of ensuring the food flows to people who need it but also because if you control the food you control the population. The great wealth of the Rich lies in the urban areas and suburban areas -- to reconstitute the economy means you can't let the workers go on walkabout.

Don Williams said...

1) It should be noted that the US Government had plans during the Cold War to evacuate the entire population of our major cities out into the rural countryside
within 3 days, upon our spy satellites seeing the Soviets evacuating their own cities as a prelude to attacking the US. The US evacuation would be executed in part by blocking traffic from coming into the cities so that the inward bound
lanes could be freed up to carry traffic out of the cities. I.e, all lanes on Interstates and major highways near cities would be outward bound traffic only.

2) An interesting 1976 Cold War study of how this would be done and the refugees fed is here:


Title is "Survival of the Relocated Population of the US After a Nuclear Attack".

This plan was for dealing with a massive nuclear war -- 6569 Megatons. (For comparison, a
single 1 megaton warhead hitting a city destroys pretty much everything for 8 miles out in all directions.)

3) An excerpt from the Executive Summary:
"The major problems in the postattack situation will be the control of exposure to fallout
radiation, and the prevention of severe food shortages to several tens of millions of people.
...Adequate food reserve exists in the US in the form of grain stocks, but a vigorous shipping
program would have to be initiated within two or three weeks after the attack to avoid large scale starvation in some areas. If the attack occurred in June when crops on the average are
the most vulnerable to fallout radiation, the crop yield could be reduced by about one-third to
one-half, and the effects on crops of possible increased ultraviolet radiation resulting from ozone layer depletion by nuclear detonations may further increase the loss of about 80% of the US crude refining capacity and nearly all oil pipelines would either be destroyed or inoperative during the first several weeks after an attack. However, a few billion gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline would survive in tank storage throughout the country, more than enough for trains and trucks to accomplish the grain shipment required for survival. Results of a computer program...indicate that less than 2% of the 1970 rail shipping capacity, or less than 6% of the 1970 truck shipping capacity would be adequate to carry out the necessary grain shipments. The continuity of a strong federal government throughout the attack and postattack period is essential to coordinate the wide-scale interstate survival activities."

They weren't (aren't ?)kidding. Figures 3.5-3.11 show the massive population increase in US
rural counties --possible only if every rural family suddenly was forced to house 20 urban refugees(spies?) in their home. heh heh

4) Regarding fuel , Philadelphia is a major oil refining center on the East Coast (although less than
Houston.) News recently came to light here of huge underground caverns that were secretly carved out during the Cold War to hold a massive fuel reserve. Cut out of granite more than 100 feet underground the Marcus Hook reserve was designed to withstand a direct strike by a large nuclear bomb. See


5) Think of the new TV show -- Marvel, Agents of Shield. Sometimes the US government really is looking
out for you while you go out to the discos and dance to the BeeGees music. Hopefully, your particular food shipments won't be carried by Amtrak engineers hitting 50 mile per hour curves at 106 miles per hour.

And note that in the 1980s , scientists monitoring temperature drops on Mars from dust storms suddenly realized that "nuclear winter" from a nuclear war's massive mushroom clouds might prevent any crops from being
grown for two years after the war. Sigh.

As a backup plan, note that urban liberals could be an excellent protein source.