Monday, July 30, 2018

Lessons Learned: Observations from the siege of Ramadi

Hello! A few years ago I sent you an email regarding my observations and experiences in Afghanistan and how community is integral for long term survival and how dangerous the lone-wolf bunker mindset can be. You quite effectively provided clarification on points where I was correct and a pretty spot on rebuttal regarding how one must not rely on the kindness of others TOO much. So, in the years since I have been a few more places and seen some more things that I feel might be relevant to your blog.

For background I am an active duty infantryman in the United States Marine Corps and have been to (and fought in) some of the most dangerous and unstable political hot-spots on the planet. In the summer of 2015 through the winter of 2016 I was present in an advisory role to the Iraqi army during the siege of Ramadi in Iraq. To say the place was devastated is an understatement. I remember watching old black and white videos of the liquidation of Poland's ghettos by the Nazis and the aftermath of the battle of Warsaw. It looked like that, just utter destruction and rubble. The people there had really been through the wringer, everybody to the last child were very thin, a man came to me holding an infant covered in some kind of skin infection. I really don't know how to put what I saw into words, I thought my experience with war in Afghanistan had shown me everything but I was gravely mistaken. The worst of it was, just because the city was liberated didn't mean it was over for them.

The Iraqi army behaved admirably and with as much discipline as could be expected from such a hastily trained, equipped, and fielded force. Rough around the edges for certain, but not terrible. The rag-tag band of assorted militia and volunteer forces were another story. Such groups were hardly better than ISIS themselves and many were open enemies as likely to fight among themselves or against us as they were to fire at ISIS. A large number of these groups were really little more than roving groups of bandits who had simply pledged their support to the campaign for the opportunity to loot whatever was left after. This is something they set about doing with wild abandon against the beleaguered populace almost immediately. I saw quite a few of these militia members running around with armloads of things they had "found." Cartons of cigarettes, watches, phones, radios, flashlights, even furniture or bottles of cooking oil. For a few nights it was pure chaos. I remember on the first night some volunteer militia from Iran decided to move into an "empty" building. After violently evicting the civilians who already lived there the Iraqi army showed up to kick them out. After this things devolved into a gun-battle that lasted three days leaving most of the Iranians dead, a good number of Iraqi soldiers dead or wounded, and the original occupants totally homeless. In short, the disaster really wasn't over for the residents of the city, in fact they had several more months of hardship to endure caught in between inter-factional squabbling, government corruption, supply delays, and banditry. Aid was very very slow to arrive and when it did people who wanted it often had to pique an Iraqi soldier's interest with barter. Cartons of cigarettes, american currency, and precious metals always seemed to get people to the front of the line and they always seemed to have a little bigger armload of aid items than anyone else. I saw very very little genuine charity, the line between relief and corruption rackets was very very blurry.

The poorly supplied Iraqi soldiers were as likely to hold onto anything that showed up as hand it out and often needed to be "persuaded" to part with anything. The militias just flat out stole and hoarded anything they could get their hands on from beans and bullets to office chairs. I  even saw men armed to the teeth guarding a building packed to the ceiling with bed's mattresses, and foot stools for some reason. The idea that things can get so bad that somebody will literally shoot you in the face for a dirty mattress had never occurred to me. I tried to help the guy with the sick baby but we were deployed so far forward that the best I could do was give the guy a bottle of soap and some clean water to wash the baby with. We were the only people there who had any capability or motive to help but we had virtually nothing that we weren't carrying with us and were even forced to begin bartering bits of kit and the odd american dollar for simple crap like drinking water. Frankly, I could fill a book with the stupid, senseless, petty and weird bullshit that was going on there but I think I've made my point.

In summary, The line between disaster and recovery is often about as blurry as the line between friend and foe. Just because the shooting stops for a bit and the "bad guys" are gone doesn't mean you should hop out of your hole and start dancing just yet. The "good guy's" gun can kill you just as easily and it might still be a very long time before any actual relief or positive change is seen. The lesson I took from this is that if one can ever help it they ought to not just prepare for the disaster, but it's aftermath as well. One cannot rely on aid showing up on time (or even at all) and the relief force liberating you might be just as likely to kick you out of your house as the marauding thugs they supposedly aren't. People who laid low and held on to barter items seemed to do a lot better. The people who helped themselves were far, far better off than the ones who had counted on the "friendly" force to bail them out.
Thanks a lot T!
First-hand accounts of events such as these are extremely valuable.
It’s a mix bag really, sometimes you find humbling acts of generosity but it seems that just as often and then some you come across some of the worst acts people are capable of.
I agree 100% on trying not to count on anyone. If someone helps out or you manage to work together with others then even better but expect not to have any help, especially when everyone is struggling to stay afloat themselves.
Take care and again, thank you for your email.

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”

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Brexit Survival guide: 5 things to do right Now

Stockpile food

The government recently admitted that in anticipation of a no-deal Brexit, it has been drawing up plans to stockpile processed foods, in the event that the free flow of goods, in particular food and medicine is discontinued between EU producers and UK consumers.

Theresa May just said stockpiling food and medicines for Brexit is  being ‘sensible’ in preparing for a ‘no deal’. What do you know? I can finally agree with this woman on something.
I’d rather have the food myself rather than the government though. Don’t like the idea of waiting in line with an empty stomach while they redistribute food and supplies as they see fit. That just doesn’t tickle my fancy if you know what I mean.

Having a healthy stockpile of food is always a good idea, but its even more so when the government is clearly also preparing specifically for such a possibility.
Go to ASDA, Lidl or some other discount store and stock up on rice, beans or lentils and dry pasta. They are cheap and they will keep you fed.  I’d get 6 months worth of it. Kept stored in a seal bag it will last for years and you can work your way through it incorporating it into different meals as you rotate your supply.

Get a well check with your GP
Mobile health check unit

How do I get an NHS Health Check?

If you haven't had a stroke, or don't already have heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease, you can have an NHS Health Check if you're aged 40 to 74. It’s essential to stay in good health and the NHS only authorizes one of these (for now) every five years. There’s no reason why the NHS can’t stop “inviting” people to get this done. If that happens, expect to pay for this out of your own pocket when money is short after Brexit.

Stock up on medicine, other supplies and gold
Image result for gold sovereign
Just like with food, import fees, low supply and a devaluated currency means that without a doubt products both local and imported will be more expensive. You want to stock up even British products given that they simply wont get any cheaper in the next few years.
The Pound will continue to drop, that’s one of the few things everyone agrees on. The more optimistic ones predict a faster recovery, the more pessimistic ones don’t see that happening for many years. Even from an objective perspective a country leaving a larger trading block will obviously try to have a competitive currency. So yes, expect to pay more for things, local and imported.
Personally, I would also look into putting some savings into precious metals and even some foreign currency.  A bit of silver and gold bought from a reputable dealer. With the Pound going down in value, money that you have just sitting or isnt well invested will depreciate considerably.

Keep calm and carry… that’s it.

And carry. If you can’t carry a gun carry a knife and if all you can carry is a non-locking sub 3 inch blade then carry that. The Spyderco UK legal Pen Knife is at least a sharp edge. Carry a flashlight too. Carry a first aid kit in your bag.

Its UK, you can carry a sturdy pointy umbrella too and no one will bat an eye… I suggest this one, the Unbreakable Walking-Stick Umbrella.

As for keeping calm, that’s always a good idea, especially during trying times. Now truth be told, the motivational phrase was suited for the mass getting bombed during WWII but keep clam and just carry on sounds a LOT like resignation.

No, keep calm but stay informed, know what’s good for you and your best interest. Brexit is a milestone that does not affect all people equally. The 79 year old man that is contemplating kicking the bucket any minute is not in the same situation as the 20 year old about to get his diploma and considering further education or working abroad.

Dont be fooled. Some people will benefit from Brexit and others will suffer it. Know which one you are and act accordingly.

I believe that people that just keep calm and carry on are in denial. In my experience they can also be described as easy targets and they often end up being just that. My approach to dealing with hard times is considerably different, and I share that in my first book “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse”.

Keep calm but don’t drop your guard, stay aware and be proactive. Take your family’s safety and well-being into your own hands.

Buy a gun

Yes, its perfectly legal, so why not?

If the great zombie knife ban of 2018 is an indication of things to come then gun laws are not likely to get any better. Granted, even if you get your shotgun certificate nothing is stopping the authorities from revoking it and forcing you to surrender it eventually if made illegal. But I always like my chances better when I do own a gun, especially when crime is going up, money invested in police is going down and there’s a chance of civil unrest. A pump or reliable semi auto shotgun is what I would be going for when a good handgun or semiauto rifle isn’t an option. Don’t forget to buy ammo for it. Ammo doesn’t go bad, you eventually shoot it anyway and without it the gun is just a poor club.

You don’t like guns, think they are icky? That’s nice, but then don’t go around expecting someone with a gun to show up and save you.
Good luck!

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”

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Survival Cooking: Lentil and rice… Burger?

Remember that stockpile of rice and beans and lentils you have set aside for SHTF, the one you’re supposed to be eating already because a) you store what you eat b) its actually good for you?
Well, there’s yet another way of cooking it. God, I love how versatile this stuff is. Stews, salads, soups and now you can add burgers. Just scoop some leftover lentil and rice stew. Wait until it cools down or just keep it in the fridge from a previous meal. Form a patty with it and just heat it in a pan with a couple drops of oil. It will even get a bit toasty brown from the heat like a real burger.

No, its not as good as an actual beef burger but its surprisingly good, and some ketchup and nice melted cheese will go a long way into tricking your taste buds.
Keep in mind this is made with a dry staple you keep in your pantry, not fresh ground beef. Remember that burger scene from the movie “Demolition Man”? Exactly. I’ll take a lentil and rice burger over a rat burger any day of the week if SHTF.
It’s a pretty healthy alternative too.
Take care people and give it a go sometime.


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”

Friday, July 20, 2018

Zanflare 28W Solar Panel: Charges you devices very fast!

I was sent this product for reviewing and I must say, it does work very well.
The four large panels convert sunlight effectively and I was easily getting more than 1% battery per minutes in my 3.000 mha phone.  With good sunlight I topped up my phone, from 85% to 100% in about ten minutes. This is the kind of charging speed I get from the original charger plugged to the grid.

Check the video but yes, very neat item and I do recommend it. In fact I wish I had it many times before when the power went out.
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”

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grand Teton National Park: Officials close large area due to massive fissure opening

A fissure has opened up in Grand Teton National Park just 60 miles (100km) from the Yellowstone volcano, prompting officials to immediately shut down the area
Grand Teton National Park officials in Wyoming have closed certain areas to tourists due to a 100-foot crack.

Superintendent David Vela said, “Human safety is our number one priority, and with an abundance of caution we are temporarily closing this area until we can properly assess the situation.”
It’s a “complicated” area to say the least, one we should all keep an eye on.
There’s been some activity close to the Yellowstone Caldera, also known as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. A volcano eruption is serious business. A Supervolcano erupting even more so for obvious reasons.

The fissure is located 60 miles (100km) from the Yellowstone volcano. Although chances of and eruption are low of course the consequences would be pretty terrible.
Keep it in mind if you live in the area, especially downwind.

Sure, everyone thinks the guy with the gas mask is a lunatic until they cant breathe because of the volcanic ash. Remember the rule of the, you cant live 3 minutes without air, rembmer?
Invest in some quality respirators for each family member and some disposable valved N95 folding respirators to keep in kits.

Check out these images from the Saddleworth Moor fire in UK just days ago.

Warning: One woman (pictured left) used a gas mask to go to the shops while others used scarfs to protect their faces 

Check some of our older posts on the topic of volcano eruptions. You may be surprised by how often we have covered such events actually taking place in recent times across the globe.
Stay safe!
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”

Monday, July 16, 2018

5 Reasons to start with IPSC/USPSA practical shooting competition

I shot another match this last Saturday and all I can say is do it. It just reminded me how important it is so as to stay sharp, fast and accurate. Just go and sign up to your nearest IPSC/USPSA and start shooting. 99% of the time it’s a friendly community willing to help a new shooter. Sure you can nitpick about it not being tactical enough or what not but it sure beats NOT shooting. And the speed and accuracy you need to do well there is very real.

1) Spend your time and money wisely, invested in actual training that develops speed and accuracy. Dont waste a box on ammo just "plinking" or some random paper punching. Ammo isnt exactly cheap. Last Saturday I shot a bit over 50 rounds maybe 60 or so. The practice and fun I got out of that doesnt compare to shooting outside competition. If you don’t have money to burn then use the little ammo you can spare in training or competition. Nothing wrong with an afternoon of fun plinking with a 22 with the kids, but just know to tell what’s fun shooting and what actually develops your skills.

2) You don’t need any fancy gear. Your Glock 17 or Glock 19 will do well enough to get started. You dont need a fancy “race” gun an Production is the most fun and most popular division anyway.  For starts and intermediate level your stock Glock is more than enough. Sure, the top guys maybe run CZ or Tanfoglios but a Glock is more than enough until you reach some serious competition level.

3)No one expects you to be John Wick. Take your time, shoot slow and have fun. Safety above all.  Its stupid to hurry if you’re going to have misses and hit "no shoots", slow down, aim. Slowly improve your speed when you start getting small enough groups that allow you to step it up a notch. Competitive shooting will drastically improve your speed and accuracy.

4)Competition adds a level of stress to your shooting you typically do not have when training. This means you learn to shoot under pressure. Train as you expect to fight. Keep everything as similar as possible. Gun, carry position, clothes. If you do this to practice for real self defense scenarios then maybe you wont be as competitive as you would if you made certain changes. You have to make up your mind if you care more about winning (and using a gun you don’t actually carry) or you care about realistic training.

5)Great opportunity to meet like-minded people.  It’s not a waste of time, even if you shoot less than 2 minutes the entire morning. You will be hard pressed finding a place with better chances of meeting people with common interests. It’s been true for me in four different countries where I've shot so far.

Go, sign up and start shooting!

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”

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

In Venezuela a single can of tuna is worth 250.000 gallons of gasoline

No, that wasn’t a typo. That's exactly what I said.

In Venezuela, a can of tuna is worth 1.000.000 liters of gasoline.

1 tuna can = 6.400.000 bolivares =  1,87 USD = 1.066.667 liters of 95 octane gas.
Yet the minimum monthly wage is 5.196.000 bolivares, ... not enough for a can of tuna.
The insanity of Maduro means that in Venezuela,  gasoline is pretty much free, certainly far more expensive than water. But on the other hand everything else costs a fortune.

And its not just food. As I posted before, people in Venezuela called Garimpeiros dive into the sewers looking for the smallest bit of precious metal lost down the drain, maybe a bit of silver or even gold. The smallest piece of precious metal is worth a fortune to them.
Think about that next time you stock up an extra case of tuna, box of ammo or a few bucks worth of silver.

 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”

Monday, July 9, 2018

Mom shoots carjacker, home owner shoots two burglars.

A mother shot a man in the face after the suspect jumped into her car while her two kids were sitting in the vehicle, police said.

Two stories made headlines these last couple days, illustrating perfectly why we prepare and the importance of being armed and aware, both home and when out and about.
In the first incident a Texas mom shot a carjacker that took off in her car with her children age 2 and 4 still inside. As she was paying for gas in a Shell station Ricky Wright, 36, attempted to steal her vehicle. She jumped into the backseat and when he refused to get off she reached over the armrest to the glove compartment, grabbed her gun and shot him in the face. Wright crashed the vehicle and was later arrest.

Lessons Learned: Brave mom and it worked out ok all things considered… but what if?
What if she was shot when reaching for the gun? Better to carry concealed instead. What if she had carried with an empty chamber? Did she have enough time to reach for the gun, chamber a round and THEN shoot the bad guy? What about awareness? What about leaving your car with the keys in while your kids are still inside in a gas station?

Property owner in Chilton County, AL shoots two burglars as they attempting to remove a vehicle believed to contain items taken during the burglary. The men where brothers identified as Darryl Lee Price, 54, and William Arlond Price, 56. Both men were shot by the property owner and were dead when deputies arrived.
This is why we prepare guys. These two happen in the last 3 or 4 days. The truth is it may not happen to you, but stuff like this happens everyday.
Take care.

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”

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

7 Summer EDC Essentials

I hope everyone is having a great day!
With the nice warm weather EDC changes a bit. Here’s some stuff I find myself using a lot these days.

5.11 Taclite shorts

I have some of the old lot of 5.11, canvas 100% cotton. They are falling apart so it was time to get new ones. These are a cotton/nylon blend which is far more durable.
They are comfortable, don’t look half bad with good shoes and a neat tshirt or polo and they have the exact same configuration as your standard 5.11 taclite pants. Pockets for all your EDC and then some. Spare magazine pouch upfront and you can through a couple rifle mags or 20 12ga shells in each back pocket if needed.

Glock Hat
GLOCK Perfection OEM Unstructured Chino Hat OD Green AS10005
Much needed to keep the sun from your face and head.
I’ve used this Glock hat for a few years now. At this point I feel that although it does contradict my main philosophy of “gray man” wardrobe, I did notice a couple things. First, I LIKE wearing it. That’s always important. Second, and this you only notice after wearing it for some time, is that while I got zero negative comments or even weird looks, I did get a few “cool hat bro” approving nods and thumbs up from people in the know. Not everyone knows what Glock Perfection means and those that do will most likely be gun people.

Seiko Orange Monster

I love the Seiko Monster series. They are true diver watches. Big, built like a tank and just look solid, like a piece of stainless machinery. Although my standard go to watch is still the Protrek PRG 250T, I do wear this one a good bit during the summer. The orange dial looks amazing and the pics don’t do it justice.

Leatherman Charge Tti
This one is with me year round but just a reminder. The Leatherman Charge Tti is such a fantastic tool and has served me so well over the years. My most used EDC tool, hands down. Its been with me many summers, many beaches and it has been a trusted companion. A minimum amount of care, a couple drops of oil and it handles a trip to the beach perfectly well.
WileyX Valor
Wiley X Valor Ops Sunglasses, Grey/Black, Polarized Smoke Grey
I somewhat recently updated my shades to these polarized Valor, retiring my much loved WileyX Revlovr. Let me tell you, if you haven’t tried polarized eyewear yet, do it. The difference is very much noticeable and worth every penny.

LG G6 H870 32GB Black, 5.7", Single Sim, 4GB RAM, GSM Unlocked International Model, No Warranty
People sometimes ask about a good phone that doesn’t cost a fortune and fits the requirements for people with a survival and preparedness mentality. To me that means toughness and waterproofing, without sacrificing what a smartphone is supposed to be.

Sure, there are specific “rugged” phones, but you give up having the performance of flagship models in terms of camera, display and other features. Not with the LG G6.
My previous phone was a Note 2 which I kept in an Otterbox defender case. Tough as nails but not waterproof and dorky as hell with the large case carried in the belt.
I keep my LG G6 in a Spigen Tough Armor case, added a Spigen screen protector and that was it. Its resistant enough, IP68-rated for water and dust-resistance (the Iphone X is only IP67)
IP67 means the unit can be dropped into a body of water up to a meter deep for half an hour, while IP68 guarantees protection in water up to 30 meters deep for the same period of time. Both are resistant to dust.
Its still a big 5.7” display but thanks to having no front button (centered in the back, like they all should be) and 18:9 ratio, it slips perfectly into my jeans pocket.

Salomon Ultra shoes
I have a couple of Salomon Quest 4D boots which I use all the time but they are a bit bulky for summer.
The Salomon X Ultra are comfortable, light trekking shoes. Surprisingly durable too, unlike my last pair of Merrells that fell apart in a couple months.
So, do you have anything in your EDC that changes depending on the season or weather?
Let me know in the comments below.
Take care!
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”