21 February 2013

Operational Security - Guest Post

I was honored that I was able to feature a great writer for a guest post on the blog. I gave liberty with the understanding that I would review the article. I have to say, there was no disappointment. Great article by Plan and Prep. Enjoy!

Until then, 
Use your instincts to survive


Operational Security
Most preppers love to talk about OpSec, “Operational Security”.  At book signings and prepper events whenever a conversation gets started you can pretty much guarantee that this subject is going to come up.  The surprising thing is just how often people will invalidate their own OpSec, usually when talking about OpSec!

At a recent book signing I was talking to a gentleman and his wife that had come in from central Illinois.  They were there to shop and get a copy of my book signed and hopefully to have a little discussion about prepping.  When I asked where they were from the man said “Central Illinois” and the woman interjected “South of <town name>”.  Well, unlike the majority of Americans I am actually familiar with the area so I said “Really?  I have a friend on Pine Crest Rd there” to which the lady replied, “Oh yeah?  We’re further south, off of highway 3, just north of <town 2>”.

At this point the man broke in with questions about bunkers and stored foods and we talked for a few more minutes.  When the discussion came back around to their available resources the man mentioned that his neighbors were real quiet, “dead quiet” as a matter of fact and he and his wife shared a laugh.
The rest of the day that conversation kept coming up in the back of my mind.  I had a very good idea of the layout of the man’s homestead from his descriptions, I knew what kind of truck he drove because he offered that information to me, and I knew roughly where he lived also from his wife’s descriptions.  When I got home I jumped on Google Maps and zoomed over to their town.  After about 5 minutes of searching the map views I had a real good idea of where this couple lived, right down to the satellite photo of his truck in the driveway.

I knew quite a bit about this man’s preps, I knew a good deal about his security and I knew when he wasn’t normally home because he told me where he worked.

Now this couple was having a simple conversation, and a lot of the information they offered was buried in a pile of words and questions that some people wouldn’t pick up on.  Being an ex-cop I hear these details and they just sort of file themselves away so I can call them up later to rebuild the conversation in my head.  It is a skill that some people have and some don’t.

Generalizations Are Good
When you are discussing your preps be general.  You don’t own a Ford F-150, you own a truck.  The truck isn’t Black its “dark colored”, your car isn’t red it’s “bright colored”.  You don’t live on a two-lane blacktop road; you live on “a county road” or “a country road”.  Don’t tell people what town you live near; give a regional description like “central Indiana” or “western Kentucky”.  You don’t have two rivers on either side of your property; you have “localized freshwater resources”.  You don’t live in a large, two story country home with white painted paneling and blue shutters; you live in “an older home, but it’s comfy”.

Details narrow down searches and can make it very easy to locate you if necessary.  If someone knows you live in a small town they can focus their search for you there.  If they know you drive a late model white Ford F-150 pickup truck you have just narrowed down their search dramatically.  Imagine the difference between staking out a busy intersection for “trucks” versus “late model, white, Ford F-150 trucks”.  If the person knows your race or general appearance they could easily find you and recognize you.

Don’t Discuss Security
So many people at my signings want to tell me about their security setup.  They tell me what type of firearms they have, how many, how much ammo and which members of the family are proficient with them.  I have had people tell me about their early warning systems as well as full descriptions of their fail safe plans.  Usually they do this to get to a question, but they feel that I need to know everything about what they have so that I can narrow down some advice that will be useful to them.  Meanwhile a small crowd standing nearby now knows everything about your home security.  Not only that, you have just told a military trained, ex-police officer exactly what he would need to get past to invade your space.  Not a good idea.

Anonymity Rules
Purchasing bulk supplies or even small amounts at regular intervals gets noticed.  Perhaps not to the point of causing trouble, but if you see the same sales people every month for two years they will remember you, and if asked they’ll offer anyone a theory as to why you need all of the stuff you have been buying.  To counter this you need to locate multiple outlets to purchase supplies and ensure you utilize different carriers for delivery, rotating them regularly.  The guy down at the firearms store that feels the same way you do and happens to be a prepper may not be the best guy to talk to about all of your preparations.  Remember, if the time comes when he needs something he will remember where to get it.

Have a Cover Story
Treat your Operational Security like you are a cold war spy.  Develop a secondary personality and identity that you can use when people ask you questions.  Obviously I do NOT mean to get a fake identity or lie to authorities; I am talking about general conversation when people ask you questions.  For instance, I often talk about my family homestead property in Michigan.  Some people at my book signings are from Michigan and ask where it’s at, so I say “Near Mason”.   That will usually quell their curiosity, and I am safe because my homestead is not, “near Mason”.

It’s An “All the Time” Thing
A lot of preppers make their biggest OpSec mistakes outside of their prepping activities.  Telling someone at work about your prepping is as good as advertising it because it becomes a funny story that gets told to spouses over dinner, and then over the phone the next day when the spouse is talking about that “prepper” guy at her husband’s job.  In large cities this isn’t so terrible but in small to mid-size towns that can lead to a lot of people knowing more about you that you would like. 

I am sure most people do this, but please make sure your preps are either put away or hidden when you aren’t actively working with them.  Neighbors stop by, kids bring friends over and sometimes people are just a bit too dang nosey for their own good, so hide those preps and keep them safe.

Another big OpSec fail is when you are practicing your “bug out” procedures.  In order to make it realistic many preppers will wear tactical gear and act in a way that is contrary to the norm.  This gets noticed REAL fast.  Try finding tactical clothing that doesn’t look tactical but still has functionality.  Most of the better tactical clothing companies offer clothing lines that fit these criteria and the prices aren’t too bad.  If you can’t find what you want in the tactical arena try normal work wear; cargo pants, safari shirts, etc.  It isn’t the same as a set of tactical BDU’s but will get you through a bug out drill.  Being un-noticed is a HUGE tactical advantage and will do wonders for your OpSec.  For more info on that, research “Grey Man” tactics and “hiding in plain sight”.  I had an article on my site for a while regarding this, I will repost it later if I can dig it up.

Don’t Be Too Cool
Situations change quickly in life, especially when you are dealing with events that preppers are preparing to weather.  Ensure that you are flexible in all of your planning while still maintaining proper OpSec.  This means having multiple plans, backups and redundancies.  What this also means is that you will probably react much differently than other people around you, which can bring notice onto you.

If the world is reacting in chaotic fashion and you are in the middle of it looking calm and cool then you have a couple of problems.
  1. )      You aren’t worried enough, get your guard up.
  2. )      People will notice your cool head and gravitate to you.

To avoid this you will need to avoid these situations where you are near crowds, which is always a good idea in the first place.  However, if that cannot be avoided then you will need to manufacture a sense of overwhelming fear, on the surface at least, in order to fit in with the crowd.  Keep it in check and make sure that if you have children, they are aware of this and don’t get overly frightened by it.  It shouldn’t be hard to do, just make sure to keep it in check and remember that you are in control of your situation and this is a means to an end.

For more information on this topic and others, please visit my website.
Plan and Prep
“Ready for Anything”

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