Day 274: Survival Preparation. GPS and Maps: Tasks 15


Do you have a physical road map in your car?

A key step in conducting an Area Study is to have maps. Actual, physical maps. We are a society that is overly reliant on technology in many ways. Cell phones for communication are one. GPS for navigating is another.

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. A basic understanding of GPS is useful so we understand what it can and can’t do.

Let’s get a little geeky. The GPS receiver gets a signal from each satellite with the exact time it is sent. By subtracting the time the signal was sent from the time it was received the GPS receiver can calculate how far it is from the satellite. The receiver knows where the satellite is in orbit so it has a fix on that satellite. For our GPS receiver to work it needs to make contact and get a fix with at least 3 GPS satellites for a two dimensional fix (latitude and longitude) and 4 satellites for a three dimensional fix (adding in elevation). If you are only getting 3 satellites and aren’t at sea level, your actual location could be different from what the GPS is showing. If you’re up at a high altitude in the mountains, this can become significant. Usually, though, this isn’t a problem. Of the 31 active GPS satellites, there are usually 6 in range from most places on the Earth’s surface.

Ever notice that it takes your GPS varying amounts of time to get a fix? If the GPS hasn’t been on recently it could take as long as 30 seconds. Tall buildings or other obstructions can also make it take longer. Most GPS accuracy is to within 5 meters.

Cellphone GPS units act a bit differently incorporating Assisted-GPS to get a fix quickly. They use cell phone tower data to assist. Sometimes they can give you a fix without even accessing satellites. This only works though it you are in cellphone and Wifi coverage.

Another thing to consider is whether the map coverage you’re using is in your device’s memory or downloading. Ever have the GPS map become blank when you’re out of coverage? We should always download our local area tiles for whatever mapping GPS we use. When I plan trips, I download the map tiles into memory for the route and destination. This allows the GPS to work faster and gives me a map even if I can’t download it live. For your vehicle’s GPS, are the maps you’re using in the memory or downloading? Put them in the memory.

I’ve noticed when biking and using GPS that every so often it will tell me it has lost the signal. Some of these ‘dead spots’ are the same, but others seem random. Which brings me to this significant point: you can’t count on GPS!

There are other problems with GPS:

They need the satellites working. EMP—electro-magnetic pulse, whether natural (solar flare) or man-made (nuclear weapon) can wipe those satellites out.

The GPS receiver, whether in your vehicle, a cell phone or handheld GPS receiver, requires power to work. Cell phones and batteries can die. Commercial airplanes are required to have backup navigation to GPS. Just in case. We need to do the same.

Sadly, many people no longer carry paper maps in their car. Beyond that, many don’t know how to read a road map, never mind a topographical one.

When I was a brand new butter-bar second lieutenant in the First Cavalry Division, I was told succinctly that a platoon leader had to do two things well: Maintain communications on the radio and navigate. Failing either of those two and your time as leader was limited and your career in the Army over.

In a survival situation, especially moderate to extreme, it is highly likely you will have to move from point A to point B. It also possible you won’t have a GPS to do that with.

Have a road map as a backup. I keep a Rand McNally binder with maps of North America inside my Jeep. It gets used so much (even when I have GPS because I like to wander) that I buy a new one every year because a few heavily perused pages get worn out and torn, not that I’m blaming Cool Gus (my yellow Lab) who sometimes sits on it in the passenger seat, but I’m blaming Cool Gus.

While Rand McNally is great for your car, get topographic maps of your locale. The scale you want for local area is 1:24,000. You can download and print out maps at this scale for free from the sites below. You can also buy a large map book of your state with topographic maps.

For the National Geographic maps it’s pretty cool because you can download the maps in sets of five where the first is an overview of the quadrant, then the other four are printer sized. Print out in color!

You can also get maps from USGS. These maps allow you to pick the details you want. You can get different scales. 7.5 minute is 1:24,000. Which means one inch on the map equals 24,000 inches on the ground or 2000 feet. 15 minutes is 1:63,360.

Task Fifteen

Mild: GPS/Map Checklist

Get a road atlas for each car

Rand McNally Road Atlas.

National Geographic Maps:

USGS Maps:

Get a waterproof map case to put your topo maps in, with dummy cord.

Waterproof map case.

Get a topographic atlas of your State

DeLorme Tennessee Atlas & Gazetteer:

Download the map tiles for your area of operation for your car GPS (if possible), your phone, and handheld GPS (if used).

The topographic maps should include your immediate area. If you believe you are going to have to evacuate, get maps covering the route and your BOHS. Then get a waterproof map case.

Get a dummy cord (a piece of 550 cord works fine) to tie the map off to you. The one above already comes with a cord. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many times that dummy cord kept me from being stupid and losing my map. In fact, tie off all important items. I clip my Jeep key to the loop on my pants every time I get out of it when I’m out in the wilderness. I don’t trust putting things in my pockets.

You can order laminated, waterproofed maps, but they are more difficult to carry because of limited folding. This is a judgment call on your part. I prefer the paper map inside of a waterproof map case. For geeks, you can get a pocket protector and alcohol pens to write on the case and the special eraser for the writing when you’re done drawing and then . . .

You can order topographic maps by states. I keep this in my Jeep to back up my road map. You can also go to your local camping store or local bookstore and you should be able to get the pertinent sets of maps. I also own maps of National Forests and National Parks I visit.

There are numerous navigation apps. Google Maps is familiar to almost everyone. There are several topo map Apps you can get. I’ve used a number over the years but the best one I’ve found is Gaia. The basic app is free and then there are two levels of membership.  The premium, which is discounted 20% via my affiliate link, (donated to Special Operations Warrior Foundation) is $32 for a year but for the number and types of maps you get, it is definitely worth it. One useful thing to using any map app is to download the map tiles you want to use beforehand (when you’re out in the wilds with no signal) and you learn how to use the app.


Gaia also sends interesting email updates on various outdoor activities that are very informative from outdoor experts.

Land Navigation is covered in Survival.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed about the Area Study? Here’s the easy way to do it. Start from your house. Then move outwards. Do the same with your work. Look at the route from home to work/school. And your Emergency Rally Point. And BOHS. A lot of the information will overlap.

Check one thing at a time. Write down your observations. You’ll be surprised at the amount of information you end up with and how much wiser and mentally prepared you will be than you were. Make sure you ‘disseminate the information’ to your A-Team. Actually, what’s best is if you break down the Area Study and have different members of the team do different parts. Then brief each other. This can be an enlightening and fun exercise.

Once you have the Area Study done, adjust your planning and preparedness to fit the order of likelihood of emergencies and disasters. I cover emergency route planning, which is critical in the Preparation Guide.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide

Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide.

What Cascade Events/Misconceptions Led To Pearl Harbor?

Pearl Harbor

This is excerpted from The Green Beret Guide to Seven Great Disasters II which is free today, 7 December.

Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.” Admiral Yamamoto, Commander Japanese Navy. (Note that this quote was used extensively for propaganda purposes by the United States by leaving out the last sentence)

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a disaster for both the attackers and those attacked. While a tactical victory for the Japanese, it ultimately led to a strategic defeat. Thus, we have to look at the cascade events for Pearl Harbor from both sides; seeing how they played against each other and why it turned out badly for both parties.

What the Japanese hoped would be a ‘knockout blow’ against the United States turned out to be something very different. And the pride of the US Navy was savaged in an attack that had a result beyond the worst nightmares of most military planners.

In this disaster, we have to do an action-reaction series of cascade events, with both sides making the events of 7 December 1941 almost inevitable. And we have to look at strategic (big picture) and tactical events.


At 7:55 am, local time, 7 December 1941, the Japanese began an aerial assault on Pearl Harbor and other military targets (airfields) on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.

After an assault of 2 hours and 20 minutes, the attack was over. Eighteen ships were sunk, 2,400 Americans were killed, and 1,200 were wounded. Over 300 aircraft were destroyed.

9 February 1904: Japanese destroyers launch a surprise attack on the Russian Far East Fleet at Port Arthur, crippling the Russians. They had not been at war. They were now.

July 1937: Japan invades China.

December 1937: On the Yangtze River evacuating US Personnel from Nanking, the USS Panay is sunk by Japanese aircraft. Japan claims it was an accident and pays reparations.

July 1940: The United States imposes an oil embargo and sanctions on Japan, directed at stopping their expansion in Asia.

January 1941: Admiral Yamamoto proposes an attack on Pearl Harbor to other officers.

16 November 1941: The first vessels, submarines, depart Japan heading toward Hawaii.

26 November 1941: The main Japanese fleet departs Japan for Hawaii.

7 Dec 1941: The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and other military targets in Hawaii.

8 December 1941: President Roosevelt asks Congress for a declaration of war against Japan. The United States enters World War II

The Cascading Events

Cascade One

Political misunderstanding and maneuvers that backfired.

Fueled by Nationalistic goals, the Japanese began to build an empire in the west Pacific. The Japanese expanded their land base and tried to solve its raw material supply dilemma by invading other countries and bringing its import market under its own control. The primary country of immediate concern was China. The Japanese invaded northern China via Manchuria in July 1937.

In response, the United States began economic sanctions against Japan. These escalated to trade embargoes. The goal was to force the Japanese to withdraw. These had the exact opposite effect, causing the Japanese to expand farther in search of the needed raw materials for their empire. When the United States, then an exporter of oil, embargoed that commodity in July 1941, the Japanese felt their hand had been forced.


Carl Von Clausewitz is famous for saying the “War is the continuation of politik by other means.”

The manner in which Japanese and American politicians misjudged each other is matched only by the way Japanese and American military officers misjudged each other.

To perhaps over simplify things, economic sanctions appear an excellent solution in theory, but end up usually hurting both national pride and the citizenry. In this case, the oil embargo particularly inflamed the Japanese military because oil is essential to military operations: ships, planes, tanks, and trucks all run on oil.

On top of this, the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact signed on 13 April 1941, removed a threat to Japan (and vice versa to Russia), allowing Japan to concentrate on the Pacific Theater.

It was obvious to both the United States and Japan they were on a collision course for war. The sinking of the Panay on the Yangtze in 1937 inflamed the American public. While political leaders on both sides continued to talk of desiring peace, both militaries planned for war.

Cascade Two

Military strategic planners in both countries seriously miscalculated each other.

War Plans are developed based on possible scenarios. We had large safes in a secure room with all the war plans for every single A-Team in 10th Special Forces Group, which were all part of larger plans. These were extremely detailed plans down to drop zones, hide sites, etc. etc.

In the 1930s, as tensions escalated between the two countries, staffs drew up plans to counter the other. However, plans are based on estimates of enemy capabilities and possible actions. In a way, each staff plans against the plan they think the other side has.

In both cases, some very serious assumptions were made by the Americans and Japanese.

As a result of the U.S. oil embargo, rather than submit, the Japanese decided to seize the Dutch East Indies and its oil supply. With the war raging in Europe, the Japanese felt the various colonial territories were ripe for the picking except for one problem: the American fleet.

The Japanese believed they needed six months to conquer the East Indies, and therefore needed six months of freedom from the American Navy. Except the American Navy had no plan to interfere right away. In fact, War Plan Orange, initially drawn up in 1911, didn’t call for an immediate response to such aggression. It delineated withholding supplies and reinforcements from west Pacific outposts, primarily the Philippines, and building up naval power on the West Coast and Hawaii until a sufficient force could set sail and engage the Japanese in a decisive surface battle.

This plan, by the way, was based on the theories of Alfred Thayer Mahan, a Naval Academy graduate from the class of 1859. Thayer very much believed, unlike Custer, in the concentration of force. He did not think that the fleet should piecemealed out. Mahan’s writings on Naval strategy were so popular they were required reading not only in the United States Navy, but also that of Germany and Japan. As a sidebar, he also is credited with coming up with the term ‘Middle East’ for that part of the world.

As an update to Plan Orange, which focused on the defense until a powerful fleet could set sail (at least six months and some believed two years), Admiral Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, signed Plan Dog, which outlined a defensive war in the Pacific while the focus was on defeating the Germans in Europe. The Navy’s main goals in the Pacific was to keep the Japanese out of the eastern Pacific and keep supply lines to Australia open. With the blessing of President Roosevelt, Stark also ordered the Pacific Fleet to deploy forward from San Diego to Pearl Harbor as a deterrence. The commander of the Pacific Fleet objected so strongly to this he was replaced.

U.S. war planners assumed that the Japanese would attack the Philippines. Few speculated or even conceived that the Japanese would attempt the long-range strike (4,000 miles), at Pearl Harbor. They believed this not only because the Philippines were closer to Japan, but also because U.S. forces stationed in the Philippines could threaten Japanese lines of communication and supply. No one thought the Japanese had the forces to attack both the Philippines and Hawaii.

What American planners didn’t focus on was the last time Japan took on a major power: in 1904 the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the Russian Fleet at Port Arthur, sinking two battleships and a cruiser. As you can see elsewhere in this book, this attack was part of the destruction of the Russian Navy and a cascade event for the Russian Revolution and the fall of Tsar Alexander.

On the Japanese side, Admiral Yamamoto, while planning for the Pearl Harbor attack, prophesized: “I shall run wild considerably for the first months or a year, but I have utterly no confidence for the second and third years.”


Strategic plans based on false assumptions can lead to disaster.

In book one in this series discussing Custer, I discussed how militaries are always ready to fight the last war. Even in war planning, we often look back for lessons learned, always a smart move, and apply them to our plans. However, sometimes this ignores changes, particularly technological ones.

On the flip side, what the Japanese did to initiate war with Russia in 1904 was ignored as a possibility.

Yamamoto was proved correct as the war in the Pacific changed six months later at the Battle of Midway. This had to do not only with strategic issues, but a key tactical mistake the Japanese made by focusing on battleships. The aircraft carrier did not exist when Mahan was coming up with his theories. Also, submarine warfare was in its infancy. The focus on the battleship by almost every country going into World War II would prove to be so misplaced, that there is not a single battleship deployed in the world any more.

Bottom line:

The United States was wrong in believing that the Philippines would be the primary target (the Philippines were attacked after Pearl Harbor and still weren’t prepared!) and Pearl Harbor was safe from attack.

The Japanese were wrong in believing that the United States would immediately respond to their expansion in the far east.

Cascade Three

Warnings were ignored and/or not given to those who needed to get the warnings.

Once more, this happened on both sides with dire consequences.

On 27 January 1941, 10 months before the actual attack on Pearl Harbor, the Ambassador to Japan wired Washington that he’d discovered the Japanese were planning a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. This is right after Yamamoto proposed the concept.

He wasn’t believed. The key decision makers were convinced that the Philippines would be the object of a Japanese attack, not Pearl Harbor. If anything, this was misdirection.

Some have said that U.S. cryptoanalysis had broken the Japanese Code and deciphered messages about the pending attack on Pearl Harbor. Further research, though, reveals that this might not be true. A project named Magic worked on breaking down Japanese diplomatic codes and had great success until the Japanese went to a machine generated code, much like the German Enigma. No one will ever really know the truth about because even if the code had been broken early enough, the government had to keep this secret in order to have the Japanese keep using the code. One only needs to look at the Coventry bombing to see the horrible Catch-22 of covert operations and code-breaking.

However, U.S. intelligence services were reading a lot of the low-level traffic. The information however, was rarely disseminated to those who might be able to use it.

At least one person on the other side, Admiral Nomura, the Japanese Naval Councilor on the Supreme War Council, reported that the Americans were reading his message traffic.

He was not believed. Curiously, Nomura became the Japanese ambassador to the United States in 1940 and actually pushed for a conciliation between the two countries. His entreaties to his own government were rejected.

The bottom line was that there were enough messages, warnings, and far-sighted people on both sides to realize something was about to happen.


Enough red flags were raised that while it was believed war was inevitable, the exact way the war would start was uncertain.

Of course, it’s easy in retrospect to cherry pick certain warnings. We have to accept there were probably numerous other warnings of potential events that never played out.

Going with the concept of the 10th Man, the possibility of an attack on Pearl Harbor should have been given serious consideration. Both the Army and the Navy commanders in Hawaii were relieved of command after the attack. Each needed an officer on their staff working on possibilities beyond those expected to unfurl in War Plan Orange; especially if the Japanese didn’t operate according to script.

Cascade Four

Tactical considerations worked both ways.

The Japanese also followed Mahan’s teachings. Their goal for the attack was to cripple the American Pacific Fleet. To that end, they focused on sinking the ships of the line: battleships. What’s odd about this, is that they planned on doing it with their aircraft carriers, not their own battleships.

Thus, while they saw the power of the airborne assault on ships, they didn’t see their own vulnerability to it. If they had, they would have focused more on destroying the American aircraft carriers, which weren’t present in Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack.

Due to operational and maintenance requirements, no carrier was present on December 7th. The Enterprise had just delivered planes to Wake Island and was returning. On Sunday morning the Enterprise, and its Task Force, was 215 miles west of Oahu. Interestingly, the Japanese chose to approach Hawaii from the north, otherwise there is a chance the Enterprise might have spotted the enemy fleet.

Lexington was en route to Midway Island to deliver aircraft. On Sunday morning it, and its Task Force, was 500 miles southeast of Midway.

Saratoga had just completed overhaul at Puget Sound Navy Yard and was arriving in San Diego to pick up her air group before departing for Pearl Harbor.

Yorktown and Wasp were in the Atlantic. The Hornet was carrying out her shakedown cruise.

Thus, even though the bulk of the American fleet lay in ruin on the evening of December 7th, the ships that would turn the tide of the war within a year were all unscathed.

On the American side, a serious tactical miscalculation was that it was accepted that the anchorage at Pearl Harbor was too shallow for a torpedo attack from the air. With current technology, this was correct. An airdropped torpedo tended to hit the water nose first (due to the weight of the warhead), plunge down to around 45 feet, then level out, and rise up to running depth of 13 to 20 feet below the surface.

Pearly Harbor is 30 feet deep except in shipping channels, which go down to 45 feet. Thus, the Navy felt confident that this danger of a torpedo attack wasn’t something to consider. However, this ignored the fact that the British Royal Navy had modified some of their torpedoes and attacked Italian harbors as shallow as 24 feet. While the Navy Department had this information five months before Pearl Harbor was attacked, they never forwarded it to Admiral Kimmel at Pearl Harbor.

Torpedoes did the majority of damage to ships in the harbor on December 7th.

However, there is a flip side to this that the Japanese didn’t fully appreciate. They ‘sank’ eight battleships, but because the ships went down in the relatively shallow water, six of them were returned to service. Only the Arizona and the Oklahoma were complete losses.

Aircraft were a secondary target. Even with all the fear of war, the greater perceived threat was sabotage. Aircraft were parked wingtip to wingtip so they could be better guarded. This made them perfect targets for Japanese aircraft. The navy had 92 aircraft destroyed and 31 damaged. The army had 77 destroyed and 128 damaged.

On the negative side for the Japanese, their focus on destroying battleships and aircraft meant they didn’t make the island’s infrastructure a priority. This is understandable because the objective of the attack was a short-term gain. In terms of a long war, though, not destroying port facilities, fuel storage depots, docks and shipyards meant that Pearl Harbor could be back in action relatively quickly. Not only back in action, but able to repair much of the damage caused to the ships in a surprisingly short amount of time.


Tactical plans need to be made for the most likely threat and then be updated as technology changes.

Everyone had acceptable reasons for making the decisions they did and subsequent actions. Hindsight allows us to see the errors. But this also helps us to see the type of thinking that led to poor tactical decisions.

In some cases, it was lack of information: the fact the British had conducted successful torpedo attacks in shallow water was one such piece of information.

For others, it was lack of point of view: the fact the Japanese were counting on their carriers to carry off this daring plan to destroy battleships should have made them realize that carriers were going to be pre-eminent in the coming war. If they had sunk even just the Enterprise and the Lexington, it would have changed the course of the war significantly, as both played key roles seven months later at the Battles of the Coral Sea and Enterprise at Midway.  (Curiously, the Lexington and her sister ship, Saratoga, had conducted naval exercises employing surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor before the war:  successfully).

The Japanese focus on short-term tactical gain to the detriment of long-term strategic gain was evident not just in the lack of infrastructure destruction but also in the attack itself. If they had destroyed the oil storage facilities at Pearl Harbor, they would have set back the US war effort for a much longer period than the sinking of the battleships.

Cascade Five

New technology was not used correctly.

While the shallow torpedo was new technology and employed effectively by the Japanese, the Americans had a piece of technology that, while it worked properly, was not utilized correctly: radar.

Radar is coined from the term ‘radio detection and ranging’ and in 1941, a number of countries were experimenting with it. Not only was the United States working on radar, the Army and the Navy were working on it separately, not necessarily a good thing.

The Navy put its first working system, which could detect planes up to one hundred miles, in the battleship New York in 1939. It was tested and more systems were ordered. One was placed in the USS California, which, on December 7th, was anchored at Pearl Harbor.

With its radar off.

The California was one of the battleships sunk.

The Army developed two systems, one mobile and one fixed. They deployed the first six mobile radar sets to Oahu, indicating someone thought the island might need early warning against aircraft. They were spaced around the island, with one on the north end, set in a mountain range at an altitude of 532 above sea level with a clear view of the ocean at Opana Point.

At 7:02 on December 7th, the two privates operating the set picked up a flight of aircraft 136 miles due north. First, it’s amazing the set worked that well. Second, as anyone who has served will tell, it’s great that two privates in an isolated post like that, were standing to their task so diligently. They called it in to the “Intercept Center.” They’d never seen a target reading so large and since they were still in training, they failed to rely that information.

A lieutenant took the report and assumed it was a flight of six B-17 bombers that were due in from the mainland. These planes were to land to rest and refuel, en route to the Philippines. The vector on which the target was approaching was almost exactly the route the B-17s would be on. He didn’t pass the warning on.


Having safety and alert protocols and equipment in place are only useful if they are used.

If the radar reading had been interpreted correctly and acted on appropriately, the military would have had 50 minutes to react. Not much time, but enough that at least the sailors on the ships in Pearl Harbor would have stood to and many not caught in their bunks as bombs fell. Some of the ships might have been able to get underway, although that had a negative possibility if one of them was sunk the channel (the Nevada, after getting underway and struck again, was beached to prevent such a thing happening) or got out of the harbor into deeper water and sunk where it couldn’t be salvaged.

Nevertheless, it is tempting to wonder what would have happened if that lieutenant had sounded the warning with urgency. Are your junior personnel who have potentially critical roles trained to raise the alarm? Are false alarms, sounded with legitimate concern, not only tolerated, but praised?

In the same vein, are those who report potential Cascade events rewarded, even though no disaster occurred? I liken this to the old dog whose house has never been robbed. Is he or she praised as much as they would be castigated if they’d not raised the alarm if a burglar had tried to get in? We often take safety for granted, but it’s a mindset and attitude that requires positive energy to be sustained.

It wasn’t just the radar report being ignored. The first shots at Pearl Harbor were actually fired by Americans, not the Japanese. The USS Ward, on patrol outside the entrance to the harbor, detected a submarine trying to infiltrate. It was crewed by Naval Reservists from St. Paul, Minnesota and the young lieutenant had only been in command for a day. At 0635, over an hour before the first Japanese planes attacked, a lookout spotted the wake of a submarine. The crew went to general quarters. It attacked the target and sunk it. The commander radioed a report in at 0653: “Attacked, fired upon, depth bombed, and sunk submarine operating in the defensive sea area.” This was fifty-nine minutes before the first enemy planes would appear.

One would think such a startling report would have caused everyone to spring to action. Instead, it was discounted at all levels. It finally reached Admiral Kimmel seven minutes before the first bombs fell. The Navy was so indifferent to the Ward’s report, that is never officially acknowledged until 2002 when deep-sea researchers found a sunken Japanese midget sub exactly where the Ward had reported engaging it; with damage at the base of the conning tower where the crew of the Ward had reported hitting it with their 3’ gun.

Again, one wonders what might have resulted if this report of first contact with the enemy had been believed and the alert sounded?

Cascade Six

Timing is everything.

Much like the Sultana explosion occurred in the middle of the night, Pearl Harbor occurred at the worst time of the week for a peacetime military unit: Sunday morning. The slowest time on any military post whether it be Army, Navy or Air Force, is Sunday morning. Many soldier and sailors were resting after a night on the town.

This, of course, was not by chance.

In any organization or technology there is a time when things are most vulnerable. It is normally the time when the people using the technology or in the organization are the most relaxed.

For the military, an axiom is to always be prepared at the time the enemy expects you to be least prepared. It’s called “stand to” in Infantry units; being ready at that time prior to dawn when we are usually the least prepared for attack.

Looking at some of the disasters covered in these first two books, let’s check the timing of the Final Event:

Pearl Harbor: 7:52 am on a Sunday morning.

Titanic: 11:40 pm to 2:20 am

Sultana: 2:00 am

Texas Schoolhouse Explosion: scant minutes before school let out


Bad things rarely happen at opportune times. As part of our Area Study, we need to factor this in. When are you, and your organization, most vulnerable to disruption?

Final Event

At 7:48 am on December 7th, 1941, the Japanese Empire conducted a surprise assault on the island of Oahu, primarily focused on the American Pacific Fleet in the harbor, with a secondary objective of destroying military aircraft at outlying bases.

The final tally was:

Navy: 2,009 KIA; 710 wounded.

Army: 218 KIA; 364 wounded.

Marines: 109 KIA; 69 wounded.

Civilians: 68 killed; 35 wounded.


Navy: 92 destroyed; 31 damaged.

Army Air Corps (there was no separate Air Force branch at the time): 77 destroyed; 128 damaged.


Battleships: 2 destroyed; 6 damaged.

Cruisers: 0 destroyed; 3 damaged.

Destroyers: 0 destroyed, 3 damaged.

Auxiliaries: 1 destroyed, 4 damaged.

The United States came back from the devastation of the Pearl Harbor attack even faster than Admiral Yamamoto had feared. At the Battle of the Coral Sea, 7-8 May 1942, the Navy stopped the Japanese from advancing (although the Lexington was sunk). At the Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942, the U.S. Navy delivered a devastating blow, sinking four Japanese carriers and turning the tide of the war.


The attack had mixed results, but not for those killed or injured. Either side might have avoided a disaster if they had focused more on the reality of the situation and not the assumptions each made about the other.

While the United States made numerous misjudgments and mistakes, the larger failure falls upon Japanese shoulders in the long term. Not only did the U.S. military recover quickly, but also the emotional response of Americans to a ‘sneak attack’ galvanized the country and unleashed a powerful force that would crush Japan in less than four years.

When thinking about the CARVER formula from the end of the book, remember that the E stands for Effect. For every action we take, we must consider the long-term effect.

This is excerpted from The Green Beret Guide to Seven Great Disasters II which is free today, 7 December.

Day 271: Survival Preparation Area Study Continued: Tasks 12, 13, 14

Survival Guide

Let’s resume our preparation Tasks.

To recap, you already have your emergency supply of water and you’ve made your home safer. This makes sense since we spend the majority of our time there.

Now we expand outward to our immediate Area of Operations. This really starts to tighten things down for your Area Study and for your preparation that will soon be doing, especially as fear as skills and gear needed.

Area of Operations (AO) is a fancy way of saying the area around your home, your work, your school, etc. At HomeFacts you will get a listing of the following which will help: crime rate, environmental hazards, crime stats, drug labs, air quality, radon, UV index, brownfields, registered polluters, tanks and spills, average monthly temperatures, probability of earthquakes, hail, hurricanes and tornadoes; closest airports, FCC towers, fire stations, hospitals and police stations.

Task Twelve

Go to Homefacts and enter your zip code.

Task Thirteen

Mild: Of the four type of special environments, which ones do you need to be concerned with in order of priority:

Cold Weather, Desert, Tropical and Water?

Here is a partial list of natural disasters:

Tornado, Hurricane, Heat Wave, Drought, Wildfire, Blizzard, Earthquake, Tsunami, Volcano, Mud/Landslide, Flooding, Tidal Surge.

Below is a partial list of man-made disasters. While some of them are truly accidents and can’t be anticipated, others might have a higher likelihood depending on where you live such as a dam failure or industrial accident. Some also depend on your lifestyle, such as where you work or whether you own firearms.

Car accident, boat/ferry accident, train/subway accident, tall building evacuation, fire, power outage, burglary, robbery, carjacking, civil unrests/riots, terrorist attack, active shooter, firearms accidents, nuclear power plant accident, nuclear weapons, dam failure, biological weapons and infectious diseases, chemical weapons/accident, industrial accident.

Are your power lines buried? What industries are in your area? What are you downwind, downstream of? What toxic materials and/or gases would be emitted if there was an accident? Where is the closest nuclear power plant or storage area? Are there labs in your area that work with dangerous biological agents? What about the local university? Are you in the flood zone of a dam breaking? What rails lines are near you? What is being transported on those lines? Is toxic material being carried? If a train derails and that material is released, what should you do? Under survival, the proper response for a chemical agent is covered—your first instinct to run is usually the wrong one! The same is true for evaluating potential problems on waterways and roads.

Where is your hundred year flood line? You can use the FEMA flood map search to determine this by entering your address:

Also, note that recent surveys indicate flood data is changing rapidly. Here is the link to an article indicating where things are changing updated in 2020:

This is becoming more and more important!

Task Fourteen

Mild: Natural and Man-made disasters in order of likelihood in your AO

Natural Disasters in your area in order of likelihood?




         Man-made disasters in order of likelihood in your AO






By doing this task, we can now focus on what is important for your specific situation in this manual.

As a side note, both survival guides make excellent and thoughtful holiday gifts. Especially given current events.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide

Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide.

1 Dec: Free & Discounted books; A Great Xmas Gift; First Vidcast

Welcome to the Thanksgiving to Christmas stretch. This year it will be a hard time and we all need to be safe. It’s a good time to curl up and read some books.
Today, Area 51: Interstellar is free. The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide is only .99 through 4 December. The Nightstalker books, Nightstalkers, Book of Truths, The Rift and Time Patrol are all only .99 all of December.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful stocking stuffer, The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide is perfect.

I’m working on the next Will Kane book, No Quarter as well as a sequel to Agnes and the Hitman which is tentatively titled Shane and the Red Wedding. More on that as I get into the home stretch of having a draft done early next year.

I’m also doing vidcasts with slides of various topics. My first one is about Why Prepare, is on Youtube, and is an appropriate topic as we go into the new year and we look forward to rebooting everything.

Please stay safe and wear a mask. It truly does work!

Day 263: 2020 Pandemic. An Utter Lack of Leadership and Personal Responsibility

Only 2 of 50 states are not in red condition for COVID-19.

We’ve had almost a complete year to deal with this virus and have failed completely. We’ve worse than failed. Many Americans, including key leaders, still insist there is no real problem. The deadliest place on the planet for COVID right now is South Dakota whose governor still insists that masks are intrusive and nothing should be locked down.

We’re still short PPE. Seriously. Looking up the definition of negligent homicide, there is no doubt that starting from the top and moving down, there are numerous people in this administration who would be found guilty by any reasonable jury. 2,000 Americans die a day and the President golfs and undermines the pillars of democracy with ludicrous claims of election fraud. In case anyone forgot he claimed the election in 2016 was a fraud—until he won it.

I saw someone complaining on social media how mandates are restrictive and tyranny and I wondered if they felt the same way about speed limits? Even the Pope disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling on religious gatherings.

We will soon be seeing 3,000 die a day—an entire 9-11 every single day. The vaccine might start rolling out in mid-December but we will not see enough vaccinations for at least six months to make a difference. Hospitals are at the breaking point and we will see heart-breaking triages in December and January as we get hit with the Thanksgiving surge. People are dying because they wanted to out to a bar. Right now. In the time you took to read this, a couple of people have died and those deaths were most likely preventable.

Once more: wear a mask. Stay away from crowded places, especially indoors. Get take out if you need to have restaurant food.

Stay safe!

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide makes an excellent stocking stuffer and could save someone’s life.

Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide.

Day 258: 2020 Pandemic. Preparation and Survival Task #9, 10 and 11. Continue Your Area Study: Your Home, Drowning, Fire Prevention and Firearm Safety.

I’m putting these three together. They seem common sense, but then again. I’ll discuss fire further on in more detail.

Task Nine

Mild: Drowning Prevention Checklist

Always monitor young children when bathing.

Insure your dishwasher and washing machine are off when done.

Never leave water running when you’re not watching it. This is not only for injuries but for home damage (speaking from experience).

Don’t use electronics around water, especially the bath.

Keep toilet lids closed.

Pools should be completely enclosed with at least a four-foot high fence and childproof gate.

Never allow children in a pool unsupervised.

Task Ten

Mild: Fire Prevention Checklist

Smoke detectors in every bedroom

Smoke detector on every floor

Test smoke detectors every month

Replace smoke detector batteries every six months

Never leave the kitchen while the stove is on

Never leave candles burning overnight or when not home

Task Eleven

Mild: Firearm Prevention Checklist

All firearms must be secured in a locked area

Locked trigger guards on all firearms

Never leave a loaded firearm unattended

Know and follow all firearms safety rules

Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide.

Day 257: 2020 Pandemic. Preparation and Survival Task #8. Continue Your Area Study: Your Home, Prevent Choking, Suffocation.

Hand in there. We’ll get to the exciting stuff soon enough.

To prevent choking and suffocation

There’s a reason certain toys are designated for certain ages. What a child can put in their mouth, they will put in their mouth.

When putting babies to sleep make sure there is nothing around them that can cause suffocation.

Watch children during meals. Do they know how to chew properly before swallowing? Cut up food for younger children into bite-sized portions. Stay away from hard candy and foods that can obstruct the airway.

Put trash bags and other plastic bags in places where children can’t get to them. The same with the plastic bag that comes back from the dry-cleaners.

Secure batteries, particularly button batteries, from children.

Task Eight

Mild: Choking/Suffocation Prevention Checklist

Keep small toys, items out of reach of toddlers

Clear sleeping areas for babies from all possible items that could smother them

Keep trash bags and plastic bags out of reach of children

Keep batteries, especially button batteries, out of reach of children

Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide.

Day 256: 2020 Pandemic. Preparation and Survival Task #7. Continue Your Area Study: Your Home, Prevent Poisoning.

I know these tasks about the home seem mundane and not as sexy as learning to start a fire with a box and piece of wood, but I emphasize the things you’re more likely to deal with first. The most likely threats.

It is more likely for children to be seriously hurt or killed by ingesting a toxic agent.

To prevent poisoning

Label all unmarked liquid containers. If you wonder what’s in that old plastic jug or bottle, assume it’s poison. NEVER use food or drink containers to store hazardous material.

Store cleaning products safely and out of reach of children.

Store medicines securely and out of reach of children.

Put child proof cabinet locks on all doors within reach of children.

Have the poison control phone number posted in your kitchen and on speed dial on your cell phone. 800-222-1222.

Never mix household cleaning products together. Some don’t like each other and produce toxic gasses, particularly bleach and ammonia.

Never mix medicines together without consulting a doctor or pharmacist. Or call the poison help hotline which is monitored 24 hours a day and they can give you advice: 800-222-1222.

Monitor your heaters and fireplaces for CO2 emissions. Have fireplaces cleaned yearly.

Task Seven

Mild: Poison Prevention Checklist

Post Poison Control # Prominently in kitchen:  800-222-1222

Label all unmarked liquid containers

Insure all cleaning products are stores out of reach of children

Insure all medications are stores out of reach of children and have childproof caps

Never mix medications without approval

Monitor all heaters and fireplaces for CO2

Have fireplaces and chimneys cleaned annually

Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide.

Day 255: 2020 Pandemic. Preparation and Survival Task #6. Continue Your Area Study: Your Home, Part I

When we think survival, we picture someone out in the wilderness in a pine tree lean-to, but we spend most of our time in our home and it’s easy to overlook what we can do to make that environment safer. It is far more likely, in fact a given, that you will experience one of the accidents or emergencies listed in this section.

When I research, I find statistics that are all over the place because people can’t agree on definitions. Once more, those statistics are variables that differ from home to home, so I won’t quote many (those of you with pocket protectors and calculators can google them) but let’s do an Area Study for your home in terms of the most likely areas of concern.

  1. Falls are a leading cause of injury and death. This is more likely based on the previous part of the Area Study: your personal physical condition. Older people, naturally, are more susceptible to falls and getting injured. One in three people, 65 or older, will suffer a fall leading to serious injury, if not death.
  2. Poisoning goes in the opposite direction for susceptibility: it is more likely for children to be seriously hurt or killed by ingesting a toxic agent.
  3. Children are also susceptible to choking, suffocation, drowning and scalding. This includes airway obstruction.
  4. Water leads to drowning. Do you have a pool? Water nearby?
  5. Fires and burns are likely dangers.

To prevent falls

Clear clutter. Pick things up and put them away. How many times have we tripped over something that doesn’t belong on the floor?

Look at your rugs. Are the edges secured? Are folds flattened? Do they slide? Use tape and rug mats underneath to prevent this.

Bathroom: place grab bars and non-slip maps in all bathrooms. The bathroom is very dangerous because water and soap makes things slippery; and if you do fall you’re going to hit something hard like a counter or tile floor. We never land on the fluffy pile of freshly laundered towels, do we?

Lighting: make sure all areas are sufficiently lit, particularly staircases. When we lived in a 100 year old house, a back stairwell didn’t have a light in it. The stairs also turned near the bottom. We bought a number of motion sensor, battery powered lights and put them in that stairwell and all over the house. Often we placed them just as you enter a room, inside the door jam or on the wall, low down. They have been life-savers.

Always wear slippers or shoes with rubber soles. I can attest to the danger of just socks on wooden stairs. Never a good combination.

Make your stairs safe. If you have small children or they visit, become an expert at installing childproof gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Have handrails for all stairs.

Use ladders properly and do not exceed specifications. Always place on solid footing. Have someone hold taller ladders at bottom when in use. Make sure leaning ladders are placed against a solid point.

Task Six

Mild: Fall Prevention Checklist

Clear Clutter

Secure edges of all rugs

Secure rugs to floors so they don’t bunch or slide

Place grab bars and non-slip mats in bathrooms

Make sure all stairways and dark areas are adequately lit

AMIR motion sensor light:

Wear Slippers or shoes with rubber bottoms at all times

Childproof stairs with gates at top and bottom

Do all stairs have handrails?

Use ladders properly according to specifications

Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide.