World War III.

The use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons on a large scale.

A series of local conflicts that disrupt trade and commerce on an international level.

Water shortages. This is one of the most glaring threats to our world. Many places in the world already lack clean water. I predict that wars in the future will not be over oil, but over water.

Climate change. While people debate this, I prefer to deal with the scientific reality that we are damaging our environment and Mother Nature has a way of equalizing things.

A large solar flare that bathes the planet in an EMP pulse that destroys electronics.

A pandemic. One will happen and sooner, rather than later.

A depletion of resources.

Zombies. Which actually is a form of pandemic.

A meteor strike of sufficient size.

A volcanic eruption that spreads enough ash to start the equivalent of a nuclear winter.

Economic disruption that spreads.

Remember that great civilizations have collapsed before. Often it wasn’t a single event, but an accumulation of events. The Mayans, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome, and on and on. While I am not an alarmist, I think we have a reasonably good chance of seeing a major disruption of our way of life in the next thirty years. As they used to say in the old Army, when they had cigarettes in the C-Rations: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Less than that, there are a number of various possibilities. What most people fail to realize is how fragile civilization is and how easily it can break down, with a domino effect that will be shocking.

In researching this, I found many of those addressing this issue are either naïve or gloss over the depth of what will happen. Many dwell on political issues. I’m just going to focus on the practical issues.

While New York and New Jersey struggled to recover from Hurricane Sandy, a friend emailed that they got their power back, and a crew from Alabama had been working in their neighborhood day and night doing this. While this shows the great spirit of America, it occurs to me that that crew would not be there is Alabama needed them. This is key: a large-scale catastrophe that covers most of a continent will preclude aid from inside that continent.


There are stages to surviving an extreme emergency. While a dramatic event might bring it about, it is more likely you will see many signs indicating the collapse is coming. Most people will ignore these signs. The closest I can liken it to is Germany in the 1930s. Many people saw what was coming; the vast majority chose to ignore it. On a much lower level, as the housing market bubbled and boiled in 2006, my wife and I sold our house, against the advice of pretty much everyone. We crunched the numbers and also accepted that things had to change, and not in a good way.

You will see signs of bad things coming. It won’t happen overnight. Severe power outages that don’t get better are another sign.

The key to pre-collapse is, like everything in this book, to prepare. The base level of survival, Grab & Go bags, etc. will not be sufficient. Some preparations can be integrated into your current life as a way of living, such as growing a garden. But you have to start now.

I’m not going to cover the likelihood of various scenarios, because it’s just as likely a random, unexpected event can cause the collapse of civilization as easily as war, peak oil, global warming, etc etc.

The bottom line is it isn’t going to be pretty. You can expect food shortages, fuel shortages, riots, power outages, martial law, war and the complete breakdown of law and order.

And that’s only the first month.

I cannot overemphasize how quickly the veneer of civilization can be stripped away. Some of the ethnic fighting in various places around the world have shown how apparently civilized people can rapidly fall into barbarism. In 10th Special Forces, many of our soldiers were most dismayed by the fighting they saw in the Balkans because those places seemed so much like their own home (Sarajevo hosted the Olympics not long before the war). We tend to think this ‘can’t happen here’ but it can.

Another key to wrap your brain around is that there won’t be any help coming. Once civilization breaks down, there won’t be a reaching out from any remaining pockets. They will be desperate for their own survival. Supermarkets have a three-day supply of food. The world, the entire world, has about a month and a half supply. One of the signs will be panic buying. You don’t want to be caught up in the panic.

On the plus side, you will be amazed how quickly many human beings can adapt to a change in their standard of living. While we will miss our cell phones and lights and supermarkets, we can adapt and evolve.

An extreme emergency requires an extreme mindset. You have to let go of many habits.

So what do you need to do to prepare?

Prioritize your needs based on your area study. The first question is if you can even stay where you are? If you are in a metropolitan area, most likely not. If you live in the suburbs, consider that you will see massive urban flight through your communities. Where can you go? This is taking the concept of the hide site to a whole new level. Since you have now done all your preparations for mild and moderate emergencies it’s time to take it to the next level and prepare for an extreme emergency.

The priorities are the same except on a sustainable, long-term basis: water, food, shelter.

The key word is sustainable. You can stock up a year’s worth of food and have a water source, but that’s not sustainable. Also, a food stock, like any other, is subject to being taken from you.

Here’s a sobering thought: few areas in the United States are locally self-sustaining. Without industrialized food processing, we simply can’t produce enough food to feed our current population level. Think what that means: many people will starve to death. Starving people are desperate people and they will do anything to get food. So your food stock will be like fresh brains to zombies.

Can you live off the land? Do you know how? Do you want to learn how to?

There are things you can stock up on that will be useful. While initially, cash and valuables such as gold coins might have value, when things get desperate enough, other items will become more precious. Weapons and ammunition are two of those. Medical supplies are another. So is food. So is expertise, especially medical.

I’m not going to rehash what’s already been covered in equipment. Look at what has been discussed and then consider it in terms of years of use.


Run for the hills boys!

Not necessarily. Evaluate the situation. If you are not in immediate danger, this is a moment when taking your time is important. Gather as much information as possible, understanding that you will hear conflicting accounts. There will be an effort by those in power to suppress panic.

There were those on 9-11 who evacuated the second tower, and then went back to their offices when given the all clear. I’ve listened to tapes of some of those people on their cell phones, decrying this decision as they were trapped after the second plane hit. Be very leery of those who declare an emergency over. In many emergency situations there are after-effects, whether it be follow-on earthquakes, more bombs set for first responders in a terrorist attack, or others.

How do you know civilization has collapsed? When the infrastructure (electricity, roads, rail, flight) fails and does not appear to be coming back any time soon. Many people will wait for help. Unfortunately, the help will be in the same situation. It’s a question of considering your hide site your new home, or, if untenable, moving until you find a locale where you can develop a self-sustaining community for your team.

Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Strategies for Success.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)

The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also in Kindle Unlimited.