Area Study

It Focuses your effort and saves time & money.

Everyone’s situation is different. We’re different individuals. We have different households/situations. We live in different places with varying climate, terrain, and possible natural and man-made disasters. Thus, before we begin to ‘prepare’, we must know what we’re preparing for and what we’re working with.

By doing a good Area Study, you save time and money because you’ve focused on your priorities. You need to know your assets and your threats. You also have to get the right supplies, training, and gear for your specific situation.

In Special Forces, what made us elite was our planning and preparation. The first thing we did when we received a mission packet was conduct an Area Study of the Area of Operations (AO). In the same way, you need to conduct an Area Study of your home, work, and school Areas of Operation.

First, we’ll learn what an Area Study is and why we need it. Then there will be checklists to fill out that will get us started in the right direction. This is only a brief sampling of the more extensive information in The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide, which has been updated as of July 2021.

Area Studies can have non-emergency uses, such as if we’re considering moving to a new place. An Area Study can provide valuable decision-making data.

YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM: What special skills and background do you have? The people on your team? These include medical, construction, problem solving, military, etc. The key is to know what you can and can’t do, and what those around you can and can’t do. These skills include medical, military, gardening, hunting, survival training and experience, pilot, boat operation, camping, weapons, cooking, land navigation, swimming, communication (personal and technical), construction, problem solving, fire starting, knot tying, the list goes on and on. It also includes physical condition of yourself and your team members.

Evaluate your Area of Operations: Think about it. You live in a tsunami zone. Have you actually driven your evacuation route? How long does it take? Have you figured out the quickest escape route on foot. You work on the 40th floor of a skyscraper. Do you ever look around and ask yourself: how do I get out of here if the normal means of egress are blocked? While schools run active shooter drills, what about the work place?

How close are you to the nearest military base? Nearest police station? Firehouse? Hospital? Do you know where the closest emergency room is? How long it will take to get there? Could you drive the route in the dark? How quickly can an ambulance respond to your location?

Where is your closest source of drinkable water if your drinking supply is contaminated? This often occurs during natural disasters especially floods. Are you prepared to a base level with emergency water?

You want to examine your environment for a lot of things. What can harm you? What can help you? What can hide you? What are your enabling factors? What are your disabling factors? What is the terrain and how can it help you or hamper you in movement? What are the roads, trails, rail, etc. What effect does your environment have on you? What are choke points, particularly river crossings (bridges and tunnels)?

Then you must must be concerned with the man-made and natural events you should prepare for in order of likelihood.

80% of natural disasters also include flooding. Do you live in a flood zone? Would you be cut off if your area floods? You can use the FEMA flood map search to determine this:

Note that there are many areas that were not in flood zones, that are now included. A new map as of 2020 includes 6 million more homes than previously mapped.

There are also man-made disasters. Here is a partial list: 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, 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? Is there a rail line or waterway near you? What is transported on those trains/barges? Where is the closest nuclear power plant and/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?

This is just the basic beginning. But by answering these questions you can begin to frame the priority of preparation. This will determine your plans and what supplies and equipment you need. Of course, there are baseline survival supplies every household should have, such as water, first aid kit, emergency radio, etc. but beyond that, an Area Study will give focus.

More on all of this in The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide where I walk you through all these steps with explanations and checklists. I hope you find this useful.