The first thing we did when we were assigned a mission in Special Forces was an Area Study. We examined WHERE the mission would occur in detail. We all need to do an area study of where we live, work, go to school and travel. It is the very first step of preparation, because it focuses you, yet I’ve not seen it in any other survival or prep guide I’ve researched.
An Area Study is simply examining your environment with the perspective of evaluating possible assets and threats so you can properly prepare. An Area Study will allow you to tighten down your preparation and focus on things in order of priority. It’s not just the environment but also includes yourself and your team.
You must conduct an Area Study of your Area of Operations (AO). This means studying your home, your work, school, and any other locales where you and people on your A-Team spend a significant amount of time. When taking a trip, you should conduct a travel area study, examining the route you will take, your destination, and your route back.
There are so many cases where a thoughtful Area Study followed up by the appropriate preparations would have saved lives. Preparation is so much better than reacting. Which is what we’re doing now.
Area Studies can have non-emergency uses, such as if you’re considering moving to a new place. An Area Study can provide valuable decision making data.
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, when an accident caused by terrified people blocks the road or everyone in your neighborhood flees at the same time on the same route creating a traffic jam? 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?
You’ve already begun your Area Study and didn’t even realize it by doing Task Two in the book. Some of the core questions are already answered: 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? How quickly can an ambulance respond to your location? When my wife and I lived on a winding road that was difficult and confusing to travel, during one medical emergency my wife had to be driven to the nearest largest road to meet an ambulance as it came toward us, saving considerable time and perhaps her life.
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 effect will you have on it?
You don’t have to answer these questions right now, but you will soon.
In essence, an Area Study requires you to invest some time and energy on research and to look at your surroundings from a different perspective. It can actually be a fun experience and allow you to see the world around you with a different perspective. Get your A-Team involved because we all look at things a little bit differently.
When my A-Team traveled, my engineers would always be looking at things they saw with a unique perspective. When they saw a bridge, they were mentally calculating how to blow it up. When they saw a stream, they were thinking how to provide a water supply to villagers and irrigation for fields. My weapons men would look at terrain for fields of fire for direct and indirect fire weapons. And cover and concealment for us. As a survivor, you have to look at your environment in terms of what you can use and what can be a threat, what can be scavenged and much more, which requires you to assume a different mindset for a while.
We live in a variety of natural environments. There are also a wide range of human developments from urban to remote rural. Thus one size doesn’t fit all.
Doing an Area Study is critical so you can tailor your preparation (and the information in this book) for your specific situation. Some threats are going to be of much more importance for you to prepare for than others. For instance, if you live in Oklahoma, the threat of hurricane is nonexistent (so far), but tornados and earthquakes are likely.
More detail in The Procastinator’s Survival Guide.