A.B.C.s  of  Survival and Evasion


This article is based on information sent to me by my friend Ed who has some experience in the area of survival.

A – Accept your situation.  Denial of the fix you are now in is pointless.

B – Have something to drink, eat if you have food, stop and think.  To do this, you have to stop, gather materials, build a “hide” or daytime shelter, light a fire, etc. This gets your mind organized and doing something useful.

C – Consider your options. Stay? Go?  Reexamine your map? Signal? Wait? Make camp?

D – Decide on a plan.

E – Execute the plan, modifying it as necessary.

FM 21-76, the Department of the Army Field Manual, Survival, Evasion and Escape, was first written in March 1969 to advise U.S. Army soldiers in how to survive behind enemy lines in Vietnam and around the world. Today, there is an updated version, it can be downloaded free at the following site. FM 21-76 US Army Survival Manuel.  This is the latest version I have been able to find.

Survival, Evasion, and Escape is a reminder that life could be much worse. No matter how bad your situation might seem, you are probably not surrounded by a foreign enemy who is looking for you with the intent of torturing you to extract information before imprisoning or killing you.  You may not have to make a debris shelter out of twigs and branches or have to eat berries, nuts, tree bark, and bugs.  The Army survival manual makes it clear from the outset that people who maintain a positive attitude are most likely to survive a desperate situation.

One of the most interesting survival tips in Survival, Evasion, and Escape is the transformation of the word “Survival” into a mnemonic device. The manual advises troops in a survival situation to do the following:

  • S – Size Up The Situation.
  • U – Undue Haste Makes Waste
  • R – Remember Where You Are
  • V – Vanquish Fear & Panic
  • I – Improvise
  • V – Value Living
  • A – Act Like the Natives
  • L – Learn Basic Skills

You can apply the above to urban or rural movement in a hazardous environment.  How would you “make do” if something “bad” were to happen?  Perhaps you are outside the US on holiday, in an unfamiliar, foreign land between flights or just in a large unfamiliar US city.  Your luggage is in limbo and you find yourself in a strange place without supplies.  Then Mumbai style terrorists attack your hotel.  What items do you acquire that will help you survive and why?  What actions would you take?

Know how to improvise a defensive weapon.  Use dining room silverware, a BIC pen, a handful of gravel tied into a sock.  If the situation is really that dire for you, it will also be for everyone else around.  Strangers won’t be concerned about your welfare.  Improvise an ability to keep threatening persons at a distance, protect yourself, buy time and distance to gather your wits and come up with a better plan and acquire “stuff” to put it in action.

Being alone in a hostile land without resources may mean that “criminal” skills would be very useful. These are not justified in common disaster situations, but fall into the realm of tradecraft taught to covert intelligence operatives military personnel.  Lock picking, basic auto theft skill, hand to hand combat and close quarter battle are the order of the day in the worst case scenario. Criminals, outdoorsmen, soldiers, cops and skilled artisans flourish while office wimps die whining. The former have skill sets which include familiarity with the basic tools and weapons which aid survival, while the latter do not.  If you know nothing at all about weapon use you are at a severe disadvantage!

Urban Evasion – Hide in plain sight. Blend in. Act like the natives.  Avoid looking like a confused tourist.

In most small towns in the US wear generic “work clothes,” jeans or Carharts jacket, sturdy shoes, in urban areas a jogging suit and walking shoes, neutral earth colors, gray, brown, dark green, Navy is OK at night.  Small daypack in “urban commuter” (non-military looking) color.  Blend in as much as possible.

Learn as much as you can about survival skills under extreme conditions, before you need to use them.


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