OK, You Survived…but What If You Have Been Captured?
If we are all planning for a SHTF situation, we must plan for the worst case scenario. This begs the question of what would you do if you were captured? Another word synonymous with that is “interred,” at the rate the regime is moving. There are plenty of books out there about POW’s and this article will cover the basics that you need to help give you an edge. I strongly recommend reading books by Jeremiah Denton or Col. James “Nick” Rowe, especially the latter’s “Five Years to Freedom
,” an end-all be-all book chronicling his captivity by the Viet Cong during the war, both available via Amazon.com.
There are a few truisms you must understand going in (to this article, not into captivity, may God forbid it). So many American citizens are not exposed to hardships that they are not capable of dealing with them when a disaster does occur. Keep in mind the saying of my old First Sergeant from the 82nd Airborne Division for this article as well:
How you train in peace is how you’ll fight in war.
The most important thing you can do is condition your mind to believe there is a possibility that you can be captured or interred. This seems as if it’s a small task; however, it is not. Many times in life we know about something that can happen; however, since the probability of it happening is low we “reverse-condition” our minds to not accept that (although improbable) it is not impossible. The event surfaces, and it is so outside of our conditioned paradigm, our routine behavior that we will not truly accept it.
Secondly (and as we already introduced the concept), even if the event is accepted, a person may not have prepared for it because people just don’t prepare for the improbable. Let’s face it, folks. Who really saw that the country was going to be where it is right now twenty-five years ago? Life is punctuated by “emoticons,” where a dramatic event occurs that may change everyone’s perception of things. Time, however, has a way of dulling conscious efforts.
In this case, I ask you a question that may summarize the position/stance you need to follow: Are you going to wait until an entire division of foreign paratroopers are falling from the sky into your backyard before you prepare? The answer (I’m sure for most of you) is a resounding “No,” because you are here, reading this site. You are already thinking “outside of the box.”
You need to mentally prepare yourself for the possibility that you can be taken captive/interred in a camp.
Let’s go through some things to remember, first with a foreign army of occupation, and then a totalitarian dictatorship (domestic tyranny).
FOREIGN ARMY OF INVASION/OCCUPATION
- With your initial capture, you must give them a reason not to kill you – You’re a prisoner, and they are soldiers from a foreign land. You have to give them a reason not to lead you into a ditch. Do you have any special skills? Are you a doctor, or are you a professional in the sciences? They may even be asking if you have a skilled trade for a work camp. You better have one, or you had better improvise and make them believe you have one.
Another method: the ½ now, ½ later routine. This entails giving them some kind of valuables with the promise of much more if you’re released. Once again, you better have the rest of it stashed somewhere. Then you must give them enough, but not too much, or they will assume they have enough and they don’t care about getting any more. This method is tricky and can backfire on you if you’re not careful.
- Never be in the front of the line or the back of the line – Always be the “grey man,” the one who does not stick out in the crowd. When they take “extras” for a detail (almost always a bad detail) they usually snag the people in the front or in the back of the line.
- Do not look the (capturing) soldiers in the eye or take a “challenging” position – They’ll kill you, plain and simple. Are you going to be taken? You had your chance to be Johnny J. Rambo. Now you need to be Edmund Dantes from Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Now you need to be smart…to stay alive. No challenges, no fights, and give them an impression: you’re a valuable American prisoner that can be used, and you’re cooperative. That is the impression you need to make on them…to make it past the initial capture/initial screening of prisoners.
WHEN YOU’RE IN THE CAMP/DETAINED
This is where everything will come into play. You will need to look for opportunities to escape, opportunities to find weapons, and chances to find hiding spots. You’ll need to learn how to hustle, how to be sharp. You need to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut…unless you need it.
The subject is very big, so I encourage you to read. “The Gulag Archipelago,” I & II by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, by him as well. The man spent a long time in the gulags of the USSR, and while “One Day..” is fictitious, only the character and storyline is…the rest is of the author’s personal experience.
Other things that will help you beforehand are linguistic skills/language(s). Really, JJ may sound far-fetched suggesting to study some Russian or Mandarin Chinese. But wouldn’t it be nice to know a few phrases that might single you out from the herd? Say they need three laborers and there are 300 people there. If you are the only one who knows basic greetings and expressions in Russian? Well, they only need two other laborers, now. Guess where the other 297 are going? Language is a weapon to be used offensively or defensively. By being skilled and having some language skills, you may be able to save your family, as a trade-off.
Once again, Solzhenitsyn is the guy to read (the aforementioned works). Here you will not have as much leeway as with the foreigners. These guys are going to know when you’re “blowing smoke,” so the best thing to do when captured is to win them over as you are planning an escape. The escape thing is such a great concept. The only flaw is when they have your family. It is then that you have to think of the trade-off and the consequences of such actions. We will follow this article up with a subsequent one on escape.
Weapons: Weapons that you beg, borrow, steal, or improvise will land you in the hole or worse. You still need to acquire them or to make them. Tin can lids, silverware, hardware, scrap metal. Rope, nylon line, electrical cords. Wooden dowels, branches, chair-rungs. All of these things mentioned are your “supplies,” to make improvised knives, shivs, shanks, clubs, garrotes. Make ‘em and stash ‘em, but find your stashing spot before you make the weapon. Anything that can make fire (matches, lighter, flints) has weapons potential. You’re only limited by your imagination: lack of using it.
Supplies: You’ll always need supplies; however, you cannot escape if you cannot sustain yourself outside the camp. Extra blankets, extra food, extra clothing, and anything that can help you is what you need. Canned goods, a compass, a flashlight…all of these things can be acquired, if you know how to hustle.
Allies: I guarantee you are not getting out of sing-sing alone. There are too many eyes watching you all of the time, and guess what? Do you have a neighbor who is a jerk? Let’s assume the DHS picked him up with you in the neighborhood roundup in downtown Sacramento, and he’s a flaming lib. Well, what do you think that neighbor is going to do when he sees you making for the wire with a pair of bolt cutters? He’s going to pick up his “good citizen” award from “the Peacekeepers.” Make allies, but make sure they are for real. Vet ‘em, because your life depends on it.
When you go in, you better have some gold or silver or other valuables that you can squirrel away or stash. Read the true story “Papillon” by Henri Charriere about how the counterfeiter he guarded (on Devil’s Island) had a stash of cash, in a plan. I encourage you to research the word “plan” in French prisoner-slang to find what it means.
Best advice of all: do not be taken. If you are to be taken, however, these are a few of the things you can do to help you maximize your chances of success. A good strategy is nothing until it is successfully executed. Increase your chances of success, and “game” all of it in your mind, as well as train yourself and your family for the possibility. Although it is improbable, it is not impossible, but if you want probability of success should it happen, you must believe it to be possible and prepare ahead of time. Have a great day, and may you be successful in all that you do.
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
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