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Friday, 23 September 2016

Adapt and Improvise; The Combat Jacket.

Simple Survival Aids (although perhaps not those as bulky as a firesteel) can be secreted in clothing ready for an emergency

Thinking back over thirty years, I can recall spending hours making my clothes into a very basic survival kit. The reason will be obvious, it was all camouflaged clothing and my intention was to survive after being separated from my heavier kit. We called it E&E (escape and evasion) and some of us were good at it and others less so. For some it would be a miserable time, for some it was more about being a nuisance to the 'opposition', for me it was slipping away in to the woods and disappearing until I could get back to somewhere I could be useful, reunite myself with something more deadly than a rock in a sock or a club with some barbed wire wrapped around it and neutralise the enemy without getting up too close and personal.

I believed (and still do) in the 6 Ps, Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Pathetic Performance, there were 7 but these 6 publish better! Never go under-dressed, under-gunned or under-informed, never give a sucker an even break and do unto others before they do unto you, quite contrary to my Christian beliefs but back then I believed it and was ready to put it in to action if necessary.

So let's see if you've got the idea;

"what does a smart guy take to a knife fight?" 
"No, not a big knife, a 9mm pistol, an Uzi would be better! Now you get it? Good!"

Surviving for long periods in the most basic of circumstances will never be easy, POWs in a number of past conflicts have demonstrated the human body's resilience to abuse, neglect and deprivation but starvation is a poor companion, one to be avoided at all costs and my 'little kit' was designed to aid me in that goal. All my kit was very light and selected and secreted in such a manner as to be very hard to find even if searched. Below is a list of the things I had, the list is not exhaustive and should be modified based on likely local conditions in the area you are to survive in or transit through, most of this kit remained in place for years remember.

  • Something to cut and skin which is basic. I had a 'key ring size' knife but also a scalpel blade carefully wrapped in foil so that it neither blunted in storage or burst through its containment and stuck in me, a short piece of scalpel handle is also useful and easily concealed in the heel of a boot for instance. 
  • Fishing line, fairly light, with a couple of hooks and a few weights, 
  • needle, 
  • thread, 
  • a couple of waterproof matches, 
  • a couple of puritabs, 
  • a miniature compass,
  • para chord 
  • snare wire. 
Many of these items were wrapped or sealed in tiny zip lock bags, the wire of course was designed to live unprotected. All of these items were then sewn into the jacket or trousers in a place where the material was double or treble, seams, buttons or zips, so their bulk was concealed by that particular feature in the garment.

I had rehearsed the likely scenarios and they were these.

1. If I was taken prisoner on my own or in a small group, I would take additional measures to prevent a thorough search, these included urinating on the garment or vomiting on it to discourage a thorough search of the portion containing something useful. I could also fein injury in that area again attempting to prevent a thorough search.
2. If we were taken en mass, I anticipated the processing being more cursory and it being unlikely to discover my stash, as the many hours of work had been successful in making these items near undetectable.

In addition to these few items, I had the lightest of all survival kit, knowledge, experience and the right attitude. I WAS going to survive and fight again, I WAS NOT going to starve in the wilderness and when I got fully kitted up again, I WAS going to be a real nuisance!

I strongly suggest that you put some really useful stuff into a favourite coat, a ruck sack or anything you have with you nearly all the time and forget it's there until you are in trouble. I carried a lifeboat ration pack for years at the bottom of my ruck sack, I only ate anything from it once as I recall, when I was really in need. It had a 5 year shelf life so I didn't have to swap or rotate it, it was just always there, just in case.

Now go and give some thought to what you may need sometime and put it somewhere that it will always be when you need it. Maybe the glovebox in your car, a credit card survival tool in your wallet (caution, airport metal,detectors will find it but the search won't,) just think through likely scenarios and mitigate the risk by stashing something somewhere you can find it when you need it most.

Plan ahead, live long and prosper


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