SUR­VIVAL, EVA­SION, RE­SIS­TANCE AND ES­CAPE

U.S. ARMY SPE­CIAL FORCES SERE SCHOOL LESSONS YOU CAN USE

American Survival Guide - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Brian Mor­ris

U.S. Army Spe­cial Forces SERE School lessons you can use

In last month’s Amer­i­can Sur­vival Guide, I wrote an ar­ti­cle de­scrib­ing the his­tory and mis­sion of the U.S. Army Spe­cial Forces SERE (Sur­vival, Eva­sion, Re­sis­tance and Es­cape) School and some of the train­ing it con­ducts. This month, I will ex­pand on that by shar­ing with you some of the SERE School lessons Green Berets are taught. I hon­estly be­lieve they are rel­e­vant and use­ful for all Amer­i­cans, whether we’re plan­ning for an iso­lated emer­gency or the end of the world as we know it. I can’t dis­cuss ev­ery les­son these sol­diers learn at the school, but I have picked a few key sur­vival, eva­sion, re­sis­tance and es­cape top­ics I think are the most ben­e­fi­cial for ASG read­ers.

SUR­VIVAL: WA­TER PU­RIFI­CA­TION

In sur­vival sit­u­a­tions, wa­ter is one of the most pre­cious com­modi­ties you need. De­pend­ing on en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors and ex­er­tion lev­els, the hu­man body can only sur­vive for about three to seven days—at the long­est—with­out wa­ter. Be­cause of this, you need to make find­ing and pu­ri­fy­ing wa­ter a pri­or­ity in sit­u­a­tions where this es­sen­tial liquid is not read­ily avail­able.

I say, “pu­rify,” be­cause all too of­ten, peo­ple skip the pu­ri­fy­ing part of the process and go di­rectly to drink­ing. I can see where they get this idea: Tele­vi­sion is filled with so-called sur­vival “ex­perts” who drink any wa­ter at the first sign of it with­out tak­ing the time to pu­rify it. I’m not sure if this is for the sake of rat­ings or if these guys just don’t know what they are do­ing, but I will say that you should al­ways pu­rify your wa­ter be­fore con­sump­tion, re­gard­less of how bad the urge is to wet your whis­tle.

Wa­ter­borne dis­eases and par­a­sites can not only put you at risk of ill­ness, they can also cause you to have ex­plo­sive di­ar­rhea and even dysen­tery. Take it from me: That is no fun, and it will speed your rate of de­hy­dra­tion ten­fold. In a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion, that can be the fi­nal nail in your cof­fin.

So, the next time you see some naked guy on TV drink­ing straight from the source, re­mem­ber that at best, he will be back in civ­i­liza­tion as soon as the shoot is over; at worst, he has med­i­cal help avail­able just a few steps away. In a real-life sit­u­a­tion, you’ll have no idea how long your sur­vival sit­u­a­tion is go­ing to last, and you might truly be on your own.

Here are seven ways to pu­rify your wa­ter prior to drink­ing it:

1. Boil Raw Wa­ter

Boil­ing wa­ter is one of the most sure­fire ways to en­sure your wa­ter is safe to drink. While many blogs, books, ar­ti­cles and in­struc­tors say to boil it for five min­utes, the truth is that once your wa­ter has been at a rolling boil for one minute, it is pu­ri­fied of all bi­o­log­i­cal con­tam­i­na­tion. Cool it to a tem­per­a­ture that is com­fort­able for you and drink it.

Note that boil­ing will have no ef­fect on chem­i­cal con­tam­i­nants, so you’ll need to ad­dress that con­cern sep­a­rately. (See the Dis­til­la­tion and Per­sonal Wa­ter Fil­ters sec­tions, to fol­low.)

2. Chem­i­cal Treat­ment

If you don’t have over-the-counter wa­ter treat­ment chem­i­cals (such as io­dine, sodium chlo­rite, hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide or potas­sium per­man­ganate), you can use sim­ple, un­scented house­hold bleach in a drop­per. Be sure to mark the drop­per clearly as con­tain­ing bleach so it is not ac­ci­den­tally used for eye drops. (See the side­bar on page 51 for

... MANY OF THE LESSONS TAUGHT IN SERE SCHOOL GO FAR BE­YOND MIL­I­TARY AP­PLI­CA­TIONS ...

spe­cific wa­ter-to-bleach pro­por­tions.)

3. Dis­til­la­tion

Dis­til­la­tion is one of the most re­li­able meth­ods of pu­ri­fy­ing wa­ter. While boil­ing wa­ter will kill bi­o­log­i­cal con­tam­i­nants, you might want to uti­lize the dis­til­la­tion process when you are try­ing to de­sali­nate salt wa­ter or when there are chem­i­cal con­tam­i­nants in the wa­ter (for in­stance, heavy met­als such as lead, mer­cury and ar­senic). You can make a still us­ing a cop­per tube coil run­ning from a stain­less steel con­tainer filled with salt wa­ter or con­tam­i­nated wa­ter to an­other con­tainer used to catch the dis­tilled wa­ter. Put the con­tam­i­nated wa­ter con­tainer over heat un­til it boils. The fresh wa­ter, in the form of steam, will run through the coil tube, con­dense back to liquid and drip into the wa­ter-catch con­tainer that will hold your de­con­tam­i­nated wa­ter.

4. Per­sonal Wa­ter Fil­ters

Per­sonal wa­ter fil­ters clean a very high per­cent­age of con­tam­i­nants from wa­ter, and they are com­pact and easy to use. You can find many great mod­els on the mar­ket to­day, in­clud­ing the Etekc­ity 1500L, Sur­vivor Fil­ter Pro, Lifes­traw per­sonal wa­ter fil­ter, Sawyer S3 Foam fil­ter or, for a model with a re­ally high out­put, take a look at the Kata­dyn Pocket wa­ter fil­ter, which pu­ri­fies up to a whop­ping 13,000 gal­lons.

5. Char­coal, Sand and Leaf Fil­ter

This fil­ter is one of the most prim­i­tive ways to clean your wa­ter, but keep in mind that it will only re­move large par­tic­u­lates and is not guar­an­teed to get rid of bi­o­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal con­tam­i­nates.

To make one of these fil­ters, sim­ply fill a con­tainer or a sock with lay­ers of sand, finely crushed char­coal and green leaves. The more lay­ers the bet­ter.

Make sure the bot­tom layer of the con­tainer is made with green leaves so you don’t get sand or char­coal in your drink­ing wa­ter. Pour raw wa­ter into the top and punc­ture a hole in the bot­tom to al­low fil­tered wa­ter to flow into a sep­a­rate clean drink­ing con­tainer. Use this method only if you are sim­ply try­ing to re­move par­tic­u­lates or if there is no other pos­si­ble means of fil­ter­ing your wa­ter prior to con­sump­tion.

6. So­lar Still

To make a so­lar still, sim­ply dig a hole in the ground and place a clean, empty con­tainer for har­vested wa­ter in the cen­ter of the hole. Next, cover the hole with a plas­tic sheet and use rocks or sand at the edges to hold it in place over the hole. Then place a small rock in the cen­ter of the sheet di­rectly over the empty con­tainer.

When the sun shines on the plas­tic, it will draw wa­ter out of the earth and cause it to gather on the un­der­side of the plas­tic. The rock in the cen­ter will force the wa­ter to gather and drip into the con­tainer. You can speed up this process by putting a few green leaves on a twig or pour­ing some un­pu­ri­fied wa­ter on the ground un­der the plas­tic sheet.

7. UV Light

You can pu­rify your wa­ter us­ing UV light by pur­chas­ing a bat­tery-op­er­ated UV wa­ter pu­ri­fier such as the Steripen. Uv-light wa­ter pu­ri­fiers are light­weight, com­pact and easy to use. They can

IN SUR­VIVAL SIT­U­A­TIONS, WA­TER IS ONE OF THE MOST PRE­CIOUS COM­MODI­TIES ... YOU NEED TO MAKE FIND­ING AND PU­RI­FY­ING WA­TER A PRI­OR­ITY IN SIT­U­A­TIONS WHERE THIS ES­SEN­TIAL LIQUID IS NOT READ­ILY AVAIL­ABLE.

pu­rify your drink­ing wa­ter of up to 99.999 per­cent of all bi­o­log­i­cal con­tam­i­nants, in­clud­ing campy­lobac­ter, cholera, cryp­tosporid­ium, es­cherichia coli, Shigella, sal­monella, hep­ati­tis, pro­to­zoa par­a­sites and other bi­o­log­i­cal viruses.

To use, sim­ply place the unit in the wa­ter con­tainer and turn it on. Be sure to fol­low the time-to-wa­ter vol­ume ra­tio that comes with the in­struc­tions.

EVA­SION

Be­cause we of­ten fo­cus on ru­ral and wood­land sur­vival tech­niques, I wanted to dis­cuss an area that is cov­ered in depth in SERE School: ur­ban eva­sion. A per­son might find them­selves in a sit­u­a­tion where oth­ers are fol­low­ing them on foot or in a ve­hi­cle in an ur­ban set­ting. Once they learn your routes, they will use that knowl­edge to their ad­van­tage. They might not even be fol­low­ing be­hind you; but, by an­tic­i­pat­ing your route, they might have cars or peo­ple all along your ex­pected route.

You have a bet­ter chance of “los­ing a tail” if you fol­low these sim­ple rules:

You must de­ter­mine if there is an in­di­vid­ual or team fol­low­ing along your route. You can do this by vary­ing your pace and not­ing if the po­ten­tial fol­lower varies their pace. Turn in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to see if they still fol­low or stop to tie your shoe in front of a store win­dow, us­ing the re­flec­tion to see the re­ac­tion of any per­son who might be fol­low­ing you.

If you de­ter­mine there is a per­son fol­low­ing you, con­tinue to walk, make a men­tal note of what the fol­lower looks like, and, as al­ways, call the po­lice if pos­si­ble.

Try to speed up and duck out of sight. Once you are out of sight, do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to change your ap­pear­ance. If you’re wear­ing a jacket, take it off. The same ap­plies to hats, sun­glasses or even eye­glasses, if you can man­age with­out them. Do what­ever is pos­si­ble to look dif­fer­ent from what the fol­lower is ex­pect­ing.

Once you change your ap­pear­ance, you should con­tinue mov­ing quickly. Go into a crowded area such as a shop­ping mar­ket and then im­me­di­ately go out through an­other exit. Go up­stairs and through hall­ways, dou­bling back oc­ca­sion­ally. Try to con­fuse those at­tempt­ing to fol­low.

As an ab­so­lute fi­nal op­tion, you should hide some­where that de­creases the like­li­hood of dis­cov­ery and wait awhile be­fore go­ing back out again.

If you are driv­ing a car, you can make sev­eral turns off your in­tended route to see if the “tail” fol­lows. If there is rea­son to be­lieve you are be­ing fol­lowed, an op­tion is to turn on the ve­hi­cle’s turn sig­nal. Then, at the last sec­ond, go straight and see if the other ve­hi­cle fol­lows.

IF THERE IS REA­SON TO BE­LIEVE YOU ARE BE­ING FOL­LOWED, AN OP­TION IS TO TURN ON THE VE­HI­CLE’S TURN SIG­NAL. THEN, AT THE LAST SEC­OND, GO STRAIGHT AND SEE IF THE OTHER VE­HI­CLE FOL­LOWS.

Try­ing to out­run an­other ve­hi­cle is un­safe and will most likely only place in­no­cent peo­ple in dan­ger. In­stead, drive un­pre­dictably: Make left turns when sig­nal­ing a right turn, and go straight when in­di­cat­ing a turn. Slow down at a busy in­ter­sec­tion just as the light changes. As soon as the light is about to go from yel­low to red, drive through the in­ter­sec­tion be­fore the other cars have a chance to go. This tech­nique will of­ten leave your pur­suers stranded at the light. Even­tu­ally, you will lose those who are fol­low­ing. If not, drive di­rectly to the au­thor­i­ties. Al­ter­na­tively, park the ve­hi­cle and then evade on foot and try to lose them.

THE BEST THING HOSTAGES CAN DO IS TO “HUMANIZE” THEM­SELVES BY ES­TAB­LISH­ING WHAT I LIKE TO CALL “ONE-SIDED RAP­PORT” WITH THEIR CAPTOR(S).

RE­SIS­TANCE

I won’t go into great de­tail on this topic, be­cause, quite frankly, the ma­jor­ity of in­for­ma­tion avail­able on the sub­ject is clas­si­fied se­cret and is not au­tho­rized for pub­lic re­lease.

That said, there are some re­sis­tance top­ics that are open source, such as how to han­dle your­self in a hostage sit­u­a­tion, so I have in­cluded that topic here.

This can be a very dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion, par­tic­u­larly if a per­son is be­ing held by an ex­trem­ist group or a men­tally de­ranged in­di­vid­ual. The best thing hostages can do is to “humanize” them­selves by es­tab­lish­ing what I like to call “one-sided rap­port” with their captor(s).

How­ever, if you are cap­tured, al­ways re­main cog­nizant of the pos­si­bil­ity of Stockholm Syn­drome. This oc­curs when a cap­tive be­gins to feel so much em­pa­thy for their captor that they be­gin to side with the captor's cause—as in the fa­mous case of Pa­tri­cia Hearst.

The key for a cap­tive is to get the captor to see them as a hu­man be­ing. This can be ac­com­plished by be­ing friendly and talk­ing about non-in­flam­ma­tory sub­jects such as miss­ing one’s fam­ily, sports or any num­ber of things. Stay away from hot-but­ton top­ics such as pol­i­tics and re­li­gion.

Gauge the captor’s re­sponses, and if some­thing seems to be a sen­si­tive sub­ject, back away and talk about some­thing else. Do not give up; it could take days, weeks, or even months or longer to es­tab­lish rap­port. In a hostage sit­u­a­tion, do­ing this could save your life.

ES­CAPE

When it comes to es­cape, it is im­por­tant to keep your wits about you, as­sess the sit­u­a­tion and come up with a plan of ac­tion.

If you are thrown into a car, im­me­di­ately try to open the door on the other side of the car, be­cause that door is of­ten left un­locked to al­low

an­other kid­nap­per to en­ter from the far side of the ve­hi­cle. If pos­si­ble, you can use your feet and the strength of your legs to kick out the rear win­dow and then throw your­self out of the ve­hi­cle and make a run for safety. If thrown into a van, at­tempt to use the mo­men­tum to power through the back doors. You might break a rib or dis­lo­cate a shoul­der, but that might be bet­ter than what you could face in cap­tiv­ity.

If noth­ing else, make a scene. Try scream­ing out com­mands such as “Leave me alone!” or “Call the po­lice!” Fight back by kick­ing, scratch­ing, bit­ing, small-joint ma­nip­u­la­tion—such as bend­ing back a pinky and break­ing it; even grab­bing onto sta­tion­ary ob­jects and not let­ting go; or us­ing what­ever you can find as a weapon to fight your ab­duc­tor(s). Any­thing you can do to es­cape is fair game.

Once you have com­mit­ted to es­cape, try run­ning into a crowd of peo­ple, if that is an op­tion, or to­ward a po­lice of­fi­cer or any­one of author­ity in or­der to help per­suade your pur­suer to give up the chase.

SERE School is only for those mem­bers of the mil­i­tary who are at the high­est risk of be­ing cap­tured and might need to es­cape and evade en­emy cap­tiv­ity. How­ever, many of the lessons taught in SERE School go far be­yond mil­i­tary ap­pli­ca­tions—as ev­i­denced by the pop­u­lar­ity of var­i­ous ver­sions of SERE man­u­als avail­able in print.

Within those teach­ings are lessons to be learned by any­one who wants to be ca­pa­ble of sur­viv­ing any sit­u­a­tion that life throws their way.

WHEN IT COMES TO ES­CAPE, IT IS IM­POR­TANT THAT YOU KEEP YOUR WITS ABOUT YOU, AS­SESS THE SIT­U­A­TION AND COME UP WITH A PLAN OF AC­TION.

If you think you’re be­ing fol­lowed, avoid turn­ing to look for, or at, your pur­suer, be­cause this will let them know you’ve seen them. In turn, that could ac­cel­er­ate their ef­forts to catch you. Above:

Right: Of­ten, the best chance to es­cape is right at the time of cap­ture. h

An­other trick to evad­ing cap­ture is to use wa­ter­ways to try to hide your trail and at­tempt to throw off any­one who might be track­ing you.

The first step for main­tain­ing per­sonal se­cu­rity when you’re out in the pub­lic is to be aware of what’s go­ing on around you. Don’t let your phone or other dis­trac­tions re­duce your fo­cus down to your per­sonal space. Above, right:

If you’re try­ing to evade a sus­pi­cious per­son while driv­ing, stay calm and look for ways to sep­a­rate from them— pri­mar­ily at in­ter­sec­tions, en­trances and ex­its on free­ways. If pos­si­ble, con­tact the au­thor­i­ties to find a nearby po­lice sta­tion.

Even if it’s not phys­i­cally pos­si­ble, never stop plan­ning to es­cape. It will keep your mind sharp dur­ing what could be a lengthy cap­tiv­ity.

Above, left: A highly ef­fi­cient way to evade cap­ture is to sim­ply blend into a crowd in or­der to lose a pur­suer.

A captor might try to iso­late you from other cap­tives in or­der to break you down psy­cho­log­i­cally. It’s ex­tremely im­por­tant to re­main men­tally vig­i­lant in a cap­tiv­ity sit­u­a­tion; you might need to rely on your wits and your in­ter­nal will in or­der to sur­vive.

In the event of a res­cue at­tempt, try to stay low; and, for your own pro­tec­tion, keep your hands empty and vis­i­ble to the res­cue force.

Track­ing dogs are ex­tremely ef­fi­cient at lock­ing onto hu­man scent and lead­ing a pur­suer to an evader. How­ever, they are gen­er­ally lim­ited to the speed and mo­bil­ity of their hu­man han­dlers.

The abil­ity to start a fire dur­ing in­clement weather could be the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death in a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion.

Traps and snares can add small game to your sur­vival diet and will greatly en­hance your chances of feed­ing your­self when food is not read­ily avail­able.

Poi­sonous snakes, such as rat­tlesnakes, can be found through­out the United States and pose a dan­ger­ous threat to un­sus­pect­ing hu­mans.

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