Sure, you’re ready for the “big day” when everything goes to hell, and you have to fight to survive. You’ve stocked up on food, water, weapons and ammo…and you’ve got one or more places to go to if you have to bug out.
But are you sure no one else is planning on using YOUR supplies? Has anyone taken notice to the location of your stockpiles…and how much you’re stockpiling?
OPSEC – Operations Security, is very important part of protecting the safety of you and your family before and after a major emergency. The most important part of practicing OPSEC is blending in…don’t draw attention to yourself.
Let’s go through the OPSEC process before and after a major disaster.
1) Identify Critical Information – In this case, critical information is the fact that you’re stocking up supplies, and where you’re stocking up.
2) Analysis of Threats – The primary threat is that others will want your supplies, and they most likely won’t be interested in a fair trade, possibly taking the supplies by force.
3) Analysis of Vulnerabilities – What could reveal critical information? How could someone find out what you’re stocking up, and where?
4) Assessment of Risk – How likely is it that someone finds and takes your supplies?
5) Apply appropriate OPSEC Measures – Reduce or eliminate risk through careful planning by addressing known vulnerabilities
So, how do we get to step 5? Let’s start by analyzing before a major disaster.
Before a Major Disaster: Three example vulnerabilities
Threat: Someone else will want your supplies. This threat is applicable to all of the following vulnerabilities.
Vulnerability: A neighbor sees you carrying large amounts of canned goods/water/ammo into your house.
Assessment of Risk: Compromise of the fact that you are stockpiling supplies at home could lead to others seeking to take those supplies.
OPSEC Measures: Build your stockpile gradually…don’t show up two days in a row with a pickup filled with canned goods/water/etc, this will draw attention.
Vulnerability: You mention to a storage rental employee that you are storing food and other supplies in your storage unit.
Assessment of Risk: Compromise of the fact that you are stockpiling supplies could lead to others seeking to take those supplies.
OPSEC Measures: “Loose lips sink ships”. The military follows a concept called “Need to know”…if someone doesn’t need to know what you’re doing, don’t tell them.
Vulnerability: You have a 4×4 hooked up to a camper at all times in your back yard. Neighbors have noticed that you seem to keep this camper well stocked with food and water.
Assessment of Risk: Compromise of your bug out vehicle could result in that vehicle being stolen in an emergency before you are able to get to it.
OPSEC Measures: Don’t be obvious about your bug out vehicle. Keep your supplies hidden inside, only transfer what’s necessary to your vehicle when the time comes.
Look at your current preparedness actions; are you drawing attention to yourself? What can you do to reduce or eliminate others noticing your preparedness?
After a Major Disaster: Three example vulnerabilities
Threat: Someone else will want your supplies, vehicle, or shelter. This threat is applicable to all of the following vulnerabilities.
Vulnerability: Your location is the only one in the neighborhood with electricity (battery backup).
Assessment of Risk: Like moths to a candle, anyone who sees your lights are on when no one else has power will flock to your location, and try to take your supplies and/or shelter.
OPSEC Measures: If no one else has power and you do, turn off all the lights, the TV, everything…make it look like you have no power. Keep yourself from being a target of those who didn’t prepare.
Vulnerability: Your generator creates a LOT of noise.
Assessment of Risk: Anyone who hears your generator will come to investigate. They may decide to try to take your supplies and/or your shelter.
OPSEC Measures: It may be a good idea not to run your generator unless you know others aren’t in the area anymore. An even better idea is build an enclosure around your generator (don’t attach it to your house, carbon monoxide can kill) to muffle the sound, so others don’t know you still have power.
Vulnerability: Your bug out vehicle appears well maintained, well equipped, and is a desirable target for thieves.
Assessment of Risk: Your bug out vehicle may be your lifeline, and if anyone takes it from you, you may be stranded, possibly without supplies.
OPSEC Measures: Don’t use a brand new F-350 with a brand new deluxe camper for your bug-out vehicle. Smaller is better. Consider an older vehicle with visible rust on the body, as well as possibly an older camper, if you must have a camper. An excellent alternative may be an older mid-size van. But don’t pick a vehicle that looks like it’s been through hell and back, as that too will cause you to stand out in a crowd.
In summary, preparedness is about a lot more than how much supplies you can stock up, or even having a bug out plan. It’s great to have a small stockpile of weapons to defend yourself with. It’s even better if you never have to use them, thanks to good OPSEC practices.
Links which may help with implementing OPSEC:
The Operations Security Professional’s Association:
National OPSEC Program:
DoD OPSEC Manual: