In the military, Operational Security, or OPSEC, is critical. Denying information, especially information about your plans, to the enemy is an essential part of combat effectiveness. If the enemy finds out what you are doing, they can make moves to counter your tactics, reducing your chance of victory while increasing your troop losses.
Just like our armed forces, you have enemies as well. Only one to two percent of our population are actively preparing for a crisis. That means that most of the people are playing ostrich and keeping their heads in the sand, and when disaster strikes, they will be the ones screaming for help, from the government or anyone else who will provide them with essentials for survival. If they find out that you have the supplies they need, they’ll come knocking on your door.
This could be very dangerous, especially when you turn them away without help. Desperate people do desperate things, and they just might return—next time with help and guns. To avoid this possibility, you need your own OPSEC, keeping your plans secret from these potential enemies.
• Don’t Tell Anyone. Most people blow their own OPSEC by talking to their friends about what they are doing. Even recruiting others to prepare with you must be approached with extreme care. If they don’t want to work together now, you can be sure that they will remember you when things go bad and they need help. Those friends could turn out to be your worst enemies.
• Train Your Kids to Keep Quiet. Kids are notoriously bad a keeping secrets. While you want them involved in preparing with you, you don’t want them to tell all their friends. That means training them to keep that secret. The easiest ways to do that is by offering them a story they can tell their friends and some sort of reward for helping keep your secrets.
• Don’t Fortify Your Home Too Obviously. While it is a good idea to prepare your home for an attack, it shouldn’t be obvious. If you build a ten-foot cement wall around your home, you may as well put up a billboard that reads “Preppers Live Here.” Better to go with something more subtle, like a hedge of thorny bushes. Your static defenses are only there to buy you some time so that you can put your defensive plan into effect; they will never keep you perfectly safe from a determined attack.
• Keep Your Supplies Hidden. We all have visitors who come and go. If someone comes into your home and sees stacks of food boxes all over, they’re going to have a pretty good idea of what you are doing. Find places to hide those food stocks where they aren’t so obvious. If you have a basement, that’s great. But it’s possible to hide them even without a basement. Be creative; you’ll find lots of places, like under the sink or in closets.
• Receive Shipments with Care. If you suddenly have large quantities of shipments showing up at your door, people will notice. Gradually ramp up on those shipments so that it looks like normal ordering.
This applies to things you buy in person as well. If you show up at your house with the back of your pickup truck full of food and start unloading it, you can be sure that your neighbors will wonder what’s up. If you buy that much at once, cover it with a tarp, and park your truck in the garage or back yard to unload it, where people can’t see what you are doing.
• Look like Everyone Else. Take the extra effort to make your home and your family blend in with everyone else. If everyone is losing weight due to food shortages and your family is nice and chubby, people will get suspicious. If the lights are out in the whole city and you have light blazing from your windows, everyone will know that you somehow have power. Better to hide your relative affluence and let people think you are struggling as much as they are.
• Out of Sight, Out of Mind. The more you can stay hidden, the less people will think about you. Of course, there are things you will have to go outside for, like tending your garden. But that doesn’t mean that you need to be obvious about it. Do things in a way to keep yourself out of everyone’s sight as much as possible.
• Sign up for Government Assistance. Unless we’re faced with a nationwide crisis, you can be sure that FEMA will be there, along with a host of other government agencies. Go and sign up for help just like everyone else does. If you don’t, you’ll stand out as someone who doesn’t need help. Even if your neighbors don’t notice, you can be sure the government will. They just might come knocking on your door to see what you have.
• Light and Noise Discipline. That light blazing forth from your windows is a sure sign that you have some alternate source of power. Unless you can make it look like candlelight, you need to cover your windows with blackout curtains. Likewise, a loud radio or television will give you away just as easily.
The Bottom Line
The less you can let people know about what you are doing, the better. If you do things that are obvious, then have a good cover story available. Drilling a well can be explained as wanting to be able to water your lawn without restriction. A vegetable garden can be grown because you don’t like GMOs. Whatever you do, make sure that you talk about that cover story in such a way that makes it believable. In other words, don’t start out by telling people that you’re growing your own vegetables to avoid GMOs, then complain about GMOs. Then later you can say, “Ha, I don’t have to worry about it now that I’ve begun my own garden.” That’s both credible and realistic.
All of this requires some acting skills. You’re better off acting like you have something else going on than you are denying what you are doing. When people don’t know, they wonder. Once you give them a credible answer, they stop wondering, taking you off their radar.