Today is the 70th Anniversary of the most intriguing series of correspondence in military history.  On December 22nd, 1944 the 101st Airborne Division, under the acting command of Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, found itself in defense of Bastogne, Belgium and encircled by a greatly superior German force after the German surprise attack known as the Battle of the Bulge.  The enemy commander sent the BG McAuliffe the following:

To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.

The German Commander.

According to the accounts from those present when McAuliffe was given the German message, he read it, crumpled it into a ball and threw it in the trash while exclaiming, “Aw, nuts”.  After a short deliberation on what the official response should be, McAuliffe and his staff accepted the suggestion of Lieutenant Colonel Harry Kinnard that BG McAuliffe’s first response summed up the situation pretty well.

To the German Commander.


The American Commander

Of course, the German’s being Germans…didn’t understand the message and asked the American officer delivering the message what it meant…”In plain English? Go to hell.” was the response.

The day after Christmas the U.S. 4th Armored Division reinforced the 101st Airborne and drove the Germans back. To this day the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge is celebrated in Belgium by the gift of nuts. May you never have to fight a desperate battle against incredible odds…but if you do, think of BG McAuliffe, a liberated Belgium, the 101st Airborne Division and…Nuts.

Practice Noise, Light, and Litter Discipline – The Army Way

A Prepper should know how to move through dangerous territory without being noticed or leaving evidence of your presence behind.  The Army does this pretty well when it wants to…but we leave a mess when we don’t.  Something else the Army does will is breaking down complex procedures into digestible tasks so let’s not reinvent the wheel and learn from our men and women in uniform.  Here’s Practice Noise, Light and Litter Discipline – The Army Way.  Links have been added to facilitate further reading or research.

Task Number: 071-COM-0815
Task Title: Practice Noise, Light, and Litter Discipline
Task Type: Individual
Task Data
Conditions: You are member of a mounted or dismounted element conducting a tactical mission and have been directed to comply with noise, light and litter discipline. Enemy elements are in your area of operation.
Standards: Prevent enemy from locating your element by exercising noise, light, and litter discipline at all times.
Safety Notes: In a training environment, leaders must perform a risk assessment in accordance with FM 5-19, Composite Risk Management. Leaders will complete a DA Form 7566 COMPOSITE RISK MANAGEMENT WORKSHEET during the planning and completion of each task and sub-task by assessing mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available-time available and civil considerations, (METT-TC). Note: During MOPP training, leaders must ensure personnel are monitored for potential heat injury. Local policies and procedures must be followed during times of increased heat category in order to avoid heat related injury. Consider the MOPP work/rest cycles and water replacement guidelines IAW FM 3-11.4, NBC Protection, FM 3-11.5, CBRN Decontamination.
1Exercise noise discipline.
aAvoid all unnecessary vehicular and foot movement.
bSecure (with tape [usually 100 MPH Tape] or other materials[ranger bands for example…buy them or make your own from inner tubes]) metal parts (for example, weapon slings, canteen cups, identification [ID] tags) to prevent them from making noise during movement.
NOTE: Do not obstruct the moving parts of weapons or vehicles.
cAvoid all unnecessary talk.
dUse radio only when necessary.
eSet radio volume low so that only you can hear.
fUse visual [hand & arm signals] techniques to communicate.
2Exercise light discipline.
aDo not smoke.
NOTE: The smoking of cigarettes, cigars, etc., can be seen and smelled by the enemy.
bConceal flashlights and other light sources so that the light is filtered (for example, under a poncho).
cCover or blacken anything that reflects light (for example, metal surfaces, vehicles, glass).
dConceal vehicles and equipment with available natural camouflage.
f. Use visual techniques to communicate.
3. Exercise litter discipline.
aEstablish a litter collection point (empty food containers, empty ammunition cans or boxes, old camouflage) when occupying a position.
bVerify all litter has been collected in preparation to leaving a position.
cTake all litter with you when leaving a position.

Hand and Arm Signals – The Army Way

Communications MeansBeing able to communicate silently in the field using Visual Signal is good skill survival skill whether you’re a Soldier or a Prepper.  I was lucky to learn about hand and arm signals, a subset of Visual Signals (also includes light signals, flags, panel systems and the like) at the Fort Benning School For Boys.  In fact, the Army has developed an entire Hand and Arm Signals vocabulary and this hand and arm signal vocabulary is actually pretty intuitive.  This vocabulary is also worth learning to keep in that preparedness library between your ears.

Scroll through the gallery below to review a selection of U.S. Army Hand and Arm Signals that I’ve gathered for the Prepper crowd from the September 1987 edition of the Army’s FM 21-60 Visual Signals.  This manual has been “Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.”

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I hope that you’ll find some of these Hand and Arm Signals useful and don’t forget to practice with your preparedness group or family because while most of these signals are pretty intuitive… to most people…not all are of the signals are intuitive…and neither are all people.

Check out  FM 21-60 Visual Signals if you need additional signals for maritime operation or mounted operations.. there’s even an entire vocabulary for tracked vehicle operations..  FM 21-60 does a good job covering one of the five tactical communications methods.  Just as an aside, the other methods of tactical communications can be useful to the preparedness community as well.  They include: Wire, Sound, Radio & Messenger.

First Aid To Clear Object Stuck In Throat – The Army Way

The Army does a good job of breaking down complex procedures into digestible tasks but the Army doesn’t always call things by the same name as civilians…civilians would call this the Heimlich Maneuver but the Army calls it First Aid To Clear Object Stuck In Throat.  Links have been added to facilitate further reading or research.

Task Number: 081-COM-1003
Task Title: Perform First Aid to Clear an Object Stuck in the Throat of a Conscious Casualty
Task Type: Individual
Task Data
Conditions: You see a conscious casualty who is having difficulty breathing because something is stuck in his throat. This iteration should NOT be performed in MOPP.
Standards: Clear the object from the casualty’s throat by giving abdominal or chest thrusts until the casualty can talk and breathe normally, you are relieved by a qualified person, or the casualty becomes unconscious requiring mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Safety Notes: In a training environment, leaders must perform a risk assessment in accordance with FM 5-19, Composite Risk Management. Leaders will complete a DA Form 7566 COMPOSITE RISK MANAGEMENT WORKSHEET during the planning and completion of each task and sub-task by assessing mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available-time available and civil considerations, (METT-TC). Note: During MOPP training, leaders must ensure personnel are monitored for potential heat injury. Local policies and procedures must be followed during times of increased heat category in order to avoid heat related injury. Consider the MOPP work/rest cycles and water replacement guidelines IAW FM 3-11.4, NBC Protection, FM 3-11.5, CBRN Decontamination.
Environment: Environmental protection is not just the law but the right thing to do. It is a continual process and starts with deliberate planning. Always be alert to ways to protect our environment during training and missions. In doing so, you will contribute to the sustainment of our training resources while protecting people and the environment from harmful effects. Refer to FM 3-34.5 Environmental Considerations and GTA 05-08-002 ENVIRONMENTAL-RELATED RISK ASSESSMENT.
1Determine if the casualty needs help.
aIf the casualty has a mild airway obstruction (able to speak or cough forcefully, may be wheezing between coughs), do not interfere except to encourage the casualty to cough.
bIf the casualty has a severe airway obstruction (poor air exchange and increased breathing difficulty, a silent cough, cyanosis, or inability to speak or breathe), continue with step 2. 
NOTE: You can ask the casualty one question, “Are you choking?” If the casualty nods yes, help is needed.
CAUTION: Do not slap a choking casualty on the back. This may cause the object to go down the airway instead of out.
2Perform abdominal or chest thrusts.
NOTE: Abdominal thrusts should be used unless the victim is in the advanced stages of pregnancy, is very obese, or has a significant abdominal wound.
Note: Clearing a conscious casualty’s airway obstruction can be performed with the casualty either standing or sitting.
aAbdominal thrusts.
(1Stand behind the casualty.
(2Wrap your arms around the casualty’s waist.
(3Make a fist with one hand.
(4Place the thumb side of the fist against the abdomen slightly above the navel and well below the tip of the breastbone.
(5Grasp the fist with the other hand.
(6Give quick backward and upward thrusts.
NOTE: Each thrust should be a separate, distinct movement. Thrusts should be continued until the obstruction is expelled or the casualty becomes unconscious.
bChest thrusts.
(1Stand behind the casualty.
(2Wrap your arms under the casualty’s armpits and around the chest.
(3Make a fist with one hand.
(4Place the thumb side of the fist on the middle of the breastbone.
(5Grasp the fist with the other hand.
(6Give backward thrusts.
NOTE: Each thrust should be performed slowly and distinctly with the intent of relieving the obstruction.
3Continue to give abdominal or chest thrusts, as required. Give abdominal or chest thrusts until the obstruction is clear, you are relieved by a qualified person, or the casualty becomes unconscious.
NOTE: If the casualty becomes unconscious, lay him down and then start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation procedures.
4If the obstruction is cleared, watch the casualty closely and check for other injuries, if necessary.

Post Apocalyptic Hygiene Supplies

As we discussed in our recent article, Post Apocalyptic Self Care hygiene is important to health and never more important than during times of great stress, after a disaster or while living in an austere environment.  If you don’t take actions now to stockpile necessary post apocalyptic hygiene supplies you might not have the necessary supplies even after a minor disaster.

Today’s article and list is based on hand has been expanded from the list suggested by Army Techniques Publication No. 4-25-12 (ATP 4-25-12) Unit Field Sanitation Teams, April 2014 edition.  ATP 4-25-12 has been ‘Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.’  Links are provided for additional reading on selected item categories or links to facilitate improving your own post apocalyptic hygiene supplies but I suggest that you stock what you use.

Personal Post Apocalyptic Hygiene & Sanitation

Today it’s easy to practice good hygiene and sanitation, in fact it’s socially unacceptable to make any other choice but after a disaster when there aren’t any store shelves stocked with soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and cleansers.  You now have cheap and reliable energy to heat your bathwater, run your vacuum and even run a toothbrush with rotating bristles.  You likely even have potable water running under pressure to multiple rooms in your home.  Potable water is so cheap that you also probably use it to flush away your bodily waste.  There’s probably even a truck that shows up once a week to haul off your trash.

The question is…would you have the supplies and discipline to maintain a commensurate level of hygiene and sanitation without all these modern conveniences?  Each Prepper should understand the risks he or she runs for him or herself and their community if they fail to maintain high standards of personal hygiene and sanitation.  It’s no coincidence that diseases like cholera break out following battles as well as natural and humanitarian disasters.

Note:  Leadership plays a key role in as well.  Community and Prepper Leaders must educate group and community members in proper techniques and enforce codes and/or standards like standoff distances between latrines and water sources.

Personal Post Apocalyptic Hygiene Supplies

Post Apocalyptic Hygiene SuppliesPreparedness requires health and hygiene supplies.  As an alternative you may develop the ability to make, find or trade for health and hygiene supplies…just don’t expect Walmart to be an option.  Such health and hygiene supplies may include items any number of items including some from the list below:

Note:   Make sure to stockpile unscented toiletries to the extent possible to avoid attracting insects or letting your perfume announce your presence before you’re ready in a tactical situation.  Additionally, make sure to avoid antibacterial soaps and cleansers if you intend to use a septic tank for waste disposal.

Warning:  The sharing of most health and hygiene Items may spread disease or infections 

Army Guide To Deployment Health

Preparing To DeployAndrew’s Note:  Today we offer some great information on maintaining health in austere environments taken directly from GTA 08-05-062 Army Guide to Deployment Health, Health Threat Information and Countermeasure, Distribution Unlimited.  You can access this same information in it’s original form by clicking the link above.  The note on it’s cover declares “Anyone who participates in any type of military operation should keep and refer to this pamphlet”… the same goes for Prepper operations and most of the information presented here is applicable to post disaster or breakdown situations.  I’ve added links for reference to the military gear, civilian equivalents (or the civilian stuff we use) and links to U.S. Army info sources if you want to explore a subject in more depth.  Note that most of the disease links are actually info sheet download links from U.S. Army sites.

Army Guide To Deployment Health

Preparing To Deploy

Pre-Deployment Medical Requirements and Screenings:

  • Ensure possession of medical warning tags, eyeglasses, mask inserts, and hearing protection.
  • Obtain a 180-day supply of prescription and other medications or enough for the duration of deployment, whichever is less (amount required may vary – confirm individual requirements with a health care provider, medical authority or Operations Orders (OPORD)).
  • Receive all directed immunizations; initiate malaria chemoprophylaxis as directed.
  • Complete all necessary forms, including DD Form 2795 and annual Periodic Health Assessment (PHA).
  • Schedule initial visits and follow-up appointments with necessary medical personnel.
  • Active Component personnel should complete a Pre-Deployment Medical Health Assessment (DD Form 2795) if required.

Refer to DA Form 7425, AR 40-501, MOD 10 to CENTCOM, the Department of the Army Personnel Policy Guidance, and for more complete information.

Clothing/Gear/Personal Hygiene items:

  • Ensure uniforms, chemical protective clothing, protective masks (with lenses as needed) and other gear are in good condition and fit properly.
  • Practice putting on/removing clothing, masks, and gear. Ensure clothing items and hair, do not interfere with proper wear.
  • Soldiers can field treat their ACU’s** with insect repellent using standard military clothing repellent products: permethrin aerosol spray (must reapply after sixth wash) or IDA kit (preferred and good for life of uniform). Mark treatment date on the uniform.
  • Treat bed nets with permethrin aerosol spray.

**Soldiers cannot treat their Flame Resistant Army Combat Uniforms (FRACU’s) or Nomex ACU’s with permethrin in the field.

Recommended/Additional Packing items:

During Deployment

Operational Safety

In addition to understanding and applying routine safety procedures, use common sense during occupational and recreational activities to prevent accidental injury.

  • Do not sleep under or between vehicles.
  • Do not jump off of vehicles. Use hand holds and steps to climb down.
  • Always use proper lifting techniques (lift with your legs, not your back). If a task is too hard, or a load too heavy or awkward to lift, then ask for help.
  • Wear eye protection and respirators when needed.
  • Wear hearing protection when exposed to loud noise.
  • Wear safety equipment (eye and mouth protection) during recreational activities.

Hot Weather

To avoid heat injuries:
  • Drink water and maintain good nutrition to replace salt and minerals lost through sweating. Urine color should be no darker than light yellow.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose fitting clothing.
  • Protect yourself from exposure to sunlight and wind: work and rest in the shade when possible, construct shades/windscreens and wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
  • Follow Work-Rest/Water Consumption Table on page 13.
  • Heat stroke is deadly. Seek immediate medical attention if you or your buddy becomes confused, dizzy, or has stopped sweating while working in the heat.

Fluid Replacement and Work Rest Guide

Cold Weather

To avoid cold injuries:
  • Maintain good nutrition and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Remain inside well ventilated warming tents and drink warm liquids when possible.
  • Use the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS): layer clothing, wear headgear to avoid heat loss from uncovered head, and wear polypropylene long underwear.
  • Keep moving! If unable to walk or exercise vigorously, then keep hands and feet warm by frequently moving fingers and toes.
  • If working outside or on guard duty, then insulate yourself from the ground with tree boughs or sleeping mats. Avoid the wind or construct windscreens to reduce heat loss. Watch for shivering.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for loss of sensitivity in any body part.

Refer to the Wind Chill Temperature Table on page 14.Wind Chill Chart

High Altitude

Operations at 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) can impact unit and individual effectiveness. Signs of altitude illness include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and coughing.

  • Staged ascent: Ascend to moderate altitude (1,200 -2,400m) and remain there for 4 days or more before ascending higher. When possible, Soldiers should stop at several altitudes to allow a greater degree of acclimatization.
  • Graded ascent: Slow ascents allow partial acclimatization. Spend one or two nights at moderate altitude (1,200 -2,400m). At altitudes above 2,400m, sleep no more than 300m above the previous night’s sleeping altitude.

Refer to the Elevation Measurements Table:

Elevation Measurement ChartPersonal Protective Measures

Basic Personal Protective Measures (PPMs) and good personal hygiene can significantly reduce personal discomfort, the chance of becoming pregnant, and the threat of getting and spreading infectious diseases (meningitis, flu, tuberculosis, colds) and sexually transmitted diseases (HIV, chlamydia, herpes).

USAPHC Technical Guide 281 – Guide to Female Soldier Readiness addresses the unique healthcare and environmental situations female Soldiers encounter to help ensure readiness and good health before, during, and after deployment.

Basic PPMs and personal hygiene include:
  • Clean hands thoroughly before touching your face, eating, and after using the latrine. Use alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear clean, well fitting underwear (preferably cotton). Change underwear at least once daily; women using panty-liners should change them often, especially during menstrual cycles (liners are not a substitute for clean underwear).
  • Use unscented health care products (soaps, deodorants). Scented products may cause skin irritation and attract biting and stinging insects.
  • Trim your fingernails and toenails regularly.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day.
  • Dry thoroughly after showering.
  • Keep feet dry and use anti-fungal powder to avoid trench foot and athlete’s foot.
  • Wear clean, dry uniforms; change socks at least once daily.
  • Seek medical care for sores, discharge, swelling, or lumps in the vaginal area or on the penis; painful, uncomfortable or burning urination; lower abdominal pain, or menstrual cycle with heavy bleeding or lasting longer than 10 days.
  • Avoid overcrowding in living areas – allow at least 72 square feet of floor space per person when sleeping. Ensure good ventilation, sleep head-to-toe in staggered bunks.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Visit a healthcare provider or go to sick call if you experience flu-like symptoms or nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Dispose of trash, garbage, and human waste (Reference Field Sanitation Team guidance in FM 21-10).

Sexual Activity

  • Commanders may prohibit sexual activity during military operations to maintain good order and discipline, and to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy.
  • The best choice is to avoid sexual activity.
  • Always use condoms during sex, regardless of other measures you choose. Condoms reduce the risk of STDs and pregnancy.
  • Do not reuse condoms – use a new condom during each sexual encounter.
  • Use an effective method of birth control every time. For example: the pill, birth control patch, birth control vaginal ring, diaphragm, condom, IUD.

Nutrition Guidelines

Good nutrition is a combat multiplier. Consuming adequate food and fluids each day is important to maximize physical and mental performance. They will provide you with energy to keep you alert for the long hours, strenuous work, and extreme environmental conditions you may encounter. Poor nutrition in extreme conditions (hot, cold, high altitude) can lead to fatigue, rapid weight loss, injury, illness, and dehydration.

  • To get a balance of nutrients eat some of everything served by field kitchens or in your field ration.
  • Eat whenever you have the chance, even when you don’t feel like it. Aim for 3 meals a day and plan for snacks. Avoid skipping meals and dieting.
  • Drink fluids frequently, even when you are not thirsty. Monitor the color of your urine and watch for signs of dehydration.

Vector-borne Disease Guidelines

In nearly all parts of the world, all year long, arthropods (insects, ticks, and mites) that can transmit diseases exist. Take the following measures to reduce the risk of diseases transmitted by biting arthropods, including mosquitoes (dengue, malaria, viral encephalitis), sand flies (sand fly fever, leishmaniasis), and ticks (Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, human ehrlichioses).

  • Use the DOD Insect Repellent System to prevent bites from insects. This System combines the use of DOD-approved insect repellents for skin and clothing with properly worn uniforms.
  • Minimize exposure to insects: wear your uniform with the sleeves down, wrist openings secured, and collar closed; tuck the pant leg into the boot or into the sock; wear uniform loosely, with an undershirt.
  • Apply DEET in a thin layer over the forearms, upper arms, face, neck, ears, and other exposed areas. Do not apply to the eyes and lips, or to sensitive or damaged skin.
  • Permethrin is for use on clothing and bed nets only. Do not apply permethrin directly to skin.
  • Sleep or rest under a bed net treated with permethrin. Set up the bed net so that it does not touch the sleeping person. Always leave the bed net tucked under the mattress or sleeping bag.
  • Avoid contact with animals (alive or dead).
  • Perform routine “buddy-checks” for ticks.
  • Take malaria prevention medicine as directed.

Protection From Insects

**Please note: Soldiers cannot treat their Flame Resistant Army Combat Uniforms (FR ACUs) or Nomex ACUs with permethrin in the field. Since 2010, deploying Soldiers are issued FR ACU-Ps (uniforms that have been factory treated with permethrin). If unsure of the uniform type, check the Use and Care Label on the inside of the garment.

Hazardous Animals and Plants

Stay clear of buildings infested with rodents. Do not tolerate rodents in the unit area. Nesting and feeding rodents can contaminate food and they can spread serious life-threatening diseases such as Hantavirus or plague.

  • Do not allow trash or garbage to accumulate in unit areas.
  • Seal openings 1/4-inch (the width of a pencil) or greater to prevent rodents from entering buildings.
  • Do NOT inhale dust when clearing or cleaning unused areas (before sweeping, mist areas with water or, preferably, a disinfectant solution of 3 ounces of liquid bleach per gallon of water).
  • Promptly remove dead rodents from the area (use disposable gloves or plastic bags over the hands when handling any dead animal, and place the dead animal in a plastic bag prior to disposal).
  • Seek immediate medical attention if bitten or scratched by a rodent or other animal, or if you experience difficulty breathing or flu-like symptoms.

Animals and Plants

  • Animals can transmit rabies and other diseases.
  • Avoid contact with all animals (dead or alive).
  • Some snakes, spiders and other arthropods (including scorpions, centipedes, ants, bees, caterpillars, and wasps) have potentially dangerous venoms.
  • Assume that any snake you encounter is venomous and do not handle.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if bitten or stung by any animal or insect; untreated snakebites may cause serious illness or death within one hour.
  • Some plants have thorns, stinging hairs, or toxic resins that may puncture the skin or cause skin irritation, rashes or infections.
  • Discourage pests by promptly and properly disposing of trash.
  • Do not eat or store food in living areas.
  • Do not keep animal mascots or pets.
  • Avoid sleeping on the ground.
  • Shake out boots, bedding, and clothing before use, and never walk barefoot.
  • Clean your skin and clothing with soap and water after contact with animals or harmful plants.

Foodborne and Waterborne Disease


Foodborne DiseasesFood

Consuming food from unapproved sources or food items that have been improperly stored, prepared, held, or served can result in life-threatening illness. Reduce the risk of diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and other illnesses by following basic personal protective measures:

  • Only consume food, water and ice from U.S. military-approved sources.
  • Avoid high-risk food (fresh eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, fruits/vegetables grown on or in the ground, uncooked vegetables, raw or undercooked meats).
  • If non-approved foods must be consumed, then choose low risk foods like baked goods (bread), fruit grown on trees with thick peels (wash thoroughly with safe water before consuming), or boiled food (rice, vegetables).
  • Wash your hands before handling food. If soap and water are not available, then use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

Water and ice may carry disease-causing organisms.  Preventive medicine or veterinary personnel must inspect and approve ALL water supplies (water used for drinking, cooking, personal hygiene, and ice) before use.

  • IN AN EXTREME EMERGENCY SITUATION if you must use non-approved water (untreated lakes, rivers, streams, or questionable OCONUS municipal water supplies), then disinfect following one of the approved methods:
  • Use calcium hypochlorite at 2.0 parts per million (ppm) measured after 30 minutes contact time and optimally 1.0 ppm chlorine residual at point of consumption.
  • Use Chlor-Floc™ or iodine tablets (follow label instructions).
  • Boil water (full boil) for 1-2 minutes (3 minutes at altitudes greater than 2000 meters or 6560 feet). Allow to cool and store in covered container. If the water appears cloudy, filter it through a clean cloth prior to boiling.
  • Add two to four drops of ordinary household chlorine bleach (5-7%) per quart of water and wait 30 minutes before drinking.
  • Only drink bottled water that has been approved by preventive medicine or veterinary personnel. Inspect all bottled water before drinking (using bottled water does not guarantee purity). Bottled water supplies should be obtained from Army-approved bottling facilities.
  • NOTE: Bottled water does not generally contain a disinfecting residual. Opened bottles should be consumed at the time of opening and not held or stored for later consumption.
  • If possible, store bottled water in a cool, dry facility. Avoid storing bottled water in direct sunlight. Use on a first into storage, first out for consumption protocol.
  • Follow shelf-life guidelines. Most bottled water manufacturers now use date stamps. If stored properly, bottled waters generally have a 1-year shelf life.

Note: Canals, lakes, rivers, and streams may be contaminated with industrial chemicals/wastes, sewage, or animal wastes. Avoid unnecessary bathing, swimming or wading. If tactical situations require entering water, then cover all exposed skin and wear boots or shoes to avoid unnecessary contact with water. After exposure, dry vigorously and change clothing. Preventive medicine should conduct a sanitary survey of any natural bodies of water designated for swimming to ensure there are no wastewater sources impacting the water quality.

Hearing Protection

You must use properly fitted hearing protection during military operations. Exposure to high-intensity noise, especially weapons fire, can cause permanent hearing loss. Good hearing is essential to mission success. The Combat Arms Earplug (CAE) protects you from the impulse noise from weapons fire and also allows clear communications and detection of mission-related sounds, such as footsteps, when impulse noise is not present. Noise muffs and pre-formed or foam earplugs are also very effective at preventing noise-induced hearing loss, but they do not preserve your ability to maintain situational awareness in a tactical environment.

Oral Health

  • The risk of tooth decay and gum disease increases during deployments. High amounts of starch and sugar in rations and limited opportunity to brush make it difficult to maintain good oral health.
  • Floss once a day. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. In difficult tactical environments brush or wipe teeth with a cloth at least once a day.
  • You can brush without running water. Apply toothpaste to the dry toothbrush and brush all of your teeth
  • DO NOT rinse, eat or drink for 30 minutes after brushing. Spit several times to remove excess toothpaste.
  • Limit consumption of sugary snacks or drinks to meal times. If you cannot brush your teeth after having sugary snacks or drinks, then rinse your mouth with water.
  • Chew xylitol gum (included in MREs) 3-5 times a day, after meals or snacks.
  • Avoid tobacco (tobacco causes gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer).
  • When working outside, use lip balm with sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher).


Deployment is stressful. Any Soldier can run into rough times. Common Combat Operational Stress Reactions include: anxiety, irritability, inability to focus or remember details, change in behavior, change in appetite, change in sleep patterns, feelings of despair, inability to sleep, jumpiness, cold sweats, and a lack of energy.

Certain actions can help you cope with combat stress:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, maintain good nutrition, and stay physically fit.
  • Sleep at least 7-8 hours during each 24 hour period, if possible.
  • Learn effective relaxation techniques like playing cards or sports, keeping a diary, taking slow deep breaths, reading a book, or hanging out with friends.
  • If things are out of control, talk to your immediate supervisor, unit leaders, Chaplain, medical care providers, mental health officers, or specialists in the Combat Stress Control teams.
  • If you are worried that your battle buddy is thinking about committing suicide or hurting himself or herself, then act immediately!
  • ASK your battle buddy: “Are you thinking about killing yourself or someone else?”
  • CARE for your battle buddy: Actively listening may produce relief from the pain. Calmly control the situation. Do not use force.
  • ESCORT your buddy immediately to your chain of command, a Chaplain, a behavioral health professional, or a primary care provider. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BUDDY ALONE.
  • Get help immediately! A suicidal person needs immediate attention.

Army Guide To Deployment Health

Back Cover

Health Threats In Austere Environments

Like soldiers in the field, Preppers living in austere environments are vulnerable a myriad of health risks.  This introduction discusses the health threats in austere environments and introduces the concept of preventive health measures.  We will periodically add to this introduction with additional articles that go more in depth.  Make sure to use the subscribe tool on the top right of this page so you don’t miss any of our articles.

Health Threats in Austere Environments

While military servicemen and women can expect significant financial backing, a robust support system, an international resupply network and the chance to return to civilization periodically to rest and recover, the Prepper potentially faces the risks but without the logistical support…be careful. We know from historical accounts of wars, natural and man-made disasters that the majority of casualties within the war or disaster zone are not the results of combat or the precipitating event, but rather the result of diseases and environmental injuries. The physical, mental and environmental stresses of post disaster and survival situations present significant challenges to the Prepper both in the planning and in the execution phase.  The Prepper and Prepper Group must plan for and maintain basic hygiene in order to remain healthy and survive to a ripe old age. Prepper Health Threats Include

  • Endemic diseases
  • Food and waterborne pathogens
  • Hazardous plants and animals
  • Entomological hazards
  • Toxins and industrial waste
  • Mental stress
  • Hazardous and damaging noise
  • Climatic or environmental hazards

Preventive Health Measures

OuthousePreventive health measures are simple, common sense actions that every Prepper can perform in order to keep him or herself and his or her companions and community healthy. Maintaining personal hygiene as well as a hygienic homestead, bug out location or bivouac site using preventive health measures will significantly reduce the likelihood of and/or spread of disease or the occurrence of environmental injuries.  If you are operating as part of a Prepper Group or Prepper Family make sure that the imposition of hygiene discipline is understood by and enforced on all. The principles of preventive health measures applicable to Prepper Groups and Families are—

  • Preppers utilize individual preventivehealth measures in their day to day activities
  • The Prepper Group member responsible for group health trains individual members in preventive health measures and advises group leader on health risks as well as preventive health requirements and compliance
  • Prepper leaders and plan for and enforces preventive health measures.

Below are a few examples of preventive health measures that should be considered by every Prepper and Prepper Group: Individual Preventive Health Measures

  • Only drink from water made potable through treatment or filtration
  • Follow proper hand washing techniques after using bathroom/latrine/outhouse/cat-hole, before preparing food, before eating and frequently in between
  • Brush teeth at least twice daily.  Floss regularly.
  • Relieve yourself only in designated areas…bathroom/latrine/outhouse, etc.
  • If on the move:  Utilize cat-holes for solid waste and don’t relieve yourself within 100 feet of water sources or bivouac area
  • Shower or bathe at least weekly and more often if possible.

Group Preventive Health Measures

  • Make arrangements for the procurement and purification of water
  • Stock soap, shampoo, toothpaste and floss.  Have recipes or knowledge to manufacture once supplies run out.
  • Arrange for hand washing stations at bathroom/latrine/outhouse sites, outside dining areas and in food preparation areas.
  • Place properly constructed outhouses at least 100 feet from water sources or areas housing people.
  • Establish bathing and/or shower points

Today’s article on Health Threats In Austere Environments was based largely on Army Techniques Publication No. 4-25-12 (ATP 4-25-12) Unit Field Sanitation Teams, April 2014 edition which has been ‘Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.’

M16 Maintenance Infographic Comic

Long before the term Infographic came into widespread use the military learned the value of using images to teach skills to young recruits.  Many of these manuals, like this M16 Maintenance Infographic (The M16A1 Rifle, Operation & Preventive Maintenance DA Pam 750-30) were written as comic books complete with well endowed women and full on innuendo.  Click on the image below to page through the comic/manual.  This particular example of Military Pedagogy was published in 1969, long before the military became more preoccupied with political correctness than warfighting but it does have some good information even if a few of the tools described are a little dated.  Additionally, check out the list below the graphics for a selection of current AR maintenance tools and supplies… some haven’t changed a lot…some are huge improvements over what we had 45 years ago.

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GI Cleaning Kit:

Better Cleaning Kit:

This is the one I carried in Iraq…

Good Carrying Case:

Armored Carrying Case:


Front Sight Tool:

Rails & Rail Covers:

Armorer’s Tools:

Old School GI Magazine Pouch:

AR15/M16 Speedloader Kit:

Cleaning Supplies:

AR Magazine:
TAPCO® 30-rd. AR-15 Magazine

 Ammunition Suppliers:

Challenge & Password For Preppers

Here on Prepography we regularly learn to be better Preppers by adapting military skills to preparedness uses… or as we refer to it, Military Pedagogy.  Today we’re adapting the Skill Level 1 Army Task of ‘Challenge & Password’ to the needs of the prepper.

Scenario:  About six weeks ago it finally happened, the currency collapsed and since then the security situation has rapidly deteriorated. Over the weeks since the precipitating event crime has begun to run rampant as people grow more and more desperate to fill their and their family’s bellies. At some point the majority of the police officers realized that their entire paycheck couldn’t even buy their family a single loaf of bread and every minute they spent protecting your family was one that put their own family at risk. Now the few police that are reporting for duty can’t adequately keep the security situation from spiraling out of control. You’ve been up the last 20 hours warning strangers away from your home and watching for a couple of friends you’re expecting to come shelter with you and your family. You sure hope they arrive soon because you’re not sure you can stay awake much longer and the moon will soon set… dropping the neighborhood into total darkness now that the power’s out. Finally, you see the outline of three people headed directly for your home…your friends must have picked up another on the way. It sure looks like Jim and Carol walking in and all you need to do to confirm it is hear their voice so you call out. “Who’s there?” and receive the expected reply “It’s me.” With great relief you step out from your hide and walk up to meet three people that you suddenly realize are strangers as they grab you and take away your rifle.

Challenge & Password is a technique used by military forces to recognize friendly forces in hostile environments or while guarding resources.  While the need for such a technique when encountering a soldier from an adjacent unit that you haven’t met before is apparent this technique also assists service members in recognizing friendlies in low light and no light situations.  As a Prepper you may believe that you will always recognize those you should let in…in reality it’s very easy for a tired and hopeful mind to ‘see’ what you hope or expect to see when the reality is something else entirely… even in good lighting.  Challenge & Password and the other recognition techniques we’ll explore today are meant to double-check what your eyes and ears are telling you to ensure that those really are friendlies walking up on your position.

Challenge & Password

Challenge & Password is nothing more than a sign and countersign that let’s two parties recognize each other as friendlies.  Here’s how it works:

  1. The stationary party sees and/or hears the traveling party walking up on his/her position and observes until the other party is vulnerable in the open and within voice range then calls out “HALT”  just loud enough to be heard by that party and hopefully no one else.  This command should be called out from a position of safety where you can cover the other party with any weapons you may have.  If you think that this might be your party or friendlies that know the procedure continue, otherwise send them on their way. At this point the other party takes one of several actions that telegraph their intentions but the most likely results are that they run, they fight or they halt.
  2. Assuming that the other party halts you should command the party to lower their weapons or take other actions as required to assure your safety before directing one member to “ADVANCE AND BE RECOGNIZED.”  During this entire procedure make sure to continually observe the other party and your surroundings for your own and your family or party’s safety.  Additionally, make sure to use a clear, commanding voice when giving these instructions…do not show weakness or hesitancy.
  3. Once the indicated person has advanced far enough that you can easily talk with him or her in a low tone that doesn’t carry to hidden watchers you once again command “HALT.”
  4. At this point you present the Challenge in a low voice.  For this example we’ll use the Challenge, ‘Thrifty’ and the Password, ‘Flower.’  As mentioned, in a low voice you clearly Challenge, “THRIFTY” and wait for the response.  Any response but ‘Flower’ indicates that this is not your party and should be sent on their way.  A proper response allows you to bring the person in.
  5. If there are multiple members of the party entering your area then have the person you have vetted individually identify and bring in each person to make sure that there are no straphangers.
Note: that a Challenge & Password should be two words that are unrelated and form an unusual phrase as in you’d be unlikely to use them together. ‘Thrifty Flower’ is a great example of how a Challenge & Password should work but ‘World Series.’ ‘Puddle Jumper’ or ‘Fig Newtons’ are examples of poor choices because there is a chance that an unknown party could actually guess the proper password response. At the end of this article is a series of words that could be combined to form properly unusual phrases for your Challenge & Password.
Challenge & Password combinations should be changed on a set schedule once usage becomes commonplace and necessary. Determine the schedule based on the security situation in your area.

The Running Password

As you can guess by the description of the Challenge & Password procedure above…it takes a while to do it right.  If you’re being chased and need to get to safety quickly you use the ‘Running Password.’  There is no time for subtleties when you are running for your life so as you run across the security perimeter you shout the Running Password to make sure that the friendlies know you’re coming and know that you’re a ‘good guy.’

Needless to say make sure keep an eye out for tailgaters following and mimicking your guy yelling the Running Password.  Additionally, make sure to change the Running Password as soon as it’s used.

Other Recognition Codes

Now that we’ve discussed the use of both Challenge & Password and the Running Password let’s explore some other potential recognition codes for use in a security compromised environment.

Noise or Knock Signals

Knock CodeIn Matthew Bracken’s near future novel, Enemies Foreign And Domestic the protagonists gain entry to the bad guy’s rec room by mimicking the distinctive knock that the bad guys were using as a recognition code to gain entry.  Needless to say, loudly knocking out ‘shave and a haircut’ wasn’t very effective for the bad guys.  However, I can foresee certain situations where a noise or knock code would be an appropriate recognition signal.

Two places I can imagine a knock code being useful are if you are forced to shelter in an apartment or an industrial area.  In an apartment where multiple groups and families have access to common areas like hallways, your security perimeter by necessity, may have to be your own four walls and door.  In an industrial area you may also have to limit your security perimeter to the four walls if there’s not a more appropriate perimeter like a security fence or you have limited personnel to secure your building.

In designing a recognition code from knocks, make sure to knock as lightly as practical so as to reduce the chance of being overheard.  Additionally, I recommend using a mathematical code to reduce the likelihood of the bad guys figuring out how to get in and allow each party to recognize that the other is the desired party.  Here’s how it works:

  1. The party outside knocks in four knock increments by prior arrangement.  Think of this as announcing the outside party’s presence.
  2. The inside party responds with 2-5 knocks (randomly chosen)…let’s say 2 knocks in our example.  This is the Challenge.
  3. The outside party responds with one less knock than the inside party used.  For instance if the inside party knocked three times than the outside party responds with (3-1) 2 knocks.  This is the Response.
  4. If you want to make sure that the inside party is as expected you could add another Response by adding or subtracting one knock from the previous Response.
It’s important to keep in mind while telegraphing your location by knocking that most walls and virtually every door are permeable to shots fired of sufficient caliber.

Panels or Flags

An interesting recognition system that we tested while I was in the 82nd Airborne Division (we used them for reconstitution after a jump) were panels.  By using placards or flags you can signal a simple message like “friendlies here,” “DANGER,” “meet here” or “meet at X.”

Panels used in this manner do lack the Challenge and Response mechanism of the other techniques we’re discussing but may serve a useful purpose and maritime military units have historically used flags for Sign and Countersign (Challenge & Password) at sea.


One if by land and two if by sea may be familiar to you from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride” and demonstrates the successful use of lights for signaling but lights present problems when used as recognition codes because they can be seen so well over great distances at night.  If you do determine that you must use lights for recognition codes I recommend using a mathematical code as described in Knock Signals above or perhaps the use of distinctive colored lenses to make mimicry less likely or successful.

Duress Codes

An interesting addendum and safety mechanism that can be added to any of the techniques discussed above is the addition of a Duress Code.  A Duress Code signals to the other party that the person signaling is under duress and being forced to make the contact under threat.  A Duress Code signals the other party to be wary and set a trap for the bad actors forcing the hand of the signaler.  A Duress Code could be a word, a phrase, a series of knocks, ‘body language,’ a series of knocks or a particular color of light.  Duress Codes could also be outgoing to warn a party coming into a presumed safe area and could be signaled by a light in a particular window, a flag or panel or some other noticeable change in the environment that will only have meaning to those parties ‘read into’ the code.

We’ve used the concept of the Duress Code with all of my daughters whereby they could call us and utter an innocuous code phrase and we would drop everything and come retrieve them from whatever mischief their friends had in mind.  My daughters could extract themselves from unsavory or dangerous situations without losing face and they could blame their desertion on their pesky parents.


Listed above are some of the considerations and mechanisms of practical implementation of a Challenge & Password system.  Proper implementation of a Challenge & Password system may not only save your life but may also save the lives of those closest to you.  Take some time to think about how you would implement such a system now so that you could rapidly transition to using a system if you needed one… better yet, discuss the system with your family or group and practice it’s use.  Just remember as you develop your system that there’s no need to completely reinvent the wheel if you take these lessons from what has worked for military forces for thousands of years.  Let me know how it goes!


Sample Challenges & Passwords

Listed below are some sample Challenge and Password phrases to serve as examples and get you started developing your own system.

Lofty Snakeskin
Scramble Proof
Baggage Quality
Daughter Interest
Calorie European
Picture Staircase
Dandelion Sky
Eyesight Elbow
Temporary Scrubby
Regular Salmon
Firewood Ceiling
Beautiful Newspaper


Simple Sabotage – OSS Field Manual #3 Part 5

Today we present the fifth and final installment of our serial publication of OSS Field Manual #3 covering “Simple Sabotage.”  This sabotage manual was issued by the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Office of Strategic services or OSS on 17 January 1944 and presents OSS doctrine for encouraging acts of Simple Sabotage by soldiers and civilians within the Axis controlled territories.  Specific Suggestions for Simple Sabotage isn’t just a peek into the past to look at the war effort but also a peek at what the workplace was like in mid-century Europe.  Drop me a line and let me know what you think about Simple Sabotage and if you’d like to see more ‘obsolete’ military manual excerpts.

Remember that acting on any of the techniques presented here would not be good for your job security.  This information is presented for historical and entertainment purposes only. (more…)

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