The concept of planning is easily grasped; everyone makes plans. We plan long and short term, usually making and changing plans throughout day, every day as circumstances demand. Even before we go to sleep we likely have a plan for the following day. Part of a being a member of the prepper community dictates you should consider advanced preparation and planning. As you advance your preparation skills the development of a strategic plan contingent on the environment becomes more important. As such, you will find this contingency plan can be adapted to every aspect of your life and to all activities.
The type of planning I refer to is known in the military arena as a five-point contingency plan. Such forward thinking and application to daily life is certainly a step toward the warrior mindset we are trying to achieve. Can you live in this type of mindset? It sounds involved but once you start to train yourself and those you love, it is not that difficult, nor does it distract from casual daily life; ultimately, it will enhance your work. To get a better understanding here’s a quick example of contingency plan implementation on a recent trip my wife and I took to a resort in the Middle East. The threat level was low; however, there was an unexpected, significant storm hitting the island during our stay. Fortunately for me (my wife has wanted to visit this island for six years), we were lucky to catch the last boat out before all marine transport ceased for two days, so weather factored into our planning, as well as any type of terrorist attack.
My wife and I usually stay together but we do make it a habit to have a plan in case we are separated due to any sudden scenario. You never know when something is going to happen, it could be when one of you goes to the washroom, or runs back up to the hotel room to fetch something. The concept on the table for the purposes of this article takes this even further and applies more to a team of 4 or more people; however, it can be used between two people. The concept of the five-point contingency plan, also known as “GWOTA,” (obviously, in the military we have a profound love for acronyms) is this…
G – Going, where am I going?
O – Others, who am I taking with me?
T – Time, what time will I return?
W - What happens if I do not return?
A – Attack, what happens if you or I get attacked?
As civilians, we can learn from the military community and use successful tools to our advantage. For you, it is impossible to know where or when something could strike and having a quick but well thought out contingency plan in your prepper toolbox may be the difference between going home that night or a stay in the hospital (or worse). The GOTWA is useful especially in smaller teams when you spilt assets (for instance, your family at a theme park or after a natural or a manmade disaster) and assists to control members’ movements and provides a continued example of leadership. As the leader, you are responsible for ensuring everyone knows your location at all times and if you aren’t going to be present, you should establish a chain of command.
Here is an example: As I set this situation up, consider you have lost cellular communication for whatever reason, leaving you with no means to talk to your team members or to your family members. A major virus outbreak has crippled the Northeast and killed thousands of people within a few days. Fortunately, you have managed to escape New York City and reached the Catskills area where you are moving to a cabin owned by a family friend currently living in California. You have been there dozens of times and know its location and surroundings well. Furthermore, the cabin is isolated in a rural setting, which you are confident is the best place to harbor up in this situation. You know the cabin is rarely used and should be vacant.
You’re traveling with your family of four and another couple to whom you are close but they lack any prior survival training. You are now a team of 6 and have stopped at a safe point about 30 minutes away from the cabin. Thinking ahead, you do not want to commit the entire team to drive to the cabin without first conducting a reconnaissance of the area and the cabin. Since you know the area best, you will lead mission. You select your 16-year old son who has been prepared by you for this type of situation. Your wife will stay with the kids and friends and will act as the next person in charge, as she too has been prepared for this type of challenging situation. You’re in a safe location and want to take the time to discuss what is going to happen when you reach the final departure point. Before you and your son leave the group, it may be necessary to make a crude map on the ground to help everyone understand the layout or even conduct a rehearsal if it will enhance mission success. These extra steps are dependent on the circumstances you are facing; however, this is a great opportunity to use the five-point contingency plan.
Go – I will conduct a leader’s reconnaissance to the cabin by foot (discuss the route you’re taking and how you will reenter the link up point)
Others – Two of us will go, I am taking my son
Time – We will return in one hour back to the release point
What - What if we do not return – If we do not return in an hour, wait one hour more. If we still do not return, move to the alternate rally point and wait 6 hours. If we still do not return send another team out to attempt to locate us by following our route and moving to our observation point at the Southwest corner or the cabin.
Attack – If the leader’s reconnaissance team is attacked or compromised, move your team to the alternate link up point and wait for the six-hour window. If you are attacked or compromised move to the alternate link up point and we will join you (this can continue to go more in detail but this is the direction you want to take).
While this may sound simple it is an exercise that all military units use and for good reason… it works! The situation I presented is extreme and not all plans have to be this detailed in every situation, but I would say you would be well advised to have a no-communication-plan no matter where you are (the mall, a theme park, or after a major event). Admittedly, humans have become too reliant on our cell phones (just glance around any public setting to see what I mean). In New York City on September 11, 2001, it was not long before the mobile phone network was overwhelmed rendering cell phone communication impossible. Now that public payphones went to the abyss of antiquated technology with 8-track tape players when the cell phone system fails, a no-communication plan is the next best thing.
Applying this to your daily life may include emergency action plans such as what to do during a hurricane, a tornado, or in other natural disasters. You should plan link up points outside your home as well, in case of separation and any restrictions returning home. By having a contingency plan, you up your chances for success, allowing your mind to plan rapidly and adjust to environments. Consider you’re working in an office environment as the section manger. Your job is to provide direction to your co-workers who often require your approval to move forward in their daily productivity. Thus, if you are gone from your office they may become less productive in their daily activities without you. The five-point contingency plan can work as simple as this:
G-Where are you going? Let us say you are called into a meeting with your boss, you need to advise others of this.
O-Who is going with you? You advise the team you are taking Mark from sales with you to the meeting.
T-How long do you expect to be gone? The meeting should take approximately one hour.
W-What should happen if you do not return within that hour? Continue with your work and if you can appoint someone under you with authority you should do so. In this way productivity is not affected when you are absent.
A-What if you are taken away for much longer than expected? Establish a no communication plan and make a meeting for later in the day when you know you’ll be able to attend so everyone is not waiting for your return.
Remember, to avoid making you and your subordinates unprepared, as a leader you should never depart without leaving others with instructions. The worst possible answer your subordinates could possibly give to your superior (who just happens to be looking for you at that very moment) is, “I don’t know where he is”. Obviously, this is intensified in direr circumstances brought by a disaster and your role as a leader in any situation demands you share your location… even better if you do it GWOTA-style.