Sunday, August 28, 2011

All hands man your battlestations

Saturday morning started with light to moderate rain and wind before dawn. Both increased over the next 12-14 hours until dying off around 0200 Sunday morning. I went out around 1300 for a little famous fried chicken from Popeye's, much to the chagrin of my wife who wanted me to hang out at the house. Damn that was some good chicken and biscuits, she enjoyed them too.

The local conditions were not that bad at the time. A few spots on major roadways with minimal standing water, primarily a hydroplane issue at posted speed limits but not at anything below and definitely no threat of a flooded vehicle or float away. Wind in open roadways was not significant but 'seemed' much worse in the neighborhoods and around structures. Minimal debris was present and what was present was finger sized branches and smaller.

After chowing down and deciding to stay in unless an emergency required leaving the house I grabbed a little shut eye in preparation for the potential of power outages and any complicating factor that would come with LE/FIRE/EMS being task saturated over the next few hours to days. As I was dosing off I noticed the lights flickering off and on but no sustained outage. Around 1530 I woke up to a slightly warmer house with no power. After a quick check of the exterior and neighborhood I found the outage was not isolated to our house and no damage had been sustained. Water and sewer services were still intact and cell voice and data were still up.

By this time larger organic debris was coming down with numerous branches in the size range of 4-8" in diameter coming down. By 1700 a tree with an estimated diameter of 20" fell into a house down the block causing moderate structural damage. Fire Department was able to respond and perform a basic investigation with no other services rendered on scene, residents made the decision to evacuate and left shortly after the single FD unit cleared up.

As there wasn't much for us to do we broke out the board games I had picked up a number of years ago for morale preps. I had found these on sale at one of the big box stores and picked them up for pretty cheap. They don't require batteries and most use large font for easy reading under candle light. We started out playing Sorry, I lost the first round and won the second. Later we would play Scrabble, I lost by just over 40 points. Can't win'em all...
From Blog album

For dinner we used the grill and a camp stove to prepare a tasty meal of bacon wrapped chicken kabobs, broccoli, and instant mashed potatoes. An excellent meal while we relaxed inside and out of the elements.

Once the sun went down, we had another round of board games and keeping an eye on the goings on around the house. There was functionally no activity in the neighborhood and even with at least two neighbors running generators it was fairly easy hear any 'unnatural' noises. With overcast skies and little to no 'human light' I was still able to view good detail under NODs without the use of an illuminator.

With security measures in place we settled into our night routine. Around 0330 the power came back on windows were closed up and we returned to using AC and fans to maintain a comfortable temp. I checked the house for any issues with power coming back on line and found none. Kept an eye on other houses for any issues, not knowing if anyone had been cooking or sustained damage during the outage that may result in a fire. Nothing abnormal was observed for remainder of night.

Clean up has commenced throughout the day of debris. The house sustaining the tree fall had the tree removed by dusk today with a surprisingly quick response. The following are some maintains and improves:

-Assessment, plan/schedule, execute
-Stock up and inventory with rational goals
-Board games
-Candles with caution

-Do a better job of keeping cell phones plugged in during 'final hours'. This was a last minute thought.
-Make a sign to remind conservation of hot water. Water heaters are fairly well insulated and will keep water warm weven with power off for some time. I was able to take a quick shower around midnight and still had very hot water available after being nine hours into the outage. That being said, my lovely wife used a good bit of hot water washing dishes forgetting that our water heater was electric and not gas.
-Unplug electronics when power begins to flicker. I managed to kill a router by not unplugging it while power was blinking. Luckily I had a backup to get back online when power returned.

Overall our assessment was fairly accurate and our plan was appropriate. While we could have avoided minimal inconvenience by moving farther west and staying with friends/family/hotel it was completely unnecessary in my mind. The threat was fairly minimal even up to the last reports before we started getting rain. Had we needed to leave we had standard plans in place but this time bugging in was a perfectly functional plan.

All in all a great opportunity to work on preps and doing a run through.

Hopefully this has been helpful to some.

Until next time, stay sharp,


Friday, August 26, 2011

Calm before the storm

or panic, depending on your situational awareness and preparations. My list was pretty easy today. As you may remember from my schedule outline on Wednesday that I had the following to complete:

-Organize and inventory stocks. This is particularly important for the frig/freezer. Having an inventory will limit the number of times you have to open the unit to get food out for meals which will help to keep the cold air in and the warm air out.
-Fuel up vehicles. I would do this with a little time to spare and then top off just before the storm is about to hit. In the event a storm that isn't supposed to hit hard changes at the last minute you won't end up getting no fuel due to a run on the pumps. You also don't want to be forced into waiting in a 30 vehicle line with half a tank of gas as opposed to having the option to decide when you are down a days worth of driving from a full tank. For most that will be no more than a 1/4 tank.

Organizing was easy as most everything was pretty orderly since stocking the freezer with bottled water. Inventory went quickly as all our frozen foods had been bagged in meal sized quantities when we put them in the freezer, it was a simple matter of getting a count of each type of chow.

Fueling up was a little more interesting...
When I went to the bank today I had to go through the local strip center that had a Kroger (grocery store for those not in the south/east) and a gas station. The parking lot for Krogers was packed and the gas station had 3-4 cars in line for each pump. I had planned to top off after the bank because I was between 3/4 of a tank and full from daily errands since I filled up earlier in prep for the storm. I decided I would pass on the pumps at this location/time knowing I was going out to dinner later. As I passed by the gas station I noticed a number of people getting out of their vehicles while in line, obviously unhappy about being in line at 4:30 in the afternoon on a Friday as Irene moves up the coast.

I headed back to the house and the next gas station up the road only had four cars fueling up across 16 pumps. I pulled in and fueled up with ease, made a pass through the inside of the station and saw that they were well stocked on cases of water and their propane tank exchange rack was full of new tanks. Should I need to pick up any last minute items should the storm take a turn I had options that were potentially a better bet than the larger stores.

So, after taking care of what I needed to do both on the preps side and normal every day business I was ready for chow. The wife and I headed to dinner at a new favorite restaurant for some outstanding Cuban food. She asked if we had any other preps to take care of and we ran through the list and were good to go. The point is, I didn't have to wait in line at the gas station hoping to fill up my empty tank, I didn't have to spend my evening trying to play catch up, and I have a reasonable amount of preps based upon the expected threat. My rationale for preparedness is to limit disruption of daily life that includes impact both by last minute rushing around to get ready for a storm such as this or the direct effects of a disaster. Integrate your preps into daily life and it is not an interruption but just another task on the to-do list.

Until tomorrow, Stay Sharp,


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do your homework

Yesterday I posted some details about prep for hurricane Irene. I wanted to follow up on how the schedule is coming and add a few bits of info.

As you may have remembered, the following was my list for today:

-Exchange empty propane tank for grills. While I have a couple that I rotate through there is no sense in having an empty sitting around with a chance of needing it.
-Plus up on water and staples from the wholesale club for the time frame of event. While I usually fill up Klean Kanteens or Nalgenes from a filter having fresh bottled water available in smaller than gallon containers is helpful. Once the freezer and frig are stocked I fill the dead space with water. Once cool/cold they act as a buffer should the power go out.
-Plus up on any disposables that are down and add the expected time period of disruption.
-Address any issues found during walk around of structure.
-Secure any items that may be damaged by wind or water (either rain or expected flooding).

All goals were met for the day with relative ease and efficiency due to having a plan and schedule. This prevented being overwhelmed at the last minute. By the time the Virginia Department of Emergency Management announced that the Governor had declared a state of emergency via it's Facebook account the groceries and disposables had been purchased at the wholesale club and the list was half way done. No lines and less than $150 spent on items that will be used anyway. No waste.

Having VDEM as a 'Like' on Facebook allows me to keep up with info while on the move. Similar resources are likely available for your area as government agencies work to show functionality. Using social media is a much more streamlined avenue than some of the older methods such as websites, text messages, and hotlines.

In addition to seeing the VDEM updates I have kept up with which has detailed analytics of the storm. Remember that information is power and knowing where to get that information is key to not wasting time. I like to have both objective and subjective sources. While weather prediction is an educated guess in most cases I like to view the 'charts' as well as be able to check out what the media outlets have to say.

Anyway, time to get some shut eye. Until tomorrow.

Stay Sharp,


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Batten the hatches

As some may have noticed APC has moved. We are now located in Richmond, VA, a couple hours in from the coast. With Irene headed up the eastern seaboard I figured it would be a good time to make a few entries about how I get ready for potential disasters that have some lead time. I don't expect us to get much out of this storm based on predicted tracks but it doesn't take much effort or money to beef up preps. I say beef up because this is in addition to preps that are already in place for unexpected disasters.

Based on our location the most likely threats include short term power outages, minor flooding, minor wind damage, and traffic on major roadways from weather related accidents and mass movement of people from the coast. There is a very good chance we won't see anything more than a slight drizzle but a few extra groceries won't hurt.

Since we do first in/first out on groceries we generally don't get much more than a week or two down on staples. Anything that doesn't spoil (fresh veggies, fruits, milk, etc) or can be frozen to extend storage is bought in quantity either when on sale or at the local wholesale buyers club. I generally pick up the fresh stuff bi-weekly unless the schedule looks busy. This keeps a good amount of food on the shelf without it going bad and it is all items that my wife and I normally eat. What does this have to do with being prepared for a disaster? This buffers us from running out of food should the power go out or the local grocery store getting crushed from a tornado. Some households have no more than the next meal and a few condiments in the frig, we strive for around 30+ days of food in regular rotation. That is not 30+ days of MREs, that is 30+ days of real food before we have to move onto other resources.

I had the opportunity as a teenager to test this theory out in a legitimate hurricane hit. Living in North Carolina when hurricane Fran came through and shut the area down for a little over a week. Power was out for eight days and roads were blocked limiting travel by vehicle. Through using a generator for a few hours a day and doing a lot of cooking on the grill we ate well which was necessary considering the days were spent clearing the knee deep foliage and 40+ trees down around our house.

So, what will I be doing to prep for the possibility of a little trouble from Irene? Nothing really exciting but things that will make life a little more comfortable should we have a few days of power being out or roads being flooded and the like.

The current forecast has Irene passing Virginia between Saturday evening and Sunday evening. So the first step, which has already been done is to develop a threat assessment. Look at what the potential interruptions to daily life will be, how severe they will be, and how to mitigate the threat. We covered those above. Next is to develop a plan with a schedule to execute those last minute preparations so you aren't running around crazy at the last minute. The point is to minimize disruption of daily life as much as possible.

Over the last few days I have been building my threat assessment with plan and schedule. The following is my schedule of plans:

-Check fuel for camp stoves, grills, etc.
-Check batteries, etc.
-Check food stocks.
-Check status of misc disposables (TP, Soap, Shampoo, etc.)
-Check ammo, gear, etc.
-Review any to do list items that have been 'put off'.
-Perform a house walk around.

-Exchange empty propane tank for grills. While I have a couple that I rotate through there is no sense in having an empty sitting around with a chance of needing it.
-Plus up on water and staples from the wholesale club for the time frame of event. While I usually fill up Klean Kanteens or Nalgenes from a filter having fresh bottled water available in smaller than gallon containers is helpful. Once the freezer and frig are stocked I fill the dead space with water. Once cool/cold they act as a buffer should the power go out.
-Plus up on any disposables that are down and add the expected time period of disruption.
-Address any issues found during walk around of structure.
-Secure any items that may be damaged by wind or water (either rain or expected flooding).

-Organize and inventory stocks. This is particularly important for the frig/freezer. Having an inventory will limit the number of times you have to open the unit to get food out for meals which will help to keep the cold air in and the warm air out.
-Fuel up vehicles. I would do this with a little time to spare and then top off just before the storm is about to hit. In the event a storm that isn't supposed to hit hard changes at the last minute you won't end up getting no fuel due to a run on the pumps. You also don't want to be forced into waiting in a 30 vehicle line with half a tank of gas as opposed to having the option to decide when you are down a days worth of driving from a full tank. For most that will be no more than a 1/4 tank.

Saturday Early:
-Review weather reports.
-Update threat assessment.
-Address any 'holes' in plan.
-Sweep the house for laundry and dishes. Anything that would take water to perform.
-If you have a second bath with a bath tub consider blocking the drain and filling up with water. This allows you to have water for flushing toilets or basic clean up. I would suggest cleaning the tub first.

This event is a pretty easy one for us. There is a very low risk of issue and the issues are likely short term even if we took a hard hit. No one has recommended any kind of evacuation for our area and it doesn't look like any recommendations will come out. That being said though, the model of Assess, plan/schedule, execute works whether you are expecting a direct hit or you are on the fringe of the storm path. It is the details of the plan that will change based upon your assessment.

That is all for tonight, stay tuned for how this plays out. I will try to update the blog and facebook over the next week with any updates to how preps work out and any interruptions of service from APC. Remember this is a broad view and not a step by step. Much has been glossed over since many preps for unexpected events are integrated into daily to-dos.

Stay Sharp,


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Get some...

What: Multiple weapon familiarization
Where: BeaveRun Readiness Training Center
When: Aug 1-2, 2011

After taking some time off from contracting I have been looking to get back on a gig. I didn't want to show up to assessment and be the weakest link so I have begun getting back into shape and brushing up on skills that I can't do in the standard carbine/pistol/team tactics classes.

In early July I contacted 03humpalot to get an info dump on the Intermediate Machine Gun Operators Course and check on the next class date. At that time no classes were scheduled and Buck mentioned that there may be a chance for a less formal opportunity in the near future. A couple days later Buck advised that he and the staff at BRTC would be doing a couple days of range time to work on videos and photos for program development and advertising use and offered me an invitation to come up and get some time on the guns as well as a chance to check out the facility. I told him I was there and he advised on travel and lodging info.

I made my reservations at the local Holiday Inn in Beaver Falls, just a few miles from the facility (approximately 7 min drive). BeaveRun does have a special rate which will save you a couple of dollars. The town has most amenities that you would need while there for a class including a number of good mom and pop restaurants, a Walmart, and a number of gas stations and liquor/beer shops. I did see a gun store about a mile from the facility but didn't have time to drop in so not sure how much they have to offer in the way of last minute ammo needs or the like.

TD 1 was scheduled to start at 0900 in the class room. Directions to the facility were easy to navigate and when I arrived at the complex I checked in at the 'ECP' with security and was directed to the training building. I was a few minutes early and Buck and staff were there with Tacman71 and Wayneard were already there linking some PKM belts and catching up on old times.

We loaded up the little bit of gear that wasn't already staged at the range and headed out. Once on the range we setup some targets Tacman71 (Rob Tackett) had brought up to be used and setup a variety of 'areas' on the range to allow for shooting pistols, carbines, and machineguns on the range without conflict. While there are a number of ranges at the facility we worked on the 100m range which has (from memory) a covered concrete pad with integrated work areas at the primary firing line as well as concrete pads on the left side of the range at 25m, 50m, and 75m, allowing a variety of layouts for specific points of instruction. The entire range has a deep layer of crushed stone to allow for drainage and fight flooding when the weather turns wet. The berms are high and basically cut into a large hillside.

The range has ample target stands for paper and quite a bit of steel to allow for a wide variety of instruction and exercises.

Once on the range Buck took a solid couple hours to go over the 249 and 240B platforms with me. Having used these on previous contracts but not getting a lot of time on them I had a very basic knowledge of the platforms but had (and still have) a lot to learn. We covered the following (I am sure I am leaving something out):

-Concept of the system and how it is best applied
-Tear down, inspection points, and reassembly (user level) and function checks
-Lube points/pre-mission checks
-Setting the gun up for success for various missions as well as how to setup your gear for success (slings, belted ammo, emergency mag, etc)
-Platform options including the fixed and adjustable stock, standard and parasaw barrels, adjustable and fixed gas systems, iron sights and optics
-Mission application (vehicles, on foot PSD, on foot patrol, static op/lp, QRF, ambush) and adaption.
-Malfunction clearance and IADs
-Barrel changes
-Application of fire on target as a solo gun and in teams
-Rates of fire, bursts, barrel life

After discussing and practicing dry these things I got behind the platforms and we went through a number of drills to get the hands on and a feel for firing them from various positions.

In addition to the 240/249 Buck also brought out his personal PKM and went through the operation of that and we got a chance to shoot it as well. He has done some significant mods to it and it is a nice piece of hardware with quite a bit of weight reduction. Given the opportunity to customize one down range I would really like to set one up similar to his.

I easily reached all the goals I had set for getting familiar with systems and then some. Buck definitely knows his stuff and has the ability to communicate it.

Later in TD 1 we ran some pistol and carbine drills, shooting on the copious amounts of steel on the range and generally having a good time shooting a variety of guns that everyone had brought out including an M203. Buck ran through a run down on the 203 and we all got a chance to shoot quite a bit of training and practice rounds with a little competition to see who could get the most hits on steel at 100m.

Around 1700 we shut down for the day, packed gear, and headed off to clean up and have chow.

The next morning we hit the range again running more time on the guns and get video and photos of specific skills and procedures including running some vehicle down drills.

In addition to another solid day of shooting the 249/240B/203 Buck broke out a M24A1 with AAC (IIRC) can and everyone took turns shooting it as well. I am not much of a precision gun guy, I have one IBA bolt gun, but that SWS was pretty slick. We also rounded out with some more drills and general shooting.

I wan't to say thanks to Buck and Aaron from BRTC, Rob from Tacstrike, Wayneard, Mark S, Mark T, and the rest of the guys that came out. I learned a lot and had a kick ass time.

I hit the road after dinner on the 2nd and didn't get all the files but look for some pics and vids to follow.

In closing, be sure to check out BRTC and the classes they have to offer. The facility is great and the staff are knowledgeable and passionate about the work they do. A great combination.

Pics and Videos:

Early in the day, the pile kept growing...


Buck running the SAW


Rob on the PKM


Putting the 203 to work

Vehicle Counter Assault Drill (Static camera)

Vehicle Counter Assault Drill (CAT SAW Gunner helmet cam)

Buck testing out a new machinegunner go
bag from EGGROLL

On the note of steel...
I do not remember how many pieces Rob brought down for us to shoot but I would venture to say that spread across the 5-10 targets we cumulatively put 10-15k rounds (a lot of it being green tip 5.56) on the targets, most of it through the 249. All of them held up extremely well with zero plate penetrations and minimal pock marks.

As you can see in the vids a number of drills put us pretty close with excellent durability on the target side and no splash or spall on the shooter side.

We literally did everything we could with guns and the 203 to try and destroy them and they weathered the storm.

Until next time...

Stay sharp,


Friday, July 29, 2011


It's been a while. It has been pretty busy here at Austere Provisions Company as we work on expanding our product line up from trusted manufacturers as well as work on developing a number of new projects.

Keep an eye out here and on our Facebook page for news. The first item is a morale and mindset patch.
From Product Releases

A reminder to yourself and team mates that walking the warrior path is a thinking mans game and the ultimate weapon in dominating your environment is the brain.

This patch stemmed from a group of colleagues I am working with to bring some great new concepts to production to make it easier. Look for more details on this group at a later time.

One of the products that we are in final production with is a 2-1 sling device. I have had this idea on the drawing board since late 2007 - early 2008 time frame. At the time I was working in Iraq doing static security and I spent quite a bit of time in and out of vehicles, checking OP/LPs, walking posts or spending time at ECPs and the like. I preferred a single point sling for the ease of getting the gun on target but a two point was much more comfortable for 'walking the beat' and the combination of an adjustable sling (BFG VCAS or VTAC padded sling) and 'wrapping the gun up' made life easier when going hands on for searches or climbing ladders, etc. Not being satisfied with a one or the other solution I started brainstorming solutions. I came up with a couple of solutions and side lined the project while first getting APC stood up.

Fast forward to December 2010, I discussed this project with Clint Lynch of Sentinel Design and we started working on executing the concept. Below you can see the pre-production short run for testing.

From Product Releases

While I am a bit partial I will say that I am really stoked with how this turned out and can't wait to get these on the shelf. The first run is planned to be in FDE (Flat Dark Earth) followed by black as an option in later batches. As depicted in the picture the center hole is for slings with QD connections, the outer holes act both to reduce weight and allow HK hooks or mash hooks to be clipped in should you perform those parts or are using weapons that do not support QD connections. Speaking of weight reduction, the sample shown in the picture is functionally the same weight as a ITW fastex pair (male and female) so you shouldn't notice the extra weight on your sling. While there may be some variation in the production units I don't see it being much more than 0.01 ounce.

Once the first batch is done I will be sure to announce them through all of our channels and have a link to the website for purchase.

As development on other projects and expanding APC has taken quite a bit of time the blog has not had much information put out. Look for that to change, not just with product of the week but other topics of interest. So stay tuned and be sure to hit check out Facebook and the APC website.

Stay sharp,


Sunday, February 13, 2011


Austere Provisions was recently notified of the recall of the "Triad Sterile Lubricating Jelly" that we include in our trauma kits and attached to the nasal airways that we sell. Due to the fact that we provide these as give-aways for courses, charity events, and product demos we are trying to get the word out as far as possible. We will replace the lubricant packet at no cost to the customer/recipient of the kit but we need to know if you still have the kit in hand. So, if you have either an IC3, LMS Comprehensive kit, or individual nasal airway that you purchased from Austere Provisions Company please email me at for info on how to receive the replacement.

As of 02/13/2011 any kits or airways leaving the shop were stocked with a replacement equivalent component not effected by the recall.

Detailed information about the recall from the manufacturer:

This is to inform you of a product recall involving Sterile Lubricating Jelly manufactured by Triad Group.
This recall has been initiated due to concerns expressed by the Food and Drug Administration regarding the
validation of the gamma radiation sterilization cycles for these products. We are initiating this recall because use
of inadequately sterilized product might result in patient infection.
This recall extends to all Lots of Sterile Lubricating Jelly remaining within their labeled expiration dating (three
years), including all Lot numbers beginning with the digits 7, 8, 9, or 0. We began shipping the Lots of product
subject to this recall in January, 2007
Please immediately examine your inventory and quarantine product subject to recall – any stock of Sterile
Lubricating Jelly manufactured by Triad Group. In addition, if you may have further distributed this product, please
identify your customers and notify them at once of this product recall. Your notification to your customers may be
enhanced by including a copy of this recall notification letter.
This recall should be carried out to the user level. Your assistance is appreciated and necessary to prevent
potential patient harm.
Please complete and return the enclosed response form as soon as possible and return the recalled product to
Triad Group.
If you have any questions please call Triad Group Customer Service Monday through Friday, between the hours
of 8:30 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. Central Time: 262-538-2900 ext 2761.
This recall is being made with the knowledge of the Food and Drug Administration.
Yours truly,
Jack Waterman
Jack Waterman
Regulatory Affairs Manager


Thanks for your patience as we work to correct this issue,

Mike Griffin
Austere Provisions Company