I'm 48 years old. From the very point of my coming of age at 18, I was trained in the military ways of waging war ... not so much in terms of venturing out with a Bowie knife between my teeth, but as in how to surreptitiously gain a decided advantage over the enemy using cutting-edge intelligence technologies and insights.
Back in the day, the enemy was clear and well-defined. We were nose to nose with the Warsaw Pact, and during the days of the Cold War, intell was the primary theater for hostilities. Engagement with the enemy was all about dealing with the knowledge that the stakes were as high as humanly possible ... daily, with every weave, duck, and feint.
Today, most say the free ideologies of western society won that war. That communism and the Soviet Union backed down and turned over a new leaf. That we the victors were able to triumphantly beat swords into ploughshares. That mankind somehow crossed over into a higher plane where major hostilities betweeen global powers and subsequent devastation are no longer to be feared.
Well ... count me a cynic on this one ... but I choose not to turn my back, even today, on those who once held me steady in the crosshairs. But my intention here is not to try to convince anyone of the ongoing threat from marxist powers, but rather to address 21st-century warfare risks of all types for Americans at home today.
We all know deep down that we are vulnerable in America, as 9/11 brought front and center. But if you are inclined to prepare for reasonable risks to your household's safety and well-being, then you ought to give credence to the possibility of modern full-scale warfare making a sudden, destructive visitation upon us right where we live--and not just in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The nature of men and nations has remained true to form throughout history. Ambition for power drives confrontations. Occasionally, back-channel safety nets collapse and all hell breaks loose.
Today, the mostly long-distance War on Terror passes as the framework for our understanding of hostile threats to our way of life. Yet already, many have forgotten the World Trade Center and the seizing of four airliners that stunned the world. Remembered or not, the world has not quite been the same since.
There was a time in late 2001 and throughout 2002 when media discussions and public service advisories had US citizens considering how to protect themselves from biological, chemical, and radiological terror threats, particularly in large cities. Eventually, fear gave way to suspicious cynicism and political opportunism, until now when any such risk awareness has receded to the bottom of the deck for most Americans still playing the game at all.
Without going there, I will just state, it is common sense to have on hand some basic knowledge and capabilities to deal with NBC (nuclear, bio, chem) exposures to yourself or to your area of operations. Such dangers can come at the hands of terrorists, but they can just as easily be the result of industrial or transportation accidents most anywhere in the country. Consider how you can take a few simple steps to mitigate these risks--the proverbial plastic sheeting and duct tape are a good start. Gas masks, rubber suits and gloves, N95 surgical masks, radiation detectors, and potassium iodide represent next steps worth taking for many.
Combat on American Soil
I'd propose that it is not at all crazy for smart, historically aware people to make some concessions in their crisis preparedness planning for the possibility of violent conflict within our own borders.
Historically speaking, one might say it is inevitable. Whether it is or not, common sense says that we are not immune from violent conflict or from outright warfare breaking out close to home or right on our doorstep.
International strife continues to simmer in many parts of the world, stoked by those intent on creating mayhem and anarchy for their own gain. Ethnic violence rages and in fact is spreading in spite of progressive global enlightenment and liberal sophistication. The USA remains objective number one for those exporting death and fear. We also are the only obstacle in the way of another rising power from becoming top dog on the planet.
I'd suggest that the single greatest deterrent to widespread anarchy in America is our right to bear arms and the exercise of that right by millions of actively conscientious and principled Americans. Got ammo?
Nuclear Sword of Damocles
Finally, there's the everpresent ICBM nuclear weapons that have made modern existence as precarious as a spinning toy gyroscope on a wire. Think those days are history? If you actually ever thought so, you better reconsider. For only the latest eye-opener, see "Putin's Show of Strength Triggers Fear of Fresh Nuclear Arms Race."
It's the granddaddy of all threats and it remains unthinkable for many out there. But don't let that difficult-to-envision scenario stop you from taking at least remedial steps toward preparedness in this regard. Even an all-out nuclear war IS survivable, and that is what war planners in China and Russia count on in their doomsday gaming and planning--to include elaborate measures taken to ensure the protection of millions of their own citizens.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Civil Defense program is ancient history, and if you are thinking that we can intercept ANY incoming missiles, guess again.
So unless you believe slow agonizing death by massive radiation poisoning is preferable to giving you and yours a shot at pulling through in reasonable shape, then you should look into what first steps make sense for you as you start planning your family's shelter.
For all the ribbons and glory, all the parades and USO tours, warfare is something every one of us should be so blessed as to never have to experience firsthand. Indeed that is one of mankind's worthiest prayers to the Almighty.
However, if you fancy your crisis preparedness program to be in any way comprehensive in scope, then you must account for hostile scenarios of all kinds. You need not obsess over wars and rumors of wars, but as with any other threat, to prepare well is to aspire to greater peace of mind.