Survival Series: Fatigues to T-Shirts

Survival Series

"Fatigues to T-Shirts"

Part 1

Planning, How To Learn New Skills, Combat Fitness


While serving in an Infantry Occupation in the Marine Corps, I learned several skills that will stay with me forever. Although we use them in combat and are not your everyday walking down the street type skills, others are extremely useful in a survival type environment. Whether surviving a nuclear blast or battling hoards of zombies, many of the things learned in the military are beneficial to your survival. Let’s discuss three of those skills in this part of the series.


 You better believe the planning process is a huge part of what we learned as Marines to accomplish our mission. One of the biggest decision-making processes we used is called BAMCIS. Begin planning, Arrange Reconnaissance, Make Reconnaissance, Complete the plan, Issue the order, and Supervise. Now unless you are leading a team into a situation, like recovery or looking for supplies, the first four elements are the most important. This can be used for multiple approaches, and you should make sure you know the best use for you. Decide whether you are planning for a survival situation to occur, or if you are already in one. The key to using this process is your mindset, and that of the others around you.

Once you begin your planning, ensure you brainstorm all of your ideas. Your goal is to gather information, so your plan should be as detailed as you can make it, and set notations on what information you need to make your plan sound. If you need to know the exact distance to your bug out location, this is where the reconnaissance comes into play. Use the vehicle you plan on using to get to that location, and recon the route. If a situation occurs now, and your vehicle gets stuck or can’t fit through a certain part of the route while you’re trying to get to your location, you’re in trouble. By making reconnaissance of your route, you can either find a different route or fix that one. Once all of your reconnaissance is done and all decisions have been made, complete the plan and make it known to all parties. This is when you can start rehearsals and ensure all hands know the plan and are ready. For a survival situation, I recommend having at least three variations of your plan. You don’t want to have your entire survival based on what approach, and someone else beats you to the punch. At the very least, have a plan in place to survive on the move. Quick decisions on the move until you can settle.



Marines don’t just sit around and read books and shoot their rifles on a rifle range. We have to train, train, train. The key is to train to the environment. High stress situations firing your weapon, starting your fires, building your shelters is a good place to start. You may not always be in a calm environment trying to survive, and everybody always thinks they will perform under pressure. In my experience, the loudest Marine beating their chest 24/7 is the ones that fold when rounds come their way. You can condition yourself to defeat that, as long as you go about it the right way.

Explain the skill using a class or outdoor environment. This is the calm portion where you learn your skill academically.

Demonstrate the skill. Have the instructor demonstrate multiple times how to perform that skill. If there are any questions, repeat until there is no hesitance.

Imitate the actions. Copy the instructor step by step while asking questions the entire time. This is the time to get the technique down.

Perform the skill alone. Repetition is the name of the game here. Once the skill can be performed flawlessly on your own, add in the high stress environments. Set time limits, outside interruptions, loud noises, etc.

  1. Find a Subject Matter Expert on the skill you want to learn.
  2. Use EDIP to help learn that skill
    • Teach the rest of your team, family, friends, whoever is going to with you during your survival. Having the group learn the skill the same way can aid in your survival. By knowing how each person is going to operate and use their gear comes in handy. (If everyone puts their medic kit on their left hip, everyone knows where to reach when saving lives)


Recently the Marines Corps has adopted a new style of fitness. Using a High Intensity Tactical Training type of fitness, this helps in multiple ways. Not only does this allow you to be in better shape and be able to scale rough environments, you can carry more weight and survive on the move. Studies show that Marines are doing more wall climbing and jumping ditches then walking down the street. By getting their bodies used to this and preparing themselves for higher intensity type movements, this assists in the overall injury prevention when deployed. The same goes for survival. You may have to escape through urban environments or heavily wooded areas. It’s naïve to assume you’re going to drive down the road and get where you need to go safely. Prepare your body through a combat fitness mentality. Research HITT and look through their programs. Don’t jump right into and prepare yourself mentally and physically before starting.

Part 2 will discuss weapons manipulation, proper wearing of gear, and immediate actions.

Jeff Sabins