Not all things NPT and preparedness needs be learned from former military folks, to be sure, as preparedness is a lot more than shooting, moving, and communicating.
Some things, though, that are essential to NPT development can be taken from the example of the US Army Special Forces, commonly known as, ‘The Green Berets.’ I have found one thing (besides their expertise in conducting unconventional warfare) to be common with the Special Forces folks who are kind enough to teach American civilians, either through books or face to face lessons, is how they place themselves in a position to succeed on their mission. The cornerstone of everything they do when deployed is the building of legitimacy with the local people they’ll be living with and possibly leading later on in the conduct of their mission. Legitimacy is so important, they’ll tell you, that without it, the mission won’t even get started, let alone succeed. The people the team is working with have to be shown that the SF team they’ve met actually believes the locals are as important to the SF team as any member on that team. A good example of this can be found in the book, “The Guerilla Factory: The Making of Special Forces Officers, The Green Berets”,” by Tony Schwalm, where the term, ‘legitimacy’ is a recurring concept underscoring the success of their mission requirements, because from that comes rapport and intimacy with the locals.
Relating that to the development of the Neighborhood Protection Plan and Team(s), the book we constantly reference, “A Failure of Civility,” by Mike Garand and Jack Lawson, is written by a former SF troop along with a former Air Force Special Operations (and honorary member of the SF Association). They start out discussing the need to become known to your neighbors in order to get a Neighborhood Protection Plan started. They’re basically talking about developing legitimacy, which, in other words, when applied to our neighborhood locations, is not to be known as, ‘the survivalist-gun-nut-wierdos’ down the street or around the block.
Taking the example of the SF and ‘AFOC’ mentioned above is a smart thing to do, so long as you don’t start thinking you’re the same thing. All a NPT strives to do is to help and secure the neighborhood in situations where normal emergency response is no longer possible. That’s it.
Yesterday I read a comment over at Vanderboegh’s place that plainly demonstrated the frustration of the commenter about the neighbors he had and his perceptions of them and explaining why he was basically ‘going solo’. From his description, he’s in an area that would be a tough nut to crack in developing a NPP. What might help crack that nut more quickly is if the commenter understood what it takes to build legitimacy in that bad neighborhood.
So, what’s it take to start building legitimacy? (And we build it well before we start handing out flyers and talking about putting up vehicular check points and OP’s.)
First, legitimacy in this sense is defined as “being genuine,” or “demonstrating real concern,” or “the real deal.” If follows then, that building it simply calls for being a ‘good neighbor’ and helping people when you see they have a need as a start. It calls for reaching out and talking with people, even the unfriendly ones. When walking to your car and you pass a neighbor, instead of looking away or at the ground, get eye contact and say, “Morning!” or “Hey!” or “How are you today?” Whatever works. Having a pleasant look on your face helps crack the ice, too. You can also see someone needing physical help, like the elderly, or a mother with several children attempting something that’s simple for you, but difficult for them, like, say, seeing the old man trying to bend down and pick up a package or newspaper and saying, “Let me get that for you!” and then going on about your business with a, “Hope you have a god day!” or some other parting that will show them that you’re a nice man or woman. If there’s a neighborhood association, join it and be seen at meetings and events. Become a known, helpful quantity that your neighbors learn they can count on when they need some help.
This will take some time. Especially if you, the person wanting to develop a NPP/NPT have been a loner, or morose, or otherwise signaling, “leave me alone; don’t talk to me” in your lack of communication or body language.
Why you? Because YOU are the one who sees danger coming. YOU are the one who wants to develop a protection plan for your neighborhood because YOU live there with your family.
You’ll know if you’re doing it right, too, because as time goes on, and things happen that upset or worry people, you’ll start to get questions like, “Hey, what do you think about this rolling black out thing? Should we be worried? “ or “Hey, I got this thing in the mail the other day telling me I should have 3 days of food and water….what do you think?” or “Hey, I was reading this website about the ‘preppers’ and how they believe they need to be able to handle six months without going to the grocery store…do you think that’s a smart thing?”
The questions really don’t matter; what matters is the two-way communication that begins to happen with your neighbors asking you things, no matter how gently they couch the subject. Same thing goes with your fitness level. Just being fit is a good example. Conversations about, “I can’t do what I used to…” can be enjoined with, “Yeah, I know what you mean. I was having a hard time, so I went to the doc and he said to cut back on fast food and get more exercise, so I did, and I feel better.”
Planting seeds, cultivating the newly sprouted relationships in the neighborhood is what is going to get people to come to the meeting you schedule down the road and volunteer to help on a Neighborhood Watch, as well as take direction when things get dicey because the grid is down, even temporarily.
Legitimacy is your first requirement. Even if you’re developing a family team that’s geographically separated. Legitimacy is everything. They have to know you are going to walk your talk and help when the call is put out.
DTG and other schools can help you with individual and team training; only you can build the legitimacy you need to develop your local NPP/NPT. For further discussion, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.