Even though I read The Survival Group Handbook when it first came out, I discovered even more good advice the second time around.
First a bit about Charley and his expertise:
Hogwood was born and raised in Florida and is the resident chief Instructor on emergency preparedness and disaster readiness at P.R.E.P. Charley served more than 15 years in both the US Army and the Florida National Guard. He was an honors student in a class of 436 soldiers at the Leadership Development School in Fort Benning, Georgia, among many other leadership and survival certifications. His experience has been tested on several continents and in many natural disasters.
During his time as a Lead Scout with the 11th Armored Cavalry, U.S. Army, he spent years deployed to Europe honing his skills in reconnaissance, first aid and humanitarian missions. In the aftermath of the Chernobyl incident, he was deployed to monitor the radiation dispersal over much of the fresh food system of Eastern and Western Europe. Large areas of agriculture and livestock were contaminated and had to be destroyed as governments rushed to provide safe food to millions of citizens who were used to having easy access to food.
As an active member of the US Army, he was charged with border security operations including planning and participating in patrolling and security operations, rapid reaction deployment and security of several international incidents. He also has experience in radiation detection and chemical warfare among many other tactical and leadership skills. After returning to the United States, he was in one of the first units of National Guard to be deployed to the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. His unit provided support by establishing relief areas to take care of basic human needs. Charley was also responsible for local security measures, including planning and participation of patrol units, looting prevention and serving as a liaison to local law enforcement to maintain order in a time of chaos and disarray.
As an Infantry Squad Leader with the Florida National Guard, he was qualified as Jungle Expert at the US Army Jungle Survival School during 3 separate tours through the Panama Canal Zone.
The Survival Handbook was written to serve as an instruction guide for both the “solo survivor” and as a reference manual for established mutual assistance groups of all sizes.
Charley had this to say when I asked him why he wrote the book and how it will help other preppers survive a doomsday scenario:
"The most common fears we hear about have to do with trust and personal security. People worry that someone will turn on them and take their supplies, or shun them as crazy. While this is always a concern, the methods we outline in our book are specifically designed to mitigate these valid worries. Another problem many people have is just finding other people because they don’t know where to look or how to approach others. We have carefully outlined how to converse with potential group members and where to look for prepper friends. The recurring theme we found in our research was the importance of relationship building and teamwork for a successful group, survival or not."
Unless you live on a thousand or so acres of land and have a small army of friends and family to help guard and work you land, the community which surrounds you will matter greatly during a SHTF scenario. If the town nearest you turns into a disaster zone while awaiting for someone to show up and say, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" the folks you sat next to at church, volunteered at school bake sales with, and waved to while picking up groceries at the now looted local supermarket, will ultimately wind up on your doorstep or perhaps storming your perfect prepper retreat in search of a few crumbs of break.
Opting for the lone wolf approach to survival is something that Charley strongly warns against. Readers of The Survival Handbook that already grasp and support this concept will also learn a lot form Hogwood's book.
Charley had this to say when I asked him about forming or approaching an existing mutual assistance group:
"It is important to play your secrets close to the vest until you are comfortable in the new relationship. If there is no important reason for someone to know something, keep it to yourself. Ask yourself, 'Why does this person need to know this?' before you share it. How might this information come back to harm you later? Take your time and share evenly with others. Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured into sharing private information. Conversely, if someone else is sharing too much, let him or her know. It is also important that you do share anything that may be a problem for the group or safety of a member. For example, if you are aware of a health concern, let someone know so they can be prepared in case you become incapacitated."
How can you tell if a mutual assistance group is right for you? Charley covers that in the survival book as well:
"Before you can make that decision you must understand yourself. We spend almost as much time talking you out of joining a group as we do in celebrating the benefits of working with others. This is because we want the individual to identify what is important to them and what goals they have for their own survival. Once you understand this, you can set out to assemble your dream team. If you try to shortcut the process you will invite unrealistic expectations from yourself and others. This will lead to dysfunction and disagreement."