Being the Gray Man: Experiences From 30 Years in Backwater Countries by APS
This article explores concealment, Gray Man in TEOTWAWKI, and survival in a modern society with tactics, techniques, and procedures taken from a military point of view. It is not an end al; it’s, just perspective on some shared experiences of deployments in 30 years of service to many backwater countries. Hopefully, my shared experiences help better understand and prepare, in case something really goes wrong with our economy, a natural or manmade disaster, et cetera. I hope it gives the reader a “fighting chance” when dealt with possibly the worst situation in our society or in life.
The art of Gray Man or blending in is of the highest importance. Don’t broadcast you have nice things, resources, or are healthy. If you do have these things during TEOTWAWKI, fine. Just keep it to yourself. Blend in with what everybody else has by observing your surroundings and having situational awareness. Sometimes this cannot be helped, i.e. you’re carrying a $1,500 AR15 while everyday else has a $100 shotgun. In that case, it’s a good idea to make that AR15 less attractive by making it look old, worn out, or otherwise undesirable.
I had a buddy who put on a nice camo paint job on his M4, but man did it look ugly after he was finished. Sometimes having a nice rifle can’t be helped but don’t gloat or talk about it. If someone asks you to take a look at your rifle, (I’ve had some local police forces ask this very question) then politely decline and talk about something else. Sometimes, it makes sense just to pull out the $100 shotgun and leave the $1,500 AR at home, or have it stowed in your beater car.
This brings up a point about nice cars versus beater cars. In my experiences in the third world, the person driving the nice cars, trucks, or SUVs were high ranking governmental officials, U.N. or NATO forces, or the enemy/criminals, or some combo therein. Anytime I saw a jacked up Toyota pickup on steroids, I immediately thought “bad guys”. When I saw SUVs where everyone else were walking, bicycling, or riding a small motorcycle, I thought “really bad guys”. Even my beater Toyota screamed, “Uncle Sugar has arrived”. That’s what I thought anyways. I had the windows tinted dark to prevent locals from peering inside the cab. It worked, and I stopped being stared at and my stuff never got stolen.
Most locals in several of the countries I’ve visited over the years walked, paid taxis, or hopped on the back of a motorcycle or pickup for a small fee. Cars looked worn and beat down for the average person. I’m not saying not to drive your Lincoln Navigator during TEOTWAWKI, just be aware when you drive these kinds of vehicles during a disaster, people will be eyeballing you. If you have the muscle and resources to defend that Navigator, by all means drive it. In my opinion, however, it’s better to have a moped or small street legal off-road bike than to drive a nice car. I’ve owned a Honda XR250L (1991-1996), and they would be excellent to get around town or in a rural area. Plus, it would only set you back $1,500 bucks. Be prepared to lock that moped or bike up with a heavy chain and high security lock, however, or it will walk.
Having high security locks and heavy chains should be a priority, and be secured where the resource will be stored. For instance, rifles at a minimum should be behind two high security locks, and be in a metal security rack or a safe, which is preferred. The assumption is most readers have the resources, such as rifles, cars, motorcycles, et cetera, but they may not have thought through the security of them. Use a heavy alloy chain hardened such that it makes it harder for criminals to steal your stuff. I chain locked everything in my topper in the back. With the chains and tinted windows, my stuff was a secure as I could make it. Combine a Medeco brand padlock to complete a high security setup. (HJL’s Note: Do not depend upon a lock to keep your valuables safe. They only protect against the lazy or opportunistic criminal. A $20 angle grinder will cut any lock off in a matter of seconds or even cut through the wall of the container in just a few minutes!)