What is Group Standard? GS is the practice of getting those in your group, MAG, or like-minded friends similar enough equipment so that there is redundancy built into your collective preps.
Most want to set a group standard (recommended items to acquire,) for those items that can break, have a consumable component, will require matching components to function, or are so important that their complete loss will create an unbearable hardship.
GS is a very location specific and personal thing – what works for one group or person will not work for another. What follows are just my ideas on the subject, hopefully you can get some ideas and develop your own GS.
Understandably each person has their own specific resources that will allow them to acquire a different level of supplies. A GS may require FN FAL’s, but a member has a very limited income, and at some point purchased an old CETME. Does this mean they should throw their hands up and quit, sell off everything they own and go into debt to meet the standard? Of course not, work with what you have and always work towards a good GS goal – but on your terms.
I think firearms are the easiest to understand the need for a GS, mostly for obvious reasons. If everyone has the same pattern firearm there is redundancy in parts for breakage, common caliber ammunition that is consumable and therefore can be shared. Plus all take the same magazines – which in itself is a component prone to breakage and loss.
At a minimum: Weapons that take a common caliber ammunition, such as SKS’s, AK’s, and Mini-30’s (7.62×39)
Perfect world: I am of the camp that believe a good survival battery of firearms include a center fire, semi-automatic rifle, a .22 rifle (or pistol), a defensive pistol, and a shotgun. Each member should have an identical set of these weapons, and sufficient magazines and ammo to feed them.
What we did: Well, many of us are ex-soldiers and gun-guys so to have a group standard was more like picking one type of weapon that we all happen to already own. We started of saying AR’s, Glock 22’s, Shotgun of any variety, and any 22. But many of us live in California, which has a host of just absolutely super gun laws that are dropping all crime to negative statistics – except drive-by huggings. So we changed to M1a’s for those in the state. Then, one of the members got a great deal on multiple AK’s… so we decided to make AK’s our secondary standard at the BOL for anyone that we may have to arm when SHTF (like approved family/friends, or perhaps members that make it to the BOL with just the shirt on their back.)
If you don’t have commo, you don’t have crap. Communications is one of those easy force-multipliers that is not that interesting, and slightly technical – therefore turning people away, or at least put on the back burner. You have a ton of choices when it comes to just the type of communications platform, the hands-down king of civilian commo is HAM radio. With HAM you can reach virtually anywhere in the world… but it is technical, requires special licenses, and a variety of equipment. You also have CB radio, FMS, GMRS, MURS, Marine Radio, Scanners and tons of others. This is not going to be a lesson about each of the different types, but I may explore them in later blogs.
Think about having tactical capabilities (short-range, secure as possible), intelligence gathering capabilities (scanners + long-range radio), and regional capabilities (the town, ranches near you, etc.)
At a minimum: All have handheld devices that are on the same platform and take the same batteries. A way to get some local communications and intelligence (CB with SSB)
In a perfect world: Central communications hub/specialist with scan/transmit on all types of platforms/frequencies. Suitable power supply, equipment, and repeaters to support hand-held units. Handhelds with good programming to allow for tactical communications as well as communications back to the hub. Local hard-wire communications (i.e. TA-312 field phones) to supplement handhelds.
What we did: As much as I started this section on a soap-box, we are lacking (in my opinion) in communications. We are testing some TriSquare eXRS radios for local tactical communications (Amazon listing), have CB radio’s in our vehicles for emergency use, and I am working on getting my technical license (the entry-level) in HAM.
Vehicles may or may not play an important part in your preps and therefore GS. Depending on your situation and what you are prepping for will dictate what you would like as a standard – are you concerned about EMP threats? Do you need the vehicle to double as a ranch or farming tool?
At a minimum: All take the same fuel source (i.e. Gasoline).
In a perfect world: Exact same vehicles, with the same modifications/aftermarket parts, with a matching load list.
What we did: Not a damn thing. Unfortunately we do not have the means or personal requirements to all get the same vehicle, and do not view this as a required prep for our situation.
Medical supplies should be streamlined as to facilitate group training and performance under stress. While one person my like/acquire Israeli bandages, someone else may prefer gauze and tape. In addition to having a GS on supplies, markings and placement should also be discussed (i.e. all personal medical supplies in vehicles should be in a red case, in the rearmost portion of the vehicle, on the passenger side.) PS: Tourniquets are your friends.
At a minimum: Every person should have a first aid kit available with all the basic supplies, as well as a BOK (Blow-Out-Kit; gunshot) attached to any load-bearing equipment.
In a perfect word: Complete first aid and advanced aid supplies, surgical tools, a selection of OTC drugs, antibiotics, IV supplies, and a few well trained personnel on the above.
What we did: We have a good selection of medical supplies at the BOL, including sutures, surgical instruments, OTC meds and fish antibiotics (yes, fish meds – I have read everything under the sun from they will kill you in a second to they are better than what the pharmacy can get you. My feeling is this, I can get these, they don’t cost much, if I have to choose between dying of infection, or taking a chance… well it’s obvious what decision I’ve made.) Each person has a BOK and IFAK on their load-bearing equipment, and we are mostly trained in basic life-saving skills, some advanced.
In my mind, GS only applies to food storage as to the minimum quantity – normally quantified in person-years. You may also want to set a standard as to what constitutes food storage, such as “food items specifically set aside for emergency use, will have a minimum of 5 year shelf life, and be rotated as appropriate.” I think that a 1 year minimum for each person the member is responsible for is a good starting point.
BOL / Retreat Access
In a SHTF environment this can be a sticky situation, and should be discussed in advance. This is basically “if the worst happens, who will be allowed to stay.” I think there should be a long list and a short list, as well as a process for approving someone who is not on the list.
Long list means the list of people who are allowed access in a minor local event, such as an earthquake – basically if the event will not last long, and there is a good chance you will be able to resupply and reoutfit the BOL after the crisis has passed. It is called long list because this list will be much longer than the short list (we at Freedom Hold are not that smart…) A good starting point could be: The member, immediate + extended family, and 6 other listed individuals.
Short list is where possibly life and death decisions must be made. Each person that is not a member must either be really important to you, or possess skills that outweigh their mouth (and gut.) The short list is for when it has truly SHTF, where resupply is not a forseeable option, and you are on your own. A good starting point is: The member, immediate family, and 2 other listed individuals.
There are other things that could be brought into a GS discussion, and should be covered in your MAG rules/guidelines. I hope that I have at least pointed out a few things for you to talk about amongst your associates.