By April 24, 2012 Read More →

The NBC Triad- Realistic Threat Assessment and Destroying Prepper Dogma

The NBC Triad- Realistic Threat Assessment and Destroying Prepper Dogma

By Chris Watson (Redhorse_Ronin)

             On the Friday the 13th show, Karen and I tackled the NBC boogeymen and the dogma, myths, and misconceptions often bandied about in the Prepper community.  NBC, originally a military acronym, denotes nuclear, biological, and chemical threats.  The new acronym is CBRN for chemical, biological, radiological, and Nuclear threats.  The show drew a large audience, and we did a full 90 minutes and only scratched the surface of the layman’s version of understand the NBC threat.  You can download this show on the player below.  We also announced our upcoming 5-week long preparedness trivia promotional giveaway of fire starters that will begin on April 27, 2012.

I opened with an excerpt from a blog that I did on the subject published on January 30, 2012.  The full blog can be found at and the excerpt is as follows:

Over a decade ago, (after getting out of active duty,), I was in the private security world, (where) I consulted and trained corporate security clients, as well as law enforcement agencies.  After 9/11, I had clients, and even police departments, approach me concerning the NBC threat.  I admit that I have never been impressed with the response plans that we trained on (in the military).  They were too (optimistic, in my opinion.)..

Let us look at a typical multi-story business or apartment (building.)  What are the three biggest infiltration points on these buildings?  The answer is the doors, windows, and HVAC systems.  Even IF the residents were able to secure the doors and windows, what about the HVAC systems? It takes time to isolate buildings from outside air intake, especially in larger buildings.

But before we even got to that point, what WARNING would civilians get?  In the Gulf War, aircraft were flying through airborne agents released by the bombing…and ground crews were later scrambling…over the (aircraft) fuselages to service (them). The detectors did not pick up these trace agents and as such many crewmen were contaminated in repetitive low doses.  If NATO detectors were not able to accurately detect trace agents, then what would tell Joe Six-Pack that something was (wrong)?

What would (building) maintenance (crews) wear if they…went… into a contaminated environment?  What would…warn (them) to initiate such precautions?  Seriously, do you think the government is able to get the warning out in time, PRIOR to such an attack?

When…the military are operating in an increased NBC threat environment, (they usually operate in reduced MOPP levels, (Mission Oriented Personal Protection).  (These) levels dictate how much gear is worn versus carried.  In MOPP 2, the over boots and garment (are worn) but the outer gloves, glove liners, and mask (are carried).  From MOPP 2, a full minute can be used by TRAINED troops to don, tighten, clear, fit check, and buddy check…the mask and gloves.  How well and how fast is Joe Six-Pack going to don his gear, assuming he even dons it all correctly?

I told (my clients) to isolate (themselves and the) building as much as they could.  The good news is that most agents are non-persistent and that dispersal is the bane of any agent delivery system.  Let the emergency responders decon evacuation routes before releasing their people.  I advised against trying to use off the shelf chemical protection devices…because without the training,…(they) may lead to more deaths if used.

Now, I realize that there is a certain…(bulletproof) attitude in (the prepper) community and that a significant number of (Preppers) have military surplus NBC (gear).  But the simple (truth is that) the VAST majority of Americans have never had any military or first responder training. (Additionally, this surplus military gear is) of dubious quality and origin to begin with, and…are not inspected by trained technicians on a regular basis.

(Most) people have NO IDEA HOW DEBILITATING everyday operations in these suits are.  I was once in an exercise where the unit was transported, within 24 hours, from a winter environment to a humid southern environment and forced to operate for HOURS under the sun in MOPP 4 condition.  Fully 20% of the unit was sent to the hospital for dehydration and heat (related injuries).

How will (the average prepper) hold up?  Have you ever run in a mask?  Without excellent fitness and psychological preparation, many will end up hyperventilating because of the amount of air you can intake through a mask valve.  What about water?  (Do you have the proper equipment to drink water while in protective gear?)  How many cartridges do you have? What are their lifespans?  Do you even know what your mask and suit protect against?  What is your decon plan?  How bad would it be to make a successful foray outside only to die because you deconned improperly (and) introduced agent into your shelter?

The answers to these questions will probably reveal a vast ignorance of counter NBC operations.  So what then is the answer?  How do you counter this potential threat or do you go meekly into the void and surrender yourself to a fatalistic attitude?  (That is what we shall look at tonight…)

The show proceeded with a thumbnail summarization of the various nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical threats, with an emphasis on militarized threats; however, industrial threats were discussed, as well.  We defined the threats as the military and emergency management personnel community does, to give the audience a chance to experience the commonality of language that the professionals use.  In the process, we cleared up some misnomers and myths about size, complexity, lethality, and employment of various NBC threats, such as what a “suitcase” nuke really is.

We talked about the history of employment of such weapons and industry accidents by governments and terrorists.  We talked about the prevalence or, in some cases, the extreme rarity of the threats being employed.  We even informed of cases of NBC terrorism on US soil throughout our history.

We took time to talk about the non-engineered biological threats that can and regularly do appear after major disasters due the breakdown of sanitation systems.  I talked about Haiti and my experiences during the Katrina response.

We briefly touched upon the nature of the chemical threats and how blood, blister, and nerve agents, as well as, certain hazardous industrial chemicals behaved and attacked the human body.  From there we moved on to realistic threat assessment.

Here was where we really began to depart from the popular dogma of the Prepper community that seems to be equal parts bravado, cavalier disregard of reality, and eternal optimism.  We burst the bubbles of the glow worm doom and gloom Preppers by relegating the nuclear  and chemical weapon threats to the bottom of the threat ladder.  We explained how bio-weapons are the easiest threat to employ because they are so easy to conceal in a population, due to incubation periods and the variety of transmission methods.  We emphasized how easy disease epidemics take hold post-disasters.

We then talked about industrial accidents briefly and moved into the radiological or “dirty bomb” threats.  We followed it all up with our reasons why militarized chemical and nuclear threats were almost non-issues.  I explained the difficulty of employing nuclear weapons and the engineering challenges of chemical dispersal, by highlighting the Tokyo Subway attacks by Aum Shrynko using homemade sarin gas.

We touched upon some threat mitigation and response information as we discussed the various threats.  Keep in mind that future shows will discuss this more thoroughly.

As usual, we had some very interesting callers offer their viewpoints and questions.  One caller in particular stands out because of her concern that her proximity to an old uranium breeder reactor increased her chances of having her community attacked by rogue states with intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities.  We set her mind at ease as we discussed the SALT treaties and gave some SIOP (system integrated operational planning) insights to Cold War era targeting protocols of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

We ended the show by briefly talking about the detection of these threats.  We emphasized the likelihood of high civilian casualties should these threats materialize.  We talked about the logistics of emergency management to respond to such threats on the local level.  It was a very frank admission of government’s limitations.

So, in closing, on behalf of my co-host Karen and I, we want to thank you for supporting our show as we grow weekly.  Without you, our audience, we would not have a purpose to share our experiences.  Thank you and you can join us every Friday evening at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central at

Listen to this show from American Preppers Radio in player below.

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Posted in: APN Radio, podcasts

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2 Comments on "The NBC Triad- Realistic Threat Assessment and Destroying Prepper Dogma"

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  1. Steven says:

    What is the best mask (type/model/filter) to gaurd against a current CRBN threat for a civilian prepper with 2 children?

  2. Chris Watson says:

    My advice is that there are none. Masks aren’t made to seal around childrens faces. Without the detection gear, likely your only clue that you’ve been contaminated is the onset of symptoms. The masks are death traps with the wrong filters. Chemical threats are best dealt with by sheltering in place with little to no external air being circulated into the structure. Save your money for worthwhile preps like food and water.