What are your basic survival needs?

I was lucky enough to be able to travel to many continents. In the mid 80s, I spent quite a bit of time in parts of Africa and Asia, then again to return to the early 90s. The countries that surprised me the most were Egypt, Saudi Arabia and also Israel. There is something mysterious and amazing about the desert lifestyle of these regions, and then the contrast of their large westernized cities.

I spent most of my time in the desert manning a small military outpost with a handful of other army soldiers near Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with occasional visits to towns like Le Cairo, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel. The biblical history of these places has always intrigued me. Our outpost was located along the shores of the Sinai Peninsula (or the Gulf of Aqaba depending on which map you are looking at) creating another wonderful contrast when the desert meets the sea.
My basic survival needs were regularly provided by the military. Food, water and basic hygiene items were delivered to our outpost so we were always comfortable in our double width type trailers surrounded by 7ft sandbag walls from above.

(The only item we needed was alcohol. Since Egypt is a Muslim-majority country, many locals abstain completely from alcohol). The stores in our area reflected this belief and alcohol was very hard to come by. Fortunately, the army taught us to improvise, adapt and overcome, so a once-a-week covert mission to Israel took care of the alcohol supply problem.

Our daily interactions with the locals were usually with the Bedouins (“Badawi” in Arabic). These people were a semi-nomadic group of desert dwellers known for their ingenuity and hospitality. Bedouins survived harsh weather conditions and lived in harsh environments. We usually trade simple things like clean water, bread, or an MRE (ready to eat meal) with them for a handmade knife, some kind of novelty, or even the occasional small block of hash.
The large tribe of Bedouins who were near our camp always made me think of the differences in people’s lives. For example: and what some felt as their basic survival needs were compared to those of other people living in different areas or circumstances.

I always thought the American way of life was one of greed and waste. I often think of the number of people who could be fed by the food that is thrown away in our restaurants at the end of each day. When I was a kid and couldn’t finish my dinner, my dad used to say, “I wonder how many families that left food you’re about to throw away could feed.”

These desert dwellers knew what their basic survival needs were, food, water and shelter. They didn’t spend time looking for what they didn’t need. Everything else outside of those needs was considered a gift and they never lived to expect that gift again.

Have you thought about your basic survival needs? Yes, it’s a simple answer: oxygen, water, food and shelter. Could you live without air conditioning in Arizona in the middle of summer? Could you live without the luxury of a cell phone, or is it one of your basic survival needs? I write this more to be stimulating than informative. Have you made up your actual survival needs?

If you had to survive for 3 days away from your home, your vehicle or someone you know, what would you want from yourself? Here’s the question: list the items you would store in a bugout/72hr bag. It’s kind of the same thought process. What do you really need? Are defensive weapons part of your survival needs? I suggest you make one.

When I was outside the United States and out of my comfort zone, it made me realize that we give back many “things” and necessary items, that when we are apart or lack those ” things,” our mental state declines because we feel without.

Do we “improvise, adapt and overcome?” Or do we fall into a mild depression because we are deprived of something we have become accustomed to for so long?

Get out of your usual environment and take only a few survival necessities with you. See what you’re made of because that’s what you’ll survive.

Never stop training

If you have any questions about my article, write to me at
[email protected]
Oz Johnson / Lead Instructor, NRA Certified

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