America faces many challenges going forward. Some of these challenges are new, some are lurking fears that have never quite perished, but all threaten the safety and security of our nation, in total or in part, and ergo the citizenry.
None may be so bad as to completely destroy our country, but all could come at the cost of many lives, widespread devastation and an unpredictable and terrible reordering of society.
It is best to be ready for regional or national disasters. Despite their dreadful portents, they are survivable with the right plan, the right preparation, a lot of grit and a little luck.
Below are some of the most plausible threats against America that will certainly have regional and perhaps nationwide effects.
Table of Contents
What is on this List?
This list is comprised of disasters and crisis events that are natural or “man-made” in origin. All are plausible events, not fantastic or nigh-impossible scenarios so unlikely to occur as to be fiction or nearly so. You will not be seeing any zombie outbreaks, gamma ray bursts or alien invasions.
You will be seeing events that, while not as incredible, promise to be no less spectacular, terrible and dangerous. Truly preparing for these will involve some diligence and perhaps measures and supplies beyond what even a seasoned and self-reliant person would keep on hand. Luck, while always a factor in survival, may play a greater part in your odds than your common “everyday” disaster scenarios.
By their very nature, many of these events will have severe death tolls, either at their onset or in the aftermath, and will exact a terrible toll. Many, even the well prepared, may perish simply due to bad luck or timing. Such is the nature of true catastrophes. It is hard to accept, but there it is.
Nonetheless, you should prepare. Even the very worst disasters are often survivable if you are prepared, where an unprepared person may still perish.
Much of the core preps for surviving any prolonged and protracted disaster will apply to this list, but long-term or initial sustainment and survival may require specialist equipment, knowledge or other preparation. You can find out more in the entry for each.
The List of Threats
Second Amendment Unrest
You’d have to be living under a prepper rock to not know what is happening in Virginia. The anti-gun new comers in the Virginia government have gone full throttle. The laws they are proposing are so far left it is doubtful that they will hold up to constitutional rigor.
That “archaic” piece of parchment aside, the boldness of Virginia government is staggering. They are actually framing laws other leftist politicians only dream about.
It is true that other towns, counties, and states are drafting anti-2A laws. None have gone as crazy as Virginia.
The difference is that Virginian dictatorship legislature has over played its cards. The vast majority of the counties in Virginia have fought back. Forming Second Amendment Sanctuaries they vow to resist the proposed unconstitutional gun laws.
The politicians, rather than seeing the error of their ways, have dug in. Their threats include calling in the national guard and withholding critical funding from the sanctuary cities.
Thankfully, the citizenry of Virginia has banded together in a massive act of civil disobedience. The response in other states has varied from rolling over (thank you California) to small pockets of weak resistance.
In some cases, the pressure has boiled up and gotten a little sportier. In November of 2019 an in Mahopac, NY Afghanistan veteran posted his impending Red Flag confiscation online. The response included emails, social media posts, phone calls to the police station.
This is a normal response to the horror of Starbucks offering plastic straws. However, this event went to 11 when several concerned citizens showed up in support of the Veteran. It wasn’t Malheur, but it had the potential.
Granted not all the facts have come to light. They probably never will. Regardless, we saw a level of escalation that I believe will continue into the new year.
If these laws actually take hold, they will emboldened politicians everywhere. In response I only see the resistance to them growing. As one meme stated “There are 100 million Americans in possession of 400 million guns and a trillion rounds of ammunition. If we had a problem, you’d know it!”
We’re about to have a problem.
Small acts of resistance (ERPO or other unconstitutional confiscations) will be the spark that ignites the confrontation that starts the war.
Short- and long-term survival depends on evacuating the hotbeds. Leave the states that have been most oppressive to the second amendment. You listening New York? The weather is not the reason for your mass exodus.
The lines of conflict will be drawn within these oppressive states. With luck conflict will not extend very far beyond their borders.
Growing ANTIFA Boldness
The election of President Trump ramped up the rhetoric of the militant left. This included a special brand of civil disobedience where Antifa found a voice.
“The antifa (/ænˈtiːfə, ˈæntiˌfɑː/)movement is composed of left-wing, autonomous, militant anti-fascist groups and individuals in the United States.
The principal feature of antifa groups is their use of direct action, with conflicts occurring both online and in real life. They engage in varied protest tactics, which include digital activism, property damage, physical violence, and harassment against those whom they identify as fascist, racist, or on the far-right.“
I’m not sure who edited their Wikipedia page this week, but suffice it to say they nailed it.
This mish-mash of individuals and semi-organized groups have now made a past time out of violent protest in the name of activism. Antifa has used recent unrest to seek out the headlines. From the violent protests in Berkeley of 2017 to almost weekly Portland protests they have gained momentum.
Add to the mix is the call to “Arm Up.” The Redneck Revolt and the John Brown Club have taken this literally. Their earlier videos didn’t actually inspire a lot of concern, or well thought out equipment or even safe gun handling. That being said there are rumors that they have received professional training.
Taking this a step further Redneck Revolt recently posted resources for guerilla combat. This includes sabotage, kidnapping and worse. Not necessary the actions of a Saturday night social group.
These actions all point to escalation of intent. They are currently satisfied with damaging their own neighborhoods. The question is, how long will they be happy with this.
Within every movement are a small number of extremists. They act to inspire, teach, and motivate other less committed in the group. This happened in the 60’s and 70’s antiwar protests. It happened in the occupy wall street movement. We can presume it’s happening in the far-left groups now.
With the proper spark (insert 2020 election here) these groups now have the means and motivation to strike out. They will strike against anything that they deem a threat to their socialist and extremist ideals.
The pattern of action will be easy to identify and easy to avoid if you are following local current events. As has happened in the past, the protests will be in urban centers as well as political centers. It is fair to say that mostly conservative and capitalist locations will be targets.
Urban preppers are best to polish and practice their evacuation plans. Have your gear in order to move in an instant. Prepare your “Area Study” and have prior knowledge of the Antifa and like-minded groups in your area. Follow their videos and tweets. Prepare for their protests and the inevitable violent escalation.
North Korean EMP
The North Korean dictatorship has never been a friend of ours. Despite recent allowances for civility they have a long history of voicing threats towards the United States.
Since in 2006 North Korea has been a nuclear power. The rhetoric that has come from the boldness of having nuclear weapons has only amped up their threats. Most recently this has included long range missile tests that have the ability to hit most of the continental United States.
The world was stunned in 2015 as NORAD admitted that North Korea now had the ability to target the US with an EMP capable nuclear weapon. As a historical perspective EMPs were tied to nuclear weapons as early as 1962.
Operation Starfish Prime detonated a high-altitude nuke and the resulting EMP affected Hawaii approximately 900 miles away.
Missiles aren’t the only threat from North Korea. In 2012 (well after they developed nuclear weapons) the N. Koreans placed satellite KMS 3-2 into orbit.
The orbit tracks over the US daily, the satellite is the size of a small nuclear weapon, and it orbits at a height of 300 miles. Dr Peter Pry, from the EMP task force has stated that this is the optimal altitude for an EMP strike.
I do not need to say it, but an EMP is a complete game changer. Successfully executed America would be technologically put back more than 100 years. We would loose power, most modes of transportation, communication, and most of our infrastructure.
Long term survival of an EMP will challenge even the most seasoned preppers. All your skills and survival goods would need to be in perfect order for you to survive.
Middle East Conflict
Ok, time to ramp it up a bit. Enough of this minor internal conflict stuff. How about that Middle East?
One of the least stable and most well-armed regions of the world is the Middle East. Most of the region’s countries are fraught with extreme differences. Secondly, the tribal landscape lends itself to divisiveness.
For example, Afghanistan is nicknamed the Graveyard of Empires. For over 100 years one empire after another has tried to impose democracy and has failed. From the British to the Russians to now the US we have only made things worse.
Today the entire region is unstable and would not be considered our allies. There are attacks on our assets by Iran and Syria. Never-ending terrorist attacks in the streets continue to thwart our efforts. Let’s not forget that Israel (the only democracy in the region) is universally hated.
While most of the violence is a comfortable 6,000 miles away the threats to us are still real. Any appreciable military strike on our assets requires bolstering of US troops in the area. This will only stress our defensive resources and leave us vulnerable in other areas.
As we have seen before, any active military action has a profound negative affect on our stock markets and economy. We have been riding a false recovery for 10 year and it will not take much to pop the bubble.
The resulting recession, unemployment, and economic hard times will test our current entitled generation.
Don’t be fooled though. Iran has the ability to bring the fight to us. While we can’t know for certain, it is widely rumored that Iran has sleeper cells and agents dispersed throughout the United States.
We know that our northern border is porous. We know there is a complete industry in bringing people across our southern border. We are vulnerable.
A few cells operating independently and striking decisively will bring terror to the country. It wouldn’t take much to paralyze our cities.
The greater risk is Iran’s skills at asymmetric cyber warfare. Iran has a world class cyber division. It is even rumored that they have already infiltrated our critical systems. Banking, electrical grid, and other critical control systems are all at risk.
With a concerted attack Iran can tilt the battle field to the American home front. Without power, money, or water we are finished. The devastation that would happen within a few days is unimaginable.
For long term survival be prepared to “go without” for an extended period of time. Can you go without city\well water? Can you go without the grocery store? Can you go without power? Review your preps and your plans. Identify the gaps and fill them.
BRICS Leaves the Dollar and Goes Gold
Not all attacks are dynamic. Some are slow, plodding, and relentless. Don’t fool yourself. China thinks and plans generationally. This is in direct opposition to the “immediate” American way.
For the past ten years the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa have been chipping away at the international dominance of the Petro Dollar.
The BRICS alliance has been forming financial arrangements that side step the US dollar. This reduces our leverage throughout the world. Add to this both China and Russia have been stockpiling gold.
The US left the gold standard in 1971 and created a fiat currency. The value of our money is derived from in the belief that it is worth something. That’s it. That’s all. Competing against a gold backed currency is something we cannot do.
China has outpaced almost every other country in gold imports. They are clearly challenging the US for world financial dominance. If they announce a gold backed yuan all fiat currencies (mainly the USD) will take an instant back seat.
Without financial leverage the value of the dollar will plummet. Prices on imports (specifically Chinese) will sky rocket. The resulting hyperinflation will ruin us.
Not all wars required gunshots.
If China and Russia via the BRICS bank ever pulls off a world currency flip, we are in for unimaginably challenging times. Expect hyper-inflation and all the changes that come with that.
Scarcity of goods will rule the day as the US longer has import power. With this comes food lines, rationing, and the elimination of government benefits programs.
We’ve seen what happens when the EBT program glitches or is, temporarily, shut down. The entitled generation will not take these hardships lightly. Riots and social disorder will spread as the looters set their eyes on other targets.
Long term survival will be challenging. Survival depends upon your distance from large population centers, your stored resources, and, your food freedom.
As with almost all survival scenarios challenges grow exponentially in cities. The greater the number of people. The greater the problems. The lesser your chance for survival.
If you must live in an urban area (e.g. due to family or jobs) secure a BOL or a rural area you can retreat to. Evacuate early, don’t wait until it’s too late.
Your prepper plan must include food storage. Take an honest assessment of how many calories you have on hand to understand how long it will realistically last. If you are below your comfort level then stock up. It’s impossible to store enough calories to last forever. However, you can store enough to get through the toughest times.
Long term survival of hyperinflation ultimately requires food self-sufficiency. During the depression (closest analogy to the upcoming hyperinflation) survival required a consistent source of food.
My grandparents lived in a small city and thrived by keeping a small flock of chickens in the alley.
Our current community cohesion probably will not allow this. But if you are in a rural area a flock of chickens or quail will provide supplemental calories to your food stores. Foraging skills and a small subsistence garden will also extend your stores. True food self-sufficiency is a complete lifestyle change.
Terrorism on Our Shores
Most of the serious events discussed in this article and those in our threat matrix involve terrorism strikes. Executed by the lone wolf or by organized groups they all bring terror to the population. Regardless of the size of the aggressor the effects can be far reaching.
Looking back to September 11th 19 terrorists brought the United States to its knees. The stock markets lost over 20%. Businesses and schools shut down while police departments around the country went into overdrive.
In April of 2013 two terrorists effectively shut down Boston for 5 days. They evaded capture after setting off two crude pressure cooker bombs. The Boston metropolitan area has about 4.8 million people. All were on edge as sections of Watertown were effectively closed to all movement.
My third and final example is the Metcalf sniper attack. A presumably small team disabled the Metcalf transmission substation within 50 minutes. They fired 100 rounds, ventilating thermal radiators causing 15 million dollars in damage.
These events were all executed by small teams. The Boston Bombers were self-radicalized and funded. By this I mean impossible to track. Each case affected millions of people. It wouldn’t take much for a few teams to attack multiple locations and bring the US to a halt.
A coordinated series of attacks would push the US over the edge. Additionally, the minute blood is drawn other enemies and self-radicalized individuals would join in. It would become a self-fulfilling prophecy of hate.
Survival of terrorist attacks is best when you are “Off the X.” Know locations of high risk and avoid them. Stay out of large gatherings, politically charged events, and large sporting venues. Avoid chemical processing, electrical facilities, and all high value targets.
If we are attacked execute your OODA loop. Observer the nature of the event and Orient yourself, your skills, and your responsibilities (are you with your family). Once you have all the information Decide and Act in the manner that best increases your chances of survival.
World War III: Nuclear Exchange
A limited or major nuclear exchange between the U.S.A. and some other power or force would see unimaginable destruction or outright annihilation visited upon population centers, followed by a complete upheaval in civilian life following elimination, reduction or disruption of basic services and commerce.
Tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of deaths will happen in a heartbeat when a nuclear warhead detonates, with subsequent and follow-on casualties growing exponentially in the aftermath thanks to radiation and fallout.
The intermediate to long-term effects are tough to predict, but shortages of medical care, food and water, if not outright famine, will become the rule. Refugees from bombed areas will be enormous in number.
Martial law is a certainty, and a draft call is very likely. Mass unrest and rioting, looting, and crackdowns will strain law enforcement and military personnel to their limits. America will be especially vulnerable to follow on attacks from external and internal forces at this time.
Surviving an initial nuclear strike is possible, so long as you are not near ground zero. That is best accomplished by living far from major population centers, military installations and seats of government. After that, avoiding fallout will be your number one concern, both directly and its ruinous effect on consumables.
Long term assured survival will mandate having a fallback location far from populated areas, significant stores of food, CBRN gear, and expertise for dealing with irradiated areas.
The U.S.’s debt is spiraling out of control, and no amount of rebranding or tin-plate promises will forestall the inalienable laws of economics forever. Society is only three missed meals away from total pandemonium.
When one day a dollar will only buy you a nickel’s worth of milk, society will unravel in short order. Riots and outright bedlam will become commonplace. There will not be enough law enforcement quell disturbances at any level, local, state or federal.
Without the rule of law, and with stomachs grumbling, the unfed and desperate will swarm like locusts. The situation will be worst, quickest, in major population centers as always. Your chances of becoming a victim will increase geometrically the longer you remain near large concentrations of people.
The intolerable strain on local food supplies already totally dependent on the gears of commerce will vanish in a blink. Starvation and malnutrition will be immediate threats, as will being attacked or even killed over basic commodities.
For those fortunate enough to be in areas where barter, farming and trade may see them through, government confiscation (at gunpoint) will be a constant concern.
Even in small, tight knit communities need will become a constant companion. Many will die from loss of once taken for granted things like reliable medical care, food or electricity.
Long term survival will be dependent on sustainably providing food, water and shelter. Those things will keep you alive if you can keep them; theft and brigandry will become common occurrences, perhaps even from current or former officials. Any disease or illness that requires steady access to medication or treatment may be a death sentence.
Total Loss of Power Grid
Whether from an EMP, severe solar storm or some other massive natural disaster, the result is the same: the lights are off, and they are not coming back on.
It is very difficult to calculate just how far reaching the consequences will be for a nation so hopelessly dependent on technology, with electricity being the most vital and fragile part of that system.
The U.S. power grid is tottering, old and vulnerable. A cascading failure will mean the vast majority of business and services halt, probably permanently.
No electricity means no computing, no refrigeration, no networks, no phones. Assuming the cause is something other than an EMP, these devices will all survive, but barring generator power and a steady supply of fuel (the extraction, processing and delivery of which is totally dependent on electricity) they will be out of commission.
Even a short term total loss of power to most or all of the country will see deaths from exposure rocket up, and shortly after deaths resulting from other complications like loss of power at care facilities.
A significant portion of refrigerated food will be lost, as will the ability to make more on the industrial scale required to feed a population numbering 320 million plus. The chaos and uncertainty of such an event will see some criminal elements operate more boldly, especially in major cities. Looting will become common.
The real question is whether or not such an event could be mitigated with a coordinated government response. Despite some half-hearted assurances, it is not likely currently that the federal government has a plan for dealing with a total loss of power thanks to a regional or grid-down event.
Long term survival will be predicated on having secure and hidden stores of food, medicine and fresh water. The ability to make do with manual power for everything from transportation to farming may make the difference in the long run.
A clever prepper may turn to homebrew solar, wind or hydro power, laying place such personal infrastructure ahead of time to keep the lights on and fridge cold with nary a hitch.
The above list contains the most plausible major threats to safety and security in the United States. Each one will result in long-term, enduring risk and must be met with an equally clear long-term strategy for survival. Hope is not a strategy: any of the above could happen tomorrow. It is best to plan now.
updated by M.I. Grey 01/16/2020
Charles Yor is an advocate of low-profile preparation, readiness as a virtue and avoiding trouble before it starts. He has enjoyed a long career in personal security implementation throughout the lower 48 of the United States.