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Charley Hogwood


Charley Hogwood has proudly served our nation for over fifteen years in the United States Army and the Florida National Guard. He was an honors student in a class of 436 soldiers at the Leadership Development School in Fort Benning, Georgia, among many other leadership and survival certifications. His experience has been tested on several continents and in many natural disasters. Trained as a reconnaissance scout his experience covers a wide range of specialties from tactical environments to Radiological/Chemical situations to complex human disasters. As head of his local CERT team, Charley has undergone additional training in Disaster Preparedness, Fire Suppression, Medical Triage, Search and Rescue, Disaster Psychology, and Terrorism Threats. Charley is also a certified graduate of the Pathfinder School’s Advanced Swamp Survival Course.

Charley is Chief Instructor and Executive Director for P.R.E.P. Personal Readiness Education Programs, Charley is responsible for designing and teaching over 40 different courses in various areas of emergency preparedness and disaster readiness, as well as urban and wilderness survival.

Currently he is pursuing a degree in Emergency Management to add to his extensive skill set. Charley also speaks at various preparedness events and provides private consultations to both individuals and mutual assistance groups.

Charley originally published this book as MAGS: The People Part of Prepping, which became the foremost guide to planning, organizing and building a mutual assistance group for a survival situation.  This book, and the MAGS principle, has been utilized by small and large groups alike, and has also been used as a team building resource for corporations and civilian organizations.

At P.R.E.P. they focus on seven main aspects of preparedness: Food, Water, Shelter, Safety/First Aid, Security, Energy and Communication. The MAGS principle considers all of these aspects of prepping and how they apply to forming a prepper group.

He lives near the Everglades Swamp in Southern Florida with the love of his life, wonderful daughter and his Brazilian Mastiff Rufus,  The Ready Dog who chips away at his sanity daily.





The Survival Group Handbook

by Charley Hogwood


I read a lot because I am always learning.  I'm a fan of Prepper Fiction because it is entertaining, instructive and an excellent method of bringing non-preppers into the fold. But there comes a time when you need to get down to the brass tacks. Survival Guides fit the bill.

I was honored to review The Survival Group Handbook by our friend Charley Hogwood whose resume as an expert in survival and preparedness is extensive.  I can consume Prepper Fiction in a day, or two (I read fiction fast, like watching a spell-binding movie). Survival Guides take a little longer due to my extensive note taking.

The Survival Group Handbook is of particular personal interest to me because this is the single biggest issue of concern for us ...

Prepper Group or Lone Wolf Prepper

I have read dozens of survival guides.  All stress the same point:

You can't go it alone ... There's strength in numbers ...

The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.

Okay, I get it. Blah, Blah, Blah. But what about the Prepper who has inherent trust issues.  Whether it's dystopian fiction, or real life experience, we have all been "stabbed in the back" (and many times in the front). Well, after TEOTWAWKI, "stabbed in the back" will take on a whole new meaning. If you associate yourself with a group that is untrustworthy, or has ulterior motives, you could lose all your preps, or die.

Charley Hogwood deals with this subject in great detail in The Survival Group Handbook through his detailed analysis of concerns to Preppers and his concept of MAG's, a Mutual Assistance Group for survival.

At P.R.E.P., the Personal Readiness Education Programs, of which Charley is Chief Instructor, the team focuses on these seven critical aspects of survival: Food, Water, Shelter, Safety/First Aid, Security, Energy and Communication. The concept of a Mutual Assistance Group is carefully intertwined with these basic elements of prepping. He shares these concepts with us in The Survival Group Handbook.

The question of Preppers Group versus Lone Wolf Prepper may be the single most important preparedness issue we address, but it doesn't seem to get the same attention as Preppers checklists. So what's the answer?

The Survival Group Handbook provides a detailed discussion. It's all about trade-offs, and trust. A properly created Prepper Group provides you security and resources that you may not have.

Are you willing to make sacrifices to gain the benefit of "strength in numbers?"

If you are the alpha male, king of your castle, are you willing to step aside and allow group leadership by someone else? What will be your role within the group?

What processes are required for the introduction of new members, or the eviction of unsavory ones?

What about sharing preps with others? Who takes the lead on security?

All of these issues, and more, are contained in  The Survival Group Handbook. In addition, I was fortunate enough to catch Charley before he went off the grid for the winter and asked him a few questions that I believe will be instructive to my fellow Preppers.

charley hogwood author

Q: What’s the best advice that you can give to a prepper family who simply cannot bring themselves to “trust” their neighbors when it comes to forming a MAG?

Trust is developed over time and is often hard earned. The other thing about trust, once it is damaged or lost it is nearly impossible to regain. Especially when it comes to leadership and the best interests of the people. When it comes to neighbors we need to keep in mind the normal situation. The vast majority of people do not move near each other with survival in mind, it has more to do with a nice house in an affordable neighborhood. We have little choice in who lives next door.

When it comes to forming a MAG in this situation it will be very important to frame the discussion to the crowd you are dealing with. You are not seeking members for a survival group per se, you are attempting to organize neighbors in such a way that if disaster happens in your community, your neighborhood will pull together.

Maybe not all of them, maybe not even most of them but some will and those will reveal themselves as your core group. This is where you begin the trust process. Knowing whom you cannot trust is just as important as knowing whom you can trust. I recommend you begin by framing your discussion as forming a disaster resistant neighborhood and avoiding all survival group terminology.

When people hear the words survival or preppers they think Doomsday Preppers or militia. These words often scare average people away and may even make you a target.

Those that think being prepared in a group already know and will be open to the disaster initiative.

Those that have no idea about this stuff but seem like ideal MAG partners will need to be escorted gently through the process until they come to accept it on their own.

Those that think this is all a waste of time will also let you know or they won’t show up at all until something bad happens.In the end, try to make friends at house parties or weekend picnics on the patio to form relationships but dole out your trust carefully and incrementally.

Don’t share your private family information. You wouldn’t share your bank account data and thus you don’t share your private preparedness information. How much food and survival gear you have is your business. The idea of being prepared and working together should be advertised loud and clear.

Q: Charley, while you were asleep, the SHTF. After waking to the news, what are your first thoughts?

First I would want to know what happened and to what extent. Different scenarios shape my first actions. Ideally the event was not a total surprise and was picked up in my hazard analysis so I could be ready.

To answer your question I would say that the best prep to have in any event is a plan. Let’s say the event was a levy break and floodwaters are rushing through the neighborhood consuming houses as in Katrina. My first actions are immediate safety for the family. Can we bug out in time or do we climb on the roof? If we live in such an area the plan and supporting equipment are the critical prep.

If we awoke to a power outage that may have turned out to be a total grid down or EMP, our first prep is security and then a way to preserve or cook the foods in our refrigerator and freezer. If we woke up to a running street fight by rioters and police we would be thinking self defense against anyone crashing through the door and a plan to fight fire while we made ready to bug out when the window of opportunity opens.

Response to all SHTF scenarios begins with situational awareness, a pre-conceived plan and the ability to evacuate the area very quickly if necessary or possibly shelter in place until you can’t stay there anymore.

Security and life sustaining actions and equipment are always preps number one.

Q: What TEOTWAWKI collapse event concerns you the most?

Technically any event that goes full on TEOTWAWKI will have the same results. There are a couple of things that have been on our radar for years.

Initially we felt as if a contagion may go pandemic which would in turn cause our globalized society to sputter resulting in supply and logistics systems to fail at critical junctions. I don’t think Ebola has that ability unless it actually goes air transmissible, which it may have based on the recent CIDRAP report (Oct. 14, 2014). This was just discussed on our video show with our good friends Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy.

The other TEOTWAWKI event we see may not be so cataclysmic but still a major threat is another depression. It may or may not begin with a fast dollar collapse it may be a slower devolving of our standard of living until all of a sudden people realize something bad has been happening. If we see bank holidays in this country that’s a clue trouble is brewing. Otherwise if our dollar loses reserve status we are in for a rough ride. Other currencies are already chipping away at that. If we lose that status and our ability and will to project power globally among other challenges the pressure may shift inward on our population.

Bottom line here is to become more self reliant as a family and depend less on the system to reduce the potential impact.

Q: As you advise your new preppers, especially those that are budget conscious, what steps do you advise taking to start prepping?

The first thing you always want to do, especially if resources are limited is to get a realistic view of what hazards could affect you and plan for those first. Resist the temptation to panic over hyped stories you see on TV or web. Most of those doomsday events have never or rarely happened, but there are many thousands of people who perish and become homeless due to other events every year. Learn about and prepare for those hazards first.

As far as preps, food, food, and food. You don’t need a pallet of bucket style manufactured freeze dry food. Store what you already eat and rotate it into your diet. You will save at least 50% on your annual food bill and save countless hours by shopping tactically, it’s actually easy and we do it all the time. Remember that stores are designed physically and psychologically to make you spend money.

Use Mylar bags of high quality to repack your dry goods and save major dollars. We offer classes and materials to help with that. Work on a water plan depending on where you live and what water is available. Learn medical skills and collect a lot more medical supplies than you think you’ll need. They go faster than you think.

Also think security, you may not need your own armory but you will need a way to protect what you have. Most of all learn and practice basic survival skills.

Skills and knowledge are cheap and lightweight and you always have them when you have nothing else.

Q: Five quick picks, and explain your choices/recommendations if you’d like:

1.   Bug In or Bug Out

I prefer mobility always first and homesteading/bugging in second but still critical. You can prepare your home all you want but if it catches on fire or gets taken away it’s all gone. Also, homesteading gear is not as easily transportable as bug out gear. If you can evacuate quickly with skills and supplies you can carry, you can survive in other places or on the go until you find a place to settle down.

2.   45 cal or 9 mm

Depends on your ability and what you are comfortable with. In survival there is one constant and that is called “trade off.” .45 has more stopping power but 9mm has more bullets. Skill vs. luck, have you practiced your skill or is your plan to spray and pray? Personally I would take the .45 because I want to mechanically disable the attacker sooner than later.

3.   AR or AK

I’m partial to the AR platform because of my military service. I think they are generally more accurate and modifiable to my desires and the ammo is more available. Again, “trade off” I know I need to stay on top of my maintenance to keep the AR running smoothly whereas the more powerful AK will almost always work even with a bent barrel and filthy and it makes a good club when the ammo is gone.

4.  Pre-packaged meals in buckets or food stored in mylar bags/canned

I avoid freeze dry buckets like the plague. They usually have little to no real protein, which is why they are able to keep costs down, (and your muscle mass too). The serving sizes would make me cranky in a real survival situation and I don’t ever see a time when I say to the wife, “That bucket food has been sitting in storage for 20 years, we better start eating it so it wasn’t a waste of money.”

Mylar is definitely the way to go. I store the foods I already eat for just as long as a bucket. I can even make my own buckets. The foods will be complete in nutrition and far tastier. I can also store Mylar foods a lot cheaper than buying the pre-made buckets. The high quality bags we use are even reusable many times over and I happily rotate Mylar foods through my diet so they are never wasted.

The keys to food storage are shelf life and rotation.

5.  Who’s more bad-ass, Army or Marines?

Army. next question ...

Q: Who is your favorite author and/or book?

For fiction adventure, Clive Cussler hands down, the Dirk Pitt series. For general wilderness survival I gotta say I really like Mykel Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Guide. It’s big but just fun to read. I have hundreds of books but The Survival Medicine Handbook is exceptional, Jim Cobb’s books are a great starting point for new preppers, Dr. Prepper’s Back to Basics is very comprehensive and I also like everything that Arthur Bradley writes. The Survival Group Handbook is also a personal favorite but I may be biased on that one.

Q: What question should I have asked, but didn’t? And, what is the answer to that question?

What is the area of survival that we should focus our preps on?

1.  Food

2.  Water

3.  Shelter

4. Safety/Health

5.  Security

6.  Energy

7.  Communication

8.  Transportation

Establish incremental time line goals such as 3 months, 6 month, 1 year, etc. of  survival time and scale all of your preps evenly for the set period of time before moving one area to the next level. Don’t prep lopsided by storing 10,000 rounds of ammo and only 1-week’s worth of food. Also, if you buy grains for food storage, know how to use them and have the tools to prepare them such as a grain mill, etc. Look for gaps and blind spots such as this in all areas of your plans and have skills and redundancies several levels deep in critical areas. This means learn some alternate methods and even drill down to primitive in the basic areas of survival such as making fire and preparing water, etc.

This is a long book, extensive in its analysis, and extremely well written.  It starts with an excellent preface by Dr. Joe Alton, a/k/a Dr. Bones.  It is directed toward all Preppers, regardless of their levels of skill. It is useful to those who have already established a Preppers Group, and it's especially useful to those who have apprehensions about sharing their preps, skills and knowledge with others.

A note about format. My iPad has become a physical part of me. I love reading Prepper Fiction on it. Many of you have Kindle Readers or other tablet devices for reading. However, I suggest that you purchase the paperback edition of The Survival Group Handbook. I recommend that you build a Prepper Resources Library in the event of a grid down scenario that prevents you from having access to your beloved electronic devices. You might as well get used to reading "old school" because when the SHTF, we'll be living like it's 1899!

That said, without question, if you want a better chance of survival after TEOTWAWKI, read The Survival Group Handbook and by all means encourage the members of your Prepper Group to do the same.  When dealing with others, it helps to "be on the same page"!

Because you never know when the day before ... is the day before. Prepare for tomorrow.

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