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Old 06-23-2013, 04:43 PM
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Most discussion of Bug Out Bags (BOB) assume some sort of disaster or collapse here in America or other advanced country. My current need is a good bit different, and I'd appreciate some input from the folks here on the forum.

I am the vice president of a non-profit corporation that provides financial and logistical support for missionaries in Sierra Leone, West Africa. One of my responsibilities is to help missionaries assemble their BOB before they leave for Africa. This is not a recommendation - this is a requirement for those going through our organization, though I suspect that most other similar organizations have the same requirements. The missionary compound is located near a gold mining operation operated by a European company, and everyone working or visiting that facility is required to maintain a BOB in their room at all times. In fact, that requirement is posted on a sign on the inside of each living quarters bedroom. They take the need VERY seriously.

In the past, it has been pretty informal - I'd go over what I have in my own BOB, what the situation is in Africa, and we would come up with a list as needed. We are now getting enough missionaries (mainly short term missionaries) that I want to standardize the BOB list, so I'm hoping that I can use this thread to toss over ideas with a bunch of folks who have already put plenty of thought into it.

Here is the basic situation:
This is a largely Islamic region, and from time to time, there is a concerted effort to rid the land of Christians. The Compound has been burned twice, but the main buildings were saved each time. There have also been a series of more specific attempts to harm or drive them out, but I'd rather not go into the details here.
This is the area that the book and movie "Blood Diamonds" was based on. The preferred method of getting a message to the politicians is to raid villages, hack off arms and legs with machetes, and deliver baskets of severed limbs to the steps of the government offices. Women, children - doesn't matter. This is an extremely brutal and cruel culture, so it is always best to assume the worst.
If an evacuation is called for, it means that people are trying to kill them. Lots of people. As the only White people in that region, blending in (Gray Man approach) isn't an option.
Bugging Out means making a run for an airport. Plan-A is make it to the gold mine and take a helicopter out if the company is able to evacuate their staff in time. Plan-B is driving the Toyota Land Cruiser either into the capitol or across a border into a neighboring country and then getting to the airport. Plan-C is anything else, because the distances involved and the hostile nature of the situation makes that extremely low odds of making it out alive.
Firearms are out of the question. Strictly illegal for ordinary people to possess. That's why the rebel army was able to go into villages and start hacking off arms and legs - the people had no way to effectively defend themselves. (Yes, there's a good lesson there.) Their main defense at this point is a pair of well-trained Australian Shepherds that have literally saved their lives several times. If an evacuation is needed, the dogs will be humanely killed rather than be left to the cruelty of the natives.

Some of the needs are standard BOB stuff. Some are very different; for example, a BOB needs to include bribe money for getting through impromptu road blocks and check-points, as well as dealing with government officials. Yes, it sounds bad coming from a Christian missionary organization, but that is a fact of life in Africa, and we just have to deal with it as best we can. Same with health maintenance items - Africa is known as "The White Man's Graveyard" for good reason. DEET and mosquito netting are mandatory, as is reliable water purification methods.

I have my list that I've been working with, but I'd really like to hear ideas from others before posting our BOB list. Keep in mind that space and weight need to be kept to a minimum - these are not 20-somethings just leaving a Ranger unit. They may be 30 year old women or 60 year old men or anything in between, and evacuation by vehicle means that a big pack would be left behind if another person can be squeezed in.

Your thoughts are appreciated! Thanks in advance.


Here's a photo of the mission compound.
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:04 PM
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My father used to drill for oil in the tribal lands of Pakistan. A lone white Christian man far beyond the help of any government deep in Muslim tribal territory.

He made it through it. How? Mercenaries hired locally. You might not be able to be armed but hiring security is commonly practiced by governments, corporations, and NGO's alike all the time.

Most of these local "jihads" get started when some greedy old dude uses religious propaganda on armed poor young folk promising them a better life or revenge for their suffering. So you either co-opt the old dude for a slice of the pie or put all those armed poor kids in a job so they don't listen to the old dudes.

Hire a local khaat chewing tribe with AK's and technicals and offer a bounty on recovering stolen gear. These guys will patrol like crazy when you say a case of something went missing recently. As long as those armed patrols are moving/searching in the area then it is highly doubtful the evil old dudes are going to choose your camp as its next target. They will find some other peace loving NGO to knock off.

Altrusium doesn't have to equate to being a victim.


Also, bring more dogs next time. And more vehicles.
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:10 PM
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Something like a big fanny pack. 2 quart canteens with iodine pills, power bars, sliver and gold coins maybe some paper money. Ferro rod, Swiss army knife, bug dope, sunscreen, toilet paper, first aid kit with: Imodium, a some good antibiotics, Advil. A spare pair of socks, map, some of their personal meds, small bottle hand sanitizer, dust masks, nitrile gloves.

How far are they walking, driving or flying? What is their standard EDC? Hat, boots, sunglasses...
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:24 PM
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One thing I have learned is that in those hell holes is fairly easy to buy a weapon or two in the black market..mercenaries to protect you is not a bad idea either but, mercenaries can and have been bought off and or scared away...I guess in this board is prohibited to suggest to anyone to break the law, so I am not suggesting that you buy a weapon illegally in the black market to protect yourself and your people...I just know what I would do
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:33 PM
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Something like a big fanny pack. 2 quart canteens with iodine pills, power bars, sliver and gold coins maybe some paper money. Ferro rod, Swiss army knife, bug dope, sunscreen, toilet paper, first aid kit with: Imodium, a some good antibiotics, Advil. A spare pair of socks, map, some of their personal meds, small bottle hand sanitizer, dust masks, nitrile gloves.

How far are they walking, driving or flying? What is their standard EDC? Hat, boots, sunglasses...
EDC will vary by individual, but hat, boots, and sunglasses are pretty standard, as well as a good water bottle.

Distances will depend entirely on which neighboring country is the least unstable at the time. They have a short wave radio that they regularly use to keep up with what is going on. In addition, they have several trustworthy men who keep them informed on what is happening locally (everything is local there). I should have also mentioned that, in addition to Islamic influence, native witchcraft is very big there also, and it is closely tied to the local political power structure.

Gold and silver coins are something we have discussed in the past, but we've settled on just using clad silver dollars (worth about face value). These folks aren't terribly sophisticated as to silver content. They see "big shiny, silver colored coin" and they're happy. Gold or silver is still something we're looking at in case that's the only way to get a ticket out of Africa, but lots of details to work out before we go that route.
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:40 PM
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One thing I have learned is that in those hell wholes is fairly easy to buy a weapon or two in the black market..mercenaries to protect you is not a bad idea either but, mercenaries can and have been bought off and or scared away...I guess in this board is prohibited to suggest to anyone to break the law, so I am not suggesting that you buy a weapon illegally in the black market to protect yourself and your people...I just know what I would do
I'm sure they're available if you know where to look, but a White guy isn't going to last long going into those kinds of places. In addition, there are other reasons why that isn't a good idea in this particular situation. Right now, the usual "tools" are the original Ka-Bar knife, machete, or tomahawk (usually one of the SOG designs). It needs to be something that can reasonably be considered a tool rather than strictly a weapon.

Mercenaries would be a good idea if we were running a business, but this is a Christian missionary project aimed at establishing Biblical Christianity there. Having any connection with the local warlords would defeat the whole purpose of being there. The risks are well understood, and those going there know there is a very real chance that they might not come back. We have a formal policy that ransom will not be paid under any circumstances. That's a pretty sobering thought.
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:46 PM
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Consider other barter goods as well. American cigarettes are light and portable. Always in demand. Usually there is an import limit but you get everyone bringing their max allowed and collecting them up for the trade stash. Putting a pack in every person's EDC just might buy them a bit of local help at the right time. Money and PM's are a double edged sword sometimes. The person helping you might think you have more beyond what you offer. But a pack of smokes isn't terribly evil greed causing yet still highly desirable. Zippo lighters are also popular world wide. They are handy for EDC as well. Nice sturdy stainless Timex watches qualify too. The key is to let them see a good value item they want without pushing them over the edge in greed mode.
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:49 PM
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Gold and silver coins are something we have discussed in the past, but we've settled on just using clad silver dollars (worth about face value). These folks aren't terribly sophisticated as to silver content. They see "big shiny, silver colored coin" and they're happy.
You use fake silver coins? Man, that's something that could really blow up on you in the future.
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Old 06-23-2013, 06:05 PM
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Something I did every time I arrived (unarmed) in an African country was to go the market and buy a panga (African machete). They attract little attention as they are universal tools used by everyone, everywhere, and cost $5 or less (even for a tourist). Easy way to become inconspicuously but effectively armed. Can be carried in a pack, on a belt, or simply wrapped in paper or cloth bag with local groceries when out and about. Ubiquitous, easy to explain away, and cheap enough to dispose of without a second's thought.

Everyone should have a wrist compass and a small LED light so as to be able to navigate on foot at night to a rally point or block warden collection point.

Camelbak or equivalent for every person. MicroPur disinfectant tablets for emergency (no filter) use.

Shoes to run in. Always.

Locally purchased umbrella included w/ BOB. For sun, rain, and hiding lily white features.

Small signal mirror and orange silkweight nylon panel for signalling helos or fixed wing aircraft. Keep in the CamelBak or pockets at all times.

Head scarf for women. Local sun/rain headgear for men. For hiding faces at a distance and for women to appear pious in Islamic areas.

Dark brown/ebony makeup compact for each person's BOB. For when you are really desperate and need to color faces, necks, arms, lower legs. Local dress and makeup coloring could provide just enough camouflage at a distance to make a difference. In Afghanistan I wore local dress and could not possibly pass for a local under close scrutiny (not with desert boots, desert BDU trousers, M4A1, and Anglo features). But with a beard, Pakol wool hat, patu blanket, man dress, tailored suit vest, canvas AK chest pouch, shemagh, and suntan... I could pass at 35 yards or more if someone just glanced my way. A little skin darkening might make a difference under some extraordinary circumstance.

During the Kenyan troubles of the 1950's, Anglo Special Branch police officers actually dyed their skin (and even eyes) in order to "pass" as members of mixed-race counter-insurgent Psuedo-Gangs. These tailored teams, comprised of Kikuyu insurgent defectors and Caucasian volunteers, physically infiltrated Mau-Mau insurgent groups in the field. They wore native clothing, wigs, arms, and durable dye/makeup. Never underestimate the efficacy of a decent disguise, even a simple one.

Malaria prophylaxis. Whatever your folks are taking (Lariam, Doxycycline, etc.)...they should have 2-3 weeks worth stored in their BOB.

Hire or arrange for armed security. It's worth your lives.

Don't know how y'all are fixed financially, but each person should carry a ready roll of bribe cash at all times and at least a laminated copy of their passport (if the actual ones are secured elsewhere).

Hire the local Facilitator. They exist in every African country as paid escort, driver, ombudsman, cultural advisor, vehicle wrangler, and trouble shooter for every NGO, tourist group, diplomatic mission, or military attache party. They charge outrageous money (in comparison to the local pay scale), but their services, connections, and cultural advice are critical. They know who is who, what is happening locally, which way current security winds are blowing, who to bribe, who to pay for expedited customs transactions, who to hire for other tasks, and where to buy anything. Combination Interpreter, Wagon Train Master, Man Friday, Jeeves the Butler, and hopefully... a good local friend. A good one is indispensable. A bad one will be a drain of your money and a spy.

Nevertheless, your Facilitator may be just the man to someday save your life or provide early warning...if well treated, well paid, and given respect as more than just hired help. Sometimes you will inherit a Facilitator. Sometimes the Facilitator (or other hired long term help) are actually government minders... helpfully provided to you to keep tabs on your activities. Normal stuff. Roll with it.

In some areas of West Africa, folks still subscribe to pagan animist theologies...even while professing Islam or Christianity. If so, they will still have a "Witch Doctor". This person is very important and wields significant influence over the locals. He (or she) needs to be made into an ally... putting your religious beliefs aside. With proper forms observed, this person may even eventually induct someone in your group of missionaries into the local sub-rosa religious circle. At that point, you will effectively have been given a power position in your dealings with locals.

A medic friend of mine did exactly this many years ago in Liberia. He became the area "White Country Doctor", imbued with the same cultural authority and prestige that the locals assigned to their own shamans. After completing lengthy rites of passage, he was anointed a Shaman...just like becoming a "Made Man" in the Italian Mafia. Made getting things done a lot easier. Honestly, it was because the locals regarded him as someone who could kill them with magic or emplace effective curses upon their lives. Naturally, it took a bit of time to develop the rapport necessary for this accomplishment. But he was there to help folks and better their lives through medicine...and they respected him for it. He worked with the local witch doctors rather than acting as a competitor. He gradually introduced western medical practice into their framework of spiritual treatment, while respecting their methods and prestige.

Not sure how that meshes with your religious principles and ideals, but... When in Rome...
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Old 06-23-2013, 07:57 PM
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Awesome post, Astronomy.
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Old 06-23-2013, 08:42 PM
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You're asking what's the best BOB to get you out of Sierra Leone? That's like asking what's the best medicine to stop the headache from hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. The answer is, don't hit yourself with a hammer. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. My advice is don't voluntarily inject yourself in a lawless, hyper-violent country where white Christians are the enemy and you aren't allowed to possess the needed weapons to defend yourself. Don't do it. Get a different job because you ain't going to fix Sierra Leone. Aren't there any people in Florida you can convert to your religion?
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Old 06-23-2013, 09:41 PM
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You're asking what's the best BOB to get you out of Sierra Leone? That's like asking what's the best medicine to stop the headache from hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. The answer is, don't hit yourself with a hammer. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. My advice is don't voluntarily inject yourself in a lawless, hyper-violent country where white Christians are the enemy and you aren't allowed to possess the needed weapons to defend yourself. Don't do it. Get a different job because you ain't going to fix Sierra Leone. Aren't there any people in Florida you can convert to your religion?
Will,
That is simply not an option. We've been in Sierra Leone for several years now, so we're not just starting out. You're right - we're not going to fix Sierra Leone, just as voting isn't going to fix America. The Bible is our sole source of direction for what we're doing.

This isn't really a "job" since it's strictly volunteer (in fact, I end up putting a significant amount of money into it - my wife and I financed the construction of the building in the center of the photo). I won't try to explain why, since this isn't the place, but suffice it to say that we answer to a higher calling. I'm just grateful that it's not me personally who is over there. I do appreciate the genuine concern though.
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Old 06-23-2013, 09:57 PM
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Astronomy - thank you for the great information. You've made some points that I hadn't considered previously. If we end up with nothing additional other than what you posted here, it will have made a difference. Thank you, sir!

There is some excellent information here in this thread, and we really appreciate it. Some of the tips are excellent for other situations, but for various reasons would not work for our situation without violating our reason for being there in the first place.

There is a level of danger that just goes with being a missionary in places like that. Less than a year ago, a missionary we support (somewhere in Asia) was killed leaving behind a wife and two teenaged daughters (it was one of the daughters who discovered the body). Most people don't realize what real, hard-core Christian mission work in some parts of the world involves. There are missionaries in "closed" countries, where they use the kind of procedures that you'd expect to see in an old spy movie - code words, encryption, aliases, cover stories, secret meetings, covert operations. The above-mentioned missionary who was killed was presumably killed by government agents of the country he was in, or of the country just across the border where he also worked.

I'm just thankful that I get to stay here in safety rather than being one of those who serves in the field.
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:07 PM
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You use fake silver coins? Man, that's something that could really blow up on you in the future.
You may have misread what I wrote. A clad coin is what the U.S. Mint has been turning out for a long time. The specific coins we're using are the Eisenhower dollars and the Kennedy Half Dollars. Nothing fake about it at all - take a look at the edge of any modern coin and you'll see the copper in the middle of it. When I say we're using clad coins, that just means that they are not solid silver from back when money actually had value. They are legal tender coins minted by the U.S. Mint that you can walk into your local bank and get. The difference is that they are worth about face value rather than the solid (non-clad) silver coins that now sell at a large premium as "junk silver".
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:18 PM
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CC,

I appreciate that the Grey Man routine may not be applicable. But in all honestly, have you considered carrying face paint (of proper color) and the traditional Burkha? In predominantly Islamic regions, women are covered head to toe (as I am sure you know). Who is to say whether that person is male or female, when all you can see is their eyes? Just a thought, however misguided.

Outside of that, many good thoughts have been posted.

Deet, Mosquito Netting, Medication, Med Kit
Machete, Ka-BAR, VERY bright flashlight.
As much local currency and cigarettes as you can carry.
3L Water capacity, plus water purification (iodine, steri-pen, Katadyn)
High-energy snack food
Versatile, reversible, low-visibility clothing.
Local Trak-Phone, cheap and readily available.
A map of the region with key locations, embassies, borders, phone numbers, etc.

CM
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:04 AM
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My advice is that you remember that you are a guest in someone else's country, and a potential hostile invader. Imagine if some muslim missionary group built a compound in rural Alabama and how precarious that situation would be.

Your survival is almost entirely dependent on your social skills in this case. Rule number one for keeping your limbs is to not **** anyone off. Don't be a threat, and make lots of friends who will vouch for you as an okay group, and not just because you are paying them off.

Also, don't wave silver and gold around being someone's get rich quick scheme.

That said, don't ignore defense against the lone *******. Just don't look like a threat. Understand that Africa has a long history of groups just like yours committing atrocities murdering anyone and starving out anyone that won't convert and/or simply becoming local warlords themselves. They're already going to be watching for that and if you give anyone a chance to make you out to be one of those groups they will think they need to defend themselves and attack you preemptively.

Then of course there's all the environmental hazards and just plain thieves. My greatest advice would be to just not be there in the first place. Go 'mission' in Cancun like the other 95% of missionaries.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:54 AM
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Sounds like details of blood type and an up-to-date will would be worth carrying.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:55 AM
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And if you send me your account number I will deposit $10,000,000.00 in your account so we can safely handle the estate of our president........

Get out of Africa now and don't look back
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:56 PM
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...at least a laminated copy of their passport (if the actual ones are secured elsewhere)...
Rather than a laminated copy how about a Passport Card? Yes, I know they are officially only good for travel to/from Canada/Mexico but my thinking is if I lost my passport at least I am carrying an official US Govt ID that should help me through the process of dealing with a lost passport.
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Old 06-24-2013, 03:50 PM
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as for water I carry a little squeese bottle full of bleach. 2-4 drops per canteen, or bottle and a lot of drops in a little bottle cheep and easy to fill back up. Couple that with a steel cup to boil in and your set. Amazon (Thumbnails) cover
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