How to Survive World War 3: Prepping for a US Mainland Conflict
Aside from everyone nuking each other into mutually assured obsolescence, the World War 3 worst-case scenario for Americans would be if the conflict reached the American mainland. An invasion. A massive assault.
The ideas seem unlikely, considering that the last time there was a full-on war on the American mainland was during the American Civil War. Previous to that, there were some foreign invasions but our land has been protected from battles against other countries almost two centuries.
But is it really so far fetched?
There is a great deal of debate about whether it could happen. I can’t predict the future, but I can analyze the possible threats and make suggestions for preparing for such an event.
In all of this uncertainty, one thing remains sure: it would be an entirely different ballgame if the battle came to us.
Why have we been safe in previous World Wars?
There are many theories about why the United States has been safe during previous conflicts. Here are a few reasons that foreign armies haven’t invaded.
- The Second Amendment: Americans are armed to the teeth. Most other countries on the planet do not have an armed citizenry. The fact that almost half of the country is armed and that there are more than 357 million civilian firearms (and that is just the number of guns that are registered – unregistered estimates boost the number as high as 600 million) means that a foreign army on the ground would face major resistance. However, in certain anti-gun strongholds like Chicago, New York City, and Southern California, the risk of resistance would decrease accordingly. As well, an unfortunate downturn in gun ownership also weakens us.
- Trained and organized forces: We already have an organized military, from our armed forces to the National Guard. Add to this our police forces, sheriff’s departments, and our veterans, and there are many trained people on our soil at all times. Many states have citizen militias that train regularly as well.
- Geographic isolation: A stealthy invasion would be very difficult due to our isolation. A land invasion would have to come through Canada or Mexico. Canada would most definitely resist, although Mexico could be a wild card, especially with our strained relations. And crossing the Pacific or Atlantic with enough soldiers for a physical invasion of a country with millions of people wouldn’t exactly be a subtle process either. Our advanced warning systems would detect breaches in airspace or waters of any force large enough to do this. Add to this the fact that our Navy is almost triple the size of the next biggest naval force on the planet. (China)
This doesn’t mean a mainland conflict is impossible, though.
While this appears to be the least likely scenario, it doesn’t make it impossible.
During a chat with a military friend, he said that if he were going to invade the mainland, he’d collapse the economy first. As preppers, we all know that an economic collapse would lead to internal strife. Our on-the-ground military and police forces would be busy trying to maintain some type of order. Martial law would probably be declared.
Then, incoming forces would be able to sway the minds of many people with the idea of freedom from this martial law. Think about how easily many people in the younger generation have been co-opted by idealized notions of communism or socialism, and you’ll realize this isn’t such a far-out concept.
An invasion like this would be a psychological operation (psy-op) more than a typical battle.
And, as much as we’d like to believe it is, our airspace and waters are not 100% impenetrable. There have been near-intrusions into both in recent months. Back in February, a Russian spy ship was reported only 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut. In early April, increased Naval aircraft patrols sparked concerns that a Russian or North Korean submarine might be lurking off the coast of California. Later in April, Russian military planes were flying uncomfortably close to US airspace near Alaska for 4 days in a row. Those types of intrusions indicate the possibility of attack rather than invasion. If we were crippled by a massive attack, the invasion part would probably follow closely behind.
What are the most likely scenarios?
These things nearly always start out with a shocking event that no one saw coming. Think back in history to the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the German invasion of Poland in the wee hours of the morning. No one went to be the night before expecting all hell to break loose the next day, with enemy soldiers overhead or encroaching.
Border and coastal areas would be most vulnerable to initial attacks by air or sea. Nuclear weapons are likely to be used in such attacks. Those living close enough to potential targets need to get their nuclear preparedness plan in order, just in case.
Kim Jong Un can’t shut up about his plans to nuke America and Russia recently backed out of a disarmament agreement, failing to dispose of enough weapons-grade plutonium to make 17,000 nuclear warheads. The North Korean leader keeps doing unauthorized missile tests to prove his nuclear potential. In fact, yesterday, one of his missiles landed a mere 60 miles off the coast of Russia.
A cyber attack could take many directions, but the most likely would be crippling the internet and/or the financial sector. It’s possible that US Defense computers could also be affected. Any of these would cause chaos in the day-to-day affairs of many people. Last week’s Ransomware attack would only be a drop in the bucket compared to the havoc that could be wrought.
- You might not be able to use bank or credit cards, causing business transactions to grind to a halt.
- You might not be able to complete your work (most places rely on the internet for at least part of their business activities.)
- The market would potentially crash or shut down, causing billions to be lost in a day.
- If defense technology was hacked, we might not be able to see or prevent a physical attack.
Something that would definitely cause our country to grind to a halt would be an attack on the grid. Whether through an EMP or a cyber attack, anything that shut down our ability to use electrical power would be crippling.
Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, predicted that a full 90% of Americans would die. R. James Woolsley, chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified to the committee of the potential ramifications:
“It’s briefly dealt with in the commission report of . There are essentially two estimates on how many people would die from hunger, from starvation, from lack of water, and from social disruption. One estimate is that within a year or so, two-thirds of the United States population would die. The other estimate is that within a year or so, 90% of the U.S. population would die. We’re talking about total devastation. We’re not talking about just a regular catastrophe.” (source)
It would be an easy thing for nearly any invading force to come in after something like that.
A biological attack could take many forms. It could be the release of a virus, but this would be risky for the enemy country as well, as these things are difficult to contain. It could be something released into water supplies in large metropolitan areas.
The Department of Homeland Security provides this description:
A biological attack is the intentional release of a pathogen (disease causing agent) or biotoxin (poisonous substance produced by a living organism) against humans, plants, or animals. An attack against people could be used to cause illness, death, fear, societal disruption, and economic damage. An attack on agricultural plants and animals would primarily cause economic damage, loss of confidence in the food supply, and possible loss of life. It is useful to distinguish between two kinds of biological agents:
- Transmissible agents that spread from person to person (e.g., smallpox, Ebola) or animal to animal (e.g., foot and mouth disease).
- Agents that may cause adverse effects in exposed individuals but that do not make those individuals contagious to others (e.g., anthrax, botulinum toxin). (source)
Attacks from Within
In what just might be the most chilling prospect of all, an attack from within our own borders could be devastating. This is a scenario that seems more likely in a place like Germany, where unchecked immigration of young men of fighting age leads to the potential of a fighting force of millions already in place.
However, look at our own civil unrest since the election of President Trump. Have you ever seen the country so divided? As Americans fight with each other, would it be so difficult to imagine the different “sides” aligning with other powers? Regardless of whether you think the pro-Trump people are the worst or the AntiFa people are, this divisiveness and hatred weakens us as a country and opens the door to foreign interference.
When you add to this the suspicions that some of this division is suspected to have been funded by professional sh*t disturber George Soros, you need not look very far back in history to see that Soros has a record of promoting unrest and destabilization for financial gain. And when you consider our own media has aligned itself against the President, an attack from within isn’t a huge stretch of the imagination.
Take that scenario a bit further and consider the proxy war being fought in Syria right now between the US and Russia. Should all hell break loose within America, even if other countries aren’t directly involved in starting it, you can rest assured that they’ll be choosing sides and fanning the flames of conflict. And then, someone will be there to sweep up the pieces and “help” us.
How on earth do you prep for something like this?
Prepping for the unprecedented is purely theoretical, but nearly every disaster has some potential occurrences that we can base our plans upon.
Disruption of transportation: Regardless of how the event goes down, it’s likely that transportation would grind to a halt. This means that stores wouldn’t be restocked and the “just-in-time” system would ensure shortages within the first 48 hours. You wouldn’t be able to order stuff online, because that wouldn’t be able to get through, either.
In a case like this, what you have on hand is all you have. You need to be prepped for a long time between grocery store trips with shelf stable supplies. The fastest way to build a supply is by purchasing buckets of food, but it isn’t the most economical way. This book outlines how to build a supply of whole, healthy food on a tight budget.
Widespread civil unrest: We’ve already seen unrest in small areas scattered across the country, and it got ugly fast. This trend could become much more widespread, with looting, vandalism, and sheer chaos. Here’s a checklist to help you get prepared for this potential. In such a situation, you must also be prepared to defend your family. I strongly recommend that you get armed for such a potential scenario. Of course, it’s not enough to just be armed. You’ll want to also be trained. Shooting is a perishable skill and you must practice diligently. Your life could depend on it.
Another aspect of civil unrest would be hungry people beating down your door because they know you have food. It is of the utmost importance that you practice good OpSec for such a scenario. If others know that you have supplies, they will expect you to share. If you refuse, things will get ugly. There is a fine line between working together and giving away all your supplies to those who did not prepare.
Martial law: In an all-hell-breaking-loose situation, martial law is almost a given if the government is still operational. There can be just as much risk from your own government as from foreign powers.
In a highly charged situation like this, police and military are trained to use the most efficient methods to speedily shut down a conflict. These methods can include tear gas, sound cannons, and outright physical assaults on citizens. It’s important to note that fear can be a powerful motivator when deciding how much force is appropriate when addressing a threat. Cops are just as subject to fear as the rest of us. 20 cops with shields and batons would be quite reasonable to fear an angry mob of hundreds of shouting people.
Your safety when interacting with officials during a martial law situation does not rely on the intentions of police officers and military. It really doesn’t matter if they are trying to crush your rights under a jack-booted heel, or whether they are trying to benevolently keep people safe and re-establish peace and harmony.
Here are some suggestions to help keep you safe when dealing with cops and soldiers.
- Avoid crowds. If you are in the midst of a crowd, you’ll be considered part of the crowd and treated exactly like everyone else in that group. If they get tear-gassed, so will you. It’s guilt by association. If the crowd is violent, and you are part of the crowd, you will also be considered violent, and you’ll be dealt with accordingly. Legally, you are actually guilty if you are part of a group that is violent. GO HOME.
- Be polite. If you have to interact with officers, be courteous. You won’t restore the Constitution by arguing with them or threatening them. It’s fine to assert your rights – you don’t have to allow them to search your house without cause, for example, but do so civilly. Belligerence will get you nothing but a beat-down.
- You don’t get to explain. In a highly charged situation, the cops probably aren’t going to listen to you when you try to explain that you’re just taking that baseball bat in your hand over to your nephew’s house so he can hit some balls in the backyard. No matter how innocent your intentions are, if you’re walking like a duck, you’re going to be treated like a duck. Training will kick in, and perceived threats will be immediately neutralized by whatever means the cops find necessary.
- Stay home. It really isn’t worth risking your physical safety to go see what’s going on.
Underneath the uniform, cops are human. This isn’t me justifying the brutality or the methods, but an attempt to shed light on their motivations. Cops are just as likely to be swept up in a herd mentality as thugs are during a high-stress situation. By understanding this, you can be better prepared.
Nuclear preparedness: Most people picture a nuclear attack as something that results in a nuclear winter akin to that grim, awful movie, The Road. While that isn’t impossible, it’s more likely that the attack would be a smaller one on a designated area. If you are outside the immediate blast zone, the event is completely survivable if you are ready for the possibility.
Here’s an overview of what to do in the event of a nuclear strike. (Also, we’re currently interviewing experts at Preppers University for a full-length class on the topic. Sign up here so you don’t miss the notification.)
Some things to keep on hand in the event of a nuclear attack are
- Personal radiation meter
- Protective gear
- Potassium iodide tablets for each member of the family (go with the IOSTAT brand)
- Supplies to seal off your home
- Enough emergency food and water to remain on lockdown for 9 days to a month.
Biological preparedness: General pandemic preparedness will help you to be ready for the potential of a biological attack. Whether the instigation of a pandemic is deliberate or not, the safety measures will be the same. This article gives you an overview on pandemic preparedness and this book provides thorough detail of what you should do in the event of a pandemic, including vital information on different types of pandemics.
As well, download and print out this fact sheet about different biological threats and proper responses to them.
Make a gray man plan: In nearly any situation, your ability to avoid notice will keep you safer. As mentioned above, you don’t want all of your neighbors to know that you are stocked up and armed to the teeth. If you’re in public, you don’t want anything about yourself to stand out and be memorable. Here’s a great article by a former surveillance operative to help you blend in.
Band together: If you have like-minded neighbors – even if they aren’t preppers – there is safety in numbers. Get to know the people who live nearby and think about who you could trust in a difficult scenario.
This doesn’t mean that you need to tell them what kind of supplies you have. It just means that by building relationships now, these could be the people who have your back when crazy things go down. If your neighbors aren’t a good gamble, consider an exit strategy for getting to your extended family. Selco of SHTFschool, when talking about the occupation of Bosnia, says that people survived by living together in one household. Consider it now – who could you depend on if your town turned into the Wild West? What skills do you personally bring to the table?
Have a long-term survival plan that is already in effect: If you are already accustomed to being self-reliant and living frugally, it will mentally be far easier to transition yourself to wartime survival. Trying to learn to do all of these things when you don’t have any back-up from the store is a risky situation. I wrote about some of my own farming failures in this article. This is why you have to live the life now.
- How will you collect and purify water?
- How will you grow food?
- Do you have the supplies and gear to grow that food?
- How will you raise livestock?
- Do you know how to preserve what you grow?
- How will you protect your little farm from 2-legged and 4-legged critters who want to eat it?
- How will you heat your home in the winter?
Remember, once things go down, you won’t be able to purchase the supplies to make your rain barrels and outdoor cooking pits. Do these things now.
Consider an evacuation plan: If it came right down to it, is your location survivable during a year-long (or longer) siege? Large cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles would not only be targets for foreign occupation, they’d pose great survivability issues if they were blockaded or if the grid went down. Smaller towns and cities could be better bets, or rural areas with neighbors that aren’t too far away. (After listening to the advice of some people who have lived through dire situations like this one, I completely changed my own long-term survival plan.) Above all, you need to have your team, as I mentioned above.
If you live in a place that would not be survivable, it doesn’t mean you have to pick up and move right away. It means that you do, however, need to have a plan that doesn’t make you a refugee. Know where you’ll go, how to get there, and ensure that you are expected and welcome.
Are you prepared for World War 3?
If you knew that World War 3 was going to start tomorrow, what would you do today to ensure you are prepared? The global tension doesn’t seem to be easing. An attack on the mainland is not impossible.
Maybe it’s time to make stop putting off those things you know you need to do.
Check out the rest of the World War 3 Series.
About the Author
Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. Daisy is the publisher of The Cheapskate's Guide to the Galaxy, a monthly frugality newsletter, and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. She is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find Daisy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.