What are your basic survival needs?

I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to travel to many continents. In the mid 80s I spent quite a bit of time in parts of Africa and Asia, and then again to return in the early 1990’s. The countries that amazed me the most were Egypt, Saudi Arabia and also Israel. Something mysterious and amazing about the desert dwelling lifestyle of these areas and then the contrast of their large, westernized cities.

I spent most of my time in the desert manning some small military outpost with a handfull of other Army soldiers near Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt with occasional visits to cities such as Cairo, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel. The biblical history of such places always intrigued me. Our outpost was located along the shores of the Sinai Peninsula (or Gulf of Aqaba depending on the map you’re looking at) setting another wonderful contrast when desert touches the sea.
My basic survival needs were supplied regularly by the military. Food, water, and basic hygiene supplies were delivered to our outpost, so we were always comfortable within our double-wide type trailers surrounded by 7-foot-high sandbag walls.

(The only item we needed was Alcohol. As Egypt is a majority Muslim country, many locals abstain from alcohol completely). The stores in the our area reflected this belief and alcohol was very hard to find. Luckily, the military taught us to Improvise, Adapt and Overcome so a once-a-week covert missions into Israel took care of the alcohol supply problem.

Our daily interactions with locals were usually with the Bedouin people (“Badawi” in Arabic). These people were a semi-nomadic group of desert-dwellers known for their resourcefulness and hospitality. The Bedouins survived harsh weather conditions and lived in difficult environments. We usually traded simple things with them such as clean water, bread, or a M.R.E (Meal ready to eat) for a handmade knife, some type of novelty or even the occasional small block of hashish.
The large tribe of Bedouin people that were near our encampment always made me think about the differences of peoples lives. For example: and what some felt their basic survival needs were compared to others living in different areas or circumstances.

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

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

Have you thought of your basic survival needs? Yes, it’s a simple textbook answer: oxygen, water, food, and shelter. Could you live without air conditioning in Arizona in mid summer? Could you live without the luxury of a cell phone, or is that one of your basic survival needs? I’m writing this more to be thought provoking than informative. Have you dialed in your actual survival needs?

If you had to survive for 3 days away from your home, vehicle, or anyone you knew, what would you want with you? Here lies the question: list 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 it one.

When I was outside of the United States and out of my comfort zone, this made me realize that we make a lot of “things” and items necessary, which when and whenwe are apart or lacking these “things” our mental state declines because we feel without.

Do we “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome?” Or do we fall in a slight depression because we are without something that we have become so accustomed to for so long?

Get out of your normal environment and take with you only a few survival necessities. See what you are made of because that is why you will survive.

Never Stop Training

For any questions regarding my article, please email me at
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Oz Johnson/Lead Instructor, NRA Certified