Civilian Lessons – Ukraine

Civilians in Ukraine

First, I hate saying I told you so, but I got all kinds of negative feedback on social media for my article, “The Russians Are Coming”, calling me alarmist and “fear-clickbait”. I was simply telling you that the Russians were indeed coming. February 23rd made perfect sense for a date because it’s the date of the Ukrainian Revolution in 2014.

Everyone has been glued to social media, watching the footage, hanging on every new video or report, most of which later turn out to be staged or false. What we are missing are the lessons we could be learning as people interested in preparedness.

The first lesson comes from stress. This situation is somewhat surreal, because on the first 3 days of the invasion, people were out walking around, going to the coffee shop, and appearing to go to work as gun battles raged around them. In one famous video, people are walking down both sides of the street, and cars are just driving down the road, as a Russian Tigr armed with a 12.7mm (50 cal) machine gun engages in a duel with a Ukrainian anti-aircraft vehicle. The two are blazing away with machine guns and spraying rounds, as people just calmly drive past. Surreal.

We’ve seen videos of people in cars ran over by tanks and civilians wounded by fire. Don’t-Be-There-Jitsu applies here. Stay off the roads in contested territory.

So, if there is a riot, or (God Forbid) large scale combat action (even domestic conflict), do not be out on the streets. If you must move, stay off the street. As I point out in TW-02 Fieldcraft, move either through backyards or through the interior of buildings. If at all possible, move only at night. Use your basement and get below ground level if you can.

Please do not be like this guy. He picked up a land mine and carried it off into the woods. You never see the ending of the video, so I don’t know if he survived, but this is just plain dumb. It’s not brave; it’s foolhardy. He is lucky, because most land mines have anti-tamper devices which will go off the minute you move it. He’s also, again not smart, smoking a cigarette while doing this.

As soon as Putin made his now-famous speech about recognizing Donetsk and Luhansk as independent countries, people flocked to the stores and emptied the shelves. By day 3 of the invasion, riots were breaking out at government food distribution points, proving once again that my 72-hour theory is solid. The same happened with gasoline. The time to stock up is NOT when enemy forces are approaching, or when the riots start, or when the lights go out. It’s now.

Random bombings and stray rounds are causing a lot of civilian casualties. Have a high quality and fully stocked first aid kit available. Sure, you might have enough gear to treat someone until an ambulance comes, but what if the ambulance can’t come until daylight due to rioting or hostile action? Do you have the supplies and skills to stabilize and maintain a critical casualty for 12 hours? Start developing it.

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Looting began almost immediately. Have a security plan. What we are seeing, as the photo at the top shows, are neighbors banding together to secure their neighborhoods, not just from the Russian invaders, but also from looters and thieves. Do you know your neighbors? Have you developed a plan and trained together? These are things you need to work on. TW-03, Defensive Operations deals with this specific topic. Jack Lawson’s outstanding book set, the Civil Defense Manual ( has step-by-step instructions for setting up a “Neighborhood Protection Plan”.

The Ukrainians don’t have a Second Amendment, and the government began a crash program to issue firearms to citizens to assist in resisting the invasion and self-protection. In America, we’d already be well on the road to being self-sufficient for security, but this event teaches a valuable lesson about having an armed citizenry.

This is illustrated with what happened to the Chechen Expeditionary Force that entered Ukraine yesterday. The Chechens are well-known for their counter-insurgency tactics, which really results from them being the only armed people in unarmed societies. There were videos of them fist-bumping and trash-talking before they crossed the line and started moving into Ukraine. A couple of hours later, they are on social media complaining about having been driven off their objective because the resistance was fierce, and one of them said “even the trees have rifles”.

One of the most common comments I get is people saying, “I don’t want to play soldier”. Well, when a crowd of rioters show up, or any hostile force (foreign or domestic) does, you can’t learn the skills in 5 minutes. Our lesson here is to develop a security plan. Own and train with firearms as much as your local legal system allows and FIERCLY defend those rights from politicians. Ukraine should put an end to the debate, but it won’t.

Another lesson comes from radio. The Ukrainian government ordered all Amateur Radio to not broadcast, because they didn’t want anyone accidentally giving the Russians information. This hints at the power of radio listening. Have a capability to scan radio frequencies in your area to gather information. Log that information and look for trends.

Interestingly, the Ukrainian National Guard ambushed a Russian patrol and recovered a Baofeng UV-82 handset from inside one of the Russian Tigr vehicles. I’m sure it’s not issued and the squad members probably bought them themselves, but it goes to my point of using Baofengs for short-range intra-team tactical communications.

Evacuation planning is another lesson learned. There is grid lock from the Poland border for nearly all the way back to Kyiv, and enemy soldiers are beginning to mix with evacuation traffic. Once again, this is caused by everyone flocking immediately to the freeway, the high-speed route, to escape. Your plans should NEVER involve using the freeway unless you leave long before everyone else.

I always say that if you evacuate at the first hint of danger, you can always come back if it turns out you didn’t need to. The opposite, waiting to leave later when you should have left, is not always true. You might not ever get out or you may have to abandon your vehicle.

In 2008, civilians waited for a government order to evacuate Gori, Geogia, which never came. The people panicked when Russian fighters bombed the city and artillery began falling. There was only ONE bridge leading out of the town. It became clogged with traffic and the Georgian police were ordered to clear the bridge so that the police could escape to be used to defend the capital, Tblisi. Rather than obey orders to drive over civilians, the police with their small arms turned around and attempted to fight off the Russian armor and mechanized infantry. Russian bombers destroyed the bridge to prevent the Georgian police from escaping, killing many civilians in the process. Failing to evacuate early caused this tragedy.

Right now, plan out four routes away from your home and work. These routes should avoid known chokepoints like narrow bridges, interchanges, and major intersections. Try to use back roads. Develop them now and drive them. Maintain this as part of your Area Study. Also, make sure the route avoids targets like police and fire stations, and government offices. Major shopping areas should be avoided as well.

The last point is more of a caution than a lesson because the bad part hasn’t happened yet. We are seeing video after video of people filming combat columns from their windows. While it makes for great social media content, it’s a good way to get shot. Imagine being a 19-year conscripted soldier (draftee), driving down a road in a hostile country. You see movement at a window and notice someone with something in their hand pointing at you…what would you do? Swivel your PKM machine gun around and put 20 rounds through the window.

But we have to look out right? Buy a trench periscope. They are relatively cheap and readily available. It allows you to lay on the floor but extend the top lens up to the window. It probably won’t be seen, but if it is, I’d rather have the lens shot out than my eyes.

Tactical Wisdom

We will do another installment in a couple of days where we will discuss dealing with rumor control and other civilian lessons learned in Ukraine.

If you weren’t aware, I appear on the Writers Fix Problems YouTube channel as a member of the Council on Future Conflict. At the moment, we are doing daily 9 AM (Eastern) shows to cover developments, and a weekly show every Saturday at 7 PM.

I am also considering my own channel to share short videos on preparedness skills and gear. If you’d like to support that new project (cameras aren’t cheap), please make a donation below.


Donation – March 2022

Donation to support YouTube Channel development.



Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

5 thoughts on “Civilian Lessons – Ukraine

  1. “He’s also, again not smart, smoking a cigarette while doing this.”
    Tell us again how cigarettes cause land mines to explode. I missed that part.


  2. If the Russian’s (the good guys) were invading to liberate me from a Sorros/Globalist back thug-ocracy, I’d arm up and join them and wave the Russian flag off of my home to show support.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. During the Active Phase of an Invasion, regardless of the “Side” you are on, staying out of the Line of Fire is Priority #1. If you are Not a part of an Organized Militia, that is working with, by a prior Plan, Fighting Against, or Falling in Behind “Your Sides” regular Military isn’t a good Idea, unless you are being Overrun by Opposing Forces. Even if you are Clearly Identifiable as (pick a Side), the Other Side will Shoot at you, and you still might draw (un)Friendly Fire.

    Once the Regular forces have gone past your immediate AO, you are either behind Enemy, or Friendly Lines; in any event, you are now going to have to Defend against Looters, Criminals, Deserters (from either side) and of course, government bureaucrats. Your Own ‘government’ is likely as much of a Threat as the “Enemy”. This is the point were actual Guerilla Tactics and Procedures come in to play.

    One thing that is not mentioned by the FUSSA ‘media’ is that the Donbass Region of the Ukraine (the two Counties that Seceded) have for the last eight Years been Fighting, in an Organized Way, against the illegitimate, foreign-installed (((regime))) and with Aid from Russia, these two Independent “States” have a regular (if small) Army. This is a Completely Different situation than we will be facing here when (not if) things go full-on “Mad Max” .

    Liked by 1 person

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