Answers to Readers Questions (Part One)



I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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I asked you in one of my previous posts what you would like to see or read here on blog and your answers were great, actually I did not expect so many comments and questions.

There are some comments and demands about topics that I already wrote here yes, and there are some new. Since number of questions is huge, I will every now and then, publish one post with my answers and comments on some of your questions.

Some questions will require an entire post alone.

So here are few:


Respectfully, I would ask three questions:

  1. How did people most often arrive at the decision to give up, and stop surviving?
  2. How did others (family, group, squad) etc. handle that when became apparent?
  3. How was it most competently handled by the group when a member did that?



Thanks Ivan.

When you are thrown into a survival situation, decision to give up is not so much connected with the lack of food, safety, water, services etc.

Usually it is connected to the realization (of the person who is giving up) of the fact that there is no clear clue when all things will come back to normal (when he again gonna have food, water, security etc.)

When you go days into fighting, starving etc- surviving is a process where you push your body and mind more and more, and if you “look too far into distance” and there is no clear evidences that things will get better – your will can be crushed very easily.

You may conclude that “it is not worth it”, and then that’s it.

I know it is generalization but yes, you need not to look too far and to have high hopes, you just need to operate in your small circles and push day by day.

It was bad thing to see, and it happened, often. Good “cure” for it was that you need to find use or task for that person, you need to bring back a sense of purpose to them.

Easier way was to find job for them -taking care for food, watching for the kids, anything  that would make them feel useful.

If member of the group “ gave up” and if the group structure was ‘family’ then usually other members try to give some support or if that failed then just leave him alone in terms of duties and everything, nobody had too much time for psychological help in that days.

If group meant several people “bonded” together by chance or temporary need (no big and strong connections between them) then other, harder, measures were in place.



Thank you once again Selco for showing us that the positive side of humanity is always capable of returning and surviving.

What I have always wanted to really know is; what is it like to be in a SHTF situation when the UN troops are there?

What are the UN troops REALLY like?

How to best act / behave / handle UN troops?

I ask because I have heard both positive and very negative things about UN troops. I simply ask for the truth here.

Thanks Again !!!



You heard good GRA.

UN troops were patched together from the different Army contingents, so there were British contingents, Spanish contingent, Pakistani,  Portuguese, Dutch etc.

Looking at the big picture they did horrible job because they were under armed, desperately badly coordinated between different contingents and without clear cause and function and political support.

So in reality we had situation where two opposed local units are in the middle of fight and each unit is around 2000-3000 men strong with tanks and artillery and suddenly there is UN unit moving in with 5 APC’s and 50 men in order to make ceasefire, and of course everybody shoot at them or simply take their stuff and make hostages of them.

They did not have clear tasks, political will behind them and firepower.

On the local level, when it come to individual members of those UN forces, I have seen cases where they simply break the clear orders and attack some guys in order to save civilians.

So there were good people there, but horrible organization behind them.

They did save people, evacuate injured civilians or get shot while they tried to bring food in areas where people starved..

They smuggled food sometimes sell it to us for different kind of things (or services)… All different kind of things, but I like to think lot of people among them were trying to do good stuff.

When it comes to fighting capabilities I remember the British army as a tough guys.

Those were UN forces, they failed to make peace, later came International forces (US led) with clear will and duties and we all here were fed up with slaughtering already, and what was most important with huge amount of force, and by the shear amount of force they succeed to bring peace, it was philosophy of : “who ever keeps firing after this date will be leveled by us”.

And it worked.

How to handle UN troops?

Every “UN troops” deployments are doomed unless they are coming with HUGE amount of force and in great numbers, or they coming  into the region where any kind of will for resistance is crushed long time ago.

As an addition to your questions and since I am aware of other comments (and worries) about “UN forces on US soil” I really have to say my opinion- it is kind of fantasy.

Numbers in US, numbers of weapon in US make any kind of “UN troops coming to US to pacify us” simply and clearly impossible.

To “pacify” somebody you need force several times bigger then opponent, and you need it on the ground usually, and you need some kind (to some extent) will to be pacified.


I’d like to hear about how you bartered for things you needed.

What were valuable items for barter? Was the local currency still worth something?

Were foreign currencies used? What about gold or silver jewelry or coins?

How were you able to ensure your safety during barter transactions? What did you do if you found out you had been cheated?

Little L

I did write about this topic already, but since it is important topic (and one of the favorite on blogs and with lot of myths too) I will answer it in short.

First and most important is that nothing was pre-set, nothing was constant and that include basic factors like values of items, security of trade, rules of particular trade etc.

As the situation worsened more into the direction of real SHTF situation people started to appreciate (and look for) usable items, and when I say that, I mean items that solve your immediate problems.

So for example if you had precious artistic picture that in normal times is worth around 10 000 Euros you could not do to much with that in terms of trade because simply people did not care for that, they were hungry, wet, cold, dirty, without enough weapons and bullets.

Maybe you could find some war lord who had connections with outside (normal) world and he could maybe give you 20 cans of meat for that art because he know you are starving.

Or in other case he could simply take it from you (and maybe kill you or not) because he is warlord and you are nobody.

Now this is something that can be transferred also in terms of owning precious metals for SHTF.

When SHTF it will worth much less simply because you can not eat it, or you can not shoot from gold coin to someone, yes you can try to buy weapon with gold coins or food (at outrageous price, and with danger of getting killed) but what is the point? Why not store food and weapons in the first place?

Gold and silver jewelry or coins in form of small rings and necklasses as a temporary bribe in some situations works really cool, and as a stash when some kind of society jump back in (when SHTF ends) is good idea too.

But in the middle of SHTF I prefer more usable items.

In my case local currency worked in the beginning stage of SHTF, but it was very short period, then foreign currency jumped in (US dollars and German marks) and as situation worsen prices of things for marks and dollars went up very sharp, and also situations where you could buy something with it become rare-people started to trade.

Ensuring safety during transactions (trade) was problem, but common sense was to never go alone on trades (3 is good number) to trade with known people (returning trades) or to go to trade on confirmed information (you get information about trader from trusted person who already traded with him)

Of course very often you could only go in 3’s, all else was unknown, so you took the risk.

To have rumor (or information) about you that you are bad trader (cheater-you gave bad item to someone) was bad because rumor then goes around and no one want to trade with you.

Also revenges for bad trades were hard and sometimes final.

But for example it was not always about physical punishments, guy cheated me once with some things and I simply “spread” out information on correct places that he mixed plaster and similar things in his wheat (for trade), and soon he was simply “scammer” and nobody wanted to works with him.

By the way it was lie, his stuff was good, but it is an example of how things worked.


I hope these answers help? Let me know in the comments below if anything was of specific use or interest to you…?  I’ll be answering more of your questions in future posts!





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12 Responses

  1. UN troops, in general, do not end conflicts. The most they can do is separate the warring groups, if they can even do that. They are rarely backed up by air power or heavy armor; they usually do not even have the resources for sustained combat. Even well-trained European troops are ineffective under these conditions.
    I am old enough to remember the fighting in the former Yugoslavia. Until NATO went in and actually started bombing, the UN troops were totally ineffective, including the French and Dutch troops. It wasn’t that the UN troops didn’t try. They were given a mission they could not hope to accomplish.

    1. Yep, something like that.
      UN troops also had “right” to use air attacks on ground targets ( they did that couple of times as i remember) but what was biggest problem they did not had enough political will and agreement between different fractions to use force.

  2. Thanks Selco. Also thanks for your input on trade at such a time. Under such circumstances, I must admit that I would be rather fearful making a trade, as I would not be able to trust anyone. I appreciate your experience on the usefulness of accumulating wealth (gold, money, etc) as opposed to usable trade items as well.

  3. Thank you again Selco. I learned from this, and more importantly it refreshes what I learned from you last year. Now I am looking back at what level I was a year ago compared to where I am now, and I am breathing easier. Also I am in an area where crime is increasing and making plans to move, but now am much more confident of a better chance for survival. One thing I encourage your readers to do is what I have done. There are many chances to become a gray man with connections and I encourage people in US to become volunteers in their community.

    Volunteer to work in the city and county Emergency Management, Search and Rescue, Police and Sheriff Auxiliary members- even if it is just a ‘ride-along’, medical and fire services, farmers markets, kids programs like Scouts and 4H and FFA, volunteer to feed the hungry, do a church activity where you are making decisions and involving people.

    It’s about 3 things- helping the community to become more resilient and able to withstand more disaster, getting new skills yourself and applying them, and making important connections and friends. These things are very important. Sometimes you may not be a friend with someone but their connection can be very important.

  4. Ii was assigned to NATO in Europe and found generally the troops wanted to do the right thing, The command was the biggest issue. Middle command was the functioning center for an op. Noncoms and junior grade officers seemed to make most of the decisions, Very few competent staff officers.

  5. “Also revenges for bad trades were hard and sometimes final.

    But for example it was not always about physical punishments, guy cheated me once with some things and I simply “spread” out information on correct places that he mixed plaster and similar things in his wheat (for trade), and soon he was simply “scammer” and nobody wanted to works with him.

    By the way it was lie, his stuff was good, but it is an example of how things worked.”

    DID YOU DO THIS BECAUSE YOU WANTED TO HAVE A SUPPLY? You became the only person who would trade with him?

  6. I think another thing to remember for the first question is prayer and faith. I know not all are Christians, but the Lord will help you. The bible has all the answers.

  7. THANKS Selco! As USUAL, you’re honest assessment is EXTREMELY helpful AND useful! I too am old enough to remember the horrors we saw, (children & parents snipered in street, kids begging, terrible NON-conditions,[where people seemed to be living in destroyed buildings, for lack of secure ones).

    It also seems, [from your earlier posts], that FAMILY or CLOSE TIES of FRIENDSHIP were VERY MUCH MORE secure,{IF that’s a good word}, and functioned more smoothly,{again probably “ify” word}. Soooo, my questions are:

    Did having “family CLANS” assist or distract? AND Were “Barter Areas” developed, OR were they always “on the fly”; “moments of opportunities”; so-to-speak? …OR…simply inconsistent? AND! How did you deal with Water? Finding & purifying?

    THANKS AGAIN brother!

  8. We are going to Haiti for the winter as teaching missionaries. (Yes I know this is foolish from a survivalist standpoint. But we have different parameters than most people.) We were there only two weeks a few months ago and saw the uselessness of UN troops. (The Haitian Govt disbanded their own military for fear of a coup…) Not only useless but often arrogant. They have escalated prostitution esp among teen and preteen girls, who have nothing, and see it as a way to have ‘stuff’. And they just recently broke a ring of child prostitution run by UN troops where young children were held hostage in buildings and made sex slaves. We saw many young UN men riding back and forth in trucks to where?; they have huge empty buildings for what?; and saw UN trucks parked in handicap spots etc as if they owned the country. I am sure many of the men are well-meaning, and trying to help the miserable conditions that still persist due to corruption and mismanagement by the govt and foreign “aid” entities–but the general consensus was that the UN presence was detrimental to society as a whole.

  9. Wow. Excellent lessons again from Selco. Thank you Sir. I think these words of wisdom may one day save many, many thousands of good people. I have some friends who swear by hoarding gold and silver but have very little in the way of food and long-term supplies. I used to be blunt with them that “you cannot eat gold”, but that was not the most constructive response and often caused arguments and grief…(even though it is painfully true). Lately when the subject of gold comes up I simply avoid the subject altogether and urge my friends to be sure to save at least a few months of food and have a reliable simple firearm that uses common, easy to find ammo. I can easily see a day in which a full ounce of gold will buy only a few cans of food.

  10. Selco, you should write a book. I would buy it, blindly. A recopilation of all your stories. I live in a difficult country right now. And I find some advice and relief in reading you.

    I would bring your book overseas, no matter what.

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