A U.S. Marine on Every Day Carry: The Plan is Nothing, But Planning is Everything

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Dear Brendan,

We last discussed the two most common Everyday Carry (EDC) weapons.  Now let’s build on that and transition into the planning and development process to create your own EDC kit.

So the million dollar question is what should you carry?  There are many variables to take into consideration here and it will vary person-to-person depending on many factors.  Again there is no one size fits all EDC kit.  Your EDC kit will be tailored to you, your family, your environment, threats, and other requirements. 

First let’s address the “So What” and why you should create an EDC kit tailored to you and your family’s needs.  It goes hand in hand with the saying – “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”  Hey a failure to plan is a plan to fail. 

There are no mistakes…  Only consequences.

Now in the last piece I wrote to you, I discussed the two primary EDC weapons being a handgun and a knife.  The fact is there will be times and or places where you simply will not be able to carry a gun or knife.  This is where your training in various skill sets, tradecraft and combative arts as well as the importance of the right EDC tools comes into play.  It’s partly about the right tools for the job as well as having the proper mindset.  You must be able to win the fight under any condition.  Whatever you have to do, just find a reason compelling enough to win.

This is a good place to take a step back and reassess your own capabilities and training.  Know your strengths and limitations and find the balance along with a clear understanding of your environment.  Develop your own common operating picture (COP) that includes your skills, abilities, environmental variables and then leverage physical tools to give yourself and your family an unfair advantage.    

You must assess the risk versus reward of carrying or not carrying certain EDC tools.  This gets to the heart of your ability to defend yourself and loved ones without EDC tools.  You have to decide: Is less more?  Remember that everything you carry and even wear should serve a purpose. Why are you carrying it? Why are you wearing it?  For an example, I’ll often times carry more EDC tools when I’m with my daughters than if I’m alone. 

Why? Because I carry my EDC kit more so for them and others than I do for myself.  My Glock is for the protection of family, others and myself.  My knife is a universal tool—or weapon-- that I always have on my person whenever possible.  My medical kit is designed around my daughters as well as for self-aid.  I’ll discuss medical kits and the importance of self-aid versus buddy-aid at a later time.  Again it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. 

Too many people today are living in a fantasy world with rainbows and unicorns.  There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” Many people simply believe bad things will never happen to them or their families. Or, they believe someone else will be there to save them.  That type of mentality is dangerous both to themselves and to those around them.  It’s simply naïve.  If you’re wondering, one of your brothers actually defined naïve as “Innocent to the point of ignorance,” which I thought was pretty good. This kind of naïveté highlights the mindset of the people you can call sheep.  Maybe you saw the excellent movie, “American Sniper” and remember the part where Chris Kyle’s father laid out that there are three kinds of people in the world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. You and I are the sheepdogs that must protect the flock from the wolves of the world.  I encourage you to take a proactive approach to being a sheepdog. It’s the only way to succeed.

So how do you drill down and sort all this out?  Experience tells me the following: I recommend you use a process that is similar to what many in the military use to plan their missions.  The Army calls this Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) and the USMC calls it Marine Corps Planning Process (MCPP), but the two are essentially the same. I’ll break it down into areas you should assess, as well as variables and other considerations you will want to account for.    

To begin with, understand your environment (what marines and soldiers call your area of operation). This includes Mother Nature, such as do you live in an area with hurricanes? Tornados? Earthquakes? Floods?  Do you live in the city or out in the country?  Are you close to emergency medical services?  What medications do you or your family need?  Do you have a child with asthma or diabetes?  Where do you work in relation to where you live?  What is the level of criminal activity in your area?  What are the local security threats?  Develop Courses of Action (COAs) for these.  This will help you identify tools and resources to best respond to such threats and variables.  You may very well want to design custom EDC kits for yourself, each person in your family, your vehicle, and your home. 

Think of your home as your Stronghold. 

Once you understand your needs and your family’s, you can begin to create COA’s on how to best handle those needs.  What EDC tools will be most useful across a range of situations?  During this process you should be creative and think outside the box.  When selecting your EDC tools, think of the benefits and ask yourself why you should add any specific tool or piece of gear to your EDC kit before doing so.  Be deliberate, don’t rush into investing in any equipment.  Keep in mind the importance of space and weight considerations.  This is a good time to think hard about how you will you carry your EDC tools. They have to be convenient and accessible on your person and accessible in your car and home.  What type of clothing do you normally wear to work or on the weekends?  Is your daily clothing functional as it relates to your EDC kit?  It’s smart to take all of this into consideration.  This includes the type of pants, pockets and belt you wear. Do you normally carry a backpack, briefcase, or messenger bag?  What about your car glove box and center console?  What EDC tools should also be at the ready to serve your family?  

All of this highlights again the importance of determining your needs and your family’s. Think it all through-- your capabilities, your resources, the space you have available, weight limitations and methods of carry.  You have to answer these questions before you can start building your EDC kits.  I’ll also remind you to do some addition via subtraction.  If you don’t need it, remove it from your EDC kit.  You should also carry, load and organize your EDC kit in the most functional manner possible for you and your family. 

Remember to build your EDC kit based on your needs, not on cool looking tools that serve little to no purpose.  As you have heard me say before, you identify your needs and that will dictate what tools and gear you take with you and what you leave behind. 

Here’s a no brainer, but I’m going to say it anyway.  Be sure to train and practice with your EDC gear.  Try to find multiple uses for each tool so you can limit what you need to carry.

You should also update your EDC kit from time to time, based on the time of year, if you are traveling to different places or doing something you normally do not do.  You want to be confident you have the right EDC kit for your environment and family needs.  So when disaster strikes you are prepared to cover down and protect yourself and loved ones accordingly.   

Please contact us at AM STRONGHOLD if you would like our team to advise you directly on this topic.  Our team can also assemble EDC kits tailored to you and your family.      

Team STRONGHOLD will always be to your left or your right.

See you on the high ground…

-Travis