Russian MI lessons on surviving the forest

MI scouts often operate deep behind enemy lines.

MI scouts often operate deep behind enemy lines.

RIA Novosti/Vladimir Vyatkin
Military intelligence (MI) scouts often operate deep behind enemy lines, so they must be ready to use basic survival techniques and coping mechanisms in any vital situation, to ensure they return alive from their assignment. “Survival” courses are also taken by cadets of military universities and soldiers in military units. Can ordinary people survive alone in extreme conditions? We share some survival techniques used by Russian MI.

Access to water

The easiest way to collect water where there are no springs and forest streams, is to tie a plastic bag to the base of a plant. It is possible this way to collect around 50 ml of water in an hour. It is also possible to collect condensed moisture from the ground, torn leaves, grass and moss. Place a container in the middle of an excavated pit and cover it with polythene, onto which sunlight falls. You would get around 300 ml of water in the day.

Finding fire

Using a plastic bag in the woods can get you more than just water, so this is an indispensable item for an intelligence scout. A plastic bag can be transformed into a magnifying lens, by filling it with water, and then using it to build a fire from sunlight.

Obtaining food

For food, modern MI survival techniques call for the use of a variety of traps and snares, made from simple knives and bootlaces. These look like devices used by John Rambo for “hunting” police. With these makeshift snares, you can kill even as cautious an animal as the wild boar. To successfully catch wild animals, these snares must be placed on paths over which the animals travel. In situations of acute hunger, not only mammals, but also reptiles, and forest growth like mushrooms and berries can be consumed.

Providing shelter

For a person alone in the woods, it is difficult to build a shelter using carved stakes and large tree limbs. There are easier ways to build shelters, using the topography and vegetation. A tree that has been broken by the wind and has a dense crown can be used. To increase protection from wind and rain, it can be further covered with bark or spruce branches. To quickly build a shelter with small poles and branches, use twists and thick tree trunks.

Act in accordance with the weather

To plan activities in advance, it is important to gauge weather conditions for a few days; wait out the bad weather in a shelter and, in clear weather, try to get out of the woods.

Predicting the weather can be done with various indicators. In central Russia, for example, indicators for clear weather are a clear night sky studded with stars, a bright moon, dawn that is golden or pale-pink. For a windless night, in the afternoon the wind increases and then subsides in the evening, the smoke from the fire rises up in a column. At night there is heavy dew (in winter, frost), in the morning heavy fog, disappearing after sunrise, ants are highly active; on the grass and bushes there are copious cobwebs, flowers of plants are wide open, the coals in the fire are quickly covered with ash; all indicate clear weather. The deterioration in the weather is indicated by strong winds, no dew, closed flowers, ants hiding in their nests, insects not visible in the air or on plants, bees returning to their hives, and worms crawling to the surface.

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