If It Takes a Battery — It’s Going to Take a Sh*t When You Need It

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

We live in a world were you can push a button and your car will parallel park itself.

There is an app for everything from listening to music to tracking your flight information to identifying where your friends and family members are within a couple feet. Ask yourself if you could go one full hour — much less a whole day — without your cellphone or laptop.

So yes, technology is amazing and getting better every day. It has made our lives safer, easier and better in so many ways.

But one common element in these electronic wonders is they all need a power source to operate — and that source is often a battery.

What if one day all of these batteries failed? Could you make it through life without these items? Could you even make it home?

In this article, I am not going to go down the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) road. I just want you to imagine a day without battery-operated equipment.


Could you get to work, school or the hospital if no vehicles were operational? Your options would come down to a bike, a skateboard or walking. Check out a few additional human-powered alternatives in this recently posted article on choosing your survival transportation.

Next, would you know how to get where you were going without electronic navigation? Keeping a paper map of your area with your survival gear is key — as well as owning and knowing how to use a compass. You’d be surprised how many people nowadays don’t have that skill.


If cellphones, tablets, computers and most landline phones were all but gone — how would you communicate?

In the SEAL teams, we never went on a mission without a “no comms plan.” Basically, this meant that in the event we couldn’t talk to each other, we had a series of time-and-place plans.

For example, “At 0600, meet at map position, geographical location, structure, etc., and wait for 30 minutes. Then, if there is no link-up, meet at next location at 1800 and wait 30 minutes.”

I highly recommend you create a no-comms plan with your family, because in the event of a major disaster, typical means of communication will be useless.

Transportation and communication are two of the most critical aspects of survival that will be severely affected if batteries bite the big one. But think about this:

  • Do you know how to make a cup of coffee without a Keurig?
  • Can you cook without a microwave or an electric stove?
  • Do you know how to build a fire for light and warmth?

That’s why I think it’s important that even if you use the technology, you…


When I was going through SEAL training, we spent a lot of time and traveled a lot of miles on foot learning the craft of land navigation using a compass and pace count (how many steps equal 100 yards).

After a week of traversing mountains, we all had the same question: Why in the hell are we doing this since we have GPS units that can put us within one-quarter of an inch of our desired location?

Then one of the senior instructors told us something that I will always remember and even passed on to my boys…

“Gents, if it takes a battery, it will take a sh*t exactly when you need it!”

Fast-forward several years to my first deployment in Bosnia. My team had been compromised. I was speeding in to recover them using a GPS, and like clockwork it died on me. A compass got me to my team that day and got us all out alive.

THAT’S why we mastered the basics — so we’d never find ourselves at the mercy of technology.

It’s like Albert Finney said as Kincade in the movie Skyfall: “Sometimes the old ways are the best.”

Be a survivor… not a statistic,

Cade Courtley

Cade Courtley

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