Strategy; Surviving Behind Enemy Lines

Strategy; Surviving Behind Enemy Lines
If caught behind enemy lines, the focus of the person shifts to survival. Photo Courtesy of NYT

Survival, one word that means a lot to combat soldiers. It is another special vocabulary for comrades. Comrades simply survive throughout their campus life unless they are the few privileged. Hustlers survive too as a matter of fact. If they are not surviving, they are abusing the term hustler.

But then, surviving means way too differently to a combat or combat soldiers caught behind enemy lines. I realized what it means to survive behind enemy lines last week when I read about Scott O’Grady, an American fighter jet pilot who was shot down by Serbian forces in 1995.

I wondered what it feels like to be in such a situation as his. I have read and watched documentaries about Vietnamese detention camps for captured American soldiers and it is something one can never want to find themselves in.

Far from it for Scott O’ Grady, after he was shot down and finding himself in the woods, his assailants started searching for him with one mission; to kill him. The same fate had befallen a soldier who fell from a snook jet in an ambush on American Soldiers by Al Qaeda at Takur Ghar.

For him, he was killed after being caught. Scott O’ Grady knew far too well that nothing is measured to happiness for a caught American Soldier by an army from another country. Like hijackers, theirs is a business to kill as a way of jest thumbing on their prowess.

For him not to be the ink in the stamp pad, Scott had to do something drastic. To avoid the enemy soldiers by all means. He had to survive behind enemy lines in a forest the enemy knew far too well and with very limited supplies.

I guess he had a nine-millimeter pistol, 3 packets of water and a radio which couldn’t reach the altitude of the searching jets above. The guy had to eat wild leaves, insects and try to get water from the leaves. Imagine being hungry and getting the motivation to keep living? That is part of the survival techniques I guess these soldiers get in the training camps.

Now think of the enemy lines we find ourselves in and we need to continues surviving despite all those hardships. Be it having a hard time at work, and you have to wake up every morning and go work alongside that demeaning boss or work mate, is equivalent.

How do you even get motivated to continue in such an environment? The ultimate prize at the end of the day overrides everything else and you have to be innovative if things have to go on. Probably you remember of the kids waiting you at home with those responsibilities and you have to strategize on how to continue working alongside such a bad boss or colleague.

One thing I like about military and their training is that they are trained to survive by all means. And survival is what we need in this age and era. I came face to face with this hard reality after a conversation with a tuktuk driver last week too; what a coincidence?

I enjoy using the three-wheel vehicle once in a while despite all the reservations people have with its safety. As we went along, the driver in front and I sitting at the back, this guy started to give me a story. Interestingly enough, we were the two of us only.

He told me of how he was seriously hustling and trying to survive because Nairobi is very hard. I couldn’t agree any less with him. In fact, I agreed with him strongly and even asked him to teach me on how to drive a tuktuk.

By that, I had opened the Pandora box. He told me how he is multi-skilled. Besides the tuktuk, he could drive a vehicle, he could be a tout, he also told me of skills in juakali. It was a strategy to survive behind the enemy lines; kanairo as this city on the ‘rocks’ has been labelled lately.

As O’ Grady could later realize when he found himself alone in the Serbian jungle with the least combat supplies and a necessity to pull through till rescue came albeit the slim chances, hope and perseverance are very important.

His success became as a result of strong faith, hope and will not to give up. He continued trying even when his radio frequencies could not be picked up by surveillance jets up in the skies. In continuing to try, help finally came and I am sure he became glad to have survived that one.

Post that experience, I tend to think that he learnt on the state of being prepared to sail through very mucky and tough waves. In such a case where it is baptism by fire, one needs to always be a quick thinker and innovative at the same time. Knowing what to do is very important as to when and how to do it. Sometimes the determinant for success is that slim.

Finally understanding that there will come a time when taking a risky risk is the only way out, is important. It might be as simple as choosing to act foolishly to fool the fool who thinks he is fooling you to maneuver your way out. It comes in handy especially in combat. It helps a soldier to trick the enemy right into their net. It is what the Al Qaeda used in Takur Ghar war.

Other times it is choosing to stand up and crawl through an open field in the night even though it means you are most vulnerable in order to get to a point where a surveillance jet can pick your signal. Choosing to risk it all for that friendship that you so much crave for or walk out of a stressful and anxiety filled relationship.

Sometimes taking risk may mean the difference between happiness and misery. Bottom line, if you find yourself behind enemy lines, ensure you survive by all means. Also never trade hope, perseverance and the need not to give up with anything else in such a circumstance.



Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Politics, Policy, Technology, Current Affairs, Opinion, Agriculture, Energy, Education, Entrepreneurship, Governance, International Emerging Issues, Society, and culture. For featuring, promotions or support write to us at
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