The key to successful defense is defense in depth. In each layer of security it’s imperative to have a full 360 degree protection afforded by whatever measures, methods or technology you employ. Where it’s simply not possible to secure your entire perimeter due to terrain or financial limitations, it’s important to know what’s not completely protected, why it’s not protected, and what it’s not protected against.
To plan your retreat security, start at the conceptual level. Define what is to be protected. It might be your primary residence, or it might simply be a cache containing bug-out supplies. Decide now what the parameters of a successful defense look like (My food is untouched, 50% of my food is untouched, 25% of my food is untouched, there are no bullet holes in my roof, etc…). Identify, in writing, the consequences of failing to achieve the specified parameters. Doing these things serves two purposes. First, it will help you do develop the proper scope for your plan. Second, it will help you make some difficult decisions regarding rules of engagement and alternatives planning.
Next, you have to consider what the threat looks like. The threats are specific to your situation and you have to decide what level of threat you’re willing or obtain the capacity to defend against. City dwellers might be faced with threats like small bands of unskilled scavengers, or large groups of semi-skilled gang members with reasonably good equipment, where the rural resident may be more likely to encounter small groups of highly skilled woodsmen. Your specific threat is entirely dependent on where you are, and who is there with you.
What the threat looks like will dictate how you prepare for it, and it’s definitely not a “one size fits all” exercise. Decide now what your rules of engagement are, and the level of threat that initiates a flight response versus a fight response. A threat that is larger, more skilled, or better equipped than what you prepared for will simply overwhelm your physical security system. For example, a threat capable of long-distance attack may never engage your security at all while still being able to attack people or things at the resource. Concentrating on high-speed avenues of approach will be appropriate for opportunistic or vehicle mounted threats, but completely ineffective against the savvy scavenger with a modicum of hunting skill.
Failure to identify the threat correctly might result in too much security, which could have been invested in food water or power, or too little security, which will result in someone else gaining the benefit of your preparations.
Security System Design
All security systems have to incorporate three key fundamentals – detection, delay, and response. You must be able to detect an intruder to be able to respond to him, and you must be able to respond before he reaches the critical resource.
Intrusion detection ability comes in many forms, and they have been discussed exhaustively here and elsewhere. Our primary concern is that the detection capability is effective, layered, and sustainable.
It’s imperative that your sensor system have a high probability of detection with a low false alarm rate (FAR)–where we don’t know why the alarm went off) and nuisance alarm rate (NAR)–where we know why the alarm went off, but it wasn’t something we wanted to detect). In other words, it’s good if the dog barks, but not if it barks at everything… or nothing at all. It’s also important to note that people are notoriously poor sensors. Studies conducted by Sandia National Laboratory indicate that a human has a 2% probability of detection under normal conditions, and that they are only effective for the first 20 minutes of a watch. In other words, invest in technology if funding and opportunity allow you to.
Using cumulative probability equations it’s fairly easy to determine that several less than perfect sensors arrayed in series can be more effective that one reasonably good sensor operating alone. One layer of sensors operating at 90% probability of detection (PD) will cost a fortune and provide a 90% cumulative probability of detection (PDC). Two layered sensors operating at 70% PD will offer a PDC of 91% at a lower total price:
PDC = 1-(1-PD1)(1-PD2)
= 1- (.09)
If possible, place sensors at the perimeter of your property and again at a defined line within your property. As shown in the example above, two layers of average quality detection devices are more likely to detect a bad guy than one layer of good sensors.
Sustainability of detection devices will be a key issue. If your detection solution is electronic, you have to have means of providing electricity. Fortunately, many technical solutions are designed to work off of 12 volt DC electric or AA batteries and have low power requirements. It’s important that you pay attention to the technical specifications when purchasing equipment. It’s prudent to acquire replacement units or parts in the event that equipment malfunctions or is damaged. Electronic sensors and associated support equipment may not be within your budget. If this is the case, you may elect to go with more cost-effective biological sensors (dogs, geese and others). They will have a reduced capacity to warn you when intruders are coming because they can’t observe your entire perimeter and they, like people, are easily distracted. They require some level of preparation with respect to food and health care, though this should be manageable for most budgets. The major drawback to biological sensors is that while cost effective to purchase and maintain, the opportunity to keep spares on the storage rack isn’t there. In the event that your biological sensors are damaged, replacements may be difficult to obtain,
The objective of an effective delay system is to delay the bad guy from reaching the objective long enough for the good guys to get dressed, grab their arms, and engage him in a firefight. In practical terms, the bad guy’s timeline from engaging the security system (encountering the outermost sensors) to execution of objective is usually measured in seconds. Your job is to make it enough seconds that you can respond before it’s over.
Delay can come from mechanical obstacles, or it can come from distance. The effectiveness of an obstacle is measured in seconds. An 8 foot chain link fence can be scaled by a human in 10 seconds, and so it’s worth 10 seconds in timeline calculations. Distance is also accounted for in seconds, but is dependant on the movement rate of the bad guy. 100 meters is worth 25 seconds of delay if the bad guy is moving at 4 meters per second. Having a large property can be an asset if your security system is set up properly, but is not, in and of itself, an asset. The only barriers or distances that matter are those that are observed by a sensor system.
Specific delay systems have also been discussed exhaustively here and elsewhere. It’s important to note that barriers effective against one threat may be far less effective against another. For example, anti-vehicle ditch works will provide infinite delay for most vehicles but only a few seconds delay for a bad guy on foot. On the other hand, a wide open field may delay a bad guy on foot for minutes, while delaying a vehicle only a few seconds.
The term Response, in the context of physical security, refers to the people; the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP); and the equipment used to neutralize the bad guys. Here’s where you have to ask yourself four questions:
1.) Do I have enough people to secure my critical resource?
2.) Do I have the right training?
3.) Do I have the right equipment?
4.) Do I have alternative plans?
Under optimum conditions, the US military operates under the assumption that it takes 5.2 people to man each security post 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This assumption accounts for eight hour days, leaves of absence, sick time, and all of the variables that mean people won’t be coming to work. It’s likely that you won’t have the manpower to support more than a post or two under these conditions. The fewer people you have to man each post means that, in order to maintain proper security, other tasks start to go undone. If you have only two people per post, for example, that means 12 hour shifts seven days a week with no rest – leaving no significant time for farming, gardening, or other tasks. The alternatives are to accomplish other tasks while abandoning security requirements, or to make arrangements before TSHTF to group with other like-minded people to provide around the clock security.
Proper training for response forces is imperative. At a minimum, each person must be familiar with the rules of engagement and the standard operation procedures required to accomplish the mission. In many cases, this will mean that you need to define what the mission is and how it’s to be done and put it in writing. Additionally, you have to define the threshold for response and the threshold for flight – put that in writing too. Every member of your response force should be proficient in every weapon system employed. Ideally, they’re all using the same weapon type, but in the event that they’re not, they need to be able to use each other’s arms. Every member of the security force should also be familiar with the terrain out to the maximum effective range of their weapons. Advanced training with firearms is desirable, but not always cost effective for groups of any size. If you ask, I’m certain you’ll be provided with contact information for half a dozen quality sources for firearms training.
Proper equipment and familiarity with the equipment breeds confidence in your security forces. Ideally, all of your people will have identical gear. This will ensure that spare parts are available and that weapon magazines are interchangeable in a firefight. A proper kit will include firearms, ammunition, protective gear, restraint devices, and non-lethal weaponry. Suitable arms for your security forces will be of a weight and configuration that can be handled by all of your personnel, chambers a round suitable for your purpose, and has a maximum effective range that can reach the edge of your perimeter (unless you have a really huge place!). The bottom line answer to the question “what’s the best rifle?” is – the one your personnel can use effectively to put rounds on target. Military security forces in garrison typically carry 120 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition when armed with an M16. Depending on your arms, you may vary the load out, but in a firefight you really want as much ammunition as you can carry on an “all the time” basis. Protective gear, whether in the form of body armor or defensive fighting positions (DFPs), should be able to handle impacts from any ammunition common in the retreat’s region. For body armor, [NIJ] level IV protection is desirable, though the type and manufacturer of the armor is really a matter of taste. DFPs should be constructed with overhead cover – more for comfort than protection (unless the neighbors have mortars) – and double thick sandbag walls. Restraint devices are for the bad guys that make it through the initial firefight, or for the bad guys who surrender before a firefight takes place. There are a number of items that fit this category, though I won’t offer specific discussion about any of them except to say that heavy duty wire ties work really well in this capacity. Last, each of your personnel should have access to less-than lethal control methods. Most likely, your rules of engagement don’t go directly from harsh words to lethal firefight – neither should your equipment.
If you’ve given the threat sufficient thought, then you’ll recognize that the security situation will vary widely by the level of threat present in your area. While you are planning, make sure that you address as many of the conceivable scenarios as you can. Once you reach that threshold between viable defense and non-viable defense, put together pre-planned alternatives to standing and fighting. Make sure your group knows when to bug-out and where to go. If possible, pre-position bug-out caches to facilitate these plans.
In conclusion, proper retreat security is a huge, but manageable task as long as you approach it in the correct context. The specifics on how you address individual elements within the fundamental areas of Detection, Delay, and Response are less important than addressing them in a balanced and systematic way. In order to detect the bad guy, you have to have a means of detection, it has to be effective, and it has to be on. In order to slow the bad guy down, you have to have obstacles that are pertinent to his preferred mode of travel, you have to have enough of them so that his total travel time is longer than it takes your personnel to get within rifle range, and they have to be observed. To respond effectively and neutralize the bad guy, your response forces have to numerous enough to counter bad guy forces, they have to know the rules, and they must have and be familiar with their equipment. Lastly, in a “no-win” situation, everyone has to know when and how to get out, and where to go.