Defending Static Positions in a Survival Setting, by J.G.

You’re a prepper.  You have stores of food and water, supplies, commo gear, and everything you could conceivably need in order to survive the Apocalypse.  Unfortunately, that also means that you’re a target.  Eventually everyone in the neighborhood will figure out that you and yours are maintaining your weight while everyone else in society is starving, and your neighbors will cease to behave in a neighborly way.  To say “Oh well, I guess I should have prepared” is not the human way.  They will attempt to take your provisions by force. 

This is one of the primary reasons that I advocate for bugging out to a location where your entire extended family, and maybe some carefully chosen friends, can cohabitate and provide from common security.  It’s great to have massive stores of supplies and food to keep you alive, but it means nothing if those supplies are violently removed from your possession because of a lack of security.  Better to be in a community of like-minded people who are all endeavoring towards survival than to attempt to stick it out alone.  There is a reason why communities formed at the dawn of humanity, and provision for the common defense is one of them.
That being said, simply having warm bodies around your property will do little to prevent pilferage and outright violence against your provisions should worse come to worst.  You need to have some knowledge of the most basic principles of defense in order to being preparing for this sort of situation now.  That being said, I’ll make a brief discussion of the basics and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel for preparing your property for the fall of civilization.

Borrowing from military doctrine, here are the principles of defense in a nutshell:

All around defense. 
  It should go without saying that all around defense should be a top priority, but I guarantee that there are people making this mistake as we speak in their defense preparations.  It does absolutely no good to have the most high-speed, kick-resistant, steel-reinforced front door in the world if you don’t lock your back door.  Likewise, all of the provisions in the world will not help you if they are beyond the scope of your ability to effectively protect them. 

Take a thorough look at your security situation.  Think about how many people you have to secure your location, and the amount of space that can be reasonably secured by that number of people.  As you think through these items, remember that the average sentry is good for about 4 hours, semi-awake for 8 hours, and utterly worthless at the 12 hour mark.  It doesn’t matter how well they are trained or how motivated they are.  Nobody can stand watch forever. 

After a gut check, decide how much real estate you can reasonably secure.  If you don’t have enough people to secure your entire five acre estate, then consider securing only the main house.  If you don’t have enough people for that, consider securing only the basement.  If it’s one bedroom, then so be it.  Fit as much useful stuff as you can into one bedroom and be willing to part with the rest of your provisions in the event of an armed incursion.  Knowing what you can and can’t secure will keep you alive.

I recommend organizing your supplies in accordance with the priority of the supply.  If you know you can secure one room, but think you may be able to hold three rooms, you would place your highest priority items in the room that you know without a doubt can be secured indefinitely.  Such items might include guns and ammo, drinking water, and food.  Other less important items can be placed in other rooms that you are less likely to be able to hold.

Defense in depth. 
On the battlefield, we use this concept to ensure that we have redundancy in our security apparatus.  In other words, we have a mine field, then a fence, then a row of obstacles, then a bunch of defensive positions.  If one security apparatus fails, there are more layers of the onion remaining.  Such considerations are important for defending large expanses of property.  They are also vitally important for defending a single family dwelling, and can be micro-applied to that job as well. 

For instance, you probably have a dead bolt on your front door.  You should also have a door bar in place.  Beyond the door bar, you should have a wedge bar.  If an intruder gets beyond those defenses, you should have solid doors with dead bolt locks on each interior room of your home.  You get the idea. The more layers of security you have in place, the more time you will have to consolidate your family in the safe room, arm yourselves, and/or bug out when trouble comes knocking. 

The first two principles are no-brainers that absolutely everyone should be implementing.  The next three are more useful for folks who have enough people to mount a proper defense of their property and provisions.

Key Terrain. 
Know the layout of your property.  Be able to physically occupy, or occupy by fire all of the key terrain in your area.  For instance, if there is a giant hill overlooking your property, you should have a plan to place someone on that hill.  It will be an effective vantage point to detect advancing trouble makers, and will allow the alarm to be sounded more quickly, thus providing precious minutes of preparation for the incursion.
To occupy by fire means that, in the event that you can’t physically place a person on the hill, you can at least cover it by sniper fire, etc.  The basic idea is that if you can’t use the hill to your advantage, your enemy shouldn’t be able to use the hill either.  Denying the enemy this advantage means that he must essentially fight blind, which tilts the battle in our favor.

Avenues of Approach.  Avenues of approach allow the bad guys rapid, high-speed infiltration into our secure zone, and must therefore be dealt with.  Examples might be roads, dry creek beds, large game trails, or any other terrain through which men and vehicles can move rapidly.  Avenues of approach are a major concern because a heavy truck traveling at forty miles per hour will more than likely have no trouble defeating your gates, fences, etc. 

The idea when dealing with avenues of approach is twofold.  First, we want to limit high speed ingress to our property.  If we have a long, straight road, we might want to employ massive speed bumps, deep ditches across portions of the road, and serpentine obstacles to ensure that any vehicles are speed breaking prior to approaching our property.  This gives us time to properly assess the approaching people and determine whether or not they are a threat, and react accordingly. 

Some examples of ways to mitigate avenues of approach for foot troops are to utilize tangle foot, punji trenches, and barbed wire (although I don’t recommend digging punji trenches until the actual fall of civilization seems imminent). 

A second concern in regards to avenues of approach is sometimes called combat engineering.  If we can control the route that our enemies take onto our property, then we have an opportunity to ensure that bad news awaits them at every turn.  For instance, we might deny access to a creek bed only to turn our enemy onto a driveway, knowing that we have the driveway covered by interlocking fields of fire (more on this in a minute).  The result would be a turkey shoot.  Game over.  We win. 

It is noteworthy that there is one exception to the avenues of approach rule.  Stand-off distance.  Dense vegetation acts as a natural speed break to advancing enemies in most situations.  Nobody in their right mind would advance through a jungle when a road is available if the tactical objective is speed, surprise, and violence of action.  Of course, having dense vegetation up to your perimeter, while it may slow enemy advances, will also serve to obscure your vision and make defensive adjustments harder.  For that reason, we need to clear a stand-off ring around our perimeter.

Clearing a stand-off ring is done by taking down trees, removing dense vegetation, and to the extent possible eliminating cover and concealment.  This will necessitate the enemy advancing over open ground in order to attack your secure zone, and should enable you a huge benefit in defending it.  In a perfect world, we would want to have a stand-off distance equal to the maximum effective range of our rifle, but I realize that this may not always be possible.  To any extent, some buffer is better than none when it comes to discouraging armed incursion.  People looking at that vast open field will think twice before bum rushing your perimeter. 

Interlocking fields of fire.  If you are fortunate enough to have defensive positions and people to man them, you should test your defensive positions to ensure that you have achieved interlocking fields of fire.  This means that the area of responsibility for one fox hole crosses over with that of the fox hole next to them, and that there are no gaps in your defenses.
Planning out your fields of fire serves several purposes.  First, it conserves ammunition by limiting a defender to a certain area of responsibility.  He doesn’t shoot at targets that are not right in front of him, and thus has a lower chance of wasting ammunition.  Second, the overall confidence of the defense force will be bolstered by the existence of a coherent plan.  Believe it or not, this is an important aspect of keeping morale high.  Finally, planning out your fields of fire ensures that you have checked all of the defensive boxes and that no bad guys are going to slip through the cracks.  I suggest using limiting stakes to mark off the areas of responsibility for each defensive position, and creating range cards with known distances to landmarks in their field of fire for quick, accurate engagement of targets. 

If you can follow those five conventions you will be in pretty good shape in terms of physical security of your provisions and housing.  It’s a little easier said than done, and it can be daunting if you are preparing your first defense plan.  You can feel free to contact me with questions, and I’ll do my best to get back with an answer.  I’ve done this sort of planning in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations throughout the world, so I’m pretty sure that you can also get it done in your neighborhood.