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Tactical Map Usage and Scouting, by Robert B. in North Carolina

Know your environment – getting the maps ready now

In a world full of google, yahoo and portable navigators, the art of using maps kind of gets lost. In a SHTF situation, you will probably not have much of a technological tool kit for navigation, or planning. Knowing how to use maps from a tactical perspective then becomes critical skillet. Sand tables are not the most portable item to help identify and understand a terrain, but using plastic layers over a map can be very portable, and useful for viewing an environment. The layers I talk about below are a starting point, you can add whatever you want or remove those that are not important to you.

On a side note the Army has an excellent manual that contains instructions on mapping: Combined Arms Operations in Urban Terrain (ATTP 3-06.11/FM 3-06.11) don’t let the title fool you, “Urban” to the Army is a settlement 2,500 people or more.


  • Identify neighbors skill sets
    • including location/address on map being marked.
      • Medical: nurse, doctor, dentist, veterinarian, pharmacist, health care workers 
      • Electrical 
      • Automotive
      • Engineer  
      • Green thumb; raise livestock; gardens – even just ornamental gardens.
      • Hunters/Fisherman  
      • Hikers, campers, those used to living without normal public services
      • Prior Service (ex and current military/law enforcement)
      • Armed to various degrees
      • Teachers 
      • Canning, and non-refrigerated food preservation skills
      • This list could just keep going on, but those are the main points
  • Identify neighborhood resources
    • Location of private/public wells, rivers and other water sources including pools
    • Location of common areas for cultivation
    • Natural food sources: fruit and nut trees, berries, etc.
    • Natural barriers for use in defense
    • Manmade barriers 


Collecting information post SHTF

Future “current” information is the one thing you can’t stock up on. Deciding on when and where to collect information from your surrounding area, and what risk it is worth, is bound to be a major area for debate. OPs only let you know when someone is about to or has discovered where your group is. The only way to really avoid the “detection” is to put small teams out at a greater distance.  This also allows for possible flanking maneuvers, or spoiler attacks, beyond the immediate defensive location. It also requires an exceptional level of stealth, and perseverance. Far from complete, here are a few tips on scouting/ reconnaissance: