As a sound and forward thinking prepper you should already be on your way to some level of sustainability in the event of some kind of social breakdown. The food, water, medical, and sanitation needs are boring, but important enough that without them-anything else doesn’t really matter. As readers of this blog I sincerely hope you’ve utilized the vast wealth of knowledge available here to develop your own systems of storage, rotation, and skills development. So with all of that as a foundation, I pose a question. With your family, your plans, and your supplies all depending on you for security-what do you next when whatever calamity strikes?
So many preppers, myself included, get caught up in the gear reviews. Oh, its so easy to be swept away by the allure of product reviews or the exhilaration of arguing the merits of your favorite “survival” rifles and why all the rest should be used for decorative paperweights. The bug out bags have become especially mainstream these days. Its no longer the tin foil hat wearing crowd with three day bags and remote properties fully stocked and ready to go. The bags, the gear, along with our food and water are easy to research and acquire. What’s proving difficult for many people is finding actual tactical common sense for defending our preps.
Lets pretend for a moment that some disaster has befallen our once great land. Those with access to remote locations have already made it to their “bug out location.” Those that are going to shelter in place have gathered their families and are worriedly wondering to do next. I pray that scenario never comes to pass, but if it does, you will be far ahead of the herd. With a little common sense, a little planning, and a few inexpensive supplies it is quite easy to keep anything less than an infantry platoon away from you and the things important to you.
Whether a remote farmstead or a cute little suburb the first thing we need to do is grab our favorite beverage of choice and sit on our front porch for awhile. The single most important foundation of a good defense plan is a thorough understanding and knowledge of the neighborhoods and adjacent properties next to ours. People are like any other wild animal in that we almost always choose the easiest path to our objective. In the Army we called these paths natural lines of drift, and with few exceptions our ability to read the terrain around us and identify the easiest routes of travel proved fatally catastrophic to the idiots trying to ruin our day. The simple truth of the matter is that while sitting on our porches, and just a little help from our imaginations its quite easy to see which way trouble will come from. Simply ask yourself this question. If I was a bad guy and I wanted to get to this house, what would I do? The human brain is surprisingly agile with matters such as these, and you will very swiftly become aware of the natural lines of drift leading to your property.
After we’ve done this exercise a time or ten, being careful to pay attention all sides of our property its an easy enough task to look at the google earth imaging for our areas of defense. The way things look from the air is very often dramatically different from what we see on the ground. For one, line of sight on ground level makes short distances feel longer than they are. Looking at things from above will undoubtedly bring security concerns to light that would not seem relevant from ground level.
So now we understand the terrain around us, the obvious and natural access points to our homes, and the vulnerable and secure geographic features that we are dealing with. Now its time for a basic tactical tutorial. For those not familiar with combat, or those with a hollywood fueled perception of fighting there are a few very simple but very critical truths that are paramount to the success of a well planned defense. First, every fighting position needs to be over lapped or “covered” by another. Meaning that the reachable distances from left to right of each fighting position should overlap at least one and preferably two other positions. Your defense plan should be faced to the obvious vulnerabilities first, but placed in such a way that it provides 360 coverage.
Secondly, Distance ALWAYS equals two things. Time and safety. The time aspect of this is quite simple. The further away an enemy is from a target the longer it will take to achieve their objective. The further away from your loved ones that you can engage a threat provides reaction time for your and your loved ones to initiate whatever pre arranged defense protocols you have established. This in and of itself provides an added level of safety. If you are trying to protect your family, and they are going to be in the home, than the defense should be started as far away from the house as is possible. A good shot with an AR style rifle can ruin your day from five hundred meters in. I am aware that it may not be possible to establish a perimeter at that distance, but that would be best. I suggest possibly establishing a forward outpost at this distance if possible. A forward placed rifle and a few well placed shots may well be all it takes to persuade someone that its better to go somewhere else.
For the purposes of this article I will presume that the threats we are attempting to dissuade from entering our property are non governmental groups of loosely organized, lightly trained people who didn’t clearly understand the precarious nature of our existence, and failed to prepare accordingly. Therefore it is safe to assume that they will be armed in much the same ways that we are. Probably some deer rifles, a few AR or AK variants and a shotgun or two sprinkled in for good measure. We should not be concerned with heavy automatic fire or anything resembling heavy weapons like mortars and such.
With that in mind its important that after we identify where to place our defensive positions that we fortify them in such a way as to provide a reasonable level of survivability for those tasked with fighting from them. I prefer the tried and true hole in the ground with a few sandbags for support. Simply dig a small trench, maybe five feet long and armpit deep. Place a double layer of sandbags all along the edges and that should be good enough for most small arms encounters. Sandbags can be purchased for around forty five cents a bag and come unfilled and neatly stacked making storage an easy task. I trust that we will all be able to tell when the time has come to bring them and a shovel out of storage and put to them use.
In many families it will be necessary to provide a safe room or mini bunker for non fighting loved ones. This can be achieved by selecting an interior room of your residence and fortifying it with as many sandbags as is practical. Obviously this is the reason for all of our other defense plans and should go without saying that special care and consideration should be given to its layout. I think it most prudent to line the walls of the room with sandbags preferably two layers deep to at least waist height. If you choose to add additional protective measures after this it would be a wise decision. If you have a large group of people I might suggest an able bodied fighter to be posted to this room with a shotgun full of 00 buckshot and clear instructions on how to escape.
So, we’ve planned a defensive grid consisting of multiple fighting positions facing natural lines of drift along our property. We’ve procured sandbags and a shovel or two to be used after the poop hits the fan. We have designated a hardened “safe room” for our loved ones. Let’s talk about how to function in a tactically sound manner while actually fighting an enemy.
The first and only rule to small arms fights is very simple. Move or die. This is especially true if outgunned or out manned, which is basically the same thing. I can hear you saying “what the hell, this guy just told us to dig holes and use sandbags and fight there.” Yes, the fighting positions should be manned and fought from, but if that’s all you do a smart enemy will just sit tight, find some cover and pick you off when you show yourself. In any small arms engagement the objective should be to kill or wound any attackers, or remove them from the battle space entirely.
This is accomplished by establishing a base of fire from your hardened positions, and a separate element flanking or maneuvering in such a way that your fire intersects with that of your static position. Simply put, one group shoots and another group runs like hell around the attacker position and puts fire on them from another direction. Even one person firing from behind an enemy while they are focused on what’s firing at them from the front will suck the energy out of most untrained people.
All modern warfare is essentially that simple. Engage your enemy in more directions than he is willing to defend and they will have to retreat. Plain and simple. With that said it should be inferred that you are not going to be able to do this alone. You will need as many able bodied fighters as possible. I pray you are in good standing with neighbors. Not that they have to be preppers, because quite frankly that isn’t going to happen. But if you know them, and do a little planning for them, when the time comes and their butts are on the line they will more than likely sign up for anything that resembles a path to safety for them and their families.
Planning goes a long way when it comes defense. The more you put into it now, the less guesswork you will have when the stress is already high. I would urge you all to print and secure in document protectors the aerial imagery of your area. I would urge you to consider who will be tasked with what assignments, and with what weapons. The smart move is to implement a night watch strategy. That is when any group is at their weakest and most vulnerable. I would think that a two hour rotating watch schedule would be the most convenient route for most groups. Even during daylight hours it is a good idea to have at least one person dedicated to some sort of patrol route.
I am hoping that you have an adequate communication plan in place. Once guns start going off having good communication is the difference between life and death. With a good radio, and some pre planning your goals should be that each member of your team is well versed in retreat routes, flanking protocols, and feels comfortable making decisions for themselves. In the Army we call them battle drills, but if you develop a short list of scenarios and train every member of your team to react the same way to each of those, than in the chaos of a gunfight you will all be well served.
Leadership is critical once lives are on the line. With that said, your goal should always be that any member of your team feels comfortable clearing weapons malfunctions on all weapons being used. It is also important that everyone understands where to go, and what to do at the moment of truth. Confusion and indecision get people killed, and loses fights. The flip side is that the biggest difference between a ragtag mob and the navy seals is that each seal knows exactly what to do at all times. Their brains don’t have to waste time considering options. They just act, decisively. They act with what’s called violence of action. They take the fight to enemy before the enemy has time to react and develop a plan. In our situations most of this can be achieved with a good plan, and a clear understanding of each members responsibilities.
Obviously, there are many many more variables to a well planned defense strategy. This is merely the beginning or a template to be built upon. A base of knowledge that can be customized and molded to fit you particular scenario. I do not care to get into discussions of what guns are the best for this. Take what you have, and develop a plan. As long as you are prepared to act decisively even your grandpas deer gun will be good enough.
I do not believe in violence as a means of survival, and am not advocating for that here. However, if things get bad than its a pretty safe bet that people will get bad just as quickly. This information will put you in a position to protect the ones you love in a manner that is tactically sound. If the opportunity presents itself I hope to write more on this topic in the coming months because there are many methods of tightening a security plan that would be useful for our prepping community.