Defending Your Neighborhood, By M.M.C. and D.K.

Bugging out to a more defensible location, away from the big cities and the anarchy that will be taking place there, is what everyone talks about. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us do not own or have access to such a redoubt or refuge. Even if we have a place to go to, defending in place in our neighborhood may be the first thing we need to do before setting out on the road. For most of us, a neighborhood defense may be our best hope, especially if the roads are clogged with evacuees just trying to get away from the turmoil. We know that getting boxed in on the road is not good.

Regardless of where you live, the size or shape of your neighborhood, or how many of your neighbors are like-minded, MMC’s advice and instruction comes from decades of proven Marine Corps doctrine on combat and survival. MMC is a U.S. Marine Corps recent retiree with a plethora of skill sets and experience. He has served in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan during his 20 years of service and spent years training Marines in the art of marksmanship as a Primary Marksmanship Instructor, Combat Marksmanship Instructor, and a Small Arms Weapons Expert Instructor. The planning and execution of these methods revolves around the key words: Defend, Reinforce, Attack, Withdraw, and Delay. This is a time tested method used by the Marine Corps when writing an Operations Order and can be used as a planning tool prior to the action of defending against the enemy threat and for considerations to going on the attack against a potential enemy threat. We will explain these points and show how you can apply them to your unique environment.

Your first step may be to print out a Google Earth satellite image of your neighborhood, with several different magnifications to show surrounding territory, the larger neighborhood, and down to two-block areas. County and municipal road maps will also be needed, as well as your state and adjoining ones. You can make a clear overlay of your neighborhood map to plot out defensive positions and other modifications. Whatever the cause of a “failure of civility” in America (economic collapse, infrastructure, or electromagnetic pulse), government will probably respond with martial law. Our military will be called up to help the overwhelmed civilian law enforcement agencies. They will concentrate on larger cities, protecting key businesses, utilities, medical facilities, and communications. The fiber of our military forces will eventually erode, since opposing American citizens would mean fighting their own people; thus, there will be desertions and resistance to government. Some estimate all forms of law enforcement will collapse within 90 days. Many will join opposition groups, and many will go home to defend their homes and families.

Defend: Protect what we hold dear– family, home, neighborhood, water source, and food supply. Join with other neighbors and families who are equally dedicated to your overall cause. These are like-minded people who intend to protect their families and homes and survive the crisis. The goal is sustainability of what I have and what I cherish. The method is to control the fight. The primary defensive point will be a 360° perimeter around your defensive zone, with an emphasis being placed on the likely approach routes of vehicles and foot traffic. If you have a property that is adjacent to large bodies of water or other terrain features that form natural barriers, concentrate on a solid 180 degree perimeter from that feature. Your defensive zone will cover an area where you are able to engage intruders at the maximum effective range of your weapons, generally 500 meters. You can use terrain features that favor your engagement of the enemy and also limit their engagement of you. Use barbed or concertina wire to block between house areas and other avenues that might be available to the invaders. Trip wires connected to early warning devices, such as shotgun shell alarms and flares, will help alert defenders. Even trip wires attached to tin cans with rocks in them will cause a noise.

A secondary defensive point will be your first fallback fighting positions. The tertiary point is your home itself– your headquarters. If you have a basement, it needs to be turned into a livable area to defend. It has only one way in, the stairwell, which would be a death trap for anyone coming down. Barring a fire, it is a secure area. It’s important to present your tertiary point as a “hard” target, with prepared fighting positions and obvious planning for attacks.

The area beyond your primary position must be cleared to create a “no man’s land” that will enable you to observe anyone approaching your area’s defensive zone. Burn down empty houses and move people back into your key terrain. Knock down chimneys and cut down and burn trees and shrubs. You must create clear fields of fire, allowing invaders no cover and concealment. Eliminate the ability for the enemy to “bound” from point to point and advance on your positions.

Create wide fields of fire that will become wide-open killing fields. An area of burned-down houses will tell invaders that this area has already been picked clean, and there is nothing of value left. Houses that may be left standing should have the appearance of having been already looted. Break windows and spread small furniture and debris on the lawns. Be careful not to create what’s known as Dead Zones; these are areas that cannot be engaged by direct fire weapons because of hard obstruction. Do not give signs of life beyond the burned out zone. Make it look as if it has been picked clean, but beware that you could be creating a defensive position for your enemy. Make improvements on your defensive positions daily by reevaluating, upgrading, and inspecting from the intruder’s point of view as well as your own. Harden all positions by adding logs, sandbags, and boulders.

  • Key terrain is all ground and structural features of your immediate and extended neighborhoods. Keep your defense area small if you are a small group of people. The larger the group the more you can expand your defense.
    • Evaluate your immediate home structure. Choose which windows will be used as fire ports. The inside wall areas beneath and alongside the windows can be reinforced with sandbags. Purchase at least 100 sandbags. They can be filled with sand or dirt, not gravel. If shot, gravel can become a secondary projectile.
    • Evaluate your neighbors’ homes for defensive positions inside and outside.
    • Survivability is fortifying everything from your primary position to your tertiary position and improving obstacles that you’ve placed.
  • Observation of fields of fire
    • Defensive positions, including windows, must allow overlapping fields of fire– the left-to-right area in front of your weapon. This will create mutually-supporting coverage of defensive fire. Mark the left and right limits with stakes, spray paint, ribbons, or tape. Shooting beyond these limits will endanger your defenders with friendly fire.
    • This must be done for primary, secondary, and tertiary defensive positions, and everyone must be familiar with the limits.
  • Cover and concealment
    • For cover, use natural objects, such as trees, stumps, boulders, solid fences and walls, and buildings corners.
    • Supplementary fighting positions can be created by digging in. Create small “spider holes” for one person to fire from, larger two-person fighting positions, and trenches to hold several people. Throw and pack excavation dirt along the outward defensive edge or lay sandbags on the expected enemy approach side. The more dirt there is the better.
  • Avenue of approach
    • Put yourself in your enemy’s mind. People, in general, are lazy and will pick the easiest path to or through your neighborhood.
    • Eliminate access points to your street so that there is only one avenue of approach or entry point by vehicles, and no easy paths for people on foot.
    • Topple trees to block roads and trails.
    • Use natural bends or curves in your one avenue of approach as choke points, where a vehicle must slow down. Create a serpentine blockade to prevent a vehicle from blasting through, using trees, boulders, steel spike (nail) boards, and vehicles.
    • Secure a regress path for your escape. Don’t use roads or organized trails, and don’t establish regular paths to caches; make yourself less vulnerable. Make your own overland route and use natural obstacles to discourage your enemy and/or allow defensive positions for yourself.
    • If the enemy approaches in a staggered column or other formation or uses hand and arm signals, it may indicate they have some military training, and may have more than average capabilities.


  • Move your personnel to the point of attack to repel invading force, while keeping flanks and rear covered.
  • Preposition ammunition for ease of resupply.
  • The key to reinforcement is being able to maintain your mobility for resupply, counter attack, casualty evacuation, and withdrawing, while denying your enemy the ability of counter-mobility towards your positions. Do not allow the enemy to be able to redeploy, flank, envelop (encircle), or fight from your rear.


“The best defense is a good offense,” is a term used in football and in military theory. Put the attacker on the defense and upset their plans, creating fear, disorder, and confusion by your aggressive response. Time allows them to fortify and reorganize.

  • As soon as the enemy appears to be regrouping or the fighting lulls, attack. The ability to counterattack is pivotal.
  • Take cover or concealment and advance on the enemy. Rehearse and understand “support by fire” positions, with some firing while others are moving to engage. Keep the enemy fixed in location and head down, unable to return fire. “Massing fire” goes along with “support by fire”, concentrating several weapons toward one point.
  • Gain fire superiority by massing fire toward a location. The key to remember on any type of attack is violence of action and fire superiority will win every time. Whoever has superiority is going to be able to maneuver toward the objective. Those who are being repressed with fire will die.


  • If faced with a powerful force that cannot be stopped or routed, you must withdraw to survive.
  • Pull back to your secondary positions first, and if the situation does not change, fall back to your tertiary– “last stand” point.
  • If all else fails, you must abandon your home(s).
  • Successful withdrawal requires a delay or diversion to stall the enemy, such as exploding pre-placed liquid propane gas containers. Advanced planning for an orderly withdrawal is critical.
  • A pre-planned signal will initiate the withdrawal.


  • Allow your force time to retire to safer area. Lay down suppressing fire against the enemy to make them seek cover. This will prevent them from seeing the escape route and your departing forces.
  • The route of withdrawal must be pre-planned.
  • The lead element, noncombatants, are allowed time to reach an established safe zone and cache rally point 3.5 miles away. The covering force delays and bounds back 200 meters at a time with hasty positions.
  • Repeat this procedure until you reach your safe zone.
  • Conserve energy and resources as much as possible.

Throughout your planning and actions, be aware of the “OODA loop,” conceived by USAF Col. John Boyd. The OODA loop is a process of decision-making, which occurs in a repeating cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. If you can mentally process this cycle faster than your enemy, you will be able to get “inside” the enemy’s decision process and gain the advantage. This loop must be kept in continual operation during any combat situation.

  • Observe: Take in the raw information of the situation.
  • Orient: Pull from training and life experiences of similar events.
  • Decide: Choose what course of action you will take. Is it go or no-go?
  • Act: Make your move faster and before your opponent can figure out your actions.

By cycling this process faster than your enemy, you will obscure your intentions and seem “unpredictable” to your opposition.