Your survival blog is wonderful! Reading it every day has already helped me become more constantly focused and working on preparedness. I have recently made some overtures about forming a retreat group to a few family members who are like minded with me on preparedness. One suggested topic for your survival blog that would be helpful to me, and probably many others, is a discussion on the number of people necessary to operate a retreat in a TEOTWAWKI situation. You did speak on that in Patriots, which was very helpful. Some questions are: (1) Is there a minimum, optimum, and maximum number of people? (2) What are the considerations that go into the decision as to the number of people? (3) What are the differences in the organizational requirements for the various sizes of retreat groups? (4) Are there differences in the necessary leadership style of the leader of a small group verses a large group? Thank you very much. – Joe.
(1) Is there a minimum, optimum, and maximum number of people?
That all depends on the situation! If you are close to an urban area during a worst-case grid down situation, then it might take 50 or more people to defend a retreat. Under less demanding circumstances and in a more remote area that is well removed from likely lines of drift, then perhaps just two or three families occupying contiguous parcels (with mutually supporting fields of fire) might suffice. But in general (given foreseeable TEOTWAWKI exigencies), if affordability of floor space at your retreat is not a constraint, then I would recommend a group with a minimum of six adults, an optimum of 10 adults, and a maximum of 30 adults. (Anything larger is likely to lose cohesiveness, especially with weak leadership/organization.) Keep in mind that manpower planning and limits are considerably different for a group that will be occupying a cluster of buildings (analogous to a tribal village) versus a group that is all living under one roof!
(2) What are the considerations that go into the decision as to the number of people?
IMO, you should consider:
a.) Severity of circumstances that you anticipate. (Grid up versus grid down, level of lawlessness, and so forth)
b.) Duration of crisis. (Until order and commerce are restored, or in the event of Nuclear, Biological, or Chemical (NBC) events, when it will be safe to emerge)
c.) Geographic isolation of your retreat. (The closer that you are to population centers and lines of drift, the larger your security contingent.)
d.) Floor space/accommodations of your retreat.(Cramped quarters are both unhealthy and stressful.)
d.) Climate. (Smaller groups are dictated in more severe climate zones with short growing seasons)
e.) Group homogeneity. (For example, groups composed of all members of the same church denomination might be more cohesive and capable of larger aggregations.)
f.) Financial resources of the group. (This relates to “depth of larder”–more wealthy groups can provide more ample food storage and hence more mouths to feed.)
g.) Acreage and water available for cultivation. In northern climes, consider the available square footage of greenhouse space.
(3) What are the differences in the organizational requirements for the various sizes of retreat groups?
Unity of leadership (having one recognized leader or a “village council”) is essential, regardless of group size. In groups of 20 or more, it may be necessary to delegate authority and to specialize responsibilities. (In small groups, most members will wear “many hats”, whereas in larger groups some members will have nearly full time responsibilities–cook, logistician, armorer, security coordinator, and so forth)
(4) Are there differences in the necessary leadership style of the leader of a small group versus a large group?
IMO, the same principles and styles of leadership apply, regardless of group size. Some people have leadership talent, and some don’t. (If you’ve ever taken ROTC or OCS courses, then you’ll know what I mean.) Not surprisingly, many of the people who do well as leaders in “peacetime” (such as corporate managers and mayors) may not be able to cope mentally or emotionally WTSHTF. That is why I recommend that military combat veterans (commissioned officers or NCOs) be put in charge of retreat security. They’ve been forged in fire, and there are very few substitutes for that sort of real world on-the-job training.