We are looking at patrolling in a post-SHTF scenario. In part 1, I reviewed the definition of “patrol” and objectives of patrolling as well as planning, though we only concluded the portion about general operational planning. Let’s continue to discussing planning and move forward.
Mission planning is the planning performed for a specific patrol. This should include goals and objectives, route, timing/duration, rally points, communications, intelligence, weather, organization, rules of engagement, and load-out.
Goals and Objectives
What are the goals and objectives? Basically, what should the patrol accomplish? Both primary and secondary goals and objectives should be defined and all members made aware of them. Goals and objectives may also be prioritized, with patrol abort requirements attached to each. For example, if the patrol identifies a critical threat to the safety of the home group while on patrol, or a member receives a serious injury, they should immediately break off the patrol and return home.
What is the route the patrol intends to follow? This should be drawn on a map at the home base and memorized by the patrol members. That way if the patrol is compromised or a potential threat obtains the patrol’s maps, they can’t use them to locate your home base. You should avoid developing set patterns of routes in order to minimize the risk of a patrol being intercepted or ambushed. Following the same patrol routes every time tends to lull people into a sense of complacency, which can have fatal results.
Determining the timing and duration of the patrol defines when the patrol leaves, how long they should plan to be gone, and how overdue they can be before it’s considered an emergency. The route and objectives will drive a lot of this, and issues such as weather, individual patrol member fitness, and conditions encountered along the way can also impact it. As with the route, you should avoid following set timing patterns. Typical patrols will most likely be one to three days in length. If you have access to night-vision gear, you can plan patrols that leave, return, and operate during both day and night to reduce their risk of exposure and avoid providing potential enemies with information regarding the strength remaining at your home base.
Rally points are defined locations where patrol members can meet if they get separated. There should be at least one rally point for each leg of the route.
Communications between patrol members as well as between the patrol and their home base should be reviewed. Code designations for people and locations should be assigned and rotated for each patrol so that someone listening in on your communications won’t be able to learn a pattern.
Any information that has been collected to date that may be relevant within the area of the patrol’s operations should be reviewed. This should include information on known or suspected human or natural threats, possible obstacles, et cetera.
Potential weather issues should be reviewed and planned for. The patrol should also have the skills and tools necessary to allow them to predict significant weather changes with a reasonable degree of accuracy.
Organization of the patrol considers who will be going on the patrol and who’s in charge. A chain of command should be defined in case the primary leader is disabled.
Rules of Engagement
There should be clear rules of engagement. What should patrol members do if they encounter strangers, or people that are known or potential threats?
Load-out organizes what each member of the patrol will carry with them. It’ll be pretty awkward if eight hours into the patrol you discover that no one brought toilet paper.
Create a Mission Planning Template
You should start by creating a mission planning template that has space for all of the information you consider critical for planning a patrol. Print off several hundred copies of the template and store them in a sealed container.
While all of this should be planned and discussed, it is also important to remember that the patrol will likely encounter situations and circumstances that weren’t considered, and they may have to make difficult decisions on the spot. Directions that sounded reasonable when discussed in a warm and safe house a few days ago may completely conflict with what’s necessary for the health and safety of the patrol or the group, and they should have the latitude to do what they deem necessary based on the circumstances they encounter.
Dress and Kit
The appearance of the patrol members can have a big impact on their ability to collect intelligence from human sources. If a family with small children is walking along and sees a group of heavily armed people wearing camos and loaded with tactical gear approaching, they’re probably going to run away as fast as they can. I’m of the opinion that for the first few weeks after some types of events, most people will tend to be more scared and confused rather than desperate and dangerous. Where I live, camouflage and open carry are uncommon, so seeing those for the first time will be a shock for a lot of people.
A Less Threatening Facade
You may want to adapt the appearance and kit for one or two patrol members to present a less threatening facade and have them be the point people for anyone you encounter. For example, they could wear normal clothing, like jeans and a shirt, and carry a generic backpack. They could also wear something like a Maxpedition Proteus Versipack waist pack in front to cover up a handgun in a reverse-cant cross-draw IWB holster. The handgun is hidden, but it can be drawn quickly, and resting your hands on top of the waist pack looks perfectly natural while keeping them within inches of the handgun. Inside the backpack they can carry something like a folded Kel-Tec Sub-2000 9mm carbine that can be brought into play in a couple of seconds. (I use a rig similar to this and wear it regularly on hikes to get comfortable with it.)
These “contact specialists” should walk some distance in front of the rest of the patrol and signal the team when they see other people, allowing the other team members to find some concealment from where they can cover the contact specialists while they engage the contacts. For circumstances in this scenario where the contact specialists do need to employ camouflage, they can carry a camouflage jacket and overpants, poncho, or an oversuit made from camouflage mesh.
Once the overall situation in your area of operations has deteriorated beyond a certain level of safety, full battle rattle should be in order for all patrol members. Full battle rattle should include camouflage clothing, load-bearing equipment, firearms, and backpack.
Wear camouflage clothing appropriate for your area of operations and time of year. I recommend that all patrol members use the same camouflage patterns. This will simplify recognition in the field, although it shouldn’t be relied upon exclusively. There are too many options to cover here in detail, but one recommendation is that if you live in an area that gets snow you should consider sewing a simple poncho and pair of overpants out of white silnylon and including a white balaclava. Brush a few small splotches of gray or brown paint around to break up the outline even more. Avoid cotton covers, like the German army surplus snow camo ponchos, since these can get soaked and freeze.
Load-bearing equipment (LBE), such as a battle belt or vest, is necessary to carry items you may need quick or to gain frequent access to. This should include ammunition, optics, night vision, batteries, and an individual first-aid kit.
For firearms, your patrol should have a carbine and handgun, at a minimum. If you live in an area with terrain that offers long sight distances, you may also want at least one weapon for long-range shooting, in order to more effectively cover patrol members when they’re interacting with strangers.
For a two- or three-day patrol, you should be able to get by with a backpack around 25L in size.
As a recon patrol, one of your primary objectives is to be able move quickly and quietly. One of the keys to that is packing only what is absolutely necessary to survive for 2-3 days away from your home base. For example, since one of your objectives would be to avoid any shooting engagements and you most likely won’t have full-auto weapons, 210 rounds of carbine ammunition should be enough. (This is one loaded 30-round magazine, three on your LBE, and three more in your backpack.) Additional considerations regarding kit will be discussed later.
Knowing where you are, where you’re going, and your options for getting there are navigation skills that are critical aspects of patrolling. While you may be able to use GPS on your phone or a handheld GPS unit for a while after a TEOTWAKI event (assuming you downloaded maps beforehand), you should also develop map reading and navigation skills for when they stop working. Stock up on and practice using a good selection of maps that cover your potential patrol areas. Also, make sure you always obtain at least two identical copies of each map so that you can have one at your home base and one or more with the patrol.
Best Patrol Maps
The best options for patrol maps are those that show both natural and man-made features. In the U.S., USGS Topographic maps are probably the best choice, and you can find them in a lot of different sizes, shapes, and resolutions. Another option is the Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer maps, which are available for every U.S. state. However, you’ll need to cut out the individual pages.
Additional Map Considerations
Here are some additional considerations regarding maps:
- Maps carried by patrol members should be waterproof (or at least water resistant). You can put them in a case, or cover them with clear acetate.
- When communicating map locations over the radio, you should use grid coordinates instead of location names or descriptions, whenever possible. Many maps come with grids printed on them. You can also draw a grid with a fine-point sharpie or laminate the map with an adhesive grid transparency. If the grids on your maps don’t provide fine enough resolution, you can subdivide them visually. For example, the center of a grid square is “0”, the upper-left quadrant of is “1”, upper-right is “2”, et cetera. Append the sub-grid on the end of the grid coordinates when you communicate them.
- Assuming your maps are coated or inside a clear plastic case, bring a grease pencil (also called a china marker) to mark the locations of items of interest discovered during the patrol. You shouldn’t write any details on the map. Just put a small number at the location, then write the corresponding number in a notebook (carried by a different person), and provide the details in that.
- Avoid drawing a series of number notations that follow your patrol route, since that can point someone right back to your home base. Add some meaningless numbers at random locations around the map to disguise your trail in case the map gets compromised.
In addition to maps, you’ll need a good compass and the skills to use it to effectively navigate with the map. There are a number of good articles online that provide details on land navigation. I recommend that you practice until you’re comfortable with the skill. A good exercise in map and compass navigation is to blindfold someone, take them out into a wilderness area, give them a map and a compass (and a general idea of their location, if you’re feeling generous), and have them find their way to a designated rally point. Have another person that knows where they are stay with them for safety.
Tomorrow, we will look at movement of the patrol and contact.
- 1 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 1, by J.M.
- 3 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 3, by J.M.
- 4 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 4, by J.M.
- 5 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 5, by J.M.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part two of a five part entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.