We are looking at patrolling in a post-SHTF scenario. In parts 1 and 2, I reviewed the definition of “patrol” and objectives of patrolling as well as planning, dress and kit, and navigation. Now, let’s look at what the patrol does after it is dressed, fed, and in action.
When on patrol you’ll generally be doing one of three things– moving, observing or resting. The majority of your time being spent moving around, so it is essential to understand and practice movement techniques.
Dimensions of Patrol Movement
Two of the most important dimensions of patrol movement are being able to detect potential threats or contacts before they detect you, and responding to threats when they are detected. Being able to detect threats/contacts allows you to plan and respond on your terms instead of reacting in a panic. I’ll provide some recommendations for how to prepare for this below.
Do the Jingle Jump
Do the “jingle jump” before you initially depart and after any stops where you moved gear around. This involves each member of the patrol jumping up and down while wearing their full gear load-out to determine if anything makes noise. If it does, they correct it.
Pay Attention While Patrolling
Everyone needs to constantly pay attention to what’s going on around them. Patrolling is not meant as time for the group to walk together and chat.
The movement formation depends a lot on the type of terrain you’re moving through, although you’ll most likely either use a single file for constricted terrain, like a trail through the woods, or a widely-spaced double column for more open terrain, like roads. You should generally maintain a separation of ten to fifteen feet between each member of the patrol, depending on the terrain. Each team member should always be able to keep the person in front of them in sight. One possible exception to this is if you’ve got a couple of team members designated as “contact specialists” (e.g. wearing civilian clothing and weapons hidden). In that case, they should walk together in front of the formation, as this will appear more natural and less threatening to anyone that spots them.
There’s a saying in the military– “Roads are for people that want to get ambushed.” However, if you’re trying to collect intel from people moving through the area, the roads are most likely where you’ll find them, so you should include major roads in your patrol route. If you do patrol on roads, be especially cautious around any areas that could provide concealment for ambushers, such as bridges, buildings, and dense brush on the sides.
Person in Back Looks Back
The person in the back of the patrol line should stop frequently and look back. It’s their job to check if you’re being followed.
Move deliberately and quietly so you can detect noises and movement around you. Practice moving stealthily through the various types of terrain in your potential area of operations.
Avoid silhouetting yourself at the top of hills, in front of lights, or against light-colored backgrounds. If you have to move through terrain where you might be silhouette yourself, get low and crawl instead of walking upright.
Observe Open Areas Coming From Restricted Terrain
If you’re moving through visually restricted terrain for concealment and have to cross an open area (especially roads), stop and observe for a few minutes to verify it’s clear. Then have each patrol member cross one at a time while the rest of the patrol observes and covers them. Be sure to maintain 360 degree observational coverage on both sides.
Patrol members should carry small convex mirrors, like the inexpensive stick-on ones for side-view mirrors that you can find at any auto parts store. These can be used for checking around corners before exposing themselves.
Crossing Water Obstacles
If you will have to cross any water obstacles, make sure you carry drum liners for protecting your backpack, clothing, and gear in case you have to swim across. Bridges may be down, and they make excellent ambush points. Strip down as far as you can and have a dry towel, spare underwear, and socks in a bag so you can dry off before you get dressed on the other side.
Approaching Home Base
When approaching your home base or if you’re concerned you’re being followed during movement, have a couple of members in the front of the patrol split off to the side and wait in concealment where they can watch the trail for anyone that may be following. The rest of the patrol should stop a good distance ahead and wait for the observers to return, or set up an ambush to confront the tails if notified they are being followed.
Using Radios to Communicate
If patrol members are using radios to communicate, they should utilize earpieces and microphones to minimize noise. When possible hand signals should be utilized instead of radios.
Regularly Verify Position On Map
The patrol leader should regularly verify the patrol’s position on the map. Frequency of this action depends on how familiar you are with the area.
When stopping, patrol members should position themselves to ensure that there’s 360 degree observational coverage.
If your area of operations gets snow, you should consider stocking up and training on snow shoes and/or cross-country skis. These will allow you to continue to patrol when the snow comes.
Practice Movement Techniques, Individually and as Team
As with any other skill you should practice movement techniques, both individually and as a team. The less time a patrol member has to spend focusing on where they should be and how they should be moving, the more time they’ll be able to focus on their surroundings. Everyone needs to practice these techniques until they become second nature.
One useful exercise I’ve done with some friends is to head out to a national park during a busy holiday and try to make our way across the park (including at least one overnight stop) without being seen by anyone. We were wearing camos and had our tactical gear (minus carbines and handguns concealed, which was legal). When a park ranger asked us what we were up to, we told them that we were practicing for an upcoming paintball event.
Patrolling On Foot, Bicycles, or Horseback
Most of what’s been discussed in terms of movement assumes that your patrol will be on foot. The potential disadvantage to patrolling on foot is that it limits your range and the amount of time you can be out.
If you need to be able to patrol a larger area or an area farther from your home base, you could utilize bicycles or horses, although your situational awareness will be reduced when riding. You could also combine the two modes. For example, you could ride bicycles to a more distant patrol area and hide/camouflage the bikes when you arrive, and then proceed on foot. If you use bicycles, make sure you have the ability to repair any failures that may occur.
I’d generally recommend against utilizing any transportation involving internal combustion engines for patrolling, as they’re noisy and gas will be difficult to store long-term. Another consideration is that advances in electric vehicle technology may make them a viable option for patrol transport, assuming you have the ability to recharge them.
Unless all of your patrol members are super ninjas or everyone in your patrol area has skedaddled, you’re likely to come into contact with other people while on patrol. What happens when contact occurs depends on a lot of different factors. However, your patrol should be trained on how to handle the most likely scenarios.
Signal Patrol When Spot Contact
To begin with, if a patrol member spots a contact without the patrol being seen, they should signal the rest of the patrol to quickly and quietly move into concealment. From concealment, the patrol can observe the contact to determine the potential level of threat. If the threat level is deemed acceptable, the designated contact specialist(s) should move out into the open and hail the contact from a safe distance while the rest of the patrol covers them. If the contact indicates they’re willing to talk (or at least listen without running away or shooting), the contact specialist should proceed towards the contact and open a dialog. Some points to consider regarding contact situations follow.
Maintain Reasonable Separation From Unknown Contacts
Always maintain a reasonable separation from any unknown contacts while interacting with them. While 2-3 feet is generally considered a comfortable talking distance in today’s society, that’s way too close in a situation that could potentially turn hostile. Between five and ten feet would be more appropriate.
Stay Out of Line of Fire
Never position yourself in the line of fire between the contact and the rest of the patrol covering you. Your position and direction of approach matter.
Never Allow Members of Contact Group To Move To Your Side or Back
If there are multiple individuals in the contact group, never allow them to move around to your side or back. Back up if you have to, and make it clear that you’re paranoid about having anyone behind you. Don’t allow any single member of the contact group to distract you.
Never Assume A Contact Isn’t Dangerous
Never assume a contact isn’t dangerous, no matter how innocent they look and act. A five-year-old child lying under a blanket can pull a trigger just as easily as an adult.
Attempt to gather intelligence. Ask them where they’re from, where they’re going, and what they’ve encountered. Be vague in any responses you provide to their questions. For example, if they’re transients trying to get somewhere, indicate that you’re traveling in the direction they’re coming from to try and get home. The U.S. Army’s “FM 2-22.3 (FM 34-52) Human Intelligence Collector Operations” manual is a great source of information on gathering intelligence from people.
When Contact Group Is In Bad Shape
If a contact group is in bad shape and you can spare some food, water, or medical supplies, feel free to do so. For example, I stocked up on 50-packs of small Bic lighters that will probably evaporate long before I can use all of them. So I carry a handful with me whenever I’m hiking, in case I run into someone who’s not prepared. You can also help them by providing them with knowledge they can use to help themselves. For example, show them some edible plants they can forage (like dandelions), or explain how they can kill germs in clear water by exposing it to sunlight for six hours using an empty clear 2-liter soda bottle. You can also provide some advice on which route they should take to avoid possible trouble, if they’re traveling somewhere.
Find Way To Prevent Folks From Sticking With You
One of the potential problems with being nice and helping out folks is that they may decide that they’re better off sticking with you. Unless you want a line of untrained and unknown people following your patrol, you need to find some way to politely but firmly discourage them.
Remember to Watch the Sector and Not Just the Contact
The patrol members covering the contact interaction will all have a tendency to want to focus on the contact, which can leave the patrol vulnerable. Every member of the cover team should have an assigned sector to watch so there’s 360 degree coverage.
Contacts Obviously Armed
If the contact(s) are obviously armed, your response will most likely depend on the correlation of forces between the contact group and your patrol. If there’s a single person in a 3-person contact group with a bolt-action .22 rifle, you could let them know they’re being covered and ask them to set it down on the ground before you approach them to talk. You probably want to avoid a heavily-armed motorcycle gang sitting around a fire drinking beer.
When Contacts Turn Physically Violent
Despite your best intentions, contacts may sometimes turn physically violent. I recommend that patrols carry less-lethal weapons and restraints, such as tasers, pepper spray, and flex cuffs. With these you may be able to subdue and restrain people who may violently disagree with your decision not to give them all of your food, allowing you to depart the area without having to use lethal force. Large zip ties can also be used for flex cuffs, and they’re also great for repairs and shelter construction.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue with the subject of handling contact situations while patrolling, including exchange of gunfire, disengaging, and hostile contacts as well as more.
- 1 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 1, by J.M.
- 2 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 2, 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 three 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
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- 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),
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- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
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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.