Today is the final part of this article on patrolling in the post-SHTF scenario. If you just jumping in here and have missed the earlier parts, go back and look at what has been covered already, including objectives, planning, navigation, movement, contact, observing and more.
Let’s look at the practical concerns of bivouacking within a patrol group. Even if everyone in the patrol is in perfect physical shape, you’ll still need to stop for food and rest occasionally. Since you will be walking a lot, you’ll be burning a lot of calories, which you’ll need to replace. Food is obviously a very personal decision. However, keep in mind that for patrolling you’ll need food that is light and compact, has a high calorie count, and is easy to prepare. You could have the patrol forage, fish, or hunt for food. But that will take time away from achieving their primary objectives. It might also expose them to greater risk.
Patrol Meal Choice
My choice for patrol meals are custom freeze-dried meals that I create using ingredients from various #10 FD cans. I store them in a vacuum-packed sealed mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. They can be prepared quickly by just adding hot water, which I heat up with a simple alcohol burner, pot stand, wind break, and lightweight pot. Denatured alcohol is inexpensive and stores forever.
This approach eliminates the smell and light from a wood fire, which can travel quite a distance. I also stock a good selection of spice packets in a waterproof container along with a small bottle of hot sauce. Alternatively, you could stock and carry military MREs with heaters, but they tend to be heavier since they contain their own water. Also, some people don’t like them.
Eat Away From Where You Will Camp
Regardless of what you eat, you should plan to have breakfast after you break camp in the morning right before you leave. Then, find a secure location to have lunch, and have dinner well before you select a sleeping location. The smell of food can attract dangerous animals (both two-legged and four-legged). So, you want to ensure you prepare and eat it somewhere you won’t be hanging around for very long.
For sleeping you should plan on locating a bivouac site while it’s still light enough to see the terrain and determine its suitability in terms of safety and security. Have two-member teams recon the area out to at least 50 yards around the site to make sure there aren’t any hidden dangers nearby. You should plan on having half of the team on security and half sleeping at any given time. To simplify set up and take down, you could have the people coming off security utilize the shelters of the people going on when they switch. You could also have them “hot bunk” and use the blanket/sleeping bag of the person that’s replacing them. However, that’s a personal decision. For added security, you can set up tripwires with small bells or cans with pebbles inside attached across the most likely approaches. Assuming your sentries are awake and paying attention, that should be enough to alert them. Anything louder, like a shotgun shell tripwire, or something brighter, like a flare tripwire, stands the chance of exposing your location to anyone quite a distance away, even if it was just tripped by some wildlife.
Sleeping gear for patrols is another area that’s open to a lot of discussion and subject to personal preference. If the temperature is going to stay above 45°F in the evenings, I usually carry a portable hammock with a built-in mosquito net, a blanket or woobie, and a foam sleeping pad. For colder evenings, I add a mylar blanket. I can hang the hammock as designed, or lay it out on the ground and suspend the mosquito netting if it’s buggy out. If rain is a possibility, I use my poncho as a tarp.
Benefits of Foam Sleeping Pad Over Inflatable One
I believe the foam sleeping pad is a better choice for patrols than an inflatable one. I have several reasons for this, which follow:
- You can cut it, poke holes in it, burn it, et cetera, and it will continue to function; severe tears can be quickly repaired with duct tape,
- Even though it’s bulkier, it can be trimmed down to just the size you need,
- It works well as a flotation device, if you need to cross a water obstacle,
- It’s faster to set up and take down than an inflatable one,
- It makes a great back rest when leaning up against a tree or a ground pad while laying down in an OP,
- You can cut it up and use it for padding when splinting a broken bone, and
- You can buy several foam pads for the price of a single inflatable pad.
Cold Weather Modular Sleeping System
When the weather starts getting really cold and snowy I’d recommend switching to a military-style modular cold weather sleeping system, some good quality cold-weather rated sleeping bags and individual bivvies’, or two-person all season tents. Pay attention to the weight of anything you buy. This is one area where a good investment in a light and warm solution will pay big dividends.
Health and Safety
Going on patrol in a post-SHTF world will expose the team members to a lot of potential risks and hazards they may not normally have to worry about. Having the right training, procedures, and kit available can help minimize the potential risks.
Good toilet practices are critical, even when moving about on a patrol. Members should move well clear of the trail to use the bathroom, and a cat hole should be dug at least 10” deep for burying any solid wastes. If anyone needs to go to the bathroom after the bivouac is set up, they should be escorted by a second member at least 50’ away from the camp. Do not use the bathroom within 50’ of any body of water that could potentially be used as a drinking source by anyone. Have every team member carry at least three days’ worth of toilet paper and a small plastic hand trowel in a waterproof bag in their backpack.
Biological hazards, such as diseases, will most likely be rampant in a world without access to advanced medicine. All team member should carry N95 face masks and heavy-duty latex gloves and use them when interacting with anyone that could be sick or when touching or moving anything that could be carrying dangerous germs.
Since the team will be doing a lot of walking, potential foot issues are a big concern. Every team member should carry at least one clean change of socks in a waterproof bag, a small bottle of foot powder, and some moleskins. The team medic should check everyone’s feet for blisters each night as a standard part of setting up the bivouac.
Body Cleanliness and Odor Detection
A clean body is important to maintain health as well as to remain undetected. It’s interesting to read stories from the Vietnam and Middle East conflicts, where both sides tell about being able to frequently smell potential enemies before they could see them. So, you should avoid eating any foods that will produce a strong smell, like garlic.
Team members should wear under-clothing that incorporates anti-microbial properties, like merino wool, bamboo, and synthetic clothing, and is quick drying. Provide team members with low-odor deodorant to help control body odor. They should also wash each evening using wipes or no-rinse soap and shampoo. It’s hard to stay stealthy and pay attention to your surroundings when you’re fighting a serious case of jock itch or head lice.
Mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other bugs can carry deadly diseases. Use Permethrin on clothing and employ mosquito netting, especially at dusk. If ticks are a problem in your area/season, team members should check themselves each evening as they’re washing.
Dehydration can be a serious problem with the levels of exertion that patrols will expending, both in winter as well as summer. Patrol leaders should regularly check the water levels of each team member to ensure they have been drinking regularly. Team members should also carry powdered electrolytes, such as Gatorade, to replenish what they lose when sweating heavily.
Have each patrol member wear a good set of tactical gloves, like those from Mechanix Wear. Patrol movement and activities will typically result in a lot of touching of various surfaces. It is much easier to prevent cuts, scrapes, punctures, and infections than to fix them.
Based on the experiences of some friends of mine who’ve done a lot of it, one of the most common ailments associated with patrolling in wilderness areas is diarrhea. Carry a good supply of anti-diarrheal medication.
Throughout this article I’ve discussed various pieces of kit that patrol members should carry. However, there are a few more items that need to be included. Those items follow with description.
I recommend that each patrol member carry at least 4-5 liters of water on them and have the ability to filter water sources for refilling in the field. I’m partial to a 2.5L hydration bladder inside my backpack and a USGI-style 2-quart plastic canteen on my belt or on a strap. For a filter, I use the Survivor Filter Pro, as it has both biological elements as well as activated carbon filters. However, like everything else, there are a lot of options available.
A multitool is handy, because anyone who has ever been on a patrol in the military knows that things seldom break. (Sarcasm inserted.) Just in case, be sure to have one.
The choice of cutting tools is another area that’s subject to a lot of personal preference, but you should at least plan on having a good knife and a small hatchet or saw. My preference is a Zero Tolerance folding knife, a Gerber Downrange Tomahawk, and a small Primos folding saw. The tomahawk is useful as a weapon and for prying open doors, and the grip built into the head allows me to use the pry-bar end to break up dirt so I don’t need an entrenching tool. I use the Primos saw for cutting branches for camouflage or to clear an opening under a fallen tree for a bivouac, since sawing makes less noise than chopping.
I carry a combination of a Streamlight Sidewinder Military Model flashlight on my vest (with red LEDs), an Olight h04 headlamp (with red LEDs) for use at the bivouac, and an old SureFire for which I made a red lens cover. Whatever flashlight(s) you chose, make sure they support a low/moonlight/firefly mode and that you have a red filter or red LEDs so you don’t ruin your night vision.
It might make sense to have one or two entrenching tools with the patrol. I can’t really see patrols having to do a lot of digging, but the need may arise to bury a body or to rescue someone that’s buried. The downside is that the good ones weigh a lot.
- Have at least one extra set of batteries for each of your devices that require them. The loss of communications, for example, due to dead batteries is not a good situation, especially in a conflict situation.
Once a patrol has returned to the home base, all of the maps and notebooks that document the patrol’s intelligence and observations should be assembled for review by the security and intelligence staff. All of the patrol team members (current and future) should meet to discuss what happened, what was discovered, what went well, and what could use improvement, with someone assigned to take notes during the discussion. Any lessons learned should be applied towards planning and improving future patrols.
Despite the length of this article, I’ve only just touched the surface of what you need to do in order to run effective patrols in a post-SHTF world. While I’ve generally focused on larger patrols, much of what I’ve discussed can potentially be applied even if you only have two people available. Take the time to think about where and why you’d need to run patrols and how many people you’d have available. Then start practicing and stocking up.
If you’d like to learn more, I recommend that you read the following resources:
- Ranger Manual
- Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival
- Long-Range Recon Patrol Company Handbook
- FM 3-25.26 (FM 21-26) MAP READING AND LAND NAVIGATION
- MCWP 3-11.3 Scouting and Patrolling
- RP0501 – Patrolling
- FM 2-22.3 Human Intelligence Collector Operations
- 1 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 1, by J.M.
- 2 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 2, by J.M.
- 3 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 3, by J.M.
- 4 – Perspectives on Patrolling- Part 4, by J.M.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part five 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.