Traveling to Your Safe Haven During a WROL Event- Part 1, by E.P.

This article will provide general guidance and a few specific examples on getting your team to your safe haven destination during a “Without Rule of Law” (WROL) event in one piece. I am an engineer and a lawyer by trade. In my 20+ years of prepping, I have come across few fellow preppers with a well thought out plan for traveling to their bug out location during a WROL event.

I have an important note at the outset. With respect to all of the comments below, it is assumed a WROL event has occurred. Most of us are well on their way to acquiring enough ammunition, firearms, food, water, medical supplies, et cetera for facing a WROL event. On the other hand, preparing the group for moving to the safe location seems to be one of the last issues addressed.

Anything That Attempts to Interfere With Mission Should Be Considered Hostile

Why is this assumption important? It’s important because some of the suggestions will force you and your team to think outside the box and challenge how you perceive and interact with authority figures and governmental entities when all hell breaks loose. Simply put, during a WROL event anyone or anything that attempts to interfere with your mission, making it to the safe haven, should be considered hostile. Only you and your group can decide how best to respond to hostile intent in a WROL condition.

Issue 1: How Do You Know a WROL Has Occurred?

You and your group will only set out to your WROL-safe location when a WROL event takes place. Should a WROL event occur, don’t expect the local or national news services to provide a “WROL alert”. It won’t happen. As such, your group must decide what constitutes a WROL event well before the same occurs.

Identify WROL Event, Put Together a Plan

Events such as severe regional weather disasters, wide spread civil unrest, economic collapse, and firearm confiscations are reasonable examples of a possible WROL situation. Your group leadership should identify the events that will trigger a move to the safe location well in advance of any actual travel. Put together a communication plan that provides each member with a notification that a group-defined WROL event has occurred and that all members are expected to move to the safe location within a designated number of days. I will discuss travel-related communications and strategy in more detail below.

Governmental Emergency and Disaster Declarations

Pay particular attention to news reports of potential governmental emergency and/or disaster declarations. Why? Because at each level– local, state and federal– any existing government, whether fully functional or not, will have, and may exert, statute-based draconian authority to restrict travel, take private property, and jail citizens once such a declaration has been made. If you attempt to travel to the safe location after such a declaration, you run a higher risk of the facing the use of force against your team along your planned route(s).

Summary of Issue 1

A summary of Issue 1 actions for your group follows:

  1. Agree to what constitutes a WROL event,
  2. Pay attention to the type of actions that lead to such events (news discussions related to emergency declarations, for example),
  3. Have a WROL event notification plan in place,
  4. Communicate the WROL event designation to your team, and
  5. Get on the road early.

Issue 2: Switching Mindsets, Accomplish the Mission and Rules of Engagement

Once a WROL event takes place, the normal rules governing societal conduct change. Prior to taking to the road, you and your group should have already discussed in detail the types of situations you are likely to face during a WROL event.

How will your group respond? Are all members in agreement as to the current mission (traveling to the safe-location) and the group’s rules of engagement should you face the use of force by an opposing group or individuals?

Your group’s travel-related mission might be to get all members to the safe-location within the allotted time period. Make sure everyone understands this simple idea and acknowledges the same.

Mission Statement, Verbally Agree in Presence of All Other Members

One suggestion is to draft a mission statement. Have each member read and verbally agree to the mission statement in the presence of all other members. It will be easier to ensure future compliance if every member can point to a non-compliant individual’s prior assent to the mission statement.

Why would a member seek to stray from the mission statement? By definition, during a true WROL event, the group could face any number of potential life-threatening situations, most unplanned.

Should the team detour to help a non-member? Should the group comply with a roadblock?

If all members are on board with the mission statement it is less likely one or more members will balk at taking the correct action, action that will benefit the group as a whole in accomplishing the mission, which is to make it to a safe haven.

Each Member Must Have Knowledge of Travel Plans and Agree to SOPs and ROEs

Before setting out each member must have a working knowledge of the travel plans. These travel plans should be set out by the leadership team as a listing of standard operating procedures (SOPs). We’ll discuss SOPs in the next section.

In addition to SOPs, whether for travel or otherwise, the leadership team must also define and communicate the rules of engagement (ROE) for the travel mission. As with the mission statement, the ROE must be fully understood and agreed to by the membership as a whole.

Rules of Engagement

For the most part, the ROE will define how the group and individual members react to hostile situations, whether to use deadly force or something less. Most typically an ROE related to traveling during difficult conditions will set out when and how to respond with both less than deadly force and deadly force when confronted by a life-threatening situation. It is absolutely critical that each member understands that, as a group, a WROL event has been declared and that the group’s ultimate success and survival depends on meeting threatening situations with appropriate force.

As stated above, a good rule of thumb is that anyone or anything that attempts to stop your group should be considered hostile. How will the group respond to hostile intent? What constitutes appropriate force? We can thank our military planners for providing many examples.

Good Starting Point on ROE For Group Discussion

The following ROE may be a good starting point for any group discussion.

Threats of Death of Serious Bodily Harm

Our team members will protect themselves from threats of death or serious bodily harm. Deadly force may be used to defend your life, the life of another team member, or the life of persons in areas under membership control. Team members are authorized to use deadly force in self-defense when:

  • Fired upon.
  • Armed elements, mobs, and/or rioters threaten human life.
  • There is a clear demonstration of hostile intent in your presence.
  • Hostile intent of opposing forces can be determined by group leaders or individual members, if their leaders are not present. Hostile intent is the threat of imminent use of force against team members or other persons in those areas under the control of the membership. Factors you may consider include:
    • Weapons: Are they present? What types?
    • Size of the opposing force.
    • If weapons are present, the manner in which they are displayed; that is, are they being aimed? Are the weapons part of a firing position?
    • How did the opposing force respond to the group?
    • How does the force act toward unarmed civilians?
    • Other aggressive actions (roadblocks and attempting to pull over a team vehicle are examples).
Hostile Intent

Members may use deadly force if fired upon or if they encounter opposing forces which evidence a hostile intent. (See above for the definition of hostile intent.) Non-deadly force or a show of force should be used, if the security of the group is not compromised by doing so. A graduated show of force includes:

  • An order to disband or disperse.
  • Show of force/threat of force by team members that is greater than the force threatened by the opposing force.
  • Warning shots aimed to prevent harm to either innocent civilians or the opposing force.
  • Other means of non-deadly force.

If a show of force does not cause the opposing force to abandon its hostile intent, consider if deadly force is appropriate. 1

Detailed or Simple ROE

The ROE can be very detailed or it can be simple. A simplified group travel-related ROE will assist with comprehension and, ultimately, adherence so that everyone knows what to expect. Again, it is critical that the group discusses, fully understands, and agrees to all SOPs (discussed below) and the ROE. No one wants to begin the process of deliberating what to do or how to respond during a hostile situation. This gets people hurt and, possibly, killed. Decide well beforehand when the group will respond with deadly force, and non-deadly force, and stick to that plan (ROE).

Summary of Issue 2

A summary of Issue 2 actions for your group follows:

  1. Have a WROL mindset,
  2. Team leadership should draft and share a travel mission statement,
  3. Team leadership should draft and share mission-related rules of engagement (ROE),
  4. Members should read and openly agree to the mission statement and ROE, and
  5. ROE governs how the team will react to hostile intent (when to use non-deadly and deadly force).

Tomorrow, we will continue this article series by beginning to discuss traveling by vehicle. Traveling during an WROL event will be difficult, even in a vehicle.

See Also:

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32 Comments

  1. I won’t give warning shots. Any attempt to impede my group’s ability to reach our objective will be considered an act of aggression and immediately met with deadly force.

    1. The problem with this mindset is that someone will indeed take it from your cold dead hands. Deceive, defuse, delay, deny, do whatever you need to to both achieve your objective and stay alive. The second you go to a weapon all bets are off and the outcome is doomed to be bad. You may live and your most loved wife/child/friend may die. And you will live with the guilt the rest of your life.

      I recognize this attitude in people. I can still be friends and hang out with them but I would never include them in my preps or plans. And most importantly I would never drink with them. For whatever reason people who have the shoot first attitude become much more aggressive and offensive with a couple of drinks. There is one thing I do like about them though… They telegraph their intent and give us fair warning of their instability and it allows us to avoid them.

    2. This comment is typically made by someone who has never heard a shot fired in anger, much less seen combat. Mindsets like that get people killed. Armed conflict is to be avoided WHENEVER possible, because it is unavoidable that your best laid plans all go haywire at first contact. Funny thing about shooting at people Harry, it’s not like the movies. Even when you hit them, they don’t immediately keel over and die. And during the time between impact and death, they have this annoying habit of shooting back at you and the people with you.

      1. Jason apparently you don’t understand my comment. I thought I made it perfectly clear. I’m not going to run with the herd. If that’s what you and a few others here want, then have at it. You stand in my way, I will do my best to run you over by any means necessary.

        1. Harry I understood completely, but I truly don’t think you do. But you can’t explain real combat to people who’ve achieved the trifecta of 1. Never having participated in combat, 2. have watched a ton of movies and read a bunch of novels about it and 3. Are convinced that “I’m different.” But I’ll try. Let’s consider the tactical situation of being held up at a typical roadblock manned by individuals with standard infantry or LEO tactical training, no more, no less. I’m not talking Green Berets or even RECON guys, just you standard ex infantry guys who did a hitch or 2, maybe an ex E6 or O3 is in charge. They’ve almost assuredly set up the block in a place that allows them to see you well before you see them, optics or not. So they’re ready for you. They have full range of motion and cover sufficient to absorb standard small arms fire. The road is blocked by cars or trucks 2 or more deep and road spikes staggered requiring you to zig zag in your vehicle at a slower speed as you approach, eliminating your ability to even try the “run through em” technique you saw in the last action movie. Meanwhile, you’re in, let’s say, a large 4WD SUV, maybe a Suburban, so from the front you’ve got plenty of engine block between your lower extremities and a projectile, but your mid chest up is exposed. But you see them, and they are, in your words, an impediment to you meeting your objective so you fire no warning shots. I’ll grant you the greatest luck shot in the world and say that you’re first burst takes out the point man, head shot, down he goes immediately. You sir, are now nothing but a fish strapped in a tin can barrel subject to broadside fusillades that you’ve only seen in your nightmares. You can’t bail out, it’s a hail of bullets from both flanks and probably your rear, you can’t maneuver, you’re in the front seat of a truck. Your group can provide only at best moderate supporting fire, bc they’re in the same position you are. You sir, are a dead man, bc instead of talking and maybe finding out that the roadblock is looking for a specific group, or hey, just closing off the town, but turn around and go this way to get around, you had to play Rambo. There’s a reason Armies use roadblocks and checkpoints. It’s because they work.

        2. I’m more about success than I am about process. If someone wants to fight me I consider it a “mental” challenge in that I’m probably smarter than him and I can probably talk my way out of this. Almost everything can be resolved without violence. If you encounter a hostile and you can avoid him or negotiate with him you win, he wins too. If you shoot him or he shoots you you both lose but one of you has lost everything. I expect problems in life and I like to keep my eyes open so I can see them in time to do something other than react to them. A weapon is a huge responsibility and has it’s risks. Even trained policeman have been shot by their own weapon. Once you cross that line and pull the gun everything changes. There is a time for fighting but it should not be your first choice.

  2. You can’t just shoot anyone you feel is threatening to you. What if the event is only a couple months long? You will be hunted down then and face the consequences. If you are being threatened by someone with a gun, say on the interstate. …oh that’s you. See if you haven’t already bugged out you will have to take many lives to get to your cabin in the woods, but you will lose people also at each engagement. Find a way now that will be the less traveled. Also remember when the time comes every body will have a gun. And then everyone will probably be very nice to each other.

    1. No problem Harry, I wont stand in your way. You may pass. I will just follow along behind at a safe distance. I will let you take on the roadblocks.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this part of the article and look forward to the next parts. I wish more groups were as organized. In my many years exposure to groups around the nation even on the practice runs when all the families go to the BOL things begin to break down quickly. The kids whine, the parents are impatient, adults get upset with each other and arguments break out. The non-military folks start complaining about the strictness of rules and object to actions that they previously agreed to abide by. I have even heard folks say things like “This is not the army, don’t order us around like it is.” Surely the folks can be ejected from the group but their skill sets may leave a huge gap when they depart. I think leadership is more an art than a science when dealing with family groups. Everyone claims that in the real event, groups would act differently; but I really wonder if they would?

    1. They won’t (act differently). That is why bugging out with a group is, IMO, a fools errand. Stress is high, but belly’s are still full and though, intellectually participants may understand the gravity of the situation, understanding the reality of it is NOT the same thing. Normalcy bias is alive and kicking, and egos are inflated. This is why I personally moved to my retreat full time, but also when I don’t associate with any groups that include non-veterans. Civilians generally do not take orders well, and the learning curve is too steep to wait for them to adjust.

  4. Patientmomma makes overwhelming real observations. Roadblocks with armed fighters in bulletproof cover are extremely had to pass through. And look at the video of what happened to Lavoy Finnicum where the shooters were all out in the open or just standing behind thin-skinned vehicles. Read the book Combat Actions in Korea, edited by Gugeler for more discussions about what it takes to get past roadblocks with and without armored vehicles.

    This subject should bring on some lively discussions and I look forward to seeing the comments posted.

    God Bless you all and Happy Flag Day. Gadsden is coming out of my prep stash and going on display today, and we’re celebrating our anniversary of 38 years of marriage living in freedom.

  5. Perhaps some people should stop reading fantasy stories about end of the world events.

    Anyone who wants to shoot up a roadblock can be my guest. My confident prediction is that you and the people in your vehicles will be dead within seconds or minutes regardless of your past training and that includes roadblocks set up by community safety minded individuals. The best option is to re-route around them altogether. If you can’t do that you need to scout the location, see what they’re up to and then decide if you want to negotiate safe passage.

    Get to your location early and most likely you won’t have to worry about trouble on the road at all.

  6. I see quite a few comments have drawn responses that don’t hue to my selection of action describing what I would do if my group were hindered in advancing to our known bug out location. Some have only surmised regarding my “experience” and that is no sweat off me.
    I do wish those who have read this article the best if or when this tragic event might find us and hope we overcome that of which we might face. Discussion is good and causes us to think. Surmising only creates doubt. By best to all of you, no matter.

  7. The idea that you are even encountering roadblocks indicates a failure to begin with, the thought of engaging an entrenched fortified position with a non armored mobile unit falls somewhere between naivety and fantasy. Darwin will be hard at work during the early days of the SHTF.

  8. I see many comments talking good sense about being prudent with the use of force. They will probably be the survivors. I see other comments (Harry) talking hotheadness and another talking about going it alone. These people will have a much reduced chance of surviving.

    I generally agree that people should avoid the bugout by moving to the BOLO, but at the very least get aways from big cities.

  9. Just the fact that there is a roadblock tells me that a significant number of hours has already gone by following the event. If you were not ready when the event occurred you were not prepared and missed your window.

  10. In my opinion, part of being a prepper is keeping an eye on world and national events. When you see some thing building that raises the hairs on the back of your neck, its time to act and get out of Dodge. He who hesitates is lost… If you get to your BOL and nothing ends up happening, chock it up to a bug-out-drill and lessons learned.. If anything happens to trigger a WROL event, non preppers will be sitting around waiting for the Gov’t to fix things and come to their aid and any bad type people will need time to organize such as setting up a road block to stop the late departures of those who waited…

    As far as road blocks go, you have no idea who set them up and the level of their knowledge… Any one who is worth their salt has occupied the high ground of the road block, covered the approach from various angles and knew you were coming long before you came upon the road block.. What you would see of the block would only be the tip of the iceberg… You would have driven into a kill zone…

    Leave early, get to your BOL, set up your security, turn on the pc, tv, radio or HAM and listen as long as things are working..

  11. I am retired wife works, we are usually at home also bug in location,our main vacation is usually in August at Orange Beach , Ala. my wife and I are avid news watchers so we would be aware of an event growing to larger magnitude , we would be on the road early before it ev n gets to the point of possible happening . Be prepared and ready .Keep your powder dry.

  12. I remember my first practice bug out with the first group I joined. First the delays over pets, followed by preventable car trouble and whining brats. Left them in a hurry.

    I also remember all the worry some members had about punishment afterwards, should they have to defend themselves. Currently the U.S. has a 64% clearance rate for that sort of thing and with planning it would be zero following any major event. Some people watch too much CSI, which is made for Television and about as real as Mountain Monsters.

    The article is aggressive, but there is value in planning, mutual understanding, and worst case scenarios. I already live at my BOL, but sometimes I go places and nobody knows what or if any warnings may be available.

    Personally I am more worried about unfit adults who can’t make decisions and their offspring, than roadblocks.

    Jack Sparrow: The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do.

    For instance, you can accept that your father was a pirate and a good man or you can’t. But pirate is in your blood, boy, so you’ll have to square with that some day. And me, for example, I can let you drown, but I can’t bring this ship into Tortuga all by me onesies, savvy? So, can you sail under the command of a pirate, or can you not?

  13. In my time in the military I never had rules of deadly force that allowed warning shots. Always specifically prohibited. Maybe they were authorized or required in situations I did not see like those seen by infantry. I don’t think they would be applicable in most survival situations but I could be wrong.

    But deadly force was always authorized ONLY “…when all lesser means have failed or cannot be reasonably employed” and then only under several defined circumstances like self defence. That always made good sense to me in all defensive situations.

    In short I was taught to avoid deadly force if at all possible but if you have to fire, put two shots center of available mass and repeat until the threat is stopped.

    I tend to agree with those who say if you end up in a fire fight, you are probably not getting out of it without casualties.

  14. Excellent comments. The majority of the comments reflect on Harry’s decision to use force in an arguably ‘shoot first and ask later’ mentality. I’m glad to hear the majority of the comments find Harry’s use force as unrealistic, unjustified and a sure to way to get killed. In particular, breaking past a road-block.

    But I would like to encourage further thought on restrictions of movement put into place by law enforcement/military/joint task forces after the SHTF. From the perspective of a police officer. I have 30+ years military/police service to include a tour in Iraq and years working dangerous neighborhoods (I mean really bad) at home.

    If you and your group or travelling on roads when the police/military put up roadblocks/travel restrictions, you and your group are already late in your preparations. Your late preparations and decision to bug-out is not the concern of the police/military manning roadblocks, restricting travel.

    The police/military manning those roadblocks, restricting travel, are not happy to be there. They would much rather be with their families during the SHTF scenario. Nonetheless, at least initially, these police and military members will retain their discipline, obey orders to include use of force. In other words, they will not be a threat to you and your group if your follow their orders/commands i.e. not to use this road, not to travel here or there or during specific times.

    Constitutional arguments aside, we’re talking practical advice here, the police/military in the early stages of a SHTF scenario are not a threat, may put travel restrictions in place for reasons perhaps unknown to you and will follow use of force protocol. The officers and military following that use of force protocol will also have tactical training/past experience (even past combat experience), military grade equipment/weapons, intelligence/knowledge of the area and tactical expertise to set up a road-blocks, check points, security patrols and stops of vehicles and pedestrians.

    It would be foolish, if not suicidal, to confront the above police/military as they conduct the above operations. They do not want to hurt anybody, are likely sympathetic to your plight and may even offer ‘alternative’ routes, intelligence on bad areas/spots to avoid. But all that aside, the first shoots fired at them, the gloves are off and they will kill that shooter.

    Be prepared, bug out early. If you bug out late, plan your route staying off major roads/highways if at all possible. The military/police cannot be everywhere and will concentrate on strategic areas (ports/airports/refineries/transportation hubs…) and major supply lines (Inter-state and State roads (especially those that have natural choke points).If you encounter police/military during your bug-out, be respectful (even if they are not), follow their commands and possibly gain intelligence from those officers/military members. If you feel the need to resist or fight the ‘unlawful actions’ of those officers/military members, I strongly advise you to pick your battles very carefully.

    And perhaps the best advice I can give, after 30+ years military/police experience, having been shot at numerous times, having served in Iraq and in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina as a police officer; avoid a fight/any fight if you can. With proper planning, preparation, you should be able to avoid most if not all fights. But if you must fight, fight with everything you have.

  15. War time ROE and the many dangers of being on “the road ” is an unacceptable risk with me. If you love your family and your group…and you do, if you think society is going to fail…and you do, what is keeping you in your current location? Runnin and gunnin is a foolish plan from an obviously intelligent man. Save your loved ones now.

  16. Every curve, every hill, every bridge……….it is a place of ambush. Ambush can be a roadblock set up by any one. If you move, do it deliberately and with good scouts! If you are stopped or engaged, you are so far behind the power curve, it probably will not end well. You have to pray, think, plan, think, adjust, pray, and move like crazy once things go terminal. Hopefully, you are ahead of the curve and gone long before roadblocks are set up by whomever.

  17. This article has generated more good discussion than any article since gray lady. The writer should be commended for a thought provoking article. I disagree with the main point ,however , I enjoyed reading and the great response.

  18. Most posters have the right idea. Leave early, or BE there already. Force is absolutely the last resort, as once you commit, there are no call-backs. Feuds with neighbors will prove more costly than the reason you are bugging out in the first place. You’ll have enough problems to manage.
    Then, there’s the fact that the ER will not be available to you and your family. Bullets go both ways, and you have your loved ones with you. Play NICE.

  19. One thing to remember: By being armed, yourself, you WILL be seen as a threat by others with a similar ROE who might be bugging out. If they see a caravan coming towards their home with armed persons riding in it they might just pre-emptively eliminate YOU. If you’re not already AT your destination prior to WROL-Day you are taking a big risk with everyone’s lives. YOU will be seen as the horde of locusts – or the rolling grocery store – or lead someone stealthier to your own hideout if you are allowed to make it there. There is a very good reason to go where you want to be now, not roll the dice and see if you can get there at the last minute.

  20. Nobody knows anybody else’s circumstances. That being said, all of this is academic and should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s just information. My own situation is, I have a spouse that has already portrayed me as a doom sayer. Living in a hurricane zone I can get away with prepping. But it looks like we’ll be bugging in until my significant other realizes things are indeed dire. Then it’ll be a little late in the game. There is nothing I can do to change this but deal with it.

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