Monday, November 23, 2015

Travelling During SHTF: Tactics and Techniques to Save You

Not long ago, I read a article called How To Travel When SHTF by Prepper's Will. I don't think its a bad article but I think it needs to provide some information about how to just that. So I've decided to write a blog explaining such tactics and techniques that should have been in Prepper's Will own blog.

While the cited article was focused on general information it was more like generalized things to do without much discription on how to do them. Many things addressed like securing you vehicle was covered in Poorman's Guide to Prepping: Economical Doomsday Survival available from Shadow Warrior Publishing for $14.95. Knowing what to do is only part of the solution, knowing how to do it is just as vital. As they say in G.I. Joe, "Knowing is half the battle." but they don't say doing is the other half.

Rule Number 1: Know your Area!
Terrain dictates tactics, so if you know your terrain you know know what tactics you are going to be dealing with. Terrain is not just about hills and valleys, swamps and deserts, urban or rural but who is in your area. Many Americans live in rural areas where the prepping lifestyle is a way of life and moving to these areas your "Prepping" is just a funny city-slicker way of say Red Neck Ingenuity or Common Sense to a Hill Billy. Some places in the woods locals don't go because they know there are pot fields, meth labs and people who will kill you to protect their supply. Police won't even go into those areas without going in force, having back up ready and air support. So know not only the hills and valleys but the people you are dealing with.

Travel on Foot:
Travel on foot may be unavoidable and while I somewhat agree with Prepper's Will about travelling at night, night time is more likely to get you shot for being mistaken for a looter or burglar. In some cases you may need to travel alone, car breaks down and you have to stash or abandon your gear and just travel with a bug out bag, a state of martial law is declared for a localize emergency (Hey I was 13 when the Governor of West Virginia declare a State of Emergency and put National Guard on the Streets because an ice storm knocked out power and people started breaking into drug stores and looting, it is not as strange or as dramatic as Hurricane Sandy or Katrina was.).

There are debates online about whether to be a Grayman or go all paramilitary when SHTF. This all depends on what and how things are breaking down. Now yes, police and those in authority will treat a individual in paramilitary garb as a threat but statically speaking criminals will leave you alone. This is based on a Department of Justice Survey cited in the U.S. News & World Report story titled Open Carry Deters Crime so even you are walking up the road with a backpack, your hunting rifle and a handgun on your belt, you are a less likely target to criminals then someone carrying concealed. Now whether you are a target for some Rambo-wannabe Barry Fife is a different matter. I always suggest someone getting starting with a bug out bag and working down from there.

While I agree with Prepper's Will about not travelling but you need to a) understand your environment and b) know the people you are dealing with. Night time travel in a cold environment is not suggested and if you must evacuate (that's what bugging out is) you need to know not only were you are going but have worked out several alternate routes. A substitute for foot travel is using a smaller vehicle such as a bicycle, moped, dirt bike (motor cycle) or ATV. However, these things are limited by what kind of terrain they can be used one, and the need for fuel. An electric motor can be charged using a small solar kit but that effects travel. Regardless you need to practice said hike before you attempt it in a emergency. Even then, just avoiding the interstate isn't enough because many people will risk it, even not knowing the area just to "follow the locals" hoping to avoid a traffic jam and many local may be trying to use the same paths and trails you are. So again you need to know your area, physically and socially.

Basic Tips for Travel On Foot:
  1. Avoid Traveling Alone: If at all possible avoid traveling alone but, lets assume you can't help it. Great either try to blend in with others if you are in a crowd or try to find a place to lay low to evaluate the situation and figure out your next move. If you have to travel alone make sure to use the proper tactics, be the gray man with authorities and present a hard target to criminals. 
  2. Noise and Light Discipline: Noise and Light Discipline is military term for "shut up, tie down, dirty it & no Light." Shut Up, is the very simple concept of don't speak unless you have to and speak quietly (whisper when you do). Tie Down, is the simple concept of tie down any loose straps, clothing and so on, so as not to create a snag or brush against something when moving. Dirty it, is the basic concept of using dirt to cover the shine of skin, metal or plastic items and any bright clothing. This is basically camouflage. No Light, doesn't mean not have a flash light, it means not to use it excessively. If you use a flashlight put a red lens on it and even then cover it. This a) protects your night vision and b) makes a you less visible to other. So if you are checking a map, cover you and map with your coat while using the light.
  3. Camouflage, Cover & Concealment: This is pretty simple, camouflage is any clothing pattern and movement method which allows you to go unnoticed. Many "survival experts" call this being the gray man and treat the tactic of camouflage as if it is a survival strategy, it isn't. You don't need to wear BDUs or MarPat to be camouflaged, right now its fall I live in West Virginia which means there are no leaves on the trees and everything is brown. So wearing Tan and Khaki clothing will allow me to blend in better then a pare of BDUs. Cover is an obstacle that prevents contact with the enemy (anyone who threatens your life and safety) and obstructs said enemy's view of you. A sheetrock wall is not cover, if your enemy is armed, bullets will pass through sheet rock. This makes sheetrock concealment, concealment is anything that obstructs sight with the enemy but doesn't prevent contact. 
  4. Travel Along Cover & Concealment: Don't avoid roads, just avoid traveling on them. You can travel along a road but approximately 30 to 50 yards to the side of, off the road. This allows you observe the road and follow it but allows you remain concealed so as to avoid an trouble on the road. Do not walk on the tops of ridges or hills so as not to silhouette yourself, instead travel along the side of the hill.
  5. Camouflage your Camp Site: If you have to lay low or shelter in place, you need to camouflage your area. This means avoiding the usual camp site activities like camp fires or building shelters. Even if you do build a shelter you need to make sure it's hidden from view and preferably between two larger objects with a limited area of approach. If you have to build a fire us a Dakota Fire Hole.
  6. Learn Individual Movement Principles: Learning basic skills like individual movement techniques for sneaking about. You never know when it will come in handy. When in doubt, freeze or just drop to your stomach and low craw to cover. To get a basic idea just watch the video below...
  7. Post Watch/Traps/Alarms: When camping or rest, set a few small noise traps, or even defensive traps to cause injury if you travel alone. This allows some small amount of protection, though travelling with someone who can keep watch while you sleep and you can watch for them while they rest is the best bet.
  8. Always Be Armed: You don't need a AR15 with all the latest tacticool gadgets or a AK47, anything will do as long as you have some means of self-defense. Even if you are carrying a hastily made spear out a butcher knife, duct tape and an old broom stick or just old broom stick. Having some means yo defend yourself is critical.

Travel in a Vehicle:
Vehicle Travel is a pain in the ass, because you either have to be on the road before traffic turns the interstate into a parking lot or you have wait until after all hell breaks loose and its safe too travel afterward, which puts you in the "storm" when shit hits the fan. In either case you need to have extra fluids, gas for your vehicle and still have to sport room for you preps. If you have more then one vehicle remember the slowest and least off road capable sets the pace. Then there are security issues... Look any jack ass with a chain saw and a gun can rob you by putting trees in the road and car jacking you. Some small towns with little to now law enforcement presence will have a Bubba or group of Bubbas who will set up their own check points in a Doomsday scenario. Some of these small towns will then cut off routes through rural America, so taking the back roads can and will be more dangerous then we think. Same can be said for some urban and sub-urban neighborhoods. This happened during Katrina and Sandy in the US.

So lets look at the most likely scenario, a father of 2 children (a 14 year old argumentative drama queen brat of daughter who thinks the world revolves around her & a 7 year old son who has spent more time playing video games then playing outside) are forced to evacuate. The family mini van is packed with essentials, and they have to travel 47 miles to Aunt Marta's house during a mass evacuation.

But what are the essentials? To the son its a PSP and an MP3 player... The to daughter its her cell phone and facebook which is now down. To the wife its all the canned goods and everyone is packing a lot of cloths. To daddy, John Doe its his .380 and 12 gauge shot gun. This nightmare scenario becomes so much worse if we are talking about a single mother or just a single person.

So lets discuss those basics shall we, what do you need for your car-kit?

  1. Cloths are fine and all but you need no more then 5 pares of cloths, per person. But, you also need to think Hygene as well, Antiseptic Wipes or Antiseptic Soap and a wash cloth, Tooth Brush, Etc.
  2. The Bug Out Bag, there are different builds and each person should build there own to there needs. Bug-Out bags are the basic foundation. Most of the essentials should be covered here and a little extra in car, like matches and lighters doesn't hurt.
  3. I suggest at a minimum two 5-Gallon Gas Cans, jumper cables, Jump Starter, extra fluids (all of them) at least 4 bottles and 6 for oil, spare blankets, flashlight, socket set, spare fuses, car jack, lug wrench, a case of water and some emergency food (trail mix & jerky will do) and that is for everyday travel. And that is not counting the spare tire or tire chains if your location requires them and oh yeah a can of fix-a-flat or 4, just in case. Don't forget your first aid kit either.
  4. A fairly medium tent would be a good addition. Your vehicle is made of glass and steel and those things trap heat but also transfer the cold temperature will make your car a freezer in the winter. A good tarp is also recommended.
  5. Then you can start looking at Food to take, other things... of that nature. As for guns well, that is on you but I think the pioneers had a good system. You need only 3 three at a minimum. A shotgun for utility and a handgun for close in defense. You need a rifle for long range shooting and don't forget to buy a big freaking knife and a hatchet or tomahawk. For rifles I suggest a AR15 or AK47 style rifle as it is good for general defense. Also take a tactical class and learn to use it effectively.
  6. Now what are the special items you need, after all I just covered the basic above... Lets start out simple, maps... GPS is fine but paper maps don't need batteries and if you are going to Aunt Martha's you need to map out back roads and main highways to get there. You can get local area crime stats at your police departments and mark danger areas you want to avoid. Some people suggest having cache's along the way and you can do this along those routes but, a cache can be found and looted by others. So do so at your own risk. A pioneer's kit is also recommended, a axe, shovel and pick or matic is recommended at a minimum.
  7. Now if you have your family of 4, you need security... Mommy and Daddy need to be packing. With that family of 4 daddy needs his handgun handy for a right hand draw, and mommy needs to be sitting in the back seat middle with the shotgun. Grocery bags filled with dirt (i.e. sandbags) can be used to line the back of mini-van and placed long the doors on the inside to provide some ballistic protection (hey if it works for the US Army it will work for your family). That single parent needs to sit in the driver seat with a shotgun across their lap to cover the right side and that handgun at a right hand draw to cover the left side. 
  8. If you are traveling by convoy (3 or more vehicles together), the fastest vehicles needs a flare gun and too travel about 1 to 3 miles ahead of the rest, with two people inside. This allows for a forward observer in case the road is blocked or a situation arises. In case the radio can't reach you, I live a state where mountains can block cell phone and even CB reception, the flare provides an emergency warning. All non-combatants (injured, women and children; Note: I'm not saying women aren't capable for defending themselves I'm saying they are the last line in defending the children and we all know that saying about mother protecting her young... Oh and I'm sorry men should be men and fight to protect their families!) need to travel with the supplies. The "defense forces" or IRF (instant reaction force) needs to have all the fighters in the group. Order of travel is simple, Scout Vehicle, IRF and Non-Com (Non-Combatants). If the threat comes from behind, the IRF can provides a defensive position to engage while the Non-Coms advance past them to safety or advance while the Non-Coms halt should the Scouts encounter anything. More so, just because they are non-combatants doesn't mean the Non-Coms should be unable to defend themselves. 
  9. DO NOT Pick Up Strays... By Strays I mean anyone not in your group. I don't care if it is women and children if you don't know them personally, you are best to avoid them. Look criminals use kids all the time to run drugs, steal and commit other crimes. They also use them as decoys, so don't take the risk.
This is very loosely based on US Army doctrine and convoy SOP. Ideally, if the scouts encounter a potential threat they call in IRF as support and investigate one scout providing over-watch with a rifle and allow the other to advance. A Bubba checkpoint might only seeking to keep out trouble or it could be a ride side robbery waiting to happen. The last thing you want them to know is that you have a combat capable IRF on standby. Basically, it is a very simple matter of using this as recommended for basic tentative plan and adjust were you need to. Two vehicles don't need to send a scout element because that splits the force in half.

Travel Alone:
Travel alone is not recommended. But its say it unavoidable well that video on basic individual movement will provide some basic techniques for you. Some additional information for those travelling alone...

  1. Always assume the area is under enemy observation.
  2. Move slowly. A sniper counts his movement progress by feet and inches.
  3. Do not cause overhead movement of trees, bushes, or tall grasses by rubbing against them.
  4. Plan every movement and move in segments of the route at a time.
  5. Stop, look, and listen often.
  6. Move during disturbances such as gunfire, explosions, aircraft noise, wind, or anything that will distract the enemy’s attention or conceal one's movement.
  7. Avoid known enemy positions and obstacles.
  8. Seek terrain that offers the best cover and concealment.
  9. Take advantage of difficult terrain (swamps, dense woods, and so forth).
  10. Do not use trails, roads, or footpaths.
  11. Avoid built-up or populated areas.
  12. Avoid areas of heavy enemy & criminal activity.
  13. Avoid conflict when possible but, if you have to fight... go all out and take no prisoners.

Travel by Day or Night:
While I somewhat agree with Prepper's Will, I don't think night time is the only option. If you are in difficult terrain or a rural area with large predators. Travel at night might not be advisable, so when moving through difficult terrain day light hours are your best bet. There is no single answer and each situation is different so do what is best for you, when you feel you have to.

Know Your Environment:
I know I've covered this already but you need to practice you drive or hike out of dodge and practice the alternate routes at least twice a year. You need to know of if not know, everyone in your area. The social landscape can be just as dangerous as the physical one and will impact the physical landscape in an emergency.

Types of SHTF:
Different type of SHTF events require a whole different set of tactics. The basic idea here is simple, you are bugging out for a reason. Regardless of whats happening you are leaving your home and have to assume none of your stuff will be left behind because it is better/safer for you to leave and not stay put.

Martial Law:
Many people talk about the government coming for you or America becoming a police state. Well guess what, too late we are already there... suck it up "Tinker Bell" and deal with it. There are several situations in which martial law can and will be imposed. In small areas like we've seen in the past covered by the mainstream media with its government funded propaganda. Like Hurricane Katrina, Boston and Hurricane Sandy, now here is the thing...

Lets say your area has been placed under a state of emergency and the police are coming door to door taking your guns and other preps. You have three ways to handle the situation. 1. Start shooting, likely to get you and others killed. 2. Bug-out and 3. Accept it.

Now if you accept it the government will cart you off the a FEMA camp or some location like the Super Dome, with a bunch of other people. And well it took FEMA how long to get water there and if you haven't heard the stories about the rape gangs that was in the Super Dome and how little protection people had... well google it. Or just read this story from the LA Times.

You could resist and that is going to do three things, a) get you killed, b) get you arrested and c) cause the powers that be to put more trigger happy and paranoid jack-booted thugs on the ground to terrorize you. Then there is bugging out.

Our middle option is to sneak out the area of effect and get on to your BOL (Bug Out Location). You can't just drive through a check point with a car full of gear and guns go to Aunt Martha's. You will most likely have to hike out on foot carrying your gear and dragging your family with you. Like's a bitch but hey get to walking...

Natural Disaster:
Travel during or after a major natural disaster is a different scenario. Remember what happened in LA post hurricane Katrina with the localized martial law was due to a sudden up-shoot in crime and looting. Not keep this in mind because a natural disaster caused massive civil unrest and civil unrest lead to martial law. So lets look at the Natural Disaster angle for a minute...

A natural disaster causes a breakdown in social order and most likely economical and utility service in an area. This causes civil unrest or those of malicious intent to act maliciously. Either way, weather or flooding or earth quakes have all cut you off and you need to get out the area. You might have to accept a few things, first is that certain roads may be impassable and second you might not know it until you are on said road. You can map out and mark locations likely to suffer landslides, flooding and so on. But if you are home you are home and if you are leaving home there needs to be a major reason why...

Civil Unrest:
This is the bitch issue, asshole breaking stuff and robbing people. Looting is a criminal act of stealing things you don't need to own or sale for profit via breaking and entering. Savaging is taking things you need via theft because it's an emergency. Both are illegal and both can get you killed. When the police are arresting people and breaking up riots they don't care what you are doing, if it look illegal, it's illegal. If you are breaking down my shop door, I don't care if your daughter is dying from a bad asthma attack or your trying to get a free TV. I'm going to shoot you if not shoot at you...

This is where people skills and de-escalation are handy for dealing with people & why I teach it in my Street Focus Jujitsu course. Now lets talk the major issue, civil unrest brings the authorities to re-establish order. You don't want to be on the road when this happens and you could have no other choice. If possible get away from the conflict zone and wait it out in your car. If you are forced to evacuate an area under civil breakdown or, just drive through Detroit, its best to travel in the day where you can see a threat a long ways off and be armed.

I remember reading a person's account of evacuating during Katrina. The truck ran out of gas in bumper to bumper traffic on the interstate that was going at a snails pace. As one person began filling the truck from a gas can, other people started demanding gas for themselves. Well three younger men were going to take the gas, until the older gentle man in the truck brandished his handgun. Imagine the effect of those three attacking other drivers and looting their vehicle. It would have spark additional unrest and violence in an already heated situation with people's emotions running high.

These are the three main scenarios for a SHTF event and that is leaving out terrorism or other massive breakdown events. The focus is travel in an event of emergency and dealing with possible risks.

Summer Travel and Winter Travel:
Not every crisis will occur during the summer or in warmer weather. So you need to have certain gear for winter travel when bugging out in colder weather. Colder weather brings a whole catagory of risk few preppers are really prepared to face. This is especially true of travel

Travelling during SHTF:
The basic focus has been in evaluating the situation and various methods. Its important to know the difference between a survival tactic and survival strategy. This is basically the difference between a tactic and strategy. Strategies are a series of overlapping plans that direct one to reach the ultimate plan, tactics are pre-planned responses to an event. You need a plan a strategy but, you also need to know some basic tactics to make that strategy work.

I hope you never need this information and that if you do, this blog as been of some help. I'd also like to think Prepper's Will for the inspiration to write this blog. Be safe everyone and thank you all for helping this blog reach 30,000 viewers.

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