I’ve been feeling guilt, since I haven’t been posting regularly, trying to complete final edits on the ebook. So, a morsel of mental training for you.
“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”
I see a lot of guys respond to suggestions to do more PT or other training with the idea that “Training is too hard. I’ll just sit on my hill and die.”
Like Julius Ceasar, I think that’s a coward’s approach. Take it how you will.
Apologies are due for anyone who’s been emailing and not gotten a rapid response. We’ve been having internet connectivity issues, and have been busier than a gang of one-legged men in ass kicking contests. Final revisions on the ebook are almost done, which should get me a chance to get back to working on new content for the blog. Once the ebook goes out to pre-purchases on 2DEC13, there will be no more versions of the ebook available. Instead, on 3DEC, I will start accepting orders for the hard copy, to be released on 1JAN14.
If you are interested in the Mississippi class in January, HH6 needs to know ASAP. Deposits are due by the end of the month. We’ve only received two so far, which means it looks like the class is going to be a no-go, because even I can’t pull that off. There are also still a few slots in the AZ class in February available, although I know the host has several of those accounted for amongst his own network.
Successful personnel recovery (PR), or to use the older, more familiar term, escape-and-evasion (E&E), requires effective training, as well as extensive planning and preparation. While we’ve previously discussed, in some depth on this blog, the planning and preparation requirements for PR, what we’ve not spent much time on are the fundamental, specific tasks requirements of the evader himself, in order to provide the greatest possibility of successful evasion of hostile pursuit and search. Whether you foresee yourself functioning as part of an active insurgency against an oppressive regime, or are simply planning on “bugging out” when TSHTF, the same skills are absolute requirements for success and survival.
To begin with, it is crucial to preface this discussion with the recognition that this will focus predominantly on the rural/wilderness evader, rather than on urban-based evasion. There is a simple reason for this: while urban evasion is obviously crucial, in the long-term, urban evasion is unsustainable without heavy previous investment in the development of human terrain and physical infrastructure in evasion networks. The individual tradecraft skills of the evader, while still crucial, are ultimately less critical than ready access to a well-developed system of local guides, safe houses, and network contacts capable of producing or procuring effective cover identity documents. Further, in the short-term, while some of the specific details of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) differ for urban-based evasion, the fundamental principles that underlie those TTPs remain the same in an urban environment as they are in a rural/wilderness evasion. Without the developed resistance infrastructure of a functioning underground, in place, your only hope for successful urban evasion of pursuit is to get out of the city and to a new, safer location.
E&E training in the US military and paramilitary cultures has traditionally focused in large part (although certainly not entirely), on what are fundamentally very elementary bushcraft skills such as fire-building, shelter construction, and building traps and snares for food procurement. Whiles these are not useless skills, for either survival or simply being a well-rounded human being, if you, as a “prepper,” lack these skills, you are woefully behind the power curve in your preparations (but I bet you have lots of guns and ammunition and food storage, don’t you?), and you should have been a Boy Scout. E&E training, to be functionally useful needs to focus less on bushcraft, and more on fieldcraft. That fieldcraft is the individual application of fundamental, basic light infantry skills.
Planning: First of all, of course, is the ancient law, the 7Ps: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. While it is often overlooked completely, or at best, given lip service during the planning of conventional force operations, the development of a solid, well-thought out Evasion Plan-of-Action (EPA), is absolutely crucial to irregular force planning in order to maximize the chance of survival for your most valuable assets–your people. Whether you are planning an ambush, a security patrol, or a bug-out to escape the city in a time of unrest, you need to have a well-developed EPA.
Land Navigation: The ability to determine your location, the location of your destination, and then to move successfully from point A to point B is of obvious importance to evasion. An inability to effectively navigate will result in evaders stumbling around lost and confused, until they end up either stumbling into pursuers on accident, or get tired, cold, and scared enough that they voluntarily search out their pursuers because “anything is better than being lost in the big, dark, scary woods!” Critical land navigation tasks include:
Map Reading: You need to be able to look at a topographical map and read it like a book. Do you know what the different signs and symbols on the map represent? Yes, they are located on the map key. Do you know where that is located on the map? You need to be able to determine what the contour intervals are on the map you have. Is it 40 feet or 20 feet, or something different? Can you recognize and identify terrain features such as cliffs, ridges, fingers, draws, and valleys on a topographical map, based on the representation of contour line relationships? Can you measure distance on a map, using straight line or road distances? Do you know how to account for the margin of error when measuring distances on the map? Can you orient the map to the ground by associating the features represented on the map with the terrain you see around you?
Compass Work: Compasses are easy, right? The needle always points North. Right? Do you know the difference between True North and Magnetic North? Do you know what an agonic line is and how that affects your compass readings where you are? Did you know that magnetic declination changes, so the topo map you have, that was photographed and produced in 1983 has the WRONG magnetic declination? Can you adjust for declination, in order to orient your map correctly, to help you start figuring out where you are? Terrain association works really well….unless there’s no terrain features readily visible (seriously! Where I live, I don’t really need a compass most of the time, because the terrain is so steep and varied, that I can almost always terrain associate with ease. Try that shit in the pine woods back east though and you’ll never even get started). Worse, trying to terrain associate a map in the dark of night can be a little bit troublesome. Can you use your compass and map to determine a magnetic azimuth to follow for moving from point A to point B?
Here’s the rub with map-and-compass work: If you’ve never had any training in the use of these two tools, from someone who has not only training but lots of real-world field experience using a map-and-compass extensively, to bush whack off trail, I can guarantee, with 100% certainty of being right, you have no clue what you’re doing with these tools. Reading a book just doesn’t cut it. Sure, Kjellstrom’s Be An Expert With Map and Compass will help you understand the theory of what you’re learning in meat space, but until you get out there and actually learn to do it properly, YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU ARE DOING!
Route Selection: While land navigation obviously involves a modicum of expertise with map and compass, an oft-overlooked aspect of tactical land navigation that is of equal importance, if not greater importance, is your ability to select a movement route that provides maximum tactical advantage to you as an evader. This ability, of course, requires a thorough understanding of terrain analysis on the map and on the ground, through a practical comprehension of METT-TC and OCOKA.
Route selection for the evader needs to take maximum advantage of any available cover and concealment both during movement and for laying-up in hide sites for rest. You need to consider concealment not just from ground-mobile threats, but also from aerial observation and engagement in some situations. You need to be able to select a route and then adhere to that route, that makes active pursuit and tracking either impossible, or prohibitively difficult. Yes, that means you’ll probably need to be in good physical condition (don’t bother with machismo-laden bravado-infused comments about how you’re too old to bother running, but you’ll sell your life dearly…number one, I just don’t give a shit about your braggadocio, and number two, eating a mortar round or a belt of 7.62×51 from a M240, after shooting one dude with your rifle doesn’t constitute selling your blood “dearly.“).
Move Tactically: We’ve previously discussed the individual skills required to move tactically with stealth for the guerrilla, and need not belabor the point here. Recognize however that while being able to run like a raped ape for a couple of miles, even with your rucksack and LBE on might be critical, and is something you should be capable of, slow and steady, when you’re trying to evade pursuit ultimately really does win the race. Moving slow and cautiously, whenever possible (like anytime you don’t have pursuers breathing down your neck as they’re tugging at the back of your belt) increases the chances that you can avoid doing something stupid to indicate your presence and location to the pursuit forces, and allows you to implement counter-tracking measures to slow down that pursuit as well (I’m not any sort of a professional man-tracker. On a good day, I MIGHT be able to track a muddy dog through a hospital operating room. I do know it’s damned near impossible to completely foil a dedicated tactical tracking team that knows what they are doing. All we’re hoping for is to keep them busy enough looking for our sign and spoor that they don’t have much time to actually follow it…).
Camouflage and Concealment: Camouflage and concealment from observation is a critical aspect of tactical movement to avoid compromise and capture. Like the other basic infantry tasks we’ve previously discussed, this one should need no real introduction.
Select and Occupy a Hide Site: You’re going to have to stop and rest eventually. Whether you are capable of moving steady and safely for one day, two days, or five days, eventually, if you don’t rest, you’ll make stupid mistakes, like walking into a well-prepared ambush. However, especially in a solo evasion scenario, going to sleep violates the third principle of patrolling, “security,” doesn’t it? Only if you lack the ability to select and occupy a well-chosen hide site effectively. A hide site needs to be, first and foremost, hidden. It needs to be in a place that no pursuers are likely to accidentally trip into while searching for you. It needs to provide some way of forewarning you of the approach of pursuers. It needs to provide multiple egress routes, in case pursuers do get close enough that you are flushed out. Finally, if all else fails, it needs to provide you with adequate protection to allow you to fight and repel pursuit until you can effect an escape (not likely, but hell, where’s the harm in trying, right?).
Equipment Considerations: There is a lot of interest in building “survival kits” and “bug-out bags.” There’s no harm in that. What does appall me is the preponderance of otherwise sensible people who invest a lot of time and effort into building the silly little Altoids can based “survival kits” that then get thrown in their ruck with all of their other gear….all of their other gear that is specifically chosen to keep them alive in the field…(see what just happened there?) If you adopt the previously discussed SMOLES concept for packing your rucksack, as well as for developing your fighting load and first-line gear, there’s really no reason to have a “survival kit in a can.” That is, after all, the reason for the three-echelon packing concept. If you’ve got your ruck and fighting load with you, then you should have the ability, equipment-wise anyway, to survive indefinitely. If you have to dump your ruck (which if you have it on when things go haywire, you shouldn’t have to except in very limited cases–or you’re a fat ass who doesn’t do effective PT and so you can’t carry the goddamn thing), or your EPA kicks in when you don’t have your ruck on, such as it sitting in an Objective Rally Point (ORP) when a raid or ambush goes to hell on your, you still have your fighting load and first-line gear on. If that was developed with SMOLES in mind, you probably won’t be as comfortable as you would be with your ruck on, but you should still be able to survive. If for some reason you have to dump your fighting load, then you’ve still got a full SMOLES load-out in your first line gear, and that should only get dumped if the pursuers are doing it by dumping your pockets after they’ve killed or captured you.
Evasion planning and training is a critical skill set in irregular/guerrilla warfare. Unfortunately, in American tradition, we tend to focus more on the easy to do bush craft aspects of it. Those are easy to practice in your backyard, or at the park, and require little or no real physical effort to learn and practice. The real, important aspects of evasion training however: being fit enough to go miles every day, day-after-day-after-day, on little sleep and rest, and less food, while thinking clearly enough to select good routes, and utilize a map-and-compass for land navigation to get your where you need to go; those require actual commitment to train and practice. Not learning and practicing them however, will result in an inability to escape and evade capture. Whether it’s regime security forces you’re fleeing, or a horde of cannibalistic San Franciscans, when the time comes to nut up and run, you’d better have the necessary skills and abilities. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up in the hot water, one way or another…
(The MSG emailed me with info about this article he posted on his site, and asked if I wanted to post it over here. Obviously, my response was a resounding yes….–JM)
This article deals with another aspect of the communicate portion of the often used term “SHOOT, MOVE, and COMMUNICATE.” While most of us tend to use that term in reference to the three most important requirements while engaged in a fire fight, or as my Team Daddy used to call it “Hookin’ and Jabbin with the bad guys” (he was inclined to sudden, exceptional levels of violence on the personal level), the term has a much broader connotation.
The word “communicate” has relevance in all aspects of planning and execution of tactical operations. You must effectively communicate with all members of your organization while planning and during the execution of an operation. The communication aspect impacts all members of your organization; whether it is the folks manning the base station radio back at home, the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) you’ve established to deal with emergencies both inside and outside of your retreat, the folks manning perimeter positions around your retreat, LP/OP personnel providing early warning outside “the wire” or members of an active R & S (Recon and Surveillance) Patrol that should be constantly working your AO and AI. As an aside; If you don’t know the difference between an AO and AI go over to Guerrilla America.com. Sam has written a good article regarding both.
SOI is the acronym used by the U.S. Army for it’s code book of communication instructions. I call it a code book because, when developed and used properly, it provides those operating in a tactical environment the ability to communicate in a relatively secure manner. It has the added advantages of decreasing radio on-air time and minimizes most types of communication confusion and errors.
This is the example SOI we will be working with:
SOI 1 in effect 0500Z26OCT13 until 0500Z27OCT13
1. Organization call signs:
1SL 11, 21 or 31
2SL 21, 22 or 32
3SL 31, 32 or 33
2. R&S to Base communications:
Primary: Radio 1 primary 144.250MHz alternate 223.750MHz
Alternate: Radio 2 primary 151.820 MHz alternate 154.600Mhz
Contingency: Pin Flares IAW SOP
Emergency: Visual Signal-17 Panel IAW SOP
Guard: Radio 2 151.940MHz
3. Inter patrol communications:
Pri: Hand and arm signals per SOP
Alt: Radio 2 primary 151.880MHz alternate 154.600MHz
Con: Voice commands
Emr: Whistle per SOP
4. Telephone Circuit:
Location C/S Wire Tag
North Bunker Bunker 1 Blue
West Bunker Bunker 2 Red
North LP/OP LP1 Green
East LP/OP LP2 Yellow
Base shall make a net call with all occupied positions every half hour. Net call failure by any occupied position will initiate the QRF to that location.
5. Visual signals: as indicated
6. Recognition signals:
Pri: VS-17 Panels – 1 Orange 1 Magenta
Alt: Blue Smoke
Con: 2 red pin flares 30 seconds apart
Emg: sign / countersign
Pri: Red lens flashlight – 3 flashes.
Alt: 2 red pin flares
Con: 3 whistle blasts
Emg: letter number combination
QRF response to occupied positions:
Primary: Field Phone
Alternate: Radio on guard frequency
Contingency: 3 blasts on air horn
7. Challenge and password: Linebacker/Screwdriver
Running password: Indian
Number combination: 13
8. Authentication word:
A N G L E R F I S H
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
The SOI consolidates all signal information that is pertinent to an operation into a single master document. The SOI can contain the items in the following list. If you don’t have a need for a portion, leave it out.
1. Handling instructions: who gets what portions, the time periods it is good for, destruction procedures, etc.
2. Index: if the document is lengthy.
3. Radio call signs and frequencies: to id users and keep everyone on the same sheet of music.
4. Field telephone instructions and wire tagging system: telephone protocol, wire tagging if you have multiple lines coming back to a switchboard.
5. Visual Signals: pyrotechnic, smoke and panels.
6. Sound signals: whistles, sirens, horns: car, truck, and air horns, shots, blasts etc.
7. Signs/countersigns: to challenge unrecognized personnel
8. Transmission security instructions.
9. Key list: encryption key information for communication devices.
10. Operations code.
11. Authentication instructions: to challenge unknown radio operators
12. Transmission authentication tables.
Security: Portions of the SOI are then extracted and issued to those personnel that have a need. Maybe that’s where the term “need to know” comes from. For instance, the folks operating the base radio don’t need to know the running password for the day. That would be of use only to your perimeter guards, LP/OP and patrol members outside the wire. The perimeter guards and LP/OP that are manning field phones don’t have a reason to know the inter-team radio freqs that the R & S team are on. This keeps the ability for SOI information to be compromised to a minimum.
The current SOI time period is normally good for 24 hours. If you suspect it has been compromised in any way, destroy all copies and issue a new document. Deployed elements (patrols) should always have a memorized, emergency (guard) freq and password, in the event the SOI has been compromised while they are deployed and no method is available to get an updated version to them. If you really want to get high speed-low drag, each patrol should also have a verbal duress code memorized to indicate that they have been snagged and are being forced to make radio comms or forced to re-enter friendly lines (your perimeter), with bad guys in tow.
We will now discuss the simplified, conventional company sized SOI shown above. I use the term simplified because you can really get lost in the weeds if you have to designate every swinging dick in the unit with their own call sign suffix. You can tailor it to fit your needs.
Effective Time Period of the SOI. The time period that this SOI will be used from start to finish, usually listed as a date time group. The date time group is listed in Zulu time to allow coordination with other units and services. Local time is fine for our needs. At the end of the time period all data in the SOI will change; c/s , c/s suffixes, freqs, authentication word……..everything changes.
Call signs. Normally used in a radio net to identify the unit and entities within the unit. The basic format is alpha/number/alpha, ie: R5T (Romeo Five Tango) and is randomly chosen. In the Army, the basic call sign represents the unit, which for our purposes is the company. Suffixes to the call sign such as R5T 31 designate positions within the company.
Suffixes. If you are talking to the radio operator for the company he will use the company call sign, which in this case is R5T. If you were talking to the Co Cdr the call sign would be R5T6. The Co Cdr’s suffix is always 6.
When talking to the 1st Platoon Leader (1PL) and other companies are on the net, his full call sign is R5T1. If you are talking on the company net it can be abbreviated to T1.
When talking to the First Squad Leader (1SL) from 1st Platoon his full call sign is R5T11 or 11 on the company net. Third Squad Leader (3SL) from 2nd platoon would be R5T23 or 23 on the company net.
At fire team level you would add the suffix ‘A” or “B” to the 2 digit squad c/s. 32A would be 3rd platoon, 2nd squad, team A.
Since most of us will not be operating in company sized elements within battalion sized elements, you will most likely scale down the scope of your SOI. If, for instance, you are operating out of a fixed base with two small R & S teams working your AI, you can designate the base as the main three character callsign with 2 suffix callsigns for the teams. I will cover the construction of an SOI utilizing a different, random number structure in a future post.
Frequencies. Next we list all radio frequencies or channels if pre-programmed. Be sure to list a primary and an alternate frequency for each type of radio used. Try to separate the freqs as far as possible in case of jamming or heavy use on the primary so that you can attempt comms on the alternate. Also note the use of the acronym PACE to denote the four levels of communication; Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency.
Challenge and Password. For sentry use when unknown personnel are attempting to enter friendly lines.
Running password. Used when being pursued and required to re-enter lines on the run. The password is usually shouted when approaching the perimeter. Along the same line is the number combination password. In this case the number is 13. The challenge would be any number of lesser value such as 7 and the response is the number that when added to the challenge, in this case 6, would equal the password, 13.
The authentication word is a ten character word that contains no repeating letters. It is used to authenticate (validate) that someone on the other end of the communications is who they say they are. Use it only if you don’t recognize the voice on the other end. When challenged with a letter, you would respond with the following letter and the number directly below or some other combination previously agreed upon. Using our example, when asked “Call sign, this is call sign, authenticate Romeo, over”, you would respond with “call sign this is call sign, I authenticate Foxtrot Seven, Over”.
It should be apparent by now that learning to use the phonetic alphabet is pretty important. Take the time to memorize it, it can’t be that hard, every private in the Army is required to during basic training.
In a future article I will cover basic radio procedure and the creation and utilization of brevity codes that can be used to speed communications and make them more secure.
After developing a modified 4-day class for the Mississippi class in January, I came to the realization that the four-day format, which includes some of the training in combat rifle, is a far more practical one for the teaching of the small unit patrolling class. It provides ample time to go into more detail on some areas, as well as providing necessary precursor training in some aspects of combat rifle craft that a lot of people within the preparedness and Liberty community are missing, even when they are unaware of the shortcomings. As such, although I will still offer a 3-day rifle class, my patrolling class is now a four-day class, except for private groups, who specifically request the three-day format, and can provide evidence of competent rifle handling in all participants.
I recognize the difficulties that this may cause for some participants, and I apologize in advance. HH6 and I are working on some other ideas that would allow us to offer additional ways for people to get the training, whether rifle or patrolling (like discounted costs of training for spouses, similar to what we already offer for youth), and if we believe we can make those work, they will be announced forthwith. In the meantime:
4-Day Small-Unit Patrolling Class
Central Arizona (vicinity of Prescott)
21-24 February 2014 (Friday-Monday)
At the request of the host of the recent Arizona classes, as well as all of the participants, we will be returning to Arizona in February to offer the four-day patrolling class.
Additionally, also at the request of the host, at the end of this class, I will offer my one-day (10-12 hours) “Auxiliary and Support Functions” class. For participants in the patrolling class, the cost of this class is $75. For non-participants, who are interested in just attending this course lecture, the cost will be $125.
Deposits for either/both classes will be due no later than 15 JAN 2014, with the remaining balance due no later than 15 FEB 2014 (important note…when I say a deposit or balance is due no later than a given date, that does not mean it should fucking be mailed out on that date! That means I need to leave for the trip on that day or the day after, and we need to make sure we have the funds to make the trip and return trip, before I leave…..).
The concept of using vehicle-based movement for tactical operations such as security patrolling holds great appeal to many people, and with good reasons–sometimes METT-TC considerations mean that vehicles offer a number of significant advantages over foot-mobile patrolling. The ability to carry more gear and supplies, allowing for longer duration operations is an obvious and often voiced one, although if a foot-mobile patrol is well-supported by an established system of dispersed caches and safe houses, this is largely an academic advantage, at best, unless the local terrain, such as on the Great Plains or the deserts of the West, means that even a well-developed cache and safe house network will require very widely scattered locations.
The ability to cover more distance in less time, and the apparently reduced fitness demands of vehicle-based travel are two other factors that, at first glance, seem to favor the use of vehicle-centric patrolling operations. The first of these has important corollary drawbacks all its own, and the second is simply not as valid as it first seems, despite the best fantasies of some. The appearance of normality under observation, versus groups of armed men moving on foot, is also not as secure as it first seems, although it is arguably the most valid of the factors supporting the use of vehicle-based patrolling for small unit irregular warfare.
The obvious drawbacks to vehicle-based patrolling, some in direct contravention of the apparent benefits, are at least as numerous and importance as the factors in its favor, and many of these drawbacks are synergistic, leading to exponentially increasing drawbacks to these operations. Number one is the most obvious, from the guerrilla warfare factor: the limitations of even the hardiest off-road vehicles means a mounted patrol cannot possibly hope to cover all the places that a foot-mobile patrol can go. This leads to two very obvious means to overcome this drawback. Either those places don’t get covered by security patrols, leaving wide gaps in the security envelope as potential infiltration routes (which means people like me get to sneak in your back door…hardly a sound solution from a security standpoint), or the mounted patrol has to dismount at some point anyway, meaning that the perceived fitness benefits of “I’m a fat fuck and don’t want to walk,” are largely irrelevant in the long term.
Another drawback to vehicle-based patrolling is related to this occasional need to dismount anyway…It is far more difficult to effectively conceal the vehicles needed to move even 6-8 guys around on a patrol than it is to conceal the personnel themselves and their rucksacks. Finally, the ability to travel fast, quickly covering country leads to the propensity for even well-trained observers to get lazy, careless, and sloppy, as they blow down roads and trails, instead of actually making the effort to look for the trees that comprise the forest, and thus see infiltrators.
These drawbacks and considerations are not intended to convey the impression that there is no application of vehicle-based patrolling options for the local security force/guerrilla element. On the contrary, while they are far more limited than contemporary conventional force military operations and the imaginations of many 4GW gurus would seem to indicate, applications do exist, and taking advantage of those applications can provide a decided force multiplier to your efforts.
Differences from Foot-Mobile Patrolling
While the same general principles and concepts that impact foot-mobile patrolling play a role in vehicle-mounted operations, the specific application of those will–obviously–be significantly different. These differences will require specific training, practice, and rehearsal in order to master, and then to maintain proficiency. For recent combat veterans even, the TTPs learned in up-armored HMMWVs, MATVs, MRAPs, and Strykers (or for us old dudes, M113s and Bradley IFVs), don’t work so well for the soft-skinned vehicles that we are all generally limited to nowadays (If you own a Stryker, MATV, MRAP, or even an up-armored HWMMV, email me. I’ve got an awesome relocation package to discuss with you….You know you want me for a neighbor, right?), since we generally lack even “Hajji Armor” and gun turrets (a “technical” in the form of a Toyota pick-up or SUV, with a gun mount added to the bed, does not count as a gun turret in this case, just FYI, although there are definitely applications of that as well). Trying to up-armor your personal vehicle, even in a grid-down environment raises a host of logistical and other concerns, most of which are outside the scope of this article, but which include unanticipated (by the engineers who designed the vehicle) demands on the suspension, transmission, and power train of the vehicle. The sad fact is, with very limited exceptions, the idea that you’re going to add plate steel to your rig to make it “bulletproof” or armored, against anything beyond maybe a .22LR is fucking retarded.
The issues that will ultimately affect your decision of whether or not to use vehicle patrols as part of your operational envelope revolve around many of the same METT-TC considerations that a SFODA has to consider in determining what means of infiltration to use in moving into a hostile-controlled, denied area of UW missions:
Mission: The specific mission you are planning is always your first consideration. A requirement for speed, such as acting as a QRF for security force elements conducting foot-mobile security patrols, or other members of your network within the area complex, who find themselves decisively engaged by hostiles, may mitigate other risk factors, making the use of vehicles the only logical solution to the tactical problem. Conducting an ambush of a large hostile force, moving along roadways only, towards your area complex where the need to move a large number of untrained, or only slightly trained, personnel, including many without the physical ability to conduct foot movements, may require or allow the use of vehicles to move personnel to the Objective Rally Point (ORP), close to the planned ambush site, as long as the route has been previously secured.
Enemy Situation: The enemy situation, and your control or lack of control over the area to be traversed, through aggressive patrolling and/or auxiliary “sentinels,” as part of the outer security zone intelligence/defense network will play a factor. The enemy’s technological strengths and abilities, such as a known or suspected ability to procure or manufacture anti-vehicle munitions is also a critical factor to consider.
Weather: Adverse weather might favor a foot-mobile or vehicle-mounted approach. While deep snow and extreme cold here in the Northern Rockies would seem to favor a vehicle-based approach in the winter, the chance of ending up roof down, in the bottom of a canyon, or the roads being drifted over with blowing snow, might actually favor the alternative, despite the discomfort. The same factors might apply to heavy rains or high winds elsewhere, as well as the heat and unrelenting sun in the southwestern deserts. I’ve had more than one vehicle shit the bed, in the middle of nowhere, from overheating on a summer day in the desert.
Topography: Terrain and vegetation must be considered in deciding the means of travel. Steep, rough, broken country, while harder to walk in, will probably require foot-mobile operations, or at least horseback mounted, rather than vehicle or ATV mounted, due to the scarcity of roads and trails, and the resultant broad areas that would otherwise remain unobserved by your security forces, or remain inaccessible to your operations. In wide open areas however, such as most of Kansas and eastern Colorado, as obvious examples, as long as the members of the patrol are intimately familiar with the local terrain, including the locations of concealed avenues of approach and likely hide site possibilities–and remembers to check them frequently–vehicle-mounted security patrolling might remain the only realistically viable option, simply due to the time and distance issues in these types of environments.
Equipment/Vehicles/Material Supplies Availability: Do you have an adequate minimum number of vehicles available to conduct an effective vehicle-mounted patrol? “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” certainly applies here. Even if I just have four guys available to do the patrol, I want to split them between two vehicles, so I have an overwatch element at all times. Do you have spare mounted tires? Extra common preventive and corrective maintenance parts, ranging from belts and plugs to what-the-fuck-ever your particular vehicle is likely to have shit the bed in the middle of an operation? Do you have adequate fuel for the vehicles, as well as a means to carry extra fuel for emergency contingency planning? Is the fuel still in a usable state, or is it going to gum up and destroy the engines?
Mounted operations are, of course, actually a rather specialized aspect of small-unit operations, as even this brief synopsis illustrates. We will return to discussions on mounted operations in the ensuing weeks, with specifics on vehicle set-up, battle drills with soft-skinned vehicles (as opposed to a battle drill from an armored vehicles), and other considerations.