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General Defensive Considerations for Guerrilla Base Areas

September 8, 2012
(Originally published on the old site, March 2012–J.M.)
Resistance/insurgent operations should be inherently offensive in nature. Defensive operations by guerrilla forces should be the exception that proves the rule. Whether the goal of such an operation is to protect the personnel and physical infrastructure of a widely dispersed guerrilla base in the mountains, a rural farming community that provides foodstuffs for the logistical support of the resistance, or an individual survival retreat homestead, the old cliche that the best defense is a good offense holds true.
Nevertheless, defensive protective operations may be critical to support and/or facilitate further offensive efforts, as well as to prevent enemy penetration of resistance-controlled territory and destruction of critical resistance support infrastructure. Defensive operations are conducted to resist, defeat, or destroy an enemy assault only in order to facilitate follow-on offensive actions. Otherwise, the resistance element should always choose to evade contact with an attacking enemy force, choosing to fight on their own terms instead.
There are fundamentally three types of defensive strategy (five if you refer to current conventional doctrine): strongpoint, perimeter, and area defenses. Because, at least initially, most resistance elements will lack supporting fires arms such as artillery, anti-armor weapons, and crew-served weapons (I am well aware of the fact that there are groups around who possess any combination of these armaments cached away in preparation for the coming difficulties, the fact is most of us do not –J.M.), they must strive to avoid prolonged positional defensive operations as much as possible. Defensive operations by resistance forces should possess the goal of not only withstanding a regime attack, but also of setting the stage for, and transitioning to, the counterattack phase (a critical reality that is too often overlooked by the “let’s build a bunker” crowd). This rules out the strongpoint defense for protecting a guerrilla base. In fact, the only application the strongpoint and perimeter defenses have in the UW paradigm for the American Resistance is in home and homestead defense during the initial stages of conflict, and for non-guerrilla elements of the resistance, such as the subversive underground and members of the auxiliary who find themselves, of necessity, continuing to function as part of “normal” society, despite the presence of “peacekeepers” in the streets (this specifically has been brought up several times in recent classes/clinics, and I will address it below), and stormtroopers kicking in doors. The guerrilla base, and other infrastructure of the resistance, in resistance-controlled territory, must, to have any honest chance of success, rely on the area defense strategy.
While by definition, a defensive operation will generally possess a fixed focal point as its centerpiece, the resistance/guerrilla force must modify the characteristics and principles of conventional force defensive operational doctrine to meet their specific needs and capabilities. They must recognize their inherent limitations and select their guerrilla base/community/retreat location based on the ability to leverage the surrounding defensible terrain as a force multiplier (use of the terrain to deny or restrict regime force use of armor and/or motorized/airborne delivery of assault elements and logistical re-supply support).
In its initial stages, the guerrilla base is generally established as a temporary, highly mobile encampment that has its ease of dispersement as its greatest defensive attribute. In the event of impending regime attack, the personnel simply scatter and later re-consolidate in another location to resume operations. In the case of established communities and retreat homesteads however, as well as more established, semi-permanent guerrilla bases with a more developed infrastructure, the guerrilla force finds itself with a defensible strongpoint that forms the nexus of a coordinated, planned defensive operation.
From the beginning of such an establishment, with initial perimeter defensive plans, all defensive operations should be planned and coordinated using every asset available to the guerrilla force in a synchronized, layered defense-in-depth. Planning considerations that must be accounted for in the guerrilla defense include planning for a 360-degree perimeter in a generally non-contiguous environment (rural alpine environments, urban enclaves, and swamp/jungle environments all present this challenge in varying degrees); likely, probable, and possible avenues of enemy approach, both mounted and dismounted; the economization of force along the more unlikely avenues of enemy approach (the razorback ridge that shoots 14000 feet above surrounding terrain with sheer cliffs on both sides is not a likely avenue of enemy approach…but trust me on this–don’t completely write it off! –J.M.); the impact of regime air and indirect fire assets on the defensive plan; and the employment of resistance members with engineering/construction/demolition backgrounds to increase survivability and protection by constructing reinforced fighting positions as well as channelizing obstacles along enemy avenues of approach.
During the establishment of defensive plans by resistance forces, there are various relevant priority-of-work aspects that must be considered and implemented. These include the careful selection of LP/OPs for emplacement of key weapons systems to cover likely, probable, and possible enemy avenues of mounted and dismounted approach. This may also include the use of precision long-range small-arms, from basic sniper systems to long-range, heavy-caliber systems that can provide limited light vehicle interdiction (.50BMG, .338 Lapua, and .the new Chey-Tac systems) as well as the development, construction, and emplacement of both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle IED/land mines for route denial.
Further priority-of-work considerations will include ensuring that all positions have clear fields of fire to all areas of their respective sectors, including the use of loopholes, aiming stakes, sector stakes, and target reference points/range cards (weapons should be placed to maximize the available use of grazing fire for anti-personnel applications, with IEDs/mines and any available indirect fire weapons for coverage of dead-space that is not susceptible to direct-fire from small-arms).
It is critical that guerrilla force key leaders identify and secure all avenues of approach, no matter how unlikely. While the main effort should obviously focus on the likely avenues of approach that conventional force regime elements will doctrinally utilize, do not overlook the possibility of special operations capable elements “sneaking” in the back door through the least likely avenue of approach.
It is critical that the resistance have adequate supplies and munitions stockpiled within the defensible area of the strongpoint to ensure that they do not starve or run out of other critical supply classes before they are able to launch the requisite counterattack. These may include foodstuffs, potable water, ammunition and additional weapons, medical supplies, and fire-fighting equipment, among others.
In addition to key weapons systems placement for route interdiction/denial, key leaders should focus engineering and construction efforts on the utilization of natural obstacles (mountains, dense vegetation, streams, cliffs, draws, etc) and the implementation of man-made obstacles (fences, walls, roadblocks, wire, etc) to channelize enemy movement into those areas covered by the aforementioned key weapon systems. Whenever possible, man-made obstacles should be concealed or camouflaged, from enemy observation, as well as being erected in irregular patterns and in depth, and tied-in with existing natural obstacles.
Movement routes between key positions, LP/OPs, and the command post (CP) should be improved and marked, to facilitate movement during hours of limited or no visibility, and while under attack whether by direct-fire or indirect-fire regime assets. In alpine environments especially, this may mandate the construction/emplacement of special equipment such as rope bridges and anchors for climbing and/or descending.
LP/OPs will provide the bulk of the defensive security effort. As such, they must be numerous enough and well-sited enough to ensure that they provide observation of all avenues of approach. Proper placement of LP/OPs will ensure that while every LP/OP covers multiple avenues of approach, every avenue of approach is also observable from multiple LP/OPs, and that all LP/OPs provide adequate fields-of-fire to interdict enemy approach with small-arms direct-fire. LP/OPs should be in communications contact with supporting LP/OPs and the CP via wire-based communications methods primarily, as well as low-power, line-of-sight radio communications.
In addition to the use of LP/OPs for 360-degree perimeter security, the guerrilla force should utilize roving security patrols of small-unit elements at least fire team in size (at a minimum, a fire team should be comprised of two buddy teams). These patrols should be utilized as a projection of force effort beyond the range of the LP/OPs, as well as in any dead-space areas not readily observable from the LP/OPs. Security patrols should be conducted along key terrain that dominates likely avenues of approach. Do not allow security patrols to attempt to maneuver inside likely avenues of approach where they are extremely susceptible to ambush by regime patrols. The security patrol elements must be in contact with the LP/OPs, as well as the the CP, via low-power, line-of-sight radios. The use of these limited-transmission radios for communications will also help to ensure that patrol leaders keep their patrols up high on key, dominating terrain.
Command and Control Considerations
While all security elements of the guerrilla base defensive effort should be in coordinated communication with the CP, this is not intended to facilitate micro-management by key leaders. Instead, it is to allow those elements to provide critical information to the CP, and thus all other elements of the security effort. Instead, the individual element leader is responsible for his actions and the efforts of his element. It is not realistic to expect a “leader” safely ensconced in a sandbagged bunker somewhere, to effectively guide the efforts of a subordinate by looking at his maps. Instead, good leadership means proper prior training and subsequent trust in the subordinate to know how to perform his job properly.
Movement and Maneuver
The environments that are typically suitable and favorable for guerrilla resistance efforts, whether alpine, urban enclave, or swamp/jungle, all provide specific terrain considerations that play a major role in determining how a unit can move and maneuver in the attack or the defense. Movement corridors are often easily identifiable, and the very nature of the terrain that makes it favorable for the guerrilla base means that maneuver movement is severely restricted. Proper planning for the guerrilla defense includes planning for a terrain-centric defense rather than an enemy-oriented defense of a static position, in order to slow, disrupt, or stop an enemy attack long before he reaches the final assault line. It should also incorporate the use of primary, alternate, and tertiary, as well as subsequent positions that allow for ample massing of defensive fires on the canalized, restricted maneuver space available to the attacking force. Effective weapons positioning within the positions and key terrain features that provide adequate flanking fires on enemy avenues of approach, along with covered/protected movement routes between key fighting positions, allow the guerrilla defending force to appear as if they are effortlessly outmaneuvering the attacking regime force, even in severely restrictive terrain. These may include dug trenches between positions in alpine terrain, mouse holes blown in the connecting walls between buildings and debris-filled alleys in urban areas, and tunnels cut underground or through thick vegetation in jungle/swamp environments.
Considerations of the Strongpoint and Perimeter Defense Strategies for Home and Homestead Defense
I am not an expert in criminal assault paradigms. I know fuck-all about the criminal underworld as a sub-culture. I’ve been around outlaw bikers, gangbangers, and white supremacists, but never by choice. While I have a large number of LEOs whom I consider “friends,” (I don’t have “cop friends.” I have friends who happen to be cops, and everyone of them has heard me say, to their face, that no one is capable of being successful as a cop in today’s world, without violating their oath. I just expect them to try harder.) I’ve never been a cop, have no interest in being a cop, and don’t hang out with cops. So, while I do know quite a bit about reinforcing and defending a strongpoint, keep the above and the following facts in mind…
Number one, consider the reality that what will protect your family and home from being broken into a rampaged/ransacked by a lone meth-head “tweaker” looking to steal Granny’s heirloom silver flatware in order to finance his habit is not going to suffice to protect you against a coordinated effort by the local DHS office’s tactical team, driven to your front door in a fucking Stryker, while ensconced in Level Four ceramic ballistic plates.
Number two, remember, if it gets to the point where you find yourself defending against multiple enemy personnel, all utilizing select-fire weapons, with armor support, and all in body-armor, you might kill one or some, and wound several others, but you’re not going to WIN and SURVIVE all by your lonesome, and the team you’re going to need isn’t going to be comprised of just you and the missus. That thinking is so far beyond delusional that it’s fucking stupid. If you don’t have a crew/team/tribe of friends that you can call, at Zero-Oh-My-God-Do-You-Know-What-Fucking-Time-It-Is-Thirty, and tell them to get to your place with shovels and a bag of lime, and trust that they WILL show up, no questions asked, then your only successful “defense” is going to be a fool-proof escape-and-evasion plan that lets you slip away through an established cordon of enemy security, while the entry team is stacking on the front porch.
Those things having been said, here are my recommendations…
  1. Establish realistic, effective perimeter security. Don’t live in a suburban neighborhood where your perimeter will, of necessity, be within yards, if not feet of your front and back door. That leaves no maneuver room for you to break the cordon and escape. If you must live in a suburban neighborhood, you better make sure you have a metric shit-ton of the above mentioned “shovel-and-lime” friends on your street to help back you up when the two-way range gets hot. By perimeter security, I am referring to some form of deterrent devices (before hostilities are openly hot, IEDs/booby traps MIGHT be overkill, although I’d certainly be the last person to tell you not to emplace them, as long as the risk of injury or death to neighborhood kids isn’t a consideration you need to make) and, more importantly, early warning devices to provide you adequate warning to get out before the AFVs get to your front door. It is not unrealistic to plan for and construct, fences that will stop unarmored and light armored vehicles that will not make your place look like it belongs in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Surplus drill casings, set deep in concrete (like 6-10 feet deep, not 6-10 inches deep, just to clarify what I mean) then filled with more concrete, as fenceposts, with the horizontal runs constructed of welded and bolted drill pipe (not drill rod) will not stop an Abrams tank, but it’ll damned sure stop a LAV, and at a bare minimum would seriously slow down a Stryker. Anti-tank ditches dug just outside the perimeter of the fenceline would be extremely time-consuming to costruct, even with ready access to heavy equipment, but not impossible. Additionally, the majority of people casually passing by would not recognize them for what they are. Hell, most non-armor MOS military vets and LEOs would not recognize them for what they are…until they try to cross them in a vehicle. In essence, utilize natural and man-made obstacles to channelize any vehicle traffic to where YOU want them to go.
    Establish a method to prevent foot-mobile personnel from accessing the property as well, or at least deterring them. Concertina wire can still be purchased on the surplus market, although the prices are certainly not what they once were. Placed in likely avenues of approach for foot-mobile insertions, they will slow down any advance. If you cannot access concertina wire, or are not comfortable with the ramifications of such overtly “paramilitary” obstacles on your property, string five-strand barbed wire fences, and then emplace tanglefoot barbed-wire inside of that several meters away. “Overwatch” any such obstacles with motion-sensor activated halogen lights, powered by independent solar cells. Make sure it is all well-camouflaged and concealed. The idea is that the lights coming on is a surprise to the dumbshit trying to breach your wire obstacles.
    If things have really gotten hot, anti-personnel IEDs and/or fougasse emplacements are even better than the lights, since it not only alerts you of their presence, but may relieve you of their presence simultaneously.
  2. Have an escape route pre-planned. Ensure that it is a covered and/or concealed route. Keep in mind the reality that the enemy may have access to and will use, thermal imaging devices and NODs, so don’t rely on darkness to conceal you. Have go-bags ready to GO, and practice escape drills regularly, with all affected personnel/family members. Don’t plan them. Just pull them out of your ass, when the missus and the kids least expect them. If your wife can’t stop curling her hair long enough to grab a bag and run, you’ve got more serious issues to deal with than developing an escape-and-evade plan for the family. Don’t expect to sit out a siege and survive. If you think that will work, I suggest you sit down to an interview with that Koresh guy from Texas….or that Weaver fellow from Idaho…you get the point, right?
  3. If all else fails, and you’ve got an entry team stacking on your front door, recognize that you’ve got approximately three seconds from the time they get stacked, until the breacher will be blowing the locks and/or hinges off your front door. A magazine of rifle rounds through the walls on either side of the door at knee level (it’s called “grazing fire” for those without an infantry background) will go a LONG way towards ruining their day. If the breacher does breach the door, a flashbang will follow momentarily, and it will ruin your day. Ignore Hollywood, I’ve been on the receiving end of a flashbang-reinforced entry. Dark glasses and hearing protection will help some, but not very much. I guarantee you that you will be hating life and not providing much effective resistance when the first man comes through the door. Nevertheless, as I preach consistently in classes, “Hips and heads, kids! Hips and heads!”
  4. Reinforce your doors. Two, three, or even four deadbolts, in a REINFORCED door in a REINFORCED frame, with reinforced, hidden hinges, will slow down a ballistic breach with a shotgun-armed breacher (good luck stopping or slowing down an explosive breach…if there’s a successful way of reinforcing a door adequately to stop one from working, I’ve never heard of it). If you’ve got the time and fore-warning, pile furniture in front of the door. It won’t stop the entry, but it can slow down even a well-trained entry team (don’t bother asking me how I know). Do whatever you can to slow the entry, giving you not only time to recover from the effects of the flashbang, but also to keep the enemy in the “fatal funnel” of the door where they present a massed target (a quick note on doors…Alternate to the locking mechanism, a good breacher will know that the hinges are vulnerable to breaching rounds. Even “hidden” hinges are generally in the same location. Whether you build your own home, or have to retro-fit an existing structure, all exterior access doors should be in reinforced frames, with multiple dead-bolts, and have the hinges hidden on the inside, with unusual spacing, and ideally, extra hinges. I don’t consider six individual hinges too many. I guarantee you, when I ran a breaching shotgun, if I’d blown the three spots I knew to blow to breach the hinges, and then went to kick the door down, only to discover it was still held in place by the hinges, it would definitely get inside my OODA loop.
  5. Have “shovel-and-lime” friends nearby, and on “speed-dial.” Ensure multiple means of communications, since the enemy will do their best to shut down any form of outside communication as soon as they begin moving on a structure. Make sure those friends will start engaging the hostiles from the rear and flanks to distract them from their mission of breaking and entering or home invasion. A couple of sniper teams engaging the command post (CP) from 800-1000 yards out will go a long way towards disrupting the enemy’s OODA loop, giving you an opportunity to start counter-punching more effective. A couple of mortar rounds dropped on their heads, courtesy of a home-built mortar tube would probably be even more effective. Combine the two and I guarantee, they’re going to pull back and reconsider just how critical it is to take your house, today.
  6. If you KNOW you’ve been targeted (you have begun establishing your intelligence collection networks, right? You are working on getting a source inside the local security regime headquarters, right?) by the security forces, get the fuck out now. Drop everything except your guns and go-bags, and whatever else you can carry, hit the treeline (metaphorically speaking, if applicable) and don’t slow down until you reach your first re-supply cache, or a safe-house (you have begun establishing escape-and-evasion networks, corridors, and caches, right? You do have “shovel-and-lime” friends outside of your immediate geographical area, right?)
 As I mentioned, I’m not a cop. I’m not a defensive kind of guy. If I KNOW I’m targeted and there are armed men coming after me, I’m setting up multiple ambushes along the suspected route. If it comes down to it, I’ll be 800 yards out, ghillied up or in a hide site, behing a 7.62×51 SASS and a 10X optic, with a pre-developed range card for my front yard, waiting for the local security force commander to step outside of his pretty little armored command vehicle. If hostilities are already hot, it might be a 60mm “knee” mortar sending my greetings instead of a paltry 7.62mm delivery service. I’m sure not going to sit in my living room watching Jericho or Red Dawn and jerking off while I wear my multi-cams and the latest Tactical Tailor plate carrier, festooned with mag pouches that have never been muddy.
These are however, the recommendations I try and make if someone asks me how to defend their homestead. If you’ve got a group/crew/tribe, all ensconced on the same property? Look at the first half of this article and start planning an area defense.
Nous Defions!
John Mosby
Somewhere in the mountains

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One Comment
  1. Thanks for doing this John

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