I’m not particularly fond of delving into tactical discussions, mainly because many professionals often label themselves as experts. In my perspective, claiming expertise requires experiencing every conceivable situation, a feat accomplished by very few individuals.
If you’ve encountered every scenario, you’re only an expert in what you’ve faced. Survival doesn’t automatically confer expertise; it just means what you did worked. Personally, I tend to steer clear of such labels.
While much of our discourse on this platform pertains to hypothetical scenarios, if they were to materialize, I’d consider those who emerge unscathed as potential experts. Nonetheless, I maintain my reluctance to discuss tactics, viewing it as a necessary yet undesirable topic.
Now, let’s shift our focus to some fundamental principles that have proven effective in the past. This isn’t intended for seasoned pros or those well-prepared; it’s for those who might be new to this. All movement inherently involves tactics to support it, a concept encapsulated in the term “tactical movement.” Leveraging my background as a career soldier, I’ll draw heavily from my combat experience to share what has worked for me.
Commencing with group movement, particularly in scenarios involving the assembly of parties, the formation adopted depends on several factors for the untrained. These factors include the enemy’s capabilities—whether they’re looters or raiders—the terrain being traversed (urban, rural, open, forested, or restricted), and the number and capabilities of individuals in the moving group.
Considering these factors, let me introduce you to some military formations:
- Wedge Formation
- File Formation
- Line Formation
These three will be our focus as they represent fundamental formations for moving, attacking, and navigating through challenging terrain. I’ll provide a basic overview, leaving it up to you to practice and refine your group’s understanding. Remember, when venturing beyond your survival location, you’re in enemy territory, susceptible to attacks from various ranges.
An essential aspect to grasp is the purpose behind each formation and individual positions within it. It’s designed for comprehensive observation and security, ensuring the entire formation isn’t vulnerable to simultaneous attacks. However, bear in mind that even with a well-thought-out plan, a prepared ambush might throw the entire formation into chaos.
In tactical movement, no one advances without cover. Online images of army wedge formations will depict everything from teams to platoons. While these formations might seem flawless on paper, in reality, every member should be able to see the person in front of them. Maintaining sightlines is crucial; once lost, the unit’s security, observation, and firing capabilities are compromised.
Lastly, let’s discuss the rationale behind different formations for various situations. Consider that in gathering party formations, some members might be occupied pushing carts or carrying heavy loads, affecting their readiness to defend the formation. Always keep these practical considerations in mind.
Incorporating the wedge formation provides a tactical advantage by offering the group a 360-degree observation and firing capability. The entire formation can engage targets both to the front and rear, with half the formation able to fire left and right while maintaining their structured arrangement. This versatile formation has proven effective in diverse environments, including open terrains, wooded areas with clear visibility between trees, city streets, hilly landscapes, and situations with limited visibility. As a general rule, in conditions of reduced visibility or when the terrain becomes more constricted, the distance between formation members is decreased. This distance can range from as little as five meters to fifteen or more, depending on the circumstances.
For survival scenarios, the wedge formation accommodates any number of members, and for larger groups, it is advisable to deploy two or more wedges with optimal spacing between them. This setup allows for strategic flexibility, especially if one wedge encounters threats, enabling others to provide cover while the formation maneuvers. It is crucial to practice these maneuvers beforehand, with paintball exercises serving as excellent training opportunities.
References for further reading:
“Leadership in War” by Andrew Roberts
“Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach” by Dandridge M. Malone
The file formation is specifically designed for use in restricted terrain and under conditions of reduced visibility. Members of the formation maintain the ability to observe and fire to the left or right but have limited capabilities to the front and rear. This formation is employed in dense woods or bushes, as well as in challenging conditions such as fog, snow, night, and extremely narrow city streets or alleys. The distance between formation members is generally based on line of sight.
While not considered an ideal combat formation, maneuvering out of the file formation has been executed when faced with enemy fire. Breaks in contact are common during reduced visibility, and tight control is essential, especially when navigating wooded areas at night. Even with meticulous control, breaks in contact between members are to be expected.
For visuals and a deeper understanding, a simple online search for “army file formation” can provide relevant images and insights.
References for further reading:
“Infantry in Battle” by George C. Marshall
“Military Leadership: In Pursuit of Excellence” by Robert L. Taylor
Deployed as an assault or search tactic, the line formation offers the advantage of concentrated firepower to the front or rear, though it lacks combat power to the left and right. This formation supports fire and movement or fire and maneuver strategies. A search for “army line formation” or “fire and maneuver” in your preferred search engine will yield illustrative materials.
Leaders typically control the line formation from the rear, ensuring that no part of the formation strays too far ahead or falls behind. As with any formation, regular practice enhances the group’s ability to execute these maneuvers effectively. It is crucial for individual members to avoid tunnel vision or target fixation and remain aware of their position within the formation. Group training exercises, including paintball scenarios and movement over varied terrain, contribute to honing these skills.
References for further reading:
“On Infantry” by John A. English
Fire and Movement:
In this tactical approach, individual members of the formation execute brief advances, commonly referred to as short rushes, while being supported by their comrades. Alternatively, a section of the line may make a short rush while the non-rushing section provides cover. The effectiveness of this tactic can be hindered by varied terrain, including short rolling hills or raised ground, as it may lead to temporary loss of sight between the supporting and moving sections. This lapse in visibility can pose a risk of friendly fire casualties during live-fire exercises, a scenario that, regardless of the circumstances, is universally undesirable and unaffordable.
Fire and Maneuver:
A section of the line employs the fire and maneuver tactic by shifting left or right to advance on the enemy flank, with support from the rest of the line. This standard infantry tactic is adaptable to fields, hills, cities, and any terrain conducive to the formation’s use. However, the potential for disastrous friendly fire incidents exists if the maneuvering element loses sight and reappears in the impact zone of the supporting group members. While such incidents have occurred even in well-trained military units, it underscores the importance of precise execution.
Additionally, there are squad or unit overwatch and bounding overwatch tactics. In overwatch, part of the unit moves to a designated point while covered by the remaining overwatching section. Bounding overwatch employs either successive or alternate bounds, contingent on terrain and weapons capability. Exploring images of bounding overwatch online provides visual clarity. These tactics can be practiced effectively using paintballs. It’s essential to note that leadership is crucial in survival situations, requiring constant training and rehearsals, especially if radios are not available.
Maneuvering out of these formations can involve advancing or retreating from the enemy. A cautionary note is reiterated about engaging in prolonged fights due to ammunition concerns and casualties. Having members with combat arms experience is advised for the group’s benefit. If the formation includes a gathering party with carts and encounters enemy fire, the formation engages while ensuring the carts reach safety. The strategy shifts if the group needs to move towards the enemy, with cart-bearing members providing support from a safe distance based on the situation and terrain.
References for further reading:
“Infantry Attacks” by Erwin Rommel
“Small Wars Manual” by United States Marine Corps
Note: While there are countless resources on military tactics, the mentioned books provide foundational insights into infantry tactics and small unit maneuvers.
In the realm of infantry, combat recon patrols serve the critical purpose of gathering intelligence on the enemy’s location, activities, capabilities, and intentions. In the context of a prolonged survival scenario marked by violence, the essence of recon patrols remains unchanged, albeit directed towards a different adversary—looters and raiders. These patrols are instrumental in assessing the safety or threat posed by an area or group of people. Engaging in recon or security patrols significantly reduces the likelihood of being caught off guard by looters or raiders, and the effectiveness of such patrols tends to increase with the size of the group.
Essential Requirements for Conducting a Successful Recon Patrol:
- Know Your Route and Destination: Familiarize yourself with the route, destination, and necessary equipment for the mission.
- Master Tactical Movement: Proficiency in executing effective tactical movements is paramount.
- Move Stealthily as a Group and Individually: Develop the ability to move quietly both as a cohesive unit and as an individual.
- Proficiency in Camouflage: Acquire the skills to effectively blend into the surroundings.
- Observation Without Detection: Develop the capability to observe without being detected.
- Covered Withdrawal if Detected: In case of detection, execute a covered withdrawal without becoming decisively engaged—an intricate task in certain situations.
A practical way to train for these skills is to engage with ex-military veterans in a paintball scenario. This approach allows for understanding the nuances of stealthy movement and observation without detection. Recognize that these requirements can change significantly with variations in terrain, and understanding personal physical limits is crucial. The transition from paintballs to bullets is highlighted, emphasizing that engagements with bullets yield permanent results.
Security patrols are instrumental in safeguarding your survival location, involving small groups of members venturing beyond the immediate area to assess potential threats from looters or raiders. These patrols strategically position themselves to monitor movement over a wide area, armed and prepared to confront any potential threats. When outside the survival location, members should carry seventy-two hours of survival and protective gear.
Key Requirements for Conducting a Successful Security Patrol:
- Know Your Route and Destination: Prioritize knowledge of your route, destination, and required equipment.
- Execute Tactical Small Group Moves: Ensure proficiency in small group movements where no one moves without cover.
- Stealthy Movement as Individuals and Small Groups: Develop the capability to move quietly both individually and as a small group.
- Hide and Observe Without Detection: Acquire skills in hiding and observing without being detected.
- Escape if Detected Without Decisive Engagement: In the event of detection, have the ability to escape without becoming decisively engaged.
Security patrols, characterized by a smaller team, share training principles with recon patrols. Both are non-combat oriented, emphasizing the intent not to make any contact or be detected, a goal more achievable in rural areas compared to urban environments. It’s crucial to acknowledge that despite meticulous planning, looter or raider actions may override the original intent of the plan.
References for further reading:
“Bullet Proof Home” by Steve Walker
In the second part of this article I will discuss ambush and raiding tactics so stay tuned.
Suggested resources for survivalists: