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Friday, May 14, 2010

Urban Survival Skills – Foot Movement and Navigation Off Road

Jacob sent me a message on Face Book (see Urban Man at Facebook) regarding moving across country on foot. He saw the After Armageddon 6 of 9 video of Chris and his family moving in daylight on the two lane road and wanted to know, without a Global Positioning System (GPS), Land Navigation, Maps and Map Reading skills, what should Chris have done.

Chris should have had a plan with routes out of the city using PACE. Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency Bug Out routes. At any given point during transit on any given route, you may have to give up your vehicle and move on foot.

Navigation has to be integrated into sound movement principles. Some considerations for movement are the same for Urban, Suburban or Rural environments or terrain. Principles are the same, techniques may be different.

1. You may have to move during the night and hole up during the day to conserve your energy and water. There may be times when you have to move during the day in order to gain distance from bad areas or bad people.

2. Move using the terrain to your advantage, whether it’s buildings or hills, bridges or fences or wood lines. Use terrain to mask your movement.

3. Do not move bunched up; instead move with sufficient interval between the people in your Survival Group to make harder targets for bad guys.

4. Try not to leave signs of your passage which is most important when you cross what we call linear danger areas (roads, trails, natural lines of drift, streams, etc). Danger areas, linear or otherwise, are likely places to contact the threat or places that expose you and your group.

5. Make sufficient halts to check navigation, rest your group, and for security. Consider moving off your route in a button hook fashion in order to check your trail for anybody following or tracking you. Choose locations for stops that are defensible and have an escape route away from any anticipated approach or attack from bad guys.

As far a Land Navigation goes, a GPS is a great tool given the satellites are working AND you have sufficient batteries. To tell you the truth I have a GPS but will never use it. The batteries are more important to me for other things such as radios, flashlights and lanterns.

You should have a compass, in fact have two, and know how to use it (we have a saying "Two is One and One is None" when it comes to our Survival Kit). Using a compass also requires you being able to read map (where you are at and where you want to go) then plot an azimuth (or direction) from here to there on a map.

Following a compass bearing (aka azimuth or direction) is called dead reckoning. If you dead reckon without regard to the terrain you may have a rough go over bad terrain that you could have walked around, so consider planning shorter “legs” of your journey to avoid bad terrain.

You will have to keep track of the distance traveled in help determine where you are at any given time. Using a pace count is great. Having someone in your group keep track of how many steps, therefore how many hundreds of yards or meters you traveled. For this to work, you have to know how many steps if takes for you to travel a given distance. Over fairly flat terrain, carrying a light to moderate load, I take 64 left steps to make 100 meters.

Terrain Association is where you see a particular piece of terrain, such as a hill, finger, saddle, fork in a river, etc., and locate that on the map to determine where you are at.

Now apply all of it: Reading a Map, plotting routes, dead reckoning using a compass, moving using principles of movement like a organized patrol would, integrate terrain association and keep track of your distance traveled. If you don’t have these skills or tools, start acquiring them.

You can start with maps of your present Urban/Suburban location to your planned Safe Location. Any map is better than none, but the US Geological Survey Maps in 1:25,000 scale or 1:100,000 scale should be available. Maybe you can get your hands on Military 1:50,000 scale maps – all of these are great assets to your Survival Gear and Equipment load list.

As far as Chris in the After Armageddon videos, without any plan, navigation aids, or Survival Gear or Equipment, when he was on foot he should have moved off the road at least 50 yards and check for oncoming traffic both ways. He could have moved further of the road keeping divergent terrain between his family and the road. He could have paralleled the road using it as a navigation aid but be a better position to hide from on-coming traffic and potential threats. He should have been moving at night and holing up during the day under shade or a field expedient shelter with a terrain feature or terrain between his hole up and the traveling paths for potential bad guys, such as the highway.

The same principles for Chris or anybody traveling in a vehicle. Use the aforementioned principles of movement when in a vehicle also. Get off the road in a covered and/or concealed position. Doesn’t need to be far in most cases, just out of line of sight off the road. You should cover the shiny parts of your personal equipment and vehicles to keep the sun from reflecting off of it and attracting attention.

Hope this provides a better understanding for you Jacob. Good luck and check preparing – skills, gear, mindset and planning.

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