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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Urban Survival Skills – OP/LP’s and Training your Survival Group

In previous posts on Urban Survival Home Defense and Preparation we briefly discussed Observation Posts/Listening Posts (OP/LPs) and the requirements for these positions to be in a place where they could observe, listen and report on any potential threat moving towards your Urban/Suburban or Safe location. 
Again, OP/LP’s should have a covered and concealed route from the Home or Base Camp to their position.  The OP/LP positions themselves should be covered and concealed positions to avoid detection from advancing threats.   And they should have a means of communications from their position to the home or Base Camp.  In keeping with PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency), multiple means of communications is necessary to ensure OP/LP’s can perform as you need them to, primarily reporting the presence of a Threat.  
A simple reporting format based on the Army SALUTE format will work for most any OP/LP’s in a survival scenario.  The SALUTE report format is:
S – Size (Size of group)
A – Activity (What the Threat is doing)
L – Location (where is the Threat – what direction and distance from the OP/LP)
U – Unit and/or Uniform (this refers to who the Threat is, if that can be determined, and how they are dressed)
T – Time (time of report)
E – Equipment (primarily what weapons and vehicles that the Threat is equipped with).    
The easiest type of OP/LP would be one or more located on or in the home or Base Camp, such as in a second story window or on the roof to enable the height or elevation necessary to view longer distance and see the threat coming at the earliest opportunity.  Communications from an integral OP/LP is much easier than from a remote OP/LP, plus it allows you keep your combat power on site and useable – which may be important for a small Survival Group.  Without any electronic communications means such as radios, landline field phone or electric or battery powered horns, an OP/LP at your home can use a pull string with a bell or even a series of tin cans filled with rocks can be activated for an alert. 
It is not simply a matter of selecting an OP/LP and telling them to report what they see.  You have to train them to use any observation device you have available such as binoculars, spotting scopes, night vision devices, etc. 
One of the best methods to train your Survival Group to perform as a viable member of an OP/LP team is through Observation Exercises. 
All members of the Survival Group should be able to use all common observation devices you have on hand.  Teach them scanning and searching techniques with these devices, both day and night.     
The first step in an Observation drill is to position the OP/LP members in the selected OP/LP position or a like position.  Have them draw a Sector Sketch of the area of responsibility for that post.  This trains them to develop sector sketches and sketching in general but also familiarizes them with the objects in their field of view or area of responsibility. 
Then, send them away from the OP/LP position, and emplace objects in the field of view or area of responsibility.  Such objects can be soda cans, tools, toys or anything else that is small and hard to see, but clearly visible from the OP/LP.
Bring back the OP/LP members and have them use their naked eyes and observation devices to try and find what is the different in their area of responsibility,…what stands out,…what doesn’t belong there.
They should be looking for shine, straight lines or patterns and also movement will help cue to them to the object or threat.   
When defending the Urban Home, you are going to be at a disadvantage already, not to make use of any advantage you can glean.   Knowing the terrain, emplacing OP/LP’s where they detect the threat at the maximum possible distance will all help your Urban Survival Home defense.     
You should have an emergency evacuation plan for the OP/LP, so in case they get compromised they can return safely to the Home or Base Camp.  This plan may include route to use, and, passwords or visual signals (colored or blinking lights) to identify themselves as friendly.   
Comments on Night Time Observation:
At night, especially at remote OP/LP’s, team members may have an enhanced sense of isolation.  This can manifest itself into seeing things that aren’t there or neglecting their duties to detect threats and give early warning.  Being forewarned of this may help you ensure your task organization or OP/LP team makeup can reduce this possibility. 
Also at night, the human eye sees differently.   The eye uses cells on the periphery of the eye, called rods, which creates a type of blind spot in the center of the eye. This can cause someone to stare at one spot and produce images of an object moving when it is not, or even cause the observer to miss the object.  Scanning techniques will help reduce this.  Lateral scanning by systemically, viewing at a slowly moving pace, from left to right, then right to left, or in a vertical “S” shaped pattern of bottom to top, top to bottom, and repeating itself until the observer has completed a scan through the entire area of responsibility.   

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