UrbanSurvivalSkills.com received this comment which promoted us to talk Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield as a Urban Survival Skill,..."Urban Man, back in the day, we did "dry runs", stealthy recons, etc. Our AO was in Eastern Europe, South and Central America's cities, and our recon was done via, foot, as tourists, bus, auto and scooter/motorcycle....Taking that experience, I have applied it to my neighborhood, and surrounding area...I drive around, various times of the day/evening, and at night sometimes, with a digital recorder to make comments (so no incriminating paper) and get a feel for the area..I look for choke points, ambush points (mine & theirs), and resources (such as stores, buildings, unsecured 1000 gal gas tanks, etc). I get the vibe, map mileage and the like...Since I live in an Urban setting, I need to do this in addition to my normal neighborhood patrols/recons (dog walks)..No one is the wiser and I have lots of data to draw from...just a thought...PSYOP Soldier"
UrbanMan replies: PSYOP Soldier. Good points and appreciate your input. Visual Reconnaissance, without drawing attention to yourself, is the best way to familarize oneself with the terrain, rural or urban, and to Prep the Battlefield (IPB - a term I'm sure you'll understand) with information, that is once analyzed and exploited for your use, becomes useful intelligence.
Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefied is a term used in the military that defines the methodology employed to reduce uncertainties concerning the enemy, environment, and terrain for all types of operations. It is a continuous process that is used throughout all planned and executed operations.
IPB would be highly applicable in a collapse. In fact, in the American Apocalyse book series, the main characters assign one of the Survival Group members to be the Intelligence Officer (military acronym is S-2). You greatly incease th chances of failure when planning in an intelligence vaccuum.
Too many Intelligence operations focus on tht enemy (the threat) and will often not develop their information on the environment. The environment includes terrain, people-demographics and specifically for a societal-economic collapse this would mean locations of all commodities or equipment that you may be able to secure. These could include fuel sources, heavy equipment, material such as landscaping timbers (for hardening of defensive positions like stacking them inside your house), this list could be endless.
For Urban IPB, knowing who lived where; what they do for a living or what skills they have, and what resources and assets they may have is a must.
A good start would be to develop a list of things you want to know (a collection plan) based on the factors of terrain which are Observation and Fields of Fire; Key Terrain; Obstacles; Avenues of Approach; and, Cover and Concealment. How are they important? What do they mean to you? What would they mean to the enemy (threat)?
Having maps and imagery greatly enhances your planning and situational awareness. Keeping a set of these hard copy in case your computer and printer kick the bucket are a must. Using butcher block paper, or large cardboard from Office Depot is another good idea...and even laminating these maps and charts so you can write on them using a dry marker or a grease pencil will help greatly.
I use several programs to develop my situational maps of my urban location. Google Maps is a great program most people are familiar with. You can develop imagery and road maps from Google. Google Earth Pro is an enhanced program that is worth the cost to me, but I don't think it is absolutely necessary. Another free program is www.bing.com/maps/
With Nat Geo Topo you can product 1:500,000 scale to 1:250,000 scale US Geological Service (USGS) maps for general planning.
However, what will be most useful to the Urban Survival Planner would be the 1:100,000 scale and 1:24,000 scale USGS maps that you can toggle to at the click of your mouse. These 1:24,000 scale maps are also called 7.5' Quadrangles by the USGS. Go here to check out National Geographic Maps:
I have several maps and imagery products printed on large format, 36 inch by 36 inch paper, for my Urban Area. I laminated these and can write on these with a Sharpie for permanent annotations or with a grease pencil (China Marker) for temporary information. Basically keeping a Situation Map of my area.