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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More SHTF Ambush Tips

I received the following from Paco: “The ambush post was great! Can you have more information on ambushes, maybe some advanced ambush techniques?”

UrbanMan replies: I will eventually write a post with additional ambush formations and maybe some case studies, but the thing to remember is the basics which set the foundation for all ambushes. So I offer this:

§ The ambush site should be suitable,.....having a covered and/or concealed approach/withdrawal route for your group; allow for the placement of observation/listening posts (LP/OP’s), for early warning, which also should provide defensible positions with good observation on the approaching threat; and the LP/OP’s need to be within communications distance from the main ambush element.

§ The Patrol leader or ambush team leader should conduct a leader’s reconnaissance of the ambush site to ensure it is suitable and select positions for the ambush team; the Patrol Leader/Ambush Team Leader should actually emplace each member of the ambush element to ensure they have covered/concealed positions and can cover the ambush “kill zone” effectively - think inter locking fields of fire.

§ There should be a designated fall back or rally position in case the ambush turns bad or the ambush element becomes separated. This rally position should be easy to pickout or recognize, even in the dark, and should be defensible in case the ambush goes bad and the team is pursued by the threat. It may not necessary be back on the route to the main survival site. Everyone in your patrol should have some land navigation skills.

§ The Patrol/Ambush Team Leader should have communications (probably radio) with the deployed LP/OP’s and should have a method to alert each ambush team member of the approaching threat – a pull cord can work well. This is a string connecting each ambush position and a simply mode of communication such as one pull meaning threat is approaching and two pulls meaning the member has received that message.

§ It is important that the kill zone and the placement of the ambush team will effectively cover the entire threat. You would be wise not to ambush only half the threat then have the other half maneuver against you. This is true if the ambush is a “harassing ambush” where the purpose may be the just drive the threat away or otherwise make them pick a easier route or target, or if the ambush is a “destruction ambush” where the intent is to completely destroy the threat.

§ If the threat is in vehicles, it may be effective to initial disable the front and last vehicle to fix the threat in the kill zone. Use of spike strips or other obstacles can help keep the threat vehicles from escaping the kill zone. Ensure the placement of obstacles, such as spike strips, T-posts or log buried with 18 inches or so exposed, or anything else, is concealed or otherwise the threat may recognize the ambush before it is initiated.

§ Ambushes are best initiated using a casualty producing device, other than small arms fire. The military uses high explosive direct fire weapons such as anti-tank missiles, anti-personnel/anti-vehicle mines or explosives, or, at least a machine gun. You may not be able to rig field expedient devices if you don’t have the expertise. It may pay off to have some reference material just in case. To be clear, I am not advocating violating any existing laws governing explosives, but in a SHTF scenario, there may not be any law enforcement and the laws or what people are willing to do to protect their groups from threats may become a little “relaxed”.

§ The Ambush should have planned signals, visual and audible, to “lift” or cease fire; maybe a signal to assault the killzone if that what your plan is or intent is; and a signal to withdrawal.  Keep in mind that in a SHTF - total collapse where medical response may be gone and medical treatment relays on what you can do - taking risks such as assaulting a threat may result in an additional risk of wounds or injuries to your people.  Be prepared to treat injuries and wounds, and, maybe have the ability to move non-ambulatory wounded back to your safe site.  

§ If assaulting the kill zone on a destruction ambush, there are a couple things to remember: use two or three person teams with defined duties such as search or cover; do not put you back to any threat body that is presumed dead – last thing you want is to walk pass a body only to shot in the back; have a limit of advance so you don’t have your kill zone assault element all strung out – this would be bad if the threat counter attacked.

The post collapse or SHTF Survival Group should think clearly before committing their limited resources to a definitive action like an ambush. It must be necessary to the survival of the group first and foremost; have clearly established goals; be conducted by responsible members who won't put other team members at risk; and rehearsed,...from a chart talk, to a sand table exercise to a full mission profile rehearsal.


  1. on amazon look up the book Total Resistance by H. Von Dach

    all about this topic. a little dated in technology as the book was written in 1958 but the concepts and techniques are all pretty much the same

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