Notice: This website may or may not use or set cookies used by Google Ad-sense or other third party companies. If you do not wish to have cookies downloaded to your computer, please disable cookie use in your browser. Thank You.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Defensive Positions for Movement during SHTF

Many of us have a hard time with watching military related movies and television shows. You see all the bad habits and out right crappy tactics, techniques and procedures where all the guy congregated together, point their weapons at each other, talk loud, have no idea of what conceal or concealment is,…and,…… try as you might to realize that this is a movie or television show, where they all have to fit into the camera frame, it still ruins it for me.

I was watching “Falling Skies” – okay I’m an alien movie junkie, but you have to admit that this story line is the ultimate collapse scenario,….Invasion by scary aliens,…….anyway back to my point. In one scene the human resistance group was running a small unit patrol. They were bunched together, talking out loud,…nobody watching their assigned area of responsibility,…about everything you can do wrong, they did.

I can only imagine how they ran their hasty defensive positions. So I offer this basic article on conduct hasty halts and maintaining security with an integral perimeter. This could be for a short term halt or for remaining through a period of darkness or daylight. The two hasty defensive position formations described below use blue circles to denote people and arrows to denote assigned areas of responsibility/fields of fire.

Small Circle Hasty Defensive Perimeter. Used with two or more personnel in the patrol. This is performed with all patrol members sitting with their backs (rucksacks or Bug Out bags) towards each other and their bodies/legs facing out. This is a very tight position which allows for very good noise discipline as each patrol member can communicate to the other on his Left and Right through whisper. Arm and hands signals can be used, preceded by a squeeze on the other patrol members leg or arm.

This formation allows for all patrol members to observe and protect an arc of responsibility to their direct front. A suitable location with concealment, usually through vegetation, must be present unless this position is used at night. Some small units use this position in the sparse desert environment, but usually during periods of minimal lunar illumination where the threat ability to see if reduced and friendlies can exploit night vision devices and thermal imagers.

Again, this is a hasty defensive position providing a small signature. An implied task with this position is that team members should be able to shoot from the seated position or on their backs. The prone position, while providing stability and comfort, does not provide for the best ability to observe, especially to your sides and rear.

Triangle or Strong Point Hasty Defensive Perimeter. This is best used when terrain and vegetation best presents the ability to provide covered and/or concealed positions. One mistake teams make in establishing a triangle defensive position is that the distance between positions is too great to communicate or move undetected to. For small units/patrols, the distance between positions for a triangle defensive position may be as short as 10-20 feet. If the environment or situation is risky enough requiring additional security, the triangle position is beneficial to keeping 50% security – one man at each position always on security watching a combined area of responsibility.

One of the strong point positions is going to be tasked with looking, observing and defending the most likely line of approach into the defensive position – this could be an existing trail or natural line of drift.

Common Techniques for Hasty Defensive Perimeters

Work priorities. As soon as a defensive position is selected, priorities of work are directed. Work is accomplished usually in buddy teams – one person accomplishes the work task, while the other provides security. An example of work priorities would be weapons maintenance, foot maintenance, water and chow, then, rest. Again, one person breaks down and cleans their weapons, whatever level is necessary, while the buddy provides security. Then roles are reversed. Each work priority is accomplished in this manner. The leader of the patrol may have additional leader tasks such as reviewing a map and determining exact location, planning the next route and developing a contingency plan in case of any attack on the defensive position makes it necessary to Bug Out.

Security Procedures. Security is accomplished through many ways.

1 – making sure that the position is not on a trail or natural line of drift. In fact, one good tactic is to button hook back off your route so that if you have anyone tracking your team, you could observe and/or ambush them if necessary.

2 - using light, noise and litter discipline effectively as to not give away your position or provide evidence that you were there.

3 – ensuring that at least one patrol member is awake and alert at all times, but sometimes you would want more people awake. When the position is established the position would go to a security percentage based on the number of people on the team. 20% security means one person awake and on guard for a 5 person patrol.

4 - usually hasty defensive positions would not entail establishing mechanical early warning devices, but these could certainly be incorporated. Even something as simple as a trip wire with a noise maker like a tin can with rocks in it. However if a threat group discovered that, they would know immediately what it’s use it and the team may be compromised.

Contingency Plan. Everyone should be briefed on a contingency plan in case the defensive position is attacked and the patrol is forced to evacuate. The contingency plan should include two routes out of the position – these routes should not be in the same general direction but best case 180 degrees apart to support withdrawal away from attacks; identify where the rally point is; how long to stay at the rally point to linkup with late arriving other patrol members; and, visual and verbal signals to identify patrol members to reduce shooting the wrong people.


  1. I love Falling Skies too! ;-) Good post! Thanks!

  2. Great article... would be good to see a more detailed Part II, good locations vs bad locations, city vs rural etc.