Scouting and Patrolling!

Scouting and Patrolling – the Basics

If and when the Zombie Apocalypse is thrust upon us, an important part of individual survival will be residential or homestead security.  To ensure security of the homestead, one must develop an offensive strategy and seek out the enemy before it suddenly appears on his doorstep.  With this in mind, true survivalists must be skilled in basic concepts of scouting and patrolling.

Scouting will typically involve locating water, food or medical supplies, additional fallback shelters, defensive terrain features, possible ambush sites, and possible security threats.  Scouting requires proficiency in the use of firearms and other weapons, knowledge of cover and concealment, good route selection skills and the ability to move unobserved during the day or at night.

For good homestead protection, one must be actively scouting for potential threats.  Scouting is often a single-person function and the success of a scouting mission is dependent upon individual skill level.  The scout should have a defined objective before deploying on the scouting mission.  From a military perspective, to wage combat successfully, a leader must have accurate, detailed, and timely information about the enemy, the terrain, and any friendly units.  From our survival perspective, being a well-trained scout is one of the most effective means for acquiring this same type of information that is necessary to plan tactical actions and make decisions involving the security of our homestead.

To be effective, a scout should have the following skills:

  1. Knowledge of firearms for personal protection
  2. Knowledge of map reading and navigation
  3. Ability to recognize terrain features and identify them on a map
  4. Understanding of the principles of cover and concealment
  5. Understanding of route selection and movement principles
  6. Ability to observe and identify potential threats

Becoming a good scout requires that one be able to operate in all types of terrain and under all conditions of visibility.  One of my favorite books written on scouting principles is The Way of the Scout, by Tom Brown Jr.  In the book, Mr. Brown describes the Scout as follows, “To the scout, the wilderness had to be his home. He had to live in perfect balance and harmony with creation and follow its laws. His skill had to keep him safe and secure in all elements and landscapes, where he would need for nothing. Classic survival skills were not enough; they were just the beginning of that perfection and ultimate invisibility.”  This is a wonderful explanation of the true essence of scouting for protection.  It should be noted that scouting is one of those perishable skills that needs to be practiced often and it cannot be taken for granted.

The second skill needed for home security is the ability to effectively patrol.  The main difference between scouting and patrolling is the number of individuals involved and the willingness to engage the threat.  As stated, a scouting mission usually involves one person.  A patrol, on the other hand, involves a team of individuals working together to perform security protection missions around a specific area.  Active patrolling of the outer perimeter of a homestead is crucial to maintaining protective rings of security.

There are generally two types of patrolling that are taught in the military: Reconnaissance and Combat Patrols.  I will discuss the benefits of each.

The reconnaissance (recon) patrol is used to gather information about the effectiveness of defense, potential threats or any potentially hazardous terrain.  The recon patrol relies on stealth, not strength and provides a snapshot of the overall defensive positions.  The goal is to avoid enemy contact and only fight when necessary to defend the patrol.  This type of patrol could be used to search uncharted areas close to the homestead.  Since invisibility is the key, if the recon patrol is compromised, it may be forced to split up.  Each member should have an escape and evasion plan, which includes a route to follow to a predetermined rally point.  A rally point is simply a location designated by the group leader where the group moves to re-assemble and reorganize if it becomes dispersed.  This rally point should not be the primary residence, as one cannot afford to lead the threat back home.  Instead, it should be at a secure location as far away as possible and be reinforced as a fighting position where additional supplies and ammunition are pre-staged.

A combat patrol is a trained group of individuals that anticipates physical engagement with a threat as a probable event.  It can be both offensive and defensive in nature.  The combat patrol is often a much larger and more heavily armed force than a recon patrol.  Its mission could be to provide security, capture or destroy other enemy equipment and facilities, or even capture other hostile personnel.  There are generally four types of combat patrols: raid, contact, ambush, and security.  For our purposes, we are primarily concerned with the combat security patrols.  However, regardless of the category or means of conducting a patrol, there are certain keys to successful patrolling:

  1. Detailed planning
  2. Realistic rehearsals
  3. Thorough reconnaissance
  4. Positive control by leadership
  5. All-around security

The combat security patrol is designed to seek out threats in the outer perimeter of the homestead, engage these threats, and neutralize them if necessary.  These types of patrols might last hours, a day, or up to three days depending on the planned objectives, equipment, resources and predetermined route selection.  For a patrol to succeed, all members of the team must be well-trained, briefed, and rehearsed. Rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal is the name of the game for safe combat patrols.  If one serves as a group leader, one must have a complete understanding of the objectives for conducting the patrol.  One must also have good information (intelligence) on any threats, man-made or natural, before conducting the patrol.  Individual members of the patrol must be familiar with standard movement techniques and basic formations.  Examples of individual movement techniques include low crawl, high crawl and the rush, and the basic formations that are frequently used are the file and the wedge. The wedge formation is formed when the leader of the group takes the point position and his personnel are echeloned to the right and left behind him.  When using the wedge formation, individuals maintain an interval of approximately 10 meters between each other.  This can be modified depending on the terrain, visibility or other factors.  All individuals should be able to see the leader, so the wedge formation can be adjusted to fit this goal.  Sometimes the terrain becomes restrictive and the patrol is funneled into a line formation.  The intervals between members of the group in a line formation will vary depending on whether they are in an urban or woodland environment.

Whether we are facing a threat in the form of a Zombie cell, unwanted trespassers or aggressive animals, knowing how to effectively perform as scouts or conduct security patrols will be crucial to our overall homestead protection plan.  Scouting and patrolling are perishable skills that must also be practiced and honed to be effective.  Louis Pasteur said, “Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen? Chance favors only the prepared mind.”  Heed his wise words and prepare for victory through proper planning, realistic training, and the willingness to survive at any cost!


Dealing with an Active Shooter

This is an excellent video.  

USN Pre-Flight V5 Aviators Program Training Film – Defensive Hand-to-Hand Combat

This is a great old school video.  Lt. Commander Wesley Brown Jr. was a true innovator in the hand-to-hand combat field.

The Prepared Mindset

What is a prepared mindset?  Well, one thing it is NOT is paranoia.  Perceiving everything as a threat is no way to live and enjoy life, and to my way of thinking, it represents a mind that is out of balance.  I know folks who live like this, and it would seem that they often attract bad circumstances to themselves, inadvertently creating self-fulfilling prophecies.  Paranoia makes one jumpy from maintaining a constant state of fear which really produces lots of stress—this is not productive at all, and the mind does not operate efficiently this way (not to mention it is hard on the body to have all those stress hormones zooming around the system on a daily basis).  The opposite of paranoia would be Condition White—the state of “cluelessness”; burying one’s head in the sand and subscribing to the notion that nothing bad can happen because that only occurs to others in some distant universe.  This is equally non-productive.  Developing and maintaining a prepared mindset lies somewhere in between these two poles.  It means staying informed, giving threats some thorough and objective consideration, contemplating solutions, learning and practicing skills, and developing awareness habits and plans.  There is an important shift from either extreme: knowing bad things can and do happen to good people, taking necessary and reasonable precautions, and then going on about one’s life while maintaining vigilance.   One would be wise not to live always as if there is no tomorrow, and wise not to forget to live.

When people are executed in a movie theater, or while attending worship services, it brings the point home that anything can happen to anyone and anywhere.  Nowhere is sacred, and nowhere is truly safe.  Not even home—home invasions are a growing problem.  So what must  a logical person do?? 

Step One: Make the reasonable assumption that a bad thing could happen–admit it to yourself and realize that you are not invincible.  Even the most savvy self-defense instructors/practitioners can find themselves in sticky situations.

Step Two: Take a step back and analyze your life for the vulnerabilities.  Solid threat assessment.  Where are the security holes in your day—moments when some miscreant could catch you by surprise?  Could you modify your behavior to shore up some of these holes?  A good example of this is texting and walking—do you need to text while wandering through a parking lot?  Parking lots are ripe hunting grounds for the bad guys.  Do you tread in higher-risk environments?  Believe it or not, a bar is a higher risk environment.  So is a bank.   Can you take extra precautions when going into these environments?

Step Three: Ask yourself a very important question: what is my life worth to me?  Will I do whatever I have to do to survive and win a violent confrontation?  Only you can answer this question for yourself, and despite what you may believe, years and years of combatives and martial arts training are worth zilch if you have not made the decision to respond to an imminent threat with ferocious resolve.

Step Four: Get some training.  Train the soft skills and the physical skills (empty-hand and weapons).  Soft skills include communication and de-escalation, threat assessment, awareness, conflict management, etc.   I read a recent interview with combatives expert Lee Morrison, and he stated, “For me the soft skills (personal security) side of things is where it’s at; the best self-protection comes from not having to be physical in the first place, or better yet ‘not being there’ this comes from seeing it coming (situational awareness) and understanding what ‘it’ means to you right now (threat recognition) without these things the rest is redundant.  Of course an understanding of how to articulate you defence post event in court is absolutely crucial; I don’t think enough has been done in this area. “.  Mr. Morrison also faithfully trains the hard physical skills.  To me, the hard skills are like your little insurance policy in case you have an off day, or someone is hell-bent on causing you harm.  I have also been training the hard skills faithfully for the past 11.5 years.  For self-defense, it is important to find the things that actually work, the things that are simple, and to train with full emotional content.  Winning a fight against an assailant on the street is not about competition and trading blows—it is about full-on aggression and fighting dirty.  Learn how to tap into your aggression and harden your body through vigorous training.  Hardening the body can help harden the mind, and both can boost your confidence in handling yourself.

Step Five: Educate yourself about self-defense and the law.  Know when you can use force and when you cannot.  Know what to do after you use force. 

Step Six: Decide on self-defense gear, whether or not you wish to carry it, and broaden your mind to encompass the world of improvised weapons.  Knowing how to use this gear goes back to your training.

Step Seven: Develop tactics and strategies.  Home emergencies, emergencies out in the environment with or without loved ones (group plans should be thoroughly discussed and drilled).  It is true that plans often go to hell on the battlefield, so learning to be adaptive is also important.  This also goes back to your training.

Step Eight: Stay alert and aware.  As soon as you step outside the threshold of your castle each day and out into the unknown, maintain 360 degree security at all times.  Observe and orient yourself and listen to what your intuition tells you if you get a bad feeling.  You get these feelings for a reason, so honor them.

Step Nine: Live your life.  Never forget to live.  Life is a gift.  Live it graciously, become a hard target, and defend it if anyone tries to take it away from you.


I hope you can see that the prepared mindset really equates to a strong will to live.  A prepared individual knows the value of life, and is going to do whatever it takes to protect it.  Life is, after all, precious and fleeting.   I encourage and challenge you to do whatever you can to keep it from being any more fleeting than it has to be.

William E. Fairbairn

“Get tough, get down in the gutter, win at all costs… I teach what is called ‘Gutter Fighting.’ There’s no fair play, no rules except one: kill or be killed.”

I highly recommend that anyone interested in winning a violent confrontation, study his materials.

Recognizing Warning Signs of Impending Attack

I have addressed this topic before in older posts, but it is always worth reviewing because if we operate with the correct winning mindset, we will help to ensure most of the time that we perceive things in the early stages before situations become physical.

The following is an excerpt from a self-protection manual I put together to give to my students.  It addresses communication, and the importance of reading the non-verbals to assist us in determining the intentions of an individual.  Since we cannot read minds, all we have assess intention is someone’s observable behaviors.  Of course, our intention is to thwart the bad intention, of course.

The other key point about communication and people skills that I wish to emphasize is the importance of non-verbal communication.  We all pick up on non-verbals in conversation whether we consciously think about it or not.  How others say their words (tone, inflection, rate, pitch, volume) is even more important than what they say.  Body language speaks volumes about what people are saying.  Facial expression expert Dr. Paul Ekman has devoted many years to mapping out the human face and identifying how emotions are expressed through the musculature therein.  It is a science unto itself!  Our bodies betray how we are feeling through our movements, gestures, postures, and even how our eyes move.  If our verbal communication does not match what our non-verbal communication is saying, we tend not to believe the words and rely on what everything else is expressing.  Certainly, in the art of persuasion, you can use all of these things to your advantage by becoming more adept at reading other people, and with making your communication that much more effective and purposeful.

Of particular importance within the area of self-defense is the ability to identify non-verbal communication as it relates to potential aggression.  In his excellent book, Management of Aggressive Behavior, Roland Ouellette lists signs to look for in the eyes: 

  • Contracting pupils (agitation)
  • Alternating eye movement to size you up
  • Jerky eye movement (hallucination)
  • Darting eyes
  • Searching/looking around eyes (searching for weapons or escape route)
  • Thousand-yard stare (high potential for aggression)
  • Target glancing (are they staring at what they wish to strike?)
  • Breaking eye contact (sometimes before initiating an attack)
  • Glistening eyes (distress) 

As an individual begins to lose control of himself and move towards verbal aggression, he may engage in these body displays: 

  • Darkening of the face
  • Baring of teeth (think snarling)
  • Quickening of breath (usually indicates adrenaline dump)
  • Frowning
  • Shoulders and head back
  • Opening and closing hands
  • Shaking 

As an individual escalates towards physical aggression, he may: 

  • Lose color in the face (and extremities)
  • Display distortion on the left side of the face
  • Tighten the lips
  • Tilt the head forward (tucking the chin)
  • Blade the body (think fighting stance)
  • Stop talking
  • Rock back and forth from heels to toes 

Hopefully you will never be in a situation in which you must deal with a violent individual.  But you must be aware of the signs as a precautionary measure.  Persuasive skills are important in verbal de-escalation of situations.  Verbal de-escalation can begin as soon as we encounter people; we give them no reason to be angry, and/or we work to disarm them if they are already angry.  Keep in mind that once someone has escalated to the final stage of anger, i.e. violence is imminent, logical thinking in the pre-frontal cortex of his brain is taking a back seat to what is often referred to as the lizard brain, which controls fight or flight.  The aggressor is most likely experiencing an adrenaline dump into his system and is beyond the reach of reason.  If this is the case, you must make your own fight or flight decision.

One thing that is not mentioned in the above excerpt is the idea of controlling personal space.  Monitoring your little bubble is extremely important.  Be wary of encroachers, and keep in mind that when men attack women, they tend to engulf them.  Be especially alert if people rush up to you in a public space and ask you unusual questions, as this could be an orchestrated distraction to set you up for an accomplice to rob you, or something even worse.

Seeing the warning signs and avoiding danger are keys to being a hard target.  And, as an instructor of mine once said, “You can win 100 percent of the fights you are not in.”  Amen to that.

COMBAT Hard Blog is back!

Making updates to the blog and cleaning house.  Will be up and running in the near future…