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:
- Knowledge of firearms for personal protection
- Knowledge of map reading and navigation
- Ability to recognize terrain features and identify them on a map
- Understanding of the principles of cover and concealment
- Understanding of route selection and movement principles
- 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:
- Detailed planning
- Realistic rehearsals
- Thorough reconnaissance
- Positive control by leadership
- 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!