The Strategy: Rural/Urban

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November 24, 2013
VIDEO: Grozny
November 25, 2013

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There was a good series of comments veering towards urban defensive fighting in the post ‘Gear, Guns….What’s Missing? On a  general note, I am impressed by the high level of the commenters that I am seeing right now on this blog. Please keep it up.

The point being discussed was the ability of a small force to hold up and attrit a large force in urban fighting. The other point was the need to be able to conduct limited urban assault operations. Sure. Let’s look at that:

Firstly, I’m not telling you that you don’t need to know how to conduct urban operations. I am saying that you should concentrate on rural operations as a strategy (more in a bit) and also that you should get the basics squared away before you move on to other techniques, such as urban assault. So, let’s concentrate on light infantry rural basics. If you can get those drills down, then you have the basics. Those basics, such as fire and movement and flanking attacks,  very easily translate to any further training you want to do in urban  operations.

However, when looking to move to urban operations, you need to train in the right way, whether that is defensive or offensive in your intent. You need to stay away from the ‘SWAT/CQB/Hostage Rescue/Tacti-cool stuff.

Really, urban operations are a light infantry specialization, just like jungle warfare, that you can train in once you have the basics. You then add this kind of operation to your skill-set. But don’t try and get to it until you have fully trained in the basics.

It is very likely, if you are engaged in any kind of offensive operation, that you  may have to assault a building, small cluster of buildings, a farm complex or enemy camp. If you are to do so, you will conduct the raid based on all the sound principles of a light infantry raid (camp attack). You have to take account of the need to breach and enter buildings, conduct fire support from building to building, and move up to and into buildings, from one to another. Any fighting in such an environment adds another dimension. If you haven’t trained in it, it will quickly go to a cluster.

If you think for one moment that this is the same as a dawn door-kicking raid, or a SWAT raid, then you are sadly mistaken. It is the application of sound mechanics and sequencing, in  order to suppress, move to, breach, enter, and clear each subsequent objective. Unless you have time to rehearse, as well as floor plans, there is no real forward planning once you breach and enter a building. You must do so with speed, flexibility, violence, surprise if possible (choice of breach point along with violence of breach), and a huge amount of aggression. Leadership and communication is vital, with squad leaders firing assault teams into the next room on the fly in order to clear the floor, and other squads coordinated outside the objective building suppressing depth and mutually supporting buildings.

Regarding the ability for a small group to defend an urban area and inflict massive attrition on an attacking force (Grozny was used as an example): True. But you will also suffer casualties. If you adopt a fight-back to a strong-point approach, you may well die in place. Better to adopt a fight-back and fade away approach, where you ultimately do not care whether you hold the place or not – you are simply doing it to inflict casualties on the attacking force. That is what happenned with the ‘Battle of Harrisonburg’ in Patriot Dawn. That’s why I put it in the book. (Yep: method to my madness).

Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises

If you are going to attempt to delay and attrit an enemy force in an urban area, here is a quick list of things to consider:

1) You need to be light on your feet, in small groups, falling back before the enemy advance. Ambush, snipe, hit, run.

2) Use of obstacles to channel the enemy into killing areas. Time to prepare in advance is vital.

3) Streets are kill zones. Prepare rat-lines to provide rapid egress routes from fire position to fire position, within buildings or otherwise in cover.

4) Prepare mutually supporting fire positions. Fire from places other than windows. Remove bricks, tiles, cut holes etc.

5) Booby traps to delay follow up.

6) Prepare buildings to slow down enemy advance/follow up. Examples: fill rooms with furniture except where you have rat-lines. Wire. Booby traps. Murder holes. Grenade chutes. Nail boards over stairs, throw oil over it. Fire. Use thermal smoke to obscure the battlefield.

7) You must use obstacle and weapon systems to stop vehicle/armored thrust up the main thoroughfares. Otherwise they will ‘thunder run’ it towards your strong points and take them out. Collapse buildings, dig holes, use piles of vehicles. You need plant machinery to properly do this!

8) Enemy use of artillery will create more obstacles for their movement. Shelter in basements.

9) Consider use of strong-points or the fade-away method. Do you need to hold it and die in place? If you plan to fall back to better defended fighting positions, they need to be prepared: sandbagged or otherwise protected positions within rooms, roofs shored up with beams etc. – fighting positions within rooms.

10) Hit, then run. Slow them down and kill them on obstacles. If you stay too long in a  firing position, and they bring up a thermobaric and put it into the house, you are toast.

That, above, is a few pointers on how you may want to fight an urban delay operation. Delay, not hold and die. Do you want second Fallujah coming down on your head? I didn’t think so.

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“He who defends everywhere, defends nowhere.”

Which leads me on to the strategy (not the tactics. Yes, if you want to be able to conduct limited urban assault and delay operations, that is good. So long as you grasped the basics and are able to move onto it. Oh hell, now I am going to have to build a kill house and do isolated building assault drills! Give me time!)

This is the strategy that I  would recommend if facing SHTF with the potential for tyranny from enemies foreign and/or domestic:

Abandon the urban areas. They are centers of gravity not only for massive killing by the Regime of the former entitlement types, and general rioting and killing, but they are also where they will concentrate force. The Regime will also need the main supply routes (MSR) between the urban areas.

Move your tribe to the rural areas with a supply of food and the ability to grow more. Move the families to protected areas.  But don’t get too comfortable – be able to pack up and move if the tides of war wash your way. If you look at the history of this kind of SHTF, such as Europe in the 1940’s, you will see the massive killing and tides of war that went on. Often it was only the ‘big battalions’ that survived.

Operate in vehicle unfriendly areas such as forest, swamps and mountains. Do not operate in ‘tank country’.

The Regime will ultimately need the rural areas for food and resources. This is where you are. This is where the guerrilla campaign is waged. Hit and run. The federalized forces will be vehicle based and flailing around in the boonies – although never underestimate them, if they get some good units together that will be very effective. Hit them on the MSRs and if they come to raid into your territory.

But the enemy force will be concentrated in urban areas? I ask you – so what? They have to come out to try and defeat you. They will establish FOB/COP locations, mainly trying to control areas and defend MSRs. That is where you concentrate force and conduct limited raids, as well as ambush on convoys moving on the MSRs.

Remember, due to the absence of morality in modern federalized murder teams, you can’t just pick up your musket and leave the farm for the front lines. Hellfire missiles will rain down into domestic terrorist houses. Villages will be surrounded by einsatzgruppen and rounded up/wiped out.  Families will be killed. You have to get them out and protect them. You must move them to a defended hidden area. It will be hot/cold/miserable. It is the long war.

What is to be hoped is that over time the Resistance will gain enough momentum to form larger units and move to the ‘big battalion’ model of full civil war. If that happens, offensive operations can be conducted to destroy the elites in their urban protected areas. Until then, operate in rural areas in small light infantry teams.

I encourage intelligent comments and development of my summary, and in  the meantime I will investigate the forum idea, where we can take it a  level farther.

Much of the detail on this is covered in ‘Contact!’

Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival

Live Hard.

Die Free.

Max

33 Comments

  1. F says:

    Reading and re reading and absorbing every single blog post you make.
    Thank you for taking the extensive time to write these articles!

    F

  2. justin says:

    Excellent information as usual! It amazes me how many “preppers” have all the logistics and gear, but no training. But yet you mention to them the need to train as a team and they look at you like you have a third eyeball and spout off how great they are with a rifle. Even former military. As an airborne infantryman with Iraq under my belt it is very obvious to me how even combat experienced individuals need to re train for this sort of light fighter environment.

  3. Chuck says:

    Max,

    We’re in full agreement on the following:

    1. The need to master the basics before attempting to specialize (e.g., MOUT)

    2. It is indeed preferable to use MOUT as a way to bleed the enemy rather than attempt to hold ground. See Grozny ’95 when the Chechens hammered the Russians at first, but then got bogged down trying to hold the city and especially the Presidential Palace and got hammered in turn by the Russian’s superior airpower and indirect fire (especially rockets!) and then exploited with dismounted infantry operating in small units (where have I heard that before?)

    3. That SWAT/LE/”tacticool” is not applicable to the needs of the armed citizen in general and to light infantry MOUT/FIBUA in particular.

    I don’t think those points can be over-emphasized.

    Some more general thoughts:

    Re: strategy vs. tactics: it’s a pretty basic rule that without a strategy tactics won’t get you very far. However, assuming some sort of broad strategic framework was reached among the interested parties here, and we assume that tactically, we’re focused on light infantry skills, it is necessary to connect the two. This is what’s generally known as the operational level of war. For example, in ’96 the Chechens decided to re-take Grozny from the Russians. At this point the occupation of, and security for, the city had been relegated primarily to internal security forces (MVD, FSB, etc.) equivalent to DHS and other militarized Federal law enforcement (and their state and local minions). So the Chechens used infiltration by small units to invade the city and then seized key points and cut off and isolated others such that the Russian paramilitaries were defeated in detail and/or bypassed and cutoff. My point with this example is that while I agree with your general strategy of operating from the rural areas and selecting terrain that is advantageous to light infantry in small units, and then raiding and ambushing along the Feds’ LOCs and bases, it will be necessary at times to go on the offensive in order to disrupt them and keep them off balance.

    Two factors would make the regime vulnerable to large-scale raids deep in urban enclaves:

    1) Following your strategy, they will be fixated on securing the MSRs and providing force protection for the FOB/COP system.

    2) They will be spread extremely thin (huge country, many cities, not enough troops) and will rely heavily on paramilitary police to do much of the day-to-day security work while the regular military focuses on named operations going after the insurgents where they live, etc.

    In other words, in such a scenario, the insurgents would need to take the fight to the enemy in order to keep the Regime forces off balance or face being hunted and having insurgent safe havens systematically eliminated.

    • Max Velocity says:

      Excellent. May I suggest, If such a level of organization and training could be reached; regional strategic SOF resistance groups to achieve such deep urban raids. You gotta train for that stuff….

      • Chuck says:

        Agreed. Lots to do, and so little time.

        • Hingle McCringleberry says:

          I agree with you Chuck, I don’t foresee too many troops or LEOs remaining at their posts if they were ordered to go to war against their own people. Such mass desertion and distrust of remaining forces would require the powers-that-be to rely mainly on the support of loyalist irregulars, consisting mainly of the Free Shit Army, criminals, and freed convicts. If this were to transpire, then the fight for freedom might be mostly irregulars vs. irregulars, with comparable weapons/equipment capabilities. In such a scenario, it might be possible to lay siege to hostile towns/cities, rather than assault them. At the beginning of this nightmare scenario, the loyalists will have an overwhelming numerical advantage, which is why I think siege operations will be necessary.

          I certainly agree with Max that light infantry training and SUT are essential to know and practice. but it might not hurt to learn how to properly construct trenches either! I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this Mr. Velocity.

          • Max Velocity says:

            Trenches! I’m all about trenches! When did trenches become not part of the ‘light infantry concept’ 😉

          • F says:

            Excellent Points well taken.
            regards Hingle..

            I do respectfully disagree w/ your point that the equipment would be equal then if a tyranny relies on poorly trained paramilitaries, I am fairly certaint they would still get lots of good gear.
            Only they wouldnt know how to use it properly.

          • Hingle McCringleberry says:

            To Max: Or fighting holes, either way. Just something to shield one from fire whilst besieging. I look to the Siege of Alesia for ideas, where a two way defensive plan may be necessary.

            To F: I was just simplifying my scenario, because I think that mass desertion of troops and LEOs would result in a hefty amount of gear-theft and sabotage. The deserters would certainly know how to use what they took, but might not have the needed fuel or materials to operate them for long. Pilfered tanks and helis would be cool to have, but how long can they be used by a largely irregular resistance force without a really good supply train? Perhaps it wont matter if a war only lasts weeks or months, but hardware might be hard to come by after years. Which is why I believe that they key to victory over FSA-Loyalists is to have better trained fighters with better tactics (obviously), and to keep a conflict as SHORT as possible so that the aforementioned liberated gear can be most effectively used. Also because the US cant afford a long civil war.

  4. Philip says:

    So much great information between the original post and the responses!

    My only thought on the SWAT/LE/Tacticool training is this: While we all agree that abandoning urban/suburban locations ASAP is the best way to go, what about the time before that happens? What if you’re one of the first patriots to have your door kicked in at dawn? Build that kill house, Max, but use it to train patriots in how to defend against a typical SWAT/LE/DHS assault: how to see them coming, how to booby-trap the approaches, how to prepare for exiting your home while under attack, E&E, etc. Just my two cents. Keep up the great work!

    • Max Velocity says:

      Don’t be at home. Or be outside in a fire position. Easier said than done, in the early stages, I know. What if they come for you tonight?

      • Philip says:

        I live in a fairly rural area, but if I was on their radar and they came for me tonight, I’d be screwed. Yes, I have a lot of work ahead of me, probably more than many people reading your blog. I’m working on making some of those changes nearly every day. Last night was teaching a friend how to clean her pistol. Today is more PT (groan!) and thinking about ways to harden my house against dawn raids. My goal is to have a BOL that’s completely unknown/hidden, but I don’t think there’s time left to accomplish that before the fun and games start. In the interim, I keep an INCH bag ready.

    • Hingle McCringleberry says:

      Or fighting holes, either way. Just something to shield one from fire whilst besieging. I look to the Siege of Alesia for ideas, where a two way defensive plan may be necessary.

  5. Revpatriot says:

    This is very good info. What are your thoughts on organized low profile teams operating in urban areas? Hit and run tactics to disable and disrupt then fade back into the population. Understandably you would need very tight opsec and the support of your neighbors. Maybe just teams keeping tabs on the activities of the activities in the urban area.

    • Hingle McCringleberry says:

      I think urban areas are where resistance would mainly take the form of spying, sabotage, and targeting killings, although cameras make such ops more difficult (but not impossible). Think stealthy harassment. Don’t forget soft harassment either, It would be funny to see a friendly spy write graffiti like “Lt Jones is a douchebag!” in the hopes of sowing disorder in the enemy ranks, I heard that the CIA did stuff like that before the 2003 invasion of Iraq (no idea if the stories are true, but they were hilarious).

  6. John says:

    First, spot on post as usual Max. Cant say there’s anything you said that I disagree with. Its been my long held position, that having exposure and training time in many different area’s of fighting, (CQB/SWAT, MOUT, etc…) are all important to have. The problem is, when people focus exclusively on one of those particular area’s, and forgo the kind of training that you espouse and offer. That, is where the focus should be.
    CQB/SWAT training is vital for the armed citizen, especially when it comes to defending your home from armed intruders. But it shouldn’t be your PRIMARY focus and what you set up all of your gear and equipment around. One key area that I feel people overlook, is the other side of the coin in training, and that is, how do you DEFEND against someone using CQB/SWAT style tactics against you in your home. That should receive just as much focus as being the one kicking in the door.
    That all said, I’m in 100% agreement, and have been trying to tell people for a couple of years, exactly the things you point out.

  7. Former Sapper says:

    Although I linked the video of Grozny I do think that the premise of solely basing ones self in a single theatre is entirely wrong. If for example you’re fighting an aggressive foreign invasion or a hijacked government come tyrannical regime then you should be hitting them everywhere and everywhere but standing no where, you should absolutely make hill country, the urban centre and even the riverine environment yours to own and control.

    Also as the above experts has mentioned MOUT/FIBUA/FISCH are all valid you need your light infantry basic training completed before you move on to the real cool shit. Should you decide that 100% infantry is not for you completely then look at the role of the assault pioneer on the battlefield, a person can accomplish a lot with some a truck, chains, chainsaw and roles of different types of wire (see also: abbattis, wire obstacles, trench work etc obviously foregoing the explosives element unless you’re licensed to do so)

  8. alan w. mullenax says:

    A good book to get the feel, “Fire In the Streets” The Battle for Hue.

    And while it’s all well and good to to get to “the country”, I’ve got a feeling that a lot us ain’t gonna be able to before the whip comes down. Some will be able to fight their way out, some may have to be rescued, and some are just gonna slug it out in place.

    Anyhow, the book is sobering.

  9. Mt Top Patriot says:

    Small infantry units sure seems the way to go, and with success, has a lot going for it. Especially in the infancy of partisan warfare. I often try to consider the support aspects, such as food and essential supplies required to operate in the bush. While a few guys could subsist on foraging like hunt/trap/fish in a given area, most wild places support a finite population of meat critters. (Like a healthy deer can provide a few men a weeks food, plus useful fur/skins, and running a snare line is a very efficient use of time and manpower that can get you virtually every type of animal in a given area. But it can be hunted out in a couple of weeks. You have to move or range further and further.) I would reckon bringing this aspect of rural partisan operations up revolves around auxiliary support in these supplies, or more to the point, in the advent of opposing forces clearing the rural area you are in of indigenous civilians, adequate supply becomes more complex and added burden on operations. Truth is, living/fighting in the bush requires a lot of rich calories in order to remain a fit, healthy, and effective fighter.
    It appears from history of accounts of WWII Nazi and soviet strategy, was to strip the frontiers of every living soul. Something quite frankly, I would not put past a domestic regime attempting, especially with help of “invited” foreign “peace keeping” troops. Horrific as this technique is, it has merit for hose who are up against an insurgency.

    This makes the idea of preposition caches and a supply rat line essential. I suppose as the N. Vietnamese ran as an example, or Gen. Washington having a tough time with his supplies/materiel.

    Guess the question is, how best to keep steps ahead of regime forces, not just fighting wise, but logistically. Is re-supply via ambush of convoys, companies of op forces, or raids on various bases become holistically incorporated into small unit tactics/strategy?
    Moving from a given area of ops to another in part to acquire supplies? In course of “normal” fighting ops what can be expected to be scrounged from regime forces in regards to what would be a standard food/med/gear load out they normally keep on hand during ops?
    What is standard like for instance, a .mil platoon keep as ready on hand supply of MRE’s and combat medic supplies?
    Obviously, you can count on clothes gear and weapons.
    To my novice experience, food, med supplies, TP, water, etc are intangibles being I never scrounged off a squad or platoon after an ambush.

    My apologies for the long comment. It is just something that might be essential consideration.

    • Hingle McCringleberry says:

      One thing that really hasn’t been touched upon is impersonating your enemy in order to infiltrate, get supplies, etc. Dangerous, but might work if you are smart and ballsy enough.

    • QuietMan says:

      Hitting a site larger than a snap checkpoint will require a truck (or at least a lot of empty rucks) to haul out the loot. These “site exploitation bags” you see the tacticool guys wearing are for looks and/or a different mission profile. We had good results with GI laundry bags and EPW tags. Different profile, and I ain’t cool.

      There are a lot of variables, but there is also a lot of stuff. You’ll need a plan and rehearsal, similar to the Enemy Prisoner of War drill. You’ll have to clear weapons, organize loading, disable comm systems, have a “priority of scrounge”, designated teams, and onandonandon.

      A robust auxiliary will help. Hit, let the aux police it up (METT-TC and don’t forget they need security), and deliver the list and the stuff to their guy who runs it up the chain to the area command. Others may need it worse.

      OTOH, if you’re the first group to go hot in your AO, well, to the victors go the spoils. Just don’t loiter on the objective. If you can’t carry it, destroy it and repent later.

      Surf over to American Mercenary if you haven’t and look for some of his posts on this. That Mosby nails auxiliary development cold as well should come as no surprise.

  10. Red Forman says:

    MTP-

    You bring up a very interesting point. I think that the prevailing opinion is that those who would serve as the ‘auxillary’ will be left in their homes unmolested and unharmed. But as you note, history speaks to the contrary. It is generally the practice of tyrants – whether from without or from within – to decimate the civilian population in order to consolidate their power through attrition and intimidation.

    One of the more notable examples was the Communists in the old USSR starving the farming/rural populace by confiscating crops for urban areas.

    Though many believe that they will be able to ‘live off the land’ by hunting currently available game animals, I have always believed – like you – that the existing populations of game will be gone almost overnight as a result of human predation.

    Great food for thought, so to speak.

  11. Mt Top Patriot says:

    You guys sure have a lot of good points.
    Tell you what, comes to grub in the winter, you can’t eat enough out in the boonies. Tell you why. I was caught up in a early november blizzard along the northern border in Maine, temps went from 30’s to 15 below in hours, snow thigh high, deeper in drifts. Was 20 miles from my truck due working around 3 lakes and a river between them. Had a med alice pack and old Ruger 44 carbine, sleeping and bivy bag, wooby and 2 poncho’s, 5lb slab dry cure salt bacon, a pecan pie, 10lbs jerked moose meat, 18 inch camp knife, canteen/cup, filter, sm fry pan, and some beans condiments and rice, 2 lbs brown sugar, hot chocolate and a quart of jim beam with dark maple syrup mixed in. Shot 2 spruce grouse too. Mighty good with bacon! Took me 3 days to hoof it back, too cold to sleep, only rest till the dawn. I ate everything but the beans.

    Lot of food 1 guy 3 days.

    Point is I couldn’t eat enough. Lost 20 lbs too. It was hard ass humping through that snow and hills. Good thing I had the bacon, pie and jim beam, it kept me warm, warm in my mind to, so I stayed motivated, because of the fat rich calories.
    To this day I love bacon with all my heart!

    I ain’t embellishing one bit. You need good hearty basic gut lumber and natural animal fat, more than you can believe without experiencing it. I think the fat is the most important. Protein was second, sugars not so. But the bourbon gave me fast metabolic energy, hardly felt high from it. I’m sure the maple syrup helped some in that respect.

  12. QuietMan says:

    “Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.”

    • Mt Top Patriot says:

      Dude, when you are out in that kind of cold 24 hrs a day humping up and down those ridge lines you eat like there is no tomorrow. Funny everything tastes so much better.

      It was a great experience. Not that I chose to do it, other than not having the luxury of time to build a proper bush shelter because of the difficulties of snow and having to get out before food supply ran out, I learned how unforgiving it is when faced with severe winter conditions. You definitely have to build a proper shelter in winter, with a hearty fire. Each night, I build an Adirondack lean-to, with a full height fire wall on the open end, a rock fire pit, and a sleep bench off the ground at the back wall. Use abundant small diameter white pines common up in the north country. As it was each night I picked out a fir or spruce, cut it 3/4’s way through waist high, bend it down so where the snow was cleared off to the forest duff, so the top pointed down at an angle, trim off the vertical branches, sling a poncho over it, put as much thatch as I could gather over that, and as bedding too. Pretty cosy, make a fire at the opening too. 12 hours of dark it’s nice to have the light from your fire.

      I think 2 guys with good axes and shovels could make a dug-out, log hybrid that is fairly well concealed. Use Max’s MVT shields over the entrance area and latrine. Find a low knoll a bit below the elevation of surrounding ridges to build it for observation purposes. 4 or more guys sharing would help keep it reasonably warm if you chink the structure and use a MVT shield as a flap door and such.

      Speaking of the MVT shield, if they block such a high amount of infrared radiation, they have to have very good cold weather insulating properties for shelters and such.

      What you say Max?

  13. Quietus says:

    Just a little micro into your macro point #4, that of constructing firing positions and loopholes in brick-and-mortar structures: This is no easy thing, a person can’t wish a firing port into a multi-layer masonry wall.

    Adequate tools, and the people who can use them, are required (this is leading toward a prior reach-out, before firing ports are wanted in a desperate way.)

    The selective demo of brick-and-masonry structures requires some talent, a fair amount of physical fitness, and good tools. Your favorite book about Stalingrad does not get into the inside-to-out construction of discrete loopholes.

    Sledgehammers by themselves won’t make it through modern masonry buildings, the walls are too thick. Hammer-driven long masonry chisels are needed. Have you seen one lately? Pros use expensive electric tools for precise (read, not too-visible from the outside by the other people) making of holes in brick structures.

    As urbanites try to develop a survivable community, they would be served well by searching out and integrating people who have demo tools and skills into their tribe. Most everybody knows a couple of people who have experience in demoing masonry walls while leaving a small footprint … right?

    This is just a small point, to try to illustrate the problems of urban work. MV is right on, get out of Dodge, it is harder to work there than it is to work in the woods.

    A person does not know how hard it is to make a small hole in a brick wall, until he has done it some and gotten thoroughly tired of making such holes for good money.

  14. […] to collapse and SHTF, but not to stay and fight the hordes. I recently wrote a post ‘The Strategy: Rural/Urban‘ and within that post I gave some pointers about how we can win the upcoming nastiness. I […]

  15. […] woods, hills, mountains, maybe even some urban when it fits. I wrote these posts on it: ‘The Strategy: Rural/Urban‘ and ‘The Ingredients for your Victory: Tactics + […]