An Unconventional Patrolling Option
First off, I’ll say that I decided to write this post because I was looking at WRSA as I do every day and saw a link over to a post by Mountain Guerrilla HERE on ‘Patrolling for Preparedness’. It’s really good stuff and I could not agree more.
(Along with the video of Civil War veterans doing the Rebel Yell. Awesome!)
I notice that in comments a lot of people reference and link to both myself and JM/Mosby (i.e. Mountain Guerrilla), tying us in together. Although we have never actually met and come from different backgrounds, I like to think that between the two of us, and other contributors out there, we are providing needed information to help with the coming unpleasantness.
It is in that vein that I would like to add to Mosby’s patrolling piece. In the narrative he points out very succinctly the mindset of many preppers, which is a handicap: The whole barricading yourselves in the homestead, growing tomatoes, and beating off marauders with precision rifle fire at long range, while leaving the actual fighting to ‘others.’ It is that aspect that I am picking up on and hoping to help with.
When writing ‘Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival’ I struggled with this – how to move the manual and mindset from the protection of family and homestead and show the need for tactical teams for light infantry style operations (light infantry being the basis and building blocks of unconventional warfare/resistance operations). There is a point in the book where I move from family/group oriented protection operations to tactics for use by tactical teams in the assumption that the family is safe in a protected area while the teams go out and do what needs to be done. In the novel ‘Patriot Dawn;The Resistance Rises’ I take this further by describing a fictional near future scenario in which this could be undertaken. These books are there for you to learn from.
The concept that I would like to introduce today is that of the GDA patrol. This is, as usual with my posts, also covered in ‘Contact!’ in detail. GDA stands for Ground Domination Activity. This is not a standard patrol that you would find in a doctrine manual/FM, unless you are reading about British Army experiences in Northern Ireland. The reason that I am bringing up this subject is because I think that it has a great deal of use to a prepper family/group in a retreat as a form of defensive patrolling. I hope that this concept would bridge that gap between a purely static defensive mentality and a refusal to get up to speed to go and conduct actual patrolling.
The GDA patrol came about from the need to protect isolated SF bases in Northern Ireland. It then moved on and evolved to other operations including places like Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a local short range security patrol.
GDA patrols used to be called MBP patrols which stand for ‘mortar baseplate patrols’, coming from the tendency of terrorist groups to attack SF bases with improvised mortars. These would often be set up inside a parked van, pre-angled and set off on a timer. However, these GDA patrols are also general security patrols. Such patrols would be conducted by the element assigned to base protection duties. The idea would be to cover a footprint around the base out to the range of effective enemy attack, whether that be from mortars or small arms fire.
Now, conducting GDA patrols is in itself a risk, if you think about it. If you set patterns then the patrols themselves can be targeted, whether that be from sniper fire or from IED. It’s a game of cat and mouse, with terrorists constantly observing and targeting. To enhance the survivability of patrols, leaders would ensure that routines and patterns were not set. There should be no such thing as a ‘routine patrol’. Routes, times, numbers, formations, compositions, vehicle patrols, foot patrols or vehicle/foot combined patrols would all be mixed and matched to enhance the survivability of the patrol.
By means of example, I have commented before about the preppers great fear of being targeted at their property by a sniper. It was a similar thing with GDA patrols. There are other things that you can do to help that are beyond the scope of this article – vision screens etc. – but one thing that you should remember is that the terrorist in Northern Ireland is not like the terrorist in the Middle East. He is not a fanatic and does not want to die. Similarly, anyone targeting you post-collapse also does not want to die. One of the conditions that was required before an attack in Northern Ireland was that the terrorist would be able to successfully conduct the attack (clearly invariably a hit and run style attack to kill/main, not to seize ground) and GET AWAY. Many attacks were never prosecuted because of the inability of the bad guy to identify the locations, activities or intent of all the members of the GDA patrol. If the escape route is not confirmed clear, it is no-go. Therein lies the weakness and conversely the key to the tactics to defeat them.
I also cover ‘Satellite Patrolling’ in Contact, which again is not a conventional patrolling technique and evolved for this express purpose – to have multiple teams all moving on an axis, establishing overwatch and the like. This means that the guy with the sniper rifle, or the trigger man on the IED, will not press the tit on the bomb unless he knows where all your teams are and can be sure that his egress route is clear. This also goes bigger than the simple GDA patrol, to where there will be other patrolling activity going on in depth, in general disrupting enemy freedom of movement, and making it increasingly likely that they will be caught in a dragnet after initiating an attack. Such sophistication of operations will be largely outside the scope for a prepper group.
What does this mean for the prepper? If you have a retreat location, or wherever you are holed up, whether that be remote rural or even urban, you need to move yourself away from the purely defensive mindset. If you end up having to move locations, or forage, then you had better be familiar with tactical movement/patrolling either dismounted or in vehicles, or a combination. If you are not moving location, you need to consider the idea of GDA style local security patrols. This would involve moving out within a smaller footprint, probably no more than a kilometer or two from your location depending on whether it is rural or urban and depending on the available fields of fire for weapons such as sniper rifles to target your location.
If you are not out there and around and about your land, then what is to stop the guy moving into a hide and waiting for you to come out of your cabin for your morning piss, and putting one through your chest?
But numbers is a problem you will say! Yes, it may very well be. The kind of light infantry style patrols that Mosby and I talk about really rely on small teams to accomplish. So yes, numbers are an advantage. TRAINED numbers. But it may just be husband and wife and the kids at your retreat. And the tomatoes need growing. Well, if you are to go out, then you need to protect the home base. For a family, the wife needs to be back at the cabin protecting it and the kids. The husband (or the other way around, if that is the way it is for you, for whatever reason) needs to be conducting random security patrols around the property and AO. This is where you will want to consider force multipliers, which are largely outside the doctrine of a military FM, such as trained dogs to help with early warning/defense or even the actual patrolling activity itself.
Now, such GDA patrols are only limited by your imagination. You don’t want to be walking around the same perimeter trail at the same time every day. You can even limit the actual movement that you do on these patrols, in favor of greater observation. If you have suitable ground, then move on a covered route and set up temporary observation positions covering approaches or potential hide areas that enemy may use. If you do so, there is great potential for disrupting any planned attack on your location, and at least getting early warning. Yes, it will take you away from tending the tomatoes. That’s what kids and elderly relatives are are for, right? And the XBox won’t work post-collapse anyway.
A possible example is if you are holed up in an urban area, perhaps a largely vacant high rise. GDA patrolling here would take on a different form – open streets are potential killing areas for snipers, so you will have to learn to creep about through ratlines in buildings, sewers and the like. Patrolling here would also be different. It would be more like movement between vantage points, or observation posts if you like. You would creep through routes you had made within the buildings, using stairwells and holes smashed in apartment walls for example, to various OPs you had established. Or just various vantage points. You could then observe from these and then move on, remaining concealed and out of the open streets. If you had more numbers, you could then think about establishing permanent OPs covering approach routes to your building and then be the ones covering the streets with potential fire. Potential fire that would only be used on positively identified hostiles, not shooting the mother going to collect water or barter for her babies food, as per Sarajevo!
For those worried about the lack of numbers, I did a post on ‘The Lone Wolf’ HERE.
I believe that this article points out very succinctly the danger of relying too much on Military Doctrine or Dogma. Yes, if you have the time and patience etc. then read and digest the Army FMs then they will provide a utility for you. Perhaps less so if you are not prior military and end up confused by them. I don’t think it is useful for prior military types to simply trot out doctrine. It has to be something that is understood and applicable, cherry picking as necessary. Yes, I am partially a result of formal training in military doctrine but that is tempered by operational experience and also differing experience, such as running low and high profile operations in Iraq /Afghanistan in civilianized vehicles. Now, the Ranger Handbook doesn’t cover that, does it…
That was my purpose in writing ‘Contact!’: To bring a manual that is easily understood whether you are a civilian or have prior military service, and also include experiences and TTP’s within it that are not learned from classic doctrine in FMs.
I was accused by a particularity ignorant couch commando on an Amazon review about ‘Patriot Dawn’ of simply trotting out the Ranger Handbook. Newsflash: I’ve never read it! I downloaded it on Kindle once and opened it, and rapidly shut it again once I saw the content. I served as a British Army Parachute Regiment platoon leader which is light infantry/airborne forces. I have completed the BritMil equivalent of Ranger School, which for me was the infantry Platoon Commander’s Battle Course. Doctrine is standardized across NATO, so once I saw the Handbook, I knew what it was about. The Rangers are cool, but reading the Ranger Handbook may not be the best thing for you.
As an example of that, I have a Ranger Battalion friend who is very critical of Ranger School, simply because his experience is mainly from current ops in Afghanistan. His opinion is that the drills taught at Ranger School, the classic small unit tactics, are outmoded and more applicable to the Vietnam era, to paraphrase him. I both agree and disagree for our purposes. Yes, TTPs have developed for current operations, but sometimes they are really only applicable to those environments. Rangers do have to be retrained in specific Battalion SOPs for current operations. Yes Ranger School is primarily a leadership school using classic tactics as a vehicle for leadership development. However, given the ‘Vietnam’ aspect I personally believe that these more classic light infantry tactics are what we need to be thinking about, and training in, when contemplating potential domestic Resistance operations against enemies both foreign and domestic. But cherry pick what is relevant from both the FMs and current SOPs.
A Note on the Northern Ireland thing: So, some of you think I’m ‘one of the bad guys’ for having served there. You like to sing Irish rebel songs and think that you will be of the same ilk when the hammer falls here. Well, oddly, there is more than you know taken from tactics used by both sides included in my novel and manuals. However, whatever the ‘freedom fighter’ idealism tells you, the reality is that both the loyalist and republican sides in the Irish Troubles were mostly no more than violent criminal gangs utilizing drug smuggling, violence and intimidation. These guys were terrorists, not freedom fighters. There is a line between being a resistance fighter, attacking targets that are considered legitimate Regime elements, and conversely detonating huge bombs in market places, murdering and mutilating innocent people going about their business. Not only is Northern Ireland a democratic part of the United Kingdom, but the terrorist tactics used are disgusting. Perhaps ‘back in the day’ there was a more courageous aspect to engaging with security forces, and we were still often engaged with small arms fire and had to deal with IEDs and booby traps, which is legitimate as we were part of the security force apparatus. But the main tactic was big bombs on the civilian population. I grew up making sure the curtains were closed at night and checking under the car in the morning.
If the hammer falls here, there are two things that I will not do: 1) engage in terrorist activities. I am prepared to fight a foreign or domestic enemy utilizing unconventional warfare tactics. I will not, for example, detonate bombs indiscriminately; I will never be a terrorist. 2) I will not pack my kit and ship out to fight with the Resistance if my family is not in a protected location, secure from reprisals. How many of you have thought about that?
Live Hard, Die Free.