Drilling Down on the Concept of Group Defense in a Threat Environment

The purpose of this post is to look deeper into the concept of group defense in a high threat or collapse environment, by beginning the discussion and then throwing it open to cooperation. Many minds are greater than one.

This is a hard one, for a number of reasons. Those reasons are the aspects which tend to be behind people’s assumptions for what they are planning for. I have said before that you cannot truly anticipate what is coming down the pike, but you can prepare for it by training the mind and body in the way of the warrior mindset, added to which you can purchase weapons, equipment and supplies and make preparations in a common sense manner, in order to anticipate likely preparation scenarios. But such is the complexity of this subject that I don’t even know where I am going with this post even as I sit here tapping away at the keyboard. What I am going to do is raise some points for discussion.

The “collapse” – we literally don’t even know. At various points in time we ‘feel’, or assess (guess), that some things are more likely than others. For example, right now I would tell you that the most likely threat to civil society and the rule of law is the 2024 election, whichever way it goes, and the increasingly revolutionary intent and actions of various groups, and the follow on effects of whichever way the election goes. There is even talk that the election itself may not be allowed to happen. But none of that may come to pass. It may all be fine just as other potential flash-points have been fine in the past, the country being fairly resilient to civil disorder. Maybe something else will come up. Maybe actual war or cyber attack, or maybe social unrest will lead to one or the other anyway? The point being we just don’t know.

And this is really the point – that being that we do not know what the collapse will taste like. That leads to my main point – that of defense of group in a collapse situation. Many take the ‘prepper’ route of self-sufficiency and creating a static defensive location, preferably as hidden or remote as possible. That has many merits, but I can tell you that from a tactical standpoint, going static, if your position is identified by an enemy of sufficient threat and determination, will result in your annihilation. Add to that the fact that many people will talk all day about trenches and bunkers and all that, but probably lack the sufficient numbers to mount a defensive operation including the necessary surveillance and observation posts in outlying positions, plus effective security patrolling etc. Just being at a farmhouse with trenches is not going to cut it. Don’t get me wrong – we all have to live somewhere and making defensive preparations and fighting positions at your farmhouse, should the threat reach those sort of levels, is clearly a great idea. But have a plan B.

Add to that the fact that most people are not in the situation where they can live remotely and have such preparations in place. We have to live our lives in the now, and most people live in closer proximity to others, including suburbia etc. Given that civil unrest can lead to a cascade of increasing threats and more severe circumstances, such as the grid failing, there is nothing necessarily wrong with having the defended farmhouse as an option, but things have to go through a lot of grades of severity before you are going to be hunkered down with a group in such a location. Also recall what I wrote above – if your position is identified, despite hiding in the boonies and using anonymity as much as you can (and I hope it works for you), once your position is discovered and they come for you with sufficient force and determination, you will die there in place.

If we face a collapse that goes through various graduations of severity, it is not likely to immediately go from the one extreme of where we sit today, to the next where you are hunkered in a bunker. So we have to deal in the meantime with those shades of grey where life gets more risky but we are still trying to pay the bills. Are we not there right now? Add to that the clear fact that it is the absolute challenge of every warrior citizen to find others who follow the warrior mindset, have effective training and tactical capabilities (real, not imagined) and who can be trusted to form a group with. Most people out there simply do not make the grade of being under consideration for going into a group with. So even where people have the farmhouse, they mostly do not have a realistic defensive force. Yes, people may have ‘tribe’ but the worth of many of these either as a fighter, or even as a productive member of a self-sufficient community, is questionable in this day and age.

What if America still looks like it does today, but political violence is increased dramatically. Perhaps accompanied by all the attendant stupidity such as division by identity politics. You are, until another marker is reached, still going to work. Your wife is going to work in another car having dropped off the kids at school. You are going to the store. This is clearly concealed handgun and situational awareness time. Avoidance of places where the riots and gatherings happen. Will home invasions increase, attacks against identified ‘right wing’ supporters? This is a very much a ‘South Africa’ situation with high levels of crime and increased home defense and travel security measures. You can add any number or graduations or 1001 scenarios here – the point being not to get bogged down in tactical arguments based off of specific assumptions, which may turn out to be false.

If that lawlessness extrapolates and becomes more serious (it is of course all ‘serious’ if you are facing an attack in any circumstances) then we may be moving from ‘South Africa’ to ‘Rhodesia.’ Rhodesia is a great example of hardened farmhouses and vehicles, with horrific farm attacks, but still in a situation where you are not hunkered down, but still trying to go about your business in a high threat situation. At this point you are not hunkered in a bunker, but you have to be ready for extreme survival fighting if it comes to you. I use the Rhodesia example in terms of ‘farm net’ where radio communication may be used to call either security forces or neighboring farms to your aid in an attack, but this may also play out in your suburban neighborhood, if targeted for an attack. Maybe we could see ‘flash mobs’ but much more serious where raids are conducted on neighborhoods? Perhaps something along the lines of the troubles in Northern Ireland with sectarian attacks, or even as far as the Balkans?

All these are situations where you are trying to go about your business and pay the bills. Yes, strategic relocation is going to happen, perhaps another factor that will exaggerate sectarian / political divides, I’m surmising. But what it would mean is that you would need to ensure that you and your people are trained and taking self-defense very seriously. This is where you need to be routinely armed and able to fight your way to your battle gear in order to deal with serious aggression. Most people, suburbanites, those who work, unless retired and wealthy, are not hunkered in a bunker at this point.

What adds to potential complications is the potential for those who are hell-bent on ‘fundamentally transforming’ America into something other than a Constitutional Republic. This is where we see (more) unconstitutional laws and taxation coming down the pike, this is where the 2A is fatally attacked. This would be the time when Patriots and those who have sworn (and will uphold) their Oaths to the Constitution are pitted against those in Law Enforcement who would follow unlawful orders to attack citizens for such purposes as confiscating weapons, taking unreasonable taxes, etc (all taxation is unreasonable, especially property tax!) This is also a situation where we are not in a ‘lights out’ collapse but the country would be teetering on the edge of total lawlessness. Notice that I don’t say ‘Civil War’ because I have no idea what this even means in modern America. I can see political and social upheavals and an orgy of violence, but I don’t yet see organized / geographical sides fighting each other. A note on this: I constantly get perplexed when I see people talking about shooting people in a civil war, and I wonder: Who? Who are you going to shoot? Obvious aggressors who are attacking you and yours is one thing, but other than that? What are your rules of engagement? Democrats? Crazy Aunt Suzy who voted for Hillary and likes the idea of medicare for all? It’s all a little nuts. (That’s when I want to have that farm to go to and sit in my bunker while the stupidity rages around me).

What I have essentially said above is that there is a world of grey between right now, and hunkered in a bunker. Those grey situations could throw a serious amount of threat in your direction, not only yours, but other members of your family (wife / kids) who may not be as well trained or ready as you. You are also likely to be, in most cases, an individual with a family, with other trained fighters that you know at varying distances from you. You are not likely to be a formed group at this point, assuming you can even find suitable people. I always tell people that the two hardest things to do in combat are 1) evacuate a casualty under fire, and 2) locate the enemy. Perhaps the biggest challenge for a trained and prepared warrior citizen is finding quality people to team up with? Not far from likely, I think?

As a prepared individual, you are likely to have some amount of supplies for an emergency situation. We haven’t said yet that the trucks are no longer running to the distribution hubs, but if a chaos situation develops it is likely that at least short term shortages / brown / blackouts are going to occur. Those supplies are a lifeline but also a death sentence of they create too much of a static mentality. They may also be stored in a suburban home or slightly-rural property with a few acres. The ‘so what?’ of this is that you must be capable and prepared to move them. Not to be a refugee in the so often touted ‘bugging out’ scenario, but when you decide to move 20 miles out of suburbia to shack up with your tactical buddy who lives in an area less inclined to rioting….etc. The implied task of that is being able to move a decent amount of gear and conduct convoy operations to get from A to B. Perhaps you are going to gather a group and fortify a suburban or sub-division neighborhood?

The next point of this is that you may end up somewhere where you least expected, as the shit-storm blows up and violence rages, and you end up convoying out and shacking up in temporary (vacant) places, setting up temporary rest and defensive positions. This mobile approach, via necessity, means you lose the idea of having that perfect prepper bug-out location, but it also gives you flexibility and you are less likely to be fixed in place and reduced by a determined enemy. For those reading with nothing but assumptions hindering reading comprehension, I am not trying to say that this is a better idea – but it may be reality. I think the idea of a rural retreat has many advantages, one of them being a place to store a lot of supplies and also to perhaps be somewhat self-sufficient if a grey collapse turns into a full grid-down and there is no more food being supplied by truck.

But the flip side of that same advantage provides a static mentality where you would never want to leave what you have built. America has not suffered domestic war since the 1860’s and thus I think there is a tendency to be a little spoiled in assumptions over what you have and what you think you can keep should the country go up in flames. Property rights will go by-the-by with gangs roaming the place – you can have property rights if you can physically defeat those trying to take it from you. If your rural retreat just happens to be in the path of (insert scenario here) who wants to take it from you, then run or die. Now, you are mobile. The tides of war are remorseless. It’s yours, if you can keep it.

I have talked before about some of the crutches that people use when trying to justify poor tactical performance / ability. One of those is confusing ability in the performance of target shooting as a sport into a tactical capability. This appears closely tied in with the ‘porch sniper’ approach to home defense. Thus, so long as you have a capable precision shooter covering 360 degrees and all approaches, including dead ground / defilade, day and night, then you will be fine (sarcasm). Let me flip that: what if the enemy puts one, maybe two, capable sniper teams out in the woods at 1000 yards and starts picking you off, including the shooter you have stationed at the observation point? You have an identifiable position, but the enemy has 360 degrees to plan an approach and assault. Unless you are observing closely all the time, will you pick up that sniper as he stalks in at 1000? As mentioned above, do you have enough of a tactical force to man the required defensive rotation, including observation posts and security patrols? The purpose of those activities is to deter / detect such threats coming in at stand-off distances.

In a situation where rule of law is degrading at various rates of speed, and you have various dispersed groups of trained friends or group members, there has to be a different approach to group security than simply planning to hunker at a bunker. That may be part of the plan, or an option, with members planning to conduct limited bug-outs when the situation gets serious enough and they decide to not go to work anymore. You may even have a plan where members plan to flexibly go to one or the others houses depending on where threats manifest themselves. In this discussion we have focused purely on defense of family in 1001 potential grey collapse situations. We have not discussed what it would entail should there be an identifiable enemy of the Constitution who we had to go and fight. That is a different story but would probably require removal of families to safe locations. How the fighters organized and functioned would depend purely on the style and type of enemy threat in whatever situation came to pass.

Thus we have to move the conversation on from one dominated for the longest time by the ‘prepper gold standard bug-out location’ – not because it is wrong, or necessarily a bad idea, but it is likely impractical for many. It is also impractical in anything other than a full grid-down scenario, and does not take account of the necessity of many to be near places of work. A more dispersed standard with options for concentrating force / families at certain locations should it be needed, or alternatively calling for reinforcements / quick reaction force should one of the group be besieged at their home, is probably both more likely and more useful. This does not solve the problem of meeting and forming alliances with suitably trained and capable people, unless you select and go to training with specifically warrior-minded folks from established family / friend groups.

Such grey scenarios will also mean you will have to be on your tactical game in terms of being able to operate across the tactical spectrum, such as tactical mobility, and various environments such as rural and urban including CQB – you have to get beyond the idea that you can squat in a trench or on your porch to defend to your property line with pure sharpshooting skill. You must be able to operate and fight in complex environments. You may end up fighting in and around homes and structures, conducting tactical movement between locations, conducting patrolling, operating in the woods and deserts, and going so far as to conduct raid and ambush against identified hostile elements threatening your safe areas. In order to pull this off you need trained teams, from buddy pair up to squad plus, you need tactical knowledge, leadership, communication and teamwork skills, and the ability to coordinate and gather information to process intelligence. If you are not prior military combat arms with some real, current training, you have to get that training from somewhere that offers a genuine small unit tactics curriculum. You are going to be both your family’s Personal Protection Detail (PSD) and your own tactical protection force.

It is time to move the tactical conversation on from the tired cold war prepper / survivalist assumptions of a grid-down collapse and a remote rural self-sufficient retreat, to a more dynamic discussion of how to deal with threats in a grey collapse taking place around where we actually live and work today.


8 responses to “Drilling Down on the Concept of Group Defense in a Threat Environment”

  1. Sitting Duck Avatar
    Sitting Duck

    Thank you! I’m a farmer already growing lots of crops that would be a ripe target for a hungry horde in a total “Collapse” but the trials I continue to face in this time of plenty and peace is the subtle failure that still makes me and my property vulnerable. (Why I chose the name I did.) I have large fuel storage tanks, chemicals for agriculture, equipment (ATV are stolen all the time and as things get worse tractors, irrigation equipment and GPS has become the step up from catalytic converter thefts.) Even trees and firewood are resources that are targeted for ‘Redistribution’.
    We are still at the fence and security cameras stage but small units of drug users, “refugee” and other encampments are springing up only to someday take over homes and farms.
    Buy MVT books and if time/$ allow take classes if for no other reason than to recognize the training level and competency of those who may use small units against us, first.

  2. Short Stroke Avatar
    Short Stroke

    This is the right conversation to be having. A large number of people reading this, maybe the majority, are in the suburbs.

    If we are unwilling to leave the suburbs (which is the case for me, due to family and community ties), we should make it a priority to live next door to our trained community friends and family. Or at least on the same street or small neighborhood. Just as seconds and minutes matter when calling 911 for fire, medical or police assistance, our friends will be that assistance and we want a (mutual) quick reaction.

    Stay on the lookout for homes coming available, but settle to possibly downsize to make it work financially. Unless you want to put yourself at greater risk by taking on debt which you are less likely to be able to carry as incomes become shakier.

    The points on being mobile are helpful. It would be great to have an article on convoys in this context? Or even an in-person course.

  3. BrothersKeeper Avatar

    Thanks for this comprehensive and nuanced discussion. I am currently stuck in suberbia so I am trying to strengthen friendships within the neighborhood. I’m also trying to build food resiliency by getting to know as many local producers as possible. I think the point of being mobile is so key. Most of us grew up thinking we could build our bunker and we would be ok. One class at MVT will burst that bubble rather quickly. I’m doubling down on building tribe and team within my church and local friend group, even if I have to drag them kicking and screaming behind me. They will thank me later. Thanks again for investing your time, treasure and experience in us. I greatly appreciate it.

  4. Giuliano Avatar

    I think this discussion about gray scenarios in a collapse situation is very pertinent and realistic, I live in Brazil, a few weeks ago we faced catastrophic floods in the south of the country. Where more than 1 million people were affected and more than 200 thousand homes destroyed. In the first 7 days, the population itself had to carry out rescues, transport and provide security in the affected regions, the state took many days to react and when it arrived it generated more problems and bureaucracy than solutions. The result of this was a large number of attacks on homes and looting of commercial establishments, some prepared people with weapons decided to stay in their homes or businesses to defend their property, there were clashes, but many others who are also shooters or prepared warriors did not. They not applied their knowledge and did not carry weapons for fear of breaking the laws and being harmed by local authorities, so they ended up being frozen. There was no time, in many cases the roads were blocked so people not moved to farms or farms to protect themselves, many ended up moving to the homes of relatives and friends in nearby areas. My brother, who lives in a very affected city, has military training and participated in UN mission operations, he had to continue working during the day leaving his family at home, at night he stood guard protecting the houses in his neighborhood, this happened for 3 nights when there was no electricity. In the following days, 2 battalions of the armed forces arrived in the city, food was brought by helicopters and the highway was used as a landing strip for planes, a scene of war, the city today has 30 thousand refugees.

  5. backofbeyond Avatar

    Common sense as usual, Max.
    The Prepper wet dream discussions have become laborious to witness. Which battle rifle, which this/that, for whatever made up scenario.

    Hope all is well, it’s been a while. Just checking in

    John M

  6. wheelsee Avatar

    The media is full of “doomsday” scenarios, all of which are POSSIBLE. I have finite resources, so I have to focus on what is PROBABLE.

    We do this in our everyday lives. I drive a truck and 90% of my driving is highway. The MOST probable safety event for me is a collision with another vehicle or animal – so wearing a seatbelt is non-negotiable for me. I don’t carry vehicle extrication tools as the probability of needing is exceedingly low. WHEN I do go off-road, I add vehicle extrication tools as my probability of needing, while still low, is now higher.

    I adhere to the concept of 60-second boxes, 60-minute boxes, and 60-hour boxes.
    60-second boxes (labeled as such) – HAVE TO LEAVE RIGHT F’ING NOW (chlorine gas spill)
    60-minute boxes – tornado on path, refinery fire that would create problems if winds shift (depending on situation could be a 60-second situation)
    60-hour boxes – hurricane headed my way with eye of storm predicted over my house

    Notice that these tend to be nature, though man-made stuff does appear.

    Another way of looking at is probability v consequence. An airplane crash (at least historically) has a low probability but high consequence (death). Living behind enemy lines has a moderate-to-high probability of low-to-medium-to-high consequence (depending on your exact location and who your neighbors are).

    The more one can think through scenarios, the better one can be “prepared” for same. But don’t get locked into a solution where the situation is fluid.

  7. Tactical Tuna Avatar
    Tactical Tuna

    Max this is such a great blog post. This cuts right through the bullshit. I am extremely optimistic that as the threat levels increase, and they will, groups will organically emerge to counter these threats. As we study modern and historical conflicts, I am always amazed at the ingenuity that emerges in conflict. It’s in the American DNA.

  8. JackalToo Avatar

    EXCELLENT presentation of the variables of organizing…

    Great food for thought!

    Jack Lawson

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