‘Camping’ After the SHTF

This is an extract of some comments I made on a forum and the follow up. The background is that the envisaged scenario is more family survival in a WROL SHTF situation, rather than resistance operations against enemies ‘foreign or domestic’. See my earlier post on ‘tactical overnighting in the woods’ for a more operational point of view:

Just a few thoughts on how you may have to adapt your camping once the S has HTF.

Assuming you have bugged out somewhere and are camping, because we are talking civil breakdown and all that, we have to assume that there are potential bad guys out there. This will mean that your camping will have to take on a more tactical form. Without going into too great a detail, here are a few factors you may want to think about:

1. Location: pick a concealed location preferably without an obvious access route, allowing you observation of the approaches to your campsite. Try to not be with others, unless they are part of your group i.e. don’t be at a National Park campsite. Try to conceal your location. Avoiding trouble by using concealment is the best policy.

2. Light and noise discipline. No lights at night, keep the noise and goofing off down. This means no campfire at night, lamps etc. You are not camping, you are surviving in the woods. If they see your campfire, they are coming.

3. Cooking: tied in with the light thing, you should consider getting all your cooking done in daylight and eating earlier.

4. Security: make sure you have sentries out, even if this is just a roving guard. Also, use buddies to go do tasks, such as hunting or collecting water or wood.

5. Have a ‘stand to’ plan for if you are bumped by bad guys. Initially the sentry will be engaging them, but the rest need to roll out, grab weapons and move to defensive positions.

6. ‘Bug Out”: as part of the ‘stand to” plan individuals should be designated to pack stuff up. organize kids, and get ready to move, whether you are camping by foot or with vehicles. You will likely need to move locations after a contact with bad guys, even if you get the upper hand. Either way, pack up, provide covering fire, and bug out to an established emergency rendezvous (ERV) location. Rally, check status and move off.

A question received:

‘How often would you recommend moving the site? Would that help at all? Or is it best to remain in one spot till you are found (suspect someone is on to you) then move?’
Answer: That is a very interesting question and will depend on the circumstances. If you do suspect that someone is ‘on to you’ then you should move immediately before they get a chance to attack you in place, and keep moving until the threat passes. That could also lead into other types of response: if you are genuinely in a situation where someone is after you or following you then you should consider some type of ambush (offense being best form of defense) if you have the capability in order to take the initiative away from them.

When I wrote the original post, it was more security procedures in general, not specific. If you are out there and you don’t suspect you have been noticed, then there is no real limit to how long you could stay in a place. You may be really well hidden so don’t move just for the sake of it. Also, the more you move, whether by foot or vehicle, the more chance that you will be picked up on someones ‘radar’ and perhaps followed, or walk into someone elses defensive perimeter. If you are well hunkered down, you could stay there so long as you have sentries and keep the security measures sup. Getting sloppy/complacent will get you found.

If you are not in such a backwoods situation and you suspect you may have been noticed, then you should keep moving. Maybe only one night in each place until you get to a real well hidden place. If it is sort of high risk, you are moving, you can consider stopping late afternoon at a location to cook and eat, administrate, before moving to another location prior to nightfall to establish a camp and sleep. This is a dismounted jungle warfare technique designed to throw off anyone tracking you.

And further:

Re: leaving less sign at your campsite: It can be hard, particularly if you are a family group with children rather than a small spec ops team!You have to change the idea in your mind from ‘camping’ to being in a ‘patrol base’. This will need to take account, again, of children etc. You won’t be sitting round the fire drinking a cold one. There will be no fire sometimes, if you have to go ‘hard routine’. Cook during the day and if you can use propane camp stoves or similar which will not leave sign. Don’t cut anything at your campsite. Dig latrines and fill them in. Pick up all trash and carry it out, sweep the area before departure and try to cover up any sign. Anyone with skill will realize that you have been there, but you can reduce signature. If you are in vehicle you may leave tracks anyway etc.

Think about rather than trying to eliminate all sign that you were there, reduce it as much as possible and then use deception, such as moving off in another direction then switching course. On the offensive side you can stop on your route and put in a ‘snap ambush’, breaking track to cover the trail you just walked to catch any trackers. You should do this if you are on foot and before you stop and establish a patrol base anyway.

If you are less of a family group and more of a patrol, then you should be operating under stronger battle discipline. This would entail overnighting in a concealed location with all round defense and sentries. You would only put up rain tarps after dark, after evening ‘stand to’ and take them down before first light and morning ‘stand to’. You would do clearance patrols of the area once you had moved into it and after morning stand to. You would put in a snap ambush and use deception before moving into your night location. No fires, lights or noise. Consider the cooking and eating at a different location thing before moving into your overnight position.

Re: being random I totally agree with that for any normal activities. Consider however that if you are in a camping area in the woods etc you will want to reduce noise and sign. In a patrol position this would entail clearing a ‘trackplan’ around the position and stringing commo string around it, moving leaves and sticks off the path etc. This allows silent movement around the perimeter and to each sleeping area at night. It also reduces the signature of tracks and can be covered up again prior to leaving, pushing leaves and sticks back over the track plan. Rather than denuding a wide area if you are moving a short distance to collect water, you may be better off with a single track plan to do this, reducing signature in grasses and reeds etc. Obviously, if this goes beyond a short walk to a water source, to a patrol, then you will change that and avoid all pattern setting , going back to the random model.