Retreat Rules – A Discussion

At the most recent Combat Team Tactics (CTT) Class  there were a couple of Alumni medical doctors. During discussion in breaks we got to chatting about retreats and communities. It turns out that each of these guys have nascent communities where they live, with land, farming, other medical personnel, access to medical treatment facilities for SHTF etc. In other words the perfect basis for sustainable communities with medical support.

I was jumping all over that declaring that this sort of community is something that should be protected, as in establish Citizen Unconventional Tactical Teams (CUTT’s)  with the accompanying families and support networks to move to and protect such a valuable resource. This of course led to discussions about how that would happen, and how to organize, and ensure everyone was pulling their weight, and didn’t show up with nothing etc.

Now, to be quite clear, we were not talking about the classic prepper situation of someone’s retreat being used by a group, who all coalesce there when the SHTF. This was more of a broader community idea with neighboring properties with spare living space such as barns and the ability to mutually support between neighboring farms, even perhaps including the local medical facility etc. This kind of idea is a balance between the required numbers to run an effective patrolling and defensive operation, as well as farming etc, while balancing against mouths to feed and the need to pull ones weight with work.

Sustainable community is what it is about.

One of these gentlemen emailed me with a link to a set of ‘retreat rules’ from Survivalblog. 

Rules Link HERE.

They are an interesting read, and this is the gist of the email response that I sent back to him:

Well here is the thing. Not to quibble specifically with his ‘list of lists’ and after a quick read, the thing that comes across to me is that anyone going to this retreat is entirely beholden to the owner. “I” will make this decision, or that decision etc. This is fair enough given that it is his property. But what about if there is a disagreement? 

IMO this is the great weakness of the whole prepper meme of all coalescing at someones house, or someones land. You have an instant chief. Ideally you want some group land and a group occupation, with some sort of ‘small council’ to run it. We all know that there needs to be a leader, particularly for emergencies, but that can still be achieved if there is a ‘tactical leader’ appointed.
There could also be a council leader, appointed, who can also be voted out if needed. Interestingly, I just watched a pirate show called ‘black sails’ where they elect the captain! That leads to some weaknesses, but it is also probably more realistic for a civilian prepper environment. 
This needs more exploration and possibly a blog post. I understand that, for you, you own your property an are thus in charge. You don’t want it voted off you! It is a definite thing that needs to be explored.
This perhaps illustrates one of the great weaknesses of these prepper retreat plans: to a great extent, whoever joins the group is beholden to whoever owns the retreat. Which is right, but doesn’t help them if they end up in a disagreement. This is also probably why most of these plans / groups break up over time as the natural human inclination to be an asshole gets in the way of pre-SHTF group cohesion.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we all have enough money to go and form groups to buy separate land, where we would build a community. That is simply not realistic. In many ways things are simpler where a group establishes some form of leadership and finds itself adrift in an SHTF situation, perhaps using an example such as the TV Series ‘The Walking Dead’ where they end up occupying a prison. Simply because it doesn’t belong to anyone so they are free to organize for the better of the group.
Of course, we don’t want to find ourselves adrift, and naturally our retreat is going to be our home unless we are forced out of it. If we take people in on the fly, or pre-planned, of course we want to retain control of our home. Why would we do it otherwise?
So what will happen is that these retreats will take on many flavors depending on the composition and dynamics between the owners and whoever else is on the group.
Regardless of whoever the original homeowner is, them simply being a dictator to the others would not work in the long run. Regardless of who owns the property, if the SHTF arrives then there needs to be a system in place for the actual running of the retreat and also a set of rules to establish ‘common law.’
Interestingly, I mentioned above that I have been watching the fictional TV Series ‘Black Sails’. Purely by chance with a ‘those who bought this bought that’ Amazon purchase. It is interesting with its take on how the ships are run. Totally unlike a military system such as in the Royal Navy at the time, with iron discipline and the lash. The show portrays a system with an elected captain and some interesting interplay between the crew. Many more ”discussions’ then you would expect on a Navy ship!
I find the portrayal to be a lot more like I would expect within a civilian force that has come together, trained, and is now operating together post-SHTF. In episode 6, which I have just seen, there is another interesting portrayal which goes to points I have made in my ‘Civilian Volunteer Teams: The Leadership Issue‘ post. The crew is engaged in battle aboard their ship. They have specific rules that cover the captain under such situations, separate from normal day to day operations where the crew has to be very much ‘persuaded’ (sold) on the course of action. In the scene, a crewman is questioning the captain’s battle plan, and is simply knocked out by the second in command, due to the situation being one of ‘battle.’ That goes back to my point about receiving black eyes because ‘you were talking when you should have been listening.’
No, I’m not suggesting fist fights, but I hope you get my point. There needs to be some sort of rules in any kind of retreat or crew / team. There needs to be a way of enforcing them, and there needs to be a way of appointing the right people to run operations, whether that be tactical, the kitchen, or the animals.
There needs to be a way of resolving the ‘property owner is in charge’ dilemma. Clearly they don’t want to end up kicked off their own retreat, but they may perhaps hand over the running of operations to others who may be better at it. One of the ways of dealing with this is to go to bigger community retreats, a conglomeration of land and farms, which reduces the issue in terms of single property owners, because they then become part of a bigger community, which can elect people to fill roles.
Because in the SHTF, it will be bigger protected and sustainable communities that have a better chance of survival – either because they are being established now, or will get established as a matter of necessity. Give the ‘rules’ and system of operation some deep thought now, before the stress of SHTF adds another layer of difficulty.