Defense: Obstacles Part XI: Breaking Contact And Evading

Things are finally settling down and I’ve recovered enough from the hard drive crash (backups – a real necessity) that I can drive on with the blog.  Up to this point we’ve covered numerous types of obstacles and creative ways to delay a threat headed your way.  Before we actually look at the ground we’ve got one more thing to do and that’s develop an escape/bug plan out aka Escape and Evasion (E&E) plan.  For our purposes I’ll also call it a Break contact and Evade plan (B&E).  One thing I’ve harped on throughout the entire series is that any obstacle that slows them down or keeps them out is going to have the same effect on you getting out.  There’s a basic truth in defense planning:  No matter how well planned, how well constructed, how well defended there’s always a possibility of being attacked by such a superior force that your position will no longer be tenable. Given that truth it’s pretty imperative you develop your B&E/E&E plan prior to planning and executing obstacles.  By developing that plan ahead of everything else you can also leverage some of your obstacles to help facilitate your B&E/E&E.

When would you execute an B&E/E&E plan?  IMHO there are two instances it comes into play.  The first is that you have forewarning of a greatly superior force headed towards your homestead.  By hauling ass and rallying with other tribe members you maintain your combat power to possibly setup a hasty ambush or stage for a counter attack and protect the less able members of your family buy not having them in the threats objective area.  Those situations will be covered more in depth later on when we get into tribal tactics.  The second instance is that you are suddenly faced with a vastly superior force assaulting your homestead.  If you’ve got your brain switched on and have good situational awareness there may come a point to where you realize your position is no longer tenable and it’s time to go.  We’ll look at that more in a little but first let’s examine a few basic concepts about B&E/E&E plans for the homestead.

The first concept we’ll look at is the Rally Point (RP).  A rally point for our purpose is a known location that everyone is familiar with and can find their way there individually (even in the dark) if they have to.  We’re going to deal with two types of RPs – an Initial Rally Point (IRP) and the final Rally Point (RP for us).  You could create more if you wanted to (i.e. Secondary/tertiary rally Points etc.) but we’ll stick with these two for now.  The IRP is the first location you’ll go to after you have escaped the homestead.  This is where you establish a temporary defense and gain accountability of your family if you’ve been separated.  It should be a secure and secluded location where you can catch your breath and get your head straight.  The final Rally Point is the ultimate destination of everyone and probably would be a fellow tribe members homestead.  At any rate it should be a secure defended location where you can reconsolidate (treat your wounded, regain situational awareness, possibly plan and execute a counter assault, etc.).

The next concept we’ll look at is the use of obscurants (i.e. smoke) in our escape.  A lot of people are down on using smoke grenades but honestly very few other things work as well for masking movement in open areas.  If you’re having to shag ass across an open area to cover away from your homestead spoiling the threats target acquisition by dumping smoke is better than nothing.   Bright lights can also be leveraged to mask your movement during dark.  Just make sure you aren’t between the threat and the light source or you’ll be a nice silhouetted target for them.  One thing to keep in mind is like a lot of other things obscurants can be a double edged sword.  That smoke you pop to cover your movement can shift with the wind and you could end up blindly running into a smoke field – not a good thing to have happen when bullets are flying.

Another concept to be aware of is how to exploit the OODA loop.  Situational awareness is everything and by not attaining or maintaining it you’ll increase your risk tenfold.  I used to tell folks getting into a situation without knowing what the threat is isn’t a risk – it’s a gamble and I ain’t fond of gambling with my life.  If you’ve had forewarning and time to setup an ambush prior to the threats assault then you’re inside his loop once you spring your ambush.  But if the threat assaults in the wee early hours of the morning before your stand to then he’s already inside your loop.  You are now forced into a position in which you either allow the enemy to exploit his advantage or you forcibly get inside his OODA loop by going directly into the action phase.  Keep him in the observe and orient portion of the loop and out of the decide and act portion as much as possible.  Violence of action and shock are two of the best methods of accomplishing this.  By keeping your OODA loop tighter than the threats it’ll help you establish and maintain any aspect of superiority you have.  This is where planned and rehearsed drills and tactics come into play.  More on that below.

Yet another concepts is volume of fire.  I’m not a big fan of full auto but it does have its place.  Very short controlled bursts are good at forcing a threat to keep his head down under cover.  And the more/longer you force the threat to keep his head down the more time you have to maneuver.  There’s a basic axiom off the firefight that I’ve seen hold true over the years.  Initial fire superiority goes a long way in establishing who’s going to come out on top of a fight.  The more one side suppresses the other and continues to keep them suppressed as that number grows the lethality of the threat diminishes.  Simply put as fire is laid on and held the more guys on the threat side that duck = less shooting on their part.  The lesser the quality of the threat the greater that phenomenon is and it will increase as the threat begins to take casualties.  Does this volume of fire have to be super accurate?  IMHO not really but it needs to be pretty close.  Close enough to make the threat behind cover believe he’s being individually targeted and once again the lower the quality and less experienced the threat is the greater chance they believe they are directly being fired at.  Keep it in nice short controlled bursts (3-5 rounds) and keep it consistent.  Keep him reacting to your fire and chances are he’ll be stuck in observe/orient.

Clear concise communication is critical in a break out and evasion involving more than one person.  Locations should be commonly known to family members and names should be short and able to be understood.  If your using other homesteads you can use the last name of the family that lives there (i.e. DOE).  Similarly with Initial Rally Points you could name them after the direction you plan to break out and evade to (i.e. NORTH, SOUTH, etc…).  Commands and information have to be passed in a clear enough manner that all family members can understand them and know what they mean.  Figure it out beforehand and you’ll save a lot of confusion and buy yourself more time by not having to repeat or clarify commands and info when times comes to use it.

Another concept we need to look at is multiple escape routes.  Why do you need multiple escape routes?  Well just think if you only had one and the threat was greatest in that direction or along that route – That wouldn’t be anywhere near ideal escape.  Think of it as “One way in and five ways out”.  Multiple routes give you the flexibility in escape you might just need to escape with minimal casualties.

But what if all of your routes are covered by the threat?  This is where the concept of violence of action comes in.  You may end up being completely surrounded and have to punch through an assaulting force in one area to clear your route.  By using obscurants, applying volume of fire, aggressiveness, and speed your chances of making a breakout are better than waiting for the threat to slack enough to give you a “window of opportunity” (like that’s going to happen – I wouldn’t be willing to bet my life on it).  IMHO you have to create your own “window of opportunity” by either inflicting casualties and achieving suppression in one area to a point you can gain some freedom of movement or by executing a violent escape early on before the threat has completed his maneuver.  Here’s where an interesting thing happens.  It’s natural instinct for a threat with enough resources to attempt to completely encircle an objective (i.e. your homestead) .  It happens with pack hunting animals in nature and it happens with man as illustrated by basic tactics throughout human history – think of how the Native Americans assaulted a homestead and how the feds encircled the Weaver homestead at Ruby Ridge.   If the threat is less than experienced they may just screw up and begin their assault prior to having all of their forces in place.  Personally I wouldn’t use this as a rule rather expect to have to punch your way out and plan accordingly.

A final concept I’ll address is “funneling”.  Funneling is  the phenomenon in which you’ve laid obstacles to channel (or funnel) a threat into your fields of fire during his maneuver.  If you aren’t careful with your obstacle planning you can create a condition in which you end up being funneled during your escape.  You want to avoid this condition when emplacing your obstacles to facilitate your B&E/E&E plan by creating large fields as you move further away from the homestead.  This gives you more freedom of maneuver and a larger target area for the threat to cover as you make your escape.

So let’s look at our map and pick out some rally points.  Take a look at the pic below:

For the sake of clarity I’ll keep it simple.  What I’ve done is annotate our homestead with the star.  I’ve located three Initial Rally Points (IRPs) in cover in different directions.  This gives us a minimum of three locations under cover that are easily recognizable.  In two instances (the South east and west) they are small clearings in wooded areas that can provide both cover and concealment.  In the case of the north east one it’s actually the closest neighboring homestead.  Any of these three locations should be fairly easy for family members to recognize with little moonlight.  Here’s a key point to remember:  Do not let the first time someone sees or navigates to these locations be when it’s under fire.  Get out in both daylight and dark and walk to them.  Make a game of it and have different family members guide to them against time.  But they have to be moved to under both daylight and darkness.  For our purpose I’m going to use other homesteads in the area as my final Rally Points.  The reason behind this is they can provide security, aid, and sanctuary.  It’s a good idea to establish a small cache of  loaded magazines for your rifles, water, first aid supplies, and even a spare radio and batteries at your initial rally points.  This will allow you conduct a quick reconsolidation and help replenish your defensive capabilities before moving to your final rally point.  For the sake of illustration let’s say that southeast rally point is named Doe after the Doe family (it becomes pertinent later on).

Now we’ll take another look at the map and establish routes to get us to those RPs.  If you’ve done your homework and cleared fields of fire there’s going to be a lot of open area to cross but ideally you want to hit cover away from the homestead as soon as possible.  This is the point in the B&E/E&E plan where you’ll want to take maximum advantage of the terrain.  Gullies, wadis, creeks, even cliffs can facilitate putting terrain between you and the threat.  Once you have your tentative RPs and routes planned get out and actually move through the terrain to evaluate them and then ask yourself “Is this a route or location that can be made in pitch black with pouring down rain by everyone at the homestead?”.  If not relook and adjust as necessary.  Anyway in the pic below I’ve laid out basic routes to the RPs we identified.

Once again this is simplified for illustration – two main avenues of escape wouldn’t be enough for my peace of mind.  I’ve color coded the paths – blue is under cover and orange is open areas also considered danger areas which you have little to no cover and concealment in crossing.  When you have to move through those types of areas before you break cover stop inside of cover and listen, then edge out and look around slowly.  Cross only when you think it’s clear to do so.  In the case of having to cross a large open/danger area once you’re committed don’t stop unless it’s at cover.  Move and move fast because speed is your ally.  Notice that the paths are not direct – they go to the nearest cover and concealment.  What you want to avoid is locating a path too close to a heavily traveled road or other commonly known and trafficked area. Also in the case of the western one it actually doubles back.  That is because once a person hits that north/south fence line on the north side they’ll be able to follow it down across the road to a trail that leads into that small clearing.  Notice the southern path is in the open for a good portion.  Not ideal but if you have the homestead between you and the threat with some obscuration it’s feasible.  And really that’s what you want – as much between you and the threat as possible be it the house, tree line, whatever.

So let’s run through a little fictional scenario to flesh the entire concept out:

It’s 0500 (5 a.m.) and at the Jones homestead the dogs suddenly start going apeshit or maybe one of his  tripwire alarms he laid in has gone off.  Mr. Jones is startled awake and gets his jeans and boots on while shoving his wife awake.  Both of them grab their rifles and radios and he begins to assess the situation determining where the dogs are barking at while his wife finished getting her shoes on and grabbing her go bag which contains a radio, water bottle, and a smoke grenade – identical to the ones each kid has.  She then moves through the house waking everyone up and having them get their clothes on that are always laid out when they go to bed.  The rest of the family gathers in the center hallway of the house while Mr. Jones determines that the dogs are all gathered in front of the house by the road barking at something across the road in the wood line. Having had some foresight he has installed a series of car headlamps on the poles around his house shining into likely areas that an assault would come from and he flips the switch cutting the front series of lights on. Seconds later shooting breaks out and the threat has begun firing that the dogs.  At this point Mr. Jones is able to discern muzzle flashes so he picks up his Romanian AK clone with its Korean drum and slidefire stock and shouts out to his family “ACROSS THE ROAD – ON ME, COVER THE OTHERS” And begins firing very short controlled bursts into the wood line where he sees the muzzle flashes from as his wife moves the kids into their assigned watch sectors.  About that time his family begins to yell “BACK CLEAR” “EAST CLEAR” and a few seconds later he hears his oldest son yell “MOVEMENT WEST” followed by shots from the west end of the house and the lights he had installed pointing west flipping on. At this point sporadic fire begins raking the house on the north and west sides however the family has put some preparation into the house so they fell pretty safe.  Jones can hear his wife on the radio alerting the other homesteads to their situation and suspected location of the threat.  At this point things seem to be going their way until the threat gets its head straight and starts shooting the lights out in the front once they’ve dispatched the remaining dogs. About the time the last light is shot out and a second or two too late he sees a shadow throw something that sparks like one of those cheap 4th of July sparklers across the road that lands in the front yard and explodes a few seconds later – the threat has explosives.  Now the equation has changed significantly and its decision time.   Stand, fight, and hope the neighbors get there in time to hit the threat from the rear or side or haul ass?  Jones knows from experience it’ll take his neighbors at least ten to fifteen minutes to consolidate and get into action and he begins to realize he may not have that time.  From his perception the heaviest fire is coming from the north across the road so he assumes that is the main assault forces location and they’re waiting for his suppressive fire to lift to begin their assault.  As he runs his drum dry and switches to magazines he makes the decision that he’ll wait for the first assault and hit them with a few choice “nasties” he’s buried in the front yard and then displace while the threat is dealing with the shock of having his homemade claymores go off in their faces.  He yells to his family “ON THE BOOM – SOUTH DOE”.  This cues his family to get ready to displace to the south as soon as they hear the explosion and his wife gets on the radio and gives the rest of the tribe the brevity word letting them know they are displacing.   Once his wife yells “SET” to him Jones comes back with “READY” and slows his firing down.  A few seconds later he sees two shadows break the woodline and as soon as they hit the edge of the road he hits his electric detonator creating one god awful explosion in the front yard.  As soon as the family hears that boom they break out of the back door  with his wife in the lead and his son at trail keeping a ten yard interval between them moving as fast as they can along a path they’ve walked many times before.  Jones doesn’t wait to assess the damage he’s inflicted instead he turns and breaks for the back door.  On his way out he notices his son has popped a smoke grenade towards the west side of the house to cover their movement and he is unable to see them but continues on at a full sprint.  A few minutes later he approaches the families initial rally point stopping just outside of it and using his handheld radio keys it twice.  He’s answered back by squelch being broken four times (double his number) and he proceeds to move into his IRP to rejoin his family which has assumed a 360 degree defensive posture.  Once the family is accounted for he drags out a small sealed cache of magazines, another couple of smoke grenades, a radio with batteries, and first aid kit to reload and treat any injuries the family has (reconsolidation).  While in the IRP the Jones family makes no noise and only moves when absolutely necessary instead listening and looking for any clues they were followed.  Once they are satisfied they had no pursuers his wife gets on the radio and tells the tribe members on the net they are clear of the house.  At that point Jones can hear a few explosions and sporadic gunfire coming from the house until it dies down signaling to him the threat has taken the homestead.  He then marshals and moves the family along their E&E route to the Doe homestead but while doing so he hears some intense gunfire break out back at their own homestead as the rest of the tribe begins to engage the threat once its begun to raid after seizing the homestead.  After a few more minutes the family reaches the Does and safety (for now).

An interesting little scenario that went all too right but I wrote it to illustrate some points:

  • The Jones family had an early warning system.  Be it dogs or alarm devices that helped buy them some reaction time.
  • The family consolidated in the hallway before the action took place.  That makes sure that little Mikey  hasn’t rolled back over and gone to sleep.
  • The Jones family were prepared.  They laid their clothes out at night and had their go bags ready.  No fumbling in the dark looking for a shoe.  They had a plan.
  • The Jones family had obviously rehearsed this type of situation  as his wife and kids knew exactly what to do.
  • The Jones communicated with each other in a clear common language using established references- a CRITICAL factor in surviving.  They also notified the rest of the tribe alerting them to a threat and  activating any kind of quick reaction force that might exist.
  • Jones had the capability to put a lot of rounds into the threat area and did so in a disciplined manner after switching those lights on and creating at least what would be temporary blindness for the threat.  He forced his way into the threats OODA loop.
  • Jones didn’t hesitate to make the call to E&E – he realized he was going to be outgunned and probably outmanned.
  • Jones created his own window of opportunity with his front yard mines.  Those mines not only forced him back into the threat OODA loop again it also created one helluva distraction as the threat would no doubt instantly hunker down and try to assess the situation.
  • His wife and family didn’t wait for him instead moved directly to their IRP and established 360 degree security.  They employed obscurants close to the house to help cover their move.
  • The family had a sign/co sign system established for use at the IRP.  Be it comms, vocal, whatever they had a way to recognize that the person approaching the IRP was not a threat.
  • At the IRP they silently paused listening and looking to ensure they weren’t being pursued.
  • They notified the rest of the tribe they were clear of the homestead.  This communication with the rest of the tribe is critical to ensure that you don’t get shot approaching another homestead or mistaken by any reaction element as a threat.
  • They moved to their Final Rally Point when they were satisfied it was safe to do so.

A note aside if you notice the QRF waited until the threat was on the objective and reconsolidating.  Later on when we get into some Tactics techniques, and Procedures (TTPS) that’s probably the best time to hit an ad hoc threat.  An undisciplined threat is likely going to be too busy high fiving each other and looking over their booty than be concerned with establishing security.  Like I stated that was just a fictional scenario to point out some teaching points.  Things could only go that right in such a situation – when you throw in friendly wounded, dead batteries in radios, and other Murphyesqe frustrators things change quick.  But by having a plan and rehearsing it the Jones family would have increased their chances at survival tenfold.

I mentioned dealing with wounded which brings me to another point.  Is breaking contact and evading the answer for everyone?  No.  If you have elderly or disabled in the house and their incapable of moving swiftly then shagging is probably not an option for you.  After all, would you be willing to leave Grandma or young Johnny with a bullet in his lower leg behind for the threat to deal with?  Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.  You might be able to incorporate a vehicle in your plan to overcome some of the issues associated with an inability to B&E/E&E but whatever you do have a plan and rehearse it.

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About Treaded

Semi-retired career and contract troop. I own and maintain my own small ranch out here in beautiful rural America.
This entry was posted in Defensive Measures, Hardening the Homestead, Security Planning, Terrain and AO Development. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Defense: Obstacles Part XI: Breaking Contact And Evading

  1. Down to a T as always. Thanks and posted.

  2. Pingback: LF: Obstacles, Part XI – Breaking Contact And Evading | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  3. Daniel K Day says:

    Thank you, Treaded. I have one question, in your next to last bullet point you said “This communication [snip] to ensure not only that [snip].” You said “not only”, which made me wonder if there was also another aspect you intended to point out.

  4. TM says:

    Great Post! Since you mentioned batteries there is one point that needs to be made (maybe in a future preps post) concerning Batteries. — Make sure your storage preps include having rechargeables CHECKED and READY — Some older radio manufacturers do not allow the radios to be on the charger continuously (my case). If they are not continually watched they will be DEAD when you need them. Serious Hard knock Battery experiences cured me of battery problems. In fact, I’ve changed all my ni-cad battery packs to AA packs on my (5 watt) GMRS Handie Talkies. If I want to use NI-Metal hydride AA rechargeables I can, and if I want to use standard AA’s I can. I also have a AA back-up pack for my Ham band Handie talkie. Imagine being in the above scenario without comms —

  5. JustARandomGuy says:

    A couple questions-
    What distances am I looking at in the pictures? I’m assuming top of picture equals North, and the houses look pretty small, so I’m guessing at a few hundred yards to the southernmost IRP?

    How much play would you recommend there could be in the distances (plus or minus)
    and still be able to have this work? I suppose you could say with vehicles, the sky’s the limit, so can we assume on foot only?

    • Treaded says:

      Straight line distance from the back of the house to the southern IRP is just a hair over 900 yards.
      IMHO distance alone isn’t as critical as good cover and concealment with enough distance to avoid easy detection (i.e. from a moaning wounded family member). What you should try and do is put features like buildings, masking terrain, etc. between you and the threat when you reconsolidate in the IRP. The IRP should be: a. reachable and navigable in the dark by everyone in the family, b. defensible while providing cover and concealment, c. no more than an initial location to conduct reconsolidation which includes getting a headcount, rearming, initial treatment of wounded, etc. Once those tasks are completed and you’re not under pressure once you’ve established it’s clear then you can begin your movement to the final RP.

      • JustARandomGuy says:

        I think I see.
        So in essence, a position that provides enough distance and cover to get you and yours out of the direct line of attack, but not so far that you can’t get everyone to it, in the event of wounded or other physically impaired persons.

  6. Pingback: September Update « Alamance County Rangers

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