Episode 143 S4-19
Movement in an Urban Environment
Battle for the South Ch 19
Bennet moves his team through the urban remains of Dallas as the Battle for the South adventure continues. Although many elements of urban survival and wilderness survival are the same there are some major differences worth noting. Here to discuss some of the considerations is Aaron Frankel, host of In The Rabbit Hole Podcast.
A decision that many people in urban areas struggle with during a disaster scenario is should they stay in their home or "bug-out" to another location. Although the question seems simple the answer can be quite difficult. Most homes are not easily defensible so how wide spread and violent the situation is can make a big difference in your decision. Also, do you have someplace to go? If not, you might consider staying where you are. If you are going to get out you want to do it early. When it comes down to it your decision must be based on which choice gives you the best odds of immediate and long term security. You will have to make this decision with far less information than you would like and it will be an emotionally charged choice.
If you decide to leave, will you be able to travel safely? Can your group move as a group and fight as a group? Did you get training before the circumstance presented itself to you? You need to train with a personal security detail person that has experience in a non-permissive environment ("An operational environment in which host government forces, whether opposed to or receptive to operations that a unit intends to conduct, do not have effective control of the territory and population in the intended operational area (Uncertain Environment); or an operational environment in which hostile forces have control as well as the intent and capability to oppose or react effectively to the operations a unit intends to conduct (Hostile Environment) - https://definedterm.com/non_permissive_environment). This person will teach you how difficult it is and tricks like: handling guns in a vehicle, dealing with check points, identifying and dealing with ambushes, how to move and shoot.
On a side note, handling a long gun in a vehicle takes a lot of training and practice. You will quickly begin to appreciate compact weapons. It is important to learn how to deal with Rifle Cant (basically, the pitch or tilt of your gun) and learn how to shoot a canted rifle. One of my concerns about shooting from a vehicle was the noise reverberation but Aaron indicated that the noise is not as intense as it could be because usually the barrel of the rifle is outside of the vehicle.
Another obstacle you are likely to encounter in your travels is a checkpoint. Aaron states that checkpoints are exercises in social engineering and suggests two books to get you educated on the topic. The first is Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson. The second is Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking by Christopher Hadnagy. Both of these texts will help you in your daily life now and can the knowledge they impart can be a huge benefit in a SHTF situation.
The next tip that Aaron suggested on traveling through an urban environment is to use historical data points for planning. It is important to pay attention to what happens in your local area when a natural disaster takes place. What roads got clogged? How soon did they get clogged and how soon were they running efficiently again? What happened to gasoline supplies at the gas stations? How long did it take them to run out? How long did it take to resupply? What was the distance of impacted stations? What roads were flooded? How soon did that happen, for how long? What happened to supplies on the shelves of your local grocery stores? What did people buy? What was left? It is important to take notes on every aspect of the disaster possible. People will develop a cultural pattern of what they do before, during and after a disaster. It is important to know what the typical responses to the disaster are.
When you are traveling, especially on foot it is important to realize the limits of the people you are with and set realistic expectations of them. Teens, for the most part, are just big kids not tactical officers. Many people will be out of shape and not used to marching all day. What kind of real world shooting experience do your group members have? There is a big difference between standing on a range and moving and shooting.
There is also a lot of debate over what your gear should look like. Aaron suggests any gear that looks normal for your area. If a lot of people wear camo all the time, then by all means, take your camo pack out and no one will be the wiser. One suggestion that Aaron made, that I haven't heard before, is to look tidy in appearance when things are first happening. When you look like you care about your appearance you will get a better response from both the public at large and law enforcement officers. Another tip that Aaron had was to make sure that your group doesn't carry all paramilitary gear so you look like a mini army coming down the street. This will create fear in locals and problems with law enforcement. If society has deteriorated to a complete state of survival then Aaron suggests you change your look to that of a homeless, grubby, and very nasty looking person. No body wants to deal with these people and you can seamlessly move about. The final suggestion that Aaron had was to strip your vehicle of all your "tribal" stickers. No one needs to know if you are an NRA, Green Peace, conservative, liberal, etc. Any stickers that indicate how many members are in your family or what their names are should be removed immediately!!
When you travel, never travel alone! You will need help analyzing your surroundings, making decisions, and identifying problems. There is a mystical image of the lone wolf survivor but if you know any thing about wolves, you know they don't travel alone. If they are alone, there is something wrong and they are looking for a new pack. One person traveling alone will be more likely to draw the attention of criminals. Aaron also suggests that you be careful about traveling in large groups of just males. A group of four males looks like a pack on the way to make trouble and will draw the attention of law enforcement. Women should never travel alone or in small groups. You have to assume that people are going to cause you harm and will take the opportunity to act in ways that weren't socially acceptable before the collapse. Do not allow anyone that you do not trust within twenty feet of you. Also, everyone should be aware of situations that pull at your heart strings. You need to get your people to safety and you can't save everyone. A lot of the time these emotional situations are set up so you can be taken advantage of in one way or another.
Government employees are good and bad people just like the rest of the population at large. They are trying to do the right thing for the greater good of society. You need to remember that they will be emotionally conflicted as well. They have been conditioned to follow orders and do their job. These orders that they are receiving may be conflicting. They will also be struggling with the internal conflict between their job and their responsibilities to their families.
Be very careful about choosing an appropriate resting place if you need to take a break. Your bug-out location or vacation home should be within a couple hours of your home so you can make it there in one march. There are many variables that threaten any position that you use to rest in. It is better to stay on the move, if possible. You can also join a prepper travel network before any event happens. You may have to put your trust in near strangers but they can provide an extended mutual aid travel group. Do not enter any completely run down and abandoned buildings. You have no idea if the homeless frequent this place and how many may occupy it. You have no idea if the building is structurally sound. There are too many risks, it's better to avoid it all together. You should have three to five routes to your bug-out or vacation spot well ahead of the catastrophe.
As you travel through an urban landscape, you may need to obtain more food, water and supplies. Learn about your local plants and identify places where fruit trees and wild edibles exist. Auto parts stores carry all you need to make a suppressor if you are in a totally lawless environment! Learn how to make a solvent trap but DO NOT DO THIS unless you are in a totally collapsed society. It is a FEDERAL OFFENSE. Large distribution centers are usually not well guarded. If you leave a note, you are borrowing, not stealing. Many small book stores, hardware stores, etc have convenience products. Know the locations in your area where ammo is sold and where the military surplus stores are. Sporting goods stores are also great locations. Sometimes they carry ammo but they have lots of convenience products. One interesting product that I saw the other day was an aerosol can of oxygen. This could be a great medical supply item. Water is obtainable at these stores but it is often something that is bought out quickly. However, Aaron noticed that the sparkling water is usually still available even after the shelves are stripped. You should carry a wrench for opening pipes. There is water available in water heaters, in pipes leading to buildings, outdoor spigot, remove the toilet and that pipe has water. Keep your mind open, keep thinking, the sources are there you just have to find them.
When navigating an urban environment, you may want to learn the hobo signs. These are signs used by the homeless to communicate information to one another. They are mostly found around train tracks. Buy maps and learn to read them! Don't depend on your GPS it may not be available. Learn to read "key maps." These are books of maps that break a city down into specific parts. Know where the train tracks are and where they go. As you plan your routes out of the city, be aware of everything you see along the way. The disaster may mix things up a little so you have to remember the fine details.
The Changing Earth Series
In his free time, Aaron enjoys hogging the remote, surfing, scotch, mental masturbation and debate over philosophical topics, and shooting stuff--usually not all at the same time.