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10 Survival Tactics Used by the Military

The prepping community is full of advice, some good and some bad. Sadly, most advice from “experts” out there, is nothing but poorly-researched garbage. There’s a lot of scam artists in the prepping community, making money off innocent people just wanting to learn to survive should a disaster strike.

I take this personally, and it infuriates me. How many times have you seen an article with this title? The answer is most likely a lot, but can you trust the writer to input legitimate military views every time?

There are so many “military experts” claiming to know the ins and outs of the military world, and how they can help you survive. I would dare say about 80% of the time, they’re either people who served in a non-combat job in their respective branch. Either that, or they never served and did “extensive research”. The biggest problem with this, is how can we know if their research wasn’t from another writer who falls into the two categories I just listed?

Before we get carried away, just know that I’ll never disclose sensitive information regarding the military, and our tactics. First off, that puts our military at risk. Secondly, you can learn plenty off of information that is available to the general public.

You may be thinking, “why can’t I just research the public information myself, then?”. The answer is simple: nobody has the time to look around for genuine accurate information. That’s why I’m here, to help my fellow Americans survive if their life depends on it.

The United States Military is the best military in the world, and we’ve only been around for less than 300 years. We’ve revolutionized tactics that have proven to be battlefield effective, so you can see why the public information can be very useful. Before you get defensive, trying to justify other country’s militaries, know that the facts don’t lie. Enough of my biased view, lets get into some legitimate information that you as a prepper can use to help you survive should SHTF.

#1. Concealment is Key

Why risk getting into a firefight if you don’t have to? Having the skill to conceal yourself, and your equipment is a major asset for preppers who need to get from one place to another should SHTF. This necessary skill greatly reduces the chances of being detected by people who might have a violent agenda if they’re desperate for supplies after SHTF.

Think about it, if you are by yourself when you bug out, do you think you’ll really stand a chance against three or four looters looking for anyone who they can exploit? If you answered yes, you need to reconsider your thought process, because that will get you killed.

Never engage in a fight that doesn’t have 3:1 odds in your favor, unless you absolutely must. What this means, is you should consider having at least three people in your group for every enemy engagement. This greatly reduces the chance of somebody in your group being injured or killed, and it also puts more firepower in the fight against the enemy.

Concealment is more than just camouflaging yourself. It includes noise discipline, light reflection reduction, vehicle concealment, and blending into a local population. Learning how to conceal yourself is only half the battle. You need to be able to practice the skills you learn, multiple times a year. Concealment is a perishable skill, so make sure you incorporate it into every practice “bug out” you perform.

You should focus on learning to camouflage every piece of equipment you will be bringing along when you bug out, as well as your bug out location. If you have a ghillie suit on, but your bug out bag is neon orange, you’re still going to stick out like a sore thumb.

Your bug out location should definitely be camouflaged if it’s in the wilderness. This greatly reduces the chance that somebody will stumble upon it if SHTF, and claim it as their own. Then, you have to worry about fighting them to gain it back along with the supplies you’ve stockpiled.

#2. Two is One and One is None

It’s kind of an ironic statement, right? Well, it’s very true when it comes to any time spent in the wilderness (or bugging out in general). “Murphy’s Law” (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong), is a real factor when it comes to equipment. You should always have spares of every piece of essential equipment you incorporated in your bug out plan. Equipment breaks, that’s a humbling fact that you don’t want to learn if you only have one of whatever breaks if it’s essential.

No matter how much money you spend on a piece of equipment, know that there is always a way that it could be broken, lost, or stolen. Personally, I keep at least one or two spares of any item in my medical bag, as well as fire starting material, knives, and water sources. This way, if I slip and fall and lose one thing, I will more than likely still have access to the spares I stored away.

Always keep your spares separate from each other. It’s not a bad idea to have a sustainment pouch on your kit full of spares, this way if you lose your bug out bag, you still have the essentials needed to survive. In your bug out location, have plenty of spares on standby. While this could get expensive, it’s well worth it in case you need to restock from a rough bug out expedition.

Another reason to have spares, is the compassion factor. If you have a bug out crew, odds are somebody will lose something that they need for basic survival. Like I said, Murphy’s Law is a real thing. If this happens, you can lend them an item that you have multiple spares of, so they’re better prepared to help defend you and the group against the elements (or an enemy). I don’t need to tell you why you need to have spare self-defense means, but I’ll say that you definitely need at least three.

#3. Cover and Concealment Aren’t the Same

Just because you can’t be seen in a bush, doesn’t mean you can’t be shot in a bush. A lot of people fail to realize this, and it tends to be their downfall in combat. Concealment should only be used while you’re not in a firefight to remain undetected by enemies, unless absolutely necessary. If you’re in an area where there’s no viable cover in a firefight, you need to hightail it out of there until you find an area where there’s sufficient cover. Only then, should you engage them in return.

The only exception to this rule, is if they ambush you and they’re less than 35 yards away. If this happens, you don’t have a choice but to return fire and hope your accuracy training pays off. This is because when the enemy is within 35 yards, they can more accurately engage you should you try to run away. Another reason is grenades, the average man can throw a grenade up to 35 yards. Never count out the fact that your enemy may have access to these.

Another critical factor with cover, is finding sufficient cover. In the movies, you’ll see “soldiers” taking cover behind a small tree that just happens to catch all the rounds flying their way. In real life, you’ll never see a smart military member taking cover behind such a tree. Instead, find cover that protects your entire body from incoming rounds. Granted, you may have to adjust your body in order to be protected, but it’s better than finding a tree that wouldn’t even cover the video game character “Paper Mario”.

Whenever you’re in a firefight, you should be looking for the next two cover and concealed positions that you could move to next. You should always have a backup plan, mostly due to the fact that the enemy may be flanking near the side you would be exposed for one covered area. Concealment doesn’t stop bullets, so don’t dive in a bush when you’re engaged in an ambush hoping you won’t be shot. Cover is your only viable option, always look for the next cover wherever you are. This way, you can run to it quickly if you are ambushed.

#4. Win the 15-Second Fight

The first 15 seconds in a firefight are the most crucial moments that you’ll be faced with throughout the entire fight. The reason why is simple, fire superiority. This factor is important because whoever has fire superiority will more than likely win the fight. Not only does gaining fire superiority over the enemy have a psychological factor, but it also gives you the opportunity to advance on them or flank them (whichever is more opportune for the fight).

As soon as the firefight begins, your main focus is to place as many rounds in their direction as possible. This doesn’t mean go full-auto (or cyclic) for the entire firefight, if you do you’ll run out of ammunition very quickly. Instead, it simply means for the first few seconds, you need to show the enemy that you mean business. As soon as you gain fire superiority, you’ll notice that they’re much more easily suppressed. Basically, if you have fire superiority, you control the tempo of the fight itself.

This is crucial to survive any firefight, because whoever controls the tempo, controls the opponent. This factor comes into play with not only firefights, but with hand to hand combat also. Never give the enemy the chance to gain fire superiority over you, because the moment you do, is the moment you’ve already lost. Don’t let the tempo die down after 15 seconds, however. Instead, use this superiority factor to gain the advantageous position over the enemy.

#5. Flanking

Sun Tzu, a very successful Chinese general, military strategist, and author of the book “The Art of War” once stated “fight the enemy where they are not”. When you break it down, it simply means attack your enemy where they aren’t prepared. Basically, he’s saying “flank your enemy”. Militaries around the world have used the flanking tactic for centuries, but why is it so effective?

When you flank your enemy, you’re making them fight in two directions. Thus, you’re taking their firepower that was once concentrated in one area, and dividing it. This tactic is very effective if you’re fighting a larger force than your own. Even if the odds are in your favor, you can ensure that your firefight will be quick, and efficient if you flank your enemy (if you do it right).

While you’re flanking, make sure you don’t create parallel lines with allies shooting inward toward the enemy. If you do this, you risk shooting your allies in the crossfire. The only exception to this rule is if you’re shooting downward from atop the high-ground. Even if you’re shooting downward into a valley, it’s still risky. Make sure you use caution if you decide to use this flanking method.

Never take the obvious route if you want to flank your enemy, as this will almost ensure that your flanking element will be bogged down under suppressive fire by an experienced enemy. Instead, take the route that you wouldn’t want to walk through comfortably. With that being said, you need to make sure you can still flank quickly. The element that’s taking the brunt of the fire is counting on you to divide the enemy’s firepower, so you need to get in position quickly.

If anything, always choose the route that offers the most cover and concealment. This way, if the enemy does detect you when you’re on the move to the flanking position, you have the proper cover to protect your flanking element. When you are in position after you flank, the initial gunfire put downrange by the flanking element needs to follow the 15-second firefight rule above.

#6. Use Surrounding Terrain to Your Advantage

You should never be guessing when it comes to what terrain you’ll be encountering when you’re moving. Use the topographical map that’s included in your bug out bag to your advantage. Stick to highly-vegetated areas, as they offer the most concealment while you’re moving. Unless absolutely necessary, stay away from any open area. Otherwise, you risk being spotted from a distance by people who may wish to cause you harm to gain your supplies.

While you should never silhouette yourself by walking on top of the highest ground for the entirety of your expedition, you should plan your route so you have easy access to the high ground. Firefights are won by people who find the high ground (or most advantageous area) first, that’s no secret. If at all possible, stick within 100 yards of the high ground at all times in your route plan in case you get in a firefight.

Never take the obvious route, meaning whatever route is more comfortable is the most dangerous one. Looters will usually set up along these “easy routes”, waiting for the unsuspecting prepper to take the route in order to ambush them. Instead, take the most grueling, unpleasant route possible. This will almost guarantee that you won’t run into anyone else, as they don’t want to walk through it either.

Keep an eye out for avenues of approach, meaning keep an eye on any area that the enemy could approach you from. Make a mental note of each area that an enemy could gain an advantage over you with, and make a plan for each area on how you would react to it. If your route has more than two avenues of approach that the enemy could use against you, stay away from it.

#7. Speed and Violence

These two factors are critical in any firefight, as they give you a massive advantage over the enemy. Whichever side is willing to commit to violence more, has the greater chance of winning. On top of that, you need to have the speed that’s essential to deliver the violence to the enemy. You can be as violent as a barbarian, but if you lack speed, you’ll simply be bogged down taking casualties while the enemy advances on your position.

In my articles “How to Clear a Room Tactically”, and “Following a Military Mindset for Preppers”, I mention speed and violence and how they offer an extreme advantage over any enemy. While sometimes a situation calls for patience, firefights require violence. Don’t be scared and freeze up in combat. Remember, the enemy is just as scared as you (more so if you’ve gained fire superiority).

In order to have speed on your side, you need to stay in shape. I preach physical fitness in a lot of my articles, and for a good reason. There’s simply no way you can keep up in an intense firefight, and still be ready for a follow-on mission (if necessary) if you’re out of shape. Speed requires cardio, and lots of it. Don’t worry, I’ll go over some techniques that us Infantrymen use to stay in shape.

#8. Physical Fitness

This is an absolutely essential factor when it comes to being tactically proficient, especially if you want to use similar tactics that we use in the military. All of our tactics revolve around our physical fitness, so you need to make it a major priority in your prepping drills. Getting big and strong is definitely essential, but cardio is just as important. One major factor that most people neglect with physical fitness, is nutrition.

Nutrition

You’ve probably heard a lot of “military diets” that guarantee major weight loss in just weeks, but I’m here to tell you it’s all bullshit. Military members are just like anyone else when it comes to food, there is no “secret pill” that the government issues us to make us superhuman. Just like there are fat civilians, there are also fat military members. With that being said, a majority of combat-oriented military members spend a lot of time and money into nutrition balance, because our survival depends on our physical fitness (just like yours might).

Carbs are a very important part of your daily meals, as they offer long-term energy that is essential to having enough gas in the tank to perform physically. You could get into “dirty and clean” carbs, but I’ll put it simply, stay away from junk foods. This includes fast food, if at all possible. Most of these foods are processed with a lot of fatty-acids that offer almost no beneficial nutrition. The ones that do offer other nutritious content, usually are outweighed by all of the bad in them as well.

Sweet potatoes are a great source of carbs, and they’re delicious (if they’re prepared correctly). Another great source of carbs are noodles. Don’t worry about going crazy with “whole grain” bread and noodles, unless weight loss is critical to get in shape. If you’re preparing over 80% of your food yourself (the healthy way), and staying away from junk/fast foods, you’ve already won the battle.

Protein is the ultimate power nutrient, as it is essential for muscle growth and recovery. I am a firm believer in protein shakes, but never replace full meals with these shakes unless weight loss is your ultimate goal. While there are many different classifications of protein (casein, isolate, etc.), keep it simple and just get whey protein. It mixes well with milk and tastes great, so keep things simple with supplements.

Another great source of protein is chicken, turkey, or beef (venison too). Any type of lean meat is an excellent choice when you’re looking for protein-packed foods. There are thousands of recipes on the internet that require five ingredients or less with beef that taste amazing. There’s really no excuses when it comes to eating healthy on your own, so stop making excuses and start making results.

Supplements

If you’re looking to gain the extra-edge when it comes to physical fitness, you may have looked into different supplements to give you the advantage. I’ve also experimented with various supplements, and I’m here to tell you to stay far away from them. You’ll get much better results from eating healthy, and devoting countless hours to physical training. There’s no pill out there that will give you Arnold muscles while you sit and watch TV.

The only exception to my supplement rule, is pre-workout (check with your doctor prior to taking it), BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), and protein powder. These three items will give you major results that won’t diminish as easily as they would if you relied on testosterone boosters, or supplements similar to them. Steroids are great for quick, easy gains, but they have long-lasting effects that will seriously harm your physical fitness once you cycle off of them.

Cardio

A lot of your physical fitness needs to revolve around cardio. You can be as strong as a giant, but without cardio, you’ll be as slow as a snail. Remember, speed and violence are essential for surviving a firefight, so you need to have speed on your side. Neglecting to focus on cardio will surely have disastrous results if your life depends on speed and endurance.

You don’t necessarily have to run five miles a day in order to build cardio endurance. You can get great results by doing what we in the military call 60×120’s (pronounced 60, 120’s). This workout is definitely not for the faint-hearted, it’s extremely grueling. All you need to do is set a goal (three sets for example), and sprint for one minute straight, followed by jogging for two minutes. Repeat this process until you reach your goal.

If you’re not quite there yet with cardio, too easy. Simplify the workout by jogging or sprinting for one minute, then walking briskly for two minutes. In almost no time at all, you’ll be surpassing your goals. Thus, you’ll build your cardio endurance to levels you never thought were possible.

Strength

I’m not going to get into an entire workout regimen, as that would take way too long to cater to your individual needs. Instead, I’ll go over the five basic workouts (look them up for directions) that us Infantrymen love to do in order to build bodily strength and muscular endurance. These five powerful workouts that we love are:

  • Push-Ups
  • Sit-Ups (or any ab exercise)
  • Air-Squats
  • Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups
  • Buddy-Carries

With these five basic exercises, you’ll build all the strength and endurance you’ll need to be able to perform optimally should SHTF. Don’t wait until a disaster happens to regret not maintaining your physical fitness, get on it now.

#9. Utilize Battlefield Multipliers

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Instead of concentrating on someone’s weakness, you should first observe their strengths. This rule specifically applies to prepping groups, because you can use everyone’s strength to the group’s advantage. Just like how the military is like one big clock, each job is a cog wheel that helps the clock operate.

Every group should have a person that specializes in an essential field: tech, medical, strength (for carrying heavy weight), compassion, and leadership. You may be wondering why I included compassion into the mix, but it’s for a very good reason. Having someone who can help ease the stress of the group and build morale, can be a major asset in even the worst times.

While everyone should have a minor specialty in each of these areas, you can’t have a group that’s good at everything. It’s simply not possible. Instead, focus on what each other is good at, and build your group off of those principles. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn different techniques from each other, as you can never stop learning. This way, if one person goes down, somebody else can pick up the slack that was laid down.

#10. Get Organized

This applies to both prepping groups, and lone-wolf preppers. Organization is key to every aspect of prepping, as it maintains accountability of both people (groups), and equipment. You don’t want to be scrambling around trying to find a piece of equipment when time is a necessity. Make sure you organize each and every piece of equipment, as well as items in your bug out bag. This way, you can access everything easily, and in low-light areas.

For prepping groups, organization is critical. Respectfully, you can’t have a group with too many leaders and not enough followers. Somebody needs to be the ultimate deciding factor when it comes to split-decisions, otherwise there will be mass hesitation when time is of the essence. This does not mean that your prepping group needs to be a dictatorship, because dictatorships are prone to anarchy. A majority of the decision making needs to be democratic, in order to include each team member’s input. When the time comes down to it, however, you need to have someone who’s willing to make the split-second tough call.

Wrap-Up

The military is full of useful tactics that preppers could use to their advantage both before, and after SHTF. The most important thing to remember, however, is practice. You can spend hours learning excellent information, but if you don’t put it into practice, you’ll surely forget it. Don’t try to cram your head with all of this information without trying to put it in a practical exercise.

Like I stated before, none of the information in this article is sensitive information. Everything I stated in this article is information you can easily find on google. I simply did you the favor by combining my personal first-hand experience with factual information to help you survive in case a disaster does strike. Never seek sensitive information from the military, most of the time, you’ll be fed the wrong information anyways. Don’t waste your time.

Survival is a complex game in the broad scheme of life. What tactics you use to help you gain the advantage over death, is what will determine whether you win or lose. Don’t place your trust in the wrong sources, otherwise you’ll both waste your time, and die when the situation calls for you to revert back to your “training”. Always trust your basic instincts (gut feeling) in a firefight. If something doesn’t feel right, it more than likely isn’t. Stay safe.

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About Reaper

Reaper
I’m an active-duty infantryman with the U.S. Army, and I’ve served a combined-service of over 5 years. Throughout my career, I’ve learned various survival techniques, as well as self-defense techniques. I specialize in weapons, long-range reconnaissance, distance shooting, and long-term isolation survival. I’m a very conservative, very “to the point” kind of person.

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