Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Not That Easy (Shelter), Part Three

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

Before we begin, I have something to say.

I talked with my brothers, and they suggested that I stick to defensive operations (How to protect yourself) and stay away from offensive operations (How to attack other people).

Just so you know.

As always, the first priority in survival is thinking, so we have to have a plan.

First, take a big sheet of paper and draw a picture of your home's layout. Next draw in your yard then draw in everything else out to 600 yards.

The picture to the right is a general layout of our home, its yard, and everything out to 600 yards.

Why 600 yards?

Because, you should be able to shoot that far. Yes, even with an AR-15 rifle

Next, you mark on the paper all the dead space within that 600 yards.

Needless to say, I have a lot of dead space around my family's home; most of that dead space, I can do nothing about!  : - (

But the dead space that I can do something about, I will so something.

As suggested earlier, I can fill in some of the dead space with soil, bring it up level with the surrounding area, so no one can hide in the shallow area

Another suggestion is to plant prickly plants, like roses, thorny blackberry bushes, or cacti. This method is similar to those suggestions about improving the security of your home. But, Remember! You still have to be able to see into those areas.

Another suggestion is to place a solar-powered electric fence in those dead space areas.

Next, I am going to come up with a plan for wire obstacles.

Slow 'em Down

One possible obstacle, I didn't mention earlier, is the common chain-liked fence. It is seen throughout these United States, so no one will notice it, especially in older neighborhoods.

My suggestion/idea is to install a four feet high fence around the front yard, anyone trying to get into the yard must go through the gate or hop the fence. Making them noticeable and slowing them down.

The possible cover story for this obstacle is 'I want to keep the children/dog from going out into the street.' Plus, you can see folks (and any possible threats) through the fence.

Note: Needless to say, once bad times happen, you and your family add barbed-wire or concertina wire to the top of the fences.

Along the back property line is a six-feet high chain-linked fence. It is a lot harder to jump over in one easy motion.

Remember! Obstacles slow down the attacker making them easier to hit with rifle fire.

Now, for you folks on some property, and a little cash, I'm going to tell you the second reason behind wire obstacles.

Channel the Villains

As you plan where your obstacles are going to be placed, in an emergency. Try and cause any villains to be directed into the areas where you and your family will have the best observation and most accurate fire.

As you can see from the design of our home, we don't have windows on all sides of the house, so we will need to either knock a hole in the wall or design our wire obstacles to channel the villains to the areas with windows.

Remember!, Remember!!, Remember!!! (I really mean REMEMBER!!!)

An obstacles with no observation on the obstacle is easily reduced (Reduced is military speak for went around, bypassed, ignored, removed, destroyed, ...)

But I Live in the 'Burbs

Now, most folks are going to speak up and point out that they live in the suburbs. Their neighbors' homes are less than 50 feet away.

You guessed it! You and your neighbors are going to have to band together. You'll have to string wire, post guards, run patrols, ... Basically, you and yours are going to have to form a militia.

Will Never, Ever Happen. Well, It Might Happen ...

because it has happened in the past, the recent past.

Ok, here's where I start writing about the crazy sh*t.

Your wire obstacles should be designed to stop villains from getting within 35 meters (38 yards), so they can't throw hand grenades or fire bombs into your home's windows.

Wire obstacles are also used to keep friendlies from accidently wandering into your minefields. The friendly side of the mine field and the minefield's sides are fenced with barbed-wire or concertina wire. Only one side (the side towards the villains) is open this allows the villains to walk into the minefield with no warning.

I have something to say, but I haven't figured it out, yet. So no blah, blah, blah for now.

In conclusion, obstacles are designed to do two things, slow down villains and channel them into your fields of fire.

Seton Hall University - FM 7-8: Infantry Platoon and Squad

General Dennis J. Reimer Training and Doctrine Digital Library (RDL) - FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad

U.S. Marine Corps - FM 20-32 Mine/Counter Mine Operations Danger Room - Video: Troops Fend Off Kabul Attack, Launch P.R. Counterstrike
Note: I linked to this video to illustrate how folks will improvise shelter/defensive structures from available material.

Home and Garden Television - How to Add Security Plants to Your Yard

Home Security - Securing Your Home With Plants, Trees & Shrubs

The Gentle Survivalist - Home Security and Perimeter Protection

Garden - List of Flowering Plants With Thorns

Wikipedia - Molotov Cocktail
Note: Vyacheslav Molotov, the great Bolshevik, is credited with inventing the Molotov Cocktail ; - )

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's Not That Easy (Shelter), Part Two

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

In most disaster situations (90% to 95% of them), a typical stick-built home will be fine, if alternative water, heating/cooking, lighting, and sanitation plans are in place. These alternate plans should cover a disaster with and without electricity.

However, there is the possibility that groups of villains will attack you and your family's home to take your preps. Last week's article covered some long-term ideas for your home to protect your family.


What can you do outside of your home to slow down your attackers?

First, you can eliminate dead space. Dead space is any place that can not be covered by a firearm's fire. Dead space can be a low spot in your yard or a ditch, or it can be behind a thick tree or behind a gardening berm.

Yea, dead space can be behind your garden's raised beds that your husband built for you last summer.

Now, the best method of eliminating dead space is for you and a partner to identify those areas of dead space.

Basically, one person gets into the shooting position and the other person walks in the area covered by that shooter. Any area in the yard that the shooter can not see the walker's shins is dead space.

Once any dead space is identified, it is filled in with dirt, removed, or remodeled as needed.

If you can not fill in or remove the dead space, you are going to have to come up with a plan of dealing with the dead space during an attack.

After eliminating dead space, the next thing you can do is to put in obstacles.

Before I begin, Remember!

the "All Obstacles Must Be Observed" rule.

The first set of obstacles, I am going to write about, are wire obstacles; they can be made out of smooth wire, barbed wire, or concertina wire.

Smooth Wire

Students pulling a 'patient' through a wire obstacle during
an U.S. Air Force Phoenix Raven Class
Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
One type of smooth wire obstacle is Tangle Foot. It is placed in areas that villains will have to run through to avoid getting shot. Tangle foot is wire that is usually ankle to knee high, tied to posts.

Ya, ya... I know the picture shows barbed wire, but the picture was the best I could find for tangle foot. Plus, the picture shows what could happen if the tangle foot is placed too high.

Another obstacle that smooth wire is used for is an electrified fence. The electric fence wire is placed on wooden or metal fence posts, with insulators, just like a barbed wire fence then electrified.

Barbed Wire

Fence and Bog Pool, Pringle's Green
Chris Eilbeck
If you ask someone to describe a barbed wire fence, most folks will tell you about a 3 to 4 strand fence like the picture to the left. It is the typical fence that most people will use to keep livestock, and no one will notice this type of fence in your fields.

Mother Earth News has an article that gives great advice on How to Build a Barbed Wire Fence.

But, this post is about wire obstacles.

Several years ago, I came across an article, by an United States Army combat engineer. The article dealt with secretly building a wire obstacle. The author suggested that a combat engineer first build a typical barbed wire fence. Just like you, the enemy wouldn't notice a 4 to 6 strand fence running across a field. Once it got dark or the enemy was heading that way, a group of soldiers would add the single or double aprons to the fence.

Concertina Wire

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment,
breach a concertina wire obstacle
Specialist Henry
Concertina wire is razor wire wrapped around a very hard wire forming circles. This sh*t is bad.

To cut the inner wire, you will need more than an ordinary wire cutter. The soldiers in this picture are using bolt cutter to cut through the concertina wire.

Did I tell you, it's tough and sharp, very sharp.

OK. This finishes the general descriptions of the types of wire used in wire obstacles. Hopefully, I'll have some information for you about using this stuff, this Saturday.

The Free Dictionary - Dead Space

Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) - JP-315: Barriers, Obstacles, and Mine Warfare for Joint Operations
Note: This is a 'big picture' military publication

On Violence - If An Abatis Falls in a Forest, But the Enemy Didn't Observe It, Did It Really Happen?
Note: This article argues against the "All Obstacles Must Be Observed" rule.

Global Security.orgy - FM 5-102: Countermobility

Reimer Digital Library - FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad

Global Security - EN0065: Field Fortifications

Global Security - Army Correspondence Course Program (ACCP)
Note: A collection of these United States Army correspondence courses. They cover a wide range of self-study courses

Wikipedia - Agricultural Fencing

Wikipedia - Barbed Wire

Mother Earth News - How to Build a Barbed Wire Fence

American Fence and Supply - Building A Fence With Gaucho® High Tensile Barbed Wire and Field Fence

Wikipedia - Concertina Wire

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's Not That Easy (Shelter)

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

The other day, I was watching the news, and a commentator was reporting about some disaster. As usual, folks had no food or water; their houses and businesses were destroyed. At the end of the segment, the commentator asked what do the people affected by the disaster do next.


They focus on the priorities and improvise as needed.





Protection, Medical, Clothing, Communications, Transportation, and ... until everyone is safe or buried.

Before I begin, if you think a violent collapse will never happen, I need for you to stop reading. Instead I want you to click on the above links, read the past articles, and get started on your family's preps.

For those folks planning for a possible violent collapse, let's begin.

Living in a typical "stick built" home during a violent collapse could be a death sentence for you and your family. These homes are easily destroyed by fire and offer little ballistic protection for your family. Plus, a typical home is ill-suited for mounting a defense against marauders.

Now, some folks will suggest that you download and read FM 5-103 "Survivability" and FM 90-10-1 "An Infantryman's Guide to Combat in Built-Up Areas" These field manuals, from these United States Army, will instruct you on how to fortify a home to withstand an attack. These manuals will tell you to place sandbags (they should be filled with soil not sand) to protect you and your family while shooting. This is good advise, but ...

I had a buddy do this during his military tour in Berlin. His platoon (about 20 people) was told to fortify a two-story wooded building, just like your home, according to FM 5-103 and FM 90-10-1. He said once they were finished; they couldn't go into the building until they had reinforced the floors, walls, and ceiling with timber supports because of all the added weight from the filled sandbags.

The next problem with staying in your home is your home isn't designed to be defended.

Let me explain.

You have obtained all the sandbags you and your family need, filled the bags with soil, reinforced your home's floors and walls, and have the sandbags properly stacked inside your home by the windows, protecting your family's firing positions.

Note: Make sure you have sandbags on all four sides of your firing position. Bullets will penetrate your home's walls, even the the walls behind you!

Once you have done all this stuff, you have to ask yourself the question: Do all the firing positions cover the whole house?

Dead Space Outside a Typical Home

Probably not because a typical home is either a square or rectangle. These shapes prohibit defenders (you and your family) from shooting at the corners of the house. This dead space will allow attackers to be protected from your firearm's fire just because of the attacker's location. The attackers will then be able to have a safe place to attack your family.

So what's a very serious prepper or survivalist to do?

Build a home that can be defended.

Yep! If you think a violent collapse is likely, within your lifetime or your children's lifetime, you need to be building a home that can be defended from a violent attack. One design is a cross-shaped home.

Cross-Shaped Home for Better Defense

Note: I apologize. I haven't explained the pictures. The lines coming from the middle of the drawing are the bullets' paths.

Notice, the difference between the two houses designs. The square/rectangle shaped house allows dead space to touch the home. The cross-shaped home makes the attacker move (walk, run, crawl) though a hail of bullets before reaching the house.

Next, the serious prepper or survivalist needs to ensure the walls of their home can stop bullets. The only product that I have found that can do that is ICF (insulated concrete forms), and ICF has a high insulating factor. (Because we still have to prep for power outages, bad weather, and lowering our fuel usage.) Your home should also have bullet resistant shutters covering the windows, at least on the lower floors, and a metal roofing system.

Now, some folks are going to say that I am f*cking crazy, (I am) but it's do able. Building with insulated concrete forms (ICF) only adds about 10% to the cost of a home. That cost is recouped from lower fuel bills and lower insurance rates (Remember, fire is the number one threat to preppers/survivalists) Plus, you can always build a smaller home. It will be easier to heat and defend.

And that leads to my next point.

Survivalists and prepper families don't have enough folks to effectively mount a defense of a typical home. A square or rectangular home should have two people on each side, 8 people. The cross-shaped house should have at least one person on each 'side' of the house. (Twelve 'sides' equals 12 people) during an attack. More people would be better, so any of the sides could be reinforced or a wounded person replaced.

Heck, most preppers and survivalists don't have enough people to effectively have a 24-hour observation team of two people. (LP/OP in military speak).

Note: I might write about LP/OPs in a couple of months.

My brothers and I have talked about this issue. We have several suggestions.

The first idea we talked about was to look at the Scottish clan model. Members of an extended family, related by blood and marriage work together to build a fortified home. The 'home' place is large enough to allow for the 'clan' to expand, if needed during an emergency.

Another idea is for one family to build the place and 'invite' others (friends, close relatives, coworkers, and ...) to come on down during a disaster. The invited folks may or may not be required to cache supplies.

The last idea, I'll mention, is a combining of the first two ideas. A group of friends build a fortified place, together. Each family is required to provide support for the group (buildings, water well/water catchment, and other projects) and for themselves (food, guns/ammo, and a whole lot of other stuff)

Boer War Block House, South Africa (circa 1901)
Danie van der Merwe

The Sentinel Blockhouse in Burgersdorp, South Africa
Leo za1

All three ideas have their pros and cons, but all three might not work for those folks planning for a multigenerational event. Those folks are going to have livestock, and livestock needs to be protected.

One idea from history, on at least three continents and one island, is the fortified farm. France, South Africa, these United States, and England offer examples for us to look at.

In South Africa, there is one fortified farm house that I would like to highlight. It is called Barville Park. It has a two-story house, a two story barn, and a 6 to 8 feet high wall connecting them.

A home like this could be built in three stages.

First the house, as I mentioned earlier, the house would be a two-story home with thick concrete walls, bullet resistant shutters covering the lower story windows, and a metal roof.

In one description of the Barville Park farm, the walls of the house are over six-feet thick.

The next step would be to build the barn. Just like the house it would have thick walls, and all first story windows would be on the inside facing the future courtyard.

Possibly, just like the block houses, the barn would have an overhang that would allow folks to shoot along the walls, stopping any attackers from getting close to the wall.

Lastly, or the second step, would be to build a wall. The wall would be only one and a half stories tall. The wall would be as thick or thicker then the walls of the barn.

Needless to say, any gate would have to be strong enough to prevent villains from ramming through it.

I would like for you to notice that the house and barn are offset from the wall. This allows you and your family to shoot, from loopholes on the first floor or small windows on the second floor, along the wall

Of course, there is a flaw in this design. Unless you have an overhang, like the block houses, for firing at the two corners, dead space touches your home and barn.

Remember, dead space allows an attacker protection from your weapons.

OK. Before I leave, I would like to talk to you about walls. I like walls for a couple of reasons. First, they slow down attackers. Second, if they are thick enough, they stop bullets. Lastly, they can look very cool, as in castle cool.

But you have to be careful.

Walls should never be taller then your home. Walls taller then your home allow villains to shoot into your home from the wall.

It's the same principal as your home should be on a hilltop or a rise (the highest point in the immediate area)

The French forgot this when they were building their big military base at Dien Bien Phu, in the 1950s.

Next, walls should have a place that allow you or your family to fire over or through the wall from a protected place. On castles, they are called crenelations. They are the saw-tooth looking things on top of castle walls.


You could make something like arrow-loops. They are holes in the wall that allow defenders to fire arrows (you should be using firearms) from a protected position.

Lastly, at least about walls, the walls should be taller then a standing person, but you won't be able to fire over it. One way of doing that is having a firing step.

When you want to fire, you step up, fire, and step down. This will protect you from return fire. Plus, you can move to a different firing position without bring seen.

That's it, for now.

Before I go. Some folks will think I'm crazy (I am) for suggesting that you and your family build an elaborate fortified home.

Hey, it's your choice how much you get prepared for the disasters you and your family are preparing for, but ...


If you think something bad is going to happen, and you do nothing about it. You really don't believe; it could happen.


LP/OP - Listening Post/Observation Post

Global Security - FM 5-103 Survivability

Duffer's Drift - The Defence of Duffer's Drift

Wikipedia - Insulated Concrete Form

Wikimedia Commons- BoerWarBlockHouse SouthAfrica.jpg by Danie van der Merwe

Wikimedia Commons - Burgersdorp: Sentinel 001.jpg by Leo za1

Wikipedia - South African Farm Attacks - Barville Park, Details

Visit - Fortified Towers and Houses in South and East Cumbria Military History - First Indochina War: Battle of Dien Bien Phu

The Castles of Wales - Castle Terminology