In the previous article, I discussed concepts of viewing your neighborhood from the perspective of tactically defending it based upon the assumption of a national disaster that has rendered our nation in a crisis where there is no rule of law. This would be an extreme circumstance that we could only expect in the rarest of possibilities, but I do think it is an interesting thought exercise. My hypothetical scenario doesn’t necessarily depend on a complete government collapse, but we will assume there is no local law enforcement at the time.
Assuming this was the case and you lived in a neighborhood that was under a threat – that threat could range from relatively harmless looting (in the grand scheme of things) to something more organized and deadly like roaming gangs. I identified three types of people who you could conceivably in this scenario be threatened by:
- Desperate Nomads
- Bands of Criminals
I chose these three lose groups based upon the duration and severity of the event. We will assume that since there is no local law enforcement, the situation is very dire but the duration may only be relatively short. For example we could have an EMP that wipes out our technological infrastructure in our local area instantly, but people still have enough food to eat to prevent starving and riots haven’t begun yet. In that case, I don’t think you would see organized gangs of MS13 members rolling through the countryside, but you could easily see some looting as people took advantage of the temporary chaos.
Lastly, we have to assume for this series that your neighbors feel threatened like you and wish to partner with you to defend your collective home area from outsiders’ intent on doing you harm. I have one reader at least who lives in Utah and has a completely different relationship with his community but for the sake of this article, we will go on the assumption that your neighbors aren’t kicking you out at the first sign of trouble.
Establish Rules of Engagement
Before we talk about circling the wagons I believe it helps to discuss our planned response to any trouble that could come walking down the road. The term ‘Rules of Engagement’ simply put means what level of force are you going to bring on the people you are preparing to defend your neighborhood from. In this case, anyone who is or has breached your neighborhood watch on steroids and plans to or has conducted what we would consider criminal activity. This is probably one of the easiest and most difficult moral and ethical calls to make, but I think it is important that you and your group both understand and agree with what will be done with people who are caught or who must be prevented from getting in.
These rules will most likely not be hard and fast rules, but could vary dependent on the situation. For example, if you are posted on the perimeter of your area of control (the end of your street) and someone approaches you while you are on guard defending your home from looting, is looking for food, you wouldn’t use deadly force on this person. On the opposite side of the spectrum if someone was in a vehicle approaching your roadblock at a high rate of speed and refused to stop or alter course after an escalation of warnings, deadly force might be your only option. What if the threat was a global pandemic and the person approaching showed obvious signs of some form of sickness? It highly depends on the scenario and the situation. So with so much ambiguity, what good are any so called “rules”.
In war, the Rules of Engagement let our military forces know exactly what is expected of them. For example, ‘don’t fire unless you are fired upon’ is pretty simple to understand. With this rule your team should limit the number of deaths to only those people who have clearly demonstrated they intend to do you harm. If they shoot at you first, it is then technically OK (according to rules of engagement) to blow their heads off. Again, this is war I am talking about.
In a collapse scenario without any rule of law there are so many factors you have to take into consideration. It is very possible that whatever you do could come under legal scrutiny if and when the system is restored. If this happens, you may have to answer for your actions so careful consideration should be given to the level of force you plan to carry out in the duty of protecting your neighborhood. One goal should be to prevent as much as possible someone going off half-cocked and killing someone because they are scared or stupid. It is for this reason that I think it is helpful to have rules of engagement for your neighborhood watch. In most practical cases, you can not bring deadly force on someone who is stealing. Even if they are stealing your TV from your home. Deadly force is reserved for when your life or the lives of others are threatened. You would be on the wrong side of the law if you shot them. The event and severity will dictate to you what those rules should be in your situation and hopefully, wiser heads would prevail.
is going to help you make decisions, make plans and adjust your tactics. Intelligence is vital if you plan on carrying out an effective defense of your location. Without intelligence you are limited in your scope of knowledge to what you can see and hear.
There are two immediate areas that you can gain intelligence on and they focus immediately on the access areas and the approaches toward your observation posts as well as further out. Now, a reader commented on my other post that having patrols is not realistic. That is probably very true if the crisis hits and it is only you and 2 neighbors who are guarding everything. If you have 50 people in a few dozen homes it becomes much more feasible and patrols outside of your neighborhood will give you better intelligence on what is going on around you as well as alert you to threats much earlier. With roving patrols, you could radio back to the rest of the group intelligence about who or what is approaching. Even minutes advance notice could give your group more time to prepare and the edge in any confrontation.
In our neighborhood we have just a few streets in but we are not surrounded by walls. Our first priority would be to prevent access to vehicle traffic that wasn’t approved. We could do this in a number of ways that I will go into on tomorrow’s post but you would also have foot traffic. People dismiss the idea of the Golden Horde, but I do believe in a scenario that I described where there has been some crisis that has temporarily eliminated local law enforcement you could see people traveling from their homes looking for safety, food or shelter. It just depends on what the disaster is.
For people who are approaching on foot you will want to gather and report at a minimum the following:
- Number – This is simply how many of them there are. If this differs from the number that actually show up you could assume that one or more of them is hiding. Is this for their safety or to ambush you?
- Disposition – Are they armed? Do they look like they could be trouble, or is it a woman with a small child (not that they can’t be trouble too)
- Direction of approach – Where are they coming from? Are they coming down the road or through the woods?
All of this should be relayed to the rest of the team on your neighborhood watch so they are aware of the situation and have the intelligence they need to take action should your position be overrun or compromised in some way. This is a perfect time for a great radio system and I will go over some relatively simple and inexpensive options tomorrow.
What are you going to do when people show up? This is when some of your Rules of Engagement will need to come into play but maybe more importantly wisdom and maturity. If these people get to your location, what will your plan be to address them? What if they are lost and need directions or food? What if this is someone in a car? What if it is 4 guys with tattoos that you have never seen before in a car with guns and they say they live in the house on the next block? What will your plan be to first stop them, interrogate them for information that could validate their story or turn them around? What will your plan be if they start shooting? What if you do not have any weapons?
I know there are people out there who will instinctively think that what I am discussing is a little odd. I mean, how bad society could get for us to see that type of behavior on our streets? There is no way our government would allow anything like this to happen because FEMA would be right down the street soon you say with food and blankets and care packages from churches all over the world. It would have to be bad, I will certainly give you that, but it isn’t without precedent. You only have to look at any number of conflicts or wars to see innocents killed by bad people. Right now, groups like ISIS are running around and shooting hundreds of people for the fun of it. You might think it could never happen in our country and I hope you are right. But you don’t have to have a militant army running around to have violence. Just look at riots and looting and 100’s of teens swarming a shopping center and beating 3 people. Violence happens here too all the time. When it comes down your street would you rather you had a plan or just blind faith that nothing like that could happen to you?
Again, this is hypothetical and would only happen in dire circumstances. I don’t wish for any future reality like this to ever visit my neighborhood, but as part of prepping I do think of scenarios like this. I hope I never have to put them into practice.