Re-Post: Principles of Tactical Defense – Part V: Fully Prepared Positions and Improvements

Originally posted on 5 March 2014.

Now we can get into making your progressively developed hasty position into a fully prepared defensive position, along with some things that will make you more comfortable.  Remember, though, progressive development to the depth described herein is for positions that you will be in for quite some time, so don’t fall into the trap that you don’t have a “worthy” prepared defensive position if you don’t have a log overhead and waterproofed cover; conversely, don’t lull yourself into the dangerous mindset when you’re laying in your hasty position that, “we’ll be leaving any minute now….aaaaaaaany minute… I don’t need to dig any more.”

So, first things first.

How deep do you dig once you have a hasty position dug properly?  Easy answer:  Keep working until you’re armpit deep.  For the entire length of the hole, whether straight or curved, for a two man position.  A field expedient measuring tool is your rifle.  If you have a M-Forgery, extend the stock all the way, and measure four lengths (nice and tight), but no more than six.  Mark it with a stick or something in the ground.

Field Fort 10

Don’t make it two wide; just wide enough to get in and out comfortably.  The text book says ‘the width of two bayonets’.  That makes it about 2 feet wide.  The smaller signature leaves the least amount of space for things that go ‘boom’ to be thrown into where you are at.  If you and your buddy are big guys, with huge, wide shoulders, you may need to make it wider.  If you’re the leprechaun type (small, dark and cocky), you might need it to be less wide.  The key here is customization.  Really.  Make it fit the two of you.

Now when you’re building your front cover with either the spoil or sandbags you’ve gotten from your ruck (you DO carry 2 or 3, right?), build the wall far enough away so that you can dig impressions that your elbows can rest in to lower your profile just a bit more.  (You should have gotten by now that you don’t want to fire over your front cover if you don’t have to, because it silhouettes you and makes it easier for the ‘apocalypse zombie sapper squad’ to shoot you in the face.  Another reason for firing from the oblique and letting a supporting position fire to your front until the shit really gets bad.)  You can also dig impressions for any bipod you may be using to support the firing of a captured zombie belt-fed (remember, the S has HTF, and you’re using a captured weapon.  In times of peace, all NFA rules apply).

Here’s an example of each:

Field Fort 11

Field Fort 12

Ok, now we tackle the problem of not shooting our guys that may be in our line of fire.  We do this with ‘sector of fire stakes.’  Tree limbs about 18 inches long make good stakes. The stakes must be sturdy and must stick out of the ground high enough to keep your rifle from being pointed out of your sector.  Figure about at least an inch in diameter; 2 inches is better.  Sharpen them so they’ll go in the ground easier.  Then, hammer in aiming stakes (about an inch in diameter so you can tell the difference between the two in the dark) to help you fire into dangerous approaches at night and at other times when visibility is poor.  Forked tree limbs about 12 inches long make good stakes. Put one stake near the edge of the hole to rest the stock of your rifle on. Then put another stake forward of the rear (first) stake toward each dangerous approach. The forward stakes are used to hold the rifle barrel. To change the direction of your fire from one approach to another, move the rifle barrel from one forward stake to another. Leave the stock of the rifle on the rear stake.  (The positions to your left and right and front (if you are the ‘in depth’ position) will appreciate your attention to detail if you get into the shit after dark…..just sayin’.)

Field Fort 13

Now we get into making sure that if the ‘apocalypse zombie sapper team’ has hand-launched indirect munitions (grenades) that we have a chance (just a chance) to survive that if it gets into the hole (“hole” is an affectionate term simplifying the phrase, “prepared defensive position” and we (meaning you) can’t get out in time to avoid detonation.

Dig grenade sumps.  Two of them.  In the floor (one on each end). If a zombie throws a grenade into the hole, kick or throw it into one of the sumps. The sump will absorb most of the blast. The rest of the blast will be directed straight up and out of the hole.  You need to be away from the sump you kicked it into.  This may seem obvious, but it’s better to take away all doubt while you’re reading this and not have to address it in the middle of a zombie assault on your prepared defensive position (that if you opened fire first, the ‘apocalypse zombie sapper squad’ will most likely think it’s an ambush if they were trained in standard immediate action drills).

Dig the grenade sumps:

  • As wide as the entrenching tool blade.
  • At least as deep as an entrenching tool.
  • As long as the position floor is wide.

You can also slope the floor of the hole toward the grenade sumps for a pre-rain water drainage improvement that may also help any grenades to roll into the sumps.  If the sumps are filled with water, that can help diffuse the detonation.  Not much, but every bit helps.  Here’s yet another illustration:

Field Fort 14

Overhead cover is next.  You won’t need it for protection from artillery fragments or airbursts (I hope), but it will help keep you dry when resting, and it will provide a barrier against observation from the air (especially if the position is camouflaged properly).  Once you have overhead cover, depending on how you build it, you essentially have a bunker.  This can be good and bad, as it can give you a false sense of security.   A fully developed position sometimes lends itself to the feeling of hiding rather than fighting.  Just keep in mind at all times, a prepared defensive position is something to fight from, not hide in.  The real danger of a fully prepared position is that an enemy can move all around to find the weaknesses of your defense plan; you are stationary.  And any defensive perimeter or position can be penetrated, given enough time.  So, it boils down to being ready to leave the position and move to a more advantageous location to wrest the initiative away from the ‘apocalypse zombie sapper team’ should the situation warrant.  End of digression.

Field Fort 15Field Fort 16

To be sure, there are many more variations of prepared defensive positions that given the time and material, you and your NPT could prepare to include trenches, specialized weapon positions, etc., but that’s not the scope of this series.  You now have the basic requirements necessary to build an effective position from a hasty scraping all the way to a fully developed 2 man position.

Time to get a good e-tool!

7 thoughts on “Re-Post: Principles of Tactical Defense – Part V: Fully Prepared Positions and Improvements

  1. Pingback: DTG: Principles of Tactical Defense – Part V: Fully Prepared Positions and Improvements | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. cultcha tourista

    Because you will not have an engineering squadron ahead of you to make comfy heated FOB’s with power and running water….

  3. Ray

    If you plan to fight tyrants , overhead cover is a MUST! As they have grenades, bloopers, ARRTY , TAC-AIR-and you don’t. What we do have is dirt , e-tools, and guile. But hell that is all the VC started with.

  4. Pingback: Defensive Formations: | The Defensive Training Group

  5. Pingback: Nine Months: Principles Of Tactical Defense | Western Rifle Shooters Association

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