Survival Movement in Hostile Areas: Execution
Upon notification to avoid capture, all movement team members will try to link up at the initial movement point. This point is where team members rally and actually begin their movement. Tentatively select the initial movement point during your planning phase through a map recon. Once on the ground, the team verifies this location or selects a better one. All team members must know its location. The initial movement point should be easy to locate and occupy for a minimum amount of time.
Once the team has rallied at the initial movement point, it must--
- Give first aid.
- Inventory its equipment (decide what to abandon, destroy, or take along).
- Apply camouflage.
- Make sure everyone knows the tentative hide locations.
- Ensure everyone knows the primary and alternate routes and rally points en route to the hide locations.
- Always maintain security.
- Split the team into smaller elements. The ideal element should have two to three members; however, it could include more depending on team equipment and experience.
The movement portion of returning to friendly control is the most dangerous as you are now most vulnerable. It is usually better to move at night because of the concealment darkness offers. Exceptions to such movement would be when moving through hazardous terrain or dense vegetation (for example, jungle or mountainous terrain). When moving, avoid the following even if it takes more time and energy to bypass:
- Obstacles and barriers.
- Roads and trails.
- Inhabited areas.
- Waterways and bridges.
- Natural lines of drift.
- Man-made structures.
- All civilian and military personnel.
Movement in enemy-held territory is a very slow and deliberate process. The slower you move and the more careful you are, the better. Your best security will be using your senses. Use your eyes and ears to detect people before they detect you. Make frequent listening halts. In daylight, observe a section of your route before you move along it. The distance you travel before you hide will depend on the enemy situation, your health, the terrain, the availability of cover and concealment for hiding, and the amount of darkness left.
Once you have moved into the area in which you want to hide (hide area), select a hide site. Keep the following formula in mind when selecting a hide site: BLISS.
B - Blends in with the surroundings.
L - Low in silhouette.
I - Irregular in shape.
S - Small in size.
S - Secluded.
Avoid the use of existing buildings or shelters. Usually, your best option will be to crawl into the thickest vegetation you can find. Construct any type of shelter within the hide area only in cold weather and desert environments. If you build a shelter, follow the BLISS formula.
Hide Site Activities
After you have located your hide site, do not move straight into it. Use a button hook or other deceptive technique to move to a position outside of the hide site. Conduct a listening halt before moving individually into the hide site. Be careful not to disturb or cut any vegetation. Once you have occupied the hide site, limit your activities to maintaining security, resting, camouflaging, and planning your next moves.
Maintain your security through visual scanning and listening. Upon detection of the enemy, the security personnel alert all personnel, even if the team's plan is to stay hidden and not move upon sighting the enemy. Take this action so that everyone is aware of the danger and ready to react.
If any team member leaves the team, give him a five-point contingency plan. Take such steps especially when a recon team or a work party is out of the hole-up or hide site.
It is extremely important to stay healthy and alert when trying to avoid capture. Take every opportunity to rest, but do not sacrifice security. Rotate security so that all members of your movement team can rest. Treat all injuries, no matter how minor. Loss of your health will mean loss of your ability to continue to avoid capture.
Camouflage is an important aspect of both moving and securing a hide site. Always use a buddy system to ensure that camouflage is complete. Ensure that team members blend with the hide site. Use natural or man-made materials. If you add any additional camouflage material to the hide site, do not cut vegetation in the immediate area.
Plan your next actions while at the hide site. Start your planning process immediately upon occupying the hide site. Inform all team members of their current location and designate an alternate hide site location. Once this is done, start planning for the team's next movement.
Planning the team's movement begins with a map recon. Choose the next hide area first. Then choose a primary and an alternate route to the hide area. In choosing the routes, do not use straight lines. Use one or two radical changes in direction. Pick the routes that offer the best cover and concealment, the fewest obstacles, and the least likelihood of contact with humans. There should be locations along the route where the team can get water. To aid team navigation, use azimuths, distances, checkpoints or steering marks, and corridors. Plan rally points and rendezvous points at intervals along the route.
Other planning considerations may fall under what the team already has in the team SOP. Examples are immediate action drills, actions on sighting the enemy, and hand-and-arm signals.
Once planning is complete, ensure everyone knows and memorizes the entire plan. The team members should know the distances and azimuths for the entire route to the next hide area. They should study the map and know the various terrain they will be moving across so that they can move without using the map.
Do not occupy a hide site for more than 24 hours. In most situations, hide during the day and move at night. Limit your actions in the hide site to those discussed above. Once in the hide site, restrict all movement to less than 45 centimeters above the ground. Do not build fires or prepare food. Smoke and food odors will reveal your location. Before leaving the hide site, sterilize it to prevent tracking.
After moving and hiding for several days, usually three or four, you or the movement team will have to move into a hole-up area. This is an area where you can rest, recuperate, and get and prepare food. Choose an area near a water source. You then have a place to get water, to place fishing devices, and to trap game. Since waterways are a line of communication, locate your hide site well away from the water.
The hole-up area should offer plenty of cover and concealment for movement in and around the area. Always maintain security while in the hole-up area. Always man the hole-up area. Actions in the hole-up area are the same as in hide site, except that you can move away from the hole-up area to get and prepare food. Actions in the hole-up area include--
- Selecting and occupying the next hide site (remember you are still in a dangerous situation; this is not a friendly area).
- Reconnoitering the area for resources and potential concealed movement routes to the alternate hide site.
- Gathering food (nuts, berries, vegetables). When moving around the area for food, maintain security and avoid leaving tracks or other signs. When setting traps and snares, keep them well-camouflaged and in areas where people are not likely to discover them. Remember, the local population sometimes heavily travels trails near water sources.
- Getting water from sources within the hide area. Be careful not to leave tracks of signs along the banks of water sources when getting water. Moving on hard rocks or logs along the banks to get water will reduce the signs you leave.
- Setting clandestine fishing devices, such as stakeouts, below the surface of the water to avoid detection.
- Locating a fire site well away from the hide site. Use this site to prepare food or boil water. Camouflage and sterilize the fire site after each use. Be careful that smoke and light from the fire does not compromise the hole-up area.
While in the hole-up area, security is still your primary concern. Designate team members to perform specific tasks. To limit movement around the area, you may have a two-man team perform more than one task. For example, the team getting water could also set the fishing devices. Do not occupy the hole-up area longer than 72 hours.
Survival movement in hostile areas
Phases of planning |
Return to friendly control