View Full Version : Urban Bug Out v1.1 - Reboot

12-13-2012, 4:15 PM
Ok, I started a thread on this basic topic earlier and apparently I completely messed it up, because apparently a lot of people responded to it in a way that made me think I completely confused them about the purpose of the thread. I had a story to place the exercise "in context" but that got completely off track by people focusing on the story rather than the exercise.

So I'd like to humbly start over, and hopefully do a better job this time.

Most of us realize it's no good to have gear if you don't have the skills to use it. And the way you develop skills is by actually doing. To this end, many of us stage "drills" or dry-run tests to actaully put the gear (and ourselves) through the paces and see how it (we) hold up. The most effective of these types of drills is where instead of being practiced separately, the skills tests are strung together in a daisy chain under a reasonable facimilie of field conditions. For instance it's one thing to start a fire in your driveway with a bow-drill on a bright summers day with wood shavings you gathered off your woodshop floor. It's another thing to do it out in the woods, with a fair breeze blowing, after a good rain has soaked the area a couple of days earlier, using just gathered tinder. Two totally different propositions, aren't they?

I have done drills of this sort before. Of course there have been forced-march backpacking treks in the woods, up hill and down, sleep-outs in freezing weather, and car-camping with all kinds of gear. We've done bug-in drills where we turned off all the utilities for a 3-day weekend and made do. We've learned a lot from all of these things.

Now - I'm ready for something different. How about a walk (3-5 miles) across an urban landscape at night, with an overnight stay at some kind of "austere" indoor location (you can imagine here: warehouse, garage, bus depot, etc) that is shared with others not of your group where there is no working restroom, flowing (but not drinkable) water, and "sometimes" access to electricity. Somewhere along the way the group will have an "event" of some kind - accident or attack - that leaves them muddied and bloodied. They will have to find a place to huddle up for a few minutes while the medic tends to those who need attention. To top it all off, the morning following the overnight stay the group will need to look presentable... more like "travelers" than "refugees". This would be for a small group of 5-8 people.

Objectives will include:
Capture the "urban feel" experience in a way that a woods hike cannot replicate
Keep a low profile (noise and light discipline, not overtly attract attention)
Stay safe (obviously we will not be hiking down Main Street with AR's at the ready - there are other options)
Communicate (radio and/or hand signals)
Test various skills (radio, hand signals, various roles such as "point" etc)
Meet a timetable (3 hours for the hike)
Manage a reasonably bearable night
Look presentable in the morning

I think it sounds like a reasonably "fun" activity, and a good test of various urban survival skills. The group members consist of average people, both men and women without formal military/commando/survivalist training. The object would be to test (put into practice) things we do know, and likely discover many things we did NOT know that the exercise reveals to us.

Comments, suggestions? The object here being to accomplish the objectives rather than to try to justify them within the context of any kind of scenario. They are what they are, and we want to test and experience them. How to do so effectively, legally, safely, and come away from the experience having learned something?

12-13-2012, 4:19 PM
Some additional comments:

In our group's case, this would take place in the Sacramento area. This is a medium-sized metro area.

We don't want to draw unwanted attention from law enforcement or from the general public. There will be no camo uniforms or visible firearms. No laws will be violated. This will simply look like a group of friends wearing small backpacks walking down the street in a completely lawful and non-disruptive way. It may seem a little odd to some people who observe, but hey this is california and "odd" rarely makes it onto anyone's radar unless that "odd" is also acompanied by "threatening".

My thought is to keep the group mostly together. Have on person about half a block ahead ("scout" or "point") to identify potential items of interest and one about half to 1/4 block behind ("tail-gunner" or "rear watch") to prevent the group being taken by surprise from the rear. Both leading/trailing observers will need a radio as well as someone in the main group.

This group needs to learn to move quietly without acting "suspicious" in a way that would attract attention. There should be no lights on unless absolutely necessary, and whenever possible that should be a red light to preserve night vision. Medic will need the white light to inspect wounds... with a red light you can't tell blood from snot. All gear will need to be secured so it does not clatter, rattle, bang, rustle or flap around as the group moves. I bought some new boots six weeks ago and one of them has developed a squeak. It's kind of loud too, like a footstep in cold, crunchy snow. What to do about that? I might need to talk to a shoe guy. The "scout" should be on the lookout for "clues" in the form of notes taped or thumbtacked which notify him of something he "noticed" and he will have to contact the group to advise them. Maybe mix that up with chalk on the sidewalk. The point of that exercise being to OBSERVE and not simply "see". Positions will rotate out periodically to give everyone a chance. Tail-gunner will have to check in periodically, make sure we know they're still bringing up the rear. I'd like to practice getting behind some kind of cover when car headlights are about to pass... but it's a challenge to do this in a way that would be effective and still not draw more attention than it avoids. Point/rear have a little advance notice, and can squat down, pretending to tie a shoelace. Main group has a little more time to disolve into the shadows, try to look casual about it.

I'm considering ways to use non-traditional routes such as railroad tracks or storm drainage canals, which are frequently dry most months of the year here. Not sure about trespass/legality but will look into it.

Homeless are mostly harmless. Street criminals... could be an issue. Nosy neighborhood watchers might be an issue. Have to choose the route carefully. Got to avoid the "bad neighborhood" but also the "gated community" full of curtain-twitchers who call in every stray cat or unfamiliar vehicle.

Lots to think about for this one.