Evasion Skills Considerations for the Evader, Part Two – Forward Observer Shop

Evasion Skills Considerations for the Evader, Part Two

(This is Part Two of a two-part series.  Part One can be read here.)

E&E training in the US military and paramilitary cultures has traditionally focused in large part (although certainly not entirely) on what are fundamentally very elementary bushcraft skills such as fire-building, shelter construction, and building traps and snares for food procurement. Whiles these are not useless skills for either survival or simply being a well-rounded human being, if you as a “prepper” lack these skills, then you are woefully behind the power curve in your preparations.  E&E training needs to focus less on bushcraft and more on fieldcraft. That fieldcraft is the individual application of fundamental, basic light infantry skills.

  • Route Selection: While land navigation obviously involves a modicum of expertise with map and compass, an oft-overlooked aspect of tactical land navigation that is of equal importance, if not greater importance, is your ability to select a movement route that provides maximum tactical advantage to you as an evader. This ability, of course, requires a thorough understanding of terrain analysis on the map and on the ground, through a practical comprehension of METT-TC and OCOKA.

    Route selection for the evader needs to take maximum advantage of any available cover and concealment both during movement and for laying-up in hide sites for rest. You need to consider concealment not just from ground-mobile threats, but also from aerial observation and engagement in some situations. You need to be able to select a route and then adhere to that route, that makes active pursuit and tracking either impossible, or prohibitively difficult. Yes, that means you’ll probably need to be in good physical condition.

  • Move Tactically: We’ve previously discussed the individual skills required to move tactically with stealth for the guerrilla, and need not belabor the point here. Recognize however that while being able to run like a raped ape for a couple of miles, even with your rucksack and LBE on might be critical, and is something you should be capable of, slow and steady, when you’re trying to evade pursuit ultimately really does win the race. Moving slow and cautiously, whenever possible increases the chances that you can avoid doing something stupid to indicate your presence and location to the pursuit forces, and allows you to implement counter-tracking measures to slow down that pursuit as well. (I’m not any sort of a professional man-tracker. On a good day, I might be able to track a muddy dog through a hospital operating room. I do know it’s nearly impossible to completely foil a dedicated tactical tracking team that knows what they are doing. All we’re hoping for is to keep them busy enough looking for our sign and spoor that they don’t have much time to actually follow it.)

  • Camouflage and Concealment: Camouflage and concealment from observation is a critical aspect of tactical movement to avoid compromise and capture. Like the other basic infantry tasks we’ve previously discussed, this one should need no real introduction.

  • Select and Occupy a Hide Site: You’re going to have to stop and rest eventually. Whether you are capable of moving steady and safely for one day, two days, or five days, eventually, if you don’t rest, you’ll make stupid mistakes, like walking into a well-prepared ambush. However, especially in a solo evasion scenario, going to sleep violates the third principle of patrolling, “security,” doesn’t it? Only if you lack the ability to select and occupy a well-chosen hide site effectively. A hide site needs to be, first and foremost, hidden. It needs to be in a place that no pursuers are likely to accidentally trip into while searching for you. It needs to provide some way of forewarning you of the approach of pursuers. It needs to provide multiple egress routes, in case pursuers do get close enough that you are flushed out. Finally, if all else fails, it needs to provide you with adequate protection to allow you to fight and repel pursuit until you can effect an escape (not likely, where’s the harm in trying, right?).

  • Equipment Considerations: There is a lot of interest in building “survival kits” and “bug-out bags.” There’s no harm in that. What does appall me is the preponderance of otherwise sensible people who invest a lot of time and effort into building the silly little Altoids can based “survival kits” that then get thrown in their ruck with all of their other gear… all of their other gear that is specifically chosen to keep them alive in the field. If you adopt the previously discussed SMOLES concept for packing your rucksack, as well as for developing your fighting load and first-line gear, there’s really no reason to have a “survival kit in a can.” That is, after all, the reason for the three-echelon packing concept. If you’ve got your ruck and fighting load with you, then you should have the ability, equipment-wise anyway, to survive indefinitely. If you have to dump your ruck, or your EPA kicks in when you don’t have your ruck on, such as it sitting in an Objective Rally Point (ORP) when a raid or ambush goes to hell on your, you still have your fighting load and first-line gear on. If that was developed with SMOLES in mind, you probably won’t be as comfortable as you would be with your ruck on, but you should still be able to survive. If for some reason you have to dump your fighting load, then you’ve still got a full SMOLES load-out in your first line gear, and that should only get dumped if the pursuers are doing it by dumping your pockets after they’ve killed or captured you.

Evasion planning and training is a critical skill set in irregular/guerrilla warfare. Unfortunately, in American tradition, we tend to focus more on the easy to do bush craft aspects of it. Those are easy to practice in your backyard, or at the park, and require little or no real physical effort to learn and practice. The real, important aspects of evasion training however: being fit enough to go miles every day, day-after-day-after-day, on little sleep and rest, and less food, while thinking clearly enough to select good routes, and utilize a map-and-compass for land navigation to get your where you need to go; those require actual commitment to train and practice. Not learning and practicing them however, will result in an inability to escape and evade capture. Whether it’s regime security forces you’re fleeing, or a horde of cannibalistic San Franciscans, when the time comes to nut up and run, you’d better have the necessary skills and abilities. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up in the hot water, one way or another…

John Mosby is a former U.S. Army Special Operations soldier. He lives somewhere in the mountains.


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