I overslept this morning and when that happens it is usually because I have had a "flashback" dream.
My flashbacks are not of the terror sort, usually just dreams of situations I have mulled over in my mind while wondering what I could have done differently. Many involve my x-wife (the most terrifying period of my life!) but occasionally one is about the time I spent in service.
A friend wrote a small book a while back relating his activities in the Special Forces 40 years ago to the historic reenactments we were engaged in at that time, specifically British light infantry and the colonial scouts of the 7 Years War in North America. The group called Rodger's Rangers being the prominent unit but there were others in the north and south and some ranging units in North America date back to the late 1600s.
I was reviewing this book over the weekend (the reason for the dream sequence) and realized that almost every proponent of "bugging out" seems to have a list of provisions for rebuilding the world, or marching for a month to get home, that one should carry on their backs but no one gives any mention of how to travel wisely during the various levels of danger a bug out, or "Get Home" would envelope.
A proper BO/GH during a crisis is very much like a military reconnaissance mission scaled for the number of people involved. Your job is to get to the objective, or home, without being detained and avoiding all detection or contact with the "enemy".
No matter what the threat level is that is causing your movement, from a simple traffic gridlock with no violence involved right up to serious breakdown of ROL there is one requirement that is uniform, your need for security.
This need for security over rules all other points of navigation. Your peace time skill with map and compass, or even use of the GPS, must take second place to insuring security and safety while moving.
The situation can be rural or urban, the rules are the same. Security and avoiding detection dominate the process.
And whether one is traveling alone or with a group there is one security position that will always be in place, that is the person walking "point".
In a group of one you are the first man out and that is the point.
In some places that person may be known as the pilot, lead, or scout. He/She is out front and their job is to keep the movement safe by observing threats on the trail, hazards to movement, natural barriers and possible choke points or ambush points.
The point can not perform his function if his head is buried in a map or their nose against a compass aimed at a mountain in the distance.
The navigator chooses a reference point and tells the point what that feature is and the point heads in that general direction while skirting any danger he encounters on the way.
The point is constantly scouring the horizon, checking movement in his peripheral vision, looking for tracks that indicate hostile movement, looking for enemies in wait or moving around obstacles or danger areas while maintaining a general movement toward the objective.
He/she is ahead of the unit if more than one person is present. If two people are present one is point and the other watches the rear, which is equally important. If three are present security duties to the flanks are spread among the group but one thing will be uniform for all involved;
THEIR HEADS MUST BE ON A SWIVEL AT ALL TIMES!
Not only do you use your eyes, but also your ears and smell. May times you can "listen" your way around danger. Talking, clattering, sounds of unsecured equipment, sounds of general life, dogs barking or a camp setting are all danger signs and you go around them, even if you never see them.
Since sound/hearing is so important the person or group must engage in strict sound discipline. All equipment must be tied down or secured. Nothing hanging from the pack, everything inside. No talking, no mumbling, and all voice comms in whisper mode, and that is not a civilian "whisper", it is a whisper that must be lips to ear volume. Much better to work out a few simple hand signals. Most patrol units can carry on a lengthy conversation using hand signals and they can be seen at a distance and do not need shouting across a 50 yard interval.
360 degree security is always necessary. If you are alone you still must have 360 degree security and observation at all times. This means your head is spinning constantly and you are twitching like a puppet on strings. The only time you relax is when you are in a completely secure facility, and then you wonder if everyone else is doing their jobs right!
You do not pitch a tent, crawl in and sleep. You do not lay down and crash dead to the world, snoring like a drunken sailor. You do not unpack you bag, remove your boots or lay your weapon aside. You do not take out your torch to read for a minute or consult the map. You do not smoke. You do not build a fire or start up the stove and brew a cup.
You do your brew up and eat leaving no trace, then you move for another hour before you stop.
If dark comes you might find a secure spot, wrap yourself in a blanket and sit leaning against a wall or tree, but remember, your first sight when you wake might be a grubby group of hostile people who already have the drop on you.
And you wake before dawn and leave your hide, find a spot and observe for a few moments to see if you were known. If not you proceed. If you were you run like he!!.
Sometime an hour latter you find a good hide, stop and brew your cup, then quickly move along.
Why is 360 degree security needed? Because most enemy movements will approach you from the side. Because if your trail is discovered by enemies they will advance on you from the rear. Because most ambushes are sprung from the front or side and because you will encounter enemy security lines/checkpoints/roadblocks as you advance to the front.
You want to avoid all these things so you MUST see/hear them before they see you.
It might seem that traveling in a group would make things easier but in reality it is easier for a single individual or two people to move undetected across the countryside than a group. Even if you are moving due to a nonviolent event one or two people with light packs will not draw much interest from residents when a group of 6-8 would gather attention.
The real trick is to know when you can afford to have attention and when you can not, and know how to move safely in each scenario. Sometimes being seen is not a problem, other times being seen might mean a group gathering to follow you to your objective or to intercept you before you reach it. They know the road and the land better than you. Best to not take chances.
And remember that the closer you get to "home" the more dangerous your situation. You will relax, let your guard down, stop suspecting trouble at every turn, ignore sounds and smells of danger. the closer you get to home the more inclined you are to channelize your movements and use common trails, inviting ambush within sight of your home.
And if a group has followed you the time after you arrive home should be considered a dangerous period. Someone should be on security at all times observing any unusual movement or strangers who suddenly appear.
I know that some may read this and say it does not apply to your situation but I assure you that these tidbits are passed down from hundreds of years of use and they work if used. They apply as much to moving down an urban street in a hostile riot, or escaping an active shooter event, as they do to war time reconnaissance.
There is much more to this, but I have said enough for now. Perhaps I will sleep tonight.