Route Planning/Recon

One the best things you can do now, before a Without Rule of Law situation begins, is to conduct route planning and reconnaissance.

The basic principle is that you should have four different routes to and from everywhere you go on a regular basis.  When conducting a personal protection mission, the first step is route planning.

Route planning consists of identifying these four routes, then determining where the risk lies along that route, where safe havens are, where you can exit that route.

It’s important to note that route planning is very different when there is Rule of Law in place and when there is NOT Rule of Law.  For example, during normal day-to-day routines in a western nation, police stations and hospitals are natural safe havens, where you can find assistance and protection; however in a WROL (Without Rule of Law) situation like widespread rioting, they are the exact opposite…places to be avoided at all cost.

It may seem extreme, but as my good Twitter friend “Skip Collapsitarian” keeps reminding us, the Collapsitarian Olympics begin the day after the election.  There WILL BE widespread civil disorder in the weeks following the election, regardless of who wins.  States are already filing lawsuits to extend vote count days.  Prepare accordingly.

Discretion will protect you,

And understanding will guard you.

Proverbs 2:11

Discretion is the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation; understanding is knowing and applying that decision.  Based on that, Proverbs 2:11 tells you it’s best to plan ahead.

“Understanding will guard you” also means that we need to lose the normalcy bias that all will be better after the election.  It hasn’t gotten better for the last 4 years, what makes you think one day will put the genie back in the bottle?

The four routes that you should plan are:

  1. Primary
  2. Alternate
  3. Contingency
  4. Emergency

As you can see, the likelihood of you having to use each route goes down as you work your way down the list. PACE is a good way to remember them. PACE everything you do.

The primary and alternate routes should utilize major travel arteries, but preferably not highways, because protestors frequently obstruct them, and in a true WROL emergency, highways will be closed to all but emergency traffic (that’s the actual purpose of the highway system).  Contingency and emergency routes should use secondary streets and possibly even alleys, if you know that they are passable.

Once you have selected the routes, you need to do two things.

First, conduct a Map Recon.  A map recon is looking over a map, preferably paper, and identifying areas that may cause issues.  These areas include major intersections, areas with known congestion, high crime areas, etc.  The map study should also identify potential safe havens.  During normal operations, that would involve listing hospitals (including what level trauma center they are – You need level 1 for gunshot wounds), fire stations, police stations, and the like.  During WROL situations, a safe haven may be a known friendly position, a known government checkpoint, or an area previously decided on by your mutual aid group as a place to hide and wait for assistance (a safe house).  You also want to highlight no-go zones, such as areas of high crime, known construction zones, and the like.  These both apply in a WROL scenario, but you would add police stations, grocery stores, government facilities, pharmacies, and known areas of violence to the no-go list.

Route Recon

Second, you are going want to drive all four routes, conducting a route recon.  This involves actually driving the roads, noting areas of congestion, construction, areas where an attack may occur, and you may find paths you couldn’t see on a map (never discount driving along the alley behind a strip mall – it’s a concealed route and generally empty).

When doing both of these things, it is helpful to make a map overlay, or to write directly on the map this information (I prefer an overlay for security reasons – it can be destroyed and only you know what map it applies to).  You can list and highlight these various areas on the map with your own symbols or obtain a copy of NATO standard map symbols (my preference).

Battle Board Scout

I also use my BattleBoard Scout 4.0 for this – It has a polycarbonate window for exactly this purpose.  The BattleBoard products ( also usually have a LocSac, which is a waterproof cover that you can write on with dry or wet erase markers.  I prefer wet erase, because the information won’t be accidentally wiped away.  As an expedient tool, you can also do this with a standard sheet protector.  I also have a government issue Map Protector, which is a large format waterproof bag you zip a map into that you can write on.

After the map study and route recon, you may make adjustments to your routes based on what you learned.  There is absolutely NO SUBSTITUTE for putting your own eyes on things.  Yes, Google Maps has cool satellite mapping, but those photos aren’t looking at the same things you want to see, and they are conditions AS THEY WERE the day the photo was taken, not today.

After designing these routes, and then putting them into practice on your daily routine, remember every 60-90 days to re-run recon on your other routes, as conditions may have changed, requiring you to plan a new route.

Even Sun Tzu spoke about route recon thousands of years ago:

EARTH comprises distances, great and small;

danger and security; open ground and narrow passes;

the chances of life and death. 

The Art of War

Chapter 1; Verse 8

In addition to planning these for my frequent locations, I did an entirely separate planning sequence for my emergency egress from home to my bug-out location, and emergency routes from the office to home.  When planning bug-out routes, you definitely want to AVOID major arteries and use back roads as much as possible, because everyone will be trying to leave the area at the same time.  

Consider also planning on-foot only routes, understanding that there are many areas that you can access and traverse on foot, that you can’t by vehicle.  As an example, my house is in a subdivision right off a major artery, but by walking down the railroad tracks a bit, and following the utility line road, I can cross the major artery away from an intersection into a park trail system.  That trail system leads all the way through the suburban area and into a rural zone, where things will be less dangerous.

You may be thinking, this is a lot of work.  Yes.  It certainly is.  Military units have entire planning cells who do this full time, but you don’t.  You have to do the work.  Tackle it a bit at a time, and maybe start with the urgent needs first (bug out route).  You need to do it now, while you have time.

Plans are established by seeking advice;

So if you wage war, obtain guidance.

Proverbs 20:18

Ask others for their input.  This can be informal information gathering, such as talking to the gas station attendant at an intersection, or the Department of Public Works, or it can be open-source intelligence gathering, like reviewing the police department’s crime maps online, or searching newspaper archives for local crime stories along the route.

Sam Culper at Forward Observer ( offers information on conducting an Area Study on his website, I highly recommend his information.

The most important point is to gather information and make plans now, time may be running drastically short.


Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

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