Skill – Fighting Positions

In all of our preparations, preparing an actual fighting position is often overlooked. Many people feel like “I’m not planning on fighting anyone, so why learn it” or “if bad people come, we’ll just go hide”…First, you may not get to make these decisions in a Without Rule of Law situation. Second, a well-made fighting position would indeed allow you to hide, if that was your decision. Third, having a position away from the house or compound that a small team could engage attackers from at standoff distance, could allow others the time needed to gather supplies for an evacuation.

Fighting positions have other uses as well. They can be used as observation posts, hunting blinds, or a temporary “hide” if you just want to avoid contact. There are a lot of reasons to build them and camouflage them. One use could be as a back-up bug out camp for a few days.

As we frequently do, let’s check the Ultimate Tactical Handbook and see what it says about individual fighting positions:

Therefore I stationed some of the people

Behind the lowest parts of the wall at the exposed places,

Posting them by families, with their swords, spears, and bows.

Nehemiah 4:13

Sounds like Nehemiah assigned each grouping their own sector and designated a position for them.

When selecting a location, remember to consider the military aspects of terrain (see graphic).

Whenever you occupy ground, even if just for a few minutes, select a hasty fighting position in a small depression or under some cover. You may need to dig out a little ground, just enough to lower your silhouette. Any dirt dug up can be used as a parapet or side protection.

When you are ready to dig a fighting position, start with digging a hole about 6-7 feet long by about 2 feet wide. The depth should be chest-high. Carefully remove the top layer and any grass on it, and set that aside for camouflage. Use the dirt from in the hole to build a parapet about 6 inches high by about 18 inches across. When making the parapet, leave about 6 inches between the edge of the hole and the start of the parapet for use as an elbow rest or to set up a tripod for optics. Slope the bottom from the middle down to a “grenade sump” at each end, so that any thing tossed into the hole actually ends up down in the sump.

Excess dirt should be hauled away from the position and hidden under trees or in a stream.

After the basic hole has been dug, work on camouflaging it by putting some of the top soil on the parapet. Use some local foliage, but don’t over-do camouflage.

After the hole is dug and camouflaged, you can work on overhead cover by laying logs over the middle or by making some sort of a lean-to roof over the position, as long at it is camouflaged and not very much higher than your parapet. A naturally downed tree, laying across the ground you want to use makes a great place to put a fighting hole. You can dig the hole under the tree, and lay other logs onto the downed tree and it will look natural.

From that day on, half of my men did the work,

While the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows, and armor.

Nehemiah 4:16

There’s a reason I call Nehemiah the Grandfather of Combat Engineers; his principles are still used by forces all over the world.

When you are setting up fighting positions in an area outside your own perimeter, part of your force should be providing security while the other part works. Once the first hole is dug, roles shift. Once you have the holes dug, then they move on to camouflaging them in the same security/work shifts as before.

The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her…

Revelations 12:6a

I recommend if you are setting up permanent positions around your bug out location or home, setting up at least one fighting position that is well-hidden with a buried supply cache, in case you need to use it as a “lay-up position” where you go hide for a few days. You could cache some food, ammunition, camping gear, and communications gear there in case you had to flee in a hurry. Consider placing at least one long gun, if you can spare it, in this cache as well. A secondary bug out bag could be cached as well, in case you faced total surprise and had to flee with absolutely nothing.

Again, creating fighting positions is skill you can only perfect by getting out and doing it. It’s not a fun skill that people enjoy practicing, but it’s literally a life saving skill. Get a good entrenching tool, go out into the woods, and have fun building yourself some “forts” in the woods.

Once you have mastered the basics, you can begin adding “supplemental positions”. A supplemental fighting position is one designed to cover a slightly different sector, at an angle to the primary position, in case you are approached from a different direction.

After you’ve built the second, dig a “communication trench” between the two. At first, only dig it deep enough to crawl through, while remaining covered from enemy fire and concealed from his observation. After the initial trench is fully connected between the two, you can work on digging it deeper. The goal is to get the full trench crawl-depth as soon as possible, then to improve the position.

The longer the position is in place, the better fortified it becomes. Eventually, a static fighting position near your base, whether it be your home or bug out location, will be an earth-and-timber fortification that you can hold out from or hide in for a long time.

Get out and practice…we are running out of time.


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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