The US military is rapidly working to develop new doctrine for “Operating in a GPS Denied Environment”. In other words, just as I have warned, they are worried that the Chinese have the capability to either strike the ONE ground station that controls the entire system, or to negate the satellites.
With America’s over-reliance on high-tech precision-guided munitions and aircraft, denying the use of the GPS system would put us at a significant disadvantage over an old-school artillery-heavy formation like the PLA.
If the US Military is planning to be operating in an environment without GPS, shouldn’t you?
Obtaining a QUALITY compass should be one of your current priorities if you haven’t already gotten one. I’m not talking about a $15-$20 button compass or a novelty one, we mean a serious orienteering and land navigation compass, like the Cammenga H3 US Issue one (that’s the one I have). It may be more expensive, but that’s because it’s meant to last forever and be virtually indestructible. It meets military standards, which are actually quite rigorous.
When shopping for these, understand that the “3H” model has tritium, which will be luminous no matter what. The model 27, which I also have as a backup, is phosphorescent, meaning it requires you to shine a light on it for a few seconds to make it glow. Spend the few extra dollars on the 3H, for light discipline.
I consider the Cammenga to be a “navigation” compass because it’s meant to be used in your hand and aimed at landmarks to help you move across land (or water) by following a bearing. While it can be used with a map, it is NOT an ideal map compass, so you’ll need one of those, too.
Wait…I need more than one compass? Yes, just like your road GPS in the car isn’t ideal for backwoods use, neither is a navigational compass ideal for use for planning your route on a map. A compass with a map baseplate is great for using with a map but can’t easily be used to aim for navigation over ground. Land Navigation is not as simple as “get a compass and you’re good to go”. I’ve been on patrols where we used five different compasses, each pre-set on a specific leg of a route (you’ll have to wait for Tactical Wisdom Volume 4 to learn that skill).
I have shown the Suunto M3 baseplate map compass because it has the features you need in a baseplate compass. Suunto is an outstanding compass company. It has various map scale measuring lines built into the transparent base, so that you can put it on a map and measure distances along a specific bearing for route planning. it also has a magnifying glass built in, so that you can better read detail on the map.
It also can be adjusted for magnetic declination, which is something you need to understand to navigate. The magnetic north pole is not exactly on the very top of the world, and the closer you get to it, the larger the angle between true north and magnetic north. Here in Michigan, the angle is about 7 degrees to the west. This means that if I leave my house and follow my compass heading for what it thinks is north, I will eventually walk into Wisconsin (Lake Michigan, actually), rather than into Lake Superior.
This is an over-simplification, but if I plan my route using a map, yet walk using a compass without adjusting my bearings by adding or subtracting the angle from the heading, I won’t reach my destination. I could be off by a few hundred meters, which in a survival situation can mean life or death. If the angle is negative, you must add it to your bearings, and if it’s positive, you must subtract it.
In TW-02, Fieldcraft, there is an entire chapter on Land Navigation. I’ve been told by many veterans and active-duty military that my breakdown of Basic Land Navigation in it was superb and made it easy to understand.
The other piece of gear you need to work with a map is a map romer (also called, ironically, a compass), which is a military tool, shown below, designed to help plot points and plan routes on a map. There are dozens of brands and type, most of which work the same. What I look for are various scales romers, both degree and mil scales around the outside, and some type of measurement scale.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go…
Just as Lady Wisdom from the Psalms will guide you, knowing how to use a map and a compass can truly save your life and quite literally show you the way to go. If the US Military is planning for the imminent loss of GPS technology, so should you.
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