Standard Operating Procedures
For Your Survival Retreat
Survival Retreat SOPs are sets of rules or guidelines that establish how the group will respond or react to various situations, or specify what is expected of group members. These can be as extensive or limited as you feel necessary, the important aspect is to cover the situations you feel are most likely to impact your group. What’s critical is getting buy-in from the members of your group; otherwise any SOPs you create will have less value than wallpaper for your retreat. This is the first of a series of articles that will address and explore SOPs for the survival minded.
It is possible to go overboard when setting up SOPs, and I’d advise you not to go there. Better to establish them for things that are important, like life and death, and ignore mundane things such as how boot lacing. In this article I’ll provide examples of SOP topics and suggestions of what might be addressed in them. In later articles I’ll dig in to the topics to illustrate some concepts and suggestions for you to consider. Please remember, there are very few hard and fast rules when it comes to SOPs for retreats. Each retreat is different, each location is different, each of us could face different threats, etc. So our SOPs will probably be somewhat different, but as long as you’ve covered the basics you should have what you need, and you can expand them as you see fit.
Pilots doing their pre-flight checklist are following SOPs. Soldiers on guard duty have a set of generic general orders and possibly some special orders for that specific guard post that define their SOPs while on that duty. Help desk personnel use a set of SOPs to determine how to handle callers and the problems they are seeking assistance with. Do a search on SOPs and you can find guides for writing them as well as examples by the dozen. So we are surrounded by SOPs on a daily basis.
Some examples and assistance:
With all of this in mind using SOPs for a survival retreat makes perfect sense, though the specific SOPs established for a retreat probably won’t resemble much of what any of us have seen elsewhere in our lives. This is simple reality, as the world won’t resemble much of what any of us is familiar with. Seriously, something bad enough to make us leave our homes (in most cases), our jobs, our hobbies, etc. and head to a retreat had to have occurred in order to find ourselves in that situation.
So hopefully each of us will have a solid set of plans, SOPs, to help us deal with things. Note: Preppers won’t have any OSHA or similar inspectors reviewing their SOPs, so you don’t have to be a formal or official as the examples above, but I hope they will provide some inspiration at the least.
Bug Out SOP
This is the foundation of your plans and you will certainly want to have some SOPs for this. Some examples:
- When would you decide to bug-out? What event or situation would need to happen before you would initiate your plan?
- Would your group head straight for your retreat or would you meet at a rally-point first?
- Would you institute a defensive stance during your bug-out? Automatically or only in certain situations? How active or passive would your defensive stance be?
- How would you respond to things that block your planned travel route?
- How many travel routes would you have scouted and set for your vehicles to use?
- How might you get to your retreat if vehicles are not an option?
- How would you handle a vehicle breakdown during a bug-out?
- How would you handle casualties during a bug-out?
[quote]How would you maintain isolation against biological agents during a bug-out? [/quote]
This is what will keep you alive. It’s also the area you will probably want to have the most SOPs established since deadly force is part and parcel of any retreat security setup.
- How will you set up your guard rotation to best secure your retreat? This can mean numbers, posts, hours on post, how guards will be posted or relieved, and how many of your group will be on the guard duty roster.
- Will you use a “challenge and password” system for people coming into the retreat? Will they change daily, twice daily, or never? Will there be a danger or alert password that your people can use if they are returning under duress?
- When will your guards be expected to use deadly force? How will you keep them safe while avoiding situations where they shoot too soon, or too late? How will you keep them from firing at your own people returning to the retreat or checking on your guards etc.?
- How will you notify your people of an impending threat, to take up their fighting positions, of a perimeter penetration, or to bug-out? Some possibilities include; siren, bell, horn, metal on metal, or similar acoustic method. Flashing lights and similar could also be used.
- How will your guard posts, outposts, etc. warn of potential threats and report on the nature of the threat?
- How will your guards, and anyone outside of the retreat, be instructed to deal with refugees, potential “bad guys”, official looking folks, people who might be sick, etc.?
- Will you make use of a sniper over-watch?
- Will you make use of “booby-traps? If so, at what point do you set them? Will they be designed as noise-makers, immobilizers, to injure, or to kill?
- How will you establish a perimeter? Will each adult capable of firing a weapon have an assigned fighting position (aka foxhole)? Will each person have fallback positions as well?
- Will you use a reaction force? If yes, where will you get the personnel for it if everyone has assigned fighting positions, and will those positions be occupied by others of your group or left vacant?
- Will you have a specific uniform for your people, or a patch for use on whatever they will wear, that will help your guards identify your people from a distance?
- Will you make use of light signals during the hours of darkness?
[quote]Will your guards have non-lethal as well as lethal force options available to them?[/quote]
Cooking and Meal SOP
This area is a key consideration for both the health and morale of your group.
- Will you use designated cooks for the group or will each family be cooking their own meals? Personally this is the only approach that makes sense from a
- Assuming you will have a centralized food supply for the group, will you establish a specific calorie allowance per person per day? Will those be flexible based on the nature of the work that person does for the retreat?
- Will you make any allowances for Vegans, Vegetarians, or members with religious dietary restrictions?
- Will each member/family be responsible for contributing food to the group or will all food items be maintained at the family level? This goes hand-in-hand with the question about cooking for the group and needs to be established well before the group finds itself in a crisis situation.
- What food options will you have for any patrols or teams leaving the retreat for more than a few hours? Items such as MREs, dehydrated foods, and similar will be your best bet for this type of meal needs but other options exist as well.
Another area where the SOPs implemented by the group will have a serious impact on the health and survival of the group members.
- How frequently will members be able to bathe or shower? Consider how much water this will take and how much fuel to heat that water. Don’t forget to have a plan for dealing with the waste-water.
- Same question for hand washing and brushing of teeth.
- Same question for laundry and gear cleaning.
- Decontamination – how would you perform decontamination of personnel and equipment in the event you find yourself in a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear environment?
- How will human and animal waste be dealt with? Urine and feces can be both useful and a complete pain in your anatomy.
- How will food prep, storing, and refuse be dealt with? This would also include waste from butchering of livestock and game.
If you have addressed these 4 primary areas you should be in good shape. Obviously there are many other areas that you might need SOPs for, but these are the ones that everyone should develop and implement. These will be given expanded attention in future articles.
Another significant area that deserves serious thought would be what I’ll call the group economy. That would include questions or issues of members (and non-members) labor that benefits the group, labor/materials/time that members use to benefit themselves, how food (grown, gathered, hunted, trapped, caught, or scavenged) and other items of value are distributed or utilized for the good of the group. However, this topic will require an extensive write-up of its own.
The final area I plan addressing in this series will be combat. This will also require an article dedicated to the topic and will cover concepts from ambushes through range cards.
Other Posts On Retreat Security: