42 Grunt Tips & Tactics for Your Toolbox when the SHTF - ITS Tactical

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42 Grunt Tips & Tactics for Your Toolbox when the SHTF

By The ITS Crew

In the event that things go bad, skills that are considered on-the-job training in Infantry and Spec Ops units are handy to know.

Today we’re going to go over 42 of them that you should commit to memory. While this was a collaboration with Doc from RSKTKR, none of us can take credit for this list, but felt it was important enough to share.

These are tips we’ve collected over the years from various sources including Gunnys, Chiefs, our lessons learned in the service and comments made around the net.

Grunt Tips

  1. Unpredictability is paramount, never use the same NDP (Night Defensive Perimeter) twice; never use the same ambush site twice and don’t travel in straight lines. Becoming predictable could be your last mistake. No matter how careful you’ve been, it’s always possible you’ve been compromised and don’t know it. If the enemy can’t predict where you’ll be, he can’t ambush you.
  2. When you conduct reconnaissance do not go directly in the direction you’re headed. It’s a good idea to travel in another direction and then perform a zigzag with many changes of direction. Make the enemy track you and not be able to run in a straight line to your team. Even crossing your own tracks allows your team to see whether they are being tracked. Another extremely important tip is to never go back the way you came. The consequences could be deadly.
  3. Trust your instincts but do not engage in a competition on tactics. Follow all basic rules. The last man should try to repair your trail whenever possible. Make the enemy have to search harder to find you.
  4. Just because a spot looks good for a hide or an NDP, doesn’t mean you should use it. Analyze the area from an enemy’s point of view; where would you look for an enemy’s hide?
  5. Never hide near or in any man-made structures or features. They attract attention and are the first places your enemy will look when they’re trying to find you.
  6. When filling or filtering water from streams, be aware that any silt you stir up will travel downstream, alerting others of your presence.
  7. When taking a dump in the woods, always bring your weapon. The enemy may approach while you’re unarmed and defenseless. Bring along a small plastic bag for your used paper rather than burying it. You can bury the dump, but without paper remaining how can the enemy decide whose crap it is; his or his enemy’s?
  8. It’s better to have multiple canteens/Nalgenes than one and a five gallon bag in your ruck to fill from. It’s easier to exchange an empty one with a full one. A 5 gallon bag also causes loud sloshing and shifting of weight which may cause your pack to shimmer enough for the enemy to see you. Remember Murphy’s Law – If you can see the enemy, he can see you too.
  9. Watch for trip wires, booby traps and try not to step on twigs. Hearing a twig breaking can travel farther than you think.
  10. Other than health reasons, don’t smoke; the exhale of your cigarette smoke can be seen and smelled by your enemy.
  11. Don’t keep looking in one spot for too long, close your eyes or move them away from area you wish to focus on and then look again. Staring at one spot too long makes it seem as if that spot is moving.
  12. Look for anything that looks out of place. Straight line items may be a comms wire for a land line, but whose? Yours or your enemy’s?
  13. Be observant and know your surroundings. Know what sounds are natural and what changes in them can mean. Silence can also be deadly.
  14. Stay alert, it’s easy to let your mind wander and become complacent.
  15. Don’t leave tracks in the snow that your enemy can follow.
  16. Don’t let the enemy smell you coming. Use odorless laundry detergent, don’t use cologne/aftershave, don’t smoke (see above), don’t dip, don’t eat foods with heavy garlic or other ingredients that allow scent to permeate from your skin. As a last resort grab dirt and rub it all over your clothes to remove as much of the smell as possible.
  17. Use your peripheral vision and practice using it, especially at night.
  18. Back-lighting will give away your position, even during the day. Hard shadows are unnatural, so plan your routes accordingly; even in urban environments.
  19. Don’t build fires, this one should go without saying if you’re trying not to be noticed.
  20. Don’t use the old ALICE clips to secure your gear, use MALICE Clips if you have PALS Webbing or even Zip Ties.
  21. Never walk parallel to the objective; It’s much more difficult to see someone coming to or away from you than it is side to side.
  22. Use dead reckoning and terrain association as much as possible.
  23. Dummy cord your gear. Canteen/Nalgene, Night Vision, GPS, multitool and pocket knives. Type 1 Paracord is great for this purpose, cut it long enough to make the equipment easy to get to, but not long enough to hit the ground or get wrapped around something.
  24. Save the safety pins that come on the 5.56 bandoliers. They come in handy.
  25. Always carry good snivel gear. (layers, balaclava/watchcap and a straw to suck it up.)
  26. Carry a quality roll of toilet paper in a Ziploc. Use the MRE paper for cleaning patches.
  27. Learn to waterproof your gear, especially comms. Riggers tape works great on the outside of Ziplocs to make them more durable.
  28. Tuck your headlamp in your blouse in case it accidentally comes on. Same goes for those keychain Photon lights.
  29. When drinking from a canteen/nalgene, pass it around to kill it and preven sloshing.
  30. Field Strip your MREs.
  31. Carry pruning shears for cutting vegetation and creating camouflage.
  32. Have a good Escape and Evasion plan.
  33. Run IADs (Immediate Action Drills) religiously.
  34. Practice moving quietly in every environment. Get a pair of sound enhancing shooting ear pro and listen to yourself. Take your time and plan your next move.
  35. When you need to move with a purpose, stop and listen often. Move a few paces and stop briefly to listen for noise.
  36. Learn your Pace Count. In case you didn’t know, your Pace Count is counting every time your left foot hits the ground for 100 meters. This helps with judging the distance you’ve walked. It helps alot with a map,compass, and protractor.
  37. When you find a spot to set up in for the night or make a hide, go into the thick stuff. It’s harder to see you, and anybody wanting to snoop around looking for you will make a lot of noise coming up on you.
  38. Even if you’re carrying MRE’s, when practical, always supplement them with small game and things you may find to eat in the field. This will make your rations last longer.
  39. Tape up everything that’s loose on your pack or anything else you’re carrying, it will help prevent snags.
  40. Before you move out, have a buddy listen as you jump up and down to ensure you aren’t rattling and potentially giving away your position.
  41. Tuck your boot laces into the tops of you boots after you tie them. You are using square-knotted Paracord laces right?
  42. Learn to use hand signals if you’re with a group or even one other guy. Make sure each man knows the signals and use whatever works for everyone. Silent communication is paramount and the more you’re around your guys the more you won’t have to do anything other than look at each other to communicate.

Most, if not all of these things work just as well for individuals as they do for a team. Commit them to memory and add your tips in the comments! This list is far from complete. We’d like to follow this up in a few months with all the new tips you guys add. Stay safe out there!

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  • An addition to 11: When scanning large areas I use a framing technique. I’ll make a box with my hands and scan sections. This helps focus on smaller chunks verses looking over large landscapes. You’re more adapt to pick on tells that are out of place, straight lines, veg, colors, shadows, movement, etc.

  • #11 is a good one. That happens on surveillance all the time. Did those house blinds just move?

  • Andrew

    When observing at night, make a sideways 8 pattern – infinity if you will, it forces you to use your cones rather than the rods in your eyes (rods detect colour and are centred in your eyes cones detect black and white and are around the cones) The infinity pattern forces you to not look directly at the object, allowing more light to hit your cones.

    Also, scan in three sections foreground, mid-ground and high-ground. Scan from bottom to top, right to left (opposite way you read, which feels weird, it makes you go slower, so you take in more detail).

    • Sam

      Cones are the light sensing and color receptive pieces of the Fovea and the Parafoveal region of the retina. Rods utilize a chemical called Rhodopsin, also known as visual purple. The reason for using off-center viewing techniques at night is to compensate for the “night blind spot” which is the result of a lack of Rods (the greater light-sensitive receptors used at NIGHT) in the Fovea Centralis and the Para Foveal region. Not to be confusesd with the day blind spot, resulting from the lack of rods and cones around the optic disk, where the optic nerve connects to the back of the Eye. In effect, you got it backwards, Rods are used at night, no color reception for them, Cones are your color daytime receptors. When fully dark adapted in conjunction with a fully dialated pupil, the eye is up to 100,000 more sensitive to light at night than in the daytime. Ref. TC 3-04.93 pgs. 8.3-8.10

  • 15 seems out of place. How do you not leave tracks in the snow? Best I could ever do is to walk single file so they could not tell how many men passed by. But everyone leaves some track in the snow.

  • BlackhawkCY

    For number 5. The most hostile environments are the ones less searched. i.e. a cliff.
    Spacing. – natural objects are never evenly spaced
    sudden movement.

    For number 7. If you’re with a buddy inform them so they know it is you returning back, establish a specific sound for you to make prior to visual confirmation.

    For number 8. when using a camelbak or something similar avoid having air in it to reduce sloshing noise. flip it upside down to make the air go upwards and remove it through the tube.

    For number 9. try to remain calm and if possible attempt to figure out which side the sound came from as to take cover.

    For number 11. have a second person confirm if possible who was not staring at it.

    For number 28. avoid headlamps that have sensitive on off switches prefer military models that have twist to turn on off and pressure for temporary on.

    For number 34. if time allows it walk slowly lifting your legs high enough as to not scrub all the undergrowth, lower your legs at a pace to search the ground. i.e. if the ground feels springy at a point you might be attempting to step on a twig.
    also match the cadence of the person with you to avoid excess sound.

    For number 37. make sure your hideout has more than one exit entry preferably having your emergency exit less obvious as to avoid being cornered.

    number 43. carry extra paracord with survival bracelets or any other way you like. also carry camo tape they tend to be useful.

    number 44. avoid use of shiny objects i.e. mirror they may give out your position.

    number 45. use a kill flash on lenses, goggles etc reflections can give away your position.

    number 46. birds moving away from a location indicate movement. similarly birds on trees indicate that there is probably no one in the area. (as long as the trees are not too tall)

    number 48. have all gear on you in layers depending on use. e.g. escape and evasion gear should be directly on you not in your bag. ammunition on the vest and extra gear in your bag. So if you need to ditch your bag the essential gear is on yourself.

    number 49. when carrying gear keep in mind that it is better to feel colder than warmer since after a short distance you will begin to sweat and feel warm.

    number 50. layered insulation only works if the correct amount of clothes is used. i.e. undergarments should allow moisture to move away from your skin.

    number 51. similar to number 7 your weapon should always be at arm’s reach at most.

    number 52. when at one place for rest make sure the things you unpack are essential and not many so you can pack them back and move out at a moment’s notice.

    Number 53. use your gear regularly to familiarize yourself with it.

    Number 54. although technololgy has progressed and can make your life easier learn not to rely on it too much especially in map reading.

    Number 55. Condoms can protect electronics.

  • Coulda put my logo on the tool box too!
    Good stuff Bryan!

    • Hey Doc I’ve been meaning to get with you about some medical training in the Tampa area, I’m over in Pinellas at the PCSO.
      Can you send me a email at your convenience? centcomsurvivor at gmail.com

  • waykno

    This is sort of related–in my opinion, this is one of the best, if not the best, survival sites on the web:

    Take a look–ran by a retired Army Ranger.

  • John Galt

    I learned the figure eight technique for nighttime as well. That or just circling whatever you really want to look at. Works incredibly well. Good to know.

  • Aaron McDoomsday

    In Reference to #34:

    Don’t walk at an even pace. Take a few steps, pause, a couple, pause, maybe 5, pause, one… get the picture. Humans tend to walk with a very distinct (bipedal) rhythm, and our brains are specifically designed to key in on patterns, visual, tactile, aural… so avoid a steady gait or any manner of cadence. Also, the pauses are great times to key in to the sounds and vibrations around you.

  • Crooks

    While excerpts are in there, I would include either Maj. Robert Rogers Rules of Ranging, or the modern Ranger School (RTB)/75th Ranger Regiment Rules of Ranging. Also, maybe add something like carry more water than you need and be confident in your training, but do not underestimate your enemy, the moment you stop respecting your enemy is the moment you could find yourself dead. Great work!

  • Phobos

    Hi there,
    Sorry for necroposting but can somebody explain me the # 20 about the alice clips, ‘cus I use and LC2 belt an Y suspenders along with buttpack and2 magazine pouches, and as you know those use the alice clips. Also on my rig I’ve attached other Molle pouches.
    Thanks and great article.

  • cflanagan1

    I think it has to do with wear. When the Alice clips wear, the metal is exposed and can cause reflections which can be seen from great distances. Also, they can be tight and difficult to open in a hurry. On the other hand, with age and use, they can become loose and sloppy, allowing your gear to fall off your kit when moving. I may be missing something, but that was my take on it.

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