Establishing A Urban OP
Posted on March 22 2015
The Scenario – Hostile Force Occupation
Like the majority of Americana, I live in the suburbs. Not directly in the city, but close enough to feel those bad vibes when I drive through certain areas. In order to be prepared for a potential collapse or military occupation, I felt it necessary to start locate a good site to establishing a urban op (observation post). After some scouting on Google Earth I was surprised to find large patches of land basically untouched by urban development.
After a proper ID of areas within a 5 mile radius of my house I started to plot out a scenario where the city was occupied by an opposing force. At this point, it doesn’t matter if it’s those evil UN Blue Helmets or the Red Army. Either way, they are considered in the scenario to be a hostile force. My role in the training exercise is that of an observer, the guy who passively sits back on some high ground and collect intel on traffic patterns, troop movements, checkpoints, etc.
Keeping the scenario in consideration, my first move was to locate the potential area I could use as an OP (Observation Post). It just so turns out that directly across from the local Wally World is a 3 acre strip of land, nicely wooded. After locking in this area, I then did a recon by vehicle, once during a week day and once during the weekend. This was to observe the amount of traffic and people in the surrounding area. As expected the highest concentration of people out and about was on a Saturday afternoon. This area makes for a perfect OP site due to the main roads that feed off the interstate just a few miles away. After making a note of this fact, I then returned for a final recon on foot to locate a good entry point that I could easily access without looking suspicious. Turned out the best entry point was directly behind a warehouse on a side road behind Walmart.
I had two options available, first was by foot, the second was by bike. I felt it best to act the role of the guy out for some exercise on a nice Saturday afternoon. I dressed appropriately in full civilian garb, the only exception being my small camo patrol pack, which draws absolutely no attention since half the population is wearing some kind of hunting camouflage jackets, shirts or hoodies. I parked my vehicle at Walmart, jumped on the bike and in about 5 minutes I was back behind the warehouse, tucked safely in a patch of trees. From this point, I hide my bike in some tall grass and got down to business.
In my pack, I had my camo basics, a shemagh to cover my face, and an Australian camouflage pattern smock (jacket). In a short period of time I switched out of my civilian gear and into the camo. Ensuring once again that my bike was safely stashed out of side, I consulted my map and prepared to head out.
Now feeling good in my camo, I set off headed down the powerline clearings, hugging the tree line as tightly as possible. It is at this point where it is important to keep the head on a swivel. If you’re not paying attention, you may run right into a hobo campsite or get picked up on trail cams. So proper movement and concealment is important. I would move deliberately for 20-25 steps, then stop and listen, then repeat. I was careful not to make my own path but to follow game trails when and where I found them. Surprisingly, there were tons of game trails to follow. You may not think this, but animals are usually concentrated in high numbers by human development in these areas. During the course of the exercise, I saw deer, rabbit, squirrels and a few turkeys. All up and personal, I guess they don’t expect humans to be around much.
In about 30 minutes I covered a half mile and found myself on the edge of a large clearing with woods on the other side. The clearing was maybe 500-600 yards across. At this point I had to make a decision. Do I double back to the tree line and attempt to skirt this entire clearing or do I try to go through out? Taking out my binoculars, I sat for about 10 minutes glassing the area. I saw absolutely no signs of human activity and I noted that there was actually about 2-3 feet of tall grass through the entire field I was preparing to cross. At this point, I decided to take a calculated risk and cross.
Staying long and stopped frequently, I was able to successfully cross the area with no issues aside from pausing briefly due to some semi trailer traffic to my rear. Now on the other side, I turned South and immediately saw the high ground about 300 yards away on the other side of a cow pasture. Keeping a low profile I skirted around the pasture and ducked into the treeline at the bottom of the ridgeline. Five minutes later I had ascended the hill to find myself looking down on a road that feeds into the major interstates that bisect the area.
Establishing the Observation Post
Now at the top of the ridgeline I had ID’d on Google Earth, I dropped my pack and started to survey the terrain. Approximately 200 yards to my front was the road. To my left and right was woods and to my rear was the open cow pasture. I had two exit routes, one headed back down the hill, the other was to my left heading down the ridge, providing me with a great escape route if someone came up the ridge behind me. Once I finished my terrain eval, I setup the camera and tripod and starting focus on the real task at hand, establishing a viable OP where I could observe human activity whether on foot or vehicle.
The location on the ridge was near perfect, I could not believe my luck. I had a completely unobstructed view of the road. In order to avoid making myself a giant target on the top of the ridgline, I moved down to the military crest and concealed myself in some knee high cover. From my “hide I could easily count vehicles as they pass by, ID different vehicle models and at a more detailed level, I could note the type of clothing people were wearing, their skin color, age, height and all those basic demographics one would want to collect.
After hanging out for 30+ minutes, it was time to head back to the vehicle. I took the trail to my left heading down the ridge line, taking advantage of the natural cover. The route was fairly easy and uneventful with the exception of the large female doe that I nearly stepped on in the high grass. She shot up like a rocket and took off in a flash. I felt good about this event since I must have been traveling pretty quiet in order to get that close before she heard me. I followed her for about a quarter mile, then got bored and split off to follow the treeline back to my starting point. This time around, the semi trailer lot to my SW was busy so I paused for a minute to observe the traffic. This was a good opportunity to use the noise of the semi trucks to mask my movement. I was only about 50 yards away from the lot, but felt completely at ease moving through the trees due to the tons of noise being generated by the trucks. Whenever possible, try to use natural or artificial background noise to cover your movement. It makes life a lot easier. 20 minutes later I arrived at my bike, changed out and headed back to the truck.
I think the most important factor to the success of this exercise was the ID and recon phase. Google Maps is obviously a big asset when plotting out the entry and exit points and getting a good lay of the land. Once you get on the ground, the rest is common sense. Even so, you will invariably run into obstacles you can’t see from the sat views. Taking your time to conceal and cover your movement makes all the difference. Train like you would in real life. I’m no high speed Scout Sniper, but I’ve gleaned enough from reading and watching to know some of the basics when it comes to establishing the LPOP:
1. Ability to observe the target area
2. Keeping the target area with in small arms range
3. Adequate C&C (Cover & Concealment)
4. Concealed entry & exit routes to & from the LPOP
5. Location site on or near the crest of the high ground
For more reading on the subject, check out the links below:
Field Manual 7-92