Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Team Structure for the next world - 5 essential specialisations for the coming storm.

It is often said that, in the event of societal collapse, specialist skills will be at a premium. This has been mentioned elsewhere, in a “learn-skills-so-that-you’re-useful” way, but I'd like to take it a step further.
I am proposing a purpose built team, each with a specialization (or, in a couple of cases, two or three with a specialization) which will be of use in the next world.
This also links to a point in apocalypse fiction which I hate, and that is lack of specialization. Look at any military force in the world, and there will be regiments of G.I. supported by snipers, mounted platoons, ancillary troops, medical staff, engineers and countless others, and yet, look at the forces portrayed in shows such as “The Walking Dead”, or “Falling Skies”, and their forces are almost entirely (I’d guess at at least 98%) assault rifle or SMG armed infantry.

One quick point. I am not saying these are absolutely necessary skills for post-collapse, nor am I saying they are the only ones worth considering. It is up to each team to decide upon it’s own optimised load-out. This is simply the team I would strive to prepare.

Military roles:

“Storm Troopers”:
In WW1 Germany, Stormtroopers (German: Sturmtruppen) were elite troops charged with, well, charging enemy trenches. Originally a unit called the CA Detachment was formed, armed with heavy body armour and full body shields, but was never deployed in it’s intended role. This unit was followed by specially trained units equipped with grenades. Their tactics included infiltrating up to trenches, filling them with HE, and charging into the ensuing carnage.
That makes this my role. The man with the big, dangerous weapons. The guy running 10ft from the enemy, taking out targets. Of course, that’s a lot easier in a country where projectile weapons are easier to obtain. In our situation, this is the man with the heavy blade, the thicker armour, and the blood splatter on his chest.
Typically, this will be assigned to the largest, strongest and fastest of your fighters (but remember, a combination of the three is better than excelling in any one aspect). More important than this, however, is mental conditioning. Stormtroopers throughout history have been required to advance under fire, right up under the nose of the enemy, and attacking face-to-face.
Required, and valuable, skill sets for you stormtroopers include a knowledge of the applications of various weapons, the ability to fight with a knife, long blade and (if available) short barreled fire-arms. Also necessary is a  rudimentary knowledge of explosives and the ability to perform in an infiltration-style scenario.
Equipment will typically include several combat-suitable knives, a long and a short blade, ‘grenade-style’ explosive devices and possibly trip-mines. Trench-knives, though hard to come by, are wonderful devices, as they have a blade and a built-in set of knuckle dusters.

“(Scout) Snipers”:
The technical definition of a military sniper is a shooter dedicated to firing upon targets at ranges of  upwards of 1000m. Clearly after the SHTF, those kinds of ranges aren’t going to be possible; even if you are a military sniper, the equipment probably won’t be there. Therefore a more appropriate term in a shooting sense would probably be ‘dedicated marksman’. In military nomenclature, these are shooters at ranges of ~400-800m. In this sense it’s anyone with a projectile weapon with range and power enough to make it useful as more than small game-killing weapons. The reason I’ve used the term Sniper, however, is that it encompasses a far greater range of skills than simply god-like accuracy.
By necessity highly trained in concealment skills, snipers must be able to; locate positions which provide a good firing position, easy self-extraction, and camouflage; operate alone or in pairs; Surveillance of terrain and other skills.
Some tactics which may be employed by are; reconnaisance-by-fire, whereby the enemy is forced to reveal or change it’s location by being shot at, as well as the fulfillment of a skirmishing role.
(Scout) Snipers will be lightly equipped, typically carrying only their weapons, alongside a day or two’s food in their packs, as well as camouflage netting, snares and trapping equipment for small game and humans and detailed area maps and markers for recording recon information. They will be the best shots in the group, and skill is more important than other physical attributes (although, a basic level of fitness will obviously be maintained).
The will typically have the longest ranged (and strongest projectile) weapons available to the group, but this comes with the caveat of weight. Long-bows or cross-bows with a draw of upwards of 80lbs would be appropriate in order to ensure a clean, one-shot kill, and spare strings (and in the case of crossbows, spare ‘prods’, the bow part of the weapon). Powerful bows such as these also provide a silent or near-silent shot important for stealth operations. Additional useful materiel would by camo nets and, if available, a ghillie suit.
Alternate weapons for a skirmishing role would include light spears or javelins.

Ancillary roles:

This should be fairly obvious, and is a role which could be performed by (Scout) Snipers. However there are other skills necessary for a Hunter/Trapper. The primary skill necessary which the (Scout) Sniper might not have, but which is essential, is the ability to skin and butcher an animal. This is an essential skill set if your group is going to survive. Following on from this is the ability to preserve food, in the field if necessary.
As well as Hunting, Hunter/Trappers will need to be able to identify animal tracks and paths in order to be able to lay snares. Camouflaging skills will also be of use, in order to lay pitfall traps. These skills can be put to a military application in defense of a camping ground or retreat.
To this end, the Hunters/Trappers’ weapon set will be similar to the (Scout) Sniper’s, although a less powerful draw would be acceptable, with 60lbs-80lbs appropriate for most big-game, and 30lbs suitable for small game such as rabbits. A small, recurve bow with a draw of 50lbs would make a suitable all-rounder.
They will also have in their packs snares, fishing rods (either commercial or improvised), nets, fish-traps, camouflage netting and a small shovel for digging pit-fall traps. Also necessary is a clean, large tarpaulin on which to skin and butcher a kill, as well as a set of knives suitable for the task. Their pack must be large enough, and start with little enough in it, to be able to carry a substantial weight of meat and skins. This will eliminate the need to carry a whole animal back to the group, and may allow for hunting to continue after the first kill has been dealt with.
A useful, but not necessary, skill would be the ability to train animals, specifically dogs. This will give a wider range of options for hunting, especially if a pack of animals can be sourced and trained.

This includes food gatherers. Botanists have an extensive knowledge of plants and their uses. They can be used either as food-gatherers or rudimentary medics.

Another obvious one. Blacksmiths are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the groups weapons. This skill-set includes bowyers, fletchers, armourers and gun-smiths. Their pack will contain the basics of their craft, including various hammers, tongs, planes, saws or axes for wood-gathering, a small set of bellows and a quantity of raw metal, wood, hides and other furnishings for weapons. The will also be responsible for keeping a stock of spares for the groups weapons, as well as sourcing material whilst on the move.
They should be well versed in basic smithing techniques, and be familiar with which weapons each group member uses. They should also be able to set up a rudimentary forge in the field to perform quick repairs.
They should also be able to source raw materials, such as rubber, coal, metals and hard woods.
As well as the groups weapons, they will be responsible for armouring the group, and should have knowledge of various skills used there-in, such as leather-working, lacquering, ring-mail construction and clothing construction.

So there you have it. Five roles which I feel it is essential to have within your group. It goes without saying that all of these will also be able to function as General Infantry unless they need to be deployed in their specialist roles, and there are certain duties all of them must perform, such as guarding the group, digging latrines etc. in order to maintain a fair division of labour.
There are a few other roles which I feel would be useful to have, such as mounted rangers, but they are less important than those mentioned above, and could b added easily after the crunch through the commandeering of suitable horses (which would represent a significant financial out-lay pre-crunch).

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