Dear Brendan,

Now I’d like to discuss your daily routine and that of your family.  This will fall in line with situational awareness, driving/vehicles, and making you and your family a hard target.  The idea here is to get the criminal/threat to move on to a target softer than you.

A soft target.

How to do that? Make yourself a target that is harder than those around you. Thankfully or sadly, that’s not as tough to do as you might think.

I’m going to draw from tactics used by military, intelligence and government contractor types that operate in hostile areas.  However we will tailor the tactics to the needs of the average Joe and his family.  That’s you. You’re the average Joe.

It is highly unlikely you will be targeted by a group of trained terrorists.  However, the whole world is changing. Just look at The Drudge Report.

You could be a target of opportunity or targeted by criminals in your local area.  Ask yourself: Do you or your wife drive an expensive car (Mercedes Benz or BMW)? Do you live in an upscale neighborhood or own a big house?  Maybe not, but you and your family could simply end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Will you be ready to act?  Remember to always “Think like a man of action and act like a man of thought.”  

As you can see there are many variables and possible situations that could develop on any given day.  With all this in mind there are things you and your family can do to help prevent ever being a victim.  Because you are operating as a family man here at home, it is not likely that you will have intelligence collection assets to help identify possible threat networks or people and criminals that want to do you and or your family harm.  So at this point let’s reverse engineer this problem and think like the enemy, the threat.  Now is the time to be creative and think outside the box.  

Think: “How would you attack you and your family?”

Let’s begin by looking at your daily routines and pattern of life.  I recommend you and your family do a route survey of how you drive to and from work, school, church, the grocery store and other places you routinely go.  Once you are more aware of your driving routes you can implement counter surveillance (this just means looking to see how and where someone may want to watch you so they could plan to attack you) techniques and other SA tactics to strengthen your family’s security posture whether you are at home in your local area or on a family vacation to a location you are not familiar with.  

We have discussed before that it’s impossible to be at a heightened state of alert 24/7.  Just think about your commute home from work today.  Can you tell me what you were doing, thinking, or who or what type of cars were next to you on the road or what someone was doing in their car while stopped in traffic right next to you?  Did you notice any cars parked near your home in the morning or evening?  Did you notice any cars parked near your place of work in the morning or evening?  You should identify choke points—places that slow you down or crowd you– while doing your route survey and driving to and from places you visit daily or weekly.  From this you can start to plan how you will escape or fight back from these areas and positions.  

You have heard me talk about “Being on the X.” Think of a kill spot, a kill zone, a target, that an enemy would want you on so he could do you harm. Imagine it as a big X. That’s the X.  That’s where you don’t want to be. You don’t want to find yourself standing on the X.  This is the time to be proactive and map out your way ahead smartly and safely.       

I recommend you get an up to date local map of where you live and do a map reconnaissance. Also called a map recon, it just means getting familiar with an area based on how it’s mapped out. Use the map to learn about your neighborhood. Look at your neighborhood like you were a predator planning an attack.  You or your wife may think you know how to drive home or avoid a bad area, but the truth is most average Joes only know one way to and from work, school and other locations they visit routinely.  Think of other routes. As you do this, it pays to plan ahead and be vigilant.  Now is the time to map out multiple ways to all your favorite locations. The less predictable you are the harder it is to target you.

Here are some pointers:

  • You should have maps of your area in each vehicle and a GPS.  
  • Map out various routes to and from your home, work, school, church, etc.
  • Randomly vary your routes and do not become predictable in your daily movements.
  • This is key.  Note all the safe havens on your various routes.  By safe havens I mean police departments, fire departments, hospitals, Emergency Room locations, etc.
  • Now do the opposite of the above and identify all the dangerous areas and choke points.  This will be more difficult in new areas but then it’s even more important that you take the time to do the research for the bad areas of town in the new area you are visiting for business or pleasure.  Be sure to account for bridges, tunnels, road construction.
  • Now no matter what you do there will always be intersections and choke points you can’t avoid.  Some locations will be predictable like the road in front of your home or street in front of your place of work.  You need to keep your head on a swivel and be alert.  Look for things out of the ordinary.  

After you have done all of this it’s important to do dry runs or rehearsals.  I know it sounds a little crazy, but it’s one of the best investments you can ever make. Start this habit. It could save your life and the lives of those you love and lead. Take the time to drive these routes and ensure the information you collected from maps, Google earth, and other sources is accurate.   

  • It’s important that you drive these routes during the times you normally would to judge the traffic and time.  It’s not a viable option to map out a route that adds an hour to your commute time.  
  • Double-check your safe havens.
  • Identify possible hazards and detours along your routes.
  • Did you identify any specific choke points where you can’t get off the X?  If you cannot get off the X (what some people call The Kill Box, and that ought to get your attention)  how will you defend yourself?  Think it through, think ahead and be proactive.  Remember the saying, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”  
  • Do any of these areas provide cover or concealment for an attack or an ambush?  
  • Does the area provide avenues of escape for the attackers?  
  • Attackers, criminals, will want a quick escape route and often select locations which provide multiple escape routes.  This can be by foot or vehicle.  Never make the mistake of underestimating those who seek to do you harm.

Now, mark those attack and ambush sites on your maps.  These danger areas are where you need to be alert and dialed in to your surroundings.  Remember to keep your head on a swivel, use your mirrors, stop playing with the radio or cell phone.

And remember: everyone is a collector.  I’m talking about your children, your wife.

Children and women see things we men often overlook. Hey, they have eyes and ears, so why not use them? Again– you can make a game out of it.  Have them point out people, vehicles, dogs, and anything that stands out or doesn’t belong.

Remember your reason is your best friend. Think safety.  Your map reconnaissance and route reconnaissance (what you have been doing by thinking through your routes) will help you plan your response to any possible attack or ambush.  You should reassess your route recon from time to time.  

Also remember your family is like a team.  Be sure to include that team by training and rehearsing together. It’s not simply how fast you can move or react, but how fast you can get off the X with your wife and children.  Think family. Think team.  

Be Aware & Be Safe,