Sunday, June 12, 2016

Zombie Fighting Tactics - Overwatch

The movie and book, American Sniper, showed Navy SEAL snipers maintaining "overwatch" positions where they could watch over the movements of an American infantry unit as it worked it's way down a street in Iraq.  The snipers would identify potential threats and fire on any threats that were preparing to attack the infantry unit.

A Canadian Sniper during World War II
In a world filled with Zombies and brigands, the idea of having a designated sniper provide overwatch for the movements of a band of survivors is not a bad one at all.   However, any would be sniper would do well to start practicing now.  It takes a headshot to permanently put down a Zombie.  A shot to the pelvic girdle could at least stop a Zombies forward motion.  The big question is how well can you make that shot and hit a pie plate at 100, 200, or 300 yards?  The overwatch "sniper" can't be positioned so far away that he can't make the shot.

Dogon Hunter in Africa - Photo By J. Drevet (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The overwatch concept also works for units moving across any contested terrain.  When expecting imminent contact with the enemy in the field, military units move tactically in pairs by alternating overwatch and movement.  This tactic is called bounding overwatch.  Let's say there are two units, Squad A and Squad B.  Squad A will position itself to provide overwatch for Squad B.  Then Squad B will move to a new position where it can provide overwatch for Squad A.  Then Squad A will move to a new overwatch position and then Squad B will move to a new overwatch location.  Squads A and B will alternate moving so that they leap frog each other across the terrain.  Whenever one unit is moving, the other is providing overwatch. 

U.S. Marines with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment provide covering fire for fellow Marines as they move out of a danger area after taking sniper fire during a security patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, on Nov. 2, 2010. Photo By English: Cpl. David Hernandez, U.S. Marine Corps ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
You've seen this bounding overwatch concept a thousand times in the movies and on television cop shows when one soldier or police officer says cover me to his partner and runs to another position.  Then the partner runs while the first officer provides covering fire.

In a Zombie Apocalypse scenario where ranged weapons like crossbows, bows, or firearms are being used, using bounding overwatch for movement is not a bad idea.  In a situation where clubs, axes, and blades are primarily being used, survivors might want to move more like an ancient legion.

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