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Fortresses & Fields

Fortresses & Fields

Photo credit: @joshishmaelphotograph

Give a general the option of sending his army to do battle in an open field or from behind fortified walls, and he will choose the fortress.

That seems an inconsequential statement until we examine the reasons why this is a preferred strategy for building a successful defense and—as with any universal truth—what we can learn from this that would be applicable to our everyday lives.

Why would an army fully equipped with fighting men, effective weapons, supplies and training choose to forgo hand-to-hand combat in favor of a fortified position of defense? If such an army was an invading force intent on conquest, then it might not. But when the goal of a campaign is to defend life and avoid casualties, then it stands to reason that the open battle field is not the place you want to be.

What does this truth mean to an individual who is taking active steps in preparing an appropriate home defense strategy?

Relying solely on a gun as a home defense plan is like choosing not to install smoke detectors because you own a fire extinguisher.We need to first have a clear vision of the mission objectives. We are not conquerors, we are defenders. Any battlefield we find ourselves on—whether it be a movie theatre, service station, shopping mall or our own living room—will not be of our choosing, because if we could, we would choose not to be there! Why? Reasonable people neither look for, nor welcome, scenarios that put their lives and families’ lives at risk. We do not want to fight at all, much less without the advantages of time, distance, cover and alternative options.

Again, the general will choose the fortress over the field. The soldier will choose the shield over the sword.

And yet, time and time again, I meet individuals who ignore the most effective security measures that could decrease the probability of their home ever becoming a battlefield in favor of relying on a firearm as their sole defensive strategy. While a firearm is a highly recommended self-defense tool, it is only one part of a complete security plan. It cannot prevent intruders from gaining unlawful access into your home, alert you to an unauthorized person, call 911, stop bullets or shoot by itself. Relying solely on a gun as a home defense plan is like choosing not to install smoke detectors because you own a fire extinguisher.

When it comes to planning to defend our homes, the answer to what we should do is to look at what has already been done. Any student of history can quickly identify castles as prime examples of layered defense. The most formidable features of fortresses are not their offensive weapons, but their defensive measures. Castle moats were used as a deterrent to invasion, lookout towers to provide warning in advance of an impending attack, curtain walls to make the fortress impregnable, and fully stocked strongholds as a refuge of last resort should the rest of the castle fall to an adversary.

This traditional fortress design is a template for how we should approach our total home security plan.

Deter criminal attention by making your home unattractive or insurmountable as a target by keeping landscaping cut low to the ground, common areas well-lit at night, and installing security cameras or motion-sensitive lights or alarms.This traditional fortress design is a template for how we should approach our total home security plan.

Harden the entrances to your home by replacing factory screws and brackets with longer screws and robust hardware. Then keep windows and doors locked at all times.

These layered measures will serve to either deter intruders or delay them long enough for you to be alerted to their presence and deploy the next layer in your plan. That could be escape or retreat to a predetermined safe area in your home, where you can secure yourself behind a barricade, alert authorities, and prepare to use your most desperate tool of defense in the deadly physical encounter that will occur should your opponent breech your stronghold.

No two scenarios are the same, and someday we may have to answer the threat of violence with deadly force in an environment devoid of the benefits of a layered defense. But a well-planned home defense strategy affords you the opportunity to layer the battlefield with defenses that can buy you time to gain distance from an intruder through movement to a secured position—preferably one with the benefits of protective cover and opportunities to escape or fight back with all of your resources.