> TEOTWAWKI Blog: "Fireteam" specialization for groups



"Fireteam" specialization for groups

The fireteam is the basic element of most modern fighting forces. In the U.S. military, it's a four soldier group; individual roles vary a bit depending on the branch, but they are fairly similar. As an example, in a Striker brigade company, a fireteam consists of:
  • Team Leader - Equipped with an M4
  • Automatic Rifleman - Equipped with and M249 SAW
  • Grenadier - Equipped with an M4 + M203 grenade launcher
  • Designated Marksman or Anti-Armor Specialist
Now the point here is not to suggest that a survival group must have a guy with a grenade launcher and another with a belt-fed machine gun, but rather that some diversification of equipment can be a good thing. 

While the fireteam above has a general overlap in ammunition and magazines (minus a specialty rifle the DM may be carrying), each individual member has capabilities that aren't covered by the others - you've got a grenade launcher for blowing stuff up, a machine gun and a long range rifle. If all were carrying M4s, there'd be less they could do.

In most combat units, you won't find everyone with the exact same skill set and carrying the exact same loadout, and that's on purpose. There are different roles that need to be performed and different gear that needs to be carried.

In survival circles, we often focus on standardization - group standard weapons, standardized packing lists, cookie cutter kind of stuff. And while standardization certainly has its place, it can get in the way and end up limiting overall capabilities.

So, when planning for your family or a larger group, figure out essential capabilities that you need to have, and also gear that is important, but doesn't make sense for every person to carry. Better to have one person carry an axe, another carry a shovel and a third carry a bucksaw than have three axes or three shovels. Or one person with a Ham radio and solar panel, another with a large medical kit, and another with a trapping/fishing kit, then three people with Ham radios or big medical kits.

Another example: if a four person group decided on the AR-15 as their main weapons platform, perhaps two would carry standard ARs plus .22lr conversion kits, one could carry a machine gun-barrel steel AR and higher capacity magazines for suppressive fire and a fourth would carry an AR set up for longer range - a SPR or scoped .300 BLK. Just an example--you could come up with endless combinations--but you can see the different capabilities provided, while still maintaining a high degree of cross compatibility.

In the Wolf family, my wife and I have a some items that are the same between our kits, and some that are different. I carry more of the defensive stuff, while she carries more of the kid support stuff. I carry a shovel, she carries the folding saw. Nothing high speed about diapers, but common sense.

Not too complex at work here, but something that would require a bit of forethought and coordination between group members. If you've got a special skill area, that will inform specialty gear that you carry, or you just may be carrying a general use item so that someone else doesn't have to.

Interested to hear your thoughts, plans and experiences on this.


  1. In a few months, your fire-team will consist of a musketeer, a single-shot bolt actions.22, and a can of mace. That is, if Feinstein has her way.

    Bury them deep; the chair is against the wall.

  2. I read one version of describing a fire team as a Navy group. The people walking point carry shotguns (destroyers) followed by the long range rifle carriers (carriers). Since your opponent would likely wait for most of your group to be in range before they engage, your shotgun users are up front where they do the most good with the short range (but devastating) shotgun.

    I wonder if the people carrying shotguns should carry folding rimfire rifles as well? These firearms aren't that heavy and having limited range, compliment a shotgun having more precision.

    I'm no logistician though - thats just wondering if that would be wise.

    1. Recurved BoomstickJanuary 08, 2013

      Or alternatively, an AR/ AK type pistol with the shotgun. Granted, a couple of magazines of 5.56, 7.62, or 5.45 on top of what you need for the shotgun would be weighty...

      Or maybe an SBS of a semi auto, magazine fed shotgun (Saiga-12, VEPR-12, etc) paired with an SBR or AR/ AK pistol? Sounds heavy, but so does an M249 with a few belts.

      No experience on my part, just throwing out ideas.

  3. Civilian Fire teams...

    Two team members with shotguns, one with a bolt action hunting rifle, and one with an AR, AK, or other high capacity capable semi auto. Everyone carries a handgun (of common caliber?).

    I like the concept.


  4. Recurved BoomstickJanuary 08, 2013

    Us gun enthusiasts are latching on to the gun portion too much ;)

    Divirsification of gear and standardization of gear can be a tough balance. Our household has the primary user with the dedicated gear, and the backup(s) with "quick fix" or "good enough to get to the primary user" gear. My wife, for example, is a nurse. Her med kit is comprehensive, and is the size of a small pack. My med kit is basically bandaids and super glue in an altoids tin. My pack will have the splitting axe, hers will have a heavy duty knife such as the BK-2. We both, however, will have equal loads for young children (diapers, wipes, kid friendly snacks and comfort food, etc), regular snacks, and water.

    It comes down to your needs, your team, your environment and circumstances.

    1. I'm not surprised you guys latched onto the gun portion!

      Good points.

  5. 90+% of the time the "DM" which is really just an arbitrary title. Regardless there is no standardized SDM qualification or equipment package and the guy is packing an AR anyway. I would say that sticking within the same platform/ caliber is important for cross leveling ammunition. A team packing an AK, an AR, a PTR-91 and a Garand are a logistical nightmare. The guy pulling rear security and the TL are going to burn through less ammo than the other dudes so everybody needs rifles that shoot the same round and take the same magazine.

    This is a place where the modularity and adaptability of the AR platform give a lot of options to suit personal tastes and mission requirements. A light small person with CQB tendencies could pack an AR pistol. The long range shooter could have a 20" BBL AR with a variable powered optic and 75 gr open tip match ammo. In a fix both can shoot the 55gs M193 that the TL is packing.

    Tools are a great place for this. Everybody doesn't need an ax, a hatchet, a saw and a shovel. However the big in shape guy can haul the ax, somebody else the hatchet, etc so the team has lots of tools at its disposal.

    Interesting topic!

    1. Good points.

      Agree on the attractiveness of the AR here, too. Even to the point of accommodating different calibers; conversion kits and spare uppers are more easily carried then full spare rifles. Even with only dedicated uppers in different calibers, you still get a ton of cross compatibility - lowers, various parts, often bolts and magazines.

  6. We survivalilists need to get off this fear of Dumb-Ann Frankenstein taking away our AR's.
    Without a doubt we already have enough out there buried, to assist us.
    Lets not forget that a common bolt action rifle in the hands of an ordinary marksman can wreak havock on an enemy.
    The reality is that in most scenarios, 25 shots of that 30 round magazine goes to waste anyhow.
    I say let her and the rest of them have their way with AR's and high cap magazines.
    Give me am old military Mauser and I'm good.

    1. The problem is that bolt guns do not make people shoot any better. By your (questionable) theory the guy with an AR takes 5 decent shots. At that ratio a guy with a Mauser has 1 useful shot assuming he loaded the 5 rd mag full then stuck a round into the chamber to give him 6.

  7. Great article! Having operated in a fire team I know that its a great system that can be used in more than just military applications. Each man has a function to carry out. Whether navigating, making decisions, or carrying the heavy stuff to blow things up or lay suppressive fire. Another key point about a fire team is that every man in the team knows each others job. So that if one member gets incapacitated or killed the other men know how to do his "job" as well (i.e. take over the squad automatic weapon/use the 203). Also constant training with one another and the shared camaraderie, probably is what makes the small teams work so well.

  8. If it ever comes down to this we will have at least some captured military hardware at our disposal. Just sayin'.

  9. We olny have me, my wife and a 7 year old. So I would carry the Beretta CX4 40 caliber, Beretta 9mm, and heavy camp materials. My wife would carry another 9mm and lighter camp materials. My son would carry the lightest camping material including a small knife or club. I also have a 145 lb Boerboel (dog) who can carry some stuff.


    1. I'd get a cart for that Boer, bet he could haul a couple hundred pounds without noticing.

  10. Something that I have done is carry a crossbow in addition to my primary firearm for shtf purposes. Not really heavy, more of a bulky item. I find the silent nature of it alluring. Taking game or sentries with stealth I fine deeply useful. I'm surprised no one talked about breaching tools or casualty carrying equipment. Very good discussion here.

    1. A breaching shotgun is one of the best uses of a scattergun, and about what they are typically relegated to among military and law enforcement today. Bolt cutters and a big ol' pry bar can come in handy, too.

    2. My thoughts exactly. Pry bars are such delicious little tools.