Rules of engagement in a post SHTF world?

Hello, my friend and welcome back!  I was recently asked this by a fellow Prepper and I was taken back a little by it, I must admit.  There seems to be a misunderstanding about what exactly “Rules of Engagement “ means and that is the subject of today’s post, so grab a cup of coffee, my friend and have a seat while we visit.

My friend was quite serious when he asked me what I thought the rules of engagement would be in a post-SHTF world. It took me a minute to finally realize just what he was asking.  Being former Military, I am well aware of the true meaning of term, but apparently, others are not.

According to Wikipedia, the term “Rules of Engagement”(ROE) is: rules or directives to military forces (including individuals) that define the circumstances, conditions, degree, and manner in which the use of force, or actions which might be construed as provocative, may be applied.

Briefly, it is the rules that you need to follow before you can justify shooting someone in a time of war.  While there’s actually a little more to it than that, but you get the idea.  These rules not only apply to the Military, but also to Law Enforcement and Civilians as well.

For example, In the US, you must have a reasonable fear or belief that you or someone else’s life is in imminent danger before you can shoot someone.  This is true anyplace in the US and applies to everyone.

I don’t believe that this is what my friend had in mind when he asked about the ROE in a post-apocalyptic world.  Instead what he was actually wanting to know was what guidelines a person should use when dealing with others in dark times.

The fact is that there are no rules that would apply that I am aware of and even if there were, no one would be around to enforce them.   Let common sense be your guide and use restraint and prudence when dealing with others.

This might be a good time to dispel a false belief that some people have.  There is no such thing as a fair fight!  Get that idea out of your head right now. I have no idea where that notion ever came from, but when it comes to war and survival it does not apply.

I myself have never been in a fair fight and hope I never do.  If there is no other choice but to use violence, then do whatever it takes to win.  Use whatever weapon it takes and be as savage as it takes to win because second place will usually mean that you are dead.

If you want to win, then be faster and more brutal than your opponent and don’t stop until he is dead.  Never let anyone make you believe that there is any shame in winning a conflict. In a post SHTF world, there will only be winners and those who are dead.


The only ROE in a post SHTF world will be if they threaten you or your family in any way then kill them.  I know that sounds harsh, but surviving in a post SHTF world will be harsh and unless you are willing to do what it takes then you will never survive no matter how much preps you have.

A post SHTF world will be place where at least in the beginning, the weak will die and only those who are willing to fight and “Fight Dirt” as some people say will survive.  This is not a school yard fight we are talking about but a full-on fight for survival.  The weak will die and the strong will fight on.

Now to answer the original question, what will the ROE be for a post SHTF world be?  None!  You either fight and fight hard and dirty or you will not survive.  This is a hard thing for most people to grasp because it goes against everything that they have been taught.  The question is if they can overcome the notion of a fair fight and be brutal enough to survive.

This is one of those subjects that give people pause to stop and think and bout the seriousness of surviving. Life will be hard, brutal, and dangerous in a post SHTF world, be sure you are prepared mentally to survive and you might just have a chance.  Well that is it for today and I hope you have found this interesting.  Until next time, stay safe, stay strong and stay prepared.  God Bless America!


6 thoughts on “Rules of engagement in a post SHTF world?”

  1. There is a reason for the Second Amendment-the lawful citizen militia. In a way SHTF will be
    much as conditions were on the very early American frontier. In the end survivors will mobilize defense for their community. Truthfully the transition to that stage will be violent in extreme.

  2. Great article, Sarge. In a total post-SHTF environment, there will be precious little in the way of Constitutionally-based law enforcement. You are more likely to encounter self constituted vigilantes who may not have your best interests at heart and who may be more akin to armed raiding parties. But that’s just the second wave. The first wave will come in the form of clueless, desperate city dwellers.

  3. Most people are believers of turning the other cheek……which post SHTF means weak and a victim….
    the native Americans mostly believed that being kind and generous to those not of their “family” were victims to be killed, to keep from being killed. That is the way it will be. We can all tell pretty much who will be a threat and who won’t TODAY….but after TSHTF it won’t be so easy. Tell them to move on, let them see you are armed, and watch them go……but keep an eye or so on them….they may walk off a ways and turn and fire……you had better have them in your sights until the are gone, and perhaps have one of your community follow a ways and make sure they leave. I read “Patriots” by Rawles and think he tells it like it may be. Shoot first and ask questions later?????? Give them a chance to go away instead.

    • Whoops, I pasted the wrong link…sorry about that.

      I’m unable to provide a link directly to the video, but if you just google “butch cassidy and the sundance kid knife fight” you can see a visual depiction of one very important aspect of what Sarge is saying in his excellent article.

      I hope this works this time.


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