Fortresses & Fields

From America’s 1st Freedom:

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?

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.

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