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Boris
01-01-2002, 05:10 AM
TYR, Thank you for pointing out the new book, I'll look it up. I have read the post you have on this thread. If you have opinions on schools to look at, and schools to stay away from. Any input would be of great help. I'm seeking info on combat tracking I may be able to attend as a Civ. working as a DOD contractor. Thank ou agin for info about the book.

Boris
01-01-2002, 05:27 AM
TYR, Thank you pointing out the book to me. Added it to my amazon wish list for my next order from them. I have read you post on this thread. If have ideas or opinoins on military style tracking school I may attend as a DOD civ contractor. And or schools to avoid! Thank you again.

Rifleman
02-11-2007, 09:17 AM
A great historical site for tracker enthusiasts:

http://www.combattrackerteam.org/

Has any effort been made to incorporate combat tracking techniques into operations in Afghanistan?

jcustis
02-12-2007, 02:38 AM
There is an article in the Marine Corps Gazette I picked up that covers combat tracking. Haven't read it yet, but there was a dog and handler on the front cover, so I presume the article has something to do with tracking in the GWOT.

I'll try to remember to let you know what it discusses, and will probably send the issue to you after I'm done with it.

jonSlack
02-12-2007, 02:53 AM
Army MI Combat Tracking Course (http://www.universityofmilitaryintelligence.us/functional_courses/ctc/default.asp)

jcustis
02-12-2007, 03:00 AM
And check out the testimonials page at that link. I pray that our leadership isn't just figuring out the merits of tactical tracking, by trained trackers...

Bowman
02-12-2007, 03:15 AM
Very interesting ! Thanks for the info. Somehow in my reading of the Vietnam War I missed these teams .

jcustis
02-12-2007, 01:54 PM
I can recall receiving very rudimentary tracking training during initial infantry training at the schoolhouse. Again, it was very basic and did not cover the collective tasks of tracking, but the mindset was there in '93.

I'm guessing here, but believe that the period of instruction was removed from the curriculum less than five years later.

I'd like to see the Ft Huachuca course promoted as a reenlistment incentive, vice the lesser-used skills like helicopter rope suspension training master crs. I've mentioned it before, but we caught several dirtbags after an IED killed one of 3d LAR's Marines near Fallujah. A shoe pattern at the trigger point matched the shoes worn by an Iraqi found in vicinity of a car repair garage a klick or so away.

slapout9
02-12-2007, 02:08 PM
JC, If you get the chance watch a movie called "The Hunted" with Tommy Lee Jones in it. It is about a tracker that used to teach the military and when one of his former students goes nuts he is called in to track him down. The movie is supposed to be based on a true story. The guy that was the tech advisor still teaches tracking and a bunch of other Indian style combat methods. He used to have a website if I can find it I will post it. He used to have a free newsletter also. Pretty cool stuff as I remember. When he quit teaching the military he used to specilize in finding lost children as I recall.

Found it here is the link.
http://www.trackerschool.com/

120mm
02-12-2007, 02:46 PM
But in the "Big Army", tracking is seen as "nut-case" behavior.

I'm a good ole' country boy, and "terrain based, forensic information collection" is pretty second nature to me. As a PFC, this skill was seen as odd, even funny, but as I gained rank, it is seen as full-blown crazed nut-case nomination material.

I get back in the field on my own once or twice a year (sad, ain't it) :( and I can usually get back "in the swing of things" in a few minutes. It IS harder to stay quiet, though, as the extra couple pounds and the bad knees make too much noise.:mad:

Back to the subject: I'd like to see the "metric" you'd use to convince the slick little O-6/O-7 with the manicured nails that trackers are the "way to go." He's probably seen the movies and knows all about it, anyway.

jcustis
02-12-2007, 03:10 PM
I've tried to bankroll a stint at the Tactical Tracking Operations School on a couple of occasions, but it never panned out. I'm a big fan of developing and maintaining those skills.

The MI hosted course has already received favorable reviews in at least one gun rag, and I suspect that the various branches are establishing a train-the-trainer program. Hopefully the Marine Corps at least establishes a cadre at the Division Schools level and works some training time into its various SASO training packages.

The primary thesis to LtCol Day's article on CTTs (in the Jan '07 MC Gazette) is:

"The Marine Corps should develop and retain a CTT capability in support of GCE operations. The primary missions of a CTT would consist of gaining information about the enemy in order to provide useful intelligence to commanders. In addition, if required, the second mission would be to locate the enemy in order to destroy him."

In addition to the challenge of responsive veterinary care in a combat theater, I believe that the greater concern would be tactical mobility for the CTT. In as much the same manner as an EOD, my assumption is that a CTT would not be able to remain forward deployed into the AO for extended periods of time, particularly during periods of extreme heat.

So how do we get the CTT to the incident location in an expedient manner that actually allows it to start tracking quickly and facilitate the use of other sensor systems? Because Al Anbar (my realm of experience) has vast stretches of barren areas as well as complex terrain, few IED initiators do the deed on foot, or alone. The triggerman is, as we know from even open-sources, often a member of a highly mobile team that employs a number of delivery, emplacement, and initiation means. Even if we subscribe to GPaulus' belief that the typical insurgent operates within x km of his home, he is rarely walking after he emplaces or initiates a device.

What I'm getting at is that I am cautious that the investment required for tracking dogs and CTTs would actually seen a return during employment. The initial sensor at an incident site is likely to be other personnel within the unit, and they would be the first to cue an airborne sensor to fleeing suspects, not a CTT (unless active and embedded in the convoy or patrol). Perhaps the CTT is staged in a ready room at airfields or LZs that service the medevac helicopter assets, and flies out to the incident site when the Blackhawk lifts off.

While I am more excited about the prospect for use of tracking teams to support follow-up ops after a weapons/explosive cache or sniper firing point is found, I'm still hesitant to believe that tracking dogs can make a significant difference. When we contrast LtCol Day's proposal against the successful integration of tracking teams (visual and scent) into Rhodesian COIN ops, the biggest difference is the lack of mobility faced by the ZANLA and ZIPRA "gangs". When sign was found and stops groups were effectively emplaced, it was often because of the enabler found in the helicopter.

I've invited LtCol Day to visit this thread and offer further opinion.

goesh
02-12-2007, 03:38 PM
Muslims and canines don't mix well but your best bet for mutts in the field in that terrain is the Jack Russell Terrier. The little fellows keep a low profile, are very low maintanence, high enery but heat resistant and they can be tucked away easily in tents and if Sparky gets heat exhaustion, he can easily be put in a pack or carried in the arms for a while. I would recommend dying a few tan stripes on his usually white fur to make him blend in a bit better though. I've found them to be the best squirrel treeing dog going, as good as a Begal but Begals can't endure that kind of heat and by far they are the best rat killing dog in the world.

Stratiotes
02-13-2007, 12:54 AM
Mantracking is one of the skills "Gunny" Poole often talks about in his books. The most recent book talks a great deal about tracking in an urban environment with Iraq in mind. It is a subject that does not get the attention one might expect. Good to hear some examples where it is.

CFRtodd
02-13-2007, 02:38 AM
Tracking, it seems like such a simple, primitive and almost goofy tactic yet it works.

-todd-

slapout9
02-13-2007, 03:12 AM
Combat films is that your company?

Rifleman
02-13-2007, 03:49 AM
I think Combat Tracker Teams would probably have greater unility in rural Afghanistan, but sometimes CTTs can still work wonders in an urban setting.

Retired Border Patrol Agent Jack Kearney writes:

One of my most challenging tracking experiences began to unfold on the night of July 3rd, 1962, when a small Mexican national entered the United States surreptitiously near Tijuana, Mexico, and started a walk that would bring him to Los Angeles. We cut his track at dawn the following morning and started following it. With a team of trackers always on his trail and other officers cutting for sign ahead, we had, by late afternoon, taken the trail over 35 circuitous miles to the intersection of Main and Second Street in El Cajon. At this point our quarry turned left on Main Street and started walking directly through the center of the city which, at that time, had a population of nearly 40,000 people. However, the markings on the bottom of his shoes were so unique that we were able to find and identify his track in the few dirt areas available. We continued following him directly through the busiest part of the city for nearly two miles to it's western edge, soutwest towards the freeway, then back north on the railroad tracks where, at nearly nine o'clock in the evening we caught up with him and made the arrest.

I'll bet he was surprised!

At one time the Border Patrol probably had more expert trackers than any other organization. It still might. The Border Patrol was founded in 1924, at a time when there were still a lot of old time lawmen and frontiersmen around to coach the young, up and coming agents.

120mm
02-13-2007, 07:14 AM
Tracking, it seems like such a simple, primitive and almost goofy tactic yet it works.

-todd-

My point, exactly. No-one considers "air to air" combat as "simple, primitive and almost goofy". As well as tank gunnery, or marksmanship training, or first aid training.

But the mere mention of combat tracking gets people looking out the corners of their eyes at you, and shifting, nervously away from you. Combat tracking is a forensic science that "looks" like a "black art."

I had quit the "crusade" years ago, and now it has to go and become relevant.

goesh
02-13-2007, 01:39 PM
I suppose in some respects from a tech standpoint, tracking seems primitive and quasi mystical but we all know the wonders of technology can fizzle with bad operators and programmers. At least you can't steal data from trackers and hack their expertise. I just read an article about the Navy and their use of dolphins and the article said sea lions can carry some cuffs to put on the leg of a swimmer who in turn can literally be reeled in. Fishing for bad guys with sea lions - go figure and in Afghanistan early on amidst state of the art technology, we saw pictures of SF troops on horseback. It's good the military can be flexible and adaptable. There is tendency I think amongst civilians to regard the military as rigid and inflexible. This perception may be in part because for some reason civilians have not wanted to engage and interact with the military as they do other elements of their government. I don't know why that is but I think that is changing because of technology and real time scenarios and instant exposure afforded by technology.

Rifleman
02-19-2007, 01:19 AM
Here's an interesting article that goes along with this thread:

http://www.historynet.com/wars_conflicts/vietnam_war/3026771.html?featured=y&c=y

It's a four page article but it's well worth the read for anyone interested in the subject. It about the formation of the Combat Tracker Teams and the tough training they received at the British Jungle Warfare School.

Training for the visual trackers was 65 days. Training for the dog handlers was 95 days. The handlers and dogs were integrated with the visual trackers for the last phase of the training. All in all it sounds like it was one tough school!

120mm
02-19-2007, 06:53 AM
Good read, Rifleman.

Maximus
02-19-2007, 03:30 PM
Thought you'd all be interested in part of an e-mail from a former student, who's now a rifle platoon commander. It answers the initial question included in this thread. Yes, we're starting to incorporate combat tracking in our training. Not suprisingly, looks like Gen Mattis is pushing the training...

"The Marines just received the SUL Guide to COIN, we have been aggressively leaning into it as of late.

Additionally I have been sitting in on the COIN think tank that Gen Mattis put together with the Man Tracker, Israelis, Detroit Cops, SF, Hunters and Gang Bangers- some pretty awesome concepts and ideas coming from it. I don't have time to wait for them to come out with the actual PUB so I have been sneaking in and listening to as much as possible so we can implement immediately. I am working with two of them specifically, former SF and Detroit violent crimes detectives. Definitely felt very prepared for the fleet..."

trackerteam6
03-06-2007, 04:24 PM
The Marines were trained by people from the U.S. Armies Combat Tracking Teams from the Vietnam era. All three instructors were graduates of the British school and veterans of the Vietnam War where they worked as Tracking Tem members.

Stan
03-06-2007, 07:13 PM
A great link here:


The COMBAT TRACKER TEAMS of the Viet Nam War,
were small, highly-trained units usually consisting of
five men and a Labrador Retriever. They were a
composite group and cross-trained, enabling all
members to complete the mission. The purpose of
CTT was to: reestablish contact with the "elusive enemy";
reconnaissance of an area for possible enemy activities;
and locate lost or missing friendly personnel.
The methods used in completing the missions
were Visual and Canine Tactical Tracking. The unit
was usually supported by a platoon or larger force
and worked well ahead of them to maintain
noise discipline and the element of surprise.

More at:

http://www.combattrackerteam.org/

SWJED
03-07-2007, 10:13 AM
7 March NY Times - In Arizona Desert, Indian Trackers vs. Smugglers (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/07/washington/07wolves.html?ref=us) by Randal Archibold.


... At a time when all manner of high technology is arriving to help beef up security at the Mexican border — infrared cameras, sensors, unmanned drones — there is a growing appreciation among the federal authorities for the American Indian art of tracking, honed over generations by ancestors hunting animals.

Mr. Thompson belongs to the Shadow Wolves, a federal law enforcement unit of Indian officers that has operated since the early 1970s on this vast Indian nation straddling the Mexican border.

Tracking skills are in such demand that the Departments of State and Defense have arranged for the Shadow Wolves to train border guards in other countries, including some central to the fight against terrorism. Several officers are going to train border police in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which border Afghanistan, and in several other countries...

TROUFION
03-10-2007, 01:24 AM
Like all of you I've seen the utility of this skill set. When a rifle platoon cmdr I was exposed to its utility at the Australian Jungle Warfare school (Tully, fun place highly recommended). Then as a company commander I tried to teach some of it to my squad leaders and platoon commanders. Later when I had the scout sniper platoon I tried to get them to lean in on this, however we went across the LD into Iraq as Mech and the snipers didn't scout much. The resources I utilized : Tactical Tracking Operations, by David Scott-Donelan and the SAS Guide to Tracking, by Bob Carss. I even mailed a set of these books to a friend in the 10th Mt when he went to Afghanistan.

Very hard to teach on your own, particularly when you aren't that versed in it to begin with. Further even a lot of the troops, not just senior leaders, thought it hokie pre-OIF 1.


http://www.trackerschool.com/

taldozer
07-10-2007, 06:52 PM
Hello,

Tracking is a critical skill set for COIN and I am a firm supporter of the methods. Even if the skill is not used for tracking, the awareness and observation skills one takes away from the training is a enhancer in it self. It gives the troop skills to help in IED recognition and intelligence collecting and this is just two examples. There are many more. I did a thesis in school recently on tactical tracking and talked about this very subject. I know the U.S. Army recently stood up the Combat Tracking Center (CTC) which was already captured on this forum/thread. As well the army has along history of maintaining “blocks” of instruction in various other primary schools like the Mountain Warfare Course, Army Sniper School, SERE, SOTIC, Ranger School (Florida and Benning phase, well at least in 1992 they did!), K9 handler school, SF Q-Course, Long-Range Surveillance Leaders Course (or whatever they named it this year, as every time I look the name is changed) and I am sure if I think there is more. Now most of this training is geared at counter-tracking, about 70% with the remainder dedicated to tracking. But at least the Army is somewhat in the right direction. I know tracking is a hard sell for a lot of people because of all the misconceptions and bull crap out their like “spirit tracking” and other tree hugger methods mostly coming out of the Tom Brown and Jon Young camps (no offence to anyone, but both of their teachings have no place in the tactical arena). I have run various tactical/combat tracking classes for SF teams in my group from 3-days to 15-day POI and could realistically run a very good course in 5-days. Again the more time the better, but as we all know command hates to lose guys for more then a few weeks. When I went to the Malaysia Tracking Course it lasted six months (do not confuse this with 2-week deals most people go and do) so you can always do more with more time. Finally I instruct for Donelan (when he is not busy with the Army CTC) at Tactical Tracking Operations School (TTOS) and also run my school Special Operations Tactical Tracking Institute (SOTTI) on the side moonlighting (and also run by former teammates). Finally if anyone needs information for their unit contact me and I can send POIs or class ideas for you, so you can run your own training. I have an extensive tracking library and would happy to help. All I ask is that I send it to dot mil e-mail accounts. This is for various reasons. Well I guess I done with this rant.

Cheers!

jcustis
07-10-2007, 07:16 PM
taldozer,

I may have a need for your particular talents and connections as they apply to this realm. In all this time, I don't believe I knew you had that tracking background.

This all relates to pending real-world contingency operations, so I'll be in touch via PM, and then hopefully onto .mil correspondence.

Jedburgh
07-10-2007, 07:28 PM
Vietnam Archive Oral History Project Interview with Neil Couch (http://www.virtualarchive.vietnam.ttu.edu/cgi-bin/starfetch.exe?Lk9n6Z8vt10e1W@MVwF4IZ7k@.B60d2tzWFP gN3NeAM4w5iHMG@i0imDpFEKad68SPwzQMtyS@AI.4eI4EdjAn oJSWRkHZEQ/OH0124.pdf)

...I liked the small unit tactics and then in 19 and 67 actually I went back to Vietnam and went in the 25th Division and that’s when they started the tracker program. I was not interested in it at that time. I didn’t know what it was, and I kind of ducked out of it for a while and guys kept on us so I finally ended up applying for the school and then from there I went through USERV and processed through USERV and went into Malaysia or JWS and that was my first introduction to the trackers was by Lieutenant Kiwi, a New Zealand SAS and his team. I think they come out of Borneo or somewhere and it was really interesting because after I got into it and it was hard. It was some of the hardest training I’ve ever been through. I’ve been through airborne school, commando school, LRRP schools, 7th Army LRRPs and all and I believe this was one of the toughest schools that I had ever encountered...

taldozer
07-11-2007, 12:07 AM
That was a good article/interview thanks for sharing it. Jcustis when I did my pipeline it included visual tracker, Dog Handler (Tracker), Dog Handler (Scout), Scout, Lead Scout, Visual Tracker Instructor and CTR (Close Target Recce), finally Jungle Warfare Instructor all totaling just a week or two shy of six months. As well I did the Botswana, Zimbabwe and New Zealand (among other countries) tracking courses. Here in the U.S. I have done a host of civilian sponsored courses by TTOS (before becoming an instructor for David), On Point (Kevin Reeves, also a good friend), Charles Worsham (retired now but trained the FBI and Spec Ops in human tracking), UTS (with Joel Hardin, he use to routinely come out to SERE to teach the instructors) and did a tracking course with the Shadow Wolves. Now this month I am going to the Army’s new Combat Tracking Course to validate the POI for SF guys. I already no the answer because it is not the much different from David’s TTOS POI in fact it is one in the same as he won that contract and runs that school for the Army. SF sends teams to TTOS for training as does the Rangers/RRD.

Abu Buckwheat
07-11-2007, 08:00 AM
Hello,

Tracking is a critical skill set for COIN and I am a firm supporter of the methods. Even if the skill is not used for tracking, the awareness and observation skills one takes away from the training is a enhancer in it self. It gives the troop skills to help in IED recognition and intelligence collecting and this is just two examples. There are many more. I did a thesis in school recently on tactical tracking and talked about this very subject. I know the U.S. Army recently stood up the Combat Tracking Center (CTC) which was already captured on this forum/thread. ...

Very helpful information. At Navy West Coast SERE we instituted a comprehensive Tracker Defeat skill set into our student's evasion course. JPRA and USA-SERE developed the curriculum. We had trackers come and show how they track as well as how to throw the dogs and teams off scent... very rudimentary but it allowed us the basic skills to track non-evasive persons in Afghanistan and to be aware of my own evasion tracking signature! However like many things from our past counterinsurgency this is a skill set I fear which is not yet appreciated.

carl
07-18-2007, 10:55 AM
I know tracking is a hard sell for a lot of people because of all the misconceptions and bull crap out their like “spirit tracking” and other tree hugger methods mostly coming out of the Tom Brown and Jon Young camps (no offence to anyone, but both of their teachings have no place in the tactical arena).

I went took one of Tom Brown's week long courses in the 90's. I can't judge the course's tactical utility, but I can say that it was very long on hype and false dramatics. The food was bad too.

dlayne
10-28-2007, 04:58 PM
There is an article in the Marine Corps Gazette I picked up that covers combat tracking. Haven't read it yet, but there was a dog and handler on the front cover, so I presume the article has something to do with tracking in the GWOT.

I'll try to remember to let you know what it discusses, and will probably send the issue to you after I'm done with it.



There are currently active teams deployed in theatre with more to come.

dlayne

dlayne
10-28-2007, 05:03 PM
I went took one of Tom Brown's week long courses in the 90's. I can't judge the course's tactical utility, but I can say that it was very long on hype and false dramatics. The food was bad too.

I've heard that from many.

A full cycle of combat tracker training should consist of about 6 months... in all types of terrain...with a canine as well as visual trackers. There is a canine breed of choice but I'm not at liberty to discuss. When the two elements of canine and man are fully trained they are very difficult to defeat both in rural and urban.

Rifleman
10-28-2007, 07:08 PM
The breeds of choice for Vietnam are well known: Labs for tracker dogs and Shepherds for scout dogs.

Shepherds were also the patrol dog of choice for many police departments for many years, yet both my department's patrol dogs are another breed.

It looks like dog preferences have changed in the combat tracker community as well.

dlayne
10-28-2007, 07:42 PM
Very helpful information. At Navy West Coast SERE we instituted a comprehensive Tracker Defeat skill set into our student's evasion course. JPRA and USA-SERE developed the curriculum. We had trackers come and show how they track as well as how to throw the dogs and teams off scent... very rudimentary but it allowed us the basic skills to track non-evasive persons in Afghanistan and to be aware of my own evasion tracking signature! However like many things from our past counterinsurgency this is a skill set I fear which is not yet appreciated.

I am a civilian tracking instructor...one of two who initiated combat tracking into the modern military, again. My credentials date back to the British Jungle Warfare School, Malaysia during the Vietnam War and my combat experiences are from that war as well. I've met with Maj Day (now LTC Day) at 29 Palms, along with others, who've played an intregal part in establishing this program.

The problem in tracking is that everyone thinks they've developed a better mouse trap. As far as 'throwing dogs off scent' a properly trained dog will scarcely lose the track. It's the handler who's thrown off when he doubts his dog. Wind, temperature, vegetation, humidity, and other factors come into play when using a canine. That's why there should always be visual trackers incorporated into the team as well.

The object of combat tracking is to close the time and distance gap with the quarry. It's been proven time and again that visual tracking is not always the answer in that the time and distance gap expands instead of decreasing because visual trackers cannot possibly track in urban areas with the same excellence as canine.

We've tracked SERE personnel with minimally trained tracking personnel and in almost every instance we were successful.

Some prefer the Shutzhund style of tracking but Shutzhund is worse than not having tracking personnel at all....it sucks.

I personally know David Scott Donelan and think he's a fine tracker and gentleman.

We've had very good success 'in country' with the few teams we've sent over. We come at the quarry in ways he'd never understand and even if he's waiting and watching we're generally on his flank or six before he realizes that he's screwed.

lz2bits2
03-04-2008, 06:56 PM
Hello All,

As the historian and webmistress for the Combat Tracker Teams of the Vietnam War website - and the author of the only historically accurate article on the foundation of the US Army CTTs, I thought you all might be interested in this:
http://www/historynet.com/magazines/vietnam/3026771.html (http://www.historynet.com/magazines/vietnam/3026771.html)

And, yes, this specialty is certainly as potent an asset in the current time as it was when used (with great success) in SouthEast Asia. It adapts to any terrain. It is still not being used properly, but let us say hypothetically that without question, the CTT is capable of being started on the remains of an IED - and following that to the bomb-maker.

This is an INFANTRY specialty - highly aggressive - that has a problem in current times because the oversight for K9 is vested with the Military Police - Provost. There are other hurdles but once the capabilities are understood, there should be an immediate move to embrace this. It's arcane - no doubt. It's definitely not a "high tech" thing. However, the successes speak for themselves. And - time is short - the only guys left who CAN teach it properly are in their 60s.

Very best regards!
Sue Merritt - Webmistress/Historian - Combat Tracker Teams of the Vietnam War

cbttracker
08-14-2008, 11:46 AM
All,
Trust me, combat trackers, and combat tracking teams are being trained, and employed in theater. I'm the one doing it as we speak in Afghanistan, and in Iraq 2 years ago. We have found and exploited rocket, ambush, and IED sites. The British, NZ, Malaysian, and Rhodisian TTPs ( I'm trained in them all) are the basis of the training, but we've modified the formations and size of the teams to meet the METT-C specific to this AO. The GMVs (ground mobility vehicle) have become the overwatch, and fire support platforms, along with the indigenous troops who exploit tgt. area. Although I was involved with the US Army, and Marine CTT program, the tracker dog piece is not included in our ops at this time. Although bomb detection, and SSE dogs are, and are priceless. Taldozer, sorry I missed in JB, I'm still in the south, for now.

William F. Owen
08-14-2008, 03:57 PM
I don't think anyone doubts that "tracking" - ground sign exploitation - because it's not only about following folk - is useful. Sign awareness should be taught to all infantry.

The issues I have with tracking is how you apply it in terms of cost, careers and sustainability. Tracking and its military employment is clearly not rocket science. It's a skill, like shooting. Some folks are better at it than others.

I would be very interested if someone can tell me how long it actually takes to train a "tracker", and how perishable the skill set is.

... and haven't the US boarder guard had trackers for about 80 years? Aren't native Americans expert trackers? Why is everyone running off the the Brit and NZ Schools?

Steve Blair
08-14-2008, 04:04 PM
... and haven't the US boarder guard had trackers for about 80 years? Aren't native Americans expert trackers? Why is everyone running off the the Brit and NZ Schools?

Native Americans are only expert trackers if they're raised in a traditional hunter/gatherer style environment...much like kids raised on ranches or backwoods regions. Quite often the border patrol trackers are also hunters and/or raised in a more rural setting (or had parents/other guardians who exposed them to nature from an early age or learned such skills later in life on their own).

I expect that people rely on the Brit/NZ styles because they were documented. If you go back into older publications, you can find some very interesting tracking information in stuff from the mid- to late-1800s, but most of it was either informal or privately published by serving officers.

Rifleman
08-14-2008, 06:12 PM
... and haven't the US boarder guard had trackers for about 80 years? Aren't native Americans expert trackers? Why is everyone running off the the Brit and NZ Schools?

The US Border Patrol has had some truly amazing trackers: retired agents like Jack Kearney, Ab Taylor, and Joel Hardin are some of the best known; many others have attained great proficiency.

The Border Patrol started in the American southwest in 1924. I suspect that many of the original agents were local lawmen and ranch hands only a step or two removed from the frontier.

Many Native American tribes had a great tracking heritage; yet, many of the young kids now probably couldn't track a muddy dog across a clean floor. I'll bet it's the same with lots of Australian Aborigine and African Bushman youth.

Combat Tracker Teams fielded in Vietnam by the US were trained by SAS and native Iban at the British Jungle Warfare School. Maybe some of that heritage and legacy (institutional memory?) remains?

Ken White
08-14-2008, 06:22 PM
...Combat Tracker Teams fielded in Vietnam by the US were trained by SAS and native Iban at the British Jungle Warfare School. Maybe some of that heritage and legacy (institutional memory?) remains?Malysian Tracker School -- which still uses Ibans -- and a few years ago, got occasional MTTs from that School to come to Hawaii. May still do so...

CR6
08-14-2008, 06:57 PM
Malysian Tracker School -- which still uses Ibans -- and a few years ago, got occasional MTTs from that School to come to Hawaii. May still do so...

You recall correctly Ken. Two NCOs with whom I've worked trained in Malaysia while assigned to Hawaii.

cbttracker
08-15-2008, 04:51 AM
First off, tracking is tracking. It's the ability to follow man, animal, or equipment by the sign/spoor left behind. Joel Harden, Tom Brown, Native Americans, Ibans etc. are all competent practicioners of this ancient skill, and have gained notoriety from it. Combat or tactical tracking is the combining of sign cutting, tracking and combat patrolling. Native American trackers were an integral part of U.S. military operations thru much of our history, and westward expansion. The combat side was tactical application of this skill, usually the cavalry who were close behind. Border Patrol tracking operations before 9/11 rarely involved more than 1 or 2 agents, and relied on drag roads to leap frog ahead of the quarry. The quarry for the most part were economic immigrants, and were not looking for a fight, they ran.
The British style was developed because the native trackers (Iban, Dyak, Senoi prak) initially employed against the CTs (communist Terrorists) didn't possess the tactical training to close with, or employ supporting arms to destroy the enemy. The logical conclusion was to Make soldiers out of native trackers, or trackers out of British soldiers (and Commonwealth), both were done, to inlude K-9 and handler. TTps have evolved from SE Asia, Africa, U.S.,Iraq, & Afghanistan experience. Bottom line, combat tracking is combat patrolling, but the enemy picks your route. Brit, NZ, Malay, & Rhodesian TTPs were the first to recognize this in the post WWII world,

William F. Owen
08-15-2008, 06:51 AM
First off, tracking is tracking. It's the ability to follow man, animal, or equipment by the sign/spoor left behind.

I agree. I see a lot of parallels between tracking and sniping as concerns their relevance and standing in military pop-culture. The skill is simple but hard to achieve and maintain.

Also like sniping, my experience of military tracking (done by non-indig) is that there is a far amount of "skill-jerking", which is simply irrelevant to its employment in a military/security context. - so like sniping, there are conditions and circumstances where the skill is less relevant than others. Where the skill is relevant, the military quickly recover it. Again, like sniping, the idea that the military suddenly "rediscovers" it, is not supported by the historical record.

...but my question still stands. How do we create trackers, simply, cost effectively and quickly, and then maintain them in role in a way that makes sense?

cbttracker
08-15-2008, 10:01 AM
As a soldier who was a sniper, sniper team sgt, and a sniper troop sgm, I couldn't agree with you more. They both require similiar skill sets, especially patience. The difference is that to maintain sniper proficiency you need lots of ammo, and range time, which is costly. Not to mention the fieldcraft time required to perfect the art. Trackers can be produced relitively cheaply, if the students arrive with the neccessary tactical background. I can train a visual combat tracking team in 10 days to a sufficienty high degree of proficiency. This is what I've been doing for ODAs here in Afghanistan. The level of tracking expertice is directly related to the time and practice the individual devotes to it. The K-9 and handler piece is the expensive part, and requires infrastucture, and lots of training time. I focus on taking highly skilled soldiers, and add tools to their ruck sack. Combat tracking here is an additional mission, not the primary one. The TTPs used to follow up squirting insurgents, also make the team very cognicent of their own spoor. This obviously enhances their survivability during patrols, OP siting, Sniping etc. If trackers learn nothing else, they increase their own survivability, by reducing their own spoor.

William F. Owen
08-15-2008, 11:35 AM
. Trackers can be produced relitively cheaply, if the students arrive with the neccessary tactical background. I can train a visual combat tracking team in 10 days to a sufficienty high degree of proficiency.

So a two week course would suffice? Excellent. So it's not beyond the bounds of reason, logic or cost for each unit/Battle group to have a tracker platoon or for Coy/Sub-units to have tracker teams.

Dogs (K9?) are a Command or "above formation" level asset. From a cost a resources point of view I see no reason to have them any lower.

Do any open source syllabi exist?

selil
08-15-2008, 01:18 PM
...but my question still stands. How do we create trackers, simply, cost effectively and quickly, and then maintain them in role in a way that makes sense?

Thats the difference between metropolitan America and Europe in general. Where I live many people spot & stalk deer from young ages. Following deer spoor through woodlands is not an easy task yet I know dozens of people who can do it.

The bubba beer belly stereotype hunter is no more true than the baby eating soldier is relevant. What I have experienced and seen is civilians who understand camouflage, scent control, light, stalking, wind, distance estimation, backlands navigations (without GPS), and the ability to hall a 200lb carcass out of the woods.

The skills are there but they are often ignored.

Steve Blair
08-15-2008, 01:40 PM
Thats the difference between metropolitan America and Europe in general. Where I live many people spot & stalk deer from young ages. Following deer spoor through woodlands is not an easy task yet I know dozens of people who can do it.

The bubba beer belly stereotype hunter is no more true than the baby eating soldier is relevant. What I have experienced and seen is civilians who understand camouflage, scent control, light, stalking, wind, distance estimation, backlands navigations (without GPS), and the ability to hall a 200lb carcass out of the woods.

The skills are there but they are often ignored.

Quite so. There's also a difference between a stand hunter and a more traditional stalker of game. We've got a fair number of cadets in our detachment alone who'd make great trackers (not at the Kit Carson level, but they are good) because they've been hunting more or less since they could walk. And there are others who just like going out in the woods and seeing what's there.

JT Clark
09-14-2008, 10:13 PM
The Rhodesian system of visual combat tracking is currently being actively taught to all forces at Ft Huachuca through the University of Military Intelligence over a 10 day program.

For more information see:

http://www.universityofmilitaryintelligence.us/functional_courses/ctc/course_information.asp

It is also now integrated into the Marine Combat Hunter program http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jxid-Wwk4Zk

Also, keep your eyes peeled for a tracking section in the forthcoming FM-24.2 Handbook from CAC COIN and (hopefully) a paper on the case for combat tracking and forensic evidence collection in the SW Journal in the near future.

JT Clark
09-14-2008, 10:57 PM
I've just posted on the topic of tracking under the historical section thread, however I'm presently writing a paper on the above topic. Although I can find plenty of anecdotes where trained trackers have made the difference in an LE scenario, I'd greatly appreciate any such anecdotes with a military context.

I'm also looking at the increasing use of visual tracking elements in a forensic evidence gathering capacity in COIN ops. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Rifleman
09-15-2008, 12:03 AM
There are some old newspaper articles posted on the Combat Tracker Team site, to include one about a CTT finding a soldier who got separated from his unit and lost. Go to the Combat Tracker Team site and click on archives to find them.

Here's an interesting article from the Malaya days:

http://www.dnw.co.uk/dnw/medals/FMPro?-db=dnwmedals&-format=itemdetailmedals.htm&-lay=master&SpecialCollectionRegimental=SPECIAL%20AIR%20SERVIC E%20(16%20December%202003)&-max=10&-recid=12584767&-find=

If you google Iban tracker you should fnd a few more interesting links.

And remember that renowned USMC scout/sniper Carlos Hathcock and his spotter once tracked an NVA sniper to his bivouac site and killed him.

taldozer
09-15-2008, 02:35 AM
All,
Taldozer, sorry I missed in JB, I'm still in the south, for now.

Hey Cbttracker,

If you are still down south give me a e-mail, I am still in JB and will not leave till Jan 09. I still would like to have you come up to chat, train and operate.

Cheers!

JT Clark
09-15-2008, 09:22 AM
I have a request up regarding combat tracking anecdotes in the RFIs and Member's Projects section that Rifleman has already been kind enough to respond to.

If anyone else could assist by posting there regarding how combat tracking teams are making the difference in theatre, it would be much appreciated.

bismark17
09-15-2008, 04:59 PM
Just finished the book, "THE BUSH WAR IN RHODESIA - The Extraordinary Combat Memoir of a Rhodesian Reconnaissance Specialist" which goes into Selous Scout TTPs and tracking.

JT Clark
09-15-2008, 06:53 PM
Someone had the book on a tracking course recently. What did you think of it?

Noble Industries
09-16-2008, 04:33 AM
You may want to have a look at the Australian Defence Force - Northern Territory units – NorForce – it’s a predominantly native Australian Aborigine unit that has provided tracking for the ADF.

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/archive/index.php?t-28403.html

http://www.specialoperations.com/Foreign/Australia/RFSU.htm

http://www.defence.gov.au/media/download/2007/May/20070516a/index.htm

JT Clark
09-16-2008, 10:46 AM
Thanks NI- I'd heard of your lads on the top-end of downunder and I'm just realising how much military tracking history Australia has. Apparently Australian trackers were trained up in Victoria and stationed up in Timor during WW2 and were very effective against the Japanese.

SelousScoutsTracker
11-05-2008, 07:31 PM
Sir, I am the originator and Program Director of the US Army Combat Tracking School at Fort Huachuca and the Combat Tracking SME for the USMC Combat Hunter Project. I have 40+ years of real combat tracking operational and instructional experience and have compiled a history of CT, world-wide. If you would let me know what you need and how I can assist, I would be happy to do so.

selil
11-06-2008, 04:55 AM
Sir, I am the originator and Program Director of the US Army Combat Tracking School at Fort Huachuca and the Combat Tracking SME for the USMC Combat Hunter Project. I have 40+ years of real combat tracking operational and instructional experience and have compiled a history of CT, world-wide. If you would let me know what you need and how I can assist, I would be happy to do so.

I'm curious if you're willing.

Do you teach the use of luminol for tracking injured people?

When advancing on supposed hidden adversaries while tracking do you teach backtracking and tracking across the path as a method of cutting off returning adversaries (if I didn't hork that up totally).

Curiosity.

SelousScoutsTracker
11-06-2008, 07:08 PM
Sam,

Although we have experimented with Luminol we do not use it as a mater of course as it’s benefits are more appropriate to crime scenes than on long follow-ups during the hours of darkness. We, at the U.S. Army Combat Tracking School at Fort Huachuca, have mastered the ability to conduct tracking operations at night using other technology and TTP’s which allow us to move quickly over the ground to close the time and distance gap to make contact with the enemy.

The world class Combat Tracking (CT) courses held at Fort H. are unique, innovate and totally unlike tracking courses conducted elsewhere. The training emphasizes the fact that CT can be effectively utilized across the entire spectrum of warfare be it counter-insurgency or conventional. We teach that CT can be used tactically, operationally and strategically; it can be used offensively or defensively. It can be used overtly or covertly; actively or passively and by day or night as well as being used for force protection, route clearance, IED indicator recognition and counter surveillance. Back-tracking training and field exercises are part of the Fort H. classes. Additionally, trained trackers can add a whole new layer of information gathering (now called VISINT) to the S2 collection tool box.

To answer your specific questions:

1. Back-tracking fits into the Passive Tracking category and is used mainly for intelligence gathering purposes in terms of establishing and recording enemy routes, bases camps, contact men, supply point, safe houses, feeding areas, habits, routines, arms caches, border crossing points and other information of value to the G3/S2 folks

As is quoted in Army FM 17-98 (The Scout Platoon) “Tracking is one of the most important sources of actionable intelligence, information about the enemy that can be put to use immediately.” A recent event clearly proved the value of this type of tracking.

2. On the tactical side, we have developed effective TTP’s enabling the CT Team to counter just about most tactical situations they could be confronted with on a follow-up including tracker specific shooting techniques and skills. Students at our Fort Huachuca classes are also trained to utilize other methods to ascertain the direction of travel of threat units so as to use other techniques to move forward, interdict and take the appropriate action against them.

When I say unique and innovative” training, I mean that we train our students in other modules such as Urban Tracking; Night Tracking; Mobile Tracking; Forensic Tracking; Tracking and Surveillance; Tracking Reports; Footprint Data Collection, Sensitive Site Exploitation and other classified subjects.

The U.S. Army Combat Tracking School Instructors are highly trained and experienced in all aspects of combat tracking operations and collective experience and knowledge covers every continent on Earth. Most are from Army and USMC spec-ops backgrounds with recent (and current) experience in all AO’s including Timor and Africa. TTOS, the provider of the instructor cadre for the Fort H. programs has a policy of expanding tracking knowledge and experience world-wide, sends its staff overseas to other tracking schools and 6 lead instructors recently went to Israel, a country which uses trackers extensively. They also have an exchange program with the British Army Jungle Warfare Wing in Brunei and the Commanding Officer, Exec Officer and number of senior instructors have attended the Fort Huachuca class. Other overseas instructor exchanges are scheduled for 2009.

For more information about the Fort Huachuca classes and bookings visit the University of Military Intelligence Website at:

http://www.universityofmilitaryintelligence.us/functionl_courses/ctc/default.asp

Click onto Functional Courses and then on to Combat Tracking.



“Combat Tracking – the Eyes of the Army”

SelousScoutsTracker
11-06-2008, 07:11 PM
Sam,

Although we have experimented with Luminol we do not use it as a mater of course as it’s benefits are more appropriate to crime scenes than on long follow-ups during the hours of darkness. We, at the U.S. Army Combat Tracking School at Fort Huachuca, have mastered the ability to conduct tracking operations at night using other technology and TTP’s which allow us to move quickly over the ground to close the time and distance gap to make contact with the enemy.

The world class Combat Tracking (CT) courses held at Fort H. are unique, innovate and totally unlike tracking courses conducted elsewhere. The training emphasizes the fact that CT can be effectively utilized across the entire spectrum of warfare be it counter-insurgency or conventional. We teach that CT can be used tactically, operationally and strategically; it can be used offensively or defensively. It can be used overtly or covertly; actively or passively and by day or night as well as being used for force protection, route clearance, IED indicator recognition and counter surveillance. Back-tracking training and field exercises are part of the Fort H. classes. Additionally, trained trackers can add a whole new layer of information gathering (now called VISINT) to the S2 collection tool box.

To answer your specific questions:

1. Back-tracking fits into the Passive Tracking category and is used mainly for intelligence gathering purposes in terms of establishing and recording enemy routes, bases camps, contact men, supply point, safe houses, feeding areas, habits, routines, arms caches, border crossing points and other information of value to the G3/S2 folks

As is quoted in Army FM 17-98 (The Scout Platoon) “Tracking is one of the most important sources of actionable intelligence, information about the enemy that can be put to use immediately.” A recent event clearly proved the value of this type of tracking.

2. On the tactical side, we have developed effective TTP’s enabling the CT Team to counter just about most tactical situations they could be confronted with on a follow-up including tracker specific shooting techniques and skills. Students at our Fort Huachuca classes are also trained to utilize other methods to ascertain the direction of travel of threat units so as to use other techniques to move forward, interdict and take the appropriate action against them.

When I say unique and innovative” training, I mean that we train our students in other modules such as Urban Tracking; Night Tracking; Mobile Tracking; Forensic Tracking; Tracking and Surveillance; Tracking Reports; Footprint Data Collection, Sensitive Site Exploitation and other classified subjects.

The U.S. Army Combat Tracking School Instructors are highly trained and experienced in all aspects of combat tracking operations and collective experience and knowledge covers every continent on Earth. Most are from Army and USMC spec-ops backgrounds with recent (and current) experience in all AO’s including Timor and Africa. TTOS, the provider of the instructor cadre for the Fort H. programs has a policy of expanding tracking knowledge and experience world-wide, sends its staff overseas to other tracking schools and 6 lead instructors recently went to Israel, a country which uses trackers extensively. They also have an exchange program with the British Army Jungle Warfare Wing in Brunei and the Commanding Officer, Exec Officer and number of senior instructors have attended the Fort Huachuca class. Other overseas instructor exchanges are scheduled for 2009.

For more information about the FREE Fort Huachuca classes and bookings visit the University of Military Intelligence Website at:

http://www.universityofmilitaryintelligence.us/functional_courses/ctc/default.asp

There is an Underscore between 'functional' and'courses', if you cannot see in against the blue underline.

Click onto Functional Courses and then on to Combat Tracking.

“Combat Tracking – the Eyes of the Army”

selil
11-07-2008, 03:25 AM
I was curious about cross tracking and back tracking as I use it as a method to follow deer back to their beds, and interdict cervids on the way to the forest edge. I've found most people don't know wood craft worth a darn but it nice to see that some of those skills might still exist.

Eden
11-07-2008, 02:00 PM
I had heard of your school and visited your website. I was wondering how well (or badly) the US Army was taking advantage of the training there. Specifically, is this a course that is being used by particular units or particular branches? Are units headed for the big sandbox taking advantage of it? I am an ex-cavalryman who tried to get some tracking skills included in our scout training at Fort Knox; currently I design exercise scenarios for a DOD school and would love to insert some combat tracking incidents - but want to make sure I am reflecting current practice on the ground.

SelousScoutsTracker
11-07-2008, 07:02 PM
For Eden,

Our free classes at Fort Huachuca are open to all branches of the service even though we are at the home of Military Intelligence, which, incidentally. is the most suitable veneu due to its terrain similarity and altitude range to the current AO's. We conduct a two week (Standard) course at the 80,000 acre Fort and typically the student base is right across the military spectrum although the Marines tend to hog most slots! However, we also conduct both CONUS and OCONUS MTT's where the whole class is usually from a specific unit. We have trained Cav units but obviously I cannot be more specific on this forum.

One of our instructors has spent time at JRTC and would be the person to talk to if you wish to pursue tracking scenarios as part of your training development. My personal email is mantrack@aol.com if you wish to pursue this matter further.

SelousScoutsTracker
11-07-2008, 07:11 PM
For jcustis.

The Combat Tracking classes at Fort Huachuca are free for any serving member of the US military, approved allied nations, or DoD/Federal employees. If you still want to attend a two week class there, please contact me at mantrack@aol.com.

SelousScoutsTracker
11-07-2008, 07:29 PM
For William F. Owen.

As you no doubt realize, I am new to this blog and am spending some time to introduce the Fort Huachuca Combat Tracking class to blogees so they become aware of what we can offer in the way of courses at the Fort. Although we are hosted at an MI facility, our free classes are open to all serving military personnel to include approved allied nations, DoD and Federal LE personnel.

Due to budgeting constraints we have had very little publicity except by word of mouth but our training schedule (72 classes per year at the last count) is extensive and classes are always full to overflowing. However, despite lack of publicity, steps are underway to have our tracking courses at the Fort put onto the ATARs Schedule. Let me have any questions about the courses we offer or any specific tracking related matters and within the bounds of security, I'll be happy to provide the answers.

William F. Owen
11-08-2008, 04:00 PM
Let me have any questions about the courses we offer or any specific tracking related matters and within the bounds of security, I'll be happy to provide the answers.

Many thanks.

I might add, I do understand the tactical value of ground sign exploitation. My concern is, that like sniping, the human issues out weight the technical issues.

What should be a teachable, and achievable skill, becomes mired in "voodoo skill BS." - like some sniping. If it's something that only >5% of soldiers are good at, then I suggest recruiting indigenous trackers (as the IDF do and the UK used to) might suffice.

JT Clark
11-13-2008, 06:36 PM
William,

I completed the UMI 2 week course at Ft. Huachuca recently and can honestly say that by the end of that 2 weeks, a bunch of UAV drivers that usually operate from dark little rooms were able to get their boots dirty and competently track a lone target over 13 miles of dry, sparse veg in tactical formation.

Tracking is something that anyone with a brain and a mindset of dedication can learn. It's time for the military to drop the "voodoo BS" mindset and teach at least a basic level of tracking to all recruits- following a target is a rudimentary skill. I'd argue that so is stalking combined with a high level of marksmanship. The resulting level of awareness with respect to IEDs, mines and other traps is another huge benefit that results from even a small amount of tracking time. If nothing else, tracking knowledge results in increased survivability as operators quickly realise how much of their own spoor they are leaving behind and make changes to their behaviour.

Tracking has proved decisive in COIN ops from the days of Geronimo, Rogers' Rangers, the Rhodesian Selous Scouts and too many other theatres to recount. Likewise its value to the current issue of following-up and gathering the forensic evidence needed to prosecute/document in both military and LE scenarios is indisputable.

If the current AOs have provided any lessons, I'd say one of them is that it is time we all got back to basics.

William F. Owen
11-14-2008, 07:55 AM
William,

I completed the UMI 2 week course at Ft. Huachuca recently and can honestly say that by the end of that 2 weeks, a bunch of UAV drivers that usually operate from dark little rooms were able to get their boots dirty and competently track a lone target over 13 miles of dry, sparse veg in tactical formation.

Tracking is something that anyone with a brain and a mindset of dedication can learn. It's time for the military to drop the "voodoo BS" mindset and teach at least a basic level of tracking to all recruits- following a target is a rudimentary skill. I'd argue that so is stalking combined with a high level of marksmanship.

I concur 100%. I actually recommended an abstracted form of "Sniper and Recce training" as part of the Patrol Based Infantry Concept, when I spoke at the RUSI. A week later at the Infantry School at Brecon, I was surrounded by SNCOs from the Sniper Wing "deeply upset" at my suggestion. They saw Sniping as a skill to be exclusive and protected rather than proliferated.

I actually learnt some tracking in Israel and then from a civilian instructor in the UK, back in the 1980s. Seemed simple and effective. If it is kept simple and effective, and widely taught, I am all for it. If you end up with "tracker" platoons who all think they are, Hiawatha then something has gone badly wrong.

jcustis
11-14-2008, 10:24 AM
A week later at the Infantry School at Brecon, I was surrounded by SNCOs from the Sniper Wing "deeply upset" at my suggestion. They saw Sniping as a skill to be exclusive and protected rather than proliferated.

Did you tell them, succintly, to go stuff it?

JT Clark
11-14-2008, 01:19 PM
I agree William- it's a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

How many operators out there perpetuate the voodoo myth regarding their skill-sets; yet complain bitterly when no-one in command understands them or how to deploy them?

William F. Owen
11-14-2008, 03:30 PM
Did you tell them, succintly, to go stuff it?

At the time, I actually tried to get to the bottom of what their complaint really was. I never got a straight answer, but I subsequently reasoned that Snipers think only "qualified Snipers" are "qualified" to comment on "sniping." I wish I was joking but that really seems to have been it.



How many operators out there perpetuate the voodoo myth regarding their skill-sets; yet complain bitterly when no-one in command understands them or how to deploy them?
Concur. It is also particularly annoying when they can't articulate the wider context in which their skills may be relevant.

I am impressed with the idea of using trackers to find mines and IEDs. Similar when I was looking at tracking we discussed (and the LRRP School taught) tracking Soviet Armour.

Ken White
11-14-2008, 04:12 PM
if you pull away the veil, remove the legend, don't drink Kool Aid, etc. that our mystique will be ruined? Totally ruined!!! :D

Rifleman
11-14-2008, 06:38 PM
Well, you do know you have to be "at one with the spirit of the track," don't you? :rolleyes: ;)

JT Clark
11-15-2008, 10:33 AM
I am impressed with the idea of using trackers to find mines and IEDs.

A disturbance in the natural equilibrium of the environment (not The Force :rolleyes:) is what you are always looking for when tracking. Trackers are therefore useful in pre-blast ID of IEDs as they are likely to spot anything out of place. The issue is being able to do that without someone on a hill-top triggering the thing while its being investigated.

Post-blast however they are invaluable in finding and rolling up the guys that did it.

The Israelis have without question the most advanced tracking capacity and deployment today, with many of their roadsides in key areas being graded daily. Their tracking teams can then patrol from vehicles with custom lighting systems so that they can spot any activity in that area quickly. It works and it's cost effective.

The key aspect of the Rhodesian method taught by TTOS at Ft. Huachuca is the speed with which it can be used to close the time/distance gap. Two teams working in tandem can achieve some mind-boggling results. Bring into this access to helos, vehicles and UAV support and things get really interesting.

I'm completing a university paper on the case for tracking team expansion at present and will post it on the Journal as soon as it's been edited of anything sensitive.

"Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as silent witness against him. Not only his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothing, the glass he breaks, the paint he scratches, the blood or semen he deposits or collects. All of these and more bear mute witness against him. This is evidence that does not forget. It is not confused by the excitement of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses are, it is factual evidence, physical evidence cannot be wrong, it cannot perjure itself; it cannot be wholly absent, only its interpretation can err. Only human failure to find it, study and understand it, can diminish its value."
Paul L. Kirk, 1974

120mm
11-15-2008, 02:38 PM
At the time, I actually tried to get to the bottom of what their complaint really was. I never got a straight answer, but I subsequently reasoned that Snipers think only "qualified Snipers" are "qualified" to comment on "sniping." I wish I was joking but that really seems to have been it.

I have spoke to a plethora of SF guys who are absolutely convinced that we should not listen to John Nagle or David Petraeus, because only SF is capable of understanding/employing COIN. And these are guys with gold and black oak leaves on their collars.

The same belief is apparently rife in the CA community, as well, as I've bumped into the same viewpoint vis-a-vis C-M relations.

selil
11-15-2008, 02:41 PM
"Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as silent witness against him. Not only his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothing, the glass he breaks, the paint he scratches, the blood or semen he deposits or collects. All of these and more bear mute witness against him. This is evidence that does not forget. It is not confused by the excitement of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses are, it is factual evidence, physical evidence cannot be wrong, it cannot perjure itself; it cannot be wholly absent, only its interpretation can err. Only human failure to find it, study and understand it, can diminish its value."
Paul L. Kirk, 1974

That is actually Locard's exchange principle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locard's_exchange_principle). Edmond Locard (1877-1966) created the first forensic laboratory.

Ken White
11-15-2008, 04:01 PM
I have spoke to a plethora of SF guys who are absolutely convinced that we should not listen to John Nagle or David Petraeus, because only SF is capable of understanding/employing COIN. And these are guys with gold and black oak leaves on their collars.

The same belief is apparently rife in the CA community, as well, as I've bumped into the same viewpoint vis-a-vis C-M relations.is on the size of the effort / numbers of people involved and concomitant tendency to use the "if you're a hammer, everything is a nail" approach. The Nagl / Petraeus methodology is the "Big Army" application. While that can certainly be made to work, on balance the track record is not good, not at all -- and it is very costly in terms of casualties, effort and money.

It also is becoming more and more politically unacceptable -- and that statement merits some thought...

The use of the small SF (and CA; they've done some good stuff, particularly in Central America) footprint, OTOH has essentially been quite good. It is effective, efficient and relatively cheap in terms of all types of costs. It is also politically acceptable because it's under the ignorant media radar screen.

I am very much in agreement with SF on this one; I don't question that the Army and Marines need to know how to do FID and COIN and that they must be prepared at all times to do that -- it just should be a course of last resort and not the preferred method.

I strongly question the current approach, the size of the footprint and, far more importantly, how efficient and effective the big battalion effort is. We are not doing ourselves any favors.

Uboat509
11-15-2008, 06:35 PM
I have spoke to a plethora of SF guys who are absolutely convinced that we should not listen to John Nagle or David Petraeus, because only SF is capable of understanding/employing COIN. And these are guys with gold and black oak leaves on their collars.

The same belief is apparently rife in the CA community, as well, as I've bumped into the same viewpoint vis-a-vis C-M relations.

Try looking at it from the other perspective. For many years now COIN has been more or less the exclusive purview of the Special Forces. Big Army wanted nothing at all to do with it, whatsoever. They were perfectly happy to let the "Snake Eaters" do all that stuff because it freed them up to continue preparing for the thirty Russian Guards Tank divisions to come rolling out of the Fulda Gap. The whole concept of through with and by indigenous forces was anathema to them. Whereas, that is SF's bread and butter. That is the reason for SF's existence, going all the way back to when guys like Ken were training the Maquis, through the SF advisers in Vietnam (Ken again) to modern day FID/UW/COIN. Now, suddenly after a few short years, Big Army now has all the answers for a problem they couldn't be bothered to look at before 2002.

SFC W

Ken White
11-15-2008, 07:21 PM
There's a degree of 'we told you so' involved, no question but even more important is the fact that the big Army approach has never worked without great cost and much time; the small footprint of people who ingrain themselves, OTOH generally work well and the costs are not excessive -- and that type effort doesn't get the overly excitable (of whom this nation has too many...) perturbed.

There's always a rice bowl or too in the picture but in this case, there's practical evidence that the large effort is costly and prone to not succeed while the smaller, tailored one is less expensive and usually does succeed. Those SF Officers who reject Nagl and Petraeus have history on their side.

An analogy is Socialism. Some say the only reason pure socialism has never worked is because the right people have not been in charge. Color me dubious. The big Army approach to FID and COIN almost posits the same thing; "It'll work well and cheaply -- we just haven't done it right." I'm not dubious, I flat don't believe it.

With the caveat that I know it can be made to work -- but at what cost?.

120mm
11-15-2008, 10:22 PM
is on the size of the effort / numbers of people involved and concomitant tendency to use the "if you're a hammer, everything is a nail" approach. The Nagl / Petraeus methodology is the "Big Army" application. While that can certainly be made to work, on balance the track record is not good, not at all -- and it is very costly in terms of casualties, effort and money.

Agreed.


The use of the small SF (and CA; they've done some good stuff, particularly in Central America) footprint, OTOH has essentially been quite good. It is effective, efficient and relatively cheap in terms of all types of costs. It is also politically acceptable because it's under the ignorant media radar screen.

IMO, the way to counter the "Metz Effect" is to do this exact thing. Small, successful efforts are hardly ever news-worthy.


I am very much in agreement with SF on this one; I don't question that the Army and Marines need to know how to do FID and COIN and that they must be prepared at all times to do that -- it just should be a course of last resort and not the preferred method.

I strongly question the current approach, the size of the footprint and, far more importantly, how efficient and effective the big battalion effort is. We are not doing ourselves any favors.

I don't see much wrong with improving how "Big Army" does COIN, especially since there is not a particularly effective way to do otherwise, now that we're already there. Not only do I disagree with using big battalions for COIN, I oppose using the military as the lead agency.


Try looking at it from the other perspective. For many years now COIN has been more or less the exclusive purview of the Special Forces. Big Army wanted nothing at all to do with it, whatsoever. They were perfectly happy to let the "Snake Eaters" do all that stuff because it freed them up to continue preparing for the thirty Russian Guards Tank divisions to come rolling out of the Fulda Gap. The whole concept of through with and by indigenous forces was anathema to them. Whereas, that is SF's bread and butter. That is the reason for SF's existence, going all the way back to when guys like Ken were training the Maquis, through the SF advisers in Vietnam (Ken again) to modern day FID/UW/COIN. Now, suddenly after a few short years, Big Army now has all the answers for a problem they couldn't be bothered to look at before 2002.

SFC W

I think some research into the history of "Who shot John" would be useful in what role Big Army and Big SF played in selling COIN army-wide. Especially in the writing of FM 3-24, as I've already seen several competing versions on how that worked. One thing that is useful to point out, I think, is that all this "SF's long history of working FID/UW/COIN" is actually not that long of a history at all.


There's a degree of 'we told you so' involved, no question but even more important is the fact that the big Army approach has never worked without great cost and much time; the small footprint of people who ingrain themselves, OTOH generally work well and the costs are not excessive -- and that type effort doesn't get the overly excitable (of whom this nation has too many...) perturbed.

There's always a rice bowl or too in the picture but in this case, there's practical evidence that the large effort is costly and prone to not succeed while the smaller, tailored one is less expensive and usually does succeed. Those SF Officers who reject Nagl and Petraeus have history on their side.

An analogy is Socialism. Some say the only reason pure socialism has never worked is because the right people have not been in charge. Color me dubious. The big Army approach to FID and COIN almost posits the same thing; "It'll work well and cheaply -- we just haven't done it right." I'm not dubious, I flat don't believe it.

With the caveat that I know it can be made to work -- but at what cost?.

My dad taught me that you always use the right sized wrench to hammer with....

Ken White
11-15-2008, 11:24 PM
One thing that is useful to point out, I think, is that all this "SF's long history of working FID/UW/COIN" is actually not that long of a history at all.
is a smart gal points out frequently that to those under forty, "...ten years is a long time..." :D *

* Aside from which, having been there almost at the start of that working, I am not even coming on the 'many years' and 'history' bit. That's almost as bad as going into a Cracker Barrel to eat and seeing the wall hung with 'antique' tools you've used... :eek:

Cavguy
11-16-2008, 04:28 AM
Try looking at it from the other perspective. For many years now COIN has been more or less the exclusive purview of the Special Forces. Big Army wanted nothing at all to do with it, whatsoever. They were perfectly happy to let the "Snake Eaters" do all that stuff because it freed them up to continue preparing for the thirty Russian Guards Tank divisions to come rolling out of the Fulda Gap. The whole concept of through with and by indigenous forces was anathema to them. Whereas, that is SF's bread and butter. That is the reason for SF's existence, going all the way back to when guys like Ken were training the Maquis, through the SF advisers in Vietnam (Ken again) to modern day FID/UW/COIN. Now, suddenly after a few short years, Big Army now has all the answers for a problem they couldn't be bothered to look at before 2002.

SFC W

Simple question,

When the Army did wise up, why didn't the SF provide the expertise to the Ft. Riley mission, FM 3-24 team, etc? Why did they voluntarily opt out of these? Your argument about us 'Johnnie come lately's' to COIN would hold more water if SWC had offered to help the GPF get better, from most all sources I have talked to the response was "Talk to the hand, we're busy". Even today, there is little interest from JFK SWC in getting involved with big army COIN efforts. SOCOM, on the other hand, is making an excellent effort to reach out to the GPF.

Uboat509
11-16-2008, 08:39 PM
Simple question,

When the Army did wise up, why didn't the SF provide the expertise to the Ft. Riley mission, FM 3-24 team, etc? Why did they voluntarily opt out of these? Your argument about us 'Johnnie come lately's' to COIN would hold more water if SWC had offered to help the GPF get better, from most all sources I have talked to the response was "Talk to the hand, we're busy". Even today, there is little interest from JFK SWC in getting involved with big army COIN efforts. SOCOM, on the other hand, is making an excellent effort to reach out to the GPF.

I'm not at SWCS, at least not as cadre, so I don't have an answer but it is a fair question so I have been doing so enquiries over at PS.com. There are a lot people over there that have a lot more visibility on this issue than I do. I got this reply this morning so far.


While it may appear so to this individual, and I don't know at what level of the organization he is in, I doubt much of his argument is accurate. A couple of observations from my perspective:

SWCS as the SF proponent is probably the likely source of assistance not USASFC.

CSM Dave Bruener has been the CAC and Fort Riley CSM for a couple of years now. He was selected and appointed by then MG Patreus. Dave's previous assignment had been the USAJFKSWCS CSM for MG Parker. I'm sure the contacts there were sufficient to get all the help needed IF MG Patreus felt necessary.

While the SF Branch SGM in 2006, I assigned a couple of 18Zs to CAC positions; not sure how they have been utilized, but the asset has been there for a few years now.

just my 2 cents....

mp

SFC W

JT Clark
11-19-2008, 05:12 PM
this is the thread on combat tracking history right?

Steve Blair
11-19-2008, 05:22 PM
This is a combination thread. Quite often discussions of history shift into current events based on that history. I'd suggest you review the whole thread if you're confused or seeking more information.

TTOSTracker
11-25-2008, 07:35 AM
Does anyone have a copy of the ATOM (Anti-Terrorism Operations In Malaya) Manual ??

This was the FM Manual used at the British Jungle Warfare School in the 50's

I understand there is a chapter on Jungle Tracking Operations

William F. Owen
11-25-2008, 11:08 AM
Does anyone have a copy of the ATOM (Anti-Terrorism Operations In Malaya) Manual ??

This was the FM Manual used at the British Jungle Warfare School in the 50's

I understand there is a chapter on Jungle Tracking Operations

I have a complete copy if Infantry Training Volume IV (Australia) Tactics, Tropical Warfare, 1956. - which is basically the Australian Armies Capstone manual on Jungle Warfare. It makes no mention of trackers in the notes headings.

Be aware that the British Army (like the Israelis) have traditionally employed local or indigenous trackers. The current trend for training own forces trackers, only began in the 1990's.

TTOSTracker
11-25-2008, 07:39 PM
Here is the source for my Inquiry
The Article referenced - British Operations in Malaya and Borneo, 1948-1966
Part I. The Malayan Emergency

From Pg3
"The JWS provided the doctrinal basis and training for the
tactical operations by army forces against the guerrillas. Established in 1948
at the Far East Training Center in Johore Bahru, the school was organized
by Lieutenant Colonel Walter Walker, a three-year veteran of the Burma
campaign in World War II. Basically, the school ran a six-week course for
unit cadres and a six-week course, primarily cadre taught, for unit main bodies. Training included instruction and exercises in land navigation, marksmanship, quick fire, patrolling, jungle tactics, ambushes, tracking, and the use of jungle resources. Graduation exercises were live patrols in areas where guerrillas were known to be operating."

From Pg11
"Jungle Tactics Against the Malayan Insurgents
The central, omnipresent task of the British light infantry in Malaya was
to go into the jungle, find the enemy, and kill him by surprise as often and
as quickly as possible. This task, coupled with the nature of the enemy and
the environment, led directly to the adoption of the principles described earlier- decentralization, offensiveness, extended operations, relentless military pressure, and the granting of wide latitude to junior leaders and commanders. In implementing these principles, however, the infantry did not wait for the CTs to act; they doggedly and expertly hunted them down in their jungle hideouts and ambushed them at trails and contact points.
The specific tactics employed by the infantry are described in lucid detail
in a pamphlet entitled The Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya.
Produced by the Jungle Warfare School and widely known as the "Atom
manual" (see bibliography and appendix A for further information), this pamphlet functioned as a tactical bible. Three editions were published from 1952 to 1957; each incorporated lessons learned through actual combat experiences. "

From Pg12
"For soldiers to detect the passage or presence of the guerrillas required
finely tuned powers of observation. All troops received training in stalking
techniques and in spotting significant jungle signs, such as overturned leaves, bent twigs, bruised blades of grass, or pieces of bark cut by passing humans. The examples set by aborigine trackers aided the development of such skills among the rank and file soldiers, who, in emulation, sometimes became as adept as the trackers themselves. "

JT Clark
12-05-2008, 10:36 PM
For William-

I was under the impression the Brits were still quite heavy on training their own tracking operators at their Brunei Jungle Warfare Centre and also in Belize. Is this not the case?

William F. Owen
12-06-2008, 07:10 AM
For William-

I was under the impression the Brits were still quite heavy on training their own tracking operators at their Brunei Jungle Warfare Centre and also in Belize. Is this not the case?

They sure are. The whole tracking thing became big in the 1990's, and is still big now. Tracking skills were prevalent in the SAS of the 1960's and 70's.

...but historically, the vast majority of trackers used by UK forces have been indig. That some UK soldiers became proficient trackers is almost certainly true.

cbttracker
07-02-2009, 02:16 PM
Sir,
Combat trackng teams have been trained, and are operating in both Iraq, and Afghanistan, I've conducted their training personally, and been involved with numerous tracking follow ups in the last 2 years. Without getting into classified details, very recently a US SOF team was in a ambush in a very volitile frontier region. The following day the team returned, conducted a quick site survey, found a start point, and commenced a CTT follow up. The sign/spoor followed consisted of spent shell cases, foot prints, trash, cut tree brances (used for camouflage), and medical waste. The team literally tracked right into the Taliban base camps perimeter, and were in a ground TIC (Troops In Contact) almost immediatly. The enemy tried to encircle the team, but the team had, and held the high ground advantage. An air TIC was called, and A-10s arrived on station and did their CAS magic. Because of the fast approaching darkness, the team made a tactical withdrawl, and RTB (retuned to base). The following day, they returned and conducted a SSE (sensitve site survey), and found destroyed shelters, multiple blood trails, and abandoned equipment. In a near by Afghan villiage a mass burial was conducted, enemy KIA was estimated at 35 to 45.

jcustis
07-06-2009, 01:14 AM
Sir,
Combat trackng teams have been trained, and are operating in both Iraq, and Afghanistan, I've conducted their training personally, and been involved with numerous tracking follow ups in the last 2 years. Without getting into classified details, very recently a US SOF team was in a ambush in a very volitile frontier region. The following day the team returned, conducted a quick site survey, found a start point, and commenced a CTT follow up. The sign/spoor followed consisted of spent shell cases, foot prints, trash, cut tree brances (used for camouflage), and medical waste. The team literally tracked right into the Taliban base camps perimeter, and were in a ground TIC (Troops In Contact) almost immediatly. The enemy tried to encircle the team, but the team had, and held the high ground advantage. An air TIC was called, and A-10s arrived on station and did their CAS magic. Because of the fast approaching darkness, the team made a tactical withdrawl, and RTB (retuned to base). The following day, they returned and conducted a SSE (sensitve site survey), and found destroyed shelters, multiple blood trails, and abandoned equipment. In a near by Afghan villiage a mass burial was conducted, enemy KIA was estimated at 35 to 45.

Considering how easy it is to do it, we don't do a good job at setting tracking follow-ups into our post-blast SOP for IEDs, or other types of contact for that matter.

I think that is partly because we are training the wrong audience with the Combat Hunter program.

Watcher In The Middle
07-06-2009, 03:28 AM
Michael Yon. He participated as a writer and attended the British tracking school on Borneo Island. There is a whole series of emails at the link.

Combat Tracking Training (http://www.michaelyon-online.com/tracking-afghanistan.htm)

Absolutely fascinating reading.

Background on Michael Yon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Yon)

cbttracker
07-06-2009, 01:48 PM
Sir,
Even with the proven tactical benefits of utilizing combat trackers, it's hard to get a commanders approval to dismount, and pursue the enemy. The military, and the public to whom they ultimately answer, are afraid of high casualty counts. They mistakenly believe mounted patrol with MRAPs is the silver bullit. In reality, because of mobility issues, they become road bound, and easier targets. I don't even want to address, leaving body armor and helmets behind to lighten the load, and increase speed and mobility, and reduce water requirements, somebody might have a stroke. Or worse, the ACU uniform which is absolutely abysmal, seems effective only on the crushed rock floor of the FOBs.. Many an operator has dug deep into their pockets to purchase Multicam uniforms, or got back in BDUs to enhance their own survivability. When I attended tracking school over 20 years ago in Malaysia, we stayed in the field, live out of our rucksacks, and slept on the tracks. I can't imagine that happenlng here, although I belive that's how we will deny the enemy of his mountain santuaries, and focus our combat power more effectively. That said, there are some enlightend commanders, who understand the concept of combat tracking teams, to include an IED defeat organization. Consequently, I have stayed busy.

Jedburgh
11-01-2009, 01:40 PM
This one became available on the open 'net remarkably fast. Now that its readily available to the world (and the threat), I may as well link it here:

TC 31-34-4 Special Forces Tracking and Countertracking (http://cryptome.org/dodi/tc-31-34-4.zip), 30 Sep 09

...Tracking, countertracking, and dog-tracker team operations are basic and fundamental to every SF operation whether offensive or defensive in nature. This TC describes and illustrates how to track, how to avoid being tracked, and the theory behind the use of dog-tracker teams. Appendixes A and B provide SF Soldiers with sample tracking logs for their use. This TC does not describe specific electronic-tracking techniques, such as transistor-transistor logic, cell phone triangulation, or other sophisticated electronic-tracking tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), but it does introduce current doctrine that addresses those topics. This TC provides the basis for common SF tactical application primarily in a rural environment and it briefly discusses urban tracking using dog teams....

TYR
01-24-2010, 02:13 AM
The manual is absolutely terrible. SWC had contracted someone to produce this last year and they really didn’t get their money’s worth. I got to see it prior to it being released and I commented to the warrant that it was really bad.
Cbttracker- If you’re who I think you are you taught my class in 2002 at Ft. Lewis. Good to hear the “boys” are using the skill. I hear you have been doing quite well over there. Maybe you can get SWC to develop a better product than the current TC 31-34-4. If you haven’t seen it yet, it will make you giggle. Field Craft is a dying art.

davidbfpo
04-24-2010, 04:58 PM
Hat tip to JMA taking me to a Rhodesian Air Force website and after scrolling through a year's entries, I found this one on an ex-Rhodesian veteran tracker David Scott-Donelan and a link to his - new - website:http://www.trackingoperations.com/ and his short bio is under 'David Scott-Donelan’s Biography'.

David Scott-Donelan is a SWC member, but only active in 2008 when this thread was going; although he may visit without signing in.

JMA
04-27-2010, 12:20 PM
Hat tip to JMA taking me to a Rhodesian Air Force website and after scrolling through a year's entries, I found this one on an ex-Rhodesian veteran tracker David Scott-Donelan and a link to his - new - website:http://www.trackingoperations.com/ and his short bio is under 'David Scott-Donelan’s Biography'.

David Scott-Donelan is a SWC member, but only active in 2008 when this thread was going; although he may visit without signing in.

Dave Scott-Donelan was also the Tarining Officer at the Selous Scouts and when at the height of the war circumstances demanded it and national servicemen were selected and trained as direct entry into the Scots he came up wit some pretty innovative basic training. Admittedly this training would have been tailored to serving in that one unit, in that war at that time. Try to sound him out on it. You will find it interesting for sure.

TYR
04-28-2010, 01:07 PM
Hey guys,
I know there are alot of people out there who think David Scott is some wiz bang tracker but be careful. Yes he has an impressive biography that he has put on his website, but the man is not what you think he is. Just be careful before you put him on a pedestal, you might be very surprised what you might find if you talk to some of those that have worked around him. On the positive side he did bring attention to the use of tracking with in the military.

Gypo
04-29-2010, 06:37 PM
Hey guys,
I know there are alot of people out there who think David Scott is some wiz bang tracker but be careful. Yes he has an impressive biography that he has put on his website, but the man is not what you think he is. Just be careful before you put him on a pedestal, you might be very surprised what you might find if you talk to some of those that have worked around him. On the positive side he did bring attention to the use of tracking with in the military.
TYR, Is there any chance that you can expand on the above comment.

Rifleman
04-29-2010, 11:08 PM
.....but the man is not what you think he is.

Yes, please expand on that comment.

Are you doubting his credentials and ability? Is there perhaps an issue with his personality or professionalism?

What's the problem?

TYR
05-01-2010, 11:33 PM
I used to work for him and was let down by him both personally and professionally. I would never question his military service. I would question why he is no longer associated with the company he started over 15 years ago, and why he had to open up another tracking school.

40below
07-14-2010, 08:22 AM
Now Mantracker is working with the military on counter-IEDs.

Canadian Cowboy Earns Army Spurs

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A cowboy has been teaching soldiers how to look for IEDs hidden in the ground when deployed in Afghanistan.

Professional tracker Terry Grant (52) has been recruited by the British Army to pass on his unique ground sign awareness skills to the soldiers of 7th Armoured Brigade while on Exercise Prairie Thunder 1 in BATUS.

Terry, who is famed for his hit US reality TV show Mantracker in which he tracks contestants over vast swathes of the Canadian wilderness, is training the soldiers to help prepare them for their deployment to Afghanistan next year. When an IED is laid, the ground is disturbed either by physically digging the device in or by the insurgents leaving tracks as they move around. Ground sign awareness is about recognising these clues and therefore identifying a potential IED location and reducing the risk.

Terry’s show Mantracker sees two contenders take off into the bush with a map, a compass and a head start. They have 36 hours to reach a finish line some 40km away without getting caught – how they escape is up to them. Terry is on horseback, without any navigational aids and doesn’t know their exact start point or finish line. His job is to track them searching the ground for clues before they reach the finish.

http://www.modoracle.com/news/Canadian-Cowboy-Earns-Army-Spurs_20942.html

TYR
08-04-2010, 06:42 PM
Thought this was interesting that the British Military would hire a TV personality when they already provide tracking instruction in Borneo.

The British military has hired the star of a Canadian reality-TV show to teach its soldiers tracking techniques that they can use to spot signs of improvised explosive devices when they deploy to Afghanistan.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/british-army-enlists-reality-tv-star-to-help-soldiers-spot-ieds-in-afghanistan/article1660984/

felixdz
08-05-2010, 12:47 AM
I am sure that Terry Grant's training will have some value. But they would be better off looking at a more tactical approach to tracking Like former Rhodesian David Scott Donelan's TTOS: http://www.ttos.us/tracking/ttos/about_us.php

A good list of references.

http://www.ttos.us/tracking/bookstore/additional_reading.php

TYR
08-05-2010, 02:56 AM
David Scott is no longer with TTOS. He got in some trouble with the other owners and had to step down. He did start another school, however from what I hear he has been getting himself into trouble. I’m not a big David Scott fan myself. I used to work for the guy and I was thoroughly disappointed. I recently started writing Allan Savory the man who was the architect of the Rhodesian Combat Tracker Unit and he didn’t have a whole lot good to say about David either. Although the fact that he reintroduced Tactical Tracking here in the U.S. is a good thing don't get me wrong. Currently the Combat Tracker program taught by TTOS at Ft. Huachuca is being phased out and it may never be implemented to its full potential. It was on the wrong post to begin with and the program never really got the visibility from the combat arms folks like it deserved. After September the U.S Army will no longer have a Tracking program. The USMC still will have some Tracking with in the combat hunter program but IMO they also have thoroughly botched up that program as well. I think they meant well but with any program to many people got their hand in the cookie jar and screwed it up. Its funny the Army talks about "Every soldier is a sensor" and that they want to "Attack the Network" yet they haven't been able to train the ground guys who conduct dismounted patrols how to track or how the skill can be employed after an attack in pursuit of an elusive enemy. Instead they want to gather forensic evidence while the insurgents are getting away or attempt to use some gadget that costs alot of money to find or detect the enemy. Maybe I'm old fashion but I still believe that the human mind is the best computer employed by our soldiers and not some gadget. What ever happened to basic “Field Craft”.

Ken White
08-05-2010, 03:42 AM
..It was on the wrong post to begin with and the program never really got the visibility from the combat arms folks like it deserved. ... Its funny the Army talks about "Every soldier is a sensor" and that they want to "Attack the Network" yet they haven't been able to train the ground guys who conduct dismounted patrols how to track or how the skill can be employed after an attack in pursuit of an elusive enemy. Instead they want to gather forensic evidence while the insurgents are getting away or attempt to use some gadget that costs alot of money to find or detect the enemy. Maybe I'm old fashion but I still believe that the human mind is the best computer employed by our soldiers and not some gadget. What ever happened to basic “Field Craft”.That first point sums it up and answers the question at the end. It got caught up in turf battles between Branches and Schools. That and ARFORGEN...

Tracking is not easy and a really super tracker must be one who has a flair for it but the basics are not difficult, can be learned and used by most and can save lives. However, once learned, those skills require practice and Army units spend too much time in garrison to provide adequate practice so the skills atrophy for many and units develop the opinion that the training is a not valuable consumer of time... *

To the turf battles, add the determination by too many that Joe is stupid and can only (or should only) be marginally trained. Untrue, we just don't really try to train him -- too hard on, too much work for, the so-called Trainers. * He's not stupid. Lot of his Bosses are...

Including those that designed a 'personnel system' that says recruit anyone who says they want in, regardless of suitability and that everyone other than first termers will be a trainer in a school or training center and a Recruiter for 'career management' purposes **... :rolleyes:


* Both those items are also due to a failure to properly fund essential training in the basics in order to fund other things -- not least to concentrate on big showy little or nothing gained efforts like the CTC rotations. :wry:

** Translation: Making life easy for the 'Personnel Managers.' Easier to fill holes if you don't have to pay attention to whether a person is suited for a job or not. :rolleyes:

TYR
08-05-2010, 02:53 PM
Without a doubt you are correct Ken. The skill is not easy but I have never had a student leave our course and not be able to track. Tracking at its very essence is hunting and the military is attempting to hunt an elusive enemy. I also noticed that it didn’t make a difference whether or not the student came from a rural or urban upbringing. Some will always make better trackers than others but all went away being able to track a man as an individual as well as part of a tracking team conducting a tracking operation. The soldiers and Marines who attended the course all had great things to say about our course and wished that they had received that training prior to going overseas. What has always baffled me is that the U.S. Army throughout its history had used this skill set in one form or another to pursue or gather information on the enemy. This skill doesn’t cost a lot to instruct nor maintain and most of all doesn’t require any fancy equipment. Instead of hunting a deer or an elk the soldier and marine is hunting probably the most dangerous prey...Man. However just like any other animal a man will set a pattern and the sign if interpreted and not just followed will indicate a lot about the enemy’s intention. I used to work with a guy that was a GS in my unit at JRTC, he had been a tracker in a Combat Tracker Platoon in Viet Nam, he also couldn’t understand why the army wasn’t picking up on that capability he always said it worked then and it would work today. When we look at history after Viet Nam, the Army attempted to make tracking not only a skill but a tactic that was part of an operation with the publishing of FM 7-42 Combat Tracker and Tracker Dog Training and Employment in 1973. Let’s face it what we are fighting today is nothing new, we’ve been there before. If the skill saves lives and is able to provide a vehicle for our guys on the ground to “Find, Fix and Finish” the enemy which enables us to “Attack the Network” shouldn’t we be training them to do just that?


FM 17 - 98. (The Scout Platoon) dated 23 Dec 1992 states:


Immediate-use intelligence is information concerning the enemy that can be put to use immediately to gain surprise, to keep the enemy off balance, or to keep him from escaping the area entirely. A tracker can obtain information that, when combined with information from other sources, indicates enemy plans. Tracking is one of the best sources of immediate-use intelligence!

FM 7-8 states that
There are three types of patrol: Combat, Reconnaissance and Tracking.

FM 3-24.2 – Tactics in Counterinsurgency, dated April 2009, states in paragraph 5-38, as it relates to Search and Attack:


Reconnaissance units must locate insurgent forces, tracks, or other indicators of direction or location. In rural and some border operations, well-trained trackers can identify and follow insurgent tracks that are hours or even days old. Units tracking the insurgent must be prepared to react to insurgent contact and avoid likely ambush situations.

TC 31-34-4 Special Forces Tracking and Countertracking, dated Sep 2009, The WORST Tracking Manual I have ever read. This document is going to get someone killed.

Again what ever happened to Field Craft? I apologize for the Rant. I just don’t get it!:mad:

huskerguy7
08-05-2010, 05:14 PM
A SWJ Facebook fan posted a comment with this link (http://www.ttos.us/tracking/bookstore/additional_reading.php). It lists different sources for learning about tracking. I thought that it may be of interest to readers of this thread.

Rifleman
08-06-2010, 04:37 AM
The 1984 edition of FM 21-75: Combat Skills of the Soldier has a chapter on tracking. It's definitly not a comprehensive treatise; and yet, although very basic, it's still a good introduction to the subject matter.

TYR, you probably knew that but I didn't see it listed among the other manuals in your post so I thought I'd mention it.

The last sentence in the chapter is a gem: When being tracked by an enemy tracker, the best bet is to try to out distance him or to double back and try to ambush him. Major Rogers would approve.

TYR
08-06-2010, 03:21 PM
Rifleman
You are correct. I had gathered this information going back to 1973. Although there are older manuals that discuss tracking, it is discussed under trailing. The purpose of listing page numbers was to show the degradation of information over time. Also to highlight that at one time the Military had a doctrinal program but just like any program that was developed during war time it slowly erodes during peace time. Unfortunately commanders do not understand this skill and are reluctant to send their soldiers through this training. Also who in today’s Army is really qualified to teach it?

FM 7-42. Combat Tracker and Tracker Dog Training and Employment-1973- 90 Pages covering combat tracking

FC 21-77. Dismounted Patrolling-1984- Tracking 10 Pages

FM 21-75. Combat Skills of the Soldier- 1984- 13 Pages covering tracking

FM 7-70. Light Infantry Platoon and Squad-1986- 3 types of Patrols: Combat, Reconnaissance, and Tracking, Tracking Patrols-9 pages

FM 7-8. The Infantry Platoon and Squad-1992- 3 Types of Patrols: Combat, Reconnaissance, Tracking. 6 1/2 pages.

FM 7-92. The Infantry Reconnaissance Platoon and Squad- 1992- Tracking -7 1/2 Pages

FM 17-98. Scout Platoon-1999- 3 Types of Patrolling Combat, Reconnaissance, Tracking (References FM 7-8)-3 Sentences

FM 3-90.98. Reconnaissance Platoon- 2002- 3 Types of patrols Combat, reconnaissance, and Tracking-6 pages

FM 3-05.222 Special Forces Sniper Training and Employment- 2003- Tracking and Counter Tracking- 19 Pages

FM 3-21.8. The Infantry Platoon and Squad-2007- 2 Types of patrols: Combat and Reconnaissance. 5 sentences under Reconnaissance describing tracking.

FM 3-22.10. Sniper Training and Employment- 2008- Tracking and Evasion-8 1/2 pages.

FM 3-55.93. Long Range Surveillance Unit Operations-2008- Tracking and Counter Tracking- 10 Pages

FM 3-24.2. Tactics in Counter Insurgency-2009- One paragraph

TC 31-34-4 Special Forces Tracking and Countertracking-2009- 48 Pages. I know that SWC probably meant well, however it is apparent that they never consulted a professional. Like I said earlier IMO this document if followed will get someone killed.

What I noticed as an instructor was that Soldiers and Marines do not possess the attention to detail those soldiers from other era’s possessed. I believe that is because of the way our culture both military and civilian has developed for the past 15- 20 years with the use of technology. IMO the military is more detached from their environment today than prior to 911. Our military is just not very good at basic patrolling anymore. Is tracking the answer to all our problems? No! But it is a tactic that has proven its worth not only in our military but around the globe as well, and along with other skill sets will provide great results.

Rifleman
08-07-2010, 12:32 AM
Also who in today’s Army is really qualified to teach it?


TYR,

Good point. Perhaps the best bet really is civilian instructors. A retired Border Patrol Agent is worth a lot in that regard. The Army did the same thing in the '80s with packing clinics; guides and outfitters in the Rockies instructed personel from 7th SFG(A) before deployments to Latin America.

By the way. Anyone looking for a good combat tracking manual? Go to TAL Dozer's Selous Scouts site, print all the Rhodesian combat tracking articles, and put them in a binder. Now you've got a good manual!

JMA
08-07-2010, 08:56 AM
TC 31-34-4 Special Forces Tracking and Countertracking-2009- 48 Pages. I know that SWC probably meant well, however it is apparent that they never consulted a professional. Like I said earlier IMO this document if followed will get someone killed.

Get someone killed? I have this manual and can't see on what you base this comment. Care to explain?

TYR
08-07-2010, 04:18 PM
Look I know how SWC came up with this publication. I have personally talked to some of them. The unfortunate part of this is that they never hired a subject matter expert to write the TC. The guys who wrote it had no knowledge of the skill itself. Tactical Tracking (I don’t like the term Combat Tracking. IMO Combat describes a fighting environment and Tactical describes a tactic that can be used in a multitude of environments for use in support of other military operations) is a dangerous business. A tracker is not just following spoor, he is hunting, at the other end of that spoor is not “bambie” but one or more men who are most likely armed have just committed an attack, may be operating in their own back yard; employ a network of supporters who may provide the quarry early warning or even sanctuary. Those things are not discussed in that manual. As I said the tracker is just not following footprints. The tracker is follows the spoor, evaluates the spoor and the environment to determine what the enemy did at that particular moment as well as where he is going and what he will do. The manual gives some information mostly incomplete information and does not discuss all the different indicators or how to track as a patrol or how to employ multiple patrols and leverage multiple assets to reach a certain objective as part of an operation. The Counter-tracking portion is the worst. I won’t go much in to detail on a public forum but what is discussed will only signpost your actions when attempting to evade a good tracker, or tracker team. The Circular doesn’t even discuss all the other techniques that could be employed. I believe that if you want to become proficient in countertracking you should first become a good tracker. By understanding the tracker you will better be able to counter him. Tracking is not something you learn by reading, it is something you learn by doing. One of the big problems is that when most people read something they think they can just get out there and do it. But in this line of work, if you don’t know what you’re doing and train properly you’re going to get someone killed. Our enemy may not be as educated or have all the technology, but by no means are they stupid. They are experts at survival in their environment. The only way to defeat an elusive enemy is to hunt them down relentlessly. Tracking is one way of accomplishing that.

Boris
08-07-2010, 07:36 PM
When I was a National Guard LRS PSG during our units MOB for deployment in 06'. I pushed hard to try and get at least some guys in the Company trained out at the Army Tracking school. It even stated the course was intended for LRS Units. Even if the Unit never was tasked with a tracking mission. The skill alone in counter track is so valuable to a LRS Team. The same is said for Sniper training. Even with no sniper mission, the skills need for that mission go hand in hand with avoiding detection on your mission. But like many things NCOs’ hope their chain of command would see the light, NO! Our unit was even tasked to do border interdiction missions. Still NO!

I've since left the Unit and the Army after doing my 20yrs. And still the only guys that have received tracker training are those that receive it as part Counter Drug training for the State. The big Army just doesn't get it. As already stated in this thread, everyone wants to put their stamp on things and mess what could have been a good school for the Army.

Even doing some of the things I do as a DOD security contactor overseas. Such skills can help in having a successful mission. In 07' I was looking hard at sending myself to receive tracker training. Since then I've lost touch as to who now is running the better schools. If someone would be help in pointing me in the right direction, any help would be great. Thanks for reading my ranting.

Rifleman
08-07-2010, 09:40 PM
If someone would be help in pointing me in the right direction, any help would be great.

Link: http://www.fletc.gov/state-and-local/tuition-free-training-programs/rpi-backcountry-tactics-and-tracking-training-program

It's for LEOs through FLETC and it's free. I don't know if DOD contractors qualify but maybe it's worth looking into.

I've been wanting to go for some time but my department won't send me. Although the course is free there's still the matter of travel expenses, leaving a hole in the shift coverage, and paying me while I'm gone. Oh well, maybe someday. :(

And I've heard good things about Joel Hardin from other cops.

Link: http://www.jhardin-inc.com/

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Hardin

I don't have any personal experience with Hardin, so my info is second hand. But his reputation is that of a straight forward and practical instructor. None of the Native American mysticism approach.

Boris
08-08-2010, 06:13 AM
Thanks Rifleman for the links. I at present live just up the road from FLETC, but don't think I would qualifiy for their free training. A few years back i was looking at TTOC, but have read in this thread that Mr. Scott is no longer with them. Don't know if that's a good thing or bad? Have read some things on SOTTI, but dont have enought view on them. I'm ging to start hitting up some of the former SF guys I work with to get some idea as to were they have been going.

Agian thank you and any help is great.

TYR
08-09-2010, 04:02 PM
Boris,

If you are interested in Tracking a great book on Tracking is "Practical Tracking" by Louis Liebenburg, Adriaan Louw and Mark Elbroch. It was published last year and can be found on Amazon. Probably the best book I've ever read on the subject of tracking. Although it won’t physically teach you how to track. Whenever you do find a course you want to go to, you will have more information on the subject. The authors are a mixture of wildlife conservationists and anthropologists, although it doesn't delve in the military and law enforcement realm it is an excellent book on tracking in general. You do have some other schools in your area to choose from in your area, I would definitely stay away from any school that can’t get you out of the “Spoor Pit" and the "Step by Step" method by the second day. To many beginner Trackers can’t get away from the "Step by Step" method to include Joel Harden. Most schools that site Jack Kearney's method of Tracking never really understood his tracking philosophy and can get away from the “Step by Step” method or the “Tracking Stick”. Jack Kearney never meant for students to use either so literally even for Search and Rescue. “Step by Step” and the stick is a great training tool but are slow. A tracker who uses solely that method will never catch up to there quarry.

Boris
08-11-2010, 09:54 AM
TYR,
thank you for pointing out the book. I've added it to my wish list for my next order. i have read your other post on this thread. I would like your opinion on a quality mantracking school, and or ones to avoid. any help pointing me in the right direction would be great. Thank you again for pointing out the book.

JMA
08-12-2010, 10:45 AM
I have taken a bit of time to respond to this thread as I needed to consider the role of combat tracking in modern warfare was I see it.

Back in the 70's I was involved in a number of follow-up operations using trackers during the Bush War in Rhodesia. As an officer I normally had a combat tracker team attached for the purpose of the follow-up. Some we tracked to contact on others the spoor was lost for a variety of reasons.

The skill level of trackers was critical in the success or failure of the follow-up.

The speed at which they could track against the speed at which the insurgents were fleeing at was the determinant in most cases. It became obvious fairly early in a follow-up whether we stood a chance of tracking to contact by the speed the trackers could maintain. Some of the speed issue could be put down to the skill or lack of in the tracking team or difficult ground or the use of anti-tracking by the insurgents (I think the US term for this is counter tracking).

Early on (in the late 60's) the limitation of trying to catch up on fleeing lightly equiped insurgents was a real problem regardless of the skills of the trackers. So the tactic of "leapfrogging" was tested and refined to speed up this process. Essentially this was the use of heliborne trackers being dropped ahead of the follow-up team on the line of flight to cross grain to try to pick up the spoor closer to the fleeing insurgents. See this part of the Rhodesian manual on Follow-up Operations (http://selousscouts.tripod.com/followup_operations.htm) for more detail.

Apart from the obvious requirement for combat tracking teams to be able to track competently it is operationally essential that they be able to assess the freshness of the spoor and the sign and indicate to the follow-up commander that contact is imminent. This is necessary to allow the follow-up commander to move his troops into the best position (according to the ground) for the contact.

It was irritating that having been on a follow-up for a few days the whole operation would end with a fleeting no casualties either side contact or the trackers dropping one or two and the rest taking off now at twice the speed and probably "bombshelling" (scattering) to move individually to a prearranged RV somewhere ahead on their line of march.

There was/is a tendency for trackers to become prima donnas somewhere up there with opera singers if you let them.

The role of trackers or the combat tracking team is to help maintain contact with the enemy, nothing more. While operating with a slick and proficient combat tracking team which tracks you to a successful contact is a very rewarding experience the roles, functions, duties and tasks should never be confused.

The first point is that once contact is made you essentially have two elements which probably have never trained together now engaged in a firefight with the enemy. There are (friendly fire) dangers here and trackers need to keep out of it after the initial exchange of fire to avoid such problems. In our war if you did not immediately assault/pursue/out flank contact would be quickly lost and the whole effort would have to start again.

I would let trackers argue about skills and methods and whatever they like but operationally all that matters is their ability to track to contact.

All that said if you want proficient trackers you need a permanent tracking unit. The skill of tracking needs to be exercised daily and the only way it can be is through housing your trackers in one tracking unit and then attaching combat tracking teams from this unit to formations and units in the field as the circumstances require.

Apart from the bushcraft and tracking skills the military skills can be maintained through a system where for example they are required to attend a refresher course at (say) the Ranger school for a week a year.

The tracking and bushcraft skills would need to cover areas, continents and countries other than their own so it would be necessary to provide training in proper jungles and in Asia and the middle east and Europe etc etc to ensure that your "scouts" are able to serve the army regardless of where the next war might break out.

This unit would I suggest have a "reserve" component made up of people who have and use a tracking skill in the line of their everyday work and who can be called up for duty as and when required.

Likewise standard army units who may be required to operate with tracker combat teams would need to receive training in follow-up tactics as you don't want the situation developing where the trackers have more to fear from their own people following behind them than they have for those they are following.

Bushcraft (or woodcraft) training is essential for SF and selection based units and desirable for all soldiers. It provides a grounding in situational awareness which I believe is critical for soldiers especially those operating in a anti-terrorist or counter-insurgency setting out in the bush/jungle/mountains/desert somewhere.

As I suggested elsewhere (as part of officer selection and training) bushcraft training is also a great confidence builder which is IMHO essential for all officers and NCOs. Take them into a wilderness setting and issue them with a piece of hide and a bush-knife. Let them make sandals and/or a loin-cloth and a water bottle out of the hide and then take them on the training for a few weeks. Those that don't demand to be sent home to mommy will come out greatly improved as people (and therefore as leaders and soldiers) from the experience. (I think pilots do survival training something along these lines)

That all said I believe that all SF soldiers need to do at least a tracking course at the first level with emphasis on anti-tracking (counter-tracking) skills. (as sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted)

TYR
08-13-2010, 04:14 AM
JMA,
Some good comments, I'd like to reply to some. Don't take anything personal, you cant read me as I am saying this.


Some we tracked to contact on others the spoor was lost for a variety of reasons.

Hey that’s part of the process. Tracking is just another tool and not the “be all end all”. It’s an opportunity event, depending on the Tracking teams ability, mission, enemy, terrain, weather conditions, as well as the amount of support will all affect the outcome of a Tracking Operation.


Early on (in the late 60's) the limitation of trying to catch up on fleeing lightly equiped insurgents was a real problem regardless of the skills of the trackers. So the tactic of "leapfrogging" was tested and refined to speed up this process. Essentially this was the use of heliborne trackers being dropped ahead of the follow-up team on the line of flight to cross grain to try to pick up the spoor closer to the fleeing insurgents.

True the Rhodesians and South Africans did a great job developing this. Today however if you take that tracking skill and combine it with some of the advanced capabilities employed today, the information gathered and disseminated to other patrols working in conjunction would make the “leapfrog” method even more efficient.



Apart from the obvious requirement for combat tracking teams to be able to track competently it is operationally essential that they be able to assess the freshness of the spoor and the sign and indicate to the follow-up commander that contact is imminent.

Not just aging but the tracking patrol needs to be able to interpret the track line to determine what the enemy was doing as well as attempt to figure out what he will do and understand his enemies TTPs. The tracking patrol doesn't’t just follow a set of tracks, they are hunting if they are in pursuit. If the tracking patrol is not interpreting the track line along with the terrain they will find themselves in trouble.


It was irritating that having been on a follow-up for a few days the whole operation would end with a fleeting no casualties either side contact or the trackers dropping one or two and the rest taking off now at twice the speed and probably "bombshelling" (scattering) to move individually to a prearranged RV somewhere ahead on their line of march.

For you or them?:rolleyes:


There was/is a tendency for trackers to become prima donnas

That happens with any small unit that you segregate from the guys they are to help support. However if you select and train one squad in each Infantry platoon to have this capability, as well as give them an additional skill identifier that will keep them in that position you shouldn’t have an integration problem or fratricide problem since they belong to that platoon and would be properly supported by their platoon. This is a skill set that will enhance every platoon’s ability to gather information on the enemy if they are conducting reconnaissance operations or find, fix and finish an enemy when conducting a pursuit operation. Tracking incorporated in the Scouts at the Battalion level as well as the RSTA units at brigade level will enhance their unit’s collection capabilities as well.



The role of trackers or the combat tracking team is to help maintain contact with the enemy, nothing more.

That sounds like an officer talking who didn’t completely understand the capabilities of tracking. This might have been the way the Rhodesians had thought of tracking but that is such a narrow view as to its capabilities. True sometimes you conduct a tracking operation and are unable to capture or kill the enemy, BUT what did the patrol learn about the enemy, the terrain, and atmospherics within a village and so on. When the unit comes back from their patrol and conducts their debrief all that information should be captured. Most insurgencies are local and what is gathered about that particular cell will help shape the Company Intelligence Support Teams Intel picture of what is going on in that area. Also the information gathered from footwear impression evidence as well as other material discarded by the enemy will provide a better understanding as to the insurgents Infil and Exfil routes, areas of support and so on.


I would let trackers argue about skills and methods and whatever they like but operationally all that matters is their ability to track to contact.

Again this is a very narrow view of tracking.


All that said if you want proficient trackers you need a permanent tracking unit. The skill of tracking needs to be exercised daily and the only way it can be is through housing your trackers in one tracking unit and then attaching combat tracking teams from this unit to formations and units in the field as the circumstances require.

MHO is again that each company has this capability with those capabilities also at Battalion and Brigade level. It needs to be decentralized and employed by the guys who have to patrol every day.


The tracking and bushcraft skills would need to cover areas, continents and countries other than their own so it would be necessary to provide training in proper jungles and in Asia and the middle east and Europe etc etc to ensure that your "scouts" are able to serve the army regardless of where the next war might break out.

This just isn’t going to happen. The U.S. Military just won’t do that and I guarantee you your army didn’t do that either. It would be too costly. If that were to be done it would be done by a tier 1 unit and then you would definitely have a “prima donna” problem. However I have tracked in all these environments by using basic principles and after a period of adjustment to a new environment I had no problem tracking.


Bushcraft (or woodcraft) training is essential for SF and selection based units and desirable for all soldiers. It provides a grounding in situational awareness which I believe is critical for soldiers especially those operating in a anti-terrorist or counter-insurgency setting out in the bush/jungle/mountains/desert somewhere.

I agree, since 911 our soldier’s field craft skills have turned to crap.:(


That all said I believe that all SF soldiers need to do at least a tracking course at the first level with emphasis on anti-tracking (counter-tracking) skills. (as sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted)

True, but you will never be proficient at counter tracking until you are a tracker first and understand what the tracker or a scent dog is capable of.:wry:

JMA
08-13-2010, 07:31 PM
Hey that’s part of the process. Tracking is just another tool and not the “be all end all”. It’s an opportunity event, depending on the Tracking teams ability, mission, enemy, terrain, weather conditions, as well as the amount of support will all affect the outcome of a Tracking Operation.

The "amount of support" from whom?


True the Rhodesians and South Africans did a great job developing this. Today however if you take that tracking skill and combine it with some of the advanced capabilities employed today, the information gathered and disseminated to other patrols working in conjunction would make the “leapfrog” method even more efficient.

Yes there is much current technology that we could have used had it been available. 30 odd years ago even our helos could not fly at night. Especially important would have been the ability to continue into the night through the use of thermal. If they could just keep ahead of us until night fall they were generally home and dry. What other stuff would you find useful?


Not just aging but the tracking patrol needs to be able to interpret the track line to determine what the enemy was doing as well as attempt to figure out what he will do and understand his enemies TTPs. The tracking patrol doesn't’t just follow a set of tracks, they are hunting if they are in pursuit. If the tracking patrol is not interpreting the track line along with the terrain they will find themselves in trouble.

Well here is where we part ways. Most always (unless you can give me otherwise specifics) the tracking team is not from your unit and is attached and under command for operations. We never (seldom if ever) used more than a 4 man tracking stick. The rest of the follow-up team were infantry soldiers effectively on an advance to contact. The follow-up commander was never the tracker team leader. So the word tracking patrol is vague. Who and what is the tracking patrol? Is it not a follow-up force comprising a combat tracking team and an infantry call-sign of varying size?


For you or them?:rolleyes:

The irritation of having a fleeting contact after hours/days should be an irritant/disappointment to all and especially a waste to the war effort. While the trackers may be slapping each other on the back for getting two kills the big question should be what happened to the other 20 possible kills? Without a doubt good trackers will be able to indicate when a contact is imminent and so allow the follow-up commander to deploy his troops for the maximum result. There are just not too many good trackers out there. Not in Rhodesia in the 70s and and probably less elsewhere these days.


That happens with any small unit that you segregate from the guys they are to help support. However if you select and train one squad in each Infantry platoon to have this capability, as well as give them an additional skill identifier that will keep them in that position you shouldn’t have an integration problem or fratricide problem since they belong to that platoon and would be properly supported by their platoon. This is a skill set that will enhance every platoon’s ability to gather information on the enemy if they are conducting reconnaissance operations or find, fix and finish an enemy when conducting a pursuit operation. Tracking incorporated in the Scouts at the Battalion level as well as the RSTA units at brigade level will enhance their unit’s collection capabilities as well.

Lets look the facts:

1. There is no way on earth that anyone will train up a skilled tracking team per infantry platoon across the whole army.

2. There are not enough people in any military in any country that have the necessary tracking skills and aptitude who want to be a grunt in an infantry platoon.

3. There is no way if a tracking team was integral to an infantry platoon organisation that they could maintain their proficiency without seriously degrading their other individual training and their training within the context of the platoon.

4. The maintenance of tracking proficiency would be impossible if the trackers were dispersed as you suggest.

Comment: Yes I agree that bushcraft training would be very beneficial for every man in the platoon but when it comes to tracking +95% just don't have the aptitude. Better then to attach tracking teams to companies when they are deployed in an operational environment that demands such skills.


That sounds like an officer talking who didn’t completely understand the capabilities of tracking. This might have been the way the Rhodesians had thought of tracking but that is such a narrow view as to its capabilities. True sometimes you conduct a tracking operation and are unable to capture or kill the enemy, BUT what did the patrol learn about the enemy, the terrain, and atmospherics within a village and so on. When the unit comes back from their patrol and conducts their debrief all that information should be captured. Most insurgencies are local and what is gathered about that particular cell will help shape the Company Intelligence Support Teams Intel picture of what is going on in that area. Also the information gathered from footwear impression evidence as well as other material discarded by the enemy will provide a better understanding as to the insurgents Infil and Exfil routes, areas of support and so on.

Unless trackers have the ability to track to contact they serve no real purpose. The peripheral skills are indeed valuable but are merely add-ons. As in the US military environment where there once were scouts and trackers in the West in the late 1800s there are examples of these unique men. Unique is the word. These men can't be produced at will. As to the capabilities of these unique men the challenge would be to find and demonstrate the capabilities of these trackers.


Again this is a very narrow view of tracking.

Tracking itself is a skill that has a narrow application. In Rhodesia in the early days the insurgent infiltration routes were through the wilderness areas of low population and as such were relatively simple to track. Later when they operated in the areas of high population density with domestic cattle and goats tracking became less in demand due to very limited success.


MHO is again that each company has this capability with those capabilities also at Battalion and Brigade level. It needs to be decentralized and employed by the guys who have to patrol every day.

Where would you find all these skilled trackers and how will you keep them current? You would need to train thousands of people to get a no better than average tracking ability. When it comes to combat tracking average is just not good enough.


This just isn’t going to happen. The U.S. Military just won’t do that and I guarantee you your army didn’t do that either. It would be too costly. If that were to be done it would be done by a tier 1 unit and then you would definitely have a “prima donna” problem. However I have tracked in all these environments by using basic principles and after a period of adjustment to a new environment I had no problem tracking.

Whether it does or doesn't is not my concern. In Rhodesia there was most certainly a serious attempt to group trackers together into distinct grouping where they could train together to maintain their skills level. The people grouped together were in the main people of already proven tracking skill and the training was how best to apply this skill in a military environment. One should learn from these attempts rather than offer an alternative that has less chance of success.

It should be obvious that the only way to keep a unit of trackers current is to exercise them continuously in different environments. I love the way cost is thrown into the equation mostly before the numbers have even been crunched. If the Pentagon were to be convinced that there was a real need for tracker and tracking and bushcraft skills the money would be found (especially if the unit was to be based in the state of an influencial senator ;)

I would agree that level one trackers would be able to adapt quickly to new and different environments but level one trackers are few and far between. To sell tracking as a skill to the extent you appear to believe would be valuable you would have to demonstrate that there are the numbers available at the required skills level realise that capability. Good luck with that. Where would you draw these trackers from? Special recruiting in areas where this skill is developed from birth (like Burham) or what?


I agree, since 911 our soldier’s field craft skills have turned to crap.:(

Fieldcraft or bushcraft or both?


True, but you will never be proficient at counter tracking until you are a tracker first and understand what the tracker or a scent dog is capable of.:wry:

No. If you understand how a tracker works and what sign he recognises you will be in a position to make it much more difficult for trackers following you. You may also need to employ booby traps and other mechanisms to delay and/or discourage trackers (when operating in areas where anti-tracking is difficult).

I would be interested to hear where the US military has used tracking to any significant degree in recent operations / small wars? This together with actual combat experience so as to establish to what extent the approaches to tracking being debated are merely theoretical or based on hard experience.

TYR
08-13-2010, 09:58 PM
I think we are separated by a common language as well as different terminology, doctrines and eras. IMHO I feel you are wrong and you probably feel the same about my opinions. I will not banter with you just for the sake of bantering. Your view seems to be that of a platoon leader than that of a tracker and is based from what you experienced in your army at your time. That is you impression from your own experiences during that conflict at that time, in what used to be your country. I have been tracking and teaching tracking for a while and my opinions are shaped from my military service and my experiences as a tracker. I have never had a soldier or marine go away from a course not able to track, NEVER. Most Combat Arms soldiers I come in contact with want the skill. So when I make my comments about tracking its coming from what I see going on in our military and the need to reintroduce a skill at a level based on how we fight today. We are an all-volunteer force. We are not Rhodesia. We are not organized into sticks. We don’t have Alouette helicopters and the terrain that our soldiers will fight on tend to be different than that of our own country. I know the Rhodesian military structure was different than ours. I think historically you guys came up with some very innovative ways of fighting your enemy. But I also think your speaking from the past rather than doing some research and find out what we are doing here now. For some time the U.S. and some of the Coalition have been using tracking on a small scale and it has proved quite successful. When I first posted my thread I posted it in the “trigger puller” section because I wanted to generate some discussion as it relates currently not historically and I wanted to hear from guys who were “trigger pullers”. I didn’t want to get caught up on the past. My thread was then moved to the historical section because it was thought “appropriate”. I didn’t want to get into a historical Rhodesia debate which is why I didn’t post there in the first place because I knew you and I would be having this conversation about Rhodesia. It just seems counterproductive. By the way it’s not “Burham” its Burnham. If you want to PM me feel free but there are some things I will not discuss openly on this forum.

Ken White
08-14-2010, 12:02 AM
Tracking itself is a skill that has a narrow application... Later when they operated in the areas of high population density with domestic cattle and goats tracking became less in demand due to very limited success.Again, one war in one locale at one time. Wars vary. Situations differ. Enemy and Terrain differ. METT-TC is older than you and I together...;)
I would be interested to hear where the US military has used tracking to any significant degree in recent operations / small wars? This together with actual combat experience so as to establish to what extent the approaches to tracking being debated are merely theoretical or based on hard experience.Not terribly necessary in the urban battles in Iraq, not much use in other, smaller wars since Viet Nam LINK (http://www.combattrackerteam.org/) There's one link, Google has many more -- a lot of which are posted earlier in this thread... :rolleyes:

Working with the tracker Teams in Viet Nam leads me to see your point but not totally agree; that METT-TC thing again. Depending upon the mission and operation, Tracker Teams can be of great or of no value. My observation has also been that you can train most guys, in combat, to an acceptable level of tracking skill. YMMV.

JMA
08-14-2010, 08:17 AM
Again, one war in one locale at one time. Wars vary. Situations differ. Enemy and Terrain differ. METT-TC is older than you and I together...;)

Exactly, that is why there is no point in trying to train up one combat tracking team (CTT) per infantry platoon. Attach/embed/whatever your CTT to battalions/companies/platoons as the operations circumstances in a given conflict may demand.


Not terribly necessary in the urban battles in Iraq, not much use in other, smaller wars since Viet Nam LINK (http://www.combattrackerteam.org/) There's one link, Google has many more -- a lot of which are posted earlier in this thread... :rolleyes:

OK, so from that website we see the application very similar other than the follow-up force operated as follows:


From Combat Tracker Team (Vietnam) website: "The unit was usually supported by a platoon or larger force and worked well ahead of them to maintain noise discipline and the element of surprise."

The variation obviously worked for them in the Vietnam setting, so there is nothing further to be said about it.


Working with the tracker Teams in Viet Nam leads me to see your point but not totally agree; that METT-TC thing again. Depending upon the mission and operation, Tracker Teams can be of great or of no value. My observation has also been that you can train most guys, in combat, to an acceptable level of tracking skill. YMMV.

Tracker teams are by definition trackers first and foremost. If they are able/required/needed to fulfill reconnaissance and/or other functions in addition to their primary function and reason for their existence then that is all good and well. A separate specialist unit is the best manner in which to keep their skills up. (I accept that in order to justify their existence trackers would need/tend/resort to hype their capabilities, don't blame them for this. But between ourselves lets try to keep it real)

Acceptable level of tracking skill? What is that? To be honest with you Ken I can't possibly accept that a kid born and bred in NYC can compare with one born and bred in a wilderness area. Average in most cases is just not good enough... and when it comes to combat tracking this is especially so (IMHO).

Damn I liked this quote from that website (maybe thats why veterans from wars always have so much in common)... I feel exactly the same about it all now 30 years on.

“Our job was to find the enemy and re-establish contact,” Matt said. “When you were 20 years old, that sounded fun. When you’re 60, that’s crazy.”

Now I suppose that's why they use 18-20 somethings for wars... they/we/I were too dumb then to understand the dangers.

JMA
08-14-2010, 02:53 PM
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9-14


I think we are separated by a common language as well as different terminology, doctrines and eras. IMHO I feel you are wrong and you probably feel the same about my opinions. I will not banter with you just for the sake of bantering. Your view seems to be that of a platoon leader than that of a tracker and is based from what you experienced in your army at your time. That is you impression from your own experiences during that conflict at that time, in what used to be your country. I have been tracking and teaching tracking for a while and my opinions are shaped from my military service and my experiences as a tracker.

I am certainly not "wrong" but I can admit that the application of what I say (being what I learned at the feet of masters) may differ from one operational environment to the next.

What I/we experienced (including from the early days in Mozambique), what the Combat Tracker Teams in Vietnam, what the Brits and Rhodesians and others experienced in Malaya, what the Australians experienced in Vietnam and Timor cannot simply be ignored because it is in that past.

Trackers don't decide how the war is fought. Tracking skills are applied to the prevailing conditions as passed on through the chain of command. Where individual trackers are psychologically suited for recce work their skills will be valuable in this regard.

In the absence of live operational tracking against live, armed enemy and combat experience in a specific tracking setting one understands that there may be a tendency to theorise on the tactical employment. This is really unnecessary in the environments mentioned as there are people who have the experience to draw on. Certainly in the US there must be at least a handful of suitable experts from among the hundreds of Vietnam era trackers who must surely be consulted and their experience drawn on?

There is absolutely no reason to attempt to reinvent the wheel.


I have never had a soldier or marine go away from a course not able to track, NEVER. Most Combat Arms soldiers I come in contact with want the skill. So when I make my comments about tracking its coming from what I see going on in our military and the need to reintroduce a skill at a level based on how we fight today. We are an all-volunteer force.

Well we are back to what constitutes a tracker. What does able to track mean? (same sort of question I asked Ken)

The best way to reintroduce the skill of tracking is to redefine it in its most basic terms and let it be assessed whether there is a real need army wide or just as a specialist niche. Tracking is tracking and the ability to follow spoor and read sign has nothing to do with "how we fight today" but rather how follow-up actions can be extended into the night and further assisted by thermal and other technologies to continue operations on a 24/7 basis.


We are not Rhodesia. We are not organized into sticks. We don’t have Alouette helicopters and the terrain that our soldiers will fight on tend to be different than that of our own country.

That is a meaningless paragraph.

Is all your previous experience meaningless? If you served in Iraq is that service and combat experience meaningless when now operating in Afghanistan? Of course not. You take that experience and you use it, adapt it , draw from it and are better able to contribute in the battlefield you find yourself today.

Tracking in Rhodesia was a great learning curve for trackers as there is a large diversity of terrain/geographical/vegetation types. The Alouette helicopter was in a lot ways ideal for our war there. Initially it lifted sticks/callsigns of 5 then after the strela mods and the armoured seat for the pilot sticks were reduced to 4. So the tracking team and all other army callsigns became organised in multiples of 4. And it could fit into small, tight LZs. Difficult to shoot down as you needed to take the pilot out, hit the fuel line or the tail rotor. And cheap too.

Yes, in an army which fights all over the world trackers need to be trained in diverse areas with diverse terrain, geography and vegetation. (Thats why I said earlier a tracking unit would need to be formed to house these specialists and ensure a comprehensive training program to keep them current in situations from desert through to snow.)


I know the Rhodesian military structure was different than ours. I think historically you guys came up with some very innovative ways of fighting your enemy.

But the tracking team was also 4 men like in Vietnam. Great minds think alike - except that our experience with dogs was not a success.

Well in the early days we attached many of our trackers to work with the Portuguese forces in Mozambique. So by the time they were needed locally they were experienced and operationally competent. Note: they did not say "what the hell can the Porks teach us?"

We also drew on the Malayan experience as both our C Squadron SAS were there as were the RAR (Rhodesia African Rifles) and a number of officers had served with other Brit regiments in Malaya.


But I also think your speaking from the past rather than doing some research and find out what we are doing here now. For some time the U.S. and some of the Coalition have been using tracking on a small scale and it has proved quite successful.

See my quote inserted at the top of this post.

And of course I/we would be thrilled to see how the tactics have been adapted to enemy and terrain... but then you can't tell us any more about that because this is an open forum, yes? So what exactly were you wanting to discuss?

Ken White
08-14-2010, 03:13 PM
They may have had or now have some exceptional people but those were just that, exceptional. They were or are also few in number and were or are on both ends of that exceptional spectrum, good and bad. :wry:
Tracker teams are by definition trackers first and foremost...I don't think anyone here is suggesting otherwise...:rolleyes:

Acceptable level of tracking skill? What is that?Ability to spot major and easily identified sign, the odd broken branch or scuffed spot in the dust -- Fieldcraft (or Bushcraft) 101. The big stuff, not a tracker, just an alert kid who is very situationally aware -- a good, basic, competent combat infantryman, no more.
To be honest with you Ken I can't possibly accept that a kid born and bred in NYC can compare with one born and bred in a wilderness area.The average rural bred will have advantages over the average city bred in field combat situations (the reverse is somewhat true in urban combat -- it take all kinds...) but all born and bred in a wilderness area are not automatically junior F.C. Selous types -- wasn't he a born and bred Londoner -- Rugby grad? -- in any event? Not going to Africa until he was 19, the age of many young soldiers...:D
Average in most cases is just not good enough... and when it comes to combat tracking this is especially so (IMHO).It has been my observation that average is exactly what you get most of the time in most Armies. On average, it proves adequate -- not great, just adequate.
Damn I liked this quote from that website (maybe thats why veterans from wars always have so much in common)... I feel exactly the same about it all now 30 years on.I've noticed that outlook in a great many one time good Soldiers and Marines who moved on to other things. Not nearly so prevalent an attitude in the long timers for whom it was just a job, not an exciting or interesting interlude to be relived. :wry:

davidbfpo
08-14-2010, 08:46 PM
Focus please on TYR's quest:
For some time the U.S. and some of the Coalition have been using tracking on a small scale and it has proved quite successful. When I first posted my thread I posted it in the “trigger puller” section because I wanted to generate some discussion as it relates currently not historically and I wanted to hear from guys who were “trigger pullers”. I didn’t want to get caught up on the past.

I admit t'was I who moved TYR's opening thread to this old thread:eek: as it was
appropriate..

OPSEC withstanding, can we discuss the current situation?

Ken White
08-14-2010, 09:31 PM
cannot... :wry:

Pete
08-14-2010, 10:06 PM
Perhaps Fort Benning should hire JMA as a consultant to be its moral conscience. He could be to light infantry tactics as David Kilcullen is to counterinsurgency doctrine. :wry:

JMA
08-14-2010, 11:14 PM
They may have had or now have some exceptional people but those were just that, exceptional. They were or are also few in number and were or are on both ends of that exceptional spectrum, good and bad. :wry:

Working on the Brit grading system (A, B+, B, B-, etc down to C-) Rhodesia had 2 A grade military trackers (Clemance and Watt) and then a handful of B+'s then more in each group was you went lower down the order. These exceptional people set the standard would-be aspirant trackers could aspire to. One needs the standard to be set and not allow every one to do their own thing and set their own standard... which often will be pretty low. (Note: there were many outstanding African trackers who worked mainly for the Game Department but could not be fully utilised in war settings as they had no wish to die in the war. Who could blame them.)

You would know how exceptional leaders would get the best out of often otherwise very average troops. A handful of exceptional officers and snr NCOs can turn an average battalion into a formidable fighting force. Seen that myself and no doubt you have on a number occasions as well.

My point in all this is that average trackers (in my experience) seldom were able to track to contact... and they could never tell when contact was imminent. That in my humble opinion is the differentiator. Probability of making contact and the 6th sense to know when the sh*t was about to hit the fan. You knew when you were working with the best as there were no surprises.

Another thing is that invariably the best trackers had better than 20:20 vision.


I don't think anyone here is suggesting otherwise...:rolleyes:

Well in saying that tracking skill is the most important I would go further to say that one should consider specifically recruiting people with proven tracking skills foremost then giving them the necessary military traning to function within a combat tracking team in conjunction with a follow-up force.

So I would suggest that you go find these kids in the wild areas and offer them a job. They probably know how to shoot too.


Ability to spot major and easily identified sign, the odd broken branch or scuffed spot in the dust -- Fieldcraft (or Bushcraft) 101. The big stuff, not a tracker, just an alert kid who is very situationally aware -- a good, basic, competent combat infantryman, no more.

If you followed the thread of Service Academies (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=10443&highlight=Training+Academies&page=5) then see post #62 where I suggested a means to address this bushcraft/woodcraft training and at the same time build confidence. Note: this is valuable not only for officer training but across the board.

During such training (if it were ever to take place) you would soon see who had the natural aptitude for tracking and steer them in that career direction (if one still exists).


The average rural bred will have advantages over the average city bred in field combat situations (the reverse is somewhat true in urban combat -- it take all kinds...) but all born and bred in a wilderness area are not automatically junior F.C. Selous types -- wasn't he a born and bred Londoner -- Rugby grad? -- in any event? Not going to Africa until he was 19, the age of many young soldiers...:D

Selous was a hunter/adventurer/soldier/conservationist (not quite sure how they reconcile hunting on the scale carried out by Selous with conservation) and not a tracker or scout in the sense Burnham was.

This quote says it all: "Burnham is the finest scout who ever scouted in Africa. He was my Chief of Scouts in '96 in Matabeleland and he was the the eyes and ears of my force." — Gen. Carrington, British Army commander during the Second Matabele War.

Burnham was the man, but probably because Selous had made a name for himself and become a household name in the UK he received naming rights. (Note: the original Selous Scouts was in fact armoured car reconnaissance regiment which was disbanded and then reborn as the Selous Scouts as most people know it)


It has been my observation that average is exactly what you get most of the time in most Armies. On average, it proves adequate -- not great, just adequate.

OK, and we know by experience to win the shooting part of a war all you need to be is better than your enemy. No more. Then there are those of us who want to improve our odds by being with a better than average unit. Soldiering can only be fun if you are kicking ass, yes?


I've noticed that outlook in a great many one time good Soldiers and Marines who moved on to other things. Not nearly so prevalent an attitude in the long timers for whom it was just a job, not an exciting or interesting interlude to be relived. :wry:

A lot of things change as one ages. Some of us drive slower, drink less, take less risks. Maybe it is only when looking back from the "responsible" position as family provider and grandfather that one can see the dangers in the actions of so many years ago that were not apparent at the time.

Bob's World
08-15-2010, 12:36 AM
Tracking skills are rare in "civilized" populaces, but handy.

I had the privilege to serve with Colonel (retired) Larry Brown who earned the nickname of "Superscout" during, I believe, his first tour in Nam flying scout helos in the 9th Cav. The unit was in pursuit of a group of VC, and Larry hovered low over an exposed section of muddy trail, and drawing a mental box, counting the number of footprints and dividing by two, he was able to report a direction, number of enemy, and an estimate of when they had passed. Later the enemy was interdicted, verifying his report. His commander changed his assessment that Larry was a major bull####ter to one that he was a "Superscout," and the name stuck.

It was a moniker he revalidated countless times during his multiple tours and countless engagements in that conflict. (He's still a hell of a pilot and one crazy SOB last I heard).

Tracker275
08-15-2010, 02:42 AM
Tracking skills are rare in "civilized" populaces, but handy.

Your point is both true, and false in the same sentence.

I've seen some various posts that involve "Combat Tracking Teams"/"Tactical Tracking Teams". Frankly, they are one and the same. The focus is to track in a tactical environment and offer the commander either valuable intelligence, or ability to pursue the enemy to either find, fix, destroy them...or in some cases, collect enough intelligence or evidence, to offer that opportunity another day.

Either way, it is a current capability that is utilized in theater, and I say this, because I have done it. When I say that, my most recent mission where I was utilized as a Tracker, was just this last May in Iraq. It was essential in a Post Blast incident site north of Baghdad. If I hadn't utilized that skill, we would not have collected evidence that provided 25+ latent prints, spoor identifying number of individuals, TTPs utilized, spotter locations, etc. This is only one of many many missions where I was utilized in this manner while on a WIT as the Tactical Advisor (Infantryman) with EOD.

To say this is not current doctrine is only to say you are not familiar with what IS doctrine.

As recent as October 2007, the following was published for doctrine directed at the entire United States Army...however, it is being ignored.


FM 2-91.6 (October 2007)
Soldier Surveillance and Reconnaissance: Fundamentals of Tactical Information Collection

Chapter 1

1-13. Skills, education, and experience in cultural awareness; biometrics tools and applications; battlefield forensic support activities and tracking all directly enable the tasks that contribute to ES2.

2-3. In addition to the tasks that contribute to ES2, training in cultural awareness, biometrics tools and applications, battlefield forensic support activities, and tracking can significantly enhance a unit’s internal information collection and subsequent intelligence production.

TRACKING (Dedicated Section in FM)

2-18. Tracking is a type of reconnaissance. Tracking may be planned, but is often a result of combat or reconnaissance patrolling, tactical site exploitation, or an IED event. Although any trained Soldier can perform tracking, a tracking patrol is normally a squad-size, possibly smaller element. It is tasked to follow the trail of a specific individual or enemy unit in order to determine its composition, final destination, and actions en route.

2-19. Members of the tracking patrol look for subtle signs left by the subject as he moves. As the tracking element tracks, it collects information about the individual or enemy unit, the route taken, and the surrounding terrain. Normally, a tracking patrol avoids direct fire contact with the tracked unit, but in many instances, detention is a result of tracking an individual. Tracking patrols often use tracker dog teams to help them maintain the track.

Tracking supports not only the Commander in knowing what is going on outside the wire, but also provides valuable information that it utilized by current intelligence personnel to further develop the Current Operation Picture (COP).

This is not some skill that is depicted in "John Wayne" movies, but utilized in theater now. I have done the hand off to a Tracking Dog Team at a Post Blast in the outskirts of Baghdad, I have also tracked Triggermen leaving the location of where they detonated the device from. It provided essential information that the manuever element utilized and tasked various organic assets to go seek more information.

Yes, it is "handy", however it is also utilized in not only rural, but urban environments, which I have personally been used as a Tracker on for more missions than I can count on my fingers and toes combined.

Rifleman
08-15-2010, 04:56 AM
Burnham was the man, but probably because Selous had made a name for himself and become a household name in the UK he received naming rights.


And don't forget Burnham was an American. I expect that had something to do with it also.

But the same sort of thing happened during the American frontier era. W.F. Cody became famous as a scout and was a household name. Cody was a good hunter, marksman, and tracker but men like Al Sieber, Tom Horn, and Billy Dixon were probably as good if not better. But Sieber, Horn and Dixon just never had the same name recognition.

Firn
08-15-2010, 09:26 AM
And don't forget Burnham was an American. I expect that had something to do with it also.

But the same sort of thing happened during the American frontier era. W.F. Cody became famous as a scout and was a household name. Cody was a good hunter, marksman, and tracker but men like Al Sieber, Tom Horn, and Billy Dixon were probably as good if not better. But Sieber, Horn and Dixon just never had the same name recognition.

A blast from the past: Mountain scouting (http://www.amazon.de/Mountain-Scouting-Hand-Book-Officers-Frontiers/dp/0806132094). Can be legally downloaded for free here (http://www.archive.org/details/mountainscouting00farrrich).


CHAPTER XV

THE TRAIL, SIGNS AND SIGNALS.

THE difficult art of trailing or tracking is of great importance in Indian warfare.

...


Much valuable information may be obtained by carefully observing 'signs'; but to follow a trail successfully, one must not only possess a thorough understanding of all 'signs,' but also a knowledge of the character and habits of the thing trailed, the general features of the country round about, and the powers of the eye and ear must be cultivated to a great degree of acuteness.


...


The trailer should not allow anything deviating from the common order of things to escape a rigid investigation. A close scrutiny will generally reveal both the plan and purpose of every active living creature...


...


When trailing Indians, it is often important to know the
especial customs of the various tribes. With this knowledge, the examination of the deserted camps, halting and resting places will invariably reveal the identity of the tribe once there ; the fashion of fire-making, the style, cut and finish of the moccasin, the form of lodge, etc., are all unmistakable evidences.


Firn

P.S: This part I find personally very interesting, as there donkeys and mules were also used in Europe to protect "their" flock of sheep togheter with dogs and the shepherds. The increasing number of large mammals of prey in the Alps, foremost bears and wolves has revived that old practice in some regions.


If there be a mule with the party, it will be well worth the while to carefully watch his actions. If he stubbornly seeks a certain direction, with his head high and ears thrown forward, and seems much engaged, something is surely approaching ; it may only be a bear or some smaller animal, but it will be well to be on the alert until the cause of the trouble is known.


There you have another reason to revive part of the mountain infantry tradition of the Muli. Plus a well-proven source of practical jokes and pictures would return and one could try if his stone-bound-to-the-tail trick would really prevent them from crying.

JMA
08-15-2010, 10:26 AM
And don't forget Burnham was an American. I expect that had something to do with it also.

But the same sort of thing happened during the American frontier era. W.F. Cody became famous as a scout and was a household name. Cody was a good hunter, marksman, and tracker but men like Al Sieber, Tom Horn, and Billy Dixon were probably as good if not better. But Sieber, Horn and Dixon just never had the same name recognition.

Yes I agree and probably also because Burnham moved on after the Matebele Wars. If he had left his bones in Africa it may have been a different story.

Also the Brits love their heroes to be excentric and to die heroically. Selous fitted the bill more in this regard.

KIA in the First World War in East Africa against the Germans by a sniper.

"Teddy" Roosevelt (also a somewhat larger than life character) wrote this upon his death:

He led a singularly adventurous and fascinating life, with just the right alternations between the wilderness and civilization. He helped spread the borders of his people's land. He added much to the sum of human knowledge and interest. He closed his life exactly as such a life ought to be closed, by dying in battle for his country while rendering her valiant and effective service. Who could wish a better life or a better death, or desire to leave a more honourable heritage to his family and his nation?

His legendary love of tea made him very "English" and when you read about the regiment he was serving with when he died you get an insight into the world of British eccentricity - 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25th_(Frontiersmen)_Battalion,_Royal_Fusiliers).

JMA
08-15-2010, 10:35 AM
A blast from the past: Mountain scouting (http://www.amazon.de/Mountain-Scouting-Hand-Book-Officers-Frontiers/dp/0806132094). Can be legally downloaded for free here (http://www.archive.org/details/mountainscouting00farrrich).


As has been said: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

Where in today's North America would one find a resource pool of already accomplished trackers in their early 20s?

JMA
08-15-2010, 10:47 AM
Yes, it is "handy", however it is also utilized in not only rural, but urban environments, which I have personally been used as a Tracker on for more missions than I can count on my fingers and toes combined.

Good. Now as the Iraq war is all but over perhaps you can share with us old timers about tracking in Iraq and how the tactical deployment during a follow-up was executed?

JMA
08-15-2010, 10:53 AM
Focus please on TYR's quest:

I admit t'was I who moved TYR's opening thread to this old thread:eek: as it was ..[appropriate]

OPSEC withstanding, can we discuss the current situation?

Of course David. The problem (as always) is the OPSEC issue.

If one cannot discuss detail on the tactical employment of trackers in today's wars because of OPSEC then what can really be discussed?

davidbfpo
08-15-2010, 12:17 PM
JMA responded:
The problem (as always) is the OPSEC issue. If one cannot discuss detail on the tactical employment of trackers in today's wars because of OPSEC then what can really be discussed?

I posed the request mindful - from my armchair - that OPSEC may curtail discussion and other moderators no doubt will watch carefully. I know not how much can be discussed now.

There is now a current tracking ops thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=11167

Watch & wait.

Rifleman
08-16-2010, 12:16 AM
Where in today's North America would one find a resource pool of already accomplished trackers in their early 20s?

I don't know that you could. Maybe among some of the more rural Eskimo villages but I don't know. Most Native Americans, country boys, hunters, etc., will need almost as much additional training as city boys.

You see, most successful American hunters are what you might call track aware. For instance, good whitetail deer hunters notice deer tracks and can make some reasonably accurate deductions about track age and animal size but that's about it. They simply use tracks as an indicator that their prey is in the area but they seldom try to follow tracks.

Being track aware is an important foundation/first step but with most outdoorsmen it doesn't go much beyond that. I know that's always the way it's been with me and I've had some successful days hunting, including one very nice elk.

Tracker275
08-16-2010, 12:55 AM
Good. Now as the Iraq war is all but over perhaps you can share with us old timers about tracking in Iraq and how the tactical deployment during a follow-up was executed?

I also saw your other post in regards to OPSEC. Honestly, the carrying out of the tracking piece is not anything that hasn’t already been posted multiple times within U.S. Army unclassified doctrinal publications, or utlized by law enforcement for a long time in everyday forensic applications. The handoff from either an IED Post Blast, IED Found/Cleared, Small Arms Fire (SAF), etc., is simply the ability to not contaminate the area, and give the infantry a starting point to continue the pursuit of the quarry. From there, the basic principles of tracking are performed in conjunction with standard patrolling techniques that are relatively common in most military organizations. While performing the tracking, you maintain a security element that is either moving as the tracking element moves, or there are elements in an overwatch posture that allows for security of the tracking element that is walking point.

While performing tracking operations, you don't violate the "5 Principles of Patrolling", and maintain not only maintain situational awareness of METT-TC, but also OCOKA.

Definitions:

"5 Principles of Patrolling": Planning, Reconnaissance, Security, Control, & Common Sense

METT-TC: Mission, Enemy, Terrain and Weather, Troops and Support Available, Time Available, Civil Considerations

OCOKA: Observation, Concealment, Obstacles, Key Terrain Features, Avenues of Approach

Typically, in the urban environments in either Iraq or Afghanistan, most of the streets are either dirt, or have a concrete/asphalt base that is covered in dirt. Due to the dust storms, and the basic lacking of keeping anything picked up or clean over there, track traps are everywhere. While analysis of the initial scene of the incident is being conducted by one element, the maneuver element that found it takes it from the edge of the incident site. They continue it on from there in a “movement to contact” type of posture, which the tracker guides them to where the quarry was heading. If it is understood where the individual that was identified at the scene may be heading, the time distance gap can be shortened, particularly if there are channeling corridors that allow for only certain directions of travel. It is far easier to perform tracking in urban areas in Iraq than it is in the United States, as most of the alleys area dirt, and not paved. Additionally, our peak times in urban areas were between 2100hrs to 0100hrs, which there was limited activity in the towns we were working in. Most of the spoor was also identified going through alleys and not along the main streets. Typically, the point of setting up an IED in those areas was to eliminate either a specific person, or a group of individuals near buildings they felt safe at.

Just like dealing with a crime scene in the United States, tracking in urban areas in Iraq are not much different. However, I have found far more evidence that has been able to be identified in Iraq than anything I have done in law enforcement here in the United States.

Tracking is not merely a patrolling function, but a way to gather forensic evidence left by the individuals responsible for the incident that got you called to an area in the first place. Just like how law enforcement utilizes shoe impressions, tire impressions, skid marks on roads, etc., to determine what happened, or be able to identify a suspect, so does the tracker. The principles of tracking remain the same, and are not something that is some kind of “Special Forces” function, but a function that a trained Infantryman can utilize to better the pursuit of a suspect, or develop knowledge of TTPs utilized by the individual they are after.

In today’s combat environments, we are almost as limited as personnel in Law Enforcement. We are not allowed to call in artillery on a sniper in a building anymore, like early on in the war. The fact that we are in a “peace keeping” roll, and not open combat, limits the use of easy methods of eliminating a threat. Through this restricted form of warfare, we have to utilize such capabilities that are proven to go after the target in a surgical manner, and not try and kill a fly with a sledge hammer.

Tracker275
08-16-2010, 06:47 AM
Where in today's North America would one find a resource pool of already accomplished trackers in their early 20s?

Nowhere in history has age been a predetermination of wisdom in warfare. To look for a specific age bracket of experience is only to limit yourself in finding the resources that allow for the completion of mission.

If there is a limitation in experience within a younger group within a military force, then it is up to the commanders and other leaders with knowlege in proven warfare tactics to provide that training to the younger future leaders in military organizations.

With that being said, any shortfalls found need to be identified, and corrected by those that make the decisions in training for our younger soldiers.

...To ignore these shortfalls only proves the inadequate focus of leadership in supporting the completion of mission.

However, I have found that many in leadership roles in not only our own organization, but those in others, are more concerned with providing themselves with a "legacy" in a combat theater to further their careers, which is carried on the backs of those that actually "leave the wire."

I can only hope this will change. To identify those individuals that are in their "mid 20's" that offer this type of knowledge, will require those in leadership positions to offer the training essential to allowing for this type of experience at that age bracket.

JMA
08-17-2010, 04:17 PM
Nowhere in history has age been a predetermination of wisdom in warfare. To look for a specific age bracket of experience is only to limit yourself in finding the resources that allow for the completion of mission.

"Nowhere in history"? That is some claim!

OK, the age aspect is in relation to the requirement to have combat soldiers in their 20's (give or take). So one needs to recruit people with tracking skills into the military in their early 20's.


If there is a limitation in experience within a younger group within a military force, then it is up to the commanders and other leaders with knowlege in proven warfare tactics to provide that training to the younger future leaders in military organizations.

Yes, that is obvious... but I was talking about tracking skills. A knowledge of minor tactics is worthless unless the man/men has tracking skills.


With that being said, any shortfalls found need to be identified, and corrected by those that make the decisions in training for our younger soldiers.

This is again why I believe that when looking for trackers you go out and recruit them based on the possession of that skill... and then train them up as soldiers.


...To ignore these shortfalls only proves the inadequate focus of leadership in supporting the completion of mission.

What does this mean? The clear priority is the ability to track first and foremost. The follow-up team can and normally does take on the tactical battle once contact is made.


However, I have found that many in leadership roles in not only our own organization, but those in others, are more concerned with providing themselves with a "legacy" in a combat theater to further their careers, which is carried on the backs of those that actually "leave the wire."

That's your opinion... BTW which others do you have experience of?


I can only hope this will change. To identify those individuals that are in their "mid 20's" that offer this type of knowledge, will require those in leadership positions to offer the training essential to allowing for this type of experience at that age bracket.

For tracking to make any advances and gain recognition in a large military like the US the command will have to be convinced that there is a role for tracking across the board in the modern army. (I believe unlike the army the USMC is to continue with tracking training)

Can you convince them?

JMA
08-17-2010, 04:23 PM
I also saw your other post in regards to OPSEC. Honestly, the carrying out of the tracking piece is not anything that hasn’t already been posted multiple times within U.S. Army unclassified doctrinal publications, or utlized by law enforcement for a long time in everyday forensic applications. The handoff from either an IED Post Blast, IED Found/Cleared, Small Arms Fire (SAF), etc., is simply the ability to not contaminate the area, and give the infantry a starting point to continue the pursuit of the quarry. From there, the basic principles of tracking are performed in conjunction with standard patrolling techniques that are relatively common in most military organizations. While performing the tracking, you maintain a security element that is either moving as the tracking element moves, or there are elements in an overwatch posture that allows for security of the tracking element that is walking point. [snip]

Why are you telling me this stuff? I know it. Hundreds (probably many thousands) know this. It is the current operational application of combat tracking skills in Iraq/Afghanistan that some may not know (I don't).

JMA
08-17-2010, 05:03 PM
I don't know that you could. Maybe among some of the more rural Eskimo villages but I don't know. Most Native Americans, country boys, hunters, etc., will need almost as much additional training as city boys. (Added emphasis mine)

Nah... simply not possible. I accept that there are exceptions to any rule but the attempted use of city boys as combat trackers is really not worth the effort (and cost). City kids can certainly benefit from "bush awareness" courses and could probably track 10 people walking in single file on a wet beach but that is about as far as it goes.


You see, most successful American hunters are what you might call track aware. For instance, good whitetail deer hunters notice deer tracks and can make some reasonably accurate deductions about track age and animal size but that's about it. They simply use tracks as an indicator that their prey is in the area but they seldom try to follow tracks.

Being track aware even for a single species is 9,000% better than the city boy whose natural awareness is limited to avoiding stepping in a pile of dog crap on the sidewalk.

One can work on this foundation you mention. I would suggest that you test the candidates on the course on the first day. If they pass they continue to do a tracking course if they fail they move over to a bushcraft/woodcraft course.


Being track aware is an important foundation/first step but with most outdoorsmen it doesn't go much beyond that. I know that's always the way it's been with me and I've had some successful days hunting, including one very nice elk.

Yes I agree that even with some hunters and outdoors-men that they are limited in the area of skills like tracking and even shooting. Now if kids with this background and exposure are not capable of tracking then what chance does your city boy have?

This all said. I accept that those who run tracking schools will swear on their mother's honour that they can turn out a tracker in less than a week out of your average city boy. They would wouldn't they.

OK, so run a pre-course tracking test as an entry qualification. Then run a course of 8 weeks, 16 weeks or whatever but not a few days.

Here is a SOF magazine article on Rhodesian tracking (http://feraljundi.com/2009/12/27/history-tracker-combat-units-zambezi-valley-manhunt-by-david-scott-donelan/) going back to 1985. Worth reading.

JMA
08-18-2010, 11:01 AM
Here is a SOF magazine article on Rhodesian tracking (http://feraljundi.com/2009/12/27/history-tracker-combat-units-zambezi-valley-manhunt-by-david-scott-donelan/) going back to 1985. Worth reading.

Note quotation below.


Savory’s concept took native tracking and turned it into a military discipline. He argued that a soldier already skilled in patrols, ambushes and tactical maneuvering could better almost anyone in the man tracking game once trained in the necessary techniques. From Rhodesia’s SAS he selected eight men which he felt had demonstrated special potential to form a test group.

Savory put them through a Spartan, rigorous training program in the Sabie Valley adjacent to the Mozambique border. Eight weeks in the field, two weeks back in town and another eight weeks back in the bush was just enough to bring his men to what he felt was the required standard.

I differ from Savory only in that he was looking for quality as opposed to quantity. You can then decide whether to select trained soldiers with the tracking aptitude or go out and find an area (or areas) where kids grow up learning this stuff and then train them as soldiers. Your core leader element would need to be found within the existing forces and I guess that would be phase one of setting up such a unit which would provide your officer and NCO structure. Phase 2 would be to find the trackers to fill the posts. Either you go find them or you run selection courses for volunteers from within the military or both.

Savory selected 8 men out of the Rhodesian SAS (company size) as having the potential. The training was then over 16 weeks. If this is what is required in terms of training for those who already have a special aptitude then what about our city boy with less than 20:20 vision? Not going to work.

So there will be trackers and there will be those who have attended an advanced-fieldcraft/bushcraft/woodcraft course. Let us never try to blend the two together.

Again I say that those with a commercial agenda may well attempt to sell the idea that anyone can be turned into a tracker in a few days. Some people may even buy that.

Rifleman
08-19-2010, 05:15 AM
JMA,

Okay then, maybe I was a little too self-critical (I consider it being "realistic") when I drew my conclusions, but I've spent a lot of time looking at animal "sign" (spoor) over the years, yet in spite of that I've spent very little time trying to follow animals.

I've been successful at hunting on quite a few occasions...

http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=597&stc=1&d=1225666093

http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=596&stc=1&d=1225666066

...but I don't consider myself a tracker and I'd certainly need a lot more training before being ready for a manhunt in the Zambezi Valley.

JMA
08-19-2010, 08:49 AM
JMA,

Okay then, maybe I was a little too self-critical (I consider it being "realistic") when I drew my conclusions, but I've spent a lot of time looking at animal "sign" (spoor) over the years, yet in spite of that I've spent very little time trying to follow animals.

I've been successful at hunting on quite a few occasions...

[snip]

...but I don't consider myself a tracker and I'd certainly need a lot more training before being ready for a manhunt in the Zambezi Valley.

Don't sell yourself short. When Savory selected his core group he took them out into the bush/wilderness for 16 weeks to hone their tracking skills and to learn the tactical requirements of tracking armed insurgents.

Remember city kids have only seen a deer in a movie. Never breathed fresh air and never slept out in the cold/rain/snow or been chowed by mosquitoes/mopani flies/tsetse flies/centipedes/and the odd snake. They don't know what they are missing ;)

As to hunting... a better sport is hunting armed insurgents. They can shoot back. A more even contest?

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4058/4499965120_088f0c6c57_z.jpg
Waiting for chopper uplift from the flat rock behind. Now that is hunting!

Tracker275
08-20-2010, 06:11 AM
"Nowhere in history"? That is some claim!

OK, the age aspect is in relation to the requirement to have combat soldiers in their 20's (give or take). So one needs to recruit people with tracking skills into the military in their early 20's.



Yes, that is obvious... but I was talking about tracking skills. A knowledge of minor tactics is worthless unless the man/men has tracking skills.



This is again why I believe that when looking for trackers you go out and recruit them based on the possession of that skill... and then train them up as soldiers.



What does this mean? The clear priority is the ability to track first and foremost. The follow-up team can and normally does take on the tactical battle once contact is made.



That's your opinion... BTW which others do you have experience of?



For tracking to make any advances and gain recognition in a large military like the US the command will have to be convinced that there is a role for tracking across the board in the modern army. (I believe unlike the army the USMC is to continue with tracking training)

Can you convince them?

Mmmmm,

You have a lot of knowledge JMA, however you are reluctant to put that out in the open to be devoured by the wolves. I have briefed many like you that seem to be the "sharpshooter" in the back of the room, but offer minimal in the amount of knowledge to educate the new combat soldiers that are moving up the chain.

After analyzing your posts, there is one thing that continually presents itself as a pattern. That is that no matter what is stated, you must always identify the individual that posts at being in the wrong. I would imagine you spend a fair amount of time analyzing posts, and identifying what you can poke holes in.

Granted, this post may annoy you, however you present yourself as extremely bitter, and unable to offer new soldiers or older leadership anything but argumentative retoric. The capability for you to offer any form of debate is found to be only in the form of slamming posts by anyone that may offer a challenge to what you state.

I am currently an instructor at a school house, only recently returned from a tour in the last few weeks, and I would like to find additional information from other combat veterans out there, regardless of conflict. However, I can honestly say that you have not provided anything in the last 2wks that I can utilize to add to the training value of soldiers that I see everyday.

There is nothing wrong with offering the "devils advocate" viewpoint, however include something that has substance for todays wars based on your experience. That is far more valuable to all readers than simply trying to combat every statement that is presented.

ret18zulu
08-21-2010, 09:01 PM
This thread seems to be a two person dance, nevertheless. . .
I had a friend who was a big game hunter, usually RSA but occasionally Namibia, sometimes Botswana. He told me of having hunted the Caprivi Strip (his last hunt actually) from a camp or town called Buffalo. Further, the fellow who ran the camp (white guy) was said to be an outstanding tracker. When I got back to my construction site in Iraq (I was the project security manager) I asked some of my South African security guys what they might know of the camp/town of “Buffalo” and further had they ever heard of “XYZ” (fortunately or unfortunately I can’t remember his name), the outstanding white tracker, who was as good as any black as a tracker.

Four or maybe five of my SA guys were old 32 Battalion hands, they had spent the majority of their time working out of Buffalo Camp. They knew personally, or knew of XYZ. Gale’s of laughter and shouts of derision followed my naming XYZ as a tracker as good as any black. While they all allowed that he might think that and that for a white guy he may be passable, there was no way any white man could equal the good, much less the best black trackers. Their reasoning went something like this;

The wealth and security of a black family in that part of Africa depended on their family’s herd of goats. Early morning to late evening these goats ranged the sparse vegetation of rocky hillsides and dry valleys. From the age of six or seven the family’s boys watched over them. With a goatskin of tepid water and a stick they kept track of the young, the old, the adventurous and the stupid. Every one, day after day after day. Maybe not fun but they did learn how to keep track of their animals. . .they learned tracking from the bottom up. Later when it was man tracking time there was no way a white guy could replicate such training, they had not the hour upon numbing hour of experience, as the black kids did, none. They were all emphatic on that point. (Remember, this is not my opinion but rather what they, the guys who were there, said.)

Further, it was explained to me that the tracking in 32 Battalion was done primarily by the black guys. The teams operated deep inside Angola picking up the would be infiltrators early in the game. The tracker teams were run by white O/NCO’s who’s job was to get the trackers (I can’t remember the exact composition of the teams.) onto the trail of a group of infiltrators (can’t remember their term for that either) and follow up with a fresh team or teams, helliborne in closer to or ahead of the infiltrators. Once the track had been established the conclusion was almost inevitable. I was told that after a while sometimes the infiltrators, upon hearing the chopper, would simply walk into a clearing with their hands up.

My best guess is, somewhere between that African goat herder boy and the city boy who’s never seen a track, but can be trained, there is a standard sufficient to the exigencies of the moment. Time and place specific, yes. A quickly forgotten and perishable skill, probably. Something the world Duty Officer sees the need for, maybe not. Nevertheless, an arrow, however sharp (or blunted), that should be in every UW warrior’s quiver. Further, I can easily see the need for a range of competence from an “understands the basics,” FNG to a Master Tracker (what ever that might be). My SA friend’s opined that their tracking skills were just sufficient to usefully employ their pros, the black SA’s who did the heavy lifting.

I understand this does not exactly match up with what’s been posted in this thread. Nothing of the request “expert training” assumed necessary or the methodology/ time required to achieve what ever the standard may be declared to be or the time trade off between tracking skills and other crucial tactical knowledge. It is however, very close to what I recall my SA friends describing and, I think, in the overall scheme of unconventional/guerrilla/small wars, well worth pondering.

You don’t learn language by going to school; you learn it by yourself. . . then you go to school. Sometimes we forget that.

JMA
08-24-2010, 02:05 PM
This thread seems to be a two person dance, nevertheless. . .
I had a friend who was a big game hunter, usually RSA but occasionally Namibia, sometimes Botswana. He told me of having hunted the Caprivi Strip (his last hunt actually) from a camp or town called Buffalo. Further, the fellow who ran the camp (white guy) was said to be an outstanding tracker. When I got back to my construction site in Iraq (I was the project security manager) I asked some of my South African security guys what they might know of the camp/town of “Buffalo” and further had they ever heard of “XYZ” (fortunately or unfortunately I can’t remember his name), the outstanding white tracker, who was as good as any black as a tracker.

[snip]



Back in town today so let me jump right in.

Your 32 battalion mates are mostly correct that to be a skilled tracker/master tracker or whatever you want to call it you need to literally grow up in the bush.

Are all "blacks" (Africans) good trackers? No. the same principle applies and there are those who have grown up in the inner cities/townships/projects etc who will know as little as the average city boy. Can a white guy get be be able to track "as good as any black"? The answer is 99% of the time no but depends on where and how he grew up. Terrain similarities and relative geography to where he needs to track are factors. For example the Khoisan trackers of Western Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) lived and tracked in what is termed sandveld (Kalahari sands (http://www.springerlink.com/content/n3p47m11h28861q2/)) and found it more difficult when transported to track in other vegetation and geological type areas. This whole tracking thing is more complex than some will want you to believe.

What your 32 Battalion mates probably forget is that this guy is marketing himself and his hunting concession commercially and so is likely to hype it all up for the benefit of clients. (Same as if you check their CVs in minute detail you may also find a little exaggeration here and there. ;)

The vast majority of 32 Battalion "whites" (being officers and NCOs) probably, like me, had next to no personal tracking skills. Yes maybe they, like me, understood the basics of how to conduct follow-up operations in support of a skilled combat tracker team. That's probably where it begins and ends.

So this guy is trying to make some money out of selling himself as the next "big white hunter". So what? He isn't the first and certainly won't be the last.

Its all a bit like other people who may be making money out of tracking through running a variety of tracking courses. They will tell you that they can train just about anyone into a skilled combat tracker. They will certainly not screen out those with no skill and lose the course fee income. They will also hype the potential of trackers from being a highly skilled individual in a very narrow field (which is what a tracker is) to a combination of CSI/Rambo and the six million dollar man. There is a commercial motivation... in both cases.

As to tracking in Angola one needs to remember that the local population density was sparse and as such tracking was possible. Remembering that if you are trying to track people through areas of dense population who are sympathetic to them and will drive their animals over the spoor or just walk all over it and even sweep it out then it becomes less possible or almost impossible to have a successful follow-up.

The term for lifting trackers ahead on the line of the follow-up is called leapfrogging and relates to where trackers, lifted by helicopter, cut for spoor ahead of the follow-up force in order to catch up on the insurgents in question.

Steve Blair
08-24-2010, 02:14 PM
Where in today's North America would one find a resource pool of already accomplished trackers in their early 20s?

Stupid question if you've ever been to the western United States and (I suspect) parts of Canada as well. Ranch kids here do a great deal of tracking (cattle, coyotes, wolves, lost city kids, deer, elk, bear) and often start at an early age. We have excellent trackers and outfitters...folks who make their living following critters and sometimes people. I'd also lay odds that you'd find good trackers down along the border as well.

Rifleman, in reference to your earlier post, you'd be surprised I think at the amount of tracking that actually goes on out here. It may not happen in the Native American community, but it certainly does in other places.

Rifleman
08-25-2010, 12:31 AM
Rifleman, in reference to your earlier post, you'd be surprised I think at the amount of tracking that actually goes on out here. It may not happen in the Native American community, but it certainly does in other places.

Steve,

I think you have a point.....up to a point - if that makes any sense. But we might just have to agree to disagree on the extent of the tracking skill of most western outdoorsmen. And hopefully, we can disagree without being disagreeable. ;)

I see you are in Montana. I live in Wyoming. I grew up southern and rural. I've done a fair amount of hunting. I've wrangled, packed and guided for outfitters around the Jackson Hole area. I've also worked for a couple of cattle ranches, both of which still had a summer free range grazing alotments on the Bridger-Teton National Forest at the time.

I've seen many people notice tracks, find tracks, comment on tracks, draw some elementary deductions from tracks, and follow tracks for short distances. Still, I haven't I seen any long "direct spooring" follow-ups unless there was snow on the ground. Nor have I seen anyone that I would consider a cracker-jack tracker. I include myself in that condemnation.

I think it's analogous to horsemanship. Or roping. There are some true greats around today; journeymen who take things to the highest level. But in my experience many ranch raised people just sort of muddle through at those sorts of skills their enire lives without ever achieving true excellence.

Maybe my ideas about what somebody who calls themselves a tracker ought to be capable of are just too strict. I dunno.

JMA
08-25-2010, 01:32 AM
Maybe my ideas about what somebody who calls themselves a tracker ought to be capable of are just too strict. I dunno.

I don't think they are. This is why trackers should be graded through a standard testing process. There are (expert) trackers and there are (self styled) trackers.

What the military needs is trackers who are way above the average and who can track insurgents over different types of terrain, where the insurgents are anti/counter tracking and at a speed to allow the follow-up to close with the insurgents. These will be your "master trackers".

Yes, you can use lower grade trackers to back track and maybe cast for spoor as part of a leapfrogging exercise but that is about as far as it goes.

If standards are set low to start with the military will be just wasting their time... and money.

JMA
08-25-2010, 01:40 AM
Stupid question if you've ever been to the western United States and (I suspect) parts of Canada as well. Ranch kids here do a great deal of tracking (cattle, coyotes, wolves, lost city kids, deer, elk, bear) and often start at an early age. We have excellent trackers and outfitters...folks who make their living following critters and sometimes people. I'd also lay odds that you'd find good trackers down along the border as well.

No I have not been to the US so my question was simple and honest.

If you have followed my line of argument you we see that I suggest that these kids get targeted for recruitment as trackers (probably into a specialist tracking unit).

Obviously there will need to be a selection course to ensure that these kids really do have the required potential to become a tracker and then provide specialist tracking training. Then basic military training and then the combat tracking tactics. That should take six or more months...

JMA
08-25-2010, 01:47 AM
Mmmmm,

You have a lot of knowledge JMA, however you are reluctant to put that out in the open to be devoured by the wolves. I have briefed many like you that seem to be the "sharpshooter" in the back of the room, but offer minimal in the amount of knowledge to educate the new combat soldiers that are moving up the chain.

After analyzing your posts, there is one thing that continually presents itself as a pattern. That is that no matter what is stated, you must always identify the individual that posts at being in the wrong. I would imagine you spend a fair amount of time analyzing posts, and identifying what you can poke holes in.

Granted, this post may annoy you, however you present yourself as extremely bitter, and unable to offer new soldiers or older leadership anything but argumentative retoric. The capability for you to offer any form of debate is found to be only in the form of slamming posts by anyone that may offer a challenge to what you state.

I am currently an instructor at a school house, only recently returned from a tour in the last few weeks, and I would like to find additional information from other combat veterans out there, regardless of conflict. However, I can honestly say that you have not provided anything in the last 2wks that I can utilize to add to the training value of soldiers that I see everyday.

There is nothing wrong with offering the "devils advocate" viewpoint, however include something that has substance for todays wars based on your experience. That is far more valuable to all readers than simply trying to combat every statement that is presented.

I will not dignify this post with a reply other than to say that my presence here does not obligate me to provide you with training material.

Tracker275
08-26-2010, 04:05 AM
I will not dignify this post with a reply other than to say that my presence here does not obligate me to provide you with training material.

Point taken, as that is what I expect from you.

JMA
09-01-2010, 04:33 PM
The Afghanis (at least some of them) have a great tradition of horsemanship.

Saw the book Horse Soldiers (http://www.amazon.com/Horse-Soldiers-Extraordinary-Victory-Afghanistan/dp/1416580514) where the first US SF in Afghanistan in 2001 made use of horses during their mission. Probably because there was no other mobility available.

Rhodesia had the Grey's Scouts, a mounted infantry rather than a cavalry unit who had a tracking ability and also were working on the use of dogs (coonhounds) running free in this regard. Lacking tracking devices and GPS transmitters in those days there was always the real potential to lose the dogs or get separated. The trials were never fully completed by the end of the war.

There were a number of occasions where Grey's were able to cover tremendous distances at a steady canter on obvious spoor. This would be where they came across spoor of large groups of heavily laden insurgents following a well warn path/route or in a post contact situation where the insurgents were fleeing with no time to anti/counter track. The dogs would have been better where anti-counter tracking was being used.

The Rhodesian Air Force also carried out some trials using free running dogs as recorded in the excellent work Winds of Destruction (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=akwPLOZMZYIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=winds+of+destruction&source=bl&ots=Gf0e1fK6RY&sig=T7chuQfL3Ku1KqIYi69Aic43jL0&hl=en&ei=Q3l-TP_mAcWqlAfIo9DsAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false) by Peter Petter-Bowyer

Tracker dogs proven (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=akwPLOZMZYIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=winds+of+destruction&source=bl&ots=Gf0e1fK6RY&sig=T7chuQfL3Ku1KqIYi69Aic43jL0&hl=en&ei=Q3l-TP_mAcWqlAfIo9DsAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=dogs&f=false)

Final Tracker Dog Trial (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=akwPLOZMZYIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=winds+of+destruction&source=bl&ots=Gf0e1fK6RY&sig=T7chuQfL3Ku1KqIYi69Aic43jL0&hl=en&ei=Q3l-TP_mAcWqlAfIo9DsAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Dogs&f=false)

In our small overstretched military we did not have the time to work on the concept of free running dogs for tracking purposes. Maybe others elsewhere have had more experience with dogs and/or mounted infantry tracking.

JMA
09-03-2010, 07:35 AM
In our small overstretched military we did not have the time to work on the concept of free running dogs for tracking purposes. Maybe others elsewhere have had more experience with dogs and/or mounted infantry tracking.

Had a private message from the US which spoke about the use of a long leash for running down escaped convicts (etc) down. Believe something like this photo (below):

http://media.independentmail.com/media/img/photos/2009/08/06/0807Dogs1_t607.jpg

Then there is the typical Vietnam method (short leash):

http://www.history.army.mil/books/vietnam/tactical/images/f9.jpg

Just to reconfirm the idea that was being tested in Rhodesia (which showed promise but was never completed) was to let a pack of dogs run free while followed either by mounted infantry or by a helicopter. The whole aim was to track at the maximum speed the dogs were capable of as the humans were the limiting factor.

Ken White
09-03-2010, 03:46 PM
the short leash was generally used only in movement when no contact was expected. Some tracker dogs were allowed to free range; depended on the dogs and the handlers. Some successes but not enough to change the training or basicTTP. Not all dogs adapted well to it, not all commanders -- or handlers -- were comfortable with doing the free roving thing.

ADDED: The Bloodhound led me to focus on Trackers but a second look showed the VN photo is a Shepherd -- the long lead was used on Scout Dogs as well when working, the short lead was generally used for Admin movement for all types of working dogs, though individual handlers all had their own techniques.

davidbfpo
09-04-2010, 01:06 PM
I recall reading a book on the UK military during 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland, that in the rural areas static, covert surveillance was hindered by locals friendly to the Provisional IRA, driving cattle across fields and of course letting dogs loose.

On reflection I thought this might have been counter-tracking too.

Parts of the UK Army did have tracking training in the 1980's; on elite unit, the Pathfinder Company (Para Regmt) had a fortnight's course, with ex-Rhodesian instructors and a six month course in Australia was then on offer.

JMA
09-05-2010, 01:34 PM
I recall reading a book on the UK military during 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland, that in the rural areas static, covert surveillance was hindered by locals friendly to the Provisional IRA, driving cattle across fields and of course letting dogs loose.

On reflection I thought this might have been counter-tracking too.

Parts of the UK Army did have tracking training in the 1980's; on elite unit, the Pathfinder Company (Para Regmt) had a fortnight's course, with ex-Rhodesian instructors and a six month course in Australia was then on offer.

I have my reservations about the final practical ability after a mere two week course (as stated elsewhere).

In Rhodesia once the schools had been forced to close by killing the teachers the insurgents had a large group of kids (Mujibas) who they could use to scout around to look for and report sign of security forces in a given area.


Mujibas (http://www.themukiwa.com/rhodesianwar/rhodesianwarglossary.htm) were unarmed African children, more boys than girls, who often acted as useful intelligence sources for the guerillas, indicating movement and location of Rhodesian forces; a large number were to be killed 'in cross-fire'.

I would think that the route cattle were driven or dogs walked could have been construed as actively seeking out sign of security forces or mistaken for. Country lads sitting in OP watching these goings on would be able to read which of the two it was. City boys in OP would have no clue.

ekaphoto
09-06-2010, 12:06 AM
Here is an old US Army Video circa 1969 on dogs in the military. From the 14:00 minute to 20:00 min section is on combat tracker teams and the labs they used for tracking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7wClUWV7_M

Tracker275
11-14-2010, 09:36 AM
URL to Download Article: Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability: A Disappearing Skill and Misunderstood Capability (http://tyrgroup.info/TYR%20Group%20Articles/Visual%20Tracking%20and%20the%20Military%20Trackin g%20Team%20Capability.pdf)



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Of all the potentially valuable skills in the military the one that is most commonly misunderstood and underestimated is Visual Tracking. Unfortunately most opinions are based on misconceptions within the civilian tracking community. Trackers who are teachers of a holistic form of tracking that focus their instruction on a spiritual aspect have crushed any true debate on the virtues of tracking as a military specialty skill. Visual Tracking is not an exclusive skill associated with the Native American, San Bushmen, Iban, or Dyak trackers.

Visual Tracking, at its very basic level is the natural predatory hunting instinct of man. The sign that the tracker reads, is the “Physical Evidence” that his quarry leaves behind. The Trained Tracker is able to locate, identify, pursue and interpret those signs as well as form reasonably accurate conclusions based on the evidence left by the quarry.
In an environment where information on an enemy is limited the primary means of intelligence gathering will be through conducting patrols. Visual Tracking supports a commander's intent to find, fix and finish the enemy as well as be that human sensor that collects information. Soldiers who are taught the visual tracking skill will possess a greater attention to detail. Visual Tracking also provides them with a keener situational awareness to the environment around them.

It is very difficult for even the smallest element of men to move across any terrain without leaving some type of evidence. If one looks at sign left by the quarry and puts that into the context of military intelligence, then the physical evidence becomes intelligence indicators.

Indicators observed by a trained tracker can provide immediate use intelligence about the quarry, such as:


Enemy size
Direction of movement
Rate of movement
Infiltration and Exfiltration routes and methods used
“Safe Areas” being utilized
State of training and discipline
Enemy capabilities and intentions.

Historically, Visual Man-Tracking has been used by many Militaries and Law Enforcement Agencies in other countries around the world with a great deal of success. The ability of employing Visual Trackers to locate and interdict a subject attempting to elude their pursuers, gather information for intelligence purposes or help rescue lost individuals and groups.

In today’s Contemporary Operating Environment, Man-hunting techniques employed by the Military have been ineffective and reactionary. With The inability to immediately interdict insurgents, who commit attacks and flee a clear capability gap exists.

The Military over the past few decades have focused on methods other than patrolling, as a way to deter, detect and pursue an elusive quarry. Scent Dogs, Sensors, cameras, and the use of UAV’s are some examples. Basic “field craft” skills have given way to the over reliance on technologies and dogs. This has dulled their natural human senses and ability to pursue their quarry.

Tracker275
11-14-2010, 09:44 AM
Oh, before you go ahead and bash the article JMA, just want you to know that you have already been taken into consideration before you start typing. It is already known that you will have nothing positive to offer so go ahead and type, but as far as I'm concerned...your posts will just be ignored by me, at the very least.

Just wanted to put that out for the record, because I don't feel like dealing with JMA's bashing without solutions for US military doctrine and training, particularly when he has not been in the US military.

felixdz
11-14-2010, 10:41 AM
Tracking is still formally taught to Royal Australian Air Force ADG's (aka ADGies. Airfield Defence Guards are similar to RAF Regiment in the UK or USAF Security Forces.)


ADG Tracking Training

As you progress in your career, you will have the opportunity to undertake advanced tracking courses to further enhance your skills as an Airfield Defence Guard.

http://www.airforce.gov.au/ADG/training.aspx

raymondh3201
11-14-2010, 12:17 PM
A good read on a skill that not many have aymore, thanks for the article.

William F. Owen
11-14-2010, 05:10 PM
From the paper...


Since 1948 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has employed Bedouin trackers. The entire Tracker Unit is made up of volunteers. What isn’t known to a lot of people, however, is that the Tracker Unit has lost more soldiers in combat proportionally, than any other IDF unit. The IDF has also started to employ trackers of Ethiopian descent.

True. All the IDF trackers I have encountered are Bedoiun. As far as I can tell it is pretty much a self selecting community, so the news that Ethiopian are tracking is a bit of stretch. Not impossible, but about 98% of Ethiopians doing their military service are born in Israel. They can fix your car with a toothpick, but I cannot see any reason why they should be able to track. None. Makes no sense.

Additionally, I'm all for teaching and proliferating a solid technical skill set, that can be taught. If someone can show me that being a "Tracker" is like being a medic, and personal skill helps, then OK. If not, then it just becomes another "self-petting black-art," like some (not all) consider sniping.
Otherwise, hire "Indig", and have a set of solid procedures to use them.

TYR
11-15-2010, 01:05 PM
I cannot see any reason why they should be able to track.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/ethiopians-replace-bedouin-as-idf-trackers-at-dimona-nuclear-site-1.5050

William F. Owen
11-15-2010, 01:37 PM
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/ethiopians-replace-bedouin-as-idf-trackers-at-dimona-nuclear-site-1.5050


Israel Defense Forces' tracker course at Beit Govrin were all born in Ethiopia, where they grew up in remote villages and herded cattle.

Well that would explain it. The Ethiopians born in Israel are about as "bush wise" as Madonna.
.....and you have to run out of luck to end up working near Dimona. A place that G*d forgot.

SJPONeill
11-16-2010, 09:42 AM
Top article...I jagged a bit at the statement "...Visual Tracking, at its very basic level is the natural predatory hunting instinct of man..." as the teaching has always (since Malaya) been that tracking is very much a skill that has to be taught as opposed to one that simply comes from an environment or way of life...from memory that's recorded in the 1 NZ Regt campaign history from Malaya BUT that's my only very minor criticism and it's probably very much a matter of opinion...

Tracking is a very important skill that has faded, or was allowed to fade as militaries distanced themselves from the 'failures' of the 60s and 70s, and one that should be taught in all land forces. Not just as a SF/SO or recon skill, although it must be maintained and developed there, but as a simple practical soldier skill...we used to run three day modules as tracker 'fams', along with combat survival and booby-trapping awareness, to give soldiers the basics of each of this skills. With good instruction and practice, some 25 years on, I still employ those basic skills on a regular basis.

There is a perception that tracking skills are only useful in low-intensity, irregular COIN-type environments, but in reality they are useful and employable skills across the spectrum of conflict...

JMA
11-16-2010, 02:28 PM
From the paper...



True. All the IDF trackers I have encountered are Bedoiun. As far as I can tell it is pretty much a self selecting community, so the news that Ethiopian are tracking is a bit of stretch. Not impossible, but about 98% of Ethiopians doing their military service are born in Israel. They can fix your car with a toothpick, but I cannot see any reason why they should be able to track. None. Makes no sense.

Additionally, I'm all for teaching and proliferating a solid technical skill set, that can be taught. If someone can show me that being a "Tracker" is like being a medic, and personal skill helps, then OK. If not, then it just becomes another "self-petting black-art," like some (not all) consider sniping.
Otherwise, hire "Indig", and have a set of solid procedures to use them.

As the quote from the newspaper article (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/ethiopians-replace-bedouin-as-idf-trackers-at-dimona-nuclear-site-1.5050) says:
To be a real tracker, you need to have grown up outdoors, preferably herding cattle," said a senior officer serving in the tracker unit.

Instead of "herding cattle" I would insert "hunting".

This is true and the absolute value of indigenous trackers should not be discounted. However, there are lessons to be learned about working with indigenous trackers and that is that they are often in it for the pay and seem (understandably) to tend to loose spoor when contact is imminent (they don't want to die). Now instead of trying to replace them with less skilled soldiers playing wannabe tracker better to instruct them to alert the (soldier) team when contact is imminent and then be replaced at point be the soldiers who should take it forward from there to contact. In this way you get the best out of them for the longest possible time.

JMA
11-16-2010, 02:33 PM
A good read on a skill that not many have aymore, thanks for the article.

There must be plenty of kids in the US and Canada who still grow up spending most of their time in the woods. Go out and find these guys and train them to be soldiers... the bonus being that they bring the tracking skills along for free... and can probably shoot too.

How one transfers this skill from continental North America to the Middle East or Afghanistan I don't believe it is possible but they would be the ones to work with locally recruited indigenous trackers, I guess.

JMA
11-16-2010, 02:38 PM
There is a perception that tracking skills are only useful in low-intensity, irregular COIN-type environments, but in reality they are useful and employable skills across the spectrum of conflict...

Would you care to explain this?

William F. Owen
11-16-2010, 04:26 PM
Would you care to explain this?

If he means "Ground Sign Observations," are applicable to all land warfare, then I'd agree.
When I was at the LRRP School, we actually had a guys show us how to "read tank tracks." You can/could broadly identify Soviet vehicles by their track and tire marks.

....plus there's a shed load of other pretty obvious stuff.

TYR
11-16-2010, 05:17 PM
SJPONeill,

I’m happy you enjoyed the paper. I am not a professional writer so please forgive me. The tracking skill I believe (just as you) is one that can be taught and not one that is gained simply by living in an environment or living a particular life style. It has been my personal experience that most people can be taught the skill, however after being taught what to observe for; it is up to the individual to continue to hone the skill. The fact is humans don’t just pop out of their mother’s womb and are magically gifted with the skill to track, it is a skill that is learned. Also just like any skill, in order to become proficient at it you have to continue to use it.

The purpose for writing the paper was to bring to light the advantages of the tracking skill set as well as the fact that the U.S. Army in particular wrote tracking into their Doctrinal publications, but do not train or employ the skill individually or collectively as part of their operations. On a positive note some individual soldiers who have been trained and continue to develop their skills have employed tracking during the conduct of their missions and have been very successful. Tracking just hasn’t been widely accepted or adopted by the military as a whole, regardless what their doctrine implies.

JMA
11-16-2010, 08:54 PM
If he means "Ground Sign Observations," are applicable to all land warfare, then I'd agree.
When I was at the LRRP School, we actually had a guys show us how to "read tank tracks." You can/could broadly identify Soviet vehicles by their track and tire marks.

....plus there's a shed load of other pretty obvious stuff.

Well hopefully he will expand on what he meant... as it was such a broad statement.

I would agree with you that the basics of tracking should be taught to (certainly) all teeth arm soldiers with the infantry receiving more attention. This leads to greater situational awareness on the battlefield. However, I agree with the quoted Israeli tracking unit officer (and so many others) that the environment the person comes out of indicates the level of tracking skill he can achieve as the basic tracking skill is already there and it is the military application that needs to be learned. (99% of city boys will never reach the required level.)

In addition while closely linked there is a difference between "scouting" and "tracking". While scouting and reconnaissance are much the same it is the fieldcraft/bushcraft/woodcraft skill which includes the ability to read sign which allows the scouting/reconnaissance team to gather more information.

I would suggest then that there are probably three levels in this training and it would start the fieldcraft/bushcraft/woodcraft "awareness" and introduction to tracking component which should be included in all basic infantry training and built upon by subsequent "refresher" courses between ops tours.

The specialist courses should then begin at the basic bushcraft and tracking course (which should include a survival component) and should run 3-4 weeks. (Commercial courses are shorter for very good commercial reasons) There should be some selection criteria for attendance.

The next level should probably be the advanced course which would probably require 16 weeks or so to develop tracking and tactical skills and qualify those attending to run "refresher" courses at platoon/squad/fireteam level. This is a course which should only be attended by those who have passed the basic course within a particular grade range.

SJPONeill
11-17-2010, 10:01 AM
Tyr,

If you are not a professional writer, rhen perhaps you should be...While I enjoyed the content, I also thought it was was written and well presented and my intention was not to criticise except for the one very minor point I raised initially. I think that visual tracking has lost the profile it deserves amongst conventional military thinking and I applaud you for articulating this so well.

JMA, in regard to tracking in a more conventional environment, essentially what Wild said....even the most basic tracking training provides an individual soldier (regardless of this background e.g. rural, urban etc) with an awareness of their surroundings that they otherwise might not have from standard training...this might be as per Wilf's example of identifying vehicles from their track marks to being able through post-mortem a scene based upon the remaining sign as per the examples in the paper to detecting changes/indications in surroundings that may indicate a potential ambush etc.

JMA
11-17-2010, 11:53 AM
JMA, in regard to tracking in a more conventional environment, essentially what Wild said....even the most basic tracking training provides an individual soldier (regardless of this background e.g. rural, urban etc) with an awareness of their surroundings that they otherwise might not have from standard training...this might be as per Wilf's example of identifying vehicles from their track marks to being able through post-mortem a scene based upon the remaining sign as per the examples in the paper to detecting changes/indications in surroundings that may indicate a potential ambush etc.

Thanks for the explanation. I agree.

That brings us to the point where the situational awareness brought about through improved theatre specific fieldcraft/bushcraft/woodcraft training (with all the benefits you allude to) diverges from the individual tracking skill.

Yes, all soldiers (even the city kids) benefit from bushcraft and introduction to tracking training. It makes them more aware and should be theatre orientated. But this does not make them trackers.

To interpret sign and follow spoor over various terrain types even when the enemy are anti-(counter)tracking at a "catch-up" speed that will lead to contact is not something anyone can do.

Leave the CSI work to those guys and get the trackers onto the spoor ASAP. Relieve them often, leap frog other teams forward, use dogs as appropriate (including hunting packs) and horses for speed over suitable terrain... use anymeans available! The aim is to close with and kill the enemy... this aggressive tracking to combat requires the skills developed over a lifetime. Leave the back tracking action to the amateur wannabes where time is not of the essence.

Etc etc...

SWJ Blog
12-13-2010, 02:40 PM
Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/12/visual-tracking-and-the-milita/)

Entry Excerpt:

Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability:
A Disappearing Skill and Misunderstood Capability
by John D. Hurth and Jason W. Brokaw

Download the Full Article: Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability: (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/622-hurthbrokaw.pdf)

Of all the potentially valuable skills in the military the one that is most commonly misunderstood and underestimated is Visual Tracking. Unfortunately most opinions are based on misconceptions within the civilian tracking community. Trackers who are teachers of a holistic form of tracking that focus their instruction on a spiritual aspect have crushed any true debate on the virtues of tracking as a military specialty skill. Visual Tracking is not an exclusive skill associated with the Native American, San Bushmen, Iban, or Dyak trackers.

Download the Full Article: Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability: (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/622-hurthbrokaw.pdf)

John D. Hurth is a retired United States Army Special Forces soldier.

Jason W. Brokaw currently maintains active military status with the United States Army Reserves, assigned to a special operations unit as a Signals Intelligence Analyst (35N).



--------
Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/12/visual-tracking-and-the-milita/) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

BushrangerCZ
12-26-2010, 10:46 AM
Sir,
Even with the proven tactical benefits of utilizing combat trackers, it's hard to get commanders approval to dismount, and pursue the enemy. The military, and the public to whom they ultimately answer, are afraid of high casualty counts. They mistakenly believe mounted patrol with MRAPs is the silver bullit. In reality, because of mobility issues, they become road bound, and easier targets. I don't even want to address, leaving body armor and helmets behind to lighten the load, and increase speed and mobility, and reduce water requirements, somebody might have a stroke. Or worse, the ACU uniform which is absolutely abysmal, seems effective only on the crushed rock floor of the FOBs.. Many an operator has dug deep into their pockets to purchase Multicam uniforms, or got back in BDUs to enhance their own survivability. When I attended tracking school over 20 years ago in Malaysia, we stayed in the field, live out of our rucksacks, and slept on the tracks. I can't imagine that happenlng here, although I belive that's how we will deny the enemy of his mountain santuaries, and focus our combat power more effectively. That said, there are some enlightend commanders, who understand the concept of combat tracking teams, to include an IED defeat organization. Consequently, I have stayed busy.

exactly... I can´t agree with the rule of mandatory ballistic all the time. Sometimes it´s actually endandering the soldier´s life more than protects, but we all know it. But those who could change this unhappy rule seem not to care much
PS: sorry for my english

BushrangerCZ
12-27-2010, 08:54 PM
Hi everybody,
Anyone knows about some decent tracking school in Europe? I found shadowhawk.co.uk in Britain plus some other british schools mainly focusing on wildlife tracking, and that´s pretty much all from whole continent. I found tracking extremely useful when deployed in A-stan, and I am trying to get some training in it. I do wildlife tracking by myself, and I read all I can about tactical tracking (D.S.Donelan´s and Jack Kearney´s books plus websites) but I would like to attend proper structured tactical tracking training. I have to pay for this by myself, and do it during my leave, so trip to US is financialy a bit off-limits for me. Any info on some good tactical tracking training conducted in Europe? Thanks
PS: Yes I tried to convince my superiors to send somebody to US to became regiment´s tracking instructor, but without success.

JMA
12-28-2010, 08:46 PM
Hi everybody,
Anyone knows about some decent tracking school in Europe? I found shadowhawk.co.uk in Britain plus some other british schools mainly focusing on wildlife tracking, and that´s pretty much all from whole continent. I found tracking extremely useful when deployed in A-stan, and I am trying to get some training in it. I do wildlife tracking by myself, and I read all I can about tactical tracking (D.S.Donelan´s and Jack Kearney´s books plus websites) but I would like to attend proper structured tactical tracking training. I have to pay for this by myself, and do it during my leave, so trip to US is financialy a bit off-limits for me. Any info on some good tactical tracking training conducted in Europe? Thanks
PS: Yes I tried to convince my superiors to send somebody to US to became regiment´s tracking instructor, but without success.

Thank you for the PM.

Well it does all start with animal tracking and it is the means how the tracking skill becomes an ingrained skill. Where does one start?

This course I believe is the benchmark: Samara Tracking Course (http://www.samara.co.za/tracking.htm)

Its a 1 year full time course and while it may contain other "nice to have" stuff it accepts that learners need the time and the repetition over the year and across the seasons to get it right.

They say:

The current knowledge of traditional tracking is mostly limited to the ‘identification’ and ‘following’ of an animal’s track on the ground. Historically, tracking encompassed a greater variety of ‘sign’. It integrates the interpretation of calls, scents, the presence of certain fauna & flora, situational awareness and the subtleties of animal behavior. A talented tracker must employ physical and mental focus in difficult conditions, over extended periods of time.

OK very few people have a year to spend on a tracking course unless they intend to become a game scout/guide for the tourist industry somewhere.

The other end of the spectrum are the commercial tracking courses which seem to be anything from a weekend, to a few days to a week or so. The market has probably dictated that thats about the amount of time and money people can or are prepared to spend (or can afford to spend) on a tracking course (especially if they are paying for it themselves). There is a place for these courses but whether the promised results can be guaranteed over such short periods is debatable.

From post number #125 above I quote:

Savory’s concept took native tracking and turned it into a military discipline. He argued that a soldier already skilled in patrols, ambushes and tactical maneuvering could better almost anyone in the man tracking game once trained in the necessary techniques. From Rhodesia’s SAS he selected eight men which he felt had demonstrated special potential to form a test group.

Savory put them through a Spartan, rigorous training program in the Sabie Valley adjacent to the Mozambique border. Eight weeks in the field, two weeks back in town and another eight weeks back in the bush was just enough to bring his men to what he felt was the required standard.

So in that Rhodesian context the 8 SAS members with the best tracking skills and potential needed 16 weeks of bush training was the minimum to achieve the required standard as a member of a tracker combat team.

Yes, some training is better than no training but a little training does not make a skilled military tracker.

I will ask some of my contacts what is available in the UK with a man-track component and get back to you.

Your enthusiasm and willingness to pay your own way probably means you are half-way there. I hope you achieve what you are aiming for.

Firn
06-01-2012, 03:11 PM
Jim Corbett, famous for his books on hunting maneaters, did lead jungle warfare courses for Burma in which tracking played a big role. While books like "Jungle lore" or the more well-known ones like Men-Eaters of Kumaon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-Eaters_of_Kumaon) only touch tracking they give a great insight into the mind of a great naturalist and sportsman. His great love for nature, his thirst of knowledge and his iron will coupled with great human qualities enabled him to finish the job where few dared to try and nobody else succeded.

It is of course important to point out that he basically grew up in the Jungle with "catapult", bow, muzzle loader and a 450 Martini rifle with which he bagged his first Leopard at the age of ten or eleven, stalking alone through a dense scrub jungle. He also had quite a range of good tutors from a very young age, from the his elder brother to local poachers. Such a skill set is of course rather difficult to match for men growing up in Western societies, but he seemed to be confident that his jungle training courses did make the soldiers very competent jungle fighters.

The stories are terrific and his attention to detail and his willigness to solve those "jungle detective stories" (or to bag alone a cunning man-eater) are amazing as well has his ability to think from the perspective of animals and other men alike. I personally tried to adopt some of his way of thinking into my hunting and I had good success although it is quite literally a different world here.

P.S: Interestingly the Elizabeth, which celebrates her 60th anniversary this year has become the Queen the night spend with Corbett in the "Tree tops" in Kenia, 1952. The day before the couple attended a polo match despite the "terrorist" threat. While the police guarded the event he felt nervous about a small scrubby creek leading right to the polo ground and checked personally the area for footprints, something which didn't seem to have come in mind of the security forces.

carl
06-01-2012, 05:52 PM
Firn:

Corbett's book also give an excellent idea of how well applied terror can affect people and their lives. In his books the terror is inflicted by tigers and leopards but groups of men stalking the darkness have the same effect. Robert Thompson recommended reading Corbett's books to understand the power terror inflicted by man or beast has.

JMA
06-01-2012, 08:57 PM
Jim Corbett, famous for his books on hunting maneaters, did lead jungle warfare courses for Burma in which tracking played a big role. While books like "Jungle lore" or the more well-known ones like Men-Eaters of Kumaon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-Eaters_of_Kumaon) only touch tracking they give a great insight into the mind of a great naturalist and sportsman. His great love for nature, his thirst of knowledge and his iron will coupled with great human qualities enabled him to finish the job where few dared to try and nobody else succeded.

It is of course important to point out that he basically grew up in the Jungle with "catapult", bow, muzzle loader and a 450 Martini rifle with which he bagged his first Leopard at the age of ten or eleven, stalking alone through a dense scrub jungle. He also had quite a range of good tutors from a very young age, from the his elder brother to local poachers. Such a skill set is of course rather difficult to match for men growing up in Western societies, but he seemed to be confident that his jungle training courses did make the soldiers very competent jungle fighters.

The stories are terrific and his attention to detail and his willigness to solve those "jungle detective stories" (or to bag alone a cunning man-eater) are amazing as well has his ability to think from the perspective of animals and other men alike. I personally tried to adopt some of his way of thinking into my hunting and I had good success although it is quite literally a different world here.

P.S: Interestingly the Elizabeth, which celebrates her 60th anniversary this year has become the Queen the night spend with Corbett in the "Tree tops" in Kenia, 1952. The day before the couple attended a polo match despite the "terrorist" threat. While the police guarded the event he felt nervous about a small scrubby creek leading right to the polo ground and checked personally the area for footprints, something which didn't seem to have come in mind of the security forces.

Agreed... and this book is to be found as a free download on the net.

For the yanks I suggest that Major F R Burham's 'Scouting on Two Continents' (http://www.amazon.com/Scouting-Two-Continents-F-Burnham/dp/B005E9UTXA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338583024&sr=1-1)is a must read in this regard. Burham's role in the early days of Rhodesia is the stuff of legends.

(Would be very keen to look at buying/exchanging for 'what you looking for' a copy of Burham's 'Taking Chances' (http://www.amazon.com/Taking-chances-Frederick-Russell-Burnham/dp/B0007EHTXA/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_3) - rare as hens teeth )

As a matter of interest I have recently been collecting historical data from my war and as you state above and as I have stated before it is confirmed that your premier bushcraft (woodcraft for the yanks) and tracking skills are to be found out there among kids who have grown up in the bush - on game reserves or on farms with wild game and/or in or near wilderness areas. That's where you find them... so shut down that Time Square recruiting office (which picks up the flotsam and jetsam of New York society) and send the recruiting sergeants out into the mountains and the deserts to find recruits who are worth something (in a military sense).

...oh yes and to get a wartime jungle flavour F Spencer Chapman's 'The Jungle is Neutral' (http://www.amazon.com/The-Jungle-Neutral-Soldiers-Two-Year/dp/1592281079/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338584448&sr=1-1) is essential reading.

JMA
06-03-2012, 11:32 AM
Agreed... and this book is to be found as a free download on the net.

For the yanks I suggest that Major F R Burham's 'Scouting on Two Continents' (http://www.amazon.com/Scouting-Two-Continents-F-Burnham/dp/B005E9UTXA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338583024&sr=1-1)is a must read in this regard. Burham's role in the early days of Rhodesia is the stuff of legends.

(Would be very keen to look at buying/exchanging for 'what you looking for' a copy of Burham's 'Taking Chances' (http://www.amazon.com/Taking-chances-Frederick-Russell-Burnham/dp/B0007EHTXA/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_3) - rare as hens teeth )

As a matter of interest I have recently been collecting historical data from my war and as you state above and as I have stated before it is confirmed that your premier bushcraft (woodcraft for the yanks) and tracking skills are to be found out there among kids who have grown up in the bush - on game reserves or on farms with wild game and/or in or near wilderness areas. That's where you find them... so shut down that Time Square recruiting office (which picks up the flotsam and jetsam of New York society) and send the recruiting sergeants out into the mountains and the deserts to find recruits who are worth something (in a military sense).

After posting this I went in search online for a copy of 'Taking Chances'. The prices are scary.

What I did find was the introduction to the book (http://www.pinetreeweb.com/burnham-on-bp.htm) on a Baden-Powell website.

Interesting I find this quote from BP by Burnham:


"... When I look at some of the recruits of our Army, many from the sterile fields of brick and mortar, it sends a shudder clear through me. The one ray of hope is that these recruits seem to retain an innate spark of courage. However, courage alone cannot suffice in the bitter strife ahead. Robin Hood would have had poor chance of recruiting his stout longbowmen from our great cities. Neither could your Indian chiefs have selected their warriors from stuff like your city-bred. A significant fact in your American military history is that roving bands of Indian warriors, often with meagre arms, turned back again and again great waves of armed white men in their westward march. It was over two hundred years before the last hostiles surrendered on your Pacific Coast."

Burnham agreed.

100 years later this is remains self-evident... but not obviously to the powers that be in the US and British militaries. Scandalous!

...oh yes and a quote from Burnham himself:


B.P. drew from me many facts of woodlore that I had learned in my boyhood, especially from life among the American Indians.

...but then again what the hell did Burnham know? Nothing some 'smart' city kid can't pick-up from a google search and by watching a few videos.

ganulv
06-03-2012, 11:59 PM
Interesting I find this quote from BP by Burnham:

"... When I look at some of the recruits of our Army, many from the sterile fields of brick and mortar, it sends a shudder clear through me. The one ray of hope is that these recruits seem to retain an innate spark of courage. However, courage alone cannot suffice in the bitter strife ahead."

I bet this was more of a commentary on the appalling state of the British urban working class’s health to the point that they were physically unable to soldier at all (http://db.tt/14oUaOPo), not simply unable to serve as trackers. I don’t think the modern-day recruiters in NYC have to deal with so drastic a situation. (Do they? (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Oct10/TooFatToServe.html))


"Robin Hood would have had poor chance of recruiting his stout longbowmen from our great cities."If I may be allowed a slightly off-topic niggle, surely Baden-Powell knew that you those bowmen weren’t recruited as men but rather trained up from youth (http://youtu.be/nCmuMQLBoog?t=14m57s)!

Dayuhan
06-04-2012, 04:06 AM
If I may be allowed a slightly off-topic niggle, surely Baden-Powell knew that you those bowmen weren’t recruited as men but rather trained up from youth (http://youtu.be/nCmuMQLBoog?t=14m57s)!

True, but traditionally the US has always had a substantial number of young people who may not have been trained in military marksmanship, but at least grew up with firearms, hunted regularly, and spent a lot of time in the woods. I realize that military marksmanship is different, but teaching it to someone who got a .22 for his 8th birthday and a .30-06 for his 12th, and grew up hunting and plinking, has got to be easier than teaching it to urban youth whose experience is limited to popping off a few rounds from a .38, if that.

Even more than the shooting, people who grew up with woods, mountains, swamps, rivers, etc are always going to find it easier to move in these environments and to hone the tracking and stalking skills they've already built through hunting.

We often get city guys up to these mountains who are very fit, in the sense of basic physical development, triathletes and serious runners who work out constantly. They still tire fast in rough terrain. They use far more energy over a given distance than someone who's used to that kind of movement. They are fit but they lack agility and are constantly correcting their balance. It wears them out. With equal physical training your country guys are going to go farther faster over rough terrain than your city guys.

Of course people who grew up not just playing in the woods but living off them are in a whole different category. I used to go out in the jungle with Aeta tribesmen in Zambales and Bataan, people who still get much of their food from hunting and gathering. They sense entire dimensions in that forest that are completely hidden to the outsider. Tracking for them isn't just about physical signs... based on the season, the weather, the time of day and multiple other factors they already know to within a very small margin where game will be. If they're following people all they have to know is the direction of movement and they can break off the trail and move (generally an easier way) to a point where the people they are following are going to be. They have a hard time explaining how they know... they just know. Pretty impressive to watch. This I don't think it's possible to teach... not that training is bad, but you'll never match that intimate link between people and terrain that you get with people who have grown up with a legacy of living off a particular area of land. I'm sure those people would lose much of that ability in a different place.

So I agree with JMA... your country boys are going to have a huge advantage, and a big headstart on the training curve, in learning to manage bush environments. On the other hand, would the city boys have a similar advantage in learning urban warfare?

In terms of military recruiting... I don't know the system enough to comment. Are the rural areas really being ignored? In terms of proximity to a large pool of potential recruits I can see the point in locating a permanent office in a city, but don't they at least move around showing a presence in the rural areas? Would be interesting to hear from people who know the system.

ganulv
06-04-2012, 05:00 AM
True, but traditionally the US has always had a substantial number of young people who may not have been trained in military marksmanship, but at least grew up with firearms, hunted regularly, and spent a lot of time in the woods.

Just a history buff’s aside about the difference between archers and musketeers. One of the drivers of the initial adoption of firearms was the saved cost in terms of training time. Longbows possessed an indirect fire capability and were more accurate, comparable in range, and much (much!) quicker to reload than 16th century firearms. With archers there are years of turning a human into a weapon whereas with musketeers there are months or less of teaching a human to use a weapon. [LINK (http://db.tt/G24Od6tP)]


I realize that military marksmanship is different, but teaching it to someone who got a .22 for his 8th birthday and a .30-06 for his 12th, and grew up hunting and plinking, has got to be easier than teaching it to urban youth whose experience is limited to popping off a few rounds from a .38, if that. Even more than the shooting, people who grew up with woods, mountains, swamps, rivers, etc are always going to find it easier to move in these environments and to hone the tracking and stalking skills they've already built through hunting.I don’t know about shooting—sometimes it’s easier to start with a blank slate than it is to unteach bad habits—but I assume any experience with tracking is a plus. I do wonder how transferable tracking skills are across environments, though. How long would it take a really good tracker from the Subarctic to become a good tracker in the jungle or desert? I suspect it would be something like learning a new language. The more languages you know when you start the more quickly you will pick a new on up, but nothing is automatic.

Firn
06-04-2012, 10:31 AM
The British study was quite interesting. It is amazing on how many levels the human is adaptable. Even the organism alone is subject:

1) Changes in the DNA sequence. It took us some time to evolve from the first traces of live to our current state. The pace of evolution can vary greatly due to the intrinsic base and the interactions with the (evolving) environment.

2) Epigenetics, from the Wiki:
In biology, and specifically genetics, epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence – hence the name epi- (Greek: επί- over, above, outer) -genetics. It refers to functionally relevant modifications to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, both of which serve to regulate gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence.

These changes may remain through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell's life and may also last for multiple generations. However, there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism;[1] instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently.[2]

Hunger during childhood can for example have an impact some generations down the road.

3) In your own livetime, living style and conditions have a big influence on your organism.


Anyway I bet that most of the offspring of those Grade IV males has quite a different problem, in this case too much of a good thing, food.

----

Corbett trained, IIRC 50 men at once, showing the high demand and the lack of trainers. Still he seemed to have been very confident that those guys learned a lot and would or had done well. As usual the abilities will have differend a great deal resulting in different skill sets with some being good at tracking, good and bad at other stuff and others being mostly not so good in most things.

ganulv
06-04-2012, 12:19 PM
It is amazing on how many levels the human is adaptable. Even the organism alone is subject:

A handful of researchers are doing some (to my mind, at least) very good work on this under the heading of ‘plasticity.’ Here’s a link (http://db.tt/24SKMV7C) to a relatively jargon-free presentation on the topic by my friend Greg Downey (http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/faculties_and_departments/faculty_of_arts/department_of_anthropology/staff/academic_staff-greg_downey) should you be interested.

Firn
06-05-2012, 07:58 PM
We often get city guys up to these mountains who are very fit, in the sense of basic physical development, triathletes and serious runners who work out constantly. They still tire fast in rough terrain. They use far more energy over a given distance than someone who's used to that kind of movement. They are fit but they lack agility and are constantly correcting their balance. It wears them out. With equal physical training your country guys are going to go farther faster over rough terrain than your city guys.

This is something which I have observed personally and I'm not the only one. Rough going in difficult terrain requires a more holistic skill set than sheer physical fitness trained in a less demanding environment like smooth roads. I grew up in a small mountain village and always enjoyed activities in the great outdoors. We get a great influx of tourists and while the conventional wisdom goes that going up is the main problem , which is true to a good extent, walking downwards is more problematic for many, especially younger persons. Walking along a rock strewn riverbed already wears many out mentally. Many are far too stiff and lack the sure foot and the technique. As kids we loved to run down slopes, especially when there were steep gravel ones. It is just like skiing or betterwedeln (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN1YTI5GZCk), keep your body slightly slightly angled sideways, low and balanced and make many small steps with the knees slighly bend, turing right and left. It is the smoothest way to descend very quickly.


Of course people who grew up not just playing in the woods but living off them are in a whole different category. I used to go out in the jungle with Aeta tribesmen in Zambales and Bataan, people who still get much of their food from hunting and gathering. They sense entire dimensions in that forest that are completely hidden to the outsider. Tracking for them isn't just about physical signs... based on the season, the weather, the time of day and multiple other factors they already know to within a very small margin where game will be. If they're following people all they have to know is the direction of movement and they can break off the trail and move (generally an easier way) to a point where the people they are following are going to be. They have a hard time explaining how they know... they just know. Pretty impressive to watch. This I don't think it's possible to teach... not that training is bad, but you'll never match that intimate link between people and terrain that you get with people who have grown up with a legacy of living off a particular area of land. I'm sure those people would lose much of that ability in a different place.

Corbett talks about his mental maps shared with his friends and that he and his poaching teacher, already a friend and shikari of his big brother Tom never failed even at night with sufficient moon to find the locations (of a kill etc) described to each other with a few worlds. The lay of the land does really greatly influence the movement and actions of animals and persons alike, for example we still observe how for example bears used the same trails and resting places used in historical records. While Europe may be the home of our Western civilization the forests in which I had my "catapult", bow, crossbow (selfmade) and (air)rifle days are now once again home to brown bears. Just recently a very big bear was observed which seems to hide just in that area where 200 years ago bears were shot. While I would be happy to have an ounce of that knowledge Corbett had you can sometimes be quite accurate about the behaviour of animals, although they will always keep surprising you. And if you read the signs of the woods you can really appreciate just how careful and cunning especially older hinds behave, for example when selecting their beds. Usually they are in places where most approaches are very difficult.

Dayuhan
06-06-2012, 02:32 AM
I read Man-Eaters of Kumaon before I was 10, and it made a huge impression. I remember prowling around a swamp with a .22 imagining that pheasants were tigers, a fantasy that on one occasion elicited a marked lack of sympathy from a game warden. Always wanted, but never got, a rifle in 7x57mm...

Digression, but I agree that growing up around mountains, woods, and rivers provides a base that's difficult to replicate any other way. It's like learning languages... they can be learned and taught later in life, but if you get to age 20 without having started, the learning is likely to be a slow and painful process.

JMA
06-06-2012, 07:06 AM
The context of this post is tracking... so scouting (in the original sense of the word) and recce probably fit well with context.

Baden-Powell and Burnham were mates. I posted Burnham's comments on BP and now this is what Baden-Powell says about his thoughts which led to the development of Boy Scouts across the world:


THE MATOPOS AND THE BOY SCOUTS

I suppose there is no more damnable country in the world for Scouting in than the Matopos.

But without scouting little could be done in the way of coming to grips with the enemy there.

The men of the Rhodesian forces rose to the occasion when, in 1896, the Matabele took to their fastnesses there.

With extraordinary pluck and endurance those Rhodesians succeeded in finally putting an end to their resistance in spite of the appalling difficulties of the terrain.

Their action taught me a lesson which has "borne fruit since then, not only throughout our Empire but in foreign lands as well. The spirit that makes a scout is the spirit that makes a man of the best type. The selfless devotion to duty, the exercise of keen-eyed observation and clever deduction, the patience and pluck and initiative involved in playing the game for their side and not for themselves exhibited by those Rhodesians showed me the qualities which ought to be encouraged in our boys as an essential part of their education.

The three Rs are all very well but they don't make MEN.

In these days of modern inventions, which tend to mollycoddle our lads, such training is more than ever necessary.

Boys long for adventure. Frontiersmen are their heroes. So it needed no great imagination to visualise that, give them the name of Boy Scouts, and teach them Scoutcraft and backwoodsmanship. You would have their enthusiastic response and you could mould them, body, mind and spirit, onto the desired model.

Thus it has come about that the spirit of the Pioneers of Rhodesia is not confined merely to their successors in the country but has spread itself across the world in ever-growing force among the oncoming generation of all nations.

Find the original letter here (http://rhodesianheritage.blogspot.com/2012/05/how-world-boy-scouts-movement-was-born.html).

These are the type of people who should form the basis and backbone of modern armies, go find them and draw them in to the service - and some time ago when I suggested that as enlistment incentives items like a hunting rifle, such kids can only dream of, with the latest, greatest model of the desired pick-up truck are offered, I was not joking.

Yes armies do need numbers when they mobilise for war and they draw their cannon fodder from the cities and towns. These 'scouting' types are a national treasure and must be nurtured and developed as such. They help provide commanders with the field intel to plan operations/battles for maximum effect with minimum losses.

PS: I am a city boy from Cape Town who joined up to fight the Rhodesian bush war. I worked with such people there but don't count myself among them and was smart enough to realise and accept that they were 20+ years ahead of me in terms of bushcraft (and I could never catch up) and I was better suited to fly in as the sledgehammer (with the other city lads) to deal with whatever their 'scouting' ability had found for us.

Firn
06-06-2012, 05:14 PM
Comparing the learning of tracking to that of languages comes rather close I think, as long as they are related somewhat. While I consider myself a poor tracker I did have some fun trying to spoor a bit in Namibia (not for hunting actually, at least not with a rifle) after having read like others the picture book about animal signs in that region. While the unfamiliar landscape left me rather clueless concerning even the a rough estimate of the time I was able to make baby steps. For example on the first rest day I ventured out after morning into the hinterland by jeep and found rhino tracks and followed them to some droppings. Rhinos were not supposed to be here but the were distinctive enough to believe my eyes. The tracks looked relative fresh but I was very uncertain but the droppings made it a lot easier as they clearly were fresh after opening them with a stick. Thanks to the local A4 sketch map given to us at the farm it was rather easy to match the direction of travel to a water hole. A small hill closeby (very sharp vulcanic rock) made for a great vantage point to glass the whole landscape which already was under the hot sun, but we could not find it, despite looking very carefully into the shadows of many isolated trees and scrub.

Driving back, before the gate a jeep (I saw it driving already from the hill) was parked on the side of the road with man talking with a walkie-talkie with another looking with binoculars south-west IIRC. Talking to him we understood that a Rhino had moved from a protected area into farmland. Giving him the information five minutes a old black walked out of the bush, talking in Afrikaans (making it a bit difficult to understand). We drove on and later got kindly the information from the farmer that the Rhino had left their land. This created of course among my fellow travelers an illusion of talent which I could not quite uphold.

This is just a poor example but it shows that knowing somewhat the logic, where and how to look and additionally the behavior of say our red deer helps a lot, and makes it easier to learn or integrate the new words or grammar. Maybe the relation between Italian and Spanish/French fits. All animals, among them we humans, have areas in which we feed, rest and so forth and routes within and in between. A red deer here in our mountains will rest during the day depending on the season and the weather shadowed rough gorges running towards a heavily populated valley or in high alpine sunny scrub. However at night he moves often to smaller or bigger openings and lays during digestion periods close by, as shown by the doppings in certain screened nearby areas. The Rhino follows different patterns, but it is much easier to understand its movements when you know the patterns of other animals, the more similar of course the better.

davidbfpo
06-06-2012, 07:06 PM
Firn,

A magnificent country Namibia, you are a lucky man to visit there.

JMA
06-06-2012, 07:18 PM
... For example on the first rest day I ventured out after morning into the hinterland by jeep and found rhino tracks and followed them to some droppings. Rhinos were not supposed to be here but the were distinctive enough to believe my eyes. The tracks looked relative fresh but I was very uncertain but the droppings made it a lot easier as they clearly were fresh after opening them with a stick...

With a stick?

Must use a finger to feel the internal temperature... to help judge the age.

And if you lick your finger afterwards you can figure out what the animal has been eating ;)

ganulv
06-06-2012, 07:52 PM
With a stick?

Must use a finger to feel the internal temperature... to help judge the age.

And if you lick your finger afterwards you can figure out what the animal has been eating ;)

A fellow l I know who was with SF in Vietnam told me he and his Montagnards would always make sure to keep their diets bland and local in the days before they were planning to go out to a hide site. I have often wondered if that did them any good beyond getting them in the right headspace. But of course plenty of amateurs can smell garlic and curry scents emanating from folks’ pores so I suppose there might have been something to it.

Firn
06-06-2012, 08:06 PM
With a stick?

Must use a finger to feel the internal temperature... to help judge the age.

And if you lick your finger afterwards you can figure out what the animal has been eating ;)

To be honest, as we traveled with ladies I wanted to keep it elegant - and as I said I consider myself to be a poor tracker.

Anyway the old black was a tracker (he picked up the spoor by the gate of a road according to guy with the walkie-talkie ) who seemed to spoke just Afrikaans. As I'm used to Europeans I had a difficult time to estimate his age but I guess he was around 50.

I got my first tracking guide at a very age, however the droppings outdoors really seemed often not to match the book. It took me a while to understand, despite having a own body that it depends a lot on the things you have been eating and your own health. For example deer droppings are almost always neat little cones in the books but you encounter also, especially in the summer quite different ones...

In general an open mind and the knowledge that animals (and humans, considering the topic) can surprise you with their behavior are key to understand the stories written into our environment. Corbett himself conceded readily that despite the best mental efforts usually the animal doesn't behave in the way one expects. For example starting from a mere furrow in the road he found an (animal) kill and located the rough locations of the animal, a tiger who made it. Doing his best to position himself to spot the highly prized and well known tiger he was quite surprised by the approach and by the identity of it.

---

To return to the topic Corbett offered to help to track down Sultana the Dacoit. This chapter of My India highlights some things which seem to never change. The dacoit, called the Indian Robin Hood by Jim had a vast number of informers organized into a neat intelligence net and moved at some stages daily camp, making it practically impossible to nail him down. Plans to capture him had to be kept secret until the last possible moment, informing the least amount of people necessary while other informations were leak on purpose. Villages had to be carefully avoided, even at night, and not just to risk no alarm from by the "best guard dogs of the world" the village pye. In the end it may not surprise some here that he was captured when he returned to spend another night in the same place...

Things may have turned out differently if Sultana had less scruple to take a life as Corbett later found out. Even in this case his tracker instinct proved right.

Dayuhan
06-07-2012, 12:58 AM
A fellow l I know who was with SF in Vietnam told me he and his Montagnards would always make sure to keep their diets bland and local in the days before they were planning to go out to a hide site. I have often wondered if that did them any good beyond getting them in the right headspace. But of course plenty of amateurs can smell garlic and curry scents emanating from folks’ pores so I suppose there might have been something to it.

The Aetas said that people who use soap and shampoo have a distinct smell, noticeable to them and much more so to game. That doesn't sound unreasonable.

I once saw an older Aeta guy stop, walk 50 meters off a trail to a tree, and announce that there was a bee hive there and they'd come back to gather the honey. He said he could smell the accumulated droppings at the base of the tree. If I put my face a few inches from the dirt I could smell them too. Of course it's also possible that he'd known about the hive before and was messing with me. They never wanted to accept money for guiding, so whenever I went to the village I'd buy all the honey (about the only salable commodity they had) and give it away as gifts. I think they came to the conclusion that I was some sort of honey fetishist.


To return to the topic Corbett offered to help to track down Sultana the Dacoit. This chapter of My India highlights some things which seem to never change. The dacoit, called the Indian Robin Hood by Jim had a vast number of informers organized into a neat intelligence net and moved at some stages daily camp, making it practically impossible to nail him down. Plans to capture him had to be kept secret until the last possible moment, informing the least amount of people necessary while other informations were leak on purpose. Villages had to be carefully avoided, even at night, and not just to risk no alarm from by the "best guard dogs of the world" the village pye. In the end it may not surprise some here that he was captured when he returned to spend another night in the same place...

We have a modern day version of Sultana living in Lubuagan, bit NE of here. Fellow named Corey Dickpus (not kidding), got on the Philippine most wanted list with behaviour that in his culture was appropriate. He was a village official and a group of lowland traders got in a disagreement and apparently showed disrespect. He and his guys killed them. A reward was offered, but nobody took it up, including the local police, all of whom come from the mountain tribes (there's a policy of assigning people from this area to this area). Some members of an elite national police unit decided to go up undercover (not so easy in an ethnically distinct tribal region), bring him in, and get the reward. They promptly got ambushed. He's still up there, no secret, but nobody wants to go after him. Not really an issue of tracking per se of course, just an example of how those local intel nets operate effectively to this day.

As far as I know the Philippine military have never recruited members of indigenous tribes as trackers, possibly because their relations with the tribes are generally not very good. During the Vietnam War the Navy had Aetas teaching jungle survival to pilots (smart move); some of the guys I knew still kept letters from pilots who had used those skills.

I once asked one of the Aetas what he thought of the former US military presence. The answer was "The Americans were good. When it was pay day, they paid."

Ken White
06-07-2012, 02:41 AM
A fellow l I know who was with SF in Vietnam told me he and his Montagnards would always make sure to keep their diets bland and local in the days before they were planning to go out to a hide site. I have often wondered if that did them any good beyond getting them in the right headspace. But of course plenty of amateurs can smell garlic and curry scents emanating from folks’ pores so I suppose there might have been something to it.The smart folks also stopped smoking, shaving and using soap, toothpaste etc at least three days prior. Some smokers -- a very few -- did not smoke at all while in Viet Nam; that odor is quite pervasive.

Drinking alcochol was also avoided as were clean clothes... ;)

ganulv
06-07-2012, 04:08 AM
Drinking alcochol was also avoided as were clean clothes... ;)

There’s something incredibly practical about how Mande hunters’ shirts (http://www.arthistory-archaeology.umd.edu/ARTHwebsitedecommissionedNov32008/webresources/courses/ARTH275/FA06/arth275%20images/finalimages/hunterinhisshirt.jpg) smell, hard as it may be for some to believe. :)

JMA
06-09-2012, 09:09 AM
A fellow l I know who was with SF in Vietnam told me he and his Montagnards would always make sure to keep their diets bland and local in the days before they were planning to go out to a hide site. I have often wondered if that did them any good beyond getting them in the right headspace. But of course plenty of amateurs can smell garlic and curry scents emanating from folks’ pores so I suppose there might have been something to it.

All this stuff presupposes that the people sent on these missions know what to look for and can interpret what they see (in terms of patterns of activity, etc)... and presupposes that their bushcraft and anti-tracking/moving without leaving sign will get them to the 'hide' undetected.

Sure the Montagnards could but ... honestly ... how many yanks? And after how long in-country?

JMA
06-09-2012, 09:36 AM
I bet this was more of a commentary on the appalling state of the British urban working class’s health to the point that they were physically unable to soldier at all (http://db.tt/14oUaOPo), not simply unable to serve as trackers. I don’t think the modern-day recruiters in NYC have to deal with so drastic a situation. (Do they? (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Oct10/TooFatToServe.html))

Winter writes well. Perhaps the following article is more interesting and germane?

Britain's `Lost Generation' of the First World War
Author(s): J. M. Winter
Source: Population Studies, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Nov., 1977), pp. 449-466
Published by: Population Investigation Committee
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2173368

If this piques your interest then it would lead you to the following book:

Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War (http://www.amazon.com/Six-Weeks-Gallant-British-Officer/dp/0297860062/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1339233716&sr=8-6&keywords=Six+Weeks)

... which in turn will lead you to the short play:

Journey's End a Play in Three Acts (http://www.amazon.com/Journeys-End-Play-Three-Acts/dp/0766193403/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339233951&sr=1-1&keywords=journey%27s+end+r.c.+sherriff)

... isn't the pursuit of understanding fascinating? ;)

ganulv
06-09-2012, 01:27 PM
All this stuff presupposes that the people sent on these missions know what to look for and can interpret what they see (in terms of patterns of activity, etc)... and presupposes that their bushcraft and anti-tracking/moving without leaving sign will get them to the 'hide' undetected.

Sure the Montagnards could but ... honestly ... how many yanks? And after how long in-country?

I suspect my friend got up to speed pretty quick. But being a coal miner’s son and indigenous himself he did have a bit of a head start on the other Yanks. :p


Winter writes well. Perhaps the following article is more interesting and germane?

Britain's `Lost Generation' of the First World War
Author(s): J. M. Winter
Source: Population Studies, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Nov., 1977), pp. 449-466
Published by: Population Investigation Committee
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2173368

If this piques your interest then it would lead you to the following book:

Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War (http://www.amazon.com/Six-Weeks-Gallant-British-Officer/dp/0297860062/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1339233716&sr=8-6&keywords=Six+Weeks)

... which in turn will lead you to the short play:

Journey's End a Play in Three Acts (http://www.amazon.com/Journeys-End-Play-Three-Acts/dp/0766193403/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339233951&sr=1-1&keywords=journey%27s+end+r.c.+sherriff)

... isn't the pursuit of understanding fascinating? ;)

Not apropos of the thread topic, but the vein of the (Not So) Great War, here’s an article about my hometown (http://db.tt/cFqjLtSt) if it’s of interest.

JMA
06-09-2012, 01:39 PM
I suspect my friend got up to speed pretty quick. But being a coal miner’s son and indigenous himself he did have a bit of a head start on the other Yanks. :p

... certainly yanks of the 'city slicker' variety ;)

JMA
07-29-2012, 06:59 PM
Extract from the book and article by Don Price and copied here from 'Africa's Commandos - new book on the RLI':


Principles of tracking - essential skills required to make a good tracker

1. Fitness - mental and physical stamina
A tracker is often required to be up-front and in the first line of fire. In order to do this time and time again, he must possess both mental and physical stamina. The enemy will always be some distance ahead and it is essential to make up this time and close the gap; the faster the gap is closed the quicker the enemy is engaged so peak physical fitness is vital.

2. Unusually keen eyesight and attention to detail
A good tracker usually has very good eyesight and picks up small details that the normal person might overlook. He notices things that are unusual to the situation – a broken twig, a piece of bent grass etc. Eyes have muscles and like other muscles in the body need constant exercise to achieve ultimate performance.

3. Common sense and good judgement
A tracker must show good common sense and judgment as he moves along the tracks. For example, by reading the lay of the land a tracker may anticipate a dry stream up ahead, so could move forward quickly and relocate the tracks which might save valuable time in closing with the enemy. On the other hand if the tracks appear to be slowing down he may want to speak to the controller and check out the area ahead to avoid ambush and so on.

4. Patience
Patience is extremely important as the enemy often employs anti-tracking techniques to confuse the tracker. An impatient tracker or soldier can easily ruin a follow-up very quickly if he cannot at times slow things down in order to read and appreciate the signs ahead. A ‘gung-ho, go-get-em’ type will inevitably ruin a good follow-up. Relocating lost spoor is a slow, methodical and deliberate process which can be very frustrating and annoying to an aggressive leader. Remember the old saying, “Slowly, slowly catch a monkey.” How true this is especially in tracking. Patience, displayed by both trackers, command and control alike, are prerequisites to successful tracking operations.

5. Aggression and motivation
By its very definition, tracking means aggressive and meaningful pursuit. Its very success depends on the ability to pursue, close with and destroy the enemy. A follow-up has a beginning, a middle and an end, and the end must be pursuant with your goals. The point is that without an aggressive spirit, the tracker may as well pack up and go home. As far as a good tracker is concerned, motivation must be a driving force that sees no barrier to operational success. The strange thing about tracking is that better results are always attained by better-motivated people.

6. Good working knowledge of conditions and terrain
An attribute of a good tracker is being able to fit into the terrain in which he is operating. Ahead of time a tracker should familiarize himself with the lay of the land, know where the main water-points are, the distribution of roads in the area, the type of terrain, wooded, open, populated with game, humans and so on. If a tracker is flown into a new and strange surrounding he must find out about the area before tackling the task. A local tribesman, for example, may be a useful addition to the follow-up group if he is sympathetic and friendly. The lesson here is simple: trackers must have a complete and accurate knowledge of the area they are expected to operate in. In his book The Neutral Jungle, Spencer Chapman wrote, “The jungle may be neutral, but it will certainly assist the tracker and give him a definite edge if he is able to manipulate the environment to his advantage.”

7. Stealth
Being able to move silently is what keeps you alive and a good tracker should be able to move quietly through the bush, gliding along without making much noise, using silent signals to communicate with his group of men. These signals should be practised until all the members fully understand the language, at least enough to communicate all the situations and reactions they are likely to be confronted with on a follow-up. A tracker’s kit and equipment needs to be designed and adjusted for the task: good footwear in the form of lightweight boots are essential as hard sled shoes crunch on leaves and twigs; water-bottles must be full so as not to make a sloshing noise; webbing snug and well fitting so as not to hamper the tracker if he suddenly has to run, dive, roll etc. All these things must be considered.

8. Tactical awareness
Always be alert. Know your enemy and know yourself. By this I mean appreciate your own capabilities, work on your weaknesses and understand the enemy you are hunting and tracking. The essential elements of trust, training, tactics and testing go a long way in attaining full tactical awareness which will enable you to do the right thing in the right place at the right time with the right tactics, to the right people, with the right effect, for the right reason. Remember, ‘Know your enemy, know yourself.’

davidbfpo
07-29-2012, 08:28 PM
This thread was entitled 'Combat Tracker Teams' till today and appears to mainly relate to training for combat tracking - in the Historians arena.

There were other relevant thread found on a simple search:

1) The Case for Combat Tracking Teams (in RFI)
2) Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability (SWJ Blog)
3) Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability (Trigger Puller)

All have now been merged here.

BushrangerCZ
05-03-2013, 04:57 PM
For anybody interested in this subject, I strongly recommend David Scott Donelan as an advisor and instructor.

jcustis
05-04-2013, 03:21 AM
I concur. I just wrapped up three days of training with Marines who are Donelan trained, and have a long tracking problem on Monday. It's not voodoo, and Donelan's principles work.

Firn
05-07-2013, 12:37 PM
The Complete Guide to Tracking: Concealment, Night Movement, and All Forms of Pursuit Following Tracks, Trails and Signs (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Complete-Guide-Tracking-Concealment/dp/0716022052/ref=pd_sim_b_1)

I actually have owned that book for quite a while now, but with the start of the hunting season I like to refresh mentally some of the basics. It helps a great deal to make use of your rifle and sometimes also after the shot your own or that of others.

Cheap and possibly even cheaper looking - not even basic pictures made it into the book - it is arguably the best manual I know and has helped me a great deal. A very well organized and structed book, it blends tracking with other fieldcraft important for a hunter and offers you an efficient path for learning and improving said skills.

The track pursuit drill with it's 7 steps is a no-nonsense approach to follow a track and to stalk. It helped me to slow down, hone my stalking and to increase my overall awerness. If you know the area well you can stalk well and pick up tracks to get a sense of the game patters. We have a vastly different situation from Austria and Germany as well from a good deal of Italy, with the red deer being very hard to hunt.

It goes very well with Practical Tracking (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Practical-Tracking-Following-Footprints-Finding/dp/081173627X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367928104&sr=1-1&keywords=Elbrochs) and Mammal Tracks & Signs (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mammal-Tracks-Sign-American-Species/dp/0811726266/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367928104&sr=1-2&keywords=Elbrochs). Fantastic books. The informations on lynx, bears and wolves are becoming highly relevant for my region.

German-speaking, European readers interested in local fauna should like Tierspuren erkennen & bestimmen (http://www.amazon.de/Tierspuren-F%C3%A4hrten-erkennen-bestimmen-Ohnesorge/dp/3809429988/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1367928192&sr=8-10&keywords=Spurenlesen) or Tierspuren&co (Tierspuren: Fhrten Fraspuren Losungen Gewlle und andere).

KenWats
06-17-2013, 05:24 PM
A fellow l I know who was with SF in Vietnam told me he and his Montagnards would always make sure to keep their diets bland and local in the days before they were planning to go out to a hide site. I have often wondered if that did them any good beyond getting them in the right headspace. But of course plenty of amateurs can smell garlic and curry scents emanating from folks’ pores so I suppose there might have been something to it.

All you have to do to prove this is show up at morning PT after a long weekend. You'll get the wonderful aroma of the alcohol of choice. :)

davidbfpo
02-13-2014, 08:50 AM
The title is from a Daily Telegraph journalist's adventure trying to avoid being tracked in London, offered as an adventure / adrenalin rush. Then a reference and short clip to a forthcoming Discovery Channel series.

Link to the article:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/10633292/Manhunt-my-crash-course-in-urban-evasion.html
The UK trainers:http://www.nationaltrackingschool.com/ and the UK Discovery Channel:http://www.discoveryuk.com/web/manhunt/

BushrangerCZ
02-16-2014, 08:54 PM
That Discovery show "Lone Target" with Joel Lambert is really lame for anyone who takes this stuff seriously. It´s funny show for civilian crowd. But I really liked the camera and scenery, especially in Arizona part, and sometimes they explain principle some of the techniques quite well (leapfrogging etc.). But show by itself is staged too obviously, and effort my Mr. Lambert is way weaker than what Chris Ryan did in his BBc show.