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Thread: Combat Tracking (catch all)

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    Default Combat Tracking (catch all)

    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.

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    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.

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    Default Combat Tracker Teams

    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?

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    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.

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    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...

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    Default Combat Tracker Teams

    Very interesting ! Thanks for the info. Somehow in my reading of the Vietnam War I missed these teams .

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default Back in the day...

    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.

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    Default The Hunted

    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/
    Last edited by slapout9; 02-12-2007 at 02:47 PM. Reason: post link

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    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.

    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.

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    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.

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    Default The Prophet Hated Dogs

    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.

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    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.
    Mark
    Discuss at: The Irregulars Visit at: UW Review
    "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G. K. Chesterton

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    Tracking, it seems like such a simple, primitive and almost goofy tactic yet it works.

    -todd-

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    Combat films is that your company?

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    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.
    Last edited by Rifleman; 02-13-2007 at 04:07 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CFRtodd View Post
    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.

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    Default The Boon and Bane of Technology

    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.

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    Here's an interesting article that goes along with this thread:

    http://www.historynet.com/wars_confl...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!

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    Good read, Rifleman.

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