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Thread: Combat Tracking (catch all)

  1. #201
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default Always best to be downwind, but just in case…

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    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.
    Last edited by ganulv; 06-06-2012 at 07:59 PM.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  2. #202
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Firn; 06-06-2012 at 08:13 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  3. #203
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    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."
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  4. #204
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default True.

    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    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...

  5. #205
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Drinking alcochol was also avoided as were clean clothes...
    There’s something incredibly practical about how Mande hunters’ shirts smell, hard as it may be for some to believe.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    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?

  7. #207
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    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, 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?)
    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

    ... which in turn will lead you to the short play:

    Journey's End a Play in Three Acts

    ... isn't the pursuit of understanding fascinating?

  8. #208
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    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

    ... which in turn will lead you to the short play:

    Journey's End a Play in Three Acts

    ... 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 if it’s of interest.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    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.
    ... certainly yanks of the 'city slicker' variety

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    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.’
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-29-2012 at 08:41 PM. Reason: Copied here and opening sentence amended.

  11. #211
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Moderator at work

    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.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-29-2012 at 08:40 PM.
    davidbfpo

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    For anybody interested in this subject, I strongly recommend David Scott Donelan as an advisor and instructor.

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    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.

  14. #214
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    The Complete Guide to Tracking: Concealment, Night Movement, and All Forms of Pursuit Following Tracks, Trails and Signs

    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 and Mammal Tracks & Signs. 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 or Tierspuren&co.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-07-2013 at 12:54 PM. Reason: Copied for reference from What are you reading now? thread.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    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.

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    Default Manhunt: my crash course in 'urban evasion'

    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/activ...n-evasion.html
    The UK trainers:http://www.nationaltrackingschool.com/ and the UK Discovery Channel:http://www.discoveryuk.com/web/manhunt/
    davidbfpo

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    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.

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