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Thread: Combat Tracking (catch all)

  1. #61
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    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.universityofmilitaryintel...tc/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”
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 11-06-2008 at 11:16 PM.

  2. #62
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    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.
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    Default Sst

    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.

  4. #64
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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

  7. #67
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SelousScoutsTracker View Post
    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.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    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.
    Last edited by JT Clark; 11-13-2008 at 06:40 PM.

  9. #69
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JT Clark View Post
    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.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    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?

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    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?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by JT Clark View Post
    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.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  13. #73
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    Default You two quit that. Don't you know that

    if you pull away the veil, remove the legend, don't drink Kool Aid, etc. that our mystique will be ruined? Totally ruined!!!

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    Well, you do know you have to be "at one with the spirit of the track," don't you?
    "Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." - Jeff Cooper

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    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 ) 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

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    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.

  17. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by JT Clark View Post
    "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. Edmond Locard (1877-1966) created the first forensic laboratory.
    Sam Liles
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    All opinions are mine and may or may not reflect those of my employer depending on the chance it might affect funding, politics, or the setting of the sun. As such these are my opinions you can get your own.

  18. #78
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think, if you dig into it, the disconnect

    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    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

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    Default That, too is true, U-Boat.

    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?.

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