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Thread: Combat Tracking (catch all)

  1. #161
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    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):



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



    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.
    Last edited by JMA; 09-03-2010 at 07:38 AM.

  2. #162
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default In Viet Nam, the tracking Labs were typically run on a long leash,

    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.
    Last edited by Ken White; 09-04-2010 at 02:39 PM. Reason: Addendum.

  3. #163
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Way back to the 1980's

    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    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 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.

  5. #165
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    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

  6. #166
    Council Member Tracker275's Avatar
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    Default Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability

    URL to Download Article: Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability: A Disappearing Skill and Misunderstood Capability


    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.
    "There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.” - Ernest Hemingway

  7. #167
    Council Member Tracker275's Avatar
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    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.
    Last edited by SWCAdmin; 11-16-2010 at 04:12 PM.
    "There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.” - Ernest Hemingway

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    Default Tracking still formally taught in Australia

    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

  9. #169
    Registered User raymondh3201's Avatar
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    Default

    A good read on a skill that not many have aymore, thanks for the article.
    Death Sanctions All Mistakes

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    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.
    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

  11. #171
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    Default Ethiopians replace Bedouin as IDF trackers at Dimona nuclear site

    I cannot see any reason why they should be able to track.
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition...ar-site-1.5050
    "Soldiers who are lacking in basic training, discipline, poor leadership and inadequate command and control will not be able to win wars with technology and firepower alone. When their technology fails, they will find themselves in a vacuum they cannot easily extricate themselves from."- Eeben Barlow

  12. #172
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    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.
    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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    Thumbs up

    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...
    Last edited by SJPONeill; 11-16-2010 at 09:43 AM. Reason: T is for typos

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    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 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.
    Last edited by JMA; 11-16-2010 at 02:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by raymondh3201 View Post
    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.
    Last edited by JMA; 11-16-2010 at 02:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJPONeill View Post
    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?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    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.
    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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    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.
    "Soldiers who are lacking in basic training, discipline, poor leadership and inadequate command and control will not be able to win wars with technology and firepower alone. When their technology fails, they will find themselves in a vacuum they cannot easily extricate themselves from."- Eeben Barlow

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    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.

  20. #180
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    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.

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