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Old 02-19-2007   #21
Maximus
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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..."
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Old 03-06-2007   #22
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Default Marine Tracking

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.
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Old 03-06-2007   #23
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Default They also have a website !

A great link here:

Quote:
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/
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Old 03-07-2007   #24
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Default In Arizona Desert, Indian Trackers vs. Smugglers

7 March NY Times - In Arizona Desert, Indian Trackers vs. Smugglers by Randal Archibold.

Quote:
... 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...
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Old 03-10-2007   #25
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Default Tactical Tracking

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/

Last edited by Jedburgh; 07-10-2007 at 06:57 PM. Reason: Merged Posts
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Old 07-10-2007   #26
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Default Combat/Tactical Tracking

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!
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Old 07-10-2007   #27
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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.
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Old 07-10-2007   #28
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Vietnam Archive Oral History Project Interview with Neil Couch
Quote:
...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...
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Old 07-11-2007   #29
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Default Scout/Tracker

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.
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Old 07-11-2007   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taldozer View Post
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.
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Old 07-18-2007   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taldozer View Post
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.
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Old 10-28-2007   #32
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Default combat trackers

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
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.

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Old 10-28-2007   #33
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Default tom brown

Quote:
Originally Posted by carl View Post
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.
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Old 10-28-2007   #34
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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.
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Old 10-28-2007   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu Buckwheat View Post
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.
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Old 03-04-2008   #36
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Thumbs up Combat Tracker Teams

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

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
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Old 08-14-2008   #37
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Default combat tracking GWOT

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.
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Old 08-14-2008   #38
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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?
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Old 08-14-2008   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
... 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.
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Old 08-14-2008   #40
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... 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?
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