TACTICAL TRACKER ARCHIVE
Basic Tracking For The Sniper
the Army FM on Sniping covers tracking skills pretty well, I will simply
discuss integrating those skills into a mission.
I am not a master tracker, but have found that using what little
bit I know about it can help the unit a lot in terms of intelligence and
help out my fellow Snipers by helping us hunt down our targets.
start by getting an S-2 update on known/suspected enemy activity in your
Area of Operations (AO). This
will help you analyze tracks you find although it shouldn't dominate your
you find a set of tracks, establish a SLLS halt.
(that's stop, look, listen, smell and watch your perimeter!).
After being satisfied that the track makers are not in the
immediate area carefully move forward for a look.
Make sure you have someone covering you and don't step out in the
I won't cover the stuff already written in the FM's that you can get
online, but gather the following information;
there is probably a better format out there in the FM or elsewhere.
in the report then move away a safe distance from the site and after
setting up security, pull out your map.
Plot the location and direction of the tracks, to include their
back azimuth. Think about the
intelligence you have and the situation and see if you can make a
reasonable guess about where they are coming from and where they are
going. Are they headed
towards a danger area where you can be waiting for them?
if you don't pursue them, you have gathered/reported a valuable piece of
information which can be fitted into the bigger picture by the S-2. You have learned something useful yourself.
Scouting an area for the enemy, you can identify terrain in which someone
is going to leave tracks in because the ground is soft.
Some people call these traps.
The enemy has to have water, just like you do and they have to
cross rivers/streams somewhere. Where
would you do it if you were leading an Infantry Patrol? Does the S-2 have any info on enemy routes or tactics that
can help you?
you decide to follow the tracks, be careful!
We are not the only people in the world who set up rear security or
double back on their trails. Use
your knowledge of the enemy's direction of travel, situation, tactics and
terrain to try and help you estimate where they are headed.
useful information can be gathered even if significantly behind the enemy
patrol by studying the sites in which they halt, set up patrol bases etc.
Each should be thoroughly and carefully studied and reported when
if at all possible, don't attempt to track them down and hit them.
I say this because I know that I am an amateur tracker and
understand the risks involved. Better, get another element to get in front of them and
others to their flanks to set up ambushes in favorable terrain. Who knows, they may come running back past you breaking
contact en route to a rally point. Good
opportunity to maximize confusion and break a unit's moral.
Hitting a leader who is trying to reorganize and consolidate a unit
that has already fallen back can deal a strong psychological blow to the
entire unit. Especially from
an unseen foe (you) who seemed to operate with impunity.
On the other hand, it could really piss them off, so don't stick
around very long.
patient, snipers don't rush in, track someone down and engage from 100
meters out. Wait for the best
opportunity and feel good that if they don't know you are behind them, you
have a tremendous advantage.
tracking stick can be useful to stay with an enemy element which, due to
its small size, or the terrain is not leaving a clearly seen set of
a stick at least the length of a stride.
Put the end of the stick at the base of the heel on a print and
slide a rubber band up the stick where the print's toe is.
This should allow you to put the bottom of the stick over the end
of a print and have the rubber band end at the toe, showing the exact size
of the print.
point the stick towards the next set of prints and slide a rubber band
over the base of the heel of next print.
In this manner when you put your stick over a base print, the
rubber band on the front of the stick should be located over where the
next set of prints will be.
It should look something like this:
| PRINT#1 |
(length of stride)
| PRINT#2 |
moving up from the base print to examine the subsequent set of tracks,
look for the print, displaced vegetation or soil, scrapes or marks on
trees higher up and so on. There
is plenty of sign to look for rather than just the prints, and the prints
point you in the direction of travel.
can tell a lot about the enemy from his sign.
When he halts does the sign indicate that they establish security
behind good cover and concealment? Do
they leave trash? (a good
item for intelligence). Do
they dogleg their route? Do
they cross or skirt danger areas? All
this is great intelligence even if you do nothing more than pass it on.
I am far from a master tracker, but just this little bit of knowledge and
making the teams practice it and report it on the radio and debriefs will
develop them into much better snipers and provide a real benefit to the
***NOTE*** This article was originally posted in SNIPER COUNTRY. This article can be viewed their, as well as other extensive articles about sniper craft.