Night Movement and Tracking Techniques along the Northern Border of Cambodia by RANGER Jerry Conners, Chinese Bandit 13...Spring 1966 DOD/ MACV/OP-35 directed Long-Range Reconnaissance Operations
The Chinese Bandits had been performing extended patrolling operationssince their arrival in Vietnam in the fall of 1965 and our SOP's,including mission preparations, had become routine as our teamwork constantly improved. Warning and operations orders were routinelygiven, however only some priority pre-insertion rehearsals, refreshertraining and other preparations were performed and were primarilyfocused on suspected enemy and indigenous population location reports,area studies, route navigation and night movement techniques.The tentative routes had been planned for night-only movement thatwould take place primarily along the ridgeline border of Cambodia orLaos and Vietnam with several routes extending eastward into smallvalleys and the adjacent hilltops. Contrary to policy, the routes andother critical control points were plotted in black pencil directlyonto the topographic maps that we would be carrying. Small penlightflashlights having a red tinted lens were carried by all team membersand would be used to read and analyze the maps during periods of darkness when necessary.A small wooded area was located near our Mustang LZ at An Khe where wewere billeted in tents. This tree area was used to conduct rehearsalsand other refresher patrol training exercises.For a few hours on the day and night prior to the long-rangereconnaissance mission, the Chinese Bandit LRRP team conductedrefresher drills to improve our track perception skills of on trailand off trail terrain. The drill that was the most beneficial requiredeach man to assume the front leaning rest position with their arms andhands extended in a manner which formed a small square opening betweenboth hands when the thumb tips met and were held perpendicular to themain body axis while the other fingers were oriented parallel. Afterexamining the area between the hands for one minute, each person wouldmark the limits of the square while kneeling on one knee afterremoving the small green colored Memorandum booklet and short woodlead pencil from their breast pocket and attempt to sketch what wasobserved in the square solely relying on their memory of what wasobserved. We would critique each individual sketch and strived todetect any missing details that were observed but not sketched. Duringthose drills that were conducted in darkness, the prone positioned wasomitted but the hand orientation used to delineate the square areathat was observed while kneeling where the penlight flashlight wasused to illuminate the area being evaluated and sketched.