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GreenToBlue
9 March 2009, 09:43
I have heard good things about Tom Brown's tracking school and have read through a few of his books and field guides. I have wanted to attend the school for sometime now and finally have the opportunity to enroll in his standard, advanced standard, and tracking awareness class this May.

But before I navigate the bureacracies of the Military Academy in an attempt to get money and approval to attend, or potentially dropping $1800-$2700 of my own money to attend this school I wanted to get some second opinions:

Specifically, I need to make a damn good argument that this school is relevant, and beneficial to my development-- I was just wondering if their are any units/organizations that are sending their guys to this course, what their experiences are, and how it has been beneficial to their unit in terms of practical application in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I'm just trying to get some good training, but first I got deal with "the Man".

Also,Any POCs on the subject would be very helpful.

Stanley_White
9 March 2009, 18:21
Specifically, I need to make a damn good argument that this school is relevant, and beneficial to my development

Beneficial to your development as what?

If you're at the USMA I assume you're trying to become an Officer?

How will tracking skills help you lead your men?

Blackjack78
9 March 2009, 18:31
Beneficial to your development as what?

If you're at the USMA I assume you're trying to become an Officer?

How will tracking skills help you lead your men?

By 1st finding them? :).

Xdeth
9 March 2009, 19:14
By 1st finding them? :).

Nice one :)

Massgrunt
9 March 2009, 19:15
A reversal on the whole "keep talking sir, we'll find you!" joke. :biggrin:

GreenToBlue
9 March 2009, 22:03
By 1st finding them? :).


Yeah, yeah... you can't spell lost without LT right?

I was just thinking the Tom Brown school might provide some baseline skills I can carry apply to my field training here, Ranger School, and the SERE course.

I have been told my some here that there is absolutely no relevance the Tracker School has to anything I will be doing in Afghanistan or Iraq (in other words "you're wasting your time"). I am just wondering if that is true.

Seems to me survival skills are one of those things you may never need, but if you do you're glad you have them.

BadMuther
9 March 2009, 22:07
I've heard great things about the school and Tom Brown (a buddy was a assistant instructor).

The kind of skills they teach will definitely be an asset, though not a necessity. You might need to fork out of your own pocket if you want it so bad.

I'm confused as to who you want to pay for this training?

GreenToBlue
9 March 2009, 22:14
Beneficial to your development as what?

If you're at the USMA I assume you're trying to become an Officer?

How will tracking skills help you lead your men?


Affirmative-- when I leave here I will commission a 2LT and hope to go light with the 82nd down at Bragg. (We select branch and post through class rank so that could change... ). So, short term my responsibilities will be a PL, Company XO etc.

After that, I hope to submit my packet for selection-- but that will be a few years in shortly before becoming an 0-3. That's the plan... but my immediate focus is my PL time.

SOTB
9 March 2009, 22:21
If I were a soon-to-be-commissioned ground-pounder 2nd LT, I'd be far more interested in getting into something like a CAS, NGF, or other indirect-fire course....

GreenToBlue
9 March 2009, 22:35
I've heard great things about the school and Tom Brown (a buddy was a assistant instructor).

The kind of skills they teach will definitely be an asset, though not a necessity. You might need to fork out of your own pocket if you want it so bad.

I'm confused as to who you want to pay for this training?

West Point appropriates funds for various Summer Training and Academic opportunities. This includes everything from semester abroads, internships with active army units, academic trips called AIADs, in addition to army schools like airborne, air assault, SERE, Sapper, etc.

For example, Cadets were sent to the Blackwater Carbine courses last summer, one of the academic trips is a 3-week trip to AFRICOM head quarters and Germany studying COIN/Irregular warfare, we send cadets on cultural immersion programs to develop their respective languages, and there are internships for everything from spending the summer working with Jay Leno to working with SF units down at Bragg.

The way that works is a pretty complicated process-- but basically, you put in for preferences and based on your GPA,blah blah blah you get selected for slots to various summer assignments. Those slots fit in time blocks, and any left over time is your "leave." That's the official process-- there is under the table dealing and "drug deals" that many Cadets use to get more training or change training. (i.e. Internship with SF or the 160th SOAR over an internship in Korea with the Signal Corps or something)

So, if you can provide good solid reasoning for attending "extra-curricular" schools-- often time West Point will pay the check for you to go. But it is a fight.

My situation is-- I have already gotten my summer assignments and I have a lot of left over time. I am trying to crunch dates to attend some other schools as opposed to taking Leave-- so I've been looking into VTAC, CSAT, T1G, Griphion Group, Blackwater (Xe Worldwide), and.. Tom Brown's Tracker school as some possible avenues to get in some extra work.

A little long winded... but hopefully that clears up where the money comes from and how the process works.

GreenToBlue
9 March 2009, 22:46
If I were a soon-to-be-commissioned ground-pounder 2nd LT, I'd be far more interested in getting into something like a CAS, NGF, or other indirect-fire course....



Absolutely, I would be all over it. But the question is how? And who?

I am relatively new to the Army-- so I am still learning about what's available out there. I have never heard of Cadets being sent to any indirect-fire courses. That doesn't mean it is not a possibility it just means I would have to take some initiative and get a POC with that school, convince them into letting me attend that school and go to West Point with a plan of action.

Horned Toad
10 March 2009, 03:01
I have heard good things about Tom Brown's tracking school and have read through a few of his books and field guides. I have wanted to attend the school for sometime now and finally have the opportunity to enroll in his standard, advanced standard, and tracking awareness class this May.

But before I navigate the bureacracies of the Military Academy in an attempt to get money and approval to attend, or potentially dropping $1800-$2700 of my own money to attend this school I wanted to get some second opinions:

Specifically, I need to make a damn good argument that this school is relevant, and beneficial to my development-- I was just wondering if their are any units/organizations that are sending their guys to this course, what their experiences are, and how it has been beneficial to their unit in terms of practical application in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I'm just trying to get some good training, but first I got deal with "the Man".

Also,Any POCs on the subject would be very helpful.

I will start off by saying I have not been to one of Tom Browns classes. I attended a course by a former instructor of his http://www.onpointtactical.com/. The class I got was a good refresher and tied some things together that I have observed while tracking over the years. I have been tracking for a while so nothing there was earth shattering in the course, but I picked up some good info.

The one complaint I hear with TB classes is that he gets over into the zen Native American stuff to much. If I can find the time this is where I would like to go take some classes.
http://www.tacticaltracking.com/site/

BadMuther
10 March 2009, 03:06
West Point appropriates funds for various Summer Training and Academic opportunities. This includes everything from semester abroads, internships with active army units, academic trips called AIADs, in addition to army schools like airborne, air assault, SERE, Sapper, etc.

For example, Cadets were sent to the Blackwater Carbine courses last summer, one of the academic trips is a 3-week trip to AFRICOM head quarters and Germany studying COIN/Irregular warfare, we send cadets on cultural immersion programs to develop their respective languages, and there are internships for everything from spending the summer working with Jay Leno to working with SF units down at Bragg.

The way that works is a pretty complicated process-- but basically, you put in for preferences and based on your GPA,blah blah blah you get selected for slots to various summer assignments. Those slots fit in time blocks, and any left over time is your "leave." That's the official process-- there is under the table dealing and "drug deals" that many Cadets use to get more training or change training. (i.e. Internship with SF or the 160th SOAR over an internship in Korea with the Signal Corps or something)

So, if you can provide good solid reasoning for attending "extra-curricular" schools-- often time West Point will pay the check for you to go. But it is a fight.

My situation is-- I have already gotten my summer assignments and I have a lot of left over time. I am trying to crunch dates to attend some other schools as opposed to taking Leave-- so I've been looking into VTAC, CSAT, T1G, Griphion Group, Blackwater (Xe Worldwide), and.. Tom Brown's Tracker school as some possible avenues to get in some extra work.

A little long winded... but hopefully that clears up where the money comes from and how the process works.


Thanks, I figured it was something like that, but I appreciate the info. Good luck!

NWPTrainer
10 March 2009, 04:39
I'm a piss-poor tracker myself, unless I'm looking for cattle in the Missouri River Breaks, or juniper-choked canyons in Utah, but....

I've had some serious conversations with a fella that was involved with a manhunt for a couple of guys here in Montana, back in the eighties. The word I got was, TB "couldn't track runny shit comin' outta his own asshole."

Granted, that was second-hand, but the source is someone I personally trust.

Besides, as someone pointed out, TB is WAY too into the heebie-jeebie Native philosophy shit. Any guy that claims he can track a bird that FLEW by, kind of sets my spidey-sense a-tinglin'.


My personal issue with his story has always been, "How the fuck did he get mentored by an old Apache, in New Jersey?"

HKUSP45
10 March 2009, 08:47
GreenToBlue:

Of the courses you listed as available, either a shooting school (T1G or Xe) or Gryphon Group would be the most applicable no matter where you are. I'd sure be interested in my PLT CDR knowing firsthand what is realistic to expect and what is not, and those schools give you a great idea. Gryphon Group, in particular, will give you the basics of what to have your men do in a vehicular ambush, like what side to cover on, etc. Those are skills you can use anywhere.

HK

RAT
10 March 2009, 10:09
IMHO... You should start on working on being a LT. None of these schools will be worth a shit if you get one of your troops killed.

You are NOT going to be a POINT MAN, you are NOT going to be #1 guy going into a room, you are NOT going to be doing the HUMMVEE PM's... I can go on and on, on what you are NOT going to do.

Learn how to lead and be a good leader. This will be if greater vaule when young people (Not much younger than you) are going to need a pick-me-up or are going to need direction. USMA will teach you some skills some they will not. I would work on the skills that you will not pick up.

Learn to be lead, then become a great leader... There are no tracking course that teach that.

RO!!!

CV
10 March 2009, 12:35
x2 on what RAT said. There is also a whole slew of resources for young leaders on the internet and AKO. Read books on leadership as well; John C. Maxwell has some great ones as well as any of the numerous military leadership reading lists. Your interest in tracking surprised me a lot. Take the guidance you find here and run with it because you will look back one day and appreciate it.

Jimbo
10 March 2009, 14:00
My situation is-- I have already gotten my summer assignments and I have a lot of left over time. I am trying to crunch dates to attend some other schools as opposed to taking Leave-- so I've been looking into VTAC, CSAT, T1G, Griphion Group, Blackwater (Xe Worldwide), and.. Tom Brown's Tracker school as some possible avenues to get in some extra work.

Talk to these folks and see if you can hang out at their office for some of your time. Summer in DC is intern season.

http://www.ndcf.org/

Blackjack78
10 March 2009, 21:43
Yeah, yeah... you can't spell lost without LT right?

I was just thinking the Tom Brown school might provide some baseline skills I can carry apply to my field training here, Ranger School, and the SERE course.

I have been told my some here that there is absolutely no relevance the Tracker School has to anything I will be doing in Afghanistan or Iraq (in other words "you're wasting your time"). I am just wondering if that is true.

Seems to me survival skills are one of those things you may never need, but if you do you're glad you have them.

I was just teasing you. I wish you all the best in your career and I thank you for your service.

TerribleTed
11 March 2009, 21:52
Yeah....

Technology has pretty much made the whole man-tracking thing (looking for bent blades of grass or scrapes in the dust) pretty much moot. There are now many different way's to track a bad guy.

Interesting skill to have, but so is shooting a muzzleloader.

Horned Toad
12 March 2009, 10:25
Yeah....

Technology has pretty much made the whole man-tracking thing (looking for bent blades of grass or scrapes in the dust) pretty much moot. There are now many different way's to track a bad guy.

Interesting skill to have, but so is shooting a muzzleloader.

Technology is really cool except when you donít have it. There are thousands of BP Agents using tracking skills daily on the southern US border.

ExSquid
12 March 2009, 23:13
My $.02, if you really want a tracking course, get the USMA to send you to the Combat Tracking Course at Fort Huachuca AZ. It is conducted by civilians under a contract to the University of Military Intelligence. Course NCOIC Office: 520-538-4338.

On a side note, I want my leaders to be "Renaissance Men." Meaning, I do not expect them to me a technical expert in anything, but I want them to have a broad base of experiences. Good fieldcraft is always a plus to any soldier.

x/S

Fred
13 March 2009, 05:54
Guys that went here liked it: http://www.primitivesupply.com/about.htm

And for the record, they said proselytizing wasn't an issue. This is more general fieldcraft/survival. You can't lead anything if you are a soup sandwich in the field, nothing wrong with a little street cred. IMO you can do internships in think tanks and brain trusts like the NDCF when you get closer to field grade. Nothing more annoying than a 2nd lt/ensign schooling his privates on the revolution in military affairs or 6th generation warfare when he hasn't gotten to know their favorite beer yet. Disregard if you are vying to be the next Wes Clark, then by all means spend every summer at Rand and the CFR.

Silverbullet
13 March 2009, 06:04
Good post Fred.

Mgo79
13 March 2009, 06:24
My $.02, if you really want a tracking course, get the USMA to send you to the Combat Tracking Course at Fort Huachuca AZ. It is conducted by civilians under a contract to the University of Military Intelligence. Course NCOIC Office: 520-538-4338.

On a side note, I want my leaders to be "Renaissance Men." Meaning, I do not expect them to me a technical expert in anything, but I want them to have a broad base of experiences. Good fieldcraft is always a plus to any soldier.

x/S

X2 More relevant to the military and current situation tracking skills.

Fred
13 March 2009, 17:57
I'll follow up by saying I am and always have been a detractor of sending Os to focused tactical training like sniper or comm school, because it is a waste of time and a billet. Want to be a sniper? Enlist. General fieldcraft training is a different story, though.

HKUSP45
13 March 2009, 18:34
I'll follow up by saying I am and always have been a detractor of sending Os to focused tactical training like sniper or comm school, because it is a waste of time and a billet. Want to be a sniper? Enlist. General fieldcraft training is a different story, though.

Darn right. The last thing I needed was an 0-3 telling me how to do my job 'cause he had 3 days of training in the subject.

However, you're right on the "general fieldcraft" point, too. It's important for the CDR to know what is realistic and what's not.

HK

Jimbo
13 March 2009, 23:43
Guys that went here liked it: http://www.primitivesupply.com/about.htm

And for the record, they said proselytizing wasn't an issue. This is more general fieldcraft/survival. You can't lead anything if you are a soup sandwich in the field, nothing wrong with a little street cred. IMO you can do internships in think tanks and brain trusts like the NDCF when you get closer to field grade. Nothing more annoying than a 2nd lt/ensign schooling his privates on the revolution in military affairs or 6th generation warfare when he hasn't gotten to know their favorite beer yet. Disregard if you are vying to be the next Wes Clark, then by all means spend every summer at Rand and the CFR.

Point taken on the street cred issue (wills is a great example of that IMO). In defense of the think tank recommendation: NDCF ain't RAND or CFR. My recommendation is based on that in my experience, NDCF imparts a much better understanding of insurgency than USMA. And our military's officer Corp remains more woefully underprepared in that area (arguably a core competency) than they do in tracking.

KUTF
18 March 2009, 07:06
Brown's Standard Course is VERY heavy on his version of Native American lifestyle and philosophy.

Besides the philosophical indoctrination, it's an introduction to all the field-skills subjects: tracking, traps/snares, skinning/tanning, general primitive living/survival, etc. Enough to get you to say "Hey, I'd like to take that course, and the other one, and that one too"...

IMHO, you will not learn enough about tracking to put it into any practical use without significant self-study or follow-on courses. Tactical tracking is not even a consideration in the Standard Course.

The student make-up is heavily represented by granola-earth-mother types and civilian outdoor enthusiasts.

I don't think any of the skills you learn there will better prepare you for leading Soldiers as a combat-arms officer. Unless of course you need to construct a bow-drill to start a fire, build a debris shelter or commune with Mother Earth or something...

Kevin Reeve, now of onPoint Tactical Tracking as mentioned above, was the lead instructor when I attended the Standard Course. Good instructor, but frankly not the most athletic guy.

All that said, if you have an outside/personal interest in primitive living and survival skills, the Standard Course is a good introduction on the subject. I just can't see it "helping" at USMA, Ft. Benning, Ranger School or your time as a PL.

OZEbullfighter
20 March 2009, 18:07
I belive a Good PL needs to have an Understanding, of basic tracking and what is involved in a tracking team. So he knows how to assist one if supporting or using them

Tracking in Both AO's mentioned is very relavant. I know some very good situations where it has been used.

Mr Brown does not focus on the Combat Tracking side of things. As mentioned, some of the links provided give a very good heads up into combat tracking. Which is different than hunting animals, Similar but different.

Again will be a good skill "IF" you do selection PASS and become a team leader, as you team could be assigned to some task requiring this, However i dont mean to overstep my boundry but you will learn these skills when joining your team believe.

PM me if you would like contact details of a serving SGM, who is doing a lot of in house combat tracking instruction. He may be able to offer further advice

Good Luck.

Longrifle
25 March 2009, 16:38
Learn to be lead, then become a great leader... There are no tracking course that teach that.
Amen to that. Trackers follow, not lead.

Plus, graduation from a good tracking course will not be sufficient proof to your NCOs you'll be be able to find your own a$$ with both hands.

For a Boy Scout troop leader it might be cool, though.

chokeu2
25 March 2009, 16:46
Wait... When did officers learn to track and navigate? Is that something recent? :D

GreenToBlue
30 March 2009, 16:40
Thanks... just returned from my Spring break so I'm a little behind on this thread but I will try to address some things that stood out to me:

First, let me say thanks for all the replies and there is some really good advice. I appreciate you all taking the time to help direct me.

Second, I just want to say the Tom Brown School is not a subsitute for leadership skills and it is not a primary focus of mine by any means. I will spend the better part of my summer leading other cadets in field excercises, at air assault school, and hopefully down at either VTAC's or Xe's carbine course. Still the overarching goal is to become a leader. My definition of a good leader is someone who enables his subordinates to meet their full potential both as individuals and as a cohesive unit in order to accomplish the mission. I still have much learning to do before I am anywhere close to being that kind of leader. I'm not looking to become a stack leader or a point-man or sniper or anything else-- I won't pick those skills up from a 5-day course anyway-- it would take years. But i do believe to be effective as a leader I need to understand those jobs so I can make informed decision about how to get "my guys" the right training when I am a PL and how best to implement them on the battlefield. For me, the more exposure I can get the better.

It was is extracurricular-- the opportunity came up because of holes in my schedule where the only alternative was leave.

I actually looked into the combat tracker course before Tom Brown's. They are sending Cadets there on 6-day courses but the dates conflicted with some other required training that I have.


Also-- PMs sent to a few of you.

Thanks.

Mottbomb
26 April 2009, 17:42
I don't think a tracking course will help you much as a PL (this based on my experience being a PL in Iraq, I do not have experience in Afghanistan). You shouldn't be doing the tracking, and you won't learn it well enough to teach it to anyone. There are other aspects you can focus on that will probably help you more down the line (like marksmanship). Then again, there isn't much that your NCOs won't be able to teach you once you get to your unit, assuming you ask for help.

I agree with the fieldcraft comments, and I do not know what is exactly covered in the course.

I'm a grad and a PL so if you want to PM me we may be able to come up with some ideas of stuff you can attend (and possibly get approved by USMA) that will be beneficial. That 18A in the MS department? Probably took a class from him...

BKK
28 April 2009, 04:50
Just to not start another thread on Tracking Schools.

I was curious if anyone has been to any courses run by these guys, and could provide some general info on if these guys are good to go, or to stay away from them. A friend of mine is looking at going to one of their courses, and I said I would try to find out the general concensus on them.

http://www.onpointtactical.com/

Horned Toad, It looks like you have been to their course, and could maybe help out. Thanks in advance.

Stanley_White
28 April 2009, 07:32
Just to not start another thread on Tracking Schools.

I was curious if anyone has been to any courses run by these guys, and could provide some general info on if these guys are good to go, or to stay away from them. A friend of mine is looking at going to one of their courses, and I said I would try to find out the general concensus on them.

http://www.onpointtactical.com/

Horned Toad, It looks like you have been to their course, and could maybe help out. Thanks in advance.

I have zero experience with said firm but found certain aspects of their Instructor Bio section of their website to be fishy and not necessarily confidence inspiring. YMMV.

BKK
28 April 2009, 08:58
I have zero experience with said firm but found certain aspects of their Instructor Bio section of their website to be fishy and not necessarily confidence inspiring. YMMV.

Agree. There seems to be a lot of "Worked With" clarifiers in the Bio section.

Horned Toad
28 April 2009, 14:41
Just to not start another thread on Tracking Schools.

I was curious if anyone has been to any courses run by these guys, and could provide some general info on if these guys are good to go, or to stay away from them. A friend of mine is looking at going to one of their courses, and I said I would try to find out the general concensus on them.

http://www.onpointtactical.com/

Horned Toad, It looks like you have been to their course, and could maybe help out. Thanks in advance.

Well I had a pretty strong background in people tracking when I went. So there were no real eye openers there. Some stuff I knew was validated; some things I had seen were given a name. Some stuff didnít apply to what I do at work so it was neat but I didnít pay much attention. I actually went to their scout course; it was all that was out this way at the time. Kevin was the only one there teaching. He seems pretty knowledgeable. There were some logistic problems at the last minute and what not, but shit happens. I would bet trying to fly into an area to teach a class has got to be a pain in the ass.

One thing that did crease me is that a friend of his showed up from California or where ever and he was pretty distracting. The term I have heard that probably fits is ďcool by associationĒ. I got this a impression a bit from Kevin also, he would talk about units he taught or what not. In this day I feel you just donít need to be blabbing to civilians about what the military is doing especially certain outfits that donít need to be named.

It was late 05 or so that I went so if you have a more specific question fire away and I see if it jogs any memories.

Silverbullet
28 April 2009, 15:21
Gents,
Please don't keep including the hyperlink in each quote as this discussion continues.

Thanks

BKK
28 April 2009, 23:46
HT,
Thanks for the info. This friend is contemplating taking their Urban E&E course. I am not sure if that is a new course, or one that was around when you went. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. I don't have any specific questions, I just figured someone could give an overall assessment if these guys were clowns or not.

dukeeod
6 August 2009, 23:28
I have been to the Standard course and it rocks!! We did all the basics like learn how to start fire from friction, the solar still and shelter. A lot of long lectures but some really good practical exercises. It is a good class a bit expensive but worth it.