Lone Target in Korea: Tactical Tracking and Manhunts

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ITTA proudly joined with Peter Kerr and Grant Lightfoot this summer to provide crucial training for the adventure challenge devised by Discovery Channel. In this contest, elite veteran SEAL member Joel Lambert challenges elite special operations units to capture him as he escapes and evades. Watch closely to see the KNPA Special Operations Unit 868 pick up the gauntlet. Our hats off to 868!

Tracking is but one of the means to conduct pursuit operations or facilitate man-hunting. On a large-scale you can bring several agencies/units to bear, including non-organic specialty units and air assets. It can be compared to cooking, in a way, in that you bring together the right ingredients to make the desired meal. The ingredients will not prepare and cook themselves though. This is what has been seen in many large scale manhunts: all the right ingredients and not the desired result. So how do we train small to large scale pursuit/recovery operations and the command and control of small units acting independently based on the information presented to them, the evidence and actions of the persons pursued? These question were answered in the summer of 2013 during a 10-day train up for the Korean National Police Unit 868 to prepare for the challenge posed by Discovery. 

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In the tracking and pursuit of a quarry as individuals, teams and then multiple teams, some major issues will need to be resolved and addressed:

1. Tactical Interoperability
2. Technical Interoperability
3. Command and Control                                                                                                                                         4. Use of non-organic Tactical Assets                                                                                                                   5. Small-Unit Leadership                                                                                                                                        6. Command Protocol

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The Tactical Interoperability issue is first and foremost because it relates directly to officer safety and the accomplishment of the task at hand. This is achieved by daily training under a common doctrine. In this course we had the members of a national level SWAT team tasked with the nation’s counter terrorism mission, Unit 868. We trained students how to use their communications gear to its greatest potential.

Command and Control was built on a single point of focus or accountability. Without accountability of the boots on the ground, knowing who is involved, how do you talk to them and where they are, you cannot take command because you have no control. The system used protocols built around that single feature that makes command hand-off (from the on-scene supervisor to commanders) smooth.

Small-Unit Leadership begins with the understanding of accountability and the principles that need to be in place to be successful. In the last article I wrote about those four things possessed by all high-performing organizations, and they are: a common goal or plan, hierarchy of command, division of labor and coordination of work effort. These principles are taught and reinforced daily during classroom instruction and field exercises.

Fixing command protocols involved a paradigm shift. As the incident unfolds, incident command will change as more personnel arrive, including supervisory and command staff. The shift comes in that these operations are commonly operator driven and not command driven, for up to half of the operational period. Command takes up a supporting role through asset and resource allocation – in the beginning. Effective leadership entails learning, training, planning and working together.

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This is a difficult subject as there are very, very few people that have ever tracked someone. This includes even trained trackers on both the military side and the LE side. For those of us that have tracked, pursued and caught fleeing fugitives in a rural and unpredictable environment, you need to impart those lessons learned to other trackers so that as a team we can expand our collective knowledge base.

About the Author: Grant Lightfoot is a retired 20 year veteran of Washington State public service where he retired as a Police Captain.  He has been on the management team of the second largest city in the county and served on the command staff of a Sheriff’s Office and Police Department.  He is a certified trainer in the State of Washington, State of California, State of North Carolina and the State of Michigan POST programs.  He is a trainer of trainers and leaders. AG.T. He is a US Army veteran serving with both the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Infantry Regiments an the 1 Infantry Regiment as an Intel NCO.  He is also a the Director of Operations and lead instructor in Combat Tracking, Tactical Tracking, Escape and Evasion, Intelligence and Special Reconnaissance, Rural Law Enforcement Operations, Rural Narcotics Operations (ERAD), Practical Wargaming and COIN operations from ITTA’s partner organization, the Tactical Tracking Operations School.
Tactical tracking training, leadership and staff retreats.
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