Survival Friday: Excerpt from the Green Beret Survival Guide SurvivalFinal

This usually comes into play during an extreme emergency when there is conflict among people, so I go into more detail on it in Sustainment.  In order to understand how to evade being tracked down, you need to first understand how to track someone.  In Special Forces we sent personnel to a tracking school run by headhunters.  Seriously.  We also run a school called SERE:  Survival, evasion, resistance and escape.  It’s considered such a key element, that it is now part of the Qualification Course for every Green Beret.  Pilots are often sent through SERE training as they have a high likelihood of this given their mission.

The key to tracking someone, however, is not examining bent twigs, or marks in the dirt, but rather understanding the mindset and habits of whatever you are tracking.  Predators tend to cluster near water sources in areas where water is scarce.  Rather than tracking down their prey, they let their prey come to them.  People tend to take the easiest path.  That’s why ambushes are set up along paths and choke points.

Where will whoever or whatever you are tracking be going?  What is their destination?  If you’re very sure of their destination, perhaps you can get there before them.  Will they need food?  Water?

To evade someone tracking you, you must avoid the easy way.  You must break bad habits.  You must confuse them.  You must make it difficult for them to follow.

My first platoon sergeant told me an interesting thing:  few people ever look up.  Remember in Hunger Games when the heroine hides up in a tree?  Like everything else, this is a double-edged thing:  you might not be noticed, but if you are, as she was, you are trapped.

One of the best ways to avoid being followed is to use water.  Few people want to wade through water or go into that swamp.  Francis Marion during the Revolutionary War was able to evade the British because he knew the terrain and was willing to go where they weren’t.

Here are keys to evasion:

  • if ever captured, try to escape quickly.  The longer you remain a prisoner, the lower your chances of escape.
  • if ever arrested, say nothing.  You have the right to remain silent, then remain silent.
  • don’t be noticeable.  Ever watch a crowd?  Ever see the people who stand out?  You don’t want to be that person.  At West Point, one of the keys for ‘surviving’ Beast Barracks was to ‘ghost’ as much as possible.  To not get noticed.  In the same manner, a rule of survival on the New York subway is to not make eye contact.  One of my rules, SOPs, is to never poke the crazy person.  When walking down the street, avoid eye contact and all contact with those who could possibly be threats.
  • if your team has to evade, you must make an important decision: whether to break the group up into pairs or try to evade as a team.  Remember, of course, that you are evading to a point, usually your ERP, or if your hide site was over-run, another ERP you’ve come up with.  So if any team members are captured, you must assume they will give up the location of the ERP.  On the other hand, pairs have a greater chance of evasion than a large group.
  • like poor Butch and Sundance in the movie:  “Who are these guys?”  Always assume, in an extreme survival situation, that someone is after you.  You aren’t paranoid if they are really out to get you.
  • don’t hide in obvious places.  In The Road, when the pair of them go into that house on top of the hill, that was, well stupid.  Especially after the son sees the pile of shoes in one room.  Assume any place that looks inviting is a trap.
  • keep your eyes open for anything you can use.  Later one we’ll discuss a way to treat water with plastic bottles.  While I’m not a fan of hoarding, in a survival situation you never know what can become useful.
  • don’t leave tracks.  This seems obvious, but few of us have ever thought about it.  And even fewer have ever looked behind ourselves to see if we are leaving tracks.
  • I could go into a long spiel on how to avoid being tracked by dogs, but if you’re in that situation, something really strange has happened.  If you think this is a possibility for you (since you’re reading this in a maximum security prison), then you can find other resources with this information.

In Conclusion

The odds that you will have to track or evade are low in a mild or moderate emergency.  But the odds you will have to land navigate without electronic aid isn’t so low.  Make sure you have maps, both road and topographical.  Make sure you have a basic understanding of the terrain around you.  Practice your routes from your home to you IRP, LRP and ERP and on to the Hide Site.

When traveling, plan your route and plan alternate routes.