What do you take with you on tracks?

#1
Title pretty much sums it up; what do you take with you on tracks?

Do you have a pack prepared (water/equipment/etc), or are you running it with just the dog team?

If you have a support element with you, are they required to carry anything, or just themselves?

Detailed lists appreciated.

If you feel it's an OPSEC issue, feel free to PM me. If you don't know me, I'll give out my .gov email address to those with same in order to provide bonafides.
 
#3
Both and both.

Primary focus is on the dog team in a LE setting, but I've done this stuff long enough to know that I certainly don't know everything. Civ LE has learned a lot from the lessons learned by K-9 handlers in Iraq & Afghanistan, and visual tracking only serves to make a K-9 team (or an apprehension team, if working with others) that much better.

I'll take everything I can get.
 
#5
Basic all around gear specific to tracking:
-Map and Compass kit (GPS is fine to supplement but only as a supplement not as primary)
-Tape measure, nothing huge you're only really gonna use around 5 feet of it.
-Notepad and pen, including your Footprint Data Cards
-Camera, polaroid works good here, digital can also be a good choice. Both have there merits, polaroid you can get a printed copy on site, digital can be sent up to higher much faster.
-Marking tape (this can be anything bright, it just needs to be able to clearly mark the LKS for when you are on longer tracks, ie days on the line.
-Low power handheld light, incandescent actually work pretty well, higher lumen LEDs can "washout" some of the more subtle details in the track.

These are what I can think of off the top of my head that is tracking specific. When it comes to packing, a tracker teams job is to close the time distance gap, thus you are packing to be as light as possible, this means sacrificing some of your offensive and defensive capabilities. In a military setting it is not the tracking squads job to take the enemy out, it is to find him. Your support element (say a rifle platoon) has the task of wasting the mofo's.

For a LEO standpoint, I haven't read or heard of a team (not saying it hasn't happened) spending days on end on the track line thus you may be able to forgo carrying sleep kit and save some weight situation and terrain dependent. For a pack you could get away with the above plus water, pogey bait, ammo, and med. Signaling gear if you have air assets in your department (smoke, flare, VS-17), and extra batteries. A LEO tracking team doesn't have the support element backing them up like on the mil side, thus you need to plan to handle the take down on your own.
 

Fatboy

Established
#6
In the military, I never had the opportunity to use our dogs for tracks, but if we had, we would have carried enough of everything to sustain the fight during contact (chance or deliberate), including powerful enough radios to call in mobile support because there is only so far you're going to maneuver on foot in 120degree heat wearing 80 lbs of the world's lightest crap while chasing a dude wearing man jammies and an AK.

As a Cop, I'm not a K9 guy, but we use them regularly for tracks and clearing structures. So I get to function as a member of the tracking team. Since my area is urban, we carry our basic gear, and sometimes we add a rifle. The rifle mainly depends on the dog, and the speed he tracks at. Some dogs you can run with, others are a slow and steady clear. It also depends on why we are tracking too. Armed subject on foot after forcible felony? The rifle is coming. Dude bailed out of a car on a traffic stop for something minor? Probably traveling light.
In my area, it's easy to set the perimeter and call out distance and direction as well while tracking. That makes it easy to readjust the perimeter on the fly so that the suspect can still be contained. We also clear buildings with the dogs and officers working together as well, but that should probably be in the Opsec area.

As with all things, TTP'S are regional however, so take my ramblings with a grain of salt and apply it as needed to your A/O.
 
#8
Another note to add. With visual tracking in a tactical situation, once the sun racks down you rack down. You can under very limited condition track under NODs, but those times are rare (mostly limited to deserts and snow fields), and you are risking more then you will gain a lot of the time (walking into ambushes/ booby traps or, the worst outcome, contaminating the track line). This is where the dogs shine as they can keep on track after the Sun goes down. If you have both capabilities, that dog can help you close that time/ distance gap a lot faster when the sun goes down.

Handheld thermal imagers. They give you an amazing capability, If I'm not mistaken you can get PAS-13s off the 1033 program. They are a bit big, but awesome units.
 

Fatboy

Established
#9
Another note to add. With visual tracking in a tactical situation, once the sun racks down you rack down. You can under very limited condition track under NODs, but those times are rare (mostly limited to deserts and snow fields), and you are risking more then you will gain a lot of the time (walking into ambushes/ booby traps or, the worst outcome, contaminating the track line). This is where the dogs shine as they can keep on track after the Sun goes down. If you have both capabilities, that dog can help you close that time/ distance gap a lot faster when the sun goes down.

Handheld thermal imagers. They give you an amazing capability, If I'm not mistaken you can get PAS-13s off the 1033 program. They are a bit big, but awesome units.
Skip the Pas 13. Yes, they are awesome for thermal use, and some of them could also detect heat signatures for brief periods after something was touched (like handprints on a cold wall) and yes I've used at least 3 generations of them in previous lives. ( There is a better military thermal out there that is cargo pocket sized or smaller, but I'll be damned if I can remember the name of it. It had such good resolution that it was used for checking people for suicide vests overseas among other things.)

Instead, beg borrow or steal the fire department's hand held thermal checker for hot spots in the walls/ ceiling etc. They mount easily enough in the car, are light weight, portable, rugged, and they can be used to scan large areas while tracking in a hurry.
 

Fatboy

Established
#11
Hadn't heard of the FD unit. I'll have to pester our local hose draggers to let me check it out. Thanks for the intel dump.

No problem. The ones our fire guys have look similar to a miniature megaphone almost. Our fire guys use them religiously for hot spot detection, and a few local police departments keep them in cars for "just in case".
 
#12
Hadn't heard of the FD unit. I'll have to pester our local hose draggers to let me check it out. Thanks for the intel dump.
We use a Bullard, I think it's called the T3. It's fucking awesome while tracking someone (LEO calls us out to use it/extra man power) it's incredibly sensitive, as in it can see heat pipes in a concrete floor and fresh boot prints in the snow. I can even spot mice running through the grass. I would post pics but I don't have any that are relevant to tracking at the moment. I'm guess the department in your AO has more $$ than us so they might even have a newer version.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
 
#14
I'm a LE handler in a county that has urban, suburban and plenty of woods. I don't take really anything in the way of sustainment items as our tracks are generally not more than a couple of hours at most. With that being said everything is based on locating the bad man and bring the fight to him when needed.
Comms to include radio, remote PTT and helmet mounted peltors.
I'm fortunate enough to have two helmets and peltor sets. Ballistic is Crye ATX and bump is Ops Core BASE jump. Quiet comms with enchanced hearing is priceless.
We also have mounted PVS-14s and Skeeter IR Flirs. Handlers have the option of running the flir on the helmet with the relatively new Wilcox bridge or hand held. I don't run my flir on helmet. I lanyard it to my kit for spot checking or giving it to a non handler back up officer.
Speaking of back up officers: handlers are always best but an in shape officer that has a rifle will do (crime dependent). If he has light discipline for night operations that is a huge. Also if he has an earpiece to keep the comms quiet that is a major plus.
VIP IR beacon to help the helo to spot us.
IFAK
Up armor the dog also crime dependent.
Other than that as light weight of a kit as I can get.

That's all I can think of right now.
 
#15
I'm relatively new on the forum and haven't posted much, but I'll revive this thread, claim this lane, and post away. I don't forsee any OPSEC issues, but if I'm missing something then hopefully a mod will catch it. For you guys more experienced and more knowledgeable than me on this topic, I'm not trying to sound preachy or like a know it all (because I'm definitely not a know it all), I'm just posting for the benefit of non dog handlers and newer handlers.

First things first, the painfully obvious, is to take a dog that'll track. A dirty K9 secret is that most recorded stats report K9 tracking success rates in an urban or suburban setting at 9% and in a rural AO the success rate soars to 11%. That's for "pointy eared" dogs. Hounds do a little better. Now, those are averages and some dogs track with higher success rates, but a lot of them out there just can't track (mostly because the handler hasn't invested the time and/or because of improper training techniques).

I think I'm unapologetically at about a 25% recorded success rate right now, with success being defined as some sort of confirmation discovered during or after the track that the K9 did actually track the quarry/bad guy along a particular route for a particular distance. The aforementioned confirmation can come in many forms, including but not limited to, footwear impression evidence, verifiable sign from the suspect, witness statements, surveillance video, evidence recovery, suspect debrief, etc.

So assuming the dog is trained, certified and reliable in tracking and/or trailing, I'll ditto the above comment on a backup officer with a rifle. Preferably, the backup officer has trained with the handler and K9 team before and knows his role. The handler's job is to watch the dog. Backup officers job is to watch out for the K9 team-not watch the K9 team work.

It amazes me how often I'll glance behind me on a track and either see my "backup" panting and gasping for breath 'bout 1/8 mile back, or I'll see them intently and curiously watching the dog work. Something else I don't appreciate is an idiot with no light discipline. Its not fun tracking an armed felon in the middle of the night as you and your dog are being spotlighted for the bad guy. So, backup should be experienced, not a dumbass, and in shape.

If the handler is trained up on visual tracking techniques and/or is supported by a visual tracking team this is a huge plus. I should emphasize that neither K9 tracking or visual tracking replaces the other, but they can and will enhance each other when used correctly.

So, having said all that, I'll try and answer the original questions. I make every effort not to track with the dog in anything but a harness. He has armor, but I think that heat is the biggest threat to a dog on a track (they dont sweat like we do and are very susceptible to heat injury/death for the guys that dont know) and i think that the risk of the dog dying due to wearing the armor is higher than the risk of him not wearing it (clearing a building or something is usually a different story...).
I always have a camelbak in my work vehicle, and its specifically for tracking. I wear it on every track because we never know how long a track will last or where the track will lead us. In the camelback is (surprise) water, but not just for me. Outside of the bladder I'll carry two full 16oz bottles and a fabric, collapsible water bowl for the dog. I carry an extra pistol mag or two because I don't take a long gun on a track. Makes me feel better at least having extra ammo I guess. I dunno. Anyway, I have a trauma kit for me plus K9 trauma items. Extra set of cuffs. Spare socks in a ziploc. I carry topo maps of my AO and adjacent areas (mytopo.com is my go to source for these) contained in Sealine mapcase, pack of "hot hands," a Petzl Tactikka headlamp, polymer Surefire handheld (G2?) as backup, Garmin Foretrex (this is a MUST for me now-very helpful not only on the track but after the track when completing K9 report-records times, distance travelled, etc.-I wear it on my wrist during track), spare AAA and CR123 batteries, 2 green chem lights and two red, a couple CLIF bars, honey stinger gel or other quick energy/sustainment food in a ziploc. In a small detachable pouch I have my visual tracking items, which includes rite in rain notebook, pen, pencil, sharpie, tracking sketch cards, ruler/measuring tape, etc. I also carry emergency fire starting items and a mylar blanket. I dont have NODs but have tracked with them in familiarization training. Wish I had 'em. One day.

All of this stuff i listed fits compactly in the camelback and is a light package that allows me to be prepared and still move fast. Don't forget a spare lead around your waist or on the pack, and a ball/tug/other toy for the dog. Ya never know, ya may need it.
Finally, if you don't get the quarry on the track, try and do a motivational track as soon as possible where the dog does get a win at the end-suit, sleeve, toy-whatever. Pay the dog and keep his head in the game. Lots of great tracking resources out there for you guys that are interested. Hope this helped somebody out there and if I got something wrong, please set me straight. Happy hunting.
 
#16
I should add that I'm a municipal officer that primarily operates in urban/suburban environments, but I do routinely get called out to assist county/state, so I've gotta stay prepared for that, plus my jurisdiction is surrounded by rural woodand and borders a national park. Just for frame of reference.
 
#17
Most of our tracks are sub 5 miles so I don't really carry a lot of extra gear.

Patrol car flashlight in hand
30ft lead in hand
6ft lead around my body
Harness for the dog
Cellphone with gps app or stand alone gps a la Garmin Alpha
Flashlight on my duty belt
Flashlight on my chest

Back up with a long gun

I keep gallons of water in the car
IV kit for the dog in the car

I have a couple camelbak's that I do bring in the summer
 
#18
This is a non-US military perspective;

Basic load fighting shit (bullets and bandaids etc)
Patrol pack with 12h worth of food and extra clothing

Team leader or 2IC will carry all nav-stuff and keep track of bearings and distances, handlers only mission is handling the dog.

Tracking specific gear is:

Tracking harness (really slim, minimalistic setup. Fits in a GP pouch on handlers rig.

Tracking lead, basically a 50' rope with carabiner.

Water and lots of it. Like a five liter minimum. Camelbak is nice if the dog learns to drink from it but a jug and one of those nylon water baskets are nice.

Colored tape for marking tracks and stuff. This might be handed over to one of the guys pulling security.