Practical Navigation:The Real World.Part 3

In this final part we can take a look at how the Special Forces view the topics covered in parts 1 & 2 for comparison; they are, somewhat different.



When a four man patrol is charged with an objective it is somewhat certain that there are forces that will be trying to prevent whatever it is that the patrol are trying to achieve. The navigator will have spent time planning a route from the Drop- Off Point (DOP) that may be many kilometers from the objective and also a route from the objective to the Pick-Up Point (PUP), both of these routes will have an alternative should it be required.

The routes will be broken down into ‘legs’ with ‘rendezvous’ (RV’S) at the leg intersections. The navigator will have planned a number of ‘Emergency Rendezvous’ (ERV’S), possibly one for each leg to be used in the event that the patrol is ‘compromised’ or involved in a ‘contact’ and has had to scatter. The routes, alternative routes, objective, RV’S and ERV’S are never, EVER marked on a map, in fact the map is never ever marked in any way or folded differently; just the fact that the map has been folded differently may give the enemy a clue as to the objective.

The route to the objective may be over hilly terrain and the method of contouring is useful for all the same reasons but there is also an additional reason, to prevent ‘Skylining’. Skylining is when you or your outline is visible against the sky (either day or night) and the lower the person is that is looking up, the lower down from the summit you need to be to prevent yourself from being skylined. Time & distance is also a much simpler affair; the fact that you are a member of the Special Forces means that fitness is not a problem and that everyone is roughly comparable. Weight is another thing that unless extreme is not allowed for, 30 kg + rifle is commonplace. The calculations are based on a speed of 4 km/h with nothing allowed for ascent or descent, day or night; however, operational restrictions will be allowed for in the route planning. This makes things quite easy as the maps will have 1000m grids making it 15 minutes across a grid and 20 minutes diagonally from corner to corner (diagonal distance across the corners of a square is 1.414 x the length of the side) making it 15 minutes and 21.21 minutes but 15 & 20 are easy numbers to work with mentally.

The group problems also disappear as all patrol members are trained equally with each having one or more specialist subjects such as navigation, demolitions, weapons, sniping, mountaineering, first-aid, mobility etc. Food is normally in the form of 24 hour ration packs and water; generally 2 litres (2 x 1 litre containers) will be replenished and treated en-route. When to move is generally dictated by operational criteria and is usually only during the hours of darkness, lying-up in the daylight hours. Weather has little or no bearing on this. Staying out of harm’s way takes on another dimension, this time from the enemy.

The training, fitness levels and equipment mean that all other problems should be and generally are easily manageable. Wild camping or ‘Lying-up’ is again very different. Your Lying-up Position (LUP) will be reached and prepared before light, this may mean digging-in and covering over depending on where you are, what is around you and how close you are to the enemy. Normally your bodily waste is kept in zip-lock plastic bags and taken with you when you leave. It may be necessary to implement a ‘cold routine’, this means that you cannot cook any hot food or drinks so all rations must be eaten cold. When you leave, the LUP must be returned to its original state.

On leaving the LUP it is Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) to put some distance in before stopping for food/drink; this is normally 2-3 km. The reason for this is that if you are being watched you will know when you move out and if you are followed you will navigate into a position of choice to deal with the problem instead of being ‘caught with your pants down’ at the LUP cooking breakfast, that by the very nature of it is likely to be an extremely poor position for a ‘contact’

On stopping, two of the four man patrol will cover a 180 Deg arc of fire while the other two members prepare the food & drink or ‘Scran’ as it is often referred. They will prepare their own and then prepare the others’ while they eat it, they will then swap positions and the other two will eat, drink and clean up everything while the others ‘look-out’. They will stow their own kit and be ready to move fully kitted, they will then swap positions again to ‘look-out’ while the others stow there kit, when they are fully kitted and ready to move the patrol will then continue.

The Millieme is used to calculate distances, size, etc. in areas where there are no features to pick-up on, like large grass plains, snow fields, desserts. The positional information can then be stored until the de-brief or transmitted if urgent. As you can see the Special Forces view is much different, simpler in many ways but more complex in others; this is only the case because certain criteria are different. The rules on wild camping in the U.K. are complex to say the least and ‘wild camping’ is generally frowned upon because of the mess and damage often left behind. If you adopt the LUP routine (perhaps not to the full extent) you will be able to camp wherever you like as you will never be seen so no one will ever know that you have been there. Good navigation will extend your trips, increase your safety, reduce your fatigue and minimize your problems. The only thing that remains now is for you to practice these additional skills and move your navigation to the next level. I am now going to take advantage of all these things in finding my way unseen to the biscuit tin! Enjoy your travel adventures.

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