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  1. #1

    Watch duty at patrol base

    We were out training with the PVS14s last night and I was explaining a couple of ways this can be done.

    A patrol base is essentially just a temporary - usually just an overnight- camp site. We use the term "patrol base" and it sounds all tacticoool but it could be any place you overnight with a group of people.

    I was discussing the concept with my son and he asked me "so say your watch is at 1am. How do you know when to wake up."

    Couple options here for that sort of thing.

    In smaller groups, say less than 8, if the situation permits it, and the stay is really just overnight, then I would camp in the smallest spot possible. In essence more of a "hide" position than a patrol base layout.

    We were taught this by the old SF guys 25 years ago (damn that long...).

    So say your patrol or group of six needs to be down for the night the idea may go as follows:

    Team locates a good "hide" position but does not move directly into it. We would usually fish hook- also known as "button hooking" and observe the back trail for a while before moving off towards the actual hide position.

    Picture a fish hook- it's kind of shaped like this

    j

    Only the curve on the end of the j is longer right. It's that tip of the hook wherein you set up and watch your back trail. Your back trail being the way you came in, in other words, the long straight'ish part of the J or fishhook.

    Your team should have an SOP like how long the back trail is observed, what to do if their is a follow up or a tracker, etc.

    Remember when you fish hook, it's not about continuing in a straight line and then taking two steps off the trail to the right and looking back! It's a little more involved than that.

    Ideally you will fish hook wherein you can use the terrain to your advantage. A hilltop over looking a valley you just went through, etc. If you realize your being pursued you can dip over the hill using the hill as cover, etc.

    A lot of people try to put the patrol base/camp site right where they fish hooked. That in general is a bad idea.

    A tracking team is going to have flank trackers out, it will likely not be just one guy walking from spoor to spoor with his head down.

    Again, situational dependent and all that jazz, but I would consider moving a good bit away from where you fish hooked. Direction and distance set by you and being METT stuff dependent.

    So you move into the area you are going to camp in. For normal camping we are taught to look for what criteria for a campsite? Near water but not too near, maybe south or east facing to get some heat or early morning sun if the weather sucks, plenty of natural materials for campfire, decent access, etc.


    But if it's a situation where we have felt the need to fish hook to our camp, than most of that is out the window.

    A "hide" type camp position won't necessarily be the most comfortable camp site. You may want to camp in the swamp, in a thicket that you have to crawl a bit to get into, etc. Again, situational dependent, METT-T and all that jazz...

    So, again assuming a small group of say 6 people. They move into the hide position. With such a small group you are going to sleep close to each other. We used to rest and later sleep in what looked like a star type pattern. Every man facing outwards laying prone (rest position). Just close enough that you could touch the next guy's boot with your boot. Gear was kept on for short breaks or right next to you. Codes were used for certain number of taps from boot to boot and signals were sent "around" the circle that way.

    After a certain period of time people took breaks to prep gear for the night. Never more than about half at a time, usually one or two at a time.

    When it was time to sleep the watch shifts were set up in a clock type pattern. 12 o' clock position was established and that person was the start of the watch. The time was divided up and when the first person at 12 o' clock position watch was up, he reached over to the person at the 1 o' clock position and woke them up. In a small group hide type position these two people might be within reach of each other. If nothing else they were not more than a few steps away from each other. The pattern repeated until morning. We never did a "stand to" type deal, the older guys usually just had us up and moving well before sunrise.

    Gear was kept packed, you took out only what you needed to wrap up in for the night. If you rigged a tarp you rigged it where any lines could be loosed with just a pull of the string and the tarp/poncho grabbed and stowed as you were running off.

    It was very common to wake up at various times of the night to a burst of 5.56 and yelling. That was to simulate getting bumped and having to ditch camp immediately. If you weren't gone quickly or you were messing around with your gear, you were left behind. Hopefully you paid attention to where the rally point was or you would be ambling around all night searching for the group.

    The clock setup allowed you to not have to remember "who" you went and woke up for next guard shift and kept down the amount of walking around the camp thereby making noise.

    For a small group, this usually worked out well.

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  2. #2
    Administrator protus's Avatar
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    Good info.
    But I gotta give you a C- ..no reference to training film #2 and the effects of sleeping while on watch..;p

    My problem is I get wired up..and end up staying awake all night. Takes me forever to sleep even when just camping under my tarp. Let alone the times I've done watch training.
    Hey Petunia...you dropped your man pad!

  3. #3
    "And the next son..... I catch sleeping on ambush I'm going to take a personal interest in seeing them suffer!!" LOL

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  4. #4
    It's important before bedding down to know rally point(s) as well as compass bearings towards them. A known general direction from camp towards a rally is important also.

    You don't want to be standing around camp pulling out a compass if something happens, you may not have that sort of time.

    When we trained back in the day the older SF guys would wake you up with a bunch of 5.56 in the air, kick you in the butt to get you stumbling around, etc. You were disoriented but had to get your stuff and get out immediately.

    You learned to keep your stuff packed, not all strung out all over the place. Use a piece of gear out of your pack then put it back. Pack was used as a pillow so you knew right where it was. LBE was right next to you, rifle on the other side. You learned to sleep light and get moving quickly.

    Know the general direction to the rally point, move out in that general direction quickly, THEN bust out your compass and take an azimuth. Have a backstop if possible to where you can hit that and then navigate in to the rally point from the backstop.

    We never waited around for the whole team, focused on individual skills instead. So this way if your battle buddy got lost, whacked, etc. you weren't sitting around waiting for someone to tell you what to do. They stressed personal initiative in this sort of thing and I think that worked out well.

    There was a time limit to get to the first rally point which depended on the distance. If you missed that time period it was expected that you would move to the 2nd rally point and wait there. Often times you weren't picked up then for a day or so- missing a lot of training value because you were late to the first rally point. You learned not to miss it....

    In a real situation you wouldn't necessarily want to wait around a rally point for a long period of time because someone could have gotten captured and spilled the beans on the rally point. This is why the individual skills of getting out on your own are so important.
    Last edited by Lowdown3; 03-13-2017 at 10:44 AM.

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  5. #5
    Super Moderator Patriotic Sheepdog's Avatar
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    great info....
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  6. #6
    Much to learn, lots of training to do.
    Last edited by Bill Foster; 03-14-2017 at 01:50 PM.

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