Displacement takes place when anything is moved from its original position. A well-defined footprint or shoe print in soft, moist ground is a good example of displacement. By studying the footprint or shoe print, the sniper determines several important facts. For example, a print left by worn footgear or by bare feet may indicate lack of proper equipment. Displacement can also result from clearing a trail by breaking or cutting through heavy vegetation with a machete. These trails are obvious to the most inexperienced sniper who is tracking. Individuals may unconsciously break more branches as they follow someone who is cutting the vegetation. Displacement indicators can also be made by persons carrying heavy loads who stop to rest; prints made by box edges can help to identify the load. When loads are set down at a rest halt or campsite, they usually crush grass and twigs. A reclining soldier also flattens the vegetation.

a. Analyzing Footprints. Footprints may indicate direction, rate of movement, number, sex, and whether the individual knows he is being tracked.

(1) If footprints are deep and the pace is long, rapid movement is apparent. Long strides and deep prints with toe prints deeper than heel prints indicate running (A, Figure 8-l).

(2) Prints that are deep, short, and widely spaced, with signs of scuffing or shuffling indicate the person is carrying a heavy load (B, Figure o-l).

(3) If the party members realize they are being followed, they may try to hide their tracks. Persons walking backward (C, Figure 8-1) have a short, irregular stride. The prints have an unnaturally deep toe, and soil is displaced in the direction of movement.

(4) To determine the sex (D, Figure 8-l), the sniper should study the size and position of the footprints. Women tend to be pigeon-toed, while men walk with their feet straight ahead or pointed slightly to the outside.

re usually smaller and the stride is usually shorter b. Determining Key Prints. The last individual in the file usually leaves the clearest footprints; these become the key prints. The sniper cuts a stick to match the length of the prints and notches it to indicate the width at the widest part of the sole. He can then study the angle of the key prints to the direction of march. The sniper looks for an identifying mark or feature, such as worn or frayed footwear, to help him identify the key prints. If the trail becomes vague, erased, or merges with another, the sniper can use his stick-measuring devices and, with close study, can identify the key prints. This method helps the sniper to stay on the trail. A technique used to count the total number of individuals being tracked is the box method. There are two methods the sniper can use to employ the box method.

(1) The most accurate is to use the stride as a unit of measure (Figure 8-2) when key prints can be determined. The sniper uses the set of key prints and the edges of the road or trail to box in an area to analyze. This method is accurate under the right conditions for counting up to 18 persons.

Figure 8-1. Different types of footprints.
Figure 8-2. Stride measurement.

(2) The sniper may also use the the 36-inch box method (Figure 8-3) if key prints are not evident. To use the 36-inch box method, the sniper uses the edges of the road or trail as the sides of the box. He measures a cross section of the area 36 inches long, counting each indentation in the box and dividing by two. This method gives a close estimate of the number of individuals wno made the prints; however, this system is not as accurate as the stride measurement.


Figure 8-3.36-inch box method.

c. Recognizing Other Signs of Displacement Foliage, moss, vines, sticks, or rocks that are scuffed or snagged from their original position form valuable indicators. Vines may be dragged, dew droplets displaced, or stones and sticks overturned (A, Figure 8-4) to show a different color underneath. Grass or other vegetation may be bent or broken in the direction of movement (B, Figure 8-4).

(1) The sniper inspects all areas for bits of clothing, threads, or dirt from footgear that can be torn or can fall and be left on thorns, snags, or the ground.

(2) Flushed from their natural habitat, wild animals and birds are another example of displacement. Cries of birds excited by unnatural movement is an indicator; moving tops of tall grass or brush on a windless day indicates that someone is moving the vegetation.

(3) Changes in the normal life of insects and spiders may indicate that someonenas recently passed. Valuable clues are disturbed bees, ant holes uncovered by someone moving over them, or tom spider webs. Spiders often spin webs across open areas, trails, or roads to trap flying insects. If the tracked person does not avoid these webs, he leaves an indicator to an observant sniper.

(4) If the person being followed tries to use a stream to cover his trail, the sniper can still follow successfully. Algae and other water plants can be displaced by lost footing or by careless walking. Rocks can be displaced from their original position or overturned to indicate a lighter or darker color on the opposite side. The person entering or exiting a stream creates slide marks or footprints, or scuffs the bark on roots or sticks (C, Figure 8-4). Normally, a person or animal seeks the path of least resistance; therefore, when searching the stream for an indication of departures, snipers will find signs in open areas along the banks.




Figure 8-4. Other displacements.




Figure 8-4. Other displacements.

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