Battle Tracking is creating a visual display, usually a map, tracking all friendly and enemy actions on the the battlefield so that you have a better view of what’s happening and can then make informed decisions about what course of action to pursue. In the US Military it’s called a “SITMAP” or situation map, so that you can glance at it and see the situation.
How strong is your situation map game? It’s probably just as good as your Area Study game, right? Non-Existent.
Understanding your current situation is not just for the battlefield. As a corporate security professional, we use a SITMAP when conducting a surveillance operation or when conducting executive protection in the field. We also use it for disaster planning/active shooter incident war-gaming. Any type of graphical representation of what’s happening is a great tool.
Knowing where the opposition is in relation to you is the best way to plan where to deploy resources to defend against them.
Here’s what Nehemiah, the GrandFather of Combat Engineers, had to say about knowing what’s going on with the enemy in God’s Ultimate Tactical Handbook:
Therefore, I stationed some of the people
Behind the lowest parts of the wall
At the exposed places, posting them
By families, with their swords, spears, and bows.
Nehemiah knew where he was weak and where the opposition was strong, so he placed resources there to guard against it.
This applies to more than just battle, it applies to every aspect of security for your home, bug out location, or business.
Sun Tzu also said the same thing:
If you know the enemy & know yourself,
You need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
If you know yourself, but not the enemy,
For every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat.
If you neither the enemy nor yourself,
You will succumb in every battle.
This weekend, while ANTIFA and Stop the Steal groups squared off in Washington DC, there was a third group quietly along the sidelines, tracking everything: Those tasked with protecting certain personalities who traveled to the District for the events.
What was learned almost immediately was that ANTIFA had a strong battle tracking game. They have obviously received some serious training, and I’m not certain that this mapping of theirs wasn’t created with the help of someone speaking Russian or Mandarin, but the fact is, someone trained them to a high level. So high, in fact, that our professional SITMAP looked eerily similar to theirs. I’m going to share with you their SITMAPs that they posted PUBLICLY for anyone who wanted to see them. That was their only mistake.
First, here is an image of the SITMAP legend, explaining things.
Notably, their elements are black, the Stop the Steal elements are red, and police are police images.
There are a few more images attached of things as the day progressed and the police engaged. They began the tracking as soon as their opposition began arriving and continued until only their personnel were still on the street (so they thought).
The lesson to be learned is this: If you opposition is tracking you and planning on how best to confront you, shouldn’t you do the same?
The lazy do not roast any game,
But the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.
Don’t be lazy, be diligent.
The tool that I use to maintain a SITMAP while in the field is a BattleBoard (www.battleboard.us). My addiction to these is complete, because a new one arrived at my house just yesterday. I have the BattleBoard Scout in all three sizes, because each is good for a different task. I use the small size for checklists and documenting notes. The medium I put a map of the immediate operations area in the window and track what’s going on right where I am. I then use that to transfer it to a larger SITMAP in my Scout Large. The polycarbonate window of the large accommodates a map size of 9×12, so it’s perfect for putting a street map in and planning routes, tracking incidents, and maintaining awareness.
The polycarbonate on them allows me to use either dry or wet erase markers, or grease pencils, but I prefer to use wet-erase. Wet-erase markers have plenty of color options for tracking different groups or events, and being wet erase prevents them from being accidentally erased through rough handling.
I generally keep the small one in my hand or a cargo pocket, the medium in the outside pocket on a backpack, and the large in the large compartment of a backpack. They are easy to carry and allow you to quickly brief anyone else on exactly what is going on in your local area.
When running some type of permanent on-going map, you would prepare a large wall map with some type of an overlay sheet that you would draw on. You can use a table top, but I prefer a well map, so that no one is tempted to set things on the map itself.
Battle Tracking and maintaining a SITMAP is a critical skill for those interested in preparedness.
Let’s say you and several others live in a rural community and are concerned about refugees from the city traveling to your area and causing problems (check out Prairie Fire by Clay Martin for more on this). You could maintain a wall map where you track contact with groups entering your area. After a few contacts, the map will show you the trend of where these groups are entering your area and you can then either direct patrols in the area or set up a checkpoint. That’s just one example of its usefulness.
A great resource for training on battle tracking is our friend Sam Culper at Forward Observer (www.forwardobsever.com).
Start learning how to conduct battle tracking and I even suggest maintaining a SITMAP at all times. I don’t recommend making it exclusively digital, because if the power goes out, you lose your SITMAP.
As I say every few days, buy paper maps.
Track your opposition, they’re tracking you.
7 thoughts on “Battle Tracking”
My school had 3 rules for situational awareness I think you miffy t find useful, which you went into fair depth here: 1. Know yourself, 2. Know your enemy, 3. Know your environment. Story th
Gonna have to look into those battle boards. They seem like a superb idea to make maps reusable.
I’ve never had any formal training on any of this, but it reminded me a lot of how my hunting buddy and I review and discuss our plans for a weekend hunt. Usually, we start with a map of the area and gather info from the property owner regarding game animal activity to mark on the map. Right before for each hunt (usually twice a day – morning and evening) we review the areas we will each cover prior to heading out and record additional notes on the map after each hunt. I suppose this is a rudimentary version of a similar practice.
It’s exactly the same process. I have 3 BattleBoards and I do use one for hunting. Another good military skill that translates to hunting and could use the board is called making a range card. You would draw in your blind and then sketch the landmarks, estimating the range to them. That way, you could determine the range just before shooting by looking at the plot.. That way know what adjustments to make.
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Hadn’t thought about ranging with the map. Normally, I do that once I’m in the blind with the range finder and write it down in the field notebook. Also use that time to collect environmental data and update the shooting calc to get environmentally corrected adjustments (unless I already have good DOPE for that) – that goes into the notebook as well. Might be a bit overboard since I’m not engaging deer at extended distances where those differences really matter, but it’s hard to resist given my ballistic nerd tendencies.
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I recognize the area on your map.
You might enjoy a short piece of fiction focused on the area just slightly west of that area: http://eatonrapidsjoe.blogspot.com/2020/09/home-field-advantage-beginning.html
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to communicate
I shall. I will be in that same area tomorrow morning.
One the third installment already… I literally grew up there. Jenison Street, between Willow and Oakland. Great writing.