Team Communications

April 30th, 2012

Team Communication and Formations

By Joe Bertoni

I do not claim to be a writer or a master tracker; however, I am familiar with working in a tactical environment and often do so in my occupation. Whether you use a two man team or a five man team, I hope you can use some of this information to assist in your training. Remember, there are several methods of training and this is just one of many.

The first two areas which are most likely to breakdown on a tracking team or any team, is communication and a team’s formation. Communication is a must and without it a team will be unsuccessful.  Whether you are conducting a search and rescue mission or a tactical mission where you are using verbal or non verbal communication, or the combination of both, the ability to communicate should be a primary part of your training and mastered prior to conducting a mission.  The team needs to be able to maintain their team formations while moving through an area. The collapse of the formation is a direct reflection of the team’s inability to communicate with each other.  When the formations collapses, the team places themselves in danger, risks the lost of evidence of sign, and misdirection of the team.  To prevent this from happening, the team needs to take the time to work on team communication and movements without considering the tracks.

The tracking team should predetermine a set way of communicating with each other.  Whether it is verbal or none verbal communication the way of communicating should be set and always remain the same. Each team member should study and know the communication procedures inside and out.  When a command is given no team member should have to think about it or hesitate.   Once the communication is set, the team should place themselves in their formations and practice moving using the commands.

Only one person should be giving the commands and it should not be the tracker unless it is a two man team.  Most likely it will be the team leader giving the commands to the team.  It is very common for the tracker to communicate with the team leader and the team leader then communicate with the other members of the team. There are several types of formation and structures for teams depending on the purpose and mission of the team. I will not get into tracking formations here and will leave that up to your team and team leader.

After the team is able to follow the commands, the next step is to work on moving in formation.  This can be done by placing markers several yards apart. The markers can be sprinkler flags, stakes, or some other type of object.  Place the flags in various terrains such as wooded areas, heave brush, narrow valleys and open areas. The team will then form on the first marker.

From the first marker the tracker should be able to see the second marker. With the tracker leading the direction and speed of the team, the team will move to the second marker. Once they reach the second marker, the tracker should have a visual of the third marker and so on….. The team leader should be providing information to the other members of the team such as direction of travel and whether the team needs to close or open their formations depending on the environment and terrain. The team needs to practice this type of training over long distances.

When the team can master communication, moving together in formation, and the team does not have members wondering off in their own directions, you can remove the flags, lay track and see how the team performs. If the team breakdown, start over again at the basics.

This article is dedicated to my good friend and teacher Fernando Moreira. Fernando owns and operates Professional Tracking Services. For more information on tracking go to:

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