Comment at WRSA….on ‘Night Movements’ from a Recent Participant…

To this post and the subject of ‘Night Movements.’

Good enough to stand alone.


In the Deuce we used to hunt the SF guys and they would Hunt us.

So much fun. Exhausting work, But fun. You pretty much always have to take the long way at night.

A few things I learned.

1) You can follow a sentry or patrol in the leafy woods by “stepping in step” with them. If you extend your Stride you can sneak up right behind them. Works every time. Crunch, Crunch, Crunch… dead.

2) You can see a red light with with a pair of 3rd Gen NVGs at nearly 300 meters or more. Depending on the moonlight. Seriously guys, the red light thing is a practically a Hollywood gimmick. Make sure you use a poncho to cover up. If the air is clear and the LOS is there, You can see even farther.

3)Your hearing is much, much better at night.

4) Wildlife makes ALOT of background noise. So skip the whistles, claps, and snaps. Practice an owl hoot or perhaps series of clicks. Youtube has unlimited videos of the sounds for wildlife in your area. Look them up and Practice those.

5) Night Sights are your friend. If you can’t afford a night sight, a touch of glow-in-the-dark paint works in a pinch. Make sure the top of your front sight post is still smooth, flat, and black. You don’t want extra gunk on that thing.

6) You move much, much slower. When I was at my peak, my time was (Probably) plus 20 percent at night assuming you don’t walk into a draw. My pace count is about 70 during the day and nearly 90 at night. If you don’t know what a draw is, it’s the Biological equivalent of no-mans-land times three. They are found outside of the blue parts(Water) on your map every time. Seriously, the green monster will swallow a whole paratrooper, or Green Beret, and his gear. Take off your stupid battle belt and put it in your ruck when the sun goes down. If you go into a draw with a battle belt on, you will exit the draw without your battle belt. Good news though, you might find someone else’s Battle Belt. The battle belt is cool if you feel like moving every fucking vine or branch out of the way from snagging. I assure you this gets exhausting. That shit is so stupid in the woodbine. Save the cool guy gear for the Urban Environments.

7) Go way the fuck around any water if you can. You can hear every sound coming across still waters. Also, post up near water if you can, but move directing in and out. You can hear everything around you. I was “Killed” several times because I didn’t bounce around the water. The SF dudes even warned us and they still got us several times because they were posting up near the water. Hard to defend, hard to assault. Lose-Lose all around. It’s a slaughter house for both sides and one hell of a tricky obstacle. It’s the tactical equivalent of playing poker and everyone has wild cards up their sleeves.

8) When you establish a Bivouac site, you can set up the sentry/point position ponchos like a sonar dish, they can be used to enhance your hearing. It’s not incredible, but its def worth testing if you can make it work.

9) Whisper. Always, Always, Always Whisper. Sound carries very well at night.

10) You can hand-rail roads to speed up your movements significantly. Headlights on any normal Vehicle can’t see much past 150-200 yards dead ahead with Low-beams, 300 or more with High-beams. on either side its maybe 25 meters. 99.9999/100 Vehicles will NOT see a camouflaged Man 3 feet off a wooded road. We never got caught by a vehicle.

11) For whatever reason, Wildlife is very Curious about you at night. Typically Mammals and Birds. We used to avoid eating at night. It brings out the curious woodland creatures in droves. The last thing you want is someone picking up the raccoons or Coyotes flowing you around picking up scraps and digging up your buried litter.

12) Command and Control of your Troopers is ten times harder. Keep Your head count, and tighten up your formations. You will lose someone if you don’t make sure everyone is moving the same direction. You have to be right on your buddies ass. A single glow stick on the back of the lead element’s helmet can designate the front of the formation. A different color for the rear can identify the rear of the element. You can use regular masking tape to block out some of the “Glow” OR you can pop your night time sticks during the day and by night time they are significantly dimmer.

13) Make sure any gear you take off or take out is put right back or put an extra carabiner on you kit to hook stuff together. You WILL lose something if you don’t.

14) 95% of Firefights occur at night at less than 10 meters. SO make your peace with God now.

15) Don’t have Light sticks, Flash Lights, Tactical Lights or anything like that hanging around. You WILL accidentally trigger the light or break the chem. It could be minutes before you even notice.

16) Put your gun team or heavy weapons in the rear. Odds are you will walk right into the enemy. You want your big guns in the rear so they can save your ass.

17) Your point man MUST have the best night vision, hearing, and directional awareness regardless of rank, position, duty, or title. They also need to understand how to react if they walk up on the enemy or into an ambush. Which WILL happen. That is only a matter of time. Make sure you dry run this and talk it out. You cannot be planing a hasty raid 30 meters from the enemy. That shit should already be planned and a simple left, right, or down the middle is all your boys need to know. You can’t run around whispering the Op into every swinging dick’s ear. You are gonna get shot doing that. 90% of security is in a triangle. So there are always two belt feed weapons pointed at you. Even if you only see one, there is two, or more. Probably more.

18) ALWAY Tell people where you are going, how long, and how far. Even if it’s just to piss.

19) Shut the fuck up. The leaves on the trees trap sound and amplifies it in every direction.

20) The Enemy is going to hear you before they see you in dense woods. But in the “Healthy” Woods the enemy will notice your movement very, very quickly. The woods stand still at night because the wind doesn’t penetrate, so naturally If you enter the “Woodline Saturation State” people turn into Hawkeye within a couple of days of Nighttime woodland Ops. Any movement is a 110% Eye catching give away. Instead of dropping to the ground or taking a knee, you should “melt” into your surroundings or “melt” into the ground. Slowly, and smoothly. Don’t swing your rifle around like Tom Cruise. You need to be slow, and smooth and steady. Like a deer. Move Like a deer.

21) If you are walking in an area with a lot of dead fall, You need to pick up your feet. You can pretty much eliminate 90% of trip hazards by simply lifting your stride a little higher. And tighten your damn boot laces up. You will step on a 3 inch branch and roll the ever loving fuck out of your ankle.

22) Practice your hand signals. All hand signals need to be issued directly in front of your face or off to the side so they can differentiate the two details. You can’t have a camouflaged hand giving hand signals in front of your camouflaged kit. Your buddies can’t see it.

23) Tracers in a Firefight at night are absolutely awesome. They light up your enemy AO and create little fires around them. This silhouettes your targets. You’ll see them bound, move, dive, and run and most importantly you will see them looking at their buddies. It also has the added effect of inevitably ruining their night vision as we are biologically hardwired to look at a flame. Which is good if you break contact. Plus their bivouac site is at risk of burning. Which is also good. And, god willing, if you win the fire fight you can sweep and clear EPW, EKIA, and EWIA with a serious quickness.

24) If you walk into a hasty ambush, linear ambush, or textbook complex ambush at night you are gonna take a lot of casualties and likely someone will be captured. Make sure you have a rendezvous point established that is well within your own turf. I would suggest at least a solid 12 hour march or 20 miles depending on terrain. If you engage an enemy, Within minutes more bad guys are gonna be spun up and coming to get you. Modern Militaries send their Coordinates up the chain of command when they camp out. This is to prevent friendly fire and also makes things easier for the artillery and Intel guys. They will be right on top of you within 20-30 minutes. 30 minutes if they take a wrong turn. Which happens a lot at night.

25) If you can’t carry the enemy equipment, for the love of god destroy it. We don’t need it, and they can’t have it back. Besides, its probably bugged anyway.

Feel free to add, correct, or modify this in anyway.

***Also, in the early 90’s and 80’s they used to walk around with flashlights taped to their rifles. Don’t do that. We don’t do that anymore. Thats Cold War killing commies crap. The purpose being they shoot at your and your drop indirect on them. You don’t have an entire army backing you up. That’s for the Regulars, not the irregulars.*** We don’t do that anymore. ***


8 thoughts on “Comment at WRSA….on ‘Night Movements’ from a Recent Participant…

  1. gamegetterII

    Great info!
    Something to consider- watch and listen to medium to large animals moving through the woods.
    Almost every 4 legged critter that’s spooked and being hyper aware of it’s surroundings takes a frw steps and stops they always take an odd number of steps then stop.
    Most people walking through the woods trying to be quit take an even number of steps then stop.
    Just something I noticed from spending a lot of time in the woods hunting.

  2. anonymous

    Great content and thoughts – thank you for writing it. I was never in the military or LEO services, but have done some nightime hiking on our ranch so am somewhat experienced with this subject. Some of my own thoughts:

    You can see quite a bit more of natural travel lanes if you hunker down to see them. So when you rest, try to NOT be in middle of one of these lanes – you are in full view of anyone else out there.

    Take shorter strides – it is much easier to stop in place if you need to. And when you stop, make sure to be in position for shooting offhand, rather than having to take a step forward / back to do so.

    Thank you again for the post.

  3. anonymous

    One more tip – you can be reasonably assured that no one has used the path you are on if you continually run into spider webs that run across the main path. These are repaired overnight.

    If you notice that they are broken – someone or something was there to break them.

  4. LFMayor

    Good stuff RS! I would add to watch out for trash piles, junk, etc around outbuildings. Especially the old farms out in the middle of nowhere. Walking into a sickle bar, cultivator or a harrow is going to jack you up badly and old roofing tin sounds like a gong when it gets stepped on in the wee hours.
    Ware the dogs, too. And skunks!

  5. Pingback: Tricks & Techniques of Small Infantry Operation At Night – Dirt People

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