We’ve been going over some of the basics that candidates should know before taking on the Selection Course, and with a lot of prospective Special Operations guys coming into the pipeline via the 18X program for Special Forces, most don’t have any experience in Land Navigation. So, many of the questions we get are centered around that.

In previous segments, we touched on Map reading, pace count, orienting the map and plotting your starting location. Now we’ll get into the plotting and planning of your route. A proper plan makes getting there a heck of a lot easier. So, for the more experienced troops this is nothing more than a refresher, but for the younger guys just entering the military, this will be the starting point to getting selected and you should pay attention.

Plotting Your First Point: Okay in our previous segment, we’ve checked and then double-checked our location so that you know exactly where you are starting from. Now you plot your first point the exact same way.

Read to the right and up and using the 1/50,000 map scale, carefully plot your eight-digit grid coordinate to where you are going. Remember, four-digit grids get us to within 1000 meters, six-digit grids to within 100 meters and an eight-digit grid gets us to within 10 meters. Double check your plot and ensure you’ve got it right.

Now measure the distance between the two points. Remember this is straight line distance and not walking distance. Your actual traveling distance will vary from point to point depending upon your route selection and the terrain that you’ll encounter. And unless you’re walking in a desert environment, it will be more than the straight line distance, especially in the Hoffman area.

Planning the Route: There are two basic ways you can get to where you’re going. Either will get you to where you’re going but for your purposes in SFAS, one may prove to be a better option. Again, don’t go with what everyone else is doing, always do what is right for you. The two ways to get where you are going are Dead Reckoning and Terrain Association. We’ll go over both as each is useful and should be used when the time is right.

Dead Reckoning – This is a system that is done in two steps. The first is getting an azimuth from your starting point using your map and protractor and determine the distance to where your point is located at. The next step is to use your compass and your pace count and apply what you’ve already learned and walk to your point by staying as close as you can to your azimuth.

Your position can be checked from time to time using both resection or intersection when the terrain features are available. Dead Reckoning has some advantages; it is easy to teach the neophyte navigator and in open terrain, especially in grassy areas or desert type regions, it is easier to stay on the azimuth. It works well also when the distances to be covered are short.