Tracker Mindset for Explosive Device Emplacement Indicator Detection

Report No. ARL-TR-6989
Authors: Kristin M. Schweitzer; Alan D. Davison
Date/Pages: September 2014; 106 pages
Abstract: While investigating landmine detection training for the AN/PSS-14, we noticed operators were so focused on the detectors auditory output that they were surprisingly unaware of the visual indicators present from the emplacement process and even the landmine itself. We expanded our investigation to explore the possibility that visual detection training might improve landmine and improvised explosive device detection. We interviewed professional individuals who visually search natural environments, identified the methods they used to search an area, and analyzed the cognitive processes they used to interpret the information they perceived. We developed a curriculum based on the consistently successful methods most noted amongst the trackers and their approach to finding spoor. This study was a first step to evaluate the effectiveness of that visual detection curriculum. Our goal was to produce readily deployable training that unit leaders could use to improve their Soldiers visual detection skills. Each of the 28 Soldier-Engineers we recruited to participate in the study completed a pretraining knowledge test, photograph test, and spoor pit test. They participated in classroom instruction and practical exercises and then retook the three tests. We conclude that the training positively influenced the Soldiers ability to detect and interpret ground indicators, but we recommend improvements such as more varied and detailed indicators and scenarios before final deployment of the training.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2014