The NVA or VC Regular troops were in shock when the “Ghost teams and Devil Dogs” blew through their midst. These men were the U.S. Army Combat Tracker Teams of the Vietnam War and few believed they even existed. From the time of that strange war until the late 1990s, these men who had been closer than brothers were separated by the secrecy of international policies. It was then that a small group of people started an effort to find the veteran Trackers, their instructors, and their history, and to reunite everyone.
The tracker teams were an unusual specialty trained to the highest standards of war craft. The training was conceived by the British Army on the lines of the SAS 22 R counter-terrorist protocols and the famed tracking skills as taught by the New Zealand SAS. The K9 combat tracking experts of the #2 War Dog Training Unit of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps were responsible for the training for handlers of the Labrador retriever who would supply the speed and scenting abilities. In actual training, failure at a simple exercise during training meant immediate dismissal and a return to a regular line unit in “the ‘Nam.” Other special ops forces of this caliber were given years to hone their skills – these young Americans had a matter of three months at the most. The KIA ratio of the teams was less than half of the regular troops fighting in Vietnam. However, some of the greatest threats to the team came not from the enemy but from “friendly fire” due to an ignorance of how the specialty should be deployed, or arrogance in trying to prove that the “old way” was superior.
After their commendable service, they were sent to various other assignments with the proviso that the entire operation “never happened.” They were bound to secrecy because the UK – who had designed the program and initially oversaw the training — had signed the provisions of the 1954 Geneva Conference and was supposed to be neutral in the War.
About the Author
Author Sue Merritt resides in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, with her husband Frank, one of the original Combat Trackers. They founded and continue to host the website for the veteran CTTs. She was motivated to write Seek On! because this outstanding group of men gave their youth to their country and were never recognized for their outstanding service.