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Wolf Pack 103: Sole Mates

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When I made this image in Helmand on the same day that we were ambushed, we could see Afghans using signal mirrors. We saw the flashes, not the people. Afghans often keep small signal mirrors inside their snuff cans.

image013-1000A smartphone application could connect the photograph that I made near Sangin (lower left), with the shoe sole near Tarin Kot (upper right). The airplane icon close to the red line denotes an airfield near the Provincial Reconstruction team in Tarin Kot. Chora is the location of another dead Taliban that I photographed wearing his shoes: DEAD TALIBAN of Chora.

These prints match the shoe type.  I am not leaping to premature conclusions, or claiming that these Afghans hang out in the same training base in Pakistan and wear the same shoes at their bomb school. But some fact-patterns can be revealed in seconds by melding old-school tracking with new-school gadgets.

In Afghanistan, the incidence of these prints can be melded with other patterns, such as tribal distributions, or similarities in IED types.  Sole impressions can be linked to fingerprints, to retina images, and to countless other bits of information.  The experts know their business and can fill in the blanks.  The crucial tactical tracking piece is still missing.

Tracks are the single most pervasive form of evidence.

In this case, it took years and luck when I sent this dispatch to the Dutch Marine.  Where else is this shoe pattern showing up?

It would be worthwhile to compare these sole prints against the shoes of suicide attackers, and to the Taliban who destroyed our Marine Harrier squadron at Camp Bastion earlier this year.  It would be prudent, as a matter of force protection, to build a database of prints that appear around our bases.

Please stay tuned for Wolfpack 104

For more on combat tracking courses.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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