a. Moving by Dead Reckoning. Dead reckoning consists of two fundamental steps. The first is the use of a protractor and graphic scales to determine the direction and distance from one point to another on a map. The second step is the use of a compass and some means of measuring distance to apply this information on the ground. In other words, it begins with the determination of a polar coordinate on a map and ends with the act of finding it on the ground.
(1) Dead reckoning along a given route is the application of the same process used by a mapmaker as he establishes a measured line of reference upon which to construct the framework of his map. Therefore, triangulation exercises (either resection or intersection) can be easily undertaken by the navigator at any time to either determine or confirm precise locations along or near his route. Between these position-fixes, establish your location by measuring or estimating the distance traveled along the azimuth being followed from the previous known point. You might use pacing, a vehicle odometer, or the application of elapsed time for this purpose, depending upon the situation.
(2) Most dead reckoned movements do not consist of single straight-line distances because you cannot ignore the tactical and navigational aspects of the terrain, enemy situation, natural and man-made obstacles, time, and safety factors. Another reason most dead reckoning movements are not single straight-line distances is because compasses and pace-counts are imprecise measures. Error from them compounds over distance; therefore, you could soon be far afield from your intended route even if you performed the procedures correctly. The only way to counteract this phenomenon is to reconfirm your location by terrain association or resection. Routes planned for dead reckoning generally consist of a series of straight-line distances between several checkpoints with perhaps some travel running on or parallel to roads or trails.
(3) There are two advantages to dead reckoning. First, dead reckoning is easy to teach and to learn. Second, it can be a highly accurate way of moving from one point to another if done carefully over short distances, even where few external cues are present to guide the movements.
(4) During daylight, across open country, along a specified magnetic azimuth, never walk with the compass in the open position and in front of you. Because the compass will not stay steady or level, it does not give an accurate reading when held or used this way. Begin at the start point and face with the compass in the proper direction, then sight in on a landmark that is located on the correct azimuth to be followed. Close the compass and proceed to that landmark. Repeat the process as many times as necessary to complete the straight-line segment of the route.
(5) The landmarks selected for this purpose are called steering marks, and their selection is crucial to success in dead reckoning. Steering marks should never be determined from a map study. They are selected as the march progresses and are commonly on or near the highest points that you can see along the azimuth line that you are following when they are selected. They may be uniquely shaped trees, rocks, hilltops, posts, towers, and buildings—anything that can be easily identified. If you do not see a good steering mark to the front, you might use a back azimuth to some feature behind you until a good steering mark appears out in front. Characteristics of a good steering mark are:
(a) It must have some characteristics about it, such as color, shade of color, size, or shape (preferably all four), that will assure you that it will continue to be recognized as you approach it.
(b) If several easily distinguished objects appear along your line of march, the best steering mark is the most distant object. This procedure enables you to travel farther with fewer references to the compass. If you have many options, select the highest object. A higher mark is not as easily lost to sight as is a lower mark that blends into the background as you approach it. A steering mark should be continuously visible as you move toward it.
(c) Steering marks selected at night must have even more unique shapes than those selected during daylight. As darkness approaches, colors disappear and objects appear as black or gray silhouettes. Instead of seeing shapes, you begin to see only the general outlines that may appear to change as you move and see the objects from slightly different angles.
(6) Dead reckoning without natural steering marks is used when the area through which you are traveling is devoid of features, or when visibility is poor. At night, it may be necessary to send a member of the unit out in front of your position to create your own steering mark in order to proceed. His position should be as far out as possible to reduce the number of chances for error as you move. Arm-and-hand signals or a radio may be used in placing him on the correct azimuth. After he has been properly located, move forward to his position and repeat the process until some steering marks can be identified or until you reach your objective.
(7) When handling obstacles/detours on the route, follow these guidelines:
(a) When an obstacle forces you to leave your original line of march and take up a parallel one, always return to the original line as soon as the terrain or situation permits.
(b) To turn clockwise (right) 90 degrees, you must add 90 degrees to your original azimuth. To turn counterclockwise (left) 90 degrees from your current direction, you must subtract 90 degrees from your present azimuth.
(c) When making a detour, be certain that only paces taken toward the final destination are counted as part of your forward progress. They should not be confused with the local pacing that takes place perpendicular to the route in order to avoid the problem area and in returning to the original line of march after the obstacle has been passed.
(8) Sometimes a steering mark on your azimuth of travel can be seen across a swamp or some other obstacle to which you can simply walk out around. Dead reckoning can then begin at that point. If there is no obvious steering mark to be seen across the obstacle, perhaps one can be located to the rear. Compute a back azimuth to this point and later sight back to it once the obstacle has been passed in order to get back on track.
(9) You can use the deliberate offset technique. Highly accurate distance estimates and precision compass work may not be required if the destination or an intermediate checkpoint is located on or near a large linear feature that runs nearly perpendicular to your direction of travel. Examples include roads or highways, railroads, power transmission lines, ridges, or streams. In these cases, you should apply a deliberate error (offset) of about 10 degrees to the azimuth you planned to follow and then move, using the lensatic compass as a guide, in that direction until you encounter the linear feature. You will know exactly which way to turn (left or right) to find your destination or checkpoint, depending upon which way you planned your deliberate offset.
(10) Because no one can move along a given azimuth with absolute precision, it is better to plan a few extra steps than to begin an aimless search for the objective once you reach the linear feature. If you introduce your own mistake, you will certainly know how to correct it. This method will also cope with minor compass errors and the slight variations that always occur in the earth's magnetic field.
(11) There are disadvantages to dead reckoning. The farther you travel by dead reckoning without confirming your position in relation to the terrain and other features, the more errors you will accumulate in your movements. Therefore, you should confirm and correct your estimated position whenever you encounter a known feature on the ground that is also on the map. Periodically, you should accomplish a resection triangulation using two or more known points to pinpoint and correct your position on the map. Pace counts or any type of distance measurement should begin anew each time your position is confirmed on the map.
(a) It is dangerous to select a single steering mark, such as a distant mountaintop, and then move blindly toward it. What will you do if you must suddenly call for fire support or a medical evacuation? You must periodically use resection and terrain association techniques to pinpoint your location along the way.
(b) Steering marks can be farther apart in open country, thereby making navigation more accurate. In areas of dense vegetation, however, where there is little relief, during darkness, or in fog, your steering marks must be close together. This, of course, introduces more chance for error.
(c) Finally, dead reckoning is time-consuming and demands constant attention to the compass. Errors accumulate easily and quickly. Every fold in the ground and detours as small as a single tree or boulder also complicate the measurement of distance.