Prepper SALUTE Report – An Observation and Reporting Tool

Prepper SALUTE Report – An Observation and Reporting Tool

The SALUTE Report, also known as the Spot Report is(as in ‘I spotted something’) is a U.S. Army Skill Level 1 Task (Skill Level 1 Tasks apply to everyone from the brand new recruit to the senior General Officer) that makes it easier for a soldier to observe and report information of intelligence value or information that can be used to immediate advantage.  Essentially the SALUTE Report is an observation and reporting mnemonic and technique.  The Prepper SALUTE Report is an easy skill to learn and it’s definitely worth learning whether you’re a prepper and just a concerned citizen.

SALUTE is actually an acronym and does use a little military jargon so I’ll interpret and help you apply this tool to situations as diverse as use in a Neighborhood Protection District (neighborhood watch on steroids when law enforcement can’t be relied upon) or by a concerned citizen who sees potential criminal or terror activity like the recent bombings in Boston.

SaluteThe Acronym:

The acronym SALUTE stands for Size, Activity, Location, Unit/Uniform, Time Observed and Equipment.  When properly used this technique guides your observations in order to provide the who, what, when, where and possibly how as well as provide a standardized reporting format.  If you don’t have a method at hand to jot down your report it will also aid you in recalling the details of what you’ve observed.

Now let’s look at each element of the Prepper SALUTE Report in more detail:

Size:  Report the number of people, vehicles, barricades, etc. that you observe.  Be as specific as possible.  Report “2 cars and 1 sport utility vehicle each with two occupants,” not “several cars” or “a bunch of people.”  With Size, precision counts…pun intended.

Activity:  What activities did you observe?  Be as thorough and as specific as possible.  Good examples include “manning a barricade and stealing from cars before they’re let through,” or “watching the crossroads.”  Include a sketch of the area you’re describing if possible.  Think verbs with ‘Activity’ to paint a picture with words which will help the party you’re reporting to visualize the activity.  Also, don’t forget to report what direction the observed party is heading and how fast if appropriate.

Location:  Where did the activity you observed take place.  The military uses latitude and longitude (with minutes and seconds) or the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) system but you could just as easily use “the corner of 1st Street and Pine Avenue” or “a quarter mile North of the house, just East of the river: or  “the barn on the Old McDonald place.”  As long as both reporting and report taking parties both understand exactly where the activity is taking place use whatever system works.  Just make sure that you are precise and your listener clearly understands where your are talking about.

Unit/Uniform:  This provides the ‘who’ of the report.  Even in military circles Unit and Uniform don’t always apply literally as you often don’t know what unit the enemy is from and many groups on the battlefield no longer wear uniforms but let this remind you to describe the parties observed in such a way that they can be easily identified.  You can describe their clothing, “blue jeans and white t-shirts;” any distinctive apparel like “wearing black arm bands on their right arms; ” or other distinguishing features like  race, skin complexion, grooming (bearded, long haired), build, height, hair color, jewelry, license plate number, etc.  Adjectives are important here, describe who you observed in as much detail as is necessary to accomplish your task…for example, greater detail is necessary to describe a criminal to the police than to radio a description of a group walking towards your house from your observation post (after a breakdown in law enforcement).  In the first example your goal is providing information to assist with identification/capture and in the second you’re primary goal is warning your group of what’s coming.  Observe methodically…for instance describe a person from top down focusing on each element…if it’s a person think head/headgear, torso & arms, waist, legs, footwear.

Time Observed:  When did you observe the activity.  Give the actual time if at all possible, as relative time (‘about a half hour ago’) often isn’t precise enough.  Additionally, if you are reporting across time zones make sure to specify which time zone you are using to reduce the chances of a misunderstanding.

Equipment:  This is where you describe the equipment you observed in more detail and elaborate on items you may have already touched on.  For instance you may further describe the sport utility vehicle you saw as ‘equipped with off road tires and a lift kit’ which denotes additional capabilities.  You may also describe the people you saw as “equipped with rifles” (or “long guns” if you can’t tell whether the firearms are shotguns or rifles).  Focus on equipment that provides the observed party with capabilities or signals intentions.  You might be providing a description of a backpack left behind in a public area to the police or warning your group of others in the area by describing equipment that provides that other group with an offensive capability, a defensive capability a communications capacity or signals that party’s intent (a gas can and a siphon would lead you to think that the other party is coming to trade for or steal gasoline).

The Prepper SALUTE Report format provides you with a tool to aid in observing and reporting information.  Remember to tailor your report for your intent and to your intended recipient but regardless of who you’re reporting to… make sure to report quickly, completely and accurately.

Read more about the SALUTE Report at FM 2-22.3 in the U.S. Army’s Reimer Digital Library.

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