Searching Dead Bodies

 You either kill some enemy after a battle or come across some dead enemy personnel. They can provide new equipment (uniforms, weapons, ammo) for you and intelligence materials so they should, if time and security allow, be searched.

First thing if you want to search them is you must follow your METT-T plans. Don’t interfere with the mission to stop and search bodies. Also you must post proper security in the immediate area and farther away for early warning incase the platoon you ambushed was the forward element of a company coming down the road. Have a prearranged signal to let everyone know to stop the search and move out. All you people should know what to do if you have to move out quickly such as which ORP to move to if the enemy comes from this or that direction before, during or right after your search.

If they are located in an open field with no cover you have to decide if it is worth exposing yourself to a possible ambush or sniper fire. This can also be done by you against the enemy retrieving their dead. If you need to search bodies in the open, consider moving them to a wooded or more secure area.

Be wary of all dead bodies till proven so, especially if they are still holding a weapon or lying on an arm which may be holding a weapon you cannot see. The enemy may be playing opossum, waiting for you to approach to kill you even if they are mortally wounded.

You and your teammate should cover the body with your weapons, ready to fire if there is movement. If you are searching, your partner moves to a spot where he can shoot the enemy without catching you in the cross fire. Be ready to kill the enemy or to move away if your partner sees something and tells you to “MOVE!” You should move up from where the enemy cannot see you. Approach from the enemy’s feet, if they are lying on their belly and from their head if they are lying on their back. When you get near them cross from left to right or right to left so they cannot predict or see where you are going to be when you actually reach them. Remember if they are alive they may be watching through squinted eyes and listening for where you are coming from.

Continue to watch for any movement and be prepared to shoot. A pistol works better for this in my opinion because you are able to keep it close without a chance of them grabbing it from you. You can also check for life while still able to effectively shoot unlike with a rifle in your arms. If the enemy is obviously dead (decapitation, rotted or other injuries incompatible with life) half your problem is over.

You need to confirm death to be safe. Simple way is to insert your knife into their neck or a boot to the head, ribs or abdomen. Keep in mind equipment or armor they may be wearing. Kicking a canteen only pisses off the canteen. If they are holding a weapon, cover them, step onto the arm holding the weapon and remove it from them.

If these are not fresh killed enemy that you saw fall they might have been booby trapped for you to find.

To check for booby traps such as grenades, approach the same way, look then feel for any wirese or other devices attached to them along their body and sides. Lay on the ground next to the body, place their arm nearest you along their body, reach over them and roll them up onto their side. You partner should be looking for a grenade or other booby traps while covering as you do this. He should be close enough to observe for these devices but far enough away to be safe. If he sees something he should yell “grenade”. When he does this immediately push the body back onto the device and roll away while your partner moves away. The enemy body should absorb most of the blast. Another reason for you to not be wearing gear that is too bulky to be an effective fighter. Your partner could yell anything but “grenade” is a universal term which can be immediately understood without having to stop and think. Decreasing reaction time is important here. If one is booby trapped they may all be booby trapped and you should leave the rest of make sure they are booby trapped for the enemy to find.

Another solution is to tie a loop of 550 cord around the bodies hand, foot or neck and drag or roll them from a distance to set off any booby traps.

Remember when searching to check their pockets, gear and boots for intelligence materials such as maps, code books etc. Turn their pockets inside out, remove their web gear and pull up their shirt. Don’t spend time at the scene analyzing what you find. Put it all into a waiting empty pack or bag to go over thoroughly later when you are in a secure location.

Make sure along with security you have someone keeping an audible count of time (for example 30 seconds) so you do not lose track of how long you are spending at the location. Eventually more enemy will come looking for their dead friends and you want to either ambush them or move out before they get there.