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History, Philosophy and Mission

Our training mission and philosophy are reflected in our motto: "Esse Quam Videri" which means "to be rather than appear to be". We are an authentic training group that will not present you, our customer, with something that will not work in the field. We know what is at stake in the law enforcement and search and rescue arenas and will not attempt to sell you on a concept or tactic that will not benefit your efforts.

Furthermore, the skills that you will learn in our courses are but tools. Properly employed, they will augment enforcement and rescue operations. Seldom are they stand alone tactics. In our basic courses, we will provide you with quality training that will lay a foundation for you to master these skill sets and thus become the best at your job. Our advanced courses will allow you to further develop your expertise, allowing you"to be rather than appear to be".

The concept of a Tactical Woodland Operations School began as a result of several incidents that occurred throughout my career as a Law Enforcement Ranger. In the early 1990's we began to have several poaching cases that involved track evidence which resulted in me being qualified as an expert witness in the area of Visual Tracking. In 1998 the line of duty murder of a fellow ranger, Joe Kolodski, and the subsequent manhunt and prosecution of the suspect furthered my realization of the value of tracking to enforcement operations.

Shortly after Joe's death, the manhunt for domestic terrorist Eric Robert Rudolph began and I found myself serving as a tracker for specialized units from the FBI and ATF. I served in this capacity for a year and further expanded my belief that the skill of visual tracking and tactical movement was a valuable skill set for most law enforcement agencies. Upon my return to rangering, I received authorization to form and lead an 8 man tactical tracking team which would serve the National Park Service and support local agencies in high-risk woodland operations. This was a highly successful team and was a model for teams across the U.S.

In 2007 I provided a Woodland Operations course to the Tactics Branch at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) and in 2008 became a Lead Instructor and Subject Matter Expert in the area of Woodlland Operations and the associated disciplines. Upon retiring from FLETC in 2012, I  opened the Tactical Woodland Operations School in Franklin, NC.

OUR MISSION: Is to provide the training and practical field experience for students who attend our course. Tracking and Search for individuals has been known to be extremely high risk, at Tactical Woodland Operations School, we will provide the training and consultation making sure that every public safety employee or volunteer has the tools to perform it safely.


Pat Patten, Founder of Tactical Woodland Operations School









To schedule a class or for additional information email: patten@woodlandoperations.com

 Phone:  828-736-1213 

TACTICAL WOODLAND OPERATIONS SCHOOL LLC ®   Cullowhee, NC 28723
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"Performing law enforcement duties in a woodland environment is not a skill you're born with. It's passed along by an expert to an officer that recognizes the value of woodland operations in solving crimes. Correctly, the untrained officer will stay on the pavement due to the danger of chasing a criminal in the woodland environment. The woodland trained officer goes where others can't and brings to justice those that see the wilderness as their sanctuary."  

John Mattox, Special Agent, National Park Service