CROSSING LINEAR DANGER AREAS (cont)
For an LDA XNG at the squad level, FM 7-8 notes "the same principles . . . are used when crossing a smaller unit across a danger area."11However, many SLs have been frustrated when they attempt to replicate all the moving parts of a platoon crossing a linear danger area. Both FM 7-8 and the ARTEP 7-8 MTP direct that the unit should cross danger areas "quickly and quietly;" leaders must ensure that the unit spends as little time as possible in the vicinity of the danger area and continues the mission. Occasionally, SLs lose focus on the mission as they get "caught up" crossing LDAs. SLs should remember that an LDA XNG eats up time, and should, therefore, consider the degree of risk the squad may take crossing LDAs according to the METT-T variables.
In some instances, such as an Infiltration through enemy lines, squads move independently, but the consequences of being detected could affect the company or battalion operation. In these cases, the SL will want to cross LDAs cautiously, scouting out the best crossing point, securing the near side, and securing and clearing the far side to avoid detection.
Although the same principles apply, the smaller size of the squad means that the distances between left and right near-side security teams, and the distance cleared by the far-side clearing team will be less than that for a platoon. A squad moving independently can cross an LDA much faster than a platoon can. Following is a 10-Step technique for a squad LDA XNG incorporating the same principles outlined in FM 7-8 and ARTEP 7-8 MTP.
lead team leader directs the squad to take action on encountering the danger
area. The point man halts and passes back the "danger area" hand-and-arm signal.
STEP 2. The SL moves forward to the point man to confirm the danger area. As with the platoon model above, the SL will select: 1) the crossing site; 2) the method of crossing; 3) near- and far-side rally points; 4) left and right near-side security positions and; 5) the composition of the near- and far-side security elements. The SL will have to conduct a personal reconnaissance of the LDA to find the best crossing point, and suitable left and right near-side security positions. At the squad level, the SL will perform all tasks performed by both the PL and the PSG for the platoon LDA XNG.
SL calls forward the left and right near-side security personnel and shows
them where he wants them positioned. The trail (B)TL readjusts the rear of
the squad to maintain 360-degree security. |
Because of the smaller size of the squad, the near-side security elements will be closer to the crossing point than they would be for a platoon LDA XNG. In the platoon example, two soldiers comprised one near-side security team, however, due to the smaller area required for the squad-sized crossing area, one soldier is the left near-side security element and another makes up the right near-side security element. As with the platoon example, these security elements need a means of communication and detection to provide early warning and appropriate weapons systems to provide security.
COMMUNICATIONS: The squad will probably have no more than two tactical radios, which means there are not enough radios for the SL to establish radio communications with his left and right near-side security elements. The squad will have to rely on other means of communications, such as visual or audible signals, to alert the main body of approaching enemy.
TTP: Again, the ir laser beam from an AN/PAQ-4 directed at the center of the LDA is a means of providing early warning. The SL quickly knows from which side the enemy is approaching by observing the AN/PAQ-4 laser beam through his NODs. If AN/PAQ-4s are not available to the squad, the near-side security elements may use the ir light source of AN/PVS-5/7 NODs, or a light source, such as a flashlight, fitted with an ir filter, directed at the crossing point. The least preferred method would be to use a visible signal such as flashing a short burst of light from a red-lens flashlight, or a wristwatch toward the crossing point, or an audible signal, such as a "clicker."
WEAPONS: Again, the near-side security elements must have the means to engage the likely threat if the squad makes contact while crossing the LDA. The near-side security elements overwatch the squad main body during the crossing.
TTP: If PAQ-4s are not available, one of the M249E SAWs should be oriented on the most likely direction of enemy approach. By having the SAW on the near-side with either left or right security, the squad has the means of placing automatic suppressive fires on the far side if the squad makes contact and must execute Battle Drill No. 2, React to Contact.
TTP: Again, if PAQ-4s are not available, the M203 grenade launcher should be opposite the SAW on the near side. This increases the reach of the squad if it makes contact, allowing the SL to place HE and smoke grenades on the enemy when reacting to contact.
OBSERVATION: The squad will probably not have two pairs of binoculars to give one to each left and right near-side security for a daylight LDA XNG. However, if the squad has binoculars, provide them to the near-side security element best able to employ them. During night crossings, ensure that each near-side security element has NODs. Both the SAW gunner and grenadier are likely to be equipped with AN/PVS-4s mounted to the weapon. If the left and right near-side security elements are equipped with M16s fitted with AN/PAQ-4, they will have AN/PVS-7 NODs to cover their sectors.
|STEP 4. When the left and right near-side security elements are in-place, the SL sends across the lead team as the far-side security element to clear the far side. The far-side security element clears the far side using the clearing method determined by the SL.|
|STEP 5. The TL of the far-side security team establishes an OP on the far side, issues a 5-point contingency plan to the two-man OP and returns to the crossing point on the far side with the remaining soldier to signal the squad leader. Using an entire team to clear the far side ensures that no soldier is alone on the far side.|
|STEP 6. Upon receiving the signal from the far-side security team, the SL moves to the far side, leaving the trail (B)TL in charge on the near side, and links up with the TL of the lead team and verifies where the direction to the OP. The ATL and his team member return to the OP and provide security.|
|STEP 7. The SL signals the BTL to send across his remaining team member who replaces the SL at the crossing point at the far side. The SL moves forward to the lead team after confirming the direction to the BTM soldier who has just crossed.|
|STEP 8. The BTL crosses the LDA, links up with his team member, exchanges information, and sends that soldier forward to link up with the remainder of the squad.|
|STEP 9. The BTL signals his left and right near-side security elements from the far side. These soldiers must alternate their attention between the crossing point and out to the flanks, to observe the squad as it crosses and to watch for enemy to the flanks. Upon receiving the BTL's signal, the two soldiers link up at the crossing point on the near side, cross together, and follow the BTL to link up with the squad.|
STEP 10. The BTL renders a report to the SL that all personnel are across the LDA. The SL directs the lead team to move, and the squad continues the mission.
FM 7-8 points out that the bounding overwatch movement technique may be used to cross a linear danger area,12which means that the process of securing the near and far sides, and clearing the far side is not required in all cases. However, if the METT-T variables require the unit to maintain stealth to avoid detection, or if contact at that point would negatively affect the mission, then the moving unit should use a detailed technique, like the 10-step technique outlined above to clear the far side to maintain security for the unit while it crosses the LDA.
If pressed for time, the Squad can bound across the road using the bounding overwatch movement technique. SH-21-76, Ranger Handbook, outlines a technique for a squad-level LDA XNG using the bounding overwatch, which is outlined below. The obvious advantages to this technique are speed and simplicity, while its disadvantages lie in the increased risk of detection.
STEP 1. The A-Team Leader (ATL) observes the LDA and sends the hand-and-arm signal to the squad leader who confirms the LDA and, after analyzing the situation according to the factors of METT-T, decides to bound his teams across.
STEP 2. Squad leader directs the ATL to move his team across the LDA far enough to fit the remainder of the squad on the far side of the LDA. B Team moves to the LDA to the left or right side, as directed by the squad leader to provide an overwatch position prior to A Team crossing.
STEP 3. Squad leader receives the hand-and-arm signal to move the rest of the squad across (B Team is still providing overwatch).
STEP 4. Squad leader moves himself and B Team across the LDA (A Team provides overwatch for the squad from the front).
STEP 5. A Team continues on azimuth at the squad leader's command or hand-and-arm signal.
An LDA XNG technique known as "Scroll to the Road" is designed for elements smaller than squad size, such as a six-man Long-Range Surveillance (LRS) Team from a LRS Company or Detachment.13In this technique, the team members provide their own left and right, near and far-side security and cross the LDA in a file. This technique is not appropriate for elements of squad-size or larger and is unique to small, LRS-type units. JRTC Observer/Controllers commented in unit THPs that platoons and squads utilizing the Scroll to the Road technique "did not clear linear danger areas."14
Take the TTPs presented here and use them to refine and "flesh out" your unit SOPs for crossing a linear danger area. Remember, though, that several units which experienced difficulties in crossing LDAs had excellent SOPs, so simply having an SOP is not enough. Preparation begins now, so include LDAs in your next STX and work on employing these TTPs as the situation and METT-T dictate. No one technique will be right for all LDAs: leaders will have to exercise sound judgment in deciding which techniques to employ and how much risk to take in handling LDAs during the execution of operation. Having a larger "bag of tricks" of TTPs will enable you to make better choices when confronted with a linear danger area.
11 FM 7-8, Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad, op cit., p. 2-49.
12See FM 7-8, Infantry Platoon and Squad, op cit., p. 3-20.
13See FM 7-93, Long-Range Surveillance Company Operations, pp. 1-6 to 1-9, and pp. J-4 to J-6.
14JRTC 92-9, Take-Home Package 920913-920924, p. 108 of 307 from CALL Data Base.
Table of Contents
Section I: Patrolling TTP for Crossing Linear Danger Areas, Part 1
Section II: TOW MILES ROE
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