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FM 34-2-1: TTPs For Reconnaissance And Surveillance And Intelligence Support To Counterreconnaissance



Throughout history, military leaders have recognized the importance of R&S. Gaining and maintaining contact with the enemy is essential to win the battle. Our own military history contains many examples where our knowledge of the enemy, or lack of knowledge, directly led to victory or defeat.

The role of R&S has not changed on the modern battlefield; if anything, it has become even more important. Battles at the combat training centers prove that a good R&S effort is critical to successful attacks. On the other hand, a poor R&S effort almost guarantees defeat for the commander. Figure 1-1 shows attack outcome according to reconnaissance status (Blue Force [BLUFOR]). This chart was developed by the Rand Corporation in its October 1987 study, "Applying the National Training Center Experience: Tactical Reconnaissance."

The message is clear: Success on the battlefield begins with R&S and R&S begins with the intelligence officer. As the S2, you play a big role in the success or failure of your unit. But if being able to find the enemy is critical to the attack, what role does the S2 play in the defense?

Figure 1-2 shows the attack outcome according to reconnaissance status (Opposing Force [OPFOR]). This is another chart from the same Rand study. It clearly shows: If you blind the enemy, they will most likely fail in the attack. Therefore, a successful defense depends on finding, targeting, destroying, or suppressing enemy reconnaissance assets before they can report your unit's defensive positions.

This implies an aggressive CR effort that seeks out enemy reconnaissance units rather than passively screening. It also implies the coordination and active participation among the S2, S3, fire support officer (FSO), and the intelligence and electronic warfare support element (IEWSE).

This manual describes the TTP you can use to develop and execute successful R&S plans. Field Manual 34-2 and FM 34-80 contain additional information on collection management and R&S.

This is a "how to" manual. It describes how to--

  • Plan R&S operations.
  • Task R&S assets.
  • Graphically depict R&S operations.
  • Execute R&S operations.
  • Save time in the planning process.
  • Plan for intelligence support to CR missions.
  • Plan for division level assets, such as signals intelligence (SIGINT) collectors.

This manual will show you how to succeed in your reconnaissance and CR effort, giving you and your commander the best chance for victory in battle.

The intent is for you to use this manual in the field as a guide. This manual is also designed to show commanders and S3s the R&S planning process. This manual is arranged sequentially to reflect the order of the R&S and collection management processes. It will help you understand R&S a step at a time.

The better prepared you are as an S2, the better your R&S plan will be. Therefore, you should have a solid appreciation for intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) and its contribution to developing an R&S plan. (See FM 34-130, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, for a complete discussion of IPB.) You need to know what assets are available to you, as well as the capabilities and limitations of those assets. This supports planning and executing R&S operations.

Once you formulate your plan, you must know how to task appropriate assets. One way to disseminate the R&S plan or taskings is to develop an R&S overlay. FM 34-80, Appendix E, describes the preparation of the R&S overlay. As you execute the plan, you should know how to monitor the R&S effort and modify the plan accordingly. To reinforce the steps in the R&S process, this manual includes examples at brigade and battalion levels of how to plan, prepare, execute, and monitor the R&S effort.


To successfully plan and execute the R&S effort, you should understand the five phases of the collection management process, and the relationship of R&S to collection management. Regardless of the echelon, you will go through the following five steps or phases to develop a collection plan and, ultimately, an R&S plan:

  • Receive and analyze requirements.
  • Determine resource availability and capability.
  • Task resources.
  • Evaluate reporting.
  • Update collection planning.


Receiving and analyzing requirements means identifying what the commander must know about the enemy, weather, and terrain to accomplish the mission. Normally, the commander's concerns are expressed as questions, termed priority intelligence requirements (PIR) or information requirements (IR).

PIR and IR are either stated by the commander or recommended by you and approved by the commander. They are the very reason R&S plans (and all collection plans) exist. You may also have requirements from higher or subordinate units; these you will prioritize and consolidate with the commander's PIR. Once you have identified all requirements, you will eventually convert them into specific items to look for.


In simplest terms, determining resource availability and capability means assessing what means you have to look for the specific items you have developed in the first step.


When tasking resources, you must tell a specific resource what it should look for, and how it is to report information.

At division and higher, several elements accomplish these five steps. For example, the all-source production section (ASPS) aids the collection management and dissemination (CM&D) section in analyzing requirements. The CM&D may simply task the military intelligence (MI) battalion to collect on specific requirements; the MI battalion S3 is the one who actually tasks a specific asset. In fact, very seldom does a division G2 directly task a specific asset.

At maneuver brigade and battalion levels, however, your S2 section will usually do all five steps of the collection management process. You will develop a collection plan which addresses how your unit will collect information to satisfy all intelligence requirements. Unlike division, you will normally task specific assets to collect specific information.

This essentially is the difference between a collection plan and an R&S plan: a collection plan identifies which units or agencies will collect information. An R&S plan identifies which specific assets will be tasked to collect information, and how they will do it. Therefore, as a general rule, R&S planning occurs mostly at brigade and below.


Is the asset accurately reporting what it sees based on its capabilities? And does the report answer the original question?


Do you need more information to answer the question; or is it time to shift focus and begin answering another question?


This manual focuses on R&S at brigade and battalion levels. It discusses ways to improve your R&S plans and to win the battle. Many common mistakes made by S2s in the planning stage result in unproductive R&S operations. These mistakes were noted during numerous observations at the training centers and occur regularly. To avoid errors in R&S plans, use the guidelines discussed below.


Use enemy situation templates and event templates to identify areas on the battlefield where and when you expect significant events or targets to appear. These IPB products will save many hours of analysis by pinpointing specific areas on which to focus your R&S effort.


Know the capabilities and limitations of the R&S assets available to you. This should ensure that assets are not sent on missions they are not capable of conducting nor trained to conduct.


When you develop your R&S plan, provide details. Generic R&S plans do not produce the amount of information required in the time allocated.


It is imperative you understand your unit's scheme of maneuver before you begin to formulate the R&S plan. A well thought out R&S plan that does not support the scheme of maneuver is a useless effort.


Provide detailed guidance to the company and teams as they plan their patrol missions; patrols also need to coordinate with the battalion before, during, and after all missions. This should preclude useless missions and wasted lives. You should also make sure patrols have enough time to plan and execute their missions.


You need to continuously monitor and disseminate the current locations of friendly R&S assets. This should minimize the incidents of fratricide.


Involve the FSO in R&S planning so that indirect fire support is integrated into all phases of R&S operations.


Subordinate elements tend to ignore collection taskings assigned by higher echelons; they sometimes consider these nonessential taskings. Make sure these subordinate element commanders understand the importance of their R&S missions. You must get the S3 or the commander involved to remedy this situation.


The battalion S2 should take an active role in the development of the scout platoon battle tasks. Figure 1-3 is an example of scout platoon battle tasks. The only way to establish a proper working relationship to train with the scout platoon leader in garrison as well as in the field. The result will be a scout platoon that understands what the S2 needs and an S2 understanding the capabilities and limitations of the scout platoon.


During CR operations, point out areas throughout the battlefield where you expect enemy reconnaissance. Do not limit these NAI to just along the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA) or the line of departure (LD)/line of contact (LC). Company and team commanders and staff must understand that CR operations extend throughout the depth of the battlefield. Enemy reconnaissance assets are trained to look deep and to conduct operations well into the rear area.


Be sure to incorporate flexibility into your R&S plan. Be ready to make modifications at any time, especially in a nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) environment. The Combined Arms in a Nuclear/Chemical Environment (CANE) IIB Test explains the difficulty in collecting intelligence data in an NBC environment.


Do not keep the scout platoon leader at the tactical operations center (TOC) waiting for a complete operations order (OPORD). Some results are--

  • The scout platoon deploys too late to sufficiently reconnoiter its assigned NAI.
  • Lack of time makes the scout platoon leader reluctant to exercise the initiative and flexibility necessary to ensure complete coverage. For example, scouts remain in their vehicles instead of dismounting.
  • The scout platoon fails to follow standing operating procedures (SOPs).


Commanders tend to rely too much on their scout platoons. An untrained scout platoon may display weaknesses in land navigation, selecting proper R&S positions, reporting information, and calling for indirect fire. When you do use scout platoons, try to confirm their reports with information gathered from other assets. Also, do not fall into the trap of using the scout platoon as the only R&S collection asset. When using the scout platoon, be sure the mission you give them is one they are capable of successfully completing.

These solutions apply to common problems occurring throughout the Army. Take note of these solutions and try to develop R&S plans reflecting the solutions, not the problems.

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