Find a Security Clearance Job!


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



The S3 is in charge of the CR mission. However, the S2 plays a critical role in developing the battlefield situation in enough detail to allow the S3 to target, destroy, or suppress the enemy's R&S assets.


A number of staff officers participate in CR planning and execution. Essentially, you must find the enemy's reconnaissance units before they can find and report back on friendly unit locations. You must process information quickly and pass targeting data to the S3 and the FSO. Those staff officers involved in CR planning and execution are discussed below.


The S2 must be knowledgeable about the enemy, weather, and terrain. Using this knowledge, the S2--

  • Identifies enemy reconnaissance HVTs.
  • Recommends engagement areas and ambush sites (TAI).
  • Recommends HPTs.
  • Makes sure electronic warfare support measures (ESM) support any planned use of EW against enemy reconnaissance elements.
  • Develops an R&S plan to find enemy reconnaissance well forward.
  • Evaluates vulnerability of R&S assets to enemy R&S and target acquisition capabilities.


The S3--

  • Integrates fire, maneuver, obscurants, and EW to destroy or suppress enemy reconnaissance.
  • Task-organizes the unit to defeat enemy reconnaissance well forward.
  • Plans use of EW to suppress enemy reconnaissance.
  • Determines and plans for use of engagement areas and ambush sites (TAI).
  • Determines HPT based on the commander's intent and input from the S2 and the FSO.
  • Develops deception plans to deceive enemy reconnaissance.
  • Develops, executes, and monitors the unit OPSEC program.
  • Uses targeting data from the S2.


The FSO--

  • Plans and coordinates all indirect lethal and nonlethal means to destroy or suppress enemy reconnaissance.
  • Provides appropriate fire support coordination measures to protect the R&S participants (such as no fire areas or restricted fire areas).
  • Uses targeting data based on FOS and organic or supporting target acquisition radars.
  • With the S2, recommends HPTs and TAI.
  • Needs targeting data from the S2 and also specific weather and terrain data for targeting and weapon emplacement.


The IEWSE officer--

  • Recommends the use of MI battalion assets, if attached or in DS.
  • Informs the commander, S2, and S3 of the status and location of MI battalion assets within the unit's AO.
  • Acts as liaison between the maneuver unit and the MI battalion S3.
  • Provides expertise on EW planning and use.
  • Receives priorities from the S3 and ESM priorities from the S2.


The ADA officer--

  • Provides early warning of enemy fixed-wing attack aircraft and rotary-wing aircraft.
  • Plans for and provides air defense coverage of friendly units well forward.
  • Recommends the use of ADA assets.
  • Needs information on the terrain and weather from the S2 to place assets.
  • Receives information on the air threat from the S2.
  • Needs ADA priorities and weapons status from the S3.


The engineer officer--

  • Recommends the placement and types of obstacles to stop or slow down enemy reconnaissance.
  • Provides the S2 with information on the state of the terrain and enemy special reconnaissance activities.
  • Receives information on the terrain, weather, and enemy from the S2.
  • Needs engineer priorities and the unit scheme of maneuver from the S3.


The chemical officer--

  • Monitors contaminated areas.

  • Plans the use of obscurants to suppress enemy reconnaissance.
  • Provides expertise on areas of likely enemy NBC use.
  • Receives precise weather data.

Several primary and special staff officers can provide you with information; however, they also require information from you. Remember, you are an integral part of the targeting process. You recommend where to best engage enemy reconnaissance units. You also recommend which enemy reconnaissance elements are the most important for your unit to destroy or suppress (such as HPTs). This implies close coordination and synchronization among the S2, IEWSE, S3, FSO, and the rest of the staff.


To plan the CR mission, you should know something about how terrain and weather will affect reconnaissance operations. You should also know threat reconnaissance operations, equipment, doctrine, and tactics. Remember, seek the assistance of your CI team when evaluating enemy capabilities.

Each threat division and regiment has organic ground reconnaissance units. These units either confirm information from other systems or develop their own information. They gather information primarily by patrolling and avoiding contact. Reconnaissance units may conduct raids or ambushes to gather information. Figure 10-1 shows division reconnaissance assets. Figure 10-2 shows regimental reconnaissance assets.

Reconnaissance patrols will usually be reinforced with tanks or additional armored personnel carriers (APCs) from the lead units. In addition, the lead battalions may use reinforced platoons as combat reconnaissance patrols.


A reconnaissance company with two reconnaissance platoons provides regimental reconnaissance. These normally mounted platoons perform reconnaissance across the regimental front. The reconnaissance company will normally operate 25 to 30 kilometers forward of the regimental main body, but may operate a maximum of 50 kilometers forward.

These platoons, broken down into patrols, are the eyes and ears of the commander. They normally consist of one to three vehicles. Their purpose is to provide information about enemy location, composition, and formations. These patrols stress reconnaissance and will avoid detection and engagement by the enemy.

Patrols, however, can fight. Personnel and vehicle armament provide sufficient firepower for these reconnaissance elements to protect and disengage themselves if necessary.


Division reconnaissance assets provide the commander ground, air defense, chemical, engineer, electronic, and signal reconnaissance, as well as target acquisition. These assets are located throughout the division, especially artillery and rocket units.

For troop reconnaissance, the division has an organic reconnaissance battalion that includes two reconnaissance companies, a reconnaissance assault company (RAC), and other technical reconnaissance assets. Due to the unclassified nature of this manual, technical reconnaissance assets are not presented here. For additional information on the technical reconnaissance assets, refer to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Study, "Reconnaissance and Surveillance and Target Acquisition of the USSR."

The two division reconnaissance companies will normally provide coverage across the division front, operating between the regimental reconnaissance company and RAC. These companies typically perform close reconnaissance missions for the division commander, with a primary mission of reconnaissance rather than combat.

Ideally, these companies will locate high priority targets, such as headquarters and C3 facilities, as well as unit deployments and movements. Normally, these units will operate as small patrols of two to three vehicles with troops mounted. Troops will dismount to perform foot patrols or ambushes to gather information. However, their vehicles will not be far away.

The RAC (also called long-range reconnaissance company) performs division long-range reconnaissance. It also provides the division commander with a look-deep capability out to 100 kilometers. Small teams of five or six soldiers from this company can be inserted by parachute, helicopter, vehicle, or on foot to collect information within the enemy rear area. These teams will move primarily on foot, avoiding engagements with enemy forces, and will locate high priority targets within the enemy's division rear and corps forward area.

While the primary mission of these troops is reconnaissance, they may also have secondary missions to conduct disruptive operations in the rear area, such as--

  • Ambushes.
  • Prisoner snatches.
  • Traffic diversions.
  • Disruption of lines of communication (LOC).
  • Limited attacks against important targets of opportunity.

When not operating in the enemy area, this company is capable of providing additional reconnaissance patrols mounted in their organic vehicles within the division area.


Reconnaissance plays an important part in the overall intelligence-gathering system. It can provide confirmation of other collection assets. It often provides initial information that can be confirmed by other means, such as electronic or signal reconnaissance.


Troop reconnaissance is responsive to the commander's needs and can provide timely information on which to base command decisions.

Division and regimental reconnaissance efforts are carefully planned, coordinated, and supervised by the chief of reconnaissance; while battalion and lower commanders must accomplish the task themselves.


Reconnaissance patrols will gain information by observation; they will bypass defenders. However, they will fight if required. Normally the tanks and BMPs will overwatch the BRDMs. BMPs and BRDMs will make a detailed reconnaissance of all likely enemy positions, with the tanks providing cover.


Chemical-engineer reconnaissance teams will move behind the lead reconnaissance elements. When obstacles or contaminated areas are located, they will be marked and their locations reported to the regimental commander. Reconnaissance elements will use bounding overwatch techniques. Figure 10-3 shows the Soviet reconnaissance overwatch. Figure 10-4 shows Soviet reconnaissance overwatch with patrols. Figure 10-5 shows Soviet technique patrols with overwatch.


Once again, the IPB process can help in your planning. The two most important products you will develop in CR are situation templates and event templates. It will be helpful to develop a series of situation templates which depict enemy reconnaissance movement. Such templates allow you to develop your event template; and let your S3 visualize how you expect the enemy to conduct their reconnaissance battle. Figure 10-6 is a sample of one such situation template.


Do not make the mistake of thinking the enemy's reconnaissance will use the same AAs as the enemy main force. Remember, enemy reconnaissance elements will most likely operate as two or three vehicles. Such small elements can traverse almost any kind of terrain. Keep in mind, the mission of reconnaissance is to seek and report information, not to fight. Therefore, enemy reconnaissance will use routes that have plenty of concealment and cover.

Also remember, enemy reconnaissance is looking for the best route of attack; the enemy may decide that attacking over rough terrain is preferable to attacking open, but heavily defended, country. For this reason, be sure to consider your entire AI when you develop your situation templates. Do not get "tunnel vision" and consider only obvious AAs or MCs.

Look at all ways the enemy can enter your sector, including using No-Go terrain! As a general rule, the more concealment or protection a route provides, the more likely it will be used by reconnaissance elements. The outcome of well prepared situation templates is a commander and staff that have a good indication of what the enemy will look like on the battlefield. This eventually will save your R&S assets many hours of unnecessary reconnaissance or surveillance.


Based on your situation templates, develop your event template. Your event template will show where on the battlefield you expect to see enemy reconnaissance elements. Then concentrate your R&S attention on those areas (NAI) to detect enemy reconnaissance activity.

Remember, the key to CR intelligence support is finding those enemy reconnaissance units before they can discover friendly positions and report back. Therefore, you must carefully study the effects of weather and terrain on enemy reconnaissance to determine at what point the enemy can observe friendly positions. Usually, this is a function of observation (LOS) and visibility in your unit's AI.

Compare these limits with the enemy's known reconnaissance observation capabilities (such as infrared, thermal, light enhancement, and telescopic). As you do this, you will begin to identify a limit of enemy advance (LOEA). Essentially, you must prevent the enemy from going beyond this limit; because past that limit, the enemy can observe friendly positions.

Figure 10-7 shows an example of an LOEA, or you can recommend a phase line (PL) that represents the LOEA.


You should focus your R&S assets forward of the LOEA to identify enemy reconnaissance before they can spot your unit's positions. Additionally, your analysis of the terrain may indicate there are isolated terrain features forward of the LOEA you must control to prevent enemy observation of your unit's position.

For example, you may have determined, based on general terrain and weather conditions, that your LOEA is 5 kilometers in front of your FEBA. However, you discover there are two hills approximately 7 to 8 kilometers in front of your FEBA which allow observation of your unit's positions. Essentially, those three hills become key terrain for the CR battle. You must prevent the enemy from occupying those hills. Figure 10-8 shows you an example of this.

By integrating your LOEA and key terrain with your event template, you have narrowed the battlefield to specific points or areas where you can focus your R&S assets. You can now go through the process of determining SIR, matching R&S assets with SIR and NAI, and developing detailed R&S instructions.


Remember, normally your S3 will actually task units for the CR mission based on your input. (Of course, this may differ depending on unit SOP.) Because of the importance of winning the CR battle, many units use a large CR force. (Sometimes this force may be up to one-third of the entire unit.)


Your S3 will task-organize the CR force based on the commander's guidance, your R&S requirements, and your estimate of the enemy reconnaissance force.

You have a big role to play in forming the CR force. This implies, however, you know something about friendly R&S capabilities, maneuver capabilities, organization, tactics, and equipment. Therefore, you cannot afford to concentrate solely on threat forces.


So far this chapter discussed finding enemy reconnaissance elements. The other side of the CR mission is to target and destroy or suppress those reconnaissance elements so they cannot report your unit's position. You have a role to play in this aspect of the CR mission as well.

Remember, during the war-gaming process, the commander and the S3 identified friendly COAs. Part of that process was--

  • Developing TAI.
  • Deciding how best to engage enemy units at TAI.
  • Formulating decision points or lines.

As the S2, you are the expert on the enemy, weather, and terrain. Based on your situation templates, you have a good idea which enemy reconnaissance units will go where. Based on your IPB terrain and weather analyses, you have a good idea where on the battlefield your unit can best engage those enemy reconnaissance units. Therefore, you are in a position to recommend to your S3 various engagement areas or ambush sites (TAI) in which to catch enemy reconnaissance elements.

Once again, remember, you must destroy or suppress enemy reconnaissance before they can discover your unit's positions and report back. Therefore, any TAI you recommend should be forward of the LOEA. You will also want to point out any key terrain you have discovered to your S3. Key terrain are natural TAI, since the enemy recognizes their importance as much as you do. Do not forget the role EW can play in suppressing enemy reconnaissance units.

Although your S3 is responsible for planning the use of EW, you and the IEWSE can recommend its employment. Both of you should plan an ESM program that will support any EW use. Remember, enemy reconnaissance elements are priority targets of jamming and/or DF. You can also integrate smoke and obscurants to multiply the effectiveness of your EW effort.


As explained before, CR essentially consists of finding the enemy reconnaissance; then destroying or suppressing those elements before they can report friendly unit positions. This implies some friendly elements will act as finders and some will act as shooters.

Normally, the scout platoon should be finders, not shooters. They do not have the organic firepower to decisively engage enemy units. However, your scouts must be linked to the shooters, to include aviation, maneuver, and artillery. You may position your scouts along a screen line so they can observe NAI or concealed routes into your sector. The scouts then report detection of enemy reconnaissance and provide targeting data to the shooters.

You may also augment your scouts or R&S mission with armor, mechanized infantry, light infantry, or AT elements. In this situation, you might employ your scouts as roving teams. The scout element finds the enemy reconnaissance, informs the S3, who then calls in the armor, infantry, aviation, or indirect fire assets to destroy it. Figure 10-9 is an example of scout employment to screen concealed routes. Figure 10-10 is an example of the use of mechanized infantry with scouts under operational control.

To effectively plan your portion of the CR mission, you need to know how threat reconnaissance operates. For additional information on threat smoke and obscurant employment, refer to the Joint Test Command Group manual, 61 JTCG/ME-87-10, Handbook for Operational Testing of Electro-optical Systems in Battlefield Obscurants.

This chapter discussed various staff roles in the CR mission, how you can contribute, and how the threat performs reconnaissance at regimental and division levels. It is also important for you to do your "homework" to find out how the various threat forces conduct dismounted reconnaissance.

Join the mailing list