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Stability and Support Operations

Stability operations apply military power to influence the political environment, to facilitate diplomacy, or to interrupt or prevent specific illegal activities. These operations cover a broad spectrum. At one end are development and assistance activities aimed at enhancing a government's willingness and ability to care for its people. At the other are coercive military actions; these involve the application of limited, carefully prescribed force, or the threat of force, to achieve specific objectives.

US military forces conduct support operations to assist designated groups by providing essential supplies and services in the face of adverse conditions, usually those created by man-made or natural disasters. Mission success in support operations, which are normally characterized by the lack of an active opponent, is measured in terms of the ability to relieve suffering and to help civil authorities respond to crises. Primary goals of these operations are to meet the immediate needs of the supported groups and to transfer responsibility quickly and efficiently to appropriate civilian authorities.

Section 1 General
Section 2 Stability Operations
Section 3 Support Operations
Section 4 Role of the Scout Platoon in Stability and Support Operations
Section 5 Light/Heavy Operations in Stability/Support Environments

Within any military organization, scout platoons have unique capabilities that make them an important asset to Army units executing missions as part of stability and support operations. The scout platoon may be called upon to perform a variety of missions in a wide range of political, military, and geographical environments and in both combat and noncombat situations (see Figure C-1). These operations will almost always be decentralized and can require the scout platoon leader to make immediate decisions that may have strategic or operational consequences. The distinction between these roles and situations will not always be clear, presenting unique challenges for the scout platoon.

WAR Fight and win WAR
  • Large-scale combat operations
  • Attack
  • Defend
CONFLICT Deter war and resolve conflict STABILITY AND SUPPORT
  • Strikes and raids
  • Peacekeeping or peace enforcement
  • Support to insurgency
  • Antiterrorism
  • NEOs
  • Counterdrug
  • Disaster relief
  • Civil support
  • Peace-building
  • Nation-building assistance

Figure C-1. The range of military operations.

The general discussion in Section 1 of this appendix focuses on several important aspects of these operations. Sections 2 and 3 examine stability operations and support operations, respectively, in greater detail, followed by a discussion of specific scout platoon tasks in Section 4. Section 5 provides information on the role of light/heavy operations in stability and support environments. Refer to Appendix D of this manual for a discussion of military operations on urbanized terrain (MOUT), which provide the operational framework for many types of stability and support operations.


Stability and support operations entail the adaptation of capabilities developed for warfighting to the political and military environments of peace and conflict. The warfighting doctrine described in this manual is used, with suitable modification, to accommodate such situations. Army policy does not prescribe modifying the warfighting METL unless and until a unit is selected for stability and support operations. Only then should a unit train for specific mission-related tasks. Chief among these are operations with very restrictive ROE and orientation on the area, its culture, and the nature of the conflict.


Stability and support operations that take place in the peacetime and conflict environments may entail the full range of military operations. These operations may also require working closely with other state and/or federal agencies, civilian agencies, and host-nation governments if the operation is outside the United States.


In peacetime, a variety of measures are employed to achieve national objectives; these include political, economic, and informational measures, as well as military actions short of combat operations or active support of warring parties. Within this environment, US forces may conduct training exercises to demonstrate national resolve; conduct peacekeeping operations; participate in nation-building activities; conduct disaster relief and humanitarian assistance; provide security assistance to friends and allies; or execute shows of force. Confrontations and tensions may escalate during peacetime to reach a point of transition into a state of conflict.


Conflict can encompass numerous types of situations, including the following: clashes or crises over boundary disputes and land and water territorial claims; situations in which opposing political factions engage in military actions to gain control of political leadership within a nation; and armed clashes between nations or between organized parties within a nation to achieve limited political or military objectives.

While regular military forces are sometimes involved, the use of irregular forces frequently predominates in conflict actions. Conflict is often protracted, confined to a restricted geographic area, and limited in weaponry and level of violence. In this state, military response to a threat is exercised indirectly, usually in support of other elements of national power. Limited objectives, however, may be achieved by the short, focused, and direct application of military force. Conflict approaches the threshold of a state of war as the number of nations and/or troops, the frequency of battles, and the level of violence increase over an extended time.

Military operations involving scout platoons occur most often in the state of conflict. These may include standard security and reconnaissance missions in support of offensive and defensive operations. The scout platoon can also assist in a variety of stability and support operations, such as populace and movement control (checkpoints and roadblocks), the handling of EPWs or refugees, or EPW exchanges.


As outlined in FM 100-5, the Army's missions in stability and support operations are categorized into several types of activities. Examples of these are listed in Figure C-2; for additional details, refer to Section 2 (stability activities) and Section 3 (support activities) of this appendix.

Noncombatant Evacuation Operations
Arms Control
Support for Domestic Civil Authorities
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
Security Assistance
National-building Assistance
Support for Counterdrug Operations
Combating Terrorism
Peacekeeping Operations
Peace Enforcement
Show of Force
Support for Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies
Attacks and Raids

Figure C-2. Military activities in stability and support operations.

Although the activities of stability and support operations have distinct characteristics, they often overlap in execution. For example, forces involved in a peacekeeping operation must protect themselves and the local populace against terrorism; conversely, a terrorist incident may result in the execution of a specific operation to combat terrorism.


Although stability and support operations can take place in any part of the world, they are most likely to occur in third world countries, where social, political, economic, and psychological factors contribute to political instability. Each country or region is unique, with its own history, culture, goals, and problems. US forces deployed to these areas can be subject to rapid and dramatic changes in situations and missions. The scout platoon leader must understand this environment; he must plan for rapid changes in the situation or mission and constantly be prepared to adapt to them. In addition, scout platoons must be prepared to operate in any type of terrain and climate.

The following paragraphs examine several important considerations that will influence planning and preparation for stability and support operations. For a detailed discussion of these subjects, refer to FM 100-23.


Intelligence is crucial during the execution of stability and support operations. Likewise, all activities require continuous emphasis on intelligence. The threats faced by military forces in these operations are more ambiguous than those in other situations because combatants, guerrillas, and terrorists can easily blend with the civilian population. Before forces are committed, intelligence must be collected, processed, and focused to support all planning, training, and operational requirements. (See FM 100-20 for additional information.)

Decentralized operations

Although stability and support operations are normally centrally planned, execution often takes the form of small-scale, decentralized actions conducted over extended distances. Responsibility for making decisions on the ground will fall to junior leaders. Effective command guidance and a thorough understanding of ROE (refer to the following discussion) are critical at each operational level.

Rules of engagement

ROE are politically imposed restrictions on military operations. The ROE are directed by higher military authorities based on the political and tactical situations and the level of threat. For example, these restrictions may require that the forces involved limit their use of firepower to a certain geographical area or that they limit the duration of their operations. Refer to Figure C-3 for an example of ROE for one possible situation.

All enemy military personnel and vehicles transporting enemy personnel or their equipment may be engaged subject to the following restrictions:

  1. When possible, the enemy will be warned first and asked to surrender.
  2. Armed force is the last resort.
  3. Armed civilians will be engaged only in self-defense.
  4. Civilian aircraft will not be engaged, except in self-defense, without approval from division level.
  5. All civilians should be treated with respect and dignity. Civilians and their property should not be harmed unless necessary to save US lives. If possible, civilians should be evacuated before any US attack. Privately owned property may be used only if publicly owned property is unavailable or its use is inappropriate.
  6. If civilians are in the area, artillery, mortars, AC-130s, attack helicopters, tube-launched or rocket-lanched weapons, and main tank guns should not be used against known or suspected targets without the permission of a grounf maneuver commander (LTC or higher).
  7. If civilians are in the area, all air attacks must be controlled by FAC or FO, and close air support, white phosphorus weapons, and incendiary weapons are prohibited without approval from division.
  8. If civilians are in the area, infantry will shoot only at known enemy locations.
  9. Public works such as power stations, Water treatment plants, dams, and other public utilities may not be engaged without approval from division level.
  10. Hospitals, churches, shrines, schools, museums, and other historical or cultural sites will be engaged only in self-defense against fire from these locations.
  11. All indirect fire and air attacks must be observed.
  12. Pilots must be briefed for each mission as to the location of civilians and friendly forces.
  13. Booby traps are not authorized. Authority to emplace mines is reserved for the division commander. Riot control agents can be used only with approval from division level.
  14. Prisoners should be treated humanely, with respect and dignity.
  15. Annex R to the OPLAN provides more detail. In the event this card conflicts with the OPLAN, the OPlan should be followed.


Figure C-3. Example rules of engagement.

ROE must be considered during the planning and execution of all operations. The unit's TTP will require adjustment based on each particular situation's ROE. Understanding, adjusting for, and properly executing ROE are especially important to success in stability and support operations. The restrictions change whenever the political and military situations change; this means ROE must be explained to friendly soldiers continuously. ROE provide the authority for the soldier's right to self-defense. Each soldier must understand the ROE and be prepared to execute them properly in every possible confrontation. In addition, ROE violations can have operational, strategic, and political consequences that may affect national security; the enemy can be expected to exploit such violations.

Rules of interaction

These directives, known as ROI, embody the human dimension of stability and support operations; they lay the foundation for successful relationships with the myriad of factions and individuals that play critical roles in these operations. ROI encompass an array of interpersonal communication skills, such as persuasion and negotiation. These are tools the individual soldier will need to deal with the nontraditional threats that are prevalent in stability and support operations, including political friction, unfamiliar cultures, and conflicting ideologies. In turn, ROI enhance the soldier's survivability in such situations.

ROI are based on the applicable ROE for a particular operation; they must be tailored to the specific regions, cultures, and/or populations affected by the operation. Like ROE, ROI can be effective only if they are thoroughly rehearsed and understood by every soldier in the unit.

Force protection

Because of the influence of local politics and news media in stability and support operations, minimizing casualties and collateral damage become particularly important operational considerations during these operations. At the same time, however, force protection must be a constant priority. In attempting to limit the level and scope of violence used in stability and support operations, leaders must avoid making tactically unsound decisions or exposing the force to unnecessary risks. On the contrary, an overpowering use of force, correctly employed and surgically applied, can reduce subsequent violence or prevent a response from the opposing force. This must be covered in the ROE and the OPORD from the battalion or squadron. Armored forces are commonly deployed in a force protection role.

Task organization

Because of the unique requirements of stability and support operations, the scout platoon may be task organized to operate with a variety of units. This includes some elements with which the platoon does not normally work, such as linguists, counterintelligence teams, and civil affairs teams.

CSS considerations

The operational environment the scout platoon faces during stability and support operations may be very austere, creating special CSS considerations. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Reliance on local procurement of certain items.
  • Shortages of various critical items, including repair parts, Class IV supply materials, and lubricants.
  • Special Class V supply requirements, such as pepper spray.
  • Reliance on bottled water.

Media considerations

The presence of the media is a reality that confronts every soldier involved in stability operations. All leaders and soldiers must know how to deal effectively with broadcast and print reporters and photographers. This should include an understanding of which subjects they are authorized to discuss and which ones they must refer to the public affairs office (PAO).

Operations with outside agencies

US Army units may conduct certain stability operations in coordination with a variety of outside organizations. These include other US armed services or government agencies as well as international organizations (including private volunteer organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and UN military forces or agencies).

Soldiers' responsibilities

US soldiers may have extensive contact with host-nation civilians during stability and support operations. As a result, their personal conduct has a significant impact on the opinions, and thus the support, of the local population. Soldiers must understand that misconduct by US forces (even those deployed for only a short time) can damage rapport that took years to develop. US soldiers must treat local civilians and military personnel as personal and professional equals, affording them the appropriate customs and courtesies.

To enhance civilian cooperation and support, the platoon leader is responsible for obtaining a key word and phrase card from the S2 to assist in translation of key English phrases into the language of the host nation. These phrases should apply specifically to the area of operations.

Every individual is an intelligence-collecting instrument. The collection of information is a continuous process, and all information must be reported. Intelligence is provided by many sources, including friendly forces, enemy elements, and the local populace. From the friendly standpoint, each soldier must be familiar with the local PIR and other applicable intelligence requirements. At the same time, enemy soldiers will be continuously seeking intelligence on US actions, often blending easily into the civilian population. US soldiers must be aware of this and use OPSEC procedures at all times.


Army elements may be tasked to conduct stability operations to accomplish one or more of the following purposes:

  • Deter or thwart aggression.
  • Reassure allies and friendly governments, agencies, or groups.
  • Provide encouragement and/or support for a weak or faltering government.
  • Stabilize an area with a restless or openly hostile population.
  • Maintain or restore order.
  • Lend force, or the appearance of force, to national or international agreements and policies.

This section provides an introductory discussion of the activities associated with stability operations; for more detailed information, refer to FM 100-5 and FM 7-98.


Noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO) are primarily conducted to evacuate US citizens whose lives are in danger, although they may also include natives of the host nation and third-country aliens friendly to the United States. NEOs involve swift insertion and temporary occupation of an objective, followed by a planned withdrawal. Leaders use only the amount of force required for self-defense and protection of evacuees.


These operations, covered in FM 100-19, are conducted by military forces in support of federal and state officials under provisions of, and limited by, the Posse Comitatus Act and other laws and regulations. Actions defined by the US Congress as threats to national security warranting military support include drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and customs violations.


Peace operations encompass three general areas: diplomatic activities (peacemaking and peace-building), traditional peacekeeping, and threatened or actual forceful military actions (peace enforcement). The scout platoon may participate in peacekeeping or peace enforcement operations.

Peacekeeping operations

A peacekeeping force facilitates truce negotiations and political settlement of disputes. In doing so, it must assure each side in the dispute that other parties are not taking advantage of settlement terms to their own benefit. Peacekeeping differs from internal security in that the force does not act in support of a government. Rather, the peacekeeping force must remain entirely neutral; if it loses a reputation for impartiality, its usefulness within the peacekeeping mission is destroyed.

Peace enforcement

Several unique characteristics distinguish peace enforcement activities from wartime operations and from other stability operations. The purpose of peace enforcement is to maintain or restore peace under conditions broadly defined at the international level. It may entail combat, armed intervention, or physical threat of armed intervention. Under provisions of an international agreement, the task force or squadron and its subordinate elements, including the scout platoon, may be called upon to use coercive military power to compel compliance with international sanctions or resolutions.


Forces deployed abroad lend credibility to a nation's promises and commitments. In support of this principle, show of force operations are meant to reassure a friendly nation or ally through a display of credible military force directed at potential adversaries. These operations may also be conducted to influence foreign governments or political-military organizations to respect US interests.


This type of support includes assistance provided by US forces to help a friendly nation or group that is attempting to combat insurgent elements or to stage an insurgency itself. This type of stability activity is normally conducted by special forces.


In all types of stability operations, antiterrorism and counterterrorism activities are a continuous requirement in protecting installations, units, and individuals from the threat of terrorism. Antiterrorism focuses on defensive measures. Counterterrorism encompasses a full range of offensive measures to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism. For more information on these activities, refer to JCS Publication 3-07.2.


US military forces may be tasked for a variety of counterdrug activities, which are always conducted in conjunction with another government agency. These activities include destroying illicit drugs and disrupting or interdicting drug manufacturing, cultivation, processing, and smuggling operations. Counterdrug support may take the form of advisory personnel, mobile training teams, offshore training activities, and assistance in logistics, communications, and intelligence.


The scout platoon may work with another nation's military to conduct arms control or nation assistance activities. These types of support usually entail short-term, high-impact operations.


Domestic support operations are always conducted in support of local, state, and federal civil authorities. Overseas support operations are almost always conducted in support of and in concert with other agencies; these may be American or international organizations of either governmental or private affiliation.

Support operations may be independent actions. Conversely, they may complement offensive, defensive, or stability operations. For a more detailed examination of support operations, refer to FM 100-5.


Support operations generally cover two broad categories: humanitarian assistance and environmental assistance. Humanitarian assistance operations are people-oriented, focusing on the well-being of supported populations; they provide critical supplies to designated groups at the request of local, state, federal, or international agencies. Environmental assistance focuses on the condition of all types of natural and man-made properties, with the goal of helping to protect and/or restore these properties as requested. Typically, environmental operations are conducted in response to such events as forest and grassland fires, hazardous material releases, floods, and earthquakes. (NOTE: Many support operations combine the actions of both humanitarian and environmental support.)


Although each operation is unique, support operations are generally conducted in three broad phases: response, recovery, and restoration. Army elements can expect to be most heavily committed during the response phase. They will be progressively less involved during the recovery phase, with only very limited activity, if any, during the restoration phase.

Response phase

In the response phase, commanders focus on the life-sustaining functions that are required by those in the disaster area. The following functions dominate these response operations:

  • Search and rescue.
  • Emergency flood control.
  • Hazard identification.
  • Food distribution.
  • Water production, purification, and distribution.
  • Temporary shelter construction and administration.
  • Transportation support.
  • Fire fighting.
  • Medical support.
  • Power generation.
  • Communications support.

Recovery phase

Recovery phase operations begin the process of returning the community infrastructure and related services to a status that meets the immediate needs of the population. Typical recovery operations include the following:

  • Continuation of response operations as needed.
  • Damage assessment.
  • Power distribution.
  • Water and sanitation services.
  • Debris removal.

Restoration phase

Restoration is a long-term process that returns the community to predisaster normality. Restoration activities do not generally involve large numbers of military forces. When they are involved, Army elements generally work with affected communities in the transfer of responsibility to other agencies as military support forces redeploy.


Because military operations involving the scout platoon occur most often in the state of conflict, the platoon is most likely to operate in support of peacekeeping and peace enforcement. In addition to executing standard platoon missions, scout platoons must be prepared to execute missions or tasks unique to stability and support operations. (NOTE: Many of the tasks required during stability and support operations will be performed in a MOUT environment. Refer to Appendix D for information on MOUT.)


As part of a force involved in stability and support operations, the scout platoon can expect to perform these tasks:

  • Security operations, including the following:
    -- Convoy security (refer to Chapter 4 of this manual).
    -- Checkpoints.
    -- Roadblocks.
    -- Searches of personnel and vehicles.
    -- Cordon and search operations.
  • Reconnaissance operations, including the following:
    -- Route reconnaissance (refer to Chapter 3 of this manual).
    -- Building searches (refer to Appendix D of this manual, covering MOUT operations).

Roadblocks, checkpoints, and searches are used to control the movement of vehicles, personnel, or material along a specific route. Roadblocks and checkpoints help to prevent trafficking in contraband and stop the movement of known or suspected belligerents. They are used to control access into restricted or contested areas by individuals or elements that could cause hostilities between warring parties. They also assist friendly forces in detecting and evaluating the behavior patterns of the local populace, a critical part of the intelligence process.

Roadblocks and checkpoints are either deliberate or hasty and can be established on a permanent, temporary, or surprise basis. Individual roadblocks and checkpoints can be established and manned by scout platoons, sections, or squads, depending on the operational environment and the amount of traffic expected to move through the checkpoint.


A roadblock is used to stop the movement of vehicles along a route or to close access to certain areas or roads. Roadblocks can be established separate from checkpoints or used to channel traffic into a checkpoint. These factors apply in positioning a roadblock:

  • It must be covered by observation and direct fire.
  • It must be positioned so that it cannot be bypassed.
  • If required, positioning must channel traffic into a checkpoint.

A roadblock is considered an obstacle and is set up or constructed like an obstacle. Figures C-4A and C-4B illustrate types of organization that can be used in establishing a roadblock. Armored vehicles make excellent roadblocks, but local dismounted security must be established to protect vehicles from dismounted attack. Likewise, HMMWVs make excellent hasty roadblocks because of their mobility and austere logistical requirements. Concertina wire should be used to prevent vehicles from running through the roadblock (see Figure C-4C).

Figure C-4A. Scout platoon roadblock.

Figure C-4B. Three-vehicle scout section roadblock.

Figure C-4C. Concertina wire roadblock.


Checkpoints are manned locations used to accomplish the following:

  • Control movement along specific routes.
  • Maintain continuous monitoring of road movement.
  • Apprehend suspects.
  • Prevent smuggling of controlled items.
  • Prevent infiltration of unauthorized civilians or military forces into or through a controlled area.
  • Check vehicles and personnel for weapons, ammunition, and explosives.
  • Ensure proper use of routes by civilian and military traffic.

Deliberate checkpoints

The deliberate checkpoint is a relatively fixed position established in a town or in open country, often on a main road (see Figure C-5). Deliberate checkpoints are classified to handle either heavy traffic or light traffic, based on the amount of traffic expected to pass through them. Scout sections and squads can operate only light traffic checkpoints (see Figure C-6). The scout platoon can operate both heavy and light traffic checkpoints; Figure C-7 shows a platoon-operated heavy traffic checkpoint.

Figure C-5. Deliberate checkpoint organization.

Figure C-6. Scout section manning a light traffic checkpoint.

Figure C-7. Scout platoon manning a heavy traffic checkpoint.

Establishing a deliberate checkpoint. The physical layout and level of preparation of the checkpoint depend on the amount of traffic expected to pass through it and the duration of its operation. Regardless of the type, all checkpoints have common characteristics and organization. A checkpoint consists of the following parts:

  • Obstacles (barriers).
  • Search areas.
  • Security overwatch and fighting positions.
  • Holding area.

Obstacles. A checkpoint is established by placing two parallel obstacles (each with a gap) across the road. These obstacles should be large enough and deep enough to prevent vehicles from running over or through them. The gap must be negotiable by slow-moving vehicles only. The distance between obstacles depends on the amount of traffic that is held in the search area. A barrier pole is placed midway between obstacles to control movement from the search area to the exit obstacle.

Search areas. The amount of traffic held in the search areas is determined by the type of search (see Figures C-5 through C-7, for illustrations of the various checkpoint search areas). Separate search areas for the following should be set up as needed:

  • Vehicles.
  • Females.
  • Other individuals. These include suspects and other persons detained for further interrogation.

Fighting positions. Fighting positions for vehicles, automatic weapons, and individuals must be emplaced to overwatch, protect, and secure the checkpoint.

Holding area. A holding area is established several hundred meters forward of the checkpoint to control the flow of traffic so that the checkpoint is not overwhelmed.

Task organization. Personnel manning the checkpoint are organized into the following teams or elements to accomplish specific tasks:

  • Headquarters element.
  • Security force.
  • Search teams.
  • Sentry teams.

Headquarters element. The headquarters element consists of the platoon leader, PSG, or section leader; an RTO; and medical personnel.

Security force. The security force consists of a security element and a checkpoint reaction force.

The checkpoint security element mans overwatch positions and/or perimeter security positions. Security element personnel maintain overwatch of activities in the search area and provide security for personnel operating the checkpoint. Overwatch positions also provide security for sentry teams and the holding area.

The checkpoint reaction force is a concealed element whose purpose is to prevent traffic from avoiding or bypassing the checkpoint. This force can be part of the perimeter security and can react to surprise attacks against the checkpoint or to other emergency situations. It can be located at a position away from the checkpoint, but it must be able to quickly move to the checkpoint to provide necessary support. The reaction force should be no smaller than a scout section.

Search teams. The search team, comprising two to three soldiers, searches vehicles and personnel. The team is organized into a guard security element and a search element. The guard element provides security during the searches; at least one member of the guard element guards or observes the individuals or vehicles being searched at all times while the searcher conducts the search.

Sentry teams. Sentry teams secure the entrance and exit of the checkpoint and the holding area. They control the flow of traffic through the checkpoint, including movement from the entrance into the search area and from the search area to the exit point.

Other personnel. Whenever possible, the following should be on hand to assist scout platoon personnel with checkpoint activities:

  • A civil affairs officer, a liaison officer, or a member of the civilian police or other local authority.
  • An interpreter.
  • A trained female searcher.

Hasty checkpoints

Hasty checkpoints are set up to achieve surprise. They are established in locations where they cannot be observed by approaching traffic until it is too late to withdraw and escape without being observed. Possible locations for hasty checkpoints include the following:

  • Tunnels and large culverts.
  • Bridges.
  • Defiles.
  • Positions beyond sharp curves.
  • Highway intersections.
  • Key terrain on highways.
  • Reverse slopes of hills.
  • Other locations that limit detection from long distances.

The hasty checkpoint has the same basic layout as a deliberate checkpoint; however, because hasty checkpoints are temporary and mobile, the platoon or section establishing the checkpoint must carry the materials necessary to construct it.

The platoon or section uses its vehicles, reinforced with concertina wire, as the obstacle. The vehicles are positioned to partially block the road or route (Figure C-8). The search area is the space between the vehicles. Sentries are positioned at each end of the checkpoint and are covered by mounted or dismounted automatic weapon positions. A reaction force is designated and concealed nearby.

Figure C-8. Scout platoon manning a hasty checkpoint.

Special equipment and personnel requirements

Signs. Portable signs in the local language and in English are required. Signs should denote the speed limit of approach, as well as the vehicle search area, male and female search areas, and dismount point.

Communications. Communications must be established between the checkpoint or roadblock and higher headquarters. FM radios and wire are used within the checkpoint and between the checkpoint and overwatch positions, reaction forces, the checkpoint CP, and sentry posts. Checkpoint personnel also plan for additional means of communications, such as pyrotechnics, flags, hand-and-arm signals, or code words.

Lighting and night observation devices. Adequate lighting for the obstacle, search area, and perimeter area is necessary during night operations. Reaction forces and overwatch elements use NODs to observe outside the perimeter; however, these elements must consider how white light will affect operation of these devices.

Barriers. Obstacles should be positioned across the road and around the search area. These can include barrels filled with concrete or sand, barrier poles, clearly marked barbed wire, buses parked sideways in the road, felled trees, abandoned or disabled vehicles, or other readily available items strong enough and big enough to prevent motorists from driving through or around them. Hasty minefields, both dummy and actual, can be used to reinforce an obstacle.

Weapons. Soldiers must have adequate firepower to withstand an attack or to stop a vehicle that is attempting to flee or crash through the checkpoint. Crew-served weapons must be loaded and manned at all times.

Linguists. Soldiers familiar with the local language are valuable in all roadblock or checkpoint operations. If they are not available, soldiers must be familiar with basic phrases necessary for the operation. They should have a printed reference such as a key word and phrase card; this should be obtained from the civil affairs section, translation detachment, local authorities, or liaison officers as soon as the mission is received.

Other equipment. Other specialized equipment may be required to support the checkpoint mission. Figure C-9 provides a list of equipment that may be helpful.

Other planning considerations

The scout platoon leader must take the following requirements into account when planning the checkpoint mission:

  • Obtaining indirect fire support on key terrain around the checkpoint.
  • Ensuring that checkpoints are designed so that the minimum number of soldiers are exposed at any given time.
  • Positioning automatic weapons to provide protection when soldiers are exposed.
  • Ensuring that reinforcement and counterattack plans are developed and rehearsed.
  • Ensuring that ROE are clear and understood by all soldiers manning the checkpoint.
  • Planning for 24-hour operation of the checkpoint.
  • Obtaining logistical support.
  • Coordinating for medical assistance and MEDEVAC assets.

Pyrotechnic pistols
Riot guns
Tear gas launchers
Hand-held flashlights
Antiriot helmets
Shields, 3-ft 6-in
Police batons
Body armor
Marshaling wands
Telescopes and tripods
Infared devices
Fire extinguisher
Cameras with flash
    attachments and
Telescopic sights
Photographic filter
Instant cameras
Hand-held radios (for
    use in urban areas
Portable lamp/lights
Marker lights
Traffic cones
Traffic signs
Visor sleeves
Tire puncture chains
Directional arrows
Lightweight barriers
Wrecking bars
Hand tools, fluorescent
    hammers, pliers
Telescopic mirror
Mine markers
White tape
Mine detectors
Eye shields
Measuring tape
Metal-cutting tools
Mine probes
Safety harness

Figure C-9. Equipment list for roadblocks and checkpoints.

Preparing for contingencies at checkpoints

Scout platoon leaders must develop tactics and procedures to respond to various situations that can develop at a checkpoint. For example, a high volume of pedestrian and vehicle traffic can be expected to pass through a checkpoint; this congestion can be compounded by undisciplined driving habits of the local population and by the shortage of soldiers able to speak the local language. Belligerents can use the resulting confusion to smuggle weapons and explosives through the checkpoints. In addition, checkpoints face the constant threat of violence.

Leaders must plan for these contingencies when preparing personnel to man checkpoints. The ROE must be clear and flexible enough to accommodate rapid changes in any situation that may develop. Figure C-10 lists some examples of situations encountered at checkpoints, along with possible responses.

  • Diversions covering the efforts to sneak or rush through the checkpoint, such as:
    -- Sniper attack.
    -- Ambulance arriving at checkpoint, with sirens blaring.
    -- Staged fights or riots near the checkpoints.
  • Close the checkpoint; rapidly emplace barricades to stop and contain both vehicular and pedestrian traffic in and around the checkpoint.
  • Use reaction force to handle situations outside checkpoint so that checkpoint personnel do not have to leave it.
  • Remain calm; report to higher headquarters.
  • Sniper fire.
  • Take cover.
  • Employ smoke.
  • Protect wounded.
  • Identify location of sniper.
  • Report.
  • Respond in accordance with ROE.
  • Thrown projectiles.
  • Maintain standoff.
  • Protect self and others.
  • Do not throw objects back.
  • Report.
  • Respond with force in accordance with ROE.
  • Imminent harm.
  • Protect self and others.
  • Use force in accordance with ROE.
  • Report.
  • Civilian casualty.
  • Provide first aid.
  • Report; request MEDEVAC
  • Drive-by shooting.
  • Take cover.
  • Report.
  • Respond with force in accordance with ROE.

Figure C-10. Responses to situations at a checkpoint.


Searches of people, material, and vehicles are commonly used at roadblocks and checkpoints to control unauthorized movement of individuals and prohibited items (contraband).

Planning guidelines for search operations

Planning for a search operation should cover these points:

  • Search authority.
  • Conduct of the search.
  • Search rates.
  • Use of force.
  • Courtesy.

Search authority. Checkpoint personnel perform searches to apprehend suspects or confiscate contraband only in areas within their military jurisdiction (or where otherwise lawful). Proper use of search procedures gains the respect and support of the local population, enhances credibility, and demonstrates impartiality. Conversely, misuse of search authority can undermine the credibility of forces conducting operations in the area; it can also affect future operations. Checkpoint personnel must ensure that search procedures are conducted in accordance with established guidelines and the applicable ROE.

Conduct of the search. All checkpoint personnel must thoroughly understand the instructions issued for the conduct of searches. Instructions may cover, but are not limited to, the following points:

  • Personnel, vehicles, and/or items allowed to pass through the checkpoint.
  • Personnel and/or vehicles not allowed to pass through the checkpoint.
  • Procedures for detaining vehicles or personnel.
  • Items to be confiscated.
  • Procedures for handling confiscated items.

Search rates. Search operations are conducted slowly enough to allow for a thorough search but rapidly enough to prevent the enemy from reacting to the threat of the search.

Use of force. In accordance with established ROE, minimum essential force is used to eliminate any active resistance encountered during the search.

Courtesy. Search personnel should remain polite and considerate at all times. Figure C-11 lists guidelines for personal conduct during search operations.

DO take these actions during a search operation: DO NOT take these actions during a search operation:
  • Maintain professional, courteous demeanor when approaching the vehicle and talking to the vehicle and talking to the driver.
  • Speak only to the driver; let him speak to the passengers.
  • Ask the driver politely to do what you want him to do.
  • Speak naturally and no louder than needed.
  • When searching an individual, be courteous. Use scanners whenever possible.
  • Whatever happens at the checkpoint, stay calm and make a special effort to be polite, regardless of your feelings.
  • Always maintain a high standard of dress and military bearing. If you look smart and professional, people are more likely to accept your authority and be willing to coorperate.
  • Contact your checkpoint commander whenever necessary.
  • Maintain situational awareness at all times.
  • Maintain strict security at all times
  • Show disrespect or give any hint of dislike.
  • Speak to woman regardless of their age.
  • Put your head or arm in through the side window or open the door without permission.
  • Shout or show impatience.
  • Frisk women or tell them to put their hands up.
  • Point your weapon directly at people unless essential for security reasons.
  • Become involved in a heated argument.
  • Use force unless force is used against you. Use the minimum force necessary.
  • Become careless or sloppy in appearance.
  • Establish a routine pattern of operations. This will allow the enemy to take advantage of the checkpoint operations.

Figure C-11. "Dos" and "don'ts" of search operations.

Search procedures

Search of individuals. To avoid making an enemy of a person passing through a checkpoint, searchers must be polite, considerate, patient, and tactful. Since the very presence of checkpoints can cause uneasiness or fear, it is during the initial handling of a person about to be searched that the greatest caution is required. At least one member of the search team must provide security at all times while others conduct the search. The following methods can be used to search an individual:

  • Frisk search.
  • Wall search.
  • Strip search.
  • Female search.

Frisk search. This is a quick search of an individual for weapons, evidence, or contraband. It should be conducted in the presence of an assistant (guard) and a witness, when available. In conducting the frisk search, the searcher positions himself to prevent possible endangerment (see Figure C-12). The searcher's guard takes a position from which he can cover the individual with his weapon. The searcher must avoid moving between the guard and the individual being searched. The searched individual is required to raise his arms above his head. The searcher slides his hands over the individual's entire body, crushing the clothing to locate concealed objects. If the individual being searched is carrying a bag or wearing a coat or hat, these are also searched, with special attention given to the linings.

Figure C-12. Frisk search.

Wall search. The wall search affords the searcher some safety by placing the individual being searched in a strained, awkward position (see Figure C-13). This search method is useful when two searchers must search several individuals. The individuals to be searched can be positioned against any upright surface, such as a wall, vehicle, tree, or telephone pole. The following discussion covers factors that must be considered during the wall search.

Figure C-13. Wall search.

Position of individual being searched. The individual must face the wall (or other object) and lean against it, supporting himself with his hands over his head, placed far apart with fingers spread. His feet are placed well apart as far from the wall as possible; they are turned outward so they are parallel to the wall. The individual must keep his head down as illustrated in Figure C-13.

Position of the searcher's guard. The searcher's guard stands to the rear of the individual being searched on the opposite side from the searcher (see Figure C-13). The guard uses his weapon to cover the individual being searched. When the searcher moves from his original position to the opposite side of the individual being searched, the guard also changes position. The searcher walks around the guard to avoid coming between the guard's weapon and the individual being searched.

Position of the searcher. The searcher approaches the individual being searched from the right side. The searcher must secure his weapon so that the individual being searched cannot grab it.

When searching from the right side, the searcher places his right foot in front of the individual's right foot, making and maintaining ankle-to-ankle contact. If the individual offers resistance, this position allows the searcher to push the individual's right foot back and out from under him, causing him to fall to the ground. When searching from the left side, the searcher places his left foot in front of the individual's left foot and makes and maintains ankle-to-ankle contact. Figure C-14 illustrates the ankle-to-ankle position.

Figure C-14. Ankle-to-ankle position for a wall search.

Wall search procedures. In taking his initial position, the searcher must remain alert to prevent the individual being searched from making a sudden move to disarm or injure him. The searcher first searches the individual's headgear. Then he checks, in sequence, the individual's hands and arms, the right side of his body, and his right leg. The searcher repeats the procedure on the left side of the individual. He crushes the person's clothing between his fingers rather than merely patting the surface of the clothing. The searcher pays close attention to the armpits, back, waist, legs, groin area, and tops of boots or shoes. Any item that is not considered a weapon or evidence is replaced in the individual's pocket. If the individual resists, attempts to escape, or must be thrown down before the search is completed, the search is restarted from the beginning.

Search of multiple individuals. When two or more individuals are to be searched, they must all assume a position against the same wall or object but far enough apart that they cannot reach each other. The guard takes a position a few paces to the rear of the line with his weapon ready. The search starts with the person on the right end of the line. Upon completing the search of the first individual, the searcher moves that individual to the left end of the line; the individual assumes the proper position against the wall. The searcher resumes with the individual now on the right end of the line. The searcher must be careful to approach and search the remaining individuals without coming between them and the guard (see Figure C-15).

Figure C-15. Wall search of multiple subjects.

Strip search. This extreme search is used only when the individual is suspected of carrying documents or other contraband on his person. The search is conducted in an enclosed area such as a room or tent. Several search techniques are available. One method is to use two unarmed searchers while an armed guard provides security. The individual's clothing is removed and searched carefully. A search is then made of all possible concealment areas, including the mouth, nose, ears, hair, armpits, and groin area. A medic is a good choice to conduct this search. Care must be taken not to subject the individual to unnecessary embarrassment. Searchers must ensure that the person's privacy and dignity are maintained as much as possible.

Search of females. Women should be used to search other females whenever possible. If female searchers are not available, consider using doctors, medics, or designated males from the local population. If male soldiers must search females, all possible measures must be taken to prevent any action that could be interpreted as sexual molestation or assault.

Search of vehicles. Vehicles searches may require special equipment such as metal detection devices and mirrors. Because a thorough vehicle search is a time-consuming process, a separate search area should be established to prevent unnecessary delays. Figure C-16 shows an example of a search rate planning guide.

(per vehicle)
None 600-800 -
Vehicle Decal ID Check 400-600 10 sec
Driver ID Check 200-400 20 sec
Visual Observation of Passengers and Cargo Area 150-300 25 Sec
Basic Physical and Visual Search of Passengers and Cargo Area 50-150 1.2 min
Comprehensive Vehicle Search 12-24 5 min

Figure C-16. Example rate planning guide for vehicle searches.

Searchers instruct all occupants to get out and stand clear of the vehicle. The driver should be made to watch the search of the vehicle. A guard watches the passengers and provides additional security at all times. If sufficient searchers are available, the passengers should be searched at the same time. Figure C-17 lists some examples of vehicle search procedures.

Weapons or explosives may be hidden in vehicle fuel tanks or inside componebts of vehicles. Look for newly replaced vehicle components, scratches on vehicle components, new nuts and bolts, or other signs of recent work.
Weapons, explosives, and combatants may be sealed in hearses and ambulances with bodies or wounded civilians. Treat these vehicles with respect, but search them and their contents thoroughly, including caskets. Do not disturb bodies. Have medics verify wounds.
Females may be used to smuggle weapons and explosives. Male soldiers should not touch females; use female searchers or metal or mine detectors whenever possible. Use medical personnel if no female searches are available.

Figure C-17. Example vehicle search procedures.


When intelligence identifies and locates members of an insurgent infrastructure, cordon and search operations are mounted to neutralize them. This discussion covers procedures for the scout platoon in support of the light infantry company or battalion conducting these operations.

Task organization

Task organization for cordon and search operations includes a security force (cordon force), a search force, and a reserve force. The scout platoon will normally operate as part of the security force or the reserve force; if required, however, it can operate either by itself as the search force or as part of a larger search force.

Conduct of the operation

Search zones are designated; a search party is assigned to each zone. Each search party has its own search force, security force, and reserve force.

Procedures. An effective cordon is critical to the success of the search effort. Cordons isolate the search area, prevent the escape of individuals, and protect the forces conducting the operation. Deployment to the search area is rapid and is synchronized so it does not provide early warning to the local population; the security force surrounds the area while the search force moves in (see Figure C-18).

Figure C-18. Scout platoon establishes 360-degree security.

Checkpoints and roadblocks are established along roads entering and exiting the area (see Figure C-19). OPs are established, and security patrols are executed in the surrounding area. Members of the security force orient mainly on people or vehicles attempting to escape or evade the search in the populated area; however, the security force can also cut off elements or individuals trying to reinforce enemy forces in the search area.

Figure C-19. Scout sections establish hasty roadblocks.

Reserve force. A mobile reserve force is located near the search zone. Its specific mission is to reinforce OPs, patrols, or the search force and to assist the other elements as required by the mission (see Figure C-20).

Figure C-20. Scout platoon operates as the reserve force.


During stability and support operations, numerous situations may arise requiring armored and light forces to operate together. The use of a mixed force capitalizes on the strengths of both forces while offsetting their respective weaknesses. Light/heavy operations take advantage of the light unit's ability to operate in restricted terrain (such as urban areas, forests, and mountains), while increasing the light unit's survivability. Conversely, the armored unit's mobility, protection, and firepower complement the light infantry unit's capabilities.

The scout platoon will operate with light infantry forces in various task organizations. Examples of these organizations include the following:

  • The cavalry squadron or troop is attached or OPCON to a light infantry brigade.
  • A light infantry company is attached to an armor or mechanized battalion or cavalry squadron.
  • The scout platoon is attached to a light infantry brigade as part of an armor company team.

Regardless of the task organization, the key challenge in light/heavy operations is to understand the capabilities and limitations of light and armored forces, to develop plans that take full advantage of their capabilities, and to correctly employ the two types of forces for maximum effectiveness. The goal of this section is to assist the scout platoon leader in understanding the platoon's role in the light/heavy force and in planning and executing the platoon's missions during these operations. (NOTE: Refer to FM 7-10 for detailed information on light infantry organizations.)


The scout platoon normally does not conduct close support of infantry operations. In stability and support operations, however, the scout platoon can use its unique capabilities to conduct combat operations in support of or in conjunction with light infantry.

Along with conventional reconnaissance and security missions, the platoon can support infantry in MOUT and in cordon and search operations. It can also provide protection against enemy armored forces.


Light infantry fights a variety of enemy forces. These may range from crudely equipped insurgents to technologically advanced conventional forces. Potential threat targets include the following:

  • Nonarmored targets, including the following:
    -- Bunkers.
    -- Automatic weapon positions.
    -- Buildings and walls.
    -- Roadblocks and obstacles.
  • CPs.
  • Logistical positions.
  • Light-skinned vehicles.
  • Armored vehicles.



Capabilities of the scout platoon in support of light/heavy operations include the following:

  • Ability to suppress or destroy enemy positions with direct fires from the caliber .50 heavy machine gun, 40-mm grenade launcher, or 25-mm chain gun.
  • Ability to breach walls and reduce obstacles with direct fire.
  • Enhanced communications assets.
  • Thermal sights and NODs.
  • Capability for rapid movement and limited penetrations.
  • Use of CFVs to provide protection against light AT fires, small arms, and fragments.


The scout platoon's limitations in light/heavy operations include these:

  • Restricted mobility and fields of fire in close or urban terrain.
  • Vulnerability to antiarmor weapons in built-up areas.
  • The CFV's consumption of large quantities of Classes III, V, and IX, requiring daily resupply.
  • Need for augmentation of transportation assets to support CSS requirements.
  • Possibility that bridges and roads may not support CFVs.
  • Inability to move over soft or heavily wooded terrain traversable by light infantry.


MOUT battlefields are complex and three-dimensional; they are characterized by the close, restricted terrain typical of built-up areas, resulting in severely limited fields of fire and maneuver space. Mounted avenues of approach, restricted mostly to streets and alleys, are narrow, canalized, and easily obstructed. On the other hand, cover and concealment are plentiful for dismounted forces. Dismounted avenues of approach are literally everywhere; they can be underground, through buildings, along edges of streets, and over rooftops.

While MOUT are predominantly an infantry fight, the scout platoon can support light infantry units by providing security, protection, mobility, and firepower. The scout platoon can perform the following tasks to increase the combat power of the light infantry force:

  • Isolate objectives with direct fires to prevent enemy withdrawal, reinforcement, or counterattack.
  • Suppress or destroy enemy positions.
  • Breach walls and blocked doorways.
  • Reduce barricades and obstacles with direct fires.
  • Reduce enemy strongpoints.
  • Establish roadblocks.
  • Protect against enemy armored attacks or counterattacks.
  • Suppress sniper fires.
  • Use CFVs to provide protection from small arms and fragmentation rounds.
  • Overwatch likely armor avenues of approach.

For a more detailed discussion of the scout platoon's role in MOUT, refer to Appendix D of this manual.

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