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The scout platoon is organized, equipped, and trained to conduct reconnaissance and, to a limited extent, security for its parent unit. In simplest terms, the platoon serves as the commander's eyes and ears on the battlefield. It employs proper techniques of movement (both mounted and dismounted) and stealth to gather information, its primary function. Scouts provide current battlefield data to help the commander plan and conduct tactical operations.

The scout platoon also conducts limited security missions, but it is not organized and equipped to fight for extended periods or to act as tank killers. Although it can employ a variety of antitank (AT) weapons (AT-4s, M47 Dragons, or Javelins), the platoon normally uses these assets for defensive purposes (self-protection and breaking contact), not for offensive reasons.

Section 1 General
Section 2 Tactical Organization
Section 3 Responsibilities
Section 4 Missions, Capabilities, and Limitations



There are several types of scout platoons in the force, including light and heavy division cavalry platoons, air cavalry platoons, and those in separate cavalry troops. (NOTE: The areoscout platoon is discussed in detail in Chapter 6 of this manual.) The two most prominent types, however, are the CFV scout platoon and the HMMWV scout platoon. Both types consist of one officer and 29 enlisted soldiers. The platoons are organized by tables of organization and equipment (TOE) into a headquarters element and two or four scout sections (see Figures 1-1 and 1-2). When executing missions, the scout platoon is organized according to the factors of mission, enemy, terrain (and weather), troops, time available, and civilian considerations (METT-TC) into an appropriate tactical organization consisting of a variable number of scout sections or squads.

Figure 1-1. CFV scout platoon.

Figure 1-2. HMMWV scout platoon.


The CFV platoon, equipped with six M3 CFVs, is found in the cavalry squadrons of an armored or mechanized division or in an armored cavalry regiment; it is also found in certain mechanized battalions, specifically in the 3rd Infantry Division. The HMMWV platoon comprises 10 M1025/1026 HMMWVs. It is found in light cavalry regiments, in air cavalry and reconnaissance squadrons, and in mechanized infantry and armor battalions.


The platoon headquarters element provides command and control for the scout platoon. It consists of the platoon leader, the platoon sergeant (PSG), and their respective vehicle crews. The CFV scout platoon rarely uses a headquarters element during tactical operations. The HMMWV scout platoon is organized by TOE with a headquarters element; based on the factors of METT-TC, the headquarters may be split into two subelements (platoon leader and PSG), each moving with a scout section for security.


The scout section is normally employed as the platoon's basic tactical maneuver organization. Each section is made up of a section leader, squad leaders, and their crews manning two or three CFVs or two to four HMMWVs. The platoon may also be task organized for maneuver purposes into elements known as scout squads; the squad is normally a single vehicle and its crew. (NOTE: Refer to Section 2 of this chapter for a discussion of tactical organization.)


The scout platoon leader task organizes his platoon to accomplish the mission based on the factors of METT-TC. Unlike most other combat arms platoons, which maneuver together in formation, the scout platoon normally maneuvers as individual scout sections or squads under the direction and control of the platoon leader. A scout section or squad may consist of from one to three vehicles plus any combat elements under its operational control (OPCON). Determining which organization best meets his mission requirements is one of the key decisions the platoon leader must make during his troop-leading procedures.


Regardless of the mission it is executing or the formation or movement technique it is using, the CFV scout platoon normally operates in one of three organizations: as three sections with two vehicles in each section, as two sections with three vehicles in each section, or as a six-vehicle platoon. The CFV platoon, with only six reconnaissance platforms, rarely has the luxury of operating a separate headquarters element.

Three-section organization

Three sections are the basic organization for the CFV scout platoon (see Figure 1-3). This organization allows the platoon to achieve a good compromise between the requirement of employing a maximum number of elements during the reconnaissance or security mission and the need for security. It is the ideal organization for the conduct of a route reconnaissance mission. In a screen mission, this organization allows employment of three long-duration observation posts (OP), which are occupied for 12 or more hours; it also facilitates the simultaneous conduct of dismounted patrols.

Figure 1-3. CFV scout platoon three-section organization.

In this organization, the platoon leader and PSG are members of scout sections (C and B, respectively). As members of these sections, they have to perform both scout duties and the command and control requirements of their duty positions. To minimize their workload, these leaders must make maximum use of their gunners, and they should position themselves as the overwatch element within their sections.

Two-section organization

The two-section organization is used when increased security is required, when the area of operations can be covered efficiently with only two elements, or when operational strength (less than six vehicles operational) makes the three-section organization impossible. The two sections are formed by splitting the C element of a three-section organization; refer to the illustration in Figure 1-4.

Figure 1-4. CFV scout platoon two-section organization.

Six-vehicle organization

The six-vehicle organization is the most difficult to control (refer to Figure 1-5 for an illustration). The platoon leader employs this organization when he must have six separate information sources at the same time.

Figure 1-5. CFV scout platoon six-vehicle organization.


With 10 vehicles, the HMMWV scout platoon has a wide variety of organizational options. The platoon leader selects an organization based on his METT-TC analysis. The basic maneuver element of this platoon, as in the cavalry scout platoon, is the scout section. The platoon also includes a headquarters element, which consists of both the platoon leader and the PSG or the platoon leader only.

The HMMWV platoon's headquarters element focuses on command and control of the platoon. It travels with a scout squad for security, but it positions itself as needed based on the analysis of METT-TC factors and the command and control requirements of the mission. When both the platoon leader and PSG are in the headquarters element, the element will normally be split among the scout sections to disperse command and control capability throughout the platoon.

The following paragraphs discuss basic organizational options for the HMMWV platoon. The platoon leader may develop other combinations to meet unique METT-TC requirements and to accommodate attachments. The platoon leader, no matter how he organizes his platoon, has only a limited number of soldiers to conduct dismounted operations. Because of such manpower constraints, the platoon is unable to both conduct dismounted patrols and occupy OPs at the same time.

Two-section organization

This is an effective organization when only two maneuver corridors have to be observed or when two distinct reconnaissance missions are required. This organization maximizes security at the section level and gives the sections sufficient maneuver and command and control capability to conduct limited separate missions. This organization allows the platoon to put out two long-duration OPs; it is the best organization for dismounted operations. (See Figure 1-6.)

Figure 1-6. HMMWV scout platoon two-section organization.

Three-section organization

This organization is ideal for reconnaissance along a single route. It allows employment of three long-duration OPs; the ability to concurrently conduct dismounted patrols is somewhat limited. (See Figure 1-7.)

Figure 1-7. HMMWV scout platoon three-section organization.

Four-section organization

This organization is used in reconnoitering large areas or multiple maneuver corridors. Four short-duration OPs can be established, allowing OPs to be structured in depth. In this organization, sections have dismounted capability to conduct local security only. (See Figure 1-8.)

Figure 1-8. HMMWV scout platoon four-section organization.

Eight-squad organization

The eight-squad organization is rarely used because it creates very difficult command and control challenges. It gives the platoon an enhanced ability to conduct screening missions in depth, although only for short durations. It also provides the platoon with the ability to conduct numerous reconnaissance tasks simultaneously.

In addition to command and control, this organization has two severe drawbacks: the lack of overwatch capability leaves elements extremely vulnerable to enemy contact, and the platoon has virtually no ability to organize patrols of any type.


METT-TC circumstances will often cause the scout platoon leader to employ variations of the basic platoon organizations discussed previously. In addition, attachments, such as infantry or engineers, may change the composition and number of squads or sections. A CFV scout platoon with these assets attached may task organize into four squads or sections: two squads or sections consisting of one CFV and one infantry or engineer squad each and two squads or sections of two CFVs each (see Figure 1-9). Later chapters contain further information regarding mission task organization.

Figure 1-9. Example task organization with engineers and infantry.


The platoon leader and the platoon's noncommissioned officers (NCO) must be experts in the use of organic weapons, indirect fires, land navigation, supporting fires, demolitions, obstacles, communications, and reconnaissance and security techniques. They must be familiar with armor and infantry tactics and be able to react to rapidly changing situations; they must also know how to employ combat support (CS) assets that are attached to the platoon. Because of the many missions the platoon must be capable of performing, the scout platoon leader and PSG must be proficient in tasks at all skill levels of MOS 19D.


The platoon leader is responsible to his higher commander for the discipline, combat readiness, and training of the platoon as well as the maintenance of its equipment. The platoon leader must have a thorough knowledge of reconnaissance and security tactics. In the battalion scout platoon, as the task force's expert on reconnaissance and security, he works closely with the commander, S2, and S3 during the mission analysis portion of the planning process.

The platoon leader must be proficient in the tactical employment of the platoon. A solid understanding of troop-leading procedures and the ability to apply them quickly and efficiently in the field are essential. The platoon leader must also know the capabilities and limitations of the platoon's personnel and equipment. He must be an expert in enemy organizations, doctrine, and equipment.

Most of all, the platoon leader must be versatile. He must be able to exercise sound judgment and make correct decisions quickly based on his commander's intent and the tactical situation.


The PSG leads elements of the platoon as directed by the platoon leader and assumes command of the platoon in the absence of the platoon leader. During tactical operations, he may assist in the control of the platoon. The PSG assists the platoon leader in maintaining discipline, as well as in training and controlling the platoon. He supervises equipment maintenance, supply operations, and other combat service support (CSS) activities.


Section leaders are responsible to the platoon leader for the training and discipline of their scout sections. They are also responsible for the tactical employment and control of the section. They are responsible for the maintenance and operation of all vehicles and equipment organic to their sections. Squad leaders have the same responsibilities for their squads as section leaders have for sections.



The scout platoon's primary missions are reconnaissance and security in support of its parent unit. It can perform these missions mounted or dismounted, day or night, in various terrain conditions, and under all weather and visibility conditions. In addition to the primary missions, the scout platoon can perform the following missions:

  • Conduct liaison.
  • Perform quartering party duties.
  • Provide traffic control.
  • Conduct chemical detection and radiological survey and monitoring operations as part of a nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) defense.
  • Conduct limited obstacle construction and reduction.


The scout platoon is a reconnaissance force that conducts operations as part of a larger combined arms force. Scouts in general have capabilities and limitations that must be considered when employing them; each type of scout platoon has characteristics specific to its TOE. Characteristics of the two main types of scout platoon (CFV and HMMWV) include the following:

  • The scout platoon is dependent on its parent unit for CS and CSS.
  • The CFV scout platoon normally reconnoiters only a single route during route reconnaissance.
  • The HMMWV scout platoon can reconnoiter one or two routes simultaneously; however, reconnaissance of two routes can be performed to determine trafficablity only.
  • Depending on METT-TC, the scout platoon can reconnoiter a zone up to 3 to 5 kilometers wide. METT-TC may increase or decrease the size of the zone for either type of platoon.
  • During screening operations, all scout platoons are limited in their ability to destroy or repel enemy reconnaissance units.
  • The CFV scout platoon can man up to six OPs for short durations (less than 12 hours) or three OPs for long durations (over 12 hours).
  • The HMMWV scout platoon can man up to eight short-duration OPs or up to three OPs for long durations.
  • When properly organized, scouts can conduct effective reconnaissance and security patrols. The CFV scout platoon has 12 dedicated dismounted scouts. The HMMWV scout platoon has very limited dismounted capability; it must be carefully task organized to conduct dismounted operations.
  • Distance and mission duration are critical considerations affecting employment of the scout platoon away from the main body of its parent unit. Fire support, CSS, and communications requirements are also important factors when the scout platoon is tasked to conduct sustained operations beyond the immediate supporting range of the main body.
  • While operating on the platoon net, the scout platoon leader can monitor only two nets at one time. This means he cannot operate continuously on all necessary battalion nets, including the battalion command, operations and intelligence (OI), administrative/logistics (A/L), and mortar nets. Refer to the discussion of platoon radio nets in Chapter 2 of this manual.
  • The scout platoon has limited obstacle construction ability and carries only a basic load of demolitions.
  • The scout platoon has very limited obstacle reduction capability; under most conditions, it can breach only point obstacles.


In many respects, the scout's capability is dependent on his equipment. The two types of scout platforms, the M3 CFV and the M1025/1026 HMMWV, have distinctly different characteristics. When employed with the appropriate TTP, both vehicles are highly effective reconnaissance and security platforms.

Every scout must understand his mount thoroughly so he can maximize its capabilities and minimize its limitations. Refer to Figures 1-10 and 1-11, which illustrate the two scout vehicles and summarize their capabilities and specifications.

Figure 1-10. M3 CFV characteristics.

Figure 1-11. HMMWV characteristics.



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