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Security Operations

In security operations, security forces protect the main body from enemy observation and surprise attack. They provide the main body commander with early warning, allowing him to concentrate his combat power at the right place and time to defeat the enemy. There are four types of security missions: screen, guard, cover, and area security.

Section 1 Purpose and Fundamentals
Section 2 Screening Missions
Section 3 Area Security Operations



All security missions serve the same general purpose: they prevent the main body from being observed or attacked unexpectedly by the enemy. These operations are conducted forward, to the flanks, or to the rear of the main body. The scout platoon may operate at considerable distances from the main body it is screening (limited only by communications capabilities and the range of indirect fire support). This provides the main body with time and space to react and to position forces to fight the enemy.

The scout platoon can conduct screening and area security operations independently or as part of a larger force such as a cavalry troop or a company team. In conducting guard and cover missions, the scout platoon works as part of a larger unit such as a battalion or squadron; in addition, the platoon may be tasked to conduct screening or reconnaissance missions in support of the larger unit's guard or cover mission.


A screening force provides early warning to the main body and impedes and harasses the enemy with direct and indirect fires. Within its capabilities and based on the commander's guidance, it destroys enemy reconnaissance units in coordination with other combat elements.

Screening missions, which are defensive in nature, provide the protected force with the lowest level of protection of any security mission. They are conducted to the front, flanks, and rear of a stationary force and to the flanks and rear of a moving force. The screening force normally operates within the range of the supporting artillery. The scout platoon generally accomplishes a screening mission by establishing a series of OPs and conducting patrols to ensure adequate surveillance of the assigned sector.


A guard force is deployed over a narrower front than is a screening force. It accomplishes all the tasks of a screening force, with the additional task of preventing enemy ground observation of and direct fire against the main body. A guard force reconnoiters, attacks, defends, and delays as necessary to accomplish its mission. It normally operates within the range of the supporting artillery. Guard operations are not conducted below task force or squadron level.


A covering force accomplishes all the tasks of screening and guard forces to deceive, disrupt, and destroy enemy forces. The key distinction of the cover mission is that the force operates apart from the main body to allow early development of the situation. Unlike screening or guard forces, a covering force is tactically self-contained; it is normally a reinforced separate brigade or cavalry regiment. It is organized with sufficient CS and CSS assets to operate independent of the main body. Because the covering force (or a portion of it) can be decisively engaged by an enemy force, it must have sufficient combat power to effectively engage the enemy.

Area security

Area security missions are conducted to provide reconnaissance and security in support of designated personnel, facilities (including airfields), unit convoys, main supply routes, lines of communications, equipment, and critical points.


Five fundamentals, described in the following paragraphs, are common to all security missions. The scout platoon leader's plans must adhere to these fundamentals as the scouts execute their mission.

Orient on the main body

If the main body moves, the scouts must be aware of its move and must reposition their forces accordingly. Scouts must understand the main body commander's scheme of maneuver and where he wants his screening force in relation to his movement. The screen must be positioned where it can provide the needed security.

Perform continuous reconnaissance

The scout platoon conducts continuous reconnaissance during security operations to gain as much information as possible about the area of operations and the enemy.

Provide early and accurate warnings

Early and accurate warning of enemy approach is essential to successful operations. The main body commander needs this information to shift and concentrate his forces to meet and defeat the enemy. Scouts occupy OPs and conduct patrols to provide long-range observation, to observe enemy movement, and to report the enemy's size, location, and activity to the main body commander.

Provide reaction time and maneuver space

The scout platoon works at sufficient distance from the main body to identify and report on the enemy so the main body commander can react accordingly. The platoon provides additional reaction time and/or maneuver space by employing indirect fires to slow the enemy's rate of advance.

Maintain enemy contact

Scouts gain and maintain contact with the enemy to provide the commander with continuous information. If they lose contact, they take steps to regain it. They then maintain contact until ordered to do otherwise.


Scouts conduct screen missions for their parent unit or other combined arms forces to provide early warning of enemy approach and to provide real-time information, reaction time, and maneuver space for the main body. A commander calls on scouts to screen for him when he needs advance warning of when and where the enemy is attacking. Operating over an extended area, the platoon fights only for self-protection and remains within its capabilities. It denies enemy reconnaissance units close-in observation of the main body.


During a screening mission, the scout platoon must accomplish the following critical tasks:

  • Maintain continuous surveillance of all assigned NAIs or high-speed avenues of approach into the sector.
  • Provide early warning of enemy approach.
  • Within capability and based on the commander's guidance, identify enemy reconnaissance units and, in coordination with other combat elements, destroy them.
  • Gain and maintain contact with the enemy main body and report its activity.
  • Impede and harass the enemy main body by controlled use of indirect fires.

Scouts maintain surveillance from a series of OPs along a screen line or in depth. The screen line, normally a phase line on a map, designates the most forward location of the OPs. Commanders must carefully weigh time and distance factors when choosing where to place this line. If the scout platoon leader does not receive a screen line location from his commander, he should ask for it. In executing a screen mission, scouts conduct active patrolling to extend their observation range or to cover dead space and the area between OPs. Unless they have to, they do not fight with their direct fire weapons. Indirect fire is their primary means of engaging the enemy. They use direct fire primarily for self-defense.

When planning a screen mission, the scout platoon leader uses the critical task requirements covered in the following discussion as a guide to prioritizing and sequencing the mission. He must address each requirement.

Conduct surveillance of assigned areas

The first task that must be accomplished is to provide surveillance of the assigned area of operations.

Surveillance requirements. Generally, scouts are assigned to screen along a lateral line (the screen line). This can be misleading, however. The scout screen is actually set to observe specific avenues of approach or, more specifically, NAIs. The screen line merely indicates the limit of the forward positioning of the scouts. Along with the screen line graphic, the scout platoon leader must have an event template/matrix; he may also have a decision support template.

The areas the platoon is tasked to observe should be identified in either the reconnaissance and security plan the platoon leader receives or in the OPORD from higher headquarters. If the platoon does not receive an IPB product, the higher OPORD must specifically state where it must focus the screening operation. If the platoon is assigned multiple requirements, the higher headquarters must prioritize them.

In a task force, the scout's understanding of his commander's intent and guidance is the most critical aspect of planning the screen mission. More important than the specifics of where to orient is the focus on what to look for. There are three choices for this focus: the enemy main body, the enemy reconnaissance effort, or both. The intent should specify which one the scout will focus on or, if both are required (as is often the case), which has priority.

This guidance will then determine where the platoon will orient and how it will allocate resources. If the commander's priority is locating the main body, the scout will focus most of his assets on the main avenues of approach and accept risk on the reconnaissance avenues of approach (RAA). If the commander's priority is on counterreconnaissance, the scout will put priority on the RAA and accept some risk on the main avenue. If the commander wants both, with equal priority, the scout must plan to transition from the RAA to the main avenue at a designated point in the battle. The commander will usually order this transition based on the enemy situation.

NOTE: An enemy RAA may mirror or parallel the intended route of an enemy maneuver force, or it may follow a route that facilitates observation of key terrain or friendly forces but is unrelated to the enemy scheme of maneuver.

Surveillance assets. Once the scout platoon leader has a thorough understanding of what his surveillance requirements are, he must next determine what assets he has available to execute these requirements. Availability of assets is dependent on how long the screen must remain in place and how the platoon is task organized. Among the assets that can enhance the platoon's surveillance capability are GSR, infantry squads, tank platoons or companies, engineer reconnaissance teams, artillery forward observers (FO), and aviation assets. If the screen will be of short duration (less than 12 hours), individual scout squads can emplace and man separate OPs. If the duration of the screen is unknown or longer than 12 hours, the platoon leader must consider assigning a two-vehicle section (CFV scout platoon) or three-vehicle section (HMMWV scout platoon) for each OP to facilitate continuous operations. Refer to Chapter 6 of this manual for further details on air/ground reconnaissance integration.

Surveillance techniques. To ensure that the critical task of surveillance of assigned reconnaissance objectives is accomplished, the platoon leader and his higher headquarters apply a combination of techniques to make the most efficient use of their assets. (NOTE: Refer to Chapter 8 of this manual for a discussion of surveillance methods, including OPs, patrols, and use of electronic and mechanical assets.)

Task organization. The platoon leader will task organize the platoon and any other assigned assets to achieve the most effective surveillance of an NAI or avenue. He may also employ assets not under his direct control, but rather under the command of the troop or battalion. As noted, these assets could be tank elements, engineer or infantry squads, GSR, artillery observers, and aviation assets. (NOTE: When the platoon leader does not control the assets directly, he must ensure that his dispositions complement those of the other forces in the screen and do not duplicate them unnecessarily. In addition, he must ensure that all scouts understand where these forces are and what role they are playing.)

The platoon leader may employ these surveillance assets in a number of ways. These may include adjusting the number of scout sections or squads in a particular surveillance team; mixing scouts and other assets such as engineers, artillery, GSR, or infantry into the same team; or maintaining elements in pure teams under the platoon leader's control. The platoon leader must consider the characteristics of the NAI or avenue when task organizing for surveillance. These considerations will determine whether the platoon will need to call for fire or conduct dismounted patrols; they will also affect the field of view and applicability of GSR.

Figure 4-1 illustrates how the scout platoon might be task organized for surveillance operations. Figure 4-2 shows employment of a tank company team to supplement the platoon.

Figure 4-1. Sample scout platoon task organization.

Figure 4-2. Tank company team employed to supplement a scout screen.

Redundancy. The platoon leader may task more than one element to observe a particular assigned NAI or avenue. He does this based on the nature of the NAI or avenue in terms of size, terrain, or importance. For example, a very large avenue may require multiple observation assets to ensure all aspects of the avenue are covered. Terrain that is very broken or mixed with areas of thick vegetation may require more than one asset to ensure that adequate continuous coverage is achieved. Finally, if a particular NAI is assigned significant priority by the commander, the scout platoon leader may assign multiple elements to cover it. Redundancy not only ensures that an NAI or avenue is adequately observed, but also enables the unit to accomplish the mission even if some assets are compromised by enemy forces. Figure 4-3 illustrates redundancy of observation assets.

Figure 4-3. Redundant coverage of an avenue of approach.

Cueing. Cueing is a technique the scout platoon leader can use to cover an NAI or avenue when assets are limited and he lacks the capability for redundancy. He plans contingency tasks that will increase surveillance on a particular NAI; his surveillance teams execute the tasks when "cued" by activity at that NAI.

The NAI or avenue is covered initially either by a single surveillance team or by a remote or electronic signaling device such as a trip flare or the platoon early warning system (PEWS). When activity is detected, other teams move into preselected positions to add their capabilities to the surveillance of the NAI or avenue. Refer to Figure 4-4.

Figure 4-4. Use of trip flare to cue a patrol.

Provide early warning

The scout platoon's second critical task is to provide early warning of an enemy approach. Effective early warning requires planning for communications in detail. The platoon leader looks at communications distances and significant terrain features to identify potential FM communications problems. If he anticipates problems, he can address them by requesting support from higher (in the form of battalion retrans) or by planning for radio relays and directional antennas. See Figure 4-5.

Figure 4-5. Platoon communications setup.

Perform counterreconnaissance

Once the platoon leader has planned surveillance of assigned reconnaissance objectives and has ensured that he can provide early warning, he must next evaluate the enemy's reconnaissance effort and the platoon's assigned role in the conduct of counterreconnaissance operations. These operations consist of two elements: acquiring and killing. The most appropriate role for the scout platoon in counterreconnaissance is acquiring enemy reconnaissance assets rather than killing them, although it does have limited killing capability.

The commander's guidance must specifically define the role of the scout in counterreconnaissance operations. Once he has a thorough understanding of his commander's intent, the scout platoon leader must consider four factors when planning to acquire enemy reconnaissance elements: enemy reconnaissance avenues of approach (RAA); when and under what conditions enemy reconnaissance forces are likely to be encountered; the likely composition of the enemy reconnaissance in terms of size, organization, and equipment; and the identity and location of friendly reconnaissance-killing forces.

Enemy reconnaissance forces are not likely to use primary RAAs to execute their mission. To acquire their assigned reconnaissance objectives, the scouts must be oriented on trails, rough terrain, and dead space that allow mounted movement, but only for small teams of vehicles. They must also realize that enemy reconnaissance is most likely to move during darkness and periods of limited visibility. A thorough understanding of the composition of enemy reconnaissance elements will allow the scout to more accurately determine what their likely RAAs are and how best to acquire them.

Other assets in the troop or battalion will be given the specific mission of killing enemy reconnaissance behind the screen line where initial acquisition occurs. Once the scouts locate enemy reconnaissance elements, they must use their thorough knowledge of the terrain and of the location and capabilities of the friendly killing force to coordinate battle handover of the enemy forces.

The counterreconnaissance task is extremely resource-intensive. It is generally most effective when conducted by an element larger than a single scout platoon. Most often, the scout platoon by itself does not have sufficient assets to both acquire and kill the enemy. In addition, it may not be able to cover all RAAs and still maintain surveillance on the enemy's main avenues of approach. The commander's intent is critical to resolving this dilemma.

When the scout platoon must acquire both enemy reconnaissance elements and the main body, the priority in the early stages of the mission will be on the reconnaissance forces, focusing on the RAAs. The platoon will then track the echeloned arrival of enemy elements on the battlefield and shift priority to the main avenues of approach at the appropriate time. This technique permits the platoon to time-phase its priorities based on battlefield conditions. The platoon leader, however, must recognize when to change priority to the main avenue and then execute the change successfully. See Figures 4-6A and 4-6B.

Figure 4-6a. Changing the screen priority (initial priority to counterreconnaissance).

Figure 4-6B. Changing the screen priority (priority changed to main avenue of approach) (continued).

Maintain contact

After locating the main body of the enemy, the scout platoon must maintain contact with it until authorized to hand over contact to another friendly element. This is one of the most difficult tasks for the individual scout section or squad to accomplish and therefore is best accomplished through a platoon effort.

The preferred method of maintaining contact with a moving enemy main body is to position echeloned OPs in depth along the avenue of approach. This allows contact to be handed off from one OP to another without the requirement for the OPs to physically displace. This technique requires that the scout platoon have enough assets to pre-position the OPs in depth. See Figure 4-7.

Figure 4-7. Positioning OPs in depth.

Another technique used to maintain contact is to displace in front of a moving enemy. This technique is very difficult because the scouts must move to the rear faster than the enemy is moving forward. This often exposes the scouts to enemy fire. Additionally, if they attempt to use covered and concealed routes only, they risk moving too slowly, being overrun or outrun by the enemy, and losing contact. See Figure 4-8.

Figure 4-8A. Displacement while in contact.

Figure 4-8B. Displacement while in contact (continued).

Figure 4-8C. Displacement while in contact (continued).

A third technique is a combination of the two discussed earlier. Leaving the original dismounted OP in position (with a vehicle in support, if possible), the scouts detach a vehicle or vehicle section and reposition it in depth as either a mounted or dismounted OP. This OP can be established or reoriented to maintain contact until the enemy force can be handed off to a maneuver element. This technique reduces both the time associated with moving OPs and the likelihood that any scout element will be compromised. Refer to Figure 4-9A and 4-9B).

Figure 4-9a. Repositioning OPs in depth.

Figure 4-9b. Repositioning OPs in depth (continued).

Harass and impede

Scouts should attempt to harass and impede the enemy using indirect fire. It is difficult, however, to effectively engage a moving armored element with indirect fire. Through careful planning that focuses on expected avenues of approach, choke points, the enemy rate of march, and artillery time of flight, the platoon leader can determine trigger lines (or points) that allow the enemy to be accurately engaged.

Accurate artillery fire will have an immediate effect on the enemy main body. Formations will be disrupted as individual vehicles change speed, button up, or are destroyed or disabled. Command and control will deteriorate as vision is restricted and antennas are lost; this loss of vision and command and control will restrict the enemy's ability to spot displacing friendly forces. The enemy may also compromise his momentum and combat power if he attempts to locate the element directing the fire.


Counterreconnaissance is a directed effort to prevent visual observation or infiltration of friendly forces by enemy reconnaissance elements. It is a critical task of all cavalry or battalion scout platoon security missions. Countering the enemy's mounted reconnaissance is the first and possibly most important step in ensuring the main body can successfully execute its mission. This task is most successfully executed when it is approached as a combined arms effort at troop and battalion level.

The scout platoon plays a vital role in the battalion task force and cavalry troop counterreconnaissance fight. Although counterreconnaissance is mostly discussed in terms of battalion operations, it is equally applicable to the cavalry troop and squadron.

Planning considerations

The task force or troop concept of executing counterreconnaissance must address how the unit will accomplish the two aspects of counterreconnaissance: acquiring the enemy and then killing him. At squadron and battalion level, the S2 provides key input in this determination. He identifies where RAAs into the unit sector are located, what type of enemy reconnaissance elements might be used in the sector, and when they are most likely to move into the sector. This information is integrated into the R&S plan and is part of the unit's IPB.

At the same time, the R&S plan is not normally sufficient to provide detailed guidance for the conduct of counterreconnaissance. The commander or S3 should supplement it with a FRAGO indicating in tactical terms how elements will organize and conduct counterreconnaissance operations throughout the depth of the task force area of operations. This information should planning considerations for the operation, including the following:

  • Direct fire planning and coordination.
  • Observation planning and coordination.
  • Command and control.
  • Battle handover.

In all counterreconnaissance operations, the goal is to kill the enemy reconnaissance forces after they have penetrated the initial screen line. The scout platoon's role in these operations will usually be to conduct a screen mission to acquire and identify enemy reconnaissance forces. This requires that the acquiring elements of the platoon be well hidden to prevent the enemy from detecting the screen line. The S3 may also task maneuver units to conduct patrols to find the enemy. In most cases, the scout platoon cannot be expected to have the capability to acquire, identify, and defeat the enemy reconnaissance by itself. Other combat elements will be tasked to fight and kill the enemy reconnaissance elements.


Several organizational options, which are described in the following paragraphs, are available to the commander or S3 to counter the enemy reconnaissance effort.

Scout platoon. This technique puts the entire burden for counterreconnaissance on the scout platoon and attached CS assets. It requires maximum use of the CS assets to acquire the enemy, freeing the scouts to perform the killing function of counterreconnaissance. The scout platoon leader places acquiring assets along the screen line and positions his designated killing teams in depth. The killing assets of the platoon occupy positions on likely enemy reconnaissance routes; however, they must be flexible to respond to enemy elements moving on other routes.

This technique requires that the platoon's sections or squads reconnoiter alternate positions and routes that permit quick repositioning once contact is made by the acquiring elements. When it is used, counterreconnaissance tasks must be prioritized in the early stages of the screen mission.

Scout and tank team. The team technique requires the close integration of a scout platoon and a tank platoon to execute counterreconnaissance tasks. The scout platoon is the acquiring element, and the tank platoon is the killing element. The scout platoon leader, as the element that makes first contact, commands the counterreconnaissance effort; the tank platoon is placed OPCON to the scout platoon. In the cavalry troop, the troop commander may control and coordinate the effort. The scouts acquire the enemy through the use of surveillance techniques. The tanks occupy a BP along likely reconnaissance avenues, but they are prepared to move to prereconnoitered alternate positions based on reports coming from the scout platoon.

This organization will be most effective when the two platoons establish a habitual relationship. It is very well suited to cavalry troop and squadron counterreconnaissance operations because it mirrors the regimental cavalry troop organization. It can also be effective for execution by a battalion scout platoon and a designated tank platoon. Refer to Figure 4-10.

Figure 4-10. Scout and tank team counterreconnaissance array.

Scout and company team. In this technique, a combined arms task force uses a company team with an attached or OPCON scout platoon to execute counterreconnaissance and security operations. The company team commander controls the security effort. The scout platoon is the primary acquiring element, but it can be supplemented with infantry assets from the company team and CS assets from the battalion. The commander uses all other assets as the killing element.

This is the most robust counterreconnaissance technique and has the combat power to be very effective. It also has organic CSS assets, making service support operations quicker and more responsive. Major disadvantages of this technique are the combat power it diverts from the main battle area (MBA) and the execution problems that may result if the scouts and the killing elements have not trained together. See Figure 4-11.

Figure 4-11. Scout and company team counterreconnaissance array.

When using this technique, the company team may eventually conduct a rearward passage of lines and become the task force reserve once the counterreconnaissance effort is complete. The scout platoon, however, will remain on the screen line and revert to task force control.


The cavalry scout platoon normally screens as part of a troop operation. This example focuses on 1st Platoon, Troop B, operating as part of a regimental cavalry squadron (see Figure 4-12). The troop commander has been assigned the mission to screen in his sector along PL BOB and between PL BOB and PL SAM. The troop will hand over enemy contact as the enemy crosses PL SAM. The troop commander decides to screen with his two scout platoons on line and his tank platoons in depth behind the scout platoons.

Figure 4-12. Troop screen concept.

The primary focus of the 1st Platoon is on acquiring enemy main body elements moving along avenue of approach 2 or 2A (AA2 and AA2A in the figure). The platoon will also locate as much enemy reconnaissance as possible. Because of the width of the sector, the scout platoons have permission to engage enemy reconnaissance patrols smaller than platoon size, but only under favorable conditions. The tank platoon's primary task is to destroy enemy reconnaissance elements of platoon size or larger. In the 1st Platoon's area of operations, the 2d Platoon (tank) has been positioned in BP A6 and is prepared to occupy any other BP on order.

With his troop commander's guidance, the 1st Platoon leader evaluates the resources available to accomplish his tasks. Because there is no assigned time limit to the mission, he plans for long-duration OPs. This consideration leads him to select a three-section organization. He places one section to observe AA2A from OP A and applies redundancy along the most dangerous avenue, AA2, by positioning sections at OPs C and E (see Figure 4-13). Positioning of these OPs is critical. A map reconnaissance indicates that RAAs are probably located along the platoon's boundaries and through the wooded area in the center of the platoon screen (in the vicinity of checkpoints 7, 2, and 3).

Figure 4-13. Scout dispositions.

Careful positioning of the OPs will allow continuous coverage of AA2 and AA2A and some coverage of the RAAs. The platoon leader plans to conduct patrols for further surveillance of the RAAs. In addition to his primary positions, the platoon leader plans alternate and subsequent OPs throughout the depth of his sector. He selects these positions based on his requirements to reposition if an OP is compromised and to maintain contact with the main body throughout the depth of his sector (see Figure 4-13).

If time permits, the platoon leader will report all his planned positions to the troop TOC. As a minimum, he will send the exact locations of the initial positions.

As the scout sections arrive at their assigned positions (OPs A, C, and E), they adjust them to best meet the intent of the platoon leader. Upon arriving, the sections report "SET"; after the OP is completely installed, they report "ESTABLISHED." Once established, the scout sections begin executing patrols in accordance with the platoon patrol plan.

After a period of time, OP A reports contact with an enemy reconnaissance patrol consisting of two BRDMs (see Figure 4-14). Based on the platoon leader's guidance, the CFVs supporting the OP engage and destroy the enemy vehicles. The scouts send the appropriate reports and, with the platoon leader's permission, displace to alternate OP B. Later, scouts at OP C also make contact with an enemy reconnaissance patrol, take the same actions that occurred at OP A, and reposition to their alternate site, OP D.

Figure 4-14. Scouts engaging reconnaissance patrols.

The scout sections that repositioned report set and established as they occupy their alternate OPs (B and D). After a period of time, the section at OP D reports contact with three BMPs and a BRDM, moving south just west of AA2 (see Figure 4-15). It also reports artillery striking in the vicinity of OP C, the position it had vacated. Based on the platoon leader's guidance, the scouts take no action, remain hidden, and continue to report. The platoon leader forwards the report to the troop commander and receives instructions to coordinate target handover with the 2d Platoon in BP A6.

Figure 4-15. Scouts acquiring combat reconnaissance patrols (CRP); tanks killing CRPs.

A short time later, the scouts in OP B report artillery impact in the vicinity of OP A and then contact with two BMPs and a tank, moving south just east of AA2A. The tank platoon engages the first enemy contact from BP A6 and destroys it.

Having monitored the developing enemy situation, the troop commander may order the tank platoon to quickly reposition to BP A5. The tank platoon coordinates with the scout platoon leader, moves to the new BP if necessary, and engages and destroys the second enemy platoon.

Having engaged a significant number of enemy elements from BP A6 and/or BP A5, the tank platoon is ordered by the troop commander to reposition to BP A8. As that occurs, the scout section at OP E identifies the first element of the enemy main body, a company-size element. The platoon leader decides to take a risk along AA2A by ordering the displacement of OP B to OP H. This gives him additional depth along AA2 and will make it easier for the platoon to maintain contact with the enemy main body (see Figure 4-16).

Figure 4-16. Scouts acquiring enemy main body.

The scouts at OP E maintain contact with the enemy main body until it can be observed by the scouts at OP D (see Figure 4-17). Once that occurs, the two OPs conduct target handoff, and the scouts at OP E begin to displace in depth to OP J. The scouts at OP D begin to harass the enemy main body by calling for indirect fire. This fire not only breaks up the momentum of the main body, but also helps cover the displacement of OP E. OP D also reports enemy artillery impact in the vicinity of BP A6. The section formerly at OP B now reports set at OP H. Eavesdropping on the troop net, the scout platoon learns that 2d Platoon is set at BP A8.

Figure 4-17. Scouts harassing enemy main body.

As the enemy main body moves down AA2, target handover occurs between OP D and OP H (see Figure 4-18). OP H maintains contact with the enemy and continues to harass him with indirect fire. As the enemy main body continues to move, it is engaged with direct fire by the tank platoon in BP A8. These combined fires disrupt and significantly slow the enemy main body. Meanwhile, the scouts at OP D displace laterally toward the Troop A area to conduct rearward passage. Scouts also report set at OP J and begin coordinating battle handover to the friendly unit south of PL SAM.

Figure 4-18. Tanks and scouts engaging enemy main body.

After the initial engagement of the enemy main body, the tank platoon displaces laterally toward Troop A to conduct a rearward passage of lines (see Figure 4-19). OP H conducts target handover with OP J and also moves toward Troop A. OP J maintains contact with the moving enemy main body until battle handover with the friendly unit to the south is complete. The scouts at OP J then moves east to pass to the rear.

Figure 4-19. Scouts executing battle handover to incoming unit.


Area security operations are designed to protect specific critical and vulnerable assets or terrain from enemy observation and direct fire. They can involve escorting friendly convoys; protecting critical points such as bridges, command and control installations, or other key and vulnerable sites; or participating in protection of large areas such as airfields. They are normally performed when conventional security or combat operations are not appropriate to the situation. The scout platoon may perform area security operations as part of a larger force or as an independent platoon mission.


Convoy or route security missions are performed by company teams, cavalry troops, and larger organizations. Convoy security provides protection for a specific convoy. Route security aims at securing a specific route for a designated period of time, during which multiple convoys may be using the route. These missions include numerous tasks for elements such as escort, reconnaissance, and combat reaction forces (see Figure 4-20). These tasks become missions for the subordinate units. The scout platoon is particularly well suited for route reconnaissance and outposting missions and may perform convoy escort as well. The size of the unit performing the convoy or route security operation is dependent on a number of factors, including the size of the convoy, the terrain, and the length of the route.

Figure 4-20. Cavalry troop conducting convoy security mission.

Route reconnaissance.

When route reconnaissance is conducted as part of a route security operation, it is done in the same manner as discussed in Chapter 3 of this manual. In this mission, scouts focus on the trafficability of the route and on enemy forces that might influence the route. The scout platoon must plan to call for engineer assets to assist in breaching point-type obstacles. Command-detonated devices are a major threat during route reconnaissance.


Outposting is a technique used during route security to screen the route after it has been reconnoitered. Its use is similar to the technique for reconnaissance operations covering lateral and boundary routes discussed in Chapter 8 of this manual. Outposting as part of route security, however, is generally done by all elements of the platoon for the specific purpose of helping to secure a route or convoy. It involves employing OPs on critical portions of the route or on key avenues of approach to the route to provide early warning of enemy elements attempting to interdict the route or convoy.

Outposting differs from a conventional screen in that the outposts are oriented on the route rather than on the friendly main body. Normally, the outposting element follows the element that is executing the route reconnaissance (see Figure 4-21). Outposts have a limited ability to destroy small enemy forces attempting to influence the route. Their primary purpose is to acquire the enemy and then to direct the employment of reaction forces or indirect fire to destroy him.

Figure 4-21. Cavalry scout platoon outposting a route.

Convoy escort

The scout platoon may perform a convoy escort mission either independently or as part of a larger unit's convoy security mission. The convoy escort mission requires that the platoon provide a convoy with close-in protection from direct fire. The platoon can protect 5 to 10 convoy vehicles per escort vehicle. These vehicles can be military CSS or command and control vehicles or civilian trucks or buses. CFV-equipped platoons are better suited to this mission than are HMMWV platoons because of their firepower and the armor protection they provide against direct fire, indirect fire, and mines. Leaders must carefully evaluate the threat before assigning a convoy escort mission to HMMWV-equipped scout platoons. The following considerations apply during convoy escort operations.

Command and control. Command and control is especially critical during convoy escort because of the task organization inherent to the mission. When the scout platoon is executing the escort mission, it operates under the control of the convoy commander. The relationship between the scout platoon and the convoy commander must provide for unity of command and effort if combat operations are required during the course of the mission.

The platoon leader must ensure that a complete OPORD is issued to all vehicle commanders in the convoy prior to execution of the mission. This is vital because the convoy may itself be task organized from a variety of units and because many of the vehicles may not have tactical radios. The order should follow the standard five-paragraph OPORD format, with special emphasis on the following subjects:

  • Order of march.
  • Actions on contact.
  • Chain of command.
  • Communications and signals.
  • Actions on vehicle breakdown.
  • Actions at a halt.
  • Route of march (this should include a sketch for each vehicle commander).

Tactical disposition. Security during convoy escort missions must be in all directions and throughout the length of the convoy. This requires that the elements of the scout platoon and any combat or CS attachments be dispersed throughout the convoy formation. Engineer assets should be located toward the front to respond to obstacles; the fire support team (FIST) or COLT should be located near the platoon leader.

The platoon will normally use the column formation due to its inherent speed and ease of movement (see Figures 4-22 and 4-23). If a HMMWV unit is used as the escort, a tracked armored vehicle should be attached to lead the convoy whenever possible because of its superior protection against mines.

Figure 4-22. CFV scout platoon escorting a convoy.

Figure 4-23. HMMWV scout platoon escorting a convoy.

Actions at an ambush. Ambush is one of the most effective ways to interdict a convoy and is therefore a threat the convoy escort must be prepared to counter. Reaction to an ambush must be quick, overwhelming, and decisive. It must be executed as a drill by all escort and convoy elements, with care taken to avoid fratricide. The following actions should be included in the convoy escort drill:

  • Upon detection of an enemy force, escort vehicles action toward the enemy. They seek covered positions between the convoy and the enemy and suppress the enemy with the highest possible volume of fire. They send appropriate contact reports to higher headquarters (see Figure 4-24A).

Figure 4-24A. Convoy escort actioning toward ambush.

NOTE: In some situations, elements of the escort force will be required to remain with the convoy main body. This is especially true when the convoy comprises mainly nonmilitary elements, such as nongovernmental organizations (NGO) or local civilian agencies. In addition to being unarmed in most cases, these elements will usually lack communications capabilities, making it difficult for escort elements to link back up with the main body.
  • The convoy commander retains control of the convoy vehicles and maintains radio contact with the security force while moving the convoy on the route at the highest possible speed.
  • Convoy vehicles, if armed, may return fire only until the escort has imposed itself between the convoy and the enemy.
  • Any damaged or disabled vehicles are abandoned and pushed off the route (see Figure 4-24B).
  • The escort leader (scout platoon leader) submits spot reports. If necessary, he requests reinforcement and calls for and directs indirect fires and air support if they are available.
  • Once the convoy is clear of the kill zone, the escort chooses one of the following COAs based on the composition of the escort and the strength of the enemy force:
    -- Continue to suppress the enemy while combat reaction forces move to support (see Figure 4-25A).
    -- Assault the enemy (see Figure 4-25B).
    -- Break contact and move out of the kill zone (as illustrated in Figure 4-25C).

Figure 4-24B. Convoy continuing to move out of kill zone.

Figure 4-25A. Escort suppressing ambush for reaction force

Figure 4-25B. Escort assaulting ambush position.

Figure 4-25C. Escort breaking contact.

Generally, CFV-equipped scout platoons will continue to suppress the enemy or execute an assault because of their vehicles' capabilities. HMMWV units are more likely to move out of the kill zone as soon as the convoy is clear. Contact should be broken only with the approval of the scout platoon's higher commander.

Actions during a short halt. The convoy may be required to make a short halt for a number of reasons. During the short halt, the escorting unit is at REDCON-1 regardless of what actions convoy vehicles are taking. If the halt is for any reason other than an obstacle, these actions should be taken:

  • The convoy commander signals the short halt and transmits the order via tactical radio.
  • The convoy assumes a herringbone formation. Escort vehicles take up protective positions forward, to the rear, and to the flanks (up to 100 meters beyond the convoy vehicles, as applicable) and orient their weapon systems outward. They remain at REDCON-1, although they establish dismounted local security (see Figure 4-26A). The vehicles being escorted pull into the protected area in the center of the road, between the escort vehicles. (NOTE: Escort vehicles should not leave the roadway if there is a threat of enemy mines.)
  • When the order is given to move out, convoy vehicles first reestablish the column formation, leaving space for the escort vehicles (see Figure 4-26B). Once the convoy is in column, the escort vehicles join the column, leaving local security dismounted (see Figure 4-26C).
  • Once all elements are in column, local security personnel mount, and the convoy continues to move.

Figure 4-26A. Convoy assuming herringbone formation.

Figure 4-26B. Convoy moving back into column formation.

Figure 4-26C. Escort vehicles rejoining column.

Actions at an obstacle. Obstacles are a major threat to convoys. Obstacles can be used to harass the convoy by delaying it; if the terrain is favorable, they may be able to stop the convoy altogether. In addition, an obstacle or series of obstacles can be used to channel or stop the convoy to set up an ambush.

The purpose of the route reconnaissance ahead of the convoy is to identify obstacles and either breach them or find bypasses. In some cases, it is not possible to mount a route reconnaissance ahead of the convoy; in other cases, the reconnaissance element may fail to detect the enemy or its obstacles. In either situation, the convoy must take actions to reduce or bypass the obstacle.

When a convoy is dealing with an obstacle, it faces a two-sided problem: it is more vulnerable because it is stopped, and its escort force is occupied with tasks required to overcome or bypass the obstacle. For these reasons, security becomes critical, and actions at the obstacle must be accomplished very quickly.

The following actions should be taken when the convoy escort encounters a point-type obstacle:

  • When the lead security element identifies the obstacle, the convoy commander directs a short halt. He establishes dismounted local security and overwatch of the obstacle. Convoy vehicles remain on the road, with the escort elements moving to the flanks to provide security. (NOTE: All convoy vehicles must be aware that the enemy may have buried mines in the area, especially on the flanks of the road.)
  • The convoy commander relays a spot report to higher headquarters and requests support by combat reaction forces, engineer assets (if they are not already part of the convoy), and aerial reconnaissance elements. In addition, he alerts artillery units to be prepared to provide fire support. Employment of these assets is designed to reduce the time the convoy is halted and thus to reduce its vulnerability. The convoy commander must always assume that the obstacle is overwatched and covered by the enemy.
  • The escort forces form a reconnaissance team and begin reconnaissance for a bypass while maintaining 360-degree security of the convoy (see Figure 4-27).
  • Simultaneously, an additional reconnaissance team made up of escort elements and/or engineers moves forward to conduct an obstacle reconnaissance. Because of limited time and assets, the convoy does not need to establish far-side security prior to reconnaissance of the obstacle (see Figure 4-27).
  • Once all reconnaissance is completed, the convoy commander determines which of the following COAs he will take:
    -- Bypass the obstacle.
    -- reach the obstacle with the assets on hand.
    -- Breach the obstacle with reinforcing assets.
  • The convoy commander executes the best COA and continues the mission.

Figure 4-27. Escort teams conducting obstacle reconnaissance and reconnoitering for a bypass.


Scout platoons are normally assigned area security missions to protect high-value targets. The requirement for protection is based on METT-TC. The scout platoon leader must integrate his elements into the overall security plan for the area he is protecting. Area security operations make use of a variety of techniques and may include reconnaissance, security, defensive, and offensive tasks.

When deploying for area security, the platoon generally moves into in a coil formation around the point, area, or asset to be secured. Vehicle positions are adjusted to orient on likely enemy avenues of approach. If engineer support is available, the vehicle positions are dug in; if not, vehicles occupy hasty fighting positions.

To further improve the position, the platoon employs hasty protective minefields and wire and other obstacles as appropriate and available. Wire obstacles should be emplaced outside grenade range of friendly positions. Once vehicle positions and obstacles are established, the platoon develops a fire plan, including integrated indirect fires, and submits it to its higher headquarters.

In addition to setting up the platoon position around the asset to be secured, the platoon also employs patrols and OPs to enhance security (see Figure 4-28). It employs reconnaissance patrols and combat patrols as needed to become familiar with the area of operations, to gain information on enemy forces, and to destroy small enemy dismounted reconnaissance elements. OPs are deployed to observe likely avenues of approach, to provide early warning of enemy activity, and to assist in controlling indirect fires.

Figure 4-28. Platoon area security dispositions.



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