Combat Support

The scout platoon must take full advantage of available CS assets to accomplish its mission and to reduce its vulnerability on the battlefield. It may receive CS from mortars, field artillery (FA), ADA, combat engineers, GSR, and aviation assets. None of these assets are organic to the scout platoon, but they may be available through its parent battalion or cavalry troop. Scouts must understand the capabilities and limitations of the CS assets.

Section 1 Indirect Fire Support
Section 2 Army Aviation
Section 3 Combat Engineers
Section 4 Air Defense
Section 5 Air Support
Section 6 Ground Surveillance Radar


Mortars and FA are the primary means of indirect fire support available to scout platoons. In addition to understanding the capabilities and limitations of these assets, scouts must know what fire request channels to use to request fires. The platoon leader must be prepared to work with the FIST at company team/troop level and the FSO at battalion/squadron level to plan and coordinate indirect fires. FM 6-30 explains how to call for and adjust fires.


A mortar platoon of six tubes is organic to armor and mechanized infantry battalions. A mortar section is organic to the armored cavalry troop. Currently, mortar platoons are equipped with either 4.2-inch or 120-mm mortars. The 4.2-inch mortar has a maximum effective range of 6,840 meters. The 120-mm mortar has a maximum effective range of 7,200 meters.

Mortars can provide indirect fire support that is immediately responsive to the scouts' needs. They can provide a heavy volume of accurate, sustained fires. They are ideal weapons for attacking targets on reverse slopes, in narrow ravines or trenches, and in forests, towns, and other areas that are difficult to strike with low-angle fires.

Types of mortar support

Mortars can be highly effective in providing the following types of support:

  • Suppression. High-explosive (HE) rounds can be used to force the enemy to button up or move to less advantageous positions. Unless a direct hit is achieved, however, HE mortar rounds will not destroy armored vehicles.
  • Smoke. White phosphorus (WP) rounds are used for obscuration and screening. Mortar smoke builds up more rapidly than artillery smoke. Obscuration is achieved by placing smoke on or just in front of enemy positions to obscure their vision. Screening is achieved by placing smoke between the enemy and the scout platoon position to conceal movement. Mortar smoke can also be used to mark enemy positions to enhance friendly maneuver and orient direct fires. Scouts must be careful, however, not to allow smoke to work against them by marking their own positions for enemy gunners.
  • Illumination. Illumination rounds are used to light an area or enemy position during periods of limited visibility. Scouts can increase the effectiveness of their image intensification devices by using illumination. This helps them in gathering information, adjusting artillery, or engaging enemy targets. Ground-burst illumination can also be used to mark enemy positions and to provide a thermal target reference point (TRP) for control of fires. As with smoke, illumination is a double-edged sword; care must be taken not to illuminate friendly positions. Also, because US night vision devices are superior to those of most potential adversaries, illuminating the battlefield may be unnecessary or even counterproductive.


Mortar capabilities include the following:

  • A close working relationship with scouts.
  • Fast response time.
  • Availability for low-density targets.


Mortars have the following limitations:

  • They have only short-range capability.
  • Only limited types of ammunition are available.
  • Mortar elements can carry only limited amounts of ammunition.
  • The fire direction center (FDC) and mortar tubes are not linked to the initial fire support automated system (IFSAS).


Scouts must fully understand how to use artillery support to their best advantage. It is often their primary means of impeding and disrupting enemy formations and suppressing enemy positions. FA can provide immediate, responsive, accurate fires with a wide variety of munitions.

FA support is normally provided by an artillery battalion in direct support (DS) of a committed maneuver brigade or an armored cavalry regiment (ACR). The armored cavalry squadron also has an organic howitzer battery to provide dedicated indirect fire support. Scouts may receive FA priority of fire.


In support of the scout platoon, FA elements have the capability to perform the following functions:

  • Provide fire support in all weather conditions and types of terrain.
  • Shift and mass fires rapidly.
  • Support the battle in depth with long-range fires.
  • Provide a variety of conventional shell and fuze combinations.
  • Provide continuous fire support by careful positioning and timely displacement.
  • Be as mobile as the supported unit.


FA support has the following limitations:

  • Limited capability against moving targets.
  • Limited capability to destroy point targets without considerable ammunition expenditure.
  • Vulnerability to detection by enemy target acquisition systems because of its firing signature.

Available munitions

FA employs a wide variety of munitions that can be tailored for the engagement of different types of targets. These ammunition types include the following:

  • HE, for use against personnel, field fortifications, and vehicles.
  • Smoke, for obscuration and screening.
  • Illumination.
  • WP, for obscuration, burning, and marking.
  • Cannon-launched guided projectiles (Copperhead), for use against point targets.
  • Improved conventional munitions (ICM), for AP use, and DPICM, for use against personnel and light armored vehicles in the open. An important consideration is the danger to friendly troops in areas where AP munitions are fired. The potential dud rate of ICM makes maneuver in the area of an ICM field hazardous.
  • Scatterable mines. These include area denial munitions for use against personnel and remote antiarmor mines for use against armored vehicles. When an FA battery is firing a scatterable mines mission, it is not available for other fire missions. Scatterable mines require slightly more lead time than do other FA-delivered munitions.


Fire support team

The FIST is attached to company teams or troops for combat operations; it may be pushed forward with the scout platoon in support of security operations when on-target designation is required for special munitions engagements. The FIST's command and control link with the artillery makes it a valuable resource; it should not be exposed to direct fire except when absolutely necessary. The FIST is organized, equipped, and trained to provide the following:

  • A fire support advisor and coordinator.
  • A communications link to all available fire support assets.

The armor or mechanized infantry company team FIST normally monitors the following radio nets:

  • Attached unit command net (battalion, company team, or scout platoon).
  • Battalion mortar fire direction net.
  • DS battalion fire direction net (digital).
  • Battalion fire support net (voice).

The armored cavalry troop FIST normally monitors the following radio nets:

  • Troop command net.
  • Troop fire support net.
  • Supporting artillery fire direction net (digital and voice).
  • Squadron fire support net.

The FIST serves as the NCS on the troop fire support net. The FSE serves as the NCS on the maneuver battalion fire support net. The FIST relays the call for fire to supporting artillery on a digital net (IFSAS) or sends the fire mission to the mortar platoon or section. The command net allows the FIST to monitor unit operations and links the FIST to the commander and platoon leaders for planning and coordination.

Combat observation lasing team

Requests for indirect fire can also be sent through the COLT, which has a secondary mission of processing these requests for the scouts. The COLT monitors the scout platoon net and handles the fire request and subsequent adjustments in the same manner as a normal FIST. It can enter the information gained through its primary mission, lasing targets for Copperhead rounds and close air support (CAS), directly into IFSAS channels.

Three COLTs are organic to each DS FA battalion and to the howitzer battery of the armored cavalry squadron. The cavalry squadron has one organic COLT. From company/troop to brigade level, a COLT is placed under the control of a fire support coordinator to enhance the lasing capability of the FIST and to function as a dedicated observation platform (see Figure 6-1). When pushed forward with the scouts, the COLT should collocate with one of the scout platoon OPs for local security and protection.

Figure 6-1. COLT organization and equipment.


Battalion scout platoon

There are several ways the battalion task force scouts can request indirect fire. The task force SOP should specify which method they will use. The scout platoon leader must also coordinate with the task force FSO and/or FSE on which of these methods, described in the following paragraphs, the scouts will employ.

Mortar requests. The platoon can send requests for mortar fire directly to the mortars on the battalion heavy mortar net; the FSE monitors these requests. (See Figure 6-2.)

Figure 6-2. Scouts requesting fire from task force mortars.

Artillery requests. The platoon can send requests for artillery fire directly to the FA battalion on a fire direction net; the FSE monitors the requests. (See Figure 6-3.)

Figure 6-3. Scouts requesting fire from FA battalion.

Cavalry scout platoon

The scouts in an armored cavalry troop normally request all indirect fire support through their troop FIST on the troop fire support net. The FIST selects the best available fire support to engage the target. If the FIST passes the fire mission to the troop mortars, the scouts send all adjustments of the fire mission directly to the mortars (see Figure 6-4). If the FIST passes the fire mission to a supporting artillery unit, the scouts send all adjustments of the fire mission to the FIST, which relays the message to the artillery unit on a digital fire direction net (see Figure 6-5).

Figure 6-4. Cavalry scouts requesting fire from mortars.

Figure 6-5. Cavalry scouts requesting fire from FA.


The scout platoon leader must be prepared to use both hasty fire planning and deliberate fire planning in support of the platoon's missions. He should pay particular attention to the identification of priority targets and to the procedures used to shift priority targets whenever necessary. He forwards all planned targets in support of the scout mission to the FIST, which in turn forwards them to the FSO. (NOTE: The FSO provides the platoon information to the battalion commander and to brigade headquarters for verification and incorporation into the brigade fire support plan.) The nature of scout platoon operations dictates that primary consideration for fires should be focused on avenues of approach, OPs, and other key or decisive terrain.

The scout platoon leader coordinates priority of fires through normal fire support channels. He should concentrate on placing effective fires in several key locations: short of the LD/LC, from the LD/LC to the objective, on the objective, and beyond the objective (in case of enemy counterattack). He must also coordinate with adjacent units to ensure overlapping fires prior to execution of operations.

In the offense, the platoon leader uses these doctrinal targeting tasks when the scout platoon has target responsibilities. The two key areas of concern for the platoon will be short of the LD/LC and from the LD/LC to the objective. The fire support plan must also support the scout platoon during movement along assigned route and while it is occupying OPs; fires may be used against enemy reconnaissance elements or forward security elements. In the defense, the platoon leader must coordinate with the battalion/squadron commander for planned targets and TRPs short of and beyond the FEBA.

During security operations, it is particularly important for the scout platoon leader to plan fires in support of point obstacles. The locations of obstacles should be refined and passed to the battalion and/or brigade fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) at the earliest possible time The scout platoon leader should verify through the FSE or the FIST that the dedicated firing unit meets the requirements for accurate predicted fire. If the proper requirements do not exist, fires should be registered to ensure maximum effect when they are executed. As much as possible, the platoon leader should ensure the platoon has mortar priority of fire.



Scout platoons in regimental squadrons and divisional cavalry or reconnaissance squadrons must establish a close working relationship with air cavalry troops. Through its mobility and speed, air cavalry gives the ground commander or scout platoon leader added flexibility, increasing the speed with which reconnaissance is conducted. Aeroscouts also can screen between and forward of OPs established by the platoon. (See Figure 6-6.)

Figure 6-6. Air cavalry troop organization.

The areoscout platoon consists of four aircraft, led by a lieutenant. It includes a flight examiner, instructor pilot, and individual aircraft pilots. Its primary mission is to conduct armed reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

The primary aircraft in air cavalry units is the OH-58D(I) Kiowa Warrior. This helicopter provides the maneuver commander with a versatile platform; it can be armed with various weapon systems and is suitable for employment in numerous types of situations and operations.

The aircraft features a stabilized mast mounted sight (MMS) with a low-light TV camera, thermal imaging system, and laser range finder/designator. The air crew of the Kiowa Warrior can detect a heat source in day or night conditions at a range up to 15 kilometers and is capable of providing laser designation of targets for laser-guided munitions. Figure 6-7 illustrates the aircraft's armaments.

Figure 6-7. OH-58D(I) Kiowa Warrior.

NOTE: The Kiowa Warrior's detection and identification capabilities and its maximum operational and weapons ranges can be significantly affected by such factors as terrain, weather, and crew experience.


The attack helicopter battalion conducts attack, reconnaissance, and security operations that complement the operations of other maneuver forces. (See Figure 6-8.) When effectively integrated in the tactical maneuver plan with other maneuver units, the battalion is a valuable combat asset for the supported unit commander. Its capabilities enable him to mass combat power rapidly at the decisive time and place to affect the battle's outcome, striking the enemy where and when he is most vulnerable.

Figure 6-8. Attack helicopter battalion organization.

An attack helicopter battalion seldom fights alone; it is normally employed with other maneuver, CS, CSS, and joint forces in a combined arms team. This team surprises and overmatches the enemy at the point of attack. The attack helicopter unit may conduct its attack out of physical contact with other friendly forces but synchronized with their scheme of maneuver; it may also be employed in direct contact with friendly forces.


The Army aviation element with which the scout platoon is most likely to operate in a tactical setting is the air cavalry platoon or air cavalry troop. When operating with ground scouts, air cavalry is normally under the operational control of the battalion or squadron. To be successful, however, the air cavalry platoon must communicate and coordinate directly with the most forward ground scouts.

Aeroscouts are a significant asset in support of the ground commander's requirements for his scout effort. Complementing ground scouts with the air cavalry maximizes the capabilities of both elements while minimizing their limitations. When it works with the scout platoon, the air cavalry normally operates 3 to 5 kilometers forward of the ground elements (see Figure 6-9).

Figure 6-9. Air cavalry operating forward of the scout platoon.

In a complementary relationship, air cavalry and ground scouts are assigned different objectives or tasks; they work independently as required to support their common commander. This permits a greater number of tasks or separate missions to be accomplished simultaneously. Often, air cavalry complements ground scouts by performing missions to the flank of or adjacent to the scout platoon (see Figure 6-10).

Figure 6-10. Air cavalry operating on the scouts' flank.


Command and control is essential to effective air-ground coordination. The command relationship is particularly critical when air and ground elements are complementing each others' operations. Two different command relationships can be used to coordinate the efforts of air cavalry and the scout platoon: the scout platoon under OPCON of the air troop or both the scout platoon and the air element working independently for a common higher commander.

Although air elements are not placed OPCON to the scout platoons, the ground scouts and air assets must closely coordinate their actions. The situation will determine whether the air mission commander is the air cavalry troop commander or an air cavalry platoon leader.

Scout platoon under operational control of the air commander

The OPCON relationship is used when the scout platoon is operating separately from its parent unit with an air cavalry troop. The air cavalry troop has the preponderance of combat power, leadership, and command and control resources in the area of operations. In addition, it has superior long-range communications capability.

Air and ground scouts under control of a common commander

This relationship is the most common and is usually the most effective. The air and ground scouts operate independently, allowing each to freely and quickly employ its elements to take maximum advantage of their unique capabilities. Further, the common commander, normally at battalion or squadron level, can ensure that guidance is provided to both air and ground scouts so their efforts are coordinated.

In this relationship, informal coordination also occurs directly between the ground scout and the air cavalry platoon. This is done over the ground scout platoon net.


When air cavalry complements the scout platoon during reconnaissance operations, the air assets, as noted, normally operate 3 to 5 kilometers forward of the platoon. They focus on areas where they can impede enemy ground movement. In addition, the air cavalry can conduct detailed reconnaissance of areas that are particularly dangerous to ground reconnaissance elements, such as open areas and defiles. Upon contact, air cavalry provides early warning for the trailing scout platoon and then maintains contact until the scout platoon moves up for handover.


Air cavalry can complement the scout platoon during security operations by assisting in identifying enemy reconnaissance and main body elements and providing early warning forward of the platoon. Because of the range of its sensors, air cavalry does not require positions forward of the scout platoon to acquire enemy elements. The preferred practice, however, is still to position the aerial OPs forward of the ground OPs to provide added depth to the screen, especially during daylight operations. During limited visibility, aerial OPs may be deployed slightly to the rear of ground elements. Ultimately, positioning of the air cavalry will always depend on the specific METT-TC situation. Figure 6-11 illustrates positioning of the air cavalry.

Figure 6-11. Figure 6-11. Air cavalry complementing a ground screen.

In addition to acquiring enemy elements, air cavalry can play a critical role in providing security through the depth of the screen by observing dead space between OPs. The aerial assets can also assist ground elements in the counterreconnaissance fight.


Air cavalry elements can complement the scout platoon during area security missions by screening or conducting reconnaissance. An air screen can provide early warning for a scout platoon executing a convoy escort mission or securing a critical point (see Figure 6-12). Air reconnaissance assets can identify enemy ambush positions forward of the convoy or find bypasses the convoy can use to move around an obstacle (as illustrated in Figure 6-13).

Figure 6-12. Air cavalry screening for a scout platoon.

Figure 6-13. Air cavalry reconnoitering for a bypass.


When an air cavalry platoon makes contact, particularly during reconnaissance operations, it attempts to hand off the contact to ground scouts as quickly as possible. A speedy handover allows the air scouts to avoid enemy air defense weapons and also helps to maintain the tempo of the operation.

During the handover, the air cavalry platoon is in charge and provides direction to the ground scout section or squad charged with establishing contact with the enemy. The air cavalry also is responsible for ensuring the protection of both ground and air scouts; it must maintain contact with the enemy until the ground unit is in position and has also established contact.

The first action in the handoff process is a spot report (SPOTREP) and situation report (SITREP) from the air cavalry platoon team leader to the ground scout section or squad leader. The two leaders also determine the time and place for linkup between their elements (see Figure 6-14A).

Figure 6-14A. Air-ground battle handover.

Next, the air cavalry platoon leaves an element in contact with the enemy while it reconnoiters the area for secure positions for the ground scouts. The air cavalry platoon identifies hide positions, overwatch positions, OP positions, and mounted and dismounted routes into the area (refer to Figure 6-14B).

Figure 6-14B. Air-ground battle handover (continued).

Once this is complete, the air cavalry platoon moves to link up with the ground scouts. Ideally, the air mission commander should land and brief the scout section or squad leader face-to-face. If this is not possible, the briefing is done over the radio. Linkup is complete when both elements have visually identified each other (see Figure 6-14C).

Figure 6-14C. Air-ground battle handover (continued).

After linkup, the ground section or squad moves to its initial hide positions along the route selected by the air cavalry platoon. Scouts then move dismounted to make contact with the enemy. Once contact is established, the ground scout leader sends a SPOTREP to the air mission commander. When the air commander confirms that the ground scouts can observe all enemy elements and have a clear picture of the situation, he announces that handover is complete; the ground section or squad leader acknowledges the transmission.

The air scouts then assist the ground unit in executing its chosen COA (such as bypass, fix, destroy, or develop the situation). After handover is completed, the air scouts may, if directed, break contact and continue their follow-on missions. As noted previously, the battle handover sequence is executed on the ground unit's internal frequency. (See Figure 6-14D).

Figure 6-14D. Air-ground battle handover (continued).


Brigade/regiment and battalion/squadron commanders will decide how best to use their engineer assets. They have several options for engineer employment: as a distinct unit, attached to higher unit's subordinate elements, or in DS of the subordinate elements.

In offensive operations, engineers are task organized to maneuver units using the breaching operation planning process, based on both templated and confirmed enemy obstacles. One technique is to attach engineers to the lead company team or to a troop in a counterobstacle team configuration. In the defense, commanders generally keep engineer units intact to construct major obstacles, designating a priority of work to be accomplished.

Engineers are trained to fight as infantry as a secondary mission; however, they are employed as infantry only if absolutely necessary. Only a commander who maintains a command relationship with the engineer element can make this decision. The basic engineer unit with which the scout platoon is likely to operate is a sapper squad from a combat engineer platoon.


In reconnaissance operations, an engineer reconnaissance team may be placed in DS to a scout platoon. The engineers should remain attached to the scout platoon for the duration of the reconnaissance. The engineer team's primary objective is to collect OBSTINTEL and report the information back to the task force engineer to facilitate breach planning and preparation. The engineer team may perform the following functions:

  • Conduct tactical or technical reconnaissance.
  • Conduct route and bridge classification.
  • Assist in locating bypasses around obstacles.
  • Identify the exact composition and dimensions of an obstacle.
  • Conduct limited reduction of log cribs, abatises, and minefields. The engineer reconnaissance team's actual reduction capabilities are limited to manual and explosive methods. The scouts must provide security for the engineer team while it is reducing obstacles.

Engineers conduct tactical reconnaissance in the offense as part of the combined arms team reconnaissance effort; normally, they are attached to scout elements to facilitate command and control and logistical support. The engineers' key tactical reconnaissance objective is to provide the commander with OBSINTEL within the area of operations. This information, combined with intelligence obtained by the scouts, allows the combined arms force to maneuver more effectively against the enemy. It tells the commander whether a bypass is possible or, if not, how to conduct breaching operations with the right equipment at the right location.

Engineers conduct technical reconnaissance to collect specialized information about a designated target, area, or route. This mission is usually conducted under a low level of threat in areas physically controlled by friendly forces to the rear of the FLOT. The technical reconnaissance mission is normally a specified task from higher headquarters or is derived from mission analysis.

Whenever possible, engineer elements should have a habitual relationship with the scouts to whom they are attached. They should be task organized with scouts as early as possible in an operation so they can be integrated into the scout platoon leader's troop-leading procedures, rehearsals, OPORD, and movement plans.


In security operations, the scout platoon does not usually have any engineer assets operating under its control. Engineer assets normally work under battalion, squadron, or troop control. The scout platoon leader must have access to the battalion, squadron, or troop obstacle plan, including the locations of lanes and gaps.

Scout platoons may be designated to observe NAIs to trigger scatterable mine missions, overwatch obstacles, and call for indirect fires. They also may be designated to guard, execute, and overwatch reserve demolition targets that engineers have prepared. The process by which the platoon assumes responsibility for the targets is called target turnover. Procedures and considerations for this mission are as follows:

  • Prior face-to-face coordination between the senior member of the emplacing unit (normally an engineer squad leader) and the demolition guard force commander (normally a scout squad leader) speeds the turnover process. Prior coordination is always conducted if the tactical situation permits.
  • The senior member of the emplacing unit must require positive identification from the demolition guard commander. This may be by means of sign/countersign procedures or by personal recognition.
  • Once identification is established, the emplacing unit gives the demolition guard commander a completed target folder for the target being turned over. The folder contains orders to the demolition guard commander (and to the firing party commander, if one is separately designated). The demolition guard commander reviews the orders to ensure he thoroughly understands them and then signs the orders.
  • The senior member of the emplacing unit then describes the obstacle in detail to the demolition guard commander.
  • Once the demolition guard commander fully understands his responsibilities and he (or the firing party commander, if applicable) is capable of executing the target, the emplacing unit may depart to conduct further operations.

Air defense assets are scarce; maneuver units cannot plan on always receiving dedicated air defense protection. Consequently, the scout platoon must be able to protect itself from enemy air attacks during all combat operations. Passive air defense measures employed by the platoon include actions to avoid detection and air attack and actions to limit the damage if attacked. If necessary, the platoon takes active air defense measures to fight back against the enemy aircraft.

The scout platoon must be aware when the enemy is employing airborne reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition (RISTA) systems that can detect and pinpoint the location of friendly ground forces. These systems emphasize rapid downlink of collected information to artillery and tactical ballistic missile (TBM) fire control centers and enemy maneuver forces.

Armed utility and attack helicopters are the principal enemy CAS weapon systems. These platforms pose a major threat to the scout platoon and other friendly forces. The enemy may also employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to accomplish RISTA, attack, and deception missions; UAVs' small size and radar cross section and their ability to fly low and slow make them very difficult to detect track and engage.


Passive air defense is the scouts' first line of defense against enemy air attack. It includes all measures, other than active defense, taken to minimize the effects of hostile air action. There are two types of passive air defense: attack avoidance and damage-limiting measures.

Attack avoidance

If the enemy pilot cannot find you, he cannot attack you. Scouts use concealment, camouflage, deception, and any other necessary action to prevent the enemy from seeing them.

Scout positions must provide effective concealment. One technique is to position vehicles inside woodlines and erase vehicle track marks leading to the woods. When concealment is not available, however, vehicles must be camouflaged to blend into the natural surroundings. All shiny objects that could reflect light and attract attention must be covered.

Damage-limiting measures

Dispersion is one of the most effective ways to reduce the effects of enemy air attack. It is essential when a unit is occupying static positions such as an assembly area or is preparing to cross a water obstacle or a breached obstacle. When the platoon is on the move and air guards identify an enemy air attack, vehicles disperse quickly, move to concealed positions if possible, and stop (a stationary vehicle is more difficult to see than a moving vehicle).

Another damage-limiting measure is the use of natural or man-made cover to reduce the effects of enemy munitions. Folds in the earth, depressions, buildings, and sandbagged positions can provide this protection.


Although passive measures are the first line of defense against air attack, the scout platoon must be prepared to engage enemy aircraft. The decision to fight back against an air threat is based on the situation and the capabilities of organic weapon systems. (NOTE: All platoon members must understand that they can defend against a direct attack but cannot engage aircraft that are not attacking them unless the applicable weapons control status allows it.)

Scouts have several weapon systems (chain guns, machine guns, and small arms) that can be used against aircraft when they must fight back. Engaging aircraft with volume fire is the key to effective use of small arms and machine gun fires against an air attack. These fires must be coordinated to be effective. Delivered on the platoon leader's command, they are directed at an aim point in front of the target (see Figure 6-15); gunners do not attempt to track the target. Guidelines for selecting aim points are listed in Figure 6-16. They are simple and logical; they must be learned and retained by everyone in the platoon.

Figure 6-15. Aim points.

Figure 6-16. Guidelines for selecting aim points.

The Bradley's 25-mm gun is effective against slow-moving fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and UAVs. Vehicle commanders should instruct their gunners to fire 20- to 25-round bursts at a high rate to sustain the proper volume of fire when engaging these platforms. Accurate target identification is essential in determining the type of ammunition to employ.


Although other short-range air defense (SHORAD) systems support both divisional and regimental units, scout platoons with dedicated ADA systems are most likely to be supported by man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Figure 6-17 shows the Stinger MANPADS, which is designed to counter high-performance, low-level, ground attack aircraft; helicopters; and observation and transport aircraft.

Figure 6-17. Stinger air defense system.

The Stinger missile system is employed by a two-man crew (crew chief and gunner). The MANPADS crew will normally have a wheeled vehicle (HMMWV), a Bradley Stinger fighting vehicle (BSFV), or an M6 Bradley Linebacker as its assigned transportation. Unit leaders must carefully consider the consequences before separating a Stinger team from its vehicle. Stinger teams operating away from their vehicles have no more than two missiles available for resupply. (NOTE: The M6 Linebacker has four ready-to-fire Stinger missiles; its crew does not have to dismount to fire.)

The scout platoon will receive early warning alerts from the SHORAD battery and its elements. The SHORAD C3I Sentinel radar can broadcast early warning of air tracks to SHORAD elements (battery, platoon, or section), to FA fire units, and to air defense LOs. The SHORAD battery will then provide voice early warning on the brigade command net; when METT-TC factors permit, the SHORAD platoon may provide voice early warning to maneuver battalions.

The C3I Sentinel provides 360-degree detection capability for various types of air tracks (rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, UAVs, and cruise missiles) to a range of 40 kilometers. It is OPCON to the respective SHORAD battery commander. The Sentinel should be integrated into the R&S plan in accordance with the IPB.



CAS is air action by fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly ground forces. It is a powerful battlefield asset, capable of destroying enemy elements of varying sizes, including large armor formations. Each CAS mission requires detailed integration with the fire and movement of ground forces.

CAS strikes can be either preplanned (at battalion or squadron level) or requested on an immediate-need basis through the battalion forward air controller (FAC). The FAC on the ground or in the air acts as a link between the ground element and the CAS aircraft.

Army air cavalry is best equipped to coordinate with Air Force assets in joint air attack team (JAAT) and attack helicopter operations. The air cavalry can see the battlefield and the target better than ground forces can, and it has the radio equipment needed to talk to Air Force aircraft. The attack aircraft organic to air cavalry can assist CAS aircraft in suppressing the enemy ADA threat.

Although planning normally begins at battalion/squadron level, the scout platoon may be tasked to provide information for CAS employment. Scouts should familiarize themselves with the procedures used to call for CAS. If CAS assets are working for their battalion, the scouts should provide suppressive fires on any known or suspected enemy ADA locations.


Friendly positions should always be marked during close air strikes, especially when friendly troops are within 300 meters of the target. Resources for marking positions include the following:

  • Smoke. The smoke grenade is the most commonly used marker, but it has limitations. Wind may cause smoke to drift above trees, and some colors can blend with the background. Violet or white smoke shows up well with most backgrounds.
  • Flares. Rocket or 40-mm flares are good for attracting attention at night; they are sometimes effective during the day.
  • Mirrors. Signal mirrors are probably the best ground-to-air devices for attracting attention. If the sun is shining and the operator is skillful, pilots can see a mirror flash miles away. VS-17 signal panels are also good visual references for pilots.
  • Lights. Pocket-size, battery-powered strobe lights produce brilliant white or blue flashes at about 1 1/2-second intervals. The flash is visible at night for 1 to 3 miles. Vehicle lights, such as an unshielded red taillight, are visible to a pilot for several miles at night. Chemical glow lights can be used to mark friendly positions. Another technique that can be used at night is to tie an infrared (IR) or green chemical light on a 10-foot string. When aircraft are in the area, a scout can swing the rope in a circular motion to mark the location.
  • Glint tape. This highly reflective tape can be cut to the appropriate size and attached to personnel and vehicles in accordance with an established SOP. The tape is visible through night vision devices at great distances.
  • Ground commander's pointer. This hand-held "laser"-type pointer is used in many ground units. Although invisible to the naked eye, its beam is visible through night vision devices. This allows ground elements to clearly show the air element the locations of either friendly or enemy elements. Depending on the specific device, the pointer may or may not be eye-safe. Ground elements can also use AIM-1 or PAC-4 lasers.

GSR teams can enhance the surveillance capability of scout platoons by detecting targets and providing accurate range and azimuth readings to enemy locations during limited visibility conditions. A team consists of three soldiers, one AN/PPS-5 radar unit, and an armored personnel carrier (APC) or HMMWV.

For combat operations, GSR teams are usually attached to battalions and squadrons. The teams may be attached or OPCON to companies, troops, or scout platoons for specific missions. When GSR is attached or OPCON to the scout platoon, the platoon leader must plan its employment. He should work with the battalion S2 to position GSR assets in conjunction with scout OPs to provide local security and protection.


GSR teams provide mobile, all-weather battlefield surveillance. When employed in pairs, they can provide observation from a given vantage point 24 hours a day.

GSR targets are classified as dismounted, light vehicle, heavy vehicle, or tracked vehicle. The AN/PPS-5 has a line-of-sight range of 10,000 meters against vehicles and 6,000 meters against personnel. It can detect targets through light camouflage, smoke, haze, light snow and rain, and darkness. Foliage and heavy rain and snow seriously restrict its radar detection capability.

GSR is designed to detect targets moving against a background. It is generally ineffective against an air target unless the aircraft is flying close to the ground. It is vulnerable to enemy direction-finding and jamming equipment. The GSR team is normally equipped with a single radio. If employed forward with the scouts, the team should send all reports to the scout platoon leader to be passed higher.


The GSR team should be assigned a specific sector of surveillance and frequency of coverage. Because the enemy can detect radar signals, however, GSR cannot be used for continuous surveillance. The tasks assigned to GSR teams in their surveillance mission may include the following:

  • Searching avenues of approach or possible enemy positions on a scheduled or random basis to determine the location, size, and composition of enemy forces and the nature of their activity.
  • Monitoring point targets such as bridges, defiles, or road junctions and reporting quantity, type, and direction of enemy vehicles and personnel moving through the target area.
  • Extending the observation capabilities of the scouts by enabling them to survey distant points and areas of special interest.
  • Vectoring patrols to keep them oriented during periods of limited visibility.

GSR must be positioned in an area that is free of ground clutter such as trees, thick vegetation, and buildings and that affords long-range observation and a wide field of view. Normally, the team will be assigned a general area, and the GSR team leader will select the specific position. To avoid enemy suppressive fires, the team should be prepared for rapid displacement and have several alternate positions selected and reconnoitered.

During reconnaissance operations, GSR is best employed to the flanks of the scout platoon or oriented on potential enemy locations. Since reconnaissance is a moving operation, the GSR teams will have to move as necessary to support the scouts.

In security operations, GSR teams can be used to provide redundancy in surveillance of NAIs and to add depth to the scout screen line by supplementing scout OPs.



Join the mailing list