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Part 4 Circulation Control--Theater of Operations

Chapter 29


Circulation control is all measures taken to expedite and control the movement of personnel and vehicles throughout the theater of operations. Measures include control of vehicle movements, refugee control and straggler control.

Military Police units assigned to divisions, corps, COMMZ and theater army have responsibility for circulation control of vehicles, supplies and personnel throughout their respective areas of operation. Planning for this control begins at the highway traffic headquarters (HTH) under staff supervision of the Assistant Chief of Staff, Transportation. The HTH is supervised by the highway plans officer with representation from various staff agencies, including the provost marshal.

The functions of the highway traffic headquarters are:

Formulating the overall highway regulation plan and traffic circulation plan.

Maintaining a situation map of the military road network, showing current data on obstructions, detours, defiles, enemy activity, capacity and surface conditions.

Implementing the commander's established priorities for highway movement.

Receiving requests for highway routing and for schedules of movements, consolidating itineraries and road movement tables.

Establishing and issuing traffic circulation maps.

Making necessary changes in routings, schedules and priorities as required.

Coordinating scheduled traffic movements with higher, adjacent and lower headquarters.

Establishing procedures for reporting road construction or repair requirements.

After the traffic circulation plan has been issued, responsibility for control of traffic rests with subordinate commanders. These commanders look to the provost marshal and Military Police units to assist in this control.

The provost marshal provides circulation control of traffic along with other circulation control missions primarily in two ways--through use of circulation control points (CCPs) and mobile patrols. This section discusses how these circulation control missions are completed. The missions include:

Planning for circulation control of traffic.

Circulation control points and mobile patrols.

Checkpoints, roadblocks, dismount points and defiles.

Hasty route reconnaissance.


MP combat support to special operations.

Military Police assigned the circulation control mission use the same principles of traffic control discussed in Section 1 of this manual with modifications based on the tactical combat situation. Military Police operating circulation control points assume several other important missions in the conduct of their duties. These are:

Circulation control of traffic

Straggler/refugee control

Information dissemination

Intelligence gathering



Responsibility for planning and regulation of vehicle circulation control is charged to the transportation officer of the command having area responsibility. Traffic regulations are then implemented through traffic control plans developed by the Military Police. MP planners (provost marshal, company commander, platoon leader or squad leader) must develop support plans with the express intent of best supporting the area commander's concept of operation. This concept is the commander's intentions concerning force deployment and support. It describes the overall pattern of an operation.

Planning for MP support activities must be a continuous process of evaluating current operations and anticipating future courses of action. Planning for circulation control of traffic requires consideration of scheduled and unscheduled, military and civilian movements. Planning includes consideration of several variable factors that can affect vehicle movement (such as type of vehicles, available Military Police resources, environmental conditions, terrain, support or augmentation capabilities, and enemy activities).

FM 19-4, Military Police Support, Theater of Operations, discusses in detail all aspects of Military Police planning for MP support missions to include circulation control.

Chapters 29 through 32 of this manual provide specific guidance on planning for a given mission of circulation control and various methods of implementing this mission.

Specific Planning

When planning for employment of a unit, standard planning and organizing procedures should be used. The MP planner must first analyze the mission, and then make an estimate of the situation.

Use the key word "METT" in your estimating:

Mission--What job is to be done? The leader should determine the who, what, where, when, why and how.

Enemy--Intelligence reports and predictions concerning enemy capability and actions must be considered.

Terrain--What are the primary roads? The MSRs? The secondary roads and holding areas? How does the terrain influence your actions? Your security? And the enemy's actions? Consider the key word "OCOKA":

O--Observation and fields of fire

C--Cover and concealment


K--Key terrain features

A--Avenues of approach

Troops--What and how many MPs are available to do the job? Do they have the necessary equipment? Are they properly trained?

After the MP planner makes an estimate of the situation, an operation order is issued to personnel performing the mission. Depending on available time, this may be a written order, verbal order or a combination of both. All Military Police involved in the mission must receive this information if a task is to be successfully accomplished.

Information should be presented in an operations order format:

1. Situation--Always give information in the following three subparagraphs:

a. Enemy Forces--How will enemy activity affect the MP support mission? What is their strength, location and anticipated activity?

b. Friendly Forces--Give information on friendly forces other than the specific MP unit and how its operations may affect the MP mission.

c. Attachments and Detachments--List any supporting units concerning Military Police operations.

2. Mission--A clear, concise statement of the task to be accomplished, explaining who, what, when, where and why.

3. Execution

a. Concept of Operation--A statement of the tactical plan concerning MP support.

b. Subsequent paragraphs should detail specific tasks for each MP element concerned. These should tell each person, if necessary, what and how he will perform his part of the mission.

4. Service Support--This paragraph should contain subparagraphs concerning administrative and logistics support.

a. Administration--What actions should be taken for situations not directly part of the mission? What are the contingency plans for handling PW or emergency reroutings?

b. Logistics--What, where and how will Military Police receive logistic support such as resupply, maintenance, water and food?

5. Command and Signal

a. Signal--What are the frequencies, call signs and authentication procedures for communication? How will MPs communicate with supported and supporting units? What are the emergency frequencies?

b. Command--Where will leaders be located? What is the chain of command?

Circulation Control Point

The functions of a circulation control point (CCP) are to provide the following:

  • Circulation Control of Traffic--Military Police must be familiar with the traffic circulation plan and traffic control plan of all scheduled military movements. MPs insure these movements obtain priority use of the road network. CCPs prevent delays and congestion; enforce rules and regulations of the commander concerning road use; make adjustments for unscheduled road movements; and are prepared to make minor reroutings as necessary. CCPs must be aware of the major supply routes (MSRs). Combined over-lays for maps are useful in this procedure. MPs must maintain surveillance of traffic movements and report to higher headquarters any problems that arise.
  • Straggler/Refugee Control--Contingency plans should be made for handling and control of refugees and stragglers. During conventional warfare or in a nuclear environment, this can become a severe problem; since mass movements will normally take place on natural lines of drift, which are usually the MSRs. Masses of refugees tend to obstruct the flow of traffic, which increases the importance of the MP mission to keep the roads open. Control and screening of refugees (who are sometimes used to insert enemy agents) requires a close coordinated effort with the G2/S2 and the supporting military intelligence unit. Additionally, control points, PW collection points, screening points, civilian detention centers, and refugee centers should be coordinated with MI and CA units.
  • Intelligence Gathering--The MP, like any other soldier, must be aware of the importance of gathering intelligence and passing his observations to the unit security officer if immediate contact with military intelligence is impractical. All vehicle movements should be reported, as well as the activities of local inhabitants, and all unusual occurrences observed. Counterintelligence must be emphasized. MPs should not allow authorized personnel to observe traffic movements.
  • Information Dissemination--Military Police must be able to give information concerning road use, directions, enemy activity, air or NBC threats to all personnel using the road network. To do this, they must be well briefed and have communication with other CCPs, mobile patrols and their parent unit.
  • Security--MPs have a very important security mission. They must be able to secure themselves and their position(s). This is done by establishing their position at a location with cover and concealment, good fields of fire and communication. They must be ready to provide a temporary delay or withstand enemy attack. Often, due to their isolated position, they will be the first in the warning system for air, ground or NBC attack.
  • The number of personnel and amount of equipment needed at any one control point depends on the location, time of operation, enemy activity and actual importance of the point. This may vary greatly, from one or two MPs needed for only 10 minutes, to four or more MPs needed for an extended period.

    A control point based on a semipermanent operation (24 hours for example) might require four Military Police. Their jobs are as follows:

    Senior MP--Provide leadership and maintain communication.

    • 2d MP--Provide direction on the roadway.
    • 3d MP--Provide direction on the roadway.
    • 4th MP--Provide backup security and rest.

    They should have sufficient equipment to accomplish the mission. In addition to a vehicle, weapons and communication equipment, they should have traffic control signs, NBC warning signs, STANO equipment, and sufficient food and water. Plans should be made for resupply by the parent unit. MPs must be cross trained in the use of crew-served weapons for employment during enemy activity.

    Mobile Patrol

    Military Police mobile patrols (ground, air or water) provide the commander with a versatile tool to maintain traffic control and other missions requiring mobility. Mobile patrols have the same mission capability as a CCP on the ground. Due to their increased mobility, they may also be used for the following functions:

    Maintain contact between circulation control points (CCPs).

    Investigate accidents and incidents.

    Perform route reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

    Perform checkpoint, roadblock and defile missions.

    Transport stragglers from CCPs to collection points.

    Perform resupply and administrative duties from the unit to the CCPs.

    Clear MSRs of refugees.


    Area Patrol

    The patrol is given a specific area to patrol, without directions as to routes used, times or checks to be made.

    Area Patrol

    The patrol is given an area to check, with specific duties concerning meeting times with other patrols and CCPs, and directions to perform specific jobs at certain times.

    Route Patrol

    The patrol is given a specific route, usually an MSR to patrol.

    Air Patrol

    MPs using rotary-wing aircraft can cover large areas quickly. This allows for quick observation of congestions and obstructions and allows for easy selection of bypasses. It is most efficient when used with mobile patrols on the ground.

    Water Patrol

    MPs must use watercraft to patrol areas with numerous inland waterways and continuous boat traffic.

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