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Chapter 30

Operation Methods

This section explains methods of operation for controlling traffic. These methods are:

Holding areas





Dismount points

Convoy escorts

Holding Areas

A holding area is an area where traffic can be moved off the road to ease congestion; wait for proper time to clear a CCP; reorganize in case of attack; or organize to attack. In selecting a holding area, MPs must consider using a location that meets the following criteria:

  • Offers cover, concealment and dispersion.
  • Is easily located, with easy entrances and exits.
  • Has a firm surface to withstand traffic weight and movement.
  • Is easy to defend.

Holding areas established by Military Police are controlled by MPs. If the area is very large, MPs should establish a control plan. An easy method is to mark the area off in several sections and assign an arbitrary letter or number to each area. If necessary, a traffic flow pattern should be established. Units are then assigned positions in the holding area based on size, number and types of vehicles.


Military Police on circulation control duty must be prepared to implement minor rerouting of traffic when necessary. MPs must know the road network in the area, have the equipment necessary to make temporary signs notifying road users of the change, and prepare a strip map of the rerouting.

When time permits, all rerouting must be approved by higher headquarters, (highway traffic headquarters). However, the individual MP on a CCP can reroute traffic. Ordinarily, rerouting travel time should not exceed five (5) minutes, or eight (8) minutes if the rerouting is directed by MP platoon headquarters. If rerouting affects two or more platoons of a unit using the road, the unit commander must direct the change. If a major rerouting is required immediately, it should be accomplished and the MPs should notify their company headquarters as soon as possible, so the HTH can be informed of the rerouting.


Checkpoints are established to insure proper route use, enforce rules and regulations, prevent illegal actions or actions aiding the enemy, and to provide information.

Each checkpoint should be established so that MPs are out of view to road users. A good location is just over the crest of a hill or around the bend of a curve. The checkpoint should have an area in which vehicles can be pulled off the roadway. It should be well marked with traffic cones, signs, etc. Any necessary instructions should be posted on signs. A pursuit vehicle should be available to pursue any vehicles or persons who fail to stop, turn around or otherwise attempt to avoid the checkpoint.


Roadblocks are established in conjunction with checkpoints to channelize traffic and personnel. They are also used to close off access to certain areas or roads. To be effective, traffic entering the general area of the roadblock should not be able to avoid or skirt around it. This can be accomplished by blocking the road with vehicles, barrels, barbed wire, etc. If the roadway shoulders are open, they too should be blocked.

Defensive positions for MPs should be established all around the roadblock. All positions should have communications by wire and radio. Adequate weapons should be emplaced for protection and enforcement of the roadblock. A pursuit vehicle should be available for persons or vehicles crashing the roadblock.


A defile is a natural or man-made feature or obstacle which restricts traffic flow to one-way at a time. Examples are narrow bridges, damaged roads, excessive debris, etc. Since movement at the defile is restricted, it is an ideal opportunity for the enemy to attempt to disrupt military operations. The role of the Military Police is as follows:

  • Control access to the defile to permit fastest possible clearance.
  • Insure concentrations of vehicles and personnel do not enter the defile at one time.
  • Provide security and defense of the position.

The most common control method used is to have MPs positioned at each end of the defile with a mobile patrol circulating throughout. Other methods (visual, flag, rider, lead and follow) are describe in the Installation Traffic Control Section (Section 1) of this manual and can be used independently or in combination.

All MP positions must be in communication with each other, preferably by wire with a radio backup. Holding areas should be established at each end of the defile to insure traffic flows smoothly and without congestion. In a situation in which nuclear or air attack is possible, these holding areas should be 2 to 3 kilometers from the defile. MPs should be prepared to assist in road clearing operations if breakdowns occur in the defile. This may mean having wrecker support available or using field expedient measures.

Tactical Dismount Points

Tactical dismount points are areas outside of a command post (CP) perimeter where vehicular movements are stopped and all movement is controlled. Military Police duties at these points include:

  • Restrict unauthorized personnel and vehicles from entering the CP area.
  • Control traffic at the main entrance to the CP area.
  • Act as an information and control post to personnel seeking entry to the CP.
  • Enforce light, noise, communication and movement discipline at the entrance to the CP.
  • Act as part of the overall CP security team.
  • Certain features should be considered when selecting the location of a dismount point. The site should meet these criteria:

    • Be relatively close to the CP area.
    • Have a minimum of one access route.
    • Be on level ground which can sustain the weight of military traffic.
    • Be in an area which is minimally affected by mud or dust.
    • Provide cover and concealment to vehicles parked in the area.
    • Be of sufficient size to accommodate expected traffic, provide turn-around areas, and allow for dispersion.

    The dismount point operation is composed of three distinct but interrelated elements:

    1. Control at intersection of MSR and access route to the dismount point.

    2. Control at the parking area/dismount point.

    3. Control and security at the main entrance to the command post.

    Control at Intersection Of MSR and Access Route

    The CP is an important control measure since it limits access to the general area of the command post. It is an information post for authorized personnel and it restricts entry of unauthorized personnel such as refugees or local inhabitants.

    Control at Dismount Point

    This is where personnel are required to dismount from their vehicles and proceed by foot. Vehicles are then dispersed to appropriate parking areas. MPs at this location have two missions--traffic control and security. The Military Police conduct identification and authorization of persons desiring entry to the CP area. Since this point is normally a part of the CP perimeter security, MPs should have wire and radio communication with other security positions, and have prepared defensive positions.

    Control and Security at Entrance

    Only authorized personnel are allowed to enter into the command post. The position should have authorized access lists. MPs must be able to communicate with the various staff sections to check identities and/or obtain access authorization for personnel. No one is admitted until positive identification has been established. Escorts are normally required for persons not on the access list. MPs must be knowledgeable of the identification system (badges, tags, etc) used during daylight and the challenge system used during darkness.

    Convoy Escort and Security

    Convoy escort and security is an operation in which Military Police are detailed to provide security and movement to a specific group of vehicles. It is distinguished from route security, which is the actual control of roadway use. There are a variety of convoys which MPs may be called on to assist. They include:

    • Resupply operations.
    • Special ammunition or sensitive material movements.
    • Escort of designated commanders and other VIPs.
    • Assistance to combat arms units during difficult movements, such as passage of lines or river crossings.

    The area commander (theater army, corps, division), through HTH, allocates MP resources to a convoy security mission. A primary consideration is whether or not the convoy is able to provide its own security. For example, an infantry battalion has the organic weapons to provide its own security whereas a light truck transportation battalion may not. The specific tactical situation is also a concern, particularly when rear area protection is a factor.

    Military Police are committed in two ways--area-oriented and functional-oriented support.

    Area-Oriented Support

    In this type support, the MP unit is committed to provide MP missions within a geographical area. A convoy would be escorted by the unit from the time it enters this area until it leaves the area.

    Functional-Oriented Support

    In this type support, the MP unit is committed to a specific task. A convoy would be escorted by this unit from start to finish, regardless of the areas passed through.

    Convoy movements are usually controlled by two methods--organizational and area control.

    Organizational Control

    The authority the unit commander imposes on his unit to control its movement during the time it uses a given route is organizational control.

    Area Control

    Those measures taken by the appropriate traffic headquarters and enforced by Military Police over the road network of an assigned area are called area control.

    • Provide accessibility to main routes and parking areas.

    Planning Convoy Security

    Once the MP commander receives the mission to provide convoy security, an estimate of the situation should be started, using the METT system. The following should be considered when planning for a specific mission:

    Method of Escort
    Tactical Actions


    The MP leader and convoy commander must meet to coordinate their actions. Each must be aware of his own capabilities and restrictions. They should establish convoy organization and means of primary and backup communication (frequencies, call signs, etc). They must determine times and locations at which MP support begins and release points when it ends. Any anticipated changes in route must be coordinated. A typical situation might be one in which different MP units providing area-oriented support, escort one convoy as it passes through each MP unit's area of responsibility.


    Military Police should be able to conduct a hasty reconnaissance of the route to be used by the convoy. At a minimum, a map reconnaissance is necessary. All sources of information should be consulted, especially the engineers and highway traffic headquarters. Aircraft should be used if possible. Classification of the route is important.

    The following are color codes used to classify roads:

    Green--The road is generally free from enemy activity and may be used unarmed.

    Yellow--There is a risk of enemy activity. All military personnel should be armed and each vehicle should carry at least two persons.

    Red--This road is in the combat zone and may require offensive or defensive action by combat troops in the field.

    Escort Methods

    The Military Police planner decides the best method of escort to use. The types of escorts are the same as described in Section I, Installation Traffic Control. Considerations are terrain, persons or cargo, volume, length, enemy actions and re-sources available to the convoy and MPs. The methods of escorts are:

    • Leading and following
    • Empty truck (or modified)
    • Leapfrog
    • Perimeter

    Tactical Considerations

    Tactical actions to be taken for security during halts or mechanical breakdowns must be established. Weapons resources must be coordinated. Location of armored vehicles and automatic weapons in the convoy organization should be mutually supporting. Prior coordination should be made with mortar, artillery and air support. All personnel in the convoy must know what action to take, in anticipation of enemy attack. Generally, convoy personnel are required to maintain local security of their vehicles, while Military Police are tasked to take offensive action against enemy attack.

    Ambush--If an enemy ambush occurs, persons in the vehicles that have been stopped in the kill zone should dismount and begin laying down an intense base of fire. If the vehicles can move, they should immediately attempt to clear the kill zone. All personnel outside the kill zone should dismount and also lay down a base of fire. This action should be immediate and intense. Artillery/air support should be requested. The MP security commander should be responsible for taking positive fire and maneuver action to neutralize the enemy.

    Artillery Attack--If the convoy comes under artillery fire, vehicles must not stop. They should continue forward as quickly as possible to clear the area.

    Air Attack--If the convoy comes under air attack, the vehicles should disperse and attempt to find cover. Personnel should begin firing all available weapons in an antiaircraft effort.

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