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Chapter 31

Hasty Route

Reconnaissance is all the directed efforts taken to collect information about the enemy and the area of operations.

Engineer units have the responsibility to under-take both deliberate and hasty route reconnaissance missions. Deliberate reconnaissance provides detailed, technical information; while a hasty route reconnaissance provides information of a limited and less technical nature. Reconnaissance is generally of two types--route and area.

Route reconnaissance--directed efforts taken to collect information about the enemy, and the area of operations along a specific route.

Area reconnaissance--directed efforts taken to collect information about the enemy and the area of operations within any clearly defined area.

Because of their mobility, flexibility, and ability to communicate and rapidly respond, Military Police can provide the commander with an additional resource to undertake hasty route reconnaissance. This will be done in conjunction with the engineer unit commander. This mission can be interfaced with the on-going Military Police missions of convoy escort and circulation control. The information these units can provide is valuable for both tactical intelligence and movement control purposes.

There are several methods of performing reconnaissance. These include ground, aerial, map and air-ground reconnaissance.

Ground Reconnaissance

Performed on the ground, by traveling over the actual terrain. Although it is the most time-consuming and subject to enemy threat, it provides the most detailed and reliable information.

Aerial Reconnaissance

This type reconnaissance provides for rapid viewing of the actual terrain with a minimum of threat. More terrain can be checked in less time. It is, however, inefficient in adverse weather.

Map Reconnaissance

If maps of the terrain are available, this type of reconnaissance provides a preliminary study of the terrain. Maps can provide information on road type, classification, drainage, terrain features, vegetation and natural barriers. Map reliability depends greatly on the age and accuracy of the map.

Air-Ground Reconnaissance

This is the most desirable type of reconnaissance since it combines the advantages of both methods, especially if the area is a contested battle zone. MPs in the air can direct actions of MPs on the ground to study the most necessary areas or sections of road. They may also provide mutual defense.


To be effective, Military Police conducting reconnaissance must be organized and briefed on what information is desired from the reconnaissance. They must have the necessary equipment and be trained in methods used to conduct reconnaissance. In addition to normal mobile patrol equipment, MPs must have a compass, measuring tape, drawing material, maps, overlays and report formats. Information they must receive prior to a reconnaissance includes the following:

Information on the enemy, friendly units and the area.

Proposed circulation control and route security plans to be implemented.

Essential elements of information (EEI) needed.

When, where and how reports are to be rendered. (MPs should use DA Form 1248, Road Reconnaissance Report, an engineer form, to insure standardization of reporting methods.)

Control measures imposed on them, such as phase lines, checkpoints, contact points and time limits.

Rules of engagement with the enemy.

Organization and equipment.

Symbols Used

The following are the basic route classification symbols that may be used by Military Police in hasty route reconnaissance. FM 5-36 provides a detailed explanation of symbols used by engineers.

Types of Roads

X--All-weather road. The road is open all year long and is only slightly affected by adverse weather conditions. It is usually constructed of concrete, bituminous, brick or stone.

Y--All-weather road. Limited traffic due to weather. This type road is open in adverse weather with reasonable maintenance. It may be affected by rain, snow or thaw. It is constructed of crushed rock, gravel or lightly metalled surface.

Z--Fair-weather road. This type road quickly becomes unpassable during bad weather and cannot be kept open with normal maintenance. It is constructed of soil, sand, clay or cinders.

Limiting Factors

A--Road has no limiting factor.

B--Road has limiting factors as indicated by the following symbols (any combination may be used).

?--An unknown limiting factor is present.

c--Sharp curves. (Radius less than 200 ft (30m), causes slowing convoys, especially long vehicles. Defile operations may be required.)

g--Steep gradients. (Seven percent or more, slows convoys, control may be required at top and bottom to control speed distances and vehicle interval.)

d--Poor drainage. (Inadequate ditches, culverts, etc, may require bypassing or rerouting during heavy rain or floods.)

f--Weak foundation. (Unstable, loose material, may require certain weight class vehicle be rerouted. Determined by engineers only.)

s--Rough surface. (Bump, rutted or potholes mean heavier vehicles must slow down or bypass.)

j--Excessive camber or superelevation. (May require defile operations.)

Construction Material Symbols

k--Concrete (generally heavy duty).

kb--Bituminous or asphaltic concrete (generally heavy duty).

p--Paving brick or stone (generally heavy duty).

pb--Bituminous surface on paving brick/stone (generally heavy duty).

rb--Bitumen-penetrated macadam; waterbound macadam with superficial asphalt or tar cover (medium duty)

r--Waterbound macadam, crushed rock (light duty).

l--Gravel or lightly metalled surface (light duty).

nb--Bituminous surface treatment on natural earth (light duty).

n--Natural earth, soil, clay, cinders (light duty).

v--Various other types not mentioned.


The symbol for obstructions is (OB). Obstructions are any of the following:

Less than 4.3 meters (14 feet) overhead clearance.

Widths of traveled way less than required.

Grades of 7% or more.

Curves with a radius of 30 meters (100 feet) or, less.

Fords or ferries.

Snow blockage (represented by the symbol T).

Flooding (represented by the symbol W).

Basic Road Classification

The formula is standardized in the following format: Minimum width - route type - lowest military load - obstructions.

Here are some examples of road classifications:

20 ft Y 50

Describes a limited all-weather road with a 20-foot traveled way and load limit class of 50.

20 ft Y 50 (OB) (T)

Describes the same road as the first example with a snow obstruction.

US military and allied vehicles are assigned military load class numbers which represent the affect of each vehicle on a bridge. Military load class numbers for standard Army vehicles are listed in Appendix D, FM 5-36, Route Reconnaissance and Classification. This appendix also contains considerable, information on road and route classifications, reconnaissance operations and deliberate bridge and road reconnaissance.

More examples:

7m Y 50 (OB)

Describes a limited all-weather route with a minimum traveled way of 7 meters, a military load classification of 50 and with obstruction(s).

10.5m X 120 (OB)

Describes an all-weather route with a minimum traveled way width of 10.5 meters, which is suitable for double flow traffic of both wheeled and tracked vehicles, a military load classification of 120 with obstruction(s).

Maps and Overlays

Military Police have an extensive need for maps and overlays. There are several purposes for maintaining maps, some of which are as follows:

Traffic Circulation Plan--Shows the overall plan implemented and maintained by the highway traffic headquarters.

Traffic Control Plan--Indicates the general control plan, MP commitments to traffic control, unit locations and service locations. Normally maintained by the MP unit and higher headquarters.

Circulation Control Point And Mobile Patrol Map--Maps maintained by MP unit or strip maps maintained by separate elements, concerning their area of operation. They should indicate:

MP positions and activities.
Holding areas, roadblocks, check-points, defiles, etc.
Communication sites.
Road classifications and restrictions.
Traffic flow and regulations.

All maps are prepared to assist mission accomplishment. They must always be safeguarded. Overlays are used to show information which would clutter up a basic map.

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