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This chapter implements STANAGs 2103 and 2174

In the swiftly changing combat situations on a battlefield, you help provide timely and accurate information. Across the battlefield you acquire information from units and persons you encounter as you move throughout your AO. The information you gather and report up the chain of command adds to the command's overall intelligence. Gathered throughout the broad battlefield and updated continuously, it helps enable leaders to see and read the battlefield. And provided up through channels, it helps the echelon commander form a clear picture of the activity in the rear area.

You talk to road users. You establish contact with local populations and friendly units. You routinely talk to soldiers and the local populace, gathering "human intelligence." You develop contacts with local authorities and work closely with HN forces. The information you obtain helps determine the location, size, and activity of Threat forces. It provides early warning of enemy activity in the area. And your familiarity with the area can help the commander estimate the timing of the enemy's move when a Threat force is in the area.

At roadblocks, checkpoints, and traffic control posts (TCPs) you acquire timely information about road conditions. Threat activity, and changed unit locations. On patrol you detect and report NBC contamination. Throughout the rear area you are the echelon commander's eyes and ears.


Recon patrols collect information and/or seek to confirm the continued accuracy of known information. MP mounted and dismounted recon patrols gather information in the rear area that contributes to the IPB and that influences commanders' plans, decisions, and orders. See Appendix G. The principles of a recon patrol are--

  • Plan and prepare.
  • Orient on and reconnoiter the objective.
  • Report all information quickly, accurately, and fully.
  • Avoid becoming decisively engaged.

On a recon patrol you observe. You do not jeopardize a recon by engaging in unnecessary combat. You undertake combat only in self-defense or when ordered to do so. If you make visual contact with an enemy force, report it and maintain surveillance while gathering as much intelligence as you can. Break visual contact only on orders from the proper authority. To learn the enemy's location, the size of the force, and what they are doing, you--

  • Deploy and reconnoiter.
  • Report information on the enemy (SALUTE).
  • Choose a course of action.
  • Report your situation.


The size of a recon patrol is determined by METT-T. When a recon patrol is one team, the team leader provides control, maintains communications, and records recon data; one MP operates the vehicle; and the other MP provides security and acts as alternate driver. When two or more teams form a patrol, the squad leader (or someone he chooses) designates a recon element and a security element. The lead team is usually the recon element. They concentrate on gathering data. The trail team is the security element. They provide overwatch cover. See Moving in Combat, Chapter 2.

If air assets are available, you can operate with one team on the ground and one in the air. While the ground element checks a specific area, the air element checks nearby terrain for enemy activity. The aircraft also can fly ahead a short distance to look for critical points and enemy activity. You combine the data from the air and ground elements into one report.

The air element can warn the ground element of potential danger. When the ground element dismounts to reconnoiter a location, the air element provides overwatch security. If enemy contact is made, the air element lays suppressive fire while the ground element takes action on contact.

The equipment you need will vary. But in addition to the standard combat load, consider--

  • A lensatic compass to plot key terrain features on an overlay.
  • A measuring tape to measure road widths and characteristics at bridges, tunnels, and other route features.
  • Sketch pads to draw diagrams of critical points.
  • Colored markers to indicate terrain features on the overlay. See FM 101-5-1.
  • Overlay materials for plotting route information.
  • Existing maps and overlays to locate critical points and speed the recon.
  • NBC monitoring equipment to collect NBC information.

The conditions are likely to be adverse, especially if you are on an AirLand battlefield. When visibility is reduced by fog, smoke, darkness, or other circumstances, you will have difficulty navigating and observing. Longterm operations at night increase strain and fatigue.

Use illumination and night-vision devices to enhance your ability to see. The enemy also uses these devices, so be sure to use terrain with good cover and concealment during the recon. Dismount at critical places, even when using illumination or night-vision devices. You will be less at risk. At night or in fog, your moving vehicles can be detected by sound.

When operating in an NBC or "unknown" area, monitor continuously for NBC contamination. If contamination is detected, make sure the team--

  • Takes personal defense measures immediately.
  • Collects and transmits the data needed for an NBC-1 report.
  • Posts a contaminated-area warning sign.
  • Requests guidance about a possible new mission, such as setting up a roadblock or rerouting traffic.

When you reconnoiter in an NBC environment, you must--

  • Allow more time than usual to make the recon.
  • Compensate for NBC-related restrictions on command and control procedures.
  • Plan ways to overcome or reduce problems related to wearing protective clothing for long periods of time.
  • Identify routes that are clear of contamination.

When tasked to lead a recon patrol, begin with your troop-leading steps. See Chapter 2. As you patrol--

  • Gather as much information as you can.
  • Check with local Engineer units for current maps and the latest route conditions.
  • Coordinate with local bases/base clusters and with units passing through the area. Ask about--

--Attempted or actual sabotage.

--Suspected enemy activities.

--Breaches of base security measures.

--The location of bypassed enemy forces.

  • Actively seek information from HN police and local nationals. They can provide information on high water levels, other seasonal data, and local enemy activity. Ask about--

--Unusual civilian traffic in the area.

--Strangers seen watching military activities.

--Unusual incidents.

Report your recon results as soon as possible. The timely transmission of accurate information is the point of your mission. Critical information can be reported immediately. Less critical information can be included in the patrol report. Report all items of military significance; include all information gathered. (STANAG 2003 prescribes the patrol report format.) Along with the report, prepare a map overlay of the area reconned. Attach any notes or sketches of critical points to the overlay.

The importance of the information determines how it should be reported. (Unit SOPs give the standard format for reporting this information. Use of a format speeds the entire reporting procedure.) Negative reports are also valuable. Negative reports are transmitted using the same procedures.

Often the information and intelligence you gather is to meet commanders' priority intelligence requirements (PIRs)/information requirements (IRs). The PIRs/IRs are forwarded through the chain of command to become a part of the IPB. When you collect PIRs/IRs for intelligence purposes, you ensure, through your subordinate leaders, that each MP knows the items of information the commander needs.

When tasked to collect information to fill intel-ligence requirements for which a commander has an expected and stated priority in his task planning and decision making, the nature and number of PIRs/ IRs will vary with the--

  • Command's missions.
  • Phases and types of operations.
  • Extent and accuracy of the available information and intelligence.

When seeking PIR information--

  • Use your contacts with local populaces and with friendly units within your AO to relate enemy activity in the area to the specific intent of the Threat.
  • Maintain a constant update of criminal intelligence from HN police.
  • Ask for reports of unusual personnel activity and stolen vehicles, clothes, or food.
  • Be sure to give stolen vehicles' descriptions to the members of all teams. (Infiltrating enemy teams will attempt to obtain local transportation, civilian or military, to increase their mobility.)

PIRs/ IRs help modify and update the IPB. The IPB of the rear area is a valuable tool for the MP. See Appendix G. MP use IPB products produced by MI as planning guidelines for patrol areas, vantage sites, and probable DZs/LZs, enemy avenues of approach, and courses of action.


MP route recon and surveillance operations are a composite of actions taken and observations and reports made over time by many MP patrols. Mounted patrols continuously collect data at the level of detail needed by a PM or commander. The patrols travel the routes within the AO, collecting and reporting detailed information about the routes. They look for nearby terrain from which the Threat can influence movement on the routes. They watch for signs of the Threat or Threat activity that can affect the movement or security of critical combat resources.

A route recon patrol seeks information about enemy activity along a route and tries to verify or gain information about a route's characteristics. (MP "hasty" route recons are not as detailed as the route recons done by the Engineers. But a hasty route recon can help determine the kind and level of military traffic a route can support. And it can be used by Engineers to verify or help classify a route.) See FM 5-36. Data from your route recon can be vital to units planning to use the road network.

Your goal is to gather route condition information and intelligence on enemy activity along the route. But when on patrol you also disseminate information. Road users will look to you for directions and information. You must know where key units and facilities are located so supplies and equipment can be routed to them without delay.

Often the main purpose of your recon will be to verify the information at hand and to ensure conditions are as they are believed to be. Gather as much information as you can about the route before you start the recon. Your instructions will give details about route information, intelligence information, map overlay, and ground and/or air recon. You can get additional information from the local movement control unit. Liaison with HN police or units in the area may also provide you valuable data on route characteristics and activities. Talk with convoy commanders, vehicle drivers, and local nationals about the route they have just used. Although this information is not as reliable as information gathered from driving a route, its reliability increases when several road users report the same condition. As your patrol recons the route, you will want to--

  • Identify and locate the recommended route.
  • Check the driving time and distances between easily recognized points.
  • Look for obstructions and restrictions (bridges, tunnels, steep grades, sharp curves, ferries, snow blockage, defiles, flooding, rock falls/slides).
  • Note the location and type of possible ambush sites on the route.
  • Look for terrain where enemy direct fire could stop movement on the route.
  • Identify natural defense, counterambush, and assembly locations. (For example, narrow railroad cuts can provide concealment and cover for semipermanent combat support/combat service support assets. Camouflage nets strewn across the top of the cut can provide some overhead concealment, in addition to line-of-sight concealment.) Look for places where route users can use or receive emergency help (air overflights, air medical evacuation, counterambush and reaction forces, POL points, ordnance resupply points, vehicle recovery, emergency communications and frequencies).
  • Identify areas where terrain restricts communication.
  • Note locations of and describe bridges and tunnels suitable for demolition.
  • Watch for enemy situations that could affect route security or conditions, such as--

--Enemy elements positioned on key terrain.

--Any observed enemy movement or engagement.

--Changes in frequency or type of enemy fire in the area.

--Enemy aerial interdiction.

During the recon, security personnel watch for enemy activity. One person watches and records data about the route. He prepares an overlay showing all the information. And, on a separate piece of paper, he sketches critical points requiring special attention. Give him a list of information to gather. The list may include--

  • Recent weather effects on the road (rain, snow, mud, rock slides).
  • Unreported damage to the route (destroyed or damaged bridges, craters).
  • New blockage (trees blown down, disabled vehicles, urban rubble).
  • Uncontrolled traffic congestion (refugee traffic, slow convoys).

To keep from overlooking critical terrain data, prepare a checklist of items that may be included on the route recon overlay:

  • Route classification formula.
  • Identification and location of the reconnoitered route.
  • Road distances between points easily recognized both on the ground and on the map.
  • Presence and lengths of steep grades having a slope of 7 percent or greater.
  • Curves having radii of less than 45 meters.
  • Military load classifications and limiting dimensions of bridges. Include suitable bypasses, classifying them as easy, difficult, or impassable.
  • Locations and limiting data of fords, ferries, and tunnels. Include suitable classification of bypasses.
  • Route restrictions (like underpasses) below minimum standards and, if appropriate, the distances such restrictions extend.
  • Areas suitable for short halts, holding areas, or bivouacs that offer easy access to the roadway and adequate dispersion, cover, and concealment. Include information on shoulders.
  • Rockfall and slide areas that may present a traffic hazard.
  • Overhead clearance of less than 4.3 meters.
  • Civil or military road numbers or other designations.
  • Obstructions to traffic.

Checking likely "terrain targets" in the patrol area is an absolute necessity. Cleared areas near critical bridges, roads, and road junctions are likely airmobile or airborne insertion areas. Are the slopes on these areas steep enough to keep helicopters from landing? Threat forces like to use cleared areas that offer nearby concealment and are away from built-up areas. They are willing to trade time-from-target for security.

All bridges and overpasses along an MSR are likely targets. They are easy to destroy and difficult to replace. The destruction of an overpass, especially where a road network moves from one cut to another, can make large stretches of the road useless. If a bridge is irreplaceable, then a fording site near the bridge is identified. (If a fording site is not available, then Engineer personnel could be asked to stockpile barrier materiel for a field expedient bridge.) Streams whose bottoms vary in composition must be carefully analyzed when looking for fording sites. The composition of soil near the bridges and the effect of rain on that soil must be understood. A fording site astride a gravel stream bottom is of little use if its approaches become "gumbo" and cannot be used without stabilzation. The effects of weather, mainly rain, must be considered when listing bridge/overpass priorities.

Roads that bisect heavily wooded areas are likely obstacle-and-ambush sites because of the concealment afforded Threat forces. Heavily loaded vehicles are vulnerable to ambushes and unable to easily circumvent obstacles. Steep grades and numerous S-turns where logistical vehicles heavily loaded with supplies slow to a crawl make good ambush points. For more information on the route classification system, see Appendix H of this manual and Chapter 2 of FM 5-36.

If enemy activity is suspected along a route--

  • Use caution when approaching critical locations.
  • Use traveling overwatch or bounding overwatch. Choose movement techniques according to the latest information on suspected enemy activity.
  • Do not stop in open or exposed locations.
  • Assign persons in each vehicle to watch windows and rooftops for snipers.
  • Watch for unusual incidents that could be the first signs of an ambush.

In or out of towns be cautious when approaching a sharp bend or a defile in the road. Such areas are often mined. These areas are also ideal sites for an ambush. Have the recon element make a dismounted recon while the security element takes an overwatch position.

Check bridges for mines and booby traps. Before crossing a bridge, have the security element move to an overwatch position. Have the recon element dismount and check the bridge and its approaches for mines, booby traps, and demolition charges. See also FM 5-34. Once the bridge has been cleared, have the recon element gather critical data on the bridge's characteristics. Continue the route recon.

Reconnoiter key terrain near the route. Move off road as well as on to look for places from which the enemy can place direct fire on the route. Many enemy direct-fire weapons are effective under 1,000 meters. Some weapons, like the AT3 Sagger and the AT4 Spandrel missiles, have ranges of 3,000 to 4,000 meters. The type of terrain dictates whether you recon mounted or dismounted. Reconnoitering terrain can be time-consuming. The mission order and the time you have for the recon determine how many, and which terrain features you reconnoiter.


MP conduct area recon and surveillance operations to help guard against unexpected enemy attack in the rear area. Area recon and surveillance is vital to maintaining area security. MP area recon and surveillance operations are a composite of actions taken and observations and reports made continuously over time by many MP patrols. MP routinely seek information about area activity to keep up with changes in the rear area. This information is gained through coordination with HN police, allied military forces, and US units and through the MP's own observations. Coordination with HN authorities can help identify enemy activity and the probable and specific location of the enemy. MP seek specific information about towns, ridgelines, woods, and other terrain features from which the enemy could influence road movements. And, based on the IPB, MP monitor likely avenues of approach and DZs and LZS to give early warning of rear area enemy activity. They pay close attention to areas near facilities designated critical by the commander, such as--

  • Command and control HQ.
  • Nuclear ammunition supply points (NASPs).
  • Communications centers.
  • Logistic support clusters.
  • Key terminals, depots, and bridges.

MP team AOs overlap to give random coverage not easily predictable by simple observation. Recon patrols may operate continuously as MP move within their AO. MP patrols conducting area reconnaissance and surveillance go off road to look for signs of enemy activity. They analyze the terrain surrounding the roadways. Complete surveillance during the conduct of an area patrol is vital.

An area recon patrol seeks information about a specific place and the area immediately around it. Complete surveillance during an area recon is vital. Analyze the terrain surrounding the roadways, moving off road as needed. Avoid the tendency to focus only on the road and the area immediately around it. For example, your recon may be of a potential DZ. You are to gather data about the terrain, such as the size of the DZ and the presence of enemy mobility corridors from the DZ. Soviet doctrine calls for company-size and smaller unit DZs/LZs to be 5 kilometers or less from their target. And larger unit or multiple drops call for assembly areas up to 10 kilometers from their target. Thus you would concentrate your recon efforts within the 5 to 10 kilometers around your recon's objective. When leading an area recon patrol, in addition to using troop-leading steps and following the general principles for making a recon, you--

  • Use a scheme of maneuver.
  • Secure and occupy an objective rally point (ORP).
  • Conduct a leader's recon of the objective area to confirm or change the plan.
  • Return to the ORP, complete the plan, and pass on the information.

If your patrol has both security and recon elements, have the security element leave the ORP before the recon element. The security element leader places security teams at the ORP and on enemy avenues of approach into the objective area. If possible, position vehicles with crew-served weapons to provide direct fire support. After the security teams are in place, have the recon element proceed.

Have the recon element move to several vantage points around the objective. The recon element leader may have a small recon team move to each vantage point instead of having the entire element move as a unit from point to point. This reduces the chances of being spotted. After the objective has been reconnoitered for the details outlined in the order, have the element return to the ORP. Have the teams share their information, consolidate it, and either report it, return to patrol HQ, or continue to the next mission.


A zone recon patrol makes a detailed, thorough, and time-consuming recon of all dominant terrain within specified boundaries. You seek to locate the enemy or the presence of enemy activity. You can conduct a zone recon mounted, but the terrain may require some dismounted operations.

Three methods of conducting a zone recon are: "fan," "converging routes," and "successive sector." To use the fan method--

  • Select a series of ORPs throughout the zone.
  • At the first ORP halt and set up security.
  • After you confirm the patrol's location, select recon routes out from and back to the ORP. (These routes form a fan-shaped pattern around the ORP They must overlap to ensure the entire area has been reconnoitered.)
  • Once the routes have been selected, send out recon elements along the routes.
  • Do not send out all elements at once. Keep a reserve at the ORP.
  • Send elements out on adjacent routes to keep from making contact in two different directions.

After the entire area (fan) has been reconnoitered, report the information to your superior. Then move the patrol to the next ORP. Repeat this action at each successive ORP.

To use the converging routes method (which incorporates the fan method)--

  • Select an ORP, recon routes through the zone, and a rendezvous point. (The rendezvous point is a place where patrol members link up after the recon.)
  • At the ORP have the patrol halt and set up security.
  • Confirm the patrol's location.
  • Designate a route for each recon element, a location for the rendezvous, and a linkup time at the rendezvous point.
  • Send a recon element to reconnoiter (usually using the fan method) each route. You normally move with the center element.

At link up, the patrol secures the rendezvous point as it did the ORP. While at the rendezvous point, information gained by each member is exchanged with all other members. This provides backup to ensure that all information gets passed onto higher HQ. The patrol then returns to friendly lines.

To use the successive sector method--

  • Build on the converging routes method.
  • Select an ORP and a series of recon routes and rendezvous points.
  • From each ORP to each rendezvous point use the converging routes method. (Each rendezvous point becomes the ORP for the next phase.)
  • When the patrol links up at a rendezvous point, again designate recon routes, a linkup time, and the next rendezvous point.
  • Continue this action until the entire zone has been reconnoitered.


Commanders see MP as essential to the early detection of NBC hazards in the rear area. As you travel on patrol you routinely and continuously monitor for NBC hazards.

MP NBC operations are a composite of observations and actions undertaken continuously by many patrols over time and over territory to enhance force survivability. When you detect an NBC hazard you mark the contaminated area and monitor the hazard. You report its status through operational channels. You direct traffic to bypass the contaminated road network or area. Your NBC efforts help troops and supplies safely get to where they are needed on the battlefield.

MP mobility throughout the battlefield makes MP teams and squads especially useful for warning the command of NBC hazards. MP teams have been specially equipped to perform this operation in the rear area. You may perform NBC detection in teams or squads operating independently or as part of a larger detection effort. You may detect NBC hazards as a separate operation, but most often you do it as part of other MP operations.

At all echelons you provide continuous information to higher HQ to inform them of Threat or unidentified NBC attacks and resulting hazardous areas. You forward your information in reports made according to the format provisions of STANAG 2103. These report formats provide a rapid means of disseminating information. The NBC reports you will most often transmit are the NBC-1 and NBC-4 reports.

Use the NBC-1 report to record initial use and subsequent data concerning enemy nuclear, biological, or chemical attacks. The initial NBC-1 report precedence is Flash and all others are Immediate precedence.

Use the NBC-4 report for radiation dose rate measurements. Usually the unit submits two reports, one on initial contact and another for peak dose rate. Measure radiation dose rates in the open, 1 meter above the ground. If radiation dose rates are taken inside a vehicle or shelter, at least one outside reading is necessary to determine the correlation factor. Other items are optional. A detailed discussion of all NBC reports can be found in FM 3-3 and GTA 3-6-3.

As you move throughout your AO, you--

  • Monitor for the presence of an NBC hazard.
  • Mark contaminated areas.
  • Send NBC reports through operational channels.
  • Direct traffic around or through hazards to ensure troops and supplies get where they are needed on the battlefield.


Radiological monitoring starts on order of the commander or as set by SOP. Team members mark the area with radiological contamination markers. Radiation dose rates and the times and locations of readings are reported to higher HQ, using the NBC-4 nuclear report. See Detecting and Reporting NBC Hazards, this chapter. All units start continuous monitoring when--

  • Moving from one area to another on the battlefield.
  • They get a fallout warning.
  • A nuclear burst is reported, seen, or heard.
  • Radiation of 1 centigray per hour is detected by periodic monitoring.
  • Ordered by the unit commander.

Continuous monitoring stops on order from higher HQ or when the dose rate falls below 1 centigray per hour, except for units on the move.

When conducting radiological monitoring, use both direct and indirect techniques. The direct technique is the simplest and the most precise. You--

  • Stand at the desired location.
  • Hold the radiacmeter waist high. For more details see TM 11-6665-214-10 or TM 11-6665-251-10.
  • Slowly turn it 360 degrees.
  • Record the highest reading on DA Form 1971-R.
  • Take the reading in the open at least 10 meters from buildings or large structures if possible.

Use the indirect technique inside shelters or vehicles. You--

  • Stand at the center of the shelter.
  • Hold the radiacmeter 1 meter above the floor.
  • Rotate it 360 degrees.
  • Record the highest reading.
  • Take all readings from one selected position when monitoring from inside a vehicle.

Detailed discussions of radiological monitoring are found in FM 3-3.

You may be tasked to perform as part of a survey team. When essential contamination information cannot be obtained from monitoring reports, a radiological survey may be required. Radiological surveys are directed efforts to learn the extent and intensity of radiological contamination. A survey requires a control team and one or more survey teams. The HQ directing the survey usually provides the control team. In a team assigned to a survey--

  • The team leader monitors the radiacmeter and provides command and control.
  • The driver operates the vehicle.
  • The gunner provides security.

The control team instructs the survey teams on what to do. The MP team leader makes sure each team member receives the following information from the control team:

  • Purpose. The survey determines the presence and the level of fallout or induced radiation near ground zero, in a specific area, along a route, at a specific location, or any combination of these.
  • Start and finish times. The times during which a survey will be conducted.
  • Survey execution. The route to be followed and the locations where readings are to be made or the distances needed between readings are given.
  • Radiation safety precautions. The control team tells the survey team the turn-back dose. The dose rate is monitored on the IM-174. If the turnback dose rate is reached as the survey team travels forward, the team immediately leaves the fallout area by the same route used to enter it, unless instructed otherwise. If the dose rate decreases as the survey team moves ahead, the team continues to perform its mission.
  • Recording limitations. The survey team will not convert inside readings to outside readings. Record readings in the dose rate column only.
  • Communications. The method and times to be used to communicate survey data to the control party.
  • Special instructions. Any special instructions, such as markings for contaminated areas or security precautions.


During routine operations along the MSRs, you may detect chemical agents as you make periodic checks for contamination. Or you may be tasked to conduct a "chemical recon" along an MSR or in a given area after an enemy attack. Some chemical agents are odorless, colorless, tasteless, and invisible. You need to use your chemical agent detection equipment and materials (see Appendix C) to be certain you can detect chemical agents.

If you are detecting for chemical contamination on a recon--

  • Ensure all members of the party wear MOPP level 4 with M9 paper attached to their protective clothing.
  • Drive along the route until the chemical agent alarm sounds. By the time the alarm sounds, you may be some distance from where the agent was frost encountered. Keep this in mind when selecting the area to be searched.
  • Give special attention to--

--Shell craters.

--Low-lying patches of woods.



--Stream beds.

--Areas covered with high grass or underbrush.

  • Have one MP remain in each vehicle to provide security and to monitor the radio.
  • Have other patrol members dismount and check for contaminants.

--One person uses M8/M9 detector paper on the tip of a stick.

--Another person operates the M256 chemical agent detector kit.

Detailed operating instructions for the M256 are contained in the kit. For more information, see FM 3-6.

When you find chemical contamination, mark the area with NBC markers. You must service the automatic chemical agent alarm to ready it for further operation. You must be outside the contaminated area when the alarm is serviced. TM 3-6665-312-12&P provides instructions for operators and organizational personnel. Remount your vehicles and continue the recon. While moving, you send an NBC-4 report by radio. Follow this procedure each time you detect a chemical agent.


For warning of biological attacks or contamination outside a unit's immediate area, the unit relies on warnings relayed through their chain of command from division-level or higher units. MP help provide warning of biological hazards by their reports of area activity passed on from their route, zone, and area recons.

Use your senses to detect a local biological attack. Be alert to any sign that biological agents are being used. Promptly report any unusual occurrences of sickness in troops or civilians. Report also any unusual actions of animals or birds or large numbers of dead animals or birds not likely to have been caused by combat. Observe the types of weapons and munitions used during any attacks. Compare them to the known characteristics of enemy biological attacks. For detailed information on biological agent detection, identification, and defense, see FM 3-3.

Biological attacks are most likely to occur at night or during extended twilight to avoid toxin exposure to direct sunlight. (Direct sunlight degrades biological agents.) Cloudy and foggy days are also favorable for the use of biological agents. Watch for the following indications that a biological attack has occurred:

  • Low-flying aircraft that appear to be producing a mist or a spray.
  • The use of any type of spray device.
  • The use of ammunition that does not seem to have any immediate effect, such as a bomblet.
  • Unusual types of bomblets.
  • Insect swarms that suddenly appear after aircraft drop containers that do not seem to have any immediate effects.


A signed military route system, like the signed US highway system, can enable road users to reach their destinations by following route signs and road markings displayed along the roadside. MP patrols monitor signs on a routine basis, checking specific signs before critical moves. Engineers erect "permanent" signs. But signs can be damaged, destroyed, or moved by weather, saboteurs, and battle.

When MP on patrol encounter immediate and temporary MSR obstructions, like blown bridges or NBC contamination, they construct and erect signs quickly to guide vehicles around the obstructions. Prepare and post temporary signs to--

  • Identify routes.
  • Reroute traffic around problem areas.
  • Help convoys and units move quickly and easily to their destinations, even on an unfamiliar route.
  • Show drivers the locations of staging areas, tactical assembly areas, detours, key units, and facilities.
  • Give directions, distances, and general information.
  • Help lost military personnel find their way to the closest MP element.


Signs are placed where they will support the traffic control plan and the traffic circulation plan. Specific sign locations are shown on the traffic control plan overlay prepared at the PM operations section. Changes in sign locations are reflected on the traffic control plan overlay as signs are added or deleted.

Often one three-man team can place signs along a route. To post a sign, a team member dismounts and walks 50 to 100 meters up the road. The other team members provide security and check and confirm the sign's placement to ensure drivers will be able to see the sign.

More teams up to a squad, may be needed for a signing party in urban areas, in areas where a thorough reconnaissance has not been conducted, and in areas where the threat is unknown or is thought to be great. One team erects signs while those following provide overwatch security.

Use the following guidelines when placing signs:

  • Place hazard signs about 150 meters before the hazard.
  • Place regulatory signs where a regulation takes effect.
  • Place all signs on the side of the road facing the traffic flow, about one meter off the traveled way. Conceal them from air view. If no cover is available, slant the sign stake forward.
  • Place signs one to two meters above road level. Place all signs at the same height if possible. Sign height is governed by roadside foliage, by whether the route is in an urban or a rural area, and by day or night use. In urban areas, place signs so that they are not hidden by vehicles or pedestrians, do not hinder pedestrians, are out of reach of children, and can be seen at night with street lighting or vehicle sidelights. In open country, a good sign height is between thigh and knee height. This usually makes signs visible by day and night. Be sure signs are not obscured by foliage.
  • Use the least number of signs needed to be effective. Every sign must be necessary and specific.
  • Use more signs in urban areas than rural areas.
  • Use more signs on night routes than on daylight routes.
  • Use signs to inform drivers to follow the common route when one road is used for two signed routes. Use signs to inform drivers when the routes diverge.

Conceal all signs so that they are seen only from the direction from which they are approached. There is no exact rule stating the distance from which a sign should be visible. But the distance should be no greater than security allows and not less than is reasonable for those receiving directions.

Carefully conceal illuminated signs. The light source should be just strong enough to light the sign but not strong enough to be seen from the air. This entails masking and covering the light sources. Consider placing chemical light sticks on top of the signs.

Place temporary route signs where they will provide warning and reaction time for drivers. Do not block existing civilian signs. Place warning panels at convenient distances from where a route regulation takes effect. This distance can be shown on the panel. Example: BLACKOUT 500 METERS.

Place guide signs at road junctions to prevent confusion. Put signs on both sides of the road if needed. Place "confirmation" signs 150 meters beyond critical road junctions to let drivers know they are on the correct route.

Place detour signs next to general traffic signs to identify the detour. Place the detour sign to the side (left or right) of the general sign that corresponds to the new direction to be taken.

You can use signs to mark the entrance to a HO or an installation along with a halt sign or other regulatory signs. Signs marking turnoffs and roads or tracks should include a directional disk or a directional arrow. Place signs to--

  • Indicate where vehicles leave a signed route to get to the HQ or the installation.
  • Mark the road or track leading to the HQ or the installation.
  • Mark the entrance to the HQ or the installation.


Obtain signing materials, signs, paint, and wire through the Army supply system. In an emergency, use boards, shingles, or even cardboard. You may use a portable sign making kit (see Appendix I) to prepare signs when the signs will not conflict with STANAGs.

Preplanned route signing for convoys and units traveling long stretches of MSRs and link routes must be planned well in advance. It is a time-consuming and manpowerand material-intensive operation. Signs used for this type of route signing are built by Engineers or by MP battalion or company supply personnel. If you are tasked to take part in such an activity, ensure that after the signs have been constructed and coded for a particular route or operation, they are stored in a secure place to avoid compromise.


Place countdown signs at the beginning and the end of a route. Clearly mark start points and release points with appropriate countdown signs. Feeder routes to the start point may require signs to help convoys find it.

Mark route detours with countdown signs showing the distance to where the detour begins. The signs clearly indicate the route to be detoured. STANAG 2174 specifies white, diamond-shaped signs imprinted with black arrows.

Place countdown signs so they give clear warning of the end of the detour. Mark the end of the detour with a sign reading DETOUR END. Erect a warning sign at the end of the detour to show how to return to the original route.

You can position the detour signs ahead of time where terrain will require a defile or the like. Position the signs off the road, facedown on the ground. To implement the detour, you need only erect the signs.

The point where a link route meets the circuit is an ideal place for MP control. It is the point where the circuit and the link route begin and end.

Place signs at junctions of axial and lateral MSRs from all four directions. Place countdown signs 300, 200, and 100 meters before the junction.

To keep the number of signs to a minimum, battalion-size and smaller groups use a directional sign as specified in STANAG 2174. The space for the military symbol may contain the unit identification number (UIN) or the unit map marking symbol. Print the UIN or the symbol so that it can be read when the arrow is vertical. This allows the sign to be used as a disk direction.

Therefore, only one type of sign is needed for all purposes. Put unit signs in place immediately before a unit movement. Remove them as soon as possible after the move. See Appendix I for more information about signs.

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