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This appendix implements STANAGs 2010, 2035, and 2174

The signs used on military routes are uniform among NATO allies. Sign configuration is set by STANAGs. For details information on military route signs, see Chapter 8 of FM 5-36.


STANAG 2174 specifies that signs identifying MSRs do so by use of a number. But the STANAG permits commanders to supplement the required numbering with a pictorial symbol and/or a name. Names and pictures--

  • Are easier to identify and to remember than numbers.
  • Prevent confusion with link route signs marking the routes of units having three-figure identification numbers.
  • Prevent security compromises by removing the chance use of an identification number already used on a map overlay.

There are two types of MSRs, axial and lateral, in a theater of operations. On the theater of operation's traffic circulation plan--

  • Axial MSRs run to and from the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA) and are identified by odd numbers, like 87 or 215. Axial MSRs are shown as solid lines on the traffic circulation plan overlay. Axial routes are represented by a pictorial symbol on the route sign and are marked on the overlay as pictorial; for example, MSR CLUB (PIC). On axial MSRs, UP is toward the FEBA. It is shown on overlays and signs as a plain arrow. DOWN is away from the FEBA. It is shown as an arrow with a bar on the tail end.
  • Lateral MSRs run parallel to the FEBA and are identified by even numbers, like 86 or 214. Lateral MSRs are shown as broken lines on the traffic circulation plan overlay. Lateral routes are represented by a named route sign. The names are short, three- or four-letter words like FOX, ANT, or HEN. UP and DOWN on lateral MSRs show only general directions of travel. The general direction shown by UP or DOWN varies with the theater of operation and with the location of the FEBA. UP usually is to the north or east. DOWN usually is to the south or west. A plain arrow on an overlay or sign indicates UP; a barred arrow shows DOWN. To avoid confusion on lateral MSRs, the letters N, E, S, W, NE, SE, NW, and SW are used on route signs to show the general direction of movement.

All route signs must be large enough to be read easily in poor light. Size is not specified, but--

  • Signs for international use cannot be less than 40 centimeters x 33 centimeters.
  • Bridge classification signs must conform with STANAG 2010.


STANAG 2174 does not set requirements for the design of link-route signs. (Sometimes showing direction with a white arrow on a black background is enough.) A link route connects a unit or an activity to an MSR. A departing convoy follows the link-route signs to the MSR. The convoy follows the MSR until guided off the MSR by signs warning of the need to exit and again follow link-route signs until arriving at its destination. That part of a traveled route coinciding with an MSR will not have link route signs.


STANAG 2035 states that all HQ and parts of HQ, down to battalion or equivalent level, must be signed. Examples of HQ and installations to be signed are--

  • Medical installations.
  • Water points.
  • Ammunition depots.
  • TCPs.
  • Decontamination stations.
  • Fuel installations.

HQ and installation signs show the military symbol for the HQ or the installation. For HQ at brigade level and above, include the national distinguishing letters given in STANAG 1059. Except for signs marking a route and signs whose dimensions are shown in Annex C to STANAG 2174, the sizes of the sign and the symbol are not standardized. The symbol and the background must be of clearly contrasting colors. The actual colors used are left to the discretion of each nation.


STANAG 2174 specifies that a directional sign must be--

  • A white disk displaying a black directional arrow accompanied by a route identification number or name that can be mounted beneath the disk.
  • A white disk mounted or superimposed on a black rectangular board with the number or name on the board above the disk.

Directional disks cannot be less than 30 centimeters in diameter. The disks should have eight holes drilled at equal intervals around the circumference so they can be erected with the arrow pointing in the correct direction.

Directional signs show directions for axial and lateral routes on hastily prepared routes, or very temporary routes like detours. The initial sign shows the use of disk directional signs and orders drivers to follow the disk direction.

An MSR may require hundreds of signs. The signs can be made in quantity without the black arrow. Arrows can be stenciled or stuck on later. The superimposed signs are easiest to store and use. It is hard to secure the two elements of the circular two-piece signs, and it is hard to position that sign for display.

Use yellow instead of white for signs used during prolonged snowfall conditions or for signs permanently erected where there can be prolonged snowfalls.


A portable sign making kit (NSN 3610-01-219-6780) can greatly enhance signing capabilities. The sign kit is lightweight and simple to use. You can quickly make and post information or directional signs needed during rapid battlefield operations. The kit is suitable for both hasty and preplanned signing operations. It will begin replacing the silk screen set as it is issued one per squad to MP units with a BCC mission. The kit's items are expendable.

A significant difference between signs made with the kit and the specifications in STANAG 2174 exists. While STANAG route signs must have a black background with white letters, the backing material in the kit is white, plastic-faced, foam coreboard. (The white backing is more easily seen and more versatile than black backing. And various alcohol-based, colored markers and black stick-on letters, numbers, and arrows can be used on white backing to create signs.) The kit is most useful for low-intensity conflict and contingency operations. In NATO operations it mainly supports MP production of detour signs.


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