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The definitions in the following paragraphs provide a common basis for discussing lane marking.

Entrance Markers

Entrance markers indicate the start of a reduced lane through an obstacle. They signify the friendly-side limit of the obstacle and the point at which movement is restricted by the lane width and path. Entrance markers are placed to the left and the right of the entrance point and spaced the width of the reduced lane. They must be visually different from handrail markers to help the force distinguish this critical point in the lane.

Handrail Markers

Handrail markers define the lane path through the obstacle and indicate the limits of the lane width. As a minimum, mounted and dismounted lanes will have a left handrail marker. Mounted and dismounted forces moving through the lane should keep the left handrail marker immediately to their left. As the operation progresses, lane marking may be upgraded to include left and right handrail markers.

Exit Markers

Exit markers indicate the far side of the reduced lane through an obstacle. Like entrance markers, exit markers must be distinguishably different from handrail markers; however, the exit may be marked the same as the entrance. Exit markers are placed to the left and the right of the exit point and spaced the width of the reduced lane. This visual reference is critical when only the left handrail is marked. The combination of entrance markers, left handrail markers, and exit markers provide the driver and the tank commander with visual cues so that they can safely pass through a reduced lane.

Entrance Funnel Markers

Entrance funnel markers augment entrance marking. The V formed by a funnel marker forces the platoon into a column and helps drivers and tank commanders make last-minute adjustments before entering a lane.

Final-Approach Markers

Final-approach markers are highly visible, robust markers that augment the visual signature of entrance funnel markers. They are critical when initial assault forces must maneuver to the breaching site. Normally, the initial assault force can observe the breaching area but cannot clearly distinguish entrance funnel markers. Final-approach markers provide the assault force commander with a highly visible RP toward which to maneuver his formation. They also signal company team commanders to begin changing from combat column to column formation, with platoons in combat column.

Far Recognition Markers

Far recognition markers are highly visible markers that are located between the final-approach marker and the friendly unit. They are primarily used when passing forces are denied direct observation of the final-approach marker due to distance, visibility, or terrain. When possible, far recognition markers should be different from the final-approach marker. Far recognition markers indicate the point at which forces begin changing their formation to posture for the passage. A single far recognition marker may serve up to two initial breach lanes. Once lanes are upgraded to two-way traffic, far recognition markers are required for each two-way lane. When a far recognition marker serves more than one lane, a guide or a traffic-control post (TCP) is collocated with the far recognition marker that is nearest to the breach.

Guides and Traffic-Control Posts

A TCP or a guide consists of a two-man team with communications means. The team assists the commander in controlling the movement of forces. When possible, military police (MP) should man TCPs. However, the commander may initially use other personnel as guides to man critical far recognition markers until the MP establish full TCPs. TCPs and guides provide the commander with a man on the ground who controls traffic flow to the appropriate lanes. When there are multiple lanes branching off a single far recognition marker, the TCP can assist in breaking parts of the formation off into various lanes. The TCP can also help modify the traffic flow when lanes have been closed for maintenance, for lane expansion, or by enemy SCATMINEs. The guide or TCP must give the assault force commander the azimuth and distance to the final-approach marker, identify the device used for the final-approach marker, and provide the level of the lane-marking pattern. For light forces, guides may physically escort passing units from the far recognition marker to the lane entrance.


The three standard levels of marking for breach lanes and bypasses are initial, intermediate, and full.

Each lane-marking level provides an increase in lane signature and capability. Lane requirements change as a breaching operation matures from an initial breach to the forward passage of large combat forces.

Initial lane-marking requirements are driven by the nature of the fight through the obstacle. Marking must be rapid, providing only the bare minimum signature needed to pass small units who make up the initial assault force. This contrasts with the lane requirements of later phases of an offense where larger units are passed to subsequent objectives. Here, the lane signature must be more extensive and more visible, because it must guide larger forces over a greater distance to the lane's entrance without interruption. Two-way traffic becomes a priority for the simultaneous forward passage of combat units as well as the return traffic (such as ambulances and empty supply vehicles) that is necessary to sustain the force. Lane-marking limits must be absolutely clear to the most inexperienced driver or crewman. A fully developed lane must support two-way traffic and be completely marked.

Bypasses are not marked the same as lanes. They are marked with directional panels indicating the direction of the bypass. The limits of the mine threat must be marked to prevent friendly forces from entering the minefield. Marking the direction of the bypass and the minefield limits will enable the maneuvering element to bypass the minefield without having to unnecessarily defile through a marked lane. Further information on bypass marking can be found in FM 90-13-1.

Commanders must be aware of how the needs of the force change with the operation so that they can anticipate lane-marking and lane-capability requirements. Integrating the levels of lane marking into the overall breaching plan ensures that the unit's needs are satisfied. Forces necessary to mark, maintain, and upgrade lanes must be allocated and tasked with the mission. The phases of the scheme of maneuver and the service-support plan are the basis for analyzing lane requirements. The following paragraphs describe lane-marking patterns in detail and provide guidelines on when the commander should upgrade lane marking and lane capability.

Initial Lane Marking

Initial lane marking (Figure 10-22) is emplaced by the breach force immediately after the lane is reduced and proofed. It provides a signal to the assault force commander that the lane is ready for traffic. Initial lane marking is kept to a minimum, centering on markings needed to pass immediate assault forces through the lane to seize the initial foothold on the objective. Normally, the assault force can observe the breach and does not need the more visual signature of a mature lane marking. The initial lane-marking pattern has the following markers:

  • Entrance.
  • Exit.
  • Left handrail.
  • Entrance funnel.
  • Final-approach.

Figure 10-22. Initial lane marking

The entrance, left handrail, and exit markers are the first markers emplaced by the breach force because they define the location and the limits of the reduced lane.

  • Entrance markers are placed to the left and the right of the reduced lane's entrance point, and they are spaced the width of the lane (4.5 meters for mounted lanes, 1 meter for dismounted lanes).
  • Left handrail markers are placed at the left limit of the lane, along the entire path. Handrail markers are placed at 15-meter intervals for mounted forces and at 5-meter intervals for dismounted forces. Commanders may have to modify the intervals based on the terrain, the visibility, the lane length, and the lane path.
  • Exit markers are placed to the left and the right of the reduced lane's exit point, and they are spaced the width of the lane (4.5 meters for mounted lanes, 1 meter for dismounted lanes).

Once the entrance, left handrail, and exit markers are emplaced, the breach force emplaces the entrance funnel markers and the final-approach marker.

  • Entrance funnel markers are placed at 15-meter intervals for mounted forces and at 5-meter intervals for dismounted forces. They are placed diagonal to the lane entrance and form a 45-degree V (Figure 10-22).
  • The final-approach marker is centered on the lane and placed at least 200 meters from the lane entrance for mounted forces. For dismounted forces, the nature of the attack may initially preclude using a final-approach marker; however, as soon as the mission allows, a final-approach marker is placed 30 meters from the entrance. Final-approach markers for mounted and dismounted forces must be placed on high ground to ensure that they are clearly visible. The commander may modify the recommended distance for the final-approach marker, based on the terrain and the visibility.

Intermediate Lane Marking

Upgrading initial lane marking to intermediate lane marking (Figure 10-23) is triggered by one of two key events--the commitment of larger combat forces who are unable to directly observe the breach or the rearward passage of sustainment traffic (casualty evacuation and vehicle recovery). Intermediate lane marking has two goals:

  • Increasing the lane signature to help the passage of larger, more distant combat forces.
  • Providing sufficient marking for two-way, single-lane traffic.

Figure 10-23. Intermediate lane marking

Intermediate lane marking builds on initial lane marking by adding right handrail markers, exit funnel markers, far recognition markers, and a farside final-approach marker.

The commander sets the priority of marker emplacement based on the situation. If the scheme of maneuver requires the immediate passage of larger combat forces, the right handrail markers and the far recognition marker may be the priority. On the other hand, if it is necessary to ground evacuate casualties or to recover vehicles, emplacing right handrail markers, exit funnel markers, and a farside final-approach marker may be required first.

When upgrading to intermediate marking, the first step is to emplace the right handrail markers. Right handrail markers define the rightmost limit of the lane. They are placed the width of the lane as defined by the entrance and exit markers. The right handrail follows a path parallel to the left handrail through the obstacle. Right handrail markers are placed at the same interval as left handrail markers.

Exit funnel markers and a farside final-approach marker are emplaced to mirror the entrance markers. Exit funnel markers prevent the premature deployment of the passing force into combat formation before it is safely outside the obstacle. They also become the entrance funnel markers for rearward passing traffic, giving these forces the visual cues needed to line themselves up on the lane. The exit funnel markers are augmented by a farside final-approach marker to help rearward passing forces clearly identify the lane from their side. The farside final-approach marker is centered on the lane and placed 200 meters (mounted forces) or 30 meters (dismounted forces) from the exit.

A far recognition marker completes intermediate lane marking. It provides commanders with a visual signature or a series of signatures for guiding their movement toward the lane. For mounted forces, the far recognition marker nearest to the breach lane is placed 500 meters from the lane entrance or on the nearest terrain feature. Dismounted forces may require a system of guides instead of far recognition markers for passing combat forces; however, far recognition markers must be emplaced as soon as possible to reduce guide requirements for passing mounted sustainment traffic. This gives the assault force commander the space needed to transition his formation to companies in combat column. Far recognition markers may be emplaced before or concurrent with exit markers, based on the mission and the situation.

The commander collocates guides or TCPs at the far recognition marker when he feels the situation requires more positive control over traffic flow. Commanders should plan for the use of full-time guides once they have upgraded to intermediate marking. TCPs become mission-critical during limited visibility or in restrictive terrain. They should also be used when a single far recognition marker feeds more than one breach lane. TCPs must be manned with a minimum of two soldiers and must have FM communications with the controlling headquarters. It is essential that soldiers acting as guides or TCPs know the--

  • Azimuth and distance to the breach lane and the 8-digit grid coordinate of the lane.
  • Level of lane marking.
  • Type of final-approach marker used.
  • Traffic-control plan and march order.
  • Up-to-date status of lane marking, maintenance, and so forth.

Full Lane Marking

Expanding breach lanes to full (two-way) lane marking (Figure 10-24) is resource-intensive and is not normally a part of an initial breach operation. A fully matured lane is one that will support uninterrupted, two-way traffic. Expanding a breach lane to a full lane involves expanding the width of the lane to accommodate two-way traffic and modifying the marking pattern to give forward and rearward passing forces the same visual signature. Upgrading to a full lane is normally assigned to follow-on engineer forces, since it is usually beyond the immediate capability of engineers with forward units.

Figure 10-24. Full lane marking

Upgrading intermediate lane marking to full lane marking begins by temporarily closing the lane, rerouting traffic, and expanding the lane width. The initial reduced and proofed lane is always expanded to the left, in relation to the direction of the attack. Engineers reduce and proof the obstacle beginning at the left handrail to give a total lane width of 10 meters (5 meters each way). The expansion width requirement is the same for armored and light forces, because both forces must be able to pass mounted sustainment and combat forces during this phase.

Once the engineers expand the lane width to 10 meters, they ensure that entrance, exit, handrail, funnel, and final-approach markers are replaced on the return lane. All markings are the same as described in previous paragraphs.

The full lane-marking pattern has three entrance and three exit markers. They are placed the width of forward and return lanes and are visually different from other markers. Units must be trained to recognize that three entrance markers indicate a two-way traffic lane and that they should always use the rightmost lane.

Entrance and exit funnel markers are placed slightly different from previous marking patterns. They extend out from the entrance and exit markers on the right side only.

Final-approach markers are placed 200 meters from, and centered on, entrances of forward and return lanes. This helps forces clearly identify the entrance points from either direction.

Far recognition markers are placed a maximum of 500 meters from the lane entrance or on the nearest terrain feature from forward and return final-approach markers.


Table 10-1 provides a summary of lane-marking levels, guidelines on unit responsibilities, and events that trigger lane upgrade. In the table, who refers to the unit responsible for lane upgrade marking and when describes events that trigger the need to upgrade.

Table 10-1. Lane marking

  Breach Type Initial Intermediate Full
Who Deliberate TF breach force TF breach force Brigade
Covert TF breach force TF breach force Brigade
In-Stride Breaching company or team TF mobility reserve Brigade
Assault Assaulting platoon TF assault force NA
When All Lanes are reduced Passing battalion- or company-size forces Passing brigade- or battalion-size forces
Passing platoon- or company-size assault forces Passing a force which cannot see the lane Situation requires uninterrupted sustainment traffic
Passing TF combat trains
Markers All Entrance Add right handrail Expand lane width to 10 meters
Exit Add funnel exit Adjust entrance and exit
Left handrail Add farside final-approach Adjust left and right handrails to new width
Funnel entrance Add far recognition Adjust final-approach
Final-approach Add guides or TCPs Add far recognition
Add guides or TCPs


The majority of lane marking in the field is done by using nonstandard marking devices. When adopting a nonstandard marking device, commanders should consider the guidelines summarized in Table 10-2.

Table 10-2. Guidelines for lane-marking devices

Marker Mounted Forces Dismounted Forces
Handrail and funnel markers Visible by TC and driver (buttoned up) from 50 meters Visible by a dismounted soldier in a prone position from 15 meters
Quick and easy to emplace, minimizing the need to expose soldiers outside the carrier Lightweight, quick, and easy to emplace (a dismounted soldier should be able to carry enough markers for the lane and still be able to fire and maneuver)
Entrance and exit markers Visible by TC buttoned up from 100 meters Visible by a dismounted soldier from 50 meters
Visually different from handrail and funnel markers Visually different from handrail and funnel markers
Quick and easy to emplace (may require soldiers to dismount to emplace) Lightweight, quick, and easy to emplace
Easily man-portable
Final-approach and far recognition markers Visible by TC (not buttoned up) from 500 meters Visible by a dismounted soldier on the march from 100 meters
Visually different from each other Visually different from each other
Visually alterable to facilitate traffic control through multiple lanes Visually alterable to facilitate traffic control through multiple lanes

Figure 10-25 shows some of the devices that can be utilized for lane marking, and they are easily procured or fabricated. This is not an inclusive listing but is intended to show commanders some of the options.

Figure 10-25. Marking devices

Some general requirements for lane marking are--

  • Markers must be able to withstand the rigors of the terrain, the weather, and the battlefield.
  • Markers should be easy to modify, using minimal manpower and equipment, when visibility is limited.
  • Lane-marking panels should have thermal and IR reflective marking so that they can be easily identified during limited visibility.
  • Enhancements for limited visibility should be a constant source rather than a pulsating strobe. Strobes do not make the marking pattern readily apparent, particularly when approaching from an angle.

The following standard marking sets are available through normal supply channels:

  • Minefield marking set number 2, line item number (LIN): M49096, NSN: 9905-00-375-9180.
  • HEMMS, LIN: M49483, NSN: 9905-01-019-0140.


The following paragraphs paraphrase the lane-marking requirements outlined in STANAGs 2889 and 2036. They also establish the procedures used by US forces to modify intermediate and full lane marking to STANAG standard. With the combined nature of warfare, commanders need to be aware of their responsibilities for marking hazardous areas, particularly breach lanes.

STANAGs 2889 and 2036 state that the type of marking device, pattern, and lighting used to mark breach lanes in forward areas is at the discretion of national authorities or the authorized commander. This gives commanders who are participating in a combined operation the flexibility to mark lanes consistent with their respective Army's standard. It also outlines minimum requirements for the lane-marking pattern before it is used by troops of other nations; however, commanders must plan for converting a lane to NATO standard as early as possible. When converting to NATO standard, the STANAG directs commanders to use lane-marking devices as stated below. Within an offensive operation, marking a lane to NATO standard will not normally occur until after the lane is matured to a full lane.

Marking Pattern and Device

The intermediate lane marking discussed earlier satisfies the minimum lane-marking pattern that must be used before forces from another country are able to pass through a lane. STANAGs 2889 and 2036 state that regardless of the marking device used, the entrance point, exit point, and left and right handrails are the minimum required lane signature. Therefore, once the lane is marked to the intermediate level, allied forces can use the lane without any additional marking.

STANAG 2889 requires that commanders convert marking devices to NATO standard as early as possible. Figure 10-26 shows a NATO standard marker. The marker is placed at right angles to the direction of travel, so that the white portion of the arrow points inward to the lane, indicating the safe side of the lane. The red portion is outward, indicating the lane limit or dangerous side of the lane. STANAG 2889 also requires that markers be large enough to be visible from 50 meters under most daylight conditions and have a field life of 60 days.

Figure 10-26. NATO standard marker

Conversion to NATO Standard Marking

To convert intermediate and full lane marking to NATO standard, affix NATO markers to long pickets and replace the existing entrance, exit, funnel, and handrail markers one for one (Figure 10-27).

Figure 10-27. NATO lane-marking conversion

Two NATO markers are used for entrance and exit markers to make them distinctly different. One NATO marker is affixed to each funnel marker and to each left and right handrail marker. When converting full lane marking, the center handrail is marked with a modified NATO marker. The combination of a modified center handrail marker and directional arrows at each lane entrance provides allied forces with the signature necessary to distinguish two separate lanes. In addition, a barbwire or concertina fence (one strand minimum) is laid 1 meter above the ground to connect funnel markers, entrance markers, handrail markers, and exit pickets.

NATO uses white or green lights to illuminate markers at night (Figure 10-28). Entrance and exit markers are marked with two green or white lights placed horizontally, so that the safe and dangerous markings on them are clearly visible. One white or green light is used on funnel and handrail markers. The commander decides whether the light is placed on top of the NATO marker or placed so that it illuminates the markers. Lights must be visible from a minimum of 50 meters under most conditions and have a continuous life of 12 hours.

Figure 10-28. NATO standard marking for limited visibility

The mission to convert intermediate or full lane marking to NATO standard is normally assigned to corps-level engineer battalions working in the division rear area. In special cases, divisional engineer battalions may be tasked with NATO marking.

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