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Chapter 6
Health Considerations, Movement Security, and Civil Disturbances


6-31. Active patrolling and interaction with the local populace can alert US, HN, and multinational forces to the possibility of civil disturbances. Patrols can detect changes in daily patterns that may indicate the possibility of violence, observe new people who are not residents of the area, or receive information about upcoming disturbances from those whom they have befriended.

6-32. To combat civil disturbances, leaders apply the minimum force necessary to help HN authorities restore law and order. Leaders and Soldiers remain aware that the media often covers civil disturbances. Even when not covered, these disturbances are opportunities to shape the information environment positively toward the US and the HN forces and government. Combatting these disturbances may involve the following:

  • Maintain the essential distribution, transportation, and communications systems.
  • Set up roadblocks.
  • Cordon off areas.
  • Make a show of force.
  • Disperse or contain crowds.
  • Release riot control agents only when directed to do so. (Only the President can authorize US forces to use riot control agents.)
  • Serve as security forces or reserves.
  • Initiate needed relief measures, such as distributing food or clothing, or establishing emergency shelters.
  • Employ nonlethal munitions and equipment.

6-33. Leaders plan and prepare their units for encountering civil disturbances during counterinsurgency operations. Plans include not only how Soldiers and units react, but also the use of tactical PSYOP teams. Leaders coordinate with local civil police to establish lines of authority and responsibility when dealing with civilian disturbances. US military leaders ensure operations involving US forces and HN police conform to US law and policy.

6-34. When planning and preparing for civil disturbance operations, commanders emphasize prevention rather than confrontation. Once a confrontation occurs, military forces also deal with noncombatants that have internationally recognized rights. These rights must be respected while maintaining public order.

6-35. Military forces display fair and impartial treatment and adhere to the principle of minimum force.

6-36. Civil police apprehend, process, and detain civil law violators. Military forces perform these functions only when necessity dictates and to the minimum extent required. Return these functions to civil authorities as soon as possible.


6-37. Proportional and appropriate responses to civil disturbances are based on an analysis of the threat the disturbance poses. Factors to be considered are--

  • Crowd size. How many people are actually present? Of those, how many are combative (armed or unarmed), and what type people comprise the crowd (grown men, women, juveniles, children, or a mix)?
  • Motivator. Is this an individual leading the crowd or the crowd feeding on itself?
  • Driving force. What is the reason for the gathering/riot?
  • Emotions and intentions. Listen to what the crowd is saying. You may be able to de-escalate the situation (treat the crowd like an individual person, but remain observant for changes).
  • Crowd evaluation. Will the size of the force affect the crowd?
  • Movement or motion. Where is the crowd trying to go?
  • Type of crowd clothing. Light or full due to heat or heavy coats to protect due to cold. Clothing affects the type of munitions used and the aiming point.
  • Area and environment of the situation. This affects the types of munitions used.
  • Availability of gravel or rocks. These can be thrown at the control force.
  • Escape routes for the crowd. There should be at least two avenues of escape that the crowd can use.
  • Avenues of withdrawal for the control force. There must also be at least two avenues of withdrawal for the formation.


6-38. Control force leaders consider the following characteristics when assessing situations involving crowds:

  • Crowd type.
  • Crowd leadership.
  • Tactics the crowd is using.


6-39. There are four types of crowds:

  • Casual crowd. Required elements of the casual crowd are space and people.
  • Sighting crowd. Includes casual crowd elements and an event. The event provides the group's common bond.
  • Agitated crowd. Possesses the three elements of the sighting crowd plus the element of emotion.
  • Mob. Characterized by hostility and aggression. A mob is an agitated crowd involved in a physical activity.

6-40. To control the mob requires simultaneous actions. The primary goal is to reduce the emotional levels of the individuals within the mob. This action will de-escalate the aggressiveness and potential violence of the crowd. Physical force of some type may be necessary to quell the disturbance.


6-41. Leadership affects greatly the intensity and direction of crowd behavior. A skillful agitator can convert a group of resentful people into an angry mob and direct their aggression and anger toward the control group. The first person to start giving clear orders authoritatively is likely to be followed. Radical leaders can easily take charge, exploit the crowd's mood, and direct it toward a convenient target.

6-42. It is important to note that the leader of the crowd or group does not necessarily fit into one category. The leader may be combative, vocal, or seemingly low-key and may change roles as needed. Properly identifying the leader of an angry or potentially violent group and skillfully removing the leader without causing additional violence is key to defusing a potentially dangerous situation.


6-43. Crowd tactics can be unplanned or planned, violent or not. The more organized and purposeful a crowd becomes, the more likely the tactics used will have been planned. Organized mobs will try to defeat the control force by employing several different types of tactics. These tactics include--

  • Constructing barricades.
  • Using Molotov cocktails, rocks, slingshots, and smoke grenades.
  • Feinting and flanking actions.

6-44. Crowd behavior during a civil disturbance is essentially emotional and without reason. The feelings and the momentum generated have a tendency to cause the whole group to follow the example displayed by its worst members. Skillful agitators or subversive elements exploit these psychological factors during disorders. Regardless of the reason for violence, the results may consist of indiscriminate burning and looting, or open and violent attacks on officials, buildings, and innocent passersby. Rioters may set fire to buildings and vehicles to--

  • Block the advance of troops.
  • Create confusion and diversion.
  • Achieve goals of property destruction, looting, and sniping.

6-45. Mobs will often use various types of weapons against authorities. These include but are not limited to--

  • Verbal abuse.
  • Use of perceived innocents or weak persons (such as the elderly, women and children) as human shields.
  • Thrown and blunt impact objects (such as rocks, bricks, and clubs).
  • Vehicles and other large movable objects.
  • Firearms, explosives, and other pyrotechnic devices.


6-46. Individuals can be categorized according to what level of force they can use or what threat they present:

  • Complacent resisters. Complacent resisters are nonverbal. They look at you when you talk to them but do not reply in any way. They become limp when touched or forced to move their body. They can very quickly become violent and physically combative. Don't underestimate them.
  • Vocal resisters. Vocal resisters offer a verbal reply and, when touched, highlight themselves in an effort to gain the attention of the media.
  • Combative resisters. Combative resisters pose the greatest danger to the control force. They are not passive once they are touched. Place the individual in a prone position, cuff them, and remove them from the area. (See Appendix I.)


6-47. TPTs using loudspeakers can help control crowds and defuse potentially hostile situations. TPT members may be assigned as members of a planned quick reaction force or take part on the spur of the moment. In any case, proper planning, and a clear situational understanding are important to properly using TPTs.

6-48. The TPT leader assesses the situation by gathering as much information about the situation as quickly as possible. The clearer the leader's situational understanding, the more effectively the plan can be developed, prepared for, and executed. Use the supported unit and intelligence assets to find out what friendly units are in the area and use them to gather specific information. These assets may be ODAs, or military police. The following are examples of the type of information that should be gathered during planning:

  • Location of the crowd.
  • Size of crowd.
  • Known potential key communicators.
  • Agitators.
  • Are weapons present? If so, what types?
  • Apparent grievance.
  • Stated goals of the crowd.

6-49. During the initial stages of the disturbance the team monitors and attempts to identify facts and validate assumptions about the crowd. The TPT uses the following questions as a guide to gain as complete an understanding as possible of the disturbance:

  • Identify the key communicators or lead agitator.
  • What is his or her message? What is the general attitude or behavior of the group?
  • How many people are present in the group?
  • What are the demographics of the group (age and gender)?
  • What is the cultural composition of the group?
  • What language are they speaking?
  • How are they moving (mounted or dismounted)?
  • Are signs or banners present and, if so, what is the message?
  • Is there any media on site? If so, whom do they represent?
  • Are there any weapons present?
  • Who else is present at the location (police, elected public officials, nongovernmental organizations, civil affairs elements, or other organizations)? Do you have the officials' cell phone numbers?
  • Is the crowd from that community or have they come from another locale? If from another locale, where, why and how?
  • How did the people know or hear about the gathering, rally, or demonstration?
  • What are their stated objectives or underlying grievances for the event?

6-50. When the commander directs the TPT to broadcast in this environment, the team adheres to the following guidelines:

  • Give simple directions that are clear and concise.
  • Always maintain composure. When constructing messages, avoid using the word "please" so the team does not display a passive appearance.
  • Do not issue ultimatums that are not approved by the commander.
  • If the commander does approve an ultimatum, ensure that the crowd has time to conform to its conditions.
  • Ensure the supported commander is prepared to act upon the ultimatum, should the crowd fail to respond favorably.
  • Use approved lines of persuasion when possible. Conduct impromptu broadcasting only as a last resort.
  • Always rehearse with the translator prior to going "live" unless the situation makes this absolutely impossible.
  • Ensure the gender and other social aspects of the translator are credible in the eyes of the crowd.
  • Always attempt to pick a broadcast position that communicates effectively with the crowd and does not compromise the security of the team.
  • Direct the broadcast toward the primary agitators.
  • Limit the volume of the broadcast so as not to be overbearing, and do not harass the crowd as this may only exacerbate the situation.

6-51. The team maintains communication with the supported commander or his or her representative on the ground throughout the situation. The team leader also ensures PSYOPrelevant, HUMINT, and priority intelligence requirement information are forwarded through appropriate channels.


6-52. Four elements make up the basic crowd control formation:

  • Base element. This is the front line of the formation. This element is made up of two ranks. The first rank is shield holders while the second rank contains the nonlethal weapons.
  • Support element. The support element forms in a column formation behind the base element. It may be used to replace the base element members as needed or provide lateral or direct support. It performs extraction team operations.
  • Command element. A general configuration for the command element is the platoon leader, platoon sergeant, radio operator, and when required, the interpreter, riot control agent dispenser operator, and video recorder operator.
  • Lethal overwatch element. The lethal overwatch element is a team task formed from reserve security forces.

Figure 6-7. Common Control Force Formations and Commands.


6-53. The most frequently used control force formations are the line, echelon, and wedge. Two formations used infrequently are the diamond and circle.


6-54. Use a line formation to move a crowd without dividing it or move it away from an object or place. (See Figure 6-8).

Figure 6-8. Platoon Line


6-55. The echelon is an offensive formation used to turn or divert groups in either open or builtup areas and to move crowds away from buildings, fences, and walls. (See Figures 6-9, 610, and 6-11.)

Figure 6-9. Platoon Echelon Left

Figure 6-10. Platoon echelon left with 2nd Squad in direct support.

Figure 6-11. Platoon Echelon Left with 2nd Squad in Lateral Support


6-56. The wedge is an offensive formation that is used to penetrate and split crowds into smaller groups. (See Figures 6-12 and 6-13.)

Figure 6-12. Platoon Wedge Figure

6-13. Platoon Wedge with Right Lateral Support


6-57. A diamond formation is used to enter a crowd. It is the formation of choice for extraction teams. As a defensive formation, the diamond is used when all-around security is required, such as in open areas. (See Figure 6-14.)

Figure 6-14. Platoon Diamond Formation


6-58. The circle formation is used for the same purposes as the diamond formation. The decision to use either the diamond or circle formation is based on the conformation of the crowd. (See Figure 6-15.)

Figure 6-15. Platoon Circle


6-59. Vehicles may be employed with troops in control force formation especially when a large rioting crowd is on hand. When using vehicles, cover the windshield with sturdy, close mesh fencing and the standard safety glass. Create a buffer space between the two surfaces.

6-60. Shields and or mobile barriers may be built by mounting a wooden or metal frame strung with barbed wire across the front of a vehicle.

6-61. Members of the formation should walk as near to the front corners of each vehicle as possible to keep rioters from attacking the sides and rear of the vehicles. 6-62. When up-armored HMMWVs or other armored vehicles are used in crowd control formations, leaders ensure that they are able to see and control the formation.


6-63. Leaders choose their options based on an assessment of the crowd. Leaders select the combination of control techniques and force options they believe will influence the particular situation most effectively (based on METT-TC). Leaders choose the response they expect to reduce the intensity of the situation. Options to consider for crowd control are--

  • Monitor the crowd to gather intelligence and observe to determine whether leaders have emerged, volatility has increased, and movement.
  • Block the crowd's advance upon a facility or area. Disperse the crowd in order to prevent injury or prevent the destruction of property.
  • Contain the crowd to limit it to the area it is occupying. This prevents it from spreading to surrounding areas and communities.


6-64. Dispersal may result in a crowd breaking into multiple groups, causing greater problems and continued threat to the control forces. A contained crowd has a limited duration; their numbers are likely to diminish as individual needs take precedence over those of the crowd. 6-65. Issue a proclamation to assist with dispersing a crowd. (See examples at Figure 6-16, page 6-20.) A proclamation officially establishes the illegal nature of a crowd's actions, and it puts the populace on official notice regarding the status of their actions. If a proclamation is issued, ensure action is taken to enforce it. Nonaction will be seen as a sign of weakness. When issuing a proclamation, remember the following:

  • Intent cannot exceed response capability.
  • Do not disclose the type of force/munitions to be used.


6-66. Use the following techniques to control crowds:

  • Ensure that ROE, levels of force and uses, and the commander's intent (to include non lethal weapon and lethal options, if necessary) are clearly understood by all.
  • Determine in advance the recent psychological characteristics of demonstrations and mobs.
  • Identify local HN, community, and tribal officials in advance. Know their office and cell phone numbers.
  • Establish command relationships and the authority to fire nonlethal weapons munitions.
  • Make an extraction plan and have flexible withdrawal drills.
  • Always maintain a lethal overwatch of a control force. When marksmen are deployed, keep them covered and out-of-sight. Designated marksman teams build confidence in the members of the control force.
  • Always maintain a reserve force to reinforce the control force. Hold reserves out-ofsight.
  • Know who the media representatives are and where they are located. Ask them in advance the theme of any story and information they are developing.
  • Be reasonable and balanced. However, a mob's perceived lack of risk encourages rioters.
  • Move the crowd, but don't smash them. They will fight if smashed.
  • Maximize distance and barriers between crowd and control formations. Use nonlethal weapons munitions to create a standoff distance.
  • If the use of force level escalates to a deadly force, adjusted aim points (head shots) with nonlethal weapons munitions can produce lethal effects.
  • Create nonlethal weapons range cards for static positions.
  • Consider environmental conditions and their effect on the performance of less-thanlethal munitions.
  • Keep in mind the potential for a lethal outcome is possible in all types of missions.


6-67. The force applied will continually change dependent on the threat levels and ROE. 6-68. As the threat increases or decreases, the level of force increases or decreases based on ROE.


6-69. The M9 pistol is the weapon of choice for extraction/apprehension teams.

6-70. Use of the M203 grenade launcher and 12-gauge shotgun are recommended with nonlethal weapons munitions capability, especially for overwatch of frontline personnel.

6-71. Add nonstandard weapons, such as shotguns, for a greater nonlethal weapons capability. Example: the shotgunner is used to protect the M203 gunner as he reloads.

6-72. Balance weapons mix and munitions according to METT-TC.

6-73. Soldiers in the front line of the formation should be armed with their standard weapon carried across the back, butt up and muzzle down. The weapon is cleared and the magazine is in the appropriate ammo pouch.

Figure 6-16. Examples of Proclamations

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