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     The purpose of tactical movement is to move units on the battlefield either to initiate contact with the enemy or to reach a destination when contact with the enemy along the way is possible. Movement is not maneuver. Maneuver happens once a unit has made contact with the enemy. This chapter focuses on the movement techniques and formations that combine to provide the platoon leader with options for moving his unit. The various techniques and formations have unique advantages and disadvantages. Some are secure yet slow while others are faster but less secure. Some formations work well in certain types of terrain or tactical situations but are less effective in others. The command and control equipment available to the SBCT infantry battalion reconnaissance platoon significantly enhances the platoon's ability to conduct effective tactical movement, both day and night.
     Many times the platoon must plan, rehearse, and execute a combination of mounted and dismounted movement. The platoon operates with and without vehicle support, so section and platoon leaders must understand how to move and maneuver in either tactical situation. Movement during dismounted operations is similar to mounted movement but requires more command and control due to the decentralized nature of the task. Compared to mounted operations, dismounted movement techniques and formations require as much—or more—detail during the planning phase.


This paragraph discusses the technological advantages of the mobility systems and C3 subsystems of the reconnaissance platoon as operational aids for planning, navigating, controlling, and executing combat operations.

a.   Navigation. Position navigation (POSNAV) assists in land navigation but does not replace the need for basic navigational skills. Leaders use POSNAV aids to identify their location and the location of subordinate and adjacent units. These aids also provide directional information for movement and target acquisition, and they augment operational planning graphics such as checkpoints, boundaries, coordination points, and phase lines. Platoon and section leaders and VCs use position updates from their navigation systems and analog information to assist in following their planned routes. Position updates include, as a minimum, the locations of the platoon leader, his section leaders, and vehicles. Before each mission, the leader designates the duration between digital and analog position updates. Each section leader and VC should have, as a minimum, the locations of every element in the platoon on his C3 subsystem. This information allows the platoon leader to disperse his unit during movement.

(1)   During dismounted movement, the section leader allows the lead team to move along covered and concealed routes as long as it does not deviate too far from the axis, route, or direction of attack. Technology aids, such as the GPS, can assist the sections in location positioning during movement and allow the sections to move using predetermined waypoints as guides. The section leader must continue to use route planning, mechanical navigational aids, visual observation of terrain features, and manual techniques to ensure that the sections are in proper position. Leaders may detach small security elements from the main body to provide early warning by acting as an advance guard or as guides along a route.

(2)   During mounted movement, leaders use their commander's tactical display (CTD) to monitor the company, platoon, and sections. The POSNAV enables mounted elements to use greater dispersion during movement without losing awareness of vehicle positions. When dismounted, the platoon leader or platoon sergeant should transmit his position location to direct the mounted elements into positions of greater advantage to provide support and maintain digital connectivity with the battalion. Technology can assist in navigational planning and execution, but soldiers, and especially leaders, should be trained and able to navigate and send accurate reports, day or night, using all methods of navigation.

b.   Route Planning. The leader analyzes the terrain for routes that provide protection from direct and indirect fires and from ground and aerial observation. The routes should facilitate mission accomplishment within the limitations of boundaries and allow freedom of maneuver.

(1)   The platoon leader receives the obstacle overlay and the situational template overlay from the commander to identify reported enemy and obstacle locations. He also receives the commander's operations overlay to identify graphic control measures impacting on his route planning. The platoon leader then plans his routes.

(2)   The leader identifies adjacent units and creates additional graphic control measures as needed on his operations overlay. The additional graphic control measures may include routes of march, coordination points, passage points, and boundaries for subordinate units.

(3)   The leader plots waypoints on easily recognizable terrain and on significant turns on the route for ease in navigation. As he moves along the prescribed route or axis of advance during execution, the leader navigates from waypoint to waypoint and reports locations using the waypoints as checkpoints or phase lines. A good technique is to plot the waypoints to coincide with other graphic control measures such as checkpoints and rally points or significant terrain features. These techniques are applicable either mounted or dismounted. Do not replace operational graphics with an over-reliance on waypoint land navigation techniques.

c.   Maps. Digital maps and overlays provide the platoon with a common operating picture of the terrain and operational graphics. Leaders must maintain a paper map with an acetate operational graphics overlay in case of system failures. Do not rely totally on technology. Leaders and soldiers must remain proficient in using basic land navigation and terrain orientation skills. They use the POSNAV capabilities of the C3 subsystem as an enhancement to tactical navigation and not as a replacement. A system failure, an inability of the GPS to acquire satellites, or a lag time in position updates could prove disastrous in combat if the leader relies solely on the system.

d.   Control Measures. The command and control system software on the RV can create most standard graphic control measures used at platoon level. However, the screen may display only a small portion of the platoon's area of operations. The screens are relatively small and easily become cluttered with control measures. This problem increases with the addition of position updates and friendly and enemy icons during the mission.

(1)   If using only the FBCB2 software, the commander must use only the necessary graphic control measures and icons for the mission to ensure clarity. The system features layered overlays that allow leaders to selectively post overlays based on the tactical situation. The vehicle commander can retrieve the operational overlay on one layer, the enemy situation template on another layer, the fire support overlay on another, and so forth.

(2)   Technology can enhance movement and route planning for operations, but platoon and section leaders must create concept sketches for briefing to the platoon. The software should not limit the platoon leader's planning and use of control measures and operational graphics.

e.   Limited Visibility Navigation. Navigation during limited visibility conditions is easier for the digitized platoon with the introduction of POSNAV and limited visibility equipment. This equipment has greater optics resolution, which allows the leader to read his map and terrain association during mounted movement in limited visibility. Additionally, drivers and VCs have night-vision devices to aid in navigation. All leaders within the platoon must ensure that their subordinates continuously wear their night-vision devices when moving dismounted. The platoon should also develop SOPs for limited visibility marking to aid in command and control at night.


During mounted and dismounted movement, the platoon employs combat formations when the terrain supports their use or when the mission or reconnaissance objective is very focused.

a.   Dismounted Formations. When the platoon conducts dismounted movement, the factors of METT-TC determine the formation of the dismounted element. Vehicles must be located where enemy elements can not observe them. In addition, digital communications are to be maintained between the dismounted and vehicular elements. The platoon leadership must keep in perspective that during dismounted operations there is always an information-gathering element and a control and security element (Figures 3-1 and 3-2), and they should resource each operation accordingly. Chapter 4 of this manual discusses dismounted movement techniques in detail. FM 3-21.9 provides additional information on infantry platoon dismounted formations.

Figure 3-1. Team dismounted formation.

Figure 3-1. Team dismounted formation.

Figure 3-2. Section dismounted formation.

Figure 3-2. Section dismounted formation.

b.   Mounted Formations. The six mounted reconnaissance platoon formations are line, wedge, column, staggered column, coil, and herringbone. Movement into and out of the various formations must be second nature to each section. Formations are intended to be flexible and easily modified to fit the situation, terrain, and combat losses. They do not have exact geometric dimensions and design.

(1)   Line Formation. This formation can be used regardless of the platoon organization and is applicable to most reconnaissance platoon missions. It allows the platoon to cover the most ground systematically with maximum reconnaissance forward (Figure 3-3).

Figure 3-3. Two-section platoon line formation.

Figure 3-3. Two-section platoon line formation.

(2)   Wedge Formation. This formation uses the two-section organization. The platoon maintains relative positioning based on terrain and combat losses. The wedge lends itself to immediate mutual support and provides depth; it is very flexible. Using any of the techniques of movement, the two forward vehicles perform all of the information gathering and reporting. The rear vehicles provide overwatch and command and control (Figure 3-4).

Figure 3-4. Two-section platoon wedge formation.

Figure 3-4. Two-section platoon wedge formation.

(3)   Column Formation. The platoon uses the column formation when speed is essential as it moves on a designated route (Figure 3-5). The column offers protection to the flanks but little to the front and rear. Normally, the platoon leader briefs the section leaders on the route and speed and then allows the lead section to control the column movement. This frees the platoon leader to concentrate on the subsequent mission, thus enhancing command and control. It does not, however, relieve him of the responsibility of tracking the move on his map. The order of march in the column may depend on which organization the platoon will use at the end of the movement; in addition, the lead section may vary based on METT-TC considerations. When conducting movement in a secure area, it is appropriate to specify the order of march by SOP.

Figure 3-5. Platoon column formation.

Figure 3-5. Platoon column formation.

(4)   Staggered Column Formation. The staggered column is used for rapid movement across open terrain. It affords all-round observation and fields of fire. Figure 3-6 shows the platoon in the staggered column in a two-section organization with the heavy section leading.

Figure 3-6. Platoon staggered column formation.

Figure 3-6. Platoon staggered column formation.

(5)   Coil Formation. The platoon coil provides all-round security during halts. Each vehicle has a particular position to occupy in the coil. The platoon leader designates the orientation of the coil using a cardinal direction. (In the absence of orders, the direction of travel becomes 12 o'clock.) The reconnaissance platoon should develop a coil SOP based on its mission-essential task list (METL), war plans, and most frequently used organizations. The platoon should then practice this SOP as a drill so that correct execution of the coil becomes automatic. The platoon always executes the coil from the column or staggered column, using the four-vehicle organization. The lead vehicle occupies the 12 o'clock position, and the other vehicles occupy the 3, 9, and 6 o'clock positions in accordance with the order of march. Vehicles are positioned 100 to 150 meters apart (Figure 3-7).

Figure 3-7. Example platoon coil formation.

Figure 3-7. Example platoon coil formation.

(6)   Herringbone Formation. The herringbone provides 360-degree security during a temporary halt from a march column (Figure 3-8). Troops should dismount to provide greater security. The formation may be widened to permit passage of vehicles down the center of the column. All vehicles should move completely off the road if terrain allows.

Figure 3-8. Platoon herringbone formation.

Figure 3-8. Platoon herringbone formation.


The reconnaissance platoon employs movement techniques for a number of reasons (to minimize exposure, maintain freedom of movement, maximize available tactical options, and react effectively to contact). Effectively employed, movement techniques allow the platoon to find and observe threats without being compromised.

a.   At the same time, however, movement techniques alone are not enough to guarantee accomplishment of these tactical goals. The platoon must use them in conjunction with other movement- and security-related measures. For example, the platoon must make maximum use of all available natural cover and concealment when moving. In addition, it must avoid becoming vehicle-bound; it must be prepared to dismount to improve observation, prevent enemy detection, and provide security.

b.   In conducting both mounted and dismounted movement on the battlefield, the reconnaissance platoon uses three movement techniques: traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch. These techniques provide a standard method of movement, but the platoon leader must use common sense in employing them as he performs his missions and encounters different situations. The decision of which technique to use is based in large part on the likelihood of enemy contact; in general, this can be summarized as whether contact is not likely (traveling), possible (traveling overwatch), or expected (bounding overwatch). Terrain considerations may also affect the choice of movement technique.

c.   In the conduct of most tactical missions, the reconnaissance platoon may move as separate sections or sections under the command and control of the platoon leader. Traveling overwatch and bounding overwatch are most often executed at the section level. Traveling, which is usually employed in secured areas, is used equally at the section and platoon levels.

d.   Regardless of which technique is used, the reconnaissance section leader gives the section an order explaining what each element will do. This becomes more critical as the likelihood of enemy contact increases. If possible, the section leader should provide his section with the following information:

  • The enemy situation as he knows or suspects it to be.
  • The next overwatch position (the objective for the bounding element).
  • The route of the bounding element to that position.
  • What he wants the section to do after the bounding element gets to the next position.

e.   Execution of the movement techniques is described below.

(1)   Traveling. In this technique, the lead and trail elements move together as a unit. Traveling is the fastest but least secure movement technique. It is used when speed is important and enemy contact is not likely. Movement is continuous, and interval and dispersion are maintained between sections as terrain and weather permit. The platoon does not intend to engage in combat, but it is dispersed to prevent destruction in case of unexpected air or ground attack. When using this technique, the platoon could be in a column formation or dispersed in its other formations (Figure 3-9).

Figure 3-9. Platoon using traveling technique and staggered column formation.

Figure 3-9. Platoon using traveling technique and staggered column formation.

(2)   Traveling Overwatch. Traveling overwatch is used when contact is possible but speed is desirable (Figures 3-10 and 3-11). The lead element moves continuously along covered and concealed routes that afford the best available protection from possible enemy observation and direct fire. The trail element moves at variable speeds, providing continuous overwatch. It normally maintains contact with the lead element and may stop periodically for better observation. The trail element remains close enough to provide immediate suppressive fire and to maneuver for support. It must, however, be far enough to the rear to avoid contact in case an enemy force engages the lead element.

Figure 3-10. Section using traveling overwatch technique and wedge formation.

Figure 3-10. Section using traveling overwatch technique and wedge formation.

Figure 3-11. Dismounted traveling overwatch.

Figure 3-11. Dismounted traveling overwatch.

(3)   Bounding Overwatch. Bounding overwatch, the slowest but most secure movement technique, is employed when enemy contact is expected. Regardless of the likelihood of enemy contact, the platoon should always use bounding overwatch if time is available and when there is a possibility of enemy contact. It provides for immediate direct fire suppression on an enemy force that engages the bounding element with direct fire. In bounding overwatch, one element is always stopped to provide overwatch. The trail element first occupies a covered and concealed position from which it can overwatch the lead element. Upon completing its movement (bound), the lead element then occupies a similar position and provides overwatch as the trail element bounds forward to its next overwatch position. As an example, a two-vehicle section may use bounding overwatch (Figure 3-12). The lead vehicle advances to a point (first move) where it can support the advance of the overwatch vehicle. On signal, the overwatch vehicle moves forward to a position abreast of the lead vehicle (second move) and halts. During its move, the lead vehicle overwatches it. The lead vehicle then moves forward again, with the overwatch vehicle providing security. Maximum use is made of folds of the earth and concealment to mask movement from likely enemy positions. (See Figure 3-13, for an illustration of dismounted bounding overwatch.) Bounding overwatch can be executed using one of the following bounding methods.

(a)   Alternate Bounds. In this method, the trail element advances past the lead element to the next overwatch position. This is usually more rapid than successive bounds.

(b)   Successive Bounds. In successive bounding, the trail element moves to an overwatch position that is approximately abreast of the lead element. This method is easier to control and is more secure than alternate bounding, but it is slower.

Figure 3-12. Section using bounding overwatch technique.

Figure 3-12. Section using bounding overwatch technique.

Figure 3-13. Dismounted bounding overwatch.

Figure 3-13. Dismounted bounding overwatch.

(4)   Move-Set Technique. The move-set technique of movement is simply an organized way of controlling the reconnaissance section when it moves in bounding overwatch. "Set" means that the element has arrived at its destination and has occupied a position from which it can observe to its front. This technique allows for an absolute minimum of radio transmissions, positive control by the section leader, and maximum security within the section. Preferably, the section leader uses hand-and-arm signals or digital communication within the section for command and control. The move-set method can be used to control bounding overwatch within the reconnaissance section regardless of the platoon organization. When terrain permits sections to be mutually supporting (such as in desert terrain) and other METT-TC factors are favorable, the platoon leader can use this technique to control bounding by sections.


Leaders at echelons from platoon through company conduct actions on contact when they, or a subordinate element, recognize one of the forms of contact or receive a report of enemy contact.

a.   Planning. Prior to any mission, the reconnaissance platoon leader must receive a detailed IPB of the area of operations from the battalion S2. This information is part of the mission analysis during troop-leading procedures (discussed in Chapter 2). The leader must determine the probability of contact and where that contact will most likely occur. To do this, they use information from the battalion S2, sensor reports on the FBCB2, and information collected by dismounted patrols. The leader is then able to plan for contact and determine how to employ TTP, such as the proper movement techniques, to reduce the occurrence of chance contact.

(1)   The ideal way for the platoon to make contact is by means of FBCB2 reports from sensor elements (such as tactical unmanned aerial vehicles [TUAVs], ground surveillance radar [GSR], or other intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance [ISR] assets). This allows the platoon leader to evaluate and develop the situation while out of contact. Based on this evaluation and further guidance from higher, he can then maneuver the platoon out of contact and make contact either on his own terms or as directed by the commander.

(2)   Regardless of how thorough this analysis and planning may be, direct contact with the enemy is still a possibility, usually as a result of chance contact. When contact is made, the platoon executes battle drills, designated by SOP, to maintain freedom of maneuver and avoid becoming decisively engaged. It uses the four steps of actions on contact (covered in detail later in this paragraph) as the foundation for these drills:

  • Deploy and report.
  • Evaluate and develop the situation.
  • Choose and recommend a COA and maneuver the force.
  • Execute the COA.

b.   Initial Contact. The platoon must be prepared to execute actions on contact under any of the following conditions:

  • Visual contact (the platoon is undetected by the enemy force).
  • Contact with an unknown or superior force.
  • Contact with an inferior force.

Whether the platoon remains undetected or is identified by enemy forces, it must first take actions to protect itself, find out what it is up against, and decide on a COA. To properly execute actions on contact, the platoon must take action consistent with the fundamentals of reconnaissance (refer to Chapter 4 of this manual for a detailed discussion):

  • Develop the situation rapidly.
  • Report quickly and accurately.
  • Maintain contact with the enemy in accordance with mission.
  • Retain the freedom to maneuver.
  • Remain focused on the reconnaissance objective.

c.   The Seven Forms of Contact. In all types of operations, contact occurs when an individual soldier, team, or section of the reconnaissance platoon encounters any situation that requires an active or passive response to the enemy. These situations may entail one or more of the seven forms of contact:

  • Visual contact (friendly elements may or may not be observed by the enemy).
  • Physical contact (direct fire) with an enemy force or civilians.
  • Indirect fire contact.
  • Contact with obstacles of enemy or unknown origin.
  • Contact with enemy or unknown aircraft.
  • Situations involving nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) conditions (see Appendix E).
  • Situations involving electronic warfare tactics.

d.   Summary of Actions on Contact. When contact occurs, the reconnaissance platoon leader bases the platoon's actions on the commander's intent and guidance that he receives from the OPORD and or FRAGO. These specific instructions must include focus of the reconnaissance, tempo of the operation, engagement criteria, and the desired COA based on the size and activity of the enemy force encountered. By knowing these details ahead of time, the platoon leader can develop the situation more rapidly and arrive at and execute the desired COA. The platoon should strive to make contact with its combat multipliers or with its smallest possible internal element—the dismounted soldier. Digital or visual contact, in which the enemy is observed but the platoon remains undetected, is the goal. This gives the platoon the greatest possible flexibility to maneuver and develop the situation.

(1)   When the platoon deploys and reports, it uses fundamental techniques of tactical movement (dismounted or mounted) and action drills using the terrain to ensure effective cover and concealment. As information becomes available, the element in contact sends a contact report, followed by a digital or analog size, activity, location, and time (SALT) report .

(2)   Developing the situation is a critical step in choosing the correct COA and providing an accurate, timely report to the commander. Once the platoon leader has enough information to make a decision, he selects a COA that is within the capabilities of the platoon, that allows the platoon to continue the reconnaissance as quickly as possible, and that supports the commander's concept of the operation. He considers various possible COAs, based on well-developed TTP (including battle drills), to meet the types of contact. At a minimum, the platoon must rehearse and be ready to execute these potential COAs:

  • Disengage from enemy contact.
  • Break contact and bypass.
  • Maintain contact and bypass.
  • Maintain contact to support an attack on an inferior force.
  • Conduct an attack against an inferior force.
  • Conduct a hasty defense.
  • Conduct target handoff.

e.   The Four Steps of Actions on Contact. The steps that make up actions on contact must be thoroughly trained and rehearsed so that the platoon can react instinctively, as a team, whenever it encounters enemy forces. Executing the four steps allows the platoon to accomplish its mission in accordance with reconnaissance fundamentals:

(1)   Deploy and Report. When a reconnaissance platoon member makes contact with the enemy, he reacts according to the circumstances of the contact.


Refer to the seven general categories of contact discussed in paragraph 3-4c.

(a)   The reconnaissance section or team that makes initial visual contact with the enemy deploys to covered terrain that affords good observation and fields of fire. If the section or team receives fire from the enemy, it returns fire but only with the intent of breaking direct fire contact.

(b)   The element in contact sends a contact report to the platoon leader (refer to the discussion of report procedures and formats earlier in this chapter) and follows as soon as possible with a spot report using the format of size, activity, location, unit identification, time, and equipment (SALUTE ). If the element in contact is unable to report or cannot report quickly, another team in the reconnaissance platoon section must report.

(c)   Elements not in contact temporarily halt in covered and or concealed positions, monitor the incoming reports, and plot the situation on their maps. Once they determine that the enemy in contact cannot influence them, they continue their mission with the platoon leader's approval. The platoon leader or PSG relays the contact report to the battalion tactical operations center and or the tactical command post (TAC CP), followed as soon as possible by a spot report and updates.

(2)   Evaluate and Develop the Situation. The element in contact next concentrates on defining what enemy it faces. If it has not yet sent a spot report, it initially focuses on getting enough information to send one.

(a)   If undetected by the enemy and time is available, the section or team reconnoiters the enemy position, emphasizing stealth, dismounted reconnaissance, and use of assets such as GSR and TUAVs, if available.

(b)   If detected by the enemy, the section or team uses a combination of mounted and dismounted reconnaissance. It conducts dismounted reconnaissance to get detailed information on enemy dispositions. It may use mounted reconnaissance to move additional assets into the area to support the reconnaissance element in contact.

(c)   When physical contact occurs, the reconnaissance platoon employs indirect and direct fires to suppress the enemy while maneuvering to get information. It attempts to confirm (or to determine in detail) enemy size, composition, activity, orientation, and weapon system locations. It searches for antitank (AT) ditches, minefields, wire, or other obstacles that could force friendly forces into a fire sack. The platoon finds the flanks of the enemy position and looks for other enemy elements that could provide mutual support to the position. Once the platoon determines the nature of the enemy it faces, the platoon leader updates the spot report.

(3)   Choose and Recommend a COA and Maneuver the Force. Once the element in contact has developed the situation and the platoon leader has enough information to make a decision, he selects a COA. He ensures that the COA is within the capabilities of the platoon, allows platoon members to continue the reconnaissance as quickly as possible, and supports the commander's concept of the operation. The platoon leader should consider all available COAs, including those outlined in the following discussion. Once he decides on a COA, he recommends it to the battalion commander and provides information on how the platoon COA will affect the current situation.

(a)   Disengage from Enemy Contact. The reconnaissance platoon can not conduct its mission if the enemy decisively engages it. Should the platoon become decisively engaged, it must have a plan on how to break contact with the enemy. As a general rule, the platoon, section, or team should disengage from the enemy as early in the contact as possible. This allows for continuation of the mission and reduces the chance of any loss of combat power.

  • At platoon level, OPs or patrols gain contact with the enemy, then report and prepare to displace to successive positions. These platoon members should report the enemy contact to the overwatching vehicles and to the platoon leader.
  • When the enemy force reaches the OP disengagement criteria (the point at which the OPs must displace or risk detection and engagement by the enemy), the OPs pass off responsibility for tracking the enemy to other OPs in depth. The platoon then displaces its OPs to successive positions in depth while maintaining contact with the enemy. Patrols request permission to return to the platoon vehicles. When the leader grants permission, they use covered and concealed routes back to the vehicle positions and remount the vehicles.
  • After reporting the initial contact to higher headquarters and receiving the order to break contact, the patrol disengages. One section or team acts as overwatch for the displacing section or team as it moves. The unit that moves first keeps its weapon systems oriented on the enemy. It uses covered and concealed routes to move to a designated rally point that avoids enemy observation and provides cover and concealment. The overwatching section or team provides suppressive fires, both indirect and direct (if necessary), to cover the movement of the displacing unit. The battalion mortars can also provide effective and responsive support when elements must break contact.
  • Once the displacing section or team has arrived at the rally point, it takes up defensive positions and reports its arrival to the overwatch section or team. The overwatching element then calls for protective fires and uses an alternate covered and concealed route to move to the rally point. When the entire platoon or section has moved back to the rally point, it consolidates and reorganizes, reports its status to the higher headquarters, and continues the mission.

(b)   Break Contact and Bypass. The reconnaissance platoon may select this COA when it does not have the resources to leave an element in contact and continue to accomplish its priority reconnaissance tasks. The platoon may also break contact and bypass when it has made contact with an enemy force that cannot adversely affect the mission of the platoon's higher headquarters. Because breaking contact is a violation of reconnaissance fundamentals, the platoon leader must be sure that his higher headquarters is informed of and approves this COA (Figure 3-14).

Figure 3-14. Break contact and bypass.

Figure 3-14. Break contact and bypass.

(c)   Maintain Contact and Bypass. This COA is appropriate when an enemy force, based on its current disposition, is not in a position to influence the platoon's higher commander. An element (normally a section or team) maintains contact while the rest of the reconnaissance platoon continues the reconnaissance mission. The element that remains in contact maintains visual contact with the enemy and reports if the enemy situation changes. The platoon must keep an element in contact with the enemy unless specifically authorized to do otherwise. Based on task organization, the reconnaissance platoon leader must carefully assess METT-TC factors before deciding upon this COA. Due to mission constraints, the platoon leader may have to leave one vehicle in contact. To regain the use of all his assets, the platoon leader continues coordination to hand off contact to a follow-on element (Figure 3-15).

Figure 3-15. Maintain contact and bypass.

Figure 3-15. Maintain contact and bypass.

(d)   Maintain Contact to Support a Hasty Attack. This COA is appropriate when the reconnaissance platoon discovers enemy elements his higher commander wants to destroy but which it cannot destroy either because it lacks sufficient combat power or because it has other tasks to perform. In this situation, the platoon maintains contact by leaving a section or team in contact. The rest of the platoon moves on to establish far-side security, monitor any changes in the enemy situation, and support the hasty attack by a friendly unit. The platoon focuses on requirements for a successful friendly attack, to include—

  • Locating covered and concealed movement routes for friendly attacking units.
  • Locating attack positions.
  • Establishing a contact point to link up with, brief, and guide the friendly unit as necessary.
  • Designating a line of departure (LD) to use as a handoff line to the attacking unit.
  • Preparing and coordinating fire support for the friendly attack.
  • Locating and preparing to occupy base of fire positions, if required.

It is essential that the section or team left in contact understands what it needs to accomplish, who will execute the attack, and when the friendly unit anticipates being in position to receive handoff of the enemy. As the unit responsible for the attack moves into position, the reconnaissance element in contact may rejoin the platoon or be placed OPCON to the attacking unit to ease command, control, and coordination (Figure 3-16).

Figure 3-16. Maintain contact to support a hasty attack.

Figure 3-16. Maintain contact to support a hasty attack.

(e)   Conduct a Hasty Attack. In most cases, the reconnaissance platoon can not or should not mass its combat power to defeat an enemy force. If the platoon concentrates, it risks losing its capability to complete its mission and jeopardizing its ability to conduct subsequent missions. If necessary, the reconnaissance platoon can attack unarmored reconnaissance vehicles, such as motorcycles or Soviet-style wheeled reconnaissance vehicles (BRDMs) (Figure 3-17). They should not attack more heavily armored vehicles except in self-defense.

Figure 3-17. Conduct a hasty attack.

Figure 3-17. Conduct a hasty attack.

(f)   Establish a Hasty Defense. The platoon establishes a hasty defense if it cannot bypass the enemy, all the sections or teams are fixed or suppressed, and the platoon no longer has the ability to maneuver. The platoon must also establish a hasty defense when the enemy executes a hasty attack. The platoon maintains contact or fixes the enemy in place until additional combat power arrives or the platoon is ordered to move (Figure 3-18. If the reconnaissance platoon must conduct a hasty defense, the battalion commander assumes responsibility for continuing to develop the situation.


Without the use of indirect fires in this situation, the platoon will fail.

Figure 3-18. Establish a hasty defense.

Figure 3-18. Establish a hasty defense.

(g)   Conduct Target Handoff. The platoon leader attempts to hand off responsibility for the enemy element. He does this for several tactical reasons: to continue operations as directed, to regain use of all his elements, or to give responsibility to a friendly element that can more effectively handle the enemy force.

(4)   Execute the COA.

(a)   The platoon leader updates his spot report to the commander with any new information and then recommends a COA to the commander. The commander approves or disapproves the recommended COA based on how it will affect the parent unit's mission.

(b)   If the commander and the S2 have anticipated the enemy situation the reconnaissance platoon is reporting, they will already have addressed the contingency in the OPORD and given guidance to their subordinates on what COA the platoon should execute. In such a case, the reconnaissance platoon leader can evaluate the situation, choose a COA consistent with his higher commander's intent or concept, and execute it without further guidance. He keeps the commander informed of what he is doing as he executes the COA.

f.   Examples of Actions on Contact. The following examples illustrate actions on contact in a variety of tactical situations. They are organized using the four-step process.

(1)   Visual Contact, Undetected by the Enemy.

(a)   Deploy and Report. A reconnaissance section or team makes contact when its dismounted element identifies an enemy force. It immediately sends a contact report informing higher headquarters that it has made visual contact with the enemy but is not being engaged. This report is quickly followed by an initial spot report.

(b)   Evaluate and Develop the Situation. Based on the initial spot report of the reconnaissance section or team in contact, the platoon leader determines that he has located his primary reconnaissance objective. He orders additional sections or teams to maneuver into the area. These reconnaissance elements move to dismount points, set their vehicles in hide positions, and send dismounted patrols to multiple vantage points using dismounted reconnaissance techniques, with the emphasis on avoiding detection. As they develop new information, they send spot reports to the platoon leader. The platoon leader moves his element to a covered and concealed hide position where he can maintain effective communications with both subordinate elements and higher headquarters. From this position, he establishes local security (a hasty OP) and monitors and controls the efforts of his sections or teams.

(c)   Choose and Recommend a COA and Maneuver the Force. When the platoon leader receives sufficient reports to have a clear picture of the situation, he chooses to prepare to support a hasty attack. This choice is made because the platoon leader determines that the force he has located is the objective of his commander; therefore, this COA is in accordance with his commander's intent. After determining that the commander's intent has not changed, the platoon leader recommends the COA to the commander and requests permission to execute. He ensures that he receives clear guidance from the commander before moving on to the execution step.

(d)   Execute the COA. The platoon leader issues appropriate orders directing his subordinates to prepare to support the hasty attack. He continues to inform his commander of the enemy situation and the platoon's actions.

(2)   Contact with an Unknown or Superior Force.

(a)   Deploy and Report. The dismounted platoon members make contact as the lead platoon vehicle is engaged. The lead element and the overwatch element see the signature of the enemy weapon system. Since they do not have a clear idea of the size of the enemy, they react as if it is a superior force. Simultaneously, the lead element returns fire, sends a contact report, employs smoke grenades, and moves to the nearest hide position. The overwatch vehicle engages the source of enemy fire by calling for indirect fire support, then monitors to ensure the contact report is sent. As soon as the lead vehicle is in a covered and concealed position, the overwatch vehicle moves to an alternate firing position and occupies a hide position while trying to maintain contact with the smallest possible element. The platoon leader follows up on the contact report with an initial spot report.

(b)   Evaluate and Develop the Situation. Once the reconnaissance section or team is set in cover and concealment and has submitted its initial reports, it must develop the situation. The objective is to determine exactly what the enemy situation is by dismounted reconnaissance or other reconnaissance assets and systems (ground surveillance radar, tactical unmanned aerial vehicles, and long-range reconnaissance and surveillance). This can best be done by moving to the enemy's flank or rear. The section or team leader organizes a hasty reconnaissance patrol that attempts to move to the flank or rear of the enemy and observes the enemy position. Simultaneously, the section or team maintains at least one hasty OP in contact with the enemy.

  • As the dismounted element maneuvers, it is supported by direct fire from the reconnaissance vehicles, by indirect fire called for by the OP, or by both. These fires serve to suppress the enemy, reducing his ability to observe the reconnaissance platoon; they also fix the enemy's attention on the last known location of the mounted element.
  • While attempting to develop the situation, the section or team may find that it cannot determine the exact enemy situation for a number of possible reasons to include obstacles, combat losses, suppressive fires by the enemy, or the size and extent of the enemy position. It sends this information to the platoon leader in the form of updates to the original spot report as soon as possible. If this occurs, the platoon leader must decide whether to commit additional platoon assets to the contact to develop it further or to adopt a COA based on the information he has discovered to that point. If the platoon leader determines he needs more information, he may commit additional assets (reconnaissance sections or teams) to develop the situation further. The earlier in the contact that the platoon leader can make this decision, the better. However, he must not commit unneeded resources to an action that will detract from other reconnaissance tasks.
  • If he decides additional assets are required, the platoon leader then orders other sections or teams not in contact to move to specific locations and assist in developing the situation. As more than one section or team becomes involved in the situation, the platoon leader or PSG (whoever is in the best location to do so) takes control of coordinating their efforts.
  • The elements conduct mounted movement to designated dismount points where they organize dismounted patrols to develop the situation from a new direction. As these patrols discover the enemy and add additional information to the platoon leader's picture, the platoon leader may determine he has sufficient information to choose and execute a COA or to make a recommendation to his commander.

(c)   Choose and Recommend a COA and Maneuver the Force. Based on the available information and his commander's intent and guidance, the platoon leader decides to leave one section in contact to support a hasty attack by a supporting MGS platoon. His other sections continue their reconnaissance mission.

(d)   Execute the COA. In this example, because the commander had specifically addressed the contingency the reconnaissance platoon has developed, the platoon leader neither makes a recommendation to his commander nor asks his permission to execute the COA. Instead, the platoon leader immediately issues orders to his sections and contacts the MGS platoon leader to initiate coordination for handover of the enemy and support of the MGS platoon's hasty attack. He keeps the commander informed of his actions.

(3)   Contact with an Inferior Force.

(a)   Deploy and Report. The lead reconnaissance element (section or team) identifies an enemy element consisting of one enemy reconnaissance vehicle. In the commander's order, the engagement criteria tasked the reconnaissance section or team to engage when the enemy force consists of one wheeled vehicle or less (dismounted troops). The section or team leader sends a contact report and quickly engages and destroys the enemy vehicle. After the engagement is complete, he sends an initial spot report.

(b)   Evaluate the Situation. The lead vehicle and the overwatch element occupy positions that allow them to observe the destroyed vehicle. They look for any other signs of enemy activity or any enemy response to the destruction of the vehicle. The lead vehicle then bounds past the destroyed vehicle and establishes far-side security. Once far-side security is established, a dismounted element moves to the destroyed vehicle and conducts a thorough search for prisoners, items of intelligence value, and any other information that can be gained from a close examination of the enemy. When this reconnaissance is complete, the section or team sends an updated report to higher headquarters.

(c)   Choose and Recommend a COA and Maneuver the Force. When engagement is complete and the enemy is destroyed, the COA is obvious: the section or team continues its mission.

(d)   Execute the COA. Since the destruction of the enemy is in accordance with the commander's order, the section or team leader simply informs higher headquarters that he is continuing the mission.


During the execution of reconnaissance and security missions, the reconnaissance platoon will encounter specific types of terrain or features that expose it to enemy fire. Known as danger areas, these are likely points of enemy contact due both to the platoon's vulnerability and to the cover, concealment, and observation these sites afford to the enemy. The platoon leader identifies and highlights danger areas when he performs his map reconnaissance during TLP. Once he identifies these areas, the platoon leader considers where the enemy will focus its reconnaissance assets and determines their fields of observation. He then employs specific reconnaissance methods and movement techniques to either avoid the danger areas or move through them as quickly as possible and with as much security as possible. The factors the reconnaissance platoon leader needs to consider addressing, such as moving more rapidly and employing greater stealth and security in the various terrains, will always be METT-TC dependent.

a.   Open Areas. Open areas frequently afford the reconnaissance platoon the opportunity to observe the enemy or objectives from long ranges. Conversely, these areas often expose the platoon to possible enemy observation and fire for long periods of movement. Therefore, the platoon must make maximum use of the terrain and employ effective observation techniques to avoid exposing itself to a well-concealed and camouflaged enemy.

(1)   Before moving across a large open area, the reconnaissance platoon must make a thorough visual scan of the area. This should be done both dismounted and mounted. The platoon leader must use all available optics and other assets, including GSR, to reconnoiter the open area and find a bypass, if applicable. If he cannot find a bypass, he focuses not only on finding potential enemy positions but also on locating covered and concealed routes for bounding and a covered and concealed position to which the unit can move. If time and terrain permit, he may send dismounted platoon members to move to the far side of the open area and secure it. In very large open areas, however, use of dismounted troops may not be feasible because of the distances between covered and concealed positions.

(2)   Once it has reconnoitered the area using visual, digital, and sensor enablers, the platoon moves across the area. It uses bounding overwatch because of the possibility of enemy contact. If the open area is very large, the overwatch element should only remain stationary until the bounding element has moved a distance equal to half the effective range of the overwatching element's weapon system. When that point is reached, the overwatch element must move out, even if the bounding element has not yet reached a position of cover and concealment.

(3)   When enemy contact is likely and the platoon must move across large open areas with limited cover and concealment, the platoon leader should consider using reconnaissance by indirect fire to provide additional security during movement. The platoon leader must decide whether to use this method with the understanding that doing so will sacrifice stealth. Indirect fire can also provide concealment, with smoke used alone or mixed with suppressive fires.

b.   Wooded Areas. Wooded areas provide a high degree of concealment to forces that occupy them, particularly infantry forces. However, troops must approach and move through them with extreme caution. Visibility within wooded areas is very limited; therefore, reconnaissance is confined primarily to trafficable routes and trails through the forest. In densely wooded areas, mounted elements are extremely vulnerable to dismounted enemy forces that can close on them undetected.

(1)   Platoon members should use available terrain to scan the wooded area before entering. They should search for movement, reflections, smoke, and any irregular shapes or colors indicating camouflage. Whenever possible, dismounted members should reconnoiter the entire wood line before mounted movement to the wooded area.

(2)   The platoon should move to the wooded area using mounted bounding overwatch. Once the vehicles are inside the wood line (approximately 100 to 200 meters), the platoon shuts off vehicle engines, maintains dismounted security, and conducts a listening/security halt. The halt should last approximately one to two minutes, with 360-degree security maintained and radio speakers minimized throughout. The platoon must conduct these halts at regular intervals (approximately every kilometer) while moving through the wooded area.

(3)   During movement through a wooded area, the platoon should move using traveling overwatch. This technique is appropriate because of the extremely short fields of view and the danger of dismounted ambush. Reconnaissance vehicles are most vulnerable in wooded areas when they are stopped, so halts should be kept to a minimum. Exposed sections or teams should maintain minimum silhouette in their vehicles because of the danger from close-in snipers and ambush.

(4)   The platoon may encounter small clearings, buildings, or hills while moving through a wooded area. It must treat each as a separate task.

  • Small clearings may require crossing in the same manner as a large open area.
  • Dismounted troops must check isolated buildings.
  • The platoon must approach hills and curves cautiously, and dismounted members must clear any dead space.

(5)   Before leaving a wooded area, the platoon must clear the open area to the front. It stops inside the wood line, ensuring it is still within the shadow line of the woods. Drivers turn off vehicle engines, and dismounted elements move to the edge of the wooded area to observe. If they determine the area is clear, the platoon brings vehicles forward to observation positions. As the dismounted elements remount, the vehicles use their optics to visually clear the open area again. Once they finish, the platoon resumes movement using its chosen movement technique.

c.   Urban Areas. Urban areas, including towns and villages, pose many potential dangers for the reconnaissance platoon. Troops can be garrisoned in villages, snipers can dominate approaches, and buildings and roads can be mined and booby-trapped. Cover and concealment are abundant, and it is easy for the enemy to remain undetected until he is at very close range. Urban areas are ideal for effective ambush by small numbers of infantry. Whenever possible, the reconnaissance platoon should reconnoiter urban areas from a distance, execute hand-off to follow-on elements, and bypass if possible. The reconnaissance platoon is not manned or equipped to conduct detailed reconnaissance of urban areas. (Refer to Chapter 6 of this manual for specific information on the urban environment.)

d.   Lateral or Boundary Routes. As the reconnaissance platoon executes reconnaissance and security missions, it will encounter routes or mobility corridors that provide access into the area between the platoon and friendly elements to its rear. These lateral corridors pose a security threat to both the platoon and the other friendly elements.

(1)   It is critical that the platoon maintains continuous surveillance of these mobility corridors to provide security against enemy forces that move into the sector after the reconnaissance platoon has moved on. This is especially important when the platoon is moving through an enemy security area where enemy forces are likely to move in response to friendly activity or when the platoon expects to encounter a moving enemy force. If necessary, the platoon can use a series of contact points, coordination points, or both, to enhance security during movement through the area.

(2)   To maintain surveillance, the platoon can use OPs to maximize the reconnaissance effort forward. This security technique involves the use of short-duration OPs consisting of mounted or dismounted soldiers with necessary observation equipment. A reconnaissance section or team should deploy an OP when it is at risk of losing observation on a possible enemy approach route that no other element can cover. Once deployed, the OP maintains surveillance of the avenue of approach until the rest of the reconnaissance element returns. In doing so, the OP can provide security through early warning of enemy activity that the mounted element would not have detected.


Infiltration is a form of maneuver that entails movement by small groups or individuals, at extended or irregular intervals, through or into an area occupied by an enemy or friendly force, while avoiding contact with the enemy. To avoid the enemy's strength, elements use stealth and move through gaps or around enemy positions to conduct operations to the enemy's rear and out of contact with the enemy. The reconnaissance platoon may use this form of maneuver during reconnaissance and security operations and may reconnoiter passage lanes and infiltration routes before movement of the battalion. To accomplish a specific task, the reconnaissance platoon itself may need to infiltrate areas occupied by enemy forces. The platoon may infiltrate by sections, by teams, or as a complete platoon.

a.   Tactics. Ground reconnaissance assets use infiltration most often although aerial platforms may also employ tactics based on infiltration techniques. During infiltration, the platoon uses predesignated routes to reach its objective without being detected and engaged by the enemy. The infiltrating elements employ cover, concealment, and stealth to move through gaps templated by the battalion S2 in the enemy array.

b.   Purposes. Purposes of infiltration include the following:

  • To achieve a positional advantage to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance.
  • To emplace remote sensors.
  • To establish communications relay capability for a specific period in support of other reconnaissance operations.
  • To locate unobserved routes through enemy positions.

c.   Planning. The amount of intelligence information available to the reconnaissance platoon leader during the planning process determines the risk involved in conducting the infiltration. Due to the complexity of these operations, the battalion staff and the reconnaissance platoon leader conduct detailed planning. Leaders must focus information-gathering assets (GSR, TUAVs, human intelligence [HUMINT], and RSTA) to provide detailed enemy locations and intentions. They base decisions about routes and movement techniques on the mission, terrain and weather, likelihood of enemy contact, speed of movement, and depth to which the platoon's elements must penetrate. After considering these factors, the leaders decide to infiltrate either mounted or dismounted. The infiltration plan must provide the platoon with enough time for preparation, rehearsal, and initial movement. The platoon must conduct detailed coordination with any adjacent units or friendly elements through which it will pass to ensure these elements do not compromise the reconnaissance platoon as it conducts the infiltration. Coordination must include CSS activities, integration of communications, fires, passage lanes, C2, and battle handover.

d.   Techniques. The size of the elements within the reconnaissance platoon depends on several factors: the assigned mission, time available, cover and concealment, target acquisition capabilities of both friendly and enemy forces, available communications assets, and navigation capabilities and limitations. If the reconnaissance platoon is tasked to gather information over a wide area, it may employ several small teams to cover the complete sector. In most situations, smaller elements are better able to take advantage of available cover and concealment. The battalion commander determines if the battalion moves along single or multiple infiltration lanes with forces in the infiltration lanes separated by space and time. The platoon leader decides whether to move as a platoon or as teams. The advantages of moving as a platoon are faster movement and easier control and navigation. When moving as teams, the size of the teams makes detection less likely. However, navigation, consolidation, and command and control are more difficult. If the battalion employs multiple lanes, the platoon leader must task organize to move along all lanes. The overriding factor in determining whether to use single or multiple lanes is the ability to remain undetected.

(1)   Single-Lane Infiltration. Infiltration on a single lane (Figure 3-19) is the least desirable technique because it requires all infiltrating groups to move at intervals on the same lane. The reconnaissance platoon uses this technique only when an analysis of METT-TC shows that only one lane is feasible.

Figure 3-19. Single-lane infiltration.

Figure 3-19. Single-lane infiltration.

(2)   Multiple-Lane Infiltration. Soldiers infiltrate by multiple lanes when two or more infiltration lanes are found through the enemy defense (Figure 3-20). Rally points may be in either enemy or friendly areas, depending on the situation. The platoon leader assigns lanes to the sections and teams. The reconnaissance platoon normally uses no more than two lanes due to its size and limited resources.

(3)   Combination of Methods. Rarely are there enough lanes for each group to have a separate one. Thus, some groups must share a lane with one or more groups while others do not. Groups on different routes may move using different methods of insertion or extraction (for example, one group moves by RVs, another group moves by helicopter, and another moves dismounted).

(4)   Rally Point. To aid in the control of movement, the platoon should choose rally points for all infiltrations and exfiltrations.

(a)   The first group to reach the rally point establishes security and exchanges recognition signals with subsequent groups. All groups rehearse this procedure since no one knows which group will arrive first.

(b)   The leader must allow adequate time for each group to reach the rally point. Delays may result when groups must avoid enemy contact. Contingency plans should address what happens if a force fails to arrive or arrives late at a rally point.

(c)   The leader must designate an alternate rally point to use if the primary rally point is occupied by the enemy, is compromised, or is found to be unsuitable. The platoon leader plans signals to direct movement to the alternate rally point. The contingency plan must allow time for groups to reach the new (alternate) rally point.

Figure 3-20. Multiple-lane infiltration.

Figure 3-20. Multiple-lane infiltration.

e.   Communications. In general, infiltrating elements should use digital communications as the primary means of communications. They should use radio listening silence except to report contact with enemy forces or to send critical information that the commander has directed them to report immediately. When operating out of normal communications range, an infiltrating element that must transmit required information should move to high ground or set up a long-range expedient antenna.

f.   Fire Support. Infiltration plans always cover employment of indirect fires although the platoon uses them only in limited circumstances. The most common use of indirect fires is when the infiltrating unit makes enemy contact, in which case the commander or platoon leader may employ indirect fires in another sector to divert attention from the infiltration lane. The platoon can also use indirect fires to degrade the enemy's acquisition and observation capabilities by forcing him to seek cover.

g.   Actions on Contact. Each infiltrating element must develop and rehearse a plan that clearly defines its actions in case of contact with enemy security forces. If detected, an infiltrating element typically returns fire, breaks contact, and reports. Fighting through the enemy force is the least preferred COA. Direct fire engagements are normally limited to whatever actions are required to break contact. During infiltration using multiple lanes, the detection of one platoon's elements may alert the enemy and compromise other units in the infiltration zone. The OPORD must clearly state whether the element will continue the mission or return to friendly lines if detected by the enemy. If the element makes visual contact but is not detected, it should continue the mission.


Exfiltration is removal of personnel or units from areas under enemy control using stealth, deception, surprise, or clandestine means. The reconnaissance platoon and its elements may need to exfiltrate during any tactical operation or situation. For example, reconnaissance forces that have infiltrated or bypassed the enemy-occupied area may need to exfiltrate as soon as they gather the required information. In another instance, the platoon may deploy in a stay-behind mode during defensive operations, requiring it to plan and execute movement to return to friendly controlled areas.

a.   Planning. In all situations, leaders must plan exfiltration as carefully as infiltration. An effective exfiltration plan is essential for mission accomplishment and morale. In most cases, planning for an exfiltration operation begins at the same time as planning for the infiltration (or other tactical operation) that precedes it. For example, the reconnaissance platoon leader must anticipate contingency measures in case his elements must conduct an unplanned exfiltration during a reconnaissance operation. His exfiltration plan should factor in additional time that the platoon may need to react to unforeseen circumstances, such as inadvertent contact with enemy forces or unexpected restrictive terrain. Whether the platoon plans to exfiltrate on foot, by RV, or by air, it must conduct detailed planning to establish criteria for a passage of lines to minimize the chances of fratricide.

b.   Contingencies. The exfiltration plan should also cover other types of contingencies that will not require the platoon to exfiltrate. For example, when a section or team repeatedly misses mandatory radio contact, other elements must assume that the element has a communications problem, is in trouble, or both. The exfiltration plan might address this situation by calling for a resupply drop of new batteries and another means of communication at a predetermined location. The plan would mandate that the resupply location be specially marked for security and identity purposes.

(1)   Movement Considerations. The principles of route selection, movement formations, and movement security are critical to the success of the exfiltration operation. Leaders must develop plans for extraction by applicable means (ground or air) before the operation, to include procedural contingencies such as the destruction of the RVs, evacuation of sick and wounded personnel, and disruption of communications. These plans should address various contingencies for movement, such as the possibility that the platoon may be able to exfiltrate intact or in smaller groups to avoid detection.

(2)   Terrain Factors. The reconnaissance platoon uses terrain features to its advantage during the exfiltration. It employs movement routes that put ridgelines, rivers, and other restrictive terrain between the platoon and enemy security forces. The platoon leader ensures that primary and alternate linkup points are not on a single azimuth leading away from the OP or exfiltration route.

(3)   Pickup Points. Exfiltration pickup points for dismounted personnel should be far enough away from the OP to ensure the enemy does not hear vehicle or helicopter noises. The exfiltrating force should use mountains, dense foliage, and other terrain features to screen these noises. Under normal conditions in flat, open terrain on a clear night, rotary-wing aircraft lose most of their audio signature at a distance of about 5 kilometers.

c.   Methods. The platoon can exfiltrate by air, water, or land. Each method requires specific operational considerations, and each has tactical advantages and disadvantages. The exfiltration plan and OPORD must address these factors. They must also state what actions the reconnaissance platoon must take if it must exfiltrate unexpectedly.

(1)   Extraction by Air or Vehicle. Extraction by air or RV (ground) is favored when the resources are available and their use will not compromise the mission. The platoon uses these methods when it must cover long distances, time of return is essential, the exfiltration route lacks adequate cover and concealment, the enemy does not have air superiority, or heavily populated hostile areas obstruct ground exfiltration.

(2)   Exfiltration by Land. Reconnaissance forces normally conduct exfiltration via land routes dismounted when friendly lines are close or no other extraction method is feasible. Dismounted ground exfiltration is preferred when areas along the route are largely uninhabited, when enemy forces are widely dispersed or under such pressure that they cannot conduct counterreconnaissance and security operations, or when terrain is sufficiently restricted to degrade enemy efforts to use mobile forces against the exfiltrating reconnaissance unit.

(3)   Emergency Exfiltration. The reconnaissance platoon may have to conduct an emergency exfiltration if detected or engaged by an enemy force. This type of operation may require the battalion to activate its escape and evasion plan or to deploy a reaction or support force to help extract the friendly elements. The battalion must carefully coordinate and rehearse employment of the reaction force and supporting fires before initiating the infiltration (or other tactical mission, if applicable).

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