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APPENDIX C

RECONNAISSANCE, SELECTION,
AND OCCUPATION OF POSITION

This appendix presents the reconnaissance, selection, and occupation of position (RSOP) requirements and their applications. The procedures for RSOP have been developed to ease the rapid, orderly, and safe movement of ADA systems on the battlefield.

Avenger platoons displace frequently, whether deployed in forward or rear areas. They move to support the maneuver force plan in response to mission changes. They also move to enhance survivability. The RSOP must be part of a unit SOP, be clearly understood, and be practiced repeatedly by all members of the platoon.

METHODS OF RECONNAISSANCE

Reconnaissance is the thorough examination of terrain to determine its suitability for accomplishment of the mission. The three methods of reconnoitering are: map, aerial, and ground.

MAP RECONNAISSANCE

A study and analysis of a tactical map will provide an appreciation of the terrain, and show the best route to the selected location. A map reconnaissance--

  • Precedes all other methods. A map should always be available for the area of operations.
  • Allows quick examination of large areas. This is faster than other reconnaissance methods.
  • Cannot determine current conditions of the area. The map may be dated and provide an inaccurate representation of the area.
  • Ensures the most security. A map reconnaissance can be conducted in a secured location.

CONTENTS

Methods of Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance, Selection, and Occupation of Position Sequence

AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE

If an aircraft is available, the commander or the RSOP officer can see the terrain. An aerial reconnaissance--

  • Provides the fastest way to see the terrain.
  • Is limited by aircraft availability, weather, and light conditions.
  • Is still an imperfect reconnaissance. Fields of fire, ground conditions, and local threat cannot be determined unless the aircraft lands.
  • Is less secure than a map reconnaissance. Aircraft activity in an area exposes soldiers to threat activity and also reveals an interest in a particular area.

GROUND RECONNAISSANCE

A ground reconnaissance is an on-site examination of the terrain. A commander or RSOP officer should note that a ground reconnaissance--

  • Is the most accurate and desirable type of reconnaissance. The route can be evaluated for trafficability, obstacles, choke points, and key terrain. Firing positions, fields of fire, and air avenues of approach can be analyzed for planning finalization.
  • Is time-consuming. Covering the distances over potential routes and checking alternate positions takes time. The ground reconnaissance is the slowest method of reconnaissance.
  • Is dangerous. The small reconnaissance party could be subjected to threat observation en route or at the objective area.

If ground or aerial reconnaissance cannot be performed, engineer terrain teams may be able to provide necessary information, Plans can be made for the reconnaissance to include routes, RPs, assembly points, and assembly times for the reconnaissance party. If time is limited and the unit must move before the reconnaissance party returns, road guard positions are selected and soldiers necessary for these tasks are included in the RSOP party.

Actual inspection of the chosen routes and positions on the ground is desirable to confirm selections made from the map, or to make necessary adjustments in plans.

RECONNAISSANCE, SELECTION,
AND OCCUPATION OF POSITION SEQUENCE

The RSOP party will normally be led by a squad leader. The sequence of actions for conducting the RSOP are summarized in the following paragraphs.

RECEIVE THE ORDER

The commander meets with his key personnel, passes on the basic order and briefs his key personnel on the new mission. The commander's briefing includes information on the purpose of the operation, routes, road clearance times, start point (SP) and release point (RP) locations, and AD operational times. Each platoon leader reviews his briefing notes, completes precombat checklists, and initiates the reverse planning sequence.

ISSUE MOVEMENT WARNING ORDER

The platoon leader returns to the assembly area, issues a movement warning order, and briefs his key personnel on the new mission.

The movement warning order can be--

  • Written or verbal.
  • Delivered in person.
  • Passed over tactical communications nets.

The warning order must include, as a minimum, the new mission, the location of the planned area of operation, the time of release for march order, crossing the SP and RP, and assuming operational status at the planned area of operation.

MAKE A MAP RECONNAISSANCE

This is the fastest way to conduct a reconnaissance and will always precede any other type of reconnaissance. The positions of Avengers, BSFVs, and dismounted Stinger teams are plotted on a map and represent the best locations for providing air defense protection. The platoon leader must consider the air defense employment guidelines, weather, and the factors of METT-T. Alternate positions should be identified at this time. After the weapon positions have been plotted on a map, positions for checkpoints and primary and alternate routes are selected and plotted. The platoon leader identifies a reconnaissance route by conducting a map reconnaissance to the proposed area. Positions selected by map reconnaissance must be confirmed by additional reconnaissance if the tactical situation allows.

PLAN THE GROUND RECONNAISSANCE

Reconnaissance is performed to select the best fire unit positions, march routes, SPs, RPs, checkpoints, sensor positions, and communications sites. The ADA platoon leader should coordinate with the local maneuver commander and the supported unit battalion S3 to determine what areas maneuver units plan to occupy. Mutual agreement must be established to make the best use of the available terrain. The platoon leader selects personnel and equipment to conduct the reconnaissance with him and assigns tasks to the reconnaissance party personnel. The unit SOP will establish the normal composition and responsibilities of the party. The reconnaissance party for the platoon should consist of at least the platoon leader and one representative from each squad. The RSOP party also includes a security force.

BRIEF NEXT-IN-COMMAND--ISSUE ORDERS

After the platoon leader finalizes and coordinates the plan, he briefs his personnel covering all elements of a five-paragraph OPORD (Situation, Mission, Execution, Service Support, and Command and Signal). He identifies at least the SP and RP. His briefing and issuing of orders should include instructions on continued operations in the absence of key leaders.

CONDUCT RECONNAISSANCE AND SELECT POSITIONS

As soon as RSOP preparations are complete, the platoon leader departs with the reconnaissance party. He ensures that the selected primary route meets equipment (height, weight, and width) requirements, is passable, and avoids possible ambush locations. He positions road guides as required. He may keep the platoon main party posted on his progress, by referencing predetermined checkpoints. As the RSOP party approaches the new location, the platoon leader checks the area. The team leader must ascertain if the tentative map-selected locations will allow immediate occupation for accomplishment of the mission. Ground reconnaissance verifies whether the terrain provides good natural concealment; has access roads for primary and alternate routes into the position; provides good observation, fields of fire, and sectors of search; and has firm ground that will support the weight of the equipment.

NBC and mine detection team leaders will check the immediate area to ensure it is free of contamination and mines. A total security plan is then placed in effect. This includes positioning automatic weapons overlooking the main avenue of approach and alternate routes into the position, and establishing other security positions around the area to preclude gaps in the perimeter. A PTL and an SOF are assigned to each squad, and communications are established with all the positions. Proposed positions plotted during the map reconnaissance should be used if possible. The team leaders will select tentative sites for the weapons and observation posts (OPs) and confirm them with the platoon leader. The platoon leader reconnoiters the platoon area and selects the site for the platoon command post (CP). He visits each proposed weapon site, if possible, and supervises or assists the squad representative. After approving the positions, he informs the battery commander and the supported unit of the weapon and platoon CP locations.

Positions selected must be the best available for fields of fire, communications, accessibility, and survivability. He considers the following specific characteristics in selecting sites for the platoon headquarters:

  • CP is centrally located with respect to fire unit positions.
  • Cover and concealment are available.
  • Alternate entrance and exit routes are available.
  • Position is defendable against ground attack.
  • Communications can be established with higher, lower, and supported units.

The following are characteristics which must be considered in selecting sites for Avenger squads:

  • Primary and secondary fields of fire, and observation must be clear.
  • Communications with platoon CP, other squads in the platoon, and with EW sources are available.
  • Positions must be within 100 meters of plotted positions in original defense design. If not, defense may need to be redesigned.
  • Positions make maximum use of available cover and concealment to facilitate survivability.

The firing signature of the Stinger system discloses the weapon's position during each engagement; therefore, frequent shifting of position is required. Units will select primary, alternate, and supplementary positions during the ground reconnaissance. Routes into and out of these positions must be selected and prepared as necessary. The following positions are normally selected by ground reconnaissance:

  • Primary position. A position from which the fire unit intends to accomplish its tactical mission.
  • Alternate position. A position to which the fire unit moves when the primary position becomes untenable or unsuitable for carrying out the assigned mission. The alternate position must be far enough away to prevent its being rendered untenable by the same action that affected the primary position. The alternate position must meet all the requirements of the primary position.
  • Supplementary position. A place to fight which provides the best means to accomplish a task that cannot be accomplished from the primary or alternate positions.

Care must be exercised to avoid placing positions near terrain features easily recognized from the air. Positions are more vulnerable to enemy fires once spotted near an identifiable object.

PREPARE TO OCCUPY THE POSITIONS

After the platoon leader has selected the positions, he ensures the ground guides know exactly where he wants all the vehicles and equipment emplaced. Preparation should include marking the location of each major piece of equipment (as required). Everyone at the new position is given the new challenge and password, information on any known enemy activity in the area, and the approximate arrival time, location, and order of vehicles for the main party.

MOVE THE UNIT TO THE NEW POSITIONS

The platoon leader informs the platoon sergeant of the results of his reconnaissance and relays appropriate instructions for the movement of the main body. The platoon sergeant organizes the vehicles as ordered by the platoon leader. Platoon vehicles use movement techniques dictated by the factors of METT-T and unit SOP.

OCCUPY, ORGANIZE, AND IMPROVE THE POSITIONS

The occupation of positions should be coordinated with the supported unit to avoid mutual interference. When the platoon arrives at the position, all vehicles move off the road into the position, without halting and without closing the interval between vehicles. The unit SOP should state the requirements and the priorities for occupying positions.

When all squads have reported that they are in position and capable of providing coverage of their assigned sector, the platoon leader will report the platoon "ready for action."

Squad leaders begin improving positions as dictated by SOP or additional orders. Atypical improvement sequence may include--

  • Natural camouflage. Supplement existing camouflage nets where possible with indigenous materials (branches, leaves, and snow). These materials should be from the vicinity of the squad so they will blend naturally into the surroundings.
  • Individual fighting positions. Hasty positions are prepared for the team. These will be replaced by deliberate fighting positions.
  • Cover. The Avenger personnel dig the vehicle in, hull down, for protection from blast, fragmentation, and small arms. Engineer support will be required in most situations, and should be requested through the supported unit.
  • Alternate and supplementary positions. Work on alternate and supplementary positions is initiated as early as possible to ensure that they are available should the primary become untenable.

Upon occupying the position, the platoon must provide continuous local security. Obstacles such as a hasty protective minefield provide security which blocks, disrupts, or canalizes enemy attacks. All obstacles must be coordinated with the supported unit S3 and the engineer officer. Other measures taken should also be integrated with the ground defense plan of the supported unit. Range cards should be prepared. At a minimum, range cards should indicate ranges to critical points on all likely avenues of approach, dead spaces, and likely targets (air and ground).



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