Selecting the beach site is an initial step in planning offshore discharge operations. The headquarters of the terminal command must select the site in coordination with personnel of the Navy and the Military Sealift Command. A reconnaissance party consisting of representatives of the terminal command, the commander of the terminal battalion that will operate the site and his S3, the commanders of the terminal service companies, and representatives of the units that will provide lighterage support usually selects the exact site. During the reconnaissance, the commander of the terminal battalion assigns company areas and beach frontages, indicates areas of defense responsibility, locates his temporary command post, and tentatively organizes the area for operational use.
If a ground reconnaissance cannot be made, maps, aerial photographs, and information gathered from intelligence sources form the basis for a careful study of the operational area. If possible, the commanders and staff officers responsible for planning should perform an air reconnaissance of the area.
Commanders and staffs of boat units must make a detailed study of the terrain, hydrographic conditions, enemy capabilities and dispositions, civil population and attitude, and similarities between factors affecting boat movements and approaches to the beach. They must also analyze the lighterage requirements and the tonnages to be handled by their craft.
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