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The possibility of US forces becoming involved in a low intensity conflict is ever increasing. This appendix discusses the categories of LIC and possible missions in each category; an environmental overview; conducting roadblocks, checkpoints, and searches; and special considerations including working with SOF when conducting LIC operations.


Military operations in LIC fall under four operational categories. The roles within each category often overlap. This section discusses each category. It also identifies the types of operations and missions the infantryman can be given in each category.


The primary objective in an insurgency is to gain support for a revolution. In counterinsurgency, the objective is to counter the revolution.

a. Within this category, US interest may lie with an incumbent government or with an insurgent. The infantry company will usually be involved only in counterinsurgency operations.

b. Possible missions for infantry companies include:

  • Advising and training host nation forces.
  • Security of US/host nation facilities and equipment.
  • Joint/combined training exercises.
  • Humanitarian or civic assistance.
  • Populace and resource control.
  • Combat and security patrols.
  • Defense of operational support bases.
  • Establishing roadblocks.
  • Establishing checkpoints.
  • Cordon and search parties.
  • Hasty attacks.
  • Deliberate attacks.
  • Movements to contact.


These PKOs are military operations conducted with the consent of the belligerent parties to maintain a negotiated truce and to facilitate a diplomatic resolution. The US may take part in PKOs under the control of an international organization, in cooperation with other countries, or independently.

a. The US has very seldom committed forces in a peacekeeping role. The UN normally employs international peacekeeping forces composed of non-aligned nations who can be neutral. If employed, the US force will probably be a battalion-sized task force or larger.

b. As part of a PKO, an infantry company can expect to perform the following missions:

  • Manning check points/OPs.
  • Patrolling.
  • Controlling traffic.
  • Preventing or dispersing prohibited demonstrations.
  • Searching for missing persons.
  • Clearing mines.
  • Gathering information.
  • Marking buffer zones.
  • Receiving and transferring POWs and KIAs.
  • Providing humanitarian assistance.


PCOs are politically sensitive military operations normally characterized by a rapid deployment of forces in response to a specific problem.

a. The forces employed are tailored to the situation. They are employed as joint, combined, or both. Infantry companies will usually be a part of a larger task force; however, an infantry company could be the only maneuver force in country in some PCOs.

b. Some PCOs an infantry company may support or take part in are as follows:

  • Show of force/demonstration.
  • Strike and raid operations.
  • Noncombatant evacuation operations.
  • Rescue and recovery operations.
  • Support to US civil authorities.
  • Disaster assistance.
  • Counterdrug operations.
  • Civil disturbance operations.


The aim of combatting terrorism is to protect installations, units, and individuals. Combatting terrorism involves coordinated action before, during, and after terrorist incidents.

a. The infantry company combats terrorism through the integration of higher headquarters physical security, crime prevention, and OPSEC programs.

b. In any tactical environment, a terrorist attack is possible. The CO must take the appropriate actions to protect his unit from acts of terrorism. See FM 100-37 for terrorism counteraction.


Low intensity conflict can occur in any part of the world. Units must have the ability to operate in any terrain and climate, be it jungle, mountain, desert, swamp, or arctic tundra. In addition, LIC is most likely to develop in a nation with social, political, economic, and psychological factors that contribute to political instability. Each developing nation is unique; each has it own history, culture, goals, and problems. Due to unstable systems, the US forces deployed into these areas are subject to rapid and drastic changes in missions and situations. The infantry company commander must understand this environment and plan for rapid changes in mission. The following are considerations peculiar to a LIC environment.


The command relationship normally follows the guidelines of standard levels of command. However, there are situations in which the CO could find himself receiving directives from the theater commander, CINC, or even the president. In addition, as forces react to a situation, the on-site infantry company commander (or even platoon leader) could be in charge of several different organizations that include senior officers.


The ROE are based on political considerations, the threat, and the tactical situation. They are directed by higher military authorities. At times, the ROE may conflict with the protection of US forces. Infantry companies will have to operate in this highly constrained and stressful environment. This requires the utmost patience, training, and discipline. Commanders must ensure that the ROE are complied with. This may require modifying many combat skills and will require establishing extensive training and awareness programs. In addition to the ROE, the infantry company may receive ROC, which provide guidance for dealing with confrontations short of combat engagements. Every soldier must understand the ROE/ROC and the actions to take in every possible confrontation.


In LIC, operations are conducted in an environment with foreign languages, customs, practices, and religions. Each soldier is considered an ambassador of the US. Company commanders must ensure their soldiers understand their role and conduct themselves in a manner that gains the support of the local populace.


Company commanders and their subordinates must be familiar with the legal basis for their presence in a foreign country. They should understand the basic rules of international and domestic law, and the major restrictions imposed upon them by law.


In LIC, every individual is an intelligence-collecting instrument. This includes friendly forces, enemy elements, and the local populace. From the friendly standpoint, each soldier must be familiar with local PIRs and IRs. The collection of information is a continuous process and all information must be reported. The enemy are continuously seeking intelligence on US actions, and they often blend easily with the civilian population. The US soldiers must be aware of this ability and use OPSEC at all times.


Roadblocks, checkpoints and searches are all used to control the movement of vehicles, personnel, or materiel along a specific route. Established infantry doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures still apply when operating in a LIC environment, but they may require changes to fit the circumstance. For additional information, see FMs 7-8 and 7-20.


A roadblock is used to limit the movement of vehicles along a route or to close access to certain areas or roads. Checkpoints are manned locations used to control movement. A roadblock is used with a checkpoint to channel vehicles and personnel to the search area. Roadblocks maybe set up on a temporary, surprise basis or may be semi-permanent in nature. They are used--

  • To maintain a continuous check on road movement, to apprehend suspects, and to prevent smuggling of controlled items.
  • To prevent infiltration of unauthorized civilians into or through a controlled area.
  • To check vehicles for explosive devices.
  • To ensure proper use of routes by both civilian and military vehicles.

a. Since roadblocks cause considerable inconvenience and even fear, ensure that the civil population understands the roadblocks are a preventive and not a punitive measure.

b. Armored vehicles make very effective mobile roadblocks and checkpoints. Local security must be provided.

c. Roadblocks and checkpoints may be either deliberate or hasty. The deliberate roadblock or checkpoint is a relatively fixed position in a town or in the open country, often on a main road. It acts as a useful deterrent to unlawful movement. The hasty roadblock or checkpoint is highly mobile and is quickly positioned in a town or in the open country. Its actual location is designed to achieve surprise.

d. Conceal the roadblock or checkpoint when possible. The location should make it difficult for a person to turn back or reverse a vehicle without being observed. Culverts, bridges, or deep cuts may be suitable locations. Positions beyond sharp curves have the advantage that drivers do not see the checkpoint in sufficient time to avoid inspection. However, it should not be positioned so that it is such a sudden surprise drivers will not have enough time to stop safely.

e. A roadblock/checkpoint requires adequate soldiers to provide security. A security force is concealed an appropriate distance (100 to several hundred meters in the direction of approaching traffic) from the roadblock or checkpoint to prevent the escape of any vehicle or person attempting to turn back upon sighting the checkpoint. The vehicle, driver, and passengers are searched. If the roadblock or checkpoint is manned for any length of time, part of the force is allowed to rest. The rest area is located near the search area so that the soldiers can be assembled quickly as a reserve force. If possible, the area designated for searching vehicles is below ground level (for example, "turret down") to deflect an explosive blast upward.

f. For a roadblock/checkpoint to achieve maximum results, special equipment is required.

(1) Signs. Portable signs in then native language and in English must be available. Signs should denote the speed limit of approach, vehicle search area, vehicle parking area, male and female search areas, and dismount point.

(2) Lights. Adequate lighting is essential for the search area at night.

(3) Communication. Radio or land line communication is required between the various locations supporting the checkpoint operation. These include the security position, the rest area, the search area, and the company commander.

(4) Barriers. Obstacles across the road and around the search area should be provided. Clearly marked barbed wire, busses parked sideways in the road, felled trees, or any other readily available strong object will work. Obstacles must be strong and big enough to prevent motorists from driving through or around them.

(5) Firepower. Soldiers must have adequate firepower to withstand an attack or to halt a vehicle attempting to flee or crash through the checkpoint.

(6) Linguists. Soldiers familiar with the native language are essential on all roadblocks or checkpoints.


The checkpoint and roadblock is established by placing two parallel obstacles across the road. In addition to having barriers large enough to prevent someone from running over or through them, barriers should have a gap negotiable only by slowly moving vehicles.

a. The separation between obstacles depends on the amount of traffic that is held in the search area. The blocked section of road can be used as the search area. If possible, there should be a place adjacent to the road where large vehicles can be searched without delaying the flow of traffic.

b. Areas are required for searching female suspects and detaining persons for further interrogation. If possible, the personnel manning a checkpoint should include a member of the civil police; an interpreter; and a trained, female searcher. When searching a vehicle, all occupants are made to get out and stand clear of the vehicle. The driver should be made to watch the search of his vehicle. The searcher always has an assistant to watch the passengers and provide additional security. Politeness and consideration should be shown at all times when searching. The occupants of the vehicle can be searched at the same time if sufficient searchers are available.


A search may be oriented on people, on materiel, on buildings, or on terrain. It usually involves both civil police and military personnel.

a. Considerations. Since misuse of search authority can adversely affect the ultimate outcome of operations, seizure of contraband, evidence, intelligence material, supplies, or minor items during searches must be accomplished lawfully and properly recorded to be of future legal value. Proper use of authority in searches gains the respect and support of the people. See FM 7-20 for more information concerning search authorization.

(1) Military personnel must be aware that they perform searches only in areas within military jurisdiction (or where otherwise lawful) for purposes of apprehending suspects or securing evidence that tends to prove an offense has been committed.

(2) Search teams have detailed instructions on controlled items. Lists of prohibited or controlled distribution items should be distributed.

(3) Search operations involving US forces may be ineffective when language differences prevent full communication with the indigenous population. Platoons and squads given a search mission are provided with interpreters as required.

(4) The pace of a search operation is slow enough to allow for an effective search, but rapid enough to prevent the enemy from reacting to the threat of the search.

(5) If active resistance develops, use the least force possible to respond. If the threat is high, the search may be conducted more like a tactical mission. For example, when searching a building, the unit is organized and prepared to assault the building. But the searchers only initiate fires in self defense. The search teams are organized in 2- to 3-man teams. They use the same basic techniques for clearing a room (FM 90-10-1) as in combat; however, instead of coming through a window or kicking in the door, they knock and inform the occupants of their actions. They cover each other as they search the rooms and are prepared to fight at any time.

b. Search of Individuals. Anyone in an area to be searched can be an insurgent or a sympathizer. However, searchers must avoid making an enemy out of a suspect who may, in fact, support the host country government. It is during the initial handling of a person about to be searched that the greatest caution is required. One member of a search team always covers the other one who is making the actual search. FM 7-8 covers procedures for searching individuals.

c. Search of Females. The enemy may use females for all tasks where search may be a threat. If female searchers cannot be provided, consider using the medic to search female suspects. When male soldiers must search females, take every possible measure to prevent accusations of sexual molestation or assault.


A basic principle when searching a built-up area is to limit the inconvenience to the population. They should be inconvenienced to the point where insurgents and sympathizers are discouraged from remaining in the locale, but not to the point that they collaborate with the enemy as a result of the search. Avoid physical reconnaissance of the area just before a search.

a. Command and Control. Normally, a search is controlled by the civil police with the military in support. A search involving a large force may be controlled by the military commander with the civil police in support. Regardless of the controlling agency, the actual search is performed by host country police when they are available in adequate numbers and have been trained in search operations.

b. Rehearsal. Search techniques in built-up areas are required for searching either a few isolated huts or buildings, or for searching well-developed urban sections. Therefore, search operations in built-up areas require thorough preparation and rehearsal.

c. Conduct of the Search. During searches of built-up areas, divide the area into zones and assign a search party to each. A search party consists of a search element (to conduct the search), a cordon element (to encircle the area to prevent entrance and exit, and to secure open areas), and a reserve element (to assist, as required).

(1) The search element conducts the mission assigned for the operation. Normally, it is organized into special teams. These teams may include personnel and special equipment for handling of prisoners, interrogation, documentation (recorder with camera), demolitions, PSYOPS/civil affairs, mine detection, fire support, scout dog employment, and tunnel reconnaissance.

(2) The cordon element surrounds the area while the search element moves in. Members of the cordon element orient primarily to prevent escape from the search areas; however, they must also keep out any insurgents trying to reinforce. Checkpoints and road blocks are established.

(3) The reserve element is a mobile force located nearby. Its specific mission is to assist the other two elements. In addition, it is capable of replacing or reinforcing either of the other two elements should the need arise.

d. Additional Considerations. Any enemy material found, including propaganda signs and leaflets, may be booby trapped; consider it so until inspection proves it safe. Thoroughly search underground and underwater areas. Suspect any freshly excavated ground; it could be a hiding place. Use mine detectors to locate metal objects underground and underwater.


In LIC, the infantry will use the same individual and collective skills for conducting combat operations as in a conventional war. The only difference is the restrictions placed on operations. Combat techniques and procedures are modified to correspond with the ROE and ROC.


There are a number of special skills, talents, and attributes that must be developed to be sensitive to the needs of the local population as well as to be protective of US forces in accomplishing the mission. The attributes of leadership and discipline are important in all military operations. In LIC, they have added significance.

a. Leadership. The leaders within the company must be innovative, imaginative, flexible, and disciplined. They must be able to conduct small-scale operations over extended distances. They must execute assigned missions within the established ROE/ROC while at the same time protecting their subordinates. They must make quick decisions that are within the established guidelines and do not jeopardize US interests and objectives. Leaders must instill a high level of discipline within their soldiers.

b. Discipline. Disciplined soldiers are a critical element in the performance of US forces in LIC. Soldiers must comply with the rules of engagement. They must have the discipline to cope with the stress of day-to-day operations, adjust psychologically to enemy operations that may include acts of terrorism, and display acceptable practices to the local populace. The CO must take the following actions to instill the needed discipline.

(1) Train every soldier for possible contingencies based on METT-T.

(2) Maintain a continuous training program on the threat and the US relationship with the local government and civilian populace.

(3) Keep the soldiers informed of what is required of them, the current situation, and the reasons for actions taken by the unit.

(4) Establish recreational, educational, and other training programs.

(5) Encourage and establish communication between soldiers and home stations, families, and personal affairs personnel.


Because of the decentralized nature of LIC, it is probable that an infantry company may work with SOF. These missions are usually coordinated at brigade level; however, there may be times when the SOF unit coordinates directly with the company. The key to the success of such operations is to decentralize the requirements to ensure a quick response to the situation without time-consuming coordination and a need for approval that may result in a lost opportunity.

a. Special operating forces, particularly special forces personnel because of their expertise with the language and the area, may be able to provide the infantry unit valuable information about the local populace. During operation "Just Cause", an infantry rifle company from the 3d Brigade, 7th Infantry Division was supported by a navy SEAL team in crossing a waterway into Colon to clear the city. SOF may support infantry units--

(1) By interfacing with the local people/agencies.

(2) By interfacing with other US agencies in the area.

(3) By providing limited PSYOPs and civil affairs support.

(4) By providing language capability or expertise of the local area.

b. Another example, also during "Just Cause", is when a rifle company from the 3d Battalion, 27th Infantry worked directly with a SF A-Team. The rifle company isolated a village while the SF personnel talked the PDF commander into surrendering his force. This was accomplished without a shot being fired because the rifle company's show of force was complemented by the SF team's language capability and knowledge of the local area and people. Likely missions for an infantry company working with SOF include:

(1) Providing a reaction force or reinforcement during direct action or special reconnaissance missions.

(2) Conducting a linkup/relief in place.

(3) Isolating areas or objectives.

(4) Augmenting/supporting civil affairs or PSYOPs personnel.


Company training programs must emphasize physical and mental conditioning and provide acclimation to the operation environment. Emphasis must be placed on the required combat skills. In addition to common skills, sustainment training is required for--

  • Cross-training of personnel in all types of weapons, communications, and other unit equipment.
  • Training in the use of nonorganic/indigenous country equipment, such as shotguns, boats, hand-held automatic weapons, and mine detectors.
  • Training in identifying/disarming mines and booby traps.
  • Learning a few words in the native language.
  • Understanding threat tactics, techniques, and procedures.
  • Understanding ROE/ROC.
  • Gaining knowledge of local inhabitants, to include customs, religion, courtesies, and drinking/food habits.

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