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When the company conducts a road march as part of the battalion, the march is planned by the battalion staff. When the company conducts a road march alone, the company commander plans the march.


The following definitions apply to marches.

a. March Unit. A unit that moves and halts at the command of a single commander; it is normally a platoon, but may be a company.

b. Serial. A group of march units under a single commander; it is given a number or letter designation to aid planning and control.

c. Arrival Time. This is the time the head of a column reaches a designated point or line.

d. Clearance Time. This is the time the tail of a column passes a designated point or line.

e. Column Gap. This is the space, time, or distance between two consecutive elements following each other on the same route. It is stated in units of length (meters) or units of time (minutes) and is measured from the rear of one element to the front of the following element.

f. Vehicle Distance. This is the space between two consecutive vehicles.

g. Start Point. This is a well-defined point on a route where the units come under the control of the movement commander and start the move. At this point, the column is formed by the successive passing of the units.

h. Release Point. This is a well-defined point on a route where the elements of a column leave the control of the movement commander and return to the control of their respective commanders/leaders.

i. Completion Time. This is the time the tail of a column passes the release point.

j. Critical Point. This is a point on the route of march, such as a busy intersection, used for reference in giving instructions. It may also designate a point on the route where interference with troop movement might occur.

k. Length of a Column. This is the length of roadway occupied by a column, including the gaps, measured from front to rear of the column.

l. Pace Setter. This is a person or vehicle in the lead element that is responsible for regulating movement speed.

m. Pass Time. This is the time between the moment the first element passes a given point and when the last element passes the same point.

n. Rate of March. This is the average distance traveled in a given period of time (speed in kmph), including short halts or delays.

o. Time Distance. This is the time it takes the head of a column to move from one point to another at a. given rate of march.

p. Traffic Density. This is the average number of vehicles that occupy 1 kilometer or 1 mile of road space; it is expressed in VPK or VPM.

NOTE: FM 21-18 explains formulas to compute movement time.


The company moves prepared to fight at all times. It is normally organized into platoon-size march units for control and unit integrity. The normal march formation is the column; however, the commander may decide to use another formation based on the factors of METT-T.

a. When moving along a road, the company moves with one rile on each side of the road. Do not split squads by placing a fire team in each file, because if there is contact, these teams will have a danger area between them. When moving cross-country, the company moves with two files 5 meters apart. There should be 2 to 5 meters between soldiers and 50 meters between platoons. The normal rate of march for an 8-hour march is 4 kmph. The interval and rate of march depend on the length of the march, time allowed, likelihood of enemy contact (ground, air, or artillery), terrain and weather, condition of the soldiers, and the weight of the soldiers' loads.

b. If the company is marching to a secure area, the company vehicles (if applicable) and mortars may precede the company as a separate march unit. This permits those elements to be operational when the company arrives. If the vehicles move with the company, the last vehicle should have a radio so the commander can be contacted in emergencies.

c. The CO may use the company's vehicles to shuttle the company. The vehicles take as many men as they can carry to the detrucking point, while the remainder of the company starts the march on foot. The vehicles unload, drive back to where they meet the marching company and pick up another load of soldiers. They repeat this process until the entire company is at its destination.


A company must be given additional vehicles to conduct a motor march. These will normally come from the division supply and transportation battalion; however, the company commander is responsible for and must plan the air and ground security. He must also tell the drivers where to go and what action to take if the company is attacked.

a. The CO normally organizes the platoons into march units. When moving as part of the battalion, the company is normally a serial. To provide all-round security, the CO assigns security tasks to each march unit. Some tasks may be assigned by SOP; for example, every vehicle will have an airguard with a sector of observation. When supported with vehicles armed with MK19s or M2 machine guns, the CO positions these vehicles to provide quick fire support.

b. The formations used in a motor march are close column, open column, and infiltration. Before the move, the CO should designate a maximum catch-up speed (greater than the prescribed march rate) for vehicles regaining lost distance. To control the column, the CO should use guides, escorts, and route markers. He should use radios, arm-and-hand signals, flags, and flashlights for communications.

(1) A close column is one in which the vehicles are spaced about 20 meters apart in daylight to increase its density and to reduce pass time. During limited visibility, they are spaced so that each driver can see the blackout markers of the vehicle to his front. This column may be used for movement through congested areas or over poorly marked routes.

(2) The vehicles in an open column are widely spaced as a passive defense measure, normally 75 to 100 meters apart. This permits other vehicles (not a part of the march unit) to overtake and enter the column, if necessary. It is normally used in daylight and on roads having civilian traffic. It may also be used on dusty roads to overcome the effects of the dust. Drivers do not get as tired and the chances of accidents are less than in close-column marches.

(3) During infiltrations, vehicles are usually dispatched singly or in small groups at irregular intervals and at a speed that reduces traffic density. Infiltration increases control problems, but is the best passive defense against enemy observation and attack. It is used when time and road space are available and maximum security, deception, and dispersion are required.


The company normally moves in a column. The lead platoon (march unit) maintains the rate of march. Usually, the commander is positioned in the formation where he can best command and control the unit's movement.

a. Before the road march, the route should be reconnoitered and march orders issued. The march order should include a strip map (Figure H-1). The strip map should show the assembly areas, start point, route, and RP. The CO may identify critical points on the route and post guides at those points to help control movement and to provide security. (See FM 21-18 for details on march orders.)

Figure H-1. Strip map.

b. The battalion scout platoon may reconnoiter the route. For motor marches, the scout platoon may prepare a hasty route classification. This may include hasty bridge classifications, ford site locations and conditions, road restrictions, sharpness of curves, and the slope percentage of steep hills. (For classification symbols and their meanings, see FM 5-36 and GTA 5-2-5.)

c. Arrival time at the start point is critical. The company must cross and clear the start point on time so that other units are not delayed. The CO should reconnoiter and time the route from his assembly area to the start point, so he can determine when the company must move to meet its start point time.

d. After crossing the start point, platoons report crossing each critical point. When moving as part of the battalion, the company commander, in turn, reports to the battalion commander when his company crosses and clears these points.

e. Before the company departs the assembly area it is occupying, the CO should send a quartering party to the new assembly area. The XO or ISG leads the party, which may consist of the platoon sergeants, squad representatives, and the required headquarters personnel. This party provides its own security and follows the same route of march as the company will to the new assembly area. At the assembly area, the quartering party does the following:

(1) Reconnoiters the area.

(2) Locates and marks or removes obstacles and mines.

(3) Marks platoon and squad sectors.

(4) Selects a position for the mortar section.

(5) Selects a command post location.

(6) Selects a company trains location.

(7) Provides guides for the incoming unit(s).


The CO must plan for the security of the company when moving. This includes security against both air and ground threats.

a. He assigns each platoon the responsibility for a security sector. For example, he may assign the lead platoon the front, the middle platoon the flanks, and the trail platoon the rear. The platoon sectors must overlap to provide all-round security.

b. He plans indirect fire to support the move. He plans targets along the route as he does for all other moves. He designates warning signals and battle drills (usually SOP).

(1) A Stinger section may support the company from positions along the route or by moving within the company column. Each Stinger team that is on the early warning net, can warn the company of an air attack. For that reason, each team should be within voice distance of someone having a radio on the company command net.

(2) The mortar section must be ready to go into action and fire quickly. The FO teams should be in continuous contact with the mortar and artillery fire direction centers. The lead FO should keep the FDC informed of the lead elements location.


An assembly area is a location where the company prepares for future operations. The company receives and issues orders, services and repairs vehicles and equipment, receives and issues supplies, and feeds and rests soldiers in the assembly area. When used to prepare for an attack, the assembly area is usually well forward.

a. Characteristics. Cover and concealment are important if the company is to remain in the area for any length of time. Vehicles, equipment, entrances, and exits should be camouflaged to keep the enemy from detecting the location of the company. Consideration should be given to the following:

  • Concealment.
  • Cover from direct and indirect fire.
  • Defendable terrain.
  • Drainage, and a surface that will support vehicles.
  • Exits and entrances, and adequate internal roads or trails.
  • Space for dispersion of vehicles, personnel, and equipment.
  • A suitable landing site nearby for helicopters.

b. Planning. The CO plans for an assembly area as he does for a perimeter defense (Chapter 5). He organizes the assembly area into a perimeter and assigns each platoon a sector of that perimeter. He also assigns positions to the TOW (if attached) and mortar sections, and selects positions for the company CP and trains. The commander and the FSO plan indirect fire in and around the assembly area.

c. Actions in the Assembly Area. Before the company moves into an assembly area, the CO should send a quartering party to reconnoiter and organize it (as discussed earlier).

(1) When the company arrives at the RP, the platoon guides link up with their platoons and immediately lead them to their positions. The company headquarters guide links up with the headquarters personnel and leads them to their positions. The movement from the RP to the positions should be continuous.

(2) Once in position, the platoons establish OPs and conduct patrols to secure the area. The platoon leaders then plan the defense of their sectors. Machine gunners, Dragon gunners, and TOW crews prepare range cards. Fighting positions are prepared according to available time. Other defensive measures are taken as appropriate.

d. Communications. Wire may be the primary means of communications within the assembly area; however, it may be supplemented by messenger, radio, and prearranged signals.

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