This chapter highlights the techniques and procedures considered by the reconnaissance platoon when conducting tactical movement. The reconnaissance platoon survives on the battlefield by using stealth and dispersion, and by maintaining security in all tactical movements. The planning and execution of movement are integral parts of all reconnaissance platoon operations. The reconnaissance platoon must employ the proper movement formation and technique when conducting movement. Regardless of parent organization, the reconnaissance platoon may be tasked to conduct movement by foot, helicopter, boat, or vehicle. This chapter discusses how the reconnaissance platoon uses those modes of transportation. Also, it discusses how the reconnaissance platoon is used as part of a battalion infiltration.
The reconnaissance platoon leader is responsible for planning and coordinating the platoon's movement. However, if rotary- or fixed-winged assets are used, the battalion staff accomplishes most of the planning and coordination. Also, the specifics of when, where, and how the platoon moves are directly linked to the battalion's plan. The general location of the reconnaissance platoon depends on the type of battalion operation-- for example, offense, defense, or retrograde. In most cases, offensive or defensive operations require the reconnaissance platoon to operate forward or to the flank of the battalion. In retrograde operations, the reconnaissance platoon operates in the rear area of the battalion. When and how the reconnaissance platoon conducts movement is established by the battalion S3 with approval by the commander.
Once the platoon leader understands when, where, and how the platoon is to move, he coordinates the specifics of the movement with the battalion S3. The platoon leader must always coordinate time requirements. The type of mission being conducted is key in determining time requirements. The platoon leader must advise the S3 on how much time he needs to conduct movement and also on how much time is required to perform his mission. This is important, especially when conducting reconnaissance operations. The reconnaissance platoon should not spend most of its time moving. Instead, this time should be spent reconnoitering. If the platoon is establishing OPs to conduct surveillance, then the time considerations are different. Once the platoon leader advises the S3 of the time requirements, the S3 allocates enough time for movement or obtains transportation assets to move the reconnaissance platoon. The platoon leader briefs the staff on the movement plan. This prevents potential problems if the battalion changes its plan. For fixed- or rotary-winged movement, the battalion staff coordinates the details.
The reconnaissance platoon must be able to operate in enemy territory and remain undetected. Regardless of whether the platoon is en route to an objective or operating near an objective, the platoon takes all necessary actions to ensure it remains undetected. The probability of being detected is directly related to the reconnaissance platoon's mission. A platoon conducting reconnaissance has a higher probability of being detected than does a platoon conducting surveillance. The platoon leader considers the risks associated with each mission. The battalion commander assists the platoon leader by expressing his acceptance criteria--the acceptance of the risks associated with obtaining detailed information. During movement, the platoon uses stealth to exploit the natural cover and concealment of the terrain. When possible, the platoon moves when visibility is reduced such as during darkness, fog, snow, or rain. It uses rough, swampy, or heavily vegetated terrain to avoid detection. All members of a reconnaissance platoon must be masters of stealth. Leaders must be proactive in their efforts to avoid detection. (Appendix F discusses the action taken by the platoon when contact is made.)
Security involves not only the platoon's security but also the battalion's security. Security during movement includes those actions the reconnaissance platoon takes to protect itself and those tasks given to the platoon to provide security for the battalion. The platoon and squads enhance their own security during movement through the use of covered and concealed terrain; the use of the appropriate movement formation and technique; the actions taken to secure danger areas during crossing; the enforcement of noise, light, and radiotelephone discipline; and the use of proper individual camouflage techniques. When tasked to screen the flank or front of the battalion, the reconnaissance platoon must ensure that the main body is not surprised by the enemy. This requires the reconnaissance platoon to move in relation to the protected force. (Screening operations are discussed in Chapter 5.)
The platoon leader coordinates for fire support with the battalion FSO and, when possible, the mortar platoon leader. The FSO advises the platoon leader on available assets and possible target locations. The platoon leader requests necessary adjustments to the initial fire support plan based on his needs. The platoon leader also briefs the FSO on the platoon's route and final location. The platoon leader must ensure that targets are planned along the route. If the FSO is aware of the platoon's location, he can prevent possible calls for fire on the platoon. The FSO also advises the platoon of preplanned fires and locations where the use of indirect fires are prohibited. (See Chapter 7 for information on the reconnaissance platoon's use of fire support.)
This section discusses how the reconnaissance platoon uses movement formations and techniques when conducting tactical movements. The platoon leader designates the appropriate movement formation and technique based upon analysis of METT-T and OAKOC (The organization of the reconnaissance platoon requires modification of the formations as found in FM 7-8.)
Formations are arrangements of elements and soldiers in relation to each other. Squads use formations for control, flexibility, and security. Squad leaders choose formations based upon their analysis of METT-T and OAKOC or based upon guidance from the platoon leader. Squad leaders are up front in formations. This allows the squad leader to control the movement and location of individual soldiers. Each soldier within a squad or platoon formation is responsible for maintaining security for a designated area. Squad leaders or the platoon leader assigns additional duties such as compass man and pace man. These soldiers assist the leader with the navigation. The senior leader within a formation is always responsible for the navigation. When necessary, an alternate pace man and compass man can be designated. The wedge and file are the basic squad formations.
a. Wedge Formation. The wedge formation is the basic formation for
the squad (Figure 3-1). The interval between soldiers in this formation
is normally 10 meters. The wedge expands and contracts depending on the
terrain. When rough terrain, poor visibility, or other factors make control
of the wedge difficult, the wedge must be modified. The normal interval is
reduced so that all members can see the squad leader. The sides of the
wedge can contract to the point that the wedge resembles a single file.
When moving in less rugged terrain where control is easier, soldiers
resume their original positions.
Figure 3-1. Squad wedge formation.
b. File Formation. When the terrain precludes use of the wedge or
when operating during limited visibility, the squad uses the file formation
Figure 3-2. Squad file formation.
The reconnaissance platoon normally moves as separate squads under the control of the platoon leader or platoon sergeant. Although the platoon moves by squads, there are times when the platoon leader chooses to move as a platoon. This decision is based upon METT-T and OAKOC. When moving as a platoon, the platoon moves in column, wedge, or file formations.
a. Platoon Column. The platoon column formation is the primary
movement formation used by the reconnaissance platoon when moving as a
platoon (Figure 3-3). It provides good dispersion both laterally and
in depth and simplifies control. If contact is made, the lead squad
becomes the base squad.
Figure 3-3. Platoon column formation.
b. Platoon Wedge. The platoon wedge formation has two squads in
the rear that overwatch or trail the lead squad (Figure 3-4). It allows
the platoon leader to make contact with a small element (squad) and still
have one or two squads to maneuver. The lead squad is the base squad.
Figure 3-4. Platoon wedge formation.
c. Platoon File. The platoon file formation may be set up in several
ways. One method is to have three-squad files follow one another using
one of the movement techniques. Another method is to have a single-platoon
file with a front security element (point) and flank security elements.
This formation is used when visibility is poor due to terrain, vegetation,
or light conditions. The distance between soldiers is less than normal;
this allows messages to be passed up and down the file (Figure 3-5).
Figure 3-5. Platoon file formation with flank security.
A movement technique is the manner in which the reconnaissance platoon traverses terrain. The three movement techniques are traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch. The platoon leader selects a movement technique based on the likelihood of enemy contact and the need for speed. Factors considered for each technique are control, dispersion, speed, and security ( Table 3-1).
Table 3-1. Movement techniques, uses, and characteristics.
a. Platoon Movement Technique. The platoon leader determines
and directs the movement technique that the reconnaissance platoon will
(1) Traveling. Use traveling when enemy contact is not likely and
speed is needed (Figure 3-6).
Figure 3-6. Platoon traveling.
(2) Traveling overwatch. Use traveling overwatch when contact is
possible but speed is needed (Figure 3-7). The platoon leader moves
where he can best control the platoon. The platoon sergeant travels with
the trailing squad though he is free to move throughout the formation to
enforce security, noise and light discipline, and distance between squads.
Figure 3-7. Platoon traveling overwatch.
(3) Bounding overwatch. Use bounding overwatch when contact is
expected (Figure 3-8). The platoon leader makes the decision
to use successive or alternate bounds.
(a) One squad bounding. One squad bounds forward to a chosen position.
This element becomes the overwatching squad unless contact is made en route.
The squad leader chooses the movement formation or individual movement
technique for his squad.
(b) One squad overwatching. One squad overwatches the bounding squad from covered positions. The squad leader selects a position that allows the overwatching element to place direct fire in support of the bounding squad. Soldiers scan their assigned sector and maintain visual contact with the bounding squad, if possible. The platoon leader remains with the overwatching squad.
(c) One squad awaiting orders. One squad is uncommitted and ready for employment as directed by the platoon leader. The platoon sergeant and leader of the squad awaiting orders position themselves close to the platoon leader.
Figure 3-8. Platoon bounding overwatch.
- Requirements of the mission.
- Where the enemy is likely to be.
- Ability of the overwatching element's weapons to cover the bound.
- Responsiveness of the rest of the platoon.
- Fields of fire at the next overwatch position.
- Direction or location of the enemy (if known).
- Positions of the overwatching squad.
- Next overwatch position.
- What to do after the bounding squad reaches the next position.
- What signal the bounding squad will use to announce it is prepared to overwatch.
- How the squad will receive the next orders.
(d) Considerations. When deciding where to have the bounding
squad go, the platoon leader considers the following:
(e) Instructions. Before a bound, the platoon leader gives an order to his squad leaders from the overwatch position. He tells and shows them the following:
For the reconnaissance platoon, organizing, planning, and conducting tactical movement should be second nature. The reconnaissance platoon conducts movement by foot, helicopter, boat, or vehicle. This section discusses techniques and considerations the reconnaissance platoon uses when conducting tactical movement.
Regardless of the means of transportation into an area of operation, the reconnaissance platoon eventually moves on foot to accomplish its mission. The ability of the platoon to accomplish its mission is directly related to how it uses the terrain. The reconnaissance platoon avoids enemy contact by using the most effective movement formation and technique and by maintaining security. When planning for movement, the platoon leader considers the following:
- Departure and reentry of friendly lines.
- Route selection.
- Land navigation.
- Control measures.
a. Departure and Reentry of Friendly Lines. The reconnaissance
platoon must ensure that departure and reentry of friendly lines are
coordinated and that everyone understands the plan. The platoon leader
coordinates directly with the unit through which the platoon will pass.
The battalion S3 provides a location and time for link up with the
stationary unit. Once the platoon leader has this information, he
coordinates the following:
(1) The leader provides--
- Identification (himself and his platoon).
- Number of personnel.
- Time and location of passage point (departure and return).
- Terrain details.
- Obstacles and lanes.
- Known or suspected enemy locations or activity.
- Possible danger areas.
- Fire plan, patrols operating forward of the position.
- Signal and communications information.
- Code words, challenge, and passwords.
- Contingency plan for enemy contact.
- Casualty/vehicle evacuation assistance.
- Additional support that can be furnished.
(2) The stationary unit provides--
(3) At the designated time, the platoon arrives at the linkup point and makes contact with the guide (Figure 3-9). The guide leads the platoon leader to the CP or directly to the passage point to make final coordination. The platoon moves to the IRP or occupies a security position and waits for the platoon leader to return.
Figure 3-9. Departure from friendly lines.
(4) The platoon leader then makes the final coordination with the
commander or his designated representative. The platoon leader is
briefed on changes that have taken place and on recent enemy activity that
could affect the reconnaissance platoon.
- Use a well-hidden passage point such as a reverse slope or dense woods.
- Infiltrate through the passage area and rendezvous in a covered and concealed rally point.
- Conduct passage when rain, fog, or snow helps to conceal the passage.
- Coordinate with the battalion S2 for employment of ECM.
(5) Upon returning from final coordination, the platoon leader issues a FRAGO to cover changes. The technique for passing through friendly units depends on the situation. The three situations and techniques are--
(a) Ambush and chance contact. If the platoon leader learns the enemy
is operating directly forward of the friendly position, he takes steps to
avoid enemy contact. From the friendly side of the departure point, the
reconnaissance platoon sends the lead squad to see if the area forward of
the passage point is clear. The lead squad checks the area to identify an
area large enough to allow the platoon to conduct a security halt or to
maneuver if engaged. This area is normally close to a designated TRP. The
lead squad notifies the platoon leader when the area is clear, then the
platoon moves through the passage point to the designated area.
(b) Indirect fire. If the enemy is using indirect fire, the platoon should not halt after final coordination at the forward CP. It quickly moves through the friendly position to reduce exposure to enemy fire.
(c) Night observation. Enemy limited visibility capabilities are countered by taking the following countermeasures:
(6) The platoon sergeant ensures that all members of the platoon are accounted for. He positions himself at the passage point and counts each soldier as they pass. Once the last soldier passes, the platoon sergeant notifies the platoon leader and moves through the passage point.
(7) The platoon conducts a security or listening halt after moving out of sight and sound of the friendly position. This is a short halt to accustom the reconnaissance platoon to the sights and sounds of the battlefield. The platoon halts in a position that provides cover from chance friendly small-arms fire.
(8) After the reconnaissance platoon accomplishes its mission, it may be required to reenter friendly lines. The initial coordination that took place for departure should have included the plan for reentry. If none was made or when directed to pass through a different friendly position, coordination must be accomplished with the battalion S3 and the commander of the unit through which the reconnaissance platoon will reenter This coordination is accomplished by radio. The items coordinated are the same as for departure.
(9) When reentering friendly lines, the reconnaissance platoon moves to and occupies the reentry RP. This point should be easily identified during limited visibility. The platoon leader notifies the commander of the friendly position that it has occupied the reentry RP and requests that a guide be sent to the contact point (Figure 3-10).
(10) The platoon leader then sends an element to the contact point to coordinate passage. Depending on the situation, the contact point can also be the passage point. Once contact with the guide is established, the platoon moves to the contact point and follows the guide through the passage point. The platoon sergeant accounts for all members of the reconnaissance platoon (Figure 3-10).
Figure 3-10. Reentry of friendly lines.
b. Route Selection. Upon notification by battalion to conduct
movement, the platoon leader begins to analyze his proposed area of
operation. The characteristics of the terrain and the enemy situation
influence the selection of routes. If unfamiliar with the area, the
platoon leader requests aerial photographs, terrain analysis overlays
prepared by the S2, or talks with someone familiar with the area. The
routes selected by the platoon leader should avoid contact with the
enemy, local inhabitants, built-up areas, and natural lines of drift.
The reconnaissance platoon always strives to reach its objective area
without being detected. Selecting primary and alternate routes and
dividing each route into legs (Figure 3-11) helps the platoon remain
undetected by having planned changes in the direction of movement.
Figure 3-11. Route selection.
(1) Terrain analysis. To select a route, analyze the terrain in which
the platoon will operate. Terrain analysis focuses on the military aspects
of the terrain, known collectively as OAKOC. This analysis must be
accomplished with an understanding of the mission and tactical situation.
(a) Observation and fields of fire. Seek routes that afford the
platoon observation. Avoid areas that will expose the platoon to the
(b) Avenues of approach. Avoid likely avenues of approach. The enemy will probably have them under surveillance or covered by fire.
(c) Key terrain. Look for key terrain to aid in navigation and control; however, be aware that the enemy will most likely have it occupied or covered by fire.
(d) Obstacles. Seek routes that will not impede the platoon's movement. In some cases, the platoon selects a route that impedes movement but enhances security.
(e) Cover and concealment. Seek routes that help to conceal the movement of the platoon, thus, assists in avoiding detection by the enemy.
(2) Tactical consideration. The nature of the mission, time limitations, and the mode of transportation (mounted or dismounted) influence the selection of routes. Routes must avoid known or suspected enemy locations. Do not pick a route that parallels an enemy position. Enemy scouts and patrols look for signs of friendly activity. Avoid routes with obvious danger areas such as built-up areas, roads, and trails. The selection of a route varies according to the time of day. During daylight, use a route with heavy vegetation to protect the platoon from enemy observation. During limited visibility, use a route that affords silent movement. When possible, always move during limited visibility.
(3) Navigational consideration. The platoon leader selects prominent terrain features along the route and ensures everyone memorizes their location or sequence. These features are used as checkpoints or locations from which the direction of the route changes. The distance between checkpoints while moving along a route is determined by keeping an accurate pace count when walking or by using an odometer when traveling in a vehicle. Two techniques used to assist in navigation are the offset-compass method or box-in method.
(a) The offset-compass method is a preplanned deviation to the right
or left of a straight-line azimuth to the platoon's destination. By using
this method, the platoon leader knows whether he is to the left or right of
his destination. Each degree of offset moves the platoon 17 meters right
or left for each kilometer traveled.
(b) The box-in method uses natural or man-made features such as roads or streams that form boundaries for a route. By referring to these boundaries, any large deviation from the planned route can be recognized and corrected.
c. Land Navigation. Every member of the reconnaissance platoon, particularly the leaders, must be experts in land navigation. Superior land navigation skills should be inherent in all reconnaissance platoon soldiers. (See FM 21-26 for more information.) Important land navigation tasks that each soldier must master include:
- Locate a point using grid coordinates.
- Use a compass (day/night).
- Determine location using resection, intersection, or modified resection.
- Interpret terrain features.
- Measure distance and elevation.
d. Control Measures. The platoon leader controls the movement of his squads. The following is a list of several techniques that are available to assist the platoon leader in controlling the direction and speed of the squads:
- Arm-and-hand signals.
- Luminous tape.
- Movement formations.
- Movement techniques.
- Rally points.
- Phase lines.
Air movement operations are those operations involving the use of Army airlift assets (other than air assaults). Air assault operations are those in which assault forces using the firepower, mobility, and total integration of helicopter assets maneuver on the battlefield to engage and destroy enemy forces and to seize and hold key terrain. The battalion staff plans and coordinates air assault operations. The reconnaissance platoon must understand its role and responsibility in air assault operations. (See FM 90-4 for detailed information on air assault operations.) When the battalion staff plans an air assault, it develops five plans. These plans, in order of importance, are the ground tactical plan, the landing plan, the air movement plan, the loading plan, and the staging plan.
a. Ground Tactical Plan. A successful air assault operation focuses
on the commander's ground tactical plan around which later planning is
based. The ground tactical plan for an air assault operation is basically
the same as for any other infantry operation. The reconnaissance platoon's
mission will be no different than from any other operation. It is still
required to provide information to the commander. The only difference is the
mode of transportation used to move the platoon.
b. Landing Plan. The landing plan supports the ground tactical plan. This plan sequences combat, CS, and CSS assets into the area of operations. The reconnaissance platoon may be inserted as part of the main body or may precede the main body. The commander makes this decision. If he needs to obtain information before deploying the main body, then the reconnaissance platoon would be inserted early. Insertion methods vary according to the training and availability of specialized equipment. The reconnaissance platoon can be inserted by parachute, fast rope, or rappelling. It may be required to provide information concerning the availability of landing zones. Each soldier needs to be familiar with the characteristics and requirements of landing zones. The platoon must also rehearse its action when exiting helicopters on a landing zone.
(1) Landing zones. LZs are the areas in which helicopters land and
troops depart the aircraft. They are selected by the battalion commander
(or his S3) with technical advice from an aviation liaison officer (ALO).
Criteria for selecting an LZ includes:
- Observation helicopters--25 meters.
- UH-1 and AH-1 helicopters--35 meters.
- UH-60 and AH-64 helicopters--50 meters.
- Cargo helicopters-80 meters.
(a) Identification. An LZ should be easy to identify from the air.
Unless a soldier actually flies over the LZ, he cannot determine if the LZ
is identifiable especially at night. Leaders mark the LZ with signaling
devices to assist the pilots in locating the LZ. The code letter Y (inverted
Y) is used to mark the landing point of the lead aircraft at night. Chemical
light sticks or beanbag lights may be used to maintain light discipline.
(Figure 3-12) VS-17 panels or mirrors can be used during daylight.
(b) Obstacles. The approach and departure ends of an LZ should be free of tall trees, telephone lines or power lines, or similar obstacles that may interfere with helicopter landings or lift-off. Obstacles that cannot be removed should be marked with red. For planning purposes, an obstacle-clearance ratio of 10 to 1 is used on the approach and departure ends of the LZ or PZ. For example, a landing point requires 100 feet of horizontal clearance if a helicopter must approach or depart directly over a 10-foot-tall tree (Figure 3-13).
(c) Size. Size requirements depend on the type and number of aircraft. They are based on the least acceptable distances between aircraft (Figure Figure 3-14). The following list provides the minimum diameter for landing points for a particular type of helicopter:
Figure 3-12. Inverted Y.
Figure 3-13. Obstacle considerations.
(d) Ground slope landing. As a guide, if the ground slope is 0 to 6
percent, the aircraft is landed up slope. If the slope is 7 to 15 percent,
the aircraft is landed sideslope. If the slope is greater than 15 percent,
the aircraft hovers to insert or extract soldiers and equipment.
Figure 3-14. Landing more than one helicopter (day and night).
(e) Surface conditions. Surface conditions should not conceal the
touchdown point or create hazards to landing (sand, blowing dust, snow).
Any aircraft landing will cause debris to fly up. However, if the debris
is excessive, it could prevent the pilot from landing. The pilot determines
the severity of the problem as he attempts to land.
(f) Approach/departure. Aircraft approach and depart along the long axis of the LZ/PZ, over the lowest obstacle, and into the wind.
(g) Enemy. Landing zones are located away from enemy concentrations. The reconnaissance platoon conducts a zone reconnaissance to ensure enemy forces do not interfere with the landing plan.
(2) Landing zone operations. Just as there is a priority of work for defensive operations, there is a priority of actions on the landing in an LZ.
(a) Soldiers do not begin unloading the aircraft until directed by the
crew chief or pilot (Figure 3-15). Before leaving the aircraft, the chalk
leader checks the landing direction and grid coordinates with the pilot if
not accomplished during the approach. This aids orientation to the LZ,
especially at night.
Figure 3-15. UH-60 unloading diagram.
(b) Once the aircraft has landed, soldiers unbuckle seat belts and
exit as fast as possible. They move away from the side of the aircraft
and assume the prone position. With their weapons ready, they face away
from the aircraft until the aircraft leaves the LZ.
(c) The platoon leader consolidates the platoon by designating an assembly point. This can be an identifiable terrain feature or the nearest covered and concealed position. The platoon leader can also designate an azimuth to move off the LZ. Once the platoon is consolidated, it executes its assigned mission.
(d) If the decision is made to use a hot LZ or contact is made upon landing, soldiers quickly dismount and move away from the aircraft. They immediately return fire and attempt to gain fire superiority. The platoon leader notifies battalion that the LZ is hot. If the situation allows, soldiers fire and move off the LZ to the closest cover and concealment. Planned supporting fires are initiated by the ground or air element that first detects the enemy.
(e) Once disengaged from the enemy force, the chalk leader moves the chalk to a covered and concealed position, accounts for personnel and equipment, assesses the situation, and attempts to link up with the platoon or continues the mission IAW the previous instructions.
c. Air Movement Plan. The air movement plan is based upon the ground tactical and landing plans. It specifies the schedule and provides the instructions for air movement of troops, equipment, and supplies from PZs to LZs. The air movement plan is developed by the battalion with assistance from an ALO. It states instructions regarding air routes; air control points, aircraft speeds, altitudes and formations, allowable cargo load, and aircraft type and number.
(1) Air movement table. The air movement table provides information
on what aircraft picks up who, the location of the pickup zone, the flight
route, and loading, lift off and landing times. The platoon leader is
normally briefed by the S3 air on the particulars of the air movement table.
The flight route and the LZ location are important to the platoon leader.
(2) Flight route. The S3 air and the ALO develop the flight route. This is the general route the aircraft will follow. Normally, a primary and alternate route are planned. The flight route will have a start point, release point, and checkpoints that are used by the pilots to control movement and navigation. The reconnaissance platoon is briefed on the route and the checkpoints used along the flight route. These items are used by the reconnaissance platoon to track its location from the air. A strip map indicating the flight routes and checkpoints can be used instead of maps. Normally, the flight route uses more than one map sheet. The senior leader on an aircraft coordinates with the crew chief, or the pilot, requesting confirmation of when the aircraft reaches the designated checkpoints. This information is disseminated to the chalk to allow them to follow the route.
(3) Flight times. The time it takes to load soldiers and equipment, fly the specified route, land the aircraft, and off-load soldiers and equipment is computed by the S3 air and the ALO. All soldiers must understand what these times mean in terms of movement. The most important time is H-hour. This is the time that the first aircraft lands at the LZ Indirect fire support and attack helicopter support use this time to coordinate fires on the LZ. Each flight route will also have an SP and RP. The RP time is important because it is the last checkpoint before landing. The RP is 3 to 5 km from the LZ. Once an aircraft reaches the RP, there is about 2 minutes left before arrival at the LZ.
d. Loading Plan. The loading plan is based on the air movement plan. It ensures that troops, equipment, and supplies are loaded on the correct aircraft. Maintaining platoon and squad integrity and cross-loading so that key leaders are not on the same aircraft are key points to remember when designating who will fly on what aircraft. The loading plan is based upon the type and number of aircraft available and the allowable cargo load for each aircraft. The S3 air designates the aircraft that the reconnaissance platoon uses and where the aircraft lands to pick up the soldiers. When traveling as part of the main body, the S3 air designates what lift and serial the platoon will fly in.
(1) Loads. A load is designated by the personnel and equipment to
be moved by a specific aircraft. An aircraft load may also be referred to
as a chalk. Once the S3 air has determined what lift, serial, and load the
platoon flies in, the platoon leader or platoon sergeant breaks down the
reconnaissance platoon accordingly. They must know the ACL and the
type of aircraft being used.
(2) Allowable Cargo Load. The ACL is the total number of personnel and cargo that can be carried on a certain type of aircraft. The ACL for the aircraft is determined by the ALO Once this is determined, then the breakdown of the platoon is made according to the ACL. The ACL for the UH-60 is normally 11 personnel. (See appendix D for loading configuration.)
e. Staging Plan. The staging plan synchronizes the arrival of soldiers, aircraft, equipment, and logistics support at the PZs. It is based on the loading plan. At platoon level, the staging plan is mainly concerned with the movement of the reconnaissance platoon from the AA to the PZ. The staging plan allows the platoon to start loading operations 15 minutes before the aircraft arrival time. In the staging area, the platoon leader organizes his soldiers and equipment. He must be flexible and ready to adapt to possible changes in the ACL and number of aircraft available.
f. Safety. The platoon leader and his subordinate leaders must enforce strict safety measures when working with helicopters. The main safety measures include the following:
- Using safety belts once inside the aircraft.
- Ensuring the weapons are unloaded (no rounds in the chamber) and on SAFE with muzzle down.
- Securing radio antennas (antennas are tied down).
- Securing hand grenades.
- Ensuring no jumping from a hovering helicopter unless told to do so by the crew chief.
- Securing material, which may be sucked into the engine or rotor blades.
- Ensuring no approaching from or departing to the rear of the helicopter.
The reconnaissance platoon does not have organic transportation assets. If the platoon must travel a great distance, the battalion commander can direct his staff to obtain transportation for the platoon. The purpose of obtaining transportation is strictly for movement. Once the vehicles have transported the reconnaissance platoon, the vehicles are released back to battalion. By transporting the reconnaissance platoon, soldiers are less fatigued and they have more time for executing the mission. The platoon leader plans for vehicle movement the same as he does for dismounted movement. The considerations differ in that it takes less time to move mounted.
a. Planning. The platoon leader is informed as to available
transportation assets. The HMMWV or military truck is the primary
asset available to move the platoon. The platoon leader organizes the
platoon for movement by assigning each soldier to a specific vehicle and
designating a navigator and vehicle commander for each vehicle.
(1) Route selection is based upon METT-T and vehicle abilities.
Vehicles are limited to where they can travel. The route should include
a start point and release point with checkpoints in between. The azimuth
and distance between checkpoints are determined. When the compass is
used inside the vehicle, it is affected by the metal in the vehicle. When
using the compass, the soldier should dismount and move away from the
vehicle to take an azimuth reading. To determine the distance traveled,
he uses the vehicle's odometer.
(2) The weather can have a dramatic effect on route selection.
Cross-country vehicles may be restricted to road movement in heavy rain.
To avoid flooded or muddy areas, the platoon leader should adjust the
b. Execution. The vehicle commander and navigator are responsible for the command and control of the vehicle. They execute movement as briefed by the platoon leader.
(1) Vehicle commander. The vehicle commander, normally the squad
leader, is responsible for organizing personnel on the vehicle. He
ensures the vehicle is ready for movement. This is accomplished by
questioning the driver about any mechanical problems and making sure the
vehicle has enough fuel. He also assigns team members sectors of fire and
air guards. The vehicle commander rides in the back of the vehicle.
(2) Navigator. The platoon leader plans the route. The navigator is responsible for following that route. However, there may be times when the route must be changed for tactical reasons. The navigator must ensure that the correct direction and distance are recorded and followed. He informs the vehicle commander when he reaches checkpoints.
A waterborne insertion or extraction can be conducted when not expected by the enemy or when it is the only feasible method available. Waterborne insertion/extractions should be made at night, preferably during low-light illumination, or in conditions with reduced visibility. The battalion commander's decision to use inland and coastal waterways adds flexibility, surprise, and speed to tactical operations. The types of water infiltration/exfiltration include small boats, surface swimming, helocasting, or a combination of these.
a. Planning. The battalion commander and his staff provide the platoon
leader with the necessary equipment to conduct water movement. The platoon
leader is told what equipment is available and where to link up with the
equipment. The platoon leader organizes the platoon based on the number and
type of equipment available (Figure 3-16). He plans the route
to the objective area and ensures that everyone understands how the platoon
will move and execute their mission. (See FM 31-25 for more information.)
Figure 3-16. RB-15 boat positions.
(1) When planning, the platoon leader uses the reverse planning
process as a guide to develop a timetable. The amount of time required
for a small-boat movement is hard to determine. As a guide, a boat can
sustain a speed of 3.7 km (2 knots) per hour using paddles. The following
formula can be used to calculate time:
T (time) = D (distance) ------------ S (speed)
EXAMPLE: D = 2 nautical miles S = 2.5 knots. T = 2 divided by 2.5 T = 0.8 hour or .8 x 60 = 48 minutes.
(2) Once the platoon leader determines the time required for movement, he should revise the estimate as he progresses through the water. The landing site is where the reconnaissance platoon lands on shore. It should be located away from areas that attract people (especially other people using boats). The landing site should have cover and concealment that can be used to hide the boats. If the reconnaissance platoon plans to return to the site, a security team must stay with the boats.
b. River Movement. The platoon leader must know the characteristics of the river before embarking on river movement. The coxswain and the No. 1 man must watch the water for obstacles, overlapping vegetation, and projections from the bank.
(1) A bend is a turn in the river course.
(2) A reach is a straight portion of river between the curves.
(3) The current in a narrow part of a reach is greater than that in a wide portion. The current is greatest on the outside of a curve. Sandbars and shallow water are found on the inside of the curve.
c. Inshore Navigation. The squad leader is responsible for navigation. There are two acceptable methods of river navigation:
(1) Checkpoint and general route. Checkpoint and general route method
is used when the drop site is marked by a well-defined checkpoint and the
waterway is not confused by many branches and tributaries. It is best used
during daylight hours and for short distances.
(2) Navigator-observer methods. Navigator-observer methods are the most accurate means of river navigation and can be used effectively in all light conditions. Equipment needed to do this is a compass, photo map (first choice), topography map (second choice), poncho (for night use), and pencil and flashlight (for night use).
(a) The navigator is positioned in the front of the boat and does not
paddle. During darkness, he uses his flashlight under a poncho to check
(b) The navigator keeps his map and compass oriented at all times.
(c) The navigator keeps the observer informed of the configuration of the river by announcing bends, reaches, and stream junctions as shown on the map.
(d) The observer compares this information with the bends, reaches, and stream junctions he actually sees. When these are confirmed, the navigator confirms the boat's location on his map.
Infiltration is a form of maneuver. The commander directs companies and platoons to infiltrate when enemy positions are fortified. To avoid the enemy's strength, companies and platoons use stealth and move through gaps or around the enemy positions to conduct operations in the enemy's rear area. Infiltration allows the infantry to exploit its abilities. The reconnaissance platoon must reconnoiter infiltration lanes before movement of the battalion's main body.
An infiltration is accomplished in five phases. First, the battalion that plans an infiltration must locate the gaps in the enemy lines and locate the enemy positions. The battalion S2 provides the reconnaissance platoon leader with information concerning where he anticipates these areas to be. Second, while this is happening, the remainder of the battalion conducts TLP. Third, the actual infiltration occurs along the designated infiltration lane. When moving along an infiltration lane, the battalion avoids enemy contact. The commander decides the size of the force moving along the lane. Fourth, forces consolidate. The reconnaissance platoon may be required to link up with infiltrating forces or maintain surveillance on the objective or a combination of both. Fifth, and final phase, assigned missions are executed. The battalion commander can use the reconnaissance platoon to mark the infiltration lanes. However, the reconnaissance platoon's primary mission during an infiltration should be focused on the objective. The platoon leader clarifies the platoon's primary focus with the battalion commander/S3.
The battalion commander determines if the battalion moves along a single or multiple infiltration lane or zone. Forces moving along the infiltration lane are separated by space and time. The platoon leader decides to move as a platoon or as squads. The advantages of moving as a platoon are: faster movement, and easier control and navigation. When moving as squads, the likelihood of being detected is decreased because of the size. However, navigation, consolidation, 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.
a. Single-Lane Infiltration. Infiltration on a single lane is the
least desirable technique, because it requires all infiltrating groups to
move at intervals on the same lane. This technique is used only when, after
an analysis of METT-T, it is evident that only one lane is feasible
b. Multiple-Lane Infiltration. Soldiers infiltrate by multiple lanes when two or more infiltration lanes are found through the enemy defense (Figure 3-18). Assembly areas may be either in enemy or friendly areas depending on the situation. The platoon leader assigns lanes to the squads. The reconnaissance platoon normally uses no more than two lanes due to its size and limited resources.
Figure 3-17. Single-lane infiltration.
Figure 3-18. Multiple-lane infiltration.
c. Combination of Methods. Two or more lanes are used with more
than one group using at least one of the lanes. This is the normal
technique since enough lanes seldom exist for each group to have a
separate one. Groups on different routes may move using different
methods of insertion or extraction (for example, one group moves by
boat on a river, another group moves by air, and another moves by foot).
d. Rally Point. Rally points should be chosen for all infiltrations/exfiltrations to aid in the controlling of movement.
(1) The first group to reach the RP establishes security and
exchanges recognition signals with subsequent groups. All groups
rehearse this procedure since it is not known which group will arrive
(2) Adequate time is allowed for each group to reach the RP. Groups maybe delayed while avoiding enemy contact. Contingency plans should address what will be accomplished if a force fails to arrive or arrives late at an RP.
(3) An alternate RP must be designated. It is used if the primary RP is occupied by the enemy, is compromised, or is found to be unsuitable for any reason before the platoon reaches it. Signals are planned to direct movement to the alternate RP. The contingency plan must allow time for groups to reach the new (alternate) RP.
e. Techniques to Enhance Movement. Techniques to enhance movement are movement formations and noise discipline.
(1) Movement formations. Movement formations must enhance stealth and
security. The platoon leader considers the formation that is best suited
to avoid enemy detection.
(2) Noise discipline. Many steps can be taken to improve noise discipline.
(a) Taping weapons, swivels, LCE, identification tags, and other
(b) Wearing old socks over boots.
(c) Inspecting to ensure equipment is silenced.
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