TACTICAL ROAD MARCHES AND
The movement of troops from one location to another is inherent in any phase of a military operation. Nontactical movement is conducted when contact with the enemy is unlikely. Tactical movement is conducted when contact with the enemy is possible.
The accomplishment of a unit's mission is directly related to its ability to arrive in effective fighting condition at the proper place and time.
a. Once a unit is deployed in its assigned zone or sector, it normally moves using the techniques appropriate for a movement to contact. At other times, especially when extended distances are involved, more rapid and controlled techniques must be employed for foot or motorized tactical marches. When contact is made, tactical movement becomes maneuver.
b. Road marches differ from movements to contact in that--
- The purpose is relocation, not contact with the enemy.
- A prescribed rate of speed is ordered before departure, and prescribed intervals are maintained between vehicles and units.
- The primary consideration of the march is rapid movement.
c. The task force may also move by air, rail, or water, but for discussion of those kinds of movement, see--
- Air movement--FM 55-9; FM 55-12; FM 100-27.
- Rail movement--FM 55-20.
- Water movement--MTMC Report TE 80-01-46.
- Also for unit movements--FM 55-65 and AR 55-113.
a. Movement in the communications zone (COMMZ) to reposition laterally or to facilitate future operations is nontactical. The task force S4 may plan nontactical movements. If a unit moves forward to participate in imminent combat operations, the movement is tactical. The task force S3 plans tactical movements.
b. The task force conducts tactical road marches when relocating in the combat zone in the division and corps rear areas before hostilities begin or when a forward defense has been established. Units move by tactical road marches to rear tactical assembly areas, where they prepare to conduct combat operations. Speed is essential, but security requirements are greater than those for a nontactical movement, even though contact with enemy ground forces is not expected. During tactical movements, the commander is always prepared to execute maneuver.
A march column includes all elements using the same route for a single movement under control of a single commander. A task force may march over multiple routes to reduce closing time. A large column may be composed of a number of subdivisions, each under the control of a subordinate commander. March columns regardless of size are composed of four elements: reconnaissance party, quartering party, main body, and trail party (see Figure C-1). March columns are organized to maintain unit integrity and to maintain a task organization consistent with mission requirements.
A serial is a major subdivision of a march column, organized as a single unit under one commander for purposes of planning, regulation, and control. A task force is usually one serial.
A march unit is a subdivision of a serial and is normally a squad, section, platoon, or company. It moves and halts under control of a single commander using voice and visual signals. Radio is used only when no other means of communication can be used. March units of the main body are composed of individual maneuver units with their trains, task force mortars, any attachments, the task force CP, and the task force trains. POL vehicles required for refueling during nontactical marches may move ahead of schedule to establish a service station refuel point.
a. Reconnaissance Party. The scout platoon, augmented by engineer and other CS assets, performs route reconnaissance to determine travel time, capacities of underpasses and bridges, and locations of ferries and fords. The scout platoon also identifies critical points, including choke points and obstacles. Route reconnaissance confirms and supplements data from map studies, higher headquarters, and air reconnaissance. Instructions to the scout platoon should state the nature and extent of information required, and the time and place the report is to be submitted.
b. Quartering Party. The quartering party consists of the quartering parties of each of the companies. The commander dispatches a quartering party to reconnoiter the new area and guide march elements into position. (For more detailed information, see paragraph C-13.)
c. Main Body.
(1) Before starting a march, each march unit of a serial reconnoiters its route to the start point and determines the exact time to reach it. The movement order states the time that the serial will arrive at and clear its start point. The serial commander then determines and announces the times for march units of his serial to arrive at and clear the start point. Arrival time at the start point is critical. Each march unit must arrive at and clear the start point on time; otherwise, movement of other elements may be delayed.
(2) During the movement, march units move at the constant speed designated in the order, maintaining proper interval and column gap. Elements in a column of any length may simultaneously encounter many different types of routes and obstacles, resulting in different parts of the column moving at different speeds at the same time. This can produce an undesirable accordion-like action or whip effect. The movement order gives march speed, rate of march, and maximum catch-up speed to ensure safety and to reduce "column whipping." March units report crossing each control point as directed by the march order. During the move, air and ground security are maintained.
d. Trail Party. The trail party is normally made up of elements of the task force maintenance platoon.
(1) The trail party is the last march unit in a task force serial. The trail party consists of elements of the maintenance platoon led by the BMO. The function of the trail party is to recover disabled vehicles. If a vehicle cannot be repaired or towed, the vehicle and crew members are moved off the road into a secure area. The drivers and crew members are left with the vehicle, along with sufficient food and water.
(2) When vehicles are left behind, the BMO reports the reason and location to the task force S4.
(3) Once the trail party completes the road march, maintenance priority becomes recovery of disabled vehicles. A tactical road march is not complete until all march units and vehicles arrive at the destination.
a. Tactical road marches require extensive planning. The estimate process is used by commanders and staffs to determine how to best execute a move from one point to another. (See Chapter 2.) Road march planning consists of three steps that may be done concurrently: determining requirements for the move, analyzing organic and nonorganic movement capabilities, and establishing unit movement priorities. The following factors are considered in movement planning:
- Enemy situation and capabilities, terrain conditions, and weather.
- Organization of the task force.
- Security measures before and during the movement and at the destination.
- Assembly of the march units.
- Loading of personnel and equipment.
- Actions at the destination.
b. When the task force prepares for a tactical road march, the following sequence of march planning is used if time permits.
- Prepare and issue an oral warning order as early as possible to allow subordinates time to prepare for the march.
- Prepare an estimate of the situation, analyze routes designated by brigade, and specify organization of the march serial.
- Prepare and issue the march order.
- Prepare detailed movement plans and assembly area plans.
- Organize and dispatch reconnaissance and quartering parties as required.
a. The march order format is the same for tactical and nontactical movements. It is prepared either as an annex to an operation order, as a separate operation order, or as a FRAGO. An example of an operation order for a road march is in Figure C-10.
b. The march order should include, as a minimum, a route strip map that identifies critical points, start point (SP) and release point (RP) times and locations, order of march, maximum catchup speed, distances to be maintained between vehicles and units, assembly area locations, and instructions on future operations. In designating distance (interval) or density, the planner must know the effect on column length and the time required to move.
c. The march order also contains a statement of enemy situation, weather, visibility conditions, and the following factors if applicable:
- Road restrictions and information derived from route reconnaissance.
- Actions on enemy contact (ground and air).
- Actions at halts and actions for disabled vehicles.
- Actions in the assembly area.
- Procedures for resupply, maintenance, and feeding.
- Location of leaders and a communications plan.
d. Much of the information should be part of the unit's SOP. Only exceptions to the SOP should be stated in the order.
Movement formulas are applied to known distance, rate, and time data to derive information necessary to prepare a time schedule. The time schedule is used to regulate departures and arrivals of march elements.
a. Time and Distance Relationship. Relationships between time and distance are the basis for march planning. The planner determines how far the column is to travel (distance) and how long it will take to make the move (time). He must also know the space (length of column) the column will occupy on the route and the distance (road gap) or time (time gap) that separates march columns and their elements. Each term used for distance has its corresponding term for time. The length of a column in kilometers has an equivalent pass time in minutes; the road distance in kilometers or miles has a corresponding time distance. The relationship between time and distance in average rate of march is shown in Figure C-2.
b. Distance Factors for Road Marches.
(1) Vehicle interval is the distance between two consecutive vehicles of an organized element of a column.
(2) Column gap is space between two organized elements following each other on the same route. It can be calculated in units of length (road gap) or in units of time (time gap) as measured from the rear of the leading element to the front of the following element.
(3) Traffic density is the average number of vehicles that occupy 1 mile or 1 kilometer of road space, expressed in vehicles per mile (VPM) or vehicles per kilometer (VPKM).
(4) Length of a column is the length of roadway occupied by a column, including gaps in the column measured from first vehicle to last vehicle.
(5) Road gap is the distance between two march elements. It is the length aspect of column gap. Since it is more significant when the column is moving than when it is halted, a road gap becomes a factor of time rather than distance.
c. Rate Factors.
(1) Speed is the velocity of a vehicle at a given moment as shown on the speedometer (in kilometers per hour or miles per hour).
(2) Pace is regulated speed of a column or element, set by the lead vehicle or an individual in the lead element, to maintain the prescribed average speed.
(3) Rate of march is average number of miles or kilometers traveled in any given period, including short periodic halts and other short delays. It is expressed as miles or kilometers traveled in an hour (MIH or KMIH).
d. Time Factors.
(1) Arrival time is the moment when the head of the column arrives at a designated point or line.
(2) Clearance time is the moment when the tail of a column passes a designated point or line.
(3) Completion time is the moment when the tail of a column passes the release point.
(4) Pass time (PST) of a column is time between the moment the first element passes a given point and the moment the last element passes the same point.
(5) Extra time allowance (EXTAL) for motor marches of 1 minute per 25 vehicles is always allotted above the calculated pass time within a column moving under one identification serial number. In a column where the number of vehicles is over 600, the EXTAL is 2 minutes per 25 vehicles. A column of less than 25 vehicles is not allotted any extra time. EXTAL is equitably added to march unit pass time within a serial.
(6) Time distance (TDIS) is time required to move from one point to another at a given rate of march. It normally represents the movement of the head of the column from the start point to the release point.
(7) Road clearance time is total time a column requires to travel over and clear a section of road. Road clearance time equals time distance plus column pass time.
(8) Time gap is time measured between rear and front of successive elements as they move past any given point. It is the time aspect of column gap and may also be the conversion of road gap to time. There are no prescribed standard gaps. These depend on the size of serials and march units, the time available for the movement, and the tactics required for protection against air and nuclear attack.
a. Critical Point. Critical points on a route are those points used for reference in providing instructions, places where interference with movement might occur, or places where timing might be a critical factor. The route reconnaissance report or a map study should provide the march planner with information to designate critical points along the route of march and distances from one critical point to another. At designated critical points, guides or signs may be used to ensure the smooth flow of traffic. The commander may want to be present at the passing of some critical points. The start point and release point are two critical points that are always designated. Critical points are designated by number, letter, or codeword, using the checkpoint symbol. When designating critical points, the march planner ensures that designations for critical points do not conflict with those of checkpoints.
b. Start Point. SPs provide all units of a march column a common point for starting their movement. When units use more than one route, each route has a start point. The SP is a place along the route of march that is easily recognizable on the map and on the ground, such as a road intersection. An SP should be far enough from assembly areas to allow units to be organized and to be moving at the prescribed speed and interval when the SP is reached. No element of a march column should be required to march to the rear or through another unit in order to reach the SP.
c. Release Point. RPs provide all units of the march column a common point for reverting to control of their parent unit. The RP should be on the route of march and easily recognizable on the map and on the ground. Units do not stay at the release point. Guides meet units as they arrive at the release point and lead them to the assembly area. Multiple routes and cross-country movement from the release point to assembly areas enable units to disperse rapidly. No unit should be required to countermarch or pass through another unit to reach its new position.
d. Strip Map. A strip map is a sketch of the route of march. It is normally included as an annex to the movement order. Strip maps should be reproduced in sufficient quantities to supply them to key personnel. The amount of detail depends upon the intended purpose of the strip map and the unit level at which it is prepared. A strip map should contain the start point and release point, restrictions, and critical points, with the distance between them. An example of a strip map is shown in Figure C-3.
a. Close Column. In a close column, vehicles are spaced about 20 to 25 meters apart during daylight. At night, vehicles are spaced so that each driver can see the two lights in the blackout marker of the vehicle ahead. Close column is normally used for marches during darkness under blackout driving conditions. This method of marching takes maximum advantage of the traffic capacity of the routes, but provides little dispersion. Normally, vehicle density is about 30 vehicles per kilometer along the route. A march unit is normally 2 to 4 kilometers long.
b. Open Column. In an open column, the distance between vehicles is increased to provide greater dispersion. The vehicle distance varies from 50 to 100 meters. It may be greater if required. Open column is normally used during daylight. It may also be used at night using infrared lights, blackout lights, or passive night vision equipment. Vehicle density varies from 10 to 15 vehicles per kilometer. In a 100-meter open column, a unit is normally 6 to 8 kilometers long.
c. Infiltration. During a move by infiltration, vehicles are dispatched individually, in small groups, or at irregular intervals at a rate that will keep the traffic density down and prevent undue massing of vehicles. Infiltration provides the best possible passive defense against enemy observation and attack. It is suited for tactical marches when sufficient time and road space are available and when maximum security, deception, and dispersion are desired.
This paragraph implements STANAG 2041 (Edition 3), Paragraph 6.
a. Distance, rate, and time are the basic factors for movement computations. If two of these factors are known, the third may be easily determined by dividing or multiplying one by the other as shown in the following formulas:
- Rate is determined by dividing distance by time:
- Distance is found by multiplying rate by the time: D = R XT.
- Time is calculated by dividing distance by the rate:
b. The march planner must determine time distance, pass time, arrival time, and completion time. (See Figures C-4 through C-7.)
(1) Time distance. Time distance (TDIS) is determined by dividing distance to be traveled by rate of march. TDIS does not include time for long delays or extended scheduled halts. A time distance table (see Figure C-5) is a valuable tool to the march planner. It provides a listing of factors used to calculate time required to travel certain distances at specified speeds. Travel rates are expressed in speeds and corresponding rates of march. Travel factors are derived from rate of march, which includes time for short, periodic halts and other minor delays that might occur.
(2) Pass Time. Pass time (PST) for a serial is determined by adding march unit pass times together, including time gaps between march units. (See Figure C-6.)
(3) Arrival time. In march planning, the release point is normally designated as the terminal point of movement. Arrival time at the release point is determined by adding time distance and any scheduled halts to the start point time. (See Figure C-7.)
(4) Completion time. Completion time is calculated by adding pass time to arrival time or by adding to start point time the distance, pass time, and any scheduled halts.
A road movement table is normally an annex to a movement order (see Annex B in Figure C-10). It is a convenient means of transmitting to subordinate units time schedules and other essential details of the move. It is particularly useful when the inclusion of such details in the operation order would make the order complicated or unduly long. Road movement tables consist of two parts:
- Data paragraphs reflecting information common to two or more march elements.
- A list of serials or march units, together with all other necessary necessary information arranged in tabular form.
The march planner must know the times at which serials and march units arrive at and clear critical points. Other information on the road movement table includes serial or march unit number, date of move, units involved, number of vehicles, load class of heaviest vehicle routes to be used, and a remarks section to reflect any details not covered elsewhere.
a. During the march, march units maintain security through observation, weapon orientation, dispersion, and camouflage. Commanders assign sectors of observation to their personnel so that there is 360-degree observation. Main weapons are oriented on specific sectors throughout the column. The lead elements cover the front, following elements cover alternate flanks, and the trail element covers the rear. Security is also maintained during halts.
(1) Scheduled halts are planned along the march route for maintenance and rest, or to follow higher level movement orders. At scheduled halts, vehicles and soldiers move to the side of the road while maintaining march dispersion. Local security is set up immediately, and drivers perform during operations maintenance checks. The unit is ready to move at a moment's notice.
(2) Unscheduled halts and actions may be caused by unforeseen developments such as obstacles, traffic congestion, or equipment failure. If a halt is necessary, the march column's first priority is to establish security. Each unit forms a hasty perimeter defense.
b. Planning for air defense and implementing all forms of air defense security measures are imperative to minimize the battalion's vulnerability to enemy air attack. The task force commander must be able to effectively integrate into his fire plans the air defense artillery assets attached to him. Furthermore, he must ensure that all passive and active air defense measures that may be implemented at company level are planned and used. Each vehicle in a motor march has an air guard to provide air security. Specific vehicles may be designated as air guard vehicles performing air rather than ground observation.
c. Obstacles that are reported by the scout platoon should be bypassed if possible. If obstacles cannot be bypassed, the lead march unit goes into a hasty defense to cover and overwatch, and--with engineers, if available--breach the obstacle. As the lead march unit breaches the obstacles, the other march units move at decreased speed or move off the road and monitor the task force command net.
d. During the road march, should the task force come under attack by enemy indirect fire, the unit in contact continues to move. The remainder of the task force attempts to bypass the impact area (see Figure C-8).
e. Should the task force be attacked by hostile aircraft during the march, the march unit that is attacked moves off the road into a quick defensive posture and immediately engages the aircraft with all available automatic weapons. The rest of the task force moves to covered and concealed areas until the engagement stops.
f. Ambushes are fought without delay. If the task force is ambushed, the march unit in the kill zone increases speed, fights through, and reports the ambush. The task force commander may order that march unit to return to the ambush site and conduct a hasty attack to clear it of enemy, or to establish a blocking position on the far side of the kill zone while a following march unit conducts the hasty attack (see Figure C-9).
g. Disabled vehicles must not obstruct traffic. They are moved off the road and their status is reported immediately. Security is established and guides are posted to direct traffic. If the operator repairs the vehicle, it rejoins the rear of the column. If the operator cannot repair the vehicle, trail party maintenance elements pick it up.
h. Messengers and visual signals are the preferred means of communication during road marches. Because the enemy has radio direction-finding equipment, the radio is used only in emergencies and when no other means of communication can be used. Road guides can also be used to pass messages from one march unit to a following march unit. Because of the need to stay off the radio, road guides are important in controlling the speed of march units and the interval between them.
i. Restrictions are points along the route of march where movement may be hindered or obstructed. These points can include bridges, intersections, ferries, and bypasses. The march planner should stagger start times or adjust speeds to compensate for restrictions, or plan to halt the column en route until the restriction is over.
j. Units must be able to routinely operate under limited visibility conditions caused by darkness, smoke, dust, fog, heavy rain, or heavy snow. Limited visibility decreases the speed of movement and increases the difficulty in navigation, in recognizing checkpoints, and in maintaining proper interval between units. To overcome command and control problems caused by limited visibility, commanders may position themselves just behind lead elements. More restrictive control measures, such as additional checkpoints, phase lines, and use of a single route may become necessary.
k. The task force commander also plans for NBC attack. Planning considerations include the following.
(2) Ensuring that proper MOPP level is maintained, based on the threat and the temperature level. Personnel may start in MOPP 3 to avoid having to stop to get into MOPP 4.
(3) Avoiding contaminated areas if possible. The following measures apply if contaminated areas must be crossed.
- Use MOPP 4.
- Cover as much equipment as possible.
- Avoid moving through underbrush.
- Stay on hard-surface roads.
- Avoid low areas.
- Avoid moving early or late in the day.
- Stagger vehicles in the column.
- Decrease speed to reduce dust or mud.
- Increase vehicle interval.
- Scrape dirt-road surfaces to clear the road of contamination.
(4) If soldiers must cross a nuclear contaminated area, measures to be employed include--
- Wearing regular wet weather gear with scarf or handkerchief over nose and mouth.
- Avoiding stirring up dust as much as possible.
- Ensuring that the IM-174 radiac meter is used.
- Washing hard-top roads before traveling.
- Wetting dirt roads to keep fallout dust down.
A battalion task force occupies an assembly area to prepare for future operations. Preparations may include reorganization, issuance of orders, receipt and issuance of supplies, and maintenance of vehicles and equipment.
Occupation of an assembly area may be directed by a higher commander (such as when the unit is designated as a reserve) or by the task force commander (such as during relief, withdrawal, or movement).
The assembly area ideally provides--
- Concealment from air and ground observation.
- Cover from direct fire.
- Space for dispersion against massed chemical or nuclear fires.
- Adequate entrances, exits, and internal routes.
- Good drainage and soil conditions to support battalion vehicles.
A force in an assembly area is provided a degree of security by being behind friendly lines. Despite this protection, the task force must be capable of defending itself should the enemy breakthrough, bypass forward defenses, or insert airborne or airmobile forces. In such a case, the task force normally uses the same techniques that are used in the perimeter defense.
a. Before the main body leaves the assembly area, the march commander sends a reconnaissance party and a quartering party (or advance party) to the forward assembly area.
b. The reconnaissance party and the quartering party do not travel as part of the march column. They precede the main body and move by infiltration. The reconnaissance party, normally the scout platoon, checks the area for enemy units or OPs and for NBC contamination.
c. A task force quartering party is normally composed of a security element, subordinate unit quartering parties, communications and medical personnel, and staff section representatives. An officer, or the CSM, leads the quartering party. On arriving in the assembly area, the quartering party does the following.
(2) Organizes the area. The quartering party selects subordinate unit, command post, and trains locations; improves and marks entrances, exits, and internal routes; marks or removes obstacles and mines; and marks vehicle locations.
(3) Performs guide duties. The subordinate unit quartering parties guide task force elements into assigned sectors.
a. The assembly area may be organized by assigning companies sectors of the battalion perimeter (see Figure C-11) or dispersed company assembly areas within the battalion assembly area. The task force commander may determine the size and location of his assembly area during the estimate process; or the size and location of the assembly area may be designated by higher headquarters.
b. Security may be augmented by patrols, OPs, sensors, and surveillance devices. Contact points for units may also be designated to assist in coordinating security efforts. All routes in and out of the assembly area are strictly controlled. Roads are not used to define unit boundaries. Roads are the specific responsibility of the company whose sector they pass through.
c. The scout platoon may be tasked to reconnoiter routes of movement to attack positions, defensive positions, or passage lanes; or to establish OPs, roadblocks, or traffic control points.
d. Combat support elements are positioned with units to be supported or may provide support to all elements of the task force.
e. Company assembly areas should be large enough to allow dispersion and be sited to take advantage of available concealment from observation and cover from enemy direct fires. Their position within the task force assembly area should facilitate movement for future operations.
f. Observation posts cover key terrain features and avenues of approach.
g. The task force CP and trains are centrally located for security and to facilitate issuance of orders, distribution of supplies, and other activities.
h. Communication between elements is by wire (if time allows its installation ) or by messenger. Radio is used only in an emergency.
a. Departure from an assembly area must be as carefully planned and conducted as its occupation.
b. If terrain permits, vehicles line up in a dispersed movement formation. Commanders ensure that all personnel and equipment have been accounted for and that no equipment, documents, or other items are left behind. This measure is necessary for OPSEC and accountability.
c. Before movement, messengers from subordinate elements may be stationed at the main CP. Within a few minutes of departure, messengers return to and alert their elements.
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