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Operations and Techniques

Section I. General

G-1. Tactical variations.

a. Chapter 3 presents an overview of the most common types of tactical counterguerrilla operations conducted in an insurgency. This appendix presents techniques that may be employed when conducting those operations.

b. Chart G-1 presents some of the most common operations and techniques that a counterguerrilla force employs. Generally, large-scale operations are more suited to the later stages of an insurgency while small unit tactics are more suited to the whole spectrum (see Chart G-1 below).

G-2. Standard operations.

With minor adaptations (Chapter 3), some operations discussed in FM 7-10 and FM 7-20 can be used for counterguerrilla warfare. These operations include raids, movements to contact, hasty attacks, deliberate attacks, reconnaissance in force, exploitations, and pursuits.

Section II. Operations.

G-3. Encirclement.

a. Encirclement is designed to cut off all ground routes for escape and reinforcement of the encircled guerrilla force. It offers the best possibility for fixing guerrilla forces in position and achieving decisive results. Battalion and larger units may conduct encirclements.

b. The company and smaller units normally lack enough men and command and control capability to conduct encirclements (except against small, concentrated guerrilla forces). All units of the brigade may participate in encirclements conducted by a larger force.

c. Planning, preparation, and execution are aimed at complete encirclement of the guerrilla force. Maximum security and surprise can be gained by completing the encirclement during darkness.

d. Encircling movements are executed rapidly. Use of air assault and airborne troops can contribute speed and surprise to the early phases of an encirclement. Positions are occupied simultaneously in order to block escape. If simultaneous occupation is not possible, escape routes most likely to be used are covered first. Initial occupation is the most critical period of an encirclement. If large guerrilla formations realize that they are being encircled, they can be expected to react immediately to probe for gaps or attack weak points to force a gap.

e. Units occupying the encircling positions provide strong combat patrols well to their front to give early warning of attempted breakouts and to block escape routes. Mobile reserves are positioned for immediate movement to counter any threat of a breakout, and to reinforce difficult areas such as deep ravines or areas containing cave or tunnel complexes.

f. Indirect fire support can cloak an impending encirclement by gaining and maintaining the guerrilla's attention while encircling units move into position. Fires, including field artillery, should be planned in detail to support the encirclement after it is discovered.

G-4. Contraction.

a. Following the initial encirclement, the capture or destruction of the guerrilla force is methodical and thorough. Fire and maneuver are used in a simultaneous, controlled contraction of the encirclement.

b. As the line of encirclement is contracted, and depending on terrain, units may be removed from the line and added to the reserve. Against small guerrilla forces, the entire encircled area may be cleared by contraction; however, against larger guerrilla forces, it is probable that, at some point, some action other than further contraction will be required (Figure G-1).

c. One technique, employed after some degree of contraction, is to employ a blocking force on one or more sides of the perimeter while part of the encirclement forces the guerrillas against the blocking force by offensive action. Either element may accomplish the actual destruction, but it is usually accomplished by the attacking element. This technique is most effective when the blocking force is located on, or immediately to the rear of, a natural terrain obstacle.

G-5. Hammer and anvil.

In this method, one or more units in the encirclement remain stationary while the others drive the guerrilla unit against it (Figure G-2).

G-6. The wedge.

This method is used after some contraction. A unit is used to divide the enemy while the encircling elements remain in place. After the guerrilla force has been broken up into smaller elements, either contraction or the hammer and anvil technique is used (Figure G-3).

Section III. Civil Disturbances and Searches

G-7. US involvement.

While it is preferable to have host country forces control civil disturbances, US forces may be forced by circumstances to conduct them and be involved in search operations. (The type of civil disturbance provides the necessary counteraction guidelines; for detailed information refer to FM 19-15.)

G-8. Search techniques.

Searches are commonly used in population and resources control operations. They include use of checkpoints and roadblocks to control traffic and to reduce the capability of the guerrilla to move personnel and materiel freely.

a. Special equipment required. For a checkpoint to achieve maximum results, special equipment is required. Portable signs in the native language and in English should be available. Signs should denote the speed limit of approach, vehicle search area, vehicle parking area, male and female search areas, and dismount point. Lighting is needed for the search area at night. Communication is required between the various troop units supporting the checkpoint operation. Barbed-wire obstacles across the road and around the search area should be provided. Troops must have adequate firepower to withstand an attack or to halt a vehicle attempting to flee or crash through the checkpoint.

b. Method. The checkpoint is established by placing two parallel obstacles (each with a gap) across the road. The distance (in meters) 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 other traffic (which can be dealt with more quickly). 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 observe the search of his vehicle. The searcher is always covered by an assistant. When searching, politeness and consideration are shown at all times. The occupants of the vehicle can be searched simultaneously, if sufficient searchers are available (Figure G-4).

G-9. Search of persons, areas.

Searches can be classified as searches of individuals and searches of populated areas.

a. Searching individuals.

(1) Frisk search. The frisk is a quick search of an individual for weapons, evidence, or contraband. It is conducted preferably in the presence of an assistant and a witness. In conducting the frisk, the searcher stands behind the suspect. The searcher's assistant takes a position from which he can cover the suspect with his weapon. The suspect is required to raise his arms. The searcher then slides his hands over the individual's entire body, crushing the clothing to locate concealed objects.

(2) Wall search. Based on the principle of rendering the suspect harmless by placing him in a strained, awkward position, the wall search affords the searcher a degree of safety. It is particularly useful when two searchers must search several suspects. Any upright surface, such as a wall, vehicle, or a tree, may be utilized.

(a) Position of suspect. The suspect is required to face the wall (or other object) and lean against it, supporting himself with his upraised hands placed far apart and fingers spread. His feet are placed well apart, turned out, parallel to the wall, and as far from the wall as possible. His head is kept down.

(b) Position of searcher's assistant. The searcher's assistant stands on the opposite side of the suspect (from the searcher) and to the rear. He covers the suspect with his weapon. When the searcher moves from his original position to the opposite side of the suspect, the assistant also changes position. The searcher walks around his assistant during this change to avoid coming between his assistant and the suspect.

(c) Position of searcher. The searcher approaches the suspect from the right side. The searcher's weapon must not be in such a position that the suspect can grab it. When searching from the right side, the searcher places his right foot in front of the suspect's right foot and makes and maintains ankle-to-ankle contact. From this position, if the suspect offers resistance, the suspect's right foot can be pushed back from under him. When searching from the left side of the suspect the searcher places his left foot in front of the suspect's left foot and again maintains ankle-to-ankle contact.

(d) Initial position. In taking his initial position, the searcher should be alert to prevent the suspect from suddenly attempting to disarm or injure him. The searcher first searches the suspect's headgear. The searcher then checks the suspect's hands, arms, right side of the body, and right leg, in sequence. The searcher repeats the procedure in searching the suspect's left side. He crushes the suspect's clothing between his fingers; he does not merely pat it. He pays close attention to armpits, back, waist, legs and tops of boots or shoes. Any item found that is not considered a weapon or evidence is replaced in the suspect's pocket. If the suspect resists or attempts escape and has to be thrown down prior to completing the search, the search is started over from the beginning.

(e) Switch of multiple suspects. When two or more suspects are to be searched, they must assume a position against the same wall or object but far enough apart so that they cannot reach one another. The searcher's assistant takes his position a few paces to the rear of the line with his weapon ready. The search is begun with the suspect on the right of the line. On completing the search of one suspect, he is moved to the left of the line and resumes the positon against the wall. Thus, in approaching and searching the next suspect, the searcher is not between his assistant and a suspect.

(3) Strip search. This type of search is usually necessary when the individual is suspected of being a guerrilla leader or important messenger. The search is conducted preferably in an enclosed space, such as a room or tent. The searching technique can be varied. One method is to use two unarmed searchers while an assistant, who is armed, stands guard. The suspect's clothing and shoes are removed and searched carefully. A search is then made of his person, including his mouth, nose, ears, hair, armpits, crotch, and other areas of possible concealment.

(4) Search of females. The guerrilla force will make maximum use of females for all types of tasks where search may be a threat. Counterguerrilla forces must make maximum use of female searchers. If female searchers cannot be provided, a doctor or aidman should be considered for use in searching female suspects. The search of females is an extremely delicate matter. When male soldiers must search females, every possible measure must be taken to prevent even the slightest inference of sexual molestation or assault.

b. Searching populated areas. There are four fundamentals used when conducting a search.

(1) Approach. On some operations, the situation may allow mounted movement directly into the area to be searched. On others, the situation may dictate dismounted movement into the area. Emphasis is placed on rapid and coordinated entrance into the area.

(2) Surrounding the area. During darkness, troops approach silently by as many different routes as possible. At first daylight, the area can be occupied by a chain of observation posts with gaps covered by patrols. Normally, a large area cannot be completely surrounded for any length of time because of the number of troops required. If necessary, troops dig in, take advantage of natural cover, and use barbed wire to help maintain their line.

(3) Reserves. If there is a chance that hostile elements from outside the area could interfere, measures are taken to prevent them from joining the inhabitants of the area under search. Air observers can assist by detecting and giving early warning of any large-scale movement toward the occupied area.

(4) Search parties.

(a) The officer in command of the operation informs the inhabitants that the area is to be searched, that a house curfew is in force, and that all inhabitants must remain indoors. Or, he may require the inhabitants to gather at a central point and then have the search party move in and begin the search. Search parties are usually composed of search teams.

(b) When a decision is made to gather inhabitants at a central point, the head of the house should accompany the search party when his house is searched. If this is not done, he can deny knowledge of anything incriminating that is found, or he can accuse the troops of theft and looting. In small searches, it may be practical to ask the head of each household to sign a certificate stating that nothing has been illegally removed, but in a large search this may be impractical. In order to avoid accusations of theft, witnesses should be present during the search. A prominent member of the community should accompany each search team, if possible.

(c) Buildings are searched from top to bottom, if possible. Mine detectors are used to search for arms and ammunition. Every effort is made to avoid unnecessary damage. Each house or building searched is marked with a coded designation. This same designation can be used to list occupants who must be accounted for in subsequent searches, and the designation helps ensure that no building is overlooked in the search.

(d) If a house is vacant, or if an occupant refuses entry, it may be necessary to force entry. If a house containing property is searched while its occupants are away, it should be secured to prevent looting. Before troops depart, the commander should make arrangements with the community to protect such houses until the occupants return.

(5) Search teams.

(a) Special teams may be formed for search operations. In searching small areas (a few buildings), small units can conduct a search without special teams for each function.

(b) Search teams may require these capabilities:

      • Reconnaissance.
      • Physical or visual search.
      • Fire support.
      • Control.
      • Prisoner detection.
      • Mine detection.
      • Scout dogs.
      • Riot control agents, flame weapons, and demolitions.
      • Tunnel reconnaissance team.
      • Interrogation.
      • Documentation.
      • Psychological/civil affairs operations.

(6) House search. Each search party assigned to search an occupied building should consist of at least one local policeman, a protective escort, and a female searcher, if appropriate. The search party must first assemble everyone. The civil police may give the necessary orders and do the actual searching. The object of this search is to screen for suspected persons. Apprehended persons are evacuated as soon as possible. Troops may perform this task. Escort parties and transportation must be planned in advance.

(7) Village search.

(a) Prior to conducting search operations in a village, a reconnaissance patrol is sent out to gain information about the village and its inhabitants. The patrol avoids detection. A portion of the patrol maintains surveillance over the village while the remainder of the patrol returns with information. This is done to detect any changes which may take place prior to the security element going into position. Information of value to a commander includes:

      • Size and exact location of the village.
      • Fortifications (mantraps, spiketraps).
      • Warning systems.
      • Tunnel systems.
      • Where does the insurgent live? Does he live in the forest at night and inhabit the village during the day, or does he stay in the village night and day? Does he inhabit one or more huts?
      • How many people are there in the village?

(b) The security and search elements use one of two general methods of movement.

      • If aviation support is available, a quick-strike air assault operation is employed. This type of operation is characterized by speed.
      • If the elements conduct a dismounted operation, they normally use designated routes. This type of operation is characterized by secure and rapid movement.

(c) A village may be searched as follows:

      • First method--assemble inhabitants in a central location (if they appear to be hostile). This method provides maximum control, facilitates a thorough search, denies insurgents an opportunity to conceal evidence, and allows for detailed interrogation. It has the disadvantage of taking the inhabitants away from their dwellings, thus encouraging looting which, in turn, engenders ill feelings.
      • Second method--restrict inhabitants to their homes. This method prohibits movement of civilians, allows them to stay in their dwellings, and discourages looting. The disadvantages are that it makes control and interrogation difficult and gives inhabitants time to conceal evidence in their homes.
      • Third method--control head of household. The head of each household is told to remain in front of his house while all others are brought to a central location. During the search, the head of each household accompanies the search team through his house. Looting is minimized, and the head of the household can see that the search team did not steal property. This is the best method for controlling the population.

(d) Search teams must search thoroughly for insurgent personnel, equipment, escape tunnels, or caches. Cattle pens, wells, haystacks, gardens, fence lines, and cemeteries should be investigated. Search teams are constantly alert for booby traps.

(e) After the house search is completed, the perimeter and area between the security element and the village is searched. There are two methods:

      • One--if the security element has not been discovered, the search element may be formed into sections, each section searching a portion of the perimeter. Should any section flush an insurgent out of the vegetation or tunnel exit, the security element captures the person, or shoots at him, if he attempts to escape.
      • Two--if the security element has been discovered, it conducts the perimeter search. Part of this element keeps the village isolated, while the remainder conducts the search. Such a search could take hours if the terrain is extremely dense. Regardless of the terrain, the search unit checks possible locations for caches of materiel or insurgents in hiding.

(f) In areas where tunnels have been reported, it is imperative that the search unit have a tunnel reconnaissance team attached. This team should be composed of volunteers trained for this type of operation. They should have special equipment such as flashlights or miner helmets, protective masks, communication with the surface, and silencer-equipped pistols. They should know how to sketch a tunnel system, and they should recover all items of intelligence interest.

Section IV. Movement Security

G-10. Two categories.

Movement security can be divided into two categories: security of convoys with strong security detachments, and security of convoys with weak security detachments.

G-11. Strong convoy security.

a. Special combined-arms teams may be organized and trained to accompany and protect convoys. The security detachment is organized with adequate combat power to suppress guerrilla ambushes. Its size and composition depend upon the physical characteristics of the area, the capability of the enemy force, and the size and composition of the convoy.

b. In any case, the security detachment should have the following subordinate elements:

(1) A headquarters element to provide command, control, and communication.

(2) A medical support element.

(3) An armored element to provide firepower and shock effect.

(4) A mechanized or motorized infantry element.

(5) A combat engineer element to make minor repairs to bridges and roads and to detect and remove mines and obstacles.

c. For large convoys, the security detachment should include field artillery. Ideally, half of the artillery would be placed well forward in the column and half near the rear of the column. The artillery command and control element would move in the vicinity of the security detachment headquarters. This arrangement allows the most flexibility for providing artillery fire support to elements of the column in the event of ambush.

d. The combined-arms security detachment is usually interspersed throughout the convoy so that the various elements can be employed either as a fixing element or attacking element, as required.

e. The formation of a security detachment and its integration into a convoy varies because the enemy may be expected to observe convoy patterns and prepare their ambushes to cope with expected formations. Tanks lead the convoy to gain maximum advantage from their mobility and firepower. If no tanks are available, a heavy vehicle with sandbags placed to protect personnel from mines should lead the convoy.

f. A strong attack element is placed at the rear of the convoy formation where it has maximum flexibility in moving forward to attack any force attempting to ambush the head or center of the convoy.

g. The enemy force may allow the advance guard to pass the site of the main ambush and then block the road and attack the main body and the advance guard separately.

h. At the first indication of an ambush, vehicles attempt to move out of the kill zone. If necessary to halt, vehicles stop in place; they do not drive to the roadsides or shoulders, which may be mined.

i. Specified individuals (following the unit SOP) immediately return fire from inside vehicles to cover dismounting personnel. These individuals dismount last under cover of fire by those who dismounted first. Upon dismounting, personnel caught in the kill zone open fire and immediately assault toward the ambush force and then establish a base of fire. Tanks open fire and maneuver toward the ambush force or to the most favorable ground in the immediate vicinity.

j. While the engaged element continues its action to protect the convoy, the commander rapidly surveys the situation and issues orders to the designated attack elements to begin predrilled offensive maneuvers against the guerrilla force. The fire of the engaged security element is used to fix the ambush force and is coordinated with that of the attacking element.

k. After the guerrilla force is destroyed or neutralized, security details are posted to cover convoy reorganization. The convoy commander, using the fastest communication available, briefs his commander on the engagement. Captured guerrilla personnel are interrogated as to where they planned to reassemble, and this information is reported immediately to higher headquarters.

l. After an ambush, patrols maybe sent to interrogate and, if necessary, apprehend suspected civilians living near or along the routes of approach to the ambush positions.

G-12. Weak convoy security.

a. If the security detachment accompanying a convoy is too weak for decisive action against a guerrilla attack or ambush, the following principles apply:

(1) Some of the troops are placed well forward in the convoy, and the remainder are placed a short distance to the rear.

(2) Radio contact is maintained between the two groups.

(3) Sharp curves, steep grades, or other areas where slow speeds are necessary are reconnoitered by foot troops before passage.

b. At the first indication of ambush, leading vehicles, if the road appears clear, increase speed to the safe maximum in an effort to smash through the ambush area. Troops from vehicles halted in the ambush area dismount and immediately return fire. Troops from vehicles breaking through the ambush dismount and assault the flanks of the ambush position. Both attacking groups must exercise care that they do not fire on each other.

c. If the enemy force allows the main convoy to pass through and then ambushes the rear guard, troops from the main body return and attack the flanks of the ambush position.

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