UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


U.S. Marine Corps - Small Wars Manual (1940 Edition)

Chapter VI. Infantry Patrols

Section VI

Methods of reconnaissance						6-57					
Reconnoitering by scouts						6-58
Careful visual reconnaissance						6-59
Hasty visual reconnaissance						6-60 
Reconnaissance by fire							6-61					
Reconnaissane by aviation personnel					6-62
Airplane reconnaissance by patrol leader's				6-63
Intelligence agents 							6-64
Questioning inhabitants for information					6-65
Dogs on reconnaissance 							6-66
Security on the march 							6-67
Security at rest 							6-68

6-57.Methods of reconnaissance- The various methods of reconnaissance and security employed by patrols in small wars do not vary in principle from those used in major warfare. Because of the nature of the terrain in which most small war operations occur the difficulties of reconnaissance and security are increased. Several months of active operation in the field are required to train average individuals as efficient scouts, and only a small proportion will acquire the ability of a native to interpret correctly the things observed along the trail.

6-58.Reconnoitering by scouts- a. The most certain method to uncover an enemy is to send scouts to visit suspected positions. The disadvantages of this method include:

(1) It slows up the progress of the patrol.
(2) Dense underbrush, and mountains, broken terrain are difficult to negotiate and will rapidly exhaust the personnel.
(3) Scouts are likely to be in the line of fire when the battle commences.
In spite of its disadvantages, the results of this method of reconnaissance are so reliable that it should normally be employed. b. Scouts sent to reconnoiter positions which may be occupied by the enemy at any time during the passage of the patrol, such as commanding positions, and roads and trails intersecting the routes being traversed, should remain in position until tile patrol completes its passage. This is the principle of "crowning the heights."

6-59.Careful visual reconnaissance- The careful visual reconnaissance of suspected positions while approaching and passing them enables a patrol to march more rapidly, but it is not as certain to disclose the presence of an enemy as the method of reconnaissance by scouts. Excellent field glasses are essential for efficient observation.

6-60.Hasty visual reconnaissance- a. In some situations reconnaissance will consist only of a hasty visual inspection of dangerous and suspicious places. Hasty visual reconnaissance may be employed when:

(1) Patrols are operating in supposedly peaceful areas, or in areas which have been recently vacated by the enemy.
(2) Airplane reconnaissance has indicated that the area is free of the enemy.
(3) Military necessity requires the patrol to expedite its march.

b. It must be understood that to carefully reconnoiter every commanding position and suspected ambush site will, in some terrain, almost immobilize the patrol.

6-61.Reconnaissance by fire- a. Reconnaissance by fire attempts to inveigle the enemy to disclose his position by returning fire directed against a suspected hostile position. This method should never be used by patrols assigned to aggressive or offensive missions.

b. Some of the disadvantages of reconnaissance by fire are:

(1) It discloses the presence and location of the patrol to the enemy within range of the sound of the gunfire.
(2) It prevents the capture of guerrillas who may be traveling alone or in small groups.
(3) It expends valuable ammunition, the supply of which may be limited and all of which may be needed in a crisis.
(4) It has a tendency to make the men on service of security less observant.
(5) There is always the chance that a well-controlled enemy force in ambush will not return the fire.
(6) The members of the patrol have difficulty in distinguishing between the reconnaissance fire and the initial shots fired from an ambush.

c. Reconnaissance by fire may be reasonably employed by:

(1) Liaison patrols which are too weak to engage in combat with hostile forces.
(2) Patrols whose mission requires them to reach their destination as quickly as possible.

6-62.Reconnaissane by aviation personnel- a.Reconnaissance by plane is invaluable in small wars operations. It has the following disadvantages, however:

(1) Difficult y of detecting the enemy in wooded country. (2) It may divulge the location of friendly ground patrols. (3) The difficulties of maintaining continuous reconnaissance, (4) It does not relieve the ground patrols of their responsibility for continuous close reconnaissance, although it often gives them a false sense of security.

b. For further details, see Chapter IX, "Aviation"

6-63.Airplane reconnaissance by patrol leader's- Patrol leaders should make an airplane reconnaissance of the area of operation at every opportunity in order to study terrain features. This is especially important if accurate maps of the area are not available.

6-64.Intelligence agents- Reliable intelligence agents can sometimes be employed to reconnoiter an area prior to the arrival of a patrol, and to continue their reconnaissance in conjunction with the patrol's activities.

6-65.Questioning inhabitants for information- Patrol leaders must evaluate cautiously information obtained by questioning inhabitants encountered on the trail. A person who resides in a community overrun by guerillas generally is sympathetic towards them or fearful of their reprisals.

6-66.Dogs on reconnaissance- Dogs may sometimes be profitably employed with outguards and security detachments on the march to detect the oreSenCe of hostile forces. Unless they are carefully and specially trained, their usefulness for this purpose is doubtful.

6-67.Security on the march- a. General.- Whenever practicable, the methods of security employed in normal warfare are used by patrols in small wars.

b. Breaking camp.- Security measures must not be relaxed when breaking camp. The exit from the camp should be reconnoitered and the patrol should be vigilant when getting into its march formation.

c. Duties of the point.- The primary function of the point is reconnaissance, to disclose the presence of hostile forces on or near the route of march before the next succeeding unit in the column comes under fire. It is a security detachment rather than a combat unit. There is a tendency in small war operations to overlook this important principle. If a patrol leader assigns too large a proportion of his force to the point, he sacrifices his freedom to maneuver in combat. The leading man of the point should never be armed with an automatic rifle. He, more than any other man in the patrol, is likely to become a casualty in the initial burst of hostile fire from ambush. Point duty is dangerous and fatiguing. Men assigned to the point should be relieved every 2 or 3 hours during the day's march, and more frequently in dangerous localities,

d. Flank security.- The most difficult feature of security for a patrol marching through wooded terrain is adequate protection against ambush and attack from the flanks. It is usually impossible or undesirable to maintain flank patrols continuously in such country. An experienced patrol leader will often detect the presence of a hostile force in the vicinity by signs along the trail. At that time, he should establish flank patrols abreast, or slightly in rear of the point, even though the rate of march will be adversely affected. Except under these conditions, flank security is generally maintained by observation, and reconnaissance of intersecting trails.

6-68.Security at rest- a. See paragraphs 6-52 and 6-54.

b. Camp fires should be screened at night to prevent the personnel from being silhouetted against them in the event of a hostile attack.

c. Not more than 50 percent of the patrol, including the mess detail, men washing or bathing, and working parties, should be separated from their weapons during daylight hours. During the night, all men should keep their weapons near their persons.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list