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Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures

In addition to the need for non-lethal civil disturbance doctrine and equipment and the graduated response matrix, effective TTP are needed to employ non-lethal weapons in contingency operations. This chapter addresses TTP that have been developed and used in the field. Applying deadly force is, of course, fundamental for soldiers trained in combat operations. As mentioned in Chapter 1, the current doctrinal reference, FM 19-15, Civil Disturbances, includes TTP developed from experiences gained in domestic riots in the 1960s -- based on companies with four platoons rather than the three-platoon companies found in most Army units today. Because it was written in the 1960s, the manual also does not take into account the new technological advances made in non-lethal weapons and munitions. Non-lethal weapons doctrine is needed and should address methods for controlling individuals and crowds, ways to separate belligerents from other belligerents and from non-combatants, and ways to monitor the separation. Currently, there is no Army doctrine on non-lethal weapons and munitions. FM 19-15 needs to be updated. Soldiers participating in peace operations continue to identify new TTP to deal with the civil disturbance threat. This includes looking to new technology and employing recently developed non-lethal weapons and munitions.

Threat Analysis

The problem is to grasp, in innumerable special cases, the actual situation which is covered by the mist of uncertainty, to appraise the facts correctly and to guess the unknown elements, to reach a decision quickly and then to carry it out forcefully and relentlessly.

--Helmuth von Moltke, 1800-1891

While the term "Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield" (IPB) is used in stability and support operations, locations where civil disturbances generally occur are not battlefields. The keys to success in accomplishing civil disturbance missions are the development of operational IPB prior to deployment and aggressive gathering of intelligence information during the operation. The importance of IPB is significant today as units deploy more frequently to peace operations, normally as part of a Joint Task Force. The deployment of units into potentially hostile urban environments and their subsequent employment against ambiguous threats make IPB critical. The primary difference between IPB for conventional war and that produced for peace operations is the focus. A high degree of detail is required to develop patterns that allow a predictive analysis to emerge. To conduct threat analysis for possible civil disturbances, an enormous demand for demographic information is required to support a commander's decision process. The focus that IPB provides during the decisionmaking process is crucial to mission success.

The Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) identified challenges faced by units deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovia and documented the solutions developed so that follow-on units could access the available knowledge and apply successful TTP to situations that might occur in their area of operations. Information is the key to developing plans for appropriate responses to civil disturbances. Coordination with local authorities and local police, the International Police Task Force (IPTF), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should be effected by ARFOR staffs (down to battalion level) prior to the mobilization and deployment of forces to quell riots or control crowds. Each civil disturbance must be viewed as a potential flashpoint. The application of nonlethal means to control crowds is key to successfully accomplishing civil disturbance missions. If lethal force is the initial or primary force used, violence will erupt.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, battalions developed a list of Priority Information Requirements (PIRs) that facilitated their gathering of information. Units also identified potential problems that their soldiers might face while conducting peace operations. How to deal with civil disturbances and demonstrations were the key aspects of every staff wargaming session before operations orders were produced. Units understood that civil authorities and police were responsible for maintaining law and order; however, units also were required to prevent overt violence. This put soldiers in an uncertain predicament: "Do I let the civil police attempt to control the situation and watch civilians get injured or killed, or do I perform the job of the police?"

The creation of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) to implement the terms of the Dayton Peace Accord in Bosnia-Herzegovina provided some much-needed guidance on how U.S. soldiers should conduct such missions. At division level and below, the mission of the JMC included disseminating policy; issuing instructions to factions on policies and procedures; coordinating the required actions of the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP); resolving military complaints, questions and problems; coordinating civil/military actions where appropriate; and developing confidence-building measures among the factions. The GFAP served as the baseline for determining the roles of the military and civil authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Joint Military Commission Policy and Planning Guidance Handbook, 6th edition, was a by-product of the GFAP document and could not have been written without the GFAP first being established. Chapter 10 of the handbook spells out the "bottom line" by stating as policy for all soldiers assigned to Task Force Eagle that: "Civilian law enforcement agencies, not SFOR, are responsible for maintaining civil order and ensuring civilian freedom of movement. SFOR is not structured for civil disturbance or riot control and should avoid getting involved in efforts by the local civilian authorities to quell civil disorder through appropriate measures. Unless a crowd, armed or unarmed, presents a threat to SFOR, its mission, or another party, the Entities must take responsibility for police work."

Chapter 10 also discusses some key factors that should be considered by peacekeeping forces, such as:

  • Indicators that a crowd movement may be a threat:
    • Groups of more than 50 people, and groups comprised mostly of military-age males.
    • Gatherings of women and children as a screen for a following crowd of military-age males.
    • Advance media promotion.
    • Failure to coordinate with police and government authorities on both sides of the Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL), or with UNHCR or IPTF.
    • Gatherings of counter-demonstrators, or persons intending to oppose the movement.
    • Presence of weapons or any expression of hostile intent.

  • SFOR would:
    • Immediately bring the crowd action to the attention of the local police.
    • Take actions to delay, defuse, frustrate, or otherwise influence the crowd to disperse, if necessary:
      • Close established checkpoints when a hostile confrontation is expected.
      • Establish temporary checkpoints to control the movement of hostile crowds.
      • Disarm hostile civilian groups outside the ZOS.
    • Take a position of tactical advantage over the crowd, regardless of whether the police are present, and observe, record (taking photographs, if possible), and report.
    • Disengage before being surrounded by the hostile crowd. Use force in accordance with the ROE.
    • Support legitimate and controlled, non-threatening movement across the IEBL.
      • Arrange advance meetings of IPTF, local authorities, local police, and UNHCR.
      • Enlist the support of faction military commanders. Ensure they understand that their forces may not become involved directly to provide security or to block movement. Military faction support is limited to using their influence with civil authorities.
      • Monitor events to ensure they have been coordinated and properly executed.
    • Hold the Parties accountable when they fail to meet their responsibilities to ensure freedom of movement and to control civil violence.

  • SFOR would not:
    • Assume responsibility for controlling civil disturbances.
    • Provide security for demonstrators.
    • Interpose themselves between a crowd and its possible objective, or between crowds.
    • Enter a crowd except in accordance with the ROE to stop a serious crime.

  • Legal Notes:
    • A civilian crowd that meets peacefully and moves with no hostile intent is not illegal. However, such a crowd has the potential to become a mob and commit criminal acts.
    • COMSFOR is the release authority for the use of riot-control measures.

  • Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures:
    • Avoiding Confrontations. The most likely confrontation sites were at the IEBL. The next most likely sites were the marchers' or visitors' destinations (cemetery, village). The SFOR applied the following TTP to avoid confrontations.
      • Keep the crossing or visiting group on a bus.
      • Check passengers for weapons.
      • Halt the bus before it reaches its destination (potential confrontation site).
      • Do not allow passengers to dismount if there is an uncontrollable crowd at the destination.
      • Prevent a counter-protest group from forming at the destination site.
      • Halt vehicles as far away as METT-T permits; if there is no uncontrollable crowd at the potential confrontation site, have the passengers dismount and walk to the destination.
      • Establish temporary checkpoints on routes leading to the destination or potential confrontation site.
      • Check people who arrive at the checkpoint for weapons. (All units involved with riot-control operations must be prepared to stop all vehicle or pedestrian traffic seeking to pass through SFOR checkpoints.)
      • Avoid conspicuous, stationary SFOR presence at locations where such a presence may draw a hostile crowd next to a political party headquarters).
    • Dealing with Hostile Crowds. When a hostile crowd gathers, the following initiatives should be considered:
      • Inner-Ring Coordination (coordination that should take place at the tactical level -- at the scene of the disturbance):
        • Connect IPTF with the local police.
        • Connect the SFOR MSC Commander with senior town officials.
        • Keep civil police in front if a crowd gathers.
        • Confiscate weapons from unauthorized persons.
        • Using caution, get photos and video of participants, particularly agitators, and others who are not working to defuse the situation.
      • Outer Ring Preparation (measures that should be effected by higher headquarters at the operational or strategic levels):
        • Be prepared to seal off Weapons Storage Sites that could affect the situation.
        • Be prepared to counter a misinformation campaign.
        • Be prepared to meet with senior local officials.

Delaying the Occurrence of Civil Disturbances

The Area of Operations (AO) that units were assigned to patrol in Bosnia was often too large for available unit resources to manage effectively. In addition to providing local base camp security, ground maneuver units were charged with guarding key logistic and communication sites, as well as critical command and control nodes. Battalion-sized units were tasked to also conduct local force protection patrols, and to be prepared to execute various contingency plans such as support to the Office of the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ambassador's office for resettlement, assistance to the IPTF, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, joint commission officers, special forces teams, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). These taskings and contingency plans quickly drained available manpower. This problem manifested itself when factions threatened to riot or gather in large numbers to demonstrate. A technique that units developed to "stall for time" so that manpower could be shifted from one sector of the AOR to another was to delay the busses, or vehicles carrying demonstrators.

A technique units developed was to temporarily block the road on which the busses transported the demonstrators. Once the demonstrators dismounted from their vehicles and closed on the soldiers in their HMMWVs, the soldiers "leap-frogged" one kilometer further down the road. This was repeated as often as necessary. Eventually, the crowd would get tired and give up the idea of conducting a demonstration. The following illustration depicts this technique.

If constantly unloading from the busses did not dissuade the crowd from demonstrating, at least time was gained to muster a force big enough to adequately prepare for riot-control operations. To successfully conduct this delaying tactic, a detailed IPB is required from the S-2. Key routes into the demonstration site must be analyzed.

It is also important to realize that just as U.S. forces could block the roads leading into a demonstration or potential riot location, various factions that wanted to conduct demonstrations could also block roads, preventing relief forces from assisting with riot control. This is precisely what occurred in September of 1997, near the town of Brcko. Early one morning, a platoon from Camp McGovern was dispatched to secure a suspected weapons storage site. The unit was tasked to destroy any military vehicles and equipment located at the site, if necessary. As the platoon of tanks and attached engineer vehicles approached the suspected weapons storage site, a crowd chanting Serbian slogans and waving banners tried to prevent U.S. forces from approaching the site. The crowd was described as being "well organized," carrying hand-held radios and prepared political posters. Just as the platoon approached, the crowd positioned vehicles across the road in an attempt to block the soldiers' passage out of the area. The photograph below shows how effectively a truck can block a roadway.

The platoon became trapped and the crowd began spitting on the vehicles and throwing stones at the soldiers. Although no soldiers were hurt, the crowd was able to isolate and surround a Bradley Fighting Vehicle so that the vehicle could not move without hurting several civilians in the crowd. The platoon then moved in tanks and directed the hot exhaust at the crowd to clear a path big enough for the Bradley to get through. The soldiers threw smoke grenades at the crowd and the crowd threw them back. The crowd also tried to crawl on top of the tanks, and soldiers reacted by swinging the gun tubes around to knock them off.

The soldiers used a technique of moving forward and backward to try to wear down the crowd while still keeping the storage site within range. The crowd continued to press the platoon, but, as the sun went down, the crowd dissipated and people went home. No injuries were reported.

Key Lessons Learned:
  • Roads are key to any Peace Support Operation. Whoever controls the road networks in mountainous terrain, such as that found in Bosnia-Herzegovina, controls all situations that develop.

  • Experience shows that crowds will wear themselves out, and individual members of any crowd will begin to tire and elect to go home. Patience on the part of any enforcement agency will pay off in the long run by minimizing collateral damage, as well as personal injuries or loss of life to the local population.

  • Leaders, and soldiers, at all levels, must be prepared for the eventuality that they will encounter an angry mob when deployed on a Peace Support mission.

What to do if a Riot Does Occur

If recent history repeats itself, the U.S. Army will frequently be deployed to support peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations. These operations inherently include the likelihood that troops will encounter civil disturbances. Handling these disturbances effectively will have a decisive effect on our success in support and stability operations.

A poorly handled civil disturbance can quickly escalate out of control with potentially long-term negative effects for the mission -- placing our soldiers in greater danger both during the disturbance and afterward. Conversely, a well-handled situation can lead to an enhanced view of the U.S. Army''s strength and professionalism, potentially resulting in fewer disturbances in the future.

During the late summer of 1996, there was an increase in the resettlement of civilians from all sides of the Former Warring Factions (FWFs) throughout contested sections of Bosnia-Herzegovina. As this resettlement took place, the Implementation Force (IFOR) experienced a dramatic rise in the number of incidents in which Muslim families left the Bosnia Federation, crossed the ZOS and attempted to reinhabit their previous homes. The GFAP ensured refugees the right to reinhabit previously owned homes.

In this peace enforcement operation, local officials and police were responsible for ensuring the safety of their citizens, including UNHCR-sponsored refugees. IFOR assisted this process by providing general military security and by facilitating negotiations.

In August of 1996, the Republic Srpska Ministry of the Interior Police, armed with pistols and sticks, attempted to evict several Muslim families from houses in the town of Mahala. IFOR responded to the incident because it was a clear violation of the GFAP. IFOR separated the two groups and disarmed the Ministry of the Interior Police. Local radio stations began broadcasting messages encouraging locals to gather outside the IPTF headquarters in Zvornic to protest the actions of IFOR. A mob quickly formed. They beat one IPTF officer and overturned and destroyed an IPTF vehicle parked in front of the station. The unruly mob surrounded the IPTF headquarters trapping the IPTF officers inside. Within a short time, the mob formed a convoy of approximately 250 personnel to move to Mahala to protest the actions of IFOR at the scene of the original incident. The situation was in danger of rapidly escalating out of control. Task Force Eagle quickly implemented its crowd-control techniques to quell the situation.

Plans and unit battle drills must be developed for peace operations just as they are for combat. Preparation for peace operations must be based on sound civil disturbance doctrine -- which was lacking for units deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Having dealt with several civil disturbances throughout the area of operation, deployed units improvised and developed TTP to successfully deal with riots and civil demonstrations.

The TTP can be described using the acronym IDAM: Isolate, Dominate, maintain common situational Awareness, and employ Multi-dimensional/Multi-echeloned actions.1

Isolate, in time and space, the trouble spot from outside influence or interaction. Unit Tactical Operation Centers (TOCs) in the theater developed TTP that "isolated" riots or demonstrations to keep them from spreading into bigger and potentially more violent explosions of emotional expression. The idea was to close access in and out of the demonstration location. Once access was closed, rioters tended to tire within hours, and the demonstrations died down, eventually resulting in a peaceful conclusion. The picture below shows how vehicular Traffic Control Points (TCPs), poised to further isolate the riot, if control was lost, might be positioned on the road network leading into and out of the demonstration site. TCPs can also be emplaced using engineer-type barrier material to create an obstacle that is difficult to bypass. Appendix A discusses this technique and provides a Training and Evaluation Outline (TEO) (with task/condition/standard) that facilitates training.

Dominate the situation through force presence and control of information resources. In the past, units demonstrated an overwhelming show of force at the checkpoints, and dispatched attack helicopters to conduct overflights above demonstrations and massing civilian mobs. Also, using all the air assets available gave ground commanders a "bird's-eye view" of events on the ground. Helicopter overflights provided real-time situation reports ensuring units knew the "ground truth" at all times. This knowledge gave commanders a decisive advantage in both negotiations with potentially hostile elements and tactical maneuvers.

Units can dominate a civil disturbance using non-lethal munitions. However, it is important to consider force protection issues. Non-lethal weapons and munitions should always be accompanied with lethal munitions and the capability to employ them. At the time of publication of this newsletter, only grenadiers in rifle platoons were equipped with the "sponge" M203 rounds. All other soldiers carried the same equipment and ammunition they would use in a combat situation. The picture on the left illustrates how a sniper is positioned to overwatch the soldiers responding to a civil disturbance. Also attack helicopters can provide a show of force.

The task organization that emerged as the "minimum required" to respond to a civil disturbance is an infantry rifle company, or like-sized company of 120 soldiers, augmented with battalion scouts/snipers, a Civil Affairs team, and a PYSOP team. One platoon is positioned to either prevent collateral damage from occuring or to separate opposing factions; one platoon assists with the linkup of local police or the IPTF; and one platoon postures to serve as a Quick Reaction Force (QRF). If aviation is available, it can provide an excellent bird's-eye view of vehicular movement into and out of the civil disturbance. Also, the rotor wash of a helicopter is an excellent non-lethal technique that is used effectively to disperse crowds.

To dominate a civil disturbance, it may be necessary to actually detain personnel who are leading the civil disturbance. An instigator is identified as a person that is "prodding" others to commit disruptive acts, or the one who is orchestrating the group. Often, an instigator will be carrying a bullhorn or hand-held radio. Lessons learned by the MP School indicate that forcibly snatching instigators from demonstrations or riots can alleviate the organized violence of a crowd. The non-lethal TTP that has been developed for a unit conducting riot-control operations is to first positively identify an instigator, then send in a "snatch-and-grab" team to forcibly remove him.

The smallest unit that can employ the "snatch-and-grab" technique is a platoon. Before a platoon deploys to quell a riot, a four-soldier snatch-and-grab team should be identified. Two of the soldiers secure the individual and two provide security. Once an instigator is identified in a hostile crowd, the snatch-and-grab team deploys into the crowd and grabs the assailant and pulls him back behind the friendly picket line. The picture on the right portrays this technique:

It is imperative that the four-man snatch-and-grab team wear the Kevlar helmet with face shield and flak vest, but the team should not bring weapons or LBE with them into the crowd. Only batons should be carried into the crowd by the two-man security team. The snatch-and-grab team needs to remain in contact with the adjacent soldiers on the line formation as they pass through. That formation should remain ready to respond to any crowd actions that threaten the snatch-and-grab team. Once the snatch-and-grab team has apprehended the riot instigator, it needs to go directly to a secure location out of the crowd's line of sight. Again, Appendix A provides a TEO with which to train soldiers to achieve proficiency in applying this technique.

Military Working Dog (MWD) teams can also be employed in conjunction with riot-control formations as a method of increasing the crowd's apprehension about approaching or engaging the formation. The MWD Teams should be placed behind the crowd-control formation, in plain sight of the crowd, but in front of the command element and M33s. (NOTE: The M33 is a man-pack, riot-control dispenser. It contains CS (tear gas) and can be modified to discharge OC (pepper spray). It is a large, clumsy apparatus. An interim, mid-size riot-control dispenser has been developed and approved for use. This dispenser is included in the TRADOC non-lethal capability sets that will be fielded in FY 01.) The MWD Teams work back and forth behind the formation as an intimidation measure. The presence of MWDs, coupled with the presence of soldiers prepared to conduct civil disturbance operations, produce a profound psychological effect on the crowd.

CAUTION: MWD Teams must depart the area prior to the use of riot-control agents. MWD Teams must move a safe distance from the crowd to ensure the safety of the K-9s.

Another element that is crucial for successful civil disturbance operations is the use of combat cameramen. Events must be documented to hold personnel, factions, and gangs or groups accountable. To ensure that the right message is being presented, the information environment must be controlled through the synchronized efforts of the Public Affairs Office (PAO), the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA), and the PSYOP and Civil Affairs offices.

Awareness, the third principle of IDAM, is maintained through timely, accurate and complete, multi-source reporting. Reports can be received from a broad spectrum of sources. Unit checkpoints, air assets, such as Kiowa Warriors and AH-64s, close liason with the IPTF as well as European Community Civil Monitors, all contribute to an accurate assessment of any situation. In addition, soldiers in Bosnia also used Predator and Pioneer UAV platforms to better observe large sectors of an AO. The reports produced are analyzed and relayed to each unit involved in the operation.

Lastly, Task Force Eagle employed Multi-dimensional, multi-echeloned actions. While subordinate units provided local security at hot spots, TFE headquarters trained to focus its efforts on the larger tactical and political spectrum. Using all the international resources at his disposal, the TFE commander influenced the Minister of the Interior (Republic of Srpska) and other leaders of political factions to assist with quieting civilian unrest. The carrot-and-the-stick analogy applies here. Aid in huge amounts was available to factions that assisted and cooperated with the provisions of GFAP. Those that did not help, or that hindered the peace efforts exerted by the international community, were arrested and imprisoned. A key point that the command used, on a routine basis, was to employ all available resources to influence outcomes. The staff can "weight" a main effort by convincing local radio and television stations to stop making inflammatory broadcasts and begin making broadcasts designed to quell and disperse the crowds.

Key Lessons Learned:

  • The IDAM TTP was developed in an environment void of doctrine and leader training curriculum. FM 100-23, Peace Operations, does not mention riot-control techniques although riot control is a mission that is an inherent and recurring characteristic of peace operations.

  • Isolating and controlling riots, such as those that occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina, require collective training by units and deliberate planning by staffs before deploying to a peace operation. Trying to train units to an effective level of proficiency after deployment is difficult as units become quickly engaged in operational tasks and are often too spread out in the AO to conduct effective collective training.



1. Dickens, Mark, MAJ, and Murphy, Rob, CPT, "Responding to Civil Disturbances in Bosnia," News From the Front!, Center for Army Lessons Learned, Nov-Dec 96, p 18.

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