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Focused Reconnaissance

by CPT Joel C. Dotterer
As a rule, Scout Platoons are overtasked and under-resourced. The resultant end state normally finds all the TF scouts dead and the OPFOR moving through the TF rear at will.

QUESTION: How can we sort through the mass of conflicting scout missions and still accomplish the TF CDR's intent?

ANSWER: Focused Reconnaissance. We know how to focus direct and indirect fires to achieve mass, don't we? Why can't we focus the Task Force's reconnaissance assets as well?

Go Back to SQUARE ONE: The best place to start is the TF R&S plan. This document should assign NAI responsibility to units and provide them with the task and purpose for that NAI. The document should clearly show who is looking, what they are looking for, and why they are looking for it. This not only simplifies the execution of the R&S plan, but also allows the looker to have a better picture of what, and more importantly, why he is looking for it.


1. Lack of coordination between Infantry patrols and Scout Operations. Assets are often wasted by assigning Infantry to clear NAls that are already under observation by the Scouts.

2. Mission Creep. Mission creep is the gradual increase of tasks assigned to the platoon. Frequently, these extraneous missions overburden the scouts to the point that they interfere with the scout's primary mission, reconnaissance.

EXAMPLE: Assigning scouts a combat mission such as minefield emplacement or a non-combat mission such as CA/PSYOPS escort. Although these missions are also important, they take scarce assets away from the TF cdr.



1. Use a platoon execution matrix to track responsibilities within the platoon. This singe-source document:

  • Assigns NAI and observation responsibility.
  • Tracks additional missions assigned to the platoon.
  • Easily transmitted via FM.
  • Gives a clear, concise picture of who has responsibility to cover what NALS.
  • Prevents mission creep by visually identifying when scouts are becoming overtasked.

2. The Scout Platoon Leader and the TF S-2 must work together to minimize mission distractors and keep the Scouts focused on their primary reconnaissance mission.

3. Always use the R&S plan as the primary document for deconflicting responsibility for gathering intelligence.

Unfocused reconnaissance wastes scarce assets. Using simple tools such as the R&S plan and a platoon execution matrix enhances the ability of TF S-2s and Scout Platoon Leaders to focus their collection efforts and increase the efficiency of the TF reconnaissance effort.

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