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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Chapter 7

Movement Techniques and Formations

The tempo of operations demands that NBC recon units spend a lot of time moving. NBC recon units normally will spend more time moving than performing recon. Moving carelessly may cause a unit to make contact with the enemy and suffer needless casualties.

NBC recon units use standard formations and movement techniques to get to their assigned area. Once at the mission area, the NBC recon unit selects the appropriate NBC recon technique to perform its mission. The NBC recon techniques are described in detail in Chapter 8.


To survive on the battlefield and provide NBC reconnaissance, leaders must exercise command and control, maximize the use of terrain, and apply the following fundamentals of movement:

  • Move on covered and concealed routes.
  • Do not move directly forward from covered and concealed positions.
  • Avoid likely ambush sites and other danger areas.
  • Enforce camouflage, noise, and light discipline.
  • Maintain all-round security, including air guards.

  • NBC recon units must adhere to the following guidelines:
  • Use terrain for protection. Terrain offers natural cover and concealment from enemy observation and cover against enemy fire. Using terrain to protect vehicles is difficult; so, terrain driving must become a habit. Use it when in contact with the enemy and when contact is possible or expected.
  • Avoid possible kill zones. Platoons and squads must avoid wide open spaces, especially where high ground dominates, or where cover and concealment is available to the enemy.
  • Maximize the vehicle's capabilities. Vehicle commanders and drivers should use any available depressions and trees to avoid enemy antitank guided-missile (ATGM) fire. When moving to a new position, the driver should make use of speed whenever possible.


Leaders place themselves where they can best command and control. Their location is governed by the situation, movement formation, movement technique, and whether or not the unit is performing reconnaissance. Selection of the movement formation is based on the factors of METT-T. The distance between vehicles varies according to the terrain and enemy. Each vehicle crew is responsible for a different sector to provide all-round security while on the move. Leaders direct movement by using arm-and-hand signals. Radios should be used only as a backup means of communicating.

Movement Formations

There are five formations for platoon mounted movement: column, line, wedge, vee, and echelon.


The column formation is used for road marches, for movement during limited visibility, and when passing through defiles or other restrictive terrain. The platoon can deploy rapidly from the column formation into other formations. The column simplifies control and provides good security.

The staggered column (Figure 7-1) is used for rapid movement across open terrain. It affords all-round observation and fields of fire. The platoon leader positions himself or herself to best control the platoon. The staggered column formation is used by squad- or platoon-sized units. Vehicles should maintain 25- to 100-meter intervals and lateral dispersion. Each vehicle commander maintains observation of his or her designated sector. The exact distance between vehicles depends on METT-T, weather conditions, and visibility.


The line formation is used for rapid movement when time is limited. However, it provides little flank security. This formation primarily is used when no enemy contact is expected and time is critical.


The wedge formation (Figure 7-2) is used by platoon-sized elements. It allows for security and facilities positive command and control. Vehicle dispersion and intervals again depend on METT-T and visibility. When spreading out in open, flat terrain, as a minimum, each vehicle must maintain visibility of the vehicle to its front. When moving in platoon wedge, the platoon leader positions himself or herself for best control of movement of the entire platoon. Each vehicle commander maintains observation of a designated sector. This formation is used when enemy contact is possible.

The column of wedges (Figure 7-3) is one of the most frequently used platoon movement formations. It allows for optimum flexibility, security, and good command and control. It is best employed when traveling or traveling overwatch conditions are warranted. Vehicle dispersion and intervals between squads are METT-T dependent, but the lead vehicle of the trail squad generally needs visual contact with the lead squad. This formation allows squads to deploy into other formations most rapidly should the tactical situation warrant.


The vee formation (Figure 7-4) affords good security, speed, command, and control. The split vee (Figure 7-5) can be used when the two squads are operating on different routes. These formations are used when contact is possible but speed is desirable. The lead vee element moves along covered and concealed routes for protection. The trail element moves at variable speed, continually overmatching and providing security. The trail element must always maintain visual contact with the lead element and may stop periodically to observe.

Echelon Right (Left)

An echelon formation (Figure 7-6) provides good coverage of an area. It provides flexibility and sped. This formation does not provide sufficient security if enemy contact is possible or expected.

Stationary Formations

There are two security formations used when the vehicles are not moving: herringbone and coil.


The herringbone (Figure 7-7) is used to disperse the platoon when traveling in the column formation. It maybe used during air attacks or when the platoon must stop during movement. It lets the platoon move to covered and concealed positions off a road or from an open area and establishes all-round security without detailed instructions being issued. The vehicles are repositioned as necessary to take advantage of the best cover, concealment, and fields of fire. Crew members dismount and establish security.


The coil is used to provide all-round (360 degree) security and observation when the unit is stationary (Figure 7-8). It is useful for tactical refueling, resupply, and issuing platoon orders. Because it presents an easy target, it is not designed to be used for long periods during daylight. Security is posted to include air guards and dismounted personnel. There are two methods to forma coil.

The first method, when visibility is limited, requires the platoon leader to form the coil by leading his platoon in a circle, When the circle is complete, all vehicles stop, adjust for cover and concealment, turn 90 degrees outward, and post security.

The second method is done by the platoon leader, signaling, quickly moving his vehicle into position, and stopping. The other vehicles move directly to their assigned positions, as stated in the platoon SOP, seek cover and concealment, and post security. This technique is used during daylight or whenever speed is essential.

Movement Techniques

Movement techniques are methods used by units to traverse terrain . They are traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch, The likelihood of enemy contact determines which technique to use, as shown in the following table:


Traveling movement technique is employed when enemy contact is not likely and speed is necessary. The unit moves in column with 50-meter intervals. Vehicles move continuously, at a maximum safe speed. When the column stops all vehicles herringbone. The unit moves along covered and concealed routes automatically contracting and expanding, based on terrain and visibility. Local security is maintained according to its SOP. Each vehicle posts an airguard. The unit leader locates where he or she can best control.

Traveling Overwatch

Traveling overwatch movement technique is employed when enemy contact is likely (possible). Unit moves in column with a 50-meter interval with designated lead and trail elements. The trail element moves continuously, following covered and concealed routes. The lead element is approximately 50 to 100 meters ahead of the trail element, depending on terrain and vegetation. The trail element moves at varying speeds, stopping as required to overwatch the lead vehicle. Visual contact is maintained with the lead element at all times.

The trail element overmatches at such a distance that should the enemy engage the lead element, it will not prevent the trailing element from firing or moving to support the lead element. In wooded areas or restricted terrain, the units reduce speed and interval. In adverse weather conditions, the crew of the lead vehicle dismounts to verify the trafficability of the route. The following vehicle(s) provides overwatch. The unit maintains local security according to its SOP.

Bounding Overwatch

Bounding overwatch is employed when enemy contact is expected. The basic movement formation is the staggered column with 50-to 100-meter intervals between vehicles. Lead element bounds forward following a covered and concealed route. The bounding element may be a single vehicle for a section movement or an entire section for a platoon movement. The overmatching element covers the progress of the bounding element from covered and concealed positions offering observation and fields of fire against suspected enemy positions. Visual contact is maintained at all times.

The length of a bound is based on terrain analysis and the ranges and fields of fire from the overmatching vehicles. When cresting a hill, entering an open area, exiting a defile, or moving through any other restrictive terrain, a crewman dismounts from the vehicle. He or she moves forward on foot to a point where he or she can observe all suspected or likely enemy firing positions. The unit maintains local security according to its SOP.

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