FM 7-8 tells us that there’s two types of Patrols- Recon and Combat. Of the Combat Patrols, there’s Ambush and Raid. Of Recon, there’s three: Area, Zone, and Route.
Area is for, well, an area. A town, village, grid square, whatever. A Zone is a specific point on a map, an object of interest, or the area housing the thing you want to see. A Route is, well, a route. Self explanatory.
When a Buck smells your presence, he doesn’t move broadside to you. He comes directly at you, and moves away in the same manner. Why is this? Because the evolution of fight or flight, AKA OODA, has taught him that he’s less likely to be seen that way. So how do we move on a target?
The Objective Rally Point(ORP) in the diagram is what we want to get a better view of. This is the Zone recon, by the way. Notice how the movement around looks like fan blades or a clover leaf? That’s how you move. Each leg of the movement is outside of SSLS(sight, sound, light, and smell) range of the target. That’s generally 150-200M before you begin to curve around. Obviously, you don’t want to walk right up on your target, so once you get your vantage point, start looking for the next vantage point that offers the best concealment. This is part of that Common Sense thing that’s referred to in the Fifth Principle of Patrolling.
Scouting an Area
Each “leg” in this diagram is the path of a separate team conducting recon of the targets of interest within the Area. On the map, they’ll have an easily recognizable rally point(usually a large terrain feature) to reassemble then move back to friendly lines. Teams spread out, do their business, and come back together eventually, not getting shot in the process.
This is a larger macro-view of how an Area recon would be conducted to cover a large area with a large number of teams. This would usually be conducted by an entire Detachment.
As the diagram illustrates, you’re shadowing the road. We know the route is there; what we’re looking for is an assessment for follow-on forces or how to sabotage it for the OPFOR. We’re looking for such things as:
Making sense? North/South, East/West, roger?
In addition to Individual equipment requirements(Knife, Map, Compass, Weapon, fighting load, bleeder kit, Blood Chit, etc.) and digging/entry tools, there’s some Team essentials that you don’t leave the Wire or Safe House without.
-A spotting scope makes picking out details and finding what you need to take pictures of pretty simple.
-A good DSLR camera with a really good lens is the first piece of equipment you should pack. A picture tells a thousand words a thousand times over.
-A radio system(Radio, Antenna, Batteries, Interface equipment) capable of sending digital images and maintain communications with a higher echelon unit. This is why a skilled Communicator is so critical to the Team.
-A rugged Laptop capable of putting it all together and sending the messages.
The most critical piece of equipment though, is you and your team. This being said, recon doesn’t ebb and flow well when Teams don’t work well. As a leader, it’s your job to piece together a team now that works and start training. This stuff is very simple on paper; but there’s a reason teams go on lockdown a week or longer prior to stepping off to plan their mission. Individual and Cross-loaded skills are critical to not just success but survival. During the planning process, no detail goes unnoticed. Terrain models are built, rally points and critical targets of interest are memorized, and every contingency is attempted to be thought out. Team and Detachment Leaders are attached at the hip to the Intelligence/Multi-function team(MFT) getting every update as it happens. No stone is left un-turned. Teams work on a rotational basis; two are out, two are planning the next patrol based on real time information sent to the rear.(Remember Info vs. Intel? Yep…still different.) Also important to note is that while these illustrations are taking place in the hypothetical woods of anywhere, the same principles apply in Urban environments. The basics don’t change.
This is way more advanced than simple Light Infantry movement to contact stuff- and it takes a lot of practice. That’s why Recon and Surveillance Units across the board are made up of selected and specially trained soldiers. It’s not something that can just be done by anyone at any time; and that’s why these topics are far more important than arguing over which caliber rifle you’d rather get shot with, what Line-1 crap you should put in a “bugout bag” or any of the other useless topics that come up frequently.
Any of this making sense? Do you now see why building your Data Books and being able to recognize objects and equipment in the field is kinda-sorta important? I certainly hope so. You will not succeed without getting it right, right now.
…and Charlie says…stay positive!