Recon Tactics, Techniques and Procedures differ greatly from the regular ASOR squads. Something that must never leave a recon operators mind is the exposed nature of the their small team far from support. Stealth and concealment is a recon operators best defense and offensive tool.
Before any movement takes place, before you step off every team member needs to think, if you are going to move, move. Hesitation in moving can be more costly than the movement itself. Achieving a balance between stealth and speed when moving can be difficult. Three things play major parts in getting the right balance, Terrain, Coordination and Communication.
Fairly obvious but the terrain is the major factor, sprinting through dense forest will have your team stumbling onto your enemy face to face and crawling around will see you cover no ground at all. The middle ground will always be the sweet spot and the tactical situation will always dictate that spot.
Through the use of formations and buddy teams movement can be coordinated to achieve movement with speed while maintaining a visual eye for threat allowing faster and safer movement. Leapfrogging provides cover, and keeps team members separated to limit the chances of a “team wipe”.
Coordination is not going to happen without communication and with effective communication you will also achieve a much more efficient movement. With each team member communicating there should always be someone moving and always someone watching.
Moving should be done in a bounding fashion at all times where threat is possible, short and steady bounds with no sharp movements like sprinting unless area to cover is deemed exposed. Two-by-two movement; two bounding, two watching. As the terrain becomes dense the bound distance shortens, dense jungle terrain for example bounds can be as little as 5m. As the terrain becomes open the bound distance increases as needed. A field with trees every 10m or so for example an ideal bound would be to the next tree.
When conducting a passive recon movement should be kept to an absolute minimum if possible none at all. Any movement should be announced to the team so more than one person at a time is not moving around.
The team members watching are not specifically watching the other members of the team move, they are watching out. The members moving are still watching forward, their direction of travel so the watching team members should be looking off to the flanks or any areas the bounding team member might be blinded to where possible. If a threat is detected and reported it is generally the watchers responsibility to direct evasion or action against the threat as they are generally in a better position.
Constant steady movement is ideal, stopping and starting frequently is eye catching and prolongs your exposure time, if you are going to move, move. If a threat is reported or seen, stop and prone, if the threat is close to you remain still and expect cover and support from the watcher, act on their information. With team practice bounding movement can become quite fast and efficient.
At no point should a four man team be in the same location, a 50/50 or buddy group rule should be maintained. In the event a team member is spotted exposure for the rest of the group is limited as much as possible. This allows for more avenues to avoid full compromise.
The flow of movement is essential, waiting 30secs before you communicate you’re in position for the next team member to move draws the movement process out. Move to the speed you feel it’s safe to do so unless directed otherwise. Moving at a crouch pace slow when you could be just moving at “tac’ pace” for example. Experience comes into play on this one.
OTHER TYPES OF MOVEMENT
On occasion other scenarios that require controlled movement will present themselves and it would be impossible to list them all and consider every scenario. Some common movement scenarios may include:
This can be a dangerous time, having been in a fixed position for a period of time things could have changed around your position, the path you took in may not be a path to get out. Letting the guard down when the observation mission is complete can occur also.
If the position is exposed like a hill or a building, one team member should withdraw at a time to the nearest unexposed position before returning to standard bounding movement.
There will always be a time when the threat is low and time is sensitive and the team can resort to a standard tactical pace team movement. Just remember the spacing and communication still so as to minimise the risk of doing so.
EXPOSED, COMPROMISED AND E&E
Exposed is the state where it is likely or possible the enemy knows you are either in a particular position or area but you have no direct information or intel that they know for sure. Once in an exposed state the team must assume the enemy knows they are in the area from that point on and continue at an increased awareness. For example, if you had to fire on a single enemy and he was killed before identifying you this would be an exposed situation. Did someone hear the shot? Was there someone else close by that observed the target go down?
When in an exposed state a re-position or moving on from the point of the incident is the first step in limiting the exposed state. The level of the exposed state is directly related to the the scenario that caused the state in the first place. The greater the likelihood of exposure the faster the response of any mitigating actions should be done.
Compromised is confirmation the enemy knows where you are and is taking action against you; such as being fired upon, or observing the enemy reacting to your position or presence. A compromised state requires an immediate countering action with the goal of returning the situation to an exposed state rather than a compromised one, that being a situation where the enemy is aware you’re in the area but doesn’t know where exactly you are or other details of the team.
The team should have compromise drills and RVs in place throughout your movement so no hesitation occurs when conducting a compromise drill.
The Compromise Drill should be conducted whenever the recon team enters a compromised state. There are two levels to a compromised state, contact and no contact. Contact being physical engagement with the enemy either firing on or receiving fire. A no contact situation could be targetting of indirect fire onto your position or enemy maneuvering to contact you.
- Compromised Member reports situation and contacts.
- Team Leader issues Compromised Drill by calling “compromise, compromise, RV(# state RV point)” over radio.
- CONTACT – All team members initiate contact with enemy inflicting as many immediate casualties as possible.
- NO CONTACT – No offensive action is taken. Place anti-personnel mines before withdrawing if time allows (to leave a surprise for pursuers).
- All team members withdraw double-time to nearest RV point (prearranged or given at time of compromise call).
- On RV all-round defense and stealth is maintained, if contact is determined as broken team goes into an exposed state and continues on mission. If contact still exists the Compromised Drill is repeated.
- If the Compromise Drill fails a second time the team should then consider an escalation to Escape and Evade.
ESCAPE AND EVADE (E&E)
E&E is the act of aborting the mission and seeking an emergency withdrawal from the area of operation as fast as possible. Often this will involve a considerable distance to be covered by foot or any other means available before an extraction can occur. An E&E plan should be part of any pre-mission planning.
Escape and evading may involve leaving trip mines along the expected path of enemy pursuit, abandoning heavier items if speed is required and/or making use of civilian vehicles if available/appropriate. At the end point the team needs to ensure risk to XRAY or any extraction force is minimised and the chosen evac LZ is safe and clear.