‘BLACK ROLE’ operations
‘BLACK ROLE’ (BR) operations are defined as Counter-Terrorism (CT), Domestic Counter-Terrorism (DCT) and Hostage Rescue (HR) operations conducted outside the scope, role, jurisdiction or capability of any other law enforcement or military unit where there is an emphasis on small, highly trained, independent teams conducting high risk strike and combat clearance missions in order to achieve sensitive military or political objectives.
BR operations often require more extensive planning than Green Role (GR) operations due to the minimalist and specialist approach taken towards completing the objectives, therefore placing a higher plan burden on COMD.
It is strongly recommended that all participants ‘look for work’ to aid in alleviating this plan burden on COMD; ‘Aim to bring a problem and a recommended solution, not just a question’. Pre-empt what may need to be organised before being asked to do so.
Below is a quick step-by-step guide for CQB planning to ensure the essential components are not missed.
COMD BR CQB PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS
1) HR or CC?
3) SQDS INFIL V TYPE + FUP + PREP + FSP + V/HDOP GR + METHOD OF INFIL (Primary and Alt)
5) RE-CLEARANCE & SSE
6) SQDS EXTRACT V TYPE + PREP + EXTRACT GR + DIRECTION (Prim and Alt)
9) EQUIPMENT RULES
- Is it a Hostage Rescue (HR) or a Combat Clearance (CC)?
- Are there any intelligence considerations such as STALKER, ASSASSIN, or INTEL OFFICER?
- Decide the method of infiltration, the FUP, the preparation (PREP) point, the FSP, and the V/HDOP point(s).
- Both primary and alternate for all.
- SQDs task(s) on target, area(s) of responsibility (AoR), compound entry and exit point(s), and so forth.
5) RE-CLEARANCE & SSE
- Re-clearance of area(s) of responsibility to ensure the security of the area.
- Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE) – a systematic search for intel such as enemy documents, HVT information, hostages, and so forth.
- Decide the method of extraction, PREP, the extraction point(s), and the direction of extraction.
- Both primary and alternate for all.
- Primary and secondary Tasking (SBF/P-SBF/Recce/Convoy Protection/VI), Helicopter choice, Weapons and Equipment, Formation of flight (orbit/fly-by/square/etc), Speed of loiter, Distance from target of loiter, and Altitude.
- For example: ‘SQDs permitted to shoot from bird when within 50m of LZ and only if under fire’.
- This is guided by steps 3-6.
8) What equipment are SQDs permitted?
- E.g. number of mags, bangers, grenade launchers, etc.
- This is guided by steps 3-6.
- AoR – Area of Responsibility
- BR – Black Role
- CC – Combat Clearance
- COMD – Command
- FUP – Form up Point
- FSP – Force Separation Point
- GR – Grid Reference/Green Role
- HDOP – Helicopter Drop Off Point
- HOW – Helicopter Overwatch
- HR – Hostage Rescue
- P-SBF – Precision Support By Fire
- PREP – Preparation
- ROE – Rules of Engagement
- SBF – Support By Fire
- SSE – Sensitive Site Exploitation
- TOT – Time on Target
- VDOP – Vehicle Drop Off Point
- VI – Vehicle Interdiction
Last updated: 17/01/2018
TARGET REPORTING AND OVERWATCH
As a recon element there will always be a need to report on whatever you are observing. The recon team needs to do this in an orderly and efficient manner otherwise the important information can be lost at the critical time. The recon team may have a lot of observable enemy but this information needs to be filtered and the SQL and the team can all play a part in that process.
Without basic equipment like optics, GPS, compass the job is still able to be completed however a higher degree of accuracy will be achieved with this equipment. If the likelihood that your team will have CAS support then a rangefinder over binoculars is what everyone should be carrying.
TIME TO ACT
Reporting targets without sufficient time for the Commander to act on the information although gives him some warning does not really help the Commander in their situation. Recon teams need to think ahead slightly of the main force but not so far the information is out of threat concern. Knowledge of the Commander’s intended movements and overall objective is vital for all of the recon team members.
Using these measures an identified target can be prioritised for reporting:
FIREPOWER – how hard can the target hit?
ARMOUR – how hard will it be to destroy?
MOBILITY – how quickly can it change location?
PROXIMITY – how close is it to friendly forces?
AWARENESS – does it know where friendly forces are?
Overwatch is generally a passive, location/objective surveillance type of recon. ASOR commonly use our recon forces to get to an overwatch position and report any enemy positions or movement. The overwatch position has risks in itself and security of the position must be maintained particularly for long stays.
For shorter overwatch positions simply the act of having a team member or buddy pair watch rear can provide the overwatch position security until moving again.
For long stay overwatch positions security can start with the selection of the overwatch location, choosing a position with limited access routes, or routes that are easily observed for example. Generally though a more proactive approach will be needed that includes conducting regular security patrols around the overwatch position which can be done with a buddy pair and still maintain the overwatch and/or deployment of mines/booby traps on likely approaches or access routes.
At absolute minimum a FUP or eRV position should be established for any overwatch position so if a hasty evacuation of the overwatch position occurs everyone knows where to go to meet again ahead of time. Other planning can include tasking of teams, who will patrol and when, who will deploy mines and where, who will establish the overwatch and who will provide security.
MARKSMANSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT PRINCIPLES
A recon operator requires discipline in the conduct of engaging the enemy. There are many factors to consider when making the decision to engage a target. The position security and area awareness, other unseen threats, the objective of your team to name a few. The SQL of the recon team needs to assess the relative importance of a target over the team’s objective and security. Compromising a good overwatch to take down an unimportant patrol for example.
WATCH AND SHOOT
Maintain firing discipline at all times. Only ever engage without approval and reporting if the target is an imminent threat, otherwise seek approval to fire. Observe, Wait and Watch, Report.
EFFECTIVE AND MINIMAL
When engaging a target where possible wait for them to be in an exposed position, the middle of open ground where they have the furthest to travel to safety if a second or successive shots are required or an absolute clear line of sight is available to ensure a clean shot. Use the minimum force necessary to take down your target, a single accurate shot is far harder to determine the origin of than several shots or a burst of automatic fire.
Use communication within the team and designate targets, call your target if not designated one to prevent double up. Prioritise targets of threat to you, or others, like specialists with AT/LMG/AA capabilities, drivers when engaging vehicles, target leadership to create confusion and delay in the enemy.
If engaging targets avoid target fixation, maintain your situational awareness and remember to move soon after shooting.
Knowing accurate distance and elevation to target is critical to accuracy in the marksman role. Aim for centre of mass to maximise the chance to hit and use an appropriate weapon calibre and round type to defeat body armour rather than focusing on head shots to avoid the body armour.
The more shots taken from a fixed position, the faster the enemy will locate and target that position, so choose your targets carefully and relocate promptly after any significant engagement.
At distances under 400m, consider using 40mm grenades to engage groups of targets to cause quick casualties enabling a faster withdrawal and break from contact.
Beware ARMA 3 does not reliably render hits for multiplayer observers / spotters, so shooters will need to track their own hits and misses, blood however may be visible to a spotter for hits.
Map reading is essential for a Recon Operator, you need to be able to report your own position and the position of other objects. You need to be able to navigate from one place to another and use the terrain effectively to conceal your movement and presence.
MAP-TO-GROUND AND FEATURE IDENTIFICATION
Map-To-Ground is the act of aligning what you are looking at to your map. This is done by using visible features such as roads, rivers, peaks, buildings or coastlines marked on your map and establishing your position or that of a distance object by referencing these fixed locations in comparison. Although this can be done without a compass or GPS, using them in conjunction with Map-To-Ground will increase the accuracy and allow the Recon Operator to report accurate locations, directions and distances.
CAMOUFLAGE AND CONCEALMENT BASICS
We train for concealment against human players, AI are not that much different in the way they detect us. On certain maps we have had issues with AI being able to see through certain tree types however this has not been so much of an issue in recent times with Tanoa.
The key to concealment is the understanding of contrasts, a dark colour on a light background or light colour on a dark background. The first step is to choose a camouflage uniform that suits the environment you are working in then by positioning yourself in shadows, natural depressions, in or under foliage or foliage around you this will eliminate or breakup any contrast you present.
Movement is your biggest risk, movement catches the eye and will always be your biggest danger time. To limit this threat we can employ basic concealment skills.
Use ALT look or TrackIR to look around rather than turn your entire character left and right to look around. The visual difference is massive, you should only need to move your entire body when using your rifle.
SKY-LINING / SILHOUETTING
Both when moving and when stationary avoid the absolute top of a hill, if you’re using a hill as an overwatch choose an area with tree coverage on the hill or if none available move over the hill slightly so you are not silhouetted with the sky behind you if someone looks up at the hill.
When moving don’t travel along the tops of hills, if you have to cross one do so at the lowest part or where tree coverage is present (rocks, trees or other features will be at your back) otherwise crawling over may be an option to minimise visual but that’s a balance of time and threat.
Dead Ground is normally a reference to an area of ground that the enemy can not see you in. For the purposes of movement you want to use gullies, creek lines and crevices when ever available to minimise your exposure to the surrounding area. Remain aware; as moving in dead ground may also mean you lose sight of your surroundings.
The teams footprint is in reference to the amount of ground you take up as you move. For example moving in a line formation in open ground the area you are observable from his much larger, a single column in a gully the teams observable area or footprint is very small.
It’s easy to be concealed by hiding in a bush or all hiding in a ditch to minimise your footprint but adjustments need to be made to suit the tactical situation.
This occurs when you are concealed but are unable to observe your surroundings.
COVER VS CONCEALMENT
Cover will provide you protection from fire, concealment will provide you protection from observation. Often concealment is the choice for a recon operator but never forget when you are in concealment you are not necessarily in cover and if you do take fire you are best to break that concealment for actual cover.
Even when stationary the teams should be adhering to the 50/50 rule which is you can be close to your buddy but should be separated from the other buddy group. You should be looking to keep as small a footprint as you can without grouping together or converging.
Stay back from windows and doorways and use the depth of the room to conceal your presence.
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.
RECON TEAM EQUIPMENT
Recon teams are small, mobile forces generally with a defined task. Careful consideration should be given to the equipment taken and weapon selection. The likely task must be considered, and alternate tasking considerations planned for. Recon operators need to be self sufficient when it comes to medical, spotting ability and potentially CAS direction.
Typically the marksman and spotter combo carry suppressed weapons chambered for the same ammunition, preferably 7.62mm NATO, to allow for ammunition sharing. The marksman would normally equip a high-powered scope (10x-20x) and bipod. The spotter, a weapon with underslung 40mm grenade launcher and intermediate range scope (4x). Both should carry alternate optics in case of re-tasking (1x-3x).
Recon operators should not be using tracer ammunition unless directed. Remember tracers work both ways.
RECON TEAM PURPOSE
Although ASOR has a broad use for our recon teams covering a number of roles, the primary use is reconnaissance of the enemy with the intent of providing information to the ASOR Commander, providing an enhanced view of the battlefield for maneuvering and other tactical decisions.
Therefore recon teams need to communicate to Commander what they need to know and in time to act. This requires an understanding of the Commander’s intent of the team’s recon mission and the ability to deliver information clearly and quickly. An understanding of the Commander’s intent starts at the briefing, briefings can be sometimes hasty or remote via radio at times but it is vital to understand what the intent of your recon operation is. Without a good understanding of the intent your team’s reporting can become pointless general information that provides no effective use to the Commander or the main force.
AHEAD OF TIME PRINCIPLE
Another important aspect for a recon team is the ‘Ahead of Time’ principle or sometimes referred to as the 5 P’s – Prior, Preparation, Prevents, Poor, Performance. Basically planning as much as you can beforehand because your team will not have time later.
Being a small and vulnerable team out of support range, planning is key. Knowledge of the AO in extreme detail by everyone in the team is only the first step in this process. Know the likely route you are taking, emergency rv’s, likely enemy, contingency plans for different scenarios should be covered and planned for before deploying. It needs to be a structured process as recon teams may need to deploy quickly to get ahead of the main force.
The end result of the ‘Ahead of Time’ principle is a Reconnaissance and Surveillance Plan (R&S). At minimum an initial R&S should include:
- LZ / DZ (Landing Zone / Drop Zone)
- FUP (Form-Up Point; in case insertion is dispersed)
- eRV1 / eRV2 (Emergency Rendezvous points)
- E&E Plan (Escape & Evade)
- OW / OBJS (Overwatch / Objectives)
- ENEMY (Known Locations / High Threats)
- And any “actions on” you can think of to help you through the mission.
RECONNAISSANCE vs SURVEILLANCE (R&S)
Reconnaissance is actively seeking out enemy positions, movements, supply and support where Surveillance is the passive observation of those aspects generally from a concealed position. A recon operation will always involve both but it is important to understand which ‘mode’ your team is in and execute the right SOPs to suit and particularly switch efficiently from one to the other.
TYPES AND METHODS OF RECON
ASOR only implements force recon, force recon refers to reconnaissance of enemy forces. Other types of recon include terrain and civil, terrain recon may be touched upon at times with recon teams scouting a path for the main force but is generally not practiced.
The reconnaissance of a fixed area such as a MSR (Main Supply Route), likely routes of enemy advance or likely enemy positions or patrol areas.
The reconnaissance of a fixed position such as an enemy base or defensive position generally with the intent of providing information on the position for planning or assault purposes.
The reconnaissance of a route from one location to another such as a patrol path or vehicle convoy planned route, track or road. A route can be any pathway ahead of a main force including air, water or land.
RECON MODE ACTIVE VS PASSIVE
Active recon generally involves the movement of the recon team either by foot patrol or motorised scouting where Passive recon is generally a fixed position or minimal movement covering a likely enemy approach or making use of a position with a large overwatch. Generally each type of recon can be performed in either an Active or Passive way and tactics change based on the ‘mode’ your team is in.
If your team can master switching between the two ‘modes’ quickly and in coordination your team will gain the ability to efficiently vanish into the terrain.