Patrolling Fundamentals III

Written by David R. Reed

Danger Areas

A danger area is a place where the enemy can see you. You should avoid danger areas where possible. When studying the terrain you will cross, look for these and plan to go around them. Streams, rivers, roads, fields, and clear areas are all places that the enemy may be watching. When you come to a danger area that cannot be bypassed, you should cross it in this manner. First, send out security to the right and left. They should move along the edge for at least 50 meters looking for enemy positions. If they spot danger, they will return and advise the patrol leader. They will take up a position where they can cover the patrol when everyone crosses.

Next send the point team across. When they cross the right and left security must be ready to cover them. Once across, the point team will recon the far side of the danger area to insure there is no danger waiting for the patrol. When they are satisfied that it is safe, they will return to the danger area and signal. They will then pull far side security until the team is across.

Next, everyone gets to the edge of the danger area and upon a signal, rushes across at once. As soon as they reach the far side they take up a position just like they always do when the patrol is stopped. The point team will advise the PL of what they have found ahead, and the patrol moves out quickly. If you were spotted crossing, there may be a fire mission on its way in. You must quickly get out of the area and be certain to leave little sign. Trackers may be called in to start tailing you from the danger area where you were seen. The few hours after a danger area crossing are hours spent being very careful, changing courses to confuse trackers, etc.


Standard Operating Procedures should be established for anything that you will do a lot of. By standardizing these things, it is easier to communicate them during a patrol order. Actions while stopped, at danger areas, and occupying a patrol base are the first three you will want to standardize. If you always do it the same way then you will not need to rehearse these as much, and there won't be any need for talking in the field.

Intel Collection

Each recon team should take pictures of vehicle tracks, the distance between them, etc., so that Intelligence can determine the vehicle that made them. All equipment should be photographed. If you can see markings on the vehicles use a telephoto lens to get good pictures. Also photograph antennas and other equipment. Intelligence can determine a lot from these pictures. Your team should have a good working knowledge of the enemy's radio equipment, antennas, etc. This will help you determine the difference between company, battalion, or regiment HQ's. Frequency counters are small and can be used to determine the freq. the enemy is transmitting on. Do not make up stories or lie about what you saw to make your efforts seem more important. It would be a shame to divert military assets and get people killed to strike a target that you have exaggerated the importance of. You should arrange for experts to train your team in the use of photo equipment, film, etc. This equipment (Unless waterproof) should be protected in the same way radios are.

When you rendezvous you will all compare notes and make sure that everyone knows everything that each other saw during recon. If only one man makes it back he will do so with all of the intelligence. This is called disseminating information

Helicopter extraction

If helicopters are used you must let them know you are coming and let them know if you are being chased. Gunships will be able to attack your pursuers giving you time to board and take off.

Once the choppers are in-bound you will probably want to pop a smoke for identification. The chopper pilot will see it and say "identify purple, east edge of LZ" if you popped a purple smoke at the east edge of the LZ you'll confirm. If you popped a yellow then the enemy is nearby trying to lure him in. Advise the pilot and the gunships can handle the bastards with the purple smoke. You must run to the helicopters as they are landing, not after. You want the pickup to be touch and go, with the helicopter never really coming to a stop. Aircrews appreciate efficiency! Their gunners can provide covering fire while you run. Make sure you coordinate this with the air liaison. Make sure he arranges a slick with two gunners and at least two supporting gunships. You don't want to find out that is no covering fire after you are in the open and running to meet the helicopter. (Not that there is much you can do about it.)

Escape & Evasion

This is what you'll do if for some reason the helicopters can't pick you up at the LZ. You will move to the next LZ, and the next, and so on trying to make contact. Have prearranged times to meet someone at a safe, distant LZ in case your radio malfunctions. (Remember lots of batteries.) If this fails you will have a long walk. Make sure that you know what friendly unit you will be attempting to contact, their frequencies, and a password. You will need compasses, signal mirrors, water purification tablets, good knives, etc.

Other tricks

You can rig a white phosphorous grenade in the bottom of your rucksack with a wire leading up to your quick release on the harness. Tape it securely and open the pin on the grenade JUST A LITTLE. If you have to drop rucksacks and haul ass you will have about 5 seconds after dropping the rucksack before it goes off, right in the face of your pursuers. Good soldiers do not drop their rucksacks on a mission for any other reason. Dropping a rucksack is a violation of noise discipline. Tired line soldiers are in the habit of dropping rucksacks every time they stop. This is very bad form.

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