Infantry Drills

FM 3-21.8 – Chapter 9 – Section IV – Area Reconnaissance

Section iV — area reconnaissance

9-164.  Area reconnaissance is a directed effort to obtain detailed information concerning the terrain or enemy activity within a prescribed area (FM 1-02). That area may be given as a grid coordinate, an objective, on an overlay. In an area reconnaissance, the patrol uses surveillance points, vantage points, or OPs around the objective to observe it and the surrounding area.

9-165.  Actions at the objective for an area reconnaissance begin with the patrol in the ORP, and end with a dissemination of information after a linkup of the patrol’s subordinate units. The critical actions include:

– Actions from the ORP.

– Execute the observation plan.

– Link up and continue the mission.

Actions From the objective rally point

9-166.  The patrol occupies the ORP and conducts associated priorities of work. While the patrol establishes security and prepares for the mission, the patrol leader and selected personnel conduct a leader’s reconnaissance. The leader must accomplish three things during this reconnaissance: pin point the objective and establish surveillance, identify a release point and follow-on linkup point (if required), and confirm the observation plan.

Observation Plan For an Area Reconnaissance

9-167.  Upon returning from the leader’s reconnaissance, the patrol leader disseminates information and FRAGOs as required. Once ready, the patrol departs. The leader first establishes security. Once security is in position, the reconnaissance element moves along the specified routes to the observation posts and vantage points in accordance with the observation plan.

Short Range

9-168.  On nearing the objective, the patrol commander should establish a forward release point. It should be sited so it is well hidden, no closer than 200 meters from known enemy patrol routes, OPs, or sentry positions. The forward RP provides the patrol leader with a temporary location close to the objective from which he can operate. While the close reconnaissance is in progress, it should be manned by the patrol second in charge and the radio operator. Only vital transmissions should be made while in the forward release point. The volume setting should be as low as possible on the radio, and if available, the operator should use an earphone.

9-169.  The close reconnaissance team should make its final preparation in the forward release point. Movement from the forward release point must be very slow and deliberate. Leaders should allow sufficient time for the team to obtain the information. If time is limited, the team should only be required to obtain essential information. If the enemy position is large, or time is limited, the leader may employ more than one close reconnaissance team. If this occurs, each patrol must have clearly defined routes for movement to and from the forward release point. They must also have clearly defined areas in which to conduct their reconnaissance in order to avoid clashes.

9-170.  The close reconnaissance team normally consists of one to two observers and two security men. The security men should be sufficiently close to provide protection to the observer, but far enough away so his position is not compromised. When moving in areas close to the enemy position, only one man should move at any one time. Accordingly, bounds should be very short.

9-171.  Once in position, the patrol observes and listens to acquire the needed information. No eating, no talking, and no unnecessary movement occurs at this time. If the reconnaissance element cannot acquire the information needed from its initial position, it retraces the route and repeats the process. This method of reconnaissance is extremely risky. The reconnaissance element must remember that the closer it moves to an objective, the greater the risk of being detected.

Multiple Reconnaissance and Surveillance Teams

9-172.  When information cannot be gathered from just one OP/vantage point, successive points may be used. Once determined, the leader must decide how his patrol will actually occupy them. The critical decision is to determine the number of teams in the reconnaissance element. The advantages of a single team in the reconnaissance element are the leader’s ability to control the team, and the decreased probability of enemy detection. The disadvantages of the single team are the lack of redundancy and the fact that the objective area is only observed by one team. The advantages of using multiple teams include, affording the leader redundancy in accomplishing his mission, and the ability to look at the objective area from more than one perspective. The disadvantages include, the increased probability of being detected by the enemy, and increased difficulty of controlling the teams.

9-173.  The leader may include a surveillance team in his reconnaissance of the objective from the ORP. He positions these surveillance teams while on the reconnaissance. He may move them on one route, posting them as they move, or he may direct them to move on separate routes to their assigned locations.

Security Element

9-174.  The subordinate leader responsible for security establishes security at the ORP and positions other security teams as required on likely enemy avenues of approach into the objective area.

Surveillance Teams

9-175.  The platoon and squad use the surveillance/vantage point method that utilizes a series of surveillance or vantage points around the objective to observe it and the surrounding areas.

9-176.  The unit halts in the ORP and establishes security while they confirm the location. The platoon leader conducts a leader’s reconnaissance of the objective area to confirm the plan, and then returns to the ORP.

9-177.  Once the security teams are in position, the reconnaissance element leaves the ORP. The element moves to several surveillance or vantage points around the objective. Instead of having the entire element move as a unit from point to point, the element leader might decide to have only a small reconnaissance team move to each surveillance or vantage point. After reconnoitering the objective, elements return to the ORP and disseminate information.


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