Infantry Drills

FM 7-8 – Chapter 3 – Patrolling – Section V – Patrol Bases


A patrol base is a position set up when a squad or platoon conducting a patrol halts for an extended period. Patrol bases should be occupied no longer than 24 hours, except in an emergency. The platoon or squad never uses the same patrol base twice. Platoons and squads use patrol bases–

  • To stop all movement to avoid detection.
  • To hide during a long, detailed reconnaissance of an objective area.
  • To eat, clean weapons and equipment, and rest.
  • To plan and issue orders.
  • To reorganize after infiltrating an enemy area.
  • To have a base from which to conduct several consecutive or concurrent operations such as ambush, raid, reconnaissance, or security.




The leader selects the tentative site from a map or by aerial reconnaissance. The site’s suitability must be confirmed; it must be secured before occupation. Plans to establish a patrol base must include selecting an alternate patrol base site. The alternate site is used if the first site is unsuitable or if the patrol must unexpectedly evacuate the first patrol base.




Leaders planning for a patrol base must consider the mission and passive and active security measures.

a. Mission. A patrol base must be located so it allows the unit to accomplish its mission.

b. Security Measures. Security measures involve the following.


(1) The leader selects–


    • Terrain that the enemy would probably consider of little tactical value.
    • Terrain that is off main lines of drift.
    • Difficult terrain that would impede foot movement such as an area of dense vegetation, preferably bushes and trees that spread close to the ground.
    • Terrain near a source of water.
    • Terrain that can be defended for a short period and that offers good cover and concealment.


(2) The leader plans for–


    • Observation posts.
    • Communication with observation posts.
    • Defense of the patrol base.
    • Withdrawal from the patrol base to include withdrawal routes and a rally point, or rendezvous point or alternate patrol base.
    • A security system to make sure that specific soldiers are awake at all times.
    • Enforcement of camouflage, noise, and light discipline.
    • The conduct of required activities with minimum movement and noise.


(3) The leader avoids–


    • Known or suspected enemy positions.
    • Built-up areas.
    • Ridges and hilltops, except as needed for maintaining communication.
    • Roads and trails.
    • Small valleys.




A patrol base is established using the following steps. a. The patrol base is reconnoitered and established the same as an ORP or RRP, except that the platoon will enter at a 90-degree turn (Figure 3-22.)

NOTE: This action is METT-T dependent; if there is nothing to be gained by doing this step, then the unit does not do it (for example, flat desert terrain.

b. The platoon leader leaves a two-man OP at the turn. The platoon sergeant and the last fire team will get rid of any tracks from the turn into the patrol base.

c. The platoon moves into the patrol base as depicted in Figure 3-22. (Squads will occupy a cigar-shaped perimeter.)

d. All squad leaders move to the left flank of their squad sector.

e. The platoon leader and support element or weapons squad leader start at 6 o’clock and move in a clockwise manner adjusting the perimeter (meeting each squad leader at his squad’s left flank). If the platoon leader and support element leader find a better location for one of the machine guns, they reposition it.

f. After the platoon leader has checked each squad’s sector, the squad leader and another squad member report to the CP as an R&S team.

g. The platoon leader issues the three R&S teams a contingency plan and remind them that they are looking for the enemy, water, built-up areas or human habitat, roads and trails, and any possible rally points. (Squads occupying patrol base on their own do not send out R&S teams at night.)

h. The R&S team departs from the left flank of their squad’s sector and moves out a given distance, as stated by the platoon leader in his instructions. The team moves in a clockwise direction and reenters the patrol base at the right flank of their squad’s sector. The R&S team, if at all possible, should prepare a sketch of the squad’s front and report to the CP.

NOTE 1: The distance the R&S team moves away from the squad’s sector will vary depending on

the terrain and vegetation (anywhere from 200 to 400 meters). All members of the

platoon are on 100 percent alert during this time. The R&S team is of little value at night

without the use of night vision devices. The RATELO must be able to establish

communications with higher headquarters using a directional antenna.

NOTE 2: If the platoon leader feels that the platoon may have been tracked, he may elect to

maintain 100 percent security and wait awhile in total silence before sending out the R&S


i. Once all squad leaders (R&S teams) have completed their reconnaissance, they report back to the platoon leader at the CP.

j. The platoon leader gathers the information from his three R&S teams and determines if the platoon is going to be able to use the location as a patrol base.




If the platoon leader determines that he will be able to use the location as a patrol base, he gives the following information to his platoon sergeant and squad leaders. Platoon leader also disseminates other information such as daily challenge and password, frequencies, call signs. Squad leaders return to their squads, give out information, and begin the priorities of work as stated by the platoon leader. The patrol base must be sterilized upon departure.

a. Security. Only one point of entry and exit is used. Noise and light discipline are maintained at all times. Everyone is challenged. Squad leaders supervise the placement of aiming stakes and ensure Claymores are put out. Each squad establishes an OP and may quietly dig hasty fighting positions. Squad leaders prepare and turn in sector sketches to include range cards.

b. Alert Plan. The platoon leader states the alert posture (for example, 50 percent or 33 percent) and the stand-to time for day and night. He sets up the plan to ensure positions are checked periodically, OPs are relieved periodically, and ensure that at least one leader is up at all times.

c. Withdrawal Plan. Platoon leader designates which signal to use if contact is made (for example, colored star cluster), the order of withdrawal if forced out (for example, squads not in contact will move first), and the rendezvous point for the platoon (if the platoon is not to link up at an alternate patrol base).

d. Maintenance Plan. Platoon leader ensures that machine guns, other weapon systems, communication equipment, NVDs are not broken down at the same time for maintenance. Redistribute ammunition.

NOTE: Weapons are not disassembled at night.

e. Sanitation and Personal Hygiene Plan. The platoon sergeant ensures the platoon slit trench is dug and marked at night with a chemical light inside the trench. Squad leaders designate squad urine areas. All soldiers accomplish the following daily: shave; brush teeth; wash face, hands, armpits, groin, and feet; and darken (polish) boots. Soldiers ensure that no trash is left behind.

f. Mess Plan. No more than half of the platoon eats at one time.

g. Water Resupply. Platoon sergeant organizes a watering party. They carry canteens in an empty rucksack.

NOTE: Squads have the same requirements with their squad patrol base as platoons.

*The platoon should remain in single file. The platoon sergeant follows directly behind the guide so that he can count each soldier that passes through the passage point. He gives the count to the guide, tells him how long to wait at the passage point (or when to return), and confirms the running password. If the platoon makes contact after it is past the departure point, it fights through. Soldiers return to the departure point only if they become disorganized. They then reoccupy the initial rally point and the leader reports to higher headquarters.

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