Basic Scout Skills

Scouts must be expert in a number of basic skills that individually or collectively are critical during all reconnaissance and security missions. This chapter covers many of these, including dismounted operations, patrolling, vehicle positioning, movement fundamentals, and actions on contact. A thorough understanding of these vital skills and principles is important both in the scout platoon leaderís mission planning process and in mission execution by the platoon and its scout sections and squads.

Section 1 Dismounted Operations
Section 2 Surveillance Methods
Section 3 Vehicle Positions
Section 4 Formations
Section 5 Movement Techniques
Section 6 Fundamentals of Movement
Section 7 Danger Areas
Section 8 Actions on Contact
Section 9 Call for Fire


Dismounted operations are appropriate, in some form, to virtually all scout missions. They are often the key to success in scout operations. The best scouting is done dismounted. It is essential that all scout leaders understand when and how to employ dismounted scouts to enhance their elementís ability to conduct reconnaissance and security tasks. There are three major types of dismounted operations: local security tasks, OPs, and patrols. These missions are covered in this section and in Sections 2 and 3 of this chapter.

The first step in many dismounted operations, a fast and efficient exit of the vehicle, is critical to effective tactical movement. Dismount drills allow scouts to move quickly and effectively both during the dismount and after it is completed. Although dismounting may occur under an almost unlimited number of unique conditions, drills can be developed for most situations that the platoon or its elements may encounter. These should include dismounting to establish local security, to establish a hasty OP, to conduct a hasty reconnaissance patrol, and to reconnoiter a danger area.

Once the platoon has determined what its high-frequency hasty dismount tasks are, it can develop an SOP, similar to the one illustrated in Figure 8-1, that specifically allocates individual tasks and equipment. As a minimum, standard dismount procedures will indicate what the mission is, who dismounts, and what equipment is dismounted based on the situation.

Figure 8-1. Sample SOP for dismounted operations.

The most common dismounted task performed by any scout element is local security. The primary purpose is to prevent close-in surprise of a mounted section or squad when it is halted for any period of time. Local security is also employed in a variety of other situations, such as during forward reconnaissance or as part of an OP.

A scout section, squad, or individual vehicle that halts for any amount of time should deploy dismounted soldiers to provide local security. These soldiers should never move out of visual range. The primary means of communications between the element and its local security should be hand-and-arm signals, with vocal signals and FM as primary backups. Wire communications can also be used; however, wire is usually not necessary or practical because of the proximity of an element to its local security. Wire is also time-consuming to establish.

When executing a reconnaissance mission, the lead squad in a section will frequently deploy local security to provide 360-degree observation and early warning. Typically, this involves one or, preferably, two dismounted soldiers, who move forward of the vehicle to investigate a danger area such as a clearing or dead space beyond a rise. The security personnel remain within the overwatch range of the mounted element and communicate via hand-and-arm signals. If they discover possible enemy presence, they signal the mounted element, which takes appropriate actions on contact. If all is clear, they signal the mounted element to move forward, then remount.

This type of local security task is fundamental to a properly executed reconnaissance mission; however, it can be very disruptive to the pace and tempo of the operation. The scout platoon can minimize the disruption, and maximize speed, by executing a dismount drill.


Surveillance is the systematic observation of a specific area. Scouts watch, listen, and employ electronic devices to observe their area of responsibility. The scout platoon can employ the techniques covered in the following discussion (OPs, patrols, and remote electronic and mechanical devices) to conduct surveillance of an assigned area.


The OP, the primary means of maintaining surveillance of an assigned avenue or NAI, is a position from which scouts observe the enemy and direct and adjust indirect fires against him. From the OP, scouts send SALUTE reports to their commander when observing enemy activity.

A scout platoon can occupy up to six short-duration OPs, one per squad, for up to 12 hours if the squads are at full strength. For extended periods of time, the scout platoon occupies long-duration OPs by sections, which limits OPs to a maximum of three. In addition, the platoon can array OPs either in linear positions or in depth. Depth is the preferred method for maintaining contact with a moving enemy. Linear placement is effective when the enemy is not moving; it provides maximum eyes on the enemy.

Types of OPs

OPs can be executed either mounted or dismounted, as outlined in the following discussion.

Dismounted OPs. The dismounted OP provides maximum stealth and thus has the greatest likelihood of remaining undetected by the enemy. The disadvantages of the dismounted OP are the time it takes to remount and move if necessary and, if a ground-mounted thermal device is not available, the lack of optics capability. If rapid movement or displacement is anticipated, the OP should mount or remain mounted.

Mounted OPs. These offer the advantages of rapid movement and vehicle optics and protection. Because the enemy can more easily detect them, however, they are potentially much less effective than dismounted OPs.

Positioning of OPs

OPs may be placed on the battlefield either in a linear configuration or in depth. Linear placement (illustrated in Figure 8-2) allows the platoon to observe the assigned sector from several OP sites, reducing the chance of the enemy entering the sector without being observed. This method works well when the platoon has been assigned a large sector with few avenues of approach or is in desert-type terrain. In-depth OP placement (illustrated in Figure 8-3) allows the platoon to observe the entire sector by placing OP sites where the platoon can observe the most likely avenues of approach in the sector as well as along the sector flanks. This method works well when the platoon is assigned a sector with several avenues of approach or is in heavily wooded terrain. In-depth placement allows for redundancy in observation and better coverage of the sector.

Figure 8-2. Figure 8-2. Linear positioning of OPs.

Figure 8-3. Figure 8-3. In-depth positioning of OPs.

Selecting an OP site

Based on his commanderís guidance, the platoon leader selects the general location for the platoonís OPs after analyzing METT-TC factors. From his analysis, he determines how many OPs he must establish; he also decides where they must be positioned to allow long-range observation along the avenues of approach assigned by his commander and to provide depth through the sector. Section and squad leaders select the exact position for each OP on the ground. OPs should have the following characteristics:

Occupying the OP

The scout platoon leader selects a technique to move to the screen line based on his analysis of METT-TC. Unless the area has already been cleared, the platoon should conduct a zone reconnaissance to the screen line. This is the most secure method of moving to the screen line, but also the most time-consuming. The following steps provide an example of how CFV-equipped scouts occupy an OP:

Figure 8-4. CFVs overwatching potential OP site.

NOTE: A HMMWV-equipped platoon will occupy an OP in the same manner as the CFV platoon; however, the section leader will take only one scout from each vehicle in the section.

Manning the OP

A minimum of two scouts man each OP. They must be equipped to observe the area, report information, protect themselves, and call for and adjust indirect fire. One scout observes the area while the other provides local security, records information, and sends reports to the section/squad leader or platoon leader. The two scouts should switch jobs every 20 to 30 minutes because the observerís effectiveness decreases quickly after that time. Essential equipment for the OP includes the following:

Improving the position

Once the section leader has established the OP and assigned the scouts their sectors of observation, the section improves the position. The section leader prepares a sector sketch. This sketch is similar to a fighting position sketch but with some important differences. As a minimum, the sketch will include the following: a rough sketch of key and significant terrain; the location of the OP; the location of the hide position; the location of vehicle fighting and observation positions; alternate positions (hide, fighting, observation); routes to the OP and fighting positions; sectors of observation; preplanned artillery targets; TRPs for direct fire; and prepared spot reports and calls for fire, based on trigger lines and projected locations where the enemy will first be seen. Figure 8-5 shows a sample of a section leaderís sector sketch for an OP.

Figure 8-5. Section leader's OP sketch.

Personnel manning the OP site begin digging in to provide protection from indirect and direct fires. They also camouflage the position, install wire communications equipment and directional antennas for FM communications, and emplace hasty obstacles for local protection. Vehicle commanders (or gunners) and drivers reconnoiter the routes to their fighting/observation positions and alternate positions, perform maintenance, and camouflage vehicles and positions.

OP communications

The scouts occupying the OP use wire, radio, or both as their primary means of communications. Wire is preferred because it is secure and is not vulnerable to enemy direction-finding equipment or jamming. The scouts can conceal the wire so the enemy cannot see it.

Wire is the best way for the scouts in the OP to communicate with their section/squad leader or his representative, who is located with his vehicle in the hide position behind the OP. The scout in the vehicle in turn relays reports or information to the platoon leader by radio. Ideally, if the vehicles are in a hide position, their signals are masked from the enemy by terrain. If they anticipate being in the position for a long period of time, scouts should construct a directional antenna to further reduce their vulnerability to enemy jamming or direction-finding. The scouts in the OP should carry a radio as a backup means of communications; they can use it to send reports or to talk directly to their FSO for indirect fire support.

OP security

Scouts are extremely vulnerable in an OP; their best self-defense is not to be seen, heard, or otherwise located by the enemy. They employ active and passive measures to protect themselves from enemy detection and direct and indirect fires.

The first step is to locate the OP in a covered and concealed position to reduce the chance of being seen by the enemy. The scouts add camouflage to the position to enhance natural concealment. If they have enough time, they dig in the position and add overhead cover to increase survivability against enemy fires. The scouts enforce strict light and noise discipline and reduce activity in and around the OP to essential movement only.

Wire communications reduce the scoutsí signature in the OP. If they must use the radio, they use a directional antenna whenever possible and mask their transmissions from the enemy. They keep all vehicles hidden because the enemy can easily identify their large signatures. To provide early warning of enemy movement around the screen line or OP position, scouts emplace their PEWS in areas that they cannot observe or in the dead spaces between OPs. Trip flares and M18A1 claymore mines provide additional early warning and protection from enemy personnel.

Active patrolling around and between OPs also enhances security. Patrols give scouts the ability to observe areas that cannot be observed from the OPs and to clear the area around the OP of enemy elements. They execute security patrols as soon after occupation of the position as possible to discover enemy elements that might have observed the occupation. The patrol reconnoiters favorable observation positions that might be occupied by the enemy. Route selection is critical when organizing these patrols because the scouts must assume that the OP position is under observation. Refer to the discussion of patrols later in this section.

OPs cannot always avoid being seen by the enemy, so they must take actions to limit their vulnerability. Covered positions provide protection from enemy fires; vehicle dispersion further reduces the effects of these fires. The vehicles in the fighting positions are used to extricate the scouts from the OP when the position has been identified and attacked by the enemy.


A patrol is a detachment sent out by a larger unit to conduct a reconnaissance or combat operation. The operation itself is also called a patrol. Patrolling plays an extremely important role in scout operations. Patrol missions are normally conducted by a section or squad, but there are specific situations in which the entire platoon may be dedicated to patrolling. In any situation, however, scouts can conduct extensive patrolling only if they are organized with sufficient personnel and other resources to execute the particular patrol mission. Figure 8-6 illustrates how patrols are integrated into a screen.

Figure 8-6. Integration of patrols into the screen.

In general, the scout platoon may be tasked to conduct three types of patrols: reconnaissance, combat, and tracking. These are described later in this section. Refer to FM 7-8 for a detailed discussion of patrol operations, including organization, planning considerations, and execution.

Types of patrols

Reconnaissance patrols. Reconnaissance patrols are normally tasked at platoon level or higher to gather detailed information on the enemy, terrain, or specific NAIs or avenues of approach. A reconnaissance patrol objective might be a small mounted avenue of approach that the platoon does not have assets to cover continuously. Reconnaissance patrols can also ensure the security of OPs and the integrity of the platoonís area of operations; when executed as part of a screen or other security mission, this type is sometimes referred to as a security patrol. A scout section can send out a reconnaissance patrol after establishing an OP to check all locations from which the enemy can observe the OP; this will ensure the OP position was not detected as it was occupied. (NOTE: Chapter 3 of this manual includes a discussion of the reconnaissance patrol in scout platoon reconnaissance operations.)

Combat patrols. The platoon may conduct a combat patrol as part of the counterreconnaissance effort, though this type of patrol is not common for the scout platoon because of the personnel and resources required. As an example, the platoon might use a combat patrol to establish an ambush on a dismounted enemy avenue of approach and prevent dismounted infiltration of the screen line. If combat patrols are routinely required, however, infantry elements should be tasked to conduct them.

Tracking patrols. A tracking patrol is conducted to follow the trail of a specific enemy unit, though this is a relatively rare assignment for the scout platoon. In this role, scouts look for signs left by the enemy. As they track the enemy unit, they gather information about the route and surrounding terrain.

Patrol orders

Figure 8-7 shows a sample format for a patrol FRAGO. It is organized in the standard five-paragraph outline and includes examples of information that can be included.

Figure 8-7. Sample format and information for a patrol FRAGO.


In some cases, the scout platoon will not have the resources to observe a particular area that is either tasked to the platoon or important to its internal security. Other times, the terrain will not permit such observation. In these situations, the platoon can use mechanical warning devices such as trip flares or electronic devices such as PEWS to monitor the area.

As a general consideration, remote surveillance devices allow the platoon to put maximum effort into the commanderís or scoutís primary area of concern while still maintaining surveillance on secondary reconnaissance objectives. The platoon will back up these devices with patrols to investigate any alarms. An example of the use of mechanical devices is an OP that uses trip flares in dead space along the avenue of approach it is monitoring. When activated, the trip flare gives early warning of enemy infiltration. A patrol will then be dispatched to verify the warning. See Figure 8-8.

Figure 8-8. Integration of remote devices into the screen.


Between moves or while occupying an overwatch position, a scout vehicle occupies one of three types of hasty positions: hide, turret-down, or hull-down. (NOTE: Refer to Figure 8-9 for an illustration.) The scout vehicle approaches the intended location from the rear along a covered route and occupies the desired position at the commanderís direction.

Figure 8-9. Hide, turret-down, and hull-down positions.


In this position, the vehicle commander hides the vehicle so that no part is exposed to the front. A dismounted observer must maintain visual contact with the assigned sector. This position is used when enemy engagement is not imminent and stealth is desired or when a vehicle is moving to avoid direct fire from an undetected enemy.


In this position, the vehicle commander halts the vehicle when the entire vehicle is behind cover but the commander can still observe the assigned sector from his position. The turret-down position is used when enemy engagement is possible and stealth is still desired. When engagement is required, the vehicle moves into a hull-down position at the direction of the vehicle commander.


This position is used to engage an enemy element. The vehicle commander halts the vehicle as soon as the gunner can view and engage the target area. The rest of the vehicle remains behind cover.

NOTE: Platoons that are equipped with HMMWVs use hide and hull-down positions as required (see Figure 8-10). In the hull-down position, only the vehicle gunner and weapon system are exposed.

Figure 8-10. HMMWV hide and hull-down positions.


The scout platoon uses formations to facilitate positive command and control by the platoon leader, to increase speed in execution, and to reduce confusion. Formations provide a standard position for each section or squad in relation to other elements.

Unlike the infantry or armor platoon, the scout platoon does not normally use formations to execute its tactical reconnaissance or security missions. This is because the platoonís primary maneuver elements, the scout section and squad, rarely maneuver within mutually supporting distance of other friendly elements.


The scout platoon most often uses formations at the platoon level when operating behind the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA) where enemy contact is not expected. It may, however, employ combat formations when terrain supports their use, such as in desert operations; when the mission or reconnaissance objective is very focused, such as in a route reconnaissance; or when the platoon is participating in the combat mission of a higher headquarters, such as movement to contact or hasty attack. Normally, platoon formations are not appropriate to the execution of a reconnaissance or security mission.

There are six scout platoon formations: line, vee, column, staggered column, coil, and herringbone. Movement into and out of the various formations must be second nature to each squad. Formations are intended to be flexible and to be modified to fit the situation, terrain, and combat losses; they do not have exact geometric dimensions and design.

NOTE: The illustrations accompanying the following discussion show a CFV platoon in various formations. The HMMWV platoon relies on the same basic formations to accomplish its mission. Unlike the CFV scout platoon, however, the HMMWV scout platoon should not be employed in combat missions such as hasty attack or movement to contact; therefore, it is even less likely than the CFV platoon to use platoon formations forward of the FEBA.


This formation can be used regardless of the platoon organization and is applicable to most scout platoon missions. It allows the platoon to cover the most ground systematically, with maximum reconnaissance forward. (See Figure 8-11.)

Figure 8-11. Three-section platoon line formation.


This formation uses the three-section organization. The platoon maintains relative positioning based on terrain and combat losses. The vee lends itself to immediate mutual support and provides depth; it is very flexible. Using any of the techniques of movement, the two forward sections perform all of the information gathering and reporting. The rear section provides overwatch and command and control. (See Figure 8-12.)

Figure 8-12. Three-section platoon vee formation.

Column and staggered column

The platoon uses the column formation when speed is essential as it moves on a designated route (see Figure 8-13). The column offers protection to the flanks, but little to the front and rear. Normally, the platoon leader briefs the section leaders on the route and speed and then allows the lead section to control the column movement. This frees the platoon leader to concentrate on the subsequent mission, enhancing command and control. It does not, however, relieve him of the responsibility of tracking the move on his map.

Figure 8-13. Platoon column formation.

The order of march may depend on which organization the platoon will use at the end of the movement; in addition, the lead section may vary based on METT-TC considerations. When conducting movement in a secure area, it is appropriate to specify the order of march by SOP.

The staggered column is used for rapid movement across open terrain. It affords all-around observation and fields of fire. Figure 8-14 shows the platoon in the staggered column in a two-section organization with Alpha section leading.

Figure 8-14. Platoon staggered column formation.


The platoon coil is used to provide all-around security during halts. Each vehicle has a particular position to occupy in the coil. The platoon leader designates the orientation of the coil using a cardinal direction; in the absence of orders, the direction of travel becomes 12 oíclock. Platoons must develop a coil SOP based on their mission essential task list (METL), war plans, and most frequently used organizations. The SOP should be practiced as a drill so that correct execution of the coil becomes automatic.

The coil is always executed from the column or staggered column, with the platoon using the six-vehicle organization. The lead vehicle occupies the 12 oíclock position. The other vehicles occupy the 2, 10, 4, 8, and 6 oíclock positions in accordance with the order of march. Vehicles are positioned 100 to 150 meters apart. An example is illustrated in Figure 8-15.

Figure 8-15. Example CFV platoon coil formation.


The herringbone is used to provide 360-degree security during a temporary halt from a march column (see Figure 8-16) scouts should dismount to provide greater security. The formation may be widened to permit passage of vehicles down the center of the column. All vehicles should move completely off the road if terrain allows.

Figure 8-16. Platoon herringbone formation.


When the platoon operates in a configuration with two sections of three vehicles each, the individual sections can employ formations of their own. Figure 8-17 illustrates the two three-vehicle section formations: vee and wedge. The vee formation provides maximum reconnaissance forward and speeds the rate of reconnaissance while using a single vehicle for overwatch. The wedge formation provides maximum security, with two vehicles overwatching the reconnoitering vehicle forward.

Figure 8-17. Section vee and wedge formations.


The scout platoon employs movement techniques for a number of reasons: to minimize its exposure to enemy fire, to help the platoon maintain freedom of movement, to maximize the number of tactical options available to the platoon, and to place it in position to react effectively to enemy contact. Effective employed, movement techniques allow the platoon to make enemy contact with its smallest element: the dismounted scout.

At the same time, however, movement techniques alone are not enough to guarantee accomplishment of these tactical goals. The platoon must use them in conjunction with other movement- and security-related measures. For example, scouts must make maximum use of all available natural cover and concealment when moving. In addition, they must avoid becoming vehicle-bound; they must be prepared to dismount to improve observation, prevent enemy detection, and provide security.

The scout platoon uses three movement techniques on the battlefield: traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch. These techniques provide a standard method of movement, but the scout must use common sense in employing them as he performs his missions and encounters different situations. The decision of which technique to use is based in large part on the likelihood of enemy contact; in general, this can be summarized as whether contact is not likely (traveling), possible (traveling overwatch), or expected (bounding overwatch). Terrain considerations may also affect the choice of movement technique.

In the conduct of most tactical missions, the scout platoon will move as separate sections or squads under the command and control of the platoon leader. Traveling overwatch and bounding overwatch, therefore, are most often executed at the section or squad level. Traveling, which is usually employed behind the FEBA, is used equally at the section and platoon levels.

Regardless of which technique is used, the scout section leader gives the section an order explaining what each squad will do. This becomes more critical as the likelihood of enemy contact increases. If possible, the section leader should provide his squads with the following information:


In this technique, the lead and trail elements move together as a unit. It is the fastest but least secure movement technique. It is used when speed is important and enemy contact is not likely. Movement is continuous, and interval and dispersion are maintained between squads as terrain and weather permit. The platoon does not intend to engage in combat, but it is dispersed to prevent destruction in case of unexpected air or ground attack. When using this technique, the platoon could be in a column formation or dispersed in its other formations (see Figure 8-18).

Figure 8-18. Platoon using traveling technique and staggered column formation.


Traveling overwatch is used when contact is possible but speed is desirable (see Figure 8-19). The lead element moves continuously along covered and concealed routes that afford the best available protection from possible enemy observation and direct fire. The trail element moves at variable speeds, providing continuous overwatch. It normally maintains contact with the lead element and may stop periodically for better observation. The trail element tries to stay one terrain feature behind the lead element but close enough to provide immediate suppressive fire and to maneuver for support. It must, however, be far enough to the rear to avoid contact in case the lead element is engaged by an enemy force.

Figure 8-19. Section using traveling overwatch technique and wedge formation.


Bounding overwatch, the slowest but most secure movement technique, is employed when enemy contact is expected. It should always be used when time is available regardless of the likelihood of enemy contact. It provides for immediate direct fire suppression on an enemy force that engages the bounding element with direct fire.

In bounding overwatch, one element is always stopped to provide overwatch. The trail element first occupies a covered and concealed position from which it can overwatch the lead element. Upon completing its movement (bound), the lead element then occupies a similar position and provides overwatch as the trail element bounds forward to its next overwatch position. Bounding overwatch can be executed using one of the following bounding methods:

As an example, a three-vehicle section may use the vee formation with bounding overwatch (see Figure 8-20). The lead vehicles advance to a point (first move) where they can support the advance of the overwatch vehicle. On signal, the overwatch vehicle moves forward to a position abreast of the lead vehicles (second move) and halts. During its move, it is overwatched by both lead vehicles. The lead vehicles then move forward again, with the overwatch vehicle providing security. Maximum use is made of folds of the earth and concealment to mask movement from likely enemy positions.

Figure 8-20. Section using bounding overwatch technique and vee formation.


This method of movement is simply an organized way of controlling the scout section when it moves in bounding overwatch. Set means that the element has arrived at its destination and has occupied a position from which it can observe to its front. This technique allows for an absolute minimum of radio transmissions, positive control by the section leader, and maximum security within the section. Preferably, the section leader uses hand-and-arm signals within the section for command and control. If the section leader must use the radio, squad leaders should keep their radios on the lowest possible power setting to reduce their signature and possible interference on the platoon net.

The move-set method can be used to control bounding overwatch within the scout section regardless of the platoon organization. When terrain permits sections to be mutually supporting (such as in desert terrain) and other METT-TC factors are favorable, the platoon leader can use this technique to control bounding (by sections). In such a situation, the sections would not be operating independently, but rather would be directly controlled, and their movement coordinated, by the platoon leader.


Sound tactical movement is the essence of all scout platoon operations. Effectively employed, the guidelines in this section can help scouts to see the enemy first and observe him undetected. The scouts are then able to achieve a number of tactical goals: retain the initiative, bring indirect fire to bear on the enemy, help larger units to maneuver and destroy the enemy, and if necessary, use direct fire to kill the enemy.


Terrain offers natural concealment from enemy observation and cover from enemy fire. Scouts must make maximum use of this natural protection to survive and accomplish their mission; avoiding enemy detection is the key. Cover should be used whenever possible. When no cover is available, however, scouts should use the concealment offered by trees, shadows, brush, and man-made structures (see Figure 8-21). The crest drills illustrated in Figures 8-22 and 8-23 are examples of using the terrain to protect the vehicle from enemy observation during movement.

Figure 8-21. Use of natural concealment.

Figure 8-22. Dismounted crest drill.

Figure 8-23. Mounted crest drill.

During mounted or dismounted movement, individual vehicles and personnel should avoid becoming silhouetted against a skyline. In addition, they should never move directly forward from a defilade position. Direct forward movement may enable the enemy to pinpoint the vehicle and engage it as it moves. Instead, vehicles should back up and move left or right around the previous position to get to the next position.

Despite its obvious advantage, movement along covered and concealed routes can present disadvantages that should be considered. Speed is often reduced, and control problems increase. The possibility of being ambushed by enemy infantry increases. In most situations, these limitations must be accepted because the accuracy and lethality of long-range weapons have made exposed movement too dangerous. The platoon leader must be careful to balance his need for security with his ability to conduct required observation and reconnaissance.


Scouts must be prepared to take necessary precautions when they encounter danger areas. Based on his own terrain analysis and the IPB products he has, the scout platoon leader must consider where enemy reconnaissance assets will be focused and determine their fields of observation. The platoon leader can then avoid movement through these areas. In addition, scouts should combine proper terrain driving techniques with carefully selected routes to maximize security.

The scout platoon should stop short of danger areas and use dismounted scouts to reconnoiter them. For example, when it encounters an open area, the platoon should send dismounts to a concealed position where they can observe the area. From that position, scouts should carefully check the other side of the open area for enemy positions. The scout must then cross the open area quickly, using overwatch and following the folds in the terrain. (NOTE: Refer to the discussion of danger areas in Section 7 of this chapter.)


METT-TC factors require scouts to dismount to enhance survivability and mission accomplishment. Vehicles are easily identified because of their signatures; vehicles that can be seen can be killed. Conversely, dismounted patrols and OPs are very difficult to detect. Scouts should dismount their vehicles and use binoculars whenever enemy contact is possible and vehicle movement is not necessary.

As an example, during reconnaissance operations forward of a main body, scouts should dismount beyond the direct-fire range of suspected enemy positions and weapon systems. Dismounted scouts can then precede their vehicles using the cover and concealment of a dismounted avenue adjacent to the mounted route. Additionally, dismounts can occupy dismounted OPs while leaving the vehicles in a hide or overwatch position. These basic actions enable the dismounted scouts to provide critical information to the commander while enhancing the unitís survivability and its ability to perform later missions.


The major signatures emitted by the scout platform (audible, thermal, visual) can be reduced. Audible signature can be reduced simply by shutting off the vehicle and related systems, such as heaters or thermal sights, whenever the vehicle is not moving or the system is not needed. The visual and thermal signatures can be reduced in numerous ways:


During the execution of reconnaissance and security missions, scouts will encounter specific types of terrain or features that expose them to enemy fire. Known as danger areas, these are likely points of enemy contact due both to the scoutsí vulnerability and to the cover, concealment, and observation these sites afford to the enemy. Danger areas should be identified and highlighted when the platoon leader performs his map reconnaissance during troop-leading procedures. Once these areas are identified, the scout can employ specific reconnaissance methods and movement techniques to move through them quickly and with maximum security.


Open areas frequently afford the scout the opportunity to observe the enemy from long ranges. Conversely, they often require that the scout be exposed to possible enemy observation and fire for long periods of movement. Therefore, the platoon must make maximum use of the terrain and employ effective observation techniques to avoid exposing itself to a well-concealed and camouflaged enemy.

Before moving across a large open area, the scout platoon must make a thorough visual scan of the area. This should be done both dismounted and mounted, using all available optics. This scan focuses not only on finding potential enemy positions, but also on locating covered and concealed routes for bounding and a covered and concealed position to which the unit can move. If time and terrain permit, dismounted scouts may be used to move to the far side of the open area and secure it. In very large open areas, use of dismounts may not be feasible because of the distances between covered and concealed positions.

Once the area has been cleared using visual means and/or dismounts, the scouts move across it. They use bounding overwatch because of the likelihood of enemy contact. If the open area is very large, the overwatch vehicle should only remain stationary until the bounding vehicle has moved a distance equal to half the effective range of the overwatching vehicleís weapon system. When that point is reached, the overwatch vehicle must move out, even if the bounding vehicle has not yet reached a position of cover and concealment.

When moving across large open areas with limited cover and concealment, the scouts should consider the use of reconnaissance by indirect or direct fire to provide additional security as they move. Additionally, indirect fire can provide concealment, with smoke either used alone or mixed with suppressive fires. However, using smoke is feasible only for limited periods because of Class V supply restrictions on supporting mortar or artillery units.


Wooded areas provide a high degree of concealment to forces that occupy them, particularly infantry. They must be approached and moved through with extreme caution. Visibility within wooded areas is very limited; therefore, reconnaissance is confined primarily to trafficable routes and trails through the forest. In densely wooded areas, mounted scouts are extremely vulnerable to dismounted enemy forces that can close on them undetected.

Scouts should use available terrain to scan the wooded area before entering. They should search for movement, reflections, smoke, and any irregular shapes or colors indicating camouflage. Whenever possible, the entire wood line should be reconnoitered with dismounts prior to mounted movement to the wooded area.

The scouts should move mounted to the wooded area using bounding overwatch. Once the vehicles are set inside the wood line (approximately 100 to 200 meters), engines are shut off, dismounted security maintained, and a listening/security halt conducted. Crewmen who have CVCs remove them. Radio speakers are turned off. The halt should last approximately one to two minutes, with 360-degree security maintained throughout. These halts must be conducted at regular intervals while moving through the wooded area (approximately every kilometer).

During movement through a wooded area, scouts should move using traveling overwatch. This technique is appropriate because of the extremely short fields of view and the danger of dismounted ambush. Scout vehicles are most vulnerable in wooded areas when they are stopped, so halts should be kept to a minimum. Exposed scouts should maintain minimum silhouette in their vehicles because of the danger from close-in snipers and ambush.

Scouts may encounter small clearings, buildings, or hills while moving through a wooded area. Each must be treated as a separate task. Small clearings may require crossing in the same manner as a large open area. Isolated buildings must be checked by dismounted scouts. Hills and curves must be approached cautiously; any dead space must be cleared by dismounted scouts.

Before leaving a wooded area, scouts must clear the open area to the front. They stop inside the wood line (ensuring they are still within the shadow line of the woods). Engines are turned off, and dismounted scouts move to the edge of the wooded area to observe. If the area is determined to be clear, vehicles are brought forward to observation positions. As the dismounts remount, the vehicles use their optics to again visually clear the open area. Once this is completed, the scouts resume movement using their chosen movement technique.


Built-up areas, including towns and villages, pose many potential dangers for the scout platoon. Troops can be garrisoned in villages, snipers can dominate approaches, and buildings and roads can be mined and booby-trapped. Cover and concealment are abundant, and it is easy for the enemy to remain undetected until he is at very close range. Built-up areas are ideal for effective ambush by small numbers of infantry. Whenever possible, scouts should reconnoiter built-up areas from a distance and then bypass them. Detailed reconnaissance of built-up areas is beyond the capability of the scout platoon.

Sometimes, however, scouts may be required to execute a hasty reconnaissance of a town or village. They must always remember that this is a very dangerous task, especially if the enemy is occupying the built-up area in strength, and take steps to counter the dangers. Scouts should observe the town from a distance. They look for movement and evidence of enemy occupation, including track marks on pavement; lack of civilian activity; and sandbags, stakes, timber, intentional building damage, or any other sign of prepared fighting positions and obstacles.

The scouts should attempt to observe the area from multiple vantage points. If the area appears clear, scouts move through it using traveling overwatch, ensuring that vehicles remain in mutual support and maintain 360-degree security. A listening/security halt should be conducted just inside the edge of the built-up area and periodically thereafter.

Once in the town, all scouts must be alert to additional signs of enemy activity, including tactical markings or signaling devices, antennas, spent shell casings and pyrotechnics, and damage to buildings and streets. Dismounts can be used to clear major intersections and provide security during halts. The scouts do not have the manpower or time to clear buildings, but they can be employed dismounted for limited search and secure tasks as needed to support the movement of the mounted element or a particular reconnaissance mission. Vehicle-mounted crews must reduce their silhouette to a minimum when moving through a town.

As they approach the far side of the built-up area, the scouts should stop short and move dismounts to the edge of town. The dismounts will secure the local area and observe the open area beyond the town. When this has been completed, the vehicles will come forward and continue to observe from covered and concealed positions while the dismounted elements remount. The scouts are prepared to continue its mission.


As scouts execute reconnaissance and security missions, they will encounter routes or mobility corridors that provide access into the area between the scouts and friendly elements to their rear. These lateral corridors pose a security threat to both the scouts and the other friendly elements.

It is critical that the scouts maintain continuous surveillance of these mobility corridors to provide security against enemy forces that move into the sector after the scout platoon has moved on. This is especially important when the scouts are moving through an enemy security area where enemy forces are likely to move in response to friendly activity, when the scouts expect to encounter a moving enemy force, or in a meeting battle situation.

To maintain surveillance, the platoon can use outposting to maximize the reconnaissance effort forward. This security technique involves the use of short-duration OPs consisting of two soldiers with equipment. A scout section or squad should deploy an outpost when it is at risk of losing observation on a possible enemy approach route that no other element can cover. Once deployed, the outpost maintains surveillance of the avenue of approach until the rest of the scout element returns. In doing so, the outpost can provide security through early warning of enemy activity that the mounted element would not have detected.


When scouts encounter enemy forces during a reconnaissance or security mission, they must quickly execute actions on contact. Whether they remain undetected or are identified by the enemy, the scouts must first take measures to protect themselves, find out what they are up against, and then decide on a COA. To properly execute actions on contact, scout must take action consistent with the following fundamentals of reconnaissance.


In all types of operations, contact occurs when an individual soldier, squad, or section of the scout platoon encounters any situation that requires an active or passive response to the enemy. These situations may entail one or more of the following forms of contact:


The commander should specify actions on contact for the scout platoon. These specific instructions should include engagement criteria and the desired COA, based on the size and activity of the enemy force encountered. By knowing these details ahead of time, the scout can develop the situation more rapidly and arrive at and execute the desired COA. The platoon should strive to make contact with the smallest possible element: the dismounted scout. Visual contact, in which the enemy is observed but the scout remains undetected, is the goal. This gives the platoon the greatest possible flexibility to maneuver and develop the situation.

The steps that make up actions on contact must be thoroughly trained and rehearsed so that the platoon can react instinctively as a team whenever it encounters enemy forces. The four steps, which are executed to allow the platoon to accomplish its mission in accordance with reconnaissance fundamentals, are the following:

Step 1 - Deploy and report

When a scout makes contact with the enemy, he reacts according to the circumstances of the contact. (NOTE: Refer to the seven general categories of contact discussed earlier in this section.) The scout section or squad that makes initial visual contact with the enemy deploys to covered terrain that affords good observation and fields of fire. If the scouts receive fire from the enemy, they return fire.

The scout in contact sends a contact report (see FKSM 17-98-3) to the platoon leader and follows as soon as possible with a spot report using the SALUTE format (size, activity, location, unit identification, time, and equipment). If the scout in contact is unable to report or cannot report quickly, another squad in the section must report.

The scouts that are not in contact temporarily halt in covered terrain, monitor the incoming reports, and plot the situation on their maps. Once they determine that they cannot be influenced by the enemy in contact, they continue their mission with the platoon leaderís approval. The platoon leader or PSG relays the contact report to the commander, followed as soon as possible by a spot report and updates.

Step 2 - Evaluate and develop the situation

The scouts next concentrate on defining what they are up against. If they have not sent a spot report to this point, they initially focus on getting enough information to send one. If they have not been detected by the enemy and time is available, the scouts reconnoiter the enemy position, emphasizing stealth and dismounted reconnaissance.

If the enemy is aware of their presence, the scouts use a combination of mounted and dismounted reconnaissance, as well as reconnaissance by fire. Dismounted reconnaissance will be conducted to get detailed information on enemy dispositions. Mounted reconnaissance will be used to move additional assets into the area to support the scout element in contact.

Indirect and direct fires are used to suppress the enemy while scouts maneuver to get information. The scouts attempt to confirm or determine in detail enemy size, composition, activity, orientation, and weapon system locations. They search for AT ditches, minefields, wire, or other obstacles that could force friendly forces into a fire sack. Scouts find the flanks of the enemy position and look for other enemy elements that could provide mutual support to the position. Once the scouts determine what they are up against, they update their spot report.

Step 3 - Choose a course of action

Once the element in contact has developed the situation and the platoon leader has enough information to make a decision, he selects a COA that is within the capabilities of the platoon, that allows the scouts to continue the reconnaissance as quickly as possible, and that supports the commanderís concept of the operation. He considers various possible COAs, including the six discussed in the following paragraphs.

Disengage from enemy contact. The scout platoon cannot conduct its mission if it becomes decisively engaged by the enemy. Should the platoon become decisively engaged, it must have a plan on how to break contact with the enemy. As a general rule, the platoon, section, or squad should disengage from the enemy as early in the contact as possible. This will allow for continuation of the mission and reduce the chance of any loss of combat power.

At platoon level, OPs gain contact with the enemy main body, then report and prepare to displace to successive positions. The platoon members occupying the OPs should report the enemy contact to the overwatching vehicles and to the platoon leader, requesting permission to return to the vehicles. When permission has been granted, they use covered and concealed routes back to the vehicle positions and remount the vehicles.

When the enemy force reaches the OPsí break point (the point at which the OPs must displace or risk detection and/or engagement by the enemy), the OPs pass off responsibility for tracking the enemy to other OPs in depth. The platoon then displaces its OPs to successive positions in depth while maintaining contact with the enemy.

Once the initial contact has been reported to higher headquarters and the order to break contact has been given, disengagement should be executed with one section or squad acting as overwatch for the displacing section/squad as it moves. The section or squad that moves first will keep its weapon systems oriented on the enemy as it uses covered and concealed routes to move to a designated rally point that precludes enemy observation and provides cover and concealment. This element may also use on-board smoke generators or smoke grenades to cover its movement. The overwatching section/squad provides suppressive fires, both direct and indirect, to cover the movement of the displacing section/squad.

Once the displacing section/squad has arrived at the rally point, it takes up defensive positions and reports its arrival to the overwatch section/squad. The overwatching element then calls for protective fires and uses an alternate covered and concealed route to move to the rally point. When the entire platoon or section has moved back to the rally point, it consolidates and reorganizes, reports its status to the higher headquarters, and continues the mission. Figure 8-24 illustrates a situation in which the scout platoon breaks contact by sections.

Figure 8-24. Platoon conducting disengagement by section.

Break contact and bypass. This COA may be selected when the scout platoon does not have the resources to leave an element in contact and still continue to accomplish its priority reconnaissance tasks. It may also be selected when the platoon has made contact with an enemy force that cannot adversely affect the mission of the scoutsí higher headquarters. Because breaking contact is a violation of reconnaissance fundamentals, the scout must be sure that his higher headquarters is informed of and approves this COA.

Maintain contact and bypass. This COA is appropriate when an enemy force, based on its current disposition, is not in a position to influence the scoutís higher commander. An element (normally a section or squad) will be left to maintain contact while the rest of the platoon continues the reconnaissance mission. The element that remains in contact will maintain visual contact with the enemy and report if the enemy situation changes. The platoon must keep scouts in contact with the enemy unless specifically authorized to do otherwise.

Maintain contact to support a hasty attack. This COA is appropriate when the scouts discover enemy elements the higher commander wants to destroy, but which the scouts cannot destroy, either because they lack sufficient combat power or because they have other tasks to perform. In this situation, the scouts maintain contact by leaving a section or squad in contact. The rest of the platoon continues on to accomplish its other reconnaissance tasks while monitoring any changes in the enemy situation and supporting the hasty attack by a friendly unit.

The platoon focuses on requirements for a successful friendly attack, including the following:

It is essential that the section or squad left in contact understand what needs to be accomplished, who will be executing the attack, and when the friendly unit anticipates being in position to receive handoff of the enemy. As the unit responsible for the attack moves into position, the scouts in contact may rejoin the platoon or be placed OPCON to the attacking unit to ease command, control, and coordination.

Conduct a hasty attack. In most cases, the scouts cannot, or should not, mass their combat power to defeat an enemy force. If the scouts concentrate, they risk losing the capability to complete their mission as well as jeopardizing their ability to conduct subsequent missions. If the scouts are permitted to attack an enemy, they should only attack lightly armored or unarmored reconnaissance vehicles, such as motorcycles or Soviet-style BRDMs and BTRs. They should avoid attacking more heavily armored vehicles except in self-defense.

Establish a hasty defense. The platoon will establish a hasty defense if it cannot bypass the enemy, all the sections and/or squads are fixed or suppressed, and the platoon no longer has the ability to move forward. A hasty defense will also be used when the enemy executes a hasty attack. The platoon maintains contact or fixes the enemy in place until additional combat power arrives or the platoon is ordered to move. If the scout platoon is required to conduct a hasty defense, the commander then becomes responsible for continuing to develop the situation.

Step 4 - Execute a course of action

The platoon leader updates his spot report to the commander with any new information and then recommends a COA to the commander. The commander approves or disapproves the recommended COA based on how it will affect the parent unitís mission.

If the commander and the S2 have anticipated the enemy situation the scout platoon is reporting, they will already have addressed the contingency in the OPORD and given guidance to their subordinates on what COA the scout platoon should execute. In such a case, the scout platoon leader can evaluate the situation, choose a COA consistent with his higher commanderís intent or concept, and execute it without further guidance. He keeps the commander informed of what he is doing as he executes the COA.


The following examples illustrate actions on contact in a variety of tactical situations. They are organized using the four-step process.

Actions on contact with an unknown or superior force

Deploy and report. The scouts make contact as the lead scout vehicle is engaged. The lead scout and the overwatch see the signature of the enemy weapon system; since they do not have a clear idea of the size of the enemy, they react as if it were a superior force. Simultaneously, the lead scout returns fire, sends a contact report, pops smoke grenades, and moves to the nearest hide position. The overwatch vehicle also engages the source of enemy fire and monitors to ensure the contact report is sent. As soon as the lead vehicle is in a covered and concealed position, the overwatch vehicle moves to an alternate firing position and occupies a hide position.

As soon as they reach cover and concealment, both vehicles send out dismounted elements, which quickly establish a hasty OP to regain or maintain contact with the source of enemy fire. The scout leader follows up on the contact report with an initial spot report. This initial report may not be very detailed, but it will include a description of what happened and the approximate location of the enemy.

Evaluate and develop the situation. Once the scout section or squad is set in cover and concealment and has submitted its initial reports, it must develop the situation. The objective is to determine exactly what the enemy situation is by dismounted reconnaissance. This can best be done by moving to the enemyís flank or rear. The section/squad leader organizes a hasty reconnaissance patrol that will attempt to move to the flank or rear of the enemy and observe the enemy position. Simultaneously, the section or squad maintains at least one hasty OP in contact with the enemy. As the dismounted element maneuvers, it is supported by direct fire from the scout vehicles, by indirect fire called for by the OP, or by both. These fires serve to suppress the enemy, reducing his ability to observe the scouts; they also fix the enemyís attention on the last known location of the mounted element.

In the course of attempting to develop the situation, the section or squad may determine that it is unable to determine the exact enemy situation for a number of possible reasons: suppressive fires by the enemy; obstacles; combat losses; or the size and extent of the enemy position. This information is sent to the platoon leader as soon as possible in the form of updates to the original spot report.

If this occurs, the platoon leader must decide whether to commit additional platoon assets to the contact to develop it further or to adopt a COA based on the information he has discovered to that point. If the platoon leader determines he needs more information, he must commit additional assets (scout sections or squads) to develop the situation further. The earlier in the contact that the platoon leader can make this decision the better; however, he must not commit unneeded resources to an action that will detract from other reconnaissance tasks.

If he decides additional assets are required, the platoon leader then orders other sections or squads not in contact to move to specific locations and assist in developing the situation. As more than one section or squad becomes involved in the situation, the platoon leader or PSG (whoever is in the best location to do so) takes control of coordinating their efforts. The elements conduct mounted movement to designated dismount points, where they organize dismounted patrols to develop the situation from a new direction. As these patrols discover the enemy and add additional information to the platoon leaderís picture, the platoon leader may determine he has sufficient information to choose and execute a COA or to make a recommendation to his commander.

Choose a course of action. Based on the available information and his commanderís intent and guidance, the platoon leader determines to leave one section in contact to support a hasty attack by a supporting tank platoon. His other sections continue their reconnaissance mission.

Execute a course of action. In this example, because the commander had specifically addressed the contingency the scout platoon has developed, the platoon leader neither makes a recommendation to his commander nor asks his permission to execute the COA. Instead, the platoon leader immediately issues orders to his sections and contacts the tank platoon leader to initiate coordination for handover of the enemy and support of the tank platoonís hasty attack. He keeps the commander informed of his actions.

Actions on contact with an inferior force

Deploy and report. The lead scout element (section or squad) identifies an enemy element, which consists of one reconnaissance vehicle. In the commanderís order, the section or squad was tasked to destroy all wheeled reconnaissance patrols. The section/squad leader sends a contact report and quickly engages and destroys the enemy vehicle. After the engagement is complete, he sends an initial spot report.

Evaluate and develop the situation. Both the lead vehicle and the overwatch element occupy positions that allow them to observe the destroyed vehicle. They look for any other signs of enemy activity or any enemy response to the destruction of the vehicle. The lead vehicle then bounds past the destroyed vehicle and establishes far-side security. Once far-side security is established, a dismounted element moves to the destroyed vehicle and conducts a thorough search for prisoners, items of intelligence value, and any other information that can be gained from a close examination of the enemy. When this reconnaissance is complete, the section or squad sends an updated report to higher headquarters.

Choose a course of action. When engagement is complete and the enemy is destroyed, the COA is obvious: the section or squad will continue its mission.

Execute a course of action. Since the destruction of the enemy is in accordance with the commanderís order, the section/squad leader simply informs higher headquarters that he is continuing the mission.

Actions on visual contact (undetected contact)

Deploy and report. A scout section or squad makes contact when its dismounted element identifies an enemy force. It immediately sends a contact report informing higher headquarters that it has made visual contact with the enemy but is not being engaged. This report is quickly followed by an initial spot report.

Evaluate and develop the situation. Based on the initial spot report of the scout section or squad in contact, the platoon leader determines that he has located his primary reconnaissance objective; he orders additional sections or squads to maneuver into the area. These scout elements move to dismount points, set their vehicles in hide positions, and send dismounted patrols from different directions into the area of contact.

The patrols move to multiple vantage points using dismounted reconnaissance techniques, with the emphasis on avoiding detection. They send spot reports to the platoon leader with new information as it is determined. The platoon leader moves his element to a covered and concealed hide position where he can maintain effective communications with both subordinate elements and higher headquarters. From this position, he establishes local security (a hasty OP) and monitors and controls the efforts of his sections or squads.

Choose a course of action. When the platoon leader receives sufficient reports to have a clear picture of the situation, he chooses to prepare to support a hasty attack. This choice is made because the platoon leader determines that the force he has located is the objective of his commander; therefore, this COA is in accordance with his commanderís intent.

Execute a course of action. The platoon leader issues appropriate orders directing his subordinates to prepare to support the hasty attack. He continues to inform his commander of the enemy situation and the platoonís actions.


To ensure they and their parent unit receive the full benefit of indirect fire support during tactical operations, scouts must know how to call for and adjust these fires effectively. Refer to FM 6-30 for additional information on the call for fire process. The discussion of indirect fire support in Chapter 6 of this manual covers related subjects, including mortar and FA assets, fire direction assets, fire request channels, and fire planning procedures.


The standard call for fire consists of three basic transmissions, consisting of six elements as follows:

Observer identification and warning order

The observer identification tells the FDC who is calling. It also clears the net for the rest of the call. The warning order tells the FDC the type of fire support mission and the method of locating the target. The types of missions are the following:

Target location

Following the type of mission, the method of target location is announced; this prepares the FDC to receive the data sent by the observer and apply it to locate the target. The three methods for locating targets are grid, polar plot, and shift from a known point. Only the polar plot and shift methods are initially announced to the FDC. If the observer does not specify either polar or shift, the FDC knows the grid method is being used; the word "grid" is not announced in the initial transmission. Example: "H24--THIS IS H67--FIRE FOR EFFECT--POLAR--OVER." (NOTE: The word "grid" is announced at the beginning of a subsequent transmission calling for an adjustment of fires. Example: "H24--THIS IS H67--ADJUST FIRE GRID 123445--OVER.")

Grid method. When using the grid method, the target location is normally sent in six digits (example: "180739"). The direction from the observer to the target (in mils, if possible) must be given to the FDC after the call for fire, but before the first adjusting rounds are shot.

Polar plot method. This method requires that the observer and the FDC know the observerís exact location. The observer determines the direction (to the nearest 10 mils) of the observer-target (OT) line and the distance (to the nearest 100 meters) from his position to the target.

Shift from a known point method. This method can be used if the observer and the FDC have a common known point. This point must have been previously established as an artillery target. To locate the target, the observer must first determine the direction to the nearest 10 mils. If the observer has no compass, he can determine the direction by using a map and protractor or by using his binocular reticle pattern and a known direction to the known point. He should remember to apply the RALS rule (right add, left subtract) in determining direction to the target.

The observer then determines the lateral and range shifts. Lateral shifts are left or right from the known point to the OT line and are given to the nearest 10 meters. Range shifts are given as "ADD" (when the target is beyond the known point) or "DROP" (when the target is closer than the known point). Range shifts are given to the nearest 100 meters. FM 6-30 explains in detail how to determine the lateral and range shifts.

Description of target, method of engagement, and method of fire and control

The observer includes these elements in his call for fire using the guidelines discussed in the following paragraphs.

Description of target. The observer describes the target to the FDC. The FDC then determines the type and amount of ammunition needed. The target description should be brief yet accurate. This is the last required element in the call for fire.

Method of engagement. The observer specifies how he wants to attack the target (type of ammunition, fuze, distance from friendly troops). The FDC may change the ammunition type and/or fuze based on ammunition constraints. If the target is within 600 meters of friendly troops, the observer announces "DANGER CLOSE" to supporting mortars and artillery. When "DANGER CLOSE" is called, the initial rounds in adjustment should use a delay fuze.

Method of fire and control. The observer states who will give the command for fire to begin. If the observer wants to control the time of firing, he will say, "AT MY COMMAND." The FDC will tell the observer when the unit is ready to fire. At the proper time, the observer will say, "FIRE." If the observer does not say, "AT MY COMMAND," the FDC will fire as soon as the platoon/battery is ready.


Once the call for fire has been made, the observerís next concern is to ensure that the fire hits the target. If he can locate the target accurately, he will request fire for effect in his call for fire. When the observer cannot accurately locate the target for any reason (such as deceptive terrain, lack of identifiable terrain features, poor visibility, or an inaccurate map), he must conduct an adjustment to get the fire on target. Normally, one artillery piece or mortar is used in adjustment.

The observer must first pick an adjusting point. For a destruction mission (precision fire), the target is the adjusting point. For an area target (area fire), the observer must pick a well-defined adjusting point at the center of the area or close to it. The observer must spot the first adjusting round and each successive round and send range and deviation corrections, as required, back to the FDC until fire hits the target. The observer spots by relating the burst or group of bursts to the adjusting point. For a further discussion of adjusting mortar and artillery fire, see FM 6-30.

Deviation spotting

As applied to deviation (left or right), spotting involves measuring the horizontal angle (in mils) between the burst and the adjusting point. An angle-measuring device or technique, such as the mil scale on the reticle of military binoculars or the hand-and-fingers method, is required to determine deviation.

A burst to the right (or left) of the target is spotted as "(number) MILS RIGHT (LEFT)." A burst on the OT line is spotted as "LINE." Deviation to the left or right should be measured to the nearest 5 mils for area targets, with measurements taken from the center of the burst. Deviation for a destruction mission (precision fire) is estimated to the nearest mil.

Deviation correction

Once the mil deviation has been determined, the observer must convert it into a deviation correction (in meters). Deviation correction is the distance in meters the burst must be moved to be on line between observer and target. It is sent, with the range correction, to the FDC for the next adjusting round or when calling for fire for effect.

Deviation correction is determined by multiplying the observed deviation in mils by the distance from the observer to the target in thousands of meters. This distance is expressed as the OT factor (see Figure 8-25). The correction is expressed to the nearest 10 meters (see Figure 8-26).

Figure 8-25. Determining the OT factor.

Figure 8-26. Converting mil deviation to deviation correction.

Minor deviation corrections (10 to 20 meters) are necessary in adjustment of precision fire. In adjustment of area fire, however, small deviation corrections (20 meters or less) should be ignored except when such a small change is necessary to determine a definite range spotting. Throughout the adjustment, the observer should move the adjusting rounds close enough to the OT line so that range spotting can be made accurately.

Range spotting

As applied to range (short or over), spotting is required to make adjustments to place fire on the target. Transmissions for range spotting use the following terminology:

Any range spotting other than "DOUBTFUL" or "LOST" is definite. Usually, an adjusting roundís burst that is on or near the OT line will give a definite range spotting. The observer can make a definite range spotting even when the burst is not on or near the OT line. He uses his knowledge of the terrain or wind and observes debris scattered by the explosion. However, if the observer is not sure ("DOUBTFUL"), the correction he sends to the FDC should be for deviation ("LEFT" or "RIGHT") only. This is done to bring the burst on line to get a definite range spotting ("OVER, " "SHORT, " or "TARGET").

Range correction

Bracketing. The observer gives range corrections so that, with each successive correction, the adjusting round intentionally lands over or short of the adjusting point, closing on the target. Fire for effect is called for when a range correction would bring the next round within 50 meters of the adjusting point. This technique is called bracketing (see Figure 8-27).

Figure 8-27. Bracketing

Bracketing is a safe technique in that it is sure to bring fire on the target. Time is important, especially when targets are moving or may move to seek cover when they find fire coming their way. Accurate initial location information speeds adjustment and makes the requested fire more effective. To shorten adjustment time, the observer should try to bracket the target quickly (in the first two or three adjusting rounds), then try to adjust on the target with as few subsequent rounds as possible.

Hasty bracketing. Experience has shown that effectiveness on the target decreases as the number of rounds used in adjustment increases. An alternative to successive bracketing is hasty bracketing. While successive bracketing mathematically ensures that the fire-for-effect rounds will strike within 50 meters of the adjusting point, it is a slow and unresponsive technique. Therefore, if the nature of the target dictates that effective fires are needed faster than successive bracketing can provide them, hasty bracketing should be used.

The success of hasty bracketing depends on a thorough terrain analysis that gives the observer an accurate initial target location. The observer obtains a bracket on his first correction in a manner similar to that used for successive bracketing. Once the observer has this initial bracket, he uses it as a yardstick to determine his subsequent correction. He then sends the FDC the correction to move the rounds to the target and fire for effect. Hasty bracketing improves as the observer gains experience and judgment. Every observer must strive to improve his abilities and increase his responsiveness on the battlefield.

Creeping. The creeping method of adjustment is used in "DANGER CLOSE" situations. Here, the initial round is fired beyond the target. Adjusting rounds are brought in 100 meters or less until the target is engaged. This method is slow and tends to use more ammunition than other adjustments; therefore, it should be used only when soldier safety is a major concern.


The observer should note the results of the fire for effect and then take whatever action is necessary to complete the mission. Figure 8-28 shows the observerís actions after the fire-for-effect rounds have been fired.

Figure 8-28. Observer's actions after fire for effect.