When Stopping on Patrol

No one patrol consists of a straight-ahead walk with no pauses or stops. Sometimes the stop is momentary, to organize a crossing of a danger area or mount a leaders’ recon. (A well trained unit has these procedures embedded in SOP and there’s no thinking, planning, or orders required, while the patrol is underway). Sometimes the stop is more deliberate — you are nearing an objective, or stopping to rest, or reorganize, or stopping overnight.

If you are stopping deliberately, by US doctrine you are “establishing a patrol base.” This PB can be simple and momentary, or it can endure for some time and evolve into a mission support site, advanced operations base, combat outpost, or forward operations base. (Although doctrine says it’s not a patrol base if you hold it more than 24 hours). But we’ll confine ourselves to the initial establishment of the patrol in the halt as a patrol base.

Selecting the Patrol Base

There’s no way to learn to select a patrol base from a book, or a blog post. You need to think about a position that is at once defensible, but at the same time not so obvious as to beg for recon by fire. It should provide observation and fields of fire back in the direction you came from (in case you’re being tracked), and in the most probable direction of the enemy. It should not be athwart or adjacent to a high-speed avenue of approach.

It should be as concealed from the likely enemy observation means as possible, with enough room in concealment for everybody in the patrol, but they should still be very compact. (Again, how much you tighten up in the patrol base depends on the threat posture. Big danger is enemy recon seeing you? Get small. Big danger is enemy artillery or air? Get some space between your guys).

In short, the patrol base location is any place where your patrol can hide for a bit, without it being obvious or logical to an enemy that someone might be hiding there.

Occupying the Patrol Base

Book doctrine conflicts, at times, with practical doctrine on this. The book says you always secure the patrol base prior to occupying it, for example, by observing it and covering it with fire, and conducting a recon around the area. With small patrols, it may be most practical to secure the base by occupation — in other words, walk right in. Then conduct your perimeter recon.

Pass by the tentative patrol base location and hook back into it. Some call this a fishook or buttonhook maneuver. Why do you do this? If an enemy is following you, you want to drag him past your PB’s fields of observation and fire, mentioned above, which are set up to ambush your own backtrail. When you branch off to go into the patrol base location, at least temporarily place a listening post/observation post at the branch post (you will likely reposition the LP/OP later).

As the point man moves into the base, direction of movement is called 12 o’clock. The patrol leader drops off at 6 and then describes where in the patrol base perimeter each subordinate element (each guy, in a squad patrol; each platoon, in a company patrol) will be positioned. Each crew-served weapon is positioned individually. (Crew-served weapons guard the most probable and fastest routes of enemy approach). The PL walks (or crawls) the perimeter and assigns sectors to crew-serveds and subordinate leaders, who assign sectors to their subordinates in turn. The PL also assigns an initial rally point. Initially, the patrol remains on 100% security and treats the PB as a listening/security halt.

The headquarters of the patrol (in a small patrol base, this may just be one or two men) is positioned at the geometric center of the patrol base, which is usually circular or elliptic (it may resemble a football, in planform).

The perimeter recon ensures that you didn’t put your six-man recon element downhill from a sleeping enemy regiment (laugh if you want, it has really happened!) and ensures there isn’t some threat, obstacle, or high-speed avenue of approach that was just out of sight prior to occupation. The PL needs to be ready to pack up (figuratively; no one unpacks, and the team remains at 100% security, while the recon is out) and move if the recon brings back bad news.

Ensconcing these procedures in a set of SOPs known to all hands has many benefits, including prevented wasted time standing around disseminating orders, increasing the speed of execution, and enabling rehearsed, building-block activities when the men are tired and fearful. (A little fear is a good thing, forward of friendly lines. Not enough to paralyze; just enough to heighten perceptions and put you on edge).

Patrol Base Activities

The most important patrol base activity is security. After an initial period of 100% security, the PL may allow a reduction in security. While this is usually expressed as a percentage, it’s really a fraction. Normally, forward of friendly lines, security levels below 50% must be approached with caution. Very small units in a clandestine patrol base (4-6 men, see below) can go to just one man on watch, once security is assured, because that one man can rouse the others rapidly and silently.

Apart from security, always priority one, the PL assigns priorities of work. The usual priority is:

  1. Security
  2. Equipment maintenance
  3. Foot maintenance
  4. Mission planning (selected personnel)
  5. Water (the recon teams may have found a source)
  6. Food & sanitation
  7. Rest

These priorities are not always addressed in every patrol base. They can also be addressed in depth in standard operating procedures, which minimizes time spent giving, receiving and reading back orders that are already understood.

When anyone is outside the perimeter, whether it’s your initial recon team or Joe Tentpeg seeking a tree to hang from whilst relieving himself, everyone in the perimeter must know who is out and where he is expected to be. Failure on this measure gets friendlies shot.

Sanitizing and Clearing the Patrol Base

When the patrol departs, nothing should be left behind — no equipment, no trash, no disturbance of the vegetation — to indicate that it was ever there.

Before you leave the patrol base, set a new rally point by map recon and confirm it as you move. Leave the patrol base directly, do not return on your backtrail at all. Once you have left the patrol base, never return to it. A well-resourced enemy, having discovered that you used the site, will place human or technical surveillance on the site.

Patrol Base Variations

Very small units on longer missions can set up a clandestine patrol base. In this case, a small element — a recon patrol or a very small special-purpose combat patrol like a sniper team plus security — can establish a clandestine or passive patrol base, in which all the men are tightly together, within touch, and only one remains on watch. The goal is to minimize movement and size and therefore the signature of the bedded-down patrol.

While Army doctrine sometimes teaches a different approach to the last hole-up before a combat patrol hits its objective, we have found that treating this halt, called an Objective Rally Point in Army doctrinal terminology, just like a patrol base simplifies training without compromising security.

For More Information

Here’s a link to one of the many editions of the Ranger Handbook, a generally good source of patrolling doctrine.


45 thoughts on “When Stopping on Patrol

  1. Boat Guy

    Hard lessons, learned the hard way. History probably has at least as many “Didn’t do it and paid” as “Did and continued mission”.
    Good stuff.
    For some reason I was thinking on the account of MG (then SSG) Bargewell’s layup being attacked just before dawn. They had quite a fight.

  2. "Greg"

    The snarky math whiz’s among us would like to point out that fractions and percentages are mathematically interchangable… not that such a hair-splitting criticism should succesfully detract from the overall awesomeness of the rest of the posting! ;-)

    1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

      Was wondering if anybody was going to jump on that, I always thought of them as interchangeable but My Lovely Wife is from Venezuela and significantly more educated than I and has no Idea how fractions work, she says they do everything with decimals. Might be a cultural thing but then again she has an atic full of bat guano.

      Good post, can’t have too much Ranger Handbook!
      Any of the better LRRP books, particularly Linderer’s stuff have a lot of how and why in a story format that’s more enthralling than the TMs.

      1. Hognose Post author

        I later served on a team with a guy who was a LRRP with Gary Linderer, Al Smith. Just for one training operation (my team was parted out to other ODAs that were shorthanded. Al was a team sergeant by then. The op was in Norway, on skis,so he was a long way from Vietnam).

        1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

          I’m pretty sure I’ve read and reread all his stuff which may not count for much as I’ve read “The Green Berrets” 25 plus times.

        2. Hillbilly

          Although I didn’t know it at the time I met a couple of the guys that served with LRRPS during that time period.
          One of them was a team mates’ father who I had actually talked to quite a bit and even been to his house and the other was a very senior WO.
          The worst part is that I only realized this upon re-reading one of the Linderer books about 3 months ago, it would of been nice to acknowledge what they had done.

        3. John Distai

          Are LRRP’s Special Forces trained? I had a neat book about them when I was younger, but I don’t recall if they had any particularly special schooling. Do you have any more info?

          1. "Greg"

            There are several commenters here who have “BTDT” (been there, done that) and from first hand experience might say “yeah, back in 1964 we did it *this* way…” and then there are others (such as myself) who might say “I read it in…” and since no one else has replied… I don’t remember *where* I read it, but I want to say LRRP was similar to a SOF unit, but it was put together more or less on the spot and would accept non ranger trained volunteers although the mission profiles would certainly match up with Ranger capabilities today. So as such LRRP volunteers might have never attended a day of SFAS or Ranger school, although some LRRP veterans might later have served as instructos years after the vietnam era.

            There is tons of interesting reading out there. One interesting aspect is that over the years, both school curriculm and the schools themselves have altered, evolved, established, dis-established and/or been disbanded altogether, only to be hastily re-established when it was over abundantly obvious that closing said school had been a mistake!

            As for me, I marvel how a mathematical comment has switched into a mini LRRP discussion!

          2. Hognose Post author

            That’s pretty good actually. Incidentally, those volunteers that served in LRRP units in Vietnam were subsequently granted the Ranger tab, based on their combat experience.

          3. Hognose Post author

            No, LRRPs (later reestablished as LRSUs, and later, re-disbanded) are infantry-trained dismounted reconnaissance experts.

    2. RSR

      “fractions and percentages are mathematically interchangable” — yes, but fractions are a percentage of whole numbers. 50% on an 8 man patrol would be 4. 55% on an 8 man patrol would be 4.4 men. To achieve a whole number @ 55%, you’d have to have a unit of at least 20, etc math depending on percentage used…

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  4. looserounds.com

    The rally point is a place every one meets if they get split up during a engagement ?
    How is that selected? Is it just something on a map that is defensible and easy to find or just something like “run 300 yards that way” ? Is there some breaking contact drill execute after contact before going to the rallying point ? or does everyone stay in the place and try to win the firefight unless they are almost over run and have to go to a rally point?

    How is this kinda thing done in mountain terrain?

    how do you assign a sector for field of fire? Is it something you look for , or just some one only shoots into a zone that with limits on each side so as not to cross fire into another part of the perimeter?

    During the recon around the PB , if those guys make contact is the mission off at that point?

    I have read in a few SOG books that some teams didnt have anyone on watch at night,m the idea being everyone would be too nervous to sleep soundly and would wake up at the slightest noise etc. Plaster said he did this on his teams, Along with using the side of a mountain below grenade range but high enough to hear anyone on the military crest. Is this something different than the situation discussed?
    I know I ask too much

    1. Badger

      There really is a benefit to one having a Ranger Handbook around. It’s a great addition to your library. I’m not one & don’t play one on TV but if I had to be away for awhile it’s one of the first books I’d grab.

      The very specific situations MAJ Plaster writes of are just that (even though he also broke a few “rules” himself if one takes some of the patrol tips issued at the time by Project B-52 as gospel). I suspect that on-the-spot in-the-moment judgement counts for quite a bit.

    2. "Greg"

      Yes, I fall more into the “arm chair” category, but a quick answer to this question is “everthing is situational” (how you react in the mountains vs. versus dense jungle) and whether you execute a pre-rehearsed “immediate action” drill or some other tactical “react to contact” and thus the ranger handbook (and a few other similar refrences) are valuable resources for the rest of us who did not recieve the training first hand. At the same time, reading it (perhaps even memorizing it) from a book is a very dim 2nd to having actually practiced for real (and having developed the “muscle memory” of techniques)

    3. "Greg"

      Such as “Recon around the PB” – maybe the mission was a simple patrol to attempt to locate enemy or simply security/deny enemy of a certain area (in which case, that would be mission accomplished) unless the mission was some kind of surprise attack, in which case (due to the discovery) yes, that would be an abort mission, although another option would to attempt to avoid detection and continue the mission, such as a small 6 or 8 man team realizes a 100+ enemy is “danger close” and sucessfully avoids detection. In other cases it has happened that the recon team had no choice but to engage, and that 100+ enemy (that was taken by surprise) turns and runs, at least long enough for the *now low on ammo* to make an escape or (and) call in air strike for good measure. On the other hand, air assets might not be available for various reasons, and that can result in being a *VERY* bad day for the recon team…

    4. VoorTrekker

      In mountain terrain, or flat terrain, that is dependent upon the vegetation. Sparse, we spread out, dense we decrease our space intervals. Routes vary, using terrain and micro-terrain for concealment using contours for direction of travel when possible.

      We use the wedge or single file for tactical safety. 12 O’clock is always our direction of travel. Each man has his patrol roster and field of fire based on his position in the patrol order. Practice, practice, practice ad nauseam.

      React to contact, One alpha, break contact, ORP all before leaving the “States.” Somtimes ORP is 300 meters that a-way, so times it’s or last halt position, it varies. The old days Soldier of Fortune magazi e had a column, “Terrain and Situation.”

      Maneuvering must be fluid and adaptable. Each soldier must be tactically pliable. As for the mission’s failure or Charlie Mike, command decision, Terrain and situation, enemy strength and disposition…

      Does this help? From my awkward tablet on public wi-fi.

  5. DB

    Having done this with both a rifle platoon and a recon team, I would say that the recon team should pick neither ridgeline nor valley floor. The thickest, scuzziest, swampiest, most impenetrable piece of crappy terrain that no one would ever think you could jam 6 guys into. Even if you have to crawl in under the thorn bushes. Claymores not way out in front where someone could trip over the wire and follow it in, but right in front of you. BUT in front of a nice thick tree so you don’t take yourself out with your own backblast. Now, for a platoon you want more classically defensible terrain, and definitely occupy your patrol base after dark. Buttonhook, absolutely, then a key leaders recon of the site. In the dark the potential for clusterfuck is high. Platoon commander at the entry to the base, platoon sergeant or guide at the far end. Lead squad enters in file then deploys on line until they hit the platoon sergeant/guide, then sit the hell down on line. Next two squads come along in file and tie in on the left and right man of the first squad and back to the platoon commander. So you’re in the shape of a triangle with automatic weapons on each point, and a perfect field of fire on each axis without a lot of noisy rearranging. Crawl out to position claymores, and you’re done.

    1. Hognose Post author

      I may not have made it clear enough, but doctrinally, any patrol base is preferably on a piece of terrain of no tactical value. You don’t want the enemy deciding from a map recon that he wants to set up there, too, and stumble right into you for no other reason.

      As the unit size gets larger, the possibility of clandestine operation goes down exponentially.

      Agree on the dark (both as “when to do it” and “potential for CF”). Also, an old Vietnam trick used by well-trained units was to occupy the PB just before dark with a relative racket, then after night falls, a very stealthy crawl to a new position enfilading the old site. When Nguyen hit the patrol base at 0330, he found to his dismay that it was actually on his flank. Sorry ’bout that, Charlie.

    2. DaveP

      Along these lines, I recall noticing fairly quickly that if left to their own devices, many leaders tended to fishhook to their left in flat terrain, or downhill. More so as fatigue set in. Scanning high also dropped off.

      Useful during FTX when opfor, esp when combined with map skills and Hillbilly’s mention couple days ago about recognizing wildlife disturbance.

  6. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

    looserounds, good questions all, the answers are depends, depends and depends. The SOG and LRRPs all drilled and planned for reasonable contingencies given the slightly different missions they had and both had miraculous successes and both had teams vanish into thin air.

    1. Hognose Post author

      SOG had a SIGINT compromise that led to the loss of teams particularly in Laos, thanks to (1) John A. Walker plus (2) some spy that predated Walker but also gave up enough technical data on the KW-7 encryption system to the USSR, and (3) the AMEMB LAOS’s insistence on knowing about all teams coming in country. The areas and LZs were sent by “secure” radioteletype (RATT Rig in commo parlance) to the Embassy, they were read by several Russian SIGINT stations working for the 8th Chief Directorate of the KGB and (independently) for the GRU, and the sanitized intelligence was provided via liaison officers to the PAVN, which would then kick it down the chain to Group 559, the unit that managed the Ho Chi Minh trail network. Hence the SOGgie perception that the NVA had 100% of LZs covered by observation (the NVA only had to cover the active ones).

      Irony is, US SIGINT was reading the PAVNs provision of this sanitized intelligence, but only for positive intelligence (no CI analysis), and the program was classified and caveated at a level whereby the information never got to anybody in a position to say, “Hey, these missions are supposed to be secret. SOG has a leak somewhere.” Meanwhile, SOG had complete faith in the broken KW-7 encryption (which was still used until at least 1986-7, after Walker was in prison) and their CI people were hunting moles among the RVN officers involved at HQ.

  7. Scott freah

    We always excercised stand too when occupying a patrol base at dusk and at dawn “cause that’s when the
    Indians and French would attack” I was a 7th infantry light fighter scout in the early 90s at planet Ord. Is stand too still practiced today? Been out a long time. Not dead yet!

    1. Hognose Post author

      Scott, as I hit “publish” on that essay, I thought, “I wonder what I’ve overlooked?” and then realized, “The commenters will tell me!” Good catch, trooper.

      The 7th you served in by the 90s was waaaaay different from the unit I saw when I was at DLI in Monterey in the 70s. We used to call it the “7th African Rifles” — their basic skill set seemed to be putting a uniform on, setting WWII barracks on fire, and crashing Gama Goats (a miserable 1970s vehicle) with massive losses of lives and limbs.

    2. Hillbilly

      I was a 19D in the Cav up until 2001 and we practiced Stand to at dusk and dawn also. Of course our version of a Patrol Base was called an Assembly Area (AA) but was occupied using the same principles. The Unit Maintenance Collection Point (UMCP) was the same way.
      Actually a lot of our movements formations were the same too. We used the vehicular equivalent of the wedge, line, column etc.


    This brought back many memories. We called it harbouring, but otherwise it sounds remarkably similar to how I was doing it 30…jeeze almost 40 years ago now. I guess techniques that have The Truth about them are universal. Particularly when honouring the truth means life, and failure to respect the truth means death.

    Unfortunately, western armed forces, and particularly the US ground forces under your present leaders, seem more focussed on Political Correctness and Social Justice than understanding the importance of what is true. Infantry soldiering is the hardest labour I’ve ever performed. I suspect your female grunts won’t have the physical resources to do this sort of thing for extended periods and many of them and their male buddies will die at the hands of our enemies before we return to the truth.

    You didn’t really address it, but in my view, overcoming fatigue…hunkering down behind the gun and staying awake for a sentry watch (we called it gun picquet) and then getting up to keep going the next day after a few hours sleep while cold, wet and hungry is one of the toughest aspects of soldiering, and something that those who haven’t done it will never understand.

    Anyway mate, thanks once again from the other side of the world for all the effort you put into this marvellous blog. I learn something new or revisit old lessons every time I come here, and I really appreciate it.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Very true, all of it, my antipodean friend. US and British Commonwealth procedures are very similar although there may be differences in terms — “recon” vs. “recce,” “briefback” vs. “backbrief,” and many more. (One way some guys tried to suck up to both Charlie Beckwith and Dick Potter, US officers who’d done exchange tours with the Brits (SAS and Para Reg’t respectively) and liked to drop military Anglicisms, was to affect the British terms themselves. If some guy went the whole way, and his ruck was a “bergen” and walking was “tabbing” the other guys used to make fun of him by doing our terrible American versions of upper-class Received Pronunciation accents.

  9. Pathfinder


    Anyway I can contact you other than the comments?
    I have a question for you that I don’t want to put out to the whole net.

  10. W. Fleetwood

    Sorry for being late, I had some work that had to get done by COB yesterday. I request your indulgence for the tossing in of yet another two cents worth. Also, by writing this I am not claiming I’m right and somebody else is wrong but rather offering some observations that may be of use to others who find themselves in similar situations.

    First off, the context. 95% of my for real patrolling was done in either outright enemy areas, or contested areas, with the goal of finding and engaging the enemy, on our terms, and avoiding being engaged on their terms. A long range Recce patrol or secured area coverage patrol are different beasts, I have done them but Lord knows I’m not an expert on either one.

    So, some comments / viewpoints, in no particular order.

    On choosing a position. Don’t forget to check for mines. Ours, theirs, unexploded (So far.) CBU bomblets, game traps, etc. etc. None of those little bastards have any IFF capability whatsoever.

    You always fish hook, always. Now, when your unit ends the straight “Go ahead, follow this , it’s easy, you suckers.” part and turns to make the hook the unit can shake out, while moving, into a formation that mirrors their lager positions. Then you can halt, set, do a serious quiet time, and your folks are already in position. You shouldn’t have to emplace them, just make a quick inspection and maybe correct a detail or two.

    On people leaving the perimeter of a night lager. No. They. Don’t. Once you’re set nobody leaves. Period, Full Stop, End of discussion. You need to piss? Inside. Shit, vomit your guts out? Inside. Have a m—–f—ing Epileptic Seizure (And boy wasn’t that fun!)? Inside the perimeter. If there’s a situation that actually justifies one of us leaving, it justifies all of us going with you.

    If you’re in a night lager you should be resting up for the big game tomorrow. Priorities of Work 2 thru 6 are daytime things. After dark it’s time for No. 7, and as much of it as you can get. Let me say this in as nonconfrontational a manner as I can. Guys, unless you are actually, no bullshit, really expecting a ground assault against your position during the hours of darkness the 50% security so beloved of training facilities and manual writers, is an act of self destructive madness. In the dark two sentries, sitting back to back in the center of the lager, next to the CO and the No. 2, will detect anything 50% of a bleary eyed, “zoned out” unit is going to detect and they can instantly alert the Hetman and Assistant Hetman. And do it silently to boot. Get some sleep. Then stand to and up sticks by 15 minutes before BMNT and off we go, reasonably fresh and ready to do the work.

    Daytime OPs, or any other subunit outside the perimeter? Connecting files. The US Army used to teach this, but seems to have forgotten it. Connecting files, totally silent, near instantaneous communications. Yes.

    A word or two about security, being tracked, being compromised, etc. In an insurgency situation you won’t be compromised by some VC Sapper Ninja with a knife between his teeth. If those guys, or their analogs, do show up you were compromised long before then. You got compromised by the GYAF, the Gook Youth Auxiliary Force. It’s Gook 101, first chapter; peoples war / peoples army. From their viewpoint why waste or risk a fighting unit to sweep areas or follow tracks? That’s what twelve year old boys are for. So when that twelve year old shows up on your perimeter looking for his lost cow/goat/little brother you are now compromised. Period. You can snatch him up if you feel like it but you’re still compromised. Why? Because as soon as he spotted you, he gave a nonverbal signal (And getting snatched by the Federales works fine as a nonverbal signal.) to the GVAF that has been trailing him, who passed the signal on to the guy following him. While you’re asking kid No. 1 “What’s your name?” kid No. 3 is already running as fast as his spindly little legs will carry him to tell the Local Boss Gook words to the effect that “The British are coming, the British are coming, in fact they’re right over there!”. You’re compromised, deal with it.

    I shall now speak Heresy. I have become deeply skeptical about a lot of the missions the US Army tosses into a sack marked “Leaders Recon”. Not necessarily the Recon part, but the Leader part. I mean on it’s face it’s a bad idea. You’re going to detach the commander from almost all of his available force and send him and a couple of guys into an area which may or may not be occupied by enemy forces. What if it actually is occupied, and they do their job, which is to try to shoot you? Now you’ve got the CO and a force which is almost by definition inferior to the enemy, caught in a cross fire. Let’s think about this.

    I’m going to suggest that a lot of the missions which doctrine would have done by a Leaders Recon are in fact missions which should be done by what were once called Scouts. Your unit doesn’t have Scouts? I’ll bet you do. In my units they were called Corporals. You know the ones. Smart, level headed, maybe a little bit cocky? The ones you know are going to be Warrants or Officers if they don’t get killed first. Them. Let’s drop the assumption that the Leader is the only guy in the unit that can be stealthy, observant and analytical. (Is he also the best shot, fastest runner, etc. etc., Hell, can he fly?) Let’s face it, the only thing a good Corporal can’t do is command the larger unit. Maybe that’s what the actual commander is actually for. Let’s look at the actual mission not the doctrinal name.

    Oh, and one minor point on this subject. There’s an unspoken assumption that a recon element is always a stripped down extra light group. Consider the possibility that your Scouts (Humor me, okay?) should sometimes consist of Corporal Chipomo and two MAG teams. At least think about it.

    Again, thanks for your indulgence. One hopes that this sharing of viewpoints may drift out to the guys actually doing the work on the frontier and maybe some small point will let them get a step ahead of the enemy bastards.

    Wafa Wafa, Wasara Wasara.

        1. W. Fleetwood

          LSWCHP and Serene Grand Master Host.

          I truly appreciate your kind words. I suppose a working title would be something like “Now There I Was, And This Is No Shit.”? May need a little polishing and honing. Okay, maybe a lot.

          Sua Sponte.

      1. Mike_C

        Make that a third. And spare not the socio-political observations! Your (prior, some time ago) comment on what first world Westerners think constitutes charity, and the view of the rest of the world, is perhaps the finest (yet succinct) thing I’ve read on the subject.

    1. VoorTrekker

      I always appreciated guys like you who “volunteered” to train my National Guard infantry unit. We did it all to the standard because we wanted to. Thank you for re-training us here today.

    2. Mike

      I agree 100% on the 50% security at night thing. It results in a crowd of zombies crashing through the brush, thinking slowly if at all, and making stupid mistakes by Day 3. Sleep in the field is a commodity that to me is far more valuable than clean socks and food, and ranks just slightly below spare radio batteries, maps, and compass.

      A technique that was once used when I was doing my OPFOR time in Lousiana; when feeling like we needed a full night’s sleep, we’d go to the swamps. We’d go in shortly before last light, to a place where the water was knee deep or a hillock out of the water if we could find one, and string up our hammocks. We’d hang our rucks and LBE up, and get in the hammocks for a full night of sleep.

      The helicopters couldn’t see through the overhead foliage to see us, and not once did a BLUEFOR element ever go into the swamps at night. Alligators and cottonmouths, oh my! Yes, they were present, but we had learned to live with them. I wouldn’t try this TTP in an area with Saltwater or Nile crocodiles though.

    3. Mike

      I’m in agreement on the Leader’s Recon issue, as well. I never once saw it done as the book says. I’m a complete heretic, and will just say it- the book is wrong on this point. One of those things that is good in theory, but if it goes wrong results in catastrophic failure.

      I recall reading about an incident in Vietnam where an NVA Regiment’s leader’s recon went horribly wrong, and they got wiped out by either an air rifle platoon of 1/9 CAV or a heavy LRRP team. It resulted in the compromise and destruction of most of the regiment.

  11. LSWCHP

    Time to be a 3 post nutbag. Woot!

    One really useful technique when halting overnight with any formation larger than a section is to create a “track plan”.

    This is a series of marked tracks from platoon HQ to each section HQ, and thence to each of the guns. It can be marked with string or vegetation, and will help blokes going on watch so that they don’t get lost and approach sentries from unexpected directions. It’s a bad feeling when you brass up the guy who was coming to relieve you, but who got disoriented in the dark and the rain and ended up 10 or 20 metres outside the perimeter before coming back in.

    With a little efffort it can also be cleared of trip-and-fall obstacles, and any crunchy foliage or twigs in order to help with noise discipline at night as sentries move around.

    Strewth…stand-to, noise discipline, light discipline, clearing patrol tactics….there’s so much for the infanteer to learn about in this one little subject. One of my company commanders once told me that people contemptuously called us “grunts” because they thought we were dumb, like animals, and that just showed how little they actually knew about the complexities of staying alive when people were trying to kill you.

  12. VoorTrekker

    I was an assistant operations sergeant to a Division HQ operations command post (National Guard). The C.O. was Infantry and decided to spend two days of drill weekend doing “warrior tasks” battle drills, formerly Common Tasks.

    Those Pogues heads’ were spinning trying to comprehend and follow through AND maintain the battle rythym (momentum). All of us former infantry became major trainers, including marksmanship. Good times, hoo’ah!

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