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071-720-0015 (SL3) - Conduct an Area Reconnaissance by a Platoon

Standards: Satisfactorily performed the following within the time specified by the commander: 1. Organized the platoon into the command, reconnaissance, and security elements needed to accomplish the mission. 2. Conducted a reconnaissance using the surveillance or vantage-point method. 3. Obtained and reported information about the terrain and enemy within the specified area. 4. Entered and left the target area without being detected by the enemy.

Conditions: Given a 1:50,000 map, a lensatic compass, and a mission to conduct an area reconnaissance within a specified time.

Standards: Satisfactorily performed the following within the time specified by the commander:

1. Organized the platoon into the command, reconnaissance, and security elements needed to accomplish the mission.
2. Conducted a reconnaissance using the surveillance or vantage-point method.
3. Obtained and reported information about the terrain and enemy within the specified area.
4. Entered and left the target area without being detected by the enemy.

Performance Steps

1.   Estimate the situation.  When the reconnaissance mission is received, develop an estimate of the situation.  Base the estimate on current intelligence about the enemy in the vicinity of the target area, and on the capabilities of the unit.  While planning for the mission, have the unit prepare for the mission also.  Tailor the organization to best support the mission.  The reconnaissance element of a platoon will normally be no larger than a squad.

2.   Plan details.  Develop the overall plan with a consideration of the following factors:

a. Use Intelligence.  All reconnaissance operations must be based on the best information available as to actual conditions in the objective area.

b. Use deceptive measures.  The success of reconnaissance operations is determined, to a large extent, on deception measures and on undetected infiltration and exfiltration.

c. Use the smallest unit possible to accomplish the mission.  This decreases the possibility of enemy detection.  Though only a small element reconnoiters, the parent unit must be large enough to provide security or support if the reconnaissance is detected or an enemy force engages the element.

d. Remain undetected.  The unit uses stealth, camouflage, concealment, and sound and light discipline.  These techniques allow the unit to take advantage of periods of limited visibility to avoid contact and to get near, or on, the objective.

e. Use surveillance, target acquisition, and night observation (STANO) devices.  The unit makes use of STANO devices to help it move and gain information about the enemy.  Based on intelligence reports, consideration must be given to the enemy's detection devices.  When the enemy may have detection devices, passive devices should be used to decrease the probability of enemy detection.

f.  Rehearse.  After intelligence has been analyzed, the plan developed, special items of equipment procured and issued, and the troops briefed, the unit rehearses the plan.  This rehearsal is a key factor that enhances the probability of the success of the operation. Rehearsals are as detailed as time allows and include dry runs and briefings with repetition and questioning as needed to ensure understanding of the plan.  Contingency plans are also rehearsed. To ensure that the contingency plans are understood, the reconnaissance members must repeat them.

g. Minimize audio and electronic communications.  Constraints on communication depend on enemy detection abilities and on how time sensitive the information obtained from the enemy is.  There may be instances where the importance of the information requires an immediate report.  The unit's existence could be threatened.  Often, a one-time radio contact during the mission is necessary.

h. Inspect.  The planning phase of the operation includes at least one inspection of all members of the reconnaissance force, to include their equipment.  Only essential equipment, identified by the platoon leader as equipment required for mission accomplishment, is carried.  Special equipment must be closely inspected and safeguarded to ensure it functions during the mission.  Extra personnel and equipment assigned to the unit must also be carefully inspected and monitored prior to and during the operation.  Any shortcomings found in personnel or equipment are corrected before the operation begins.  Thorough inspections and supervision of personnel and equipment before the operation reduce the probabilities of compromise or failure.

3.   Assign subordinate missions.  Regardless of the types of reconnaissance, units are normally assigned one of the three subordinate missions:  Command and control, reconnaissance of the objective, or security of the force.

a. Command and control.  The commander of the unit conducting a reconnaissance normally requires a small command group to assist in communicating with higher headquarters, subordinate elements, and supporting forces, and to coordinate and control supporting elements, fire support, and air or water transport for the operation.  For small operations, this group may consist of only the commander and a radio operator.  For larger operations, the commander may require intelligence, logistics, and fire support elements, with adequate communication personnel for sustained 24-hour operations.  The command group is always kept as small as possible.

b. Reconnaissance of the objective.  The element with the reconnaissance mission approaches the target using stealth and concealment.  All plans and applicable contingencies are conducted with the major effort made toward obtaining the information required while remaining undetected.  The reconnaissance element must skillfully avoid all known and discovered enemy sensing devices; therefore, patience is important.  Passive STANO devices will be used to observe activities at the objective.  Information received about the target may be transmitted back to the appropriate headquarters by electronic means as it is observed.  Or, the reconnaissance personnel may withdraw from the target and disseminate information by other means.  The reconnaissance site should be sterilized before withdrawal.  Withdrawal from the area must be as skillful, patient, and precise as was the movement into it.

c. Security of the force.  The reconnaissance element(s) with this mission must provide the commander sufficient warning of the location and movement of enemy forces to permit the parent force to take evasive action or, when this is not possible, to provide covering fires that permit withdrawal of the reconnaissance element.  Only if warnings are timely and information is accurate does the commander have the time and space to react.  It is also the only way that, if the reconnaissance element is detected, the commander can arrange to give it sufficient over watching suppressive fires or time to evade and withdraw safely.

4.   Conduct an area reconnaissance and obtain information about a specific location and the area immediately around it (for example, road junctions, hills, bridges, enemy positions).  Designate the location of the objective by either grid coordinates or a map overlay with a boundary line drawn around the area.

a. Once given an area reconnaissance mission, the platoon moves to the appointed area in the shortest possible time.  This normally involves traveling along existing roads and, of course, using the appropriate movement techniques.  During this movement to an area, the platoon reports and bypasses enemy opposition unless ordered to do otherwise.

b. When the platoon reaches its area, it halts and sets up an objective rallying point (ORP).  Once the ORP has been set up, the objective can be reconnoitered in one of two ways:

(1)  When the terrain permits the security element to move to a position to over watch the reconnaissance element, the leader may decide to have small reconnaissance teams move to each surveillance point or vantage point around the objective instead of having the entire element move as a unit from point to point.  After the objective has been reconnoitered, the elements return to the ORP and information is issued.  The patrol then returns to friendly lines.

(2)  When the terrain does not allow the platoon to secure the objective area, the platoon leaves a security element at the ORP and uses reconnaissance and security (R&S) teams to reconnoiter the objective.  These teams move to different surveillance points or vantage points, from which they reconnoiter the objective.  Once the objective has been reconnoitered, the R&S team returns to the ORP, shares the information, and returns to friendly lines.


Evaluation Preparation:

Setup: At the test site, provide all equipment and material given in the task conditions statement.

Brief Soldier: Tell the soldier he is to organize and conduct an area reconnaissance using the surveillance or vantage point method. Obtain and report any information about the terrain and enemy within the specified area. Tell the soldier he is to complete the mission within the time specified by the commander. Tell the soldier you will act as the battalion intelligence officer (S2) to provide answers to any questions he may ask.

Performance Measures



1.   Established a plan of action based on the mission and the enemy situation.



2.   Conducted a reconnaissance.



3.   Conducted deceptive measures during infiltration and exfiltration.



4.   Used smallest unit required to conduct the reconnaissance.



5.   Applied stealth, camouflage, and concealment techniques along with noise and light discipline to avoid detection.



6.   Conducted pre-mission inspection and rehearsal.



7.   Used the correct size command and control group for the mission.



8.   Used correct movement techniques during the mission.



9.   Used correct security techniques during the mission.



Evaluation Guidance: Score the soldier GO if all performance measures are passed. Score the soldier NO GO if any performance measure is failed. If the soldier scores NO GO, show the soldier what was done wrong and how to do it correctly.






FM 3-21.71



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