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A Practical Guide to the Recon Patrol, by TMC from The Survival Blog.


Okay, the stuff has hit the fan, you have made it to your retreat, and you are geared up, stocked up and ready to survive. Inner security has been established, with LP/OPs located at likely avenues of approach. You at some point will start to wonder what else is out there, how far away it is, and what it means for your group. You might want to start implementing the recon patrol. While I could write what may very well be a small manual on the subject, I will just put out the basics that will point you in the right direction to successfully run a patrol. As most retreats will not be in the desert, I am using the normal type terrain expected in a well selected retreat. Your mileage may vary. I will also not go into detail on certain subjects that can easily be researched. If I did, I would surely exceed any limit on how large a document on the subject should be. Rather I will concentrate on things learned in the field, not in any manual.

What exactly is a recon patrol? Field reconnaissance is the gathering of information of your surroundings in a stealthy manner. You will use this information to determine the safety of your current position and it will most likely be a determining factor for your daily operations planning. Information gathered can give you an idea of opposing force (OPFOR) strength, intentions, direction they are traveling and the likelihood of them coming in contact with your base element.

While much of the doctrine is the same a standard patrol, the recon patrol is a bit different than a regular patrol. The recon patrol is to gather information on your surroundings without making contact with other elements. That being said, I have on occasion been ordered to use harassing techniques to slow down or try to change the course of an element, which I will touch upon later.

Patrol Size The size of a recon patrol is going to be smaller than the standard squad patrol. You are trying to be invisible and the more boots you have on the ground the more noise you will make. In my experience, a four person team is the size limit which I would recommend. Three is the optimal number, and

This is in comparison with the standard squad patrol size of nine (if you are lucky enough to have that many in your squad. but if that is what you have you will have to make do.56 or 7. flee the fight. The 7. The “light” part seems to be getting to be a stretch with this type prep.]). you may want to consider taking it along in an appropriate style carrier as a target of opportunity may come up that may be just way too good to pass up. . I choose the AK-47 for myself as I believe it has a lot to offer for this type of mission. Even though I sometimes carried a sidearm. Patrol Equipment Travel light. it would be better just to take a couple of extra mags for your primary. Just a thought and should only be done by experienced personnel. If you do have a mule in your team (a human one) and he has skills with a sniper rifle. This is much better added value weight. but proper escape route planning can be implemented to help with this scenario. You should pack two reloads for your combat load just in case you keep getting paralleled by OPFOR and have time to refresh magazines. Weapons Take light carbines such as the M4 or Mini-14. [Even active duty military units are often short of manpower versus their authorized strength under their table of organization. which is why I stress lighter ammo such as 5. so bear that in mind.two being the least that should go out. you will need to lay down a furious wall of fire to make the enemy think they just encountered a platoon or a least squad sized element so semi-auto is in my opinion a bare minimum. Should you get compromised. Unless you come across a solo element. Optics Optics such as binoculars or [spotting] scope are pretty much necessities.62 NATO ammo gets pretty heavy with this type of packing and does not add much value in a reconnaissance mission. Larger weapons such as the M1 Garand or long barreled assault rifles will slow you down as they are heavy and cumbersome. The preferred engagement ratio is 3:1.62x39. This does violate the "no contact" premise of the recon patrol. you will most likely be outnumbered and if compromised you will need to hastily retreat.

For under $40 at WalMart you can get Bushnell’s 10x42 hunting binoculars that are clear as a bell and very rugged.The further that you can stand off and observe your objective the better off you are. etc. A recon patrol should be fairly short. I could find Korean [troop] elements by their body odor due to their diet of kimchi sometimes up to 400 meters away. garlic. you also have a better field of view with binoculars. You can use a sheer sniper veil over them as a kill flash. but sometimes necessary. but require that you expose yourself a little more than with binoculars. depending on the wind and how long they had been out. . I learned that one the hard way. While in Korea. You need to know the operating limitations of your comms equipment and operate accordingly. such as curry. This is risky. Utilizing light foods like jerky that you can carry a lot of will go a long way. onion. No smoking! Obviously colognes and other “smelly goods” have no place on a recon patrol. Jerky. I can’t tell you how many times I have found an OPFOR element’s area of operations (AO) just by smell. Chances are your patrol might take you out of radio communication reception distance especially if you don’t have high power equipment. Generally. Take foods that need little or no preparation.000 pair of Steiners. This odor discipline also includes cigarettes. Also learn what is edible in your surroundings as this can help sustain your mission without being a burden on your supplies. I don’t mean you have to buy a $1. When a two day patrol turns into six days that extra little bit of "Pogey bait" is worth it and can be rationed. Designate times and places to transmit from if you cannot [continuous] maintain radio contact during the patrol. In my opinion binoculars are a better choice. Communications Radios should be carried but utilized only when absolutely necessary. Try to avoid foods that are particularly aromatic. trail mix. Binoculars with some type of "flash kill" device are recommended. MREs and foods of that nature are recommended. If it is going to be extended. Also make these quality optics that you are comfortable using. Rifle scopes are okay. a day or two probably at most.then pack 2-1/2 times the food you think you will need. so try to keep this to a minimum. Food You need to travel light.

A very useful item indeed. It merits are known factors in the safety of soldiers. Use various patterns of travel such as zigzagging or button hooking. do a wide 360 until you come back on your own tracks. Pick a route that will minimize danger area crossings and contact with high traffic areas. rivers. Never plan a straight route. but in this mission you need to be able to flat out run if compromised. Know this: the US Department of Defense owns all the GPS satellites and merely provides data to GPS companies like Garmin so their GPS devices will work. Learn to use a compass and map. and on many occasions I . Plan the Route Route planning is essential. A boonie cap is the first choice. You can use [burlap strips] to throw off scentdetecting animals such as dogs by using fox urine or other types of masking scents. The type will obviously be determinate on your terrain and season. If you encounter more tracks than yours. The body armor is heavy and can impede your quick getaway. they are not always reliable and in a Grid Down situation may not even function. Helmets and body armor are optional. It can give kids and adults alike a great sense of accomplishment and help get you or keep you in shape. Should the government choose to. React according to your [contact] SOPs. The ballistic helmet is also heavy. Learning how to use a compass and map can be a fun experience for everyone.Uniforms Camoflage should go without saying. Burlap with proper color spray paint is a great way to make cheap [outline] breakup for weapons. they can encrypt them at will and leave your commercial GPS worthless. but I do not recommend them on a recon patrol. You may skirt these areas to view them. It can be manipulated to just about any terrain out there. Do not use roads. should you think you are being trailed. Map and compass skills can trump a GPS any day. trails or any other obvious routes of travel. but its main downfall is the fact that it masks your environment. While GPS systems can be useful tools. then you are being followed. It can impair your vision and it mostly covers your ears and keeps you from hearing sounds that may be the enemy. patrol cap is second for traditional headgear. This keeps the enemy off guard as to where you came from. Also.

and smell" (SLLS). Your sense of smell. Make sure all equipment gets inspected.p. I have found that a short 10 minute halt like this is not nearly as effective as having the recon team acclimate [to the natural environment] over a day or so without distractions such as television. In a grid down situation this will most likely not be a problem. This includes weapons that have a multitude of “Mall Ninja” gear hanging off of them. Have each patrol member jump up and down and run in place with their gear on to identify anything noisy and use 100 m. Preparing for the Patrol If you follow proper procedure when you leave the base of ops you will conduct "stop. On the Patrol . If possible. it is just more junk to hang up on vegetation and obstacles.h. Most of these will be dictated by your groups prior established SOPs. hearing.have been right on the mark while the guy using the GPS has been wandering around waiting for the satellites to give him a decent grid. time you will transmit information if necessary. Make sure food and water are easily accessible as you may be eating on the fly. listen. Rely on basic navigation skills. This is to get you oriented to your environment. do this and you will be much more inclined to pick up on enemy positions and movement long before they pick you up. get your mind right. look. radio. Plan for contingencies. and vision get better the longer you are out. and what frequencies to be on at what time of the day. Technology is a crutch for the weak. Check for proper and complete camouflage. Plan Actions Make sure to plan out the time you are leaving. However. and time you expect to be back. [olive drab duck] tape or 550 [parachute] cord to lash it down. such as what to do if you make contact. including weapons and optics. Get ready to roll. Make sure all equipment is quiet and free of protruding gear or things that will snag on foliage. While it may be value added in a MOUT situation. Follow them. time to be on the objective. or any other man-made devices that are not essential to ops. where to meet if you get separated.

you can never collect too much intel. which is a specific area you want to check out. You can sort through what is important later on when you have time to analyze the intel.Use your wits. is a learned behavior. Brush over where you were laying. On the Objective If you are doing an area recon. always leave the objective in a different direction [than from which you approached]. They don’t listen to how much noise they are making. If you are doing a point recon. Try to leave no sign at all that you were ever there. Pick up any trash or tell tale sign of you being there. Have you ever been close to a squirrel’s nest in the woods? He will let you know you are too close by making a lot of noise. cover any foliage cuts you might have made. lay your team in collect as much info as you can. Walk a zigzag pattern to cover as much terrain as possible. Avoid sandy terrain where you will leave an obvious trail. Don’t get complacent. but can be done by just about anyone. Departure When the allotted time on the objective is complete. Include info you would normally not consider important as later on down the road you may find it useful. Be aware of your environment. Learn to roll your feet. Just learn to walk quietly. This takes time. make sure you spend the time you need on the objective to properly gather intelligence. Be mindful of how loud your footsteps are. You are in just as much danger going home as you were going out. but you can collect not enough. make sure only one member of each buddy team is using binoculars. That is a common mistake I see soldiers make all the time. while the other keeps an eye out for anyone who may be using a clandestine approach to your location. This can be practiced around the house while doing chores. which is a recon of a specific target such as a house or a point on a road. . Remember. Learn to use nature to warn you of potential danger. Maintain noise discipline on the way back just like you did on the way in. While glassing your objective. Use rocks and other terrain to move while minimizing [leaving] sign and making noise. Be mindful of nature and learn to move in the woods as part of your surroundings rather than against it. and anything that may not be right. This type of natural warning device can serve you as well as hinder you. Use a notebook to write down everything you see.

I hope this is of use to you. This will give you a heads up on what’s out there and give you an advantage over any element that may be inbound on your location.Well. You can research the patrol by using military manuals and implement what I have written here for a successful mission. then you have the tactical advantage. Knowledge is power. . there you have it. and if you have solid intel on your enemy and surroundings.