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Tactieal Troop Reconnaissance
by Mr. Michael J. Dueweke

1. The cornerstone of Soviet military actions is an aggressive, fast-moving, and hard-hitting offense. In order to attain these types of actions, Soviet military operations are carefully planned and orchestrated at all levels. Reconnaissance is essential to the planning and conduct of successful operations. Reconnaissance troops are the initial elements US and NATO forces would encounter from a Soviet main force in the event of hostilities in the European theater.
and below), reconnaissance is conducted by many organizations with a variety of equipment and techniques. The most probable type to be encountered by Soviet opponents is troop reconnaissance, which provides commanders with battlefield iniormation about the enemy that can be used to influence the outcome of the battle. Troop reconnaissance (voyskovaya ranedka) is reconnaissance conducted by troops of dedicated reconnaissance forces as well as by maneuver unit forces. Since there are no dedicated recomaissance elements below regiment,

battalion and company commanders utilize subordinate elements to conduct local reconnaissance and security missions. The important aspect of troop reconnaissance is its responsiveness to the needs of the commander.

3. Regimental reconnaissance is

plg!99!q,_Thesepffily

provided by a reconnaissance company (see figure 1) with two rèiõffiñce

2. At the tactical level (division

b""ggq4]Lgr!, and are tasked to perform reconnaissance across the regimental front (see figure 2). The reconnaissance company will normally operate 25 to30 .kilometers (kms) forward of the regimenmain body, but may operate out to a -Lal maximum distance of 50 kms. These patrols, normally consisting of L to 3 vehicles, are the eyes and ears of the commander. Their purpose is to provide information about the enemy location, composition, and formations. These patrols stress reconnaissance, and will avoid detection and engagement by the enemy if possible. Patrols can fight, however. Personal and vehicular armament provide sufficient firepower for these recon elements to protect and disengage themselves when necessary.

u&ö

Þ,v

ùi-51;i
ß:":ü,

fruþ'*'

ACV, BMP M 1976
AICV, BMP/BMP-1

2 3

tt

tfra"

¿

y'

ASC, BRDM/BRDM-2 ATGL, RPG-16
LMG, RPK

4
4
3

ew

{& e''

ldu Åtttçã

Figure 1. Regimental Reconnaissance Company

HQ AND
SERVICES COMPANY

(ueer) ,.
ACV, BRDM/ BRDM-2 ACV, BTR-60 PA ACV, BMP M 1976 AICV, BMP/ BMP-1 MEDIUM TANK ASC, BRDM/ BRDM-2 ATGL, RPG-16
LMG, RPK-74
1

2 3
12

6
12 13 19

,h¡a Zy's ffi't'{t / fn¿ ,¿¿/ø (t¿.¿f (aæ\
yÉrlrccÉs

Figure 3. Divisional Reconnaissance Battalion

r¿n \\?D*r=¿D Oìõ u
10

'BRtc"f'be ?a¡Ñçtuøf

'

sEÉ 3¿pcf'li

4. Division reconnaissance assets provide
broad spectrum of coverage. These units are organized to provide the commander ground, air defense, chemical, engineer, electronic, and signal reconnaissance, as well as target acquisition. These assets are located throughout the division, especially in artillery and rocket units. For troop reconnaissance, the division has an organic reconnaissance battalion
a

sance Company) performs division long-

(see
¡é

fi

u.

laissance companie!,

AgggñãÑiõ_

@),andothertechnical reconnaissance assets.

5. The two division reconnaissance companies will normally provide coverage
front, operating between the regimental reconnaissance comacross the division

pany and the RAC. These companies tvoicallv oerform close reconnaissance missions for the division commander with a primary mission of reconnaissance rather than combat. These companies will, ideally, locate high priority targets, such as headquarters and command, control, and communications facilities, as well as unit deployments and movements. These units will normally operate as small patrols of.¡vo to thlee vehicles with troops mounted. Troops will dismount to perform foot patrols or ambushes to gather information. However, their vehicles will not be far away.

range reconnaissance and provides the division commander with a deep-look capability out to 100 kms. Small teams of five to six men from this company can be inserted by a variety of means (such as parachute, helicopter, vehicle, or foot) to collect informationwithin the enemy rear area. These teams will move primarily by foot, avoiding engagements with enemy forces, and locate high priority targets in the enemy division rear and corps forward areas. While the primary mission of these troops is reconnaissance, they may also have secondary missions to conduct disruptive operations in the enemy rear, such as ambushes, prisoner snatches, traffic diversions, disruption of LOCs, and limited attacks against important targets of opportunity. When not operating in the enemy real area, this company is capable of providing additional reconnaissance patrols mounted in their organic vehicles within the division area.

7. While all Soviet commanders are
responsible for conducting reconnaissance, _regiment and division commanders

have

i..- 52

tasked to plan and coordinate reconnaissance efforts. The COR is the staff intelligence officer who works directly for the

6. The Reconnaissance Assault Company
(also called the Airborne Reconnaissance Company or the I-ong-Range Reconnais-

Chief of Staff. Working from the commander's guidance, the COR tasks subordinate and organic assets to collect specific information. The COR will also receive tasking from higher commands, which he will likely include in his tasking
11

DIV RECON BN. OPERATES

OUTTO

1OO

KMS

co(x2)

RECON

,+.'-$

RGT RECON OPERATËS OUT TO 50 KMS

| | TI

=anov

=ave

Note: Div reconm co includes 6 tanks per company

Figure

2.

Employment of Reconnaissance Elements

12

to his subordinate elements. Additionally, the COR will request information and coordinate attached technical reconnaissance assets from higher commands to assist in coverage of his area of interest. This is important because dedicated troop reconnaissance forces cannot provide adequate coverage in width and depth of zone aI" the same time. This weakness is offset, however, by technical reconnaissance assets available at division level and above which can provide depth of coverage across the division front.

planned, coordinated, and supervised by the COR, while battalion and lower commanders must accomplish this task themselves.

8. Troop reconnaissance

plays a sig-

nificant part in the overall intelligence gathering system. It can provide confirmation of other collection means. It often provides initial information that can be confirmed by other means such as electronic or signal reconnaissance. Troop reconnaissance is responsive to the commander's needs and can provide him timely information on which to base command decisions. The division and regiment reconnaissance efforts are carefully
REFERENCES

reconnaissance organizations lack the distinctive vehicle signature of previous elements; however, reconnaissance patrols from the division reconnaissance companies and the regiment reconnaissance company can be distinguished by their small size and determination to avoid decisive engagements. Historical and current writings indicate the extreme importance reconnaissance forces play in tactics, and are most likely the first forces that would be encountered by US and NATO forces on a European battlefield.
X X

9. Current

M¡. Michael J. Dueweke,

a-@gjJ!@!gae!!çg,

is an

Intelligence Research Specialist for the United States Army Intelligence and Threat Anaþis Center, Washington, DC. His areas of research include reconnaissance and tactics under soecial conditions fo¡

Soffi

L*

,h/ ofi* &^ner &P! /a*" z
1980.

Donnelly, C. N. "Operations in the Enemy Rear: Soviet Doct¡ine and Tactics." l-ondon: International Defense Review, January Sverdlov, Col. Fedor Davydovich. Moscow: Yoyçnizdal, 17 November 1982.

13

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To

t22MM) D-30

HowtrzER (LESS THAN l55MM) D-t, D-20 HowlrzER (MoRE THAN
l55MM)

SELF - PROPELLED AR]TILLERV

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oR EoUAL To t22MM) zst TO I55MM) 2S3

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6

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BM-zz lN MARCH coLUMN

7

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+.-{)*';*i¡-_

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TANK COMPANY REINFORCED W,/MR PLATOON (BMP) MR COMPANY (BTR) REINFORCED W,/TANK PLATOON MR COMPANY (BMP) REINFORCED W,/TANK PLATOON TANK COMPANY IN MARCH
COLUMN COLUMN COLUMN

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9

G@ANBINED ARNNS BATTALI@N SVNNBOLS
TANK BN REINFORCED W,/AN MRC (BMP)
DIVISIONAL ANTITANK BATTALION (ATGM)

&

(MT-IZ)

MR BN (BTR) REINFORCED W,/A TANK MR BN (BMP) REINFORCED W,/A TANK

CO CO

MR BN (BMP) REINFORCED W,/A TANK CO &

SP ARTILLERY (GENERIC) MR BN (BMP) REINFORCED W,/A TANK CO 2Sls ARTILLERY MR BN (BMP) REINFORCED W,/A TANK CO SP ARTILLERY (GENERIC) MR BN (BTR) REINFORCED W,/A TANK CO 2SIs ARTILLERY MR BN (BTR) REINFORCED W,/A TANK CO
TOWED ARTILLERY (GENERIC)

& &

TOWED ARTILLERY (GENERIC) MR BN (BTR) REINFORCED W,/A TANK CO &
& &

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& &

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r-* ft- -

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WITHDRAWAL

TIME DISTANCE PHASE LINE *I TIME DISTANCE PHASE LINE +2 TIME DISTANCE PHASE LINE I*3 FRONT LINE TRACE OPPOSING FORCES

LINE FOR TRANSITION TO ATTACK

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LINE OF EXPECTED MEETING W,/ENEMY

;1\ \./
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fì I il fl r- -.-]ìl
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SUBSEOUENT OBJECTIVE OF MR BATTALION (BMP)

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I

IMMEDIATE OBJECTIVE GENERIC

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i1

BATTLE F@RAflATI@N

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ATTACK FORMATION FOR TANK BATTALION

ATTACK FORMATION FOR MR BATTALION (BMP)

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LINES & B@UNDARIES
BOUNDARY LINE BETWEEN BATTALIONS

BOUNDARY LINE BETWEEN REGIMENTS

BOUNDARY LINE BETWEEN DIVISIONS

BOUNDARY LINE BETWEEN ARMIES

13

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SOVIET ANTITANK MINE FIELD SOVIET DUMMY MINE FIELD SOVIET WOOD

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WIRE

15

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SVSTENNS

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