Movement, Reconnaissance, and Stealth Training for Rifle Squads and Platoons.
Squad and platoon leaders rarely vary movement techniques and formations based on METT-T conditions. Soldiers are not situationally aware and frequently are not given specific information on target selection. As a result, they do not move as a member of a fire team. They simply move. Operational security is not adhered to during movement and at halts. Most units are noisy--weapons ring with metal to metal contact, soldiers cough, leaders talk out loud, and radios blare. Sometimes soldiers and leaders apply camouflage to their faces, but rarely does one see the outline of helmets and equipment broken up with fresh natural foliage. These procedures are all in the Soldier's Manuals and Mission Training Plans--most of it is common sense!
These are harsh words and they are meant to be. I made the same mistakes as a platoon leader and company commander. I look back on some of my company "movements to daylight" and am embarrassed. But the fact is, I did not plan good training for tactical movement. I was too concerned with "sexy" air assault raids or I convinced myself that there was not time or resources. In an attempt to prevent platoon leaders and company commanders from making the same mistake, the following situational training exercises are offered.
The exercises are meant to be executed at local training areas with minimum resources. The OPFOR can be soldiers who are injured and are on profile--all they have to do is listen and watch. If you have blanks and MILEs you can conduct react to contact battle drill training in concert with the "movement training". However, if the unit has to "react to contact"--they failed. In reality, all the unit needs is about a kilometer of woods, about a half dozen OPFOR, and some training aids which simulate enemy equipment and combat debris (commo wire, mines, cache sites).[/i]
PRE-COMBAT INSPECTION (PCI)
One may ask, "What do PCIs have to do with movement?" PCIs are a critical task in the troop leading procedure--supervise. Poor PCIs result in metal to metal contact, inproperly applied camouflage, and canteens that are not full--all of which can contribute to becoming compromised. Soldiers and equipment must be soundproofed. This training is oriented toward every squad member, not just squad leaders. The endstate of the training is that every member of the squad knows the standard and how to identify soundproofing and camouflage deficiencies.
TASK: Perform Pre-Combat Inspection prior to Movement
CONDITIONS: The squad is preparing to conduct a tactical movement. A soldier with several soundproofing and camouflage deficiencies must be inspected.
TASK STANDARD: In five minutes, the inspector must identify all soundproofing and camouflage deficiencies.
SUBTASKS AND STANDARDS:
1. The inspector must identify all camouflage deficiencies to include:
a. Proper application of camouflage paint to all exposed areas (face, hands, neck).
b. Outline of helmet, weapon, and equipment is broken up using available materials.
c. All glossy or bright equipment is camouflaged or removed.
2. The inspector must identify all soundproofing deficiencies to include:
a. Metal to metal contact on load bearing equipment (LBE), weapon, and magazines.
b. Canteens are full.
SQUAD/PLATOON MOVEMENT COMPETITION
This training requires varying terrain and at least a one kilometer by 500 meter lane. The competition trains squads and platoons on several tasks to include: (1) employment of movement techniques and formations, (2) use of hand and arm signals, (3) movement as a member of a fire team, and (4) individual movement techniques.
TASK: Move Tactically
CONDITIONS: The squad or platoon is tasked to initiate movement using a traveling movement technique. As the unit continues movement, the leader receives information via FM from the lane OIC/evaluator which will require changes in movement techniques and formations. For example, the squad leader will be told that "contact is possible", resulting in the movement technique changing from traveling to traveling overwatch. The cue to change movement formations would be derived from FM 7-8, page 2-31 for a squad and page 2-37 for a platoon. To cue a change in a platoon formation, the OIC/evaluator would inform the platoon leader, "The enemy situation is vague, but contact is expected from the front." The proper response by the platoon would be to employ a "Vee" formation. The squad or platoon leader is not allowed to issue verbal commands, requiring all information to be disseminated using hand and arm signals.
TASK STANDARD: The squad or platoon negotiates the entire lane employing the correct movement technique and formation as directed by the lane OIC/evaluator.
TRAINING NOTES AND PROCEDURES:
1. This training requires extensive trainup, especially by the squad and platoon leaders who have to memorize (and internalize) the standards for the movement techniques and formations outlined in FM 7-8 and ARTEP 7-8 MTP. Hand and arm signals have to be practiced and soldiers must know distances to keep the proper intervals when movement techniques change (e.g., 20 meters to 50 meters when changing from traveling to traveling overwatch).
2. The training requires at least two evaluators (the platoon leader and platoon sergeant or company commander and first sergeant). A scoring sheet is required. Scoring should be based on the number of "GOs" for each formation and technique. Additional points can be awarded if the leader, through terrain analysis, changes a movement formation correctly without being prompted by the OIC/evaluator.[/i]
SOLDIER STEALTH AND UNOBSERVED MOVEMENT LANE
Most soldiers do not understand the discipline and patience required to move with stealth. As any soldier who has graduated from sniper school will tell you, it is difficult work which requires training. This is a very simple lane which requires minimum resources and is structured after the Army Sniper School. Having not graduated from the school, the best source for training information would be unit school-trained snipers.
TASK: Perform Stealthful and Unobserved Individual Movement
CONDITIONS: All combat equipment, less rucksack, is carried. The soldier is provided ten minutes to ensure he is soundproofed. He is given a clearly marked lane in which to move (no more than 200 meters). Two to three "listening posts" are positioned along the first 100 meters of the lane. For the listening posts the OPFOR have their backs to the lane, no less than 50 meters and not to exceed 100 meters and cannot observe the moving soldier. However, the soldier may be able to observe the OPFOR. A marker will be emplaced to designate the last 100 meters, at which time the soldier must move unobserved by an observation post to the endpoint which is clearly visible to the evaluated soldier. The final 100 meters will not be significantly restricted nor will it be marked. The evaluator notifies the OPFOR to occupy the observation post and begin observation of the lane via FM radio. The observation post is not occupied until the evaluated soldier identifies a route and begins movement. The soldier may or may not be able to see the observation post. This exercise is conducted during daylight conditions.
TASK STANDARD: The soldier completes the first 100 meters of the lane without being compromised by the listening posts and the final 100 meters without being observed by the observation post.
TRAINING NOTES AND PROCEDURES:
1. This training puts a lot of pressure on the evaluator because he has to be as stealthful as the evaluated soldier. A technique is to provide the listening posts (LP) with PRC 126/7s and when the LP hears the evaluated soldier, they report the compromise to the lane OIC. The OIC could be located at the endpoint of the first 100 meters. The LP can describe over the radio exactly what he heard. The evaluated soldier links up with the lane OIC at the endpoint of the first 100 meters and begins the second phase of the lane. The observation post can call the lane OIC when he observes the evaluated soldier.
2. Both lanes need to be fairly wide to allow the soldier to determine his route, rather than having the route provided for him. Also, as soldiers move through the lane, paths may be made. As a result, the lane may have to be "refurbished" with dry limbs and other natural obstacles for stealthful movement.
3. Clearly, this is time consuming training and should be included in a round-robin. The same type of lane can be used for squads and even platoons.
SQUAD/PLATOON MOVEMENT COMPETITION
This training pits squads or platoons against one another in a battle of patience, discipline, tactical knowledge, and some cunning. It requires about a square kilometer of varying terrain which is constrained by clearly identifiable control measures. Ideally, the terrain is enclosed by roads and trails which are out of bounds. The concept is simple: The squad or platoon which identifies the opposing unit first, without being compromised or violating any of the rules of engagement wins.
TASK: Locate Squad/Platoon-sized Element
CONDITIONS: The units are given the area of operation, objectives on the far end of the lane, and respective start points. The leader is provided 30 minutes to develop a plan to identify the other unit, and at the same time move to a designated objective on the far end of the lane. Notification that the opposing unit is identified must be made via FM communication to the OIC. Each unit has one observer/controller. All combat equipment, less rucksacks and NODs, are required. The training is conducted during daylight conditions.
TASK STANDARD: Within two hours, the squad/platoon must reach their assigned objective and identify the opposing unit without compromise or violation of good tactical judgement or the rules of engagement.
TRAINING NOTES AND PROCEDURES:
1. This exercise has the potential to be a "free for all" or just bad training, unless precise rules of engagement are established and sound tactical judgement is enforced. Otherwise, it is an opportunity for squad or platoon leaders to analyze terrain and command and control their units while engaging in honest competition.
2. The time limit established in the task standards was a "best guess." It may be too much or not enough. However, the important aspect is to get the unit moving (tactically) while giving the leader the latitude to position observation/listening posts or any other technique which is tactically feasible. (The litmus test is: Would you do this in combat? The correct answer to the question would preclude leaders from sending all their soldiers out individually to find the opposing force.) Given this, it should be a requirement for a leader (either team, squad, or platoon leader and or platoon sergeant) to observe and call in identification of the opposing force.
DRILL TRAINING: WHEN THE ENEMY FINDS YOU FIRST
Sometimes the enemy is going to find you first. Though not the ideal situation, good drills can make the chance contact work in your favor. This is particularly true when the intent of the operation (as in a search and attack) is to ultimately kill the enemy. As defined in FM 7-8, a drill is "a collective action rapidly executed without applying a deliberate planning process." Drills are a trained response to enemy actions or leaders' orders. The "response" must be continually reinforced and trained. It is unreasonable to believe that rapidly executed responses can be inculcated in our soldiers with training every two or three months. The following "low cost" drills can be trained at anytime with or without resources, weapons, or equipment.
These drills can be initiated anytime with either individual soldiers or as a squad or platoon. The standards for react to contact are clearly outlined in ARTEP 7-8 Drill. However, the purpose of the "BANG DRILL" is to execute the individual and collective intricacies of the drill in a non-tactical environment. The associated standards that the leader expects must be clear to the soldier and unit and outlined in an SOP. The SUBTASKS AND STANDARDS will focus on those intricacies.
TASK: React to Contact
CONDITIONS: The individual soldier, squad, or platoon is in a garrison or field environment. The team, squad, or platoon leader initiates the drill by announcing "BANG." The soldiers may or may not have individual equipment and weapons.
TASK STANDARD: The soldier executes his role in the battle drill and/or the unit collectively executes the drill.
SUBTASKS AND STANDARDS:
1. Immediately upon hearing "BANG," soldiers assume the prone position and simulate returning fire in the cardinal direction provided by the leader.
2. The leader announces the desired rate of fire for the suppression and soldier does the following:
a. For a sustained rate of fire, M249 and M60 gunners count four seconds between six to nine round bursts. For example, the soldier will announce the following: "BURST, one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, BURST." The M16 rifleman counts four seconds between each round fired.
b. For a rapid rate of fire, M249 and M60 gunners count two seconds between burst and the M16 rifleman counts one second between rounds fired.
c. The M203 gunner announces, "One round 40mm center sector."
3. The leader instructs an individual soldier, "your magazine is empty." The soldier announces "changing magazines," and the soldier's buddy announces "picking up the rate of fire."
4. The leader announces to the unit, "the M60 is down." The M249 gunners announce "picking up the rate of fire."
5. The leader announces to the unit, "the M60 gunner is dead." The assistant gunner announces, "taking the gun." The leader announces to the unit, "the AG is down." The nearest rifleman announces, "taking the gun." Everytime the leader announces that "the M60 is down or the gunner dead," the other soldiers automatically pick up the rate of fire. The same actions should take place for the M249 and M203.