Special Forces Combat Recon Manual
Republic of Vietnam
POI 7658, Patrolling FTX
Prepared by Project (B-52) Delta
- Attached are "Reconnaissance Tips of the Trade" prepared by Detachment B-52. Commanders of all units are encouraged to disseminate, widely, the information contained therein. The information presented in the attached "Recon Tips" is very appropriate for use in unit and individual training of US and indigenous personnel. Such information can be of significant value to units engaged in conventional patrolling as well as special reconnaissance units.
- Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group (Abn), 1st Special Forces assembled the original document. Was assisted by personnel of B-52, MACV Recondo School and 5th SFGA Combat Orientation Course School, who contributed from their knowledge and experience. Special credit is given to MSG Norman A. Downey, 1 SG, CCC Recon Company for his assistance.
- This document has been reviewed and annotated by Headquarters, 5th
Special Forces Group (Abn), 1st
Special Forces. For easy use and reference the document has been organized
General Tips of the Trade
- While on a mission, minimize fatigue because tired become careless.
- If you show confidence, your team will have confidence.
- If the team leader loses his temper it will effect his judgment. Keep cool and think ahead, always keeping an alternate plan in mind. Don't be afraid to take advice from your team member.
- Team work, the key to success, only comes through constant practice and training. Realism must be injected into all phases of training such as zeroing of weapons at targets in the jungle, use of live training aids for PW snatch or ambush practice, etc.
- Teams that have a good physical training program hove fewer health problems.
- Make sure. that personnel take salt tablets as a preventative measure rather than waiting until collapse is imminent. One tablet in a canteen of water is a good way to take salt, especially on very hot and humid days. Only when plenty of water is available!!!
- If your mission calls for emplacing a mine in a road, ensure that an extra fuse is taken along, in case one is lost.
- All personnel should wear loose fitting and untailored clothing on field operations. Tight fighting clothing often tears or rips allowing easy access to exposed parts of the body for mosquitoes and leeches.
- Each team leader should have a pre-mission and post-mission checklist to ensure that nothing is left behind.
- Use tact when reprimanding your personnel, especially indigenous team members. If possible, take the man aside to criticize him. This enables him to reason positively to the criticism, since he will not feel ridiculed and lose self confidence.
- Do not hang clothing or bandanas on green bamboo if you plan on wearing it afterwards. The fuzz on the bamboo is just like itching powder.
- Conduct English classes for your indigenous personnel, especially interpreters. Conduct classes for your U.S. Personnel on your indigenous team members dialect.
- Pre-set frequencies on the PBC-25 so that a quick turn of the dials will put you on the desired frequency. This is especially helpful at night when you want to avoid a light.
- Carry CS powder in plastic insect repellent or lube oil bottles. It is difficult to put CS powder in them but it is definitely worth the effort. Sprinkle CS powder in and on empty "C" ration cans and food containers. This will prevent animals from digging them up once you have buried them.
- Tape the muzzle of your weapon to keep out water and dirt. Leave lower portion of slits open for ventilation.
- Use one magazine full of tracer during infiltration and exfiltration. If taken under fire during infiltration or exfiltration the tracers can be used to identify enemy positions to friendly air assets.
- The last three rounds in each magazine should be tracer. This reminds the firer that he needs a loaded magazine.
- Replace the cartridge in the chamber of your weapon each morning "quietly". Condensation may cause a malfunction.
- Oil the selector switch on your weapon daily and work the switch back and forth, especially during rainy season. This will prevent the common occurrence of a stuck switch.
- Always carry a small vial/tube of lubricating oil for your weapon.
- Always carry your weapon with the selector switch on "safe".
- To improve noise discipline, tape all sling swivels or remove them from weapons.
- During extraction do not fire weapons from helicopters after leaving the LZ because a gunship may be passing under you without your knowledge.
- Do not retrieve your first expended magazine during contact, because it will consume valuable time.
- Check all magazines before going on an operation, to ensure they are clean and properly loaded.
- Never assume that your weapon is clean enough on an operation. CLEAN YOUR WEAPON DAILY.
- Place magazines upside down with bullets pointed away from your body in the ammo pouches. This will keep dirt and water out of them and if rounds go off due to enemy fire, you won't be injured by your own ammo.
Simple can be effective.
Load Bearing Equipment Tips
- Be sure that all snaps and buckles are taped. Do not use paper tape.
- Place triangular bandages (in original containers) in the ammo pouches. This makes it easier to remove magazines, and increases the first-aid capability of your unit.
- Cut the front corners of ammo pouches 1/2"-3/4" to make it easier to remove magazines during the rainy season. Also, have 2 magazines with pull tabs in each pouch. If they are available, use canteen covers to carry magazines rather than ammo pouches. They hold more magazines, are easier to open, and you won't need so many pouches hanging from your web gear.
- Tie a string or lanyard between M-79 and web belt so you won't lose it when firing the M-16.
- Keep your UPC-10 secured to your harness during use. If lost with the beeper on, it will negate all other signals on that frequency until the battery runs down.
- Always carry some type of knife on patrol.
- Snap links should be secured around the shoulder harness, NOT on the cloth loops.
- For survival, each individual should carry, in a first aid pouch on the harness, one tube of bouillon cubes, one tube of salt tablets, and one bottle of purification tablets. One bouillon tube in one canteen of water, when dissolved will give energy for one or two days.
- All team members should carry a mixture of fragmentation, CS and WP
grenades on their belts for the
- Fragmentation grenades are good for inflicting casualties,
- CS grenades are ideal for stopping or slowing down enemy troops pursuing your team. In addition they will stop dogs from pursuing you in wet weather when CS powder will dissipate due to wetness.
- WP grenades have a great psychological effect against enemy troops and con be used for the same purpose as CS Grenades. The use of CS and WP at the some time will more than double their effectiveness.
- Smoke grenades should be carried in or on the pack and not on the web gear or harness. You don't fight with smoke grenades and if you need one, 99 times out of 100, you will have time to get it from your pack.
- Fold paper tape through the rings of grenades and tape the ring to
the body of the grenade. The paper
tape will tear for fast use, where plastic or cloth tape will not. Also it
keeps the ring open for your finger,
stops noise and prevent snagging.
- Camouflage grenades, using black or OD spray paint.
- Do not band the pins on the grenades flat. The rings are too hard to pull when needed.
- Make continuous daily checks on all grenades, when on patrol, to ensure that the primer is not coming unscrewed.
- Each team should carry one thermite grenade for destruction of equipment, either friendly or enemy.
- Do not carry grenades on the upper portion of your harness because the enemy will shoot at them,trying to inflict several casualties with one shoot.
- Sew a long slim pocket on the side of your rucksack to accommodate the long antenna.
- Ensure that the snap link on your rucksack is snapped through the loop in the upper portion of your rucksacks carrying straps so that you won't lose it during extraction if you have to snap it on a ladder or McGuire Rig.
- Insect repellent leaks and spills easily, therefore, isolate it from your other equipment in the rucksack. Also squeeze air from repellent container and screw on cap firmly.
- An indigenous poncho and/or a round sheet along with a jungle sweater and a rain jacket are sufficient for sleeping.
- A claymore bag, sewn onto the top flap of the rucksack is extremely useful to carry binoculars, extra hand sets, camera or URC-10, prepared or any other special equipment. This gives easy access to those items while on patrol or when you have to ditch the rucksack.
- Tie smoke grenades on rucksack between packets.
- Always use the water from canteens in or on your rucksack before using water in the canteens on your belt. This will ensure a supply of water should you lose your rucksack.
- Test straps on the rucksack before packing for each patrol. Always carry some parachute cord to repair strops on patrol.
- Use waterproof bag in rucksack to protect equipment while on patrol. This is extremely important during the rainy season.
Recon Patrol Tips
- When making VRs always mark every LZ within your AO and near it, on your map. Plan the route of march so that you will always know how far and on what azimuth the nearest LZ is located.
- Don't cut off too much of the map showing your recon zone (RZ). Always designate at least 5-10 kilometers surrounding your RZ as running room.
- Base the number of canteens per map upon the weather and availability of water in the AO. Select water points when planning your route of march.
- Check all team members pockets prior to departing homebase for passes, ID cards, lighters with insignias, rings with insignias, etc. Personnel should only carry dog tags while on patrol.
- If the team uses a grenadier armed with rifle grenades, have him place a crimped cartridge as the first round in each magazine carried. After firing the grenade, he can use the rifle normally. When the magazine is empty and a new one inserted the grenadier con then quickly fire another grenade.
- Always carry maps and note books in waterproof containers.
- Use a pencil to make notes during an operation. Ink smears when it becomes wet, whereas lead does not.
- Inspect each team member's uniform and equipment, especially radios and strobe lights, prior to departure on a mission.
- If you use the Hanson Rig, adjust your harness and webbing before leaving on patrol.
- During the rainy season take extra cough medicine and codeine on patrol.
- The location and proper use of morphins should be known by all team members.
- All survival equipment should be tied or secured to the uniform or harness to prevent loss if pockets become torn, etc.
- Each US or key team member should carry maps, notebooks, and SOI in the some pocket of each uniform, for hasty removal by other team members if one becomes a casualty.
- Take paper matches to the field in waterproof container. Do not take cigarette lighters as they make too much noise when opening and closing.
- Tie panel and mirror to pocket flap to prevent losing.
- Always carry rifle cleaning equipment on operation, i.e., brush, oil and at least one cleaning rod.
- Each team should hove designated primary and alternate rally points at all times. The team leader is responsible for ensuring that each team member knows the azimuth and approximate distance to each rally point/LZ.
- Never take pictures of team members while on patrol. If the enemy captures the camera, they will have gained invaluable intelligence.
- At least two pen lights should be taken by each team.
- While on patrol, move 20 minutes and halt and listen for 10 minutes. Listen half the amount of time you move. Move and holt at irregular intervals.
- Stay alert at all times. You are never 100% safe until you are bock home.
- Never break limbs or branches on trees, bushes, or palms, or you will leave a very clear trail for the enemy to follow.
- Put insect/leech repellent around tops of boots, on pants fly, belt, and cuffs to stop leeches and insects.
- Do most of your moving during the morning hours to conserve water, however never be afraid to move at night, especially if you think your RON has been discovered.
- Continually check your point man to ensure that he is on the correct azimuth. Do not run a compass course on patrol, change direction regularly.
- If followed by trackers, change direction of movement often and attempt to evade or ambush your trackers, they make good PWs.
- Do not ask for a "fix" from FAC unless absolutely necessary. This will aid in the prevention of compromise.
- Force yourself to cough whenever a high performance aircraft passes over. It will clear your throat, ease tension, and cannot be heard. If you must cough, cough in your hat or neckerchief to smother the noise.
- Never take your web gear off, day or night. In an area where it is necessary to put the jungle sweater on at night, no more than two patrol members at a time should do so. Take the sweaters off the next morning to prevent cold and overheating.
- If you change socks, especially in the rainy season, try to wait until RON and have no more than two patrol members change socks at one time. Never take off both boots at the some time.
- When a team member starts to come down with immersion foot, stop in a secure position, remove injured persons boot, dry off his feet, put foot powder on his feet and place a ground sheet or poncho over his feet so that they can dry out. Continued walking will make matters worse, ensuring that the man will become a casualty, thereby halting the further progress of the team.
- Desenex or vaseline rubbed on the feet during the rainy season or in wet weather will aid in the prevention of immersion foot. It will also help avoid chapping if put on the hands.
- Gloves will protect hands from thorns and aid in holding a weapon when it heats up from firing.
- Place a plastic cover on your PRC-25 to keep it dry in the rainy season.
- When using a wire tap device, never place the batteries in the set until needed. If the batteries are carried in the device they will lose power even though the switches are in the off position.
- If batteries go dead or weak do not throw them away while on patrol. Small batteries can be recharged by placing them in arm pits or between the legs of the body. A larger battery can gain added life by sleeping with the battery next to the body. Additional life can also be gained by placing batteries in the sun.
- If possible, carry on extra hand set for the PRC-25 and ensure that it is wrapped in a waterproof container.
- Always carry a spare PRC-25 battery, but do not remove the spare from its plastic container prior to use or it may lose power.
- Do not send "same" or "no charge" when reporting team location. Always send your coordinates. Keep radio traffic at a minimum.
- Avoid over confidence, it leads to carelessness. Just because you have seen no sign of the enemy for 3 or 4 days does not mean that he isn't there or hasn't seen you.
- A large percentage of patrols have been compromised due to poor noise discipline.
- Correct all team and/or individual errors as they occur or happen.
- All personnel should camouflage faces and backs of hands in the morning, at noon and at RON or ambush positions.
- Never cook or build heating fires on patrol. No more than two persons should eat chow at any one time. The rest of the team should be on security.
- When team stops, always check out 40-60 meters from the perimeter.
- All team members should take notes while on an operation and compare them nightly. Each man should keep a list of tips and lessons learned and add to them after each operation.
- Each man on a team must continually observe the man in front of him and the man behind him, in addition to watching for other team members' arm and hand signals.
- A recon team should never place more than one mine, AP, or AT, in one small section of a road or trail at a time. If more than one is set out the team is just resupplying the enemy, because when a mine goes off, a search will be made of the immediate area for others and they will surely be found.
- During the dry season, do not urinate on rocks or leaves, but rather in a hole or small crevice. The wet spot may be seen, and the odor will carry further.
- When carrying the M-79 on patrol, use a retainer band around the stock to hold the safety on safe while moving.
- When crossing streams, observe first for activity, then send a point man across to check the area. Then cross the rest of the patrol, with each taking water as he crosses. If in a danger area, have all personnel cross prior to getting water. Treat all trails (old and new), streams, and open areas as danger areas.
- Carry one extra pair of socks, plus foot powder, on patrol, especially during the rainy season. In addition, each team member should carry a large sized pair of socks to place over his boots when walking or crossing a trail or stream.
- During rest halts don't take your pack off or leave your weapon alone. During long breaks, such as for noon chow, don't take your pack off until your perimeter has been checked for at least 40 to 60 meters out for 360 degrees. During breaks throw nothing on the ground. Either put trash in your pocket or spray it with CS powder and bury it.
- In most areas, the enemy will send patrols along roads and major trails between the hours of 0700-1000 and from 1500-1900. Since most of the enemy's vehicular movement is at night, a team that has a road watch mission should stay no less than 200 meters from the road during the day and move up to the road just prior to last light. When the enemy makes a security sweep along a road, usually twice a week, he normally does not check further than 200 meters to each flank.
- If you hear people speaking, move close enough to hear what they are saying. The reason is obvious. The VN team leader should make notes.
- While on patrol, don't take the obvious course of action and don't set a pattern in your activities, such as, always fuming to the left when "button hooking to ambush your own back trail.
- A dead enemy's shirt and contents in pockets, plus pack, if he has one, are normally more valuable than his weapon.
Grenades not ready for combat (taped to web gear improperly)
rings not secured for safety.
Forward Air Controller (FAC) Tips
- The FAC is second in importance to your weapon while on combat operation. Learn all you can about FAC procedures. Proper use of FAC support could mean the difference between whether or not you return from a patrol.
- When making a FAC VR take a map that covers the AO from the FOB to your RZ.
- Never fly directly over your RZ (down the middle). Fly along the side of your RZ so you can observe as much as possible in your RZ.
- Whenever you hear an aircraft, ensure that your radio is turned on, they may be trying to contact you.
- The FAC is severely limited in bad weather and the rainy season, plan for this.
- The average time for reaction to an immediate request is 15-45 minutes.
- The tactical aircraft may have mixed ordinance or, if it's a diverted aircraft, the ordinance someone else has requested for a pre-planned target.
- If a patrol, not in contact with the enemy, requests an air strike against a specific target, request appropriate ordinance to destroy the target.
- Don't use the PRC-25 as a homing station for the FAC because VC have homing equipment for FM radios. Instead, use the radio to direct FAC to your position.
- The FAC must know your position on the ground before he will clear any strike craft on your target.
- The Mirror is the way of best signaling the FAC to mark your position. If the sun is not out, use the clock system with your panels.
- If the sun is obscured by clouds you can still signal an aircraft by placing your strobe light against your signal mirror. The pilot can more readily see the flashes from the strobe light as they are reflected from the mirror.
- Do not cut your signal panel if it will make it difficult to see from the air.
- When using the transponder or beacon never point the antenna at the aircraft. The antenna should be parallel to the aircraft.
- Use smoke, flares, pen guns, and tracers as a last resort for marking your position.
- Pilots should identify the color of smoke used by teams on the ground after it has been thrown. The team does not identify the color to the pilots. Violet and red smoke are the best colors to use.
- If contact is made with enemy and you are in a dense jungle, use WP grenades to mark your location for the FAC. Normally the regular red and violet smoke grenades are not sufficient.
- There are several methods of marking your location at night. You can
use a flashlight, strobe light,
flares or WP grenades.
- The flashlight should be placed inside of a M-79 barrel and aimed directly at the aircraft. This shields the light from observation by the enemy.
- Tape or paint the sides of the strobe light to make it more directional and to reduce illumination from the sides.
- Notify the aircraft before firing a pen flare since a flare resemble a tracer. Never fire them directly at the aircraft.
- When directing a FAC to your position or target area use the clock system. NOTE: The nose of the aircraft is the twelve o'clock position.
- Don't use AZ readings to direct aircraft until the FAC has your position located. Once located use AZ reading in degrees to your target and distance in meters.
- Always give the FAC a complete description of your target and target area.
- Make adjustments for the FAC after each round and after each aircraft makes a pass.
- Give the track that you request, always try to put strike across your front. Do not call air in with its strike track coming directly across your position, from the front or rear. NOTE: A strike that is a fraction too soon or late could land in your position. IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE.
- A combat sky-spot can be used as an immediate or pre-planned strike. You must give him an eight digit coordinate and a track for the aircraft. NOTE: If possible, have the FAC determine the patrol's location before the sky spot makes a strike.
- Whenever possible, try to give a BDA (bomb damage assessment) to the FAC.
- A FAC can be used effectively to direct a team in contact to LZ's. A FAC can also provide an airstrike to prep an exfil LZ for a team before it reaches the LZ. This is a good technique to employ in dangerous areas.
- A FAC can be used to break off contact while a patrol is waiting for strike craft. A low pass or a pass firing a marking round may make the enemy think they are being attacked, thus causing them to withdraw.
- When directing Shadow over your target do not let him fly directly over the targets.
- Ask Shadow to drop a flare and direct him to the target from that flare. Make adjustments from his tracer impact area to insure that you get full target coverage.
Poor Recon technique (stripes, no camo, and easily identified U-S American).
Where is his weapon?
Tent pegs are aluminum and painted orange
making them easy to see during daylight hours and
remove at night once you have marked there positions.
Remain Over Night Tips
- Practice proper RON procedures when your team is training, even if you are on rifle range. Take advantage of all training opportunities. Many training areas are not in what we would call "safe zones".
- Select a tentative site for RON, from your map, at least two hours in advance.
- Deviate from your route of march often. Never move in a straight line.
- After passing a suitable RON site "fish hook" and move into your selected position so that you can observe your own trail.
- When in position, personnel should keep their equipment on and remain alert until the perimeter has been checked for 360 degrees at a distance of no less than 40 to 60 meters.
- Packs should not be taken off until it is dark.
- Before dark each team member should memorize the azimuth and distance to the trees and bushes around his RON.
- When deploying the team for RON, place the point man in a position opposite the most likely avenue of approach to lead the team out in case of emergency.
- If a team is within range of friendly artillery, and has preplanned concentrations, azimuths should be taken (OT line) to be concentrations, noting distances, prior to night fall. Nearby large trees or propositioned stakes will aid as hasty reference points for calling in artillery at night.
- If it is necessary to send in nightly "SITREP", do not send the message from your RON position. Send your present location but add that you will RON 100 meters east or 200 meters north, etc. This will confuse the enemy as to your exact location in the event he has monitored your transmission with DF equipment. Use your SOI.
- Keep transmissions to a minimum. It is better to send the location of your RON position the next morning, after you have moved out. The enemy may monitor your traffic but he will not know in what direction you plan to move.
- Do not send radio transmissions from your RON site unless they are necessary. Be prepared to move if you do send radio transmissions.
- Prior to dark, the team leader should tell each man the primary and alternate rally points.
- One half of the team should have their compasses set on the primary rally point and the other half on the alternate. If the enemy comes from the direction of the primary rally point, the man with the azimuth of the alternate rally point set on his compass can lead the team out.
- A buddy system should be established in case casualties are taken at night. Each man will take care of another man and his equipment if one is wounded, injured, or killed.
- The pack or rucksack can be used as a pillow, however, ensure that the carrying straps are in the "up" position for easy insertion of the arms in case of rapid withdrawal.
- It is permissible to unhook the web gear or harness but it should not be taken completely off, at night or at any time during the entire stay in the field.
- If a person coughs or talks in his sleep, make him sleep with a gag in his mouth.
- US team members should not "bunch up" or sleep next to each other. One grenade or automatic burst from a weapon could get them all. Each team member should be able to touch each other without moving from position.
- Check your RON position to form a peak in the canopy for using the strobe light to direct "Shadow" at night.
- Know what your next day's plans are to be before settling down for the night.
- When placing claymores around your RON they should be placed one at a time by two men, one man emplacing the mine while the other stands guard. Never emplace claymores in a position that prevents you from having visual contact with it.
- Claymores should be emplaced so that the blast parallels the team, ensuring that the firing wire does not lead straight back to the team position from the mine. If the claymore are turned a round by the enemy they will not point at the team.
- Determine, in advance, who will fire each claymore and who will give the command or signal.
- In most instances it is better not to put out claymores around RON
positions but rather to rely on the
use of CS grenades for the following reasons:
- When claymores have been put out, and the enemy is discovered to be moving in on the team, the team will have a tendency to stay in place too long, waiting for the enemy to get within the killing zone.
- If the team discovers the enemy moving in on them, the enemy will normally be "on line", not knowing the exact position of the team. If no claymores are out, predesignated team members throw CS grenades in the direction of the enemy force. After the gas begins to disperse the team can withdraw. When the enemy is hit with the CS he will normally panic. If he has gas masks with him, and puts them on, he can no longer see clearly. If he does not have them he will run away and may even fire his weapon indiscriminately, causing overall confusion and panic. In either case, the team has a good chance to escape, unharmed and unseen.
- If a claymore is triggered, a grenade thrown, or a rifle fired, the enemy may flank the team and box it in.
- All team members should be awake, alert, and ready to move, prior to the first light.
- Another check of the perimeter, for 360 degrees, at a distance of at least 40 to 60 meters, should be made prior to moving out or prior to retrieving claymores.
- A thorough check should be made of the RON site to ensure that nothing is left behind and that the entire site is sterile.
- The team leader must make sure that each man takes his daily malaria tablet.
- Never eat chow or smoke cigarettes in your RON position. The odor of the food or tobacco gives your position away.
- Be alert when leaving your RON. If you have been seen, you will probably be attacked or ambushed within 300 meters.
- Team leaders should check themselves to ensure they are not forming the common habit of constantly turning to the left, or right, when fish hooking.
- Habits are easily formed, as mentioned previously around certain times of the day. For example, some always move into an RON site at 1830 hours or into a noon break position at exactly 100 hours each day. If the enemy has been observing you, he will take note of this and will plan an ambush for you.
Breaking Out of Encirclement Tips
- General: Too many times Recon Teams which have not planned for or practiced
methods to "break out"
from the encirclement have been encircled by the enemy. The following methods
and suggestions have
worked for others in the past and it is hoped that this will be of assistance
to you in the future if you find
yourself and your team in such a situation.
- Team encircled, the sooner you attempt to break out the better chance you will have to do so effectively and with the least amount of casualties. The longer you wait the stronger the enemy becomes.
- Preparations for breaking out of encirclement: Plans must be mode prior
to the break out attempt to
take care of the following:
- Rucksacks and equipment left behind must be destroyed by someone.
- Dead must be left behind. Someone must remove any classified documents such as SOIs, notebooks, maps, etc.
- One or two persons, depending upon the size of the team must have the mission, during the break out assault, of rear security. This will include assisting any personnel who may be wounded before or during the attempt. Additionally they should recover documents from personnel killed during the break out movement. No attempt should be mode to try to take KlAs with the team.
- Keep in mind that the successful completion of your mission depends on getting the information back to headquarters. All personnel must be reminded of the important information the team has observed.
- Formation to use: The most effective method a small element can use
(5 to 12 man teams) is to form
into a pyramid configuration, with the base of the pyramid leading. The following
actions should take
- The teams forms into position.
- CS rounds from M-79s and/or CS grenades are fired or thrown to the flanks.
- WP grenades are thrown to the rear.
- A claymore mine and/or grenades are fired or thrown in the direction the team will move.
- Immediately after the claymore and/or grenades go off to the front, the team moves out.
- The first element of line will fire on full automatic. The others hold fire.
- When the first elements' magazines are empty, the second element moves through them and continues the fire.
- When the second element has emptied their magazines the first element will have reloaded and will pass through them, taking up the assault but will only fire on semi-automatic.
- Once the team starts to move it must move rapidly, but not run, and never stop until completely out of the encirclement.
- Supporting fires: Artillery, helicopter gunships and TAG Air, if available,
should be used to assist your
break out attempt. These are discussed below:
- Supporting artillery fire, within range, can be effectively employed to pave your way out of an encirclement or near encirclement. When foul or inclement weather prevents your use of helicopter or TAC air for support, you must use artillery if available. Artillery support, when available, should also be requested at the first sign of trouble for many times it can be firing in your direction before air support can arrive on station to assist you. It is a common practice, as you learned in basic training, that when you are subjected to incoming mortar or artillery fire, you move out of the area as quickly as possible. Enemy forces follow this same doctrine. When you desire to break out, with the aid of artillery, first have the fires placed completely around your position, then having selected your desired heading, "walk" the artillery in front of you. This will effectively lead you out of the danger area and you may even pick up a shell shocked or wounded PW on your way out.
- Helicopter gunships can assist you with almost continuous close in fire support, firing directly in front and to the rear during your break out attempt. The effect this fire will have is dependent upon the density of the vegetation, location of your team, and whether or not your supporting aircraft crews can see you or your signals. You may have to direct their fire by adjusting from the strike of the rounds and rockets.
- Tactical airstrikes can assist you in your attempt to break out of an encirclement. To do this, call for bombs in the direction you desire to move. Since the enemy will get as close to the team as possible to avoid airstrikes, it is preferred to call in the bombs first and then hove the TAC Air fire his machine guns and 20mm in front of you as you move out. They can place machine gun fire much closer to you than bombs.
PW Snatch Tips
- General: Once your recon team has been selected for a PW
snatch mission and given a recon zone the following actions should be taken
in addition to those normally taken for a recon mission.
- Study the map to find a possible location to conduct your PW snatch within your RZ.
- Conduct a visual reconnaissance to familiarize yourself with the terrain, select LZ's, E&E routes, reference points, record any new trails in RZ and pick tentative PW snatch positions.
- Finalize plans for primary and alternate LZ's and routes of march to and from PW snatch location you selected while on VR. If you have any photos or have taken some during your VR, study them carefully.
- Assign duties for each patrol member and draw equipment needed both for training and for actual preparation.
- AWPRT-r and AMPRR-9 or HT1 radios should be taken for "in-position" transmission and signaling.
- Flight time to and from the target area considering the time recovery aircraft will have "on target" should be remembered by the team leader when he selects the number of personnel and helicopters it will take for insertion and extraction. Plan the altitude of the insertion and extraction LZ's with the load carrying capacity of the aircraft in mind.
- Training: Practice rehearsals and put as much realism into your training
as possible. If you are going to handcuff, gag and blindfold your prisoner
then do it during your training. If you plan to carry your prison, don't
carry him just 20 or 30 meters as is commonly done but as far as your proposed
- Designate men to accomplish the following missions:
- Handcuff, blindfold, search and gag prisoner.
- Treat and bandage prisoner's wounds.
- Carry or assist him.
- Carry his equipment and weapon.
- Cover the tell tale signs at the ambush site.
- Take care of friendly WIA's or MIA's to include their weapon and equipment.
- Take point, rear security and who will be alternates in each class.
- Make security check of extraction LZ.
- Stand guard over prisoner at LZ.
- to get on board exfil aircraft first.
- Lift prisoner into aircraft.
- Secure prisoner to floor of aircraft.
- Ride out with prisoner.
- Bring out prisoner's equipment.
- Other actions that need to be practiced,
explained and rehearsed are:
- Action taken by each team member if discovered in snatch position.
- Movement into position.
- Signals to be used.
- Concealment of personnel and equipment.
- Employment of claymores.
- Action to be taken if the team's preparations are not completed in time.
- Action to be taken if inclement weather moves in preventing any possible extraction attempt.
- Designate men to accomplish the following missions:
- Considerations for selecting the location of the PW SNATCH
SITE. Generally speaking there are three different locations, a road, a trail
and a village or living complex. The advantages and disadvantages are as
- Location on a Road:
- Vehicles and/or troops will pass by thus ensuring a possible target.
- A lone messenger on foot or riding a bicycle is very possible.
- Personnel moving on a road are not, normally, very familiar with the surrounding terrain or area. hampering their pursuit of the team in case of compromise.
- Sites can normally be found which offer long stretches of clear visibility.
- Large formations of troops use roads and normally sweep possible ambush sites with security elements.
- Rapid reinforcement is easily effected.
- Security elements normally check roads for mines and ambushes each morning and evening.
- Stationary security elements are normally positioned every two to five kilometers along all roads.
- Troops and convoys traveling on roads are constantly on the alert for possible ambushes and carry heavy caliber weapons to break them up if they occur.
- Location on a Trail:
- Not so apt to encounter large numbers of enemy troops.
- Advantageous snatch sites are more easily located which will permit good concealment, good vision, hamper the effectiveness of enemy counter fire, and still be close enough to the trail to perform the mission in the least time possible.
- Enemy personnel are not normally as cautious or alert to possible ambushes when moving down a trail.
- The ambushing element can more readily and easily cover up signs that anything happened.
- Rapid and effective enemy pursuit is not as likely as on a road.
- More likely to encounter personnel who are familiar with the local area.
- Dogs, women and children are more likely to be encountered.
- Pre-planned sites/locations for PW snatches are more difficult to locate.
- The enemy can jump off a trail and disappear easily.
- Normally you are right on a trail before being aware of it's presence which could allow for discovery of the team by passing enemy personnel.
- Never attempt a PW snatch from a village or complex unless you have extraction aircraft available which guarantee immediate extraction. The reasons for this are many. First, the individual will soon be missed; second, village dogs will more likely give away your presence; third, if discovered, pursuit will be immediate and the locals know the surrounding terrain much better than you to include any nearby LZ's; fourth, most villages of any importance will have security elements surrounding them and they will normally have established preventative measures to preclude such snatch.
- Other considerations:
- Have at least two extraction LZ's and two rally points selected and ensure that each man knows the azimuth and approximate distance to each before moving into position.
- Select a good ambush site. Do not place an ambush at the spot where you first come up to a road or trail. This can only get you into trouble.
- Always search at least 200 meters along a road or trail and on each flank of your ambush site. Look for major road or trail crossings, bunkers, complexes, outposts, and any other signs of the enemy which might prevent the successful execution of your mission.
- Upon final selection of the actual snatch site, the team leader, should trace a diagram, in the dirt, of the site and point out each team member's position, pertinent terrain features, and ask for questions.
- Prior to moving into the snatch position, be sure your RTO has notified your base station of your intentions.
- Cache your rucksacks prior to moving into the ambush positions. Be sure that the carrying straps are in the "up" position for faster and easier recovery.
- Double check all weapons and essential equipment prior to moving into your final position.
- Try to attempt your PW capture within the first three to four days. The team members will still be in good physical condition, their morale and spirits will be up, thus giving you a much better chance for success.
- Location on a Road:
- Types of PW ambushes: Normally, there are four planned and two unplanned
PW ambusher. Normally
on a PW snatch mission the team leader will select one of the planned types
after considering the
variables of his own personnel and equipment, knowledge of the enemy, weather
and terrain. The team
will practice this type of ambush prior to departing on the mission. In addition
they should rehearse their actions for the two types of unplanned PW ambushes.
The planned and unplanned types are as follows:
- Gas (Planned): The advantages and disadvantages of
using CS Powder or gas are as follows:
- Quickly incapacitates the individual, preventing him from using his weapon accurately.
- Will prevent the use of dogs being used in the pursuit of the friendly element.
- Enemy personnel will have to put on masks to enter the area, which will hamper their vision and therefore their effectiveness.
- The team cannot hide the fact that they were there and that an incident took place.
- The CS powder will cling to the PW's and friendly clothing which may effect the efficiency of the extraction helicopter's crew members if they do not have masks.
- Team members cannot see clearly because of the necessity to wear masks.
- The prospective PW will probably panic when exposed to the gas causing him to run and have to be chased down.
- CS powder is normally dispersed by using explosives which will alert any nearby enemy elements of the team's presence and location.
- Other: When your team is set up for a gas ambush have all personnel place their gas masks on top of their heads. It will only take a couple of seconds to pull the masks over their faces just prior to initiating the ambush.
- Claymore and Explosives (Planned): This is set up
with C4 explosive placed between claymores. Personnel in the
zone of the C4 will be stunned and/or incapacitated while the
claymores will kill and wound the personnel in their zone.
- As normally set up, with C4 spaced between the claymores, the corrosion will incapacitate an individual but not kill him.
- The team can hit a large element.
- Will ensure that the enemy is stopped.
- Will thoroughly disorganize and confuse the element hit, preventing them from reacting effectively.
- The noise of the explosive going off will alert enemy forces of the team's presence and location.
- C4 takes a long time to emplace properly.
- The disturbed soil and vegetation will mark the team's location. This will aid the enemy in his attempts to pick up the team's departure tail.
- The additional weight of the demolitions may hamper swift movement.
- The resulting smoke, rising above the trees and vegetation, could result in enemy mortar fire on the site, if any are located in the general area.
- Silent Weapon (Planned):
Use of a silenced or muffled rifle or pistol.
- The noise from the weapon being discharged is minimal.
- A well executed and placed round will stop an enemy and prevent his returning fire or using his weapon. Care should be taken to hit the intended PW's right arm or shoulder. This should prevent him from returning fire, but will enable him to walk.
- A wounded PW may die of shock or loss of blood before proper treatment can be given.
- A wounded PW will have to be assisted and possibly carried, thus slowing down the team during it's withdrawal from the site.
- Care must be taken not to leave a blood trail.
- A silenced weapon is not normally as reliable as an unsilenced one and in the case of a silenced pistol it would necessitate carrying another weapon, both of which must be available, within easy reach when springing the ambush.
- Fire/Silent Capture (Planned):
- There is little noise to give the team's presence or location away.
- A live and healthy PW is the best kind.
- Disadvantages: There are no significant disadvantages to a no fire/silent capture.
- Chance Contacts (Unplanned): Both the friendly and enemy elements
may see each other at the same time.
- A team must always be prepared to take a PW during a chance contact, especially with a small enemy element.
- If contact is made with a small local or regional force element, they will normally break and run. This is because they seldom carry more than three magazines each for an AK-47. Those who carry the SKS rifle/carbine may have extra rounds in one pouch, making it difficult to reload and of negligible influence upon the outcome of a firefight.
- The team, after firing the initial rounds, should deploy into a defensive posture and look for enemy wounded. If one is located, don't move directly up to him. You may be fired upon or set a grenade thrown at you, forcing you to kill him in self defense. Instead, throw a CS grenade at him. After a few moments in the CS most of the will to resist should be out of his mind and you will have a PW.
- If there are between two to five enemy, attempt to deploy around them asking them to surrender. If, after a few minutes, you have not received desired results, it is better to break contact and move away before reinforcements arrive, remembering that you are in the enemy's territory.
- Hasty ambush (Unplanned): Where the friendly elements may observe
the enemy before being seen and take up a hasty position to capture them.
- There can be no set or prescribed way to set up for a hasty ambush. Each team leader should establish his own SOP.
- A hasty ambush can result in a capture of a PW only it it is practiced and rehearsed to perfection.
- Gas (Planned): The advantages and disadvantages of using CS Powder or gas are as follows:
- Ambush positions and Executing the Ambush:
- Positioning of Personnel: No attempt will be made here to tell you exactly how to emplace your personnel into ambush positions. Whether you have five or twelve team members it is possible to succeed if you have the desire and training. By constant practice and training, using live ammo and training aids, you will come up with the best disposition for your personnel to suit you, your plans, and your team. One of the best references you will have is your own and the teams experiences. Ask other team leaders of their attempts, both successful and unsuccessful, solicite their advice. The final decision is yours. A good point to remember, when selecting personnel for key positions, is that an indigenous team member firing his weapon normally keeps his finger depressed on the trigger until all the rounds are expended.
- If you have an 8 to 12 man team give strong consideration to placing three men on each flank for security and early warning. They will psychologically feel more secure and will normally retain their position if one is wounded, thus better ensuring the successful accomplishment of the mission.
- During a PW snatch, place the M-79 on the flank of the ambush.
- Claymore should be set on each flank of a PW snatch if possible.
- Be patient and wait for the right moment and opportunity when one or two individuals come along the road or trail. Without patience your mission will most likely fail.
- Once you have committed yourself and sprung the ambush, you must be aggressive. By that I mean that you must immediately react. If you have wounded or otherwise halted your prospective PW, you must immediately move to physically secure him. Do not give him a chance to think or react. If you do not do this he will more than likely run or attempt to fire his weapon, forcing you to kill him.
- If an attempted PW snatch fails, in that the individual dies, his body should be completely stripped and his belongings taken back to the S2. The body should then be taken a great distance away and hidden, if at all possible. When the individual turns up missing, the enemy may assume that he has been captured and has talked. This will necessitate the enemy changing his plans and moving his headquarters; when he could have been doing something else.
Don't be conspicuously identified as American.
It is better to be mistakenly identified as another "friendly patrol."
Watch your interval!
Movement Technique Tips
- Movement Technique: There are five basic techniques of movement that
can be employed by small
recon teams to avoid being detected or encircled by enemy forces. Each of
these are explained and
- The Box Technique: This is a simple and effective
method to use and takes very little practice to
employ. From a given point the team moves out on a set azimuth for
specific set number of meters or
paces, for example let's say 35 meters. The team then makes a 90 degree
turn and moves 75 meters, then
another 90 degree turns for 30 meters, another 90 degrees turn for
30 meters, another for 30 meters. You
will have formed a "box". At this point you can do any one of several
things. You can wait in ambush for
your trackers, or pursuers, walk backwards across your old trail, if the vegetation
and soil is such that it is
impossible to hide your tracks, or continue on. When you move out, after having
formed your first "box",
move for another 50 to 75 meters and form another box. By forming these
boxes, it will enable you to
ambush your pursuers and will definitely confuse any trackers as to
your direction of movement. It will
also discourage the enemy if you occasionally booby-trap your back
trail. You can maintain a general
heading that you desire to go without the enemy force becoming aware
of it until you are out of the
danger area or until he loses you completely. A word of caution though,
and that is not to continually
make your boxes the same size or to continually turn to the right or
left. Never set a definite pattern of movement. Examples follow:
- The Figure Eight Technique: The figure eight method
is very similar to the box technique in that
you are doing basically the same thing except here you will be making
circles instead of squares. An
example is shown below:
- Angle Technique: Another effective method to use in evasion and
takes very little practice to
employ. The patrol will change the direction of movement from the present
patrol route of march in a
series of angle movements. For example the team will make on angle move
to change direction such as
30 degrees, 45 degrees, 70 degrees for a hundred or so meters, then do
it again to confuse the enemy. An example is shown below:
- Step Technique: The simple method of changing the route of march
in 90 degree turns for a
distance of a hundred or so meters. An example is shown below:
- The Box Technique: This is a simple and effective method to use and takes very little practice to employ. From a given point the team moves out on a set azimuth for specific set number of meters or paces, for example let's say 35 meters. The team then makes a 90 degree turn and moves 75 meters, then another 90 degree turns for 30 meters, another 90 degrees turn for 30 meters, another for 30 meters. You will have formed a "box". At this point you can do any one of several things. You can wait in ambush for your trackers, or pursuers, walk backwards across your old trail, if the vegetation and soil is such that it is impossible to hide your tracks, or continue on. When you move out, after having formed your first "box", move for another 50 to 75 meters and form another box. By forming these boxes, it will enable you to ambush your pursuers and will definitely confuse any trackers as to your direction of movement. It will also discourage the enemy if you occasionally booby-trap your back trail. You can maintain a general heading that you desire to go without the enemy force becoming aware of it until you are out of the danger area or until he loses you completely. A word of caution though, and that is not to continually make your boxes the same size or to continually turn to the right or left. Never set a definite pattern of movement. Examples follow:
- Skip Method: An effective method that requires practice to employ. The
patrol will stop in place and on
command wit! move left or right of present route. Each member will move as
carefully as possible not to
make a trail or leave tell tale signs to the flank for a distance of 20-30
meters and then resume the patrol's
former route of march. The team leader should send the point man ahead to
make a false trail for 30 to 50
meters before using the skip method. This method takes practice and team
members have to be careful
not to leave signs as they move. See the example:
- Additional Information:
- Never set a pattern if one technique does not work, change to another.
- In both the box and figure eight techniques the size of the squares or circles will depend on the terrain and vegetation. The box technique is extremely effective at night. Both methods can be used to find a hold or weak point in the enemies encircling perimeter from which to break out. Both techniques have been used successfully in the past by recon teams. One survivor, of an ambushed recon team, succeeded for three days, in ambushing and killing six enemy pursuers by employing the figure eight method before being spotted and recovered by searching aircraft.
- During the dry season CS powder spread over your back trail is extremely helpful in stopping dogs.
- During the rainy season CS powder is almost useless or very ineffective against dogs. It is much more effective to drop a CS grenade during wet weather since it will hang low to the ground and remain effective against enemy personnel, especially those that do not have or carry protective masks.
- In closing I might remind you that your tactics and techniques are only as good or effective as you make them. This can only be done through constant practice, training and rehearsals.
Explosives can be used for many field expedient uses.
- When loading the aircraft for infiltration, insure the team is seated so that they can exit the proper door.
- Lead the team in reverse team order with the tail gunner being the first one in the aircraft.
- The senior advisor position inside the aircraft is between the pilot and co-pilot's seats. The remainder of the team sits against the firewall of the A/C.
- Sudden shifts of weight in flight will cause temporary loss of aircraft control.
- The team leader and pilot will determine direction of approach to the infil LZ for loading of team.
- The team leader will follow the flight with his map from their FOB to his infil LZ.
- Team members will unload one at a time to enable the pilot to stabilize his A/C.
- On a ladder LZ the team leader insures the ladder is down. Note: If A/C is more than 6-8 foot off ground use ladder to avoid injury to team members.
- If pointman exits the A/C under fire, the entire team will exit the A/C.
If the A/C is shot down the team leader is in command on the ground. He will
do the following:
- Account for his team and A/C crew.
- Secure an area 40-50 meters in front of the A/C.
- Care for the wounded/dead.
- With the pilot return to the A/C to ensure the radios are zeroed of freq, gas is off, destroy! the battery, remove maps, SOI, notebooks of the pilots and M60s and ammo.
- C 11 for pick up A/C.
- Evac A/C crew and wounded/dead on first recovery A/C.
- Rest of his team on the last recovery A/C.
- Inform your personnel in what order they will be extracted prior to the arrival of the extraction A/C. The LZ should be secured prior to the arrival of the A/C.
- Team leader should give pilot a track to fly, and describe his LZ.
- Team members should approach the exfil A/C from the front. Note; Doing this the door gunner can support the team easier.
- Team could use both doors if exfil LZ is a sit-down but should notify pilot first.
- The team leader is the last to enter aircraft and will give the pilot an UP.
- In selection of LZs avoid likely LZs or large LZ.
Sniper who is the officer!
Members of Special Forces Detachment A-14
supervise construction of defenses at the
hamlet of Chau-Lang during December of 1962. (US Army)
Booby traps indicate the presence of
the enemy or something to Hide
ie caches or enemy fortifications.