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1. Basics


A routine patrol is organized for small unit SO. The basic operational unit is the platoon, consisting of ~ 16 men with warfare skill specialties in combat diving, small unit tactics, air operations, diving, demolitions, communications, and small boat handling.

Patrol Responsibilities

Every member of the patrol should be assigned Area of Responsibility (AOR). All personnel have the following common responsibilities:

  1. Observing fields of fire
  2. Perimeter security
  3. Action upon enemy contact
  4. Taking head counts
  5. Passing hand and arm signals
  6. Passing the word
  7. Detecting danger


Patrol Leader (PL)

The PL has the responsibility and authority for leading the patrol. This require strong tactical knowledge and leadership skills.

  1. POSITION: The PL position himself where he can best lead and control his patrol during each phase of the operation. During patrol movement he normally positions himself near the front of the patrol directly behind the point man (PT).
  2. DUTIES: The PL/APL plans the patrol and is responsible for its execution. His primary responsibilities is to direct patrol actions. This take precedence over all other actions, including returning fires. His duties are to:
    1. Plan the mission and direct all pre-mission preparation
    2. Direct all actions of the patrol
    3. Direct navigation of the patrol
  3. COMMENTS: The PL:
    1. Makes decision about the direction of travel, designates rally points (RP) and Lay-up Points (LUPs), conducts final planning after reconnaissance (recon) of the target, direct actions at the objectives, and direct actions upon enemy contact.
    2. Constantly anticipates and considers actions if contact is made
    3. Plan and initiates evasion and recovery (E&R)

Point Man (PT)

This is normally only one person; two men may be required, depending on the situation. When the PL determines the situation requires two men, the position is called the point element.

  1. POSITION: The point man (PT) patrols ahead of the main body of the patrol. Although he may periodically be required to scout further ahead, he normally patrols within visual signal range of the rest of the patrol.

  2. DUTIES: The PT is responsible for finding a safe route for the patrol by watching for danger areas, the enemy, and booby traps. He is not the primary navigator, but responds to directions from the PL. Proven navigation skills, however, are required assets for the PT; teamwork and mutual assistance between PT and PL while navigating are critical to the patrol maintaining its course. PT is part of a security team and his duties include the following:

    1. Assist the PL in route selection through careful map study
    2. Work with the PL to plan evasion and escape (E&E) routes
    3. Maintain the security of the patrol within his field of fire
    4. Alert the patrol to possible enemy movement if suspected
    5. Alert the patrol to obstacles and booby traps.

  3. COMMENTS: The PT:
    1. Maintains communication with the PL
    2. Carries a compass to navigate, but does not act as the primary navigator
    3. Has good tracking and navigation skills
    4. Carries a lighter load than others for ease of movement and noise discipline
    5. May need frequent rest periods or replacement in order to reduce stress and fatigue
    6. Needs extra hydration since he will be more active than others in the patrol.

Radio Telephone Operator (RTO)

Also known as the radioman, the radio telephone operator (RTO) is the patrol’s main communicator.

  1. POSITION: The RTO patrols closely behind the PL, except when the PL is away from the main element during a recon.
  2. DUTIES: The RTO is responsible for ensuring that the patrol can send and receive all communications necessary for the mission. His duties include:
    1. Drafting the patrol's communication plan
    2. Carrying primary radio and acting as rifleman/grenadier(R/GN)
    3. Conducting pre-coordination with communications team, and all supporting and supported elements
    4. Establishing and maintaining radio contact with COMMAND and supporting forces as required
    1. Should be trained in equipment repair and antenna theory
    2. Should realistically test all equipment prior to going in the field

Automatic Weapons Man (AW)

  1. POSITION:Depending on the size and disposition of the patrol, the automatic weapons (AW) man is usually at or near the middle of the formation. The mission and situation will dictate the number of AW men required. A standard eight-man squad normally has two AW men.
  2. DUTIES: The AW man is responsible for base or covering fire for the patrol. Patrol immediate action drills (IAD) and fire and maneuver depend heavily on his heavier sustained rate of fire. The AW man is expected to:
    1. Provide security cover for the patrol as it moves, or for elements moving into attack position
    2. Provide covering fire for maneuver elements
    3. Maintain a heavy sustained rate of fire during engagements
    4. Provide maximum suppressive firepower
    5. Designate point targets for supporting elements (close air support (CAS), call for fire, etc.)
    6. Concentrate fire on weapons or targets of greatest threat to patrol.
    1. Carries the heaviest platoon weapon

Rifleman/Grenadier (R/GN)

The R/GN carries M4 with the M203 grenade launcher and 40mm rounds.

  1. POSITION: Normally R/GNs are distributed evenly throughout the patrol to complement the placement of the AW man/men and the requisite security elements.
  2. DUTIES: Routine patrol responsibilities. Will normally be assigned duties for special elements and teams (e.g., flank security, demo team, prisoner handler, etc.). The R/GN is expected to
    1. Deliver accurate rifle fire against single targets when acting as riflemen. Normally he fires his weapon in semi-automatic mode
    2. Use special purpose munitions such as high explosive, illumination, smoke, signal, or CS rounds when acting as a GN
    1. 40mm rounds require 14 to 28 meters from launch before arming themselves
    2. Depending op terrain and mission, the PL may opt to have all personnel act as R/GN, however, the patrol's ability to lay down effective base of fire can be affected
    3. When using multiple R/GNs the PL should assign a Primary GN and a rifleman

Rifleman (RF)

  1. POSITION: Rifleman may be in any patrol position.
  2. DUTIES:Routine patrol responsibilities. Will normally be assigned duties for special elements and teams (e.g., flank security, demo team, prisoner handler, etc.). A rifleman:
    1. Will carry an M4, M14, or other selected assault rifle, He delivers accurate rifle fire against single targets in assigned field of fire. Fires in semi-automatic mode.
    2. Can be demolitions, AT, extra M18A1 Claymore carrier, prioner handler, etc.

Hospital Corpsman (HM)

  1. POSITION: The hospital corpsman (HM) patrols as directed by the PL.
  2. DUTIES: His duties are to:
    1. Provide first aid, preventaive hygiene, and treatment of wounds and injuries.
    2. Plans and coordinates medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).
    3. May act as RF, GN, prisoner handler, demolitions carrier

Assistant Patrol Leader (APL)

The APL assists the PL in all phases of coordinating and executing the patrol. He is usually positioned near the rear of the patrol.

  1. POSITION: During movement, he patrols ahead of the rear security (RS) and in a different FT or element than the PL. He may be given a special job for each phase of the patrol. He helps the PL control the patrol by being where he can best take command, if required.
  2. DUTIES: His duties are to:
    1. Take over if the PL is incapacitated; he is the second in command.
    2. Command the second FT (or second squad if in platoon formation) when the patrol is split.
    3. Assist with planning and preparation.
    4. Keep abreast of situation and status of mission.
    5. Serve as a rifleman.
  3. COMMENTS: Commands the main body of the patrol during absence or incapacitating injury of the PL.

Rear Securiy (RS)

  1. POSITION: The RS patrols as the last man in the patrol.
  2. DUTIES: The RS is expected to:
    1. Be responsible for the security of the patrol from the rear.
    2. Pass all information to the PL regarding the situation behind the patrol.
  3. COMMENTS: The RS:
    1. Serves as RF or GN
    2. Observes overhead and to the rear
    3. Doesn't walk backward, rather he stops to observe.
    4. Acts as the PT in situations when the patrol reverses direction.

Special Assignments

Patrol memebers normally have special assignments that they will be required to perform on command, as needed, or on a continuing basis throughout the patrol. These special assignments may be made to meet specific mission requirements, or they may be generally assigned during all patrols as routine or for contingency purpose.

Security Elements

The security element is normally made up of one or more security teams that protect the patrol by blocking likely avenues of enemy approach, covering patrol movements, and giving early warning of an enemy approach.

  1. Perimeter Security: Perimeter security is used throughout the patrol: during security halts, rest halts, at all RPs, and in patrol bases. Individuals or teams are assigned to provide visual and auditory cover of their sector or AOR.
    The teams must be positioned so that a complete 360-degree coverage is ensured.
  2. Flank Security: Flank security can be one or more men positioned to the side of a formation. Their primary responsibility is to provide early warning against enemy ambush or attack. Depending on the size of the flank security element/team and the situation, they may be able to deliver limited flanking fire on enemy poositions.
    The use of a flankers require solid Command and Control (C²) from the PL to avoid engaging friendly forces.
  3. Covering Force: A covering force is a security element positioned to cover an element's movement. It is positioned so that it can engage enemy forces to allow continued movement by another element that is attacking an objective (as in raid) or retreating (as in breaking contact).
  4. Blocking Force: A blocking force is a security element that is specifically positioned to defend against assault from a known or anticipated enemy threat.

    The blocking force is positioned so that in case the patrol is compromised, the blocking force can engage possible enemy reaction forces moving against the main body. If the blocking force isn't utilized, it will usually rejoin the patrol at a predetermined time and location.

    The blocking force's employment is the same during an assault, i.e., to prevent the patrol from being engaged by enemy reaction forces.

Reconnaissance Elements

The recon element confirms, clarifies, and supplements information provided to the patrol about the routes and objectives from maps, aerial photos, and other sources. If a recon element is used to scout an objective, an objective rally point (ORP), or an ambush site, it will usually act as PT to lead the patrol to its new location.

  1. Patrol Reconnaissance: During security halts the patrol recon element (Normally the PL and the PT) will reconnoiter ahead of the main patrol prior to moving into a patrol base, LUP, RP, ambush site, or attack position.
  2. Target Reconnaissance: The patrol recon element (Normally the PL and the PT) usually conduct target recon. The patrol's tactical recon of target is designed to confirm all the data that was previously provided in the target information package and which they have developed their plan of attack and to identify any differences.

    The recon should be used to gather any of the specific information that the patrol needs, such as the location and movement of any guards, confirmation of the actual location and position of the target, and the layout of the facility.
    The recon team should pay particular attention to the points designated for attack and/or demolition charge placement, look for the best avenues of attack or the best way to attach a demolition charge to a target stress point.

Search Team

After assualts or ambushes are conducted, the search team is responsible for seizing equipment or documents and for searching buildings, positions, dead, wounded, and priosners. First, the team wants to ensure that there are no other enemy or potential threats to the patrol such as booby traps, unexploded ordance, weapons, etc.

Then their job is to collect information from objective that can be added to the intelligence assessment of the area, the enemy, and his capabilities, srengths, and weakness. The type of searches are:

  1. Ambush Search. The team will search for KIA or WIA, prisoners, weapons, and documents.
  2. Target Search. Depending upon the target, hard or soft, the team normally consists of one element. The PL must continuously monitor time on target (TOT) and what possible reactionary forces are doing.
  3. Prisoner/Personnel Search. Approach these searches with extreme caution. If a conflict occurred preceding the search, be aware of "sleepers". Severe trauma or shock may inhibit immediate responses from some personnel. A search is done on everyone, not just the ones that look important, using the "Five S" standard: Search, Segregate, Silence, Speed, Safeguard.

Demolitions Teams

The demolition (demo) team is composed of men assigned to carry demolitions for specific target objectives or standard charges to be used for contingencies. The memebers will be assigned specific duties and responsibilities for team actions such as rigging explosives, running the detonation cord, tying into trunk line, and pulling fuses. The demo team must be well briefed and its actions must be well rehearsed and coordinated.

Swimmer Scouts

Swimmer scouts are assigned the task of conducting a recon of the selected beach-landing stite(BLS) while the remainder of the patrol waits a safe distance offshore. After they scout the beach and determine it is clear of obstructions/obstacles and that there is no enemy in the immediate vicinity, they signal the swimmers or boats into the beach using pre-arranged signals. They also provide initial security for the swimmers or boats as they land. They may join the Security team guarding the boats or act as point to the objective on short raids if they scouted the objective earlier.