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An example of this also occurred recently in the Strait of Hormuz with the U.


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Although it is healthy to facilitate discussion in regards to the future of warfare it is important to remain grounded in the present in order to identify what actions we can be taking now to set the conditions for success in the future. Technology will play a vital role in how we conduct reconnaissance, yet it is still important to have a firm grasp of the principles of traditional dismounted engineer reconnaissance, because in a battlespace full of technology the most effective means of gathering intelligence may be through old fashioned dismounted patrolling in order to remain undetected and untargetable.

We should continue to invest time and effort into training engineer specific reconnaissance and work hand-in-hand with our combat teams within the Brigade to educate them on how important engineer reconnaissance can be, ensuring mission success during the combined arms obstacle breach. This can be achieved through Professional Military Education PME sessions and on exercise through practical trial, when the commander can witnesses the rewards of allocating engineers sufficient time to conduct reconnaissance during the IPB phase of their deliberate planning. This can be achieved through courses, PME, exposure on operations and exercises, international engagements and well planned and effective training.

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The ability to provide organic security and protection, whilst conducting detailed and accurate obstacle reconnaissance through the hardware and software advances in UAS, will promote better planning and ultimately result in fewer friendly casualties at the obstacle breach site. It is important that we discuss not only the benefits in which these new capabilities will afford us, but also their limitations and restrictions. The Australian army will remain a small army in comparison to global actors, both within our immediate sphere of influence and abroad.

We must maintain what makes us such a potent small army, continuing to focus on adaptability, rapid decision making and decisive leadership amongst all ranks in order to maintain our status amongst both allies and adversaries as a ferocious fighting force. Most importantly we must continue to focus on developing ourselves and our subordinates in the art of intelligence gathering through engineer reconnaissance now, to reap the rewards in the future.

History has repeatedly demonstrated that numerically inferior forces, even with less capable equipment and technology, can win when armed with accurate intelligence that their leadership can act upon [10]. LT Zarlenga has been integral to the development of SOPs for mechanised engineer tactics and has devoted his time focusing on how engineer specific reconnaissance can best be conducted within a mechanised construct.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government. The M1 Abrams main battle tank will remain the hardened core of the Army, with the Land Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles and Infantry Fighting Vehicles breaking new ground in protection, lethality and networked capabilities. Armoured engineering vehicles will keep the fighting vehicles moving, while the world-class duo of Bushmaster and Hawkei protected mobility vehicles will provide the necessary combat and logistics support.

The views expressed within individual blog posts and videos are those of the author, and do not reflect any official position or that of the author's employers' - see more here. Skip to main content.


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  5. Obstacle breaching The combined arms obstacle breach has been, and will continue to be, one of the most complex and dangerous combat tasks required of engineers in the battlespace. End Notes [1] John J. Your name. E-mail The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Leave this field blank. There is no danger of knowing too much of the mental habits of an enemy. One should neither underestimate the enemy nor credit him with superhuman powers.

    Fear and courage are latent in every human being, though roused into activity by very diverse means. The techniques and objectives are not mutually exclusive; it is up to the commander whether they are carried out separately or by the same unit. Units tasked with reconnaissance are armed only for self-defense, and rely on stealth to gather information. Others are well-enough armed to also deny information to the enemy by destroying their reconnaissance elements.

    Reconnaissance-in-force RIF is a type of military operation or military tactics used specifically to probe an enemy's disposition. By mounting an offensive with considerable but not decisive force, the commander hopes to elicit a strong reaction by the enemy that reveals its own strength, deployment, and other tactical data.

    The RIF commander retains the option to fall back with the data or expand the conflict into a full engagement. Other methods consist of hit-and-run tactics using rapid mobility, and in some cases light-armored vehicles for added fire superiority, as the need arises. The purpose of reconnaissance and the types of units employed to obtain information are similar in the U. German tactical principles of reconnaissance, however, diverge somewhat from those of the U. The Germans stress aggressiveness, attempt to obtain superiority in the area to be reconnoitered, and strive for continuous observation of the enemy.

    They believe in employing reconnaissance units in force as a rule. They expect and are prepared to fight to obtain the desired information. Often they assign supplementary tasks to their reconnaissance units, such as sabotage behind enemy lines, harassment, or counter-reconnaissance. Only enough reconnaissance troops are sent on a mission to assure superiority in the area to be reconnoitred.

    Fixing Light Reconnaissance Formations | Small Wars Journal

    Reserves are kept on hand to be committed when the reconnaissance must be intensified, when the original force meets strong enemy opposition, or when the direction and area to be reconnoitred are changed. The Germans encourage aggressive action against enemy security forces. When their reconnaissance units meet superior enemy forces, they fight a delaying action while other units attempt to flank the enemy.

    Reconnaissance by fire or speculative fire is the act of firing at likely enemy positions, in order to cause the enemy force to reveal their location by moving or by returning fire.

    Scouts Out!: The Development of Reconnaissance Units in Modern Armies

    Reconnaissance-pull is a tactic that is applied at the regiment to division level and defined as locating and rapidly exploiting enemy weaknesses. It is the ability to determine enemy positions and create exploitable gaps through which friendly forces can pass while avoiding obstacles and strong points. Aerial photography and the confirmation by the amphibious reconnaissance platoons determined that the Japanese defenders had largely ignored the northern beaches of the island, focusing most of their defensive effort on beaches in the south-west which were more favorable for an amphibious landing.

    American forces quickly changed their landing location to the northern beaches and planned a small and hasty "deception" operation off the southern beach, which resulted in a complete surprise for the Japanese forces. As a result, American forces were able to fight the Japanese force on land, where they had the advantage, leading to light losses and a relatively short battle that lasted only 9 days. When referring to reconnaissance, a commander's full intention is to have a vivid picture of his battlespace.

    The commander organizes the reconnaissance platoon based on:. This analysis determines whether the platoon uses single or multiple elements to conduct the reconnaissance, whether it pertains to area , zone , or route reconnaissance , the following techniques may be used as long as the fundamentals of reconnaissance are applied. Scouts may also have different tasks to perform for their commanders of higher echelons, for example: the engineer reconnaissance detachments will try to identify difficult terrain in the path of their formation, and attempt to reduce the time it takes to transit the terrain using specialist engineering equipment such as a pontoon bridge for crossing water obstacles.

    Sanitary epidemiological reconnaissance implies collection and transfer of all data available on sanitary and epidemiological situation of the area of possible deployment and action of armed forces , the same data for the neighboring and enemy armed forces. The aim for the reconnaissance is to clear up the reasons of the specific disease origin- sources of the infection in various extreme situations, including local wars and armed conflicts , the ways of the infection transfer and all factors promoting to the infestation. After the armed forces have become stationary during wartime and emergency of peacetime the sanitary epidemiological reconnaissance turns into sanitary and epidemiological surveillance and medical control of vital and communal activity of the armed forces.

    Ideally, a reconnaissance platoon, or team, would use surveillance or vantage static points around the objective to observe, and the surrounding area. This methodology focuses mainly prior to moving forces into or near a specified area; the military commander may utilize his reconnaissance assets to conduct an area reconnaissance to avoid being surprised by unsuitable terrain conditions, or most importantly, unexpected enemy forces.

    The area could be a town, ridge-line, woods, or another feature that friendly forces intend to occupy, pass through, or avoid. Within an area of operation AO , area reconnaissance can focus the reconnaissance on the specific area that is critical to the commander. This technique of focusing the reconnaissance also permits the mission to be accomplished more quickly.

    Area reconnaissance can thus be a stand-alone mission or a task to a section or the platoon.

    The commander analyzes the mission to determine whether the platoon will conduct these types of reconnaissance separately or in conjunction with each other. Civil reconnaissance is the process of gathering a broad spectrum of civil information about a specific population in support of military operations. It is related to and often performed in conjunction with infrastructure reconnaissance assessment and survey. Normally the focus of collection in the operational area for civil reconnaissance is collecting civil information relating to the daily interaction between civilians and military forces.

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    Civil information encompasses relational, temporal, geospatial and behavioral information captured in a socio-cultural backdrop. It is information developed from data related to civil areas, structures, capabilities, organizations, people, and events, within the civil component of the commander's operational environment that can be processed to increase situational awareness and understanding.

    The type of civil information that is needed in order to support military operations varies based on the environment and situation. Route reconnaissance is oriented on a given route: e. A military commander relies on information about locations along his determined route: which those that would provide best cover and concealment; bridge by construction type, dimensions, and classification; or for landing zones or pickup zones, if the need arises.

    In many cases, the commander may act upon a force-oriented route reconnaissance by which the enemy could influence movement along that route. For the reconnaissance platoons, or squads, stealth and speed—in conjunction with detailed intelligence-reporting—are most important and crucial.

    Leadership Lessons from the Tactical Level of War

    The reconnaissance platoon must remain far enough ahead of the maneuver force to assist in early warning and to prevent the force from becoming surprised. Even it is paramount to obtain information about the available space in which a force can maneuver without being forced to bunch up due to obstacles. Terrain-oriented route reconnaissance allows the commander to obtain information and capabilities about the adjacent terrain for maneuvering his forces, to include, any obstacles minefields, barriers, steep ravines, marshy areas, or chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear contamination that may obstruct vehicle movement—on routes to, and in, his assigned area of operations.

    This requirement includes the size of trees and the density of forests due to their effects on vehicle movement.