Infantry Drills

D-43: Search Zone

Previous: D-41: Turning or Deceleration Zone

D-43. The search zone is a relatively secure area where personnel and vehicles are positively identified and searched. A decision is made to confiscate weapons and contraband, detain a vehicle, or allow it to pass. The area is set up with a blocking obstacle denying entry/exit without loss of life or equipment. When searching—

  • Isolate the vehicle being checked from other cars by an obstacle of some type, which is controlled by a Soldier.
  • Emplace an overwatch position with a crew-served weapon in an elevated position to cover the vehicle, particularly the driver. The crew-served weapon should be mounted on a T/E and tripod.

D-44. The search zone is further subdivided into three subordinate areas:

  • Personnel search zone􀊊is where personnel are positively identified, searched, or detained. This may include partitioned or screened areas to provide privacy, especially when searching women and children. Use female Soldiers to search women, if available.
  • Vehicle search zone􀊊 is where vehicles are positively identified, and searched.
  • Reaction force zone 􀊊 is where a reaction force is located to reinforce the checkpoint and immediately provide assistance using lethal and nonlethal force. Additionally, engineers, and EOD personnel may be collocated here to assist in analyzing and diffusing/destroying ammunition, demolitions, or IED traps. This element is organized and equipped to conduct close combat. This element engages in accordance with the established engagement criteria and ROE. This element has a position which allows it to overwatch the checkpoint as well as block or detain vehicles trying to avoid the checkpoint.

D-45. When establishing these zones, consider the following:

  • Weapons’ surface danger zones, geometry.
  • 360-degree security.
  • Rapid removal of detainees and vehicles.
  • Capabilities and skill level of all attachments.
  • Potential suicide.

D-46. Placing the search area to the side of the road permits two-way traffic. If a vehicle is rejected, it is turned back. If vehicle is accepted for transit, it is permitted to travel through the position. If the vehicle is a threat, the checkpoint leader determines whether to attack or apprehend.

D-47. When confronted by a potentially threatening vehicle, —

  • The search element alerts the checkpoint leader, moves to a safe/fortified position, and may engage or allow the vehicle to pass based on leader instructions and ROE.
  • If the vehicle passes through the escape lane, the leader may direct the assault element to engage the vehicle based on ROE.

Next: D-48: Safe Zone

Go Back To: U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad