Infantry Drills

5-44: Point Navigation

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5-44. Point navigation, also called dead reckoning, is done by starting from a known point and strictly following a predetermined azimuth and distance. This form of navigation requires a high level of leader control because even a slight deviation over the course of a movement can cause navigation errors. This method uses the dismounted compass and a distance from the pace man (or a vehicle’s odometer when mounted) to follow a prescribed route. Point navigation requires the leader to follow these steps:

  • Use the compass to maintain direction.
  • Use the pace man’s pace or a vehicle odometer to measure the distance traveled for each leg or part.
  • Review the written description of the route plan to help prevent navigational errors.

Note. Do not take compass reading from inside vehicles. Move away from
vehicles when using lensatic compass.

5-45. When performed correctly, point navigation is very reliable, but time-consuming. It is best used when the need for navigational accuracy outweighs the importance of using terrain. Point navigation is particularly useful when recognizable terrain features do not exist or are too far away to be helpful. For example, deserts, swamps, and thick forest make terrain association difficult. Using point navigation early on in a long movement can stress the compass man and it may be advisable to switch him. One of the problems with point navigation is negotiating severely restrictive terrain or danger areas.

Next: 5-46: Combination

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