Infantry Drills

6-191: Observation Plan

Previous: 6-186: Information Requirements

6-191. Once the patrol leader understands the information requirement, he then
determines how he will obtain it by developing an observation plan. The leader captures the observation plan as part of the patrol leader’s COA sketch. This is done by asking two basic questions:

  • What is the best location to obtain the information required?
  • What is the best way to obtain the information without compromising the patrol?

6-192. The answer to the first question is: all vantage points and observation posts from which the patrol can best obtain the required information. A vantage point is a temporary position enabling observation of the enemy. It is meant to be occupied only until the enemy activity is confirmed or denied. The answer to the second question is: use the routes and number of teams necessary to occupy the vantage points and observation posts. An observation post is a position where military observations can be made, and fire can be directed and adjusted. Observation posts must possess appropriate communications. The observation post can be short-term (12 hours or less) or long-term, depending upon guidance from higher. Unlike a vantage point, the observation post normally is occupied and surveillance is conducted for a specified period.

6-193. The patrol views the reconnaissance objective from as many perspectives as possible, using whatever combinations of observation posts and vantage points are necessary. The leader selects the tentative locations for patrol’s vantage points, observation posts, and movement after analyzing METT-TC. These locations are proposed and are confirmed and adjusted as necessary by the actual leader on the ground. From his analysis, the leader determines how many vantage points and observation posts he must establish and where to position them. Once he decides on these general locations, he designs the routes for necessary movement between these and other control measures (such as the release points and linkup points). Positions should have the following characteristics:

  • Covered and concealed routes to and from each position.
  • Unobstructed observation of the assigned area, route, or zone. Ideally, the fields of observation of adjacent positions overlap to ensure full coverage.
  • Cover and concealment. Leaders select positions with cover and concealment to reduce their vulnerability on the battlefield. Leaders may need to pass up a position with favorable observation capability but no cover and concealment to select a position affording better survivability.
  • A location not attracting attention. Positions should not be sited in such locations as a water tower, an isolated grove of trees, or a lone building or tree. These positions draw enemy attention and may be used as enemy artillery target registration posts.
  • A location not skylining the observers. Avoid hilltops. Locate positions farther down the slope of the hill or on the side, provided there are covered and concealed routes into and out of the position.

6-194. The locations selected by the patrol are either long range or short range. Long-range positions must be far enough from the objective to be outside enemy’s small-arms weapons, sensors, and other local security measures. Long-range positions are the most desirable method for executing a reconnaissance because the patrol does not come in close enough to be detected. If detected, the patrol is able to employ direct and indirect fires. Therefore, it is used whenever METT-TC permits the required information to be gathered from a distance. Security must be maintained by—

  • Selecting covered and concealed observation posts.
  • Using covered and concealed routes in and around the operations area.
  • Deploying security elements, including sensors, to give early warning, and providing covering fire if required.

6-195. Short-range positions are within the range of enemy local security measures and small-arms fire. When information required cannot be obtained by a long-range position, reconnaissance elements move closer to the objective. The vantage points and routes used during short-range observation should be planned carefully and verified prior to using them. Doing so prevents detection by the enemy or friendly units from stumbling into one another or covering ground already passed over by another element.

Next: 6-196: Area Reconnaissance Actions at Objective

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