Monday, May 28, 2018

Basic Training - Danger Areas

During a patrol, your team, or a larger group that you're part of, may encounter areas of terrain that leave you open to being sighted, shot at, or both. Those areas are referred to as danger areas.

A danger area is any place on a route where the leader’s estimate process tells him that his unit might be exposed to enemy observation, fire, or both. Try to avoid danger areas. If a unit must cross a danger area, it does so with great caution and as quickly as possible.

a. Types of Danger Areas. The following are some examples of danger areas and crossing procedures.

(1) Open areas. Conceal the team on the near side and observe the area. Post security to give early warning. Send an element across to clear the far side. When cleared, cross the remainder of the unit at the shortest exposed distance and as quickly as possible.
(2) Roads and trails. Cross roads or trails at or near a bend, a narrow spot, or on low ground.
(3) Villages. Pass villages on the downwind side and well away from them. Avoid animals, especially dogs, which might reveal the presence of the team.
(4) Enemy positions. Pass on the downwind side (there may be dogs). Be alert for trip wires and warning devices.
(5) Minefields. Bypass minefields if at all possible–even if it requires changing the route by a great distance. Clear a path through minefields only if necessary.
(6) Streams. Select a narrow spot in the stream that offers concealment on both banks. Observe the far side carefully. Emplace near and far-side security for early warning. Clear the far side, then cross rapidly but quietly.
(7) Wire obstacles. Avoid wire obstacles (obstacles are usually covered with observation and fire).

b. Crossing of Danger Areas. When the unit crosses a danger area independently or as the lead element of a larger force, it must–
  • Designate near- and far-side rally points.
  • Secure the near side (right and left flanks, and rear security).
  • Reconnoiter and secure the far side.
  • Execute crossing the danger area.

(1) The unit leader decides how the unit will cross based on the time he has, the size of the unit, the size of the danger area, the fields of fire into the area, and the amount of security he can post. A small unit may cross all at once, in buddy teams, or one person at a time. A large unit normally crosses its elements one at a time. As each element crosses, it moves to an overwatch position or to the far-side rally point until told to continue movement.
(2) To maintain momentum, units in the middle of the larger group normally cross the danger area without conducting their own reconnaissance or establishing far-side security. The lead unit conducts reconnaissance and maintains far-side security for the whole force.

NOTE: The secured area must be large enough to allow the full deployment of the remainder of the unit.

c. Crossing of linear Danger Areas.

The larger unit crosses the danger area in the formation and location specified by the unit leader. On the far side of the danger area, all personnel and equipment are accounted for. The unit continues the patrol.
(Figure 2-27.)

(1) When the lead team signals “danger area” (relayed throughout the unit), the unit halts.
(2) The unit leader moves forward, confirms the danger area, and determines what technique the unit will use to cross. The assistant also moves forward to the leader.
(3) The leader informs all team leaders of the situation and the near-side and far-side rally points.
(4) The assistant directs positioning of the near-side security (usually conducted by the trail teams). These two security teams may follow him forward when the unit halts and a danger area signal is passed back.
(5) The unit leader reconnoiters the danger area and selects the crossing point that provides the best cover and concealment.
(6) Near-side security observes to the flanks and overwatches the crossing.
(7) When the near-side security is in place, the unit leader directs the far-side security team to cross the danger area.
(8) The far-side security team clears the far side.
(9) The far-side security team leader establishes an OP forward of the cleared area.
(10) The far-side security team signals to the team leader that the area is clear. The team leader relays the message to the unit leader.
(11) The unit leader selects the method the unit will use to cross the danger area.
(12) The unit quickly and quietly crosses the danger area.
(13) Once across the danger area, the main body begins moving slowly on the required azimuth.
(14) The near-side security element, controlled by the assistant, crosses the danger area where the main unit crossed. They may attempt to cover any tracks left by the platoon.
(15) The assistant ensures everyone crosses and sends up the report.
(16) The unit leader ensures accountability and resumes movement at normal speed.

NOTE: The same principles stated above are used when crossing a smaller unit across a danger area.

For a view of what that looks like for a small team, here's what's actually a pretty awesome look from some online simulation guys playing Arma, who've taken the time to learn and diagram real-world tactics so they can do better playing a computer game battlefield simulation. (And hey, guess what, it works in the game just like in real life, except in the game, you can opt for a God-view you never get in the real world. And in case you were wondering, Big Green uses exactly this kind of stuff to train everyone for everything these days, from grunts to fighter pilots to submarine crews, so it definitely has a lot of value and utility.)
Some folks so inclined might realize that they could bone up on this stuff exactly the same way, provided you don't mistake playing games for a complete substitute for actually gearing up with a ruck and doing it. But if you just want to rehearse the moves and train your brain, without thinking you're training your muscles, ROWYBS; it'll definitely make the real-world stuff come easier, so you don't waste real training time on stuff you could have learned online with your teammates, and had fun doing. (At least until you get smoked by some pre-teen gamer pro who knows his stuff better than you do.) 
And remember, come the day, there's no re-spawn in the real world.
You only get one chance not to screw this stuff up.

For larger danger areas, such as open spaces, going around them and staying under cover of the surrounding brush is usually the best means of avoiding them. A team or larger unit may hug the edge inside the treeline, or move 90° offset from their line of travel, move a set paced distance to move beyond the edge of the area to one side, pass the open area on their original direction of march, and turn 90° back, then resume travel in the original direction again.

If you encounter trouble during a patrol, the mission of the patrol, the size of your team vs. the opposing force (which you may not know, or even have any idea about), and your group's previously agreed upon course of action will probably determine what you do. Unlike a military patrol, you don't have supporting fires, heavy weapons, and may not have anyone as a quick reaction force to come help you out. Your goal is always to live to fight another day, unless you've assembled a unit large enough to tangle with someone else. If that's the case, game on and best wishes. If not, fading away without contact, or breaking contact rapidly, will be the wisest course of action.

Specifics of reaction to contact will be covered in the next instruction period.

The point of this one is to select the methods and tactics that will minimize your exposure, and avoid or at least decrease the likelihood of unintended contact or conflict for you and your team, at least until a time and place of your choosing.

Generally speaking, if someone announces their presence by shooting at you, it's because you're in a place they want you to be, at a time when they're prepared to take you on. That isn't someplace you ought to be, and one you should get out of as rapidly as possible. Avoiding it in the first place is thus always the best policy.

Your training needs to cover minimizing your risk in areas prone to such dangers.


RSR said...

Good post. 2 thoughts.

Potshots by folks w/ their M1A from 300-500 yards away will likely be common WROL, until they anger the wrong folks who choose to flank and destroy, or if stupidly firing from their home then burn up the fool and their barricaded domicile. Don't always assume it's proper and deliberate ambush. You only need to visit any survival or gun forum to see numerous instances of such plans.
Physical fitness is required as securing one's home requires patrolling beyond one's property line and/or having alliances with groups/neighbors nearby who will do the same. Waiting until an enemy is on one's doorstep is a quick path to death for oneself and one's family.

Modus operandi during WROL for any firefight should be 1) tactical withdrawal, followed by 2) a hasty ambush. Continuing as long as is necessary to destroy attackers, cease their pursuit. IIRC, Max Velocity covers this quite well.

Aesop said...

If you're visible from 300-500 yards away, you weren't paying attention to avoiding danger areas, let alone selecting a patrol route that allows you to see what's going on without being shot at from that distance.

If you can see that far without anything intervening (such as terrain or vegetation), you should have been reconnoitering it with binoculars, etc., from suitable ground even farther away.

If terrain masks visibility, or there's dead space, or concealment from vegetation, that's the patrol route you should have selected.

As far as withdrawal-then-ambush, stay tuned. There's some recent history that sheds light on that approach.

RSR said...

300-500 was referencing those (typically obese) rambos who plan to snipe anything that moves during WROL.

Movements aren't just for patrols -- at times you want to interact w/ folks for trade, including intel gathering... Being visible from further out is generally a better call than suddenly appearing much closer.

RSR said...

*And the foolish sniping, driven by fear, in early WROL is what I was primarily referencing. People do stupid stuff, especially when scared, hungry, and/or desperate. Best bet during these times is to remain in a defensible position/bunker.