R&S Lessons Learned--Brigade Reconnaissance Troop Employment.
Formation of the BRT
The 2d BCT formed its BRT in January 1999, about six months before its deployment as the initial entry force into Kosovo. The Troop comprised two platoons of scouts (military occupational specialty 19D) led by Infantry or Armor lieutenants. Artillery Combat Observation and Lasing Teams (COLTs) often augmented the platoons for an additional target acquisition capability. The BCT has armed the BRT with .50 caliber M2 and lighter weapons, and the troop conducts mounted movement using hard-backed HMMWVs (high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles). Both Armor and Infantry captains have served as the troop commanders.
Parallels with the RSTA Squadron Reconnaissance Troops
In both peacekeeping and combat scenarios, the BRT provides the BCT with an unprecedented organic reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) asset. One can draw parallels between the missions of the 2d BCT's BRT and the Ground Reconnaissance Troops that will comprise three-quarters of the Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) Squadron in the Initial Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) now forming at Fort Lewis, Washington. The end-strength of the IBCT's RSTA Squadron will obviously be much greater than that of a single troop.
Witnesses to combat training center (CTC) opposing force (OPFOR) use of Soviet-style multiple waves of reconnaissance can attest to their effectiveness in observing the battlefield. A U.S. heavy BCT armed with a BRT, or other organic R&S assets in addition to battalion TF scouts, can achieve similar layering effects resulting in exceptional reconnaissance of a brigade area of operations (AO).
At the CMTC, the 2d BCT found that its BRT was most effective when deployed several kilometers forward of the TF scouts in the brigade AO. Typical BRT targets in an adversary defense included obstacles under construction, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles in deep-hide positions, and the adversary reserves, both antitank (AT) and tank. Interdiction of enemy engineer efforts proved most effective. During adversary attacks, the BRT deployed forward of the TF scouts to provide early warning of enemy reconnaissance and main body elements, handing them off to the scouts. While placing the BRT at somewhat greater risk of compromise, the BCT achieved great depth in its R&S fight.
While the BRT was most effective when deployed against deep targets, we learned that concentrating too many BRT teams deep could result in a 'black hole" on the battlefield between the shallowest BRT elements and the deepest TF scout teams. Particularly during an enemy attack, elements that the BRT tracked and attempted to hand off to TF scouts could become "lost" and change direction, or drop dismounts undetected in the gap between the R&S echelons. We found that deploying both BRT and TF scout teams in depth is critical for continuous observation. Joint training of the BRT and TF scouts before deployment also improved their communication and coordinated observation of enemy elements.
Because the BRT deploys far forward in the brigade AO, early and quiet movement is crucial to the Troop's preservation. The BCT sent the BRT forward as early as the "Division" (CMTC Commander, Operations Group [COG]) would allow- 36 to 48 hours before the battle and up to 24 hours earlier than the TF scouts. While spending that much time in listening post (LP) and observation post (OP) positions is taxing on the soldiers, it maximizes their observation of the battlefield and reduces their risk of exposure during infiltration.
We learned that rapid and quiet infiltration also increased BRT survivability. Whenever possible, the platoons were air-inserted within a couple kilometers of their planned LP/OP sites. If the adversary did not find the teams on the landing zone (LZ), they most often survived the entire mission by using strict light and noise discipline. The BRT's HMMWVs were useful only for taking teams to the vicinity of the line of departure (LD) since any deep vehicular movement, even using concealed trails at slow speed, tipped off the enemy to the teams' locations. If airlift was not available, the BRT left its vehicles near the LD using camouflage, and moved on foot several kilometers to their LP/ OPs. BRT use of vehicles in real-world missions would depend on the adversary's collection capabilities.
When first using the BRT far forward in the brigade sector, most leaders were concerned about enemy elements finding the troop's teams. The teams reported observations but did not engage even soft targets or call for fire because of concerns that the OPFOR might find them. However, the BCT discovered that with careful selection of routes and LP/OP sites, enemy elements had great difficulty intercepting the BRT--even if it was more active. The value gained by the troop's destruction of adversary LP/ OPs with direct fire and disrupting enemy obstacle construction or maneuver rehearsals with observed indirect fire was more significant than the loss of the few teams that the enemy engaged. Prompt casualty evacuation and "re-seed" of compromised troop teams assured us sustained R&S operations.
Also worth noting is the fact that the command, control, and communications ([C.sup.3]) tying together the entire BCT R&S effort paved the way to success. A junior Infantry captain, a former scout platoon leader assigned to the brigade staff, served as Chief of Reconnaissance (COR). The COR executed the BCT R&S plan, coordinating with the brigade staff, BRT commander, TF S2s, and TF scout platoon leaders. He oversaw rehearsals and deconflicted movement and reporting during the R&S fight. The COR worked with the Fire Support Officer (FSO) to protect the teams from artillery by covering them with no-fire areas (NFAs) or critical friendly zones (CFZs)  that allowed the BRT's teams room for limited relocation of their LP/OPs when necessary. Because of his immersion in the R&S mission, the COR was also instrumental in assisting the BOT S2 section to develop the enemy picture.
Thanks to 1LT Kevin Kingsley, former Assistant S2 of the 2d BCT, 1st Infantry Division, and CPT Jim Moreno, former Assistant S2 of the 1-77 Armor Battalion, 2d BCT for their contributions to this Quick Tip.
(1.) See the article by Captain Andrew T. Johnson and Major John E. Della-Giustina in the July-September 2000 issue of MIPB for definitions of these terms if they are unfamiliar.
Captain Bob Davidson is currently an MI Captains Career Course (MICCC) student at Fort Huachuca. His past assignments include service as Assistant Brigade S2, 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division; G2 Operations Battle Captain, Multi-National Brigade--East (MNB-E), Task Force Falcon, Kosovo; Electronic Warfare Platoon Leader, D Company 101st MI Battalion; and Counterintelligence Systems Officer, Plans and Operations Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR). CPT Davidson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University Readers may contact the author via E-mail at email@example.com.
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|Title Annotation:||reconnaissance and surveillance|
|Author:||Davidson, Robert S.|
|Publication:||Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2000|
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