A patrol is a detachment of ground forces sent out by a larger unit for the purpose of gathering information or carrying our a destructive, harassing, or security mission. Patrols may range in size from fire team to platoon, depending on the type patrol, its mission, and its distance from the parent unit. While most combat patrols should be platoon-sized, reinforced with crew-served weapons, the Marine rifle squad is ideally suited for reconnaissance patrols.
Reconnaissance Patrol. A reconnaissance patrol collects information about the enemy, terrain, or resources. It relies on stealth and fights only when necessary to accomplish the mission or defend itself.
Combat Patrol. A combat patrol is a fighting patrol. Because the patrol is assigned a mission which may require it to engage the enemy, a combat patrol is stronger and more heavily armed than a reconnaissance patrol. A combat patrol is assigned a mission to destroy enemy troops, equipment, or installations; capture enemy documents, equipment, or installations; and, as a secondary responsibility, gather information.
Formation and Order of Movement
In organizing the patrol for movement, the patrol leader determines the formation in which the patrol will move to the objective area. He also determines the location of units, teams, and individuals in the formation. The standard squad and fire team formations are adaptable to any patrol. Considerations impacting on the patrol formations are:
• Probability of contact with the enemy.
• Terrain, weather, vegetation, and visibility.
• Time allotted for the patrol to accomplish its mission and return to friendly lines/areas.
Exercise of Control
A. The patrol leader positions himself where he can best control the patrol as a whole. The assistant patrol leader moves at or near the rear and prevents straggling. All patrol members must stay alert and pass on signals and instructions. A signal to halt may be given by any patrol member, but only the patrol leader may give the signal to resume.
B. Arm-and-hand signals are the primary means of communication within a patrol and should be used exclusively when near the enemy. All members must know standard infantry signals as well as any special signals and be alert to receive and pass them to other members.
C. The patrol leader should speak just loudly enough to be heard. At night, or when close to the enemy, he halts the patrol and has subordinate leaders come forward. He gives the information to them and they then pass it on to their subordinates by moving quietly from man to man. R
D. adios provide a means of positive control within a large patrol, but should only be used when arm-and-hand signals or face-to-face communication is impractical.
E. The patrol leader may designate other sound signals if he can be sure they will serve their intended purpose. Sound signals must be natural sounds that are easily understood. If used, they must be planned for and rehearsed, keeping in mind that fewer signals are better.
F. Night vision devices, if available, are excellent aids in exercising control of the patrol. Also, small strips of luminous tape on the back of the cap or collar of patrol members can aid in keeping visual contact with the man in front.
G. An important aspect of control is personnel accountability. Personnel must be accounted for after crossing danger areas, after halts, and after enemy contact.
1. When moving in a column, the patrol leader turns to the man behind him and says, "Send up the count". This is passed back to the last man who starts the count. The last man sends up the count by tapping the man in front of him and saying "one" in a low voice. This man taps the man in front of him and says, "two". This continues until the count reaches the patrol leader. The men behind the patrol leader, plus the patrol leader, and the men he knows to be ahead of him, should equal the total of the patrol.
2. After enemy contact or after dispersal and reassembly at a rally point, the patrol leader or senior man obtains a count by the quickest method available. Time and the situation permitting, he should go from man to man himself. This also gives him the opportunity to check on the condition of the men.
Combat patrols are assigned missions which usually require them to actively engage the enemy. As a secondary mission, they collect and report information about the enemy and terrain. Combat patrols are employed in both offensive and defensive operations. Combat patrols can inflict damage on the enemy, establish or maintain contact with friendly or enemy forces, deny the enemy access to key terrain, probe enemy positions, and protect against surprise and ambush.
Types of Combat Patrols and Their Missions
A. Raid Patrols. Raid patrols destroy or capture enemy personnel or equipment, destroy installations, or free friendly personnel who have been captured by the enemy.
B. Contact Patrols. Contact patrols establish and/or maintain contact with friendly or enemy forces.
C. Economy of Force Patrols. Economy of force patrols perform limited objective missions such as seizing and holding key terrain to allow maximum forces to be used elsewhere.
D. Ambush Patrols. Ambush patrols conduct ambushes of enemy patrols, carrying parties, foot columns, and convoys.
E. Security Patrols. Security patrols detect infiltration by the enemy and protect against surprise or ambush.