Military Tactical Maneauvers: Reconnaissance Techniques

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Military Tactical Maneauvers: Reconnaissance Techniques

Military Tactical Maneauvers: Reconnaissance Techniques Reconnaissance


Target acquisition fundamentals to miltars who are currently or may one day find themselves serving in reconnaissance units.


What is Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance, or recon, may be simply thought of as “exploring.”  It is exploring beyond the zone or safety, friendly force control, or allied control to get useful information about either your enemy, or environment for analysis.

Reconnaissance can be one of the most valuable strategies to use, but is also one of the most dangerous.  That is why many special ops divisions of each armed forces groups have such stringent training and choose specialized individuals that are known for their skill in evading capture and enemy forces.

There are many examples of recon, including subs, aircrafts, satellites, and more, but I want to focus on “troop recon” by groups such as the Seals, Rangers, or other Military Special Forces and Intelligence Specialists.  This is more easily adaptable to the “backyard use.”

Speed is a key component in reconnaissance.

The key in reconnaissance is speed.  Speed is king.  Usually recon missions have been done by small, mobile groups that have speed.  They have been on horseback, in vehicles, or even on ATV/Dirtbikes in the past with the operators trained to be quick to mount or dismount their vehicles.

Civil Recon:  Survey of civil engineering part of the space (buildings, civil organizations, areas, people)

Reconnaissance Techniques

Reconnaissance-in-force (offensive recon)

Reconnaissance-in-force is usually to obtain an enemy’s abilities, provisions, armament, or disposition.  The objective here is to attack with a strong, but not decisive, force so we get a strong defensive reaction from the opposing force to determine their strength, deployment, tactics, and more.

Reconnaissance-by-fire (speculative fire)

Speculative fire is where you fire where you think the enemy may be on the chance that they will move or fire back, revealing their position.


In Reconnaissance-pull, we locate and quickly take advantage of weaknesses.  This allows us to avoid obstacles and strong holds while exploiting gaps in their defenses.

There are many different types of recon.

Area Reconnaissance

In area recon, decide what your objective is, then use vantage points to observe it and the surrounding area.  There are two different types of area recon.

Terrain Recon: Survey of the Terrain (features, weather, etc)

Force Recon: Survey of Enemy Force (Equipment, number, organization, provisions, target location)

You would want to ensure that you don’t get surprised by unsuitable terrain condition or opposing forces.  Think about things you may want to pass through or avoid such as towns, forests, and ridgelines, and even land formations that you may want to utilize or occupy.

Civil Reconnaissance

Civil Reconnaissance is where we gather broad information about population sizes and behaviors.  Usually this is done while surveying and assessing infrastructure.

How do civilians interact with the military forces?  What are the structures, groups, or people like?  What events are happening?

This can be a difficult task, but is key in raising situational awareness.

Route Reconnaissance

When we are performing route reconnaissance, we are focused on a route, road, path, railway, waterway, or channel.

We can recon the area as a defensive measure to choose routes that provide best cover and concealment.  We can also choose the best places to pick up or drop off.  It is important to keep the recon ahead of the main body enough to give early warning.

The size and shape of paths is important as well.  Platoons and Vehicles need to make it through.

We can also recon as an offensive preparation to decide how to gain the advantage on the opposing force during their movements.

Zone Reconnaissance

This can be both terrain or force oriented.  In zone reconnaissance we aquire information about routes, obstacles, and resources within a specific location.  We can also gain knowledge about enemy forces in the location, or how they have occupied the zone.

We want to find the enemy location, strengths, and weaknesses.

How do we use the concept of reconnaissance around our homes and neighborhood?

It is easy to explain all the different types to you, but the hardest part for most people is to adapt these techniques to “back-yard” use.  Remember that we should be following the non-aggression principle of, “leave people the crap alone unless they are trying to hurt you.”

What does this mean?  It means that we need to look mostly at a defensive use for these.  This is starting to make the task of adaptation of tactics even more difficult.

Defensive Area and Civil Reconnaissance

In a defensive situation, we have the benefit of knowing the terrain prior to another.  We can keep scouting our neighborhood for exit strategies, force multipliers, covers, and concealment.  We can work toward neighbors that are on-board with the defense of the neighborhood.  This allows us to recon our own terrain and area, determine our strengths and weakness, and to reduce the benefit of terrain recon of opposing forces.

You can also find your best vantage points… places that you would take advantage of if stuck in defense.

Defensive Civil and Zone Reconnaissance

We need to take an active role to ensure early warning systems are in place around our homes and properties.  Cameras give you a look at the opposing force.  Keep aware of events happening that could affect your own safety.

Defensive Route Reconnaissance

Think wilderness survival and trapping.  Funnel the animal straight into the trap.  You can use this for opposing forces trying to get in.

You can also use route recon for bugging-out so you know which roads to take or which direction to go, but make sure that the recon team / person is adept at what they are doing.

Defensive Force Reconnaissance

You once again have the advantage to stage items that will frighten the enemy into giving their positions away with no danger to yourself.  You also have the advantage to stage surveillance all over, so there are few surprises.

You only have to ask two questions to come up with all of this:

How do I stop offensive recon against me and my team?

How do I place reconnaissance and surveillance multipliers in my favor, in my area?

The object of recon is to gain valuable knowledge that may lead to victory.  Limit theirs and raise yours.  Period.

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Ken is addicted to fitness and mountain biking. He is such a thrill seeker, people are starting to be concerned!He enjoys MTBing, Hiking, Climbing, Geocaching, Orienteering, Weight Lifting, and Wilderness Survival.

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