The ability to locate a combat target depends on the observer's position and skill in searching and maintaining observation of an area, and the target indications of the "enemy" during day or night.
Selection of a Position. A good position is one that offers maximum visibility of the area while affording cover and concealment. Position has two considerations -- the observer's tactical position in a location and his body position at that location.
Usually, the firer is told where to prepare his defensive position. However, some situations (such as the attack and reorganization on the objective) require him to choose his own defensive position.
Although target training courses prescribe conferences and demonstrations on choice of steady firing positions, the instruction does not normally include applying this skill. Therefore, instructors/trainers must emphasize the importance of the observer's position when conducting practical exercises in other target-detection techniques.
Observation of an Area. When a soldier moves into a new area, he quickly checks for enemy activity that could be an immediate danger. This search entails quick glances at specific points throughout the area rather than just sweeping the eyes across the terrain. The eyes are sensitive to slight movements occurring within the arc on which they are focused. However, they must be focused on a certain point to have this sensitivity.
If the soldier fails to locate the enemy during the initial search, he then begins a systematic examination known as the 50-meter overlapping strip technique of search (Figure B-1). Normally, the area nearest the soldier offers the greatest danger to him. Therefore, the search begins with the terrain nearest the observer's position.
Beginning at either flank, the soldier searches the terrain to his front in a 180-degree arc that is 50 meters deep. After reaching the opposite flank, the soldier searches over a second 50-meter strip farther out but overlapping the first strip by about 10 meters. The soldier continues until the entire area has been searched.
To benefit from his side vision, the soldier looks at certain points as he searches from one flank to the other. He remembers prominent terrain features and areas that offer cover and concealment to the enemy, learning the terrain as he searches it.
After completing his detailed search, the soldier maintains observation of the area. He should use a technique the same as his initial quick search of the area. He uses quick glances at various points throughout the entire area, focusing his eyes on certain features as he conducts this search. He devises a set sequence of searching the area to ensure complete coverage of all terrain. Since this quick search could fail to detect the initial enemy movement, the soldier routinely repeats a systematic search of the area. This systematic search is conducted anytime the attention of the soldier has been distracted from his area of responsibility.
Target Indicators. A target indicator is anything a soldier (friendly or enemy) does or fails to do that reveals his position. Since these indicators apply to both sides of the battlefield, a soldier learns target indicators from the standpoint of locating the enemy. At the same time, he must prevent the enemy from using the same indicators to locate him. These indicators can be grouped into three areas for instruction: sound, movement, and identifiable shapes.
Sound. Potential targets indicated by sounds (footsteps, coughing, or equipment noises) provide only a direction and general location. It is difficult to pin-point a specific target's location only by sound. However, the fact that an observer was alerted by a sound greatly increases the chances that he will locate the target through subsequent target indicators.
Movement. The problem in locating moving targets depends mainly on the speed of movement. Slow, deliberate movements are much harder to notice than those that are quick and jerky. The techniques previously outlined are the best procedures for locating moving targets.
Identifiable shapes. The lack of or poor use of camouflage and concealment are indicators that reveal most of the targets on the battlefield. Light reflecting from shiny surfaces or a contrast that presents a clearly defined outline are indicators easily noticed by an alert observer. For instruction, camouflage indicators are divided into three groups:
• Shine. Items such as belt buckles or other metal objects reflect light and act as a beacon to the wearer's position; therefore, such objects should be camouflaged. This is true during the day or night.
• Outlines. The human body and most types of military equipment are outlines known to all soldiers. The reliability of this indicator depends upon the visibility and experience of the observer. On a clear day, most soldiers can identify the enemy or equipment if there is a distinct outline. During poor visibility, it is not only harder to see outlines, but inexperienced troops often mistake stumps and rocks for enemy soldiers. Therefore, the soldier should learn the terrain during good visibility.
• Contrasts. If a soldier wearing a dark uniform moves in front of a snowbanks the contrast between the white snow and dark uniform makes him clearly visible. However, if he wears a white (or light-colored) uniform, he is harder to see. Contrast with the background is one of the hardest target indicators to avoid. During operations in which the soldier is moving, he is usually exposed to many types of color backgrounds. No camouflage uniform exists that can blend into all backgrounds. Therefore, a moving soldier must always be aware of the surrounding terrain and vegetation. A parapet of freshly dug earth around a fighting position is noticeable. Even if camouflaged, the position can still be located due to the materials used for concealing. Camouflage materials are usually cut from vegetation close by but eventually wilt and change color. An observer, seeing an area that has been stripped of natural growth, can assume there are close camouflaged emplacements.
Was this article helpful?