Target Detection

To be proficient, a Marine rifleman must be able to detect targets, determine the range to targets, and accurately engage the targets. There are many variables affecting a Marine's ability to detect and determine the range to combat targets. An enemy rarely fails to use some type of cover or concealment when he is in the vicinity of Marine units. Enemy targets on the battlefield may be single or multiple, stationary or moving, or completely hidden from view. Success in locating an enemy target will depend upon the observer's position, his skill in searching an area, and his ability to recognize target indicators.

a. Target Indicators. Most combat targets are detected at close range by smoke, flash, dust, noise, or movement, and are usually seen only momentarily. Target indicators are anything that reveal an individual's position to the enemy. These indicators are grouped into three general areas; movement, sound, and improper camouflage.

(1) Movement. The human eye is attracted to movement, especially sudden movement. The Marine need not be looking directly at an object to notice movement. The degree of difficulty in locating moving targets depends primarily on the speed of movement. A slowly moving target will be harder to detect than one with quick jerky movements.

(2) Sound. Sound can also be used to detect an enemy position. Sound may be made by movement, rattling equipment, or talking. Sound provides only a general location of the enemy, making it difficult to pinpoint a target by sound alone. However, sound can alert the Marine to the presence of a target and increase his probability of locating it through other indicators.

(3) Improper Camouflage. There are three indicators caused by improper camouflage: shine, outline, and contrast with the background. Most targets on the battlefield are detected

1 due to improper camouflage. However, many times an observation post or enemy firing

2 position will blend almost perfectly with the natural background. Only through extremely

3 careful, detailed searching will these positions be revealed.

5 (a) Shine. Shine is created from reflective objects such as metal or glass. It may also

6 come from pools of water and even the natural oils from the skin. Shine acts as a beacon

7 to the target's position.

8 (b) Outline. Most enemy soldiers will camouflage themselves, their equipment, and their

9 positions. The outline of objects such as the body, head and shoulders, weapons, and web

10 gear are recognizable even from a distance. The human eye will often pick up a

11 recognizable shape and concentrate on it even if the object cannot be identified right away.

12 The reliability of this indicator depends upon visibility and the experience of the observer.

13 (c) Contrast With the Background. Indicators in this category include objects that

14 stand out against (contrast with) a background because of differences in color, surface,

15 and shape. For instance, a target wearing a dark uniform would be clearly visible in an

16 area of snow or sand. Geometric shapes, such as helmets or rifle barrels, can be easy to

17 detect in a wooded area. Fresh soil around a fighting hole contrasts with the otherwise

18 unbroken ground surface. While observing an area, take note of anything that looks out

19 of place or unusual and study it in more detail. This will greatly increase your chances of

20 spotting a hidden enemy.

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