News: Recon platoon effectively uses Vietnam reconnaissance strategies
Story by Senior Airman Erica Picariello
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RAMROD, Afghanistan — A chess player slowly ponders his next move, a football coach tactically decides which play he'll pull from his arsenal on fourth down, a squirrel crosses a road during midday traffic and a battalion commander plots his companies on a battlefield.
All these scenarios are different but have one thing in common: Strategy.
Sometimes the most effective strategy is what has been tried and true.
The 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment reconnaissance platoon soldiers are not reinventing the wheel using information-gathering tactics proven effective against the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
"Today, Vietnam tactics are finding their place in the deserts and fields of Regional Command South Afghanistan," said Lt. Anthony Kivlehan, a 1-12 IN BN recon platoon leader.
"Vietnam Long Range Surveillance Patrols or Long Range Surveillance Detachments go beyond the simple principles of patrolling to ensure that their signature on the battlefield is small but effective enough to operate without unnecessary movement and personnel."
LRS-P or LRS-D typically operated with extreme noise and light disciple outside a battalion or division area of operations to gain intelligence on enemy movements and transitions into United States zones of interest.
"Our recon platoon is inserted many kilometers away from the area of operations before the mission begins to collect patterns of life information as well as any other specific command directed information," said Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Payne, a 1-12 recon platoon sergeant.
Patterns-o-life information can include traffic direction throughout the day, the local national's main source of transportation, what time they wake up to go to work and what time the local markets begin and end.
"The trained eyes of reconnaissance soldiers can provide detail knowledge of roads, village construction, vehicle traffic, and patterns of life that may be useful for follow on operations," Kivlehan said.
"Although the methods of collection and transmission are classified, their impact to the larger force may save lives and allow the receiving unit to know where and where not, to look for insurgent forces," the Olympia, Wash., native added.
During the fight, the reconnaissance platoon does not have to engage the enemy to be effective.
By performing stealthy reconnaissance and security tasks, the reconnaissance platoon makes it easier for the battalion commander to maneuver companies, concentrate combat power, and prevent surprise by providing him with current and continuous battlefield information, according to Army field manual 7-92.
"We have 'eyes-on' where the battle isn't," said Payne, a Cartersville, Ga., native. "That way we can relay over-all information to the battalion commander and keep the enemy from sneaking up on our soldiers."
By using Vietnam reconnaissance tactics, the 1-12 Recon Platoon has been able to successfully reduce their footprint on the battlefield, delivering information that even new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology can't deliver.
"Even though UAV platforms provide imagery and real-time feeds to commanders, certain platforms have noise and light signatures in the sky that may tip off enemy forces in the area," Kivlehan said. "In addition, UAV platforms cannot observe a target area with the constant surveillance that a reconnaissance team can provide."
The efforts of the 1-12 Recon Platoon give the battalion commander that much-needed edge over his opponents on the battle field; an advantage the chess player and football coach wish they had and the poor squirrel couldn't even dream of.