Student Review: HEAT Reconnaissance Nov 2019
A new class and one of the best classes I’ve taken at MVT. Daytime only. Eight students taught by 1SG and Max. First day of class provided context and overview of the reconnaissance mission. It is a blend of intelligence, infantry tactics, field skills and communications. Modeled on Long Range Surveillance Units from the U.S. Army, a reconnaissance team can penetrate far behind enemy lines to gather intelligence on enemy forces and installations. Successful operations require huge amounts of planning before anyone even leaves the FOB. Even when these units existed within the Army, the survival rate for a team was expected to be low. The second and third days were practical missions in the field against OPFOR targets to illuminate the classroom work.
Drawing on historical examples like LRSU, SOG and SAS, students were able to analyze successful tactics and failures to illuminate how to plan and conduct reconnaissance missions. A combination of classroom and practical instruction illuminated different aspects of the mission.
Although no prerequisites are listed, students are well served by attending at least HEAT 1 & 2 and preferably the Squad Leader Course. prior to attempting this class. The need to at least be familiar with team tactics for break contact drills should motivate the student of reconnaissance to get after those quals! There was repeated emphasis on immediate action drills to save lives during a contact for a reason.
The two priorities of reconnaissance: (1) Collect required information of intelligence value and (2) Do not be compromised. Easy enough right? As with most things, these can be broken down into individual and unit skills. The special requirements of the recon team means each member must be individually skilled in basic infantry tasks. You need to know what gear to take and how to run it. You must have a high level of proficiency with land navigation and movement. Your fitness level should be as high as possible. You must be able to recognize and retain information vital to satisfying a commander’s intelligence requirements. You should have some skill in recording and transmitting that information from your position to the HQ. Your basic infantry skill level should be high.
During a three or four day class it is not possible to fully develop all the skills needed to succeed at such a mission. The best that can be done is touch on the relevant subjects and motivate the student to dive deeper. 1SG successfully delivered a torrent of information that allowed the students to begin to understand what is involved in executing reconnaissance in a hostile environment. There will be no CASEVAC or QRF. No one is coming. Think about what that means right there.
Some students were given an opportunity to prepare and deliver a set of Mission Orders. The reconnaissance team version of this differs from the combat patrol in some important ways. Foremost, the priority of terrain over everything else is apparent. This affects critical parts of the brief and governs movement, equipment and time. I found this to be challenging and the most rewarding part of the course. Planning forces you to consider things you may never have before. Planning “Actions On” requires a leader to be realistic and disciplined about their team and what is to be accomplished. What needs to happen if the enemy gets a vote or you get compromised?
The student is given tactical problems in the field requiring decision under fire or compromise and react to contact. The value of training this in a realistic field environment under skilled instruction cannot be over estimated.
What I found most interesting was the intersection of intelligence, patrolling and communications. All of these skills are vital whether you are in a military line unit or part of a CUTT. There is a growing sense that time is running out to upload the software. Best get on that.
Any potential leader or student of reconnaissance should consider placing this course as your top training priority for the coming year. If you do not feel you are ready, work on the suggested prerequisites right now.