The following narrative describes the three types of combat patrols which are Raid, Ambush, and Security.
1. RAID - A raid is a surprise attack against a position or installation for a specific purpose other than seizing and holding the terrain. It is conducted to destroy a position or installation, to destroy or capture enemy soldiers or equipment, or to free prisoners. A raid patrol retains terrain just long enough to accomplish the intent of the raid. A raid always ends with a planned withdrawal off the objective and a return to the main body.
2. AMBUSH - An ambush is a surprise attack from a concealed position on a moving or temporarily halted target. An ambush patrol does not need to seize or hold any terrain. It can include an assault to close with and destroy the target, or an attack by fire only.
3. SECURITY - A security patrol is sent out from a unit location when the unit is stationary or during a halt to search the local area, detect any enemy forces near the main body, and to engage and destroy the enemy within the capability of the patrol. This type of combat patrol is normally sent out by units operating in close terrain with limited fields of observation and fire. Although this type of combat patrol seeks to make direct enemy contact and to destroy enemy forces within its capability, it should try to avoid decisive engagement. A security patrol detects and disrupts enemy forces that are conducting reconnaissance of the main body or that are massing to conduct an attack. Security patrols are normally away from the main body of the unit for limited periods, returning frequently to coordinate and rest. They do not operate beyond the range of communications and supporting fires from the main body, especially mortar fires.
COMBAT PATROL PLANNING - There are three essential elements for a combat patrol: Assault Element, Support
Element and Security Element. Assault Elements accomplish the mission during actions on the objective. Support Elements suppress or destroy enemy on the objective in support of the assault element. Security Elements assist in isolating the objective by preventing enemy from entering and leaving the objective area as well as by ensuring the patrol’s withdrawal route remains open. Leaders locate where they can best influence the situation, which is usually with either the support element or assault element. The second in charge normally locates at the opposite location of the leader. Finally, the size of each element is based on the situation and the leader’s analysis of METT-TC.
The following are the key Combat Patrol elements:
1. ASSAULT ELEMENT - The assault element is the combat patrol’s decisive effort. Its task is to conduct actions on the objective. The assault element is responsible for accomplishing the unit’s task and purpose. This element must be capable (through inherent capabilities or positioning relative to the enemy) of destroying or seizing the target of the combat patrol. Tasks typically associated with the assault element include:
• Conduct of assault across the objective to destroy enemy equipment, capture or kill enemy, and clearing of key terrain and enemy positions.
• Deployment close enough to the objective to conduct an immediate assault if detected.
• Being prepared to support itself if the support element cannot suppress the enemy.
• Providing support to a breach element in reduction of obstacles (if required).
• Planning detailed fire control and distribution.
• Conducting controlled withdrawal from the objective.
Analysis of METT-TC, particularly for a raid, may result in the requirement to organize a separate breach force. At times this may include breaching an obstacle.
Additional tasks/special purpose teams assigned may include:
• Search teams – to find and collect documents, equipment and information that can be used as intelligence.
• Prisoner teams – to capture, secure, and account for prisoners and detainees.
• Demolition teams – to plan and execute the destruction of
obstacles and enemy equipment.
• Breach team – to create small-scale breaches in protective obstacles to facilitate the completion of the patrol’s primary task.
• Aid and litter teams – to identify, collect, render immediate aid and coordinate medical evacuation for casualties
2. SUPPORT ELEMENT - The support element suppresses the enemy on the objective using direct and indirect fires. The support element is a shaping effort that sets conditions for the mission’s decisive effort. This element must be capable, through inherent means or positioning relative to the enemy, of supporting the assault element. The support force can be divided up into two or more elements if required. The support element is organized to address a secondary threat of enemy interference with the assault element(s). The support force suppresses, fixes, or destroys
elements on the objective. The support force’s primary responsibility is to suppress enemy to prevent reposition against decisive effort. The support force:
• Initiates fires and gains fire superiority with crew-served weapons and indirect fires.
• Controls rates and distribution of fires.
• Shifts/ceases fire on signal.
• Supports the withdrawal of the assault element.
3. SECURITY ELEMENT - The security element(s) is a shaping force that has three roles. The first role is to isolate the objective from enemy personnel and vehicles attempting to enter the objective area. Their actions range from simply providing early warning, to blocking enemy movement. This element may require several different forces located in various positions. The patrol leader is careful to consider enemy reserves or response forces that, once the engagement begins, will be alerted. The second role of the security element is to prevent enemy from escaping the objective area. The third role is to secure the patrol’s withdrawal route. There is a subtle yet important distinction for the security element. All elements of the patrol are responsible for their own local security. What distinguishes the security element is that they are protecting the entire patrol. Their positions must be such that they can, in accordance with their engagement criteria, provide early warning of approaching enemy. The security element is organized to address the primary threat to the patrol—being discovered and defeated by security forces prior to execution of actions on the objective. To facilitate the success of the assault element, the security element must fix or block (or at a minimum screen) all enemy security or response forces located on parts of the battlefield away from the raid.