For most Soldiers, finding the target is a greater problem than hitting it. Target detection is the process of "Locating," marking, prioritizing, and determining the range to combat targets. Target detection must be conducted as part of individual training and tactical exercises, and must be integrated into day and night LFXs.
The ability to "Locate a Combat Target" depends on the observer’s--
• Skill in scanning.
• Ability to observe the area and recognize the type of indicators made by the target.
1. SELECTION OF A POSITION - A good position is one that offers maximum visibility of the area, while affording cover and concealment. In this case, the word “position” refers to both the observer’s location on the ground and the position of his body at that location. NOTE: Instructors must continuously refer to and emphasize the importance of the observer’s position when conducting practical exercises. Depending on the situation, the individual Soldier may or may not select his own position.
• In most defensive situations, the Soldier is told where to prepare his position.
• Some situations (for example, the attack and reorganization on the objective) require the Soldier to select his own position.
2. SCANNING - To scan the area, Soldiers use three methods of search:
• Self-preservation method.
• 50-meter overlapping strip method.
• Maintaining observation of the area.
a. Self-Preservation Method of Search - When moving into a new area, Soldiers use the self-preservation method of search. To perform this method, use the following techniques:
(1) For approximately 30 seconds, quickly scan the area for enemy activity that may be of immediate danger.
(2) Make quick glances at specific points throughout the area, rather than just sweeping the eyes across the terrain in one continuous panoramic view.
NOTE: The eyes are sensitive to slight movements that occur within the area the eyes are focused on; panoramic views do not allow the eyes to detect the slight movements of a concealed target.
b. 50-Meter Overlapping Strip Method of Search - If the Soldier fails to locate the enemy during the initial search, he must begin a systematic examination known as the 50-meter overlapping strip method of search.
To perform this method--
(1) Begin the search with the area offering the greatest potential danger, the terrain nearest to your position.
(2) Beginning at either flank, systematically search the terrain to your front in a 180-degree arc, 50 meters in depth.
NOTE: Become familiar with the terrain as you search it. Take advantage of peripheral vision by focusing the eyes on specific points as you search from one flank to the other. Make mental notes of prominent terrain features and areas that may offer cover and concealment to the enemy.
(3) After reaching the opposite flank, search a second 50-meter strip farther out, but overlapping the first strip by approximately 10 meters.
(4) Continue in this manner until the entire area has been searched.
NOTE: This method should also be used as part of maintaining observation of the area and when the observer has been distracted from his area of responsibility.
c. Maintaining Observation of the Area - After completing his detailed search, the Soldier may be required to maintain observation of the area.
To perform this method--
• Glance quickly at various points throughout the entire area, focusing the eyes on specific features.
• Always search the area in the same manner to ensure complete coverage of all terrain.
NOTE: Since this quick search may fail to detect the initial movement of an enemy, the observer should periodically repeat the procedures outlined in the 50-meter overlapping strip method of search.
3. TARGET INDICATORS - A target indicator is anything that a Soldier (friendly or enemy) does or fails to do that reveals his position. Since these indicators apply equally to both sides of the battlefield, Soldiers must learn to use target indicators to locate the enemy and to prevent the enemy from using the same indicators to locate them.
For instructional purposes, "these indicators can be grouped into three general areas:"
• Improper camouflage.
a. Sound - Sounds, such as footsteps, coughing, or equipment noises, provide only a direction and general location, making it difficult to pinpoint a target by sound alone. However, detection of a sound alerts the observer, greatly increasing the possibility that he will eventually locate the target through other target indicators.
b. Movement - The degree of difficulty in locating moving targets depends primarily on the speed of movement. Slow, deliberate movements are much more difficult to notice than those that are quick and jerky.
c. Improper Camouflage - The lack or improper use of camouflage or concealment reveals the majority of targets detected on the battlefield; alert observers easily notice indicators such as light reflecting from shiny surfaces or a contrast with the background.
Three general indicators may reveal a camouflaged or concealed target:
• Regularity of outline.
• Contrast with the background.
(1) Shine - Metal objects, such as belt buckles, reflect light and act as a beacon to the wearer’s position. This is as true at night as it is during the day.
(2) Regularity of Outline - Humans and most types of military equipment cast outlines that are familiar to all Soldiers. The outlines of rifles, helmets, and vehicles are all easily identified. The reliability of this indicator depends on the visibility and the experience of the observer. On a clear day, most Soldiers can easily identify enemy riflemen or equipment if a distinctive outline is presented. At night or during other periods of poor visibility, seeing outlines is not only more difficult, but inexperienced troops will frequently mistake stumps and rocks for enemy Soldiers. This is an additional reason for Soldiers to become completely familiar with the terrain during periods of good visibility.
(3) Contrast with the Background - If a Soldier wearing a dark uniform moves into a position in front of a snow bank, the contrast between the white snow and the dark uniform makes him clearly visible. However, if he was wearing a white or light-colored uniform, he would be more difficult to see. Contrast with the background is the most difficult target indicator for a Soldier to avoid. During operations in which the Soldier is moving, he is usually exposed to numerous background colors. Since no single type of personal camouflage blends in with all areas, a moving Soldier must be continually aware of the surrounding terrain and vegetation.