There are four methods of route reconnaissance. These are map,
air, ground, and air-ground.
Which method is used will depend on mission
urgency, enemy activity, weather conditions, and availability of resources.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each method. The method used will
usually be specified in the mission order.
A map recon is made by studying the most current maps and
overlays of the route available. It is the easiest recon to perform, but is
also the least reliable. Such a recon is only as good as the map used. For
this reason a map recon is usually only the first step in preparing for the
mission. It is always better to actually observe the route.
A ground recon is conducted by actually driving over the route.
Its major disadvantage is that it is the most time-consuming method.
Another disadvantage is that it is the in which there is the greatest chance
of contact with the enemy. Its major advantage is that it provides the most
detailed information about the route. It can also be conducted in all but
the most severe weather conditions. Ground recon is the most common method
employed by MP.
When rapid coverage of a long route is desired, the best method
may be to conduct the recon by air. Using aircraft, mainly helicopters, the
patrol can fly over a large section of the route very quickly. It may also
be used over a short route if time does not permit a ground reconnaissance.
There are several disadvantages to this method.
Bad weather may keep
aircraft from flying. It also requires particularly acute map reading and
observation skills on the part of patrol members. The number of personnel
may be limited by the type of aircraft available.
As noted in the preceding paragraph, helicopters are the aircraft
of choice for this type of reconnaissance. This is because of their ability
to maneuver and hover.
They also are often able to land at or near a
particular feature to allow the reconnaissance party to more closely examine
that feature. Great care must be exercised to provide security when this is
An air-ground recon combines the advantages of the two methods.
It also eliminates some of the disadvantages of each.
The ground element
can take a detailed look at the route while the air element looks at the
terrain adjacent to the route.
An air-ground recon is especially useful