This is a two part study on reconnaissance in future battlefield and the possible uses of individual mechanized armor and other advanced equipment.
A) What is mechanized reconnaissance at present day?
B) How will the requirements change in the immediate future, regarding War on Terror and Other than war operations
A) Present day equipment
B) Future possibilities
- “Mech” type vehicles
- Wheeled Vehicles
- Tracked Vehicles
- Biological suits (Muscle suits)
Part 1A: What is mechanized reconnaissance at present day?
From the early 20th Century Military units at Battalion or Regiment level have had dedicated units for scouting out routes of advance or to find enemy
positions and to some extent penetrate enemy front line. At first these units moved mostly on foot or they used horses as transport.
The advent of Motorized and Mechanized infantry brought along the need for the reconnaissance troops to move faster in order to keep up with the
Mechanized Reconnaissance units can be loosely divided into two types. Heavy recon units consist mainly of Main Battle Tanks (MBT). Light units are
commonly equipped with armored cars, tracked or wheeled APCs, soft vehicles and dedicated recon vehicles. Light recon units can be further subdivided
into vehicle centered and infantry centered.
Recon units equipped with MBTs are mainly used to scout out enemy front line and to tie down the enemy forces in order to allow the main attack force
to maneuver for engagement.
Vehicle based recon units commonly use dedicated recon vehicles like German Fenneck or Russian BMRs. These units use the advanced sensory equipment of
their vehicles to observe the enemy movements. These units are highly effective in open terrain, but they suffer in the narrow and short fields of
vision in urban or forested environments. Vehicle centered recon units are rarely able to infiltrate through enemy positions, but they usually offer
good crew protection and decent armament for self protection. It’s fairly common to have combined MBT and Recon vehicle units; hybrid unit structure
offers good combination of firepower, survivability and surveillance capability. Problem with fully mounted recon is the inevitable fact that enemy
knows you’re coming because vehicles are relatively easy to spot.
Infantry centered units use APCs or soft vehicles mainly for transport. For example when enemy forces are either spotted or suspected ahead, unit will
dismount for foot patrolling. Patrols will then move either along the enemy’s positions or try to penetrate the front in order to gain information
on enemy’s command and communication assets as well as indirect fire emplacements. Usually after the dismount the vehicle will fall back and act as
communication link between the patrols and main elements of the attacking force.
Later on this study will mostly handle the light recon units, since the heavy units will most likely use the same vehicles as the main fighting force
of the armored battalion.
Common mission profiles for light recon units:
- Route reconnaissance
- Area Reconnaissance
- Target Reconnaissance
- Observation posts, both open and covert
- Engineering Reconnaissance
- NBC Survey
Route recon is used to scout out attack routes for advancing friendly troops. It’s objectives are usually finding out enemy positions, detecting
minefields and obstacles, screening flanks of the main force and suppressing defenders by directing indirect fire.
Area recons objective is to find out if target area contains hostiles and or traces of hostile activity. It can also be combined with directing
Target reconnaissance is tasked if there is a specific point were enemy presence is suspected. It’s usually done covertly. Usually troops close in
on foot to avoid detection.
Observation is used to monitor enemy movements. It’s mainly used in delay and defensive operations as well as in peace keeping/enforcing
Engineering recon is normally part of the route recon, it includes not only the detection of minefields, but also survey of the routes condition,
bridge conditions, survey of possible fortification sites, artillery positions and the work needed to make the route passable for both combat and
NBC survey is used to determine if the area is under the influence of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
Properly trained reconnaissance unit can also be used as a Battalion or Regiments fast mobile reserve and organic spec-ops force.
Recon troops should be hand picked from the mother unit. Main qualities of a recon soldier are ability to work alone/in small teams, ability to react
rapidly into changing situations and most importantly to improvise, because his superiors usually don’t have clue about recon operations.
Reconnaissance and Surveillance Operations—Canadian Land Forces manual about armoured reconnaissance
Finnish Army Armored Recon Training
For a quick guide to recon in general, please refer to Wikipedia article:
Author is an ex Finnish Army Recon NCO.
[edit on 6-7-2006 by northwolf]