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The Patrol

OldSolduer

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I would like to start this thread by stating that the art of patrolling in the Infantry is a lost art or soon will be.
When we say "patrol" to some of our younger troops they think its a walk around a village spreading good will and cheer.

When I say "patrol" I mean the "old school" patrols - The platoon size fighting patrol where an agressive young officer, along with his Platoon 2I/C and section commanders plan and conduct a deliberate operation in "no man's land".

Does this type of operation have a place in today's Canadian Army?


 

dangerboy

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Jim,

  I think it still has a valuable place in our doctrin/ tactics (whatever you want to call it).  Even though we might not have done many in recent operations, having the knowledge and ability to conduct it is invaluable. 

  From a training perspective I think that training Infantry Officers in Fighting Patrols is excellent.  It confirms several skill sets from Planning and organization, Navigation, Employment of support weapons just to name a few.  I am sure TV can expand on this.
 

DELTADOG13

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This is the main independent operation that a platoon will carry out. As Danger Boy says, it allows young Pl Comd's to plan and execute without being micro managed by OC's. This is a critical operation in my mind. I don't believe it is outdated. It is a fundamental skill that should be practiced often. A highly trained, motivated and aggressive platoon is key. In Afghanistan we carried out many "patrols" in the this context. From Fighting, Ambush and Raids. Planned and executed as per doctrine that is taught and reinforced at the Infantry School.

I truly believe good platoons are based on loads of patrol training.

Deltadog13
 

Infanteer

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I'll disagree with your assertion Jim.

As a platoon commander in Afghanistan, my platoon conducted over 100 patrols.  While many of them were overt "presence" patrols into villages, a good proportion of them were ambush patrols or OPs done as they are taught in the schools.  I know my fellow platoon commanders had similar experiences.

Both types of patrols - reconnaissance and fighting - still have a big role to play in the Infantry.  They deny ground to the enemy and keep him on his feet.  Afghanistan was indeed another "war of patrols" (with Korea being the last one).

In fact, I had a copy of B-GL-392-008 Ambush/Counter-Ambush and frequently referred to it.  When I would lead a platoon patrol, I'd break out my Aide-Memoire that I've had since Phase III to make sure I was hitting all the steps.  Patrol orders were no different then in the school house, and good rehearsals (especially if we had ANSF in the patrol) were conducted by my section commanders.

There are a few characteristics of the last war that influenced how we patrolled and we need to remember these:

1.  The enemy was generally third-rate and had little ability to use manoeuvre to dominate us.  If you were lazy or just unlucky, he could template you and put you in the hurt locker if you stepped into his KZ, but generally insurgent forces could only harass a friendly patrol;

2.  All the extra "stuff" that a conventional foe would have that can make patrolling hard (arty, aviation, STANO) wasn't present, so patrols could afford to discount some security measures; and

3.  Covert movement was very difficult, if not completely impossible, at times.  The Arghandab greenspace is a densly populated area and people notice things fast; many efforts for covert patrolling are blown by farmers dogs barking.  At times, this was used to our advantage - the enemy would know we were there because of the dogs going crazy, but wouldn't know where exactly we were.

Obviously, we won't have these advantages/disadvantages in the next shoot-up, so it is good to practice patrols against a near-peer foe to ensure we don't get complacent.
 

daftandbarmy

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Jim Seggie said:
I would like to start this thread by stating that the art of patrolling in the Infantry is a lost art or soon will be.
When we say "patrol" to some of our younger troops they think its a walk around a village spreading good will and cheer.

When I say "patrol" I mean the "old school" patrols - The platoon size fighting patrol where an agressive young officer, along with his Platoon 2I/C and section commanders plan and conduct a deliberate operation in "no man's land".

Does this type of operation have a place in today's Canadian Army?

Yes, of course it does, as suggested by the previous posters. Canadians are great at patrolling. It's a great way to push huge amounts of responsibility down to the lowest levels and thereby devlop great leaders. However, I find it sad that we have to send our troops to the British Army's Cambrian Patrol competition to 'earn our spurs'.

Wouldn't it be great if we had our own internationally recognized patrolling competition, or patrolling school? Nothing like a 200 km recce/fighting patrol in the arctic (like that completed by the Royal Marines' M& AW cadre) to work out the bugs in your SOPs!  I'm sure that our troops would be up to it if we lay down the gauntlet. It could be something like the 'Mountain Man' within a tactical patrolling scenario.
 

Towards_the_gap

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Patrolling is certainly not a lost art.

On TF 1-10 I was attached to an infantry pl at a dismounted COP. 20% of the patrols we did were as you say, spreading good will and cheer and providing a presence. The remainder were deliberate Pl (-) or section sized ops, either hits on compouds, ambushes or OP's .

That being said, with atts and dets (ANA, 64/66 callsigns), we were sometimes looking at platoon plus sized patrols (c. 60 dudes).

What makes you think it's a lost art?
 

OldSolduer

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Towards_the_gap said:
Patrolling is certainly not a lost art.

What makes you think it's a lost art?


Thank you!!

Its not lost as long as folk like us remember  it....and are around to pass on the lessons!!
 

frank1515

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For army Officers, isn't there a 2 week mod specifically on patrolling while one is doing BMOQ-L? I saw the 2008 brief syllabus posted by one of the member on this forum and IIRC, it is still taught in detail by the Infantry School.
 

MJP

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frank1515 said:
For army Officers, isn't there a 2 week mod specifically on patrolling while one is doing BMOQ-L? I saw the 2008 brief syllabus posted by one of the member on this forum and IIRC, it is still taught in detail by the Infantry School.

Yes but Jim and the others are talking about the art of patrolling as a skill set within the army.  The two week portion of BMOQ-L will only touch upon the mere basics of patrolling and set the stage for future infantry officers for their Phase 3 (whatever DP it is) which will contain a whole lot more on patrolling.  Even then it is only a good grounding until one has a few years and many patrols under their belt to have a good range of patrolling experience to back up the knowledge.
 

OldSolduer

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I've participated in more than a few patrols of the platoon sized fighting patrols. It takes time and patience and training to become proficient at it.

IMO there should be a Canadian version of the Cambrian patrol competition.
Thoughts as to size and tasks?
 

daftandbarmy

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Jim Seggie said:
I've participated in more than a few patrols of the platoon sized fighting patrols. It takes time and patience and training to become proficient at it.

IMO there should be a Canadian version of the Cambrian patrol competition.
Thoughts as to size and tasks?

It's got to be 'Canadian', eh?

The Cambrian focuses on section sized units, mostly because they don't have the land mass to support larger, pl/coy/bn sized patrols. Maybe focus on sect/pl/coy/bn patrol ops. Make it longer (3 weeks?) to make a variety of tasks possible. Locate it somewhere relatively remote and suitably challenging where you can site a bunch of suitable FFA traces (Gagetown? North of 60 somewhere?). Make it 'the world class place to go' if you really want to work up your battle group for a significant patrolling operation.
 

a_majoor

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Even junior leaders get exposure to Platoon fighting patrols as part of PLQ(Inf), once they have done the patrol phase. While this is often done as a reward for the soon to be chosen top candidates (and a way to ensure they really are top candidate material) and not as intensive or done continuously like phase training for the officers, they still get exposed early on.

Now how often units do this as part of their training cycle is another question....
 

ArmyRick

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I am back in a reserve unit now and I personally feel we should (res inf) dedicate a full weekend to reconnaissance and fighting patrols.
-Can be a good learning tool for young officers and senior corporals looking to take on PLQ
-Refreshes battle procedure for leaders nicely
-It forces troops to employ damn good fieldcraft
-Its exciting as hell
-Makes for an overall good bang for the buck training

my two cents for what its worth.
 

OldSolduer

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ArmyRick said:
I am back in a reserve unit now and I personally feel we should (res inf) dedicate a full weekend to reconnaissance and fighting patrols.
-Can be a good learning tool for young officers and senior corporals looking to take on PLQ
-Refreshes battle procedure for leaders nicely
-It forces troops to employ damn good fieldcraft
-Its exciting as hell
-Makes for an overall good bang for the buck training

my two cents for what its worth.

I agree....
 

Tow Tripod

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Rest assured on the DP1 Infantry courses raids and ambushes are still taught. It's important to keep the candidates as uncomfortable as possible and still work collectively to accomplish the mission. Sometimes that's easier said than done! It hasn't been taught in awhile because the recruiters (Ottawa) still have the infantry closed for some reason.
 

ArmyRick

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DP1s are still being taught for reg f but at a very reduced rate. Meaford put out 2 courses in 2011. About a quarter were older PATs being given another chance to get on with their careers. Yes they do very much teach patrolling along with all the "old" basics.
 

The Bread Guy

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daftandbarmy said:
The Cambrian focuses on section sized units, mostly because they don't have the land mass to support larger, pl/coy/bn sized patrols. Maybe focus on sect/pl/coy/bn patrol ops. Make it longer (3 weeks?) to make a variety of tasks possible. Locate it somewhere relatively remote and suitably challenging where you can site a bunch of suitable FFA traces (Gagetown? North of 60 somewhere?). Make it 'the world class place to go' if you really want to work up your battle group for a significant patrolling operation.
Big chunk of remote, challenging territory available between Winnipeg and Toronto:
northern-ontario-map.gif
 

Hammer Sandwich

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ArmyRick said:
I am back in a reserve unit now and I personally feel we should (res inf) dedicate a full weekend to reconnaissance and fighting patrols.
-Can be a good learning tool for young officers and senior corporals looking to take on PLQ
-Refreshes battle procedure for leaders nicely
-It forces troops to employ damn good fieldcraft
-Its exciting as hell
-Makes for an overall good bang for the buck training

my two cents for what its worth.

Jeez...I was in a res LOG unit, and that's pretty much all we did on most of our weekend ex's...
What the heck are they making you guys do?!?!
???
 

OldSolduer

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Hammer Sandwich said:
Jeez...I was in a res LOG unit, and that's pretty much all we did on most of our weekend ex's...
What the heck are they making you guys do?!?!
???

We have several days of mandated training that must be achieved. Time for patrolling is down the list. Not only that, our unit it tagged to man the Arctic Response Company Group.
Time is a factor for sure....not enough of it!
 

Hammer Sandwich

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Jim Seggie said:
We have several days of mandated training that must be achieved. Time for patrolling is down the list. Not only that, our unit it tagged to man the Arctic Response Company Group.
Time is a factor for sure....not enough of it!

Seen.
Makes sense.
 
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