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In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration of an area by military forces to obtain information about enemy forces,
terrain Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrain or relief (also topographical Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface forms and features themselves, or a desc ...

terrain
, and other activities. Examples of reconnaissance include
patrolling Patrolling is a military tactic. Small groups or individual units are deployed from a larger formation to achieve a specific objective and then return. The tactic of patrolling may be applied to ground troops, armored units, naval units, and ...

patrolling
by troops (
skirmisher Skirmishers are light infantry Light infantry is a designation applied to certain types of foot soldiers (infantry) throughout history, typically having lighter equipment or Weapon, armament or a more mobile or fluid function than other typ ...
s,
long-range reconnaissance patrol A long-range reconnaissance patrol, or LRRP (pronounced "lurp"), is a small, well-armed reconnaissance team that patrolling, patrols deep in enemy-held territory.Ankony, Robert C., ''Lurps: A Ranger's Diary of Tet, Khe Sanh, A Shau, and Quang Tri, ...
, U.S. Army Rangers, cavalry scouts, or military intelligence specialists), ships or
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability. It is also sometimes used historically or colloquially to refer to remotely operated ...

submarine
s, manned or unmanned
reconnaissance aircraft A reconnaissance aircraft (colloquially, a spy plane) is a military aircraft designed or adapted to perform aerial reconnaissance with roles including collection of imagery intelligence (including using Aerial photography, photography), signals ...
,
satellites alt=, A full-size model of the Earth observation satellite ERS 2 ">ERS_2.html" ;"title="Earth observation satellite ERS 2">Earth observation satellite ERS 2 In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally ...
, or by setting up
observation post An observation post (commonly abbreviated OP), temporary or fixed, is a position from which soldier A soldier is one who fights as part of a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, high ...

observation post
s.
Espionage Espionage or spying is the act of obtaining secret Secrecy is the practice of hiding information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both it ...

Espionage
is usually considered to be different from reconnaissance, as it is performed by non-uniformed personnel operating behind enemy lines. Often called
recce Recce may refer to: * Reconnaissance, military scouting * SEAL Recon Rifle, a rifle used by US Navy SEALs also called the ''Recce Rifle'' * Recce (filmmaking), a pre-shoot reconnaissance of a film location * South African Special Forces Brigade, n ...
(British, Canadian and Australian English) or
recon Recon may refer to: * Reconnaissance, a military term for gathering information * ''Halo 3: Recon'', a standalone expansion for the video game ''Halo 3'' * Recon (Lost), "Recon" (''Lost''), the eighth episode of the sixth season of ''Lost'' * Rec ...
(American English), the word for this activity has at its root the associated verb ''reconnoitre'' or ''reconnoiter''.


Etymology

The word from the
Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from ...
''reconoissance''.


Overview

Reconnaissance conducted by
ground forces An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch Military branch ...
includes
special reconnaissance Special reconnaissance (SR) is conducted by small units of highly trained military personnel, usually from special forces units or military intelligence organizations, who operate behind enemy lines, avoiding direct combat and detection by the en ...
,
armored reconnaissance Armoured reconnaissance is the combination of terrestrial reconnaissance{{unreferenced, date=December 2008 Terrestrial reconnaissance, or ''ground'' recon, is a type of reconnaissance that is employed along the elements of ground warfare. It is ...
,
amphibious reconnaissance Amphibious reconnaissance is ground and naval reconnaissance In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration of an area by military forces to obtain information about enemy forces, terrain, and other activities. Examp ...
and civil reconnaissance.
Aerial reconnaissance Aerial reconnaissance is reconnaissance In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration of an area by military forces to obtain information about enemy forces, terrain Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrai ...
is reconnaissance carried out by aircraft (of all types including balloons and unmanned aircraft). The purpose is to survey weather conditions, map terrain, and may include military purposes such as observing tangible structures, particular areas, and movement of enemy forces. Naval forces use aerial and satellite reconnaissance to observe enemy forces. Navies also undertake
hydrographic survey ''Neptune'', a privately owned Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivi ...
s and
intelligence gathering This is a list of intelligence gathering disciplines. HUMINT Human intelligence (HUMINT) are gathered from a person in the location in question. Sources can include the following: * Advisors or foreign internal defense Foreign internal ...
.
Reconnaissance satellite A reconnaissance satellite or intelligence satellite (commonly, although unofficially, referred to as a spy satellite) is an Earth observation satellite An Earth observation satellite or Earth remote sensing satellite is a satellite us ...
s provide military commanders with photographs of enemy forces and other intelligence. Military forces also use geographical and meteorological information from
Earth observation satellite An Earth observation satellite or Earth remote sensing satellite is a satellite used or designed for Earth observation (EO) from orbit, including spy satellites and similar ones intended for non-military uses such as natural environment, environm ...
s.


Psychology

A tracker needs to pay close attention to both the environment and the psychology of his enemy. Knowledge of human psychology, sociology, and cultural backgrounds is necessary to know the actions of the enemy and where the enemy is heading. The celebrated Chief of Scouts
Frederick Russell Burnham Frederick Russell Burnham Distinguished Service Order, DSO (May 11, 1861 – September 1, 1947) was an American frontiersman, scout and world-traveling adventurer. He is known for his service to the British South Africa Company and to the Britis ...
had this to say:
It is imperative that a scout should know the history, tradition, religion, social customs, and superstitions of whatever country or people he is called on to work in or among. This is almost as necessary as to know the physical character of the country, its climate and products. Certain people will do certain things almost without fail. Certain other things, perfectly feasible, they will not do. There is no danger of knowing too much of the mental habits of an enemy. One should neither underestimate the enemy nor credit him with superhuman powers. Fear and courage are latent in every human being, though roused into activity by very diverse means.


Discipline

Types of reconnaissance: * ''Terrain-oriented'' reconnaissance is a survey of the terrain (its features, weather, and other natural observations). * ''Force-oriented'' reconnaissance focuses on the enemy forces (number, equipment, activities, disposition etc.) and may include
target acquisition Target acquisition is the detection and identification of the location of a target in sufficient detail to permit the effective employment of lethal and non-lethal means. The term is used for a broad area of applications. A "target" here is an ent ...
. * ''Civil-oriented'' reconnaissance focuses on the civil dimension of the
battlespace Battle-space is a term used to signify a unified military strategy Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organization Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a State (pol ...

battlespace
(areas, structures, capabilities, organizations, people and events abbreviated ASCOPE). The techniques and objectives are not mutually exclusive; it is up to the commander whether they are carried out separately or by the same unit.


Reconnaissance-in-force

Reconnaissance-in-force (RIF) is a type of
military operation A military operation is the coordinated military action War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or paramilitary groups such as Mercenary, mercenaries, Insurgency, insurgents, and ...
or
military tactic Military tactics encompasses the art of organizing and employing fighting forces on or near the battlefield A battlefield, battleground, or field of battle is the location of a present or historic battle A battle is an occurrence of comb ...
used specifically to probe an enemy's combat ability. While typical reconnaissance forces are small and armed only for self-defense, RIF use considerable (but not decisive) force in order to elicit a strong reaction by the enemy that more accurately reveals its own strength, deployment, preparedness, determination, and other tactical data. The RIF units can then fall back and report this data, or expand the conflict into a full engagement if enemy weaknesses are revealed. Other methods consist of
hit-and-run tactics Hit-and-run tactics are a tactical doctrine of using short surprise attacks, withdrawing before the enemy can respond in force, and constantly maneuvering to avoid full engagement with the enemy. The purpose is not a decisive victory against ...
using rapid mobility, and in some cases light-armored vehicles for added fire superiority, as the need arises. Maintaining active RIF can be used to limit, or even deny, enemy reconnaissance. Nazi Germany's reconnaissance during World War II is described in the following way:
The purpose of reconnaissance and the types of units employed to obtain information are similar in the U.S. and the German Armies. German tactical principles of reconnaissance, however, diverge somewhat from those of the U.S. The Germans stress aggressiveness, attempt to obtain superiority in the area to be reconnoitered, and strive for continuous observation of the enemy. They believe in employing reconnaissance units in force as a rule. They expect and are prepared to fight to obtain the desired information. Often they assign supplementary tasks to their reconnaissance units, such as sabotage behind enemy lines, harassment, or counter-reconnaissance.

Only enough reconnaissance troops are sent on a mission to assure superiority in the area to be reconnoitred. Reserves are kept on hand to be committed when the reconnaissance must be intensified, when the original force meets strong enemy opposition, or when the direction and area to be reconnoitred are changed. The Germans encourage aggressive action against enemy security forces. When their reconnaissance units meet superior enemy forces, they fight a delaying action while other units attempt to flank the enemy.


Reconnaissance-by-fire

Reconnaissance by fire (or ''speculative fire'') is the act of firing at likely enemy positions to cause the enemy force to reveal their location by moving or by returning fire.


Reconnaissance-pull

Reconnaissance-pull is a tactic that is applied at the regiment to division level and defined as locating and rapidly exploiting enemy weaknesses. It is the ability to determine enemy positions and create exploitable gaps through which friendly forces can pass while avoiding obstacles and strong points. A textbook example of reconnaissance-pull was documented during the Tinian landings of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, utilized by the
United States Marine Corps The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines, is the maritime land force service branch Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard the subdivision of the na ...
's
Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion The United States Marine Corps's Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, formerly ''Company'', was a specialized team of Marine (military), Marines and United States Navy Hospital Corpsman, Navy Corpsmen that performed Clandestine operation, clandest ...
, from
V Amphibious Corps The V Amphibious Corps (VAC) was a formation of the United States Marine Corps The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines, is the Marines, maritime land force military branch, service branch of the U ...
. Aerial photography and the confirmation by the
amphibious reconnaissance Amphibious reconnaissance is ground and naval reconnaissance In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration of an area by military forces to obtain information about enemy forces, terrain, and other activities. Examp ...
platoon A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads, sections, or patrols. Platoon organization varies depending on the country and the branch, but a platoon generally comprises 50 people, although specific platoons may ran ...
s determined that the Japanese defenders had largely ignored the northern beaches of the island, focusing most of their defensive effort on beaches in the south-west which were more favorable for an amphibious landing. American forces quickly changed their landing location to the northern beaches and planned a small and hasty "deception" operation off the southern beach, which resulted in a complete surprise for the Japanese forces. As a result, American forces were able to fight the Japanese force on land, where they had the advantage, leading to light losses and a relatively short battle that lasted only 9 days.


Types

When referring to reconnaissance, a commander's full intention is to have a vivid picture of his
battlespace Battle-space is a term used to signify a unified military strategy Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organization Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a State (pol ...

battlespace
. The commander organizes the reconnaissance platoon based on: # mission, # enemy, # terrain, # troops and support available, # time available, and # civil considerations. This analysis determines whether the platoon uses single or multiple elements to conduct the reconnaissance, whether it pertains to area, zone, or route reconnaissance, the following techniques may be used as long as the fundamentals of reconnaissance are applied. Scouts may also have different tasks to perform for their commanders of higher echelons, for example: the
engineer reconnaissance Engineer reconnaissance is the reconnaissance operations performed by combat engineers to enable forward movement of own troops, in war usually over territory previously occupied by the enemy. The activity includes provision of reconnaissance instr ...
detachments will try to identify difficult terrain in the path of their formation, and attempt to reduce the time it takes to transit the terrain using specialist engineering equipment such as a
pontoon bridge A pontoon bridge (or ponton bridge), also known as a floating bridge, uses floats or shallow-draft Draft, The Draft, or Draught may refer to: Watercraft dimensions * Draft (hull), the distance from waterline to keel of a vessel * Draft (sai ...
for crossing water obstacles.
Sanitary epidemiological reconnaissanceSanitary epidemiological reconnaissance, synonym epidemiological reconnaissance is a literal name of a concept and routine of finding out disease potential on a territory of arrival of major contingent. russian: санитарно-эпидемио ...
implies collection and transfer of all data available on
sanitary Sanitation refers to public health conditions related to clean drinking water and adequate treatment and disposal of Human waste, human excreta and sewage. Risk management, Preventing human contact with feces is part of sanitation, as is hand was ...

sanitary
and
epidemiological Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution (who, when, and where), patterns and determinants In mathematics, the determinant is a Scalar (mathematics), scalar value that is a function (mathematics), function of the entries of a s ...
situation of the area of possible deployment and action of
armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...
, the same data for the neighboring and enemy armed forces. The aim for the reconnaissance is to clear up the reasons of the specific disease origin- sources of the
infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body tissues by disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host A host is a person responsible for guests at an event or for providing hospitality during it. Host may ...

infection
in various extreme situations, including local
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...

war
s and
armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or paramilitary groups such as Mercenary, mercenaries, Insurgency, insurgents, and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence ...
s, the ways of the infection transfer and all factors promoting to the
infestation Infestation is the state of being invaded or overrun by pests Pest or The Pest may refer to: Science and medicine * Pest (organism), an animal or plant detrimental to humans or human concerns ** Weed, a plant considered undesirable * Infectious ...
. After the armed forces have become stationary during wartime and emergency of peacetime the sanitary epidemiological reconnaissance turns into sanitary and epidemiological
surveillance Surveillance is the monitoring of behavior, many activities, or information for the purpose of information gathering, influencing, managing Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization An organization, or org ...

surveillance
and medical control of vital and communal activity of the armed forces.Beliakov VD Military Epidemiology. Textbook in Russian. Leningrad, 1976 p153.


Area

Area reconnaissance refers to the observation, and information obtained, about a specified location and the area around it; it may be terrain-oriented and/or force-oriented. Ideally, a reconnaissance platoon, or team, would use surveillance or vantage (static) points around the objective to observe, and the surrounding area. This methodology focuses mainly prior to moving forces into or near a specified area; the military commander may utilize his reconnaissance assets to conduct an area reconnaissance to avoid being surprised by unsuitable terrain conditions, or most importantly, unexpected enemy forces. The area could be a town, ridge-line, woods, or another feature that friendly forces intend to occupy, pass through, or avoid. Within an
area of operationIn U.S. armed forces parlance, an area of operations (AO) is an operational area defined by the force commander for land, air, and naval forces conduct of combat and non-combat activities. Areas of operations do not typically encompass the entire ...
(AO), area reconnaissance can focus the reconnaissance on the specific area that is critical to the commander. This technique of focusing the reconnaissance also permits the mission to be accomplished more quickly. Area reconnaissance can thus be a stand-alone mission or a task to a section or the platoon. The commander analyzes the mission to determine whether the platoon will conduct these types of reconnaissance separately or in conjunction with each other.


Civil

Civil reconnaissance is the process of gathering a broad spectrum of civil information about a specific population in support of military operations. It is related to and often performed in conjunction with infrastructure reconnaissance (assessment and survey). Normally the focus of collection in the operational area for civil reconnaissance is collecting civil information relating to the daily interaction between civilians and military forces. Civil information encompasses relational, temporal, geospatial and behavioral information captured in a socio-cultural backdrop. It is information developed from data related to civil areas, structures, capabilities, organizations, people, and events, within the civil component of the commander's operational environment that can be processed to increase situational awareness and understanding. The type of civil information that is needed in order to support military operations varies based on the environment and situation.


Route

Route reconnaissance Route reconnaissance is the intelligence assessment Intelligence assessment is the development of behavior forecasts or recommended courses of action to the leadership of an organisation, based on wide ranges of available overt and covert informa ...
is oriented on a given route: e.g. a road, a railway, a waterway; a narrow axis or a general direction of attack, to provide information on route conditions or activities along the route. A military commander relies on information about locations along his determined route: which those that would provide best cover and concealment; bridge by construction type, dimensions, and classification; or for
landing zone In military terminology a landing zone (LZ) is an area where aircraft can land. In the United States military, a landing zone is the actual point where aircraft, especially helicopters, land (equivalent to the commonwealth landing point.) In co ...

landing zone
s or pickup zones, if the need arises. In many cases, the commander may act upon a ''force-oriented'' route reconnaissance by which the enemy could influence movement along that route. For the reconnaissance platoons, or squads, stealth and speed—in conjunction with detailed intelligence-reporting—are most important and crucial. The reconnaissance platoon must remain far enough ahead of the maneuver force to assist in early warning and to prevent the force from becoming surprised. Even it is paramount to obtain information about the available space in which a force can maneuver without being forced to bunch up due to obstacles. ''Terrain-oriented'' route reconnaissance allows the commander to obtain information and capabilities about the adjacent terrain for maneuvering his forces, to include, any obstacles (minefields, barriers, steep ravines, marshy areas, or
chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense (CBRN defense or CBRNE defense) are protective measures taken in situations in which chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter having constant chemical composition and character ...
contamination) that may obstruct vehicle movement—on routes to, and in, his assigned area of operations. This requirement includes the size of trees and the density of forests due to their effects on vehicle movement. Route reconnaissance also allows the observation for fields of fire along the route and adjacent terrain. This information assists planners as a supplement to map information.


Zone

Zone reconnaissance focuses on obtaining detailed information before maneuvering their forces through particular, designated locations. It can be terrain-oriented, force-oriented, or both, as it acquire this information by reconnoitering within—and by maintaining surveillance over—routes, obstacles (to include nuclear-radiological, biological, and chemical contamination), and resources within an assigned location. Also, ''force-oriented'' zone reconnaissance is assigned to gain detailed information about enemy forces within the zone, or when the enemy situation is vague by which the information concerning cross-country traffic-ability is desired. The reconnaissance provides the commander with a detailed picture of how the enemy has occupied the zone, enabling him to choose the appropriate course-of-action. As the platoon conducts this type of zone reconnaissance, its emphasis is on determining the enemy's locations, strengths, and weaknesses. This is the most thorough and complete reconnaissance mission and therefore is very time-intensive.


Gallery

A52_Oste.jpg, An Oste class
ELINT Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is intelligence-gathering This is a list of intelligence gathering disciplines. HUMINT Human intelligence (HUMINT) are gathered from a person in the location in question. Sources can include the following ...
and reconnaissance ship of the
German Navy The German Navy (german: Deutsche Marine; officially german: Marine ) is the navy of Germany and part of the unified ''Bundeswehr'' (Federal Defense), the German Armed Forces. The German Navy was originally known as the ''Bundesmarine'' (Fe ...
U-2 photo during Cuban Missile Crisis.jpg, A Soviet convoy deploying
intermediate-range ballistic missile 300px, IRBM and MRBM missiles. An intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) is a ballistic missile with a range of 3,000–5,500 km (1,864–3,418 miles), between a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and an intercontinental ballistic ...
s in Cuba, 1962, as first revealed by a
Lockheed U-2 The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "''Dragon Lady''", is an American single-jet engine, high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It provides day ...
. SR-71A in flight near Beale AFB 1988.JPEG, A
U.S. Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphe ...
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" is a Range (aeronautics), long-range, high-altitude, Mach number, Mach 3+ military strategy, strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed and manufactured by the American aerospace company Lockheed Corporati ...

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
high-speed
reconnaissance aircraft A reconnaissance aircraft (colloquially, a spy plane) is a military aircraft A military aircraft is any Fixed-wing aircraft, fixed-wing or rotorcraft, rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any t ...
Fennek beim Feuern.jpg,
German Army The German Army () is the land component of the armed forces of Federal Republic of Germany, Germany. The present-day German Army was founded in 1955 as part of the newly formed West German ''Bundeswehr'' together with the German Navy, ''Marine' ...
Fennek The Fennek, named after the Fennec Fox, fennec (a species of small desert fox), or LGS Fennek, with LGS being short for ''Leichter Gepanzerter Spähwagen'' in German language, German (Light Armoured Reconnaissance vehicle, Reconnaissance Vehicle), ...

Fennek
reconnaissance vehicle


See also

*
Exploration Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery Discovery may refer to: * Discovery (observation) Discovery is the act of detecting something new, or something previously unrecognized as meaningful. With reference to scien ...

Exploration
*
Espionage Espionage or spying is the act of obtaining secret Secrecy is the practice of hiding information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both it ...

Espionage
*
Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance ISTAR stands for intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argume ...
* List of reconnaissance units *
Pathfinder (military) U.S. Army pathfinders and C-47 Skytrain flight crew just before Normandy landings, D-Day, June 1944 In military organizations, a pathfinder is a Military specialism, specialized soldier inserted or dropped into place in order to set up and op ...
—airborne pathfinders * Spatial reconnaissance *
Special reconnaissance Special reconnaissance (SR) is conducted by small units of highly trained military personnel, usually from special forces units or military intelligence organizations, who operate behind enemy lines, avoiding direct combat and detection by the en ...
*
Surveillance aircraft A surveillance aircraft is an aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle or machine that is able to fly Flies are insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...
* U.S. military doctrine for reconnaissance


References


Further reading

* Halsall, Christine, ''Women of Intelligence: Winning the Second World War with Air Photos'', The History Press, 2012. . {{Authority control Maneuver tactics Military cartography Military intelligence collection