The following report on scouts and observers is based on a lecture
given by a British officer at the Commando school.
* * *
The object of scouting should be to obtain accurate and reliable information
in all types of warfare, whether stationary or mobile, in all types of country, with
or without the aid of maps, binoculars, and other such instruments, for the
information of the commander which cannot be obtained in the normal
way by other troops.
Scouts are specialists, and must reach a considerably higher standard
of training in their specialty than do other troops. In addition, they must have
a knowledge of the functions and organization of other arms, and must keep up
with recent developments. Scouts must be keen, resourceful, and trustworthy, and
must cultivate reasoning powers. Surprise and mobility are the greatest
assets of scouts. It is the duty of every scout to learn all he can about his job
and about the function of other arms, by constantly being observant and taking
an intelligent interest in all he knows or sees around him.
The importance of gaining superior observation over the enemy cannot
be overestimated. "No Man's Land," whether it be a hundred yards or a
hundred miles broad, must be kept under continuous observation, and regarded
as a network through which no piece of information, however small, must be
allowed to escape. For this reason, duties of scouts are the same although
methods may be different.
A trained scout or observer, having acquired a knowledge of infantry
soldiering, should be an expert in: observation and use of binoculars, map
reading, writing of reports, use of compass, patrolling, concealment and use of
cover, selection and construction of observation posts, use and care of
weapons, and identification of the various arms. In addition, it is desirable
that he should have a knowledge of field sketching, drawing plans, the study of
air photography, and first-aid. He should also be able to ride a horse and a
motorcycle, swim, cook, and sail a boat. A high standard of physical fitness
is also required.
The various roles in which scouts are invaluable are:
(1) Patrols, observation in small detachments, sniping, and verbal reporting;
(2) Fieldcraft--if necessary to the extent of being able to pass through enemy lines;
(3) All scout personnel must attain a high degree of skill in movement by night
over difficult country by use of stars and compass, and must be trained to carry
out certain tasks under cover of darkness, and in silence;
(4) Construction of field defenses, and erection of obstacles;
(5) Demolition and sabotage.
For the above, scouts must not only be physically fit, but must have 100 percent
self-confidence. There are more occasions in the role of a scout where
a cool head, a clear eye, and a quick imagination win through, than in any other
branch of military warfare.