[Lone Sentry: Ch. 5. Reconnaissance Company | FM 18-5: Organization and Tactics of Tank Destroyer Units - Tank Destroyer Field Manual]
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FM 18-5: Organization and Tactics of Tank Destroyer Units
Tank Destroyer Field Manual, War Department, June 16, 1942
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Field Manual. As with all field manuals, the text may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the contents of the field manual. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Section I

• 109. GENERAL.—The success of reconnaissance elements and of tank destroyer combat in general frequently depends upon the ability, intelligence, and aggressiveness of the scout. Therefore, the scout is carefully selected and rigidly trained for the duty required of him. Mounted scouting is performed on motorcycles and other light vehicles; however, every scout is thoroughly grounded in dismounted patrolling (see FM 21-45) and in the methods of tank hunting described in chapter 10.

• 110. MISSION.—The primary mission of the scout is to obtain information of the enemy and relay it to the next reconnaissance echelon in time for it to be of maximum value. He may be required to determine whether the enemy occupies a particular area or is using a specific route; the enemy's strength, location, composition, and movement; the status of roads, culverts, bridges, or other construction; the extent and nature of defiles, etc. Observation alone seldom reveals information of a well-concealed enemy. Mounted or dismounted, as necessary, the scout approaches suspected enemy localities, forcing the enemy to disclose his presence. Scouts preferably operate in pairs or groups, although on occasion they may operate to best advantage individually.

• 111. MOVEMENT BY DAY.—In order to observe the enemy and not be seen, a scout must conceal his movements. A thorough knowledge of camouflage and terrain appreciation is essential. In exposed areas the scout moves rapidly from cover to cover and remains motionless in observation, searching the area to his front, after which he continues to advance. In enemy territory he moves by bounds, either mounted or dismounted. In close country bounds are short; in open country they are longer. To avoid detection the scout should cut the motor and coast his vehicle whenever possible. Because of the characteristics of his vehicle, the scout resorts frequently to dismounted action. He is constantly concerned with the necessity for concealing his vehicle during pauses, for observation and work on foot; he places it so as to facilitate reversal of direction or change of route if necessary. A mounted scout can move long distances on roads by day or night, and when the terrain is favorable he can make progress across country. The speed with which he can move compensates to some extent for the fact that a mounted scout is more likely to attract attention than a man on foot. If attacked suddenly, the scout takes up a hasty firing position and returns the fire, or immediately moves to cover if it is available. (See FM 21-45.)

• 112. MOVEMENT BY NIGHT.—At night the scout usually operates without lights, and if practicable remains on or adjacent to the axis of advance (roads and trails). The noise of the motor is audible for considerable distances on a silent night, and it is difficult for the scout to see or hear much while in motion. He progresses by bounds from one terrain feature to another, stops at the end of each bound, if necessary, and proceeds on foot to look and listen for the information he seeks. The scout should know exactly what he is expected to do. He should study his map and the terrain he must traverse and plan his procedure accordingly. His orders are usually given to him orally, and he is permitted to record only such data as will be of no value to the enemy. Orders to scouts are similar to orders given patrol leaders. (See par. 132e.)

• 113. GUIDING UNITS.—Each column is guided by competent scouts who employ their knowledge of distances, map reading, stars, and landmarks to guide their units correctly. When feasible, scouts should go over the route by day, making mental and written notes of key points and landmarks. At each critical point, such as a road junction, or when the route changes direction, the scout remains until relieved or until the last unit passes that point. Whenever a column subdivides or leaves a road to go into assembly positions prior to action, it is essential that well-informed scouts help guide the units. Scouts from tank destroyer companies may be attached to the reconnaissance company for this purpose. For navigation under desert conditions, see FM 31-25.


• 114. RECONNAISSANCE SECTION.—The reconnaissance section is equipped with an armored reconnaissance car; several lighter vehicles (1/4 ton), and at least one motorcycle. Sections preferably operate as a unit. A section constitutes a suitable reconnaissance patrol.

• 115. PATROL MISSIONS.—a. Reconnaissance missions require the section to obtain information of the enemy or of the terrain. Reconnaissance patrols regulate their actions with respect to the enemy and avoid combat, except for self-protection, or when accomplishment of the mission requires combat.

b. Security missions require the section to protect other units from surprise or interference by the enemy. A security patrol regulates its action on the unit to be protected and frequently must engage in combat.

c. The number and strength of patrols should be the minimum required by the situation. As far as practicable, the integrity of sections and platoons should be preserved. Officers lead important patrols. Patrols are given specific missions.

• 116. PREPARATION FOR PATROL DUTY.—a. After receiving his mission (see par. 132) and making necessary preliminary arrangements, the patrol leader issues his orders, covering the items listed below. When time permits, a warning order will be issued incorporating all information then available.

(1) Information of the enemy and friendly troops.

(2) Mission of the patrol and plan of the patrol leader for accomplishing the mission, including objectives, route, and initial information desired.

(3) Designation of men and vehicles for flank reconnaissance and other duties; designation of first assembly point (and alternate), and orders regarding general conduct, including combat.

(4) Instruction as to carrying of additional type C rations, water, oil, and fuel.

(5) The points to which messages should be sent and the designation of a second in command. Whether or not the patrol will engage in combat, if it can be avoided.

b. The patrol leader satisfies himself that all members understand their orders and their individual assignments. The leader and the second in command should know the location of the reconnaissance company command post and its route.

c. Patrol leaders should have wire cutters, watch, compass, message blanks, pencil, flashlight, field glasses, and maps; codes and other documents of value to the enemy will not be carried. The patrol should carry rations (including water) for the duration of the mission. The patrol starts, whenever practicable, with extra oil and fuel containers.

• 117. CONDUCT OF PATROL.—a. The conduct of a reconnaissance patrol varies with the mission, situation, terrain, and estimated distance from the enemy.

b. When a large area must be rapidly reconnoitered or when there is no indication of the presence of hostile elements, reconnaissance patrols move rapidly in open formation along the route, halting to observe only at critical points or if suspicious activity is noted.

c. In the presence of the enemy, the patrol usually moves by bounds, halting briefly on successive objectives such as the more important terrain features. Between objectives the patrol advances by successive echelons from one observation point to another. While one echelon covers the advance, the other goes ahead of the next crest or objective and stops under cover while scouts dismount and reconnoiter. Upon signal that all is clear, the second echelon advances to the first. Between observation points movement is rapid. A third echelon may be held in reserve. It follows the other cautiously, brings back information in case the leading elements are ambushed, and pays particular attention to routes leading from the flanks. The armored reconnaissance vehicle usually is employed to cover the movements of the advanced echelon. When minor resistance is encountered, part of the first echelon executes an outflanking maneuver or "side-slip." When necessary, other echelons move farther to a flank to reduce the resistance or ascertain its extent. Unless the accomplishment of the mission demands combat, the entire patrol may side-slip such resistance, reporting by radio or messenger to rear units of the reconnaissance company information of the resistance located and the action of the patrol. If an attack is made, the reconnaissance patrol avoids becoming so closely engaged as to lose its freedom of maneuver.

d. Cross-country patrols may move in diamond, wedge, or column formation, depending on the situation and terrain. When deployed in the presence of the enemy, the 1/4-ton trucks usually take the leading and flank positions. The armored vehicle covers them from the rear. The motorcyclist acts as getaway man and messenger. So far as practicable, it moves along roads and trails. When the advanced echelon or point is fired upon, vehicles usually move to the nearest cover.

e. For reconnaissance of important objectives dismounted scouts with portable radios may be directed to vantage points whence they relay information to the section.

f. When passing through a village, over a bridge, or through a defile, in the presence of the enemy, scouts are covered by the remainder of the patrol from a position on the near side with guns sighted on possible hostile positions. If covering fire is not considered necessary, the rear elements follow the leading element at supporting distance. Whenever practicable, the patrol bypasses obstacles and reconnoiters them from the rear.

g. Patrols reconnoitering a hostile column on the march can best perform this mission by observation from several successive positions on the flank of the column. Reconnaissance of an enemy bivouac or tank park requires dismounted scouts or patrols to investigate the locality from several directions.

h. The location of a suspected ambush is reconnoitered by observing from a vantage point. If no road block is visible and time is pressing, scouts rush forward prepared to open fire, while remaining vehicles halt and are prepared to cover the scouts by supporting fire. If time permits, it is best for the scouts to reconnoiter the suspected area on foot. A located ambush is avoided unless the mission or situation requires its reduction. If the ambush must be reduced, it is attacked from front and flank. To extricate a vehicle caught in ambush, remaining vehicles of the patrol maneuver to give it fire support, but do not close in to the ambush.

i. A reconnaissance section employed as a mobile security detachment on the front, flanks, or rear of a tank destroyer unit gives prompt warning to the unit protected of the approach or location of hostile forces, and opposes the latter in the degree required by its mission and the situation.

j. Unless so ordered, a patrol does not stop for a prolonged rest before returning. If necessary to remain out overnight or to make a prolonged halt, the patrol avoids villages, farms, and inclosures in selecting a bivouac. The position chosen should provide concealment from both ground and air observation and several routes of movement therefrom. It should offer opportunities for observation, defense, and departure. In daytime it should be near high ground offering distant all-around observation. At night it should be on low ground so as to bring approaching persons into view against the sky. By night or day, front, flanks, and rear are protected by observation.

k. At all times, patrols will be on the alert to discover areas that have been contaminated with persistent gases. Reports of such areas and safe routes through or around them will be forwarded promptly to the company commander. (See TF 7-275 and 7-280.)

• 118. COMBAT MISSIONS.—a. The section leader determines when combat is necessary for the success of reconnaissance or security missions. He keeps in mind the consideration that the best reconnaissance is generally performed by stealth.

b. When deployed for combat in conjunction with other elements, 1/4-ton trucks are usually disposed to the front and flanks of the armored vehicle. The motorcyclist is employed as directed for messenger service, reconnaissance, and observation. The combat action of the section conforms, generally, to the conduct indicated for the light destroyer squad and security section.

• 119. COUNTERRECONNAISSANCE PATROLS.—a. The section acting as a counterreconnaissance patrol locates and destroys hostile patrols and warns counterreconnaissance detachments of the presence and movement of larger hostile elements that are beyond the capability of the patrol to destroy. They delay such forces.

b. In a moving screen, patrols move along routes which enable them to keep under observation the likely routes of hostile advance. They patrol laterally to adjacent patrols.

c. In stationary screens, patrols are posted at observation points from which they can view routes of hostile approach. Active patrolling between adjoining groups is maintained.

• 120. RECONNAISSANCE PLATOON—The reconnaissance platoon consists of two sections. The platoon leader employs them as a platoon or by section to execute the missions assigned him.

• 121. RECONNAISSANCE MISSIONS.—When the zone assigned for reconnaissance is wide or contains more than one axial road, the platoon leader may divide the zone between his sections. When the platoon is assigned to reconnoiter a narrow zone or single road, sections usually move by successive bounds. Elements of the rear or supporting section may be dispatched to reconnoiter flanks or critical points. The same section is always in front, halting or slowing at intervals to observe and allow the supporting section to catch up, then moving out again. The platoon leader is usually at the head of the supporting section.

• 122. SECURITY MISSIONS.—The performance of reconnaissance missions by reconnaissance platoons is in itself a security measure. In addition the platoon may be assigned security missions. It is well fitted for employment as a mobile security detachment on the front, flanks, or rear of a battalion. It may operate under the control of the company commander or be attached to other units. Security missions are executed as indicated for destroyer company units.

• 123. COMBAT.—a. When engaged.—A reconnaissance platoon engages in combat when necessary to accomplish its mission or when necessary for self-preservation.

b. Initial contact.—(1) When the enemy is sighted before he sees the platoon, every precaution is taken to prevent disclosing the platoon's presence. The leading vehicle on observing the enemy halts at the nearest cover and informs the platoon leader, who transmits the information to the other elements of the platoon and immediately makes a personal reconnaissance. The rear elements keep the platoon leader under observation for signals and place their vehicles so as to cover the flanks and rear of the platoon. If the mission and immediate situation require combat, the platoon leader decides whether to employ offensive or defensive action. When combat is incidental to securing identifications or engaging hostile reconnaissance vehicles, an ambush is set. Consideration must always be given to the terrain, road net, and mutual supporting action between elements of the platoon.

(2) When the leading vehicle is taken under surprise fire, or surprises a hostile force, it utilizes its maximum fire power to inflict the greatest possible damage at once, and quickly seeks cover from which to continue its fire fight. The platoon commander, informed of the encounter by personal observation, the sound of firing, or by message, must decide promptly whether to attack, defend, or evade. When the mission permits, offensive action by fire and movement against one of the enemy's flanks often affords the best chance of success. Regardless of how the leader plans to handle the situation, he should provide assistance, at once, for the leading car by taking his own car or sending another to a position where supporting fire can be delivered on the enemy. If the hostile force consists of mechanized vehicles, at least one tank destroyer gun should be placed in action immediately. His next immediate concern is to assure himself that his platoon is so disposed that his flanks and rear are reasonably secure. If he has run into a force stronger than his own, he promptly breaks off the action unless this is contrary to his mission. If in doubt, he may maintain contact and dispose his platoon for defense while making further investigation. Even though his platoon is well disposed for its own security, and appears to have the initial advantage, he does not commit it to an attack unless his mission justifies an attack and a personal reconnaissance convinces him that an attack will succeed.

c. Attack of road blocks.—(1) When the platoon encounters a road block, dismounted reconnaissance is made to determine the nature and extent of the obstacle; whether it is isolated or merely one of a series; whether it is defended, and, if so, in what strength and by what type of weapons; and whether if can be detoured, If a detour is practicable, the platoon detours the road block and continues on its mission, reporting promptly, and in detail, the information obtained. When detour is impracticable or reconnaissance reveals a weak defense, the platoon may attack.

(2) The method of attack of a road block will depend on the location, strength, and composition of the hostile defending troops. Usually part of the platoon is employed near the axis if movement to engage the enemy by fire, while the remainder, utilizing surprise to the maximum, maneuvers to a favorable position on the flank or in the rear and attacks by fire and movement. Stalking is particularly applicable in such action.

d. Delaying action.—(1) When the platoon is employed to seize and hold distant objectives, its combat action frequently takes the form of delaying action in advance of the assigned objective. If a strong defensive position is available, such as a defile, vehicles are dispersed under cover in good firing position and a portion of the platoon prepares for dismounted action.

(2) In delaying action the platoon occupies successive positions between the hostile force and its objective, forcing the enemy to deploy frequently for attack. One section usually goes into action in an advanced position, opening fire at long ranges while the other occupies a position in rear to cover its withdrawal or executes a surprise attack against the enemy's flank. Ambushes are prepared in favorable localities. Withdrawing individual vehicles withdraw successively, mutually supporting one another.

e. Harassing action.—In harassing action the platoon annoys and wears down the hostile resistance by surprise attacks against the enemy's front, flanks, and rear and by ambush operations.

• 124. COUNTERRECONNAISSANCE.—a. The missions of a platoon acting as a counterreconnaissance detachment are, primarily, to prevent reconnaissance by the enemy's ground troops and to deny the transmission of information to the enemy. The platoon is habitually assigned a zone of action or a sector. For general doctrine governing counterreconnaissance, see FM 100-5.

b. The width of the zone of action or the frontage assigned depends upon the strength of the hostile forces likely to be encountered, the terrain and road net, and the nature of the screen to be established. A platoon will not usually be assigned a frontage wider than 3 miles.

c. In general, counterreconnaissance detachments will often be used to—

(1) Prevent small hostile patrols from penetrating the zone of action or sector assigned.

(2) Destroy or drive off small hostile detachments.

(3) Locate and delay the advance of larger detachments.

(4) Reinforce, or form rallying positions for, their own patrols.

(5) Maintain liaison within that part of the screen established by the detachments well as with adjacent detachments.

(6) Reconnoiter locally to the front and flanks of the detachment.

(7) Furnish information to the commander of the main body.

d. Personnel and weapons are employed in accordance with the doctrine of their use in offensive and defensive action by small units.


• 125. ORGANIZATION.—For composition, armament, and equipment, see T/O 18-28.

• 126. CHARACTERISTICS AND MISSIONS.—a. The pioneer platoon is organized, equipped, and especially trained for the performance of combat engineer tasks. Its armament is relatively limited, but the platoon is capable of protecting itself for a limited time against attack by dismounted enemy elements.

b. The principal missions of the platoon are—

(1) To facilitate the movement of the battalion or elements thereof.

(2) To impede the movement of enemy vehicles by obstacles and demolitions.

c. Other employment of the platoon may be for security, battle reconnaissance, route marking, or as a reserve of dismounted troops.

d. The pioneer platoon is usually employed under the direction of the reconnaissance company commander. When its mission requires it to be detached so far that it is removed from the immediate control of the company commander, it may operate directly under the battalion commander.

• 127. TACTICAL EMPLOYMENT.—a. In a bivouac or assembly position, the platoon helps to provide the static antimechanized measures, mines, road blocks, etc., necessary to secure the area from hostile attack.

b. During the march of the battalion, unless otherwise ordered, the pioneer platoon marches with the reconnaissance company, on the main axis of advance. The platoon commander's radio is kept tuned to the frequency of the company commander's transmitter. Where removal of obstacles is necessary to permit the advance, the platoon moves rapidly to the designated area and performs its tasks. The platoon may be required to protect the flank of the battalion by the establishment of hasty road blocks or execution of demolition on routes of enemy approach. During the march the platoon leader also carefully notes all defiles, bridges, and areas suitable for demolition or obstacle construction in case such action should become necessary owing to an altered situation.

c. Immediately prior to combat the pioneer platoon may be employed to improve routes into proposed areas of employment. During the actual movement into combat, the pioneer platoon, or detachments thereof, may march with forward elements of tank destroyer companies to assist their movement.

d. If an ambush engagement is planned, this platoon may be used to reinforce the unit posted to delay the head of the hostile armored elements by use of road blocks or mines.

e. After the action the pioneer platoon may be used to prepare the rallying position and assist in securing it.

f. Should the action develop so favorably as to cause the battalion commander to initiate pursuit, the pioneer platoon is used with the reconnaissance company in an encircling action, to block defiles and execute demolitions on the enemy's line of retreat.

g. If the battalion withdraws, the demolition capabilities of the pioneer platoon are employed to the fullest in hindering the pursuit.

• 128. USE OF MINES.—Placing of mines by the pioneer platoon is a temporary measure; except when precluded by the situation, the mines are recovered by the platoon before it leaves the vicinity. Prompt report is made to the battalion commander concerning the location of mines. The platoon posts the necessary guards and takes the other precautions necessary to prevent mines from damaging friendly vehicles.


• 129. GENERAL.—a. The reconnaissance company consists of a company headquarters, a pioneer platoon, and three reconnaissance platoons.

b. It is the principal reconnaissance agency of the tank destroyer battalion. Its mobility on roads or cross country and its fire power make it capable of both offensive and defensive action during either reconnaissance or security operations.

c. Whenever practicable, the reconnaissance company maintains a radio set in the air-ground net.

d. The assignment of missions and the issuance of reconnaissance instructions will be greatly expedited by standing operating procedure, especially with reference to information which is habitually desired. For example, suitable items which may be obtained coincident with the performance of other missions and pertinent information thereof transmitted at designated times or places are—

(1) Routes and bridges, their type and construction.

(2) Communication facilities and other utilities.

(3) Location of contaminated areas.

(4) Location and type of supplies, especially gasoline, oil, and food.

(5) Location and time of all hostile contact.

(6) Type, location, and direction of flight of hostile aircraft.

(7) Type, location, and movement of hostile mechanized elements.

(8) Other pertinent information as to terrain.

• 130. MISSIONS.—a. (1) The principal mission of the company will usually be to obtain information of the enemy, friendly troops, and the terrain and to transmit such information to the battalion commander in time for it to be acted upon. Other missions which may be assigned are to provide security for the battalion, to guide it on the march, to facilitate its movement through pioneer action, and, exceptionally, to participate in combat. Assignment of all of these missions for simultaneous execution will be unusual.

(2) The company at all times has a concurrent mission of discovering areas contaminated by persistent gases and safe passages or detours when these areas are along a route to be used by the battalion or elements thereof.

b. At times it will be necessary for the company to perform both reconnaissance and security missions simultaneously. When both types of missions are given, the battalion commander should indicate whether reconnaissance or security is of the greater importance. The reconnaissance company commander with this in mind allots the missions to subordinate elements of his company, assigning stronger forces to the more important mission. Under no circumstances should a subordinate element, such as a platoon, be given both reconnaissance and security missions simultaneously. It may be necessary, however, as the situation changes, to assign a reconnaissance mission to an element which had previously been assigned a security mission or vice versa. When such an occasion arises, it must be made clear to the element that its assignment to the original mission is terminated.

c. In allotting missions, the company commander endeavors to retain at least one reconnaissance platoon in reserve.

• 131. OCCUPATION OF BIVOUAC.—a. The reconnaissance company bivouacs with the remainder of the battalion; usually it is located near the principal route of egress from the bivouac. It posts local security in a manner similar to that indicated for tank destroyer companies. In exposed situations, elements of the reconnaissance company provide stationary observation posts along main routes several miles from the bivouac.

b. When near the enemy the bulk of the company will often be employed on reconnaissance and security missions away from the bivouac. During hours of darkness, reconnaissance elements not in contact with the enemy or observing important avenues of tank approach will be habitually withdrawn to the bivouac area of the battalion unless an emergency calls for other action.

• 132. RECONNAISSANCE.—a. A reconnaissance company under average conditions can reconnoiter a zone from 10 to 20 miles wide containing from three to five axial roads generally parallel to the direction of advance at the rate of 8 to 15 miles an hour.

b. The battalion commander's instructions to the reconnaissance company commander for the execution of reconnaissance will usually include—

(1) Information concerning the enemy.

(2) Information of friendly troops, and the axis of advance of the battalion command post.

(3) Mission of the battalion.

(4) Areas or zones to be reconnoitered and information needed.

(5) Time and place at which information is desired and means of transmission (radio or messenger).

c. The company commander's orders to platoon and detached patrol leaders are usually oral; special reconnaissance Instructions may be written.

d. Warning orders are issued when time permits. These include information as to—

Time of starting.
Reinforcements, if any.
Gasoline, oil, ammunition, equipment, and rations.

e. Following the warning order, detailed instructions are issued. They contain general and special instructions.

(1) General instructions include—

(a) Information of the enemy which has a direct bearing on the mission.

(b) Mission, time of departure, route, and objectives of the main body.

(c) Information of other reconnaissance or security agencies, particularly adjacent reconnaissance units.

(d) Mission, route, and objectives of the company.

(2) Special instructions include—

(a) Special information required (stated in the form of a specific question or assigned as a specific mission).

(b) Zone, area, or route to be covered.

(c) Objectives and time each is to be reached.

(d) Reconnaissance phase lines and time each is to be crossed.

(e) Instructions for transmission of reports or time when reports are desired.

(f) Line of conduct to be pursued in the presence of the enemy or in case hostile patrols are encountered.

(g) Instructions concerning communication with observation aviation.

(h) When and where platoon or patrol must rejoin.

(i) Location of company command post.

f. The company commander divides the zone to be reconnoitered among his reconnaissance platoons in accordance with its width and the number of axial roads. In principle, he assigns one road to a platoon. He rarely makes a platoon responsible for reconnoitering a zone wider than 5 miles.

g. The use of radio is limited, usually, to the transmission of important information immediately to the battalion commander. Overlays and sketches are often utilized to assist the battalion commander in visualizing the terrain and to facilitate rapid planning.

• 133. RECONNAISSANCE IN FORCE.—a. During the early phases of an operation, the location, and at times the composition and strength, of leading hostile elements may be determined by observation and light contact, but as the main forces of the enemy approach, this may be insufficient. To determine the location, strength, and movement of the main body of enemy tanks may require reconnaissance in force.

b. The reconnaissance company commander determines, upon available information, whether he should make a reconnaissance in force and where he should direct it. When practicable, he reports the situation and his contemplated action to the battalion commander.

c. If the reconnaissance in force encounters superior forces, the company breaks off the attack. If the company also has been assigned a security mission, it maintains contact, fighting a delaying action where necessary.

d. If contact with the main hostile force is developed by this action, the company informs the battalion and remains in observation; if the opposition proves to be merely local security or reconnaissance forces, the company's reconnoitering mission is resumed.

• 134. DISPOSITIONS DURING APPROACH TO COMBAT.—Dispositions of the company depend upon missions received and the situation. The following dispositions are appropriate for a reconnaissance company preceding the battalion on a sudden march to battle and charged initially only with reconnaissance missions:

a. When the battalion marches on a single road a reconnaissance platoon reconnoiters the main axis, preferably several miles in advance of the rest of the company. It will usually be desirable to employ a second reconnaissance platoon on patrol missions to the flanks of the main axis. Reconnaissance company headquarters with the third reconnaissance platoon and the pioneer platoon move along the main axis.

b. When the battalion moves on two roads one reconnaissance platoon reconnoiters each road and the contiguous terrain. Company headquarters and the pioneer platoon move on the road which seems most important. The remaining reconnaissance platoon accompanies company headquarters or is detached on special missions.

c. When the battalion moves on three roads, one reconnaissance platoon reconnoiters each road. In some cases they may be attached to tank destroyer companies. The company commander and the pioneer platoon usually move along the central route.

• 135. COMBAT.—a. When the tank destroyer companies become engaged with the enemy, the reconnaissance company elements break off frontal contact, and unless assigned other missions move to the flanks. The battalion commander usually assigns missions to the reconnaissance company by radio; at times this will be after combat is engaged. Such missions may be—

(1) Further reconnaissance.

(2) Flank security.

(3) Liaison with other units. (4) Mopping up in rear of the battalion.

(5) Reconnoitering or blocking the enemy's retreat.

(6) Keeping open a route for supply vehicles.

(7) Acting as mobile reserve for the battalion.

b. If the battalion retires before a superior armored force, elements of the reconnaissance company assist in covering the withdrawal by delaying and harassing actions. In such a situation the pioneer platoon erects road blocks and obstacles and places antitank mines and demolitions. The reconnaissance platoons ambush hostile parties and confuse and blind the opposing forces by smoke screens.

• 136. NIGHT ATTACKS—The reconnaissance company is especially trained, to make night attacks on tanks in bivouac or "harbors." Tactics on night attacks are set forth in chapter 10.

• 137. SECURITY MISSIONS.—a. Security missions are usually executed by platoon; the company commander exercises such control as is necessary.

b. When not in the immediate presence of the enemy, the reconnaissance company ordinarily bivouacs with the remainder of the battalion, usually being located near the principal route of egress from the position. It establishes local security in the same manner as tank destroyer companies and may be required to furnish one or more outguards.

c. The reconnaissance company may be called upon to assist, with a portion of its elements, in covering the movement of the battalion into an assembly position in preparation for combat. It uses its available reserve to establish delaying groups covering the principal routes leading into the area. Duration of this mission is usually short.

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