Army Platoon Tactical Basics: How to Setup a Patrol Base

A patrol base is a position set up when a squad or platoon conducting a patrol halts for an extended period patrol basis should be occupied no longer than 24 hours except in an emergency. The patrol never uses the same patrol base twice. The patrol leader must ensure that subordinate leaders establish a priority of work to accomplish patrol base activities. The patrol leader selects the tentative site from a map or by aerial reconnaissance. The site's suitability must be confirmed. It must be secured before occupation plans to establish a patrol base must include selecting an alternate patrol based site. The alternate site is used if the first site is unsuitable compromised or if the patrol must unexpectedly evacuate. The first patrol base site selection criteria include the following:

Planning considerations are a patrol base is established using the following steps. The patrol base is reconnoitered and establish the same as an objective rally point ORP except that the patrol will enter at a 90-degree turn if required. This action is METT-TC dependent. If there is nothing to be gained by doing the step than the unit does not do it. For example, flat desert terrain. The patrol leader halts 300 meters from the plan patrol bay site. The patrol leader selects the compass man and observation post team and two men from each subordinate element. For the leader's recon, the patrol leader briefs, the assistant patrol leader with a contingency plan before leaving in observation post is established a hundred meters short of the plan patrol base at the 90-degree turn if required. After assessing the suitability of the site, the patrol leader leaves a two man security detail at the two six and 10 o'clock positions. The patrol leader compass man move back to the rest of the patrol.

The rest of the patrol is briefed on any change in the plan. If the patrol base is being established at night. The security team member at the six o'clock position facing towards the rest of the patrol must have a visual reference like a chem light flashlight or illuminated compass lens. The compass man leads the rest of the patrol back towards the patrol base. The patrol moves through the oop and stops at the six o'clock position. The patrol leader leads the first element from the six o'clock position to the 10 o'clock position through the two o'clock position. The patrol leader places each member in a straight line between the two security teams. The patrol leader returns to the six o'clock position. For the second element, the patrol leader moves the second element from the six o'clock to the two o'clock position and places each member in a straight line. Between the two security teams. The patrol leader returns to the six o'clock position. For the third element, the patrol leader moves the third element from the six o'clock position to the 10 o'clock position and places each member in a straight line between the two security teams. The most casualty producing weapon for each element is initially placed that the left flank of that element's position.

The patrol leader moves to the center of the patrol base and establishes the command post. If the observation post was not established, the patrol leader now sends out an ambush team approximately a hundred meters from the six o'clock position. They move up the trail and observed for 30 minutes to ensure no enemy force has followed. The patrol. After 30 minutes, the ambush team observation post team returns to the patrol base through the six o'clock position after the patrol leader has checked each squad sector, the squad leaders and another squad member from each squad report to the CP as a recon and surveillance (R&S) team. The platoon leader issues the three R&S teams a contingency plan and reminds them that they are looking for the enemy water built-up areas or human habitat, roads and trails, and any possible rally points. Squads occupying a patrol base on their own.

Do not send out R&S teams at night. If the patrol leader feels that the patrol may have been compromised or track during the initial occupation, he or she may elect to maintain 100% security and wait for total silence before sending out the R&S teams. The R&S team departs from the left flank of their squad sector and moves out a given distance as directed by the patrol leader in his instructions. The distance the R&S team moves away from the squad sector will vary depending upon the terrain and vegetation, anywhere from 200 to 400 meters. All members of the patrol are on 100% alert. During this time, the team moves in a clockwise direction and reenters the patrol base at the right flank of their squad sector. The R&S team, if at all possible, should prepare a sketch of the squad's front.

Once all squad leaders, R&S, teams have completed their recon, they report back to the patrol leader at the CP. The patrol leader gathers the information from his three R&S teams and determines if the patrol is going to be able to use the location as a patrol base. If the patrol leader determines that he will be able to use the location as a patrol base. He gives the following information to his assistant patrol leader and squad leaders and then disseminates other information such as daily challenge and password frequencies and call signs. Squad leaders returned to their squads, give out the information and begin the priorities of work as stated by the patrol leader. Security only one point of entry and exit as used noise and light discipline are maintained at all times. Everyone is challenged. Squad leaders supervise the placement of aiming stakes and ensure claymores are put out.

Each squad establishes positions and may quietly dig hasty fighting positions. Squad leaders prepare and turn in sector sketches to include range cards. Alert plan, the patrol leader states the alert posture, for example, 50% or 33% and the stand to time for both day and night. He sets up the plan to ensure positions are checked periodically. OPS are relieved periodically and ensure that at least one liter is up at all times. Withdrawal Plan, the patrol leader designates which signal to use if contact is made; for example, a colored star cluster.  Other considerations are to ensure weapons systems, communication equipment, and NVGs are not broken down at the same time for maintenance, to redistribute ammunition, as well as the sanitation and personal hygiene plan. The assistant patrol leader ensures the platoon slit trenches, dug and marked at night with a chemical light inside the trench. Soldiers ensure that no trash is left behind as the patrol base must be sterilized. Just before departure the mess plan, no more than half the patrol eats at one time. Conduct water resupply. The assistant patrol leader organizes a watering party. They carry canteens and empty rucksack. Squads have the same requirements for their squad patrol base as platoons.

The patrol base is a temporary board static position out of which a patrol conducts a series of missions. Understanding the setup of a patrol base can initially be a challenge, but with practice, it becomes second nature.

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