Survival Movement in Hostile Areas: Phases of Planning
Preparation is a requirement for all missions. When planning, you must consider how to avoid capture and return to your unit. Contingency plans must be prepared in conjunction with unit standing operating procedures (SOPs). Courses of action you or your unit will take must also be considered.
Contingency Plan of Action (CPA)
Intelligence sections can help prepare personnel for contingency actions through information supplied in area studies, SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape) contingency guides, threat briefings, current intelligence reports, and current contact and authentication procedures. Pre-mission preparation includes the completion of a CPA. The study and research needed to develop the CPA will make you aware of the current situation in your mission area. Your CPA will let recovery forces know your probable actions should you have to move to avoid capture.
Start preparing even before pre-mission planning. Many parts of the CPA are SOP for your unit. Include the CPA in your training. Planning starts in your daily training.
The CPA is your entire plan for your return to friendly control. It consists of five paragraphs written in the operation order format. You can take most of paragraph 1, Situation, with you on the mission. Appendix H contains the CPA format. It also indicates what portion of the CPA you can take with you.
A comprehensive CPA is a valuable asset to the soldier trapped behind enemy lines who must try to avoid capture. To complete paragraph 1, know your unit's assigned area or concentrate on potential mission areas of the world. Many open or closed sources contain the information you need to complete a CPA. Open sources may include newspapers, magazines, country or area handbooks, area studies, television, radio, persons familiar with the area, and libraries. Closed sources may include area studies, area assessments, SERE contingency guides, various classified field manuals, and intelligence reports.
Prepare your CPA in three phases. During your normal training, prepare paragraph 1, Situation. Prepare paragraphs 2, 3, 4, and 5 during your pre-mission planning. After deployment into an area, continually update your CPA based on mission changes and intelligence updates.
The CPA is a guide. You may add or delete certain portions based on the mission. The CPA may be a recovery force's only means of determining your location and intentions after you start to move. It is an essential tool for your survival and return to friendly control.
Standing Operating Procedures
Unit SOPs are valuable tools your unit has that will help your planning. When faced with a dangerous situation requiring immediate action, it is not the time to discuss options; it is the time to act. Many of the techniques used during small unit movement can be carried over to fit requirements for moving and returning to friendly control. Items from the SOP should include, but are not limited to--
- Movement team size (three to four persons per team).
- Team communications (technical and nontechnical).
- Essential equipment.
- Actions at danger areas.
- Signaling techniques.
- Immediate action drills.
- Linkup procedures.
- Helicopter recovery devices and procedures.
- Security procedures during movement and at hide sites.
- Rally points.
Rehearsals work effectively for reinforcing these SOP skills and also provide opportunities for evaluation and improvement.
Notification to Move and Avoid Capture
An isolated unit has several general courses of action it can take to avoid the capture of the group or individuals. These courses of action are not courses the commander can choose instead of his original mission. He cannot arbitrarily abandon the assigned mission. Rather, he may adopt these courses of action after completing his mission when his unit cannot complete its assigned mission (because of combat power losses) or when he receives orders to extract his unit from its current position. If such actions are not possible, the commander may decide to have the unit try to move to avoid capture and return to friendly control. In either case, as long as there is communication with higher headquarters, that headquarters will make the decision.
If the unit commander loses contact with higher headquarters, he must make the decision to move or wait. He bases his decision on many factors, including the mission, rations and ammunition on hand, casualties, the chance of relief by friendly forces, and the tactical situation. The commander of an isolated unit faces other questions. What course of action will inflict maximum damage on the enemy? What course of action will assist in completing the higher headquarters' overall mission?
Movement teams conduct the execution portion of the plan when notified by higher headquarters or, if there is no contact with higher headquarters, when the highest ranking survivor decides that the situation requires the unit to try to escape capture or destruction. Movement team leaders receive their notification through prebriefed signals. Once the signal to try to avoid capture is given, it must be passed rapidly to all personnel. Notify higher headquarters, if possible. If unable to communicate with higher headquarters, leaders must recognize that organized resistance has ended, and that organizational control has ceased. Command and control is now at the movement team or individual level and is returned to higher organizational control only after reaching friendly lines.
Survival movement in hostile areas
Phases of planning |
Return to friendly control