The Patrol – Chapter 5

The area around us has been quiet for 10 minutes and I decide now’s the time to cross the road and continue the mission. I slowly rise and give each man in the patrol the up signal, slowly lifting the up-facing palm of my support hand, followed by the sign for a linear danger area (the road), using the same hand, palm down, drawn across my throat, then point to the road. Finally, I tap my left shoulder indicating we will cross the danger area using the “scroll-to-the-road method” and then point to the area on the road where we will cross. The crossing point has good visibility in both directions down a long stretch of the road with no nearby curves. We won’t be surprised by someone suddenly turning a bend in the road at a short distance from our patrol.

The point man in the patrol, in this case Andy, stands and moves toward the road. He takes a knee just inside the treeline, using a large poplar tree for cover and concealment, with his left shoulder (the Ranger scroll or unit patch is on the left shoulder) facing the road. He is now looking down the road to the west, providing security in that direction. When he is in place and sees that the road is clear in that direction, he motions the next man, Jim, forward. Jim moves to Andy’s position, and taps him on the shoulder. Andy then turns around to face the opposite direction, east, insuring it is also clear. By then Jim has taken a knee in Andy’s old position and Andy then quickly stands and moves across the road, still facing east, until he has found concealment just inside the opposite tree line. There he takes a knee still facing the opposite direction from Jim. Andy’s left shoulder is still facing the road but since he is on the far side, he is still facing east. Now both directions of the road are under our observation. Next Al moves to Jim’s position, where he taps his shoulder, and the entire process is executed again. This time however, as Jim turns and moves quickly across the road, he taps Andy on the shoulder. Andy stands and moves into the woods a few yards where he stops at the head of the patrol. He is now on one knee facing in the direction of forward movement. Finally I move to Al, tap his shoulder and the process repeated once again, this time Al turns and after moving across the road, he taps Jim who moves into the woods to Andy’s old position as Andy moves deeper into the woods. Finally, I quickly cross the road, bump Al who moves into the woods with me following when he reaches the proper march interval. If done correctly, the patrol will cross the danger area smoothly without stopping movement. As the last man crossing, I drag a small branch behind me in the dirt of the shoulders of the road to help obscure any footprints we might have left. This technique is more useful when crossing a dirt road and while it will not cover all traces someone has crossed, it does help to conceal the number of folks who have crossed.

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