Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 98

employed, the “squadron’s reconnaissance operations yield an extraordinarily high payoff in the areas of threat location, disposition, and composition, early warning, protection, and battle damage assessment.”20 Reconnaissance operations have the direct effect of allowing commanders to accept or initiate combat at the time and place of their choosing, thus maintaining the BCT’s freedom of maneuver and initiative during the critical early phases of the airborne assault.21 During the assault phase, the main assault force—comprising three infantry battalions, engineers, a fires battalion, and a mission command node—can approach a target lodgment while the reconnaissance squadron approaches a secondary drop zone. Though the assault force must mass firepower on the lodgment, the reconnaissance squadron is not limited to a single piece of terrain. Instead, it can use its superior maneuverability to find and report on the enemy while avoiding direct engagement. Any area capable of receiving multiple heavy drops and up to five hundred paratroopers can suffice for the secondary drop zone. Such an area can be secured and marked by the special operations forces that precede a forcible entry operation. When the main assault force lands on the lodgment, its fight begins; the force works to clear an airhead and prevent the enemy from impeding air landings. Meanwhile, the reconnaissance squadron is not concerned with holding terrain but rather with finding and, as necessary, fixing enemy forces that seek to influence friendly actions on the intended lodgment. Upon landing, the two mounted troops move to their vehicles, inserted by heavy drop moments before paratroopers exit their aircraft, and they quickly begin to disperse. They expand the security zone around the target lodgment, establish screen lines, provide terminal guidance for air power, assess battle damage, and make adjustments for artillery. The mounted troops, working in concert with aerial ISR, provide real-time reporting on enemy locations, composition, and disposition, as well as early warning of enemy reactions to friendly forces. Simultaneously, the dismounted troop moves to targets designated as secondary objectives for the primary assault force. The dismounted troop observes and reports on these objectives and remains available for retasking by the commander to observe named or targeted areas of interest. The individual reconnaissance teams of the dismounted troop provide imagery and full-motion video from a ground perspective to the joint force commander and staff. This enables them to prioritize targets and facilitate a target handover with battalion scouts as the infantry battalions expand the lodgment and turn their focus toward their secondary objectives. (Photo by Spc. L'Erin Wynn, 49th Public Affairs Detachment) After the battalion scouts Paratroopers with 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne link up with the disDivision, establish security 26 October 2015 during a rehearsal for a live-fire exercise in preparation for Combined Joint Operations Access Exercise 16-01 on Fort Bragg, North Carolina. mounted reconnaissance 96 March-April 2016  MILITARY REVIEW