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
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 communications (technical and
- Essential equipment.
- Actions at danger areas.
- Signaling techniques.
- Immediate action drills.
- Linkup procedures.
- Helicopter recovery devices and procedures.
- Security procedures during movement and at
- 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
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.
Upon notification to avoid capture, all movement
team members will try to link up at the initial movement point. This point is
where team members rally and actually begin their movement. Tentatively select
the initial movement point during your planning phase through a map recon. Once
on the ground, the team verifies this location or selects a better one. All team
members must know its location. The initial movement point should be easy to
locate and occupy for a minimum amount of time.
Once the team has rallied at the initial movement
point, it must--
- Give first aid.
- Inventory its equipment (decide what to
abandon, destroy, or take along).
- Apply camouflage.
- Make sure everyone knows the tentative hide
- Ensure everyone knows the primary and
alternate routes and rally points en route to the hide locations.
- Always maintain security.
- Split the team into smaller elements. The
ideal element should have two to three members; however, it could include
more depending on team equipment and experience.
The movement portion of returning to friendly
control is the most dangerous as you are now most vulnerable. It is usually
better to move at night because of the concealment darkness offers. Exceptions
to such movement would be when moving through hazardous terrain or dense
vegetation (for example, jungle or mountainous terrain). When moving, avoid the
following even if it takes more time and energy to bypass:
- Obstacles and barriers.
- Roads and trails.
- Inhabited areas.
- Waterways and bridges.
- Natural lines of drift.
- Man-made structures.
- All civilian and military personnel.
Movement in enemy-held territory is a very slow
and deliberate process. The slower you move and the more careful you are, the
better. Your best security will be using your senses. Use your eyes and ears to
detect people before they detect you. Make frequent listening halts. In
daylight, observe a section of your route before you move along it. The distance
you travel before you hide will depend on the enemy situation, your health, the
terrain, the availability of cover and concealment for hiding, and the amount of
Once you have moved into the area in which you
want to hide (hide area), select a hide site. Keep the following formula in mind
when selecting a hide site: BLISS.
B - Blends in with the surroundings.
L - Low in silhouette.
I - Irregular in shape.
S - Small in size.
S - Secluded.
Avoid the use of existing buildings or shelters.
Usually, your best option will be to crawl into the thickest vegetation you can
find. Construct any type of shelter within the hide area only in cold weather
and desert environments. If you build a shelter, follow the BLISS formula.
Hide Site Activities
After you have located your hide site, do not
move straight into it. Use a button hook or other deceptive technique to move to
a position outside of the hide site. Conduct a listening halt before moving
individually into the hide site. Be careful not to disturb or cut any
vegetation. Once you have occupied the hide site, limit your activities to
maintaining security, resting, camouflaging, and planning your next moves.
Maintain your security through visual scanning
and listening. Upon detection of the enemy, the security personnel alert all
personnel, even if the team's plan is to stay hidden and not move upon sighting
the enemy. Take this action so that everyone is aware of the danger and ready to
If any team member leaves the team, give him a
five-point contingency plan. Take such steps especially when a recon team or a
work party is out of the hole-up or hide site.
It is extremely important to stay healthy and
alert when trying to avoid capture. Take every opportunity to rest, but do not
sacrifice security. Rotate security so that all members of your movement team
can rest. Treat all injuries, no matter how minor. Loss of your health will mean
loss of your ability to continue to avoid capture.
Camouflage is an important aspect of both moving
and securing a hide site. Always use a buddy system to ensure that camouflage is
complete. Ensure that team members blend with the hide site. Use natural or
man-made materials. If you add any additional camouflage material to the hide
site, do not cut vegetation in the immediate area.
Plan your next actions while
at the hide site. Start your planning process immediately upon occupying the
hide site. Inform all team members of their current location and designate an
alternate hide site location. Once this is done, start planning for the team's
Planning the team's movement begins with a map
recon. Choose the next hide area first. Then choose a primary and an alternate
route to the hide area. In choosing the routes, do not use straight lines. Use
one or two radical changes in direction. Pick the routes that offer the best
cover and concealment, the fewest obstacles, and the least likelihood of contact
with humans. There should be locations along the route where the team can get
water. To aid team navigation, use azimuths, distances, checkpoints or steering
marks, and corridors. Plan rally points and rendezvous points at intervals along
Other planning considerations may fall under what
the team already has in the team SOP. Examples are immediate action drills,
actions on sighting the enemy, and hand-and-arm signals.
Once planning is complete, ensure everyone knows
and memorizes the entire plan. The team members should know the distances and
azimuths for the entire route to the next hide area. They should study the map
and know the various terrain they will be moving across so that they can move
without using the map.
Do not occupy a hide site for more than 24 hours.
In most situations, hide during the day and move at night. Limit your actions in
the hide site to those discussed above. Once in the hide
site, restrict all movement to less than 45 centimeters above the ground. Do not
build fires or prepare food. Smoke and food odors will reveal your location.
Before leaving the hide site, sterilize it to prevent tracking.
After moving and hiding for several days, usually
three or four, you or the movement team will have to move into a hole-up area.
This is an area where you can rest, recuperate, and get and prepare food. Choose
an area near a water source. You then have a place to get water, to place
fishing devices, and to trap game. Since waterways are a line of communication,
locate your hide site well away from the water.
The hole-up area should offer plenty of cover and
concealment for movement in and around the area. Always maintain security while
in the hole-up area. Always man the hole-up area. Actions in the hole-up area
are the same as in hide site, except that you can move away from the hole-up
area to get and prepare food. Actions in the hole-up area include--
- Selecting and occupying the next hide site
(remember you are still in a dangerous situation; this is not a friendly
- Reconnoitering the area for resources and
potential concealed movement routes to the alternate hide site.
- Gathering food (nuts, berries, vegetables).
When moving around the area for food, maintain security and avoid leaving
tracks or other signs. When setting traps and snares, keep them
well-camouflaged and in areas where people are not likely to discover them.
Remember, the local population sometimes heavily travels trails near water
- Getting water from sources within the hide
area. Be careful not to leave tracks of signs along the banks of water
sources when getting water. Moving on hard rocks or logs along the banks to
get water will reduce the signs you leave.
- Setting clandestine fishing devices, such as
stakeouts, below the surface of the water to avoid detection.
- Locating a fire site well away from the hide
site. Use this site to prepare food or boil water. Camouflage and sterilize
the fire site after each use. Be careful that smoke and light from the fire
does not compromise the hole-up area.
While in the hole-up area, security is still your
primary concern. Designate team members to perform specific tasks. To limit
movement around the area, you may have a two-man team perform more than one
task. For example, the team getting water could also set the fishing devices. Do
not occupy the hole-up area longer than 72 hours.
Establishing contact with friendly lines or
patrols is the most crucial part of movement and return to friendly control. All
your patience, planning, and hardships will be in vain if you do not exercise
caution when contacting friendly frontline forces. Friendly patrols have killed
personnel operating behind enemy lines because they did not make contact
properly. Most of the casualties could have been avoided if caution had been
exercised and a few simple procedures followed. The normal tendency is to throw
caution to the winds when in sight of friendly forces. You must overcome this
tendency and understand that linkup is a very sensitive situation.
If you have made your way to a friendly or
neutral country, use the following procedures to cross the border and link up
with friendly forces on the other side:
- Occupy a hide site on the near side of the
border and send a team out to reconnoiter the potential crossing site.
- Surveil the crossing site for at least 24
hours, depending on the enemy situation.
- Make a sketch of the site, taking note of
terrain, obstacles, guard routines and rotations, and any sensor devices or
trip wires. Once the recon is complete, the team moves to the hide site,
briefs the rest of the team, and plans to cross the border at night.
- After crossing the border, set up a hide site
on the far side of the border and try to locate friendly positions. Do not
reveal your presence.
- Depending on the size of your movement team,
have two men surveil the potential linkup site with friendly forces until
satisfied that the personnel are indeed friendly.
- Make contact with the friendly forces during
daylight. Personnel chosen to make contact should be unarmed, have no
equipment, and have positive identification readily available. The person
who actually makes the linkup should be someone who looks least like the
- During the actual contact, have only one
person make the contact. The other person provides the security and observes
the linkup area from a safe distance. The observer should be far enough away
so that he can warn the rest of the movement team if something goes wrong.
- Wait until the party he is contacting looks in
his direction so that he does not surprise the contact. He stands up from
behind cover, with hands overhead and states that he is an American. After
this, he follows any instructions given him. He avoids answering any
tactical questions and does not give any indication that there are other
- Reveal that there are other personnel with him
only after verifying his identity and satisfying himself he has made contact
with friendly forces.
Language problems or difficulties confirming
identities may arise. The movement team should maintain security, be patient,
and have a contingency plan.
Note: If you are moving to a neutral country, you
are surrendering to that power and become a detained person.