The Reconnaissance Regiment

by Maj E.J. Robeson IV

CWO-2 Lavender’s article (Mar82) advocated the creation of an additional regiment in the Marine division. This regiment would incorporate the proposed light armored vehicle [now referred to as light armored assault battalions (LAABs)] as one of its “maneuver” units. While the article contained many thoughtful recommendations, 1 do no! believe that the LAAB incorporation was one of them. The LAAB . . . should be part of a reconnaissance regiment.

The increased information requirements on the modern battlefield and in maneuver warfare make a reconnaissance regiment a logical consideration. … A reconnaissance regiment would go far to improve the scope and quality of our intelligence effort. Ground reconnaissance consists of nothing more or less than professional patrolling which results in information gained covertly or overtly. A force recon, battalion recon, or STA platoon Marine is useful to the Marine Corps only if he can patrol and acquire and communicate information. Before a team can patrol, however, it must be introduced into the objective area. Here is where the distractions begin-for introduction requires the use of insertion/extraction techniques. Because these techniques are sophisticated and hazardous, ranging from military free fall parachuting to submerged submarine escape trunk lock-outs to helicopter transported motorized patrols, much time must be spent training to conduct them with proficiency. At the present time, our various recon units exhibit not only extensive duplication in these evolutions, but also a certain lack of proficiency. We are developing reconnaissance Marines who are “jacks” rather than “masters.” A reconnaissance regiment would stop this.

Consolidating the reconnaissance battalion, force reconnaissance company, SCAMP platoon, and LAAB would provide a coordinated, integrated ground informationgathering organization. Each unit could then be tasked to specialize in a limited number of landing and withdrawal techniques, in which they could then become truly proficient.

The reconnaissance battalion could become the amphibious reconnaissance battalion, and have the responsibility for all amphibious missions, both pre- and post-D-day, and all landings and withdrawals from the sea. They would lose their present fascination with parachuting, as well as motorized palrolling. The force reconnaissance company would be needed in triplicate and could continue to have responsibility for deep missions, but with a parachute delivery capability only. Hydrographic surveys, beach reconnaissance, submarine operations and cast and recovery techniques could all be dropped in order to concentrate on learning to land in an unknown zone at night as a team and communicating by radio over extended distances. The LAAB . . . would perform motorized reconnaissance, screening and counter-reconnaissance tasks. The SCAMP platoon would have access to these units to assist in emplacing sensors.

In addition to bringing all of these scattered, like units into a common organization, there would be a laudable effect at the division staff level. The G-2 and G-3 would have a single commander with a supporting staff with which to coordinate. The reconnaissance and surveillance plan would cease to be a potpourri of requests from organizations with competing ideas and become a single integrated document, responsive to the division commander’s information requirements.

In summary, FMFM O-3 Doctrinal Publications Guide states that ground reconnaissance for MCATFs is a reconnaissance organization’s responsibility. Reconnaissance, whether conducted by foot, fin, or light armored vehicle is still reconnaissance. There is nothing wrong with our doctrine; we simply need to exercise it in an intelligent manner. Perhaps a reconnaissance regiment would be a step in that direction.