Patrol Formation - Wedge Traveling Overwatch
thanks Tire Iron
In this article we will discuss the “Wedge” Patrol Formation.
1. The Wedge: Is used in open terrain and crossing large danger areas. It is hard to control in dense brush and is slower than the “Column Formation” it that type of environment.
2. The Strengths of the Wedge formation are:
a. Good all around security
b. Good all around firepower
c. Good for large open areas
3. The Weaknesses of the Wedge formation are:
a. Slower than Column formation in heavy brush
b. Noisier than Column formation
c. Easier to track (there is one ‘trail’ per man)
4. The best circumstances for using the Wedge is when/where there is little cover/concealment – i.e. large open danger areas.
5. Movement speed it totally METT-T dependant. (METT-T is – Mission; Enemy; Terrain/Weather; Troops/Equipment; - Time. So – the Mission may not allow you to go as slow as you want because you have to be ‘on target’ at a certain time – OR – there is more Enemy activity in the area forcing you to go SLOWER than you originally anticipated – OR – the Terrain is different that you were lead to believe – OR – the Weather is WAY different than you were told – OR – fatigue has sapped your men sooner than you anticipated – OR – because of equipment failures you have to move faster on foot – OR – Time is running out and you must move faster than you planned – etc, etc, etc.)
There are a number of ways to use this formation during movement – we will discuss two of the most useful.
The first one is called “Traveling Overwatch”. This is where the team splits into two smaller teams, with one 3 man team leading, and one 3 man team trailing.
The reason the team splits into two small ‘sub-teams’ is in case contact is made with the enemy. Being split into two smaller teams give one team the chance to NOT be in contact – so they can then aid/provide cover fire so the team that is engaged can then break contact – or if the situation warrants – the second team can begin to maneuver against the enemy while the first team provides cover fire.
Here is a picture.
Note that each man has his own Area of Responsibility (AoR). The distance between men in each sub-team is dependant upon terrain, weather, lighting conditions, etc. – but you want to be close enough so that team members don’t wander in the wrong direction.
Also notice that one team is ‘following’ the other. The primary responsibility of the “PM” on the second team to maintain distance from the first team. He doesn’t have a AoR – his only purpose is to not get too far away from the lead team – and also to not be too close. So he maintains the best ‘pace’ to keep the right distance. In this movement technique, the PM is usually the ATL.
In flat open areas, the second team will be only close enough to see hand/arm signals from the first team. However, in area of small hills and/or poor light – the second team will have to be closer in order to maintain sight with the primary team AT ALL TIMES. So – again - it is the responsibility of the “PM” of the second team to maintain proper distance.
Traveling Overwatch is the FASTEST way to get a team across a Large Open Danger Area. It is superior to the Column formation because it provides much better firepower to the front. However – it is not as “secure” as the “Bounding Overwatch” method we will discuss shortly. So – the Traveling Overwatch method is used when the chance of enemy contact is very low.
Here is a illustration of the Sectors of Fire (SoF) for the Traveling Overwatch method.
Note that that there is good firepower to the front and flanks. Also note that each man has his MBR/MBC pointed to his individual AoR.
Using this technique – a team is able to cross a Large Open Danger Area that has little chance of enemy contact – the quickest, with a decent amount of security.