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This document serves as a manual for the Pathfinder qualification course. The following sections will detail the information that trainees should be competent with by the end of the training. Competency will be measured by both practical activities and theoretical assessments relating to each section.

When undergoing training, the sections of this document can be broken up over multiple sessions but at least one section in its entirety must be completed per session. All sections must be completed by the first day of the month following the beginning of the course. This means if one member completes section one on the third of January and another member completes section one on the fifthteenth of January, they both must complete section five before the first of February or be reassessed on all sections in February. This month based training block method is to simplify record keeping so trainers don’t have to actively track the amount of time that has passed since a trainee began the course.


  • CBTC 1/2
  • Signals


Recconaissance Team Purpose and Tasking

Pathfinders will operate in teams of four to six members that will perform reconnaissance collecting and distributing intelligence on the area of operation. A reconnaissance team can be tasked in multiple ways by leadership elements depending on the mission demands. After completion of the tasked objective, pathfinders will perform an intelligence handover with the element that tasked them to relay any information they have obtained.

Reconnaissance Team Tasking

Before a mission, SOCOMD leadership elements will determine whether or not pathfinders are to be deployed in the mission. Before the mission begins primary objectives can be issued. Upon completing these objectives, the reconnaissance teams are freed to complete objectives requested by other leadership elements in the field. The priority of these requests is in line with the SOCOMD order of battle.

Request Priority by Tasking Element

1. Company CO
3. Platoon OC
4. Section SECCO
0. Any request to prevent imminent friendly casualties will supercede all priorities

Methods of Location Designation for Reconnaissance Requests:


  • Most general method of location designation
  • Tasked team is to perform any requested objectives in and around the designated area
  • Designated areas can be any recognizable features on the map
Recognizable geographic features (mountains, forests, marshes, etc)
Know structures/fortifications


  • Used to prepare for convoys or generalized unit movement along defined routes
  • Tasked team is to perform any requested objectives along the designated route
  • Designated routes can be any recognizable path on the map


  • Most specific method of location designation
  • Tasked team is to perform any requested objectives within a specifically defined zone
  • Zones are designated by a closed shape drawn on the map
Lines drawn to completely enclose any area
Points placed to enclose an area within a resultant regular polygon (i.e. the zone within a square defined by two points)

Reconnaissance Team Objectives

Through collecting information and denying information or initiative to enemy forces, we can provide SOCOMD elements with freedom to maneuver. This means: knowing the location and capability of enemy forces equips leadership elements with the ability to position themselves in such a way to gain an advantage over hostile forces. Pathfinders should be able to accomplish any mission that contributes to the freedom of maneuver for friendly forces.


Reconnaissance objectives are generally taskings aimed at acquiring or validating information for a SOCOMD leadership element. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Find and report all enemy forces and fortifications
  • Find and report all notable terrain features
Terrain features misrepresented or misleading on the map
Obstructive or unique terrain
Possible ambush locations
  • Locate bypasses around fortifications, obstacles, and contaminated areas
  • Inspect and classify all overpasses, underpasses, and culverts
How wide is the passage
Which of SOCOMD assets can enter or traverse it
  • Locate and classify all possible landing zones or staging points
  • Locate and clear all mines, obstacles, and barriers (within capability)
  • Based on engagement criteria, eliminate enemy forces (within capability)


Guard objectives are generally taskings aimed at guarding friendly freedom of maneuver. This can be further divided into Advance Guards and Rear Guards. Advance Guards are when the reconnaissance team is deployed ahead of other SOCOMD elements to carry out an objective. Rear Guards are when the reconnaissance team is deployed following other SOCOMD elements to carry out an objective. These objectives include but are not limited to:

  • Sabotage of enemy assets
  • Fients or diversionary attacks
  • Securing of landing zones or staging areas
  • Disruption of enemy movement or supply lines
  • Interdiction of enemy flanking forces or observers


Screen objectives are when the reconnaissance team acts as an early warning system. The team will break up into buddy pairs and spread out to monitor a length of terrain. This will generally be employed as flank protection watching for enemy QRF/reinforcements. Screens will be carried out in varying ways depending on operational demands but general notes for screens are as follows:

  • Screens can be accomplished both mounted and dismounted depending on
Speed and Caution requirements (see Mission Tempo [2.1])
Amount of terrain needing to be covered
  • Upon spotting enemy forces pathfinders are to immediately perform an intelligence handover with the element that tasked the screen objective
  • After a handover pathfinders will take one of two courses of action depending on circumstances
Immediately withdraw and rendezvous with the rest of the team to carry out other objectives
Maintain position for further observation of the enemy force
A buddy pair will never engage hostiles unless it is self defense during a fighting withdrawal

Intelligence Handover Reports

After completing an objective, a reconnaissance team must relay the intelligence they gathered to the element that tasked the objective. The reconnaissance team leader will generally be the team member to perform the handover whether this is face-to-face or over radio networks.

Face-to-Face Guidelines

  • Conversations allow for much more detail to be conveyed
  • Is not constrained by RATEL
Tasking element can freely ask questions
Pathfinders can offer lengthy explanations and descriptions
  • Harder to organise in the field
Use predefined or rapid rendezvous points
Tasking element and reconnaissance team could be separated by a distance that cannot be reasonably traveled before the intelligence depreciates

Radio Guidelines

  • Takes up space on a radio network
Restricts the amount of information that can easily be conveyed
Must follow RATEL and formal communication
  • Most reconnaissance will be performed through cTab GPSs
May or may not require radio communication based on threat and notification level
Can be more ambiguous and leave tasking element with questions
  • Any explicitly requested recon must be conveyed in an eight line radio communication
i.e. A tasking element explicitly inquires about AAA in a zone
The eight lines are issued as a SALUTE report (see section 4.1.1)

Reconnaissance Team Movement

Mission Tempo

Team movement will generally dictate the level of stealth and precision in reconnaissance operations. The varying levels of both aspects are categorized as Tempo. Tempo is described by four terms: rapid, deliberate, stealthy, and forceful. Rapid and deliberate are mutually exclusive relating to the speed of intelligence collection as are stealthy and forceful relating to the caution level of a team. Tempo will be dictated by the tasking element and can be shifted throughout the completion of the objectives depending on changing operational demands.



  • Objectives are limited to a very specific and short list
  • Used when time is of the essence
  • Only a limited amount of intelligence is required to complete the mission


  • All objectives are to be completed
  • Reconnaissance is to be thorough and detailed
  • Time frame of completion is much less of a concern



  • Emphasizes avoiding detection
  • Engagement dictated by restrictive criteria
  • Pathfinders should make full use of cover and concealment
  • Enemy forces believed to be present are outside the capability of the reconnaissance team


  • Combination of mounted and aerial reconnaissance
  • Use of direct and indirect fire support to harass and test enemy capabilities
  • Detailed reconnaissance is not required
  • Used when dismounted reconnaissance is not safe

Dismounted Reconnaissance

This method is the most time consuming but allows for the most detailed information to be collected. Considerations for employing dismounted reconnaissance include:

  • Stealth is required or security is the primary concern
  • Time is available
  • Detailed information is required
  • The reconnaissance objective is a stationary threat, fixed site, or terrain feature
  • The unit expects, or has made, enemy contact through visual/electronic means
  • Reconnaissance vehicles cannot move through an area because of terrain or threat
  • Terrain creates a ‘visual dead space’ that prevents optics or sensors use
  • Vehicles are not available.

Mounted Reconnaissance

Mounted reconnaissance allows for a more rapid tempo while increasing the likelihood of compromising stealth. Considerations for employing mounted reconnaissance include:

  • Time is limited
  • Distances require mounted movement
  • Stealth and security are not primary concerns
  • Detailed information is not required, or the mounted method affords the same level of detail as the dismounted method
  • The nature of the reconnaissance objective allows vehicles to approach
  • Enemy location is known

Aerial Reconnaissance

Aerial reconnaissance is to be conducted as a joint operation between SOLS and Op Spt Det. Pathfinders can either ride in the helicopter taking direct control of the sensor equipment or use a remote connection tablet to observe from a safe distance. Considerations for employing aerial reconnaissance include:

  • Time is extremely limited or information is required quickly
  • Ground reconnaissance elements are not available
  • The objective is at an extended range
  • Verifying a target
  • Enemy locations are known and extremely dangerous to ground assets or are vague but identified as high risk to ground assets
  • Terrain is complex and weather conditions are favourable

Methods of Movement

Reconnaissance teams will face circumstances where they have to maintain stealth or reconnoiter a large region in a short amount of time. In order to help accomplish this the reconnaissance team can be broken down into reconnaissance elements to be tasked separately. An element should be no smaller than a buddy pair meaning a single reconnaissance team will have either two or three reconnaissance elements.

Objective Rally Points

Objective Rally Points (ORPs) are locations selected by the reconnaissance team leader to dismount vehicles and initiate reconnaissance objectives within the zone/area. Objective Rally Points should be locations that:

  • Provide full cover/concealment for the vehicles of the reconnaissance team
  • Should not have nearby obstacles that would trap vehicles or team members in the ORP
  • Is not along major roadways or highly trafficked trails
  • Is not in an area the enemy would want to occupy
  • Is not silhouetted against the skyline or a contrasting background


The reconnaissance team leader selects an ORP in the zone/area to be reconnoitered. When the team arrives at the ORP, it halts and establishes security. The team leader then selects reconnaissance routes to and from the ORP. The routes form a fan-shaped pattern around the ORP. The routes must overlap to ensure that the team reconnoiters the entire area.

Once the routes are selected, the team leader sends out reconnaissance elements. Reconnaissance elements should follow adjacent routes to keep from making contact in two different directions.

Converging Routes

The team leader selects an ORP, reconnaissance routes through the zone/area, and then a linkup point. Reconnaissance elements are then sent out on each route. The team leader and medic normally move as the center element to have better access to all reconnaissance elements should one come into contact. After reconnoitering their assigned routes, the reconnaissance elements rejoin each other at the linkup point at a predetermined time.

Traveling Overwatch

Traveling overwatch is used when contact is possible but speed is desirable. The lead element moves continuously along covered and concealed routes that afford the best available protection from possible enemy observation and direct fire. The trail element moves at variable speeds, providing continuous overwatch.

The trail element must stay close enough to provide immediate suppressive fire and to maneuver for support while remaining far enough to the rear to avoid contact in case the lead element is engaged by an enemy force. This distance is determined by the weapons of the trailing element and the terrain the reconnaissance team is moving through.

Evasion and Security

Observation Posts

Observation Posts (OPs) are static positions used to collect intelligence on a specific location for extended periods of time. Care must go into the establishment of OPs to ensure the safety of the reconnaissance team.

Selecting an OP site

The reconnaissance team leader is in charge of selecting OP sites to complete the team's objective. OPs should have the following characteristics:

  • Covered and concealed routes to and from the OP. Pathfinders must be able to enter and leave their OP without being seen by the enemy.
  • Unobstructed observation of the sector assigned by the team leader. Ideally, the fields of observation of adjacent OPs overlap to ensure full coverage of the sector.
  • Effective cover and concealment. Pathfinders select positions with cover and concealment to reduce their vulnerability on the battlefield. Pathfinders may need to pass up a position with favorable observation capability but with no cover and concealment to select a position that affords better survivability.
  • A location that will not attract attention. OPs should not be sited in such locations as a water tower, an isolated grove of trees, or a lone building or tree; these positions draw enemy attention.
  • A location that does not skyline the observers. Avoid hilltops. Position OPs further down the slope of the hill or on the side, provided there are covered and concealed routes into and out of the position.

Manning the OP

A recon element can operate an OP if the team has other objectives. One pathfinder observes the area while the other one or two provides local security, records information, and sends reports to the team leader or tasking element. The two pathfinders can switch jobs at their own discretion in order to avoid stagnation/boredom and decreased observation effectiveness.

Entrenching Tools should be used to create concealment and cover from indirect and small arms fire. Claymores and tripwire flares should be set up on likely avenues of enemy approach to provide early warning systems and a method of slowing down overwhelming enemy contact. Claymores are most effective when placed elevated off of the ground on steps, logs, or rocks.


Terrain offers natural concealment from enemy observation and cover from enemy fire. Pathfinders must make maximum use of this natural protection to survive and accomplish their mission; avoiding enemy detection is the key. Cover should be used whenever possible. When no cover is available, however, pathfinders should use the concealment offered by trees, shadows, brush, and man-made structures.

Recognition Factors


Colour contrast can be important, particularly at close ranges and in homogeneous background environments such as snow or desert terrain. The longer the range, the less important color becomes. At very long ranges, all colors tend to merge into a uniform tone. Also, the human eye cannot discriminate color in poor light.


Natural background is random, while most military vehicles and equipment have regular features with hard, angular lines. Even an erected camouflage net takes on a shape with straight-line edges or smooth curves between support points. This contrast draws attention so steps should be taken to minimize the amount of equipment that will be visible. The human figure is also very recognizable. Pathfinders should take steps to expose as little of themselves as possible using cover and concealment.


A cast shadow is a silhouette of an object projected against its background. It can be highly conspicuous and in desert environments, a shadow cast by a target can be more recognizable than the target itself.


Movement always attracts attention against a stationary background. Slow, regular movement is usually less obvious than fast, erratic movement.


Noise and acoustic signatures produced by military activities and equipment are recognizable to the enemy. Reconnaissance teams should take steps to minimize the sounds they produce. Keeping radios off of speaker mode, speaking in low volumes when required, and use of sound suppressor muzzle attachments are all such examples.


A rough surface appears darker than a smooth surface, even if both surfaces are the same color. For example, vehicle tracks change the texture of the ground by leaving clearly visible track marks. This is particularly true in undisturbed or homogeneous environments, such as a desert or snow, where vehicle tracks are highly detectable. In extreme cases, the texture of glass or other very smooth surfaces causes a shine that acts as a beacon. Under normal conditions, very smooth surfaces stand out from the background.


The human eye is adept at recognizing regular patterns. Breaking up movement and groupings to be more scattered and random will decrease the likelihood of being detected.


Vehicles provide reconnaissance teams with increased mobility and protection; however, they are much more detectable by the enemy than a dismounted pathfinder. This makes them generally less effective at gathering detailed information.

Vehicles will generally be left in full cover at ORPs. However, if they are driven up to an OP there are two main ways they should be stowed.

Hide Position:

The vehicle is positioned so that no part is exposed to the front. A dismounted observer must maintain visual contact with the assigned sector. This position is used when enemy engagement is not imminent and stealth is desired or when a vehicle is moving to avoid direct fire from an undetected enemy.

Hull-Down Position: The vehicle is positioned so that only the turret is exposed to the front. This position allows the use of vehicle optics and armaments while still protecting the vehicle. If the vehicle is well positioned in natural/terrain concealment, this position can still offer good stealth.

Danger Areas

A Danger Area is a likely point of enemy contact due to the cover, concealment, and observation these sites afford to the enemy. Pathfinders should employ specific movement techniques to move through them quickly with maximum security.

Open Areas

Open areas afford pathfinders the opportunity to observe the enemy from long ranges. They also often require the reconnaissance team to be exposed to possible enemy observation and fire for long periods of movement. Steps should be taken to limit the probability of the entire team being engaged when crossing an open area.

  • Before stepping off, the reconnaissance team should make a thorough visual scan of the area
Focus on potential enemy positions
Look for most covered and concealed routes to move through the area
  • Utilize bounding overwatch to move across the open area
If the leading element is unable to find sufficient cover before reaching half the effective range of the trailing elements weapons, the team should begin a traveling overwatch
  • If the reconnaissance team is engaged, indirect fire support can be used for cover to reposition

Wooded Areas

Wooded Areas provide a high degree of concealment to forces that occupy them, particularly infantry. Visibility within wooded areas is very limited and mounted pathfinders are extremely vulnerable to dismounted enemy forces that can close on them while remaining very concealed. Steps should be taken to minimize the risk of being ambushed.

  • The wooded area should be observed for movement, reflections, smoke, and any irregular shapes or colors to indicate the presence of enemy forces before entering
  • Traveling overwatch should be used when moving through the wooded areas
  • 360-degree monitoring should be maintained even while moving
  • While traveling in vehicles:
Vehicle halts should be kept to a minimum
All occupants should be “turned-in” to protect against ambushes and close-in snipers
Buildings and clearings should be treated as separate danger areas within the wooded area
  • Before leaving the area pathfinders should stop, dismount from any vehicles, and observe the terrain they will be entering from the tree line

Built-Up Areas

Built-up areas, including towns and villages, pose many potential dangers for the reconnaissance team. Troops can be garrisoned in villages, snipers can cover approaches, and buildings or roads can be mined. Cover and concealment are abundant and it is easy for the enemy to remain undetected until they are at very close range. Steps should be taken to limit the danger experienced by pathfinders reconnoitering built-up areas.

  • Whenever possible, reconnaissance teams should observe built-up areas from a distance
  • Multiple OPs from varying directions should be used to observe the built-up area
  • If the built-up area cannot be bypassed, the team should use a traveling overwatch while moving through it

Pathfinders should remember that Danger Areas work both ways. When performing guards and screens, take Danger Areas into consideration on how to maximize effectiveness at engaging enemy forces.

Dealing With Contact

Reconnaissance teams should generally not be in direct combat. When engaged by enemy forces, the reconnaissance team should attempt to break contact and bypass the enemy force to continue with the assigned objective.

While Moving

While the entire team is moving, there is more condensed fire power to contest the oncoming enemy forces than individual elements.

  • A standard bounding overwatch should be used
  • Smoke grenades should be employed to break enemy line of sight
  • Continue bounding until you successfully break contact or reach an ORP

Reconnaissance Elements

If a reconnaissance element operating away from the team is engaged by enemy forces, they will be severely outmatched.

  • Smoke grenades should be immediately thrown to break enemy line of sight
  • The element should begin bounding with very short intervals
  • As soon as line of sight has been broken, the element should change direction of movement to try and avoid their pursuers
  • After successfully breaking contact the element should attempt to make contact with the other reconnaissance elements and move to a designated Rendezvous Point (RP) or regroup with the other elements.

From OPs

If the team or an element is engaged from an OP, defensive measures like the claymore should have been deployed. These are to be detonated and the team or element is to proceed with one of the previous methods of withdrawing.

At the ORP

Upon reaching an ORP the reconnaissance team leader will decide whether to stage a hasty defense of the position or mount up in the stowed vehicles and attempt to reposition. In either case the reconnaissance team leader is to relay their intentions to any tasking elements over the radio.

Observation Techniques

Observation is how intelligence is gathered by reconnaissance teams. When observing objectives, Pathfinders should record detailed information on the objective. The information to be recorded can be remembered by the acronym SALUTE.


SIZE section, platoon, regiment, etc.
ACTIVITY garrison, patrol, convoy, etc.
LOCATION grid, reference landmark, etc.
UNIT Taliban insurgent, Russian spetsnaz, etc.
TIME OBSERVED 0900, 1730, etc.
EQUIPMENT weapons, armor, etc.


SALUTE Reports are standardized communications for relaying intelligence that has been gathered by a reconnaissance team. It is an eight line radio communication in the order of SALUTE ending with the position of the observer and the intention of the observer after the reconnaissance handover is completed.

An expedited SALUTE report can be issued when handovers must be completed quickly. An expedited SALUTE report excludes time observed, observer position, and observer intentions.

Reconnaissance by Fire

In reconnaissance by fire, the reconnaissance team places direct or indirect fire on positions where there is a reasonable suspicion of enemy occupation. The goal is to cause the enemy to react by moving or returning fire and disclose their disposition or willingness to fight. Things to note about reconnaissance by fire include:

  • Can be used to flush out hidden enemies when entering possible ambush locations
  • Use of direct and indirect fire support sacrifices any element of surprise SOCOMD may have
  • Disciplined and well entrenched forces may not react to incoming fire
  • Should be used sparingly

Unmanned Systems

This is a placeholder. Drones are not currently implemented.

Reconnoitre of Enemy Assets

The primary goal of reconnaissance teams is to locate and collect intelligence on enemy assets. A pathfinder should be able to record and convey this information in varying ways.

cTab GPS

Placing markers on the cTab GPS allows for quick and clean conveyal of information collected by pathfinders. Utilizing standard NATO symbology provided in the functionality is the quickest way to share information obtained from reconnaissance missions with all other SOCOMD assets.

In rapid reconnaissance, pathfinders can use nearby landmarks to approximate the location of targets on the cTab GPS. During deliberate reconnaissance they can spend more time to increase accuracy. Process for accurately placing marks on cTab:

  • Observe target
  • Use magnified optic or range finder to determine range
  • Use compass or cTab GPS to determine bearing to target
  • Use collected information to precisely place mark on cTab GPS


When a pathfinder records information on their map, it should be done in the group channel so as to not clutter the map for other SOCOMD assets. The process for placing marks on a map is the same as the cTab GPS. The main difference is notes can be written around the mark or in the margins of the map so that pathfinders can provide greater detail or explanations if asked by their tasking element.

Notepad and Pencil

A notepad and pencil can be used for note keeping instead of writing in the margins of the map.

Target Threat and Priority

When performing reconnaissance, pathfinders should assign a threat level to enemy assets they observe. These threat levels are low, moderate, and high. Throughout an operation, SOCOMD leadership elements can assign a notification level. This notification level will dictate if and when unrequested intelligence is relayed over radio networks.

Threat Level

Target threat is an approximation of the danger it poses to concerned elements. The following table describes examples of unit threat levels compared to the SOCOMD elements they threaten.

Threat Level Infantry Armoured Air
Low Infantry Patrol Technical MANPAD
Moderate DShK SPG-9 ZU-23
High SOF T-72 Tunguska

Notification Level

The notification level is divided into network activity and threat level.

Notification Level
Network Activity Threat Level
Hold Only relay on request Low Relay low level threats
Clear Radio traffic must be clear Moderate Relay moderate level threats
Interrupt Radio traffic can be interrupted High Relary high level threats

If a notification level is not specified, pathfinders are to operate on Hold High. This means they would only relay intelligence on high threats if a threat warning is requested by leadership elements. While all reconnaissance outcomes should be recorded on the cTab GPS, transmitting information over the radio is based on threat levels and specific tasking requests described in section 1.3.

Threat Warning

Threat warnings should be delivered as expedited SALUTE reports. A pathfinder may choose to include time observed if significant time has passed between observation and issuing the threat warning. Under Hold notification levels, pathfinders address threat warnings to the requesting element. Under Clear and Interrupt notification levels, pathfinders address threat warnings to all stations.

Reconnaissance Team Composition and Assets

A reconnaissance team consists of 4-6 members. This includes a SECCO, 2IC, Medic, and Sapper with two flex slots for extra support attachments. Pathfinders will use standard 2CDO equipment loadouts and retrieve any extra reconnaissance assets from a recon supply crate.

Magnified Optics

The primary tool of a pathfinder is magnified optics. These will allow the pathfinder to observe and collect intelligence from a safe distance.


With a magnification of up to 25x and low light capabilities, the rangefinder is a handheld magnified optic that will allow Pathfinders to accurately place marks when performing recon.

Spotting Scope

The spotting scope is a tripod mounted static optic that should only be employed from observation posts. This optic has a magnification of up to 35x making it more effective than the rangefinder at observing distant targets in great detail but does not possess low light capabilities.

Global Positioning System

Pathfinders will be utilizing the cTab Android GPS to mark the location of enemy assets. With the GPS open, double left-clicking on the map will initialize the mark and left clicking on options in the drop down menu will complete the mark.


Explosive Charges

Sappers will use the standard demolition blocks and charge assemblies to destroy enemy assets in sabotage operations.


An anti-personnel explosive device employed to defend observation posts. The device has a kill zone in the shape of a 60 degree cone extending 50 meters from the front of the claymore. When firing the calmore, the operator should not be within 16 meters of the device from the rear and sides.

Tripwire Flare

Tripwire device that launches a visible-spectrum flare upon activation. Used as an early warning system for pathfinders occupying an observation post.


Special Operations Vehicle

The SOV-SR is a long range patrol vehicle with an MMG mount at the front of the vehicle and a heavy weapon turret. Of the recce vehicles available to pathfinders this is the largest and most capable in enemy engagements.

Utility Task Vehicle

The Polaris DAGOR is a lightweight reconnaissance vehicle large enough for an entire Pathfinder team. Smaller than the SOV, it is easier to conceal at ORPs. <What armaments will we get?>

All Terrain Vehicle

Both 6x6 and 4x4 ATVs are available. 6x6 ATVs can only accommodate one person per vehicle while 4x4 ATVs can seat up to three. For this reason 4x4s are more likely to be used by reconnaissance teams to fit at least one buddy pair per vehicle.