Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (United States) - The Reconnaissance Squadron

The Reconnaissance Squadron

As part of the Army-wide transfer to brigade units of action, some brigades are transitioning to the infantry brigade combat team (IBCT), others are transforming to heavy brigade combat teams (HBCT), while other brigades are becoming Stryker brigade combat teams(SBCT). In each of the three types of brigades there is a reconnaissance squadron which performs reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition or RSTA. Many elite long range reconnaissance detachments (LRSD) of the Vietnam era were disbanded and their combat role was transitioned to the infantry companies within the RSTA squadrons.

Modern reconnaissance squadrons within infantry brigade combat teams are combined arms forces of mounted and dismounted scouts (19D). This allows for added capabilities, speed and equipment never before found within an LRSD. the reconnaissance squadron is composed of a squadron headquarters, a headquarters troop, two recce troops, a dismounted infantry scout company (often containing the regimental/brigade reconnaissance team and brigade/regimental sniper section), and a forward supply support troop. Some squadrons may have an additional support troop consisting of a UAV platoon, a Zodiac boat section, and additional signal and maintenance assets that, while organic to the squadron's TOE, have unique capabilities requiring them to exist outside the HHT troop. For example, a support troop may include a UAV platoon, its associated maintenance, a boat section, a USAF satellite communications detachment, a HUMINT analysis team and interpreters. Typically, support troops contain mechanics, truck drivers, and other 'low density' combat service support troops.

The infantry companies within the reconnaissance squadron have specially trained and designated infantrymen serving as snipers, scouts (long range reconnaissance personnel) and mortarmen. Communications and Intelligence personnel are also attached due to the sensitive enemy information gathered. Scouts may perform specialized tasks such as pathfinders, scout swimmers, coxswains, fast rope masters, air liaison, etc. These specialized units are capable of waterborne, air assault, and vehicle insertions. Organic vehicles to the units include un-armored HMMWV's and may include small offroad vehicles. These infantry companies typically perform long range movements to conduct reconnaissance tasks with very limited combat support and resupply. The infantry company within a reconnaissance squadron is not a traditional 19D cavalry unit. it does not perform traditional mounted cavalry operations, instead it performs RSTA on foot, again with a limited resupply and combat support element.

Within heavy brigade combat teams (HBCT), the cavalry squadron is structured as an armored reconnaissance squadron (ARS). Each ARS has one headquarters and headquarters troop (HHT) and three line troops. The line troops are equipped with M3 series Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles and various types of Humvees.

The reconnaissance squadron is completely different from the armored cavalry formations of the cold war with massive armored and BFV units intended to engage massive armored threats. FM's are still being written on the doctrine. Many soldiers are scrambling to understand the new concepts of combined arms and the reconnaissance squadron. The criticisms of the IBCT RSTA include a lack of dismount capability in the mounted troops and an organizational framework that makes a poor compromise between stealth and economy of force, producing elements too heavy to conduct the traditional LRSD mission, but too weak to conduct the traditional cavalry mission.

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