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Special reconnaissance (SR) is defined as reconnaissance and surveillance actions conducted by Special Forces (SF) to obtain or verify, by visual observation or other collection methods, information concerning the capabilities, intentions, and activities of an actual or potential enemy or to secure data concerning the meteorologic, hydrographic, geographic, or demographic characteristics of a particular area. It includes target acquisition, area assessment, and poststrike reconnaissance.
Field manual (FM) 31-20-5 provides the doctrinal basis for the conduct of SR missions across the operational continuum. It is a continuation of the doctrinal education process that begins with Joint Publication 3-05.5 and FMs 100-25 and 31-20. This manual provides information and guidance to SF commanders, staffs, and operational personnel at battalion and lower echelons (Special Forces operational detachments [SFODs] C, B, and A) in their conduct of SR. It is a general guide and does not eliminate the requirement for well-written, practiced, and mission-essential task list (METL)-driven standing operating procedures (SOPs).
It is designed to expand on and be supported by FM 31-20-1, Special Forces Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (to be published). It was written under the assumption that the user understands these basic fundamentals. However, it expands on this basic information by providing a number of historical examples to highlight key points throughout the text as well as advanced tactics, techniques, procedures, and references to support future SF operations. Users of this FM should adapt its contents to meet the situation and knowledge and skill levels of the SFOD to be employed through the mission, enemy, terrain, troops, and time available (METT-T) analysis system.
The chapters provide general SR mission procedures and information. This information is ordered chronologically from receipt of the unit mission letter through postmission activities. Figure P-1 shows the applicability of each chapter to the differing unit levels. Examples of specific SR techniques and procedures are provided in the appendixes. The order of the appendixes follows the order they appear in the text. This organization permits the user of this FM to review the basics of SR mission performance from beginning to end without becoming embroiled in a mass of detail with which the user may be thoroughly familiar. For those users only interested in the details of specific techniques, the appendixes provide reference material keyed to the generic activities in the text.
Commanders and trainers should use this and other related manuals in conjunction with command guidance, the Army Training and Evaluation Program (ARTEP), and the Mission Training Program to plan and conduct mission-specific training. Planning SR-related training prior to being employed with a specific SR mission is the key to assuring success.
The provisions of this publication are the subject of the international agreements listed in the references in the back of this book. There are numerous acronyms, abbreviations, and terms found within this manual. Users should refer to the Glossary section at the back of the manual for their meanings or definitions.
The proponent of this publication is the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS), Fort Bragg, NC. Reviewers and users of this manual should submit comments and recommended changes on DA Form 2028 to Commander, USAJFKSWCS, ATTN: AOJK-DT-DM, Fort Bragg, NC 28307-5000.
Unless otherwise stated, whenever the masculine gender is used, both men and women are included.
[Figure P-1: User Applicability Guide]