--Platoon Movement Techniques


2-118. The platoon leader determines and directs which movement technique the platoon uses. While moving, leaders typically separate their unit into two groups: a security element and main body. In most scenarios, the Infantry platoon and squad are not large enough to separate its forces into separate security forces and main body forces. However, it is able to accomplish these security functions by employing movement techniques. A movement technique is the manner a platoon uses to traverse terrain

2-119. As the probability of enemy contact increases, the platoon leader adjusts the movement technique to provide greater security. The essential factor to consider is the trail unit’s ability to provide mutual support to the lead element. Soldiers must be able to see their fire team leader. The squad leader must be able to see his fire team leaders. The platoon leader should be able to see his lead squad leader.


2-120. The platoons often use the traveling technique when contact is unlikely and speed is needed. (See figure 2-28.) When using the traveling technique, all unit elements move continuously. In continuous movement, all Soldiers travel at a moderate rate of speed, with all personnel alert. During traveling, formations are essentially not altered except for effects of terrain

Platoon traveling

Figure 2-28. Platoon traveling.


2-121. Traveling overwatch is an extended form of traveling in which the lead element moves continuously but trailing elements move at varying speeds, sometimes pausing to overwatch movement of the lead element. (See figure 2-29.) Traveling overwatch is used when enemy contact is possible but not expected. Caution is justified but speed is desirable

2-122. The trail element maintains dispersion based on its ability to provide immediate suppressive fires in support of the lead element. The intent is to maintain in-depth, provide flexibility, and sustain movement in case the lead element is engaged. The trailing elements cue their movement to the terrain, overwatching from a position where they can support the lead element if needed. Trailing elements overwatch from positions and at distances that do not prevent them from firing or moving to support the lead element. The idea is to put enough distance between the lead units and trail units so that if the lead unit comes into contact, the trail units will be out of contact but have the ability to maneuver on the enemy.

2-123. Traveling overwatch requires the leader to control his subordinate’s spacing to ensure mutual support. This involves a constant process of concentrating (close it up) and dispersion (spread it out). The primary factor is mutual support, with its two critical variables being weapon ranges and terrain. Infantry platoons’ and squads’ weapon range limitations dictate units generally should not get separated by more than 300 meters. In compartmentalized terrain this distance is closer, but in open terrain this distance is greater.

Platoon traveling overwatch

Figure 2-29. Platoon traveling overwatch.


2-124. Bounding overwatch is similar to fire and movement in which one unit overwatches the movement of another. (See figure 2-30.) The difference is there is no actual enemy contact. Bounding overwatch is used when the leader expects contact. The key to this technique is the proper use of terrain.

Platoon bounding overwatch

Figure 2-30. Platoon bounding overwatch

One Squad Bounding

2-125. One squad bounds forward to a chosen position; it then becomes the overwatching element unless contact is made en route. The bounding squad can use traveling overwatch, bounding overwatch (low and high crawl, and three- to five-second rushes by the fire team or buddy teams).

2-126. METT-TC dictates the length of the bounds. However, the bounding squads never should move beyond the range at which the base-of-fire squads can suppress known, likely, or suspected enemy positions. In severely restrictive terrain, the bounding squad’s makes shorter bounds than it would in more open areas. The destination of the bounding element is based on the suitability of the next location as an overwatch position. When deciding where to send his bounding squad, a platoon leader considers—

  • The requirements of the mission.
  • Where the enemy is likely to be.
  • The routes to the next overwatch position.
  • The ability of an overwatching element’s weapons to cover the bound.
  • The responsiveness of the rest of the platoon.

One Squad Overwatching

2-127. One squad overwatches the bounding squad from covered positions and from where it can see and suppress likely enemy positions. The platoon leader remains with the overwatching squad. Normally, the platoon’s medium machine guns are located with the overwatching squad.

One Squad Awaiting Orders

2-128. Based on the situation, one squad is uncommitted and ready for employment as directed by the platoon leader. The platoon sergeant and leader of the squad awaiting orders position themselves close to the platoon leader. On contact, this unit should be prepared to support the overwatching element, move to assist the bounding squad, or move to another location based on the platoon leader’s assessment.

Weapons Squad

2-129. Medium machine guns normally are employed in one of two ways ─

  • Attached to the overwatch squad or the weapons squad supporting the overwatching element.
  • Awaiting orders to move (with the platoon sergeant) or as part of a bounding element.

Mission Command of the Bounding Element

2-130. Ideally, the overwatch element maintains visual contact with the bounding element. However, the leader of the overwatch element may have the ability to digitally track the location of the bounding element without maintaining visual contact. This provides the bounding element further freedom in selecting covered and concealed routes to its next location. Before a bound, the platoon leader gives an order to his squad leaders from the overwatch position. (See figure 2-31.) He tells and shows them the following─

  • The direction or location of the enemy (if known).
  • The positions of the overwatching squad.
  • The next overwatch position.
  • The route of the bounding squad.
  • What to do after the bounding squad reaches the next position.
  • What signal the bounding squad will use to announce it is prepared to overwatch.
  • How the squad will receive its next orders.
Example of platoon leader order for bounding overwatch

Figure 2-31. Example of platoon leader order for bounding overwatch

Edited by MAJ J.LaFlash