--Navigational Aids


5-31. There are two categories of navigational aids: linear; and point. Linear navigational aids are terrain features such as trails, streams, ridgelines, wood lines, power lines, streets, and contour lines. Point terrain features include hilltops, and prominent buildings. Navigation aids usually are assigned control measures to facilitate communication during the movement. Typically, linear features are labeled as phase lines while point features are labeled as checkpoints (or rally points). There are three primary categories of navigation aids: catching features; handrails; and navigational attack points.


5-32. Catching features are obvious terrain features which go beyond a waypoint or control measure and can be either linear or point. The general idea is if the unit moves past its objective, LOA, or checkpoint the catching feature will alert it that it has traveled too far.

The Offset-Compass Method

5-33. If there is the possibility of missing a particular point along the route (such as the endpoint or a navigational attack point), it is sometimes preferable to deliberately aim the leg to the left or right of the end point toward a prominent catching feature. Once reached, the unit simply turns the appropriate direction and moves to the desired endpoint. This method is especially helpful when the catching feature is linear.

Boxing-In the Route

5-34. One of the techniques leaders can use to prevent themselves from making navigational errors is to “box in” the leg or the entire route. This method uses catching features, handrails, and navigational attack points to form boundaries. Creating a box around the leg or route assists in easily recognizing and correcting deviation from the planned leg or route.


5-35. Handrails are linear features parallel to the proposed route. The general idea is to use the handrail to keep the unit oriented in the right direction. Guiding off of a handrail can increase the unit’s speed while also acting as a catching feature.


5-36. Navigational attack points are an obvious landmark near the objective, LOA, or checkpoint that can be found easily. Upon arriving at the navigational attack point, the unit transitions from rough navigation (terrain association or general azimuth navigation) to point navigation (dead reckoning). Navigational attack points typically are labeled as checkpoints.