--Types of Navigation


5-41. There are three types of navigation: terrain association, general azimuth method, and point navigation. Leaders use whichever type or combination best suits the situation.


5-42. Terrain association is the ability to identify terrain features on the ground by the contour intervals depicted on the map. The leader analyzes the terrain using the factors of OAKOC, and identifies major terrain features, contour changes, and man-made structures along his axis of advance. As the unit moves, he uses these features to orient the unit and to associate ground positions with map locations. The major advantage of terrain association is it forces the leader to continually assess the terrain. This leads to identifying tactically-advantageous terrain and using terrain to the unit’s advantage.


5-43. For this method, the leader selects linear terrain features; then while maintaining map orientation and a general azimuth, he guides on the terrain feature. An advantage the general azimuth method has is it speeds movement, avoids fatigue, and often simplifies navigation because the unit follows the terrain feature. The disadvantage is it usually puts the unit on a natural line of drift. This method should end like terrain association, with the unit reaching a catching feature or a navigational attack point, then switching to point navigation.


5-44. Point navigation, also called dead reckoning, is done by starting from a known point and strictly following a predetermined azimuth and distance. This form of navigation requires a high level of leader control because even a slight deviation over the course of a movement can cause navigation errors. This method uses the dismounted compass and a distance from the pace man (or a vehicle’s odometer when mounted) to follow a prescribed route. Point navigation requires the leader to follow these steps─

  • Use the compass to maintain direction.
  • Use the pace man’s pace or a vehicle odometer to measure the distance traveled for each leg or part.
  • Review the written description of the route plan to help prevent navigational errors.

Note. Do not take compass reading from inside vehicles. Move away from vehicles when using lensatic compass.

5-45. When performed correctly, point navigation is very reliable, but time-consuming. It is best used when the need for navigational accuracy outweighs the importance of using terrain. Point navigation is particularly useful when recognizable terrain features do not exist or are too far away to be helpful. For example, deserts, swamps, and thick forest make terrain association difficult. Using point navigation early on in a long movement can stress the compass man and it may be advisable to switch him. One of the problems with point navigation is negotiating severely restrictive terrain or danger areas.


5-46. Leaders can benefit from combining the three types of navigation. Terrain association and general azimuth method enable leaders to set a rough compass bearing and move as quickly as the situation allows toward a catching feature or a navigational attack point. Once reached, leaders switch to point navigation by paying close attention to detail, taking as much time as necessary to analyze the situation and find their point. Terrain association and general azimuth method allow for some flexibility in the movement, and do not require the same level of control as point navigation. Point navigation, on the other hand, enables leaders to precisely locate their objective or point.

Mounted Land Navigation

5-47. The principles of land navigation while mounted are basically the same as while dismounted. The major difference is the speed of travel. To be effective at mounted land navigation, the travel speed must be considered. When preparing to move, the effects of terrain on navigating mounted vehicles must be determined. You will cover great distances very quickly, and you must develop the ability to estimate the distance you have traveled. Using the odometer on the vehicle can assists with distance traveled but can be misleading on a map due to turns and going up and down hills for instance. Having a mobility advantage helps while navigating. Mobility makes it much easier if you get disoriented to move to a point where you can reorient yourself. When determining a route to be used when mounted, consider the capabilities of the vehicles to be used. Most military vehicles are limited in the degree of slope they can climb and the type of terrain they can negotiate. Swamps, thickly wooded areas, or deep streams may present no problems to dismounted soldiers, but the same terrain may completely stop mounted soldiers.

Stabilized Turret Alignment Navigation

5-48. Another method, if you have a vehicle with a stabilized turret, is to align the turret on the azimuth you wish to travel, then switch the turret stabilization system on. The gun tube remains pointed at your destination no matter which way you turn the vehicle. This technique has been proven; it works. It is not harmful to the stabilization system. It is subject to stabilization drift, so use it for no more than 5000 meters before resetting.