Ospery, the bird of the Selous Scouts.Selous Scouts "Pamwe Chete" title block.Ospery, the bird of the Selous Scouts.






























Types of Operations



  1. The aim of this chapter is to give guidance on the tactics and techniques to be used by military forces when conducting operations in rural areas against an enemy employing unconventional methods and tactics.
  2. Once a unit has been mobilized and committed to its operational area and responsibilities, the commander of such a unit will find, on arrival, that he is required to:
    1. Provide for the security of his own base.
    2. Guard key installation's.
    3. When legally authorized, ensure control of the local population, perhaps by curfews, checkpoints, patrols, etc.
    4. Provide protection for movement of all kinds.
    5. Conduct area operations.
    6. Maintain a reserve to meet minor contingencies throughout his area and also possibly to react to the requirements of another force, operation or headquarters.
  3. The commander's appreciation will establish the priorities for the above tasks should it not be possible to conduct them simultaneously. It is most important that a reverse not be inflicted on the military forces soon after their arrival, not only because of the serious effect it would have on civilian morale, but also on the unit's morale.
  4. The desire to do everything at once with minimum resources must be balanced against the risk of defeat. The problem for the military force commander will be to decide what proportion of his resources he can afford to allot to the various tasks confronting him. He must decide his priority tasks and allocate his forces accordingly although, as operations develop, he will need to revise his priorities.
  5. It should be remembered that the enemy will seldom present a static target. Consequently the commander, in his planning, must not expect to conduct operations against fixed objectives. Bearing in mind the enemy's characteristics, he must be flexible enough to cater for all situations.
  6. The four main requirements for success are:
    1. Encounter actions. The absolute necessity for the adoption of the actions set out in Chapter 6. Experience shows they ensure maximum success against terrorists in contacts or incidents and, equally as important, they save casualties.
    2. Snap shooting. The vital importance of accurate and quick shooting from all positions and all types of cover.
    3. Offensive action. The need for immediate offensive action, both in planning at all levels and also in tactical engagements.
    4. Discipline. The necessity in operations of discipline and all that it stands for. Terrorists will avoid action with disciplined troops but they can expect a measure of success against troops whose discipline is poor.



  1. Aim. The aim of border control operations or counter-penetration operations is to make the border as secure as possible, thereby preventing enemy groups from crossing; or preventing supplies or reinforcements from crossing to support enemy groups that may have succeeded in crossing.
  2. It is a known fact that part of the enemy's tactics and characteristics is to establish safe bases in neighboring countries from which they can launch their attacks across the border and to which they can return should the pressure applied against them by the military forces be too great. The very success of their operations is dependent upon these safe bases.
  3. The enemy has no respect for international boundaries and is able to cross the boundary, whether it be an imaginary line through the bush, a river, a rugged bit of coastline or even a fence, at preselected crossing places.
  4. There are thousands of kilometers of border which may have to be protected. Because of these vast distances, it will be impossible to cover every meter with troops. Bearing this in mind and making maximum efficient use of the manpower which is available, a very well-thought-out plan, Organization and system for border control must be determined and vigorously and effectively applied. In those areas where the enemy is more active, or where external support is more significant, higher priority of troop allocation should be given.

Factors Affecting Success

  1. Factors affecting the success of this type of operation are as follows:
    1. Cooperation with the local inhabitants and also the local government administrative organizations.
    2. Maximum use of informers, particularly on the other side of the border. These informers are normally controlled by the security police and/or military forces.
    3. Flexibility in the planning and execution of all operations.
    4. Security.
    5. Cooperation between all participating forces, i.e., military and police.
    6. A high standard of training, patrolling and physical fitness.
    7. The entire operation must have depth to it, therefore making it more difficult for the enemy to penetrate.
    8. Ability to be unorthodox and original in the planning and execution of operations. Avoid being stereotyped.
    9. Well organized and flexible logistical support.
    10. Simplicity in planning and economical use of manpower.
    11. A readily available reserve to be deployed either by air, road or on foot to assist wherever and whenever required.

Patterns of Operations

  1. The following factors will determine the allocation of tasks and responsibilities:
    1. Nature of terrain.
    2. Extent of border.
    3. Enemy threat and activity.
    4. External support to the enemy.
    5. Availability of forces.
    6. Local population.
  2. Areas are divided into unit and sub-unit areas of tactical responsibility. Boundaries between these areas must be well defined with no gaps. These boundaries must be changed from time to time to prevent the enemy from discovering the border protection plan. Troop density in these areas will be determined by enemy activity.
  3. Headquarters. The main headquarters for such an operation will be located at a position from which effective command and control can be exercised and where all the necessary communication requirements exist, i.e., airfield, rail- and road head and communication centers, etc.
  4. Unit headquarters. This should be centrally situated in the unit's area of responsibility, preferably where good or reasonable communication facilities exist such as an airfield, a rail- or road head and helicopter landing facilities. They should also be located close to or at the local administrative/police post, should there be one in the area. The main requirements remain, however, effective command and control of all forces concerned, accessibility and good communications.
  5. Patrol bases and patrols. Permanent patrol bases should be established along the border and in depth. These bases can either be company or platoon bases. They should be so spaced and sited that patrols operating from them can effectively patrol the area, without having to cover long distances. These bases must be tactically sited and well protected against possible enemy attacks. Accessibility and natural water supplies must be considered when siting such bases. Patrolling from these bases can be done as follows:
    1. Border patrols. Strong, well-balanced patrols move on foot, their task or aim being to patrol the border to prevent penetration or to search for signs of recent enemy crossings and possible crossing places. They must be prepared to fight should they encounter any enemy. These patrols must have good communications with their bases and must be prepared to spend several days away from their bases. They must make contact with the local inhabitants in their areas in order to build up the confidence, cooperation and friendly relationship with the locals. This is vitally important because every local who is friendly towards the military forces is a potential informer who can or may be able to provide valuable information regarding the enemy. Although operating to a well-coordinated patrol program, these patrols must also be prepared to use their own initiative, e.g., to ambush possible crossing places which were not foreseen.
    2. Standing patrols. Should the availability of troops and the terrain allow it, a series of small standing patrols can be used to maintain observation during the day over possible crossing places, or stores, that may be sources of supplies for the enemy. During the hours of darkness, these standing patrols could become listening posts with the dual purpose of ambushing likely crossing places. These patrols should be provided with communications. They must operate with the utmost stealth and frequently change their positions to avoid detection. They must be prepared to spend several days away from their base. if possible, they should contact any friendly forces moving through their area.
    3. Motorized patrols. Should the terrain allow it, or should there be reasonable roads or tracks in the area, motorized patrols could be used. Use can be made of normal battalion, company, and platoon transport or armored cars. This type of patrol will normally not be very successful but it does serve as a deterrent and does afford the local commander and military forces the opportunity of visiting settlements in the area, therefore maintaining contact and building up good relation- ships. With this type of patrol, regular routes and timings must be avoided because of the possibility of enemy ambushes. It is also a means whereby a commander can make contact with his foot patrols or standing patrols that may be operating some distance away from his patrol base.
    4. Patrols in depth. These patrols operate from bases sited in depth to the actual border patrol bases. Their task is to search for and destroy enemy elements or groups that may have succeeded in penetrating inland. They may react to information passed on to them by the border patrols or to indications they may have discovered as a result of their own vigorous patrol program, or to information passed on to them by higher headquarters, security police or local informers. These are strong, well-balanced patrols that may be assisted by special trackers, tracking teams, or dog teams, with good communications to the patrol base and ground-to-air, because they may frequently call for air support when contact with the enemy has been made. They must be aggressive and must be prepared to spend several days away from the patrol base and, should contact be made with the enemy, to maintain contact until the enemy is eliminated.
    5. The patrol program and pattern for the patrols operating in depth must be carefully coordinated and well planned. These patrols can either operate from a base line or natural features such as rivers, ridges, spurs, etc., patrolling laterally, forward and inward or radiating outward in all directions from a central point which is the patrol base.
    6. Whichever system is used, regular patterns, routes and timing must be avoided.
  6. Aids to border control. The physical protection of a long border with troops is not always possible because of the problem of manpower. There are, however, certain aids that could be considered:
    1. a. Aircraft patrols. These serve as a deterrent, and regular visual and photo reconnaissance of the border area could indicate the crossing of groups of terrorists.
    2. b. Boat patrols. When the border is defined by a river, boat patrols could be used in much the same way as motorized patrols.
    3. Sensory devices. Limited areas could be covered by using sensory devices, giving warning and approximate position of suspect movement in the area. d. Restricted areas. When possible, certain areas of the border could be cleared of local inhabitants (if any) and all presence in that well-defined area restricted to the military forces only. Routine checking out of the area may indicate enemy activities. These areas provide complete freedom of action by military forces, e.g., bombing, artillery engagements, and the erection of barriers including minefields, barbed wire and booby traps.


  1. Border control operations are long-term operations that require careful planning and coordination and the vigorous application of such plans. Invariably the border patrols are more of a deterrent than anything else, because it is normally the patrols in depth that physically get involved in action with the enemy; but the most effective measure for controlling the border is an active, well-planned patrol program executed by well-led, well-trained and well-armed patrols.



  1. A systematic approach is necessary to counter terrorists already established in an area. The territory should be divided into sectors and troops allocated according to requirements. Commanders of these sectors will be given their tasks in broad outline by the appropriate headquarters. Thereafter these commanders must determine their own objectives within their areas of tactical responsibility. They will be responsible for the planning and conduct of operations in these sectors, which implies that the decentralization of command is of utmost importance, allowing for greater flexibility. The aim should be to cover the area concerned with a framework of military organizations working in close cooperation with the civilian authorities.
  2. Aim of area operations. The basic aim of this type of operation is to eliminate terrorists. In its simplest form it means searching for a small band of enemy who might have infiltrated into an area, while it could also indicate operations against numerous groups, well established in the area, with a certain degree of control over the local population. in this case it will be necessary to neutralize the enemy's influence, destroy their presence, regain the local population's trust and support for the government and prevent the recurrence of enemy presence and influence.

Scope of Operations

  1. Depending on the degree of the enemy's progress in establishing himself, the aim of area operations will not be achieved overnight and will call for a progressive approach over a period of time, in the following pattern:
    1. Establish a military presence in the area, and gain information concerning the enemy, local population and terrain, etc.
    2. Ensure that key points, villages and lines of communication are protected against enemy interference.
    3. Conduct PSYOPS aimed at the local population and the enemy.
    4. Conduct operations against known enemy bases and areas in order to break his military potential.
    5. Search for and destroy the remainder of the enemy.
    6. Maintain permanent contact with the population and dominate the area until the civil administration can do without military support.
    7. Conduct operations in support of civil authorities (OSCA) as required.

Employment of Forces

  1. Area operations call for the employment of an infantry force capable of achieving its aim by making use of the necessary supporting arms and services. Armored fighting vehicles, artillery and engineers can all be used with great success in this type of operation. Air support is indispensable.
  2. Forces allocated to an area must be sufficient to achieve the aim of the operation. A high degree of mobility under all conditions, and flexibility in the planning and execution of operations will assist in attaining better results. The presence of a large enemy group will sometimes necessitate the use of additional troops, allocated by higher headquarters for this specific operation.

Area Allocation and Subdivision

  1. Deciding on or locating operational areas, or even sub-dividing a unit area, will always require an appreciation of the situation. The following paragraph includes the important factors to be considered in making this appreciation.
  2. Factors.
    1. a. Characteristics of the operational area.
      1. Terrain. Mobility, observation and concealment are more favorable to the terrorist, and the use of arms and services other than infantry is directly dictated by the type of terrain.
      2. Climatic conditions. The rainy season may restrict road movement considerably, and extreme temperatures will dictate the size of an area that can effectively be controlled by troops on foot.
      3. Communication network.
        1. Roads and railway lines are necessary for logistical support.
        2. Roads and tracks help in deploying troops and committing reserves quickly.
        3. Airfields determine supply bases and headquarter sites.
      4. Local resources. Availability of water, local purchase facilities, hospitals and clinics, accommodation and recreational facilities all have a bearing on allocating areas and siting of headquarters.
      5. Local population. The presence of the local population is one of the most important factors in this type of operation:
        1. The number of troops required for the protection of the locals (when required) will restrict their area of responsibility.
        2. It is advisable to let military areas coincide with the ethnological grouping of the population.
        3. The density of the population may restrict the employment of artillery and the air force in certain of their roles. d. The degree of terrorist influence over the local population dictates the attitude, security and psychological action of the military forces.
  3. Built-up areas. The presence of built-up areas will call for military forces to be committed on non-rural tasks, e.g., protection of key points and OSCA.
  4. Enemy. When the enemy is well established in an area, the following points require consideration:
    1. The strength of the enemy and his Organization will determine the military requirement.
    2. If his own area division is know, it may be better to try and fit that of the military accordingly. It is much easier to collect information and operate against one enemy group, than having elements of two or more to deal with.
    3. Areas (countries) providing sanctuary or assistance and his logistical and intelligence systems are also to be considered.
    4. Measure of support by local population.
  5. Friendly forces.
    1. The number of troops available, their standard of training and the availability of supporting elements (with any restrictions on their use) will determine the size of areas allocated.
    2. For ease of cooperation and coordinated action, it is advisable to have military boundaries coinciding with that - of the civil administration and police.


  1. Area operations can only be successfully concluded if there is intimate cooperation between the civil administration, the police and the military. All actions should be jointly planned, pooling all available information.
  2. An excellent joint intelligence system is a prerequisite for success and should be developed at all levels.
  3. The support of the local population is vital and the greater part of our psychological action plan should be directed at achieving this aim.
  4. Military success can only be achieved by well-trained and well-motivated troops, inspired with an offensive spirit that reflects itself by constantly dominating the area with patrols, ambushes, road blocks and similar aggressive tactics.




THIS SITE LAST UPDATED: Sunday, September 16, 2007 06:43:38 PM

Copyright 2000 - 2007 by T.A.L. DOZER. All rights reserved.