Establishing The Outpost
Categories: THE THEORY OF SECURITY
Military Handbooks: The Plattsburg Manual Advanced Training
The outpost is posted as quickly as possible, so that the troops can the
sooner obtain rest. Until the leading outpost troops are able to assume
their duties, temporary protection, known as the march outpost, is
furnished by the nearest available troops.
The halt order of the commander, besides giving the necessary
information and assigning camp sites to the parts of the command,
details the troops to con
titute the outpost, assigns a commander
therefor, designates the general line to be occupied, and, when
practicable, points out the position to be held in case of attack.
The outpost commander, upon receipt of this order, should issue the
outpost order with the least practicable delay. In large commands it may
often be necessary to give the order from the map, but usually the
outpost commander will have to make some preliminary reconnaissance,
unless he has an accurate and detailed map.
The order gives such available information of the situation as is
necessary to the complete and proper guidance of subordinates;
designates the troops to constitute the supports; assigns their location
and the sector each is to cover; provides for the necessary detached
posts; indicates any special reconnaissance that is to be made; orders
the location and disposition of the reserve; disposes of the train if
same is ordered to join the outpost; and informs subordinates where
information will be sent.
After issuing the initial orders, the outpost commander inspects the
outpost, orders the necessary changes or additions, and sends his
superior a report of his dispositions.
The reserve is marched to its post by its commander, who then sends out
such detachments as have been ordered and places the rest in camp or
bivouac, over which at least one sentinel should be posted. Connection
must be maintained with the main body, the supports, and nearby detached
The supports march to their posts, using the necessary covering
detachments when in advance of the march outpost. A support commander's
order should fully explain the situation to subordinates, or to the
entire command, if it be small. It should detail the troops for the
different outguards and, when necessary, define the sector each is to
cover. It should provide the necessary sentinels at the post of support,
the patrols to be sent therefrom, and should arrange for the necessary
intrenching. Connection should be maintained with the adjoining supports
and with the outguards furnished by the supports.
In posting his command the support commander must seek to cover his
sector in such manner that the enemy cannot reach, in dangerous numbers
and unobserved, the position of the support or pass by it within the
sector intrusted to the support. On the other hand, he must economize
men on observation and patrol duty, for these duties are unusually
fatiguing. He must practise the greatest economy of men consistent with
the requirements of practical security.
As soon as the posting of the support is completed, its commander
carefully inspects the dispositions and corrects defects, if any, and
reports the disposition of his support, including the patrolling
ordered, to the outpost commander. This report is preferably made by
means of a sketch.
Each outguard is marched by its commander to its assigned station, and
especially in the case of a picket, is covered by the necessary
patrolling to prevent surprise.
Having reached the position, the commander explains the situation to his
men and establishes reliefs for each sentinel, and, if possible, for
each patrol to be furnished. Besides these sentinels and patrols, a
picket must have a sentinel at its post.
The commander then posts the sentinels and points out to them the
principal features, such as towns, roads, and streams and gives their
names. He gives the direction and location of the enemy, if known, and
of adjoining parts of the outpost.
He gives to patrols the same information and the necessary orders as to
their routes and the frequency with which the same shall be covered.
Each patrol should go over its route once before dark.
Every picket should maintain connection by patrols with outguard on its
right and left. Each commander will take precaution to conceal his
outguard and will generally strengthen his position by intrenching.