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Establishing The Outpost

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.