Operations conducted in mountainous terrain may often require the crossing of swift flowing rivers or streams. Such crossings should not be taken lightly. The force of the flowing water may be extremely great and is most often underestimated. All rivers and streams are obstacles to movement. They should be treated as danger areas and avoided whenever possible. When rivers or streams must be crossed, there are a variety of techniques the small-unit leader may choose from, depending upon the type of stream, its width, speed of the current, and depth of the water.
There are limits on the safe use of these techniques. Not all mountain rivers or streams will be fordable with these techniques. If a water obstacle is too wide, swift, or deep, an alternate route should be used, or the crossing will require major bridging by engineers. It may require the use of rafts or boats. Reconnaissance of questionable crossing sites is essential. This chapter covers the techniques for crossing mountain streams that have a depth generally not exceeding waist deep.
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