Route Selection

Many variables affect the selection of the proper route. The following guidelines apply to all situations.

a. Select a Current Map. Check the date of the map for an indication of the reliability of the map in depicting vegetation, clearings, roads, and trails accurately. The leader should use all the latest topographic data he can find.

b. Gather Intelligence Information. The most important consideration in every leader's mind when plotting a movement is "where is the enemy?" The latest intelligence reports are essential. Additionally, weather reports, snow condition reports, avalanche probability, aerial photos, and any past or recent history of operations in the area may be of help.

c. Select a Route. Identify the starting point and determine the movement objective. Plot start and end points. Carefully scrutinize the area in between and begin to select the route. Consider the following:

(1) Trafficability. This includes degree of slopes, vegetation, width of trails, snow depth, avalanche probability, and the likelihood of crevasses.

(2) Time-Distance Formula. Time allotted and distance to be covered must be considered.

(3) Required Equipment. Carry enough equipment to move along the route and to survive if an extended stay becomes necessary. Do not plan a route beyond the means of your equipment.

(4) Location of Enemy. Plan a route that allows maximum use of the masking effect of the terrain. Avoid danger areas or areas of recent enemy activity unless required by the mission. Use vegetation to mask your movement if possible (especially coniferous forests). Avoid silhouetting on ridgelines.

(5) Communications. Communications will be severely limited in the mountains. Dead spaces or communications holes are common. Use all available information and plan accordingly.

(6) Conditions/Capabilities of Unit. The unit must be able to negotiate the route chosen. Take into consideration their present health, as well as their training level when selecting your intended route.

(7) Checkpoints/Control Points. When plotting a route on the map, utilize prominent terrain features on either side of the route as checkpoints. Ensure that when you select your checkpoints they are visually significant (elevation) and that they are easily identifiable. Avoid the use of manmade features as checkpoints due to their unreliability and lack of permanence. Select features that are unique to the area.


Continue reading here: Mountain Stream Crossings

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