The word long range patrol probably conjures up images of Rangers in Vietnam, creeping behind enemy lines, ambushing VC, taking intel and leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. The Rangers were professionals in the art of the Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRP), but they were not the first. The concept of sending reconnaissance teams patrolling deep behind enemy lines is as old as warfare itself. The ability to move to an objective undetected, accomplish the mission and get back alive is a vital asset that makes the LRRP integral to any cohesive strategy.
In the US Military, the modern concept of the long-range reconnaissance patrol was created in 1956 by the 11th Airborne Division. This was part of the strategy to be used in event of war with the Red Army in Europe. The LRP companies came into their own during Vietnam, racking up an impressive 1:400 kill ratio and accounting for over approximately 10,000 enemy KIA. Today, their legacy lives on in the U.S. Army’s Long Range Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition squadrons.
For the history buffs, here’s some more info on the modern Rangers and their history going back to Rogers Rangers.
75th Ranger Regiment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/75th_Ranger_Regiment_(United_States)
Rogers Rangers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers%27_Rangers
Rules of Ranging: http://www.rogersrangers.org/rules/index.html
My interest in LRRPs comes mainly from my grandfather who spent considerable time in Vietnam with the Agency, training local indigenous tribes to fight the VC and planning out strategies that involved operations in and around the Ho Chi Mein trail. I wish I would have quizzed him more on the subject, but he passed away a few years back, so those conversations will have to wait until we meet again.
In the meantime, I started to see how the concept of the LRRP could easily be applied when scouting new terrain. Of course I’m not looking at this from the perspective of dealing with an OPFOR (Opposing Force) or any kind of viable threat . Taking that point in consideration, I began the process of laying out a kit specific for a long range patrol.
Like many military concepts, the LRRP is easily adaptable to the civilian world. The objectives are different, but the overall concept is the same. The kit is light, just the bare essentials. The person or team moves with stealth to the objective(s). Noise and light discipline are required. No trace should be left, trails, shelters, fires, etc. One might ask, why the need for stealth if there is no opposing force or deadly threat? The answer is simple, if you are scouting new land for any purpose, hunting, fishing, survival training etc, do you really want to smash through the forest, building shelters, starting fires, etc? If you do, you will immediately scare off any animals in the area and will undoubtedly alert any humans in the area. I’m not sure about your neck of the woods, but I’ve run into people hunting illegally, growing pot and more in the years I’ve spent training. Even if humans were not a concern, why spent extra time and calories building shelters and fires? Roll with a light kit and leave no trace. The main goal is to recon and patrol the new area and then head back home.
Long Range Patrol Kit (LRPK)
Now that I had the basics defined, it was time to apply those principles in the field. To be realistic, I figured that a two day FTX would give me enough time to explore a new area, putting my Long Range Patrol Kit to good use. Once I found my target area, it was time to do the good ole gear dump AKA gear sort. First things first, like any kit I pack, I take care of the essentials – Fire, Water, Shelter, Food.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
4 pouches of salmon
2 packets of Ramen
4 packets of mixed nuts
4 protein bars
Wise Foods meal/2 servings
Coffee & related condiments
Once I squared away the survival kit, I moved onto other concerns, first being personal protection. I attached my Gerber LMF II to my load bearing rig and stowed away my Walther P22. I did consider taking my 9mm, but the P22 is nice because it’s small, compact and is not nearly as loud as the 9mm. Finally, I added my Sog Flash II folder as a backup to the LMF II.
Since my main objective was reconnaissance, I needed a way to take notes and observe from a distance. So evolved a basic set of items for that goal:
After I finished packing the observation kit, the rest of the sorting went relatively fast. I grabbed my sanitation items, items like toothbrush, tp, etc. Then I layered on the medical gear. You will probably notice in the breakdown that my medical needs are sorted into two categories, a general and trauma category. I feel its best to keep those items separated, so in the event of a injury involving major blood loss, you can quickly go to the blowout kit rather than digging through everything to find what you need.
4×4 & 2×2 gauze pads
Assorted OTC meds
Assorted band aids
Z Pak dressing
I also added extra clothing items, extra bandanna, bug spray and other odds and ends that you’ll see in the video review.
After I had finished packing and checking everything off my list, I hit the road. Arriving at my entry point in the early morning hours, I trekked approximately 3.5 miles due North. There was a long ridgeline stretching across my path, so I found a good shelter site on the military crest and setup my operation. The next two days were spent in full on recon and exploration mode. The lightweight kit made trekking in and out a breeze. Since I had my LBE, it was easy enough to ditch my main pack and conduct my recon, but still carry all the essentials on my person. By the morning of the second day, the animals had become used to my presence. In fact they got so comfortable, they would forage right in my campsite without a care in the world. If I was hungry, it would be extremely easy to bag a small rodent since I had purposely setup my shelter near a well used game trail.
In regards to camouflage, the Russian Partizan-M suit worked like magic as usual and even my old school Woodland BDU’s performed well. I had more than enough food on hand, never going hungry and by using my Esbit folding stove, I avoiding making any fires. My water supply started to dwindle on the second day, but that wasn’t an issue. I packed up a few items and headed down the river near my shelter site. In the course of 30 minutes I was able to get my 2l hydration bladder filled up using my Sawyer Mini.
Everything went according to plan which is rare. I found that my success in the field is directly related to my mindset. If I’m in a rush or thinking about other things, something always goes wrong. The key is to slow down, take my time and observe. Move with purpose but not with reckless speed. Stop and listen to your surrounding and fully immerse yourself in the environment.
It takes time to fully get in tune with nature, like turning the knob on the radio to pull in a specific station. Your eyesight adjusts to the shadows, you see animals that were invisible and your sense of hearing can pick up a dry leaf cracking in half from 20 meters away.
After some time, you may end up never wanting to return to the “civilized” world.
Video Review: https://youtu.be/xSQEGdTGiiw