When searching for exfil it became clear to me that most people, outside of the military, have no idea what this term means. Even Wikipedia has it terribly wrong, and this wouldn’t be the first time. They still list a wrong place of birth on my author’s page, among other factual errors.

So what the heck is exfil (exfiltrate or exfiltration)?

There are several parts when you plan a recon (yay another abbreviation!) or military mission to hit a target.

Hold my beer while I explain.

So, What Is Exfil?

The primary planning parts of a mission are:

  1. Insert-Insertion phase: A helicopter will insert the team at point alpha, for example.
  2. Infil: After the helicopter drops our team off we will plan to “inflil” to the northeast using the terrain as cover.
  3. Mission: If you’re asking what this is I’m guessing you are licking a bus window in-between reading this article but, for the benefit of our younger generation that learned what they know on the internet, this is the part where things go boom! Hopefully…
  4. Exfil: “After we blow up the enemy bridge we will exfil the same way back.” “Safe in, safe out.”
  5. Extract: “We’ll link up with the extract helicopters at point charlie.”

If you still don’t get it, exfil is essentially the part where you safely escape, and the exact opposite of infil which is going in to do the mission.

Wikipedia and other websites on the internet blend several of these phases together although, in reality, they have very separate functions.

Okay, beer back, please.