Dirty, tired, camouflage-painted, trousers ripped, armed to the teeth, and overloaded.

Okay, so that’s what the guys on the Recon team look like most of the time. The team itself has evolved a bit due to operational requirements, equipment limitations, and force protection requirements established by higher. Over the years since Vietnam, the Recon team has ranged from four-man Force Recon Stingray teams to entire Recon platoons going out as one.

The basic, by-the-book Recon team consists of six men. Up front is the Pointman. He’s supposed to be the lightest-loaded man in the team, because he’s going to cover the most ground, finding the route often by trial and error. It’s one thing to plan a route on a map and sand-table, it’s something else when you’re walking the ground with a rucksack that weighs 90-120lbs, at 0300. A good pointman, with a good team leader, will often halt the patrol in order to move forward and figure out the best way through the terrain.  He also has to know what to look for when it comes to IEDs, possible enemy patrols, or any contact that could get the team compromised.

Behind the Point comes the Team Leader. The TL is responsible for everything the team does, so he is behind the Point on movement. The primary concern on movement is the route, so the TL has to be close to the Pointman to make sure they’re on the right route. Again, a good TL doesn’t keep his Pointman on too tight a leash.