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U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Alexander Hermann, a native of San Antonio, Texas, a joint tactical air controller with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, participates in a night mission during Exercise Caribbean Coastal Warrior on Savaneta Kamp, Aruba, June 27, 2021. The exercise allows 2nd Recon to expand its knowledge and proficiency when operating in littoral and coastal regions while increasing global interoperability with 32nd Raiding Squadron, Netherlands Marine Corps.

Photo by Cpl. Sydney Smith

Recon – Counter Recon

2 Aug 2021 | Courtesy Story Headquarters Marine Corps

This is not about discrete, super-skilled tactical formations, but the Stand-in Force, writ large.

This is not about finite “missions”, but a persistent capability.  For it to persist, it must be sustained. 

Reconnaissance operations, in any domain, use the full range of available detection methods to obtain information about the activities and resources of an adversary.

Counter-reconnaissance seeks to prevent the adversary from doing the same to us. 

In the maritime context, these two operations are best thought of within the context of two naval terms: scouting and screening.

Scouting is reconnaissance, surveillance, and all other ways to obtain and report combat information to commanders and their forces. 

Screening encompasses all measures used to frustrate the enemy’s scouting efforts, including the possibility of attacking a threatening enemy.

 “Forces that cannot sustain themselves inside the WEZ (weapons engagement zone) are liabilities; however, those that can sustain themselves while executing reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance activities create a competitive advantage.” Force Design 2030

A light, self-reliant, highly mobile naval expeditionary force postured forward in littoral areas within an adversary’s weapons engagement zone would provide Naval and Joint force commanders the ability to identify and track high-value targets including key reconnaissance platforms, scouting units, and other elements of the adversary’s command, control, and targeting complex. The force could hold these targets at risk with its own organic fires and/or provide critical links for Naval and Joint fire engagement.


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