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HOWTO: Cross a Danger Zone with a squad or larger.

See also: US Army or Individual Movement Tactics


A danger zone is any area that could potentially expose an element to enemy fire. Typical danger zones are river crossings, roads with high sides, or roads.

Military elements typically move in a wedge formation. This is when enemy contact is expected, and therefore, the use of danger zone crossing tactics. The wedge formation provides the best fire coverage and spreads the troops out to avoid explosive devices.


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When the danger zone is identified the point man halts the squad and gives the danger signal. In the US Military, the danger signal is bringing your hand, open with "the fingers extended and joined", across your body from your shoulder to your hip. (Doesn't matter which hip) The point man then indicates which side he suspects the threat to be coming from, and does this by "rubbing" the corresponding shoulder. Therefore, if the perceived threat is on my right, I rub my right arm. At the squad leader's signal, the group then collapses into a column.

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First, the point man crosses the danger zone, into safe coverage, and orients himself in the direction of the perceived threat. The man behind the point man indicates when he should move by slapping him on the shoulder. The third man indicates when the second man should move by slapping him on the shoulder, and so on. The second man crosses the danger zone and takes up the same position he had when in the wedge formation. The rest of the squad takes up their positions, gradually reforming the wedge, with the point man still at the rear of the forward element, providing security.

While, this is going on, the squad leader has taken up rear security at the crossing. Once the squad is reformed, he crosses, and taps the point man on the shoulder. The point man takes up his position at the head of the wedge. The squad leader then takes a headcount, verifies all troops crossed safely with weapon and ammo. The point man then gives the signal to move out, which is the over the shoulder wave, "Follow me!". The squad then resumes normal operation.

Sources: US Army training.

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