Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol
Overview
 
Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols, or LRRPs , were special small four to six-man teams in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 on highly dangerous special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance is conducted by small units of highly trained military personnel, usually from special forces units or military intelligence organisations, who operate behind enemy lines, avoiding direct combat and detection by the enemy. As a role, SR is distinct from commando operations,...

 missions deep into enemy territory.

The first US Army Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol units were in the 11th Airborne Division in Augsburg Germany in 1956. Their training was very similar to later LRRP and LRP units. The 11th had a cadre of trained LRRPs spread out throughout the division and formed LRRP patrols on an as needed basis.

The LRRP concept was well known throughout the Army though it seemed to be concentrated in 7th Army in Germany.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols, or LRRPs , were special small four to six-man teams in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 on highly dangerous special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance is conducted by small units of highly trained military personnel, usually from special forces units or military intelligence organisations, who operate behind enemy lines, avoiding direct combat and detection by the enemy. As a role, SR is distinct from commando operations,...

 missions deep into enemy territory.

The first US Army Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol units were in the 11th Airborne Division in Augsburg Germany in 1956. Their training was very similar to later LRRP and LRP units. The 11th had a cadre of trained LRRPs spread out throughout the division and formed LRRP patrols on an as needed basis.

The LRRP concept was well known throughout the Army though it seemed to be concentrated in 7th Army in Germany. After the 11th Airborne returned to the US, the 504th and 505th parchute infantry units in Mainz each had standing LRRP platoons.

Provisional LRRP Companies made up of both trained LRRPs and regular soldiers were put together for a series of exercises called Wintershield and proved themselves in the field.

This led to the 1961 formation of two Department of the Army authorized LRRP Companies in Wildflecken and Nellingen Barracks (near Stuttgart). The US Army LRRP Companies (Abn) were numbered 3779 and 3780, and were assigned to V Corps and VII Corps respectively. V Corps LRRP transferred to Frankfurt near Corps HQ in 1963. The two companies developed the first LRRP Table of Organization and Equipment which was approved in 1965 increasing their strength to 208 men, increasing patrol size from 4 to 5 men, and adding an organic transport component. All LRRPs from Patrol Leader up were supposed to be Ranger qualified. The experiences of the two first LRRP companies also formed the basis of the first Army LRRP manual.

Both companies used CW (Morse Code) radios including the TRC-77 for long range communications to their respective Corps G-2 (Intelligence) through 3 mobile base stations (each).

The companies were transferred to the United States in 1968 under the Reduction in Armed Forces Germany (REFORGER) agreement with the Soviet Union but neither unit was sent to Vietnam because they retained their assigned role as LRRP units for V and VII Corps in the event of war in Europe.

The units were Rangered, like the Vietnam LRRP and LRP units, in early 1969 and became A/75 and B/75. They were the only Ranger units left on active duty at the end of the Vietnam War and continued in service until November 1974 when they were disbanded with most of their personnel forming the basis of the new Ranger Battalions.

History

Impressed by the Australian SASR methods in Vietnam, American General William Westmoreland
William Westmoreland
William Childs Westmoreland was a United States Army General, who commanded US military operations in the Vietnam War at its peak , during the Tet Offensive. He adopted a strategy of attrition against the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and the North Vietnamese Army. He later served as...

 ordered the formation of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) unit in each infantry brigade, modelled on the SASR.
Early in the war long range reconnaissance patrols were performed by a limited number of infantry battalion Recon Platoons. Later LRRP units were provisional platoon-sized units. By 1967, formal LRRP companies were organized, some having two platoons, each with eight six-man patrols. Training was notoriously rigorous. Similar missions, although more likely to be clandestine, deeper penetrating, and more like Special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance is conducted by small units of highly trained military personnel, usually from special forces units or military intelligence organisations, who operate behind enemy lines, avoiding direct combat and detection by the enemy. As a role, SR is distinct from commando operations,...

, were run in Vietnam by the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) Studies and Observation Group (SOG).

Within the U.S. Marine Corps, these missions were typically assigned to Marine Recon, especially Force Recon, units assigned to corps-level (i.e., Marine Expeditionary Force
Marine Expeditionary Force
A Marine Expeditionary Force or MEF is the largest type of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force...

 (MEF)) level, as opposed to the Battalion Recon units answering to battalion commanders.

Beginning in February 1969, all LRRPs were folded into the newly-formed 75th Ranger Regiment, bringing back operational Ranger units. The Army had disbanded Ranger units after Korea, but kept Ranger school
Ranger School
The United States Army Ranger School is an intense 61-day combat leadership course oriented towards small-unit tactics. It has been called the "toughest combat course in the world" and "is the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer". The course is conducted...

, on the theory that spreading Ranger School graduates throughout the Army would improve overall performance.

Operation

The LRRP operated on reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 and combat patrols, either obtaining highly vital intelligence, or performing highly dangerous raids and ambushes. The tactical employment of LRRPs was later evaluated to be generally used far too dangerously by strategic commanders, who were pleased by the extraordinary kill ratios for LRRPs teams (sometimes reported as high as 400 enemy troops for every LRRP killed). Their use was reconsidered and restructured into modern day Long Range Surveillance
Long Range Surveillance
Long Range Surveillance units are specially trained elite Surveillance units of the United States Army that are employed by Military Intelligence Units for gathering information from deep within hostile territories....

 (LRS) units.

Sri Lanka

Other units known as LRRPs can be found in international militaries, such as the LRRP unit trained and used by the Military Intelligence in Sri Lanka. Unconfirmed reports suggest training was provided by outside entities, such as the Green Berets, Navy SEALs, British SAS and the Israeli military. The LRRP has been very successful in covert operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorists in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. Its members were so successful in assassinating key LTTE figures that many LTTE leaders refused to come out of their jungle bunkers before the 2002 ceasefire was implemented. After the resumption of hostilities, it is believed that the LRRP units were conducting operations in the LTTE held northern province. The LTTE has accused the Sri Lankan Deep Penetration Units of launching attacks on LTTE leaders and civilians in their areas, although the Sri Lankan Government denies any involvement in these attacks. The teams have had success against LTTE leaders such as military intelligence leader Colonel Charles
Shanmuganathan Ravishankar
Shanmuganathan Ravishankar, also known as Colonel Charles , the Head of LTTE Military Intelligence wing, was killed on the 6th of January 2008 by Sri Lankan Army LRRP unit. His death was called a major setback for the Tamil Tigers....

and many other leaders. Other success have included observing LTTE training camps and calling in air strikes. The LRRP's successes and dedicated operators have garnered a fearful reputation among the LTTE.

The former Sri Lanka Army commander General Sarath Fonseka
Sarath Fonseka
Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka, known as Sarath Fonseka is a former commander and General of the Sri Lanka Army and a former candidate for President of Sri Lanka. As Commander of the Army, he played an instrumental role in ending the 26 year Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009, defeating the...

 had recently acknowledged that LRRP units were used to beat the LTTE at their own game.It was later revealed that LTTE, who were masters at jungle warfare refused to engage in combat and withdrew from their positions instead of holding the ground because of these elite soldiers. These units falls under 3rd Commando Regiment and 3rd Special Forces Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army. The LRP concept was initially developed by a Commando officer named Major Sreepathi Gunasekara who formed special recce unit called 'Delta Patrols' in the year 1986 which later formed as the LRRP Group and formed into LRP battalion at present.(Sri Lanka Army Special Forces Regiment
Sri Lanka Army Special Forces Regiment
The Sri Lanka Army Special Forces Regiment is the elite special forces unit of the Sri Lanka Army. This Regiment is specialized in hard-hitting shock action. The Special Forces Regiment has the distinction of taking part in almost all major offensives conducted by the Army since 1986. Their motto...

). They along with other Special Forces units & Commandos (Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment
Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment
The Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment is an elite special operations unit which is a Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army. Within one of the four Army Commando Regiments there is a 140-man counter-terrorist unit that provides the primary Counter-terrorism response for Sri Lanka...

) played a vital role in eliminating the LTTE, including Velupillai Prabhakaran
Velupillai Prabhakaran
Thiruvenkadam Velupillai Prabhakaran was the founder and leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam , a militant organization that sought to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka...

, the founder and leader of the Tamil Tigers. Sri Lanka's LRRP has also been a major cause of internal breakdown and eventual destruction of the LTTE as it has associated with creating rifts between the terrorists. It is one of the core units of Directorate of Military Intelligence (Sri Lanka)
Directorate of Military Intelligence (Sri Lanka)
The Directorate of Military Intelligence is the intelligence arm of the Sri Lankan armed forces.-References and external links:*...

. The Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

  has classified LTTE as among the most dangerous terrorist outfits in the world http://www.fbi.gov/page2/jan08/tamil_tigers011008.html.

Germany

In the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Bundeswehr
Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

, LLRP is called Fernspäher (long-range scouts). Historically, the German Fernsphäher units were modelled after the Finnish long-range patrols and derived from the existing elite units of Gebirgsjäger
Gebirgsjäger
Gebirgsjäger, in English Mountain Riflemen, is the German designation for mountain infantry. The word Jäger is the traditional German term for rifleman...

and Fallschirmjäger
Fallschirmjäger
are German paratroopers. Together with the Gebirgsjäger they are perceived as the elite infantry units of the German Army....

. Originally, there were 3 companies of Fernspäher in the Bundeswehr, one being assigned to each Corps. Today, after the reformation of German special forces in 1996, the Fernspählehrkompanie 200 (FSLK200) is the single remaining Fernspäher unit. Furthermore, some Fernspähers serve as part of the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK)
Kommando Spezialkräfte
The KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte is an elite military unit composed of Special Operations soldiers from the ranks of Germany’s Bundeswehr and organized as such under the Division Spezielle Operationen . The unit has received many decorations and awards from both NATO and its affiliates...

 and provide scouting for the special forces. The Fernspähers are part of the Special Operations Division. FSLK200 is the only German special force-type unit which has also recruited women.

Details about operations of the FSLK200 are kept secret. Nonetheless it is known that Fernspäher have carried out missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

, during the Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

 and later during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

.

Finland

In Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, long-range patrols (kaukopartio) were especially notable in the Second World War. For example, Erillinen Pataljoona 4 (4th Detached Battalion), a command of four different long range patrol units, Osasto Paatsalo, Osasto Kuismanen, Osasto Vehniäinen and Osasto Marttina operated throughout the Finnish Campaign
Continuation War
The Continuation War was the second of two wars fought between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War II.At the time of the war, the Finnish side used the name to make clear its perceived relationship to the preceding Winter War...

 1941-44. These units penetrated Soviet lines and conducted recon and destroy missions.

During the trench warfare period of the Continuation War, long-range patrols were often conducted by special Finnish sissi troops.

Former President of Finland, Mauno Koivisto
Mauno Koivisto
Mauno Henrik Koivisto is a Finnish politician who served as the ninth President of Finland from 1982 to 1994. He also served as Prime Minister 1968–1970 and 1979–1982...

, served in Lauri Törni
Lauri Törni
Lauri Allan Törni was a Finnish Army captain who led an infantry company in the Finnish Winter and Continuation Wars and moved to the United States after World War II...

's specially designed Jäger Company in the Finnish 1st Infantry Division. This unit conducted several difficult missions against Soviet strongholds and attacks. Lauri Törni became a US citizen and entered in the US Army, becoming a Special Forces soldier. He gave the US Army Special Forces important knowledge in long range patrolling and fighting. He was declared MIA during the Vietnam War in 1965, until his remains were found and were buried in Arlington on June 26, 2003.

Denmark

The Danish Defence Forces had two Longe Range Surveillance Companies (LRSC) known as "Patrol-Companies" - one assigned to the Jyske Division (later Danish Division) and one assigned to the Land Command Zealand (Corps-level) later to the Danish Army Operational Command. Patruljekompagniet
Patruljekompagniet
The Special Support and Reconnaissance Company , until 1 January 2007 known as the Patrol Company Army Operational Command is the only remaining Long Range Surveillance Company / Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Coy) in the Danish Armed Forces...

 was an all volunteer unit within the Danish Home Guard, and has now changed its name to Special Support and Reconnaissance (SSR) Company.

United Kingdom

The Honourable Artillery Company
Honourable Artillery Company
The Honourable Artillery Company was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1537 by King Henry VIII. Today it is a Registered Charity whose purpose is to attend to the “better defence of the realm"...

 and its regular sister unit, 4/73 (Sphinx) Special Observation Post Battery RA
4/73 (Sphinx) Special Observation Post Battery RA
4/73 Battery is a battery of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery in the Royal Artillery. It currently serves in the Surveillance and Target Acquisition Patrols role.-Origins of 4/73 Bty RA:...

, operate in this role. During the cold war, the Corps Patrol Unit (CPU) consisted of 21 and 23 SAS
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 and the HAC.

India

Special Frontier Force
Special Frontier Force
The Special Frontier Force is a paramilitary unit of India. It was conceived in the post Sino-Indian war period as a guerrilla force composed mainly of Tibetan refugees whose main goal was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in case of another war between the People's Republic of...

 is considered as one of the best in Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols or Pathfinders.They can remain hidden under the nose of the enemy for days or weeks on an end. The outfit was trained to do this against the Chinese but actually used the technique to great success in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

-administered Kashmir and the fields of the northern state of Punjab
Punjab (India)
Punjab ) is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the...

.

Norway

The Norwegian Army has a LRRP capacity dating back to the 1960s, Fjernoppklaring (remote reconnaissance). It was split in two, creating a new group of airborn special forces, Hærens Jegerkommando
Hærens Jegerkommando
Hærens Jegerkommando is a special forces unit of the Norwegian military. It is the armed forces competence center for commando, airborne and counter terrorist duty in the Norwegian Army. Its headquarters are located 30 km...

, but remains today as a part of the ISTAR
ISTAR
ISTAR stands for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance. In its macroscopic sense, ISTAR is a practice that links several battlefield functions together to assist a combat force in employing its sensors and managing the information they gather.Information is collected on...

 concept.

NATO

The NATO International Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol School (ILRRPS), based first at Weingarten
Weingarten (Baden)
Weingarten is a municipality in the district of Karlsruhe in southwestern Germany, situated at the transition from the Kraichgau to the Rhine valley. Its name means vine garden in German...

 and then Pfullendorf
Pfullendorf
Pfullendorf is a small historic city in the district of Sigmaringen in Baden-Württemberg in Germany.-Geography:Its location is in the district of Sigmaringen, 25 km north of Lake Constance and south of the Danube valley and therefore on the continental divide between the watersheds of the...

, provided training to LRRP units from the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands
Korps Commandotroepen
The Korps Commandotroepen are the elite special forces of the Royal Netherlands Army. It is one of the two principal units tasked with special operations in the Netherlands , and it is deployable anywhere in the world under any circumstance, conducting all conceivable missions from...

, Italy, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Portugal and Turkey.
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