This page contains the US Army Field Manual on Pathfinder Operations. FM In daylight operations, pathfinders are not inserted into an LZ before the initial assault echelon unless the LZ requires extensive improvement or. HEADQUARTERS. FIELD MANUAL. DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY. No. (FM ). PATHFINDER OPERATIONS. OCTOBER

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Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited. Linkup with Supported Unit Support of Ground Operations Support of Air Force Terminal Guidance by Supported Units Minimum Aircraft Separation Requirements Selection of Landing Sites Landing Zone and Obstacle Marking Terrain Contour and Obstacles Position of the Sun Service Life of Aerial Delivery Slings Hookup and Release Procedures Estimation of Drop Zone Time Requirement Approach and Departure Routes Drop Zone Support Team Determination of Release Point Location Army Verbally Initiated Release System Assault Zone Availability Report This occurs at any phase of an air assault or ground operation that requires sustained support by Army aircraft.

The commander employs pathfinders on a short-term basis for some missions.

FM Chptr 4 – Helicopter Landing Zones

He can redeploy the pathfinders after they complete a major troop lift or airdrop. Ideally, the commander assigns a pathfinder team to each combat aviation battalion. This enhances the relationship between aviators and operatikns, who have to work well 57-388 and understand each other in order to successfully complete a mission.

Aviators and pathfinders must maintain a good working relationship, despite the reduction of pathfinder units and the assignment of pathfinder-coded positions to ground units.

(e Book – English – Military) US Army – Field Manual FM 3 21 38 – Pathfinder Operations Oct2002

In this case, higher headquarters must temporarily assign pathfinder assets from an external source to train supported unit personnel and oversee the conduct of pathfinder operations.

Once trained, the team provides navigational aid, air traffic advisories, and any other relevant information. Around the clock, the pathfinder team supports any type of air movement or resupply operation conducted by or for the ground unit and supported by an aviation unit.

Engineers in direct support DS of lifted ground units may help pathfinders improve landing zones LZs. In most situations, pathfinders perform two or more of these jobs at the same time. In each case, they start out by setting up ground-to-air radio communications. Also, combat lifesaver-qualified pathfinders supplement internal medical support.

When not performing duties for supported units, pathfinders remain with their equipment, near and in communication with the supported ground unit CP. While pathfinders await further missions, the parent or supported CP may task them to help control the aviation unit base airfield, to perform minor demolition work, or, in staff sections, to perform map and aerial photographic work. However, before the pathfinders perform secondary missions, they must first train and perform routine maintenance on their equipment.

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Reconnoiter areas selected by supported unit commanders.

Select LZs and paghfinder zones DZs. Infiltrate areas of operation by foot, vehicle, watercraft, or air. Rappel or parachute from aircraft. Prepare LZs and DZs. Establish and operate visual and electronic navigation aids.

Use ground-to-air GTA radio communications to guide pilots and advise them of air traffic within the area of operations AO.

Coordinate directly with fire support units and keep pilots informed about friendly mortar and artillery fires. Provide technical operationss in assembling supplies, equipment, and troops before loading the aircraft for deployment to LZs and DZs. Advise and provide limited physical assistance in preparing and positioning supplies, equipment, and troops for air movement. Conduct limited NBC monitoring and surveying of designated areas.

Provide limited weather observations, to payhfinder wind velocity and direction, cloud cover, visibility, and approximate cloud ceiling.

Pathfinder Operations FM 57 38

Aviators and pathfinders coordinate to make sure everyone knows the ground markings and radio procedures. Though the aviation unit SOP may specify the type of equipment pathfinders will use, the mission dictates what specific items of equipment the pathfinders will take on the operation. Pathfinders use navigation aids to help aviators find and identify an exact area.

With these aids, pathfinders can signal farther than they can with visual navigation aids: With these aids, pathfinders can designate specific areas or points on LZs and DZs. They use them as GTA signals. Unfortunately, visual aids are visible, so the enemy can also see them. Pathfinders can make field-expedient visual aids for day or night. At night, pathfinders can use any infrared navigation aids that are compatible with their NVG.

Pathfinders use FM radios with secure capability and limited wire equipment. These radios allow pathfinders to communicate with aircraft, other pathfinder elements, and supported units. Incorporated homing capabilities fk these radios allow pathfinders to provide navigational aid to aircraft.

Pathfinders use assembly aids to designate pathfindre and supply assembly areas. Assembly aids include both electronic and visual devices. The pathfinders can also use or make field-expedient devices to aid in assembly. These include radios and homing devices that work by radio signal.

Enemy direction-finding equipment detects electronic signals. These simple-to-use aids allow positive identification of assembly areas. The enemy can also see them. To ensure understanding, pathfinders must closely coordinate the use of visual assembly aids. Visual assembly aids include– a Day.

Pathfinders can use infrared light sources as assembly aids, but, if they do so, both the pathfinders and the pilots must use NVDs. Such activities seek to disrupt, deceive, harass, or otherwise interfere with the command and control of pathfinder operations. The enemy can intercept, analyze, determine the direction of, and exploit electromagnetic energy radiating from any signal equipment such as radios, radar, and more.


He uses this intelligence for fire and maneuver and for electronic countermeasures. He may use jamming or deception, or he may continue to monitor and analyze the data for later use. He may use a reaction force, or he may find the source of the signal using a direction finder. Automated Operationd systems determine line bearings for each signal detected. The enemy continuously processes and compares line bearings and plots fixes for pathfinder signals.

Depending on the size of the DF base and the number of DF systems available, the enemy may accurately locate a friendly position with little difficulty. In combating enemy DF systems, pathfinders consider the following: FM and FM provide more information on communications.

The pathfinder training program stresses– 1 The development of individual proficiency in air traffic control procedures. Several of these supplement the ground unit’s operation. The more time they have pathfnider plan, the more detailed a plan they can make. He immediately follows with a warning order. He includes just enough information to allow the other pathfinders to start preparing for the operation.

Pathfinders prepare equipment in the following order, from the most to the least important: The pathfinder element leader or his representative and the air mission commander begin coordinating with the supported aviation unit sground unit sor both.

As the pathfinders receive more information, they reorganize personnel and equipment to better accomplish the mission. If time pperations, they rehearse. They use available briefing aids, and they rehearse on terrain that most nearly resembles the AO.

To succeed, an operation must have security.

Pathfinder Operations FM 57 38 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

So, each person receives only the information he must have to complete each phase of the operation. For example, the commander isolates any soldiers who know the details of the operation.

The situation dictates the extent of security requirements. He also considers what the pathfinder and aviation commanders or their representatives suggest. While preparing for an operation, air liaison officers ALOs and ground unit commanders GUCs coordinate with pathfinders to make an air movement table.

Table shows who coordinates what. X X Operational location coordinates. Patyfinder Locations of the primary and alternate communications checkpoints coordinates. X Location of release point. X X Apthfinder the site can begin operating.