Road Marches and Assembly Areas

When not in contact with the enemy, the company team may have to move long distances to position itself for future operations or to move from garrison to training areas. This type of movement, called a road march, is planned at company team and task force levels.

An assembly area, either the initial assembly area before movement begins or the forward assembly area following the move, is a site at which the unit gathers to prepare for future operations. Preparation activities include receiving and issuing orders, servicing and repairing vehicles, receiving and issuing supplies, and taking care of the personal needs of members of the company team.


Section 1 Tactical Road Marches
March Columns
Planning Considerations
Quartering Party
Control Measures
Actions During the March
Actions on Contact
Actions at the RP
Section 2 Assembly Areas
Quartering Party Operations
Occupation of the Assembly Area
Actions in the Assembly Area


The main purpose of the road march is to relocate rapidly, not to gain contact. It is conducted using fixed speeds and timed intervals. The discussion in this section examines tactical procedures and considerations for the road march.


The following paragraphs outline the three primary road march techniques. The commander bases his decision on the formation to be used during the march on which technique is employed. (NOTE: The road march is usually executed in column formation.)

Open column

The open column technique is normally used for daylight marches, though it can be used at night with blackout lights or thermal vision equipment. The distance between vehicles varies, normally from 50 meters to 200 meters, depending on light and weather conditions.

Close column

The close column technique is normally used for marches conducted during periods of limited visibility. The distance between vehicles is based on the ability to see the vehicle ahead; it is normally less than 50 meters.


The infiltration technique involves the movement of small groups of personnel or vehicles at irregular intervals. It is used when sufficient time and suitable routes are available and when maximum security, deception, and dispersion are desired. Of the three road march techniques, infiltration provides the best possible passive defense against enemy observation and detection.


Standard tasks the company team commander (and subordinate leaders, as necessary) may perform prior to a tactical road march include the following:

  • Designate a marshaling area to organize the march column and conduct final inspections and briefings.
  • Conduct a METT-TC analysis to determine the enemy situation, including the probability of air or ground attack.
  • Establish detailed security measures.
  • Designate the movement route, including the SP, required checkpoints, and the RP. Additional control measures that the team may be required to identify include critical areas, defiles, choke points, rest and maintenance stops, and danger areas.
  • Organize, brief, and dispatch the quartering party.
  • Specify the march speed, movement formations, vehicle and serial intervals, catch-up speed, lighting, and times of critical events.
  • Plan for indirect fire support and contingency actions, and rehearse actions on contact. Contingency plans should cover vehicle breakdowns, lost vehicles, and accidents.
  • Coordinate for CSS, including refueling, mess operations, vehicle recovery, local police assistance, and medical evacuation.


Whether the company team is conducting the road march independently or as part of a task force, it will normally send out a quartering party to assist it in moving to and occupying a new assembly area. Dispatched prior to the departure of the main body, the company team quartering party assists the task force quartering party in reconnoitering the route of march. It then conducts its own reconnaissance of the feeder route from the RP to the proposed assembly area and of the assembly area itself. If either the route or the assembly area proves unsatisfactory, the quartering party recommends changes to the commander. (NOTE: If the task force does not send a quartering party, the company team party assumes sole responsibility for reconnoitering the route of march from SP to RP.)

Once the road march begins, members of the quartering party serve as guides along the feeder route and in the assembly area. The size and composition of the party is usually dictated by unit SOP, although it can be adjusted based on specific tactical requirements. Refer to Section 2 of this appendix for a more detailed discussion of quartering party duties and procedures.


The commander uses the control measures discussed in the following paragraphs to assist in controlling the company team during the road march.


Road march graphics should include, at a minimum, the SP, the RP, and the route, which have the following characteristics:

  • The SP location represents the beginning of the road march route. It should be located on easily recognizable terrain. It is far enough away from the company teamís initial position to allow individual elements to organize into the march formation at the appropriate speed and interval. The commander should determine the time required to move to the SP. This will help the team to arrive at the SP at the time designated in the task force OPORD and to continue movement onto the route of march without stopping.
  • The RP marks the end of the route of march. It is also located on easily recognizable terrain. Elements do not halt at the RP. They continue to their respective positions with assistance from guides, waypoints, and/or other graphic control measures.
  • The route is the path of travel connecting the SP and RP.

Digital overlays

Digital overlays, which serve as a backup to maps with overlays, can provide valuable assistance for digitally equipped units. They display waypoints and other information concerning unit locations along the route of march, not only assisting the units in navigating accurately but in maintaining situational awareness as well.

Critical points

These are locations along the route of march where terrain or other factors may interfere with movement or where timing is critical. They are represented using checkpoints. The SP, RP, and all checkpoints are considered critical points.

Strip maps

A strip map can be used to assist in navigation. It should include the SP, RP, checkpoints, marshaling areas, and ROM sites; it also lists the distances between these points. Detailed "blowup" sketches should be used for marshaling areas, locations of scheduled halts, ROM sites, and other places where confusion is likely to occur. Strip maps are included as an annex to the movement order; if possible, a copy should be provided to all vehicle drivers.

Visual signals

When radio silence is observed during a road march, hand-and-arm signals, flags, and lights may be employed as the primary means of passing messages between vehicles and between moving units.

Traffic control

Road guides and traffic signs may be posted at designated traffic control points by the headquarters controlling the march. At critical points, guides assist in creating a smooth flow of traffic along the march route. Military police, members of the task force scout platoon, or designated elements from the quartering party may serve as guides. They should have equipment or markers that will allow march elements to identify them in darkness or other limited visibility conditions. There is normally an RP for every echelon of command conducting the road march (that is, there will be a task force RP, followed by a company team RP). Traffic problems may arise if actions at each of these points are not well rehearsed.


Movement to
the SP

The company team must arrive at the SP at the time designated in the task force OPORD. The team commander may need to designate a marshaling area in which the quartering party and the main body can organize their march columns and conduct final inspections and briefings before movement. If the situation dictates, units may move directly to the column from their current positions. To avoid confusion during the initial moveout, leaders of all team elements should conduct a reconnaissance of the route to the SP, issue clear movement instructions, and conduct thorough rehearsals, paying particular attention to signals and timing.


Every vehicle in the formation has an assigned sector of orientation. Each vehicle commander should additionally assign sectors of observation to crewmen to achieve 360-degree observation.


While taking part in a road march, the company team must be prepared to conduct both scheduled and unscheduled halts.

Scheduled halts

These are conducted to permit maintenance, refueling, and personal relief activities and to allow other traffic to pass. The time and duration of scheduled halts are established in the movement order. Unit SOP specifies actions to be taken during halts; the first priority must always be to establish and maintain local security. A maintenance halt of 15 minutes is usually taken after the first hour of the march, with a 10-minute halt every two hours thereafter.

During long marches, the unit may conduct a refuel on the move (ROM) operation. The composition of the ROM site will depend both on OPSEC considerations and on the refueling capability of assets at the ROM site. The OPORD will specify the amount of fuel or the amount of time at the pump for each vehicle. It will also give instructions for OPSEC at the ROM site and at the staging area to which vehicles move after refueling.

Unscheduled halts

The company team conducts unscheduled halts when the unit encounters unexpected obstacles or contaminated areas or when a disabled vehicle temporarily blocks the route. Whenever an unscheduled halt occurs, each vehicle commander sends a messenger to the vehicle to his front; the messenger obtains (or, if applicable, provides) information on the reason for the halt and on required follow-on actions. The movement commander then takes any further actions required to determine and/or eliminate the cause of the halt.

A disabled vehicle must not be allowed to obstruct traffic for lengthy periods. The crew should move the vehicle off the road immediately, report its status, establish security, and post guides to direct traffic. If possible, the crew repairs the vehicle and rejoins the rear of the column. Vehicles that drop out of the column should return to their original positions only when the column has halted. Until then, they move at the rear just ahead of the trail element, which usually comprises the maintenance team with the M88 recovery vehicle and some type of security (the XO will normally handle security if he is not part of the quartering party). If the crew cannot repair the vehicle, the vehicle is recovered by the trail element.

NOTE: Security during halts normally involves a combination of dispersion, weapons orientation, clearance of terrain that dominates the route of march, and employment of infantry squads to secure danger areas.


If enemy contact occurs during the road march, the company team executes actions on contact as described in Chapter 3 of this manual.


The company team moves through the task force RP without stopping. The teamís guide picks up the unit there and guides it to the company team RP (normally at the entrance to the teamís position in the new assembly area). Each platoon then picks up its own assigned guide and follows the guideís signals to its position in the assembly area. Depending on terrain and the equipment available (GPS or POSNAV), guides and marking materials may be posted at or near exact vehicle locations (assembly areas procedures are covered in the following section).


An assembly area is a site at which maneuver units prepare for future operations. A well-planned assembly area will have the following characteristics:

  • Concealment from enemy ground and air observation.
  • A location on defensible terrain.
  • Good drainage and a surface that will support tracked and wheeled vehicles.
  • Suitable entrances, exits, and internal roads or trails.
  • Sufficient space for dispersion of vehicles and equipment.


Normally, the company team employs a quartering party (also known as an advance party) to assist in the occupation of an assembly area. The quartering party is established in accordance with task force or team SOP; for example, it may comprise one vehicle per platoon along with a vehicle from the headquarters section. It is normally led by the company team XO or 1SG or by a senior NCO. The quartering partyís actions in preparing the assembly area include the following:

  • Reconnoiter for enemy forces and NBC contamination.
  • Evaluate the condition of the route to the assembly area and the suitability of the area itself (drainage, space, internal routes). (NOTE: If the area is unsatisfactory, the party requests permission from the commander to find a new location.)
  • Organize the area based on the commanderís guidance; designate and mark tentative locations for platoons, CP vehicles, and trains.
  • Improve and mark entrances, exits, and internal routes.
  • Mark bypasses and/or remove obstacles (within the partyís capabilities).
  • Mark tentative vehicle locations.


Once the assembly area is prepared, the quartering party awaits the arrival of the company team, maintaining surveillance and providing security of the area within its capabilities. Quartering party members guide the team as a whole from the task force RP to the team RP; they then guide individual elements from the team RP to their locations in the assembly area. SOPs and prearranged signals and markers (for day or night occupation) should be used to assist vehicle commanders in finding their positions. The key consideration is to move quickly, both to clear the route for other units and to assume designated positions in the assembly area.

The company team may occupy the assembly area as an independent element or as part of a task force (see Figure B-1). In either situation, the team occupies its positions upon arrival using the procedures for hasty occupation of a BP. The commander establishes local security and coordinates with adjacent units. He assigns weapons orientation and a sector of responsibility for each platoon and subordinate element. If the team occupies the assembly area alone, it establishes a perimeter defense. (NOTE: Figure 4-14 illustrates a perimeter defense for an assembly area.)

NOTE: Refer to Chapter 4 of this manual for discussions of hasty occupation of a BP and conduct of a perimeter defense and to Appendix M for information on OPSEC procedures.


Following occupation, the company team and its individual elements can prepare for future operations by conducting troop-leading procedures and priorities of work in accordance with task force and team OPORDs. These preparations include the following:

  • Establish and maintain security (at the appropriate REDCON level).
  • Employ infantry squads to implement security measures as necessary, including protection against enemy infiltration.
  • Conduct troop-leading procedures.
  • Perform maintenance on vehicles and communications equipment.
  • Verify weapon system status; conduct boresighting, prepare-to-fire checks, test-firing, and other necessary preparations. (NOTE: The company team normally must coordinate test-firing activities with its higher headquarters.)
  • Conduct resupply operations, including refueling and rearming.
  • Conduct rehearsals and other training for upcoming operations.
  • Conduct PCCs and PCIs based on time available.
  • Eat, rest, and conduct personal hygiene activities.
  • Adjust task organization as necessary.
  • Account for company team personnel and assigned sensitive items.
  • Reestablish vehicle load plans.

Figure B-1. Example company team assembly area (occupation as part of a task force).