RSTA operations are concerned not only with the collection of military intelligence, but ensuring that it is accurate, relevant, and distributed in a timely manner to the appropriate user. This includes maintaining Operational Security (OPSEC) so that critical information cannot be exploited by an opposing force. Likewise, RSTA can play a role in Operational Deception (OPDEC) operations to confuse opposing forces.
Across the strategic, operational and tactical level, RSTA operations fall within three areas:
Indications and Warning (I&W)Edit
Indications and Warnings (I&W) are "intelligence activities intended to detect and report time-sensitive intelligence information on foreign developments that could involve a threat to the United States or allied and/or coalition military, political, or economic interests or to US citizens abroad." On a strategic and operational level, RSTA operations may provide continuous surveillance or as-required reconnaissance, in order to provide warnings of impending threats or attacks, as well as to monitor compliance with international agreements.
Planning and EmploymentEdit
Strategically, RSTA Planning and Employment operations are used to support the planning of military operations, by monitoring foreign nations' centers of warmaking capability, and providing information on enemy system capabilities, locations, and installations for the National Target Base and other target lists. This information is used to assist in formulation of the U.S. military's Single Integrated Operational Plan, Limited Attack Option plan, Unified Command Plan, and Joint Strategic Capabilities Plans.
Operationally, RSTA operations are similar to both the strategic and tactical levels, in that they provide commanders with data on areas such as environment, organization, infrastructure, and enemy forces to assist in planning theater wide operations.
Tactically, RSTA operations provide detailed information about enemy orders of battle, movement plans, offensive and defensive capabilities, terrain, and enemy disposition. RSTA units provide target detection and acquisition ( and in some cases, elimination), and real-time intelligence and surveillance.
At all three levels of command, RSTA units provide combat assessment before, during and after military operations. This includes tasks such as bomb damage assessment or determining if an OPDEC mission has succeeded. RSTA assessment can help to decide if a military operation was successful in achieving its objectives, whether additional resources need to be directed to complete the objectives or if they can be redirected to another operation.
The primary task of the RSTA squadron is to carry out reconnaissance and security missions for its parent BCT or for higher commands, whether as part of offensive or defensive operations. Reconnaissance missions can include area, route, zone, and reconnaissance-in-force. Security missions can include screening (whether stationary or mobile), guard, cover, area security and local security. When necessary, the squadron can be augmented with additional forces to help in carrying out its missions.
Each cavalry troop consists of a headquarters section, two scout platoons, and a mortar section. The headquarters section includes the troop commander, executive officer, first sergeant, unit supply, and attached fire support team and combat medics. Each scout platoon consists of three M3 Bradley vehicles (each carrying two scouts) and five HMMWVs equipped with long-range multisensor systems, with plans to transition each troop to have six M3 vehicles. The mortar section has two 120-mm mortars and a fire direction center. Total strength for each cavalry troop includes 93 personnel, seven Bradley vehicles, eleven HMMWVs, two M1064 mortar carriers, an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, an M577A1 Command Post Carrier, and an FMTV.
The armor company consists of a headquarters element and three tank platoons. The headquarters consists of two tanks commanded by the company commander and executive officer, with attached fire support team and combat medics. Total strength includes 62 personnel, fourteen M1 Abrams, an M577A1 Command Post Carrier, two HMMWVs and an FMTV.
The ABCT Cavalry squadron can fight against comparable armor forces, including tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, in order to conduct its missions. However it has significant logistical and maintenance requirements and the use of different vehicle types creates a mix in survivability between platforms. The limited number of scout platoons reduces the size of the area the troop can operate in.
The IBCT Cavalry squadron includes a headquarters troop, two mounted cavalry troops, and a dismounted cavalry troop. A forward support company will also be attached from the brigade support battalion for sustainment purposes.
The headquarters troop includes a command group, the troop headquarters section, the squadron primary staff, a medical platoon, an attached fire support cell, and a tactical air control party. Total strength includes 130 personnel, seventeen HMMWVs, ten M997 Ambulances, three M1117 Armored Security Vehicles, and five FMTVs, with appropriate equipment carried in additional trailers.
Each mounted cavalry troop consists of a headquarters section, three scout platoons and a mortar section. The headquarters section includes the troop commander, executive officer, first sergeant, unit supply, and attached fire support team and combat medics. Each scout platoon has two HMMWVs, each with a crew of three of which one is available for dismounted scouting. The scout platoons are equipped with six M220 TOW-2 anti-armor systems firing the BGM-71 TOW missile backed up by FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles; four of the six HMMWVs are also equipped with the Long-Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System. The mortar section consists of two HMMWV-towed 120mm mortars and a fire direction center. Total strength includes 92 personnel, nine HMMWVs, and two FMTVs.
The dismounted cavalry troop includes a headquarters section, two scout platoons, a mortar section, a sniper squad and attached fire support team; it can also include up to eight two-man dismounted forward observer teams. The headquarters section includes the troop commander, executive officer, first sergeant, unit supply, and attached fire support team and combat medics. Each scout platoon is divided into three sections, while the sniper squad consists of a squad leader, two three-man sniper teams, and an HMMWV. The dismounted reconnaissance troop is a specialized unit with air and water assets to allow for clandestine infiltration and, unlike the other troops, is composed of Infantrymen. The mortar section consists of two 60mm mortars and a fire direction center. While largely lacking organic transport, the dismounted cavalry troop is easily deployable from both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. Total strength includes 79 personnel, four HMMWVs and an FMTV.
The IBCT Cavalry squadron is able to support its parent unit through the combination of the firepower and mobility offered by its mounted forces and the ability to operate in complex and difficult terrain with its dismounted forces. However the mix of mounted and dismounted troops creates a mismatch in maneuvering ability and may require augmentation with additional transportation resources.
The SBCT Cavalry squadron includes a headquarters troop and three cavalry troops, along with a forward support company attached from the brigade support battalion.
The headquarters troop includes a command group, the troop headquarters section, the squadron primary staff, a medical platoon, an attached fire support cell, and a tactical air control party. Total strength includes 131 personnel, six Stryker CVs, fifteen HMMWVs, and seven FMTVs, with appropriate equipment carried in additional trailers.
Each cavalry troop consists of a headquarters section, two scout platoons and a mortar section. The headquarters section includes the troop commander, executive officer, first sergeant, unit supply, and attached fire support team and combat medics. Each scout platoon has four Stryker RVs (with plans to transition to six Stryker RVs) and four FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles. The mortar section consists of two Stryker MCVs and a fire direction center. Total strength includes 92 personnel, one Stryker CV, thirteen Stryker RVs, two Stryker MCVs, and two FTMVs.
The SBCT Cavalry squadron can cover a large area thanks to its three cavalry troops equipped with extremely mobile Stryker vehicles. The squadron is limited though in its ability to conduct dismounted reconnaissance or engage enemy armor units. The four-vehicle cavalry troops also face additional risks during route reconnaissance as individual Strykers are forced to reconnoiter lateral routes and terrain adjacent to the route.
RSTA line troops are a mix of 19D (cavalry scout) and 11B (Infantryman) MOS's, which serve as scouts and snipers. Also included are 11C (Indirect Fire Infantryman), which operate a 60 mm M224 Mortar Section, as well as various intelligence and communications soldiers. The MTOE of the infantry troop includes organic Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (Zodiac F470) to insert the infantry. The infantry troop (being in a cavalry squadron, makes it a "troop", not a company) has few wheeled vehicles which directly belong to the troop. The operational cycle for the infantry troop is plan, insert, infiltrate, execute, exfiltrate, extract, and finally debrief.
In squadrons supporting an airborne brigade combat team, 100% of the RSTA soldiers are qualifiedparatroopers.
1st Squadron, 182nd Cavalry (RSTA), 26th Infantry Division, Massachusetts Army National Guard; 26th subsequently inactivated, lineage perpetuated by the 26th BCT, 29th Infantry Division, later 26th BCT, 42nd Infantry Division, then reorganized and redesignated as the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, consisting of a mix of support units.
1st Squadron, 263rd Cavalry (RSTA), 218th Brigade Combat Team (M) South Carolina Army National Guard (Brigade reorganized as the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, a mix of engineer, military police and chemical units.)