Approach across water

Approach across water

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Long-range reconnaissance forces operate around the world. Their theatre is the adversary’s hinterland. Getting there and back unobserved is a challenge. Waterways are an option. However, this type of approach, known as an amphibious insertion, requires practice.

Soldiers climb out of inflatable boats into the water.

Phase 1: Out onto the lake and into the water

Bundeswehr/Christian Vierfuß

Klietzer Lake, located in Klietz training area, is generally regarded as the Havelberg engineers’ “backyard pond”. Since the beginning of the week, however, long-range reconnaissance forces from Seedorf and Lebach have been training here. Their mission: amphibious infiltration and insertion training. In other words: swimming and riding a folding boat with tactical tricks of the trade. The exercise force is small. Only a dozen long-range scouts and range staff are on site. Half of the force belongs to the long-range reconnaissance platoon of 310 Airborne Reconnaissance Company, the other half to that of the 260. “For most of us, this is sustainment training,” says Stabsfeldwebel (OR-8) Horst Grabert. He is part of the unit at Seedorf and planned this training here.

Amphibious infiltration

Soldiers swim in the water. Only the backs of their heads are visible above the surface.

Phase 2: swim, swim, swim – with field pack

Bundeswehr/Christian Vierfuß

“A mission begins with insertion and infiltration. Sometimes we have to do this amphibiously.” Grabert closely observes two of his soldiers approach the shore with an economy of movement. Except for the quiet lapping of water, they make barely a sound.

Both soldiers push their packs, which have been waterproofed by wrapping them in garment bags, ahead of themselves. Their training weapons point menacingly toward the shore. “Those are the scouts of the long-range reconnaissance patrol – they’re the first to go ashore to secure the landing site,” Grabert explains. In the meantime, the other four men wait on the opposite shore.

In the first phase of the training, the focus is on swimming as a team. The long-range reconnaissance troops ride out onto the lake in an inflatable boat. There, they slip into the water one after the other with their packs. Then off they go. “We are not combat divers. We don't have to do 30-kilometre swims, let alone qualify for the Olympics. There are no points for style either. But our guys do need to be able to do a nautical mile,” Grabert says. With their packs, too, of course.

70 kg including the dry suit

A soldier gets out of the water with his equipment.

Phase 3: Arrival at the place of deployment

Bundeswehr/Christian Vierfuß

And that is something that long-range reconnaissance troops are capable of. Conserving energy, but not swimming too slowly. Gritting their teeth and not making a big deal out of it. For safety reasons, the team takes a rope into the water, to which the soldiers attach themselves. Including their dry suits, personal equipment and weapons, the soldiers add around 70 kg on top of their own body weight.

Close behind the scouts, the remaining members of the team make landfall and establish perimeter security. End of training for today. Grabert is pleased. After a short evaluation, the soldiers pack up their equipment. This is a luxury they will not have on operations. “That’s when the real work starts,” Grabert says with a smile. “Infiltration and working with the target.”

A soldier with a face cover and a weapon stands on the shore and looks toward the water.

Phase 4: The scouts secure the landing site.

Bundeswehr/Christian Vierfuß

by Markus Tiedke

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