Quantcast Operational Tasks and Techniques

Custom Search



LEARNING OBJECTIVES: State the purpose of an operational task evaluation. Explain the importance of carefullyl choosing a force option. State the reason for isolation of an area and for securing likely targets.

In any civil disturbance control operation, certain tasks must be accomplished to reach the ultimate objective of restoring and maintaining law and order. To do this, action must be taken to gain control of the situation. Control forces must perform certain tasks to develop a physical and psychological environment.


It is equally important that the operational tasks be selected only after a careful evaluation of the situation. This evaluation must consider the uniqueness of the situation. In this respect, the installation commanding officer selects those tasks that are most likely to reduce the intensity of the confrontation by effectively managing the given situation. Therefore, not all tasks will apply in all situations. Installation commanding officers and control team leaders identify those tasks that must be performed and then develop plans and procedures for their accomplishment. The importance of having a high degree of flexibility and selectivity in the response cannot be overemphasized.


The commitment of Federal military forces must be viewed as a drastic measure. Their role, therefore, should never be greater than is absolutely necessary under the prevailing circumstances. This does not mean, however, that the size of the control force employed should be minimized. On the contrary, the degree of force required to control a disturbance is frequently opposite to the proportional number of available personnel. The presence of large numbers may prevent the development of situations in which the use of deadly force is necessary. A large reserve of personnel should be maintained during this type of operation. The knowledge that a large reserve force is available builds morale among military and law enforcement personnel and contributes toward preventing overreaction to provocative acts by disorderly persons.

In selecting an operational approach to a civil disturbance situation, the commanding officer and staff must observe the "minimum force" principle. For example, crowd control formations or riot control agents should not be used if saturation of the area with manpower would suffice.

Avoid appearing as an alien, invading force. Present the image of a restrained and well-disciplined force whose sole purpose is to assist in restoration of law and order with a minimum loss of life and property. Show respect to those citizens whose involvement may be purely accidental. Further, while control force personnel should be visible, tactics or force concentrations that might tend to excite rather than to calm should be avoided where possible.


Isolating the area encompasses the restriction and sealing off of the disturbed area. The objectives of isolation are to prevent the disorder from spreading to unaffected areas, to prevent the escape of individuals determined to expand the disturbance, to expedite the departure of the uninvolved, and to exclude unauthorized personnel from entering the affected area. Therefore, to stop the disorder from expanding in size and intensity, it is critical that no additional demonstrators or curious onlookers be allowed into the disturbed area.

The initial commitment of control force personnel may be required to clear a building or an area to isolate the individuals creating the disturbance from those not yet motivated or actively involved. The primary emphasis should be on identifying the area to be cleared and who has to be isolated.


Certain buildings, utilities, and services are critical to the economic and physical well-being of a community and require security to prevent disruption of essential functions. In addition, certain facilities and buildings have become symbolic targets to radical or extremist elements and must be identified and afforded protection within the priorities established.

The techniques for securing likely targets consist essentially of providing physical security. Military forces are ideally organized and equipped to perform this task Security of Government buildings and public utility facilities is a normal mission for military forces in most types of civil disturbances. This releases civil police to operate within the disturbed area in their law enforcement capacity.


LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Identify seven variables of crowds or mobs. Describe four crowd control options. Explain the difference between crowds and mobs and describe four ways in which a crowd becomes a mob.

Civil disturbance operations, especially those conducted over extended periods, require control forces to confront a variety of crowds and mobs. Crowds and mobs differ in many ways, and these differences are called variables.


Consideration of the following variables will indicate the general nature of the mob or crowd, and the most appropriate reamer of controlling them:

. The current intensity level of the civil disturbance 

. Public opinion 

l Current policies

. Crowd and mob mood, intent, composition, and activity 

. Capabilities and readiness of control forces

l Immediate and long range benefits of control

force action l Weather, terrain, and time of day


In general terms, four crowd-control options are available. They are monitoring, dispersing, containing, and blocking. A prime consideration in selecting an option will be the capability of control forces to accomplish the desired option.


Monitoring consists of watching the crowd's progress and development by control force teams. Monitoring enables the commander to evaluate the crowd's activity and intent in relation to the larger civil disturbance and possibly to influence the crowd through passive means. This option is appropriate for large, nonviolent demonstrations where more decisive action is not feasible, because of crowd size, and acts as an interim measure pending the arrival of additional control forces. Techniques for accomplishing this option include passive observation of the crowd, and the communication of interest and intent to leaders.


Dispersing is an action taken to fragment a crowd. It is especially applicable to large crowd situations in a congested urban environment. Its selection should include the consideration that dispersion may increase and spread lawlessness rather than reduce it. Techniques for accomplishing this option would include the show of force, use of riot control formations, and use of riot control agents.


Containing means restraint of a large number of individuals within the area they are presently occupying, thereby stopping any further aggressive activity. This option would be appropriate in a college campus situation to prevent rioters from spreading to surrounding communities and to prevent unauthorized personnel from entering the campus. Containing would also be appropriate where the systematic arrest of crowd members is contemplated. Riot control formations and use of barricades comprise the primary techniques for this option.


Blocking consists of actually stopping a crowd's advance toward the potential or actual target. Riot control formations and barricades are the most appropriate tools.


A crowd is a group or a number of separate groups that may be orderly or disorderly but that has not lost its collective sense of fear. A mob, on the other hand, is distinguished by the fact that, under the stimulus of intense excitement, its members have actually lost the sense of fear of the law.

Mobs develop from crowds, but inmost cases mobs could be prevented by the proper application of crowd tactics. A crowd lacks organization and unit of purpose; but if bent on mischief, a crowd requires only a leader to become a mob. If the crowd is compelled to move on and break up, however, there is usually little danger.

A crowd assembled for an unlawful purpose hesitates to commit itself to a course of unrestrained violence. But some of its members may perform violent acts when they think they have little chance of being apprehended and punished.


The crowd, although noisy and threatening, should be kept well in hand. If left to its own devices, the crowd is likely to commit assaults and other actions that may excite it to a mob pitch. A crowd might be converted into a mob by the following:

l Apparent weakening of the forces holding a crowd in check, even though only a momentary weakening

l A single piece of daring violence successfully carried through

l A short lecture by a fiery leader

l The appearance on the street of a conspicuous and hated figure

Civil and military officials must ensure that this transformation does not take place. The formation of a mob usually means bloodshed before order is restored.


Privacy Statement - Copyright Information. - Contact Us

Integrated Publishing, Inc. - A (SDVOSB) Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business