Safety / Survival / Army Field Manuals / AFM 3-05.70

Chapter 20

Survival Movement In Hostile Areas


20-1. Preparation is a requirement for all missions. When planning, you must consider how to avoid capture and return to your unit. Evasion plans must be prepared in conjunction with unit standing operating procedures (SOPs) and current joint doctrine. You must also consider any courses of action (COAs) that you or your unit will take.


20-2. Successful evasion is dependent on effective prior planning. The responsibility ultimately rests on the individual concerned. Sound evasion planning should incorporate intelligence briefings—selected areas for evasion; area intelligence descriptions; E&R area studies; survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) guides and bulletins; isolated personnel reports; and an evasion plan of action (EPA).

20-3. The study and research needed to develop the EPA will make you aware of the current situation in your mission area. Your EPA will let recovery forces know your probable actions should you have to move to avoid capture.

20-4. You should start preparing even before premission planning. Portions of the EPA are the unit SOP. Include the EPA in your training. Planning starts in your daily training.

20-5. The EPA is your entire plan for your return to friendly control. It consists of five paragraphs written in the operation order format. You can take most of Paragraph I—Situation, with you on the mission. Appendix I contains the EPA format and indicates what portion of the EPA you can take on the mission.

20-6. A comprehensive EPA is a valuable asset to the soldier trapped behind enemy lines attempting to avoid capture. To complete Paragraph I, know your unit's assigned area or concentrate on potential mission areas of the world. Many open or closed sources contain the information you need to complete an EPA. Open sources may include newspapers, magazines, country or area handbooks, area studies, television, radio, internet, persons familiar with the area, and libraries. Use caution with open source information; it may be unreliable. Closed sources may include area studies, area assessments, SERE contingency guides, SECRET Internet Protocol Router Network, various classified field manuals, and intelligence reports.

20-7. Prepare your EPA in three phases. During your normal training, prepare Paragraph I—Situation. Prepare Paragraphs II, III, IV, and V during your premission planning. After deployment into an area, continually update your EPA based on situation or mission changes and intelligence updates.

20-8. The EPA is a guide. You may add or delete certain portions based on the mission. The EPA may be a recovery force's only means of determining your location and intentions after you start to evade. It is an essential tool for your survival and return to friendly control.


20-9. Your unit SOPs are valuable tools that will help you plan your EPA. When faced with a dangerous situation requiring immediate action, it is not the time to discuss options; it is the time to act. Many of the techniques used during small unit movement can be carried over to fit requirements for moving and returning to friendly control. Items from the SOP should include, but are not limited to—

  • Movement team size (three to four persons per team).

  • Team communications (technical and nontechnical).

  • Essential equipment.

  • Actions at danger areas.

  • Signaling techniques.

  • Immediate action drills.

  • Linkup procedures.

  • Helicopter recovery devices and procedures.

  • Security procedures during movement and at hide sites.

  • Rally points.

20-10. Rehearsals work effectively for reinforcing these SOP skills and also provide opportunities for evaluation and improvement.


20-11. An isolated unit has several general COAs it can take to avoid the capture of the group or individuals. These COAs are not courses the commander can choose instead of his original mission. He cannot arbitrarily abandon the assigned mission. Rather, he may adopt these COAs after completing his mission when his unit cannot complete its assigned mission (because of combat power losses) or when he receives orders to extract his unit from its current position. If such actions are not possible, the commander may decide to have the unit try to move to avoid capture and return to friendly control. In either case, as long as there is communication with higher headquarters, that headquarters will make the decision.

20-12. If the unit commander loses contact with higher headquarters, he must make the decision to move or wait. He bases his decision on many factors, including the mission, rations and ammunition on hand, casualties, the chance of relief by friendly forces, and the tactical situation. The commander of an isolated unit faces other questions. What COA will inflict maximum damage on the enemy? What COA will assist in completing the higher headquarters' overall mission?

20-13. Movement teams conduct the execution portion of the plan when notified by higher headquarters or, if there is no contact with higher headquarters, when the highest ranking person decides that the situation requires the unit to try to escape capture or destruction. Movement team leaders receive their notification through prebriefed signals. Once the signal to try to avoid capture is given, it must be passed rapidly to all personnel. Notify higher headquarters, if possible. If unable to communicate with higher headquarters, leaders must recognize that organized resistance has ended, and that organizational control has ceased. Command and control is now at the movement team or individual level and is returned to higher organizational control only after reaching friendly lines.

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All text and images from the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.70: Survival.
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