What We Do
Like our historic predecessor Regiments from which we evolved, the modern day Rangers work as scouts.
The Reserve armoured units of the Canadian Forces, including The Queen’s York Rangers, are designated as armoured reconnaissance units.
Armoured reconnaissance is all about gathering information in order to enable decision making by commanders. Military Commanders need the most timely and accurate picture of the battlefield in order to gain an advantage, so scouting organizations gather information on the terrain with regards to movement and visibility, information about threats and hazards, and information about what the enemy is – or isn’t - doing. Armoured reconnaissance Squadrons deploy ahead of the Battle Groups and Brigades they work for in order to gather and report this information so that the commanders of those formations may make the best informed decisions possible.
FUNDAMENTALS OF RECONNAISSANCE
As described in the cornerstone Army publication B-GL-394-002-FP-001, Ground Manoeuvre Reconnaissance, there are ten fundamentals of the trade that Rangers must always keep in mind:
- RECONNAISSANCE ASSETS ARE NOT TO BE MAINTAINED IN RESERVE. Recce assets, like fire support assets, are never to be kept in reserve. All recce assets should be actively employed in the conduct of recce because these assets are complementary and enhance each other’s effectiveness. When conducting recce operations, the commander uses all of his resources to accomplish the mission and achieve the maximum coverage needed to answer information requirements (IRs).
- ENSURE CONTINUOUS RECONNAISSANCE. Before an operation, recce assets can provide valuable information by answering information requirements identified during intelligence preparation of the battlespace, and enabling selection of a manoeuvre course of action. During the operation, recce assets may provide recce “push” by collecting updated information on adversary compositions, dispositions, and intentions. Recce units then send this information to the commander so he can to undertake appropriate decisions. After operations, recce can maintain contact with the adversary to enable the commander and friendly forces to exploit success or initiate planning for subsequent operations.
- ORIENT ON THE RECONNAISSANCE OBJECTIVE. Recce units will focus their efforts on a specific (i.e., critical) zone, area, or objective for which information is needed. A recce objective is defined as a terrain feature, geographic area, infrastructure (defined by an encompassing graphic control measure), and/or it may be a specific threat or society-based objective (e.g., civilian patterns of life of persons of interest not as closely tied to specific terrain) about which a commander wants to obtain additional information. It clarifies the intent of the recce effort by specifying the most important result that the recce is to accomplish.
- REPORT ALL INFORMATION RAPIDLY, ACCURATELY AND COMPLETELY. Recce units must acquire and report the information they collect with accuracy and timeliness. Combat information is extremely time-sensitive and loses relevance quickly as it ages. If information is not passed quickly and accurately to the right element, opportunities may be missed or wrong decisions made. Recce soldiers must report what they see, keeping in mind that the absence of certain activities may be just as important as those that are occurring. Seemingly unimportant information may be extremely critical in the larger picture.
- MAINTAIN ACCURATE COMMUNCIATIONS. Recce elements without highly reliable communication and information systems are useless. Commanders’ decisions may be based upon information reported by a single recce patrol, and therefore to be of value, information must always be timely, accurate, and complete.
- RETAIN FREEDOM TO MANOEUVRE. Retaining the ability to manoeuvre is essential in recce operations. By executing stealthy recce that answers information requirements, recce units ensure the freedom to manoeuvre of the friendly force by detecting and reporting on the adversary’s disposition. Likewise, recce ensures their own freedom to manoeuvre by focusing on stealthy recce and avoiding the temptation to fight unless required to do so.
- GAIN AND MAINTAIN ADVERSARY CONTACT. Continuous contact (i.e., visual or sensory) with the adversary or recce objective is critical for effective information collection. Once recce assets make contact, they must maintain it—unless the survival of the element is at risk —until ordered to break contact or until successful handover to another observer has occurred.
- DEVELOP THE SITUATION IN AND OUT OF CONTACT. When a recce unit encounters an adversary force or an obstacle, it must quickly collect information about the threat it faces. The recce assets must continuously provide commanders with the information and intelligence required to effectively manoeuvre forces to deal decisively with the threat. How this is accomplished depends entirely upon an assessment of the tactical situation on the ground. It may take time to manoeuvre or reposition assets to better observe the threat. Once a threat force is identified, the recce element in contact determines its size, composition, disposition, location, and direction of travel, activities, and likely intentions.
- STEALTH. The importance of good observation techniques, while utilizing all available assets without being observed, is essential for the accomplishment of the recce mission. Unless recce assets have been specifically tasked to conduct their mission using an overt posture, they will always attempt to employ stealth so the adversary will not detect their information gathering activities.
- AVOID DECISIVE ENGAGEMENT. As recce forces are not optimized to carry out large-scale close combat missions, decisive engagements with the adversary should be avoided. Whenever possible, information must be gained by stealth. However, situations will arise where recce has to employ direct and/or indirect fire in self-defence and for extraction purposes. Recce and aggressive direct combat are mutually exclusive concepts. This is unequivocally true for lighter recce units such as infantry recce platoons that generally lack armour. Even medium weight recce elements such as Coyote-based armoured recce troops are not optimized for direct combat roles. Recce units employed in a direct combat role (e.g., assaulting adversary positions, seizing terrain, raiding buildings) are not conducting recce for the commander. Combat information will certainly result from such actions, but this is more than offset by what is lost in terms of vehicles destroyed, casualties incurred, and other recce missions neglected.
Soldiers of The Queen’s York Rangers have served on operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia, Somalia, Namibia, and Cyprus. Most recently, approximately one – third of the Unit has served in Afghanistan over various rotations.