Escape & Evasion Operations, Part One A

This is Part One A of Escape and Evasion Operations.  Part One B can be found here.

Escape and Evasion (E&E) operations are a traditional task of Special Forces in the Unconventional Warfare (UW) paradigm. It is also a historically critical resistance operation. Much of the following section of this discussion will revolve around the doctrinal theory behind E&E operations, with much more specific details to follow in sequel articles.

E&E operations consist of five essential tasks that must be completed simultaneously and/or in sequence. These tasks consist of Report, Locate, Support, Recover, Repatriate.


Reporting the loss of a missing operator is critical to initiate recovery activities. Whether it is the isolated individual/evader who initially reports his separation or an individual/element that witnessed his separation; the timely, accurate reporting of who went missing, where, and under what circumstances will be critical to the effectiveness of E&E networks utilization. While the DoD utilizes specific formats for reporting missing personnel, for an irregular network this may take the form of a simple encrypted phone call or email detailing which evasion plan the evader is initiating, where he was separated at, and what near and far recognition signals he will utilize and/or respond to.


Although most of us will necessarily believe ourselves limited to unassisted E&E, the development now of solid networks, and the educated development of E&E networks, can facilitate the future ability to assist evaders by locating them within their planned evasion corridors and assisting their escape and eventual repatriation to friendly force controlled-areas. Effective location operations are predicated on accurate, timely execution of reporting. Efforts to locate evading personnel must begin with their last known location. While DoD operations utilize electronic detection, visual systems, and ground sensor systems, Big Green can afford to use these expensive, highly developed technical methods because they possess technical superiority in the battlespace. If your local organization intends to develop its ability to function as a recovery element, you will need the ability to locate a guy who is actively trying to avoid being located, within a specified evasion corridor, even if you miss a planned link-up. This will require advanced skills in man-tracking, fieldcraft, and other elements of physical ground searches, as well as normal small-unit tactical expertise.


Support operations in E&E are defined as all planned efforts to mentally, physically, and emotionally in support evading personnel until recovery can be affected. Support systems must be established, validated, and disseminated to personnel that may be isolated in that specific operational area, so they know what resources are available to them. For resistance personnel, these efforts may range from knowledge of the location of specific safehouses and caches, to the contact instructions for specified auxiliary personnel who may be able to provide transportation and/or guidance to either caches, safehouses, or other resistance personnel. It may even be as simple as resistance personnel developing a way to broadcast messages of support for evading personnel to maintain morale. The knowledge that, in the event they are isolated, there will be support for their recovery, will go a long way towards building individual operators confidence in executing hazardous operations.


Recovery is the return of evading personnel to friendly force control, with or without assistance. This can only be accomplished through effective, realistic planning, operations, and individual actions on the part of the evaders, recovery personnel, and the operational planners. These skills can only be developed through training beforehand. That means you should be developing your networks and even “running” evasion/recovery training exercises now.


Repatriation is the return of the evader to their previous life, or an acceptable alternative. This effort covers medical treatment and rehabilitation in safe areas, debriefings of lessons learned and intelligence gathered, psychological support, and more. (I KNOW there will be readers who will throw out the whole, “We’re guerrillas, we can’t be worried about silly, sissy shit like that! We’re just going to live in the woods forever.” Those readers are wrong and borderline retarded.)

John Mosby is a former Army Ranger and Green Beret, and the author of the Mountain Guerrilla blog.

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