BST Infantry Skills – Conduct Observation

Conduct observation

 Training Support Package (TSP) for the Marine Battle Skills Test (BST)


TASK: Conduct observation

CONDITION: Given an area to observe

STANDARD: Detect anomalies


ESTIMATED TIME TO TEST: 5 minutes per Marine 


  1. Perform a hasty search
  2. Perform a detailed search
  3. Describe how to build Sector Sketch
  4. Describe how to maintain observation


  1. MCTP 3-01A – Scouting and Patrolling
  2. MCWP 3-15.3 – Sniping

SUPPORT REQUIREMENTS: An area to observe

PERFORMANCE STEP 1: Conduct a hasty search.

Hasty Search.  The hasty search technique is the first phase of observing a target area.  Immediately upon occupying a position, the observer conducts a hasty search for any enemy activity.  The search should take no longer than 10 seconds.  The actions of the observer are as follows:

  1. The observer makes quick glances at specific points, terrain features, or other areas that could conceal the enemy. The observer should not sweep their eyes across the terrain in one continuous movement.  This will prevent them from detecting movement.
  1. The observer should view the area closest to their position first since this can pose as an immediate threat.
  1. The observer makes the search either unaided or aided with the assistance of optics (i.e. RCO), making quick overlapping glances from right to left at points throughout the area. The observer should focus on his peripheral vision to detect motion.
  1. If available, the observer can use binoculars. They provide the observer with a wider range of view as compared to a high powered optic.

PERFORMANCE STEP 2: Conduct a detailed search.

Detailed Search. After the hasty search, the observer starts a detailed search using the overlapping strip method.  Normally, the area closest to the observer offers the greatest danger; therefore, the search should begin there.

  1. The observer systematically searches the terrain from their right flank in a 180-degree arc, 50 meters in depth.
  1. The observer then starts a detailed search using the overlapping strip method. The search should be in overlapping strips of at least 10 meters to ensure total coverage of the area.
  1. One of the dangers of detailed searches is focus lock, where the observer becomes fixated on an object. To prevent focus lock it is important to maintain peripheral vision.
  1. The observer should use any available optics to examine obstacles, such as bushes and shadows, to gain a clear picture of what is lying beyond the obstacle.

PERFORMANCE STEP 3: Describe a Sector Sketch

Sector Sketch.  After initial searches have been completed, the observer should begin to develop a sector sketch as a reference to pass on to the relief.  A sector sketch should give all necessary information of what the Marine observes, such as terrain, man-made features, enemy activity, etc.  In order to properly develop a sector sketch, the observer must know how to properly range estimate or use a compass.

  1. Range Estimation. Range estimation is a method to find the distance between an observer and an enemy target or an object. At times, because of the tactical situation, it may be necessary to estimate range.  The degree of accuracy is dependent upon several factors, such as terrain relief, time available, and experience of the observer.
  1. Utilizing a Lensatic Compass. The best method of finding direction, both during the day and night, is with a compass. It is necessary for a Marine to be able to utilize a compass to get the direction of the enemy not only for sector sketches but also for targeting.

PERFORMANCE STEP 4: Maintain observation.

Maintaining Observation. The observer must memorize as much as possible.  The Marine should make mental notes of prominent terrain features and other areas that may offer cover and concealment for the enemy.  These become the key points of interests for searches.  The process of maintaining observation is as follows:

  1. The cycle of a hasty search, followed by a detailed search, should be repeated every 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon the terrain and area of responsibility.
  1. Marines should alternate observers approximately every 20 to 30 minutes. When maintaining observation, the observer keeps movement of his head and body to a minimum.  Marines should not expose their heads any higher than is necessary to see the area being observed.


Conduct observation

Evaluation checklist





SUPPORT REQUIREMENTS: An area to observe

EVALUATOR NOTE: Marines must answer or perform all the questions below without error in order to pass this event. The evaluator will guide the Marine being tested through the checklist by asking questions.


Performance StepInstructor NotesPass or Remediate
1. Conduct a hasty search1. Marine should quickly glance at an area and state key terrain features and areas that could conceal the enemy

2. View area closest to their position first

3. Make quick overlapping glances

2. Conduct a detailed search1. Marine should observe from right to left in 180 degree arc, 50 meters in depth using overlapping strip method

2. State any anomalies

3. Avoid focus lock

3. Describe how to build a sector sketch1. Marine should stat the sector sketch should include terrain, man-made features, and enemy activity

2. Use range estimation techniques to determine distances

3. Should use compass to determine directions

4. Describe how to maintain observation


1. Hasty searches followed by detailed searches should be repeated every 15 to 20 minutes

2. Marines should alternate observers approximately every 20 to 30 minutes

3.  Keep movement to a minimum and do not unnecessarily expose their body.



Conduct observation Training Support Package (TSP) for the Marine Battle Skills Test (BST)