by Capt Luis R. Perez
The location of your patrol base (PB) is arguably the single most important factor in determining how effective your position will be when conducting counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in southern Afghanistan. In conventional terms, to seize and hold an objective you need to physically occupy it. If, as in the case of COIN in Afghanistan, you define your primary objective as the people rather than a piece of physical terrain, then you need to be collocated with the people to seize and hold the objective. This being said, just as you do with physical terrain in conventional operations, you will need to determine what the key human terrain is. This may not be readily apparent to you, especially if you receive a turnover from a unit with limited experience in the area or if you are assuming responsibility for a battlespace that does not offer a unit with which to conduct a turnover. In fact, it took me over 4 months to determine exactly where a squad-sized PB would be most effective within my platoon's area of operations (AO). What follows are the main highlights and lessons learned associated with the steps that led to the establishment of PB Outcast, how operations were conducted within and outside the PB, the role the PB played in building our unit's intelligence picture, and the command and control concept from within and outside the PB.
Much more over at the MCG