BST Infantry Skills – Identify Anomalies

 Identify anomalies

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

 TASK: Identify anomalies

CONDITION: Given an area to observe

STANDARD: To determine if the anomalies are threats.


ESTIMATED TIME TO TEST: 15 minutes per Marine


  1. Conduct observation
  2. Establish a baseline
  3. Detect anomaly/anomalies
  4. Identify behavioral domains
  5. Report observation
  1. MCIP 3-02.1i – Combat Hunter
  2. MCTP 3-01A – Scouting and Patrolling

PERFORMANCE STEP 1: Conduct observation.

The purpose of observation is to gather facts and provide information for a specific intent. Information gathered by the individual Marine is reported, analyzed, and processed into intelligence for use by the commander. Observation utilizes a procedure identified as the six recognition factors of observation — realize, recognize, record, recall, respond, and reassess:

  1. Realize. To realize is to understand what is to be accomplished, such as the goal, objective, or mission.
  1. Recognize. To recognize is to identify the importance of the task and the risk or effort involved.
  1. Record. To record is the ability to save and recall what was observed. Usually, the observer has mechanical aids, such as writing utensils, logbooks, sketch kits, tape recordings, and cameras to support the recording of events. The most accessible method is memory. The ability to record, retain, and recall depends upon the observer’s mental capacity.
  1. Recall. Recall the most important details for identification or assessment.
  1. Respond. To respond is to act appropriately, based upon assessment of the situation. Response is the observer’s action toward information. It may be as simple as recording events, making a communications call, or firing a well-aimed shot.
  1. Reassess. To reassess is to re-evaluate by critically analyzing the goal or mission, information gathered, action taken, and results of participation.

Observation techniques include the hasty search, the detailed search, identifying the baseline, and maintaining observation.

  1. Hasty Search. The hasty search technique is the first phase of observing a target area. Immediately upon occupying his 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 his eyes across the terrain in one continuous movement. This will prevent him from detecting movement.
  1. The observer should view the area closest to his 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.
  1. 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 his right flank in a 180-degree arc, 50 meters in depth.
  1. The observer then starts a detailed search using the overlapping strip method 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 burn through obstacles, such as bushes and shadows, to gain a clear picture of what is lying beyond the obstacle.
  1. 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 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. 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 his prey not only for tracking but also for targeting.

PERFORMANCE STEP 2: Establish a baseline.

Everything has a baseline, especially the human environment. A baseline is an initial set of critical observations or data. As a Marine observes an area, he will create a baseline by looking at the current situation, context and relevance of his observation, and then compare that to file folders and enemy tactics, techniques and procedures. Baselines are used to establish what is normal for comparison at another time. A baseline is dynamic and will continually evolve.

The observer must memorize as much as possible. He 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. He should not expose his head any higher than is necessary to see the area being observed.
Combat Profiling. 

Combat profiling is a method of proactively identifying enemy personnel or threats through human behavior pattern analysis and recognition. Combat profiling is a tool Marines can use to progress through the OODA Loop process and influence actions at all levels of command. Combat profiling equips Marines with a more thorough understanding into human behavior and the ability to read the human environment. The process of creating, updating, and maintaining a combat profile is time-consuming, but necessary. By understanding how to properly profile, a Marine can increase his survivability by identifying indicators that allow Marines to act first, survive to fight, and fight to win.

PERFORMANCE STEP 3: Detect anomaly/anomalies.

An anomaly is an observation that rises above or falls below the baseline. Examples of an anomaly could be a vehicle out of place, the lack of or presence of people, or a sudden change in the mood of an area. The presence of such anomalies may indicate a potentially important change. Every anomaly must be analyzed.

PERFORMANCE STEP 4: Identify behavioral domains.

To refine observation and profiling skills Marines should become familiar with the 6 Domains of Human Behavior:

  1. Heuristics. Heuristics are an advanced method of mentally imprinting and labeling observed behaviors. Heuristics are stereotypes, a ‘Tactical Shortcut’ that is RIGHT more than it is WRONG. For example, “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, and lays eggs – it’s a duck”. That is an example of a ‘Heuristic’.
  1. Proxemics. Proxemics is the amount of space that people feel is necessary to set between themselves and others. It deals with how humans use space in communication. Proximity negates skill, or, the closer your enemy is to you the less skill they need to kill you or blow you up.
  1. Geographic’s. Geographic’s, or the human environment, is the study of the physical geography, weather, and the human environment within that area. It can also include the interpretation of the relationships between people and their physical surroundings. People who are familiar with the geographics of an area will act, walk, and drive differently than persons who are unfamiliar with the area.  The enemy looks for places to blend in.
  1. Atmospherics. Atmosphere is how a place sounds, tastes, feels, smells, etc. Every baseline has an atmosphere. So does every vehicle, crowd or event.  Paying attention to changes in atmosphere will allow you to capture or kill enemy before they can stage an attack. For example, shops closing as your patrol approaches; a very subtle change would be fewer children than normal in a particular area.
  1. Kinesics (Body Language). Individual body language is communication without speaking. Most often, we cannot control our own individual body language and are unaware that we are exhibiting a certain behavior. Often, the harder we try to hide it, the more evident this body language becomes. Kinesics, or nonverbal language, is the interpretation of body movements, gestures, and facial expressions as a means of communication. Examples of interpreting body language as kinesics include:

Scratching the head occurs when the person is confused and is attempting to be deceptive.

Balling of the fists can signify anger and aggression.

  1. Biometrics. Biometric cues are the interpretation of physiological reactions. They are instinctive reactions to a stimulus. Histamines, adrenaline, and endorphins all elicit a human body response, such as redness, swelling, sweating, and fixed pupils. These cues are biological and physiological which in-turn makes them impossible to hide. Studying these indicators can warn you of aggression.

Combat Rules of Three. In most cases, a single cue is not enough to make a decision, unless that cue is an immediate threat to the Marine (i.e., the inherent right to self-defense). When three anomalies are detected a rational decision must be made to address the situation.

PERFORMANCE STEP 5: Report observation.

It is imperative an observer can accurately and completely report who, where, when and what was observed to the proper authority upon mission completion. In most cases, a scout will not be equipped with a radio. Some basic principles to recording and reporting are listed below:

  1. Once Marines gather important information, it is crucial that it be passed to higher.
  1. Marines must be able to generate reports and express themselves in an articulate manner.
  1. In time-sensitive situations, the verbal report or short text message may be the most expeditious method.
  1. Whether oral, written, or graphic, intelligence products should use standard formats whenever possible.
  1. Reports should detail enemy’s size, activities, location, composition, equipment, and intent.


Identify anomalies

Evaluation Checklist






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 Step Instructor Notes Pass or Remediate
1. Conduct observation.



The Marine should state four of the six recognition factors of observation:

1.     Realize

2.     Recognize

3.     Reassess

4.     Recall

5.     Respond

6.     Record

2. Establish a baseline.



The Marine should describe how to establish an initial  baseline.  Baselines are created after an observing an area or situation.  They should include the context and relevance of an observation and compare it to enemy tactics and/or changes in the environment.  
3. Detect anomalies


The Marine should define an anomaly.  Anomalies are observations that rise above or fall below the baseline.  In other words, something that is out of the ordinary.   
4. Identify behavioral domains The Marine should state four of the six behavioral domains:

1.     Heuristics

2.     Proxemics

3.     Geographics

4.     Atmospherics

5.     Kinesics (Body Language)

6.     Biometrics

5. Report observation



The Marine should understand that they are obligated to make timely and accurate reports of observations to their higher headquarters.  

 Identify anomalies

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