The RSTA Squadron: Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition

My unit proudly supports one of the coolest missions around (besides aviation, in my opinion): The Cavalry. My squadron is a RSTA Squadron, which stands for Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition. The Squadron consists of a headquarters troop (HHT), A and B Troop (which are mounted units), C Troop (dismounted and snipers), and D Company (my unit, the Forward Support Company).

The RSTA Squadron is a brigade asset, meaning, they are the reconnaissance team (eyes and ears) for the rest of the brigade. Given that Oregon is home to the 41st IBCT, we have a different setup than, say, a Stryker brigade or a HBCT. Therefore, all my information will come from the perspective of how the RSTA integrates into the IBCT.

The majority of the Soldiers within the Squadron are 19D, and there are also 11B and 11C (mortars). HHT has other MOS assigned to it, such as signal, intel, medics, etc. The FSC has mechanics, truck drivers, fuelers, and cooks.   The majority of my time has been spent working with C Trp, who has mortarmen, snipers, Zodiacs (Combat Rubber Raiding Craft), and even a UAV.

The mounted Troops consist of 19D, and conduct gunnery tables in order to stay proficient at the crew, section, and platoon levels. The dismounted unit, who are 11B and 11C, combine infantry skills with scout skills and practice mission planning, insertion, infiltration, execution, exfiltration and extraction routinely.  They schedule the coolest training, to include helocasting and missions separate from the rest of the squadron.

Troopers should be proficient at area, zone, and route reconnaissance. Essential skills include reporting procedures, target acquisition, ability to discern equipment and vehicles, navigation, and communication. The ability to move tactically and remain unseen is vital. RSTA Troopers should be able to give the commander a better picture of their battlefield with essential information about the enemy.

A good course for staff NCOs and junior officers to attend would be the Army Reconnaissance Course (ARC), taught at Fort Benning and geared toward platoon leadership as it pertains to the modular force. This is definitely a course I would recommend and wish that I could attend.

Final Thoughts: The CAV is one of the best missions in the Army and I am happy to support it.  If You Ain’t Cav…

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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3 thoughts on “The RSTA Squadron: Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition”

  1. Candace Ginestar


    My impression is that it isn’t a tomato-tomoto deal. LRS is similar, but different. From what I have learned, LRS is airborne infantry and all LRS is airborne capable, whereas RSTA is a cavalry asset and only select squadrons are airborne capable. Also, I have read that LRS leaders are required to be rangers, etc whereas RSTA leadership is not. LRS seems to me to be more directly descended from the LRRP units back in the day. LRS falls under the R&S squadron, which is a part of the Battlefield Surveillance Brigade (seems to be mostly intel, whereas RSTA is obviously all cav all day). I see RSTA to be more short range, less comprehensive – LRS to be long range (obviously) and much more specialized in their requirements.

  2. Even as an Armor Officer, (being mostly heavy my whole career) I have some confusion when it comes to RSTA and LRS. What is the difference? As I understand their mission is the roughly the same. Is it just you say tomato I say tomoto kind of deal or are they under a different task org?

  3. Candace,

    This sounds like a great unit to be affiliated with. We had a RSTA Squadron in our brigade and I truthfully never knew what their mission was. Thanks for enlightening me.


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