Chapter 14


Land navigation is a skill that is highly perishable. The soldier must continually make use of the skills he has acquired to remain proficient in them. The institution is responsible for instruction in the basic techniques of land navigation. The institution tests these skills each time a soldier attends a leadership course. However, it is the unit’s responsibility to develop a program to maintain proficiency in these skills between institution courses. The unit sustainment program provides training that builds on and reinforces the skills the soldier learned in the institution. It should use the building-block approach to training: basic map reading instruction or review, instruction on land navigation skills, dead reckoning training, dead reckoning practice, terrain association training, terrain association practice, land navigation testing, and building of leader skills. These leader skills should include following a route selected by the commander and planning and following a route selected by the leader. The unit trainer should be able to set up a sustainment program, a train-the-trainer program, and a land navigation course for his unit’s use. It is recommended that units develop a program similar to the one outlined in this chapter. Complete lesson outlines and training plans are available by writing to Commander, 29th Infantry Regiment, ATTN: ATSH-INB-A, Fort Benning, GA 31905-5595.


The purpose of setting up a sustainment program in the unit is to provide soldiers with training that reinforces and builds on the training that they have received in the institution. All soldiers should receive this training at least twice a year. The program also provides the unit with a means of identifying the areas in which the soldiers need additional training.

a. Training Guidance. The unit commander must first determine the levels of proficiency and problems that his unit has in land navigation. This determination can be done through after-action reports from the unit’s rotations to NTC/JRTC, ARTEP final reports, feedback from his subordinates, personal observation, and annual training. Once the unit commander decides where his training time should be concentrated, he can issue his training guidance to his subordinate leaders. He also directs his staff to provide training sites, resources, and time for the units to train land navigation. It is recommended that land navigation be trained separately, not just included as a subtask in tactical training.

b. Certification. The unit commander must also provide his subordinate commanders with a means of certifying training. The unit staff must provide subject matter experts to ensure the training meets the standards decided upon by the unit commander. Instructors should be certified to instruct, and courses should be certified before the unit uses it.

c. Program Development. The sustainment program should meet the requirements of all of the unit’s soldiers. It should address all skills from basic map reading to leaders’ planning and executing a route. The program should cover the following:

The sustainment program should be developed and then maintained in the unit’s training files. The program should be developed in training modules so that it can be used as a whole program or used separately by individual modules. It should be designed so the commander can decide which training modules he will use, depending on the proficiency of the unit. The unit commander need only use those modules that fit his training plan.


The purpose of a train the trainer program in the unit is to develop trainers capable of providing soldiers with the confidence and skills necessary to accomplish all assigned land navigation tasks.

a. Development of the Program. The unit commander should appoint a cadre of officers and NCOs to act as primary and alternate instructors for land navigation training. Use the training modules the unit has developed and have these soldiers go through each module of training until they can demonstrate expertise. Determine which instructors conduct each module of training and have them practice until they are fully prepared to give the training. These instructors act as training cadre for the entire unit. They train their peers to instruct the subordinate units, and they certify each unit’s training.

b. Conduct of Training. Conduct training at the lowest level possible. Leaders must be included in all training to keep unit integrity intact.


The unit commander provides specific guidance on what he requires in the development of a land navigation course. It depends upon the unit’s mission, training plan, and tasks to be trained. There are basic guidelines to use when setting up a course.

a. Determine the Standards. The unit commander determines the standards for the course. Recommended standards are as follows:

(1)   Distance between points: no less than 300 meters; no more than 1,200 meters.

(2)   Total distance of lanes: no less than 2,700 meters; no more than 11,000 meters.

(3)   Total number of position stakes: no less than seven for each lane; no more than nine for each lane.

(4)   Time allowed: no less than three hours; no more than four hours.

b. Decide on the Terrain. The unit should use terrain that is similar to terrain they will be using in tactical exercises. Terrain should be different each time training is conducted; the training area for a dismounted course needs to be at least 25 square kilometers. Mounted courses require twice as much terrain so that vehicles are not too close to each other.

c. Perform a Map and Ground Reconnaissance. Check the terrain to determine position stake locations, look for hazards, and to develop training briefings.

(1)   Plot the locations of your position stakes on a 1:50,000-scale map.

(2)   Fabricate or order position stakes.

(3)   Request support from the local engineer or field artillery unit to survey the position stakes in.

(4)   Survey the position stakes in and emplace them.

(5)   Certify the course by having your SMEs negotiate each lane of the course.

(6)   Prepare course requirement sheets and print them.

(7)   Complete a risk assessment of the training area.

(8)   Begin teaching.

This sequence can be used to develop any type of land navigation course. The difference in each course depends on the commander’s guidance.

Land Navigation Training Software