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Posted on Apr 23, 2008 in Tactics101, War College

Tactics 101: 026. Cordon and Search Operations

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Cordon and Kick – When speed and surprise are necessary then you will likely execute this method. As the name suggests, a cordon is quickly emplaced and then the Search/Assault team quickly breaches any entrances (barriers, doors, etc.) and begins the search for the targeted person or material. The objective in this method is obviously the target.

Cordon and Knock or Ask – When a kinder, gentler approach is required, then this is the preferred method. Here, speed and surprise are not paramount, while establishing rapport and building relationships are. Certainly, speed and surprise are still important, but they are sacrificed a bit to ensure legitimacy of the operation is understood by the populace. The difference between Knock and Ask is – In Knock, you are telling the occupants of the location you are conducting a search. In Ask, you are asking the occupants of the location for permission to conduct a search. Oh by the way, in Kick you are simply conducting the search – no discussion required!


Once the search area is secured the search element usually conducts the search using one of the following methods:

  • Central Assembly
  • Restriction to Homes
  • Control of Heads of Households

The central assembly method assembles inhabitants in a central location. This method provides the most control, simplifies a thorough search, denies the personnel an opportunity to conceal evidence, and allows for detailed interrogation. It has the disadvantage of taking inhabitants away from their dwellings which can provoke hostility.

Another effective way is to restrict inhabitants to their homes. This prohibits movement of civilians and allows them to stay in their dwellings. The disadvantages of this method are that it makes control and interrogation difficult and gives inhabitants time to conceal evidence.

One of the most effective methods is to control the heads of the households. The head of each household is told to remain in front of the house while everyone else in the house is brought to a central location. During the search, the head of the household accompanies the search team through the house. Disruption to the property is reduced and the head of the household sees that the search team is not stealing or damaging his property. This is the best method for controlling the populace during a search. Whichever, method is used the search team should be courteous and disrupt as little as possible when conducting the actual search. In spite of the intrusive act of searching homes, creating more hostility within the population must be avoided.

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1 Comment

  1. This was an outstanding help to my classes on CS. Thanks for publishing this peice.