Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, or LRRP (pronounced and sometimes spelled "LuRP"), were special small four to six-man teams utilized in the Vietnam War on highly dangerous special operations missions deep into enemy territory.


The first ever group to be formed to provide Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) was the British Long Range Desert Group, made famous by its co-operation with the Special Air Service Regiment. In the mid to late 1960s, the U.S. Army Special Forces trained volunteer LRRP's for the purpose of locating enemy units in guerrilla warfare, as well as in artillery spotting, intelligence gathering, forward air control, and bomb damage assessment. Early in the Vietnam war long range reconnaissance patrols were performed by a limited number of infantry battalion Recon Platoons, including the Chinese Bandit Recon LRRP Team 1st Bn (ABN) 8th Cav 1965-66 which performed Department of Defense/MACV/OP-35 directed missions to locate regimental size units along both the borders of Cambodia and Laos. Later LRRP units were provisional platoon-sized units. By 1967, formal LRRP companies were organized, some having two platoons, each with eight six-man patrols. Training was notoriously rigorous. Similar missions, although more likely to be clandestine, deeper penetrating, and more like Special reconnaissance, were run in Vietnam by the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) Studies and Observation Group (SOG).

Within the U.S. Marine Corps, these missions were typically assigned to Marine Recon, especially Force Recon, units assigned to corps-level (i.e., Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF)) level, as opposed to the Battalion Recon units answering to battalion commanders.

Beginning in February 1969, all LRRPs were folded into the newly-formed 75th Rangers, bringing back operational Ranger units. The Army had disbanded Ranger units after Korea, but kept Ranger school, on the theory that spreading Ranger School graduates throughout the Army would improve overall performance.


The LRRP operated on reconnaissance and combat patrols, either obtaining highly vital intelligence, or performing highly dangerous raids and ambushes. The tactical employment of LRRPs was later evaluated to be generally used far too dangerously by strategic commanders, who were pleased by the extraordinary kill ratios for LRRPs teams (sometimes reported as high as 400 enemy troops for every LRRP killed). Their use was reconsidered and restructured into modern day Long Range Surveillance (LRS) units.

One commentator writes: "During the course of the war LuRPs conducted around 23,000 long-range patrols, of this amount two-thirds resulted in enemy sightings. LuRPs also accounted for approximately 10,000 enemy KIA through ambushes, sniping, air strikes, and calling in artillery fire." [1]

Long-range reconnaissance outside the U.S.

Other units known as LRRPs can be found in international militaries, such as the LRRP unit trained and used by the Military Intelligence in Sri Lanka. Unconfirmed reports suggest training was provided by outside entities such as the Green Berets, Navy SEALs, British SAS and the Israeli military. The LRRP has been very successful in covert operations against the LTTE in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. Its members were so successful in assassinating key LTTE figures that many LTTE leaders refused to come out of their jungle bunkers before the 2002 ceasefire was implemented. After the resumption of hostilities, it is believed that the LRRP units are conducting operations in the LTTE held northern province.[2] The LTTE has accused the Sri Lankan Deep Penetration Units of launching attacks on LTTE leaders and civilians in their areas, although the Sri Lankan Government denies any involvement in these attacks. The teams have had success against LTTE leaders such as military intelligence leader Colonel Charls and many leaders. Other success have included observing LTTE training camps and calling in air strikes. The LRRP's successes and dedicated operators have garnered a fearful reputation among the LTTE.

In Finland, the long-range reconnaissance patrols (kaukopartio) were especially notable in the Second World War.

In Finland operated ErP4, a command of four different long range patrol units (Osasto Paastalo, Osasto Kuismanen, Osasto Vehniäinen and Osasto Marttina. These special forces units did several trips to the Soviet side and conducted recon and destroy missions. For more information visit [1] (pages in English about long range patrols in Finland 1939-1945)

President of Finland Mauno Koivisto served in Lauri Törni's (Larry Thorne) unit. Lauri Törnis unit did not work under the structure of ErP4. Törnis unit was a "Ranger" unit that did difficult missions against Soviet strongholds and attacks. Lauri Törni became later a US citizen and enrolled in the army. He became a Special Forces soldier and gave US Special Forces important knowledge in long range patrolling and fighting. He died later in the Vietnam war in 1965. He was for many years MIA but his remains were found and he was buried in Arlington 26.6.2003. Rumor has it that Larry Thorne was the basis for John Wayne's character in the film The Green Berets.

The Danish Defence Forces had two Longe Range Surveillance Companies (LRSC) known as "Patrol-Companies" - one assigned to the Jyske Division (later Danish Division) and one assigned to the Land Command Zealand (Corps-level) later to the Danish Army Operational Command. The later: Patruljekompagniet was unit an all volunteer unit within the Danish Home Guard, and has now changed name into: Special Support and Reconnaissance Coy (SSR).

The NATO International Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol School (ILRRPS) [3] based at Weingarten and then Pfullendorf provided training to LRRP units from the USA, UK, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Greece, Belgium and Turkey.

See also


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