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Advance guard

Definition The advance guard is a forward-deployed military unit or force tasked with reconnaissance, security, and protecting the main body of troops during movement. Its primary function is to detect enemy threats, engage and delay them, and communicate critical information to the main force. This allows the main body to maintain a secure and stable […]


The advance guard is a forward-deployed military unit or force tasked with reconnaissance, security, and protecting the main body of troops during movement. Its primary function is to detect enemy threats, engage and delay them, and communicate critical information to the main force. This allows the main body to maintain a secure and stable position or to adequately prepare for upcoming engagements.

Key Takeaways

  1. An advance guard is a group of selected military personnel that moves ahead of the main force to gather information, secure important positions, and address potential threats.
  2. Its primary objectives are to maintain the momentum of the attack, facilitate secure and rapid movement for the main force, and prevent the enemy from using delaying tactics effectively.
  3. Advance guards are typically composed of reconnaissance, infantry, mechanized or armored units, and are often supported by air and artillery assets to carry out their missions effectively.


The term “advance guard” is important in military operations as it refers to the strategic deployment of a smaller, forward unit of troops operating ahead of the main force.

Their primary function is to secure the route, scout for potential threats or ambushes, and gather intelligence about enemy activities.

By doing so, the advance guard plays a crucial role in ensuring the safe and efficient movement of the main military force, helping to enhance overall operational success.

By acting as the first line of defense, the advance guard not only mitigates risks to the main force but also contributes to keeping the element of surprise on their side, which can significantly influence the outcome of military encounters.


The primary purpose of an advance guard is to provide effective reconnaissance and security for a larger military force during movement. When a military unit is on the move, it relies on the advance guard to ensure the safety and unobstructed progress of the main force.

The advance guard moves ahead of the main body, gathering critical intelligence, identifying and neutralizing any potential threats, clearing obstacles, and maintaining contact with friendly forces. By doing so, the advance guard enables the main force to make sound tactical decisions and achieve strategic objectives with minimum interference or adversary engagement.

One of the key responsibilities of an advance guard is to deter any enemy advancements and prevent unexpected confrontations. This is achieved by skillful deployment of scouts, screening patrols, and maintaining a strong forward presence, forcing the enemy to slow their approach or reconsider their plans.

Additionally, the advance guard may play a crucial role in shaping the battlefield, actively engaging in combat where required, or establishing a defensive perimeter to secure the terrain for the main body. Ultimately, the purpose of an advance guard is to facilitate the successful execution of military operations by providing a secure environment for the force to maneuver and conduct its mission.

Examples of Advance guard

Operation Overlord – D-Day Landings (June 6, 1944): During World War II, the Allies executed Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious invasion in history, with the goal of establishing a beachhead in Normandy, France. Advance guard units, such as pathfinders and paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, were crucial to the success of the operation. They were dropped behind enemy lines the night before the main assault to secure key objectives, destroy communication lines, and disrupt German defenses, providing an essential opening for the main Allied forces to establish a foothold on the beaches.

Battle of Trenton (December 26, 1776): During the American Revolutionary War, General George Washington planned a surprise attack against the British forces and their Hessian allies stationed in Trenton, New Jersey. An advance guard unit, led by Lieutenant Colonel John Glover, successfully crossed the icy Delaware River and secured the landing site, enabling the main Continental Army forces to cross and carry out a decisive victory against their opponents. The advance guard’s role in securing the element of surprise ultimately contributed to the morale boost and strategic gains that Washington’s Army needed.

Operation Desert Storm (January 17 – February 28, 1991): As part of the Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm was initiated by a coalition of nations, led by the United States, to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion. As part of the Coalition’s efforts to weaken the Iraqi military presence in Kuwait, advance guard units from the U.S. Special Forces, such as Delta Force and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, infiltrated deep behind enemy lines to gather intelligence, carry out reconnaissance, and launch surgical strikes on Iraqi targets. These advance guard actions helped to shape the battlefield and paved the way for the main Coalition force to move in and complete the objective of liberating Kuwait.

FAQ: Advance Guard

1. What is an advance guard?

An advance guard refers to a separate unit consisting of troops and vehicles that goes ahead of the main body of a military force. Its primary roles are to help ensure the security and preparedness of the main body, as well as to scout for potential threats and obstacles while searching for a suitable campsite.

2. What is the purpose of an advance guard?

The purpose of an advance guard is to protect the main force from sudden enemy attacks, perform reconnaissance, and facilitate the smooth movement of the primary army. By accomplishing these tasks, the advance guard helps maintain the safety and effectiveness of the overall military operation.

3. How is an advance guard structured?

An advance guard typically consists of several key elements, such as forward security elements, main guard elements, and reserve elements. These components work together to fulfill the advance guard’s mission. The exact structure and composition of an advance guard may vary depending on the specific mission, type of military force, and the expected challenges of the operation.

4. Is an advance guard only used for ground forces?

While advance guards are most commonly associated with ground forces, similar concepts exist in other branches of the military. For example, naval forces may deploy scouting vessels ahead of the main fleet, and air forces may use forward air controllers or scouts to assess the situation and relay information back to the main force.

5. What are the benefits of having an advance guard?

Having an advance guard provides several benefits. It allows the main body of troops to focus on their primary objectives without worrying about immediate security concerns. Through reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, an advance guard can identify potential threats and help the main force better plan and adapt to evolving situations. Advance guards also help establish secure locations for rest and resupply, improving the overall efficiency of military operations.

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