A Start Point (SP) is a well defined point on a route at which a movement of elements begins to be under the control of the commander of this movement. At this point, the column is formed by the successive passing of the units. The Start Point is one of the three Primary NATO Movement Control Measures together with the Checkpoint (CP) and the Release Point (RP).
NATO APP-6 Definition:
Start Points (normally in conjunction with Checkpoints and a final Release Point) are normally designated for any longer mounted or dismounted, road or off-road march. Start Points provide all units of a march column a common point for starting their movement. When units use more than one route, each route has a start point. The SP is a place along the route of march that is easily recognizable on the map and on the ground. An SP should be far enough from assembly areas to allow units to be organized and to be moving at the prescribed speed and interval when the SP is reached. No element of a march column should be required to march to the rear or through another unit in order to reach the SP.
Depending on METT-TC before starting a march, each march unit of a serial reconnoiters its route to the start point and determines the exact time to reach it. The movement order states the time that the serial will arrive at and clear its start point. The serial commander then determines and announces the times for march units of his serial to arrive at and clear the start point. Arrival time at the start point is critical. Each march unit must arrive at and clear the start point on time; otherwise, movement of other elements may be delayed.
When selecting a location for a Start Point the following criteria are generally critical:
- Easily identifiable Point on the Ground
As with most terrain-based control measures, a Start Point should be placed on an easily recognizable point on the ground that is also found on the map, ideally on or next to a prominent terrain feature such as a road intersection, building, road sign etc.
- Enough space to maneuver from last position
The Start Point should be placed far enough away from the last-occupied position (typically the Assembly Area) so that units have enough space to initiate movement and adopt their Order of Movement and movement formation.