A rehearsal is the act or process of practicing an action in preparation for the actual performance of that action. Rehearsing key combat actions allows participants to become familiar with the operation and to translate the relatively dry recitation of the tactical plan into a visual impression. This visual impression assists them in orienting themselves to their environment and to other units during the execution of the operation. Moreover, the repetition of combat tasks during the rehearsal leaves a lasting mental picture of the sequence of key actions within the operation. Rehearsals also provide a forum for subordinate units and leaders to analyze the tactical plan to ascertain its feasibility, common sense, and the adequacy of its command and control measures before it is too late. To be effectively and efficiently employed in combat, rehearsals must become habitual in training. All units at every level should routinely train and practice a variety of rehearsal techniques. Local SOPs should identify appropriate rehearsal techniques and standards for their execution.
Time is probably the most precious resource available to commanders and units. Rehearsals take time. The time required for rehearsal varies with the complexity of the task to be rehearsed, the type of rehearsal, and the level of participation. For this reason, the emphasis on rehearsals should be at the lowest level possible, using the most thorough technique given the time available.
See FM 101-5 for more details on rehearsals.
|Section II.||Example Terrain Model Rehearsal|
Rehearsals are classed by the level employed and by who participates. One convention is to identify levels with numbers and participation with letters. The following paragraphs describe the use of this convention.
Level III includes full-scale dress rehearsals involving the use of real-time mounted and dismounted maneuver over actual or similar terrain. Level III rehearsals are obviously the most resource-intensive and potentially remove key leaders from their units for extended periods of time. Level III rehearsals are desirable but rarely feasible at regimental or squadron level.
Level II includes scaled rehearsals using selected personnel, usually key leaders, mounted in wheeled or tracked vehicles over similar terrain. Level II rehearsals cover less area and are less resource-intensive than Level III rehearsals. Level II rehearsals are possible at all levels of command. They may not cover the entire operation, but instead focus on key actions such as hasty river crossing or linkup operations. A scale of 100 meters equals 1 kilometer is recommended.
Level I includes very small-scale rehearsals that do not involve mounted or dismounted maneuver. Examples of Level I rehearsals include map war-gaming, sandtable talk-throughs, and local area scale-model walk-throughs. Level I rehearsals may cover the entire operation or center on key actions. A walk-through scale of 2 meters equals 1 kilometer is recommended. Level I walk-throughs of the entire operation often follow subordinate units' Level II or III rehearsals of critical actions. All levels of command routinely use Level I rehearsals.
Table A-1 lists the four types of personnel participation at squadron level rehearsals. It shows the combinations of personnel participation at each level of command. Participation at regiment and squadron levels is similar, but not identical.
Type A rehearsals include the commander, S3, S2, FSO/FIST, ALO, XO, S1, S4, SMO, subordinate commanders with the FSO/FIST, specialty platoon leaders, and combat support unit commanders.
Type B rehearsals include the commander, XO, S3, S2, FSO/FIST, ALO, subordinate commanders with their FSOs/FISTs, and combat support unit commanders.
Type C rehearsals include the commander, S3, S2, FSO/FIST, ALO, subordinate commanders, and combat support unit commanders, as required by the mission. For example, if the mission involves deliberate breach of a complex obstacle, the engineer unit commander would be present, but the ADA unit commander might not.
Type D rehearsals include the commander, S3, S2, FSO/FIST, ALO, and subordinate commanders.
METT-T determines the type or extent of a rehearsal. An accurate timeline issued during the warning order will identify and assist in the prioritization of the task to be rehearsed. Any combination of number/letter codes may be used to tell subordinates which type of rehearsal will be conducted and who will attend. Portions of the operation may receive more detailed rehearsal with more players, while the rehearsal of other portions is less involved. This information may be included in the warning order and in the coordinating instructions portion of the OPORD or briefed orally at the conclusion of the orders briefing. For example, the order may specify "Flank guard rehearsal Type II-B, at 1245 hours, vicinity TOC. Entire operation rehearsal Type I-C walk-through at 1330 hours, vicinity EF 45332345." Note that the more general rehearsal comes after the rehearsal and subsequent fine tuning of the critical action of the flank guard. This prioritizes the flank guard in case time runs out and allows for the inclusion of whatever changes occur as a result of the flank guard rehearsal.
Although this technique may be used at any level
from troop to regiment, it is generally not employed at troop
level. At troop level, the number of participants is typically
so small that the company commander can often simply tell his
subordinates who should be where, when to be there, with what
equipment, and with what assignments.
The majority of rehearsals planned and conducted by maneuver units are rehearsals of combat actions by subordinate maneuver units; however, rehearsals of special tasks or special functional groups are sometimes desirable.
Some examples of special rehearsals include command group, TOC shift, decontamination, and engineer reserve demolition target turnover. The decision concerning which special rehearsals to conduct, if any, is the commander's. Special rehearsals may be as formal or informal as necessity dictates and time allows.
Special rehearsals do not fit neatly into the type and level classifications presented above. How extensive the rehearsal should be and who should participate are dependent on time available, task complexity, and unit training. (For example, the TOC shift rehearsal is probably nothing more than a talk-through of key information and actions likely to be executed by the TOC, set against the framework of the S2's event template.) Rehearsing decontamination may be a Level III, full-scale, Type A rehearsal on actual terrain when a unit must cross a known contaminated area.
Special rehearsals do not replace other rehearsals. Rather, they augment, supplement, or reinforce other maneuver rehearsals. Special rehearsals may be conducted at any time during the troop-leading procedures, just like any other rehearsal.
There several techniques for rehearsing. These techniques include, but are not limited to map, radio/telephone, terrain model/sandtable, rock/stick drill, tactical exercise without troops, and backbrief. Time is the deciding factor in determining which method is used. An example terrain model rehearsal is provided in Section II.
The regimental staff should select rehearsal sites that facilitate the type of rehearsal being conducted. Consider the factors of METT-T to ensure the site is secure, large enough to allow the type of rehearsal selected, and when possible, allows a view of the area of operations.
Participants should come with maps, overlays, and binoculars. Regimental staffs plan for and provide security from ground and air attacks. A rally point is identified in case the rehearsal site is attacked. Parking is provided, but the dismount point and the parking area must not attract the enemy's attention. Terrain models and maps should be oriented to the north. If the area of operations can be viewed, key terrain is identified on the ground and on the model or map.
The terrain model rehearsal takes less time and fewer resources than the full-dress rehearsal and the key leader rehearsal, and can be conducted day or night. Constructed accurately, this terrain model rehearsal technique can be an excellent three-dimensional aid to assist subordinate leaders and staffs in visualizing the battle.
Terrain models require the unit to maintain a number of materials for their construction. Once assembled, the materials should be inventoried and maintained like basic issue items for the designated vehicle carrying them. The materials must enable the builder to accurately depict all required information. Recommended materials for a terrain model kit include the following items:
- Tape measure (100 yards/meters long).
- Engineer tape (minimum of 500 meters).
- String to mark grid lines.
- Yarn (red, blue, green, and yellow).
- Nails and tent stakes.
- Index cards (3 x 5 and 5 x 7 laminated).
- Alcohol pens.
- Grease pencils.
- Premade military and unit symbols.
- Magnetic compass.
- Entrenching tool.
- Cotton balls.
- Spray paint (red, blue, green, and yellow).
Identifying and training personnel to construct terrain models are responsibilities shared by the regimental S3 plans officer and the operations sergeant major. The S3 section trains two primary and four alternate terrain model builders at home station. The size of the terrain model or the time available may require using additional personnel. The size of the terrain model can vary, from a tabletop arrangement (sandbox) to a model where the participants actually walk through a scaled-down version of the terrain. A terrain model large enough to allow the key leaders to walk over a scaled-down version of the terrain helps participants to visualize the battlefield.
The first step in creating an accurate terrain model is to prescribe the scale. This is easily accomplished by walking off several steps per kilometer, or using some other form of measurement. For example, if the zone of attack is 10 kilometers by 6 kilometers, the builder of the terrain model could assign one step per kilometer and walk off the scale of the terrain model.
The second step is to lay down selected grid lines based on the tactical map. With the grid lines established, the builder has a handy reference to measure the size and locations of the terrain features. This simple step increases the accuracy of the terrain model and ensures that the terrain features are the proper scale.
The terrain model should depict all required information shown on the operations overlay and situation map, to include key terrain features, enemy positions (known and suspected), and fire control measures. Place an arrow on the terrain map to depict north for orientation. Label all phase lines, numbered hills, and objectives with their appropriate names. The terrain should mirror the regimental operations and enemy overlays.
Once the terrain model is complete, position a map and operations overlay behind or at the side of the model as a point of reference. Attendance at the regimental rehearsal should include, at a minimum, the regimental commander, fire support coordinator, regimental XO, coordinating staff, special staff, and all squadron task force commanders with their S3s and fire support officers. Liaison officers from higher or adjacent units may attend.
The commander leads the rehearsal; his staff runs it. The director of the rehearsal is the regimental XO. As such, he rehearses his role during the operation. He ensures tasks are accomplished by the right unit at the right time and cues the commander to upcoming decisions. The XO's script is the synchronization matrix and the decision support template. These are the foundations for the OPORD recorded in chronological order. A terrain model rehearsal takes a proficient regiment from one to two hours to execute to standard. The following example outlines a step-by-step process for conducting a regimental rehearsal:
Step 1. Start at the appointed time and conduct a formal roll call. Ensure everyone brings binoculars, maps, and necessary equipment.
Step 2. Ensure that the XO or the S3 orients the terrain model to the actual ground, the operations overlay, and the map. Describe and point out the overall area of operations and explain the markers used on the terrain model.
Step 3. Brief the timeline. The XO should do this, or the S3 in lieu of the XO. Designate the rehearsal start time. For example, have the rehearsal begin by depicting the anticipated situation one hour before crossing the line of departure. Set the time interval to be used to start and track the rehearsal. For example, specify a ten-minute interval to equate to one hour of real time during the operation.
Step 4. Designate a recorder. This should be the S3's designated representative from the operations cell. Highlight the ground rules and incorporate ground rules into the regimental SOP. They include who controls the rehearsal (XO), who actually walks the terrain board, how the rehearsal will be controlled, and when special staff officers brief. Special staff officers should brief by exception when a friendly or enemy event occurs within their battlefield operating system.
Step 5. The S3 reads the mission statement, the commander reads his commander's intent, and the S3 lays out the friendly situation as it currently exists, using the terrain model.
Step 6. The S2 briefs the current enemy situation. He then briefs the most likely enemy course of action. (The enemy situation should already be set up on the terrain model.) The S2 also briefs the status of on-going reconnaissance and security operations, for example, citing any patrols still out and OP positions.
Step 7. The S2 briefs friendly maneuver unit dispositions at the rehearsal start time, including security forces. Other regimental staff officers brief their subordinate unit positions at the start time, as well as any particular points of emphasis. For example, the chemical officer briefs MOPP level, and the fire support officer shows range of friendly and enemy artillery.
Step 8. The commander gives appropriate commands. Fire support officers/coordinators tell when they initiate fires, who is firing and from where, what ammunition is fired, and the desired target effect. Squadron commanders tell when they initiate fire in accordance with their fire support plans. If the FIST is present, it initiates calls for fire. The XO talks for any staff section not present, and ensures all actions listed on the synchronization matrix or decision support template are addressed at the proper time or event. Avoid re-wargaming, except when absolutely necessary to ensure subordinate unit commanders fully understand the plan. If the staff has developed an order that addresses contingencies, do not wargame the operation at the rehearsal site.
Step 9. The enemy is portrayed by the S2 section. The S2 section walks the enemy through the most likely course of action (situation template), stressing reconnaissance routes, objectives, security force composition and locations, initial contact, initial fires (artillery, air, attack helicopters), probable main force objectives or kill sacks, likely chemical attack times and locations, and the commitment of reserves. The S2 must be specific by tying enemy actions to specific terrain or friendly unit actions. The walk-through should be an accurate portrayal of the event template.
Step 10. Terminate the first phase of the rehearsal after the desired end state (from the commander's intent) is achieved.
Step 11. When it becomes obvious that additional coordination is required to ensure success of the operation, try to accomplish it immediately. This coordination is one of the key points of the rehearsal. Ensure it is understood by all participants and captured by the recorder, and all changes to the published OPORD are in effect. However, this is not the time to make major changes. Changes are kept to only those that are vital. As soon as possible, the S3 should collect the verbal FRAGOs into a written change to the OPORD.
Step 12. After the initial walk-through of the base order, recheck the situation at the initial decision point. State the criteria for a decision to change the plan. Assume these criteria have been met and then refight the fight from that point forward, until the desired end state is attained. Complete any coordination to ensure understanding and requirements are met. Record any changes.
Step 13. Go to the next decision point and ensure the criteria have been met. Repeat Step 12.
Step 14. Repeat Step 13 until all decision points have been rehearsed.
Step 15. Brief key combat support and combat service support actions. The S4 should attend the rehearsal and show the combat commanders how the logistics, casualty evacuation/replacement, and administrative operations will support their operations. These items should be integrated into the rehearsal at the appropriate times. Summarizing these actions at the end of the rehearsal adds to the value of the rehearsal as a coordination tool.
Step 16. After the rehearsal is complete, the recorder should restate any changes, coordination, or clarifications directed by the commander, and estimate the time that a written FRAGO to codify the changes will follow.
Step 17. The commander should stress any points needing additional emphasis. He should consider reiterating his intent (purpose, method, end state), to remind all participants that the goal is to accomplish the regiment's mission.
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