INTEGRATION OF SPECIAL OPERATIONS, MECHANIZED, AND LIGHT FORCES
Employing Stryker, special operations, and mechanized infantry with light infantry units is a combat multiplier. These operations take advantage of the light unit's ability to operate in restrictive and severely restricted terrain (such as urban areas, forests, and mountains), combined with the mobility and firepower inherent in SBCT and mechanized units. To ensure SBCT or mechanized and light assets are integrated and synchronized, forces should be mutually supporting based on the commander's concept of employment. SOF provide the Stryker infantry commanders with force multipliers, especially in information operations, effects, and intelligence. This appendix addresses conditions SBCT infantry battalion commanders must consider when planning and executing four types of tactical operations: when provided a light infantry company, when operating as part of a mechanized brigade, when operating as part of a light infantry brigade, or when linking up with special operations forces.
Section I. ORGANIZATION, CAPABILITIES, AND LIMITATIONS
Across the spectrum of operations, there is an overlap in which SBCT, mechanized, and light forces can operate. The use of a mixed force in this overlap takes advantage of the strengths of the forces and offsets their respective weaknesses. Mechanized/light or SBCT/light operations occur when an SBCT or mechanized force has light forces attached. Light/mechanized or light/SBCT operations occur when a mechanized or SBCT force is OPCON to a light infantry force. The integration of SBCT or mechanized and light forces can take advantage of the enemy force's structure to attack its weaknesses and seize the initiative
NOTE: For the purpose of brevity, this appendix will use the term mechanized to indicate Bradley fighting vehicle (BFV)- and tank-equipped units. Light forces include airborne and air assault infantry units and SOF include ranger units.
A-1. MECHANIZED FORCES AND LIGHT INFANTRY OPERATIONS
The potential to use mechanized and or light forces together as part of an SBCT in military operations is unlimited. Their synergistic effort will capitalize on the strength of each, offset weaknesses, and attack the perceived weaknesses. The interjection of light forces into a theater of war dominated by friendly mechanized or SBCT forces allows a flexible response to increasing tensions and a rapid response in the face of a sudden all-out attack.
a. Factors of METT-TC. SBCT/mechanized or light infantry forces are not routinely mixed but can be effective given the proper situation. The decision to cross-attach forces is based on corps- or JTF-level war planning or on the initiation of a subordinate commander's request for augmentation. In all cases, the factors of METT-TC drive the decision to use mechanized, SBCT, or light forces together.
b. Advantages and Challenges. One advantage of mixing mechanized, light infantry, or SBCT forces is greater tactical flexibility for the maneuver commander. In the offense, the light force can infiltrate by ground or air to seize and hold restricted and severely restricted terrain, allowing the SBCT or mechanized battalion to move faster, or it can air-assault into the enemy's rear, disrupting his defenses to create an exploitable weakness. Additionally, light infantry and SBCT elements can execute tasks that mechanized forces may not have the manpower or training to perform, such as attacking in restricted terrain to defeat enemy infantry in prepared positions. In the defense, the light force can defend in restricted and severely restricted terrain and allow the mechanized battalion to mass its systems along the enemy's primary mounted avenue of approach. Along with such flexibility, the integrated force also has the advantage of the mobility and firepower inherent in mechanized units. The challenge of mechanized, light, and SBCT operations is to understand the capabilities and limitations of each type of force structure. To ensure effective integration of mechanized, light, and SBCT assets, all forces should be mutually supporting based on the commander's concept of employment.
A-2. MECHANIZED FORCES MISSIONS, CAPABILITIES, AND LIMITATIONS
An SBCT infantry battalion operating with mechanized forces should consider the following missions, capabilities and limitations of mechanized forces.
a. Missions. The missions given to mechanized forces are best suited for unrestricted terrain.
b. Capabilities. Mechanized forces have the capability to—
- Conduct sustained combat operations in all environments.
- Accomplish rapid movement and deep penetrations.
- Exploit success and pursue a defeated enemy as part of a larger formation.
- Conduct security operations (advance, flank, and rear guard) for a larger force.
- Conduct defensive operations or delay in sector over large areas.
- Conduct offensive operations.
- Conduct operations with light and special operations forces.
- Conduct stability and support operations.
- Deploy personnel task-organized to an AO onto pre-positioned equipment.
c. Limitations. The following are limitations of mechanized forces:
- Mechanized forces are mainly dependent on radio communications. This makes mechanized forces vulnerable to EW reconnaissance. In the future as the mechanized forces field C2 INFOSYS, this limitation may be reduced.
- Mechanized forces have restricted mobility in jungles, dense forests, steep and rugged terrain, built-up areas, and water obstacles.
- They have a high consumption rate of supply items, especially Classes III, V, and IX.
- They are vulnerable to antiarmor weapons and mines.
- Tank elements have difficulty defending positions against enemy infantry.
- Mechanized forces are not able to conduct long duration or continuous dismounted infantry operations.
- Mechanized forces require a secure ground line of communication.
A-3. LIGHT FORCES MISSIONS, CAPABILITIES, AND LIMITATIONS
The SBCT and its SBCT infantry forces may support any of three types of light infantry units: light, airborne, and air assault. The light infantry organizations vary in capabilities and limitations and in their impact on the mechanized or SBCT force. For example, differences in the organization of the brigade headquarters and in antiarmor capability may affect the battalion mission. The commander and staff must understand the organization of the forces that the battalion may support and forces that may be attached or OPCON to the battalion.
a. Missions. The missions given to an infantry battalion must consider the enemy's armored superiority in mobility and firepower. The infantry battalion must offset its vulnerabilities with dispersion, cover and concealment, and use of close and hindering terrain to slow the enemy. Table A-1 provides examples of possible light infantry tasks.
MECHANIZED/SBCT BATTALION MISSIONS
LIGHT INFANTRY COMPANY TASK
Movement to Contact
Clear and secure restricted areas; follow and support.
Air-assault to fix or destroy enemy targets; infiltrate or air-assault to seize objectives; breach obstacles; create a penetration.
Secure LOC; air-assault to seize terrain or attack enemy forces.
Clear bypassed forces; air-assault to block enemy escape.
Follow and Support
Secure key terrain and LOC; provide rear security.
Block dismounted avenues; perform security tasks; occupy strongpoint; ambush; provide rear area security; conduct urban operations.
Serve as follow-up echelon.
Conduct display operations.
Provide rear security, clear routes, occupy positions in depth; perform reconnaissance or deception; conduct stay-behind operations.
Table A-1. Examples of possible tasks.
b. Capabilities. Light forces have the capabilities to perform the following actions:
- Seize, occupy, and hold terrain.
- Move on foot or by aircraft, truck, or amphibious vehicle.
- Move in all types of terrain.
- Conduct operations with tank and mechanized infantry forces.
- Conduct covert breaches.
- Conduct air assault operations.
- Take part in counterinsurgency operations within a larger unit.
- Rapidly accept and integrate augmenting forces.
c. Limitations. Light forces have the following limitations:
- They must depend on nonorganic transportation for rapid movement over long distances.
- Without protective clothing, they are vulnerable to the effects of prolonged NBC exposure.
- They require external support when they must operate for an extended period.
- Unless dug in with overhead cover, they are extremely vulnerable to indirect fires.
- Unless dug in, they are vulnerable in open terrain to long-range direct fires.
A-4. LIGHT INFANTRY BRIGADE
Light infantry brigades have the most austere of the three light headquarters organizations in terms of communications capabilities and the number of staff officers. There is no assistant S3, assistant S3 air, or ALO. There are few vehicles in the main CP. Organizational maintenance is centralized at the brigade maintenance section. All Class I rations are prepared by the brigade mess team. Like the light infantry division, the brigade must depend on corps-level transportation assets. A key characteristic of the light infantry brigade is its limited antiarmor capability. There are 12 TOWs and 54 Javelins per brigade. In addition, the light infantry division has only one attack helicopter battalion and an air cavalry squadron.
A-5. AIRBORNE BRIGADE
Once it completes entry operations, the airborne brigade essentially functions as a light infantry brigade. It has more CS and CSS assets than does the light infantry brigade and has 60 TOWs and 54 Javelins. The airborne division has only one attack helicopter battalion and an air cavalry squadron.
A-6. AIR ASSAULT BRIGADE
Staff and CSS functions in the air assault brigade are similar to those in tank and mechanized brigades. The air assault brigade uses helicopters to extend its command and control and CSS capabilities. Antiarmor capability is the same as for the airborne brigade. The air assault division has a combat aviation brigade, consisting of three attack helicopter battalions and an air cavalry squadron, that adds to its antiarmor capability.
A-7. LIGHT INFANTRY BATTALION
The light infantry battalion is the most austere infantry battalion and the one whose organization is most different from that of an air assault, airborne, SBCT, or mechanized battalion. There are only three rifle companies and a headquarters company in the battalion. It has four TOWs and 18 Javelins. Organic fire support is provided by an 81-mm mortar platoon assigned to the headquarters company and two 60-mm mortars in each infantry company. Differences between this battalion and the air assault and airborne battalions are greatest in the organization of support and logistics elements. It has no trucks larger than its 27 cargo HMMWVs. The battalion has no mess team; Class I is prepared at brigade level. There is only one mechanic in the entire battalion; repairs are conducted at the brigade level. The battalion has only 18 long-range radios.
A-8. AIR ASSAULT AND AIRBORNE BATTALIONS
Once inserted, the air assault and airborne battalions perform much like the light infantry battalion, using walking as a primary means of transportation. Each battalion has ten light medium tactical vehicles (LMTVs) and 36 cargo HMMWVs and can conduct nontactical movement by truck. Each battalion has a mess section and a 16-man maintenance platoon. Air assault and airborne battalions have 30 long-range radios and 20 TOWs and 18 Javelins. An 81-mm mortar platoon assigned to the headquarters company provides organic fire support.
A-9. LIGHT INFANTRY COMPANY
The light infantry company has three platoons and a headquarters section, for a total of 130 soldiers. The company headquarters contains both the antiarmor section, consisting of six Javelins, and the mortar section, which has two 60-mm mortars. The rifle platoons, with 34 soldiers each, are organized into three squads and a headquarters section that controls the platoon's machine guns. Each rifle squad consists of two fire teams.
A-10. AIRBORNE AND AIR ASSAULT COMPANIES
Airborne and air assault companies are capable of more independent action than their light infantry counterpart. Each of the three rifle platoons has its own weapons squad as well as three rifle squads. The weapons squads have both machine-gun crews and antiarmor missile crews. The company headquarters retains control of the 60-mm mortar section.
A-11. SPECIAL OPERATONS FORCES MISSIONS, CAPABILITIES, AND LIMITATIONS.
Special forces are employed in many roles spanning the full spectrum of conflict.
a. Missions. The primary missions of the special forces are special reconnaissance, direct action, foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, combat terrorism, and information operations.
b. Capabilities. Special forces have the capability to—
- Infiltrate and exfiltrate specified operational areas by air, land, or sea.
- Conduct operations in remote areas and non-permissive environments for extended periods of time with little external direction and support.
- Develop, organize, equip, train, advise, and direct indigenous military and paramilitary units/personnel.
- Train, advise, and assist US and allied forces.
- Conduct reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.
- Conduct direct-action operations that include raids, ambushes, sniping, emplacing of mines and other munitions, or providing terminal guidance for precision-guided missions.
- Conduct rescue and recovery operations.
c. Limitations. Special forces have the following limitations:
- They depend on the resources of the theater army to support and sustain operations.
- They cannot conduct conventional combined armed operations on a unilateral basis. Their abilities are limited to advising or directing indigenous military forces conducting this type of operation.
- They do not have organic combined arms capability. They habitually require the support or attachment of other combat, CS, and CSS assets.
- They cannot provide security for operational bases without severely degrading operational and support capabilities.
A-12. THE UNTIED STATES ARMY SPECIAL FORCES OPERATIONS COMMAND (USASOC)
USASOC has four subordinate special operational forces elements that may operate in the AOR of the SBCT.
a. Rangers. The rangers are a special operations infantry organization. Their task organization and command and control structure are configured to support the unique demands placed on them by the specialized nature of the missions they are expected to perform. They have personnel capable of serving in the role of liaisons to the brigade headquarters in the event operations or mission requirements would dictate this, but an operation requiring direct employment of both ranger and SBCT forces in direct support of each other would be unusual. Ranger operations generally set conditions for follow-on conventional forces or are independent of conventional forces, focusing at objectives above the tactical level of warfare.
b. Civil Affairs. Civil affairs units establish, maintain, influence, or exploit relations between military forces and civil authorities (both government and non-government) and the civil populace in a friendly, neutral, or hostile area of operations in order to facilitate military operations and consolidate operational objectives. Civil affairs units are designed for employment independently, attached, OPCON, or tactical control (TACON) to other forces. At the SBCT, the most common element from a CA organization would be the civil affairs team (CAT). The CAT is structured to meet the immediate needs of the host nation populace by executing civil military operations in support of the overall plan. A civil affairs assessment team (CAAT) can also be sent down from the JSOTF or the ARFOR command element to make a determination of the needs within the SBCT AOR prior to, or in conjunction with, a CAT. The SBCT information officer of the IO element serves as the planner and advisor to the commander on how best to employ these assets. Civil affairs achieves a non-lethal effect and as such would be employed by the fires and effects coordination cell.
c. Psychological Operations. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives. A tactical PSYOP team (TPT) can operate independently, attached, OPCON, or TACON to the SBCT. A TPT generally focuses on the dissemination of PSYOP material that already exists. Early in a deployment, the SBCT may also see a tactical PSYOP development team (TPDT) working in its AOR or attached from the JSOTF or ARFOR headquarters. A TPDT aids in the development of themes for information campaigns and determines specific targeting for PSYOP efforts. PSYOP is also a non-lethal effect and a function of information operations; therefore, the SBCT information officer of the IO element serves as the planner and advisor to the commander for employment of PSYOP elements under the control of the SBCT as part of the FECC.
d. Special Forces. Special forces (SF) are employed in many roles spanning the full spectrum of conflict. The primary missions of the special forces are special reconnaissance, direct action, foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, combating terrorism, and information operations. Special forces units bring with them unique capabilities that include language ability and cultural training. SF are capable of conducting operations that employ their own capabilities unilaterally as well as joint, combined, coalition, and indigenous force operations in support of the overall theater engagement strategy. Special forces operate on a tactical level to achieve strategic results. SF operations are inherently joint and frequently controlled by higher echelons, often with minimal involvement of intermediate HQ.
Section II. PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS
Employment of mechanized or SBCT and light forces requires thorough integration of the operating systems of all units. This section focuses on planning considerations for each of the seven operating systems.
A-13. COMMAND AND CONTROL
The directing headquarters designates command relationships between the forces. The command relationship between units can be either attached or OPCON. A light unit attached to a mechanized or SBCT unit can normally be adequately supported. Attachment of a mechanized unit to a light or SBCT unit, however, requires considerable CS and CSS support from the mechanized unit's parent organization or from higher-level support assets.
a. Communications. Light units normally have considerably less digital and long-range communications capability than mechanized or SBCT forces. The controlling unit must therefore thoroughly analyze the communications requirements of an attached light unit.
b. Liaison Officers. Units normally exchange LNOs, who assist in joint operational planning, coordinate the development of orders and overlays, and serve as advisors to the counterpart units. In addition, leaders from the attached unit may be required to perform special functions in the different organizational configurations.
Detailed intelligence is critical in integrating light infantry with tank and mechanized infantry forces. Light forces orient on concentrations of enemy units, including counterattack forces and artillery and air defense assets; they also focus on the enemy's infantry avenues of approach and LZs and PZs.
Either the light, mechanized, or SBCT force can fix the enemy, allowing the other force to maneuver. Whether it conducts the fixing operation or maneuver, the light force requires the advantage of restricted terrain. The following maneuver considerations apply during employment:
a. Operational Tempo. The differences between the operational tempo of light infantry and that of mechanized or SBCT forces are always a key consideration, as are rehearsal schedules. An early rehearsal may be required, both to allow units to take part jointly and to resolve the operational differences effectively.
b. Employment. Infantry is best suited to restricted and severely restricted terrain, where it can impede the enemy's mobility and nullify his ability to use long-range weapons and observation assets.
c. Movement. To help prevent detection, leaders should plan the movement to coincide with limited visibility conditions such as darkness, severe weather, smoke, or fog.
d. Fires. Direct and indirect fires should be mutually supporting during integrated operations. The SBCT and mechanized forces can use their long-range direct fires to provide suppression, allowing light infantry units to maneuver. Conversely, light infantry forces can provide overwatch or support by fire to the SBCT or mechanized forces, allowing tanks, Strykers, and BFVs to maneuver in restricted terrain.
e. Infiltration. SBCT and mechanized forces can assist infiltration of the light forces by augmenting security at the LD. They can use their thermal capability to scan the area for enemy forces and can provide direct fire support as necessary.
A-16. FIRE SUPPORT
The mechanized force must recognize that dismounted infantry operations focus on stealth, which might not allow for preparatory and other preliminary fires. Fire support available to each force must be integrated into the fire support plan. Planners must know the organizations, capabilities, and limitations of all forces involved, particularly their digital and nondigital capabilities. In addition, planners should consider the possibility of limited continuous fires support for the SBCT DS due to the artillery battalion's towed howitzers in heavy/Stryker force offensive operations. During planning and preparation, a liaison team helps synchronize fire support. Restricted fire control measures must be jointly developed and understood by everyone.
A-17. AIR DEFENSE
Air defense assets may be deployed to fight and provide protection within the scope and design of any organization. Because infantry forces frequently maneuver in restricted terrain, Avenger and Linebacker coverage may not be feasible. In such operations, man-portable Stingers should be allocated to support the infantry.
A-18. MOBILITY AND SURVIVABILITY
A common obstacle plan must be developed for all operations. Light and SBCT forces may be used to reduce obstacles and clear choke points for the mechanized forces. In breaching operations, SBCT and light forces must ensure the breach is large enough for the widest vehicle in the operation. Survivability remains the priority for light forces, which must prepare to take advantage of the engineer assets available to the mechanized forces and the engineer company organic to the SBCT.
A-19. NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL, AND CHEMICAL
The light force lacks decontamination equipment and is more limited in an NBC environment than the mechanized and SBCT forces. The need to carry protective clothing in addition to standard loads affects the mobility of the light force soldiers. When higher headquarters cannot provide transportation assets, planners should arrange for mechanized and SBCT force vehicles to help transport light-force NBC equipment. SBCT and mechanized battalions have water-hauling capabilities they can use to offset light-force shortfalls. Transporting these items with mechanized or SBCT assets reduces the load of light infantry units. Commanders must consider METT-TC and must plan linkup points to ensure the light unit obtains these critical items as it needs them.
A-20. COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT
Light units are not organized, equipped, or trained to meet the support requirements of a mechanized or SBCT force. The light force relies on considerable assistance from the mechanized or SBCT support elements and from corps-level support assets. SBCT and mechanized units, however, should be able to provide support to a light infantry element. For a more detailed discussion of CSS considerations, refer to Section V of this appendix.
A-21. SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES PLANING CONSIDERATIONS
The following are planning considerations for requesting direct support of SOF and linkup procedures.
a. Request for SOF Support. Commanders can request direct support of SOF from the unified command's special operations command (SOCOM). The SOCOM forms a joint special operations task force, as required.
b. Special Forces Liaison Element (SFLE). During the planning phase, an SOF liaison officer is assigned to the SBCT along with all communications assets necessary for immediate communications with SOF assets at JSOF headquarters and at the objective area. The SOF liaison officer and assets make up the SFLE. The signal operations instruction (SOI) and signal plan must standardize not only frequencies and call signs, but address visual signals as well as daylight and night operations.
- ARSOFT provides a special operations command and control element (SOCCE) to its supporting operational HQ. The SOCCE links with the SBCT through the SOF liaison officer in the SFLE.
- The SFLE coordinates with the SBCT S2/S3 sections, and both elements provide the current situation, commander's intent, and future operations of their respective forces (within OPSEC limits).
- The SOCCE provides SOF locations to the FECC and SBCT S3 section through personal coordination through the SFLE, overlays, and other friendly order of battle data.
- The SFLE requests appropriate restricted fire support coordination measures and provides time windows when these measures are to be effective. The SOCCE must also ensure that FECC dissemination of these measures does not result in OPSEC violations.
Section III. OPERATIONS
Employment of SBCT, mechanized, and light forces requires a thorough understanding of tactical employment of light forces during the conduct of the offense or defense. This section focuses on tactical employment of SBCT, mechanized, and light forces during combat operations.
A-22. OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS
The fundamentals, principles, and concepts discussed in Chapter 4 apply to SBCT and light infantry as well as to mechanized force offensive operations. While combining these forces in the offense can work in many different ways, the following are some of the most common examples:
a. Mechanized Force Support, Infantry Assault. Tanks and BFVs support by fire while the infantry assaults the objective. The vehicles fire from hull-defilade positions until the infantry masks their fires. This is the most effective method for BFVs and may be used with tanks when antitank weapons or obstacles prohibit them from moving to the objective.
(1) This method may incorporate a feint to deceive the enemy as to the location of the main effort. If so, the supporting effort is timed to divert the enemy's attention from the infantry's assault. The fires of the mechanized force may also cover the sound of the infantry's approach or breach. Close coordination is vital for effective fire control.
(2) This method may vary when either the terrain or disposition of the enemy limits the mechanized force's ability to support the infantry's attack. In this case, the mechanized force may be tasked to suppress or fix adjacent enemy positions or to accomplish other tasks to isolate the objective area.
b. Simultaneous Assault. With this method, SBCT, light, and mechanized forces advance together, and the infantry and vehicles move at the same speed. The vehicles may advance rapidly for short distances, stop and provide overwatch, then move forward again when the infantry comes abreast. Tanks are best suited to assault under fire. BFVs may also be used in this manner but only when the threat of antitank fires is small. Additionally, the armored protection provided by a Stryker vehicle is considerably less than that of a Bradley fighting vehicle. If an antitank threat exists, light or dismounted infantry usually leads while the vehicles follow to provide fire support.
(1) This method may be used when the enemy situation is vague, when the objective is large and consists of both unrestricted and restricted terrain, or when visibility, fields of fire, and the movements of the mechanized force are restricted. These conditions exist during periods of limited visibility and in restricted terrain, such as in urban areas and wooded areas. The vehicles provide immediate close direct fires, and the dismounted infantry protects the vehicles from individual antitank measures.
(2) This method sometimes requires infantry to follow a safe distance behind the tanks or BFVs or the SBCT's MGS for protection from frontal fires. This is true when the main enemy threat is small-arms fire. From behind the tanks, BFVs, or the MGS, the dismounted infantry can protect the flanks and rear of the vehicles from handheld antitank weapons.
(3) This method may require assaulting forces to advance together in operations that require long, fast moves. Infantrymen may ride on the tanks or other vehicles until they make contact with the enemy. Although this is a quick way to move, it exposes the light infantry to enemy fire, particularly airburst munitions, and may interfere with the operation of the Strykers, BFVs, and tanks.
c. Assault from Different Directions. Mechanized and light forces converge on the objective from different directions. SBCT or mechanized and light infantry forces advance by different routes and assault the objective at the same time. For this synchronization to succeed, the light infantry elements maneuver and close on their assault position, ideally under cover of darkness or poor weather. The synchronization of the assault provides surprise, increases fire effect, and maximizes shock action. Planning, disseminating, and rehearsing the coordination of direct and indirect fire measures are critical in this type of operation.
(1) This method is effective when using tanks and BFVs and when two conditions exist:
- First, terrain must be at least partly unrestricted and free from mines and other armored vehicle obstacles.
- Second, supporting fires and smoke must effectively neutralize enemy antitank weapons during the brief period required for the tanks and or BFVs to move from their assault positions to the near edge of the objective.
(2) This method requires coordination of infantry and mechanized forces to provide effective fire control on the objective. When conditions prohibit the mechanized force vehicles from advancing rapidly, infantry should accompany them to provide protection.
Exploitation follows success in battle. The mechanized force is usually the most capable exploitation force. It takes full advantage of the enemy's disorganization by driving into his rear to destroy and defeat him. A mechanized force operating as a team (BFV- and tank-equipped units) may exploit the local defeat of an enemy force or the capture of an enemy position. The purpose of this type of operation is to prevent reconstitution of enemy defenses, to prevent enemy withdrawal, and to secure deep objectives. A common combination is a mechanized battalion reinforced by an attached SBCT or light infantry unit, engineers, and other supporting units. The light infantry may be transported in armored vehicles or trucks or may ride on the tanks. Riding on tanks reduces road space, decreases supply problems, and keeps the members of the team together; however, it exposes the riding infantry to enemy artillery fire. The light infantry leaders ride with the corresponding tank or BFV unit commanders. The mechanized force battalion commander must weigh the likelihood of enemy contact against the need for speed.
A-24. DEFENSIVE OPERATIONS
The combination of SBCT, light infantry, and mechanized forces is well suited to conduct defensive operations. The SBCT infantry battalion or mechanized force provides a concentration of antiarmor weapons and the capability to counterattack by fire or maneuver rapidly. The light force can occupy strongpoints, conduct spoiling attacks, and conduct stay-behind operations. The fundamentals, principles, and concepts discussed in Chapter 5 apply to combined light and mechanized force defensive operations.
a. SBCT or Light Force in Depth, Mechanized Force Forward. The mechanized unit covers forward of a light unit's defense, masking the location of the light unit. While passing through the SBCT or light unit's positions, mechanized units provide most of their own overwatch protection. Careful planning is required for battle handover to the SBCT or light unit. Light unit direct fire overwatch weapons that are able to support from inside the battle handover line are scarce. To solve this problem, the mechanized force can provide some of its antiarmor assets to the light infantry. Usually, these assets are provided at company level and above.
b. Light Force Forward, SBCT or Mechanized Force in Depth. The SBCT or mechanized force assumes positions in depth behind the light unit's defense. The light unit's forward deployment shapes the battlefield for decisive action by the SBCT or mechanized forces. The light unit leaves an avenue of approach into the SBCT or mechanized force's engagement area. At the same time, the light unit prevents the enemy from using restricted and severely restricted terrain. If the enemy penetrates the light unit, the SBCT or mechanized force counterattacks, destroying the enemy or blocking him until additional units can be repositioned to destroy him. To support the counterattack, the light unit identifies the location of the enemy's main effort, slows his advance, and destroys his command, control, and CS elements. The light unit can guide the counterattacking force through restrictive terrain to surprise the enemy on his flank.
c. SBCT or Light Force Terrain-Oriented, Mechanized Force Enemy-Oriented. Terrain-oriented refers to area defense; enemy-oriented refers to mobile defense. With this method, the entire force defends along the FEBA. The SBCT or light force, whether used as a flanking or covering force or positioned in depth, places its elements to use restrictive terrain effectively. The mechanized force keeps its freedom of maneuver. To protect the SBCT or light unit, contact points between units should be in restrictive terrain. The SBCT or light unit may defend to hold terrain while the tanks and BFVs maneuver to destroy the enemy from the flanks or rear.
d. Strongpoint. The SBCT infantry battalion or light infantry unit, with additional assets, occupies a strongpoint. The strongpoint forces the enemy into the mechanized force's engagement area.
e. Stay-Behind Operations. The SBCT or light unit occupies hide positions well forward of the FEBA. As the enemy passes, the light force attacks the enemy's command, control, CS, or CSS elements. The mechanized force defends against enemy maneuver forces.
A-25. RETROGRADE OPERATIONS
Retrograde operations include delays, withdrawals, and retirements, which gain time and avoid decisive action. Mechanized forces are employed against the enemy forces and avenues of approach that most threaten the operation. To move to subsequent positions, light forces need additional transportation assets, including helicopters. Basic movement techniques include bounding and bounding overwatch. Mechanized forces with small light force units mounted, along with infantry reconnaissance platoons and antitank elements, move to subsequent delay positions under the cover of mutually supporting forces.
A-26. SPECIAL FORCES OPERATIONS
Under the control of SOF headquarters, special forces, rangers, and special operations aviation can conduct combat operations against high-value targets.
a. SOF and SBCT Operations. SOF may operate with the SBCT or within the SBCT AO. Physical contact between the SBCT infantry battalion and SOF is typically short term. It usually ends with a passing of responsibility, the passage of friendly lines, or the extraction of SOF. The focus, therefore, should be on synchronization (not physical integration) of SBCT and SOF on the ground. Synchronization involves the simultaneous or sequenced execution of separate actions in time and space to achieve a synergistic effect.
b. Linkup. SOF and the SBCT infantry battalion conduct operations in war or stability oprations or support operations that may require a linkup. Linkup operations are often one of the most difficult operations to conduct because of the differences in the SOPs of the units conducting linkup. As linkup becomes imminent, coordination and control are intensified. The SBCT infantry battalion and the SOF element conducting linkup must adhere to emplaced control measures to ensure successful operations and to prevent fratricide. The two types of linkup operations are physical linkup operations and communications linkup operations.
(1) Physical Linkup Operations. Physical linkup operations occur when the SBCT infantry unit(s) linkup with and establish physical contact with a deployed SOF element or a resistance element, if applicable (as in an unconventional war (UW) scenario). During war in a joint special operations area (JSOA) or region, a physical linkup occurs at a specified contact point. Duringstability operations and support operations, a physical linkup may occur in the rear area, JSOA, or AO. A physical linkup is the most difficult to plan, conduct, and control effectively. It requires detailed, centralized coordination and planning at a planning conference between the SBCT forces, the SOCCE, and the deploying SOF element, if available. Physical linkups are conducted—
- In any instance where the SBCT infantry battalion operation requires physical interaction with an SOF unit already deployed or deploying into the same AO for operations.
- For resupply and logistics.
- For intelligence.
- For exfiltration of the sick and wounded.
- For exfiltration of very important people and prisoners of war.
- For infiltration of U.S. and resistance replacements.
- For coordination and planning.
- When transferring guides and liaisons to the SBCT infantry battalion.
(2) Communications Linkup Operations. Communications linkup operations take place when operations are conducted between SBCT forces and deployed SOF elements and a physical linkup is not required or desirable. A communications linkup requires coordination between all linkup forces. It also requires compatible communications equipment and current SOI. The SOI must be exchanged at a planning conference. Whenever possible, all linkup forces must rehearse the SOI, complete their planning, and implement coordinating instructions NLT 24 hours before the start of the linkup operations. Communications linkups may take place when the SBCT conducts—
- Offensive operations, and an SOF element already in the AO or the resistance force functions as a blocking or screening force.
- A raid, and an SOF element already deployed or the resistance force conducts security missions.
- Offensive operations, and an SOF element already deployed or the resistance force conducts deception operations.
- Offensive operations, and an SOF element already deployed or the resistance force conducts tactical reconnaissance and surveillance of the intended conventional force target.
Section IV. ADDITIONAL OPERATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
The following additional considerations apply in SBCT/light/mechanized operations.
A-27. DISMOUNTED INFANTRY MOVEMENT RATES
Commanders of mechanized forces often overestimate (or simply fail to recognize) the speed with which light infantry or SBCT infantry can move when operating dismounted. Numerous factors can affect the rate of march for the infantry forces: tactical considerations, weather, terrain, march discipline, acclimatization, availability of water and rations, morale, individual soldiers' self-confidence, and individual loads. Table A-2 summarizes dismounted rates of march for normal terrain. The normal distance covered by a dismounted force in a 24-hour period is from 20 to 32 kilometers, marching from five to eight hours at a rate of 4 kph. A march in excess of 32 kilometers in 24 hours is considered a forced march. Forced marches increase the number of hours marched, not the rate of march, and can be expected to impair the unit's fighting efficiency. Absolute maximum distances for dismounted marches are 56 kilometers in 24 hours, 96 kilometers in 48 hours, or 128 kilometers in 72 hours.
Table A-2. Dismounted rates of march (normal terrain).
A-28. TANK MOUNTED INFANTRY
An additional maneuver consideration for a light/mechanized or mechanized/light operation is the decision of whether to move infantrymen on tanks. This mode of transportation can be difficult but is not impossible. It does, in fact, afford some significant advantages. The mounted infantry can provide additional security for the company. When the team conducts a halt or must execute a breach or other tactical tasks, infantry assets are readily available to provide support and security. The commander must weigh the potential dangers of carrying tank-mounted infantrymen against the advantages of mobility and security they can provide. For specific procedures and safety considerations involved in mounting infantry on tanks, refer to FM 17-15.
A-29. SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS
Initially, most infantrymen are not familiar with the hazards that may arise during operations with tanks, BFVs, and other armored vehicles. The most obvious of these include the dangers associated with main-gun fire and the inability of armored vehicle crews to see people and objects near their vehicles. Leaders must ensure that soldiers understand the following points of operational safety.
a. Discarding Sabot. Tank sabot rounds and BFV antipersonnel rounds discard stabilizing petals when fired, creating a downrange hazard for infantry. The aluminum petals of the tank rounds are discarded in an area extending 70 meters to the left and right of the gun-target line, out to a range of 1 kilometer. The danger zone for BFV rounds extends 30 degrees to the left and right of the gun-target line, out to 200 meters from the vehicle. Infantrymen should not be in or near the direct line of fire for the tank main gun or BFV cannon unless they are under adequate overhead cover.
b. Noise. Tank main guns create noise in excess of 140 decibels. Repeated exposure to this level of noise can cause severe hearing loss and even deafness. In addition, dangerous noise levels may extend more than 600 meters from the tank. Single-layer hearing protection such as earplugs allows infantrymen to work within 25 meters of the side or rear of the tank without significant hazard.
c. Ground Movement Hazards. Crewmen on tanks and BFVs have very limited abilities to see anyone on the ground to the side or rear of the vehicle. As a result, vehicle crews and dismounted infantrymen share responsibility for avoiding the hazards this may create. Infantrymen must maintain a safe distance from armored vehicles at all times. In addition, when they work close to an armored vehicle, dismounted soldiers must ensure that the vehicle commander knows their location at all times.
NOTE: A related hazard is that M1-series tanks are deceptively quiet and may be difficult for infantrymen to hear as they approach. As noted, vehicle crews and dismounted infantrymen share the responsibility for eliminating potential dangers in this situation.
d. M1 Exhaust Plume Hazard. M1-series tanks have an extremely hot exhaust plume that exits from the rear of the tank and angles downward. This exhaust is hot enough to burn skin and clothing.
e. TOW Missile System. The TOW missile system has a dangerous area extending 75 meters to the rear of the vehicle in a 90-degree "cone." The area is divided into a 50-meter danger zone and a 25-meter caution zone
Section V. CSS OPERATIONS
CSS planning and execution are critical elements for integration of SBCT, light, and mechanized forces. Light brigades are not organized, equipped, or trained to meet the support requirements of a mechanized company. The SBCT is not structured to provide maintenance support to a mechanized unit. The SBCT can provide limited Class V (.50 cal and 7.62 mm) and Class III support. CSS may be further complicated if the mechanized force is operating across a large geographical area to meet the demands of a decentralized mission. The following discussion covers CSS considerations that may affect light/mechanized and mechanized/light operations.
A-30. PLANNING AND INTEGRATION
SBCT/light/mechanized operations may require the mechanized team to integrate into the SBCT or light brigade organization early in the deployment phase. This, in turn, may require CSS assets to move into the theater of operations very early as well, usually at the same time as the command and control elements. Specific support requirements, including needed quantities of supplies, depend on the mission and must be planned and coordinated as early as possible. In addition, because the SBCT or light brigade does not possess the required logistical redundancy to sustain the mechanized company, it is imperative that mission requirements calling for division- or corps-level CSS assets be identified early in the planning process.
A-31. SUPPLY REQUIREMENTS
Operations with a light brigade create many unique supply considerations for the SBCT or mechanized battalion. The sheer bulk and volume of supplies required by an SBCT infantry battalion and a mechanized battalion merit special attention during the planning and preparation phases. The following paragraphs examine some of these supply-related considerations.
a. Class I. Class I food requirements are determined based on the unit's personnel strength reports. This process may be complicated by unique mission requirements imposed on the unit, such as rapid changes in task organization or dispersion of subordinate companies over a wide area.
b. Class II. Many Class II items required by Stryker, tank, and BFV crews, such as specialized tools and Nomex clothing, may be difficult to obtain in a light organization. Although such items can be ordered through normal supply channels, the mechanized battalion may face significant delays in receiving them. To overcome this problem, the SBCT or mechanized battalion should identify any potential shortages and arrange to obtain the needed supplies before leaving its parent organization.
c. Class III. The fuel and other POL products required by the SBCT or mechanized battalion are extremely bulky; they present the greatest CSS challenges in planning and preparing for light/mechanized operations. Transportation support must be planned carefully. For example, planners must consider the placement of fuel HEMTTs during all phases of the operation. They must also focus on general-use POL products, such as lubricants, that are not ordinarily used by the light brigade. As noted previously, the mechanized battalion should stock its basic load of these items, as well as make necessary resupply arrangements, before attachment to the light brigade.
d. Class IV. The SBCT or mechanized battalion does not have any unique requirements for barrier or fortification materials. The main consideration is that any Class IV materials that the commander wants may have to be loaded and carried prior to attachment.
e. Class V. Along with POL products, ammunition for the mechanized force presents the greatest transportation challenge during combat operations. Planning for Class V resupply should parallel that for Class III; key considerations include anticipated mission requirements and the availability of HEMMTs. Ammunition may be prestocked based on expected consumption rates.
f. Class VI. There are no unique requirements for personal demand items and sundries.
g. Class VII. Class VII consists of major end items, such as "float" Strykers, tanks, or BFVs. The handling of these items requires thorough planning to determine transportation requirements and positioning in the scheme of the operation.
h. Class VIII. There are no unique requirements for medical supplies.
i. Class IX. Repair parts for combat vehicles are essential to the sustainment of the mechanized force. Repair parts stockage levels must be carefully considered before operations begin. SBCT and mechanized forces may find it advantageous to prestock selected items to meet anticipated needs.
A-32. OPERATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
An SBCT or mechanized unit can satisfy the CSS needs of a light infantry unit more easily than an infantry brigade can satisfy the needs of a SBCT or mechanized battalion.
a. SBCT and Mechanized Battalion with Light Infantry Company. Except for mortar rounds, the SBCT or mechanized battalion can provide all munitions the light infantry company needs. The S4 must plan to receive and move 120-mm, 81-mm, or 60-mm mortar munitions.
b. Infantry Brigade with SBCT or Mechanized Battalion. Adding an SBCT or mechanized battalion to a light infantry brigade significantly increases the fuel, ammunition, and maintenance that must be delivered to the forward area support team or the forward support battalions. The light infantry brigade lacks the transportation required to support even a small SBCT or mechanized unit, particularly the HETs for armored vehicle evacuation. The SBCT or mechanized battalion S4 must constantly anticipate the battalion's needs to allow the light infantry brigade S4 more time to react. Support packages may be required for the SBCT or mechanized element that is attached or under OPCON of the light force. The preferred method of command relationship is OPCON, which permits the SBCT or mechanized battalion to continue receiving support from its BSB or FSB. The support package may need to include fuel, HEMTTs and operators, HETs with drivers, tracked ambulances, and maintenance support teams.
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