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CHAPTER 4

OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS

The purpose of offensive operations is to defeat, destroy, or neutralize an enemy force. Offensive operations are also undertaken to secure key terrain, to gain information, to deprive the enemy of resources, to deceive and divert him, to hold him in position, to disrupt his attack, and to set the conditions for successful future operations. The platoon's ability to mass combat power at the decisive time and place while maintaining the momentum of the attack at a tempo the enemy cannot match, is essential for successful offensive operations.

Section I.   FUNDAMENTALS OF OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS

The outcome of decisive combat derives from offensive operations. Only through offensive operations can a platoon close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver to destroy or capture him, or to repel his assault by fire, close combat, and counterattack. While tactical considerations may call for the platoon to execute defensive operations for a period of time, defeat of the enemy requires a shift to offensive operations. To ensure the success of the attack, the BFV infantry platoon leader must understand the following fundamentals of offensive operations and apply the troop-leading procedures during the operations process (For a discussion on the operations process refer to Chapter 2). A sound doctrinal foundation during offensive planning assists the platoon leader in capitalizing the tactical flexibility of a BFV infantry platoon.

4-1.   CHARACTERISTICS OF OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS

Surprise, concentration, tempo, and audacity characterize all offensive. To maximize the value of these characteristics, BFV infantry platoon leaders must apply the following considerations.

a.   Surprise. Platoons achieve surprise by attacking the enemy at a time or place he does not expect, or in a manner for which he is unprepared. Unpredictability and boldness, within the scope of the commander's intent, help the platoon to gain surprise. Total surprise is rarely essential; simply delaying or disrupting the enemy's reaction is usually effective. Surprise delays the enemy's reactions, stresses his command and control, and induces psychological shock in his soldiers and leaders. The platoon's ability to attack during limited visibility, to operate as a small unit, and to infiltrate are often key to achieving surprise. The platoon must exploit the effect of surprise on the enemy before he can recover.

b.   Concentration. Platoons achieve concentration by massing overwhelming effects of their weapon systems and rifle squads, without necessarily massing platoon vehicles and squads at a single location, to achieve a single purpose. Because the attacker moves across terrain the enemy has prepared, he may expose himself to the enemy's fires. By concentrating overwhelming combat power, the attacker can reduce the effectiveness of enemy fires and the amount of time he is exposed to those fires. Modern navigation tools (such as GPS) allow the platoon leader to disperse his vehicles while retaining the ability to quickly mass the effects of the platoon's weapon systems whenever necessary.

c.   Tempo. Temo is the rate of speed of military action. Controlling or altering that rat is essential for maintaining the initiative. While a fast tempo is preferred,the platoon leader must remember that synchronization sets the stage for successful accomplishment of the platoon's mission. To support the commander's intent, the platoon leader must ensure that his platoon's movement is synchronized with the company's movement and with that of the other platoons. If the platoon is forced to slow down because of terrain or enemy resistance, the commander can alter the tempo of company movement to maintain synchronization. The tempo may change many times during an offensive operation. The platoon leader must remember that it is more important to move using covered and concealed routes to positions from which the platoon can mass the effects of direct fires on the enemy than it is to maintain precise formations and predetermined speeds.

d.   Audacity. Audacity is a simple plan of action, boldly executed. It is the willingness to risk bold action to achieve positive results. Knowledge of the commander's intent two levels up allows the platoon leader to take advantage of battlefield opportunities whenever they present themselves, enhancing the effectiveness of the platoon's support for the entire offensive operation. Audacity, marked by disciplined initiative, inspires soldiers to overcome adversity and danger.

4-2.   TYPES OF OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS

The four types of offensive operations, described in FM 3-90, are movement to contact, attack, exploitation, and pursuit. Company teams can execute movements to contact and attacks. Platoons generally conduct these forms of the offense as part of a company team. Company teams and platoons participate in a higher unit's exploitation or pursuit. The nature of these operations depends largely on the amount of time and enemy information available during the planning and preparing for the operation phases. Company teams and platoons participate in an exploitation or pursuit as part of a larger force.

a.   Movement to Contact. The movement to contact (MTC) is a type of offensive operation designed to develop the situation, and establish or regain contact. The platoon will likely conduct a MTC as part of a company team when the enemy situation is vague or not specific enough to conduct an attack. (For a detailed discussion of MTC refer to Section V.)

b.   Attack. An attack is an offensive operation that destroys enemy forces, or seizes or secures terrain. Movement, supported by fires, characterizes the conduct of an attack. The platoon will likely participate in a synchronized company team attack. However a platoon may conduct a special purpose attack as part of, or separate from, a company team offensive or defensive operation. Special purpose attacks consist of ambush, spoiling attack, counterattack, raid, feint, and demonstration. (For a detailed discussion of attack and special purpose attacks refer to Sections VI and VII.)

c.   Exploitation. Exploitations are conducted at the battalion task force level and higher. The objective of exploitation is to complete the destruction of the enemy following a successful attack. Company teams and platoons may conduct movements to contact or attacks as part of a higher unit's exploitation.

d.   Pursuit. Pursuits are conducted at the company team level and higher. A pursuit typically follows a successful exploitation. The pursuit is designed to prevent a fleeing enemy from escape and to destroy him. Company teams and platoons may conduct attacks as part of a higher unit's exploitation.

4-3.   FORMS OF MANUEVER

Given the typical sequence for offensive operations (refer to Section II), the platoon maneuvers against the enemy in an area of operation. Maneuver places the enemy at a disadvantage through the application of friendly fires and movement. The five forms of maneuver are:

    • Envelopment.
    • Turning movement.
    • Infiltration.
    • Penetration.
    • Frontal attack.

a.   Envelopment. Envelopment (Figure 4-1) is a form of maneuver in which an attacking force seeks to avoid the principle enemy defenses by seizing objectives to the enemy rear or flank in order to destroy him in his current positions. "Flank attacks" are a variant of envelopment in which access to the enemy's flank and rear results in enemy movement. A successful envelopment requires discovery or creation of an assailable flank. The envelopment is the preferred form of maneuver because the attacking force tends to suffer fewer casualties while having the most opportunities to destroy the enemy. A platoon may conduct the envelopment by itself or as part of the company team's attack. Envelopments focus on:

    • Seizing terrain.
    • Destroying specific enemy forces.
    • Interdicting enemy withdrawal routes.

Figure 4-1. Envelopment

Figure 4-1.   Envelopment.

b.   Turning Movement. Turning movement (Figure 4-2) is a form of maneuver in which the attacking force seeks to avoid the enemy's principle defensive positions by seizing objectives to the enemy's rear and causing the enemy to move out of his current positions or to divert major forces to meet the threat. For a turning movement to be successful, the unit trying to turn the enemy must attack something that the enemy will fight to save. This may be a supply route, artillery emplacement or a headquarters. In addition to attacking a target that the enemy will fight to save, the attacking unit should be strong enough to pose a real threat to the enemy. A platoon will likely conduct a turning movement as part of a company team supporting a task force attack.

NOTE: The turning movement is different from envelopment because the force conducting the turning movement seeks to make the enemy displace from his current location whereas an enveloping force seeks to engage the enemy in his current location from an unexpected direction.

Figure 4-2.   Turning movement.

Figure 4-2.   Turning movement.

c.   Infiltration. Infiltration (Figure 4-3) is a form of maneuver in which an attacking force conducts undetected movement through or into an area occupied by enemy forces to occupy a position of advantage in the enemy rear while exposing only small elements to enemy defensive fires. Moving and assembling forces covertly through enemy positions takes a considerable amount of time. A successful infiltration reaches the enemy's rear without fighting through prepared positions. An infiltration is normally used in conjunction with and in support of another form of maneuver. A platoon may conduct an infiltration (dismounted or mounted) as part of a larger unit's attack with the company team employing another form of maneuver. The platoon leader may also employ the form of maneuver by infiltration his squads to a location to support the attack of the mounted element. A platoon may conduct an infiltration in order to:

    • Attack enemy-held positions from an unexpected direction.
    • Occupy a support-by-fire position to support an attack.
    • Secure key terrain.
    • Conduct ambushes and raids.
    • Conduct a covert breach of an obstacle.

Figure 4-3. Infiltration.

Figure 4-3.   Infiltration.

d.   Penetration. Penetration (Figure 4-4) is a form of maneuver in which an attacking force seeks to rupture enemy defenses on a narrow front to create both assailable flanks and access to the enemy's rear. Penetration is used when enemy flanks are not assailable, when enemy defenses are overextended, when weak spots in the enemy defense are identified, and when time does not permit some other form of maneuver. A penetration normally consists of three steps:

    • Breach the enemy's main defense positions.
    • Widen the gap created to secure flanks by enveloping one or both of the newly exposed flanks.
    • Seize the objective.

As part of a larger force penetration, the BFV infantry platoon will normally isolate, suppress, fix, or destroy enemy forces, breach tactical or protective obstacles in the enemy's main defense, secure the shoulders of the penetration, or seize key terrain. A company team may also use the penetration to secure a foothold within a built-up area.

Figure 4-4. Penetration.

Figure 4-4.   Penetration.

e.   Frontal Attack. Frontal attack is a form of maneuver in which an attacking force seeks to destroy a weaker enemy force or fix a larger enemy force along a broad front. It is the least desirable form of maneuver because it exposes the attacker to the concentrated fire of the defender and limits the effectiveness of the attacker's own fires. However, the frontal attack is often the best form of maneuver for an attack in which speed and simplicity are key; it is useful in overwhelming weak defenses, security outposts, or disorganized enemy forces.

Section II.   SEQUENCE OF OFFENSIVE OPERATION

As the platoon leader plans for an offensive mission, he generally considers the following sequence of events that apply to many, but not all, offensive operation.

  • Assembly area.
  • Reconnaissance.
  • Movement to the line of departure.
  • Maneuver.
  • Deployment.
  • Assault
  • Consolidation and reorganization.

4-4.   ASSEMBLY AREA

The platoon leader plans for the upcoming mission, and directs and supervises mission preparations in the assembly area (AA) to prepare the platoon for the upcoming battle. Preparation time in the assembly area allows the platoon to conduct precombat checks and inspections, rehearsals, and CSS activities. Typically, the BFV infantry platoon will conduct these preparations within a company team assembly area. Rarely, the platoon will occupy its own assembly area.

4-5.   RECONNAISSANCE

All leaders should aggressively seek information about the terrain and the enemy. The enemy situation and available planning time may limit a unit's reconnaissance. In this circumstance, the platoon will likely conduct reconnaissance to answer the company team commander's PIR. An example may be to reconnoiter and time routes from the AA to the line of departure (LD). The platoon may also augment the efforts of the task force scouts to answer the task force commander's PIR.

NOTE: In digitally equipped units, this information may be available via FBCB2; however, leaders must never forget the benefit of having patrols and leaders on the ground to the front of the maneuver force.

4-6.   MOVEMENT TO THE LINE OF DEPARTURE

The platoon will typically move from the AA to the LD as part of the company team movement plan. This movement plan may direct the platoon to move to an attack position to await orders to cross the LD. The attack position is the last position an attacking force occupies or passes through before crossing the LD. If so, the platoon leader must reconnoiter, time and rehearse the route to the attack position, and reconnoiter the actual position. Section and squad leaders must know where they are to locate within the assigned attack position. The company team commander may order all of the platoons to move within a company formation from the AA directly to the point of departure (PD) at the LD. The PD is the point where the unit crosses the LD and begins moving along a direction of attack or axis of advance. If one PD is used, it is important that not only the lead platoon reconnoiter, time, and rehearse the route to the PD, but also the trail platoons. This allows the company team commander to maintain synchronization. The company team commander may also designate a PD along the LD for each platoon in order to maintain synchronization and flexibility.

4-7.   MANUEVER

The company team commander will plan the approach of all platoons to the objective to ensure synchronization, security, speed, and flexibility. He will select the routes, movement techniques and formations and the methods of movement (mounted or dismounted) of the platoons that best supports his intent for actions on the objective. The platoon leader must recognize this portion of the battle as a fight, not as a movement. He must be prepared to make contact with the enemy. (For a detailed discussion of actions on contact refer to Section III.) He must plan accordingly to reinforce the commander's needs for synchronization, security, speed, and flexibility. During execution, he may display disciplined initiative and alter his platoon's formation, technique, or speed to maintain synchronization with the other platoons and flexibility for the company team commander.

4-8.   DEPLOYMENT

As the platoon deploys and moves toward the assault position, it begins the final positioning of the BFVs (or squads), as drected by the company team commander, to minimize delay and confusion. An assault position is a covered and concealed position short of the objective from which final preparations are made to assault the objective. This tactical positioning allows the platoon to move in the best tactical posture through the assault position into the attack. Movement should be as rapid as the terrain, unit mobility, and the enemy situation permit. The probable line of deployment (PLD) is usually the next control measure following the assault position; however, the PLD may be located within the assault position. The PLD is a phase line that the company team commander designates as the location where he intends to completely deploy his unit into the assault formation before beginning the assault.

4-9.   ASSAULT

During an offensive operation, the plato on's objective may be terrain-oriented or force-oriented. Terrain-oriented objectives may require the platoon to seize or retain a designated area and often require fighting through enemy forces. If the objective is force-oriented, an AO may be assigned for orientation, but the platoon's efforts are focused on the enemy's actual location. Actions on the objective begin when the company team (or platoon) begins placing direct and indirect fires on the objective. This may actually occur while the platoon is still moving toward the objective from the assault position or PLD.

4-10.   CONSOLIDATION AND REORGANIZATION

The platoon consolidates and reorganizes as required by the situation and mission. Consolidation is the process of organizing and strengthening a newly captured position so that it can be defended. Reorganization is the actions taken to shift internal resources within a degraded unit to increase its level of combat effectiveness. The platoon executes follow-on missions as directed by the company team commander. A likely mission may be to continue the attack against enemy within the AO. Regardless of the situation, the platoon must posture itself and prepare for continued offensive operations.

Section III.   BATTLEFIELD OPERATING SYSTEMS PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

The BOS are a listing of critical tactical activities that provides a means of reviewing preparation and execution. Synchronization and coordination among the BOS are critical for success. Selected BOS are addressed in this section. (For a detailed discussion of C2 and intelligence, refer to Chapter 2.)

4-11.   MANEUVER

The purpose of maneuver is to close with and destroy the enemy. Maneuver requires a baseoffire element to suppress and or destroy enemy forces with accurate direct fires and bounding elements to gain positional advantage over the enemy. When effectively executed, maneuver leaves enemy elements vulnerable by forcing them to fight in two directions, robbing the enemy of the initiative and, ultimately, limits his tactical options.

4-12.   FIRE SUPPORT

The platoon may be able to employ indirect fires from field artillery or battalion mortars to isolate a small part of the enemy defense or to suppress the enemy on the objective. The platoon leader must always keep in mind the potential danger to friendly elements created by indirect fires used in support of the assault. He must ensure that the indirect fire assets always know the position and direction of movement of the assault force.

4-13.   MOBILITY, COUNTERMOBILITY, AND SURVIVABILITY

The platoon will likely focus on "mobility" during offensive operations. The platoon may be required to breach obstacles as part of an offensive operation. These may be protective obstacles that the platoon is expected to breach without additional assets or these may be tactical obstacles that the platoon will require engineer assets in order to breach. Refer to FM 3-34.2 for a detailed discussion of breaching.

4-14.   AIR DEFENSE

A Bradley Stinger fighting vehicle (BSFV) or Linebacker may operate in the platoon's AO. Although these assets do not necessarily work for or with the platoon, the platoon may have a specified (or implied) task to secure these air defense asset. The platoon leader must take this into consideration during this planning. The platoon leader should also address how to react to enemy air assets if no external assets are available or operating within his AO. Unit SOPs should dictate internal air security measures and active air defense measures.

4-15.   COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT

The primary purpose of CSS in the offense is to assist the platoon and company team in maintaining momentum during the attack. Key CSS planning considerations for the platoon leader during the offense include—

  • Increased consumption of Class III supplies.
  • High expenditure of ammunition for selected tactical tasks.
  • Casualty evacuation procedures.
  • Vehicle maintenance and recovery requirements.

Section IV.   ACTIONS ON CONTACT

The four-step process for actions on contact is not a rigid, lockstep response to enemy contact; rather, it provides an orderly framework to help the platoon survive the initial contact. Leaders can follow up with sound decisions and act promptly to complete the operation. The platoon must react instinctively and instantly to the contact. The platoon leader's initial consideration should be, "Did the enemy see us before we deployed to cover?" The platoon leader decides what to do—he can have the platoon execute a planned battle drill or plan, or he can recommend to the company team commander that the platoon execute an alternate drill or action. At times, the platoon leader and his platoon must execute more than one of these steps at the same time. This is why the platoon must prepare thoroughly for contact situations. To ensure the platoon works well as a team and reacts correctly, yet instinctively, the platoon leader must rehearse battle drills and established unit SOPs. He must also conduct comprehensive training. The four-step process gives the platoon leader a logical, well-organized decision-making process for executing actions on contact. The four steps are:

  • Deploy and report.
  • Evaluate and develop the situation.
  • Choose a course of action.
  • Recommend and execute a course of action.

4-16.   DEPLOY AND REPORT

The platoon leader deploys the platoon when he recognizes one of the general categories of initial contact or receives a report of contact with enemy or civilians.

a.   Contact situations include (but are not limited to) the following:

    • Visual contact (friendly elements may or may not be observed).
    • Physical contact with a superior, inferior or unknown enemy or with civilians.
    • Indirect fire contact.
    • Contact with obstacles of enemy or unknown origin.
    • Contact with enemy or unknown aircraft.
    • Situations involving NBC conditions.
    • Situations involving electronic warfare tactics such as jamming, interference, and imitative deception.

b.   When the platoon makes contact with the enemy, the platoon leader responds according to the circumstances of the situation. The BFV or squad that makes initial contact must react as appropriate. The platoon leader has several choices in deploying the platoon. In many cases, he will initiate one of the battle drills for the BFV platoon (Appendix E). He can also order his sections or squads to immediately seek the best available covered and concealed position. (If mounted, the platoon leader determines whether or not to dismount the rifle squads.) The position should afford unobstructed observation and fields of fire and allow the platoon to maintain flank security. Bradley crews will also seek cover and concealment in the absence of a deployment order from the platoon leader. This step concludes with the platoon leader or platoon sergeant sending a contact report to the company team commander followed as soon as possible by a SPOTREP (FM or digital).

4-17.   EVALUATE AND DEVELOP THE SITUATION

While the sition, the platoon leader must begin to evaluate the situation and, as necessary, develop it. His primary focus is on determining or confirming the size (inferior or superior), composition (available weapon systems), activity, and orientation of the enemy force. He analyzes how obstacles and terrain in the AO will affect enemy and friendly capabilities and possible courses of action. The platoon leader uses reports from his section and squad leaders, other platoon leaders, the executive officer, and the company commander to make his evaluation.

a.   Because the BFV infantry platoon usually operates as part of a company team, task force scouts or other assets may be available to assist the commander and platoon leader in evaluating and developing the situation.

b.   There are no established rules for determining the level of superiority of an enemy in relation to the platoon; the result is dependent on the situation. The general criteria are as follows:

(1)   Inferior Force. An inferior force is defined as an enemy element that the platoon can destroy while remaining postured to conduct further operations.

(2)   Superior Force. A superior force is one that can be destroyed only through a combined effort of company-or-battalion-level combat and CS assets.

c.   The platoon leader evaluates the enemy's capabilities, especially the number of lethal weapon systems that he knows the enemy has. He also considers the enemy's recent activities.

d.   The enemy's lethality options vary. The enemy might use rapid-fire antitank weaponry, slow-firing wire-guided systems, or dismounted soldiers with automatic weapons. He can entrench forces in prepared fighting positions, or he can conduct a refueling operation with little security.

e.   After making contact and evaluating the situation, the platoon leader may discover that he does not have enough information to determine the superiority or inferiority of the enemy force. To make this determination, he can further develop the situation using a combination of techniques including fire and maneuver, indirect fire, reconnaissance by fire, and surveillance. In such a situation, however, the platoon leader must exercise caution, ensuring that his actions support the commander's intent.

f.   The platoon leader's most crucial considerations include mission accomplishment and the survivability of the platoon. Once the platoon leader determines what the platoon is up against, he or the platoon sergeant sends an updated SPOTREP to the company team commander. Once the platoon leader develops the situation and determines that he has enough information to make a decision, he selects a COA that accomplishes the mission, meets the requirements of the commander's intent, and is within the platoon's capabilities. He has several options in determining the COA:

    • Direct the platoon to execute the original plan. The platoon leader selects the COA specified by the commander in the OPORD.
    • Based on the situation, issue FRAGOs to refine the plan, ensuring it supports the company commander's intent.
    • Report the situation and recommend to the company team commander an alternative course of action based on known information in response to an unforeseen enemy or battlefield situation.
    • Direct the platoon to execute tactical movement (employing bounding overwatch and support by fire within the platoon) and reconnaissance by fire to further develop the situation and gain the information he needs to clarify a vague battlefield picture.

4-18.   CHOOSE A COURSE OF ACTION

The platoon leader will have little time for analysis at this point, but he should already have developed a clear understanding of the available COAs. He considers the commander's intent and guidance to help him determine his choice of a COA.

a.   In most cases, the commander will have identified the criteria for anticipated actions on contact in terms of the enemy's capabilities (that is, whether the enemy is a superior or inferior force). He will have specified criteria for destroying, fixing, and bypassing the enemy as well as the applicable disengagement criteria. He evaluates various reactions to possible enemy actions during planning, in the company rehearsal, during his informal war-gaming and during platoon rehearsals. He should also plan for the employment of indirect fires to support his COA.

b.   Refinements to the original plan or development of a new COA may change the scheme of maneuver. In most situations, the intent of maneuver is to gain positions of advantage over the enemy, forcing him to fight in an unintended direction. One element moves to the position of advantage while another element overwatches and supports. Control of indirect fires is shifted to the observer who can best call for and adjust fire on the enemy. If necessary, the platoon leader issues a revised set of graphic control measures, as part of the FRAGO.

NOTE: M2A3-equipped platoons send the FRAGO and graphics through FBCB2 following the verbal FRAGO. The digital FRAGO and graphics may include waypoints to assist in navigation along desired routes to a position of advantage and TRPs to help the platoon orient weapons.

4-19.   RECOMMEND AND EXECUTE A COURSE OF ACTION

Once he has chosen a COA, the platoon leader continues his evaluation of the situation by determining whether or not his COA aligns with the commander's intent and guidance from the order or rehearsal. If so, he orders the platoon to execute it, and he reports his intentions to the company team commander.

a.   If, however, the situation dictates a change from the original plan, the platoon leader must recommend a new COA to the commander. He then directs the platoon to execute the COA selected by the commander, who may or may not follow the recommendation. The platoon leader communicates with other platoon leaders as necessary to obtain support IAW the commander's intent.

b.   More information will become available as the platoon executes its COA. The platoon leader or platoon sergeant keeps the company team commander abreast of the situation with SPOTREPs and SITREPs. Accuracy of these reports is critical, because the task force commander and S2 eventually use them to confirm or deny the enemy situational template.

c.   Key information the commander needs includes the size, activity, location, time observed, equipment (SALUTE) of any enemy elements that the platoon has observed, engaged, destroyed, or bypassed. The platoon leader also informs the commander of the platoon's current location or destination, and of any changes in the platoon's combat power or logistical status.

d.   Based on details of the enemy situation, the platoon leader may have to alter his plan during execution. For example, as the platoon maneuvers to destroy what appears to be a lone enemy tank, it might discover six more in prepared fighting positions (a superior force). In this case, the platoon leader informs the commander and recommends an alternate COA, such as the platoon occupying a support-by-fire while the remainder of the company team destroys the enemy tanks. The platoon continues to execute the selected or refined COA until it accomplishes the original mission, receives a FRAGO from the company team commander changing the mission or COA, or receives a new order to consolidate and reorganize on the objective.

EXAMPLE:

  As the platoon maneuvers to destroy what appears to be a combat security outpost (CSOP) with one BMP3 and an infantry squad, it discovers that the CSOP is actually manned by a reinforced MRP (three BMP-3s and one T-80U). The platoon leader must analyze and develop the new situation. He reports to the company team commander that the enemy is more than the platoon can handle and recommends an alternate course of action such as establishing a support-by-fire position to suppress the enemy as the remainder of the company team bounds forward to destroy the reinforced MRP.

Section V.   MOVEMENT TO CONTACT

A movement to contact (MTC) is a type of offensive operation designed to develop the situation and establish or regain contact. A company team conducts an MTC when it must gain or maintain contact with the enemy (refer to Section III) or when it lacks sufficient time to gain information or make extensive plans to defeat the enemy. BFV infantry platoons and rifle squads participate in a movement to contact as part of a company team using movement formations and techniques explained in Chapter 3. The platoon, as part of a company team, will employ one of two techniques during a movement to contact: approach march or search and attack.

4-20.   PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

The company team commander will not have a complete visualization of the situation. The leader's role is to gain as much first hand information as possible. That combined with information on the enemy and the terrain provides the knowledge and understanding necessary to respond to the enemy. However, if the enemy situation remains vague, the platoon must be prepared to act in any situation. This is accomplished through proper planning, appropriate movement formations and techniques, fire control measures, platoon SOPs, engagement criteria, and studying the terrain before and during movement to anticipate likely enemy locations. While moving, all leaders study the terrain and anticipate enemy contact. The platoon leader may not know when or where he will make contact with the enemy and should avoid mounted movement on terrain restricting maneuver (such as draws, ravines, narrow trails, or steep slopes). If restrictive terrain is unavoidable, the platoon leader dismounts the rifle squads to enhance security in restrictive areas.

a.   Techniques. BFV infantry platoons will participate in two techniques for conducting a movement to contact: approach march or search and attack. The approach march technique is used when the enemy is expected to deploy using relatively fixed offensive or defensive formations but the situation remains vague. The search and attack technique is used when the enemy is dispersed, when he is expected to avoid contact or quickly disengage and withdraw, or when the higher unit needs to deny him movement in an AO.

b.   Command and Control. The company team commander will dictate a number of command and control techniques or graphic control measures for the unit to employ. The platoon leader may modify these techniques or control measures (within the scope of the company team commander's intent and guidance and the factors of METT-TC) in order to better control his sections and squads. Some examples of command and control techniques that may be modified are—

    • Line of departure, phase lines, and checkpoints.
    • Fire control and distribution.
    • Indirect fire plan.

(1)   Line of Departure, Phase Lines, and Checkpoints. The company team commander will normally assign lines of departure, phase lines, and checkpoints to control the forward movement of the platoon. The platoon does not stop at a phase line unless told to do so. If necessary, the platoon leader designates additional phase lines or checkpoints for use within the platoon to reduce the number and length of radio transmissions used to control movement.

(2)   Fire Control and Distribution. The platoon uses boundaries, direct fire plans, pyrotechnics, signals, and FRAGOs for direct fire control and distribution. (For a detailed discussion of direct fire control and distribution refer to Appendix G.) The variety of weapons in the BFV infantry platoon makes it critical for all sections and squads to understand the observation plan and the designated sectors of fire during an MTC. This takes on importance because of the scarcity of information about the enemy.

(3)   Indirect Fire Plan. The platoon leader must have a good indirect fire plan for his route to cover anticipated places of contact. These targets are a product of the platoon leader's analysis of the factors of METT-TC and must be incorporated into the company team indirect fire plan. The platoon leader, platoon sergeant, section leaders, or squad leaders may initiate the calls for fire.

c.   Developing the situation. Once the platoon makes contact with the enemy, it maintains contact until the commander orders otherwise. The platoon leader develops the situation based on the effectiveness of enemy fire, friendly casualties, size of enemy force, and freedom to maneuver. He gathers and reports critical information about the enemy and recommends a course of action. The platoon can bypass the enemy with permission from the commander, conduct an attack, fix the enemy so another platoon can conduct the assault, conduct a defense, establish an ambush, or break contact. The following guidelines apply for the platoon to develop the situation after making contact.

(1)   Light resistance is resistance from an enemy element, squad-sized or smaller, that is not inflicting friendly casualties; is not equipped with an armored vehicle, machineguns, or antiarmor assets; and is occupying hasty fighting positions with no tactical obstacles.

(a)   Light resistance may be bypassed IAW the order, or when directed by the company team commander. Once the platoon reacts to contact and the leader makes the decision to bypass, the following actions occur:

        • BFVs suppress the enemy and continue to move.
        • Rifle Squads remains mounted.
        • Platoon leader calls for and adjusts indirect fire and smoke to screen his movement past the enemy position.
        • Platoon leader reports the size, activity, and location of the enemy to the company team commander, and the platoon continues the mission.

(b)   When the platoon reacts to contact and decides to conduct an attack against light resistance, the actions are:

        • Rifle squads dismount in covered and concealed locations.
        • BFVs provide long-range supporting fires from a covered position.
        • Platoon leader calls for and adjusts indirect fire to suppress the enemy.
        • Rifle squads maneuver, supported by the fires of the BFVs, to destroy the enemy.
        • Platoon conducts consolidation and reorganization, if required.
        • Platoon leader reports the status and continues the mission.

(2)   Medium resistance is resistance from an enemy squad-to-platoon-sized element that is inflicting friendly casualties. The enemy defense is organized around the best defensible terrain with combined arms assets integrated. The platoon reacts to medium resistance using the following actions:

        • BFVs move to a covered and concealed position to dismount the rifle squads.
        • Platoon leader calls for and adjusts indirect fires to suppress the enemy and obscure movement with smoke.
        • BFVs, rifle squads, or a combination of these immediately suppress the enemy from a covered position and continue to suppress while the assault element moves to the objective. The support element keeps fires in front of the assault element as they conduct the assault.
        • The rifle squads conduct the assault using fire and movement. One squad (if not with the BFVs) supports-by-fire while the other two squads move. The platoon leader moves with the squads conducting the assault to control the movement and adjust or control all supporting fires.
        • Once the assault element seizes the objective (or destroys the enemy) and begins consolidation, the platoon leader calls the BFVs forward.
        • The platoon conducts consolidation and reorganization.

(3)   Heavy resistance is resistance from an enemy platoon-sized element or larger that is inflicting heavy friendly casualties. The enemy is defending a strongpoint with combined arms assets. If a bypass or attack is not possible, the company team commander may instruct the platoon to fix the enemy. Fixing the enemy involves establishing a base-of-fire to prevent the enemy from repositioning any part of his force for use elsewhere. When enemy resistance is too heavy for the platoon to assault or an attack has failed, the actions of the platoon are:

      • The platoon suppresses from support-by-fire positions to support the company team maneuver.
      • The platoon leader calls for and adjusts indirect fires to suppress the enemy.
      • The platoon prepares to lift or shift fires as other platoons conduct the assault.
      • Depending on the company formation and order of movement, platoons must be prepared to support-by-fire for another platoon while it conducts the assault, or to conduct the assault while other platoons support-by-fire.
      • If more than one platoon is involved, the commander issues instructions for direct fire control and distribution to the platoon leader. The platoon leader then controls the platoon fires.

d.   Defensive Considerations. In some situations, a platoon conducting an MTC makes contact with a much larger and more powerful enemy force. If the platoon encounters a larger enemy force where the terrain gives the platoon an advantage, it should attempt to fix the enemy force. This allows the rest of the company team to maneuver against the force. If the platoon cannot fix the enemy, it may have to assume a defensive posture (refer to Chapter 5) or break contact. Because the defense may surrender the initiative to the enemy and means the enemy has fixed the platoon in place, the platoon should use it only if it is in danger of being overwhelmed. Exposed rifle squads are vulnerable to enemy indirect fires. If the platoon receives indirect fire during movement, it should use the protection of the BFVs and attempt to move out of the area or find a covered position for the rifle squads to dismount. Once the indirect fires cease, the platoon prepares for an enemy assault. In the defense, the platoon leader—

    • Keeps the company team commander informed and continues to report on enemy strength, dispositions, and activities.
    • Dismounts the rifle squads to cover dismounted avenues of approach in preparation for the enemy's attack.
    • Places BFVs in hull-down positions (if available) or position that provide the best cover and concealment.
    • Orients Javelins to augment the BFVs along mounted avenues of approach.
    • Establishes direct fire control and distribution measures.
    • Calls for and adjusts indirect fires.

4-21.   APPROACH MARCH TECHNIQUE

The approach march is one of the methods of troop movement (administrative movement, tactical road march, and approach march). The approach march is the advance of a combat unit when direct contact with the enemy is intended. The concept behind the approach march as a technique for MTC is to make contact with the smallest element, allowing the commander the flexibility of maneuvering or bypassing the enemy force. During an approach march, the company team commander will organize his unit into two elements (advance guard and main body). As part of a company team using the approach march technique, platoons may act as the advance guard, the flank or rear guard, or they may also receive on-order missions as part of the main body.

a.   Advance Guard. The advance guard operates forward of the main body to ensure its uninterrupted advance. It protects the main body from surprise attack and fixes the enemy to protect the deployment of the main body. As the advance guard, the platoon finds the enemy and locates gaps, flanks, and weaknesses in his defense. The advance guard attempts to make contact on ground of its own choosing, to gain the advantage of surprise, and to develop the situation (either fight through or support the assault of all or part of the main body). The advance guard operates within the range of indirect fire support weapons. The platoon uses appropriate formations and movement techniques based on the factors of METT-TC.

b.   Flank or Rear Guard. The platoon will have the responsibilities of flank or rear guard when moving within the company team main body; however, the platoon may act as the flank or rear guard for a battalion task force conducting a movement to contact using approach march technique. In either situation, the platoon:

    • Moves using the appropriate formation and movement technique. (It must maintain the same momentum as the main body.)
    • Provides early warning.
    • Destroys enemy reconnaissance units.
    • Prevents direct fires or observation of the main body.

c.   Main Body. When moving as part of the main body, platoons may be tasked to assault, bypass, or fix an enemy force or to seize, secure, or clear an assigned area. The platoon may also be detailed to provide sections as flank or rear guards, stay-behind ambushes, or additional security to the front. Platoons and sections use appropriate formations and movement, assault, and ambush techniques.

4-22.   SEARCH AND ATTACK TECHNIQUE

The search and attack is a technique for conducted when the enemy is operating as small, dispersed elements, or when the task is to deny the enemy the ability to move within a given AO. The platoon will participate as part of company or battalion search and attack. A unit conducts a search and attack for one or more of the following reasons:

    • Render the enemy in the AO combat-ineffective.
    • Prevent the enemy from operating unhindered in a given AO.
    • Prevent the enemy from massing to disrupt or destroy friendly military or civilian operations, equipment, or facilities.
    • Gain information about the enemy and the terrain.

a.   Organization of Forces. The higher commander will task organize the subordinate units into reconnaissance, fixing, and finishing forces. He will assign specific tasks and purposes to his search and attack forces. Planning considerations for organizing include:

    • The factors of METT-TC.
    • The requirement for decentralized execution.
    • The requirement for mutual support. (The platoon leader must be able to respond to contact with his rifle squads or his mounted sections not in contact, or to mutually support another platoon within the company team.)
    • Mounted or dismounted.
    • The soldier's load.
    • Resupply and CASEVAC.
    • The employment of key weapons.
    • The requirement for patrol bases.

(1)   Reconnaissance Force. The size and composition of the reconnaissance force is based on the available information on the size and activity of the enemy operating in the designate AO. The reconnaissance force is typically consists of the task force scout. However, an infantry platoon may also comprise all or part of the reconnaissance force. The platoon will reconnoiter identified named areas of interest. The platoon leader may also identify fixing and finish elements within the platoon.

(2)   Fixing Force. The fixing force must have sufficient combat power to isolate the enemy once the reconnaissance force finds him. The fixing force develops the situation once the reconnaissance force finds the enemy. When developing the situation, the fixing force either continues to maintain visual contact with the enemy until the finishing force arrives or conducts an attack to physically fix the enemy until the finishing force arrives. The platoon leader may also identify a finishing element within the platoon.

(a)   The platoon maintains visual contact to allow the reconnaissance force to continue to other named areas of interest, and it isolates the immediate area. The fixing force makes physical contact only if the enemy attempts to leave the area or other enemy elements enter the area.

(b)   The platoon attacks the enemy if that action meets the commander's intent and if he has sufficient combat power to destroy the enemy.

(3)   Finishing Force. The finishing force must have sufficient combat power to destroy enemy forces located within the AO. The finishing force must be mobile and responsive enough to engage the enemy before he can break contact with the reconnaissance of fixing forces. A platoon, as the finishing force, may be tasked to conduct the following:

      • Destroy the enemy with an attack.
      • Block enemy escape routes while another company team conducts the attack.
      • Destroy the enemy with an ambush while the reconnaissance or fixing forces drive the enemy toward the ambush location.

b.   Control Measures. The higher commander will establish control measures that allow for decentralized execution and platoon leader initiative to the greatest extent possible. The minimum control measures for a search and attack are:

    • Areas of operation.
    • Target reference points.
    • Objectives.
    • Checkpoints.
    • Contact points.

An AO defines the location in which the subordinate units will conduct their searches. A TRP facilitates the responsiveness of the fixing and finishing forces once the reconnaissance force detects the enemy. A TRP also assists in avoiding fratricide in what may be a confusing, noncontiguous environment. Objectives and checkpoints guide the movement of subordinates and help leaders control their organizations. Contact points aid in the coordination among the units operating within the same AO.

Section VI.   ATTACK

Platoons and squads conduct an attack as part of the company team. An attack requires detailed planning, synchronization and rehearsals to be successful. The company team commander designates platoon objectives with a task and purpose for his assault, support, and breach elements. To ensure synchronization, all leaders must know the location of their subordinates and adjacent units during the attack. In addition to having different forms based on their purposes (refer to Section VII), attacks are characterized as hasty or deliberate. The primary difference between them is the extent of planning and preparation conducted by the attacking force, but there is no clear distinction between hasty and deliberate attacks. Attacks range along a continuum defined at one end by FRAGOs, which direct the rapid execution of battle drills by forces immediately available. At the other end of the continuum, the platoon has detailed knowledge of the enemy and the terrain, and may be task organized specifically for the attack. Most platoon-level attacks fall somewhere between these two ends of the continuum (Figure 4-5).

Figure 4-5. Attack continuum.

Figure 4-5.   Attack continuum.

4-23.   RECONNAISSANCE

Normally, the platoon leader obtains his information from the company team commander, and then integrates the new information into the plan.

a.   Platoons should not conduct reconnaissance unless specifically tasked to in a consolidated reconnaissance plan. If possible, the company team commander should determine the enemy's size, location, disposition, most vulnerable point, and most probable course of action. At this point, and with permission from battalion, the company team commander should direct the platoon to conduct a reconnaissance patrol. This element conducts a reconnaissance of the terrain along the axis of advance and on the objective. It determines where the enemy is most vulnerable to attack and where the support element can best place fires on the objective.

b.   The tentative plan may change as a result of the reconnaissance because the reconnaissance element discovers terrain or enemy dispositions are different than determined during planning. The platoon leader may modify his graphic control measures based on the results of the reconnaissance. For example, the reconnaissance may provide information that indicates the BFVs could not suppress the enemy from the north side of an objective as originally planned because of terrain limitations. Therefore, the company team commander move the support-by-fire position to the south side of the objective, adjusting the tentative plan to allow the platoon to accomplish its original task and purpose. The platoon leader then refines his plan to properly employ his sections and squads at the new location to accomplish his assigned purpose.

4-24.   MOVEMENT TO THE OBJECTIVE

The platoon conducts tactical movement as part of the company team plan under supporting fires using a combination of traveling, traveling overwatch, and or bounding overwatch movement techniques (refer to Chapter 3). The platoon leader transitions the platoon from movement to maneuver at a point either identified by the company team commander during his TLPs, or when the platoon makes contact with the enemy, to reach its objective to support the company team attack. During the movement or maneuver, the company team commander may designate support-by-fire positions to protect friendly forces with direct fires. As the company team maneuvers, it employs fires to destroy, suppress, neutralize and or obscure the enemy positions. If detected early, the platoon concentrates direct and indirect fires, establishing a base-of-fire, and maneuvers to regain the initiative. The BFV platoon conducts most movement to an objective while mounted. If the rifle squads are dismounted and moving separately from the vehicles, leaders must maintain a COP between the mounted sections and the three rifle squads. The platoon leader must consider the following when planning movement to the objective:

  • Assembly area to the line of departure.
  • Line of departure to the assault position.
  • Assault position to the objective.

a.   Assembly Area to the Line of Departure. The LD is normally a phase line where elements of the attacking force transition to movement techniques in preparation for contact with the enemy.

(1)   Before leaving the assembly area, the platoon leader should receive updated information on enemy forces, friendly forces, and the terrain. The platoon leader then disseminates this to the section and squad leaders to keep them abreast of the situation.

(2)   The platoon moves forward from the assembly area to the LD, usually as part of a company formation, along a planned, timed, and rehearsed route.

(3)   The platoon leader must ensure he crosses the LD at the designated point of departure (PD). He times the move from the assembly area beforehand, so the lead section crosses through the PD at the time of attack. The company team commander will direct if the platoon is to halt in an attack position. If the platoon leader must halt in an attack position, he places the platoon in a coil or herringbone formation, dismounts rifle squads for security, and conducts necessary last minute coordination.

b.   Line of Departure to the Assault Position. The platoon leader directs the movement of the platoon through checkpoints along the route. During movement, he ensures the platoon navigates from checkpoint to checkpoint or phase line by using basic land navigation skills. The platoon leader ensures his platoon is employing the correct formation and technique for the movement.   During movement, the platoon uses cover and concealment (as required) and, if detected, smoke and supporting fires. The platoon communicates primarily by FM radio. It may also communicate by using hand and arm signals, or flags.

c.   Assault Position to the Objective. The assault position is the last covered and concealed position prior to reaching the objective. The platoon may move through the assault position at a PLD to begin the assault. The platoon leader may stop in the assault position and designate a PLD between the assault position and the objective.

(1)   The platoon leader and company commander must decide whether or not the assault element will assault the objective mounted or dismounted. Generally, if the enemy is in restrictive terrain and poses a significant antiarmor threat, the platoon assaults the objective dismounted. If the objective is on unrestrictive terrain and the enemy's antiarmor threat is minimal, the assault element may assault mounted.

(a)   Mounted Assault. If the platoon leader decides to assault mounted, then as soon as the BFVs assault across the objective, the rifle squads dismount to clear the objective of enemy forces

(b)   Dismounted Assault. If the platoon leader decides to assault the objective dismounted, the platoon dismounts its rifle squads to assault the objective, and the BFVs move to support-by-fire positions. If possible, the platoon dismounts in an area that offers some cover and concealment from enemy observation and direct fire, which allows the platoon to assemble and orient appropriately. The dismount point must be close enough to the objective that the infantry squads do not become excessively fatigued while moving to the objective.

(2)   Whether assaulting mounted or dismounted, the platoon leader or company team commander designates the dismount point based on the following factors:

      • Short of the objective (near or at the assault position).
      • On the objective.
      • Beyond the objective.

(a)   Short of the Objective. The advantages of dismounting the rifle squads before reaching the objective include: protection for the squad members while dismounting; better control at the dismount point; and an ability to suppress the enemy with indirect fires without endangering the platoon. The disadvantages include: exposure of the rifle squads to indirect and direct fires as the move toward the objective; and the enemy may target possible dismount points with indirect fires.

(b)   On the Objective. The advantages of dismounting the rifle squads on the objective include: better platoon speed toward the objective; protection for the rifle squads and the platoon maneuvers toward bjective. The disadvantages include: difficult to orient the rifle squads on specific locations or objectives while riding in the BFV; difficult to control at the dismount point; and the BFVs are vulnerable to short-range, hand-held antiarmor systems while dismounting the rifle squads.

(c)   Beyond the Objective. Dismounting beyond the objective has several potential advantages: effective control at the dismount point; easier to orient the rifle squads to the terrain and the objective; and confused or disoriented enemy are forced to fight in an unexpected direction. There are also significant disadvantages: the platoon is vulnerable to attack from enemy defensive positions in depth; the platoon is vulnerable to attack by enemy reserve forces; the BFVs are vulnerable to short-range, hand-held antiarmor systems; and it is difficult to control direct fires, increasing the risk of fratricide.

(3)   Ideally, the platoon's assault element occupies the assault position without the enemy detecting any of the platoon's elements. Preparations in the assault position may include preparing bangalores, other breaching equipment, or demolitions; fixing bayonets; lifting or shifting direct fires; or preparing smoke pots.

(4)   If the platoon is detected as it nears its assault position, indirect fire suppression is required on the objective and the support element increases its volume of fire. If the platoon needs to make any last-minute preparations, then it occupies the assault position. If the platoon does not need to stop, it passes through the assault position, treating it as a PLD and assaults the objective. Sometimes, a platoon must halt to complete preparation and to ensure synchronization of friendly forces. Once the assault element moves forward of the assault position, the assault continues. If the assault element stops or turns back, the element could sustain excessive casualties.

4-25.   ISOLATE THE OBJECTIVE

The goals of isolation are to prevent the enemy from reinforcing the objective and to prevent enemy forces on the objective from leaving. Infantry platoons will likely be an isolating force within a company team. If the platoon must isolate its own objective, the platoon leader may use the mounted element to accomplish isolation. The mounted element by its nature is agile, has significant firepower, has protection from small arms fire, and is led by the platoon sergeant. Using the mounted element for this purpose allows the three rifle squads to conduct actions on the objective.

4-26.   SEIZE A FOOTHOLD AND EXPLOIT THE PENETRATION (ACTIONS ON THE OBJECTIVE)

When conducting the assault across the objectives, a technique is to designate the BFVs, under the platoon sergeant's control, as the mounted support element and to designate the three nine-man rifle squads as the breach and or the assault elements. Platoon internal support elements, employing the M240Bs, should also be considered.

a.   As the rifle squads move to the objective, soldiers use individual movement techniques and fire teams retain their basic fire team wedge. The mounted support element begins placing suppressive fires on the objective and monitors the breach and assault elements' movement, and shifts, lifts, or ceases fire according to the plan and the situation.

b.   The support (or assault) squad begins placing suppressive fires on the far side of the breach to support the breach element's initial breach of the objective.

c.   As the breach is being established, the mounted element should switch from their 25-mm cannon to 7.62-mm coaxial machine guns to allow the breach element to establish a foothold on the objective while avoiding fratricide. To prevent fratricide, supporting direct fire must continue to suppress the enemy, and the platoon leader or platoon sergeant must closely control it. One technique is to mark, either with infrared devices or other visual means, each soldier or just the assault element team on the flank nearest the support element. The assaulting soldiers and the support element sustain a continuous rate of fire to suppress the enemy. When the assault element moves to the breach point, the base-of-fire leader (platoon sergeant) verifies that the assault element is at the right location. He must be able to identify the assault element while it assaults the objective. One section, or designated BFVs, may shift their 25-mm cannon fires to another portion of the objective. As the breach element is preparing to conduct the breach, the mounted support-by-fire element monitors their progress. This helps the mounted element shift fires as needed. Visual observation is also vital so they can maintain suppressive fires just forward of the breach and assault elements. The assault element (one or two squads) passes through the breach element toward the objective.

d.   The mounted element monitors the forward progress of the assault element and keeps shifting suppressive fire at a safe distance in front of them. The breach element should bound forward to provide continual close-in suppressive fire to support the actions of the assault element as it moves across the objective. Once the assault element has seized the initial foothold on the objective, the breach element may then move to the objective to reinforce the assault element.

e.   As this occurs, the platoon sergeant closely observes the progress of the breach and assault elements to ensure there is no loss in momentum and that assault and breach elements do not cross in front of the mounted support-by-fire line. As the direct fires of the platoon's support element become masked, the platoon leader (or platoon sergeant) shifts, lifts or ceases fire, or he displaces the sections and or weapons to a position where they can continue to support the assault element.

f.   All communications from the mounted support element to the breach and assault squads is by FM radio or visual signals. If the mounted element leader observes problems, he radios them to the platoon leader. The platoon leader uses this information in conjunction with what he sees on the objective to control the assault.

NOTE: Even in M2A3-equipped units, leaders should not take the time to type and read digital reports during actions on the objective. Digital reports can be sent when consolidating on the objective.

4-27.   CONSOLIDATION AND REORGANIZATION

Once enemy resistance on the objective has ceased, the platoon quickly consolidates to defend against a possible counterattack. The platoon establishes security on or near the objective. The platoon leader assesses and reports the status of ammunition, casualties, and equipment (ACE).

a.   Consolidation. Consolidation consists of actions taken to secure the objective and defend against an enemy counterattack. The platoon leader determines the most likely enemy avenue of approach based on his assessment of terrain and enemy information. This analysis is conducted before execution of an attack and the enemy's most likely counterattack route is posted on maps and disseminated throughout the platoon. During consolidation, the platoon leader determines if his sections and squads are positioned according to the original plan or to changes in the factors of METT-TC. Once the platoon is positioned to defend against an enemy counterattack, section and squad leaders create sector sketches and submit them to the platoon leader. This information allows the platoon leader to verify the location and orientation of elements when the situation does not allow him to walk the entire security perimeter. As a minimum, section and squad leaders provide the platoon leader with the location and sectors of their key weapons. The platoon leader must use the troop leading procedures to plan and prepare. He ensures the platoon is ready to—

    • Eliminate enemy resistance on the objective.
    • Establish security beyond the objective by securing areas that may be the source of enemy direct fires or enemy artillery observation.
    • Establish additional security measures such as OPs and patrols.
    • Prepare for and assist the passage of follow-on forces (if required).
    • Continue to improve security by conducting other necessary defensive actions. (These steps, which are outlined in Chapter 5 of this manual, include engagement area development, direct fire planning, and battle position preparation).
    • Adjust FPF.
    • Secure EPWs

NOTE: The platoon leader and platoon sergeant in M2A3-equipped units must resist the temptation to rely on digital position updates and sector sketches as the sole means of ensuring their defense is established. They must walk the perimeter and make on-the-spot adjustments.

b.   Reorganization. Reorganization, normally conducted concurrently with consolidation, consists of actions taken to prepare for follow-on operations. During reorganization, leaders identify and report losses. Section and squad leaders update their ACE reports. Section leaders also provide information on their fuel status. The platoon sergeant consolidates the reports, updates all platoon status reports, and sends a consolidated platoon report to the company team commander and first sergeant. Based on the information in this consolidated status report, the platoon reorganizes personnel and redistributes ammunition, equipment, and other mission-essential items. As with consolidation, the platoon leader must plan and prepare for reorganization as he conducts his troop leading procedures. He ensures the platoon is prepared to—

    • Provide appropriate care and or medical treatment and evacuation of casualties, as necessary.
    • Cross-level personnel and adjust task organization as required.
    • Conduct resupply operations, including rearming and refueling.
    • Redistribute ammunition.
    • Conduct required maintenance.
    • Reestablish chain of command.

Section VII.   SPECIAL PURPOSE ATTACKS

The platoon will conduct a special attack at the direction of the company team commander. The commander will base his decision on the factors of METT-TC. Special purpose attacks are subordinate forms of an attack, they are:

  • Ambush.
  • Raid.
  • Counterattack.
  • Spoiling attack.
  • Feint.
  • Demonstration.

As forms of the attack, they share many of the same planning, preparation, and execution considerations of the offense. Feints and demonstrations are also associated with military deception operations.

4-28.   AMBUSH

An ambush is a form of attack by fire or other destructive means from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy. It may take the form of an assault to close with and destroy the enemy or it may be an attack-by-fire only, executed from concealed positions. An ambush does not require that ground be seized or held. Ambushes are generally executed to reduce the enemy force's overall combat effectiveness. Destruction is the primary reason for conducting an ambush. Other reasons to conduct ambushes are to harass the enemy, capture the enemy, destroy or capture enemy equipment, and to gain information about the enemy. Ambushes are classified by category (deliberate or hasty), formation (linear or L-shaped), and type (point, area, or antiarmor). The platoon leader uses a combination of category, type, and formation for developing his ambush plan.

a.   Operational Considerations. The execution of an ambush is offensive in nature; however, the platoon may be directed to conduct an ambush during offensive or defensive operations. The platoon leader considers both mounted and dismounted options for conducting the ambush. The platoon must take all necessary precautions to ensure that it is not detected during movement to or preparation of the ambush site. The platoon must also have a secure route of withdrawal following the ambush. An ambush normally consists of the following actions:

    • Mounted (or dismounted) tactical movement to the objective rally point (ORP).
    • Reconnaissance of the ambush site.
    • Establishment of the ambush security site.
    • Preparation of the ambush site.
    • Execution of the ambush.
    • Withdrawal.

b.   Task Organization. The platoon is normally task-organized into assault, support, and security forces for execution of the ambush.

(1)   Assault Force. The assault force executes the ambush. It may employ an attack by fire, an assault, or a combination of those techniques to destroy the ambushed enemy force. The assault force will generally consist of a rifle squad. The platoon leader will normally be located with the assault force.

(2)   Support Force. The support force fixes the enemy force to prevent it from moving out of the kill zone, allowing the assault force to conduct the ambush. The support force generally uses direct fires in this role, but it may be responsible for calling indirect fires to further fix the ambushed enemy force. The support force will generally consist of a rifle squad with the platoon's M240Bs. The platoon sergeant will normally be located with the support force.

(3)   Security Force. The security force provides protection and early warning to the assault and support forces and secures the ORP. It isolates the ambush site both to prevent the ambushed enemy force from moving out of the ambush site and to prevent enemy rescue elements from reaching the ambush site. The security force may also be responsible for securing the platoon's withdrawal route. The security force will generally consist of a rifle squad and the mounted sections. However, the factors of METT-TC may determine that a section or a single BFV be employed in the assault or support forces.

c.   Planning. The platoon leader's key planning considerations for any ambush include:

      • Cover the entire kill zone (engagement area) by fire.
      • Use existing (rocks, fallen trees, etcand so forth.) or reinforcing obstacles orienting into the kill zone (Claymores or other mines) to keep the enemy in the kill zone.
      • Determine how to emplace reinforcing obstacles on the far side of the kill  zone.
      • Protect the assault and support forces with mines, Claymores, or explosives.
      • Use security force to isolate the kill zone.
      • Establish rear security behind the assault force.
      • Assault into the kill zone to search dead and wounded, assemble prisoners, and collect equipment. (The assault force must be able to move quickly on its own through protective obstacles.)
      • Time the actions of all elements of the platoon to preclude the loss of surprise.
      • Determine the role of the BFVs as dictated by the factors of METT-TC.

NOTE: When manning an ambush for long periods of time, the platoon leader my use only one squad to conduct the entire ambush, rotating squads over time. The platoon leader must consider the factors of METT-TC, especially the company team commander's intent and guidance.

d.   Category. The leader determines the category of ambush through an analysis of the factors of METT-TC. Typically, the two most important factors are time and enemy.

(1)   Deliberate. A deliberate ambush is a planned offensive action conducted against a specific target for a specific purpose at a predetermined location. The leader requires detailed information on the following when planning a deliberate ambush:

        • Size and composition of the targeted enemy unit.
        • Weapons and equipment available to the enemy.
        • The enemy's route and direction of movement.
        • Times that the targeted enemy unit will reach or pass specified points along the route.

(2)   Hasty. The platoon (or squad) conducts a hasty ambush when it makes visual contact with an enemy force and has time to establish an ambush without being detected. The conduct of the hasty ambush should represent the execution of disciplined initiative within the parameters of the commander's intent. The actions for a hasty ambush should be established in a unit SOP and rehearsed so that soldiers know what to do on the leader's signal.

e.   Formations. The platoon leader considers the factors of METT-TC to determine the required formation.

(1)   Linear. In an ambush using a linear formation, the assault and support forces deploy parallel to the enemy's route (Figure 4-6). This positions both forces on the long axis of the kill zone and subjects the enemy to flanking fire. This formation can be used in close terrain that restricts the enemy's ability to maneuver against the platoon, or in open terrain provided a means of keeping the enemy in the kill zone can be effected.

Figure 4-6. Linear ambush formation

Figure 4-6.   Linear ambush formation.

(2)   L-shaped. In an L-shaped ambush (Figure 4-7), the assault force forms the long leg parallel to the enemy's direction of movement along the kill zone. The support force forms the short leg at one end of and at right angles to the assault force. This provides both flanking (long leg) and enfilading fires (short leg) against the enemy. The L-shaped ambush can be used at a sharp bend in a road, trail, or stream. It should not be used where the short leg would have to cross a straight road or trail. The platoon leader must consider the other factors of METT-TC before opting for the L-shaped formation.

Figure 4-7. L-shaped ambush formation.

Figure 4-7.   L-shaped ambush formation.

f.   Type. The company team commander, following an analysis of the factors of METT-TC will determine the type of ambush that the platoon will employ.

(1)   Point. In a point ambush, soldiers deploy to attack an enemy in a single kill zone. The platoon leader should consider the following sequence of actions when planning a point ambush.

(a)   The security or surveillance team(s) should be positioned first. The support force should be in position before the assault force moves forward. The support force must overwatch the movement of the assault force into position.

(b)   The platoon leader is the leader of the assault force. He must check each soldier once they emplaced. He signals the surveillance team to rejoin the assault force, if it is positioned away from the assault location. If the platoon leader does not employ the BFVs as the security force, the platoon sergeant will likely locate with the platoon leader in the assault force, leaving the mounted sections under the control of the platoon master gunner (Section "A" Leader). The actions of the assault force, support and security force are in Table 4-1.

ASSAULT FORCE SUPPORT FORCE SECURITY FORCE
  • Identify individual sectors of fire assigned by the platoon leader; emplace aiming stakes.
  • Emplace Claymores and other protective obstacles.
  • Emplace Claymores, mines, or other explosives in dead space within the kill zone.
  • Camouflage positions.
  • Take weapons off SAFE, when directed by the platoon leader.
  • Identify sectors of fire for all weapons, especially machine guns
  • Emplace limiting stakes to prevent friendly fires from hitting the assault force in an L-shaped ambush.
  • Emplace Claymores and other protective obstacles.
  • Camouflage positions.
  • Identify sectors of fire for all weapons; emplace aiming stakes.
  • Emplace Claymores and other protective obstacles.
  • Camouflage positions.
  • Secure the ORP.
  • Secure route to ORP, as required.

Table 4-1.   Actions by ambush forces.

(c)   The platoon leader instructs the security force (or teams) to notify him of the enemy's approach into the kill zone using the SALUTE reporting format. The security force must also keep the platoon leader informed if any enemy forces are following the lead enemy force, allowing the platoon leader to know if the enemy force meets the engagement criteria directed by the company team commander. The platoon leader must be prepared to let enemy force pass that are too large or do not meet the engagement criteria. He must report to the company team commander any enemy forces that pass through the ambush unengaged.

(d)   The platoon leader initiates the ambush with the greatest casualty-producing weapon, typically a command-detonated Claymore. He must also plan a back-up method to initiate the ambush should the primary means fail. This is typically an M240B machine gun. All soldiers in the ambush must know the primary and back-up methods. The platoon should rehearse with both methods to avoid confusion and the loss of surprise during execution of the ambush.

(e)   The platoon leader must include a plan for engaging the enemy during limited visibility. Based on the company team commander's guidance, the platoon leader should consider the use and mix of tracers, and the employment of illumination (hand held or indirect fire systems using IR). As little light as possible is preferred. For example, if Javelins are not used during the ambush, the platoon leader may still employ the command launch unit (CLU) with its thermal sights in the security or support force to observe enemy forces.

(f)   The platoon leader may also include the employment of indirect fire support in his plan. Based on the company team commander's guidance, the platoon leader may employ indirect fires to: cover flanks of the kill zone to isolate an enemy force; assist the platoon to disengage if the ambush is compromised or must depart the ambush site under pressure.

(g)   The platoon leader must have a good plan (day and night) to signal the advance of the assault force into the kill zone to begin its search and collection activities. He should take into consideration the existing environmental factors. For example, smoke may not be visible to the support force because of limited visibility or the lay of the terrain. All soldiers must know and practice relaying the signal during rehearsals.

(h)   The assault force must be prepared to move across the kill zone using individual movement techniques if there is any return fire once they begin to search. Otherwise, the assault force moves across by bounding fire teams.

(i)   The assault force collects and secures all EPWs and moves them out of the kill zone to an established location before searching bodies. The EPW collection point should provide cover, but should be easily found by enemy forces following the ambush. The assault force searches from far side of the kill zone to the near side, marking bodies that have been searched to ensure thoroughness and speed.

(j)   Search teams (two-man teams) approach a dead enemy soldier. One man will guard while the other searches. First, the search man will kick the enemy weapon away. Second, he rolls the body over (if on the stomach) by lying on top and when given the go ahead by the guard (who is positioned at the enemy's head, perpendicular to the search man), the search man rolls the body over on him. This is done for protection in case the enemy soldier has a grenade with the pin pulled or other demolition device underneath him. Third, the search man conducts a systematic search of the dead enemy soldier from head to toe, removing all papers and anything of intelligence value (different type of rank, shoulder board, different unit insignia, pistol, weapon, or other special equipment). The guard annotates all of this information. Finally, once the body has been thoroughly searched, the search team will continue in this manner until all enemy personnel in and near the kill zone have been searched. Enemy bodies should be marked (for example, folded arms over the chest and legs crossed) to avoid duplication of effort.

(k)   The platoon identifies and collects equipment to be carried back and prepares it for transport. Weapons are put on safe. The platoon also identifies and collects at a central point the enemy equipment to be destroyed. The demolition team prepares the fuse and awaits the signal to initiate. This is normally the last action performed before departing the ambush site. The flank security force returns to the ORP after the demolition team completes its task. The platoon will treat friendly wounded first then enemy wounded (time permitting).

(l)   The flank security teams may also emplace antiarmor mines after the ambush has been initiated if the enemy is known to have armored vehicles that can quickly reinforce the ambushed enemy force. If a flank security team makes contact, it fights as long as possible without becoming decisively engaged. It uses prearranged signals to inform the platoon leader it is breaking contact. The platoon leader may direct a portion of the support force to assist the security force to break contact.

(m)   The platoon leader must plan the withdrawal of the platoon from the ambush site. He considers the following:

        • Elements normally withdraw in the reverse order that they established their positions.
        • Elements may return to the release point, then to the ORP, depending on the distance between the elements.
        • The security force at the ORP (this may be the BFVs) must be alert to assist the platoon's return. It maintains security for the ORP while the remainder of the platoon prepares to depart.

(n)   Actions back at the ORP include, but are not limited to, accounting for personnel and equipment, stowing captured equipment, first aid (as necessary) and squads remounting the BFVs.

(2)   Area. In an area ambush, soldiers deploy in two or more related point ambushes. The platoon may conduct and area ambush as part of a company team offensive or defensive plan, or it may conduct a point ambush as part of a company team area ambush. The platoon leader should consider the following sequence of actions when planning an area ambush.

(a)   The platoon is the smallest level to conduct an area ambush (Figure 4-8). Platoons conduct area ambushes where enemy movement is largely restricted to trails or streams.

Figure 4-8. Area ambush.

Figure 4-8.   Area ambush.

(b)   The platoon leader (or company team commander) selects one principal ambush site around which he organizes outlying ambushes. These secondary sites are located along the enemy's most likely avenue of approach to and escape from the principal ambush site. Squads are normally responsible for each ambush site.

(c)   The platoon leader considers the factors of METT-TC to determine the best employment of BFVs, machine guns and Javelins. He will normally locate the M240Bs with the support force in the principal ambush site.

(d)   Squads (or sections) responsible for outlying ambushes do not initiate their ambushes until the principal one has been initiated. They then engage to prevent enemy forces from escaping the principal ambush or reinforcing the ambushed force.

(3)   Antiarmor. Platoons and squads conduct antiarmor ambushes (Figure 4-9) to destroy one or two armored vehicles. The ambush may be part of an area ambush. The antiarmor ambush consists of the assault force (armor-killer force) and the support-/security force. The leader considers the following when planning an antiarmor ambush.

Figure 4-9. Antiarmor ambush.

Figure 4-9.   Antiarmor ambush.

(a)   The armor-killer force is built around the Javelin (or BFV, if employed). The leader should consider additional weapons available to supplement the fires. These may include the light antitank weapon or AT4. The leader considers the factors of METT-TC to position all antiarmor weapons to endure the best engagement (rear, flank, or top). The remainder of the platoon must function as support and security forces in the same manner as the other types of ambushes.

(b)   In a platoon antiarmor ambush, the company team commander selects the general site for the ambush. The platoon leader must find a site that restricts the movement of armored vehicles out of the kill zone. The leader should emplace his weapons so that an obstacle is between them and the kill zone. In a squad antiarmor ambush, the platoon leader selects the general site for the ambush. The squad leader then must find a site that restricts the movement of armored vehicles out of the kill zone.

(c)   The support-security forces are emplaced to cover dismounted avenues of approach into the ambush site.

(d)   The leader should consider the method for initiating the antiarmor ambush. The preferred method is to use a command-detonated antitank (AT) mine placed in the kill zone. The Javelin can be used to initiate the ambush, but even with its limited signature, it may be less desirable than an AT mine.

(e)   The armor-killer team destroys the first and last vehicle in the enemy formation, if possible. All other weapons begin firing once the ambush has been initiated.

(f)   The leader must determine how the presence of dismounted enemy soldiers with armored vehicles will affect the success of the ambush. The leader's choices include:

        • Initiate the ambush as planned.
        • Withdraw without initiating the ambush.
        • Initiate the ambush with machine guns without firing antiarmor weapons.

(g)   Because of the speed with which enemy armored forces can reinforce the ambushed enemy, the leader should plan to keep the engagement short, and with a quick withdrawal planned. The platoon, based on the factors of METT-TC, may not clear the kill zone as in the other types of ambushes.

4-29.   RAID

A raid is a limited-objective form of an attack, usually small-scale, entailing swift penetration of hostile territory to secure information, confuse the enemy, or destroy installations. A raid always ends with a planned withdrawal to a friendly location upon completion of the mission. The platoon can conduct an independent raid (mounted or dismounted) in support of the task force or higher headquarters operation or it can participate as part of the company team in a series of raids. Rifle squads do not execute raids; rather, they participate in a platoon raid.

a.   Operational Considerations. The platoon may conduct a raid to accomplish a number of missions, including the following:

    • Capture prisoners.
    • Capture or destroy specific command and control locations.
    • Destroy logistical areas.
    • Obtain information concerning enemy locations, dispositions, strengths, intentions, or methods of operation.
    • Confuse the enemy or disrupt his plans.

b.   Task Organization. The task organization of the raiding force is determined by the purpose of the operation. However, the raiding force normally consists of the following elements:

    • Support force (with the task of support by fire).
    • Assault force (with the task of destroy).
    • Breach force (if required).

c.   Conduct of the Raid. The main differences between a raid and other special purpose attacks are the limited objectives of the raid and the associated withdrawal following completion. However, the sequence of platoon actions for a raid is very similar to those for an ambush. Additionally, the assault element of the platoon may have to conduct a breach of a protective obstacle (if a breach force has not been designated). Raids may be conducted in daylight or darkness, within or beyond the supporting distances of the parent unit. When the location to be raided is beyond supporting distances of friendly lines, the raiding party operates as a separate force. An objective, usually very specific in nature, is normally assigned to orient the raiding unit. During the withdrawal, the attacking force should use a route different from that used to conduct the raid itself.

4-30.   COUNTERATTACK

The counterattack is a form of attack by part or all of a defending force against an enemy attacking force, with the general objective of denying the enemy his goal of attacking. This attack by defensive forces regains the initiative or denies the enemy success with his attack. The platoon may conduct a counterattack as lightly committed force within a company team or as the battalion task force reserve. The platoon counterattacks after the enemy begins his attack, reveals his main effort, or creates an assailable flank. As part of a higher headquarters, the platoon conducts the counterattack much like other attacks. However, the platoon leader must synchronize the execution of his counterattack within the overall defensive effort. Counterattacks afford the defender the opportunity to create favorable conditions for the commitment of combat power. The platoon should rehearse the counterattack and prepare the ground to be traversed. Counterattacks are more useful to the higher headquarters when the platoon anticipates employment, plans and prepares for employment, and executes with the other defending, delaying, or attacking forces in conjunction with the higher commander's plan.

4-31   SPOILING ATTACK

A spoiling attack is a form of attack that preempts or seriously impairs an enemy attack while the enemy is in the process of planning or preparing to attack. The purpose of a spoiling attack is to disrupt the enemy's offensive capabilities and timelines while destroying his personnel and equipment. The purpose is not to secure terrain or other physical objectives. A commander (company or battalion) may direct a platoon to conduct a spoiling attack during friendly defensive preparations to strike the enemy while he is in assembly areas or attack positions, preparing for his own offensive operation. The platoon leader plans for a spoiling attack as he does for other attacks. The reasons for conducting a spoiling attack include:

    • Disrupt the enemy's offensive preparations.
    • Destroy assets that the enemy requires to attack (fire support systems, logistic resupply points, or engineering equipment).
    • Gain additional time for the defending force to prepare positions.

4-32   FEINT

A feint is a form of attack used to deceive the enemy as to the location and time of the actual operation. Feints attempt to deceive the enemy and induce him to move reserves and shift his fire support to locations where they cannot immediately impact the actual operation. When directed to conduct a feint, the platoon seeks direct fire (or physical) contact with the enemy, but avoids decisive engagement. The commander (company or battalion) will assign the platoon an objective limited in size or scope. The planning, preparation, and execution considerations are the same as the other forms of attack. The enemy must be convinced that the feint is the actual attack.

4-33.   DEMONSTRATION

A demonstration is a form of attack designed to deceive the enemy as to the location or time of the actual operation by a display of force. Demonstrations attempt to deceive the enemy and induce him to move reserves and shift his fire support to locations where they cannot immediately impact the actual operation. When directed to conduct a demonstration, the platoon does not seek physical contact with the enemy. The planning, preparation, and execution considerations are the same as the other forms of attack. It must appear to be an actual impending attack.

Section VIII.   OFFENSIVE TACTICAL TASKS

Tactical tasks consist of specific activities performed by platoons while they conduct tactical operations and maneuvers. At the platoon level, these tasks are the war-fighting actions the platoon might be called on to perform in battle. This section discusses and provides examples of five high-frequency offensive tactical tasks.

NOTE: The situations used in this section to describe the platoon role in the conduct of tactical tasks are examples only. They will not be applicable in every tactical operation, nor are they intended to prescribe any specific method or technique the platoon must use in achieving the purpose of the operation. Ultimately, it is up to the leader on the ground to apply the principles discussed here, along with his knowledge of the situation (including his unit's capabilities, the enemy he is fighting, and the ground on which the battle is taking place), in developing the "correct" solution to the tactical problem.

4-34.   SEIZE

Seizing an objective is complex and entails closure with the enemy, under fire of his weapons, to the point that the assaulting force gains positional advantage over or destroys the enemy.

a.   A platoon may seize prepared or unprepared enemy positions from either an offensive or defensive posture. Examples include:

    • A platoon seizes the far side of an obstacle as part of a company team breach.
    • A platoon seizes a portion of an enemy defense as part of a company team deliberate attack.
    • A platoon seizes key terrain to prevent its use by the enemy.

b.   There are many inherent dangers in seizing an objective: deadly enemy fires; a rapidly changing operational environment; the requirement to execute a dismounted assault; the possibility of fratricide when friendly forces converge. Taken together, these factors dictate that the platoon leader and subordinate leaders understand the following planning considerations.

(1)   Developing a clear and current picture of the enemy situation is very important. The platoon may seize an objective in a variety of situations, and the platoon leader will often face unique challenges in collecting and disseminating information on the situation. For example, if the platoon is the seizing force during a company team deliberate attack, the platoon leader may be able to develop an accurate picture of the enemy situation during the planning and preparation for the operation. He can concentrate on developing thorough FRAGOs to issue new information to the platoon as needed.

(2)   In another instance, the platoon leader may have to develop his picture of the enemy situation during execution. He must rely more heavily on reports from units in contact and on his own development of the situation. In this type of situation, such as when the platoon is seizing an enemy CSOP during a movement to contact, the platoon leader must plan on relaying information as it develops. He uses clear, concise FRAGOs to explain the enemy situation and give directives to subordinates. He must know how to develop and issue these orders quickly under the pressures of the battlefield environment.

(3)   In either type situation, the platoon leader and his subordinate leaders must be adaptive and make necessary adjustments to the scheme of maneuver based on the available information. This will help to ensure they overcome the enemy they will actually face on the ground and not based on a templated enemy force.

(4)   Seizing and objective entails closure with the enemy to gain positional advantage over him, control the terrain and to remove all enemy forces or eliminate organized resistance. In some situations, closure may require the platoon to conduct mounted maneuver and dismount the rifle squads on the objective to seize it. In other cases, the platoon may have to use both mounted and dismounted maneuver to gain the advantage and seize the objective. Factors influencing the platoon leader's decision whether to conduct a mounted assault or one combining mounted and dismounted elements to seize the objective include the following.

(a)   Mission Analysis. The company team commander's intent and concept will likely drive how the platoon maneuvers to the objective. If the platoon is directed to seize an objective area, and the enemy has dismounted positions, the platoon's assault will probably entail both mounted and dismounted maneuver. On the other hand, if the platoon is directed to seize an objective area, and the enemy has vehicle positions may require the platoon to conduct the assault using only mounted forces and dismount the rifle squads on the objective in order to achieve its assigned task and purpose.

(b)   Trafficability of the Objective Area. If all or part of the objective area is not trafficable by the BFVs, the platoon leader may consider conducting a dismounted assault with the rifle squads, assessing both existing obstacles (severely restricted terrain) and reinforcing obstacles (such as minefields or entrenchments).

(c)   Enemy Antitank Capabilities. The presence of antitank assets on or around the objective will put the BFVs at risk. The preferred COA is to destroy or suppress the enemy's antitank assets and allow the BFVs to maneuver. If this is not possible, a dismounted assault may be required to eliminate specific antitank threats before, or in conjunction with, a mounted assault.

(d)   Effectiveness of Mounted Direct Fires and Indirect Fires. If the platoon can effectively destroy enemy assets using mounted direct fires and or indirect fires, it may dismount the rifle squads on the objective.

c.   The platoon leader must plan for and implement indirect fire support in his plan.

(1)   The company team or platoon uses smoke to isolate the targeted enemy force and to hinder the enemy as he attempts to reposition or reinforce his forces.

(2)   The company team or platoon uses suppressive indirect fires to prevent adjacent or reserve enemy elements from engaging the assaulting force.

(3)   To protect the approaching assault force, the company team or platoon uses indirect fires to suppress or destroy the enemy on the objective area.

d.   While serving as the assault force in a company team deliberate attack, the platoon may have to conduct an assault breach of the enemy's protective obstacles to gain access to the objective area. Protective obstacles are normally integrated with existing obstacles and restricted terrain. The platoon can conduct either a mounted or dismounted assault breach.

(1)   The platoon leader decides if the platoon can breach while mounted. He looks at several factors, including terrain and the enemy's antitank capabilities. With favorable terrain, and if the platoon can suppress or destroy enemy antitank systems, the best COA may be a mounted assault breach. He also considers how to best use the firepower and protection of the platoon's BFVs, while preserving the combat power of the platoon's rifle squads.

(2)   The dismounted assault breach, also known as a manual breach, is normally slower than the mounted breach and exposes the dismounted rifle squads and or engineers to indirect and direct fires. While planning and preparing, the platoon leader should focus on the tactical considerations and actions that will affect the assault.

e.   In most circumstances, the company team sets the conditions for the platoon to seize the objective. The purpose of this effort is to achieve an acceptable superior force ratio for the assaulting platoon. If the platoon is seizing an objective as part of a company team attack, other platoons in the company team will normally be responsible for suppressing the enemy on the objective area from designated support-by-fire positions. These platoons may be the same support forces that protected the breach force. Terrain factors may require them to reposition to provide effective support for the assault force. If the platoon is seizing an objective that is not part of a company team deliberate attack it may have to establish its own support-by-fire positions to suppress the enemy and protect its assault force. Regardless of who provides support-by-fire (another platoon or internal elements), the platoon must always integrate the principles of fire and movement (maneuver) when executing the assault.

f.   The platoon normally uses an assault position; the last covered and concealed position short of the objective, when the platoon is the assault force in a company team deliberate attack. It can use an assault position along with a PLD, or it may use a PLD in lieu of an assault position. Actions at the assault position or the PLD could include these critical functions:

    • Verify current friendly and enemy situations using tactical reports from platoon or company team support-by-fire forces.
    • Issue FRAGOs and disseminate information to the lowest level.
    • Confirm TRPs and direct-fire responsibilities.
    • Position field artillery observers.
    • Conduct final prepare-to-fire checks.
    • Reorganize to compensate for combat losses.

4-35.   CLEAR

The platoon may be tasked with clearing an objective area during an attack to facilitate the movement of the remainder of the company team, or the platoon may be assigned clearance of a specific part of a larger objective area. Mechanized infantry platoons are normally best suited to conduct clearance operations, which in many cases will involve working in restricted terrain. Situations in which the platoon may conduct the clearance tactical task include the following (refer to FM 3-06.11 for a detailed discussion of urban combat):

  • Clearing a defile, including choke points in the defile and high ground surrounding it.
  • Clearing a heavily wooded area.
  • Clearing a built-up or strip area.
  • Clearing a road, trail, or other narrow corridor, which may include obstacles or other obstructions on the actual roadway as well as in the surrounding wooded and built-up areas.

a.   General Terrain Considerations. The platoon leader must consider several important terrain factors in planning and executing the clearance task.

(1)   Observation and fields of fire may favor the enemy. To be successful, the attacking force must neutralize this advantage by identifying dead spaces where the enemy cannot see or engage friendly forces. It should also identify multiple support-by-fire positions, which are necessary to support a complex scheme of maneuver covering the platoon's approach, the actual clearance task, and maneuver beyond the restricted terrain.

(2)   Cover and concealment are normally abundant for infantry elements, but are scarce for trail-bound vehicles. Lack of cover leaves vehicles vulnerable to ATGM fires.

(3)   Obstacles influence the maneuver of any vehicle entering the objective area. The narrow corridors, trails, or roads associated with restricted terrain can be easily obstructed with wire, mines, and log cribs.

(4)   Key terrain may include areas dominating the objective area, approaches or exits, as well as any terrain dominating the area inside the defile, wooded area, or built-up area.

(5)   Avenues of approach will be limited. The platoon must consider the impact of canalization, and estimate how much time will be required to clear the objective area.

b.   Restricted Terrain Considerations. Conducting clearance in restricted terrain is both time consuming and resource intensive. During the planning process, the platoon leader evaluates the tactical requirements, resources, and other considerations for each operation.

(1)   During the approach, the platoon leader focuses on moving combat power into the restricted terrain and posturing it to start clearing the terrain. The approach ends when the rifle squads complete their preparations to conduct an attack. The platoon leader—

(a)   Establishes support-by-fire positions with the platoon's BFVs.

(b)   Destroys or suppresses any known enemy positions to allow forces to approach the restricted terrain.

(c)   Provides more security by incorporating suppressive indirect fires and obscuring or screening smoke.

(d)   Provides support-by-fire for the rifle squads. Prepares to support the rifle squads from their dismount points to where they enter the restricted terrain using—

        • High ground on either side of a defile.
        • Wooded areas on either side of a trail or road.
        • Buildings on either side of a road in a built-up area.
        • Movement of rifle squads along axes to provide cover and concealment.

(2)   Clearance begins as the rifle squads begin their attack in and around the restricted terrain. Examples of where this maneuver may take place include:

        • Both sides of a defile, either along the ridgelines or high along the walls of the defile.
        • Along the wood lines parallel to a road or trail.
        • Around and between buildings on either side of the roadway in a built-up area.

(3)   The following apply during clearance:

(a)   The rifle squads clear in concert with the BFVs.

(b)   Combat vehicles provide a base-of-fire to protect rifle squads while they clear an area.

(c)   The rifle squads stop at a designated point or terrain feature where observation is optimal.

(d)   The rifle squads provide a base-of-fire to allow the BFVs to bound to a new support-by-fire position. This cycle continues until the entire area is cleared.

(e)   Direct-fire plans should cover responsibility for both horizontal and vertical observation and direct fire.

(f)   Rifle squads should clear a defile from the top down and should be oriented on objectives on the far side of the defile.

(g)   Dismounted engineers with manual breaching capability should move with the rifle squads. Engineers should also move with the overwatching vehicles to reduce obstacles.

(4)   The platoon must secure the far side of the defile, built-up area, or wooded area until the company team moves forward to pick up the fight beyond the restricted terrain. If the restricted area is large, the platoon may be directed to assist the passage of another element forward to continue the clearance operation. The platoon must be prepared to—

      • Destroy enemy forces.
      • Secure the far side of the restricted terrain.
      • Maneuver mounted elements to establish support-by-fire positions on the far side of the restricted terrain.
      • Support-by-fire to protect the deployment of the follow-on force assuming the fight.
      • Suppress any enemy elements that threaten the company team while it exits the restricted terrain.
      • Disrupt enemy counterattacks.
      • Protect the obstacle-reduction effort.
      • Maintain observation beyond the restricted terrain.
      • Integrate indirect fires as necessary.

c.   Enemy Analysis. Careful analysis of the enemy situation is necessary to ensure the success of clearing. The enemy evaluation should include the following:

    • Enemy vehicle location, key weapons, and infantry elements in the area of operations.
    • Type and locations of enemy reserve forces.
    • Type and locations of enemy OPs
    • The impact of the enemy's NBC and or artillery capabilities.

d.   Belowground Operations. Belowground operations entail clearing enemy trenches, tunnels, basements, and bunker complexes. The platoon's base-of-fire element and the maneuvering rifle squads must maintain close coordination. The BFVs focus on protecting the rifle squads as they clear the trench line or maneuver to destroy individual or vehicle positions. The base-of-fire element normally concentrates on destroying key surface structures (especially command posts and crew-served weapons bunkers) and the suppression and destruction of enemy vehicles. As noted previously, the direct-fire plan (refer to Appendix G) must be thoroughly developed and rehearsed to ensure it will facilitate effective mutual support while preventing fratricide.

(1)   The platoon must establish a base-of-fire with its BFVs to allow the rifle squads to dismount and then maneuver or enter the trench line, tunnel, basement, or bunker. The direct-fire plan must be thoroughly developed and rehearsed to ensure it will facilitate effective protection for the infantry while preventing fratricide.

(a)   The platoon leader must also consider specific hazards associated with the platoon's weapon systems. An example is the downrange hazard for the dismounted rifle squads created by the discarding petals of the armor-piercing rounds from the platoon's 25-mm cannon. The hazard area for 25-mm armor-piercing rounds extends 30 degrees to the left and right of the gun-target line out to a range of 200 meters.

(b)   The use of TOW missiles creates even greater hazards. The TOW backblast forms a 90-degree "cone" that extends 75 meters to the rear of the vehicle firing the missile. Within those 75 meters, the first 50 meters are the danger zone, and the next 25 meters are a caution zone.

(2)   The platoon should consider using restrictive fire measures to protect converging forces and other direct-fire control measures, such as visual signals, to trigger the requirement to lift, shift or cease direct fires. Techniques for controlling direct fires during trench, tunnel, basement, and bunker clearance may include attaching a flag to a pole carried by the soldier who follows immediately behind the lead clearing team; using panels to mark cleared bunkers, tunnels and basements; and using visual signals to indicate when to lift or shift fires.

(3)   Once the rifle squads enter the belowground area, the combined effects of the platoon's assets place the enemy in a dilemma. Every action the enemy takes to avoid direct fire from the BFVs, such as maintaining defiled positions or abandoning bunker complexes, leaves him vulnerable to attack from the rifle squads maneuvering down the trench. Conversely, when enemy vehicles move to avoid the attacking rifle squads or when the enemy's infantry elements stay in bunkers or command posts, they expose themselves to BFV support fires.

(4)   Consolidation consists of actions taken to secure the objective and defend against an enemy counterattack. The platoon leader must plan and prepare for. He ensures the platoon is ready to—

        • Eliminate enemy resistance on the objective.
        • Establish security beyond the objective by securing areas that may be the source of enemy direct fires or enemy artillery observation.
        • Establish additional security measures such as OPs and patrols.
        • Prepare for and assist the passage of follow-on forces (if required).
        • Continue to improve security by conducting other necessary defensive actions. (These steps, which are outlined in Chapter 6 of this manual, include engagement area development, direct-fire planning, and BP preparation.)
        • Adjust the established FPF (if required).
        • Protect the obstacle reduction effort.
        • Secure EPWs.

(5)   Reorganization, normally conducted concurrently with consolidation, consists of actions taken to prepare for follow-on operations. As with consolidation, the platoon leader must plan and prepare for reorganization as he conducts his TLP. He ensures the platoon is prepared to—

        • Provide appropriate care and or medical treatment and evacuation of casualties, as necessary.
        • Cross-level personnel and adjust task organization as required.
        • Conduct resupply operations, including rearming and refueling.
        • Redistribute ammunition.
        • Conduct required maintenance.

4-36.   SUPPRESS

The platoon maneuvers to a position on the battlefield from which it can observe the enemy and engage him with direct and indirect fires. The purpose of suppressing is to prevent the enemy from effectively engaging friendly forces with direct fires or observed indirect fires. To accomplish this, the platoon must maintain orientation both on the enemy force and on the friendly maneuver force it is supporting. During planning and preparation, the platoon leader should consider the following:

  • Conduct a line-of-sight analysis during his terrain analysis to identify the most advantageous positions from which to suppress the enemy.
  • Plan and integrate direct and indirect fires.
  • Determine control measures (triggers) for lifting, shifting or ceasing direct fires (refer to Appendix G).
  • Determine control measures for shifting or ceasing indirect fires.
  • Plan and rehearse actions on contact.
  • Plan for large Class V expenditures, especially 25-mm rounds. (The company team commander and the platoon leader must consider a number of factors in assessing Class V requirements including the desired effects of the platoon direct fires; the composition, disposition, and strength of the enemy force; and the time required to suppress the enemy.)
  • Determine when and how the platoon will reload 25-mm ammunition during the fight while still maintaining suppression for the assaulting force.
  • Determine how many, if any, of the rifle squads will dismount the BFVs.

4-37.   ATTACK BY FIRE

The platoon maneuvers to a position on the battlefield from which it can observe the enemy and engage him with direct and indirect fires at a distance to destroy or weaken a maneuvering enemy force. The platoon destroys the enemy or prevents him from repositioning. The platoon employs long-range fires (25-mm and TOW) from dominating terrain, uses flanking fires, or can take advantage of the standoff range of the unit's weapon systems. The company team commander may designate an attack-by-fire position from which the platoon will fix the enemy. An ABF position is most commonly employed when the mission or tactical situation neither dictates nor supports occupation of the objective; rather, it focuses on destruction or preventing enemy movement. In the offense, it is usually executed by supporting elements. During defensive operations, it is often a counterattack option for the reserve force.

a.   When the platoon is assigned an attack-by-fire position, the platoon leader obtains the most current intelligence update on the enemy and applies his analysis to the information. During planning and preparation, the platoon leader should consider the following:

    • Conduct a line-of-sight analysis during terrain analysis to identify the most favorable locations to destroy or fix the enemy.
    • Conduct direct and indirect fire planning and integration.
    • Determine control measures (triggers) for lifting, shifting, or ceasing direct fires.
    • Determine control measures for shifting or ceasing indirect fires.
    • Plan and rehearse actions on contact.

b.   Several other considerations may affect the successful execution of an attack-by-fire. The platoon may be required to conduct an attack against enemy security forces to seize the ground from which it will establish the attack-by-fire position. The initial attack-by-fire position may afford inadequate security or may not allow the platoon to achieve its task or purpose. This could force the platoon to reposition to maintain the desired weapons effects on the enemy force. In addition, because an attack by fire may be conducted well beyond the direct fire range of other platoons, it may not allow the platoon to destroy the targeted enemy force from its initial positions. The platoon may begin to fix the enemy at extended ranges. Additional maneuver would then be required to close with the enemy force and complete its destruction. Throughout an attack-by-fire, the platoon should reposition or maneuver to maintain flexibility, increase survivability, and maintain desired weapons effects on the enemy. It should also employ rifle squads whenever possible to assist mounted sections. Rifle squad support functions may include the following:

    • Seize the attack-by-fire position before occupation by mounted sections.
    • Augment TOW fires with Javelin fires.
    • Provide local security for the attack-by-fire position.
    • Execute timely, decisive actions on contact.
    • Use maneuver to move to and occupy the attack-by-fire positions.
    • Destroy enemy security elements protecting the targeted force.
    • Employ effective direct and indirect fires to disrupt, fix, or destroy the enemy force.

4-38.   BYPASS

The platoon may bypass an enemy force or obstacle to maintain the momentum of the attack or for another tactical purpose. The platoon leader designates a fixing force to maintain contact with the enemy. The fixing force also helps the remainder of the platoon during the bypass. The bypassing force uses covered and concealed routes and, if possible, moves along bypass routes outside the enemy's direct-fire range.

a.   The platoon can also employ smoke to obscure the enemy or to screen the bypassing force's movement. The platoon must conduct adequate route reconnaissance to confirm the feasibility of the bypass. The enemy may deliberately leave a bypass route unguarded to draw attacking forces into kill sacks.

b.   Once the rest of the platoon clears the enemy position, the fixing element normally hands the enemy over to a supporting force, breaks contact, and rejoins the platoon. During a company team-level bypass, the platoon may be employed as the fixing force. The fixing platoon may also be attached to the follow-on force.



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