SECTION I. Brigade Defensive Operations
SECTION II. Battalion Task Force Defensive Operations
SECTION III. Company Team Defensive Operations
SECTION IV. European Defensive Scenario
How a commander conducts defensive operations depends on a great number of factors. In various situations, some factors may have minimal impact; however, in a mid-to high-intensity environment, four factors may be dominant. These factors are: reduced Pk at extended ranges for tank cannon; the likelihood of a dirty battlefield, which may not be contaminated but will be obscured; the quantity of threat combat vehicles; and the speed of attack. These actors will impact substantially on the commander's scheme for the defense at brigade, battalion, and company, whether the mission is defense in sector, defense of a BP, or defense of a strongpoint.
Lethality considerations involve the commander and his staff. They must have a realistic understanding of the lethality of their combat systems, especially the tank. Several considerations combine to make lethal frontal engagements of threat tanks unrealistic beyond 2,000 meters. Because of the threat approach to armor design, threat tanks have most of their armor protection concentrated in the frontal 60-degree arc of the turret. These threat armors are difficult to penetrate frontally at any range with KE ammunition. However, the sides, top, and rear have relatively thin armor, making them vulnerable to attack from these aspects. Recent adoption of reactive armor by the threat has an even greater negative effect on CE warheads, whether tank-or missile-delivered.
Although attempts to increase KE penetration capabilities against threat armor have been fairly successful, the more modem long-rod penetrators achieve this at the expense of some delivery accuracy. Obviously, to achieve a kill, the penetrator must first fit the target.
As range increases, Ph decreases. Also, as range increases, the Pk given a hit decreases because velocity decreases with range, and penetration is dependent on velocity, among other things. The counter to these developments is to engage from closer ranges if engaging frontally, or to engage from longer ranges on the flank or rear. Considering just Pk, the dominant considerations are--
- Long frontal engagements are ineffective.
- Frontal engagements should begin at less than 2,000 meters.
- Flank and rear engagements give great Pk.
Weapon planning ranges in the defense are a function of both Ph and Pk. A further understanding of Ph and Pk, particularly with tank cannons, is needed when planning and executing the defense. Commanders should know the specified lethality capabilities of the particular KE rounds they will be firing as they relate to the specific threat armor characteristics and vulnerabilities they will fight. While actual values of Ph and Pk are classified, it is obvious that Ph reduces as a function of range, as does Pk for KE penetrators (see Figure 4-1).
To figure the planning range for a tank, you need to know how many rounds you are willing to expend. It is possible to hit a threat tank at 3,000 meters but less probable to do so on the first round. Further, even given a hit, the Pk will be very low against turret frontal aspects. With limited rounds on board a tank (MlAl, 40; Ml, 55; M60A3, 63), and the time and logistical support needed for resupply, the commander must manage resources carefully. The idea is to make every bullet count, which requires reduced engagement ranges. There is a balance. Engaging at too close a range frontally will increase Ph and Pk, but reduce the number of targets that can be destroyed before the attacker is on your position. If mission considerations take priority, for example as in a delay mission, the engagement ranges may be extended at the cost of the number of kills possible before resupply is required. The ideal planning range is 1,500 meters. This can be extended with recognition of degraded Ph, degraded Pk against turret frontal armor, and reduced kills with the onboard load of ammunition.
Obscuration caused by smoke, fog, and dust can aid the attacker. The threat artillery capability is large enough that we must expect extensive use of smoke when it attacks, and we can count on the European battlefield being regularly obscured by fog. These two obscurants combine to be virtually impenetrable by thermal optics. The counter to this problem will be to design short-range engagements with EAs that are constrained between natural or man-made obstacles. A planning range of 1,000 to 1,500 meters will be appropriate if obscuration is expected.
The number of targets affects defensive operations. Defense missions imply a superiority in threat combat vehicles. The threat has the combat systems to maintain this superiority for extensive periods over broad frontages. The implication for the defender is to kill threat vehicles, and keep on killing them over a long period of time. Then, when the attacker-to-defender ratio is sufficiently reduced, at least locally, the defender must seize the initiative from the attacker. A defender who is particularly short of infantry cannot defend a BP for extended periods. Superior numbers of threat infantry will eventually force the positional defense. The counter to this is to defend in sector, using mobility to spread the killing of threat vehicles over time by spreading the fight over the terrain in depth.
Speed of the threat attack presents problems and necessitates solutions similar to those for dealing with the number of targets as discussed above. Speed causes more targets to be at a given point during a specific period. The counter to this must again be to spread the fight through the depth of a sector. Depth in the brigade sector will normally be achieved by deploying company teams in depth within the battalion sectors. Rarely could a brigade afford to thicken the battlefield sufficiently to have battalions in depth; and there would be significant C2 problems. At the other end of the spectrum, the team commander will normally fight his team intact on one position at a time. Normally, he will not split the company team and fight platoons in depth from different positions. This does not preclude moving platoons separately from one company team position to the next.
These four factors combine to favor a defender engaging threat forces from the flank and rear. Frontal engagements will work only at closer ranges. The combined effects of obscuration (smoke, fog, and dust), particularly on a European or desert battlefield, require close planning ranges with direct-fire weapons throughout the EA. In short, the plan must work with worst-case visibility. All these factors point to a short-range engagement. The defender must anticipate decisive engagement and plan accordingly by ensuring the engagement will be on as favorable terms as possible. This demands controlling the total number of threat vehicles confronted at any one time. Selecting restrictive terrain with choke points will help regulate the flow of the attacker into the killing area. In addition to the Ph and Pk considerations just discussed, engagements from the flank will increase the number of kills because it takes the threat longer to respond and return fire. This is especially true when it is forced to button up because its field of view is reduced to 7 degrees. Given effective fire distribution, the defender should be able to kill at least three vehicles per defending tank against the threat flank before the threat can begin to return fire.
An optimum direct-fire distribution plan would result in each target being killed only once. More targets and shooters in the fight make this increasingly difficult to achieve. It is difficult enough at platoon and company level. A battalion EA will almost certainly result in less efficient fire distribution due to duplication, masking, dead space, and obscuration. In an ideal situation, good fire distribution should allow a defending team with terrain masking that is engaging from the flank at 1,000 to 1,500 meters to quickly destroy a reinforced threat company. If the terrain is not ideal for such close engagement, the defender must adapt these principles to the terrain for longer ranges but recognize that this will degrade visibility, C2, Ph/Pk, and favorable direct-fire combat ratios (too many threat killers in too large an EA). A defender who repeatedly takes a series of totally lethal small bites will succeed. Brigade and higher commands must facilitate this fight by striving to obtain and then assign the right terrain to make it work. Battalion and company commanders and platoon leaders must then design EAs that will permit flank positioning as well as routes to displace.
Emplaced obstacles traditionally used to reroute forces into an EA should be prioritized to fix the threat's exit from the EA. Use of natural obstacles and terrain will be more effective to channel the threat and not reveal friendly positions and intentions. The execution phase will depend heavily on finding gaps in threat echelons or creating gaps with indirect fires to permit the defender to move quickly between its positions.
How the Threat Attacks
The three basic forms of offensive action on the battlefield are: an attack against a defending threat, a meeting battle, and a pursuit.
The ground forces attack in depth. This point is important for those who might have to defend against an attack, because focus on the operations of a single division does not properly magnify the problem. A defending brigade in the main sector of an attack could face one or two divisions initially, followed by additional divisions attacking to intensify the force and tempo of the offense.
The offensive against a defending threat usually is accomplished in two distinct but overlapping stages. The first is the concentration of combat power at a chosen point to rupture the threat defenses. In the second stage, the attack is intensified by the rapid exploitation of the success achieved in the first stage. To discuss this operation in terms more familiar to the reader from the US, the first stage will be called the breakthrough and the second stage the exploitation.
The breakthrough is accomplished by concentrating superior combat at the decisive point. In the breakthrough sector, the Soviet-style armies concentrate artillery for an intense preparation and for close FS during the operation. They use mass and economy of force to achieve at least a 3:1 advantage. This ratio is a minimum, and commanders try to achieve greater advantage in the sector of the main effort. Soviet-style doctrine lists a vigorous reconnaissance, use of all available FS, and a vigorous ground attack as requirements for a successful breakthrough.
The echelon forces try to maintain a rapid advance. The first echelon ruptures the defense and seals the shoulders of the penetration. The second echelon exploits this success by advancing through the penetration to seize deep objectives. The distinction between a second echelon and a reserve is that the second echelon is given a precisely defined mission before the attack. A reserve is not assigned an offensive mission ahead of time, but is assigned its mission during the course of the battle.
If the threat is given time to reconstitute a defense, the barrier to further offensive operations still exists, and the first stage of the operation must be repeated. To preclude this, the first echelon is allocated sufficient combat power to overwhelm the threat quickly. The army commander in a main sector is likely to place more than half of a division in the first echelon and use artillery from front-in preparation preceding the first echelon's assault.
Although the army commander assigns missions to divisions as he sees fit, a typical immediate task for a first-echelon division is to advance through the rear limits of a defending brigade's AO and destroy the division's reserve forces. A typical subsequent mission is to advance through the rear limits of the defending division's sector and to destroy the corps reserve forces. The mission for the day is a point slightly beyond the division's subsequent task. The total distance of the entire operation is 30 to 50 kilometers beyond the threat's FEBA.
In the exploitation stage of the operation, the army's second-echelon divisions move through the gap or gaps created by the first echelon and exploit in depth. In practice, the army commander has the flexibility to change directions of advance and mission for his divisions during the course of the battle. Likewise, division commanders are required to react to battlefield developments and to clarify instructions to regimental commanders as the operation develops.
A regiment in the first echelon may be ordered to go over to the defensive temporarily to meet a battlefield problem, and subsequently may be employed in the second echelon. The effect created by this is an attack in waves. If the threat has a well-organized defense in depth, the offensive is constructed to throw a fresh wave against each subsequent line of defense. If the defense is organized with most forces forward, offensive forces in the second echelon or second wave are prepared to advance quickly to objectives located far beyond the MBA after the penetration is achieved. For example, an army is prepared to advance to a depth of more than 150 kilometers with its second-echelon divisions. In this situation, exploitation divisions march in column in anticipation of a meeting engagement.
Conduct of a Motorized Rifle Division Attack
When faced with a prepared defense echeloned in depth with strong reserves, the Soviet-style armies conduct an offensive against a defending threat. An offensive against a defending threat could occur as follows.
A commander of a combined-arms army plans to conduct an offensive through a region defended by a threat division. The threat division is defended on a front of 45 kilometers with two brigades forward and one in depth. The army commander controls four MRDs and one tank division. He places the three MRDs in the first echelon and forms the second echelon from the tank division and the remaining MRD. The main attack is against the 12th Brigade, with a supporting attack against the 13th Brigade. As a result, the army commander decides to attack the 12th Brigade with two divisions and the 13th Brigade with one. Thus, the two divisions conducting the main attack are each concentrated on 9 to 10 kilometers frontages, although the division conducting the secondary attack has a frontage of 26 kilometers.
The army commander assigns missions to his divisions in the following terms (see Figure 4-2).
First Division (MRD)
Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units, attack in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 1, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries.
Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction A to B, destroy the threat in Region 2, and occupy Line Q-R within assigned boundaries.
Mission for the day. Advance in direction B to C, destroy the threat in Region 3, and occupy Line O-P within assigned boundaries.
Second Division (MRD)
Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units attacking in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 4, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries.
Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction D to E, destroy the threat in Region 5, and occupy Line Q-R within assigned boundaries.
Mission for the day. Advance in direction E to F, destroy the threat in Region 6, and occupy Line O-P within assigned boundaries. (Note that the final boundaries have expanded to 15 kilometers to facilitate passage of the second echelon.)
Third Division (MRD)
Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units, attack in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 7, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries.
Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction G to H, destroy the threat in Region 8, and occupy Line Q-R within assigned boundaries.
Mission for the day. Advance in direction H to J, destroy the threat in Region 9, and occupy Line O-P within assigned boundaries.
Fourth Division (TD)
Advance in the second echelon behind the first MRD. Be prepared to deploy in Regions 1 or 2 and develop success in direction B to C to Line O-P. Be prepared to advance in direction C to T to Line O'-P'.
Fifth Division (MRD)
Advance in the second echelon behind the second MRD. Be prepared to deploy in Regions 4 or 5 and to develop success in direction E to F to Line O-P. Be prepared to advance in direction F to V to Line O'-P'.
The division commander of the first MRD elects to make his main attack in the zone of the second MRR and gives the regiment a smaller frontage. He could place three regiments in the first echelon, but he has decided to attack with two regiments in the first echelon (see Figure 4-3).
First Regiment (MRR)
Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units, attack in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 1A, and occupy Line K-L within assigned boundaries.
Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction N to A, destroy the threat in Region 1B, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries. Further direction of advance B to C.
Second Regiment (MRR)
Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units, attack in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 1C, and occupy Line K-L within assigned boundaries.
Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction M to S, destroy the threat in Region 1D, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries. Further direction of advance Z to U.
Third Regiment (TR)
Advance in the second echelon behind the first MRR. Be prepared to deploy in Region 1A or 1B, and to develop success in direction A to B to Line Q-R or O-P.
Fourth Regiment (MRR)
Advance in the second echelon behind the second MRR. Be prepared to deploy in Regions 1C to 1D, and to develop success in the direction of S to Line Q-R or O-P.
Mission orders include preparations for a variety of contingencies. The detailed planning also includes planning for a variety of contingencies, and commanders are prepared to react to combat developments.
As the battle develops, threat resistance in the sector of the second MRR slows the advance while the first MRR breaks through, occupies Line K-L, and continues in direction N to A. The second MRR commander advises the division commander of the situation while, on his own initiative, he commits his second-echelon battalion around the left flank of the threat in his sector to exploit the first MRR's success and to protect the regiment's flank.
The division commander orders the second MRR commander to establish a defense and prepare to repulse a counterattack. He orders the commander of the fourth MRR to advance from the left front, in anticipation of the meeting engagement. The mission is to occupy Line W-Y in the original zone of the second MRR.
As combat develops, the threat forces are committed against the advancing fourth MRR. The fourth MRR conducts a meeting engagement that disperses the threat forces. The remaining threat elements that originally stopped the second MRR's advance are forced to withdraw. The second MRR joins the second echelon.
Meanwhile, the threat division commander has been forced to commit his reserve in the zone of the second MRD. As a result, the leading regiments of the first MRD encounter only scattered resistance and occupy Line Q-R, which is the division's subsequent task. The division commander then commits the third tank regiment and the second MRR to seize Line O-P.
The fourth TD has advanced in the sector of the first MRD. The second MRD, after temporarily going over to the defensive to repulse the counterattack by the threat division reserve, has joined the second echelon while the fifth MRD continued the advance in the second MRD's original sector.
The Soviet-style armies view the meeting battle as the most common form of combat. As shown in the discussion of the offensive against a defending threat, the Soviet-style armies intend to develop the offensive at a rapid tempo and disallow the threat time to reconstitute an effective defense. The collision of the two forces results in a meeting battle.
When contact is likely, the Soviet-style armies are organized for combat before contact with the threat. This organization is basically an advance guard and a main body. A unit places up to one-third of its combat power in the advance guard. Thus, the advance guard for an MRD may be a reinforced MRR. The advance guard aggressively attacks when the threat's leading elements are encountered. This stops the threat advance and force in his reconnaissance and security elements. While the threat is attempting to clarify the situation, the main body attacks on the flanks and rear.
The Soviet-style armies require units marching in anticipation of a meeting battle to conduct deep reconnaissance to clarify the situation. The Soviet-style armies emphasize time, and expect the unit to assume the offensive without waiting for clarification of the situation.
The commander must be alert to sudden changes in the situation. He must be prepared to shift fires, change direction, and establish new objectives. If he fails to seize the initiative, he must be prepared to organize a defense, halt the threat, and launch a counterattack. If the threat attacks with superior forces, the commander must be prepared to organize a defense in depth to contain the threat attack until other units can attack the flanks and rear of the threat.
Sample Meeting Battle
The second MRD is advancing in anticipation of a meeting battle in direction BLUE. The division marches with a reinforced MRR as the advance guard; and the main body marches on two parallel routes. The reconnaissance battalion is operating out to 60 kilometers from the forward detachment, and the forward detachment is 15 to 20 kilometers from the advance guard. The advance guard is 20 kilometers from the main body, and the length of the division main body is 35 kilometers from head to tail (see Figure 4-4).
The location of the reserve and the surrounding terrain suggest the most likely threat approach will be from the left front. Based on this information, the commander places his tank regiment on the left route of march, for it is from here that the tanks can best maneuver to attack the rear of the threat force.
The commander analyzes all terrain along the route of march and prepares for a variety of contingencies. He briefs his subordinate commander and conveys his concept of the operation. In this briefing he discusses likely points of contact and AAs along the route of march.
At 1245 hours, as the advance guard crosses PL ALPHA, the commander of the division reconnaissance battalion reports that a column of threat infantry and artillery about 20 kilometers in length is moving toward the division route of march from direction BLUE-RED (see Figure 4-5). The head of the column is in the vicinity of village SOVKHOZ. At 1255 hours, the advance guard reports that they have engaged a threat rifle company near village BORODINO. On the basis of this data, the commander is able to develop a preliminary idea of possible threat strength and actions. He decides that the entire division must be committed to a meeting engagement.
Meanwhile, without waiting for instructions, the friendly advance guard deploys to attack the threat security elements and advance guard. Simultaneously, the advance guard commander informs the division commander of the situation. The division commander reconfirms data from the initial briefing and orders the advance guard to seize key terrain to the south and east of BORODINO. The advance guard attacks, seizes the assigned terrain, and drives in threat reconnaissance and security, thus denying the threat his eyes and ears. The advance guard reaches PL BRAVO by 1415 hours.
By 1320 hours, the division commander has given combat missions by radio to the regimental commander of the main body. The tank regiment is given a direction of march, which is GREEN-HIGHLAND FALLS, and a line of deployment in the vicinity of HIGHLAND FALLS with left and right limits for a deployment sector. The mission is to destroy the threat in area FOXTROT and to secure Line DELTA within the sector. The regiment is also assigned a direction of further advance, which is HIGHLAND FALLS-BROWN.
The sixth MRR is given a new direction of march, which is PURPLE-POMPTON LAKES, and a line of deployment in the vicinity of POMPTON LAKES with a deployment sector as indicated. The mission is to destroy the threat in area ECHO and secure Line DELTA within sector. The regiment is also assigned a direction of further advance CHICKASHA-BEIGE.
The regiments march rapidly to their assigned deployment sectors and deploy as quickly as possible. The tank regiment deploys in the vicinity of HIGHLAND FALLS by 1455 hours. Without waiting for the MRRs to complete deployment, the tank regiment goes over to the attack against a partially deployed threat. At 1505 hours, the sixth MRR completes deployment and initiates its attack, followed by the seventh MRR at 1510 hours.
The tank regiment overwhelms the threat in area FOXTROT and reaches Line DELTA by 1600 hours. The threat manages to establish a hasty defense against the sixth and seventh MRRs, whose advances meet with great resistance. By 1600 hours, they have reached PL CHARLIE. The success of the tank regiment and pressure from the advance guard place the remaining threat forces in an untenable position, forcing them to withdraw to the southwest. The division commander responds by organizing a pursuit to complete the destruction of the threat (see Figure 4-6).
The concept of the pursuit is simple. The commander organizes his force to accomplish three basic tasks. First, part of the attacking force must maintain frontal pressure on the threat to prevent disengagement. Second, the commander uses part of his force to march on routes parallel to the threat withdrawal and attack his flanks. These attacks will prevent the threat from forming in column formation and slow his rate of withdrawal. Third, a portion of the force must outdistance the threat and block the withdrawal. This part of the force seizes key terrain and important positions in the path of withdrawing threat forces. The threat must be slowed, overtaken, and blocked.
When a threat unit is withdrawing hastily, a pursuit is organized to complete its destruction. The commanders are taught to be alert for signs of deliberate withdrawals designed to gain time or a more advantageous position. The pursuit also is used against a deliberate withdrawal to disrupt the orderly march, create panic, and turn the withdrawal into a rout.
The key to the pursuit is the early discovery of threat withdrawal. The threat must not be allowed to break contact. In the deliberate withdrawal, the threat may execute well-planned deception operations. A threat force under pressure can be expected to attempt to continue combat until nightfall and withdraw under the cover of darkness. The commanders must ensure active reconnaissance, understand threat tactics, and anticipate situations in which a withdrawal can be expected.
Listed indicators of a withdrawal are: nuclear strikes against first-echelon troops, increased movement and transport to the rear, a brief increase in fire on an individual sector of the front, a brief intensification of fire on individual or isolated sectors with a general reduction of fire across the entire front, a move to the rear of depots and rear area establishments, preparations for demolition and destruction of various structures, and the conduct of counterattacks by limited forces.
The commander must prevent the disengagement of threat forces. Attacks must be pressed so that the threat will not be able to conceal the withdrawal with limited screening forces. He organizes a pursuit on a route parallel to the threat movement with artillery in support of tanks, and with motorized infantry firing at threat troop concentrations at road junctions, defiles, bridges, and fording sites. This disrupts the threat march. Although some forces attack the flanks, other forces (usually tank units) outdistance the threat and block the withdrawal route. The encircled threat is then attacked and destroyed.
The threat conducting a deliberate withdrawal often has a well-organized barrier system that may include zones of contamination. In this situation, engineer and chemical defense units moving with MR and tank units must be prepared to overcome obstacles rapidly to maintain the rate of advance.
Airborne or airmobile operations are also used to outdistance the threat and seize key positions to block the threat withdrawal. The increased use of helicopters by the ground forces makes airmobile operations in the pursuit more likely.
Sample Pursuit Operation
By 1600 hours, the second MRD has been partially successful in the conduct of a meeting engagement. Although the sixth and seventh MRRs have advanced only to Line CHARLIE, the eighth tank regiment has dispersed a threat brigade and has seized Line DELTA within the assigned boundaries. The ninth MRR holds dominating terrain on Line BRAVO.
The threat commander decides to withdraw. He organizes aggressive but limited counterattacks all along the front to conceal his intentions. He also steps up artillery fire along the front. At about 1715 hours, as darkness falls, the threat briefly increases artillery fire on the right flank of the eighth tank regiment and the left flank of the sixth MRR while conducting aggressive demonstrations with a reinforced battalion left in contact. At the same time, the main force of the threat moves to the rear, organizes into its march organizations, and begins to move on the road leading in the direction of ROCKVILLE-Bridge YANKEE.
Long-range aerial reconnaissance has reported well-prepared threat defensive positions beyond the River JORDAN east of WHEATON, with the forward elements of an threat division already in position. At 1730 hours, reconnaissance elements of the sixth MRR report threat troops on the road withdrawing from the front and moving in direction CACHE-NORFOLK. The division commander decides the threat is trying to withdraw and organizes a pursuit (see Figure 4-7). He orders the eighth tank regiment to pursue in direction LAWTON-Bridge YANKEE and seize approaches to Bridge YANKEE, Road Junction WHISKEY, and Hill 834. The sixth MRR is ordered to destroy the threat in the vicinity of MERIDIAN and to pursue in direction LAWTON-ODESSA-MIDLAND. The seventh MRR is to attack in direction NORFOLK-ROCKVILLE, destroy threat screening or covering forces, and maintain contact with the main threat force. The ninth MRR is to destroy the threat in the vicinity of COLUMBUS and pursue in direction SHREVEPORT-DENHAM SPRINGS (see Figure 4-8).
At 1830 hours, the eighth tank regiment reports that it is crossing Line LAWTON-SHREVEPORT (see Figure 4-9). At 1835 hours, the sixth MRR reports the destruction of an estimated threat rifle company in the vicinity of MERIDIAN. The regiment is moving in column across Line DELTA toward LAWTON. The ninth MRR reports the route of an estimated threat company near COLUMBUS at 1840 hours. The regiment is moving toward SHREVEPORT, but is receiving some artillery fire from the left flank. The seventh MRR reports at 1840 hours that it has driven in threat screening forces and secured Line DELTA, but has not made contact with the main threat column.
At 1845 hours, reconnaissance elements from the sixth MRR report that threat security elements are passing near NORFOLK. The division commander, located near the head of the sixth MRR's column, orders the regimental commander to conduct a battalion-size attack at 1910 hours and seize Line NORFOLK-CACHE.
Darkness and difficult terrain slow the rates of march for both Soviet-style armies and threat forces. The attack by an MRB of the sixth MRR drives in threat screening forces, but meets heavy resistance near the road. The battalion occupies the assigned boundary by 2345 hours. Threat counterattacks against the battalion's left flank force the regimental commander, now at Line LAWTON-SHREVEPORT, to commit an additional battalion in direction LAWTON-NORFOLK to secure the position.
At 0040 hours, reconnaissance from the tank regiment reports threat security detachments in the vicinity of ROCKVILLE. Meanwhile, the tank regiments advance guard is approaching Road Junction WHISKEY. By radio, the division commander orders the ninth MRR to conduct a battalion-size attack to seize Line RESTON-CAMERON. At 0130 hours, the tank regiment reports that it has seized Road Junction WHISKEY and approaches to Bridge YANKEE. At 0330 hours, the ninth MRR reports the seizure of Line RESTON-CAMERON. The battalion on the line reports heavy small-arms fire to its front, but no counterattack. At the same time, the sixth MRR reports heavy small-arms fire to its front, but no counterattack. Simultaneously, the sixth MRR reports heavy small-arms fire to its front and a 10-minute intense artillery strike as its lead elements cross Line LAWTON-SHREVEPORT. At 0400 hours, security elements of the tank regiment report contact with the threat on the road in the vicinity of KILLEEN. Hill 834 is also now secure.
The two battalions of the sixth MRR that had secured Line NORFOLK-CACHE move ahead as the lead elements of the seventh MRR close on CACHE. These battalions march behind the main body of the regiment. Under orders from the division commander, the main body secures Line MIDLAND at 0330 hours. At 0410 hours, the remaining battalions rejoin the regiment. The remaining battalions of the ninth MRR secure Line BOISE-ALTUS-CAMERON by 0430 hours. The seventh MRR secures Line RESTON-LAWTON by 0435 hours.
The division commander orders the tank regiment to attack at 0510 hours in direction Road Junction WHISKEY-CAMERON to destroy the threat within their assigned boundaries, and to occupy Line ALTUS-RESTON. The sixth MRR is to attack at 0510 hours in direction MIDLAND-QUINCY, destroy threat within assigned boundaries, and occupy Line RESTON-QUINCY. The seventh MRR and the ninth MRR are to block and prevent threat escape. One battalion from the division artillery regiment and one MRB from the ninth MRR are to cover the approaches to the river with fire to protect against possible threat actions from the threat strongpoint near WHEATON.
The attack is launched at 0510 hours. By 0800 hours, the tank regiment and the sixth MRR have seized their assigned lines, and the threat has been dispersed. The commander then regroups to prepare for a breakthrough operation against defenses in front of WHEATON. He reports the situation to the army commander.
Conduct of Tank Division Attack
A division normally attacks with most of its combat power in a first echelon or a strong single echelon. The remaining forces are organized into a second echelon, a combined arms reserve, or special reserves, such as engineer, chemical or AT subunits. The main difference between a second-echelon force and a combined-arms reserve is that the former has an assigned mission, but the latter does not (see Figure 4-10).
Within the division's attack zone, a main attack axis may be designated based on terrain, disposition of threat defenses, or the order received from army or higher headquarters. One or two of its first-echelon regiments probably would attack along or abreast of the main attack axis. Another first-echelon regiment probably would conduct a supporting attack.
A second-echelon regiment normally has a mission to continue the attack against a deeper objective along the main attack axis. Normal commitment of a second-echelon regiment takes place after the division's immediate objective has been achieved. The second echelon is committed by the commander when and where it can best contribute to overall success.
A regiment designated a combined-arms reserve would not have an assigned objective at the beginning of an attack. It would be held in readiness to attack along the most opportune axis at a time determined by the division commander. Before being committed, second-echelon or combined-arms reserve subunits advance in march or prebattle formation approximately 15 to 30 kilometers to the rear of the first echelon. This distance varies with the situation. The commander keeps second echelon or reserve forces far enough forward to influence the battle in a timely manner, but far enough to the rear to protect them from the bulk of threat direct-fire and direct-support weapons.
When attacking with three regiments in a single echelon, a division zone of attack is normally 15 to 25 kilometers wide. This width could vary considerably with the situation. Within the zone of attack, there probably would be no distinct, continuous division attack frontage. Each of the three first-echelon regiments attacks on its own axis, with situation-variable spaces between regiments. Regimental attack frontages can vary from as little as 3 kilometers to as much as 8 kilometers, depending on the regiment's mission and battle formation.
A division may attack on multiple axes with no obvious main attack. The division array would be similar to that just described, with three regiments about equally dispersed in a single echelon. The leading regiments attack and probe for weak points in threat defenses, penetrate wherever they can, and develop penetrations. The division commander allows the battle to develop to a stage where he can determine which penetration promises the best opportunity to drive into the threat rear. He then commits his combined arms reserve through this penetration.
A division attack could include a vertical envelopment by a heliborne force of up to battalion size. An organic MRB, stripped of its combat vehicles and reinforced with airmobile CS, could conduct such an assault.
Heliborne assaults could extend out to 50 kilometers beyond the FEBA. Likely objectives are key terrain such as defiles, bridges, or river-crossing sites. A division may employ a forward detachment, such as a reinforced tank battalion, to link up with a heliborne assault. It is likely that forward detachments also would be employed throughout an offensive operation, particularly after penetrating the threat main defensive area.
A division forward detachment of reinforced battalion size may be dispatched on a swift, independent penetration into the threat depths to seize and hold a tactical objective until the arrival of main forces. It may also be used for tactical raids. In either case, missions of forward detachments are intended to accelerate the advance of main forces and the dissolution of the threat defense.
Typical objectives for a forward detachment include--
- Road junctions.
- River-crossing sites.
- Mountain passes.
- Air defense weapons.
- Rockets and missiles.
- Communications centers.
- Tactical reserves.
- Withdrawing forces.
Advance guards differ from forward detachments in mission. An advance guard is a march security element that protects and warns the main marching force and engages threat forces encountered on the march route. A forward detachment is a deep-attack force detailed to achieve an independent mission. It is not restricted to the route of its main force.
Brigade commanders need information to fight the close-in battle of the brigade against threat first-echelon regiments. They also need accurate intelligence about threat second-echelon regiments within first-echelon divisions and follow-on forces which can close on their AO before the current engagement can be decisively concluded.
The brigade commander needs specific information about--
- The composition, equipment, strengths, and weaknesses of advancing forces.
- The location, direction, and speed of threat first-echelon battalions and their subordinate companies.
- The location and activities of threat second and follow-on echelons capable of reinforcing the first echelon.
- The location of threat indirect-fire weapon systems and units.
- The location of gaps, assailable flanks, and other tactical weaknesses in the threat's order of battle and OPSEC posture.
- The locations of antiaircraft and missile artillery units.
- The location of SAM units.
- The location of radioelectronic combat units.
- The effects of weather and terrain on current and projected operations.
- The most likely withdrawal routes for threat forces.
- The anticipated timetable or event schedule associated with the threat's most likely course of action.
Specific information about threat first-and second-echelon regimental C3 facilities is of paramount concern to the brigade commander. He seeks to know the specific locations of threat--
- Division forward and main CPs.
- Regimental and battalion CPs.
- Fire direction control centers.
- Radio and radar reconnaissance sites.
- Radioelectronic combat sites.
- Target acquisition sites.
The suppression, neutralization, and/or destruction of threat C3 systems and facilities is critical to the success of the close-in battle. Brigade S2s, in concert with supporting division and corps IEW, maneuver, and FS units, use all available means to identify, locate, disrupt, and destroy these targets. Their objective is to neutralize the threat commander's capability to command and control troops. Normally, the brigade S2 receives his information from the following sources:
- Maneuver unit observation-spot reports/patrols.
- Field artillery units.
- Weapons-locating radar, cannon, rocket, mortar.
- Moving-target radar.
- Air defense units.
- Forward area alerting radar.
- Target alert data display set.
- MI assets.
- Remote sensors
- Counterintelligence support.
- EPW interrogation teams.
- Aerial surveillance-side-looking radar.
- Ground EW assets-collection and jamming.
- Reconnaissance flights.
- In-flight reports.
The key to effective processing of collected information is IPB. In planning for defensive operations, IPB is addressed in the following manner.
Evaluation of AOs and interest. The commander should be provided sufficient information to examine the battlefield multidimensionally. The data bases used to accumulate and evaluate this information include maps (especially engineer maps), aerial photos, and threat organization workbook data. Much of this is available in division intelligence estimates.
Terrain analysis. In this step, the IPB analyst is tasked to describe those geographic, militarily significant factors that can impact on trafficability and intervisibility for intelligence collection, target acquisition, and weapons capabilities within the brigade area of influence. A slope overlay is another example of the many possible terrain factor overlays that can be developed and used by the analyst. Terrain analysis reduces uncertainties about terrain effect on friendly and threat capabilities to move, shoot, and communicate.
Weather analysis. In this step, the traditional weather products, the weather observation, and the forecast and climatic studies do not provide all the information the analyst requires. Products such as the fog overlay are constructed so that seasonal fog pattern and density effects on trafficability and intervisibility can be studied.
Threat evaluation. Threat evaluation uses detailed analysis of threat doctrine, tactics, weapons, equipment, and associated battlefield functional systems to determine the size, type, location, and mission of threat forces. These doctrinal templates provide descriptions of unit and force composition and depict how the threat would like to be configured to fight if not constrained by terrain or weather factors. These templates consist of equipment numbers and ratios, electromagnetic signatures, or spacial distribution of elements within units or forces. This is also the step where potential high-value targets for attack are identified, such as threat CP positions.
All of the various terrain and weather factor overlays are then combined to create a combined obstacle overlay. This overlay now shows all major terrain and weather related obstacles that can influence mobility within the brigade area. The analyst identifies AAs into the brigade's AO. Mobility corridors permitting movement within these AAs are selected based on the threat's capabilities.
Threat integration. This final step relates how the threat force would like to fight in a specific terrain and weather scenario as a basis for determining how the threat force might have to fight by integrating the previous four steps. The template construction process essential to this step consists of producing doctrinal, situation, event, and decision support templates for use by the commander, staff officers, and analysts. The doctrinal template was described during the discussion of step one of the IPB process (see Figure 4-11).
The situation template is a doctrinal template with terrain and weather constraints applied to it. It is produced by placing a doctrinal template over a selected mobility corridor or specific terrain configuration and noting how the threat force must modify to account for terrain constraints.
As a threat force moves along a mobility corridor, it will be required to do certain things dictated by terrain, weather, and tactics. Based on rate of movement, terrain, and tactical considerations, the analyst selects NAIs where he expects to see certain activities. NAIs facilitate focusing acquisition assets. NAIs may become TAIs. Activity, or lack of it, will help confirm or deny a particular threat course of action. When plans are developed to place fires, such as artillery, on NAIs, they then become TAIs as well.
The event template is a projection of what will most likely have to occur if a certain course of action is adopted by the threat. On the example of an event template in Figure 4-12, NAIs 2, 3, 6, and 9 are areas where activity would provide indications of intent. Activity in NAI 6 would indicate whether mobility corridor ALPHA or BRAVO would be adopted as the route of advance. Movement of threat bridging elements forward as the force approached the destroyed bridge at NAI 9 would be an indication that a river crossing would be attempted, rather than a move to NAI 12 where river crossing should be less difficult. The other NAIs represent intermediate points for collection planning purposes or tracking for target development purposes. How one leg of a mobility corridor might be represented is shown on the event analysis matrix.
The matrix shown in Figure 4-13 enables the analyst to correlate an event or activity with the geographic location and time at which the event is expected to take place. This capability, along with situation templates, provides the basis for critical node or high-value target analysis. Estimated times between NAI are derived by determining effects of terrain and normal seasonal conditions on doctrinal rates of advance, derived from steps three and four of the IPB process. The event template and event analysis matrix allow initiation of precise collection requirements and best use of limited collection assets against the vast array of potential targets on the future battlefield. Such information provides the basis for constructing decision support templates.
Event and decision support templates, the most important products of the IPB process, represent a reduction of all analysis and template construction tasks to an intelligence estimate in graphic form of the who, what, where, when, and threat strength the commander faces.
DPs represent areas chosen from TAI because of time and distance factors. If the commander has not made a decision before threat forces reach or pass a DP, a set of options that had existed may be negated. For example, DP 1 may be related to an option to force the threat to use mobility corridor ALPHA by blowing the bridge at TAI 3 before the threat reaches the NAI 6 junction. If the force moves too far toward mobility corridor BRAVO before the bridge is blown, the threat may decide to use that route anyway and attempt a river-crossing operation.
The commander must decide to blow the bridge at TAI 3 by the time the threat reaches DP 3 or there may not be time to destroy it. DPs 4, 5, and 6 represent points equating to predetermined times from the friendly position based on analysis done for the events analysis matrix. The commander must make a decision by the time any of these points are reached by threat forces if he is to maneuver his troops effectively.
Upon completion of the decision support template, the brigade S2 will develop his collection plan (see Figure 4-14). The S3 also uses these products for recommending initial friendly deployment, task organization, and subsequent redirection of assets for both the close-in battle and the deep fight. Targeting and target development data are provided to FS systems for immediate attack and interdiction.
Counteraction. For the brigade to succeed, it must counteract the threat initiative. Security, intelligent use of terrain, flexibility of defensive operations, and timely resumption of offensive actions are the keys to a successful defense. The crux of the defensive problem for the brigade is to gain time. Time is needed to ensure a synchronized, effective defense. The commander organizes his defensive effort based on METT-T analysis and the higher commander's concept. He decides where to concentrate his effort and how to economize his forces. He assigns missions, and allocates forces, fires, other support, and service support resources to fight a combined-arms battle.
The commander decides where to set up his main effort. A defense in the forward part of the sector requires early commitment of the main defensive effort. This is done by an initial forward deployment of forces or by counterattacks well forward in the MBA. Defense in depth may be selected when missions are less restrictive, defensive sectors are deep, and key terrain is deep in the sector. Normally, a wider sector can be defended by division and corps employing a defense in depth. A defense in depth requires elements in the CFA and forward in the MBA to identify, define, and control the depth of the threat main effort. The flanks of the main effort are identified, and counterattacks are used to isolate and destroy threat forces in the MBA. The disposition of threat forces is the major consideration in selecting the form of defense.
In general, a forward defense with the main effort in the forward area of the MBA is favored when--
- The best defensive positions are located along the FEBA.
- Strong natural obstacles are located near the FEBA.
- The defensive sector is of limited depth.
- There is limited concealment to the rear.
- Retention of terrain in the forward area is dictated by the higher commander's concept of the operation.
A defense in depth of the MBA is favored when--
- The mission allows the commander to fight over the depth of the battlefield.
- The terrain does not favor a defense well forward and there is better defensible terrain deeper in the sector.
- Significant depth is available.
- There is limited cover and concealment on or near the FEBA.
- Nuclear weapons may be used.
A variety of tactics, techniques, or procedures may be used by brigades in the defense. At one end of the continuum is an absolutely static defense oriented completely on terrain retention, which depends on the use of firepower from fixed positions to deny terrain. At the other end is a dynamic defense focused on the threat, which depends on maneuver to disrupt and destroy the attacking force. Brigade operations combine the static element to control, stop, or canalize the attacker, and the dynamic element to strike and defeat the threat forces.
Whatever techniques of defense are chosen, the scheme makes use of maneuver and offensive tactics. When the threat has committed his forces, the defender's chief advantages are his abilities to seize the initiative and counterattack over familiar ground (protected by his own positions) to destroy a halted, disorganized threat. The deep battle, the close-in battle, and the rear battle are planned as complementary actions that support a unified battle plan.
Organization. Brigade commanders organize the battlefield for defense by assigning either sectors or BPs to subordinate battalions or task forces.
Sectors give the battalion task forces freedom to maneuver and decentralize fire planning. They allow the task force commander to distribute his teams to suit the terrain and plan a battle that integrates direct and indirect fires. In assigning sectors to the forward battalions, the brigade commander ensures that the defensive plans of each of the battalions are compatible, and that brigade control measures, such as coordination points and PLs, are sufficient for flank coordination. If the battalions prepare their defensive plans in isolation, an assailable flank between battalions could easily occur.
TIP: The brigade commander must make sure the coordination between the two battalions is tight. To do this during the planning phase, the commander can take the two subordinate commanders to a vantage point in the MBA to rehearse the battle and plan coordination between their units. This will assist in the formation of common control measures for the two battalions. One example of restrictive boundary coordination between the two battalions is to have a combat vehicle on each side of the boundary collocate on the coordination point. These vehicles are fender-to-fender, with the vehicle commanders passing information to each other to maintain the flow of information between the two battalions. This creates a channel of communication that supplements the battalion commander cross-talk, and notifies each commander when the flank unit is being moved. Despite the restrictiveness of this method, it provides the most positive coordination of the boundary.
BPs are used when the brigade commander wishes to control maneuvering and positioning of his task forces. They are also used when it is necessary to concentrate task forces rapidly. When the brigade commander establishes BPs, he controls maneuver outside those BPs. He prescribes primary directions of fire by the orientation of the position, and is responsible for fire and maneuver planning between positions of different battalions. If he assigns a BP and a sector, he is giving the task force commander specific guidance on initial positioning of forces (see Figure 4-15).
A strongpoint is a heavily fortified BP tied to the natural and reinforcing obstacle to create an anchor for the defense (see Figure 4-16). It is reduced only by a threat infantry deliberate attack. A strongpoint is located on a terrain feature critical to the defense or used to block a bottleneck formed by terrain obstacles. Strongpoints in small urban areas, astride routes, or along AAs may halt a superior threat force for a considerable time. To be most effective, the strongpoint should be a surprise to the threat. It causes congestion and limits the threat force's maneuver. It is best used to set up a counterattack. Strongpoints must be well camouflaged and protected.
A strongpoint is not routinely established. It is established only after the commander determines that a strongpoint is absolutely necessary to slow the threat or to prevent a penetration of his defensive system. The decision to do so must be carefully weighed, and must consider the following factors:
- A minimally effective strongpoint requires one day's effort from an engineer organization the size of the defending force.
- The force that establishes the strongpoint may become isolated or lost.
- The force that establishes the strongpoint loses its freedom to maneuver outside the strongpoint.
- The force that establishes the strongpoint must be given sufficient time to build the position-the more time the better.
- The strongpoint must be on terrain that is defendable for 360 degrees.
AAs or BPs are established for reserve forces. An AA is used for the reserve if they are assigned a counterattack mission without the possibility of having to defend their AAs. BPs are designated if the reserve may defend in depth.
Operations control measures, such as PLs, boundaries, contact points and passage points, checkpoints, direction of attack arrows, and objectives combine with fire control measures to provide a means of controlling the battle. The commander's concept or Paragraph 3 of the OPORD describes the purpose of the control measures.
The commander's tactical scheme must include plans for deep, close, and rear operations. The objective of the defense is to halt the threat, seize the initiative, and go to the offensive. The commander's tactical scheme must include plans to counterattack against the threat rear or flank whenever possible. The brigade reserve is the key to the execution of offensive operations.
The reserve and the brigade commander. The brigade commander makes fundamental decisions concerning the size, composition, and mission of the reserve. Secondary purposes of the reserve are to--
- Reinforce the defense of committed forces.
- Contain threat forces that have penetrated.
- React to rear-area threats.
- Relieve depleted units and provide for continuous operations.
In difficult terrain lacking routes for movement, smaller reserve units may be positioned in the brigade areas where they can react quickly to the local battle. Covered lateral and forward high-speed deployment routes should be available. In more open terrain, the brigade may have a battalion in reserve in considerable depth. The threat tactical nuclear and air interdiction potential is considered when units are positioned in the rear.
In addition to designating reserve forces, the commander prepares to reconstitute a reserve once the reserve is committed. Forces most easily designated are the reserves of subordinate units. If the commander is able to establish a reserve, then the subordinate commanders are free to use all their forces as they see fit. Without a brigade reserve, the task force commanders need to maintain local reserves.
The brigade commander uses the DPs and the NAIs throughout the sector to orient his reserve and to trigger decisions on its commitment. Threat arrival in such NAIs is tied to the time operations are conducted to support the reserve's commitment. TAIs are also identified for deep attack in support of reserve operations.
The reserve and offensive action (see Figure 4-17). In planning offensive actions of the reserve, the commander considers the threat situation and estimates the time and distance factors relating to following threat echelons. Then he determines which of his units will attack, where they will be after the attack, and what interdiction is necessary to isolate the threat. Attacking units avoid threat strength. The most effective attacks seize strong positions that permit the attacking force to deliver fire on an exposed threat's flanks and rear. If the force is to stay and defend against another threat echelon, it must gain good defensive positions before folowing threat echelons can interfere.
Although he plans for the attack in the overall defensive planning, the commander realizes it is unlikely that the action will correspond exactly to prepared attack plans. As the situation develops, the commander answers these basic questions--
- Is an attack feasible, or should the reserve be employed to contain threat success?
- When and where should the attack be executed?
- In the event of penetrations, which should be attacked and which should be blocked or contained?
- Is the window of opportunity large enough to complete the counterattack prior to closure of the next threat echelon?
When attacking, the commander launches with all available resources necessary to ensure success. The reserve effort becomes the main effort. He avoids piecemeal commitment of the reserve. The commander does not attack or counterattack as an automatic reaction to a threat penetration nor does he commit the reserve solely because the threat has reached a certain PL or area. When possible, the attack is launched when the threat presents his flank or rear, when he has become overextended, or when his momentum dissipates.
The counterattack plan includes the mission, to include a brief statement of the mission assigned by the higher headquarters and the intent of the higher headquarters; the assumptions, to include the size and shape of the assumed penetration or threat formation; the strength and composition of the threat force; and the status of forces in the MBA. Other factors include the capability to contain the threat, deep battle assets available to support the attack, the strength and responsiveness of the reserve at the time of the attack execution, the availability and capabilities of nuclear and chemical munitions, and other means.
The brigade prepares counterattack plans and then provides sufficient time to the battalion headquarters to plan. If possible, plans are distributed with the basic defense plans. Detailed counterattack planning is conducted by reserve force commanders and includes reconnaissance, selection of multiple routes, determination of time and space factors, rehearsals, coordination with elements in the forward defending forces, and fire planning. Based on rehearsals, the commander makes specific adjustments.
The reserve and the spoiling attack. At times, reserves are employed in a spoiling attack to throw the threat preparations for the attack off stride. The following basic considerations affect the use of the spoiling attack:
- The spoiling attack delays, disrupts, and destroys the threat's capability to launch his attack.
- The objective of the attack is to destroy threat personnel and equipment, not to secure terrain and other physical objectives.
- Commanders may want to limit the size of the force used in any spoiling attack.
- Spoiling attacks are not conducted if the loss or destruction of the force jeopardizes the ability of the command to accomplish its defensive mission.
- The mobility of the force available for the spoiling attack should be equal to or exceed that of the threat force.
- Attack by artillery or air of threat reinforcements are necessary to ensure the success of the attack.
Commanders coordinate plans for counterattacks and spoiling attacks using the attack techniques discussed in Chapter 3. The spoiling attack has many of the characteristics of reconnaissance-in-force operations.
Reinforcing with the reserve. In some situations, the brigade commander determines that he cannot counterattack. He uses resources to contain or delay the threat to gain time for employment of the reserve of the higher echelon.
The brigade commander and staff consider how reinforcing battalions and companies will be integrated into the defensive scheme, the placement of BPs, the routes they will use, and the C2 arrangements. The positioning and movement of reinforcements is speeded by designating routes and providing traffic control personnel and guides at contact points to lead and brief them on the situation. Scouts, MPs, and divisional cavalry units can provide traffic control.
The maneuver commander integrates CS assets to maximize combat power. To focus combat power, the commander identifies the brigade main effort. Designating the main effort links subordinate commander's actions to provide cohesion and synchronization. As he develops his battle plan, he must visualize how he will synchronize his field artillery and other CS assets at the decisive time and place on the battlefield. Fires should be planned to break up threat formations, exploit known defiles, and augment the direct fires of the brigade. Indirect fires must be combined with the brigade's obstacle plan to maximize its effect. Stay-behind patrols positioned to observe NAI/TAI/DPs should also have the capability to adjust indirect fire. Indirect fires must also be planned along flank AAs as a preventive measure. FASCAM employment should be weighed against time, available tubes, and relative target effect. All BPs should be targeted and FPFs plotted as appropriate.
Synchronization of direct and indirect fires with obstacles multiplies effects on the threat. An obstacle is an excellent location for preplanning artillery fires. The artillery will contribute to the threat's difficulties in attacking through the obstacle and make it more effective.
Artillery fires can assist in forcing a desired response if they support the obstacle plan by attacking any threat action. If the obstacle has a disrupt function designed to interrupt the threat's time table on a particular route, artillery fires can add to the difficulty of breaching. If the obstacle belt is turning, indirect fires are employed to ensure they drive in the desired direction. When a moving threat force encounters an obstacle, the locations where the force stacks up should be identified and targeted. Vehicles passing through a breached lane are not necessarily a good target for indirect fires, as Soviet-style doctrine calls for a large number of widely dispersed lanes to allow the force to pass through deployed. During this time, the artillery must be prepared for a large counterbattery effort.
Copperhead is a limited resource with significant first-round-hit capability. As such, its targets must be carefully selected to cause the most damage to the threat. One use is to target breaching assets. This would include the IMR armored counterobstacle vehicle, the BTR-50 countermine vehicle, the MTU-20 AVLB, and any tank equipped with rollers, plows, or a blade. As these assets are in limited supply, killing them has long-term effects on his attack. Using Copperhead against vehicles passing through a breached obstacle also multiplies its effects. The vehicle is limited in its maneuverability, therefore, is more vulnerable, and its destruction can block the lane.
Artillery-delivered FASCAM, when used at the critical point and time, is another limited resource with high payoff. Unfortunately, FASCAM requires a large number of artillery tubes and rounds of ammunition to emplace when the commander will have a high number of tire missions. However FASCAM is employed, the commander must weigh the factors that limit its delivery speed against the pace of the threat actions.
The fire plan and obstacle plan must be integrated from the very beginning. For the plans to work, the FISTs must understand the commander's intent, the obstacle plan concept, the integration of all arms, and their specific roles. Figures 4-18 through 4-20 illustrate a brigade FS plan with its execution matrix.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
Brigades get broad guidance from higher headquarter regarding employment of obstacles.
Obstacle zones. The division commander designates obstacle zones where lower echelons employ obstacles. Tactical obstacles are allowed within the designated zones, which allows unrestricted division maneuver outside of the zones.
Specific obstacles. The division commander specifies certain high priority obstacles for preparation and execution. These obstacles are of great importance to likely follow-on maneuver. Specified obstacles receive the highest priority by the designated brigade.
Obstacle-fee zones. The division commander specifies such zones to allow maneuver without restrictions. This occurs on a division counterattack route or within a counterattack objective.
Using FASCAM to close a breach through an obstacle can be done after the lanes are opened, making the obstacle more effective and requiring mom effort to breach. FASCAM also can be used to reinforce a critical obstacle that failed to perform its intended purpose (for example, a blocking obstacle that was overrun), or that was not able to be completed in time. It car be critical as a contact-breaking obstacle to allow a force to evacuate a BP. It also can be used to thicken an obstacle system when attack is imminent and threat intentions have been determined.
Brigade Guidance to Subordinate Units
Task forces assigned BPs or strongpoints will be allocated obstacle belts by the brigade. If the brigade assigns a sector to subordinate task forms, the only obstacle control measure that is appropriate for the brigade is an obstacle-free zone. Obstacle belt functions, symbols, and lethality are shown in Figure 4-21.
Turning belts. A turning belt encourages the attacker to move in a direction established by the defender, but appears to support the attacker's plan. It blocks the attacker's original line of march. Turning belts may contain a mixture of turning, fixing, and blocking obstacles to accomplish the task. Turning belts at threat DPs influence his decision. They are used to encourage threat penetration at a location selected by the defender. This is done either to set up the threat attacker for defeat in an EA or to deflect him away from critical terrain. Turning belts also can gradually turn the attacker away from his objective, confusing his plan and breaking his timing.
Disruption belts. A disruption belt is used to attack the threat commander's timetable. Its primary employment is against a force moving in column along high-speed routes to force a time-consuming bypass or breaching operation. A disruption belt is employed against maneuver to delay a moving force for at least 30 minutes. Disruption belts are used in the CFA to slow the arrival of initial forces, require early employment of breaching assets, and provide time delay between attacking echelons. In the MBA, they attack threat C2 by destroying threat timetables and unit synchronization. To provide the required delay to disrupt maneuver timetables, the minimal disruption belt contains obstacles cutting each high-speed route in three places. These obstacles should be located so that a single bypass does not pass more than one obstacle, thus requiring three separate bypasses or breaches. Bypasses should be difficult. Ideally, obstacles should be spaced so that the head of the bypassing force strikes the subsequent obstacle while the tail is still on the bypass of the previous obstacle. The purpose of this is to cause telescoping of the column and add to control difficulties. This will occur if the next obstacle is approximately 2 kilometers beyond the point when the bypass rejoins the route. An exception to this technique is a single obstacle providing the necessary breaching or bypass delay, such as the destruction of a major bridge with lengthy bypass.
Disruption belts are improved by adding additional point obstacles on the high-speed routes, obstacles on the most likely bypasses, and killer obstacles to secondary, parallel routes normally used by threat reconnaissance elements. These usually consist of point minefields designed to destroy armored reconnaissance vehicles, and include Claymore mines placed 8 to 10 feet off the ground to kill vehicle commanders and force survivors to button up.
Fixing belts. A fixing belt is used to attack the threat commander's ability to control his formation, execute battle drills, and rapidly move to close with defenders. For a fixing belt to accomplish its purpose, the attacking unit one level down must respond to an obstacle twice. This means that for a battalion to attack, the company must respond. The worst-case situation would be for the attacker to be deployed into platoon columns, with companies deployed on line, this allows rapid movement and is the optimum breaching formation. To cause companies to respond, the fixing obstacles must cover about 50 percent of the AA; if less, two of the three platoon columns in a deployed company would miss the obstacle, and the company would bypass.
Fixing obstacles are used in conjunction with direct AT fires to kill attacking formations. They are designed within EAs, and are very closely integrated with fires.
In addition to direct-fire coverage, major considerations in siting fining belts is causing sufficient lateral movement to generate good flank and rear shots against the threat. The belt should be fairly deep-on the order of 2 kilometers. This ensures that the part of the formation that has not encountered an obstacle will appear to have bypassed successfully. The direct-fire system will appear as a nuisance for any single engagement. The direct-fire systems should engage only those vehicles that have slowed and turned because of the obstacles, allowing unhindered movement of those that have not. This will kill the formation from the rear, allow shots against the easier targets, and disguise just what is happening.
Blocking belts. A blocking belt prevents the threat from penetrating the defense with its formation. This is the most dense obstacle system, and is exceptionally well integrated into covering fires. The obstacles are complete with counterbreach devices. They are tied into natural obstacles so that bypassing will take longer than breaching. Blocking belts are employed to limit penetrations or to cover terrain that must be retained. Overwatching fires are the primary consideration in siting blocking obstacles within the belt. Due to the effort necessary to construct them, they are usually sited in choke points or constrictions in the attacker's AA.
Blocking belts are designed to require the attacking formation one level down to respond to the obstacle several times. It also requires the attacker to respond enough to expend all of his breaching devices before he inches the last band of obstacles. This requires four encounters for a regiment or three encounters for a battalion.
Directed obstacles. The brigade commander will frequently single out certain key obstacles, and designate them for preparation and/or execution. These obstacles are typically bridges across important MSRs, artillery-delivered FASCAM minefield, or road craters that would seal off an avenue. The brigade commander also designates the emplacing and overwatching units for division-specific obstacles.
Planning factors. When the brigade plan is developed it is necessary to estimate the effort required to support each task to task organize the engineers and allocate resources. Obstacles are normally planned and sited at task force level. It is possible to develop an estimate based on the planned obstacle belts, their functions, and the size of the AAs. Production planning factors convert this estimate into resource requirements. Obstacle belt planning factors are--
- 1,064 AT mines per 1 kilometer minefield.
- 18 blade hours per day.
- 12 man hour workday; 20 percent added for travel.
- Platoon and blade teams are the basic planning units. ACEs, dozers, CEVs, and bucket loaders are blade (+/-) equivalents.
Multiply the AA width by the appropriate factor to determine the total length of the required linear obstacle.
Since a disruption belt requires three obstacles cutting each high-speed route, estimating the required effort consists of counting the number of high-speed routes passing through the belt. The effort required for turning, fixing, or blocking belts is calculated based on the width required by threat formations.
A fixing belt requires the threat force using the AA to respond to obstacles twice. The planning factor is to use the width of the maneuver space of the avenue. Obstacle size planning factors are--
- Disrupt-three point obstacles within 2 kilometers on each high-speed route or 0.5 x width of avenue.
- Fix-1.0 x width of avenue.
- Turn-1.2 x width of avenue.
- Block-2.4 x width of avenue.
NOTE: If time and resources permit, improvement of an obstacle belt requires about 50 percent additional effort.
The defensive air defense planning considerations are described below.
Command and control. In defensive operations, air defense assets are positioned to achieve both mass and gun missile mix. Normally, the priority of protection will begin with the C2 facilities. That is because these are generally fixed sites with high electronic signatures, which makes them susceptible to identification and targeting by threat aircraft. Therefore, the brigade air defense representative will examine the air AAs toward the C2 facilities and position both guns and missiles in a manner that disallows the that aircraft to reach the target.
Logistical elements. The BSA, MSRs, and UMCPs are fixed facilities and are easily identifiable from the air. Although passive air defense measures will help prevent detection, threat air attack is a certainty. As a result, route and point security missions require air defense units to locate along the MSR and in positions to protect fixed locations. The air defense assets will be placed in an area defense mode with the thickest part of the defense around these positions.
Fixed firepower. Because of the proximity of BPs and strongpoints to the threat, ADA assets guarding them are exposed to increased threat fire. ADA assets that protect combat forces, therefore, must be placed under armor, which is the placement of the ADA gunner in any armored vehicle. The air defense responsibility may also be the greatest, since ADA units on the FEBA will be called on to engage threat aircraft providing CAS to the aggressors and threat aircraft attempting to penetrate our defenses en route to a deep target.
Reserve forces. The brigade reserve is a stationary hidden force; it is especially vulnerable once discovered. As a moving force, it is readily observable from the air. The brigade commander will want to safeguard his reserve, and the location of the reserve, as it is a high priority of the commander. Air defense assets must be positioned to protect the force whether it is stationary or moving.
Choke points and bridges along MSRs. CSS assets must be able to move to the combat units. If the threat is able to disrupt this support, it will affect the defense. The destruction of key bridges or closing of choke points will interrupt the CSS flow. As a result, the protection of these positions is essential to the supportability of the operation. Air defense assets must be located where they can protect these vital locations from air interdiction.
Combat Service Support
The S4 and the FSB commander must understand the brigade commander's tactical intent so that service support priorities can be established and logistical operations planned to ensure the supportability of the operation. Real estate management of the BSA and plans to conduct operations against Levels I and II rear area threat must be incorporated into the plan. The following considerations and operational techniques improve the CSS provided to a defending unit:
- Limited amounts of ATP-stocked ammunition (25 percent of basic load) are pre-positioned in the MBA on centrally located positions.
- Push-packages of certain critical items (ammunition, POL, selected repair parts, barrier materials, medical supplies, and NBC supplies) are dispatched from rear areas (division support areas to brigade support areas to unit trains) on a scheduled basis so that interruptions in communications do not disrupt the flow of supplies.
- Resupply during periods of limited visibility reduces chances of threat interference. Resupply vehicles infiltrate forward to reduce chances of detection.
- CSS units are echeloned in depth throughout the defensive area. When a forward CSS unit is required to displace to the rear, another unit picks up the workload until the displacing unit is again operational.
- Maintenance contact teams are employed and dispatched as far forward as possible to cut down on the requirement to evacuate equipment. The thrust of the maintenance effort is to fix as far forward as possible.
- Different types of maintenance contact teams (vehicle, armament, missile) are consolidated to use the available vehicles.
Command and control
After completing the estimate of the situation, the brigade commander announces his decision and concept of the operation to key members of the staff. The concept is in enough detail for his staff to understand how he intends to conduct the battle. Staff preparation of plans and orders is based on the commander's concept. Subordinates are given maximum possible time to prepare since the effectiveness of the defense depends on time-consuming tasks, such as reconnaissance, fire planning, preparation of positions, installation of obstacles, positioning of supplies, and improvement of routes. WOs and subsequent oral instructions are used to get the word out. Commanders do not wait for the complete plan to begin preparations.
The brigade commander prepares by war-gaming his plan with the S2 to ensure sure he has identified the probable courses of action open to the threat. The commander must identify the impending threat action and respond before it transpires. The commander will check that each of the NAIs/TAIs/DPs are covered. The commander will also check his time-distance analysis as it relates to the decision support template to ensure that his reserves will respond when and where they are needed.
The object of a successful defense is to know what the threat will do before it does it. The maneuver commanders will explain who is observing the NAIs/TAIs/DPs; who they will call upon sighting the threat; and the specific EEI for which they should be looking. The commander will decide the course of action appropriate for the situation. The maneuver commanders must demonstrate their flexibility in adapting to a rapidly changing situation.
The commander will rehearse the synchronization of his combat multipliers with the maneuver. While each asset will be addressed separately in subsequent paragraphs, the intent of the brigade commander should be to practice the controlling of these assets as a single activity. During this rehearsal, conflicts about terrain, air space, control, and execution may arise among organizations. To avoid confusion on the battlefield, the commander must settle the conflicts between his subordinate elements.
There are two levels of rehearsals that occur with FS. First, the FS plan must be checked to ensure it is completely integrated with the maneuver plan. Second, the artillery practices the FS plan to ensure it comprehends the plan and can use the primary and alternate communication nets, alternative attack systems used for specified targets, and observer/weapon system positions. The rehearsal should improve the responsiveness of the fires and the overall synchronization of the brigade battle.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
During the rehearsal, the brigade commander checks the completion times of the obstacle belts. If there is a reserve target that requires execution, he ensures sure the responsible party understands the conditions for execution. He verifies the positioning of the maneuver forces adequately covers the obstacle by direct fire or they are observable and covered by indirect fire. The obstacle plan must be completely integrated with the FS plan. An obstacle belt quality control must be established to ensure adjacent obstacle belts compliment each other and the scheme of maneuver.
The air defense plan will be checked during the rehearsal to ensure that the positions of ADA assets do not interfere with other operations, and that they are along likely threat air AAs.
Combat Service Support
CSS rehearsal is integrated into the maneuver rehearsal to verify that routes for support do not cross or conflict with routes used by reserve forces or other maneuver elements. Prestocks of ammunition should be checked against the unit's ability to guard them. The commander should also check that alternate MSRs are adequate to accommodate contingency plans, and that changing MSRs can be accomplished effectively.
Command and Signal
The commander ensures that the obstacles, FS, direct fire, counterattack, and other combat multipliers at his disposal are completely integrated. The only effective technique is to have representatives of each of these elements simultaneously rehearse the plan. After issuing the order and receiving backbriefs from each of the leaders, the commander verifies his plan can be executed with minimal guidance.
As the threat force begins its attack, it maneuvers through either NAI 1 or NAI 2. If the threat attacks through NAI 1, the commander observes DP 1 to determine the actual direction of attack. If the threat attacks through NAI 2 (DP 2), the threat will arrive at TAI 1 in 17 minutes. The commander decides whether or not to engage the threat; if so, he synchronizes fires at TAI 1 to land 17 minutes after the threat crosses NAI 2. The same procedure would follow for NAI 1, except that once the threat reaches DP 1, the commander will know whether to engage in TAI 1 or TAI 2.
Following the threat engagement in TAI 1, the threat is observed moving through NAI 3 (DP 3). The commander must decide whether to commit the reserve to counterattack. This decision is based on the size of force at NAI 3. If the threat force is small, the reserve is not required. If the force is large, a counterattack may be necessary. Remember, it takes 10 minutes for the counterattack force to arrive in position and 13 minutes for the threat to travel from NAI 3 to TAI 4. The commander must decide in 3 minutes or the synchronization of the counterattack with the direct and indirect fire of the engagement area is lost. The same is true for NAI 4 and TAI 4. In this case, the reserve occupies a blocking position to prevent further threat penetration.
The S2 will constantly update the situation template, and if appropriate, the decision support template. Synchronization of the defense is the proper integration of the decision support template with the maneuver plan (see Figure 4-22).
NOTE: Although NAIs are not doctrinally placed on the decision support template, they are usually combined with TAIs and DPs on a task force and brigade decision support template. This maintains simplicity and avoids congestion with multiple overlays. Refer to FM 34-130 for doctrinal application of NAIs, TAIs, and DPs.
Brigades adjust their broad initial plans based on information from the covering force battle and from stay-behind patrols. The actual span for conducting the defense can extend from a series of local actions to a massive counterattack, depending on the capabilities of the brigade and the factors of METT-T. This may be accomplished through an economy-of-force mission tied directly to restrictive terrain, as well as a completely involved major defensive battle. A significant obstacle in the MBA, such as a river, favors a terrain-oriented defense planned to destroy threat forces caught astride or against the obstacle. Reserves are used to destroy threat forces that have crossed the obstacle. Speed of the counterattack is essential to destroy isolated forces before they can be reinforced. A defense may also be structured around static, mutually supporting positions deployed in depth throughout the MBA. Its effectiveness may be enhanced by holding out a large mobile reserve and committing fewer elements to the initial MBA defense. The primary function of committed elements in this defense is to slow the attack. Mobile units then strike exposed threat forces and engage those that have penetrated from static positions.
Regardless of the concept, the brigade defends against the threat with strong combined arms task forces and battalions. Figure 4-23 illustrates the execution of a brigade defensive plan.
Sample execution of a brigade defensive plan. As the threat advances through NAIs 1 and 2, the stay-behind patrols report the movement. The brigade reserve target (bridge) is executed to slow the threat and piecemeal his entrance into TAI 1. The brigade commander will engage the threat with indirect fires, and if possible, BAI on the second echelon which should be traveling in column.
As the threat enters the TAI 1 area, company-size elements fire, augmented with indirect fires, to force the threat away from high ground and onto the main AA. The threat arriving at the obstacle is the event initiator for the direct tires of TFs 2-11 and 2-15, as well as a point for indirect-fire synchronization. This breaks the formation and provides flank shots. This should be the first major EA, as the two task forces orient their fires on the obstacle and the two forward companies fire in depth taking advantage of threat congestion. Knowing the time-distance factor from NAI 2 to TAI 1 enables the commander to have the artillery land at the same time the threat strikes the obstacle.
The fixing obstacle is the DP for the execution of the counterattack. It takes the threat a little longer to reach the blocking obstacle than for the reserve to reach the counterattack-by-fire position. The decision to commit the reserve is based on threat success. Again, the commander knows how long it takes the threat to travel from DP 3 to TAI 3, and he synchronizes his indirect fires and other combat multipliers accordingly. The objective is to strike simultaneously as the threat is massed at TAI 3 and just encountering the blocking obstacle; this should hit the threat at his moment of indecision. Meanwhile, forward elements will continue to take advantage of the threat's congestion and possible fragmentation at the formation-fixing obstacle.
Actions in the TF 2-10 sector are accomplished in the same manner, but at the task force level. Brigade headquarters monitors the battle in the 2-10 sector to ensure it has the support needed to defeat the threat.
The reserve must be able to execute three plans:
- Plan 1. Remain in position and defeat the threat as it attempts to breach the blocking obstacle.
- Plan 2. Move along Axis Blue to BP 28 and destroy the threat as it tries to penetrate the TF 2-10 sector.
- Plan 3. Move along his Red to BP 54 to counterattack by fire the threat massed in EA Zulu.
The brigade commander must know how much time the reserve needs to execute each mission. It is integrated with direct-and indirect-fire plans, as well as other available brigade combat multipliers.
Time-distance analysis along the threat AA figured against the time of flight determines when indirect fires are initiated. Figure 4-24 illustrates fires engage the threat in TAI 1, then channel it away from high ground toward the fixing obstacle. Fires strengthen the effect of obstacles and augment direct fires on the massed threat behind the obstacle. FPFs protect the forward companies from being overrun by the threat. Targets of opportunity occur, and TIRs or other navigational aids are plotted by the artillery to assist expediency.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The execution of the barrier plan in this example addresses each type of obstacle belt discussed in this chapter--
- Disruption-bridge (# 1005).
- Fixing-belt (# 1023).
- Turning-belt (# 1027).
- Blocking-belt (# 1046, #1029, #1048).
In Figure 4-25, the bridge is a brigade reserve target. The brigade commander wanted to ensure covering force elements had a route for the rearward passage of lines. The brigade plan necessitated keeping the bridge intact until the covering force cleared. The actual responsibility for the destruction would fall to a task force element.
The execution of the disruption target slowed the threat force as they conducted a hasty water crossing. As the threat massed on the north side, they were engaged by indirect fire and possible CAS or army aviation. A fixing obstacle that allowed portions of the force to continue unemployed while stopping other columns caused confusion. The C2 of the lead battalion was cut lengthwise, thus loosing mass and piecemealing into the next EA. The threat is prevented from moving east by a turning belt. This forces the threat from the high ground, back into the EA, while exposing their flanks. As the threat fights through the EA attempting to avoid prepared defensive positions, they are stopped by a blocking obstacle. This tack of movement, combined with the increased flank fire of the counterattack, completes the destruction of the threat.
The air defense plan, like all CS plans, must be completely integrated into the brigade defense. During the conduct of the defense, the air defense early warning net will forewarn the brigade of impending air attack. ADA assets will aggressively engage threat aircraft before they have the ability to discharge ordnance. The ADA assets must be prepared to engage helicopters in support of the threat ground maneuver.
Combat Service Support
The CSS plan will be executed as planned, where ammunition is pushed forward to the battalions in contact. Evacuation of wounded and destroyed equipment will be a priority, therefore, movement along the MSR must remain unimpeded. The brigade clearing station will be positioned as close as possible to the FEBA, but outside of the expected artillery range and where civilian facilities may be used to advantage. Routes close to the LD/LC must be carefully selected to avoid observation from threat-held terrain.
Command and Control
The brigade commander will control the battle from a vantage point that allows him to observe the action. He must take care that he does not interfere with the operations of the battalion in whose area he may be. It will be his responsibility to direct the combat multipliers so that the brigade defense achieves the synchronous effect sought in defensive operations. Most important, it will be his assessment of the situation and decision that will determine the employment of the brigade reserve. This is probably one of the most crucial aspects of the defense. If the reserve is committed late, the main defensive positions may be lost; if it is committed too early, surprise is lost, which allows the threat to respond to the maneuver. However, if the reserve executes accurately and effectively, the damage to the threat will be devastating. The brigade commander must direct all the combat forces at his disposal in one unified operation. He must listen to the needs of his subordinate commanders and demand assistance from higher headquarters when needed, but throughout the operation he must keep everyone informed. His decisions must be anticipatory and his orders terse. Above all, the brigade commander must aggressively seize the initiative from the threat, dispatching him with ruthless precision.
How the Threat Attacks
A regiment attacking in the first echelon of a division normally will have the mission to penetrate, destroy, or neutralize forward strongpoints of defending enemy battalions, to continue the attack to an enemy battalion rear area, and to be prepared to continue the attack into enemy brigade and division rear areas (see Figure 4-26).
The actual zone of attack can extend born 3 to 8 kilometers, although the typical attack frontage for a regiment is 4 to 5 kilometers. The distance between echelons may extend from 5 to 15 kilometers, depending on the situation.
A regimental attack from the march will generally follow the sequence discussed below:
- First, artillery and air will prepare the defender's position from the initiation of the attack until the arrival of the assault forces at their respective objectives. The duration of the preparation could extend to 50 minutes.
- Second, the forward movement of the regiment from its position in the AA will be simultaneous with the preparation of the enemy positions. This will disguise the movement from the observation and hearing of the defender, and will mask the point of attack or main effort.
- Third, the regiment will break into battalion columns 8 to 12 kilometers from the enemy defensive positions, company columns 4 to 6 kilometers, platoon columns 1 to 4 kilometers; and battle formation 300 to 1,000 meters.
Conduct of the Motorized Rifle Regiment Attack
The following scenario traces the actions of an MRR from the issuance of the OPORD to the final assault (see Figure 4-27).
Issuance of the Regimental Commander's Order
At 1000 hours, 17 August, the regimental commander issues his order while located in the field AA. Friendly elements (fifteenth MRR) have halted the enemy advance, and up to a mechanized infantry battalion is defending in the sector assigned to the first MRR. The first MRR is to move from its AA, which is about 30 kilometers from the LC, and attack from the march with two reinforced battalions in first echelon. The tentative H-Hour is 0400 hours, 18 August. The third MRB is in second echelon.
First echelon battalion commanders plot their work maps.
First MRR battalion commander determines--
- Initial rate of advance of approximately 1.5 kilometers per hour (battalion immediate objective to be seized by H +1).
- Tentative combat formation with two companies in first echelon, based on attack frontages of approximately 1.5 kilometers.
Preparation of the commander's work map, evaluation of the situation, and the decision are emphasized. These serve as a foundation for all subsequent coordination, such as FS and second-echelon commitment (see Figure 4-28). Time is the overriding consideration in planning.
NOTE: Symbol depicts enemy (US) defensive position.
Reconnaissance and Development of the Target List
At 1230 hours, 17 August, the regimental commander and subordinates assemble in the vicinity of the FEBA to perform the commander's reconnaissance. The information from this reconnaissance will be supplemented by an artillery reconnaissance and target data from units in contact and higher headquarters. The regimental artillery officer develops a map plot of enemy targets and a target list. (Only data for the first MRB's sector to a depth of 3 kilometers is shown.)
The Soviet-style armies believe that reconnaissance is a key factor in refining the preliminary decision, developing the fire plan to include AT suppression, and breaching the enemy defenses. Reconnaissance is complicated by the fact that enemy targets displace and new ones appear. The development of the FS plan is made more difficult (see Figure 4-29).
Development of the Artillery Fire Plan
The commander determines that the attack is preceded by an artillery preparation consisting of three strikes commencing at H-40. The first artillery battalion supports the first MRB making the attack. The concept for this DS artillery battalion is as follows
- A preparation with three fire assaults of 13, 10, and 12 minutes respectively followed by an 8-minute strike, which overlaps H-Hour.
- Three successive fire concentrations (PSO) on Lines WOLF, RAT, AND TIGER. These lines equate to strongpoints in the defense and are on-call supporting fires.
- Concentrated fire on call against active targets in depth.
- Barrage fire on call against enemy counterattacks.
Based on an ammunition allocation of 1.9 units of fire for the first day, with 1.1 units for the preparation, the artillery commander will develop the fire plan (unit of fire = 80 rounds/weapon). Location and time of supporting fires are planned. The timing of the preparation must coincide with the development. The planning must accommodate newly detected/displaced targets or targets that have survived the preparation (see Figure 4-30).
Suppression of Antitank Weapons
Reconnaissance elements have identified enemy-emplaced ATGMs, and have dug in tanks within and between platoon slrongpoints. The regimental commander ordered that one tank platoon and one ATGM platoon be employed in a direct-fire role in the sector of the first MRB. An artillery battery has also been allocated for direct-fire support.
The regimental chief of artillery develops the direct-fire plan, to include the table of distribution for the missions (see Figure 4-31). The Soviet-style armies strive to locate 60 to 70 percent of the enemy AT systems, and to destroy 50 to 60 percent. AT suppression must be closely coordinated with the preparation and the assault force deployment.
Deployment of First-Echelon Battalions for the Assault
The first MRB (the main effort) attacks from line of march at 0400 hours, 18 August. The battalion crosses the assault line at H-7 minutes. The first MRB commander determines the location of deployment lines and the time. Deployment of the regiment into columns at lower levels is calculated and closely related to the terrain, route passability, timing of the preparation, and the nature of enemy defenses. Any deviation in deployment can impact adversely on the assault and related support (see Figures 4-32 and 4-33).
Coordination for the Assault
During the artillery prepartaion and the deployment of the first MRB for the assault, the first artillery battalion commander and first MRB commander are collocated at the COP.
- Preplanned artillery fires are conducted in accordance with signals contained in the fire plan.
- Direct-fire weapons and ATGMs destroy designated targets.
- A direct-fire tank platoon joins the first MRB deploying for the assault.
- The first echelon assaults on order.
- Engineers clear minefield during the last strike of the artillery preparation.
- Battalion second echelon committed and direct fire means are displaced on order.
- Air defense supports assault.
Timing of the preparation, direct fire, engineer obstacle clearance, and air defense support are coordinated with the deployment and assault of the maneuver elements. A major deviation in timing in any component impacts adversely on the success of the assault (see Figure 4-34).
The first artillery battalion's mission is to support the first MRB with continuous fire. Artillery displacements are based on an average rate of advance of 3 kilometers per hour during the first four hours. The first MRB commander directs the artillery to displace when the assault troops reach specified lines. The first artillery battalion also is tasked to support the commitment of the regimental second echelon.
The first artillery battalion displaces incrementally, that is, the battalion minus one battery followed by that battery. When the battalion is ready to fire in the new location, the balance of the battalion displaces. For example, when the immediate objective is seized at a depth of 20 kilometers, the artillery battalion minus one battery is ordered to displace. When the battalion minus is ready to fire in the new location, the remaining battery is ordered to fire.
Continuous FS is required particularly during critical periods, such as second-echelon commitment. Artillery displacement is determined based on anticipated rates of advance and norms for artillery operations. All aspects of artillery support probably are exercised except for handling ammunition in the quantities shown in the fire plan (see Figure 4-35).
Regimental Second-Echelon Commitment
By 0630 hours (H+2.5), the first MRB has broken through enemy defenses, but met increased resistance north of REDKIY Woods. Enemy forces are moving toward the area from GOLUMBOY Woods. The second-echelon battalion (third MRB), in column near SYCHEVO, received orders to be committed on the right flank of the first MRB with an H-Hour of 0700 hours (H+3).
The 3d MRB is committed from the march; it is supported by a 10-minute fire assault by the first artillery battalion on the strongpoint north of REDKIY Woods. The second-echelon commitment plan is refined and implemented on order. The second echelon is committed on a flank. The timing and the availability of FS are critical elements (see Figure 4-36).
Conduct of a Tank Regiment Attack
Once a gap has been created, tank regiments of tank divisions penetrate and exploit the penetration of the enemy's defense. Objectives are enemy reserves, nuclear weapons delivery systems, and C2 facilities. In an operation conducted by an MRD, doctrine requires that tank regiments be employed as complete regiments. MRRs have an organic tank battalion for support.
In setpiece assaults, the tank regiment receives from 25 to 40 minutes of supporting artillery fire. Priority targets are enemy artillery and AT systems. The goal is to suppress the enemy elements and create a gap through which the regiment can maneuver.
Once the regimental commander has completed his estimate of the situation and has made his reconnaissance, the following key decisions are given to the staff as the basis for further planning:
- Information on enemy strength and disposition, including obstacle zones and the approaches to the enemy position.
- The mission of the regiment.
- Axis for the attack and breakthrough sector.
- Tasks of supporting arms.
- Nuclear targets and the nuclear safety line.
- Location of artillery; coordination of fire plans.
- Coordination with adjacent units.
- Movement routes, control lines of deployment, and gaps through obstacles.
- Location of control points on the route forward.
The combat orders are then worked out in detail by the staff. Route reconnaissance is made by subordinate staff officers, and control points are coordinated on the ground. Whenever possible, the regimental commander issues his orders orally.
When issuing his orders to the battalion commanders, the regimental commander assigns immediate objectives for each battalion and gives directions for continuing the advance. In addition to assigning missions, the regimental commander specifies attachments and detachments. The regimental commander relates where and when battalions will deploy into company and platoon column and line. The regimental commander also gives details of the artillery fire plan, which usually will be a timed program. The final part of the order gives coordination details and includes control measures.
The commander and staff establish control measures to regulate the regiment's advance to contact. AAs are designated approximately 8 to 12 kilometers from the FEBA. The AA is a preparation and organization site located away from population centers. The regiment's movement from AAs through SPs and along march routes or axes of advance is monitored by staff officers and traffic regulators. The Soviet-style armies expect their advance elements to drive the enemy's reconnaissance screen, and thus allow the main body of the tank regiment to reach the line of deployment (about 4 to 6 kilometers from the enemy front line). They deploy into a companies-on-line (approach march) formation. The line of deployment is to be out of the range of enemy ATGMs, direct artillery, and tank fire. At about 1.5 to 4 kilometers from the enemy line, the tank battalions cross the line of attack, deploying into platoons on line (combat formation). Whenever possible, the line of attack is designated behind a terrain feature so the battalions are covered from enemy observation as they deploy. The Soviet-style armies consider the axis of main attack the most important control measure for the offensive. It designates their main efforts. The particular axis chosen depends on the mission, strength, and structure of the enemy defense; terrain conditions; and the disposition of friendly troops.
Frontage and Depth
In a movement to contact, the tank regiment is assigned a sector of responsibility up to 10 kilometers wide. When conducting actual offensive operations, however, the regiment may engage the enemy along an attack frontage as narrow as 2 to 4 kilometers, depending on prevailing conditions. The regiment's immediate objective is normally the enemy battalion strongpoints about 4 to 6 kilometers beyond the enemy FEBA; the depth of its subsequent objective is the immediate objective of the division (12 to 15 kilometers [see Figure 4-37]).
The concept of the breakthrough operation envisages the destruction of an enemy force in prepared positions in a small sector of the FEBA, and subsequent penetration and reduction of positions in depth. Breakthrough operations are conducted as a last resort by concentrations of maneuver elements and firepower at selected points. The Soviets-style armies seek to establish decisive superiority in the breakthrough sector while maintaining pressure all along the enemy's front. Tank regiments take part in breakthroughs as part of a divisional operation. Each regiment is normally organized into two echelons for the operation, and is reinforced with engineer and MR troops. Battalions may be organized in one or more sectors within their zones of responsibility; the attack is usually led by tanks. Frontages will depend on METT-T considerations.
Division artillery is augmented from army and front units for the breakthrough of a prepared defensive position. Soviet-style doctrine envisions 60 to 100 tubes per kilometers of front. Figure 4-38 includes all indirect-fire weapons and is probably applicable to the MRD. Against a weak defense, such a concentration may not be necessary. Neutralization fire may extend 1,000 to 1,500 meters on either side of each breakthrough sector. Under nuclear conditions, there would be greater dispersion with wider attack frontages. Artillery fire is routinely supplemented by air strikes against immediate objectives and on targets in rear areas. Fire planning is directed mainly against the same type targets as those sought by the MRR's artillery. The second attack echelon is further supported by artillery fire on targets located by the first attack echelon.
The tank regiment may conduct its breakthrough operation either from a position of direct contact with the enemy, or preferably, from the march. In the latter case, the regiment launches the operation from an AA at least 20 kilometers from the enemy FEBA. If possible, the regiment moves into this AA under cover of darkness or poor visibility. Reconnaissance and engineer penetration of the route is begun 2 or 3 hours before forward movement of the main body. Routes forward are masked by colored tags and traffic regulators manning control points. Light and radio discipline in the AA receive heavy emphasis in their doctrine.
There is no set pattern for reinforcement of the tank regiment in a breakthrough operation. The units involved depend on the type of division as well as the specific mission and the enemy and friendly situations. However, Soviet-style armies exercise activity shows that self-propelled and antiaircraft artillery frequently accompany attacking units. Also, the MRC may be attached to a tank battalion. Infantry attack on foot or mounted (depending on the situation), and follow the tanks as closely as possible. The infantry task is to destroy ATGMs and clear pockets of ground troops still effective after the artillery preparations. They may also be required to clear enemy mines and obstacles by hand, or the regiment may be augmented with combat engineers specifically for this task. When AT fire is effective, the infantry precede the tanks and attack dismounted.
Conduct of the Attack
After crossing the LD, normally the forward edge of the AA, the tank regiment moves through march, precombat, and combat formation, deploying along preplanned lines. The first-echelon tank units try to breach the enemy FEBA and fragment its defense so that he can be destroyed by the second echelon. Tanks open concentrated fire on any targets that have survived the artillery preparation. The tank regiment's second echelon passes through gaps between first-echelon positions to destroy enemy elements that have been isolated in the assault. If the first echelon meets heavy resistance, the second echelon may be required to help it complete its mission. Tactical reserves of reinforced platoon strength are usually created at battalion level.
The Soviets-style armies recognize that the advance of regimental elements may be uneven, so they place a high priority on securing to protect against possible enemy counterattacks. The regiment then moves against its subsequent objectives, which are artillery positions and reserves. The second echelon completes the destruction or capture of enemy forces, eliminating and consolidating the regiment's position. If the enemy begins to organize a withdrawal after a breakthrough, the regiment immediately begins pursuit operations.
A defensive sector is an area designated by boundaries which defines where a unit operates. Defense in sector is the most common defense mission for the task force.
In planning for the battalion defense in sector, the S2 conducts his IPB in the same manner as at the brigade level, but with a different focus.
Terrain analysis. The battalion S2 examines terrain and its capacity two levels down, for example platoon level. Key terrain and platoon mobility corridors are identified for the length of the battalion sector. The terrain analysis allows the commander to view the entire piece of terrain and determine its best use. If an engineer unit is attached to the task force, the engineer commander can provide valuable assistance to the S2 in the classification of terrain mobility. Once all the platoon-sized mobility corridors have been identified, they are combined into company AAs. The enemy regularly maneuvers using logging roads and trails, so even the most innocuous dirt trail may become a major AA.
Conversely, choke points and any natural obstacles that restrict maneuver should be identified. Included are--
- Mountain terrain.
- Slopes of over 60 percent.
- Escarpments (railroad tracks or highways on a steep fill over 1-1/2 meters high).
- Ravines, gullies, streams, or ditches over 5 meters wide.
- Swamps and marches over 1 meter deep.
- Forests or jungles with trees as small as 4 inches in diameter. Tree stumps 18 inches high from recently forested areas are also obstacles.
- Snow over 1 meter deep.
- Built-up areas.
Situation templating. The S2 examines how the threat will negotiate the terrain and where enemy regiments change formation. He must identify where the enemy is vulnerable. If the enemy is engaged while attempting to change formation, heavy damage is caused by confusion and fragmentation. These pieces of information assist the commander in the development for his defensive plan. The event matrix and the decision support template will be a refinement of this analysis.
Reconnaissance and surveillance plan. To confirm the situation and event templates, the S2 develops an R&S plan (see Figures 4-39 and 4-40). Reconnaissance elements will observe specific locations and areas. If GSR has been attached to the battalion, it will scan likely avenues of approach. GSR must have line of sight to detect activity. The areas assigned for monitoring are the NAI/TAI/DPs identified by the S2. Reconnaissance elements report any activity in these areas. Based on the observations from the R&S plan, the commander will have an accurate picture of enemy activity and will respond accordingly.
Example: R&S Plan Instructions
GSR-Establish positions 1 and 2 NLT 1800 hours. Establish positions 3 and 4 on order. Target: Enemy reconnaissance/MRB (BMP with T-62) moving south along AAs. Coordinate withdrawal routes with Tm C and scout platoon leader.
Scouts-Establish forward screen NLT 1600 hours. Target: Enemy dismounted reconnaissance units.
REMs-Establish 2 strings NLT 1800 hours. Target: dismounted reconnaissance and MRB troops infiltrating along forest trails. Coordinate passage with Tm B.
Patrols-Tm A patrol SP NLT 2100 hours. Coordinate Route LEE with scout platoon leader. Target: Locations of enemy reconnaissance/MRB platoon vicinity CP 3 and CP 4.
Tm B+patrol SP NLT 0100 hours. Coordinate Route GRANT with scout platoon leader. Target: Location of enemy reconnaissance/MRB platoons vicinity CP 8, 9, and 10.
TM C-patrol SP NLT 2200 hours. Coordinate Route SHERMAN with scout platoon leader. Target: Locaions of enemy reconnaissance platoons vicinity CP 14, CP 15, and CP 16.
TF-TM D (Reserve) attached to scouts NLT 1500 hours. Revert to task force reserve on order.
Distribution-Teams A, B, C, D, SCT, MRT, FSO, S3, GSR/REMs, Engr, Bde S2.
The maneuver plan is formulated from the BHL to the rear boundary of the sector. Once the S2 has identified the enemy AA, his capacity, and his likely vulnerability, the commander determines the number of weapon systems required to destroy the enemy and designates areas of vulnerability as EAs.
Direct fire. The commander plans for direct fire by looking two levels down (platoon). He will determine the number and type of weapon systems required to defeat the enemy based on the S2's depiction of the enemy's formations and areas of vulnerability. To defeat an enemy battalion, the commander must plan at least a company's worth of fires on the engagement, modified by METT-T.
Positioning. The commander now has determined the number of weapon systems required to destroy the enemy in each of his EAs. He determines the best position for his elements. The commander identifies platoon positions using the following criteria as a guide:
- Line of sight from their position to the EA.
- Fields of fire enable them to engage one or a few of the enemy targets at a time without being exposed to the entire enemy.
- They can obtain cover and concealment.
- They can achieve flank shots.
- They are dispersed laterally and in depth to minimize the enemy' s success in suppression.
- They have maneuver room to create alternate and supplementary positions.
- They can achieve mutual support.
- The effects of limited visibility will be minimized.
- They allow the weapon sytems the freedom to maneuver to other positions if necessary.
- They are not on obvious terrain, which would be the target of planned preparatory fires.
Space is allocated by grouping platoons into company positions, then issuing the terrain to the companies in the form of BPs or sectors. The type of weapon systems required in each area will drive the task organization. It is important to have interlocking fires and mutual support between company BPs. Sectors are usually given in restrictive terrain with no clear enemy avenue of approach.
Risk. All plans involve a certain amount of risk. It is up to the commander to decide where to take risks. For example, enemy AAs not covered by direct fire constitute a risk. OPs, remote sensors, trip wire detonated mines, and pyrotechnics along the uncovered AAs are examples of some security measures taken to reduce risk. Contingency plans are prepared in response to the threat. Supplementary positions and terrain reinforcement are options available.
Fire control. The commander positions platoons in locations where they will provide the most effective fires without adjusting their location. The construction of an effective EA is crucial to the success of the defense. The first task is to determine how best to engage the enemy. A technique favored 15 years ago was opening fire at the maximum range of each weapon system to allow the defender to wear down the enemy continuously and produce an increasingly dense wall of fire as the enemy nears the positions. However, this technique tips our hand to the enemy and allows him to maneuver away from the EA. The preferred technique is to draw the enemy into an EA and commence firing at one time. This achieves surprise and inflicts heavy losses on the enemy. The disadvantage is that if the enemy force is not slowed or destroyed, its remaining combat power may be sufficient to penetrate the sector. There are several direct-fire control measures that should be included in all EA plans.
Trigger lines. Trigger lines are selected along identifiable terrain that crosses the EA (see Figure 4-41). There may be one or more, depending on how the commander wants to engage the enemy. For example, when the enemy is engaged at maximum range, separate trigger lines may be established for each weapon system. Although at first this may seem confusing, remember that to the commander of the weapon systems there is only one trigger line.
NOTE: Figure 4-41 is not presented to endorse a linear army of platoons to achieve an increasing density of fire, but to highlight that in constructing an EA, individual trigger lines may have to be planned for specific weapon systems based on their positioning and range.
A single trigger line allows the enemy to be drawn into the EA and be hit simultaneously by all weapon systems (see Figure 4-42). The trigger line is positioned within range of the shortest range weapon system expected to engage the enemy (for example, Dragon, 1,000 meters), but not close enough that the enemy cannot be destroyed reaching the disengagement line. This requires positioning platoons in depth with respect to the EA, so the optimum range of the different weapon systems reaches the same point.
Sectors of fire. Sectors of fire are designated to allow interlocking fires in the EA. The more companies that contribute from different angles, the better the effect. The battalion designates a sector to each unit, delineating their orientations with TRPs (see Figure 4-43). It is not enough to place TRPs forward of the position as extensions of the left and right limits of the BP. The TRPs must allow for a concentration of fire where the enemy is expected to be most vulnerable, and they must be on identifiable terrain (if none is available, physically mark the position) (see Figure 4-44).
In addition to the primary orientations of the companies, the commander should designate on-order orientations and supplementary orientations (see Figures 4-45 and 4-46). On-order orientations are required if a company will withdraw from the battalion EA fight. The remaining companies will have to shift their fires to cover the same terrain effectively and assist the withdrawing company's movement. Supplemental orientations are designated to companies located on the battalion flank to cover an enemy flank avenue of approach.
Additional instruction. Engagement criteria, target criteria, target priority, and destruction criteria are additional instructions given to help use the weapon systems to the best advantage. The battalion commander designates a trigger line as part of the direct-fire plan, and he ensures that large elements are engaged first, rather than one or two vehicles. He then designates engagement criteria, for example, once 10 tanks cross Highway 161, engage. The commander ensures specific targets are serviced in a particular order; for example, C2 vehicles should be destroyed first. The battalion commander designates target priority: C2 vehicles, air defense, engineer equipment, tanks, and BMPs. Last, the commander ensures that each of these targets are engaged by an appropriate weapon system. The commander will designate destruction criteria: tanks will engage enemy tanks and engineer equipment, IFVs will engage C2 vehicles and BMPs, and ITVs will destroy BMPs. Gunners will know when to engage, where to fire, and what to shoot at, and they will know in what order. EXAMPLE: company will orient from TRP 001 to 040 and engage the enemy once a platoonsize element crosses the railroad tracks. Target priority is C2, tanks, and BMPs. Tanks will engage enemy tanks first.
Break lines. Break lines are designated by the commander to prevent decisive engagement. The commander tells the units the amount of destruction he wants inflicted in a given area. For example, "I want to destroy two MRBs in EA CHARLIE and one MRB in EA FOXTROT." The enemy may be strong enough to press the attack so break lines are established. It will be difficult for the commander to control the withdrawal of his force by the use of radio or pyrotechnic signals. Event-oriented criteria is used instead; for example, once three enemy vehicles breach the close-in obstacle belt, move to your secondary positions.
Counterattack planning. The battalion commander has essentially two types of counterattack options in the sector defense: counterattack by fire, and counterattack by fire and movement. The commander must decide how the terrain and enemy course of action lend themselves to counterattack. Often a battalion reserve may have contingency plans that encompass both types of counterattacks.
Counterattack by fire. This type of counterattack augments the existing fires of the battalion in the EA. The direct fires of the counterattack force must be integrated into the direct-fire plan. In fact the reserve must undergo the same planning and preparation. The difference between a counterattack and other offensive operations is that it is over friendly ground. If the counterattack is properly planned, the route from the reserve position to the fighting positions for the force will have been prepared. In Figure 4-47 the reserve is depicted conducting a counterattack to block and fire from the flank.
Counterattck by fire and movement to regain terrain. The counterattack force assaults to seize terrain that may be occupied by the enemy. Controlling this terrain allows the defender to augment fires of the task force BPs. or to fire on the flanks or rear of the enemy force. It is important that the counterattack axis be left obstacle free with enough space to let the force cross the LD in attack formation, establish an RFL to prevent fratricide, and a limit of advance to prevent the counterattack force from outrunning their support. Figure 4-48 depicts a counterattack by fire designed to regain terrain.
Counterattack by fire and movement to destroy an enemy force. The counterattack designed to destroy an enemy force is the most difficult to plan and execute due to the fluid nature of the defensive fight. The IPB will be extremely important in identifying where and how the enemy will attack. The counterattack plan must be very flexible so that from this one plan the counterattack force can actually respond to several enemy disposition options. The commander must plan to have reconnaissance forces positioned where he can observe the enemy in depth and pass information to the counterattack force as it begins its maneuver. A limit of advance and an RFL should be planned; however, their actual location may vary depending on the enemy. Battalion combat and CS units must be prepared to accept the new control measures. Even though this counterattack is oriented on the enemy, it is not a "draw sabers" charge, in which the attack formation disintegrates as forces become intermingled. Rather it is a controlled assault against a moving force in which the counterattack force maintains security and destroys the enemy through controlled direct fire.
The FS plan should be concurrently planned with the maneuver and obstacle plans (see Figures 4-49 and 4-50). The FS plan enables the reconnaissance forces to engage the enemy at maximum range to wear down and confuse the enemy. This may mean that artillery batteries and mortars will be positioned alongside combat elements. Following the initial engagement of the enemy, the artillery slows and canalizes the enemy into the AAs we want him to use, and wears him down.
Within the EA, fires should be planned to reinforce obstacles to provide better shots for direct-fire weapon systems and cover deadspace. Smoke screens assist in separating echelons, and they provide a white backdrop to the assaulting enemy. Weapons not equipped with thermal sites are unable to identify targets in or behind the smoke. ACAs and SEAD plans will be prepared in advance so that aviation assets will be able to augment the direct fires.
Fire planning must also support the counterattack plan. Fires must assist in the maneuver and/or occupation of terrain as well as the destruction of the enemy as requested by the counterattack force's FSO. Likewise, fires must assist in disengagement of forces from their positions, so as not to become decisively engaged; therefore, FPFs will be planned as required. Fires in support of repositioning and along flank AAs will be planned to assist the force in its battle in depth and to respond to surprise enemy actions.
Large sectors and extensive counterattack plans generate a large number of targets within the brigade zone. To break these targets into manageable portions, FSOs may divide target lists into separate plans, one plan for the defense and another plan for counterattack options. This allows the FDC to prioritize targets and munition types.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The task force commander prepares an obstacle plan based on the location and functions of the brigade-assigned obstacle belts. The task force commander designs obstacle groups to achieve the overall function desired by the brigade commander (such as turn, block, fix, and disrupt). Obstacles within the obstacle group may vary in individual function, but collectively must achieve the desired results. The task force commander also plans and prioritizes Class IV and V barrier material for allocation to the company teams as protective obstacles. The task force commander must also weigh the use of available bulldozers or M-9 ACEs for preparation of survivability positions or obstacle construction. Employment of these digging assets must be carefully planned and coordinated by the task force commander.
Turning obstacles. Turning obstacles are used in conjunction with a BP to deflect an threat formation. This can be a critical obstacle application to force the penetration to occur in a desired area. or to allow fires from a defensive position to engage vehicle flanks or rear (see Figures 4-51 and 4-52).
When designing a turning obstacle system, the most important considerations are its siting and orientation. The threat must not know that he is being manipulated in the desired direction. Turning obstacles divert the threat in small stages, and allow him to move in a direction close to the direction he desires.
Blocking obstacles. Blocking obstacles are similar to the traditional barrier obstacles. The intent is to make an extremely dense, deep obstacle system that is very expensive to penetrate. This type of obstacle is used to limit a penetration, to stall an attack (setting a counterattack), or to protect key terrain that must be retained (see Figure 4-53).
Blocking obstacles should be designed to defeat Soviet-style armies breaching techniques composed of a variety of obstacles in depth, well covered by fires. Minefield density should defeat repeated bull-through attempts. Key principles are depth, density, and counterbreach devices. Blocking obstacles must be carefully tied in with restrictive terrain.
Fixing obstacles. Fixing obstacles have been sited at the optimum weapon range from defending positions, so that vehicles are engaged while coping with the obstacle. This allows the threat to hit the obstacle with a small advanced force and maneuver with the main body. The optimum solution is to have the threat force deployed when it strikes the obstacle. To do this, the threat should be engaged by direct-fire weapons before striking the obstacle. If the obstacle system is sited so that a deployed force encounters it, vehicle attrition and C2 confusion will be maximized. The obstacle system should be sited at less than the optimum engagement range from the defensive position in a location not under long-range observation by the threat (see Figure 4-54).
An extensive obstacle system could have the wrong effect and divert the threat to where it is easier going. Fixing obstacles should be relatively thin and simply make the ground sticky. Closer-in obstacles may be a different type to contain the threat or limit his advance, but those supporting the primary EA should be thin. Fixing obstacles are oriented perpendicular to the threat route of advance, spaced and in depth, to cause him to execute repeated breaching operations or to have much lateral movement.
Disrupting obstacles. Obstacles do not always need to be in range of direct-fire weapons. The primary use is to delay the threat and disrupt his timetable, thus adding time depth to the battle, with a secondary mission to exhaust his breaching assets. Disrupting obstacles are used to frustrate and delay the threat so he will abandon routes. This is particularly important when sheltering compartments parallel to the threat direction of attack (see Figure 4-55).
Disruption obstacles must be in sufficient depth to cause the desired degree of frustration and delay. They also should be quick to install, as they are normally a secondary component of the defensive system. A good example of a set of disrupting obstacles would be a series of craters along a hard-surface road. Each would require improving the road later on to allow wheeled vehicle passage following the attacking force.
Commander's guidance. The task force commander should provide the following information to his engineer for obstacle planning:
- Locations of BPs.
- Locations and functions for obstacles within obstacle belts.
- Priority of obstacle emplacement.
- Priority of blade effort (obstacles versus survivability positions).
- Assistance in the transportation of barrier materials.
The engineers would provide the task force commander with the following when the obstacle plan is complete:
- Obstacle overlay.
- Obstacle list with grid coordinates, type of obstacles, and priority.
- Timetable for execution of obstacles/survivability plan showing emplacing unit, start time, and completion time.
- Defending and executing unit for all obstacles.
- Routes to be left open to support tactical and logistical requirements (see Figures 4-56 and 4-57).
Disrupting obstacle siting should be designed to attack only a part of his formation directly, to slow that part while the remainder continues to move at full speed. This not only can manipulate the formation by causing it to change direction (pivoting around the obstacle like a swinging gate), it directly disrupts his C2 (see Figures 4-58 and 4-59).
If the function of the obstacle is to disrupt or cause attrition, the same principle should be applied several times sequentially. An obstacle should slow part of the formation, and a later obstacle should slow the rest.
The threat is also manipulated when his direction of attack is changed against his will. This can be accomplished with turning obstacles that partially block his route and deflect him onto a new path (see Figure 4-60). These obstacles are designed to be difficult to breach, and are well supported by direct fires to make a continuation in the original direction very expensive and slow.
A turning obstacle may perform the same function with more subtlety (see Figure 4-61). This obstacle is much weaker and less defended, but it only deflects the threat. It works, not because it forces the threat, but because it leaves an open route that seems to meet his requirements.
A technique useful for turning obstacles, as well as for producing flank and rear targets, is the thickening oblique pattern (see Figure 4-62). This uses obstacle segments slanted in the direction the threat wishes to travel. The formation will glance off the obstacle. Thickening the base of the obstacle prevents a final attempt by the formation to resume its original direction by making breaching more difficult.
Employment tactics blend the terrain, the defensive plan, the desired obstacle function, and the threat response into a cohesive whole. Obstacle siting must be tailored to the terrain. The pattern is a simple linear obstacle perpendicular to the threat AA, extending across the entire avenue (see Figure 4-63). This obstacle has the advantage of ensuring threat interaction. It has the disadvantage that a single breaching effort allows passage. It provides minimum confusion to the threat as his entire formation is stopped by the obstacle, and it does not turn him to produce flank and rear targets.
The staggered perpendicular is a linear obstacle broken into several short segments (see Figure 4-64). The initial obstacle encounter will slow and deflect a part of the formation, while the remainder continues to travel unimpeded. This causes the formation to fragment. When the next obstacle segment is encountered, the results are the same. Instead of a simple straight-ahead breach, the threat commander is forced to make many decisions and communicate them to his vehicles in the middle of a zone of obstacles while under fire. This technique also forces much vehicle maneuver and exposes flanks to fire.
The Christmas-tree pattern can be used to split a formation by gently leading each side away from the other (see Figure 4-65). This is done by having the obstacle segments almost parallel the direction of attack at first. Successive segments slant farther and farther from the direction the threat wishes to travel. Continuing to travel straight into the Christmas tree is a very difficult breaching undertaking because of the overlapping obstacle depth. his pattern is useful if the terrain opens up into a wide bowl where overwatching BPs cannot range into the center. A Christmas-tree pattern can split a formation and force the two sides into EAs in front of the BPs.
The chevron pattern has an effect similar to the Christmas tree (see Figure 4-66). It is used to split a formation, but instead of leading and deceiving the threat, it forces the separation. The obstacles in depth in the center make the breaching effort difficult, and tend to force the attacker into easier going on the flanks. his pattern is used to force an attacker in a wide bowl into flank EAs.
The herringbone pattern consists of overlapping angled obstacles extending into an avenue of approach (see Figure 4-67). It causes vehicles to turn, exposing their flanks for better shots, and discourages direct attack of the BP. It lends itself to counterattack, since an attack into the threat rear is possible by passing between the obstacles.
It is important that some actual minefields be marked so that whenever the threat discovers a marked minefield, he considers it real. When a minefield is marked, the psychological effect will stop the threat from attacking and cause him to bypass or breach. With this in mind, placing a series of dummy minefields is both expedient and effective if done properly. Figure 4-68 illustrates the completed obstacle plan.
The battalion commander determines the priority of protection within the task force defend in sector mission. Each Vulcan carries a Stinger gunner, so there is a gun missile mix. The Stinger teams are used to protect units that are deployed over larger areas. The range of the Stinger will easily cover the disposition of a defending company team or logistical unit. The battalion field trains will be protected by the ADA assets guarding the BSA; however, some protection should be given to the combat trains and/or the UMCP. Maneuver units, and particularly the battalion reserve, should have priority so they can concentrate on the ground battle. They must be linked into the ADA warning net so as to execute SAFAD.
Combat Service Support
CSS elements must be positioned away from obvious locations, such as road intersections and known maintenance facilities, as they are targets for artillery. The CSS assets should be out of threat artillery range if possible, but close enough to support the battalion's defense. The battalion combat trains seek a reverse slope position with good cover and concealment. UMCPs should follow the same guidance even more carefully because of their necessary proximity to the MSR or other road networks. Pre-stocks of ammunition should be planned for BPs deemed essential. The support platoon must conduct emergency resupply near the BPs.
Command and Control
The commander must ensure that each of the company teams are tied into their flanks. This includes the flanks of company teams in adjacent sectors. If the terrain dictates defending in parallel company sectors, the battalion commander must have adequate graphic control measures and know the location of each unit BP in sector. The most dangerous situation is the development of a gap or exposed flank.
The commander must ensure that his direct-fire plan is synchronized with the other combat multipliers. The commander must think through contingency planning. The conditions under which the reserve is committed must be understood. In planning for the signal to execute the counterattack, redundancy must be included. Radio, wire, visual signals, and runners all must be part of the plan so that precious time is not lost in execution as a result of threat interference.
The S2 executes the R&S plan. He ensures each element monitors its assigned area. If the R&S plan properly covers both the mounted and dismounted avenues of approach, it will strip away the reconnaissance. Where the threat is most likely to attack is based on the location of their probes. As threat reconnaissance elements are captured and/or destroyed, information from the reconnaissance elements is passed to the S2. Patrols are debriefed to develop a complete picture of the threat. All the information is collated and given to the commander and his staff in preparation for the defensive battle.
When the battalion rehearses the defensive battle, there are several aspects of the battalion defense that the commander will have to check. First, he ensures that each member of the battalion understands his role and the commander's intent. Next, he verifies his ability to control the operation. He must be able to track the location of each company team, the scout platoon, the mortar platoon, and any other asset under task force control. Each element reports its location to the headquarters each time it changes. The crossing and clearing of PLs also determines when units are free to fire.
Once the sequence of movement, execution of targets, routes to alternate positions and other physical tasks are understood, the commander checks his fires synchronization. The commander will check that each company team commander understands when to engage, what to engage, where to engage, and how to engage the threat. As elements displace to alternate and supplementary positions, the remaining commanders must know to shift their direct fires. As the threat attempts to move to dead space, the appropriate commander must know to adjust indirect fire. Disengagement criteria is checked for execution without instruction.
Vehicles will drive the threat avenues of approach. As units engage, they will report their activities to the commander. It is important that "threat" vehicles travel at the speed commensurate with doctrine or experience, so that gunners can get a feel for the target exposure time. If the commander is traveling with the "threat" vehicle, he should note any exposure of his forces to the threat or other weaknesses of which the threat may take advantage. Corrections will be made as soon as possible. The commander may find that it takes units longer to reposition than planned. This may require moving the break line farther from the defensive positions.
The FS plan is rehearsed with the maneuver plan. The commander ensures priority targets are fired and the FS plan is flexible enough to respond to a changing threat situation. Artillery targets should be registered so that everyone will be confident in their accuracy and know precisely the time of flight. This is important in the synchronization of artillery with the direct-fire trigger line.
The mortar platoon must also rehearse repositioning as part of the maneuver plan. The mortars will initially be placed forward to support the scout platoon and protect other reconnaissance assets. Once the reconnaissance screen is in, the mortars must bound back to positions for the defensive battle to cover the width of the battalion sector. This means that the mortars will fire from split sections.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
Target turnover is an important aspect of the obstacle plan during rehearsals. The company team or element given responsibility for target turnover demonstrates the conditions for execution. With respect to rereserve targets, communications systems and signals must be redundant and understood by the individual given the mission to execute. It is important that the commander drives the route of the threat approach. Are the obstacles obvious? Can they be camouflaged? Do they accomplish their intended purpose? Are dead spaces mined? Are the obstacles covered by direct and indirect fire? These are but a sample of the questions the commander must ask himself as he evaluates the obstacle plan.
The air defense plan is checked to ensure that the ADA early warning net is interlined. Stinger teams must be under armor or dug in for survivability and positioned along the air AAs. They should also have a prestock of missiles.
Combat Service Support
The MSRs are compared to the maneuver plan to check that the forces will not restrict each other's movement. The CSS plan is rehearsed concurrently with the maneuver plan. Ambulances are moved to the exchange point, verifying the evacuation route. Recovery vehicles should do likewise with the UMCP. Alternate locations for the combat trains are reconnoitered and the route checked. Local security for all CSS elements is checked against possible Level 1 or 2 threat. Rehearsals are conducted to take up immediate all-around defense on order.
Command and Control
The commander is both the driving force behind the rehearsal and the standard to be exacted from his unit during the rehearsal. During the rehearsal he must demand that everyone execute exactly as he would in combat. Likewise he must not allow mistakes to go uncorrected. The commander who cares the most about his soldiers is the one who forces them to prepare. If the commander is made aware of a weakness in the plan or in one of his elements and there is no time to make a legitimate correction, he notes the weakness. He will spot-check that weakness to ensure it has not been discovered. He develops contingency plans should a problem arise. It is important that the commander understand his vulnerabilities as well as his weaknesses and his strengths.
The defense in sector battle begins with the withdrawal of the covering force or forward positioned elements (see Figure 4-69). The battalion's reconnaissance assets remain forward to execute the battalion R&S plan. As threat reconnaissance elements are identified and destroyed by the task force, the information concerning their position, composition, and other attributes are forwarded. The S2 should begin piecing together the threat's attack plan. Reconnaissance units direct artillery as planned, and execute targets to slow the advance of the threat. As the threat presses the attack, the reconnaissance screen will have to be withdrawn. The S2 will relay information to the commander as part of the decision support template execution. These reports will confirm or deny a particular threat course of action, and allow the commander to make the appropriate decision in a timely manner. The S2 will monitor the spot reports of the maneuver units as well as calls for fire on the artillery net. This should give the S2 a relatively clear picture of the threat situation. One note of caution: in the heat of battle, the defender will often fire first and report later. As a result, it is best if those C2 elements attempt to retain some distance from the immediate fight to assess the situation, issue clear orders, and report accurately and in a timely manner. The S2 may also want to monitor the task force command net to obtain information. Although the S2 will not get exact information, he will nevertheless be able to get an overall "feel" for the battlefield.
After the scout platoon passes to the rear, it can be given a flank security or rear area security mission. In this case, its position and responsibilities would be included in the battalion security plan. If the battalion is locked in with its flank units and not as concerned about a rear area threat, then the scout platoon could join the reserve and assist in the execution of the battalion counterattack plan.
When the engagement criteria has been met and the units commence firing, few changes can be given to the maneuver units or confusion may ensue. As the threat strike the obstacles, the destruction of engineer equipment becomes paramount. Artillery should be adjusted to reinforce the effect of the obstacle. As the threat presses the attack meeting the break criteria, companies defending in sector request to move to secondary positions. The commander must weigh the need to pull back the units against the need to maintain fires on the EA. When ordered to move, forward units report their movement to the main CP and execute the appropriate obstacle or indirect-fire target. Mortars assist by firing smoke to obscure the withdrawal.
Aware of the threat's attrition and rate of advance, the commander wilt determine whether or not to commit the reserve, and in which specific manner. In this example, the reserve will counterattack by fire and movement from a flank/depth position that affords rear and flank shots against the threat and allows the companies defending in sector to reestablish their initial positions following the complete destruction of the threat. Once the threat reaches the appropriate DP, the commander will give the command to counterattack. The scout platoon will lead the reserve as it moves along the designated route. On their arrival at the assault position, the scouts clear the area. The scouts will guide the counterattack force to the objective, providing immediate information concerning the threat's disposition. Once on the objective, the scouts can reestablish the battalion's forward screen to provide early warning of the arrival of the threat's next echelon.
Fires will initially be targeted against reconnaissance vehicles. Remember that using artillery to destroy moving point targets is extremely difficult. To assist in effectiveness, COLT can paint the targets for engagement with Copperhead. Once the screen is brought in, the mortars and artillery reposition for the main defensive battle. Fires will be adjusted in support of the obstacle plan. Units required to reposition may request FPF against a close threat or have a smoke mission shot to cover the move. If smoke is selected, remember that the weather conditions must be favorable and that it will take time for the screen to develop. In the case of mortar smoke, advance preparation includes coordination for prestock of smoke ammunition.
Mobility, Contermobility, and Survivability
Once the obstacle plan is complete, the engineer elements continue to work in depth. Barrier materials, which are the responsibility of the S4, will continue to arrive to strengthen the sector in depth. The engineers should work continuously throughout the battle. The digging assets may be used to prepare fighting positions on secondary or terciary BPs. Engineer assets must follow the progress of the battle so they will not become exposed to the fight unless planned.
Certain engineer assets will be designated to close obstacle lanes. Lane closure may be controlled by the company team commander in whose area the obstacle is located. Other engineer assets may be task organized to the reserve to assist it in conducting its counterattack.
The air defense assets will provide early warning to the task force of any impending threat air attack. In particular, the commander will probably be most concerned about the helicopter threat. Generally, the fast movers will have difficulty pinpointing a specific dug-in target, especially one that is properly camouflaged. Helicopters, on the other hand, have more of an ability to seek out a target and fire from a stand-off position. The ADA commander is aware of all of this and will position his forces to react not only to the threat of fast movers but to helicopters as well. Keep in mind that, within about 3,000 meters, a tank's main gun sabot round will soundly defeat an threat helicopter hence, the need to be linked into the ADA warning net.
Combat Service Support
During the battle, CSS elements must be sensitive to the needs of those companies that are defending in sector, as they may require assistance in the evacuation of material and wounded. Given the depth of the sector and the amount of support assets attached, the S4 may want to place some battalion assets in a position to better assist these units. As for units fighting as part of a battalion EA, their expenditure of ammunition and potential losses will be higher. Push-packages of ammunition must move forward at a moment's notice, as should ambulance support. The objective of CSS support is to maintain the rate of fire and combat power needed to sustain the fight.
Command and Control
Throughout the operation, the commander will monitor the battle, ideally from a vantage point that allows him to visually assess the effectiveness of the plan. Certainly the commander will not be able to observe the entire battlefield; therefore, his S3 should be positioned to cover the other areas. The commander should be with the main effort and if appropriate, the S3 should be with the remaining forces.
Using the decision support template and his operational graphics, the commander tracks the progress of the battle, noting position changes, target turnover, and any other pertinent activity. Assuming all goes according to plan, the most important decision the commander will make will be the commitment of the reserve. At the appropriate DP, the commander will give the order to counterattack. Simultaneously, the no-fire artillery zone will be established, an RFL will go into effect, and temporary obstacles in the path of the counterattack route will be removed. Units in position will notify their elements of the impending arrival of the counterattack force so as to avoid fratricide. Usually the counterattack force becomes the main effort, causing CS to readjust accordingly. If the counterattack is to be successful, the battalion must throw its entire weight-behind it, to include the stationary defending units. The force must be protected so that they are able to defeat the threat from a position of relative safety.
A BP is a location and orientation of forces on the ground from which units defend. It is used when the brigade will control the maneuver of forces throughout the sector, or at some point within it.
The selection of a task force BP represents the culmination of the brigade's IPB/estimate process. The brigade S2 identifies a significant threat AA and the key terrain dominating that approach. At the task force level, the battalion S2 refines the brigade S2's IPB. The area of interest surrounding the BP is examined in terms of both mounted and dismounted AAs down to platoon level. This is a problem because a dismounted platoon can travel with a frontage of less than 1 meter.
The S2's concern is infiltration of reconnaissance elements into the battalion defensive position. The static nature of the battalion position makes it susceptible to targeting. Two intelligence operations take on even greater importance: the R&S plan and the deception plan. The R&S plan is conducted in the same manner as described in the defense in the sector section; however, them are some additional considerations:
- Any reconnaissance element positioned outside the BP must be coordinated with the brigade.
- Active intelligence-gathering systems, such as GSR, should be positioned away from the BP so that the threat will not be able to vector-in the location of the battalion.
The deception plan should include the construction of dummy positions within the battalion EA, the establishment of fake headquarters elements to reinforce the dummy positions with an electronic signature, dummy minefields covered by conspicuous maneuver elements, and poor sound and light discipline. The most important aspect of the deception plan, however, is to make it believable.
Concentrating fires. A BP is less restrictive than a strongpoint and requires less preparation. As a method of defense, a BP may be terrain-oriented or threat-oriented. Regardless of which, it is an excellent technique for concentrating fires and is most often used--
- To place fires as the threat approaches.
- To block threat AAs.
- To hold terrain determined to be critical by the brigade commander.
- Near terrain where multiple positions can concentrate fires on one AA.
- On clearly defined AAs.
- On routes into the defender's flanks.
- For positions near potential threat airborne/airmobile LZs.
- For reverse and counterslope defense.
The commander may maneuver his elements freely within the assigned BP. If he chooses to maneuver forces outside of the BP, he will have to notify the brigade commander and coordinate with adjacent units.
BPs are identified by a number. One technique is to assign numbers sequentially for ease of control. When company BPs are used in positioning units within a battalion BP, the battalion BP number is indicated first, followed by the company BP number. If platoon BPs are used, they are further designated alphabetically. When the company BP is referenced outside the battalion, its complete designation is used.
Levels of preparation. Because BPs are used to control maneuver, each company is usually assigned more than one BP to allow for greater maneuver. Each position is given a task or level of preparation that is related to the mission to be accomplished. The levels of preparation include--
- Occupy. This is complete preparation and occupation of the BP.
- Prepare. This is complete preparation of the position, with occupation by a small security force. The main force will occupy the position after departing from their initial position.
- Reconnaissance. The position is reconnoitered for occupation, with each element given a designated position and direct-fire instruction; however, the position is not physically prepared for occupation.
Tasks. To prepare a BP properly for defense, the following tasks should be accomplished:
- Post security (task force scouts or other elements).
- Plan fire control measures (sectors, TRP orientations, and EAs).
- Prepare alternate positions.
- Designate supplementary positions.
- Designate hide positions.
- Dig primary fighting positions for anticipated fighting condition (day, night, limited visibility).
- Achieve mutual support/concentration of fires.
- Emplace obstacles.
- Clear fields of fire.
- Establish coordination or contact points.
- Emplace wire for communications.
- Prestock and dig in ammunition.
- Prepare range sketches.
- Designate OPs and patrol routes.
- Mark and prepare routes.
- Rehearse movement back to and into the position.
- Develop/consolidate defensive sector sketches.
- Use backbriefs to ensure mission intent is understood.
- Emplace chemical agent alarms.
Considerations for deployment. The task force is not restricted to the boundary of the BP, but will coordinate with the brigade commander to place elements of the task force outside the position. Some considerations for deployment are--
- Security force and scouts to screen forward of the position.
- Scouts or infantry to occupy contact and/or coordination points forward of or between BPs.
- Combat trains.
- Task force mortars.
- Infantry patrol routes.
- Night and limited visibility fighting positions when required.
- Antiarmor ambushes.
- Maneuver to enhance combat power at a decisive point.
- Resupply routes.
The battalion task force controls the movement of companies between company BPs (see Figure 4-70). In selecting a BP for subordinate company teams, the task force commander considers the positional needs of the mechanized infantry, ITVs, and tanks. Sufficient space is provided in each BP to allow dispersed primary and alternate positions. Room for limited visibility, supplementary hide positions, and locations for combat trains must also be considered.
BPs must have fire control measures to define the areas the commander expects to have covered. When given on-order areas, company teams should place OPs to keep these areas under observation. This provides for decentralized repositioning with loss of communication. For TRP orientations, at least one company team must be able to concentrate its fires within 1,000 meters of the TRP. Because most threat battalions will attack along a 1 kilometer front, 1,000 meters is a rule used.
It is important that the threat does not discover the actual BP until the battalion engages the threat at the time and place it chooses. The FS plan must support the deception plan (see Figure 4-71). The mortar platoon will initially support the scouts in their forward screen. Once they withdraw, it is up to the artillery to keep the threat confused about the actual defensive positions. This is accomplished in several ways. The FS plan should reinforce any dummy positions established to trick the threat. Specifically, the best outcome would be for the threat to attack the dummy position, only to find himself drawn into the battalion EA. Indirect fires are planned to channel the threat toward the dummy position, fire FPFs to simulate the defending unit's call for fire then as the threat reaches the position, an artillery group and massed direct fires engage simultaneously.
Mortar priority targets should be established along the dismounted AAs. Actual FPFs must be planned for the key company team BPs to ensure their security. As with the defense in sector mission, artillery must be thoroughly integrated particularly with respect to obstacles.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The considerations for engineer support are similar to those considered in defend in sector mission previously discussed. Emphasis should be placed on emplacing disrupting obstacles in such a manner as to direct the enemy force into established EAs. Mobility along counterattack routes may need to be improved. Survivability positions for individual vehicles within the BPs must be prioritized. Supply caches must also be considered and prioritized along with fighting positions. The commander prioritizes the allocation of engineer assets based on the number and type of assets and time available.
The air defense plan will be oriented on the air AAs with the priority of protection to the BP. The survivability of the air defense assets will be of special importance. Expecting a severe threat artillery preparation and realizing that Stinger teams have a HMMWV, Stingers must be placed under armor or properly dug in. Prestocking missiles will be essential.
Combat Service Support
Prestocks of ammunition and other supplies must be incorporated into the plan and used before emergency resupply is conducted near the BP. Battalion combat trains must be positioned on a reverse slope and away from easily targeted locations if possible.
Command and Control
The commander must be prepared to follow the battle, keeping abreast of each of his elements. An execution matrix is an excellent way to control his forces.
The S2's preparation for the battle includes the execution of the battalion R&S plan. It is important that the deception plan be executed so the threat's reconnaissance is oriented toward the wrong terrain. If any threat elements are not striped away, the reports sent to their commander will be of the dummy positions rather than the actual ones.
The rehearsal for the battalion BP defense will be conducted from the point of threat identification through to final destruction. The task force elements will be in hide positions when the threat begins their movement along the AA. Engagement must be well defined, with multiple ways for the commander to signal the initiation of fires
Once the command is given, the forces will occupy their primary BPs. Once in position, the commander needs to verify the direct fire plan. As with the defense in sector, the best technique is to actually drive the threat AA toward the BP. As the commander and S2 reach the trigger lines for units or weapon systems, those commanders will radio their action. The commander will then look in the direction of that unit to see if it is observable to the threat. The commander will continue along the route replicating the proposed actions of the threat while the battalion continues its engagement.
The company teams must move to their alternate positions to continue their engagement of the threat. Again, he will be looking for exposed elements or anything else that gives away positions. As the threat draws near, the commander will check to ensure the units understand the disengagement criteria and move to their secondary BPs. In particular, he should check that the move is overwatched.
The commander checks the conditions for conducting counterattack. He will look to see that the force arrives at the right place and time with respect to the threat. If this does not occur as planned, the counterattack plan is modified. This is evaluated not only by examining the final position of the counterattack, but also by the route taken and the formation adopted by the force as it reaches the EA. If the reserve is exposed as it moves into position or arrives in an ineffective formation, the threat may be forewarned.
The FS plan is rehearsed simultaneously with the direct-fire plan. The reconnaissance elements will begin by calling for artillery and mortar fires against the threat's reconnaissance. As the screen is withdrawn, the mortars will displace to positions behind the primary BPs. The commander will continue to maneuver along the AA, triggering calls for fire from the appropriate units. He should check to ensure that those elements given a priority target understand when and under what conditions to call the target. Finally, he should check that FPFs are called as a unit under pressure displaces.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The commander should inspect the level of preparation of each of the BPs to ensure they meet his guidance; the commander should make the extra effort to ensure that his secondary BPs are prepared as directed. In the rehearsal, target turnover and placement are reviewed.
There are several concerns the battalion commander will have with respect to the positioning of Stinger teams. First, if the teams are separated from their vehicle, an alternate means of ADA early warning must be secured for the team, for example, wire to an armored vehicle that monitors the ADA early warning net. Second, if the team is dug in, how will they move to their secondary positions? Their HMMWV will not be available for transportation, and they will need room to carry their missiles. Third, is it possible to place the Stingers under armor, for example, with a three-man tank crew?
Combat Service Support
In the case of a BP defense, firepower is critical. Without adequate and properly placed prestocks, the force will not maintain its rate of fire. The commander must be prepared to modify aspects of his plan if a unit cannot reasonably sustain the fight from its assigned position. Above all, in preparing for the fight, the commander must know how long he can retain the position given the threat situation and the supplies on hand.
Command and Control
The battalion commander must tell his units when and where he plans to destroy the threat. If the company team and special platoon leaders understand, they will know what must be done. While conducting the rehearsal, the commander should stand where he plans to destroy the threat and ensure all weapon systems are on him. He must verify that his direct and indirect fires are synchronized. Finally, as the forces are in their final BPs, the commander must designate a line which the threat will not cross and where the threat's destruction is essential for victory. Given the intent and nature of BP defense, he must impress on his command that this is where they must make their stand.
The BP defense will begin with the reconnaissance screen reporting the advancement of threat reconnaissance elements. The scout platoon will use artillery to strip away the threat reconnaissance. Once the screen has been withdrawn, the threat will continue to press the attack toward the locations that were identified by earlier reconnaissance. In this case, if the deception plan was successful, the threat should be attracted to the dummy position. The decision support template becomes a critical asset as the commander follows the threat situation. He will especially watch the speed of the aggressor versus the stubbornness of the defender. Eventually, however, he will probably reach the point where he must commit the reserve. If the IPB and decision support template are accurate, the commander will be able to direct a timely and effective counterattack against an identifiable threat weakness.
The commander will begin the execution of the battalion BP defense by monitoring the conduct of the R&S plan. He must ensure that the scout platoon is able to report the location of threat reconnaissance assets effectively so that they may be stripped away by indirect fires. As the threat presses the attack, he must safeguard the withdrawal of the screen by overwatching the rearward passage of lines through the forward BPs. This includes the mortar platoon and other assets that were in support of the scouts, such as COLT, GSRs, and tank platoon. He must ensure the screen can withdraw out of contact. He must be prepared to issue FRAGOs that will allow the battalion to separate the scouts from the threat.
It is important that the commander receive timely information concerning threat disposition and possible intentions. This information will be applied to his decision support template, which will help him make effective decisions against the threat maneuver. Next, the threat will negotiate the first belt of obstacles. In this example, they are designed to break up the threat formation and mislead him into thinking the dummy position is the actual defensive position. COLT will target engineer equipment and C2 vehicles.
Fires engage the threat as it nears the dummy position, and if possible, direct-fire simulators may be used on the position itself to make the defense of the dummy position more realistic. The threat assault of the dummy position triggers massed direct fires of the company team BPs. Within the battalion BP, companies may have to adjust their positions to take advantage of exposed threat flanks. The second-echelon battalions will not be fooled by the dummy position and will attempt to continue the momentum, bypassing the destroyed lead battalion, driving deeper into the defensive area.
In this case, the commander decided to modify the threat's movement through the use of a thickening oblique pattern. This will turn the threat, exposing his flank, while slowing him as he reaches the multiple belts perpendicular to his direction of travel. The company teams will move from their primary BPs to their secondary BPs during the time gap. This will allow the defender to be in new positions, unknown to the threat, forcing him to repeat any combat reconnaissance.
As the threat confronts the obstacle belt, it will be turned until it reaches the point where it feels it is taken off course. At this point, the threat may attempt to breach. If the obstacle was properly installed, the attempt will be where the obstacle is thickest. If the threat's breach is unsuccessful, it will attempt to maneuver to bypass, since all its alternatives have been exhausted and its attrition is growing greater the longer it remains in the EA.
The commitment of the reserve to occupy a blocking position will bar the escape door for threat maneuver. It is important that the reserve remain in hide positions until the last moment. The threat must see its window of opportunity and maneuver to seize it. At that point, the reserve should arrive in position and contain the threat.
The FS plan will initially address the support of the reconnaissance screen. Once the screen is withdrawn, the FS plan will orient on the engagement of the lead threat battalions. The augmentation of the obstacle plan coupled with the mass target engagement within the EA are the first order of battle. If the threat is able to penetrate the defense and maneuver against a BP, FPF will be fired as the company team withdraws. To prevent threat observation, smoke missions may be fired to assist in the movement to subsequent positions.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The execution of the obstacle plan begins with the scout platoon executing target turnover and slowing the threat reconnaissance so that he may be engaged by direct and indirect fire. As the screen begins its movement to the rear, lanes in obstacle belts will be closed and reported to the battalion main CP.
As the threat begins his attack in the MBA, direct-fire assets must cover their respective obstacles by fire. If the situation permits, engineers may continue to improve positions in depth, particularly those that were initially identified as positions to reconnaissance.
Those Stinger teams dug in and away from a vehicle will receive early warning messages from a vehicle that is monitoring the ADA early warning net, and will engage from their position. If the unit is forced to move to subsequent positions, the Stinger teams will mount the vehicle that is linked into the early warning net.
Combat Service Support
CSS elements will support the force by having push-packages of ammunition and other quickly expendable supplies available on request. There must not be a break in the distribution of fire, both direct and indirect. Damaged vehicles need to be fixed as far forward as possible to reduce turnaround time. Similarly, ambulance exchange points need to be established so that the companies are never without medical support.
Command and Control
The proper selection of the TAC CP location for the operation is essential. The commander must be able to observe the action without drawing undue attention to himself, or he will surely be targeted. As he watches the battle unfold, he must be prepared to adjust his defensive plan accordingly. The shifting of forces to meet the threat from a position of advantage is essential. On-order orientations must have been rehearsed prior to execution for the battalion to maintain its needed flexibility.
Within the conduct of the BP defensive plan, the commander must guide the control and distribution of direct and indirect fires.
A battalion task force is given a strongpoint defense mission when terrain retention is required to stop or redirect enemy formations. Battalion strongpoints may be positioned adjacent to restrictive terrain or other defensive positions.
The strongpoint also represents the culmination of the brigade S2's IPB and the commander's estimate of the situation. Based on a METT-T analysis, the brigade commander determines that a piece of ground must be held. If the enemy were to seize the terrain, the battle may be lost.
The battalion S2's first task is to analyze the terrain in a detailed manner. Unlike other types of defense, the strongpoint must be defensible in 360 degrees. As a result, the terrain analysis (OCOKA) must be conducted with the understanding that enemy offensive operations, from an infiltration to a major attack, could appear from any direction.
Finally, the event template and the R&S plan are essential to the effectiveness of the strongpoint (see Figure 4-72). Some reconnaissance assets may be able to operate initially outside of the position to provide early warning; however, if the strongpoint becomes encircled, the unit must be able to anticipate the actions of the enemy and respond internally. LP/OPs positioned outside the position must be sustainable if the strongpoint becomes surrounded. There should also be a plan for bringing dismounted patrols or other reconnaissance assets into the position despite enemy presence. The reconnaissance plan must also ensure these routes change regularly so that no specific pattern develops. Electronic systems are particularly useful in collecting information and providing early warning. Because they are small, easily camouflaged and sustainable items such as REMS and, to a lesser extent, PEWS devices, are particularly useful. GSR will also assist in the identification of enemy movement; however, due to their active nature, they may be targeted by enemy EW collection assets. Because the strongpoint is a static defense, the S2 must use all available resources to safeguard its integrity. Similarly, the S2 must provide the commander with as much early warning as possible so that appropriate actions may take place within the strongpoint.
The strongpoint is the most labor-intensive operation a task force commander may execute. Despite the static nature of the strongpoint defense, the construction must allow for flexibility. The key to an effective and sustainable strongpoint defense is to have a solid direct-and indirect-fire plan coupled with properly constructed fortifications. The commander must take a personal interest in the interface between combat, CS, and CSS elements.
The selection of company, CS, and CSS positions is the first priority of the battalion commander. He must plan that his weapon systems are able to engage the threat effectively along the major expected threat AA. These positions will be the result of the S2's line-of-sight analysis coupled with the IPB and perhaps the brigade obstacle plan. The actual construction of the task force EA and the direct-fire control measures is identical to that discussed in earlier sections. There may a difference in the considerations for weapon systems employment, particularly with respect to the lack of depth in the strongpoint itself. In a strongpoint, it is much more difficult to achieve a depth of fires than in sector defensive operations.
Generally, dismounted elements will protect the outskirts of the perimeter along side or slightly to the left or right front of tanks. If tanks are to shoot directly over the dismounted infantry, fighting positions must have overhead cover and soldiers must wear hearing protection due to the blast, over pressure, and discarding sabot. There is less danger from the fires of the IFV; they are also less survivable. As a result, they are positioned to the rear of the tanks and infantry where they can achieve long TOW shots and augment tank fire with the chain gun. If ITVs are attached to the task force, they are best positioned where they can achieve standoff but not be detected by the threat. If properly emplaced, the only visible part of the ITV will be the hammerhead.
NOTE: This weapon emplacement is based on strongpoint space limitations.
Once the commander has determined which locations are suitable for each type of weapon system, he will select the company team BPs. There are several considerations that must be addressed before finalizing the BPs. First, how much firepower is needed to cover the threat AA? Second, how can BPs be selected so they may also be responsive to threat attacks from other directions? Third, what task organization is best suited to the terrain yet meets the security needs of the battalion?
The reserve. In a strongpoint defense, it is important to maintain a reserve that can react to threat activity against the position. The reserve may be mounted, dismounted, or both. The reserve needs to be located in proximity to the CP to provide close-in protection for the headquarters and to be quickly reached by the commander for commitment. The reserve may be given the following missions:
- Block a threat penetration of the perimeter.
- Reinforce a position or section of the defense.
- Counterattack to restore a portion of the strongpoint.
Concept of defense. The commander must be able to transition from the defensive plan where he is defending as part of the brigade defense, to a perimeter defense where he is isolated and must hold his position. Weapon systems will be oriented as they would be for any BP. The commander must be prepared to man the entire circumference of the position in anticipation of the threat assault. Remember, if the position is important enough to us that we would dedicate all the time, effort, and resources for its retention, it is probably just as important to the threat. In this regard, the threat artillery preparation will be tremendous, followed quickly by a massive assault.
The commander must ensure that in addition to the primary fighting positions he has established along the outskirts of the strongpoint, he must also have a series of alternate and supplementary positions within the strongpoint. The threat situation may be such that through a relentless attack they are able to penetrate the initial defensive positions at a point along the outer perimeter. The commander assessing the situation pulls the penetrated unit back to its secondary position and as the threat fills the trench line, pre-positioned, hidden AP mines are detonated the length of the trench line. The unit then retakes their initial BPs, forcing the threat to repeat its assault. This is the type of activity that must be planned in advance and, if possible, rehearsed to assure effectiveness.
When conditions permit, mobile assets may remain outside the perimeter to provide early warning and perhaps confuse or delay the threat. Once all the forces have been drawn into the strongpoint, the object of the operation is to hold it against the threat. Direct fires must be planned over the entire position. Even within the strongpoint itself there will be a piece of key terrain. Mutually supporting internal direct fires, counterattack by fire positions, as well as the usual external direct-fire control measures must all be planned to detail.
Figure 4-76 is an example of the type of direct-fire control measures required for the battalion strongpoint defense. Notice that they are actually a series of direct-fire plans superimposed on the strongpoint position. The outermost control measures are meant to take advantage of the brigade obstacle system. Should the threat press the attack and begin to encircle the strongpoint, the next series address the 360 degree defensive fires. Keep in mind that with proper reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, the commander may be able to weight his defense to meet the threat's main effort. Next, the internal direct-fire measures represent the secondary defensive positions required if the threat is successful in breaching the outer perimeter. Along with these control measures are found the counterattack plans that will allow the battalion to reoccupy its initial positions. In this diagram, there are locations within the strongpoint that the commander has chosen to fortify more heavily than others. They are, as it were, strongpoints within the strongpoint. These positions will give the position the strength in depth that it needs and also serve as a departure point for offensive operations within the strongpoint, such as a counterattack.
Last, and perhaps most important every member of the battalion task force must have a fighting position that supports the battalion commander's concept for the defense. Cooks, mechanics, and all other CS and CSS soldiers who are not directly involved in the fight must be prepared to fight as infantry, knowing their position in the line, weapon orientation, and combat mission.
The scout platoon. The scout platoon can initially be used to screen forward of the strongpoint. Members of the platoon may be assigned stay behind patrol tasks in support of the battalion R&S plan. The remainder of the platoon returns to the strongpoint. The scout platoon at this point in the operation may serve several functions the scouts could fight as infantry, the vehicles may be added to the defensive direct-fire plan, or the platoon could be saved for dismounted night patrolling. Remember, a scout platoon has a significant amount of firepower and are more experienced in reconnaissance operations. The commander must establish his priorities for their use early in the planning process.
If the threat is able to force the adjoining friendly forces from their positions, the FS plan must be oriented on those terrain features which may be occupied by threat forces. Dominating terrain features, mounted and dismounted AAs and likely threat AAs hidden from direct observation from the strongpoint should be targeted. In this way, the FS plan will assist in keeping the threat at a distance from the strongpoint. If the threat is able to reach the strongpoint in significant strength, the close-in FS plan is essential to the integrity and survivability of the position. Fires must be planned on obstacles close to the position, even if they are danger close. here may come a point in the battle where evacuation of the position is necessary; if fires are planned on the position, the threat can be destroyed and the positions reoccupied for continued defense. As a last resort, the defenders may also move to bunker positions and call artillery on themselves. This should only be considered if the fortifications are prepared to the appropriate level of protection.
The mortar platoon. The mortar tubes are best used dismounted from the vehicles. This is so they may easily respond to calls for fire in any direction. If the mortar tubes remain in the tracks, fires in any direction will be difficult to achieve without moving the vehicle or damaging the track if it remains stationary. The vehicles may remain in proximity to the tubes, dug in, and serve as an ammunition storage facility. Figures 4-73 through 4-76 illustrate mortar platoon positioning in the strongpoint as well as the overall battalion FS plan.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
A strongpoint should be far enough from the LC to allow development time and avoid detection. The engineer commander will accompany the maneuver commander on the reconnaissance of the strongpoint area, and will prepare the position in accordance to the following guidelines:
- Make the position physically impassible to tanks.
- Plan indirect fires and scatterable mines to slow, disrupt, and canalize the advancing threat.
- Enhance the killing power of AT weapons with obstacles.
The engineer commander determines the effort needed to prepare task force positions and obstacles. Based on the commander's guidance and priority, the engineer commander determines priority of emplacement for fighting positions and obstacles, and then allocates the assets needed to accomplish the mission. Strongpoints are constructed from the inside to the outside. Regardless of the configuration of the strongpoint, there are essential tasks. These tasks include--
- Prepare obstacles to prevent being overrun by tanks.
- Prepare hull-down positions for fighting vehicles.
- Emplace obstacles at optimum weapon range.
- Construct protected routes between positions.
- Plan and coordinate for scatterable mines.
Maneuver units can handle most individual and light crew-served weapons positions. Engineers concentrate on labor-intensive heavy construction. Blade time must be split between vehicle fighting position construction and countermobility operations. The sequence of effort is for the maneuver units (assisted by the engineers) to prepare fighting positions, shelters, and protective obstacles. Engineers help units build fortifications using demolitions. Dump trucks will stockpile earth for filling sandbags in each platoon location, and CEVs will prepare vehicle fighting positions.
Dummy trenches armed with booby traps should be clearly delineated, but not obvious to the threat. The engineers begin constructing the obstacle plan (see Figure 4-77). This will serve two functions. It ensures the obstacles are covered and the obstacle placement is appropriate to the commander's intent.
The air defense commander identifies positions that facilitate engagements of threat fast-moving aircraft and helicopters. The air defense commander must ensure the engineers site the actual positions properly. The engineers know how to construct positions, but it is up to the occupant to ensure the position is properly oriented. Figure 4-78 illustrates an air defense position for a Stinger team.
The Vulcan platoon must be dug in to ensure survivability. The Vulcan is buried so that the hull of the carrier is not visible to the threat. The turret must traverse 360 degrees. This is to serve the effective use of both the gun and the radar. The air defense commander should ensure that the route taken to reach each gun is expeditious and that bunkers are constructed for each gun to hold stockpiled ammunition. As each Vulcan carries a Stinger gunner, the ADA commander can construct additional Stinger positions near the Vulcans or use the Stinger gunner as an ammunition bearer. Both Vulcan and Stinger positions should be linked to the ADA early warning net.
Combat Service Support
In developing the CSS plan, the battalion S4 will examine the engineer's strongpoint construction plan and determine the best places to stockpile ammunition and supplies. The units will further refine the stockpile plan by positioning smaller stockpiles adjacent to individual crew-served weapons. Once the unit stockpiles have been identified, the battalion S4 develops a resupply plan. Battalion cashes must be dispersed throughout the strongpoint to prevent a single detonation.
In a similar manner, stretcher bearers must be prepared to evacuate wounded from the perimeter to the aid station. The aid station is dug in and located with easy access to each unit. A water supply, generators and, if possible a bunker, should be made available to the aid station. In the case of an elongated strongpoint, the aid station may split to provide support from two locations. A clean and sufficient water source is important to the sustainability of the strongpoint.
Even though vehicles in the position are static, they will burn fuel during idling; particularly to run their thermal sites. Therefore, a refueling plan must be developed. Tailgate or service-station type refueling will probably not be a viable option, which leaves the requirement of refueling vehicles by hand with 5 gallon cans. The S4 must make sure a sufficient quantity is on hand as well as an appropriate storage source for the strongpoint. The S4 constructs an internal strongpoint traffic control plan. When you consider the width of a trench, it becomes readily apparent that one-way traffic is the preferred method. Accordingly, separate routes must be designated for evacuation from, and supply to the perimeter.
The combat trains CP is dug in separate from the battalion CP. It serves as the alternate CP should the main CP be destroyed. It is positioned away from the main CP but in proximity to the aid station and supply activities. Redundant communications must be established with the main CP so that direct communication via landline, for example, is possible between the two headquarters. Antennas should be remoted away from the CP and sited directionally to foil EW targeting (see Figure 4-79).
Command and Control
The commander must develop his strongpoint defense plan by using the terrain to its utmost advantage (see Figure 4-80). He should try to ensure dead space is absolutely minimized; and where it cannot be helped, it should be made inaccessible with obstacles and covered by indirect fire. The commander must do everything in his power to force the threat to remain in the open, making the threat suffer heavy casualties. Additionally, he must maintain an internal strongpoint mobility so the threat will never accurately predict the location of forces on the position. Each time the threat attacks, the defense should be a little different. The commander should use every dirty trick possible to confuse and foil the threat. Deception, explosives, and ambushes should be planned throughout the strongpoint. Camouflage must be perfect.
The commander must be able to traverse the strongpoint in response to an attack from any direction. His OPs must afford him the opportunity to observe the battle without becoming an obvious target. On the other hand, he must be able to move forward to inspire the troops if need be. He must be aware of threat actions all around the strongpoint, and not become fixed on a specific location. To this end, the battalion S3 should be located where the commander is not; remaining in constant communication and keeping him informed of the areas he cannot see. Communication wire must be buried deep in the strongpoint and field phones made available throughout the position.
The S2 executes the R&S plan. In addition to fighting the counterreconnaissance battle and alerting the battalion for the defensive fight, the reconnaissance elements are positioned to alert the battalion of impending encirclement. The S2 checks positioning to ensure they are satisfied with the positions he selected. Adjustments are made as needed and reported to the headquarters and maneuver elements.
The S2 reviews the decision support template with the commander, ensuring that threat courses of action have been taken into consideration. Finally, the S2 will assist the commander with the conduct of the maneuver rehearsal by representing the threat commander. He will ensure the threat actions are properly depicted during the rehearsal so the commanders and staff will then be able to anticipate these actions during execution.
The battalion commander will prepare for the battle by rehearsing the MBA direct-fire plan. As with the direct-fire rehearsal, the commander and/or the S2 will physically move along each mounted and dismounted AA and determine which defensive positions need to be better prepared or camouflaged. Additionally, to ensure the proper synchronization of his direct-and indirect-fire elements, the commander must also ensure his units are able to respond to his FRAGOs. Specifically, the units must rehearse repositioning, per the commander's orders. Counterattacks to reoccupy previously evacuated positions, as well as reserve actions, must be rehearsed to the satisfaction of the commander and the confidence of the soldier. The reserve must know which route to use and what to do once they have arrived in position. Similarly, CS and CSS personnel must also be prepared to assist in manning fighting positions. The conditions under which this occurs, and the execution itself must also be incorporated as part of the rehearsal. Direct-fire orientation and synchronization must be checked for each phase of the strongpoint battle. In doing so; however, each man must feel confident in his ability to fight back to his final position. Likewise, he must know that the harder he fights initially the less likely it will be for him to fall back to those positions.
The FS plan will be rehearsed as part of the maneuver plan. The commander will rehearse the strongpoint FS plan. First, he will want to verify that it is linked to the R&S plan so that indirect fires may be directed. Next, he ensures that fires that are designed to protect the strongpoint from assault are integrated with the obstacle and direct-fire plans. The FSOs must know when to call for the fires so that the arrival of the rounds will be linked to the direct-fire control measures (for example, trigger lines). As for the internal strongpoint defense, the commander must ensure that FPFs are planned forward of each main defensive position and that fires are planned on the positions themselves. This is critical if we are to deny the threat the ability to remain in our own defensive positions. The commander will check the control measures and signals used to call each of these type missions.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
As the commander maneuvers through the battalion EA, he will inspect the obstacles with the engineer commander to ensure they are properly camouflaged and emplaced. If target turnover is an aspect of the defensive plan, the commander ensures the responsible party understands his orders.
Close-in and on the position itself, the commander will continue to check the obstacle system and its integration with direct and indirect fires. He should be especially interested in the ability of the obstacles to stop both mounted and dismounted threat forces. Enfilade fires are the most effective in defending an obstacle close in; likewise, hand grenades should also be stockpiled at the fighting positions.
Within the position, the commander should check the aboveground and belowground obstacle plan. Demolitions should be emplaced and camouflaged throughout the system, allowing the defender to clear the threat force's. Other examples of the engineer effort within the strongpoint are dummy trenches complete with booby traps or gradually raised floors to provide head shots of the threat. Above the ground, AT and antipersonnel mines should be placed all over the position. The mission of the engineer is to deny threat armor access to the position. Disallowing vehicular and dismounted movement above the trench line forces the threat to a one-man front. Of course, this also means these areas are inaccessible to our own people unless lanes through minefields or trenches are marked. Should the threat penetrate the position, all of these paths should be easily closed.
The ADA commander will check to see that the ADA crews react appropriately. He should rehearse the ADA crews for threat air attacks along each of the identified threat air AAs, and rehearse simultaneous attacks from multiple routes.
Combat Service Support
The CSS plan for a strongpoint is clearly a complicated affair requiring the same level of detail in rehearsal as the maneuver plan. To this end, each support system must be rehearsed to ensure its effectiveness. Stretcher bearers, ammunition carriers, and all other logistical support members must travel their routes with the same amount of supplies that they would be expected to transport in combat. This will help identify areas within the plan that may require modification. Likewise, the signal to use alternate routes must be issued to see if the elements are able to adapt to a fluid situation.
In addition to the CSS plan, these soldiers must rehearse occupation of BPs, should the situation warrant. Since there will always be a need for some type of evacuation or resupply, not all CSS soldiers will join in combat.
Command and Control
The commander should prepare for the strongpoint defense by considering two things: Has he properly prepared for his role in the main defensive battle, and has he properly prepared for the defense of his strongpoint? All through the rehearsals, the commander must evaluate the physical characteristics of his defense, the execution of the defense by the battalion task force, and his own decision making, which will initiate their actions. Ultimately, he must make sure he is able to bring fires to bear at the right place and at the right time. How he does this must be a matter of his own rehearsal. The commander and the S2 must work hand in hand throughout all phases of tactical operations. In this case, the S2 should review the likely threat courses of action with the commander. The commander, equipped with his decision support template, must know and understand how much time is available to make a decision and what the ramifications will be. Above all, he must make sure he has the ability to position himself throughout the battle wherever he may be needed.
As the threat approaches the strongpoint, reconnaissance elements will report as per the R&S plan. The S2 must take this information and apply it to the event template of the threat, as well as the decision support template. The primary responsibility of the S2 in this regard is to give the commander the clearest possible picture of the threat to confirm or deny the threat's course(s) of action, and forecast of his next probable course of action. Specifically, he must determine whether or not the threat is maneuvering as per his IPB; and if not what their current and future actions are. If the threat situation is markedly different from the decision support template, the S2 must be able to give the commander a new template or modifications to the original. In so doing, the S2 must have an understanding of the commander's defensive plan.
The point to remember is that the commander will try to avoid making any major changes to his defensive plan, especially once contact has been made. He will attempt to see how his concept for defense can be modified in the least dramatic fashion so as to avoid confusion in the battalion task force. Sometimes, however, this is unavoidable. The commander, in this circumstance, must issue clear and concise instructions to the battalion, keeping the maneuver as simple as possible. In preparation for this FRAGO, the S2 should explain not only the current threat situation, but his likely vulnerabilities.
For the purposes of this discussion, we will begin with the threat's attack of the strongpoint. For a discussion of the MBA fight, see the previous two sections.
As mentioned earlier, the threat will probably not devote the time and effort to seize a strongpoint unless they have also determined the piece of terrain essential to their offensive operation (in which case, the amount of resources allocated for the assault will easily reach a ratio of 6 to 1, if not more). The battalion commander must be aware of this when he executes the fire plan.
The threat will begin by suppressing the strongpoint with massive amounts of artillery. It is safe to say that anything not dug in and prepared with adequate overhead cover stands a good chance of being destroyed. For the units and those elements manning weapon systems, it is at this point that personnel should be in bunkers or prepared fighting positions. Simultaneous with the suppression, the threat maneuver elements will form up for the assault and move to the strongpoint. Their objective is to arrive at the position as the indirect fires are lifted. With this knowledge, the commander's stay-behind patrols will report the location and disposition of the attacking forces before they reach the EA. Because the DS and reinforcing artillery are not located on the strongpoint, they will be able to fire against the threat. It is doubtful that the mortar platoon will be effective during this phase of the operation.
As the threat nears the position and the artillery suppression continues, the direct-fire weapons must be prepared to engage despite the threat fire. This demonstrates the need for adequate fortifications. Due to the extremely large threat mass, the direct fire from the strongpoint must be maintained at a sustained high rate. Obstacles will initially fragment the attackers; however, their shear mass almost ensures that a significant force will reach the main EA. Direct and indirect fires will reach a crescendo as the threat attempts to force a close-in breach of the protective obstacles. At this point, the commander must be prepared to unleash absolutely all direct and indirect weapons at the deepest point of threat penetration. To accomplish this, he will have to direct the fires via FRAGO.
If, however, the threat is able to establish a foothold, the commander will direct forces within the strongpoint to seal off and isolate the penetration. This is accomplished by units within the strongpoint orienting some weapons down the trench line toward the area of penetration. Mortar fire should be directed against the trenches occupied by the threat, as their high angle trajectory is well suited for the role. Demolitions that have been prepared along the trench line and in the positions should be detonated in symphony with a local counterattack to reestablish the positions. In the meantime, the remaining forces must do their best to ensure the threat is unable to reinforce their penetration. Repositioning to achieve enfilade fire, parallel to the perimeter is the most effective.
Reserve forces may be called on to restore a weakening portion of the perimeter; however, they should be used wisely as their numbers may be needed later in the battle. If the threat is able to attrit the battalion and weaken the outer perimeter, the commander may be forced to order a withdrawal to the secondary line of defense. In this case, FPFs will be shot as units withdraw. It is important that this maneuver be done orderly and in a controlled manner, or the threat may be able to take advantage of the rearward momentum. Fire obstacles are especially helpful in allowing a clean break with the threat. Fifty-five gallon drums filled with FOOGAS, positioned and prepared for demolition, will create a temporary, but effective wall of flame between defensive perimeters.
During this final stage, the reserve becomes extremely important. It must be able to maneuver in response to threat success from any direction. This includes counterattacking by fire to reestablish a breach in the perimeter. Prepared tank paths may offer some added strength in this regard; however, it must be up to the dismounted soldier to maintain the integrity of the trench line. This is probably the point of fiercest fighting on the position. The threat knows that it has made some progress, but must destroy the force to gain the position, while the defender must stand his ground or die trying. This is also the point where many of the systems will have been degraded by attrition and destruction. The commander must assess the situation carefully, wait for the optimum moment, and commit the reserve at the place and time where it is able to inflict the greatest amount of damage, and break the will of the attacker.
Last, the commander may call for artillery or air on the position itself. The defenders will move to bunkers or well-prepared positions, orienting their weapons toward the threat's likely location. In the meantime, virtually every round on hand will be shot in an attempt to destroy anything that moves on the position. Keep in mind that some threat will find cover and survive the bombardment. So even though the suppression is over, as the defender moves out of his bunkers, he must be prepared to continue the fight. At this point, higher headquarters will also attempt to rescue the strongpoint by committing a force to counterattack.
Much of the FS plan execution is inextricably linked to the maneuver discussion. In isolation, the execution generally begins with the main defensive battle. This will be fought as per the discussion in the preceding two sections. Once the threat has determined to assault the strongpoint, however, the focus shifts to initially interdicting the attacking force before it reaches the position itself. The artillery will rely on the observations of the FIST and reconnaissance assets at this point. Remember, stay-behind patrols should be equipped with the capability to adjust indirect fire.
As the threat draws near, indirect fire will be shot to reinforce the obstacle plan and to destroy massed threat formations short of the obstacle. FPFs will deny threat penetration of the position, or assist in the evacuation of the initial defensive perimeter. Should the threat penetrate the strongpoint, fires will be oriented against those threat-occupied areas while other indirect fires (linear sheaths) will deny threat reinforcement of success. Lastly, fires may be fired on top of the position as a last attempt to clear the threat from the strongpoint. These are only the fires directed against the furthest point of success. It is important to remember that fires must extend in depth throughout the operation in order to fragment and disrupt second-echelon forces from reinforcing success.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The execution of the obstacle plan begins with target turnover. Once the mobile reconnaissance elements have been ordered to move into the strongpoint, those targets that were emplaced to close lanes (in obstacle belts for example) will be executed. As each target is detonated, a report is sent to the headquarters so that the commander can be sure the obstacle plan is in effect as planned. Once the attack begins, there is little the engineers can do in support of those obstacles outside the perimeter. However, as the threat draws near to the protective obstacles and dismounts their infantry, some preplanned demolitions and mines (such as the Claymore) may be detonated to deny a breach of the obstacle belt.
Engineers may continue to improve obstacles and booby traps within the position. They may also continue to improve the survivability of the fortifications. However, construction materials, like all other types of supplies, must be preplanned in order for this to be satisfactory. Otherwise, the engineers will have to develop field expedients. If the threat penetrates the position engineers can detonate preplanned charges, mines, and flame weapons. They may also be called on to man defensive positions and fight as infantry.
The execution of the air defense plan relies on several factors. The ADA weapons must receive early warning via the early warning net. This may be a problem during threat artillery suppression. Radar from the Vulcans is an alternate means for early detection; however, it too is vulnerable to artillery. This leaves visual identification, which will also be a problem during threat preparation. As a result, the battalion may find itself unable to respond to an air attack if the artillery suppression is effective. Therefore, the strongpoint must rely on the support of ADA assets located on adjoining and depth positions.
Once the preparation has ended, the ADA plan may be executed. Most likely, some of the weapon and communications systems will have been damaged during the artillery suppression; therefore, redundancy and rehearsals will have paid off.
Combat Service Support
The CSS plan will have difficulty being executed unless the strongpoint is equipped with a tunnel system. This is unlikely, however, due to the intensity of resources and construction time. As a result, the S4 must ensure that the stockpiles are sufficient to sustain the fight without resupply until the preparation is expected to lift.
Once supply personnel move throughout the trench line, the system will function as planned. The most important aspect of the operation is that the combat trains stay abreast of the needs of the fighting forces. Just as in a mobile operation, preplanned packages of ammunition and other quickly expendable items must be ready for transport even before a request is received. This will speed the process significantly and make the system more responsive.
Plans must be made for the cross-leveling of items identified early in the fight as becoming critically low. In this regard, instructions may be issued to units to use certain weapon systems sparingly, but others may make up the difference.
Command and Control
Throughout the operation, the commander must place himself where he is best able to assess the battle. The strongpoint defense is a thinking defense. A strongpoint has the smallest margin of error and the greatest price to pay should it be lost. The battle is fought with this in mind. The commander must be aware of threat activities from all sides, and should place his S3 opposite himself. The commander must remain calm and resolute, and assist the company commanders if need be by shifting forces or fires in support of their battle. He must anticipate the moves of the threat, strike first, then follow up with offensive actions. Above all, the commander must force himself to be at the critical place and time throughout each phase of the battle, remaining somewhat detached, yet close enough to gain a clear picture of the situation. From this first-hand posture, the commander can make the necessary decisions.
Conduct of a Motorized Rifle Battalion Attack
The three basic formations used by the ground forces are the march prebattle, and battle formations. The march is organized to ensure rapid unit deployment into the prebattle and battle formations. This formation is used when contact with an intact threat force is not imminent. When contact with the threat is imminent, units deploy from the march to the prebattle formation. These formations are dispersed laterally, in depth, and with means of reinforcement. They may be in line, echelon (right or left), wedge, or inverted wedge formation. When it is possible to penetrate, disrupt, or overly extend defenses in the prebattle formation, units will deploy into battle formation to overcome stronger defenses. The battle formation is formed when columns deploy into linear formations echeloned in depth. These formations include first-and second-echelons, reserve (combined arms, tank, engineer, chemical) and artillery groupings. Should the attack be successful, units would redeploy into prebattle formation for more rapid movement.
If possible, the march is conducted at night or under conditions of limited visibility (see Figure 4-81). The speed at which the march is conducted depends on METT-T. Speeds for a BMP-equipped battalion by day are 30 to 40 kmph, and by night and during other conditions of limited visibility, they are 25 to 30 kmph. If tanks and artillery are attached, the average speed for day marches is 20 to 30 kmph and 15 to 20 kmph at night.
The interval between vehicles is up to 50 meters during road movement and 50 to 100 meters during tactical cross-country movement. Control measures along the route of advance include initial start points and easily recognizable control (PLs) lines. Communication during the march is accomplished by messengers, flags, and radio (when PLs are crossed).
In a motorized march, halts of up to 30 minutes occur every 2 to 3 hours. During the second half of a motorized march, a long halt of 2 to 4 hours is held. During short halts, distances between vehicles in column formation are not changed--men and vehicles maintain the march intervals. During long halts, vehicles are dispersed and camouflaged.
The Soviets-style armies divide the march into two distinct elements: the movement organization and march security. Movement organization is designed to ensure high speed, rapid combat deployment, and effective control. Tanks and artillery are usually toward the front, and antiaircraft weapons are distributed throughout the column(s). All-around security is provided during the march to ensure uninterrupted movement, to prevent surprise attack, to keep threat reconnaissance units from observing the main body, and to create the most favorable conditions for deployment of the main body in a meeting engagement (see Figure 4-82). Advance, flank, and rear guard units ensure all-around security during the march. In addition, stationary flank outposts occupy critical terrain until the main body has passed.
Organization for Combat
The regimental commander allocates tank, artillery, air defense, AT, engineer, and chemical units to his battalions. Battalion commanders organize their units for the march. When feasible, attachments are made prior to the march. The battalion commanders normally place attached tank, artillery, and AT forces near or at the head of their march formation.
Movement to Contact
Missions. For the march, the MRB may be given the mission of advance guard, forward or rear detachment, or be designated part of the main body of the regiment (see Figure 4-83).
As the regiment's advance guard, the MRB has the mission of ensuring the uninterrupted movement and security of the main body. It must also prevent threat reconnaissance elements from reaching the main body.
When acting as a forward detachment, the MRB has the mission of conducting reconnaissance or seizing and holding key terrain until the arrival of the main body of the division.
Planning the march. The battalion commander studies the mission, briefs his chief of staff and technical deputies, calculates movement tables, and issues a WO to his subordinate elements. The MRB commander meets his attached artillery commander and coordinates his movement plan with the artillery fire plan.
The battalion commander's WO to his unit describes the conditions under which the march will be made, its length, actions to prepare personnel and equipment, designation of security elements, information regarding attachments, and the time and location for receiving the march order.
The regimental commander's march order to his battalion commander includes--
- Information on threat and friendly forces.
- Topographical and meteorological data.
- The mission.
- Execution of the mission (start time and location, coded reference control points, security information and coordination).
- Administrative and logistics data.
- Command and signal information.
After reading the regimental commander's march order, the battalion commander completes his command estimate and determines--
- Column formation and composition of security elements.
- Actions to be conducted by security elements and the main body where contact with the threat is possible.
- Use of attachments.
- NBC, air defense, and cover and concealment measures.
The battalion commander and his staff draw up the march order. The battalion commander makes a detailed map analysis of the terrain. Prior to issuing the combat order to his unit, the battalion commander has his march order approved by the regimental commander.
Along with the regimental order, the MRB's march order forms the basis for the battalion commander's combat order to his subordinate elements. The march order states the battalion's mission, control measures, command and signal instructions, and detailed instructions to each subordinate unit on actions to be taken in the event of threat action along the march route. This approach often becomes mechanical in nature and is indicative of the battalion commander's efforts to control the actions of his company commanders. He not only tells them what to do, but when and how to do it. When the "threat" does the unexpected, company commanders often fail to react.
The battalion march order gives the regimental commander a clear indication as to whether or not his order was understood. Once the regimental commander has confirmed the MRB commander's march order, the MRB commander issues verbal combat orders to his subordinate elements.
The verbal combat order from the MRB commander to his unit commanders is a combination of data derived from the regimental order and the battalion commander's march plan. It includes--
- Threat and friendly forces.
- The mission.
- Detailed instruction for each of the battalion's subordinate elements, coordinating instructions, action on threat contact, antiaircraft, and NBC defense.
- Command and signal.
- Logistics details.
The battalion commander organizes the march under more difficult circumstances. His actions are abbreviated. He is aided in rapid dissemination of orders by his communications net, which includes every vehicle in the battalion. Data concerning the threat and mission passed to the battalion commander on his frequency would not have to be relayed individually to platoon and company commanders.
Command and control. The battalion commander and the attached artillery commander are normally located well forward, either with the advance guard or at the head of the battalion's main body. His position within the advance guard enables him to best observe threat action, formulate his plans, and deploy his unit.
To control his unit during the march, the battalion commander relies on messengers, flags, traffic controllers, and radios to a lesser degree. Although the battalion commander generally stays on radio-listening watch, the passing of PLs and other checkpoints are reported by radio. NBC and air warnings are transmitted by radio.
Conduct of the march. The march is controlled tightly with the starting times, passing of control points, speed, and spacing of vehicles supervised rigidly. If a vehicle falls out due to technical difficulty, the commander or driver gives the designated signal to prevent following vehicles from slowing down. If the vehicle can be repaired by the crew and/or the battalion maintenance section, it rejoins the column; otherwise, it is evacuated by the regiment.
Gorges, bridges, built-up areas, river-crossing points, and other hazardous areas for the column are crossed without halting and at maximum speed. Effort is made to bypass built-up areas. Engineers, part of the combat reconnaissance patrol when the battalion is the advance guard of the regiment, supervises the removal of obstacles.
During short halts, the column halts in order and at intervals established in the battalion commander's order. Crews of air defense weapons and designated air sentries remain on alert.
During long halts, companies disperse to assigned areas, but are prepared to move out on short notice. These areas are selected to take advantage of natural terrain features for protection. Hot food is prepared while the men check their equipment.
Higher headquarters or an element within the MRB inform the battalion commander of the approaching threat aircraft. The battalion's reaction depends on the terrain it is in. If cover is sufficient along the route of march, the battalion halts and attempts to conceal itself from aerial observation; otherwise, vehicles increase their speed, lengthen the interval between vehicles and engage aircraft. ATGMs mounted on the BMP may be used against attacking helicopters. At night, vehicular night-vision devices are used, and personnel fire at threat aircraft only on order of their company or battalion commander.
Termination of the march. By properly organizing and conducting the march, the battalion commander sets the stage for the meeting battle, the first phase of destroying the threat's forces
The Meeting Battle
Characteristics. The rapidly changing situation, the presence of gaps and open flanks, and freedom of maneuver allow the more able and aggressive commander to defeat forces of equal and even superior strength. The meeting battle may occur--
- In a surprise attack when the threat is attempting to occupy forward defensive positions.
- During a breakthrough when approaching threat reserves are encountered.
- In the defensive when a counterattack is ordered to destroy an threat penetration.
To achieve success in the meeting battle, the Soviets-style armies stress--
- Continuous reconnaissance.
- Immediate reactions of battalion commanders.
- Beating the threat to the punch with fire and maneuver.
- Well-organized CS.
Objective. From the point of contact, the depth of the objective could be up to 8 kilometers, which is the length of a threat battalion column in march formation. If it is unable to achieve this objective, the advance guard of the regiment is tasked with delaying the largest possible threat force and giving the rest of the regiment the time and intelligence data to enable it to enter the battle effectively.
Command and control. The battalion, acting as advance guard, operates 5 to 10 kilometers ahead of the regimental main body. The battalion commander cannot be as tightly supervised as usual. Moreover, the fluid, dynamic nature of the meeting battle imposes additional strain on the battalion commander in his efforts to control the actions of his subordinates. The increasing mobility of his forces and those of the threat, continually reduce the limited amount of time a commander has to organize a meeting battle.
Once contact has been made, radio is the primary means of control. Instructions by the battalion commander are brief. Tactics are based on well-rehearsed battle drill.
Conduct of the meeting battle.
Initial stage. The meeting battle commences when the advance guard's advance detachment clashes with the threat security forces. The advance detachment attempts to destroy the threat and continue its mission, or if forced on the defensive by a superior threat, to hold its position and support the attack by the main body.
Deployment. The commander moves forward quickly to make an estimate of the situation, and issues orders to his attached artillery. The artillery deploys from the march, supports the advance detachment by fire, and prepares to support the deployment and attack of the main body. Having formulated his plan, the MRB commander gives changes regarding attachments and orders the deployment of his unit. He attacks in one echelon, retaining one or two platoons in reserve. The battalion rear service elements are moved will forward. The battalion commander's coordinating instructions include--
- Mission of the forward security element of the advance guard.
- Artillery (to include mortar) FS plan.
- Sequence of deployment for the tank and MR units.
- Combined arms coordination.
- Coordination signals (made originally prior to the march, they are given last minute refinement).
The regimental commander is notified of his advance guard commander's plans for the meeting battle, and supports him with artillery fires when within range.
The attack. In most meeting battles, the threat has not had time to prepare the terrain, create a fire plan, or deploy AT weapons. To take advantage of these factors, the battalion normally attacks mounted, with tanks preceding the MR troops and supported by artillery and mortar fire. Should threat AT fire be heavy, the MRB attacks dismounted. When attacking dismounted, the infantry stays within 200 meters of the tanks to render mutual support. BMPs support the armor infantry attack by fire. If AT fire is strong, attached tanks stay back with the BMPs and support the attacking dismounted infantry by fire.
A concealed approach to the deployment line is used. Specific attack frontages depend on METT-T and weather. Two companies in the first echelon and one acting as second echelon or reserve is normal. The battalion frontage would be about 1 kilometer. When all three companies attack abreast, the frontages would increase to 500 meters per company front with 200 meters lateral interval between companies. Terrain restraints may not allow the battalion's subelements to attack on line; companies are echeloned (right, left) or attack in wedge formation. The attack is developed into the depths of the threat formation rapidly. There is no mopping up of small threat groups as this task is handled by the regimental main body.
Termination. The meeting battle at battalion level terminates when the threat has been destroyed, forced to retire, or when the MRB has to assume the defensive. In the first two situations, the MRB resumes the march or launches pursuit operations. If forced on the defensive, the battalion attempts to inflict maximum casualties and buy time for the regiment to deploy. In the latter case, the advance guard MRB supports the attack of the main body fire.
Characteristics. Breakthroughs are conducted against three types of defenses: hasty, positional, and fortified. The difference between positional and fortified defenses is one of degree, with the latter being better prepared more complex, in greater depth, and therefore more difficult to breach. Weapons employment affects attack frontages and formation in a breakthrough operation. Large amounts of conventional artillery are concentrated to support the breakthrough effort, which is usually directed at the weakest point in the that's defenses. The breakthrough sector, regardless of the type of defense it is directed against, attempts to concentrate numerical superiority in men and equipment on a narrow sector, while pressure is maintained along breakthrough sectors as well.
The objective of the breakthrough is threefold: to split and disperse the threat's defense, to conduct the pursuit, and to complete the destruction of threat forces. The MRB is assigned an immediate objective of 1,000 to 1,500 meters; that is, a distance just beyond the depth of the threat's forward defending companies but short of his reserve positions. The MRB's subsequent objective encompasses threat reserves to a depth of up to 4 kilometers from the FEBA.
Organization for Combat
The Soviets-style armies achieve desired superiority in men and equipment for the breakthrough by concentrating (for a relatively short period of time) on a narrow frontage. The MRB is heavily reinforced with up to two tank companies, one or more artillery battalions, a platoon of combat engineers (equipped with flamethrowers and obstacle-clearing equipment), and a chemical detachment. When attacking on a l-kilometer frontage, the MRB commander could have 60 to 100 mortar and artillery tubes in support.
Attack Frontages and Formations
The MRB may attack as part of the regiment's first or second echelon. As part of the first echelon, it normally attacks with three heavily reinforced companies: two in the first echelon (or with all three companies in the first echelon against a hasty defense) attacking on a frontage of about 1,000 meters, and one in the second echelon (reserve). If the threat's defenses, particularly his AT defenses, have been sufficiently neutralized, the battalion would attack mounted-otherwise dismounted. METT-T determines the battalion formation, although for control purposes, an attack on line is preferred over echelon (right, left) formations.
Command and Control
The battalion commander is supposed to be within 500 meters of his first echelon. The battalion chief of staff is located with the battalion commander. When an artillery unit is attached to the MRB, the artillery commander will normally accompany the MRB commander; the mortar battery commander will also be closeby, while FOs (from attached artillery) will accompany the first-echelon companies. When the MRB leaves the AA, the battalion commander, with the attached artillery and mortar battery commanders, is located where he can best control his unit. Company and platoon leaders are at the head of their respective elements. Guides are also employed to ensure speed and aid in control of the battalion.
Though radio is the primary means of control in the attack, flags, flares, and messengers are also used. The CP is located from which the commander may best observe the attack. The CP is rarely moved during a counterattack, on commitment of the reserve, during a transitional phase (such as switching from the attack to the defense), or during heavy threat air attack.
Breakthrough From the March
Normally, when the MRB, acting as part of the regiment, attempts a breakthrough from the march, it will first occupy an AA to make final preparations for the assault. When properly chosen, the AA provides dispersion, offers security from threat observation and fire, and makes it more possible to achieve surprise.
Attempting a breakthrough from the march entails strict coordination of deployment times with FS, engineer support, and movement control. It may also be conducted through forces in contact, thus involving a passage of lines. This type of operation involves extensive coordination with the unit to be passed through.
In addition to METT-T, the determinant for the battalion's attack frontage is to create the required superiority in men and equipment from the threat FEBA all the way to the battalion's subsequent objective. The depth of the battalion's immediate and subsequent objectives also varies according to METT-T.
MRB formation also depends on METT-T. Line formation is usually used in open terrain and when the threat FEBA is comparatively straight. The line formation allows maximum firepower to the front and facilitates C2. The wedge is commonly used in the depth of the threat's defenses, after breakthrough has been achieved. The battalion attacks from the march mounted in BMPs, atthough threat fire may force a dismounted or mixed attack. In the latter case, part of the MRB fights from BMPs while the other part fights dismounted.
When the MRB leaves the AA, it moves as rapidly as possible to the threat FEBA, and deploys according to the regimental commander's order. Battalion's deploy into columns 8 to 12 kilometers from the FEBA, companies form columns 4 to 6 kilometers from the FEBA, and platoons 1.5 to 4 kilometers from the FEBA. Squads form assault lines as close as possible to the threat (usually within 300 to 1,000 meters of the FEBA).
A 30 to 45 minute artillery preparation is planned to inflict maximum damage on the defender up until the time that the assault line is reached; artillery and mortar fires are then shifted into the depths of the threat's defenses. Breaches are made through minefields by a combination of artillery fire, tanks, and sappers. Tanks (equipped with KMT-4 mineplows and the KMT-5 mineroller assemblies) of the leading battalion in the main attack, with supporting infantry and sappers, clear one path per attacking platoon (three per company). MTK-Zs, hurling explosive line charges, clear paths several meters wide and a few hundred meters long, and are supplemented by sappers armed with the UZ-series bangalore torpedoes, each of which can clear a lane 2 to 3 meters wide.
MR troops follow tanks through breaches made in minefields and then deploy in line behind the tanks and assault the threat's forward positions. The actions of the battalion change most dramatically after the forward defenses have been breached. Tank-supported first-echelon companies attempt to exploit success and widen the gaps in the defenses as rapidly as possible. Efforts are made to prevent the threat from reestablishing his defenses, or withdrawing in an orderly fashion. Strongpoints established in the depth of the defenses are bypassed whenever possible.
The reinforced second-echelon (reserve) company would be committed to aid a faltering first-echelon unit, to exploit the success of the first echelon by continuing the attack into the depths, or to deal with a counterattack.
Breakthrough From a Position in Close Contact
Factors increasing the complexities of this type of attack are--
- The constant threat of nuclear and conventional fire, necessitating the dispersal of personnel. Assault positions must, therefore, be only briefly occupied.
- The difficulty of concealing attack preparations; elaborate ruses must be devised to achieve surprise.
- The threat of sudden threat counterattack during the passage of lines.
- Elaborate engineer preparation of the assault line.
In addition to the problems he dealt with when organizing an attack from the march, the battalion commander also determines the following:
- The assault position his battalion will occupy, and the routes they will use to occupy it.
- BMP locations and procedures for using them in support of the dismounted attack.
Ideally, the MRB occupies the assault position durng darkness or other periods of reduced visibility. BMPs are initially left in the rear (moving up to revetments when given a signal) while dismounted infantry move to their assault positions by way of concealed routes and communications trenches. To achieve surprise, the MRB's first-echelon assault companies will occupy the second trench of the defending forces (see Figure 4-84). During preparatory fires, the first-echelon assault companies occupy the first trench and the second-echelon company (reserve) occupies the second trench; attached tanks occupy a designated AA and are given a start line, normally located 1 to 2 kilometers from the FEBA; attached engineers are located in communications trenches close to the companies they will support; the battalion mortar battery and attached and supporting artillery occupy positions prior to the time the MRB occupies its assault positions; the battalion medical point is located just behind the second-echelon (reserve) company; the remaining battalion rear service elements are further back, but generally within 4 kilometers of the FEBA.
Forces relieved by the MRB during the passage of lines will do one of three things: retire to the rear, support the attack by fire, and/or join in the attack. In the first case, they may be formed as a reserve or sent further to the rear for rest; in the second, their organic and attached weapons would participate in the preparatory fires in support of the attack; in the third case, they would support the initial assault by fire and participate in one of the regiment's attacking echelons.
When given the attack signal, first echelon assault companies, following closely behind their attached tanks and supported by BMP fires, penetrate the threat's forward defenses and attack his reserves. The battalion commander and his staff follow closely behind the first echelon and, in turn, are followed by the battalion's second echelon (reserve). Mortars, attached artillery, and air defense forces move on order to support the attack into the depth of the defenses (see Figure 4-85).
Objective. The objective of the pursuit is to prevent an organized withdrawal and complete the destruction of threat forces as rapidly as possible. The MRB attempts to achieve these objectives by the mobility and firepower of the battalion and its attachments. The MRB normally conducts the pursuit (as part of the regiment) frontally, on parallel routes, or by a combination thereof.
Conduct of the pursuit. Aware that the threat is withdrawing, the MRB commander reorganizes his forces as necessary, maintains close contact with the threat, and informs the regiment of his actions.
The regimental commander radios his orders to the MRB commander to conduct a pursuit. A battalion is usually assigned a pursuit axis, told what threat forces to destroy and the objectives to be seized. The battalion commander radios missions to his organic and attached units while on the move. The depth of the objectives depends on the situation.
The battalion, attacking initially in its former formation--a first and second echelon (reserve)--first attempts to destroy the withdrawing threat's covering force. Having done so, the MRB either deploys into a single column in march formation or conducts the pursuit on parallel axes. In the former case, a company reinforced with tanks, engineers and chemical troops forms the forward patrol of the advance guard, and a series of meeting engagements take place. In a pursuit on parallel axes, the battalion sends out stronger security elements to the threatened flanks.
Attached engineer and artillery units play a key role in pursuit operations. Engineers remove obstacles, prepare detours around damaged parts of the route, and lay mines on the threat's withdrawal routes and probable counterattack axes. Artillery fires up to maximum range deploying from columns in less than ideal firing positions. Artillery must be able to come out of action quickly and rejoin the march formation. Prompt receipt of target data determines the success of the artillery during the pursuit. The new self-propelled artillery units are especially well suited for pursuit operations. Heliborne and/or airborne forces seize key terrain in the threat rear, thereby disrupting threat withdrawal.
Rear service personnel of the battalion follow behind the combat formations, and keep the regiment informed regarding the medical, supply and maintenance status of the MRB and its attachments.
Conduct of the Tank Battalion Attack
Tank Battalion Support
A tank battalion is supported by the fire of artillery and aircraft and has the following attachments from other arms in the offensive:
- One MRC.
- An engineer platoon.
- A NBC reconnaissance platoon.
- Armored recovery vehicles, supply vehicles, and ambulances.
A battalion usually attacks in two echelons. The second echelon, which may be one tank company, follows the first echelon at a distance of 3 kilometers. If the first echelon fails to reach its objective, the mission is taken over as a priority task of the second echelon. When the first echelon takes its objective, the second echelon is used to exploit success. The second echelon is frequently (but inaccurately) referred to in military writing as a "reserve". The true reserve (usually one tank platoon) is formed by the battalion commander. The reserve is not given a mission at the outset of an operation. It is used to contend with unforeseen contingencies and to make a shift in the thrust of the operation.
Attack Frontages and Depths
Terrain, the degree to which the threat force has been neutralized, and whether there is to be use of nuclear weapons, dictate the frontage of a battalion during an attack. The distances shown in Figure 4-86 may be taken as typical.
A battalion attack in two echelons is normally carried out to a depth of 3 to 4 kilometers. After preparation fires, the first echelon carries out an attack to overcome the threat forward positions. When the first echelon has consolidated its position and the second echelon has consolidated its position, the second echelon attack is delivered against the threat's positions in depth.
The Soviet-style armies judge that the usual preponderance of attackers to defense should be between 3 and 5 to 1 in tanks. But a threat force that is two or three times as strong as the attacking force may be engaged if preparation fires have effectively neutralized the threat defensive position. This inversion of usual attack defense ratios shows the effectiveness the Soviet-style armies expect from the destructive force of nuclear weapons and heavy artillery fire.
FS for the tank battalion is normally arranged by the regimental commander. Artillery is allocated from division resources. FS may be augmented by direct or indirect fire of tank units not taking part in the attack. Preparatory fire is usually on a timed basis and can be up to 40 minutes in length. Artillery attached to an attacking tank battalion covers the movement of the battalion's first echelon. During the final assault, artillery engages threat reserve positions. Soviet-style tanks close to 150 to 200 meters of artillery fire during the advance. Artillery targets in support of second echelon mission are selected by the tank battalion commander after consolidation of the first echelon objectives.
Smoke may be be used before or after the start of an offensive. Before the offensive starts, the control of smoke is likely to be retained at regimental level or higher. When the battalion penetrates the threat defenses, the battalion commander may call for smoke either to conceal a flank or to confuse the threat as to the direction of the attack. The Soviets-style armies recognize the value of smoke in obscuring the field of vision of ATGM operators. Since the tank unit commanders regard ATGMs as the threat's most dangerous AT weapon, we believe that smoke will frequently be used.
Attack On a Prepared Position
Deployment. A tank battalion requires an initial deployment area of 8 to 10 square kilometers to prepare for an attack on a prepared position (see Figure 4-87). The area should be out of threat observation, allow for camouflage, and have good access roads. In this area tanks are resupplied with ammunition and POL and are prepared for combat. Preliminary orders are given and units from MR and other attached units join the tank companies. A point at the front of the deployment area is designated the departure point from which subsequent movement is timed. Once the battalion starts its advance no stops are made, although movement control points may be established approximately every 1 to 1-1/2 hours march along the route. Routes are sometimes posted with colored markers. An area is selected some 4 to 6 kilometers from the threat position for companies to deploy into column. Companies move into a column of platoon 1 to 3 kilometers from the position depending on the terrain, and into an assault line 1,000 to 500 meters in front of the threat position. Second-echelon companies remain approximately 3 kilometers behind the first echelon in the advance movement.
Reconnaissance. When a battalion attacks from a position which is behind the FEBA, the battalion commander makes reconnaissance on the ground with the commanders of his tank companies and attached units. The battalion commander and the reconnaissance group follow the planned route of advance, and familiarize themselves with the departure and control points and those deployment areas behind their own FEBA. Detailed reconnaissance is made of fords and other critical points. Areas to be used as second echelon deployment areas and by the battalion medical aid station and the battalion support group are confined. Radio communications are established with units which are to support the tank battalion with fire. In the assault, the battalion commander maintains personal surveillance over the battlefield from his CP. The battalion commander is able both to transmit to the regimental commander updated tactical intelligence and to personally influence the battle.
Estimate. An estimate is made of the amount of neutralization possible. Special attention is given to identifying the threat tank and ATGM threat. The location of the battalion CP, the fire positions of attached AP carriers, and dismounting areas for motorized infantry are planned.
Attack coordination. The tank battalion commander is responsible for coordinating passage of lines, and supporting fires of attached units and those along the FEBA which are within range. This coordination is worked out within the fire plan laid down by the regimental commander. Movement timings are planned so that the battalion attacks as soon as possible after air or artillery strikes.
Obstacle crossing. A tank battalion crosses minefield after clearance of platoon lanes by engineer units or by battalion tanks equipped with mineplows. Each tank company holds three sets of mineplows which may be fitted when required. Such clearing operations may be covered by use of smoke. Engineer units create passages in obstacles (including minefields) by demolition, usually during the preparatory artillery barrage. Once made, these passage are marked and guarded by engineer units. Narrow defiles, canals, or streams which could impede the attack are bridged by engineer units.
Assault action. Following preparatory fires, the first echelon of the battalion assaults in company line formation. An assault speed of 14 to 22 kmph is usual. Tanks engage targets according to the priority set by company commanders. This strict fire control ensures the concentration of fire. Dismounted infantry follow the tanks as closely as possible to gain cover from fire Infantry in APCs follow 150 to 200 meters behind the tanks. Second echelons assault through gaps in the first echelon. The battalion consolidates on the objective once it is taken and threat counterattacks are neutralized by artillery fire. The battalion commander then calls the battalion support group forward to replenish POL and ammunition or continues the advance as ordered by the regimental commander. Damaged tanks are repaired in the battalion position if and when possible. Each deputy company commander for technical affairs is responsible for the vehicles of his own unit. Technical assistance is provided where necessary by regiment. A separate technical radio net is established and supplemented by audio and visual signals as needed. Human casualties are evacuated once the tank is moved into a covered position.
Second Echelon Tank Battalion in a Regimental Attack of a Prepared Position
Concept. The tank battalion in the second echelon of a regiment's attack on a prepared position can have one or more of the following missions:
- Completion of the mission of first echelon units.
- Destruction of threat deep or reserve positions.
- Neutralization of threat counterattacks.
- Pursuit of a withdrawing threat.
- Attack of threat hasty or mobile defensive positions.
- Destruction of threat nuclear delivery means.
Since achieving such objectives can result in many changes in the routine described for a first echelon unit, each stage of planning is abbreviated. Success usually depends on the initiative of the regimental commander and his close monitoring of the status of the first-echelon units.
Second-echelon planning. The battalion commander in the second echelon must be thoroughly familiar with the missions of the first-echelon units. This includes a knowledge of fire planning and FS. He also receives the following information from the regimental commander:
- Details of attached and detached units.
- Intelligence information on known threat positions in depth and reserves.
- Deployment areas and routes of advance.
- The priority of likely missions and objectives.
Once his mission is defined, and after making his estimate of the situation, the second echelon tank battalion commander issues his orders by radio.
Attack on an Threat Hasty Defense
Concept. The Soviet-style armies consider that an threat will move into a hastily prepared defensive position--
- At the outset of operations.
- When making contact with an advance guard.
- During mobile defensive operations.
- When the Soviet-style armies have the initiative during withdrawal or pursuit operation.
Deployment. The breakthrough of an threat hastily prepared defensive position is attempted from the line of march usually after a successful attack on a prepared position (see Figure 4-88). The tank battalions which carry out the operations are task organized and supported in the same way as for the meeting engagement. Advance guard units assault threat strongpoints and attempt to disrupt the defense before it can stabilize. The operation is dynamic and FS is utilized as it becomes available. The main body deploys into combat formation directly from the march and assaults to the flanks and rear of the threat position to prevent threat reinforcement. Initial success is exploited to force the threat to withdraw. Should the initial breakthrough of such a hasty defense fail, a further attempt is made from a different flank or axis. In this case the battalion which made the initial assault consolidates on the most advantageous terrain and gives direct FS to the attack of a second-echelon battalion.
Concept. Once a breakthrough of either a prepared or hasty defensive position has been accomplished, a tank battalion will reform into columns and attempt to disrupt the threat's withdrawal. Such an operation may be carried out by pursuing the threat directly, on a parallel route, or both (see Figure 4-89).
Deployment. During the pursuit, a tank battalion uses the tactical formation appropriate to the situation. The battalion remains in combat formation until the threat is forced to retreat but will form into march columns as soon as practicable, to make a rapid advance. If the battalion penetrates the rear deployment area of a routed threat, it can be expected to form into tactical columns headed by a reconnaissance element and an advance guard. The battalion commander is charged with making every effort to keep in contact with the retreating threat by means of reconnaissance patrols and flank security detachments.
A company team is assigned a defend in sector mission to prevent forces from passing the rear boundary of the sector, retain flank contact and security, and ensure unity of effort with the battalion task force scheme of maneuver.
A company team is given a defend in sector mission due to terrain compartmentalization and unsuitability for interlocking fires. The same may not hold true for the company, with respect to its platoons. The commander prepares for his defend in sector mission by conducting a terrain analysis throughout the depth of the assigned sector. He will identify mobility corridors down to the individual vehicle and dismounted level. Often, company sectors appear to the flanks of the battalion sector. It is important that the commander analyzes the threat flank AAs in the same detail as primary AAs.
Next, the commander will identify where the threat is most vulnerable. This is identification of choke points or natural obstacles perpendicular to the threat's direction of travel. He determines where the threat will change formation, dismount, or move to bypass. The commander notes these locations, using them later in the sighting of weapons systems and obstacle and indirect fire. He will also identify possible future locations for LP/OPs or other reconnaissance assets.
The company commander begins his preparation by selecting where to kill the threat and possible weapon positions throughout the defensive sector. To accomplish this, a technique is to place a weapon template on the proposed engagement site (see Figure 4-90). The cross hairs are positioned on the point of engagement and each weapon's are examined. This will give the commander the maximum standoff location for each weapon. The commander may then identify possible positions for each weapon, forward of the arc. Remember the template only identifies range. It is up to the commander to also examine the line of sight from the proposed weapons positions to the target area. Another consideration involves time of flight versus target exposure time. Weapons may have the range and line of sight, but those weapons which must be "flown" to the target also requires target exposure time for the gunner to acquire, track, and kill the target.
Once the commander has identified possible weapons positions, he will designate those positions as primary, alternate, and supplementary. Also, he will tentatively identify hide-and-defilade positions. In selecting these positions he should take the following points into consideration:
- Weapon systems should be dispersed generally at a distance of approximately 100 to 150 meters apart (METT-T dependent).
- They should be selected based on their ability to engage the threat located in the corresponding EA, from the flank.
- Mutual support and interlocking fires with other weapon systems in each EA should be achieved, with platoons positioned in depth.
- Target acquisition and tracking must be possible from the position.
- Routes from primary to alternate and supplementary positions must be available/possible.
The commander identifies specific weapons locations for each EA. He establishes direct fire control measures to describe the orientation of the weapons as they relate to the EA. The far side of the EA should not extend beyond 2,000 meters from the furthest forward tank or IFV. The near side of the EA should not be closer than 800 meters from the weapons positions. These planning distances allow maximum threat destruction and avoid decisive engagement. METT-T considerations allow the commander to modify these limitations. He now combines weapon systems to form platoon locations. At this point, it becomes quite clear how to best organize the defense, whether to fight it from BPs, sectors, or both. There will be some positions which do not lend themselves to a platoon BP. These positions may prove useful as OPs or sniper positions. The commander completes the tentative plan by selecting locations for himself, the XO, the company combat trains, and adding the detail for control of direct fires.
As the commander prepares his tentative plan, he must choose his course of action for the defense. He must begin by choosing from which BPs/sectors to defend and the number of phases required to execute his plan. Usually a defense oriented on an EA constitutes one phase of the operation. An operation involving a sector defense using three company EAs in succession will be fought in three phases (see Figures 4-91 through 4-93). The commander determines how to engage the threat in each EA. His goal is to maximize interlocking supporting fires in depth. This is accomplished by designating: TRPs for orientation; a maximum engagement line so that forces do not attempt to shoot at targets out of range; a trigger line to initiate shooting; and a break line to avoid decisive engagement.
As part of the defensive planning, the commander should consider the use of a counterattack (see Figure 4-94). Unlike the battalion which has four maneuver elements, the company has only three. Therefore, the counterattack force is usually one of the platoons.
Counterattack by Fire
A counterattack by fire is executed to destroy exposed threat elements and free decisively engaged elements. When not supported by other battalion task force elements, the company team executes a counterattack by fire with one element moving on a concealed route to firing positions from which it can engage the threat in the flank and/or rear, while another element (the base-of-fire element) continues to engage. If this maneuver influences another unit's mission, the company team commander is responsible for coordination with that unit.
The maneuver element must move rapidly to its firing position to complete the counterattack before threat follow-on forces can be brought forward. Security is provided internally within the platoons using sectors of observation, assisted by the base-of-fire/overwatch element, OPs, and available battalion task force information-gathering sources. Smoke may be used to deceive the threat.
Deception is achieved by placing smoke on the maneuver element's previous positions to simulate disengagement, on the flank opposite the counterattack to deceive the threat as to location of the counterattack, or along the counterattack route.
Once the counterattack by fire is complete, the company team continues the defense against follow-on forces from the team's initial or current positions. The base of fire element may move forward to assist the maneuver element, or the maneuver element may rejoin the base of fire element on the BP from which the counterattack was launched.
The commander remains with the support by fire element to synchronize direct and indirect fires with arrival of the counterattack. The XO maneuvers with the counterattack force, assisting the platoon or section leader as necessary and providing reports to the company team commander as the counterattack occurs.
Counterattack by Fire and Movement
A company conducts a counterattack by fire and movement to destroy the threat, to relieve pressure on a friendly unit, or to regain key terrain (see Figure 4-95). The counterattack force attacks the threat from the flank and uses fire and movement to destroy the threat. The company team conducts the counterattack by fire and movement in a manner similar to a hasty attack.
The company team commander must designate the route/axis, give the formation and movement technique to be used, and give each platoon its mission, to include positions and orientation, control measures (including TIRs, checkpoints, and TRPs), and clear instructions (see Figure 4-96).
NOTE: This plan will serve as the model for subsequent discussion.
The commander with his FSO will prepare the FS plan concurrently with the maneuver and obstacle plans (see Figure 4-97). They begin with the battalion FS plan and identify all battalion targets within their section, as well as any priority targets issued by the battalion commander. The battalion FS plan will serve as the point of departure for the development of the company FS plan. Next, the commander will target the threat AAs.
The primary threat AA is the most important with respect to the FS plan. The commander identifies obstacles along the avenue. Artillery targets are planned on those areas where the threat is likely to become congested. Areas within the EAs where the threat can seek cover are also targeted.
FPFs are planned for BPs, which stand to be overrun should the threat penetrate. The BPs are targeted, so if the threat occupies the BP, artillery may be fired with effect.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The commander identifies a site for each obstacle within the sector, so that it is covered by observation, and direct and indirect fire. It is important to remember that the battalion obstacle plan will determine the purpose and physical characteristics of the obstacles. To ensure proper obstacle emplacement, the engineer, together with the platoon leader, will ensure that the obstacle is positioned to where it can best take advantage of terrain while maximizing the effect of direct fire. A good example of this is to site the obstacle on the reverse slope of an AA. The threat will not discover the obstacle until he is exposed to the overmatching direct fire. Breaching the obstacle becomes difficult as engineer equipment must also become exposed to the direct fire. Indirect fire will be called against the threat on the other side of the slope. Figure 4-98 depicts this concept.
Before actually emplacing the minefields or other countermobility obstacles, the engineers should physically stake the outline. The maneuver commander and the engineer commander can assess the complete obstacle layout. It is important that the obstacles are covered by direct fire and sited as a complete system intended to shape the threat's movement. Once the obstacles are planned by the battalion, the company commander ensures that obstacles are placed to deny use of dead space within the EA.
The air defense plan for the sector defense will be based on the likely threat air AAs, which may or may not correspond to the ground maneuver plan. The Stinger teams are positioned close enough to the ground fight to protect the maneuver elements, yet distant enough from the fight to execute their mission unencumbered. Company combat trains locations may be reconciled with the ADA defense plan, thus allowing both elements to operate effectively.
Combat Service Support
It is essential that the lSG know the exact location of each BP. If possible, prestocks of ammunition and other expendable supplies may by positioned on the subsequent platoon BPs. Routes from each BP to the company supply route should be reconnoitered to ensure trafficability. The ambulance drivers must have the operational/support graphics. Each combat vehicle must know the location of the company combat trains. The company combat trains should be approximately one terrain feature behind the maneuver elements. In open terrain where this rule may not apply, about 3,000 meters is appropriate standoff from potential threat direct-fire weapons. Remember that the recovery and evacuation assets must be able to respond as quickly as possible to the maneuver platoons.
Command and Control
The sector defense poses a special set of challenges to the company commander, particularly if he selects a defense of three platoons in sector. Should one platoon withdraw to its subsequent positions prematurely, a gap will be created. The same holds true for the company in relation to its flank. To control this movement, PLs should delineate each phase of the operation. Units report crossing each PL as they move to their next positions. Routes from position to position must be planned and coordinated with the obstacle plan so that the commander will know how long it will take a platoon to move.
The commander's fire control must dovetail with the battalion commander's intent. The point to remember about fire planning at the company level is that the company commander will plan his platoon positions to maximize their effectiveness within the parameters established by the battalion commander. The company commander ensures his platoons fire at the designated trigger line, but their positioning will maximize the destructive effect by achieving fires in depth, and repositioning to take advantage of exploitable threat weaknesses.
The company commander must plan to be located where he can see the battlefield. His location must allow him to assess the situation and seize every opportunity to achieve "offensive" actions in the sector defense. Without clearly visualizing the battle, he will be unable to enter the threat's decision cycle to optimize destruction.
The company commander verifies his IPB by driving or walking the AAs likely to be taken by the threat. He should put himself in the place of the threat commander and approach the defensive sector looking for places likely to be occupied by a defender. He will check the width of corridors, look to see where it is advantageous to change formation, identify terrain which seems to be dead space from likely defended areas and which terrain is likely to be considered important to the attack. Conversely, obvious aspects of the defense should be altered as appropriate. Camouflage, deception elements (such as dummy positions or minefields), and physical markers for direct and indirect fire control (stakes, versus 17 panels) should all serve their function without being obvious to the threat.
The commander must personally verify the positioning of every major weapon and its line of sight. One method is by viewing the EA through every sight and pointing out the TRPs to the gunner. An alternate method is placing a target in the EA and asking each gunner if he can identify it. After completing this task, the commander drives the threat's route for the direct fire rehearsal. Each weapon system should track the "target" as it negotiates the EA. An important aspect of the sector defense which must be rehearsed is the occupation of subsequent BPs, should the entire sector be used for the defense. Therefore, engagement and disengagement criteria must be fully understood by all elements within the company. The plan to cover the move by shifting orientation, one platoon covering the other, or platoons providing their own internal cover must be rehearsed. The order of march from the position, and the routes taken to the next position are further aspects of the rehearsal. While the commander observes these activities from the perspective of the threat, the XO can observe the maneuver from the defender's point of view.
During the rehearsal, the times to conduct each move will be recorded by the XO and then given to the commander. Should the threat arrive in the subsequent EA before the defenders are prepared, the commander may alter the disengagement criteria to allow for the discrepancy. This information will be important to the commander during the execution of the operation.
The counterattack may be initiated on order, or it may be event driven depending on the commander's concept. Even an on-order counterattack should have an event initiator, however as a fail-safe measure. The commander should check that the counterattack is not observable to the threat and that the "fire position" is unexpected and from a vulnerable flank. As with all movement, it should be timed and the event initiator checked against the arrival in position versus the location of the threat within the EA. The objective is to catch the bulk of the threat in an exposed position and deny him an avenue of escape.
The FS plan will be rehearsed simultaneously with the maneuver plan. The company FSO practices calling for fires which are synchronized with the direct-fire plan. The time of flight versus the speed of the threat must be established and areas should be marked so that as the threat passes the mark, fires will be initiated. The matrix in Figure 4-99 will assist the FSO in solving the problem.
Calling for FPFs by the platoons should be practiced as well as fire on previously evacuated positions. Target groups in EAs should be rehearsed with direct-fire engagement as well as fires to enhance the effectiveness of obstacles. The FSO should report to the commander when artillery is landing as he drives the threat's course through the sector. This will help the commander to visualize the situation presented to the threat.
As the counterattack is initiated, the FSO must ensure that the RFL is in place and that fires in support of the counterattack are fired (such as smoke).
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The commander will examine the location and effect of the obstacles as he maneuvers through the sector. In particular, he should look to see that there is no noticeable difference between dummy minefield and the actual minefield. The positioning of major belts should make breaching difficult and maximize the exposure time within the EAs. Turning obstacles should be subtle enough that they do not appear to pose an immediate threat until the threat is unable to extract himself from the EA and he finds his flanks exposed to BPs.
Fighting positions, whether occupied or prepared, should not be visible from the threat's perspective. Dummy positions, on the other hand, should appear realistic-not obvious. A technique to draw the threat's attention toward the dummy position is to place "Hoffman" charges on the position and fire them remotely, and erect a multispectral close combat decoy in the position. The signature combined with the dummy position should make the position seem quite real.
The air defense plan should be exercised along with the rehearsal. If, for example, the Stinger team is placed under armor with the 1SG in the maintenance Ml13, a radio must be on the ADA warning net. At each position, the Stinger teams should practice moving to their prepared positions and observe the threat air AAs.
Combat Service Support
A rehearsal of the CSS plan encompasses driving all the routes to each BP, with recovery and evacuation assets, This way the drivers will know every road in the sector and should not get lost during execution. Prestocks should be checked to make sure they are properly camouflaged and secured yet accessible. The company combat trains positions should be checked to ensure they are not visible from the air.
Command and Control
As the commander drives along the threat AA, he should be mindful of the synchronization of his fires. Specifically, if each leader radios when he engages, to include the FSO, the commander will have a good idea as to the degree of direct and indirect fire integration.
The commander should ensure the counterattack force is able to accomplish its role. It is also his means of gaining the initiative. Therefore, it is extremely important that the counterattack be absolutely prepared for its mission. The signal to initiate the counterattack must be redundant; barring that, there should be an event initiator to commence the counterattack. For example, once an threat platoon is able to cross PL BLUE-counterattack. That way should the commander be unable to issue the order, the action will still occur with effect.
The commander begins the sector defense battle by monitoring the command net. He will be listening to the spot-reports of the scout platoon and other intelligence gathering elements as they provide information concerning enemy strength, disposition, and possible intentions. These reports may be summarized and issued to the platoons as updates, so that they may watch a particular area more closely, or perhaps get a feel for the arrival time of the enemy force.
Once the scout platoon withdraws from the screen mission, OPs established by the commander may be used to bridge the information gap regarding enemy actions. It is important that the positioning of these OPs are linked in with the last locations of the scouts. That way the defender will not lose contact with the enemy.
The OPs will be able to direct indirect fires on to the advancing enemy forces, hopefully deceiving them as to our true defensive location. Once this begins and perhaps even earlier, we can expect heavy enemy artillery suppression on all areas suspected of containing defending forces. As this occurs, it is even more important that OPs not under suppression report the enemy's actions to the company commander.
The commander will monitor the reports of the scout platoon and his forward positioned OPs. At the opportune moment, he will signal his platoons to move from their hide positions to their primary BPs. The movement should be made prior to the arrival of the enemy to the line of sight observation range. Undue movement may prevent the platoon from adding the weight of his fires to the engagement. Once each platoon is in position, the weapon system commanders will observe their designated sectors of fire.
The enemy's indirect fire preparation should begin to land with effect on all locations deemed suitable for defense. For this reason, the actual fighting positions should be inconspicuous, both visually and in location. The platoons must be prepared to engage during the enemy's suppression, otherwise the enemy could draw close to decisive engagement without having taken significant losses. The trigger line and engagement criteria should be executed as per the direct-fire plan. The enemy should be hit hard with a sustained rate of fire, which may preclude moving back and forth from primary to alternate positions unless taken under effective direct fire. It is important to destroy as many targets as possible. Elements which may observe an exploitable enemy weakness should seize the initiative and move to a position of advantage.
This may or may not be to a prepared fighting position. The commander should be cautioned that the movement of any platoon in the middle of any engagement will remove the weight of that platoon's fires. Regardless, the commander should be informed of the move and the platoons must have the flexibility to respond to the rapidly changing situation presented before them.
Should the enemy press the attack or should the first echelon be soundly defeated, the commander may give the signal to move to the next set of BPs. For the platoon on the left flank that was given a sector to defend initially, it is now his responsibility to join the other platoons in the main company EA. As each platoon withdraws, its move is covered by the other, or in the case of the platoon in sector, it will be done internally.
At this point should the time allow, the platoons may resupply with ammunition prestocked on the subsequent positions. A reserve consisting of the XO and a tank section will move to a position out of contact. In this scenario the reserve has two designated missions: reinforce the main defense, or move to a counterattack by fire position to the enemy's rear. The reason the reserve should be out of contact is that if it becomes involved in the main defensive battle, it may not be able to properly extract itself in time to make the counterattack effective or that it may sustain losses before it is called on to execute.
As the enemy approaches the next set of BPs, the OPs will continue to adjust fire on the advancing formation. The obstacle system should break the formation and turn it toward the blocking obstacle. This effect should piecemeal the enemy, while offering flank shots to the left and right platoons. The commander will closely monitor this stage of the battle as this is his last position for the the sector defense. Therefore, the commitment of the reserve must be weighed carefully. Should the enemy appear to make headway but not severely threaten the company defensive positions, the commander will commit the reserve to counterattack by fire. The reserve will then move into position and engage the enemy from the flank or rear. If separation between echelons is significant and the enemy destruction great, the reserve may even move to sweep the EA, destroying the remnants of the enemy force as required. On the other hand, should the enemy attack be especially strong, the reserve may be called on to reinforce the defensive positions to block enemy penetration of the sector.
The FS plan will be initiated the moment the scout screen is withdrawn and OPs are able to observe the enemy entering the company sector. Harassing fires should affect the C2 of the enemy plus limit their visibility of the sector. As the enemy draws near to the obstacle belt, fires will be shot to reinforce the obstacles and prevent breaching. If a COLT is attached to the company, it may be used to destroy enemy breaching equipment. Artillery groups are fired on the congested enemy masses on the far side of the obstacle belt as it attempts to find a bypass. Should the enemy succeed in continuing the attack and the commander issues the order to withdraw to the next set of BPs, an FPF will be shot in front of the BPs to assist the withdrawal. If the enemy is able to press the attack, fires may also be called on the recently evacuated BPs as the enemy arrives on the location.
As the force withdraws, artillery will be called on the enemy force in an effort to slow, attrit and confuse the enemy as to our intentions. Once in position on the subsequent positions, the fire plan will be executed in a similar manner as in the first phase of the battle. However, when the commander issues the order to launch the counterattack, an RFL will be emplaced to protect the force from fratricide. Additionally, smoke may be called to mask the occupation of the counterattack by fire position from enemy observation. At this point in the battle, the artillery must be at its most lethal-the complete destruction of the enemy is necessary for success. Therefore, fires must be maximized until the enemy has lost its ability to continue the fight.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The execution of the obstacle plan is dependent on its proper installation and integration with both direct and indirect fires. As mentioned earlier, indirect fires will reinforce the effectiveness of the obstacle system, but direct fires initially destroy the enemy's ability to breach. then shift to destroy the bulk of the force.
Should the enemy create a breach in the obstacle system, it may be closed by FASCAM however, this takes time and ties up many artillery tubes in the process. If the artillery is available, then the FASCAM mission must clearly be planned in advance, to include the breaking down of ammunition, The point to remember is that FASCAM is not a munition which can be administered with the timeliness of HE.
During the actual execution of the sector defense, there is little the engineers can do in terms of survivability forward in the sector. However, blades may be used to continue to improve fighting positions in depth and to a limited extent conduct some countermobility operations. Similarly, if the resources are available, minefield may be emplaced in depth as can dummy minefield and booby traps along dismounted AAs. The primary concern is that the engineers do not become overrun by the battle; therefore, it is extremely important that their supervisor monitor the actions of the defending company team.
Should the situation warrant, the engineers may also be given fighting positions along enemy dismounted AAs to further reinforce the final set of BPs. As with any fighting position, this must be planned in advance and included in the rehearsal for the sector defense execution.
The Stinger teams will execute their air defense mission from their locations under armor. Warnings of the impending enemy air attack issued on the ADA warning net will be relayed over the company command net. In an effort to keep the carrier as uncrowded as possible, extra missiles may be prestocked in prepared subsequent Stinger firing positions.
Combat Service Support
The 1SG will monitor the battle and keep abreast of the company team's combat power. As required recovery and evacuation assets will move forward in support of elements damaged by fire or requiring other mechanical assistance. Those vehicles which cannot be dragged from their initial positions may be destroyed so as not to fall into enemy hands. Others will be moved to the future combat trains location in anticipation of phase two of the operation. Ambulances should run alternately, ensuring that a vehicle remains with the company team at all times. Some evacuation may be done by combat vehicles; however, this should be limited, as it will take a weapon systems out of the fight. Under conditions of heavy combat where a force is required to fire a large number of rounds and emergency resupply is required, the 1SG will contact the combat trains CP and bring the emergency LOGPAC forward to the company. From a location close to the BPs, service station resupply by individual vehicles will take place.
Command and Control
The company team commander must be aware at all times of the position of each of his elements. This is especially true of sectors which require all three platoons to fight in sector. However, in this example, the commander has a special control situation. In phase 1, he must monitor the location of the platoon in sector, while also fighting the battle with the remaining platoons. In an effort to manage these concurrent operations, the XO should be assigned the mission to overwatch the platoon in sector. The XO should assist in assessing the situation and relay the information to the company commander. In the meantime, the platoon leader is free to conduct his defense in sector. Simultaneously, the commander will observe the battle being fought by his remaining two platoons. It is important that all platoons stay reasonably abreast so as to avoid creating an assailable flank. Within the main EA, the commander will ensure that the direct and indirect fires are synchronized and that units position to take advantage of noted enemy weaknesses. As appropriate, the commander will issue the order to move to subsequent BPs. In this case he must ensure that the platoon in sector acknowledges and is able to comply. It is important that all forces make a clean break with the enemy therefore, indirect fires may be called (HE and Smoke) to separate the forces both physically and visually.
Once on the subsequent positions, the commander should ensure that all elements are tied in at the flanks and that the reserve is in position and prepared to execute. Some attrition may have occurred from the first defensive phase therefore, the commander must be prepared to shift forces as need be. As the enemy approaches, he will again attempt to optimize the combat power at his disposal. The most critical aspect of his defense at this point, however, is the commitment of the reserve. Knowing the time it will take the reserve to arrive in position, the commander must anticipate the enemy's movements and rate of success. Once the enemy inches the company commander's decision point, he may choose to commit the reserve. The commander should give instructions to the platoons in BPs to increase the rate of fire so that the enemy will be fixed on the BPs. Likewise, artillery suppression should be especially heavy. With the enemy's attention drawn to the defensive line and receiving enough artillery to degrade his C2, the counterattack should strike. Direct fire should be rapid and sustained attempting to inflict the maximum number of casualties in the least amount of time. Once the enemy's destruction is complete, the commander may choose to recall the reserve to its hide position or have it sweep the EA to complete the enemy destruction. These choices will be based on the arrival of the next enemy echelon.
The company team defends a BP to concentrate its fires limit its maneuver, or place it in an advantageous position to counterattack. Forces may be positioned on the best terrain in and around the BP; however, any element location outside the position must be coordinated with higher headquarters.
The company is given its BP by the battalion commander, who determines that a particular piece of terrain was important to the success of the battalion defense. Once the commander receives his mission to defend from a specific location, he immediately conducts a time analysis to determine the amount of time available to conduct a map reconnaissance, mute and BP reconnaissance, and occupy/prepare the position for the fight.
The commander determines the composition of the quartering and reconnaissance parties and the security force required to safeguard their activities. The reconnaissance party consists of the company commander, XO, the FSO, the platoon leaders, and any other attached element's leaders. The quartering party is made up of representatives from each platoon, the NBC NCO, and the 1SG. They will carry position-marking and radiological- survey equipment.
Before departure to the BP, the commander conducts a map reconnaissance. He will analyze the terrain, identifying enemy mounted and dismounted AAs. If possible, the commander should get a copy of the battalion S2's terrain analysis and decision support template. These tools will make the process easier. Once the commander has identified enemy areas of vulnerability and selected possible vantage points of these areas, he develops a reconnaissance plan (see Figure 4-100).
The reconnaissance plan will assign each leader an area to reconnoiter and the amount of time he should spend Time is at a premium, so the company leadership should cover as much area as possible in the given amount of time. As each leader reconnoiters his assigned position, he must answer a series of questions given by the commander and make notes about each position. Information sought for in a leader's reconnaissance includes: the number of fighting positions an area will hold, trafficability to the positions, quality of line of sight visibility, areas of dead space, existing or natural obstacles, possible hide positions, possible OP locations, and ability to tie in at the flanks.
Once the leaders reconnoiter their areas they meet with the commander at a vantage point which allows observation of the BP area. Each leader briefs the commander about his area. The commander will compile this information, augmenting his tentative plan.
The commander conducts his own reconnaissance, examining the position in its entirety. He will identify the limits of the BP as described by the operational graphics and determine any areas in which he would like to position forces outside of the position. Next, he will confirm the enemy mounted and dismounted AAs to the BP and determine the location of his EA.
As with the defense in sector, once the commander has identified where he would like to kill the enemy, he will tentatively plan the locations of his weapon systems. When the platoon leaders return from their reconnaissance, the commander will verify the tentative locations based on the input from his subordinates, and then combine weapon systems locations into platoon BPs. At this point platoon sectors of fire are established.
In turn, the platoon leaders will actually site each weapon systems using the following criteria as a guide:
- Cover and concealment.
- Ability to achieve flank shots.
- Allows for primary and alternate fighting positions.
- Mutually supporting, interlocking fires.
The platoon leaders will have the quartering party mark each position and note required engineer preparation. The quartering party will also mark the routes into the BP and may begin laying wire to save time during occupation. The platoon leaders will prepare sector sketches of their sector and bring them to the final debrief by the company commander. With all of the weapons sited and the sector sketches combined into a basic company direct-fire plan, the commander adds the final detail to the plan. He will determine how the enemy will be engaged using the following direct-fire control measures:
- Maximum engagement lines.
- Trigger lines.
- TRPs describing sectors of fire.
- Engagement priorities.
- Break points.
NOTE: A complete discussion of direct-fire planning is found in the company sector defense section.
The development of the obstacle and FS plan would be developed concurrently with the direct-fire plan. Together these products would complete the company team BP defensive plan (see Figure 4-101). For clarity however, each plan is addressed separately.
The commander will complete the plan by incorporating deception measures-dummy positions and false obstacles. A security and surveillance plan will ensure that the position is not compromised during development and will provide early warning in preparation for the battle. Therefore, LP/OP locations should cover the enemy AAs into the defensive position area. If infantry are attached to the company, patrols and ambushes should be planned forward of the position. Likewise, antiarmor ambushes may be equally effective along mounted AAs expected to be used by enemy reconnaissance. The point to remember is that all these other operations must be weighed against the preparation of the BP. The fewer resources available, the longer it will take to prepare the position. Conversely, if security is sacrificed, the entire BP defense could be compromised by enemy reconnaissance elements.
The FS plan will be prepared concurrently with the maneuver plan. As with the defense in sector, the FS plan must be able to engage the enemy as he enters the AO. The battalion FS plan will serve as the basis of the company plan; however, BP specific targets will probably need to be included in the plan. Generally when the battalion commander assigns a BP it is part of the battalion EA, where direct and indirect fires destroy enemy forces impaled on an obstacle system. As a result, many of the indirect fires will be appropriate to the company BP defense.
In addition to the battalion fires, the company FSO must ensure that all enemy AAs to the BP are targeted for indirect fire. FPFs for designated platoons, OP locations, and specific terrain which dominates the BP should be targeted as well. The point to remember with company FS planning is to check to see how well the battalion plan fits the needs of the company, then determine what additional fires are needed. Figure 4-102 illustrates how a company fire plan was superimposed on the battalion fire plan.
Mobility, Survivability, and Countermobility
As with the FS plan, the obstacle plan will be developed concurrently with the direct-fire plan (see Figure 4-103). The company commander has the responsibility of actually siting the obstacles; therefore, he wilt ensure that his weapon systems and FS plan maximize the obstacle effect. Because the BP is essentially a static defense, the obstacle system is crucial in forcing the enemy force into a posture of vulnerability, while also protecting the BP from enemy assault. The company commander must meet with the engineers and agree on the obstacle placement, ensuring that it is covered by fire and that it is commensurate with the defensive plan. Close-in protective obstacles, which are not necessarily part of the battalion barrier plan may be added to the defense if the assets are available.
In addition to the countermobility role of the engineers, the commander will also issue level of preparation guidance for the fighting positions-occupy, prepare, and reconnoiter. Together with the engineer, the commander will determine which positions should be prepared first and the order for subsequent position construction. From this coordination the engineer will develop his work plan. Ultimately, when addressing blade time, the commander must decide how to portion his assets between survivability and countermobility operations.
Minelaying assets wilt be initially used as per the battalion obstacle plan; however, once that is complete there are other areas which may require land mines. Dead space within EAs, or terrain which allows the enemy the ability to overwatch maneuver should be denied to him through mining. Accordingly, dummy minefield should be emplaced to confuse the enemy as to the actual degree of fortification. The intent is to force the enemy to breach all minefield out of a belief that they are all genuine. Dummy minefield, just like actual ones, should be covered by direct and indirect fire.
The company air defense plan relies on the ability of the Stinger teams to detect and engage threat aircraft, SAFAD will not be effective during direct-fire engagement. If the company defensive plan involves fighting from subsequent BPs in depth, the Stinger teams may remain under armor and dismount only to engage hostile aircraft.
Combat Service Support
Prestocks of critical supplies are essential to sustaining the fight, and are limited to 10 percent of the basic load and placed to the rear of the fighting position where vehicles can resupply out of the line of fire. They should be guarded if possible to avoid enemy sabotage, and placed in a suitable fortified position so that they will survive the enemy's artillery preparation of the position. Demolitions should be included with the prestock so that they may be destroyed. Class IV repair supplies should be prestocked close to obstacles. Medical supplies can also be prestocked, but no medical supplies will be destroyed because destruction of medical supplies is a violation of the Geneva Convention.
Command and Control
The commander plans for the BP defense by dividing his time between the fire plan and the survivability of the BP. He will ensure that he has a good plan for synchronizing his fires as the enemy enters the EA. Through the use of engagement criteria, bigger lines and event-initiated indirect fires, the commander will be able to bring fires to bear where they will be most effective.
To control the battle, the commander must plan his position so that it is not conspicuous yet allows him to observe the majority of the EA. The XO may be positioned to observe the remainder of the EA; however, both positions must be prepared as fighting positions should their fires be required. All vehicles should be wired into a company hot loop, which if time allows, should be buried. This should be the primary means of communication until it is destroyed.
After the commander has completed his plan, he will issue the OPORD to his platoon leaders, XO, 1SG, and slice representatives. If possible, this will be done from a vantage point overmatching the BP and EA. Each leader should then backbrief the commander regarding his mission and his relationship to the other elements of the company team.
The commander will confirm his IPB during the maneuver and fires rehearsal. Specifically, he should drive the route which will be most likely used by the attacking enemy. As he does so, he should put himself in the shoes of the enemy commander. He should try to identify obvious defensive positions and search for positions or weapons which are not properly camouflaged. Also, the commander should verify where the enemy would change formation and how they would drive the terrain to keep out of direct fire. He should see if the obstacle and indirect-fire plans force the enemy into the open and that the direct fire plan will in fact exploit enemy vulnerability. Based on any new information from this technique, the commander will modify his decision support template accordingly.
At a designated time, the company team will move forward using an appropriate movement technique to occupy positions. Platoon guides meet their respective platoons at a prearranged linkup point, moving them into hide positions without stopping.
As time permits, each platoon leader dismounts his tank/IFV commanders and security element. The security element is positioned by each platoon leader where it can protect the platoon orders/reconnaissance group. The platoon leaders issue the OPORDs, pointing out individual weapons positions, sectors of fire, TRPs, EAs, FPLs, FPFs, and routes. They should point out key terrain and other landmarks that are certain to be in an enemy artillery preparation. Multiple alternate and supplemental positions should also be identified
After the platoon leaders issue their orders, the platoons begin their priority of work as per company/platoon SOP. A recommended sequence of action is--
- Establish security. OPs directed by the company commander are occupied. Other platoon OPs and chemical alarms are positioned and/or shifted, based on the platoon leader's instructions. Chemical monitoring is done continuously, with chemical alarms placed downwind. OPs assume air guard responsibilities.
- Occupy positions. Tanks and BFVs occupy primary positions from the rear. Dismounted infantry moves into primary fighting positions, emplacing Dragons, M60/SAWs, and other small arms weapons. Prepare-to-fire checks should also be completed.
- Prepare positions.
- Weapons crews confirm fields of fire to TRPs and EAs and record sketch/range card data for each fighting position.
- Fields of fire cleared aiming stakes emplaced.
- Fighting positions camouflaged.
- Infantry fighting positions dug in, with overhead cover, time permitting.
- Tank/IFV fighting positions prepared, engineer resources permitting.
- Hasty obstacles emplaced.
- Alternate/supplementary positions prepared as above.
- Establish communications. Wire and radio communications to individual vehicles/squad, OPs, and the company CP are established and confirmed.
- Confirm fields of fire. Platoon leaders and TCs/squad leaders view friendly positions from an enemy vantage point and the flanks.
- Continue battlefield preparation. Subsequent positions are prepared.
- Obstacles in depth constructed.
- Obstacle guards and firing parties positioned.
- Infantry fighting positions improved (bunkers and communications trenches are constructed).
- Coordination. Coordinate with adjacent, supporting, collocated and higher units. The company commander, XO, and platoon leaders coordinate positions and fires with adjacent units, repositioning forces and revising graphic control measures as needed. Contact points are manned as required.
- Conduct personnel and equipment sustainment. The company should perform maintenance, refuel, rearm, eat and sleep as time permits.
Once the platoons have prepared their positions and themselves for the BP defense, they will conduct a rehearsal under the direction of the company commander and assisted by their platoon leaders.
As the commander begins to drive down the enemy avenue of approach, the company elements will be positioned in their hide positions. OPs should report the "enemy" movement, and the XO will give the signal to occupy turret-down positions. Once the commander reaches the designated point forward of the trigger line, the tanks will move into their hull-down positions. They will report to the commander when they begin to engage so that he can confirm the effectiveness of the direct-fire control measure. The path of the target vehicle will confirm to the gunner probable target present time and better identify dead space or low terrain.
If the maneuver plan includes moving to a subsequent BP, the break criteria will be rehearsed as the commander approaches the breakpoint. Vehicles will practice exiting the BP and moving along their designated routes to the next position. Overwatch, whether by platoon or internally will also be rehearsed. Once in position, the platoons will report that they are set so that the commander can be sure that the enemy will not be able to close with the company during the attack.
The FS plan will be incorporate into the maneuver/direct fire rehearsal. As the commander role plays the enemy, the FSO will practice calling and adjusting indirect fires. Specifically, he will check the timing of his indirect fires to make sure that his event initiators are appropriate to the position of the enemy force at the time of the artillery landing. If not, adjustments will be made to better synchronize the indirect fires with the direct-fire plan.
The FSO should also report when he is calling for fires which augment the obstacle system or cover dead space in the EA. This is especially important to the commander in his determination of the effectiveness of the plan and identifying the probable enemy actions as a result of the suppression, direct fire, and obstacles.
Platoons should also practice calling for fire, particularly along flank avenues of approach. As the commander nears their positions, the platoon leaders should also call for the FPF to keep the forces separate and/or to allow the platoons to withdraw to subsequent positions out of contact. Once they are off the BPs, they should request indirect fire on the position to destroy any enemy which may have been able to press the attack.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The commander will confirm the effectiveness of the obstacle system as he maneuvers along the avenue of approach. He will examine the placement of the obstacles to determine how well they achieve surprise. As mentioned earlier, he will also evaluate the integration of the obstacle system with the direct fire and FS plans.
Dummy minefield will be examined for their realism and placement. The commander must feel confident that they appear legitimate. He will also determine the effectiveness of minefield or other obstacles used to prevent the enemy from occupying dead space. Those areas which are found to be lacking will be noted and reinforced following the conduct of the rehearsal.
The air defense plan will be rehearsed by the Stinger teams issuing air attack warnings over the company command net. Each element should practice adopting the proper air defense posture and orienting in the appropriate direction. The Stinger teams will confirm the enemy air avenues of approach into the BP area, and make communications checks with the ADA early warning net.
Combat Service Support
The 1SG will prepare for the operation by briefing the PSG, medics, and mechanics concerning the following information:
- The location of company trains, the battalion aid station, and the UMCP.
- The location for conducting CSS operations at each BP.
- Routes to the BPs, the company collection point, and the location of the company combat trains.
- The signals which will be used to request evacuation, either mechanical or medical.
- Combat lifesaver actions and specific guidance for the operation.
- Instructions for vehicle recovery preparation and execution.
- Unit NBC decontamination sites.
During the maneuver rehearsal, the medics and mechanics will confirm the location and route from each platoon location to the company collection point. They will also confirm the routes to the aid station and the UMCP. Prestocks of ammunition and supplies will be checked to ensure they are properly prepared, camouflaged, and equipped for demolition if necessary.
Command and Control
The commander will pay particular attention to the way the operation was executed during the rehearsal. His primary concern will most likely be the effectiveness of his fire control measures. If he does identify a problem, the changes he makes should be as minimal as possible to prevent undue confusion. The commander will also watch the conduct of the operation in terms of vehicle exposure. The old adage of "what can be seen, can be hit" is especially true for the BP defense because once the enemy has an idea of the defender's location, he will direct his attention and fires to that area.
As a guide, the commander should consider Figure 4-104 which depicts the actions of the Soviet-style aggressor vis-a-vis our defense. Note in this figure where on the battlefield the commander is forced to make a decision. The defending commander must take advantage of the DP, applying enough combat power to paralyze the attacker's C2. Once this occurs, the defenders will have entered the decision cycle and may take offensive advantage.
The company team commences engagement of the enemy in accordance with the battalion task force plan. It should use indirect-fire support to defeat the enemy reconnaissance elements before they can detect company team positions. When reconnaissance elements are deployed forward of the company team, the company team will initially use direct and indirect fires to support the movement of these elements back through the passage lanes. Once the screen has been withdrawn, OPs will continue to report the progress of the advancing enemy forces, continuing to adjust artillery on their formation. Spot reports must be complete and accurate so that the commander can develop a clear picture.
Direct fires will be initiated once the enemy force meets the engagement criteria. Each weapon system will orient on its respective target (tanks kilt tanks, IFVs kill BMPs). The commander will ensure that his weapon systems engage available targets.
If the defense goes according to plan, the enemy formations will be broken and diverted from their intended course by the obstacle system. As this occurs weapon systems will reposition to take advantage of exposed flanks and rear shots. The volume of direct fire must remain constant. Individual tanks should fire as rapidly as possible in an effort to inflict the greatest damage in the shortest time. They should not reposition unless they have been taken under effective enemy fire. Once again, the positioning and camouflage of each fighting position will demonstrate its rest value.
As the enemy closes to 1,500 meters of the company team position, he will normally do one of two things:
- Assault the company team position, normally with tanks leading, followed by motorized infantry either mounted or dismounted.
- Fix the company team with suppressive smoke, direct and indirect fire, and attempt to bypass the BP in prebattle formation.
Accordingly, the company team commander has three basic options of his own, which can be used to counter the enemy's actions. The action the company team commander selects is normally limited by the battalion commander's intent.
Options. The three options available to the company commander, consistent with the battalion commander's intent include--
- Disengage using internal overwatch to subsequent BPs. This disengagement may also be supported by one or more adjacent company teams.
- Counterattack by fire, moving laterally and forward to engage the enemy assault with concentrated short-range flanking fire. This action requires the maximum use of deception and mutual support. It should be rehearsed and be coordinated with the battalion headquarters.
- Continue to defend the BP using available weapon systems. As the enemy assault commences, tanks and IFVs continue to engage the enemy. Dragon fires are brought to bear from dismounted fighting positions. These AT fires are used to cause the enemy infantry to dismount forward of protective obstacles. Dismounted infantry is engaged by machine guns, rifles, and hand grenades. Indirect fire is used to disrupt the enemy assault. Artillery, mortar, FPFs, and automatic weapon/machine gun FPLs are fired as the enemy is caught on tactical wire. Enemy attempting to bypass the BP are engaged from supplemental positions; assaulting elements which have penetrated the position must be destroyed and lost fighting positions regained by local counterattack. Once the enemy assault has been broken and contact ceases, the company team will reorganize and consolidate its positions.
Defense of subsequent battle positions. The company team commander will execute his maneuver to subsequent BPs in accordance with the battalion plan. He may find it desirable or necessary to use platoons overmatching each other's movement to subsequent positions, to slow the enemy's rate of advance, to continue to maintain surveillance on the enemy, or to assist in disengagement. The company team commander considers the following factors in moving his company team to defend subsequent positions:
- When possible, the most engaged platoon should be disengaged last so that overmatching platoons can move to favorable positions to support its disengagement by fire.
- If the company team does not have another company team overmatching its movement, one or more platoons must overwatch the disengaging platoons.
- If the company team is supported by another company team in overwatch, the company team commander may also establish internal overwatch within the company team. The company team maneuvers in depth to subsequent positions, fighting the battle in accordance with the task force plan. It engages the enemy in the same manner as at the initial BP, using surprise, flanking fires, and mutual support in conjunction with indirect fires and obstacles to complete the enemy's destruction. Target engagement priorities and maneuver sequencing may change as the situation arises, requiring FRAGOs to be issued.
Disengaging the company team. A disengagement is breaking contact with the enemy and moving where the enemy can neither see nor engage the unit. The company team will disengage when directed by higher headquarters to move to a subsequent BP, or to accomplish another mission elsewhere (withdrawal, retrograde, or counterattack).
When disengaging, the company team coordinates its moves with units to its flanks and rear. Disengagement is difficult and must be rehearsed. The disengagement plan should be simple. The commander will choose one technique or a combination of techniques to accomplish disengagement:
- Disengage using internal ovenwatch (see Figure 4-105). Platoons disengage with least engaged platoons first to overwatch positions to support disengagement of platoons remaining in contact. Platoons in contact disengage and move until contact with the enemy is broken.
- Disengage by leaving one platoon or element in contact to cover the disengagement while the other platoons break contact. The designated detachment left in contact DLIC disengages next, using internal overwatch to cover its move back until contact is broken. This technique is not normally used when under heavy enemy pressure.
- Disengage by counterattacking with one or more elements. This will normally be a counterattack by fire. The counterattack will allow remaining friendly elements to disengage. The counterattack element will then disengage using internal overwatch.
The commander may plan to conduct the disengagement during limited visibility to cover the disengaging force. He should plan to use smoke delivered by artillery, mortar, or on-board smoke to cover the disengaging force's movement. He should maximize the use of obstacles.
During the disengagement, the company team commander places himself where he can best control his company team. He will normally locate with the majority of his force and may place the XO with the element. When more than one platoon executes such a mission, the company team commander places himself with that element.
As the enemy enters the BP area artillery will be adjusted by reconnaissance elements and the OPs. If COLT are available, they may be used to effectively take out enemy reconnaissance elements or serve as indirect-fire snipers, destroying C2 vehicles, or other high-priority targets.
Once the reconnaissance screen has been withdrawn, indirect fire will be shot to reinforce the obstacle system; shaping the enemy's formation and forcing them into a vulnerable posture. Artillery groups will be fired upon the congested enemy forces which are unable to breach the obstacle system and must wait to find a bypass. This stalled effect is one of the distinguishing characteristics of an effective obstacle system, and one which should be thoroughly exploited by the artillery.
If the enemy is able to press the attack through the obstacle system, the artillery must be prepared to fire rapidly in the final portion of the EA. If the maneuver plan includes withdrawing to a subsequent BP, and the enemy is able to advance to the point of meeting the break criteria, the company commander will call for a FPF. This, combined with the reoriented direct fires of the overmatching element, will allow the platoons to disengage from the enemy force. Artillery should also be called on the previously occupied defensive positions to complete the destruction of any enemy element which survived the close-in direct and indirect fires.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The ability of the obstacle system to accomplish its mission will be determined by the enemy's actions on its discovery. Once the obstacle has been identified, the commander will determine whether or not a breach is required. In the case of a turning obstacle, it will be effective if the commander decides to press on with the maneuver unaware that his force is being directed away from his desired path.
Should the enemy determine that a breach is required, it is at that point that indirect fires which cover the obstacle should be executed. Also, direct fire should seek to destroy obstacle breaching equipment. If an enemy penetration appears imminent, the commander may request FASCAM to seal the penetration. However, this technique must be planned and coordinated with the artillery battalion which will shoot the mission. In preparation for the mission, the ammunition must be broken down and prepared for delivery. The point to remember in this situation is that the commander wants the FASCAM minefield delivered as quickly as possible.
The Stinger teams will monitor the air defense warning net throughout the operation. When a warning for an enemy air attack is received, the Stinger team will relay that information to the company via the hot loop or company command net. As the enemy aircraft approaches, the Stinger teams will engage from their prepared firing positions.
Should the company team move to a subsequent BP, the Stinger team will mount its associated vehicle and move under armor protection. During the move, the Stinger teams should continue to monitor the ADA early warning net, as the company will be vulnerable while on the move to its next BP. Once in location, the Stinger teams will dismount and again occupy prepared fighting positions.
Combat Service Support
CSS execution will be driven by the needs or anticipated needs of the company team. Initially, the trains will be located to the rear or one terrain feature behind the BP, dug in to withstand the enemy's expected artillery preparation. As the direct-fire battle begins, vehicles which sustain damage will request evacuation or move to the platoon supply point to transfer wounded or assess the damage. Company team combat lifesavers will provide first aid treatment to the casualties. In turn, the company ambulance and/or M88 will move to join the element, whereupon the evacuation process will begin.
The 1SG will monitor the losses within the company and provide the commander with a status report as necessary. The commander must be informed each time his force drops to the next lower combat effectiveness level, as described by the battalion TSOP. This information will help him to determine his ability to sustain combat. Additionally, if the company appears to be expending ammunition at a rate which will deplete the prestock before the current battle is over, the 1SG will have to request emergency resupply from the battalion combat tins CP. However, this requisition must be anticipatory if the company is to receive the ammunition in time to sustain the fight.
Command and Control
Once the battle begins, C2 will be difficult to accomplish due to the indirect fire preparation of the position. Initially, communication may be possible via landline however, the longevity of the hot loop is dependent on the depth at which it was buried and the seventy of the preparation. As a result, the ability of the company to execute the defense will be dependent on the event-oriented instructions issued in the planning and preparation for the BP defense. The commander simply may not be able to issue timely or effective instructions once the battle begins (if under heavy bombardment).
The commander will attempt to ensure the synchronization of his direct and indirect-fire assets. He must be positioned where he can personally observe the activities of the enemy. Based on his assessment, he will adjust his plan. He will direct his force so that they respond to the most severe area of the enemy threat.
The company team is given a strongpoint mission when it must retain the position, until ordered to withdraw. Strongpoints sacrifice the mobility of the weapon system, demand extensive engineer materials and equipment, and usually take a long time to complete. A strongpoint mission is most likely given to a mechanized infantry heavy team or infantry company.
A company is given a strongpoint mission as the result of the IPB process. The strongpoint terrain has been identified as essential to the successful defense. From this strongpoint the commander will look one level lower, identifying vehicle and infantry mobility corridors. When conducting a map reconnaissance for a company strongpoint defense, the scale of the map does not lend itself to the degree of analysis required. The commander can only use the map to identify the general areas likely to be used by enemy formations. He must conduct a thorough reconnaissance of the strongpoint area.
The commander walks the ground and identities the following:
- Covered and concealed routes.
- Dead space.
- Areas which allow line of sight to the strongpoint.
- Obstacles which impede movement.
- Areas where the enemy assumes an assault formation.
The commander must determine where the enemy is vulnerable along each of the these mobility corridors.
After examining the exterior of the strongpoint area and the likely enemy routes leading to it the commander will examine the position itself. He looks for possible weapon systems locations, comparing weapon ranges and positions to the identified enemy vulnerability. Within the strongpoint, he examines the ground for internal defense. Usually a position will have a piece of "key terrain" which dominates the immediate area of the strongpoint. These locations are important to the internal construction of the strongpoint and are developed into fighting bunkers.
Company team. A strongpoint is a defensive position, fortified as time and materials allow. It is used to hold key terrain critical for the defense, to provide a pivot for the maneuver of friendly forces, and to canalize the enemy into friendly EAs. A strongpoint is held at the risk of high casualties. It cannot easily be overrun or bypassed, and must be tied in with existing obstacles, forcing the enemy to reduce it by dismounted assaults and massive artillery concentration. A company team required to defend a strongpoint will need a significant amount of time and engineer resources to construct the position.
The commander begins by comparing the number of weapon systems and soldiers he has to the size of the strongpoint. Although a strongpoint is usually tied into a battalion defense and will be flanked by other BPs, the strongpoint must be able to defend itself 360 degrees.
In Figure 4-106, a mechanized infantry team consisting of two infantry platoons, one tank platoon, and one ITV platoon has been given the strongpoint mission. A quick calculation of the number of dismounted infantry yields 36, not counting the platoon leaders and RTOs. The number of two-man fighting positions cuts the number to 18 and with a dispersion of approximately 50 meters, a frontage of 1,000 meters. In this case, the frontage equals circumference. Of course this does not take into consideration the terrain and vehicles (tanks, IFVs, and ITVs). A mechanized team, to hold a strongpoint position, must not be expected to cover an area of much more than about 500 x 500 meters.
The commander must ensure that the final disposition of the strongpoint maximizes the capabilities of the weapons on hand without sacrificing the security of the position. In actual strongpoint siting, options range from placing all the vehicles outside the positions while the infantry remain dismounted inside, to placing everything inside the position. From the planning and terrain management standpoint plus the most dangerous enemy situation (encirclement), placing everything within the strongpoint is the most difficult operation.
The commander sites weapons which support the battalion defensive plan. Once those primary positions have been identified he will continue around the position, siting weapons on other possible enemy avenues of approach and EAs until he has the ability to orient effectively in any direction. The fighting positions facing the battalion EA could be positioned along one line of defense or staggered in depth along multiple lines of defense (assuming the terrain supports positioning in depth) (see Figure 4-107). Similarly, vehicle positions may be located with or behind the two-man fighting positions. By interspersing the positions a larger frontage may be achieved. Accordingly, placing the vehicles behind the infantry allows for greater depth in the defense.
As the commander identifies the locations for each weapon system, he will work with each platoon leader to ensure each emplacement supports the company strongpoint plan (Figure 4-108). In this type of operation, the commander must be involved in detail normally left to the platoon leaders. Before actual construction of the position, however, a good technique is to stake and mark each position, to include the layout of the connecting trench line. Marked locations for bunkers should include the orientation of its weapons. This way the commander, platoon leaders, and the men who will actually construct the fortification have a clear picture of its layout prior to actual preparation. It's much easier to move engineer tape at this stage of the process than it is to reposition a trench or fighting position once it has been constructed.
The reserve. The reserve may be mounted, dismounted, or both. Regardless of the actual configuration of the reserve the company team commander must be able to influence the strongpoint battle with this type of offensive activity. The missions of the reserve include: reinforcing a portion of the defensive line, counterattack to defeat an enemy penetration and restore the tine of defense, or move to augment the existing fires along a portion of the perimeter against an identified enemy main effort. Specifically, the commander should identify routes which allow the reserve to move to any area of the BP. He then should designate positions which the reserve can occupy once they arrive, as well as tentative weapons orientation. The routes and the positions should be under sufficient cover to allow the reserve to reach its destination without interdiction from the enemy outside the strongpoint.
The same type of planning for the strongpoint FS plan would occur as it would for a sector or BP defense. However, once that has been addressed, the commander will turn his attention to planning for the all-around defense of the strongpoint position. The commander will ensure that all the avenues of approach into the strongpoint area are targeted, particularly at locations where the enemy is likely to change formations or mass forces. Dead space areas are targeted, as should the areas on the enemy side of the obstacle system.
FPFs are planned around the position and on close-in protective minefields. Fires should also be planned on the fighting positions and trench lines in case of enemy penetration of the perimeter. Fires should be planned on the final defensive line/bunker should the defender be required to call fire on his own position.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
In planning for the strongpoint construction there are three priorities. First, make the position physically impassable to tanks second, plan indirect frees and scatterable mines to slow, disrupt, and canalize the advancing enemy; and third, enhance the killing power of AT weapons with obstacles.
Terrain reinforcement. Terrain reinforcement is the key to the success of an engineer unit in the strongpoint. The engineer must make a quick estimate of the amount of Class IV and V needed to accomplish the mission. Through terrain analysis, priority of work for heavy equipment is determined. Depending on the time and the situation, priority of work will vary; the first 12 hours are critical for emplacing countermobility and survivability positions, and C2 bunkers. If the engineers have to make the terrain impassable, then the engineer effort doubled.
Countermobility. The battalion obstacle plan will be the foundation from which the company team strongpoint obstacle plan will be constructed. The battalion plan will be oriented on the identified primary avenue of approach, and will attempt to shape the enemy attack according to the commander's intent. At the company level, the strongpoint commander will carefully analyze the battalion obstacle plan to see if it requires any augmentation. He will examine the other enemy avenues of approach into the strongpoint position and develop an appropriate obstacle plan. He will look at the tieing obstacles to natural obstacles, positioning them in locations where they are not easily detected by the enemy, and most importantly, linking them to the direct-and indirect-fire plans. Areas of dead space must be made inaccessible to enemy maneuver elements. For example, AT ditches should be mined minefield should be reinforced with concertina or other demolitions, and abatis should be mined and booby trapped. Close-in obstacles should be as thoroughly planned but more geared to enemy dismounted assault. The following are examples of the type of field expedients which can be emplaced to augment obstacles.
Shaped charges. Because of the many variables, such as explosive density, configuration and density of the cavity liner, consistent results are impossible to obtain. Plastic explosive is best suited for this type of charge. Dynamite or molten TNT may be used as an expedient (see Figure 4-109).
NOTE: The narrow necks of bottles or the stems of glasses may be cut by wrapping them with a piece of soft, absorbent-type twine or string soaked in gasoline and lighting it. Two bands of adhesive tape, one on each side of the twine or string, will hold it firmly in place. The bottle must be turned continuously with the neck up, to heat the glass uniformly. A narrow band of plastic explosive placed around the neck and burned will give the same result. After heating, submerge the neck of the bottle in water and tap it against some object to break it off. Tape the sharp edge of the bottle to prevent cutting hands while tamping the explosive.
Almost any kind of container is usable. Bowls, funnels, cone-shaped glasses, copper, tin, or zinc may be used as cavity liners; or wine bottles with a cone in the bottom are excellent. If none of these is available, a reduced effect is obtained by cutting a cavity into a plastic explosive block. Optimum shaped-charge characteristics are--
- Angle of cavity = between 30 degrees and 60 degrees.
- Standoff distance = 1 1/2 x diameter of cone.
- Height of explosive in container = 2 x height of cone measured from the base of the cone to the top of the explosive.
- Point of detonation = exact top center of charge. Cover cap, if any part of it is exposed or extends above the charge, with a small quantity of C4 explosive.
Platter charge. This device utilizes the Miznay-Chardin effect. It turns a metal plate into a powerful blunt-nosed projectile. The platter should be steel (preferably round, but square is satisfactory) and should weigh from 2 to 6 pounds (see Figure 4-110).
NOTE: Calculation--Weight of explosive = approximate weight of platter.
- Place the explosive uniformly behind the platter. A container is not necessary if the explosive can be held firmly against the platter. Tape is acceptable.
- Prime the charge from the exact rear center. Cover the cap (if any part is exposed) with a small quantity of C4 explosive to ensure detonation.
- Aim the charge at the direct center of the target.
Grapeshot charge. This charge consists of a container, preferably a No. 10 can, projectiles (small pieces of steel), buffer material, an explosive charge, and a blasting cap (see Figure 4-111).
NOTE: For calculation purposes, use the following formula:
- Weight of explosive = approximately 0.25 x weight of projectiles.
- Assemble the projectiles, a few inches of buffer material (such as earth, leaves, wood, felt, cloth, or cardboard), and the explosive charge. This should be C4 packed firmly.
- Prime the charge from the exact rear center. Cover the cap, if any part is exposed. with a small quantity of C4 to ensure detonation.
- Aim the charge toward the center of the target.
Dust Initiator. This device consists of an explosive charge (powdered TNT or C3; C4 will not properly mix with the incendiary), an incendiary mix (2 parts of aluminum powder or magnesium powder to 3 parts of ferric oxide), and a suitable finely-divided organic material (dust) or a volatile fuel such as gasoline called a surround. The dust initiator is most effective in an enclosed space, like a boxcar or a warehouse or other relatively windowless structure. At detonation, the surround is distributed throughout the air within the target and ignited by the incendiary material.
NOTE: For calculation purposes, use the following formulas:
- Charge size = 1 pound (1/2 explosive, 1/2 incendiary mix).
- Cover size = 3 to 5 pounds for each 1,000 cu ft of target.
- The 1-pound charge will effective y detonate up to 40 pounds of cover.
Powdered TNT may be obtained by crushing it in a canvas bag. The incendiary mix must be thoroughly dispersed throughout the explosive. A great number of dust materials may be used as cover, among which are coal dust, cocoa, bulk powdered coffee, confectioner's sugar, tapioca, wheat flour, corn starch, hard rubber dust, aluminum powder, magnesium powder, and powdered soap. If gasoline is used, 3 gallons is the maximum, as more will not disperse evenly and gives poor results.
Improvised cratering charge. This charge is a mixture of ammonium nitrate fertilizer containing at least 33 1/3 percent nitrogen and diesel fuel, motor oil, or gasoline. From this mixture, improvised charges of almost any size or configuration can be made. Proceed as follows:
- Pour the liquid on the fertilizer.
- Allow the mixture to soak for an hour.
- Place about half the charge in the borehole. Then place the primer, a primed 1-pound block of TNT, and and the remainder of the charge. (Never leave the charge in the boreholes for a long period, as accumulated moisture reduces its effectiveness.)
- Detonate the charge.
Ammonium nitrate satchel charge. Although the cratering charge is excellent, it is suitable only for cratering. A more manageable charge may be used by mixing ammonium nitrate fertilizer with melted wax instead of oil. The primer is set in place before the mixture hardens.
- Melt ordinary paraffin and stir in ammonium nitrate pellets, making sure that the paraffin is hot while mixing.
- Before the mixture hardens add a half-pound block of TNT to its equivalent as a primer.
- Pour the mixture into a container. Shrapnel material may be added to the mixture if desired or attached on the outside of the container to give a shrapnel effect. Because the wax and fertilizer may be molded into almost any size or shape, it may be applied to a great many demolition projects with satisfactory results.
Exploding flame devices. An exploding flame device consists of a container, an incendiary fuel (usually thickened gasoline), and a tiring system to scatter and ignite the fuel. The size of the area it will cover depends on the size of the container and the firing system. It may be detonated by the M4 incendiary burster, or it may be detonated by some other available explosive used with the white phosphorous hand grenade, which serves as an igniter (see Figure 4-112). Experience has shown that Claymore mine explosive components, which are waterproof, are less subject to explosive component breakdown than are most other explosive components used in flame field expedients.
Controlled type. A 5-to 20-gallon metal container exploding flame device can be emplaced on the surface or in a V-trench (see Figure 4-113). The 5-gallon device, because of its weight and limited area of effect may be rapidly emplaced by the individual or small unit as a close protective measure. A trench can be used to give some direction to the flame. A 5-gallon container will cover an area approximately 20 to 30 meters in diameter.
Large metal containers (usually 55-gallon drums) filled with thickened fuel may also be used (see Figure 4-114). These weapons inflict casualties by the action of the burning fuel and flying pieces of the metal container. They have a great psychological effect. A 55-gallon container will cover an area of about 85 meters in diameter. For maximum fragmentation effect, they can be wound tightly with barbed wire and engineer pickets. Two 55-gallon drums welded together can provide an effective flame device.
The M4 incendiary burster can be used with any container. One burster is sufficient for a 5-gallon container. The 55-gallon drum requires two bursters. The incendiary burster is placed so as to throw the flame fuel up and out. Flame expedients will produce some illumination (see Figure 4-115).
Contact type. This weapon is most effective when emplaced in the open where obstruction will not decrease the fragmentation effect against personnel. Best results are obtained when it is emplaced in camouflaged positions approximately 2 meters above the ground in branches of trees, bushes, or hedges (see Figure 4-116).
Hasty emplacement. For hasty or overnight defensive operations (and in the absence of metal containers), holes may be dug in the ground and filled with previously thickened fuel, and fixed with an exploding device. If available, plastic containers or any suitable material may be used to line the inside and cover hasty flame field expedient emplacements (see Figure 4-117). The area covered will vary, depending on the size of the hole and on amount of thickened fuel and explosive charge used.
Wire. Most wire obstacles will not stop an armored vehicle unless it is reinforced with AT mines. Some wire obstacles, when emplaced correctly, will significantly hinder wheeled vehicles (BTRs) which may attempt to penetrate the wire barrier.
Survivability. Once the enemy has identified the position, it will bring all the fires it can spare against the position. It is important that each fighting position has overhead cover, and that connecting trench lines are constructed so that each position can be reached without exposure to fire.
Once the commander and platoon leaders have established a location for each of the fighting positions, the responsible soldiers will begin construction. Next, communications trenches and later fighting trenches, and finally a standard trench line will connect each of the fighting positions. Figure 4-118 illustrates the dimensions of a crawl trench or what is commonly referred to as the communications trench. Because this trench will later be developed into a fighting trench, the crawl trench should have the zigzag pattern expected of the finished trench line.
After the completion of the crawl trench, the commander will have the company improve the trench into a fighting trench (see Figure 4-119). The trench is dug by men working in the same direction and far enough apart that they do not interfere with each other.
The standard trench is developed from the fighting trench by lowering it to a depth of about 5-1/2 feet (see Figure 4-120). It may be constructed with fighting bays or a fighting step. fighting positions are constructed on both sides of the trench to provide alternate positions to fight to the rear, to provide step-off areas for foot traffic in the trench, and to protect against enfilade fire (see Figure 4-121). This trench is primarily a fighting position but can also be used for communications, supply, evacuation, and troop movements.
Traces. Each trench is constructed to the length required and follows one of the traces described below to simplify construction. Special combinations and modifications may be developed.
Octagonal trace. Excellent for fighting positions, it has the following advantages:
- It affords easy communication.
- It affords excellent protection against enfilade fire.
- It facilitates oblique fire along the front.
- It is economical to construct, both in labor and material.
- It can be provided with a continuous fire step. Its chief disadvantage is that the layout lacks simplicity of detail (see Figure 4-122).
Zigzag trace. It can provide protection from enfilade fire and shell bursts by the employment of short tangents and the occupation of alternate tangents (see Figure 4-123). The zigzag trace has the following advantages:
- It is the simplest and easiest to trace, construct, revet, and maintain.
- It may be readily adapted to the terrain.
- It permits both frontal and flanking fire.
- The trace has no specific disadvantages.
The trench system may be connected to underground bunkers by means of a tunnel system. This provides the greatest amount of safety to the company and allows reinforcement and resupply to become very responsive, as the men are able to move quickly around the position in relative safety.
Dummy earthworks. Dummy trenches and fighting positions are intended to deceive the enemy as to the true disposition of the strongpoint (see Figures 4-124 and 4-125). Placing brush in a shallow trench wilt produce an internal shadow effect, similar to that of a deep trench. Parapets must be similar to those of other trenches, and concealed in the same manner. A dummy emplacement may be constructed by placing a box on its side, open toward the enemy, and covered with earth (see Figure 4-126). This will appear as a deep internal shadow to the enemy. When incorporated with the actual positions, the dummy earthworks will deceive both aerial and ground reconnaissance.
Mobility. The mobility within a strongpoint is centered around the ability of the CSS personnel and the reserve to accomplish their respective missions. Therefore the connecting trench line is essential to conducting resupply operations. From the perspective of the reserve, the trench line may serve their need to respond to a particular area within the strongpoint however, a mounted reserve may require a cut road and prepared fighting positions which allow it to cover a specific area (see Figure 4-127). Whether mounted or dismounted, the reserve must be able to respond quickly, arrive as a surprise to the enemy, and at full strength. Should the enemy interdict or prevent the commitment of the reserve, the defending commander will have lost his ability to significantly influence the battlefield.
Planning for the strongpoint air defense involves selecting Stinger team firing positions which may be incorporated into the fortification plan. The firing positions must be linked to the trench line and the missiles should be prestocked in proximity to the firing positions. Of course the firing positions must be able to orient on the enemy air avenues of approach, but they may not be able to locate within the position on the high ground. This is because a fighting bunker will most likely control the internal ground of the strongpoint and is more important to the survivability of the position.
Combat Service Support
The first thing to keep in mind when supporting a strongpoint is to keep the supply route open as long as possible (see Figure 4-128). The company should avoid using prestocks as long as the resupply can occur as it would for a BP. The main difference being, once the supplies math the rear of the position, they must be handcarried to the destination. Should the strongpoint become isolated, then the company must be prepared to survive on its own. Every class of supply should be prestocked throughout the position. The company would also receive additional support which would be required to sustain its operations. This would include a surgeon or physician's assistant, support platoon personnel to carry supplies, radio repairmen, and a section of mortars.
Each of these elements must be placed within the position, and also given a fighting position should it be necessary. A resupply and evacuation plan must be prepared, and if possible, routes should be marked within the strongpoint so that traffic can be kept one-way.
Command and Control
The commander will have to take advantage of any opportunity to conduct offensive actions, whether they include engagement by artillery, the use of flame weapons, ambushes, or counterattacks. He must ensure that his direct and indirect-fire instructions are sound and easily understood. He should use as many event-driven activities as possible. Even though wire will be buried, there is no telling of its longevity under heavy artillery suppression. He must select a position which allows him to watch the strongpoint and make timely assessments, as well as decide when and where to commit the reserve.
The company commander prepares for the strongpoint defense by conducting a rehearsal to check the effectiveness of his defensive and fire plans. The commander will initially drive the enemy avenues of approach. He will begin by examining his decision support template as it relates to the battalion's EA. Specifically, the commander ensures his assumptions concerning the direction of the enemy attack, locations for changing formations, and actions on confronting obstacles are accurate.
Once that is complete, he will systematically negotiate each enemy avenue of approach into the strongpoint. This will replicate the enemy isolating the position and conducting probing attacks to find a weakness. AS with the main EA the commander will examine the decision support templates he has constructed for each of the flank and rear avenues of approach and confirm his impression of the likely maneuver plan.
If an LP/OP is placed outside the position, he ensures the communications are effective and redundant. Also, he will ensure there is a path by which the LP/OP personnel reenter the position if necessary. Their areas of observation and reporting procedures will be checked during the rehearsal to ensure that they are able to accomplish their assigned mission. Their sustainability and camouflage wilt also be examined from the perspective of the enemy.
The commander will annotate identified discrepancies from the decision support template and during the rehearsal, and will adjust it accordingly. Some changes to the company surveillance plan may be required however, the commander should avoid making drastic changes if possible.
The commander will be concerned about two phases of the strongpoint battle: the initial defense as it relates to the battalion defense plan, and the defense of the strongpoint itself. He will begin by confirming his direct-fire plan.
After the initial defensive phase has been rehearsed, the commander will direct his attention to the strongpoint defense. As he drives each of the avenues of approach, he will check to see how well the position is camouflaged and whether or not dummy positions and bench lines appear realistic. Next, he will determine if the direct-fro plan is executed according to plan. Each element will radio to the commander when he initiates engagement. The commander ensures he is at the appropriate trigger line location when this occurs. He should attempt to drive the terrain as much as possible to give the gunners an impression of the target present times. This is especially important for wire-guided missiles.
The commander should walk the areas likely to be used by dismounted enemy to identify any dead space that may have been missed during planning and construction. In particular, the commander should verify that flame weapons, Claymore mines, and other command-detonated munitions are assigned to individuals who understand the event-driven initiators that will trigger the mines.
Within the position, the commander will examine the internal direct fire measures these are orientations to the rear or to the flank, which would serve in isolating an enemy penetration of the perimeter. He will rehearse the company falling back to a second defensive perimeter and the direct fire control measures necessary to accomplish the maneuver. He will exercise the reserve to see that it can accomplish each of its missions effectively. The reserve must be able to move relatively undetected, set up in position, and orient appropriately to augment the existing defensive fires. Finally, the commander will check the last line of defense, which is usually a fighting bunker or bunker complex, to verify its direct fires within the position.
The company commander will conduct the indirect-fire rehearsal with the maneuver rehearsal. First, he will examine the indirect fire plan as it is incorporated into the battalion FS plan of the main defensive battle. He then ensures that company called fires are synchronized with the direct fire, and are able to simultaneously engage the enemy at the desired place and time. He will rehearse the FS plan for each of the remaining avenues of approach into the strongpoint position.
The commander will check the FPFs along the company defensive perimeter. FPFs will be called should the enemy appear close to penetrating the position. Similarly, fires along the trench line may be used to suppress any enemy who enter the perimeter. A second set of FPFs should be planned forward of the second line of defense, and lastly, fires should be planned on the final defensive positions should it become necessary to call fire onto our own position.
The commander ensures that the FSO has a fortified position from which he can observe the battle. Redundancy must be planned for the field artillery communications, and if possible, the FIST may be positioned separately so as not to present a single target. At first communications from the trench line to the FSO will be over the company command hot loop. If that becomes destroyed, an alternate means of communication will be necessary.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
The commander will assess the effectiveness of the obstacle system as he drives the enemy avenues of approach. He ensures that the obstacle plan is completely integrated into the direct and indirect-fire plan by monitoring engagement reports and calls for fire as he inches each of the obstacles. The proper positioning of the minefield is extremely important. The enemy should not be able to identify the obstacles until he is unable to find a bypass or easily extract his formation.
Obstacles that turn the formation should do so gradually, allowing the enemy commander to think that he is proceeding as planned until he unknowingly becomes vulnerable. At that point, the commander must verify that the fire plan takes proper advantage of the enemy's vulnerability.
The commander should also check the close-in protective obstacles to verify their sufficiency against both mounted and dismounted assault. Booby traps and command-detonated devices should be checked and the obstacle reinforcement plan rehearsed so the barrier will be executed with reoriented direct fires.
Within the position, precharges on the initial defensive trench should be set so that if the enemy does penetrate a portion of the trench line, it may be detonated and reoccupied. Claymore mines should be positioned at turns within the trace to prevent any progress in clearing the trench. Dummy trenches and special false trenches equipped with booby traps should look like actual troches. If the assets are available, AP and AT mines should cover the top of the position. This will force the attacker into the trench line where he is reduced to a one-man frontage, and loses mass and momentum.
The fighting positions should be inspected to ensure they are properly camouflaged and dummy positions are easily mistaken for the actual fighting positions. Bunkers should be inconspicuous, yet able to cover their assigned area Routes for the counterattack force must remain clear throughout the rehearsal and actual execution so that the counterattack force can arrive unimpeded.
The Stinger teams must practice issuing air defense warnings over the company hot loop and command net so that the strongpoint weapons can adopt an air defense posture. Warnings should cover air attack along each avenue of approach so the company has practice engaging in all necessary directions. If available, extra Stinger gunners may be recruited from some of the CSS personnel in order that all the grip stocks will carry a missile.
Combat Service Support
The CSS plan should be rehearsed concurrently with the maneuver plan. Specifically, the support personnel must practice moving to each part of the strongpoint as they would under combat conditions. Stretcher bearers should carry their stretchers to identify possible areas where they may have difficulty transporting a casualty. Sharp turns in the trench line which inhibit casualty evacuation should be noted and the engineers informed so that appropriate action may be taken.
The prestock plan should be reviewed and each man should know where he can get additional ammunition, particularly assistant machine gunners. The traffic plan within the strongpoint should be checked to ensure that it does not impede the defense of the position. Conversely, the plan must expedite support to the frontline. Buddy-aid will be very important to the survival of the company, especially considering the amount of fire the strongpoint will draw. Therefore, additional medical supplies should be located near or in the fighting positions.
Command and Control
The commander must ensure that his location is effective for observing the battlefield. The XO should be positioned to cover the area the commander is unable to observe. The certainty of heavy enemy artillery and rocket suppression on the strongpoint will present difficult challenges to the commander and his ability to control the battle. Wire will probably be the first means of communication, then radio, then messenger. More importantly, however, each man must know when he must engage and where he must orient; he must be prepared to fight on his own, without guidance, once the attack begins. The commander must make sure during the rehearsal that this is the case.
The commander must also validate his decision support template; he ensures that the enemy course of action reflects the type of maneuver found to be the most realistic as a result of driving the terrain. Armed with this information, he will review the conditions under which he would commit the reserve. His greatest concern is that he must not overreact and commit the reserve early. If the reserve becomes decisively engaged early in the fight, the commander losses his ability to influence the battle. If he waits too long, he could lose everything. Therefore, the preconditions which trigger the release of the reserve and the time it will take for them to arrive in place must be clear in the mind of the commander before execution.
As the enemy enters the battalion sector, the scout platoon will begin to report the enemy's location, strength, and probable course of action. As the screen is withdrawn, the company will begin to engage the enemy with indirect fires. Once the enemy reaches the battalion EA, the enemy will be engaged per the battalion defensive plan. A more in-depth discussion of the main EA fight is found earlier in this section under Defend a Battle Position.
If the enemy is able to press the attack and isolate the position, then company stay-behind patrols will report enemy movements around the strongpoint position. Because they will be situated to cover the areas not observable from the strongpoint, they will be able to direct continuous artillery fire on the enemy even before he gets within line of sight. These reports arc essential to the commander's ability to anticipate the intentions of the enemy. If he knows that the enemy is forming for an attack from a specific direction, the commander may reposition forces within the strongpoint to meet the attack.
Forewarned of the impending action, the commander will have his weapon systems oriented to meet the enemy force; however, security will be maintained all around the position throughout the battle. Once the enemy meets the engagement criteria and crosses the trigger line, the company will open up with both direct and indirect fire. Fires will try to optimize the effect of the obstacle plan, fragmenting the enemy formation and destroying his force piecemeal.
If the enemy is able to continue the attack and approach the strongpoint in an attempt to make a penetration, the company will specifically target breaching equipment to include tanks with minerollers or plows. Additionally, the direct and indirect fire will separate the armor forces from its trailing infantry. If the close-in obstacle is effective in preventing enemy vehicles from entering the perimeter, the enemy infantry will attempt to continue the momentum with the support of all available direct and indirect fire. To repulse the dismounted attack, soldiers will man the command detonated munitions and destroy the enemy as he attempts to negotiate the wire obstacles.
Should the enemy penetrate the defensive perimeter and enter the trench line, the defending forces will orient inward to isolate the penetration. The enemy will be engaged by both direct and indirect fire, and as they attempt to expand their gains, Claymore mines, and other demolitions. Once the penetration has been halted and terminated, the defenders will counterattack to reoccupy their original fighting positions.
If the enemy is able to expand his initial penetration of the perimeter, the commander may choose to withdraw to the next defensive perimeter. FPF will assist the withdrawal, and units will cover each other's moves as they occupy their new positions. If planned and executed properly, the second perimeter should be every bit as formidable as the first. Also, with the minefield covering the position, the enemy is forced to attack up the trench line.
At this point in the battle, the defender should fight with absolute determination. If the counterattack has not occurred until now, it certainly will be a valuable asset to the commander as he attempts to have strength meet strength. From the attacker's standpoint, however, they have made progress and may feel that victory is obtainable. Therefore, it is up to the defender to break the will of the attacker. This can only be done by firepower and accurate shooting. If the enemy makes a final effective push, the last resort is for the remaining defenders to withdraw to their bunker complex and call artillery or air strikes onto their own location.
In its initial stages the FS plan will be executed as described in other company team defensive operations. However, in the case of the strongpoint, once the enemy has isolated the position, the artillery's role becomes absolutely essential to the success of the mission. The strongpoint essentially trades space for fortification and firepower. Indirect fire, therefore, must be used heavily and with great effect to prevent the enemy from entering the position.
As mentioned earlier, the stay-behind patrols will adjust artillery as the enemy forms up and approaches the position. This interdiction should degrade the enemy's C2. However, once the enemy encounters the obstacle belt the artillery must be devastating. Target groups must be called against the stalled formation while other fires reinforce the obstacle system. All the while, direct fire will rake the formation to complete destruction. Dismounted infantry should not survive the fire.
If the enemy is able to close with the position, the indirect fires will continue until the enemy breaks or enters the perimeter. If the enemy gains a foothold, the commander may attempt to concentrate indirect fire on the penetration; however, if the attack was extremely successful, he may call for an FPF to allow his force an opportunity to regroup.
Once the second perimeter is occupied, the process will be repeated. As mentioned earlier, as a last result, artillery may be called on the position itself as the defenders seek the safety of the bunker system.
Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability
Should the enemy push through the EA and approach the protective minefield, direct and indirect fire must increase in intensity. However, command-detonated munitions will make the close-in obstacle system somewhat more active through the use of flame weapons, shrapnel demolitions, and a heavy mix of all types of mines and wire. If properly sited, the dismounted infantry will be unable to negotiate the gauntlet of booby traps, mines, and demolitions.
If the enemy is able to enter the perimeter and the trench line, previously emplaced mines along the trench line may be executed to destroy anyone who has entered. Afterward, the defenders can reoccupy the position. Dummy trenches may also lure an aggressive enemy into a series of booby traps and mines. Mines placed on top of the position will keep the enemy in the trench line where he is easily isolated and destroyed by direct and indirect fire.
The Stinger teams will notify the company of any impending air attack. If the strongpoint is being heavily suppressed, the Stinger team will probably not be able to engage. Therefore, the strongpoint must rely on air defense assets outside the strongpoint which can cover the area.
Combat Service Support
The CSS plan will be executed as required by the needs of the company. Heavy suppression may impede some support operations; however, evacuation teams will move forward as required to carry wounded to the aid station. The 1SG must keep a careful watch on the rate of sustained casualties as they relate to the perimeter. Should a portion appear to become weak, he should inform the commander, who will take the appropriate action.
Command and Control
The commander will observe the battle from whatever position is necessary. It is imperative that he locates himself where he can visually assess the battle, and if need be, personally direct the soldiers. As mentioned earlier, his primary concern will be knowing when to commit the reserve. He must be located where he can make an immediate assessment and decision, launching the counterattack as needed. Communications will be difficult if the hot loop is cut and artillery suppression makes listening to a radio almost impossible. Runners will be needed to deliver the messages of the commander.
The division will defend with 2d Brigade in the north, 3d Brigade in the south, and 1st Brigade in reserve (see Figure 4-129). An ACR will be the covering force in the southern three-quarters of the division sector, and 2d Brigade will cover the northern quarter. Both covering forces will operate under division control. The BHL will be PL DICK. The 2d Brigade can anticipate a weak enemy attack, but the ACR will likely encounter strong reconnaissance forces and the enemy main attack. The ACR must destroy the reconnaissance forces and the first-echelon MRBs, which forces the commitment of the follow-on MRBs of the lead MRRs. Once the ACR forces the commitment of the second echelon and identifies its main attack, the ACR will hand the battle to 3d Brigade. With 2d Brigade holding strong in the north, 3d Brigade will destroy the remainder of the first-echelon MRR east of the Haune River. This will force the enemy to have his second-echelon MRR conduct a hasty river crossing. The 3d Brigade should use the Haune River to force the enemy to piecemeal his attack, and should defeat this second echelon east of the Fulda River (PL BOB). By holding the Fulda River in the center, an assailable flank will be created for the 3d Brigade counterattack. This attack will destroy the remnants of the lead MRD combat forces, which include its C2 and logistics. Furthermore, the 3d Brigade will be well-positioned to meet the second echelon of the CAA. The window for this attack is about 6 hours, so timing is critical. The division will use BAI, interdicting fires, and attack helicopters to increase this window. When 1st Brigade is committed the division cavalry squadron will screen the eastern flank of the attack, and will continue east from Hunfeld to identify the lead of the 2d Division.
Brigade Defense Plan
The division LO delivers the WO and the commander's concept to the 3d Brigade commander (see Figure 4-130). The LO uses a sketch and map of the area in his explanation of the division commander's concept. After several questions are answered, the LO departs. The brigade commander reviews the WO and realizes he has about five days to prepare the defense.
The brigade commander begins his mission analysis to determine the essential task and why the brigade must accomplish the mission. This allows him to do two things: issue his restated mission or provide planning guidance to the staff. Based on his analysis, he determines the essential task to be defend in sector. The restated mission becomes: 3d Brigade defends in sector from NB421269 to NB443065 NLT 120600 FEB XX to destroy the lead MRD of the 8th CAA and provide a time window for the division counterattack.
The brigade XO takes the restated mission and begins to draft a WO to the subordinate units. This WO is based on the division WO and the commander's mission analysis. Movement of the units to forward positions is included, along with the time and place of the brigade OPORD. Although vague, this WO allows subordinates to begin their own planning and reconnaissance, and as more information is obtained, FRAGOs are issued as updates.
While the WO is being drafted, the commander reviews his mission analysis and conducts a detailed map reconnaissance. During the map reconnaissance, the commander mentally develops a MCOO, enemy course of action, and situation template. This review helps to develop planning guidance so the staff can begin an estimate. The commander has two concerns: placing sufficient combat power forward to control the first-echelon division and to cause attrition, and providing a reserve large enough to destroy their attack. He knows he must use some brigade assets to control not only the speed of the enemy attack, but also the size of the enemy unit that each task force must face at one time. The staff also provides subordinate units a plan that allows them to fight the enemy while still in an approach march. This maximizes the capability to attack the enemy flanks. With this in mind, the commander issues the following guidance to the staff.
"I'm not set on any one course of action. Look at the terrain and place the combat power to control terrain that restricts the enemy's movement. Try to keep the enemy in column so that the task forces can attack the flanks. Use CS assets to enhance these natural choke points. I don't want the DS field artillery battalion in the counterfire business unless it is a RAG or DAG supporting the unit attacking us, Consider both a large, two-task force, and a small task force (-), reserve. Accept some risk in the southern and northern AAs, but for counterattack purposes, protect the road network in the center of sector. Plan to commit the reserve so that it hits the enemy while he is still in regimental column. XO, let's get a decision on this by 1400 hours today, and we'll provide the task force commanders a brief on the concept at 1700 hours. Don't get locked in as though this is a final product, because some changes will be necessary once the division order is final."
Without a final order, the staff begins the operations estimate based on the WO and the commander's guidance. The S2 section and the S3 identify the AO and agree on the area the MCOO will include. During the preparation of the MCOO, the S2 section also identifies the order of battle of both the 4th MRD and the 39th GMRD, since one or both could enter the defensive sector of the brigade. Current weather and light data are obtained. Doctrinal templates of an attacking MRR are evaluated to determine changes predicated on the order of battle and the effects of terrain and weather. These situation templates are used later when war-gaming. Finally, the S2 establishes the capabilities of the enemy and develops the enemy's most probable course of action. This course of action could be expressed in time lines showing how the attack will be conducted, where forces will be located, and what objectives will be taken.
During this time, the S3 evaluates the time and troops available to complete the mission. He arrays these forces to develop the course of actions that follow the commander's guidance and accomplish the mission. In this scenario, the S3 develops the three course of actions illustrated in Figure 4-131.
The S3 presents these courses of action to the staff as soon as they are completed. The S1 estimates the personnel losses for each subordinate unit in each course of action while the S4 does the same for equipment losses and consumption of Classes III, IV, V, and IX.
The staff and, if his duties allow, the commander then use the products developed (situation template, order of battle, MCOO, and course of action sketches) to war-game each course of action to determine strengths and weaknesses. The course of action can be modified during the war-gaming to make it stronger and better able to accomplish the mission. Any changes are disseminated to the staff. Each course of action is independently war-gamed, and its advantages and disadvantages recorded.
When all the courses of action have been independently war-gamed, the XO leads the staff through the comparison process and the development of the decision support template with synchronization matrix. They start by reviewing the critical events of the operation. These events include the battle handover, defeat of the first and second echelons, and commitment of the reserve. Using these events as a point of departure, the staff concludes that course of action 2 is the best to recommend to the commander. This course of action places the most combat power forward to conduct the battle handover, allows one battalion task force to focus on one main AA controlling the enemy's ability to mass, allows the brigade to mass its forces against the enemy attack in small pieces (never larger than an MRB), holds the reserve until the main attack is clearly identified, and retains internal counterattack routes.
The XO assembles the staff and provides the commander an informal decision briefing that recommends course of action 2. The commander approves the staff's recommendation, and with all the key staff leaders present, he states the tentative plan (see Figure 4-132).
"We expect the enemy to initiate his attack from present positions in five days. The covering force should reduce his first echelon strength and force him to show his main attack. We will initially see up to three tank and two MRBs in the north, and one tank and one MRB in the center, and two tank and one MRB in the south, from the first-echelon division. Our recon effort must observe the lateral mobility corridors open to the enemy. Once we defeat the remnants of the first-echelon division, we should see the 9th GTD without much of a break. I expect their main attack on the northern avenue of approach. That means at least one tank regiment and possibly two on that avenue.
"We will defend with three task forces forward defending in sector. The fourth task force will be in reserve, and located west of the Fulda in the forest west of Rimbach. We need balanced task forces in the north and south and mech heavy in the center. Based on the AA, the S2 is probably right and the main attack will be in the north. That is not to say we will not see a strong effort in the south and center. The center task force is a linchpin in this defense. It must initially defend east of Langenschwaz (NB4419), but must have prepared positions to occupy rapidly to defend the northern and southern approaches along the Fulda, in priority. The defense of this BP and the high-speed routes it protects are the hinge of the brigade's scheme of maneuver. The success of the center task force guarantees the mobility and protection of the counterattack. The reserve must be prepared to counterattack east and then swing either north or south into the enemy's flank. The counterattack objectives in priority are LYNX (NB4622), then TIGER (NB48 12). As a third priority, the reserve must be prepared to conduct the counterattack north or south along the Fulda River. Task organization is summarized in Figure 4-133.
"The counterattack must hit the enemy behind the lead regiments in order to destroy command and control along with RAGs and DAGs. Don't be surprised if we see both DAGs in our sector. The counterattack should strike just when the enemy is strung out in regimental columns on the confined northern or southern AAs. This will allow the counterattack to execute short-range violent attacks against the flanks of the attacker. The northern task force must observe both of the northeast avenues (NB4824 and NB4327), and be prepared to occupy company-sized BPs early on to block the enemy's use. The southern task force must do the same on the southeastern avenue (NB4406). I expect to accept penetration in the north and south by a single battalion west of the Fulda River before initiating the counterattack. With one MRB west of the river, a task force can mass to defeat this MRB as the counterattack aims at the vulnerable flanks of the follow-on enemy forces. These synchronized actions should completely defeat the enemy before he reaches the 30 grid line.
"Location of the reserve is cntical. It must have quick access to high speed routes, which forces it to be east of the 36 grid line. It can be assigned widely dispersed areas for its protection without exclusive control of a large task force position, since land is at a premium.
"FS must be carefully planned since we don't have much to employ. If need be, tell the direct-support battalion to be prepared to attack the RAGs and DAGs supporting the lead enemy units with reactive counterfire, but try to get division to do it with MLRS first. FSO, get with the field artillery battalion commander and see if, between the two of you, we can get some reinforcing support after the passage of the covering force. If we get it, put them on the reactive counterfire mission.
"Engineer, plan to put our initial support in the countermobility role in support of the center task force. Once complete, look at making the east side of the Fulda an obstacle belt in the northern and southern sectors. This will support the primary counterattack east of this area, and the secondary axis on the west side of the Fulda.
"I want to keep the air defense under brigade control. We must cover the air avenues at the battle handover. This will protect the maneuver forces as welt. Look at using division assets to protect our CSS assets so we can protect the air avenues that could be used to attack our flanks around the Fulda River and Highway A7.
"The fluidity of the battle forces us to get much of the CSS assets behind our rear boundary as possible. Small, compact support elements can be placed only in carefully selected and coordinated locations. Keep the task forces going, but don't build a support base that has a signature so large it can be seen in Karl Marx Stadt.
"Our intelligence effort must paint a true picture before the battle handover or we may lose command and control before the fight begins. Eavesdrop on the covering force and establish liaison with them early Use the division to confirm what the covering force reports. Don't hesitate to assign task forces recon missions that require stay-behind recon. I'm sure that, when executed, the defense will be successful and within 3 days we will reestablish PL JACK.
"Look at placing the TAC CP in the vicinity of the Fulda. The TOC needs to fight the field artillery battle, especially if we get into the reactive counterbattery tight. It must also be ready to control the JAAT counterattack when the division releases the attack helicopter assets to us. The depth of the sector will require the use of RETRANS. Find a couple of secure locations and put them out early. If we can, collocate the RETRANS with other elements for their protection.
"I know that we will not be able to finalize this until we get the division OPORD tomorrow morning, but let's get the task force commanders and their key staff leaders up here to brief them on the concept so they can use the time for their own planning."
The XO then arranges for subordinate commanders to rendezvous at a forward location within the hour. While this occurs, the brigade commander, the S3, and the S2 begin identifying reconnaissance requirements. They agree the first priority is to reconnoiter the BHL to identify where FS should be planned to assist the covering force. Next, they want to look at the primary and secondary counterattack routes and the AAs with the goal of identifying the most restrictive locations for the counterattack objectives. Because time is limited before they have to go to the division OPORD, they limit their reconnaissance to these, knowing that the final order will create other reconnaissance requirements.
Battalion Defense Plan
As the battalion commander leaves the concept briefing with the brigade command group, he notes that it is 1800 hours and getting dark. After he reviews the brief, he initiates the same mission analysis process as did the brigade commander after the division LO briefed him. He recognizes that his unit, TF 1-14 AR, has the northern AA, which will be used by tanks. This guides all of his analyses. To make the most of the weapons assigned to his task force, he knows he has to position his companies to maximize short-range flank shots while the task force does all it can to control the flow of enemy into these deadly company sectors of fire. As his driver negotiates the forest with the HMMWV, the battalion commander begins to list the tasks the brigade assigned (see Figure 4-134).
He recognizes that his battalion has to defeat elements of more than one MRR. Looking at the task force sector, he thinks it will not be a problem, especially since the brigade commander told him that up to an MRB could cross the Fulda River in his sector. The task force must initially destroy any first echelon enemy that gets through the covering force. Once the battle is handed over, the task force will need to defeat the second-echelon regiment of the lead division. By his estimate, the task force should begin to fight the second-echelon division around the Fulda River, The enemy's crossing the Fulda should help the task force.
As he proceeds to his task force TOC, he reviews the list of tasks he made and begins to formulate his planning guidance. The plan will require companies and teams to conduct coordinated independent engagements. Where possible, two teams should be concentrated to attack a single target, but since the task force has to defeat more than a single regiment, maximum use of company-size engagements throughout the depth of the sector will be necessary. Although there is a covering force, the task force needs to establish a scout screen as far forward as the BHL, and it needs a company sector to destroy enemy reconnaissance elements that get by the covering force. This force will need indirect FS and, perhaps, some RETRANS help. The task force must plan to meet the enemy on all three MRB-sized AAs forward of Highway 27. This is where the defense should be initiated. The Haune and Fulda Rivers should be used to strengthen the defense. His planning guidance will stress the need to be careful in selecting the positions from which the companies defend; they need to be able to dominate the eastern banks. West of the Fulda, the task force sector splits into two major AAs. The northern one runs from Breitenbach to Lingelbach, and the southern one from Breitenbach through Grebenau to Schwarz. The plan must observe both, and then move forces from one to the other to concentrate against the enemy's attack. He notes that the task force is second in the priority of fires and has one priority target to plan for each brigade PL. The priority target will be used to slow the enemy that is outside of company EAs. There will be enough obscuration without our own field artillery adding to it, so he needs to keep those fires beyond the primary direct-fire EAs. Mortar smoke and smoke pots will be needed to improve concealment while companies displace between positions. He decides that disrupting obstacles will be used to increase the time companies could engage the enemy, with blocking obstacles protecting the friendly units. There are places such as the road junction at grid 491208 that need to be closed after we pass through. He will tell the S3 to ensure these are positively controlled and that he has specific instructions for closure. He will direct the XO to assist the S4 and the BMO to plan the CSS for the defense. The small packages the brigade commander wants to use so signatures are reduced will require positive control. The last thing he wants is a fuel HEMTT leading the counterattack. With his notes ready, he arrives at the TOC and provides his planning guidance to the assembled staff (see Figure 4-134).
After the commander answers several questions about his planning guidance, his staff begins the same estimate process as the brigade staff. Before the staff sections initiate the planning process, the task force commander gathers the XO, S2, S3, S4, FSO, C Company commander, mortar platoon leader, and scout platoon leader. Even before the OPORD is developed, the commander wants to establish his own security force. The scouts are instructed to establish a screen line along PL DICK to watch the roads into Eiterfeld, Malges, and Kimhasel. They are to move now and report exact locations once established C Company receives one mortar section OPCON, and is to establish a defense in sector between PL DICK and PL GRANT. It wilt destroy any enemy formation smaller than 15 combat vehicles. It expects to stay out there until the battle hand-off with the covering force. All reports are to be on the task force net. The smut platoon and C Company have to cross talk to hand off enemy, and in this way, the task force TOC would monitor the battle. The task force commander makes sure the scouts and C Company understand that they should be in position before dawn and should make maximum use of cover and concealment. With that, he orders them to move out. The commander checks his watch and realizes that it has been only one hour since he received the brigade concept. With the staff already working, he is able to provide guidance to the companies before he receives the final brigade order.
As the staff works on the estimate, the task force commander monitors the movements of the scout platoon and C Company. Once they are in their initial positions, the task force commander sleeps.
At around 0200 hours, the task force XO wakes the commander and tells him the staff is ready to present him three options for the operation. He shakes out the cobwebs and moves into the house that serves as the planning TOC. The commander studies the map as the S3 explains the three courses of action. The rest of the staff listen as the S3 and XO make the staff's recommendation. The commander ends the informal 10-minute brief by approving the staff recommendation. Before he releases the staff, he decides to go over the plan one time with everyone present (see Figure 4-135).
"Generally, we will execute the task force defense in sector using company team BPs in depth. Some will be mutually supporting by engaging the enemy from two directions simultaneously, white others will be individual company fights. The scouts will make contact with the covering force and, along with the S3, will coordinate the battle hand-off and rearward passage of the covering force. Companies, be prepared to release your XOs as guides so we won't have to pull the scouts off their forward screen.
"C Company and the scouts will act as the task force security force during the preparation of the defense. Communication between the scouts and C company is critical. Scouts, avoid fighting except in self-defense. Pass the enemy off to C company for destruction. If the covering force is doing its job, we shouldn't see much, but be prepared to tight CRPs, FSEs, or individual companies that slip through. Once the covering force passes, the scouts will remain along PL DICK, and C Company will withdraw to BP 4. This is also the cue for the mortars to displace, and for the platoon to come back under task force control.
"Initially, the main enemy force could attack with three battalions forward, one from Kornbach to Oberstoppel, a second from south of Kombach to Unterstoppel, and a third from Steinbach to Rothenkirchen. Since these battalion objectives would be crossing sites on the Haune River, it will be difficult to force the enemy to go where he does not want to go. Because of this, obstacles between PL GRANT and the Haune River will be used to protect our positions and disrupt the enemy. If they also do some attrition and turning, that's fine, but don't count on forcing this initial enemy attack far off its plan. With that in mind, Team A will begin the task force defense from BP
1. Using direct fires to cover the blocking obstacles to their east, the company's fires should concentrate on the road from the east, which forces the northern MRB away from Oberstoppel. The success of the MRB to their south should pull them along toward the engagement area around Unterstoppel. Here Company B will destroy the remainder of the northern MRB and most of the center MRB. The DPICM field artillery priority group target, A1A, which will be initiated by Company B after the lead MRC are taken under direct fire, will destroy some of the following MRC and slow their advance to a manageable speed. By improving the cuts along the railroad and highway south of Steinbach, the southern MRB will be forced north of Steinbach, putting it behind the battle around BPs 1 and 2. Team D in BP 3 will fight this MRB once it is west of Steinbach and approaching the Haune River. Make sure some vehicles, may be platoon sergeants', concentrate their fire against bridging and engineer vehicles. Team D will need to fight BP 3 as long as Company B and Team A are withdrawing to subsequent positions. Team D can displace to BP 4 if enemy pressure is too great. If the enemy crosses the Haune and slides to the south, make sure Team D coordinates a way to report this to TF 1-93. I believe that our limit east of the Haune will be the destruction of these lead elements of the first three MRB. A COLT and the field artillery coordinator will locate on the high ground in BP 4. Their mission is to execute a brigade-established Gator minefield, which is designated obstacle 1004, and to disrupt the enemy using CAS and field artillery. Company B will execute obstacle 1004 at the Haune crossing, which will signal the forward air controller to bring in the aircraft to lay the minefield. Team D, you can begin to displace as the minefield is going in. Just make sure you stay there long enough to provide protection for the aircraft on their initial passes (see Figure 4-136).
"Our next engagement will center around Schlezenrod. Although the terrain appears open, close inspection of the contour finds it to be rolling with very few long-range shots or places where two companies can see the same target. It still provides us good locations to hit the enemy from several directions at one time. BPs 5, 6, and 8 will be occupied by Team D, Company C, and Company B, respectively. We need to be prepared for the enemy to attack from Rhina and north of Wehrda. We've planned on both, but if their attack comes from only one direction, we will maneuver the unit out of contact into the fight. Company C will initially orient to the north to protect the task force flank. Company C must stay undetected if the enemy attacks from the east. This will give the task force a forward placed reserve, and a way to hit the following companies of the MRB. Company B and Team D will need to hold their fires until the disrupting obstacles slow the enemy. Although most of Company B's shots will be frontal, the short range will allow them to do a great deal of damage. Team D needs to be prepared to counterattack to CP 71 if no enemy is south of Hill 302, CP 71. The fires of Company B and Team D should concentrate on the lead MRC to allow Company C to hit the following MRC. Since we expect the enemy to concentrate in the north, we've planned a priority group target, A2A, to be executed by Company C. The purpose of this target is to again slow the enemy and confuse the following MRC before Company C hits its flank.
If needed, Team A will be moved from BP 7 to south of Starklos to add its weight to the fight, but I prefer to keep them out of this to cover our withdrawal. I think we can fight these positions long enough to destroy three or four MRC. If we can, we will stay longer, but pressure from the north around Holzhein or Niederaula will force us back to the Fulda. Ideally we will move during the confusion between the attacking echelons. If we must fight our way back to the Fulda River positions, Company B will cover the withdrawal of the two teams. Then Team A will overwatch Company B's movement. This forces Team A to withdraw on its own.
"The task force's strongest positions are those along the Fulda River. We will need to dominate the east bank with direct fires. The brigade obstacle plan makes the east side of the Fulda a blocking obstacle belt. This will force the enemy to concentrate his attack to seize in-place bridges. In our sector, this means he will focus his initial attack to seize the autobahn A7 bridge. This will be prepared for demolition, but blown only on order of the brigade. The fires of Company B from BP 13 and those of Company C from BP 9 will stop the enemy from getting bridging assets forward, which will deny him the ability to conduct a hasty crossing His attack will be into the teeth of Team D in BP 10, which will deny him the bridge. As the enemy initiates his attack we will use our mortars to smoke the east bank heavily. We will need to prestock mortar smoke to do this. This will increase the confusion of the attack to help deny the enemy the chance to find the obstacle belt or routes to the bridges. To increase this confusion, Team D will execute priority group target A3A when they begin direct fire toward the autobahn bridge. These strong positions will be pinpointed by the enemy after his first attempt to cross the Fulda. Because of this, after the first attack but before the enemy's second assault, Team D will displace to BP 12 and Company C to positions west of Highway 62 on the high ground in BP 9. Company C should keep one platoon oriented east to disrupt assault bridging, and the other two oriented on CP L to engage enemy that have crossed the Fulda at the autobahn bridge. Each time a MRC plus gets across, it will be engaged by the units in BP 9, 11, or 12. The Jossa River should force the enemy north once he crosses the Fulda in strength, so Company B will move to BP 16 to destroy any enemy that slips past BP 12.
"The battle to cross the Fulda should destroy two MRB. As we fight in depth east of Breitenbach, the final MRR should become combat ineffective. This will force the commitment of the ITB or a second-echelon division around Breitenbach. Company B will cover the task force movement from the Fulda positions to the Breitenbach positions. Our task force's ability to hold this area is key to the successful execution of the brigade counterattack to Objective LYNX. To improve our capability, this area will be the focus of our countermobility effort and all survivability positions created will be two-tiered. From BPs 15, 17, 20, and 35 we will hold the nose, as the brigade counterattack kicks them in their rear and flanks at either Objective LYNX or along the west side of the Fulda. The enemy will either push along the north side of Breitenbach toward Gehau or south toward Grebenau. We need to be ready for both. At this point in the battle, either the divisional ITB will be committed, if the enemy commander perceives success, or a second-echelon division. We will call the main attack the ITB, and will maneuver to defeat it. If a second-echelon division is committed the BMP MRR or the tank regiment will be the main attack. If we get both, we will need to get brigade assistance to continue to defend. To defeat the main attack we will maneuver at least one company away from the enemy supporting attack to concentrate against his main effort. The longer we slow his forward momentum, the better the chances the brigade counterattack will succeed. Scouts need to position a section just west of BPs 17 and 20. Be prepared to maintain contact with his supporting attack with one section while the other helps a company occupy either BP 21 or BPs 18 and 19 to meet their main attack. By the time we are in this fight, the first-echelon division should be destroyed and the second-echelon division of ITB should be fully engaged. Once the brigade counterattack is committed, I will be looking for an opportunity to conduct a hasty attack to destroy the enemy in our immediate front and reestablish at least the Breitenbach positions. More than that, and we will need major resupply and significant counterobstacle engineer effort.
"OK, remember this is just a tentative plan, so don't go final until after I'm back from the brigade order. In the meantime, company commanders, go and work on your plan for your first two BPs while the XO and the loggies figure how to support this operation (see Figure 4-137)."
Company Team Defense Plan
Before leaving the task force TOC, the Team D commander made arrangements with the Team A commander to cross-attach a platoon. Once complete, he turned his attention to BP 3. He understood that his primary mission in this BP was to concentrate his team fires toward the area west of Steinbach. By conducting a map recon, he could see that his position was excellent for doing this, but it was also vulnerable from the east. He was glad that he would have the advantage of planning the defense on the actual ground. This way, he would not be caught short by inaccurate maps (see Figure 4-138).
He passes through his company AA and instructs the XO to move the company to an AA south of Wehrda while he takes the FSO and platoon leaders forward to BP 3. He explains that the area around Wehrda is the team's second position, and that once there, the XO and platoon sergeants should conduct a thorough reconnaissance. When the tentative plan for BP 3 is ready, he will return and lead reconnaissance to include all leaders down to track commanders. With that, he and the platoon leaders pile into his HMMWV and speed off to BP 3.
Once in BP 3, the commander outlines his tentative plan. He begins by explaining where he thinks the enemy will come from. The primary approach will be the open terrain west of Steinbach. He determines that up to an MRB could use this route. He also expresses concern that an MRB could force its way south of Steinbach into the flank of BP 3. The first approach would be ideal, but the second would force the team to maneuver to supplemental positions. The possibility exists that the enemy could put one MRB on each avenue of approach simultaneously. This would be the worst case, but one for which the team must plan.
The commander next relates where he wants to destroy the enemy on each avenue. Looking at the one west of Steinbach, he decides to destroy the enemy at CP 3 and the white ball running west of Steinbach. The close range will increase the number of first-round kills and improve the effectiveness of the Bradley's 25-mm cannon. BP 3 is also large enough to position one platoon on the flank of the enemy avenue of approach. To the east, he establishes the wood line east of the candystripe as a trigger line. It will not allow massed fires against the enemy, but most shots will be into the flank, which will be effective.
With these considerations in mind, he and the platoon leaders begin to select tentative platoon positions. They agree that one tank platoon should be on each avenue with supplemental positions on the other. The M2's TOW will be most effective west of Steinbach, and the platoon's dismounted weapons best used in the east. Because of this, the dismounts and M2's will be assigned two adjacent positions. The carriers and a tank platoon will immediately support the dismounts. In addition, the commander will change the size of the BP. He will get the task force to include the woods east of Hill 351. The BP will then be large enough to observe and fight both approaches. With this, the commander prepares the graphics in Figure 4-139.
The platoon leaders and the commander move out and walk each platoon position. They ensure that there is adequate space for the platoon to fight and maneuver, and begin to make an engineer work list. This work list includes individual fighting positions for the dismounted platoon, vehicle fighting positions for the Bradleys and tanks in BPs C, E, and then A, improvement of two or three trails for internal mobility, and the emplacement of disruptive minefields.
Once the walkabout is complete, the commander sends the platoon leaders to link up with the company. While they were gone, the commander and the FSO walked out to the area targeted for the mortar smoke. They confirmed the limit of the smoke so it would obcsure the following MRCs, but not the company EA. The commander tells the FSO that he will be responsible for firing this target when the tank and Bradley platoons open fire. The commander tells the FSO that he will get the task force to designate this a mortar priority target. He is to get the exact grids of the targets using the G/VLLD, and select a position for his FISTV that would be able to observe this group. They then begin to walk the area and select tentative disrupting obstacle locations. The commander again tells the FSO to confirm the locations using the G/VLLD. The FSO will also plan indirect fires to cover the obstacle. The commander explains that these obstacles will increase the time the company can engage the enemy. During his reconnaissance of the BP, he also decides to use some blade time to improve the railroad embankment to make it a blocking obstacle covered by the dismounts from the Bradleys.
When the platoon leaders rejoin the commander at the BP, he briefs all the assembled leaders on the tentative plan. He then sends the FSO in his FISTV to CP 3 on the road that was Trigger Line West. He also sends his own tank to CP 30. Once in position, each platoon leader selects vehicle and individual firing positions that can see and engage these two points. As the platoon leaders do this, the commander uses his HMMWV to move from platoon BP to platoon BP to check the individual positions and supervise the platoon leaders. When they are finished, the platoon leaders go back to the AA and return to their platoons.
The commander arranges with the task force to have two bulldozers support the team. These arrive shortly after the platoons. The 1SG takes control of these, and supervises fighting position preparation. At the same time, two engineer platoons arrive to begin emplacing the disrupting obstacles. The commander and the engineer company commander decide on the exact location before emplacement begins. To speed things up, eight men per platoon are detailed to break down the mines' packing material to allow the engineers to concentrate on fusing and emplacing the mines. The first tank platoon is assigned to guard these minefields. The tank PSG checks with the FSO to ensure that these obstacles are covered with indirect fires.
While the platoons continue work on weapons range cards, sector sketches, and protective obstacles, the commander and the XO begin to reconnoiter mutes out of the BP. They have to come up with a plan to get from BP 3 to BP 5 and avoid the obstacle on the bridge at grid 488212. During their reconnaissance, they find a ford site just south of the bridge at 501194. They decide to use this if two platoons have to cross the river at once. The company combat trains will establish a position near the bridge and ford, and guard them for the team. The commander makes a mental note to have three vehicle positions dug for the trains in this area. He will also see if the engineers can prepare the bridge for destruction. This will allow someone in the team to cut off any following enemy, and the combat trains can execute the obstacle.
The commander goes back to BP 3 to continue the preparation. He begins with a leaders rehearsal. He supervises the platoon leaders' beginning and ending engagements and their use of the routes out of BP 3. He then gives orders for each platoon to rehearse these moves while he goes back to BP 5 to conduct his reconnaissance (see Figure 4-140).
When he returns, he conducts a full team rehearsal. Using the maintenance Ml13 as the enemy, he starts it at the smoke target and moves it to BP 3. Each vehicle confirms where it can engage the advancing enemy. When the "enemy" reaches trigger points, the FSO or platoon leaders radio in their platoons' actions. The mechanized platoon begins its mounting drill according to plan and begins movement to BP 5. The tank platoons withdraw to BP 5 according to plan, and as the last tank flashes its VS-17 panel while clearing the bridge, the 1SG radios that he blew the bridge. The commander orders the platoons back to position and conducts the rehearsal again. He then rehearses with the enemy attacking through and south of Steinbach.
The team conducts a LOGPAC in Wehrda while the commander goes over his tentative plan for BP 5. Once the platoon leaders understand where the enemy will come from, where the commander wants to destroy him, and the general locations of their platoons, the commander gives orders to move to BP 5 and begin preparation under the XO's supervision. He and the FSO are off to get the final task force order.
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