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10 Steps to a Better BSA Defense

by LTC Chip Carroll, Sr FSB O/C, CMTC

INTRODUCTION

The Combat Training Center experience provides FSBs an excellent opportunity to realistically exercise Brigade Support Area defense, and fully integrate rear area combat operations with the close and deep fights of the Brigade. Perhaps the greatest challenge FSBs face is finding the balance between providing continuous Combat Service Support and conducting security operations. One realizes quickly that protecting the force becomes both a task and a condition under which CSS operations must occur.

Simply stated, there is inverse relationship between the continuum of conflict and the spectrum of support. This obviously has a profound impact on CSS production (Figure 1).

Continuum of Conflict(2k)

Consequently, a force protection plan for the BSA must be efficient, effective and flexible - rapidly accommodating changes in threat without impeding critical CSS operations.

This article presents 10 practical steps to assist logisticians in planning, preparing and executing the BSA defense, maximizing combat multipliers and fully integrating BSA security operations with both brigade and DISCOM. These points amplify the principles of FM 63-20, Forward Support Battalion, as tactics, techniques and procedures. The focus of this article concerns systems which, once accessed, contribute to a more viable BSA defense.

STEP 1: ENSURE YOU HAVE THE TOOLS YOU NEED TO
PLAN AND CONDUCT A DEFENSE.

A. Write, publish and validate Battalion and Company T/FSOPs prior to arrival at a CTC. SOPs should include base defense planning requirements, base cluster operations center (BCOC) coordination techniques and command and signal standards.

B. The Brigade should provide all necessary orders, overlays and intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) products, including modified combined obstacle and fire support overlays, A2C2 data and Terrain/Weather analysis. CSS leaders must use these tools to locate, evaluate, and occupy the most advantageous terrain. Use the principles of OCOKA (Observation and Fields of Fire, Concealment and Cover, Obstacles, Key Terrain, Avenues of Approach) in conjunction with the modified combined obstacle overlay to locate the BSA. Units must support the commander's plans while enhancing sustainability and survivability - knowing the terrain provides a key advantage.

C. The DISCOM should provide the bulk of the data needed to conduct required logistical IPB. Terrain, routes, and security considerations impact heavily on both Corps and Main Support Battalions throughout capability. A defensive plan must facilitate the support concepts of Corps and Division, considering limitations imposed by COSCOM vehicle types and risk to line-haul assets.

D. Develop and rehearse reporting procedures, keeping in mind that the FSB must send and receive data from both Brigade and DISCOM. External communications links must be redundant - do not depend exclusively on FM radios. Include Multiple Subscriber Equipment (MSE), wire, and AM radios in communications plans. Consider local national assets available, both telephone and radio, and use them whenever possible.

E. Consider the use of an FSB liaison officer at the brigade TOC. While this practice has a cost, the timeliness of intelligence products, battletracking and enhanced battlefield visualization offset the impact of personnel loss.

STEP 2: SYNCHRONIZE BSA DEFENSES BY BOSs
(BATTLE FIELD OPERATING SYSTEMS)
.

A. Intelligence. Template the threat, from the air and ground. Establish logistical PIRs that key BSA early warning systems. Identify NAIs and brief all personnel on the situation, mission and commander's intent for the day. Focused intelligence gathering produces better results.

B. Command and Control. Rehearse actions for the most likely enemy course of action and all forms of internal communication. Establish redundancy with critical nodes, such as LP/OPs. Remember the dynamic nature of integrating the close, deep and rear battle. FSBs must track events across the entire Brigade area, and anticipate the impact in the BSA. Rehearse balanced responses to level I, II, and III threats.

C. Fire Support. Use threat avenues of approach to establish TAIs and target reference points (TRPs). Ensure TRPs are rehearsed and compliment natural and manmade obstacles. Keep eyes on the TRP, either with LP/OPs or patrols, and remember the requirement to adjust fires to achieve effectiveness. Include all TAIs in the BSA R& plan, and incorporate these areas in the overall Brigade plan.

D. Maneuver. Establish and rehearse reaction force routes to danger areas, particularly in an armor/mechanized threat environment. Practice fire and maneuver techniques with AT weapons. Ensure BSA Battle Captains understand actions on contact, critical CSS assets and hasty displacement triggers/plans.

E. Air Defense. Ensure the SHORAD Air Defense umbrella in the BSA is augmented by HIMAD coverage, and synchronized with the Brigade system. Identify threat and friendly air avenues of approach on all BSA graphics. Rehearse changes in ADA weapons status with all tenant units, and practice passive air defense measures.

F. Combat Service Support. Establish all Class IV requirements for the BSA and forecast appropriately. Class IV barrier and construction material distribution systems must facilitate rapid distribution, and planning should include materials handling equipment and transport required. Consider METT-T in formulating Class V forecasts, particularly AT weapons, claymore mines and TOW rounds. Require units to ensure the serviceability of specialized equipment, such as night vision devices, for defensive operations.

G. Mobility/Countermobility/Survivability. Include M8 alarms in initial plans and adjust locations based on chemical threat updates. Continuous security, from initial occupation through a mature perimeter, must govern priorities of work. Request engineer support early and include BSA requirements in engineer priorities.

STEP 3: PLAN AND EXECUTE A PROACTIVE RECONNAISSANCE AND
SURVEILLANCE PLAN, USING ALL AVAILABLE ASSETS
.

A. Use MPs, Maintenance Support Teams, ambulance crews, recovery teams and any other means to keep eyes on critical terrain and routes. Formalize debriefing procedures for anyone traveling in or out of the Brigade area. Establish and assign both route and area observation responsibilities to BSA tenants as early as possible, and require regular updates, based on the tactical situation.

B. Link the BSA R& plan to both Brigade and DISCOM intelligence gathering efforts, highlighting NAIs, TAIs, critical routes and choke points. Maintain an accurate and timely flow of data in both directions. Ensure a standardized reporting format (SALUTE), establish disciplined reporting procedures and rapidly translate reports to graphics.

STEP 4: INCORPORATE ALL AVAILABLE COMBAT POWER
INTO THE DEFENSE.

A. Include everything in your planning that can generate combat power - ORF vehicles, combat systems in maintenance, missile systems and units conducting refitting operations in the Brigade rear. In short, know, locate, and use everything in the BSA for the defense.

B. Require the S-4 to forecast and procure ammunition for ORFs. Assign and train ORF crews to minimal combat proficiency.

C. Rehearse Level III threat response with the Brigade tactical combat force, DISCOM, and Division. Coordinate reenforcement drills with the closest maneuver unit. Identify and rehearse all TRPs with the Tactical Combat Force (TCF).

STEP 5: WHEN PLANNING DEFENSES, CONSIDER THE EXPANSION AND
THE CONTRACTION OF THE BSA

A. Plan perimeter adjustments in advance. Use supplementary positions to collapse the perimeter during those periods when large numbers of soldiers are fueling, fixing or treating forward. Design perimeter forms, such as outer, intermediate and inner rings, based on METT-T, and establish thresholds for implementation.

Adjusting the Perimeter(7k)

B. Develop multiple defense plans for all contingencies. Conduct a daily analysis of threat data, unit capabilities and future operations. The development of a base plan modified to suit METT-T and changing requirements will ensure a more effective and efficient protection of the force.

C. The best opportunity for a daily defensive review occurs during the daily BSA tenants' meeting (see Step 10).

STEP 6: REHEARSE THE OCCUPATION OF THE DEFENSIVE PERIMETER IN
ALL CONFIGURATIONS, DURING DAYLIGHT, AT NIGHT
AND UNDER NBC CONDITIONS.

A. Develop a system of sound, light and radio signals for rapid perimeter occupation. Perimeter form 1, for example, with 100 percent of assigned personnel manning the outer perimeter, becomes one long horn or whistle blast. Perimeter form 2, which might be the inner ring of supplementary positions manned by 50 percent of assigned personnel, might be two short horn or whistle blasts.

Adjusting the Perimeter(7k)

B. Integrate fires, ADA, Reaction Forces, Military Police and any other combat multiplier into rehearsals. Conduct route reconnaissance, establish time/distance factors to danger areas, rally points for battle positions. Synchronize BSA activities with Brigade and DISCOM, and rehearse emergency notification procedures for all levels of threat.

C. Rehearse the echeloning of critical support assets in and out of the BSA. Exercise hasty displacement plans and routes.

D. Rehearse command and control techniques, ensuring tenants understand how the BSA will be defended and who conducts the fight.

STEP 7: ESTABLISH AND REHEARSE THE BASE/CLUSTER
REACTION FORCE (RF).

A. Train the RF in fire and maneuver techniques and teach the RF to fight as a team. Stabilize RF personnel to preclude continuous retraining, and fully integrate MPs into the process.

B. Identify a clear chain of command for the RF and provide the RF commander with adequate communications equipment. The RF commander should monitor the battalion command net.

C. Ensure the RF commander has an SOI extract for fire support, aviation, Brigade TCF, engineer and medical radio nets before any mission or rehearsal.

D. Exercise the movement of the RF during perimeter defense rehearsals to minimize fratricide potential. Pre-position transportation assets, with operators, if rapid road movement is required. Whenever possible, select a 5-ton truck with ring-mounted .50 cal machine gun for the RF.

STEP 8: PROTECT CRITICAL CSS PERSONNEL.

A. Avoid tasking a company or platoon to provide a specified number of personnel, without regard to MOS, criticality of function or skill level, to perform security functions. Units should conduct a daily analysis of critical CSS functions and man their perimeter such that required shops, activities and functions can continue operations. Determine shortage MOS, and compare them to the priority activities of the day. The loss of low density MOS personnel may mean the loss of capability.

B. Perimeter forces must be in direct proportion to threat, while preserving critical CSS functions. Require companies and sections to develop incremental security responses to preclude the loss of an entire functional capability. This perimeter force, changing in increments of 25 percent, will preclude an "all or nothing" defense (See Figure 2).

STEP 9: CLEARLY STATE THE LOGISTICAL PRIORITIES OF THE DAY.

A. The logistical priorities of the day/mission must be understood by all logisticians. The Brigade and Battalion order will provide the basis for operations, but the fine tuning of systems and allocation of assets at unit level may require clarification. Continuous operations require careful management of limited resources, personnel and equipment, while soldiers protect the BSA.

B. Changing logistical priorities as the maneuver force transitions from one operation to another may require a further adjustment of defensive plans. The FSB must be prepared to accommodate these eventualities by rapidly assembling critical equipment, personnel or commodities on short notice to meet an emerging need. Anticipation of requirements and a detailed knowledge of available assets throughout a mission sequence becomes invaluable.

STEP 10: CONDUCT DAILY BSA TENANTS' MEETINGS.

A. The daily tenants' meeting provides the BSA leadership the best opportunity to refine the defensive plan of the day/mission. Given the ADA, Engineer, Artillery and maneuver representation, a quick adjustment of the base plan becomes simple - and routine. Movement of units, field trains and logistics assets can be charted and perimeters adjusted.

B. Threat data, weather, routes, logistical throughput, movement, and myriad security topics can be discussed, refined and adjusted, and critical MOS, personnel shortages and equipment status reviewed. Intelligence-gathering priorities, obstacle and mobility issues and position improvement priorities can be presented. In short, the analytical processing of crucial data on terrain, routes, security, and sustainment takes place in this forum daily.

CONCLUSION

In summary, the dynamic nature of war and continuous operations requires logisticians to identify and use all economies and efficiencies. Good planning, using maximum available data, followed by a well-rehearsed and synchronized preparation will improve execution of force protection and sustainment operations. Force protection must be an analytically derived plan, keeping support maximized under all threat levels, and maintaining the flexibility to accommodate the large numbers of soldiers moving in and out of the BSA on a daily basis. Fluid management of security tracks with the logistical imperatives of continuity, anticipation, responsiveness, integration, and improvisation.

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