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PART M - LIMITED VISIBILITY TECHNIQUES

Platoons that have mastered tactical and technical requirements fight effectively even when visibility is limited. Darkness limits visibility on the battlefield; however other conditions also limit visibility. They are almost as common as darkness but less predictable and more difficult to deal with. Smoke and suppressive fire, which can severely limit local visibility, are used in all armies. Dust and smoke caused by fire and movement of soldiers often obscure parts of the battlefield. Optic systems provide a distinct advantage. One technique is to use all the platoon's Dragon trackers (daysights and nightsights) 24 hours a day. Thermal sights can be used in the day, in smoke and dust; and the daysight can be used at night along with illumination. Using both sights doubles the number of Dragons that can be employed. Smoke and dust are especially critical to the effective employment of long-range direct-fire weapons. This causes the platoon to decrease the range to engagement areas. Rain, falling snow, fog, and dust also limit visibility. Most night vision devices and battlefield illumination are less effective during these conditions. Therefore, the platoon employs traditional dismounted infantry skills. Observation posts and patrols are used for early warning. Ground surveillance radars and directed-energy weapons also provide early warning, but basic skills, competence, discipline, and leadership are essential.

1.  Equipment Considerations. The BFV has the following equipment capabilities to be considered when planning.

a.  The driver's night vision viewer allows him to see during darkness to move the BFV and to observe rounds fired from the turret weapons. Night vision goggles allow the Bradley commander to observe from his opened hatch to control movement and provide close-in security. The integrated sight unit's thermal sight gives the gunner and Bradley commander the capability to see and engage targets during almost any visibility condition.

b.  Even though the BFV can operate during limited visibility, certain factors must be considered when planning. The driver can see to drive but the range and fixed field of view limits his ability to provide close-in observation. The gunner has excellent range with the integrated sight unit but his field of view is narrow. Soldiers using binoculars in the troop compartment have difficulty observing through periscopes and they may be blinded temporarily by bright flashes of light caused by weapons fire and explosions. This results in security being degraded, especially to the rear and flanks.

WARNING

TO OPERATE THE TURRET WHEN THE HATCH IS OPEN, PERSONNEL MUST ENSURE IT IS ON COMBAT OVERRIDE. THE GUNNER AND BRADLEY COMMANDER MUST REMEMBER THAT THE TURRET WEAPONS POSE A DANGER TO PERSONNEL OBSERVING FROM THE CARGO HATCH, ESPECIALLY IF THE WEAPONS ARE IN THE STABILIZED MODE. THE 7.62-MM COAX COULD BE ACCIDENTALLY FIRED INTO THE TROOP HATCH AND THE 25-MM GUN COULD BE DAMAGED BY STRIKING IT.

c.  Weather, smoke, and dust lower the effectiveness of the platoon's observation equipment. The integrated sight unit's thermal capability is limited by heavy rain, dense fog, or falling snow. The TOW is also affected. In some cases, the thermal sight's capability of penetrating fog or smoke exceeds the capability of the missile's guidance system to track and control the missile. This means the gunners may not be able to hit a target with the TOW, even though the target is in range and seen through the sight. The 25-mm gun and 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun are not affected by this problem.

d.  The effectiveness of image intensification devices (driver's viewer, Bradley commander's goggles, starlight scopes) is reduced by rain, falling snow, fog, and smoke. Because these devices intensify light from the moon and stars, the effectiveness of the devices is reduced on dark nights. These visibility limitations require slower rates of movement and tighter formations, and they limit the platoon's flank security. The Bradley commander's ability to detect targets and control fires is reduced, and coordination between the vehicle element and the dismount element becomes even more difficult.

e.  Before an operation, leaders check the effectiveness of their night vision equipment to determine the effects of light, weather, and smoke. Visibility conditions may also change abruptly during an operation. This requires constant reevaluation of employment considerations.

2.  Limited Visibility Offense. Infantry platoons and squads often conduct offensive operations during limited visibility. These are normal operations. Platoon and squads must train to operate during all conditions. Limited visibility attacks are conducted to retain momentum of an operation started in good visibility. They achieve surprise, exploit success, or rupture strong enemy defenses. Leaders may take advantage of the BFV's capability to operate during limited visibility because enemy antiarmor fires will be less effective. Leaders may also want to gain a more favorable position from which they can continue the attack when visibility improves. They should also consider using smoke to create favorable limited visibility conditions on demand.

3.  Movement Considerations. Movement is difficult during limited visibility. When selecting movement techniques and formations, leaders consider the likelihood of enemy contact and the difficulty of control. Distances between soldiers or vehicles are usually shortened to ease control. Finally, leaders must guard against a false sense of security by thinking darkness will conceal them. They must assume the enemy has night vision devices; and must use cover, concealment, and smoke as in daylight.

a.  If possible, routes are reconnoitered during good visibility. If ground reconnaissance is not possible, a detailed map reconnaissance is vital, keying on terrain features to be crossed and distances involved. Ridgelines, railroads, creeks, and other identifiable features are used as guides. Movement should parallel such terrain features, because the enemy will have them covered by observation and fire. Friendly mortar and artillery fires are also used to assist navigation. By planning targets along the route on prominent, easily recognizable terrain features, leaders can call for these fires as needed. These targets are on dominant features that the leader will avoid. This allows him to call for a specific target and verify where he is without endangering his squad or platoon.

b.  When moving dismounted, the attacker has the greatest advantage of surprise. Light and noise discipline must be enforced. When the platoon is moving mounted, vehicle sounds may alert the enemy. The enemy may have difficulty locating the platoon, because it is difficult to pinpoint a moving vehicle by sound only. Lights are a greater danger. Blackout lights and filtered lights are visible through vision blocks and can be detected from great distances with passive night vision devices or the naked eye.

4.  Movement Formations. The platoon uses the following movement formations during limited visibility.

a.  Mounted. The column and wedge formations are the easiest to control. The platoon leader's BFV serves as the base vehicle in either formation. The platoon sergeant guides on the platoon leader and wingmen guide on their section leaders (platoon leader and platoon sergeant). The line formation is the most difficult to control. When the driver is looking through his night vision viewer to the front, he cannot maintain visual contact with flank BFVs. Therefore, the leader uses the line formation only to move short distances.

b.  Dismounted. Many of the considerations for mounted formations apply to dismounted formations. Squads move close together for better control, and soldiers should be close enough to see each other. Leaders should be near the front of the formation for movement control.

5.  Movement Techniques. When visibility is limited by darkness only, the platoon should move using any of the movement techniques, making only minor adjustments as previously discussed. When smoke, fog, or falling snow limits visibility, the platoon's ability to provide overwatch may be reduced. In all conditions of limited visibility, the loss of security to the flanks and rear is a major consideration in movement planning.

a.  A platoon moving by traveling overwatch keys its movement on the lead element. The distance between elements is based on the ability of the overwatch element to keep the lead element in sight. The integrated sight unit on the BFV should not be used as the primary means for maintaining visual contact. This requires the gunner and Bradley commander to watch the bounding element rather than to watch for the enemy.

b.  When the traveling technique is used, the lack of flank security becomes an even more important consideration. The wedge formation allows a greater number of thermal sights to be used, and they should be used if the terrain permits.

6.  Navigation Technique. Navigation during limited visibility becomes difficult. Vehicle thermal sights and night vision goggles aid leaders, but it is still easy to confuse terrain features and to become disoriented or overshoot objectives. BCs find it difficult to switch from reading a map to viewing terrain through goggles. Constant practice improves the leader's ability to navigate at night. Soldiers must be thoroughly briefed on the type of terrain and the general environment they will encounter, including water sources (if any) landmarks or significant permanent terrain features, friendly and enemy areas of operation, and prevailing winds. This information will assist in navigation if reconnaissance units or individuals become separated from their units.

a.  Compass and Odometer. One method of navigating during limited visibility is to use a compass (dismounted) and the odometer. This can be done as follows (see Figure 2-123 for an example):

Figure 2-123. Route Chart.

    • Divide the route or operation into legs or parts, each with a unique direction and distance and a checkpoint to find.
    • Measure the map distance of each leg or part.
    • Determine the azimuth of each leg or part.
    • Develop a chart to include the legs or parts, azimuths, and distances. Also, write a description of each leg or part.
    • Use the odometer to measure the distance traveled.
    • Review the written description of the route to help prevent navigational errors.
    • Set the turret in the direction of movement and keep the stabilization on.

b.  Gyro Compass. An efficient gun azimuth stabilizer used on nearly flat ground is useful for maintaining direction.

c.  Fires. Planned tracer fire assists in maintaining bearing, and field artillery and mortar concentrations preferably smoke (or illumination at night) are useful checks on estimated locations.

d.  Radars. If the position of a radar is known, it can measure range and bearing and therefore locate the position of a vehicle.

e.  Global Positioning Systems. These systems are receivers that receive signals from satellites or land-based emitters and calculate and display the position of the user in military grid coordinates and latitude and longitude degrees. Leaders must continue to use map and compass navigation as the primary means, because satellite signals can be interrupted by vegetation, weather, or other masking features; or the inoperative emitters.

(1)  Waypoints. The navigational functions of GPSs are based on waypoints. A waypoint is a known position entered into GPS's memory. Waypoints can be entered as either degrees latitude or longitude or as military grid coordinates. Waypoints or the platoon's position can be entered at various times.

(2)  Navigation. To navigate, points along the route or the destination point is identified. Next, these points are entered as waypoints. Then, the platoon moves from waypoint to waypoint. To find the distance and direction between two known points, they must first be entered as waypoints.

(3)  Range and Bearing. To find the range and bearing to a known point, that point must first be entered as a waypoint. GPS stores the present position and then computes the distance and direction to the known point. As the platoon approaches the waypoint, the range decreases until the platoon is within a given distance of the waypoint. At that time, an alarm will sound indicating that the platoon has reached the waypoint. Then, the range and bearing to the next waypoint can be displayed.

(4)  Cross-Country Navigation. When navigating cross country, the bearing shown by the GPS can be followed from point to point. Obstacles en route will force detours from the route from time to time. When an obstacle forces a detour of more than a few meters, the GPS can assist the platoon in getting back on course. Some GPSs display the distance that the platoon is off course, a new course to the waypoint, and an estimated time to arrive based on the speed for the last two minutes. The left or right arrow shows the direction to the original course. The arrow shows the direction the platoon needs to turn and a new bearing to the waypoint. If the platoon needs to reach the desired point and the route to it is not important, then the platoon follows the indicated course. The course shown is the new direction the waypoint and will not return to the original course. If the original course must be used, then the platoon uses the direction of the arrow and travels the distance indicated until the GPS shows no error.

(5)  Road March. GPS can be useful on road marches in identifying checkpoints or coordination points on long roads without distinctive features. The waypoint for the checkpoint is entered and the range and bearing display is selected. Then, the platoon moves until the alarm sounds. In this case, the bearing to the waypoint is of little use, because the platoon is following a road and there will be numerous deviations from the straight-line bearing. If the platoon enters a road at an unknown point, the bearing could be a quick way to determine the direction to the waypoint.

(6)  Offensive Operations. The GPS can locate a platoon's position within an assembly area. A waypoint with the grid location of the center unit's area ensures proper placement within the assembly area. Waypoints at the start point, the release point, and along the route help to guide the unit to the line of departure.

(a)  After crossing the line of departure, key points along the axis of advance can be entered as waypoints to help guide the platoon. Additional waypoints on checkpoints or coordination points help to identify their locations.

(b)  Phase lines are necessary to coordination of the attack, but the terrain does not always lend itself to easily identifiable phase lines. With the GPS, phase lines can be placed without reliance on terrain features. The border alert feature sounds an alarm when the platoon reaches a designated line on the ground. The same method can be used for locating a limit of advance line.

(c)  Once on the objective, the platoon consolidates and reorganizes. In directing the platoon's defensive fire orientation, a distant point (such as a TRP) can be selected and entered as a waypoint. The platoon then takes a range and bearing to the point and uses that bearing as its orientation. If fuel and ammunition resupply is not performed at the platoon location, that site can be entered as a waypoint to aid in its location; likewise, for collection points for maintenance, EPWs, and wounded.

(7)  Defensive Operations. In establishing a battle position, the platoon can use the anchor watch feature of most GPSs to ensure that all elements are within the proper area. The anchor watch sounds an alarm whenever the platoon gets too far from a designated point. The desired range is entered. The range is the distance from the center point that the platoon will go before sounding an alarm. Once a vehicle has established its location on primary and subsequent battle positions, that location can be saved as a waypoint to aid in finding it again later.

(a)  GPS can also assist movement from one battle position to another, particularly during limited visibility. During the reconnaissance and rehearsal of the route, the platoon enters the waypoints at all critical locations (such as trail crossings, fords, obstacles, or turns). To do this, whenever the platoon comes to a critical point, it stops and saves the present position as a waypoint. Each point is saved in sequence. Then the platoon can follow the sequence of waypoints between the battle positions.

(b)  Waypoints can also be used to ensure orientation of fires using the range bearing feature.

(c)  Movements, in a passage of lines, the unit that establishes the passage can give grid coordinates of entry points, release points, and critical turns to the passing unit. These coordinates are entered as waypoints. The passing unit can then follow the waypoints and ensure a safe passage without danger of getting lost or wandering into obstacles.

7.  Identification. One of the platoon leader's problems is recognizing his own vehicles at night. Platoons employ several techniques for vehicle identification to avoid fratricide and to enhance command and control. Using color-coded lights on the rear of the turret is a common technique (for example, red lights for A section, blue for B section, and green for dismount elements). Lights must be dim so they are not visible from the front, but can still be seen from the rear. Chemical light stick combinations can also be used. Another technique is to use white or luminous tape to outline the geometric design and numbers of the platoon's tactical marking system. Another technique is to use hot packs, which can be ordered through the Class VIII supply channels.

8.  Attacks. Attacks during limited visibility require more control measures than attacks during good visibility. In limited visibility, objectives are normally smaller and the distance to them shorter. Plans must be kept simple but complete and understood by all to prevent fratricide and to enhance mission accomplishment. If time and the enemy situation permit, leaders should reconnoiter routes and observe the objective area during good visibility, at dusk, and during darkness. Indirect fire should be planned for suppression and illumination during darkness. Whether the attack is mounted or dismounted, every soldier should rehearse his portion of the plan to ensure complete understanding throughout the platoon.

a.  There are several ways the commander may attack during limited visibility. If the attack is to be done during darkness, he may illuminate the battlefield using indirect fire. The driver's VVS-2 fades out while illumination is being used. This blinds the driver. The leader should consider having only half of the platoon use VVS-2. If the leader wishes to take advantage of limited visibility conditions or cannot adequately illuminate the battlefield, he may consider dismounting short of the objective. He may also attack dismounted and use stealth to gain surprise. If the LD or assault position is close enough to the objective, BFV thermal sights can be used to vector dismounted infantry to the objective, and then support the dismounted assault with direct fire.

b.  An illuminated night attack is conducted similar to a daylight attack. Even with illumination, soldiers cannot see well enough to fight effectively mounted. Illumination, however, aids control and allows rapid movement. It also improves the enemy's ability to detect targets. Illumination fires are planned and called as needed--normally for the assault. Smoke can reduce the effectiveness of enemy battlefield illumination as well as his night vision devices. Indirect HE fire may hide the sound of the BFVs as well as to suppress enemy gunners. Thermal sights work with or without light equally well and should be used by the vehicle element as it fires into the objective. Illumination rounds can be fired to burn on the ground to help orient movement.

c.  The commander may decide to attack mounted if enemy fire is ineffective, to maintain momentum against an enemy occupying hastily prepared positions. This allows platoons to close rapidly on the objective, and it conserves the strength of the dismount teams.

d.  In a dismounted attack, the platoon moves mounted as close as practical to the objective. Dismount points are determined during the planning process. Actions at the dismount point, equipment needed, and use of BFVs must be planned and rehearsed. The dismount element dismounts and assaults the objective while the fighting vehicle element provides supporting fire. During the assault, the fighting vehicle element leader must closely control the element's fires to ensure enemy is suppressed and to avoid endangering dismounted soldiers. A prearranged signal, such as a-pyrotechnic device or code word, to lift or shift fires is crucial in limited visibility operations due to the inability of the crew to clearly distinguish between friendly infantry and enemy. As soon as the objective is seized, the vehicle element moves to the objective area. The platoon should have a prearranged signal, such as a blinking, filtered flashlight, to help the fighting vehicle element locate and join the dismounted element. The platoon leader selects positions on or near the objective for the BFVs and squads, and requires each fire team to provide a vehicle guide to simplify movement into positions.

e.  Even though a nonilluminated attack is planned, leaders must plan illumination from the LD to the objective so, if needed, it is available. Once the assault starts, illumination on the objective may help detect targets and enhance command and control.

f.  The platoon leader also plans for the use of smoke during the attack. If the enemy fires illumination, the platoon leader can find smoke on known enemy positions or use smoke to screen movement. Smoke also reduces the effectiveness of most of the enemy's night vision devices.

g.  The main advantage gained by attacking dismounted and using stealth is surprise. Attacks by stealth can be conducted during any condition of reduced visibility. The concept of a dismounted attack using stealth is to get as close as possible to the enemy's position without a fight; then, before he can react, surprise and overwhelm him. This also allows the dismounted infantry to advance to a position of advantage where it can support a subsequent attack by tanks from a position of close overwatch during daylight.

h.  The mission of the fighting vehicle element is to support the dismount element by fire. In the commander's OPORD, the fighting vehicle element is normally assigned a support-by-fire position, a sector of fire, and a route to the objective. The platoon leader designates a support-by-fire position and a sector of fire for each section. He also specifies how he plans to control their fire. The vehicle element leader positions the BFVs and provides command and control to the mounted element. The platoon leader selects the route for the dismount element and their objective.

i.  If vehicle noise will alert the enemy, the BFV moves as close as it can to the overwatch position and halts. From there, an observer or Bradley commander can be sent forward to observe the sector of fire and assist the fighting vehicles when they move into the their exact positions.

j.  Once the objective is seized, the fighting vehicle element moves quickly to the objective and occupies hull-down positions just as in a daylight attack. The dismount element provides guides to lead the vehicles to their positions.

k.  Control measures used for a limited visibility attack are the same as those for an attack during good visibility. However, some adjustments may have to be made.

(1)  Attack Position. An attack position is short of the LD, provides cover and concealment, and permits easy entry and exit. It is used to ensure coordinated effort by the entire force. It may or may not be used. During limited visibility, it may be closer to the LD and smaller than during good visibility.

(2)  Line of Departure. An LD is designated to coordinate the commitment of attacking units at a specified time, the same as during good visibility.

(3)  Point of Departure. A point of departure is designated, because it is critical all movements be closely coordinated. Squads, section, or platoon may be assigned such a specific point to cross the LD.

(4)  Release Point. Each company commander releases control of his platoons to the platoon leaders at the company RP. RPs are far enough from the objective to allow units to deploy before they reach the probable line of deployment.

(5)  Route. The company commander normally picks the routes from the company RP to platoon RPs. Platoon leaders pick routes from platoon RPs to the squad RPs.

(6)  Probable Line of Deployment. The company commander may designate a PLD. This is the approximate place he plans to have the dismounted element complete deployment for the assault, if not yet detected. From the PLD, the dismount element begins its assault using fire and movement.

(7)  Objectives. The company commander assigns each platoon an objective, which is part of the company objective. These are easy-to-identify terrain features.

(8)  Limit of Advance. To keep friendly supporting fires from falling on friendly dismounted troops, leaders may designate a limit of advance. It should be a terrain feature easy to recognize during limited visibility. Assaulting elements do not advance beyond this feature. This allows supporting fires beyond the objective without endangering friendly troops.

l.  Wire communications are integrated into the plan. Wire is used from the company release point to the squad release point near the PLD in dismounted attacks. A field phone at each release point allows leaders from company to squad to maintain secure communications before the attack. Wire is dispersed during movement via an MX306, so communication using wire can be maintained throughout the attack.

m.  The commander may organize a patrol to guide dismount elements from the attack position to the point of departure on the LD and on to the PLD. Patrols may establish security at the PLD and conduct surveillance of the objective while the dismount elements are moving forward. Patrols should be composed of a fire team from each squad, with the company or company team commander designating the patrol leader.

n.  Except for small objectives, a platoon attacks dismounted as a part of a company dismounted operation. Each platoon has a separate, smaller objective or a portion of the company objective. The platoon moves from the assembly area using the formation and movement technique normally specified by the commander. Final coordination is made in the attack position if needed and then platoons move toward the LD. The commander may move the attack force to the LD along a single route under his control or, for short-distance attacks, he may designate separate routes for each platoon. Once across the LD, movement is continuous with the rate of advance slow enough to permit silent movement. The traveling technique with fire teams in column normally is used to ease control and maintain stealth. If the attack is discovered during movement, and elements are close enough to the objective to begin the assault, the dismount element leader (usually the platoon leader) immediately deploys his elements and begins fire and movement.

o.  The platoon uses all of its night observation equipment to help control movement and detect enemy positions. This includes two starlight scopes, the Dragon night trackers, and night vision goggles not needed by the BCs. The BFV may be placed where its thermals can help guide the dismount element to the objective and support by fire once the assault begins.

p.  If the attack is not discovered before reaching the PLD, the leader deploys his elements and informs the commander when the squads are fully deployed. On order, they move silently forward. They guide on the base element, using overwatch as much as possible.

q.  The platoon assaults the objective on order or when the attack is discovered. As in good visibility, the assault must be aggressive, using cover-to-cover rushes. The assaulting force quickly gains fire superiority by using heavy volume of fire so they can safely move. Tracers can be used to improve accuracy and to help control fires. Soldiers do not assault past the limit of advance.

r.  As soon as the objective has been seized, the mounted element platoon leader is informed. Guides are posted to meet the vehicles and lead them into position. The rest of the platoon destroys remaining resistance and prepares for a counterattack.

s.  Additional control techniques include:

  • Stabilized gun set on specific azimuth.
  • Mortar or artillery rounds to orient attacking units.
  • Thermal TRPs (either man-made and pre-placed or natural features that stand out using thermals).
  • Squad leaders and team leaders use tracers to direct fires.
  • Friendly tracer fire to help troops maintain direction.
  • Guides.
  • Reduced interval.
  • Base vehicle on which all others base their speed and direction.
  • Luminous tape or markings.
  • Rehearsals.

9.  Infiltration. The following considerations and techniques apply to infiltration.

a.  Infiltration is done best when visibility is poor, in close terrain, or in areas the enemy does not occupy or cover by direct fire. These conditions allow undetected movement and place friendly forces in a position of advantage over the enemy.

b.  A platoon normally infiltrates as part of its company when the company consolidates its dismounted infantry and BFVs for a specific operation. A platoon or squad may infiltrate alone, but this is not a normal occurrence. Movement techniques are based on the likelihood of enemy contact. BFVs may follow along the infiltration lane at a predetermined time or distance to support the infantry in their assault. A separate axis for BFVs may be used but the risks of detection are greater to do so.

c.  An infiltrating element is assigned an infiltration lane. The leader decides whether to move the entire element on a single route. The platoon leader must decide the best use of his BFVs. This decision may be made for him if the commander consolidates his dismounted elements under his control for an infiltration. In this case, all the company's BFVs are normally under the control of the company executive officer or first sergeant.

d.  During infiltration, BFVs can be employed in the following ways.

(1)  BFVs can overwatch from the LD, or from an appropriate terrain feature, where they can use their thermal sights to help orient or vector the dismounted movement, or they can provide supporting fires if needed. Once the rally point or assault position is reached, or upon initiation of an assault, BFVs can be brought forward to either support by fire from a close overwatch or to remount and continue the mission.

NOTE:

BFVs may follow the same axis or use a separate axis based on METT-T. Using the same axis is more secure. The infiltration lane should be well marked, or guides should be used to lead BFVs forward.

(2)  If the terrain provides covered and concealed routes for BFVs or if BFV suppressive fire is needed quickly, the BFVs may follow the dismounted platoon at an appropriate interval. That interval may be 50 or 100 meters in close terrain. The platoon leader may use indirect fires to help cover the noise of vehicle movement. However, with careful lane selection, armored vehicles can effectively infiltrate.

e.  A platoon can use single or multiple routes to infiltrate.

(1)  If a single lane is used, the platoon leader must select a route through the enemy positions and select a rally point. (Figure 2-124.) If multiple routes are used, the platoon leader must choose a lane for each squad, and a rally point where the platoon will link up. The route must avoid enemy positions, have cover and concealment, and ease control and navigation. When deciding to use single or multiple routes, the platoon leader must consider several things. Moving on a single route will:

  • Get the element to its rally point faster.
  • Ease control.
  • Ease navigation.

Figure 2-124. Platoon Moving on Single Route.

  • Increase the chances of the entire element being detected.

(2)  Moving on multiple routes (Figure 2-125) will:

Figure 2-125. Platoon Moving on Multiple Routes.

    • Get the element to its rally point slower.
    • Hinder control.
    • Hinder navigation.
    • Decrease the chances of the entire element being detected.
    • Increase possibility of detection of part of the element.

(a)  Rally points are designated along each route where the platoon can:

  • Rendezvous with BFVs.
  • Reassemble and reorganize if dispersed.
  • Halt to reorganize and prepare to continue the mission

(b)  Each rally point should:

  • Be easy to find.
  • Provide cover and concealment.
  • Be defensible in all directions.
  • Be located away from likely enemy routes of movement; for example, roads, trails, ridgelines.

(c)  Routes should be reconnoitered as much as possible without giving away the plan. This may be possible by map reconnaissance only. Some tentative rally points are chosen based on a map reconnaissance; others are chosen as the element moves along the route. If the element is dispersed by enemy action, its plan should provide for continuing the mission after a set number of men arrive at the rally point or after a specified time. The senior man at the rally point decides how to best continue the mission.

(d)  The assault position should be as close as possible to the objective without losing security. It should be large enough so the element can deploy in it. If possible, it should be secured before it is occupied. Leaders may leave from the assault position to reconnoiter the objective. BFVs may:

  • Support the dismount element from the LD.
  • Move to support by fire position to provide close support once the dismount element has reached the assault position.
  • Move along a separate axis to either assault or support the dismounted element in their assault.
  • Draw the enemy's attention away from the dismounted assault.

(e)  Squads should take only needed equipment. Excess or bulky equipment slows movement and increases the chance of detection.

10.  Limited Visibility Defense. Infantry platoons and squads are often required to conduct defensive operations during limited visibility; therefore, these operations should be emphasized during training exercises.

a.  Limited visibility conditions refer to darkness, fog, rain, smoke, dust, or any battlefield obscurants that may be employed. These conditions may require the use of image intensifiers, thermal sights, binoculars, and artificial illumination. Devices (such as image intensifiers and thermal sights) should be used together so the capabilities of one system can offset the disadvantages of the other. During heavy rain, snow, fog, smoke, and dust, the effectiveness of night vision devices is degraded, and increased security measures must be implemented. This includes setting up more OPs, patrols, and remote sensors.

b.  Limited visibility conditions afford platoons and squads some concealment from enemy observation and reconnaissance. To maximize the advantages of limited visibility, individual soldiers and leaders consider several factors.

(1)  At night, objects may appear distorted. Ranges are difficult to estimate and dark objects appear more distant than light objects. To compensate for scan, off-center viewing techniques are used as outlined in FM 21-75, Chapter 4. On a clear night, the naked eye can distinguish land relief up to 400 meters. With a full moon, the naked eye can spot a moving man about 240 meters away and with binoculars, at 700 meters. Haze, smoke, dust, and fog limit observation farther. Also, at night, sound can be heard farther, but the direction is difficult to determine.

(2)  Haze, smoke, and fog may prevent the use of image intensification devices during daylight. The effectiveness of thermal sights is also degraded. Provisions for day limited visibility operations must be made. Range cards are prepared so personnel can cover avenues of approach and obstacles, and shift and mass fires.

(3)  Physical and psychological factors must also be considered in limited visibility operations. Darkness may stimulate the imagination, creating a feeling of insecurity that could lead to panic. The sensitivity of the eyes and ears during night differs from day. Soldiers using RSTA devices should rest at least every 30 minutes. To avoid eye fatigue, operators are rotated every hour. Sleep plans should be established and enforced; otherwise, the individual soldier's fighting ability is degraded.

11.  Positions. When occupying a defensive position during good visibility, the platoon leader must prepare for limited visibility by designating positions for vehicles and crew-served weapons. When possible, vehicles and crew-served weapons should be placed in positions that will preclude repositioning for limited visibility conditions. If repositioning of vehicles and crew-served weapons is necessary, the distance these weapon systems must move are kept to a minimum and moves are made just before dusk. Routes and positions during limited visibility must be designated, and the movement must be rehearsed during good visibility. Dragon thermal sights have limited capability to fire through smoke and haze.

a.  During limited visibility, leaders may have to reposition fire teams and BFVs closer to designated engagement areas. Another reason for repositioning forces is to cover gaps between platoons and companies or alternate avenues of approach created by reduced visibility.

b.  Repositioning of forces, if necessary, takes place soon after the beginning of limited visibility conditions. Moves are along previously reconnoitered routes into designated positions.

12.  Command and Control in Limited Visibility Defense. A leader's primary task is to coordinate and control the fire and movement of his platoon so he can mass combat power. This is a demanding task when visibility is good and becomes even more demanding when visibility is limited. Poor visibility adds to command and control problems. Leaders must anticipate and overcome every factor that makes it difficult to detect targets, distinguish between friendly and enemy units to prevent fratricide, fire weapons effectively, and navigate. Leaders must also be familiar with the enemy's ability to operate during limited visibility conditions. Against an enemy not equipped with thermal viewers, a well-trained platoon can turn limited visibility conditions to its tactical advantage. Leaders must recognize and exploit this capability when possible. Command and control considerations are the same during limited visibility as during good visibility.

a.  In the defense, command and control is vital and more difficult to achieve and maintain during limited visibility conditions. Good command and control begins in the fighting positions. Each fighting position must have the following aids for controlling fires. (Figure 2-126.)

Figure 2-126. Aiming Stakes and Sector Stakes.

(1)  Aiming stakes--used to assist the soldier in firing his weapon on dangerous avenues of approach.

(2)  Sector stakes--used on the right and left to define the sector of fire. They also prevent accidental firing into adjacent positions.

b.  Range cards, and squad, section, and platoon sector sketches are essential for control. It is through the integration of such control measures that a coordinated defense is possible. Target reference points (TRPs) are especially necessary for the 25-mm and TOW systems due to the difficulty of estimating distances at long range. TRPs are selected out to the maximum ranges of the systems either through a careful map study or by pacing or driving the distance. If tanks are available, their laser range finders or the forward observer's range finder may be used to mark or verify TRPs. TRPs should be identifiable during limited visibility to the extent of the engagement area or maximum engagement range. A heat source, or thermal marker, should be used. Leaders may use additional control measures, such as tracers, to identify point or area targets and pyrotechnics to control lifting, shifting, or concentrating of fires.

13.  Coordination. Leaders must coordinate with adjacent vehicle position and platoons. Coordination includes sectors of fire for crew-served and vehicular weapons systems, repositioning of forces during limited visibility, and security measures necessary for the front and flanks. Lateral communication, mounted and dismounted may facilitate command and control. Fratricide avoidance is a central part of coordination. BFV crews must remain aware of the movement of the infantry to avoid casualties from friendly fires. Also, infantry squads must establish measures to inform BFV crews of their current location.

a.  Leaders position RSTA equipment and night vision devices so overlapping fields of observation are established within their sector. Patrols and PEWS cover gaps in observation. Obstacles must also be guarded to prevent enemy reduction.

b.  The capabilities of the integrated sight unit must be exploited. This system must be manned and a surveillance plan be implemented to ensure that sectors of observation overlap. Operation of the ISU requires starting the engine of the Bradley about every two hours to keep the batteries charged. All Bradleys should be started at the same time to prevent the enemy from knowing how may vehicles are on the position. Thermal sights should not be turned off on any vehicle because of the amount of time required to cool down once they are reactivated.

14.  Occupation of a Defensive Position. The techniques used to occupy a defensive position during good visibility apply during limited visibility. Placing the dismounted element and BFVs on the same battle position may facilitate command and control but has certain disadvantages:

  • Because of differences in weapon ranges, either the BFVs or dismount element is not used to their best advantage.
  • The enemy's information gathering is made easier. Once he finds the BFVs, he knows where the infantry is located, which eliminates surprise.

a.  A defensive position should be reconnoitered during good visibility. Both the reconnaissance and occupation must be done with stealth under enforced light and noise discipline. Techniques used by a quartering party are appropriate. The security element that accompanies the platoon leader remains to maintain observation on the position and acts as guides when the platoon main body arrives.

b.  During the reconnaissance, the platoon leader:

(1)  Ensures that no enemy forces occupy the proposed battle position.

(2)  Identifies enemy avenues of approach (mounted and dismounted) and potential enemy overwatch positions.

(a)  Dismounted infantry orients on dismounted avenues of approach.

(b)  BFVs are placed to best cover mounted avenues of approach; supplemental positions are determined so BFVs can cover the dismounted avenue.

(c)  Positions for BFVs and infantry should be marked for easier occupation.

(3)  Chooses engagement areas if not assigned by the commander.

(4)  Chooses primary, alternate, and supplementary positions for squads and fighting vehicles.

(5)  Identifies dead space and formulates a plan to cover it.

(6)  Chooses locations for observation posts and the command post.

(7)  Confirms location of adjacent platoons and companies.

(8)  Selects target reference points, sectors of fire, and other control measures.

(9)  Chooses routes into and out of positions.

(10)  Conducts NBC reconnaissance.

c.  A reconnaissance conducted during limited visibility must accomplish the same objectives. Because of the limited range of observation, the leader's task must be accomplished with great care. He must ensure his reconnaissance is done with a RSTA device of similar capabilities of the weapon systems.

d.  Based on available time, the platoon leader goes forward, conducts his reconnaissance, returns to the platoon position, and brings forward either:

(1)  The mounted section leaders and squad leaders.

(2)  Mounted section leaders, platoon sergeant, and squad leaders. He should assign squad and fighting vehicle positions, sectors of fire, TRPs, and engagement areas. Leaders then return to the platoon position and issue orders for the occupation and preparation of forward positions. The platoon then moves forward.

e.  If there is not enough time, the platoon leader may take his leaders forward during the initial reconnaissance, or bring the entire platoon forward to an assembly area near the defensive position, and then conduct his reconnaissance with key leaders.

f.  As platoon members occupy defensive positions, they accomplish the work priorities as described in Part E. The platoon leader or platoon sergeant must verify that interlocking fields of fire and mutual support are achieved. The platoon leader then goes forward to examine his positions from the enemy's perspective.

g.  The platoon leader must carefully consider the method of employing the dismount element and the BFVs. Whether to fight both elements from different battle positions or the same battle position must be closely examined. During limited visibility, the occupation of battle positions and controlling fires is simplified if both elements are on the same battle position.

h.  All activities normally associated with the occupation of defensive positions during good visibility are done during limited visibility. Techniques may change to compensate for limited visibility conditions such as using night vision devices to establish sectors of fire. Noise and light discipline must be strictly enforced. Face-to-face coordination with adjacent platoons must be conducted and sectors of fire coordinated. Coordination should effectively tie in overlapping sectors of fire and observation with weapon systems and night vision devices. When good visibility returns, defensive positions are adjusted as necessary. Detailed schedules are developed to ensure the priorities are accomplished while maintaining thermal surveillance on a 24-hour basis.

NOTE: If BFVs and dismounted infantry are on separate battle positions both elements use all available RSTA assets. For example: The dismount element uses Dragon nightsights, thermal sights, hand-held thermal sights, light intensification devices, and binoculars. The BFVs have a plan, based on the enemy situation, to maintain a specific number of thermal sights operating at all times as well as light intensifiers and binoculars. At least one of the BFVs must either have its thermal off or local security posted to listen for enemy activity. (The BFVs thermal and turret noise sometimes prevent hearing a stealthy enemy.)

 

 


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