IS3001 Lesson 1 Introduction to Order of Battle

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Table of







Combat Effectiveness
Electronic Technical Data
Miscellaneous Data



LESSON DESCRIPTION: In this lesson, you will learn to define Order of Battle (OB) and describe the OB factors.

TERMINAL LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Define OB and describe the OB factors.

CONDITIONS: You will be given narrative information from FM 34-3.

STANDARDS: Definition of OB and description of OB factors will be in accordance with FM 34-3.

REFERENCES: The material contained in this lesson is derived from the following publications: FM 34-3.



To make sound tactical decisions, the command relies heavily on intelligence regarding the characteristics of the Area of Operations (AO) and the enemy. While the characteristics of the AD can have a tremendous influence on the commander's decision and the success or failure of the operation, the enemy is often the most critical factor that must be considered. Information concerning enemy forces is the most difficult kind to obtain and process. However, this information is vital to develop accurate intelligence on which to base tactical decisions. Information and intelligence concerning the enemy force are referred to as OB. Stated in its simplest form, OB is intelligence on any military force. This includes not only our enemies or potential enemies, but friendly and neutral forces as well. It includes the identification of personnel, units, and equipment.

OB is produced in peacetime as well as wartime. During peacetime, OB is primarily concerned with strategic intelligence. The production of OB intelligence to support tactical operations is initiated when hostilities are imminent. During wartime, OB is both an element of strategic intelligence and an integral part of tactical intelligence analysis. This process is performed by the OB analysis of the G2.


There are nine OB factors. As these are reviewed, you will be able to see how they are interdependent. Individually, each factor pertains to a definite aspect of military force. Collectively, the nine factors determine the total combat power of the force. The nine OB factors are:

    • Unit identification.

    • Organization.

    • Geographical location.

    • Tactical deployment.

    • Movements.

    • Person net.

    • Weapons and equipment.

    • By types of units.

    • Tactical doctrine.

    • Special operations.

    • Individual.

    • Unit.

    • Specialized.

    • Systems.

    • Current status.

    Combat Effectiveness.
    • Combat experience.

    • Morale.

    • Tactics.

    • Logistics.

    Electronic Technical Data.
    • Emitter nomenclature.

    • Emitter type.

    • Mode of emission.

    • Frequency range.

    • Location accuracy for direction finding.

    • Associated use--units or weapon.

    • Personalities.

    • Unit history.

    • Uniforms and insignia.

    • Code names and numbers.

These nine OB factors are tools used by the analyst to scrutinize all information pertaining to a military force to determine his capabilities, vulnerabilities, and probable course(s) of action. Although the situation may dictate that one or more of the factors be given a higher priority, they are, generally speaking, all of equal importance.

Composition. Composition is the identification and organization of units. It applies to specific units or commands as opposed to types of units.

Unit identification is often called the key to OB intelligence because it leads to the answers of many questions concerning the enemy. Unit identification consists of the complete designation of a specific unit by name or number, type, weapons, relative size or strength, and subordination. Through identification, the OB analyst develops a history of the composition, training, tactics, and combat effectiveness of an enemy unit. The identification of a specific unit within an organization alerts the analyst to the possible presence of other unidentified units of the same organization.

Organization is the structure of a unit and the relationship of the various elements within the structure. Knowledge of the organization of a unit or military force aids in developing accurate intelligence on current strength, tactics, training, logistics, and combat efficiency. Enemy capabilities are difficult to accurately assess without knowledge of his current organization.

The basic, self- sufficient tactical unit (normally a combat division) is considered when developing intelligence concerning composition. The importance of this concept lies in the term "self-sufficient." Units subordinate to self-sufficient tactical units, although capable of limited independent action, cannot sustain themselves over relatively long periods of time. Subordinate units are seldom used independently or separately from the basic, self-sufficient tactical unit and its three motorized rifle regiments are seldom used independently, the presence not only of a new regiment but of a new division is tentatively accepted. When one of these regiments is located, it may be reasonably assumed the remaining elements of the division are also in the area.

Disposition. Disposition consists of the location of enemy units and the manner in which these units are tactically (or administratively in times of peace) deployed. In addition, disposition includes the recent, current, and proposed (or probable) movements of enemy units.

Location refers to a geographical area or position occupied by a unit or units. Knowledge of the strength and location of an enemy assists the intelligence officer in determining the capabilities of the force and its effect upon the accomplishment of the friendly mission. Data of this type is also collected during peacetime and forms the basis for accessing capabilities during the initial period of hostilities.

Tactical deployment is the relative position of units with respect to one another or to the terrain. Tactical formations are designed for executing the various tactical maneuvers. If this deployment can be predetermined, it leads to an accurate appraisal of intentions. The knowledge of how enemy units are echeloned may indicate (if the enemy assumes the offensive) which units will be used in the main attack and which units will be used in supporting reserve roles. Tactical deployment with respect to terrain is also important. A study of dispositions and an analysis of the battlefield area (BA) lead to conclusions concerning enemy capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions.

Movement of enemy units is also part of disposition. Movement is the physical relocation of a unit from one geographical point to another. Patrol activity may be an indication of planned movement. Movement is significant because it automatically changes the tactical deployment of the enemy forces. When an enemy unit has moved, is moving, or will be moving, there are a number of actions which may affect the OB situation. Such as a unit may be moving into an attack position, or moving to reinforce or replace a unit, or perform other missions unknown to friendly forces. In view of these possibilities, movement of an enemy unit becomes important and units must be monitored at all times in order for the OB analyst to provide correct and detailed data on enemy dispositions.

Strength. The term "strength" describes a unit or force in terms of personnel, weapons, and equipment. Information concerning strength provides the commander with an indication of enemy capabilities, and assists him in determining the probable course(s) of action or options open to enemy commanders. A lack of strength or a preponderance of strength has the effect of lowering or raising the estimate of the capabilities of an enemy force. Likewise, a marked concentration or building-up of units in an area gives the commander certain indications of enemy objectives and probable courses of action. During peacetime, changes in the strength of potential enemy forces are important factors which may indicate changes in the enemy's intention.

Tactics. Tactics in OB intelligence include tactical doctrine as well as tactics used by specific units. Tactical doctrine refers to the enemy's accepted principles of organization and use of forces for the conduct of operations. On the other hand, tactics describe the manner in which the enemy conducts an operation. From a knowledge of tactical doctrine, the OB analyst knows how the enemy will use his forces under various conditions, situations, or special operations.

Conventional enemy forces will normally perform according to certain patterns within the framework of tactical doctrine. There are established principles and patterns for the use of infantry motorized rifle, armor, and artillery in the offense and defense. Any predetermination of the probable patterns of use and enemy action is extremely important in the planning and execution phases of an operation.

Training. Individual and unit training significantly contributes to the combat effectiveness of any military organization. The thoroughness, degree, and quality of individual training received by the recruit, specialist, noncommissioned officer (NCO), and officer are major factors in determining the overall efficiency of an armed force. Unit training, normally conducted in seasonal cycles from small unit exercises to large-scale maneuvers, is an essential part of the training necessary for a unit to operate at its full potential. Every training phase adds to the unit's capabilities and effectiveness. The combat effectiveness of an enemy unit is more easily appraised when the degree and quality of its training are known.

Logistics. Logistics closely relate to combat effectiveness. The adoption of a course(s) of action is influenced by the ability of the logistical system to support that action. Knowledge of the enemy's logistics facilitates a more accurate evaluation of enemy capabilities, strength, combat efficiency, and disposition. Types of logistics information include:

  • All classes and types of supply.
  • Supply lines of communication.
  • Logistical requirements.
  • Procurement methods.
  • Distribution priorities and procedures.
  • Transportation networks and modes.
  • Installations and logistical control points.
  • Terminals.
  • Evacuation and salvage procedures.
  • Maintenance.

Combat Effectiveness. Combat effectiveness is a term used to describe abilities and fighting quality of an enemy unit. Combat effectiveness affects the capabilities of a unit or army and may be predicated by analyzing--

  • Personnel strength.
  • Amount and condition of weapon and equipment.
  • Status of Training.
  • Efficiency of the officer and NCO corps.
  • Quality of leadership.
  • Length of time the unit has been committed in combat.
  • Traditions and past performance.
  • Personality traits of the unit commanders.
  • Geographical area in which committed.
  • Morale, health, discipline, and political reliability (or belief in the cause for which they fight).
  • Status of technical and logistical support of the unit.
  • Adequacy of military schooling at all levels.
  • National characteristics of the people.

Electronic Technical Data. Electronic OB information is required to conduct electronic warfare (EW). Electronic OB technical (EOB TECH) data consist of data on the type of transmission, frequency range, normal use, and the location accuracy for Direction Finding (DF) equipment.

The type of transmission describes the method of modulation of the emitted signal. Frequency Modulation (FM) and Amplitude Modulation (AM) are usually used to transmit sounds or complex data. Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) and on/off keying are used to transmit telegraph codes. Radar signals are often transmitted in pulses of specific duration and frequency of repetition.

The radio frequency of electronic emission determines the characteristics of the transmission path. Lower frequencies travel greater distances near the surface of the earth and are reflected by upper atmosphere and radiate off into space after traveling a relatively short distance near the surface of the earth.

The normal use of certain emissions can be very important to the analyst. Some emissions are uniquely associated with certain unit and weapon systems. EOB TECH data covers a specialized field of knowledge of growing importance. The OB analyst should become familiar with their basic principles and the intelligence that can be derived from them.

Miscellaneous Data. Miscellaneous data includes supporting information needed by an analyst to contribute to the development of the other OB elements. Miscellaneous data include basic intelligence that can be described as "know your enemy."

Personality files contain information on certain characteristics and attributes which describe individual members of an enemy military force. knowledge of personalities is important as an aid to identifying unit, and, in some cases, predicting the course of action the unit will take. Personality data, therefore, is valuable because the tactics and combat efficiency of particular units are closely related to key individuals.

Unit history includes information and intelligence on component elements of a specific unit, present and past parent units, and personalities who have commanded the unit. Other details such as past performance and activities which describe, limit, or clarify the capabilities of the unit should be included in its history. The development of unit history is important because it aids in determining the capabilities and limitations of a unit. Military or paramilitary units, like individuals, develop characteristics which distinguish them from other units. Just as they consider the various qualifications and traits of enemy personalities, OB personnel must also consider an enemy unit as a "personality" in analyzing it capabilities and limitations.

Information on uniforms and insignia is an important part of "know your enemy" intelligence. This information assists in establishing unit identification and organization and in determining morale and esprit de corps.

Some foreign armies use systems of code numbers and names to conceal true designation or affiliation of units, field post numbers, and vehicles. These code number systems, when properly analyzed, are valuable sources of information relating to composition and disposition.

The OB analyst must be able to recognize and appreciate the capabilities and limitations of foreign weapons and equipment. Although technical intelligence agencies are primarily concerned with the determination of weapons and equipment characteristics and capabilities, the analyst uses this intelligence to analyze the effects of these items on the organization, disposition, tactics, and combat effectiveness of the military force.




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