Chapter 6


"Never depend completely on the strength of the terrain and consequently never be enticed into passive defense by a strong terrain."

Clausewitz, 1812

The defense is not the decisive form of war. While the defense can deny success to the enemy, it seldom assures victory. The defense, however, is the stronger form of war because of the advantages to the defender. Army doctrine recognizes the strength of the defense but emphasizes the necessity to quickly transition to offensive operations after a successful defense. A defender cannot be purely passive. Depth, flexibility, and retaining an offensive capability are all part of the defense. The defender seizes every opportunity to go over to the offensive. Brigades and battalion task forces are the principal maneuver elements of the corps and division defense. Cavalry units normally perform security missions for the defense or reconnaissance missions to support attacks. Cavalry units frequently perform defensive operations as a part of these security and reconnaissance missions, or when they are required to defend as an economy of force. The armored cavalry regiment normally requires little augmentation to perform missions as an economy of force. Division cavalry may require augmentation with additional combat, combat support, and combat service support assets based on the organization and status of the squadron and the situation.


Section I. Fundamentals of the Defense
Section II. Planning Defensive Operations
Section III. Defend in Sector
Section IV. Defend a Battle Position

Section I. Fundamentals of the Defense

Defensive positions are usually nonlinear and the battle is planned and fought in depth. Supporting fires and reinforcing obstacles are planned to assist in shaping the battlefield, to slow and confuse the enemy, and to destroy the continuity of his formations. The battle starts forward of the FLOT. Supporting indirect fires are planned and used as early as tactically feasible. The initiative must be taken from the attacking enemy. He may be attacked before he closes on the security area or main battle area. A reserve should be available to counterattack at the critical point to destroy the enemy. The defense orients on defeating the enemy, not on maintaining the initial defensive trace.


Defensive operations are conducted with the immediate purpose of defeating an enemy attack. Defensive operations may also achieve one or more of the following:

  • Gain time.
  • Concentrate forces elsewhere.
  • Wear down enemy forces as a prelude to offensive operations.
  • Control key or decisive terrain.
  • Retain tactical, strategic, or political objectives.


Successful defensive operations are defined by five characteristics:

  • Preparation.
  • Security.
  • Disruption.
  • Mass and concentration.
  • Flexibility.


The defender has significant advantages over the attacker. In most cases, he not only knows the ground better, but having occupied it first, he has strengthened his positions. He is relatively stationary in carefully selected positions, with prepared fires and obstacles. Cover and concealment mask his dispositions and provide protection. The defender uses all available time to prepare fighting positions and obstacles, to rehearse counterattacks, and to plan supporting fires and combat service support in detail.

Operations security (OPSEC) is the defender's first requirement to defeat an attack. Units must maintain OPSEC, avoid patterns, and practice deception to hide their dispositions. Defeating enemy reconnaissance is critical and inherent when cavalry is conducting security missions, but must be planned when conducting a defend mission in an economy-of-force role.

The attacker, however, has the initiative to choose the time and place of battle. The attacker tries to shatter the defense quickly and prevent its reconstitution by continuing the attack at a fast pace into the defender's rear areas. The attack will be preceded and accompanied by massed supporting fires. To win, the defender must be prepared.


Defending forces provide security. Since a force defends to conserve combat power for use elsewhere, or at a later time, commanders must provide protection for their force. They do this principally through deception and physical means in the defended area. Defending units want to deceive the enemy as to their strengths and weaknesses. Normally a security area is designated with a covering force. Cavalry units at all tactical echelons perform security missions to coordinate and synchronize the defense, to provide early warning, and to begin disrupting the integrity of the enemy attack early and continuously.


The defender disrupts the attacker's tempo and synchronization. An attacker's strength comes from momentum, mass, and mutual support of maneuver and combat support elements. The defender must slow the attack, disrupt the attacker's mass, disrupt his command and control, and break up the mutual support between his combat and combat support elements. This results in a piecemeal attack that can be defeated in detail. A general aim is to force the attacker into a nonlinear battle, fighting in more than one direction. The attacker is never allowed to get set. His vulnerable flanks and rear should be attacked. He is hit with spoiling attacks before he can focus his combat power and is counterattacked before he can consolidate any gains. This makes it more difficult for him to concentrate forces and fires, and to isolate and overwhelm the defender.

Mass and Concentration

The defender seeks to mass the effects of overwhelming combat power where he chooses and shifts that mass in accordance with the point of his main effort. To gain the advantage at decisive points the defender is often forced to economize and accept risks elsewhere. The defender retains, and when necessary, reconstitutes a reserve and maneuvers to obtain local superiority at the decisive point. Reconnaissance and security enable him to "see the battlefield," and thereby reduce risk. Obstacles, fires, deception, and concealment can also assist in reducing these risks. The defender rapidly concentrates forces, massing combat power to defeat an attacking force, then disperses and prepares to concentrate again. The defender assigns the main effort to one subordinate unit. All other elements and assets support and sustain this effort. The commander should shift his focus by designating a new unit to be the main effort when the situation dictates.


Defensive operations are characterized by flexible planning and agile execution. The attacker initially decides when and where combat will take place. A flexible defender counters or evades the initial attack in order to strike back effectively. The plan enables commanders to shift their point of main effort quickly without losing synchronization. Commanders designate reserves and deploy forces and logistic resources in depth to ensure continuous operations and to provide options for the defender if forward positions are penetrated. The reserve is the most decisive force the commander can use to take the initiative from the enemy. Reserve commanders prepare for movement. They formulate counterattack plans that address their on-order and be-prepared missions and likely contingencies.

Understanding the commander's intent facilitates initiative and flexible execution by subordinate commanders. Contingency planning permits rapid action and allows subordinate commanders to rapidly exploit enemy weaknesses.

Flexibility also requires that the commander "see the battlefield" to detect the enemy's scheme of maneuver in time to direct fires and to maneuver against it. IPB determines likely enemy actions while security elements verify which actions are actually taking place. The commander does not limit his intelligence-gathering efforts to only the forces in contact, but also concentrates on formations arrayed in depth. The enemy may attempt to bypass areas where the defense is strong. Hence, the defending commander ensures he is able to detect and react to enemy movement along all possible avenues of approach throughout the course of the battle. The defender must never allow the attacker to gain tactical surprise.


The defensive framework within which corps and divisions fight is generally organized into three interrelated but equally important operations (see Figures 6-1 and 6-2). These operations are as follows:

  • Deep operations (operations forward of the FLOT).
  • Close operations, consisting of security force operations, main battle area operations, and reserve operations.
  • Rear operations.

Figure 6-1. Organization of the division defensive battlefield.

Figure 6-2. Battlefield organization for the defense.

Deep Operations

Deep operations create opportunities for offensive action by reducing the enemy's closure rates, separating attacking echelons; disrupting his command and control, combat support, and combat service support; and by slowing the arrival times of succeeding echelons. Deep operations are conducted against forces not in contact using indirect fires, electronic warfare, air interdiction, Army aviation, deception, and maneuver forces. These operations are performed by corps and division commanders and by the regiment to a limited extent. Deep reconnaissance forces provide combat information on enemy actions at named areas of interest and along avenues of approach.

Close Operations

Close operations include security force operations, main battle area operations, and reserve operations.


The security force normally established by the corps is the covering force. It begins the fight against the attacker's leading echelons in the security area. In the absence of the corps covering force, divisions may establish the security force. Main battle area forces assume control of the battle at the battle handover line and assist covering force units in breaking contact and withdrawing. Cavalry units, when defending, establish a security area at all tactical echelons.

Corps and divisions perform security operations to the front, rear, and flanks to protect their freedom of action by reducing vulnerability to hostile acts, influence, or surprise. Cavalry is the primary force for these operations.


The main battle area is the critical area for the defeat of assaulting enemy forces. Division and corps commanders synchronize and integrate the fight. Brigade commanders fight the battle. They assign sectors or battle positions to task forces based on their estimate of the situation and intent. Assigned sectors coincide with avenues of approach. The commander designates and sustains the main effort by giving priority of artillery, engineer, air defense, and close air support assets to the force responsible for the most dangerous avenue of approach into the sector. Alternatively, the enemy may be allowed to penetrate and the main effort rests with a reserve force to attack and destroy the enemy from the flanks or rear. The commander can strengthen the effort along the most dangerous avenue of approach by narrowing the sector of the unit astride it.

Task force commanders structure their defenses by deploying units in depth. A mounted reserve of one-quarter to one-half of the task force strength provides additional depth and gives the commander a maneuver capability against the enemy. A commander can create a reserve by taking risks on less likely enemy avenues of approach into his sector.

Penetration by enemy forces must be anticipated and provided for in the plan. Separation of adjacent units is likely, especially if the enemy is conducting nuclear and chemical operations. Main battle area forces continue to strike at the enemy's flanks and counterattack across penetrations.


The primary purpose of the reserve is to provide flexibility to seize the initiative through offensive action. The commitment of reserve forces at the decisive point and time is key to the success of a defense. The reserve becomes the main effort upon commitment. The reserve force can expect to receive one or more of the following missions upon commitment:

  • Counterattack.
  • Spoiling attack.
  • Block, fix, or contain.
  • Reinforce.

The squadron-level reserve's most common use is in the counterattack role. The composition, location, and mission of a reserve are based on the commander's estimate of the situation and intent.

Rear Operations

Rear operations assure freedom of maneuver and sustained operations. Rear operations must not divert forces from the main effort. Rear operations are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 8.


Defensive patterns follow two broad categories: mobile and area. The mobile defense focuses on destroying the attacking enemy force. It permits the enemy to advance into a position that exposes him to counterattack and envelopment by a mobile striking force. The area defense focuses on retaining terrain by absorbing the enemy into an interlocked series of positions from which he can be destroyed largely by fire. Smaller mobile reserves are used.

The mobile defense employs a combination of offensive, defensive, and delaying actions over great depth to defeat the enemy attack. The minimum force possible is committed to pure defense; maximum (two-thirds) combat power is placed in a mobile striking force that attacks the enemy as it attempts to overcome that part of the force dedicated to the defense. The mobile defense is normally conducted by division and larger forces.

The area defense is usually conducted to deny the enemy access to specific terrain or facilities for a specific time. Area defense does not normally result in decisive defeat of the enemy. Other simultaneous or subsequent action achieves this objective. The bulk of the defending forces is deployed to retain ground, using a combination of defensive positions and small mobile reserves. Commanders organize the defense around a framework provided by defensive positions, seeking to destroy the enemy forces with interlocking fires. Commanders also employ local counterattacks against enemy units penetrating between defensive positions. Area defenses may be conducted in varying depth. Less flexibility in this defense requires early identification of the enemy's main effort to allow for concentration.


A defense is often conducted in a sequence of integrated and overlapping steps.


During this phase, the scouts are usually the first to clear the proposed defensive position. They check for enemy observation posts and NBC contamination. Leaders then reconnoiter and prepare their assigned areas. Security (scout screen) is established forward of the defensive area to allow occupation of positions and preparation of obstacles without compromise. During occupation, movement is minimized to avoid enemy observation. Units initiate deception plans.

Security Force Fight

The security force makes initial contact with the approaching enemy. Depending on the mission, organization, and size of the security force, it may do anything from providing early warning to defeat of the enemy's lead echelons. Main battle area forces eavesdrop on the security force fight to remain abreast of the situation.

Passage of the Security Force

The main battle area force establishes contact with and assists the disengagement and passage of the security force. Chapter 8 discusses battle handover and passage of lines.

Defeat of Enemy Reconnaissance and Preparatory Fires

The enemy will attempt to discover the defensive scheme using reconnaissance elements and attacks by advance guard elements. The enemy will also attempt to breach the defender's obstacles. Consistent with the requirement to maintain security, units should remain in defilade, hide, and prepared positions to avoid the casualties and shock associated with indirect fires.

Approach of the Enemy Main Attack

The defender's security elements observe and report enemy movement during the security force fight. The main battle area commander repositions or reorients his forces to mass against the enemy's main effort. Enemy formations are engaged at maximum range by supporting fires and close air support to cause casualties, to slow and disorganize formations, to cause the enemy to button up, and to impair his communications. Obstacles and lanes are closed. Direct fire weapons are repositioned as required, or maneuvered to attack the enemy from the flank. The commander may initially withhold direct fires to allow the enemy to close into an engagement area where decisive concentrated fires destroy him.

Enemy Assault

As the enemy deploys, he becomes increasingly vulnerable to obstacles, blocking positions, and fires intended to break up the assaulting formation. Continued maneuver to enemy flanks and rear is used to destroy him and to increase the number of directions in which he must react. Some security elements may stay in forward positions to monitor enemy second-echelon movement and to direct supporting fires on these forces as well as on his artillery, air defense, supply, and command and control elements.


As the enemy assault is slowed or stopped, the commander will launch his counterattack forces to complete the destruction of the enemy. In some cases, the opportunity to counterattack can occur before the enemy is slowed or stopped. The counterattack may be by fire or by fire and movement.

Reorganization and Consolidation

The defender must quickly reorganize to continue the defense. Attacks are made to destroy enemy remnants, casualties are evacuated, and units are shifted and reorganized to respond to losses. NCO leaders cross-level ammunition and other critical items. Emergency resupply is conducted if necessary. Commanders reestablish security and obstacles and submit reports.


In support of corps defensive operations, the armored cavalry regiment is normally assigned security missions or ordered to defend as an economy of force.

The regiment is normally the foundation around which the corps covering force is built. As a covering force, the regiment is expected to destroy a significant number of enemy forces in the corps security area. This will require attacking, defending, and delaying as necessary to accomplish the corps commander's intent. Following security area operations, the regiment may become part of the corps reserve or perform rear area operations.

The regiment is also an ideal force for use in an economy-of-force role. The corps commander may assign the regiment a defend mission to allow him to concentrate forces at the decisive point on the battlefield. The regiment requires minimum augmentation with combat (normally infantry), combat support (artillery, engineer), and combat service support assets if it is assigned a defend mission. The regiment's commitment to this mission normally requires other corps assets to assume the corps security function.


Squadrons within the regiment can expect to conduct hasty defensive operations in the conduct of reconnaissance and screen missions. Squadrons conduct more deliberate defensive operations in the conduct of guard missions, when acting as part of a covering force, or performing as part of a defensive economy of force.

Hasty defensive operations are normally the rule in the conduct of reconnaissance missions. The squadrons may establish a hasty defense when contact is made with an enemy force too large to attack or bypass. During the conduct of security missions, as the degree of security required by the higher commander increases, so does the likelihood of the squadron performing deliberate defensive operations.

The squadron may be assigned a defensive mission in the main battle area as part of a defensive economy of force. It may require reinforcement to accomplish this mission. When performing in this role, the squadron can expect to conduct attack, defend, and delay operations as necessary to accomplish this mission.


The regimental aviation squadron is normally assigned security missions in conjunction with regimental security or defensive operations, or it may be used as part of the regimental reserve in these operations. The regimental commander will normally retain the attack troops as part of the reserve initially, and assign security or reconnaissance missions to the air cavalry troops. The regimental aviation squadron does not defend as does the armored cavalry squadron. The aviation squadron reconnoiters, screens, and attacks during a regimental defense.


The division cavalry squadron performs a role in support of the division similar to the role the regiment performs for the corps. The division cavalry squadron may conduct hasty defensive operations during reconnaissance and screen missions. The squadron conducts more deliberate defensive operations in the conduct of guard missions, when acting as part of a covering force, or performing as part of a defensive economy of force.

During reconnaissance operations, the squadron may establish a hasty defense upon contact with an enemy force too large to attack or bypass. This is part of actions on contact. During a guard mission, the squadron may be required to defend and accept decisive engagement to provide the time and space required by the division commander. The squadron may be part of a covering force and receive a defensive mission. Following security area operations, the squadron may become part of the division reserve, or it may perform rear operations.

Defensive missions in the main battle area may be assigned to the squadron as an economy of force for the division commander. The same considerations guide this role as in offensive operations. Reinforcements are normally required. Commitment of the squadron to this role normally requires other division assets to assume the division security function. As an economy of force, the squadron may defend in sector, delay, counterattack, or perform deception operations. FM 71-2 provides a detailed discussion of defensive operations that may be referred to when performing missions as an economy of force.


Ground troops prepare to establish hasty defenses during reconnaissance operations as part of actions on contact. During security missions, the troop may defend in sector, defend a battle position, or delay. These same missions apply when the squadron is performing in an economy-of-force role.

Air cavalry troops perform reconnaissance or screen along exposed flanks, between troops, or forward of the ground troops. Attack helicopters may form part of the reserve and are highly effective against moving enemy forces.

The tank company in the regimental armored cavalry squadron is normally employed as the squadron reserve. In the division cavalry squadron, attached company teams may form the reserve. If there is a major avenue of approach into the squadron sector, a company team may be placed astride it, while a ground troop forms the reserve.

Section II. Planning Defensive Operations

Chapter 2 outlines the decision-making process for all operations. When planning defensive operations, certain considerations apply as the scheme of maneuver is developed.


IPB is the first essential step of planning. Terrain is analyzed from both friendly and enemy perspectives. Enemy avenues of approach are defined. The situation template indicates how the enemy can use the terrain and how he may deploy along the avenues of approach. Named areas of interest identify critical decision points where enemy action indicates his intent. Decision support templates aid critical maneuver or fire support decisions. Terrain analysis also provides information the S3 and commander can use to plan the scheme of maneuver. Additional information on the IPB process is in FM 34-35 and FM 34-130. Additional information on terrain analysis can be found in FM 5-33.


The commander and staff develop courses of action and determine tentative unit positions. The regimental commander arrays his squadrons against regimental-size avenues of approach. He determines squadron sectors by considering the positioning of troops. The squadron commanders array troop-size forces against battalion-size avenues of approach. In doing this, he considers the positioning of platoons. The positions must provide for an integrated defense so that all available weapon systems can be effectively used. Positioning should allow shifting of fires and forces to meet enemy actions during the battle. Once this is completed, the commander considers the formation of teams. Available maneuver space and subordinate combat power are considered when forming teams.

Regimental cavalry troops are already combined arms organizations and seldom need further task organization. Division cavalry commanders must consider task organizing organic ground cavalry troops and attached companies.

Commanders organize and assign missions in the defense based on the considerations described in the following paragraphs.


Commanders disperse units and weapons laterally and in depth to reduce the enemy's ability to suppress. This also allows the unit to engage the enemy from multiple directions.

Cover and Concealment

Elements are placed in positions where cover and concealment are available; obvious terrain is avoided. Hide positions are used. To check the adequacy of concealment, leaders travel approaches to their units from the enemy's direction of movement. Covered routes must be available to allow movement in and between positions and for maneuver against the enemy.

Flanking Fire

Flanking fires are far more effective than frontal fires. Initial positions for antiarmor weapons may maximize long-range engagements, but primary positions are normally picked to maximize flanking fires from defilade positions.


Battle position security includes patrols, observation posts, and other measures to provide security from enemy attacks, mounted or dismounted, along covered routes.

Ability to Maneuver

Units must be able to concentrate on the avenues of approach being used by the enemy. To do this, plan and rehearse routes between on-order positions with sectors of fire and positions in depth.

Range of Weapon Systems

When selecting tentative positions for weapon systems, the commander considers the effective range and acquisition capabilities of each system. Weapons are positioned to engage out to maximum effective range and to provide an increasing volume of massed fires. Tanks have a fast rate of fire and short engagement time. Antitank missiles provide long-range fires but are limited by rate of fire and time of flight.

Transition to Limited Visibility

An attacker uses night, bad weather, smoke, and suppressive fire to limit the defender's visibility. The defender anticipates this problem and prepares to occupy predetermined, limited visibility fighting positions. Limited visibility capabilities of fire control systems are a key factor in determining the amount of adjustment required.

Dismounted Infantry

Battle positions or sectors for dismounted infantry are chosen to hold or deny mounted and dismounted avenues of approach to key terrain. Positioning dismounted infantry on forward slopes may needlessly expose them to long-range direct and observed indirect fires. Positions to the flanks or on reverse slopes that deny approaches to key terrain avoid exposing dismounted infantry and provide cover and concealment. Dismounted infantry is best suited to close-in fighting on restrictive terrain with limited fields of fire. Dismounted infantry should be positioned so they can only be threatened inside the ranges of their antitank weapons. When good infantry terrain is not available, construction of obstacles and time to construct strong fighting positions are required to allow infantry to hold terrain and defeat armor.

Based on the reconnaissance and security plan, infantry units provide observation posts and patrols between battle positions to augment the efforts of the scouts. Infantry can be used to provide manpower for constructing obstacles, clearing fields of fire, securing obstacles, and closing lanes and gaps in obstacles. When assigning infantry additional tasks outside their battle positions, the time for movement as well as time to construct their fighting positions must be considered.

Positions for subordinate troops or companies may be designated by battle positions or sectors. The considerations listed in Figure 6-3 guide planning.

Avenues of approach Well defined; enemy can
be canalized
Multiple avenues
Terrain Dominates avenues of
Dominating terrain
not available
Areas of operation Narrow Wide
Mutual support Achievable Cannot be achieved
Squadron commander's
ability to see and control
Good Degraded
Enemy situation Known/clear Unknown/unclear/
Troops available Attached infantry Pure or attached

Figure 6-3. Positioning considerations.


A reserve is normally designated at regimental and squadron level. Troops seldom have adequate combat power to do so. Troop commanders prepare contingencies for platoons that allow them to rapidly shift or assume new missions. As in offensive operations, the reserve commander is assigned missions as contingencies to provide planning guidance and to ensure timely execution on commitment. Considerations that guide organization and employment of the reserve are explained in the following paragraphs.


With a vague enemy situation, multiple avenues of approach, force oriented mission, or narrow sector, the regiment or squadron can organize a strong reserve. A delay mission also normally requires a strong reserve. With a well-defined enemy situation, few avenues of approach, or terrain-oriented mission, a smaller reserve may be adequate. An economy-of-force role or wide sector may not afford the luxury of a large reserve.


The reserve is normally structured around a ground maneuver unit providing speed and firepower. Tanks are normally a key element. Attack helicopters are also ideal as a reserve, and an air and ground team offers advantages. The reserve must not be dependent on the availability of aircraft. In the armored cavalry regiment, the reserve may be composed of an attached battalion task force, attached/OPCON attack helicopter battalion, attack helicopter troops of the aviation squadron, or a tank company or companies from the cavalry squadrons. A mix of air and ground assets is the most effective. In the regimental cavalry squadron, the tank company normally serves as the squadron reserve. A ground troop or attached company team normally forms the reserve in the division cavalry squadron.


Positioning the reserve is critical to effective employment. It is positioned in adequate depth to have a degree of protection and to prevent inadvertent commitment too early in the fight. However, the reserve must be close enough that it can rapidly enter the fight when committed. The reserve can occupy battle, blocking, or hide positions.


The same considerations apply that govern commitment of the reserve in offensive operations. The reserve can be used for-

  • Counterattack.
  • Spoiling attack.
  • Blocking, fixing, or containing enemy forces.
  • Reinforcing committed forces.
  • Supporting disengagement of troops.

The counterattack is the most frequent mission executed by the reserve. Normally, more than one counterattack option is planned for and rehearsed. Counterattacks may be conducted to block an impending penetration of the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA), to stop a force that has penetrated, to attack through forward defenses to destroy an enemy force, or to attack enemy forces from the flank and rear. Counterattacks may be conducted by fire or by fire and movement. Combat power is increased by using surprise, flanking attacks, speed, and violent execution.

The counterattack begins movement early to launch before the enemy has time to consolidate any local gains made. Units other than the reserve may also be tasked to carry out local counterattacks. The counterattack is conducted like a hasty attack. The execution of the counterattack is based on decision points developed during the construction of the decision support template.

Regardless of the type of counterattack being conducted, the following basic considerations apply:

  • Attack one objective at a time, and weight it with all available fire support. Once committed, the counterattack becomes the main effort.
  • Plan the battle. Determine movement times and probable lines of departure/lines of contact before committing the force to the counterattack. Rehearse to learn routes, objectives, and time requirements.
  • Defeat the enemy before subsequent echelons close. Even for a force oriented counterattack, use an objective to orient the counterattacking force.
  • Attack the enemy's flanks and rear, taking advantage of protection offered by terrain and limited visibility.

The regimental or squadron commander may designate on-order battle positions from which the reserve can conduct counterattacks by fire. The reserve commander conducts a reconnaissance of the battle positions and assigns his subordinates battle positions from which they can fire into engagement areas to stop enemy forces. Since those on-order battle positions are often close to occupied battle positions, or are in other unit sectors, close coordination is required for-

  • Routes from the reserve position to the battle position.
  • Fire coordination measures.
  • Tie-in of fires with forward units.
  • Supplementary positions for flank units.
  • Completion of the counterattack by fire and movement if necessary.
  • Continuation of attacks beyond the FLOT.
  • Coordination of the limit of advance.

The commander coordinates direct fire and indirect fire control measures to protect the reserve from both enemy and friendly fire. A restricted fire area around the counterattack axis of advance or direction of attack and its objective can be established. Fires are planned along the flanks of the axis, on the objective, and to separate enemy echelons. Clear recognition signals are used to prevent engagement by friendly ground or air units. The actual attack executed seldom mirrors what is planned. The control measures used for the defense must be flexible enough to facilitate a rapid FRAGO, changing a counterattack while retaining a synchronized fight.


Battle command in defensive operations involves the use of fire control measures to help the commander mass fires on the enemy while providing adequate distribution. Combined with a well-planned obstacle system, fire control measures allow the defender to fully exploit the effects of organic and supporting weapons.

Engagement Priority

Fires can be distributed by assigning each weapon or section a type of vehicle to engage first. Generally, the most dangerous targets are shot first.

Trigger Line or Point

A trigger line or point is readily identifiable on the ground and indicates the location at which engagement of the enemy force is to begin. It allows for massed opening volleys, desired surprise, and prevents wasting ammunition. It may be indicated graphically as a phase line or target reference point on either fire plans or the operations overlay.

Sector of Fire

A sector of fire is an area required to be covered by an individual weapon or a unit. Primary and secondary sectors may be assigned. Sectors of fire are used to orient the fires of the designated force. This is not a restrictive fire control measure. Dangerous targets or targets of opportunity outside the sector should be engaged.

Disengagement Criteria

Disengagement criteria provide guidance to the unit commander or leader on the decision point at which displacement to subsequent positions is to occur. Execution of the mission without delay is the benefit. The commander may designate a break line or point to begin disengagement. The operation can proceed in the absence or breakdown of communications. Disengagement is not rote execution. The commander or leader of the unit weighs the criteria against the commander's intent.

Disengagement criteria are defined in recognizable terms. They must allow time for the unit to successfully disengage once the decision has been made. Based on the commander's intent, they may be established as destroying a certain number. They may not be established as a percentage of enemy vehicles or a percentage of friendly unit losses. Rather, they should be defined in terms of enemy unit actions, such as-

  • Penetrating an obstacle.
  • Crossing a phase line.
  • Effective suppression on the position.
  • Specified maneuver action of an enemy unit (flanking move by advance guard battalion against a position).

Backbrief and Rehearsal

Backbriefs and rehearsals are particularly valuable while preparing for defensive operations. They allow the commander to ensure that his concept is understood, problems are resolved, and details are coordinated. Rehearsals are critical for movements and coordinated engagements. Backbriefs should occur at the location of the subordinate.

Engagement Area

An engagement area is an area in which the commander intends to trap and destroy an enemy force with the massed fires of all available weapons (see Figure 6-4). The destruction of the enemy in an engagement area is frequently the critical part of the battle or phase of the operation. Engagement areas are routinely identified by a target reference point in the center of the area or by prominent terrain around the area. They are not intended to restrict or cause operations to become static or fixed. Defensive systems are not designed around engagement areas, but rather around avenues of approach. Do not use an engagement area when less restrictive fire control measures are appropriate. An engagement area may be developed through terrain analysis determining locations along avenues of approach where the enemy can mass, presenting a lucrative target. A defensive plan to destroy the enemy at this location is designed using the engagement area as a critical component.

Engagement areas are normally terrain dependent and must be recognizable on the ground. They are open areas. To mass fires, the engagement area is structured. Obstacles canalize the enemy into the area, and once there, slow his progress, providing extended engagement times and massed targets. Indirect fires are planned on the obstacles, in the area, and in depth to suppress the attacker and to separate echelons. Troops are positioned, frequently in battle positions, to mass their fires. Sectors of fire within the engagement area may be designated. Counterattacks are planned to hit the enemy on a flank or his rear. These counterattacks are controlled by use of a direction of attack and possibly on-order battle positions to prevent squadron units from engaging each other. Counterattacks are planned both deep and shallow. Air and ground assets are most effective when used together, forcing the enemy to fight in multiple directions. A joint air attack team may be part of the attack. (For further discussion of engagement area preparation, see FM 90-7.)

Figure 6-4. Engagement area.


During a security mission, the scheme of maneuver may be an ambush of a moving enemy force in depth as it passes the screen line. An ambush is a surprise attack by fire from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy. An air and ground team is especially effective for an ambush. Hasty obstacles stopping or slowing the enemy provide increased effectiveness of the ambush. (See Figure 6-5.)

Figure 6-5. Ambush.


Fire Support

Supporting fires are planned and used in the following situations:

  • At long-range to disrupt, slow, and disorganize the enemy and force him to button up.
  • On likely enemy overwatch positions.
  • To provide illumination.
  • To cover disengagement, movements, and counterattacks.
  • Along covered and concealed avenues of approach to destroy enemy dismounted infantry. Mortars and field artillery are particularly effective against dismounted infantry. Final protective fires used to destroy assaulting infantry are planned close-in to battle positions and are fired to break the assault.
  • To defeat dismounted breaching attempts.
  • To provide smoke for disengagement.
  • To deliver FASCAM on avenues of approach where movement is choked, and to close lanes, gaps, or enemy breaches in obstacles. FASCAM is most effective when tied in with other obstacles and covered by observation and direct fire. The delivery of ADAM/RAAMS must be synchronized to ensure its delivery does not interfere with the requirement to deliver indirect fires when needed.
  • To suppress enemy forward air defense.

The squadron commander develops the scheme of maneuver and his intent for fire support concurrently. The fire support officer must know when and where the commander wants fire support. In addition, he must fully understand what the commander wants in the way of effects, duration, and timing. The fire support officer then coordinates with the air liaison officer and engineer to develop an initial fire plan. This plan is refined based on input from troop commanders and fire support officers. The troop fire support officer and scouts execute fires. The squadron commander and fire support officer may orchestrate this by establishing an event-oriented scheme of fire support.

In the regimental armored cavalry squadron, the fires of the howitzer battery are integrated into the scheme of maneuver. The commander of the howitzer battery serves as the squadron fire support coordinator, and works in conjunction with the squadron commander and fire support officer in developing the fire support plan.

Squadron priority targets are planned on the most dangerous enemy avenues of approach. They may be suballocated to units covering these approaches. The designated priority targets are shifted as the battle develops. The commander also designates priority of fires, normally to the unit designated as the main effort.

Mobility and Survivability

The commander establishes a general priority of engineer tasks to be accomplished. Priority of effort is normally to countermobility, survivability, and mobility. In the armored cavalry regiment, the regimental commander determines priority of engineer support and allocates his assets accordingly. These assets will always consist of the regimental engineer company, and may include other engineer units. The division cavalry squadron relies on attached engineer assets for engineer support. At squadron level, the commander determines the priority of engineer tasks to be accomplished.

Priorities may be further assigned to key pieces of engineer equipment. Priority tasks and allocation of engineer assets must support the main effort and work must begin as soon as possible. The squadron may provide manpower, additional equipment, and supplies to support the engineer effort.

Mobility tasks are performed to develop covered and concealed routes into and out of battle positions along critical displacement routes in sector. Emphasis is on improving or maintaining existing routes rather than constructing new ones.

Survivability positions are prepared in battle positions to protect dismounted troops, weapons, and vehicles. Individual and crew-served weapons positions are constructed to provide protection against shrapnel from air burst, but not direct hits. Fighting positions for vehicles are constructed with both hull-down and turret-down locations.

Obstacles support the commander's intent and are fully integrated into the concept of the operation. Obstacles are grouped into two general categories: existing and reinforcing.


Obstacle integration is the process of ensuring that the obstacle effects are integrated into the scheme of maneuver. Obstacle integration cuts across all functional areas and all echelons. Commanders at all levels must integrate existing and reinforcing obstacles in their engagement area as part of their planning considerations. An understanding of the basic principles behind obstacle integration is essential for commanders and staffs at all levels. These principles are the cornerstone for obstacle planning discussed in FM 90-7. Commanders and staffs consider the following to ensure that obstacles have the desired impact on the battle:

  • Intelligence.
  • Obstacle intent.
  • Fires and obstacle effects.
  • Obstacles and operations in depth.
  • Obstacle control.
  • Echelons of obstacle planning.

Obstacles are used by defending forces to canalize the enemy into areas where he is most vulnerable to concentrated direct fires and to hold him there as long as possible. At regimental level, obstacles are planned in belts, and squadrons emplace the obstacles within those belts. Additionally, squadrons emplace reserve obstacles that are typically directed by higher headquarters.

The following are guidelines for obstacle employment:

  • Obstacles are continuously observed and covered by direct and indirect fires. A specific unit is assigned responsibility for protecting each obstacle. This includes protecting the obstacle during limited visibility and checking it at first light to ensure that it has not been breached.
  • Point obstacles placed at irregular locations are used along secondary, restrictive approaches to slow rapid movement. These might not always be covered by direct fire.
  • Emplacement time is reduced and effectiveness increased when emplaced obstacles reinforce existing obstacles. The combined effect produces a substantial barrier that may form a key part of the defense.
  • Obstacles must not hinder planned friendly movement. Lanes and gaps through obstacles may be needed to allow movement. If so, a plan prescribes who closes the lane or gap. Troop commanders usually control and close gaps and lanes in their areas.
  • Obstacles are employed in depth. Obstacles must be far enough apart so that each one will require a new deployment of the enemy's counterobstacle force and equipment.
  • Hasty protective minefields are used for short periods or for specific missions. They are emplaced at troop level without regard to any standard pattern or density. Mines must be readily detectable and removable by the installing unit. Normally, mines carried on fighting vehicles are used for hasty protective minefields. The Volcano mine system installed on a UH-60 is capable of emplacing hasty minefields.
  • Obstacles are emplaced to surprise the enemy. Security forces must be forward to deter enemy observation of obstacle construction. Obstacles should be in defilade and camouflaged if possible. Dummy obstacles are used to confuse the enemy.
  • The exact position of each obstacle is coordinated between the engineer, troop commander, and the fire support officer to ensure adequate coverage. Since planned obstacle sites are often adjusted on the ground to accommodate direct fire coverage, the fire support officer must reconfirm target locations after obstacles are emplaced.
  • Situational obstacles allow the commander to shift scarce assets to the location he needs them most, based on the situation. The commander can use situational obstacles to-
  • Attack an enemy vulnerability.
  • Exploit success.
  • Separate follow-on enemy forces.
  • Provide flank protection.
  • The design components of the situational obstacles are intent, target, location, and effect. Situational obstacles can be made of both conventional mines and FASCAM. Further information on situational obstacles can be found in FM 90-7.


Throughout the planning process, the regimental commander plans for possible enemy use of NBC weapons and for employment of NBC defense units. The commander also determines decontamination priorities. The S3 and the chemical section analyze all plans and operations of forces and installations to determine their vulnerability to NBC weapons. The commander specifies the degree of risk he is willing to accept. The regimental chemical section can suggest changes to the concept of the operation if the concept involves unacceptable risks from enemy weapons.

Regimental NBC reconnaissance operations in the defense normally focus on identifying clean areas, battle positions, movement routes, decontamination sites, and contaminated areas that directly affect operations. The information gathered from the reconnaissance effort is immediately passed to higher, lower, and adjacent units.

Air Defense Artillery

During preparation of the defense, ADA priority goes to units preparing positions and obstacles. Once positions are prepared, priority goes to critical assets or locations. These may include command posts, trains, the reserve, choke points, river-crossing sites, or other high payoff targets. IPB determines the air avenues of approach into and through the defensive sector. ADA assets may be positioned along these avenues of approach to provide area coverage or at critical locations to provide point defense.


The military intelligence (MI) company in the armored cavalry regiment provides intelligence and electronic warfare (IEW) support to regimental operations. The division cavalry squadron relies on support from the division MI battalion.

The regimental MI company conducts surveillance and collection and jamming (C&J) activities in support of regimental operations. In some situations, the corps may provide additional IEW assets. In defensive operations, ground surveillance radars (GSR) are positioned well forward to provide early detection and location of enemy elements. They may also be positioned along flank avenues of approach. GSRs are very effective during limited visibility and may be used to vector maneuver units, particularly in the reserve, during limited-visibility operations. C&J assets are positioned to detect enemy activity as far forward as possible and to employ electronic countermeasures (ECM) against enemy communication nets as early as possible. The regimental commander will normally designate priorities for the C&J effort. The jamming effort is usually directed against enemy reconnaissance, command and control, or fire control nets. Enemy reconnaissance can be jammed initially while command and control nets may be jammed at critical points of the battle, such as during the destruction of an enemy force in an engagement area.

The division cavalry squadron employs IEW assets in the same manner. The amount of IEW support it receives from the division MI battalion is METT-T dependent, but could include an attachment of GSRs, as a minimum.

The regimental MI company also contains a counterintelligence team, an interrogation team, and a technical control and analysis element. FM 34-35 contains a detailed description of IEW operations in the regiment and the functions performed by the regimental MI company.

Combat Service Support

Combat trains are positioned well forward to provide rapid support during preparation and at the start of the battle. They are positioned out of range of enemy direct fire weapons and make use of available cover and concealment. Positions are prepared for defense against enemy attack. Subsequent positions are planned and reconnoitered to maintain survivability without degrading support. Class IV and Class V are normally the most critical logistical considerations. Movement of support traffic along main supply routes must not interfere with movement of maneuver units, especially the reserve.


The commander can expect an attacker to use night and limited visibility conditions to-

  • Reconnoiter the defender's weapons, obstacles, and positions.
  • Move assault overwatch elements into position.
  • Infiltrate infantry.
  • Breach obstacles.
  • Move elements through gaps in the defender's coverage caused by reduced ranges of weapons.

Defending during limited visibility, especially at night, will be a normal condition. The defender must be able to rapidly modify or design the defense to negate the impact of limited visibility on the operation. Squadrons establish signals that initiate direct fire and indirect fire engagements, lift and shift fires, and initiate movement. The following considerations apply to limited visibility operations:

  • Use long-range detection equipment (radar, sensors, night observation devices) on well-defined avenues of approach.
  • Increase surveillance of obstacles, potential enemy overwatch and assault positions, and routes into them.
  • Redeploy some units and weapons along avenues of approach that the enemy will likely use during limited visibility.
  • Use more scouts, observation posts, patrols, and infantry (if available) on secondary avenues of approach and between positions to detect and slow enemy infiltration.
  • Use point obstacles and early warning devices along likely night approaches to slow the enemy and to alert defenders to enemy presence.
  • Plan and rehearse the required movement of weapons and units and the massing of fires.
  • Plan illumination on or behind likely engagement areas to silhouette enemy while leaving defenders in shadows and darkness. While illumination is not needed with thermal sights, it may be needed for dismounted infantry.
  • Movement to night defensive positions should begin just before dark, and the return to daylight positions should be completed before dawn.

Section III. Defend in Sector

Defend in sector requires the defending unit to prevent enemy forces from passing beyond the rear boundary of the sector, while retaining flank security, and ensuring integrity within the parent unit's scheme of maneuver. Initial positions are generally established as far forward as possible, but a commander may use any technique to accomplish the mission. This is the least restrictive defensive mission and is the most common mission assigned to cavalry. The sector is defined by boundaries that enclose the area of responsibility.

The commander is expected to defeat the enemy within his assigned sector boundaries. No cohesive enemy combat force may penetrate the rear boundary. This is essentially a force-oriented defensive mission. Terrain is used to structure the battle and position unit assets advantageously. If a piece of terrain is considered key or decisive, a subordinate troop or attached company team can be given a battle position mission. The regiment, squadron, or troop may defend in sector. This mission may be performed as follows:

  • During reconnaissance when a large enemy force is encountered.
  • During guard missions for both a stationary and a moving force.
  • During covering force operations or when operating as part of the covering force.
  • When defending as an economy of force.

Unit commanders are given maximum freedom of action within the intent of the higher commander. Sectors are generally deeper than they are wide to permit the defending unit to fight the battle in depth and to provide sufficient space for combat support and combat service support assets. Coordination on the flanks is critical. Command and control must ensure this occurs.


The regimental commander will normally assign squadron sectors based on enemy regimental avenues of approach. Troops are then oriented on battalion-size avenues of approach. Depending on the regimental scheme of maneuver and the frontage of the defense, the armored cavalry squadron is usually deployed abreast. The aviation squadron may be assigned its own sector, but it normally works in conjunction with the ground squadrons, maintaining surveillance of suspected enemy avenues of approach.

The fundamentals of a defense in sector at squadron level are the same for both the regimental and division cavalry squadrons. However, since the organizations are different, there are some differences in planning for a defense in sector. The size of the squadron sector is a factor of the type squadron, reinforcements available, enemy threat, and terrain.

The squadron commander must perform the following actions:

  • Allocate maneuver space to subordinate troops.
  • Control direct fires by use of fire control measures.
  • Maintain flank coordination internally and externally by use of control measures, liaison officers, and other techniques.
  • Integrate obstacles, fire support, and air defense into the maneuver plan. If supporting artillery is operating in sector, it is placed forward to fire beyond the initial scout screen line. The regimental squadron commander must also ensure the fires of his howitzer battery are planned to provide support beyond the initial screen line. Subsequent positions are planned in depth to continue uninterrupted support. Coordination with main battle area units behind the squadron may be required for artillery firing positions to continue support as the squadron fights back through the sector. Priority of fire is initially designated to the troop astride the most dangerous avenue of approach.
  • Position security forward and to the flanks and rear as necessary. This task is normally performed by air and ground scouts.
  • Integrate limited visibility positions or actions into the plan.
  • Clearly define the intent of the higher commander and his own to subordinates so they can execute in the absence of effective communications.
  • Define limits of subordinate action to include movement, engagement, disengagement, and counterattack.
  • Set priorities for movement on routes during repositioning, disengagement, or counterattack.

The squadron plans the defense in depth all the way to the rear of the sector. Preparations are normally conducted from front to rear. The defense may hinge on several succeeding key terrain features. They are used to structure the defense in depth or by phases and can be prioritized for preparation. Combat support assets are synchronized with the defense. The squadron must be ready to fight throughout the assigned depth of the sector.

Combat service support is planned in depth as well. Initial and subsequent positions are defined and coordinated with troop commanders. Combat trains are well forward and field trains are well to the rear or out of sector, collocated with a brigade forward support battalion or in the regimental support area. Class III and Class V can be pre-positioned in depth at subsequent positions or at logistics release points for pick up by unit first sergeants. Combat service support prepares to support forward, but remains mobile to rapidly displace as the battle develops. Battle damage assessment and repair and evacuation of combat vehicles must be done efficiently and by priority to preclude leaving valuable assets in the hands of the enemy. Combat service support operators must monitor the progress of the battle to remain abreast of the developing situation.


Schemes of maneuver center on the use of battle positions, sectors, or a combination of battle positions and sectors for subordinate troops or platoons. Figure 6-3 lists considerations for each. As stated earlier, the regimental commander normally assigns squadrons sectors to defend. His assigned sector is normally too wide to do otherwise. He may assign a battle position to a squadron or an attached battalion task force if there is decisive terrain he feels is absolutely necessary to control. At squadron and troop level, commanders have the flexibility of defending in troop sectors, from battle positions, or a combination of both. These basic schemes of maneuver can be used in designing a course of action.

The squadron or troop can defend using sectors (see Figure 6-6). Sectors are used when the enemy situation is vague, avenues of approach are numerous, or troops require greater freedom of action. The commander delegates much of the responsibility for conducting the fight to the troop commanders or platoon leaders. He maintains control through effective control measures and a clearly understood intent. In the regimental cavalry squadron, the squadron commander retains control of the tank company, and positions his howitzer battery so it can effectively support the squadron sector.

The squadron or troop can defend using battle positions (see Figure 6-7). This method is used when the enemy situation is clear, avenues of approach are few, or the commander must coordinate subordinate fires. In this scheme of maneuver the commander retains most of the authority for fighting the battle. The squadron commander and the S3 are positioned well forward, perhaps along two major avenues of approach, to control execution of the battle. Troop commanders must understand their authority to execute the concept in the absence of communications to prevent the squadron holding in place and risking destruction. Troop commanders will normally use this method for subordinate platoons when assigned a sector.

The squadron or troop can defend using a combination of sectors and battle positions (see Figure 6-8). This is considered the most common occurrence for the squadron. Ground troops can be assigned sectors, while air cavalry troops and the reserve are assigned battle positions to mass their fires at critical points. Ground troops can also be assigned battle positions for occupation at critical points or as contingencies. This approach can be used when changes in terrain, weather, or enemy situation throughout the depth of the sector dictate. It may also be used if squadron command and control is degraded during the course of the battle, making more centralized control necessary. These shifts can be planned in advance or ordered during the fight. Control measures and techniques used are a combination of the other two methods.

Figure 6-6. Defend using sectors.

Figure 6-7. Defend using battle positions.

Figure 6-8. Defend using a combination of sectors and battle positions.

Section IV. Defend a Battle Position

This mission places a unit in a battle position to concentrate its fires, to limit its maneuver, or to place it in an advantageous position to counterattack. The battle position is a general location on the ground. The commander positions his forces on the best terrain within and in the vicinity of the position. Security forces may be positioned forward of and about the position. He can also locate combat support and combat service support elements outside the battle position. The commander or leader can maneuver his forces freely within the battle position and seize the initiative to maneuver outside the position to attack the enemy.

Squadrons normally do not defend battle positions. They are seldom assigned sectors that allow for defense from a battle position. Regimental squadrons at full strength generally have too much combat power to organize a single battle position. The air and ground troop mix in division cavalry does not lend itself to fighting from a squadron battle position. The regimental commander normally assigns this mission to an attached battalion task force and assigns sectors to his squadrons. Situations may occur where a squadron is required to defend a battle position (such as a squadron being committed to block a penetration). In these situations, the squadron uses those techniques outlined in FM 71-2. Troops and companies often defend from battle positions. They do so under the following conditions:

  • During reconnaissance when stopped by a large enemy force.
  • As part of guard missions for a moving or stationary force.
  • During a squadron defend in sector mission.
  • As part of a squadron economy-of-force mission.

The tank company of the regimental cavalry squadron, in its role as the squadron reserve, may defend from a battle position initially. This battle position may be oriented on a major engagement area, or it may be a position from which the company will perform counterattacks.

The squadron normally specifies tasks for troops assigned a battle position. The troop is generally required to orient its weapon systems on an enemy avenue of approach using target reference points or engagement areas. Specific tasks can include the following actions:

  • Destroy a certain enemy force from the battle position.
  • Control key terrain or block an avenue of approach by holding the battle position against a determined assault.
  • Reorient weapon systems on a secondary avenue of approach from supplementary positions.
  • Disengage and displace to a subsequent battle position when certain criteria have been met.


In selecting a battle position for subordinate troops, the squadron commander thinks two levels down in terms of platoons. He considers the type of platoons required to defend the terrain. This helps to determine task organization within the squadron and positioning of available troops or attached company teams. He must provide sufficient space in each battle position to allow dispersed primary and alternate firing positions. Room for limited visibility, supplementary, and hide positions, and locations for combat trains are also considered.

The commander can vary the troop's degree of maneuver by the size of the battle position. A small battle position tends to mass the fires more and limits the use of alternate and supplemental positions. A larger battle position facilitates alternate and supplemental positions, use of overwatch to support maneuver in depth, and execution of local counterattacks. Larger battle positions also reduce the necessity for coordination to move outside and increase dispersion in a nuclear and chemical environment. A battle position need not be a standard oval shape that suggests a linear defense, but should conform to the terrain and requirements of the defensive tasks assigned.

The ground troop commander normally assigns platoon battle positions within the troop battle position (see Figure 6-9). He considers the same factors discussed above. Alternate and supplementary platoon positions can be designated as separate battle positions to keep each position small and orientation clear. In the regimental cavalry troop, tank platoon battle positions are oriented on the engagement area the troop will execute from that position. Scouts are normally positioned on the flanks to provide security and to harass the enemy with indirect fire and long-range missile fires. Scouts may also be used to augment the fires of the tank platoons in the execution of the troop engagement area.

Air cavalry troops and attack troops use battle positions primarily to orient the fires of attack helicopters. Concealed routes in and out and concealed firing positions oriented on the flank of the anticipated enemy force characterize these battle positions. These positions can be located over ground totally unsuitable for ground forces as an added surprise to the enemy. Adequate space must be provided for scout helicopters and alternate firing positions.

Figure 6-9. Troop battle position.

Positioning outside the battle position is often necessary. Security forward or to the flanks may be required. This is normally a screen mission assigned to a scout platoon. Space within the battle position is allocated to the scout platoon if it is to displace inside during the fight. The commander plans withdrawal routes that preclude masking the fires of platoons in the battle positions. Scouts may also be required to maintain flank contact or to reconnoiter subsequent battle positions during a hasty defense. Coordination with flank units and the squadron is essential when moving forward of or to the flank of the battle position. Mortars, command posts, and combat trains often are stationed outside the battle position, normally behind it where they can provide responsive support. If the mission requires displacement to a subsequent battle position, the command post can initially occupy that position to provide continuity of command and control.


Occupation of a battle position can occur as a deliberate or hasty defense. Figure 6-10 summarizes actions taken in each case.

Leaders reconnaissance Physical reconnaissance by CO, XO, platoon leaders, FSO Map reconnaissance
Chemical reconnaissance Troop quartering party (chemical detection team) Platoon chemical detection teams
Security Scout platoon security force with reconnaissance/quartering party Platoon OPs
Occupation of initial positions Troop quartering party (platoon guides) Platoon leaders using visual signals, messengers, and FM radio
Establish communications Troop wire net established FM radio/messengers
Confirm fields of fire Platoon fire plan confirmed and sent to troop commander Sectors of fire assigned and confirmed using cardinal direction, clock method, TIRS, and other existing graphics
Battlefield preparations Preparation of positions, obstacles, and routes IAW OPORD or SOP Preparation of positions and obstacles IAW SOP as time permits

Figure 6-10. Deliberate versus hasty preparation.

CSS Resupply and prestock Class III and V. Service station and tailgate techniques can be used Use service station resupply technique to accomplish resupply as time and enemy situation permit
Crew rest Commander determines stand-to times and REDCON status. Platoons establish sleep plans IAW REDCON status. Governed by SOP. Commander determines current REDCON status and level of alert
Coordinate with higher, adjacent, and supporting units Extensive face-to-face
coordination IAW SOP and
- Confirmation of fire plans
- Coordination of flanks
- Obstacle coordination
(handover, execution,
- Indirect fire planning
- Passage of lines
Coordination via available
communications means
(radio/messenger) in accordance with
SOP as time permits

Figure 6-10. Deliberate versus hasty preparation (continued).

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