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Chapter 2


Section I. Troop Leading Procedures
Section II. Situational Awareness
Section III. Communications
Section IV. Techniques of Tactical Control
Section V. Command Guidance and Organizational Control
Section VI. Tactical Movement Formations

Battle Command

Battle command is the art of battle decision making, leading and motivating soldiers and their organizations into action to accomplish missions. Battle command includes visualizing the current state and the future state, then formulating concepts of operations to get from one state to the other at least cost. Other functions of battle command include assigning missions; prioritizing and allocating resources; selecting the critical time and place to act; and knowing how and when to make adjustments during the fight.

Instantaneous response to orders is the hallmark of effective battle command in any cavalry operation. Leaders must quickly analyze information, make tactical decisions, and turn those decisions into successful battlefield actions.

Battle command of cavalry units is typically decentralized due to the size of the area of operations, vagueness of the enemy situation, and terrain unknowns. This places the burden of sound, timely decision making at the lowest levels. Leaders must develop a keen sense of situational awareness and constantly track the actions of subordinate units as well as those to the front, flank, and rear.

Effective battle command begins in the planning phase and continues through the execution phase of each mission. This chapter outlines the tools and techniques a troop commander needs to effectively command and control a cavalry troop in combat.

Section I. Troop Leading Procedures

The nine troop leading procedures are--

  • Receive and analyze the mission.
  • Issue a warning order.
  • Make a tentative plan.
  • Start necessary movement.
  • Conduct a reconnaissance.
  • Make final decisions and complete the plan.
  • Issue an operations order.
  • Rehearse.
  • Supervise and refine.

Receive and Analyze the Mission

The troop commander will receive missions from squadron in the form of written, briefed, or radioed operation orders (OPORD) and fragmentary orders (FRAGO). Upon receipt of a mission, he will conduct a mission analysis to determine the who, what, when, where, and whyelements of the mission and how much time is available until mission execution.

The mission analysis must identify the following:

  • Specified tasks.
  • Implied tasks.
  • Essential tasks.
  • Intent of the higher commander.
  • Any constraints or limitations.
The items for analysis are derived from the squadron order as noted below.

  • Paragraph 2, MISSION.
  • Mission Statement.
  • Paragraph 3, EXECUTION.
  • Concept of the Operation.
  • Commander's Intent.
  • Maneuver.
  • Specific Instructions.
  • Coordinating Instructions.
  • Execution matrixes.
  • Thorough map reconnaissance.

List all specified and implied tasks not covered by unit SOP in a mission list. Identify those tasks that are vital to the squadron accomplishing its mission. These are essential tasks. Put the essential tasks in the form of a restated mission for the troop. The restated mission statement should be short and simple, and should cover who, what, when, where, and why.

One final note on this--keep the mission list at hand. It makes the job easier when preparing a course of action and assigning missions or tasks to platoons and sections.

Because time is usually the most limited resource available, it must be used as efficiently as possible. Figure out what has to be done and what can be done in the time available. Use the backwards planning process to determine when critical events in the planning process must occur and stick to the timeline developed. Get the timeline out to subordinates in the warning order. Strive to use no more than one-third of the time available in the planning process at troop level. The remaining two-thirds is for subordinate leaders to plan and prepare.

Consider the following in terms of time when conducting mission analysis and preparing the troop warning order:

  • Combat service support.
  • Precombat inspections.
  • Route reconnaissance (time/distance factors):
  • Assembly area to route start point.
  • Start point to command posts.
  • Command posts to release point.
  • Release point to line of departure.
  • Subordinate's planning time.
  • Platoon rehearsals:
  • Battle drill rehearsals.
  • Actions on contact.
  • Obstacle breaching/emplacement.
  • Movement formations.

Note. The preparatory actions above are triggered by receipt of a warning order at platoon level.

  • Time to issue troop OPORD.

Note. One-third of the available time includes the time it takes to issue the troop OPORD.

  • Troop rehearsals:
  • Backbriefs.
  • Rock drills.
  • Radio rehearsals.
  • Time to move from--
  • Assembly area to line of departure.
  • Phase line to phase line.
  • Line of departure to objective.
  • Effect of weather on movement.
Once the mission and time available have been analyzed, move to the next step in the trooping leading procedures.

Issue a Warning Order

Issue the warning order promptly. Elements of the warning order include--

  • Situation.
  • Mission.
  • Earliest time of movement.
  • Time and place of OPORD.
  • Attachments and detachments.
  • Actions triggered:
  • Security.
  • Reconnaissance.
  • Combat service support actions.
  • Precombat inspections.
  • Sleep plans.
  • Rehearsals.

Make a Tentative Plan

Develop a course of action (COA). Consider the factors of METT-T when developing two, or better yet, three separate COAs.

See Receive and Analyze the Mission paragraph above.

In addition to the factors mentioned in the Receive and Analyze the Mission paragraph above, the commander should consider the following details in relation to time when developing his tentative plan.

  • Time to move from--

    Line of departure to phase lines.
    Phase line to phase line.
    Line of departure to objective.
  • Time for enemy to--
  • Effect of weather on movement and identification of friend or foe.
  • Effect of NBC operations on movement.

Conduct intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB). IPB integrates enemy doctrine with weather and terrain to determine and evaluate enemy capabilities, vulnerabilities, and probable courses of action. IPB is a key part of preparing for battle. Much of the IPB workup can be found in Paragraph 1 of the squadron OPORD.

Analyze terrain in the area of operations. Consider the factors of OCOKA. (Arranged here in a more logical, systematic approach, based on IPB procedures and preparation of the modified combined obstacle overlay [MCOO].)

Obstacles. Identify all obstacles and restricted and severely restricted terrain throughout the sector or zone (a terrain sketch may be beneficial). Consider the following as obstacles:

  • - Water.

    Power lines.

  • - Bridges.


  • - Slopes.


  • - Embankments.


  • - Existing engineer obstacles.

    Wooded areas.

  • Terrain that flows around, or in some instances through or over, the obstacles identified is the primary maneuver corridor, or avenue of approach.
    Avenues of Approach.Consider the following for each avenue of approach:
  • - What size force does it support? In what formation?

    Does it support long range observation and fields of fire? From where?

  • - Does it provide any cover and concealment? Where?

    Where does it lead?

    Through sector/zone?

    Enters/exits a flank?

  • The answers to these questions will help determine what terrain, if any, is key terrain.

    Key Terrain. Key terrain is that terrain which control over would provide a clear advantage over another force. Seizing, securing, or even avoiding key terrain in sector/zone will figure prominently in the final plan. Identify what terrain is key and evaluate it in terms of observation and fields of fire along each avenue of approach.

  • n Observation/Fields of Fire. Evaluate all terrain along the avenues of approach in terms of observation and fields of fire. Determine the following:

    What terrain provides the best observation of critical areas or along avenues of approach?

    At night?

    When visibility is obscured by smoke or fog?

  • - What terrain offers effective range of friendly and enemy weapon systems?

    What terrain provides the best fields of fire? For what size force?

  • n Cover and Concealment. Evaluate all terrain along the avenues of approach in terms of cover and concealment. Determine the following:

    What terrain affords the best cover and concealment to the enemy and to the friendly forces?

  • - Where are likely hide positions that support potential enemy and friendly battle positions?

    What routes would a force use to move from hide positions to battle positions?

    Troops Available
    Analyze the troops available to execute the mission. Determine the following:


  • - What is the strength of the platoons in the troop?

    Can all weapon systems be manned?

  • - How is the morale of the troop?

    What is the experience level of the troop?

  • - What training and skills are required? Are specialists such as engineers needed?

    What is the general health status and fatigue level of the soldiers?

  • n Equipment.

    How many weapon systems are operational and employable?

  • - Is special equipment or additional equipment needed to accomplish the mission?

    Start Necessary Movement

    While developing his tentative plan, the commander may decide to reposition some of his forces before the operation starts so that he is prepared to meet mission requirements. If the entire troop needs to move, he will often execute the movement in accordance with a squadron plan. The amount of time he has to reposition his forces is determined by the readiness condition (REDCON) in effect.

    Note. See Chapter 7 for a discussion of REDCON.

    Conduct a Reconnaissance

    If sufficient time is available after determining his tentative course of action, the commander should make every effort to get out into his AO and look at the terrain. Ground reconnaissance is the norm; however, air transportation may be available. Staying on the ground gives a better feel for the terrain than does reconnoitering by helicopter, but it is slower. Although faster, aerial reconnaissance does not provide an appreciation of the terrain from a vehicle commander's point of view in terms of fields of fire and cover and concealment. If circumstances permit, subordinate leaders should accompany the commander to help perform the reconnaissance. It gives them an opportunity to become familiar with the area.

    Make Final Decisions and Complete the Plan

    Based on the new information gathered by his personal reconnaissance, the commander makes final adjustments to his plan and nails down the details. Once the plan is complete, he prepares the order. Troop orders need not be written and handed to subordinate leaders. Speak face to face with them if possible. Put the plan in the form of a standard five-paragraph field order. Jot it down in a notebook so every detail can be recalled.

    Issue the Operations Order

    Assemble the orders group.
    Make sure everyone in the orders group is present. Issue necessary graphics to subordinate leaders and give them time to prepare their maps. Ensure the overlays are neat and accurate. Messy overlays with broad pen strokes cause confusion and waste valuable time. Once the subordinate's overlays are prepared, check them for accuracy. (A technique for ensuring accuracy is to include in the order a list of grid coordinates for key locations that might be ambiguous in the operational graphics. Even neat graphics, once copied from squadron down to platoon, may often deviate by as much as 500 meters.) Arrange the orders group in a semicircle from left to right in the order in which they will be addressed when giving specific instructions.

    Issue the order.
    Use notes when issuing the order; do not rely on memory. If possible, issue the order while overlooking the AO. Keep in mind that the order will be translated a couple of times before the privates receive it, and it must make sense to them. Talk in their language. The order should be short and simple, and must be logical and easy to follow; be clear, organized, and concise so that no one becomes confused. Misunderstanding the commander's intent most often occurs in the transmission of orders to the platoon leader and his subordinates.

    Note. See Appendix C for the operations order format and sample OPORD.

    Conduct the confirmation brief.
    Immediately after the order is issued, call for questions from the subordinate leaders. After all questions concerning the order have been answered, begin the confirmation brief by each of the troop's subordinate leaders.

    The confirmation brief is used by the commander to confirm that his intent and guidance for the conduct of the operation are clearly understood by everyone in the orders group before they are dismissed to begin their planning. The confirmation brief adjourns only when the commander is confident his subordinates understand their mission, his and the higher commander's intent, his concept of the operation, the scheme of maneuver, the time plan, and the type and location of the rehearsal.


    Rehearsals are of paramount importance before executing any plan. Rehearsals help in the following ways.

    • Clarify the commander's intent.
    • Expose combat, combat support, combat service support, or disconnected activities in the plan.
    • Reinforce the scheme of maneuver and fire support plan.
    • Focus on actions and decision points critical to mission accomplishment.
    • Ensure subordinates explicitly understand their missions, how their missions relate to each other, and how each mission relates to the commander's plan.
    • Outline conditions that, when present, would necessitate execution of branch plans.
    • Provide feedback to the commander.

    Rehearsals instill confidence in participants by-

    • Giving participants faith in the success of their own plan as well as in their commander's plan.
    • Providing subordinates with purpose, direction, and motivation.
    • Enabling leaders to execute missions with speed, flexibility, and audacity.

    There are generally seven types of rehearsals--full, key leader, terrain model, sketch map, map, radio, and backbrief. Preparation time and resources for each range from extensive to minimal. At troop level, the most common rehearsal types are backbrief, map, sketch map, terrain model, and radio.

    During the backbrief, each subordinate leader briefs the commander of how he intends to accomplish his mission before he issues his OPORD to his respective unit. By having subordinates explain their intent and concept of operation, the commander can ensure their plans support his own. Flaws or potential problems with the plan may be revealed at this time.

    Do not confuse the backbrief rehearsal with the confirmation brief the commander uses immediately after he issues an OPORD to determine how well his subordinate leaders understand the order.

    Map/Sketch Map/Terrain Model.
    Using either a map and overlay of the same scale as used to plan and execute the operation, a large scale sketch map, or a terrain model, the commander and subordinate leaders move unit markers in a sequential (either by phase, event, or time), interactive, verbal execution of the operation. These type rehearsals are essentially conducted like a war game to show the planned sequence of action-reaction-counteraction to critical events or phases of the operation. This is a good opportunity to coordinate not only actions of the unit but also critical locations such as contact points, checkpoints, boundaries, battle positions, and hide positions among subordinate leaders.

    Using existing communications networks (either FM or wire), the commander and subordinate leaders verbally and interactively execute critical portions of the operation. This technique can have obvious communications security disadvantages; if so, then only the essential, most critical portions of the operation are rehearsed. Radio rehearsals require few resources and little time and are best used in conjunction with other methods or to further refine the plan.

    Supervise and Refine

    The last step in troop leading procedures must not be neglected. Failure to supervise the execution of the order, or to refine the plan as the situation changes, is the road to ruin. The importance of this step cannot be overemphasized. Actions during the final step may include, but are not limited to, higher commander and his staff being present in the subordinate unit staff planning process.

    Section II. Situational Awareness

    Situational awareness is always keeping a clear picture of the tactical situation, both mentally and graphically. This picture includes both the friendly and enemy situation and an understanding of the relevant terrain. Since the troop normally operates dispersed over wide frontages, it is essential that all leaders maintain situational awareness so they can make sound, quick tactical decisions. Situational awareness also permits the leaders to anticipate events and relate separate pieces of information to form logical conclusions. One of the critical outcomes of situational awareness observed by all leaders is a reduction of fratricide incidents.

    Battlefield Framework

    How the commander has structured the battlefield impacts the troop commander's ability to maintain good situational awareness. A commander will structure the battlefield based on the conditions of METT-T. The framework of the battlefield can vary from a very rigid extreme with an obvious front and rear boundary and closely tied adjacent units, to a very dispersed and decentralized structure with no secure areas, unit boundaries, or definable front. Between these extremes is an unlimited number of possible variations. Maintaining situational awareness will become more difficult the more unstructured the battlefield is. Modern, highly mobile operations with small forces lend themselves to a less rigid framework which will challenge the ability to maintain a good picture of the battlefield.

    Picturing the Battlefield

    To have a good picture of the battlefield, all leaders must have virtually perfect knowledge of the friendly situation one level higher than their own. This means that all principal subordinate leaders must know the troop situation and the troop commander must know the squadron situation. All leaders must have accurate knowledge of the terrain, and they must know as much as possible about the enemy. The requirement to maintain a real-time picture of the battlefield one level higher does not relieve leaders of the requirement to understand the situation two levels higher. The difference is that a leader's understanding of the situation two levels higher than his own does not have to be as specific or in real time.

    Most of the information passed between elements is in the form of reports over FM radio. The troop commander receives many reports as a result of his troop graphics. Good graphics require that the subordinate elements report periodically as they accomplish tasks. The troop commander must be aware of when subordinates report so he will know how current his visualization of the situation is. If an element does not report in a timely manner, the commander must quickly determine the situation of the overdue element.

    Although many reports may not be addressed specifically to him, particularly on the squadron net, the commander must monitor them by eavesdropping on the nets as traffic is sent. How effectively he can accomplish this is, to some degree, experience dependent; however, there are techniques he can use to relate the information to his map and thereby track the tactical situation. The troop XO plays an important role in assisting the troop commander and platoon leaders in maintaining situational awareness. The troop XO provides leaders with periodic updates of friendly units to the front, flanks, and rear, based on traffic from the squadron operations and intelligence (OI) net.

    The commander's map is the key to maintaining situational awareness (see Figure 2-1). He should plot all friendly position reports up to one level higher than his own. Information from spot reports should also be plotted. Using different colors for friendly and enemy elements allows quick distinction. To avoid cluttering the map, he should place a dot or symbol with a number on his map where the element is located. The same number is then written in the map margin (or beyond the area of operations) with the complete spot report or unit identification next to it. This notation should also include the time. As positions or reports are updated, the old symbol is crossed off and a new one with a corresponding notation is added. This system allows the commander to easily track and monitor the tactical situation. This system is augmented by a formal operations log kept in the troop TOC by the XO or NCOIC.

    Figure 2-1. Sample situation map (troop commander).

    Battle Space

    Situational awareness, as previously discussed, is critical to successful reconnaissance and security missions; however, the troop commander's primary attention must be on his battle space. Battle space for the cavalry troop is determined by the location of individual platoons and sections, the range of direct-fire weapons, observation, sensors, and the terrain on which they are applied. This space is the immediate area over which the troop has influence. The troop commander must be aware of the general situation, but he must actively direct and manage all activity within his battle space. Most of the troop commander's command and control efforts focus on what is happening within his battle space and shaping his battle space to make it more efficient.


    Fratricide is a significant danger to all forces operating on a mobile battlefield where weapon system lethality is significantly greater than friend or foe identification ability. For this reason, situational awareness on the part of all leaders, particularly the commander, is critical not only to mission success but also to survival.
    Under these types of conditions, it is critical that the commander know where other friendly elements are operating. With this knowledge of the situation, he must anticipate dangerous situations and take steps to either avoid or mitigate them. The commander must constantly be vigilant to changes and developments in the situation that may place his elements in danger. He must also ensure all subordinate unit positions are constantly sent to higher headquarters so all other friendly elements are aware of where they are and what they are doing. When the commander perceives a potentially dangerous situation, he must personally use the squadron command net to coordinate directly with the friendly element involved.

    Section III. Communications


    Several troop radio nets are used to circulate the volume of information in any combat operation. A troop command net links the troop commander with his subordinate units (see Figure 2-2). A troop fire support net links subordinate units with the fire support team (FIST) and mortar section (see Figure 2-3). Each net has an assigned radio frequency, but not necessarily a dedicated radio.

    Figure 2-2. Troop command net.

    Figure 2-3. Troop fire support net.

    In the troop CP, three additional radio nets are established to link the troop with the SCO and his headquarters. The squadron operations and intelligence (OI) net is used primarily to transfer enemy and friendly information by FM radio. All routine and recurring reports from the troop to squadron are transmitted on this net. Squadron headquarters uses this net to transmit information about current enemy and friendly situations within the squadron's AO. It is often used to issue FRAGOs. The troop commander and the XO are linked to the SCO by an FM squadron command net. This net is reserved strictly for use by the SCO, XO, S3, and CPs; and by subordinate troop, company, and battery commanders. In addition, an AM squadron command net allows the SCO to command and control the squadron when it is spread over distances that exceed the range of FM radios (see Figure 2-4).

    Figure 2-4. Troop command post external nets.


    This tool is used by all cavalrymen. It is designed to give leaders time to think before they act. Most leaders have a hard time making decisions while they are talking on the radio. Decisions are usually better if the commander listens closely to what is said, and if he has uninterrupted time to consider information received. Eavesdropping is a method of communicating based on that principle. Everyone simply listens to the information sent from one leader to another, and unless necessary, stays off the radio net. In the troop, for example, reports from scout platoons are transmitted to the troop CP, where the XO reviews and records them. All others listen in and record the information themselves. Everyone stays off the net yet remains informed. If all or part of a transmission is missed, enter the net and quickly get the needed information from the troop CP.

    Fixed Call Signs

    Fixed call signs are tools that establish immediate identity of subunits and leaders, thereby reducing the length of transmissions on the radio. These call signs eliminate the confusion often caused by the ever-changing signal operation instructions (SOI). Each platoon is referred to by a color, and leaders are referred to by numbers. These call signs do not change. An example of fixed call signs for a cavalry troop is outlined below.

    Fixed Call Signs


      FIST..... Black 1
      Medics..... Black 2
      TOC..... Black 3
      Supply..... Black 4
      XO..... Black 5
      Commander..... Black 6
      1SG..... Black 7
      Maintenance..... Black 8
      Mortars..... Black 9
      NBC..... Black 10

    1ST PLATOON (Scout) [RED]
      Plt Ldr 11..... Red 1
      Sec Ldr 12..... Red 2
      Sqd Ldr 13..... Red 3
      PSG 14..... Red 4
      Sec Ldr 15..... Red 5
      Sqd Ldr 16..... Red 6
      *Sec Ldr 17..... Red 7
      *Sqd Ldr 18..... Red 8
      *Sec Ldr 19..... Red 9
      *Sqd Ldr 10..... Red 0

    2D PLATOON (Tank or AT) [WHITE]
      Plt Ldr 21..... White 1
      TC 22..... White 2
      TC 23..... White 3
      PSG 24..... White 4

    3D PLATOON (Scout) [BLUE]
      Plt Ldr 31..... Blue 1
      Sec Ldr 32..... Blue 2
      Sqd Ldr 33..... Blue 3
      PSG 34..... Blue 4
      Sec Ldr 35..... Blue 5
      Sqd Ldr 36..... Blue 6
      *Sec Ldr 37..... Blue 7
      *Sqd Ldr 38..... Blue 8
      *Sec Ldr 39..... Blue 9
      *Sqd Ldr 30..... Blue 0

    4TH PLATOON (Tank or AT) [GREEN]
      Plt Ldr 41..... Green 1
      TC 42..... Green 2
      TC 43..... Green 3
      PSG 44..... Green 4

    * Light troop only

    Choose your next action:

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