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Chapter 5

Defensive Operations

Successful defensive operations require strong emphasis on OPSEC. Proper OPSEC denies an enemy information about a friendly force's defensive preparations. Particularly important is the counterrecon battle, where defensive forces seek to blind an enemy by eliminating its recon forces. The winner of this preliminary battle is often the winner of the main battle. CCD, by virtue of its inherent role in counterefforts, plays an important role in both battles.


5-1. The purpose of CCD during defensive preparations is to mask key or sensitive activities. Successful CCD of these activities leads to an enemy force that is blinded or deceived and therefore more easily influenced to attack where the defender wants (at the strengths of the defense). These key activities include—

  • Preparing reserve and counterattack forces' locations.
  • Preparing survivability positions and constructing obstacles (minefields, tank ditches).
  • Establishing critical C2 nodes.


5-2. A number of signatures may indicate the intentions of friendly defensive preparations, and an enemy analyzes these signatures to determine the defensive plan. Specific signatures that could reveal defensive plans include—

  • Working on survivability positions.
  • Emplacing minefields and other obstacles.
  • Moving different types of combat materiel into prepared positions.
  • Preparing routes and facilities.
  • Constructing strongpoints or hardened artillery positions.


5-3. Due to the similarity of missions, the concerns for concealing counterattack and reserve forces are similar to those of maneuver forces engaged in offensive operations. Chapter 4 discusses considerations about AAs, troop and supply movements, passages of lines, and deception operations. This information is also useful as a guide when planning CCD for a counterattack.


5-4. Proper planning is essential to avoid threat detection and prevent successful enemy analysis of the engineer efforts that are integral to defensive preparations. Engineer equipment creates significant signatures, so minimize its use to a level that is commensurate with available time and manpower. Disperse engineer equipment that is not required at the job site. Complete as much work as possible without using heavy equipment, and allow heavy equipment on site only when necessary. Engineers should minimize their time on site by conducting thorough, extensive planning and preparation. Additional signatures include—

  • Supplies, personnel, and vehicles arriving to and departing from the unit area.
  • Survivability positions being constructed.
  • Smoke and heat emitting from kitchens, fires, or stoves.
  • Communications facilities being operated.
  • Educational and training exercises being conducted.


5-5. Reserve forces should move along preplanned, concealed routes. They should also move and occupy selected locations at night or during other conditions of limited visibility. Quartering parties should preselect individual positions and guide vehicles and personnel to assigned locations. Light, noise, and track discipline are essential; but they are difficult to control during this phase. The quartering party should also develop a traffic-flow plan that minimizes vehicle and troop movement to and from the unit area.

5-6. Arriving units should immediately begin to conceal their positions. Commanders should detail the priorities for CCD in the OPORD, based on their assessment of which signatures present the greatest opportunity for threat detection.

Assembly Areas

5-7. While AA CCD actions are similar to those of counterattack and reserve positions, the latter positions are more likely to be occupied longer. Therefore, CCD needs are more extensive and extended for counterattack and reserve forces. In fact, their CCD operations are often indistinguishable from those of support units.

5-8. Counterattack and reserve forces awaiting employment should capitalize on the time available to conduct rehearsals. While essential, these activities are prone to detection by an enemy's sensors so observe CCD discipline at all times and locations.

Placement and Dispersal

5-9. Site selection is crucial when concealing engineer effort. Proper placement and dispersal of equipment and operations are essential. Use natural screens (terrain masking); however, urban areas often provide the best concealment for counterattack and reserve forces. (Chapter 7 discusses placement and dispersal in more detail.) When using forests as natural screens, carefully consider factors such as the height and density of vegetation, the amount and darkness of shadows cast by the screen, and the appropriateness of the particular screen for the season. The condition and quality of natural screens have a decisive effect on the capability to conceal units. Commanders should evaluate natural screens during engineer recon missions and conduct the missions on a timely, extensive basis.

5-10. The probability of detection increases considerably when survivability positions are prepared. Detection is easier due to the increased size of the targets to be concealed, the contrasting upturned soil, and the difficulty of concealing survivability effort. Despite these considerations, the enhanced protection afforded by survivability positions usually dictates their use. To minimize the probability of detection, employ a combination of natural screens and overhead nets to conceal construction sites.


5-11. Use camouflage nets (LCSS) to conceal vehicles, tents, shelters, and equipment. Use vegetation to further disrupt the outline of the target rather than completely hide it. Ensure that vegetation is not removed from a single location, because it could leave a signature for threat detection. Gather vegetation sparingly from as many remote areas as possible. This technique allows the immediate area to remain relatively undisturbed.


5-12. Strictly control the use of stoves and fires because they produce visual and thermal signatures detectable to threat sensors. If fires are necessary, permit them only during daylight hours and place them in dead ground or under dense foliage. Use nets and other expedient thermal screens to dissipate rising heat and reduce the fire's thermal signature.


5-13. Monitor communications to prevent enemy intelligence teams from identifying unit locations. (FM 24-33 addresses techniques for reducing the threat to friendly communications.)


5-14. Strict CCD discipline allows the continued concealment of a unit's position. The longer a unit stays in one location, the harder it is for it to maintain CCD discipline. Extended encampments require constant command attention to CCD discipline. The evacuation of an area also requires CCD discipline to ensure that evidence (trash, vehicle tracks) is not left for enemy detection.


5-15. Survivability positions include fighting positions, protective positions (shelters), and trench-work connections. Such positions are usually constructed of earth and logs but may also be composed of man-made building materials such as concrete.


5-16. Properly occupying positions and placing obstacles are critical CCD considerations. When possible, place obstacles and occupy positions out of the direct view of threat forces (such as a reverse-slope defense), at night, or under conditions of limited visibility.


5-17. Select backgrounds that do not silhouette positions and obstacles or provide color contrast. Use shadows to hinder an enemy's detection efforts. If possible, place positions and obstacles under overhead cover, trees, or bushes or in any other dark area of the terrain. This technique prevents the disruption of terrain lines and hinders aerial detection. CCD efforts, however, should not hinder the integration of obstacles with fires.

5-18. When using the terrain's natural concealment properties, avoid isolated features that draw the enemy's attention. Do not construct positions directly on or near other clearly defined terrain features (tree lines, hedge rows, hill crests). Offsetting positions into tree lines or below hill crests avoids silhouetting against the background and also counters enemy fire.


5-19. Use natural materials to supplement artificial materials. Before constructing positions and obstacles, remove and save natural materials (turf, leaves, humus) for use in restoring the terrain's natural appearance for deception purposes. During excavation, collect spoil in carrying devices for careful disposal. When preparing survivability positions and obstacles—

  • Avoid disturbing the natural look of surroundings. Use camouflage nets and natural vegetation to further distort the outline of a position, to hide the bottom of an open position or trench, and to mask spoil used as a parapet. To further avoid detection, replace natural materials regularly or when they wilt or change color.
  • Consider the effect of backblasts from rocket launchers, missile systems, and antitank weapons. Construct a concealed open space to the position's rear to accommodate backblasts. A backblast area should not contain material that will readily burn or generate large dust signatures.
  • Use natural materials to help conceal machine-gun emplacements. Machine guns are priority targets, and concealing them is an essential combat task. Although CCD is important, placement is the primary factor in concealing machine guns.
  • Place mortars in defilade positions. Proper placement, coupled with the use of artificial and natural CCD materials, provides the maximum possible concealment. Also consider removable overhead concealment.
  • Use decoy positions and phony obstacles to draw enemy attention away from actual survivability positions and traces of obstacle preparation. Decoys serve the additional function of drawing enemy fire, allowing easier targeting of an enemy's weapons systems.


5-20. CCD during the defensive battle is essentially the same as for the offensive battle. While a majority of the battle is normally fought from prepared, concealed positions, defensive forces still maneuver to prevent enemy breakthroughs or to counterattack. When maneuvering, units should—

  • Adapt to the terrain.
  • Make optimum use of concealed routes.
  • Preselect and improve concealed routes to provide defensive forces with a maneuver advantage.
  • Plan smoke operations to provide additional concealment for maneuvering forces.

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