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Military

Chapter 2

Battle Command

Command is the authority a commander in military service lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of rank and assignment. Leaders possessing command authority strive to use it with firmness, care, and skill.
FM 101-5-1
Battle command is the exercise of command in an operation against a hostile, thinking opponent. Battle command includes visualizing the current state and the desired end state, then formulating concepts of operations to get from one state to the other at the least cost. In addition to visualizing and formulating concepts, battle command encompasses assigning missions; prioritizing and allocating resources; selecting the critical time and place to act; and knowing how and when to make adjustments in the fight. Battle command enables MP commanders to lead, prioritize, and allocate assets required in support of the Army commander. MP commanders must observe, orient, decide, and act on their decisions quickly. Information is the key element in the battle-command process; therefore, the commander must have accurate and timely information upon which to base his decisions.

OVERVIEW

2-1. The battle command of MP units is typically decentralized due to the nature of their CS functions, METT-TC, and the needs of the Army commander. This places the burden of sound, timely decision making to the lowest levels. MP leaders must develop a keen sense of situational awareness and visualization, and they must constantly track the actions of supported units.

BATTLEFIELD VISUALIZATION

2-2. The ability to visualize the battlefield is a critical element of battle command. Battlefield visualization is an essential leadership attribute and is critical to accomplishing the mission. It is learned and attained through training, practice, experience, technical and tactical knowledge, and available battle-command technologies. It results when the MP commander understands the higher commander's intent, his assigned mission, the enemy, and the friendly force's capabilities and limitations. See Appendix D for further information on command technologies.

2-3. Battlefield visualization includes the MP commander's view of what his forces will do and the resources needed to do the mission. He envisions a sequence of actions that will cause his MP forces to perform at the desired end state. Ultimately, the MP commander's battlefield vision evolves into his intent and helps him develop his concept of operations.

COMMANDER'S INTENT

2-4. The commander's intent is a key part of Army orders. It is a clear, concise statement of what the force must do to succeed with respect to the enemy, the terrain, and the desired end state. It provides the link between the mission and the concept of operations by stating key tasks. These tasks, along with the mission, are the basis for subordinates to exercise initiative when unanticipated opportunities arise or when the original concept of operations no longer applies. MP leaders at all echelons must ensure that the mission and the commander's intent are understood two echelons down (see FM 101-5).

CONCEPT OF OPERATIONS

2-5. The commander's intent does not include the method by which the MP units will accomplish the mission. This method is called the commander's concept of operations. It must-

  • Convey the commander's vision of how to accomplish the mission in a manner that allows his subordinates maximum initiative.
  • Build around intelligence gathering and the precise employment of MP resources.
  • Provide the basis for task organization, scheme of maneuver, terrain organization, tasks to subordinates, and synchronization.

COMMAND AND CONTROL RELATIONSHIPS

2-6. MP units are assigned to, attached to, or placed under the operational control (OPCON) of MP or other units they support. OPCON is the authority to perform command functions over subordinate forces. This includes organizing and employing commands and forces, assigning tasks, designing objectives, and giving authoritative direction necessary to accomplish the mission. MP C2relationships may be changed briefly to provide better support for a specific operation or to meet the needs of the supported commander. MP units may be placed under the OPCON of another unit commander for short-term operations. The MP unit remains in this relationship only as long as it is needed for that operation.

SUPPORT RELATIONSHIPS

2-7. MP units on the battlefield provide two types of support-general support (GS) and direct support (DS). Corps and EAC MP units provide GS to their respective corps/EAC subordinate commands. Light, airborne, and air-assault MP companies provide GS to their respective divisions. Heavy-division MP companies provide GS to the division rear and DS to the division's subordinate brigades.

STAFF RELATIONSHIPS

2-8. The PM for each level of command is that command's advisor on MP combat, CS, and CSS operations. The PM-

  • Advises the commander and staff about MP abilities/capabilities.
  • Supervises the preparation of plans and dictates policies.
  • Coordinates MP operations.
  • Assists and supervises the interaction of supporting and supported units.
  • Reviews current MP operations.
  • Coordinates with allied forces and HN military and civil police.
  • Ensures that MP plans and operations supporting the commander's tactical plan are carried out.
  • Recommends when and where to concentrate the command's MP assets.
  • Supervises or monitors MP support in the command's AO.

2-9. The PM works daily with the commander and staff officers who employ MP resources and whose AORs influence MP support. The PM works closely with the coordinating staff at the appropriate command level to coordinate MP support. He ensures that MP planning is practical and flexible, that plans are coordinated with staff sections and subordinate commands, and that plans reflect manpower and resources needed by MP. (This includes the need for C2, fire support, equipment, and supplies. It also includes construction, communication, transportation, and aviation support.) As new information is received, the PM reviews, updates, and modifies the plans. He ensures that the echelon commander gets the necessary MP support.

2-10. In the absence of specific directions or orders, the PM plans the use of MP assets. He evaluates the current operations and projects the future courses of action (COAs). He bases his plans on assumptions consistent with the commander's intent and a thorough knowledge of the situation and mission. The PM considers-

  • METT-TC.
  • Current estimates developed by the intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) and the police information assessment process (PIAP).
  • The environment within the AO. This includes the climate, the terrain, and obstacles. It also includes the legal authority and status of the force; the width, depth, size, and location of built-up areas; and the attitudes and abilities of the local populace.
  • The types of units operating in the area (to include joint, combined, multinational, and interagency units) and the missions and capabilities of these units. This knowledge is imperative to understand their capability to counter threats in their area.
  • The specific missions of MP units in the area and the impact that rear-area security operations will have on the ability of these units to perform other functions.
  • Personnel, vehicles, and equipment in the MP units.

2-11. Coordination and communication between the PM and Army commanders is essential. Such actions ensure timely and efficient MP support to all levels of command during any operation. The informal, technical chain of coordination is an open line of communication between PMs at different echelons. The informal chain of coordination fosters cooperation and help among the MP elements at each echelon. For instance, when the division PM needs more assets to accomplish added missions, he initiates coordination with the corps PM. If the corps PM can provide support, the division PM formalizes his request for assistance through the division Assistant Chief of Staff, G3 (Operations and Plans) (G3).



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