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CHAPTER 3

MOVEMENT

The purpose of tactical movement is to move SBCT units on the battlefield and prepare them for contact. This chapter focuses on the movement techniques, formations, and dismounted transition points that, in combination, provide the SBCT company commander with options for moving his unit. The various techniques and formations have unique advantages and disadvantages. Some movement techniques are secure but slow while others are faster but less secure. Some formations work well in certain types of terrain or tactical situations but are less effective in others. Because of the capabilities of the SBCT infantry company, the commander must consider the overall mounted and dismounted movement plan, to include where, when, and how he will transition between the two. None of the movement techniques or formations described in this section should be considered inflexible or immutable. The company commander must be prepared to adapt them to the situation at hand.

3-1.   TACTICAL MOVEMENT AND ENEMY CONTACT

Do not confuse movement with maneuver. Maneuver is defined as movement supported by fire to gain a position of advantage over the enemy. At company level, there is considerable overlap between the two. Tactical movement differs from maneuver, however, in that maneuver is movement while in contact, but tactical movement is movement in preparation for contact. The process by which units transition from tactical movement to maneuver is called "actions on contact." Actions on contact are covered in Section IV of Chapter 4. Figure 3-1, illustrates the relationship between movement techniques (traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch), the possibility of enemy contact, and transition to maneuver.

Figure 3-1. Transition from movement techniques to maneuver.

Figure 3-1. Transition from movement techniques to maneuver.

3-2.   MOVEMENT TECHNIQUES

The SBCT infantry company commander selects from the three movement techniques based on several battlefield factors:

  • The likelihood of enemy contact.
  • The type of contact expected.
  • The availability of an overwatch element.
  • The terrain over which the moving element will pass.
  • The balance of speed and security required during movement.

See Figure 3-2 for a legend of symbols for company personnel and elements.

Figure 3-2. Legend of company symbols.

Figure 3-2. Legend of company symbols.

a.   Traveling. Traveling is characterized by continuous movement by all company elements. It is best suited to situations in which enemy contact is unlikely and speed is important. Figures 3-3 and 3-4, illustrate the traveling technique, dismounted and mounted.

Figure 3-3. Traveling dismounted.

Figure 3-3. Traveling dismounted.

Figure 3-4. Traveling mounted.

Figure 3-4. Traveling mounted.

b.   Traveling Overwatch. This is an extended form of traveling that provides additional security when speed is desirable but contact is possible. The lead element moves continuously. The trail element moves at various speeds and may halt periodically to overwatch movement of the lead element. Dispersion between the two elements must be based on the trail element's ability to see the lead element (visually or digitally) and to provide immediate suppressive fires in case the lead element is engaged. The intent is to maintain depth, provide flexibility, and maintain the ability to maneuver even if contact occurs, although a unit ideally should make contact while moving in bounding overwatch rather than traveling overwatch. Figure 3-5 and Figure 3-6, illustrate traveling overwatch, dismounted and mounted.

NOTE:

Organization of the company in both traveling overwatch and bounding overwatch consists of a lead element (also called the bounding element in bounding overwatch) and a trail (or overwatch) element. The commander constitutes these elements using varying combinations of company elements; his decision must be based on the results of his METT-TC analysis. For example, the lead element might be one platoon and the XO's vehicle, overwatched by the two remaining platoons, the commander, and the FSO.

Figure 3-5. Traveling overwatch dismounted.

Figure 3-5. Traveling overwatch dismounted.

Figure 3-6. Traveling overwatch mounted.

Figure 3-6. Traveling overwatch mounted.

c.   Bounding Overwatch. Bounding overwatch is used when contact is expected. It is the most secure, but slowest, movement technique. The purpose of bounding overwatch is to deploy prior to contact, giving the unit the ability to protect a bounding element by immediately suppressing an enemy force. In all types of bounding, the overwatch element is assigned sectors to scan while the bounding element uses terrain to achieve cover and concealment. The bounding element should avoid masking the fires of the overwatch element; it must never move beyond the range at which the overwatch element can effectively suppress likely or suspected enemy positions. The company can employ either of two bounding methods, alternate bounds or successive bounds, which are discussed in the following paragraphs. Figure 3-7 and Figure 3-8, show the technique of bounding overwatch utilizing the MGS platoon, dismounted and mounted.

Figure 3-7. Bounding overwatch dismounted.

Figure 3-7. Bounding overwatch dismounted.

Figure 3-8. Bounding overwatch mounted.

Figure 3-8. Bounding overwatch mounted.

(1)   Alternate Bounds. Covered by the rear element, the lead element moves forward, halts, and assumes overwatch positions. The rear element advances past the lead element and takes up overwatch positions. This sequence continues as necessary, with only one element moving at a time. This method is usually more rapid than successive bounds.

(2)   Successive Bounds. In the successive bounding method the lead element, covered by the rear element, advances and takes up overwatch positions. The rear element then advances to an overwatch position roughly abreast of the lead element and halts. The lead element then moves to the next position, and so on. Only one element moves at a time, and the rear element avoids advancing beyond the lead element. This method is easier to control and more secure than the alternate bounding method, but it is slower.

3-3.   MOVEMENT FORMATIONS

The SBCT infantry company uses six basic movement formations: column, line, vee, wedge, file, and echelon right or left. These formations describe the locations of the company's platoons and sections in relation to each other. They are guides on how to form the company for movement. Each formation aids control, security, and firepower to varying degrees.

a.   Considerations. These formations can be used mounted or dismounted to control the company. Because of the limitations on the ICVs and MGS, the majority of mounted movement takes place on roads or unrestricted terrain.

(1)   Whether mounted or dismounted, the best formation to use depends on the--

 

  • Mission.
  • Enemy situation.
  • Terrain.
  • Weather and visibility conditions.
  • Speed of movement desired.
  • Degree of flexibility desired.

(2)   When moving cross-country, the distance between soldiers, vehicles, and platoons varies according to the terrain and the situation. Soldiers should constantly observe their sectors for likely enemy positions and look for cover that can be reached quickly in case of enemy contact.

(3)   The company commander may specify the platoon formations to be used within the company formation. If he does not, each platoon leader selects his platoon's formation. For example, the lead platoon leader may select a formation that permits good observation and massing of fire to the front (vee formation). The second platoon leader may select a formation that permits fast movement to overwatch positions and good flank security (wedge formation). (Squad and platoon movement formations and techniques are discussed in FM 3-21.9 [FM 7-5].)

(4)   When moving in a formation, the company normally guides on the base platoon to ease control. This should be the lead platoon. In the line or the vee formation, the company commander must specify which platoon is the base platoon. The other platoons key their speed and direction on the base platoon. This permits quick changes and lets the commander control the movement of the entire company by controlling only the base platoon. Terrain features may be designated for the base platoon to guide on, using the control techniques described in paragraph 3-5. The company commander normally locates himself within the formation where he can best see and direct the movement of the base platoon.

(5)   One technique used to alert units for possible movement or for units to report their readiness to move is an alert status. With this technique, use a readiness condition (REDCON) system to reflect the amount of time a unit will have before it is required to move:

 

  • REDCON 1: Be prepared to move immediately.
  • REDCON 2: Be prepared to move in 15 minutes.
  • REDCON 3: Be prepared to move in 1 hour.
  • REDCON 4: Be prepared to move in 2 hours.

b.   Formations. The following is a discussion of SBCT infantry company movement formations.

(1)   Column. The column formation allows the company to make contact with one platoon and maneuver with the three trail platoons. It is a flexible formation, allowing easy transition to other formations. It provides good all-round security and allows fast movement. It also provides good dispersion and aids maneuver and control, especially during limited visibility. The company can deliver a limited volume of fire to the front and to the rear, but a high volume to the flanks. Figures 3-9 and 3-10 depict company columns.

Figure 3-9. Company column dismounted.

Figure 3-9. Company column dismounted.

Figure 3-10. Company column mounted.

Figure 3-10. Company column mounted.

(2)   Company Line. The company line formation puts all platoons forward along the same direction of movement and provides for the delivery of maximum fire to the front, but less to the flanks. It is the most difficult formation to control. The company commander should designate a base platoon (normally the center platoon) for the other platoons to guide on. Flank and rear security is generally poor but is improved when the flank platoons use echelon formations. Figures 3-11 and 3-12, depict examples of the company line.

Figure 3-11. Company line dismounted.

Figure 3-11. Company line dismounted.

 

Figure 3-12. Company line mounted.

Figure 3-12. Company line mounted.

(3)   Company Wedge. The company wedge formation allows the commander to make contact with a small element and still maneuver the remaining platoons. If the company is hit from the flank, one platoon is free to maneuver. This formation is hard to control, but it allows faster movement than the company vee formation. Figures 3-13 and 3-14 depict examples of the company wedge.

Figure 3-13. Company wedge dismounted.

Figure 3-13. Company wedge dismounted.

Figure 3-14. Company wedge mounted.

Figure 3-14. Company wedge mounted.

(4)   Company Vee. The company vee formation has two platoons forward to provide immediate fire on contact or to flank the enemy. It also has one platoon in the center and one platoon in the rear. These platoons either overwatch or trail the lead platoons. If the company is hit from either flank, two platoons can provide fire, and at least one platoon is free to maneuver. This formation is hard to control and slows movement. The company commander designates one of the forward platoons as the base platoon. Figures 3-15 and 3-16, depict examples of the company vee with all platoons in wedge.

Figure 3-15. Company vee dismounted.

Figure 3-15. Company vee dismounted.

Figure 3-16. Company vee mounted.

Figure 3-16. Company vee mounted.

(5)   Company File. The company file formation is the easiest formation to control. It allows rapid movement in restricted terrain and during limited visibility, and it enhances control and concealment. It is, however, the least secure formation and the hardest from which to maneuver. Figure 3-17 and Figure 3-18, depict examples of the company file with all units in file.

(a)   The company commander locates well forward with the lead platoon headquarters or immediately behind the lead security element. This location increases his control by putting him in position to make critical decisions. The company command post can locate farther back (behind the lead platoon) to avoid interfering with the platoon's movement and to aid communications with other elements.

(b)   The 1SG (or XO) is last, or nearly last, in the company file to provide leadership and to prevent breaks in contact within the file.

(c)   The company file is vulnerable to breaks in contact and should be used only when necessary and for short periods of time. Dismounted, a company stretches out over 600 meters in a company file, with a pass time of more than 20 minutes.

Figure 3-17. Company file dismounted.

Figure 3-17. Company file dismounted.

Figure 3-18. Company file mounted.

Figure 3-18. Company file mounted.

(6)   Echelon Right or Left. The echelon right or echelon left formation is used if the situation is vague and the company commander anticipates enemy contact to the front or on one of the flanks. Normally, an obstacle or another friendly unit exists on the flank of the company opposite the echeloned flank, preventing enemy contact on that side. This formation provides a good volume of fire and protection to the echeloned flank, but less to the opposite flank. Figure 3-19 and Figure 3-20, depict examples of the echelon right formation.

Figure 3-19. Echelon right dismounted.

Figure 3-19. Echelon right dismounted.

Figure 3-20. Echelon right mounted.

Figure 3-20. Echelon right mounted.

c.   Formation Selection. The company commander selects the formation that provides the proper control, security, and speed. Table 3-1 provides a comparison of the six movement formations.

FORMATION

SECURITY

FIRES

CONTROL

SPEED

Column

  • Good dispersion
  • Good 360° security
  • Good to front and rear
  • Excellent to the flanks
  • Easy to control
  • Flexible formation
  • Fast
  • Line

    • Excellent to the front
    • Poor to the flank and rear
  • Excellent to the front
  • Poor to the flank and rear
  • Difficult to control
  • Inflexible formation
  • Slow
  • Wedge

    • Good 360° security
  • Good to the front and flanks
  • Less difficult to control than the line
  • Flexible formation
  • Faster than the line
  • Vee

    • Better to the front
  • Very good to the front
  • Very difficult to control
  • Slow
  • File

    • Least secure
    • Effective use of concealment
  • Poor
  • Easy to control
  • Fast
  • Echelon

    • Good to the echeloned flank and front
  • Good to the echeloned flank and front
  • Difficult to control
  • Slow
  • Table 3-1. Comparison of movement formations (mounted or dismounted).

    3-4.   USE OF MOVEMENT FORMATIONS

    Movement should be as rapid as the terrain, the mobility of the force, and the enemy situation permit. The ability to gain and maintain the initiative often depends on undetected movement by the unit. If detected during movement, the enemy may be able to apply substantial combat power against the company. The SBCT infantry company depends heavily upon the terrain for protection from the enemy's fires. The company commander also protects his company during movement by ensuring the company is using proper movement formations and techniques.

    a.   Fundamentals. The SBCT infantry company commander's mission analysis and information gained through FBCB2 assist him in deciding how to move his unit most effectively. There is no set method for this. When planning company movements, the commander must ensure the unit is moving in a way that supports a rapid transition to maneuver. Once contact with the enemy is made, squads and platoons receiving effective fire execute the appropriate battle drills, and leaders begin to maneuver their units. The following fundamentals provide guidance for planning effective company movements.

    (1)   Conduct Reconnaissance. All echelons should conduct reconnaissance. The enemy situation and the available planning time may limit the unit's reconnaissance, but leaders at every level must aggressively seek information about the terrain and enemy. Primarily, this information about the terrain and enemy is gained through FBCB2. However, if sufficient information is still lacking, an effective technique is to send a reconnaissance element forward of the lead platoon. Even if this unit is only 15 minutes ahead of the company, it can still provide valuable information and reaction time for the company commander.

    (2)   Use the Terrain and Weather Effectively. One of the strengths of the SBCT infantry company is its ability to move across almost any terrain and in almost any weather conditions. The company should move on covered and concealed routes. Moving during limited visibility may provide better concealment, and the enemy may be less alert during these periods. Plan to avoid identified danger areas.

    (3)   Move as Squads and Platoon.. The advantages to moving the company by squads and platoons include--

     

    • Faster movement.
    • Better security. A small unit is less likely to be detected because it requires less cover and concealment.
    • More dispersion. The dispersion gained by moving the company by squads and platoons makes it much more difficult for the enemy to concentrate his fires against the company, especially indirect fires, CAS, and chemical agents. Subordinate units also gain room to maneuver. Information sharing through the tactical internet makes this a plausible option.
    • Better operational security (OPSEC). It is much more difficult for the enemy to determine what the friendly force is doing if all he has are isolated squad-size spot reports.

    Although the advantages normally outweigh the disadvantages, when planning decentralized movements the commander should also consider the following disadvantages:

     

    • Requires numerous linkups are required to regroup the company.
    • May take longer to mass combat power to support a hasty attack or disengage in the event of enemy contact.

    (4)   Maintain Security during the Movement. A primary responsibility of the company commander is to protect his unit at all times. This is critical during movement because the company is extremely vulnerable to enemy direct and indirect fires. In addition to the fundamentals listed earlier, the company commander achieves security for the company by applying the following:

     

    • Use the appropriate movement formation and technique for the conditions.
    • Move as fast as the situation allows. This may degrade the enemy's ability to detect the unit and the effectiveness of his fires once he detects it.
    • Ensure that subordinate units correctly position security elements to the flanks, front, and rear at a distance that prevents enemy direct fire on the main body. (Normally, the company formation and movement technique provides greater security to the front; it is the flanks and rear that must be secured by these security elements. The company SOP should state who is responsible for providing these security elements.)
    • Enforce noise and light discipline (especially when dismounted).
    • Enforce camouflage discipline (soldiers and their equipment).
    • When the situation is not clear, make contact with the smallest element possible. By making contact with a small element, the company commander maintains the ability to maneuver with the majority of his force. The soldiers who first receive enemy fires are most likely to become casualties. They also are most likely to be suppressed and fixed by the enemy.
    • When the situation is clear, the company commander must quickly mass the effects of his combat power to overwhelm the enemy.

    b.   Locations of Key Leaders and Weapons. The locations of key leaders and weapons depend on the situation, the movement formation and technique, and the organization of the SBCT infantry company. The following paragraphs provide guidance for the company commander in deciding where these assets should locate.

    (1)   Company Command Post. The company command post normally consists of the company commander, his RATELOs, the FIST, the communications specialist, the NBC sergeant, and possibly other personnel and attachments (XO, 1SG, or a security element). The company CP locates where it can best support the company commander and maintain communications with higher and subordinate units. To maintain communications, the mounted CP may need to locate away from the commander. In this case, the XO controls the CP (or part of it) and maintains communications with higher or adjacent units while the commander locates where he can best control the company. Although the CP can move independently, it normally locates where it is secured by the other platoons and sections within the company formation.

    (2)   Company Commander. The company commander locates where he can see and control the company. Normally, he positions the CP at his location, but at times he may move separate from the CP. If dismounted, he may take only his company net RATELO and travel with one of his platoons. This allows him to move with a platoon without disrupting their formation. Generally, the company commander (with the CP) operates immediately behind the lead platoon.

    (3)   Company Fire Support Officer. The company FSO normally moves with the company commander. At times, he may locate elsewhere to control indirect fires or relay calls for fire from the platoons.

    (4)   Company Mortars. The company mortars locate where they can provide responsive fires in case of enemy contact. They must locate where they gain security from the other units in the company. They normally are not last in the company formation because they have limited capability to provide security and their soldiers' loads, if dismounted, often make them the slowest element in the company.

    (5)   Other Attachments. The locations of other attachments depend on METT-TC. CS assets, such as engineers, are positioned where they can best support the company. For example, the engineers may follow the lead platoon where they can be more responsive.

    (6)   Infantry Carrier Vehicles, Mobile Gun Systems, and Other Vehicles. The SBCT infantry company's ICVs, MGSs and other vehicle attachments, such as ambulances or resupply vehicles, present certain challenges to the SBCT infantry company commander. The terrain that the infantry company normally moves along after dismounting may not support vehicular movement. It may be possible for the company to secure the roads or trails these vehicles will move on by moving through and securing more restrictive terrain on the flanks. After dismounting, there are several options available to the commander for the disposition of the vehicles. Some of these options are:

     

    • Employ them to support the dismounted infantry.
    • Leave them in a lagger site (see Chapter 7, Section IV) with their crews to be called later for linkup.
    • Displace them to another location.
    • Leave them in place while their crews move dismounted.

    3-5.   CONTROL TECHNIQUES

    Using the proper formation and movement techniques assists the SBCT infantry company commander's control of the company, but additional control techniques are often required. The following techniques may help in controlling company movements.

    a.   Graphics. Normally, the SBCT battalion assigns graphic control measures to integrate the SBCT infantry company's movement into the battalion's movement or scheme of maneuver. The company commander may need to establish other control measures to control his units. These may include boundaries, routes, checkpoints, release points, and target reference points on known (likely) enemy positions to control direct fires. The SBCT company commander ensures that each graphic control measure is updated in FBCB2 and is easy to locate on the terrain.

    b.   Reconnaissance. Prior reconnaissance aids control during movement. It provides the SBCT infantry company commander with a better idea of where movement is more difficult and where graphic control measures are needed. Elements from the company may perform this reconnaissance, but the RSTA squadron or battalion reconnaissance platoon is more likely to conduct the reconnaissance and provide the information to other organizations through FBCB2.

    c.   Guides. Guides who have already seen the terrain are the best way to provide control. When it is not possible to have guides for the entire movement, have them reconnoiter the difficult areas and guide the SBCT infantry company through them.

    d.   Navigational Aids. Even with the availability of a global positioning system (GPS), every leader should use his compass and a pace count for all moves. If possible, select routes that allow leaders to use prominent terrain to stay oriented.

    e.   Limited Visibility Dismounted Movements. The measures already listed are the best ways to provide control for moving during limited visibility. The following measures provide extra control when moving dismounted in limited visibility.

    (1)   Use Night Vision Devices. Effective limited visibility movement is possible even if there is not a sufficient quantity of night vision devices (NVDs) for every soldier. If the soldiers providing front, flank, and rear security use them, the entire unit can move faster. Soldiers should rotate to maintain effectiveness. Key leaders throughout the formation must also use NVDs.

    (2)   Reduce the Interval between Soldiers and Units. Closing up the formation allows the use of arm-and-hand signals and reduces the chance of breaks in contact. However, leaders should try to maintain the most dispersion possible at all times. Well-trained units can operate at night as they do during the day.

    (3)   Use Other Measures. Other measures include using luminous tape on the back of helmets, slowing the speed of movement, using land line to communicate or to guide units, and moving leaders closer to the front.

    f.   Limited Visibility Mounted Movement. Every leader should use the information gained through FBCB2 in addition to his map and compass to remain oriented at all times. If possible, select routes that allow leaders to use prominent terrain to stay oriented. In addition to the capabilities inherent with FBCB2, additional control measures provide unit vehicle integrity during mounted limited visibility movement operations.

    (1)   Use Night Vision Devices. Effective mounted limited visibility movement is possible if drivers and VCs throughout the formation use NVDs.

    (2)   Reduce the Interval between Soldiers, Vehicles, and Units. Closing up the formation allows the use of arm-and-hand signals and reduces the chance of breaks in contact. However, leaders should rely on FBCB2 and night vision equipment to maintain the greatest vehicle dispersion possible at all times. Well-trained units can operate at night as they do during the day.

    3-6.   SECURITY DURING MOVEMENT

    During company movement, each platoon is responsible for a sector, depending on its position in the formation. When dismounted, each fire team and squad within the platoons has a sector, so the company has all-round security during movement (Figure 3-21).

    Figure 3-21. All-round security.

    Figure 3-21. All-round security.

    a.   During short halts, soldiers spread out and assume prone positions behind cover. They watch the same sectors they did while moving. Leaders orient machine guns and antiarmor weapons on likely enemy avenues of approach into the position. Soldiers remain alert and keep movement to a minimum. They speak quietly and only when necessary. Soldiers with night vision devices scan areas where the enemy may be concealed during limited visibility.

    b.   During long halts, the SBCT infantry company sets up a perimeter defense (see Chapter 5). The company commander chooses the most defensible terrain, which must have good cover and concealment. The company SOP must address the actions required during long halts.

    c.   For additional security, small ambush teams may be concealed and remain in position after a short halt. Ideally, the center platoon provides these teams, which remain in position to ambush any enemy following the SBCT infantry company. The linkup of these teams must be coordinated and understood by all.

    d.   Before occupying a static position (objective rally point, patrol base, or perimeter defense), the SBCT infantry commander should ensure that the enemy is unaware of his company's location. In addition to using the ambush teams, he may also conceal security teams in or near the tentative static position as the company passes it. The company continues movement, preferably until darkness, and then circles back to link up with the security teams, who have reconnoitered the position and guide the company into it.

    3-7.   MOVEMENT AS PART OF A BATTALION

    The SBCT infantry company often moves as part of the battalion. The battalion commander assigns the company a position within the battalion formation, and the company commander uses the movement technique and movement formation that best suits the likelihood of enemy contact and his unit's mission. Regardless of the company's position within the battalion formation, it must be ready to make contact or to support the other SBCT infantry companies by maneuver or by fire alone.



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