Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military

CHAPTER 7

TACTICAL ENABLING OPERATIONS

This chapter covers tasks the SBCT infantry rifle company may conduct, either on its own or as part of a larger force, to complement or support its primary missions. Enabling operations include reconnaissance, special purpose operations (linkup, stay-behind, relief in place, and passage of lines), and security. The company conducts these operations to set conditions for future operations or to support the current operations of its higher headquarters. The planning, preparation, and execution for these operations are just as important and require the same level of detail as conducting defensive or offensive operations. Enabling operations are conducted mounted, dismounted, or a combination of both.

Section I. RECONNAISSANCE

Reconnaissance is any mission undertaken to obtain information regarding the activities and resources of enemy forces or the physical characteristics of a particular area, using visual observation or other methods. Successful reconnaissance is a focused collection effort, aimed at gathering timely, accurate information about the enemy and the terrain in the area of operations. It is the responsibility of every infantry company commander to conduct reconnaissance, with the goal of gaining the information he needs to ensure the success of his mission. This effort, combined with the COP, will yield a greater situational understanding of the operation or area. In addition, the company may conduct other reconnaissance operations to gather information for higher headquarters. (For a more detailed discussion of reconnaissance operations, refer to FM 17-95.)

7-1.   RECONNAISSANCE PLANNING

Reconnaissance planning starts with the company commander's identification of critical information requirements. This process begins while the unit is planning or preparing for an operation and, in many cases, continues during the conduct of the operation. Once the operation is under way, the commander continues to identify information requirements. An example is the need to find an assailable flank or another position of advantage over an identified enemy force while the company develops the situation. In such a situation, the commander may dispatch a platoon or section to find a flank or position from which the company can effectively engage the enemy.

7-2.   RECONNAISSANCE EXECUTION

In addition to using the digital information available via the FBCB2 system, the company commander develops the enemy situation through active and passive reconnaissance. Passive reconnaissance includes techniques such as map and photographic reconnaissance and surveillance. Active methods available to the company include mounted and dismounted ground reconnaissance and reconnaissance by fire. Active reconnaissance operations are also classified as stealthy or aggressive, as discussed in the following paragraphs.

a.   Stealthy Reconnaissance. Stealthy reconnaissance emphasizes procedures and techniques that allow the unit to avoid detection and engagement by the enemy. It is more time-consuming than aggressive reconnaissance. To be effective, stealthy reconnaissance must rely primarily on dismounted elements that make maximum use of covered and concealed terrain. The company's primary assets for stealthy reconnaissance are its infantry squads. (For a more detailed discussion of dismounted patrolling, refer to FM 7-10.)

b.   Aggressive Reconnaissance. Aggressive reconnaissance is characterized by the speed and manner in which the reconnaissance element develops the situation once contact is made with an enemy force. A unit conducting aggressive reconnaissance uses both direct and indirect fires and movement to develop the situation rapidly. Therefore, the company typically uses mounted reconnaissance. In conducting a mounted patrol, the unit employs the principles of tactical movement to maintain security. The patrolling element maximizes the use of cover and concealment and conducts bounding overwatch as necessary to avoid detection. (For a more detailed discussion of tactical movement, refer to Chapter 3 of this manual.)

7-3.   RECONNAISSANCE BEFORE AND AFTER OPERATIONS

To be most effective, reconnaissance must be continuous--conducted before, during, and after operations. Before an operation, the company focuses its reconnaissance effort on filling gaps in its information about the enemy and terrain. (Figure 7-1 shows an example of company reconnaissance prior to an operation.) After an operation, the company normally conducts reconnaissance to enhance SU so it can maintain contact with the enemy and collect information for upcoming operations. Situations in which the company may conduct reconnaissance before or after an operation include the following:

 

  • Reconnaissance by a quartering party of an assembly area and the associated route to it.
  • Reconnaissance from the assembly area to the LD and in the vicinity of the LD before an offensive operation.
  • Reconnaissance by infantry patrols to probe enemy positions for gaps prior to an attack or infiltration.
  • Reconnaissance by infantry patrols to observe forward positions and guide mounted elements to key positions on the battlefield.
  • Reconnaissance by dismounted patrols (normally infantry and engineers) to locate bypasses around obstacle belts or to determine the best locations and methods for breaching operations.
  • Reconnaissance by infantry patrols of choke points or other danger areas in advance of the remainder of the company.
  • Reconnaissance by mounted patrols to observe forward positions or to clear a route to a forward position.
  • Reconnaissance of defensive positions or engagement areas prior to the conduct of the defense.
  • Reconnaissance by mounted or dismounted patrols as part of security operations to secure friendly obstacles, clear possible enemy OPs, or cover areas not observable by stationary OPs.
  • Reconnaissance by mounted or dismounted patrols to maintain contact with adjacent units.
  • Reconnaissance by mounted or dismounted patrols to maintain contact with enemy elements.

Figure 7-1. SBCT infantry  company commander identifying intelligence requirements and using patrols to conduct reconnaissance.

Figure 7-1. SBCT infantry company commander identifying intelligence
requirements and using patrols to conduct reconnaissance.

7-4.   RECONNAISSANCE DURING OPERATIONS

During offensive operations, company reconnaissance normally focuses on fighting for information about the enemy and the terrain, with the primary goal of gaining an advantage over the enemy. The company conducts this type of reconnaissance during actions on contact. As the company develops the situation, the commander may dispatch mounted or dismounted patrols to identify positions of advantage or to acquire an enemy force. The information gained by the company while in contact is critical not only to the success of its own mission but also to the success of its higher headquarters. (Refer to Chapter 4 for discussion of actions on contact.)

7-5.   FORMS OF RECONNAISSANCE

In addition to reconnaissance performed as part of another type of operation, there are three forms of reconnaissance that are conducted as distinct operations: route reconnaissance, zone reconnaissance, and area reconnaissance.

a.   Positioning of Subordinate Elements. In conducting a route, zone, or area reconnaissance, the company employs a combination of mounted and dismounted elements as well as reconnaissance by direct and indirect fires. Based on his evaluation of METT-TC factors, the company commander establishes the role of organic elements and support assets within his scheme of maneuver.

b.   Focus of the Reconnaissance. In planning for route, zone, or area reconnaissance, the company commander must determine the focus of the mission, identifying whether the reconnaissance will orient on the terrain or on the enemy force. It is then essential that he provide the company with clear guidance on the focus of the reconnaissance. In a force-oriented reconnaissance operation, the critical task is simply to find the enemy and gather information on him; terrain considerations of the route, zone, or area are only a secondary concern. The company is generally able to move more quickly in force-oriented reconnaissance than in terrain-oriented reconnaissance.

c.   Conduct of the Reconnaissance. The following paragraphs examine the specifics of route, zone, and area reconnaissance:

(1)   Route Reconnaissance. A route reconnaissance is a directed effort to obtain detailed information on a specific route as well as on all terrain from which the enemy could influence movement along that route. Route reconnaissance may be oriented on a specific area of movement, such as a road or trail, or on a more general area, like an axis of advance.

(2)   Zone Reconnaissance. A zone reconnaissance is a directed effort to obtain detailed information concerning all routes, terrain, enemy forces, and obstacles (including areas of chemical and radiological contamination) within a zone that is defined by specific boundaries. The company normally conducts zone reconnaissance when the enemy situation is vague or when the company requires information concerning cross-country trafficability. As in route reconnaissance, the SBCT and SBCT infantry battalion commanders' intents as well as METT-TC dictate the company's actions during a zone reconnaissance.

(a)   The following tasks are normally critical components of the operation:

 

  • Find and report all enemy forces within the zone.
  • Reconnoiter specific terrain within the zone.
  • Report all reconnaissance information.

(b)   Time permitting, the commander may also direct the company to accomplish the following tasks as part of a zone reconnaissance:

 

  • Reconnoiter all terrain within the zone.
  • Inspect and classify all bridges.
  • Locate fords or crossing sites near all bridges.
  • Inspect and classify all overpasses, underpasses, and culverts.
  • Locate and clear all mines, obstacles, and barriers (within capability).
  • Locate bypasses around built-up areas, obstacles, and contaminated areas.

(3)   Area Reconnaissance. Area reconnaissance is a directed effort to obtain detailed information concerning the terrain or enemy activity within a prescribed area. The area can be any location that is critical to the unit's operations. Examples include easily identifiable areas covering a fairly large space (such as towns or military installations), terrain features (such as ridge lines, wood lines, or choke points), or a single point (such as a bridge or a building). The critical tasks of the area reconnaissance are the same as those associated with zone reconnaissance.

Section II. LINKUP

Linkup is an operation that entails the meeting of friendly ground forces (or their leaders or designated representatives). The company conducts linkup activities independently or as part of a larger force. Within a larger unit, the company may lead the linkup force.

7-6.   LINKUP SITUATIONS

Linkup may occur in, but is not limited to, the following situations:

 

  • Advancing forces reaching an objective area previously secured by air assault, airborne, or infiltrating forces.
  • Units conducting coordination for a relief in place.
  • Cross-attached units moving to join their new organization.
  • A unit moving forward during a follow and support mission with a fixing force.
  • A unit moving to assist an encircled force.
  • Units converging on the same objective during the attack.
  • Units conducting a passage of lines.

7-7.   LINKUP PLANNING

The plans for a linkup must be detailed and must cover the following items:

a.   Site Selection. Identify both a primary and an alternate site. These sites should be easy to find at night, have cover and concealment, and be off the natural lines of drift. They must also be easy to defend for a short time and offer access and escape routes.

b.   Recognition Signals. Far and near recognition signals are needed to keep friendly units from firing on each other. Although the units conducting the linkup exchange radio frequencies and call signs, they should avoid radio communications as a means of recognition due to the threat of compromise. Instead, visual and voice recognition signals should be planned:

(1)   One technique is a sign and countersign exchanged between units. This can be a challenge and password or a number combination for a near signal. It can also be an exchange of signals using flashlights, chemical lights, infrared lights, or VS-17 panels for far recognition signals per tactical SOPs.

(2)   Another technique is to place other signals on the linkup site. Examples are stones placed in a prearranged pattern, markings on trees, and arrangements of wood or tree limbs. These mark the exact location of the linkup. The first unit to the linkup site places the sign and positions the contact company to watch it. The next unit to the site then stops at the signal and initiates the far recognition signal.

c.   Indirect Fires. Indirect fires are always planned. They support the movement by masking noise, deceiving the enemy of friendly intent, and distracting the enemy. Plan indirect fires along the infiltration lanes and at the linkup sites to support in case of enemy contact.

d.   Direct Fires. Direct fire planning must prevent fratricide. Restrictive fire lines (RFLs) control fires around the linkup site. Phase lines may serve as RFLs, which are adjusted as two forces approach each other.

e.   Contingency Plans. The unit tactical SOP or the linkup annex to the OPORD must cover the following contingencies:

 

  • Enemy contact before linkup.
  • Enemy contact during linkup.
  • Enemy contact after linkup.
  • How long to wait at the linkup site.
  • What to do if some elements do not make it to the linkup.
  • Alternate linkup points and rally points.

7-8.   STEPS OF THE LINKUP OPERATION

The linkup procedure begins as the unit moves to the linkup point. If using the radio, the unit reports its location using phase lines, checkpoints, or other control measures. Each unit sends a small contact team or element to the linkup point; the remainder of the unit stays in the linkup rally point. The leader fixes individual duties of the contact elements and coordinates procedures for integrating the linkup units into a single linkup rally point. Full rehearsals are conducted if time permits. Figure 7-2 depicts a company linkup between the 3d Platoon--which infiltrated early, conducted the reconnaissance of the objective, and established the ORP--and the rest of the company, which infiltrated later.

Figure 7-2. SBCT infantry company linkup.

Figure 7-2. SBCT infantry company linkup.

a.   The unit stops and sets up a linkup rally point about 300 meters from the linkup point. A contact team is sent to the linkup point; it locates the point and observes the area. If the unit is the first at the site, it clears the immediate area and marks the linkup point, using the agreed-upon recognition signal. It then takes up a covered and concealed position to watch the linkup point.

b.   The next unit approaching the site repeats the actions above. When its contact team arrives at the site and spots the recognition signal, they then initiate the far recognition signal, which is answered by the first company, and they exchange near recognition signals.

c.   The contact teams coordinate the actions required to link up the units, such as to move one unit to the other unit's rally point, or to continue the mission.

d.   The linkup consists of three steps:

(1)   Far Recognition Signal. During this step, the units or elements involved in the linkup should establish communications before they reach direct fire range, if possible. The lead element of each linkup force should operate on the same frequency as the other friendly force.

(2)   Coordination. Before initiating movement to the linkup point, the forces must coordinate necessary tactical information, including the following:

 

  • The known enemy situation.
  • Number and types of friendly vehicles.
  • Disposition of stationary forces (if either unit is stationary).
  • Routes to the linkup point and rally point (if used).
  • Fire control measures.
  • Near recognition signal(s).
  • Communications information.
  • CS coverage.
  • CSS responsibilities and procedures.
  • Finalized location of the linkup point and rally point (if used).
  • Any special coordination, such as that covering maneuver instructions or requests for medical support.

(3)   Movement to the Linkup Point and Linkup. All units or elements involved in the linkup must enforce strict fire control measures to help prevent fratricide; linkup points and RFLs must be easily recognizable by moving and converging forces. Linkup elements take these actions:

 

  • Conduct far recognition using FM radio.
  • Conduct short-range (near) recognition using the designated signal.
  • Complete movement to the linkup point.
  • Establish local security at the linkup point.
  • Conduct additional coordination and linkup activities as necessary.

Section III. SECURITY OPERATIONS

The company may conduct security operations to the front, flanks, or rear of the SBCT force. Security operations provide early and accurate warning of enemy operations and provide the protected force with time and maneuver space to react to the enemy and develop the situation so that the commander can employ the protected force effectively. (For additional information on security operations, refer to FM 17-95.)

7-9.   FORMS OF SECURITY OPERATIONS

The four forms of security operations are screen, guard, covering force, and area security. Screen, guard, and cover entail deployment of progressively higher levels of combat power and provide increasing levels of security for the main body. Area security preserves a higher commander's freedom to move his reserves, position fire support assets, conduct command and control operations, and provide for sustainment operations. The company can conduct screen or guard operations on its own. It participates in area security missions and covering force operations only as part of a larger element. The company always provides its own local security.

NOTE:

All forces have an inherent responsibility to provide for their own local security. Local security includes OPs, local security patrols, perimeter security, and other measures taken to provide close-in security for the force.

7-10.   PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

Security operations require the commander assigning the security mission and the security force commander to address a variety of special operational factors. These planning considerations are discussed in the following paragraphs:

a.   Augmentation of Security Forces. When it is assigned to conduct a screen or guard mission, the company may receive additional combat, CS, and CSS elements. Attachments may include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

  • A reconnaissance platoon.
  • A mortar section or platoon.
  • RSTA assets.

b.   Enemy-Related Considerations. Security operations require the company to deal with a unique set of enemy considerations. For example, the array of enemy forces (and the tactics that enemy commanders use to employ them) may be different from those for any other tactical operation the company conducts. Additional enemy considerations that may influence company security operations include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1)   The presence or absence of specific types of forces on the battlefield including--

 

  • Insurgent elements (not necessarily part of the enemy force).
  • Enemy reconnaissance elements of varying strength and capabilities (at divisional, brigade, or other levels).
  • Enemy security elements (such as forward patrols).
  • Enemy stay-behind elements or enemy elements that have been bypassed.

(2)   Possible locations that the enemy will use to employ his tactical assets including--

 

  • Reconnaissance and infiltration routes.
  • OP sites for surveillance or indirect fire observers.

(3)   Availability and anticipated employment of other enemy assets including--

 

  • Surveillance devices, such as radar devices or UAVs.
  • Long-range rocket and artillery assets.
  • Helicopter and fixed-wing air strikes.
  • Elements capable of dismounted insertion or infiltration.
  • Mechanized forward detachments.

c.   Time the Security Operation is Initiated. The time by which the screen or guard must be set and active influences the company's method of deploying to the security area as well as the time it begins the deployment.

d.   Reconnaissance of the Security Area. The company commander uses a thorough analysis of METT-TC factors to determine the appropriate methods and techniques for the company to use in accomplishing this critical action.

NOTE:

The company commander must make every effort to conduct his own reconnaissance of the security area he expects the company to occupy, even when the operation is preceded by a zone reconnaissance by other SBCT battalion elements.

e.   Movement to the Security Area. In deploying elements to an area for a stationary security mission, the company commander must deal with the competing requirements of establishing the security operation quickly to meet mission requirements and of providing the necessary level of local security in doing so. The company can move to the security area using one of two basic methods: a tactical road march or a movement to contact. Either method should be preceded by a zone reconnaissance by the SBCT infantry battalion reconnaissance platoon. The following paragraphs examine considerations and procedures for the two methods of movement.

(1)   Tactical Road March. The company conducts a tactical road march to an RP behind the security area to occupy their initial positions. This method of deployment is faster than a movement to contact, but less secure. It is appropriate when enemy contact is not expected or when time is critical.

(2)   Movement to Contact. The company conducts a movement to contact from the LD to the security area. This method is slower than a tactical road march, but it is more secure. It is appropriate when time is not critical and either enemy contact is likely or the situation is unclear due to the company commander's lack of RSTA assets.

f.   Location and Orientation of the Security Area. The main body commander determines the location, orientation, and depth of the security area in which he wants the security force to operate. The security force commander conducts a detailed analysis of the terrain in the security area. He then establishes his initial dispositions (usually a screen line, even for a guard mission) as far forward as possible, on terrain that allows clear observation of avenues of approach into a sector. The initial screen line is depicted as a phase line and sometimes represents the forward line of troops (FLOT). As such, the screen line may be a restrictive control measure for movement. This requires the company commander to conduct all necessary coordination if he decides to establish OPs or to perform reconnaissance forward of the line.

g.   Initial OP Locations. The company commander may deploy OPs to ensure effective surveillance of the sector and designated NAIs. He designates initial OP locations on or behind the screen line. He should provide OP personnel with specific orientation and observation guidance, including, at a minimum, the primary orientation for the surveillance effort during the conduct of the screen. Once set on the screen line, the surveillance elements report their locations. The element that occupies each OP always retains the responsibility for changing the location in accordance with tactical requirements and the commander's intent and guidance for orientation. Dismounted OPs maximize stealth.

h.   Width and Depth of the Security Area. The company sector is defined by lateral boundaries extending out to an LOA (the initial screen line) forward of a rear boundary. The company's ability to maintain depth through the sector decreases as the screened or guarded frontage increases.

i.   Special Requirements and Constraints. The company commander must specify any additional considerations for the security operation, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

  • All requirements for observing NAIs, as identified by the SBCT battalion.
  • Any additional tactical tasks or missions that the company and subordinate elements must perform.
  • Engagement and disengagement criteria for all company elements.

j.   Indirect Fire Planning. The company commander conducts indirect fire planning to integrate artillery and mortar assets into the security mission. A wide sector may require him to position mortar assets where they can provide effective coverage of the enemy's most likely axis of attack or infiltration route, as determined in his analysis of the enemy. The commander can position the mortars so that up to two thirds of their maximum range lies forward of the initial screen line. The company FSO assists the commander in planning artillery fires to adequately cover any gaps in mortar coverage.

k.   Positioning of Command and Control and CSS Assets. The company commander normally positions himself where he can observe the most dangerous enemy axis of attack or infiltration route, with the XO positioned on the second most critical axis or route. The XO positions the company CP (if used) in depth and, normally, centered in sector. This allows the CP to provide control of initial movement, to receive reports from the screen or guard elements, and to assist the commander in more effectively facilitating command and control. Company trains are positioned behind masking terrain, but they remain close enough for rapid response. The trains are best sited along routes that afford good mobility laterally and in depth. Patrols may be required to cover gaps between the OPs. The company commander tasks elements to conduct either mounted or dismounted patrols, as required.

l.   Coordination. The company commander must conduct adjacent unit coordination to ensure there are no gaps in the screen or guard and to ensure smooth execution of the company's rearward passages of lines, if required. Additionally, he must coordinate the company's follow-on mission.

m.   CSS Considerations. The company commander's primary consideration for CSS during security operations is coordinating and conducting resupply of the company, especially for Class III and V supplies. (One technique is for the commander to pre-position Class III and Class V vehicles at the company's successive positions.) In addition to normal considerations, however, the commander may acquire other responsibilities in this area, such as arranging CSS for a large number of attached elements or coordinating resupply for a subsequent mission. The company's support planning can be further complicated by a variety of factors. To prevent these factors from creating outright tactical problems, the company must receive requested logistical support, such as additional medical evacuation vehicles, from the controlling SBCT battalion.

n.   Follow-On Missions. The complexities of security missions, combined with normal operational requirements (such as troop-leading procedures or on-the-move [OTM] planning, engagement area development, rest plans, and CSS activities), can easily rob the company commander of the time he needs for planning and preparation of follow-on missions. He must address these competing demands in his initial mission analysis to ensure that the company and its leaders can adequately meet all requirements for current and future operations. If METT-TC factors permit, for example, the company commander can shift his focus to preparing for follow-on missions once preparations for the security mission are complete (or satisfactorily under way). Another technique is to detach the XO, with support personnel and vehicles, to prepare for follow-on missions. The XO's party can handle such operational requirements as reconnaissance, coordination, and development of follow-on engagement areas and BPs.

7-11.   SCREEN

A screen primarily provides early warning. The screening force observes, identifies, and reports enemy actions to the main defense. A screen provides the least amount of protection of any security mission. Generally, a screening force engages and destroys enemy reconnaissance elements within its capabilities but otherwise fights only in self-defense. It normally does not have the combat power to develop the situation if FBCB2 has not provided sufficient input.

a.   Purposes. A screen is appropriate to cover gaps between forces, the exposed flanks or rear of stationary and moving forces, or the front of a stationary formation. It is used when the likelihood of enemy contact is remote, the expected enemy force is small, or the friendly main body needs only a minimum amount of time, once it is warned, to react effectively. Screening is largely accomplished by establishing a series of OPs and conducting patrols to ensure adequate surveillance of the assigned sector. Purposes of the screen include the following:

 

  • To prevent enemy ground elements from passing through the screen undetected or unreported.
  • To maintain continuous surveillance of all avenues of approach into the sector under all visibility conditions.
  • To destroy or repel enemy reconnaissance elements within capability.
  • To locate the lead elements of each enemy advance guard force and determine their direction of movement.
  • To maintain contact with enemy forces and report any activity in sector.
  • To impede and harass the enemy within capability while displacing.
  • To maintain contact with the enemy main body and any enemy security forces operating on the flanks of friendly forces.

b.   Stationary Screen. When conducting a stationary screening mission, the company commander first analyzes infiltration routes into the screen sector, then assigns surveillance responsibility to the company's subordinate elements. He designates locations of OPs, which should be in depth through the sector. Sections within the company normally man the OPs. The commander identifies the enemy's likely axes of attack or infiltration routes; if necessary, he identifies additional control measures (such as NAIs, phase lines, TRPs, or checkpoints) to assist in movement control and in tracking of enemy elements. The company conducts mounted and dismounted patrols to reconnoiter areas it cannot observe from OPs. Once an OP detects the enemy, the screening force normally engages him with indirect fires. This prevents the enemy from penetrating the screen line and does not compromise the location of the OP. Within its capability, the screening force may destroy enemy reconnaissance assets with direct fires if indirect fires cannot accomplish the task. (For additional details, refer to the discussion of actions against enemy reconnaissance elements in paragraph 7-12c(2).) The screening force also impedes and harasses other enemy elements, primarily through the use of indirect fires. If enemy pressure threatens the security of the screening force, the unit normally reports the situation and requests permission to displace to a subsequent screen line.

c.   Moving Screen. The company can conduct a moving screen to the flanks or rear of the screened force. The movement of the screen is keyed to time and distance factors associated with the movement of the friendly main body.

(1)   Moving Flank Screen. Responsibilities for a moving flank screen begin at the front of the main body's lead combat element and end at the rear of the protected force. In conducting a moving flank screen, the company either occupies a series of temporary OPs along a designated screen line or, if the protected force is moving too fast, continues to move while maintaining surveillance and preparing to occupy a designated screen line. There are four basic methods of controlling movement along the screened flank. The screening force may use one or more of these methods as the speed of movement of the protected force changes or contact is made.

(a)   Alternate Bounds by Individual OP. The screening element uses this method when the protected force is advancing slowly and enemy contact is likely along the screen line. Designated elements of the screening force move to and occupy new OPs as dictated by the enemy situation and the movement of the main body. Other elements remain stationary, providing overwatch and surveillance, until the moving elements establish their new positions; these elements then move to new positions while the now-stationary elements provide overwatch and surveillance. This sequence continues as needed. The method of alternate bounding by individual OP is secure but slow.

(b)   Alternate Bounds by Unit. The screening element uses this method when the protected force is advancing slowly and enemy contact is likely along the screen line. Designated elements of the screening force move and occupy new positions as dictated by the enemy situation and the movement of the main body. Other elements remain stationary, providing overwatch and surveillance, until the moving elements establish their new positions; these elements then move to new positions while the now-stationary elements provide overwatch and surveillance. This sequence continues as needed. The method of alternate bounding by unit is secure but slow.

(c)   Successive Bounds. The screening element uses this method when FBCB2 is not detecting the total tactical environment and enemy contact is possible. During this time, the main body makes frequent short halts during movement. Each platoon of the screening force occupies a designated portion of the screen line each time the main body stops. When main body movement resumes, the platoons move simultaneously, retaining their relative position as they move forward.

(d)   Continuous Marching. The screening element uses this method when the main body is advancing rapidly at a constant rate and enemy contact is not likely. The screening force maintains the same rate of movement as the main body while at the same time conducting surveillance as necessary. The screening force plans stationary screen lines along the movement route but occupies them only as necessary to respond to enemy action.

(2)   Moving Rear Screen. The screening force may establish a moving rear screen to the rear of a main body force conducting an offensive operation or between the enemy and the rear of a force conducting a retrograde operation. In either case, movement of the screen is keyed to the movement of the main body or to the requirements of the enemy situation. The operation is normally controlled by movements to a series of phase lines.

7-12.   GUARD

A guard force protects the friendly main body either by fighting to gain time (while simultaneously observing the enemy and reporting pertinent information) or by attacking, defending, or delaying the enemy to prevent him from observing the main body and engaging it with direct fires. There are three types of guard operations (advance guard, flank guard, and rear guard). They can be conducted in support of either a stationary or a moving friendly force. The guard force differs from a screening force in that it contains sufficient combat power to defeat, repel, or fix the lead elements of an enemy ground force before the enemy can engage the main body with direct fires. In addition, the guard force normally deploys over a narrower front than does a comparably sized screening force, allowing greater concentration of combat power. The guard force routinely engages enemy forces with both direct and indirect fires and normally operates within range of the main body's indirect fire weapons.

a.   Purposes. The purposes of the guard, in addition to those listed in the earlier discussion of the screen, include the following:

 

  • Destroy or repel all enemy reconnaissance elements.
  • Fix and defeat enemy security elements.
  • Cause the enemy main body to deploy and then report its direction of travel to the friendly main body commander.

b.   Types. The following discussion covers operational considerations for advance guards, flank guards, and rear guards.

(1)   Advance Guard. An advance guard for a stationary force is defensive in nature. The company defends or delays in accordance with the intent of the main body commander. An advance guard for a moving force is offensive in nature. The company normally conducts an offensive advance guard mission during a movement to contact as part of an SBCT battalion. The role of the advance guard is to maintain the freedom of maneuver of the supported SBCT battalion by providing early warning of enemy activity and by finding, fixing, and destroying enemy reconnaissance and security elements. (For more details on advance guard operations, refer to the discussion of movement to contact in Chapter 4, Section VI, of this manual.)

(2)   Flank Guard. A flank guard protects an exposed flank of the main body. A flank guard is similar to a flank screen except that both OPs and defensive positions are planned. The company may conduct a moving flank guard during an attack or a movement to contact. In conducting a moving flank guard, the company normally occupies a series of BPs along the protected flank. It must maintain orientation both to the front (to perform its overwatch role and to maintain its own security) and to the protected flank. It must also maintain a sufficient distance from the main body to prevent the enemy from engaging the main body with long-range direct fires before early warning can be sent. (Paragraph 7-12d focuses on execution of a moving flank guard.)

(3)   Rear Guard. The rear guard protects the rear of the main body as well as all CS and CSS elements within the main body. This may occur during offensive operations when the main body breaks contact with the FLOT or during retrograde operations. Rear guards may be deployed behind either moving or stationary main bodies. (The rear guard for a moving force displaces to successive BPs along phase lines or delay lines in depth as the main body moves.) During retrograde operations, the rear guard normally deploys its elements across the entire sector behind the main body's forward maneuver units.

c.   Stationary Guard. As noted, a stationary guard mission is, at least initially, defensive in nature. The guard force normally employs OPs to accomplish all surveillance requirements of the guard mission. The company must be prepared to conduct actions against the enemy's main body and security elements as well as his reconnaissance forces. The following paragraphs discuss considerations for operations involving these enemy elements.

(1)   Actions against Main Body and Security Element.. Once contact is made with an enemy main body or security force, the guard force attacks, defends, or delays in accordance with the enemy situation and the intent of the commander of the protected force. (Chapter 5 of this manual discusses considerations for the defense.)

(2)   Actions against Reconnaissance Elements. When it must execute counterreconnaissance tasks, the company normally task-organizes into a surveillance element (normally occupying a screen line) and an attack element. Each element has specific responsibilities but must be prepared to work effectively with the other to ensure success of the operation:

(a)   Surveillance Element and Surveillance Sectors. The commander must assign clear responsibilities for surveillance of identified avenues of approach and designated NAIs. The surveillance element is tasked with detecting, reporting, and maintaining contact with the enemy in the assigned surveillance sector. In addition, the surveillance element is responsible for passing the enemy force off to the attack element for destruction.

(b)   Attack Element. In this role, the company's MGS platoon can serve as the primary direct fire killing asset and remain responsive to the commander. The attack element occupies hide positions, BPs, or attack-by-fire positions along enemy avenues of approach. Once alerted by the surveillance force, it moves into position (if necessary) and destroys the approaching enemy element. The attack element is responsible for direct fire planning and engagement area development in support of the commander's plan. It must rehearse all necessary movement to the planned fighting positions and report the required movement times to the commander.

(c)   Relationship of Surveillance and Attack Elements. The company's surveillance element must track locations of any enemy vehicles moving through the sector while the attack element moves into position. Once the attack element is set and can observe the enemy, the surveillance element completes target handover. This operation requires continuous communication between the two subordinate elements conducting the handover as well as close control by the company commander or XO. In close terrain, the surveillance and attack elements must be positioned much closer together than in open terrain. This helps the elements to maintain visual contact and achieve target handover at the appropriate time. Figure 7-3, illustrates a company stationary guard operation.

Figure 7-3. Stationary guard with OPs forward.

Figure 7-3. Stationary guard with OPs forward.

d.   Moving Flank Guard. Many of the considerations for a moving flank screen apply to the execution of a moving flank guard. However, unlike a moving flank screen that occupies a series of OPs, the flank guard force plans to occupy a series of defensive positions. In conducting a moving flank guard, the company either occupies a series of temporary BPs along the protected flank or, if the protected force is moving too quickly, continues to move along the protected flank. During movement, the company maintains surveillance to the protected flank of the SBCT while preparing to occupy designated BPs based on enemy activity or on the movement of the protected force. There are three basic methods of controlling movement along the guarded flank:

 

  • Alternate bounds by unit.
  • Successive bounds by unit.
  • Continuous marching.

NOTE:

These are identical to the methods for controlling movement along a screened flank except that the company and its platoons occupy designated defensive positions instead of OPs.

The lead element of a moving flank guard must accomplish three tasks. It must maintain contact with the protected force, reconnoiter the flank guard's route of advance, and reconnoiter the zone between the protected force and the flank guard's advance. The rest of the flank guard marches along the route of advance and occupies BPs to the protected flank as necessary. Figure 7-4 illustrates a company flank guard operation during a movement to contact. One platoon is employed to provide security to the front and maintain contact with the SBCT main body; the other two platoons are oriented to the protected flank. The illustration shows BPs the platoons may occupy to respond to the approaching enemy force.

Figure 7-4. SBCT infantry company guarding the SBCT flank during movement to contact.

Figure 7-4. SBCT infantry company guarding the SBCT flank during movement to contact.

7-13.   LOCAL SECURITY

The company is responsible for maintaining its own security at all times. It does this by deploying mounted and dismounted OPs and patrols to maintain surveillance and by employing appropriate OPSEC measures. In addition to maintaining security for its own elements, the company may implement local security for other units as directed by the SBCT battalion infantry commander. Examples of such situations include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

  • Provide security for engineers as they emplace obstacles or construct survivability positions in the company BP.
  • Secure LZs.
  • Establish mounted or dismounted OPs to maintain surveillance of enemy infiltration and reconnaissance routes.
  • Conduct patrols to cover gaps in observation and to clear possible enemy OPs from surrounding areas.

Section IV. VEHICLE LAAGER

On the battlefield of the future there will be situations based on METT-TC that require the SBCT leadership and its soldiers to be separated from their vehicles. The organic ICVs of the SBCT infantry rifle company are for transporting the infantry squads to the fight and providing tactical flexibility while tailoring the soldiers' loads through a "mobile arms room" concept. There is also an MGS platoon that supports the infantry fight with long-range precision fires. The MGS is a fighting vehicle but is not a Bradley or a tank and should not be employed in the traditional sense of a fighting vehicle. Flexibility is the key to this force. SBCT leadership should consider the following when the operational situation dictates that their vehicles be placed in a vehicle laager site.

7-14.   PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

To avoid the enemy's detection or strength, as well as to conduct reconnaissance, the commander may place his ICVs and other vehicles in a secure location and move dismounted by stealth through gaps or around enemy positions to conduct operations such as raids, ambushes, or other attacks. The company also may separate its personnel from their vehicles for other types of operations, such as stay-behind and reconnaissance.

a.   Fundamentals. The company has the capability to move to critical targets undetected, achieve surprise, and avoid the effects of enemy fires. Limited visibility, bad weather, and restrictive terrain also reduce the chances of detection when soldiers are separated from their vehicles. A unit may opt to separate from its vehicles--

 

  • To gather information.
  • To attack the enemy at a weak point.
  • To seize key terrain or destroy vital installations behind enemy positions.
  • To harass and disrupt the enemy with ambushes in his rear area.
  • To attack enemy reserves, fire support units, and command posts.
  • To participate in air assault operations.

b.   Considerations. The company commander must prepare and give his units enough time for planning and preparation for movement without their vehicles. In either case, movement techniques and formations are based on the likelihood of enemy contact, the terrain, the level of visibility, and the need for speed and control.

(1)   The routes selected must use the best available cover and concealment, ease control and navigation, and avoid obstacles and danger areas. Routes should be reconnoitered without alerting the enemy. This may be possible by using RSTA assets within the SBCT; however, leaders should consider using map reconnaissance, guides, or marking the routes.

(2)   Visual signals, such as arm-and-hand signals, infrared devices, and flashlights with colored lenses, reduce the chance of detection. Avoid sound signals and flares. Recognition signals are critical for actions at a linkup or rally point.

(3)   Radio listening silence should be enforced, except when a unit must report its progress or when a unit detected by the enemy needs supporting fire.

(4)   Indirect fires are always planned not only for the dismounted element but the vehicle laager area as well

(5)   A vehicle laager site out of which maneuver units are executing dismounted operations has the following characteristics:

 

  • Concealment from enemy ground and, if possible, air observation.
  • Good drainage and a surface that can support both tracked and wheeled vehicles.
  • Suitable entrances, exits, and internal roads or trails.
  • Sufficient space for dispersion of vehicles and equipment.

7-15.   OCCUPYING VEHICLE LAAGER SITES

The company may initially occupy the vehicle laager site as an independent element or as part of a battalion. In either situation, upon arrival the company occupies its vehicle laager site using the procedures for hasty occupation of a BP.

a.   The company commander establishes local security and coordinates with any adjacent units that may also be in the general area. He assigns weapons orientation and a sector of responsibility for each platoon and subordinate elements. If the company occupies the vehicle laager site alone, it establishes a perimeter defense. Upon departure of the dismounted portion of the company conducting operations, the senior individual remaining in the laager site assumes responsibility normally associated with occupation of a BP.

b.   Following occupation of the vehicle laager site, the elements remaining can prepare for future operations by conducting troop-leading procedures and priorities of work in accordance with SBCT battalion and company OPORDs per tactical SOPs. These preparations include the following:

 

  • Establish and maintain security.
  • Employ security measures as necessary, including protection against enemy infiltration.
  • Conduct troop-leading procedures.
  • If the tactical situation permits, perform maintenance on their vehicles and communications equipment.
  • If practical, conduct resupply operations, including refueling and rearming.
  • Reestablish vehicle load plans.

Section V. PASSAGE OF LINES

A passage of lines entails movement of one or more units through another unit. This operation becomes necessary when the moving unit(s) cannot bypass the stationary unit and must pass through it. The primary purpose of the passage is to maintain the momentum of the moving elements. A passage of lines may be designated as either forward or rearward (refer to the discussion and illustrations later in this section). The controlling SBCT battalion is responsible for planning and coordinating a passage of lines involving the company. In some situations, as when the company is using multiple passage routes (such as a separate route for each platoon), the company commander must take responsibility for planning and coordinating each phase of the operation.

7-16.   PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

In planning the passage of lines, the commander must consider the tactical factors and procedures covered in the following paragraphs.

a.   Passage Lanes. The passage should facilitate transition to follow-on missions through the use of multiple lanes or lanes wide enough to support doctrinal formations for the passing units.

b.   Use of Deception. The company can use deception techniques, such as smoke, to enhance security during the passage.

c.   Battle Handover. The controlling commander must clearly define the battle handover criteria and procedures to be used during the passage. His order should cover the roles of both the passing unit and the stationary unit and the use of direct and indirect fires. If necessary, he also specifies the location of the battle handover line (BHL) as part of the unit's graphic control measures. For a forward passage, the BHL is normally the LD for the passing force; in a rearward passage, it is normally a location within the direct fire range of the stationary force. In general, a defensive handover is complete when the passing unit is clear and the stationary unit is ready to engage the enemy. Offensive handover is complete when the passing unit has deployed and crossed the BHL.

d.   Obstacles. The passing and stationary units must coordinate obstacle information, to include the locations of enemy and friendly obstacles, existing lanes and bypasses, and guides for the passage.

e.   Air Defense. Air defense coverage is imperative during the high-risk passage operation. Normally, the stationary SBCT unit is responsible for providing air defense, allowing the passing unit's air defense assets to move with it.

f.   CSS Responsibilities. Responsibility for CSS actions, such as vehicle recovery or casualty evacuation in the passage lane, must be clearly defined for both passing and stationary units.

g.   Command and Control. To enhance command and control during the passage, the company collocates a command and control element, normally the company commander or XO, with a similar element from the stationary or moving unit (as applicable).

7-17.   RECONNAISSANCE COORDINATION

Detailed reconnaissance and coordination are critical in a passage of lines, both in dealing with the often complex planning factors outlined previously and in ensuring that the passage is conducted quickly and smoothly. The company commander normally conducts all necessary reconnaissance and coordination for the passage. At times, he may designate the XO, 1SG, or a platoon leader to conduct liaison duties for reconnaissance and coordination. The following items of information are coordinated:

 

  • Unit designation and composition; type and number of passing vehicles.
  • Passing unit arrival time(s).
  • Location of attack positions or assembly areas.
  • Current enemy situation.
  • Stationary unit's mission and plan (to include OP, patrol, and obstacle locations).
  • Location of movement routes, contact points, passage points, and passage lanes.

NOTE:

In units with digital capability, the use of GPS and or position navigation (POSNAV) waypoints simplifies this process and, as a result, speeds the passage.


 

  • Guide requirements.
  • Order of march.
  • Anticipated actions on enemy contact.
  • Requirements for supporting direct and indirect fires, including the location of the RFL.
  • NBC conditions.
  • Available CS and CSS assets and their locations.
  • Communications information (to include frequencies, digital data, and near and far recognition signals).
  • Criteria for battle handover and location of the BHL.
  • Additional procedures for the passage.

7-18.   FORWARD PASSAGE OF LINES

In a forward passage, the passing unit first moves to an assembly area or an attack position behind the stationary unit. Designated liaison personnel move forward to link up with guides and confirm coordination information with the stationary unit. Guides then lead the passing elements through the passage lane. The company conducts a forward passage by employing tactical movement. It moves quickly, using appropriate dispersal and formations whenever possible and keeping radio traffic to a minimum. It bypasses disabled vehicles as necessary. The company holds its fire until it passes the BHL or designated fire control measure unless the company commander has coordinated fire control with the stationary unit. Once clear of passage lane restrictions, the unit consolidates at a rally point or attack position and then conducts tactical movement in accordance with its orders. Figure 7-5, illustrates a forward passage of lines.

Figure 7-5. SBCT infantry company forward passage of lines.

Figure 7-5. SBCT infantry company forward passage of lines.

7-19.   REARWARD PASSAGE OF LINES

Because of the increased chance of fratricide during a rearward passage, coordination of recognition signals and direct fire restrictions is critical. The passing unit contacts the stationary unit while it is still beyond direct fire range and conducts coordination as discussed previously. Coordination emphasizes near recognition signals and location of the BHL. Additional fire control measures, such as RFLs, may be employed to further minimize the risk of fratricide. Following coordination, the passing unit continues tactical movement toward the passage lane. Gun tubes are oriented on the enemy, and the passing unit is responsible for its own security until it passes the BHL. If the stationary unit provides guides, the passing unit may conduct a short halt to link up and coordinate with them. The passing unit moves quickly through the passage lane to a designated location behind the stationary unit (Figure 7-6).

Figure 7-6. SBCT infantry company rearward passage of lines.

Figure 7-6. SBCT infantry company rearward passage of lines.

Section VI. BREACHING

Obstacle breaching is a high-frequency task during offensive operations. Breaching entails the employment of a combination of techniques, procedures, and equipment to project combat power to the far side of an obstacle. The company commander must understand the challenges presented by various types of obstacles and the capabilities and limitations of the mobility assets the company can employ to defeat them. He must further understand the basic tenets of breaching and the types of breaches the company may be tasked to conduct. ( FM 3-34.2 contains a more detailed discussion of breaching operations and threat obstacle employment.)

7-20.   BREACHING TENETS

In the planning and execution of a successful combined-arms breaching operation, the company commander must apply the five tenets of breaching. These basic principles, described in this discussion, are the following:

 

  • Intelligence.
  • Breaching fundamentals.
  • Breaching organization.
  • Mass.
  • Synchronization.

a.   Intelligence. Well-rehearsed drills and tactical SOPs and redundancy in breaching assets can offset a lack of obstacle intelligence (OBSTINTEL) in breaching operations involving simple obstacles or lightly defended obstacles. Detailed OBSTINTEL, however, is imperative for a successful breach of a complex obstacle. Without thorough information on the obstacle itself and the defense it supports, the breach force is at risk. As a minimum, OBSTINTEL requirements for breach and maneuver planning should cover the following:

(1)   Bypasses and Gaps. The existence of adequate bypasses affects the decision of whether a breaching operation is required. Gaps may influence what type of breach is used.

(2)   Obstacle Location and Orientation. These are factors in which the breach is conducted.

(3)   Obstacle Composition and Depth. These factors, which are critical to how the breach is conducted, include the following:

 

  • Types of mines employed, by target type (antipersonnel or antitank), positioning (buried or surface-laid), and method of activation (pressure, mechanical, or magnetic).
  • Presence of antihandling devices.
  • Size of the obstacle and whether it is tied into existing or reinforcing obstacles.

(4)   Location of the Enemy's Direct Fire Weapons (Mounted and Dismounted). This influences actions on the objective during the breach, including how to suppress and obscure the enemy.

(5)   Topography. Topography affects the use of various types of breaching assets. Some equipment, for example, may not work efficiently in rocky soil.

b.   Breaching Fundamentals. There are five basic steps that are part of every breaching operation. The simplified steps, known by the acronym SOSRA, are suppress, obscure, secure, reduce, and assault.

(1)   Suppres.. Focus all available fires on the enemy to prevent him from placing effective fires on the breach and assault forces.

(2)   Obscure. Employ screening or obscuring smoke to prevent enemy acquisition of friendly elements.

(3)   Secure. Secure the breach site to prevent the enemy from interfering with obstacle reduction or passage of friendly forces through the cleared lanes. Security must be effective against all types of enemy elements that can influence these actions, including outposts and fighting positions near the obstacle, overwatching units, and counterattack forces.

(4)   Reduce. Create lanes through or over the obstacle to allow the assault force to pass through and to enable follow-on forces to accomplish their missions.

(5)   Assault. Assault through the breach to destroy enemy forces on the far side of the obstacle that are capable of placing or observing direct and indirect fires on the reduction area and to seize key terrain that will facilitate further combat operations.

c.   Breaching Organization. The breach commander designates support, breach, and assault forces. The following paragraphs summarize the responsibilities and actions of these three elements during the breaching operation.

(1)   Support Force. The support element takes these actions:

 

  • Establishes support by fire positions and suppresses the enemy with direct and indirect fires to prevent him from placing effective fires against friendly forces.
  • Employs or calls for smoke to obscure the enemy or screen friendly movement.

(2)   Breach Force. The breach element takes these actions:

 

  • Searches for bypasses.
  • Establishes breach site security on the near side of the obstacle against mounted and dismounted enemy elements.
  • Reduces the obstacle.
  • Proofs and marks lanes or bypasses.
  • Establishes breach site security on the far side against mounted and dismounted enemy elements to facilitate passage of the assault force.

(3)   Assault Force. The assault element takes these actions:

 

  • As necessary, assists the support force with suppression during the initial reduction of the obstacle.
  • As necessary, conducts an assault breach of protective obstacles.
  • Secures the far side of the obstacle (this is defined as the area that can influence the breach site).
  • As directed, conducts additional actions on the objective to destroy enemy elements on the far side of the obstacle.

d.   Mass. A critical factor in the success of any breaching operation, mass is achieved when the friendly force is able to fix a majority of the enemy or to isolate or obscure the objective using smoke. The breach commander must plan for a 50-percent redundancy in reduction assets. He can generate favorable force ratios through the employment of additional combat multipliers.

e.   Synchronization. Synchronization can best be achieved in a breaching operation through the use of detailed reverse planning, clear instructions to subordinate elements, effective command and control, and extensive rehearsals. The emphasis is on the steps of SOSRA. Planning considerations for synchronization during the breach, listed in a possible reverse sequence, include the following:

 

  • Reverse planning starts with actions on the objective.
  • The planned actions on the objective influence the size and composition of the assault force and the number and location of lanes to be created.
  • Lane requirements, topography, and the types of obstacles determine the type and number of reduction assets task-organized to the breach force.
  • The ability of the enemy's infantry to interfere with the breach determines whether the breach site is secured by fires or by force.
  • The enemy's ability to mass fires at the breach site dictates the nature of the required suppression fires (including the composition of the support force and the type and amount of supporting fires).
  • The location of the enemy and the availability of clear fields of fire determine the location of the support force and its support-by-fire position.

7-21.   TYPES OF BREACHES

This paragraph discusses the combined-arms deliberate breach and combined-arms hasty breach. (Refer to FM 3-34.2 for a detailed discussion of combined-arms breaching operations.) A discussion of the bypass operation, which the commander must first consider as an alternative to conducting an actual breach, is also included.

a.   Bypass. When a unit bypasses an obstacle, it physically changes direction, moving along a route that avoids the obstacle. Obstacles should be bypassed whenever possible to maintain the momentum of the operation. SBCT infantry commanders, however, must ensure that conducting the bypass will provide a tactical advantage without exposing the unit to unnecessary danger. If possible, they should conduct a reconnaissance to evaluate tactical considerations to include--

 

  • The limits of the obstacle.
  • Physical aspects of the bypass route, including location, availability of cover and concealment, and key terrain influencing the route.
  • Confirmation that the bypass route will take the unit where it needs to go while avoiding possible enemy ambush sites and kill sacks.

(For additional considerations related to bypass operations, refer to the discussion of the bypass as a tactical task in Chapter 4 of this manual.)

b.   Combined-Arms Hasty Breach. SBCTs and battalions employ the combined-arms hasty breaching technique to overcome unexpected or lightly defended obstacles quickly; they may also use the technique when the obstacle or enemy situation is unclear. SBCT and SBCT infantry battalion commanders may prepare their units for a combined-arms hasty breach by task-organizing subordinate SBCT battalions or companies (as applicable) with the additional forces necessary to conduct the operation. As with the combined-arms deliberate breach, the SBCT battalion commander may direct the company, probably task-organized with one or more engineer platoons, to conduct the combined-arms hasty breach on its own. The company commander assumes responsibility for designating support, breach, and assault forces and for synchronizing SOSRA actions.

c.   Combined-Arms Deliberate Breach. The combined-arms deliberate breach is a scheme of maneuver specifically designed to reduce an obstacle, allowing the unit to continue the mission. Thorough reconnaissance, detailed planning, and extensive preparation and rehearsal characterize the deliberate breach. Subordinate elements are tasked to perform the roles of support, breach, and assault forces. The SBCT battalion commander is responsible for synchronizing the steps of SOSRA.

Section VII. AIR ASSAULT OPERATIONS

Situations favoring an air assault operation for the SBCT include those in which the enemy has a vulnerable area suitable for air assault, surprise can be achieved, and enemy air defenses are weak and vulnerable or can be effectively suppressed.

7-22.   PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

The SBCT infantry rifle company may be required to participate in air assault operations as part of the tactical plan. The company has the ability to be air lifted as part of a larger operation. The battalion is the lowest level with sufficient personnel to plan, coordinate, and control an air assault operation. When company-size or lower operations are conducted, the planning takes place at battalion or higher headquarters. Successful air assault execution is based on a careful analysis of METT-TC factors and detailed, precise reverse planning. Refer to FM 90-4 for a detailed discussion of air assault operation.

NOTE:

Separating the infantry from the ICV and MGS vehicles during air assault operations will eliminate the supporting fires from the MGS platoon and may limit the inter-networked communications and the commanders and leaders knowledge of the changing situation.

7-23   REVERSE PLANNING SEQUENCE

The basic plans that comprise the reverse planning sequence are developed for each air assault operation and include ground tactical plan, landing plan, air movement plan, loading plan, and staging plan. These plans normally are coordinated and developed by the battalion staff to make the best use of available time. If time is limited, planning steps may be compressed or conducted concurrently.

a.   Ground Tactical Plan. The foundation of a successful air assault operation is the commander's ground tactical plan, around which subsequent planning is based. The ground tactical plan specifies actions in the objective area to accomplish the mission and addresses subsequent operations. The ground tactical plan contains essentially the same elements as any other infantry attack plan but capitalizes on speed and mobility to achieve surprise. The vehicle link up plan should be addressed if the intent is to move the vehicles to link up with the company in the area of operation.

b.   Landing Plan. The landing plan must support the ground tactical plan. This plan sequences elements into the area of operations to ensure that platoons arrive at designated locations and times, prepared to execute the ground tactical plan.

c.   Air Movement Plan. The air movement plan is based on the ground tactical and landing plans. It specifies the schedule and provides the instructions for air movement of soldiers, equipment, and supplies from pickup zones and landing zones.

d. Loading Plan. The loading plan is based on the movement plan. It ensures soldiers, equipment, and supplies are loaded on the correct aircraft. Platoon integrity is maintained when aircraft loads are planned. Cross loading of essential personnel and equipment is imperative to ensure survivability of command and control assets and to ensure that the mix of personnel and weapons arriving at the LZ is ready to fight. The company commander or platoon leader should always ensure the aircraft is loaded so that dismounting soldiers react promptly and contribute to mission accomplishment. The company must have a bump plan. A bump plan ensures essential soldiers and equipment are loaded ahead of less critical loads in case of aircraft breakdown or other problems.

e.   Staging Plan. The staging plan is based on the loading plan and prescribes the arrival time of ground units (soldiers, equipment, and supplies) at the PZ in the order of movement. The staging plan includes the disposition of the vehicles left in the staging area and the company's linkup plan if the link up is to occur on return from the air assault mission.

(1)   Disposition of Vehicles. The company commander must develop a security plan for the vehicles that remain in the staging area until the company returns to the LZ after the air assault mission is completed. Instructions for link up of the platoons with their vehicles will also be included.

(2)   Linkup of Vehicles. The linkup plan must be just as detailed as the staging and loading plans. To simplify the linkup, the company commander must ensure that platoon integrity is maintained. The company commander should designate a linkup point for each element to link up with its vehicles. As the aircrafts land, the elements immediately move to their linkup point to continue the mission.



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list