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Offensive action is the decisive form of any engagement. The primary purpose of the offense is to defeat, destroy, or neutralize an enemy force. A commander may also take offensive actions to deceive or divert the enemy, deprive him of resources or decisive terrain, collect information, or fix an enemy in position. Even in the defense, offensive action is normally required to destroy an attacker and exploit success. The key to a successful offensive operation is to identify the enemy's weakness and choose a form of maneuver that masses overwhelming combat power at the decisive point. This chapter discusses the basics of the offense, which apply to all offensive actions. It discusses the concept of synchronized attacks that maximize the battalion's unique capabilities and the planning and conduct of offensive operations.

The SBCT infantry battalion seizes, retains, and exploits the initiative in conducting offensive operations. Offensive operations are either force-oriented (focused on the enemy) or terrain-oriented (focused on seizing and retaining control of terrain and facilities). Most offensive operations at battalion level combine distinct subunit operations that have force or terrain orientations.


The battalion gains and maintains the initiative and keeps constant pressure on the enemy throughout his AO. The battalion transitions from one offensive action to another without pausing. Planning and preparing for the next and for follow-on operations occur simultaneously with execution of the current action.


Success in offensive operations depends on the proper application of the fundamental characteristics of the offense discussed in the following paragraphs. The battalion's ability to maneuver mounted or dismounted and move by air or land makes flexibility a key attribute.

    a.     Surprise. A force achieves surprise by attacking the enemy at a time or place and in a manner for which the enemy is not physically or mentally ready. The battalion commander must have sufficient information for a clear understanding of his current state in relation to the enemy and environment, a sound understanding of what the end state is for the assigned mission, and a vision of how to move his force from the current situation to the end state. Surprise is more readily attainable because of the battalion's information dominance, flexibility, and mobility. A battalion achieves surprise by—

    • Gaining and maintaining information dominance by conducting thorough reconnaissance and surveillance and denying enemy reconnaissance efforts.
    • Striking the enemy from an unexpected direction at an unexpected time through the unique combination of rapid mounted movement and the ability of units to cross any type of terrain.
    • Quickly changing the tempo of the operations.

    b.     Concentration. A force achieves concentration by massing the effects of combat power. Superior timing, precision maneuvers and fires, and speed, facilitated by shared information dominance, allow the battalion commander to mass the effects of his forces when and where appropriate and to shift quickly from one objective or direction to another. With the commander's advantage in information, he has a better understanding of the effects of his action ("seeing" success or the need to continue an attack) and can apply available combat power more efficiently and focus his main effort more effectively. Once it gains success, the battalion can quickly disperse, if needed, to avoid enemy counteractions, again under control enabled by the C2 INFOSYS imbedded in the battalion. A battalion achieves concentration through—

    • Careful planning and coordination based on a thorough analysis of terrain and enemy plus accurate, timely reconnaissance.
    • Designation of a main effort and allocation of resources to support it.
    • Continuous information dominance.
    • Unit positions that allow it to mass effects.

    c.     Tempo. Tempo is the ability to adjust the rate of operations relative to battle circumstances and relative to the enemy's capability to sense and react. It is the controlled rate of military action. While a rapid tempo is often preferred, tempo should be adjusted to ensure synchronization. The goal is to keep pressure on the enemy, whether it is done quickly or slowly. Controlling and altering tempo promotes surprise, keeps the enemy off balance, denies the enemy freedom of action, and contributes to the security of the battalion. The battalion's advanced information systems and rapid mobility capabilities facilitate a rapid mounting tempo while permitting the synchronization necessary for a rapid execution tempo.

    d.     Audacity. Audacity is a simple plan of action boldly executed. Audacity inspires soldiers to overcome adversity and danger. Audacity is a key component of any successful offensive action and increases the chance for surprise. It depends on the commander's ability to see opportunities for action, to decide in time to seize opportunities, and to accept the risks. Leaders must understand when and where to take risks, plan for them, and execute boldly. The sharing of combat information electronically between leaders at all echelons, coupled with information dominance, reduces the risk but does not eliminate the many uncertainties associated with battle. Digitization improves the commander's ability to make quick situational assessments, to conduct on-the-spot risk assessments, and to make bold decisions based on near-real-time information.


Traditionally, a battalion made contact with the reconnaissance platoon and lead company to develop the situation while in contact with the enemy. The lead company then fixed the enemy, allowing the remainder of the battalion to maneuver against an assailable flank. This method was based on the battalion's ability to overwhelm the enemy with greater available combat power. With the INFOSYS embedded within the SBCT infantry battalion, a new method of making contact is required. This new contact continuum consists of understanding the situation, maneuvering to a position of advantage out of contact, and making contact with the enemy on the battalion's terms (Figure 4-1). Within this new contact continuum, the battalion can mass overwhelming combat power at the decisive point to achieve its purpose more efficiently and effectively.

Figure 4-1. Contact continuum

Figure 4-1. Contact continuum.


The battalion organizes forces in a main effort, supporting effort(s), and, if possible, a reserve.

    a.     Main Effort. In a battalion, there is only one main effort. All other elements of the battalion support the main effort. In planning the scheme of maneuver, the main effort must have sufficient combat power and support to accomplish its mission. The main effort accomplishes the battalion's purpose, normally at the decisive point. After designating the main effort, the commander ensures all available resources are focused on supporting it and places the bulk of the offensive capability at his disposal into it. To weight the main effort, the commander may—

    • Assign the main effort to the company with the greatest combat power.
    • Allocate additional combat power by task organization.
    • Assign fewer specified tasks to the main effort, thereby narrowing its mission focus.
    • Position overwatch or support-by-fire elements to support the main effort.
    • Assign priority of fires (artillery and mortars) and priority of targets.
    • Coordinate adjacent unit or attack helicopter support by fire.
    • Assign priority of CSS.
    • Narrow the scope of the main effort's responsibility in terms of geographical area.

    (1)     Enemy actions, minor changes in the situation, or lack of success by other elements must not divert forces from the main effort. The commander commits the main effort at the decisive point where the unit's total combat power can be massed to achieve decisive results. Once committed, the unit may be tasked to seize key terrain or destroy designated enemy forces.

    (2)     If the situation changes so that the actions originally anticipated as decisive are no longer feasible or relevant, the commander may change the unit designated as the main effort during the course of an operation. Rapidly shifting the main effort as changes in the situation occur is challenging. Time and distance factors determine which forces the commander uses if he shifts the main effort. The commander will need to leverage the battalion's INFOSYS to effectively shift the main effort.

    b.     Supporting Effort. Supporting efforts directly support the main effort's mission accomplishment. Supporting efforts allow the main effort to be successful. Units conducting supporting efforts contain the minimal combat power necessary to accomplish their tasks. The battalion seldom has more than one supporting attack since it weakens the main attack, makes command and control difficult, and increases the chance of a piecemeal attack. The supporting attack accomplishes one or more of the following:

    • Contains, fixes, or suppresses enemy forces with maneuver and direct fires.
    • Occupies terrain to support the main effort with direct fires.
    • Destroys enemy forces that hinder the main effort.
    • Deceives the enemy as to the location of the main effort.
    • Prevents or delays enemy concentrations against the main effort.
    • Penetrates an enemy position to support a follow-on attack.

    c.     Reserve. The battalion's information dominance over the enemy allows the commander to capitalize on the capabilities of digitization to apportion his available troops to the tasks required to effect his concept of attack. The composition of the reserve is based on the firepower, mobility, and type of forces needed to meet its anticipated mission requirements based on the enemy. The reserve provides additional combat power during critical points in the fight, the ability to exploit the success of the main effort, and a hedge against uncertainty. The reserve should be sized to mitigate risk and be based on the level of detail known about the enemy. Intelligence can lead the commander to concentrate his committed units against a specific enemy weak point(s) and identify reserve requirements.

    (1)     The battalion initial reserve force can be as small as an infantry platoon. The commander and staff must look for opportunities to use other assets, such as fires and situational obstacles, to assist with the reserve mission. To generate larger ground maneuver reserves, the commander must redirect committed elements after they have accomplished their initial tasks or when the enemy's defeat frees them for other tasks.

    (2)     The speed and agility of the combat platoons allow them to be committed, withdrawn, redirected, and recommitted during the fight. The rotation of units into the reserve role requires the best possible information. Moving a unit from one area (left to right or front to rear) requires everyone in the unit to know where he is, where the enemy is, and where other friendly units are. Additionally, the movement of ground forces over the distances expected in the expanded battlespace requires time. The time and distance relationship for both mounted and dismounted actions, especially under limited visibility conditions and rough terrain, is a key factor in determining which units the commander can realistically consider as a possible reserve force.

    (3)     The battalion reserve follows the main attack at a distance sufficient to keep it from interfering with the movement of the lead companies and to maintain its freedom of maneuver. The reserve maintains the flexibility to shift to a supporting effort if the main effort changes.

    (4)     The reserve commander must understand the commander's intent, especially the decision points and conditions for commitment of the reserve. The reserve commander must remain updated on the situation; he must possess the same informational awareness as the battalion commander.

    d.     Follow and Support. In exploitation and pursuit operations, the battalion is normally employed by higher formations in a follow and support role.

    (1)     Follow and support is a mission in which a committed force follows and supports the unit conducting the main attack. A follow and support mission is assigned to a unit to prevent the unit conducting the main attack (usually the battalion main effort) from having to commit its combat power away from its primary task. A follow and support force executes one or more of the following tasks:

    • Destroys bypassed enemy forces.
    • Blocks movement of enemy reinforcements.
    • Secures routes.
    • Clears obstacles or reduces additional obstacle lanes.
    • Guards or secures enemy prisoners, key areas, and installations.
    • Recovers friendly battle losses.
    • Secures key terrain.
    • Controls refugees.
    • Reinforces the main effort.

    (2)     When operating as a follow and support force, the battalion's movement techniques are similar to those used in a movement to contact. The battalion coordinates plans with the unit it follows. Both units exchange situation reports frequently to coordinate operations.

    e.     Follow and Assume. Follow and assume is a mission in which a committed force follows another force, normally the main effort, and is prepared to assume the mission of the force it is following if that force is fixed, halted, or unable to continue. The follow and assume force maintains contact with the trail elements of the force it is following and monitors all combat information and intelligence. It can maintain this contact through digital tools or by physical contact. The COP should provide the same picture of the battle to the follow-on force as is available to the lead force.

    (1)     The follow and assume force is prepared to conduct a forward passage of lines but should attempt to pass around a flank of the lead force when assuming its mission. Additionally, the following force avoids becoming decisively engaged with enemy forces bypassed by the force it is following. The S2 must ensure that the following force is provided current information and disposition of the bypassed enemy forces as well as a current picture of the enemy forces the lead element faces and those it expects to face.

    (2)     Crucial actions to support the commitment of the follow and assume force include:

    • Maintain current COP.

    • Shift observers and reconnaissance assets as required.
    • Develop graphic control measures to ensure a rapid passage of lines or passing on a flank.
    • Ensure terrain is allocated for rapid movement while maintaining force protection.
    • Be prepared for the shift in priority of CS and CSS support. Reposition assets and re-task-organize as required.
    • Activate emergency resupply operations as necessary.
    • Establish direct fire control measures and fire support coordination measures (FSCMs), such as RFLs.


The commander and staff consider both preparation and execution as they plan an offensive mission.

    a.     Preparation. The battalion conducts extensive reconnaissance of the objective to support the commander's decisions of how to employ his combat power against the enemy. He normally does not make final decisions as to the exact conduct of the operation until reconnaissance and surveillance operations develop the enemy situation. The commander and staff direct and supervise mission preparations to prepare the battalion for the battle. The battalion employs security forces to protect and conceal attack preparations from the enemy while exercising OPSEC. Preparation time is also used to conduct precombat checks and inspections, rehearsals at all levels, and CSS activities.

    b.     Execution. Execution generally consists of the following five sequential events:

    • Movement to the line of departure.
    • Approach to the objective.
    • Actions on the objective.
    • Consolidation and reorganization.
    • Transition.

    (1)     Movement to the Line of Departure. When attacking from positions not in contact, battalions often stage in rear assembly areas, road march to attack positions behind friendly units in contact with the enemy, conduct passage of lines, and begin the attack. (See Appendix G, Road Marches and Assembly Areas.) When attacking from positions in direct contact, the line of departure is the same as the line of contact. In certain circumstances (non-contiguous operations) there may not be a line of departure.

    (2)     Approach to the Objective. The commander and staff plan the approach to the objective to ensure security, speed, and flexibility. They select routes, techniques, formations, and methods (air, mounted, dismounted) that best support actions on the objective. All leaders must recognize this portion of the battle as a fight, not a movement. The battalion may have to fight through enemy combat forces, obstacles, artillery strikes, security elements, possible spoiling attacks, and other combat multipliers to reach the objective. The commander employs techniques that avoid the enemy's strength when possible and conceal the battalion's true intentions. He tries to deceive the enemy as to the location of the main effort, uses surprise to take advantage of his initiative in determining the time and place of his attack, and uses indirect approaches when available to strike the enemy from a flank or the rear.

    (3)     Actions on the Objective. During an offensive operation, the battalion's objective may be terrain or force-oriented. Terrain-oriented objectives require the battalion to seize or secure a designated area. However, to gain a terrain-oriented objective often requires fighting through enemy forces. If the objective is an enemy force, an objective area may be assigned for orientation, but the battalion's effort is focused on the enemy's actual location. The enemy may be a stationary or moving force. Actions on the objective start when the battalion begins placing fires on the objective. This action usually occurs with preparatory fires while the battalion is still approaching the objective.

    (4)     Consolidation and Reorganization. The battalion reorganizes and consolidates as required by the situation and mission. The consolidation and reorganization plan needs to be as detailed as the assault plan.

    (a)     Consolidation. Consolidation consists of actions taken to secure and strengthen the objective and defend against enemy counterattack. The unit providing the supporting effort during the assault may or may not join the assault force on the objective. Planning considerations should include unit locations, sectors of fire, forces oriented on enemy counterattack routes, and provisions to facilitate transition to follow-on operations.

    (b)     Reorganization. Normally conducted concurrently with consolidation, reorganization occurs as necessary to prepare the unit for follow-on operations. Detailed planning provides the battalion a plan for evacuating and recovering casualties, recovering damaged equipment, providing for prisoners of war, and integrating replacement personnel.

    (5)     Transition. The battalion executes follow-on missions as directed by the higher commander. The most likely mission is to continue the attack. Other missions may include supporting a passage of lines for a follow-on force, defending, or participating in an exploitation or pursuit. The battalion develops plans for follow-on missions based on the higher headquarters' plan, the higher commander's intent, and the anticipated situation.


The battalion uses the five basic forms of maneuver during an attack: envelopment, turning movement, infiltration, penetration, and frontal attack. The commander selects a form of maneuver as a foundation upon which to build a COA.


Envelopment seeks to apply strength against weakness. Envelopment avoids the enemy's front—where he is strongest, where his attention is focused, and where his fires are most easily concentrated. The attacker attempts to fix the defender with supporting attacks and fires while he maneuvers the main attack around the enemy's defenses to strike at the flanks, the rear, or both. The battalion's intelligence capabilities enable it to strike from an unexpected direction or against an enemy weakness, forcing the enemy to fight along unprepared, lightly defended, or undefended avenues of approach. The battalion fixes the enemy force with a small force and then attacks with the preponderance of available combat power against the enemy force's flank or rear.

    a.     Envelopments may be conducted against a stationary or moving enemy force. Sometimes the enemy exposes his flank by his own forward movement, unaware of his opponent's location. In a fluid battle involving noncontiguous forces, the combination of air and indirect fires may isolate the enemy on unfavorable terrain and establish conditions for maneuver against an assailable flank or rear. The attacker needs to be agile enough to concentrate his forces and mass his combat power before the enemy can reorient his defense (Figure 4-2).

    b.     When the battalion conducts envelopment, one or more companies make supporting attacks to fix the enemy while other companies of the battalion maneuver against the enemy's flank or rear. The supporting attack must have sufficient combat power to keep the enemy engaged while the enveloping force maneuvers to close with the enemy.

    c.     Variations of the envelopment include the double envelopment and encirclement.

    (1)     Double Envelopment. The attacker seeks to pass at the same time around both flanks of the enemy. This type of envelopment requires two assailable flanks, precise coordination, sufficient combat power, and detailed timing. A battalion normally does not attempt a double envelopment. The potential for fratricide increases significantly with this form of envelopment.

    (2)     Encirclement. Encirclement occurs when the defender has lost all ground routes of evacuation and reinforcement. Battalion fires must be synchronized to complete the destruction of the encircled force. Forces must be positioned to block or interdict the enemy's attempt to break through and link up from the encirclement. Encirclements are likely to be made during an exploitation or pursuit. Battalions participate in encirclements as part of a larger force.

Figure 4-2. Envelopment

Figure 4-2. Envelopment.


In a penetration, the attacker concentrates forces to strike at an enemy weak point and break through the position to rupture the defense and break up its continuity. The attacker then uses the gap created to pass forces through to defeat the enemy through attacks into his flanks and rear. A successful penetration depends on the attacker's ability to suppress enemy weapons systems, to concentrate forces to overwhelm the defender at the point of attack, and to pass sufficient forces through the gap to defeat the enemy quickly. A penetration is normally attempted when enemy flanks are unassailable or when conditions permit neither envelopment nor a turning movement such as an attack against the enemy's main defensive belt (Figure 4-3).

a.     Concentration. The penetration of an enemy position requires a concentration of combat power to permit continued momentum of the attack. The attack should move rapidly to destroy the continuity of the defense since, if it is slowed or delayed, the enemy will be afforded time to react. If the attacker does not make the penetration sharply and secure objectives promptly, the penetration is likely to resemble a frontal attack. This may result in high casualties and permit the enemy to fall back intact, thus avoiding destruction.

    b.     Steps. A penetration is conducted in three steps.

    (1)     Step 1: Penetrating the Main Line of Resistance. A reinforced company can execute the initial penetration. They breach the enemy's obstacles using mineplows, mine clearing line charges (MICLICs), or dismounted infantry squads depending on the extent and composition of the obstacles.

    (2)     Step 2: Widening the Gap to Secure the Flanks. The battalion seizes enemy positions behind the obstacles and widens the shoulders of the penetration to allow assaulting forces room to attack deep objectives.

    (3)     Step 3: Seizing the Objective and Subsequent Exploitation. Exploitation of the penetration is made as companies complete the destruction of the enemy and attack to secure deeper objectives. Objectives for the assaulting force are deep enough to allow an envelopment of the rest of the enemy position and should facilitate attack by fire against second echelon enemy positions and enemy counterattack routes.

    c.     Planning Considerations. To allow a penetration, the terrain must facilitate the maneuver of the penetrating force. The concentration of the battalion is planned to penetrate the defense where the continuity of the enemy's defense has been interrupted, such as gaps in obstacles and minefields or areas not covered by fire. If METT-TC analysis identifies multiple weaknesses in the enemy's position, multiple penetrations should be considered. When essential to the accomplishment of the mission, intermediate objectives should be planned for the attack.

Figure 4-3. Penetration

Figure 4-3. Penetration.


In a turning movement (Figure 4-4), the unit passes around and avoids the enemy's main force, then secures an objective that causes the enemy to move out of its current position or divert forces to meet the threat. The battalion conducts a turning movement as part of a larger unit's operation. This movement allows the unit, SBCT or higher, to fight the repositioning enemy forces on terms and conditions that are favorable. The battalion can also conduct a turning movement with subordinate companies.

Figure 4-4. Turning movement

Figure 4-4. Turning movement.


Infiltration (Figure 4-5) is a form of maneuver in which combat elements conduct undetected movement (mounted or dismounted) through or into an area occupied by enemy forces to occupy a position of advantage in the enemy's rear. The commander uses infiltration to—

    • Attack lightly defended positions or stronger positions from the flank and rear.
    • Secure key terrain in support of the main effort.

    • Disrupt enemy rear operations.
    • Relocate the battalion by moving to battle positions around an engagement area.
    • Reposition to attack vital facilities or enemy forces from the flank or rear.
    • Harass and disrupt the enemy's CSS.

    a.     Planning Considerations. An infiltration should be planned during limited visibility through areas the enemy does not occupy or cover by surveillance and fire. Planning should incorporate infiltration lanes, rally points along the route or axis, and contact points. Single or multiple infiltration lanes can be planned.

    (1)     Single Infiltration Lane. A single infiltration lane—

    • Facilitates navigation, control, and reassembly of the battalion.
    • Is less susceptible to detection.
    • Reduces the area for which detailed intelligence is required.
    • Takes longer to move the force through enemy positions.

    (2)     Multiple Infiltration Lanes. Multiple infiltration lanes—

    • Reduce the possibility of compromising the entire battalion.
    • Facilitate expeditious movement.
    • Are more difficult to control.

Figure 4-5. Infiltration

Figure 4-5. Infiltration.

    b.     Vehicle Laager. The battalion has the ability to laager its vehicles and proceed on foot to areas that place the enemy at a disadvantage. Upon completion of the mission the vehicles can be brought forward and the battalion will be positioned to conduct follow-on operations. The commander avoids alerting the enemy of his intentions by positioning maneuver and artillery units and the effects of fires in support of the infiltration. Infiltration is normally used in conjunction with some other form of maneuver.


The frontal attack is usually the least desirable form of maneuver because it exposes the majority of the offensive force to the concentrated fires of the defenders. The battalion may conduct a frontal attack against a stationary or moving enemy force (Figure 4-6). Unless frontal attacks are executed with overwhelming speed and strength against a weaker enemy, they are seldom decisive. The battalion attacks the enemy across a wide front and along the most direct approaches. It uses a frontal attack to overrun and destroy a weakened enemy force or to fix an enemy force. Frontal attacks are used when commanders possess overwhelming combat power and the enemy is at a clear disadvantage or when fixing the enemy over a wide front is the desired effect and a decisive defeat in that area is not expected. The frontal attack may be appropriate—

    • In an attack or meeting engagement where speed and simplicity are paramount to maintaining battle tempo and, ultimately, the initiative.

    • In a supporting attack to fix an enemy force.

Figure 4-6. Frontal attack against a moving enemy

Figure 4-6. Frontal attack against a moving enemy.


The selection of movement techniques and attack formations for the battalion depends on the factors of METT-TC.

    a.     Movement Techniques. The movement techniques used are traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch. The battalion does not usually move as a unit using one movement technique. However, when moving as a unit along a single avenue, the battalion commander designates the movement technique to be used by the lead unit(s) based on the likelihood of enemy contact. For example, the battalion may be moving to contact in column formation, while the lead company may be in a wedge formation using traveling overwatch. Movement techniques are used when not in contact with the enemy; they end upon enemy contact when the unit begins its actions on contact and the overwatching force begins its suppressive fires (maneuver). The battalion should try to make enemy contact with the smallest possible force. This technique allows the majority of the battalion freedom to maneuver against the enemy force.

    b.     Formations. The battalion may move in any one of these basic formations: column, wedge, vee, echelon, and line. The battalion may use more than one formation in a given movement, especially if the terrain changes during the movement. For example, the battalion commander may elect to use the column formation during a passage of lines and then change to another formation, such as a wedge. Other factors, such as the distance of the move or the enemy dispositions, may also prompt the commander to use more than one formation. Distances between units depend on the factors of METT-TC.

    (1)     Column Formation. The battalion moves in column formation (Figure 4-7) when early contact is not expected and the objective is far away. The battalion's lead element normally uses traveling overwatch while the following units travel. The column formation—

    • Facilitates speed of movement, ease of control, and usefulness in close terrain.
    • Provides for quick transition to other formations.
    • Requires flank security.
    • Provides the majority of firepower to flanks.

Figure 4-7. Battalion in column formation

Figure 4-7. Battalion in column formation.

    (2)     Wedge Formation. The wedge formation (Figure 4-8) postures the battalion for enemy contact on its front and flanks. The force uses the wedge when enemy contact is possible or expected but the location and disposition of the enemy is vague. When not expecting enemy contact, it may use the wedge to cross open terrain rapidly. The wedge formation—


    • Facilitates control and transition to the assault.
    • Provides for maximum firepower forward and good firepower to the flanks.
    • Requires sufficient space to disperse laterally and in depth.


Figure 4-8. Battalion in wedge formation

Figure 4-8. Battalion in wedge formation.

    (3)     Vee Formation. The vee formation (Figure 4-9) postures the battalion with two companies abreast and one trailing. This arrangement is most suitable to advance against an enemy known to be to the front of the battalion. The battalion may use the vee when enemy contact is expected and the location and disposition of the enemy is known. The following planning considerations apply:

    • Formation is hard to orient and control is more difficult in close or wooded terrain.
    • Battalion must rely more on FBCB2 for control.
    • Formation provides for good firepower forward and to the flanks.

Figure 4-9. Battalion in vee formation

Figure 4-9. Battalion in vee formation.

    (4)     Echelon Formation. The echelon formation (Figure 4-10) arranges the battalion with the companies in column formation in the direction of the echelon (right or left). The battalion commonly uses the echelon when providing security to a larger moving force. The echelon formation—

    • Provides for firepower forward and in the direction of echelon.
    • Facilitates control in open areas but makes it more difficult in heavily wooded areas.

Figure 4-10. Battalion in echelon left formation

Figure 4-10. Battalion in echelon left formation.

    (5)     Line Formation. The line formation (Figure 4-11) postures the battalion with companies on-line and abreast of one another. Since it does not dispose companies in depth, the line formation provides less flexibility of maneuver than other formations. The battalion uses the line when it requires continuous movement with maximum firepower to the front in an assault.

Figure 4-11. Battalion in line formation

Figure 4-11. Battalion in line formation.


At the battalion level, the offense takes the form of either a deliberate or a hasty operation, such as a movement to contact, attack, exploitation, and pursuit across the full spectrum of conflict. The battalion may also be given the mission to conduct special purpose attacks such as a raid, demonstration, spoiling attack, or counterattack. Attacks, exploitations, and pursuits may be conducted sequentially or simultaneously throughout the AO.

    • Hasty Operations. The battalion conducts a hasty offensive operation after a successful defense or as part of a defense; as a result of a movement to contact, a meeting engagement, or a chance contact during a movement; or in a situation where the unit has the opportunity to attack vulnerable enemy forces.
    • Deliberate Operations. A deliberate offensive operation is a fully synchronized operation that employs all available assets against the enemy's defense, IAW the ROE, and is characterized by detailed planning based on available information, thorough reconnaissance, preparation, and rehearsals.


The battalion conducts movement to contact when the tactical situation is not clear or when the enemy has broken contact. The SBCT's cavalry squadron (RSTA) and C2 INFOSYS do not negate the need to conduct traditional movements to contact. However, the actual techniques and procedures used during a movement to contact may be modified to fit the capabilities found within the battalion. Battalions conduct movement to contact independently or as part of a larger force.

    a.     Purpose. The purpose of a movement to contact is to gain or reestablish contact with the enemy. The battalion will normally be given a movement to contact mission as the lead element of an SBCT attack or as a counterattack element of an SBCT or division. The battalion conducts movement to contact in a manner that allows it to maneuver to develop the situation fully, to maintain freedom of action, and, if possible, to defeat the enemy once contact is made. This flexibility is essential in maintaining the initiative. The movement to contact terminates with the occupation of an assigned objective or when enemy resistance requires the battalion to deploy and conduct an attack to continue forward movement.

    b.     Information Dominance. The superior intelligence, acquisition, and information dominance capabilities available to the SBCT and the battalion are likely to make movements to contact less common and change the nature of the meeting engagements that normally end a movement to contact. However, depending on the available ISR assets, the effectiveness of the collection plan, and the enemy's success in masking his dispositions, the battalion may still need to conduct a movement to contact. An exploitation or pursuit by the battalion's parent SBCT is likely to require a movement to contact by the battalion, at least initially. A battalion given a movement to contact mission is assigned a zone of action or an axis of advance and an objective at a depth to ensure contact with the enemy.


When executing a movement to contact, the battalion normally organizes into a security force comprised of a reconnaissance and surveillance force, an advance guard, the main body, and flank and rear guards (Figure 4-12).

Figure 4-12. Battalion movement to contact as part of an SBCT

Figure 4-12. Battalion movement to contact as part of an SBCT.

    a.     Reconnaissance and Surveillance Forces. The reconnaissance and surveillance force for the battalion is normally the reconnaissance platoon. Engineers and forward observers (FOs) are attached to the reconnaissance and surveillance force as necessary. Normally, the reconnaissance and surveillance force has initial priority of indirect fires. The mission of the reconnaissance and surveillance force is to determine the size, activity, location, and depth of the enemy force. Other tasks, similar to an area reconnaissance, normally include—

    • Reconnaissance of routes, bridges, and roads.
    • Reconnaissance of obstacles and restrictive terrain.
    • Surveillance of critical areas, danger areas, or key terrain.

    (1)     The reconnaissance and surveillance force must cover the frontage of the battalion axis of advance. It avoids decisive engagement, but once found it must keep the enemy under surveillance and report his activity.

    (2)     The reconnaissance and surveillance force must be far enough ahead of the advance guard to provide adequate warning and sufficient space for it to maneuver. However, the reconnaissance and surveillance force must not be so far ahead that the advance guard cannot rapidly assist it in disengaging from the enemy should that become necessary. The advance guard keys its movement on the movement of the reconnaissance and surveillance force.

    (3)     The reconnaissance and surveillance force must be able to receive the latest information available from the SBCT's reconnaissance troop as well as information available from its ISR analysis platoon and ISR integration platoon of the military intelligence company (MICO) and other battlefield surveillance assets. With this information, the reconnaissance and surveillance force can confirm intelligence provided by these assets and greatly reduce the risks and unknowns normally associated with a movement to contact mission. This information is also available to the battalion elements.

    b.     Advance Guard. The advance guard for a battalion is usually a company. Its composition depends on the factors of METT-TC. In open terrain, it may move mounted; in restricted, close, complex, or urban terrain, dismounted movement with vehicles in the overwatch is a better choice. The engineers follow or are attached to the lead elements. The two lead companies are task-organized accordingly when a battalion moves in parallel columns.

    (1)     The advance guard operates forward of the main body to provide security for the main body and ensure its uninterrupted advance. It protects the main body from surprise attack and develops the situation to protect the deployment of the main body when it is committed to action. The advance guard does this by rapidly developing the situation upon encountering the enemy's lead elements; destroying reconnaissance, ambushes, or delaying enemy forces; and marking bypasses for or reducing obstacles. The advance guard—

    • Maintains current COP of the entire battalion, especially the reconnaissance and surveillance force.
    • Reports enemy contact to the battalion commander.
    • Collects and reports all information about the enemy.
    • Selects tentative fighting positions for following battalion units.
    • Attempts to penetrate enemy security elements and reach or identify the enemy main force.
    • Destroys or repels all enemy reconnaissance forces.
    • Prevents enemy ground forces from engaging the main body with direct fires.
    • Locates, bypasses, or breaches obstacles along the main body's axis of advance.
    • Executes tactical tasks such as fix, contain, or block against enemy forces to develop the situation for the main body.
    • Ensures that all pertinent information is passed to the rest of the battalion via FBCB2 and FM voice.

    (2)     Until the main body is committed, the advance guard is the battalion commander's main effort. Priority of fires shifts to the main body once committed.

    (3)     In planning the movement to contact, each contingency operation should revolve around the actions of the advance guard. The lead elements must be well trained on battle drills, especially those involving obstacle reduction and actions on contact.

    c.     Main Body. The main body keys its movement to the advance guard. It maintains current information of the advance guard's activities via its digital tools, primarily FBCB2. This digital capability allows the main body to key its movement on the advance guard while utilizing terrain and distance for force protection. The main body, remaining attuned to the advance guard's situation, provides responsive support when it is committed.

    (1)     The main body contains the bulk of the battalion's combat elements and is arrayed to achieve all-round security. The combat elements of the main body are prepared to deploy and attack rapidly, giving them the flexibility to maneuver rapidly to a decisive point on the battlefield to destroy the enemy.

    (2)     The use of standard formations and battle drills allows the battalion commander, based on the information available to him through ABCS, to shift combat power rapidly on the battlefield. Companies employ the appropriate movement techniques within the battalion formation. Company commanders, based on their knowledge of the battalion's situation, anticipate the battalion commander's decisions for commitment of the main body and plan accordingly.

    d.     Flank and Rear Security. To provide flank and rear security, platoon-size elements from one or more of the companies in the main body conduct guard missions under company control. These elements remain at a distance from the main body to allow the battalion time and space to maneuver to either flank or the rear. Flank and rear security elements also operate far enough out to prevent the enemy from placing direct or observed indirect fires on the main body. Indirect fires are planned on major flank and or rear approaches to enhance security.


The search and attack technique, mounted or dismounted, is a decentralized movement to contact requiring multiple, coordinated patrols (squad- and platoon-size) to locate the enemy. It is most often used against an enemy operating in dispersed elements. When conducting a search and attack, units can expect to spend more time reconnoitering in an area of operations. A procedure for conducting the search and attack technique is to organize the battalion (in purpose as well as space) in such a manner to enable it to find, fix, and finish the enemy within the AO. The battalion may direct each individual company to conduct find, fix, and finish procedures at their level while providing the appropriate level of support in terms of assets, fires, and effects. In either case, the battalion must designate a main effort and supporting efforts that enable it to maintain the amount of flexibility the situation dictates.

    a.     Purpose. Search and attack can be conducted for many reasons. The commander's concept focuses the battalion on one or more of the following:

    (1)     Destruction of Enemy. Enemy units operating in the area must be killed or rendered combat ineffective.

    (2)     Area Denial. The enemy must be prevented from operating unhindered in any area (for example, in any area he is using for a base camp or for logistics support).

    (3)     Force Protection. The enemy must be prevented from disrupting and destroying friendly military or civilian operations, equipment, and property (such as key facilities, SBCT headquarters, polling places, or dams).

    (4)     Information Collection. The battalion must conduct IPB, if not provided by higher, as soon as it enters an area and before it conducts any of the above activities.

    b.     Tasks. Search and attack operations can be conducted in a company- or battalion-size area of operations. Figure 4-13 shows an example of dispersing to search, and Figure 4-14 shows an example of a unit massing to attack. The unit can be tasked—

    • To locate enemy positions or routes normally traveled by the enemy.
    • To destroy enemy forces within its capability or to fix or block the enemy until reinforcements arrive.
    • To maintain surveillance of a larger enemy force through stealth until reinforcements arrive.
    • To set up ambushes.
    • To search towns or villages (a host nation representative should accompany the search party).
    • To secure military or civilian property or installations.
    • To act as a reserve.
    • To develop the situation in a given area.

Figure 4-13. Example of unit dispersing to search

Figure 4-13. Example of unit dispersing to search.

Figure 4-14. Example of unit massing to attack

Figure 4-14. Example of unit massing to attack.

    c.     Concept Development. The concept for the search and attack is based on thorough IPB. The S2 combines his own predictive and or pattern analysis with information available from the cavalry squadron (RSTA) and the battalion's reconnaissance and surveillance assets to determine likely enemy locations, capabilities, patterns, and actions. The friendly concept can then be developed to capitalize on the battalion's precision fires and maneuver. The commander must consider the following when developing his concept.

    (1)     Finding the Enemy. Much time may be required to determine the pattern of enemy operations. However, the commander can only be effective once the pattern has been identified.

    (a)     The commander may consider using another technique to find the enemy. He can subdivide his area of operations into smaller ones and have the reconnaissance platoon reconnoiter forward of the remainder of the battalion (Figure 4-15). The reconnaissance platoon should be reinforced for this operation. In Figure 4-15, the platoon conducts a zone reconnaissance in AO Green while the remainder of the battalion conducts search and attack operations in AO Blue. At a designated time, the commander directs the battalion to link up with the reconnaissance platoon at contact point 1 to exchange information. If necessary, the reconnaissance platoon guides the battalion to sites of suspected or confirmed enemy activity. The reconnaissance platoon can then move on to reconnoiter AO Red. (This process is repeated for other areas of operations until the commander stops it.) The commander may decide to emplace sensors, when available, along the border from AO Red to AO Blue to identify enemy attempts to evade the battalion. In Figure 4-15, a squad has been tasked to emplace and monitor the sensors.

Figure 4-15. Example search and attack method with reconnaissance platoon forward

Figure 4-15. Example search and attack method with reconnaissance platoon forward.

    (b)     The successive method of reconnaissance just discussed in which the reconnaissance platoon reaches the area of operations before the remainder of the battalion, allows the reconnaissance platoon more opportunities to gain information on enemy activity in the area. It also helps the battalion commander focus his search and attack operation when the battalion moves to the new area. Cache or airdrop most often provides logistical support for the reinforced reconnaissance platoon.

    (2)     Fixing the Enemy. The unit conducts one of the following actions after developing the situation, based on the commander's guidance and on METT-TC factors.

    (a)     Prepare to Block Enemy Escape and Reinforcement Routes. The unit maintains contact and positions its forces to isolate and fix the enemy so another unit can attack. Control measures and communications must be established between closing units to prevent fratricide.

    (b)     Conduct an Attack. The unit conducts an attack when it is consistent with the commander's guidance and if the available friendly forces can generate enough relative combat power.

    (c)     Maintain Surveillance. The unit avoids detection so it can report enemy order of battle and activities. The unit must use stealth to be successful in this effort.

    (d)     Remain Undetected and Follow the Enemy. The unit does this to continue to gather information. It must be careful to avoid an enemy ambush.

    (3)     Finishing the Enemy. Battalions destroy enemy forces during a search and attack by doing the following:

    (a)     Conduct hasty or deliberate operations (attacks) or maneuver to block enemy escape routes while another unit conducts the attack.

    (b)     Conduct reconnaissance and surveillance activities and collect information to develop the situational template while remaining undetected.

    (c)     Employ indirect fire or CAS to destroy the enemy. The battalion may establish an area ambush and use these assets to drive the enemy into the ambush.

    d.     Execution. The commander must do the following to help ensure successful synchronized and decentralized operations:

    (1)     Specify where each unit will operate, establish measures to consolidate units before attacks, and establish fire control measures for each unit. The commander seeks the most likely locations of enemy base camps, supplies, command and control sites, and mortars. He designates the company most likely to make contact as the main effort and prepares to shift the main effort rapidly, if necessary.

    (2)     Concentrate battalion combat power. The commander does this so that once a patrol finds the enemy, the battalion can fix and destroy him rapidly.

    (a)     Each company operating in a dispersed company area of operations can be tasked to destroy the enemy within its capability. The battalion commander can direct each company to retain a reserve, or he can retain a battalion reserve. He tries to arrange for indirect fire weapons that can respond to all companies, as needed. He uses the reserve, priority of fire, and other available assets to weight the main effort.

    (b)     The battalion commander considers means to fix or contain the enemy if the company cannot destroy him. The commander uses the battalion reserve, indirect fires, or CAS to do this.

    (3)     Provide control, but allow for decentralized actions and small-unit initiative.

    (4)     Ensure CS assets support the main effort while remaining responsive to the rest of the battalion. Mortars remain general support (GS) to the battalion. If the mortar platoon cannot support the entire dispersed battalion, the commander may consider splitting the platoon into sections.

    e.     Employment of Support Assets. Synchronization of CS and CSS assets is more difficult to achieve in search-and-attack operations than in most other types of operations. Distances between units, the terrain, and a vague enemy situation contribute to this difficulty. Combat and combat support assets are employed as follows.

    (1)     Antiarmor Assets. The antiarmor element, when available, selects TOW missile positions where it can provide direct fire support. Based on his estimate, the commander can use the MK 19 or the .50-caliber machine gun (in place of the TOW) against light vehicles, for convoy security, or in dismounted operations. However, the antiarmor platoon can also provide mobility and additional firepower for the reserve and, during limited visibility, can augment security forces at key locations, monitoring areas where the enemy is expected to travel at night.

    (2)     Mobile Gun System. The MGS can have great value during search-and-attack operations. It can be used in combat operations to assault, to support by fire the assault of an infantry unit, or to clear fields of fire around key defensive installations. The MGS is useful for finding and fixing the enemy, but in most types of terrain in which the battalion conducts search and attack (complex or urban), it has difficulty finishing the enemy.

    (3)     Artillery. The FSO prepares fire plans for attack contingencies and can request that a COLT team from brigade be attached to the main effort company. Mountainous terrain increases the need for combat aviation, close air, and mortar fire support. (See Appendix H, Aviation Support of Ground Operations.)

    (4)     Mortars. The priority of battalion mortars during the search and attack is normally to the main effort. Mortars usually collocate with another unit for security.

    (5)     Air Defense. The battalion can have Stingers or Avengers attached during a search and attack. In addition to providing security for the CP or moving with the main body, ADA elements can also operate from key terrain overwatching the route. If they do so, they must also have additional security.

    (6)     Engineers. Engineers provide advisers to help identify breach points in enemy defenses and methods. When the battalion has tanks available, engineers conduct route reconnaissance, determine bridge classifications, and find or make bypass routes where necessary. If demolitions or chainsaws are available, engineers can clear landing zones for helicopter support.

    (7)     Aviation. Aviation units (assault and attack) can reconnoiter, guide ground forces to the enemy, provide lift and fire support assets for air movement, direct artillery fires, aid command and control, and protect the flanks. Attack helicopters can reinforce when antiarmor firepower is used to block the enemy. See Appendix I, Air Assault Operations.

    (8)     Close Air Support. TACPs are located well forward to increase the speed and accuracy of CAS. To reduce the danger of fratricide, the battalion must issue aircraft identification panels or other means of identification to its soldiers.

    (9)     Command Posts. The commander positions himself to receive and transmit information during the search and attack. He plans ahead for shifting assets or committing the reserve. After a unit makes contact with the enemy, the commander must reach the critical point rapidly.


The battalion commander determines how to integrate and maximize the employment of additional combat enablers.

    a.     Field Artillery. Priority targets and FASCAM are allocated to the reconnaissance and security force and the advance guard. The SBCT positions field artillery units to provide continuous indirect fires for the moving battalion. Given the SBCT's emphasis on proactive counterfires and the likelihood for operating in close terrain, the battalion must rely on its organic mortars.

    b.     Mortars. The battalion mortars are placed under the operational control of the advance guard to reinforce the company's organic mortars and to provide responsive fires and smoke to support initial actions on contact.

    c.     Air Force. Close air support, if available, interdicts enemy counterattack forces or destroys defensive positions. (See Appendix H, Aviation Support of Ground Operations.)

    d.     Air Defense Artillery. ADA assets generally provide area coverage for the battalion and cover movement through restricted areas. However, some ADA assets may provide direct support for the advance guard. Regardless of the command relationship, ADA elements operate well forward on the battlefield.

    e.     Engineers. Priority of engineer support is to mobility. Elements of the supporting engineer unit join the reconnaissance and security force to reconnoiter obstacles. Engineers travel with the advance guard to assist in mobility of the advance guard and main body. Situational obstacles are planned to support the security forces and the advance guard.

    f.     Combat Service Support. The object of CSS operations is to provide support as close to the point of need as possible. The priority is to move Class V forward and to evacuate casualties. The ICVs allow commanders to cross level between and within companies rapidly. The BSB accomplishes its core functions through centralization of support, which provides the maneuver commander with increased efficiency and effectiveness in the flow of support and supplies. Centralized support also allows the forward support battalion (FSB) commander to weight the battle logistically or surge as required. The combat service support control system (CSSCS) and the near-real-time information provided by FBCB2 enhance centralization of support.

    (1)     In offensive operations, the BSB may push emergency resupply of Classes III and V forward to logistics release points (LRPs) as needed. The battalion commander, XO, and S4 may determine the mission requires additional support of Classes III and V, which can be pushed forward, uploaded, and positioned at the CTCP.

    (2)     Combat repair teams (CRTs) from the BSB are placed forward with each battalion under the operational control of the CTCP. The CRTs coordinate the evacuation of non-repairable equipment (due to time constraints or the lack of a required part) to the unit maintenance collection point (UMCP). UMCPs should locate on main axes or main supply routes. The S4 may request equipment transport vehicles to assist in rear evacuation and to maintain his ability to move forward supporting the battalion.

    (3)     The battalion medical platoon is equipped with three HMMWVs, a medical transport vehicle, and four medical evacuation vehicle (MEV) ambulance platforms to protect, support, and transport medical personnel and casualties to and from the battlefield. It habitually establishes the battalion aid station under the direction of the battalion TOC and CTCP and locates it where it can best support the battalion's operations. Company medical teams are generally attached to each company to provide medical coverage to each rifle platoon. The battalion medical platoon's evacuation squads are normally positioned forward with two of the rifle companies to augment the company medical teams and assist with the evacuation of casualties. The maneuver company's 1SG has operational control of the squad(s). In the offense, the factors of METT-TC determine whether casualties are evacuated by ambulance to a casualty collection point or an ambulance exchange point. Medical personnel from the brigade support battalion dispatch ambulances forward to the AXP to receive and evacuate casualties from the battalion treatment squads.

    (4)     In offensive operations, it may not be possible to maintain the logistical lines of communication between echelons of support. Support elements must remain uploaded and ready to reposition as their battalion moves forward.


Planning movement to contact begins by developing the concept of the operation with the decisive point on the objective. It then works backward to the line of departure, while considering the conduct of the breach and the position of the support, assault, and breach assets.

    a.     Reconnaissance and Surveillance. The first consideration for a movement to contact is reconnaissance and surveillance planning. The SBCT plays a major role based on the assets available and its links to division and higher assets. The battalion is one of several elements executing the SBCT's reconnaissance and surveillance plan.

    (1)     The first priority is to determine anticipated enemy locations, strengths, and actions. Potential enemy mission, intent, objectives, defensive locations, use of key terrain, avenues of approach and routes, engagement areas, and obstacles are among the items that must be identified early and incorporated into the reconnaissance and surveillance plan. Because the SBCT is filling information gaps and establishing conditions for gaining information dominance, this is a period of intense use of information systems. Intelligence information must be gathered, analyzed, fused, and shared on a timely basis with those who can act upon the information. This information, available to the battalion through ASAS, must be distributed throughout the battalion.

    (2)     Various elements within the battalion conduct reconnaissance and surveillance operations.

    (a)     Reconnaissance Platoon. The reconnaissance platoon has the soldiers that are best trained to function as the "eyes and ears" for the battalion and is the element that can be committed the quickest. The battalion reconnaissance element's primary role is to monitor NAIs and TAIs between itself and the SBCT cavalry squadron (RSTA) troops. It is also used to confirm and identify enemy locations, orientations, and dispositions. Before, during, and after the movement to contact, it reports its observations and significant changes in enemy activity.

    (b)     Ground Surveillance Radar. GSR detects moving vehicles and personnel in open terrain at long ranges and provides information on the number, location, disposition, and types of targets. Normally, GSR covers open, high-speed approaches where early detection is critical. It also monitors defiles and detects enemy reconnaissance elements using oblique shots across the battalion's sector along open, flat areas. The integration of GSR allows the reconnaissance platoon to focus on complex, urban, close, and restricted terrain.

    (c)     Remote Sensors. Remote sensors are assets that belong to units outside the battalion, but they are frequently placed in DS of the battalion. These assets must be emplaced and monitored with the information going to the battalion S2 who relays it to higher headquarters.

    (d)     Snipers and Other Individual Weapon Platforms. Each weapon platform, especially during patrolling or manning observation points, is a source of information that needs to be integrated into the overall ISR effort. The sniper squad is trained and well equipped to man OPs in support of the reconnaissance and surveillance effort. (See Appendix C, Sniper Employment.)

    (3)     Relevant and rapid information exchange between the battalion and the SBCT is required. ISR actions result in information dominance and, once established, can convert the movement to contact into an attack.

    b.     Maneuver. The battalion plan for a movement to contact should be flexible and promote subordinate initiative. Developing a simple scheme of maneuver, issuing a clear commander's intent, and developing plans to execute likely maneuver options that may occur during execution contribute to flexibility and subordinate initiative.

    (1)     In developing his concept, the commander anticipates where he is likely to meet the enemy and then determines how he intends to develop the situation that leads to an attack under favorable conditions. The commander focuses on determining the battalion's organization and formation that best retains his freedom of action upon contact and supports his concept against known or anticipated enemy forces.

    (2)     The commander and his staff develop plans for the maneuver options of attack, report and bypass, defense, and retrograde based on the higher commander's intent and the situation. They define the conditions in terms of the enemy and friendly strengths and dispositions that are likely to trigger the execution of each maneuver option. They identify likely locations of engagements based on known or suspected enemy locations. The commander states the bypass criteria for the advance guard. He must recognize the loss of tempo created by fighting every small enemy force encountered with the lead element. The advance guard may attack small enemy forces that it can quickly destroy without losing momentum, but larger or more stubborn enemy forces are best bypassed and destroyed by the main body.

    (3)     Areas of likely contact, known enemy positions, and areas that are potentially dangerous to the battalion (such as potential ambush locations, obstacles, and open areas) require close planning consideration. The staff must carefully plan actions for moving through these danger areas quickly and securely.

    (4)     The scheme of maneuver covers the battalion's actions from LD to occupation of the final objective or limit of advance. The scheme of maneuver specifically addresses—

    • Actions at known or likely enemy locations.
    • Methods for moving through and crossing dangerous areas.
    • The battalion's formation and known locations where the formation will change.
    • Actions and array of forces at the final objective or LOA.
    • Decision points and criteria for execution of maneuver options that may develop during execution.

    (5)     The following are the fundamentals that guide the commander in developing the scheme of maneuver for a movement to contact.

    (a)     Focus all efforts on finding the enemy by developing a strong reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition effort and through the employment of robust security forces.

    (b)     If at all possible, make contact with electronic means first. If that is not possible, then make contact with the smallest force possible, consistent with protecting the force.

    (c)     Make initial contact with small, mobile, self-contained forces to avoid decisive engagement of the main body. This procedure allows the commander maximum flexibility to develop the situation.

    (d)     Task-organize the force and use movement formations that enable the battalion to deploy and attack rapidly in any direction.

    (e)     Maintain the ability to mass fires rapidly in any direction.

    (f)     Keep forces within supporting distances to facilitate a flexible response.

    (g)     Maintain contact, once gained, regardless of the maneuver option adopted.

    (h)     Rely on SOPs and drills to develop the situation and maintain tempo. The swift massing of all available combat power against the enemy once contact is made is key to success.

    (i)     Develop a flexible scheme of maneuver since the location of the engagement with the enemy is not known. Flexibility is achieved by incorporating multiple DPs and triggers into the plan based upon where engagements are likely.

    c.     Fire Support. The following are key considerations for the fire support (FS) plan.

    (1)     Facilitate responsive and decentralized fires by a clear understanding of the essential fire support tasks for each phase of the operation. This understanding is critical to the success of the FS plan. Once the battalion makes contact, it shifts control of all available fires to the observer who is in the best position to control fires against the enemy.

    (2)     Plan targets based on known or suspected enemy locations and danger areas and to support future operations. Refine targets based on the reconnaissance effort as the operation progresses.

    (3)     Maximize the use of priority targets along the axis of advance. Plan triggers to put these targets into effect and cancel them based on the movement of the battalion.

    (4)     Ensure immediately responsive fire support to the lead elements by assigning priority of fires to the advance guard.

    (5)     Position observers effectively and maximize the use of lead maneuver forces to call for fires since they often have the best view of the enemy. Observers must understand the essential fires and effects tasks (EFETs)) for each phase of the operation.

    (6)     Synchronize the movement and positioning of artillery and mortars with the tempo of the battalion and the FS requirements.

    d.     Engineer Support. The following are key considerations for the scheme of engineer operations.

    (1)     Task-organize engineer forces well-forward to support potential breaching operations.

    (2)     Use the advance guard, which is normally the priority for support, to task-organize with additional mobility assets and engineer forces.

    (3)     Ensure the reconnaissance plan integrates the collection of obstacle and terrain intelligence.

    (4)     Maintain the flexibility to mass engineers to breach complex obstacles.

    (5)     Plan obstacle belts, obstacle control measures, and situational obstacles to support flank security. Develop and adjust obstacle locations and triggers for execution based on the battalion's movement and the enemy situation.

    (6)     Develop plans for the handoff of marked obstacles, lanes, and bypasses.

    (7)     Consider the requirement for route maintenance, clearance, and repair.

    e.     Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Support. The following are key considerations for NBC planning. (See Appendix J, Operations in Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Conditions.)

    (1)     Ensure the reconnaissance platoon is prepared for NBC reconnaissance tasks.

    (2)     Disseminate NBC threats, once detected, immediately throughout the SBCT.

    (3)     Integrate and synchronize the use of smoke to support critical actions such as breaching or assaults. Ensure artillery and mortar smoke complement each other.

    (4)     Develop decontamination plans based on the commander's priorities and vulnerability analysis. Disseminate planned and active sites via FBCB2.

    f.     Combat Service Support. The following are key considerations for the CSS plan.

    (1)     Continuously update the CSS plan based on near-real-time status of units. Ensure the CSS plan is responsive and flexible enough to support all maneuver options. Plan support from initiation of the operation to the point of transition.

    (2)     Support the battalion using the brigade support battalion for Class I, Class II, Class V, medical, and maintenance and repair parts support.

    (3)     Weight the risks that extended distances create for security of MSRs and CSS assets based on the potential of undetected or bypassed enemy forces.

    (4)     Use all available assets to develop and maintain an accurate enemy picture behind the lead maneuver elements.

    (5)     Plan and rehearse for enemy contact.

    (6)     Plan and coordinate the locations, displacements, and routes of CSS assets to maintain responsive support.

    (7)     Plan and coordinate for aerial resupply.

    g.     Preparation. During preparation, the battalion continues progress toward establishing information dominance. The primary concerns are that the battalion commander and staff receive the latest information and that plans are updated to reflect the changes. The battalion commander must ensure that his subordinates understand his concept and intent and their individual missions as new information becomes available. He normally uses backbriefs and rehearsals to ensure his intent is understood and all actions are integrated and synchronized. Simple, flexible plans that rely on SOPs and are rehearsed repetitively against various enemy conditions are essential to success.

    h.     Inspections. The commander inspects subordinate unit preparations to ensure they are consistent with his intent and concept of operations. He emphasizes subordinate plans to move through danger areas, conduct actions on contact, and transition into a maneuver option. The commander ensures each subordinate force understands its assigned mission during the movement and its potential maneuver options that may develop during execution.

    i.     Rehearsals. The battalion's leadership rehearses the plan against a wide range of likely enemy COAs that would cause the battalion to execute various maneuver options at different times and locations. The goal is to rehearse the battalion's subordinate commanders on potential situations that may arise during execution and force them to make decisions under the anticipated conditions of the battle. This promotes flexibility and agility while reinforcing the commander's intent. The commander seeks to rehearse the operation from initiation to occupation of the final objective or LOA. Often, due to time constraints, the commander prioritizes the maneuver options and enemy COAs to be rehearsed based on the time available. The rehearsal focuses on locating the enemy, developing the situation, executing a maneuver option, and exploiting success. The rehearsal must consider the potential of encountering stationary or moving enemy forces. Other actions to consider during rehearsals include—

    • Actions to cross known danger areas.
    • The advance guard making contact with a small enemy force.
    • The advance guard making contact with a large force beyond its capabilities to defeat.
    • The advance guard making contact with an obstacle the reconnaissance and surveillance force has not identified and reported.
    • A flank security force making contact with a small force.
    • A flank security force making contact with a large force beyond its capability to defeat.
    • Actions to report and bypass an enemy force (based on the bypass criteria).
    • Transition into a maneuver option.

    j.     Reconnaissance and Surveillance. The SBCT ISR effort is on going during the preparation for the movement to contact. The primary focus of the reconnaissance and surveillance effort is to locate the enemy.

    (1)     Locate the Enemy. The SBCT cavalry squadron (RSTA), supported by higher-level collection assets, seeks to locate the enemy well ahead of the SBCT. This provides the SBCT time to update plans, attack the enemy deep in the SBCT's AO, select favorable terrain and positions for the direct fire engagement, position observers, and deploy prior to contact.

    (a)     When they detect enemy forces, reconnaissance and surveillance assets shift to determine the full extent of the enemy's strength and disposition. Reconnaissance assets gather vital information on the enemy force and attempt to determine the enemy force's vulnerabilities, such as an exposed flank. The SBCT will hand over located enemy positions in the battalion's area to the battalion reconnaissance platoon. If the reconnaissance platoon encounters obstacles, it determines size, location, and composition and seeks bypasses. If it finds a bypass, the reconnaissance elements assist in guiding following units to the bypass. If it cannot find a bypass, the reconnaissance platoon advises the commander on locations for a breach and assists in guiding forces to the breach site.

    (b)     The battalion advance guard maintains contact with the battalion reconnaissance platoon to coordinate combat actions and exchange information. As the battalion reconnaissance platoon locates enemy positions, it hands these locations off to the advance guard. In some cases, elements of the battalion reconnaissance platoon maintain contact with the enemy and guide the advance guard maneuver forces. Regardless of the technique used, these actions should be rehearsed and closely coordinated during execution to prevent fratricide and confusion.

    (2)     Support the Battalion's Movement. Due to the need to maintain a rapid tempo, the battalion reconnaissance platoon emphasizes terrain and obstacle reconnaissance primarily focused along the battalion's axis of advance. The reconnaissance platoon seeks to identify and confirm restricted terrain, trafficability of roads and routes, conditions of bridges, and locations of fording sites. The platoon also reconnoiters potentially dangerous areas such as obstacles, defiles, likely enemy positions, or possible ambush sites. If the battalion reconnaissance platoon cannot clear these areas, the advance guard must assume a more deliberate movement technique.

    (3)     Support Actions upon Contact. Once a reconnaissance and surveillance element locates an enemy force, the battalion continuously observes it. Reconnaissance assets assist friendly forces by guiding them along the best routes to engage the enemy. As contact develops, reconnaissance assets report enemy actions and battle damage assessment.


The battalion moves rapidly to maintain the advantage of a rapid tempo. However, the commander must balance the need for speed with the requirement for security. He bases this decision on the effectiveness of the reconnaissance and surveillance effort, friendly mobility, effects of terrain, and the enemy's capabilities. The information available within battalion and subordinate companies allows close tracking of the movement and location of the battalion units. Location and movement of the security forces are continually monitored through FBCB2 to ensure adequate security for the main body and to ensure the security forces are within supporting range of the main body, mortars, and artillery. The movement of CS and CSS units is controlled by their parent organizations, which adjust their movements to meet support requirements, avoid congestion of routes, and ensure responsiveness.

    a.     Actions at Obstacles. Obstacles pose a significant threat to the battalion's momentum because the battalion's ability to breach obstacles is limited.

    (1)     Once a battalion element detects an obstacle, it immediately distributes its location and description digitally throughout the battalion. The battalion quickly seeks a secure and favorable bypass. If a bypass is available, the unit in contact with the obstacle exploits and marks the bypass; it also digitally distributes the bypass around the obstacle as soon as possible. Enemy forces normally overwatch obstacles. Units should approach all obstacles and restricted terrain with the same diligence with which they approach a known enemy position.

    (2)     When the battalion must breach, it maneuvers to suppress and obscure any enemy forces overwatching the obstacle and then reduces the obstacle to support its movement. Engineer forces from the main body support the breach effort by creating lanes, improving the marking of lanes, and guiding the main body through the obstacle.

    b.     Destruction of Enemy Forces. The battalion destroys enemy forces with a combination of indirect fires and maneuver.

    (1)     Depending on the commander's bypass criteria, the advance guard may fix company- or smaller-size enemy forces identified by the reconnaissance and surveillance force. Once it fixes the enemy, the advance guard leaves a combat force to contain the enemy until the main body can destroy it.

    (2)     The advance guard must provide the location of such a fixed enemy force to the battalion S2, who then distributes the information to all units in the battalion via digital means. Detailed cross-talk between main body and fixing force commanders is critical to coordinate actions and avoid fratricide. The fixing force directs or guides the main body elements to the best location to attack the enemy force. Once the battalion destroys the enemy, all forces quickly move to continue the advance.

    c.     Report and Bypass. When conducting a movement to contact as part of a larger force, the higher commander establishes bypass criteria that allow the battalion to report and bypass enemy forces of a specific size.

    (1)     When an enemy force meets the criteria, the battalion fixes the enemy force and leaves a small force to maintain contact while the remainder of the battalion continues the advance. Once bypassed, the destruction of the enemy force becomes the responsibility of the battalion's higher commander.

    (2)     Bypassed forces present a serious threat to forces that follow the maneuver elements, especially CSS elements. It is imperative that the bypassed enemy forces' locations and strengths be distributed throughout the battalion to enable following units to move around these threats.

    d.     Meeting Engagement. A meeting engagement is a combat action that occurs when the battalion, not completely deployed for battle, collides with and engages a sizable enemy force at an unexpected time and place. The enemy force may be moving or stationary. A meeting engagement results from ineffective reconnaissance and is most probable during a movement to contact. The goal, once in contact, is to maneuver quickly to overcome the enemy before he can react. This requires the commander to keep his force in a posture ready to react immediately to contact and develop the situation. Subordinate companies must quickly react to contact, develop the situation, report, and gain a position of advantage over the enemy to give the battalion time and position to act effectively. The battalion's success depends on its subordinate units' ability to effectively develop the situation. The steps to accomplish this follow.

    (1)     Usually, the reconnaissance and surveillance force makes initial contact. They must quickly determine the size and activity of the enemy force and avoid being fixed or destroyed. If possible, the reconnaissance and surveillance force avoids detection.

    (2)     If the enemy is moving, the reconnaissance and surveillance force determines the direction of movement and the size and composition of the force. The reconnaissance and surveillance force's observers place fires on the lead enemy forces. Speed of decision and execution is critical when the enemy is moving.

    (3)     If the enemy is stationary, the reconnaissance and surveillance force determines whether the enemy is occupying prepared positions and is reinforced by obstacles and minefields. The reconnaissance and surveillance force attempts to identify antitank weapon positions, the enemy's flanks, and gaps in his positions.

    (4)     The advance guard moves quickly to overpower and destroy platoon-size and smaller security forces. Larger forces normally require deployment of the main body. The advance guard protects the main body by fixing enemy forces larger than platoon size, which allows the battalion main body to retain its freedom to maneuver.

    (5)     In developing the situation, the advance guard commander maintains pressure on the enemy by fire and maneuver. He probes and conducts a vigorous reconnaissance of the enemy's flanks to determine the enemy's exact location, composition, and disposition. The advance guard immediately transmits this information to the battalion commander.

    (6)     The battalion commander uses this information to develop a plan of action by selecting a maneuver option from the several actions-on-contact options developed during planning.

    e.     Maneuver Options. It is paramount that the battalion commander has timely intelligence so he can select the appropriate fire and maneuver option. Normally, the commander makes the final decision for execution of a maneuver option based on the progress of the initial engagement of the advance guard. The movement to contact generally ends with the commitment of the main body. The following paragraphs provide a general description of the options that may develop after a movement to contact.

    (1)     Bypass. If rapid forward movement is required, and if the SBCT commander has authorized bypass of enemy forces, the battalion can bypass. If the size and mobility of the bypassed force represents a threat, the battalion must fix or contain the enemy force until released by the SBCT.

    (2)     Hasty Ambush. Ambush is effective against a moving or infiltrating force that is not aware of the presence of the battalion. Instead of immediately engaging the enemy, the advance guard (and possibly the entire battalion) moves into hasty firing positions oriented on an engagement area. This option is enabled by the information available from FBCB2 and the speed and accuracy with which FRAGOs and other instructions can be passed. When most of the enemy is in the engagement area, the battalion uses massed fires and maneuver to attack the enemy.

    (3)     Attack. The battalion commander directs an attack when the battalion has greater combat power than the enemy does or when he assesses that the battalion can reach a decisive outcome. The commander quickly develops a scheme of maneuver and concept of fires for the attack and digitally distributes orders to subordinate companies. The commander employs fires, CAS, and situational obstacles. He controls the movement, deployment, and possible changes in the task organization of the battalion forces.

    (a)     The envelopment is normally the most desirable form of maneuver and is used when there is sufficient maneuver space. Normally, the commander seeks to envelop the enemy force by fixing or blocking the bulk of the enemy force and then attacking a vulnerable flank.

    (b)     A penetration is normally used against a stationary enemy force that does not have an assailable flank such as one in a perimeter defense. After a successful attack, the battalion may continue the movement to contact or execute other missions as directed by the SBCT commander.

    (4)     Defend. The battalion commander directs a defense (Figure 4-16) when the battalion has insufficient combat power to attack or when the enemy's strength forces the battalion to halt and prepare for a more deliberate attack. The battalion maneuvers to the best available defensible terrain—either to the front or rear. The commander may direct the advance guard or another security force to delay an enemy attack to provide time for deployment of the battalion. Companies quickly deploy, establish security, array forces, and develop fire plans. Special emphasis is placed on flank protection and adjacent unit coordination. As the enemy attacks, the commander repositions and maneuvers forces to defeat the enemy through massed fires, situational obstacles, and counterattacks. The commander seeks to defeat an attacking enemy force and create the opportunity for offensive action. In some cases, the battalion may need to retain its position to allow the SBCT commander time to commit additional forces.

Figure 4-16. Concept of the defense

Figure 4-16. Concept of the defense.

    (5)     Retrograde. The battalion commander directs a retrograde (Figure 4-17) when the battalion lacks the combat power to attack or defend, improve a tactical situation, or prevent a worse one from developing. Lead elements of the battalion establish initial defensive positions while nonessential CS and CSS assets reposition to the rear. Indirect fires, obstacles, and smoke are employed to assist forward elements with disengagement and displacement. Battalions in contact avoid becoming decisively engaged.

Figure 4-17. Battalion in retrograde

Figure 4-17. Battalion in retrograde.

4-17.     ATTACKS

Attacks range along a continuum defined at one end by fragmentary orders that direct the rapid execution of battle drills by forces immediately available and at the other end by detailed plans and orders. These attacks rely more on an implicit understanding than on electronic communication with detailed orders and appropriate branches and sequels that make understanding explicit. At one extreme of the continuum, the battalion discovers the general enemy situation through a movement to contact and launches an attack as a continuation of the meeting engagement to exploit a temporary advantage in relative combat power and to preempt enemy actions. At the other extreme of the continuum, the battalion moves into an attack from a reserve position or assembly area with detailed knowledge of the enemy, a task organization designed specifically for the attack, and a fully rehearsed plan. Most attacks fall somewhere between the two ends of the continuum.


An attack at the battalion level is a type of offensive action characterized by close combat, direct fire, and maneuver and is supported by indirect fires. When the battalion commander decides to attack, he must mass the effects of overwhelming combat power against a portion (or portions) of the enemy force with a tempo and intensity that the enemy cannot match. Information dominance enables the battalion commander to move out of contact and choose the places where he wants to attack the enemy, places where the enemy is weak and least prepared for an attack and where the battalion has the greatest opportunity for success. The following paragraphs discuss the tactics for conducting:

    • A force-oriented attack against a stationary enemy force.
    • A force-oriented attack against a moving enemy force.
    • A terrain-oriented attack.

    a.     Objectives. A terrain-oriented objective requires the battalion to seize and retain a designated geographical area. A force-oriented objective requires the battalion to focus its efforts on a designated enemy force. The enemy force may be stationary or moving. All attacks depend on synchronization for success. They require planning, coordination via digital or analog means, and time to prepare.

    b.     Digital Systems and Sensors. By properly leveraging digital systems and sensors, the battalion commander and staff are able to obtain near-real-time knowledge of enemy composition, locations, activity, and probable intentions. The information systems available to the battalion facilitate detailed planning, but the substance of sound planning depends on the abilities of a well-trained commander and staff. With the information available, the battalion commander is better able to war-game and plan his actions against an enemy force from either stationary or moving C2 platforms. While the battalion plans, the enemy will improve his defenses, disengage, or conduct spoiling attacks of his own. Clearly, planning must be accomplished in the shortest time possible and must accommodate the changes driven by what the enemy does.

    c.     Parallel Planning. The battalion commander and his staff translate the assigned mission from the SBCT into specific missions for subordinate companies. The staff immediately forwards these missions, along with the appropriate portions of the SBCT's plans and orders, digitally to subordinate companies to facilitate parallel planning. Commanders at all levels work together to develop the best plans. This requires sharing information freely between the command posts. The goal is not just to reduce the time required to produce and distribute the plans; the real goal is to produce a better plan by including input from adjacent, higher, and lower elements. Additionally, this collaboration promotes buy-in and understanding of the plan, thereby enhancing preparation and execution.


The battalion may attack a stationary enemy force as part of a counterattack, spoiling attack, or as an initial attack against an enemy defense. The battalion may also attack a stationary force as part of an SBCT movement to contact or exploitation.

    a.     Planning. The focus of planning is to develop a fully synchronized plan that masses all available combat power against the enemy.

    b.     Scheme of Maneuver. The battalion directs its main effort against an objective, ideally an enemy weakness, which will cause the collapse of the enemy defense. The battalion seeks to attack the enemy's flanks, rear, or supporting formations. By so doing, the battalion retains the initiative and reduces its own vulnerabilities.

    (1)     The commander seeks to identify a poorly defended avenue of approach, a small unit lacking mutual support within the enemy defense, or a weak flank that he can exploit to gain a tactical advantage. When attacking a well-prepared enemy defense, the commander normally plans to isolate and then destroy small vulnerable portions of the enemy defense in sequence. The commander and staff develop the plan using a reverse planning process from actions on the objective back to the LD or assembly area. They incorporate plans for exploiting success and opportunities that may develop during execution. They emphasize synchronization of mounted and dismounted movement, maneuver, fires, and support throughout the attack.

    (2)     The commander and staff must consider the enemy's strength and obstacles to determine when and where the battalion may need breaching operations. The size of the enemy force overwatching the obstacle drives the type of breach the battalion conducts and whether the battalion can conduct a successful breaching operation. The commander and staff consider the enemy's ability to mass combat power, reposition his forces, or commit his reserve. The battalion then develops a scheme of maneuver to mass sufficient combat power at an enemy weakness. The location selected for breaching and penetration depends largely on a weakness in the enemy's defense, where its covering fires are limited.

    (3)     Because of the combat power associated with a three-company battalion, especially a Stryker battalion, additional task organization of forces from the SBCT may be required for breaching operations. Should the SBCT decide to task-organize the battalion with four companies and engineers, this four-company battalion has sufficient combined arms combat power to attack and breach an obstacle defended by an enemy company.

    (4)     The reverse planning process is an essential tool in building an effective plan to attack a defending enemy. By starting with actions on the objective and working back to the line of departure, the staff can allocate combat power, mobility assets, and indirect fires (suppression and obscuration).

    c.     Fire Support. The following are considerations for the FS plan:

    • Position fire support assets to support the reconnaissance effort.
    • Use deception fires to deceive the enemy as to the location of the main effort.
    • Plan suppressive and obscuration fires at the point of penetration.
    • Plan suppressive and obscuration fires in support of breaching operations.
    • Plan fires in support of the approach to the objective. These fires engage enemy security forces, destroy bypassed enemy forces, and screen friendly movement.
    • Synchronize fires on the objective to suppress, neutralize, and destroy critical enemy forces that can most affect the battalion's closure on the objective.
    • Plan fires beyond the objective to support an attack or defense.
    • Use indirect fires and CAS to delay or neutralize repositioning enemy forces and reserves.
    • Plan locations of critical friendly zones (CFZs) to protect critical actions such as support forces, breaching efforts, and artillery assets.

    d.     Engineer Support. Maintaining the mobility of the battalion in offensive operations is critical. The battalion engineer must plan and allocate mobility resources to the security forces (reconnaissance and surveillance and advance guard) and to the main body. The security force has just enough mobility resources to cover its own movement and to complete the reconnaissance mission. The advance guard needs enough resources to conduct breaching operations, such as opening lanes through obstacles for the main body to pass. If the obstacle is dense or covered by a relatively larger force, the main body deploys to conduct a breaching operation. Engineer task organization is based on supporting battalion in-stride breaching operations with minimal engineer assets under battalion control to transition to a battalion deliberate breach, if needed. The battalion uses situational obstacles to attack an enemy's vulnerability or a specific course of action and can use mobile obstacle detachments to help secure the battalion flanks. The following are considerations for the scheme of engineer operations:

    • Plan for adjustment of the breach location based on the latest obstacle intelligence.
    • Ensure information on obstacles receives immediate battalion-wide dissemination including supporting CS and CSS platforms and units.
    • Ensure digital topographic support system (DTSS) products are available and distributed on point of penetration, planned breach locations, and possible bypasses.
    • Ensure adequate mobility support is task-organized well forward during the approach to the objective to support breaching requirements.
    • Mass engineers to support breaching operations.
    • Support assaulting forces with engineers to breach enemy protective obstacles.
    • Ensure adequate guides, traffic control, and lane improvements to support movement of follow-on forces and CSS traffic.
    • Use situational obstacles for flank security.

    e.     Air Defense Support. In offensive operations, air defense units move to the position from which they can best protect the battalion. The enemy uses helicopters primarily against armored forces. An Avenger or Linebacker element may provide direct support coverage to the battalion. Priorities for protection may include companies, fire support, engineer elements, command and control nodes, and logistics assets. ADA coverage is increased in areas and activities most vulnerable to air attack, such as breaching operations or movements through restricted terrain.

    f.     Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Support. The following are considerations for NBC support:

    (1)     The reconnaissance platoon should be prepared for NBC reconnaissance tasks.

    (2)     Disseminate any detected NBC threats throughout the battalion immediately via FBCB2 and FM voice.

    (3)     Integrate and synchronize the use of smoke to support critical actions such as breaching or assaults. Ensure artillery, mortar, and mechanical smoke are complementary.

    (4)     Develop decontamination plans based on the commander's priorities and vulnerability analysis. Disseminate planned and active decontamination sites via FBCB2.

    g.     Combat Service Support. The following are considerations for the CSS plan:

    (1)     Integrate the movement and positioning of CSS assets with the scheme of maneuver to ensure immediate support of anticipated requirements.

    (2)     Ensure adequate CSS support to the reconnaissance and surveillance effort. The S4 must plan well and integrate timely resupply and evacuation support of forward reconnaissance and surveillance assets into the reconnaissance and surveillance plan. He focuses on medical evacuation, especially air evacuation.

    (3)     Plan immediate support to high-risk operations such as breaching or assaults through the forward positioning of support assets.

    (4)     Plan for reorganization on or near the objective once the battalion secures the objective. Articulate clear priorities of support during reorganization.

    h.     Preparation. The battalion uses available time prior to the attack to conduct extensive reconnaissance, precombat checks and inspections, and rehearsals while concealing attack preparations from the enemy. The commander and staff refine the plan based on continuously updated intelligence. They use digital tools to allow subordinate companies maximum time to prepare. Subordinates conduct parallel planning as well as start their preparation for the attack immediately after the battalion issues a FRAGO. As more intelligence becomes available, the battalion commander revises orders and distributes them via FBCB2, thereby giving subordinates more time to prepare for the attack. Regardless of the time available, the commander must conduct detailed planning and supervision of subordinate preparations.

    i.     Inspections. The commander supervises subordinate troop-leading procedures to ensure planning and preparations are on track and consistent with his intent. The commander may inspect subordinate unit order briefs and rehearsals. He focuses his inspections on the main effort and critical events such as assaults, breaching operations, and passage of lines. Since the commander cannot be everywhere at once, he maximizes the use of other key leaders and technology to assist him. Subordinate orders, provided digitally back to the battalion staff, allow the staff to check to ensure they are consistent with the battalion plans.

    j.     Rehearsals. The battalion usually conducts rehearsals, but the type and technique may vary based on time available. During the combined-arms rehearsal, the battalion S2 portrays a thinking, uncooperative enemy with emphasis on enemy repositioning, employment of fires, and commitment of reserves. The primary focus of the rehearsal is actions on the objective. Each subordinate commander addresses the conduct of his mission as the rehearsal progresses. The rehearsal places special emphasis on timing of actions and the coordinated maneuver of forces. All subordinate commanders must accurately portray how long it takes to complete assigned tasks and how much space is required by their force. Direct and indirect fire plans are covered in great detail, to include the massing, distribution, shifting, lifting, and control of fires. The commander ensures subordinate plans are coordinated and consistent with his intent. The rehearsal also covers the following:

    • Plans to execute follow-on missions or exploit success.
    • Likely times and locations where a reserve is needed.
    • Execution of the FS plan, to include shifting of fires, employment of CAS, adjusting of FSCMs, and positioning of observers.
    • Breaching operations.
    • Passage of lines.
    • Contingency plans for actions against enemy counterattacks, repositioning, commitment of reserves, or use of NBC capabilities.
    • Consolidation and reorganization.
    • Execution of branches or sequels assigned by SBCT.
    • Execution of the CSS plan, to include UMCP, CASEVAC, movement of combat trains, and emergency resupply usage and movement.

    k.     Reconnaissance and Surveillance. Effective and current intelligence is a prerequisite for a successful attack.

    (1)     Before mounting an attack, the commander needs to determine the enemy's strength and disposition. During hasty operations the entire intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination process must rapidly respond to the commander's critical information requirements. The SBCT provides most of the information available to the battalion commander and staff through ASAS. The commander must receive an accurate picture of the enemy's defense so he can decide on a COA and act faster than the enemy can react.

    (2)     When preparing for a deliberate operation, the commander and staff participate in development of the SBCT's reconnaissance and surveillance plan. This is a well-resourced and coordinated reconnaissance effort that provides a detailed picture of the enemy situation prior to execution of the attack. This reconnaissance effort must include redundant information-gathering systems to ensure continuous flow of information to the SBCT and correspondingly from the SBCT to the battalions. The battalion commander uses this intelligence to decide on a COA and make refinements to the plan. The reconnaissance and surveillance effort also provides him with continuous updates during the attack so he can adjust execution of the operation based on the enemy's reactions.

    l. Enemy's Current Array of Forces. The intelligence available to the battalion comes from a continuous stream of information that begins with national assets that funnel down to the SBCT and then to the battalion.

    (1)     The first priority is to confirm information available on the enemy's strength, composition, and disposition. The next priorities are the effects of weather and terrain and how the enemy is likely to fight. The S2 attempts to identify what the enemy will do and what information the battalion needs to confirm the enemy's action. The battalion reconnaissance and surveillance effort focuses on identifying indicators required for confirming the enemy's actual COA. This information is vital for developing and refining plans. Ideally, the battalion does not make final decisions on how to execute the attack until it can identify the current array of enemy forces. Key areas to identify for a defending enemy force include—

    • Composition, disposition, and strength of enemy forces along a flank or at an area selected for penetration.
    • Composition, strength, and disposition of security forces.
    • Location, orientation, type, depth, and composition of obstacles.
    • Locations of secure bypasses around obstacles.
    • Composition, strength, and disposition of defending combat formations within the enemy's main battle area (MBA).
    • Composition, strength, and location of reserves.
    • Location of routes the enemy may use to counterattack or reinforce his defense.
    • Type of enemy fortifications and survivability effort.

    (2)     Reconnaissance forces patrol to collect information. As time permits, reconnaissance and surveillance assets observe the enemy defense from advantageous positions (OPs) to locate gaps, identify weapons systems and fighting positions, view rehearsals and positioning, and determine the enemy's security activities and times of decreased readiness. The S2 must discern any enemy deception efforts such as phony obstacles, dummy emplacements, and deception positions designed to confuse an attacker.

    m.     Enemy Engagement Areas. The battalion commander, supported by the S2, seeks to define the limits of the enemy engagement areas. This includes where the enemy can mass fires, weapon ranges, direct fire integration with obstacles, ability to shift fires, and mutual support between positions. This analysis requires effective terrain analysis, confirmed locations of enemy weapons systems (by system type), and a good understanding of the enemy's tactics. Reconnaissance forces report locations, orientation, and composition of defending weapons systems and obstacles. The analysis of the enemy's direct fire plan assists the commander in determining when the battalion must deploy, how to time and use indirect fires, and how feasible his scheme of maneuver is. The use of long-range indirect fires allows the commander to shape what the enemy can do relative to engagement areas. Key to such actions is the emplacement of obstacles.

    n.     Enemy's Vulnerabilities. The overall ISR effort also seeks to identify enemy vulnerabilities that may include—

    • Gaps in the enemy's defense.
    • Exposed or weak flanks.
    • Enemy units that lack mutual support.
    • Unobserved or weakly defended avenues of approach to the enemy's flank or rear.
    • Covered and concealed routes that allow the battalion to close on the enemy.
    • Weak obstacles or fortifications in an enemy defense, especially along a flank.

    o.     Support on the Approach to the Objective. Reconnaissance elements initially focus on the enemy's security forces forward of his main defense to locate enemy positions and obstacles along the battalion's planned routes of advance. Reconnaissance forces also locate gaps and routes that allow them to infiltrate into the enemy main defensive area or rear area. The reconnaissance and surveillance effort seeks to locate enemy forces that may reposition and affect the battalion's approach to the enemy's main defense. Successful attacks depend on reconnaissance forces to direct indirect fires on targets in the enemy's rear that isolate the enemy front line forces and prevent them from being reinforced. A rapid secure advance to the enemy's main defense depends on the reconnaissance effort to locate enemy security forces and obstacles.

    p.     Execution. The battalion commander positions reconnaissance and surveillance assets to maintain observation of enemy reactions to the battalion's maneuver on the objective. Reconnaissance assets focus on areas that the enemy will likely use to reposition forces, commit reserves, and counterattack. As the engagement on the objective develops, reconnaissance forces report enemy reactions, repositioning, and BDA. Again, reconnaissance elements target and engage with indirect fires enemy repositioning forces, reserves, counterattacking forces, and other high-payoff targets. Early identification of enemy reactions is essential for the battalion to maintain the momentum and initiative during the attack.

    (1)     Approach to the Objective. During the approach, the battalion is prepared to—

    • Bypass or breach obstacles.
    • React to artillery, chemical strikes, air attack, and electronic warfare (EW).
    • Transition to different formations based on the terrain and enemy situation.
    • Employ forces to screen or guard flanks that may become exposed or threatened during the approach.
    • Avoid terrain features that are likely enemy artillery reference points, locations for chemical strikes, or locations for situational obstacles.
    • Destroy or force the withdrawal of opposing enemy security forces.
    • Minimize the effects of enemy deception.

    (a)     When the situation permits, a defending enemy generally establishes a security area around his forces to provide early warning of an attack, deny friendly reconnaissance, and disrupt the friendly force's attack. The strength of the enemy's security area depends on the time available, forces available, and his doctrine or pattern of operations. The battalion must counter the effects of enemy security forces to ensure an unimpeded and concealed approach. Before the attack, reconnaissance forces seek to locate enemy security forces. Once located, the commander has the following options available:

    • Destroy them immediately with indirect fires and CAS (preferred option).
    • Destroy them with indirect fires and CAS during the approach to the objective.
    • Conduct limited objective attacks prior to execution of the main attack.
    • Employ a strong advance guard to destroy or force the withdrawal of enemy security forces during the approach to the objective.

    (b)     The battalion must maintain a steady controlled movement. Speed and dispersion, facilitated by information dominance, are the norm with massing of weapons effects to destroy the enemy's defense. If the formation is too slow or becomes too concentrated, it is vulnerable to massed enemy fires.

    (2)     Actions on the Objective. The battalion commander maneuvers combat forces and employs fires, situational obstacles, and smoke to create favorable conditions for decisive maneuver against the enemy. The commander commits maneuver forces and fires to isolate and then rupture a small vulnerable portion of the enemy's defense to gain a flank or create a penetration. The battalion achieves final destruction of the enemy force through the attack of assaulting forces.

    (3)     Fires. The battalion employs fires to weaken the enemy's position and set the conditions for success prior to closure within direct fire range of the enemy.

    (a)     Initially, preparatory fires focus on the destruction of key enemy forces that can most affect the scheme of maneuver. For example, during an attack to penetrate an enemy defense, the initial focus of preparatory fires is to destroy the enemy positions at the selected point of penetration. Preparatory fires may also—

    • Weaken or neutralize enemy reserves.
    • Emplace artillery-delivered situational obstacles to block enemy reserve routes into the objective.
    • Deceive the enemy as to the battalion's actual intentions.
    • Destroy enemy security forces.
    • Obscure friendly movements and deployment.

    (b)     The synchronization between fires and maneuver is critical. As maneuver forces approach the enemy defense, the commander shifts fires and smoke to suppress and obscure the enemy. Proper timing and adjustment of fires enable a secure closure by the maneuver force on the enemy's positions. The COP provides maneuver force locations and allows their movement to be timed so that they can rapidly close on the enemy's position with minimum exposure to enemy fires. The commander must monitor the success of the preparatory fires to determine whether adequate conditions exist for commitment of the force. Reconnaissance and surveillance elements provide BDA to the commander to assist him in making this decision. The commander may need to adjust the tempo of the battalion's approach to the objective.

    (4)     Fix the Enemy. The battalion can fix the bulk of the enemy forces into given positions or pursue a COA that limits the options available to the enemy.

    (a)     In limiting the options available to the enemy, the objective is to reduce the uncertainty during the battle. The primary goal is to isolate the unit targeted for destruction by preventing the enemy from laterally repositioning or reinforcing it.

    (b)     A company normally fixes the enemy force by attacking an objective(s) that isolates a portion of the enemy's defense. In open terrain, the most common task for the supporting force is to fix the enemy with direct and indirect fire. In more complex terrain, the supporting force may need to seize terrain or destroy key enemy forces in limited objective attacks. Demonstrations and feints may also fix the enemy. The use of fires and CAS is vital in attacking enemy forces and reserves in depth to prevent their commitment against the battalion.

    (c)     Before commitment, forces remain dispersed and outside the enemy's direct fire range, and they avoid exposing themselves to enemy observation. Forces not yet committed use this time to conduct final preparations and make adjustments to their plans. A key action during this time is the update of intelligence on the enemy locations and conditions. The S2 should have an updated intelligence summary available just prior to the battalion crossing the LD. The commander uses assault positions, phase lines, a terrain index reference system (TIRS), or checkpoints to control the positioning of the forces not yet committed. Commanders throughout the battalion continuously assess the situation. Subordinate commanders anticipate decisions by the battalion commander based on the COP. The commander commits subordinate forces when the desired levels of enemy suppression, destruction, and obscuration are achieved. Timely reporting, cross-talk, accurate assessments, and sharing of information by subordinate commanders are paramount to the success of the operation.

    (5)     Decisive Maneuver. The attacker must be agile enough to concentrate his forces and mass his combat power by decisive maneuver before the enemy can reorient his defense.

    (a)     Normally, the destruction of a defending enemy force dictates an assault of the objective. The supporting force shifts direct and indirect fires and repositions as required to support the maneuver of assaulting forces. As the assaulting force is committed, the battalion commander and staff ensure that information is available and current on the following:

    • Locations and type of enemy contact on the objective.
    • Locations of reconnaissance forces.
    • Locations of lanes and obstacles to include lane markings.
    • Recognition signals and guides.
    • Specific routes to use for the approach.
    • Locations and orientation of fires from friendly forces.
    • Additions or modifications of graphic control measures.

    (b)     The previously dispersed assaulting force(s) quickly assembles into combat formations and rapidly maneuvers to destroy the enemy forces and clear assigned objectives. The assaulting force(s) moves along covered and concealed routes to an exposed enemy flank, created penetration, or other position of advantage. Smoke assists with concealing the movement of assaulting forces. The assault includes destruction of defending forces and clearance of trenches and fortifications and may involve a combination of mounted and dismounted movement. The commander's main focus is maintaining the momentum and security of the assaulting force(s). The reconnaissance and surveillance effort continues to report enemy repositioning, BDA, and enemy counteractions to the assault. The battalion limits enemy repositioning and massing against assaulting forces through intense supporting fires and CAS, a rapid assault, and employment of smoke.


The battalion is likely to attack a moving enemy force, especially during a counterattack, spoiling attack, exploitation, or as a result of a movement to contact.

    a.     Planning. The battalion in a force-oriented attack against a moving enemy force normally organizes in the same manner as a movement to contact. Key planning considerations (Figure 4-18) are discussed below.

    (1)     Where to Fight the Enemy. The decision on where to fight the enemy requires that the commander have information dominance over the enemy. The commander bases his decision on a clear understanding of the effects of the terrain, the enemy situation, and what the enemy is expected to do. The commander and his staff select the most advantageous location to fight the engagement and then determine other possible locations where the engagement may occur based on a slower or faster than expected enemy advance or the enemy's use of an unlikely avenue of approach. They identify these areas as objectives or engagement areas (EAs). The commander and staff must develop control measures to help coordinate actions throughout the battalion's AO. The commander, primarily assisted by the S3 and S2, develops DPs for the commitment of the battalion to each location based on relative locations and rates of movement of the battalion and the enemy. The S2 carefully selects NAIs to identify the enemy's rate and direction of movement to support the commander's decision of where to fight the engagement.

Figure 4-18. Planning the attack

Figure 4-18. Planning the attack.

    (2)     Maximizing the Advantages of the Terrain. The commander uses the terrain to maximize the battalion's freedom of maneuver and lethality while limiting the freedom of maneuver available to the enemy. He looks for avenues of approach that allow the battalion to strike the enemy from a flank or the rear. One or two companies block the enemy's advance while the other companies attack into the enemy's flank. In this example, the terrain prevents the enemy from moving away from the main attack while also protecting the battalion's flank from an enemy attack (Figure 4-19).


Figure 4-19. Example of a battalion flank attack

Figure 4-19. Example of a battalion flank attack.

    (a)     Although he develops plans to fight the enemy at the most advantageous location for the battalion, the commander retains enough flexibility to attack the enemy effectively regardless of where the engagement develops. The COP provides subordinate commanders the same picture available to the battalion commander and enables them to anticipate changes to the base plan. The scheme of maneuver includes provisions to fight the enemy at other possible EAs. For simplicity, the commander seeks to keep the scheme of maneuver in each EA as similar as possible.

    (b)     In some situations, such as a movement to contact, the battalion may have constraints in the time or ability to select when and where to fight a moving enemy force. If so, the commander orders the battalion into the attack through the use of a FRAGO based on his current COP and physical view of the battlefield. As the ISR assets push for information, the commander quickly deploys and maneuvers the battalion to develop the situation and defeat the enemy.

    (3)     Fire Support. The following are key considerations for the FS plan.

    (a)     Use fires to affect the enemy's maneuver well forward of the battalion to disrupt the enemy's formations and timetable.

    (b)     Destroy HPTs and security forces.

    (c)     Carefully plan triggers, observer locations, and targets to maintain flexibility and ensure achievement of required effects prior to contact with the enemy.

    (d)     Coordinate and synchronize with SBCT the movement and positioning of artillery to support EFSTs within each EA and to engage HPTs before the enemy enters the selected EA. Coordinate terrain requirements.

    (e)     Retain flexibility to mass fires at the decisive point in any EA where the battle may occur.

    (f)     Plan triggers to put targets into effect and cancel them based on the battalion's movement and the commander's decision of where to fight the enemy.

    (g)     Synchronize the mortar platoon's movement, positioning, and fires with the scheme of maneuver.

    (4)     Engineer Support. The following are key considerations for the scheme of engineer operations.

    (a)     Task-organize engineer forces well forward to support breaching

    (b)     Normal priority of support is to the lead company.

    (c)     Be prepared to bypass or breach enemy situational obstacles.

    (d)     Integrate situational obstacles with fires to affect the movement of the enemy in support of the commander's intent.

    (e)     Plan obstacle belts, obstacle control measures, and situational obstacles to support flank security.

    (f)     Develop and adjust obstacles and triggers for execution based on the battalion's movement and the enemy situation.

    (5)     Air Defense Support. The ADA element supporting the SBCT operates DS to the battalions with the normal priority of protection to the main effort. The ADA assets shift locations on the battlefield as required by the phase of the operation to maintain adequate air defense coverage of critical forces and events. Normally, Linebacker platoons are forward with the Avenger platoon farther back protecting the SBCT CPs and other high-value assets. ADA coverage increases in areas and activities most vulnerable to air attack, such as breaching operations or movements through restricted terrain.

    (6)     Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Support. The NBC assets are employed in a similar manner to their employment in an attack against a stationary force. Obscurants and NBC reconnaissance assets typically support the main effort.

    (7)     Combat Service Support. The following are key considerations for the CSS plan.

    (a)     Continuously update the CSS plan. Ensure the CSS plan is responsive and flexible enough to support all maneuver options. Plan support from initiation of the operation to the final objective or LOA.

    (b)     Integrate refueling and resupply operations with the scheme of maneuver.

    (c)     Weight the risk the extended distances create for security of MSRs and CSS assets based on the potential of undetected or bypassed enemy forces.

    (d)     Use all available assets to develop and maintain an accurate enemy picture behind the lead maneuver elements.

    (e)     Plan and rehearse for enemy contact.

    (f)     Plan and coordinate the locations, displacements, and routes of CSS assets to maintain responsive support.

    (g)     Plan and develop triggers for activating and deactivating collection points and LRPs based on the battalion's scheme of maneuver.

    (h)     Plan CASEVAC, resupply, and equipment recovery to support anticipated engagements within each EA.

    b.     Preparation. Preparation for an attack against a moving enemy force is limited because the opportunity to attack the enemy at the appropriate time and place depends on the enemy's movement. This fact forces the battalion to focus the preparation on executing fires and maneuver actions within each EA. The commander prioritizes each EA to ensure the battalion prepares for the most likely engagements first. The commander must ensure all subordinate companies and supporting forces understand their role in each EA and the decision point for execution of each EA. The leaders of the battalion rehearse actions in each EA against various enemy conditions to promote flexibility and initiative consistent with the commander's intent. Repetitive rehearsals against likely enemy actions are essential for success at all levels.

    c.     Reconnaissance. The reconnaissance and surveillance effort focuses on answering the CCIR to support the commander's decisions on when and where to initiate fires, where to fight the enemy, and how best to maneuver the battalion against the enemy. The S2 develops NAIs to identify enemy actions and decisions that indicate the enemy's selected COA. The following are key intelligence considerations for attacking a moving enemy force.

    (1)     Understand the Effects of the Terrain. The commander must understand the effects of terrain on the battalion and the enemy. This has the greatest impact on deciding where to fight the enemy. The S2 conducts a detailed terrain analysis and specifically identifies—

    • Locations and tactical advantages of key terrain.
    • Avenues of approach and mobility corridors for both enemy and friendly forces.
    • Advantageous locations for the battalion to fight the engagement.
    • Danger areas where friendly or enemy forces may become vulnerable. (Examples include restrictive terrain, choke points, obstacles, terrain that naturally exposes a flank, and areas dominated by key terrain.)
    • Likely rates of movement for both forces.

    (2)     Anticipate the Enemy's Selected COA. The IPB details how the enemy is likely to move and fight. It emphasizes the enemy's likely formation(s) and routes and how he will attempt to fight the ensuing meeting engagement.

    (a)     The analysis illustrates the enemy's expected rate of movement and how the enemy force is likely to be arrayed based on a detailed terrain and time-distance analysis. The enemy normally has three general COAs:

    • Assume a defense either before or after initial contact to retain control of defensible terrain or limit the advantages the battalion may have.
    • Attack to defeat or penetrate the battalion.
    • Attempt to delay or bypass the battalion.

    (b)     The S2 develops enemy COAs based on the enemy's likely objective, capabilities, strength, and known tactics. The S2 determines those enemy actions that may indicate the enemy's selection of a COA and ensures observers are positioned to detect and report these indicators. The S2 must always portray the enemy's flexibility, likely actions, and available maneuver options. The goal is to identify the enemy's most likely COA and have the battalion anticipate and prepare for it.

    (3)     Gain and Maintain Contact. Preferably, the battalion establishes contact with the enemy using digital sensor platforms well before it makes physical contact.

    (a)     The battalion, with support from the SBCT, receives information from battlefield surveillance assets such as radar, UAVs, access to JSTARS, and other sensors used to track the moving enemy force. Intelligence produced from the information gathered by these sensors helps the battalion direct ground reconnaissance assets to advantageous positions to physically observe and report information on the enemy. Once made, the battalion maintains contact.

    (b)     The information gained from the sensors as well as ground reconnaissance elements must be shared with all elements of the battalion as quickly as possible. Information requirements normally include—

    • The enemy's rate and direction of movement.
    • The enemy's formation, strength, and composition to include locations of security forces, main body, reserves, and artillery formations.
    • Enemy actions and decisions that indicate a future enemy action or intention.
    • Location of enemy HPTs.
    • Location, type, and activity of key combat multipliers the battalion commander intends to attack, such as artillery, engineers, air defense, and logistics.
    • Enemy vulnerabilities such as exposed flanks or force concentrations at obstacles.

    (4)     Support the Battalion's Movement. Reconnaissance and surveillance forces move well forward of the battalion. They reconnoiter obstacles and areas that may slow the battalion's movement and disrupt the timing and planned location of the attack. They seek to detect obstacles, contaminated areas, enemy security forces, and suitable routes for the battalion's use.

    (5)     Report Enemy Actions on Contact with the Battalion. As the engagement develops, reconnaissance assets continue to report enemy actions, BDA, and locations. Reconnaissance assets must occupy positions that provide good observation of the engagement area and are survivable throughout the course of the engagement.

    d.     Execution. The following considerations apply to the conduct of the attack.

    (1)     Approach to the Objective. The battalion moves with deliberate speed. By gaining contact with the enemy force quickly through the reconnaissance and surveillance force, the SBCT can use long-range fires and CAS to destroy and disrupt the enemy throughout his formation.

    (a)     The battalion deploys, masses effects, and destroys the remaining enemy before he can adequately react. The commander adjusts the speed of the battalion to ensure that fires have set appropriate conditions and that the battalion arrives at the designated EA at the proper time in relation to the enemy. Effective reporting and analysis of the enemy's rate and direction of movement by reconnaissance and surveillance elements are critical to the timing of the attack.

    (b)     The commander seeks to conceal the movement of the battalion from the enemy to maintain surprise. The battalion, moving dispersed, masks its movement and maximizes its use of routes that provide cover and concealment. Using the COP for positive control of movement formations by all subordinate units is essential to the battalion's ability to mass against the enemy. The battalion employs a robust reconnaissance effort to detect and destroy enemy security forces that may warn the enemy force of friendly actions.

    (2)     Action on the Objective. The battalion creates favorable conditions for decisive action by weakening and disrupting the enemy's formation, destroying his security forces, and fixing the enemy's main body. The battalion achieves final destruction of the enemy through the main body's attack.

    (3)     Disrupt the Enemy's Formation. The battalion employs indirect fires reinforced with situational obstacles to set the conditions for the EA fights, disrupting and weakening the enemy before he gets to the EA. Indirect fires should provide time for the battalion to deploy before contact. Reconnaissance elements normally control these initial fires.

    (4)     Defeat Enemy Security Forces. Normally, the enemy employs security forces to protect his main body. The enemy's ability to seize the initiative often depends on his security forces. The battalion must avoid, destroy, or fight through the enemy's security forces to gain contact with the bulk of the enemy force. The commander employs fires in conjunction with his advance guard to defeat the enemy's security forces so the battalion's main body can decisively attack the bulk of the enemy force. Ideally, the battalion's advance guard attacks the enemy's forward or flank security forces to develop the situation. The commander weights the advance guard with maneuver forces and indirect fires in order to destroy the enemy's security force rapidly and gain contact with the enemy's main body before the enemy can effectively react.

    (5)     Fix the Enemy. The battalion normally fixes the enemy's assault force to create the conditions for the battalion's main body attack. Normally, the battalion's advance guard executes this task once it destroys the opposing enemy security force. Indirect fires against the lead enemy forces allow the advance guard to deploy and gain contact with the enemy main body. The advance guard commander keeps the battalion commander informed of the enemy's strength and actions. It is paramount that the battalion commander receive accurate, timely reports and analysis of the enemy situation. Reconnaissance elements assist the advance guard commander in providing accurate information to the battalion commander. The battalion commander must know the enemy main body's strength, disposition, and reactions. He uses this information to make final adjustments to the main body's attack.

    (6)     Maneuver the Main Body. As the advance guard develops the situation, the commander begins to maneuver the main body to a favorable position for commitment.

    (a)     The commander positions the battalion to attack the enemy formation from an assailable flank where the battalion's total combat power can be massed against an enemy weakness to reach a quick decision. Rapid movement and massed fires characterize this attack. Indirect fires shift to suppress the enemy force that directly opposes the main body's attack. The main body strikes the enemy force with overwhelming strength and speed. As the main body maneuvers against the enemy, the battalion FSO adjusts FSCMs to provide continuous support and ensure force protection.

    (b)     If the commander determines the enemy force is attempting to bypass or avoid contact, he immediately directs indirect fires to delay and disrupt the enemy's movement away from the battalion. The commander maneuvers his forces to quickly destroy or penetrate any enemy forces attempting to fix or delay the battalion and strikes the bulk of the evading enemy force from the flank or rear.

    (c)     An accurate COP is paramount for the rapid commitment of fires and maneuver forces during these decisive maneuvers. All commanders involved must know the location of enemy and friendly forces. Subordinate commanders must anticipate the battalion commander's decisions and have their subordinates ready to execute. They must also anticipate the shifting of indirect fires since the fire support elements can see and understand the battle as it takes place. Proper use of the information available enhances the coordination and integration of all elements.


Terrain-oriented attacks require the battalion to seize and retain control of a designated area to support future operations. The battalion attacks to seize terrain-oriented objectives for many reasons, for example—

    • To seize key terrain or structures such as bridges, airfields, or public services to support follow-on operations.
    • To seize terrain such as chokepoints or routes to block enemy withdrawals, reinforcements, or movements against the SBCT's main effort.
    • To secure an area to allow future operations, such as a lodgment area.

The battalion plans and executes terrain-oriented attacks (Figure 4-20) in the same manner as attacks against enemy forces. The major distinction in a terrain-oriented attack is that the battalion focuses its efforts on the seizure and control of terrain instead of the total destruction of the enemy. The commander plans and directs the attack to gain control of the terrain as quickly as possible and conducts only necessary actions against the enemy. Success of the mission does not normally entail decisive action against all enemy forces within the AO. The battalion attacks only those enemy forces that directly affect the seizure of the objective or that may impact on the future operation. Other key planning considerations that differ from force-oriented attacks include the following.

Figure 4-20. Terrain-oriented attack

Figure 4-20. Terrain-oriented attack.

    a.     Reconnaissance and Surveillance. The reconnaissance and surveillance effort, as in other attacks, capitalizes on all the battlefield surveillance assets available to the SBCT, as well as those that belong to the battalion, to identify the enemy situation on the objective and any sizable enemy forces within the battalion's battlespace. Battalion ground reconnaissance elements occupy advantageous positions to gain observation and report information on the enemy.

    (1)     The commander must consider enemy forces within his battlespace, specifically in areas outside his AO but inside his area of interest (AI), that may react to the battalion's seizure of the objective. Once the battalion locates enemy forces, reconnaissance forces seek to determine the full extent of the enemy's strength and disposition as well as possible bypasses the battalion may exploit.

    (2)     The commander, assisted by the S2, seeks to identify the possible reactions of enemy forces within his battlespace to the battalion's attack. The plan should retain the necessary flexibility to succeed against all likely enemy reactions. As the S2 develops enemy COAs, he must identify those indicators that reveal the enemy's commitment to a future action. He normally considers enemy actions to defend in place, reinforce threatened enemy units, counterattack, delay, or possibly withdraw.

    b.     Degree of Risk. The commander must determine the degree of risk he is willing to accept by leaving or bypassing enemy forces in the battalion's AO. He bases this decision on the higher commander's intent and established bypass criteria, the enemy's capabilities, and the commander's assessment of the situation. The commander must recognize the potential effects that bypassed enemy forces may have on the battalion's CSS operations and future operations. The commander normally employs economy of force missions to contain, destroy, or fix bypassed enemy forces. The risk imposed by these bypassed forces is reduced by accurate and timely reporting of their locations and status by way of FBCB2 throughout the battalion, especially to the elements moving behind the maneuver forces in the battalion's AO. Once the battalion secures the objective, other forces or fires can destroy bypassed enemy forces or force their surrender.

    c.     Seizure of the Objective. Once it seizes the objective, the battalion conducts a defense of the area to prevent the enemy from recapturing it. The commander seeks to position his forces in a manner that best defends the objective while allowing a rapid transition to follow-on operations. Reconnaissance and security forces establish a screen force forward of the secured objective to provide security and early warning to the battalion to prevent a surprise counterattack by the enemy. Engineers provide countermobility and survivability support as required.


Exploitation is not normally conducted below the SBCT level. Exploitation often follows a successful attack to take advantage of a weakened or collapsed enemy. The purpose of exploitation can vary, but it generally focuses on capitalizing on a temporary advantage or preventing the enemy from establishing an organized defense or conducting an orderly withdrawal. To accomplish this, the SBCT (or higher level unit) attacks rapidly over a broad front to prevent the enemy from establishing a defense, organizing an effective rear guard, withdrawing, or regaining balance. The SBCT secures objectives, severs escape routes, and destroys all enemy forces. Failure to exploit success aggressively gives the enemy time to reconstitute an effective defense or regain the initiative by a counterattack.

    a.     The conditions for exploitation develop very quickly. Often the lead battalion in contact identifies the collapse of the enemy's resistance. The SBCT commander must receive accurate assessments and reports of the enemy situation to capitalize on the opportunity for exploitation. Typical indications of the conditions for exploitation include—

    • A significant increase in EPWs.
    • An increase in abandoned enemy equipment and material.
    • The overrunning of enemy artillery, C2 facilities, and logistics sites.
    • A significant decrease in enemy resistance or in organized fires and maneuver.
    • An intermixing of support and combat vehicles in formations and columns.
    • An increase in enemy rearward movement, especially of reserves and FS units.

    b.     Should the battalion conduct exploitation as part of a larger operation, it could have the mission to seize a terrain-oriented objective. In this case, the battalion avoids decisive engagement and moves to the objective as quickly as possible. If assigned a force-oriented objective, the battalion seeks and destroys enemy forces anywhere within its AO. The exploitation ends when the enemy reestablishes its defense, all organized enemy resistance breaks down, or the friendly force culminates logistically or physically.

4-23.     PURSUIT

The battalion does not conduct a pursuit as an independent action. Even at the SBCT level, the risk associated with a pursuit operation generally outweighs the benefits. However, if provided aviation assets or additional ground maneuver units, the SBCT can conduct a pursuit. If so, the battalion can serve as the direct-pressure force or the encircling force.

    a.     A pursuit is ordered when the enemy can no longer maintain a coherent position and tries to escape. Once ordered, an accurate COP between the pressure and encircling forces is critical for the necessary synchronization. Unlike exploitation, the SBCT's mission in a pursuit is the destruction of the enemy rather than avoiding enemy contact.

    b.     The direct-pressure force organizes for a movement to contact and prepares to conduct a series of attacks. Encirclement results when a force is able to sever the enemy's lines of communication and prevent his reinforcement or escape. The encircling force must have greater mobility than the enemy. The encircling force is usually created from uncommitted forces and must be strong enough to protect itself from the enemy's reserves and what is left of the main body. The direct-pressure force must track the movement of and coordinate with the encircling force. Timing is key to success of the mission, and information systems are key to this synchronization. The encircling force should be prepared to conduct a defense until the direct-pressure force succeeds in destroying or forcing the enemy to surrender. The ultimate goal of a pursuit is to fix the enemy between the direct-pressure force and the encircling force and then to destroy the enemy.


The battalion can launch attacks with various purposes to achieve different results. These special purpose attacks include raids, feints, demonstrations, counterattacks, and spoiling attacks.

    a.     Raid. A raid is a deliberate attack that involves the swift, temporary penetration of enemy territory for a specific mission. A raid usually ends with a planned withdrawal. Raids are usually small-scale attacks, requiring detailed intelligence, preparation, and planning.

    (1)     Typical raid missions are—

    • Capture prisoners, installations, or enemy materiel.
    • Destroy enemy materiel or installations.
    • Obtain specific information on an enemy unit such as its location, disposition, strength, or operating scheme.
    • Deceive or harass enemy forces.
    • Liberate captured friendly personnel.

    (2)     The raiding force may vary in size from an infantry platoon to a reinforced company. It may operate within or outside the battalion's supporting range. The raiding force moves to its objective by land, air, or water for a quick, violent attack. Once it completes the raid mission, the raiding force quickly withdraws along a different route. Specific planning considerations include the following:

    (a)     Conduct detailed reconnaissance and maintain constant surveillance of the raid objective to ensure the enemy situation remains unchanged and within the capability of the raiding force. Support from outside the battalion helps to provide the intelligence needed to plan and conduct a raid successfully. The cavalry squadron (RSTA) can also assist in maintaining surveillance of the objective.

    (b)     Position fire support systems to provide immediate responsive fires during the approach, actions on the objective, and withdrawal. Interdiction fires, deception fires, counterfires, and situational obstacles reduce the enemy's ability to react to the raid.

    (c)     Security is vital because the raiding force is vulnerable to attack from all directions.

    (d)     Establish clear abort criteria for the raid. These criteria may include loss of personnel, equipment or support assets, and changes in the enemy situation.

    (e)     Develop contingency plans for contact prior to and after actions on the objective.

    (f)     Plan casualty evacuation and raiding force extraction throughout the entire depth of the operation.

    (g)     Plan rally points for units to assemble to prepare for the attack or to assemble after the mission is complete and the force is ready to withdraw.

    (h)     Logistical considerations include the type and number of vehicles and weapons that the raiding party will have, movement distance, length of time the raiding party will operate in enemy territory, and expected enemy resistance. Aircraft or linkup provides CASEVAC or resupply of the raiding force, if required, during the withdrawal.

    (i)     Withdrawal should be over a different route than that used to approach the objective.

    b.     Feint. A feint is a form of an attack intended to deceive the enemy and draw attention and combat power (if possible) away from the main effort.

    (1)     Feints must be of sufficient strength and composition to cause the desired enemy reaction. Feints must appear real; therefore, some contact with the enemy is necessary. The feint is most effective under the following conditions:

    • When it reinforces the enemy's expectations.
    • When it appears as a definite threat to the enemy.
    • When the enemy has a large reserve that it has consistently committed early.
    • When there are several feasible COAs open to the attacker.

    (2)     The purposes of a feint may include the following:

    • To force the enemy to employ his reserves away from the main effort or remain in position.
    • To attract enemy supporting fires away from the main effort.
    • To force the enemy to reveal defensive fires or weaknesses.
    • To accustom the enemy to shallow attacks in order to gain surprise with another attack.

    (3)     Planning for a feint mission follows the same sequence as any other attack. Special planning considerations include the following:

    • Ensure the feint is resourced to appear as the main effort or as a significant threat to the enemy.
    • Establish clear guidance regarding force preservation.
    • Ensure adequate means of detecting the desired enemy reaction.
    • Designate clear disengagement criteria for the feinting force.
    • Assign attainable objectives.
    • Issue clear follow-on missions to the feinting force.

    c.     Demonstration. A demonstration is a form of an attack used for deception. It is made with the intention of deceiving the enemy; however, contact with enemy forces is not sought. Demonstrations support a division or corps plan; battalions do not conduct demonstrations alone. Demonstrations must be clearly visible to the enemy without being transparently deceptive in nature. Demonstration forces use fires, movement of maneuver forces, smoke, EW assets, and communication equipment to support the deception plan. Planning considerations include the following:

    • Establish a LOA for demonstration forces that allows the enemy to see the demonstration but not to engage it effectively with direct fires.
    • Establish other security measures necessary to prevent engagement by the enemy.
    • Employ demonstrations to reinforce the enemy's expectations and contribute to the main effort.
    • Develop contingency plans for enemy contact and to avoid becoming decisively engaged.
    • Issue clear follow-on missions to the demonstration force.
    • Establish the means to determine the effectiveness of the demonstration and assess its effect on the enemy.

    d.     Counterattack. A counterattack is an attack launched from the defense aimed to defeat an attacking enemy force or regain key terrain and ultimately regain the initiative. The counterattack is often the deciding action in the defense and becomes the main effort upon commitment. The battalion is best suited for this role in restricted terrain. In unrestricted terrain the battalion is vulnerable to antiarmor and indirect fires and does not possess the shock effect of a mechanized infantry or armor battalion. The commander may plan counterattacks as part of the battalion's defensive plan, or the battalion may be the counterattack force for the SBCT or division.

    e.     Spoiling Attack. A spoiling attack is an attack launched from the defense to disrupt the enemy's attack preparations. Spoiling attacks focus on the enemy's critical systems and forces that have the greatest impact on the enemy's ability to mount an attack. Lucrative targets include C2 systems, intelligence assets, FS, and logistics. Spoiling attacks may be conducted as often as needed to deny adequate attack preparation to the enemy. Normally, the battalion conducts a spoiling attack as part of the higher headquarters operation. Spoiling attacks are planned and executed in the same manner as an attack.


The SBCT's unique ISR and the SBCT's ability to access information available at echelons above division may alter the manner in which the battalion actually plans, prepares for, and executes an attack. This may result in some unique planning considerations (Figure 4-21).

Figure 4-21. Planning considerations

Figure 4-21. Planning considerations.


The battalion generally avoids linear actions, stable fronts, and extended pauses between operations. The battalion overloads the enemy by presenting an overwhelming number of actions from multiple directions throughout the depth, width, and height of the battlespace. The battalion has the flexibility to attack through varying types of terrain and thus to prevent the enemy from predicting the direction of attack and orienting on the avenue of approach. By massing the effects of long- and short-range area and precision fires with rapid combined-arms movement, the battalion can decisively defeat the enemy. Improved navigation, target acquisition, and the information-sharing capabilities of the battalion enhance understanding and synchronization throughout offensive operations in near real time. This ability allows commanders in the battalion to share common perceptions of the battlefield. During offensive operations the battalion must consider-

    • Unprecedented levels of information available to the commander and staff and the ability to receive and disseminate this information to subordinate elements.

    • Expanded AOs capable of operating within noncontiguous areas with respect to other SBCT battalions' AOs that can reach sizes of approximately 100 to 225 square kilometers.
    • Resupply traveling on extended lines of communications.
    • Limited artillery forces focused on a proactive counterbattery fight.


The commander task organizes forces within the battalion after he chooses a scheme of maneuver. The task organization allocates sufficient combat power to allow subordinate companies to accomplish their assigned purposes. The structure of the battalion and its C2 INFOSYS reduce the number of unknowns and allow the task organization to be tailored to meet the specific threat.

    a.     The Reconnaissance Platoon. The reconnaissance platoon primarily executes reconnaissance and surveillance for the battalion. In instances where the enemy situation remains vague, additional forces are allocated to assist in the reconnaissance effort. Where the enemy mounts an effective security zone that denies the reconnaissance platoon the ability to provide the information that the commander needs to make decisions during execution, he may direct an infantry rifle company to conduct a movement to contact or limited attacks through the enemy security zone. From the battalion commander's perspective, these operations constitute a reconnaissance-in-force and feed sufficient information to build the level of situational understanding needed to facilitate his decision-making and decisive combat action.

    b.     Security Force. Across the full spectrum of conflict, the battalion commander carefully considers security force requirements. Forces must be allocated to protect critical assets within the battalion AO against conventional and unconventional attacks. Force organization reduces the amount of dedicated security through a COP and mutual support. Additionally, the reconnaissance platoon and other ISR assets will provide passive security through the conduct of their operations.

    c.     Flexibility. The battalion can conduct both linear and nonlinear operations within contiguous or noncontiguous areas of operation. The speed of the mounted subordinate units within the battalion allows the battalion to conduct nonlinear operations while maintaining the ability to provide mutual support. This flexibility allows the battalion to conduct company-level operations against multiple objectives within the battalion's AO.

    d.     Reserve. The commander has greater latitude in the designation and composition of his reserve. Reserves should be designated at appropriate levels to address unforeseen events. The amount of combat power allocated to the reserve depends primarily on the level of uncertainty about the enemy. The increased ability of the battalion to gain a better degree of understanding about the enemy should allow the commander to tailor the reserve to meet the specific threats and opportunities. At times the situation may dictate that the battalion retain a small, but tailored, force as the reserve because there is little likelihood of catastrophic failure or because all of the infantry rifle companies are conducting significant operations simultaneously. At other times, the commander may determine that his degree of understanding allows him to tailor subordinate forces to a level that will ensure their success and therefore he does not designate a reserve.


Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance is a broad category of assets designed to support planning, decision-making, and targeting. The ISR effort is a combined-arms maneuver operation that employs the reconnaissance platoon and other ISR assets to observe, by visual or other detection methods, NAIs and TAIs in order to collect data, information, or combat information. Surveillance involves the systematic observation of a particular NAI by visual, electronic, photographic, or other means. Target acquisition by specialized and non-specialized ISR assets provides detection, identification, and location of targets in sufficient detail to permit the effective employment of fires and effects. Intelligence encompasses the products shared on the COP and in databases, as well as the processes used to collect, process, and analyze data and relevant information.

    a.     Single Operation. The increased capabilities of the SBCT in intelligence acquisition and rapid precision fires and effects dictate that ISR assets be tightly integrated into a single operation to facilitate mission accomplishment.

    b.     Integration. The S2 integrates IPB and other MDMP products into the analysis of information coming into the main CP from the reconnaissance platoon, the cavalry squadron (RSTA), other ISR assets, and echelon-above-division assets. The S2 attempts to answer the PIR, recommends refined PIR for the commander to consider, confirms probable enemy COAs and intentions, and explains enemy actions in relationship to the current friendly operation. The product of this process is available on a shared database facilitating the ability of the battalion commander and his subordinate commanders to make timely and effective decisions regardless of their location on the battlefield. Ultimately, reconnaissance and surveillance operations set the conditions for the success of the unit in the close fight.

    c.     Execution. The battalion conducts reconnaissance and surveillance using organic and supporting reconnaissance and surveillance and technical assets. The data, information, and combat information collected from these assets, when combined with intelligence provided by the higher headquarters or echelons above division assets, help the commander visualize a nearly complete picture of the enemy and environment within the battalion's battlespace. Specifically, the battalion employs an appropriate amount of its reconnaissance and surveillance assets throughout its AO in order to identify favorable terrain and determine the enemy's composition, disposition, activities, strengths, and possible vulnerabilities.

    d.     C2 INFOSYS. The C2 INFOSYS allow information to be passed from the cavalry squadron (RSTA) and other ISR assets to decision-makers and targeting cells in a timely manner. The reconnaissance and surveillance order (and collection plan) is published early in the MDMP process (not later than WARNO 2) with sufficient enemy detail and operational coordination to focus the battalion's reconnaissance and surveillance effort. This information allows the infantry battalion to—

    • Seize and maintain the initiative.
    • Develop and disseminate effective maneuver and fires and effects plans prior to contact.
    • Detect, identify, and destroy high payoff targets early.
    • Allow follow-on forces to maneuver rapidly, and without obstruction, to the objective.
    • Keep uncommitted forces available as long as possible in preparation for action at decision points.
    • Recognize and exploit fleeting opportunities presented by discovered enemy weaknesses.
    • Share an enhanced COP at all levels.
    • Reduce the risk of surprise by enemy operations.

Refer to Chapter 3 for a detailed discussion of ISR operations.


The battalion directs its decisive operation (or main effort) against an objective, ideally an enemy weakness, to cause the collapse of the enemy. By doing so, the battalion sustains the initiative and reduces its own vulnerabilities. The battalion commander seeks to identify an assailable flank, poorly defended avenue of approach, or a smaller unit lacking mutual support that he can exploit to gain a tactical advantage. When attacking a well-prepared enemy defense, the commander normally plans to isolate and then destroy vulnerable portions of the enemy defense throughout the depth of the zone of attack.

    a.     Reverse Planning Process. The commander and staff develop the plan using a reverse planning process from actions on the objective to the assembly area. They incorporate plans for exploiting success and unforeseen opportunities that may develop during execution. Emphasis is placed on synchronizing maneuver, fires and effects, and support throughout the reconnaissance and surveillance effort and the attack. Reconnaissance and surveillance facilitates maneuver, allowing combat forces to move on specific routes to objectives without significant enemy contact. The composition, disposition, and strength of the enemy force drives the type of attack the battalion conducts (see paragraph 4-3).

    b.     Enemy Capabilities. The staff considers the enemy's ability to mass combat power, reposition his forces, or commit his reserve. The battalion develops a scheme of maneuver to mass sufficient combat power to defeat the enemy. The reverse planning process is an essential tool in building an effective plan to attack an enemy. By starting with actions on the objective and working back to the assembly area, the staff can allocate combat power, mobility assets, and fires and effects (suppression and smoke).

4-29.     FIRE SUPPORT

Fire support planning is the process of analyzing, allocating, and scheduling fire support. The goal of fire support planning is to integrate fire support into battle plans to optimize combat power. Fire support planning is performed concurrently with the MDMP. Effective fire support planning places the right elements of the fire support system in the right place at the right time in accordance with the commander's intent. The following basic principles of fire support planning apply:

    • Plan early and continuously.
    • Follow the commander's targeting guidance.
    • Exploit all available targeting assets.
    • Consider the use of all available fire support means.
    • Use the lowest echelon capable of furnishing effective support.
    • Use the most effective fire support means.
    • Furnish the type of fire support requested.
    • Avoid unnecessary duplication.
    • Consider airspace coordination.
    • Provide adequate fire support.
    • Provide rapid and effective coordination.
    • Remain flexible.
    • Provide for the safeguarding and survivability of friendly forces and installations.

    b.     Effectiveness. The effectiveness of fire support planning and the fire support system depends on the successful performance of the four basic tasks: support forces in contact, support the concept of operations, synchronize fire support, and sustain fire support.

    (1)     Support Forces in Contact. Supporting forces in contact includes the allocation of weapons systems and sorties to subordinate elements that actually engage the enemy. Supporting forces in contact usually means providing responsive fire support that protects and ensures freedom of maneuver to forces in contact with the enemy.

    (2)     Support the Concept of Operations. Supporting the concept of operations means providing fire support for any possible contingency. Fire support assets must be identified and marshaled for execution at the right time and place. The SBCT commander must allocate enough firepower to the battalion commander so that he can influence the battle as necessary.

    (3)     Synchronize Fire Support. Fire support is synchronized through fire support coordination, beginning with the SBCT commander's estimate and concept of the operation. The battalion FSO assists the commander in integrating all fire support, including the battalion mortars, with the appropriate battlefield systems. These systems include intelligence, maneuver, fire support, mobility and survivability, air defense, combat service support, and battle command (an expansion of command and control made possible by changes in the scope, intensity, and tempo of current and future operations).

    (4)     Sustain Fire Support. Combat sustainment includes all the CSS activities necessary to support battles, engagements, and related actions. A battalion can realize the full combat potential of its forces and achieve synchronization in its operations only when combat sustainment is planned, coordinated, and executed efficiently. Planners must formulate tactical plans to reflect logistics limitations and exploit logistics capabilities.

    c.     Urban Terrain. The nature of restricted and urban terrain presents some special considerations. The ability to direct and observe fires and effects within isolated compartments of restricted and urban terrain is required down to the platoon. Minimum engagement ranges are as important as maximum ranges.

    d.     Planning Considerations. Considerations for the fire support plan include:

    • Movement of the fire support assets to enable destruction and or engagement of HPTs.
    • Movement of the fire support assets to support the reconnaissance and surveillance effort.
    • Location and employment of COLTs to facilitate precision fires.
    • Using deception fires to confuse the enemy as to the location of the decisive operation (or main effort).
    • Planning suppressive and obscuring fires at the point of penetration.
    • Planning suppressive and obscuring fires in support of breaching operations.

    • Planning fires in support of the approach to the objective. These fires engage enemy security forces, destroy bypassed enemy forces, and screen friendly movement.
    • Synchronizing fires on the objective to suppress, neutralize, or destroy enemy forces that most affect the battalion's movement to the objective.
    • Planning targets to attack repositioning enemy forces and the movement of enemy reserves.

    • Planning fires beyond the objective to support an attack or defense.
    • Using fires or CAS to delay or neutralize enemy reserves.
    • Planning locations of critical friendly fire zones to protect critical assets such as support forces, breaching efforts, and artillery assets.
    • Planning for desired effects on civilian populations


The battalion spends minimum time after concluding an engagement or actions on the objective to consolidate and reorganize before continuing the attack. If consolidation and reorganization are required, the commander selects the best time and location to facilitate future operations and provide force protection. The battalion must maintain a high degree of security when performing consolidation and reorganization activities.


Consolidation is the process of organizing and strengthening a newly captured position. The battalion may need to consolidate to reorganize, avoid culmination, prepare for an enemy counterattack, or allow time for movement of adjacent units. The battalion makes consolidation plans for every mission, updates them during the attack, and passes them to units digitally as the attack is completed. Actions during consolidation include—

    • Reestablishing communications (if required).
    • Eliminating pockets of enemy resistance.
    • Establishing security consistent with the threat.
    • Establishing contact (electronic, physical, or both) with adjacent friendly units.
    • Preparing defensive positions.
    • Clearing obstacles or improving lanes to support friendly movement and reorganization activities.
    • Planning and preparing for future operations.
    • Destroying captured enemy equipment and processing EPWs.
    • Maintaining contact with the enemy and conducting reconnaissance.
    • Cross-leveling and conducting emergency resupply.

The battalion maintains contact with the enemy by redirecting the reconnaissance platoon, directing small-unit patrols, pulling the latest intelligence from the SBCT ISR analysis platoon and ISR integration platoon of the MICO and S2, and possibly conducting limited objective attacks.


Reorganization planning begins before and continues during the attack as losses occur. Companies must feed reports to the battalion as losses occur so that the information entered into the CSS system allows movement of needed resupply forward so that it arrives as the battalion begins reorganization. The battalion immediately takes all measures required to maintain its combat effectiveness or return it to a specified level of combat capability. If extensive reorganization is required, the battalion conducts it during consolidation. Reorganization tasks include—

    • Establishing, if required, new tactical internet, unit task organization (UTO), and digital connectivity.
    • Establishing and maintaining security.
    • Reestablishing the battalion chain of command, key staff positions, and C2 facilities lost before or during the battle.
    • Treating and evacuating casualties.
    • Recovering and repairing damaged equipment as necessary.
    • Redistributing ammunition, supplies, and equipment as necessary.
    • Conducting resupply and refueling operations.
    • Repositioning C2 facilities, communications assets, and logistics for future operations.
    • Reorganizing companies and platoons if losses have occurred.


For all missions assigned, the battalion should plan for exploiting success. However, at the conclusion of an engagement, the commander may be forced to defend. The commander considers the higher commander's concept of operations, friendly capabilities, and the enemy situation when making the decision to defend or continue offensive operations.

4-33.     DEFEND

The battalion conducts a defense when directed by higher headquarters or to repel an enemy counterattack, avoid culmination, or complete reorganization activities. The battalion occupies the most defensible terrain, which may require the battalion to attack to seize defensible terrain. Normally, the battalion pushes its reconnaissance platoon out to establish a security area to provide reaction time and early warning of enemy actions. Subordinate companies occupy designated AOs, quickly array forces, and develop fire plans. Normally, the commander seeks to array companies to achieve an adequate level of defense and facilitate future operations. Engineers provide survivability support and emplace obstacles as required to support the defense.


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