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As the Army enters the 21st century and transforms to meet the ever- changing enemy, the antiarmor company and platoon must assume a greater role in the conduct of warfare on the modern battlefield. The antiarmor company (or platoon) contributes to success in the defense by employing long-range direct fires to destroy enemy armor and infantry forces with the TOW, M2 and MK19 fire. The antiarmor unit's mobility, heavy weaponry, and thermal observation devices define it as a key part of a larger unit's defense. The antiarmor unit can perform several missions in the defense. These missions include defend from a battle position(s) in the main battle area (MBA), participate in security operations, or serve as the reserve. The defense is a time management challenge for any unit and is continuously improved until the unit is attacked or receives a change of mission. The effectiveness of the defense depends on the efficiency of time management during planning, ISR operations, occupation, and preparation. This chapter describes the tactics and techniques used by antiarmor units in the defense and related security operations.


Military forces conduct defensive operations only until they gain sufficient strength to attack. Though the outcome of decisive combat derives from offensive actions, commanders often find that it is necessary, even advisable, to defend. Once they make this choice, they must set the conditions for the defense in a way that allows friendly forces to withstand and hold the enemy while they prepare to seize the initiative and return to the offense. A thorough understanding of the commander's intent is especially critical in defensive operations, which demand precise integration of combat, combat support, and combat service support elements.


The immediate purposes of all defensive operations are to defeat an enemy attack and gain the initiative for offensive operations. The antiarmor company (or platoon) may also conduct the defense to achieve one or more of the following purposes:

  • Gain time.
  • Retain key terrain.
  • Support other operations.
  • Preoccupy the enemy in one area while friendly forces attack him in another.
  • Erode enemy forces at a rapid rate while reinforcing friendly operations.


The characteristics of the defense—preparation, security, disruption, mass, concentration, and flexibility—are planning fundamentals for the antiarmor company (or platoon). There are two types of defensive operations: area and mobile. Traditionally, the light infantry applies the area defense pattern. Light infantry rarely applies a mobile defense pattern because it is less mobile than the enemy and lacks the ability to significantly maximize the combat power available in a single credible force. Airborne and air assault battalions and SBCTs, with the enhanced mobility of the antiarmor company, have the capability to apply area or mobile defenses. All (or a portion) of the antiarmor company can be employed as the striking force within a mobile defense. The characteristics of the defense should be considered when planning or conducting company defensive operations. (See Chapters 9 and 10 in FM 3-90 for further discussion on mobile and area defenses.) These considerations, as they apply to the antiarmor company (or platoon), are as follows:

a.   Preparation. The defender arrives in the battle area before the attacker. He must take advantage of this by making the most thorough preparations for combat that time allows. By analyzing the factors of METT-TC, the defender gains an understanding of the tactical situation and identifies potential friendly and enemy weaknesses. He then war-games friendly and enemy options and synchronizes his concept of the operation with all available combat multipliers.

b.   Security. The goals of the antiarmor company (or platoon) security effort normally include providing early warning, destroying enemy reconnaissance units, and impeding and harassing enemy main body elements. The company (or platoon) continues its mission until directed to displace.

(1)   Since the enemy (attacker) decides the time and place of the attack, the defender uses security measures to provide early warning. ISR and security operations must begin immediately upon transitioning to the defense and continue throughout the operation.

(2)   Security forces protect friendly forces and allow them to continue their preparations. The defender may also use security forces in his deception effort to give the illusion of strength in one area while positioning his true combat power in another. While conducting this type of security operation, the antiarmor company (or platoon) may simultaneously need to prepare deception and real battle positions, creating a challenging time management problem for all of the leaders.

c.   Disruption. Defensive plans vary with the circumstances, but all defensive concepts of operation aim at disrupting the attacker's synchronization. Counterattacks, indirect fires, obstacles, and retention of key or decisive terrain prevent the enemy from concentrating his strength against portions of the defense. Destroying enemy command and control vehicles disrupts enemy synchronization and flexibility.

d.   Mass and Concentration. The defender must concentrate combat power at the decisive time and place if he is to succeed. He must obtain a local advantage at points of decision. Offensive action and the use of surprise and deception are often the means of gaining this advantage. The defender must remember that this concentration refers to combat power and its effects—not just numbers of soldiers and weapons systems. To concentrate combat power, the defender normally must economize in some areas, retain a reserve, and maneuver to gain local superiority. Local counterattacks may be needed to maintain the integrity of the defense. Indirect fire can be shifted to critical points to concentrate destructive effects rapidly.

e.   Flexibility. Flexibility is derived from sound preparation and effective command and control. The defender must be agile enough to counter or avoid the attacker's blow and then strike back effectively. Flexibility results from a detailed mission analysis, an understanding of the unit's purpose, aggressive reconnaissance and security, and, when applicable, organization in depth and retention or reconstitution of a reserve. Supplementary positions on secondary avenues of approach may provide additional flexibility to the unit. After a good analysis of the terrain and enemy, reserves can be positioned to allow the unit to react to unanticipated events.


As part of a larger element, the antiarmor company (or platoon), when augmented with additional combat support and combat service support elements, conducts defensive operations in a sequence of integrated and overlapping steps. The following paragraphs focus on the tactical considerations and procedures involved in each step. This discussion illustrates an attacking enemy that uses depth in its operations, but there will be situations where a company must defend against an enemy that does not have a doctrinal operational foundation. This requires a more flexible plan that allows for more centralized combat power rather than spreading it throughout the company's area of operations.


Security forces must protect friendly forces in the MBA and allow them to continue their defensive preparations. The enemy will attempt to discover the defensive scheme of maneuver using reconnaissance elements or attacks by forward detachments and advance guard elements. He will also attempt to breach the higher unit's tactical obstacles.

a.   The goals of the security force normally include providing early warning, destroying enemy reconnaissance units, and impeding and harassing enemy main body elements. The security force continues its mission until directed to displace. The higher commander may also use security forces in his deception effort to give the illusion of strength in one area while positioning his true combat power in another. While conducting this type of security operation, the antiarmor company (or platoon) may also prepare battle positions, creating a challenging time management problem.

b.   During this step, the antiarmor company (or platoon) may need to provide guides to a passing force and may be tasked to close passage lanes. The unit may also play a role in shaping the battlefield. The battalion or brigade (or SBCT) commander may position the unit to deny likely enemy attack corridors, enhancing flexibility and forcing enemy elements into friendly engagement areas. When it is not conducting security or preparation tasks, the company (or platoon) may occupy hide positions to avoid possible enemy artillery preparation. The unit's efforts must reinforce and complement the higher unit's ISR and security plans.


During this step, the company reconnoiters and occupies its positions. This usually includes movement from tactical assembly areas to the actual defensive sector, led by a quartering party that clears the defensive positions. The higher units establish security forces during this step, and remaining forces begin to develop engagement areas and prepare battle positions. Security is critical during the occupation to ensure the unit can avoid detection and maintain combat power for the actual defense. Soldiers at all levels must thoroughly understand their duties and responsibilities related to the occupation; they must be able to execute the occupation quickly and efficiently to maximize the time available for planning and preparation of the defense. (See Appendix D, Firing Positions.)


As this step begins, the brigade (or SBCT) engages the enemy at long ranges using indirect fires, electronic warfare, and close air support (CAS) (deep fight). The goal is to use these assets, along with disrupting obstacles, to shape the battlefield and to slow the enemy's advance and disrupt his formations. As the enemy's main body echelon approaches the company or battalion engagement area, it may initiate indirect fires and CAS to further weaken the enemy; at the same time, the brigade's (or SBCT's) shaping operation normally shifts to second-echelon forces. Friendly forces occupy their actual defensive positions before the enemy reaches direct fire range; they may shift positions in response to enemy actions or other tactical factors.


During this step, the enemy deploys to achieve mass at a designated point, normally employing both assault and support forces. This may leave him vulnerable to the combined effects of indirect and direct fires integrated with obstacles. He may employ additional forces to fix friendly elements and prevent their repositioning. Friendly counterattack forces may be committed against the enemy flank or rear, while other friendly forces may displace to alternate, supplementary, or successive positions in support of the higher commander's scheme of maneuver. All friendly forces should be prepared for the enemy to maximize employment of combat multipliers, such as dismounted infantry operations, to create vulnerability. The enemy is also likely to set the conditions for the assault with artillery, CAS, and chemical weapons.


As the enemy's momentum is slowed or stopped, friendly forces may conduct a counterattack. The counterattack may be conducted purely for offensive purposes to seize the initiative from the enemy. In some cases, however, the purpose of the counterattack is mainly defensive, such as reestablishing a position or restoring control of the sector. The antiarmor company (or platoon) may participate in the counterattack by providing support by fire for the counterattack force or as the actual counterattack force.


The antiarmor company (or platoon) must secure its sector by repositioning forces, destroying remaining enemy elements, processing enemy prisoners of war (EPWs), and reestablishing obstacles. The unit conducts all necessary CSS functions as it prepares to continue the defense. Even when enemy forces are not actively engaging it, the unit must maintain local security at all times during consolidation and reorganization. The unit then must prepare itself for possible follow-on missions.


The BOS are a listing of critical tactical activities and provide a means of reviewing preparations or execution. The synchronization and coordination of activities within and among the various BOS are critical to the success of the antiarmor company (or platoon).


The goal of effective weapons positioning is to enable the antiarmor company (or platoon) to mass direct fires at critical points on the battlefield and to enhance its survivability. To do this, the commander (or platoon leader) must maximize the strengths of his weapons systems (TOW, M2, and MK19) while minimizing the company's exposure to enemy observation and fires. The following paragraphs focus on tactical considerations for weapons positioning.

a.   Depth and Dispersion. Dispersing positions laterally and in depth helps to protect the force from enemy observation and fires. If the terrain allows for the development of an engagement area (EA), the positions are established in depth, allowing sufficient maneuver space within each position to establish in-depth placement of vehicles and weapons systems. Fighting positions should be positioned to allow the massing of direct fires at critical points on the battlefield.

b.   Flank Positions. Flank positions enable a defending force to bring fires to bear on an attacking force moving parallel to the defender's forces. An effective flank position provides the defender with a larger and more vulnerable target while leaving the attacker unsure of the location of the defense. Major considerations for successful employment of a flank position are the defender's ability to secure the flank and his ability to achieve surprise by remaining undetected. Effective fire control (refer to Appendix C) and fratricide avoidance measures (refer to Appendix B) are critical considerations in the employment of flank positions.

c.   Displacement Planning. Disengagement and displacement allow the company to retain its operational flexibility and tactical agility in the defense. The ultimate goals of disengagement and displacement are to enable the antiarmor company (or platoon) to maintain standoff ranges and to avoid being fixed or decisively engaged by the enemy. The commander (or platoon leader) must consider several important factors in displacement planning. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The enemy situation (for example, an attack with two battalion-size enemy units may prevent the unit from disengaging).
  • Disengagement criteria.
  • Availability of indirect fires that can support disengagement by suppressing or disrupting the enemy.
  • Availability of cover and concealment and smoke to assist disengagement.
  • Obstacle integration (including situational obstacles).
  • Positioning of forces on terrain that provides an advantage to the disengaging elements (such as reverse slopes or natural obstacles).
  • Identification of displacement routes and times when disengagement or displacement will take place. Routes and times are rehearsed.
  • The size and composition of a friendly force that must be available to engage the enemy in support of the displacing unit.

While disengagement and displacement are valuable tactical tools, they can be extremely difficult to execute in the face of a rapidly moving enemy force. In fact, displacement in contact poses such great problems that the antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) must plan for it thoroughly and rehearse displacement before the conduct of the defense. Then he must carefully evaluate the situation at the time displacement in contact becomes necessary to ensure that it is feasible and will not result in unacceptable loss of personnel or equipment.

d.   Disengagement Criteria. Disengagement criteria dictate to subordinate elements the circumstances under which they will displace to an alternate, supplementary, or successive battle position (BP). The criteria are tied to an enemy action (for example, disengage when greater than five enemy armored vehicles advance past PL DOG) and are linked to the friendly situation (for example, they may depend on whether artillery or an overwatch element can engage the enemy). Disengagement criteria are developed during the planning process based on the unique conditions of a specific situation; they should never be part of the unit's SOP.

e.   Direct Fire Suppression. The attacking enemy force must not be allowed to bring effective direct and indirect fires to bear on a disengaging friendly force. Direct fires from the supporting element, employed to suppress or disrupt the enemy, are the most effective way to facilitate disengagement. The company (or platoon) may receive supporting fires from another element. In most cases, however, the antiarmor company (or platoon) establishes its own supporting element. Having an internal element requires the company commander (or platoon leader) to carefully sequence the displacement of his forces.

f.   Cover and Concealment. Ideally, the company (or platoon) and subordinate units should use covered and concealed routes when moving to alternate, supplementary, or successive BPs. Regardless of the degree of protection the route itself affords, all of the units should rehearse the movement. Rehearsals increase the speed at which the unit can conduct the move, providing an added measure of security. The commander or leader must make a concerted effort to allocate available time to rehearse movement in limited visibility and degraded conditions.

g.   Indirect Fires and Smoke. Artillery or mortar fires can assist the unit during disengagement. Suppressive fires, placed on an enemy force as it is closing inside the defender's standoff range, slow the enemy and cause him to button up. The defending force engages the enemy with long-range precision direct fires and then disengages and moves to new positions. Smoke can obscure the enemy's vision, slow his progress, or screen the defender's movement out of the BP or along his displacement route.

h.   Obstacle Integration. Obstacles must be integrated with direct and indirect fires. By slowing and disrupting enemy movement, obstacles provide the defender with the time necessary for displacement and allow friendly forces to employ direct and indirect fires effectively against the enemy. The modular pack mine system (MOPMS) can also be employed in support of the disengagement, either to block a key displacement route once the displacing unit has passed through it or to close a lane through a tactical obstacle. The location of obstacles in support of disengagement depends in large measure on an analysis of the factors of METT-TC. A major consideration for employing an obstacle is that it should be positioned far enough away from the defender that he can effectively engage the enemy on the far side of the obstacle while remaining out of range of the enemy's direct fires.


For the indirect fire plan to be effective in the defense, the unit must plan and execute fires in a manner that achieves the intended task and purpose of each target. Indirect fires serve a variety of purposes in the defense, including the following:

  • Slow or disrupt enemy movement.
  • Prevent the enemy from executing breaching.
  • Destroy or delay enemy forces at obstacles using massed fires or pinpoint munitions.
  • Disrupt enemy support-by-fire elements.
  • Defeat attacks along infantry avenues of approach with the use of final protective fire (FPF).
  • Allow friendly elements to disengage or conduct counterattacks.
  • Use smoke to screen friendly displacement or to silhouette enemy formations, facilitating direct fire engagement.
  • Deliver scatterable mines to close lanes and gaps in obstacles, to disrupt or prevent enemy breaching operations, to disrupt enemy movement at choke points, or to separate or isolate enemy echelons.
  • Execute suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) missions to support CAS, attack aviation, and high-payoff targets.
  • Provide illumination (if necessary).

a.   Fire Support Assets. In developing the indirect fire plan, the antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) must evaluate the indirect fire systems available. Considerations include tactical capabilities, weapons ranges, and available munitions. These factors help him and the battalion or company (SBCT) FSO to determine the best method for achieving the task and purpose of each target in the fire plan.

b.   FIST Positioning. The SBCT antiarmor company's FIST contributes significantly to the fight; its effective positioning is critical. The company commander and his company FSO must select positions that provide fire support personnel with unobstructed observation of the area of operations. In addition, the fire support vehicle should receive high priority for a position with enhanced survivability. The airborne, air assault companies, and antiarmor platoon (light infantry battalion) do not have a FIST and must rely on the battalion FSO for support.


The focus of the air defense plan is on likely air avenues of approach for enemy fixed-wing aircraft, rotary-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV); these may or may not correspond with the enemy's ground avenues of approach. Air defense assets that are available to the antiarmor company (or platoon) are positioned based on the results of an analysis of the factors of METT-TC and the higher commander's scheme of maneuver.

a.   Air defense assets, for example, are usually positioned about 2 kilometers apart to maximize the Stinger's capabilities in the defense. The Stinger then becomes the primary killer of rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft, with combined-arms air defense (small arms and vehicle-mounted weapons systems) for close-in defense.

b.   In another situation, the higher headquarters S2 and air defense officer (ADO) may determine that the air defense systems should be positioned independent of the friendly ground maneuver elements. These systems also are used frequently to protect friendly counterattack forces against aerial observation or attack.

c.   Another factor in air defense planning is the resupply of Stinger missiles, which places unique demands on the antiarmor company (or platoon) and requires detailed planning and consideration. It may be necessary to pre-position Stingers in the company (or platoon) AO to facilitate timely resupply.


Mobility focuses on preserving the freedom of maneuver of friendly forces. Countermobility limits the maneuver of enemy forces and enhances the effectiveness of fires. Survivability focuses on protecting friendly forces from the effects of enemy weapon systems.

a.   Mobility. During defensive preparations, mobility operations initially focus on the ability to resupply, reposition, and conduct rearward and forward passage of forces, material, and equipment. Once defensive preparations are complete, the focus normally shifts to supporting the unit's reserve, local counterattacks, and the higher HQ counterattack or reserve. Priorities set by the higher HQ may specify routes for improvement in support of such operations. Normally, all or most of the available engineer assets are allocated to the survivability and countermobility efforts until defensive preparations are complete. Then, at a designated time (or trigger) engineers disengage from obstacle and survivability position construction and begin preparing for focused mobility operations.

b.   Survivability. Light, airborne, air assault, and SBCT engineer companies are limited in organic earthmoving equipment. They are capable of preparing hasty fighting positions and improving reverse-slope positions during the transition to a hasty defense, but to construct survivability positions for a deliberate defense, the engineer company requires equipment augmentation. Thus, it is critical that these units maximize the effects of terrain when selecting positions for key weapons and vehicles.

(1)   Survivability positions are prepared in BPs or strongpoints to protect weapons systems and vehicles. Positions can be constructed and reinforced with overhead cover to provide crew-served weapons with protection against shrapnel from airbursts. The antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) prepares the area of operation for the arrival of the earthmoving equipment by marking positions and designating guides for the engineer vehicles. If time is available, vehicle positions are constructed with both hull-defilade firing positions and full-defilade positions.

(2)   In addition, the unit may use digging assets for ammunition caches at alternate, supplementary, or successive BPs or in individual vehicle positions. If the unit is defending as part of a larger force, the process of digging in all the assets requires many "blade hours." With this limited available time, the higher headquarters allocates specific equipment, by type and time, to its subordinate units. The antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) has the following responsibilities:

  • Know the number of blade hours and positions (vehicle and individual) he requires.
  • Understand the number of blade hours and positions allocated to him.
  • Prepare a prioritized plan based on his analysis of "required" versus "available."

The company commander (or platoon leader) may have time to dig in only those positions that have the least amount of natural cover and concealment. Soil composition should also be a consideration in BP selection; sites to be avoided include those where the soil is overly soft, hard, wet, or rocky. However, supporting the direct fire plan must be the main consideration. It is critical that all leaders within the unit understand the following:

  • The survivability plan and priorities.
  • One leader within the company is specifically designated to enforce the plan and priorities.
  • Completion status is accurately reported and tracked.

c.   Countermobility. To be successful in the defense, the antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) must integrate individual obstacles into both direct and indirect fire plans, taking into account the intent of each obstacle group. At the brigade (or SBCT) level, obstacle intent consists of the target of the obstacle group, the desired effect on the target, and the relative location of the group. In addition, like artillery and mortar employment, each obstacle emplaced must have a clear task and purpose. The purpose influences many aspects of the operation, from selection and design of obstacle sites to actual conduct of the defense. Normally, the battalion or brigade (or SBCT) designates the purpose of an obstacle group. (Refer to FM 90-7 for additional information on obstacle planning, siting, and turnover.)

(1)   Tactical Obstacles. The higher HQ designs and resources tactical obstacle groups and assigns them to subordinate units. The higher commander provides obstacle-planning guidance, in terms of obstacle intent, to commanders, selected leaders, and the engineer. Obstacle intent includes the target (enemy force), the desired effect (on the target), and the relative location (relative to terrain, enemy, and friendly) of the unit's assigned obstacle group.

EXAMPLE: An air assault infantry battalion commander might specify this purpose: "We must deny the enemy access to our flank by turning the northern, first-echelon motorized rifle battalion (MRB) into our engagement area, allowing Companies B and D to mass their fires to destroy it".

Table 5-1, shows the symbology for each obstacle effect and describes the purpose and characteristics inherent in each.

Table 5-1. Obstacle effects.

Table 5-1. Obstacle effects.

(2)   Protective Obstacles. Individual units are responsible for planning and constructing protective obstacles. To be most effective, a unit should tie these into the terrain and into existing tactical obstacles. It may use mines and wire from its basic load or receive additional materiel (including MOPMS, if available) from the higher unit Class IV or V supply point. It may also be responsible for any other required coordination (such as that needed in a relief in place), for recovery of the obstacle, or for its destruction (as in the case of MOPMS). FM 90-7 provides detailed information on protective obstacle emplacement.

(a)   In planning for protective obstacles, the commander (or platoon leader) must evaluate the potential threat to the unit's position and then employ the appropriate system to counter that threat. For example, MOPMS is predominantly an antitank system best used on mounted avenues of approach, but it does have some antipersonnel applications. Wire obstacles, on the other hand, may be most effective when employed on dismounted avenues.

(b)   Protective obstacles are usually located beyond hand grenade distance (40 to 100 meters) from the fighting position and may extend out 300 to 500 meters to tie into tactical obstacles and existing restricted (or severely restricted) terrain. As with tactical obstacles, the commander (or platoon leader) should plan protective obstacles in depth and attempt to maximize the effective range of his weapons systems.

(c)   When planning protective obstacles, the company commander (or platoon leader) should consider the amount of time required to prepare them, the burden on the logistical system, and the risk of the enemy detecting the obstacles and the resulting loss of surprise.

(3)   Wire Obstacles. There are three types of wire obstacles (Figure 5-1): protective wire, tactical wire, and supplementary wire.

(a)   Protective wire may be a complex obstacle providing all-round protection of a platoon perimeter, or it may be a simple wire obstacle on the likely dismounted avenue of approach into an antiarmor ambush position. Command-detonated M18 Claymore mines may be integrated into the protective wire or used separately.

(b)   Tactical wire is positioned to increase the effectiveness of the company's direct fires and supporting indirect fires. Tactical minefields may also be integrated into these wire obstacles or be used separately.

(c)   Supplementary wire obstacles are used to break up the line of tactical wire to prevent the enemy from locating friendly weapons systems by following the tactical wire.

Figure 5-1. Wire obstacles.

Figure 5-1.  Wire obstacles.

(4)   Obstacle Lanes. The unit may be responsible for actions related to lanes through obstacles. These duties may include marking lanes in an obstacle, reporting locations of the start and end points of each lane, manning contact points, providing guides for elements passing through the obstacle, and closing the lane.


In addition to the CSS functions required for all operations (Chapter 11), the antiarmor company commander's (or platoon leader's) planning process should include the considerations highlighted in the following paragraphs.

a.   Pre-Positioning and Caches. His mission analysis may reveal that the unit's ammunition needs during an upcoming operation exceed its basic load. This requires the unit to pre-position ammunition (caches). The caches, which may be positioned either at an alternate or successive BP or in the vehicles firing position, should be both dug in and guarded.

b.   Position of Trains. The antiarmor company trains normally operate one terrain feature to the rear of the company or positioned, based upon the factors of METT-TC, to provide immediate recovery, medical, and maintenance support. The commander must also ensure that all subordinate elements know the locations of the higher HQ forward and main aid stations and that the elements plan and rehearse casualty evacuation procedures. The antiarmor platoon from a light infantry battalion will receive support from the CTCP or from the company to which it is attached.


The antiarmor company commander's (or platoon leader's) analysis determines the most effective control measures for every mission. This section describes the techniques and planning considerations available to the company commander (or platoon leader) as he prepares his defense.


The antiarmor company (or platoon) typically defends using one of these basic defensive techniques:

  • Defend in sector.
  • Defend from a battle position.
  • Defend on a reverse slope.

The control measures for the defense are sectors, battle positions, or a combination of these. There are no set criteria for selecting the control measures, but Table 5-2 provides some basic considerations.

Table 5-2. Selecting control measures.

Table 5-2. Selecting control measures.

a.   Defend in Sector. A sector is the control measure that provides the most freedom of action to a subordinate unit. It provides flexibility by allowing the subordinate unit to operate in a decentralized manner while still maintaining sufficient control to prevent confusion and to synchronize the higher unit's operation.

(1)   An antiarmor company's disposition may consist of platoon sectors, a series of mutually supporting battle positions on restricted terrain, or a combination of the two. Figure 5-2, depicts an SBCT antiarmor company defending in sector with two platoons defending in sector and one platoon defending from a battle position. Positions are arrayed in depth. The strength of this defense comes from its flexibility. This defense normally orients on the enemy force and not on retaining terrain. It is effective because it forces the enemy to expose his flanks and critical C2 and CS assets through his own maneuver into the depth of the defense.

Figure 5-2.   SBCT antiarmor company defense in sector, with a platoon in a battle position.

Figure 5-2.  SBCT antiarmor company defense in sector,
with a platoon in a battle position.

(2)   By assigning platoon sectors, the company may fight a defense in sector very similar to a nonlinear defense (see FM 7-10). This decentralized defense requires greater initiative and delegates more of the control to subordinate leaders. When required, subordinate units may disengage independently and move to another location within the sector to continue the fight. Considerations for an antiarmor company reconnaissance and security plan and employment of a reserve are also very similar to the nonlinear defense.

(3)   When fighting an antiarmor company defense in sector from platoon BPs, the goal is to defeat the attacker through the depth of his formation by confronting him with effective fires from mutually supporting battle positions as he attempts to maneuver around them. Observation posts, indirect fire targets, mines, and other obstacles cover gaps that, because of terrain masking or heavy woods, cannot be covered effectively by direct fire. Units remain in place except for local or internal movement to alternate or supplementary positions. If certain platoon positions become untenable during the battle, the antiarmor company commander may withdraw the platoons to successive positions according to prepared plans and rehearsals.

(a)   One technique is to allow the enemy to move into the engagement area and destroy him with massed fires.

(b)   Another technique is to engage the attacker at maximum range with fires from attack helicopters, field artillery, and mortars and then to engage with organic weapons systems positioned to deliver fires at maximum effective ranges from the flanks and rear. As the enemy closes, weapons systems may move to alternate or supplementary firing positions within the BP to continue firing and avoid being bypassed.

(4)   The antiarmor company defense in sector, with platoons in battle position, generally requires the company commander to be able to see and control the battle. It also requires good fields of fire to allow mutual support. If the terrain or the expected enemy course of action prevents this, the defense may be more effective if control is more decentralized and the platoons fight in sector.

(5)   A significant concern, particularly when fighting with platoon(s) in battle position within the company defense in sector, is the enemy's ability to isolate a part of the antiarmor company and then fix, destroy, or bypass it. Without effective mutual support between the battle positions, this is likely to occur. Even with mutual support, responsive and effective indirect fire support may be critical to defending the battle positions. Without immediately available fire support, a capable enemy will quickly concentrate combat power against any battle position that is identified.

b.   Defend from a Battle Position. A battle position is a general location and orientation of forces on the ground from which units defend. The unit is located within the general area of the battle position. Security elements may be located forward and to the flanks of the battle position. Units defending from a battle position may not be tied in with adjacent units; thus, the requirement for all-round security is increased. When assigning battle positions, the company commander assigns sectors of fire and primary positions to his platoons to defend. Each position must contribute to the accomplishment of the company's assigned task and purpose within the higher commander's concept of the operation. A commander may also assign alternate, supplementary, and successive positions to platoons, depending on the situation.

(1)   An alternate position is a position to the front, flank, or slightly to the rear of the primary position. Figure 5-3, depicts a platoon alternate position to the rear of its primary position. The alternate position must allow the unit to cover the same sector of fire as the primary position. If it is to be occupied during limited visibility, it may be forward of the primary position. The alternate position may be occupied if the unit is driven out of the primary position by enemy fire or by assault, or it may be occupied to begin the fight to deceive the enemy of the unit's primary position.

Figure 5-3. Alternate position.

Figure 5-3.  Alternate position.

  1. A supplementary position is to the flank or the rear of the primary position. It allows the unit to defend against an attack on an avenue of approach not covered by the primary position (Figure 5-4). It can be assigned when the unit must cover more than one avenue of approach. A unit moves from its primary, alternate, or supplementary position only with the higher commander's approval or when a condition exists that the higher commander has prescribed as a reason to move.

Figure 5-4. Supplementary position.

Figure 5-4.  Supplementary position.

(3)   Fighting from a battle position is a more centralized technique and also may be more linear at the company level. Even so, it should not be a static defense. Battle positions should be positioned to achieve surprise and to allow maneuver within and between battle positions. Figure 5-5, depicts an SBCT antiarmor company defending from mutually supporting battle positions. A defense from battle positions is effective in concentrating combat power into an engagement area. It prevents the enemy from isolating one part of the company and concentrating his combat power in this area. Normally, subordinate platoons are assigned mutual supporting battle positions that cover the enemy's likely avenue of approach. These battle positions are located on terrain that provides cover and concealment.

(4)   A company commander's concept for fighting this defensive technique should concentrate on achieving surprise for each of the battle positions. This is accomplished by conducting an effective counterreconnaissance to prevent the enemy from locating the battle positions and by initiating fires from one battle position and waiting for the enemy to react to this engagement prior to engaging from the other battle positions. Fighting in this manner confuses the enemy and disrupts his C2.

Figure 5-5. SBCT antiarmor company defense from mutually supporting battle positions.

Figure 5-5.  SBCT antiarmor company defense from mutually supporting battle positions.

(5)   When the terrain permits and the antiarmor company commander's concept allows most of the enemy into the engagement area, the company may engage with massed fires from all of the platoon battle positions. A disadvantage to this technique is that if there are still uncommitted enemy forces outside the engagement area, they will know the locations of the BPs and will attempt to isolate and concentrate against them. The company commander (or platoon leader) must develop contingency plans to disengage from these battle positions and reorganize to continue the fight. This may involve displacing to alternate battle positions or disengaging to conduct counterattacks or spoiling attacks against identified enemy C2, CS, or CSS assets.

(6)   Instead of one company engagement area, multiple platoon engagement areas may be identified to provide flexibility to the plan (Figure 5-6). The plan must clearly state which platoons must reorient fires into the alternate engagement area and when they must do so. This technique is especially effective when operating in restrictive terrain or in a complex environment.

Figure 5-6. Multiple engagement areas.

Figure 5-6.  Multiple engagement areas.

c.   Defend on a Reverse Slope. An alternative to defending on the forward slope of a hill or a ridge is to defend on a reverse slope. Figure 5-7, depicts an airborne antiarmor company with two infantry platoons in a reverse slope defense. In such a defense, the company (or platoon) is deployed on terrain that is masked from enemy direct fire and ground observation by the crest of a hill. Although some units and weapons may be positioned on the forward slope, the crest, or the counterslope (a forward slope of a hill to the rear of a reverse slope), most forces are on the reverse slope. The key to this defense is control of the crest by direct fire.

(1)   General Considerations. These considerations generally apply when defending on a reverse slope.

(a)   The crest protects the unit from direct fire. This is a distinct advantage if the attacker has greater weapons range than the defender. The reverse slope defense can eliminate or reduce the attacker's standoff advantage. It also makes enemy adjustment of his indirect fire more difficult since he cannot see his rounds impact. It keeps the enemy's second echelon from supporting his first echelon's assault.

Figure 5-7. Airborne antiarmor company defense on a reverse slope.

Figure 5-7.  Airborne antiarmor company defense on a reverse slope.

(b)   The enemy may be deceived and may advance to close contact before he discovers the defensive position. Therefore, the defender may gain the advantage of surprise.

(c)   The defender can improve positions, build obstacles, and clear fields of fire without disclosing the location of the positions.

(d)   The defender may use dummy positions on the forward slope to deceive the enemy.

(e)   Resupply and evacuation (when under attack) may be easier when defending on a reverse slope.

(f)   Enemy target acquisition and jamming efforts are degraded. Enemy radar, infrared sights, and thermal viewers cannot detect soldiers masked by a hill. Radios with a hill between them and the enemy are less vulnerable to jamming and direction finders.

(g)   Enemy use of close air support and attack helicopters is restricted. Enemy aircraft must attack defensive positions from the flank or from the rear, which makes it easier for friendly air defense weapons to hit them.

(h)   A counterattacking unit has more freedom of maneuver since it is masked from the enemy's direct fire.

(2)   Special Considerations. These considerations may apply when defending on a reverse slope.

(a)   Observation of the enemy is more difficult. Soldiers in a reverse slope position can see forward no farther than the crest. This makes it hard to determine exactly where the enemy is as he advances, especially when visibility is poor. OPs must be placed forward of the topographic crest for early warning and long-range observation.

(b)   Egress from the position may be more difficult.

(c)   Fields of fire are normally short.

(d)   Obstacles on the forward slope can be covered only with indirect fire or by units on the flanks of the company unless some weapons systems are initially placed forward.

(e)   If the enemy gains the crest, he can assault downhill. This may give him a psychological advantage.

(f)   If observation posts are insufficient or improperly placed, the defenders may have to fight an enemy who suddenly appears in strength at close range.

(3)   Feasibility. A defense on a reverse slope may be effective when—

  • The forward slope has little cover and concealment.
  • The forward slope is untenable because of enemy fire.
  • The forward slope has been lost or not yet gained.
  • There are better fields of fire on the reverse slope.
  • It adds to the surprise and deception.
  • The enemy has more long-range weapons than the defender.

(4)   Plans. The fundamentals of the defense apply to a defense on a reverse slope.

(a)   Forward unit positions should be within 200 to 500 meters of the crest of the defended hill or ridge and sited so they block enemy approaches and exploit existing obstacles. They should permit surprise fire on the crest and on the approaches around the crest. Forward fighting positions should have rear and overhead cover to protect friendly soldiers from fratricide.

(b)   Emplace observation posts, including FIST personnel (if available), on the crest or the forward slope of the defended hill. At night, observation posts and patrol units should be increased to prevent infiltration. M2 heavy machine guns may be employed at the observation posts.

(c)   Position the unit in depth or reserve where it can provide the most flexibility, support the forward units by fire, protect the flanks and the rear of the higher unit, and, if necessary, counterattack. It may be positioned on the counterslope to the rear of the forward units if that position allows it to fire and hit the enemy when he reaches the crest of the defended hill.

(d)   Position the unit command post to the rear where it will not interfere with the supporting units or the employment of the reserve. The commander (or platoon leader) may have an observation post on the forward slope or crest and another on the reverse slope or counterslope. He uses the observation post on the forward slope or crest before the battle starts when he is trying to determine the enemy's intentions. During the fight, he moves to the observation post on the reverse slope or counterslope.

(e)   Plan indirect fire well forward of, on, and to the flanks of the forward slope, crest, reverse slope, and counterslope. Plan indirect FPF on the crest of the hill to control the crest and stop assaults.

(f)   Reinforce existing obstacles. Protective obstacles on the reverse slope—just down from the crest where it can be covered by fire—can slow the enemy's advance and hold him under friendly fire.

(g)   The commander normally plans counterattacks. He plans to drive the enemy off the crest by fire, if possible. He must also be prepared to drive the enemy off by fire and movement


The antiarmor company (or platoon) may participate in a defense by operating as a battalion's security force (or part of the security force) and as a battalion's reserve. The SBCT antiarmor company may have a slight variation of these two employment options.

a.   Security Force. Battalion and brigade security forces normally conduct the tactical tasks screen or guard. Defending battalions deploy security forces beyond the FEBA to provide early warning, to deny enemy observation of the MBA, to assist rearward passage of a covering force, and to deceive and disorganize the enemy. The security force commander places the security force where it can cover enemy avenues of approach into the defensive sector. One or more antiarmor platoons can form part of the battalion's security force. The battalion commander positions the antiarmor company or platoon in areas that offer long-range observation and fields of fire on high-speed enemy avenues of approach. Their thermal sights and mobility make them an efficient asset in these operations. Platoons normally operate under the control of a security force commander. The security force commander may be a rifle company commander; however, in airborne and air assault battalions, the antiarmor company commander may be the security force commander.

(1)   Organization. The security force is organized into finders and fighters. Finders are tasked to detect enemy reconnaissance forces as they enter the battalion's security zone. Once they identify enemy targets, finders report the enemy's location and direction of travel to the fighters. The fighters scan for the target to confirm its identification with the finders and engage to destroy it. Antiarmor platoons can participate as finders or fighters. They are a critical asset to the battalion and should not be employed without dismounted infantry security.

(a)   The battalion S2 provides the results of his IPB in the form of the disposition, composition, capabilities, and the most probable course of action (MPCOA), with accompanying SITEMP, for the enemy's reconnaissance effort. The results of the terrain analysis, which includes line-of-sight (LOS) information, will be valuable when considering the tactical array or disposition of security forces. Antiarmor units can determine the LOS on their map reconnaissance using a technique described in FM 3-25.26.

(b)   Leaders ensure their subordinates receive the appropriate control measures, which include the locations and graphics for the remainder of the security force. All security force elements should have common graphics to ensure a clear understanding of the situation (for example, phase lines, checkpoints, and target reference points to control the hand-off of targets). If each element in the security force uses different control measures, then the security force effort will be disjointed and ineffective.

(2)   Finders. The antiarmor platoon uses its optics, PVS-7Bs, thermal sights, and daysights to effectively detect enemy reconnaissance forces. The reconnaissance platoon, rifle platoons, and other ISR assets like the ground surveillance radar (GSR) often serve as finders during security operations.

(a)   The platoon leader positions his sections to cover the likely avenues of approach used by enemy reconnaissance elements in accordance with the security force commander's guidance. Units position where they are not decisively engaged during the security fight. The high magnification of the available sights allows antiarmor units to observe avenues of approach from a distance. The finder force usually positions to the front and flanks of the fighter force, although antiarmor units, with their high magnification capability, can function as the finders and can locate behind the fighters. This is an effective employment option of an antiarmor platoon during security operations.

(b)   Security force elements observe named areas of interest (NAIs) along the anticipated enemy avenues of approach. Upon detection of enemy targets, the platoon sends reports to the fighters. The location and direction of travel are clarified by using the common control measures of the security force (for example, enemy armored personnel carrier at TRP 2 moving east to TRP 3). Security force elements use their optics equipment and aiming lights to point out targets for the fighters. This is especially useful when the fighters have difficulty detecting the target. The limitations to these techniques are that the enemy may detect the IR signature and take evasive action as well as engage the source. Leaders closely monitor the situation and ensure their units positively identify targets to prevent friendly units from being mistaken for an enemy force.

(3)   Fighters. An antiarmor platoon can also be an effective member of the fighter force. The TOW, M2, and MK19 allow a platoon to destroy any type of reconnaissance element. The platoon is positioned so that it has good fields of fire and observation of the avenues of approach. The platoon leader may have to designate supplementary and alternate positions if there are more mobility corridors than can be covered from one position.

(a)   A weapons mix is selected based on the battalion's IPB, security force commander's guidance, and the platoon leader's own METT-TC analysis. Some major concerns are the type of reconnaissance vehicles expected (armor protection) and the fields of fire available. The TOW may not be an effective weapon system against reconnaissance vehicles in restrictive terrain because of tracking limitations. (See Appendix E for a discussion of TOW employment in restricted terrain.) The M2 and MK19 can destroy most lightly armored reconnaissance vehicles such as BMPs and Boyevaya Razvedyuatel'naya Dozornaya Meshinas (BRDMs) (Russian combat reconnaissance patrol vehicles).

(b)   Leaders monitor the situation to ensure they are aware of the locations of the remainder of the security force. They accept target hand over from the finders. They receive target information as to the type, location, and direction of travel. Common control measures clarify the information. Once targets are identified, they are tracked until the desired point of engagement, then destroyed. There is risk of antiarmor systems being lost before the main battle when employing antiarmor elements during security operations. Using them as fighters further increases the risk of their destruction. When battalions are organized with one antiarmor platoon, using them primarily as finders and secondarily as fighters may be the preferred option. The platoon can detect targets and hand them off to infantryman armed with Javelins and AT4s. The antiarmor platoon engages only if enemy reconnaissance assets bypass the primary fighters.

(3)   Withdrawal. The security force normally conducts a rearward passage of lines before the conduct of the MBA defense during limited visibility. This requires detailed coordination. The withdrawal route and other control measures are provided to MBA forces before the passage of lines. The security force also can mark itself using IR markers to provide visual identification to the MBA forces. This identification, combined with rehearsals of the rearward passage, will improve night observation devices and reduce the likelihood of fratricide.

b.   Reserve. The commander may decide to use his antiarmor units as his reserve, specifically when there is more than one mobility corridor the enemy is likely to use, negating the use of one unit battle position. He may also designate his antiarmor units as the reserve during security operations and the mobile defense at the SBCT level. When operating as the reserve, the antiarmor unit performs a variety of missions to include these counterattack missions:

  • Block a penetration from an attack by fire position.
  • Occupy a battle position.
  • Reinforce another unit's position.
  • Destroy enemy CS or CSS forces.

The reserve is normally positioned in an assembly area to wait for orders to execute one of several contingencies. The antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) conducts rehearsals of all his contingency missions. During security operations, he receives the priority of the potential missions to ensure he can rehearse them with his subordinate leaders. Another technique for the company is to have the company XO, with the platoon sergeants, rehearse the potential missions while the company is conducting the security operation. Full-up rehearsals may not be possible.

(1)   Block a Penetration. Normally, the unit moves to an attack-by-fire position to block the enemy's penetration. The attack by fire is positioned to allow full use of the unit's weapons systems. The company commander (or platoon leader) uses the fire control measures described in Appendix C (Direct Fire Planning and Control) to ensure he can accomplish his purpose.

(2)   Occupy a Battle Position. When ordered, the company (or platoon) moves to a pre-assigned battle position and executes the assigned mission. The method for building the defense is the same as previously discussed with the major difference being the amount of preparation. The unit may be responsible for several battle positions. If so, it builds and rehearses all of them. The factors of METT-TC determine the amount of preparation completed on each position. The unit keeps the direct fire plan as simple as possible in each engagement area to reduce confusion.

(3)   Antiarmor units may receive the mission to be prepared for a combination of the above roles. The brigade (SBCT) or battalion clarifies the priority of each contingency to focus their preparation. The execution of all of these missions may occur during limited visibility. IR markers are used to mark vehicle positions for rapid occupation. Any unit TRPs emplaced are set up for limited visibility before darkness (for example, heat the TRPs or use IR source markers as TRPs).

(4)   Reinforce Another Unit's Position. The antiarmor unit may be called upon to reinforce a combat-ineffective unit to reestablish the integrity of the defense. This reinforcement is typically not planned. To ensure success, the company commander (or platoon leader) must, if time is available, conduct a reconnaissance of all battle positions in the defense and have a basic understanding of each commander's concept.


The engagement area is where the company commander (or platoon leader) intends to destroy an enemy force using the massed fires of all available weapons. The success of any engagement depends on how effectively he can integrate the obstacle plan, the indirect fire plan, the direct fire plan, and the terrain within the engagement area to achieve the unit's tactical purpose. Beginning with evaluation of METT-TC factors, the development process covers these steps:

  • Identify all likely enemy avenues of approach.
  • Determine likely enemy schemes of maneuver.
  • Determine where to kill the enemy.
  • Emplace weapons systems.
  • Plan and integrate obstacles.
  • Plan and integrate indirect fires.
  • Rehearse the execution of operations in the engagement area.

The following paragraphs outline planning and preparation procedures an antiarmor company commander may use for each of these steps.

a.   Identify Likely Enemy Avenues of Approach. The following procedures and considerations, as illustrated in Figure 5-8, apply in identifying the enemy's likely avenues of approach.

(1)   Conduct initial reconnaissance. If possible, do this from the enemy's perspective along each avenue of approach into the sector or engagement area.

(2)   Identify key and decisive terrain. This includes locations that afford positions of advantage over the enemy as well as natural obstacles and choke points that restrict forward movement.

(3)   Determine which avenues will provide cover and concealment for the enemy while allowing him to maintain his tempo.

(4)   Evaluate lateral routes adjoining each avenue of approach.

Figure 5-8. Identify all likely enemy avenues of approach.

Figure 5-8.  Identify all likely enemy avenues of approach.

b.   Determine the Enemy Scheme of Maneuver. The company commander can use the following procedures and considerations, which are illustrated in Figure 5-9, in determining the enemy's scheme of maneuver.

(1)   Determine how the enemy will structure the attack. In what formation will he attack? How will he sequence his forces?

(2)   Determine how the enemy will use his reconnaissance assets. Will he attempt to infiltrate friendly positions?

(3)   Determine where and when the enemy will change formations and establish support-by-fire positions.

(4)   Determine where, when, and how the enemy will conduct his assault and breaching operations.

(5)   Determine where and when the enemy will commit follow-on forces.

(6)   Determine the enemy's expected rates of movement.

(7)   Assess the effects of the enemy's combat multipliers.

(8)   Determine what reactions the enemy is likely to have in response to projected friendly actions.

Figure 5-9. Determine the enemy's scheme of maneuver.

Figure 5-9.  Determine the enemy's scheme of maneuver.

c.   Determine Where to Kill the Enemy. The following steps (Figure 5-10) apply in identifying and marking where the higher unit and company will engage the enemy.

(1)   Identify TRPs that match the enemy's scheme of maneuver, allowing the company to identify where it will engage enemy forces through the depth of the sector.

(2)   Identify and record the exact location of each TRP.

(3)   Determine how many weapons systems, by type, must focus fires on each TRP to achieve the desired effects.

(4)   Determine which platoons will mass fires on each TRP.

(5)   Establish engagement areas around TRPs.

(6)   Develop the direct fire planning measures necessary to focus fires at each TRP.

Figure 5-10. Determine where to kill the enemy.

Figure 5-10.  Determine where to kill the enemy.


In marking TRPs, use thermal sights to ensure visibility at the appropriate range under varying conditions, including daylight and limited visibility (darkness, smoke, dust, or other obscurants).

d.   Emplace Weapons Systems. The following steps apply in selecting and improving battle positions and emplacing the company's vehicles (HMMWV or ICV) and crew-served weapons systems (Figure 5-11).

(1)   Select tentative platoon battle positions. (When possible, select these while moving in the engagement area. Using the enemy's perspective enables the commander to assess survivability of the positions.)

(2)   Conduct a leader's reconnaissance of the tentative battle positions.

(3)   Drive the engagement area to confirm that selected positions are tactically advantageous.

(4)   Confirm and mark the selected battle positions.

(5)   Ensure that battle positions do not conflict with those of adjacent units and that they are effectively tied in with adjacent positions.

(6)   Select primary, alternate, and supplementary fighting positions to achieve the desired effect for each TRP in the engagement area.

(7)   Ensure that platoon leaders, platoon sergeants, section leaders, and squad leaders position weapons systems to effectively cover each TRP with the required number of weapons systems (by type) and platoons.

(8)   Site and mark vehicle positions in accordance with unit SOP so engineers can dig in the positions while section leaders supervise.

(9)   Proof all vehicle positions before engineer assets depart.

Figure 5-11. Emplace weapons systems.

Figure 5-11.  Emplace weapons systems.

e.   Plan and Integrate Obstacles. The following steps apply in planning and integrating obstacles in the antiarmor company defense (Figure 5-12).

(1)   Understand obstacle group intent.

(2)   Coordinate with the engineers.

(3)   Site and mark individual obstacle locations.

(4)   Refine direct and indirect fire control measures.

(5)   Identify lanes and gaps.

(6)   Report obstacle locations and gaps to higher headquarters.

Figure 5-12. Plan and Integrate obstacles.

Figure 5-12.  Plan and Integrate obstacles.

f.   Plan and Integrate Indirect Fires. The following steps apply in planning and integrating indirect fires (Figure 5-13).

(1)   Determine the purpose of fires and the essential fire support task (EFST) that supports it.

(2)   Determine where that purpose can best be achieved.

(3)   Establish the observation plan, with redundancy for each target. Observers include the FIST (if available) as well as members of maneuver elements with fire support responsibilities (such as section leaders).

(4)   Establish triggers.

(5)   Obtain accurate target locations using lazing devices.

(6)   Refine target locations to ensure coverage of obstacles.

(7)   Adjust artillery and mortar targets.

(8)   Plan FPFs.

(9)   Request critical friendly zones (CFZ) for protection of maneuver elements and no-fire areas (NFAs) for protection of observation posts and forward positions.

Figure 5-13. Integrate direct and indirect fires.

Figure 5-13.  Integrate direct and indirect fires.

g.   Conduct an Engagement Area Rehearsal. The purpose of this rehearsal is to ensure every leader and soldier understands the plan and all elements are prepared to cover their assigned areas with direct and indirect fires. Although the antiarmor company commander has several options, the most common and most effective type of rehearsal is replicating the threat. One technique for the mounted rehearsal in the defense is to have the company trains, under the control of the company XO, move through the engagement area to depict the enemy force while the commander and subordinate platoons rehearse the battle from the company battle position. The rehearsal should cover these actions:

  • Rearward passage of security forces (as required).
  • Closure of lanes (as required).
  • Movement from the hide position to the battle position.
  • Use of fire commands, triggers, and maximum engagement lines (MELs) to initiate direct and indirect fires.
  • Shifting of fires to refocus and redistribute fire effects.
  • Emplacement of scatterable mine system.
  • Preparation and transmission of critical reports (FM or FBCB2 )
  • Assessment of the effects of enemy weapons systems.
  • Displacement to alternate, supplementary, or successive battle positions.
  • Cross-leveling or resupply of Class V.
  • Evacuation of casualties.


The company commander should coordinate the rehearsal with the higher headquarters to ensure other units' rehearsals are not planned for the same time or location. Coordination leads to more efficient use of planning and preparation time for all units. It also eliminates the danger of misidentification of friendly forces in the rehearsal area, which could result in fratricide.


This is a set method of controlling the preparation and conduct of a defense. SOP should describe priority of work to include individual duties. A commander changes priorities based on the situation. The leaders in the unit all should have a specific priority of work for their duty position.

a.   Although listed in sequence, several tasks may be performed at the same time. An example priority of work sequence is listed below:

  • Post security (air guards, observation posts, patrols, chemical agent alarms, assign observation sectors to scan).
  • Plan and emplace direct fire control measures, TRPs (all visual spectra), trigger lines
  • Plan indirect fires and ensure their effects do not obstruct the gunner's view of the engagement area.
  • Prepare primary positions; leaders prioritize their subordinate units for engineer digging assets


Marking positions during the leader's reconnaissance allows digging to occur prior to the entire unit occupying the position.

  • Select and prepare alternate positions. If engineer assets do not have the blade time to dig positions, give careful consideration to existing cover.
  • Designate supplementary positions. These positions may not be allocated engineer effort, so the same guidance provided for alternate positions applies.
  • Designate hide positions. These are positioned where they are concealed from enemy reconnaissance assets and preferably safe from the impact of artillery fires on primary positions.
  • Dig primary fighting positions for anticipated fighting conditions (daylight or limited visibility). Supervision of engineer assets is invaluable to ensure positions are dug to standard and to maximize the precious available time.
  • Achieve mutual support or concentration of fires.
  • Coordinate with adjacent units to ensure dead space does not exist.
  • Emplace tactical obstacles.
  • Clear fields of fire.
  • Establish coordination or contact points.
  • Emplace protective obstacles.
  • Emplace wire for communications.
  • Preposition (cache) and dig in ammunition.
  • Prepare range cards or platoon and company defensive sector sketches.
  • Mark and prepare routes.
  • Rehearse movement from hide into the position.
  • Rehearse casualty evacuation.
  • Rehearse actions during limited visibility.
  • Use briefbacks to ensure the mission is understood.

b.   Routine priorities for various duty positions are as follows:

(1)   Antiarmor Company Commander. Many of these duties can be delegated to subordinates, but the commander (or antiarmor platoon leader in a light infantry battalion) must ensure they are done.

(a)   Establish local security. Set up observation posts if not already done and establish company perimeter.

(b)   Conduct a leader's reconnaissance with the subordinate leaders and selected personnel. Confirm or deny significant deductions or assumptions from the mission analysis. Designate primary, alternate, and supplementary positions for subordinate platoons, sections, and other supporting elements. Require subordinate units to conduct coordination. Designate engagement area, designate and integrate obstacles, designate the general command post location, and position weapons systems.

(c)   Check the command post and brief the 1SG or XO on the situation and logistics requirements.

(d)   Upon receipt of the platoon sector sketches, make two copies of a defensive sector sketch and a fire plan. Retain one copy and forward the other copy or digitally transmit (if equipped) a copy of the sector sketch to higher headquarters. The antiarmor platoon leader from a light infantry battalion will forward his platoon sector sketch directly to the battalion headquarters or to the company to which he is attached (refer to paragraph 5-18).

(e)   Confirm the positions before digging starts. Coordinate with the adjacent units.

(f)   Check with the higher commander for any changes or updates in the orders.

(g)   Finish the security, deception, counterattack, and obstacle plans.

(h)   Walk the positions after they are dug. Confirm clear fields of fire and complete coverage of the sector of fire of all weapons systems. Look at the defensive plan from an enemy point of view, both conceptually and physically.

(i)   Check dissemination of information, interlocking fires, dead space, and security. Correct identified deficiencies immediately.

(j)   Report refined obstacle locations to the higher headquarters.

(2)   First Sergeant and Executive Officer. One of them must—

(a)   Establish the company command post. Ensure applicable communications links are established with the higher headquarters and the platoons, sections, and attached elements.

(b)   Establish casualty collection points, company logistic release points, and EPW collection points.

(c)   Brief platoon sergeants on the company command post location, logistics plan, and routes between positions.

(d)   Assist the company commander with the sector sketch.

(e)   Request and allocate barrier material, rations, water, and ammunition.

(f)   Walk the positions with the company commander. Start supervising emplacement of the platoons and sections, and check range cards and sector sketches.

(g)   Establish routine security or alert plan, radio watch, and rest plan. Brief the company commander.

(h)   Supervise continuously and assist the commander with other duties as assigned.

(3)   Fire Support Officer. A fire support officer leads the fire support team in the SBCT antiarmor company. Airborne and air assault antiarmor companies may have an FSO attached. The FSO must—

(a)   Assist the company commander in planning the indirect fires to support the defense.

(b)   Advise the commander on the current status of all firing units and on the use of smoke or illumination.

(c)   Coordinate with the higher headquarters FSO, firing units, and platoon leaders to ensure the indirect fire plan is synchronized with direct fires and obstacles and is fully understood.

(d)   Ensure the indirect fire plan is rehearsed and understood by all.

(e)   Ensure all FPFs are adjusted in as soon as possible.

(f)   Develop observation plan as part of the fire support plan.

(g)   Coordinate and rehearse any repositioning of observers within the company area of operation to ensure they can observe targets or areas of responsibility.

(h)   Develop and advise the commander of necessary triggers.

(i)   Report battlefield intelligence.

(j)   Ensure redundancy in communications.


Antiarmor leaders prepare sector sketches based on their defensive plan. These sector sketches are based on range cards prepared for all crew-served weapons systems (TOW, M2, and MK19) and individual weapons. The sector sketch allows the higher headquarters to determine the effectiveness of the direct fire plan. If necessary, the higher commander makes adjustments to the sectors and or position of his subordinates. Sector sketches also are useful for units occupying previously prepared defenses (relief in place).

a.   Section Sector Sketch. Each section leader prepares a sector sketch to visually depict his section's fire plan. This information is found on the range card for the two squads. The section leader makes two copies of the sketch, keeping one and forwarding the other to his platoon leader. The sector sketch should provide the following information:

  • Prominent terrain features in the sector of fire and the ranges to them.
  • Each antiarmor squad's primary and secondary sectors of fire.
  • MELs.
  • TRPs.
  • Dead space.
  • Phase lines (triggers) where firing should begin or where the section is to disengage.
  • Obstacles and indirect-fire targets.
  • Distance and direction to all dead space and TRPs.

b.   Platoon Sector Sketches. The platoon leader inspects the section sector sketches. He uses these sector sketches to prepare his platoon sector sketch. He also makes two copies, keeping one and forwarding the other copy or digitally transmitting (if equipped) a copy of the sector sketch to his commander or higher headquarters. Using the section sector sketches, the platoon leader can prepare a platoon engagement matrix (Table 5-3). This matrix aids the platoon leader by detailing what TRPs each section can observe by position (primary, alternate, and supplementary).

Table 5-3. Platoon engagement matrix.

Table 5-3. Platoon engagement matrix.


The ultimate goal of adjacent unit coordination is to ensure unity of effort in the accomplishment of the battalion and brigade (or SBCT) mission. Items that adjacent units must coordinate include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Unit positions, including locations of command and control nodes.
  • Locations of observation posts and patrols.
  • Overlapping fires (to ensure that direct fire responsibility is clearly defined).
  • Target reference points.
  • Primary, alternate, and supplementary battle positions.
  • Indirect fire and automated net control device (ANCD) information.
  • Obstacles (location, orientation, and type).
  • Air defense considerations, if applicable.
  • Routes to be used during occupation and repositioning.
  • CSS considerations.

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