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CHAPTER 7

TACTICAL ENABLING OPERATIONS

Tactical enabling operations address the combat missions that require unique and special considerations for the antiarmor company (or antiarmor platoon in a light infantry battalion). Fluid operational environments now require antiarmor units to conduct the following type combat operations at a greater frequency and in a more rapid manner than required in times past.

Section I. RECONNAISSANCE

Reconnaissance is any mission undertaken, using visual or other methods of observation, to obtain information regarding the activities and resources of enemy forces or the physical characteristics of a particular area. Successful reconnaissance is a focused collection effort, aimed at gathering timely, accurate information about the enemy and the terrain in the area of operation. It is the responsibility of every commander to conduct reconnaissance with the goal of gaining the information he needs to ensure the success of his mission.

7-1.   RECONNAISSANCE PLANNING

Reconnaissance planning starts with the commander's identification of critical information requirements. This process begins while the unit is planning or preparing for an operation and, in many cases, continues during the conduct of the operation. Once the operation is under way, the commander continues to identify information requirements.

7-2.   RECONNAISSANCE EXECUTION

A commander develops the situation with active and passive reconnaissance. Passive reconnaissance includes techniques such as map and photographic reconnaissance and surveillance. Active reconnaissance methods available to a commander include mounted ground reconnaissance elements.

7-3.   RECONNAISSANCE DURING OPERATIONS

During offensive operations, any reconnaissance effort normally focuses on fighting for information about the enemy and the terrain, with the primary goal of gaining an advantage over the enemy. The information gained by the antiarmor company (or platoon) while in contact is critical not only to the success of its own mission but also to the success of its higher headquarters.

7-4.   FORMS OF RECONNAISSANCE

There are three forms of reconnaissance that are conducted as distinct operations: route, zone, and area.

a.   Positioning of Subordinate Elements. In conducting a route, zone, or area reconnaissance, the antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) employs mounted and dismounted elements to accomplish his mission. He evaluates the factors of METT-TC and identifies whether the reconnaissance will be oriented on the terrain or on the enemy force. It is essential that he provide his unit with clear guidance on the focus of the reconnaissance. For example, the critical task may be simply to find the enemy and gather information on him; therefore, terrain considerations of the route, zone, or area are only a secondary concern. The unit generally is able to move more quickly in force-oriented reconnaissance than in terrain-oriented reconnaissance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Section II. SECURITY OPERATIONS

Security operations are conducted to provide early and accurate warning of enemy operations, to provide the protected force with time and maneuver space to react to the enemy, and to develop the situation to allow a commander to employ the protected force effectively. Units may conduct these operations to the front, flanks, or rear of the higher force. (For additional information on security operations, refer to FM 17-95.)

7-5.   FORMS OF SECURITY OPERATIONS

The four forms of security operations are screen, cover, guard, and area security. Screen, guard, and cover entail deployment of progressively higher levels of combat power and provide increasing levels of security for the main body. Area security preserves a higher commander's freedom to move his reserves, position fire support assets, conduct command and control operations, and provide for sustainment operations. An antiarmor company can conduct screen operations on its own. It participates in cover, guard, and area security missions only as part of a larger element or with significant augmentation. The light infantry battalion antiarmor platoon, with augmentation, can effectively conduct a screen. It participates in all of these operations as part of a larger element in cover, guard, and area security missions.

NOTE:

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

7-6.   PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

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

a.   Augmentation of Security Forces. When an antiarmor unit conducts a screen, guard, or area security mission, the unit may receive additional combat, CS, and CSS elements. Attachments may include, but are not limited to, the following:

 
  • A reconnaissance platoon or squad.
  • A mortar section.
  • Associated CSS elements.

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

(1)   The presence or absence of specific types of forces on the battlefield, including the following:

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

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

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

(3)   Availability and anticipated employment of other enemy assets, including the following:

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

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

d.   Reconnaissance of the Security Area. The antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) conducts a thorough analysis of the factors of METT-TC to determine the appropriate methods and techniques for the unit to use in accomplishing this critical action.

NOTE:

The antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) must make every effort to conduct his own reconnaissance of the security area that he expects the unit to occupy, even when the operation is preceded by a zone reconnaissance by other battalion elements.

e.   Movement to the Security Area. In deploying elements to an area for a stationary security mission, the antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) must deal with the competing requirements of establishing the security operation quickly to meet mission requirements and of providing the necessary level of local security in doing so.

(1)   The unit can conduct a tactical road march to a release point (RP) behind the security area to occupy their initial positions. This method of deployment is faster than a movement to contact, but less secure. It is appropriate when enemy contact is not expected or when time is critical.

(2)   The antiarmor unit conducts an approach march from the LD to the security area. This method is slower than a tactical road march, but it is more secure. It is appropriate when time is not critical and either enemy contact is likely or the situation is unclear.

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

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

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

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

i.   Indirect Fire Planning. The security force commander conducts indirect fire planning to integrate artillery and mortar assets into the security mission. A wide sector may require him to position mortar assets where they can provide effective coverage of the enemy's most likely axis of attack or infiltration routes, as determined in his analysis of the enemy. The FSO assists him in planning artillery fires to adequately cover any gaps in the mortar coverage.

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

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

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

m.   Follow-On Missions. The complexities of security missions, combined with normal operational requirements (such as troop-leading procedures, engagement area development, rest plans, and CSS activities), can easily rob the security force commander of the time he needs for planning and preparation of follow-on missions. He must address these competing demands in his initial mission analysis to ensure that the unit and its leaders can adequately meet all requirements for current and future operations. If possible, the security force commander can shift his focus to preparing for follow-on missions once preparations for the security mission are complete (or satisfactorily under way). Another technique is to task the XO, with support personnel and vehicles, to prepare for follow-on missions. The XO and this element can handle such operational requirements as reconnaissance, coordination, and development of follow-on engagement areas and battle positions. The drawback to this technique is that the XO and those with him are unavailable for the current fight.

7-7.   SCREEN

A screen primarily provides early warning. It observes, identifies, and reports enemy actions to the main defense. A screen provides the least amount of protection of any security mission. Generally, a screening force fights only in self-defense; however, it may engage enemy reconnaissance elements within its capability. It normally does not have the combat power to develop the situation.

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

 
  • Prevent enemy ground elements from passing through the screen undetected or unreported.
  • Maintain continuous surveillance of all avenues of approach into the sector under all visibility conditions.
  • Destroy or repel enemy reconnaissance elements within its capability without violating the commanders' intent.
  • Locate the lead elements of each enemy advance guard force and determine their direction of movement.
  • Maintain contact with enemy forces and report any activity in sector.
  • Impede and harass the enemy within capability while displacing.
  • Maintain contact with the enemy main body and any enemy security forces operating on the flanks of friendly forces.

b.   Stationary Screen. The antiarmor company commander (or platoon leader) assigns surveillance responsibility to the unit's subordinate elements. He designates locations of OPs, which should be in depth through the sector. Antiarmor squads within the unit normally man the OPs. The commander identifies the enemy's likely axes of attack or infiltration routes. If necessary, he identifies additional control measures (such as NAIs, phase lines, TRPs, or checkpoints) to assist in movement control and in tracking of enemy elements. The unit conducts mounted and dismounted patrols to reconnoiter areas that cannot be observed from OPs. Once the enemy is detected from an OP, the screening force may engage him with indirect fires. This prevents the enemy from penetrating the screen line and does not compromise the location of the OP. Within its capability, the screening force may destroy enemy reconnaissance assets with direct fires if indirect fires cannot accomplish the task. The screening force also impedes and harasses other enemy elements, primarily through the use of indirect fires. If enemy pressure threatens the security of the screening force, the unit normally reports the situation and requests permission to displace to a subsequent screen line or follow-on mission.

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

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

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

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

(c)   Successive Bounds. The screening element uses this method when the total tactical environment is being developed and enemy contact is possible. During this time, the main body makes frequent short halts during movement. Each subordinate unit of the screening force occupies a designated portion of the screen line each time the main body stops. When main body movement resumes, the subordinate units move simultaneously, retaining their relative position as they move forward.

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

(2)   Moving Rear Screen. A moving rear screen may be established to the rear of a main body force conducting an offensive operation or between the enemy and the rear of a force conducting a retrograde operation. In either case, movement of the screen is keyed to the movement of the main body or to the requirements of the enemy situation; the antiamor company commander (or platoon leader) normally controls the moving rear screen by moving to a series of pre-designated phase lines.

7-8.   GUARD

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

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

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

b.   Types. The following paragraphs describe the operational considerations for an antiarmor company conducting advance, flank, or rear guard.

(1)   Advance Guard. An advance guard for a stationary force is defensive in nature. The antiarmor company defends or delays in accordance with the intent of the higher commander. An advance guard for a moving force is offensive in nature. The antiarmor company normally conducts an offensive advance guard mission during a movement to contact as part of a battalion. Its role is to maintain the freedom of maneuver of the main body by providing early warning of enemy activity and by finding, fixing, and finishing (destroying) enemy reconnaissance and security elements.

(2)   Flank Guard. A flank guard protects an exposed flank of the main body. A flank guard is similar to a flank screen except that both OPs and defensive positions are planned. The antiarmor company may conduct a moving flank guard during an attack or a movement to contact. In conducting a moving flank guard, the antiarmor company normally occupies a series of pre-designated battle positions along the protected flank. It must maintain orientation both to the front (to perform its overwatch role and to maintain its own security) and to the protected flank. It must also maintain a sufficient distance from the main body to prevent the enemy from engaging the main body with long-range direct fires before early warning can be sent. (Paragraph 7-8d focuses on execution of a moving flank guard.)

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

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

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

(2)   Actions against Reconnaissance Elements. When it must execute counterreconnaissance tasks, the antiarmor company normally task-organizes into surveillance elements (finders) that normally occupy a screen line and attack elements (fighters). Each element has specific responsibilities but must be prepared to work effectively with the other to ensure success of the operation. The antiarmor company commander must assign clear responsibilities for surveillance of identified avenues of approach and designated NAIs. The surveillance element is tasked with detecting, reporting, and maintaining contact with the enemy in the assigned surveillance sector. Figure 7-1 illustrates a company stationary guard operation.

Figure 7-1. Stationary guard with OPs forward.

Figure 7-1.  Stationary guard with OPs forward.

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

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

NOTE:

These are similar to the methods for controlling movement along a screened flank, except that the antiarmor company and its platoons occupy pre-designated battle positions instead of OPs.

The lead element of a moving flank guard must accomplish three tasks. It must maintain contact with the protected force (main body), reconnoiter the flank guard's axis of advance, and reconnoiter the zone between the protected force and the flank guard's advance. The remainder of the flank guard marches along the axis of advance and occupies battle positions to the protected flank as necessary. Figure 7-2 illustrates an antiarmor company flank guard operation during an SBCT movement to contact. One platoon is employed to provide security to the front and maintain contact with the main body; the other two platoons are oriented to the protected flank. The illustration shows battle positions that the platoons may occupy to respond to the approaching enemy force.

Figure 7-2.    Antiarmor company guarding the SBCT flank during movement to contact.

Figure 7-2.   Antiarmor company guarding the SBCT flank
during movement to contact.

7-9.   LOCAL SECURITY

An antiarmor company (or platoon) is responsible for maintaining its own security at all times. It does this by deploying mounted and dismounted OPs and patrols to maintain surveillance and by employing appropriate OPSEC measures. In addition to maintaining security for its own elements, the unit may implement local security, if augmented, for other units as directed by the higher commander. Examples of such situations include, but are not limited to, the following:

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

Section III. LINKUP

Linkup is an operation that entails the meeting of friendly ground forces or their leaders (or designated representatives). An antiarmor company can conduct linkup activities independently or as part of a larger force; however, the antiarmor platoon from the light infantry battalion will conduct linkup activities as a part of a larger force.

7-10.   LINKUP SITUATIONS

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

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

7-11.   LINKUP PLANNING

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

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

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

NOTE:

In the SBCT, the antiarmor company may use the FBCB2 display as a means of recognition with other SBCT or similarly equipped units.

(1)   Units exchange sign and countersign. This can be a challenge and password or a number combination for a near signal. It also can be an exchange of signals using flashlights, chemical lights, infrared lights, or VS-17 panels for far recognition signals.

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

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

d.   Direct Fires. Direct fire planning must prevent fratricide. A restrictive fire line (RFL) controls fires around the linkup site. Phase lines may serve as RFLs that are adjusted as two forces approach each other.

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

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

7-12.   STEPS OF THE LINKUP OPERATION

In a linkup, the procedure begins as the unit moves to the linkup point. If FM radio is used, the antiarmor unit reports its location using phase lines, checkpoints, or other control measures. Each unit sends a small contact team or element to the linkup point; the remainder of the unit stays in the linkup rally point. The leader fixes individual duties of the contact elements and coordinates procedures for integrating the linkup units into a single linkup rally point. The unit conducts full rehearsals if time permits. Antiarmor companies follow the procedures illustrated in Figure 7-3.

Figure 7-3. Company linkup.

Figure 7-3.  Company linkup.

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

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

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

d.   The linkup consists of three steps:

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

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

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

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

 
  • Conduct far recognition using FM radio or FBCB2.
  • Conduct short-range (near) recognition using the designated signal.
  • Complete movement to the linkup point.
  • Establish local security at the linkup point.
  • Conduct additional coordination and linkup activities as necessary.

Section IV. PASSAGE OF LINES

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

7-13.   PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7-14.   RECONNAISSANCE COORDINATION

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

 
  • Unit designation and composition; type and number of passing vehicles.
  • Passing unit arrival time(s).
  • Location of attack positions or assembly areas.
  • Current enemy situation.
  • Stationary unit's mission and plan (to include OP, patrol, and obstacle locations).
  • Location of movement routes, contact points, passage points, and passage lanes.
  • Guide requirements.
  • Order of march.
  • Anticipated actions on enemy contact.
  • Requirements for supporting direct and indirect fires, including the location of the RFL.
  • NBC conditions.
  • Available CS and CSS assets and their locations.
  • Communications information (to include frequencies, digital data, and near and far recognition signals).
  • Criteria for battle handover and location of the BHL.
  • Additional procedures for the passage.

NOTE:

In units with FBCB2, the use of GPS and or position navigation (POSNAV) waypoints simplifies this process and, as a result, may speed the passage.

7-15.   FORWARD PASSAGE OF LINES

In a forward passage of lines, the passing unit first moves to an assembly area or an attack position behind the stationary unit. Designated liaison personnel move forward to linkup with guides and confirm coordination information with the stationary unit. Guides then lead the passing elements through the passage lane. The antiarmor unit conducts a forward passage by employing tactical movement. It moves quickly, using appropriate dispersion and movement formations whenever possible and keeping FM radio transmission to a minimum. It bypasses disabled vehicles as necessary. The unit holds its fire until it passes the BHL or designated fire control measure unless the liaison personnel have coordinated direct fire control with the stationary unit. Once clear of passage lane restrictions, the unit consolidates (at a rally point or attack position, if necessary) and conducts tactical movement in accordance with its orders. Figure 7-4 illustrates a forward passage of lines.

Figure 7-4. Company forward passage of lines.

Figure 7-4.  Company forward passage of lines.

7-16.   REARWARD PASSAGE OF LINES

Because of the increased chance of fratricide during a rearward passage of lines, coordination of recognition signals and direct fire restrictions is critical. The passing unit contacts the stationary unit while it is still beyond direct fire range and conducts coordination via FM radio (or FBCB2, if equipped). Near recognition signals and location of the BHL are emphasized. Additional fire control measures, such as RFLs, may be employed to further minimize the risk of fratricide. Following coordination, the passing unit continues tactical movement toward the passage lane. Weapons systems are oriented on the enemy, and the passing unit is responsible for its own security until it passes the BHL. If the stationary unit provides guides, the passing unit may conduct a short halt to linkup and coordinate with them. The passing unit moves quickly through the passage lane to a designated location behind the stationary unit (Figure 7-5).

Figure 7-5. Company rearward passage of lines.

Figure 7-5.  Company rearward passage of lines.



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