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Chapter 1

The Army's Operational Concept
for Battle Command

Historically, the Army has used the term command and control (C 2 ) to describe the system that commanders used to plan, direct, coordinate, and control combat operations or other military activities. Because of confusion created by this terminology, the Army now emphasizes that command and control are two distinct, but interdependent, concepts rather than one. The commander and his staff, as a team, use command with control to accomplish the mission.


1-1. Battle command is the commander's portion of C 2 . Battle command is the art of battle decision making, leading, and controlling operations. It includes—

  • Controlling operations and motivating soldiers and their organizations into actions to accomplish missions.
  • Visualizing the current and future states, then formulating a concept of the operation to progress from one phase to the other.
  • Assigning missions.
  • Prioritizing and allocating resources.
  • Selecting the critical time and place to act.
  • Knowing how and when to make adjustments during the fight.

1-2. Battle command requires the commander to have the mental agility, discipline, and experience necessary to make timely, relevant, and high-payoff decisions; to optimize the force's capabilities; and to control the tempo of mission execution.

Army XXI

1-3. Army XXI is the programmed force for the Army in the near-term development cycle. This cycle is undergoing upgrades to existing systems to take advantage of new technologies and opportunities immediately available for organizational improvement. United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Pamphlet (Pam) 525-5 guides this development and addresses the familiar TRADOC requirements—doctrine, training, leader development, organization, materiel, and soldiers (DTLOMS).

1-4. Since the early 1990s, topographic-engineer units have been receiving more sophisticated equipment for performing GI&S for the Army. This equipment has been an integral part of experimentation and evaluation to identify the specific functional and operational requirements for Army XXI.

Army After Next

1-5. The Army After Next (AAN) is about ideas. The AAN project has become a laboratory—part technology oriented, part military-science oriented—in which the Army works with other government services and agencies, academic institutions, and civilian industry to build ideas about the future. The AAN differs from the efforts of other futures groups in that its participants take extra care to subject ideas to both the considered experience of military history and the analytical rigor of state-of-the-art gaming.

Battlefield Operating Systems

1-6. The tactical level of major war functions—the battlefield operating systems (BOSs)—are those occurring on the battlefield and performed by the force to execute operations (battles and engagements) successfully and to accomplish military objectives directed by the operational commander. The following are the BOSs and some examples of how they relate to topographic operations (refer to Appendix B for examples of standard and nonstandard topographic products as they apply to these systems):

  • C 2 (battlefield visualization).
  • Intelligence (mobility products and corridors and lines of communication [LOC]).
  • Maneuver (bivouac sites, concealment, drop zones, and staging areas).
  • Fire support (cover, concealment, mobility, and survey control points [SCPs]).
  • Air defense (air avenues of approach, flight-line masking, and target acquisition).
  • Mobility/survivability (M/S) (on- and off-road mobility predictions).
  • Logistics (information on supply routes, railways, airfields, and storage facilities).

1-7. Topographic units provide support to all BOSs on the battlefield; however, the major emphasis for GI&S support is provided to the intelligence BOS for the intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) and the M&S BOS for the engineer battlefield assessment (EBA).

1-8. The commander directs the intelligence effort by selecting and prioritizing intelligence requirements. These requirements support him in conducting and planning operations. The information he needs to visualize the outcome of current operations is called the commander's critical information requirements (CCIR), which includes information on both friendly and threat forces. The threat-information portion of the CCIR is the commander's priority intelligence requirements (PIR). The CCIR and PIR direct the operations of the topographic unit supporting the commander. In designating PIR, the commander establishes—

  • What he wants.
  • Why he wants it.
  • When he wants it.
  • How he wants it.

Future Operational Capabilities

1-9. Future operational capabilities (FOC) are statements of operational capabilities required by the Army to develop war-fighting concepts (refer to the TRADOC Pam 525-series) approved by the TRADOC commander. The FOC address specific war-fighting capabilities, not functions or operations. Topographic operations in support of Force XXI and the AAN will be influenced by the integrated FOC, the branch/functional FOC, and the TRADOC-proponent FOC as described in TRADOC Pam 525-66. Refer to Appendix C for more FOC information.

Modeling and Simulations/Mission Planning and Rehearsal Systems

1-10. Technology provides the tools to allow a commander to visualize and assess the sequence of actions from the current state to the desired end state. There must be an integrated system to assist him in optimizing mission planning, to facilitate effective rehearsals, and to monitor understanding of his intent before and during mission execution. Training and combat systems must be similar and provide simulation-independent war-fighter descriptions of real-world processes, entities, environments, implementations, and relationships. Software must operate and support live-, virtual-, and constructive-simulation environments to approximate real combat. Technologies, including simulations and artificial intelligence, allow commanders to replicate the real world in an environment where risk is minimal.

1-11. Models and simulations, in conjunction with C 2 systems, are used for training and preparing for combat. Battlefield trends may be assessed rapidly and provide tools for exploring new courses of action (COAs) based on the current situation. A commander uses these tools by applying common sense and experience rather than accepting the computer solution as the best conclusion.

1-12. Military operations make use of modeling and simulation (M&S) applications for creating and analyzing operational plans and orders. Army C 2 systems using M&S applications will facilitate mission rehearsal. These applications must represent combat and the myriad of related support functions with sufficient resolution, fidelity, and detail to ensure high confidence in the results.


1-13. Battlefield visualization is the process whereby the commander develops a clear understanding of the current state with relation to the environment, envisions a desired end state that represents mission accomplishment, then subsequently visualizes the sequence of activity that moves his force from its current state to the end state.

1-14. Battlefield visualization is an essential leadership attribute of command and is critical for accomplishing missions. It is learned and attained through training, practice, experience, wisdom, and available battle-command technologies. Other resources, both human and technological, serve only to assist a commander in formulating a vision and taking action to implement it. To be successful in battle, a commander must apply experience and intuition to sort through the myriad of information available on the battlefield.

1-15. Battlefield visualization requires the use of operational tools that are derived from science and technology. However, technology alone cannot provide a commander with full battlefield visualization. Technology must be used together with a commander's judgment, wisdom, experience, and intuitive sense to enhance battlefield visualization.

1-16. Battlefield visualization is the heart of battle command. A commander must be able to clearly articulate his battlefield vision to his subordinates in his intent statement. This ensures the optimum development of his concept of operations (see Figure 1-1).

    Figure 1-1. Battlefield Visualization

1-17. Battlefield visualization is essential to establishing the battlefield framework as described in FM 71-100. The commander must first gain an understanding of the battlefield. This includes the state of his unit, the state of the enemy, and the impact of terrain and weather. He must then visualize the desired end state and envision a sequence of actions (an intellectual war game) that will cause his forces to arrive at the desired end state.


1-18. Terrain visualization is the process through which a commander sees the terrain and understands its impact on the operation in which he is involved. This includes the impact on both friendly and enemy elements. It is the identification and understanding of terrain aspects that can be exploited by the friendly commander to gain advantage over the enemy as well as those most likely to be used by the enemy. It is the subjective evaluation of the terrain's physical attributes as well as the physical capabilities of vehicles, equipment, and personnel that must cross over and occupy the terrain. Terrain visualization is closer to military art than to military science.

1-19. Terrain visualization is a basic and fundamental leadership skill. A battle commander must understand how terrain influences every aspect of military operations. Commanders require a detailed awareness of the entire situation, including the environment, enemy, and friendly situations.

1-20. Terrain visualization is far from a new requirement. However, in the era of force projection, every means available must be used to provide battle commanders with this fundamental knowledge of terrain while planning for operations. Information technology and force digitization provide a means to that end. Terrain visualization is a component of battlefield visualization. It portrays and allows a detailed understanding of the background upon which enemy and friendly forces and actions are displayed. Topography provides the picture whereby the user can visualize the terrain. Terrain visualization includes the subordinate elements of data collection, database development, analysis, display, distribution, and database management. These elements include both new and changed tasks due to the new way of looking at the battlefield based on digital data. The elements are designed to provide the necessary visualization for the commander and to control and manage a central terrain database. The process of terrain visualization depends highly on joint and combined digital terrain processing means and the uninterrupted electronic transfer of large amounts of information.

1-21. A commander requires the ability to see the battlefield on which his units and the enemy will deploy, maneuver, and fight. The resolution of information demanded increases as the echelon of command decreases. Lower echelons may require slope, elevation, trafficability, vegetation, or natural- and man-made-feature information layers in much more detail. Commanders have traditionally visualized the battlefield's four dimensions (width, depth, height, and time) using traditional two-dimensional paper maps. The current and emerging terrain-visualization tools will enhance the commander's view of the battle space by providing oblique, perspective, and other views in four dimensions.

1-22. Terrain visualization includes both natural and man-made features and the impact of terrain on vehicle speed, maintenance, river-crossing operations, cross-country trafficability, and maneuverability. Terrain-visualization products assist the commander during all phases of the operation. Digitized terrain provides a common terrain background for all users and applications. Additionally, terrain visualization allows interactive planning and mission rehearsal. Terrain-visualization technology must reflect real-time updates as the features change due to the effects of combat and nature.

1-23. Terrain visualization is a significant part of the military decision-making process. In this process, a commander uses the topographic-analysis element within his echelon to collect, analyze, evaluate, and interpret military geographic information on the terrain's natural and man-made features in combination with other factors to provide predictive information and advice about the terrain's effect on military operations. Simply stated, the commander requires topographic analyses to increase his knowledge of the battlefield.


1-24. Operations are designed and conducted to accomplish assigned missions. Army forces conduct operations to compel, deter, reassure, and support. All operations are composed of four basic categories—offense, defense, stability, and support—around which commanders design their operations to achieve victory. The categories of operations apply to both violent and nonviolent environments. The strength in recognizing and employing categories is that they allow a commander operational flexibility in accomplishing a broad range of missions. In training, planning, and executing, this comprehensive view toward operations enables forces to change their focus based on the changing context within which operations are conducted.


1-25. Offensive operations carry the fight to the enemy. They are decisive operations—the commander's ultimate means of imposing his will on the enemy. Offensive operations combine both force and terrain objectives. There are four general types of offensive operations—

  • Movement to contact (MTC).
  • Attack.
  • Exploitation.
  • Pursuit.


1-26. Defensive operations are those undertaken to cause an enemy's attack to fail. Although they are a stronger category, they cannot achieve a decision alone. Defensive operations must ultimately be combined with or followed by an offensive action. Defensive operations orient on force and terrain. In planning these operations, commanders ordinarily combine three basic types of defensive operations—

  • Mobile defense.
  • Area defense.
  • Retrograde.


1-27. Stability operations apply military power to influence the political environment, facilitate diplomacy, and disrupt specified illegal activities. They include both developmental and coercive actions. Because of their nature, stability operations complement and are complemented by offensive, defensive, and support operations.


1-28. Support operations provide essential supplies and services to assist designated groups. They are conducted mainly to relieve suffering and to assist civil authorities in responding to crises. Support operations may be independent actions or they may complement offensive, defensive, and stability operations. The vast majority of offensive, defensive, and stability operations will likely require complementary support operations before, during, and after execution.

1-29. The categories of operations apply to the full range of missions, including large-scale operations against sophisticated mechanized forces; operations to counter insurgencies and terrorism; operations to deter aggression against friendly governments; peace operations; and actions that provide support and assistance. When assigned a mission, a commander analyzes the factors of mission, enemy, terrain, troops, time available, and civilian considerations (METT-TC) to determine how and to what degree he will incorporate the categories into the overall concept of the operation. Commanders use the planning process to determine how best to orchestrate the four operational categories to achieve a desired end state.

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