For a breaching operation, a unit develops a scheme of maneuver specifically designed to cross an obstacle and continue a mission. Maneuver company teams, TFs, and brigades can conduct breaching operations. Normally, a TF executes a breaching operation and the company teams are assigned as support, breach, and assault forces. Units will conduct a breaching operation when
- The force-allocation ratio indicates that a confirmed enemy situation is beyond the subordinate unit's capabilities to successfully conduct a breaching operation. (When companies cannot successfully conduct a breaching operation, the battalion will.)
- A subordinate unit has failed in its attempt to breach an enemy's tactical obstacles.
Step 3. COA development.
Step 4. COA analysis (war game).
Step 5. COA comparison.
Step 6. COA approval.
2-2. Before receiving a higher HQ order, a unit should receive a series of warning orders (WOs) and available intelligence products. If the products are not issued with the WOs, the higher HQ liaison officer (LO) should locate and deliver the products as soon as they become available. Intelligence products are essential for the unit to begin developing its own intelligence products and to facilitate parallel planning.
2-3. Upon receiving the higher HQ SITEMP, the unit develops standard terrain products using TerraBase II or a similar computer-software program. (For examples of TerraBase products, see FM 5-71-3 .) This set of terrain products is called a terrain-visualization mission folder. (For more information on this subject, see FM 5-105 .) Terrain products that support the planning of a breaching operation should be included in the unit's SOP and may include
- Visible area plots from each of the templated enemy locations to the expected EA.
- Visible area plots from potential SBF positions and points of breach to the templated enemy location.
- Oblique view of the AO.
- Perspective view of intervisibility lines.
- Visible area plots from named areas of interest (NAIs), when NAIs are developed.
2-4. Visible area plots from each of the templated enemy locations help determine if the enemy would select these locations. For example, the enemy would not select a location directly behind a small hill because the hill would prevent the enemy from firing into a kill sack. Additionally, by combining the visible area plots on an overlay, the enemy's ability to mass fires is more easily understood. It also helps select SBF locations, obscuration locations, and sectors of fires and helps determine the breach organization for future operations.
2-5. Visible area plots from potential SBF positions and points of breach assist future planning by allowing the commander to visualize the support and breach forces' ability to suppress the enemy. Multiple plots along the length of an SBF position may be necessary to fully understand the suitability of an SBF position.
2-6. An oblique view of the AO helps the commander better visualize the terrain. A perspective view of intervisibility lines in the AO allows him to visualize how the unit can best use the terrain during a breaching operation. It also provides an idea of how the enemy may use the intervisibility lines when positioning its assets and special munitions.
2-7. Visible area plots from developed NAIs can be used to provide positioning guidance for observation posts (OPs). These products are issued to recon assets who are tasked to provide information on various NAIs.
2-8. When receiving a mission, pay particular attention to the actions the higher HQ takes in support of the breaching operation or its decisions that influence the breaching operation. Responsibilities of the higher HQ include
- Resourcing the unit conducting the breaching operation with additional or special assets not normally task-organized to subordinate units.
- Fixing enemy forces to prevent them from repositioning and interfering in the breaching operation.
- Using scatterable mines (SCATMINEs), deep fires, attack helicopters, and close air support (CAS) to isolate the farside objective and prevent a successful enemy counterattack.
- Planning a forward passage of lines by follow-on forces through the unit conducting the breaching operation. This must include a plan to upgrade/maintain lanes through the obstacle and to create additional lanes, if necessary, for the passage of follow-on forces.
- Providing criteria to transition to its own breaching operation.
2-9. During mission analysis, the commander conducts the IPB. A product of the IPB process is the SITEMP. The SITEMP is a graphic depiction of expected threat disposition if it adopts a particular COA. The staff must combine higher HQ intelligence with its knowledge of the enemy to produce a SITEMP with the necessary detail to successfully plan a breaching operation. A SITEMP should include
- Likely enemy EAs.
- The location and orientation of enemy forces.
- Counterattack objectives and the location of enemy reserve elements.
- The location and range of all direct- and indirect-fire systems (tanks, AT weapons, artillery).
- Enemy obstacle systems, including tactical and protective obstacles and SCATMINEs. The template must depict the enemy's countermobility capability.
- The enemy's use of nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) weapons, including the ranges of delivery systems.
- The location of enemy target-acquisition assets.
- Likely air avenues of approach (AAs), including fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
- Positioning of enemy air-defense artillery (ADA) assets.
2-10. Selecting the initial commander's critical-information requirements (CCIR) is a part of mission analysis, and it is crucial to begin planning recon operations that will result in useful intelligence, including OBSTINTEL. Typical CCIR for a breaching operation may include the
- Location, composition, and orientation of the obstacle and available bypasses in the vicinity of the reduction area and the point of penetration (PIR).
- Location and composition of enemy forces that are capable of employing direct and indirect fires on the point of breach (PIR).
- Maintenance status and location of all reduction assets (friendly forces information requirements [FFIR]).
- Status of commitment criteria for the breach force (PIR and FFIR).
2-11. When developing a COA, the commander must remember that the breaching operation is only a portion of the higher HQ operation. The unit must ensure that the end state of the COA supports the higher HQ concept of the operation. As stated in FM 101-5 , one of the criteria that each developed COA must meet is completeness. In a breaching operation, units use detailed reverse planning, develop a plan to achieve the breaching fundamentals, develop clear subunit instructions to develop a complete COA, and begin to synchronize the operation.
2-12. The detailed reverse-planning process, the SITEMP, and the terrain products produced during mission analysis are used to determine the size and composition of support, breach, and assault forces. The reverse-planning process begins with actions on the objective and includes templated enemy obstacles.
2-13. The assault force's task and purpose drive its composition. The assault force's mission is to seize terrain on the farside of the obstacle to prevent the enemy from placing direct fires on created lanes. Consider the following when determining the assault force's size and composition:
- Higher HQ requirements in terms of seizing or securing objectives.
- The terrain.
- The expected disposition, composition, and strength of the enemy when the assault force is committed.
2-14. The assault force's size determines the number and location of lanes to be created. The breach force creates and marks lanes through or around obstacles to support the rapid passage of the assault force. An assaulting company team requires a minimum of one lane, and an assaulting TF requires at least two lanes.
2-15. Lane requirements and the type of obstacle drive the amount and type of reduction assets task-organized to the breach force. As stated in Chapter 1 , the commander should plan for the loss of about 50 percent of his reduction assets during a breaching operation. To ensure that the breach force is adequately resourced, the initial allocation of assets is continually reviewed as additional intelligence information (including OBSTINTEL) is received.
2-16. The enemy's ability to interfere with obstacle reduction determines the size and composition of the security element in the breach force. The security element's size and composition within the breach force can also be determined through the
- Terrain analysis and the terrain's impact on the support force's ability to suppress the enemy.
- Amount of terrain the breach force will occupy at the obstacle during reduction and the extent that the breach force will mask the fires of the support force.
- Analysis of the enemy's expected reaction to the reduction effort.
2-17. Detailed terrain analysis and the enemy's expected size, disposition, and composition determine the enemy's ability to mass fires at the point of breach. That ability, in turn, determines the amount of suppression that is required and the support force's size and composition. Expected losses that the support force will incur from the line of departure (LD) to the SBF position due to maintenance and enemy air, chemical, and artillery attacks should be considered. Additionally, analyzing the enemy's equipment type, range, and lethality can indicate the expected losses that the support force will incur while in an SBF position.
- Suppress .
- Identify the support force's axis of advance to SBF positions. The support force's mobility requirements must be identified based on the SITEMP and its axis of advance to SBF positions.
- Establish SBF positions for each element in the support force.
- Establish TRPs to control the support and breach forces' direct fires.
- Determine the location and size of CFZs to protect the support force.
- Plan essential indirect-fire targets to assist in suppressing the enemy.
- Develop a plan for lifting or shifting direct and indirect fires.
- Deploy the support force into a position to fire simultaneously on the enemy from several directions, if possible.
- Attack by fire before or during obstacle reduction to suppress an overwatching enemy. If circumstances allow, forces may bypass the obstacle and assault the overwatching enemy before reduction. If the assault successfully eliminates the enemy, it also eliminates direct fires on the breach force. If the assault does not succeed in destroying the enemy, it fixes them and reduces the enemy's ability to place fires on the breach force. Direct- and indirect-fire suppression from the support force is necessary to support this assault.
- Use fires to suppress the enemy's indirect fires. The enemy's indirect fires are extremely dangerous during a breaching operation since the breach force may be exposed for a lengthy period. Friendly artillery and air assets support the breaching operation by attacking enemy overwatch positions, mobile reserves, and artillery positions that are capable of firing on the point of breach. Friendly forces jam enemy fire control nets. The fire-support officer (FSO) designates points of breach as CFZs for a target-acquisition battery so that enemy artillery is treated as a priority target for counterbattery support.
- Obscure .
- Determine the location of smoke target(s).
- Identify terrain features that mask the force's point of breach, and limit the number of enemy forces that can effectively observe and fire on the breach force, thus aiding in obscuration. Other natural, limited-visibility conditions (darkness, fog) should be exploited if possible. Smoke is generally the primary obscurant; however, it is a double-edged sword because it may attract enemy attention and degrade friendly target acquisition and C 2 .
- Determine the quantity, location, and type of obscurant required to screen breach and assault forces and obscure enemy fires. This is particularly important for breaching complex obstacles where the breach force is exposed for an extended time. Smoke is important in deceiving the enemy as to the breaching location and interfering with enemy fires. If smoke platoons are available, synchronize them with artillery-delivered and organic smoke.
- Determine smoke requirements by using FM 3-50 . Blanket, haze, or curtain-screening smoke degrades enemy observation of assault and breach forces. A smoke platoon is capable of providing support for a 0.5- to 1.4-kilometer front. Friendly forces use a combination of carefully placed smoke pots and indirect fires to augment smoke support. Howitzers and mortars supporting friendly forces can build and maintain smoke, but smoke effectiveness depends on the number and rate of smoke rounds delivered. Using indirect fire to provide smoke competes with the friendly force's high-explosive (HE) and dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) missions against an enemy. A commander must decide the priority for the use of indirect fire, and his decision must be clear to subordinates. Vehicles equipped with smoke-grenade launchers can provide local smoke for reduction operations and for troop passage during an assault. However, these systems are self-defense mechanisms and friendly forces must not rely on them to supply all obscuration for a breaching operation.
- Secure .
- Plan direct-fire control measures as necessary.
- Use terrain and the positioning of nearside and farside security SBF near the point of breach to facilitate the survivability of the breach force.
- Plan a CFZ and ADA coverage around the reduction area for survivability and security of the breach force.
- Plan local security at the breach site to suppress overwatching enemy forces that are close to the obstacle.
- Reduce .
- Identify primary and alternate reduction techniques.
- Determine the tentative location of lanes and the separation between lanes.
- Determine the breach force's task organization.
- Position the breach force, and identify positions and routes that it uses as it maneuvers toward the obstacle to minimize its impact on hindering the support force's suppressive fires.
- Assault .
- Plan to pass the assault force through lanes created in the obstacle.
- Develop objectives for the assault force.
- Develop SBF positions to be occupied by the assault force to facilitate passage of follow-on forces.
- Plan direct- and indirect-fire control measures that support the seizure of the farside objective.
- Identify all mobility requirements for the COA, including whether the assault force requires engineer support for reducing protective obstacles and fortifications within the defensive position.
2-19. Each element within the breach organization must completely understand which tasks it is responsible for in breaching operations. Additionally, each COA should identify which force is the main effort throughout the breaching operation. For example, the COA should define when the main effort shifts from the support force to the assault force. The following are the different types of forces and their tasks and responsibilities:
- Support force .
- Suppress enemy elements capable of placing direct fires on the point of breach to protect the breach force.
- Suppress enemy elements capable of placing direct fires on the assault force. This may require the adjustment of SBF positions.
- Call for and adjust indirect fires, including obscuration. A combat observation lasing team (COLT) or Striker will be required for Copperhead munitions.
- Fix enemy forces that are capable of repositioning.
- Breach force .
- Assault force .
2-20. The assault force's mission is unique. It must reduce the enemy's protective obstacles, assault the enemy's position, and secure terrain that is essential to the passage of follow-on forces. The assault-force commander must thoroughly understand the higher HQ scheme of maneuver. The following information is particularly important:
- Objectives the assault force must seize.
- The end state, in terms of SBF positions, which the assault force must occupy so that follow-on forces can continue the attack.
- The number of lanes the breach force plans to create to facilitate the passage of the assault force.
- The higher HQ plan to provide suppressive fires and/or obscuring smoke.
- Planned points of breach and the point of penetration.
- Lane requirements (number and lane-marking type) to support the passage of follow-on forces.
- The sequence of follow-on units to be passed through lanes and the criteria to begin passing follow-on units through lanes that the assault force created.
2-21. Typically, the enemy emplaces protective obstacles 50 to 500 meters in front of its positions and between its forward platoons and companies. These obstacles are designed to prevent a mounted assault and to fix or break up a dismounted assault. Close-in obstacles may be a combination of wire, AP and AT mines, fortifications, and entrenchments. All obstacles are covered by direct fire. Mines may be surface-laid or buried and well-camouflaged. Mines can be deployed with AHDs that are command-detonated or trip-wire-activated.
- Suppress . If a company team is the assault force as part of a TF breaching operation, other company teams within the TF will normally have the responsibility to suppress the enemy from designated SBF positions on the objective area. These teams may be the same support force that protected the breach force; however, terrain factors may require repositioning to provide effective support for the assault force.
- Obscure . Mortars and vehicle-mounted obscurants are primary means of obscuration for the assault force. It may also employ hand-held smoke grenades and smoke pots to provide additional obscuration. If available, smoke may be employed away from the point of breach to confuse enemy forces as to the disposition of the assault force.
- Secure . Local security must be established before conducting reduction operations on protective obstacles.
- Reduce .
- The assault force's reduction efforts center on creating dismounted/mounted lanes in protective obstacles, reducing fortifications, and widening lanes to support follow-on forces. The commander should task-organize the assault force with sufficient reduction assets to create a minimum of one lane per assaulting platoon. There may be insufficient time to reorganize engineers and reduction assets to the assault force after crossing the LD. Therefore, engineers and reduction assets supporting the assault force are task-organized to the maneuver force they will support.
- During the planning process, the assault force commander must decide whether he will assault mounted or dismounted. This decision impacts the reduction methods that will be used. A mounted assault allows the use of tank plows and MICLICs. During a dismounted assault, friendly forces rely on manual obstacle reduction, which is very time-consuming. The composition of follow-on forces must also be considered. This may require widening initial lanes that the assault force created, especially when a dismounted assault is followed by mechanized follow-on forces.
- The assault force normally decentralizes C 2 for the plan's execution. For this reason, an assault force commander must allocate engineers, reduction assets, and demolitions to squads and platoons to provide reduction capability throughout his force.
- Assault . Below-ground operations require clearing the enemy's trench lines and bunker complexes. Dismounted infantry and engineers, in concert with tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles (BFVs), conduct these operations. These actions must be planned in detail and rehearsed to ensure proper execution. See FMs 71-1 and 7-10 for more information.
- Task-organizing support, breach, and assault forces.
- Developing a DST, identifying triggers to support obscuration, committing breach and assault forces, and shifting fires.
- Identifying and/or confirming the locations of decision points, NAIs, targeted areas of interest (TAIs), and other information that is needed to support decision points.
- Refining CCIR and incorporating them into the ISR plan/graphics.
- Refining the fire-support plan/graphics, including the obscuration plan.
- Confirming the obstacle template according to the TF R&S plan.
2-24. The commitment of the breach force is a critical decision point that must be included in the DST. The commander must thoroughly analyze what criteria must be met before the breach force begins obstacle reduction. Commitment criteria elements may include the following:
- Destruction of certain vehicles or a certain number of vehicles.
- Effective suppression of the enemy by the support force.
- Effective obscuration of the enemy.
- Remaining strength of the support force.
- Remaining reduction assets available to the breach force.
- Activation of CFZ.
- Air-defense assets in position.
2-25. Once war gaming is complete, a COA has been refined, and a final task organization has been determined, a C 2 system can be planned to support the operation. To conduct a successful breaching operation, an effective C 2 system must be established. Specifically, each force in the breaching organization (support, breach, and assault) must understand who is in charge, especially within support and breach forces.
2-26. The support force may be comprised of more than one element. For example, in a TF breaching operation, the support force may be comprised of two company teams. Due to the importance of the support force's role and its size, it may be best to have the TF commander/S3 be the support force commander. He is responsible for coordinating the actions of both company teams and determining when the conditions have been met for the breach force's commitment. This allows each company commander to concentrate on directing his unit while under the overall control of an experienced leader.
2-27. The breach force, with its two subordinate elements (security and reduction), must have a well-understood C 2 system in place. There are many ways to establish C 2 of the breach force, and the method used may depend on the
- Size and composition of security and reduction forces.
- Number of lanes that must be created.
- Experience level of the personnel within the breach force.
- A company-team commander acts as the security element commander and the breach force commander, with an engineer as the reduction element commander.
- An engineer-company commander acts as the reduction element commander and the breach force commander, with a maneuver platoon leader as the security element commander.
2-29. Another C 2 issue that must be resolved during COA analysis is traffic control through lanes created in an obstacle system. Figure 2-1 shows an example of the graphic control measures that may be established to facilitate the efficient movement of forces through an obstacle system. In this example, traffic-control post (TCP) 8 is located at the far-recognition marker. These control measures can be initially established by the higher HQ but need to be refined as the unit conducting the breaching operation develops its scheme of maneuver. Table 2-1 lists the responsibilities for creating lanes and controlling traffic through an obstacle system when a TF breaching operation is being conducted.
2-30. Intelligence collection continues throughout preparations for a breaching operation. As intelligence reports are received, the SITEMP and the ISR plan are updated and revised. Intelligence reports are also used to refine the task organization of support, breach, and assault forces and the scheme of maneuver, including proposed points of breach and target grids for smoke and suppressive fires. Updated intelligence information is also used during combined-arms rehearsals.
2-31. A unit meticulously plans, manages, and controls breaching rehearsals. (For more information on breaching rehearsals, see Chapter 4 of this manual or FM 101-5 .) Time is allocated to each unit to perform combined-arms rehearsals. A rehearsal site should reflect the actual obstacle system in as much detail as possible. Friendly forces choose terrain similar to the operational area and construct a practice obstacle system based on OBSTINTEL. At a minimum, rehearsals should include a leader and key personnel walk-through and individual rehearsals by support, breach, and assault forces. As time permits, conduct as many full-scale rehearsals as possible. When possible, friendly forces rehearse the operation under the same conditions expected during the actual mission, including battle-space obscuration and darkness.
2-32. When a force commander rehearses a breaching operation, he also rehearses several contingency plans. The contingencies should include possible enemy counterattacks and attacks by enemy indirect-fire systems (artillery, rockets, attack helicopters, and other air assets). This also includes the enemy's use of NBC munitions. If updates become available after the last possible rehearsal, immediately pass the information to the affected elements.
2-33. Each element of the breaching organization must accomplish its assigned tasks for a breaching operation to be successful. Additionally, the entire force must be flexible when responding to changes in the plan. Examples of changes are
- Allocating additional assets to the support force due to attrition.
- Changing the location of the point of penetration.
- Modifying the scheme of reduction and changing the order of the units passing through the created lane.
2-34. All units must continually update the commander during mission execution. A critical phase of a breaching operation is the movement of the support force from the LD to its SBF positions. The support force must be prepared to maneuver to its SBF positions. Additionally, the support force must plan for the enemy's use of SCATMINEs along its axis of advance, which may require it to conduct a breaching operation.
2-35. After the support force has occupied its SBF positions and the commitment criteria of the breach force has been met (achieved necessary suppression and obscuration), the breaching commander should order the breach force to move forward to a specific point (6- or 8-digit grid) on the battle space to begin reduction. As the breach-force commander maneuvers his force to the point of breach, he must always remain cognizant of his relationship to the support force to ensure that he does not unnecessarily mask their fires.
- Verifying current friendly and enemy situations using tactical reports from company teams or support forces.
- Issuing fragmentary orders (FRAGOs) and disseminating information to the lowest level.
- Confirming TRPs and direct-fire responsibilities.
- Positioning artillery observers.
- Conducting final prepare-to-fire checks.
- Reorganizing to compensate for combat losses.
2-37. The breach force commander should lead with his security element to allow it to establish nearside security before the reduction element arrives at the obstacle. As the security element occupies its position, the reduction-element commander should conduct a recon to acquire obstacle information and quickly confirm/refine his scheme of reduction. As the reduction-element commander brings his element forward, he should report the exact location where the obstacle will be reduced and the estimated time to reduce/proof and mark the obstacle. At the same time, the breach-force commander must assess the effectiveness of the suppression and determine if and how he will augment the support force's fires.
2-38. As the reduction continues, the support- and breach-force commanders must update their commander with the current status. Specifically, the support-force commander must update on his ammunition status and the strength of his unit. The breach-force commander must update on the progress of the reduction effort and the effectiveness of obscuration and suppression. The breach-force commander should verify who the assault force will be and where the assault force will come from so that he can assist in their passage.
2-39. As the reduction effort nears completion, the breach-force commander should report the grid coordinates of the far-recognition marker so that the assault force can begin movement to that location. When reduction is complete, the breach-force commander must
- Report lane completion.
- Provide grid coordinates of the final-approach marker.
- Confirm/report the lane-marking pattern and material.
2-40. The breach-force commander establishes farside local security and assists in the assault force's passage. Once the lanes have been reported/signaled as being open for traffic, the assault force passes through the lanes to destroy forces that can bring direct fires on created lanes. To accomplish this mission, the assault force may have to reduce enemy protective obstacles.
2-41. The obstacle system continues to be a choke point and danger area even after the assault force has passed through created lanes. Additional lanes are constructed to speed the follow-on forces' passage, and lanes are monitored to ensure that they remain clear. Reduction assets need to be maintained near the points of breach in case a scatterable minefield is emplaced by the obstacle. The lane-marking pattern is upgraded to intermediate. There are many ways this can be accomplished. The higher HQ
- Takes command of the point of breach and has some or all of the reduction element revert to its control and continue creating/expanding lanes in the obstacle for follow-on forces.
- Takes command of the point of breach and has additional reduction assets follow closely behind the assault force and create additional lanes to allow the reduction element to remain under unit control.
- Tasks the breaching unit to maintain lanes in tactical obstacles.
2-42. The lanes are widened to allow two-lane traffic through obstacles, and they are marked with the full lane-marking pattern. Deliberate marking and fencing systems are installed, and military police (MP) establish necessary traffic control. Eventually, follow-on engineer forces clear obstacles and eliminate the choke point.
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