a. Extended areas of responsibility, reduction in troop density, and battle area isolation, plus difficulties in command and control, require the use of mission type orders that give maximum latitude to subordinate commanders. Northern operations require that tactical commanders be given every possible opportunity to exploit local situations and take the initiative when the opportunity is presented.
b. Planning of any scope must emphasize the logistical impact of any tactical scheme on the overall support problem. The lack of roads and shelter, plus climatic severity and other environmental difficulties, require that logistical plans be flexible and adaptable enough to permit adjustment of supply means without endangering the overall effort. Restrictions imposed by extremes of climate and terrain constitute the major change from operations in temperate areas. These restrictions may, unless proper provisions are made, constitute major obstacles to the successful conduct of the operation. Mobility is a prerequisite to success. It can be achieved only through careful planning, training, and the use of specialized equipment.
2-2. Special Factors
The following special factors will influence operational planning:
a. Low Population Density. Settlements, supplies, quartering facilities, and lines of communication are limited. Their control or destruction becomes highly important.
b. Roads and Railroads. Roads and railroads may be limited and those that exist usually are vulnerable to enemy action. In addition, climatic conditions may greatly affect their use.
c. Lakes and Waterways. Lakes and waterways are prevalent and may either aid or hinder the operation depending upon climatic conditions. With sufficient ice thickness, they are easily crossed and may be used as natural routes of communication or airstrips. In some instances, drifted and hard packed snow makes landing on ice difficult, requiring further preparation of the airstrip. In the summer, waterways may either be major barriers or lines of communications. Many of the streams are glacier-fed and carry great volumes of water in the summer. The amount of water in glacier-fed streams may vary considerably during any 24-hour period, particularly near its source and when daytime temperatures are warm and nighttime temperatures are near freezing. Careful reconnaissance is required to determine the daily changes in the volume of water throughout the day. Location of the main channel often changes from year to year.
d. Mapping. Occasionally, maps may be unreliable or even nonexistent. Therefore, the requirement for timely aerial photographs must be utilized as a source of terrain information. With proper preplanning, suitable aerial photography can be made and converted into a photomap by supporting engineer topographic units. Unless properly laid out, annotated and referenced to known survey points, the aerial photograph will not provide necessary "map-like" accuracies for navigation and employment of indirect fire weapons.
e. Navigation. Difficulty of land navigation is increased by lack of landmarks, large forested areas, periods of reduced visibility, difficulty of cross-country movement, and by large magnetic declinations.
f. Weather. Weather is an important factor to be considered in the estimate of the situation and may dictate a course of action. As an example, the attacker or defender in a snow storm with the wind at his back has a marked advantage.
g. Forested Areas. Forested areas offer concealement and present excellent opportunities for ambushes and hit-and-run tactics. They provide comparatively good protection against wind and snow storms but present a serious obstacle to cross-country mobility. In the summer, forests burn easily, and fires may become a major problem. Units in forested areas are highly vulnerable to the blast effect from nuclear weapons.
h. Snow Cover. Snow enhances the movement of troops suitably equipped and trained, but reduces the mobility of troops lacking proper equipment and training.
i. Ice Cover. Freezing of rivers, lakes, and swamps aids movement and operations.
j. Extreme Cold. The effects of extreme cold must be considered in planning operations. The propser use and care of clothing and equipment will largely overcome most difficulties; however, extremely low temperatures combined with wind can be very hazardous to personnel operating outside. The effect of these two elements occurring together is called windchill, which greatly increases the speed at which exposed flesh will freeze and the length of time personnel can operate in the open (fig 2-1). The human body is continually producing or losing heat. Wind increases the loss of heat by reducing the thin layer of warm air next to the skin. This loss increases as the speed of wind increases Any movement of air past the body has the same cooling effect as wind. This may be produced by walking, running, skiing, or riding in an open vehicle.
k. Sudden Changes in Weather. These changes include extreme temperature changes, snow storms, strong winds, and dense fog. Changes may be sudden and must be anticipated. Every advantage must be taken of favorable conditions of even short duration. The commander who has the ability to predict, with accuracy, the sudden changes in the weather will have a distinct advantage over the enemy forces. The importance of local weather prediction capability cannot be overemphasized.
l. Daylight and Darkness. The long night of the winter must not be considered a bar to operations. For example, movement, camp building and breaking, scouting, and patrolling must be considered normal night activities. The proper utilization of the available daylight hours assumes major importance in planning.
m. Seasonal Transition. The periods of seasonal transition must be carefully considered. Climatic changes become more abrupt and the appearance of terrain features changes rapidly. A frozen river may one day present little problem and the next day be a major obstacle.
n. Atmospheric Disturbances. Extended operating distances and atmospheric disturbances make military communications difficult.
o. Delayed Personnel Responses. The extreme environmental problems encountered by personnel require that delay and time lag be considered in all planning.
2-3. Fire Support
a. General. Fire support planning for northern operations basically is no different than that required for more temperate regions. However, limited ground mobility of artillery weapons, and ammunition supply, and increased time of operation increase the requirements for Army aviation aerial rocket artillery and aerial fire support, and tactical air support.
b. Tactical Air. The importance of tactical air support is increased greatly in northern operations, primarily because of the remoteness of northern areas and the lack of suitable routes of supply and communications, and the resulting relative unavailability of normal fire support elements.
c. Fighter-Bomber Support.
(1) Tactical air strikes by fighter-bombers may often be used to supplement fire support normally obtained from organic support means. In mountainous terrain or in glacier operations, air strikes may be the only fire support means available other than mortars or recoilless weapons.
(2) Movement of forward air controllers (FAC) to points where they can control air strikes is a problem in northern operations. Light aircraft, particularly helicopters, are the best means for placing the FAC in a position to see the target and direct the fighter aircraft. Ground transportation for the FAC is inadequate as he cannot move rapidly from the area of one air strike to the area of another.
2-4. Additional Considerations
a. Lack of large population densities and industrial complexes in the north have direct impact on unconventional warfare activities. Low subsistence levels, lack of shelter, and primitive communications also are of importance in designating unconventional warfare operational areas. The impact of terrain, extended frontage, extreme weather conditions, and extended periods of darkness on the logistical operations of regular forces is highly favorable to guerrilla operations. Extended lines of communication restrict ground movement to a few routes which are highly vulnerable to such operations.
b. Psychological warfare opportunities inherent in the environmental extremes, isolation, and personal discomfort present in northern operations are exploitable. Winterization of loudspeaker equipment and printing presses is a requirement. Low troop density, difficulty in positive identifications, and relatively limited movement of troops in tactical localities make accuracy in leaflet dissemination and radio broadcasting critical. Enemy psychological warfare operations may be expected to utilize all available propaganda media, (radio, printed matter, loudspeaker, rumor, etc.) to emphasize discomfitures due to the environment in attempting to reduce the morale of our forces.
c. The strategic location of certain remote northern areas and their characteristically severe climate, low population density, possible governmental neglect or disinterest resulting in antipathy, ignorance, or restlessness of the inhabitants, provides a target or breeding ground for subversion. Although generally not regarded likely areas for insurgency, control of northern areas within the context of a larger plan, may be a cold war objective. If insurgency occurs, internal defense operations must take place to maintain control of those areas for friendly forces exploitation of their strategic value (FM 31-16 and FM 31-22).
a. Infantry, Airmobile, and Airborne Divisions.
(1) The combined arms brigade task force is the basic building block for the infantry division in northern operations. The division can conduct limited airmobile operations with organic Army aviation but should be trained to conduct total airmobile operations by the attachment of nonorganic Army aviation.
(3) Airborne divisions conduct conventional airborne operations in furtherance of the ground combat effort. Techniques are modified as indicated in chapter 6 of this manual.
b. Armored and Mechanized Divisions. The closely integrated combined task force is the basic building block for armored and mechanized division operations. These task forces as an optimum are highly mobile and include Army aviation, engineer, and signal units. They are supported logistically by a mobile direct support element. The task forces must be capable of conducting independent operations at extended distances from higher headquarters, adjacent units, and logistical bases.
2-6. Command and Control
a. Mission type orders are the rule.
b. Command posts and control facilities are sometimes mechanized. Vehicles and shelters require either self-contained or associated heating and lighting.
c. The use of highly mobile signal equipment with a cross-country or airborne/airmobile capability is an absolute requirement for the task force in northern operations. Relay capabilities are frequently required both within the task force and between the task force and higher headquarters.
d. Reduced ground visibility, lack of navigational aids, and extended distance require the use of Army aviation as a means of command reconnaissance, liaison, and communications relay.
2-7. Combat Intelligence
a. In addition to the essential elements of information required for other types of operations, answers to at least two important questions are necessary to successful winter operations in the north. The questions are--
(1) What is the enemy capability for moving cross-country?
(2) What is the enemy capability for living and fighting for prolonged periods in extreme cold?
b. A checklist to assist in determining the answers to these two questions might include--
(1) Is the enemy equipped with skis or snowshoes?
(2) What is the enemy status of training in their use?
(3) Does the enemy have oversnow or through the snow vehicles? What kind?
(4) Does the enemy have any snow removal equipment? What kind?
(5) What types of artillery are being used by the enemy (SP or towed)?
(6) Are guns ski-equipped?
(7) Is the enemy using sleds or some other type of oversnow transport to move unit equipment?
(8) Is the enemy using heated shelters? What kind?
(9) Can shelters be moved cross-country without vehicles?
(10) Is the enemy using improvised shelters?
(11) What type of winter clothing is used by the enemy? What protection will it afford?
(12) What kind of weapons does the enemy have? Are they effective in extreme cold? What is their effect in deep snow? Can their heavy weapons follow infantry units in cross-country movements?
(13) What kind of aircraft does he use in transport or fire support?
(14) What logistical support capability does the enemy have?
(15) What is the enemy's airmobile capability?
c. For summer operations, units should determine if the enemy has cross-country vehicles capable of negotiating muskeg or swampy terrain: if he has boats is he using them and for what purposes; and if he has bridging equipment and units.
d. Personnel must be aware of intelligence indicators that are present in a cold weather and northern environment. These indicators can be broken down into two categories--those that indicate the presence of a hostile force in the area, and those that indicate the size of the force. If these indicators are not recognized by the intelligence staff officer, the tactical commander will not be given a complete intelligence estimate on which to base his decisions.
(1) Examples of cold weather indicators that may indicate the presence of or passage of a hostile forces are--
(a) Signs of former bivouac areas:
1. Packed snow.
2. Emergency shelters.
3. Remains of fires.
4. Trail networks.
5. Trash left in the area.
6. Freshly cut wood.
(b) Tracks in the snow that were made by:
1. Men on skis or snowshoes.
2. Tracked vehicles.
4. Aircraft using skis.
5. Air cushion vehicles.
7. Wheeled vehicles.
(c) Improvement of winter trails.
(d) Presence of winter landing fields.
(e) Presence of ice bridges.
(f) Ice fog.
(h) Manmade or mechanical sounds.
(i) Hot spots on IR sensors.
(2) Examples of cold weather indication that may indicate the size of a hostile force in an area are--
(a) Site and configuration of bivouac areas.
(b) Size and number of shelters or tents present in a bivouac area.
(c) Number of hot spots present on IR sensors.
(d) The number of trails present within a given area.
e. Detailed knowledge of the terrain and climatology of the area of operations is essential. The location and condition of the existing road net and railroads, if any, must be determined. Information regarding soil trafficability, vegetation, water routes and expected ice thickness, snow conditions, wind velocity and direction, and average snow depth should be available to the commander. The general features of the terrain from the viewpoint of cross-county movement should also be known by the commander. For summer operations, it will be necessary to determine water routes suitable for transportation and dry ground routes in barren lands.
f. The increased effect of weather on military operations in northern areas makes it mandatory that continual and accurate weather forecastle rapidly disseminated to the lowest level.
g. Collection agencies are essentially the same as for temperate zone operations although their methods of operation may be different. Increased emphasis must be placed on effective use of air reconnaissance by both Army aircraft and the supporting Air Force units. During seasons when waterways are open, boat patrols are useful in gathering information.
h. It is especially important during the planning phase of northern operations to secure detailed information of the operational areas from strategic intelligence agencies. Every effort should be made to procure basic air photo coverage of the area for each season. Streams, lakes, swamps, and the general conformations of the ground may show clearly on aerial photographs taken during warm months but may be extremely difficult to distinguish on aerial photography taken when waterways are frozen and the ground is covered with snow. The enemy's need to rely heavily on radio also provides a valuable and often times easily accessible source of intelligence. Support Army Security Agency elements should be tasked to assist in providing input to the EEI in the form of signal intelligence.
i. After operations are initiated, some collection means, such as long range patrols, lend themselves to more than usual exploitation in obtaining information deep in enemy territory. Because of the unusually great operating distances, these patrols can often pass undetected through flank and frontal areas. Indigenous personnel assume increased importance as a source of information. Use of special forces working with the inhabitants in the area of operations prior to full scale operation will enhance the information-gathering capability of the ground forces.
j. Aerial surveillance by the OV-- l Mohawk can be advantageously employed by the use of its various sensors. The infrared (IR) detectors can be used to locate enemy or friendly base camps and isolated groups of men during the long hours of darkness in the winter as well as during daylight hours. The side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) capability provides for detection and location of moving targets on the ground. This information (location and size of element) provides the field commander with vital intelligence for immediate and future operations. Data link of IR and SLAR provides instant readout of information at the command post location. The day and night photo capability can be used to identify friendly and enemy personnel, equipment, and base camps. The panoramic, vertical, and oblique photos can provide aid for advance planning or provide current indigence data in a static situation.
k. Unattended ground sensors can be employed during the summer season in the same manner as they are used in other areas of the world. Their use during the winter may be limited because of battery failure caused by extreme cold.
a. Patrolling to provide information of the enemy and to provide security increases in importance since combat units will seldom have any close neighboring units.
b. Reconnaissance and combat patrols may operate behind enemy positions for extended periods, depending upon climatic conditions and the capacity to provide support. Subject to equipment issued and weather conditions, such patrols can be self-sustaining for periods of from 3 to 5 days without resupply except for ammunition that may become expended. Ideally, personnel employed on these patrols should be specially trained, including mountain and glacier operation. Whenever possible, qualified skiers should be used in order to increase the cross-country mobility of patrols. Provision should be made for such patrols to carry, in addition to weapons, communications, etc., minimum equipment for survival including tent, stove, and fuel. Prearranged supply drops may be used for replenishment of supplies.
c. The most economical way to move long range patrols into enemy territory is by aircraft. At times, it may be feasible to pick up patrols from enemy rear areas by aircraft. During winter, escort patrols should be sent with long-range ground patrols to insure that the long range patrols get through enemy lines, to carry additional rations for later use by the long range patrols, and make deceptive tracks on both sides of the route of the long range patrol.
d. Air cavalry units with attack helicopters are ideally suited for security and reconnaissance in northern operations.
e. In long-range patrolling communications are a prime consideration. Normally, radio is the principal means of communication; however, because of extended distances and difficulty in radio transmissions in northern areas, aerial relays or message pick up and drop techniques may have to be employed.
(1) Camouflage during the winter is exceedingly difficult. Reliance should be placed on deception techniques. Commanders must place special emphasis on camouflage and deception techniques.
(2) Summer camouflage techniques do not differ from those applicable in temperate zones.
b. Deception. Deception has an important role in northern warfare. False ski or snowshoes trails are made to mislead the enemy as to the size of the force, direction of movement, and scope of activity. Establish rules for track discipline in snow such as; using single file to conceal troop strength where possible and; restricting the blazing of new trails. Restrict the use of individual warming fires. Open camp fires can be started in dry tree stumps in many locations to deceive the enemy as to size and location of forces. Dummy gun positions can be constructed from materials at hand. Sound and flash simulators should be used in these positions to give them a semblance of reality. If dummy rubber vehicles and weapons are not available, snow and logs can be used as substitute materials. All deceptive measures must be well planned and carefully executed to give them every appearance of reality. Electronic deception is equally important, as the enemy can be expected to gain intelligence by monitoring our nets, in locating our positions by direction finding and employing SLAR and IR devices to detect our location and movement. The use of manipulative electronic deception, in coordination with tactical cover and deception, is essential in concealing the location of major headquarters and operating elements.
(1) Excellent concealment for troop movements is afforded by darkness, fog, or falling snow. In forests, clearings are avoided, and troops and vehicles leaving roads should do so only in places where the forest is near the road.
(2) In bivouac areas and supply points maximum use should be made of dispersion and vegetation for concealment.
Tactical security measures employed in normal operations remain essentially the same in northern operations. Because of the long periods of winter darkness and the tendency for sound to travel great distances in cold air, light and noise discipline deserve special security consideration.
a. Offensive operations are directed toward the destruction of the enemy in the least possible time. Ideally, the objective in cold weather operations is not to pit rifleman against rifleman, but rather to destroy the enemy in place by firepower. Actions will be sudden, violent, and decisive. An operation which is permitted to lag may result in a stalemate or may offer an opportunity for the enemy to seize the offensive. Both forces retain freedom of maneuver limited only by their ability to cope with the climatic and terrain conditions. Due to large operational areas, flanks and rear areas are sometimes lightly defended and present excellent opportunities for the conduct of unconventional warfare, for envelopment, or under favorable conditions, for turning movement.
b. Existing lines of communication must be controlled to assure success in northern operations. Severe winter weather hastens enemy destruction after supply lines are cut. Breaches in enemy lines of communication should be made in the vicinity of dominating terrain if retention of the area is required. During summer, such objectives should be selected where the lines of communication cross a river or pass between two existing natural obstacles.
c. Effective utilization of weather conditions increase opportunities for surprise attacks. This includes the exploitation of falling snow, blizzards, fogs, low cloud cover, and natural night illumination. Imaginative use of what appear to be weather obstacles may turn them into major advantages. However, conducting offensive operations during severe weather conditions will restrict the use of aviation support and increase control and reconnaissance problems.
d. The assault should be conducted at night or during periods of low visibility. Surprise is an important factor, and the opportunities for achieving surpirse are numerous. It may be preferable to deliver the assault without field artillery preparation fires.
e. A period of slow movement may occur between the cessation of field artillery fire on the enemy forward positions and the arrival of the infantry on the objective. This period of slow movement caused by weather or terrain conditions must reconsidered in planning fire support of the assault. However, when weather, terrain, and lack of effective enemy resistance permits, mechanized infantry may remain in their carriers and make a mounted assault to capitalize on shock effect and reduce the time lag associated with a dismounted assault through snow and underbrush.
f. After seizing an objective, immediate attention must be given to consolidation of the objective. The assaulting troops may be fatigued and overheated from the exertion of the attack. Provisions must be made to prevent them from becoming cold casualties.
g. Army aviation can and must be effectively integrated into offensive operations, and airmobile operations should be considered normal rather than special in the northern areas. Vertical envelopment, diversionary attacks, and rapid displacement of supporting weapons and reserves are within the offensive capabilities of an airmobile force. Low troop density throughout the battle area plus flexibility in route selection reduce the hazards of enemy operations and counter action against movement.
h. During summer months riverine operations may be conducted in areas where extensive inland waterways exist, using craft adapted to the northern rivers.
2-12. Main Attack
a. The opportunity for maneuver is usually present in northern operations. Main attacks usually are directed against the flanks or rear areas while supporting attacks are directed against the enemy front to hold him in position. An additional force may be employed to bypass the enemy position and cut enemy routes of reinforcement or withdrawal.
b. The most mobile troops are used to breach the enemy lines of communication.
2-13. Control Measures
Axes of advance normally are used to control forward movement during offensive operations. Boundaries forming a zone of action, maybe used if terrain permits designating discernible boundaries. In barren, flat terrain, an azimuth may be used to indicate the direction of attack. Intermediate objectives and phase lines are assigned as necessary to control the attack and seize key terrain.
Coordination is extremely important in northern operations. At times, the distance between two enveloping forces may become so great that messages must be relayed. The radio relay capability of Army aircraft permits significant extension of the range of ground tactical radio equipment.
2-15. Attack of an Organized Position
a. Commanders inform their staff officers as early as possible of all aspects concerning the concept for conducting the attack, so that an attack order can be formulated as far in advance as possible. This applies in particular to the logistical officer whose arrangements for logistical support are most likely to require additional time in northern operations.
b. Reconnaissance is initiated early on a wide front with missions of determining enemy locations and reconnoitering routes and terrain, including terrain in enemy hands.
c. Harassment of the enemy is started simultaneously with reconnaissance and is executed by patrols, limited to objective attacks, and interdiction by aircraft and field artillery.
d. Prepared fires of supporting field artillery and mortars are closely coordinated. Forward observer parties are included in Infantry reconnaissance patrols and in combat patrols. Preparation of firing positions for supporting weapons is begun early as it is likely to be time consuming.
e. Engineer reconnaissance troops should be included in infantry reconnaissance patrols. Bridging equipment and materials are moved well forward to be ready for use when needed.
f. The communication plan is made in detail and must provide measures for overcoming difficulties peculiar to northern operations and the northern environment.
g. Supply reserves are kept mobile when possible. It may be necessary to establish distributing points in forward areas.
h. Aerial photos of enemy positions, terrain and routes thereto should be taken when possible prior to the attack.
2-16. Preparation for the Attack
a. When reconnaissance is completed and other preliminary measures taken for the attack, trails are opened to assembly areas. If the distance is not too great, these trails are not opened until the day before troops plan to move. Wire communications, when used, are laid simultaneously with breaking of trails.
b. Movement to assembly areas is executed the night before the attack unless conditions of low visibility deny enemy daytime observation. Guides must be provided.
2-17. Movement to Line of Departure
A halt is made in the assembly areas only long enough to feed and prepare troops for the attack. Vehicles are dispersed and artillery moved to prepared positions and camouflaged or concealed. Troops remain in the assembly area for the minimum length of time necessary to prepare for the attack. Supporting weapons are moved to selected firing positions.
2-18. Conduct of the Attack
a. The attack may be conducted by the infantry on foot, skis, and snowshoes or transported by tanks or personnel carriers or helicopters. Techniques of conducting the attack are as in normal operations, except when troops are using skis or snowshoes.
b. When the attack is conducted on skis or snowshoes, the attack formation should facilitate use of trails broken by the lead elements of the attacking force. Every attempt is made to get as close as possible to the enemy before delivering assault fire. Whenever possible, the attack on skis or snowshoes should be conducted downslope. Troops do not disperse or halt to fire until reaching the assault position or enemy fire becomes effective. Final coordination lines should generally be closer to the enemy during winter than during summer especially if the assault is made on foot through snow. The decision as to whether the assault is to be conducted on skis, snowshoes, or foot must be made by the commander based upon existing conditions. If skis or snowshoes are removed in the attack they should be brought forward during reorganization.
c. In continuing the attack, special efforts are directed toward rapid displacement of close-support weapons using sleds or vehicles. Supply routes are prepared as far forward as possible to facilitate unit distribution.
d. The relief of committed units is executed as under normal conditions with consideration being given to rapid relief of assault elements to bring them back to warm shelter. Warming tents, if needed, are moved to the closest available concealment by each unit responsible.
The exploiting force is aided by cross-country vehicles and aircraft. The pursuit force, which must have high mobility, is mounted, on skis, vehicles, or helicopters. Airborne or airmobile troops are positioned near defiles to block the retreat of the enemy. During summer, waterways may be used by the pursuing force as a means of moving patrols behind the enemy to destroy bridges and erect road blocks along the enemy lines of retreat.
2-20. Security in the Offensive
When attacking units have large gaps between them and ffanks are vulnerable, patrol and surveillance requirements increase. Basically, however, security requirements in the offense during northern operations are no different than in more temperate zones.
a. The defensive is assumed for the same general reasons as in other areas. It may be necessary in northern operation to assume a defensive posture for short periods during breakup or freezeup seasons, snow storms, or extremely low temperatures. The defense may also be assumed to encourage the enemy to attack under unfavorable conditions, such as in long, narrow passes or through deep snow and obstacles where movement is difficult.
b. Defensive actions are difficult in extreme cold because of the requirement to keep troops warm and in condition to fight. However, improved opportunities for the success of the defense and counterattack exist since an enemy force may be exposed to the elements especially if warming equipment and other logistical support has not accompanied him. The breakup season is favorable to the defender because trafficability is poor for the attacker.
c. Conduct of the defense under northern conditions is the same as under other conditions. The tendency to remain shelter bound must be resisted. Strong combat patrols are used to harass the enemy flanks and rear.
d. All-round defense is essential since attacks may be launched from any direction. During spring, summer, and fail a mobile defense is extremely difficult because of trafficability.
e. Routes of supply are often attacked by enemy patrols, therefore, supply personnel must be capable of defense at all times. In rear installations, area security and damage control plans are made and a warning system established. Special attention is paid to possible landing areas, such as lakes or rivers. When necessary, combat units will furnish escorts for supply columns.
f. Defense positions located in deep snow suffer less from the effects of enemy fire. Dense forests, thickets, fallen timber, cliffs, and other natural obstructions collect snow and create obstacles to the attacker. Rocks and fallen tree trunks may become tank obstacles. The effectiveness of natural terrain obstacles can easily be increased. The enemy use of frozen waterways can be denied by laying mine fields in the ice as described in FM 31-70.
g. Tents are sunk into deep snow or into the ground and protected by embankments. If the defense is to be of long duration, heated underground shelters are constructed and tents are eliminated. It must be remembered, however, that extensive engineer work is required to build underground shelters during the winter. In some areas, high water tables may preclude construction of underground bunkers and positions. Medical aid stations and command posts are also located in underground shelters for protection from enemy fire. Warm shelters are constructed for reserves. Areas in the defense where there is little snow, or which are easily traversed by the enemy, are reinforced with artificial obstacles such as wire entanglement (especially concertina wire), pitfalls, abatis, antitank mines, and antipersonnel mines and are covered by fire. Deception techniques are practiced extensively. Seasonal changes will affect defense positions. The breakup season usually will destroy positions built during the winter. Positions or obstacles built during the summer may be made useless by heavy snow fall.
h. Special attention must be directed toward maintaining battle preparedness in winter. While resting in forward positions, men must be ready for combat. Constant care must be taken that all weapons are prepared for immediate use. Firing positions must be kept clear of snow. Guards are rotated and inspected constantly.
i. Proper security of a defensive position requires the location of living and fighting positions for the security force on the outer perimeter. A warning system is established from the security force position to the forward defense force position. All movement on the outer edge of the perimeter and in the vicinity of the living-fighting positions is kept to a minimum to preclude observation or attack by hostile air and ground forces.
2-22. Defense Positions
Strong points should be located on elevated terrain. The value of elevated defense positions is greater during winter than under normal conditions because the enemy must attack up hill in snow.
2-23. Composition and Location of Reserves
An aggressive defense requires the formation of a proportionately large reserve with maximum cross-country mobility. Individual oversnow equipment, oversnow vehicles, personnel carriers, or helicopters are used to obtain this mobility. Airmobile reserves may be stationed farther away. In selecting a location for the reserve, consideration must be given to the importance of rest as well as to the probable area of employment. The major portion of the reserve is placed in covered and concealed positions, protected from enemy light artillery fire, while the remainder may be placed closer to the front lines. Trails and roads to the probable points of action are prepared for the reserve troops and are kept open during snow storms by elements of the reserve. So far as is possible the roads and trails should be camouflaged.
Retrograde operations are executed as in normal operations. In the north, suitable conditions are frequently present for leaving strong combat patrols up to a strength of one or two platoons to harass or ambush the advancing enemy. Surprise attacks can be launched against columns of vehicles and troops at natural defiles. In some cases, it may be desirable, prior to the withdrawal, to establish hidden caches of food and ammunition for the use of the troops that have been left behind to ambush the enemy.
Withdrawal is best effected at night or under conditions of reduced visibility when enemy reactions are slowest. Trails are broken rearward from positions before withdrawal commences and may be mined as the rear guard withdraws. If a daylight withdrawal becomes necessary, smoke may be used to good effect. Oversnow mobility is exploited to the maximum. During the withdrawal, troops destroy all abandoned shelter that can be used by the enemy. Maximum use is made of mines, traps, and abatis. Airmobile covering forces or air cavalry may be employed to good advantage to cover withdrawals.
Airmobile operations are particularly adaptable to ground operations in northern regions. Generally, northern areas are devoid of the vast air, rail, and road networks common in temperate areas. The northern areas are sparsely settled and small communities are often separated by great distances and isolated from the outside except by small aircraft, watercraft or other, often slow and primitive, means of transportation. The terrain presents numerous formidable obstacles such as mountains, swift rivers, extensive lake systems, snow, large expanses of swamp, muskeg, and dense stands of timber and brush. Airmobile forces can bypass these obstacles and move rapidly with ground combat and support forces arriving in the objective area ready to fight. Reinforcements can be rapidly deployed to the battle area in minimum time. Support can be accomplished rapidly and effectively under all but the most adverse weather conditions. Conventional doctrine is as applicable to northern operations as it is to the more temperate regions of the world. However, some modifications to operating procedures are required to overcome the limitation imposed by the environmental conditions.
2-27. Special Factors Affecting Northern Airmobile Operations
a. Standard Operating Procedure. The capability of ground combat units and Army aviation units to conduct airmobile operations must be developed through the conduct of frequent airmobile unit training exercises and the development of unit standard operating procedures (SOP) for northern operations.
b. Loading Plans. SOP should contain detailed primary and alternate loading plans for all types of helicopters available in the theater. The aviation mission commander or the aviation unit liaision officer advises and assists the airmobile task force commander in preparing loading plans based on the lift capabilities of the aircraft. Specific considerations must be given to increased weight and to the special equipment required for cold weather, mountain and glacier operations. On most missions fully loaded rucksacks will be carried. So far as is possible, the ahkio, with shelter and supplies and skis or snowshoes must accompany the personnel on the same aircraft. Additional time is required for loading and unloading with winter clothing and equipment. Protection against subzero temperatures and other adverse weather conditions may be required when considering external loads.
c. Missions. Missions for the northern airmobile force are the same as those in other areas with two possible exceptions, these are mountain and glacier, and search and rescue operations.
d. Weather. Weather minimums must be established early in the planning to prescribe the least acceptable weather in which the task force commander will permit the operation to be mounted. Weather factors which must be considered in planning and conducting northern airmobile operations include: temperature, density altitude, wind speed and direction, icing, visibility, turbulence, and snow and ice conditions. Current aviation weather forecasts are mandatory. Weather forecasts notwithstanding, the best source of weather information is an on the scene report made by a pilot in flight in the area of interest. If possible, a weather reconnaissance flight should be made if weather is marginal or shows signs of deteriorating.
e. Aeromedical Evacuation. Plans must be made for aeromedical evacuation-of the airmobile task force casualties. The evacuation problem is of immediate urgency during periods of subzero temperatures, because in addition to battle casualties, casualties from cold injury are likely to increase.
f. Night or Limited Visibility Operations. The tactical situation may dicate the conduct of airmobile operations during darkness or periods of limited visibility. This is particularly true in the northern latitudes because of the short periods of daylight during the winter months. Flares, helicopter-mounted searchlights, night vision devices, and other suitable techniques may be used to illuminate the area of operations. Airmobile operations may be conducted during bright moonlight nights on snow covered terrain, with little or no artificial light. Areas with deep powdered snow should be avoided or the interval between helicopters greatly increased if more than one aircraft is to land simultaneously.
g. Security Forces. Because of the greatly expanded area of responsibility found in a perimeter-type formation of an airmobile operation, it usually is necessary to economize on the use of security forces. The security force is further reduced because of the requirements to off-load equipment and construct warming shelters during cold weather operations. A single security echelon forward of the objective area defense line may be all that is practicable. When combating highly trained ski troops, it is desirable that all-around perimeter security be maintained because of the secrecy and speed with which ski troops can attack. The forces for the security echelon normally are provided by the forward elements. To enhance early security for the airmobile assault and to avoid the tiresome tasks of breaking trail through deep snow, thick brush or soft muskeg, security forces may land directly on their positions. Air cavalry or other armed aircraft, may be employed to extend the range of security operations.
(1) The small unit leader must be assured that he has all of the equipment required to accomplish the mission and to sustain his unit under the most adverse climatic conditions. During subzero temperatures individuals must carry their existence load (FM 31-70) at all times. So far as is possible loading plans must provide room for the squad ahkio with shelter and supplies on the same aircraft as the personnel.
(2) During the winter, skis and snowshoes for all personnel must be carried on each helicopter and should be tied together to conserve space and for ease and speed in loading and off-loading. Skis not tied in a bundle must be carried under the arms parallel to the ground to prevent them from striking the rotor blades on the helicopters. The situation permitting, a trail should be broken to the exact landing site, a landing pad should be prepared and the individual's skis or snowshoes removed and lashed together to reduce loading time. Troops must not be on the landing site at time of touch down.
i. Landing Zone.
(1) During winter operations, frozen lakes should be used as landing zones. Ice thickness should be checked by pathfinders before landings are attempted (table 2). The use of lakes as landing zones offer many desirable characteristics; approaches to and from the LZ will be relatively unobstructed; snow depth will in most cases be less than in sheltered areas; troops can find ready concealment in trees and vegetation around the lake; and the lake offers a ready-made landing strip for ski equipped fixed wing aircraft.
(2) Because of the slowness in unloading troops and equipment from helicopters during winter operations, initial landings should not be made in a defended or "hot" landing zone. The landing zone should therefore be in an undefended or lightly defended area as close as possible to the objective area.
j. Landing Operations in Deep Snow. When landing operations are conducted in deep snow, specific techniques are necessary by the airmobile force.
(1) Because of blowing snow and loss of visibility near the ground (fig 2-2), helicopters may have to be spaced as much as 100 meters (110 yds) apart or may be staggered into the landing zone at 20 to 30 second intervals in powder snow conditions. On wind blown, hardpacked, or crusted snow, the interval between helicopters may be reduced.
(2) Individuals exit utility helicopters with their own equipment and move perpendicular to the line of flight, breaking trail through the snow. On medium cargo helicopters, personnel should move to the rear following the helicopter ski tracks when debarking. Other personnel follow the trail made by the lead man. Personnel should move approximately 50 meters (55 yds) or one-half the distance to other helicopters to avoid the maximum wind chill effect and blowing snow created by the rotor down-wash of the helicopters. Personnel within the radius of the rotor down-wash must protect their faces by turning away from the main blast and pulling the winter hood over their heads and around the face. After departure of the aircraft, individuals should check each other for frostbite.
(3) Unit equipment, ahkios and bundled skis or snowshoes, are unloaded as soon as the personnel have exited the aircraft. The equipment must be pulled away from the skis of the helicopter. Small items of equipment must not be thrown into the snow where they may become lost or blown up into the rotors.
(4) When the enemy does not have an aerial surveillance capability, various dyes may be used on the snow to mark the landing zone for easier identification on subsequent lifts.
(5) When unloading in the landing area, troops will frequently be completely disoriented. A crew member of individual aircraft should tell the troop commander, as a minimum, which direction is north in relation to which way the aircraft is facing. Direction can easily be established for the ground commander by landing the helicopter in a predetermined direction. Troop commanders should orient themselves as completely as possible prior to touch down so that squad, platoon, and company assembly can be accomplished with the least practicable delay.
k. General Procedures and Safety.
(1) During extreme cold conditions, troop warming areas must be established in the immediate vicinity of the pickup zone and also in the vicinity of the landing zone, if the tactical situation permits. Delays caused by below weather minimums are frequent in northern areas. Weather decisions should be made as close to the pickup time as possible. Locating troops in warming areas immediately adjacent to the pickup zone simplifies operational requirements. Troops are then readily available and can react to the most recent developments with least delay and are not exposed to the cold during periods of relative inactivity when delays are encountered. Reserve units which must be immediately available for pickup will require warming tents at the pickup zone while waiting to be committed.
(2) Certain procedures and safety requirements are similar for both loading and off-loading helicopters. In cold weather and deep snow conditions, certain precautions take on increased importance and must be continuously emphasized during training and in all operations. The aircraft commander is the responsible person regarding safety procedures. To insure maximum safety, all personnel should be frequently briefed on the dangers of loading and off-loading. The most crucial areas to be concerned with in this briefing are the main and tail rotor blades, and the methods of approach and departure from the aircraft. When operating in deep snow the vertical clearance under the rotor blades is drastically reduced, thus creating a hazard for personnel departing and approaching the aircraft. The UH-1D may sink in the snow approximately 61 cm (2 ft), reducing the normal 236 cm (7 ft 9 in) clearance to approximately 152 cm (5 ft). The helicopter should be approached and departed only when cleared by the crew chief. Do not walk directly forward or aft of utility helicopters. Equipment such as individual weapons, skis and snowshoes must be carried under the arms parallel to the ground to prevent them from striking the rotor blades. Under no conditions should items be carried on the shoulder when loading or off-loading the aircraft.
(3) Door gunners normally will not be used in cold weather operations because of the possibility of the gunners, flight crew, and passengers getting frostbite because of the open doors. Suppressive fires must then be conducted by attack helicopters. It may also be desirable to eliminate door gunners at other times in order to increase ground combat power when limited lift is available or distances are greatly extended.
(4) During lengthy flights the interior temperature of the helicopter should be kept relatively cool (40oF.) to avoid overheating troops dressed in cold weather clothing.
(5) Attack helicopters provide aerial escort and fire support to the airmobile force the same as in summer operations; however, over-reliance on aircraft rocket point detonating munitions should be avoided because the fragmentation achieved by thin-skinned ground burst munitions will be minimal in deep snow.
l. Detailed Doctrinal Guidance. For detailed doctrinal guidance on airmobile operations, see FM 57-35.
a. In the unforested regions and those areas where natural concealment of any sort is scarce or entirely lacking, it becomes increasingly important that troops be well trained and familiar with operations both at night and under conditions of low visibility arising from blowing snow, mist, or fog.
b. Conditions of low visibility provide the greatest opportunities for surprise. Commanders must insure that weather forecasts and reports are constantly distributed as a matter of standing operating procedures.
2-29. Night Combat
a. Normal night combat techniques apply unchanged. Movement and control are facilitated by the increase in visibility resulting from the reflection from the snow. During a cloudy night, light conditions correspond approximately to those on a clear night, with a full moon without snow cover. On windless nights during periods of extreme cold, sound carries for great distances. Under such conditions, all troops must realize the need for silence. Otherwise, surprise is impossible to achieve and security difficult to maintain.
b. If the snow has thawed during the day, it usually freezes at night making movement noisier but easier than by day. During the spring breakup, daytime thawing usually will restrict the use of roads to night hours.
2-30. Combat During Snowstorms
a. Combat operations are sometimes assisted by high winds and snow storms which cover sound and obscure movement. Close reconnaissance and attack are possible under the cover afforded by such conditions. The associated high windchill and the lack of visibility demand a high degree of training on the part of all troops. Compact formations, simple plans, detailed instructions, limited objectives, and positive means of identification should be employed.
b. Accurate timing is required so that troops do not remain exposed for prolonged periods of time. If the equivalent chill temperature is low, the attack should be carried out downwind, if possible, forcing the enemy to face into it.
c. In the defense, particular precautions against surprise must be taken during blizzard conditions. The number of listening patrols must be increased and continual checking will be necessary to insure that sentries maintain a vigilant watch, particularly to the windward and most dangerous flank.
2-31. Combat Under Whiteout and Fog Conditions
In snow covered terrain, ground irregularities are visible only by the shadow they cast. Under overcast the contrast is diminished, and in whiteout or fog it disappears entirely. Movement under such conditions is extremely difficult, and progress is appreciably reduced. In hilly or mountainous country, it may be dangerous since angles of slope cannot be estimated nor can changes in terrain be recognized.
At night and under other conditions of low visibility, there is marked difficulty in distinguishing friendly from enemy troops when both are wearing white. Distinctive markings and signals are necessary.
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