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This section outlines the information needed and the decision-making process required for executing survivability missions. Increased engineer requirements on the AirLand battlefield will limit engineer resources supporting survivability. Mobility, countermobility, survivability (M-CM-S), and general engineering requirements are in competition for the same engineer assets. Survivability requirements are compared with the tactical need and the need for mobility and countermobility operations. The maneuver commander sets the priorities which allow the force to perform critical tasks. The successful force must have enough flexibility to recognize and make immediate necessary changes on the battlefield.


Both the commander and staff are involved in the military decision-making process. It provides courses of action for the commander and, by selecting the best course, enhances survivability. The staff input in the decision-making process for planning survivability missions includes:

  • Military intelligence (enemy activity, terrain, weather, and weapon types).

  • Operations (tactical maneuver, fire support, and engineer support).

  • Administration/logistics (personnel and combat services support activities).

  • Civil affairs (civilians possibly affected by military operations).


The engineer prepares or assists in the preparation of survivability estimates and plans to support the survivability efforts of the entire unit. In organizations without a staff engineer, the operations officer performs the analysis and formulates survivability plans. The following sequence is used to develop survivability support options and plans.

  • Mission and commander's guidance are received.

  • Time available is considered.

  • Threat situation and Threat direct and indirect assets are analyzed.

  • Friendly situation and survivability support resources are evaluated.

  • Survivability data, including terrain analysis results, is evaluated.

  • Possible courses of action are developed.

  • The Survivability portion of the engineer estimate is prepared.

  • Courses of action constraints are compared with actual engineer resources available.

  • Plans are prepared, orders are issued, and staff supervision is conducted.

The survivability planning process is completed when the survivability estimates and plans are combined with those for mobility, countermobility, and general engineering. The maneuver commander then has a basis for deciding task priorities and allocating support.



Information on mission, enemy, terrain and weather, time, and troops (METT-T) is compiled.

The Mission

Subordinate commanders/leaders must understand the maneuver commander's mission and guidance. The commander/ leader must know what survivability tasks are necessary and how they interface with mobility, countermobility, and other tasks necessary for completing the mission. In addition, the commander/leader implementing survivability tasks must know if any additional support is available.

The Enemy

The maneuver commander and engineer must fully understand the threat to the force. Weapon types, probable number of weapons and rounds, and types of attack to expect are critical in survivability planning. When these factors are known, appropriate fighting and protective positions are designed and constructed.

Terrain and Weather

One of the most important sources of information the maneuver commander and supporting engineer receive is a detailed terrain analysis of the area. This analysis is provided by the division terrain team (DTT) or corps terrain team (CTT). It includes the types of terrain, soil, and weather in the area of operations. A good mental picture of the area of operations enables the commander to evaluate all M-CM-S and general engineering activities to create the best plan for attack or defense.


Every survivability mission has a deadline for reaching a predetermined level of protection. Hardening activities will continue past the deadline and are done as long as the force remains in the position. Survivability time constraints are deeply intertwined with mobility and countermobility time constraints. If the level of protection required cannot be achieved in the time allotted, resources are then committed to mobility or countermobility operations, or as designated by the maneuver commander.

Troops and Resources

The commander must weigh available labor, material constraints, and engineer support before planning an operation. Labor constraints are identified through analysis of the three sources of labor-maneuver unit troops, engineer troops, and indigenous (host nation/local area) personnel. Supply and equipment constraints are identified through analysis of on-hand supplies, naturally-available materials, and supplies available through military and indigenous channels. Careful procurement consideration is given to available civilian engineer equipment to supplement military equipment.


The maneuver force commander and engineer must have access to available intelligence information provided by staff elements. Battalion S2 sections provide the bulk of reconnaissance and terrain information, and experts at the division level and above assist the commander. For example, the DS terrain team, the production section of the division tactical operations center (DTOC) support element, and the corps cartographic company can quickly provide required terrain products. In addition, the commander uses the division intelligence system which provides the Threat order of battle and war-damaged key facilities. When reconnaissance requirements exceed the capability of battalion reconnaissance elements, maneuver or supporting engineer units collect their own information.


When the engineer or maneuver units have collected all data required for protective construction, the data is analyzed to evaluate possible courses of action. Alternatives are based on the commander's guidance on protection needs, priorities, and planning.


Although the decision on what is to be protected depends on the tactical situation, the following criteria are used as a guide:

  • Exposure to direct, indirect, and tactical air fire.

  • Vulnerability to discovery and location due to electronic emissions (communications and radar), firing signature, trackable projectiles, and the need to operate in the open.

  • Capability to move to avoid detection, or to displace before counterfire arrives.

  • Armor suitable to cover direct small caliber fire, indirect artillery and mortar fire, and direct fire antitank weapons.

  • Distance from the FLOT which affects the likelihood of acquisition as a target, vulnerability to artillery and air bombardment, and chance of direct contact with the enemy.

  • Availability of natural cover.

  • Any unique equipment item, the loss of which would make other equipment worthless.

  • Enemy's engagement priority to include which forces the Threat most likely will engage first.

  • Ability to establish positions with organic equipment.

Using these factors in a vulnerability analysis will show the maneuver commander and the engineer which maneuver, field artillery, and ADA units require the most survivability support. The table Equipment to be Protected lists weapons systems in these units requiring fighting position/protective position construction.


Based on a vulnerability analysis of systems that need protecting in the tactical situation, the maneuver commander develops the priorities for protective activities. Setting survivability priorities is a manuever commander's decision based on the engineer's advice. Using the protection criteria discussed earlier, and an up-to-date detailed terrain analysis portraying the degree of natural protection, a commander develops and ranks a detailed tactical construction plan to support survivability efforts. This detailed plan is usually broken down into several priority groupings or levels of protection. Primary, supplementary, and alternate positions are developed in stages or in increasing increments of protection.

The table below shows example standard survivability levels for maneuver units in defensive positions. The levels and figures developed in the table are usually used by the maneuver commander in developing priorities, and by the engineer in advising the commander on survivability workloads. The number of vehicles or weapons systems in the table is modified after comparing with the actual equipment on hand. The table is used as a general planning guide. Weapon systems, such as missiles and nuclear-capable tube artillery, will require the maximum protection the tactical situation permits, regardless of whether the force is in an offensive or defensive posture.

In the Offense

In offensive operations, fighting and protective positions are developed whenever time is adequate, such as during a temporary halt for regrouping and consolidation. Recommended priorities for protection at a halt in the offense are-

  • Antitank weapons.

  • Tanks.

  • Indirect fire weapons.

  • Critical supplies, such as ammunition and POL, as well as ground vehicles and aircraft (rotary winged).

These positions are usually expedient positions having the thickness necessary for frontal and side protection, making maximum use of the terrain.

In the Defense

In defensive operations, substantial effort for fighting and protective position construction is required. General priorities for protective construction in a defensive battle position are-

  • Antitank weapon protection.

  • Tank position development.

  • Armored personnel carrier (APC) position development.

  • Command post position hardening.

  • Combat support position (including field artillery, ADA, mortars, and so on) hardening.

  • Crew-served weapons position, individual fighting position, and covered routes between battle positions.


Operations Staff Officer

Priorities of work are recommended by the maneuver operations staff officer with input from the engineer. Survivability requirements for a defensive operation might receive the commander's first priority for engineer work. However, these tasks may require using only 10 percent of the engineer resources, while countermobility tasks may demand 70 percent.

The maneuver commander establishes engineer work priorities and sets priorities for tasks within the functions just mentioned. Using an analysis of what equipment requires protection, what priorities are set for sequential protection of the equipment, and which equipment and personnel require immediate protection, the maneuver commander can set individual priorities for survivability work.

Engineer Staff Officer

Survivability data and recommendations are presented to the commander or supported unit through an engineer staff estimate. The engineer estimate includes a recommendation for task organization and mobility, countermobility, survivability, and general engineering task priorities. Instructions for developing the engineer estimate are contained in FM 5-100.

Tasks Organizations

Various command and support relationships under which engineer assets are task-organized can enhance mission accomplishment. The available assets are applied to each original course of action in a manner best suited to the METT-T factors and the survivability analysis. The table below lists the different command and support relationships and how they affect the engineer unit. The recommended command relationship for engineers is operational control (OPCON) to the supported unit.



Operations orders (OPORDs) are used by the commander or leader to carry out decisions made following the estimating and planning process. Survivability missions are usually prescribed in the OPORD for all units, including both engineers and nonengineers. Survivability priorities are specifically defined in the OPORD. Field Manual 5-100 discusses engineer input to OPORDs. It is impossible to divide responsibilities in survivability missions between the maneuver commander and the engineer commander.

Maneuver Commander

The maneuver commander is responsible for organizing, planning, coordinating, and effectively using engineer resources to accomplish the survivability mission. The maneuver commander must rely on the engineer staff officer or supporting engineer commander to provide analyses and recommendations for protective construction and fighting position employment. The commander implements decisions by setting priorities and further defining the constraints of the mission to the engineer.

Engineer Commander

The engineer commander, in addition to fulfilling advisory responsibilities to the maneuver commander, accomplishes tasks in support of the overall survivability mission as follows:

  • Insures timely reports concerning survivability tasks are made to the engineer staff officer or the operations and plans officer (G3/S3).

  • Develops survivability operational plans.

  • Insures engineer tasks are supervised, whether or not they are performed using engineer labor.

  • Inspects fighting and protective positions for structural soundness.

  • Provides advice and repair estimates for fighting and protective positions built or occupied by supported units.

  • Recommends and identifies uses for engineer support in survivability operations through the sequence of command and staff actions.

  • Evaluates terrain to determine the best areas for construction of survivability systems.

Joint Responsibilities

Based on knowledge of fighting and protective position effectiveness and protection ability, the engineer continues to advise the maneuver commander on survivability matters following the location, construction, and/or repair of these positions. The engineer provides valuable information to aid in decision-making for deployment to alternate and supplementary positions and retrograde operations. The engineer keeps the maneuver commander informed on the level of fighting that the existing fighting and protective positions support, and what protection the covered routes provide when movement between positions occurs.


The engineer staff officers' (Brigade Engineer, Assistant Division Engineer) responsibilities include Coordination of mobility, countermobility, survivability, and general engineering tasks on the battlefield. As a special member of the commander's staff, the engineer interacts with other staff personnel. This is accomplished by integrating survivability considerations with plans and actions of the other staff members. Staff responsibilities concerning survivability plans and execution are as follows.


The G2/S2 is the primary staff officer for intelligence matters and has responsibility for collecting information on Threat operations and types and numbers of weapons used. Using all available intelligence sources to predict enemy choices for avenues of approach, the G2/S2 assists in survivability emplacement. It is the responsibility of the G2/S2 to receive survivability emplacement records from the G3/S3, disseminate the information, and forward records to the senior theater Army engineer.


The G3/S3 has primary staff responsibility for all plans and operations, and also develops the defensive and fire support plans considering survivability and other engineering support. The G3/S3 also receives progress/ completion reports for survivability construction and emplacement and records this information in conjunction with mobility and countermobility records (for example, minefield and obstacle records). The G3/S3 works closely with the staff engineer to develop the engineer support plans for the commander.


The G4/S4 is the primary staff coordinator for the logistic support required for survivability tasks. The G4/S4 works closely with the staff engineer to insure that types and quantities of construction materials for survivability emplacements are available. The G4/S4 also coordinates with the engineer to supply additional transportation and equipment in accordance with the commander's priorities for engineer support. Engineers alone do not have the assets to haul all of the class VI material necessary for hardened survivability positions.

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