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The object of battle is to win. TO WIN, ONE MUST ATTACK. Both offensive and defensive operations are aggressive--both are conducted to gain and maintain the initiative. This chapter provides the foundation for offensive actions. It discusses the concept of infantry attacks and the planning and conduct of offensive operations.

Section I


Most infantry battalion operations are offensive operations. Attacking battalions must identify the decisive point in the enemy's defense, choose a form of maneuver that avoids the enemy's strength, and concentrate the effects of their combat power against the decisive point.


Infantry battalions undertake offensive operations--

  • To defeat enemy forces.
  • To secure key or decisive terrain.
  • To deprive the enemy of resources.
  • To gain information.
  • To deceive and divert the enemy.
  • To hold the enemy in position.
  • To disrupt an enemy attack.


Successful offensive operations are characterized by surprise, concentration, speed, flexibility, and audacity.

a. Surprise. Surprise is achieved by striking the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared. The enemy may learn of the attack, but he must do so too late to react effectively.

(1) The shock of an unexpected attack slows enemy reactions, overloads his command and control system, and reduces the effectiveness of his weapons. This allows the attacker to quickly overcome the defender.

(2) The attacker's initiative allows him to choose the time, place, and means of battle. Surprise is enhanced by striking the enemy's flank or rear; by infiltrating; or by rapidly, unexpectedly inserting combat forces to the enemy's rear.

(3) The shock of surprise is brief, so the attacker must exploit it and deny the enemy time to regain his equilibrium.

b. Concentration. Concentration of the battalion's combat power on the enemy at the point of the attack is required.

(1) The lethality of modern weapons--especially artillery and NBC weapons--increases the threat to massed formations. The battalion must avoid patterns or obvious movements that reveal the time or direction of its attack. Security, deception, tactical mobility, and proper use of terrain and weather are vital to success. Other ways to concentrate the effects of the battalion's weapons on the enemy include the following:

(a) Designate the main effort, focus the resources to support it, and prepare to shift it rapidly.

(b) Synchronize direct fires, indirect fires, and CAS. Weight the main effort with indirect fire assets, aviation, or CAS, which can be shifted rapidly as the situation changes.

(c) Integrate CS and CSS assets. Organize and coordinate support well to give the battalion the sustainment required for success.

(2) Reconnaissance and surveillance are important to allow the attacker to focus the combat power of his weapons on the weakness of the enemy.

c. Speed. Speed is vital to infantry offensive operations. Speed can prevent the enemy from using effective countermeasures. Speed and surprise together compensate for a lack of mass; they deny the enemy the time to recover or to identify the main effort and react effectively.

(1) Speed must not be confused with haste. General Patton, who stressed the efficient use of time in all his operations, carefully distinguished haste from speed.

"Haste exists when troops are committed without proper reconnaissance, without the arrangement for proper suppoting fire, and before every available man has been brought up. The result of such an attack will be to get the troops into action early, but to complete the action very slowly.

"Speed is acquired by making the necessary reconnaissance, providing proper artillery and other tactical support, including air support, bringing up every man, and then launching the attack with a plan so that the time under fire will be reduced to the minimum. At the battalion level, four hours spent in preparation for an attack will probably ensure the time spent under fire not exceeding thirty minutes. One hour spent in.. preparation... will most certainly ensure time under fire lasting many hours with bloody casualties. "

(2) Speed can be attained in many ways.

(a) Training and an effective command and control system that translates mental agility into decisive, quick action are needed. Mission-type orders at all echelons allow subordinates to use enemy weaknesses created by the rapid-tempo attack.

(b) Tactical mobility is enhanced by the use of movement techniques, formations, and drills that allow the force to move and react rapidly and use the terrain. Proper planning for the use of engineer, air defense, and aviation assets increases tactical mobility. Good reconnaissance and intelligence collection are vital.

(c) Responsive logistical support results in rapid resupply. This ensures the attack can continue.

d. Flexibility. Flexibility is a trait required of commanders. Combat requires that they expect uncertainties and that they be ready to exploit opportunities. To develop flexibility, commanders must develop a detailed war game. The following actions also increase battalion flexibility:

(1) Conducting IPB to learn the terrain and enemy dispositions for initial and subsequent actions.

(2) Conducting continuous reconnaissance to discover the enemy's weaknesses and ways to attack him on the flank and rear.

(3) Maintaining a reserve that can assume the mission of the main attack or exploit tactical opportunities.

(4) Establishing a command and control system that allows the commander to make and transmit timely decisions.

(5) Communicating the commander's intent by mission-type orders and FRAGOs.

e. Audacity. Audacity is the willingness to risk bold action to achieve decisive results. The audacious commander is daring, confident, and original--he is not rash.

(1) The audacious commander's actions, though quick and decisive, are based on a reasoned approach to the tactical problem and on his knowledge of soldiers, terrain, and enemy. This commander maneuvers to maintain a positional advantage over the enemy, seeks to attack the enemy on the flank or rear, and exploits success at once, even if this briefly exposes flanks. He issues mission-type orders and moves to the place on the battlefield where he can best influence the critical aspects of his attack.

(2) Boldness and willingness to accept calculated risk have always been the keystones of successful offensive action. The concept of combat power is more than the sum of a force's combat systems. Audacious commanders throughout history have used the "indirect approach." To defeat a numerically superior opponent, they strike at an unexpected time and place.


All tactical offensive actions are based on a simple and complete concept of the operation. This paragraph describes the offensive framework common to the operations of a division and its elements (Figure 3-1). Battalions can participate in combat actions in any part of this framework. They can be employed as security forces, as elements of main or supporting attacks, as reserves or, in some cases, as elements of deep or rear operations.

a. Reconnaissance and Security. The purpose of reconnaissance is to learn about the enemy or terrain. The purpose of security operations is to find the enemy before the attack begins. Security elements are sent forward and to the flanks and rear of main and supporting attacks. These elements also provide the battalion with flank and rear security. An aggressive offense inherently provides security.

b. Main Attack with Supporting Attacks. The battalion commander designates companies as the battalion's main and (if necessary) supporting attacks.

(1) The main attack accomplishes the decisive action. A company is the main attack for the battalion if the company's attack will accomplish the battalion's mission.

(2) Companies designated as supporting attacks help the main attack succeed. They can attack and seize terrain, or they can fix the enemy in position. They can also deceive the enemy about the location of the main attack and force him to commit reserves early, partially, or wrongly. Also, they can prevent enemy reinforcement in the area of the main attack.

(3) The main effort is the focus of combat power at any phase of the operation. For example, before the attack, the scout platoon may be designated as the main effort and receive priority of available combat multipliers. As units cross the LD, the main effort might shift to the company most likely to make contact with the enemy first. At the decisive point of the attack, the unit designated as the main attack also becomes the main effort.

c. Reserve Operations. The battalion achieves flexibility by having its reserves positioned to weight the main attack. The commander commits the reserve to the attack at a decisive time and place, then uses it to either exploit success or complete the mission. Reserves are committed to reinforce success, not failure.

(1) The size of the reserve depends on the commander's estimate of the situation. The less commanders know about the enemy situation, the larger the reserve should be. It must be large enough to be decisive when committed.

(2) The position of the reserve should be one that allows security from enemy targeting assets and that allows rapid movement to points of probable employment.

(3) The commander plans the reconstitution of the reserve before the attack. The reserve should be reconstituted after the initial reserve is committed. Once the battalion has committed its reserve, it reports to brigade.

d. Continuous Deep Operations. Divisions and brigades can use continuous deep operations in vital parts of the zone of attack. These operations keep the enemy off balance. Though infantry battalions may be employed in this effort, maneuver battalions conduct no separate deep operations.

e. Rear Area Operations. The battalion must secure its logistics assets to maintain offensive momentum. Rear operations ensure maneuver forces have freedom of action. These operations also ensure the continuity of CS and CSS. The battalion provides all-round security.


The five forms of maneuver describe the relationships of attacking units to each other and to the enemy. Attacks match a light infantry battalion against an enemy weakness and focus on the decisive point in the enemy defense. The estimate process provides the commander with information to select the correct form of maneuver. To accomplish its mission, the battalion can combine forms of maneuver. For example, one element of the battalion can attack frontally to fix the enemy while another element executes an envelopment. The form(s) of maneuver selected must support the intent of the commander. Infiltration, penetration, envelopment, turning movement, and frontal attack are the five forms of maneuver.

a. Infiltration. The purpose of an infiltration is to move by stealth to place a maneuver force in a more favorable position to accomplish the mission. This is a preferred form of infantry maneuver, because it permits a smaller force to use stealth and surprise to attack a larger or fortified force. Infiltration helps avoid detection and engagement (Figure 3-2). Movement is usually by foot or air but can be by vehicle or watercraft. Along with other units, an infiltrating force can attack the rear and flanks of enemy forward positions to accomplish its mission and as a means to facilitate a penetration of a larger force. It can also attack lines of communication, administrative rear installations, headquarters, CPs, and CS or CSS activities and facilities. Infiltrating units can seize key terrain, destroy critical communications nodes, and interfere with the resupply and reinforcement of enemy positions.

(1) Types. Three types of infiltration may be used.

(a) Land. Infiltration by foot is most common and is discussed in detail in this manual, but infiltration by vehicle is also possible. It is most feasible in areas with large gaps between forces or where flanks might be impossible to secure. Many infiltrations have been conducted by vehicle, especially when force-to-space ratios were small.

(b) Water. Forces can infiltrate by sea or by commander to create surprise. An infiltration inland waterway. (FM 31-25 and FM 31-11 describe various aspects of the TTP of waterborne infiltrations.)

(c) Air. (FMs 90-4,100-27, 90-26, and 31-24 provide TTP for infiltration by air.)

(2) Advantages. Infiltration can be used when enemy firepower discourages the use of another form of maneuver or when a light force is employed against a mechanized or motorized force. Infiltration can panic and disorganize an enemy oriented physically and mentally to fight to the front. This can sometimes cause the enemy to withdraw even if he is too strong to be driven out by other means.

(3) Disadvantages. The main disadvantage of an infiltration is that small infiltrating elements can be destroyed piecemeal if the defending force detects them, does not panic, and uses its full combat power. Also, successful overland infiltration requires time. An infiltration requires small-unit leaders to have excellent navigational skills. For an infiltration to be successful, all forces must link up as planned behind enemy lines.

(4) Conditions. The commander's knowledge of enemy dispositions and the battalion's ability to conceal plans and movements allow the conducted over rough, heavily wooded terrain against a widely dispersed enemy or conducted on a front with fluid positions can succeed.

(a) A rough, almost inaccessible location is best for an infiltration.

(b) Darkness and bad weather reduce the chance that the enemy will detect the infiltration.

(c) Infiltration should be conducted through areas not occupied or covered by enemy surveillance and fire.

(d) The local population should be avoided unless known to be friendly. Civilians positively confirmed as friendly can help with the infiltration and can be used as guides.

(e) Enemy electronic surveillant devices used to cover gaps must be neutralized or avoided. An active and aggressive reconnaissance provides information on enemy strengths, weaknesses, and dispositions.

(5) Training. Soldiers must be well trained before they can infiltrate successfully. Minor breaches of noise and light discipline can compromise the entire force. If compromised, the force should break contact and continue the mission. It must have an offensive frame of mind, be able to use its initiative, and be proficient in patrolling for gaps and weak points in the enemy's defense. Leaders ensure soldiers take only the required equipment and supplies.

(6) Phases. An infiltration over land can be accomplished in five phases.

(a) Patrol. Gaps are identified in the enemy position through aggressive patrolling and sound IPB. This phase is critical to determine the gaps in the enemy positions through which the unit will infiltrate.

(b) Prepare. The unit conducts troop-leading procedure.

(c) Infiltrate. The unit infiltrates the gaps, avoiding detection and engagement, and ignoring ineffective enemy fire.

(d) Consolidate. The unit infiltrates to the enemy's rear, then reassemble atone or more ORPs and prepares to complete its assigned mission.

(e) Execute. The unit completes its mission from its position of advantage to the rear of the enemy.

(7) Lane selection. One of the most important decisions a commander must make when planning an infiltration is whether to use single or multiple routes or lanes.

(a) Infiltration lanes. The battalion selects infiltration lanes based on terrain analysis, gaps in the enemy's defensive system, and locations of the enemy security elements. Lanes should offer cover and concealment. They should help soldiers avoid detection by enemy radar, sensors, surveillance, target acquisition, and NVDs. If enemy acquisition assets are unavoidable, heavy patrolling can precede use of infiltration tactics. Radio-linked sensors are jammed. The battalion uses active deception measures such as artillery fire into other sectors, diversionary attacks, feints, and ruses.

(b) Infiltration route. The battalion assigns an infiltration route if precise information is known about enemy dispositions. When detailed intelligence is unavailable, an infiltration lane is used instead.

(c) Single or multiple routes or lanes. The number of routes or lanes used depends on the size of the force to be infiltrated, the amount of detailed information available on enemy dispositions and terrain, the time available, and the number of possible routes or lanes. Without sacrificing stealth, the battalion infiltrates the largest subunit it can--for example, if the battalion can infiltrate in company-sized units and remain undetected, this is preferred to infiltrating in platoon-sized units. Normally, units will infiltrate by platoon or company; however, units may infiltrate by squad or battalion depending on METT-T. For control, speed, and responsive combat power, all infiltrating subelements move together. A single route or lane is used for ease of navigation, control, and reassembly. This decreases the size of the area for which detailed intelligence is required. Multiple routes or lanes are used to reduce the risk of compromising the entire force and to allow faster movement. However, multiple routes complicate control.

(8) Other control measures. Other measures are instituted as appropriate during infiltration planning.

(a) Roads and trails. These should be avoided. However, if they must be used, flank and rear security must be maintained. During the infiltration, radio should be used only with great caution. Using thermal imagery devices helps the infiltrating force avoid detection and contact.

(b) Rally points. These are easily identifiable places where units can reassemble or reorganize if they disperse. Rally points that provide cover and concealment are chosen along each route or lane. An ORP that does not compromise security is selected near the objective. Before they occupy it, units should reconnoiter and secure the ORP. It must be large enough to allow the infiltrating force to deploy.

b. Penetration. The infantry concentrates in a penetration to strike at the enemy's weakest point. They then break through the position to rupture the enemy's defense (Figure 3-3). A successful penetration requires the concentrated effects of all combat multipliers. This includes the use of limited visibility, stealth, and covered and concealed terrain at a selected breach point. If the METT-T analysis identifies multiple weaknesses in the enemy's position, then multiple penetrations are considered.

c. Envelopment. The basic form of maneuver is envelopment. An enveloping unit seeks to apply friendly strength against enemy weakness by striking the enemy in the flank or rear (Figure 3-4). The enemy must be forced to fight along undefended or lightly defended avenues of approach. An envelopment can also interdict the enemy's lines of communication, which reduces his ability to fight.

d. Turning Movement. The attacking force making the turning movement passes around the enemy, avoiding him entirely, to secure an objective deep in the enemy's rear area. This maneuver forces the enemy to abandon his position or to divert major forces to meet the threat (Figure 3-5). The selected objective must be along the enemy's LOC. The objective must be important enough to the enemy to cause him to abandon his forward defenses--for example, a key bridge over an unfoldable river.

e. Frontal Attack. The least desirable form of maneuver is the frontal attack. In a frontal attack, the most direct routes are used to strike the enemy all along his front. When possible, companies should try to seize their objective from a direction other than the front.

Section II


The considerations discussed in this section may be applied to all types of offensive operations. However, they must be applied IAW the command and control process explained in Chapter 2.


The scheme of maneuver is the commander's plan for placing or moving maneuver units to accomplish the mission. At battalion level, the scheme of maneuver is based on the mission, forces available, enemy, terrain, weather, space, and time. When supported by Army aircraft, the battalion can integrate air assault operations into the scheme of maneuver.


The fire support plan states how fire is allocated or executed to support the maneuver plan. The battalion commander and his FSO integrate and synchronize the firepower of FA, mortars, CAS and, when available, naval gunfire with the maneuver of combat units.


Task organization is the distribution of assets to subordinate control headquarters under the appropriate command or support relationship (Chapter 2). The brigade allocates resources to the battalion, as needed to accomplish the assigned mission, based on the brigade commander's estimate. Assets are not distributed on a "fair share" basis. If necessary, battalion commanders may request more assets from brigade. Task organization is changed during the operation only if changing conditions dictate.

a. TOWS, MK 19s, and .50-Caliber Machine Guns. These assets are usually used to support by fire and to secure the flanks of the main attack. Their main mission is to aid in the forward movement of the battalion. During limited visibility, the antiarmor platoon members can gather information through their sights.

b. Aviation Assets. These assets might be given to the commander to aid in offensive operations. Attack helicopters can target repositioning and counterattacking enemy forces and, during a movement to contact, can target exposed enemy positions. Lift assets can be used for maneuver, reconnaissance, command and control, deception (through false insertions), and CSS (depending on enemy air defense threat).

c. Tanks. These assets increase the combat power of an infantry battalion. Infantry and tank companies can be cross-attached to form task forces (Appendix D).

d. Engineers. These assets are controlled by the task force. Most missions performed by engineer units in the offense are mobility missions. However, they may also perform countermobility and survivability missions. Engineer units perform mobility missions and aid in breaching and reducing obstacles. Engineers move with the main effort and place breaching assets with the lead element. Some engineers can accompany the reconnaissance effort to identify obstacles, advise on breaching attempts, and aid in the selection of bypass routes. The engineer plan should include emplacing obstacles for flank protection during offensive operations.

e. Air Defense Artillery. Attacking maneuver elements are vulnerable to enemy CAS and attack helicopters. Stingers can be attached to the leading or overmatching company teams. Those under section or centralized control overwatch the task force maneuver and protect the combat trains and TOC. To increase forward coverage, Vulcans are left well forward under task force control.

(1) The priority of air defense protection is assigned to attacking maneuver elements when air defense missiles are available.

(2) The main means of air defense protection for the battalion is avoiding detection.

f. Ground Surveillance Radar. This asset has several uses. It can monitor enemy activity on the objective; detect movement of enemy weapons systems into firing positions; or vector friendly forces through smoke, fog, and other limited visibility conditions. GSR can also monitor potential enemy counterattack routes during the attack and after seizure of the objective.

g. Scouts. These assets form the basis of the commander's reconnaissance and surveillance effort. They can reconnoiter to determine enemy dispositions, obstacles, and minefield; they also provide guides to aid in friendly unit movement. They can screen the battalion's front, flanks, or rear during movement. They can also occupy OPs from which they can see the battle and relay information to the battalion commander. Once contact is established, scouts can move around the enemy position and provide information that allows the commander to "see" more deeply into the enemy's sector. Scouts should concentrate on the most important information requirements--they should not be overtasked.

h. Mortars. These assets are the most responsive indirect fire available to the battalion. The mortar mission is to provide close and immediate fire support to maneuver units. (Chapter 7 provides more information on this subject.)


The restated mission statement and other critical facts and deductions provide the focus for the development of the offensive concept. (Chapter 2 provides more information about developing the course of action.) The commander--

a. Begins developing the concept with the decisive point on the objective and works backward to the LD. He considers the decisive action on the objective. As required, he considers the conduct of the breach; the positions of the support, assault, and breach elements; the leaders' reconnaissance; and any maneuvers from current locations to the assault positions. Once the commander has determined potentially decisive points(s), he develops his concept.

b. Determines decisive points and the times when combat power should be focused. The brigade commander's concept may focus the battalion on a specific decisive point and time.

c. Determines the results that must be achieved at decisive point(s) to accomplish the mission. Normally, the purpose (in the battalion mission statement) clearly states the desired results for the main attack. However, the commander may be required to analyze the situation again to determine the desired results.

d. Determines the purposes to be achieved by the main and supporting efforts throughout the operation. (The purposes of the supporting efforts must be linked clearly with the purpose assigned to the main effort.)

e. Determines the tasks for each subordinate unit (main and supporting efforts) essential to achieving the selected purposes.

f. Identifies types of forces required to accomplish the mission (companies, special platoons, and CS or CSS units, as appropriate). The commander allocates assets first to the main effort, then to the supporting efforts.

g. Assigns command and control headquarter for each of the task-organized units.

h. Completes a task organization by assigning all organic or attached units.

i. Establishes control measures that clarify and support the accomplishment of the assigned mission.

j. Ensures the main effort is weighted once the essence of the concept development--the part concerned with actions at the decisive point--has been completed. He can weight the main effort--

(1) By attaching additional platoons or weapons systems.

(2) By assigning priority of fire or allocating a priority target.

(3) By limiting the area of main effort responsibility to allow it to focus on the critical action.

k. Completes the concept development--

(1) By finishing the plan for movement of the unit from its present location through consolidation.

(2) By ensuring fires are integrated into and can support the maneuver plan.

(3) By ensuring CSS operations can support the plan through consolidation.

(4) By planning for contingencies.


Obstacle breaching is the employment of a combination of tactics and techniques to project combat power to the far side of an obstacle. It is perhaps the most difficult combat task. Breaching is a synchronized combat arms operation under the control of an infantry commander. Infantry units employ breaching operations (FM 90-13-1).

a. Types. Breaching operations include in-stride, deliberate, assault, or covert breaches.

(1) In-stride breach. This rapid technique uses standard actions on contact and normal movement techniques. It consists of preplanned, well-trained, and well-rehearsed breaching actions and reduction procedures by predesignated combined arms elements. The in-stride breach takes advantage of surprise and initiative to get through the obstacle with a minimum loss of momentum. The force uses the in-stride breach against either weak defenders or against simple obstacles, and executes the breach from the march. Subordinate forces always move configured to execute an in-stride breach with organic and task-organized assets (except when a deliberate breach is planned).

(2) Deliberate bred. This technique is used when a maneuver force attacks a stronger defense or a more complex obstacle system. It is similar to a deliberate attack, requiring detailed knowledge of both the defense and the obstacle system. Subordinate elements are task-organized to accomplish the breach, and they receive specific missions and objectives for it. The deliberate breach often requires that the far side of the obstacle be secured by an assault force either before or during the reduction. Deliberate breaching operations require significant planning and preparation.

(3) Assault breach. This technique is used by the maneuver force to break a dismounted force by assaulting through enemy-protected obstacles onto the enemy position. Depending on the size and difficulty of the defensive obstacle system, the assault breaching procedure can be a variation of either the in-stride or deliberate breaching technique.

(4) Covert breach. This technique is used by light and dismounted forces to pass secretly through obstacles. The covert breach also uses elements of the deliberate or in-stride breach. Surprise is the main factor in the commander's decision to conduct a covert breach. Covert breaching means using stealth to reduce the obstacle; support and assault forces only execute their missions if the reduction is detected.

b. Organization. The commander will organize the support, breach, and assault forces with the necessary assets to accomplish their missions.

(1) Support force. The primary responsibility of this force is to prevent the enemy from interfering with the breaching operation. Suppression is critical for a successful breach; therefore, the first priority of force allocation is the support force. The commander allocates direct-fire and indirect-fire systems to achieve a support force ratio of three-to-one for the deliberate attack. The support force must accomplish the following:

(a) Isolate the battlefield with fires and suppress enemy fires covering the obstacle.

(b) Mass direct and indirect fires to fix the enemy in position and to destroy any weapons that could bring fires on the breaching force.

(c) Control obscuring smoke to prevent enemy-observed direct and indirect fires.

(2) Breach force. The primary responsibility of the breach force is to create lanes to enable the attacking force to pass through the obstacle and to continue the attack. The breach force also marks the lanes along the length of each and at entry points to speed passage of the assault and follow-on forces. The breach force is a combined arms force. It includes engineers, breaching assets, and enough infantry force to provide local security. Since the support force may not be in a position to effectively suppress all enemy direct-fire systems, the breach force must be able to provide suppressive fires. The breach force secures itself from any small threat forces providing short-range protection of the obstacle. After reducing the obstacle, the breach force may be required to secure a lodgment on the far side of the obstacle, where the assault force could deploy into an assault formation. The breach force must be able to deploy and begin reducing the obstacle as soon as enemy fires have been suppressed. The engineers with the breach force are allocated and organized by platoons and must have the breaching assets necessary to handle mines, nonexplosive obstacles, and small gaps. The breach force must be able to create at least one lane for each assaulting company; it must be able to create at least two lanes for an assaulting battalion. Once the breach force has reduced the obstacle and passed the assault force through, it hands over the lanes to follow-on units.

(3) Assault force. The primary responsibility of the assault force is to destroy or dislodge the enemy on the far side of the obstacle. The assault force secures the far side by physically occupying it. The assault force may be tasked to help the support force suppress enemy fires while the breach force reduces the obstacle. If the obstacle is defended by only a small force, the assault force mission may be combined with the breach force mission. This simplifies command and control, and provides more immediate combat power for security and suppression. The commander must be sure to leave sufficient combat power to overcome any defenders beyond the obstacle after all breaching element missions are accomplished. Fire control measures are vital to prevent fratricide, because both the support and breach forces are firing on the enemy when the assault force is committed. The support force continues to suppress overmatching enemy positions and to fix other enemy forces by fires until the enemy has been destroyed or dislodged. As support force fires are lifted or shifted, the assault force must assume control for direct fires on the assault objective. The battalion commander should allocate sufficient combat power to the assault force to achieve a three-to-one ratio on the assault objective. In the deliberate breach, the assault force maneuvers as a separate force, attacking through the breached obstacle. However, breach and assault assets may maneuver as a single force when conducting an in-stride breach.


Limited visibility is the basis for infantry battalion operations. Darkness, fog, heavy rain, and falling snow all limit visibility. A combination of technical ability (afforded by NVDs) and tactical prowess (afforded by training) allows the infantry battalion to operate routinely during these conditions. Limited visibility operations strike the defender when the range of his weapons and the mutual support between his positions are reduced.

a. Purpose. Operations are conducted during limited visibility for the following reasons:

(1) To achieve surprise.

(2) To gain positions of advantage over the enemy by stealth.

(3) To exploit success and maintain momentum.

(4) To disrupt the enemy defense by infiltrating to key terrain in his rear.

(5) To exploit US technological and training advantages.

b. Conditions. The battalion tries to conduct limited visibility attacks much like daylight attacks. However, techniques can vary. For example, units must observe more control measures during limited visibility than during daylight. Darkness complicates movement, navigation, and control. Moving and emplacing weapons take longer at night than in daylight. To simplify control, schemes of maneuver should be simple with well-defined objectives and routes. Leaders must be well forward in attacking echelons. Low light levels reduce the ranges of NVDs, and illumination adjustment must be more accurate to be useful.

c. Impact. Limited visibility conditions affect the plans of battalion and company commanders.

(1) Control of movement to the objective is difficult. Leaders down to squad level should have the chance to look at their routes and objectives during good visibility.

(2) Target acquisition is complicated by the difficulty of distinguishing friends from enemies.

(3) Radar efficiency drops in snow, rain, or fog; nonthermal NVDs help little. Thermal devices do help; they enable the user to see through most fog, rain, snow, and smoke. However, illumination during these conditions does not increase visibility and may even reduce it.

d. Other Considerations. Limited visibility operations offer advantages as well as disadvantages to both sides.

(1) Attacker. The attacker has more opportunities to infiltrate when enemy gunners and observers are restricted by limited visibility. If occupied objectives must be attacked, units can move near the enemy undetected. However, a force that must assault during such conditions also has problems, though the effects of fog, rain, or snow are seldom severe enough to disrupt control at platoon level. Artificial illumination is normally ineffective.

(2) Defender. The defender knows the terrain and has weapons laid for FPFs. However, he is at a psychological disadvantage. His fears increase, and he is less likely to maintain security. The defender loses the ability to maintain mutual support between positions; also, he can no longer effectively engage targets of opportunity. His capability to rapidly reinforce with fire or movement and to detect infiltration is severely degraded.

e. Attack of an Occupied Objective. This type of attack is one of the most difficult military operations. Successful limited visibility attacks depend on direction, control, and surprise. Direction helps focus maneuver and firepower for decisive results. Control ensures that units and fires are mutually supporting and that objectives are identifiable and achievable. Control also reduces confusion and prevents fratricide. Surprise is critical. It reduces the enemy's ability to react or focus combat power against the attacker.

(1) Attacks during limited visibility. Attacks during limited visibility must be deliberate, not hasty, due to the control problems that could otherwise result for leaders from squad to battalion level. That is, time must be allowed to gather intelligence and then to develop a simple plan that everyone understands.

(a) Simple plan. Complicated moves that require coordination between converging forces invite disaster. Once the assault begins, changing the plan is difficult.

(b) Rehearsals. Soldiers must feel confident that they know where to go and what to do. To reduce confusion, the battalion rehearses when visibility is good. Leaders down to squad level must know exactly what is expected of them.

(2) Planning considerations. The following should be considered in planning and preparation for limited visibility attacks:

(a) Reconnaissance. The battalion should perform a detailed reconnaissance of the route of march, the attack position, mortar positions, points of departure, and routes from the RPs to the PLD and to the objective under all visibility conditions. Terrain not held by friendly soldiers can be reconnoitered during the day by aircraft and from friendly vantage points. The need for detailed information about the enemy must be balanced against the risk of being detected and the loss of surprise. Reconnaissance is conducted by all leaders down to platoon level and, if time permits, to lower levels. Enemy obstacles must be located and plans made to breach or bypass them before the attack.

(b) Synchronization. Pyrotechnic signals, assault wire, or radio helps coordinate between overmatching and assault elements. Control measures, such as limits of advance, can also be used. As the battalion closes to locations where indirect fires must be shifted, the last round should be of an identifiably different type to signal that the shift has occurred. This helps to prevent fratricide from artillery fired on the objective.

(c) Visual control measures. Colored panels, arm bands, luminous strips or patterns, or other visual aids help in the control of forces. The battalion should avoid using aids that the enemy can also identify.

(d) Surprise. Surprise is achieved through speed and secrecy. Since surprise is neither constant nor lasting, it must be exploited rapidly.

(e) Scheme of maneuver. The battalion attacks in one direction only; changing direction during a limited visibility attack is difficult. By avoiding complicated movements, the battalion decreases the danger of firing on friendly soldiers. The commander planning a night attack must consider how visibility limitations will complicate controlling units, soldiers, and fires; identifying and engaging targets; navigating and moving without being detected; locating, treating, and evacuating casualties; locating and either bypassing or breaching enemy obstacles.

(f) Illumination. Units with sufficient NVDs normally conduct nonilluminated attacks to exploit their technological and training advantage. Artificial illumination is optional. However, it is always planned in case the enemy detects the attack and uses his own NVDs or illumination. Surprise can sometimes be gained by withholding illumination until the enemy either places effective fires on the attacker or illuminates the battlefield. Tactics for an illuminated attack are like those for a daylight attack. Authority to fire illumination is often retained by the battalion commander, because illumination will also expose adjacent unit operations. Illumination rounds may be fired so they hit the ground; this orients the attack by providing light and marking the objective. Illumination rounds may also be fired so they hit behind the objective and silhouette the enemy. Once illumination has begun, it should continue until the objective is secure.

(g) Supportng fires. Indirect fire is planned and used for supported attacks; it is planned only as a contingency for unsupported attacks. Even when available, indirect fire is used only if the expected gain outweighs the loss of surprise. When used, supporting fires are planned and controlled as they would be in a daylight attack. Once the assault on the objective begins, indirect fires are used to suppress and isolate the objective and to prevent or limit counterattacks. Before and during the attack, the battalion maintains routine fires on other targets. These fires should not alert the enemy; instead, their purpose is to help maintain secrecy by muffling the noise of the advancing force. Positions for supporting weapons are reconnoitered and marked, and firing data are prepared in daylight. Weapons are moved at night.

(h) Communications. The battalion maintains radio listening silence until the attack is discovered. When the enemy discovers the attack, radio listening silence is lifted. Other means of communication, such as pyrotechnic signals and electronic devices, are also planned and employed.

f. Conduct. Limited visibility assault techniques depend on the level of training and on the type and number of NVDs available to the battalion.

(1) A battalion equipped with sufficient NVDs conducts limited visibility assaults based on the same fundamentals used for daylight assaults. (FM 7-10 provides more information on NVD-aided limited visibility assaults.) This type of assault requires--

    • A battalion of soldiers who are well trained in limited visibility assaults.
    • Sufficient natural light to employ the unit's NVDs.
    • A simple, effective concept that takes advantage of the enemy's surprise and confusion.
    • A successful reconnaissance of the objective area.
    • Additional control measures, techniques, or both, as needed.

(2) The following applies to all limited visibility assaults, regardless of the type of NVDs the battalion has:

(a) The advance. Commanders remain well forward during the advance to the objective. They do this to ensure navigation, fire support, aggressive movement, and coordination. Leading elements dispose of enemy security forces encountered during the advance. This might require friendly forward elements to deploy early.

(b) Actions on the objective. A simple concept supports control during the assault. A small assault force maneuvering on the objective is easier to control and less likely to suffer casualties from friendly or enemy fires. The assault element must have clear signals to ensure control of all direct and indirect supporting fires. (FM 7-10 provides specific details about fire control techniques.)

(c) Consolidation and reorganization. The battalion sends out security elements when it seizes the objective. The purpose of these security elements is to detect enemy forces forming for counterattack. They also provide early warning of enemy reinforcements. During consolidation and reorganization, the security elements use thermal devices and passive and infrared NVDs. If they use illumination, the attacking unit will suffer from night blindness for 15 to 30 minutes after the illumination stops. Task organization should not be changed. Guides should lead trains and support elements forward to their positions. Casualties may be moved to the rear of the objective and kept there until further evacuation is possible. Before daylight, all elements should be in position, prepared to continue the attack or defend the position.

Section III


A movement to contact is an offensive operation conducted to gain or reestablish contact with the enemy. Its purpose is also to develop the tactical situation. To maintain flexibility and security when moving to contact, the battalion makes contact with the smallest element possible. This is most important for infantry battalions due to their limited mobility and dependence on restrictive terrain. Two of the techniques used most commonly by infantry battalions to conduct a movement to contact are the approach march technique and the search-and-attack technique.


The battalion tries to establish contact on ground of its own choosing and to develop the situation more rapidly than the enemy does.

a. Two contradictory factors are involved in the movement to contact-the battalion must be both aggressive and cautious.

(1) Aggressive. The battalion moves as aggressively and rapidly as the terrain and enemy situation allow. Moving too slowly can jeopardize the success of an operation by giving the enemy time to move or to fire on the force.

(2) Cautious. The battalion must avoid blundering into enemy killing zones.

b. Aviation and modem intelligence-collection devices reduce the chance of unexpected contact between combatants. However, adverse weather and rough, broken terrain increase the chance that the movement to contact will result in a chance contact between two forces.

c. Units must prepare to initiate or continue the movement to contact during limited visibility. For example, at night, approaches are harder to make, direction and control are harder to maintain, enemy forces can be more easily bypassed, and enemy kill zones can be entered more easily. To compensate for these disadvantages, the battalion uses NVDs and reduces its rate of movement (Section V).


The approach march is an advance of a combat unit when direct contact with the enemy is imminent. Troops are fully or partially deployed. The approach march ends when ground contact with the enemy is made or when an attack position is occupied. The approach march technique is the "conventional" technique for conducting a movement to contact. Using this technique, battalions normally organize into a security force, advance guard, main body, flank guards, and rear guard (Figure 3-6). These guarding elements move with and secure the main body.

a. Planning. Planners of the approach march should consider the following:

(1) The commander should assign the unit an axis of advance or a zone. He assigns a march objective to orient movement. The unit might not be required to seize, hold, or occupy the march objective. The objective can be any terrain feature that is easy to find and that is at a depth sufficient to ensure contact. If the unit does not contact the enemy before reaching the march objective, it establishes hasty defenses and seeks guidance from higher.

(2) The commander must select routes for the approach march based on his IPB. Based on guidance from the brigade commander, he should seek approaches that offer cover and concealment for the force but that allow contact with elements of any size. He should use flank and rear guards for all-round security. The well-armed guard forces should be located to protect the force and to allow the main body time to deploy if the enemy attacks.

b. Organization. The battalion organizes into a security force, advance guard, main body, flank guards, and rear guards when it is conducting the movement to contact alone.

(1) Employment of support assets. Units should be close enough that succeeding units can rapidly aid the unit ahead. However, they should be far enough apart that enemy fire falling on the leading unit does not limit the trailing unit's ability to maneuver. Support assets are used as in a search and attack except as follows:

(a) Antiarmor assets. Most antiarmor assets provide protection for forward and flank guard units. Except for the units held in reserve, antiarmor units displace forward by echelons to successive selected positions.

(b) Tanks. A tank platoon, if available, can be OPCON to the company providing the advanced guard. These tanks move under the control of the company commander and are committed with the company using tank/infantry formations and tactics (Appendix D). As they can, the tanks move by bounds to positions where they can support by fire. Employment of antiarmor assets for ovewatch frees tanks to move farther forward.

(c) Air defense. Air defense weapons are dispersed in movement formations to provide continuous air defense coverage of the battalion. In addition to moving with the main body, ADA elements can also operate from key terrain overmatching the route, cooperating with the flank guards.

(d) Engineers. Engineers are task-organized (either attached or OPCON) forward within the battalion. This ensures engineers are available to conduct an in-stride breach. Small engineer elements help scouts breach the obstacles by stealth. The engineers could be OPCON to the advance guard; engineers conduct breaching operations better as intact platoons or larger forces. Infantry should be trained and prepared to execute limited mobility/countermobility/survivability missions with or without engineer support. Information on damaged bridges and other obstacles is relayed rapidly to higher headquarters. This keeps follow-on units from "stacking up" and allows the commander time to change the route of march if required.

(e) Electronic warfare. Military intelligence assets can accompany the battalion and can be employed on threatened flanks as part of the guard force.

(f) Aviation. CAS assets are used the same as in search-and-attack operations.

(g) Close air support. Support assets are used the same as in search-and-attack operations.

(h) Artillery. Artillery must be in position to provide continuous and responsive support to leading elements. To avoid accidentally getting in front of the fires of friendly artillery, the commander and FSO must maintain close contact with supporting artillery elements. Mountainous terrain increases the need for combat aviation, close air, and mortar support. The FSO plans on-call fires on likely enemy locations (based on the IPB). As the force advances, on-call targets are updated. Using indirect fire on prominent terrain can help the battalion navigate. The FSO must also plan fires to the flanks, mainly those with high-speed avenues of approach.

(i) Mortars. The priority of battalion mortars during the approach march is to the advanced guard, because mortars can respond rapidly. The mortar platoon must prepare to engage targets at once using direct-lay, direct-alignment, or hip-shoot techniques of engagement.

(j) Command posts. The commander positions himself during the approach march so he can receive information, see the ground, and plan ahead for the deployment of his subordinate units. After the unit makes contact with the enemy, the commander should be far enough forward to influence the battle at the critical time, but not so far that he loses control of the battalion. Lateral liaison can be setup with flank units.

(2) Security forces. The battalion can employ more R&S and security forces to the front and flanks during an approach march. Depending on METT-T, security forces operate 2 to 6 kilometers forward of the advance guard. Once they find the enemy, the security force should remain oriented on him.

(a) The scout platoon is deployed forward of the battalion. The scout platoon's task is to locate the enemy. While moving to do so, it can reconnoiter routes or zones over which the battalion will advance. Because it must investigate lateral routes and check key terrain, the scout platoon might require vehicles/aircraft for increased mobility. To reduce the number of tasks each scout team must perform, more soldiers from maneuver companies might be required. If available, engineers may help scouts develop obstacle intelligence.

(b) The scout platoon tries to maintain contact with a higher unit covering force, if one is employed, or positions LOS with the covering force. Once the strength and location of enemy positions are known, the battalion deploys and the scout platoon moves to provide flank security.

(3) Advance guard. The advance guard operates 1 to 2 kilometers ahead of the main body to develop the enemy situation, to provide for the uninterrupted advance of the main body, to protect the main body from surprise, and to cover the deployment of the main body if it is committed to action (Figure 3-7).

(a) The critical tasks for the advance guard include the following:

    • Reconnaissance along the main body of advance.
    • Continuous surveillance of avenues of approach.
    • Destruction of enemy reconnaissance and security elements.
    • Prevention of enemy ground forces from engaging the main body with direct fire.

(b) The battalion can be designated as the advance guard when it is the lead element of a larger force (except for the covering force). When the battalion moves alone, the commander designates a reinforced rifle company as the advance guard. The advance guard provides its own flank and rear security.

(c) The lead element of the advance guard is a rifle squad. The squad advances steadily by traveling overwatch until it draws fire or sights the enemy. This allows the main body to advance rapidly and steadily. Rifle squads rotate for efficiency, especially after contact.

(d) The lead platoon may be reinforced with a 60-mm mortar squad from the company mortar section. If the terrain and enemy situation allow and if a vehicle is available, the vehicle can be attached to follow the platoon with a mixed load of ammunition (FLASH, bangalore torpedoes, and line charges) to eliminate enemy positions and to breach obstacles.

(e) The lead company can be reinforced with a section from the battalion mortar platoon. An engineer detachment can be added to work with the company FSO and with TACP/ANGLICO elements; this detachment can reconnoiter and breach obstacles.

(4) Flank and rear guards. Flank and rear guards are designated when enemy contact on an approach march is possible.

(a) Flank guards operate between the rear of the advance guard and the front of the rear guard to protect the flanks of the main body. Depending on METT-T, they try to operate 1 to 2 kilometers from the main body.

(b) Flank and rear guards are usually no more than platoon-sized when the battalion is conducting an independent movement to contact. Company-sized or larger guard forces from the battalion might be needed when the battalion is moving to contact as part of the brigade.

(c) Flank guards remain within supporting range of the main body. They provide information and early warning unless ordered to attack enemy forces. To enhance the effects of the artillery, engineer countermobility assets--for example, Volcano or GEMSS minelayers--are used to support the flank guard. Helicopters or vehicles can be used to "leap frog" elements. The main body must try to maintain sight contact with flank elements. Flank guard elements need radios to accomplish their mission. If antiarmor sections are operating with the flank guard, then the antiarmor radios might suffice.

(5) Main body. The main body comprises most of the battalion force when the battalion moves to contact. Units in the main body must know the situation at all times. To avoid bypassing enemy units and to prevent the enemy from infiltrating, the main body maintains local security. Commanders try to balance conservation of the battalion's fighting strength with the need for march discipline and security. Commanders lighten the soldier's load as much as possible and allow soldiers to ride when the tactical situation permits and vehicles are available.

c. Conduct of the Approach March. The battalion should follow several guidelines during movement:

(1) The battalion makes contact with the smallest possible force.

(2) The commander selects the movement technique based on the likelihood of enemy contact and speed of movement desired. Bounding overwatch provides the best security, but traveling overwatch is faster. Tanks lead if available and if the terrain allows.

(3) The commander visualizes how his force will be deployed when contact is made and moves it accordingly. He moves the battalion on either single or multiple columns.

(a) Single column. A single column is used for ease of control or when the terrain permits movement on one axis only. Its disadvantages are that it permits the enemy to achieve maximum delay with minimum force, requires more time to deploy than multiple columns, and increases the length of the column. When sufficient trafficable routes are available and the battalion commander wants a wider band of security to the front, he can organize two reinforced platoons into advance parties to move on parallel routes. Then, if one route is blocked by the enemy or is otherwise unsuitable for movement, the rest of the battalion (moving in single column) can shift to the other route. Battalions moving in single column move cross-country or by roads as required.

(b) Multiple columns. Multiple columns allow greater security to the flank, are quicker to deploy than a single column, and allow mutual support. Though this formation complicates control, multiple columns do present multiple threats to the enemy. The command group moves in the column where it can best influence the overall action. An alternate command group under control of the XO, S3, or antiarmor company commander (as designated by the TOE) can be formed to move in the other column. The columns move within supporting distance of each other and maintain contact. When the columns are widely separated and contact is not possible, separate flank guards can be established for and controlled by each column.

(4) The commander must consider other factors also, even though a single column is easier to control than multiple columns.

(a) Number of units. A battalion reinforced with several other maneuver and CS elements might be forced to move in multiple columns to reduce the length of the column.

(b) Enemy situation. The battalion should move with depth and minimum forces forward-in single column-when the enemy is known to be in a defensive posture. A mission such as a zone reconnaissance might require multiple columns.

(c) Width of zone. A wide zone favors multiple columns, particularly if the zone must be cleared.

(d) Routes. Advancement in multiple columns requires adequate maneuver space for forward and lateral routes.


The search-and-attack technique is a decentralized movement to contact, requiring multiple, coordinated patrols (squad-sized and platoon-sized) to locate the enemy. It is most often used in low-intensity conflict (Appendix C) against an enemy operating in dispersed elements. When conducting a search and attack, units can expect to spend more time operating in an area of operations rather than just "sweeping" through it. Search and attack can be conducted for many reasons. (FM 7-10 provides more information on search and attack.)

a. Purpose. The commander's concept focuses the battalion on one or more of the following:

(1) Destruction of enemy. Enemy units operating in the area must be killed or captured.

(2) Area denial. The enemy must be prevented from operating unhindered in any area--for example, in any area he is using for a base camp or for logistic support.

(3) Force protection. The enemy must be prevented from disrupting and destroying equipment, and property such as key facilities, brigade headquarters, polling places, or dams.

(4) Information collection. Intelligence preparation of the battlefield, if not provided by higher, must be done as soon as the battalion enters an area, before it conducts any of the above activities.

b. Tasks. Search-and-attack operations can be conducted in a company-sized or battalion-sized area of operations. Figure 3-8 shows an example of a unit dispersing to search and Figure 3-9, shows an example of a unit massing to attack. The unit can be tasked--

(1) To locate enemy positions or routes normally traveled by the enemy.

(2) To destroy enemy forces within its capability or to fix or block the enemy until reinforcements arrive.

(3) To maintain surveillance of a larger enemy friendly military or civilian operations, force through stealth until reinforcement arrive.

(4) To setup ambushes.

(5) To search towns or villages. (A host nation representative should accompany the search party.)

(6) To secure military or civilian property or installations.

(7) To act as a reserve.

c. Concept Development. The commander must consider the following when developing his concept:

(1) Finding the enemy. Much time may be required to pattern enemy operations. However, the commander will be effective only once the pattern has been identified.

(a) The commander may consider using another technique to find the enemy. He can subdivide his area of operations into smaller ones and have the scout platoon stay a step ahead of the rest of the battalion (Figure 3-10). The scout platoon should be reinforced for this operation. In this example, it conducts a zone reconnaissance in AO Green, while the remainder of the battalion conducts search-and-attack operations in AO Blue. At a designated time, the commander directs the battalion to link up with the scouts at Contact Point 1 to exchange information. If necessary, the scouts guide the battalion to sites of suspected or confirmed enemy activity. The scouts can then move on to reconnoiter AO Red. (This process is repeated for other areas of operations until it is stopped by the commander.) The commander may decide to emplace sensors along the border from AO Red to AO Blue to identify enemy attempts to evade the battalion. In Figure 3-10, a squad has been tasked to emplace and monitor the sensors.

(b) The successive method of reconnaissance just discussed, in which the scouts reach the area of operations before the remainder of the battalion, allows the scouts more chances to gain information on enemy activity in the area. It also helps the battalion commander focus his search-and-attack operation when the battalion moves to the new area. Logistical support for the reinforced scout platoon is most often provided by cache or airdrop.

(2) Firing the enemy. The unit will conduct one of the following actions after developing the situation, based on the commander's guidance and on METT-T factors:

(a) Prepare to block enemy escape/reinforcement routes for another unit's attack. The unit maintains contact and positions its forces to isolate and fix the enemy so another unit can attack Control measures and communications must be established between closing units to prevent fratricide.

(b) Conduct a hasty attack. The unit will do this if it is in line with the commander's guidance and if the available friendly forces can generate enough relative combat power.

(c) Maintain surveillance. The unit avoids detection so it can report enemy dispositions, composition, and activities. The unit must use stealth to be successful in this effort.

(d) Remain undetected and follow the enemy. The unit does this to continue to gather information. It must be careful to avoid an enemy ambush.

(3) Finishing the enemy. Battalions destroy enemy forces during a search and attack by doing the following:

(a) Conduct hasty or deliberate attacks, or maneuver to block enemy escape routes while another unit conducts the attack.

(b) Conduct R& S activities and collect information while remaining undetected to develop the situational template.

(c) Employ indirect fire or CAS to destroy the enemy. The battalion may establish an area ambush and use these assets to drive the enemy into the ambushes.

d. Execution. The commander must do the following to help ensure successful synchronized and decentralized operations:

(1) Specify where each unit will operate, establish measures to consolidate units before attacks, and establish fire control measures for each unit. The commander seeks the most likely locations of enemy base camps, command and control sites, ADA sites, and mortars (Appendix C). He designates the company most likely to make contact as the main effort and prepares to shift the main effort rapidly, if necessary.

(2) Concentrate battalion combat power. He does this so that once a patrol finds the enemy, the battalion can fix and destroy him rapidly.

(a) Each company operating in a dispersed company area of operations can be tasked to destroy the enemy within its capability. The battalion commander can direct each company to retain a reserve; or, he can retain a battalion reserve and provide additional mobility assets. He tries to arrange for indirect-fire weapons that can respond to all companies as needed. He uses the reserve, priority of fire, and other available assets to weight the main effort.

(b) The battalion commander considers means to fix or contain the enemy if the company cannot destroy him. The commander uses the battalion reserve, FA, or CAS to do this. Aviation assets increase the mobility of the battalion reserve.

(3) Provide control, but allow for decentralized actions and small-unit initiative.

(4) Ensure CS assets support the main effort while remaining responsive to the rest of the battalion. Mortars remain GS to the battalion. If the mortar platoon cannot support the entire dispersed battalion, the commander may consider splitting the platoon into sections.

e. Employment of Support Assets. Synchronization of CS and CSS assets is harder to achieve in search-and-attack operations than in most other types of operations. Distances between units, the terrain, and a vague enemy situation contribute to this difficulty. Combat and combat support assets are employed as follows:

(1) Antiarmor assets. The antiarmor unit selects TOW positions where it can provide direct-fire support. Based on his estimate, the commander can use the MK 19, the .50-caliber machine gun, or the M60 machine gun in place of the TOWs against light vehicles, for convoy security, or in dismounted operations. However, the antiarmor platoon can also provide mobility and additional firepower for the reserve and, during limited visibility, can augment security forces at key locations, monitoring areas where the enemy is expected to travel at night.

(2) Tanks. Tanks can have great value during search-and-attack operations. They can be used in combat operations to assault, to support by fire the assault of an infantry unit, or to clear fields of fire around key defensive installations. Tanks support CS and CSS activities by conducting convoy security, hauling supplies, and aiding with deception.

(3) Artillery. The FSO prepares fire plans for hasty attack contingencies and can request that a COLT from brigade be attached to the main effort company. Mountainous terrain increases the need for combat aviation, close air, and mortar fire support.

(4) Mortars. The priority of battalion mortars during the search and attack is normally to the main effort. Mortars usually collocate with another unit for security.

(5) Air defense. The battalion can have Stingers and Vulcans attached during a search and attack. In addition to providing security for the CP or moving with the main body, ADA elements can also operate from key terrain overmatching the route. If they do so, they must also have additional security.

(6) Engineers. Engineers provide advisers to help identify breach points in enemy defenses and methods. When the battalion has tanks available, engineers conduct route reconnaissance, determine bridge classifications, and find or make bypass routes where necessary. If demolitions or chain saws are available, engineers can clear LZs for helicopter support.

(7) Aviation. Aviation units (assault and attack) can reconnoiter, guide ground forces to the enemy, provide lift and fire support assets for air assaults, direct artillery fires, aid command and control, and protect the flanks. Attack helicopters can reinforce when antiarmor firepower is used to block the enemy.

(8) Close air support. TACPs are located well forward to increase the speed and accuracy of CAS. To reduce the danger of fratricide, the battalion must issue aircraft identification panels or other means of identification to its soldiers.

(9) Command posts. The commander positions himself to receive information during the search and attack. He plans ahead for shifting assets or committing the reserve. After a unit makes contact with the enemy, the commander must reach the critical point rapidly.


Commanders at all levels must know their higher commander's intent and concept for actions on contact so that no time is lost waiting for orders (Figure 3-11). These engagements often occur in small-unit operations and where reconnaissance has been ineffective. One of the most important aspects of actions on contact is to fight through at the lowest level unit possible.

a. Movements to contact are characterized at all echelons by aggressive offensive action. The advance guard pushes back or destroys small enemy groups before they can hinder the advance of the main body. When the advance guard encounters large enemy forces or heavily defended areas, it acts promptly and aggressively to develop the situation and, within its capability, to defeat the enemy.

(1) Available combat power might be insufficient to eliminate the threat. The advance guard can then be used to identify enemy dispositions and to contain enemy forces until main body elements can be committed.

(2) The battalion commander must decide, if the advance guard makes contact, whether to order the advance guard to destroy the enemy and continue with the movement to contact. He can order a company to fix the force and to bypass with the rest of the battalion. Or, he can order the company to conduct a hasty attack as part of the entire battalion. If the battalion cannot overcome or bypass the enemy, the battalion commander can conduct a hasty defense while the brigade commander develops the situation.

b. Light enemy resistance should not slow the advance; the battalion must remain mission-oriented. If the enemy is weak and a bypass is authorized, the battalion should use a covered route to suppress and obscure him while bypassing. Commanders must report all bypassed forces to higher headquarters.

c. The battalion can withdraw to a more favorable position and can maintain contact through patrols if its encounter has been unsuccessful and if it is in a bad position in close contact with the enemy. If the enemy can be induced to follow up the withdrawal, the battalion might have an opportunity for another offensive move.

Section IV


The objective of offensive operations is to defeat the enemy. This is best achieved by getting through the enemy's defenses and into his rear area. Inside the enemy's rear area, the battalion can destroy the enemy's artillery positions, CPs, logistical support areas, ADA positions, and lines of communication. The two types of attack are hasty and deliberate. A hasty attack differs from a deliberate attack only in the amount of time spent developing the plan. The commander's intent, scheme of maneuver, and plan of fire support form the basis for all attacks. Each attack should strike a weak front, flank, or rear area.


A hasty attack is one in which preparation time is traded for speed to exploit an opportunity. The commander can conduct a hasty attack to destroy the enemy after a movement to contact (Figure 3-12); he can conduct a hasty attack to maintain momentum following the seizure of an objective; or, he can conduct a hasty attack to gain or maintain the initiative following a successful defense against an enemy attack.

a. Clausewitz stated that "time not used by the attacker benefits the defender." When the enemy is unprepared for defense, a hasty attack might be appropriate. Therefore, it is appropriate if the enemy's fortifications are poorly constructed or nonexistent, if his defenses are shallow, or if gaps exist between his units.

b. Tactical units use SOPs and battle drills to switch rapidly to a hasty attack. The scheme of maneuver must be simple and the form of maneuver appropriate to the conditions.

c. Forces in contact deploy and engage the enemy. They report the size and composition of the enemy force, the location of enemy flanks, and routes through or around enemy positions, To support the scheme of maneuver and to synchronize supporting assets, commanders issue FRAGOs to all units.

d. The enemy is fixed in position and isolated from reinforcements. Overwatch units suppress his known and suspected positions with direct and indirect fire. TOWs provide antiarmor suppression and overwatch; scouts push forward and observe likely enemy counterattack routes; indirect fires block enemy routes of reinforcement and withdrawal; FA and mortars provide smoke to screen or deceive. If the enemy is stationary, he can be destroyed in position. If he is mobile, an engagement area can be established. If he is withdrawing, he can be pursued by fire, movement, or both.


A deliberate attack requires detailed planning to eliminate enemy forces in prepared positions that have been pinpointed by intelligence. Frontal attacks should be avoided.

a. Planning. The object is to concentrate strength against the enemy's weakness to shatter his defense.

(1) Detailed information about the enemy and terrain is collected from higher, lower, and adjacent units. Sources for the information can include patrols, reconnaissance by fire, aerial photographs, prisoners, refugees, EW, radar, sensors, and other means. Leaders at all levels should look at the terrain in the dark and in the daylight.

(2) The attacker has two options when his deliberate attack breaches enemy defenses. The first is to press forward with committed forces toward the defense's expected center of gravity. The second is to turn left or right to attack more enemy positions, one after another, from the flank, while follow-on forces exploit the breach. Most often, one of these options evolves into a series of hasty attacks.

(3) The attacker's freedom of maneuver is limited if the enemy has had time to develop a well-prepared defense. Alert, mutually supporting enemy positions can prevent infiltration. To overcome the defense, combat power must be concentrated at the point of decision. The battalion can use fire, movement, or the threat of maneuver to fix the enemy and to reduce his ability to react. A strong force then overwhelms the enemy at a point of weakness. Sequential or piecemeal attacks are doomed. When an attacking subordinate unit is reaching its culminating point, fresh units should be committed to continue the attack through to the decisive point.

(4) Attacking companies can be assigned terrain features as final objectives; this aids in reorganization and defense against counterattack.

(5) CS and CSS elements must be positioned where they can best support the assaulting force.

(a) Engineers position themselves well forward to breach minefield and obstacles, to destroy captured positions, and to give technical aid to infantry. Tanks and artillery might be available to supplement antiarmor weapons in the direct-fire role; however, artillery is seldom used this way.

(b) Combat trains remain one terrain feature behind the trail combat element. To ease resupply and casualty evacuation, combat trains move forward as the battalion moves (Chapter 8). For convenience, soldiers assemble ammunition and special equipment at forward LRPs.

b. Preparation for a Deliberate Attack. Much of the power of a deliberate attack derives from planning initial actions in detail down to platoon and squad level. The preparatory phase of an attack includes preliminary actions such as resupply operations and movement to assembly areas. Intelligence activity, especially ground and aerial surveillance, intensifies to detect the enemy's reaction to movement and deception. Soldiers move forward from assembly areas to or through attack positions and prepare to cross the LD at the prescribed time. Indirect fires can cover this movement.

c. Execution. The attack begins when units cross the LD. If the unit uses routes to the LD, it should reconnoiter and mark the routes or should use guides. It should time movement to the LD so that supporting weapons or overwatch units are in position before maneuver units cross the LD. Unless the unit is ahead of schedule or adjustments are required before the attack, it does not stop in the attack position. For information updates, the commander should link up with the scout platoon leader. The commander should then update his subordinate commanders before they deploy (Figure 3-13).

(1) The LD/LC is the line where contact can be expected. Therefore, the unit should use overwatch techniques.

(2) The entire attack is characterized by a series of rapid advances and assaults, which the battalion closely supports by fire. The unit should move along covered and concealed avenues of approach. If such approaches are unavailable, the unit should use smoke to obscure enemy observation or to provide deception. If possible, it should conduct the attack in limited visibility.

(3) The momentum of the attack should be maintained. Commanders should expect the enemy to use obstacles. During the reconnaissance, scouts report, mark, and reconnoiter obstacle bypasses. If the situation allows, engineers breach lanes in obstacles. Until the enemy discovers the attack, radio silence aids in OPSEC during movement. Movement and assault plans must be simple so they can be controlled without radios.

(4) Assault elements continue without stopping on intermediate objectives. To stop would slow an attack and increase vulnerability. The force must close on the objective rapidly with all of its combat power. The longer the force is exposed to enemy fire, the greater the losses. Assault elements use minimum force to bypass weak enemy units. Battalion reports to brigade the location of bypassed elements. If the unit has been tasked to clear a zone, it leaves sufficient forces with adequate supporting fires to destroy the enemy force without slowing the attack.

(5) CSS elements trail maneuver units by enough distance to avoid interfering with maneuver or coming under direct fire. If possible, they should remain in covered positions until the commander brings them forward as needed or until forward movement permits. If the distance to the objective is short, the battalion can hold CSS elements in the attack position and bring them forward while it consolidates the objective.

d. Actions on Contact. A company hit by indirect fire en route to the objective should move rapidly out of or around the impact area and continue its advance. If the company receives direct fire short of the objective, it should return fire at once. Planned indirect tire can be used to neutralize enemy positions or to obscure his observation.

e. Actions in the Assault Position. The battalion should maintain the pace of its advance as it approaches assault positions. The battalion can increase suppressive fire on the enemy if he has discovered the battalion attack. As the battalion shifts artillery tires from the objective to other targets, the assault element prepares to move rapidly onto the objective. The battalion must not allow suppressive fire to lapse. It isolates the objective, and it prevents the enemy from reinforcing the objective, from escaping, or from counterattacking. The battalion assumes the prescribed assault formation as it moves through the assault position. If the battalion must halt in the assault position and if the enemy knows of the attack, the battalion deploys in covered positions, screens its position with smoke, and waits for the order to assault. While the battalion remains in the assault position, it continues all available suppressive fires on the objective.

f. Final Assault. The assault begins as units leave the assault position and continue their move to the objective. Companies and platoons employ fire and movement. The key is to close rapidly on the objective before the defense can react. The battalion's direct-fire weapons support the assault from an overwatch position.

g. Reserves. The battalion commander keeps his reserve near, but clear of, the maneuver of the main effort. He can use his reserve to shift the main effort. He also can reinforce success by continuing the attack when the main effort has reached its culmination point.

h. Consolidation and Reorganization. The battalion commander reports to brigade when an objective has been seized and whether it has been cleared. The consolidation should be quick, the battalion is most vulnerable to conventional, nuclear, and chemical fires at this point in an attack. The battalion should avoid occupying the enemy's defensive positions, because these positions are not situated to repel a counterattack. The battalion should continue the attack or fight through and beyond the objective to a secure position that offers dispersal.


Fortified positions are well-constructed defensive positions. A fortified area comprises more than one mutually supporting fortified position. A strongpoint is organized for an all-round defense. Strongpoints dominate key terrain and serve as the hub of a defense to slow, canalize, or restrict the attacker's maneuver. If enemy fortified areas cannot be avoided and the battalion must reduce a strongpoint or penetrate a fortified area, the following principles should guide their actions:

a. Understand the enemy's defensive array and his doctrine. Use continuous reconnaissance to locate all enemy positions, find weaknesses, and mark and study all possible approaches. Use all available assets to gather information about the enemy. Use valuable ground reconnaissance patrols aggressively to obtain detailed information about enemy defenses in the area. Weigh the requirement for information against the danger of compromise. Some information can be obtained by questioning local inhabitants.

b. Determine the location and nature of all fortifications. The following information is needed:

  • Locations of enemy armored vehicles, machine guns, antitank weapons positions, and bunkers.
  • Thickness of walls.
  • Locations and types of entrances and exits.
  • Existence and layout of trench systems.
  • Construction materials used.
  • Number of soldiers in each position.
  • Covered routes to the objective.
  • Friendly support-by-fire positions.

c. Determine the location, type, and array of all obstacles and potential bypass routes. Find the "safe lanes" the enemy has planned to allow him to pass safely through his defensive obstacles. If such lanes are found, use them to infiltrate soldiers. Know the order in which the various obstacles will be encountered. This enables the breaching team to rehearse and to pre-position equipment.

d. Locate command and control facilities.

e. Locate covered and concealed approaches.

f. Achieve surprise by carefully selecting the time, place, and method of attack.

g. Find or create weak points in the enemy's defense. Use reconnaissance units to locate and attack fortifications from the blind side or rear.

h. Penetrate narrow fronts.

i. Task-organize properly. Infantry must be trained in the basic skills of the combat engineer. Daring and skilled soldiers, under competent leadership, succeed if they are trained, equipped, and organized. Rehearse the reduction of obstacles and fortifications. Maintain unity of command over all participants.


Attacks that occur at the same time require decentralized control. Therefore, though an attack on a fortified position is a large-scale operation, success hinges on small units. To attack a strongpoint, a battalion is organized into three elements. Each has several missions to perform within the overall scheme of maneuver; each designates subelements as shown in Figure 3-14.

a. Support Force. The support force provides suppressive fire on enemy elements adjacent to the point of the breach. This helps fix, isolate, and suppress possible enemy reinforcements. To overwatch and support the breaching and assault elements, the support force should be heavy in armor/antiarmor weapons. Commanders give TOWs and MK 19s (and armored vehicles, when available) fire control measures and a priority of target engagements. The antiarmor platoon can use its fires not only to destroy armored vehicles, but also to engage hard-to-hit point targets such as bunkers. If fires are to be effective in close terrain, support positions must be near the breach point.

(1) The support force is first in the order of march in the move toward the objective (Figure 3-15).

(2) The support force becomes part of an assault force to exploit the breach once its mission has been completed and the assault element has seized a foothold.

(3) Mortars provide indirect fires. These fires help suppress the enemy or seal the flanks of the objective against enemy reinforcements or counterattacks. FA smoke is planned to augment mortar smoke. The battalion sites ADA assets to protect all approaches to the intended breach site.

b. Breaching Force. The breaching force is second in the order of march. While overmatched by the support force, the breaching force creates a gap in the obstacle. The breaching force is usually an infantry company. It requires supporting engineers and special equipment (mine detectors, line charges, bangalore torpedoes, and so on). The breaching force comprises a close-in support element, a breaching element, and an assault element. The breaching element comprises an infantry squad, engineering personnel, mine detectors, and other engineer breaching equipment. The close-in support element is an infantry platoon. The assault element of the breaching force is two infantry platoons. To secure the far side of the obstacle and to provide close supporting fires for the battalion's assault force, the breaching force assault elements conduct the initial assault on the enemy fortification. The company commander can follow his lead assaulting platoon or displace with the close-in support force.

c. Assault Force. The assault force is the battalion's main attack. It is tasked to cross through the gap created by the breach force and to accomplish the battalion's purpose. The assault force is third in the battalion's order of march (FMs 7-8 and 7-10).


The attack of a strongpoint follows a general sequence. If the enemy main defensive area and security positions have enough depth or strength to require a systematic reduction, the following sequence of attack applies:

a. The battalion reduces or neutralizes enemy security positions. Information obtained through reconnaissance helps determine what special soldiers, equipment, and strength the battalion needs to break through the enemy's security area. The commander then task-organizes and assigns missions (A, Figure 3-16).

b. The enemy obstacle system is defeated. A bypass must be found first, if METT-T permits. The battalion establishes a control point at or near the entrance to the obstacle system. A staff officer is designated as the battalion control point OIC. The XO or CSM may perform this function. The control point is then used to control unit access to the system area and to set priorities for crossing. The battalion control point OIC chooses a location where he can observe and control to help battalion elements move smoothly through the obstacle system. If a bypass is not possible, the battalion must use SOSR.

(1) Suppress. The battalion suppresses the enemy covering the obstacle continuously throughout the breaching operation.

(2) Obscure. The battalion obscures the obstacle from view. Soldiers use both handheld and indirect smoke to cover the assault up to the site of the breach. The battalion should obscure both the enemy overmatching the obstacle and the site of the breach.

(3) Secure. The battalion secures the site of the breach and the far side of the obstacle to disrupt enemy maneuver against the breaching team.

(4) Reduce. The battalion proofs the lane rapidly and marks it with something durable and visible. This allows follow-on forces to locate the cleared lane. (FMs 7-8, 7-10, 5-101, and 90-13-1 discuss various aspects of breaching techniques.)

c. Units should be controlled throughout the breach. The breach site is controlled by the company commander responsible for conducting the breach (the breach site OIC) (B, Figure 3-16). This officer's position depends on the situation. However, the commander should be near the breach site (200 to 300 meters). He must prevent a bottleneck and ensure that soldiers (and vehicles, if used) enter and exit the area rapidly without stopping.

(1) Each element should remain in planned assault positions until called forward by the company commander. This simplifies dispersal.

(2) The lead company commander is responsible for control within his unit; the battalion control point OIC is responsible for regulating the follow-on units.

d. Indirect fire and CAS should be used to support the assault. Intense massed air and artillery bombardment may precede the assault against the main position.

e. The strongpoint or fortified position is reduced. Infantry companies cross the breach sites and move into the assault. When the assaulting companies cross the far side of the obstacle, they must be ready to breach any close-in obstacles in front of the fortifications.

(1) The company commander and platoon leaders control suppressive fires from the ground. They use star clusters, grenade-launched flares, and tracers to designate general or specific targets for the overwatch/support force. Flare colors indicate which weapons or support sections engage which targets.

(2) The support force delivers close supporting fires in three phases for an assault against the main position.

    • Phase 1. The assault force starts moving forward to breach under the cover of the support force once artillery and CAS have been completed. To aid in control, the assault force must have well-defined objectives. The assault force advances through the breach until the supporting fire becomes dangerous to it and must be shifted to other targets. Designated direct-fire weapons move forward with the assaulting platoons to secure more suitable firing positions where they can fire into the emplacements.
    • Phase 2. The fire support mission is assumed by weapons organic to or forward with the assault force. The assault force advances, and again the supporting fires come too close to it for safety. Supporting fire then shifts to targets in the rearer flanks.
    • Phase 3. The assault force's support element provides the supporting fires. Their weapons neutralize the bunker under attack. They cover the demolitions parties who move forward to destroy it. On breaching the emplacement, elements of the assault force destroy all remaining enemy resistance. Then the platoon's base-of-fire element moves to cover the reorganization. The strongpoint is cleared to the extent required by reserve elements.

f. A series of attacks penetrate to the depth of the fortification belts. Units should bypass (leapfrog through) the leading units. The bypassed units then reorganize and prepare to protect the flanks of the penetration.

g. Designated forces begin clearance operations as soon as possible after the assault. Within the penetrated area, they should reduce or seal underground installations. They should use shaped charges, dozers, armored vehicles, and gasoline to seal or destroy these fortifications and to deny the use of them to the enemy.


The most critical phase of any attack is the assault. During this phase, supporting direct and indirect fires must be placed on the enemy position. These fires must continue as long as the safety of the assaulting soldiers permits. Some type of fires must be used to neutralize or suppress the enemy until the objective is seized. Friendly supporting fires should never threaten assaulting units and thus cause them to halt.

a. Weapons with the greatest accuracy, smallest range probable error, and smallest bursting radius should continue firing the longest. As one type of fire is lifted or shifted, other weapons still firing increase their rate of fire. Just as the assaulting platoons arrive at a point considered to be the minimum safe distance from the objective, the last rounds land on the objective area. The commander specifies clear signals (controlled by the assaulting element) for lifting or shifting these fires.

b. The assault is supported only by direct-fire weapons for the last 50 to 100 meters. To maintain the fires of all weapons, these fires should be shifted progressively. Since tanks can move and deliver close effective fire with several types of weapons until the seizure of the objective, they continue throughout the assault.

c. The attacker must know the effectiveness of his organic and supporting weapons against enemy buildings and fortifications. The following (as well as FM 90-10-1 and applicable weapons manuals) provide the basis for weapons employment:

(1) The battalion positions direct-fire weapons in defilade. The attacker should at least conceal these weapons from all emplacements other than the target.

(2) The battalion can employ snipers against emplacements, OPs, and CPs (Appendix E). It can mount some NVDs onto LAWs, whose close-in fire is suitable for inflicting casualties in bunkers.

(3) The battalion uses flame weapons to effectively neutralize emplacements. A main advantage of this type weapon, in addition to its psychological effect, is that flame and smoke spread; they fill the position and neutralize adjacent emplacements. The M202A2 FLASH is the main flame weapon employed. However, USAF-delivered napalm, thermite grenades, and flame field expedients that use thickened gasoline are also useful for reducing fortifications.

(4) The battalion uses hand-emplaced explosive charges to reduce any fortifications the assault unit can reach. Cratering charges can breach the strongest parts of any emplacement.

d. The key to forward movement when under enemy direct fire is to return effective fire on the enemy. Destructive or suppressive fires are most effective when fired by a stationary "base-of-fire" unit. This fire prevents the enemy from firing effectively at the moving force.

(1) The base-of-fire element--once it is in position and once the moving element is prepared to move--places a heavy volume of fire on the enemy position to destroy, neutralize, or suppress it. Once the enemy position is suppressed, the rate of fire is reduced. However, suppressive fire continues. When the moving force nears its objective, the base-of-fire element increases its rate of fire to suppress the enemy. This lets the moving force assault the position before the enemy can react. Either on signal or when the assault begins, the base-of-fire element--

    • Ceases fire.
    • Shifts its fire to another target area.
    • "Walks" its fire across the objective in front of the moving force, then shifts beyond the objective.

(2) Units select positions for the base-of-fire element so that the moving force does not mask the supporting fires. For this reason, base-of-fire element positions are on the flank of the moving force and are elevated, impossible.

(3) The base-of-fire element can concentrate or distribute its fire. In either case, the fire must be controlled and directed at the enemy. It should not endanger the moving force.

e. A coordinated fire line (CFL) can be used, permitting observed and unobserved fires to be fired without clearance from units in the area. The CFL should be far enough from friendly positions to allow normal security measures and patrolling.


The culminating point is the moment when the strength of the attacker, including its reserves, no longer exceeds that of the defender. Beyond this point, continuing offensive operations could cause overextension, counterattack, and defeat. The attack must achieve decisive objectives before this point is reached.

a. Attackers lose momentum when they encounter heavily defended areas that cannot be bypassed. They could also reach the culminating point--

(1) When the supply of ammunition falls short of requirements.

(2) When attacking soldiers become physically exhausted.

(3) When casualties and equipment losses mount.

(4) When replacement operations are inadequate.

(5) When reserves are unavailable to continue the attack.

(6) When the defender is reinforced.

(7) When the defender counterattacks with fresh soldiers.

b. The battalion must establish hasty defenses when the attack loses momentum for any reason. Fighting a defensive battle after reaching a culminating point is difficult for several reasons.

(1) Defensive preparations are hasty and forces are ill-disposed for defense. Because attacking forces are dispersed, reorganizing for defense requires more time than the enemy allows.

(2) The shift to defense requires a psychological adjustment. Soldiers who have become accustomed to advancing, and thus "winning," must now halt deep in enemy territory and fight defensively on new and often unfavorable terms.

(3) Attacks rarely culminate on ground ideally suited for defense. A decision to conduct retrograde operations on more defensive ground compounds the psychological adjustment required of soldiers.


Consolidation of the objective and reorganization of the unit are critical to the attack. Both must be planned and coordinated before the attack. During consolidation and reorganization, command and control is often difficult. An aggressive enemy, supported by all available fires, can deliver a carefully planned and coordinated counterattack. To avoid presenting a lucrative nuclear target in a nuclear environment, an attacking unit can disperse and occupy terrain that dominates the objective (Figure 3-17).

a. Consolidation. This means organizing and strengthening a newly captured position for defense. Consolidation can be the rapid redisposition of forces and security elements on the objective to defeat the counterattack; or, it can be the organization and detailed improvement of the position for defense.

(1) The commander always plans to consolidate after an attack. However, the battalion might avoid consolidating if the attack has been unsuccessful or if the battalion can further exploit a successful attack within the framework of the brigade concept.

(2) The battalion consolidates on the objective only if the mission or situation requires. The battalion tries to consolidate on terrain adjacent to the objective. Disadvantages to consolidating on the objective include the fact that the enemy knows the terrain and might have indirect fires/counterattacks planned on that objective. Planning considerations for consolidation are the same as for a perimeter defense (Chapter 4).

(a) Establish security. This task is accomplished as soon as each assault element occupies its position. Each establishes OPs to monitor the most likely enemy avenues of approach.

(b) Eliminate the enemy. The companies must destroy, capture, or cause the withdrawal of all enemy vehicles and soldiers on their respective objectives.

(c) Position forces in a hasty defense. Once companies reach their objectives, they occupy firing positions and prepare for an enemy counterattack. Commanders consider follow-on missions when positioning forces during consolidation. Attacking elements occupy enemy positions only when necessary, such as when indirect fire is incoming. Armor and antiarmor platoons move to cover likely mounted avenues of approach; infantry orients along likely dismounted avenues of approach. Overmatching forces, TOWs, companies with support-by-fire missions, mortars, the TOC, CSS, and GSRs are displaced forward to aid in consolidation. The location and mission of each should be planned.

(d) Plan fires. Target reference points (TRPs) are designated as part of the consolidation. Once the company or platoon is in position, its leaders establish or adjust TRPs. Also, indirect fires are planned and existing targets refined as needed to support the defense.

(e) Conduct reconnaissance. The commander directs companies to conduct mounted or dismounted local patrols along likely enemy avenues of approach while local security is established. The companies assign infantry squads to this task.

(f) Prepare for on-order missions. The most likely on-order mission is to continue the attack. During consolidation, the commander and staff continue troop-leading procedure in preparation for on-order missions. Intelligence gathered during reconnaissance is used to adjust plans for contingency missions.

b. Reorganization. This includes all actions to prepare for further attack or pursuit of the enemy. Reorganization is continuous throughout the attack. Actions that were impossible during movement are completed during reorganization.

(1) Replace key soldiers. Leadership positions must be filled. If heavy losses have occurred, companies can be reconstituted from the remnants of other companies.

(2) Report unit status. Units inform their next higher commander of their location and status.

(3) Evacuate required soldiers/equipment. Casualties, EPWs, and damaged equipment are evacuated or recovered IAW the plans developed before the attack.

(4) Redistribute required items. Logistics packages are used to redistribute supplies, ammunition, and equipment within the units as needed and as time permits.

(5) Plan for further operations. Fragmental orders are issued as required. Command and control facilities are located for control during the consolidation and for the conduct of further operations.

Section V


This section discusses operations that units can conduct as part of a larger force. In the offense, these operations include follow and support, exploitation, and pursuit.


A unit conducting a follow-and-support operation follows a force that is conducting an offensive operation, an exploitation, or a pursuit.

a. The purpose of a follow-and-support operation is as follows:

(1) To destroy bypassed enemy units.

(2) To widen or secure the shoulders of a penetration.

(3) To relieve supported units that have halted to contain enemy forces. (Once relieved, the forward unit continues with its mission.)

(4) To block the movement of enemy reinforcements. Depending mainly on the type of enemy force and on the terrain, this task may involve part or all of the battalion.

(5) To help the lead unit with casualty evacuation.

(6) To open and secure lines of communication.

(7) To guard prisoners, key areas, and installations.

(8) To control refugees.

b. The follow-and-support force is considered to be committed and thus is not available as a reserve. It is used for purposes other than to provide flexibility for various contingency missions; however, planning for the follow-and-support force is much like planning for a reserve. Therefore, the follow-and-support force must do the following:

(1) Maintain a proper location on the battlefield to accomplish the primary tasks provided by brigade (FM 7-30).

(2) Prepare for contingencies such as helping or assuming the mission of the lead battalion.

(3) Maintain a close liaison with the supported unit. The commander might consider detaching an LO to the supported unit to maintain continuous communications.

c. The follow-on battalion must be movable by helicopter or other means to be able to respond to a mechanized attacking force. When operating as a follow-on force, a battalion moves in a formation similar to that used for a movement to contact.


An exploitation follows a successful attack and prevents the enemy from rebuilding his defenses. A bold exploitation should follow every attack unless the unit is restricted by higher headquarters or lack of resources. This keeps the enemy under pressure. Due to its limited combat power and its limited logistics and intelligence-gathering capabilities, the battalion takes part in the exploitation as part of a larger force.

a. The battalion attacks to disrupt rear areas in an exploitation. It destroys enemy CPs, communications facilities, logistical installations, and artillery units. It also secures critical objectives that cut off the enemy's routes of withdrawal.

b. The battalion moves like it is moving to contact if the enemy situation and terrain permit. Speed is vital. The battalion is ready to conduct hasty attacks to destroy vulnerable targets. It clears only as much of the zone as it needs to continue the advance. Unless enemy units jeopardize the mission, the battalion bypasses them or contains them with as small a unit as possible. The battalion reports bypassed enemy forces to brigade headquarters; follow-on forces capture or destroy the bypassed forces. Though minimum control measures are used, maximum latitude is given to subordinate commanders.

c. The exploiting battalion is reinforced with armored vehicles to form a task force. Due to the depth of the objectives, artillery and other CA and CSS elements can be attached to the battalion. Army aviation and tactical air are used for reconnaissance and fire support.


Pursuit is an offensive operation designed to annihilate a retreating enemy force. It orients on the force rather than on terrain objectives.

a. The pursuit should follow any successful breach and exploitation of the enemy's defensive sector. It should continue throughout the depth of the defensive sector.

b. The pursuit can begin when the enemy withdraws due to pressure from friendly forces to his flank. The enemy tries to disengage suddenly, most likely at night, so he can retire under cover of his rear guard to a more defensive position. The pursuit often begins or continues into the night, because the enemy will usually try to conceal his withdrawal by moving after dark.

c. The pursuit must be rapid, though the battalion's speed must not exceed the enemy's speed. If it does, the battalion is just hurrying or accompanying the enemy, not pursuing him, which results only in a gain of territory. The battalion can attain decisive results only by destroying the enemy main body. Once the pursuit begins, the battalion uses all means to maintain the continuity of the attack and to exert unyielding pressure on the enemy.

d. Commanders push soldiers to the limits of their endurance. To keep up the momentum, reserves are committed freely to a pursuit. The battalion must pursue day and night; if it stops for rest, maintenance, reorganization, or any other reason, the enemy gains time. He can pull his scattered units together, gain distance, and place obstacles between himself and the battalion. He might even be able to slip out of position. Pursuing forces must prevent the enemy from breaking contact or reconstituting his defense.

e. The pursuit can be conducted by a direct-pressure force alone or with an encircling force. The battalion can be part of either. The direct-pressure force must have sufficient combat power to maintain pressure on the enemy. The encircling force must have good firepower and greater mobility than the enemy. An ideal encircling force consists of air assault forces, attack helicopters, or tactical air support.

f. The pursuit requires commanders and leaders to use their energy and willpower; they must act with initiative, and they must maintain their flexibility of maneuver.

(1) Energy and willpower. A vigorous pursuit relies on the energy and willpower of the commander and of his subordinate leaders, because soldiers and units may tire and become disorganized from their initial combat. As a result, they might relax mentally. For decisive action, small unit commanders lead, initiate, and exploit opportunities.

(2) Activity and initiative. A pursuit can sap the strength of the pursuers. Commanders need to use their initiative to find ways to conserve their strength and to increase their speed and mobility. The battalion uses all available motor transportation, including that captured from the enemy.

(3) Flexibility of maneuver. Commanders know little about enemy or friendly dispositions during a pursuit due to extended distances and fluid situations. Therefore, mission-type orders are needed to give subordinates sufficient flexibility to accomplish their mission. Control measures can be limited to the assignment of distant objectives with directions of attack, axes of advance, routes, or zones of action. Phase lines are incorporated for control.

g. The pursuit requires decentralized command. To simplify command and control, CPs closely follow lead units. Battalion commanders operate with their command group forward. If terrain allows, vehicles are used for speed and flexibility. Moving by bounds, main and combat trains CPs coordinate resupply, evacuation of prisoners, and other administrative activities. They receive general instructions by radio from the command group.

h. The pursuit requires only those security measures that add mobility and speed such as flank security. No attempt is made to check each defile, village, hill mass or fold in the ground. Flank security is not emphasized. However, the commander can increase dispersion to prevent ambushes and to deceive the enemy as to the exact length and composition of columns. He must ensure the enemy withdrawal is not a ruse.

i. The pursuit must be rapid. Its speed of advance often depends on pioneer work and on engineer support. Engineers advance ahead with lead elements, clear the way, and repair destroyed bridges and crossings. To ensure that units are rerouted and that repairs are performed rapidly, information must pass rapidly to higher headquarters.

j. A successful pursuit depends on air assault assets to rapidly seize key terrain or on tactical locations deep in the hostile rear. Attack helicopters and CAS are used against the targets whose destruction will contribute most to the success of pursuit. These targets include critical points on the enemy's lines of communication, hostile columns in retreat, and enemy reserves trying to reestablish the defense. The air assault continues until encircling or direct-pressure forces arrive.

k. Pursuit logistics rely on aviation assets as well. These assets backhaul casualties; they also supply ammunition and fuel to leading units. Inoperative vehicles are left behind for recovery by follow-on forces. Rations are MREs. Since unit locations change quickly and supplies (especially fuel) are consumed as quickly, coordinating resupply requires close liaison between the S3 and the S4.


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