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"I have sworn eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
                                                  Thomas Jefferson

The US may assist either a government or an insurgent force that is operating against a government. Once committed, brigades and battalion task forces (both heavy and light) augmented by SOF serve as the "cutting edge" of the joint task force (JTF) in both insurgency and COIN operations. To be successful, the commander must understand the insurgent as well as his specific role in COIN. This chapter discusses insurgency operations; the tactical maneuver commander's role in COIN operations in both offensive and defensive roles; and tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting COIN operations in all three phases of an insurgency. Normally, US forces will not be committed until Phase III of the insurgency. (See paragraph 2-6.)

Section I.

Insurgents must be understood before they can be defeated. This section discusses the characteristics, tactics, and environment of insurgency operations. An insurgency is an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict. The members of the insurgent force are organized along political lines to support political, economic, social, military, psychological, and covert operations. The military or paramilitary arm of insurgencies normally use guerrilla warfare tactics. This is characterized by offensive action at the time and place of the guerrilla's choosing. This happens when the guerrilla can develop local superiority, relying on evasion rather than defensive combat for protection. Along with overt actions, an insurgency can be characterized by strikes, demonstrations, propaganda, political organization, and diplomacy.

2-1. GOALS

The initial goal of the insurgent movement is to replace the established government. The insurgent accomplishes this by--

a. Gaining support for the insurgent movement through humanitarian aid programs, propaganda, coercion, and terror. If he cannot gain active support, then he seeks passive support. Silence on the part of the populace, concerning insurgent activities, is passive support for the insurgent.

b. Using guerrilla warfare--

    (1) To increase the population's vulnerability through the use of selective terrorism. The guerrilla attacks or destroys economic and political symbols upon which the government is founded. Overreaction by government forces or other authorities adds to the population's resentment toward the government and its support to the insurgency.

    (2) To reduce government control. The guerrilla defeats small government forces and strikes where government forces are not located. This adds to the perception that the government cannot or will not provide security for the population and its property. In turn, this adds to the perception that the government cannot control the insurgents.

    (3) To provide psychological victories. The guerrilla wants victories that psychologically benefit the insurgent movement. These victories may not be key in terms of material damage to the government or its armed forces. What the guerrilla seeks is a psychological advantage.

    (4) To block government resources. The guerrillas seek to block or redirect resources that the government is trying to use in development programs.

    (5) To weaken the resolve of government military forces. By defeating smaller elements of the government's military forces, the guerrilla further weakens limited assets. He also psychologically weakens the government forces' resolve to continue waging war.


The environment in which the insurgent operates must be examined from more than a geographical point of view. While terrain and climate are important factors, the political, economical, and sociological environments are vital.

a. Terrain. The guerrilla prefers to continue to live in his own home. He lives in camps if security does not permit him to live at home. The preferred camps are chosen for easy access to the target population, access to a friendly or neutral border, good escape routes, and good observation of approach routes used by government COIN forces. When COIN operations force the guerrilla out of his base camps, he sets up camps in rugged, unfriendly areas that are not easily penetrated by government forces.

b. Climate. The insurgent has an advantage since he is usually a native to the area and is accustomed to the climate. If government forces are familiar with the same climate, then the advantage is reduced.

c. Political Factors. The amount of government control in an area directly affects the ability of the insurgent to operate. The more government control, the less successful are insurgent activities. The insurgent will attempt to establish a shadow government, to disrupt normal government functions, and to destroy key government facilities and personnel. The level of government control in an area is reduced as the shadow government assumes those functions previously held by the legitimate government.

d. Economic Factors. Low standards of living and desires for economic reforms may be popular causes of resentment toward the government's economic policies. This enhances the insurgent's chances for success. The insurgent seeks to exploit this situation through the use of PSYOP. The insurgent obtains most of his logistic support from the local economy, which he normally will not disrupt. Insurgent forces can destroy a local economy as a "lesson" to the populace for obtaining support or obedience.

e. Sociological Factors. The more fragmented a society, the greater the chance for resentment by the populace. The insurgent attempts to increase friction between different groups in society. These groups may be aligned along racial, ethnic, religious, or social lines. Language differences or tradition can also be a reason for alignment. Religious influences can play a major role in the sociological factors that affect the insurgent. The effect each factor has on the insurgent and his ability to operate changes with each situation. The commander's analysis of each factor helps determine what the effect will be before conducting COIN operations. Therefore, all factors must be analyzed to determine their weaknesses and strengths in relation to the insurgent. In planning for COIN operations, the commander exploits disclosed insurgent weaknesses and deprives the insurgent of any opportunity to exploit government weaknesses.


By understanding the characteristics of the insurgent, the commander can determine strengths that must be reduced or avoided and weaknesses that can be exploited. The characteristics discussed in this paragraph provide a base to analyze the specific threat. No two insurgencies are the same; therefore, the commander planning COIN operations must analyze a specific situation to discover how characteristics apply.

a. Insurgent Strengths. Insurgents typically have many strengths that must be reduced.

    (1) Intelligence. The intelligence networks in the insurgent infrastructure usually provide continuous and current information on government force dispositions, strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. The need for secrecy as an element of survival for the insurgent organization makes it hard for the government to penetrate and disrupt its forces. Early intelligence collection and analysis must be aggressive to build an effective data base. Pattern analysis and other techniques can remove such an advantage from the insurgent. COIN forces can also overcome this intelligence advantage through the use of deception, OPSEC, and COMSEC.

    (2) Indigenous characteristics. Insurgents can blend with the local populace since they are usually part of it. This enhances their ability to operate with secrecy. The COIN force must identify the insurgent and remove him from the civilian populace. This is best accomplished through the use of population and resources controls. Civilians must not be injured or mistreated due to COIN operations.

    (3) Knowledge. The insurgent's knowledge of the local populace and terrain is an advantage. It gives him the ability to employ PSYOP effectively through coercion of the local population. The COIN force must overcome this advantage by fostering a strong relationship between the government forces and the populace. The insurgent's advantage can be overcome by continuous COIN operations from a permanently stationed native COIN force and by skillful employment of these assets. This force consists of personnel from the local populace.

    (4) Motivation and discipline. The insurgent leaders are trained and motivated. They reinforce motivation within the insurgent force by applying discipline. Usually, the insurgent is strongly devoted to a cause.

    (5) Limited responsibilities. The insurgent is not usually responsible for maintaining normal governmental obligations toward society. This frees all his efforts to conduct operations in support of the insurgency goals. However, he may be tasked to perform certain political services (such as tax collection) by the insurgency shadow government.

    (6) Tactics. The insurgent can employ a broad range of tactics--from terror and sabotage through conventional warfare. This enables him to escalate or deescalate antigovernment activity almost at will. Time is not a factor for the insurgent; he will take all the time necessary to do a thorough reconnaissance before any action.

    (7) Physical condition. One of the major advantages the insurgent has is his ability to endure hardship. Due to the situation, he must survive with less, forcing him to adapt and be innovative.

b. Insurgent Weaknesses. Insurgents have some weaknesses that can be exploited.

    (1) Limited personnel and resource. Difficulty in personnel recruitment and resupply of material can limit his operations. The COIN force should exploit these weaknesses by interdicting supply routes and facilities, by forcing desertion due to hardships, and by inflicting combat losses.

    (2) Individual factors. The insurgent often endures a life of physical danger and privation. These stresses can be exploited by COIN forces. Stress factors include numerical inferiority to government forces, fear of being treated as a criminal if captured, and fear of violence to himself and his family. Other stress factors are combat and a hostile environment that weaken insurgent resolve. In some societies, good treatment, pardon, protection, food, shelter, and participation in the government may be stronger incentives than the fear of criminal punishment to induce desertions.

    (3) Operational factors. Operational weaknesses may include security, which requires many resources and slows responsiveness. The insurgent's dependence on popular support is also a weakness. If support waivers or is withdrawn, the insurgent cannot operate effectively. Another potential operational weakness is the lack of sophisticated communications. This requires the insurgent to spend much time in preparing an operation. Political, religious, and ethnic differences among insurgent groups can be major exploitable weaknesses.


Support is a major concern common to all insurgents. It can be divided into two categories: popular and logistic.

a. Popular Support. As discussed, the insurgent must have either the active or passive support of the populace to succeed. Popular support alone will not ensure the success of insurgent operations. Ineffective operations, unwise decisions, and poor leadership could preclude his success.

    (1) Some form of popular support should exist for the insurgent to initiate and conduct operations. If popular support does not exist or is withdrawn, the insurgent cannot conduct operations with any hope of success. Therefore, one of the prime considerations for the COIN force is to gain and maintain the support of the populace. Areas where active support is given to the insurgent are good targets for PSYOP. Populace and resource control operations are major factors in removing support for the insurgent.

    (2) In areas where only passive support is given to the insurgent, government efforts through PSYOP and CA, as well as security provisions, must be initiated to gain active support and trust of the government. In areas that the government controls and where the populace supports the government, the government emphasizes the four major operations in IDAD (balanced development, security, neutrality, and mobilization) to maintain that support.

b. Logistic Support. This support is one of the insurgent's greatest weaknesses. In early operations, he relies on his base of popular support for logistic requirements. As the insurgent force develops and expands, its logistic needs may increase beyond the abilities of the internal support base. If overall goals for the insurgent movement are not imminent, the insurgent may need extra logistic support from another source.

    (1) If the insurgent receives support from external sources, the problem of security exists for supply lines, transport means, and storage facilities. External support should not be considered a prerequisite to begin COIN operations. It is an added factor that enhances the abilities of the insurgent. The COIN force should seek to interdict the logistic support network of the insurgent force, whether it is internal or external.

    (2) Since insurgent tactics operate along military lines, insurgents usually have temporary sites for headquarters, installations, facilities, and operational units. These temporary sites are called base camps. In these camps, the insurgent has his command posts, training areas, communications facilities, medical stations, and logistics centers. He may also use these camps for rest, retraining, and reequipping.

    (3) The base camps are not the same as conventional force operational bases. These bases are kept small, and usually there is more than one base in the insurgent's area of operation. Characteristics of a base camp area are as follows:

      (a) Cover and concealment. The insurgent tries to locate base camps in areas where cover and concealment provide security against detection.

      (b) Rough, inaccessible terrain. The insurgent chooses terrain that may restrict the government's mobility and employment of heavy weapons. While the insurgent avoids defensive combat, he emphasizes short-term defensive action in the base camp area to aid evacuation. To preclude accidental discovery, the insurgent is not near inhabited areas. However, because he must fulfill his logistic needs, his base camp should be no more than one day's march from a village or town. The COIN force must locate and disrupt these camps to keep the insurgent off balance, allowing the COIN force to gain the initiative.

      (c) Suitable for bivouac. The insurgent chooses an area suitable for bivouac. He must consider food and water supply, grade or slope of terrain, access to trails, and protective environment.


Guerrilla warfare is one characteristic of an insurgency. The guerrilla is the combat element to the insurgency. When guerrilla forces first become operational, they usually engage in limited or small-scale operations. If they reach more sophisticated levels of organization, equipment, and training, larger operations using more conventional tactics may be expected. Insurgent tactics are characterized by elusiveness, surprise, and brief, violent action. These tactics in the early phases can be divided into two areas: terrorism and harassment.

a. Terrorism. The guerrilla can use terrorism to accomplish his goals. Terrorist techniques include bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, threats, mutilation, murder, torture, and blackmail. Not all guerrillas use terrorism as a tool. If terrorism is used, it is usually for coercion or intimidation. Terrorism may also be used to discredit the government by provoking the government into overreactions that alienate the populace or demonstrate its inability to protect them.

    (1) Coercion. This persuades individuals to act favorably in given situations toward the guerrilla or insurgent movement--for example, to persuade a local mayor to revise policy concerning the guerrilla or to gain passive support while at the same time redirecting resources to the insurgent movement.

    (2) Intimidation. This modifies behavior. Usually, threats or fear of harm are used either toward the individual or his family and friends. Intimidation induces the populace to silence or noncooperation with government forces. It discourages competent citizens from accepting vital low-level government positions--for example, the killing of servicemen to encourage draft evasion.

b. Harassment. Harassment keeps government forces on the defensive. If successful, it causes government forces react to guerrilla operations. As a result, the government cannot conduct offensive operations that would prevent successful guerrilla operations. Harassment also weakens the government's resources and disrupts lines of communication. One advantage of harassment is the image it presents of the guerrilla being able to strike anywhere. Also, the government appears ineffective and incompetent by constantly losing small battles. This affects the morale of the government force.

    (1) Most guerrilla operations are offensive, not defensive. There is seldom an attempt to seize and defend objectives.

    (2) The guerrilla uses infiltration during movements. However, near the target area, small guerrilla elements mass and then conduct operations. The most common techniques employed by the guerrilla are the ambush, raid, and small-scale attacks. These are usually targeted against security posts, small forces, facilities, and LOC.

    (3) While government forces outnumber the guerrilla, the guerrilla seeks to attain local numerical superiority. Then, he can attain victory over small elements of the government forces. These tactics, if successful, compel government forces to commit larger elements to defensive tasks. Once government forces move to the defensive, they lose the initiative and become reactive. This allows the guerrilla time and space to develop so that he can engage larger government forces with more conventional tactics.


Once an insurgent organization is established and starts its activities, it progresses through phases in its effort to overthrow the government. The "mass-oriented" or Maoist organizational and operational pattern consists of three phases. A distinguishing characteristic of other patterns is that they forego one or more of these phases. The defending government cannot easily determine when the insurgency will move from one phase to another. The activities performed in the earlier phases continue through the later phases. These phases range from the weak insurgent movement to when the insurgent can directly confront government forces. Also, depending on the lack of success of the movement, a reversion may occur from Phase III to Phase II or even back to Phase I.

a. PHASE I: Latent and Incipient Insurgency. Activity in this phase ranges from subversive activity, which is only a potential threat, to situations where frequent subversive incidents and activities occur in a pattern. It involves no major outbreak of violence or uncontrolled insurgent activity. The insurgent force does not conduct continuous operations but rather selected acts of terrorism. An insurgency could achieve victory during this phase.

b. PHASE II: Guerrilla Warfare. This phase is reached when the insurgent movement, having gained enough local external support, initiates organized continuous guerrilla warfare or related forms of violence against the government. This is an attempt to force government forces into a defensive role. As the insurgent becomes stronger, he begins to conduct larger operations.

c. PHASE III: War of Movement. When the insurgent attains the force structure and ability to directly engage government forces in decisive combat, he begins to use more conventional tactics. He may also obtain combat forces from an external source. Also, the insurgent can begin conducting more extensive defensive operations to protect the areas he controls. The host nation's military plan and the US military support plan must be combined to govern US tactical operations. When the US employs combat forces, they are normally assigned missions that support the security component of the IDAD strategy. This allows the host nation to establish a secure base for mobilization and balanced development programs, and to form and train effective security forces. US forces may conduct offensive operations to disrupt and destroy the insurgents' combat formations or to interdict their external support. These operations can prevent the insurgents from undertaking actions against government-controlled areas. They can also disrupt the insurgents' efforts to consolidate and expand areas already under their control.

Section II.

The COIN commander faces an enemy whose objectives, tactics, and concepts usually differ from his own. This section examines the role of tactical COIN operations in relation to the COIN program. Also, it discusses planning and principles for the successful conduct of COIN operations, as well as related operations that the COIN force must know.


FIDAF is the most common role in which US forces conduct COIN operations. It supports the host country's national objectives and COIN plan. The FIDAF commander must consider the final goals of the host country COIN program and how to coordinate his operations to support those goals. (For additional information on FIDAF, see FM 100-20.)

a. Planning. Most US forces conducting COIN operations are part of a FIDAF. The commander must understand how FIDAF operations support the host country COIN plan. In this sense, the goals of the host country COIN plan become the goals for the FIDAF and the COIN commander. A major consideration when planning COIN operations is the effect operations will have on the populace. Commanders must try to win the active support of the population for the government. COIN activities must avoid incidents that the insurgent can exploit in his PSYOP.

b. Support of COIN. US forces committed to the FIDAF in the host country have a dual mission. They must assist the host nation forces to defeat or neutralize the insurgent militarily. This allows the host country government to start or resume functioning in once contested or insurgent-controlled areas. Also, US forces must support the overall COIN program by conducting noncombat operations such as training, security assistance, intelligence, and tactical support. This provides an environment where the host country government can win the trust and support of its people and become self-sustaining. Both aspects ofthe COIN mission are of equal importance and must be conducted at the same time. A common mistake made by the FIDAF when trying to gain popular support is that the FIDAF sometimes wins popular support only for itself. The commander must ensure that popular support is for the host country government. Credit for successful campaigns against the insurgents, or programs to help the people, should go to the host country government.


Tactical COIN operations reduce the insurgent threat or activity in the area and provide a favorable environment for the host country's development program. These purposes are complementary. When the insurgent threat is reduced, internal development can begin. When internal development works, the causes of dissatisfaction, which gave rise to the insurgency, are reduced. This deprives the insurgent of both popular support and a reason for fighting (which he needs to survive).


In COIN, the METT-T and political factors are considered in planning.

a. Mission. In mission analysis the commander considers the following elements.

    (1) FIDAF operations include the following areas.

  • Joint-combined exercises

  • Intelligence operations.

  • Populace and resources control operations.

  • Civil-military operations (including CA and PSYOP).

  • Humanitarian or civic assistance.

  • Logistic support operations.

  • Counter-drug operations.

  • Tactical operations

  • Advisory assistance.

    (2) The brigade is most concerned with tactical operations. Due to the nature of counterguerrilla warfare, a specific tactical operation or campaign usually involves all elements of FIDAF.

    (3) The commander's guidance and subsequent planning are based on all probable missions. After the brigade receives the mission, the commander's guidance becomes more specific. This includes the extent to which the brigade becomes involved in each of the areas of FIDAF.

b. Enemy. When evaluating the insurgent abilities and limitations, the commander considers--

  • Ethnic origin and cultural history.

  • Political organization, dogma, and goals.

  • Strength, morale, and status of training.

  • Tactics being employed and tactical proficiency.

  • Ability to attack, defend, and reinforce.

  • Resources available.

  • Leaders and their personalities.

  • Relationship with the civilian population.

  • Status of supplies.

  • Effectiveness of communications.

  • Effectiveness of intelligence and counterintelligence.

  • Lines of communications.

  • Vulnerabilities.

  • External support.

  • Mine/countermine ability.

  • Population control.

  • Recruiting procedures.

  • Tax collection.

c. Terrain and Weather. When evaluating the effects of terrain and weather on COIN operations, the commander considers those factors normally considered on any operation along with--

    (1) Effects of seasons of the year (to include planting and harvesting periods), phases of the moon, and coastal tides.

    (2) Suitability of terrain (to include landing zones and pickup zones, ports, and airfields) and road networks for tactical and logistic operations.

    (3) Urban areas that may be of vital importance. The commander evaluates the type and number of structures, and determines their effect on military operations. He should specifically consider the location of hospitals, utilities, police stations, military barracks, airfields, radio/TV stations, communications centers, bridges, tunnels, overpasses, and railroad tracks.

d. Troops and Resources Available. The commander has a variety of combat, CS, and CSS assets at his disposal. These assets may be from US forces and civilian agencies, from host country forces and civilian agencies, or from a combination of these. The circumstances of counterguerrilla warfare require that senior commanders allow subordinate leaders much flexibility in accomplishing their missions. Successful COIN operations depend on the commander using his available assets to maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses. To do so, the commander appraises the abilities and limitations of his assets. He organizes and employs them on suitable missions.

e. Time. Commanders at all levels must plan and prepare to execute contingency operations. When a contingency mission arises, the basic plan can be used as the basis for the detailed planning process. Routine tasks should be identified in SOPs and understood by all.

    (1) Planning time may be limited. Warning orders and OPORDs may be issued orally. In these instances, the one-third, two-thirds rule applies: the commander uses one-third of the available time for his own planning and allows two-thirds of the available time for his subordinates to develop their plans and to issue their orders. Planning time can be so limited that the formal planning process may not be feasible. Therefore, commanders direct their subordinates by using FRAGOs. The ability to execute quickly, based on real-time intelligence, is critical to success.

    (2) US forces involved in FIDAF operations should expect to stay in the host country only until the host country forces can assume missions the COIN force is accomplishing. No matter how successful the FIDAF, the insurgency is not defeated until the political, economic, and social problems are corrected or removed.

f. Political. The commander must face various political considerations. The military, normally working with the host nation's forces, supports US political objectives. Success is based on the achievement of those political objectives.

    (1) US forces engaged in COIN operations function under restrictions not encountered in other types of warfare. Some of these restrictions are treaties, limitations on movement, and ROE. These restrictions may hamper efforts to find and destroy the insurgent.

    (2) The insurgent is aware of the limitations placed on the COIN force. To capitalize on the situation, he tries to engage US forces where US fire could cause collateral damage or fratricide. The safety of noncombatants and their property is vital to maintaining the legitimacy of the host government.

    (3) Political factors influence the conduct of COIN operations. These operations become a contest between the host government and insurgents concerning political, social, religious, or economic issues. The government and its representatives must present themselves and their program as the better choice.

    (4) Commanders must prepare to operate in a broad range of political atmospheres. The host country's form of government may be an autocracy, a struggling democracy, and so on.

    (5) Regardless of the political atmosphere in the host country, the brigade commander must effectively engage the insurgent. However, he should act within the limits of his authority to improve the conditions of the government he was sent to support. Any incidents of corruption, gross incompetence, or infringement on human rights should be reported to higher headquarters. The commander can also offer ways to accomplish the same objective. The US government is responsible for influencing the host government's attitude toward democratic principles--it is not the commander's responsibility.

    (6) Situations may arise where specific authority in a local area is not apparent. The higher headquarters determines who is in authority before inserting US forces. However, the COIN force commander may need to coordinate directly with local government officials to locate sources of authority and decision. When the commander meets government officials who hinder operations against the insurgents, he should document the incident and forward the documentation to the next higher commander for action.


The commander uses several principles for determining how to organize and conduct operations within the area of responsibility (AOR).

a. Tactical Intelligence. Tactical intelligence is the key to defeating the insurgent. It provides the commander information on insurgent locations, activities, strengths, weaknesses, and plans. These help the commander seize the initiative. Without timely intelligence, the commander's chances of success are limited, mainly in offensive operations. All relevant sources of information in the commander's AOR should be exploited and include counterintelligence agents (from division to corps) and host government civilian agencies.

b. Tactical Situation. The organization for, and conduct of, COIN operations depends on METT-T and the LIC imperatives. Commanders organize and employ units to counter the insurgent threat. These units conduct independent operations, such as patrols, raids, and ambushes, under centralized control (battalion or brigade). This enables the task force commander to find the enemy with the smallest element and to mass his forces rapidly.

c. Flexibility. Forces engaged in COIN operations must be flexible and able to adapt to a rapidly changing tactical situations. COIN warfare requires that units make swift transitions from large-unit to small-unit operations; adjust to extremes of terrain, weather, and visibility; move on foot, by vehicle, or by aircraft; and function in offensive or defensive modes.

d. Mobility. COIN forces must possess mobility equal to or greater than that of the insurgent. The use of rotary-wing aircraft, and armored and motorized vehicles to support infantry results in a tactical mobility advantage. Also, commanders should not overburden soldiers; the soldier's load must be tailored to METT-T factors. Resupply is executed by ground or air. Armor, cavalry, and mechanized vehicles are good for securing key points such as major road junctions, bridges, tunnels, canal locks, dams, and power plants.

e. Use of Force. Only the minimum required firepower is employed to accomplish the mission. Snipers are useful when US forces come under insurgent fire. They allow the commander to fix the insurgent and move his forces to positions from which he can engage the insurgent without endangering civilian lives or property. The commander can employ smoke and, if authorized, riot-control agents to aid maneuver. If the insurgents cannot be engaged without endangering civilian life or property, the commander tries to disengage his forces and to move them to positions that block escape routes. However, the commander uses whatever means are available to protect his forces, even though civilians may be placed at risk.

    (1) The unlimited use of firepower directed against civilians or their property may cause them to embrace the insurgent's cause. US soldiers must understand this and follow strict ROE. The right to self-defense is never denied but may be limited.

    (2) All available firepower may be brought to bear on insurgents when it does not endanger civilian life or property.

f. Patience. COIN forces must be ready for long periods without contact. The insurgent knows he is overmatched, and he avoids engagement unless it is on his terms. COIN forces should not develop a false sense of security even if the insurgent appears to have ceased operations. The commander must assume that the insurgent is observing their operations and is seeking routines, weak points, and lax security to strike with minimum risk. An insurgent attack must be expected at any time.

g. Reserves. The commander maintains a reserve to take advantage of opportunities that occur on the battlefield and to counter insurgent initiatives. The size of the reserve depends on the size of its parent unit and the tactical situation. The reserve force is not given other specific missions.

    (1) In offensive operations, a company might keep a squad or platoon in reserve; battalions might keep a platoon; and a brigade might keep a company.

    (2) In defensive operations, due to the need for all-round security, a reserve at company and battalion is complicated by the reduced on-line strength of the perimeter. The commander has the following options:

  • To establish a small, centrally located reserve at the expense of on-line strength.

  • To establish no reserve but to specify units on-line to be ready to shift part of their strength to other sections of the perimeter.

  • To consider reducing the size of the perimeter.

    (3) Brigades should also maintain a company in reserve in defensive operations. This mission should be rotated among companies, with the company that has spent the most time in the field (or that has seen the heaviest action) chosen as the reserve. The reserve company can rest, reconstitute, rearm, and train during the time it has the reserve mission.

    (4) The reserve unit should be highly mobile. Air transport is the preferred method for moving the reserve. It is fast and does not depend on open ground routes as motorized or mechanized modes of transport. Whatever its mode of transportation, the reserve's vehicles are dedicated to the reserve and always available for employment. The reserve unit is prepared for contingency missions. If the reserve is committed, the commander selects a new reserve. Normally, his least committed unit is the first choice.

    (5) Armor, cavalry, and mechanized infantry forces provide a good reaction force for both offensive and defensive operations.


Brigades and battalion task forces, as part of the JTF; are task-organized to fight as combined arms. The combined arms organization in LIC is equally as important as in conventional war. This organization is based on METT-T and the LIC imperatives.

a. Infantry Battalions. Battalions, whether heavy or light, provide the basic building block for the COIN organization.

b. Infantry Brigades. Brigades provide the required command and control apparatus to conduct sustained tactical operations in COIN. Also, they allocate resources to their subordinate battalions. Brigades coordinate with their divisional headquarters or directly with members of the country team or the host nation.

c. Augmentation. Because of the diverse nature of operations in a LIC environment, brigades should expect to be augmented with--

  • Military police with working dogs.

  • Civil affairs units.

  • Public affairs units.

  • Engineers.

  • Air defense artillery.

  • Intelligence and electronic warfare units.

  • Army aviation.

  • Psychological operations units.

  • Medical units.

  • Field artillery.

  • Special operations forces.

  • Communications units.

  • Armor units.

  • Transportation units.

  • Quartermaster units.

d. Special Operations Forces. During COIN operations, SOF can support an allied or friendly government against an insurgent threat. SOF capabilities make these forces ideally suited to support FID programs in a COIN environment. The primary SOF mission in FID is to advise, train, and assist host nation military and paramilitary forces. However, SOF may conduct MOUT operations for the release of hostages or may recover stolen equipment or weapons. Battalion and brigade commanders must be prepared to support these operations or to conduct MOUT operations of their own. (See FM 90 10-1.)

e. Other Joint Task Force Assets. The brigades and battalions are supported by other assets belonging to the JTF. They include USAF and US Navy aviation of all types, NGF support, and support from the host nation.

Section III.

The battalion or brigade task force is the Army component of the JTF. Battalions and brigades are task-organized to conduct offensive operations. For purposes of organization and clarity, operations are discussed under those phases of an insurgency in which they are most often conducted. US forces will most likely be committed during Phase III of a counterinsurgency. However, depending on the tactical situation, these operations, or combinations and variations of them, may be conducted during any of the three phases of insurgent activity: latent and incipient insurgency, guerrilla warfare, and war of movement.


Phase I ranges from subversive activity with only a potential threat (latent or incipient) to situations in which frequent subversive incidents and activities occur in an organized pattern. It involves no major outbreak of violence. Insurgent activities during Phase I may include attacks on police forces, other terrorist activities, and minor military operations. These operations are conducted to gain influence over the population or to provide arms for the movement and to challenge the government's ability to maintain law and order. Also, they lay the groundwork for extensive external materiel support. This support is vital for expanding the insurgency and its eventual success. Operations that may be conducted are as follows:

a. Police-Type Operations. These operations control the movement of insurgents or insurgents and their material. They are executed by host country police, paramilitary, or military forces. This is not always possible, and US forces may need to conduct police-type operations until host country forces are available. (Under US law, the military cannot advise or train foreign police forces unless directed to do so by the Department of State.)

    (1) The joint patrol is the preferred technique. This type of operation involves both US and host nation forces operating together.

    (2) If US forces must conduct this type of operation unilaterally, MP units are best suited. When MP units are not available, combat forces are used.

    (3) When conducting police operations, host government representatives with US troops serve as interpreters and advise on local customs and courtesies. When performing these duties, US troops treat passive civilians and their property with courtesy and respect.

b. Search Operations. The need for a COIN force to conduct search operations or to employ search procedures is continuous. They force normally conducts search operations in support of offensive operations, but they may conduct searches as the main effort in populace and resource control operations. A search may be oriented toward people, materiel, buildings, or terrain. It usually involves both civil police and military personnel.

    (1) Since misuse of search authority can adversely affect the outcome of operations, searches must be lawful and properly recorded to be of legal value. Proper use of authority gains the respect and support of the people. Abusive, excessive, or inconsiderate search methods may temporarily suppress the insurgent force or expose elements of it. However, such methods may increase the civilian population's sympathy for and support of the insurgent.

    (2) Authority for search operations is carefully reviewed. Military personnel must perform searches only in areas within military jurisdiction (or where otherwise lawful). Their purpose is to apprehend suspects or to secure evidence that proves an offense has been committed. Usually, special laws regulate the search powers of the military forces. These laws are given wide dissemination.

    (3) Search teams have detailed instructions on controlled items. Lists of prohibited or controlled-distribution items, such as chemicals, medicines, and machine tools, should be distributed. The military or civil police who administer the populace and resources control program are contacted before the conduct of search operations. They may also be contacted again if search operations are continuous.

    (4) Search operations that involve US forces may not be effective when language problems prevent communication with the local population. US units on a search mission must be augmented with interrogators or host nation interpreters. Also, the distribution of leaflets before the search and the use of loudspeaker teams during the search aid the effort by informing the populace.

    (5) The pace at which a search operation is conducted is slow enough to allow for an effective search. It must not be so slow that it allows the insurgent force time to react to the threat of the search. If active resistance develops to the search operation, offensive operations are conducted to counter the resistance. (See FM 7-10, Appendix A.)

    (6) Search teams must consider the return to an area after the initial search. This can surprise and remove insurgents or their infrastructure, which may not have been detected or may have returned.

c. Search of Individuals. Any individual can be an insurgent or sympathizer. However, searchers must avoid mistaking all suspects for the enemy. They may, in fact, support the host country government. It is during the initial handling of individuals about to be searched that the greatest caution is required. During the search, one member of a search team always covers the other member who makes the actual search. (See Appendix C.)

d. Checkpoints and roadblocks. Roadblocks, checkpoints, and searches help control the movement of vehicles, personnel, and material along a specific route. Established infantry doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures still apply in a LIC environment, but they are employed based on METT-T and the LIC imperatives.

    (1) A roadblock limits the movement of vehicles along a route or closes access to certain areas or roads. Checkpoints are manned locations used to control movement. With a checkpoint, a roadblock channels vehicles and personnel to the search area. Roadblocks may be set up on a temporary, surprise basis or may be semipermanent in nature. They are used--

  • To maintain a continuous check on road movement, to apprehend suspects, and to prevent smuggling of controlled items.

  • To prevent infiltration of unauthorized civilians into or through a controlled area.

  • To check vehicles for explosive devices.

  • To ensure proper use of routes by both civilian and military vehicles.

    (2) Checkpoints can be called deliberate or hasty. The deliberate checkpoint is positioned in a town or in the open country, often on a main road. It acts as a useful deterrent to unlawful movement. The hasty checkpoint is highly mobile and is quickly positioned in a town or in the open country. The actual location of the hasty checkpoint is critical for achieving success.

      (a) Concealment of a checkpoint is best but often not possible. The location should hinder turning back or reversing a vehicle without being observed. Culverts, bridges, or deep cuts may be good locations. Positions beyond sharp curves have the advantage. Drivers do not see the checkpoint soon enough to avoid inspection. Safety disadvantages may outweigh the advantages of such positions. Lack of good roads increases the effect of a well-placed checkpoint.

      (b) A checkpoint requires adequate troops to prevent ambush and surprise by an insurgent force. An element of the checkpoint force is positioned and concealed 100 meters or more from the checkpoint. This prevents the escape of any vehicle or person trying to turn back when sighting the checkpoint. The vehicle, driver, and passengers are searched. If the checkpoint is manned for a long time, part of the force is allowed to rest. The rest area is located near the search area so that soldiers can be assembled quickly as a reserve force. (See FM 7-10.)

e. Search of Built-Up Areas--Cordon and Search Operations. Searches of built-up areas require unique techniques, principles, and command and control. These operations involve dividing built-up areas into zones and assigning a search party to each. The search party is subdivided into a search element to conduct the search and a cordon element to surround the area. (See FM 7-10, Appendix A)

    (1) Techniques. Police and military forces who operate in built-up areas practice search techniques in built-up areas. These techniques are required for searching either a few isolated huts or buildings, or for searching well-developed urban sections. Search operations in built-up areas require thorough planning and rehearsing. Emphasis should be on the following:

      (a) Divide the area to be searched into zones (buildings should be numbered), and assign a search party to each. A search party consists of a search element (to conduct the search), a security element (to encircle the area to prevent entrance and exit, and to secure open areas), and a reserve element (to assist).

  • The search element conducts the mission assigned for the operation. Normally it is organized into teams based on METT-T.

  • The security element surrounds the area while the search element moves in. Members of the security element focus on evaders from the populated area. However, they can stop insurgents trying to reinforce. Checkpoints and roadblocks are set up. Subsurface routes of escape, such as subways and sewers, must be considered when operating in cities.

  • The reserve element is a mobile force within a nearby area. It assists the other two elements if they meet strong resistance. Also, this element can replace or reinforce either of the other two elements.

      (b) Consider all enemy materials boobytrapped until inspection proves them safe. This includes propaganda signs and leaflets.

      (c) Search underground and underwater areas. All freshly excavated ground can be a hiding place. Use mine detectors to locate metal objects underground and underwater.

      (d) Deploy rapidly, especially when an insurgent force is still in the area to be searched. Surround the entire area to be searched at the same time. If this is not possible, use observed fire to cover that portion not covered by soldiers.

    (2) Principles. A principle when searching a built-up area is to conduct the search with little inconvenience to the populace. The populace may be inconvenienced to the point where it discourages insurgents and insurgent sympathizers from remaining in the locale, but not to the point that it would collaborate with the insurgent force. The large-scale search of a built-up area is normally a combined civil police and military operation. The COIN force plans it in detail and rehearses when possible. It avoids a physical reconnaissance of the area just before a search. Information needed about the terrain may be obtained from aerial photographs. In larger towns or cities, the local police may have detailed maps that show relative size and location of buildings. For success, the search plan must be simple and be executed swiftly.

    (3) Command and control. Normally, a search involving a battalion or larger force is best controlled by the military commander with the civil police in support. A search involving a smaller force is best controlled by the civil police with the military in support. Regardless, host country police perform the actual search when available in adequate numbers and when trained in search operations. (See Appendix C.)

f. Aerial Search Operations. Search units mounted in armed helicopters use the mobility and firepower of these aircraft to the fullest. (This may affect the morale of the insurgent force.)

    (1) Air assault combat patrols, conducting an aerial search, reconnoiter an assigned area or route in search of insurgent forces. When an insurgent force is located, the air assault combat patrol may engage it from the air or may land and engage it on the ground. This technique has little value in areas of dense vegetation. Use of air assault combat patrols should be limited to those operations in which enough intelligence exists and in conjunction with ground operations.

    (2) In ground search operations, helicopters insert troops in an area suspected of containing insurgent elements. With helicopters overwatching from the air, troops search the area. Troops are then picked up and the process is repeated in other areas.

    (3) Members of air assault combat patrols should be trained in tracking procedures or be accompanied by trackers from the host nation. This enables the patrol to follow the insurgents to their base. If the patrol encounters a large insurgent force, the reserves (ready forces) are committed. Plans must provide for evacuation of prisoners, casualties, and material.

g. Civil Disturbance and Riot Control. US forces involved in COIN operations may be tasked to assist host country police and military forces in restoring order disrupted by civil disturbance or riot. If so, US force involvement should be limited to containing the disturbance and protecting US lives and property. Suppressing demonstrators or riots should be left entirely to host country forces. Direct action by US troops against demonstrators or rioters can be used by the insurgents and their sympathizers. Such action may be misconstrued as brutal suppression of legitimate dissent and used as a propaganda weapon. (See FM 19-15 for further information on specific techniques.)


In Phase II, having gained enough local or external support, the insurgent initiates organized guerrilla warfare or related forms of violence against the government. The major military goal is to gain control of resources and the population in new areas. The government is forced to overtax limited assets, trying to protect everything at the same time. Insurgent forces try to hold government troops in static defenses, to interdict and destroy LOC, and to capture or destroy supplies and other government resources. Small-unit operations are used against insurgent activities in Phase II of an insurgency. The search-and-attack technique is most effective since a small unit can cover more territory than a large unit. The small unit keeps the insurgent off balance, and friendly firepower can provide a favorable ratio in meeting engagements. US operations include all those conducted in Phase I plus raids and ambushes. Forces conduct extensive reconnaissance patrolling to find raid and ambush targets and sites.

a. AirLand Battle Doctrine and LIC. AirLand Battle doctrine describes the Army's approach to generating and applying combat power at the operational and tactical levels. This doctrine applies to LIC as in the remainder of the operational continuum. It is based on security and retaining the initiative and exercising it to accomplish the mission. The commander accomplishes this with operations that are rapid, unpredictable, violent, and disorienting to the insurgent. At the tactical level, the planning must be flexible enough to capitalize on fleeting opportunities and to respond to changes, yet precise enough to preserve synchronization throughout the battle. Success in LIC depends on the ability of battalion and brigade commanders to carry the fight to the enemy in accordance with the tenets of AirLand Battle.

    (1) Agility. The ability of friendly forces to act faster than the enemy is agility. Agility is the first prerequisite for seizing and holding the initiative by the COIN force commander. It permits the rapid and repeated concentration of friendly strength against an enemy that is increasingly vulnerable. It also allows commanders to fix with one force while attacking with another. To achieve agility, leaders at all levels must overcome friction and "read the battlefield." Battalion and brigade commanders must decide quickly and act without hesitation. In the LIC environment, commanders are responsible for large areas; contacts begin with small forces. Battalion and brigade commanders must be prepared to risk commitment without complete information. They must not forfeit the opportunity to act.

    (2) Initiative. Setting or changing the terms of battle by action is initiative. Initiative implies an offensive spirit in the conduct of all operations. The commander's goal is to force the enemy to conform to the commander's operational purpose and tempo, while retaining freedom of action. Initiative requires soldiers and leaders to act independently and audaciously within the framework of the commander's intent. In the LIC environment, the insurgents must never be allowed to recover from the initial shock of the attack. This is accomplished by a thorough and ongoing IPB supported by aggressive patrolling. More importantly, continuous joint operations, especially during limited visibility that targets both combat forces and logistics operations, create a rapidly changing and ambiguous situation that denies the insurgent bases, resources, and a safe haven. This prevents enemy commanders from massing their forces, because they lose the ability to anticipate key events on the battlefield.

    (3) Depth. The extension of operations in space, time, and resources is depth Commanders obtain the needed space to maneuver, the needed time to plan, and the needed resources to win through depth. Momentum in the attack is achieved and maintained when resources and forces are concentrated to sustain operations over extended periods. In LIC, tactical commanders fight the insurgent throughout the depth of his dispositions to degrade the insurgent's freedom of action, to reduce his flexibility and endurance, and to upset his plans and coordination. Commanders must retain highly mobile reserves to exploit tactical opportunities. They must also guard their own freedom of action by protecting their rear areas and support forces.

    (4) Synchronization. The arrangement of battlefield activities with regard to time, space, and purpose to produce maximum relative combat power at the decisive point is synchronization. Synchronization includes, but is not limited to, the concentration of forces and fires at the decisive point. Commanders must consider employing air, Army aviation, artillery, CS, and CSS assets while covering large areas and conducting continuous operations. Also, battalion and brigade commanders must evaluate both the capabilities and limitations of host nation forces, mainly their ability to interface doctrinally with US forces.

b. Combat Imperatives. The seven combat imperatives of AirLand Battle doctrine find their basis in the principles of war. These imperatives are--

    (1) Ensure unity of effort. The principles for this imperative are the objective, unity of command, and simplicity. Unity of effort requires the commander to understand the overall US objective and how his operations support that objective. He applies the principles underlying this imperative in such a way that the effects of his operations are not a detriment to attaining the overall US objective.

    (2) Direct friendly strengths against enemy weaknesses. The principles for this imperative are maneuver and surprise. The commander minimizes and protects his weaknesses, and uses his strengths against the guerrilla's weak points. To do this, he knows the enemy's organization, equipment, and tactics. In addition to knowing how the guerrilla fights, it is important for the commander to understand why the guerrilla fights.

    (3) Designate and sustain the main effort. The principles for this imperative are mass and economy of force. The Army cannot be everywhere at once. It cannot do everything at once. Priorities are set at tactical and operational levels to determine where the main effort is to occur and what goal is to be achieved.

    (4) Sustain the fight. The force may have to operate for extended periods on limited logistics. To sustain momentum, the commander deploys forces in adequate depth and arranges for service support when needed. The commander is audacious and presses soldiers and systems to the limits of endurance.

    (5) Move fast, strike hard, and finish rapidly. The principles for this imperative are maneuver and mass. Speed and mobility are essential. To avoid detection, US forces employ deception techniques, COMSEC, and OPSEC. While the overall conflict may be prolonged, the tactical operations are executed with speed to retain initiative and freedom of action. This is balanced against the need for patience.

    (6) Use terrain and weather. The guerrilla force is familiar with the terrain and comfortable with the climate. Reconnaissance and intelligence (if accomplished effectively) give the commander a decisive edge in anticipating difficulties with terrain and weather. He uses both to his advantage.

    (7) Protect the force. Successful commanders preserve the strength of their force. They do so through security, by keeping troops healthy and equipment ready, and by sustaining discipline and morale. The guerrilla seeks to degrade the morale of the force through the use of PSYOP and harassment. His tactics are geared to wear down his opponent's will to fight. The commander trains his soldiers and constantly reminds them of exactly what the mission is and why it is important to complete the mission.


The situation moves from Phase II to Phase III when insurgency becomes a war of movement between organized insurgent forces and forces of the established government.

a. During Phase III insurgent activities conducted in Phases I and II are continued and expanded. As the insurgency enters Phase III, the insurgent masses his forces and openly challenges government forces. Larger insurgent units fight government forces and attempt to seize key geographical and political objectives. They may begin to use conventional warfare tactics to a greater extent. The insurgent may even elect to stand and fight in the defense of terrain if he feels that it is in his best interest to retain it. He may deal government forces a serious military or political defeat by defending successfully. This is the phase in which US combat forces would most likely be committed.

b. Also in this phase, conventional warfare begins. The operations that supported Phase I and Phase II continue. Commanders conduct offensive operations that maintain unremitting, direct pressure against the enemy while maneuvering to prevent his retreat or escape. They make full use of fire support, maneuver forces, and offensive EW. However, actions to prevent injury or death of innocent people and destruction of property still apply.

Section IV.

This section discusses defensive operations that brigades and subordinate units may conduct. It also provides guidance to commanders concerned with the defense of various types of temporary or semipermanent bases. These include logistic installations, support bases, airfields, and airbases under varying conditions of security that may exist in an area of operations. This applies to the defense of civilian communities. Commanders responsible for bases, facilities, communities, and critical sites should exercise those principles and techniques discussed that apply to their situation.


Defense and security of tactical units and installations are integral parts of combat missions. (The term "base" is used to include all types of facilities to be defended.) The area commander executes base defense operations. His responsibilities include protecting the resources of his area from interruptions caused by enemy activities. This is a territorial responsibility in which base commanders provide for the local defense of their immediate base areas. Also, base commanders may provide resources for other activities, which may be classified as rear battle. Forces set up the base defense environment in a region controlled by friendly forces. However, the area is not secure enough to prevent insurgents from moving in small groups, establishing firing positions, or mounting small-scale attacks. The best technique is the perimeter defense. (See FM 7-20 and FM 7-30.)

a. Conditions that may characterize the environment for base defense are as follows:

    (1) US forces are in a host country.

    (2) Other nations in similar roles may be in the same host country.

    (3) Unity of command or a combined headquarters may exist.

    (4) Although there is organized armed conflict, there is no recognized state of war.

    (5) External support may be provided to the insurgents, both overtly and covertly. Nations or groups supporting the insurgents may provide sanctuaries where insurgent forces may establish base areas.

    (6) Paramilitary forces may assume increased responsibilities.

    (7) The insurgents do not normally maintain contact.

    (8) Insurgents usually do not hold territory. They may disperse and avoid combat at the appearance of a stronger force.

b. A base defense consists of both normal and emergency local military measures to nullify or reduce the effect of enemy attacks or sabotage. It ensures the continued effectiveness of its facilities and units to fulfill their missions.

c. The base commander is responsible for perimeter defense of his base. All forces, regardless of branch of service, that are assigned to the base are OPCON to the base commander for the purpose of its defense. Forces assigned to the base for other purposes also assist in local defense during an attack. Each commander of forces located at a base is responsible for--

    (1) Participating in preparation of base defense plans, and training his forces for base defense.

    (2) Providing facilities and personnel for the base defense operations center and the base defense force staff.

    (3) Providing for internal security of his own command.

d. Command relationships for base defense operations provide unity of command. The urgency of base defense operations requires a chain of command, which is understood by all personnel.


Commanders establish a base defense with available forces to provide all-round security. This base defense includes detailed planning and centralized control. Security measures may also include provisions to protect adjacent civilian communities. Constant and aggressive action by friendly elements against enemy forces constitutes a major element of base defense. Vigilance and sound security measures reduce enemy interference with operations at the base. It also tends to cause enemy forces to divert their operations from the area. (For joint operations, see FM 90-12.)

a. Use of Terrain. Proper area evaluation and organization are vital to reduce the number of forces required for base defense. Factors are as follows:

    (1) The natural defensive characteristics of the terrain.

    (2) Existing roads and waterways for military LOC and civilian commerce.

    (3) The control of land and water areas and avenues of approach surrounding the base complex to a range beyond that of enemy mortars and rockets.

    (4) The control of airspace.

    (5) The proximity to critical sites such as airfields, power generation plants, and civic buildings.

b. Security. Early warning of pending enemy actions provides the base commander time to react to any threat. Outposts, patrols, MP, ground surveillance and countermortar radar, military working dogs, and air R&S provide early warning. Civilian informants and actions of indigenous personnel near the base indicate pending enemy actions. Security measures vary with enemy threat, forces available, and other factors; all-round security is essential.

c. Mutual Support. Defending forces ensure mutual employment of defensive resources, which include fires, observation, and maneuver elements. Mutual support between defensive elements requires careful planning, positioning, and coordinating due to the circular aspects of the base area. To control gaps, forces employ surveillance, obstacles, prearranged fires, and maneuver. Defensive plans provide for the use of all available support, including attack helicopters, AC-130 and CAS. Fratricide must be avoided.

d. Perimeter Defense. A perimeter defense is oriented in all directions. The battalion can organize a perimeter defense to accomplish a specific mission or to provide immediate self-protection such as during resupply operations. A perimeter is established when the battalion or brigade must hold critical terrain in areas where the defense is not tied in with adjacent units. This can occur when the battalion or brigade is operating behind enemy lines or when it is securing an isolated objective such as a bridge, mountain pass, or airfield. The battalion or brigade may also form a perimeter when it has been bypassed and isolated by the enemy and must defend in place.

    (1) The need to hold or protect features, such as bridges, airfields, or LZs, from enemy observation and fires may restrict the positioning of units within a perimeter. These factors, and an inability to achieve depth, also make a perimeter defense vulnerable to armor. The commander reduces these vulnerabilities by doing the following:

      (a) Positioning antiarmor weapons systems on armor-restrictive terrain to concentrate fires on armor approaches.

      (b) Providing as much depth as the diameter of the perimeter allows through his location of security elements, the reserve, and secondary sectors of fire of antitank weapons.

      (c) Constructing obstacles to fix or block the enemy so he can be effectively engaged.

    (2) Perimeters vary in shape, depending on the terrain and situation. If the commander determines the most probable direction of enemy attack, he may weight that part of the perimeter to cover that approach. The perimeter shape conforms to the terrain feature that best uses friendly observation and fields of fire. The effectiveness of the perimeter may be enhanced by tying it in to a natural obstacle, such as a river, allowing combat power to be concentrated in more threatened sectors.

    (3) Several methods may be used to organize a battalion or brigade perimeter. One method is to place all platoons or companies in the battalion in positions on the perimeter. This is least desirable since it facilitates an enemy penetration. However, certain positioning techniques can create some depth in the defense.

      (a) The perimeter is divided into company sectors with boundaries and coordinating points, which are established based on the same considerations discussed earlier. When possible, two platoons (each with three squads abreast) are placed on the outer perimeter and one platoon is placed on the inner perimeter. This gives depth to the company position and facilitates control. It also gives one platoon from each rifle company the mission to support front-line platoons (just as in the defense). Also, it enables the company commander to locate his CP and his 60-mm mortars near the reserve platoon, enhancing control and security.

      (b) The battalion commander may elect to assign two rifle companies to the outer perimeter and the third to an inner perimeter. Regardless of the method used, the inner perimeter should be far enough from the outer perimeter to prevent the enemy from suppressing both with the same fires. However, the inner perimeter must be close enough to support the outer perimeter with small-arms fire. Gaps on the outer perimeter that may exist between units in open terrain must be covered by fire. When units are in restrictive terrain with restricted fields of fire and observation, no gaps should be allowed, and a narrower frontage may be required. This may also require the company commander to deploy all his platoons on line.

    (4) The commander ensures the outer perimeter positions have rearward protection from inner perimeter weapons, once the inner perimeter is established.

    (5) Combat vehicles supporting the defense are normally assigned firing positions on the perimeter, covering the most likely mounted avenue of approach. Additional firing positions and routes to them should be selected and prepared. If the perimeter has several mounted approaches, combat vehicles may be held in a mobile position. Therefore, for all positions, units must prepare routes, firing positions, and range cards in advance. Also, commanders must ensure that vehicles do not destroy wire communications.

    (6) Isolation may drive the battalion or brigade commander to form a perimeter. If so, combat and combat support elements from other units may seek the battalion's protection. These units are given missions based on their support abilities. Any fire support provided from outside the perimeter is coordinated and integrated into the overall defensive plan. This extra fire support conserves the ammunition of units within the perimeter.

    (7) Each battalion commander normally employs the scout platoon outside the perimeter for early warning. He may augment security with squad-sized or smaller elements, which are provided and controlled by units on the perimeter. The security elements are positioned to observe avenues of approach. Patrols cover areas that cannot be observed by stationary elements. If the scout platoon remains under battalion control, it must coordinate with units on the perimeter for a passage of lines.

    (8) Reserve elements may consist of a designated unit or a provisional force organized from headquarters and support personnel. They form the second line of defense behind the perimeter elements. Ideally, reserves are mobile enough to react to enemy action in any portion of the perimeter. They are positioned to block the most dangerous avenue of approach and are assigned on-order positions on other critical avenues. If available, combat vehicles initially occupying firing positions on the perimeter may be tasked to reinforce the reserve on-order.

    (9) The perimeter defense is conducted much like a forward defense. Mortars, FA, tanks, and TOW missile systems engage the enemy at long ranges. As the enemy comes within small-arms range, other weapons on the perimeter engage him. If the assault continues, FPFs are fired. If the perimeter is penetrated, the reserve blocks the penetration or counterattacks to restore the perimeter. After committing the initial reserve, the commander must reconstitute a reserve to meet other threats. This force normally comes from an unengaged unit in another portion of the perimeter. If an unengaged force is used to constitute a new reserve, sufficient forces must be retained to defend the vacated sector.

    (10) CSS elements may support from within the perimeter or from another location, depending on the mission and status of the battalion, the type of transport available, the weather, and the terrain. Resupply is often by air. The availability of LZs and DZs protected from the enemy's observation and fire is a main consideration in selecting and organizing the position. Since aerial resupply is vulnerable to weather and enemy fires, commanders must emphasize supply economy and protection of available stocks.

e. Defense in Depth. Commanders in a LIC environment must recognize the possibility of tying their forces to installations. However, some critical sites may require added protection provided by defense in depth. This must be carefully balanced with the need for aggressive offensive action. Defense in depth will include developing alternate and supplementary positions, allocating more fire support, or simply emphasizing obstacles.

f. Responsiveness. Attacks against a base may range from long-range sniper, mortar, or rocket fire to attacks by suicide demolition squads or by air or major ground forces. The enemy has the advantage of deciding when, where, and with what force he will attack. The defender positions his forces and plans fire and movement so he can respond to the widest range of enemy actions. He prepares plans to include counterattack plans, and he rehearses, evaluates, and revises them as needed.

g. Maximum Use of Offensive Action. Since the objective of the base defense is to maintain a secure base, the defender engages enemy forces with offensive action outside the base. On initial occupation of the base site, friendly forces take offensive actions to destroy enemy forces in the area. The area commander employs patrols, raids, ambushes, air attacks, and supporting fires to harass and destroy a remaining enemy force. Also, laser countermeasure systems are excellent means to defeat insurgent attempts to observe defensive preparations. Once the enemy has been cleared from the area, the base can be defended by a smaller force. The BDF commander maintains constant liaison with major tactical unit commanders in the area to stay abreast of efforts to remove the threat.

h. Use of Passive Defense. All units in the base area are responsible for implementing passive defense. Passive defense reduces the probability (and the effects) of damage caused by hostile action. Responsibility for the conduct of special passive defense measures is assigned to fire fighting units, chemical units, medical units, and other units that can meet passive defensive needs. Also, all units assigned to the base initiate passive defensive measures such as dispersion, camouflage, blackout, and use of shelters. These measures assist in preserving the operating integrity of the base and in ensuring decisive and effective action against enemy attack.

i. Defense Preparations. Implementing base defensive measures in a new base should start before base units arrive. Normally, combat units provide the initial defense in a new base area. These combat forces remain in the base area, conducting aggressive offensive actions, until base units can assume the mission. When base units arrive, they start organizing the base defense. They perform many of the tasks at the same time. However, some tasks require priority. The base commander specifies the sequence for preparing the defensive system. (See FMs 7-8, 7-10, and 7-20 for a recommended sequence for tactical defense.)

j. Reserves. The commander always maintains a reserve to take advantage of sudden opportunities and to counter guerrilla initiatives. The size of the reserve depends on the size of its parent unit and the tactical situation. In offensive operations, a company might keep a squad in reserve; battalions, a platoon; and brigade, a company. In defensive operations, because of the need for allround security, a reserve at company and battalion is complicated by the fact that the on-line strength of the perimeter is reduced.

    (1) The company or battalion commander may have to spread his forces thin to protect his perimeter. In these instances, the commander has four options: establish a small, centrally located reserve at the expense of on-line strength; establish no reserve but specify units on-line to be prepared to shift a portion of their strength to other sections of the perimeter; establish no reserve but reinforce the most heavily contested section of the perimeter by fire; and consider reducing the size of the perimeter.

    (2) Brigades should also maintain a company in reserve in defensive operations. This mission should be rotated among companies, with the company that has spent the most time in the field (or that has seen the heaviest action) being designated as the reserve. The reserve company can rest, rearm, and train during the time it has the reserve mission.

    (3) The reserve unit should be highly mobile. Air transport is the preferred method for moving the reserve, because it is fast and does not depend on open ground routes as do motorized or mechanized modes of transport. Whatever its mode of transport, the reserve's vehicles are dedicated to the reserve and immediately available for employment.

    (4) Reserve units are prepared for contingency missions. If the reserve is committed, the commander designates a new reserve. In this case, his least committed unit is the first choice.


Detailed reconnaissance and counterreconnaissance plans, based on IPB, greatly enhance the security of any base. Base defensive operations to counter small groups of enemy forces include aggressive, frequent patrolling by squad-size and platoon-size forces. Night patrols are particularly effective as they will keep the enemy off balance and ensure that US forces own the night. These forces detect and capture or destroy small groups of insurgents. Use of military working dogs adds security and detection ability to patrol operations.

a. Small, highly mobile units who move on foot or by vehicles conduct patrolling during daylight and darkness. The unit may use aircraft or boats. Armor, cavalry, and mechanized infantry forces can be used to patrol regions where the terrain is flat, rolling, and a mixture of open areas and small woods. The mobility and firepower of heavy forces allow for rapid traverse of large areas and the ability to quickly destroy insurgent units encountered. The unit searches populated areas near the base. Also, it establishes surprise checkpoints along known or suspected routes of insurgent communications and employs IEW assets to detect insurgent use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

b. Concealed night ambush sites are randomly manned outside the barrier system trace. Indigenous personnel should accompany ambushes near populated areas. Their knowledge of the local populace and terrain assists the ambush mission. Artillery and mortar targets are registered and plotted to provide rapid on-call support. The unit emplaces detectors and sensors to provide early warning.

c. BDF or other base unit reconnaissance patrols obtain target acquisition data. They may penetrate known insurgent-controlled territory to install sensors that report the enemy's presence along infiltration and supply routes. Also, such patrols observe known infiltration and supply routes, and report activity along these routes. They provide early warning of insurgent assembly of personnel; movement of weapons, ammunition, or other supplies; and preparation of mortar and rocket firing sites. Reconnaissance patrols may also locate suspected areas where other types of surveillance or acquisition systems may be employed to obtain information. Indigenous personnel are assets to reconnaissance patrols. Their knowledge of the terrain, ability to operate in the environment, knowledge of the language, and familiarity with local customs are essential.

d. Units employ combat patrols in difficult terrain far from the base but normally within range of supporting artillery. These patrols may operate out of artillery range when supported by attack helicopters, CAS aircraft, or AC-130 aircraft. They may be supplied by air and equipped to communicate with the base and supporting aircraft. Such patrols vary in size from squad to platoon and are conducted at random times so as not to set a pattern. They perform planned searches to locate areas used by insurgents to hide supplies, regroup, rest, train, or prepare for offensive actions. Small groups of insurgents are engaged and destroyed; large groups are reported and kept under surveillance until they are attacked. Augmentation in the form of local paramilitary guides or trackers increases the effect of combat patrols.

    (1) Reaction force operations. When an insurgent unit is located, the reaction force is deployed rapidly to engage the unit, to disrupt its cohesion, and to destroy it. If the insurgent force cannot be contained and destroyed, patrols maintain contact; reinforcements are dispatched; and the insurgents are pursued. When escape routes have been blocked, the attack continues to destroy the enemy force. Ground and air vehicles and rapid foot movement provide the needed mobility. Wheeled and armored vehicles for reaction forces are also designated.

      (a) Reaction operations are simple, planned, and rehearsed day and night. Primary and alternate points are designated for the release of reaction forces from centralized control. This eases movement against multiple targets. Such points are reconnoitered and photographed for use in planning and briefing. Within security limitations, actual RPs promote familiarity with the area during rehearsals.

      (b) Immediate reaction to any type of attack is vital. It is attained through employing firepower and moving forces and their equipment. Immediate reaction to accurate and timely intelligence may permit destruction of the insurgent force before an attack. Immediate reaction to standoff mortar or rocket fire may permit destruction of the insurgent force during an assault on the base and facilitate blocking routes of withdrawal.

    (2) Host and third country forces. The BDE commander normally considers integrating host and third country forces in the overall base defensive effort with the approval of the JTF commander. The commander emphasizes integration of host country forces in patrol and populace control activities. Both host and third country forces provide local security for their own units; however, to ensure maximum benefit, all local plans should be coordinated with, and integrated in, the base master defense plan. The extent of participation in base defense by host and third country forces depends on the orders and guidance of their governments.


Insurgents may try to sever LOC by various methods. Roads, waterways, and railways can be mined; ambush sites can be located adjacent to LOC; or bridges and tunnels can be destroyed by demolitions. Long LOC cannot be fully secure; however, measures can be enforced to reduce the effect of insurgent activity against LOC.

a. Patrolling by COIN forces increases the chances of detecting insurgents before insurgents can emplace mines or demolitions, or establish ambushes or roadblocks. During Phases I and II of an insurgent action, MP can do some of the patrolling of ground LOC. However, the tactical situation may dictate that combat forces have to perform this mission. These patrols are most effective as combined arms operations that integrate armor, cavalry, and heavy mechanized forces. These forces augmented with engineers, light infantry, ADA, and Army aviation assets are ideal for patrolling and securing LOC.

b. Patrolling is performed regularly, but patrols should not establish a routine. This helps the insurgent to avoid or ambush them. Patrols must be aware of probable ambush sites and choke points where roadblocks or mines and demolitions would be effective.

c. Aerial patrols effectively cover a large area in a short time. Surface patrols are slower, but they can check routes in greater detail. Surface patrol members must be trained in detecting mines and booby traps. Mine detectors and military working dogs, if available, can aid in this task.

d. The main function of a patrol is to check the security of its routes. Usually, manpower constraints prohibit a patrol from being organized and equipped to counter a large insurgent force; however, reinforcement by artillery and attack helicopters increases a patrol's ability to deal with insurgents they encounter. Patrols are organized with enough combat power to survive an initial contact. Recent insurgent activity provides guidance on the organization of patrols. If the insurgent is found in strength, his destruction is a mission for the reaction force. Also, patrols try to make initial contact with the smallest of their elements, which must be skilled in counterambush techniques.

e. Roadblocks, checkpoints, and guard posts at crucial choke points (such as bridges and tunnels) effectively prevent acts of sabotage. Forces stop and search vehicles and persons before they proceed. Forces do not allow vehicles to stop on or under bridges or in tunnels.

f. Personnel watch critical choke points carefully at night by use of night vision equipment and watch curves on railroads. GSR and sensors cover the immediate, surrounding area. Mining indirect approaches to sensitive areas may help lessen the chances of ground attack. The area is ringed with planned artillery fires. Also, personnel construct bunkers to protect guard personnel and to provide positions from which to fight until reinforced. They reinforce underwater approaches to bridges by using booby-trapped obstacles.

g. Engineers help keep LOC open. They can locate and clear mines, clear the terrain at potential ambush sites, and repair damage to roads and trails. They can also prepare defensive systems around choke points.

h. Armor, cavalry, and heavy mechanized units initially secure key points such as major road junctions, bridges, tunnels, canal locks, dams, and power plants.


When insurgent action enters Phase III, the insurgent may begin to attack using conventional tactics. His intentions are to capture and hold facilities, installations, bases, communities, and territory. He also tries to permanently sever crucial LOC.

a. These attacks are similar to those conducted by conventional forces. The insurgent may strike from one or many directions at the same time. As host government and US forces react, enemy and friendly LOC may evolve; however, during the initial stages of the insurgent's offensive campaign, friendly bases, facilities, installations, and even cities may be surrounded and come under siege.

b. The organization of the defense and the construction of physical defenses must be partly completed before the insurgent's attack. This helps the defenders until a counterattack can begin. Once enemy and friendly LOC are established, both sides employ conventional tactics. Initially, however, US forces may need to conduct limited attacks to reopen LOC or to relieve besieged areas.

Section V.

Forces can conduct common operations to offensive and defensive COIN operations during any of the three phases of an insurgency. The extent to which these operations are used depends on the tactical situation.


Commanders plan and conduct all movements of troops and supplies as tactical operations. Emphasis is on extensive security measures. Organization of the movement depends upon the type of movement and whether by ground, air, or water.

a. These security measures may include--

    (1) Secrecy when planning and disseminating orders, strict noise and light discipline during movement, and varying routes and schedules of movement.

    (2) Security forces organized and equipped to ensure effective front, flank, and rear security during movement and halts. Effective all-round security is critical during movement, especially at those points along the route where the formation is most vulnerable to ambush.

    (3) Coordination with supporting air units to ensure an understanding of CAS used to assist the movement, both in enforcing preventive measures and in conducting close combat operations. The need for secrecy may preclude initial air cover, but it will not preclude use of CAS. The use of aerial photographs is crucial.

    (4) Fire support elements that provide close and continuous fire support for the movement.

    (5) Maneuver for counterambush actions. This includes contingency plans for immediate action against an ambush and use of formations, which allow part of the column to be in position to maneuver against an ambush force.

    (6) Communications with supporting units, adjacent host country forces, and higher headquarters to include airborne radio relay.

    (7) Various locations for leaders, communications, and automatic weapons within the movement formation.

    (8) Questions asked of the local civilians along the movement route for intelligence information to include possible insurgent ambush sites.

    (9) Movement by bounds with overwatching fire.

    (10) Use of military working dogs and other ambush detection means.

b. Leaders coordinate planning for movement with military units along routes of movement and consider the following:

    (1) Communications. Communications are vital to the success of movements. Leaders plan radio communication and ensure availability between convoy serials and march units, with artillery FOs and air controllers, and with units and population centers in the areas along the route of movement. Visual and sound signals are prearranged. These signals include colored smoke, identification panels, and whistle or horn signals. While limited, these communication means are effective when prearranged signals and responses are understood and rehearsed.

    (2) Artillery and mortar support. Units may provide artillery and mortar support that is within range of the route of movement or within range of the proposed route. Movements requiring artillery and mortar support have FOs either with them or in supporting observation aircraft. Strip maps marked with planned targets enable personnel (other than FOs) to request fires. Coordination with FDCs that can provide fire along the route of movement ensures that FOs can enter the FDC net, send routine location reports, and request and adjust fires. Leaders must coordinate call signs, frequencies, authentications, areas of possible employment, schedules of movement, and target numbers.

    (3) Aircraft. History shows that the presence of aircraft deters ambushes. Column movement covered by traveling overwatch or bounding overwatch attack helicopters may be requested. These are in conjunction with a route reconnaissance by scout helicopters or fixed-wing strike aircraft. Planning includes the type, number, and method of employment of aircraft. Methods of employment include column cover, air alert, and ground alert. Column cover by fighter aircraft is expensive in terms of crew fatigue and equipment maintenance. Therefore, light observation-type aircraft that can direct on-call air support are used for short movements over often-used routes in more secure areas. When air support is planned, communications information concerning radio frequencies, call signs, and identification procedures is provided units who may use them. Also, the supporting air unit knows the maneuver intentions of the ground element if an ambush occurs.

    (4) Route clearing. This operation must be conducted before critical movements. Route-clearing operations are preceded by a reconnaissance and depend on METT-T considerations. Normally, the units responsible for the area through which the movement will pass are used in routeclearing operations. These route-clearing forces normally include both mounted and dismounted elements. Along with a thorough reconnaissance of the main route of movement, units secure critical terrain near the route by selectively placing tactical units. Engineers with the reconnaissance element identify mobility tasks along the route. Mobility tasks include mine and booby trap clearance, repair of bridges, preparation of fords and bypasses, and route maintenance.

    (5) Reserves. Reserves (ready forces) are vital to countering ambushes. However, the insurgent must be convinced that ambushes produce a fast, relentless, hard-hitting response by COIN supporting forces. These include air strikes and ground pursuit. Before a movement, reserve force commanders and aviators are briefed on the general area of operations, landing zones, and known and suspected insurgent locations. The briefing emphasizes communications. Reserves may have to be moved forward in order to respond quickly if the convoy is moving a long distance.


Special escort attachments may not be available to support all motor movements. Therefore, leaders must prepare convoys to secure themselves for part or all of the distance.

a. When leaders designate a maneuver unit to provide escort for a vehicle convoy, elements of the unit provide escort through their respective areas of responsibility. Armor or armored cavalry units are best suited to provide convoy escorts. Reconnaissance of the route just before the passage of the convoy is best. A single unit may provide escort through other units' areas of responsibility. Therefore, it coordinates closely with the other units to ensure adequate fire support and available reinforcements during passage. Since there is seldom time to issue orders during an ambush, leaders plan the security detachment's actions, which should be rehearsed by drills before movement.

b. Convoy command responsibility is clearly fixed throughout the chain of command (Figure 2-1 ). The commander and his subordinates are briefed on the latest information about the area through which they are to pass. The commander formulates his plans and issues his orders to include formation, intervals between echelons and vehicles, rate of travel, and detailed plans for action if an insurgent force attacks the convoy. All personnel board their vehicle for rapid dismount into predrilled formations. Arms and ammunition are readied for immediate action. Also, vehicle commanders assume responsibility for keeping personnel alert.

Figure 2-1. Convoy command responsibility.

c. Units must harden vehicles for protection against mines. They sandbag the floors and sides and place heavy rubber mats over the sandbag flooring to reduce secondary fragments.


The primary mission of train personnel and combat or security troops is to ensure the train reaches its destination.

a. Concept. As long as the train continues to move, control remains with the train crew. If an ambush or firefight develops and the train cannot disengage by movement forward or backward, the escort commander assumes command. He defends the train with all available personnel. If there is no escort, the senior military member aboard assumes command. Radio communications are used to call for assistance. Security detachments guarding the right of way have their own communication system, which may be tied into the railway communication system.

b. Organization. Railway installations and rail traffic are secured by establishing defined areas of responsibility. The highest level of command normally publishes SOPs on organization for rail movement. Leaders coordinate rail security with area and tactical commands that provide support.

c. Operations. Leaders use armored trains for patrolling track where insurgent activity is expected. They operate tactically under orders of the appropriate military commander. Since the operation of an armored train is different from that of other trains, the military transportation service assigns a specially selected train crew. This crew coordinates the train movement with that of other trains, considering the tactical situation. Railway flatcars can be prepared for defense by piling sandbags on the floor and at the sides, and by mounting machine guns, mortars, and rocket launchers. These cars must not be placed next to cars containing gasoline, ammunition, or other flammables. Locomotives should be preceded by two or more cars loaded with sandbags, rocks, or scrap material for protection against mines and obstructions. On a single-track rail division subject to insurgent attack, leaders employ the positive-block method of operations. In this method, a following train is not permitted to enter a block until the preceding train has cleared it. This permits the train in the block, if attacked, to back up and receive reinforcements by train from either direction.


Leaders can conduct COIN operations in large inundated areas (lakes, coastal waters, flooded delta areas, and inland water ways) that are inhabited by large population segments and have limited rail and road nets. The ability of the COIN force to operate in these areas is required for successful missions. (See FMs 31-11 and 31-12 for amphibious operations.)

a. Mission and Concept. Personnel may use boats to perform many tactical and logistic tasks. Waterway movement of troops and supplies is planned and conducted in much the same manner as mounted movements on land; however, special characteristics of water transportation must be considered. The COIN force may engage in riverine operations along with host country ground and naval forces, paramilitary forces, US Army waterborne transportation forces, and US Navy forces.

b. Organization. When a large waterborne force moves, it adopts a march formation similar to a ground convoy. Advance and rear guards in boats are organized. Patrols in boats may provide flank security in adjacent streams or on foot on the banks. Unlike ground convoy procedures, movement is not always in file or column formation. The formation depends upon the purpose of the movement, the strength of the friendly force, and the width of the stream. It is based on the same considerations as those for combat formations on land. These include control, security, flexibility, speed of reaction, observation, and fields of fire.

c. Operations. Waterways afford little cover and concealment. Power-driven boats are noisy and attract attention, and they can be seen and fired on easily in daylight. However, this disadvantage can be reduced by night movement and by traveling close to the stream banks where shadow and overhead branches aid concealment. Boats must go to or near the shore to unload, thus affecting the reaction time if an ambush occurs. Crew-served weapons transported on water craft must be in position at all times to engage insurgent ambush forces.

    (1) Landing operations may be difficult due to unfavorable formations along the banks. However, transported troops should be assigned firing positions on board their vessels for defense against ambush. The transportation units should position the maximum number of crew-served weapons on board to engage enemy on the near bank or both banks of the waterway.

    (2) The COIN force can devise combinations of blocking, attacking, and screening tactical actions using the mobility of naval forces (river assault groups) and air assault units. Teamwork between ground forces moving along river banks and supporting naval craft firepower and floating artillery can result in successful operations against insurgent forces in water areas.

    (3) The time required for planning increases with the size of the force involved. Planning should be as detailed as time permits, but quick reaction is needed to capitalize on current intelligence. Planning includes the following:

      (a) Reducing all planning facets of embarking and debarking of troops and equipment to SOP.

      (b) Integrating and combining plans for US, allied, and host country military forces and civilian agencies.

      (c) Facilitating command and control means to unify command and coordination of fires and other support.

      (d) Reducing rehearsals to a minimum, based on habitual employment; reducing activities to SOP; reducing equipment and logistic requirements.

      (e) Obtaining detailed intelligence from the population and civilian police.

      (f) Obtaining information on currents and tides at H-hour, beach conditions, and conditions of banks or shores for exit routes.

      (g) Obtaining information on insurgent use of water mines.

      (h) Analyzing the route to determine potential water mine sites. Ideal mining sites are in restrictions or bends in waterways that tend to channel traffic over definite routes.

      (i) Conducting mine sweeping of the water way.


Small units plan and conduct dismounted movements using the principles for patrolling. For larger units, the principles for movement to contact apply. (See FMs 7-8, 7-10, 7-20, and 21-18.)


Air movement is an integral part of COIN operations. The principles governing security of such movements are contained in FMs 7-10, 7-20, and 90-4. COIN forces are highly vulnerable during air movement due to the increase of MANPADS in Third World countries.


Operations to control borders are normally a civilian security agency mission. However, the brigade may engage in these operations by reinforcing or assuming responsibility for border surveillance and control. Brigades conducting offensive operations may become involved in border control activities. Sometimes, the scope and combat requirements of controlling a border may make border operations more of a tactical than a civilian security force problem. The brigade may need to conduct sustained operations in its area of operations to gain or regain control of the border.

a. Purpose. Border control operations require effective measures to secure extensive land border or seacoast areas. Measures may also involve preventing communication and supply operations (aerial resupply) between an external sponsoring power and insurgent forces.

    (1) Concept. In Phase I of insurgency, operations in border areas are normally a function of police, customs, and other government organizations. Armed and paramilitary forces may assist these organizations, particularly in remote areas. In Phases Il and III, denial of external support for the insurgency may require combat operations in border areas. These operations require close coordination and cooperation between the armed forces, paramilitary forces, and all government agencies involved. Physically sealing the border may not be possible, since it could require the commitment of more government forces and materiel than overall national resources permit. Since placing forces and barriers at all crossings or entry sites may not be possible, commanders should establish priorities. However, natural barriers must be used where possible. Using patrols, sensors, and obstacles in selected areas increases the effect of natural barriers. Commanders establish barrier and denial operations after careful consideration of the threat, environment, and location of the infiltrator's probable targets and methods of operation.

    (2) Organization. National border forces may consist of border police and guards. They may include paramilitary forces and regular armed forces with supporting or direct responsibility for parts of the international border.

    (3) Command and control. Border operations are planned and directed from the national level. Authority to conduct these operations may be delegated to subnational and other area commanders.

    (4) Unit structure. Border task forces are tailored units designed to meet requirements in their assigned areas. They should contain enough CS and CSS elements to support operations for extended periods. Light cavalry squadrons are well-designed for this mission due to their combination of air and ground assets. They need infantry augmentation in restrictive terrain.

b. Surveillance. Continuous and detailed surveillance is required. Commanders should determine infiltration and exfiltration routes and support sites, frequency and volume of traffic, type of transportation, number and type of personnel, amount and type of materiel, terrain and traffic conditions, and the probable location of base areas and sanctuaries.

    (1) Surveillance and control of extensive coastal areas normally require the use of coordinated ground patrols on the shoreline, coordinated offshore patrols, aerial surveillance, strategic OPs along the shoreline, and an effective system of licensing and identifying friendly military and civilian watercraft.

    (2) Certain parts of an international land border or shoreline may be placed under effective surveillance and control by use of static security posts, reserve forces, ground and aerial observers, and patrols. However, the continuous surveillance and control of an extensive land border or shoreline are difficult. Since it may not be possible to place brigade forces at all crossings or landing sites, leaders establish a priority system for the sites requiring military forces.

c. Military Operations. Border units establish OSBs at battalion and company levels to direct operations. Aviation, signal, engineer, and fire support augmentations are usually required. These are normally found in the brigade support base if not augmenting subordinate units.

d. Border Control Methods. Two operational concepts for the control of extensive land borders are the restricted zone and friendly population buffer.

    (1) Restricted zone. Leaders should use this method only when the situation demands it. The actions can mean disaster to the IDAD effort and must be considered before execution. Under this concept, an area of predetermined width along the border is declared a restricted zone.

      (a) Leaders issue proclamations to the population so that everyone understands that any individual or group encountered in the zone will be considered an element of the insurgent force, paramilitary force, or similar organization. The restricted zone is cleared of vegetation and other obstacles to observation over the area. Earth-moving equipment may be used for this purpose. Defoliants, if authorized, may also be used but only when no other method is feasible.

      (b) Since the clearance of the zone along the entire border is normally not feasible, a priority of areas for clearance is needed. The restricted zone is controlled by the use of ground and aerial observers, electronic sensor devices, patrols, mines, and obstacles. These activities are best conducted by host country civil police and paramilitary forces. This allows the available combat power to be used in tactical operations.

    (2) Friendly population buffer. The civilian population-in the area of operations is redistributed. This ensures that all civilians residing near the border are sympathetic to the host country government. This may entail the screening of all persons settled along the border, relocation of those persons of doubtful sympathy, and supplementary resettlement of the border area with friendly civilians.

      (a) This concept provides a potential informant net along the border. It provides friendly local civilians for employment in self-defense units to control the border area. It also denies potential civilian contacts and houses of refuge for use by the insurgents in border-crossing activities. Relocation of civilians is a sensitive legal and political issue and should be undertaken with host country authority in compliance with host countrylaw. US personnel should not be actively involved. US relocation activities in an international conflict environment must comply with applicable provisions of Geneva Convention IV.

      (b) Relocation operations must be preceded by detailed economic, social, psychological, and political preparation so the socio-economic stability of the area is not endangered by the shifts in population. The conduct of these operations without such preparation can result in political instability, extensive unemployment, unfair land distribution, poor public utilities, lack of good housing, and intermingling of the population with conflicting religious beliefs and social mores.

    (3) Planning and Implementation. Leaders must carefully plan either of these operations, which could require relocating persons. Although armed forces may assist, civil authorities normally are responsible for planning and implementing a relocation program. Forced relocation is held to a minimum. The 1949 Geneva Convention prohibits forced population resettlement unless there is clear military need.

e. Waterline Borders. The surveillance and control of extensive coastal areas and shorelines normally require the use of--

    (1) Coordinated ground patrols on the shoreline.

    (2) Coordinated offshore sea patrols of the shoreline and river delta areas.

    (3) Reinforced aerial, visual, and photographic surveillance of the offshore waters and the shoreline.

    (4) OPs along the shoreline near river mouths, ground LOC, and accessible parts of the shoreline.

    (5) An effective system of licensing and identifying all friendly military and civilian watercraft using the offshore waters.

    (6) Effective, centralized control and coordination of all these activities.

f. Sanctuaries. Insurgents may establish base camps and conduct cross-border operations from countries adjacent to the host country. They take advantage of an international boundary to launch operations or to evade pursuit. Commanders operating in border areas must respect the sanctity of international boundaries. However, they can conduct combat operations against the insurgent force once the force crosses back over the border. Ambush patrols are an excellent means of dealing with insurgents who try to use an international border as a sanctuary.


As the center of gravity of most countries lies in urban areas, US forces can expect most COIN operations to involve urban operations. (See FM 90-10-1.)

a. Operations in an urban environment require different emphasis and different techniques than those in rural areas. The presence of many people and the characteristics of the area influence both insurgent and government operations. During Phases I and II, these areas are usually unfavorable for guerrilla warfare operations. However, insurgent elements in the urban areas may incite rioting, use terrorist tactics, or seize portions of the city and key facilities. Armed forces may be required to reinforce police in combatting riots and disorders provoked by the insurgents. Tactical operations may be required if the insurgents take direct action to seize urban areas or crucial installations within them. (See FM 90-10-1 and FM 19-15.) b. The population density requires emphasis on the use of nonlethal weapons and the careful use of weapons of destruction. When applying minimum-essential force to minimize loss of life and destruction of property, leaders must consider detailed planning, coordination, and control.

c. Covert insurgent activity is extensive in urban areas. The government must emphasize intelligence and police operations to counter clandestine organizational, intelligence, logistic, and terrorist activities. IDAD operations in urban areas may be part of a consolidation campaign.

d. Urban areas are crucial and require a continuing IDAD effort whether they are included in a specific campaign. Military forces should be part of IDAD planning and operations in urban areas during all phases of insurgency. This prepares forces to assist other national security and law enforcement agencies.

    (1) Government activity. Urban areas need more emphasis on government functions and services than rural areas. This requires more and possibly larger government organizations for operations. Commanders should consider the activities and abilities of all government agencies when planning and executing IDAD operations.

    (2) Subversive activities. A subversive element intent on destroying the government may strain the abilities of local authorities. The insurgents try to exploit local civilian organizations by subverting their goals and objectives. They also try to place these organizations in opposition to the government. Terrorist activities and PSYOP occur along with covert insurgent organizational, intelligence, and logistic operations. Police, internal security, and other government organizations are high-priority targets to the insurgents.

    (3) Operations. Operations require careful planning and coordination, mainly those that involve applying force. Military forces designated to provide assistance compose plans and prepare to implement them. Military forces must be able to communicate with police and other agencies involved in the operations. They must collect and have detailed information on area characteristics and vital installations.

    (4) Tactical operations. Tactical operations may be required inside or near an urban area to defeat an insurgent attack. Any insurgent attempt to seize and hold an urban area probably involves operations in nearby areas as well. When the police and other internal security forces can cope with the attack inside the urban area, military forces can best participate by setting up security around the urban area and by denying the insurgent reinforcement or support.

      (a) When military forces must reinforce police or defeat insurgent forces inside the urban area, leaders must closely control and coordinate operations. Military forces should be withdrawn as soon as police forces can manage the situation.

      (b) When an urban area has been seized by insurgent forces, leaders must decide whether to recapture it using major military force or using other techniques, considering both a tactical and psychological perspective. The amount of force and the specific techniques to be used to recapture the area are decided based on the probable psychological effect on the enemy, civilians, and friendly troops; the safety of civilians and friendly troops; the destruction of buildings; and the military forces available. The principle of minimum-essential force helps reduce casualties in the noncombatant civilian population.

      (c) When authorized, commanders can use riot control munitions against targets so that military forces can close with and capture the enemy with minimum injury to the noncombatants. Operations may be in the form of assistance to civilian police. Regardless, commanders must coordinate military operations with the civilian police. (See Appendix A.)

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