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The division conducts other operations to support offensive and defensive operations. These operations may require augmentation of specialized equipment and personnel with special skills. The type of augmentation will depend on the characteristics of the area of operations, conditions under which they are conducted, the nature of the operations, or a combination of these factors.


Division river crossing operations project combat power across a waterway while ensuring the integrity and momentum of the force. Divisions generally have no bridging for large-scale river crossing operations. These are conducted as part of a corps operation with additional bridging assets from corps engineer units. The best method of securing a river crossing, METT-T dependent, is through (or supported by) air assaults. Division headquarters anticipate and plan in detail for river crossings. The planning requirements and technical support are similar whether the crossing is hasty, deliberate, or retrograde. (See Field Manual 90-13 for a detailed discussion.)

Hasty Crossing

A hasty crossing of a waterway is normally done as soon as the unit reaches the waterway, using equipment at hand or readily available. It is planned and conducted as a continuation of the operation underway. Although the crossing is termed hasty, planning, SOPs, and battle drills ensure that fire support and crossing means are available to the force on arrival at the waterway. Loss of momentum is minimal.

Preferable to a deliberate crossing, the hasty crossing features decentralized control. A concise order articulating the commander's intent allows exploitation wherever subordinate units successfully force a crossing. When possible, advance elements seize crossing sites intact and ahead of the main body. When enemy resistance is light on both banks, the force does not have to clear all enemy forces from the river but exploits the enemy's contusion and inability to effectively oppose the crossing. The skillful use of night, smoke, fog, and bad weather is effective.

The force crosses the river at multiple points across a broad front as soon as its elements reach the river. Minimum forces remain behind to secure the crossing sites.

Deliberate Crossing

A deliberate crossing of a waterway is used when extensive enemy defenses are present, a division is moving from a defensive posture to an offensive posture, a hasty crossing is not feasible, or a hasty crossing is unsuccessful. Deliberate crossings require detailed planning and preparation.

In both the hasty and deliberate crossings, a crossing force commander plans and controls the operation. In a division crossing, it is normally the assistant division commander for maneuver (ADC-M).


The crossing force commander has a temporary headquarters with minimum staff representation. Additional manning may come from the higher headquarters. Staff representation is as follows:

  • G3: operations and area security.

  • Division engineer brigade commander: crossing force engineer.

  • Provost marshal: movement control.

  • Division signal battalion commander: communications.

  • DISCOM: logistics.

  • Division air defense artillery battalion commander: ADA coverage.

  • Division artillery: indirect fire support.

  • Division chemical officer: smoke, NBC reconnaissance and decontamination.

  • Division transportation officer: movement orders and control.

  • Planning for a river crossing is divided into distinct phases:
advance to the river, assault crossing of the river, advance from the exit bank, and securing of the bridgehead line. During execution there are no planned pauses between the phases; the operation proceeds as the attack continues. (See Figure 7-1.)

Securing the division bridgehead line requires controlling the exit bank area. It must be large enough to accommodate the assault force and the support elements of the crossing force. It must deny the enemy the ability to observe and engage the bridgehead area. Terrain and space within the bridgehead must be defensible against a possible enemy counterattack. Objectives within this area are assigned to assault forces. Once the bridgehead is secured, the river crossing operation is completed.

With the division commander's guidance, the division crossing force commander and his staff plan a river crossing operation using the following tactical concepts:

  • Assault forces lead the initial assault of the river and continue the advance from the exit bank to the bridgehead objective or to the air assault terrain objectives along the bridgehead line.

  • Follow-up forces provide overwatching direct and indirect fire support, crossing site security, and follow and support assistance to the assault force.

Figure 7-1. River crossing control measures

  • Support forces develop crossing sites, emplace crossing means, control units moving into and away from the crossing sites, and orient the assault force to the objectives.

  • CSS elements rapidly resupply the assault force once bridgehead objectives are secure.

  • The division provides a combined arms reserve to defeat enemy attempts to disrupt the crossing operation.

The crossing force commander can employ air assault forces to secure terrain objectives along the bridgehead line. Ground forces crossing the river link up with the air assault unit to secure the bridgehead.

In division river crossing operations, brigades are the assault forces. Each brigade assault force is designated a specific crossing area. When the assault force enters the designated crossing area, control, not command, passes to the crossing area commander. Control reverts back to the assault force commander as the assault force leaves the crossing area.

Retrograde River Crossing

A retrograde river crossing operation is usually conducted when the enemy threatens to overwhelm the division. It may accomplish one of two objectives: establish a new defense on the exit bank of the river, or

continue the retrograde to new defensive positions

Retrograde river crossings are characterized by-

  • Detailed planning and centralized control.

  • Enemy control of maneuver initiative.

  • High risk to friendly forces.

  • Use of delaying forces to impede the enemy's advance and to trade space for time at the crossing sites.

  • Forces on the exit bank providing defensive and overwatching fires.

The retrograde river crossing requires detailed planning just as a deliberate crossing. For planning, the crossing operation is divided into three distinct actions: delay, defense, and crossing. Although distinct, these actions take place concurrently on the battlefield.

Delay operations continue until the delaying force reaches the battle handover line. At this time, units occupying assigned defensive positions on the exit bank assume responsibility for the battle. The delay force then disengages and begins its rearward crossing. Large-area smoke operations including obscuration and deception should assist the rearward crossing operation.

A strong exit bank defense is established in each divisional section concurrently with the execution

River crossings are planned in detail because they require special equipment and personnel.

of delay operations. The defense of the exit bank must be as strong as possible with the available troops. The defense's primary mission is to over-watch the crossing of the forces remaining on the far side of the river.

Because friendly forces control both banks of the river for some period prior to the operation, they continually improve and repair existing bridges and crossing sites. They install or pre-position to the rear all available tactical bridging and rafting with the corps to supplement existing crossing means.

The difficulty of a retrograde crossing requires that the delaying, defending, and support forces clearly understand their missions and tasks. Operations within the retrograde crossing area include-

  • Rapid and controlled flow of traffic across the river.

  • Maximum use of concealment and dispersal.

  • Coordinated crossing of equipment and supplies.

  • Coordination between the defense and delay forces for the latter's use of crossing site.


Divisions rarely plan and execute breaching operations. They are normally conducted at company team, battalion task force, or brigade level. (See FM 90-13-1 and FM 71-123.)

Division breaching operations are generally in stride or deliberate. Breaching operations require synchronization and, normally, rehearsals to be successful. Successful breaching operations maintain an attacking force's

Breaching operations, whether in stride or deliberate, require synchronization and, normally, rehearsals.
momentum in the face of enemy obstacle efforts.

In-Stride Breaching

The in-stride breach is executed against weak defenders or very simple obstacles. A division required to breach an obstacle must attempt it in stride and rapidly to retain the initiative and maintain momentum. In-stride breaching uses standard actions on contact and normal movement techniques. It consists of planned, well-trained, and well-rehearsed breaching actions and reduction procedures. Key are obscuring enemy observation, suppressing enemy positions, and using surprise and initiative to breach the obstacle with minimum loss of momentum. Subordinate units normally move configured to execute an in-stride breach with organic and task-organized assets.

Deliberate Breaching

Division units conduct deliberate breaching operations to overcome complex enemy obstacle systems. Deliberate breaching operations require thorough reconnaissance, detailed planning, and extensive preparation. Forces conduct such operations when attempted in-stride breaches fail or the obstacles are too complex and beyond the capabilities of subordinate units.

The deliberate breach is centrally planned and executed. Subordinate elements are task-organized to accomplish the breach and receive specific missions and objectives. The breach often requires securing the far side of the obstacle with an assault force before and during reduction. Eliminating the far-side defenders also eliminates direct fire on the breaching forces. If the assault force does not totally eliminate the far-side defender, the force still fixes the enemy and reduces the enemy's ability to place fires on the breaching force. Artificial obscurants are used to deceive and prevent the enemy from interfering with direct or indirect observed fires.


A passage of lines is an operation in which one force moves through another force. It may be forward or rearward. The force may be moving into

contact or out of contact with the enemy. A passage of lines is a difficult and dangerous operation.

Forward Passage of Lines

In a forward passage of lines, a unit passes through another unit that may be in contact with the enemy. This is done to continue the attack. The stationary unit supports the passing unit until its fires are masked. A forward passage of lines is normally not done while in direct contact with enemy combat units. (Attacks to envelop or flank the enemy are normally conducted when friendly forces are in direct contact with enemy combat forces.) Planning for a forward passage of lines is similar to planning for a relief in place. On receipt of a warning order that directs a passage of lines, the passing commander and his staff establish liaison with the stationary unit. The passing unit normally collocates its TAC or main CP with the TAC or main CP of the stationary unit.

Close coordination is essential for a passage of lines. Commanders and staffs of the units involved coordinate-

  • Exchange of information and intelligence on enemy forces.

  • Exchange of tactical plans, to include obstacle plans.

  • Exchange of standing operating instructions, especially common signals, such as flares.

  • Arrangements for elements of the passing units to perform reconnaissance.

  • Security measures during the passage.

  • Selection of areas of passage and provisions for guides.

  • Priorities for use of routes and facilities and provisions for movement control. The passing unit must have priority.

  • Time or circumstances when responsibility for control of the area affected by the passage will be transferred.

  • Provisions to provide continuous fire support and other combat support during operations.

  • Unit CSS responsibilities.

  • Exchange of liaison personnel at all levels.

  • Collection and exchange of information on friendly minefields and other obstacles.

  • Command relationship between passing CS and CSS units and facilities, and the stationary unit in whose area they may plan to locate.

  • Measures to minimize vulnerability to enemy NBC munitions.

  • Tactical cover and deception plans to retain secrecy and to aid in gaining surprise.

When possible, passage areas are along boundaries between stationary units. This reduces the risk that results when one unit passes directly through the occupied positions of another unit.

The passing unit has priority for routes to and within the area affected by the passage. The stationary unit is responsible for traffic control. During the passage, the passing unit augments the traffic control capability of the stationary unit.

Close coordination and understanding between commanders and staffs of the units involved are essential for a smooth transfer of control. When commands determine a time or identifiable event for transfer of control and responsibility to the commander of the passing unit, the information is disseminated to the lowest levels of both commands. Prior to the transfer of responsibility, the passing unit is TACON to the stationary unit in the area affected by the passage. Transfer of control may occur when the lead battalions pass the start points of their passage lanes. At that point, the commander of the passing division is committed and exercises tactical control over the stationary unit until the brigade (or brigades) is out of direct fire range of the stationary unit (or other agreed-upon phase line). Phase lines delineate areas of responsibility and control of units.

Direct and indirect fire from in-place units normally support passing units. After responsibility is transferred, the commander of the passing unit coordinates all fires. One technique is to use the indirect fires of the unit in place until passage is complete. The indirect fire means of the passing unit move to support the continuation of the attack.

The stationary unit furnishes the following CSS assistance to the passing unit:

  • Evacuation of casualties and prisoners of war.

  • Civilian and straggler control.

  • Use of areas and facilities; for example, water points, medical treatment.

  • Route priority and traffic control.

  • Evacuation of disabled vehicles.

Movement schedules ensure that units do not stop (at least until the division's combat and combat support have completed the passage). This along with multiple passage points minimizes the time that two friendly forces are concentrated in a forward area.

Division commanders agree on support and termination arrangements. Normally, this occurs when all of the maneuver brigades (including reserve) of the passing unit have moved out of the direct fire support range of the passed unit. However, artillery fires, ADA, and other area and long-range weapons may remain in support until directed by higher headquarters or coordinated with the passing unit.

Rearward Passage of Lines

In a rearward passage of lines, a unit effecting a retrograde movement passes through the sector of a unit occupying a rearward defensive position. Withdrawal through a rearward position is executed to relieve an overcommitted or a depleted unit, as part of a retrograde operation, or to allow the pulled-back unit to accomplish another mission. The rearward moving unit may move to a rest area to refit and retrain, cover the withdrawal of another unit, or move to another area to be committed to other actions.

Division planning for executing a rearward passage of lines is similar to that for a forward passage of lines. On receipt of a warning order for an operation that entails a retrograde through a rearward position, the divisions collocate their main command posts to coordinate the operation while the TAC CP continues the close fight. All levels exchange liaison personnel.

The commanders and staffs of the units involved in the movement coordinate the same details as for a forward passage of lines. The unit passing through the rearward position coordinates its plan for recognition with the

unit in position.

Selecting areas or points of passage that permit the rearward moving unit to pass around the flanks of the units in position reduces vulnerability to enemy attacks. Designating release points well to the rear of those positions also reduces the units' vulnerability to enemy attacks. The rearward moving unit has priority on roads and facilities to move rapidly through the defended area.

Coordination between commanders is critical to the successful execution of operations and the transfer of control and responsibility between stationary and passing commanders. The area affected by the passage, either in the zone of attack or the sector of defense, becomes the responsibility of the stationary force commander. Coordination is even more critical when the rearward passage is staggered or incremental across the sector or area of operations. This transfer of responsibility requires that the commander conducting the retrograde relinquish control of those elements of his unit that may remain in contact at the time of transfer.

The stationary unit furnishes the rearward moving unit with all possible assistance, to include combat, CS, and CSS assistance. Fire support of the unit in position is critical to the moving unit, especially in covering the withdrawal of detachments left in contact during a delay. The commander of the retrograde unit identifies the last element of his command as it passes through the stationary unit. He also reports clearance of his last element from the defended sector.


Linkup operations are conducted to join two friendly forces. Both forces may be moving toward one another, or one may be stationary or encircled. Linkup operations are most often conducted-

  • To complete the encirclement of an enemy force.

  • To assist the breakout of an encircled friendly force.

  • To join an attacking force with a force inserted in the enemy rear area (for example, an airborne, air assault, or infiltration force).

For a corps or joint force linkup operation, the division's higher headquarters establishes the command relationship between forces and the responsibilities of each. It also

Figure 7-2. Control measures for
linkup operations

establishes control measures points, boundaries between converging forces, restrictive fire lines (RFLs), and coordinate fire lines (CFLs). Control measures are adjusted during the operation to provide for freedom of action and maximum control. The division headquarters establishes these control measures when linkup between division units is necessary. (See Figure 7-2.)

When one of the units involved is stationary, linkup points are usually located where the moving force's routes arrive at the location of the stationary force's security elements. Alternate linkup points are designated since enemy action may interfere with linkup at primary points. To assist in the linkup, stationary forces help open lanes in minefields, breach or remove selected obstacles, furnish guides, and designate assembly areas.

Linkup between two moving units is difficult. Primary and alternate linkup points for two moving forces are established on boundaries where the two forces are expected to converge. As the units move closer to one another, the need for positive control of fire increases. To protect the forces involved from firing on each other, a RFL is established between the forces as they near each other. However, commanders must ensure that the enemy does not escape between the two friendly forces. Leading elements of each force must be on a common radio net (CRN).


A relief in place is an operation in which one unit replaces all or part of another unit. Normally, the unit to be relieved is defending. The incoming unit (relieving unit) usually assumes the same responsibilities and deploys initially in the same configuration as the outgoing unit.


Relief in place operations are normal in continuous operations. They are executed to-

  • Introduce a new unit into combat.

  • Change the mission of a unit.

  • Relieve a depleted unit in contact with the enemy for reorganization or reconstitution.

  • Retrain a unit.

  • Relieve the stress of prolonged operations in adverse weather or terrain conditions.

  • Rest a unit after long periods in an advanced mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) or other exhaustive operation.

  • Decontaminate a unit after chemical attack.

  • Avoid excessive radiation exposure.

Relief in place is executed from front to back or back to front, depending on the situation. Normally, when minimum forces are employed on the FLOT, the relief is conducted from rear to front; when maximum forces are employed on the FLOT, the relief is conducted from front to rear. Commanders should also consider the following when determining how to conduct the relief:

  • Strength and condition of relieved forces.

  • Subsequent missions of relieved and relieving units.

  • Capability of the enemy to detect and react against the relief.

  • Characteristics of the area of operations.

Relief in place operations are termed as hasty or deliberate. Common considerations are secrecy, speed, and control. A relief must be concealed from the enemy as long as possible. Immediately on receipt of a relief warning order, units to be relieved initiate a plan for deception and operations security.

Once initiated, relief operations are vulnerable to enemy spoiling attacks. Delays during execution

provide the enemy time to acquire, target, and fire mass-destruction munitions. Intermingling of forces increases the burdens on command and control systems. Movement control, fire support coordination, communications nets and facilities, and security and obstacle plans require close coordination and liaison between all headquarters involved.

Planning Factors

The relief unit order includes the time for relief, relieved units and sequence, restrictions for advance parties, security, time and place for issuing the order, routine route priorities, and discussion of future missions. Coordination and synchronization are achieved primarily through overlay graphics, event sequences, and march tables. A current intelligence update is provided with the order.

Advance Party

On receipt of the relief warning order, the division organizes an advance party. The advance party in-filtrates forward to avoid detection and maintains a low profile. For a deliberate relief operation, the TAC CP, reinforced with selected coordinating and special staff officers, collocates with the TAC CP of the unit being relieved. When time is short, as in the hasty relief, a small advance party consisting of TAC CP personnel moves quickly to the main CP of the relieved unit, conducts liaison functions for other staff agencies, coordinates the relief, and issues FRAGOs while subordinate units are moving to the area of operations.


To maintain security, the outgoing unit's radio nets, command frequencies, and operators are used. Increased radio traffic on the in-place unit net sends a message that something is about to happen. The outgoing division signal officer remains in charge of communications throughout the entire relief.

Fire Support

The preferred technique in a relief in place is to relieve artillery last. If possible, the outgoing unit artillery remains in position until all units are relieved. If the purpose of the

relief is to continue the attack, all artillery remains in support.

Artillery is not required to relieve weapon for weapon unless firing positions are limited. Deception is enhanced and detection is minimized when relieving batteries locate near, and integrate their fires with those of, the outgoing unit. Until the change of control is designated, all field artillery, like all ground units, remains under the control of the outgoing commander. This requires close coordination with the supported units.

Air Defense

ADA units have two responsibilities. The first is to support the relief of forward committed forces. The second is to increase the ADA coverage over all primary relief routes. These tasks are accomplished jointly after the division relief plan is developed.

Passage of Control

Normally, the relieving division's TAC or main CP collocates with the outgoing unit's TAC or main CP, and both commanders or their designated representatives remain together during the relief. Rear CPs use liaison elements to plan support and meet requirements. Usually rear CPs do not collocate because of their size and subsequent vulnerability to enemy engagements. Initially, the unit being relieved has TACON over the relieving unit. Commanders, normally with corps guidance, determine a time or an event to effect the transfer of responsibility. For example, the agreed time for transfer could be when two-thirds of the ground maneuver forces of the relieving division are in place and prepared to conduct tactical operations. Control of all units within the division area of operations then passes to the relieving commander. All units in place, regardless of their parent organization, come under the TACON of the designated commander. When possible, a clear, short, and simple message is sent to all units in the sector acknowledging the transfer of responsibility.

Exchange of Equipment

Units may need to exchange certain weapons, supplies, equipment and, occasionally, vehicles. The corps identifies the division's common supply exchange items and any other specific equipment that warrants exchange. The division provides guidance but leaves the details to brigade

and battalion commanders.


Reliefs in future conflicts may involve, at some point, replacing a force from another nation. Planning considerations must include the following:

  • Dissimilar unit organizations may require special adjustments in assigned sectors.

  • Control of fire support may require special liaison.

  • Language difficulties may require the increased use of liaison.

  • Use of outgoing unit radios will require special arrangements.

  • Ammunition incompatibility needs to be examined in detail.


Conducting Encirclements

Encirclements are force-oriented operations to enclose and capture or defeat large groups of enemy forces. Although terrain objectives may be designated, isolation or defeat of enemy forces is the primary goal. Encirclements can be deliberate or unforeseen opportunities created by offensive action.

Factors of METT-T have a significant impact on whether, and how, to conduct an encirclement. Planning considerations include-

  • Will the encirclement involve an envelopment, double envelopment, or other form of maneuver?

  • What fire control measures will be needed during the envelopment?

  • How will encircling units be organized and positioned to secure the LOC and prevent encircled forces' breakout attempts or outside enemy forces' linkup attempts?

  • When, where, and how will linkup operations occur during the encirclement?
Encirclements make efficient use of attacking forces when it may be impractical or too costly to attack everywhere along an enemy's front. The ideal result is the surrender of the encircled force. This minimizes the loss of both friendly and enemy lives and equipment. Generally, encirclements consist of five actions:

  • Exploitation and attack on converging axis.

  • Extension of a pursuit or envelopment.

  • Linkup operations and the establishment of the inner circle.

  • Establishment of the outer ring to counter enemy reserves and to continue exploitation.

  • Destruction, or forced surrender of, the encircled forces.

The complete encirclement of the enemy pocket is often not necessary nor efficient. It is more important to quickly cut all avenues of egress or resupply for the encircled force and to control air and sea LOC. (An encircled force that is resupplied and not reduced will remain a serious concern for the commander throughout future operations, and require dedicated forces to maintain the inner rings.)

Reduction of the pocket is extremely important as encircled forces (if left alone) can jeopardize offensive operations. Commanders should conduct operations to reduce the pocket day and night, without interruption, concentrating forces and fires until the encircled force is captured, or surrenders. Rotation of reduction forces ensures fresh units are continually attacking.

The pocket may be reduced by fire or fire and maneuver. The use of fires alone to reduce a pocket, though low in casualties, requires extensive resupply. The encircling force may be unable to sustain reduction activities or find itself unable to conduct other operations while attempting the reduction. This was apparent during the German-failed attempt to reduce Leningrad in World War II.

The most effective method of reduction is to divide the pocket, attacking from several directions simultaneously. This concentrates much larger forces against a much smaller enemy. Even with this technique of divide and conquer, pressure must be maintained on other forces in the pocket, concentrating on nodes, ADA systems, artillery systems, airstrips, command and control systems, and CSS.

Another reduction technique is to allow an attempted breakout and destroy the enemy force through planned attacks.

Defending Encircled

The mobility and noncontiguous nature of the future battlefield may create situations in which forces become encircled or bypassed. Through design or because of rapidly changing situations, units may be cut off from other friendly forces. Encirclement occurs when the enemy cuts off all ground routes for evacuation and reinforcement of division ground forces. Divisional forces face encirclement most often when enemy forces bypass defending units or an enemy counterattack cuts off advancing units.

Encircled force operations have occurred throughout history. Encircled US forces at the Battle of the Bulge conducted a successful breakout operation. US elements encircled at the Kasserine Pass were destroyed when their supporting forces could not reach them.

Encircled forces must continue the mission. The encircled force commander must attempt to establish communications with his higher commander. In the absence of communications, however, he must act on his own initiative within the higher commander's intent to maintain the integrity of his fighting force. Encircled forces have several options. They can-

  • Conduct a breakout toward friendly forces.

  • Attack and conduct small-unit harassment operations to bleed off enemy units from the main attack.

  • Attack rear-echelon enemy forces and installations to disrupt their operations.

  • Exfiltrate from the encircled positions toward friendly forces.

  • Defend until relieved.

Friendly encircled forces that elect to stay in position and defend encircled must consider the following:

  • Mission and commander's intent.

  • Good, defensible terrain.

  • Available reinforcement or relief.

  • Availability of the necessary logistics and other combat support to sustain the operation.

  • Mobility of the enemy.

  • Motivation and discipline of troops.

The senior maneuver commander within the encirclement assumes control of all forces. He informs his superior of the situation and establishes a chain of command (if necessary) to ensure unity of command. He reorganizes fragmented units and attaches troops separated from their units to other units. A clear chain of command must be established quickly throughout the forces.

The commander immediately establishes an all-around viable defense. He attacks to seize favorable ground, if necessary. He improves fighting positions within the capability of available resources and identifies and closes seams and gaps in the defensive perimeter.

The commander establishes a reserve from available armored or mechanized units to react to perimeter penetrations. He positions them centrally to take advantage of interior lines. Quick reaction to perimeter penetrations maintains the encircled forces' defensive integrity.

All field artillery in the encirclement is reorganized and brought under centralized control of the senior field artillery commander. Fire nets and coordination measures are established. Although battalion mortars remain under the control of their parent headquarters, breakout or force survival may require the collective fires of all fire support assets. Artillery and mortars are dispersed throughout the encirclement to protect them from counterfire. Available fire support from outside the encirclement is coordinated through the senior field artillery commander's headquarters. This usually includes air support and may include other indirect fire means.

The senior logistician present assesses early the logistics posture of the encircled command. All logistics operations come under his centralized control. Airdrop or helicopter lift, if possible, resupplies the encircled force from the outside. A centrally located medical facility is established and casualties evacuated if an air supply line is open. If the force must break out, every effort is made to evacuate casualties with the breakout force.

The commander positions security elements as far forward as possible to provide early warning and initiates vigorous patrolling. He establishes local security throughout the force and strictly enforces passive security measures.

The commander immediately establishes communications with higher headquarters and remains informed about the baffle outside the encirclement. Encircled units can furnish information on the enemy's rear area and assist in spoiling attacks and counterattacks.

The encircled force must continue to defend. Enemy forces may attempt to penetrate the perimeter size and split an encircled force. If friendly forces are weakened in the defensive battle, the perimeter size may need to be reduced. The encircled force must maintain its defensive integrity.

Soldiers in the encirclement must not be allowed to regard their situation as desperate or hopeless. Commanders and leaders at all levels displaying a firm resolve and positive attitude help maintain their soldiers' confidence. Keeping their soldiers informed suppresses rumors. Encircled defending forces must prepare for the linkup with relief forces using the considerations discussed earlier in Linkup Operations.

Breakout From An

Breakout operations are planned, organized, and executed before the enemy has time to react. Commanders considering the breakout option face the critical demand of time. Encircled forces must act before the enemy decides on a course of action and begins to contain or destroy the friendly force. An early breakout is easiest, but it can be achieved at any time.

An attack to break out of an encirclement is a demanding effort. In most cases, the commander conducts a simultaneous defense in other areas of the perimeter. Tasks in a breakout include:

  • Deceive the enemy on the time and place of the attack. If immediate breakout is not possible, the commander conceals his preparations and repositions to deceive the enemy. The direction for the breakout should not be the obvious route toward friendly lines unless there is no other alternative.

Figure 7-3. Organization for a breakout

  • Identify and exploit gaps or weaknesses. Early in the encirclement, reconnaissance should locate gaps or weaknesses in the encircling enemy force. Although the breakout attack through a gap or weakness may be less direct or over less favorable terrain, this course of action avoids enemy strength and increases the chance for surprise.

  • Exploit limited visibility. The cover of darkness, fog, or severe weather conditions favors the breakout because the target acquisition capability of weapons of the encircling enemy force is normally less effective in these conditions. However, waiting for darkness or limited visibility may provide the enemy time to consolidate his defense.

  • Task organize for the attack.

Forces for the breakout are organized into five tactical groups. They are shown in Figure 7-3 and described in the following paragraphs.

Rupture Force. The encircled force attacks as soon as possible by employing one or more rupture forces to penetrate the enemy defensive positions. The commander must produce overwhelming combat power at the breakout point. The rupture force may vary in size from one-third to two-thirds of the total encircled force. Its mission is to penetrate the enemy

encircling position, widen the gap, and hold the shoulder of the gap until all other encircled forces can move through. It must be of sufficient strength to penetrate the enemy line. A favorable combat power ratio must be achieved at the point of attack by means of surprise, troop strength, mobility, and firepower.

Initially, the rupture force will be the main effort. The rupture force commander will probably have additional assets attached to his unit. These assets might include air defense or additional engineer personnel from any encircled engineer unit. The commander should integrate these assets for maximum combat power to achieve the rupture.

Reserve Force. The reserve follows the rupture attack to maintain the attack's momentum and secure objectives past the rupture. After the rupture force secures the gap, the reserve normally becomes the lead element. When a unit is given the reserve force mission, the commander must coordinate closely with the rupture force commander on the gap's location, the enemy situation at the rupture, and the enemy situation (if known) along the direction of attack past the rupture point.

Initially, the reserve passes through the gap created by the rupture force and continues rapid movement from the encircled area toward the final objective (probably a linkup). It must not become bogged down if it is to make secondary attacks. Artillery preparation may assist the reserve force in maintaining momentum out of the encircled area.

Main Body. The main body, which contains the CP elements, casualties, and CS and CSS elements, moves as a single group. It usually follows the reserve force through the gap created by the rupture force. One individual should command this element to ensure orderly movement. Security elements protect the flanks of the main body during movement.

Rear Guard. The rear guard consists of the personnel and equipment left on the perimeter to provide protection for the rupture and diversionary attacks (if a diversionary attack force exists). Forces left in contact must fight a delaying action on the perimeter so that no portion of the force is cut off. Under a single commander, the rear guard acts as a covering force to protect the main body from attack while it is moving from the area. In addition to providing security, it

deceives the enemy about the encircled force's intentions. It simulates the activities of the encircled force until the force has cleared the gap. Once the breakout commences, the rear guard and any diversionary forces disengage or delay toward the rupture. Perimeter forces integrate smoothly into the rear of the breakout column. Once the breakout is achieved, priority of fires may shift to the rear guard action. Above all else, the attack's momentum must be maintained or the force will be more vulnerable to destruction than it was prior to the breakout.

As other units support or follow the breakout, the rear guard commander must spread his forces over an extended area. This will require flexibility and mobility of the rear guard. The perimeter must withstand enemy pressure.

Diversionary or Supporting Force. Enemy attention must be diverted from the location of the rupture. The breakout attack is assisted when a supporting attack (executed by a nearby friendly force) or a designated diversionary force diverts enemy attention and assets from the breakout effort. The breakout attempt should be timed to occur just after the enemy reacts to such a supporting attack. The diversionary force may be from either inside or outside the encirclement area. Forces participating in a diversionary attack should be as mobile as available vehicles and trafficability allow. Mobile weapons systems are ideally suited for this requirement. Any diversionary or supporting attack should be directed at a point where the enemy might expect a breakout or where a relief effort might occur.

Success of the diversionary force is important to the success of any breakout operations. If the force fails to deceive the enemy on the encircled force's intentions, the full combat power of the enemy could be directed at the rupture point. On the other hand, the diversionary force may rupture the enemy's lines. If a rupture occurs, the diversionary force commander must know the commander's intent. He may exploit this success, or he may have to disengage and follow and support the reserve force.

Exfiltration of Encircled Forces

If success of a breakout attack appears questionable and a relief operation is not planned, the least preferred option to preserve a portion of the force is through organized exfiltration Exfiltration is preferable to capture and can distract the enemy from his main effort and produce intelligence for the main force. The encircled forces organize into small groups under small-unit leaders and exfiltrate during periods of limited visibility through gaps in the encircling forces. Equipment that

cannot be taken is destroyed and left behind (except medical supplies).

The commander that decides to exfiltrate his force in lieu of certain capture determines the size of units to attempt exfiltration and the control measures needed to maximize the percentage of the force that successfully exfiltrates. The commander may determine that fire support assets expend all ammunition on certain enemy positions to divert attention away from major exfiltration areas. He may also direct the time in which units should begin exfiltration and when equipment is authorized for destruction. Although exfiltration is not a preferred situation, a commander's planning presence and solid leadership will provide many tangible benefits in the protection of the force during exfiltration efforts.


Doctrine and recent experience recognize the ability of a corps to employ a division in a deep operation. Division commanders given such a mission must develop conditions for successful deep maneuver. Experience gained from Operation Desert Storm identified four BOS critical to the division in a deep attack: intelligence, fire support, command and control, and combat service support.

Division intelligence assets must acquire and track the enemy's air defense array to ensure uninterrupted deep aviation operations. Next, they must pinpoint the enemy's artillery. Hostile artillery is the enemy's most responsive means of suppressing the initial stages of the division's deep attack. Third, intelligence assets must identify the enemy's command and control centers. Suppression of these facilities will hinder the enemy's attempts at countering the deep attack. Finally, intelligence assets must fix the location of enemy forces to identify probable routes for the deep attack and the position of the enemy's reserve forces.

Fire support, both lethal and nonlethal, is the primary means to suppress the assets identified during the intelligence preparation of the battlefield. Precision joint fires are key to setting the conditions and support for division deep operations. Air sorties strike far beyond

the FLOT. Attack aviation, organic and corps artillery, and electronic jamming must combine their power to destroy key strips in the enemy air defense grid, suppress enemy command and control nodes, and neutralize his reserve forces and precision weapons.

Command and control in cross-FLOT operations require centralized planning and decentralized execution. Commanders must be inventive. Mission orders, detailed rehearsals and backbriefs are critical. Commanders at all levels must firmly understand the operation's intent. Given the nature of deep operations, communications will be interrupted; therefore, subordinate commanders must share the commander's vision of the operation's end state in order to succeed. To reduce the interruption of communications, control procedures must be in place to efficiently use high frequency and satellite capabilities.

Combat service support is configured to provide flexible and responsive support to this high-tempo operation. The logistics planner must tailor a support package that is robust enough to support the operation while being lean enough to reduce the logistics tail of the operation. For the logistician to bring together this package, he must fully understand the intent of the operation and be able to answer the following questions:

  • How long will the operation last?

  • What forces will be involved?

  • Is resupply of the force expected during the operation?

  • What external resupply assets are available to the division?

  • What mode of resupply is available (air or ground)?

  • Will the unit establish ground resupply routes and, if so, when?

By answering these questions the logistician can determine the CSS requirements and capabilities necessary to support the operation. The logistics planner determines the assets available and the mode of resupply to improve the flexibility of support and increase the maneuver commander's options.

The commander focuses on the above considerations to set

the conditions for a successful division deep attack. Timely and accurate intelligence draws the picture of the battlefield. Precision fires precede and support ground and aviation maneuver. Automated command and control systems coupled with the effective use of high-frequency (HF) and FM radio and satellite communications provide mobile communications and extend critical communications links that are used to maintain the tempo of the attack. A tailored logistics package backed by a solid logistics plan sustains the operation.

As the US Army refines the organization and operations concept for Force XXI, deep operations will become easier to plan and execute. Intelligence gathering and dissemination will improve through automation and

broadcast dissemination systems that provide a multiple-echelon common intelligence picture of the battlefield. Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems will allow commanders to mass precision fires at depth from dispersed locations. This, coupled with the enhanced range and lethality of the weapons systems, significantly improves the division's capability to set the conditions for deep maneuver.

Digitization and other advances in information technology will result in smaller, more mobile staffs with a common view of the battlefield and assured communications. Logistics will be modular, tailorable, and flexible to sustain Army forces during deep operations. These innovations will produce divisions much more readily able to conduct deep operations than their counterparts of today.

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