Chapter 4



SECTION I.      Brigade Defensive Operations

      Threat Offensive Doctrine

      Defend in Sector

SECTION II.     Battalion Task Force Defensive Operations

      Threat Offensive Doctrine

      Defend in Sector

      Defend a Battle Position

      Defend a Strongpoint

SECTION III.   Company Team Defensive Operations

      Threat Offensive Doctrine

      Defend in Sector

      Defend a Battle Position

      Defend a Strongpoint

SECTION IV.   European Defensive Scenario

How a commander conducts defensive operations depends on a great number of factors. In various situations, some factors may have minimal impact; however, in a mid-to high-intensity environment, four factors may be dominant. These factors are: reduced Pk at extended ranges for tank cannon; the likelihood of a dirty battlefield, which may not be contaminated but will be obscured; the quantity of threat combat vehicles; and the speed of attack. These actors will impact substantially on the commander's scheme for the defense at brigade, battalion, and company, whether the mission is defense in sector, defense of a BP, or defense of a strongpoint.

Lethality considerations involve the commander and his staff. They must have a realistic understanding of the lethality of their combat systems, especially the tank. Several considerations combine to make lethal frontal engagements of threat tanks unrealistic beyond 2,000 meters. Because of the threat approach to armor design, threat tanks have most of their armor protection concentrated in the frontal 60-degree arc of the turret. These threat armors are difficult to penetrate frontally at any range with KE ammunition. However, the sides, top, and rear have relatively thin armor, making them vulnerable to attack from these aspects. Recent adoption of reactive armor by the threat has an even greater negative effect on CE warheads, whether tank-or missile-delivered.

Although attempts to increase KE penetration capabilities against threat armor have been fairly successful, the more modem long-rod penetrators achieve this at the expense of some delivery accuracy. Obviously, to achieve a kill, the penetrator must first fit the target.

As range increases, Ph decreases. Also, as range increases, the Pk given a hit decreases because velocity decreases with range, and penetration is dependent on velocity, among other things. The counter to these developments is to engage from closer ranges if engaging frontally, or to engage from longer ranges on the flank or rear. Considering just Pk, the dominant considerations are--

  • Long frontal engagements are ineffective.
  • Frontal engagements should begin at less than 2,000 meters.
  • Flank and rear engagements give great Pk.

Weapon planning ranges in the defense are a function of both Ph and Pk. A further understanding of Ph and Pk, particularly with tank cannons, is needed when planning and executing the defense. Commanders should know the specified lethality capabilities of the particular KE rounds they will be firing as they relate to the specific threat armor characteristics and vulnerabilities they will fight. While actual values of Ph and Pk are classified, it is obvious that Ph reduces as a function of range, as does Pk for KE penetrators (see Figure 4-1).

To figure the planning range for a tank, you need to know how many rounds you are willing to expend. It is possible to hit a threat tank at 3,000 meters but less probable to do so on the first round. Further, even given a hit, the Pk will be very low against turret frontal aspects. With limited rounds on board a tank (MlAl, 40; Ml, 55; M60A3, 63), and the time and logistical support needed for resupply, the commander must manage resources carefully. The idea is to make every bullet count, which requires reduced engagement ranges. There is a balance. Engaging at too close a range frontally will increase Ph and Pk, but reduce the number of targets that can be destroyed before the attacker is on your position. If mission considerations take priority, for example as in a delay mission, the engagement ranges may be extended at the cost of the number of kills possible before resupply is required. The ideal planning range is 1,500 meters. This can be extended with recognition of degraded Ph, degraded Pk against turret frontal armor, and reduced kills with the onboard load of ammunition.

Obscuration caused by smoke, fog, and dust can aid the attacker. The threat artillery capability is large enough that we must expect extensive use of smoke when it attacks, and we can count on the European battlefield being regularly obscured by fog. These two obscurants combine to be virtually impenetrable by thermal optics. The counter to this problem will be to design short-range engagements with EAs that are constrained between natural or man-made obstacles. A planning range of 1,000 to 1,500 meters will be appropriate if obscuration is expected.

The number of targets affects defensive operations. Defense missions imply a superiority in threat combat vehicles. The threat has the combat systems to maintain this superiority for extensive periods over broad frontages. The implication for the defender is to kill threat vehicles, and keep on killing them over a long period of time. Then, when the attacker-to-defender ratio is sufficiently reduced, at least locally, the defender must seize the initiative from the attacker. A defender who is particularly short of infantry cannot defend a BP for extended periods. Superior numbers of threat infantry will eventually force the positional defense. The counter to this is to defend in sector, using mobility to spread the killing of threat vehicles over time by spreading the fight over the terrain in depth.

Speed of the threat attack presents problems and necessitates solutions similar to those for dealing with the number of targets as discussed above. Speed causes more targets to be at a given point during a specific period. The counter to this must again be to spread the fight through the depth of a sector. Depth in the brigade sector will normally be achieved by deploying company teams in depth within the battalion sectors. Rarely could a brigade afford to thicken the battlefield sufficiently to have battalions in depth; and there would be significant C2 problems. At the other end of the spectrum, the team commander will normally fight his team intact on one position at a time. Normally, he will not split the company team and fight platoons in depth from different positions. This does not preclude moving platoons separately from one company team position to the next.

These four factors combine to favor a defender engaging threat forces from the flank and rear. Frontal engagements will work only at closer ranges. The combined effects of obscuration (smoke, fog, and dust), particularly on a European or desert battlefield, require close planning ranges with direct-fire weapons throughout the EA. In short, the plan must work with worst-case visibility. All these factors point to a short-range engagement. The defender must anticipate decisive engagement and plan accordingly by ensuring the engagement will be on as favorable terms as possible. This demands controlling the total number of threat vehicles confronted at any one time. Selecting restrictive terrain with choke points will help regulate the flow of the attacker into the killing area. In addition to the Ph and Pk considerations just discussed, engagements from the flank will increase the number of kills because it takes the threat longer to respond and return fire. This is especially true when it is forced to button up because its field of view is reduced to 7 degrees. Given effective fire distribution, the defender should be able to kill at least three vehicles per defending tank against the threat flank before the threat can begin to return fire.

An optimum direct-fire distribution plan would result in each target being killed only once. More targets and shooters in the fight make this increasingly difficult to achieve. It is difficult enough at platoon and company level. A battalion EA will almost certainly result in less efficient fire distribution due to duplication, masking, dead space, and obscuration. In an ideal situation, good fire distribution should allow a defending team with terrain masking that is engaging from the flank at 1,000 to 1,500 meters to quickly destroy a reinforced threat company. If the terrain is not ideal for such close engagement, the defender must adapt these principles to the terrain for longer ranges but recognize that this will degrade visibility, C2, Ph/Pk, and favorable direct-fire combat ratios (too many threat killers in too large an EA). A defender who repeatedly takes a series of totally lethal small bites will succeed. Brigade and higher commands must facilitate this fight by striving to obtain and then assign the right terrain to make it work. Battalion and company commanders and platoon leaders must then design EAs that will permit flank positioning as well as routes to displace.

Emplaced obstacles traditionally used to reroute forces into an EA should be prioritized to fix the threat's exit from the EA. Use of natural obstacles and terrain will be more effective to channel the threat and not reveal friendly positions and intentions. The execution phase will depend heavily on finding gaps in threat echelons or creating gaps with indirect fires to permit the defender to move quickly between its positions.


Threat Offensive Doctrine

How the Threat Attacks

The three basic forms of offensive action on the battlefield are: an attack against a defending threat, a meeting battle, and a pursuit.

The ground forces attack in depth. This point is important for those who might have to defend against an attack, because focus on the operations of a single division does not properly magnify the problem. A defending brigade in the main sector of an attack could face one or two divisions initially, followed by additional divisions attacking to intensify the force and tempo of the offense.

The offensive against a defending threat usually is accomplished in two distinct but overlapping stages. The first is the concentration of combat power at a chosen point to rupture the threat defenses. In the second stage, the attack is intensified by the rapid exploitation of the success achieved in the first stage. To discuss this operation in terms more familiar to the reader from the US, the first stage will be called the breakthrough and the second stage the exploitation.

The breakthrough is accomplished by concentrating superior combat at the decisive point. In the breakthrough sector, the Soviet-style armies concentrate artillery for an intense preparation and for close FS during the operation. They use mass and economy of force to achieve at least a 3:1 advantage. This ratio is a minimum, and commanders try to achieve greater advantage in the sector of the main effort. Soviet-style doctrine lists a vigorous reconnaissance, use of all available FS, and a vigorous ground attack as requirements for a successful breakthrough.

The echelon forces try to maintain a rapid advance. The first echelon ruptures the defense and seals the shoulders of the penetration. The second echelon exploits this success by advancing through the penetration to seize deep objectives. The distinction between a second echelon and a reserve is that the second echelon is given a precisely defined mission before the attack. A reserve is not assigned an offensive mission ahead of time, but is assigned its mission during the course of the battle.

If the threat is given time to reconstitute a defense, the barrier to further offensive operations still exists, and the first stage of the operation must be repeated. To preclude this, the first echelon is allocated sufficient combat power to overwhelm the threat quickly. The army commander in a main sector is likely to place more than half of a division in the first echelon and use artillery from front-in preparation preceding the first echelon's assault.

Although the army commander assigns missions to divisions as he sees fit, a typical immediate task for a first-echelon division is to advance through the rear limits of a defending brigade's AO and destroy the division's reserve forces. A typical subsequent mission is to advance through the rear limits of the defending division's sector and to destroy the corps reserve forces. The mission for the day is a point slightly beyond the division's subsequent task. The total distance of the entire operation is 30 to 50 kilometers beyond the threat's FEBA.

In the exploitation stage of the operation, the army's second-echelon divisions move through the gap or gaps created by the first echelon and exploit in depth. In practice, the army commander has the flexibility to change directions of advance and mission for his divisions during the course of the battle. Likewise, division commanders are required to react to battlefield developments and to clarify instructions to regimental commanders as the operation develops.

A regiment in the first echelon may be ordered to go over to the defensive temporarily to meet a battlefield problem, and subsequently may be employed in the second echelon. The effect created by this is an attack in waves. If the threat has a well-organized defense in depth, the offensive is constructed to throw a fresh wave against each subsequent line of defense. If the defense is organized with most forces forward, offensive forces in the second echelon or second wave are prepared to advance quickly to objectives located far beyond the MBA after the penetration is achieved. For example, an army is prepared to advance to a depth of more than 150 kilometers with its second-echelon divisions. In this situation, exploitation divisions march in column in anticipation of a meeting engagement.

Conduct of a Motorized Rifle Division Attack

When faced with a prepared defense echeloned in depth with strong reserves, the Soviet-style armies conduct an offensive against a defending threat. An offensive against a defending threat could occur as follows.

A commander of a combined-arms army plans to conduct an offensive through a region defended by a threat division. The threat division is defended on a front of 45 kilometers with two brigades forward and one in depth. The army commander controls four MRDs and one tank division. He places the three MRDs in the first echelon and forms the second echelon from the tank division and the remaining MRD. The main attack is against the 12th Brigade, with a supporting attack against the 13th Brigade. As a result, the army commander decides to attack the 12th Brigade with two divisions and the 13th Brigade with one. Thus, the two divisions conducting the main attack are each concentrated on 9 to 10 kilometers frontages, although the division conducting the secondary attack has a frontage of 26 kilometers.

The army commander assigns missions to his divisions in the following terms (see Figure 4-2).

First Division (MRD)

Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units, attack in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 1, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries.

Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction A to B, destroy the threat in Region 2, and occupy Line Q-R within assigned boundaries.

Mission for the day. Advance in direction B to C, destroy the threat in Region 3, and occupy Line O-P within assigned boundaries.

Second Division (MRD)

Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units attacking in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 4, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries.

Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction D to E, destroy the threat in Region 5, and occupy Line Q-R within assigned boundaries.

Mission for the day. Advance in direction E to F, destroy the threat in Region 6, and occupy Line O-P within assigned boundaries. (Note that the final boundaries have expanded to 15 kilometers to facilitate passage of the second echelon.)

Third Division (MRD)

Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units, attack in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 7, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries.

Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction G to H, destroy the threat in Region 8, and occupy Line Q-R within assigned boundaries.

Mission for the day. Advance in direction H to J, destroy the threat in Region 9, and occupy Line O-P within assigned boundaries.

Fourth Division (TD)

Advance in the second echelon behind the first MRD. Be prepared to deploy in Regions 1 or 2 and develop success in direction B to C to Line O-P. Be prepared to advance in direction C to T to Line O'-P'.

Fifth Division (MRD)

Advance in the second echelon behind the second MRD. Be prepared to deploy in Regions 4 or 5 and to develop success in direction E to F to Line O-P. Be prepared to advance in direction F to V to Line O'-P'.

The division commander of the first MRD elects to make his main attack in the zone of the second MRR and gives the regiment a smaller frontage. He could place three regiments in the first echelon, but he has decided to attack with two regiments in the first echelon (see Figure 4-3).

First Regiment (MRR)

Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units, attack in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 1A, and occupy Line K-L within assigned boundaries.

Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction N to A, destroy the threat in Region 1B, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries. Further direction of advance B to C.

Second Regiment (MRR)

Immediate task. With attached artillery and special units, attack in assigned sector, destroy the threat in Region 1C, and occupy Line K-L within assigned boundaries.

Subsequent task. Continue to advance in direction M to S, destroy the threat in Region 1D, and occupy Line W-Y within assigned boundaries. Further direction of advance Z to U.

Third Regiment (TR)

Advance in the second echelon behind the first MRR. Be prepared to deploy in Region 1A or 1B, and to develop success in direction A to B to Line Q-R or O-P.

Fourth Regiment (MRR)

Advance in the second echelon behind the second MRR. Be prepared to deploy in Regions 1C to 1D, and to develop success in the direction of S to Line Q-R or O-P.

Mission orders include preparations for a variety of contingencies. The detailed planning also includes planning for a variety of contingencies, and commanders are prepared to react to combat developments.

As the battle develops, threat resistance in the sector of the second MRR slows the advance while the first MRR breaks through, occupies Line K-L, and continues in direction N to A. The second MRR commander advises the division commander of the situation while, on his own initiative, he commits his second-echelon battalion around the left flank of the threat in his sector to exploit the first MRR's success and to protect the regiment's flank.

The division commander orders the second MRR commander to establish a defense and prepare to repulse a counterattack. He orders the commander of the fourth MRR to advance from the left front, in anticipation of the meeting engagement. The mission is to occupy Line W-Y in the original zone of the second MRR.

As combat develops, the threat forces are committed against the advancing fourth MRR. The fourth MRR conducts a meeting engagement that disperses the threat forces. The remaining threat elements that originally stopped the second MRR's advance are forced to withdraw. The second MRR joins the second echelon.

Meanwhile, the threat division commander has been forced to commit his reserve in the zone of the second MRD. As a result, the leading regiments of the first MRD encounter only scattered resistance and occupy Line Q-R, which is the division's subsequent task. The division commander then commits the third tank regiment and the second MRR to seize Line O-P.

The fourth TD has advanced in the sector of the first MRD. The second MRD, after temporarily going over to the defensive to repulse the counterattack by the threat division reserve, has joined the second echelon while the fifth MRD continued the advance in the second MRD's original sector.

Meeting Battle


The Soviet-style armies view the meeting battle as the most common form of combat. As shown in the discussion of the offensive against a defending threat, the Soviet-style armies intend to develop the offensive at a rapid tempo and disallow the threat time to reconstitute an effective defense. The collision of the two forces results in a meeting battle.

When contact is likely, the Soviet-style armies are organized for combat before contact with the threat. This organization is basically an advance guard and a main body. A unit places up to one-third of its combat power in the advance guard. Thus, the advance guard for an MRD may be a reinforced MRR. The advance guard aggressively attacks when the threat's leading elements are encountered. This stops the threat advance and force in his reconnaissance and security elements. While the threat is attempting to clarify the situation, the main body attacks on the flanks and rear.

The Soviet-style armies require units marching in anticipation of a meeting battle to conduct deep reconnaissance to clarify the situation. The Soviet-style armies emphasize time, and expect the unit to assume the offensive without waiting for clarification of the situation.

The commander must be alert to sudden changes in the situation. He must be prepared to shift fires, change direction, and establish new objectives. If he fails to seize the initiative, he must be prepared to organize a defense, halt the threat, and launch a counterattack. If the threat attacks with superior forces, the commander must be prepared to organize a defense in depth to contain the threat attack until other units can attack the flanks and rear of the threat.

Sample Meeting Battle

The second MRD is advancing in anticipation of a meeting battle in direction BLUE. The division marches with a reinforced MRR as the advance guard; and the main body marches on two parallel routes. The reconnaissance battalion is operating out to 60 kilometers from the forward detachment, and the forward detachment is 15 to 20 kilometers from the advance guard. The advance guard is 20 kilometers from the main body, and the length of the division main body is 35 kilometers from head to tail (see Figure 4-4).

The location of the reserve and the surrounding terrain suggest the most likely threat approach will be from the left front. Based on this information, the commander places his tank regiment on the left route of march, for it is from here that the tanks can best maneuver to attack the rear of the threat force.

The commander analyzes all terrain along the route of march and prepares for a variety of contingencies. He briefs his subordinate commander and conveys his concept of the operation. In this briefing he discusses likely points of contact and AAs along the route of march.

At 1245 hours, as the advance guard crosses PL ALPHA, the commander of the division reconnaissance battalion reports that a column of threat infantry and artillery about 20 kilometers in length is moving toward the division route of march from direction BLUE-RED (see Figure 4-5). The head of the column is in the vicinity of village SOVKHOZ. At 1255 hours, the advance guard reports that they have engaged a threat rifle company near village BORODINO. On the basis of this data, the commander is able to develop a preliminary idea of possible threat strength and actions. He decides that the entire division must be committed to a meeting engagement.

Meanwhile, without waiting for instructions, the friendly advance guard deploys to attack the threat security elements and advance guard. Simultaneously, the advance guard commander informs the division commander of the situation. The division commander reconfirms data from the initial briefing and orders the advance guard to seize key terrain to the south and east of BORODINO. The advance guard attacks, seizes the assigned terrain, and drives in threat reconnaissance and security, thus denying the threat his eyes and ears. The advance guard reaches PL BRAVO by 1415 hours.

By 1320 hours, the division commander has given combat missions by radio to the regimental commander of the main body. The tank regiment is given a direction of march, which is GREEN-HIGHLAND FALLS, and a line of deployment in the vicinity of HIGHLAND FALLS with left and right limits for a deployment sector. The mission is to destroy the threat in area FOXTROT and to secure Line DELTA within the sector. The regiment is also assigned a direction of further advance, which is HIGHLAND FALLS-BROWN.

The sixth MRR is given a new direction of march, which is PURPLE-POMPTON LAKES, and a line of deployment in the vicinity of POMPTON LAKES with a deployment sector as indicated. The mission is to destroy the threat in area ECHO and secure Line DELTA within sector. The regiment is also assigned a direction of further advance CHICKASHA-BEIGE.

The regiments march rapidly to their assigned deployment sectors and deploy as quickly as possible. The tank regiment deploys in the vicinity of HIGHLAND FALLS by 1455 hours. Without waiting for the MRRs to complete deployment, the tank regiment goes over to the attack against a partially deployed threat. At 1505 hours, the sixth MRR completes deployment and initiates its attack, followed by the seventh MRR at 1510 hours.

The tank regiment overwhelms the threat in area FOXTROT and reaches Line DELTA by 1600 hours. The threat manages to establish a hasty defense against the sixth and seventh MRRs, whose advances meet with great resistance. By 1600 hours, they have reached PL CHARLIE. The success of the tank regiment and pressure from the advance guard place the remaining threat forces in an untenable position, forcing them to withdraw to the southwest. The division commander responds by organizing a pursuit to complete the destruction of the threat (see Figure 4-6).



The concept of the pursuit is simple. The commander organizes his force to accomplish three basic tasks. First, part of the attacking force must maintain frontal pressure on the threat to prevent disengagement. Second, the commander uses part of his force to march on routes parallel to the threat withdrawal and attack his flanks. These attacks will prevent the threat from forming in column formation and slow his rate of withdrawal. Third, a portion of the force must outdistance the threat and block the withdrawal. This part of the force seizes key terrain and important positions in the path of withdrawing threat forces. The threat must be slowed, overtaken, and blocked.

When a threat unit is withdrawing hastily, a pursuit is organized to complete its destruction. The commanders are taught to be alert for signs of deliberate withdrawals designed to gain time or a more advantageous position. The pursuit also is used against a deliberate withdrawal to disrupt the orderly march, create panic, and turn the withdrawal into a rout.

The key to the pursuit is the early discovery of threat withdrawal. The threat must not be allowed to break contact. In the deliberate withdrawal, the threat may execute well-planned deception operations. A threat force under pressure can be expected to attempt to continue combat until nightfall and withdraw under the cover of darkness. The commanders must ensure active reconnaissance, understand threat tactics, and anticipate situations in which a withdrawal can be expected.

Listed indicators of a withdrawal are: nuclear strikes against first-echelon troops, increased movement and transport to the rear, a brief increase in fire on an individual sector of the front, a brief intensification of fire on individual or isolated sectors with a general reduction of fire across the entire front, a move to the rear of depots and rear area establishments, preparations for demolition and destruction of various structures, and the conduct of counterattacks by limited forces.

The commander must prevent the disengagement of threat forces. Attacks must be pressed so that the threat will not be able to conceal the withdrawal with limited screening forces. He organizes a pursuit on a route parallel to the threat movement with artillery in support of tanks, and with motorized infantry firing at threat troop concentrations at road junctions, defiles, bridges, and fording sites. This disrupts the threat march. Although some forces attack the flanks, other forces (usually tank units) outdistance the threat and block the withdrawal route. The encircled threat is then attacked and destroyed.

The threat conducting a deliberate withdrawal often has a well-organized barrier system that may include zones of contamination. In this situation, engineer and chemical defense units moving with MR and tank units must be prepared to overcome obstacles rapidly to maintain the rate of advance.

Airborne or airmobile operations are also used to outdistance the threat and seize key positions to block the threat withdrawal. The increased use of helicopters by the ground forces makes airmobile operations in the pursuit more likely.

Sample Pursuit Operation

By 1600 hours, the second MRD has been partially successful in the conduct of a meeting engagement. Although the sixth and seventh MRRs have advanced only to Line CHARLIE, the eighth tank regiment has dispersed a threat brigade and has seized Line DELTA within the assigned boundaries. The ninth MRR holds dominating terrain on Line BRAVO.

The threat commander decides to withdraw. He organizes aggressive but limited counterattacks all along the front to conceal his intentions. He also steps up artillery fire along the front. At about 1715 hours, as darkness falls, the threat briefly increases artillery fire on the right flank of the eighth tank regiment and the left flank of the sixth MRR while conducting aggressive demonstrations with a reinforced battalion left in contact. At the same time, the main force of the threat moves to the rear, organizes into its march organizations, and begins to move on the road leading in the direction of ROCKVILLE-Bridge YANKEE.

Long-range aerial reconnaissance has reported well-prepared threat defensive positions beyond the River JORDAN east of WHEATON, with the forward elements of an threat division already in position. At 1730 hours, reconnaissance elements of the sixth MRR report threat troops on the road withdrawing from the front and moving in direction CACHE-NORFOLK. The division commander decides the threat is trying to withdraw and organizes a pursuit (see Figure 4-7). He orders the eighth tank regiment to pursue in direction LAWTON-Bridge YANKEE and seize approaches to Bridge YANKEE, Road Junction WHISKEY, and Hill 834. The sixth MRR is ordered to destroy the threat in the vicinity of MERIDIAN and to pursue in direction LAWTON-ODESSA-MIDLAND. The seventh MRR is to attack in direction NORFOLK-ROCKVILLE, destroy threat screening or covering forces, and maintain contact with the main threat force. The ninth MRR is to destroy the threat in the vicinity of COLUMBUS and pursue in direction SHREVEPORT-DENHAM SPRINGS (see Figure 4-8).

At 1830 hours, the eighth tank regiment reports that it is crossing Line LAWTON-SHREVEPORT (see Figure 4-9). At 1835 hours, the sixth MRR reports the destruction of an estimated threat rifle company in the vicinity of MERIDIAN. The regiment is moving in column across Line DELTA toward LAWTON. The ninth MRR reports the route of an estimated threat company near COLUMBUS at 1840 hours. The regiment is moving toward SHREVEPORT, but is receiving some artillery fire from the left flank. The seventh MRR reports at 1840 hours that it has driven in threat screening forces and secured Line DELTA, but has not made contact with the main threat column.

At 1845 hours, reconnaissance elements from the sixth MRR report that threat security elements are passing near NORFOLK. The division commander, located near the head of the sixth MRR's column, orders the regimental commander to conduct a battalion-size attack at 1910 hours and seize Line NORFOLK-CACHE.

Darkness and difficult terrain slow the rates of march for both Soviet-style armies and threat forces. The attack by an MRB of the sixth MRR drives in threat screening forces, but meets heavy resistance near the road. The battalion occupies the assigned boundary by 2345 hours. Threat counterattacks against the battalion's left flank force the regimental commander, now at Line LAWTON-SHREVEPORT, to commit an additional battalion in direction LAWTON-NORFOLK to secure the position.

At 0040 hours, reconnaissance from the tank regiment reports threat security detachments in the vicinity of ROCKVILLE. Meanwhile, the tank regiments advance guard is approaching Road Junction WHISKEY. By radio, the division commander orders the ninth MRR to conduct a battalion-size attack to seize Line RESTON-CAMERON. At 0130 hours, the tank regiment reports that it has seized Road Junction WHISKEY and approaches to Bridge YANKEE. At 0330 hours, the ninth MRR reports the seizure of Line RESTON-CAMERON. The battalion on the line reports heavy small-arms fire to its front, but no counterattack. At the same time, the sixth MRR reports heavy small-arms fire to its front, but no counterattack. Simultaneously, the sixth MRR reports heavy small-arms fire to its front and a 10-minute intense artillery strike as its lead elements cross Line LAWTON-SHREVEPORT. At 0400 hours, security elements of the tank regiment report contact with the threat on the road in the vicinity of KILLEEN. Hill 834 is also now secure.

The two battalions of the sixth MRR that had secured Line NORFOLK-CACHE move ahead as the lead elements of the seventh MRR close on CACHE. These battalions march behind the main body of the regiment. Under orders from the division commander, the main body secures Line MIDLAND at 0330 hours. At 0410 hours, the remaining battalions rejoin the regiment. The remaining battalions of the ninth MRR secure Line BOISE-ALTUS-CAMERON by 0430 hours. The seventh MRR secures Line RESTON-LAWTON by 0435 hours.

The division commander orders the tank regiment to attack at 0510 hours in direction Road Junction WHISKEY-CAMERON to destroy the threat within their assigned boundaries, and to occupy Line ALTUS-RESTON. The sixth MRR is to attack at 0510 hours in direction MIDLAND-QUINCY, destroy threat within assigned boundaries, and occupy Line RESTON-QUINCY. The seventh MRR and the ninth MRR are to block and prevent threat escape. One battalion from the division artillery regiment and one MRB from the ninth MRR are to cover the approaches to the river with fire to protect against possible threat actions from the threat strongpoint near WHEATON.

The attack is launched at 0510 hours. By 0800 hours, the tank regiment and the sixth MRR have seized their assigned lines, and the threat has been dispersed. The commander then regroups to prepare for a breakthrough operation against defenses in front of WHEATON. He reports the situation to the army commander.

Conduct of Tank Division Attack

A division normally attacks with most of its combat power in a first echelon or a strong single echelon. The remaining forces are organized into a second echelon, a combined arms reserve, or special reserves, such as engineer, chemical or AT subunits. The main difference between a second-echelon force and a combined-arms reserve is that the former has an assigned mission, but the latter does not (see Figure 4-10).

Within the division's attack zone, a main attack axis may be designated based on terrain, disposition of threat defenses, or the order received from army or higher headquarters. One or two of its first-echelon regiments probably would attack along or abreast of the main attack axis. Another first-echelon regiment probably would conduct a supporting attack.

A second-echelon regiment normally has a mission to continue the attack against a deeper objective along the main attack axis. Normal commitment of a second-echelon regiment takes place after the division's immediate objective has been achieved. The second echelon is committed by the commander when and where it can best contribute to overall success.

A regiment designated a combined-arms reserve would not have an assigned objective at the beginning of an attack. It would be held in readiness to attack along the most opportune axis at a time determined by the division commander. Before being committed, second-echelon or combined-arms reserve subunits advance in march or prebattle formation approximately 15 to 30 kilometers to the rear of the first echelon. This distance varies with the situation. The commander keeps second echelon or reserve forces far enough forward to influence the battle in a timely manner, but far enough to the rear to protect them from the bulk of threat direct-fire and direct-support weapons.

When attacking with three regiments in a single echelon, a division zone of attack is normally 15 to 25 kilometers wide. This width could vary considerably with the situation. Within the zone of attack, there probably would be no distinct, continuous division attack frontage. Each of the three first-echelon regiments attacks on its own axis, with situation-variable spaces between regiments. Regimental attack frontages can vary from as little as 3 kilometers to as much as 8 kilometers, depending on the regiment's mission and battle formation.

A division may attack on multiple axes with no obvious main attack. The division array would be similar to that just described, with three regiments about equally dispersed in a single echelon. The leading regiments attack and probe for weak points in threat defenses, penetrate wherever they can, and develop penetrations. The division commander allows the battle to develop to a stage where he can determine which penetration promises the best opportunity to drive into the threat rear. He then commits his combined arms reserve through this penetration.

A division attack could include a vertical envelopment by a heliborne force of up to battalion size. An organic MRB, stripped of its combat vehicles and reinforced with airmobile CS, could conduct such an assault.

Heliborne assaults could extend out to 50 kilometers beyond the FEBA. Likely objectives are key terrain such as defiles, bridges, or river-crossing sites. A division may employ a forward detachment, such as a reinforced tank battalion, to link up with a heliborne assault. It is likely that forward detachments also would be employed throughout an offensive operation, particularly after penetrating the threat main defensive area.

A division forward detachment of reinforced battalion size may be dispatched on a swift, independent penetration into the threat depths to seize and hold a tactical objective until the arrival of main forces. It may also be used for tactical raids. In either case, missions of forward detachments are intended to accelerate the advance of main forces and the dissolution of the threat defense.

Typical objectives for a forward detachment include--

  • Road junctions.
  • Bridges.
  • River-crossing sites.
  • Mountain passes.
  • Air defense weapons.
  • Rockets and missiles.
  • CPs.
  • Communications centers.
  • Tactical reserves.
  • Withdrawing forces.

Advance guards differ from forward detachments in mission. An advance guard is a march security element that protects and warns the main marching force and engages threat forces encountered on the march route. A forward detachment is a deep-attack force detailed to achieve an independent mission. It is not restricted to the route of its main force.

Defend In Sector



Brigade commanders need information to fight the close-in battle of the brigade against threat first-echelon regiments. They also need accurate intelligence about threat second-echelon regiments within first-echelon divisions and follow-on forces which can close on their AO before the current engagement can be decisively concluded.

The brigade commander needs specific information about--

  • The composition, equipment, strengths, and weaknesses of advancing forces.
  • The location, direction, and speed of threat first-echelon battalions and their subordinate companies.
  • The location and activities of threat second and follow-on echelons capable of reinforcing the first echelon.
  • The location of threat indirect-fire weapon systems and units.
  • The location of gaps, assailable flanks, and other tactical weaknesses in the threat's order of battle and OPSEC posture.
  • The locations of antiaircraft and missile artillery units.
  • The location of SAM units.
  • The location of radioelectronic combat units.
  • The effects of weather and terrain on current and projected operations.
  • The most likely withdrawal routes for threat forces.
  • The anticipated timetable or event schedule associated with the threat's most likely course of action.

Specific information about threat first-and second-echelon regimental C3 facilities is of paramount concern to the brigade commander. He seeks to know the specific locations of threat--

  • Division forward and main CPs.
  • Regimental and battalion CPs.
  • Fire direction control centers.
  • COPs.
  • Radio and radar reconnaissance sites.
  • Radioelectronic combat sites.
  • Target acquisition sites.

The suppression, neutralization, and/or destruction of threat C3 systems and facilities is critical to the success of the close-in battle. Brigade S2s, in concert with supporting division and corps IEW, maneuver, and FS units, use all available means to identify, locate, disrupt, and destroy these targets. Their objective is to neutralize the threat commander's capability to command and control troops. Normally, the brigade S2 receives his information from the following sources:

  • Maneuver unit observation-spot reports/patrols.
  • Field artillery units.

- Weapons-locating radar, cannon, rocket, mortar.

- Moving-target radar.

  • Air defense units.

- Forward area alerting radar.

- Target alert data display set.

  • MI assets.

- GSRs.

- Remote sensors

- Counterintelligence support.

- EPW interrogation teams.

- Aerial surveillance-side-looking radar.

- Ground EW assets-collection and jamming.

  • Aviation.

- Reconnaissance flights.

- In-flight reports.

The key to effective processing of collected information is IPB. In planning for defensive operations, IPB is addressed in the following manner.

Evaluation of AOs and interest. The commander should be provided sufficient information to examine the battlefield multidimensionally. The data bases used to accumulate and evaluate this information include maps (especially engineer maps), aerial photos, and threat organization workbook data. Much of this is available in division intelligence estimates.

Terrain analysis. In this step, the IPB analyst is tasked to describe those geographic, militarily significant factors that can impact on trafficability and intervisibility for intelligence collection, target acquisition, and weapons capabilities within the brigade area of influence. A slope overlay is another example of the many possible terrain factor overlays that can be developed and used by the analyst. Terrain analysis reduces uncertainties about terrain effect on friendly and threat capabilities to move, shoot, and communicate.

Weather analysis. In this step, the traditional weather products, the weather observation, and the forecast and climatic studies do not provide all the information the analyst requires. Products such as the fog overlay are constructed so that seasonal fog pattern and density effects on trafficability and intervisibility can be studied.

Threat evaluation. Threat evaluation uses detailed analysis of threat doctrine, tactics, weapons, equipment, and associated battlefield functional systems to determine the size, type, location, and mission of threat forces. These doctrinal templates provide descriptions of unit and force composition and depict how the threat would like to be configured to fight if not constrained by terrain or weather factors. These templates consist of equipment numbers and ratios, electromagnetic signatures, or spacial distribution of elements within units or forces. This is also the step where potential high-value targets for attack are identified, such as threat CP positions.

All of the various terrain and weather factor overlays are then combined to create a combined obstacle overlay. This overlay now shows all major terrain and weather related obstacles that can influence mobility within the brigade area. The analyst identifies AAs into the brigade's AO. Mobility corridors permitting movement within these AAs are selected based on the threat's capabilities.

Threat integration. This final step relates how the threat force would like to fight in a specific terrain and weather scenario as a basis for determining how the threat force might have to fight by integrating the previous four steps. The template construction process essential to this step consists of producing doctrinal, situation, event, and decision support templates for use by the commander, staff officers, and analysts. The doctrinal template was described during the discussion of step one of the IPB process (see Figure 4-11).

The situation template is a doctrinal template with terrain and weather constraints applied to it. It is produced by placing a doctrinal template over a selected mobility corridor or specific terrain configuration and noting how the threat force must modify to account for terrain constraints.

As a threat force moves along a mobility corridor, it will be required to do certain things dictated by terrain, weather, and tactics. Based on rate of movement, terrain, and tactical considerations, the analyst selects NAIs where he expects to see certain activities. NAIs facilitate focusing acquisition assets. NAIs may become TAIs. Activity, or lack of it, will help confirm or deny a particular threat course of action. When plans are developed to place fires, such as artillery, on NAIs, they then become TAIs as well.

The event template is a projection of what will most likely have to occur if a certain course of action is adopted by the threat. On the example of an event template in Figure 4-12, NAIs 2, 3, 6, and 9 are areas where activity would provide indications of intent. Activity in NAI 6 would indicate whether mobility corridor ALPHA or BRAVO would be adopted as the route of advance. Movement of threat bridging elements forward as the force approached the destroyed bridge at NAI 9 would be an indication that a river crossing would be attempted, rather than a move to NAI 12 where river crossing should be less difficult. The other NAIs represent intermediate points for collection planning purposes or tracking for target development purposes. How one leg of a mobility corridor might be represented is shown on the event analysis matrix.

The matrix shown in Figure 4-13 enables the analyst to correlate an event or activity with the geographic location and time at which the event is expected to take place. This capability, along with situation templates, provides the basis for critical node or high-value target analysis. Estimated times between NAI are derived by determining effects of terrain and normal seasonal conditions on doctrinal rates of advance, derived from steps three and four of the IPB process. The event template and event analysis matrix allow initiation of precise collection requirements and best use of limited collection assets against the vast array of potential targets on the future battlefield. Such information provides the basis for constructing decision support templates.

Event and decision support templates, the most important products of the IPB process, represent a reduction of all analysis and template construction tasks to an intelligence estimate in graphic form of the who, what, where, when, and threat strength the commander faces.

DPs represent areas chosen from TAI because of time and distance factors. If the commander has not made a decision before threat forces reach or pass a DP, a set of options that had existed may be negated. For example, DP 1 may be related to an option to force the threat to use mobility corridor ALPHA by blowing the bridge at TAI 3 before the threat reaches the NAI 6 junction. If the force moves too far toward mobility corridor BRAVO before the bridge is blown, the threat may decide to use that route anyway and attempt a river-crossing operation.

The commander must decide to blow the bridge at TAI 3 by the time the threat reaches DP 3 or there may not be time to destroy it. DPs 4, 5, and 6 represent points equating to predetermined times from the friendly position based on analysis done for the events analysis matrix. The commander must make a decision by the time any of these points are reached by threat forces if he is to maneuver his troops effectively.

Upon completion of the decision support template, the brigade S2 will develop his collection plan (see Figure 4-14). The S3 also uses these products for recommending initial friendly deployment, task organization, and subsequent redirection of assets for both the close-in battle and the deep fight. Targeting and target development data are provided to FS systems for immediate attack and interdiction.


Counteraction. For the brigade to succeed, it must counteract the threat initiative. Security, intelligent use of terrain, flexibility of defensive operations, and timely resumption of offensive actions are the keys to a successful defense. The crux of the defensive problem for the brigade is to gain time. Time is needed to ensure a synchronized, effective defense. The commander organizes his defensive effort based on METT-T analysis and the higher commander's concept. He decides where to concentrate his effort and how to economize his forces. He assigns missions, and allocates forces, fires, other support, and service support resources to fight a combined-arms battle.

The commander decides where to set up his main effort. A defense in the forward part of the sector requires early commitment of the main defensive effort. This is done by an initial forward deployment of forces or by counterattacks well forward in the MBA. Defense in depth may be selected when missions are less restrictive, defensive sectors are deep, and key terrain is deep in the sector. Normally, a wider sector can be defended by division and corps employing a defense in depth. A defense in depth requires elements in the CFA and forward in the MBA to identify, define, and control the depth of the threat main effort. The flanks of the main effort are identified, and counterattacks are used to isolate and destroy threat forces in the MBA. The disposition of threat forces is the major consideration in selecting the form of defense.

In general, a forward defense with the main effort in the forward area of the MBA is favored when--

    • The best defensive positions are located along the FEBA.
    • Strong natural obstacles are located near the FEBA.
    • The defensive sector is of limited depth.
    • There is limited concealment to the rear.
    • Retention of terrain in the forward area is dictated by the higher commander's concept of the operation.

A defense in depth of the MBA is favored when--

    • The mission allows the commander to fight over the depth of the battlefield.
    • The terrain does not favor a defense well forward and there is better defensible terrain deeper in the sector.
    • Significant depth is available.
    • There is limited cover and concealment on or near the FEBA.
    • Nuclear weapons may be used.

A variety of tactics, techniques, or procedures may be used by brigades in the defense. At one end of the continuum is an absolutely static defense oriented completely on terrain retention, which depends on the use of firepower from fixed positions to deny terrain. At the other end is a dynamic defense focused on the threat, which depends on maneuver to disrupt and destroy the attacking force. Brigade operations combine the static element to control, stop, or canalize the attacker, and the dynamic element to strike and defeat the threat forces.

Whatever techniques of defense are chosen, the scheme makes use of maneuver and offensive tactics. When the threat has committed his forces, the defender's chief advantages are his abilities to seize the initiative and counterattack over familiar ground (protected by his own positions) to destroy a halted, disorganized threat. The deep battle, the close-in battle, and the rear battle are planned as complementary actions that support a unified battle plan.

Organization. Brigade commanders organize the battlefield for defense by assigning either sectors or BPs to subordinate battalions or task forces.

Sectors give the battalion task forces freedom to maneuver and decentralize fire planning. They allow the task force commander to distribute his teams to suit the terrain and plan a battle that integrates direct and indirect fires. In assigning sectors to the forward battalions, the brigade commander ensures that the defensive plans of each of the battalions are compatible, and that brigade control measures, such as coordination points and PLs, are sufficient for flank coordination. If the battalions prepare their defensive plans in isolation, an assailable flank between battalions could easily occur.

TIP: The brigade commander must make sure the coordination between the two battalions is tight. To do this during the planning phase, the commander can take the two subordinate commanders to a vantage point in the MBA to rehearse the battle and plan coordination between their units. This will assist in the formation of common control measures for the two battalions. One example of restrictive boundary coordination between the two battalions is to have a combat vehicle on each side of the boundary collocate on the coordination point. These vehicles are fender-to-fender, with the vehicle commanders passing information to each other to maintain the flow of information between the two battalions. This creates a channel of communication that supplements the battalion commander cross-talk, and notifies each commander when the flank unit is being moved. Despite the restrictiveness of this method, it provides the most positive coordination of the boundary.

BPs are used when the brigade commander wishes to control maneuvering and positioning of his task forces. They are also used when it is necessary to concentrate task forces rapidly. When the brigade commander establishes BPs, he controls maneuver outside those BPs. He prescribes primary directions of fire by the orientation of the position, and is responsible for fire and maneuver planning between positions of different battalions. If he assigns a BP and a sector, he is giving the task force commander specific guidance on initial positioning of forces (see Figure 4-15).

A strongpoint is a heavily fortified BP tied to the natural and reinforcing obstacle to create an anchor for the defense (see Figure 4-16). It is reduced only by a threat infantry deliberate attack. A strongpoint is located on a terrain feature critical to the defense or used to block a bottleneck formed by terrain obstacles. Strongpoints in small urban areas, astride routes, or along AAs may halt a superior threat force for a considerable time. To be most effective, the strongpoint should be a surprise to the threat. It causes congestion and limits the threat force's maneuver. It is best used to set up a counterattack. Strongpoints must be well camouflaged and protected.

A strongpoint is not routinely established. It is established only after the commander determines that a strongpoint is absolutely necessary to slow the threat or to prevent a penetration of his defensive system. The decision to do so must be carefully weighed, and must consider the following factors:

    • A minimally effective strongpoint requires one day's effort from an engineer organization the size of the defending force.
    • The force that establishes the strongpoint may become isolated or lost.
    • The force that establishes the strongpoint loses its freedom to maneuver outside the strongpoint.
    • The force that establishes the strongpoint must be given sufficient time to build the position-the more time the better.
    • The strongpoint must be on terrain that is defendable for 360 degrees.

AAs or BPs are established for reserve forces. An AA is used for the reserve if they are assigned a counterattack mission without the possibility of having to defend their AAs. BPs are designated if the reserve may defend in depth.

Operations control measures, such as PLs, boundaries, contact points and passage points, checkpoints, direction of attack arrows, and objectives combine with fire control measures to provide a means of controlling the battle. The commander's concept or Paragraph 3 of the OPORD describes the purpose of the control measures.

The commander's tactical scheme must include plans for deep, close, and rear operations. The objective of the defense is to halt the threat, seize the initiative, and go to the offensive. The commander's tactical scheme must include plans to counterattack against the threat rear or flank whenever possible. The brigade reserve is the key to the execution of offensive operations.

The reserve.

The reserve and the brigade commander. The brigade commander makes fundamental decisions concerning the size, composition, and mission of the reserve. Secondary purposes of the reserve are to--

    • Reinforce the defense of committed forces.
    • Contain threat forces that have penetrated.
    • React to rear-area threats.
    • Relieve depleted units and provide for continuous operations.

In difficult terrain lacking routes for movement, smaller reserve units may be positioned in the brigade areas where they can react quickly to the local battle. Covered lateral and forward high-speed deployment routes should be available. In more open terrain, the brigade may have a battalion in reserve in considerable depth. The threat tactical nuclear and air interdiction potential is considered when units are positioned in the rear.

In addition to designating reserve forces, the commander prepares to reconstitute a reserve once the reserve is committed. Forces most easily designated are the reserves of subordinate units. If the commander is able to establish a reserve, then the subordinate commanders are free to use all their forces as they see fit. Without a brigade reserve, the task force commanders need to maintain local reserves.

The brigade commander uses the DPs and the NAIs throughout the sector to orient his reserve and to trigger decisions on its commitment. Threat arrival in such NAIs is tied to the time operations are conducted to support the reserve's commitment. TAIs are also identified for deep attack in support of reserve operations.

The reserve and offensive action (see Figure 4-17). In planning offensive actions of the reserve, the commander considers the threat situation and estimates the time and distance factors relating to following threat echelons. Then he determines which of his units will attack, where they will be after the attack, and what interdiction is necessary to isolate the threat. Attacking units avoid threat strength. The most effective attacks seize strong positions that permit the attacking force to deliver fire on an exposed threat's flanks and rear. If the force is to stay and defend against another threat echelon, it must gain good defensive positions before folowing threat echelons can interfere.

Although he plans for the attack in the overall defensive planning, the commander realizes it is unlikely that the action will correspond exactly to prepared attack plans. As the situation develops, the commander answers these basic questions--

    • Is an attack feasible, or should the reserve be employed to contain threat success?
    • When and where should the attack be executed?
    • In the event of penetrations, which should be attacked and which should be blocked or contained?
    • Is the window of opportunity large enough to complete the counterattack prior to closure of the next threat echelon?

When attacking, the commander launches with all available resources necessary to ensure success. The reserve effort becomes the main effort. He avoids piecemeal commitment of the reserve. The commander does not attack or counterattack as an automatic reaction to a threat penetration nor does he commit the reserve solely because the threat has reached a certain PL or area. When possible, the attack is launched when the threat presents his flank or rear, when he has become overextended, or when his momentum dissipates.

The counterattack plan includes the mission, to include a brief statement of the mission assigned by the higher headquarters and the intent of the higher headquarters; the assumptions, to include the size and shape of the assumed penetration or threat formation; the strength and composition of the threat force; and the status of forces in the MBA. Other factors include the capability to contain the threat, deep battle assets available to support the attack, the strength and responsiveness of the reserve at the time of the attack execution, the availability and capabilities of nuclear and chemical munitions, and other means.

The brigade prepares counterattack plans and then provides sufficient time to the battalion headquarters to plan. If possible, plans are distributed with the basic defense plans. Detailed counterattack planning is conducted by reserve force commanders and includes reconnaissance, selection of multiple routes, determination of time and space factors, rehearsals, coordination with elements in the forward defending forces, and fire planning. Based on rehearsals, the commander makes specific adjustments.

The reserve and the spoiling attack. At times, reserves are employed in a spoiling attack to throw the threat preparations for the attack off stride. The following basic considerations affect the use of the spoiling attack:

    • The spoiling attack delays, disrupts, and destroys the threat's capability to launch his attack.
    • The objective of the attack is to destroy threat personnel and equipment, not to secure terrain and other physical objectives.
    • Commanders may want to limit the size of the force used in any spoiling attack.
    • Spoiling attacks are not conducted if the loss or destruction of the force jeopardizes the ability of the command to accomplish its defensive mission.
    • The mobility of the force available for the spoiling attack should be equal to or exceed that of the threat force.
    • Attack by artillery or air of threat reinforcements are necessary to ensure the success of the attack.

Commanders coordinate plans for counterattacks and spoiling attacks using the attack techniques discussed in Chapter 3. The spoiling attack has many of the characteristics of reconnaissance-in-force operations.

Reinforcing with the reserve. In some situations, the brigade commander determines that he cannot counterattack. He uses resources to contain or delay the threat to gain time for employment of the reserve of the higher echelon.

The brigade commander and staff consider how reinforcing battalions and companies will be integrated into the defensive scheme, the placement of BPs, the routes they will use, and the C2 arrangements. The positioning and movement of reinforcements is speeded by designating routes and providing traffic control personnel and guides at contact points to lead and brief them on the situation. Scouts, MPs, and divisional cavalry units can provide traffic control.

Fire Support

The maneuver commander integrates CS assets to maximize combat power. To focus combat power, the commander identifies the brigade main effort. Designating the main effort links subordinate commander's actions to provide cohesion and synchronization. As he develops his battle plan, he must visualize how he will synchronize his field artillery and other CS assets at the decisive time and place on the battlefield. Fires should be planned to break up threat formations, exploit known defiles, and augment the direct fires of the brigade. Indirect fires must be combined with the brigade's obstacle plan to maximize its effect. Stay-behind patrols positioned to observe NAI/TAI/DPs should also have the capability to adjust indirect fire. Indirect fires must also be planned along flank AAs as a preventive measure. FASCAM employment should be weighed against time, available tubes, and relative target effect. All BPs should be targeted and FPFs plotted as appropriate.

Synchronization of direct and indirect fires with obstacles multiplies effects on the threat. An obstacle is an excellent location for preplanning artillery fires. The artillery will contribute to the threat's difficulties in attacking through the obstacle and make it more effective.

Artillery fires can assist in forcing a desired response if they support the obstacle plan by attacking any threat action. If the obstacle has a disrupt function designed to interrupt the threat's time table on a particular route, artillery fires can add to the difficulty of breaching. If the obstacle belt is turning, indirect fires are employed to ensure they drive in the desired direction. When a moving threat force encounters an obstacle, the locations where the force stacks up should be identified and targeted. Vehicles passing through a breached lane are not necessarily a good target for indirect fires, as Soviet-style doctrine calls for a large number of widely dispersed lanes to allow the force to pass through deployed. During this time, the artillery must be prepared for a large counterbattery effort.

Copperhead is a limited resource with significant first-round-hit capability. As such, its targets must be carefully selected to cause the most damage to the threat. One use is to target breaching assets. This would include the IMR armored counterobstacle vehicle, the BTR-50 countermine vehicle, the MTU-20 AVLB, and any tank equipped with rollers, plows, or a blade. As these assets are in limited supply, killing them has long-term effects on his attack. Using Copperhead against vehicles passing through a breached obstacle also multiplies its effects. The vehicle is limited in its maneuverability, therefore, is more vulnerable, and its destruction can block the lane.

Artillery-delivered FASCAM, when used at the critical point and time, is another limited resource with high payoff. Unfortunately, FASCAM requires a large number of artillery tubes and rounds of ammunition to emplace when the commander will have a high number of tire missions. However FASCAM is employed, the commander must weigh the factors that limit its delivery speed against the pace of the threat actions.

The fire plan and obstacle plan must be integrated from the very beginning. For the plans to work, the FISTs must understand the commander's intent, the obstacle plan concept, the integration of all arms, and their specific roles. Figures 4-18 through 4-20 illustrate a brigade FS plan with its execution matrix.

Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability

Brigades get broad guidance from higher headquarter regarding employment of obstacles.

Obstacle zones. The division commander designates obstacle zones where lower echelons employ obstacles. Tactical obstacles are allowed within the designated zones, which allows unrestricted division maneuver outside of the zones.

Specific obstacles. The division commander specifies certain high priority obstacles for preparation and execution. These obstacles are of great importance to likely follow-on maneuver. Specified obstacles receive the highest priority by the designated brigade.

Obstacle-fee zones. The division commander specifies such zones to allow maneuver without restrictions. This occurs on a division counterattack route or within a counterattack objective.

Using FASCAM to close a breach through an obstacle can be done after the lanes are opened, making the obstacle more effective and requiring mom effort to breach. FASCAM also can be used to reinforce a critical obstacle that failed to perform its intended purpose (for example, a blocking obstacle that was overrun), or that was not able to be completed in time. It car be critical as a contact-breaking obstacle to allow a force to evacuate a BP. It also can be used to thicken an obstacle system when attack is imminent and threat intentions have been determined.

Brigade Guidance to Subordinate Units

Task forces assigned BPs or strongpoints will be allocated obstacle belts by the brigade. If the brigade assigns a sector to subordinate task forms, the only obstacle control measure that is appropriate for the brigade is an obstacle-free zone. Obstacle belt functions, symbols, and lethality are shown in Figure 4-21.

Turning belts. A turning belt encourages the attacker to move in a direction established by the defender, but appears to support the attacker's plan. It blocks the attacker's original line of march. Turning belts may contain a mixture of turning, fixing, and blocking obstacles to accomplish the task. Turning belts at threat DPs influence his decision. They are used to encourage threat penetration at a location selected by the defender. This is done either to set up the threat attacker for defeat in an EA or to deflect him away from critical terrain. Turning belts also can gradually turn the attacker away from his objective, confusing his plan and breaking his timing.

Disruption belts. A disruption belt is used to attack the threat commander's timetable. Its primary employment is against a force moving in column along high-speed routes to force a time-consuming bypass or breaching operation. A disruption belt is employed against maneuver to delay a moving force for at least 30 minutes. Disruption belts are used in the CFA to slow the arrival of initial forces, require early employment of breaching assets, and provide time delay between attacking echelons. In the MBA, they attack threat C2 by destroying threat timetables and unit synchronization. To provide the required delay to disrupt maneuver timetables, the minimal disruption belt contains obstacles cutting each high-speed route in three places. These obstacles should be located so that a single bypass does not pass more than one obstacle, thus requiring three separate bypasses or breaches. Bypasses should be difficult. Ideally, obstacles should be spaced so that the head of the bypassing force strikes the subsequent obstacle while the tail is still on the bypass of the previous obstacle. The purpose of this is to cause telescoping of the column and add to control difficulties. This will occur if the next obstacle is approximately 2 kilometers beyond the point when the bypass rejoins the route. An exception to this technique is a single obstacle providing the necessary breaching or bypass delay, such as the destruction of a major bridge with lengthy bypass.

Disruption belts are improved by adding additional point obstacles on the high-speed routes, obstacles on the most likely bypasses, and killer obstacles to secondary, parallel routes normally used by threat reconnaissance elements. These usually consist of point minefields designed to destroy armored reconnaissance vehicles, and include Claymore mines placed 8 to 10 feet off the ground to kill vehicle commanders and force survivors to button up.

Fixing belts. A fixing belt is used to attack the threat commander's ability to control his formation, execute battle drills, and rapidly move to close with defenders. For a fixing belt to accomplish its purpose, the attacking unit one level down must respond to an obstacle twice. This means that for a battalion to attack, the company must respond. The worst-case situation would be for the attacker to be deployed into platoon columns, with companies deployed on line, this allows rapid movement and is the optimum breaching formation. To cause companies to respond, the fixing obstacles must cover about 50 percent of the AA; if less, two of the three platoon columns in a deployed company would miss the obstacle, and the company would bypass.

Fixing obstacles are used in conjunction with direct AT fires to kill attacking formations. They are designed within EAs, and are very closely integrated with fires.

In addition to direct-fire coverage, major considerations in siting fining belts is causing sufficient lateral movement to generate good flank and rear shots against the threat. The belt should be fairly deep-on the order of 2 kilometers. This ensures that the part of the formation that has not encountered an obstacle will appear to have bypassed successfully. The direct-fire system will appear as a nuisance for any single engagement. The direct-fire systems should engage only those vehicles that have slowed and turned because of the obstacles, allowing unhindered movement of those that have not. This will kill the formation from the rear, allow shots against the easier targets, and disguise just what is happening.

Blocking belts. A blocking belt prevents the threat from penetrating the defense with its formation. This is the most dense obstacle system, and is exceptionally well integrated into covering fires. The obstacles are complete with counterbreach devices. They are tied into natural obstacles so that bypassing will take longer than breaching. Blocking belts are employed to limit penetrations or to cover terrain that must be retained. Overwatching fires are the primary consideration in siting blocking obstacles within the belt. Due to the effort necessary to construct them, they are usually sited in choke points or constrictions in the attacker's AA.

Blocking belts are designed to require the attacking formation one level down to respond to the obstacle several times. It also requires the attacker to respond enough to expend all of his breaching devices before he inches the last band of obstacles. This requires four encounters for a regiment or three encounters for a battalion.

Directed obstacles. The brigade commander will frequently single out certain key obstacles, and designate them for preparation and/or execution. These obstacles are typically bridges across important MSRs, artillery-delivered FASCAM minefield, or road craters that would seal off an avenue. The brigade commander also designates the emplacing and overwatching units for division-specific obstacles.

Planning factors. When the brigade plan is developed it is necessary to estimate the effort required to support each task to task organize the engineers and allocate resources. Obstacles are normally planned and sited at task force level. It is possible to develop an estimate based on the planned obstacle belts, their functions, and the size of the AAs. Production planning factors convert this estimate into resource requirements. Obstacle belt planning factors are--

    • 1,064 AT mines per 1 kilometer minefield.
    • 18 blade hours per day.
    • 12 man hour workday; 20 percent added for travel.
    • Platoon and blade teams are the basic planning units. ACEs, dozers, CEVs, and bucket loaders are blade (+/-) equivalents.

Multiply the AA width by the appropriate factor to determine the total length of the required linear obstacle.

Since a disruption belt requires three obstacles cutting each high-speed route, estimating the required effort consists of counting the number of high-speed routes passing through the belt. The effort required for turning, fixing, or blocking belts is calculated based on the width required by threat formations.

A fixing belt requires the threat force using the AA to respond to obstacles twice. The planning factor is to use the width of the maneuver space of the avenue. Obstacle size planning factors are--

    • Disrupt-three point obstacles within 2 kilometers on each high-speed route or 0.5 x width of avenue.
    • Fix-1.0 x width of avenue.
    • Turn-1.2 x width of avenue.
    • Block-2.4 x width of avenue.
NOTE: If time and resources permit, improvement of an obstacle belt requires about 50 percent additional effort.

Air Defense

The defensive air defense planning considerations are described below.

Command and control. In defensive operations, air defense assets are positioned to achieve both mass and gun missile mix. Normally, the priority of protection will begin with the C2 facilities. That is because these are generally fixed sites with high electronic signatures, which makes them susceptible to identification and targeting by threat aircraft. Therefore, the brigade air defense representative will examine the air AAs toward the C2 facilities and position both guns and missiles in a manner that disallows the that aircraft to reach the target.

Logistical elements. The BSA, MSRs, and UMCPs are fixed facilities and are easily identifiable from the air. Although passive air defense measures will help prevent detection, threat air attack is a certainty. As a result, route and point security missions require air defense units to locate along the MSR and in positions to protect fixed locations. The air defense assets will be placed in an area defense mode with the thickest part of the defense around these positions.

Fixed firepower. Because of the proximity of BPs and strongpoints to the threat, ADA assets guarding them are exposed to increased threat fire. ADA assets that protect combat forces, therefore, must be placed under armor, which is the placement of the ADA gunner in any armored vehicle. The air defense responsibility may also be the greatest, since ADA units on the FEBA will be called on to engage threat aircraft providing CAS to the aggressors and threat aircraft attempting to penetrate our defenses en route to a deep target.

Reserve forces. The brigade reserve is a stationary hidden force; it is especially vulnerable once discovered. As a moving force, it is readily observable from the air. The brigade commander will want to safeguard his reserve, and the location of the reserve, as it is a high priority of the commander. Air defense assets must be positioned to protect the force whether it is stationary or moving.

Choke points and bridges along MSRs. CSS assets must be able to move to the combat units. If the threat is able to disrupt this support, it will affect the defense. The destruction of key bridges or closing of choke points will interrupt the CSS flow. As a result, the protection of these positions is essential to the supportability of the operation. Air defense assets must be located where they can protect these vital locations from air interdiction.

Combat Service Support

The S4 and the FSB commander must understand the brigade commander's tactical intent so that service support priorities can be established and logistical operations planned to ensure the supportability of the operation. Real estate management of the BSA and plans to conduct operations against Levels I and II rear area threat must be incorporated into the plan. The following considerations and operational techniques improve the CSS provided to a defending unit:

  • Limited amounts of ATP-stocked ammunition (25 percent of basic load) are pre-positioned in the MBA on centrally located positions.
  • Push-packages of certain critical items (ammunition, POL, selected repair parts, barrier materials, medical supplies, and NBC supplies) are dispatched from rear areas (division support areas to brigade support areas to unit trains) on a scheduled basis so that interruptions in communications do not disrupt the flow of supplies.
  • Resupply during periods of limited visibility reduces chances of threat interference. Resupply vehicles infiltrate forward to reduce chances of detection.
  • CSS units are echeloned in depth throughout the defensive area. When a forward CSS unit is required to displace to the rear, another unit picks up the workload until the displacing unit is again operational.
  • Maintenance contact teams are employed and dispatched as far forward as possible to cut down on the requirement to evacuate equipment. The thrust of the maintenance effort is to fix as far forward as possible.
  • Different types of maintenance contact teams (vehicle, armament, missile) are consolidated to use the available vehicles.

Command and control

After completing the estimate of the situation, the brigade commander announces his decision and concept of the operation to key members of the staff. The concept is in enough detail for his staff to understand how he intends to conduct the battle. Staff preparation of plans and orders is based on the commander's concept. Subordinates are given maximum possible time to prepare since the effectiveness of the defense depends on time-consuming tasks, such as reconnaissance, fire planning, preparation of positions, installation of obstacles, positioning of supplies, and improvement of routes. WOs and subsequent oral instructions are used to get the word out. Commanders do not wait for the complete plan to begin preparations.



The brigade commander prepares by war-gaming his plan with the S2 to ensure sure he has identified the probable courses of action open to the threat. The commander must identify the impending threat action and respond before it transpires. The commander will check that each of the NAIs/TAIs/DPs are covered. The commander will also check his time-distance analysis as it relates to the decision support template to ensure that his reserves will respond when and where they are needed.


The object of a successful defense is to know what the threat will do before it does it. The maneuver commanders will explain who is observing the NAIs/TAIs/DPs; who they will call upon sighting the threat; and the specific EEI for which they should be looking. The commander will decide the course of action appropriate for the situation. The maneuver commanders must demonstrate their flexibility in adapting to a rapidly changing situation.

The commander will rehearse the synchronization of his combat multipliers with the maneuver. While each asset will be addressed separately in subsequent paragraphs, the intent of the brigade commander should be to practice the controlling of these assets as a single activity. During this rehearsal, conflicts about terrain, air space, control, and execution may arise among organizations. To avoid confusion on the battlefield, the commander must settle the conflicts between his subordinate elements.

Fire Support

There are two levels of rehearsals that occur with FS. First, the FS plan must be checked to ensure it is completely integrated with the maneuver plan. Second, the artillery practices the FS plan to ensure it comprehends the plan and can use the primary and alternate communication nets, alternative attack systems used for specified targets, and observer/weapon system positions. The rehearsal should improve the responsiveness of the fires and the overall synchronization of the brigade battle.

Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability

During the rehearsal, the brigade commander checks the completion times of the obstacle belts. If there is a reserve target that requires execution, he ensures sure the responsible party understands the conditions for execution. He verifies the positioning of the maneuver forces adequately covers the obstacle by direct fire or they are observable and covered by indirect fire. The obstacle plan must be completely integrated with the FS plan. An obstacle belt quality control must be established to ensure adjacent obstacle belts compliment each other and the scheme of maneuver.

Air Defense

The air defense plan will be checked during the rehearsal to ensure that the positions of ADA assets do not interfere with other operations, and that they are along likely threat air AAs.

Combat Service Support

CSS rehearsal is integrated into the maneuver rehearsal to verify that routes for support do not cross or conflict with routes used by reserve forces or other maneuver elements. Prestocks of ammunition should be checked against the unit's ability to guard them. The commander should also check that alternate MSRs are adequate to accommodate contingency plans, and that changing MSRs can be accomplished effectively.

Command and Signal

The commander ensures that the obstacles, FS, direct fire, counterattack, and other combat multipliers at his disposal are completely integrated. The only effective technique is to have representatives of each of these elements simultaneously rehearse the plan. After issuing the order and receiving backbriefs from each of the leaders, the commander verifies his plan can be executed with minimal guidance.



As the threat force begins its attack, it maneuvers through either NAI 1 or NAI 2. If the threat attacks through NAI 1, the commander observes DP 1 to determine the actual direction of attack. If the threat attacks through NAI 2 (DP 2), the threat will arrive at TAI 1 in 17 minutes. The commander decides whether or not to engage the threat; if so, he synchronizes fires at TAI 1 to land 17 minutes after the threat crosses NAI 2. The same procedure would follow for NAI 1, except that once the threat reaches DP 1, the commander will know whether to engage in TAI 1 or TAI 2.

Following the threat engagement in TAI 1, the threat is observed moving through NAI 3 (DP 3). The commander must decide whether to commit the reserve to counterattack. This decision is based on the size of force at NAI 3. If the threat force is small, the reserve is not required. If the force is large, a counterattack may be necessary. Remember, it takes 10 minutes for the counterattack force to arrive in position and 13 minutes for the threat to travel from NAI 3 to TAI 4. The commander must decide in 3 minutes or the synchronization of the counterattack with the direct and indirect fire of the engagement area is lost. The same is true for NAI 4 and TAI 4. In this case, the reserve occupies a blocking position to prevent further threat penetration.

The S2 will constantly update the situation template, and if appropriate, the decision support template. Synchronization of the defense is the proper integration of the decision support template with the maneuver plan (see Figure 4-22).

NOTE: Although NAIs are not doctrinally placed on the decision support template, they are usually combined with TAIs and DPs on a task force and brigade decision support template. This maintains simplicity and avoids congestion with multiple overlays. Refer to FM 34-130 for doctrinal application of NAIs, TAIs, and DPs.


Brigades adjust their broad initial plans based on information from the covering force battle and from stay-behind patrols. The actual span for conducting the defense can extend from a series of local actions to a massive counterattack, depending on the capabilities of the brigade and the factors of METT-T. This may be accomplished through an economy-of-force mission tied directly to restrictive terrain, as well as a completely involved major defensive battle. A significant obstacle in the MBA, such as a river, favors a terrain-oriented defense planned to destroy threat forces caught astride or against the obstacle. Reserves are used to destroy threat forces that have crossed the obstacle. Speed of the counterattack is essential to destroy isolated forces before they can be reinforced. A defense may also be structured around static, mutually supporting positions deployed in depth throughout the MBA. Its effectiveness may be enhanced by holding out a large mobile reserve and committing fewer elements to the initial MBA defense. The primary function of committed elements in this defense is to slow the attack. Mobile units then strike exposed threat forces and engage those that have penetrated from static positions.

Regardless of the concept, the brigade defends against the threat with strong combined arms task forces and battalions. Figure 4-23 illustrates the execution of a brigade defensive plan.

Sample execution of a brigade defensive plan. As the threat advances through NAIs 1 and 2, the stay-behind patrols report the movement. The brigade reserve target (bridge) is executed to slow the threat and piecemeal his entrance into TAI 1. The brigade commander will engage the threat with indirect fires, and if possible, BAI on the second echelon which should be traveling in column.

As the threat enters the TAI 1 area, company-size elements fire, augmented with indirect fires, to force the threat away from high ground and onto the main AA. The threat arriving at the obstacle is the event initiator for the direct tires of TFs 2-11 and 2-15, as well as a point for indirect-fire synchronization. This breaks the formation and provides flank shots. This should be the first major EA, as the two task forces orient their fires on the obstacle and the two forward companies fire in depth taking advantage of threat congestion. Knowing the time-distance factor from NAI 2 to TAI 1 enables the commander to have the artillery land at the same time the threat strikes the obstacle.

The fixing obstacle is the DP for the execution of the counterattack. It takes the threat a little longer to reach the blocking obstacle than for the reserve to reach the counterattack-by-fire position. The decision to commit the reserve is based on threat success. Again, the commander knows how long it takes the threat to travel from DP 3 to TAI 3, and he synchronizes his indirect fires and other combat multipliers accordingly. The objective is to strike simultaneously as the threat is massed at TAI 3 and just encountering the blocking obstacle; this should hit the threat at his moment of indecision. Meanwhile, forward elements will continue to take advantage of the threat's congestion and possible fragmentation at the formation-fixing obstacle.

Actions in the TF 2-10 sector are accomplished in the same manner, but at the task force level. Brigade headquarters monitors the battle in the 2-10 sector to ensure it has the support needed to defeat the threat.

The reserve must be able to execute three plans:

  • Plan 1. Remain in position and defeat the threat as it attempts to breach the blocking obstacle.
  • Plan 2. Move along Axis Blue to BP 28 and destroy the threat as it tries to penetrate the TF 2-10 sector.
  • Plan 3. Move along his Red to BP 54 to counterattack by fire the threat massed in EA Zulu.

The brigade commander must know how much time the reserve needs to execute each mission. It is integrated with direct-and indirect-fire plans, as well as other available brigade combat multipliers.

Fire Support

Time-distance analysis along the threat AA figured against the time of flight determines when indirect fires are initiated. Figure 4-24 illustrates fires engage the threat in TAI 1, then channel it away from high ground toward the fixing obstacle. Fires strengthen the effect of obstacles and augment direct fires on the massed threat behind the obstacle. FPFs protect the forward companies from being overrun by the threat. Targets of opportunity occur, and TIRs or other navigational aids are plotted by the artillery to assist expediency.

Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability

The execution of the barrier plan in this example addresses each type of obstacle belt discussed in this chapter--

  • Disruption-bridge (# 1005).
  • Fixing-belt (# 1023).
  • Turning-belt (# 1027).
  • Blocking-belt (# 1046, #1029, #1048).

In Figure 4-25, the bridge is a brigade reserve target. The brigade commander wanted to ensure covering force elements had a route for the rearward passage of lines. The brigade plan necessitated keeping the bridge intact until the covering force cleared. The actual responsibility for the destruction would fall to a task force element.

The execution of the disruption target slowed the threat force as they conducted a hasty water crossing. As the threat massed on the north side, they were engaged by indirect fire and possible CAS or army aviation. A fixing obstacle that allowed portions of the force to continue unemployed while stopping other columns caused confusion. The C2 of the lead battalion was cut lengthwise, thus loosing mass and piecemealing into the next EA. The threat is prevented from moving east by a turning belt. This forces the threat from the high ground, back into the EA, while exposing their flanks. As the threat fights through the EA attempting to avoid prepared defensive positions, they are stopped by a blocking obstacle. This tack of movement, combined with the increased flank fire of the counterattack, completes the destruction of the threat.

Air Defense

The air defense plan, like all CS plans, must be completely integrated into the brigade defense. During the conduct of the defense, the air defense early warning net will forewarn the brigade of impending air attack. ADA assets will aggressively engage threat aircraft before they have the ability to discharge ordnance. The ADA assets must be prepared to engage helicopters in support of the threat ground maneuver.

Combat Service Support

The CSS plan will be executed as planned, where ammunition is pushed forward to the battalions in contact. Evacuation of wounded and destroyed equipment will be a priority, therefore, movement along the MSR must remain unimpeded. The brigade clearing station will be positioned as close as possible to the FEBA, but outside of the expected artillery range and where civilian facilities may be used to advantage. Routes close to the LD/LC must be carefully selected to avoid observation from threat-held terrain.

Command and Control

The brigade commander will control the battle from a vantage point that allows him to observe the action. He must take care that he does not interfere with the operations of the battalion in whose area he may be. It will be his responsibility to direct the combat multipliers so that the brigade defense achieves the synchronous effect sought in defensive operations. Most important, it will be his assessment of the situation and decision that will determine the employment of the brigade reserve. This is probably one of the most crucial aspects of the defense. If the reserve is committed late, the main defensive positions may be lost; if it is committed too early, surprise is lost, which allows the threat to respond to the maneuver. However, if the reserve executes accurately and effectively, the damage to the threat will be devastating. The brigade commander must direct all the combat forces at his disposal in one unified operation. He must listen to the needs of his subordinate commanders and demand assistance from higher headquarters when needed, but throughout the operation he must keep everyone informed. His decisions must be anticipatory and his orders terse. Above all, the brigade commander must aggressively seize the initiative from the threat, dispatching him with ruthless precision.


Threat Offensive Doctrine

How the Threat Attacks

A regiment attacking in the first echelon of a division normally will have the mission to penetrate, destroy, or neutralize forward strongpoints of defending enemy battalions, to continue the attack to an enemy battalion rear area, and to be prepared to continue the attack into enemy brigade and division rear areas (see Figure 4-26).

The actual zone of attack can extend born 3 to 8 kilometers, although the typical attack frontage for a regiment is 4 to 5 kilometers. The distance between echelons may extend from 5 to 15 kilometers, depending on the situation.

A regimental attack from the march will generally follow the sequence discussed below:

  • First, artillery and air will prepare the defender's position from the initiation of the attack until the arrival of the assault forces at their respective objectives. The duration of the preparation could extend to 50 minutes.
  • Second, the forward movement of the regiment from its position in the AA will be simultaneous with the preparation of the enemy positions. This will disguise the movement from the observation and hearing of the defender, and will mask the point of attack or main effort.
  • Third, the regiment will break into battalion columns 8 to 12 kilometers from the enemy defensive positions, company columns 4 to 6 kilometers, platoon columns 1 to 4 kilometers; and battle formation 300 to 1,000 meters.

Conduct of the Motorized Rifle Regiment Attack

The following scenario traces the actions of an MRR from the issuance of the OPORD to the final assault (see Figure 4-27).

Issuance of the Regimental Commander's Order

At 1000 hours, 17 August, the regimental commander issues his order while located in the field AA. Friendly elements (fifteenth MRR) have halted the enemy advance, and up to a mechanized infantry battalion is defending in the sector assigned to the first MRR. The first MRR is to move from its AA, which is about 30 kilometers from the LC, and attack from the march with two reinforced battalions in first echelon. The tentative H-Hour is 0400 hours, 18 August. The third MRB is in second echelon.

First echelon battalion commanders plot their work maps.

First MRR battalion commander determines--

  • Initial rate of advance of approximately 1.5 kilometers per hour (battalion immediate objective to be seized by H +1).
  • Tentative combat formation with two companies in first echelon, based on attack frontages of approximately 1.5 kilometers.

Preparation of the commander's work map, evaluation of the situation, and the decision are emphasized. These serve as a foundation for all subsequent coordination, such as FS and second-echelon commitment (see Figure 4-28). Time is the overriding consideration in planning.

NOTE: Symbol depicts enemy (US) defensive position.

Reconnaissance and Development of the Target List

At 1230 hours, 17 August, the regimental commander and subordinates assemble in the vicinity of the FEBA to perform the commander's reconnaissance. The information from this reconnaissance will be supplemented by an artillery reconnaissance and target data from units in contact and higher headquarters. The regimental artillery officer develops a map plot of enemy targets and a target list. (Only data for the first MRB's sector to a depth of 3 kilometers is shown.)

The Soviet-style armies believe that reconnaissance is a key factor in refining the preliminary decision, developing the fire plan to include AT suppression, and breaching the enemy defenses. Reconnaissance is complicated by the fact that enemy targets displace and new ones appear. The development of the FS plan is made more difficult (see Figure 4-29).

Development of the Artillery Fire Plan

The commander determines that the attack is preceded by an artillery preparation consisting of three strikes commencing at H-40. The first artillery battalion supports the first MRB making the attack. The concept for this DS artillery battalion is as follows

  • A preparation with three fire assaults of 13, 10, and 12 minutes respectively followed by an 8-minute strike, which overlaps H-Hour.
  • Three successive fire concentrations (PSO) on Lines WOLF, RAT, AND TIGER. These lines equate to strongpoints in the defense and are on-call supporting fires.
  • Concentrated fire on call against active targets in depth.
  • Barrage fire on call against enemy counterattacks.

Based on an ammunition allocation of 1.9 units of fire for the first day, with 1.1 units for the preparation, the artillery commander will develop the fire plan (unit of fire = 80 rounds/weapon). Location and time of supporting fires are planned. The timing of the preparation must coincide with the development. The planning must accommodate newly detected/displaced targets or targets that have survived the preparation (see Figure 4-30).

Suppression of Antitank Weapons

Reconnaissance elements have identified enemy-emplaced ATGMs, and have dug in tanks within and between platoon slrongpoints. The regimental commander ordered that one tank platoon and one ATGM platoon be employed in a direct-fire role in the sector of the first MRB. An artillery battery has also been allocated for direct-fire support.

The regimental chief of artillery develops the direct-fire plan, to include the table of distribution for the missions (see Figure 4-31). The Soviet-style armies strive to locate 60 to 70 percent of the enemy AT systems, and to destroy 50 to 60 percent. AT suppression must be closely coordinated with the preparation and the assault force deployment.

Deployment of First-Echelon Battalions for the Assault

The first MRB (the main effort) attacks from line of march at 0400 hours, 18 August. The battalion crosses the assault line at H-7 minutes. The first MRB commander determines the location of deployment lines and the time. Deployment of the regiment into columns at lower levels is calculated and closely related to the terrain, route passability, timing of the preparation, and the nature of enemy defenses. Any deviation in deployment can impact adversely on the assault and related support (see Figures 4-32 and 4-33).

Coordination for the Assault

During the artillery prepartaion and the deployment of the first MRB for the assault, the first artillery battalion commander and first MRB commander are collocated at the COP.

  • Preplanned artillery fires are conducted in accordance with signals contained in the fire plan.
  • Direct-fire weapons and ATGMs destroy designated targets.
  • A direct-fire tank platoon joins the first MRB deploying for the assault.
  • The first echelon assaults on order.
  • Engineers clear minefield during the last strike of the artillery preparation.
  • Battalion second echelon committed and direct fire means are displaced on order.
  • Air defense supports assault.

Timing of the preparation, direct fire, engineer obstacle clearance, and air defense support are coordinated with the deployment and assault of the maneuver elements. A major deviation in timing in any component impacts adversely on the success of the assault (see Figure 4-34).

Artillery Displacement

The first artillery battalion's mission is to support the first MRB with continuous fire. Artillery displacements are based on an average rate of advance of 3 kilometers per hour during the first four hours. The first MRB commander directs the artillery to displace when the assault troops reach specified lines. The first artillery battalion also is tasked to support the commitment of the regimental second echelon.

The first artillery battalion displaces incrementally, that is, the battalion minus one battery followed by that battery. When the battalion is ready to fire in the new location, the balance of the battalion displaces. For example, when the immediate objective is seized at a depth of 20 kilometers, the artillery battalion minus one battery is ordered to displace. When the battalion minus is ready to fire in the new location, the remaining battery is ordered to fire.

Continuous FS is required particularly during critical periods, such as second-echelon commitment. Artillery displacement is determined based on anticipated rates of advance and norms for artillery operations. All aspects of artillery support probably are exercised except for handling ammunition in the quantities shown in the fire plan (see Figure 4-35).

Regimental Second-Echelon Commitment

By 0630 hours (H+2.5), the first MRB has broken through enemy defenses, but met increased resistance north of REDKIY Woods. Enemy forces are moving toward the area from GOLUMBOY Woods. The second-echelon battalion (third MRB), in column near SYCHEVO, received orders to be committed on the right flank of the first MRB with an H-Hour of 0700 hours (H+3).

The 3d MRB is committed from the march; it is supported by a 10-minute fire assault by the first artillery battalion on the strongpoint north of REDKIY Woods. The second-echelon commitment plan is refined and implemented on order. The second echelon is committed on a flank. The timing and the availability of FS are critical elements (see Figure 4-36).

Conduct of a Tank Regiment Attack

Once a gap has been created, tank regiments of tank divisions penetrate and exploit the penetration of the enemy's defense. Objectives are enemy reserves, nuclear weapons delivery systems, and C2 facilities. In an operation conducted by an MRD, doctrine requires that tank regiments be employed as complete regiments. MRRs have an organic tank battalion for support.

In setpiece assaults, the tank regiment receives from 25 to 40 minutes of supporting artillery fire. Priority targets are enemy artillery and AT systems. The goal is to suppress the enemy elements and create a gap through which the regiment can maneuver.

Staff Planning

Once the regimental commander has completed his estimate of the situation and has made his reconnaissance, the following key decisions are given to the staff as the basis for further planning:

  • Information on enemy strength and disposition, including obstacle zones and the approaches to the enemy position.
  • The mission of the regiment.
  • Axis for the attack and breakthrough sector.
  • Tasks of supporting arms.
  • Nuclear targets and the nuclear safety line.
  • Location of artillery; coordination of fire plans.
  • Coordination with adjacent units.
  • Movement routes, control lines of deployment, and gaps through obstacles.
  • Location of control points on the route forward.

The combat orders are then worked out in detail by the staff. Route reconnaissance is made by subordinate staff officers, and control points are coordinated on the ground. Whenever possible, the regimental commander issues his orders orally.


When issuing his orders to the battalion commanders, the regimental commander assigns immediate objectives for each battalion and gives directions for continuing the advance. In addition to assigning missions, the regimental commander specifies attachments and detachments. The regimental commander relates where and when battalions will deploy into company and platoon column and line. The regimental commander also gives details of the artillery fire plan, which usually will be a timed program. The final part of the order gives coordination details and includes control measures.


The commander and staff establish control measures to regulate the regiment's advance to contact. AAs are designated approximately 8 to 12 kilometers from the FEBA. The AA is a preparation and organization site located away from population centers. The regiment's movement from AAs through SPs and along march routes or axes of advance is monitored by staff officers and traffic regulators. The Soviet-style armies expect their advance elements to drive the enemy's reconnaissance screen, and thus allow the main body of the tank regiment to reach the line of deployment (about 4 to 6 kilometers from the enemy front line). They deploy into a companies-on-line (approach march) formation. The line of deployment is to be out of the range of enemy ATGMs, direct artillery, and tank fire. At about 1.5 to 4 kilometers from the enemy line, the tank battalions cross the line of attack, deploying into platoons on line (combat formation). Whenever possible, the line of attack is designated behind a terrain feature so the battalions are covered from enemy observation as they deploy. The Soviet-style armies consider the axis of main attack the most important control measure for the offensive. It designates their main efforts. The particular axis chosen depends on the mission, strength, and structure of the enemy defense; terrain conditions; and the disposition of friendly troops.

Frontage and Depth

In a movement to contact, the tank regiment is assigned a sector of responsibility up to 10 kilometers wide. When conducting actual offensive operations, however, the regiment may engage the enemy along an attack frontage as narrow as 2 to 4 kilometers, depending on prevailing conditions. The regiment's immediate objective is normally the enemy battalion strongpoints about 4 to 6 kilometers beyond the enemy FEBA; the depth of its subsequent objective is the immediate objective of the division (12 to 15 kilometers [see Figure 4-37]).

Breakthrough Operations


The concept of the breakthrough operation envisages the destruction of an enemy force in prepared positions in a small sector of the FEBA, and subsequent penetration and reduction of positions in depth. Breakthrough operations are conducted as a last resort by concentrations of maneuver elements and firepower at selected points. The Soviets-style armies seek to establish decisive superiority in the breakthrough sector while maintaining pressure all along the enemy's front. Tank regiments take part in breakthroughs as part of a divisional operation. Each regiment is normally organized into two echelons for the operation, and is reinforced with engineer and MR troops. Battalions may be organized in one or more sectors within their zones of responsibility; the attack is usually led by tanks. Frontages will depend on METT-T considerations.

Fire Support

Division artillery is augmented from army and front units for the breakthrough of a prepared defensive position. Soviet-style doctrine envisions 60 to 100 tubes per kilometers of front. Figure 4-38 includes all indirect-fire weapons and is probably applicable to the MRD. Against a weak defense, such a concentration may not be necessary. Neutralization fire may extend 1,000 to 1,500 meters on either side of each breakthrough sector. Under nuclear conditions, there would be greater dispersion with wider attack frontages. Artillery fire is routinely supplemented by air strikes against immediate objectives and on targets in rear areas. Fire planning is directed mainly against the same type targets as those sought by the MRR's artillery. The second attack echelon is further supported by artillery fire on targets located by the first attack echelon.

Initial Deployment

The tank regiment may conduct its breakthrough operation either from a position of direct contact with the enemy, or preferably, from the march. In the latter case, the regiment launches the operation from an AA at least 20 kilometers from the enemy FEBA. If possible, the regiment moves into this AA under cover of darkness or poor visibility. Reconnaissance and engineer penetration of the route is begun 2 or 3 hours before forward movement of the main body. Routes forward are masked by colored tags and traffic regulators manning control points. Light and radio discipline in the AA receive heavy emphasis in their doctrine.

Task Organization

There is no set pattern for reinforcement of the tank regiment in a breakthrough operation. The units involved depend on the type of division as well as the specific mission and the enemy and friendly situations. However, Soviet-style armies exercise activity shows that self-propelled and antiaircraft artillery frequently accompany attacking units. Also, the MRC may be attached to a tank battalion. Infantry attack on foot or mounted (depending on the situation), and follow the tanks as closely as possible. The infantry task is to destroy ATGMs and clear pockets of ground troops still effective after the artillery preparations. They may also be required to clear enemy mines and obstacles by hand, or the regiment may be augmented with combat engineers specifically for this task. When AT fire is effective, the infantry precede the tanks and attack dismounted.

Conduct of the Attack

After crossing the LD, normally the forward edge of the AA, the tank regiment moves through march, precombat, and combat formation, deploying along preplanned lines. The first-echelon tank units try to breach the enemy FEBA and fragment its defense so that he can be destroyed by the second echelon. Tanks open concentrated fire on any targets that have survived the artillery preparation. The tank regiment's second echelon passes through gaps between first-echelon positions to destroy enemy elements that have been isolated in the assault. If the first echelon meets heavy resistance, the second echelon may be required to help it complete its mission. Tactical reserves of reinforced platoon strength are usually created at battalion level.


The Soviets-style armies recognize that the advance of regimental elements may be uneven, so they place a high priority on securing to protect against possible enemy counterattacks. The regiment then moves against its subsequent objectives, which are artillery positions and reserves. The second echelon completes the destruction or capture of enemy forces, eliminating and consolidating the regiment's position. If the enemy begins to organize a withdrawal after a breakthrough, the regiment immediately begins pursuit operations.

Defend in Sector

A defensive sector is an area designated by boundaries which defines where a unit operates. Defense in sector is the most common defense mission for the task force.



In planning for the battalion defense in sector, the S2 conducts his IPB in the same manner as at the brigade level, but with a different focus.

Terrain analysis. The battalion S2 examines terrain and its capacity two levels down, for example platoon level. Key terrain and platoon mobility corridors are identified for the length of the battalion sector. The terrain analysis allows the commander to view the entire piece of terrain and determine its best use. If an engineer unit is attached to the task force, the engineer commander can provide valuable assistance to the S2 in the classification of terrain mobility. Once all the platoon-sized mobility corridors have been identified, they are combined into company AAs. The enemy regularly maneuvers using logging roads and trails, so even the most innocuous dirt trail may become a major AA.

Conversely, choke points and any natural obstacles that restrict maneuver should be identified. Included are--

    • Mountain terrain.
    • Slopes of over 60 percent.
    • Escarpments (railroad tracks or highways on a steep fill over 1-1/2 meters high).
    • Ravines, gullies, streams, or ditches over 5 meters wide.
    • Swamps and marches over 1 meter deep.
    • Forests or jungles with trees as small as 4 inches in diameter. Tree stumps 18 inches high from recently forested areas are also obstacles.
    • Snow over 1 meter deep.
    • Railroads.
    • Built-up areas.

Situation templating. The S2 examines how the threat will negotiate the terrain and where enemy regiments change formation. He must identify where the enemy is vulnerable. If the enemy is engaged while attempting to change formation, heavy damage is caused by confusion and fragmentation. These pieces of information assist the commander in the development for his defensive plan. The event matrix and the decision support template will be a refinement of this analysis.

Reconnaissance and surveillance plan. To confirm the situation and event templates, the S2 develops an R&S plan (see Figures 4-39 and 4-40). Reconnaissance elements will observe specific locations and areas. If GSR has been attached to the battalion, it will scan likely avenues of approach. GSR must have line of sight to detect activity. The areas assigned for monitoring are the NAI/TAI/DPs identified by the S2. Reconnaissance elements report any activity in these areas. Based on the observations from the R&S plan, the commander will have an accurate picture of enemy activity and will respond accordingly.

Example: R&S Plan Instructions

GSR-Establish positions 1 and 2 NLT 1800 hours. Establish positions 3 and 4 on order. Target: Enemy reconnaissance/MRB (BMP with T-62) moving south along AAs. Coordinate withdrawal routes with Tm C and scout platoon leader.

Scouts-Establish forward screen NLT 1600 hours. Target: Enemy dismounted reconnaissance units.

REMs-Establish 2 strings NLT 1800 hours. Target: dismounted reconnaissance and MRB troops infiltrating along forest trails. Coordinate passage with Tm B.

Patrols-Tm A patrol SP NLT 2100 hours. Coordinate Route LEE with scout platoon leader. Target: Locations of enemy reconnaissance/MRB platoon vicinity CP 3 and CP 4.

Tm B+patrol SP NLT 0100 hours. Coordinate Route GRANT with scout platoon leader. Target: Location of enemy reconnaissance/MRB platoons vicinity CP 8, 9, and 10.

TM C-patrol SP NLT 2200 hours. Coordinate Route SHERMAN with scout platoon leader. Target: Locaions of enemy reconnaissance platoons vicinity CP 14, CP 15, and CP 16.

TF-TM D (Reserve) attached to scouts NLT 1500 hours. Revert to task force reserve on order.

Distribution-Teams A, B, C, D, SCT, MRT, FSO, S3, GSR/REMs, Engr, Bde S2.


The maneuver plan is formulated from the BHL to the rear boundary of the sector. Once the S2 has identified the enemy AA, his capacity, and his likely vulnerability, the commander determines the number of weapon systems required to destroy the enemy and designates areas of vulnerability as EAs.

Direct fire. The commander plans for direct fire by looking two levels down (platoon). He will determine the number and type of weapon systems required to defeat the enemy based on the S2's depiction of the enemy's formations and areas of vulnerability. To defeat an enemy battalion, the commander must plan at least a company's worth of fires on the engagement, modified by METT-T.

Positioning. The commander now has determined the number of weapon systems required to destroy the enemy in each of his EAs. He determines the best position for his elements. The commander identifies platoon positions using the following criteria as a guide:

    • Line of sight from their position to the EA.
    • Fields of fire enable them to engage one or a few of the enemy targets at a time without being exposed to the entire enemy.
    • They can obtain cover and concealment.
    • They can achieve flank shots.
    • They are dispersed laterally and in depth to minimize the enemy' s success in suppression.
    • They have maneuver room to create alternate and supplementary positions.
    • They can achieve mutual support.
    • The effects of limited visibility will be minimized.
    • They allow the weapon sytems the freedom to maneuver to other positions if necessary.
    • They are not on obvious terrain, which would be the target of planned preparatory fires.

Space is allocated by grouping platoons into company positions, then issuing the terrain to the companies in the form of BPs or sectors. The type of weapon systems required in each area will drive the task organization. It is important to have interlocking fires and mutual support between company BPs. Sectors are usually given in restrictive terrain with no clear enemy avenue of approach.

Risk. All plans involve a certain amount of risk. It is up to the commander to decide where to take risks. For example, enemy AAs not covered by direct fire constitute a risk. OPs, remote sensors, trip wire detonated mines, and pyrotechnics along the uncovered AAs are examples of some security measures taken to reduce risk. Contingency plans are prepared in response to the threat. Supplementary positions and terrain reinforcement are options available.

Fire control. The commander positions platoons in locations where they will provide the most effective fires without adjusting their location. The construction of an effective EA is crucial to the success of the defense. The first task is to determine how best to engage the enemy. A technique favored 15 years ago was opening fire at the maximum range of each weapon system to allow the defender to wear down the enemy continuously and produce an increasingly dense wall of fire as the enemy nears the positions. However, this technique tips our hand to the enemy and allows him to maneuver away from the EA. The preferred technique is to draw the enemy into an EA and commence firing at one time. This achieves surprise and inflicts heavy losses on the enemy. The disadvantage is that if the enemy force is not slowed or destroyed, its remaining combat power may be sufficient to penetrate the sector. There are several direct-fire control measures that should be included in all EA plans.

Trigger lines. Trigger lines are selected along identifiable terrain that crosses the EA (see Figure 4-41). There may be one or more, depending on how the commander wants to engage the enemy. For example, when the enemy is engaged at maximum range, separate trigger lines may be established for each weapon system. Although at first this may seem confusing, remember that to the commander of the weapon systems there is only one trigger line.

NOTE: Figure 4-41 is not presented to endorse a linear army of platoons to achieve an increasing density of fire, but to highlight that in constructing an EA, individual trigger lines may have to be planned for specific weapon systems based on their positioning and range.

A single trigger line allows the enemy to be drawn into the EA and be hit simultaneously by all weapon systems (see Figure 4-42). The trigger line is positioned within range of the shortest range weapon system expected to engage the enemy (for example, Dragon, 1,000 meters), but not close enough that the enemy cannot be destroyed reaching the disengagement line. This requires positioning platoons in depth with respect to the EA, so the optimum range of the different weapon systems reaches the same point.

Sectors of fire. Sectors of fire are designated to allow interlocking fires in the EA. The more companies that contribute from different angles, the better the effect. The battalion designates a sector to each unit, delineating their orientations with TRPs (see Figure 4-43). It is not enough to place TRPs forward of the position as extensions of the left and right limits of the BP. The TRPs must allow for a concentration of fire where the enemy is expected to be most vulnerable, and they must be on identifiable terrain (if none is available, physically mark the position) (see Figure 4-44).

In addition to the primary orientations of the companies, the commander should designate on-order orientations and supplementary orientations (see Figures 4-45 and 4-46). On-order orientations are required if a company will withdraw from the battalion EA fight. The remaining companies will have to shift their fires to cover the same terrain effectively and assist the withdrawing company's movement. Supplemental orientations are designated to companies located on the battalion flank to cover an enemy flank avenue of approach.

Additional instruction. Engagement criteria, target criteria, target priority, and destruction criteria are additional instructions given to help use the weapon systems to the best advantage. The battalion commander designates a trigger line as part of the direct-fire plan, and he ensures that large elements are engaged first, rather than one or two vehicles. He then designates engagement criteria, for example, once 10 tanks cross Highway 161, engage. The commander ensures specific targets are serviced in a particular order; for example, C2 vehicles should be destroyed first. The battalion commander designates target priority: C2 vehicles, air defense, engineer equipment, tanks, and BMPs. Last, the commander ensures that each of these targets are engaged by an appropriate weapon system. The commander will designate destruction criteria: tanks will engage enemy tanks and engineer equipment, IFVs will engage C2 vehicles and BMPs, and ITVs will destroy BMPs. Gunners will know when to engage, where to fire, and what to shoot at, and they will know in what order. EXAMPLE: company will orient from TRP 001 to 040 and engage the enemy once a platoonsize element crosses the railroad tracks. Target priority is C2, tanks, and BMPs. Tanks will engage enemy tanks first.

Break lines. Break lines are designated by the commander to prevent decisive engagement. The commander tells the units the amount of destruction he wants inflicted in a given area. For example, "I want to destroy two MRBs in EA CHARLIE and one MRB in EA FOXTROT." The enemy may be strong enough to press the attack so break lines are established. It will be difficult for the commander to control the withdrawal of his force by the use of radio or pyrotechnic signals. Event-oriented criteria is used instead; for example, once three enemy vehicles breach the close-in obstacle belt, move to your secondary positions.

Counterattack planning. The battalion commander has essentially two types of counterattack options in the sector defense: counterattack by fire, and counterattack by fire and movement. The commander must decide how the terrain and enemy course of action lend themselves to counterattack. Often a battalion reserve may have contingency plans that encompass both types of counterattacks.

Counterattack by fire. This type of counterattack augments the existing fires of the battalion in the EA. The direct fires of the counterattack force must be integrated into the direct-fire plan. In fact the reserve must undergo the same planning and preparation. The difference between a counterattack and other offensive operations is that it is over friendly ground. If the counterattack is properly planned, the route from the reserve position to the fighting positions for the force will have been prepared. In Figure 4-47 the reserve is depicted conducting a counterattack to block and fire from the flank.

Counterattck by fire and movement to regain terrain. The counterattack force assaults to seize terrain that may be occupied by the enemy. Controlling this terrain allows the defender to augment fires of the task force BPs. or to fire on the flanks or rear of the enemy force. It is important that the counterattack axis be left obstacle free with enough space to let the force cross the LD in attack formation, establish an RFL to prevent fratricide, and a limit of advance to prevent the counterattack force from outrunning their support. Figure 4-48 depicts a counterattack by fire designed to regain terrain.

Counterattack by fire and movement to destroy an enemy force. The counterattack designed to destroy an enemy force is the most difficult to plan and execute due to the fluid nature of the defensive fight. The IPB will be extremely important in identifying where and how the enemy will attack. The counterattack plan must be very flexible so that from this one plan the counterattack force can actually respond to several enemy disposition options. The commander must plan to have reconnaissance forces positioned where he can observe the enemy in depth and pass information to the counterattack force as it begins its maneuver. A limit of advance and an RFL should be planned; however, their actual location may vary depending on the enemy. Battalion combat and CS units must be prepared to accept the new control measures. Even though this counterattack is oriented on the enemy, it is not a "draw sabers" charge, in which the attack formation disintegrates as forces become intermingled. Rather it is a controlled assault against a moving force in which the counterattack force maintains security and destroys the enemy through controlled direct fire.

Fire support

The FS plan should be concurrently planned with the maneuver and obstacle plans (see Figures 4-49 and 4-50). The FS plan enables the reconnaissance forces to engage the enemy at maximum range to wear down and confuse the enemy. This may mean that artillery batteries and mortars will be positioned alongside combat elements. Following the initial engagement of the enemy, the artillery slows and canalizes the enemy into the AAs we want him to use, and wears him down.

Within the EA, fires should be planned to reinforce obstacles to provide better shots for direct-fire weapon systems and cover deadspace. Smoke screens assist in separating echelons, and they provide a white backdrop to the assaulting enemy. Weapons not equipped with thermal sites are unable to identify targets in or behind the smoke. ACAs and SEAD plans will be prepared in advance so that aviation assets will be able to augment the direct fires.

Fire planning must also support the counterattack plan. Fires must assist in the maneuver and/or occupation of terrain as well as the destruction of the enemy as requested by the counterattack force's FSO. Likewise, fires must assist in disengagement of forces from their positions, so as not to become decisively engaged; therefore, FPFs will be planned as required. Fires in support of repositioning and along flank AAs will be planned to assist the force in its battle in depth and to respond to surprise enemy actions.

Large sectors and extensive counterattack plans generate a large number of targets within the brigade zone. To break these targets into manageable portions, FSOs may divide target lists into separate plans, one plan for the defense and another plan for counterattack options. This allows the FDC to prioritize targets and munition types.

Mobility, Countermobility, and Survivability

The task force commander prepares an obstacle plan based on the location and functions of the brigade-assigned obstacle belts. The task force commander designs obstacle groups to achieve the overall function desired by the brigade commander (such as turn, block, fix, and disrupt). Obstacles within the obstacle group may vary in individual function, but collectively must achieve the desired results. The task force commander also plans and prioritizes Class IV and V barrier material for allocation to the company teams as protective obstacles. The task force commander must also weigh the use of available bulldozers or M-9 ACEs for preparation of survivability positions or obstacle construction. Employment of these digging assets must be carefully planned and coordinated by the task force commander.

Turning obstacles. Turning obstacles are used in conjunction with a BP to deflect an threat formation. This can be a critical obstacle application to force the penetration to occur in a desired area. or to allow fires from a defensive position to engage vehicle flanks or rear (see Figures 4-51 and 4-52).

When designing a turning obstacle system, the most important considerations are its siting and orientation. The threat must not know that he is being manipulated in the desired direction. Turning obstacles divert the threat in small stages, and allow him to move in a direction close to the direction he desires.

Blocking obstacles. Blocking obstacles are similar to the traditional barrier obstacles. The intent is to make an extremely dense, deep obstacle system that is very expensive to penetrate. This type of obstacle is used to limit a penetration, to stall an attack (setting a counterattack), or to protect key terrain that must be retained (see Figure 4-53).

Blocking obstacles should be designed to defeat Soviet-style armies breaching techniques composed of a variety of obstacles in depth, well covered by fires. Minefield density should defeat repeated bull-through attempts. Key principles are depth, density, and counterbreach devices. Blocking obstacles must be carefully tied in with restrictive terrain.

Fixing obstacles. Fixing obstacles have been sited at the optimum weapon range from defending positions, so that vehicles are engaged while coping with the obstacle. This allows the threat to hit the obstacle with a small advanced force and maneuver with the main body. The optimum solution is to have the threat force deployed when it strikes the obstacle. To do this, the threat should be engaged by direct-fire weapons before striking the obstacle. If the obstacle system is sited so that a deployed force encounters it, vehicle attrition and C2 confusion will be maximized. The obstacle system should be sited at less than the optimum engagement range from the defensive position in a location not under long-range observation by the threat (see Figure 4-54).

An extensive obstacle system could have the wrong effect and divert the threat to where it is easier going. Fixing obstacles should be relatively thin and simply make the ground sticky. Closer-in obstacles may be a different type to contain the threat or limit his advance, but those supporting the primary EA should be thin. Fixing obstacles are oriented perpendicular to the threat route of advance, spaced and in depth, to cause him to execute repeated breaching operations or to have much lateral movement.

Disrupting obstacles. Obstacles do not always need to be in range of direct-fire weapons. The primary use is to delay the threat and disrupt his timetable, thus adding time depth to the battle, with a secondary mission to exhaust his breaching assets. Disrupting obstacles are used to frustrate and delay the threat so he will abandon routes. This is particularly important when sheltering compartments parallel to the threat direction of attack (see Figure 4-55).

Disruption obstacles must be in sufficient depth to cause the desired degree of frustration and delay. They also should be quick to install, as they are normally a secondary component of the defensive system. A good example of a set of disrupting obstacles would be a series of craters along a hard-surface road. Each would require improving the road later on to allow wheeled vehicle passage following the attacking force.

Commander's guidance. The task force commander should provide the following information to his engineer for obstacle planning:

    • Locations of BPs.
    • Locations and functions for obstacles within obstacle belts.
    • Priority of obstacle emplacement.
    • Priority of blade effort (obstacles versus survivability positions).
    • Assistance in the transportation of barrier materials.

The engineers would provide the task force commander with the following when the obstacle plan is complete:

    • Obstacle overlay.
    • Obstacle list with grid coordinates, type of obstacles, and priority.
    • Timetable for execution of obstacles/survivability plan showing emplacing unit, start time, and completion time.
    • Defending and executing unit for all obstacles.
    • Routes to be left open to support tactical and logistical requirements (see Figures 4-56 and 4-57).

Disrupting obstacle siting should be designed to attack only a part of his formation directly, to slow that part while the remainder continues to move at full speed. This not only can manipulate the formation by causing it to change direction (pivoting around the obstacle like a swinging gate), it directly disrupts his C2 (see Figures 4-58 and 4-59).

If the function of the obstacle is to disrupt or cause attrition, the same principle should be applied several times sequentially. An obstacle should slow part of the formation, and a later obstacle should slow the rest.

The threat is also manipulated when his direction of attack is changed against his will. This can be accomplished with turning obstacles that partially block his route and deflect him onto a new path (see Figure 4-60). These obstacles are designed to be difficult to breach, and are well supported by direct fires to make a continuation in the original direction very expensive and slow.

A turning obstacle may perform the same function with more subtlety (see Figure 4-61). This obstacle is much weaker and less defended, but it only deflects the threat. It works, not because it forces the threat, but because it leaves an open route that seems to meet his requirements.

A technique useful for turning obstacles, as well as for producing flank and rear targets, is the thickening oblique pattern (see Figure 4-62). This uses obstacle segments slanted in the direction the threat wishes to travel. The formation will glance off the obstacle. Thickening the base of the obstacle prevents a final attempt by the formation to resume its original direction by making breaching more difficult.

Employment tactics blend the terrain, the defensive plan, the desired obstacle function, and the threat response into a cohesive whole. Obstacle siting must be tailored to the terrain. The pattern is a simple linear obstacle perpendicular to the threat AA, extending across the entire avenue (see Figure 4-63). This obstacle has the advantage of ensuring threat interaction. It has the disadvantage that a single breaching effort allows passage. It provides minimum confusion to the threat as his entire formation is stopped by the obstacle, and it does not turn him to produce flank and rear targets.

The staggered perpendicular is a linear obstacle broken into several short segments (see Figure 4-64). The initial obstacle encounter will slow and deflect a part of the formation, while the remainder continues to travel unimpeded. This causes the formation to fragment. When the next obstacle segment is encountered, the results are the same. Instead of a simple straight-ahead breach, the threat commander is forced to make many decisions and communicate them to his vehicles in the middle of a zone of obstacles while under fire. This technique also forces much vehicle maneuver and exposes flanks to fire.

The Christmas-tree pattern can be used to split a formation by gently leading each side away from the other (see Figure 4-65). This is done by having the obstacle segments almost parallel the direction of attack at first. Successive segments slant farther and farther from the direction the threat wishes to travel. Continuing to travel straight into the Christmas tree is a very difficult breaching undertaking because of the overlapping obstacle depth. his pattern is useful if the terrain opens up into a wide bowl where overwatching BPs cannot range into the center. A Christmas-tree pattern can split a formation and force the two sides into EAs in front of the BPs.

The chevron pattern has an effect similar to the Christmas tree (see Figure 4-66). It is used to split a formation, but instead of leading and deceiving the threat, it forces the separation. The obstacles in depth in the center make the breaching effort difficult, and tend to force the attacker into easier going on the flanks. his pattern is used to force an attacker in a wide bowl into flank EAs.

The herringbone pattern consists of overlapping angled obstacles extending into an avenue of approach (see Figure 4-67). It causes vehicles to turn, exposing their flanks for better shots, and discourages direct attack of the BP. It lends itself to counterattack, since an attack into the threat rear is possible by passing between the obstacles.

It is important that some actual minefields be marked so that whenever the threat discovers a marked minefield, he considers it real. When a minefield is marked, the psychological effect will stop the threat from attacking and cause him to bypass or breach. With this in mind, placing a series of dummy minefields is both expedient and effective if done properly. Figure 4-68 illustrates the completed obstacle plan.

Air Defense

The battalion commander determines the priority of protection within the task force defend in sector mission. Each Vulcan carries a Stinger gunner, so there is a gun missile mix. The Stinger teams are used to protect units that are deployed over larger areas. The range of the Stinger will easily cover the disposition of a defending company team or logistical unit. The battalion field trains will be protected by the ADA assets guarding the BSA; however, some protection should be given to the combat trains and/or the UMCP. Maneuver units, and particularly the battalion reserve, should have priority so they can concentrate on the ground battle. They must be linked into the ADA warning net so as to execute SAFAD.

Combat Service Support

CSS elements must be positioned away from obvious locations, such as road intersections and known maintenance facilities, as they are targets for artillery. The CSS assets should be out of threat artillery range if possible, but close enough to support the battalion's defense. The battalion combat trains seek a reverse slope position with good cover and concealment. UMCPs should follow the same guidance even more carefully because of their necessary proximity to the MSR or other road networks. Pre-stocks of ammunition should be planned for BPs deemed essential. The support platoon must conduct emergency resupply near the BPs.

Command and Control

The commander must ensure that each of the company teams are tied into their flanks. This includes the flanks of company teams in adjacent sectors. If the terrain dictates defending in parallel company sectors, the battalion commander must have adequate graphic control measures and know the location of each unit BP in sector. The most dangerous situation is the development of a gap or exposed flank.

The commander must ensure that his direct-fire plan is synchronized with the other combat multipliers. The commander must think through contingency planning. The conditions under which the reserve is committed must be understood. In planning for the signal to execute the counterattack, redundancy must be included. Radio, wire, visual signals, and runners all must be part of the plan so that precious time is not lost in execution as a result of threat interference.



The S2 executes the R&S plan. He ensures each element monitors its assigned area. If the R&S plan properly covers both the mounted and dismounted avenues of approach, it will strip away the reconnaissance. Where the threat is most likely to attack is based on the location of their probes. As threat reconnaissance elements are captured and/or destroyed, information from the reconnaissance elements is passed to the S2. Patrols are debriefed to develop a complete picture of the threat. All the information is collated and given to the commander and his staff in preparation for the defensive battle.


When the battalion rehearses the defensive battle, there are several aspects of the battalion defense that the commander will have to check. First, he ensures that each member of the battalion understands his role and the commander's intent. Next, he verifies his ability to control the operation. He must be able to track the location of each company team, the scout platoon, the mortar platoon, and any other asset under task force control. Each element reports its location to the headquarters each time it changes. The crossing and clearing of PLs also determines when units are free to fire.

Once the sequence of movement, execution of targets, routes to alternate positions and other physical tasks are understood, the commander checks his fires synchronization. The commander will check that each company team commander understands when to engage, what to engage, where to engage, and how to engage the threat. As elements displace to alternate and supplementary positions, the remaining commanders must know to shift their direct fires. As the threat attempts to move to dead space, the appropriate commander must know to adjust indirect fire. Disengagement criteria is checked for execution without instruction.

Vehicles will drive the threat avenues of approach. As units engage, they will report their activities to the commander. It is important that "threat" vehicles travel at the speed commensurate with doctrine or experience, so that gunners can get a feel for the target exposure time. If the commander is traveling with the "threat" vehicle, he should note any exposure of his forces to the threat or other weaknesses of which the threat may take advantage. Corrections will be made as soon as possible. The commander may find that it takes units longer to reposition than planned. This may require moving the break line farther from the defensive positions.

Fire Support

The FS plan is rehearsed with the maneuver plan. The commander ensures priority targets are fired and the FS plan is flexible enough to respond to a changing threat situation. Artillery targets should be registered so that everyone will be confident in their accuracy and know precisely the time of flight. This is important in the synchronization of artillery with the direct-fire trigger line.

The mortar platoon must also rehearse repositioning as part of the maneuver plan. The mortars will initially be placed forward to support the scout platoon and protect other reconnaissance assets. Once the reconnaissance screen is in, the mortars must bound back to positions for the defensive battle to cover the width of the battalion sector. This means that the mortars will fire from split sections.