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Unity of effort is established by the C2 emplaced on the maneuver units, the crossing-force headquarters, and the supporting units. Unit organization and traffic control are fundamental to successful river-crossing operations. They enable the commander to apply the tactics discussed in Chapters 5 and 6. This chapter covers the techniques and procedures used to establish the crossing organization, maintain control of forces, and hand off responsibilities between echelons as the operation progresses.


Division and brigade commanders organize their forces into assault, maneuver-support, bridgehead, and breakout forces for river-crossing operations. Assault forces seize the far-shore objective to eliminate direct fire on the crossing sites. Maneuver-support forces consist of corps combat engineers, bridge companies, MP, and chemical units that provide crossing means, traffic control, and obscuration. Bridgehead forces secure the bridgehead. Breakout forces cross the river behind the bridgehead forces and attack out of the bridgehead.


Division and brigade commanders are responsible for crossing their formations. They organize their staffs and subordinate commanders to help them control the crossing (see Table 3-1.) Division and brigade headquarters operate from echeloned CPs. They are the tactical, main, and rear CPs and provide the staff and communications support for planning and executing river crossings. The CPs may need some temporary augmentation or realignment of internal staff elements for the crossing. Figures 3-1 and 3-2 show the necessary control elements for deliberate and retrograde river-crossing operations. Each of the control elements is discussed below.

Table 3-1. CP tasks (deliberate crossing)
Phases CPs Advance to the River Assault Across the River Advance From the Exit Bank Secure the Bridgehead Line Continue the Attack
DTAC (crossing force's headquarters) Coordinates the lead brigade's seizure of nearshore objectives Coordinates the lead brigade's dismounted assault of the river to seize the far-shore objectives Coordinates the lead brigade's seizure of exit-bank and intermediate objectives Coordinates the lead brigade's seizure and securing of bridgehead objectives and prepares to cross the reserve brigade (breakout forces) Controls the breakout force's attack out of the bridgehead and passes the crossing force's responsibilities to the DREAR
DMAIN Coordinates deep operations to isolate the division's advance to the river Coordinates deep operations to isolate the crossing area and far-shore objectives Coordinates deep operations to isolate exit-bank and intermediate objectives Coordinates deep operations to isolate the bridgehead Coordinates deep operations to isolate the enemy's attack against corps objectives
DREAR Sustains the fight Sustains the fight Sustains the fight Sustains the fight Assumes the role of the crossing force's headquarters
BTAC Coordinates the lead TF's seizure and securing of nearshore objectives Coordinates the dismounted assault crossing of the river to secure the far-shore objectives Coordinates the TF's attack to seize and secure exit-bank and intermediate objectives Coordinates the TF's seizure and securing of bridgehead objectives Prepares to reorganize and follow the breakout force's attack out of the bridgehead toward the division's deep objectives
BMAIN (crossing-area headquarters) Moves into the crossing area to provide traffic control, crossing means, and obscuration Coordinates assault crossing means for TFs dismounted and controls obscuration of the crossing sites Controls follow-on TFs passing through the crossing area into attack positions Controls the passage of the brigade's units through the crossing area and prepares to cross breakout forces Passes crossing-area control to the supporting corps's engineer battalion


The division tactical CP (DTAC) controls the lead brigades' (bridgehead force) attack across the river, since this is the division's close fight. It may reallocate crossing means or movement routes to the river between brigades as the battle develops. The DTAC is the crossing-force headquarters.

The division main CP (DMAIN) prepares the river-crossing plan. It also directs the division's deep operations to isolate the bridgehead from enemy reinforcements and counterattacking formations. As a guide, the DMAIN displaces across the river after the division reserve. For division crossings, a traffic-control cell schedules, routes, and monitors traffic behind the lead brigades. The cell collocates with the DMAIN. The Assistant Chief of Staff, G4 (Logistics) (G4) provides the cell nucleus.

The division rear CP (DREAR) sustains the crossing for other division operations. Once the DMAIN displaces across the river, the crossing becomes a rear operation that the DREAR controls.


The division commander normally designates an assistant division commander (ADC) as the CFC to take charge of controlling the division crossing.


A crossing division receives support from a CFE, who is normally the commander of an

engineer group from the corps engineer brigade. He provides additional staff planners for the CFC and coordinates engineer support to the crossing-area commanders (CACs).


Each brigade headquarters operates from echeloned CPs, the brigade tactical CP (BTAC), and the brigade main CP (BMAIN). The BTAC controls the advance to and the attack across the river. It displaces across the river as soon as practical after the assault across the river to control the fight for exit-bank, intermediate, and bridgehead objectives.

The BMAIN controls the crossing of the rest of the brigade. It prepares the brigade crossing plan and provides the staff nucleus to coordinate it. For brigade crossings, the Supply Officer (US Army) (S4), assisted by the supporting MP unit leader or engineers if available, organizes a small, temporary traffic-control cell collocated with the BMAIN.


Once the lead battalions assault across the river and secure the far-shore objective, the crossing area is activated. The CAC, normally the brigade's executive officer (XO), controls the movement of forces inside the crossing area. The BMAIN controls the maneuver-support force that consists of corps engineers, bridge companies, and MP and chemical units. This leaves the brigade commander free to direct key activities while an officer who is directly responsible to him runs the crossing. The CAC controls-


Each forward brigade will normally be supported by a direct-support engineer battalion from the corps. The engineer battalion commander is responsible to the CAC for the engineer crossing means and sites. He informs the CAC of changes, due to technical difficulties or enemy action, that render a crossing means inoperable or reduce its capacity. He commands those engineers tasked to move the force across the river; they remain there as the attack proceeds beyond the exit-bank objectives. The division engineer battalion focuses on supporting the lead brigades at exit-bank, intermediate, and bridgehead objectives and is not normally involved in the river crossing.


Each crossing site has an engineer, either a company commander or a platoon leader, who is responsible for crossing the units sent to the site. Normally, the CSC is the company commander for the bridge unit operating the site. He commands the engineers operating the crossing means and the engineer regulating points (ERPs) at the call-forward areas for that site. He maintains the site and decides on the immediate action needed to remove broken-down or damaged vehicles that interfere with activities at the site. He is responsible to the CAE and keeps him informed on the status of the site.


Each battalion and separate unit commander designates a movement-control officer, who coordinates the unit's movement according to the movement-control plan. He provides staff planners with detailed information on the unit's vehicle types and numbers.


Figures 3-3 and 3-4 depict the communications networks within a crossing area. In the hasty-crossing example, a brigade making a supporting attack conducts a crossing with its normal slice of combat-support forces plus a corps bridge company. More assets are available from the division and corps in the deliberate-crossing example. Wire is the preferred means of communications in a river crossing when there is sufficient time to prepare it. The corps engineer battalion will establish wire communications with the nearshore crossing area according to the crossing plan.


The commander uses control measures to delineate areas of responsibility for subordinates and to ease traffic control. Figure 3-5 illustrates the control measures described below.


As used in river-crossing operations, RLs are used to delineate the crossing area. RLs are located on both the far and near shores and indicate a change in the headquarters that is controlling movement. RLs are normally located within 3 to 4 kilometers of the river and on easily identifiable terrain features, if possible.


Crossing areas are controlled access areas that decrease congestion at the river. This permits swift movement of forces. Each lead brigade has a crossing area on both sides of the river that is defined by brigade boundaries and RLs. Crossing areas normally extend 3 to 4 kilometers on each side of the river, depending on the terrain and the anticipated battle.


Waiting areas are located adjacent to the routes or axes of advance. Commanders use the following waiting areas to conceal vehicles, troops, and equipment while waiting to resume movement or to make final crossing preparations:


Staging areas are battalion-size waiting areas outside the crossing area where forces wait to enter the crossing area. The brigade traffic-control cell handles units' movement into staging areas. The CAC controls movement from the staging areas into the crossing areas. MP operate traffic-control posts (TCPs) at staging areas according to the crossing and traffic-circulation plans. They emplace temporary signs along the route from the staging area through the crossing area to guide convoys. Units make crossing preparations and receive briefings on vehicle speed and spacing in the staging areas. Staging areas-


Call-forward areas are company-size waiting areas located within the crossing area. Engineers use them to organize units into raft loads, or crews use them to make final vehicle swimming preparations. The CAC controls movement from the staging area to the call-forward area. The CSC directs movement from the call-forward area to the crossing site and on to the far-shore attack position. As a minimum, each CSC operates his own call-forward area. Call-forward areas-


Holding areas are waiting areas that forces use during traffic interruptions. Units move into these areas when directed by TCP personnel and disperse rather than stay on the roads. Holding areas are battalion size outside of the crossing area and company size within it. Far-shore holding areas are used to organize return traffic. MP and engineers, if available, operate holding areas according to the crossing and traffic-circulation plans. Established as needed on both sides of the river, holding areas-


Attack positions are the last positions occupied or passed through by the assault echelon or attacking force before crossing the line of departure. Within the bridgehead, the attack position is the last position before leaving the crossing area or bridgehead line.


AAs are areas in which a force prepares or regroups for further action.


EEPs are areas located a convenient distance from bridging and rafting sites for assembling, preparing, and storing bridge equipment and material. They are at least 1 kilometer from the river and hold spare equipment and empty bridge trucks that are not required at the crossing sites. EEPs should be located where they do not interfere with the traffic to the crossing sites and where equipment can be concealed and dispersed. Ideally, routes leading from EEPs to the crossing sites are not the same routes used by units crossing the river.


In river crossings, TCP personnel assist the crossing-area headquarters in traffic control by reporting and regulating the movement of units and convoys. TCP personnel relay messages between the crossing-area headquarters and moving units. The provost marshal identifies locations that need or require TCPs. MP or engineers, if available, operate TCPs on both banks of the river to control traffic moving toward or away from it. TCPs are additionally operated at major or critical crossroads and road junctions, staging areas, holding areas, and ERPs.


ERPs are technical checkpoints which are used to ensure that vehicles do not exceed the capacity of the crossing means. They help maintain traffic flow. Vehicles which will not be allowed to cross are removed so that they do not cause a traffic backup at the actual crossing site. Engineers man the ERPs and report to the CSC. TCPs are collocated with the ERPs to ensure that all vehicles clear the call-forward areas. An additional duty of ERP personnel is to give the drivers final instructions on site-specific procedures and other information such as speed and vehicle intervals. As a minimum, each crossing site requires an ERP at its own call-forward area. If sufficient engineer assets are available, ERPs may be established at far-shore holding areas to regulate rearward traffic.


The crossing plan is integrated throughout the division's and brigade's operation orders (OPORDs) and is as detailed as time permits. The crossing annex to the OPORD contains much but not all of the plan. It has the crossing overlay and the crossing synchronization matrix.

The crossing overlay shows the crossing areas, the crossing sites, the routes leading up to them from waiting areas, and all the control measures necessary for the crossing (see Figure 3-6). The crossing synchronization matrix is a tool to adjust the crossing plan as the battle develops. It shows crossing units in relation to their planned crossing times and locations. See Appendix B for an example matrix.

The task organization paragraph and paragraph 5 of the OPORD contain the organization and command portions of the crossing plan. For more information on the development of the crossing plan, see Chapter 4.


Commanders use control measures to operate, delegate authority, and lead from any critical point during the river-crossing operation while synchronizing other critical actions throughout their area of operations.


Battalion task forces (TFs) conducting the assault across the river move to it under the direct control of their brigade commanders. The assault TFs using rubber boats 15 (RB15s) follow the procedures in Chapter 8. The brigade commander keeps the remainder of the brigade back from the river to avoid congestion. Elements not engaged in security or supporting the crossing occupy AAs and prepare for movement across the river.


After the assault across the river, the brigade has an initial position on the far shore and is no longer fighting to seize the exit bank. The brigade needs its follow-on forces across as quickly as possible. The battalions can now cross without engaging in combat at the river. The brigade commander activates the crossing area to move forces rapidly and efficiently. The urgent need to get tanks across the river means the rafting stage often begins before terrain on the far shore is secure to the planned RL. Therefore, the crossing area is initially limited to the near shore. The first fighting vehicles swimming or rafting across under this circumstance have limited space to regroup before commitment to the fight.

As the initial battalions cross, they gain terrain to the necessary depth, and as control elements cross to the far shore, the brigade commander extends the crossing area out to the planned RL. Thereafter, units move completely through the crossing area under the CAC's control and exit it in a tactical move.

When rafting, the crossing flow for the follow-on units is generally from a staging area, through the call-forward area and crossing site into an attack position, and then on to a subsequent objective. While bridging, the flow is from a staging area, through the crossing site, and then out of the crossing area.

Figure 3-7 illustrates the traffic flow for a follow-on battalion TF during the rafting. This procedure avoids congestion close to the crossing site and helps maintain unit integrity while the battalion rafts. The battalion occupies staging area Green 31 and organizes an internal unit crossing order based on its mission on the far shore. When concurrently swimming and rafting vehicles of the same battalion, the swimming vehicles form up separate from nonswimming vehicles for movement to the crossing sites and reform into a tactical formation at the far-shore attack position. ERP personnel at the call-forward area check to determine the correct load classification and proper loading sequence for each vehicle. When instructed by the CAC, the battalion sends one company at a time (or the equivalent) from the staging area. TCP personnel guide the company's movement en route to a call-forward area where it comes under the movement control of the CSC.

n the call-forward area at site Green 33, ERP personnel organize individual vehicles into raft loads. They guide the raft loads down to the raft centerlines as directed by the CSC. In the call-forward area at site Green 21, vehicle crews make the final vehicle swimming preparations. ERP personnel send the vehicles down to the swimming site when directed by the CSC.

Vehicles remain under the control of the CSC until they are on the far shore. There they proceed to attack position 6, where they regroup as a company/team. When ready, the TF commander, under the tactical control of the brigade commander, controls the movement of the vehicles.

During bridging operations, the CAC normally directs the follow-on battalions to move in company serials from the staging area. Each serial moves down to the bridge site, crosses the river, and continues on to the attack position. The CAC directs an interval between serials that keeps continuous traffic across the bridge without gaps or traffic jams. A call-forward area remains established in the event that the bridge becomes damaged and units must be held until raft operations resume.

Units in the support-by-fire position on the near shore are already inside the crossing area when the crossing operation starts. They remain in this position until the CAC directs them to cross the river, and then they move directly to previously selected call-forward areas or start points (SPs) by company or platoon.


Once the bridgehead forces are across the river, the crossing sites are relatively secure. Since ground maneuver is no longer close to the crossing area, the operation at the river becomes predominantly a bridging and traffic-scheduling problem. The division headquarters moves the RL at the rear of the bridgehead force to the far shore. The crossing areas come under direct division control. As directed by the ADC, the brigade commander turns over his crossing area to another officer, normally the CAE, who becomes responsible for the crossing area. The CAE then reports through the CFE to the ADC at the DREAR. The CAE's unit headquarters becomes the crossing-area headquarters.


Movement control is vital to efficiently move units and material up to the crossing area in the sequence needed by the commander. The traffic-control cells at the division and brigade headquarters exercise movement control through TCPs. The division controls movement from its rear boundary up to the brigade rear, and the brigade controls movement from the rear boundary up to the bridgehead line.

The division transportation officer (DTO) develops the division movement plan according to the movement priorities that the Assistant Chief of Staff, G3 (Operations and Plans) (G3) and the G4 establish. The S4 prepares the brigade movement plan according to the priorities that the Operations and Training Officer (US Army) (S3) establishes. Each unit-movement officer, normally the battalion S4, provides the unit's vehicle information to the planning headquarters.

The movement plan normally consists of a traffic-circulation overlay and a road-movement table found in the movement annex to the division's or brigade's order.


A retrograde river crossing has most of the same control features as an offensive crossing. The commander responsible for a crossing area has the same authority as he does in an offensive crossing. When a brigade establishes a defense along the river concurrent with the crossing, the commander coordinates crossing activities to avoid conflicts with defensive preparations. For this reason, the responsible officer and his staff should be familiar with both the delaying and defending commanders' tactical plans. He coordinates optimum use of crossing sites by delaying forces. As the delaying forces disengage, they must rapidly pass through the defending force and cross the river. The commander responsible for the crossing area reports to the division CP controlling the operation. If the main CP is forward of the river, C2 is usually at the DREAR until the main CP displaces behind the river.When the river is in the division rear area at the start of the retrograde, the crossing begins as a rear operation. The senior corps engineer commander supporting the division becomes the CFE and establishes division crossing areas with corps engineer and MP units. He identifies engineer commanders, as directed by the commanding general, to quickly organize the crossing areas and initiate crossing control. These crossing areas correspond to the brigade boundaries planned by the G3 for the defense along the river.

Each brigade commander establishing a defense at the river appoints an XO to control the crossing area in his sector. When the river is in the brigade's sector at the start of the retrograde, this officer can immediately take charge and organize the crossing area. If the division initially organizes the crossing area through the CFE, it directs the defending brigade to take charge of the crossing area once it has established its hasty defense at the river. Then the engineer who was responsible for the crossing area becomes the CAE. The brigade XO coordinates with the DMAIN, which retains centralized control of the crossing until only the defending brigade's units remain to cross in that area. The crossing area is used until the commander directs the bridges to be destroyed or removed. At that time, the crossing area ceases to exist.

Turnover of the sites from the CAC to the defending battalion commanders is by mutual agreement or when directed by the brigade commander. Simultaneous handoff between or within defensive sectors is not essential. Depending on the tactical situation, the division commander may not allow crossing equipment to remain in place, even though the defending brigade commander desires its retention. Normally, the CAC retains control of the crossing means until delaying forces cross the river. He then orders the removal of the tactical bridging assets. Control of the remaining fixed bridges then passes to the defending commanders. They are responsible for their defense and ultimate destruction, as discussed in Chapter 6.

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