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SUBJECT: Battle Tracking and Situational Awareness

Observation frequency:3-4QFY971-2QFY983-4QFY981-2QFY993-4QFY99


OBSERVATION 1: Task force TOCs too often do not have established procedures for information display, message handling, and battle tracking. (TA.4.1.3)


1. There is a lack of training on information management.

2. Most units do not know what information to track. They often track information that is not critical, are unable to identify information that is critical, or attempt to track an overabundance of information that makes it unmanageable.

OBSERVATION 2: Insufficient battle tracking and situational awareness in the field trains command post (FTCP) result in its inability to assume command and control of the battle when called. (TA.4.1.3)


1. The FTCP is not able to maintain positive communication with the task force (TF) TOC and is not receiving adequate battlefield reports from the combat trains CP (CTCP) to maintain situational awareness. The communication plans are sufficient while a TF is static in the defense, but become a problem when the TF conducts offensive operations.

2. FTCP personnel rely too heavily on either the commander, XO, or 1SG to be at the CP at all times. When situations arise that require these three personnel to be absent, the second team does not keep the map board/tracking charts updated to allow the commander to receive an updated battlefield update brief when he arrives back at the CP. This is also true with tracking FTCP assets throughout the battlefield and the maintenance status of all HHC elements (i.e., turn-in of DA Forms 2404/5988E).

OBSERVATION 3: The FA battalion TOC is seldom able to track the battle and maintain situational awareness. (TA.4.1.3)


1. The battalion often has limited means of displaying information within the TOC. Few, if any, tracking or status charts are developed. The product used most often is the situation map (SITMAP).

2. The unit is generally not able to consistently track the location and status of the maneuver units on the battlefield. Critical information, such as ammunition status, commander's critical information requirements (CCIR), and mission status, are not tracked adequately throughout each battle. Typically, the staff begins the battle with a clear status of their units, but are not able to sustain it throughout the fight.

OBSERVATION 4: Battalion S2s commonly lack an ability to track the enemy and predict future actions during the battle. (TA.4.1.3)


1. The battalion battle staff is often unable to maintain a clear picture of the enemy situation as it relates to ongoing friendly activities.

2. The S2s of the direct support (DS) field artillery battalion, reinforcing field artillery battalion, and brigade combat team (BCT) do not consistently share timely, accurate intelligence.

OBSERVATION 5: Task force engineer representatives in the task force tactical operations center (TOC) (engineer company HQ section) have difficulty with clearly and accurately tracking mobility, countermobility, and survivability data. (TA.4.1.3)


OBSERVATION 6: Engineer units do not use tracking methods that maintain detailed and accurate accountability of casualties on the battlefield. (TA.4.1.3)


1. Units use a variety of methods for tracking casualties at the ALOC, but generally rely solely on FM casualty reports that lack the detail necessary for PAC personnel to generate required feeder reports and awards. Reports usually include little more than battle roster numbers.

2. Engineer units, which usually rely on supported unit assets to evacuate casualties, often send formal feeder reports only through those supported unit channels, by-passing engineer channels altogether.

OBSERVATION 7: The main command post (CP) staff does not provide the task force (TF) commander adequate predictive analysis during operations. (TA.4.2.2)


1. The event matrix, situation template (SITEMP), and decision matrix are usually not available or posted during the fight.

2. The battle staff is seldom able to analyze information it receives to provide the commander with a picture of future enemy actions or events. As a result, the staff cannot make recommendations to the commander on needed actions or change.


OBSERVATION 1: (Repeat of 3-4QFY98 Observation 3)

OBSERVATION 2: (Repeat of 3-4QFY98 Observation 4)

OBSERVATION 3: Tank crews are often so fixated on looking for large columns of armored vehicles that they overlook the presence of single vehicles close in. (TA.4.1.3)

DISCUSSION: The idea of being the killer tank, coupled with the knowledge of reconstitution on the MILES battlefield, often causes crews to give up local security for the chance of engaging multiple targets at a range that is often beyond the maximum effective range for the weapon system. The big killers (OPFOR) on the battlefield are increasingly SOKOL, mines, AT-5s from dismounts, and single vehicles maneuvering on the unit's flank to within 500 meters.

OBSERVATION 4: Battle tracking in the TOC is often insufficient. (TA.4.1.3)


1. Battle tracking prior to crossing the line of departure (LD) is often not done to standard, particularly in the defense.

2. BOS representatives do not adequately cross-talk or track the commander's critical information requirements (CCIR) and priority intelligence requirements (PIR) for the commander.

3. Graphics are not maintained with the task force and adjacent unit locations.

4. Combat functions representation at the "map board" is initially inadequate but improves with follow-on missions.

OBSERVATION 5: Integration of staff cells is inadequate during mission execution. (TA.4.1.3)

DISCUSSION: Reports received were not shared with all combat functions representatives. This resulted in a lack of situational awareness and predictive analysis. The integration greatly improves with follow-on missions.

OBSERVATION 6: During tactical operations, the FTCPs rarely maintain clear situational awareness of the battlefield. (TA.4.1.3)

DISCUSSION: Maneuver graphics are normally posted to the map in the CP; however, they are not updated, and there is no centralized tracking and reporting process to ensure a positive handover in the event of having to assume the role as the main or CTCP.

OBSERVATION 7: Although they improve with each mission during the rotation, medical platoon leaders initially demonstrate inadequate situational awareness and battle tracking. (TA.4.1.3)


1. Platoon leaders monitor only battalion A&L FM radio frequency. The battalion command net is not consistently monitored by the medical platoon. As a result, medical platoon leaders are often unaware of company/team engagements or casualty densities as they occur.

2. Company 1SGs and medical crews do not cross-talk.

3. Front-line ambulance (FLA)/tracked ambulance crews seldom track the battle or use overlays that template graphic control measures, clean/dirty routes, and friendly/enemy obstacles.

OBSERVATION 8: Light engineer command, control, communications, and battle tracking of engineer operations in support of a light task force (TF) are not adequate. (TA.4.1.3)


1. The MTOE of the light engineer platoon does not adequately provide the required manpower or equipment to effectively command and control continuous engineer operations in a mid-intensity scenario with a light TF. As a result, the engineer platoon leader has no staff to continuously man the TF TOC and has insufficient communications equipment in the TF TOC to battle track engineer operations in the TF area of operations. This becomes a big issue as the TF plans for transition to the defense and battle-tracking countermobility and survivability operations during defensive preparations as the engineer platoon leader is on the ground leading his platoon.

2. While both light engineer battalion and company engineer command and control nodes are resourced to conduct their job, the engineer platoons supporting the infantry TFs lack both the personnel and equipment to provide engineer C3 during continuous operations. This is an ongoing problem that has steadily gotten worse as the Army increases its emphasis on light/heavy brigade operations to fight in a mid-to-high intensity conflict.


OBSERVATION 1: Radio and relay teams and node centers do not have adequate situational awareness or force protection. (TA.4.1.3)

DISCUSSION: Inadequate force protection and situational awareness contributed to the destruction of communications equipment, including remote radio access unit (RAU) teams, relay teams, and numerous casualties at node centers during enemy engagements.

OBSERVATION 2: Rear CPs are consistently unable to track current operations. (TA.4.1.3)

DISCUSSION: Rear CPs are not physically configured for battle tracking. Situation maps are not maintained and tracking charts are ineffective.

OBSERVATION 3: Situational awareness in signal units is inadequate. (TA.4.1.3)


1. S6s seldom achieve or gain the information needed to provide situational awareness, a complete picture of signal assets, and how the unit as a whole is supported through communications.

2. Subordinate unit signal officers (SIGOs) do not provide asset visibility or coordinate their communications effort with the brigade/regimental SIGO. This leads to an unsynchronized signal plan that causes units to suffer communications outages during critical times during the battle.

OBSERVATION 4: TOCs do not track aviation elements throughout the battle. (TA.4.1.3)


1. TOCs rarely know in a timely manner when and where aircraft are located on the battlefield and usually rely on the aviation LNO to conduct aviation battle tracking.

2. Current operation staff members are very reluctant to command and control aviation assets. The command and control functions for the aviation task force are conducted on the brigade combat team's O&I and command nets, no different from any other task force under brigade control. This causes a breakdown in the synchronization of the aviation effort, lack of proper airspace management, and the loss of aviation combat power.

OBSERVATION 5: (Repeat of 1-2QFY99 Observation 3)

OBSERVATION 6: (Repeat of 1-2QFY99 Observation 4)

OBSERVATION 7: (Repeat of 1-2QFY99 Observation 6)

OBSERVATION 8: (Repeat of 1-2QFY99 Observation 7)

OBSERVATION 9: Company/team commanders lack situational awareness. (TA.4.1.3)


1. Company commanders demonstrate the following weaknesses in their ability to maintain situational awareness:

a. Effective tactical SOP.

b. Battle drills.

c. Reaction to direct fire.

d. Reaction to indirect fire.

e. Rehearsals.

f. Synchronization of combat multipliers.

g. Effective use of their command and control (C2) personnel.

2. The most significant concern expressed and acknowledged by all commanders is time management.

OBSERVATION 10: Most units are unable to maintain situational awareness. (TA.4.1.3)


1. Situational awareness seems to be a lost art at the NTC. Companies, and in some cases entire battalion,s are often lost to a single weapon system such as AT-4s or AT-5s. Commanders often lose half of their combat power before closing with the main force they are trying to engage.

2. Training is not done well at crew level. Lack of training time is often stated as the reason.

for Battle Tracking and Situational Awareness


1. Decide what standard information the TOC expects from subordinate units.

2. Ensure subordinates understand what information is expected and when it should be provided. Units must ensure that a satisfactory number of individuals other than and including the battle captain understand the system for information management. Information is lost when only a few individuals understand the system.

3. When a task force commander decides additional tracking information is required for a specific mission, these new requirements must be disseminated to subordinate units.

4. The task force XO must monitor his staff sections to ensure that the information management system is to standard.

5. The task force commander and staff should be able to quickly visualize the accurate status of the task force from one source in the TOC.

6. Refer to CALL Newsletter No. 95-07, Tactical Operations Center.

7. The unit should identify the critical information that must be tracked. Prioritize this information and develop status boards and charts to track and manage it. At a minimum, display and monitor the following information:

a. Timelines

b. Mission

c. Commander's intent


e. Essential fire support tasks (EFSTs)/essential field artillery tasks (EFATs)

f. Class III/V status

g. Combat power

h. Unit locations

i. Enemy battle damage assessment (BDA)

j. Synchronization matrix

8. Identify specific messages that must be processed in the TOC, and use pre-printed message forms that automatically provide multiple copies.

9. Charts are very useful tools for handling some types of information. Consider the following when developing charts:

a. Determine what must be tracked and displayed. Avoid information and chart overload.

b. Significantly reduce briefing time by using charts during the planning process.

c. Build a box to store and transport charts. This reduces wear and tear and maximizes space.

d. Keep a miniature version of all charts in a notebook for use while moving.

e. Use the charts in garrison to discover their value and train personnel on their use.

f. Conduct AARs on your tracking system. Identify what is useful and what needs to be improved. Make improvements and document the system in the unit SOP.

10. The function of the battle staff is to assist the commander by providing him a clear picture of current and future events and courses of action (COAs) to assist him in the fight.

11. The task force XO, S2, assistant S3/S3 air, engineer XO, chemical officer, and fire support officer (FSO) should track the battle at the map board or table and think one step ahead of friendly/enemy forces. They need to be able to articulate to the commander their predictive analysis and provide him with a recommended COA.

12. Battle tracking is a continuous process, and emphasis must be placed on timely and accurate reporting. The operations sergeant and the battle captain must enforce TOC SOPs. They must ensure the tools (charts, log, report formats, map with graphics, push pins, and so forth) are available, and the shift personnel use them.

13. Formal changeover briefs and periodic briefs to key leaders will usually keep soldiers on their toes. The information that is either captured or missed could dramatically affect the commander's ability to make informed decisions.

14. The XO or battle captain in charge at the TOC should be able to focus on the "big picture" to make decisions and recommendations to the commander. Enabling the TOC OIC to do this requires the BOS representatives to continuously feed information to a centralized map board and provide the overall picture.

15. A Red/Hot TOC configuration plays an important role in the effectiveness of this process.

16. Increase aviation reporting during the battle and use checkpoints, routes, ACPs, and phase lines to help quickly identify aircraft locations.

17. Ensure that the aviation task force continuously updates the TOC on its troop locations. The TOC does not need to track every aircraft at every moment; however, if needed, the TOC must be able to call the aviation task force and receive that information in a timely manner.

18. Some specific missions, such as air Volcano and unrehearsed missions, may need to be controlled at the brigade combat team TOC.


1. A clear, visible tracking system that combines map and wingboard data is the most effective tracking method.

2. Keep the information being tracked to the minimum required. If you do not use it, you do not need it.

3. The information must be organized, accurate, and easy to read. Key graphics and charts required in the engineer cell of the task force TOC to sustain combat operations include:

a. Modified combined obstacle overlay (MCOO)

b. Situation template (SITEMP)

c. Priority intelligence requirements (PIR)

d. Maneuver graphics

e. Execution matrix

f. Situational obstacle matrix

g. Obstacle overlay

h. Fire support plan

i. Combat power status

j. CSS graphics

4. In the defense, an enlarged version of the "commander's status card" cartoon sketch should be posted for ease of tracking battlefield preparation and engineer operations.

5. Subordinate unit locations should be tracked two levels down.

6. Change the MTOE of the light engineer platoon to provide the infantry TF the essential engineer C3 capability required to support continuous operations in a mid-to-high intensity conflict. This investment in personnel and equipment will ensure that the light engineer platoon is properly prepared, resourced, and utilized as it supports light infantry TFs in the Force XXI Army.

7. The light engineer platoon must be resourced with a TF engineer team that has the following missions:

a. Help the platoon leader plan for future missions.

b. Produce planning products (i.e., Terrabase II products and graphics).

c. Conduct coordination with the TF staff.

d. Battle track engineer operations and report to higher engineer C2 nodes.

e. Brief the TF staff on current engineer operations in the TF area of operations.

At a minimum, the TF engineer team should include a 12B30 who is ANCOC and battle staff qualified and a 12B10 driver with intense computer and communications equipment training.

8. The following equipment should be added to the light engineer platoon MTOE:

a. One M998 with AN-VRC-91 FM radio system and a MSE telephone.

b. One OE-254.

c. One remote FM radio speaker.

d. One DNVT with TACFAX.

e. One Pentium III laptop computer with CD-ROM that can run Terrabase II and TACLAN.

f. One laser-jet printer.

g. A field desk.

h. A map board with tracking charts.

i. One SICUP section that can be connected into the TF TOC as a TF engineer team work area.


Develop a system that produces cross-talk among SIGOs, such as a signal huddle, or conference calls at predetermined times of the day, and integrate the S6 into the brigade/regimental combined arms rehearsal.


1. The HHC commander establishes a CP SOP that clearly explains each soldier's duty while on shift at the FTCP. Establish a shift changeover and commander update brief format and include it in the SOP.

2. Ensure the TF SIGO constructs a communications plan that covers all CPs within the TF.

3. Ensure the FTCP has the proper tracking charts and CP set up to function as a viable TOC if needed.

4. Units should review their SOPs and reconfigure the rear CP to allow for battle tracking. SITMAPs and wing boards with effective tracking charts are needed. S1/S4 personnel must be organized for 24-hour operations


1. Staff sections must cross-talk continuously to retain situational awareness within the TOC. Knowledge of the enemy situation as it relates to the friendly situation allows the S2 to confirm or deny enemy COA and enables him to make predictions that commanders or members of the staff can then use to make informed decisions during the course of the battle.

2. Many units conduct periodic "battle updates" which facilitate the exchange of information across staff sections during a battle. The S2s must exchange intelligence information in the same manner, regardless whether by voice or digital. Staffs, specifically S2s, should develop a system to keep one another informed during the course of an operation and incorporate this system into their SOP.


1. Units must be able to accurately track casualties by event and type as well as by individual, and must receive formal casualty feeder reports/witness reports as well as the initial FM report.

2. Sub-units should send an initial report via FM with sufficient information for ALOC personnel to anticipate the movement of casualties on the battlefield and to begin planning for replacement operations. This information should enable the ALOC to assess combat losses not only in terms of individual personnel but also in terms of personnel as they relate to combat systems. In addition, this information enables the ALOC to identify early those soldiers which will be pushed back through the replacement system, generate reports and awards in a timely manner, and provide immediate analysis and feedback to the commander. At a minimum, the initial report should include:

a. Battle roster number

b. Type of casualty (RTD, WIA, KIA, non-battle)

c. Location

d. Date and time

e. A quick event description so that personnel losses are tied to specific actions or equipment losses on the battlefield.

3. Formal casualty feeder reports/witness reports, action summaries, and personnel status reports sent through battalion FM channels or through the LOGPAC should follow initial reports. These follow-up reports provide verification of initial reports and the information necessary to generate awards, letters, and action summary reports as necessary.

4. Battalion command and A&L radio frequencies must be consistently monitored by medical platoon personnel for adequate situational awareness. Establish a redundant FM reporting system with each casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) node, which emphasizes cross-talk with company 1SGs.

5. Friendly and enemy graphics must be posted and updated as METT-T dictates.

6. Develop a battle-tracking system that incorporates current company battle positions and CCPs, BAS location, contingency positions/routes, and ambulance exchange point (AXP) locations.


1. The track commander must be aware of his environment at all times.

2. Assign areas for scanning within the unit. The best way to detect enemy forces around the unit is to position two men up out of the hatches with responsibility for scanning.

3. Watch for the signature of an AT weapon from the adjacent hillside rather than for several tanks beyond direct fire range. The enemy should never be able to drive a BRDM directly down the middle of a firing line without being observed.

4. Platoon leadership must refine tactical troop-leading procedures to ensure situational awareness is driven down to individual level.

5. Companies should develop a process for disseminating critical situational awareness information to platoons and teams.

6. Situational awareness information should be included on every team's tactical pre-combat inspection (PCI).

7. Train at Home Station. Tactical and doctrinal manuals plainly state and show drawings of where each crewmembers' area of responsibility is to be focused. We must get back to the focus of training at all times for combat. For example, at all times the crewmembers should be up at their position with binoculars scanning their areas. Training should include all field problems as well as gunnery. Situational awareness training must be done at Home Station; it cannot be trained after the unit deploys to their NTC rotation.

8. Many units returning to Home Station from the LTP return to high OPTEMPO and real world missions, which forces training to be deferred until 120 days prior to their rotation. The unit cannot train sufficiently in 120 days to gain the skills and coherence needed.

9. Commanders should exercise combat patience if at all possible while moving their forces. Too many times units become so involved with getting to the objective they lose focus on their situational awareness.

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