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Fighting as the Combat Security Outpost

by SSG Joseph Delatorre, Scout Section Leader, 3d MRB, CMTC, OPFOR

Streetfighting: The Rifle Platoon in MOUT
Table of Contents
Sustaining the Operational Momentum

Team Alpha's lead platoon has just identified a conventional obstacle blocking a key chokepoint on the company's route. The lead platoon reports negative contact and requests that the attached engineer platoon come forward to conduct a breach. As the engineers move forward, the OPFOR calls for fire on the breach site. As the artillery begins to impact, three well-positioned BMPs engage and destroy the engineers. In the confusion of integrated fires, the BMPs reposition without sustaining major damage.

The result of this engagement is significant. Team Alpha is unable to breach the obstacle in time to allow the Task Force (TF) to conduct a coordinated attack on the objective. Three BMPs have successfully completed their task to destroy task force breaching assets, thereby separating the maneuver companies of the task force and allowing the OPFOR commander to fight the Task Force one company at a time.

Every unit that has participated in high intensity conflict (HIC) rotations at the Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) has conducted an attack against a tough, well-trained, world-class opposing force (OPFOR). Most have experienced, at least once, the frustration of having their plan of attack foiled by a small but lethal enemy element called the Combat Security Outpost (CSOP).


The overall concept of the CSOP is actually quite simple. It is a small force with a good game plan to execute its mission. The game plan is driven by task and purpose.

Task organization: Typically, two to three BMPs, with three-man teams. Based on the threat, it is usually reinforced with one to three dismounted infantry squads. Dismounted teams can be employed as forward observers or to execute antiarmor ambushes.

Task: To destroy TF key assets (i.e., engineers, command and control elements, reconnaissance assets, combat vehicles).

Purpose: To disrupt the TF attack. Specific purpose varies from mission to mission. The purpose may be to prevent the envelopment of the main effort battle position; isolate company/team(s), allowing the OPFOR commander to fight one company/team at a time, or to prevent TF reconnaissance from gathering information.


Since the CSOP fights as an independent element, SOPs are rigidly enforced to ensure that once contact is made, any one element can continue the mission.


  • Ensure that all leaders know the obstacles and targets in their area of responsibility.
  • Rehearse the "fall out one drill." Ensure that people know who is in charge and what the commander's intent is.
  • Rehearse insertion and extraction of dismounted teams.
  • Plan for artillery targets at all obstacles and chokepoints, and confirm with a Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR).
  • Stockpile class IV material to re-seed any pre-breaches.
  • Build false vehicle positions to deceive the TF scouts as to where the CSOP is located.


During the counter-reconnaissance fight, the overall focus of the CSOP is to prevent the TF scouts from penetrating the security zone of the defense. This is done through aggressive patrolling by dismounted teams to locate and destroy the TF scouts. The BMPs are especially vulnerable during this phase and must continue to minimize their movement to avoid detection. The intent is to defeat the TF intelligence-gathering assets without the loss of CSOP combat power.


  • Maintain rigid noise and light discipline.
  • Move the vehicle every time it starts (at least 400m).
  • Place infantry squads along likely dismounted avenues of approach.
  • Use early warning devices and protective wire on dismounted avenues of approach.
  • Minimize the use of BMPs to fight TF dismounted teams. If dismounted teams are in contact, support them with artillery. If feasible, pull them out and reinsert them later.
  • Provide accurate and timely reports (SALT).


As the Task Force enters the security zone, the main emphasis is to figure out where the Company Teams are and of what they consist. The remaining dismounted squads prepare to conduct antiarmor ambushes overwatching key chokepoints or obstacles with the instructions to only engage engineers. Once the company/team hits an obstacle, artillery is summoned. The CSOP can destroy, in some cases, an entire company/team or cause it to become isolated from the Task Force.


  • Rapidly report on enemy activity. Maintain contact (passive or active).
  • Direct fire to the flank or rear of combat vehicles.
  • Do not become decisively engaged.
  • Initiate direct fires after artillery begins impacting on target. This helps to keep the BMPs from being detected.
  • Protect obstacles.
  • Inflict as many casualties as possible without undue risk to the CSOP.
  • A company/team that cannot breach an obstacle will spend more time trying to find another way to its objective, or have to wait for assets to be sent forward.
  • If it sits still, call for artillery (if available).


The CSOP is most destructive when the Task Force closes on the OPFOR obstacle belt. Therefore, the early identification and destruction of the CSOP will greatly enhance the Task Force's chances for success. TF scouts that identify the CSOP should attempt to refine locations to add them to the preparatory fire plan of the TF.

  • The Task Force has more reconnaissance assets now with the BRT. Use the TF scouts to locate the CSOP.
  • As the TF closes on the obstacle belt, use infantry to clear and secure chokepoints for the company teams.
  • Protect your breach assets.
  • Rehearse breach drills (apply SOSR).
  • Limited combat power.


A unit that does not address the threat of the CSOP is opening up the possibility of defeat. The Combat Security Outpost, through planning, rehearsal and execution, can ensure that the defending Motorized Rifle Company can defeat a much larger and better-equipped force. Maximum confusion caused by integrated direct and indirect fires is the key to CSOP success. Hopefully, some of the tips or techniques outline above will help units prepare not just for rotations here at CMTC, but for possible future conflicts as well.

Streetfighting: The Rifle Platoon in MOUT
Table of Contents
Sustaining the Operational Momentum

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