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The 24 hour a day war demands that TOC personnel be trained in all aspects of the TOC operation. The current method of organizing into shifts may not be the best way to facilitate continuous operations or in-depth training of organic and attached personnel.

Many of our exercises don't have a lot happening at night, so the night shift doesn't get much opportunity to practice their skills. Because of this, there is a tendency to put the more junior and inexperienced people on that shift.

Shift changeovers can cause a loss of continuity during an operation. No matter how good the changeover briefing is, there will be something lost. The shift schedule also gets disrupted because of TOC displacements which should occur frequently.

No Breaks For the TOC

There aren't going to be any breaks in the battle, especially where TOCs are concerned. The planning, coordinating, and controlling of the battle will always be occurring.

The Soviets are organized to conduct continuous operations by use of echeloned forces, operational maneuver groups, and day and night attacks.

The continuous operations concept applies equally to LIC scenarios. Our own experience shows that you cannot let the enemy control the night.

Given austere manning, especially at Bde and Bn levels, everyone has to be productive. FC 71-6, Battalion and Brigade Command and Control, Appendix B, gives some good guidelines on what the duties of each person in the TOC should be (use FM 71-3, The Armor and Mechanized Infantry Brigade, for Bde CP functions and organization). Also, all TOC personnel must understand the commander's concept and intent and what is supposed to happen at TAIs and NAIs. Supervisory personnel must be able to make basic tactical decisions, based on the situation, in the absence (for whatever the reason) of key leaders. NCOs and junior officers must be more than RTOs or map posters.

Alternative To Set Shifts

Consider staggering individuals in and out of the TOC versus formal shifts. Pages 2-40 and 2-41 of FM 71-3 provide additional information on this subject. This method can eliminate the continuity problem and make it easier to adjust for peak workloads and TOC displacements. Training is also facilitated as the inexperienced people are integrated throughout the operation. Don't forget your slice guys (ADA, Engr, FA, etc) in this plan. This idea for continuous operations is applicable at any echelon as well as at the TAC, MAIN and REAR CPs.


During several major field training exercises, attacking OPFOR units have gained significant tactical advantage over defending units by capturing key bridges which were division or brigade reserve obstacles (reserved demolition targets). Attacking Soviet forces or other enemy forces using Soviet tactics will also try to capture bridges. FM 100-2-1, The Soviet Army, Operations and Tactics, chapters 4 and 5, states that an attacking Soviet division may use a heliborne force of up to battalion size and forward detachments (normally reinforced tank battalions) to capture key terrain features such as defiles, bridges, or river-crossing sites.


In most cases, bridges were captured because demolition guard forces and demolition firing parties had not conducted prerequisite training and, consequently, did not clearly understand their missions and responsibilities. Commanders can help prevent the capture of critical reserve obstacles by ensuring:

  • Maneuver and engineer units conduct combined arms training on the proper execution of reserve obstacles. (Basic doctrine is in FM 5-25, Explosives and Demolitions, ch 4, and FM 5-102, Countermobility, ch 3.)

  • Demolition guard forces and demolition firing parties understand their responsibilities to include:

    • Demolition guard commander: Responsible for the tactical command of all troops at the reserve obstacle site (guard force and firing party), security, preparing the obstacle for demolition, transmitting the demolition order to the firing party commander, and the successful execution of the reserve obstacle.

    • Demolition guard force: Responsible for protecting the reserve obstacle and preventing enemy capture prior to execution.

    • Demolition firing party commander (normally a combat engineer officer or NCO): Responsible for the technical control of the demolition and is in charge of technical preparation, charging, and firing of the demolition.

    • Demolition firing party (normally comprised of combat engineers): Responsible for the technical preparation, charging, and firing of the demolition.

  • Demolition guard forces and firing parties understand enemy tactics and capabilities concerning the use of airborne, heliborne, ground, and unconventional forces to rapidly seize reserve obstacle sites and other key terrain features.

Insufficient Guard Forces

In other cases, bridges were captured during surprise OPFOR attacks because demolition guard forces were not of sufficient strength and size to prevent capture before authorizing commanders gave their demolition orders; or to delay the OPFOR for the period of time needed by the firing parties to successfully fire the demolitions after demolition orders were given. Commanders must ensure that adequate manpower and other resources (communications support, fire support, etc.) are allocated to guard and properly execute carefully selected reserve obstacles.

Confusing Instructions and Inadequate Communications

In the remaining cases, demolition guard commanders were given confusing instructions on when and on whose order bridges were to be blown and had lost radio communications with their authorizing commanders. Consequently, the demolition guard commanders failed to order the firing party commanders to fire the demolitions, and the OPFOR captured the bridges. An authorizing commander must establish a clearly understood communication channel (radio, written, personal), whereby the order to fire the demolition is transmitted to the demolition guard commander, ensure that this channel is known and understood by all concerned, and specify whether the demolition guard commander is authorized to order the firing of the demolition if the enemy is in the act of capturing the reserve obstacle site.


The problem of who should command and control the field artillery supporting a covering force (CF) in the defense has plagued maneuver and field artillery commanders for a long time. FM 100-5, Operations, p 146, in the discussion of covering forces used in the tactical defense states, "Corps and division commanders may establish a covering force as the first echelon of a two-echelon defense . . . Corps and division operations officers monitor covering force operations and ensure their synchronization with deep operations. Above all, covering force operations must be an integral part of the overall defensive plan." FM 6-20, Fire Support in Combined Arms Operations, para 4-11, states that C2 of field artillery units should be established to provide maximum support to the covering force area (CFA), yet maintain a degree of flexibility to ensure a smooth transition to the MBA mission.

Soviets Don't Give You A Break

These concerns expressed in FM 6-20 are critical when put in the context of Soviet tactics for an attack against a defending enemy. The Soviets stress continuous operations without breaks in the attack. They implement their concept through echelonment of forces, which allows the defender no respite from the onslaught of the attacking forces. If the field artillery commander for the CF and the MBA artillery commander are the same individual, he and his headquarters must fight the CF battle, conduct a passage of lines, and then fight the MBA battle. While fighting the CF battle and conducting a rearward passage of lines, he must focus on the coming MBA fight and perform his planning and coordination responsibilities for the MBA commander. The dichotomy of focus may stress the artillery commander and his headquarters to the point where they are unable to fight either battle well.

FA Brigade Works

An FA headquarters that should be considered as the CF artillery headquarters is the FA brigade. FM 6-20-2J, Division Artillery, Field Artillery Brigade, and Corps Artillery Headquarters, states that an FA brigade headquarters can be used as the CF artillery headquarters if the CF is an ACR/separate brigade under corps control or if the CF is established under division control. On REFORGER 85, a CF was established by the corps and the FA headquarters used was a FA brigade headquarters. This command and control organization, according to V Corps, proved very effective and allowed the DIVARTY commander and his headquarters to focus on the MBA. The DIVARTY commander was able to work closely with the division commander on the fire support plan for the division in the MBA. The FA brigade headquarters focused on the CFA. This command arrangement facilitated management of the covering force and provided a smooth transition to the MBA.

Things To Consider

The FA brigade headquarters may also be used effectively as the CG artillery headquarters for a division CF if the brigade has been attached to the division. Commanders -- consider using the FA brigade as a force artillery headquarters. It can be either attached to the covering force (with all supporting artillery attached to it and thus under the command and control of the CF commander) or placed DS to the covering force (thus remaining under the command and control of the overall force artillery headquarters). Remember that it doesn't have an FSE or target acquisition assets, so it may have to be augmented with those assets. Use this asset to the fullest, rather than only as an alternate DIVARTY HQ.


The BCE organization has been validated by formation of BCEs during joint exercises. The most recent exercises, BRIM FROST 85 (Alaska), TEAM SPIRIT 86 (Korea), and BOLD EAGLE 86 (Southwest Asia scenario), showed that the BCE, operating using doctrine and procedures found in TRADOC PAM 525-45, General Operating Procedures for Joint Attack of the Second Echelon (J-SAK) and FC 100-26, Air-Ground Operations, is valuable in coordinating efforts between the Army and Air Force commanders. These BCEs were formed by the land force commander using personnel who were given additional training on the Air-Ground Operating System (AGOS). One noted weakness was the lack of expertise by Army personnel on USAF electronic warfare capabilities.

What It Does

The BCE is the Army coordination element located at the Air Force Tactical Air Control Center (TACC). It consists of an Operations Division and a Plans Division. Additionally, the ARLOs and GLOs, with specific air force units, work for the BCE. FC 100-26 (Appendix A) explains in detail the organization and functions of the BCE. The purpose of the BCE is to monitor and analyze the land battle for the TACC and provide the necessary airland interface for the exchange of current intelligence and operational data with the land component commander and a single or multiple corps. It publishes the air tasking order, which includes airspace management information such as the reserved airspace for Army aviation that operates above the coordinating altitude. The pay-off for the Army is not only that the BCE is totally linked with the land force commander, but that there is a large Army element located at the TACC which can translate and interpret the requests and needs from all echelons (i.e., division, brigade, and battalion) into action by air assets.

Current Actions For Full BCE Implementation

HQ TRADOC is taking action to forward the BCE TOE to HQDA for inclusion on the DA master schedule with the recommendation to drop the test designation. The C3I Directorate, CACDA, Ft Leavenworth, is developing the hardware and software for automation of the BCE. HQ TRADOC has recommended that five BCEs be included in the AOE force structure for possible implementation in FY 88.

What To Do Now

Pending approval of the BCE TOE, commands which need a BCE can form one. Commanders in the field have formed BCEs by three methods (MTOE, TDA, and temporarily out-of-hide).

More information on these methods is available from CALL. In order to be effective, the BCE personnel should be well trained on their duties and very familiar with current J-SAK and AGOS doctrine and procedures. Special attention must be given to familiarity with USAF electronic warfare capabilities.

Help Needed

Once the TOE is approved, help is needed from the field to correct any deficiencies that are in the TOE. A couple of potential deficiencies appear to be the lack of organic transportation for the BCE personnel and the need for an EW section. Additionally, the BCE will have to operate in a manual mode pending the fielding of the automated system in a few years. The RATT support for the BCE is already present in the Corps Radio Battalion, Command Radio Company, (FM 11-92, Combat Communications Within the Corps, p 6-4; FC 11-92, Combat Communications Within the Corps, p 3-70).


There is conflicting doctrine in the field delineating the security responsibility for the Brigade Support Area (BSA) under the J-series TOE. The Armor and Infantry Schools and the LOGCEN have not reached agreement on this subject. For example, the interim coordinating draft of FM 71-3, The Armor and Mechanized Infantry Brigade, ch 7, (co-authored by the Armor and the Infantry Schools) states that the Forward Support Battalion (FSB) "plans and conducts rear operations for level I and II rear battle threats for elements within the BSA." The LOGCEN does not endorse this concept. According to FM 63-20, Forward Support Battalion, dtd 17 May 1985, ch 3, "The FSB provides its own security and assists in the security of the BSA. Surveillance and security for those areas in the BSA which are not essential to the accomplishment of the FSB mission are the responsibility of the supported brigade." The dichotomy of this issue centers on the degree of responsibility invested with the FSB commander for the security of the BSA. Until this doctrinal issue is resolved, here is a solution that has worked well for some maneuver brigades.

The brigade commander designates the FSB commander as the BSA commander with full responsibility and authority. (Since the FSB is not a part of the brigade, a key player in this concept is the DISCOM commander. He must approve this arrangement to make it work.)

The FSB commander then establishes a Rear Command Post complex consisting of the FSB command section and the FSB support operation section. The Brigade S4 and S1 sections co-locate in the Rear CP complex. The primary function of the rear CP is to sustain the battle. Other responsibilities include:

  • Conduct rear battle operations (level I and II only) for elements within the BSA.

  • Allocate space and security requirements for battalion field trains.

  • Plan, conduct, and execute the displacement of the BSA.

The brigade S4/S1 will continue to be the CSS planners for the brigade commander and translate the brigade commander's intent into CSS concepts of support. This section also maintains continuous contact with the brigade XO to ensure adequacy of CSS operations.

Table of Contents
Call To Arms
Terrain Alteration

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