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LESSON LEARNED: Heavy-light operations require not only a complete understanding of the capabilities and limitations of each force by the other, but they must actually train together.

"Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times." -- (Niccolo Machiavelli: Discorsi, 1531)

Heavy-light operations are effective when the strengths of one part of the force is used to complement the limitations of the other. Without complementary actions heavy-light operations fail.

Successful heavy-light combined arms operations require training and practice to be effective. All parts of the force must learn and practice to exploit the capabilities of the other parts of the force and minimize the limitations.

Light forces are particullarly effective when used as part of the combined arms team. Also, light forces are effective in economy of force operations and operations with the intent of denying terrain to an enemy force. Light forces, with proper augmentation based on METT-T, allow the maneuver commander freedom to employ armored and mechanized forces elsewhere on the battlefield.

During a recent heavy- light engagement at a Combat Training Center, a light infantry task force augmented with a tank team and heavy engineers was able to seize and clear a heavily fortified piece of restricted terrain and allow the armor and mech task forces of the brigade to pass through to seize the brigade objective.

In the defense, light forces can be positioned to block enemy avenues of approach and the heavy forces used to push the enemy force into light force engagement areas, or to allow the light forces to attack into the enemy flank. This capitalizes on the light forces abilities to use cover and concealment to engage and defeat the enemy attack at their optimum ranges. An enemy force unable to predict or know where the friendly force is cannot mass fire power and mobility against them.

Light forces can be employed by heavy forces to conduct raids and ambushes, operations in restricted urban terrain, as well as rear battle operations.

Heavy forces are most effective when they can use their mobility, agility, and firepower to seize terrain and destroy heavy forces. Heavy forces are vulnerable against a force that they cannot see or maneuver against.

Heavy and light forces together can shape and restrict the battlefield to expose the vulnerabilities of the enemy force and cause the defeat from the strengths of the heavy-light force.

Modern mechanized and armored forces rely on speed, mobility and firepower to defeat their opponent. The first to fire is frequently the victor.

Armored and mechanized forces seek to engage targets at the maximum ranges of their weapons systems. Engagements are fast moving and cover large areas of the battlefield as opponents maneuver to offset the lethality of modern weapons systems and gain an advantage over their opposition.

Light forces rely on concealment and sudden, violent actions to surprise, shock, and destroy their foe. They attempt to deny the enemy freedom of maneuver or the opportunity to fight back.

Position light forces where they cannot be attacked beyond the range of their organic weapons. Light forces cannot survive a fight in the open against a mobile enemy that can see and engage them beyond the range of light force weapons.

Heavy-light operations provide flexibility to the maneuver commander by taking advantage of the unique capabilities of both parts of the force. Effective employment of heavy and light force together is difficult unless both parts of the force know and understand the capabilities and limitations of the other part. Understanding is achieved with training and practice.

Table of Contents
Historical Perspective
LESSONS LEARNED: Employment of Light Forces



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