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Chapter III

APPLYING DECISION-POINT TACTICS TO THE MEETING BATTLE
(Fighting the Enemy . . . Not the Plan)


Given the four Decision-Point tactics imperatives previously discussed, let's apply them specifically to a Meeting Battle. With the general background already provided, this subsequent discussion and examples will highlight aspects of each imperative specific to the Meeting Battle.

FIRST IMPERATIVE: BATTLEFIELD VISION

1. Remember, the primary means of gaining battlefield vision is through the use of the Deliberate Decision-Making Process (DDMP).1

2. From the OPFOR perspective, the meeting battle is the simplest operation to plan and execute. It is nothing more than a regimental battle drill that is completely oriented on finding and destroying enemy forces.

A. MTETT ANALYSIS: While a full Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) process is necessary, the relatively simple MTETT analysis can summarize some of the more important considerations for decision-point tactics during a meeting battle.

OPFOR considerations for each factor of MTETT:

MISSION: the meeting battle is force oriented. The OPFOR develops decision points to fix and destroy the enemy force. ALL maneuver options are specifically geared to enemy formations and their maneuver options.

TERRAIN: considerations relative to time and space that are critical to success.

  • identification of when and where initial contact will take place
  • location of the subsequent main battle area
  • identification of all possible maneuver routes
  • identification of choke points
  • identification of intervisibility lines
  • determine the impact of weather on the employment of special munitions, such as smoke and chemical agents
  • most important, identification of key terrain features that could assist in fixing and then enveloping enemy forces

The OPFOR visualizes these areas and then determines how to make the best use of the terrain to destroy the enemy.

How the enemy will use this same terrain is always considered when analyzing these factors.

ENEMY: THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR and during the meeting battle, one of the easier factors to analyze.

  • Like the OPFOR, the BLUFOR has a set doctrine advocating leading with the smallest force possible to facilitate main body maneuver options.
  • The BLUFOR normally moves with an advance guard company/team and one task force up and another task force back.
  • NOTE: Some BLUFOR units attack with two task forces abreast, normally in an attempt to assume a hasty defense. This formation is easily identified, and, therefore, easier to defeat. By coming two abreast, the units are easily fixed. Once fixed, they lose their maneuver options, thus surrendering the initiative to the OPFOR.
  • Knowing BLUFOR formations simplifies the decision process, since key decision points are triggered based on the maneuver of specific BLUFOR units.
  • The OPFOR tries to quickly determine the BLUFOR unit's level of training, specifically their ability to execute battle drills.
  • The BLUFOR commander is the hardest element to analyze, and it takes a few battles before the analysis is complete. Factors considered:
    • the ability to make quick decisions
    • the ability to communicate those decisions to subordinates
    • preferred tactics
    • aggressiveness

The OPFOR always recognizes that enemy actions will and do influence the way the OPFOR fights. On the battlefield, the enemy always gets a vote.

TIME: factors to consider:

  • movement times for both enemy and friendly forces on specific routes
  • employment times of special munitions, such as smoke and chemical agents
  • most important: how long it actually takes to conduct a battle

Example: most meeting battles take 5-8 hours, giving units more than enough time to execute an envelopment of the enemy's main body.

Tactical patience is a key concept for the OPFOR.

TROOPS:

1. The OPFOR goes through changes in personnel, training levels and equipment, like any other unit. Additionally, the OPFOR is routinely augmented by many different types of units that vary in training levels and expertise.

2. Upgrades to OPFOR and BLUFOR battlefield training systems, e.g., MILES II, SAWE, etc., are in a state of flux, and units are still attempting to determine the limitations and capabilities of these new systems. Future upgrades will keep equipment in a state of flux. Units must work hard to fully understand the systems they are fighting and employing.

3. Units must always remember these new systems do not fully replicate the actual system's capabilities and limitations.

Other aspects of analysis:

B. WARGAMING: A meeting engagement involves two moving forces. Therefore, identification of the exact location of where the battle will be fought is critical. To compensate for this uncertainty, the OPFOR wargames using the belt technique and uses movement timelines to determine three likely zones of battle:

  • base: the expected zone of battle
  • deep
  • short

MTETT analysis assists in this process. The initial decision point is based on the most likely zone where the battle will occur.

C. REHEARSALS: MORE EMPHASIS IS PLACED ON REHEARSALS THAN ON THE ACTUAL OPORD ITSELF. Well-conducted rehearsals ensure that everyone understands his role in the plan and the critical decision points for each course of action. Each potential zone of battle is rehearsed in preparation for the meeting battle.

SECOND IMPERATIVE: SUCCESSFUL RECONNAISSANCE/
COUNTER-RECONNAISSANCE OPERATIONS

Without good reconnaissance, it would be impossible to execute decision-point tactics.

  • The regimental reconnaissance normally "owns" the first decision point, which is the identification in which zone the battle will occur.
  • Since subsequent decision points occur throughout the actual execution of the battle, the reconnaissance reporting is continuous. EXAMPLE: Because both forces are maneuvering, it is absolutely critical that reconnaissance assets identify how the enemy forces react either to OPFOR maneuver or to deception operation.

THIRD IMPERATIVE: WELL-TRAINED CREWS AND PLATOONS

Decision-point tactics, especially during meeting battles, require decentralized execution. To successfully achieve decentralized execution, every unit must have crews and platoons that can:

  • react on short notice
  • execute simple battle drills
  • terrain-navigate
  • report accurately

The OPFOR's success in executing meeting battle maneuver doctrine is based primarily on its well-trained crews and platoons.

FOURTH IMPERATIVE: EFFECTIVE DECEPTION OPERATIONS

During the meeting battle, the ability to deceive is only necessary for a short period of time.

Deception Goal: to deceive the opposing commander about what element he is fighting (e.g., CRPs, FSE, AGMB, main body, etc.).

Technique: To achieve this goal, the OPFOR employs the following:

  • deceptive radio traffic
  • separation times/distances between maneuver units (within doctrine constraints)
  • smoke

Lack of BLUFOR understanding of the number and type of vehicles in each maneuver element contributes to the OPFOR's successful deception.

Example: The BLUFOR advance guard company may believe it has destroyed the FSE and is now fixing the OPFOR advanced guard main body. In reality, it has only destroyed the CRPs, and is fixing the FSE.

Result: This allows the OPFOR AGMB and 1st echelon to maneuver freely to envelop the lead and trail BLUFOR task forces. _________________

1 OPFOR receives its initial warning order 45 days prior to execution. The warning order comes in the form of combat battle instructions (CBIs). The CBI outlines OPFOR missions, forces available and area of operations for every mission. This allows the OPFOR to do a full DDMP for each mission. Back


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