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Chapter IV

(Fighting the Enemy . . . Not the Plan)

Now let's apply the imperatives of decision-point tactics to defensive operations, highlighting those aspects of each imperative specifically to planning, preparing and executing the defense.


A. MTETT ANALYSIS: Here again MTETT can summarize some of the more important considerations for decision-point tactics during a defense. This analysis is critical for determining the basic conditions and norms used in the wargame.

Technique: Since inaccurate analysis leads to invalid results, include several alternatives and options, and they all should include the enemy perspective.

Critical considerations for each factor:

MISSION: The security zone is also force oriented, with tasks either to delay, disrupt or destroy attacking enemy forces. The large sector associated with the security zone implies that the defending force must maneuver to achieve mass on the attacking force.

Therefore, maneuver decision points are developed, based on expected enemy actions.

TERRAIN: Time and space are especially critical for the security zone

  • identification of all possible maneuver routes
  • identification of choke points
  • identification of intervisibility lines
  • identification of key and decisive terrain features that could assist in delaying, disrupting or destroying enemy forces

Normal OPFOR sector sizes range from 20 to 30 kilometers in depth and 6 to 20 kilometers in width. Doctrinal depth and width, in contrast, are 20 - 50 kms in depth and 5 - 10 kms in width.

The attacking force has the initial advantage because it dictates the initial area of battle.

Technique: The OPFOR attempts to visualize the potential initial areas of the battlefield to then determine how to make the best use of the terrain to delay, disrupt, or destroy the enemy.

For the example scenario, the MRB commander conducted the following terrain analysis (reference terrain orientation map below). The sector is 20 km at its widest point and the distance from FLOT to rear boundary is 29 km. Examination of the sector reveals that the first defensible terrain runs roughly north and south from Brown (NK350165) and Debnam (NK305150) passes to Hill 899 (NK317088). The terrain to the west is indefensible because the Matterhorn splits the sector. By establishing initial positions just to the east of this terrain, the MRB is able to establish fire sacks on the reverse slope and at natural choke points. The sector chokes down to approximately seven km vicinity the Iron Triangle (NK430155), Hill 780 (NK438117) and Chod Hill. Major avenues of approach included Brown and Debnam Passes, the Colorado Wash, and the south wall vicinity Hill 899. The approach north of the Matterhorn (NK265155) is flat and fast while the approach south of the Matterhorn along the Washboard is broken and slow. Key terrain includes the Goat Trail (NK365176), Brown Pass, Debnam Pass, Colorado Wash (NK285123), Hill 899, and Hidden Valley (NK410080). All of the key terrain represents major avenues of approach or areas vital to flank security. Decisive terrain was identified as the Iron Triangle and Hill 780. If these two pieces of terrain were lost, the enemy would be able to place direct fires on the first echelon defense.

Chp4fig1.gif - 104.9 K

ENEMY: Again, THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR, and during security zone operation, one of the hardest to analyze.

Two key variables that trigger key decision points:

  • during a security zone the enemy has the initiative
  • because of the size of the sector, he normally has numerous options, both in formations used and avenue of approaches available

The security zone, by design, is a high risk mission.


1. Identify and wargame all potential enemy courses of action; not just the top three.

2. Analyze the BLUFOR unit's training level, most specifically, their ability to execute battle drills.

3. Analyze the BLUFOR commander (the most difficult analysis) using the following criteria:

-- ability to make quick decisions
-- ability to successfully communicate those decisions to subordinates
-- preferred tactics, i.e., two abreast; one up/one back, etc.
-- preferred movement speeds
-- preferred use of combat multipliers

For the example scenario, enemy forces consisted of two task forces (TF) with a combined combat potential of 58 M1A1s and 68 M2s (10 of which were Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicles) along with 150 dismounts. Reconnaissance assets included 20 scout HMMWVs and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The UAV poses some unique problems. The MRB could set out counter-reconnaissance against the scouts, but there was nothing active it could do to hinder the UAV (Note: This was an ROE shortfall that has since been corrected). However, deception could potentially work well against it. The MRB needs to show the enemy what he wants to see. Since this was the first battle of the rotation, there was very little information available on how the brigade commander preferred to fight. However, the unit's reputation from previous rotations highlighted a unit that could move quickly, fight well, and adequately integrate their combat multipliers. In short, it would be prudent not to accept risk initially because the enemy had shown the ability to take advantage of opportunities. The analysis also identified seven potential enemy courses of action against the initial positions and two courses of actions against subsequent positions. These courses of action will be addressed in more detail below.

TIME: For security zone operations, this is especially critical because of

  • the large sector
  • the requirement to withdraw to subsequent positions

Technique: For executing the required delay tactics

1. The delay is time specific, which, therefore, dictates the criteria and the method of fighting. The commander is forced to balance preservation of force against attempting to gain more time at a particular battle position.

2. Key planning and execution considerations:

-- movement times for both enemy and friendly forces on specific routes
-- movement from hide positions to fighting positions
-- time required to employ special munitions such as FASCAM, smoke and chemical agents

For the example scenario, the mission required the MRB to delay enemy forces for 18 hours. The long delay time, coupled with the relatively shallow sector depth and the expected aggressive enemy attack, forced the MRB to plan on a force destruction task and not assume the enemy would be halted with limited engagements and losses. Estimation of withdrawal times from seven minutes to fifteen minutes was based on terrain analysis and experience until an actual rehearsal could be conducted on the ground. Enemy rates of march were estimated to be much faster on an approach march north of the Matterhorn than south of it because of the rough terrain in the Washboard. Because of this, the MRB would potentially have much less time to react to an attack through Brown or Debnam Pass than an attack across the Washboard (i.e., 30 min travel time on northern avenues and 60 min travel time over the Washboard). Movement out of hide positions would take from five to ten minutes so an early read on the enemy's approach would be necessary. Finally, because of the amount of time it takes to strikewarn and fire FASCAM and persistent chemicals (30 and 45 minues respectively), decision points for each would have to be established. The MRB was given 36 hours to complete all preparation (this includes the digging of all one-tier and two-tier fighting positions as well as emplacement of all obstacles) and rehearsals.

TROOPS: In addition to the considerations discussed earlier, the following information is pertinent to the example scenario:

The MRB consisted of four MRCs with a combat potential of 13 T-80s and 26 BMP 2s. Also attached were three AT-5s (anti-tank missile BRDMs), two 2A45s (anti-tank guns), and 200 infantry.

Veteran MRC commanders could command the initial positions and their MRCs would be doing most of the displacing and maneuvering. The more junior MRC commanders could defend subsequent positions.

AT5s would be critical to assisting in the withdrawal because of their long engagement range fires capabilities.

This would be the augmentee infantry's first fight; therefore, the MRB commander limited their movement requirements and placed them in strong flank positions along critical avenues of approach.

Other aspects of analysis:

B. WARGAMING: Security zone operations must consider all possible enemy courses of action. Consequently, the wargame takes a lot more time for security zone missions. Each of these courses of action must be wargamed and the conditions needed to execute decision-point tactics identified during this process. The belt technique is used for this scenario, and two major zones of battle were identified.



Specific to security zone missions is the necessity of successful counter-reconnaissance operations throughout the sector to hinder the enemy's decisionmaking process and further enhance deception operations.


As with any other mission, the OPFOR's success in security zone operations is based primarily on its well-trained crews and platoons.


Deception is especially critical for security zone battles.


1. Use of deception turrets and obstacles.

2. Effective deception positions can force the enemy to deploy early and commit resources and combat multipliers. Result: This buys time for the OPFOR.

3. Successful deception further results in confirmation of the BLUFOR S2s template. Example: If the BLUFOR S2 reconnaissance identifies templated forces/obstacles, the BLUFOR S2 is more apt to accept the report, even if the report is not totally substantiated.

4. Deception EW traffic is also developed to reinforce visual deception operations.

5. Fires and smoke also assist in the deception efforts.
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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias