TREND 1: Use of dismounted infantry squads. Mechanized infantry and armor company/team commanders often do not adequately plan for the use of infantry squads with mounted forces in either offensive or defensive operations.
1. Infantry squads slow the tempo of the operation.
2. Infantry squads have insufficient Class V (i.e., AT weapons, hand grenades, and machine gun ammo) as well as inadequate obstacle breach kits to make them effective for their assigned task.
3. Infantry squads lack effective communication methods.
4. Infantry squads create a safety hazard when moving among maneuvering vehicles (being run over or fratricide from mounted weapons, to include sabot petals).
5. The company team commander does not identify the best enemy target for the infantry squads (i.e., enemy infantry, ambush sites, reconnaissance patrols or observation posts) or plan dismount, remount, or deployment locations.
6. Infantry squads only provide close-in support to the Bradley Fighting Vehicles (BFVs).
7. Infantry squad leaders lack experience, and squads have worked together for less than 90 days.
1. Mechanized infantry squads are repeatedly destroyed (usually while on board their BFV) through insufficient planning and rehearsals, a disregard for needed support, and hasty execution during the battle.
2. The role of mechanized infantrymen is in jeopardy as generations of BFV squads do not meet minimum MTP standards for performance or train to their capabilities as prescribed in FM 7-7J and FM 71-1.
Techniques: The most effective infantry squad is one that has the support of the task force commander and planning attention of the company commander. The remainder of the armored force can only benefit from the successes of infantry actions. Mechanized infantry and armor commanders at all levels must train and employ infantry squads to reverse this trend. Task force commanders must meet the challenge of planning employment of the infantry in conjunction with mounted forces. The following recommendations address the most often heard excuses:
1. Infantry squads slow the tempo of the operation. Plan the operation at task force for the infantry squads to have a specific task and purpose to support the task force commander's intent. Each mechanized infantry company can support the deployment of its own infantry squads if they are given an attainable task and purpose. Mechanized infantry platoon capabilities and limitations are given in FM 71-1 (26 Jan 98) on pages 1-7 and 1-8. The missions that mechanized infantry squads execute successfully most often are:
- Task: Clear a defile. Purpose: To destroy enemy overwatch elements and facilitate movement. This operation succeeds with BFV support, a detailed, repetitious rehearsal of the actual clear mission, a resourced fire support plan, and engineer squads supporting the ground force (See CALL Quarterly Bulletin 97-20, "The Defile Breach: TTPs").
- Task: Suppress a motorized rifle platoon. Purpose: To prevent fires on the main effort. This task includes securing a FO team to adjust indirect fires (to include smoke) onto the point of penetration and/or breach point. This mission also supports an infiltration by the infantry. The endstate for this mission is that enemy forces overwatching a key area (entrance to a chokepoint, an obstacle, a flank of the BP, etc.) are destroyed, suppressed, or obscured (See CALL Quarterly Bulletin 96-1, "Route Clearance Operations: Using Dismounted Infantry In The Attack").
- Task: Establish an OP. Purpose: To provide indirect fires and reconnaissance on the enemy forces. This surveillance mission secures a FO party to direct accurate artillery fires or CAS and uses infantry squads to secure the position and repel counter-recon forces.
- Task: Destroy enemy recon forces. Purpose: To prevent detection of the main body. This mission is an active patrolling operation. Most often, the walls of the main maneuver corridors are not patrolled with any regularity. An infantry patrol, with an indirect fire plan resourced with task force mortars, will detect and destroy enemy recon assets. Patrols can also culminate the morning of the fight in an OP to report progress of attacking forces forward of the BPs (See CALL Quarterly Bulletin 96-7, "The Mechanized Counter-recon Battle: A Company Team Perspective").
2. Infantry squads have insufficient Class V (i.e., AT weapons, hand grenades, and machine gun ammo) as well as inadequate obstacle breach kits to make them effective for their assigned task. Infantry leaders must anticipate, request, and follow-up on the types of Class V they need to succeed. "MRE-bag" hand grenades (manufactured IAW NTC ROE) are often forgotten. Demolitions kits are frequently inadequate despite implied tasks for infantry squads to breach in the absence of engineer support. Task Force S4s must relentlessly request support to infantry squads if they are going to accomplish their task and purpose.
3. Infantry squads lack effective communication methods. Provide a SINCGARS radio to each squad or infantry unit operating out of the BFV to communicate with the mounted element, using the AN/PRC 126s for inter-squad and platoon traffic. Radios can be the most effective weapon for a squad, especially if properly placed. Also, when vehicles are destroyed, it facilitates the squad's extraction from the battlefield.
4. Infantry squads create a safety hazard when moving among maneuvering vehicles (fratricide). This myth has frozen mounted commanders in fear for years. Proper rehearsals, graphic control measures, redundant communications, understanding of surface danger zones and control of the moving infantry element reduce the hazard of individuals moving among vehicles. This reiterates the need for task force commanders to rehearse dismounted actions at task force rehearsals to increase awareness of all leaders.
5. The company leadership did not identify the best enemy target for the infantry squads (i.e., enemy infantry, an ambush site, enemy reconnaissance) and did not plan dismount or deployment locations. Commanders did not identify the most vulnerable target for the infantry. A well-positioned infantry force often goes undetected in the midst of a mass of armored vehicles, exposing the enemy to the infantry before they can protect themselves. Enemy infantry most often outnumber friendly infantry, which makes them an unfavorable target to engage. Early in the IPB process, look first for targets that will be vulnerable to infantry and plan to support their employment against those targets.
6. Infantry squads only provide close-in support to the BFVs. The role of the BFV is to support infantry rifle platoons and squads (FM 7-7J, pg.1-2), yet commanders are constantly reversing it. FM 7-7J is written with that basic assumption in mind; do not confuse the definition and it will prevent confusion on the battlefield.
7. Infantry squad leaders lack experience, and the squad has only worked together for 90 days or less. Basic infantry drill training and communication are the key ingredients needed to produce an effective fighting force. Training at NTC will provide the opportunity to hone the rest of the squad's skills.
Position/Reposition Forces (Units and Equipment)
TREND 2: Task force use of dismounted infantry.
PROBLEM: Task forces do not effectively use their dismounted infantry. They normally always plan for the use of their M2 Bradleys, but if they plan for the use of dismounts, it is usually an afterthought.
Technique: Lack of emphasis on use of dismounts is often due in part to manning shortfalls in mechanized units. However, even those units that are above 80% in manning have generally not trained to utilize their dismounts in their doctrinal role. Units should conduct Home Station exercises which include planning for and employing dismounted infantry.
Position/Reposition Forces (Units and Equipment)
TREND 3: Actions on Contact. Units too often become quickly combat ineffective upon contact with the enemy.
PROBLEM: Units have exhibited a general inability to execute their plans effectively. This is especially true once the unit is in direct fire contact with the enemy. Once in contact:
- Units do not use the terrain to their advantage.
- Units do not make full, effective use of fires, smoke, and other combat multipliers.
- Units are invariably "surprised" when the actual enemy disposition is not exactly what they had envisioned in the planning process.
RESULT: Rapid attrition and mission not accomplished.
1. Units must not rely on the planning process to arrive at the best tactical solution. Branch schools should emphasize that effective use of METT-T should drive the planning process. The doctrinal processes themselves will not ensure tactical success. They are only effective if the planners and commanders first understand the nature of the battlefield (METT-T).
2. Units must get to the field for frequent, routine Home Station training at company/team and task force levels. Until we educate our commanders on the true nature of the battlefield and afford them the opportunity to work with their units in a realistic environment, no process will produce success.
Conduct Close Combat)
TREND 4: Attack Helicopter Engagement area development. The overall goal of attack helicopter operations is to destroy enemy formations in a given engagement area. To accomplish this goal, the battalion staff must understand and exercise the eight step engagement area development process (FM 1-112, chapter 3).
1. Units commonly fail to conduct appropriate IPB which causes the attack unit to "miss" the enemy in the indicated engagement area.
2. Units commonly fail to properly integrate the massed effects of direct fire systems with other battlefield operating systems (BOSs) in the engagement area.
RESULT: The effectiveness of the attack helicopter unit is significantly reduced.
1. The resources expended and risks associated with attack helicopter operations are substantial. From deep attacks behind a mature enemy front line trace (EFLT) to attacks against firstechelon forces in the main battle area (MBA), success is based on detailed planning and development of the engagement area.
2. Although the process involves eight steps, the following paragraphs highlight two steps which are commonly neglected.
a. STEP 1 - IPB: The S2 begins the process of IPB given primary and alternate engagement areas.
1) The S2 should concentrate, initially, on answering the following five questions, which, when answered, will yield the enemy's most probable COA:
- Where is the enemy currently located?
- Where is the enemy going?
- Where can we best engage the enemy?
- When will the enemy be there?
- What weapons systems does the enemy have that can affect the unit?
2) It is imperative that the S2 provide the best prediction possible of where the enemy will go. This provides focus for planning and should lead to a primary COA with branches.
3) The S2 must also predict how the formation will look (i.e., number of vehicles, types of formations, march speeds, etc.) during movement through NAIs and on arrival at the engagement area.
4) Finally, the S2 must predict how the enemy will react at TAIs and under direct fire in the engagement area. The S2 provides a description of these reactions (in detail) while wargaming integration of the engagement area.
5) Upon determination of where the unit should attack the enemy, the S2 must quickly determine the collection assets that are available. The S2 considers the following:
- Sensor capabilities (accuracy, required redundancy, etc.).
-- Higher headquarter's collection plan and priorities for sensors.
-- Sensor scheduling (do the JSTARS, UAV, SOF, etc., schedules coincide with the attack unit's requirement for coverage?)
-- Is there real-time down link to the requesting unit?
-- Is there overlapping coverage on critical NAIs, and do we have the capability to shift sensor orientation as the formation proceeds to subsequent NAIs?
- Where is the intel handover line (where will higher headquarters hand over the NAI tracking responsibility to the attack unit? This is critical in determining scheme of maneuver).
- Do the NAIs support Redcon level upgrades?
-- Do the NAIs support time/distance requirements from the AA/HA to initial ABF positions?
-- Are NAIs covered by ground maneuver brigade assets, and, if so, do we have appropriate links?
6) Answers to these considerations allow the S2 to establish a realistic decision support template for employment of the attack battalion.
b. STEP 2 - Integration of the engagement area: In short, adequate integration of the engagement area ensures all available BOS assets are considered and employed to ensure maximum destruction of the enemy formation at a given engagement area.
1) Intelligence: As discussed earlier, the S2 must provide accurate predictions of how the enemy formation will look when it enters the engagement area. The S2 must be prepared to present enemy actions during the staff's wargame of events at the engagement area:
- Rates of march (how long the enemy will be visible).
- Key terrain (that affords the enemy advantages for specific avenues of approach).
- When and how the enemy will conduct counter-engagements.
- When and where indirect fire can affect attack-by-fire positions.
- Where the dead space is in the engagement area.
2) Maneuver: The battalion S3 determines where and when direct fire systems can best be used against the enemy formation the S2 describes.
- The S3 establishes initial attack-by-fire positions at a primary weapon range (i.e., Hellfire missile) that will ensure a 75% probability of hit (Ph).
- The S3 must consider alternate and subsequent attack-by-fire positions in the objective area.
- If ground maneuver forces are attached or OPCON and will attack into the same engagement area as air maneuver forces, then the S3 must consider fire distribution and deconfliction of fire between the two forces.
- Finally, the S2 and S3 wargame friendly actions versus enemy reactions and determine where in the engagement area artillery, CAS, mortars, obstacles, etc., are needed to shape the battlespace for the direct fire fight.
3) Following the wargame: The following questions must be considered:
- What is the end state of the indirect fire plan?
- How much artillery/CAS/mortars are available for employment in the engagement area?
- Who will initiate fires?
- How will the unit shift fires?
- Who will clear fires once the direct fire fight begins?
4) Additional considerations: The staff must also consider and integrate the company commander's direct fire plan from given attack-by-fire positions and the effects of obscurants in the engagement areas.
5) Extended range deep attacks: Employment of joint nonlethal EW may be the only direct fire complement to the extended range engagement area. Commo and radar jamming can be very effective in and around the engagement area, particularly during ingress to initial attack-by-fire positions and attack of critical ADA targets and in support of movement to subsequent attack-by-fire positions.
3. Attack battalion staffs should practice wargaming engagement areas using large scale terrain models.
a. The FSO should be a participant during the wargaming so he can provide answers early for what indirect fires can and cannot do.
b. After the unit feels comfortable with the general concept on a terrain model, they should practice on cartoon sketches which represent terrain, ABFs, enemy formations, etc.
c. As an end state, the staff should be able to wargame the engagement area using a 1:50,000 map.
d. While practicing the wargame technique, the staff should record techniques that work best.
4. The S2 should keep a battle book of sensor capabilities and enemy orders of battle to expedite the IPB process.
5. The FSO should record potential essential fire support tasks that become evident during practice engagement area wargaming.
TREND 5: Company/team use of direct fires during offensive missions.
1. In the offense, company/team commanders seldom conduct advanced planning for the use of direct fires during maneuver.
2. Commanders have only graphic control measures to control fires.
RESULT: Commanders must attempt to execute supporting fire while in contact.
1. The focus of offensive fires is to control and distribute those fires while on the move against a generally static enemy. Company/team commanders must have an offensive fire plan to maximize the principles of direct fire and allow the commander to focus, distribute, and shift fires (see FM 71-1, Chap 2&3; FM 17-12-1/2; FM 23-1; CALL Special Study Mar 98, Closing With The Enemy, and SH 7-45, available through the CALL homepage).
2. Company/team commanders can control offensive direct fires with the same tools that are used in the defense:
a. Engagement areas (EAs)
b. Target reference points (TRPs)
c. Fire patterns
d. Fire commands
3. The offensive fire plan should provide the company/team commander the ability to orient his force and transition it from a moving force to a base of fire and maneuver.
a. There are several techniques that can assist the commander in planning and controlling his direct fires, including:
- Target Array
- Closest TRP
- Fire Patterns
b. The first four techniques use TRPs to control fires.
- TRPs assist in focusing fires on a point, on multiple points, or an area.
- They may be oriented on either enemy or terrain.
- They are preplanned to support the scheme of maneuver.
- Some TRPs are planned on enemy positions or surrounding terrain to focus platoon fires against the enemy. Others are planned on terrain features throughout the zone of attack. This allows flexibility controlling fires if the actual enemy disposition does not match the SITEMP, or in the event of chance contact.
Employ Direct Fire)
TREND 6: Use of BFV-mounted TOW. Units seldom capitalize on use of TOW launchers mounted on M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles (BFVs).
PROBLEM: TOW fires from M2s account for relatively very few kills when compared to tank and 25mm fires. The inadequacy of the MILES II TOW apparatus for the M2 is a contributing factor; however, the main reason for so few kills, according to statistics in AARs, is that units rarely attempt to engage with TOWs. The few units that show some success in killing with TOWs do so because they plan for it.
Procedure: Recommend the Infantry School place more emphasis on the employment of Bradley TOWs to kill enemy tanks.
Employ Direct Fire)
TREND 7: Use of Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle (BSFV) in ground support role. Bradley STINGER Fighting Vehicle (BSFV) platoons too often do not adequately integrate with company/teams to perform their secondary role of defense of battle positions.
PROBLEM: BSFV squads usually do not integrate into the direct fire plan of the company/team battle position with which they are positioned. Consequently, they do not coordinate for sector sketches, target reference points (TRPs), trigger lines, or assigned sectors.
Technique: BSFV squads should integrate by coordinating with company/team commanders and their platoon leaders. Squads should receive assigned sectors, TRPs, trigger lines, and a task and purpose to be achieved at the TRPs. BSFV squads will then have recognizable triggers for efficient self-defense fires and enhance the company/team direct fire plan in a ground role if necessary.
Employ Direct Fire)
TREND 8: Maneuver unit understanding of enemy engagement areas and actions on the objective.
1. Company/team commanders have difficulty providing graphic representation of enemy engagement areas to their platoons.
2. The company/team is normally still moving on the battlefield when they receive first contact from the enemy main body.
1. There is an immediate breakdown in command and control as individual vehicles and platoons begin to react to contact from the march.
2. Once the commander and platoon leaders regain control of their elements, the company has been fixed, loses combat power, and is unable to accomplish its mission.
1. The unit commander must paint the picture for his subordinates! He must build a mental and physical picture of the enemy's battlespace/engagement area (or "red zone") beginning in the planning phase.
a. He develops and refines the actual location of vehicles and enemy positions from reports prior to crossing the LD.
b. He must transmit these updates with graphics and FRAGOs to subordinates.
2. Plan. The commander combines the range arcs of all potential enemy locations and designates the enemy's kill-sack during the development of his order.
a. He refines the S2's threat COA:
- Plans for visual contact and when and where it will occur.
- Plans the ranges from likely security zone locations.
- Plans likely locations for enemy air and NBC agents to be used.
b. He analyzes his portion of the fight and begins building maneuver transition locations (probable lines of deployment, checkpoints, or phase lines). These will aid in the deployment of his force from the march.
c. The commander then focuses on actions on the objective from this line into the enemy rear or to the LOA.
3. Prepare. Rehearse the transition from movement to the company/team maneuver (platoons in overwatch; platoons bounding) and then analyze terrain in depth to determine where advantage over the enemy can be gained.
a. The company will already be within direct fire range and must act independently; its platoons must maneuver without excessive guidance once they reach the enemy "red zone" (the "red zone" fight equals actions on the objective). Plan for enemy air and artillery to attrit the company.
b. Rehearse several approaches as contingencies tied to decision points and what criteria would cause the plan to change.
c. Ensure the plan is rehearsed on a very detailed terrain board and then reinforced, time permitting, with a key leader rehearsal or full rehearsal (see CALL Newsletter 98-5, Rehearsals).
a. Prior to LD, with all reported enemy locations and disposition at his disposal, the commander releases a final graphic, using actual enemy positions to represent the "red zone" (see example below).
b. He issues a FRAGO with any last instructions, and selects the company maneuver transition point. This may be a location of the last covered and concealed spot prior to the enemy's "red zone," or a criteria (i.e., two or more tanks engage lead platoon).
c. Once in the enemy's "red zone," all platoons move deliberately but with coordination conducted over company radio net to ensure maximum, focused firepower.
d. The commander deconflicts maneuver space with adjacent companies.
e. The XO reports situation to the task force (TF).
Sample enemy "red zone" graphic.
company/team maneuver and actions on the objective
begin just beyond where the enemy main body can influence the unit.
Conduct Close Combat)
TREND 9: Engineer unit close combat operations. Engineer units are arriving at the NTC untrained for close combat operations.
1. Units are consistently unprepared to engage and destroy the enemy.
2. Rehearsals do not focus on what the enemy can do or what the plan is to react to his action.
3. Simple breach drills are not preceded by tracks rolling up with M2s (.50 cal) laying a base of fire to provide the breaching element the best form of suppression immediately available.
4. Reacting to any form of contact seems foreign to most units and unimportant.
Procedure: All levels of institutional training for engineers should receive a block of instruction that takes the battle focused training methodology down to their level. The focus should be the combat tasks associated with fighting as engineers.
Conduct Close Combat)
TREND 10: (LTP) Light infantry task force employment of heavy forces. The light infantry task forces do not conduct sufficient planning for the employment of OPCON heavy forces.
PROBLEM: Graphics lack the necessary control measures to reposition heavy forces during combat operations. When the light infantry task force maneuvers the heavy forces, it results in confusion as to where the heavy forces were to go. Valuable time is usually wasted trying to communicate task and purpose for the repositioning heavy force.
1. Consider having an armor officer serve as a LNO to the light task force staff during light-heavy rotations.
2. Have more detailed discussion on employment of heavy forces during light-heavy classes at LTP.
(TA.1.4 Integrate Direct Fire with Maneuver)
Fire Support BOS
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