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Preparing the Tank Platoon
for Operations at the CMTC

by SFC Clayton Settle
Success or failure of tank platoon training at the CMTC is dependent on the level of prior preparation. This article addresses the four areas in which platoons are most frequently deficient.

1. Platoon SOPs are too generic. They lack detailed information.

2. Platoons seldom have resources necessary to enhance the clarity of the OPORD.

3. Rehearsals are rarely conducted. When the platoon does conduct a rehearsal, they do not use rehearsal kits.

4. Soldiers lack sufficient training on individual-, crew- and platoon-level skills.

STANDING OPERATING PROCEDURES (SOPs). SOPs are vitally important to the tank platoon. The SOP should provide the platoon with critical information concerning the upcoming mission. To be effective, the SOP must be linked to the CO/TM METL. This linkage enables the platoon leader to develop checklists and timelines which help plan and prepare for the mission. The SOP must list the critical tasks for each mission the platoon can perform.

You can lose vast amounts of time planning and preparing for every mission. Clearly understanding the specified and implied tasks of each mission saves a lot of time.

Example: During the preparation phase of a deliberate defense, the platoon leader has a lot to do and little time to do it in. Knowing what to do and when to do it is essential.

Techniques:

1. Write an SOP that outlines the essential tasks in chronological order. You can use it to easily generate a checklist for each possible mission.

2. Make sure it includes PCI checklists.

  • Tailor the checklist to fit the platoon's specific needs.

  • Make it mission specific. Be especially aware of mission-driven changes in graphics distribution, load plans, maintenance status of vehicles and communications procedures.

OPERATION ORDERS (OPORDs). OPORDS must provide clear and concise guidance to the soidier. Tank commandrs must be able to clearly understand their role in the mission.

Techniques:

1. Use a map large enough for all your soldiers to see. Choose at least a 1:23,000 scale map.

2. Use a larger scale map to illustrate objectives and areas of special significance. Consider using chalk and drawing the plan on the side of the tank or a small dry erase marker board

3. Consider how to effectively brief the order at night. Tank tarps and ramming staff s make a tent which will enable the platoon leader to use more light without being discovered.

4. Get the word to all your soldiers.

Example: Soldiers located at the UMCP rarely receive an OPORD. Once the vehicle is repaired, the TC usually has no idea what the mission is.

REHEARSALS. Rehearsals are essential in minion preparation. Tank platoons must emphasize the importance of rehearsing every phase of the operation. The platoon leader must ensure that each member of the platoon is prepared for the mission.

Techniques:

1. Focus on individual tank commander responsibilities and actions. Their performance indicates the platoon's readiness.

2. Use rehearsal kits to ehnance OPORDs.

  • Assemble a basic kit at Home Station.

  • Include chalk, several colors of string or yarn, laminated 3X5 cards and vehicles models (blocks of wood or rocks will do).

3. Take advantage of every opportunity to rehearse prior to mission.

4. Include rehearsals in SOP.

TRAINING. Linking individual skills to collective tasks is consistently a problem. Individual skills play a key role in every mission. Key leaders waste valuable time when they have to program radios or explain basic tasks to crewmen.

Techniques: Use NCOs to conduct opportunity training in the motor pool at Home Station.

  • Topics can ange from CASEVAC to vehicle maintenance.

  • Other suggested topics are: Using the M256 kit, unmasking procedures, using an ANCD and programming the SINCGARS radio.

The tank platoon can be a lethal force. How does your platoon rates in these areas? Fix what you can at Home Station. See you in the BOX!



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