The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW



(Trends are numbered sequentially for cross-reference and are not in any priority order.)

Needs Emphasis

TREND 1: Heavy task force (TF) use of dismounted infantry.


1. Heavy task forces (TFs) do not utilize their dismounted infantry.

2. Dismounted infantry are often not integrated into the scheme of maneuver.

3. Dismounted infantry lack a clear task and purpose in conjunction with the mounted elements.

4. When Heavy TFs are forced to use their dismounted infantry, the soldiers are often unprepared to accomplish their mission.

a. Soldiers are unclear of the tactical situation and how their task and purpose relates to the company's.

b. NCOs often leave behind or fail to functionally inspect essential equipment to accomplish their mission (graphics, radios, NVGs, binoculars, AT weapons, etc.).

5. Infantry units are often consolidated within the TF at the last minute, preventing any meaningful troop-leading procedures (orders, rehearsals, PCCs/PCIs).


1. Use the following capabilities of dismounted infantry to enhance lethality:

a. Surveillance (R&S plan and LP/OPs).

b. Reconnoiter (IVLs, security patrols, and LD).

c. Infiltration (seize key terrain, secure FO teams, covertly reduce obstacles, objective surveillance).

d. Execute defense (utilize infantry strong points to secure mounted flanks or contact patrols to adjacent company teams or TFs).

e. Construct obstacle (augment the TF engineers).

f. Perform anti-armor ambush (economy of force on separate AAs).

2. Use every possible opportunity during Home Station training to integrate the use of the mounted and dismounted elements. Identify shortfalls in dismounted personnel and train as a consolidated force during Home Station training.

3. Identify dismounted missions early to enable units to task organize and properly prepare and rehearse for their mission.

(T.A.1.1.1 Position/Reposition Forces (Units and Equipment)

TREND 2: 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 (BOS) 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 1st Echelon 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 determine quickly the collection assets that are available. The S2 considers the following:

- Sensor capabilities (accuracy, required redundancy, etc.).

-- Higher'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 handover 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 ABFs.

- 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 ABFs 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 ABFs 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 ABFs 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 ABFs and attack of critical ADA targets and in support of movement to subsequent ABFs.

3. Attack battalion staffs should practice wargaming given 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.

(TA.1.2 Engage Enemy)

TREND 3: Company/team maneuver at the objective.


1. Battalions and company/teams frequently occupy their initial attack-by-fire (ABF) positions at their primary engagement area and do not continue to maneuver to engage the enemy. If the enemy is not exactly where the attacking unit predicted or if the timing is incorrect, the attacking unit may not see the enemy from their initial positions.

2. When company/teams do encounter the enemy where predicted and begin the engagement, they typically do not maneuver to maintain contact and maintain security of the ABF position.



1. During initial planning, the S2 must determine an intelligence handover line (IHL) where the executing unit becomes responsible for overwatch of NAIs that lead into the primary engagement area. The executing unit pushes recon assets forward which provide final guidance to attack assets.

EXAMPLE: NAI 200 is the intelligence handover line (IHL).

a. The enemy is located at NAI 200 IAW the S2's decision support template (DST). The commander decides to attack with the battalion led by recon assets to the primary engagement area.

b. The recon asset acquires the enemy at NAI 201 and confirms the main body should attack into the primary engagement area.

2. The S2 must determine early on if sensor capability, availability, and down link provide the capability to perform a precision/max destruction attack. If this capability does not exist, then the attack unit prepares to conduct movement to contact to find and destroy the enemy in a given zone. The staff determines triggers for execution of alternate engagement areas and alternate schemes of maneuver.

EXAMPLE: Collection breakdown at NAI 200.

a. Commander decides to maneuver to the primary engagement area and occupy initial attack-by-fire positions.

b. The battalion occupies initial attack-by-fire positions and does not locate the enemy.

c. After a specified time in the initial attack-by-fire positions (as determined by the staff during COA wargaming), the battalion begins to execute one of two maneuver methods:

- a movement to contact to locate and destroy the enemy, or

- bounding to subsequent attack-by-fire positions which correspond to alternate engagement areas.

Both methods are effective. Available time, type of terrain, and enemy situation determine the method to use -- or perhaps a combination of the two methods.

3. Regardless the method used, battalions must plan to maneuver at the objective area. Even with perfect intelligence, our planned attack-by-fire positions may not accommodate destruction of the enemy. Battalions must be prepared to maneuver to subsequent/alternate attack-by-fire positions to initiate or continue the attack.

4. Establish triggers for this movement.

5. Conduct rehearsals.


1. The staff must wargame the attack unit's actions and the enemy reactions during integration of the engagement area.

a. The wargaming process ensures appropriate integration of indirect fire systems, direct fire systems and countermobility.

b. The S2 must disseminate expected OPFOR actions to the company commanders.

2. Company commanders should attend the wargaming session to enhance their knowledge of the overall engagement area plan and how the enemy is expected to react. Through this process, the S3, S2, fire support officer (FSO), and company commanders begin to visualize how the enemy will react, and can develop plans to maintain contact and shift fires to destroy the enemy.

a. The company commander leaves the wargame session with a plan to maneuver his company to ensure mission success.

b. The battalion S3 leaves the wargame session prepared to maneuver the battalion to ensure mission success.

(TA.1.2 Engage Enemy)

TREND 4: (LTP) Establishment of support-by-fire (SBF) positions.

PROBLEM: Task forces (TFs) have difficulty synchronizing the establishment of support-by-fire (SBF) positions.

a. Company/teams are given inadequate clarification of the SBF purpose and associated tasks. They continually assume they have a "destroy" mission when, in actuality, a fix or suppress mission may accomplish the purpose of the SBF.

b. TF staffs do not accomplish a detailed terrain analysis of the planned SBF position and generally establish an SBF within the enemy "kill sack."

c. Token consideration is given to the effects of weather, enemy disposition, and the need to establish conditions prior to occupying the SBF.

d. Effective triggers, assault positions, and observation points are not planned, and, if planned, usually ignored during execution.

e. Smoke plans are rarely made, and coordination of the targeting process between fire support and maneuver does not occur.

f. TF mortars are given the task of obscuring an enemy position in order to permit occupation of the SBF. Even with 120mm mortars it is difficult for a mortar platoon to initiate and maintain a smoke screen of any significant size.

RESULT: Inability to establish an effective SBF will normally result in the breach and assault force not accomplishing their mission. The rapid demise of the SBF element gives the enemy freedom to reposition at will.

Procedure: FM 71-123 does not adequately address the SBF mission. There is only one short page on this subject, letting the reader conclude that the SBF mission is a simple task that needs little emphasis. This doctrinal reference should be expanded to thoroughly address the importance of establishing and executing an effective SBF.


1. TF commanders and staffs must realize the criticality of the SBF mission.

a. A thorough threat and terrain analysis must be conducted to support the SBF.

b. The staff should conduct a detailed wargame of the SBF mission.

2. Early in the planning process, establish a clear purpose for the SBF and assign specific tasks to support that purpose.

3. Require the S2/BICC and staff to complete a detailed threat and terrain analysis. Advantages and disadvantages of key and/or decisive terrain must be recognized and integrated into the wargaming.

a. Make maximum use of Terra Base.

b. Identify multiple enemy COAs, to include the use of his combat multipliers.

c. If possible, conduct a physical recon of the area.

4. Establish criteria, decision points, triggers, and conditions during wargaming that will synchronize the establishment of the SBF. Anticipated enemy events must be included in the wargaming.

5. Develop an observation plan to execute the planned synchronization. Ensure the SBF position is not occupied until it has been reconnoitered and observation is conducted on the enemy position to be suppressed, fixed, or destroyed.

6. The TF fire support officer (FSO) should plan fires to cover the positioning of the SBF force.

a. He must clearly define the essential fires support tasks associated with the SBF.

b. He must understand the capabilities of each fire support asset and then translate that into a realistic fire support execution matrix. The matrix must clearly define task and purpose of fires and address the "decide-detect-deliver-assess" aspects as related to the scheme of maneuver.

c. As always, fire support wargaming is critical.

7. Priority of fires should be given to the SBF force until their task/purpose is accomplished. The SBF commander should be the responsible leader for determining when fires can be shifted to support the breach force. A technique is to position the TF commander in a position where he can make that assessment.

8. Smoke plans should be developed by the S3, FSO and Chem-O to support maneuver into and occupation of the SBF. The plan must address all types of smoke, to include FA, mortar, vehicle generated and smoke pots.

9. Threat COAs must be continually updated and disseminated on the command net by the S2 based upon gathered intelligence.

a. Information must be rapidly analyzed and disseminated to all elements but immediately to the SBF force.

b. Staffs should be skilled in visualizing the battlefield and capable of completing a predictive analysis.

10. Operational control graphics must be developed to permit flexibility. Decision points should be developed to support occupation of multiple SBFs.

11. TF commanders should require detailed rehearsals by the SBF force and elements in support. A complete understanding by everyone of tasks and purpose is critical by the end of the rehearsal.

12. TF TOCs should closely track the success or failure of the SBF force. That success or failure should be associated with a decision point to continue as planned or to execute other branches or COAs.

(TA.1.2 Engage Enemy)

btn_tabl.gif 1.21 K
btn_prev.gif 1.18 KIntelligence BOS
btn_next.gif 1.17 KManeuver BOS, Part 2

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias