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Admin/Log Center as Alternate TOC

(FM 71-2J, Section 8; FM 101-5, Chap1)

Task forces need an alternate tactical operations center (TOC). Many units designate the Admin/Log Center (ALC) as the alternate task force TOC. This is performed only on a temporary basis; the ALC is inadequately staffed for full time conduct of TOC operations, but its personnel must be adequately trained to assume this mission. The ALC assumes TOC operations when the TOC is destroyed or incapacitated, and continues until the TOC becomes operational or a replacement headquarters assumes control of task force operations. Criteria for assumption of this on-order mission must be specified in the unit tactical SOP. Knowledge of TOC incapacitation may not be readily apparent to the rest of the task force; therefore, such criteria must be clearly understood.

Destruction of the TOC, while a catastrophic loss, must not prevent the task force from continuing its mission. Recognition that the TOC has been destroyed is essential. The occurrence, or failure of occurrence, of certain actions should signal the ALC that the TOC has either been rendered ineffective or destroyed. Failure of the TOC to answer radio calls, for example, should be a "trigger point" for the ALC to assume task force control. Procedures for assuming tactical control of the task force from the ALC must be practiced during home station training in order for it to be effective. This task should become as much a part of the standard task force training scenario as other tactical operations.

One successful unit transferred a soldier to the ALC who had nearly a year's experience working in the TOC. He understood the operational requirements of that organization and was able to apply the skills he had acquired in the TOC to ALC operations. He trained other soldiers in TOC setup, reporting requirements, physical lay-out, and radio procedures.

Staff personnel from the ALC must be cross-trained to perform TOC functions with minimal loss of continuity of command and control. One solution is for the primary staff officers in the ALC to assume the duties of the primary TOC staff officers. At a home station training exercise, for example, the S1 could assume S2 duties and the S4 assume S3 duties. Consideration of other task force personnel to assume such duties generally results in too great a loss in those respective areas. The FSO is another key TOC member whose replacement requires careful analysis. The recommended technique for his replacement is for one of the company team FSOs to move up and assume the duties of the task force FSO. Despite the shortcomings of the FIST SGT assuming his duties and the duties of the company FSO, the loss experienced by one company is offset by the advantages accrued across the task force. The company team FSO chosen to replace the task force FSO should be the most experienced team FSO, predesignated to assume this "contingency" mission, and trained in task force fire support operations. A company team FSO has the required radio communication assets to perform nearly all task force FSO functions, has received the same training, albeit at a lower echelon, as the task force FSO, and is probably the best-qualified person available at task force level to tie together all possible fire support assets. The mortar platoon leader was considered as an alternative, but he doesn't have sufficient communication assets, and is probably not as well-trained in fire support coordination procedures to synchronize the entire spectrum of fire support assets.

Situation maps and unit status boards reflecting the current tactical status of each company/team are examples of the equipment that must be available in the ALC for immediate use upon assumption of the TOC mission. ALC personnel must track the battle and keep abreast of the current tactical situation at all times. At a minimum, the ALC must have all friendly situation information posted, the most recent intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) update, the most current doctrinal and situational templates of suspected enemy locations, and known enemy locations. Both the obstacle plan and the target overlay must be posted and kept current. An equipment status board should be present as part of the logistics control organization; it should be devised for use in logistical and tactical planning. Communications equipment must be available to provide the ALC with an equivalent capability to exercise command and control over subordinate elements as well as communicate with higher headquarters (brigade) and attached or supporting elements, such as engineers or direct support artillery. Essential nets must be predetermined to ensure smooth assumption of task force control. The potential degradation of command and control can be reduced by incorporating other CSS players in the planning process. The S4 and S1 sections combined don't have as many radios, vehicles, personnel, etc., as the TOC.

The unit maintenance collection point (UMCP) has radios that can be used to upgrade the communications capability of the ALC, and they are close enough to the ALC to permit a quick and efficient transition to the TOC mission. UMCP personnel are usually familiar with ALC procedures, and can easily switch over to another net and begin to receive traffic for the ALC. Collocating the S4's jeep and the ALC M577 provides additional secure radios to the overall organization. This configuration results in sufficient radio nets to provide nearly the same level of command and control as the TOC. Admin/Log actions can continue almost without interruption while the ALC switches over its radio nets to the required TOC frequencies and notifies stations on those nets that it has assumed its on-order mission. The Unit Maintenance Collection Point (UMCP) then becomes the alternate ALC, as the transfer of command and control becomes more complete. The UMCP can use the battalion maintenance officer's (BMO) vehicle and radios as the base of operations.

Experience shows that a senior CPT is essential as the task force S4 because experience and strong leadership is critical for sustainment of the task force battle and ultimate success if the ALC becomes the task force TOC. Finally, it is imperative that units implement their plans for this contingency during home station training.

The Mortar Platoon

(FM 7-90, Chap 5)

Task force success is enhanced by continuous fire support from the mortar platoon. Two shortcomings in providing continuous mortar fire support are task force failure to practice ammunition resupply during home station training, and failure of resupply to keep pace with unit expenditures.

A mortar platoon can carry 528 rounds of ammunition on their six tracks. Mortar platoons are often requested by maneuver elements to fire "low payoff" targets, rapidly depleting their basic load. Mortar fires need to be cleared by the Mortar Platoon Leader, FSO, or the S3 to ensure rounds are allocated according to the commander's intent.

Many units expend large quantities of ammunition on suppressive fire. They call upon the mortars because they are a responsive and accurate means of fire. Units must guard against equating mortar fires with stopping or destroying enemy armored units. Suppressive fire is costly in terms of round expenditure. Suppressive fire should be employed only when it will provide results that complement the overall task force battle plan. Instead of suppressive fire, units need to identify target areas where a minimum number of rounds are critical to accomplish the commander's intent. For example, if the commander wants to break up an enemy formation, he may select a key road junction, bridge, engineer obstacle, or crossing site to mass his fires.

Logistics planning should consider prestocking of ammunition to ensure resupply keeps pace with demand. This takes coordination between maneuver and logistics planners to ensure security of prestock locations and survivability of CSS vehicles conducting resupply operations far forward.

Fire support is critical to task force success. The provision of adequate fire support with limited basic load rounds requires coordination between the S3, FSO, S4, and mortar Platoon Leader. They must ensure that the mortar platoon allocates their basic load of rounds to priority targets or they prestock so that other targets can be shot on call. Mortar fires could make the difference between success and failure of the task force at the critical time and place and needs to be practiced during home station training.

Barrier Material

(FM 5-102, Chap 4)

During the preparation and conduct of the defense, there must be a system of control for the distribution of barrier materials to the Co/Tms. The task force may distribute barrier material by designating a centrally located task force barrier material drop-off/pickup point. S& tractor trailers may be used for unit distribution of barrier material and delivered directly to the Co/Tm sector. Two difficulties occur for a Co/Tm from these methods: When the task force uses a supply point distribution system, Co/Tms must be augmented with transportation assets in order to be able to pickup and transport barrier material; secondly, unit distribution may deliver more barrier material than a Co/Tm is capable of efficiently handling or distributing.

Successful task force distribution of barrier material has been accomplished by bringing it forward to the Co/Tm area on S& or 2 1/2 ton trucks, directly from the BSA. Some units have designated one leader to monitor the flow of vehicles and barrier material to ensure efficient and timely execution of support. This leader bases his monitoring plan on the battalion obstacle plan and the commander's intent.

Co/Tm commanders must understand their units obstacle emplacement capability and request only that quantity of barrier material they are capable of using during a given period of time. An understanding of what is required by a Co/Tm is dependent upon the unit's training proficiency on emplacement of barrier material. A product of this training will be the leader's appreciation of the quantity of barrier material their unit will be capable of emplacing during a given block of time, usually 24 hours. A Co/Tm should incorporate this quantity and time period into their unit SOP and express their requirements to the task force S4 in sufficient time to facilitate the task force defensive planning process.

The "push and pull" resupply procedure is supported by this knowledge. The Co/Tm commander is able to request only the barrier material he needs (pull) from the task force S4. The S4, through prior coordination or experience with the Co/Tms, sends forward (push) that quantity of barrier material which the unit is capable of handling or METT-T dictates.

Displacement of the Combat Trains During Offensive Operations

(FM 71-2J, Chap 8) (Underline indicates emerging doctrine)

Effective offensive operations require that priority be given to the task force's ability to logistically support the momentum of the attack. The S4 prepares and organizes the combat trains for an offensive operation in much the same manner as the maneuver company commanders. He carefully evaluates the situation, relative to CSS, and determines the support needed for the operation. A key consideration is timely displacement of the combat trains. This allows continual support to the lead elements of the task force.

Many task forces position their combat trains too far back and/or fail to displace them as required by the tactical situation. Combat trains should move as an integral part of the combat formation staying no further than 10 km from the task force lead unit(s). This allows responsive support to the forward units, while remaining outside the range of enemy direct fire or mortars. The commander's intent and the factors of METT-T determine the exact composition of the combat trains. As a minimum it consists of Class III, V, medical, and maintenance assets. Subsequent trains locations and the routes to them must be planned, reconned (time permitting), and disseminated ahead of time.

One task force used a "Trigger Point" (event-oriented) system to key combat trains displacement. As the lead elements of the task force crossed certain phase lines (or other maneuver control measures), the combat trains displaced to its next location. If possible, these "Trigger Points" were based on a standard distance factor that kept the combat trains within 4 to 6 km of the lead elements. The task force S4 was charged with supervising displacement, security, and location of the combat trains. He designated an individual from the ALC to recon perspective locations and lead the movement into these locations. In the new position, the S4 coordinated the organizational layout, camouflage, and security.

Many units use the HHC XO to recon new TOC locations. Doctrinally, the combat trains are within 1-3 kms of the TOC and some units use the HHC XO to select both the TOC and combat trains positions.

Another technique is a predetermined signal or code word, accompanied by the appropriate authentication, to initiate displacement of the combat trains. The signal or code word is given to the S4 by the 2IC (task force XO) from the TOC based on the current situation of the lead elements of the task force. This leads to simplicity and cuts down on unnecessary radio transmissions. In the event of a communications failure, the task force XO immediately dispatches a messenger with the signal/code word. This ensures the combat trains is displaced in a timely manner. Some units have also added "Displace Combat Trains" to their unit's brevity list.

Whatever the plan, the displacement of the combat trains should be briefed at the task force OPORD and depicted in the operational graphics.

Table of Contents
Section VI: NBC
Section VIII: Command and Control

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