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Offensive IPB at Task Force Level

(FM 34-80, Chap 4)

(This entire article represents emerging doctrine.)

Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) is key in preparing for combat. IPB methods, techniques, and procedures are equally applicable to offensive and defensive missions. Offensive IPB enables the commander and his staff to maintain the initiative with all available combat power by focusing the reconnaissance and surveillance effort. Offensive IPB helps to identify enemy weaknesses and how to maneuver friendly forces to avoid enemy strengths. This whole process must be carefully wargamed as a coordinated staff effort. The following procedures on developing offensive IPB have proven successful.

The task force commander, S3, and S2 determine the area of operation and area of interest based on mission analysis and data provided from higher command. The S2 and his section use this information to develop the enemy situation template (see Figure 1) of the objective area.

Figure 1

Drawing range fans of enemy weapons systems (see figure 2), both ground and air assist in the initial planning of the friendly scheme of maneuver. These templates assist commanders in identifying the enemy's weaknesses and strengths, areas to avoid, and best possible axes of advance (see Figure 3). Range fans also help in the selection of overwatch/base of fire positions that exploit friendly AT weapons standoff advantage.

Figure 2

Situation templates are the basis for the reconnaissance and surveillance plan. The templates need to be confirmed. If found to be incorrect, they need to be updated and the updates passed to the task force.

Figure 3

Enemy defensive positions require verification and the task force has several organic assets available to do this. Some of these are:

  • Scouts

  • Dismounted patrols from maneuver companies or lead elements of the task force.

  • Deep reconnaissance patrols (from maneuver companies or scouts) in stationary OPs. Over the course of a day, an OP may collect and report much more information that a moving patrol. These OPs closely monitor the NAIs developed by the S2.

The S2 can also request assistance from higher. These include:

  • Aerial observers
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
  • Direct finder radars
  • Ground Surveillance Radars (GSR)

Proper reporting and dissemination of collected combat information is essential to success of the reconnaissance effort. A detailed SOP ensures proper reporting and dissemination of combat information. A detailed SOP should address the following:

  • How the information is collected, processed, and disseminated.
  • Who has the responsibility (primary and alternate) to do this.
  • What net is used for transmitting this information.

Rehearsals and effective home station training predicate the success of these procedures.

The task force S2 templates the enemy air defense systems (see Figure 4) with the assistance of the ADA representatives.

Figure 4

The S2 templates the enemy commander's intent for fighting the defense using IPB tools. He prepares an enemy event template of friendly forces (see Figure 5) and an enemy decision support template (see Figure 6) for fighting the defense. Time is the limiting factor in developing all these templates. Numerous templates can be developed for each enemy course of action.

Figure 5

Figure 6

The commander and staff develop their own decision support template for the attack (see Figure 7) using the S2's templates. The methodolgy of the IPB process can be used to wargame the attack and record the decisions on an overlay. Slicing the battlefield into sections (phase line to phase line) assists the commander in explaining his intent and helps the subordinate commanders in visualizing what must happen at any moment in time. Once the Decision Support Template (DST) is complete, a copy is provided each commander so that if the task force commander, S3, or XO are out of the battle, the next senior officer can continue the fight or modify the plan, as necessary.

This IPB process must be practiced during home station training and be done using OPFOR tactics by the defender. The units that understand the IPB process and use it as a tool to assist the staff planning process set the stage for success on the battlefield.

Figure 7

Table of Contents
Section II: Maneuver

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