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Command and Control of Task Force Engineer Assets

(FC 5-71-2J)

The best prepared defenses are continuously upgraded until enemy pressure or the situation prevents further improvements. Engineer work must be planned beyond the estimated time of enemy attack and engineer assets must be continuously employed. Continuous employment of scarce engineer assets during defensive preparation is difficult to accomplish. Bulldozers are often lost, out of fuel, or broken down within the task force area of operation. They often spend too much time at a work site or dig ineffective fighting positions. The problems are primarily due to inadequate supervision and guidance. The following techniques improve command and control:

  • Repetitive combined arms training
  • Fixing responsibility for engineer effort, the handoff of engineer assets, and monitoring execution closely
  • Employing available engineer headquarters forward in the task force area
  • Internally resourcing a task force engineer command and control element

Repetitive Combined Arms Training

Integrate engineers into all defensive training to build teamwork and identify the myriad of small problems which hamper execution. Too often engineers deploy with maneuver units for training, but training is not integrated. All fighting vehicle crews, engineer equipment operators, and their supervisors must know how to construct vehicle fighting positions. Construction of vehicle fighting positions is so decentralized that repetition of established drills is essential. Infantry platoons must practice preparing and reducing strongpoints. Engineer platoons must practice emplacing and breaching minefields and wire obstacles during maneuver exercises. These drills shape effective SOPs which incorporate troop leading procedures, coordination, and the movement, control, and placement of engineer CL IV/CL V at worksites.

Fixing Responsibility and Monitoring Execution

Engineer execution matrices and clear, detailed commander's guidance, continually monitored by the TOC/command group, assures that responsibility stays fixed and receives command emphasis. The matrix depicted in Table 1 clearly fixes responsibility of the appropriate commander.

Table 1. Engineer Execution Matrix

Employ Available Engineer Headquarters Forward

The divisional engineer platoon leader normally cannot simultaneously lead his platoon, control attached assets, and be the engineer staff officer. Engineer headquarters must deploy forward to relieve some of the burden. This can be achieved using three techniques (Table 2).

  • Corps Engineers Forward. Employ an engineer company headquarters with supported task forces. This is particularly appropriate when more than one platoon is working for the task force. By doctrine, corps engineers come forward to reinforce divisional engineers.

  • Mass. Employ the brigade's normally associated engineer company headquarters with the priority task force.

  • Split Operations. Use the normally associated engineer headquarters to support two adjacent task forces. The bulk of the engineer company headquarters normally supports the priority task force.

    Corps Engineers
    C2 ForwardTraining
    Less support on secondary axis
    Split OperationsSupports two
    task forces
    Violates mass

    Table 2. Engineer Headquarters Employment

The engineer company commander will normally devote the majority of his time to the priority task force.

The first option has maximum command/control forward with the task organization. This option is complex to execute since the additional corps engineers normally have not trained with the task force. The second option is the easiest to train and the simplest to execute but leaves other engineers short of supervision. The third option provides command and control at both task forces but violates the principal of mass, as well as being difficult to execute.

Internally Resourcing an Engineer C2 Element

When the other C2 technique cannot be employed, an alternative is to internally resource an engineer C2 element from within the task force. The S3/XO, in coordination with the task force engineer, should perform the engineer staff officer function IAW FC 5-71-2J. If only the engineer platoon is available, an engineer equipment expediter may be required to be resourced from within the task force. Some task forces have used the CSM or master gunner as expediters. The expediter must be knowledgeable about FC 5-71-2 and well drilled in his duties. He assists the chain of command by coordination critical engineer assets to company teams according to the engineer execution matrix.

There are two significant disadvantages to this technique:

  • The "expediter" must become technically proficient.

  • If responsibility is not clearly fixed, the "expediter" can subvert the chain of command. Neither the maneuver company/team commander nor the senior engineer is then responsible.

Table of Contents
Section IV: Air Defense
Section VI: NBC

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