Offense is the decisive form of war.
The main purpose of the offense is to defeat, destroy, or neutralize
the enemy force. Because tactical offensive operations often expose
the attacker, they normally require local superior combat power
at the point of the attack. Massing of combat power can create
a window of vulnerability to enemy WMD.
By achieving surprise, the enemy's
opportunity to use WMD are reduced. The proliferation of modern
surveillance device makes achieving outright surprise more difficult.
Use of obscurants can assist the commander in achieving tactical
surprise. Visual and infrared obscurants can defeat or hamper
many battlefield surveillance and targeting systems.
While surprise may contribute to
offensive success, concentration is the ability to mass effects
without large formations. Concentration of any size force is a
vulnerability that the enemy can exploit with WMD. Forces must
be dispersed and then concentrated for the attack. Dispersed forces
are not lucrative targets for attack by WMD.
Tempo is the rate of speed of military
actions. Controlling or altering rate is essential for maintaining
the initiative. Enemy WMD can alter the tempo and allow him to
seize the initiative. Smoke can also affect the tempo of military
operations. Use of NBC recon elements to avoid contamination can
mitigate the effect on tempo.
Audacity is a key component of any
successful offensive plan. Integration of NBC defense, chemical
unit support, and smoke all contribute to the execution of audacious
operations. Commanders must understand where and when they are
taking risks on the NBC battlefield and their chemical staffs
will assist them in understanding the risks.
Offensive operations are conducted
throughout the depth of the battlefield. Commanders arrange the
battlefield into three closely related activities - deep, close,
and rear operations. Under NBC conditions, the attacking force
commander uses NBC defensive principles - avoidance, protection,
and decon - to preserve his force. He plans for the use of friendly
smoke and for countermeasures to enemy use of obscurants. He defends
his force against enemy flame weapons. If national command authorities
authorize release, the commander incorporates nuclear fires into
their offensive plans.
Commanders integrate NBC defense,
smoke, flame, and recon elements throughout this framework. When
authorized, nuclear attacks support close and deep operations.
These fires destroy or contaminate defensive positions and cause
casualties. Nuclear attacks may also contaminate deep terrain
to restrict or canalize the defender's movement.
Recon elements of the attacking force
detect contamination along the routes of advance. Attacking forces
bypass or adopt protection to cross this contamination. Forward
forces breach obstacles under the concealment of obscurants. These
obstacles may include chemical and flame weapons. If attacking
forces become contaminated, they continue the attack in MOPP4.
Under the threat of enemy NBC use
the attacking force commander conducts his approach with dispersed
forces. This dispersion limits possible damage by an enemy NBC
attack. However,dispersion also limits immediately available combat
power. Attacking forces must quickly mass to assault the objective.
The attacking commander uses obscurants to conceal his disposition
NBC recon elements in the rear area
monitor lines of communication. If they find contamination, they
search for clean, alternative routes. Logistics activities move
forward using these routes during limited visibility or under
the concealment of smoke.
The key to success in an offensive
campaign lies in defeating the enemy before the offense reaches
its culmination. Culmination occurs because the attacker consumes
resources and commits forces through successive battles. Eventually
the attacker no longer has the combat power to sustain its momentum.
Under chemical or biological conditions culmination may come earlier
than in a conventional offense. Successful attacks may require
more people and more time. Attacking forces require more fire
support. Personnel in MOPP become exhausted more rapidly. These
factors drain an attacker's resources and slow its momentum. The
focus of friendly NBC considerations is to conserve combat power
in the attack, so the attacking force can defeat the enemy before
reaching its culminating point.
NBC weapons share the following characteristics
that drive offensive and defensive actions--
- Mass casualties.
- Large-area coverage.
- Persistent hazard.
- Slow operations.
- Complementary effects.
NBC weapons cause mass casualties
over large areas. For example, the single atomic bomb dropped
on Hiroshima caused 144,000 casualties. The first chemical attack
at Ypres in World War I resulted in 15,000 casualties. More recently,
Iran reported 13,358 chemical casualties from January through
March 1988 alone in their ten-year war with Iraq. Nuclear radiation,
biological agents, and chemical agents can reach targets hidden
from conventional weapons. For example, nuclear radiation can
penetrate armored vehicles. chemical agents can seep through cracks
and openings in vehicles and structures. Neither side can predict
areas of contamination with complete assurance; effects of weather
and terrain vary contamination patterns.
NBC weapons may remain effective
long after they have been used. The length of time they produce
casualties can be controlled to some extent by the user. Chemical
and biological agents are particularly useful in this way. Commanders
can select agents whose casualty-producing effects last for a
few moments or a few weeks. Nuclear weapons can produce short-term
blast, heat, and initial radiation. With a surface burst radioactive
fallout will form a long-term hazard.
NBC defensive measures will slow
operations. The threat or use of many NBC weapons may force an
army to take time-consuming protective measures. Troops disperse
to reduce the effects of an attack. They practice a high degree
of personal hygiene to prevent infection. This may increase logistics
requirements. NBC recon will consume resources, especially time.
In addition, personnel in protective gear find it more difficult
to work or fight. Protective measures degrade combat power. The
use of PSYOP can assist in the avoidance of NBC attacks by targeting
both the enemy decision makers and public opinion with the objective
of preventing NBC attacks.
Nuclear, chemical, and conventional
weapons complement each other; using them together increases total
effects. For example, using smoke to conceal visual indicators
of a chemical attack increases casualties. Using chemical weapons
against forces on the edge of a nuclear attack increases the effects
The defending force commander will
plan to disrupt the attacker's command and control. He may use
NBC weapons to cause casualties and contaminate equipment and/or
terrain, thus degrading the attacker's combat power. The attacking
force commander preserves synchronization and the strength of
his force through the fundamentals NBC defense.
The key fundamental of all NBC defense
activities is to avoid NBC attacks and their effects whenever
possible. Avoidance includes passive and active avoidance measures.
Passive Avoidance Measures
Commanders ensure operations, communications,
and electronic security. Leaders prepare their soldiers to survive
and operate under NBC conditions. Offensive forces use natural
concealment, camouflage, and smoke. They conduct deception operations,
using feints, demonstrations, dummy equipment, and manipulated
electronic signature. Commanders continuously analyze present
and planned dispositions for NBC vulnerability. They actively
seek available intelligence on the specific NBC threat.
Active Avoidance Measures
Active measures are those NBC defense
measures that reduce the likelihood of exposure to NBC hazards
and the impact of those hazards. These measures include:
Detecting contamination. Attacking
force recon and security elements check for contamination. Each
unit uses its organic capability to check its route, zone, or
area. If nuclear weapons have been used, units conduct continuous
radiological monitoring. Advance parties of displacing units use
chemical and radiological detection equipment to check primary
and alternate positions for hazards. Positive identification of
hazards supports the commander's analysis of the situation.
Marking contamination. Forward
elements mark all likely entry points into a contaminated area
so follow-on forces can avoid the contamination. Where appropriate,
forward elements may leave a guide to assist successive echelons
through the contamination. Commanders must train their forces
to recognize enemy contamination markers.
Passing alarms and signals. The
enemy situation dictates the type of alarm to be used. Visual
or vocal alarms will be most often used. Where appropriate, units
may pass the alarm over the radio. However, they must consider
communications security so that they do not prematurely reveal
Warning and reporting. Units
report NBC hazards to the controlling headquarters. The headquarters
further disseminates reports as necessary. It also disseminates
nuclear and chemical attack warnings to affected units.
Limiting contamination. Bypassing
is the preferred method of limiting contamination. However, when
a unit must cross contamination, it carries as much equipment
as possible inside its vehicles. Critical items left outside are
covered or left in containers wherever possible. When a unit crosses
a contaminated area, it avoids vegetation, such as small trees,
brush, and tall grass. The faster it crosses, the shorter the
hazard contact time.
Avoidance and protection are closely
linked. Many avoidance techniques also provide some measure of
protection against NBC weapons effects. However, the attacking
force commander can take several specific measures to improve
survivability of the force.
Hardening Positions and Readying
Most attacking forces will be moving
and will be unable to construct hardened positions. These forces
continuously locate potential shelters while moving and schedule
stops near them. These shelters include overpasses, tunnels, culverts,
and built-up areas. Forces displacing from position to position,
such as artillery or combat service support, search for locations
that provide blast or radiation protection. Personnel prepare
for a nuclear or chemical strike at any time. Troops keep sleeves
rolled down and wear headgear (helmets, communications equipment,
and patrol caps) when possible. They wear earplugs or headsets
to provide protection from eardrum rupture or hearing loss. Personnel
fix detector paper to their vehicles according to their SOPS for
early signs of chemical attack.
Leaders use standardized MOPP levels
to increase or decrease their unit's level of protection. Because
the levels are standardized and all soldiers understand them,
leaders can order changes in protection without long explanation.
They may place elements in differing MOPP levels or authorize
variations within a given level. In particular, on the move advance
forces and recon elements may maintain a higher MOPP level than
following forces. The leader whose immediate subordinates are
directly exposed to chemical hazards needs to be the one who directs
whether his personnel should go into or come out of MOPP levels
3 and 4. Once the force has been subjected to NBC hazards, individual
leaders must limit the MOPP degradation of their force. Leaders
will determine the hazard, take needed actions, and make decisions
on whether to order unmasking, relocation, decon, and so forth.
Leaders must consider the degradation
experienced in MOPP. Command and control suffer under MOPP conditions
due to exhaustion of leaders, behavioral changes, and increased
periods when no one is in charge. Communications are less effective
because of the mask, so plans are more difficult to change. A
unit in MOPP4 tends to rely heavily on indirect fires. Additional
calls for fire make it more vulnerable to enemy interception and
direction finding. As a general rule it takes almost twice as
long and twice as many people to conduct a successful attack in
MOPP4. Training and acclimation increase the ability of the individual
soldier and unit to operate in MOPP.
Reacting to NBC Attacks
The defending force may use NBC strikes
to weaken the attack. The defender will attempt to cause casualties.
It will try to separate the attacking forces and prevent their
reinforcing each other. It will try to disrupt the momentum of
The attacker must continue its operations
with a minimum of disruption. Attacking forces take immediate
action in response to a nuclear or chemical strike. Following
initial actions the attacker must maintain the initiative. Soldiers
and units react using their battle drills to ensure successful
mission accomplishment. Commanders must continually update their
plans to solve trafficability problems. Residual effects of a
nuclear weapon include tree blowdown, tires, and rubble. Contamination
from chemical strikes restricts mobility. Attacking forces may
need to wear MOPP4 until the mission is completed.
When avoidance is not possible, personnel
adopt protection. However, that protection decreases combat power.
Soldiers cannot see as well and cannot acquire and kill targets
as efficiently. Mobility is reduced. Heat builds up in the MOPP
suit. Troops experience physical and psychological stress. As
the troops remain in MOPP, protection begins to break down. Heat,
stress, and chemical casualties occur. The longer a unit stays
contaminated, the greater its chances of sustaining casualties.
The commander of the attacking force
must use METT-T to recognize how contamination will affect the
culminating point. If the culminating point will occur unacceptably
early, he plans for decon according to the principles of speed,
need, limit, and priority. Decon of units in the attack is normally
not conducted until consolidation on the objective.
attacking force decontaminates as soon as possible. At a minimum,
soldiers conduct the immediate decon required for survival. When
enemy contact is not imminent, operational decon allows temporary
relief from MOPP4. It also speeds up weathering of the agent.
Conducting operational decon lessens spread of contamination.
attacking force decontaminates only what is needed for its immediate
missions However, the attacking force commander must take great
care not to underestimate his needs. An offensive action in MOPP4
may need more resources and more time than a similar action under
force commander decides whether to move contaminated vehicles
and equipment. Where possible, he conducts decon near the site
of the original attack to limit the spread of contamination. If
this is not possible, the unit segregates contaminated items from
force commander prioritizes his decon efforts according to the
importance of the contaminated items to his mission. Typically,
he gives highest priority to critical weapon systems in the main
attack. He may also give high priority to special requirements
for the offense, such as air defense.
Offensive operations depend on thorough
planning and preparation. Chemical staffs and units work with
the operations planners from the start of the process.
As the commander makes his estimate
of the situation for an attack, he considers the factors of METT-T.
Fighting under the hazard of enemy
NBC use may require additional control and coordination. The commander
normally formulates more detailed orders to support his mission
and intention under NBC conditions.
Planners must consider enemy doctrine,
capabilities, and probable intentions. Enemy first use of nuclear,
biological, or chemical weapons maybe evident through intelligence
indicators. If the enemy has already used these weapons, planners
must know their agents, their delivery techniques, and their impact
on the battle. Friendly forces must also understand the types
of smoke and obscurants used and their impact on friendly and
Terrain and Weather
Attacking forces normally have limited
avenues of approach. The enemy will attempt to block these avenues.
It may use contamination and obstacles containing chemical and
flame weapons to restrict terrain use. Commanders identify these
obstacles early and ensure that decon and smoke assets are available
to support the breach.
When threatened by enemy NBC warfare,
commanders exploit weather conditions that reduce the likelihood
of NBC use. However, many of these conditions, such as precipitation
and high winds, also impede other friendly operations, such as
air support. When weather conditions favor enemy NBC use, commanders
lessen the chances of employment of these weapons through speed,
surprise, and rapid closure with the enemy.
The NBC readiness of friendly troops
also affects the tactical plan. Planners must consider mobility
under NBC conditions, protection against NBC attack, and final
combat power at the objective. State of training and availability
of resupply will drive success on the battlefield.
Enemy use of NBC weapons will reduce
time available to friendly units for preparation and movement.
Friendly forces must take defensive actions and conduct extra
recon. Friendly forces in an attack will try to gain time by slowing
enemy reaction and confusing and disorganizing the defender. Smoke
and obscurants disrupt the defender's operations.
Units require additional preparation
time under NBC conditions. Units rehearse actions for responding
to enemy NBC attacks. Commanders may implement additional control
measures under battlefield nuclear warfare or the threat of biological
or chemical strikes. These control measures support additional
dispersion. They also facilitate the attack under limited visibility
Units may require additional logistics
support under NBC conditions. Typically, attacks in high MOPP
levels require additional artillery, since direct fire target
acquisition is degraded when troops are masked. Attacks may also
require additional smoke, because the forces are slowed by the
physical demands of the MOPP gear.
The attack must be violent and rapid.
It integrates all available combat power, including nuclear fires
when authorized. The attacker minimizes its exposure to enemy
conventional, nuclear, and chemical fires through--
- Maneuvering and using counterfire
supported by smoke and obscurants.
- Avoiding or rapidly crossing contamination.
- Maintaining operations, communications,
and electronic security.
- Dispersing forces.
When an attack or exploitation includes
a forward passage of lines, commanders ensure that forces do not
congregate. Massed forces present a lucrative NBC target. The
passed force provides information concerning the enemy, mine fields,
and conventional or NBC obstacles. NBC recon and smoke units support
these operations to provide necessary information on clean lanes
and obscurant support, respectively.
Extended operations in MOPP degrade
combat force performance. Commanders prepare for increased difficulty
in command and control under NBC conditions. Communications are
less effective when personnel are in protective posture. Transmission
time increases, raising vulnerability to enemy electronic warfare.
The commander must reach his objective
with the combat power required to overcome enemy resistance. The
attacking forces coordinate efforts to suppress enemy artillery,
air defense, electronic warfare, and command and control. In particular
they must destroy nuclear or chemical delivery systems and defeat
the reserve. When authorized, the attacker uses friendly nuclear
fires for these purposes.
Smoke on or near enemy positions
blinds gunners and observers. Smoke between friendly and enemy
forces screens friendly maneuver. Obscurants deceive the enemy
across the battle area. Smoke supports river-crossing and obstacle-breaching
operations. Friendly and enemy smoke present special problems
in navigation, target acquisition, and surveillance.
Offensive operations include--
- Movement to contact.
- Hasty attack.
- Deliberate attack.
A movement to contact gains contact
with the enemy and develops the situation. During this movement
friendly forces use the principles of NBC defense. They use obscurants
for concealment and deception. They take countermeasures against
enemy use of obscurants and flame weapons. Commanders continue
to use sound tactics, including speed, dispersion, and communications
security, to help avoid being targeted for enemy NBC strikes.
Covering force elements report any
NBC contamination encountered to the task force commander and
mark its limits. Lead elements breach mine fields and reduce obstacles.
These obstacles may include persistent chemicals. Smoke and decon
assets assist in the reduction of these obstacles. Lead elements
should, when possible, bypass contaminated areas.
The task force commander sets a minimum
MOPP level for the force. Subordinate commanders increase this
level where appropriate, taking care not to put soldiers into
advanced levels of MOPP too soon. Personnel train to operate in
limited visibility and to use minimum communications. During periods
of MOPP3 and MOPP4, leaders implement command drinking and rest
The use of smoke and obscurants support
the movement. During planning the commander identifies areas where
terrain and vegetation do not provide sufficient concealment.
He uses smoke units or smoke munitions to cover these areas. In
addition he uses projected smoke to obscure known or suspected
enemy observation posts. At locations where terrain analysis indicates
probable enemy obstacles, the commander preplans smoke. This preplanned
support allows rapid breaching. Smoke is also integrated into
the deception plan so that its use does not give away friendly
Hasty attacks regain or maintain
the initiative on short notice. Attacking forces use obscurants
as a major combat multiplier in this option. They use immediate
countermeasures to enemy smoke. These countermeasures include
electro-optical devices, counterbattery fires, and destruction
of enemy smoke-generating equipment. Friendly troops prepare to
withstand the destruction and shock effect of enemy flame weapons.
They use NBC defense measures. When approved, deep nuclear fires
support these operations.
Commanders conduct deliberate attacks
against organized defensive positions that cannot be bypassed.
The enemy may use NBC weapons to break the momentum of the attack
or disrupt the synchronization of friendly assets. The attacker
needs engineer support and obscurant assets to breach complex
obstacle systems. These obstacle systems may include chemical
mines and flame weapons.
Reserves remain in concealed positions
until required. These positions implement passive NBC avoidance
measures, such as overhead cover, covered supplies and equipment,
and a warning system. Where possible, commanders direct an NBC
recon of routes into the zone of attack.
Friendly forces use obscurants in
both hasty and deliberate attacks. Mortars, vehicle-launched grenades,
and smoke pots obscure enemy target acquisition in the hasty attack.
Additional planning time allows pre-positioning of ammunition
for preplanned artillery and aerial-delivered rocket smoke. Mechanized
smoke units screen routes of advance and aid in disengagement
from the enemy.
Friendly forces follow initial success
with relentless pursuit. Commanders use NBC recon to identify
contamination along main routes of advance. A fleeing enemy may
use chemical weapons more freely than one fighting a well-planned
defense. The retreating enemy commander may be willing to contaminate
terrain. He may also be willing to accept large numbers of civilian
casualties. In addition, he may use nuclear weapons previously
kept in reserve.
When nuclear weapons have been authorized,
attacking forces use them to destroy enemy nuclear and chemical
delivery means and attack enemy reserves. The attacker may block
escape routes with tree blowdown, fires, and rubble from nuclear
Projected smoke and vehicle smoke
systems increase survivability in the exploitation and pursuit.
Artillery, mortars, mechanized smoke systems, and pots provide
screening smoke for river-crossing and breaching operations. Obscurants
also support consolidation, refueling, rearming, and casualty
evacuation by degrading surveillance and target acquisition.
Offensive objectives are of two basic types - those that focus on destroying the enemy and those that focus on seizing terrain. In either event the commander must recognize when he is approaching the culmination. At this point he will have expended so much of his strength and resources that he will lose his advantage over the enemy. He must shift to the defense long enough to rearm and refit to return to the offense. Chemical units support this shift. Smoke units conceal friendly positions and intentions. Decon units conduct thorough decon according to the command priority. NBC recon units actively patrol proposed routes to provide information to the commander. Air assault operations in an NBC environment can support the transition to the defense. Helicopters can allow combat units to bypass contamination; extract contaminated equipment and personnel; conduct air MEDEVAC of NBC casualties; and enhance the NBCWRS with aerial radiological and chemical recon.
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