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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Chapter 5

NBC Recon in the Combat Area

During combat operations, NBC recon units operate throughout the framework of the battlefield. In the forward combat area, NBC recon elements are integrated into the overall recon and surveillance effort. NBC recon units generally are employed to either confirm or deny contaminated areas, or to confirm areas are clear of contamination.

Whatever the method used to employ NBC recon units, their efforts must be focused by the IPB and the supported commander's priority intelligence requirements (PIR) and intelligence requirements (IR).

The capabilities and limitations of the NBC recon systems found in the various units must be considered when developing the plan. M93 NBCRS NBC recon units are best employed by squads, but can operate in sections or teams. M113/HMMWV-equipped units are best employed by sections, but can operate in squads or teams. Both M93-NBCRS-and M113-equipped units can be used to support maneuver forces. Because HMMWV-equipped units are less survivable, they are best employed with light and motorized maneuver forces or in rear areas. The M93 NBCRS can rapidly detect and identify chemical contamination. M113/HMMWV-equipped units detect and identify chemical agents at a slower rate.

Confirm or deny contaminated areas. When the IPB identifies possible contaminated areas in the area of operations, NBC recon can confirm or deny the presence of contamination. Templated areas of possible contamination that could affect the scheme of maneuver are designated as named areas of interest (NAIs). These NAIs are included in the recon and surveillance (R&S) plan. Supporting NBC recon elements are tasked in the R&S plan to observe selected NAIs. The NBC recon element can observe the designated NAIs through physical recon or by observation. If the NBC recon element conducts a physical recon of the NAI, the supporting unit may have to provide security. Detailed coordination with other recon assets is required to prevent duplication of effort and fratricide.

Confirm the area is clear of contamination. NBC recon elements are integrated into the combat formation. They move behind or with the lead maneuver force. If the formation encounters contamination, the NBC recon elements can deploy to find clear routes around it. The lead maneuver force provides security as the NBC recon elements attempt to find a bypass route. Once the bypass route is located, the NBC recon elements are integrated back into the formation in case there are additional contaminated areas.

Offensive Operations

The offense is the commander's primary means for gaining the initiative against an enemy force. Offensive operations are characterized by momentum and the initiative of subordinate commanders. Commanders must be flexible in making rapid shifts in the main effort to take advantage of opportunities, and to make rapid penetrations in the enemy's defense. Certain types of operations and certain conditions of climate or terrain will dictate modification of tactical techniques.

The primary purpose for offensive operations is to destroy the enemy and his ability and will to resist. This can be accomplished by defeating the integrity of his defensive systems and by driving deep into his rear areas to destroy artillery, command and control systems, command posts, reserves, and logistics support. Offensive operations also may be conducted to secure key or decisive terrain, deceive or misdirect enemy forces, deprive the enemy of resources, fix or isolate units, gain information, or spoil an enemy's offensive preparation. To be successful, our forces must be able to maintain agility and get to the right place at the right time. Threat forces may use weapons of mass destruction to slow down or impede attacking friendly forces. Use of weapons of mass destruction can disrupt the tempo and momentum of the attack, allowing the enemy to regain the initiative.

The NBC recon platoon organic to the armored and light cavalry regiments supplements the organic recon capabilities of subordinate cavalry squadrons. The NBC recon platoon may be employed at the regimental level or by the cavalry squadrons. NBC recon elements relieve troop scouts of the requirement to identify and mark contaminated areas, which facilitates the advance of the main body.

Divisional NBC recon platoons are employed with NBC recon assets from corps to maintain freedom of maneuver for the division's combat forces on axes of advance, main supply routes (MSRS), and critical areas identified by the commander. The platoon should be oriented on the greatest threat of persistent chemical contamination as identified by the IPB. During offensive operations, the platoon can support the division's main effort with three squads.

The corps NBC recon company employs its three platoons in the corps sector and division rear areas, checking mobility corridors for follow-on forces, MSRS, and critical facilities that support regeneration and sustainment of combat power. NBC recon platoons also can be dedicated to supplement NBC recon requirements of the division with the main attack, exploitation forces, or critical areas established by the corps commander. This will contribute to maintaining the momentum at the critical time and place to take advantage of favorable situations. The NBC recon platoon's organization for combat is based on METT-T, depending on the commander's concept of the operation and priorities.

Commanders should employ NBC recon units to reconnoiter known or likely areas of NBC contamination identified by the IPB. Employ NBC recon assets in areas of interest and/or on critical axes of advance for supported units when NBC contamination hazards would prevent our forces from accomplishing their mission. NBC recon elements also can be integrated into the combat formations to provide a rapid response to nuclear and chemical contamination hazards.

Movement to Contact

Movement to contact is an operation to gain or re-establish enemy contact. Neither side may clearly have the initiative. Flexibility is key and contamination avoidance is critical to maintaining flexibility. Once units enter contaminated areas, the commander's freedom of action is degraded. NBC recon units will allow the commander to retain freedom of maneuver. Corps and divisions normally organize into a covering force, advance guard, and a main body for movement to contacts.

The covering force operates at extended distances from the main body and must be self-contained. The advanced guard is the security force provided by the main body which operates forward to protect from surprise attack. Additionally, the advance guard protects the main body when it is committed to action. The main body is the force task organized and prepared for immediate action upon enemy contact. Combat and combat support units are task organized as necessary to maintain momentum. The IPB will identify the areas of greatest threat from NBC contamination. The commander will task organize his or her supporting NBC recon units to meet the identified threat. If the commander has no supporting NBC recon units, he or she will assign the task of NBC recon to cavalry and scout units. These units will perform this task in addition to their primary missions.

Planning Considerations

The following planning considerations must be observed:

  • Focus of NBC recon operations is to provide the commander flexibility.
  • Task organize supporting NBC recon units based on the IPB and METT-T.
  • Identify known or suspected areas of contamination.
  • Priority of NBC recon support to lead maneuver forces.
  • The advance guard force should be NBC recon heavy.
  • Coordinate for (after mission) decontamination.

Employment Concepts

In Figure 5-1, an armored cavalry regiment (ACR) is performing a movement to contact. Because the IPB has identified the possibility of contamination in the zone, each squadron is supported by an NBC recon squad. The squadron attaches the NBC recon squad to the troop that will most likely come in contact with a contaminated area. The squadron and regiment's IPB indicates where the enemy would use or have used persistent chemical agents. Even though the squad is attached to a cavalry troop, the squadron commander task organizes as necessary. The NBC recon squad will react to any contamination located by ground and air scout recon patrols.

Figure 5-2 shows an example of a division movement to contact with a brigade advance guard, followed by two brigades. The lead brigade receives the entire divisional NBC recon platoon. By weighing the advance guard with NBC recon assets, the division facilitates flexibility. When the advance guard encounters contamination, bypass routes can be quickly identified, and the division's main body can proceed forward at its planned speed. The platoon leader chooses to employ his or her platoon in a section organization. When the lead combat force encounters contamination, the section can quickly locate a by-pass route to facilitate the forward movement of the advance guard. One team will remain behind to survey the contaminated area to facilitate follow-on forces.

Hasty and Deliberate Attack

Attacks may be launched from a movement to contact, from a defensive posture, from behind a friendly defending force, or during exploitation or pursuit. There are two basic types--deliberate and hasty. The two are distinguished by the extent of preparation. NBC recon is employed to enhance maneuver and agility of the attacking force. NBC recon units allow the force to avoid contaminated areas.

Hasty attacks are not planned in detail. This type of attack is usually initiated by a fragmentary order. Forces deploy, rapidly maneuver, and attack quickly and violently to gain the initiative. NBC recon support must be responsive and flexible.

Planning Considerations

  • Use NBC recon operations to provide the commander flexibility and facilitate synchronization.
  • Identify known or suspected areas of contamination.
  • Focus NBC recon assets to retain freedom of maneuver.
  • Give priority of NBC recon support to lead maneuver forces.
  • Identify possible contaminated areas and possible bypass routes.

Employment Concepts

Figure 5-3 depicts a division conducting a deliberate attack. Elements of the division's NBC recon platoon normally are employed behind the lead task force along the main axis of advance. This provides security for the NBC recon platoon and places it well forward to react to any contamination encountered by the lead task force. If contamination is encountered, the lead task force goes to MOPP4 status and continues to attack; the NBC recon platoon finds bypasses around the contamination for the follow-on forces.

A platoon from the corps NBC recon company reinforces the division conducting the corps main attack by providing NBC recon support on routes of reinforcement and on MSRs. The corps NBC recon company employs its remaining platoons in the same manner but in support of the corps. The NBC recon platoon in the ACR responds to reports of contamination in its area of operation and in critical areas determined by the commander. The ACR should accompany the main attack force probably behind the lead division to act as an exploition force.

Figure 5-4 is an example of a battalion task force (TF) supported by an NBC recon squad. The NBC recon squad is attached to the TF's scout platoon. The S2 and chemical officer have templated a possible persistent chemical attack that could influence maneuver along the TF's planned axis of advance. The NBC recon squad has the mission of performing a route recon along the TF's planned axis to the designated NAI. The NBC recon squad will confirm or deny the presence of contamination at the NAI. The main body of the scout platoon will cross the line of departure three hours before the NBC recon squad. A tank platoon will be on standby to assist the NBC recon squad if the squad contacts enemy forces and cannot break contact. The scouts moving ahead of the NBC recon squad provide a minimum of security to the NBC recon squad.

The division NBC recon elements play a vital role in maintaining freedom of maneuver for the enveloping force. The corps NBC recon elements may support units that are fixing the enemy or are in reserve. NBC recon elements should be positioned with the division cavalry or task force forward element behind the scouts when possible, and integrated into the overall recon effort. The integration of the recon assets will enhance local security and the capabilities of each recon unit. The NBC recon element is a critical specialized element and must be positioned and provided security by the supported unit when enemy contact is expected.

Exploitation and Pursuit Operations

Exploitation and pursuit operations begin immediately from the attack. Exploitation is the bold continuation of an attack following initial success. Pursuit is the relentless destruction of fleeing enemy forces that no longer have the capability to resist. Fleeing enemy forces may use chemical weapons more freely than an enemy executing a well-prepared defense. This will necessitate the employment of NBC recon units.

Planning Considerations

  • Focus NBC recon operations to provide the commander flexibility and speed.
  • Ensure NBC recon support is agile and flexible.
  • Mark and report all identified areas of contamination and control access into these areas.

  • Be prepared to encounter enemy stockpiles of NBC weapons.
  • Be prepared to encounter the effects of destroying enemy NBC weapons stockpiles, facilities, and commercial chemical /nuclear facilities.
  • Focus NBC recon assets to retain freedom of maneuver.
  • Give priority of NBC recon support to lead maneuver forces.

Employment Concepts

Pursuit normally follows a successful exploitation. The primary function of pursuit is to complete the destruction of the enemy force. As a successful exploitation develops and the enemy begins to lose the ability to influence the situation, the division or brigade may be ordered to execute the pursuit. During the pursuit, the attacking force may orient its advance toward a physical objective; however, the mission is the destruction of the enemy's main force. Threat forces can feel pressured into using NBC weapons to prevent an attacking force from destroying them. They may use NBC weapons to slow or impede the pursuit force so they can reorganize, reconstitute, and regain the initiative. For this reason, NBC recon assets should be placed just behind the lead task forces to react to any contamination the pursuit force may encounter.

River Crossing Operations

River crossings are conducted as part of division or corps schemes of maneuver. There are two types of river crossings: deliberate and hasty. The size of the river, as well as the enemy and friendly situation, dictate the crossing technique. Deliberate river crossings require detailed planning and coordination, a buildup of firepower, and centralized command and control. Hasty river crossings use expedient means and are conducted with minimal planning.

River crossing operations present lucrative targets for enemy NBC weapons. NBC recon units are employed in a contamination avoidance role on the far side to allow the momentum of the operation to continue. Also, NBC recon units are prepared to respond to NBC attacks in the crossing areas. NBC recon elements need to be positioned to support the crossing sites and the routes to the crossing sites. The elements need to move with the lead maneuver force across the river to find clear routes around contaminated areas on the far side.

Planning Considerations

  • Focus of NBC recon operations is to provide the commander flexibility and speed.
  • The probability of enemy NBC attacks is high.
  • Focus NBC recon assets to retain freedom of maneuver in the crossing area.
  • Be prepared to shift NBC recon assets to the far side with the initial assault force.

Employment Concepts

A brigade is conducting a deliberate river crossing as in Figure 5-5. The brigade is being supported by an NBC recon squad. The IPB has identified the best time for the enemy to employ chemical weapons is once bridges are across the river. This will slow the tempo of the crossing effort and allow enemy forces to reposition and possibly counterattack. The NBC recon squad has the primary mission of providing surveillance on the bridging sites and the secondary mission of providing periodic route recon along the routes to the crossing sites, If chemical weapons are used on a crossing site, the squad will rapidly identify the agent and the extent of contamination. This information will allow the brigade commander to make a decision to continue to use the crossing site, shift all forces to the other crossing site, or to initiate another crossing operation.

Passage of Lines

A passage of lines is an operation in which one force moves through another force either to come into (forward) or to move out of (rearward) contact with the enemy.

A forward passage of lines is an operation in which a unit passes through another that is in contact with the enemy to continue the attack. On receipt of the warning order directing the passage of line, the incoming unit establishes liaison with the unit in contact to begin detailed planning of the operation. The incoming unit normally collocates its TAC or main CP with the TAC or main CP of the unit in contact. The vulnerability to enemy NBC attacks increases during the passage operation because of the large number of forces in the passage area. NBC recon elements need to be positioned by the unit in contact at the passage points to provide immediate assistance if the passage lanes become contaminated.

A rearward passage of lines is an operation in which a unit affecting a retrograde movement (withdrawal) passes through the sector of a unit occupying a rearward defensive position. The planning and coordination of a rearward passage is identical with that of the forward passage. The withdrawing unit must have priority on an adequate number of roads and facilities to allow its rapid movement through the defended area, The vulnerability to enemy NBC attacks increases during the passage operation because of the large number of forces in the passage area. NBC recon elements need to be positioned by the defending unit at the passage points to provide immediate assistance if the passage lanes become contaminated.

Planning Considerations

  • Focus of NBC recon operations is to provide the commander flexibility and synchronization.
  • Position NBC recon assets to react to NBC attacks during the passage operation.
  • Determine alternate routes in case the primary passage lanes become contaminated.
  • The possibility of enemy NBC attacks increases during the passage of lines.

Defensive Operations

The main purpose of a defensive operation is to cause an attack to fail by destroying enemy forces. The defense is a temporary state that creates conditions that permit the unit to survive the initial shock of the attack, to halt the enemy, and then exploit the initiative and go on the offensive. Divisions perform multiple operations in support of a corps-level defense. NBC recon doctrine and operations apply to the operational tenets and are integrated into unit operations.

NBC recon units serve as a valuable asset for the commander in support of operations. When weapons of mass destruction are used on the battlefield, NBC recon provides critical information to the commander for making rapid and sound tactical decisions. The commander also uses this information to maintain freedom of maneuver for his forces. Applied to individual soldiers and leaders, it requires a willingness and ability to act independently within the framework of the higher commander's intent. Leaders are adept at determining their NBC defense needs and taking critical actions in a timely manner.

Operations under NBC conditions cause individual and unit degradation, requiring leaders to set appropriate protection levels. Effective use of NBC recon and NBC defense measures enable the task force to steal the initiative from the enemy or keep the enemy off balance.

Covering force units protect main battle area (MBA) units from surprise. They also allow MBA forces time to deploy and move to meet enemy attacks, prevent the delivery of enemy medium-range artillery fire against MBA units, and deceive the enemy as to the location of the main defensive positions. NBC recon units supporting either the ACR or other covering forces focus their effort toward rearward passage routes.

The overall battle matures in the main battle area. The main battle area usually represents the critical area for friendly ground forces to defeat the assaulting enemy forces. The enemy will attempt to use primarily persistent contamination in terrain denial for various intentions.

NBC recon units should dedicate their assets to ensuring freedom of movement along battalion and brigade routes of reinforcement, to forward and rearward mobility corridors, and other critical areas identified by the commander. The division NBC recon platoon should be employed in support of the counterattacking forces. However, during delay missions, the recon platoon may be used for checking rearward routes between battle positions and critical choke points where the enemy may employ persistent chemical contamination.

Figure 5-6 depicts the positioning of NBC recon elements in support of defensive operations. The NBC recon platoon is kept under division control. The division may place the NBC recon squad under operational control (OPCON) of the brigade as required to conduct the following type missions:

  • Route recon.
  • Confirm or deny NBC hazards in identified NAIs.
  • Perform recon as part of a quartering party.
  • Support the counterattack conducted by the division reserve force.

The corps NBC recon company should employ its platoons to identify critical contaminated areas that may affect operations, lateral routes of reinforcement, corps counterattack routes, and high speed routes of resupply. The ACR's NBC recon platoon is employed along mobility corridors, lateral routes of reinforcement and contaminated areas identified in the ACR's area of operation.

Reserve Operations

The reserve force is designed to provide the commander with flexibility for influencing the actions of his committed forces. The reserve force also reinforces the defense of committed forces, contains enemy forces that have penetrated the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA), reacts to rear area threats, relieves depleted units, and provides for continuous operations.

Division and corps NBC recon elements normally are employed in support of that unit's counterattacking force to ensure freedom of maneuver. In addition to the designated reserve forces, division and brigade commanders prepare to reorganize or redesignate a reserve once the initial reserve force is committed. Prior to committing the reserve force, the NBC recon elements, along with engineers, are assigned mobility tasks in support of the reserve commander's multiple routes of movement. It is essential that control of NBC reconnaissance elements, organized to support the reserve, passes to them in sufficient time to link up, resupply, reorganize, and rehearse to support the reserve mission.

Withdrawal Operations

NBC recon assets from corps are employed to conduct NBC recon of withdrawal routes, flank security, and passage points to check reports of possible contamination. Route recon is essential to ensure that bypasses are found around contamination to avoid congestion, and ensure the disengaging force can distance itself from the enemy as quickly as possible. NBC recon units must be highly responsive to enemy attempts to slow or redirect the withdrawal through the use of NBC weapons.

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