Introduction to Offense
Platoon leaders and squad leaders must understand the principles and TTPs associated with the offense. They must comprehend their role when operating within a larger organization’s operations, and when operating independently. Leaders must recognize the complementary and reinforcing effects of other maneuver elements and supporting elements with their own capabilities, and also understand the impact of open or restrictive terrain on their operations. The platoon conducts the offense to deprive the enemy of resources, seize decisive terrain, deceive or divert the enemy, develop intelligence, or hold an enemy in position. This chapter covers the basic principles of the offense, common offensive planning considerations, actions on contact, movement to contact, attack, and transitions.
Conduct of the Offense
Characteristics of the Offense
Forms of Maneuver
Common Offensive Control Measures
Sequence of the Offense
2-1. The leader seizes, retains, and exploits the initiative when conducting offensive tasks. Even when conducting primarily defensive tasks, taking the initiative from the enemy requires offensive tasks that are force- or terrain-oriented. Force-oriented tasks focus on the enemy. Terrain-oriented tasks focus on seizing and retaining control of terrain and facilities. (Refer to FM 3-90-1 for more information.)
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OFFENSE
An infantryman provides security for members of his platoon.
2-2. The Infantry platoon and squad gains, maintains the initiative and keeps constant pressure on the enemy throughout its area of operation. Success in the offense greatly depends upon the proper application of the characteristics of the offense discussed in the following paragraphs.
2-3. Audacity is a simple plan of action, boldly executed. Audacity inspires Soldiers to overcome adversity and danger. It is a key component of all offensive actions, increasing the chance for surprise. Audacity depends upon the leader’s ability to see opportunities for action, decide in enough time to seize opportunities, and accept prudent risks. Leaders understand when and where to take risks, plan, and execute boldly.
2-4. Concentration is the massing of overwhelming effects of combat power to achieve a single purpose. Leaders balance the necessity for concentrating forces to mass effects against the need to disperse forces in order to avoid creating lucrative targets. Advances in ground, air mobility, target acquisition, and long-range precision fires enable attackers to concentrate effects. Mission command systems provide reliable, relevant information that assist commanders in determining when to concentrate forces to mass effects. The Infantry platoon and squad achieves concentration through—
Careful planning and coordination based on a thorough terrain and enemy analysis, plus accurate reconnaissance.
Designation of a main effort and allocation of resources to support it.
Continuous information flow.
Massing firepower using long-range precision fires and maneuver.
2-5. In the offense, surprise is achieved by attacking the enemy at a time or place they do not expect or in a manner for which they are unprepared. Estimating the enemy commander’s intent and denying the ability to gain thorough and timely situational understanding are necessary to achieve surprise. Unpredictability and boldness help gain surprise. The direction, timing, and force of attack also help achieve surprise. Surprise delays enemy reactions, overloads and confuse his command and control systems, induces psychological shock in enemy soldiers and leaders, and reduces the coherence of defensive missions. By diminishing enemy combat power, surprise enables the attackers to exploit enemy paralysis and hesitancy. The Infantry platoon and squad achieve surprise by—
Gaining and maintaining information dominance by conducting thorough information collection and counterreconnaissance efforts.
Striking the enemy from an unexpected direction, at an unexpected time, and by unique combinations of movement with units that cross all types of terrain.
Quickly changing the tempo of operations.
2-6. Tempo is the relative speed and rhythm of military operations over time with respect to the enemy. Controlling or altering tempo is necessary to retain the initiative. A faster tempo allows attackers to quickly penetrate barriers and defenses, and destroy enemy forces in-depth before they can react. Leaders adjust tempo as tactical situations, sustainment necessity, or operational opportunities allow. This ensures synchronization and proper coordination, but not at the expense of losing opportunities, that defeats the enemy. Rapid tempo demands quick decisions. It denies the enemy the chance to rest while continually creating offensive opportunities.
Read the following historical example “A Lesson in Battle Tempo: The Union Pursuit after Gettysburg”. ─ SELECT HERE
2-7. The four offensive tasks are movement to contact, attack, exploitation, and pursuit. Each is explained below.
MOVEMENT TO CONTACT
2-8. Movement to contact is an offensive task designed to develop the situation and establish or regain contact. (Refer to FM 3-90-1 for more information.) It creates favorable conditions for subsequent tactical actions. The leader conducts a movement to contact when the enemy situation is vague or not specific enough to conduct an attack. Forces executing this task seek to make contact with the smallest friendly force possible. A movement to contact may result in a meeting engagement, which is a combat action occurring when a moving force engages aSen enemy at an unexpected time and place. Once making contact with an enemy force, the leader has five options: attack, defend, bypass, delay, or withdraw. Two movement to contact techniques are search and attack and cordon and search.
2-9. An attack destroys or defeats enemy forces, seizes and secures terrain, or both. (Refer to FM 3-90-1 for more information.) Attacks incorporate coordinated movement supported by direct and indirect fires. They may be decisive or shaping operations and hasty or deliberate, depending upon the time available for assessing the situation, planning, and preparing. However, based on METT-TC, the leader may decide to conduct an attack using only fires. An attack differs from a movement to contact because enemy main body dispositions are at least partially known, allowing the leader to achieve greater synchronization. This enables the massing effects of attacking forces combat power more effective in an attack than in a movement to contact.
2-10. Exploitation follows an attack and disorganizes the enemy in depth (Refer to FM 3-90-1 for more information.) Exploitations seek to disintegrate enemy forces to the point where they have no alternative but surrender or retreat. Exploitation take advantage of tactical opportunities, foreseen or unforeseen. Division and higher headquarters normally plan site exploitations as branches or sequels plans. However, the Infantry platoon and squad may participate as part of the fixing force or striking force.
2-11. A pursuit is an offensive task designed to catch or cut off a hostile force attempting to escape, with the aim of destroying them. (Refer to FM 3-90-1.) A pursuit normally follows exploitation. Transition into a pursuit can occur if it is apparent enemy resistance has broken down entirely and the enemy is fleeing the area of operation. Pursuits entail rapid movement , decentralized control and clear commanders’ intent to facilitate control.
FORMS OF MANEUVER
2-12. Leaders select the form of maneuver based on METT-TC. The leader then synchronizes the contributions of all warfighting functions to the selected form of maneuver. An operation may contain several forms of offensive maneuver, such as frontal attack to clear enemy security forces, followed by a penetration to create a gap in enemy defenses, which in turn is followed by an envelopment to destroy a counterattacking force. While Infantry platoons and squads do not have the combat power to conduct all forms of maneuver on its own, they will participate as part of a larger organization. The six forms of maneuver are ─
2-13. Envelopment is a form of maneuver in which an attacking force seeks to avoid the principal enemy defenses by seizing objectives behind those defenses allowing the targeted enemy force to be destroyed in their current positions. BCTs and above normally plan and conduct envelopments. At the tactical level, envelopments focus on seizing terrain, destroying specific enemy forces, and interdicting enemy withdrawal routes. The leader’s decisive operation focuses on attacking an assailable flank. It avoids the enemy’s strength at the front where the effects of fires and obstacles are greatest. Generally, the leader prefers to conduct envelopment instead of a penetration or frontal attack because the attacking force tends to suffer fewer casualties while having the most opportunities to destroy the enemy. Envelopment also produces great psychological shock on the enemy. If no assailable flank is available, the attacking force creates one. The four varieties of envelopment are single envelopment, double envelopment, encirclement, and vertical envelopment. (See figure 2-1.)
Figure 2-1. Envelopment
2-14. A turning movementis a form of maneuver in which the attacking force seeks to avoid the enemy’s principle defensive positions by seizing objectives behind the enemy’s current position. This causes the enemy forces to move out of their current positions or divert major forces to meet the threat. The leader uses this form of offensive maneuver to seize vital areas in the enemy’s support area before the main enemy force can withdraw or receive reinforcements. This form of offensive maneuver transitions from an attack into a site exploitation or pursuit. A turning movement seeks to make the enemy force displace from their current locations, whereas an enveloping force seeks to engage the enemy in their current locations from an unexpected direction. Divisions normally execute turning movements. (See figure 2-2.)
Figure 2-2. Turning Movement
2-15. A frontal attack is a form of maneuver where an attacking force seeks to destroy a weaker enemy force, or fix a larger enemy in place over a broad front. An attacking force can use a frontal attack to overrun a weak enemy force. The leader commonly uses a frontal attack as a shaping operation in conjunction with other forms of maneuver. (See figure 2-3.)
Figure 2-3. Frontal attack
2-16. A penetration is a form of maneuver where an attacking force seeks to rupture enemy defenses in a narrow front to disrupt the defensive system. Destroying the continuity of defense allows the enemy’s subsequent isolation and defeat in detail by exploiting friendly forces. The penetration extends from the enemy’s security area through main defensive positions into the enemy support area. The leader employs a penetration when there is no assailable flank, enemy defenses are overextended and weak spots are detected in the enemy’s positions, or time pressures do not permit envelopment. (See figure 2-4.)
Figure 2-4. Penetration
2-17. An infiltration is a form of maneuver where an attacking force conducts undetected movement through or into an area controlled by enemy forces. The goal is to occupy a position of advantage behind enemy positions while exposing only small friendly elements to their defensive fires. Infiltration occurs by land, water, air, or a combination of means. Moving and assembling forces covertly through enemy positions takes a considerable amount of time. To infiltrate, the force avoids detection and engagement. Since this requirement limits the size and strength of the infiltrating force, and infiltrated forces alone rarely can defeat an enemy, infiltration normally is used in conjunction with and in support for other forms of maneuver. (See figure 2-5.)
Figure 2-5. Infiltration
2-18. A flanking attack is a form of offensive maneuver directed at the flank of an enemy force as illustrated in figure 2-6. A flank is the right or left side of a military formation and is not oriented toward the enemy. It is usually not as strong in terms of forces or fires as is the front of a military formation. A flank may be created by the attacker with fires or by a successful penetration. A flanking attack is similar to envelopment but generally conducted on a shallower axis. It is designed to defeat the enemy force while minimizing the effect of the frontally-oriented combat power. Flanking attacks normally are conducted with the main effort directed at the flank of the enemy. Usually, a supporting effort engages the front by fire and maneuver while the main effort maneuvers to attack the enemy‘s flank. This supporting effort diverts the enemy’s attention from the threatened flank. Corps and divisions are the most likely echelons to conduct turning movements. It often is used for a hasty operation or meeting engagement where speed and simplicity are paramount to maintaining battle tempo and, ultimately, the initiative.
Figure 2-6 Flank Attack
COMMON OFFENSIVE CONTROL MEASURES
2-19. The higher commander defines the commander’s intent and establishes control measures allowing for decentralized execution and platoon leader initiative to the greatest extent. Common control measures for the offense are the —
Attack by fire position.
Axis of advance.
Battle handover line.
Direction of attack.
Final coordination line.
Limit of advance.
Line of departure.
Point of departure.
Probable line of deployment.
Support of fire position.
Time of attack.
2-20. An area of operation defines the location where the subordinate units conduct their offensive. One technique breaks the battalion and company area of operation into many named smaller area of operation. Units remain in designated area of operation as they conduct their missions. Battalion and higher reconnaissance assets might be used to observe area of operation with no platoons in them, while platoons or companies provide their own reconnaissance in the area of operation. This technique, along with target reference points ( TRPs), help avoid fratricide in noncontiguous environments. A TRP facilitates the responsiveness of fixing and finishing elements once the reconnaissance element detects the enemy. Objectives and checkpoints guide the movement of subordinates and help leaders control their organizations. Contact points help coordination among the units operating in adjacent areas.
2-21. When looking for terrain features to use as control measures, leaders consider three types: contiguous; point; and area. Contiguous features follow major natural and man-made features such as ridgelines, valleys, trails, streams, power lines, and streets. Point features can be identified by a specific feature or a grid coordinate including, hilltops and prominent buildings. Area features are significantly larger than point features and require a combination of grid coordinates and terrain orientation.
SEQUENCE OF THE OFFENSE
2-22. Offensive tasks are typically executed in a five-step sequence. This sequence is for discussion purposes only and is not the only way of conducting offensive tasks. These sequences overlap during the conduct of the offense. Normally the first three steps are shaping operations, while the maneuver step is the decisive operation. Follow through is usually a sequel or branch to the plan based upon the situation. The five-step sequence of the offense during execution is —
Gain and maintain enemy contact.
Disrupt the enemy.
Fix the enemy.
Offensive tasks are typically executed in a five-step sequence.
Common Offensive Planning Considerations
Tactical Mission Tasks
Movement and Maneuver
Additional Planning Considerations
2-23. The warfighting functions are critical activities leaders use to plan, to prepare, and to execute. Synchronization and coordination among the warfighting functions is critical for success. This section discusses warfighting functions and other planning considerations.
2-24. In the Infantry platoon, the platoon leader is the central figure in mission command and is essential to integrating the capabilities of the warfighting functions. Mission command invokes the greatest possible freedom of action to his subordinates, facilitating their abilities to develop the situation, adapt, and act decisively through disciplined initiative within the platoon leader’s intent. It focuses on empowering subordinate leaders and sharing information to facilitate decentralized execution.
2-25. Mission command conveys the leader’s intent, and an appreciation of METT-TC, with special emphasis on—
Enemy positions, strengths, and capabilities.
Missions and objectives, including task and purpose, for each subordinate element.
Areas of operations for use of each subordinate element with associated control graphics.
Time the operation is to begin.
Scheme of maneuver.
Special tasks required to accomplish the mission.
Options for accomplishing the mission.
Watch the following video to learn more about Mission Command.
2-26. In addition to mission command warfighting function tasks, five additional tasks reside within the mission command warfighting function. These tasks are—
Conduct military deception.
Conduct civil affairs operations.
Install, operate, and maintain the network.
Conduct airspace control.
Conduct information protection.
2-27. The planning and coordination requirements and procedures for offensive tasks are the same for both mechanized and Stryker Infantry units. The mechanized and Stryker platoon leader, however, must consider the following:
The speed of the BFV versus speed of the dismounted Infantryman.
The increased firepower of the BFV and Stryker and supporting weapons.
The ability to rapidly bring combat power to bear at the decisive point with enhanced communication and coordination capabilities.
Read the following vignette “Understanding Mission Command” to gain a better understanding of Mission Command. ─ SELECT HERE
TACTICAL MISSION TASKS
2-28. Tactical mission tasks describe the results or effects the commander wants to achieve—the what and why of a mission statement. The “what” is an effect that is normally measurable. The “why” of a mission statement provides the mission’s purpose.
2-29. The following paragraphs are select tactical mission tasks that a platoon may receive that are typically associated with offensive tasks. Each are described below.
Note. The situations used in this section are examples only. For the complete list, see FM 3-90-1. They are not applicable in every tactical operation, nor intended to prescribe specific method for achieving the purpose of the operation.
2-30. A platoon may conduct a breach during an attack to break through or secure a passage through an enemy defense, obstacle, minefield, or fortification. A platoon can participate in a hasty breach or participate as part of a larger unit during the conduct of a deliberate breach. A deliberate breach requires a synchronized combined arms operation.
2-31. A platoon defeats an enemy force when the enemy force has temporarily or permanently lost the physical means or the will to fight. During a defeat, the defeated force’s leader is unwilling or unable to pursue his adopted course of action, thereby yielding to the friendly commander’s will. Also, he can no longer interfere with the actions of friendly forces to a significant degree.
2-32. A platoon destroys an enemy force when it physically renders an enemy force combat-ineffective until it is reconstituted. A platoon can destroy an enemy force by—
Executing an ambush where the entire enemy element is in the kill zone.
Using surprise direct and indirect fire into an engagement area.
Coordinating direct and indirect fires onto an objective.
Massing indirect fires onto an unprepared enemy
2-33. A platoon has seized an objective when it physically occupies it and the enemy can no longer place direct fire on it. A platoon may seize during either offensive or defensive tasks. Examples include—
A platoon seizes the far side of an obstacle as part of a company team breach.
A platoon seizes a portion of an enemy defense as part of a company team deliberate attack.
A platoon seizes key terrain to prevent its use by the enemy.
2-34. A platoon or squad has suppressed an enemy when the enemy cannot prevent our forces from accomplishing their mission. It is a temporary measure. The platoon can use direct fire or call in indirect and obscuring fires. Units in support and attack by fire positions often use suppressive fires to accomplish their mission. It is often used by the platoon during an attack to—
Allow further movement of friendly forces.
Isolate an objective by suppressing enemy units in mutually supporting positions.
Cover the dismounted assault element from the line of departure (LD) to the objective.
MOVEMENT AND MANEUVER
2-35. The platoon leader conducts maneuver to avoid enemy strengths and create opportunities that increase the effects of combat power. Surprise is achieved by making unexpected maneuvers, rapidly changing the tempo of ongoing operations, avoiding observation, and using deceptive techniques and procedures. The platoon leader seeks to overwhelm the enemy with one or more unexpected actions before it has time to react in an organized fashion. This occurs when the attacking force is able to engage the defending enemy force from positions of advantage with respect to the enemy, such as engaging from a flanking position.
2-36. The platoon leader maneuvers the platoon to close with and destroy the enemy by close combat and shock effect. Close combat is direct-fire and movement warfare carried out on land and supported by direct-, indirect-, and air-delivered fires. (Refer to ADRP 3-0 for more information.) Close combat defeats or destroys enemy forces, or seizes and retains ground.
2-37. The movement and maneuver warfighting function includes the following tasks —
Employ direct fires.
Occupy an area.
Conduct mobility and countermobility operations.
Employ battlefield obscuration.
Soldiers taking part in a dismounted training course that focuses on movement, room clearing and troop leading procedures.
2-38. Leaders use threat event templates, the situation template, the likely threat course of action COA, the most dangerous threat COA, civil consideration products, terrain products, and other intelligence products. The platoon leader may need to request information through the company intelligence support team (CoIST) company intelligence analyst from the battalion staff to answer platoon information requirements. (Refer to FM 3-21.10 for more information.)
2-39. By studying the terrain, the leader tries to determine the principal enemy heavy and light avenues of approach to the objective. Leaders also try to determine the most advantageous area the enemy’s main defense might occupy, routes the enemy may use to conduct counterattacks, and other factors such as OAKOC. The attacking unit continuously conducts information collection during the battle because it is unlikely the leader has complete knowledge of the enemy’s intentions and actual actions.
Watch the following video to gain a better understanding of gathering information.
2-40. The platoon leader must have a good indirect fire plan for his route to cover anticipated places of contact. These targets are a product of the platoon leader’s analysis of the factors of METT-TC
2-41. Leaders conduct fires planning concurrently with maneuver planning at all levels. BCTs and battalions typically use top-down fire support planning, with bottom-up refinement of plans. As part of the top-down fire planning system, the company commander refines the fire plan from higher headquarters to meet mission requirements, ensuring these refinements are incorporated into the higher headquarters plan.
2-42. A clearly defined concept of the operation enables the platoon leader and FO to articulate precisely how they want indirect fires to affect the enemy during the different phases of the operation. In turn, this allows the company FSO to facilitate the development of fires supporting accomplishment of the company’s mission down to the squad level. (Refer to ADRP 3-09 for more information.)
U.S. Soldiers fire 120mm mortars.
2-43. The objective of sustainment in the offense is to assist the leader in maintaining the momentum. The leader wants to take advantage of windows of opportunity and launch offensive tasks with minimum advance warning time. Logistics, personnel planners, and operators anticipate these events and maintain flexibility to support the offensive plan accordingly.
2.44. A key to an offense is the ability to anticipate the requirement to push support forward, specifically in regard to ammunition, fuel, and water. This anticipation helps maintain the momentum of attack by delivering supplies as far forward as possible. Leaders use throughput distribution, and preplanned, preconfigured packages of essential items to help maintain offensive momentum and tempo.
2-45. The rapid tempo and changing nature of the offense presents challenges to the protection of friendly assets. The forward movement of subordinate units is critical if the leader is to maintain the initiative necessary for offensive tasks. Denying the enemy a chance to plan, prepare, and execute a response to the friendly offense by maintaining a high operational tempo is a vital means the leader employs to ensure the survivability of his force. Using multiple routes, dispersion, highly mobile forces, piecemeal destruction of isolated enemy forces, scheduled rotation and relief of forces before they culminate, and wise use of terrain are techniques for maintaining a high tempo of offense. The exact techniques employed in a specific situation reflect METT-TC.
2-46 The leader protects subordinate forces to deny the enemy the capability to interfere with their ongoing operations. Protection also meets the leader’s legal and moral obligations to the organization’s Soldiers. Some protection assets may need to be requested from higher. (Refer to ADRP 3-37 for more information.) To help preserve the force, the leader constantly assesses and ensures the following doctrinal protection tasks are addressed during the unit’s planning, preparation, and execution ─
Conduct operational area security.
Employ safety techniques (including fratricide avoidance).
Implement operation security.
Provide intelligence support to protection.
Implement physical security procedures.
Apply antitank measures.
Conduct survivability operations.
Conduct CBRN operations.
Provide support for EOD.
Coordinate air and missile defense.
ADDITIONAL PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS
2-47. Additional offensive planning considerations include urban terrain, air assault operations, and operations in mountainous terrain.
Air Assault Operations
2-48. Air assaults are high-risk, high-payoff missions. When properly planned and vigorously executed, these missions allow leaders to generate combat power and apply warfighting functions. An air assault can provide leadership the means to control the tempo of operations, enabling rapid execution of operations to retain or exploit the initiative.
2-49. An air assault task force is most effective in environments where limited lines of communications are available to the enemy, who also lacks air superiority and effective air defense systems. It should not be employed in roles requiring deliberate operations over an extended period, and is best employed in situations providing a calculated advantage due to surprise, terrain, threat, or mobility. In particular, an air assault task force is employed in missions requiring -
Massing or shifting combat power quickly.
Using flexibility, mobility, and speed.
Gaining and maintaining the initiative.
2-50. FM 3-99 addresses the following basic considerations for planning and execution of air assaults -
Air assault operations are best conducted at night or during weather conditions allowing aircraft operations that obscure enemy observation. This facilitates deception and surprise.
Indirect fire support planning provides suppressive fires along air routes and in the vicinity of landing zones. Priority for fires should be to the suppression of enemy air defense systems.
Infantry unit operations are not changed fundamentally by integrating with aviation units. However, tempo and distance are changed dramatically.
Ground and aerial reconnaissance units should be employed as early as possible to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance activities in order to shape the operational area for execution.
2-51. Offensive tasks in urban terrain are designed to impose the leader’s will on the enemy. Offensive missions in an urban environment aim to destroy, defeat, or neutralize an enemy force. However, the purpose may be to achieve some effect relating to the population or infrastructure of the urban area. Leaders should use a combined arms approach for offensive urban operations.
2-52. Offensive missions in urban areas are based on offensive doctrine applied to urban terrain. Urban terrain imposes a number of demands different from ordinary field conditions, such as problems with troop requirements, maneuver, and use of equipment. As with all offensive missions, the leader must retain his ability to maneuver against enemy positions. (Refer to ATTP 3-06.11 for more information.)
2-53. In cities, subterranean features include underground garages, passages, subway lines, utility tunnels, sewers, and storm drains. Most allow troop movement. In smaller towns, sewers and storm drains may permit Soldiers to move beneath the fighting to surface behind the enemy. Knowledge of nature and location of underground facilities is of great value to both the urban attacker and defender. Subterranean routes can grant attackers use of both surface and subterranean avenues of approach, enabling them to place a smaller force behind enemy defenses. Depending upon strength and depth of the aboveground defense, attackers along the subterranean avenue of approach can become the main attack. If subterranean efforts are not immediately successful, it forces defenders to fight on two levels and to extend his resources to more than just street-level fighting. (Refer to ATTP 3-06.11 for more information).
2-54. The presence of subterranean passages forces defenders to cover urban areas above and below ground with observation and fire. Subterranean passages are more a disadvantage to defenders than the attackers are. However, given the confining, dark environment of these passages, they do offer some advantages when thoroughly reconnoitered and controlled by the defender. A small group of determined Soldiers in a prepared defensive position can defeat a numerically superior force. Subterranean passages —
Provide covered and concealed routes to move reinforcements or to launch counterattacks.
Can be used as lines of communications, for movement of supplies, evacuation of casualties, and to cache supplies for forward companies.
Offer defenders a ready-made conduit for communications wire, protecting it from tracked vehicles and indirect fires.
Afford attackers little cover and concealment other than darkness and any man-made barriers.
Engineers burn through a steel door during subterranean training.
Operations in Mountainous Terrain
2-55. Combat in mountainous areas present units with complicated hazards, difficulties, opportunities, and risks. Mountainous combat operations call for high levels of physical fitness, mental toughness, endurance, and tactical and technical proficiency on the part of all individuals.
2-56. A disciplined and prepared Infantry platoon and squad is task-organized with and supported by other members of the combined arms team, which are crucial to small-unit mountain operations. Units fighting in mountainous areas, overcome difficulties, measures risks, and exploit opportunities to close with and defeat the enemy. Prepared leaders anticipate, understand, and adapt to physical demands of mountainous environments. They face and overcome challenges of fighting in areas where technological supremacy can be negated by crude and nontechnical enemy actions. Unit leaders who know what to expect during mountainous operations create situations allowing their units to adapt to challenges and achieve victory in all environments.
2-57. Infantry units conducting operations in mountainous terrain are able to adapt and skillfully use environmental challenges to their advantage. (Refer to ATTP 3-21.50 for more information). The landscape and climatic conditions create a unique set of mountainous operations characterized by -
Close fights with dismounted Infantry. Mountainous combat often is close in nature as opposing forces meet on rugged terrain. Though engaging targets near limits of direct fire weapons occurs in mountainous engagements, intervening crests, hills, ridges, gullies, depressions, and other terrain features often limit long-range battles with the enemy. Upper levels of mountainous terrain are characterized by lack of trafficable roads. Use of vehicles often is restricted, forcing dismounted operations.
Decentralized small unit operations. Conflicts in mountainous environments are often fought on platoon and squad level, as terrain commonly does not support movement and maneuver of large units. Compartmentalization of mountainous terrain can separate brigades from battalions, battalions from companies, and companies from platoons for long periods. As altitude increases in mountainous environments, terrain generally becomes more rugged and restrictive, which drives the need for decentralized execution of missions by dismounted platoons and squads.
Degraded mobility and increased movement times. Ruggedness of mountainous terrain often restricts mobility to foot movements using file-type formations on roads and trails. A relatively short distance from point to point may be an arduous movement over steep, rocky, uneven terrain with multiple trail switchbacks increasing distance traveled and tremendous energy expenditure.
Unique sustainment solutions. Sustainment in mountainous environments is challenging and time-consuming. Terrain and weather complicate virtually all sustainment operations including logistics resupply, medical evacuation, casualty evacuation, and Soldier health and hygiene. Network of restrictive mountainous roads often does not support resupply vehicles with large turning radius, or permit two-way traffic. Movement of supplies often involves a combination of movement types including air, vehicle, foot, and animal, with each technique having its own challenges in mountainous environments.
Operations in thinly populated areas. Populace in typical mountainous environments mostly live in small villages in valleys, with some scattered villages in upper mountainous areas. Although farmers and animal herders make up a large majority of the indigenous population and may work higher up in altitude, the vast majority of mountainous terrain remains unpopulated.
Tunnels and Caves
2-58. Tunnels, caves, and dry wells have historically been used for hiding places, food and weapons caches, headquarters complexes, protection against air strikes and artillery fire. Enemy personnel use these areas for both offensive and defensive actions. An extensive tunnel system containing rooms for storage and hiding as well as passages to interconnected fighting points may be encountered. Tunnels and caves are not only dangerous obstacles but can be an outstanding source of enemy information. Presence of a tunnel complex within or near an area of operations poses a continuing threat to all personnel in the area and no area containing tunnel complexes should ever be considered completely cleared.
2-59. Since tunnel complexes are carefully concealed and camouflaged, search and destroy operations should provide adequate time for thorough searches of an area to locate all tunnels and caves. Using of local nationals and host-nation scouts can be of great assistance in locating caves, tunnels, defensive positions, and likely ambush sites. Caves, trenches, spider holes, and tunnels are well incorporated into mountainous terrain and enemy operations and may be used as a deception to draw friendly forces into a cave or tunnel system rigged with booby traps or set with an ambush. (Refer to ATTP 3-21.50 for more information).
Soldiers clear a large cave system.
Fire Team Formations
2-60. This section discusses combat formations of Infantry fire team, squad, platoon and mounted platoon. The platoon leader uses formations for several purposes: to relate one squad to another on the ground; to position firepower to support the direct-fire plan; to establish responsibilities for area of operation security among squads; or to aid in the execution of battle drills. Just as he does with movement techniques, the platoon leader plans formations based on where he expects enemy contact, and on the company commander’s plans to react to contact. The platoon leader evaluates the situation and decides which formation best suits the mission and situation.
2-61. Every squad and Soldier has a standard position. Soldiers can see their team leaders. Fire team leaders can see their squad leaders. Leaders control their units using arm-and-hand signals and intra-squad/team communications.
2-62. Formations also provide 360-degree security and allow units to give the majority of their firepower to the flanks or front in anticipation of enemy contact.
2-63. Formations do not demand parade-ground precision. Platoons and squads must retain the flexibility needed to vary their formations to the situation. Using formations allows Soldiers to execute battle drills quickly and gives them the assurance their leaders and buddy team members are in the expected positions and performing the right tasks.
2-64. Sometimes platoon and company formations differ due to METT-TC. For example, the platoons could move in wedge formations within a company vee. It is not necessary for platoon formations to be the same as the company formation unless directed by the company commander. However, the platoon leader coordinates his formation with other elements moving in the main body team’s formation.
Note. Formation illustrations shown in this chapter are examples only. They might not depict actual situation or circumstances. Leaders must be prepared to adapt their choice of formation to the specific situation. Leaders always should position themselves where they can best control their formations.
2-65. Combat formations are composed of two variables: lateral frontage, represented by the line formation; and depth, represented by the column formation. The advantages attributed to one of these variables are disadvantages to the other. Leaders combine the elements of lateral frontage and depth to determine the best formation for their situation. In addition to the line and column/file, the other five types of formations— box, vee, wedge, diamond, and echelon- combine these elements into varying degrees. Each does so with different degrees of emphasis resulting in unique advantages and disadvantages
2-66. The seven combat formations can be grouped into two categories: formations with one lead element, and formations with more than one lead element. The formations with more than one lead element, as a general rule, are better for achieving fire superiority to the front, but are more difficult to control. Conversely, the formations with only one lead element are easier to control but are not as useful for achieving fire superiority to the front.
2-67. Leaders attempt to maintain flexibility in their formations. Doing so enables them to react when unexpected enemy actions occur. The line, echelon, and column formations are the least flexible of the seven formations. The line mass to the front has vulnerable flanks. The echelon is optimized for a flank threat, something units want to avoid. The column has difficulty reinforcing an element in contact. Leaders using these formations should consider ways to reduce the risks associated with their general lack of flexibility. (See table 2-1.)
Table 2-1. Primary Formations.
FIRE TEAM FORMATIONS
2-68. The term fire team formation refers to the Soldiers’ relative positions within the fire team. Fire team formations include the fire team wedge and fire teams file. (See table 2-2.) Both formations have advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of which formation the team employs, each Soldier must know his location in the formation relative to the other fire team members and team leader. Each Soldier covers a set area of responsibility for observation and direct fire as the team is moving. To provide the unit with all-around protection, these areas interlock. Team leaders are constantly aware of their teams’ sectors of fire and correct them as required.
Table 2-2. Comparison of fire team formations.
2-69. The team leader adjusts the team’s formation as necessary while the team is moving. The distance between Soldiers will be determined by the mission, the nature of the threat, the closeness of the terrain, and by the visibility. As a general rule, the unit should be dispersed up to the limit of control. This allows for a wide area to be covered, makes the team’s movement difficult to detect, and makes it less vulnerable to enemy ground and air attack. Fire teams rarely act independently. However, in the event they do, when halted, they use a perimeter defense to ensure all-around security.
FIRE TEAM WEDGE
2-70. The wedge (see figure 2-7) is the basic formation of the fire team. The interval between Soldiers in the wedge formation is normally 10 meters. The wedge expands and contracts depending on the terrain. Fire teams modify the wedge when rough terrain, poor visibility, or other factors make control of the wedge difficult. The normal interval is reduced so all team members still can see their team leader and all team leaders still can see their squad leader. The sides of the wedge can contract to the point where the wedge resembles a single file. Soldiers expand or resume their original positions when moving in less rugged terrain where control is easier.
2-71. In this formation the fire team leader is in the lead position with his men echeloned to the right and left behind him. The positions for all but the leader may vary. This simple formation permits the fire team leader to lead by example. The leader’s standing order to his Soldiers is, “Follow me and do as I do.” When he moves to the right, his Soldiers should move to the right. When he fires, his Soldiers fire. When using the lead-by-example technique, it is essential for all Soldiers to maintain visual contact with their leader.
Figure 2-7. Fire team wedge.
FIRE TEAM FILE
2-72. Team leaders use the file when employing the wedge is impractical. This formation most often is used in severely restrictive terrain, like inside a building; dense vegetation; limited visibility; and so forth. The distance between Soldiers in the column changes due to constraints of the situation, particularly when in urban operations. (See figure 2-8.)
Figure 2-8. Fire team file.
2-73. The term squad formation refers to the relative locations of the fire teams. Squad formations include the squad column, the squad line, and squad file. Table 2-3 compares squad formations.
Table 2-3. Comparison of squad formations.
2-74. The squad leader adjusts the squad’s formation as necessary while moving, primarily through the three movement techniques. The squad leader exercises mission command primarily through the two team leaders and moves in the formation where he can best achieve this. The squad leader is responsible for 360-degree security, for ensuring the team’s sectors of fire are mutually supporting, and for being able to rapidly transition the squad upon contact.
2-75. The squad leader designates one of the fire teams as the base fire team. The squad leader controls the squad’s speed and direction of movement through the base fire team while the other team and attachments cue their movement off the base fire team. This concept applies when not in contact and when in contact with the enemy.
2-76. Weapons from the weapons squad (a medium machine gun or a Javelin) may be attached to the squad for movement or throughout the operation. These high value assets need to be positioned so they are protected and can be quickly brought into the engagement when required. Ideally, these weapons should be positioned so they are between the two fire teams.
2-77. The squad column is the squad’s main formation for movement unless preparing for an assault. (See figure 2-9.) It provides good dispersion both laterally and in-depth without sacrificing control. It also facilitates maneuver. The lead fire team is the base fire team. Squads can move in either a column wedge or a modified column wedge. Rough terrain, poor visibility, and other factors can require the squad to modify the wedge into a file for control purposes. As the terrain becomes less rugged and control becomes easier, the Soldiers resume their original positions.
Figure 2-9. Squad column, fire teams in wedge.
2-78. The squad line provides maximum firepower to the front and is used to assault or as a pre-assault formation. (See figure 2-10.) To execute the squad line, the squad leader designates one of the teams as the base team. The other team cues its movement off the base team. This applies when the squad is in close combat as well. From this formation, the squad leader can employ any of the three movement techniques or conduct fire and movement.
Figure 2-10. Squad line.
2-79. The squad file has the same characteristics as the fire team file has. (See figure 2-11.) In the event the terrain is severely restrictive or extremely close, teams within the squad file also may be in file. This disposition is not optimal for enemy contact, but provides the squad leader with maximum control. He increases control over the formation moving forward to the first or second position. Moving forward enables him to exert greater morale presence by leading from the front, and to be immediately available to make vital decisions. Moving a team leader to the last position can provide additional control over the rear of the formation.
Figure 2-11. Squad file.
WEAPONS SQUAD FORMATION
2-80. The weapons squad is not a rifle squad and should not be treated as such. During tactical movement the platoon leader has one of two options when it comes to positioning the weapons squad. The weapons squad can either travel as a separate entity, or can be broken up and distributed throughout the formation. The advantage to keeping the weapons squad together is the ability to quickly generate a support by fire and gain fire superiority under the direction of the weapons squad leader. The disadvantage to this approach is the lack of redundancy throughout the formation. The advantage to distributing the weapons squad throughout the rifle squads is the coverage afforded to the entire formation. The disadvantage is losing the weapons squad leader as a single mission command element and time required reassembling the weapons squad if needed.
2-81. When the weapons squad travels dispersed, it can either be attached to squads or attached to the essential leaders like the platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and weapons squad leader. There is no standard method for its employment. Rather, the platoon leader places the weapons using two criteria: ability to quickly generate fire superiority, and protection for high value assets.
2-82. Like the rifle squad, the weapon squad, when traveling as a squad, uses either a column or line formation. Within these formations, the two sections can be in column or line formation.
Watch the following video to learn more about Squad Formations and Movement Techinques.
2-83. The actual number of useful combinations of squad and fire team combat formations within the platoon combat formations is numerous, creating a significant training requirement for the unit. Add to the requirement to modify formations with movement techniques, immediate action drills, and other techniques, and it is readily apparent what the platoon leader needs a few simple methods. These methods should be detailed in the unit SOP.
PLATOON LEADER RESPONSIBILITIES
2-84. Like the squad leader, the platoon leader exercises mission command primarily through his subordinates and moves in the formation where he can best achieve this. The squad leader and team leader execute the combat formations and movement techniques within their capabilities based on the platoon leader’s guidance.
2-85. The platoon leader is responsible for 360-degree security, for ensuring each subordinate unit’s sectors of fire are mutually supporting, and for being able to rapidly transition the platoon upon contact. He adjusts the platoon’s formation as necessary while moving, primarily through the three movement techniques. Like the squad and team, this determination is a result of the task, the nature of the threat, the closeness of terrain, and visibility.
2-86. The platoon leader also is responsible for ensuring his squads can perform their required actions. He does this through training before combat and rehearsals during combat. Well-trained squads are able to employ combat formations, movement techniques, actions on contact, and stationary formations.
2-87. The platoon leader also has to decide how to disperse the platoon headquarters elements (himself, his RTO, his interpreter, forward observer, platoon sergeant, and medic). These elements do not have fixed positions in the formations. Rather, they should be positioned where they can best accomplish their tasks. The platoon leader’s element should be where he conducts actions on contact, where he can supervise navigation, and where he can communicate with higher. The forward observer’s element should be where he can best see the battlefield and where he can communicate with the platoon leader and battalion fire support officer. This is normally in close proximity to the platoon leader. The platoon sergeant’s element should be wherever the platoon leader is not. Typically, this means the platoon leader is toward the front of the formation, while the platoon sergeant is toward the rear of the formation. Because of the platoon sergeant’s experience, he should be given the freedom to assess the situation and advise the platoon leader accordingly.
2-88. The platoon leader designates one of the squads as the base squad. He controls the platoon’s speed and direction of movement through the base squad, while the other squads and attachments cue their movement off of the base squad.
MOVING AS A PART OF A LARGER UNIT
2-89. Infantry platoons and squads often move as part of a larger unit’s movement. The next higher commander assigns the platoon a position within the formation. The platoon leader assigns his subordinates an appropriate formation based on the situation, and uses the appropriate movement technique. Regardless of the platoon’s position within the formation, it must be ready to make contact or to support the other elements by movement, by fire, or by both.
2-90. When moving in a company formation, the company commander normally designates a base platoon to facilitate control. The other platoons cue their speed and direction on the base platoon. This permits quick changes and lets the commander control the movement of the entire company by controlling only the base platoon. The company commander normally locates himself within the formation where he can best see and direct the movement of the base platoon. The base platoon’s center squad is usually its base squad. When the platoon is not acting as the base platoon, its base squad is its flank squad nearest the base platoon.
PRIMARY PLATOON FORMATIONS
2-91. Platoon formations include the column, the line (squads on line or in column), the vee, the wedge, and the file. The leader should weigh these carefully to select the best formation based on his mission and on METT-TC analysis. Comparisons of the different formations are in table 2-4. The figures below are examples and do not dictate the location of the platoon leader or platoon sergeant.
Table 2-4. Comparison of platoon formations.
2-92. In the platoon column formation, the lead squad is the base squad. (See figure 2-12.) It normally is used for traveling only.
Figure 2-12. Platoon column.
Note. METT-TC considerations determine where the weapons squad or medium machine gun teams locate in the platoon formation.
Platoon Line, Squads on Line
2-93. In the platoon line, squads on line formation, or when two or more platoons are attacking, the company commander chooses one of them as the base platoon. The base platoon’s center squad is its base squad. When the platoon is not acting as the base platoon, its base squad is its flank squad nearest the base platoon. The weapons squad may move with the platoon or it can provide the support by fire position. This is the basic platoon assault formation. (See figure 2-13.)
2-94. The platoon line with squads on line is the most difficult formation from which to make the transition to other formations.
2-95. It may be used in the assault to maximize the firepower and shock effect of the platoon. This normally is done when there is no intervening terrain between the unit and the enemy when antitank systems is suppressed, or when the unit is exposed to artillery fire and must move rapidly.
Figure 2-13. Platoon line, squads on line.
Platoon Line, Squads in Column
2-96. When two or more platoons are moving, the company commander chooses one of them as the base platoon. The base platoon’s center squad is its base squad. When the platoon is not the base platoon, its base squad is its flank squad nearest the base platoon. (See figure 2-14.) The platoon line with squads in column formation is difficult to transition to other formations.
Figure 2-14. Platoon line, squads in column.
2-97. This formation has two squads up front to provide a heavy volume of fire on contact. (See figure 2-15.) It also has one squad in the rear either overwatching or trailing the other squads. The platoon leader designates one of the front squads as the platoon’s base squad.
Figure 2-15. Platoon vee.
2-98. This formation has two squads in the rear overwatching or trailing the lead squad. (See figure 2-16.) The lead squad is the base squad. The wedge formation:
Can be used with the traveling and traveling overwatch techniques.
Allows rapid transition to bounding overwatch.
Figure 2-16. Platoon wedge.
2-99. This formation may be set up in several methods. (See figure 2-17.) One method is to have three-squad files follow one another using one of the movement techniques. Another method is to have a single platoon file with a front security element (point) and flank security elements. The distance between Soldiers is less than normal to allow communication by passing messages up and down the file. The platoon file has the same characteristics as the fire team and squad files. It normally is used for traveling only.
Figure 2-17. Platoon file.
MOUNTED MOVEMENT FORMATIONS
2-100. The platoon leader uses formations to relate one vehicle or squad to another on the ground and to position firepower to support the direct fire plan. He uses them to establish responsibilities for security between vehicles or squads and to aid in the execution of battle drills and directed course of action.
2-101. When mounted, the platoon uses the column, wedge, line, echelon, coil, and herringbone formations (based on METT-TC variables). The platoon leader tracks his platoon’s formation and movement in conjunction with the company’s formation. Table 2-5 shows characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of each type of standard mounted formations.
Table 2-5. Mounted formation characteristics.
2-102. The platoon uses the column when moving fast, when moving through restricted terrain on a specific route, or when it does not expect enemy contact. Each vehicle normally follows directly behind the vehicle in front of it. However, if the situation dictates, vehicles can disperse laterally to enhance security. This is sometimes referred to as a staggered column.
2-103. The staggered column formation is a modified column formation with one section leading, and one section trailing to provide overwatch. The staggered column permits good fire to the front and flanks. It is used when speed is critical, when there is a limited area for lateral dispersion, or when enemy contact is possible. Figure 2-18 shows this type of column movement.
Figure 2-18. Staggered column formation with dispersal for added security.
2-104. The wedge formation (see figure 2-19) permits excellent firepower to the front and good fire to each flank. The platoon leader can easily control all vehicles and deploy rapidly into other formations. The wedge formation is often used when the enemy situation is vague. The orientation of the pairs is left and right. The platoon leader and platoon sergeant control the other vehicle (wingman) of their pair by directing it to follow to the outside and to orient its weapons toward the flanks.
2-105. When the platoon leader’s vehicle is slightly forward one flank has more firepower. Depending on METT-TC, the platoon leader makes the adjustment to which side needs the most firepower.
Figure 2-19. Wedge formation.
2-106. When assaulting a weakly defended objective, crossing open areas, or occupying a support-by-fire position, the platoon mainly uses the line formation shown in figure 2-20. The platoon can use the line formation in the assault to maximize the platoon’s firepower and shock effect. The platoon normally uses the line formation when no terrain remains between it and the enemy, when the platoon has suppressed the enemy’s AT weapons, or when the platoon is vulnerable to artillery fire and must move fast.
Figure 2-20. Line formation.
2-107. When the company team wants to maintain security or observation of one flank, and when the platoon does not expect enemy contact, the platoon uses the echelon formation shown in figure 2-21.
Note. The echelon formation can be used either left or right.
Figure 2-21. Echelon right formation.
Coil and Herringbone
2-108. The coil and herringbone are platoon-level formations employed when elements of the company team are stationary and must maintain 360-degree security.
2-109. The coil (see figure 2-22) provides all-round security and observation when the platoon is stationary. It is useful for tactical refueling, resupply, and issuing platoon orders. Security is posted to include air guards and dismounted fire teams. The vehicle turrets are manned.
Figure 2-22. Coil formation.
2-110. The platoon uses the herringbone to disperse when traveling in column formation (see figure 2-23). They can use it during air attacks or when they must stop during movement. It lets them move to covered and concealed positions off a road or from an open area and set up all-round security without detailed instructions. They reposition the vehicles as needed to take advantage of the best cover, concealment, and fields of fire. Fire team members dismount and establish security.
Figure 2-23. Herringbone formation.
Watch the following video to learn more about Mounted Movement Techniques.
Squad Movement Techniques
Platoon Movement Techniques
Mounted Movement Techniques
2-111. Movement techniques are not fixed formations. They refer to the distances between Soldiers, teams, and squads vary based on mission, enemy, terrain, visibility, and other factors affecting control. There are three movement techniques: traveling; traveling overwatch; and bounding overwatch. The selection of a movement technique is based on the likelihood of enemy contact and need for speed. Factors to consider for each technique are control, dispersion, speed, and security. (See table 2-6.) Individual movement techniques include high and low crawl, and three to five second rushes from one covered position to another.
Table 2-6. Movement techniques and characteristics
SQUAD MOVEMENT TECHNIQUES
2-112. The platoon leader determines and directs which movement technique the squad will use.
2-113. Traveling is used when contact with the enemy is not likely and speed is needed. (See figure 2-24.)
Figure 2-24. Squad traveling.
SQUAD TRAVELING OVERWATCH
2-114. Traveling overwatch is used when contact is possible. Attached weapons move near and under the control of the squad leader so they can employ quickly. Rifle squads normally move in column or wedge formation. (See figure 2-26.) Ideally, the lead team moves at least 50 meters in front of the rest of the element.
Figure 2-25. Squad traveling overwatch.
SQUAD BOUNDING OVERWATCH
2-115. Bounding overwatch is used when contact is expected, the squad leader feels the enemy is near (based upon movement, noise, reflection, trash, fresh tracks, or even a hunch), or a large open danger area must be crossed. The lead fire team overwatches first. Soldiers in the overwatch team scan for enemy positions. The squad leader usually stays with the overwatch team. The trail fire team bounds and signals the squad leader when his team completes its bound and is prepared to overwatch the movement of the other team.
2-116. Both team leaders must know with which team the squad leader will be. The overwatching team leader must know the route and destination of the bounding team. The bounding team leader must know his team's destination and route, possible enemy locations, and actions to take when he arrives there. He also must know where the overwatching team will be and how he will receive his instructions. (See figure 2-26.) The cover and concealment on the bounding team's route dictates how its Soldiers move.
Figure 2-26. Squad bounding overwatch.
2-117. Teams can bound successively or alternately. Successive bounds are easier to control; alternate bounds can be faster. (See figure 2-27.)
Figure 2-27. Squad successive and alternate bounds
PLATOON MOVEMENT TECHNIQUES
2-118. The platoon leader determines and directs which movement technique the platoon uses. While moving, leaders typically separate their unit into two groups: a security element and main body. In most scenarios, the Infantry platoon and squad are not large enough to separate its forces into separate security forces and main body forces. However, it is able to accomplish these security functions by employing movement techniques. A movement technique is the manner a platoon uses to traverse terrain
2-119. As the probability of enemy contact increases, the platoon leader adjusts the movement technique to provide greater security. The essential factor to consider is the trail unit’s ability to provide mutual support to the lead element. Soldiers must be able to see their fire team leader. The squad leader must be able to see his fire team leaders. The platoon leader should be able to see his lead squad leader.
2-120. The platoons often use the traveling technique when contact is unlikely and speed is needed. (See figure 2-28.) When using the traveling technique, all unit elements move continuously. In continuous movement, all Soldiers travel at a moderate rate of speed, with all personnel alert. During traveling, formations are essentially not altered except for effects of terrain
Figure 2-28. Platoon traveling.
2-121. Traveling overwatch is an extended form of traveling in which the lead element moves continuously but trailing elements move at varying speeds, sometimes pausing to overwatch movement of the lead element. (See figure 2-29.) Traveling overwatch is used when enemy contact is possible but not expected. Caution is justified but speed is desirable
2-122. The trail element maintains dispersion based on its ability to provide immediate suppressive fires in support of the lead element. The intent is to maintain in-depth, provide flexibility, and sustain movement in case the lead element is engaged. The trailing elements cue their movement to the terrain, overwatching from a position where they can support the lead element if needed. Trailing elements overwatch from positions and at distances that do not prevent them from firing or moving to support the lead element. The idea is to put enough distance between the lead units and trail units so that if the lead unit comes into contact, the trail units will be out of contact but have the ability to maneuver on the enemy.
2-123. Traveling overwatch requires the leader to control his subordinate’s spacing to ensure mutual support. This involves a constant process of concentrating (close it up) and dispersion (spread it out). The primary factor is mutual support, with its two critical variables being weapon ranges and terrain. Infantry platoons’ and squads’ weapon range limitations dictate units generally should not get separated by more than 300 meters. In compartmentalized terrain this distance is closer, but in open terrain this distance is greater.
Figure 2-29. Platoon traveling overwatch.
2-124. Bounding overwatch is similar to fire and movement in which one unit overwatches the movement of another. (See figure 2-30.) The difference is there is no actual enemy contact. Bounding overwatch is used when the leader expects contact. The key to this technique is the proper use of terrain.
Figure 2-30. Platoon bounding overwatch
One Squad Bounding
2-125. One squad bounds forward to a chosen position; it then becomes the overwatching element unless contact is made en route. The bounding squad can use traveling overwatch, bounding overwatch (low and high crawl, and three- to five-second rushes by the fire team or buddy teams).
2-126. METT-TC dictates the length of the bounds. However, the bounding squads never should move beyond the range at which the base-of-fire squads can suppress known, likely, or suspected enemy positions. In severely restrictive terrain, the bounding squad’s makes shorter bounds than it would in more open areas. The destination of the bounding element is based on the suitability of the next location as an overwatch position. When deciding where to send his bounding squad, a platoon leader considers—
The requirements of the mission.
Where the enemy is likely to be.
The routes to the next overwatch position.
The ability of an overwatching element’s weapons to cover the bound.
The responsiveness of the rest of the platoon.
One Squad Overwatching
2-127. One squad overwatches the bounding squad from covered positions and from where it can see and suppress likely enemy positions. The platoon leader remains with the overwatching squad. Normally, the platoon’s medium machine guns are located with the overwatching squad.
One Squad Awaiting Orders
2-128. Based on the situation, one squad is uncommitted and ready for employment as directed by the platoon leader. The platoon sergeant and leader of the squad awaiting orders position themselves close to the platoon leader. On contact, this unit should be prepared to support the overwatching element, move to assist the bounding squad, or move to another location based on the platoon leader’s assessment.
2-129. Medium machine guns normally are employed in one of two ways ─
Attached to the overwatch squad or the weapons squad supporting the overwatching element.
Awaiting orders to move (with the platoon sergeant) or as part of a bounding element.
Mission Command of the Bounding Element
2-130. Ideally, the overwatch element maintains visual contact with the bounding element. However, the leader of the overwatch element may have the ability to digitally track the location of the bounding element without maintaining visual contact. This provides the bounding element further freedom in selecting covered and concealed routes to its next location. Before a bound, the platoon leader gives an order to his squad leaders from the overwatch position. (See figure 2-31.) He tells and shows them the following─
The direction or location of the enemy (if known).
The positions of the overwatching squad.
The next overwatch position.
The route of the bounding squad.
What to do after the bounding squad reaches the next position.
What signal the bounding squad will use to announce it is prepared to overwatch.
How the squad will receive its next orders.
Figure 2-31. Example of platoon leader order for bounding overwatch
MOUNTED MOVEMENT TECHNIQUES
2-131. The movement techniques while mounted are traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch.
2-132. The platoon travels mounted when contact with the enemy is not likely and speed is desired. (See figure 2-32.) The leader analyzes the latest intelligence on the enemy and determines if contact with the enemy is unlikely. Because units generally move faster when traveling mounted, leaders must remember the increased potential for a break in contact. Should a break in contact occur —
The leader or detached element uses global positioning system (GPS) aids to reestablish contact with the main body.
The platoon’s main body can use an infared or thermal source to regain visual contact with the element and link it back to the main body.
Figure 2-32. Traveling, platoon mounted.
2-133. The platoon leader uses traveling overwatch when he thinks contact could occur. (See figure 2-33.) He designates one of his subordinate elements to provide security forward of the main body. In some cases, the improved awareness might prompt the security element to increase these distances. Leaders track the movement of forward security elements. They get position updates to ensure the forward security element remains on azimuth and within range of supporting direct fires.
Figure 2-33. Traveling overwatch.
2-134. When the platoon leader expects enemy contact, he uses bounding overwatch. He initiates it based on planning reports received earlier about the enemy situation and onSITREPs received during movement. He bounds elements using successive or alternate bounds. (See figure 2-34.)
Figure 2-34. Bounding overwatch.
2-135. Before bounding, the leader shows the bounding element the location of the next overwatch position. Ideally, the overwatch element keeps the bounding element in sight. Once the bounding element reaches its overwatch position, it signals READY by voice or visual means to the element that overwatched its bound. (See figure 2-35.) The platoon leader makes sure the bounding element stays within two-thirds of the weapons range of the overwatch element.
Figure 2-35. Methods of bounding overwatch
2-136. Maneuver begins once a unit has made contact with the enemy. Direct fire is inherent in maneuver, as is close combat. At the mounted platoon level, maneuver forms the heart of every tactical operation and task. It combines maneuver, direct and indirect fire, and other combat power. The platoon leader maneuvers his mounted element and dismounted squads to close with, gain positional advantage over, and ultimately destroy the enemy.
2-137. Combining fire and movement requires a base of fire. Some platoon elements (usually a section, the weapons squad, and the BFVs or Stryker) remain stationary to provide protection for bounding elements by suppressing or destroying enemy elements. The dismounted mechanized platoon can maneuver while protected by the BFVs in a base of fire position and then establish another base of fire with the weapons or a rifle squad.
2-138. Because maneuver is decentralized in nature, the platoon leader determines from his terrain analysis where and when he wants to establish a base of fire. During actions on contact, he adjusts maneuver plans as needed. Making maneuver decisions normally falls to the leader on the ground, who knows what enemy elements can engage the maneuvering element and what friendly forces can provide the base of fire.
2-139. The base-of-fire element occupies positions that afford the best possible cover and concealment, a clear view, and clear fields of fire. The platoon leader normally designates a general location for the base of fire, and the element leader selects the exact location. Once in position, the base-of-fire element suppresses known, likely, or suspected enemy elements while aggressively scanning its assigned area of operation. It identifies previously unknown elements and then suppresses them with direct and indirect fires. The base-of-fire element allows the bounding unit to keep maneuvering so it can retain the initiative even when the enemy can see and fire on it. While maneuvering to or in position, the base-of-fire element leader is constantly looking for other locations that may provide better support for the maneuvering element.
2-140. Maneuver is inherently dangerous. Enemy weapons, unknown terrain, and other operational factors all increase the danger. When maneuvering, the platoon leader considers the following:
The bounding element must take full advantage of whatever cover and concealment the terrain offers.
Squad members must maintain all-round security at all times and continuously scan their assigned area of operations.
METT-TC variables dictate the length of the bounds. However, the bounding element should never move beyond the range at which the base-of-fire element can effectively suppress known, likely, or suspected enemy positions. General practice is to limit movement to no more than two-thirds the effective range of the supporting weapon system.
In severely restricted terrain, the bounding element makes shorter bounds than it would in more open areas.
The bounding element must focus on its ultimate goal—gaining a positional advantage. Once achieved, the element uses this advantage to destroy the enemy with direct fires and dismounted infantrymen assault.
2-141. When to dismount infantry during maneuver is a critical decision for the platoon leader. He must balance the vulnerability of his mounted element, the speed and vulnerability of his dismounted infantrymen, and the effectiveness of the enemy’s fire. The platoon leader can use successive bounds with his dismounted infantrymen moving along covered and concealed routes to secure the next base of fire position.
2-142. Considerations for remaining mounted include—
Good covered and concealed mounted routes.
Ineffective anti armor fires.
2-143. Considerations for dismounting include—
Good covered and concealed terrain for infantry.
Effective anti armor fire.
Restricted terrain and obstacles for mounted movement.
2-144. Stryker units plan dismount points in a cover and concealed position out of the maximum effective range of the enemy weapon systems or audible range based on the last known enemy point of contact or suspected position.
DIRECT FIRE SUPPORT
2-145. The Bradley companies are routinely task organized within the combined arms battalion. Bradley companies will routinely have a tank platoon attached or a Bradley platoon can be routinely attached to a tank company. The Bradley platoon may therefore have a tank platoon as a base of fire or become the base of fire while the tank platoon bounds.
2-146. Other units within or outside the ABCT can be available as a base of fire or bounding element. Today’s modular force can be rapidly tailored and task organized to meet tactical requirements. This means that mechanized units can be attached to other BCTs for operations. Therefore, the mechanized platoon leader has to be prepared to operate with tanks, Stryker antitank guided missile (ATGM) carriers, ATGM units mounted on high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, and so on.
PLATOON AS THE RESERVE
2-147. The designation of a reserve allows the commander to retain flexibility during the attack. The commander should be prepared to commit his reserve to exploit success and to continue the attack. The reserve may repulse counterattacks during consolidation and reorganization. The reserve is normally under the commander’s control and positioned where it can best exploit the success of the attack. The reserve should not be so close that it loses flexibility during the assault.
2-148. During the attack, the mechanized platoon may be designated the company or battalion reserve. It may be an on-order or be-prepared mission. The company or battalion commander commits the reserve platoon to reinforce the decisive operation and to maintain the attack’s momentum. To exploit the success of the other attacking units, the reserve should attack the enemy from a new direction. Because of the many missions the platoon may be assigned, the platoon leader has to maintain situational awareness, know the missions and tactical plans of the other units, and be familiar with the terrain and enemy situation in the whole area of operation. It must react quickly and decisively when committed.
2-149. The reserve platoon may be assigned one or more of the following missions:
Protect the flank and rear of the unit.
Conduct a counterattack or establish a blocking position.
Maintain contact with adjacent units.
Clear a position that has been overrun or bypassed by another unit.
Establish a support by fire position.
Assume the mission of an attacking unit.
Attack from a new direction.
Protect or assist in the consolidation and reorganization on the objective.
Actions on Contact
Forms of Contact
Five Steps of Actions on Contact
2-150. Actions on contact are a series of combat actions, often conducted simultaneously, taken upon contact with the enemy to develop the situation. (Refer to ADRP 3-90 for more information.) Leaders analyze the enemy throughout TLP to identify all likely contact situations that may occur during an operation. This process should not be confused with battle drills such as Battle Drill “React to Contact”. Battle drills are the actions of individual Soldiers and small units when they meet the enemy. Through planning and rehearsals conducted during TLP, leaders and Soldiers develop and refine COA to deal with the probable enemy actions. The COA becomes the foundation schemes of maneuver. (Refer to FM 3-90-1 for more information.)
FORMS OF CONTACT
2-151. In offensive and defensive tasks, contact occurs when a member of the Infantry unit encounters a situation requiring a lethal or nonlethal response to the enemy. These situations may entail one or more forms of contact ─
Non-hostile civilian contact
CBRN or CBRNE.
FIVE STEPS OF ACTIONS ON CONTACT
2-152. The Infantry unit should execute actions on contact using a logical, well-organized process of decisionmaking and action entailing these five steps ─
Deploy and report.
Evaluate and develop the situation.
Choose a course of action.
Execute the selected course of action.
Recommend a course of action to the higher commander.
2-153. This five-step process is not intended to generate a rigid, lockstep response to the enemy. Rather, the goal is to provide an orderly framework enabling the company and its platoons and squads to survive the initial contact, and apply sound decisionmaking and timely actions to complete the operation. Ideally, the unit sees the enemy (visual contact) before being seen by the enemy; it then can initiate direct contact on its own terms by executing the designated COA.
2-154. Once the lead elements of a force conducting movement to contact encounter the enemy, they conduct actions on contact. The unit treats obstacles like enemy contact, assuming the obstacles are covered by fire. The unit’s security force gains tactical advantage over an enemy by using tempo and initiative to conduct these actions, allowing it to gain and maintain contact without becoming decisively engaged. How quickly the unit develops the situation is directly related to its security, and the tempo is directly related to the unit's use of well-rehearsed SOP and drills.
2-155. Leaders understand properly executed actions on contact require time at the squad and platoon levels. To develop the situation, a platoon or company may have to execute flanking movements, conduct reconnaissance by fire, or call for and adjust indirect fires. Each of these activities requires time, and the leader balances the time required for subordinate elements to conduct actions on contact with the need for the company or battalion to maintain momentum. (Refer to FM 3-90-1 for more information.)
DEPLOY AND REPORT
2-156. If the leader expects contact based upon reports, through reconnaissance, or other means, the company or platoon is deployed by transitioning to the bounding overwatch movement technique. If the company or platoon is alert to the likely presence of the enemy, it has a better chance of establishing the first visual and physical contact on its own terms. This contact usually is made by an overwatching or bounding platoon, which initiates the companies or platoons’ actions on contact. In a worst-case scenario, a previously undetected (but expected) enemy element may engage the platoon or squad. The platoon or squad in contact then conducts a battle drill for its own survival and initiates actions on contact.
2-157. In some cases, the rifle platoon or squad makes unexpected contact with the enemy while using traveling or traveling overwatch. The element in contact or, if necessary, the entire platoon or squad may deploy using battle drills to survive the initial contact. When making unexpected contact, the platoon or squad in contact immediately sends a contact report. The most efficient way the battalion intelligence staff officer S-2 provides situational understanding and the common operational picture ( COP) to the battalion is through digital reports sent by those in contact. The Infantry company platoons and squads develop SOP utilizing the capabilities of digital reports while destroying the enemy force and protecting the unit.
EVALUATE AND DEVELOP THE SITUATION
2-158. While the Infantry unit deploys, the leader evaluates and continues to develop the situation. The leader quickly gathers as much information as possible, either visually or, more often, through reports of the platoons or squad s in contact and analyzes the information to determine critical operational considerations, including the ─
Size of enemy element.
Location, composition, activity, and orientation of enemy force.
Impact of obstacles and terrain.
Probable enemy intentions.
Method of gaining positional advantage over the enemy.
Friendly situation (location, strength, and capabilities).
Possible friendly courses of action to achieve the specified end state.
2-159. Once the leader determines the size of enemy force encountered by the Infantry unit, a report is sent to the platoon or company. However, after evaluating the situation, the leader may discover there is not enough information to identify the necessary operational considerations. To make this determination, the leader further develops the situation according to the commander’s intent, using a combination of techniques such as ─
Surveillance, employing Infantry squads, unmanned aircraft systems, and snipers using binoculars and other optical aids.
Maneuver, including flanking maneuvers to gain additional information by viewing the enemy from another perspective.
Reconnaissance by fire.
CHOOSE A COURSE OF ACTION
2-160. After developing the situation and determining he has enough information to make a decision, the leader selects a COA meeting the requirements of the commander’s intent that is within the unit’s capabilities.
EXECUTE THE SELECTED COURSE OF ACTION
2-161. In executing a COA, the Infantry unit transitions to maneuver. It then continues to maneuver throughout execution as part of a tactical task, or to advance while in contact to reach the point on the battlefield from which it executes its tactical task. The unit can employ a number of tactical tasks as COA, which may be preceded or followed by additional maneuver. Some of these tasks are —
Attack by fire.
Follow and assume.
Follow and support.
Support by fire.
2-162. As execution continues, more information becomes available to the leader. Based upon the emerging details of the enemy situation, the leader may have to alter his COA during execution. For example, as the Infantry rifle platoon maneuvers to destroy what appears to be a dismounted squad, it discovers two additional squads in prepared positions. The leader analyzes and develops the new situation. He then selects an alternate COA, such as establishing a support by fire position to support another platoon’s maneuver against the newly discovered enemy force.
RECOMMEND A COURSE OF ACTION TO THE HIGHER COMMANDER
2-163. Once the platoon leader selects a COA, keeping in mind the commander’s intent, the company commander is informed, and he has the option of approving or disapproving it based upon its impact on the overall mission. To avoid delay, a unit SOP may provide automatic approval of certain actions.
Movement to Contact
Conduct of a Movement to Contact
Organization of Forces
Order of Events
Search and Attack
Cordon and Search
2-164. Movement to contact is an offensive task designed to develop the situation and establish or regain contact. When necessary, the Infantry platoon conducts this task regardless of which decisive action element is currently predominate: offense, defense, or stability. The platoon usually conducts movement to contact as part of an Infantry company or larger element. Based upon METT-TC, the rifle platoon may conduct the operation independently. Search and attack, and cordon and search are techniques of movement to contact.
CONDUCT OF A MOVEMENT TO CONTACT
2-165. Purposeful and aggressive movement, decentralized control, and hasty deployment of formations from the march to conduct offensive, defensive, or stability tasks characterize the movement to contact. The fundamentals of movement to contact —
Focus all efforts on finding the enemy.
Make initial contact with the smallest force possible, consistent with protecting the force.
Make initial contact with small, mobile, self-contained forces to avoid decisive engagement of the main body on ground chosen by the enemy. This allows the leader maximum flexibility to develop the situation.
Task-organizes the force and uses movement formations to deploy and attack rapidly in all directions.
Keep subordinate forces within supporting distances to facilitate a flexible response.
Maintains contact regardless of the course of action adopted once contact is gained.
U.S. Soldier scans his sector with an M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle.
ORGANIZATION OF FORCES
2-166. Movement to contact is organized with a forward security force, either a covering force or an advance guard, and a main body as a minimum. A portion of the main body composes the leader’s sustaining base. Based on METT-TC, the leader may increase the unit’s security by resourcing an offensive covering force and an advance guard for each column, as well as flank and rear security. This is normally a screen or guard.
2-167. The primary attribute to this organization is the early and accurate reporting it provides on the enemy and terrain. Depth is essential for providing early warning and reaction time to leaders at the platoon, company, and battalion levels. It enables leaders to conduct actions on contact, preserving the parent unit’s freedom of movement and maneuver.
2-168. When the platoon serves as the advance guard, its purpose is to protect the main body from surprise attack, and develop the situation to protect the deployment of the main body when it is committed to action. These responsibilities include —
Providing security and early warning for the main body and facilitating its uninterrupted advance.
Conducting reconnaissance to locate enemy forces along the battalion’s axis of advance.
Conducting actions on contact to retain freedom of maneuver for the battalion.
Calling for indirect fires to impede or harass the enemy.
Destroying enemy reconnaissance elements.
Finding, fixing, defeating, destroying, or containing enemy security forces to retain freedom of maneuver for the battalion.
Bypassing and reporting obstacles, or act as the battalion support or breach force during breaching operations.
2-169. Composition of the advance guard depends upon METT-TC. In open terrain, it may move mounted; but in restricted, close, complex, or urban terrain, dismounted movement with vehicles in the overwatch may be a better choice. Engineers, tank, or rifle company platoons may be attached to the advance guard. The mortar platoon or a mortar section may also support the advance guard.
2-170. The advance guard is the battalion commander’s main effort until the main body is committed; then the priority of fires shifts to the main body. In planning the movement to contact, each decision point should be based on the actions of the advance guard.
2-171. To provide flank guard, platoon-size elements from one of the companies in the battalion’s main body provide a moving flank screen under company control. These elements remain at a distance from the main body, allowing the battalion time and space to maneuver to either flank. Flank security elements also operate far enough out to prevent the enemy from surprising the main body with direct fires. Indirect fires are planned on major flank approaches to enhance security.
2-172. One platoon pulled from the main body may provide rear security, but combat forces are not normally available to perform this mission. The battalion provides its own rear security, assisted by rapid forward movement, which gives the enemy less opportunity to react or reposition forces to attack.
2-173. The combat elements of the main body are prepared to deploy and maneuver rapidly to a decisive point on the battlefield to destroy the enemy. The main body focuses its movement to the advance guard. The main body, remaining attuned to the advance guard’s situation, provides responsive support when the advance guard is committed.
2-174. Tasks the company or platoon can perform within the main body include—
Find, fix, defeat, destroy, or contain the enemy’s fixing force followed by the enemy assault force or site exploitation force, to retain freedom of maneuver for the remainder of the BCT.
Execute a course of action to defeat or destroy a designated enemy main body element.
2-175. The use of standard formations and battle drills allows the battalion commander, to shift combat power rapidly. Platoons and squads employ the appropriate movement techniques within the company formation. Company commanders, based on their knowledge of commander’s intent and their own situational awareness, anticipate the battalion commander’s decisions for commitment of the main body and plan accordingly.
2-176. Execution of this task usually starts from a LD at the time specified in the operation order (OPORD). The leader controls the movement to contact by using phase lines, contact points, and checkpoints as required. The leader controls the depth of movement to contact by using a limit of advance (LOA) or a forward boundary. The leader could designate one or more objectives to limit the extent of movement to contact and orient the force. However, these are often terrain-oriented and used only to guide movement. Although movement to contact may result in taking a terrain objective, the primary focus should be on the enemy force. If the leader has enough information to locate significant enemy forces, then the leader should plan some other type of offensive action.
2-177. Leaders use positive control over maneuver units, coupled with battle drills and formation discipline. Normally platoons are not assigned their own area of operation during a movement to contact.
2-178. The leader can designate a series of phase lines successively becoming the new rear boundary of forward security elements as force advances. Each rear boundary becomes the forward boundary of the main body and shifts as the security force moves forward. The rear boundary of the main body designates the limit of responsibility of the rear security element. This line also shifts as the main body moves forward. (Refer to FM 3-90-1 for more information.)
ORDER OF EVENTS
2-179. As the platoon leader plans for a movement to contact, the following considerations apply to most, but not all, offensive tasks ─
Assembly area (AA).
Movement to the LD.
Consolidation and reorganization.
2-180. The AA is the area a unit occupies to prepare for an operation. To prepare the platoon for upcoming battles, the platoon leader plans, directs, and supervises mission preparations in the AA. This time allows the platoon and squads to conduct precombat checks and inspections, rehearsals, and sustainment activities. The platoon typically conducts these preparations within a company AA, as it rarely occupies its own AA.
2-181. All leaders should aggressively seek information about the terrain and enemy. Because the enemy situation and available planning time may limit a unit’s reconnaissance, the platoon usually conducts reconnaissance to answer the company commander’s critical information requirements (CCIR). The use of CCIRs covers friendly forces information requirements (FFIRs), priority intelligence requirements (PIRs), and essential elements of friendly information (EEFI) when dictated by the commander. An example is reconnoitering and timing routes from the AA to the LD. The platoon also may augment the efforts of the battalion reconnaissance platoon to answer the CCIRs. Other forms of reconnaissance include maps and terrain software/databases. Updates from reconnaissance can occur at any time while the platoon and squad are planning for, preparing for, or executing the mission. As a result, the leader must be prepared to adjust his plans.
MOVEMENT TO THE LINE OF DEPARTURE
2-182. The platoon and squad typically move from the AA to the LD as part of the company movement plan. This plan may direct the platoon or squad to move to an attack position and await orders to cross the LD. If so, the platoon leader reconnoiters, times, and rehearses the route to the attack position. Section leaders and squad leaders know where they are to locate within the assigned attack position, which is the last position an attacking element occupies or passes through before crossing the LD. The company commander may order all platoons to move within a company formation from the AA directly to the point of departure at the LD. The point of departure is the point where the unit crosses the LD and begins moving along a direction or axis of advance. If one point of departure is used, it is important the lead platoon and trail platoons reconnoiter, time, and rehearse the route to it. This allows the company commander to maintain synchronization. To maintain flexibility and to maintain synchronization, a point of departure along the LD may be designated for each platoon.
2-183. The platoon leader plans the approach to the movement to contact, ensuring synchronization, security, speed, and flexibility by selecting the platoon’s routes, movement techniques, formations, and methods of movement. He must recognize this portion of the battle as a fight, not as a movement. He must be prepared to make contact with the enemy. He must plan accordingly to reinforce the commander’s needs for synchronization, security, speed, and flexibility. During execution, the platoon leader may display disciplined initiative and alter his platoon’s formation, technique, or speed to maintain synchronization with the other platoons and squads. This retains flexibility for the company commander.
2-184. As the platoon deploys and moves on its movement to contact it minimizes delay and confusion by analyzing what movement technique to use, traveling, traveling overwatch, or bounding overwatch. These movements allow the platoon to move in the best tactical posture before encountering the enemy. Movement should be as rapid as the terrain, unit mobility, and enemy situation permits. A common control measure is the probable line of deployment (PLD), which is used most often under conditions of limited visibility. The PLD is a phase line the leader designates as a location where he intends to deploy his unit into an assault formation before beginning the assault.
2-185. During an offensive task, the platoon’s objective may be terrain-oriented or force-oriented. Terrain-oriented objectives may require the platoon to seize a designated area, and often requires fighting through enemy forces. If the objective is force-oriented, an objective may be assigned for orientation while the platoon’s efforts are focused on the enemy’s actual location. Actions on the objective begin when the company or platoon begins placing direct and indirect fires on the objective. This may occur while the platoon is still moving toward the objective from the assault position or PLD.
CONSOLIDATION AND REORGANIZATION
2-186. The platoon and squads consolidate and reorganize as required by the situation and mission. Consolidation is the process of organizing and strengthening a newly captured position so it can be defended. Reorganization is the action taken to shift internal resources within a degraded unit to increase its level of combat effectiveness. Reorganization actions can include cross-leveling ammunition, and ensuring essential weapons systems are manned and vital leadership positions are filled if the operators/crew became casualties. The platoon executes follow-on missions as directed by the company commander. A likely mission may be to continue the attack against the enemy within the area of operation. Regardless of the situation, the platoon and squads posture and prepare for continued offensive missions. Table 2-7 contains common consolidation and reorganization activities.
Table 2-7. Consolidation and reorganization activities.
2-186. Purposeful and aggressive movement, decentralized control, and hasty deployment of combined arms formations from the march to attack or defend characterize the movement to contact. The fundamentals of a movement to contact —
Focus all efforts on finding the enemy.
Make initial contact with the smallest force possible, consistent with protecting the force.
Make initial contact with small, mobile, self-contained forces to avoid decisive engagement of the main body on ground chosen by the enemy. This allows the leader maximum flexibility to develop the situation.
Task-organize the force and use movement formations to deploy and attack rapidly in all directions.
2-188. Movement to contact is one of the most difficult missions to plan. The goal is preventing a meeting engagement with the enemy (Refer to FM 3-90.1 for more information). Planning movement to contact allows for flexibility and promoting subordinate initiative. Planning begins by developing the the concept of the operation with a focus on ultimate control of the objective, and conducting a reverse planning sequence from the objective to the LD. This is accomplished by issuing a clear commander’s intent, developing a simple concept of the operation, and developing a series of decision point to execute likely maneuver options. Increased emphasis is placed on developing an aggressive and flexible reconnaissance effort linking to the commander’s PIRs, which normally focuses on locating and gathering information about the enemy’s strength, disposition, and activities.
2-189. The Infantry leader conducts information collection to determine the enemy’s location and intent while conducting security operations to protect the main body. This includes the use of available manned and unmanned aircraft assets, allowing the main body to focus on planning and preparation. This includes rehearsals on the conduct of hasty operations, bypass maneuvers, and hasty defenses. The plan addresses actions anticipated by the leader based on available information and intelligence and the conduct of meeting engagements and other anticipated battle drills.
2-190. Preparation actions are performed by the platoon to improve its ability to execute an operation. The platoon’s success during missions depend as much on preparation as planning. Activities specific to preparation include:
Revising and refining the plan.
Precombat checks and inspections.
Subordinate confirmation briefs and back briefs.
2-191. The platoon uses rehearsals to help understand their roles in upcoming operations, practice complicated tasks, and ensure equipment and weapons function properly. Following the last company rehearsal, the platoon should conduct a final rehearsal of its own to incorporate adjustments to the company scheme of maneuver. (Refer to FM 6-0 for more information.) The platoon rehearsal should cover the following subjects:
Movement from current positions.
Routes (to include passage points, contact points, checkpoints, CCP.
2-192. A precombat inspection (PCI) is a formal, time-intensive inspection that is done before the mission. Its goal is to make sure Soldiers and vehicles are fully prepared to execute the upcoming mission. In general, PCIs enable the platoon leaderto check the platoon’s operational readiness.
2-193. A precombat check (PCC) is less formal and more mission-specific than a PCI. Precombat checks emphasize areas, missions, or tasks required for upcoming missions. The squad and section leaders perform the PCC. It is essential that the entire platoon chain of command know how to conduct PCCs and PCIs.
2-194. The platoon leader or platoon sergeant should observe each squad and mounted crew during preparation for combat. They should conduct the inspection once the mounted section and squad leaders report that they are prepared.
2-195. Each element of the force synchronizes its actions with adjacent and supporting units, maintaining contact and coordination as prescribed in orders and unit SOP. The following paragraphs discuss executing movement to contact using the sequence of the offense mentioned earlier in this chapter.
GAIN AND MAINTAIN ENEMY CONTACT
2-196. All reconnaissance assets focus on determining the enemy's dispositions and providing the Infantry leader with current intelligence and relevant combat information. This ensures friendly forces are committed under optimal conditions. The leader uses all available sources of combat information to find the enemy's location and dispositions.
DISRUPT THE ENEMY
2-197. Once contact is made, the main body brings overwhelming fires onto the enemy to prevent them from conducting a spoiling attack or organizing a coherent defense. The security force maneuvers as quickly as possible to find gaps in the enemy's defenses. The leader gathers as much information as possible about the enemy's dispositions, strengths, capabilities, and intentions. As more intelligence becomes available, the main body attacks to destroy or disrupt enemy command and control centers, fire control nodes, and communication nets.
FIX THE ENEMY
2-198. Infantry leaders initiate maneuvers at a tempo the enemy cannot match, since success in a meeting engagement depends upon actions on contact. The security force does not allow the enemy to maneuver against the main body. The organization, size, and combat power of the security force are major factors determining the size of the enemy force it can defeat without deploying the main body. The techniques the leader employs to fix the enemy when both forces are moving are different from those employed when the enemy force is stationary during the meeting engagement. In both situations, when the security force cannot overrun the enemy by conducting a hasty frontal attack, a portion of the main body is deployed. When this occurs, the unit is no longer conducting movement to contact but an attack. (Refer to ADRP 3-90 for more information.)
2-199. If the security force cannot overrun the enemy with a frontal attack, the leader quickly maneuvers the main body to conduct a penetration or envelopment that overwhelms the enemy force before it can react or reinforce. The leader attempts to defeat the enemy in detail while still maintaining the momentum of advance. After an attack, the main body leader resumes the movement to contact. If the enemy is not defeated, there are three main options: bypass, transition to a more deliberate operation, or conduct some type of defense.
2-200. Main body elements deploy rapidly to the vicinity of contact if the leader initiates a frontal attack. Maneuvering unit leaders coordinate forward passage through friendly forces in contact as required. The intent is to deliver the assault before the enemy can deploy or reinforce his engaged forces. The leader may order an attack from a march column for one of the main body's columns, while the rest of the main body deploys. The leader also can wait to attack until bringing the bulk of the main body forward. This avoids piecemeal commitment except when rapidity of action is essential, combat superiority at the vital point is present, can be maintained throughout the attack, or when compartmentalized terrain forces a COA. When trying to conduct envelopment, the leader focuses on attacking the enemy's flanks and rear before preparing to counter these actions. The leader uses the security force to fix the enemy while the main body maneuvers to look for an assailable flank. The main body also can be used to fix the enemy while the security force finds the assailable flank. (Refer to ADRP 3-90 for more information.)
2-201. If the enemy is defeated, the unit transitions back into movement to contact and continue to advance. The movement to contact terminates when the unit reaches the final objective or LOA, or transitions to a more deliberate operation, defense, or retrograde.
2-202. Assessment is the continuous monitoring and evaluation of a current situation, and the progress of an operation. It involves deliberately comparing forecasted outcomes to actual events in order to determine the overall effectiveness of force employment. Assessment allows the leader to maintain accurate situational understnding, and amend his visualization, which helps the commander make timely and accurate decisions. Assessment of effects is determining how friendly actions have succeeded against the enemy. Effects typically are assessed by measure of performance and measure of effectiveness.
2-203. Every combat situation is unique. Leaders do their best to accurately assess the situation and make good decisions about employing their units. The environment of combat, application of military principles, and the desired end state of Army operations culminate with the close fight of Infantry platoons and squads. Leaders should understand the larger military purpose and how their actions and decisions might affect the outcome of the larger operation.
2-204. Risk assessment is the process leaders use to assess and to control risk. There are two types of risk associated with combat actions: tactical hazards resulting from the presence of the enemy and accidental hazards resulting from the conduct of operations. All combat incurs both risks. The objective is to minimize them to acceptable levels. The leader identifies risk to the unit and mission by —
Defining the enemy action.
Identifying friendly combat power shortfall.
Identifying available combat multipliers, if any, to mitigate risk.
Considering the risks are acceptable or unacceptable.
2-205. Infantry platoon leaders and squad leaders use METT-TC to understand and describe the operational environment. These six widely known and used factors are categories for cataloging and analyzing information. Leaders and Soldiers constantly observe and assess their environment.
2-206. The leader assesses the terrain in his proposed area of operation. In addition to the standard Army map, the leader may have aerial photographs and terrain analysis overlays from the parent unit, or he may talk with someone familiar with the area.
SEARCH AND ATTACK
2-207. Search and attack is a technique for conducting movement to contact sharing many of the same characteristics of an area security mission. (Refer to ADRP 3-90 for more information.) Conducted primarily by Infantry forces and often supported by armored forces, the leader employs this form of movement to contact when the enemy is operating as a small, dispersed element, or when the task is to deny the enemy the ability to move within a given area. Maneuver battalions and companies normally conduct search and attack.
ORGANIZATION OF FORCES FOR A SEARCH AND ATTACK
2-208. Commanders task-organize subordinate units (platoons and squads) into reconnaissance, fixing, and finishing forces, each with a specific purpose and task. The size of the reconnaissance force is based upon the available combat information and intelligence about the size of enemy forces in the area of operation. The nature of the operational environment sometimes requires an Infantry platoon to conduct a search and attack while operating in a noncontiguous area of operation. The Infantry leader primarily employs ground forces, often supported by armored or wheeled forces if available, when the enemy is operating with small, dispersed elements or when the task is to deny the enemy the ability to move within a given area.
2-209. The reconnaissance force conducts a zone reconnaissance to reconnoiter identified named areas of interest. The reconnaissance force is small enough to achieve stealth, but large enough to provide adequate self-defense until the fixing and finishing forces arrive.
2-210. The fixing force develops the situation and executes one of two options based upon the commander's guidance and METT-TC. The first option is to block identified routes the detected enemy can use to escape or reinforce. The fixing force maintains contact with the enemy and positions its forces to isolate and fix him before the finishing force attacks. The second option is to conduct an attack to fix the enemy in his current positions until the finishing force arrives. The fixing force can be a combination of mounted and dismounted forces with enough combat power to isolate the enemy after the reconnaissance force finds him. The fixing force attacks if action meets the commander's intent and can generate sufficient combat power against the enemy.
2-211. The finishing force is used to destroy the detected and fixed enemy during a search and attack. This is accomplished by conducting hasty or deliberate operations, maneuvering to block enemy escape routes while another unit conducts the attack, or employing indirect fire or CAS. The leader may have his finishing force establish an area ambush and use his reconnaissance and fixing forces to drive the enemy into the ambushes. The finishing force must have enough combat power to destroy those enemy forces expected in the platoon area of operation.
CONTROL MEASURES FOR A SEARCH AND ATTACK
2-212. The leader establishes control measures allowing for decentralized actions and small-unit initiative to the greatest extent possible. The minimum control measures for a search and attack are an area of operation, TRP, objectives, checkpoints, and contact points. The use of TRP facilitates responsive fire support once the reconnaissance force makes contact with the enemy. The leader uses objectives and checkpoints to guide the movement of subordinate elements. Coordination points indicate a specific location for coordinating fires and movement between adjacent units. The leader uses other control measures such as phase lines, as necessary.
PLANNING A SEARCH AND ATTACK
2-213. Applying all of the warfighting functions, the leader conducts a search and attack to —
Destroy the enemy and render enemy units in the areas of operations combat-ineffective.
Deny the area and prevent the enemy from operating unhindered in a given area.
Protect the force and prevent the enemy from massing to disrupt or destroy friendly military or civilian operations, equipment, property, and essential facilities.
Collect information and gain information about the enemy and terrain to confirm the enemy COA predicted because of the intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) process.
2-214. The search and attack plan places the finishing force, as the decisive operation, where it can best maneuver to destroy enemy forces or essential facilities located by reconnaissance assets. Typically, the finishing force occupies a central location in the area of operation. However, METT-TC may allow the leader to position the finishing force outside the search and attack area. The leader weights this decisive operation by using priority of fires and assigning priorities of support to available combat multipliers such as engineer elements and helicopter lift support. The leader establishes control measures as necessary to consolidate units and concentrate the combat power of the force before the attack. Once the reconnaissance force locates the enemy, the fixing and finishing forces can fix and destroy it. The leader also develops a contingency plan in the event the reconnaissance force is compromised.
PREPARING FOR A SEARCH AND ATTACK
2-215. The preparations for conducting a search and attack are the same as those for an attack. See the appropriate paragraph with the attack section in this chapter for additional information.
EXECUTION OF THE SEARCH AND ATTACK
2-216. Each subordinate element operating in its own area of operation is tasked with destroying the enemy to the best of its capability. The leader should have established control measures and communications means between all closing elements to prevent fratricide and friendly fire. The reconnaissance force conducts a zone reconnaissance to reconnoiter identified named areas of interest.
Gain and Maintain Enemy Contact
2-217. Once the information collection effort locates the enemy, the fixing force develops the situation and executes one of two options based on the leader's guidance and METT-TC. The first option is to block identified routes the detected enemy can use to escape or bring in reinforcements. The fixing force maintains contact with the enemy and positions its forces to isolate and fix him before the finishing force attacks. The second option is to conduct an attack to fix the enemy in his current positions until the finishing force arrives. The fixing force attacks if this action meets the commander's intent and it can generate sufficient combat power against the detected enemy. Depending on the enemy's mobility and likelihood of the reconnaissance force being compromised, the leader may need to position the fixing force before the reconnaissance force enters the area of operation.
Disrupt the Enemy
2-218. The leader uses the finishing force to destroy the detected and fixed enemy during a search and attack by conducting hasty or deliberate operations, maneuvering to block enemy escape routes while another unit conducts the attack, or employing indirect fire or CAS to destroy the enemy.
Fix the Enemy
2-219. If conditions are not right to use the finishing force/main body to attack the detected enemy, the reconnaissance or fixing forces can continue to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance activities to develop the situation. Whenever this occurs, the force maintaining surveillance is careful to avoid detection and possible enemy ambushes.
2-220. The finishing force may move behind the reconnaissance and fixing forces, or locate at a pickup zone and air assault into a landing zone near the enemy once he is located. The finishing force/main body must be responsive enough to engage the enemy before he can break contact with the reconnaissance force or the fixing force. The battalion intelligence staff provides the leader with a time estimate for the enemy to displace from his detected locations. The leader provides additional mobility assets so the finishing force/main body can respond within the timeframe.
2-221. The leader may have the finishing force/main body establish an area ambush and use the reconnaissance and fixing forces to drive the enemy into the ambushes.
2-222. The leader uses the finishing force to destroy the detected and fixed enemy during a search and attack by conducting hasty or deliberate operations, maneuvering to block enemy escape routes while another unit conducts the attack, or employing indirect fire or CAS to destroy the enemy.
CORDON AND SEARCH
Note. The Infantry platoon usually does not have the resources to conduct an independent cordon and search. However, the platoon may conduct it as part of a larger force as the cordon or search element in whole or in part. Each element’s function may be assigned to a platoon that can be broken down into teams.
2-223. The most common tactical task during stability is a cordon and search. This involves two potentially inflammatory processes: limiting freedom of movement and searching dwellings. These two actions have a clear potential for negative consequences. Therefore, organizing cordon and search elements requires extensive mission tailoring and Infantry leaders always are prepared for a civil disturbance.
2-224. Searches are an important aspect of populace and resource control. The need to conduct a search operation or to employ search procedures is a continuous requirement. A search conducted by civil police and Soldiers can orient on people, materiel, buildings, or terrain. Searches may be enabled by biometric or forensic exploitation.
2-225. Cordon and search involves isolating the target area and searching suspected buildings to capture or destroy possible insurgents and contraband. It involves the emplacement of a cordon, or security perimeter, to prevent traffic in and out of the area. The cordon permits the search element to operate unimpeded within the secured area. The purpose of cordon and search is to obtain weapon caches, materiel or information, persons of interest, or a specific high-value target.
2-226. There are two cordon and search methods and the method selected to accomplish the mission depends on a number of factors. The primary consideration is to capture the designated personnel, site, or equipment but additional factors such as the enemy threat, local populace support, and host-nation security force capabilities are taken into account during planning this task.
2-227. The cordon and kick method is used to maintain speed, surprise, and timeliness in entry to the target within the objective. In this instance, considerations of population perceptions and integration of host-nation security force are less important than accomplishing the task of capturing the target individual, site, or equipment.
2-228. If the mission is focused on increasing the legitimacy of the host-nation government and security forces, it may be necessary to sacrifice a degree of surprise and timeliness to achieve its goal by conducting a cordon and knock/ask. In this instance, the unit focuses on maintaining a presence and control of an area by incorporating local authorities into the mission.
Watch the following video to learn more about a Cordon and Search
Deliberate and Hasty Operations
Organization of Forces
Control Measures for an Attack
Order of Events
Special Purpose Attacks
2-255. An attack is a primary offensive task that destroys or defeats enemy forces, seizes and secures terrain, or both. When the Infantry leader decides to attack, or the opportunity to attack occurs during combat operations, the execution of an attack masses the effects of overwhelming combat power against selected portions of the enemy force with a tempo and intensity that cannot be matched by the enemy. The resulting combat should not be a contest between near equals. Attackers are determined to seek decisions on the ground of their choosing through the deliberate synchronization and employment of the combined arms team.
DELIBERATE AND HASTY OPERATIONS
2-256. The primary difference between a deliberate operation and hasty operation is the extent of planning and preparation the attacking force conducts. At one end of the continuum, an Infantry unit launches hasty operation as a continuation of an engagement that exploits a combat power advantage and preempts enemy actions. At the other end of the continuum, an Infantry unit conducts a deliberate operation from a reserve position or AA with detailed knowledge of the enemy, a task organization designed specifically for attacking, and a fully rehearsed plan. Most attacks fall somewhere between the two extremes.
2-257. A deliberate operation normally is conducted when enemy positions are too strong to be overcome by a hasty operation. It is a fully synchronized operation employing every available asset against the enemy defense, and are characterized by a high volume of planned fires, use of major supporting attacks, forward positioning of the resources needed to maintain momentum, and operations throughout the depth of enemy positions. Deliberate operations follow a preparatory period that includes planning, reconnaissance, coordination, positioning of follow-on forces and reserves, preparation of troops and equipment, rehearsals, and operational refinement.
2-258. A hasty operation is conducted during movement to contact, as part of a defense, or when the enemy is in a vulnerable position and can be defeated quickly with available resources. This type of operation may cause the attacking force to lose a degree of synchronization. To minimize this risk, the leader maximizes use of standard formations and well-rehearsed, thoroughly understood battle drills and SOPs. A hasty operation often is the preferred option during continuous operations, enabling the leader to maintain momentum while denying the enemy time for defense preparations.
U.S. Soldiers during an attack in Afghanistan.
ORGANIZATION OF FORCES
2-259. Once the scheme of maneuver is determined, the Infantry leader task-organizes the force to ensure he has enough combat power to accomplish the mission. The leader normally organizes a security force, main body, and a reserve, which are all supported by some type of sustainment organization. The leader should complete all changes in task organization on time to allow units to conduct rehearsals with their attached and supporting elements.
2-260. Under normal circumstances, the leader resources dedicated security forces during an attack only if the attack uncovers one or more flanks, or the rear of the attacking force as it advances. In this case, the leader designates a flank or rear security force and assigns it a guard or screen mission, depending on METT-TC. Normally an attacking unit does not need extensive forward security forces as most attacks are launched from positions in contact with the enemy, which reduces the usefulness of a separate forward security force. The exception occurs when the attacking unit is transitioning from defense to attack and had previously established a security area as part of the defense.
2-261. The Infantry leader organizes the main body into combined arms formations to conduct the decisive operation and necessary shaping operations. The leader aims the decisive operation toward the immediate and decisive destruction of the enemy force and will to resist, seizure of a terrain objective, or the defeat of the enemy’s plan. The maneuver scheme identifies the focus of the decisive operation. All forces’ available resources operate in concert to assure the success of the decisive operation. The subordinate unit or units designated to conduct the decisive operation can change during the course of attack. The leader designates an assault, breach, and support force, if he expects to conduct a breach operation during the attack.
2-262. If it is impractical to initially determine when or where the echelon’s decisive operation will be, such as during a hasty operation, the leader retains flexibility by arranging forces in-depth, holding out strong reserves, and maintaining centralized control of long-range indirect fire support systems. As soon as the tactical situation develops enough to allow the leader to designate the decisive operation, the leader focuses available resources to support decisive operational achievement of its objective. Enemy actions, minor changes in the situation, or the lack of success by other elements cannot divert forces or their effects from the decisive operation.
2-263. The leader uses the reserve to exploit success, defeat enemy counterattacks, or restore momentum to a stalled attack. For a company mission this usually is a squad size force. For a battalion mission it is usually a platoon-size element. Once committed, the reserve’s actions normally become or reinforce the echelon’s decisive operation. The Infantry leader makes every effort to reconstitute another reserve from units made available by the revised situation. Often the leader’s most difficult and important decision concerns the time, place, and circumstances for committing the reserve. The reserve is not a committed force and is not used as a follow-and-support force, or a follow-and-assumes force.
2-264. In the attack, the combat power allocated to the reserve depends primarily on the level of uncertainty about the enemy, especially the strength of all expected enemy counterattacks. The leader only needs to resource a small reserve to respond to unanticipated enemy reactions when detailed information about the enemy exists. When the situation is relatively clear and enemy capabilities are limited, the reserve may consist of a small fraction of the command. When the situation is vague, the reserve initially may contain the majority of the Infantry leader’s combat power.
2-265. Leaders resource sustaining operations to support the attacking force. A maneuver battalion commander organizes the supporting sustainment and other logistics assets into combat and field trains. In an Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), a forward support company (FSC) is part of the Infantry battalion. It is responsible for sustainment of the Infantry battalion. The IBCT sustainment organization is different in structure from the ABCT and SBCT. Higher echelon commanders appoint someone to control sustaining operations within their echelon support areas.
CONTROL MEASURES FOR AN ATTACK
2-266. Units conducting offensive tasks operate within an assignedarea of operation. Regardless of whether the attack takes place in a contiguous or noncontiguous environment, the commander of this area of operation normally designates control measures such as the -
Areas of operation for subordinate units of battalion size or larger.
Phase line as the line of departure, which also may be the line of contact (LC).
Time to initiate the operation.
2-267. Infantry leaders use all other control measures necessary to control the attack. Short of the LD or LC, the leader may designate AA and attack positions where the unit prepares for the offense or waits for the establishment of required conditions to initiate the attack. Beyond the LD or LC, leaders may designate checkpoints, phase lines, PLD, assault positions, and direct and indirect fire support coordination measures . Between the PLD and objective, a final coordination line , assault positions, support by fire and attack by fire positions, and time of assault to better control the final stage of attack can be used. Beyond the objective, the Infantry leader can impose a LOA if a exploitation or pursuit is not conducted. (Refer to FM 3-90-1 for more information.)
ORDER OF EVENTS
2-268. As the platoon leader plans for an attack, the order of events typically follow the sequence described in the paragraphs below.
Moving From the Assembly Area to the Line of Departure
2-269. The tactical situation and order in which the leader wants his subordinate units to arrive at their attack positions govern the march formation.
Maneuvering From the Line of Departure to the Probable Line of Deployment
2-270. Units move rapidly through their attack positions and across the LD, which should be controlled by friendly forces. The leader considers METT-TC when choosing the combat formation which best balances firepower, tempo, security, and control.
Actions at the Probable Line of Deployment, Assault Position
2-271. The attacking unit splits into one or more assault and support forces as it reaches the PLD, if not already accomplished. All forces supporting the assault should be set in their support by fire position before the assault force crosses the LD. The assault force maneuvers against or around the enemy to take advantage of support force’s efforts to suppress targeted enemy positions.
Conducting the Breach
2-272. As necessary, the platoon conducts a combined arms breach. The preferred method of fighting through a defended obstacle is to employ an in-stride breach. However, the leader must be prepared to conduct a deliberate breach. (Refer to appendix H for more information on breaching .)
Assaulting the Objective
2-273. The leader employs all means of direct and indirect fire support to destroy and to suppress the enemy, and to sustain the momentum of attack. Attacking units move as quickly as possible onto and through the objective. Depending on the size and preparation of enemy forces, it may be necessary to isolate and destroy portions of the enemy in sequence.
Consolidating on the Objective
2-274. Immediately after an assault, the attacking unit seeks to exploit its success. It may be necessary, though, to consolidate its gains. Consolidation can vary from repositioning force and security elements on the objective, to reorganization the attacking force, to the organization and detailed improvement of the position for defensive missions.
2-275. After seizing the objective, the unit typically transitions to some other type of task. This operation could be the site exploitation or pursuit, or perhaps a defense. Transitions (through branches and sequels) are addressed and planned prior to undertaking the offensive task. Transitions are discussed section VI of this chapter.
2-276. In an attack, friendly forces seek to place the enemy in a position where the enemy can be defeated or destroyed easily. The leader seeks to keep the enemy off-balance while continually reducing the enemy’s options. In an attack, the leader focuses movement and maneuver effects, supported by the other warfighting functions, on those enemy forces seeking to prevent the unit from accomplishing its mission and seizing its objective. Planning helps the leader synchronize the effects of combat power through TLP. (Refer to appendix A for more information.)
2-277. The leader states the desired effect of fires on the enemy weapon systems, such as suppression or destruction, as part of his planning process. The leader assigns subordinate units their missions and imposes those control measures necessary to synchronize and maintain control over the operation.
2-278. Using the enemy situational and weapons templates previously developed, the leader determines the probable LC and enemy trigger lines. As the leader arrays subordinate elements to shape the battlefield, friendly weapon systems are matched against the enemy has to determine the PLD. Once the leader determines the PLD, the leader establishes how long it takes subordinates to move from the LD to the PLD and all support-by-fire-postions the attack requires. The leader establishes when and where the force must maneuver into enemy direct-fire range.
2-279. In addition to accomplishing the mission, every attack plan must contain provisions for exploiting success or all advantages may arise during the operation. The leader exploits success by aggressively executing the plan, promoting subordinate leader initiative, and using units that can rapidly execute battle drills.
MOVEMENT AND MANEUVER
2-280. In the plan of attack, the Infantry leader seeks to surprise the enemy by choosing an unexpected direction, time, type, or strength for attacking and by exploiting the success of military deception operations. Surprise delays enemy reactions, overloads and confuses enemy command and control, induces psychological shock in the enemy, and reduces the coherence of the enemy’s defensive operations. The leader achieves tactical surprise by attacking in bad weather and over seemingly impassible terrain, conducting feints and demonstrations, maintaining a high tempo, destroying enemy forces, and employing sound OPSEC. The leader may plan different attack times for decisive and shaping operations to mislead the enemy and allow the shifting of supporting fires to successive attacking echelons. However, simultaneous attacks provide a means to maximize the effects of mass in the initial assault. They also prevent the enemy from concentrating defensive fires against successive attacks.
2-281. The platoon leader often will find himself as the observer (and executor) of company and battalion level fires. Understanding the concept of echelon fires is critical for indirect fire plan to be synchronized with the maneuver plan. The purpose of echeloning fires is to maintain constant fires on a target while using the optimum delivery system up to the point of its risk-estimate distance in combat operations or minimum safe distance (MSD) in training. Echeloning fires provides protection for friendly forces as they move to and assault an objective, allowing them to close with minimal casualties. It prevents the enemy from observing and engaging the assault by forcing the enemy to take cover, allowing the friendly force to continue the advance unimpeded.
2-282. In planning, Infantry leaders focus on the routes, formations, and navigational aids they will use to traverse the ground from the LD or PD to the objective. Some terrain locations may require the attacking unit to change its combat formation, direction of movement, or movement technique when it reaches those locations. The unit can post guides at these critical locations to ensure maintaining control over the movement.
2-283. To employ the proper capabilities and tactics, leader and subordinate leaders must have detailed knowledge of the enemy’s organization, equipment, and tactics. They must understand enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. The platoon leader may need to request information through the CoIST from the battalion staff to answer platoon information requirements. (Refer to FM 3-21.10 for more information),
2-284. Generally, if the leader does not have good intelligence and does not know where the overwhelming majority of the enemy’s units and systems are located, the leader cannot conduct a deliberate operation. The attacking unit must conduct a movement to contact, conduct a hasty operation, or collect more combat information.
2-285. The planning process synchronizes the unit’s scheme of maneuver with the indirect fire support plan. It must identify critical times and places where the Infantry leader needs the maximum effects from fire-support assets. Leaders combine maneuver with fires to mass effects, achieve surprise, destroy enemy forces, and obtain decisive results.
2-286. The goal of Infantry leader’s attack criteria is to focus fires on seizing the initiative. The leader emphasizes simple and rapidly integrated direct and indirect fire support plans. This is done using quick-fire planning techniques and good SOPs. Leader integrates fire assets as far forward as possible in the movement formation to facilitate early emplacement. Fires concentrate (mass) on forward enemy elements to enable maneuver efforts to close with the enemy positions.
2-287. The leader and subordinate unit leaders must plan to provide support and services to ensure freedom of action, extend operational reach, and prolong endurance. Sustainment is the provision of logistics, personnel services, and HSS necessary to maintain operations until mission accomplishment.
2-288. Protection facilitates the Infantry leader’s ability to maintain force integrity and combat power. Protection determines the degree to which potential threats can disrupt operations and counters or mitigates those threats. Emphasis on protection increases during preparation and continues throughout execution. Protection is a continuing activity; it integrates all protection capabilities to safeguard bases, secure routes, and protect forces.
Watch the video below to learn more about how detailed intelligence can lead to mission success.
2-289. Even in fluid situations, attacks are best organized and coordinated in AA. If the leader decides rapid action is essential to retain a tactical advantage, he may opt not to use an AA. Detailed advance planning, combined with digital communications, SOP, and battle drills, may reduce negative impacts of such a decision.
2-290. Unless already in an AA, the attacking unit moves into one during the preparation phase. The unit moves with as much secrecy as possible, normally at night and along routes preventing or degrading the enemy’s capabilities to visually observe or otherwise detect the movement. It avoids congesting its AA and occupies it minimal possible time. While in the AA, each unit is responsible for its own protection activities, such as local security.
2-291. The attacking unit should continue its TLP and priorities of work to the extent the situation and mission allow before moving to attack positions. These preparations include but are not necessarily limited to ─
Protecting the force.
Conducting task organization.
Refining the plan.
Briefing the troops.
Conducting rehearsals, to include test firing of weapons.
Moving logistics and medical support forward.
Promoting adequate rest for both leaders and Soldiers.
Positioning the force for subsequent action.
2-292. As part of TLP, leaders at all levels should conduct a personal reconnaissance of the actual terrain when this will not compromise operational security or result in excessive risk to the unit leadership. Modern information systems can enable leaders to conduct a virtual reconnaissance when a physical reconnaissance is not practical. If a limited-visibility attack is planned, they also should reconnoiter the terrain at night.
2-293. Executing an attack is a series of advances and assaults by attacking units until they secure the final objective characterizes the attack. Leaders at all levels must use their initiative to shift their main effort between units as necessary to take advantage of opportunities and momentum to ensure the enemy’s rapid destruction. Attacking units move as quickly as possible, following reconnaissance elements or probes through gaps in the enemy’s defenses. They shift their strength to reinforce success and carry the battle deep into the enemy’s rear. The leader does not delay the attack to preserve the alignment of subordinate units or to adhere closely to the preconceived plan of attack.
2-294. The leader avoids becoming so committed to the initial plan that opportunities are neglected, and is mentally prepared to abandon failed attacks in order to exploit all unanticipated successes or enemy errors. This is achieved by designating another unit to conduct the decisive operation in response to the changing situation.
2-295. The following sequence is used to execute an attack ─
Gain and maintain enemy contact.
Disrupt the enemy.
Fix the enemy.
GAIN AND MAINTAIN ENEMY CONTACT
2-296. Gaining and maintaining contact with the enemy when he is determined to break contact is vital to the success of the offense. A defending enemy generally establishes a security area around his forces to make early contact with the attacking forces. This helps determine their capabilities, intent, chosen COA, and delays their approach. The enemy commander wants to use his security area to strip away friendly reconnaissance forces and hide his dispositions, capabilities, and intent. The goal is to compel the attacking force to conduct movement to contact against his defending force while knowing the exact location of the attacking forces.
DISRUPT THE ENEMY
2-297. Disrupting one or more parts of the enemy weakens the entire force and allows the friendly leader to attack the remaining enemy force in an asymmetrical manner. The assessment and decisions regarding what to disrupt, when to disrupt, and to what end are critical.
2-298. Once all types of contact, even sensor contact is made with the enemy, the leader wants to use the element of surprise to conduct shaping operations striking at the enemy and disrupt both the enemy’s combined arms team and his ability to plan and control his forces. Once this disruption process begins, it continues throughout the attack.
FIX THE ENEMY
2-299. A primary purpose in fixing the enemy is to isolate the objective of the force conducting the echelons decisive operation to prevent the enemy from maneuvering to reinforce the unit targeted for destruction. The Infantry leader does everything possible to limit the options available to his opponent. Fixing an enemy into a given position or a COA and controlling his movements limit his options and reduce the amount of uncertainty on the battlefield.
2-300. Fixing the enemy is done with the minimum amount of force. The Infantry leader normally allocates the bulk of his combat power to the force conducting his decisive operation. Fixing operations are, by necessity, shaping operations illustrating economy of force as a principle of war. Therefore, the leader must carefully consider which enemy elements to fix and target only those he can significantly affect the outcome of the fight.
2-301. The Infantry leader maneuvers his forces to gain positional advantage to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative while avoiding the enemy’s defensive strength. He employs tactics defeating the enemy by attacking through a point of relative weakness, such as a flank or the rear. The key for success is to strike hard and fast, overwhelm a portion of the enemy force, and quickly transition to the next objective or phase, thus maintaining the momentum of attack without reducing the pressure. Examples of maneuver include—
Movement From the Line of Departure to the Probable Line of Deployment
2-302. The unit transitions from troop movement to maneuver once it crosses the LD. It moves aggressively and as quickly as the terrain and enemy situation allow. It moves forward using appropriate movement techniques assisted by the fires of supporting units. Fire and movement are integrated and coordinated closely. Suppressive fires facilitate friendly movement, and friendly movement facilitates more fires. Whenever possible, the attacking unit uses avenues of approach avoiding strong enemy defensive positions, takes advantage of all available cover and concealment, and places the unit on the flanks and rear of the defending enemy. Where cover and concealment are not available, the unit uses obscurants to conceal its movement.
Actions at the Probable Line of Deployment, Assault Position, or Final Coordination Line
2-303. The attacking unit maintains the pace of its advance as it approaches its probable line of deployment. The attacking unit splits into one or more assault and support forces once it reaches the PLD if not previously completed. All forces supporting the assault force should be set in their support by fire positions before the assault force crosses the probable line of deployment. The leader synchronizes the occupation of support by fire positions with the maneuver of the supported attacking unit to limit the vulnerability of forces occupying these positions. Leaders use unit tactical SOPs, battle drills, prearranged signals, engagement area, and TRP to control direct fires from these supporting positions and normally employs RFL between converging forces.
2-304. To conduct breaching operations successfully, the platoon applies the breaching fundamentals of suppress, obscure, secure, reduce, and assault (SOSRA). The support force sets the conditions, the breach force reduces, clears, and marks the required number of lanes through the enemy’s tactical obstacles to support the maneuver of the assault force. The leader must clearly identify the conditions allowing the breach force to proceed to avoid confusion. From the PLD, the assault force maneuvers against or around the enemy to take advantage of support force’s efforts to suppress the targeted enemy positions. (Refer to appendix H, section II of this publication for a more detailed explanation.)
Actions on the Objective
2-305. The effects of overwhelming and simultaneous application of fire, movement, and shock action characterize the final assault. This violent assault destroys or defeats and drives the enemy from the objective area. Small units conduct the final assault while operating under the control of the appropriate echelon command post. Heavy forces have the option of conducting this final assault in either a mounted or dismounted configuration.
2-306. Mounted forces have the option of conducting this final assault in either a mounted or dismounted configuration.
2-307. The platoon leader and company commander must decide whether or not the assault element will assault the objective mounted or dismounted. Generally, if the enemy is in restrictive terrain and poses a significant antiarmor threat, the platoon assaults the objective dismounted. If the objective is on unrestrictive terrain and the enemy’s antiarmor threat is minimal, the assault element may assault mounted.
Mounted assault. If the platoon leader decides to assault mounted, then as soon as the BFVs assault across the objective, the rifle squads dismount to clear the objective of enemy forces
Dismounted assault. If the platoon leader decides to assault the objective dismounted, the platoon dismounts its rifle squads to assault the objective, and the vehicles move to support-by-fire positions. If possible, the platoon dismounts in an area that offers some cover and concealment from enemy observation and direct fire, which allows the platoon to assemble and orient appropriately. The dismount point must be close enough to the objective that the rifle squads do not become excessively fatigued while moving to the objective.
2-308. Whether assaulting mounted or dismounted, the platoon leader or company team commander designates the dismount point based on the following factors:
Short of the objective (near or at the assault position).
On the objective.
Beyond the objective.
Short of the Objective
2-309. The advantages of dismounting the rifle squads before reaching the objective include: protection for the squad members while dismounting; better control at the dismount point; and an ability to suppress the enemy with indirect fires without endangering the platoon. The disadvantages include: exposure of the rifle squads to indirect and direct fires as the move toward the objective; and the enemy may target possible dismount points with indirect fires.
On the Objective
2-310. The advantages of dismounting the rifle squads on the objective include: better platoon speed toward the objective; protection for the rifle squads and the platoon maneuvers toward the objective. The disadvantages include: difficult to orient the rifle squads on specific locations or objectives while riding in the vehicle; difficult to control at the dismount point; and the vehicles are vulnerable to short-range, handheld antiarmor systems while dismounting the rifle squads.
Beyond the Objective
2-311. Dismounting beyond the objective has several potential advantages: effective control at the dismount point; easier to orient the rifle squads to the terrain and the objective; and confused or disoriented enemy are forced to fight in an unexpected direction. Significant disadvantages remain the platoon is vulnerable to attack from enemy defensive positions in depth; the platoon is vulnerable to attack by enemy reserve forces; the vehicles are vulnerable to short-range, handheld antiarmor systems; and it is difficult to control direct fires, increasing the risk of fratricide.
2-312. Ideally, the platoon’s assault element occupies the assault position without the enemy detecting the platoon’s elements. Preparations in the assault position may include preparing Bangalore, other breaching equipment, or demolitions; fixing bayonets; lifting or shifting direct fires; or preparing smoke pots.
2-313. If the platoon is detected as it nears its assault position, indirect fire suppression is required on the objective and the support element increases its volume of fire. If the platoon needs to make last-minute preparations, then it occupies the assault position. If the platoon does not need to stop, it passes through the assault position, treating it as a PLD and assaults the objective. Sometimes, a platoon must halt to complete preparation and to ensure synchronization of friendly forces. Once the assault element moves forward of the assault position, the assault continues. If the assault element stops or turns back, the element could sustain excessive casualties.
2-314. Infantry leaders employ all direct and indirect fire support means to destroy and suppress the enemy and sustain the momentum of attack. By carefully synchronizing the effects of indirect-fire systems and available CAS, leaders improve the likelihood of success. Fires are planned in series or groups to support maneuver against enemy forces on or near the geographical objective. As the leader shifts artillery fires and obscurants from the objective to other targets, the assault element moves rapidly across the objective. The support element must not allow its suppressive fires to lapse. These fires isolate the objective and prevent the enemy from reinforcing or counterattacking. They also destroy escaping enemy forces and systems.
2-315. After seizing the objective, the Infantry force has two alternatives: exploit success and continue the attack or terminate the offensive mission. After seizing an objective, the most likely on-order mission is to continue the attack. During consolidation, the unit continues TLP in preparation for all on-order missions assigned by a higher headquarters.
2-316. Assessment refers to the continuous monitoring and evaluation of current situation, particularly the enemy, and progress of an operation. Assessment precedes and guides every operations process activity and concludes each operation or phase of an operation. It involves a comparison of forecasted outcomes to actual events. Assessment entails three tasks ─
Continuously assessing the enemy’s reactions and vulnerabilities.
Continuously monitoring the situation and progress of operation towards the commander’s desired end state.
Evaluating the operation against measures of effectiveness and measures of performance.
2-317. Upon receiving the mission, leaders perform an initial assessment of the situation and METT-TC, focusing on the unit’s role in the larger operation, and allocating time for planning and preparing. The two most important products from this initial assessment should be at least a partial restated mission, and a timeline. Leaders issue their initial WARNORD on this first assessment and time allocation.
2-318. Army forces conduct (plan, prepare, execute, and assess) operations based on the all-source intelligence assessment developed by the intelligence section. The all-source intelligence assessment is expressed as part of the intelligence estimate. They are continuous and occur throughout the operations process and intelligence process. Most products resulting from all-source intelligence are initially developed during planning, and updated as needed throughout preparation and execution based on information gained from continuous assessment.
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2-319. During execution, assessment of risk assists the leader in making informed decisions on changing task organization, shifting priorities of effort and support, and shaping future operations. Effectiveness entails making accurate assessments and good decisions about how to fight the enemy. Mission complements command by using the most efficient means available. Vital supporting concepts are TLP, actions on contact, and risk management. Leaders use the assessment process to generate combat power.
SPECIAL PURPOSE ATTACKS
2-320. Special purpose attacks are ambush, counterattack, demonstration, feint, raid, and spoiling attack. (Refer to ADRP 3-90 for more information.) The commander’s intent andMETT-TC determine which special purpose attacks to employ. Each attack can be conducted as either a hasty or a deliberate operation. The commander’s intent and METT-TC determine the specific attack form. As subordinate attack tasks, they share many of the planning, preparation, and execution considerations of attack. Demonstrations and feints, while forms of attack, also are associated with military deception operations. (Refer to FM 3-13 for more information.)
Watch the video below to learn more about how force multipliers assist special purpose attacks.
2-321. An ambush is an assault by fire or other destructive means from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy. An ambush stops, denies, or destroys enemy forces by maximizing the element of surprise. Ambushes can employ direct fire systems as well as other destructive means, such as command-detonated mines, indirect fires, and supporting nonlethal effects. They may include an assault to close with and destroy enemy forces. In an ambush, ground objectives do not have to be seized and held.
2-322. The three forms of ambush are point, area, and antiarmor ambush. In a point ambush, a unit deploys to attack a single kill zone. In an area ambush, a unit deploys into two or more related point ambushes. Units smaller than a platoon normally do not conduct an area ambush.
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2-323. A typical ambush is organized into three elements: assault, support, and security. The assault element fires into the kill zone. Its goal is to destroy the enemy force. When used, the assault force attacks into and clears the kill zone. It also may be assigned additional tasks, to include searching for items of intelligence value, capturing prisoners, photographing new types of equipment and when unable to take enemy equipment, completing the destruction of enemy equipment to avoid its immediate reuse. The support element supports the assault element by firing into and around the kill zone, and it provides the ambush’s primary killing power. The support element attempts to destroy the majority of enemy combat power before the assault element moves into the objective or kill zone. The security element isolates the kill zone, provides early warning of arrival of all enemy relief forces, and provides security for the assault and support elements. It secures the objective rally point (ORP) and blocks enemy avenues of approach into and out of the ambush site, which prevents the enemy from entering or leaving. (Refer to chapter 6 this publication for detailed discussion.)
2-324. A counterattack is an attack by part or all of a defending force against an enemy attacking force, for such specific purposes as regaining ground lost or cutting off or destroying enemy advance units. The general objective is to deny the enemy his goal in attacking. The leader directs a counterattack normally conducted from a defensive posture, to defeat or destroy enemy forces, exploit an enemy weakness such as an exposed flank, or to regain control of terrain and facilities after an enemy success. A unit conducts a counterattack to seize the initiative from the enemy through offensive action. A counterattacking force maneuvers to isolate and destroy a designated enemy force. It can be an assault by fire into an engagement area to defeat or destroy an enemy force, restore the original position, or block an enemy penetration. Once launched, the counterattack normally becomes a decisive operation for the leader conducting the counterattack.
2-325. To be decisive, the counterattack occurs when the enemy is overextended, dispersed, and disorganized during his attack. All counterattacks should be rehearsed in the same conditions they will be conducted. Careful consideration is given to the event triggering the counterattack. Once committed, the counterattack force conducts the decisive operation.
2-326. In military deception, a demonstration is a show of force in an area where a decision is not sought but made to deceive a threat. It is similar to a feint, but no actual contact with the threat is intended.
2-327. A feint is an attack used to deceive the enemy as to the location or time of the actual decisive operation. Forces conducting a feint seek direct fire contact with the enemy but avoid decisive engagement. As in the demonstration, leader use feints in conjunction with other military deception activities.
2-328. A raid is a limited-objective, deliberate operation entailing swift penetration of hostile terrain. A raid is not intended to hold territory; and it requires detailed intelligence, preparation, and planning. The Infantry platoon and squad conducts raids as part of a larger force to accomplish a number of missions, including the following -
Capture prisoners, installations, and/or enemy materiel.
Capture or destroy specific enemy command and control locations.
Destroy enemy materiel or installations.
Obtain information concerning enemy locations, dispositions, strength, intentions, or methods of operation.
Confuse the enemy or disrupt his plans.
Liberate friendly personnel.
Example of a Raid
2-329. A spoiling attack is a tactical maneuver employed to impair a hostile attack while the enemy is in the process of forming or assembling for an attack. The spoiling attack usually employs heavy, attack helicopter, or fire support elements to attack on enemy assembly positions in front of a main line of resistance or battle position.
2-330. The objective of a spoiling attack is to disrupt the enemy’s offensive capabilities and timelines while destroying targeted enemy personnel and equipment, not to secure terrain and other physical objectives. Two conditions must be met to conduct a survivable spoiling attack ─
The spoiling attack’s objective must be obtainable before the enemy being able to respond to the attack in a synchronized and coordinated manner.
The force conducting the spoiling attack must be prevented from becoming over extended.
2-331. Infantry forces conduct a spoiling attack whenever possible during friendly defensive missions to strike an enemy force while it is in AA or attack positions preparing for its own offensive mission or is stopped temporarily.
2-332. Army electronic warfare operations seek to enable the land force commander to support unified land operations through decisive action. Decisive action consists of the simultaneous combination of offense, defense, and stability or defense support of civil authorities appropriate to the mission and environment. The central idea of unified land operations is to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative to gain and maintain a position of relative advantage in sustained land operations in order to create the conditions for favorable conflict resolution.
2-333. The foundation of unified land operations is built on initiative, decisive action, and mission command—linked and nested through purposeful and simultaneous execution of both combined arms maneuver and wide area security—to achieve the commander’s intent and desired end state. Appropriately applied, electronic warfare enables successful unified land operations. Commanders and staffs determine which resident and joint force electronic warfare capabilities to use in support of each element of decisive action. As they apply the appropriate level of electronic warfare effort to support these elements, commanders can seize, retain, and exploit the initiative within the electromagnetic environment.
2-334. Once a commander can seize, retain, and exploit the initiative within the electromagnetic environment, then control becomes possible. Commanders plan, prepare, execute, and assess electronic warfare operations to control the electromagnetic spectrum.
2-335. To exercise electromagnetic spectrum control commanders effectively apply and integrate electronic warfare operations across the warfighting functions: mission command, movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment, and protection.
Read the following vignette to learn more about Electronic Warfare. ─ SELECT HERE
Operation During Limited Visibility
2-336. Effective use of advanced optical sights and equipment during limited visibility attacks enhances the ability of squads and platoons to achieve surprise, hit targets, and cause panic in a lesser-equipped enemy. Advanced optics and equipment allow the Infantry Soldier to see farther and with greater clarity. They provide an advantage over the enemy. Infantry platoons and squads have—
Night vision equipment mounted on the helmet of each Soldier.
Weapon-mounted and handheld devices to identify and designate targets.
Vision devices and thermal imagers on the BFV for both the driver and the vehicle commander manning the turret.
2-337. Night vision devices provide good visibility in all but pitch-black conditions but do somewhat limit the Soldier’s field of view. Since they do not transmit a light source, the enemy detection devices cannot detect them.
2-338. The BFV is as effective at night as during the day. It can be driven and its weapon systems can be fired during limited visibility. The driver has an enhanced vision capability, and the vehicle commander has both an enhanced vision and thermal imaging capability. The BFV is capable of accurately identifying its current location with the onboard GPS. The common operational picture allows leaders to locate their subordinate units at all times.
2-339. Infantry leaders and Soldiers have an increased ability to designate and control fires during limited visibility. There are three types of advanced optics and equipment for use in fire control:
Target designators. Leaders can designate targets with greater precision using infared laser pointers that place an infared light to designate targets and sectors of fire and to concentrate fire. The leader lazes a target on which he directs his Soldiers to place their fires. The Soldiers then use their weapon’s aiming lights to engage the target.
Aiming lights. Soldiers with aiming lights have greater accuracy of fires during limited visibility. Each Soldier in the Infantry platoon is equipped with an aiming light for his individual weapon. Aiming lights work with the individual Soldier’s helmet-mounted night vision goggles. It puts an infared light on the target at the point of aim.
Target illuminators. Leaders can designate larger targets using target illuminators. Target illuminators are essentially infared light sources that light the target, making it easier to acquire effectively. Leaders and Soldiers use the infared devices to identify enemy or friendly personnel and then engage targets using their aiming lights.
2-340. Illuminating rounds fired to burn on the ground can mark objectives. This helps the platoon orient on the objective, but may adversely affect night vision devices.
2-341. Leaders plan but may not use illumination during limited visibility attacks. Battalion commanders normally control conventional illumination, but may authorize the company team commander to do so. If the commander decides to use conventional illumination, he should not call for it until the assault is initiated or the attack is detected. It should be placed on several locations over a wide area to confuse the enemy as to the exact place of the attack. It should be placed beyond the objective to help assaulting Soldiers see and fire at withdrawing or counterattacking enemy Soldiers.
2-342. The platoon leader, squad leaders, and vehicle commanders must develop TACSOPs and sound COAs to synchronize the employment of infared illumination devices, target designators, and aiming lights during their assault on the objective. These include using luminous tape or chemical lights to mark personnel and using weapons control restrictions.
2-343. The platoon leader may use the following techniques to increase control during the assault:
Use no flares, grenades, or smoke on the objective.
Use only certain personnel with night vision devices to engage targets on the objective.
Use a magnetic azimuth for maintaining direction.
Use mortar or artillery rounds to orient attacking units.
Use a base squad or fire team to pace and guide others.
Reduce intervals between Soldiers and squads.
2-344. Like a daylight attack, indirect and direct fires are planned for a limited visibility attack, but are not executed unless the platoon is detected or is ready to assault. Some weapons may fire before the attack and maintain a pattern to deceive the enemy or to help cover noise made by the platoon’s movement. This is not done if it will disclose the attack.
2-345. Smoke further reduces the enemy’s visibility, particularly if he has night vision devices. The forward observer fires smoke rounds close to or on enemy positions so it does not restrict friendly movement or hinder the reduction of obstacles. Employing smoke on the objective during the assault may make it hard for assaulting Soldiers to find enemy fighting positions. If enough thermal sights are available, smoke on the objective may provide a decisive advantage for a well-trained platoon.
Note. If the enemy is equipped with night vision devices, leaders must evaluate the risk of using each technique and ensure the mission is not compromised by the enemy’s ability to detect infared light sources.
2-346. Obscuration mission planning and execution can occur during both the offense and the defense and can be very effective. Firing smoke on enemy positions can degrade the vision of gunners and known or suspected observation posts, preventing them from seeing or tracking targets and, thereby, reducing their effectiveness. When employed against an attacking force, white phosphorus (WP) can cause confusion and disorientation by degrading the enemy’s mission command capabilities; while friendly units retain the ability to engage the enemy using thermal sights and range cards. Enemy vehicles become silhouetted as they emerge from the smoke. If smoke employment is planned and executed correctly, this occurs as the enemy reaches the trigger line.
2-347. Obscuration missions are important functions for mortars. Smoke missions must be planned well in advance so that the mortar carriers are loaded with a sufficient number of smoke rounds.
2-348. Atmospheric stability, wind velocity, and wind direction are the most important factors when planning target effects for smoke and WP mortar rounds. The effects of atmospheric stability can determine whether mortar smoke is effective at all or, if effective, how much ammunition is needed. The considerations are—
During unstable conditions, mortar smoke and WP rounds are almost ineffective—the smoke does not spread but often climbs straight up and quickly dissipates.
Under moderately unstable atmospheric conditions, base-ejecting smoke rounds are more effective than BFV bursting WP rounds.
Under stable conditions, both red phosphorous and WP rounds are effective.
The higher the humidity, the better the screening effects of mortar rounds.
2-349. The terrain in the target area affects smoke and WP rounds. If the terrain in the target area is swampy, rain-soaked, or snow-covered, then burning smoke rounds may not be effective. These rounds produce smoke by ejecting felt wedges soaked in phosphorus. These wedges then burn on the ground, producing a dense, long-lasting cloud. If the wedges fall into mud, water, or snow, they can extinguish. Shallow water can reduce the smoke produced by these rounds by as much as 50 percent. The terrain in the target area affects BFV bursting WP rounds little, except that deep snow and cold temperatures can reduce the smoke cloud by about 25 percent.
2-350. The vehicle smoke grenade launchers can provide a screening, incendiary, marking, and casualty-producing effect. It produces a localized, instantaneous smoke cloud by scattering burning WP particles. The 120-mm heavy mortar and 81-mm medium mortar WP and red phosphorus rounds produce a long-lasting and wide area smoke screen and can be used for incendiary effects, marking, obscuring, screening , and casualty producing. The 60-mm lightweight company mortar WP round can be used as a screening, signaling, and incendiary agent. All mortar smoke rounds can be used as an aid in target location and navigation.
Transition to the Defense
Transition to Stability
2-351. The Infantry leader halts an offensive task when he accomplishes his mission, culminates, or receives a change in mission from higher headquarters.
2-352. Consolidation is the process of organizing and strengthening a newly captured position so it can be defended. Normally, the attacking unit tries to exploit its success regardless the type of assault. In some situations, however, the unit may have to consolidate its gains. Consolidation may vary from a rapid repositioning of forces and security elements on the objective, to a reorganization of the attacking force, to the organization and detailed improvement of positions for defensive missions.
2-353. Consolidation consists of actions taken to secure the objective and defend against an enemy counterattack. Leaders use TLP to plan and prepare for this phase of operation. They ensure the unit is ready to conduct the following actions that usually are part of consolidation ─
Eliminate enemy resistance on the objective.
Establish security beyond the objective by securing areas that may be the source of enemy direct fires or enemy artillery observation.
Establish additional security measures such as observation posts and patrols.
Prepare for and assist the passage of follow-on forces (if required).
Continue to improve security by conducting other necessary defensive actions. These defensive actions include engagement area development, direct fire planning, and battle position preparation.
Adjust final protective fires and register targets along likely mounted and dismounted avenues of approach.
Protect the obstacle reduction effort.
Secure enemy detainees.
Prepare for enemy counterattack.
2-354. Reorganization usually is conducted concurrently with consolidation. It consists of actions taken to prepare units for follow-on operations. As with consolidation, unit leaders plan and prepare for reorganization as they conduct TLP. Unit leaders ensure the following actions are conducted ─
Provide essential medical treatment and evacuate casualties as necessary.
Treat and evacuate wounded detainees and process the remainder of enemy detainees.
Cross-level personnel and adjust task organization as required to support the next phase or mission.
Conducts resupply operations, including rearming and refueling.
Conduct required maintenance.
Continue improvement of defensive positions as necessary.
Watch the following video to learn more about Reorganization.