--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.