--Search and Attack

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.

Reconnaissance
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.

Fixing
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.

Finishing
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.

Maneuver
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.

Follow Through
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.