Tactics 101: 017 – Breaching Operations
ORGANIZING FOR SUCCESS
No matter what type of breach a unit is executing, it must be organized for success. Because of the critical actions needed to be completed and in some cases the need for specialized equipment; a unit can not simply organize a breaching operation at a moments notice. A tried and proven way of organizing a force to execute a breach is to ensure your unit has a designated support, breach and assault force. Let’s talk about the roles of each.
Support Force – As the name suggests, the role of the support force is to set the conditions for the breach force to accomplish its mission and thus enable the assault force to continue the momentum of the attack. To do this, the support force will suppress enemy forces covering the obstacle; mass direct and indirect fires on those enemy forces that can influence the ability of the breach force to accomplish its mission; and control the obscuring smoke utilized at the breach site (a true art and science). The rule of thumb on the size of this force is to have a 3 to 1 ratio (of weapon systems) in favor of the support force to those enemy weapon systems covering the obstacle. The support force may occupy a support by fire position in open terrain or could be assigned an objective in more restrictive terrain.
Breach Force – The breach force is your heavy lifter. They are the force that reduces the obstacle and creates the lanes enabling the assault force to pass through. Obviously, this force is generally engineer heavy and will possess the specialized equipment needed to breach the obstacle. Besides engineer assets, the breach force will normally have a true combined arms flavor to it to ensure it accomplishes its mission. After breaching the obstacle, the force will mark the lanes to be used to move through the breach (a key task). They will also provide local security around the breach site and lanes.
Assault Force – Once the lanes are provided, the assault force will move through them to get to the far side of the obstacle. Their task is to destroy or dislodge the enemy at those locations and make the breach site safe for the rest of the unit. They are normally given objectives on the far side designed to eliminate fires on the breach site. The assault force may assist the support force in their role while waiting to move through the obstacle. Depending on the size of the unit, they may also assist the breach force in reducing the obstacle and then move to the far side.
PLANNING FOR SUCCESS
Because breaching is not an end in itself, an excellent technique for planning is to conduct reverse breach planning. In this planning, we start from the overall objective we must accomplish and work back. Really when you think of it, there is no other way you can do it. You must ensure you come out of the breach ready to continue your mission. Below you will find the steps you should conduct in this planning.
Step 1 – Identify Your Available Breaching Assets.
Just in all planning, you must first figure out what you have to use. Breaching assets come from a variety of sources. If you are fortunate enough to have tanks (depending on the make), you could have mine plows and rollers in each tank company. Infantry units will have some individual equipment, but obviously if you are depending on this you are in for a long day. A unit’s biggest contributor of assets is within their engineer units. Again, depending on the unit you could possess bridging assets, mine clearing ammunition, plows, marking equipment etc. Don’t forget to identify the assets you have to make smoke for obscuration.
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