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Posted on Dec 16, 2007 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 022 – Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield in Urban Operations Part 2

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Link Diagram

The final step in link analysis is to take the information acquired in the association matrix, activities matrix, and the time event chart and develop a link diagram. The link diagram graphically represents the relationships between population elements. Each of the circles in the above diagram represents individuals. The boxes surrounding them indicate their group affiliations. Note that the boxes can represent the name of a group, if known, or an activity in which the individual is known to have participated. This latter mechanism, charting the individual to his known activities, can serve to identify the capabilities and intentions of the various groups to which he belongs.

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We now take the results from our pattern and link analysis combine that with what we believe was their organization at the time and what the weather and terrain appear to be in future operations to come up with a variation of a situational template. We now can finalize some feasible threat courses of action.

Step 3 has enabled us to truly dissect our foe. Within Evaluating the Threat, we have accomplished three critical actions. These are: 1) Understand what he is capable of doing and just as importantly, not capable of doing; 2) Provide us the information we need to accurately conduct step 4 of the process – Determine Threat Courses of Action; 3) Enable you to see gaps in your knowledge so you can focus your reconnaissance efforts. In other words, our work in step 3 ultimately saves us time later in the process and makes our work later much more accurate.


So why did we conduct all this painstaking work in the first three steps of the IPB process? Well, to provide us with the foundation to develop viable enemy courses of action. Just as we did when we developed courses of action for a conventional foe; we want develop all possible COAs for the enemy. We then will evaluate and prioritize them and work further on the ones we prioritize.

Perhaps, the biggest challenge in developing courses of action is the potential for you to go against several distinct threats in an urban operation. Each of the threats may be a direct danger to you or may be in conflict with other groups in the operational area. As you know, this is a supreme challenge! So where do you start? Here is a potential way to go:

1. First, start with the endstate of each threat. What is it that they want to achieve?
2. Review your analysis the first two steps of the process: 1) Define the Battlefield Environment and 2) Describe the Battlefield’s Effects. Ensure you understand how weather, urban terrain and the populace will shape each threat’s potential actions.
3. Review your work in step three of the IPB process: Evaluating the Threat. Start with the generic principles and tactics of unconventional forces. Review your analysis on the enemy. This includes capabilities, weaknesses, weapons etc…. Finally, and perhaps most importantly review your pattern and link analysis. What came out of that? Additionally, conduct pattern and link analysis on yourself. Perhaps, your actions in the past may influence future enemy courses of action.
4. Finally, develop courses of action for each threat. Remember to prioritize them and develop the key ones as time permits. With these in your “kit bag” you can know develop friendly courses of action. The key in developing these friendly COAs is to make sure they force your enemy to react to you and not vice versa. If you are continually reacting to your opponent; you are in for a bad experience!


IPB in any environment is difficult business. In the urban environment it is even more complicated. Not only must you deal with the terrain challenges and the influence of the local populace, but determining what the threat is going to do is hard work! Add to the fact that you may be facing multiple threats and you really have a test. However, all is not hopeless! First, gather the information utilizing all available collection efforts. Second, put the information in some simple tools that make the information accessible. Finally, analyze the information and make some deductions. Will you get all your predictions right? Obviously not! However, your hard work has greatly increased your chances at accurately predicting your opponent’s next actions. With this in hand, you can now make the enemy react to you!


In our next article, we will begin to dissect the intricacies of defending in the urban environment. Obviously, this environment offers some major advantages to the defender. However, as in any terrain the key to success is benefiting from these advantages. We will show you next month how to fight and win while defending in an urban operation.

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