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Tactics 101 068 – Task OrganizationBy Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland | Tactics101|War College | Published: January 09, 2012 at 4:33 pm
“Generally, management of the many is the same as management of the few. It is a matter of organization.”
1) What is the definition of task organization?
What is the definition of task organization?
What are the principles when task organizing?
1) You want to ensure you are doing everything you can to maintain cohesive teams within your unit. This is critical because this obviously can have a huge positive effect on operations on the ground. The more cohesive your subordinate teams are; the better their ability to work as one. So what can you do to assist you in this? Above all, try to make as little changes as possible and keep habitual associations as much as you can. For instance, if an armor platoon is used to working with a mechanized infantry company; it is a habitual relationship and clearly there is cohesion. If this is not feasible (and many times it won’t be) you try to make these changes as soon as possible. This provides additional time that can be used for training or at least for units to acquaint themselves with one another. Remember, do not make changes on your task organization unless the advantages trump the disadvantages.
2) When creating a task organization, you must ensure you do not exceed the ability of a unit to control the subordinate units you have placed under it. Simply put, a commander can only effectively control a certain number of subordinate units. The rule of thumb is this is anywhere between 2-6 units. (Anything above this is just too challenging). For example, let’s use a mechanized infantry company commander. We have decided to allow him to keep two of his organic mechanized platoons. Additionally, we have assigned him an armor platoon and attached an engineer platoon and a section of field artillery tubes. This makes for five subordinate units and a pretty significant amount of combat power. Remember, the more units you provide a commander the more flexibility and options you give him. However, this also increases the number of decisions the commander must make. This can place a heavy burden on some commanders and drastically slow down their decision cycle.
What do you need to know before you task organize your forces?
“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”
When do we task organize our forces?
How will a well-thought out task organization assist you in achieving mission accomplishment?
COMMAND AND SUPPORT RELATIONSHIPS
What are the command relationships that exist in a task organization?
Organic – Basically an organic relationship is one that has existed since the creation of the unit. For example, let’s look at a mechanized infantry company. Under the company would be three mechanized infantry platoons. These platoons would be organic. If the company would go into combat as is, we would call this fighting pure.
Assigned – In an assigned relationship, you will place a subordinate unit under a superior unit for a relatively permanent period. You will typically see this in a long campaign. In our above example, you may assign a tank platoon to the mechanized infantry company. This would be preferably be done even before combat operations so the company could train together. This is normally how you form combined arms teams.
Attached – In an attached relationship, you will place a subordinate unit under a superior unit for a temporary period. This is normally done for a specific mission. For instance, you may attach a tank platoon to a light infantry company to provide it extra firepower for a specific mission. This type of mission could be something such as seizing a key piece of terrain which is critical overall to mission accomplishment. Once the mission is complete, the relationship would likely end.
There are two other command relationships possible. These are Operational Control (OPCON) and Tactical Control (TACON). You will generally see these at the higher levels of command. To be honest, OPCON and TACON are a little difficult to explain. We will tackle these in ‘TACTICS 102’!
What are the support relationships that exist in a task organization?
Direct Support – In a direct support relationship, the supporting unit retains its command relationship with its parent unit. However, it is positioned by and has priorities of support established by the unit it is supporting. Example: A field artillery battery has been given a direct support role for an armor battalion. The battery stays under the command of its artillery battalion. Yet, it will be positioned and will shoot for the armor battalion. This is the most exclusive support relationship. Within the written task organization, the supporting unit would have a (DS) after it.
Reinforcing – In a reinforcing relationship, the supporting unit retains its command relationship with its parent unit. However, it is positioned by and has priorities of support established by the reinforced unit and then its parent unit. A reinforcing relationship can only be executed by the same type of units – artillery to artillery, engineer to engineer, etc… Example: A field artillery battery has been given a reinforcing role to another artillery battalion (not its parent unit). Its priority will be to shoot first for the battalion it is reinforcing and then to its parent battalion. Within the written task organization, the reinforcing unit would have a (R) after it.
General Support/Reinforcing – In a general support/reinforcing relationship, the supporting unit retains its command relationship with its parent unit. It is also positioned by and has priorities of support established by its parent unit and then by the reinforced unit. It will provide support to the force as a whole and will reinforce another similar type unit. Example: An intelligence radar battery has been given a general support reinforcing role to an armor brigade. The battery stays under the command of its military intelligence battalion. It will be positioned by its battalion and provide support to the entire force. Within the written task organization, the supporting unit would have a (GSR) after it.
General Support – In a general support relationship, the supporting unit retains its command relationship with its parent unit. It is also positioned by and has priorities of support established by its parent unit. It will provide support to the force as a whole and will reinforce another similar type unit. Example: An intelligence radar battery has been given a general support role. The battery stays under the command of its military intelligence battalion. It will be positioned by its battalion and provide support to the entire force. Within the written task organization, the supporting unit would have a (GS) after it.
Below is a chart which goes into more detail on the responsibilities:
What are some of the techniques in articulating a task organization?
Based on our experience, generally the smaller the unit size the more conducive the matrix method is. This is because of several factors. First, normally it is the smaller size units which will utilize the matrix operations order method in capturing their entire order. Thus, it makes sense to use the same method in displaying the task organization for continuity sake. Second, the more complex the unit (which is usually the larger size units); the more challenging it is to use the matrix method. Consequently, the outline method is the more preferred and effective format for larger units.
Let’s provide you an example of each method and some explanation.
So how did we come up with the above in terms of order? Will it wasn’t a random act. There is a list of doctrinal rules and they are followed. In the chart below, you will find the order in which we list units in the task organization.
Order for listing units in a task organization
Additionally, per US Army doctrine, here are the rules which were followed in the task organization:
Group units by C2 headquarters. List major subordinate maneuver units first (for example, 2d HBCT; 1-77th IN; A/4-52d CAV). Place them in alphabetical or numerical order. List brigade combat teams ahead of brigades, combined arms battalions before battalions, and company teams before companies. Follow maneuver headquarters with the field artillery (for example, fires brigade after maneuver brigades), intelligence units, maneuver enhancement units, and the sustainment units.
Use a plus (+) symbol when attaching one or more subelements of a similar function to a headquarters. Use a minus symbol (–) when deleting one or more subelements of a similar function to a headquarters. Always show the symbols in parenthesis. Do not use a plus symbol when the receiving headquarters is a combined arms task force or company team. Do not use plus and minus symbols together (as when a headquarters detaches one element and receives attachment of another); use the symbol that portrays the element’s combat power with respect to other similar elements. Do not use either symbol when two units swap subelements and their combat power is unchanged. Here are some examples:
1 C Company loses one platoon to A Company; the battalion task organization will show A Co. (+) and C Co. (–).
When the effective attachment time of a nonorganic unit to another unit differs from the effective time of the plan or order, add the effective attachment time in parentheses after the attached unit—for example, 1-80 IN (OPCON 2 HBCT Ph II). List this information either in the task organization in the base order or in Annex A (Task Organization). For clarity, list subsequent command or support relationships under the task organization in parentheses following the affected unit—for example, "…on order, OPCON to 2 HBCT" is written (O/O OPCON 2 HBCT).
Give the numerical designations of units in Arabic numerals, even if shown as Roman numbers in graphics—for example, show X Corps as 10th Corps.
During multinational operations, insert the country code between the numeric designation and the unit name—for example, show 3rd German Corps as 3d (GE) Corps. (FM 1-02 contains authorized country codes.)
Use abbreviated designations for organic units. Use the full designation for nonorganic units—for example, 1-52 FA (MLRS) (GS) rather than 1-52 FA. Specify a unit’s command or support relationship only if it differs from that of its higher headquarters.
For unit designation at theater army level, list major subordinate maneuver units first, placing them in alphabetical or numerical order, followed by fires, intelligence, maneuver enhancement, sustainment, and any units under the C2 of the force headquarters. For each function following maneuver, list headquarters in the order of commands, groups, brigades, squadrons, and detachments.
You dedicated readers out there remember our article on the matrix order several months. http://www.armchairgeneral.com/tactics-101-066-the-matrix-operations-order.htm
Above you will find a template for articulating your task organization. As highlighted earlier, the matrix format is best served for smaller units. In the matrix format, you place your major subordinate units on the top row. If this is a battalion task organization, then you will utilize your subordinate companies. Underneath each of the companies, you will identify the subordinate units under them. As in the outline method, we will also identify any of the particulars such as the command and support relationships. Once again, since this method is generally utilized for smaller units; you should not see much complexity here.
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