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Tactics 101 081 – The Assembly AreaBy Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland | Tactics101|War College | Published: February 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm
THE ASSEMBLY AREA
‚ÄúOne of the greatest difficulties in war is to have the men inured to marching‚Ä¶ The rapidity of a march, or rather skilled marches, almost always determines the success of a war‚Ä¶ It is the power of marching which constitutes the strength of infantry; and enterprises which seem to present difficulties, become comparatively easy by the advantages accruing from rapid marches.‚ÄĚ
Marshal of France Michel Ney ‚Äď 1834
Definition ‚Äď In simplest terms, it is an area where a unit assembles itself to prepare for future operations.¬† This occupation may be relatively short-lived or could be for an extended amount of time.¬† There are three critical pieces to an assembly area.¬† First, is the ability of a unit to smoothly occupy an assembly area.¬† Second, is how effectively a unit takes advantage of the time it occupies the assembly area.¬† Finally, is the ability of a unit to depart an assembly area and position it to maneuver to its objective.
Selecting an Assembly Area
‚ÄĘ¬†¬† ¬†Sufficient Space.¬† An assembly area must have enough terrain to take in the personnel, vehicles, and equipment of the unit.¬† You also would like to disperse vehicles as much as possible for security reasons. In regards to space, you must consider the space required for your logistical assets.
Not the Best Location for an Assembly Area!
‚ÄĘ¬†¬† ¬†Good Internal Transportation.¬† Inside an assembly area, there should exist the ability for vehicles to move around.¬† This assists in logistical operations, defending one‚Äôs self, and command and control.
Organization of an Assembly Area
Many assembly areas are normally set-up as 360 degree positions.¬† Within the 360, subordinate units are assigned pieces of the 360.¬† In the above example, you will see a battalion task force in an assembly area.¬† The battalion has located its scouts forward in the direction they will ultimately maneuver to or the anticipated direction of the enemy.¬† Outside the perimeter, the battalion has positioned Observation Posts (OPs) for security.¬† The battalion has apportioned the assembly area into designated areas for each of their subordinate units.¬† The line companies are positioned on the outside.¬† Inside the perimeter, they have located the headquarters element, combat trains, mortars, and anti-armor elements.¬† This is a pretty basic structure.¬† Below we will illustrate how a company might occupy the above area they were assigned.
A company may decide to organize into their own 360.¬† If the frontage assigned to a company is fairly minimal, this is certainly a viable option.¬† Terrain may also dictate this option.
Another option for the company is to orient the entire force in one direction.¬† In the above diagram, you see the line platoons in a staggered front.¬† The dispersion between vehicles will be dictated by the tactical situation.¬† Below the line companies will be positioned the other elements of the company.
The Role of the Quartering Party
To Breach or Not to Breach?
‚ÄĘ¬†¬† ¬†Depending on how long the unit will occupy the assembly area; a commander may give the quartering party additional tasks to perform.¬† This could include things such as build a rehearsal site; make range cards and sector sketches for the weapon systems coming into the assembly area, emplacing hasty obstacles, etc‚Ä¶
Guides are Crucial from the Release Point to the Assembly Area
From the Release Point to the Assembly Area
A Layout for a Traditional Company Assembly Area
Actions in the Assembly Area
o¬†¬† ¬†Emplacing Observation Posts (OPs) in or around the assembly area.
Security is Paramount
‚ÄĘ¬†¬† ¬†One of the most critical activities in an assembly area is getting the unit right logistically.¬† This includes things such as refueling vehicles, ammunition resupply, distributing vehicles parts, resupply of food and water, etc‚Ä¶ If resupply of ammo, food, and water are not readily available, a unit may need to redistribute these items amongst its subordinate units.
Improve your Positions in an Assembly Area if Time Permits
‚ÄĘ¬†¬† ¬†Although there is much to do, smart units will be able to implement a rest plan in the assembly area. In many cases, this may be the last chance to get some sleep before taking part in a physically and mentally exhausting operation.
Camouflage and Communications
‚ÄĘ¬†¬† ¬†Anytime vehicles are anticipated to be idle for a period of time, camouflage is necessary.¬† If vehicle camo nets are available they should be erected.
Getting out of The Assembly Area
A unit must plan and rehearse getting out of the assembly area.¬† It must be a synchronized movement out of the assembly area.¬† Chaos ensues when everyone moves out of their positions at once.¬† One of the best ways to do this is to select a piece of terrain outside the assembly area where units can move to.¬† Here they can get into the maneuver formation they will utilize maneuvering to their objective.
For an example, let‚Äôs use a battalion task force utilizing a diamond formation for the attack.¬† Please refer to the diagram below to add a bit of clarity:
1.¬†¬† ¬†Scouts will move out first from the assembly area to provide some security and early warning for the task force.
As you can see, this can be a challenging operation in itself.¬† Throw in things such as restrictive terrain and limited visibility and it gets a little tougher.¬† However, good command and control, disciplined and trained units, and flexibility of mind and action can make this a pretty basic operation.¬† Again, you can see that if chaos is allowed to rear its‚Äô ugly head; a unit may be hard-pressed to get back on track to succeed in its upcoming mission.
There are a few other things that must be addressed in the departure of an assembly area.¬† First, before a subordinate unit moves out of the assembly area they must account for equipment, sensitive items, and personnel.¬† The personnel reference may strike some of you as odd.¬† However, we have witnessed several instances where a soldier was somehow left behind in an assembly area.¬† This of course is an indicator of more serious issues within a unit.¬† Second, a unit must ‚Äúsanitize‚ÄĚ the assembly area as they depart.¬† This is not to say it should be left in the same condition as when you entered.¬† Obviously, an area occupied by perhaps a battalion and its‚Äô complement of vehicles will leave a mark.¬† However, what we are saying is that you do not leave behind any items/papers/graphics that can compromise the unit and its operations.¬† As always, Operational Security (OPSEC) is a twenty four hours a day task.
OPSEC (Need We Say More ‚Äď Oh We Can‚Äôt Say More)
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