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Posted on Oct 1, 2006 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 008. A review of combat multipliers and other concepts

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

One of the first things you do when you receive your area of operations (AO) is get a grip on the battlefield physics. This is done on the map usually before you do a ground recon. Knowing the physics is the first step to understanding the environment and how it can be used by any attacker or defender. Remember that the ground doesn’t take sides. It favors he who best understands and exploits its characteristics.

The first obvious task is to capture the dimensions of your AO. How big is it; front to rear and right to left? Compare these distances to your weapons capabilities and you will come to the quick conclusion that you won’t be able to put lead in every corner of your box. You have to organize. You also have to consider how physical space accommodates enemy formations and weapons systems.

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You will have to use this space to emplace all your “stuff”; your combat trains, your medics, your maneuver, and your maintenance among others. You need a secure spot to the rear for a lot of this stuff.

You need to know who is on your right and left and what they are up to. How can enemy forces in his area influence your area? Remember that enemy unit graphics don’t necessarily align with ours!

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Now that we know the dimensions of our AO, we can begin to predict how our opponent can use it. How can the enemy approach us and what is he after?

We’ll look for all the ways the enemy can get into your AO and determine where he would be headed. The avenues of approach are judged by their size in that an avenue for troops on the ground isn’t the same as one for tanks and IFV’s. The latter are not tied to roads, but they will pay a cost for using secondary routes and trails. We have to see the enemy entry into your area, how he will move through it, and how he will go beyond towards his objective. We also must remember to assess how the flanks play into the equation as well. Avenues of approach (AOA) you consider are:

• Dismounted Infantry both for conventional attack and infiltration
• Armor and IFV on road and off road
• Recon both mounted and dismounted
• Rotary Wing for combat support and infantry / deep recon team (DRT) insertion
• Fixed wing; not tied to conventional AOA’s but usually follow landmarks for navigation

Now that we have an idea about how the enemy can get in, we can begin to array our assets in order to canalize them to where we want them to go.

Remember, this isn’t a full MDMP so we haven’t taken task and purpose into account. For this illustration suffice it to say that we want to deny the enemy access to the road network to the rear of our area.

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We don’t want to keep the enemy out of our AO. Pushing the enemy into someone else’s battle space is not the way to win. We want the enemy to come into our AO so we can lock horns with him. We need to determine where we want the enemy to die.

[continued on next page]

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