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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

We’ll use our AOA / Kill Zone analysis to determine where we want to mass fires in order to get steel on target. The goal is to design an engagement area where the enemy will be trapped and killed. As a rule of thumb we want 2/3rds of our direct fire to be able to hit anywhere in the box. We cover gaps and seams with artillery and build obstacles that invite the enemy to go the way we want them to go.

The method for this is the circular weapons positioning technique. Circle the area where we want the enemy to die; then map out circles emanating from it. These circles represent the ranges of our major weapons systems; 1km for small arms, 2km for tank main gun, HMG’s and shoulder fired AT, and 3km for TOW’s. We use these “trigger lines” to estimate where systems can be placed relative to where we want them to fire. If there is no suitable ground for the systems; then we have to move the engagement area. It is not uncommon for commanders who don’t use this technique to dig in their positions only to realize that they cannot range the kill zone from where they are.

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All this is done on the map, but is verified on the ground. A good commander will rehearse the EA before he constructs it. This ensures he can see and hit where he thinks he can.

Lastly, we’ll determine a tentative course of action for the employment of the reserve; to reinforce success, to delay culmination, or to prevent failure. This is the basic maneuver and direct fire construct. We can layer our combat multipliers on top of this.

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In a world where US ground forces haven’t had to fear enemy airpower since 1945, air defense seems irrelevant. It’s not. The moment you neglect an enemy capability is the moment it will rise up and bite you in the rear.

We begin by going back to our air AOA’s. We consider the fixed wing approach which tends to follow obvious landmarks to aid in high speed navigation. Fast movers often use IFR (I Follow Roads) and use buildings, bridges, and major hydrology as a guide. Fixed wing assets typically support the main attack. They also may be dedicated to finding and killing command posts, artillery positions, maintenance facilities, supply routes, and reserves. These are normally allocated dedicated air defense.

Rotary wing assets tend to fly lower to escape HIMAD systems and favor contours and terrain that can mask their movement. They may come in as part of close support to the main attack or they may come early to insert DRT’s of small infantry units that will disrupt the rear areas. Thus, we must also look for landing zones (LZ) and drop zones (DZ) in conjunction with these assets if they are part of the enemy order of battle.

Once we figure where the air can come from, we draw our “circles of death” which represent the range of our ADA systems and we position the asset within the circle to provide coverage. Ideally, we will layer and overlap the rings and weight them with high and low altitude coverage. We cover our critical assets and counter the enemy air AOA’s.

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In the defense, the employment of our engineer capabilities is critical. This is one of our biggest “shapers”. We have to have a concept. In this case it is to get the enemy to congregate at the east end of our engagement area. We want him to get into that area, we want to hold him there, and we want massed fires to engage him there.

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