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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 look at three key areas when planning for engineers:

Counter-mobility: those actions we will take to influence enemy movement by turning, blocking, fixing, or disrupting his advance
Survivability: those actions we will take to protect our force like digging fighting positions and trenches
Mobility: those actions we take to ensure our own freedom of movement such as leaving gaps in obstacles for the rearward passage of forward units or the forward passage of our reserve

For these tasks we have: wire, mines (AT and AP), tank ditches, dummy obstacles, prepared demolitions, abbatis, and more.

The engineers have a lot to do so we must prioritize their efforts and manage their time. We use obstacle intent graphics in order to show how we want to influence the enemy’s advance. The engineer translates these graphics into actual obstacles. Blocking obstacles are more intense, time consuming, and difficult to prepare. It’s probably best to employ them sparingly and on small AOA’s that the enemy would just as soon not use anyway.

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You can see how the transformation of concept into an obstacle plan works. The symbols actually lay out the general pattern for the obstacle network. Our symbology is important.

When we want the enemy to go a given direction, it’s good not to block it. This is a common mistake; to fill the EA with obstacles that leads the enemy to bypass it. It’s best to create an obstacle that offers a way around. This is how you induce the enemy to follow it and end up in your engagement area.

The obstacles should also be built in depth and should reinforce existing obstacles. Another common error is to commit only to the primary engagement area. What if the enemy penetrates the forward EA? We need obstacles and EA’s in depth.

In this example, we shut down the western AOA, a route the enemy would probably be reluctant to take in the first place. Anything that comes in the west is nudged to the east where the AOA’s converge and where we would like to do the bulk of our killing. The guys in the east are pushed off the road and we try to bunch him up north of the river and off of the bridge. We have prepared, but not executed demo on the bridges. We can either drop the bridges early or allow a portion of the enemy to cross, and then blow it in order to divide his forces. This is a risky option in that the enemy would be foolish not to have engineers recon this target for wires / demo’.

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The obstacle plan is not of much use if it isn’t covered by direct and indirect fires. The idea is to place the enemy on the horns of a dilemma which means he cannot effectively counter one effect without exposing himself to another. If the enemy bypasses an obstacle, he gets shot in the flank by direct fire. If he stops to breach, he gets pounded by artillery. His C2 disintegrates and we pick him apart.

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