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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 already have the direct fires covered. We now have to wire the indirect in terms of our mortars and field artillery (FA). We decide where we want to suppress, disrupt, or destroy the enemy. The latter goal is the hardest to accomplish and requires huge amounts of ammunition. We suppress and disrupt secondary routes and focus destruction in the selected kill zone.

We mass our indirect fires in order to compliment the direct fires and the obstacles. We select targets (a single point of aim), target groups (2 or more targets), and final protective fires (FPF – a protective sheath near our defensive position that prevents us from being over-run). We also consider smoke and the family of scatter able mines (FASCAM).

Remember that mortar smoke tends to be better than FA smoke and the weather greatly impacts on the performance of smoke. We also have to remember that it take a long time to emplace a pre-planned FASCAM and even longer to emplace an ad hoc one. If we decide to finesse it and fire it in the enemy’s path we are likely to miss if we misjudge his rate if advance. We also have to plan for the loss of our FA afterward since they will be forced to do a survivability jump in order to evade counter fire. We prefer pre-placement of FASCAM and I like to use it to seed other obstacles such as ditches thus making them more difficult to breach.

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We now come to the less sexy part of combat multipliers, logistics aka the ball and chain of modern warfare. It’s been said that tactics is for amateurs and logistics is for masters. At the level of this problem this may be overblown, but at the operational level this is a truism. In short, screw this up and you put your entire mission in jeopardy.

We must figure out how supplies are going to flow in and out of your forward position. To do this we select a main supply route (MSR). Not depicted above are two other log routes; the alternate supply route (ASR) and the dirty supply route for use by chemically contaminated equipment and personnel (DSR).

We also determine how we will distribute our critical classes of supply: water, class 1 (food), class 3 (fuel), and class 5 (ammunition). We plan caches and resupply points where these critical supplies can be picked up.

We also must plan for how we will treat and move casualties. At the training centers, the most common cause of death (hypothetical of course) is died of wounds brought about by bleeding to death. This is because commanders in training neglect casualty collection and evacuation. We must establish casualty collection points (CCP) where our medics will be positioned and we must select evacuation routes. The entire unit must know where they are and must rehearse them day and night or soldiers will die.

We also must determine what ammunition and barrier material we want to “stash” in the defense to facilitate quick re-supply. These stashes are called Caches.

Lastly we have to plan for areas where we can collect damaged vehicles for repair forward or evac back to the battalion trains. Each vehicle is combat power so you can’t neglect this. These are called maintenance collection points or MCP’s. We augment the log plan with lots of checkpoints that can be used to aid navigation.

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Each of these plans requires a separate map overlay, but all must be consolidated into the final, comprehensive plan. It might look something like the plan above although this plan is nowhere near complete. It is a pretty good exemplar and would probably be sufficient for a defense given on short notice.

Combat multipliers rarely win a battle or engagement, but they certainly can lose one. Each system must be employed in a mutually reinforcing and complimentary manner in order to enhance the scheme of maneuver. The commander cannot afford to give short shrift to any of these systems.

We hope this has been a good review and taken you to the next step in utilizing combat multipliers. In our next article, we will focus on the planning, preparation, and execution of the reserve. If you have any comments or questions, please visit with us on the forum.

Remember that failing to plan is planning to fail.

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