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BUILDING AN ENGAGEMENT AREA

 

BY

 

GRIZZLY 12 DELTA, SFC BENJAMIN P. McMILLEN

GRIZZLY 12 ALPHA, SFC RODNEY J. MANSON

GRIZZLY 12 BRAVO, SFC JOSEPH N. MORTON

GRIZZLY 12 CHARLIE, SFC TERRY E. BRADLEY

 

Introduction:

 

Definition of an engagement area:The engagement area is where the commander intends to trap and destroy an enemy force using the massed fires of all available weapons. The success of any engagement depends on how effectively the commander can integrate the obstacle plan, the indirect fire plan, and the direct fire plan within the engagement area to achieve the company teamís tactical purpose.

 

Seven steps of EA development:

 

Identify all likely enemy avenues of approach.

Determine likely enemy schemes of maneuver.

Determine where to kill the enemy.

Plan and integrate obstacles.

Emplace weapon systems.

Plan and integrate indirect fires.

Rehearse the execution of operations in the engagement area.

 

 

Identify likely enemy avenues of approach.

 

  • Conduct initial reconnaissance. If possible, do this from the enemyís perspective along each avenue of approach into the sector or engagement area.
  • Identify key and/or decisive terrain. This includes locations that afford positions of advantage over the enemy as well as natural obstacles and/or choke points that restrict forward movement.
  • Determine which avenues will afford cover and concealment for the enemy while allowing him to maintain his tempo.
  • Evaluate lateral routes adjoining each avenue of approach.

 

Determine the enemy scheme of maneuver.

  • Determine how the enemy will structure the attack. Will he use two MRBs forward and one back? Will the attack be led by an FSE, an advance guard, or a forward detachment?
  • Determine how the enemy will use his reconnaissance assets. Will he attempt to infiltrate friendly positions?
  • Determine where and when the enemy will change formations and/or establish support by fire positions.
  • Determine where, when, and how the enemy will conduct his assault and/or breaching operations.
  • Determine where and when he will commit follow-on forces.
  • Determine the enemyís expected rates of movement.
  • Assess the effects of his combat multipliers.
  • Determine what reactions the enemy is likely to have in response to projected friendly actions.

 

Determine where to kill the enemy.

 

  • Identify TRPs that match the enemyís scheme of maneuver, allowing the company team to identify where it will engage enemy forces through the depth of the sector.
  • Identify and record the exact location of each TRP.
  • Determine how many weapon systems will focus fires on each TRP to achieve the desired end state.
  • Determine which platoons will mass fires on each TRP.
  • Establish engagement areas around TRPs.
  • Develop the direct fire planning measures necessary to focus fires at each TRP.
  • In marking TRPs, use thermal sights to ensure visibility at the appropriate range under varying conditions, including daylight and limited visibility (darkness, smoke, dust, or other obscurants).

 

Plan and integrate obstacles.

 

  • In cooperation with the engineer platoon leader, identify, site, and mark task force tactical obstacles and team protective obstacles.
  • Ensure coverage of all obstacles with direct fires.
  • Assign responsibility for guides and lane closure as required.

 

Emplace weapon systems.

 

  • Select tentative platoon BPs.
  • When possible, select these while moving in the engagement area. Using the enemyís perspective enables the commander to assess survivability of the positions.)
  • Conduct a leaderís reconnaissance of the tentative BPs.
  • Drive the engagement area to confirm that selected positions are tactically advantageous.
  • Confirm and mark the selected BPs.
  • Ensure that BPs do not conflict with those of adjacent units and that they are effectively tied in with adjacent positions.
  • Select primary, alternate, and supplementary fighting positions to achieve the desire effect for each TRP.
  • Ensure that platoon leaders, PSGs, vehicle commanders, and/or dismounted infantry squad leaders position weapon systems so that each TRP is effectively covered by the required number of weapons, vehicles, and/or platoons.
  • Ensure that positions allow vehicle commanders, loaders, and/or gunners (as applicable for each vehicle) to observe the engagement area from the turret-down position and engage enemy forces from the hull-down position.
  • Stake vehicle positions in accordance with unit SOP so engineers can dig in the positions while vehicle crews perform other tasks.
  • Proof all vehicle positions.

 

Plan and integrate indirect fires.

 

  • Determine the purpose of fires.
  • Determine where that purpose will best be achieved.
  • Establish the observation plan, with redundancy for each target. Observers will include the FIST, as well as members of maneuver elements with fire support responsibilities (such as PSGs).
  • Establish triggers based on enemy movement rates.
  • Obtain accurate target locations using survey and/or navigational equipment.
  • Refine target locations to ensure coverage of obstacles.
  • Adjust artillery and mortar targets.
  • Plan FPF.
  • Request CFZs for protection of maneuver elements and NFAs for protection of OPs and forward positions.

 

Conduct an engagement area rehearsal.

 

The purpose of this rehearsal is to ensure that every leader and soldier understands the plan and that elements are prepared to cover their assigned areas with direct and indirect fires. Although the company team commander has several options, the most common and most effective type is the mounted rehearsal. One technique for the mounted rehearsal in the defense is to have the company team trains, under the control of the team XO, move through the engagement area to depict the enemy force while the commander and subordinate platoons rehearse the battle from the team BP. The rehearsal should cover these actions:

  • Rearward passage of security forces (as required).
  • Closure of lanes (as required).
  • Movement from the hide position to the BP.
  • Use of fire commands, triggers, and/or MELs to initiate direct and indirect fires.
  • Shifting of fires to refocus and redistribute fire effects.
  • Preparation and transmission of critical reports using FM and digital systems (as applicable).
  • Assessment of the effects of enemy weapon systems.
  • Displacement to alternate, supplementary, or successive BPs.
  • Cross leveling or resupply of Class V.
  • Evacuation of casualties.

 

NOTE: The company team commander should coordinate the team rehearsal with the task force to ensure other unitsí rehearsals are not planned for the same time and/or location. Coordination will lead to more efficient use of planning and preparation time for all task force units. It will also eliminate the danger of misidentification of friendly forces in the rehearsal area, which could result in fratricide.

 

CMTC Trends:

Identify all likely enemy avenues of approach.

 

  • Units donít conduct initial ground reconnaissance from the enemyís prospective; they rely solely on map reconnaissance and past CMTC experiences.
  • The Maneuverability of the BMP is always underestimated, ie majority of the defensive missions, the BMP maneuvers around the flanks bypassing the EA.

 

Determine likely enemy schemes of maneuver.

 

  • Units do not discuss where the enemy is going to transition from movement to maneuver.

 

Determine where to kill the enemy.

 

  • TRPís are not used correctly and are normally last items emplaced in the defense.
  • TRPís are normally used to check the block and not used to mass or control fires.

 

Plan and integrate obstacles.

 

  • Obstacle plan is not disseminated and understood throughout the TF ie: purpose of obstacles are not understood by the Plts., location of obstacles and who has responsibility to sight in the obstacle, normally the XO is not involved with controlling the engineer effort in EA preparation.
  • UNITS DO NOT OVERWATCH OBSTACLES AT CMTC.

 

Emplace weapon systems.

 

  • Platoon leader and vehicle commanderís waste to much time selecting BPíS due to the fact that vehicle positions are normally the first thing put in and the plan is not understood by the platoon leader of where the unit intends to kill the enemy.
  • Units normally do not fight from dug-in BPíS; and if they do the positions are not to standard.
  • Units do not place a lot of emphasis on alternate, supplementary, or hide positions and do not understand how or when to use these positions.

 

Plan and integrate indirect fires.

 

  • Normally units do not refine targets after EA has been developed

 

Rehearse the execution of operations in the engagement area.

 

  • The enemy combat multipliers (INDIRECT FIRES, AIR ASSETS, SMOKE, NBC) are not usually a consideration during the rehearsals, which results in confusion when contact is made with the enemy
  • Rehearsals are not conducted to standards due to time management
  • Routes are not rehearsed from platoon BPís to company CCPís and from company CCPís to FAST or MAST

 

 

Conclusion: Units do not place enough emphasis on time management, which results in platoons wasting a lot of time during EA development. The seven steps of EA development are not mutually supporting nor conducted in the proper order.