Infantry Drills

FM 3-21.8 – Chapter 7 – Section II – Sequence of Offensive Operations

Section II – Sequence of Offensive Operations

7-19.     As the platoon leader plans for an offensive mission, he generally considers the following, which apply to many, but not all, offensive operations:

– Assembly area.

– Reconnaissance.

– Movement to the line of departure.

– Maneuver.

– Deployment.

– Assault.

– Consolidation and reorganization.

Preparation in the Offense

7-20.     The friendly Infantry attacker has the advantage of choosing the time, place, and method of the engagement. Infantry units should maximize this advantage by engaging the enemy defender in a way that the he is unprepared for. Preparations for offensive operations include planning and rehearsals enabled by friendly reconnaissance operations that determine the enemy defender’s disposition, composition, strength, capabilities, and possible courses of action. Friendly Infantry units then use this knowledge to develop their own courses of action.

ASSEMBLY AREA

7-21.     The assembly area (AA) is the area a unit occupies to prepare for an operation. To prepare the platoon for the upcoming battle, the platoon leader plans, directs, and supervises mission preparations in the assembly area. This time allows the platoon to conduct precombat checks and inspections, rehearsals, and sustainment activities. The platoon will typically conduct these preparations within a company assembly area; it will rarely occupy its own assembly area.

RECONNAISSANCE

7-22.     All leaders should aggressively seek information about the terrain and the enemy. Because the enemy situation and available planning time may limit a unit’s reconnaissance, the platoon will likely conduct reconnaissance to answer the company commander’s priority intelligence requirements (PIR). An example is reconnoitering and timing routes from the assembly area to the line of departure. The platoon may also augment the efforts of the battalion reconnaissance platoon to answer the commander’s PIR. Other forms of reconnaissance include maps, and if available, terrain software/databases. Updates from reconnaissance can occur at any time while the platoon is planning for, preparing for, or executing the mission. As a result, the leader must always be prepared to adjust his plans.

MOVEMENT TO THE LINE OF DEPARTURE

7-23.     The platoon will typically move from the AA to the line of departure as part of the company movement plan. This movement plan may direct the platoon to move to an attack position to await orders to cross the line of departure. If so, the platoon leader must reconnoiter, time, and rehearse the route to the attack position. Section and squad leaders must know where they are to locate within the assigned attack position, which is the last position an attacking element occupies or passes through before crossing the line of departure. The company commander may order all of the platoons to move within a company formation from the assembly area directly to the point of departure at the line of departure. The point of departure is the point where the unit crosses the line of departure and begins moving along a direction of attack or axis of advance. If one point of departure is used, it is important that both the lead platoon and trail platoons reconnoiter, time, and rehearse the route to it. This allows the company commander to maintain synchronization. To maintain flexibility and to further maintain synchronization, he may also designate a point of departure along the line of departure for each platoon.

MANEUVER

7-24.     The company commander will plan the approach of all platoons to the objective to ensure synchronization, security, speed, and flexibility. He will select the platoons’ routes, movement techniques, formations, and methods of movement to best support his intent for actions on the objective. The platoon leader must recognize this portion of the battle as a fight, not as a movement. He must be prepared to make contact with the enemy. (For a detailed discussion of actions on contact, refer to Chapter 1, paragraph 1-160, and Chapter 3, Section V.) He must plan accordingly to reinforce the commander’s needs for synchronization, security, speed, and flexibility. During execution, he may display disciplined initiative and alter his platoon’s formation, technique, or speed to maintain synchronization with the other platoons and flexibility for the company commander.

DEPLOYMENT

7-25.     As the platoon deploys and moves toward the assault position, it minimizes delay and confusion by beginning the final positioning of the squads as directed by the company commander. An assault position is the last covered and concealed position short of the objective from which final preparations are made to assault the objective. This tactical positioning allows the platoon to move in the best tactical posture through the assault position into the attack. Movement should be as rapid as the terrain, unit mobility, and enemy situation permit. A common control measure used in or just beyond the assault position is the probable line of deployment (PLD), which is used most often under conditions of limited visibility. The probable line of deployment is a phase line the company commander designates as a location where he intends to completely deploy his unit into the assault formation before beginning the assault.

ASSAULT

7-26.     During an offensive operation, the platoon’s objective may be terrain-oriented or force-oriented. Terrain-oriented objectives may require the platoon to seize a designated area and often require fighting through enemy forces. If the objective is force-oriented, an objective may be assigned for orientation, while the platoon’s efforts are focused on the enemy’s actual location. Actions on the objective begin when the company or platoon begins placing direct and indirect fires on the objective. This may occur while the platoon is still moving toward the objective from the assault position or probable line of deployment.

CONSOLIDATION AND REORGANIZATION

7-27.     The platoon consolidates and reorganizes as required by the situation and mission. Consolidation is the process of organizing and strengthening a newly captured position so it can be defended. Reorganization is the actions taken to shift internal resources within a degraded unit to increase its level of combat effectiveness. Reorganization actions can include, cross-leveling ammunition, ensuring key weapons systems are manned, and ensuring key leadership positions are filled if the operators/crew become casualties. The platoon executes follow-on missions as directed by the company commander. A likely mission may be to continue the attack against the enemy within the area of operations. Regardless of the situation, the platoon must posture itself and prepare for continued offensive operations. Table 7-1 contains common consolidation and reorganization activities.

Table 7-1. Consolidation and reorganization activities.

Consolidation Activities

Reorganization Activities

·       Security measures include—

§       Establishing 360-degree local security.

§       Using security patrols.

§       Using observation posts/outposts.

§       Emplacing early warning devices.

§       Establishing and registering final protective fires.

§       Seeking out and eliminating enemy resistance (on and off the objective).

·       Automatic weapons (man, position, and assign principal directions of fire [PDFs] to Soldiers manning automatic weapons).

·       Fields of fire (establish sectors of fire and other direct fire control measures for each subunit/Soldier).

·       Entrenchment (provide guidance on protection requirements such as digging/building fighting positions).

·      Reestablishing the chain of command.

·      Manning key weapon systems.

·      Maintaining communications and reports, to include—

§       Restoring communication with any unit temporarily out of communication.

§       Sending unit situation report.

§       Sending SITREPs (at a minimum, subordinates report status of mission accomplishment).

§       Identifying and requesting resupply of critical shortages.

·      Resupplying and redistributing ammunition and other critical supplies.

·      Performing special team actions such as—

§       Consolidating and evacuating casualties, EPWs, enemy weapons, noncombatants/ refugees, and damaged equipment (not necessarily in the same location).

§       Treating and evacuating wounded personnel.

§       Evacuating friendly KIA.

§       Treating and processing EPWs.

§       Segregating and safeguarding noncombatants/ refugees.

§       Searching and marking positions to indicate to other friendly forces that they have been cleared.

 


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