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Posted on Aug 11, 2007 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 018 – River Crossing Operations

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Key Command and Control Elements:

Command and control during a river crossing is essential. There are many moving pieces and they take place at several different areas. Below you will find quick snapshots on the main players.

Crossing Force Commander (CFC) – Usually the second in charge of a unit. The CFC has overall responsibility for the operation

Crossing Force Engineer (CFE) – As the name suggests, this is usually the most high-ranking engineer involved in the operation. This individual assists the CFC and coordinates the engineer support associated with the crossing.

Crossing Area Commander (CAC) – This leader controls the movement of all forces inside the crossing area. This responsibility includes positioning all elements in the area, placing security forces at the crossing sites, and taking charge of all the maneuver support forces (engineers, military police, etc.) that are located at the crossing area.


Crossing Area Engineer (CAE) – This engineer is responsible to the CAC for all engineer operations within the crossing area. If it is engineer related within the crossing area, the CAE is the one on the hook.

Crossing Site Commander (CSC) – This is usually an engineer company commander or platoon leader, who facilitates all the actions at a crossing site. He keeps the CAE informed of what is taking place at a crossing site. The CAE then informs the CAC.


Force Organization:

Assault Forces – These forces seize the far-shore objective and eliminate enemy direct fires on crossing sites.

Maneuver Support Force – These forces provide the assets that enable the crossing, provide traffic control, and control the obscuration utilized during the crossing.

Bridgehead Force – These forces maneuver from the far-shore objective (seized by the assault forces) to the bridgehead objective.

Breakout Force –These forces move behind the bridgehead forces. Once the bridgehead is secured, they push out from the bridgehead and continue the attack. The breakout force is normally not involved in any actions related to crossing the river.


During the planning and execution of a river crossing, we categorize the operation into 5 phases. These phases are 1) Advance to the River 2) Assault across the River 3) Advance from the Exit Bank 4) Secure Bridgehead Line and 5) Continue the Attack.


(click for a larger image)

Let’s go into detail on each phase and how they complement one another. We will discuss the key actions that take place in each phase and how the battlefield operating systems contribute to success.

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