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Posted on Oct 15, 2008 in Tactics101, War College

Tactics 101 031 – The Engagement Area

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

“Even in a defensive position awaiting the enemy assault, our bullets take the offensive. So the defensive form of war is not a simple shield, but a shield made up of well-directed blows.”
Carl von Clausewitz

In our last article, we provided a general overview of the defense. Our focus was in four main areas. First, we discussed the various reasons why a unit would conduct a defense. Second, we outlined the three types of the defense – area, mobile and retrograde. Third, we highlighted some key characteristics of the defense, which if adhered to will greatly assist in mission accomplishment. These characteristics were preparation, security, massing effects, disruption, and flexibility. Finally, we set the conditions for future articles by defining some key terms pertaining to the defense and displaying some graphical control measures principally utilized in the defense.


With a basic groundwork set, we can now get into more detailed discussion and analysis. We will begin with a vital piece of most defenses – the engagement area (EA). Our discussion will focus on the following areas: 1) What is an engagement area? 2) Why is it important? 3) What is the Commander’s thought process in planning an engagement area? 4) What are the steps in building an engagement area? 5) What are the keys to success in building an engagement area and ultimately achieving success?

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  1. mr sutherland please drop me aline. been waiting for some time now.

  2. This is serious work. Why is it made so difficult to follow it? As far as I can tell…one must tediously seek articles in this series by paging through all the stuff in the college page by page?

    Surely there must be a better way?

    Mike In Phoenix

    • Mike, on the ACG home page type “Tactics 101” in the search box; be sure you enclose Tactics 101 in quotation marks. That will bring up links to each article in the series.

      • TY, GDS,

        Will do…have the folks at AG considered adding the wikibook function? Might be outstanding.