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Posted on Nov 1, 2006 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 009. The Reserve

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland


Decision Point 7: Commit the reserve in support of 3 Bde

Enemy: The enemy attack is culminating in all sectors of the division defense. Forces north of 3 Bde are the strongest although they contain no coherent units larger than battalion level

Friendly: 1 Bde (ME) and 3 rd Bde retain their sectors and cannot shift forces in support of 3 Bde. 3 Bde has halted the enemy advance but requires reinforcement to complete their destruction in their AO


Mission: The reserve attacks to destroy enemy in the 3 Bde area in order to prevent the continuation of the attack to the south and facilitate the overall culmination of the enemy attack in the division area of operations.


Decision Point 8: Commit the reserve in support of 2 Bde

Enemy: The enemy has penetrated PL Green in the east and is threatening to break through 2 Bde defenses in depth.

Friendly: Neither 1 Bde (ME) or 3 Bde can reinforce 2 Bde due to the depth of the penetration. 2 Bde cannot reposition forces. There is no danger of penetration in any other area.

Mission: The reserve attacks to block penetration south of 2 Bde in order to prevent the bypass or envelopment of the 1 Bde (ME) from the southeast and prevent the seizure of the town or destruction of division command and control.

As you can see, there are many ways to utilize a reserve to exploit success or prevent failure. You just have to do the planning, ensure the reserve is prepared, and then the conditions for the reserve once you commit it. Easier said than done, but it is certainly achievable.

In summary, the determination of a reserve and its ultimate commitment are two of the most critical decisions a commander makes. There are too many variables on the battlefield to go into a fight without a reserve. If a commander desires flexibility and the ability to influence the battlefield, then a reserve is a must. If he decides against one, then he is taking a gamble not a risk!

Next month, we will begin discussing how to create a shared vision. In part one, we will focus on the art and science of graphics. In part two, we will key on a talking a common language. Each of these is necessary in the planning, preparation, and execution of any mission.

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