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Posted on Mar 4, 2007 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 013. Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (Pt. 2)

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

"However absorbed a commander may be in the elaboration of his own thoughts, it is sometimes necessary to take the enemy into account." Churchill

Last month, we began our look at the critical continuous process of Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB). If you remember, we first defined the process. Second, we discussed why IPB is so vital to success on the battlefield. Third, we described the four steps of the process. Finally, we took you into specific detail on the initial two steps within the process: Defining the Battlefield and Describing the Battlefield’s Effects. Hopefully, your big takeaways were that IPB demands some initial ‘nug’ work (gathering the information) and then you must take this information and transform it into analysis needed at your level. Your analysis must answer the so what.


This month we will focus our efforts on the final two steps of the process: Evaluating the Threat and Determine Threat Courses of Action. We will dissect each step and show you the key components that should be accomplished within the step. In order to provide you with some better clarity, we will provide many examples along the way. Again, we will focus on the conventional battlefield. Let’s get started!


"A general-in-chief should ask himself frequently in the day, what should I do if the enemy’s army appeared now in my front, or on my right, or on my left? If he has any difficulty in answering these questions he is ill posted, and should seek to remedy it."

Alright I know what you are thinking; when are we going to talk about our enemy? We have spent the first two steps involved with areas such as determining our area of interest and analyzing terrain and weather. In step 3, we now truly begin to dissect our foe. Within Evaluating the Threat, we will conduct two specific actions. First, we will update or create (if none exist) threat models of our enemy and second we will identify the capabilities our foe possesses. After we have completed this step, we should accomplish the following: 1) Understand what he is capable of doing and just as importantly, not capable of doing; 2) Provide us the information we need to accurately conduct step 4 of the process – Determine Threat Courses of Action; 3) Enable you to see gaps in your knowledge so you can focus your reconnaissance efforts. In other words, your work in step 3 ultimately saves you time later in the process and makes your work later much more accurate. Let’s look at the sub steps (updating/creating threat models and identifying threat capabilities

SUB STEP — Updating/Creating Threat Models

Before we get into the information we acquire and analysis we conduct in this step, we must first understand what is a threat model? In basic terms, it provides us a ‘story’ on how the enemy would like to fight in normal conditions. For you ‘cold war’ veterans, you remember the huge amounts of information we had collected on the Soviet Union. In some cases there was too much information and commanders and staffs had difficulty focusing their efforts (that is another story). However, we truly believed we knew how they wanted to fight in normal conditions. Today things may be tougher in real world or on your simulated battlefield. Yet, you can fall into the trap that it is not possible to create models on your opponent. It is obviously harder work, but it is work that must be done. In updating or creating a threat model, here are things you should do:

Order of Battle – This is basically the old wiring diagram that details the units/equipment/numbers existing in the enemy you anticipate fighting. This is a comprehensive list of weapons and equipment in the threat unit. These are normally done at 100% strength, so as attrition begins taking place you must update the order of battle. The product below is a potential order of battle that displays the organization and equipment for a threat mechanized army. Types and disposition of equipment is shown as is the aggregate number of vehicles. Before we can determine how much they can actually field, we have to know how much they could field if everything was operational. This also presents a worst case situation.


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