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Posted on Mar 28, 2008 in Tactics101, War College

Tactics 101: 025. Urban Operations: Truisms and Nuggets

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Support Element – As the name suggests, a support element is assigned a mission enabling the assault element to accomplish its objective. Certainly, these missions can be extremely varied. These could include:

• Suppressing (direct and indirect fires) enemy forces that could hinder the assault force mission.

• Seizing terrain that will assist the assault element in accomplishing its mission.

• Isolating the assault element’s objective area to prevent the enemy from withdrawing, counterattacking, or reinforcing its forces.

• If there is not a breaching element, conduct breaching operations.

• Providing resupply of essential supplies, ammunition or personnel to the assault element, if required.


• Evacuating causalities of the assault element.

• Ensuring civilians on the battlefield do not hinder the assault element’s ability to accomplish its mission. This includes looking out for their safety.

• Taking control of enemy prisoners of war collected by the assault element.

Security Element – Depending on the mission and your capabilities, you may designate a security element. The security element can assist in isolating the objective area or secure command and control and logistical elements.

Breaching Element – At the company level, breaching operations are normally conducted by the assault element or by your support element. However, at the battalion level you may have the resources and need to designate a breaching element. A commander may allocate a breaching element to ensure the assault element can focus on the objective area. Thus, a breaching element will breach obstacles that enable the assault element to maneuver unhindered to the objective area. As expected, your breaching element will likely be comprised of engineer assets.

Reserve – If at all possible, you as a commander want to possess a reserve. You want a reserve to exploit success or to assist you if you are having difficulty to accomplishing your mission. Because of the nature of fighting in the urban environment, personnel are at a premium. Consequently, it may be a challenge to set aside a reserve. At the battalion level, you may detach a platoon from one of the subordinate companies. Again, a reserve at the company may be difficult, but a squad is the norm. As in any reserve, the force must be responsive and lethal enough to accomplish its purposes and tasks. In the urban fight, a reserve will be positioned as close as possible to the fight to aid in this responsiveness. Again, task organization is all based on your mission and your capabilities. Below is a simple battalion task forcetask organization chart. We have placed the element designations under each particular diagram.

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