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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

4. Plan and Integrate your Obstacles. With the engagement area defined and TRPs set, it is now time to formulate your obstacle plan. The development of this plan is critical to future success. Without well-planned and prepared obstacles, the potential effects of all fires are greatly diminished.

As discussed above, the commander already has a pretty good idea where he wants to emplace his obstacles after his analysis and recon. Now he needs to lock it in fairly quickly. The best way to do this is for a commander at any level and his head engineer to mind-meld. During this session, the following should be discussed between the two:

  • The overall intent of obstacles in the Engagement Area
  • The intent of specific obstacles in the Engagement Area
  • The planned location of obstacles
  • The target of the obstacles
  • The tie-in between the obstacle and indirect/direct fires

For his part, the engineer must be honest with the commander and tell him what can be done and what can’t be accomplished. The two of them must work a priority list because in most cases what the commander wants put-in is probably unachievable. With the above worked out, the engineer should begin to site and mark obstacles as soon as possible. This will greatly assist in emplacing weapon systems and conducting indirect fire planning. We will spend next month’s article discussing obstacle use in the defense.



5. Emplace your Direct Fire Weapon Systems. All the other stuff is great, but if you can’t put accurate steel on target within the engagement area it is going to be a long day! There are many things a leader must do to assist in accomplishing this. These actions include:

  • Understand your purpose and task and those of adjacent units
  • Understand the capabilities and limitations of all your weapon systems
  • Understand the enemy you are facing including: equipment, purpose/task, anticipated formation into your engagement, number of vehicles you will face, rate of maneuver, options, etc…
  • The intent of obstacles in your Engagement Area
  • TRPs designated

After this understanding, the leader can now begin the process of emplacing his weapon systems. Here is a possible sequence for use:

1) Early Planning. As soon as you conduct a mission analysis, a quick sketch of potential positions for weapon systems is a wise idea. This will assist you in making the most of the future leader’s reconnaissance. Will these positions change once you get on the actual ground – sure they will. However, this a good start point.

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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.