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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

– Establish who will observe the targets to ensure they are acted upon when required. If it is a vital target ensure you have redundant eyes observing the target.

– Establish when the targets should be fired. These are the triggers.

– Establish which assets are best suited to fire the targets. These can include internal assets (usually mortars) and external assets (artillery and air support). Again, ensure you have redundant assets firing at a target it is critical to achieving success in the engagement area.

– Again, we can’t reiterate enough — integrate indirect with direct and your obstacles. Just like in team sports, individuals working separately rarely achieve success.

7. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse. Although time is always too short in preparing a defense; some must be carved out in order to conduct rehearsals. This is truly the best way to ensure the entire unit understands the plan, what their task and purpose is and how they everything ties together in order to achieve mission accomplishment.


There are several techniques a commander can utilize in conducting a rehearsal. These include a sand table rehearsal (some of these can become pretty elaborate), map rehearsal (key leaders gather around a map), computer rehearsal (with today’s technology amazing things can now be done) or a simple radio rehearsal There are a number of factors that will determine the type of rehearsal conducted.

With that said, the most beneficial rehearsal is the mounted rehearsal. In this type of rehearsal, the unit designates a group of vehicles to move through the engagement area (portraying the enemy) while the rest of the unit mans their defensive positions. During this time, the unit the unit should rehearse key actions that the commander deems critical to future mission accomplishment. These could include:

  • Rearward passage of any security forces which may have been forward of the engagement area.
  • The closure of any obstacles in the engagement area after friendly forces pass rearward.
  • Direct and indirect fire rehearsals. This will include things such as the initiation of fires, where specific units fire their systems within an engagement area, what types of enemy vehicles do specific systems engage (for example, tanks engage tanks, etc…) when do you initiate indirect fires, when do you shift fires (both direct and indirect).
  • Movement of friendly vehicles/units within the defensive positions.
  • Logistical actions such as casualty evacuation and resupply operations.

Again, the commander decides what actions are critical to rehearse. If time is available conduct multiple rehearsals under different conditions (day, night, in protective gear, etc…).

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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.