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

Tactics 101: 008. A review of combat multipliers and other concepts

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

A good rule of thumb is to look at areas where AOA’s converge. Assess the AOA’s that best accommodate the bulk of the enemy’s combat power while providing a reasonable path to their perceived objective. The AOA should allow them to approximate their preferred formations and rate of march although restrictive alternatives must never be ignored. We are simply looking at where we’d go if we were him. We also consider choke points and cross compartments between AOA’s.

In this case, the enemy is mechanized. The AOA in the Northeast favors the bulk of these types of forces. The lines of drift are from the Northwest to the Southeast with significant water obstacles in the west, a true impediment to armor. There is also a river to cross and no obvious ford sites. The generally poor AOA’s in the west are not without value when we consider enemy recon and dismounted infantry infiltration.


There are lateral AOA’s, but it would seem that they would feed a general movement to the east. There are two flank AOA’s to consider as well. It would seem that there are three areas where enemy forces converge or are forced to mass. We should consider building an engagement area around these.

We now know the physical layout of the area. We see enemy options for entry and penetration. We also know where we would like to get him to go and where it seems we can mass effects on him. All this is well and good, but we must make sure we are in position to confirm or deny what we think might happen. We have to see him coming.


We must consider our first combat multiplier; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). At company level, ISR boils down to battalion scouts, our patrols and our listening posts / observation posts (LP/OP), and perhaps a ground surveillance radar (GSR). The question is; how can we tell what the enemy is doing?

We have to consider where we have to be in order to see the enemy’s approach and ascertain his intent. Seeing the enemy 30km out is interesting, but useless. It would be much better to see him 10km out or see him go through a key pass or intersection. What we’re looking for is his telegraphing of intent.

We also have to consider his recon. We must decide what we want him to see and what we want to deny him from seeing. If we block all his recon we won’t have done much to help our cause. We want to tell his recon a story that lures him down the path where we intend to nail him. Often this is his best route to begin with, the one he would like to choose. If we can show apparent weakness there, we can draw him in. We can also show strength on the restricted AOA’s where he is already reluctant to go thus further inducing him to come “our way”.

Our recon / counter recon compliments one another. Recon provides early warning and counter recon leads him down our chosen path. We leverage these efforts by:

• Conducting false preparation and showing tanks where we don’t want him to go, moving them later to where we expect / want him to go
• By staying out of holes until after he’s on the move. Recon tends to look at vehicles which can move while ignoring holes which cannot. The latter are a far more accurate indicator of the defenders intent. In the diagram above we have woven scouts and OPS into a tentative recon / counter recon plan.


Building on everything we’ve done up to this point, lets array our direct fire maneuver systems. By the way, we revise and revisit our plans throughout the entire process. For example, we may re-shuffle the recon / counter recon deck once we complete this step. However, remember it is key to get the ISR in place quickly. Failing to do so is to begin prep without eyes and early warning.

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1 Comment

  1. The wayback machine had a limit amount of captures of the old articles. But it seems that the articles been translated to chinese language together with the pictures. You can make a backup of the broken pictures and reupload the article with this pictures.