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Posted on Jun 18, 2006 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 005. The Tactical Task

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Finally, we will assign be prepared tasks for our reserve. Since we do not assign a reserve a true mission, we give them be prepared purposes and tasks to plan for. This gives the commander a flexible force he can utilize to assist him if things are not going well or to use to reinforce success. As a review, we determined earlier that the reserve could play a key role in two areas. First, to assist in ensuring the enemy does not succeed in moving from South Boundary Ridge/Whale Gap to seize Logstown. Our purpose is truly, enemy related. Using the same thought process as earlier, we believe defeat is the optimal task. Thus, if things are not going well in the engagement area, we will ask the reserve to assist other forces in defeating the enemy. This will consequently lead to achieving our purpose. The second area we are concerned about is East Range Road. If our primary unit is having difficulty achieving its purpose and task, we may ask our reserve to assist in this effort. If this is the case, we will assign them the same purpose and task.


Here’s how it looks on our sketch:


A good technique to use for clarity is to now combine the two sketches as follows:


Although it may not seem like it, we are really starting to put things together. The combination of Understanding Yourself, the Enemy, and the Terrain (mission analysis), and decisive point, purpose and task (course of action development) is powerful. Next month, we will expand these concepts by discussing main and supporting efforts and how we allocate specific resources to accomplish our purposes and tasks.

RICK BAILLERGEON is a retired U.S. Army Infantry Officer. His assignments included serving as a member of the Opposing Force and as an Observer/ Controller at the National Training Center, an assignment as a Brigade Operations Planner, two company commands (including an infantry company during Desert Shield/Desert Storm), and serving two tours as a battalion executive officer and one tour as a brigade deputy commander in infantry units. He has taught tactics at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College for six years. During his tenure, he has received many awards including being twice named Instructor of the Year. He is currently an associate professor at the College and is serving as Chief of Faculty Development in the Center for Army Tactics (as well as teaching). Mr. Baillergeon has published numerous articles in the area of tactics and dozens of military history book reviews. He additionally completed a master’s thesis on the performance of Field Marshal William Slim during the World War II Burma Campaign.

JOHN SUTHERLAND is a retired U.S. Army Infantry Officer. His past assignments include: OPFOR at the National Training Center, assistant battalion operations officer, company commander during Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm, assistant Brigade Operations Officer, chief of plans and exercises and deputy operations officer in Korea, land component planner in Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) and Coalition Forces Headquarters (CFH / CENTCOM) during Operation Enduring Freedom / Iraqi Freedom, and Chief of Studies and Analysis for the Joint Center for Operational Analysis, Joint Forces Command (JCOA, JFCOM). He has taught tactics at the U.S. Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning and at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Mr. Sutherland is a published author and is currently working as a government employee at the Joint Center for Operational Analysis in Suffolk, Virginia.

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