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Incorporating the five breaching tenets.

This article presents a way for leaders who are supporting a maneuver task force and for task force engineers and operations officers to understand, incorporate, and execute the five breaching tenets. It also describes the breaching tenets and presents breaching trends observed at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California. Finally, it presents tools and methods to assist leaders during the planning and rehearsal process of combined arms breaching.

The breaching tenets are--

* Intelligence.

* Breaching fundamentals.

* Breaching organization.

* Mass.

* Synchronization. (1)

Intelligence consists of developing obstacle information requirements such as location, size, type of mines, and potential point of breach (POB). To gather the intelligence necessary for success in combined arms breaching, it is necessary to determine the available reconnaissance capabilities, such as an unmanned aerial vehicle, scout platoon, scout weapons team, or engineer reconnaissance team. Once identified, the assets must be focused on developing obstacle intelligence. It is critical that task force engineers work closely with battalion intelligence officers to ensure that information collection assets focus on intelligence, which provides the critical information necessary to plan and execute the second breaching tenet--breaching fundamentals.

Breaching fundamentals describe actions on the objective, otherwise known as SOSRA:

* Suppress means to provide effective direct and indirect suppressive fires on the objective.

* Obscure means to employ smoke on and between enemy positions and the reduction area.

* Secure means to hold the obstacle with appropriate combat power.

* Reduce means to use explosive, mechanical, and/or physical means to destroy the obstacle.

* Assault means to destroy the enemy on the far side of the obstacle. (2)

SOSRA actions are vital to combined arms breaching, but they can only be accomplished if the maneuver task force is task-organized properly using the third breaching tenet--breaching organization.

Breaching organization consists of three main forces: support, breach, and assault. The support force suppresses all direct and observed indirect enemy fires in and around the POB or reduction area. The breach force consists of a reduction element and a security element. The reduction element reduces the obstacle by creating and marking lanes; and the security element secures the near side and far side of the obstacle. The assault force attacks through the obstacle and seizes the objective.

Intelligence, breaching fundamentals, and breaching organization have to work together in space and time to be effective. This is accomplished through the two final breaching tenets--mass and synchronization.

Mass consists of inflicting overwhelming combat effects at the right location to create an enemy weakness at the POB or reduction site.

Synchronization entails massing those forces and effects at the right time by communicating clear instructions to subordinate units. Synchronization brings all breaching tenets together through effective mission command.

Trends

Breaching trends observed at the National Training Center from spring 2012 to spring 2013 can be divided into two categories--planning and execution. One common trend during planning relates to intelligence, the first breaching tenet. Most task forces struggled to obtain obstacle intelligence during the planning process. This was due to their failure to employ reconnaissance assets at echelons in support of the combined arms breach. Using reconnaissance assets to gain obstacle intelligence facilitates planning. It allows the unit conducting the breach to determine the POB; the size, type, and makeup of the obstacle size; enemy locations; the identity of key terrain surrounding the obstacle; and possible bypass locations.

A second trend observed during planning involved the lack of engineer-specific input during course-of-action development and war games. These trends included--

* Failure to develop or reference engineer assets and tasks in the maneuver task force execution synchronization matrix (ESM).

* Failure to develop decision points related to the support, breach, and assault forces or failure to place decision points on a decision support matrix.

* Failure to show graphics of decision points associated with the breach on a decision support template.

Better attention to these planning deliverables will greatly help units synchronize the support, breach, and assault forces and implement the breaching fundamentals.

The final trend observed during the planning process involved rehearsals; specifically, the lack of participation by engineer leaders as briefers on terrain models. Engineer leaders or task force operations officers often do not brief necessary details of the breaching tenets during the combined arms rehearsal. Engineer-specific icons often were not developed or placed on the terrain model. If they were, the icons themselves were not referenced or used during the combined arms rehearsal.

During the execution of the combined arms breach, maneuver task forces struggled to synchronize the support, breach, and assault forces. This contributed to an inability to execute SOSRA. The following are observations obtained from numerous executions of combined arms breaches during several decisive action training environment rotations--

* The breach force moved toward the POB before the support force suppressed the objective.

* The support force fired obscuration smoke too early or too late.

* The breach force began reduction without adequate obscuration.

* The breach and assault forces failed to secure the breach site.

* The breach force began obstacle reduction before the breach site was secured.

* The breach and assault forces struggled to mass at the POB.

* The assault force failed to understand the marking technique used.

* The assault force moved through the breach lane before the lane was marked

* The assault force stalled at the breach.

Planning Tools

Several tools help leaders incorporate the breaching tenets during planning to ensure that the maneuver task force employs them during execution.

The ESM records war game results and helps the staff synchronize a course of action across time and space. (3) Here, the engineer leader or planner ensures that the support, breach, and assault forces--each with its associated task and purpose in relation to time and space--are captured on the ESM. Populating the ESM during the military decisionmaking process begins synchronization. The ESM allows the staff to visualize the breach organization, task, and purpose. Most importantly, it shows how the support, breach, and assault forces relate to each other in time and space. The proper use of the ESM also confirms the results of reverse breach planning, develops instructions to subordinate units, and helps determine effective mission command node composition and locations. The ESM describes any decision points determined by the staff that lead to the development of the second and third tools--the decision support matrix and decision support template.

The matrix and template facilitate the synchronization of the combined arms breach. The template depicts decision points, timelines associated with the movement of forces, and the flow of the operation.

Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 5-0, The Operations Process, defines a decision point as "a point in space or time the commander of staff anticipates making a key decision concerning a specific course of action." (4) A decision support matrix describes those decision points and associated actions. The matrix is part of the template, and they work together to portray key decisions and potential actions that are likely to arise during execution. (5) Developing a matrix and template forces engineer and maneuver planners to anticipate any questions that may arise during a combined arms breach, such as where the point of penetration is, when the support force starts suppression, and when the support force starts obscuration fires.

Once a decision is made, the next step is to develop a trigger to help the commander make the decision. The point at which the engineer reconnaissance team identifies obstacle and enemy positions would be the trigger to help decide where the point of penetration should be located. Below are additional recommended decisions with their respective criteria:

* When does the support force occupy the support-by-fire position? The recommended criteria are when obscuration assets are set and the support force is set to move to the support-by-fire position.

* When should the breach force be committed? The recommended criteria are when suppression and obscuration measures are adjusted and effective, engineer preparations are complete, fire control measures are in effect, air defense artillery is in position, and casualty evacuation assets are ready to accept casualties.

* When should the reduction element be committed? The recommended criteria are when the breach force near side security is in position and the security element controls the reduction site by force.

* When should the assault force be committed? The recommended criteria are when the lane is reduced, proofed, and marked and far side security is in position.

Effective planning results when the staff develops an ESM and a decision support matrix and template. (6) These tools help commanders visualize key decisions and potential actions related to the combined arms breach. (7)

They also help synchronize the support, breach, and assault forces. The ESM and the decision support matrix and template contain decisions and their related triggers, which contribute to the execution of subtasks that accomplish SOSRA. These triggers provide the basis for the execution checklist, another tool available for commanders and planners to synchronize efforts.

Execution Checklist

An execution checklist helps synchronize units and efforts by sequentially listing critical tasks that .must be accomplished. The checklist typically describes the unit, tasks, anticipated time of completion, and associated procedure words. A common trend in most execution checklists is to list only the main tasks to be accomplished. However, listing subtasks contributes to the overall synchronization of efforts. Therefore, subtasks and associated procedure words that help achieve SOSRA should be developed. For example, most execution checklists note when suppression is accomplished, when obscuration is completed, or when the assault force has moved through the breach. (This assumes that everything is synchronized.) Commanders should use the execution checklist together with the decision support matrix. Therefore, the triggers developed for the matrix and template should be listed and then codified into a standard breach drill standing operating procedure to be used across the brigade combat team.

Example 1. Instead of listing "suppression of breach site completed," the execution checklist should list "support force at support-by-fire position 1," followed by "breach force at attack-by-fire position 1," and then "support force begins suppression of objective." This will synchronize the support and breach forces by ensuring that they are at their proper locations before the support force suppresses the objective. Also, a breach drill standing operating procedure that standardizes those actions and code words will contribute to a mutual understanding across the brigade combat team.

Example 2. Instead of listing "obscuration of breach site completed," the execution checklist could note "support force at support-by-fire position 1," followed by "breach force crosses Phase Line Green," and then by "support force fires obscuration on objective." Phase Line Green is a graphic control measure determined through the time/distance analysis for the breach force to move from a specified location to the breach site. It was determined that Phase Line Green is where the breach force must be located before the support force fires obscuration on the objective. This ensures that the breach force is not too far away or too close for obscuration to adequately cover the objective.

Finally, the combined arms rehearsal (CAR) is the last tool to assist engineer leaders during the planning and rehearsal process. Army Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (ATTP) 5.0-1, Command and Staff Officer Guide, states that "A combined arms rehearsal is a rehearsal in which subordinate units synchronize their plans with each other." (8) The CAR is the last opportunity for the efforts of a maneuver task force to be synchronized. Done properly, it will ensure that all breaching tenets are addressed.

Recommendations for engineer platoon leaders or company commanders to prepare for the CAR include--

* Ensuring that the engineer platoon leader or company commander has a speaking part at the CAR.

* Placing engineer icons (such as units, triggers, graphic control measures, and fire control measures) on the terrain model meant to help synchronize the combined arms breach.

* Briefing engineer composition, disposition, task, and purpose.

* Briefing primary and secondary methods of breaching with associated impacts.

* Briefing primary and secondary methods of proofing with associated impacts.

* Ensuring that the schemes of maneuver for support, breach, and assault forces are addressed.

* Briefing the marking system with an example set up for participants to reference.

Conclusion

Recent trends observed during the conduct of combined arms breaches at the National Training Center point to one major observation: maneuver task forces routinely struggle to synchronize the support, breach, and assault forces, contributing to an inability to execute SOSRA. Battalion operations officers and task force engineers need to understand the breaching tenets and incorporate them into the planning and rehearsal process. Breaching fundamentals are only one breaching tenet; therefore, addressing SOSRA alone is not enough. An ESM, decision support matrix and template, and execution checklist developed during planning are tools that facilitate the incorporation of the breaching tenets and should be used during execution. The engineer platoon leader or engineer company commander provides input into the ESM, the decision support matrix and template, and execution checklist. Battalion operations officers and task force engineers ensure that a proper CAR addressing the breaching tenets is conducted. The CAR addresses engineer assets with task and purpose; primary and secondary methods of breaching and proofing; graphic control measures and triggers that facilitate synchronization; marking technique; and scheme of maneuver for the breach, support, and assault forces.

The five breaching tenets are vital for the combined arms breach. If not incorporated into the planning and rehearsal process, the maneuver task force will struggle, or even fail, to implement them during execution.

Endnotes:

(1.) ATTP 3-90.4, Combined Arms Mobility Operations, 10 August 2011.

(2.) Ibid.

(3.) ATTP 5-0.1, Commander and Staff Officer Guide, 14 September 2011.

(4.) ADP 5-0, The Operations Process, 17 May 2012.

(5.) ATTP 5-0.1, Commander and Staff Officer Guide, 14 September 2011.

(6.) Ibid.

(7.) Ibid.

(8.) bid.

References:

ATTP 3-90.4, Combined Arms Mobility Operations, 10 August 2011.

ATTP 5.0-1, Commander and Staff Officer Guide, 14 September 2011.

Army Doctrine Reference Publication 3-0, Unified Land Operations, 16 May 2012.

ADP 5-0, The Operations Process, 17 May 2012.

Lieutenant Colonel Law is a common core instructor at the Department of Distance Learning at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC), Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is a graduate of the Engineer Officer Basic Course, the Engineer Captains Career Course, the Combined Arms Service Staff School, and Intermediate Level Education at CGSC. He holds a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Utah State University, a master's degree in geology and geophysics from the University of Missouri- Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology), and a master of military arts and science degree from CGSC.

By Lieutenant Colonel Gerald S. Law
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Author:Law, Gerald S.
Publication:Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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