Engineer Doctrine in a 2,000 words or less,
a primer in the breach
by John Atkinson
OK, when I say maneuver forces I mean tankers and infantry. If I use any other arcane words without explaining, let me know.
In the attack there's one rule. SOSRA!
Supress: Throw enough fire on the enemy to keep them pinned down. Artillery and tankers are best for this. Try to push the enemy away from the breach site.
Obscure: Drop smoke on the obstacle and in the line of site of enemy defenders. Where possible, try to pick a breach site that is covered by terrain.
Secure: Move your maneuver forces up and out over the flanks to try and use fire to get rid of all the enemy forces that can still threaten the engineers.
Reduce: That's the engineer's actual job. Actual mechanics of the breach depend on nature of the obstacle and resources available.
Assault: Have a designated assault force which will roll through the breach. There's nothing more pointless than taking heavy casualties creating a breach only to find that you have nothing left to push through the breach to take the objective.
Specifics depend on the mission.
Deliberate Attack: You know pretty much where the obstacles are, and breaching them is a focus for one of your subunits (platoon + EN PLT if the attacking force is company, company + EN assets if attacking force is batallion). So that unit focuses on nothing but getting the engineers to the breach. Also on the plus side, you've got a lot of artillery with smoke rounds (that's what those light artillery units, ie batallion mortars are good for) and even more with MAK and HEF to supress.
Hasty Attack: Simillar except you get to plan on the fly. Still have a designated breach unit (maneuver + EN), but there's a tendency to let it get into fights. Also since the situation is real fluid, there's a tendency to want to have scatterable minefields available to throw out to cover flanks and prevent counter-attacks.
Movement to Contact: Engineers shouldn't have much of a job. Maybe some WAM or MOPMS point obstacles to cut down on counter-attacks and some Volcanoes (mechanically dispensed scatterable minefields launched from the back of an M548 cargo track) to secure flanks.
Defense. During a defense you don't need to worry about breaches, but you need to do obstacle planning. That's a bit of an arcane science, but some general rules.
- Weapons ranges. This determines where your obstacles are in relation to the friendlies. If you're fighting the Parumphians and you know that the Parumphian POS-class main battle tank is their mainstay and it carries an HKP/4 that means their weapons are pretty spiffy out to 42" and still work out to 54". Now, you're digging in the 1st Gildenstern Jaeger Batallion and their main anti-armor unit is Delta Company with GMS/H-armed Jeeps. Your weapons are effective out to 48". So that means you want your delay and fix obstacles out from 48-42" from the Gildenstern Jaeger units. If you have time, put in another belt at 30-36" so that you get in a couple shots from the GMS/Ls before they get into short range. :)
- Effects desired. There's basically 5 things you can do with a obstacle group. You can block, which means a deep obstacle that requires multiple breaches to actually create a lane. Really resource-intensive and frequently narrow enough to bypass unless carefully planned. Second, you can turn enemies. This is sort of a slanted, narrower block obstacle which channelizes enemy maneuver into a fire sack where your fires can kill them. Third, you can throw in delay minefields. Disrupt obstacles force them to commit engineering resources prematurely and break up formations. Generally a loose group that could be bypassed, but consumes time. Fourth, fix. The idea behind a fix obstacle is that it's in the middle of the fire sack and is used to hold the enemy in place where you want him to die under the integrated direct and indirect fires of your main effort. Fifth are protective minefields, which are used for close-in protection against the enemy's final assault.
- Fires integration. An obstacle not covered by, at a minimum observation and indirect fire is NOT an obstacle. Obstacles don't kill any more than a couple vehicles unless the enemy is total morons. But you can do some serious damage to them if you use the fact that they are holding still to inflict damage.
- Planning cycle: Figure out what you want to do to the enemy. Figure out how to do this with direct fire. Then plan your indirect fire plan. Then your obstacles. Make sure all of these support what you want to do to the enemy. Make sure you have observers in place to cover likely avenues of approach, and never, ever, ever leave an obstacle unattended.
- Resources and time available. You'll never have all the time, mines, wire, WAMs, etc to do what you want to do, especially in a hasty defense. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
John M. Atkinson
Speaking of puns. . .