Flashcards in Rifle Platoon in the Defense Deck (82):
According to MCDP 1, a defense is
“A coordinated effort to defeat an attack by an opposing force and prevent it from achieving its objectives.”
At the rifle platoon level, the “coordination of effort” is the responsibility of the
Defensive operations may also be conducted to
Retain key terrain or deny a vital area to the enemy
Counter surprise action by the enemy
Economize force, allowing combat power to be concentrated elsewhere
Increase the enemy’s vulnerability by forcing him to concentrate his forces
Attrite or fix the enemy as a prelude to offensive operations
Prepare to resume the offensive
The platoon commander must consider the fundamentals of the defense when
planning, preparing, and conducting defensive operations
The ten fundamentals of the Defense should not be used as a checklist nor should they be thought of as hard and fast rules to be adhered to without exception. Rather, these concepts should
help guide the commander’s thinking and tactical planning process prior to engagement with the enemy with the platoon commander understanding that he may need to sacrifice one fundamental in order to maximize or enhance the utility of another
What are the ten Fundamentals of the Defense
Knowledge of the Enemy
Use of Terrain
Mass and Concentration
Defense in Depth
thorough knowledge of the enemy’s capabilities, operational concepts, and habits is essential to
a successful defense
The defender must maintain freedom of
The platoon commander must ensure that elements of the platoon are able to maneuver in
depth, taking advantage of terrain and tactical developments to concentrate, disperse, and occupy positions from which they can bring more effective fire to bear on the enemy
While the attacker can choose the specific time and point of attack, the defender, through the proper selection of terrain and reinforcing obstacles, can direct the energy of the enemy’s attack into terrain which is
advantageous to the defender. The defender must take advantage of this by
making the most thorough preparations that time allows. Preparations should begin as early as possible and be continuous. The platoon commander must be aware that these preparations may be made under constant observation by the enemy. The platoon commander should develop a security plan which utilizes patrols and LP/OPs to deceive the enemy as to the exact location of the main defenses.
A hasty defense is a defense normally organized while
in contact with the enemy or when contact is imminent and time available for organization is limited.
A hasty defense is improved continuously as the situation permits and may eventually become a
A deliberate defense is a
defense normally organized when out of contact with the enemy or when contact with the enemy is not imminent and time for organization is available
A deliberate defense normally includes
fortifications, strongpoints, extensive use of obstacles, and fully integrated fires
The defender must exploit every aspect of
terrain and weather to his advantage. In the defense, as in the attack, terrain is valuable only if a force gains advantage from its possession or control
The platoon commander seeks to defend on terrain that maximizes
effective fire, cover, concealment, movement, and surprise.
Obstacle integration multiplies the effects and capabilities of
The defense, no less than the offense, must achieve
When possible, the platoon commander should select terrain that has
good defensive qualities but is not conspicuous
Massing fires into non-decisive areas or engagements is
The platoon commander must concentrate forces and fires at the
decisive place if he is to succeed, while exercising economy of force in less critical areas. Some portions may rely more heavily on fires and obstacles rather than manpower
The defensive scheme of maneuver takes advantage of
terrain essential to the integrity of the defense
Since the platoon commander cannot determine the exact enemy course of action, he must be prepared to
shift the main effort
The platoon commander must received detailed, accurate, and effective reporting from patrols and LP/OPs in order to determine
when to adjust the plan based on enemy actions
Flexibility is created by
Detailed planning for contingencies (The platoon commander must be able to visualize the engagement before it occurs.
Designating supplementary and alternate positions
Properly planning for the use of the least engaged unit
Designing counterattack plans
Preparing to assume the offense
Planning on-call fire support
Rehearsing employment of the least engaged unit, as well as movement between primary, alternate, and supplementary positions
Since the offense is the decisive form of combat, the platoon commander seeks every opportunity to take offensive action. A defensive platoon commander can do this by
launching spoiling attacks on enemy assembly areas; utilizing patrols to harass, distract, deceive, and damage the enemy forward of the engagement area; and conducting counterattacks in the engagement area to destroy enemy penetrations
The platoon commander must prepare to change to the offense at
the earliest feasible opportunity
Mutual support strengthens
In the defense we seek to achieve mutual support by
ensuring that no attacker can assault any of our positions without coming under the fires of another position, by ensuring that, if we were to lose one position, we do not lose the ability to affect that sector of fire and finally, we seek to ensure that we are able to cover the withdrawal or counterattack to/ from our primary positions.
Defense in depth is
the positioning of mutually supporting defensive positions throughout the defensive battlespace to absorb and progressively weaken an enemy attack. It provides maneuver space within the defensive area for the maneuver of subordinate units against the enemy’s main effort.
Defense in Depth is necessary to
Disrupt the momentum of the attack and prevent a breakthrough
Force the enemy into the engagement area
Allow the platoon commander time to determine the enemy’s main effort and counter it.
Force the enemy to commit his force before a nondecisive point.
Disperse the effects of enemy fire.
Defense in depth is achieved by
Engaging the enemy at the earliest opportunity with patrols and LP/OPs.
Employing weapons at maximum effective range.
Using blocking positions, obstacles, and supplementary positions throughout the engagement area.
Planning for decisive use of the least engaged unit and fire support units at the decisive moment in the engagement
Every defense contains what two complementary characteristics
a static element and a dynamic element
In a mobile defense, the bulk of the force is held as a
mobile striking force with strict economy applied to dedicated positional supporting efforts designed to canalize, delay, and disrupt the enemy’s attack
This type of defensive operation is normally conducted by a division sized force or larger.
A position defense orients on retention of terrain by
absorbing the enemy in an interlocking series of positions and destroying him largely by fires
Regardless of the type, a key characteristic of a sound defense is the ability
of the commander to aggressively seek opportunities to
take offensive action
and wrest the initiative from the enemy.
Defensive Techniques are
A battle position is a
defense position oriented on the most likely
enemy avenue of approach from which a unit may defend or attack. It can be
used to deny or delay the enemy the use of certain terrain or an avenue of
What is Strongpoint
A fortified defensive position designed to deny the enemy certain
terrain as well as the use of an avenue of approach
A strongpoint will typically contain
significant combat service support
assets and will generally be utilized at the battalion level and above.
A perimeter defense is oriented in all directions. A unit can use this
defensive technique to
accomplish a specific mission, such as defend friendly
infrastructure, or to provide immediate self-protection, such as during resupply
operations when all-around security is required.
A reverse slope is
any slope which descends away from the
A reverse slope aids the
defender in bringing massed surprised fires to
bear against an attacking enemy and may be particularly useful if the enemy
possesses weapons with greater range and/or accuracy than the defender
Sequence of the Defense is
Consolidation / Reorganization
After completing the initial tactical planning process, the platoon commander should have the following
Thorough CG-CV-Exploitation plan
Tentative Scheme of Maneuver
Publish Warning Order
Plan for Leader’s Reconnaissance / Patrol Order
The engagement area (EA) is
the location where the platoon commander intends to destroy an enemy force using the massed fires of all available weapons and supporting assets
7 steps can be used for developing an EA are
1. Identify all likely enemy avenues of approach
2. Determine likely enemy schemes of maneuver
3. Determine where to kill the enemy
4. Emplace weapon systems
5. Plan and integrate obstacles
6. Plan and integrate indirect fires (organic / non-organic)
7. Conduct EA rehearsal
During the step -Identify all likely enemy avenues of approach, the platoon commander identifies
the possible enemy
avenues of approach without choosing a specific one
The squad leader inspects his Marines sectors continuously to
ensure they meet the platoon commander’s intent
Defensive fire support can be divided into what three categories
Long Range Fires
Close In Fires
Final Protective Fire (FPF)
The platoon commander seeks to use long range fires to
engage the enemy forward of the engagement area.
Close in fires are used to
target the enemy in the engagement area prior to reaching the trigger for final protective fires
The priority of fire in the defense, the final protective fire is
a registered barrier of indirect fire which is designed to impede enemy movement across the engagement area.
The platoon commander must understand obstacle effects in order to ensure all obstacles are fully integrated with the platoon defensive plan. four tactical obstacle effects are
Obstacles must also take into account
the platoon commander’s counterattack plans
The two categories of obstacles are
existing and reinforcing
Existing obstacles include
natural and cultural obstacles
reinforcing obstacles include
mines, wire, early warning devices, ditches, and log cribs
Wire obstacles are classified in what three categories
The principals of obstacle employment should be applied at all times during the
planning, preparation, and execution phases of the defense
Types of Positions
The primary position is
the best available position for
an individual or crew served weapon to accomplish the assigned
Alternate positions are
located so that individuals
and crew-served weapons can continue to accomplish the assigned
mission when the primary position becomes untenable or unsuited for
carrying out the mission.
Supplementary Position are a
secondary position and does not cover the same sector of fire as the
primary and alternate positions.
During the planning phase, the commander must develop an employment plan for the least engaged unit and ensure
that all squads know their respective responsibilities should they be designated as the least engaged unit
The platoon commander conducts his/her leader’s reconnaissance to
validate (confirm or deny) the assumptions made about the enemy and terrain during his/her estimate of the situation, as well as to put the measures in place to facilitate a smooth occupation
The platoon commander issues an order to all Marines going on the leader’s recon patrol. At a minimum, this order needs to include
EMLCOA, the scheme of maneuver for the patrol, the fire support plan, immediate action drills, priorities of reconnaissance, security plan for patrol will platoon commander is gathering recon information, lost Marine plan, and casualty evacuation plan.
The platoon commander conveys his plan to his subordinates through the
Defensive operations are LABOR INTENSIVE and require
effective use of time to maximize the defender’s advantages prior to the engagement with the enemy
The platoon commander utilizes occupation methods in order to
facilitate control while the platoon moves into position
Crow’s Foot is
a technique utilized squad and fire team release point to move units into position while the units are oriented in the direction in the enemy.
Bent L is
a technique allows the platoon to remain centrally located throughout the occupation of the position.
The combination technique uses
a hybrid of both previous techniques to achieve a balance between control and security.
In the defense, the security plan not only ensures that the platoon is ready when the enemy attacks. It also facilitates the
offensive action of the platoon in the defense
The alert status determines
what percentage of the unit is manning their weapons in the primary positions in the defense.
During stand-to, all Marines are in
full equipment with their weapons systems in their primary positions
A listening post / observation post (LP/OP) is a
location from which Marines can observe enemy movement, report to the platoon commander over appropriate communications assets, and/or call for and adjust indirect fire on enemy units
A detachment of ground or air forces sent out for the purpose of
gathering information or carrying out destructive, harassing, mopping up, or security missions against the enemy.
The fire plan sketch is
a to-scale, graphic representation of the defensive position that is used by the commander to visualize and coordinate the effects of his engagement area and to prevent gaps in
Rehearsals facilitate these seamless transitions by ensuring
that all Marines involved know exactly what to do and are able to accomplish the specified and implied tasks without continued, direct tasking by unit leaders.
Actions during decisive contact with the enemy can be thought of using the following steps
Gain and Maintain Enemy Contact
Disrupt the Enemy
Fix the Enemy