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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

platoon commander


Defensive operations may also be conducted to

 Gain time
 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
Offensive Action
Mutual Support
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

deliberate defense


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

any position


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

Battle Position


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

Planning/Preparation Phase
Execution Phase
Decisive Contact
Consolidation / Reorganization


After completing the initial tactical planning process, the platoon commander should have the following

 Detailed EMLCOA
 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

Primary Position
Alternate Position
Supplementary Position


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

operations order.


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
his fires.


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


Any time contact is made with the enemy, the platoon conducts

consolidation and reorganization. Re-establishing security is the first priority during this portion of the operation.