March 23, 2015

Rifle Platoon Leader – PLATOON ATTACK - Part 1

Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack.
                                                                      Sun Tzu


Once an element in your platoon comes under fire, or spots an enemy unit, it runs through the React to Contact Drill (refer to the React to Contact post for the full procedure) including:

Assess the situation:

  • Determine the size of the enemy force
  •  Identify vulnerable enemy flanks
  •  Identify covered and concealed routes for flanking the enemy 
  •  Identify any obstacles

If the enemy force is too large for the unit in contact to deal with itself then you as the Platoon Leader must make the decision as to what force will be required. 

Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning.

If the enemy force is determined to be equal or larger than your platoon, then you must either:

  •  Take up a fire support position with the platoon and conduct a hasty attack with a neighboring platoon or platoons as the maneuver unit(s) (this is a Company Attack and will not be covered in the Platoon Leader series)
  •  Conduct a prepared attack with supporting platoon or platoons (This is also a Company Attack and will not be covered in the Platoon Leader series)
  • Withdraw and bypass the enemy force
If however the enemy force is determined to be one or two squads in size, or composed of two or three enemy support teams (MGs, light guns, etc.), then the entire Platoon can attack to eliminate the threat.

IMPORTANT:  Not all enemy units will probably be identified, attempt to determine the enemy force size by comparing the known contacts with probable unit templates (use the scenario editor as an enemy order of battle template resource).  See my post on Reconnaissance for this procedure.

Prior to any Platoon Attack the Platoon Leader (you) must determine the following to the best of your abilities:

From the enemy point of view: 
  • What ground can the enemy contact(s) fire in to?
  • Where might other (hidden) enemy teams or support weapons be located?
  • What ground is masked from identified or suspected enemy contact’s fire?
  • Type of identified enemy units? Infantry? MGs? Infantry guns? Etc. 
    • If armor, then this requires special consideration
    • If MGs and/or Infantry guns then some additional support might be required
    • Identify all enemy support weapons
  • Size of the enemy force, is it a single team, multiple teams, squad, multiple squads or even elements of a full platoon?
  • If you determine the enemy force to be a possible specific unit:
    • What units from the enemy unit have been identified?
    • What units from the enemy unit have NOT been identified? 
      • You should expect to have to encounter these units as well
      • ALWAYS take these unidentified units into consideration when planning the attack
From your point of view:
  • What terrain allows the best support by fire positions on to the known and suspected enemy positions?
  • What are the best covered routes to approach the enemy unit(s) flanks?
  • Flank security; ensure your flanks are secure either by masking terrain or with another unit providing security.
  • What force will be required to suppress the enemy contact(s)?
  • What units are available for the attack?

PLATOON ATTACK – to be continued

The enemy force has been determined to be a larger force than the unit in contact can handle on its own but small enough that your platoon should be able to eliminate it without additional support. 

Attack methods and planning for a Platoon Attack will be covered in Part 2.  This will be followed by a Tactical Problems scenario so you can practice the Platoon Attack.

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