Academic journal article Military Review

Reconnaissance beyond the Coordinated Fire Line: Division Warfighter Trends

Academic journal article Military Review

Reconnaissance beyond the Coordinated Fire Line: Division Warfighter Trends

Article excerpt

Charges of cavalry are equally serviceable in the beginning, the middle and the end of a battle [emphasis added],

-Napoleon Bonaparte

In the decisive action training environment (DATE) Warfighter, divisions and corps struggle to continously plan and execute reconnaissance operations beyond the coordinated fire line (CFL). The lack of ground-based reconnaissance assets at the division level contributes to this problem. The Army is addressing this gap, but the concept currently being tested by the Reconnaissance and Security Brigade Combat Team (R&S BCT) is only part of the solution. Overall, divisions fail to maintain situational awareness of upcoming decision points and the priority intelligence requirements (PIR) associated with them. As a result, the reconnaissance portion of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) plan often becomes overlooked in favor of the deliberate, lethal targeting cycle. As operations progress, this deliberate targeting usually evolves predominantly into dynamic targeting beyond the CFL. This leads to an overall trend of fires and intelligence collection driving the maneuver plan rather than the two acting in support of it. However, placing maneuver back into the forefront of capturing operational objectives is achievable. Divisions must reempower the operations and intelligence synchronization meeting (OPSYNC) and introduce a reconnaissance cell into the main command post. This cell will represent either the R&S BCT or the division reconnaissance task force created from organic assets.

Decision Points and Future Planning

During the military decision-making process (MDMP) that occurs before operations commence, divisions identify decision points that are typically well planned and well articulated. However, as operations progress, divisions lose awareness of upcoming decision points. They fail to adjust the decision support matrix (DSM) as the operational environment changes. This is not to suggest divisions completely disregard the DSM. Key senior leaders, such as the G-2 (intelligence officer), G-3 (operations officer), and chief of staff (COS), remain aware of upcoming decision points and typically keep the commander well updated during scheduled battle-rhythm events, such as the division targeting working group. Despite this awareness among the leadership, divisions typically lose the critical oversight of upcoming decision points on the floor of the current operations integration center (COIC). The DSM and PIR are printed out and posted for reference, but as the mission progresses through phases, these documents fade into the background and become familiar standard wallpaper. As a result, the chief of operations (CHOPS)-the staff member responsible for managing the COIC and normally the first leader given the opportunity to analyze information reported from subordinate units-is at a significant disadvantage in regards to recognizing variance. Army Doctrine Reference Publication (ADRP) 5-0, The Operations Process, describes the role of commanders and staff in analyzing the changing situation on the battlefield:

During execution, commanders and staffs monitor the situation to identify changes in conditions. Then they ask if these changes affect the overall conduct of operations or their part of it and if the changes are significant. Finally, they identify if the changed conditions represent variances from the order-especially opportunities and risks. Staff members use running estimates to look for indicators of variances that affect their areas of expertise. The commander, COS (XO), and command post cell chiefs look for indicators of variances that affect the overall operation.1

The COS is expected to look for indicators ofvariance, but the CHOPS is the first point on the critical path toward the commander's decision and must be trained to look for it as well. The best way to do this is for the CHOPS to become thoroughly familiar with the DSM. …

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