Victory in the Division Rear Fight

by Captain John F. Carson, Jr.

A 2d Infantry Division warfighter exercise demonstrated how the division rear can be protected during a battle, causing the opposing forces to be unable to disrupt combat service support operations.

    During the 2d Infantry Division Warfighter Exercise in December 2001—in which "Northland" invaded "Blueland" and U.S. troops were supporting Blueland's defense—the division rear command post successfully waged the rear battle against the Battle Command Training Program's world-class opposing force (OPFOR). The division rear command post dominated the rear fight with effective intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), aggressive reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S), effective use of smoke, and solid base defense plans. As a result, the enemy's special- purpose forces were defeated and prevented from disrupting logistics support to the division. The division rear command post maintained control and initiative in the rear area of operations, providing freedom of action for combat service support (CSS) operations and ensuring that seamless, anticipatory, and robust logistics support was provided to the maneuver forces.

Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield

    To set successful conditions for planning and executing the division rear battle, the division support command (DISCOM) S2 conducted a thorough IPB of the division rear area. The most crucial IPB products were the modified combined obstacle overlay, the enemy situation template, and the named area of interest overlay. The commander's priority intelligence requirements (PIRs) were key to developing these products. The S2's IPB laid the groundwork for the staff to successfully wage the division rear battle and ensure unimpeded CSS operations in the division rear.

    Modified combined obstacle overlay. Early in the IPB process, the S2 created a detailed modified combined obstacle overlay of the division rear in order to depict likely air avenues of approach, landing zones, dismounted routes, ambush sites, and observation posts. Unlike a traditional modified combined obstacle overlay for a mechanized threat, this overlay was created to show the threat posed by special-purpose forces to the division rear. The S2 depicted air avenues of approach and landing zones for inserting special-purpose forces teams by AN-2 Colt airplanes or Mi-8 Hip helicopters. The modified combined obstacle overlay also detailed the likely dismounted routes to and from ambush sites and observation posts adjacent to main supply routes and the division support area (DSA). This overlay was very helpful in visualizing where the enemy might operate in the division rear.

    Enemy situation template. After completing the modified combined obstacle overlay, the S2 developed the enemy situation template. In conjunction with analysis from the division G2 multidiscipline counterintelligence cell, the DISCOM S2 deduced that approximately 40 special-purpose forces teams would operate in the division rear. The S2 concluded that 25 of these teams would be from the 37th Special Purpose Forces Brigade of the Northland Southern Front and 15 of the teams would be from the 8th Infantry Army Special Purpose Forces Battalion. Northland's order of battle indicated that each team would consist of approximately 12 men, equipped with AK-74 rifles, AKSU-74 machineguns, RPG-16D rocket launchers, and high-
frequency burst radios. The S2 also determined that the high-payoff targets for these teams would be aviation assets, command posts, fuel sites, ammunition points, and lines of communication.

    Based on the terrain analysis from the modified combined obstacle overlay, expected composition of
special-purpose forces in the division rear, likely special-purpose forces high payoff targets, and line-of-sight analysis from these high-payoff targets, the S2 developed the division rear enemy situation template.

Modern wars will not be won in the rear area, but they may well be lost there.


This template proved to be highly reliable, with the 40 templated special-purpose forces teams situated about where the 47 actual special-purpose forces teams were located.

    Named area of interest overlay. Once the enemy situation template was completed, the DISCOM S2 created the named area of interest overlay. This IPB product is key to developing the R&S plan and must be produced deliberately. Although the named area of interest overlay uses analysis from the modified combined obstacle overlay and enemy situation template, it is not simply a copy of those products. The S2 must select named areas of interest that will satisfy the commander's PIRs. The S2 also must prioritize the most likely locations for special-purpose forces teams and balance the total number of named areas of interest with the total number of R&S assets at his disposal.

    For the warfighter exercise, the DISCOM S2 created 62 named areas of interest and organized them into phases corresponding to the anticipated boundary changes of the division rear as the exercise progressed. Of these 62 areas, 34 were for phase I (the period from the beginning of the exercise to forward movement of the brigade rear boundaries). The remaining 28 were phased in as the maneuver brigades' rear boundaries moved forward and the DSA redeployed. The S2 effectively placed these named areas of interest on likely landing zones, ambush points, observation posts, and sniper points. Of the 47 special-purpose forces teams that operated in the division rear, 40 were destroyed, and 19 of these were destroyed on or near a named area of

    The DISCOM S2's thorough IPB created an effective foundation for the division rear's R&S plan and base defense plans. The modified combined obstacle overlay, enemy situation template, and named area of interest overlay provided the necessary framework for most other staff planning. The IPB was crucial to effectively waging the division rear fight and ensuring freedom of action for CSS operations.

R&S Plan

    From well-prepared intelligence products, the DISCOM S2 developed a comprehensive R&S plan early in the military decisionmaking process. The plan was detailed in an easy-to-understand R&S tasking matrix that incorporated all available battlefield operating systems. The S2 carefully selected collection assets and established clear responsibility for each named area of interest. The S2 also led an R&S synchronization meeting with all key participants to ensure complete understanding of the R&S plan. Finally, the S2 occasionally altered the R&S plan's execution, based on his predictive analysis of anticipated activity by special-purpose forces.

    The R&S tasking matrix incorporated all available assets in the division rear, including attack aviation, military police, engineers, CSS units, counter-intelligence teams, ground surveillance radars, a remotely monitored battle sensor system, and communications intelligence intercept systems. An R&S matrix for each phase of the operation was completed in order to cover the division rear effectively as its boundaries changed. The R&S tasking matrix focused on the DISCOM commander's PIRs, ensured redundant coverage of named areas of interest, and integrated all available assets to create a solid web of R&S in the division rear area of operations.

    Selecting the right asset to cover the right named area of interest was crucial to the R&S plan's success. Coverage of named areas of interest within or near the DSA was tasked to the main support battalion, the corps support battalion, the aviation brigade, and the engineer brigade. Attack helicopters and military police teams covered named areas of interest adjacent to main supply routes, possible special-purpose forces landing zones, and possible infiltration routes. The two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters normally dedicated to executing the division rear R&S plan were particularly valuable assets because they could cover named areas of interest in mountainous terrain and engage targets quickly.


    The 58 military police teams provided effective coverage along routes and responded quickly to the OPFOR operating in the division rear. The military intelligence battalion provided two counterintelligence teams, two interrogation teams, two AN/PPS-5 ground surveillance radar teams, and one string of remotely monitored battle sensor systems to operate in the division rear area of operations.

    The forward-looking infrared radar on the Avenger air-defense weapon systems provided excellent ground coverage of special-purpose forces teams operating in and around the DSA at night. When the R&S plan was complete, the division rear's R&S assets provided complete and multidisciplined collection of intelligence in the division rear, protecting aviation assets, CSS units, and lines of communication.

Synchronization Meeting

    Before conducting the warfighter exercise and executing the R&S plan, the DISCOM S2 led an R&S synchronization meeting with key representatives from each unit tasked in the R&S plan. The officers in charge of the R&S assets for each unit attended the meeting. The DISCOM commander, executive officer, and S3 also were present to provide direction and guidance.

    At the meeting, the R&S tasking matrix and R&S overlay were briefed in detail. As indicated in the matrix, each named area of interest had at least one unit tasked as its primary intelligence collector. Units understood that, as primary collectors, they were responsible for covering and reporting on their named areas of interest. The S2 produced R&S graphics on FalconView maps (a Windows-based application). These maps provided a clear representation of the terrain, named areas of interest, the expected enemy situation, and R&S tasks. The R&S synchronization meeting ensured that every unit understood in detail what its tasks were on the matrix. This meeting paid big dividends while executing the R&S plan during the exercise.

R&S Plan Execution

    During the exercise, every unit tasked as primary collector for named areas of interest was responsible for reporting on the status of its areas of interest every 2 hours or when contact was made. The S2 tracked the progress of the R&S plan closely throughout the fight. Every 24 hours, the S2 conducted pattern analysis of the previous day's OPFOR activity. In order to predict the intentions and anticipated activities of the special- purpose forces, the S2 thoroughly assessed their composition, disposition, and targeting. He occasionally altered the R&S tasking matrix based on predictive analysis from this process. The refocusing of assets during the battle effectively reduced the OPFOR threat in the division rear.

    By deliberately and thoroughly developing an effective R&S plan, the DISCOM S2 succeeded in finding and destroying enemy special-purpose forces teams. As a result, CSS units in the division rear were free to move and operate, ensuring crucial support to the warfighter in the close battle.

Base Defense Plan

    The DISCOM S3 worked closely with the S2 and the rear tactical operations center commander to develop a base defense plan that provided maximum protection for units within the DSA. The base defense plan incorporated all battlefield operating systems, effectively used the tactical combat force, coordinated preplanned targets with division artillery (DIVARTY) and the aviation brigade, and organized all base defense activities on a base defense matrix. When completed, the base defense plan was well integrated and flexible enough that the division could react to any OPFOR threat. Since R&S support and base defense support are practically the same, careful attention was given not to overtask units providing both types of support.

    The tactical combat force was centrally located within the DSA to ensure quick reaction to level II and III threats. Platoons from the tactical combat force also conducted local patrols in the area immediately surrounding the DSA. Units within the base clusters formed quick reaction forces to respond to level I and II threats.

    Smoke operations were used frequently in the DSA to conceal unit locations and movements. While attack helicopters and military police teams conducted their R&S missions, they also provided base defense by chasing and killing enemy special-purpose forces teams throughout the division rear.

    Effective targeting was another key component of the base defense plan. In order to streamline fire support, the DISCOM S2 coordinated with DIVARTY to develop preplanned target areas of interest. DIVARTY converted many named areas of interest into target reference points for fire-support planning purposes. Targeting was refined at a daily targeting meeting that was attended by representatives of each staff element and chaired by the DIVARTY executive officer. This targeting group reviewed preplanned target areas of interest in light of anticipated OPFOR activity in the division rear. The targeting group adjusted the division rear targeting plan based on the S2's predictive analysis. The group was careful to ensure that supporting mortars and attack aviation could cover target areas of interest. Because of these efforts, the division rear command post developed highly effective target areas of interest.

    Base defense planning for the DSA went extremely well because of the close coordination among the rear tactical operations center, S3, S2, and subordinate units in the DSA. Throughout the exercise, these staff elements constantly passed information and battlefield updates to one another on standardized spot report forms in order to keep a common relevant picture of the battlefield. Because of the highly effective base defense execution in the division rear, CSS units provided logistics support to the division without interruption.

    Through effective IPB, R&S planning, and base defense planning, the division rear staff developed effective plans for the division rear fight. Vigorous execution of a comprehensive, fully integrated R&S plan and effective base defense plan were crucial to waging the rear battle. Feedback from the Battle Command Training Program observer-controller team stated that the OPFOR special-purpose forces operators felt they were "chased" throughout the exercise. As a result, the DISCOM's logistics support was not impeded and CSS units had freedom to provide full-spectrum support to the warfighter.  ALOG

    Captain John F. Carson, Jr., is the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2d Military Intelligence Center, in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was the DISCOM S2 for the 2d Infantry Division in Korea when he wrote this article. He has a bachelor's degree in history from the University of South Alabama and is a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic Course, Military Intelligence Officer Transition Course, Military Intelligence Captains Career Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, and Signal Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Officer Course.