Over the past few years I've tried to learn through reading and observation. Recently, I've been fortunate enough not just to benefit from the experience of fellow bloggers, but to read Bil Hardenberger's excellent Battle Drill blog. Bil has done a series of posts recently about recon, which culminated in a guest post from his friend Lieutenant Colonel Scott Coulsen, a serving armor officer in the US Army. I should also mention the excellent advice of LTC Mark Gibson, also a serving officer in the Royal Australian Armored Corps.
Perhaps the most important thing I've learned from reading what these gentlemen have written is the importance of taking the time before the engagement to prepare by closely examining the terrain and developing an idea of the various courses of action that the enemy might use to reach his objectives. Then, develop plans to discover and validate which plan he is executing, and only then develop a plan to counter his moves. Unlike my standard approach of charging in, guns blazing, this means taking plenty of time up front to think things through, and then conducting thorough reconnaissance aimed at developing as full a picture of the enemy's movements and positions as possible prior to committing one's main effort.
|Units from KG von Bassler conduct recon and screening for 14 Panzer near Taganrog|
I think I'm really beginning to understand the concepts of Named Areas of Interest (NAI) and Targeted Areas of Interest (TAI), and why they're important. Grasping those concepts naturally led me to improved planning for attacks and defense, since using them more effectively provided me with a much clearer picture of the enemy's forces and activity. "Gaps and surfaces" suddenly made sense.
|1980's era Panzer brigade recon elements moving to get "eyes on" an NAI|
|The consequences of bad planning and poor recon|
|The result of good Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield|
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to head to bed and do some more reading in FM 34-130.