The art of full combat support

Tactics: the art of full combat support

Full combat support consists in the preparation and implementation of measures designed to maintain the high combat readiness and operational effectiveness of troops and the provision of favorable conditions for performance of combat missions.

Perhaps no other combat principle has undergone so much change in the past 100 years as the principle of support. Before World War I, full support was limited to reconnaissance, security, camouflage, concealment, and deception, and logistics. Today it is a diversified system comprising four main types–combat, psychological, technical, and rear services support, each constituting a complex structure. Say, combat support includes reconnaissance, security, protection of troops, EW, tactical concealment and deception, and engineer support. Technical support of units and large combined-arms units is subdivided into artillery logistic support, armored vehicle logistic and training support, motor transport support, engineer technical support, chemical warfare technical support, communications technical support, and technical support as per the rear services. Rear services support includes logistic, transport services, medical and veterinary support, personal goods and services, and financial services. Such a complex system of full support is predetermined by the character of modern combined-arms combat, its large scale, rapidity, surprise, abruptness, maneuverability, and participation of various types of assets.

The role and place of each form of support within the combat system at different stages of the evolution of the military have varied. Some of them over time went beyond the bounds of support services, becoming part and parcel of combat action, as was the case, for example, with air defense and tank defense, protection of boundaries between adjacent units, flank security, and amphibious landing and air assault defense. Others, such as, e.g., reconnaissance, EW, protection, security, camouflage, concealment and deception, having substantially evolved in the course of wars, continue to be forms of combat support even though their importance in achieving success in combat is constantly growing. Still others were for a certain time independent, but then became special forms of support. Such changes in classification status are predicated on the role and importance of forms of support in the course of preparation and conduct of combat operations.

Adoption for service, after World War II, of nuclear weapons and then of precision guided weapons and the broad introduction of electronics, automated and robotics systems greatly changed the functions of all forms of support. In light of a possible surprise attack by the enemy, the importance of reconnaissance, EW, protection, camouflage, concealment, and deception has grown dramatically. Meanwhile, some forms of support have acquired a new function–ensuring the survivability of troops while protection of troops is becoming one of the principles of combat. At the same time, it would be wrong to divide support activities into primarily and secondary: All of them are important, closely interconnected, mutually supplementary, and aimed to attain a common objective, which is to ensure that troops have all that they need. These activities should be conducted continually, both in preparation and in the course of combat. Their organization and conduct is one of the main functions of commanders and headquarters staffs.

It is also essential to note such a trend in the evolution of various forms of support as integration of some of them into unified, integrated systems. As warfare evolves and combat operations become more complex, new, higher demands are being set on forms of support, above all such as objective, continuity, unity of effort, high-tempo operation, camouflage and concealment, promptness and efficiency, and integration.


This form of combat support emerged at the same time as wars began. From time immemorial, reconnaissance has been known as “the army’s eyes and ears.” This metaphor is highly meaningful. It is only through reconnaissance that a military leader can establish the enemy’s intentions, the composition of its forces and assets and their combat effectiveness, level of provision, concept of operations, terrain conditions of the possible theater of operations, and so forth. Without this information he is not in a position to make the right decision.

In the Russian army, the reconnaissance service was to a very large extent streamlined during the reign of Peter the Great, as reflected in the 1716 Field Manual. Following Petrine traditions, P.S. Saltykov, in the course of the Seven-Year War, and then P.A. Rumyantsev, G.A. Potemkin, and A.V. Suvorov made sure that their troops did not make a single step without reconnaissance.

Scout teams and mounted reconnaissance patrols (short- and long-range) were created to conduct effective reconnaissance. A combination of foot and mounted reconnaissance made it possible to conduct continual reconnaissance of the enemy. Still, until World War I, reconnaissance was largely underestimated, as evidenced by the fact that field manuals, in particular the 1912 Field Service Manual, classified reconnaissance as a non-combat activity.

World War I demonstrated the increased role of reconnaissance and security. These forms of support as well as camouflage, concealment and deception, and rear services began to be considered as special forms of service. In the course of the war, the technical level of reconnaissance increased considerably and new forms of reconnaissance emerged, including air reconnaissance. It was conducted in the Russian army from the very outbreak of hostilities. To that end, the army had an air squadron attached to it, which was comprised of an air unit (six short-range reconnaissance aircraft) and a fighter unit (six fighters). The effectiveness of air reconnaissance was greatly enhanced with the emergence of aerial imagery. In 1916, for the first time in world history, air reconnaissance in the Russian army was conducted by photographing the enemy’s front-line defense positions. In all, 1.5 million air photographs were taken.

During World War I, as the radio evolved as a means of command, control, and communication, radio communications intelligence began to develop. From the first months of military operations, radio intercepts provided valuable information about the enemy, its intentions, and the location and redeployment of its troops. Artillery reconnaissance advanced considerably. Special ground surveillance artillery teams were created in large combined units. They were equipped with technical facilities to get a fix on a target. They were a prototype of field artillery non-visual target acquisition.

World War II dramatically enhanced the role of reconnaissance, greatly expanding its functions. Methods of organization and conduct of combined-arms reconnaissance in the course of combat operations evolved toward increasing its depth, objective, and effectiveness, and ensuring the continuity, promptness, and reliability of intelligence. Methods of reconnaissance organization and control on the part of operational commanders and headquarters staffs also advanced.

The main sources of information about the enemy were observation, surveillance, probing patrols and search, ambush, raid, and reconnaissance in force as well as operations behind enemy lines. Furthermore, combined-arms unit headquarters received information about the enemy from the headquarters of branches of service, superior headquarters, the air force, or adjacent units. Probing patrols, ambushes, and raids, whose methods of conduct were being constantly perfected, were especially effective. Targets of probing patrols and searches, designed to take prisoners, and seize documents, weapons and equipment, were weapon emplacements, infantry entrenchments, foxholes, dugout shelters, lookout and patrol posts, sentries, and sometimes communication nodes and headquarters of enemy forces.

Reconnaissance in force was effective in providing valuable information about the enemy, viz., the actual configuration of the forward edge of the battle area and location of enemy troops on the FEBA; infantry, artillery, and mortar fire delivery systems; the configuration of defensive installations, obstacles, and minefields; flanks and boundaries between adjacent units; enemy force groupings; and the availability of reserves. In addition, prisoners and secret documents were captured. Reconnaissance in force was conducted by scout detachments or forward battalions reinforced with artillery, tanks, and other assets. The success of such reconnaissance action was ensured by the element of surprises; effective suppression of the enemy force with artillery and other fire; disruption of enemy command, control and communication systems, and rapid advance by attacking units deep into the enemy’s defense positions.

Reconnaissance groups operating behind enemy lines secured considerable amounts of valuable information. Such groups were usually comprised of eight to 12 men, including a radio operator with a radio station, one or two sappers, and a translator. In defense action, such groups were sent to a depth of 10 kilometers to 30 kilometers.

Artillery reconnaissance also advanced in the course of the war. It was subdivided into combined-arms, field artillery non-visual target acquisition, and artillery air reconnaissance, comprising diverse forces and assets. Thus, field artillery non-visual target acquisition was ensured by detachments of topographic, sound, optical, photogrammetric, and meteorological reconnaissance. The main reconnaissance methods were surveillance and photography.

It should be noted that the initial stage of the war was characterized by a lack of effective interaction between artillery reconnaissance and other forms thereof. That affected the effectiveness of fire delivery. Subsequently that shortfall was rectified as a uniform target designation system was adopted.

The functions and methods of engineer reconnaissance also were greatly enriched while the level of its technical equipment improved considerably during the war. Thus, whereas at the beginning of the war, engineer reconnaissance was conducted mainly by non-organic subunits detached from rifle engineer formations, in the later period, it was conducted by T/O subunits: in a rifle division, by an engineer reconnaissance section; in an army field engineer brigade, by an engineer reconnaissance platoon; in a field engineer brigade of the Reserve of the Supreme High Command (RVGK), by a motorized rifle reconnaissance company.

The main methods of engineer reconnaissance were observation and surveillance, search, and photography. At the beginning of the war, engineer posts and observation points were located in separation from combined-arms and artillery observation posts. In the subsequent period, they began to be integrated with the observation and surveillance posts of other branches of service. At the final stage of the war, double engineer surveillance posts were used with special in-depth reconnaissance groups designed to conduct ranger action behind enemy lines.

CW reconnaissance was conducted by CW reconnaissance sections and platoons of independent motorized rifle division CW companies and independent army and front CW battalions with the aim to judge the enemy’s readiness for chemical warfare. Its main methods were observation and surveillance; air, soil, and vegetation sampling, and ammunition fragment testing. CW reconnaissance evolved toward a more effective synchronization of activities and functions with other forms of reconnaissance, improving the special training of CW subunits, and maintaining them in permanent combat readiness.

Radio communications reconnaissance comprised radio reconnaissance and wiretapping. It was ensured by radio communications reconnaissance front units. Sometimes mobile groups were attached to armies and corps for a particular operation. Such groups deployed radio direction finders two to three kilometers from the forward edge, ensuring reconnaissance to a depth of up to 50 kilometers. Furthermore, short-range reconnaissance groups were created on the army level, usually comprised of two wiretapping sections and two SW and AM intercept sections. The main methods of radio communications reconnaissance were radio frequency scanning, radio direction finding and location of enemy radio stations, radio tracking, and radio interception and monitoring.

Air reconnaissance during the war was organized by the order of army or front command to a depth of 100 kilometers to 150 kilometers and 250 kilometers to 300 kilometers, respectively, and was designed to identify enemy reserves, aviation, tanks, artillery emplacements, command and control points, and defense positions. It was conducted by two main methods: visual observation and aerial photography. In operations conducted by Soviet troops in 1944-1945, the number of reconnaissance flights, compared to the initial period of the war, had more than tripled, the aerial photography area expanding 18 times and the number of photo documents increasing 20 times. The use of prototype radars to detect aerial targets was of key importance to improving air reconnaissance.

In present-day conditions, further improvement of means of warfare, especially the appearance of precision guided weapons, considerably enhanced the role of reconnaissance. While its capabilities increased, it became more difficult to conduct it, so the requirements for it are more exacting.

First of all, it became necessary to substantially increase the depth of reconnaissance. The trend emerged back in the years of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Thus, whereas in operations in the 1942-1943 period, reconnaissance was conducted, on the battalion level, to a depth of up to two to four kilometers; on the regimental level, up to six to eight kilometers (to the depth of the subsequent mission); and on the division level, up to 10 to 12 kilometers (to the depth of the day’s mission), by the end of the war, its depth was double the depth of the mission of advancing forces. On the battalion level, it was conducted with the aim to obtain information for a day of combat; on the regimental level, for the next one to two days; and on the division level, for two to three days.

Such requirements for the depth of reconnaissance also apply today: The pace of reconnaissance must exceed the pace of forward movement by troops. Only then will commanders and headquarters staffs be in a position to prepare a combat operation in a purposeful, target-specific way, preempting enemy maneuver, and reliably forecasting the course of combat. Today, the greater depth and frontage of forward movement by units and large combined-arms units dramatically expand the operational scope of reconnaissance.

Based on experience in recent local wars and armed conflicts, in the interest of ensuring effective engagement of the enemy, units and large combined-arms units are assigned zones of target and global reconnaissance. The depth of the target reconnaissance zone is predicated on the capabilities of unit observation and surveillance assets. The global reconnaissance zone is assigned for constant monitoring of the enemy’s in-depth installations with a view to preventing surprise developments to the degree possible. Reconnaissance is designed to obtain not general but specific information about the enemy. In uncovering enemy intentions, plans, and the possible character of action, it is necessary to rely not only on presumptions and logical conclusions but above all on operational/tactical calculations, reliable information about the composition, location, and condition of enemy forces, and knowledge about their combat capabilities and methods of combat employment.

It is especially important to expose the enemy fire delivery system as fully and accurately as possible. Whereas in the years of the Great Patriotic War, it was enough to locate 60 percent to 65 percent of targets for a successful breakthrough of the enemy defense, today reconnaissance should detect at least 75 percent to 80 percent of targets, including 100 percent of priority targets (nuclear weapons, precision guided weapons, missile systems, and troops and weapons command and control posts). The importance of the full development of the enemy force is predetermined by the greatly increased effectiveness of weapon systems. Without establishing the exact location of the latter, it is impossible to destroy or neutralize them.

Exceptionally high requirements are set for target acquisition accuracy. Thus, in the target reconnaissance zone, target acquisition error for tube artillery (in the experience of recent local wars and armed conflicts) was 30 meters to 40 meters, rocket artillery 50 meters to 70 meters, and precision guided weapon systems 80 meters to 250 meters. In the global reconnaissance zone, target acquisition error in areas of responsibility of large combined-arms units was 500 meters to 1,000 meters and of units, 100 meters to 250 meters. The reliability of intelligence information was not less than 80 percent to 90 percent, which ensured well-grounded situation-based conclusions and selection of real (as opposed to decoy) targets.

Today, new methods of reconnaissance have advanced considerably. Reconnaissance by spaceborne assets is especially effective. Spaceborne assets are the pivot of the entire technical reconnaissance and in the majority of cases the only source of regular intelligence information regardless of the time of day, weather conditions, or the location of enemy targets.

The experience in the two military campaigns in Chechnya shows that mastering the art of organization and conduct of reconnaissance by operational commanders and headquarters staffs and enhancing the efficiency of reconnaissance officers and combat training of reconnaissance unit personnel is key to the effectiveness of reconnaissance. Rational planning and coherent organization of reconnaissance help enhance its effectiveness by approximately one-third. At the same time, it is necessary to improve the technical assets of reconnaissance, upgrading their quality characteristics, especially in ensuring the timely detection of mobile small targets and accurate target acquisition. It is essential to make a wider use of computer based facilities so as to automate all reconnaissance-cycle processes, from data acquisition to data presentation, as well as to create new, advanced technical assets for gathering, processing, and transferring intelligence information. The “reconnaissance/effective engagement” cycle does not require an accumulation of target data but their immediate use by fire delivery assets.


The need for combat security as a form of support emerged from time immemorial. In ancient times, when combat action was short-lived, the main form of security was local and flank security. As combat became more sophisticated, however, the need arose for combat security and on the march, for security during movement. In force deployment, security at the halt began to be organized.

During World War I, the appearance of aviation on the battlefield was accompanied by, along with ground, air security whose development is connected with intensive modernization of aviation technology. At the initial period of the war, the main types of aircraft had relatively low combat characteristics. But by the end of the war, the speed and effective range of combat aircraft increased considerably. As a result, aviation became a formidable battlefield asset.

Initially, the air security service was tasked with preventing surprise attack by enemy aviation. But already in the course of the war, it became necessary not only to protect but also to defend troops against an air enemy. So air security gradually turned into air defense. It required the creation of special antiaircraft artillery and antiaircraft artillery batteries.

During the Civil War, the basic principles of air security were established in the 1918 Field Manual of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (RKKA), saying in particular that special antiaircraft artillery batteries were assigned to fight the enemy force and in their absence, batteries from combined-arms artillery. After the Civil War, methods of air security (defense) developed under the impact of intensive modernization of aviation. The latter began to be seen as a force capable of making a decisive impact on the course of combat. In light of that, the functions of air security were reviewed. In the 1929 RKKA Field Manual, the term “air security” was replaced by the term “air defense,” which came to be seen as a form of combat support.

In the 1933-1941 period, the Red Army saw a major improvement in air defense methods and further development of antiaircraft systems, which was predetermined by a rapid advancement of aviation technology.

The Great Patriotic War became a rigorous test for the air defense system. Prewar views of air defense had to be revised.

The war experience showed that methods and procedure of preparation and conduct of air defense engagement were highly dynamic, depending on tactics used by enemy aviation, and the combat capabilities of weapon systems, including antiaircraft artillery, as well as command and control of these weapons.

As far as air defense is concerned, in contemporary conditions, judging by its role and functions in a combined-arms operation, there is good reason to say that it has outgrown the bounds of combat support, becoming an inalienable part of combat.

Antitank defense has undergone similar evolution. Initially, when, in World War I, tanks had yet to become a common combat asset, troops were tasked with organizing surveillance of their appearance in combat, providing timely warning to front-line units. At the initial stage, the only means of protecting infantry from tanks was the use of natural obstacles and terrain features, building artificial obstacles and personnel shelters. In the subsequent period, general purpose artillery became the main means of engaging enemy tanks, accounting for up to 98 percent of disabled tanks.

After World War I and especially during World War II, AT defense continued to improve.

Still, despite the growing importance of AT defense as part of combat action, for a very long time it was regarded as but a form of combat support. That was due to the fact that the AT defense system was in a certain way isolated from the general defense system. The situation turned around in the postwar period, when rifle divisions were reorganized as motorized rifle divisions. The number of tanks and various AT assets as part of their T/O composition increased considerably. This meant that the AT defense system became an organic element of combat.

As follows from the aforementioned, the essence of combat security, as well as of air and AT security that at one time was part of it, underwent a complex evolution under the impact of the development of weapon systems during the course of world wars. At the contemporary stage, this process continues just as intensively. The increasing role of the surprise factor in combat, the growing effectiveness of reconnaissance assets in foreign militaries, and their mounting capabilities in using air assault forces, air-mobile formations, and ranger units further enhance the role of all forms of security (flank security, combat security, security during movement, security at the halt, antiaircraft and air assault and amphibious landing security), expanding its functions. At the same time, the methods of their performance are becoming increasingly complex.

In modern warfare, security and protection services are designed not only to perform passive tasks, but also to conduct active operations, destroying the enemy’s reconnaissance and hit-and-run units. Oftentimes there is a need to detail large forces to this end, maintaining them in constant combat readiness.

Security organization is an ongoing function. It is performed not only in the course of combat but also as part of the daily activity of troops in wartime regardless of their location or distance from the front line since not only tactical and operational but also strategic hinterland are areas of active confrontation in contemporary conditions. In broader terms, security includes such tasks as reconnaissance (detection) of infiltrating units, air assault forces, air-mobile formations, reconnaissance and hit-and-run detachments of enemy forces; warning friendly troops about the possible danger of attack; active operations to prevent penetration of enemy forces into an area of deployment of friendly forces, giving them time and conditions for combat deployment and engagement with enemy forces.

The following is key to successful organization of security: correct situation assessment; identification of the most dangerous sectors of possible penetration by enemy forces; establishing an optimal configuration of security assets and their expedient deployment; ensuring concealment and deception of action; rapid reaction to enemy action; and creation of an effective system ensuring early warning about the threat of attack.

Protection of Troops

Before considering this matter, it should be noted that neither the field manuals now in effect or their revised drafts make any reference to this form of combat support. There is radiation protection and CW and BW defense, but, as will be shown below, it is expedient to call this form of combat support “troop protection.”

Protection of troops is designed to maintain their operational effectiveness throughout the time it takes to perform their combat mission. This goal was attained differently in different periods of the evolution of the military. In the nonfirearms period, the principal task was to ensure individual defense of a warrior and his horse, which required appropriate protection gear: shield, hauberk, body armor, etc. The appearance of firearms necessitated, along with the improvement of protection gear, corresponding tactics (e.g., extended order) so as to minimize losses from enemy fire. Engineer organization–all sorts of fortifications–began to play an increasingly important role as the effectiveness of artillery fire increased.

During World War I, protection measures became more complex as chemical agents (toxic war gases) began to be used. In the Russian army, fundamentals of toxic war gas protection were first reflected in the Gas Defense Regulations published in March 1917. They contained a characterization of chemical agents and provided recommendations for the organization of CW observation and warning, organization of positions and security of troops in the event of a CW attack, first aid to and evacuation of persons affected by toxic war gas, and provision of gas masks for personnel and animals.

The Red Army also gave high priority to CW defense organization. The Temporary Field Manual of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (1925) referred to CW defense organization as chemical defense. Characteristically, in addition to passive means of protection against chemical weapons (CW reconnaissance, observation, warning, provision of troops with protection gear, protection against toxic war gases, and neutralization of the effects of chemical weapons used by the adversary), the field manual also provided for active methods, aimed at thwarting the enemy’s CW attack.

Subsequent pre-war editions of the Field Manual of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army constantly clarified and elaborated these CW defense provisions.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, the term “chemical defense” [protivokhimicheskaya oborona] was replaced by the term “chemical protection” [protivokhimicheskaya zashchita]. Its main functions were to protect troops against chemical agents and provide conditions ensuring the performance of specific combat missions. Various chemical protection activities were clarified and expanded accordingly. Chemical protection was classified as a special form of combat support.

The emergence of nuclear weapons and the development of biological (bacteriological) and chemical weapons in post-war years necessitated a concentration of efforts on comprehensive protection against these types of mass destruction weapons. Formulated in the 1960s, the concept of troop protection against weapons of mass destruction, however, does not reflect the changes that have occurred in the weapon systems and views on their combat employment as well as in the character and methods of warfare.

Today, it is necessary to protect troops not only against weapons of mass destruction but also against all types of weapons in service with foreign militaries, including new, advanced weapon systems (weapons based on new physical and other principles) as well as against hazardous natural and man-made effects originating from impacts on the environment and industrial and other installations.

It becomes clear that the impact of all enemy weapons cannot be effectively minimized only by improving individual and collective protection gear and technique. To this end, it is necessary also to improve tactical activities: timely detect enemy preparations for the use of weapons of mass destruction or precision guided weapons; search for optimal methods of force disposition in the defense and on the offensive; improve methods of countering the enemy’s precision guided weapons; effectively counter its reconnaissance; and use all available concealment and natural cover. It is important that the level of protection of troops fully correspond to the character of their combat missions and the situation on the ground while protection activities be conducted continually and effectively throughout a combat operation in concert with other combat support activities.

In the past decade, priority in upgrading and modernization of conventional weapons has been given to precision guided weapons, especially rocket and missile complexes, which sets a number of new demands on the organization of battle force protection. The search for ways of improving it is proceeding along different lines. There are three main lines. First, detection and effective engagement of rocket and missile systems; second, upgrading methods of combat operation by subunits; and third, enhancing the effectiveness of engineer activities and of individual and collective protection gear. It is noteworthy that protection against precision guided and other types of weapons is comprised of both passive and active measures.

The most effective methods of ensuring the survivability and protection of troops are: preventing the use of precision guided and other weapons by the adversary; preemptive engagement, seizure (disablement) of elements thereof; EW suppression of their automated command and control systems, and reconnaissance denial action. This can be achieved through effective organization of reconnaissance, provision of reconnaissance and intelligence agencies with modern means of detecting missile systems, accurate determination of their coordinates, and timely data transfer to command and control centers in real time.

Protection against precision guided weapons is necessitated by the substantial changes that have occurred in subunit tactics. It is necessary to change force disposition considerably, ensure rapid dispersal and maneuver, use all available concealment and natural cover, ensure quick development of positions on the ground, and effectively counter enemy reconnaissance, especially electronic, radar, and infrared reconnaissance, and reconnaissance by spaceborne assets. It is important to widely use deception, imitation, and concealment, including dummies and decoys, and organize firm air defense.

Fortification of positions and areas is among the most effective measures to protect against precision guided weapons, minimizing a target’s radar echoing areas.

In deployment areas (in assembly, concentration and staging areas or at rest), in the interest of concealing subunits against aerial reconnaissance and reconnaissance by spaceborne assets, and minimizing the impact of precision guided weapons, it is necessary to use all available concealment and natural cover, deploying troops in radar blind areas, in particular, using terrain irregularities, forested and built-up areas.

In the process of troop movement, in the interest of concealing against the enemy’s reconnaissance facilities and minimizing possible damage to troops, it is advisable to use all available concealment and natural cover, choose movement routes by taking into account radar blind areas, concealing and camouflaging the transport movement of weapons and equipment on open sections of the route, and using both T/O and indigenous, locally available materials.

Summing up the aforementioned, it should be noted that the main tasks of troop protection in combat are: to prevent surprise massive nuclear, conventional, and other strikes and other dangerous impacts; minimize damage from strikes and other dangerous impacts; assess the damage caused by enemy fire and other dangerous impacts; and neutralize the damage caused by enemy fire and other dangerous impacts.

Electronic Warfare

Electronic warfare (EW) as a form of combat support emerged early in the 20th century following the introduction of radio communication in the army and navy. Almost at the same time as radio communications intelligence, communications jamming began to be used. The first instance of radio communications intelligence and communications jamming was recorded in the Russo-Japanese War, in 1904.

The role of EW grew in proportion to the provision of the armed forces with electronic equipment. During the century that has passed since the Russo-Japanese War, radio electronic equipment has become a major component of many weapon systems, combat hardware, and automated intelligence and command and control facilities. This means that the issue and transfer of orders and commands; the gathering of data on the enemy; the detection, identification, and determination of target coordinates and aiming and guidance, and navigation support–all of this can be disrupted by impacting on radio communications, radio detection and ranging, radio navigation, radio remote control, television, optical-electronic and hydroacoustic equipment, thus disrupting the enemy’s command and control system and preventing it from making an effective use of its combat capability.

In the course of two world wars as well as modern local wars and armed conflicts, EW has turned from a passive into an active offensive asset, equivalent in its combat (operational) effectiveness to fire delivery. In contemporary conditions, the classic fire delivery-strike-maneuver triad no longer reflects the essence of combat. It needs to be enlarged with “EW strike” and “EW operations.” By now an effective, proven EW system has evolved as an aggregate of measures and activities by troops in using special radio-electronic equipment and tactical and technical facilities to detect and suppress the enemy’s electronic command and control systems as well as to ensure electronic protection of analogous command and control systems of one’s troops against damage and destruction, and to counter the enemy’s technical reconnaissance.

EW showed its effectiveness in the course of World War II. Beginning in the summer of 1943, British and U.S. bomber aviation successfully jammed, both passively and actively, Nazi antiaircraft radar aiming and guidance systems. At the same time, deception jamming was used in the course of combat operations while radar and command and communication facilities were effectively engaged by aviation and artillery. The use of deception jamming lessened the effectiveness of Nazi antiaircraft artillery fire.

In postwar years, many states intensified their research programs to build new EW systems and develop new EW forms and methods.

Today EW is a major component of information warfare. It encompasses the entire sphere of military activity, standing out in a great diversity of forms, methods, and facilities used as well as in their long lasting effect. The main principle of EW at outbreak of war is the element of surprise and concentration of efforts on disrupting the enemy command and control system. Thus, the majority of armed conflicts began with a massive and complex use of EW assets, synchronized in time and place with action by strike aviation to make it as difficult as possible for the enemy to detect, track, and engage aerial targets. Deception and concealment of air operations was based on the use of decoys and communications jamming.

Analysis of local wars and armed conflicts shows that the role of EW in combat is constantly growing while without disrupting enemy command and control and ensuring the protection of one’s command and control facilities it is impossible to effectively perform combat missions today. There is a marked trend to use unconventional and therefore, unexpected methods of employing EW assets and new EW forms and methods. Military theory is faced with the task of searching for effective and reliable methods of attaining superiority on the air and developing EW combat tactics in concert with other arms and branches of service. In the practical sphere, it is necessary to master the art of the combat employment of EW assets to the degree possible, enhancing their combat readiness and capabilities.

Tactical Concealment and Deception

Camouflage, concealment, and deception is an important component of combat support. It is an aggregate of measures to deceive the adversary regarding the presence and disposition of troops (forces), military vehicles and installations (targets), and their status and condition, combat readiness, and actions. It helps achieve the element of surprise, preserve the operational effectiveness of troops, and enhance their protection and survivability.

Combat experience shows that the conduct of camouflage, concealment, and deception activities requires considerable proficiency and skill on the part of commanders, headquarters staffs, and troops. In the first months of the Great Patriotic War, there were some serious shortfalls in that respect. Commanders and headquarters staffs oftentimes regarded camouflage, concealment, and deception as a secondary matter, giving insufficient priority to its planning and conduct. These shortfalls were subsequently rectified.

Camouflage, concealment, and deception measures are rather labor intensive. Good results are achieved only when camouflage, concealment, and deception measures are implemented resolutely, promptly, efficiently, continually, and in a diverse, convincing, and plausible manner, taking into account the capabilities of all of the adversary’s intelligence and reconnaissance assets.

It is important to bear in mind that modern reconnaissance assets, especially reconnaissance by spaceborne assets, not only accurately detect the presence of a particular target but also determine its operational status. A common telltale sign is a large number of radio frequency emission facilities in units and subunits as well as large pieces of combat hardware and equipment. So, to ensure their concealment, it is necessary to use radio scattering, radar absorbing, and heat reflecting coating as well as screens and jammers. Experience shows that radio scattering screens almost halve the probability of target detection by radar reconnaissance on open terrain. Heat reflecting coating (screens) lessen the likelihood of tank detection by infrared reconnaissance by up to three times. Deployment of weapons and combat hardware in emplacements reduces the probability of their detection two to three times. To defend against precision guided weapons, it is recommended to use decoy flares disabling homing munitions. To this end, they must be more contrastive than the target that they protect.

The use of smoke producing munitions and equipment has a considerable camouflage, concealment, and deception effect. But their use for camouflage, concealment, and deception purposes must be thoroughly organized. A smoke screen should be at least one and a half to two times as large as the target it protects while the number of smoke screens should be two to three times more than the number of company (battery) type targets.

Decoy actions hold an important place within the system of camouflage, concealment, and deception measures. The main methods of decoy actions are: deceiving the adversary regarding the character of forthcoming combat operations, direction/sector/axis of the main attack (area of concentration of principal efforts) and drawing off the enemy’s forces to the sector where the feint is executed. It is essential that personnel conducting decoy action not know its true purpose. Feints are among the most active methods of concealment, secrecy, simulation, and deliberate deception. They require diversion of considerable assets from performance of principal tasks.

Along with decoy actions, a substantial effect can be produced by simulation, which consists in deceiving the adversary by creating false targets, dummies, and decoys. Simulation is designed to deliberately display giveaway signs of military presence and activity by creating false targets and troops concentration areas in order to mislead the adversary about the situation on the ground. To mislead the enemy as to the direction of the main strike, staging areas, forward movement, and second echelon (reserves) deployment lines can be simulated. It is expedient to simulate concentration of combat hardware and equipment with radar reflectors and columns on the march with moving target imitators. Thermal revealing signs should be simulated by heat flares.

Simulation is a technically complex activity requiring deployment of considerable assets as well as considerable skills. Inept simulation can cause harm, reveal the true objectives, and attract the adversary’s attention.

Command and control centers must be concealed and camouflaged especially thoroughly. This is achieved by deploying them in terrain irregularities and forest areas, using both T/O and improvised camouflage and concealment materials, and imposing certain restrictions on the operation of radio stations. Routes for the movement of command and control centers are chosen by taking into account radar blind areas. On open terrain, vertical radio scattering and radar absorbing screens are set up. It is recommended to move along such sections at maximum speed and with an enlarged distance between the convoy vehicles. A major role in lessening enemy impacts on command and control facilities is played by thorough engineer organization, the use of infrared screens with heat reflecting coating and smoke producing munitions and equipment, and jamming the enemy’s radar reconnaissance facilities.

Concealment and deception measures include dissemination of false information. Unlike simulation, dissemination of false information requires smaller material outlays. Dissemination of false information is a mode of operational (strategic) camouflage, concealment and deception, consisting in the deliberate dissemination of false information about one’s troops (forces), their disposition, strength, armament, fighting efficiency, tactical plants, etc., for the purpose of deceiving the enemy. Various means of communications, publications, radio and TV broadcasts, etc. are employed for such purposes. Deception and dissemination of false information are conducted by the following methods: dissemination of false information via existing or specially created communication channels designed to be intercepted by the adversary; transfer of false “secret” documents by special procedure; dissemination of false information among subunits as well as local residents via rumors; deliberate leaking of false information; deployment of agents behind enemy lines; the sending back of prisoners with false information, etc.

The aggregate of camouflage, concealment and deception measures is realized in the deception plan that can be worked out both in offensive and defensive combat. In defense, it is recommended to show decoy targets in the form of strongholds (weapon emplacements, command and control centers, logistic installations, etc.) and put up screens and corner reflectors in order to conceal from the adversary the defense system, the areas of concentration of principal efforts, and the system of fire delivery and obstacles.

In offensive combat, a complex of measures is envisioned to deceive the adversary: setting up false areas of concentration of troops, simulation of their forward movement to attack in a false direction, designation of an area of simulated commitment of reserves, etc.

Thus, today there is a pressing need to develop new and improve the existing methods of camouflage, concealment, and deception, improving personnel training in camouflage, concealment, and deception techniques, including all-round countering of various forms of reconnaissance by the adversary, teaching military servicemen to show creative initiative and use military stratagem to mislead the adversary.

(Concluded in the next installment)

COPYRIGHT 2003 East View Publications

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group