Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 97

RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON Offset Drop Zone 15 – Lodgment 20 k m S Figure. Joint Forcible Entry by Airborne Assault, with the Reconnaissance Squadron Inserted on an Offset Drop Zone to Create a Screen Line strength. In this way, it improves the commander’s ability to avoid concentrations of enemy forces. While infantry battalions are organized, equipped, and trained for the close-in fight necessary to control a lodgment and prepare it for follow-on forces, the reconnaissance squadron is designed to operate within and behind enemy lines without becoming decisively engaged. During the assault phase, the infantry battalions will be, by necessity, focused on terrain. Conversely, a reconnaissance squadron will not be concerned with controlling terrain but rather with providing timely and accurate reporting for the joint force commander. To achieve this, while the main assault force masses on the lodgment, the reconnaissance squadron can insert on an offset drop zone simultaneously but outside the lodgment itself. This course of action, depicted graphically in the figure, would require two coordinated airborne assaults. Forcible entry “may include linkup and exploitation by ground maneuver from a separate location,” an option that provides the ground force commander with several benefits.16 By inserting the reconnaissance squadron onto a separate drop zone, the joint force commander enables the squadron to develop the situation beyond the lodgment so the joint force can achieve significant effects on enemy forces. Because a reconnaissance squadron can operate independently from the actions on the lodgment, the enemy may feel compelled to shift part of its MILITARY REVIEW  March-April 2016 “attention and effort away from actual assault objectives.” 17 The enemy then would be forced to choose between massing combat power against the actual lodgment and confronting the possibility of an additional lodgment being created by the squadron’s assault onto an offset drop zone—terrain the squadron would never intend to hold. The result would be that the enemy could not “mass decisive force to deny joint force assaults.”18 Meanwhile, as the enemy attempted to fix and finish the reconnaissance squadron—a challenging task given its design—the squadron would continue to provide timely information on enemy maneuvers without becoming decisively engaged. Information Dominance It is during the assault phase that information dominance is most critical to a commander’s decision-making process. As the joint force is most vulnerable during this phase, “effective indications and warnings, targeting support, and collection management of ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] assets to track enemy reaction to the assault and force protection are paramount concerns.”19 While these concerns represent considerable risks during the most critical phase of the operation, they can also be mitigated through employment of the reconnaissance squadron in a manner consistent with Army and joint doctrine. When properly 95