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Nov 13 2020

eFP in exercise mode: the delaying battle

Rukla, Lithuania - In early October, the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Lithuania conducted a live training exercise at the Gaižiŭnai training area. According to a complex scenario, the opposite force attacked with its main battle tanks across the open terrain. Friendly tanks were waiting in their positions to repel the attack with the help of a minefield. In the meantime, the second part of the exercise begun back in the forest: there, off-route mines are employed to halt the enemy’s attack.

The exercise is based on the following premise: The enemy attacks from the north. The open terrain is ideally suited for a swift tank attack. Friendly forces, therefore, are preparing to delay or – at best – stop the enemy's advance. With support from the engineers, they take up their positions where the main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles will be waiting for the action to begin. In order to delay the enemy's advance across the open terrain, a minefield has been laid.

It’s go time: Friendly reconnaissance elements report that the adversary attacks as was expected. First, enemy reconnaissance forces scout the terrain. They do not remain undetected. Before the enemy forces are able to spot the minefield, they are engaged from well concealed positions. Having lost its “eyes” on the ground, the enemy attacks with its main forces. Enemy main battle tanks emerge from their covered positions and charge across the open terrain. One of the tanks hits a mine and breaks down. The other tanks are engaged by friendly main battle tanks. This proves successful. The enemy is prevented from crossing the open terrain. For now, the attack has ground to a halt.

A soldier engages an enemy tank 
Photo by Bundeswehr/Christian Kuhrt
A mine stops an enemy main battle tank in its tracks   
Photo by Bundeswehr/Kurt Basler

However, the danger is not over yet. Having failed to attain its objective, the enemy opts to bypass the friendly forces via a route through wooded terrain. Friendly reconnaissance reports warn of an imminent enemy attack with infantry fighting vehicles. An attack at this location was fortunately expected: the enemy forces will run into a well-prepared defence. Machine gun positions were set up in suitable locations, and soldiers armed with anti-tank weapons take up their positions along a forest trail on the flank of the attacking forces. Enemy infantry fighting vehicles are expected to pass by there. In addition, the trail was blocked using off-route mines. Events unfold as expected: The enemy attacks with its infantry fighting vehicles. The first vehicle hits a mine and blocks the trail. The following vehicles have no chance to evade the obstacle and are immediately attacked and taken under fire.

Instead of giving up, however, the enemy is planning its next attack with ground forces. Under the cover of artillery fire, enemy forces are to approach friendly positions. Friendly forces, in turn, employ infantry fighting vehicles after a firefight. The enemy removes its damaged vehicles from the forest trail and continues its attack. This is an opportunity for the defensive forces to showcase their flexibility: they change their method of fighting and with their infantry fighting vehicles withdraw to the next phase line. Captain Florian S., the Commander of 1st Battle Company, was extremely satisfied with the exercise planned by his company:

The exercise was a success since our forces stopped the enemy and sustained no casualties.

Lieutenant Colonel Peer Papenbroock, the Commander of the Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup, shared this positive assessment: “This exercise gave us the possibility to successfully demonstrate the flexible conduct of operations in a delaying battle. This leaves us well prepared for future exercises of the Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Lithuania.

Story by Christian Kuhrt/Bundeswehr

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