Infantry Drills

3-81: Follow Through

Previous: 3-79: Maneuver

3-81. The purpose of the defense is to retain terrain and create conditions for a
counteroffensive regaining the initiative. The area defense does this by causing the enemy to sustain unacceptable losses short of all decisive objectives. An area defense allows the leader transition to an attack. An area defense also could result in a stalemate with both forces left in contact with each other. Finally, it could result in the defender being overcome by the enemy attack and needing to transition to a retrograde. All decisions to withdraw must take into account the current situation in adjacent defensive areas. Only the leader who ordered the defense can designate a new forward edge of the battle area or authorize a retrograde.

3-82. The intent of the defense is creating the opportunity to transition to the offense. In a mobile defense, a transitional opportunity generally results from the success of the striking force’s attack. The leader exploits success and attempts to establish conditions for a pursuit if the result of the leader’s assessment of the striking force’s attack shows there are opportunities for future offensive missions. If the conduct of the mobile defense is unsuccessful and enemy retains the initiative, the leader must either reestablish a viable defense or conduct a retrograde.

Next: 3-83: Priority of Work

Go Back To: U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad