2-320. Special purpose attacks are ambush, counterattack, demonstration, feint, raid, and spoiling attack. (Refer to ADRP 3-90 for more information.) The commander’s intent and METT-TC determine which special purpose attacks to employ. Each attack can be conducted as either a hasty or a deliberate operation. The commander’s intent and METT-TC determine the specific attack form. As subordinate attack tasks, they share many of the planning, preparation, and execution considerations of attack. Demonstrations and feints, while forms of attack, also are associated with military deception operations. (Refer to FM 3-13 for more information.)

Watch the video below to learn more about how force multipliers assist special purpose attacks.


2-321. An ambush is an assault by fire or other destructive means from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy. An ambush stops, denies, or destroys enemy forces by maximizing the element of surprise. Ambushes can employ direct fire systems as well as other destructive means, such as command-detonated mines, indirect fires, and supporting nonlethal effects. They may include an assault to close with and destroy enemy forces. In an ambush, ground objectives do not have to be seized and held.

2-322. The three forms of ambush are point, area, and antiarmor ambush. In a point ambush, a unit deploys to attack a single kill zone. In an area ambush, a unit deploys into two or more related point ambushes. Units smaller than a platoon normally do not conduct an area ambush.

Watch the video below to learn more about an Ambush

2-323. A typical ambush is organized into three elements: assault, support, and security. The assault element fires into the kill zone. Its goal is to destroy the enemy force. When used, the assault force attacks into and clears the kill zone. It also may be assigned additional tasks, to include searching for items of intelligence value, capturing prisoners, photographing new types of equipment and when unable to take enemy equipment, completing the destruction of enemy equipment to avoid its immediate reuse. The support element supports the assault element by firing into and around the kill zone, and it provides the ambush’s primary killing power. The support element attempts to destroy the majority of enemy combat power before the assault element moves into the objective or kill zone. The security element isolates the kill zone, provides early warning of arrival of all enemy relief forces, and provides security for the assault and support elements. It secures the objective rally point (ORP) and blocks enemy avenues of approach into and out of the ambush site, which prevents the enemy from entering or leaving. (Refer to chapter 6 this publication for detailed discussion.)


2-324. A counterattack is an attack by part or all of a defending force against an enemy attacking force, for such specific purposes as regaining ground lost or cutting off or destroying enemy advance units. The general objective is to deny the enemy his goal in attacking. The leader directs a counterattack normally conducted from a defensive posture, to defeat or destroy enemy forces, exploit an enemy weakness such as an exposed flank, or to regain control of terrain and facilities after an enemy success. A unit conducts a counterattack to seize the initiative from the enemy through offensive action. A counterattacking force maneuvers to isolate and destroy a designated enemy force. It can be an assault by fire into an engagement area to defeat or destroy an enemy force, restore the original position, or block an enemy penetration. Once launched, the counterattack normally becomes a decisive operation for the leader conducting the counterattack.

2-325. To be decisive, the counterattack occurs when the enemy is overextended, dispersed, and disorganized during his attack. All counterattacks should be rehearsed in the same conditions they will be conducted. Careful consideration is given to the event triggering the counterattack. Once committed, the counterattack force conducts the decisive operation.


2-326. In military deception, a demonstration is a show of force in an area where a decision is not sought but made to deceive a threat. It is similar to a feint, but no actual contact with the threat is intended.


2-327. A feint is an attack used to deceive the enemy as to the location or time of the actual decisive operation. Forces conducting a feint seek direct fire contact with the enemy but avoid decisive engagement. As in the demonstration, leader use feints in conjunction with other military deception activities.


2-328. A raid is a limited-objective, deliberate operation entailing swift penetration of hostile terrain. A raid is not intended to hold territory; and it requires detailed intelligence, preparation, and planning. The Infantry platoon and squad conducts raids as part of a larger force to accomplish a number of missions, including the following -

  • Capture prisoners, installations, and/or enemy materiel.
  • Capture or destroy specific enemy command and control locations.
  • Destroy enemy materiel or installations.
  • Obtain information concerning enemy locations, dispositions, strength, intentions, or methods of operation.
  • Confuse the enemy or disrupt his plans.
  • Liberate friendly personnel.
Example of a Raid

Example of a Raid


2-329. A spoiling attack is a tactical maneuver employed to impair a hostile attack while the enemy is in the process of forming or assembling for an attack. The spoiling attack usually employs heavy, attack helicopter, or fire support elements to attack on enemy assembly positions in front of a main line of resistance or battle position.

2-330. The objective of a spoiling attack is to disrupt the enemy’s offensive capabilities and timelines while destroying targeted enemy personnel and equipment, not to secure terrain and other physical objectives. Two conditions must be met to conduct a survivable spoiling attack ─

  • The spoiling attack’s objective must be obtainable before the enemy being able to respond to the attack in a synchronized and coordinated manner.
  • The force conducting the spoiling attack must be prevented from becoming over extended.

2-331. Infantry forces conduct a spoiling attack whenever possible during friendly defensive missions to strike an enemy force while it is in AA or attack positions preparing for its own offensive mission or is stopped temporarily.


2-332. Army electronic warfare operations seek to enable the land force commander to support unified land operations through decisive action. Decisive action consists of the simultaneous combination of offense, defense, and stability or defense support of civil authorities appropriate to the mission and environment. The central idea of unified land operations is to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative to gain and maintain a position of relative advantage in sustained land operations in order to create the conditions for favorable conflict resolution.

2-333. The foundation of unified land operations is built on initiative, decisive action, and mission command—linked and nested through purposeful and simultaneous execution of both combined arms maneuver and wide area security—to achieve the commander’s intent and desired end state. Appropriately applied, electronic warfare enables successful unified land operations. Commanders and staffs determine which resident and joint force electronic warfare capabilities to use in support of each element of decisive action. As they apply the appropriate level of electronic warfare effort to support these elements, commanders can seize, retain, and exploit the initiative within the electromagnetic environment.

2-334. Once a commander can seize, retain, and exploit the initiative within the electromagnetic environment, then control becomes possible. Commanders plan, prepare, execute, and assess electronic warfare operations to control the electromagnetic spectrum.

2-335. To exercise electromagnetic spectrum control commanders effectively apply and integrate electronic warfare operations across the warfighting functions: mission command, movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment, and protection.

Read the following vignette to learn more about Electronic Warfare.SELECT HERE

Army Looks to Blend Cyber, Electronic Warfare Capabilities on Battlefield

By Kristen Kushlyama

Electronic Warfare

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 29, 2013) -- As new technologies emerge and new cyber and electronic warfare threats plague Soldiers in the field, U.S. Army scientists and engineers continue to define next-generation protocols and system architectures to help develop technology capabilities to combat these threats in an integrated and expedited fashion.

As part of the Integrated Cyber and Electronic Warfare, or ICE, program, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Communications-Electronics Center, known as CERDEC, researches the technologies, standards and architectures to support the use of common mechanisms used for the rapid development and integration of third-party cyber and electronic warfare, or EW, capabilities.

"Currently, within cyber and EW disciplines there are different supporting force structures and users equipped with disparate tools, capabilities and frameworks," said Paul Robb Jr., chief of CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate's Cyber Technology Branch.

"Under the ICE program, we look to define common data contexts and software control mechanisms to allow these existing frameworks to communicate in a manner that would support the concurrent leveraging of available tactical capabilities based on which asset on the battlefield provides the best projected military outcome at a particular point in time," said Robb.

The boundaries between traditional cyber threats, such as someone hacking a laptop through the Internet, and traditional EW threats, such as radio-controlled improvised explosive devices that use the electromagnetic spectrum, have blurred, allowing EW systems to access the data stream to combat EW threats, according to Giorgio Bertoli, senior engineer of CERDEC I2WD's Cyber/Offensive Operations Division.

Additionally, significant technological advancements including a trend towards wireless in commercial applications and military systems have occurred over the last decade, said Bertoli.

"This blending of networks and systems, known as convergence, will continue and with it come significant implications as to how the Army must fight in the cyber environment of today and tomorrow," said Bertoli.

"The concept of technology convergence originated as a means to describe the amalgamation of traditional wired versus wireless commercial services and applications, but has recently evolved to also include global technology trends and U.S. Army operational connotations -- specifically in the context of converging cyber and EW operations," said Bertoli. The Army finds itself in a unique position to help mitigate adverse outcomes due to this convergence trend.

"Post-force deployment, the Army has the vast majority of sensors and EW assets on the tactical battlefield compared to any other service or organization, posing both risks and opportunities. Our military's reliance on COTS [commercial-of-the-shelf] systems and wireless communications presents a venue for our adversaries to attack. Conversely, the proximity and high density of receivers and transmitters that we deploy can be leveraged to enable both EW and cyber operations," said Bertoli.

"The ability to leverage both cyber and EW capabilities as an integrated system, acting as a force multiplier increasing the commander's situational awareness of the cyber electromagnetic environment, will improve the commander's ability to achieve desired operational effects," said Robb.

A paradigm shift in how the Army views system and technology development will further enhance CERDEC's ability to rapidly adapt to new cyber and EW threats.

"The biggest hindrance we have right now is not a technological one, it's an operational and policy one," said Bertoli. "The Army traditionally likes to build systems for a specific purpose - build a radio to be a radio, build an EW system to be an EW system, but these hardware systems today have significantly more inherent capabilities."

To demonstrate the concepts of multi-capability systems, CERDEC chose not to solely focus its science and technology efforts on researching solutions to address specific cyber and EW threats, but also to develop the architecture onto which scientists and engineers can rapidly develop and integrate new, more capable solutions.

"As an example, the World Wide Web has grown into an architecture that is so powerful your tech savvy 10-year-old can build a website -- and a pretty powerful one at that," said Bertoli. "The only reason this is possible is because there is a wealth of common tools, like web browsers and servers, and standards such as HTML or HTTP already in place for them to use."

"The ICE program is attempting to extend this model to the cyber and EW community by providing mechanisms to enable the leveraging of available tactical assets to support cyberspace operation mission sets. Early focus revolves around the development of augmented situation-awareness capabilities but will evolve to include the enabling of a multitude of cyberspace operations," said Bertoli.

ICE will provide the Army with common tools and standards for developing and integrating cyber and EW capabilities.

"Capabilities can be developed to combat EM (electromagnetic) and cyber threats individually, but this is neither time nor cost effective and simply will not scale in the long term. The domain is just too large and will only continue to expand," said Bertoli.

"In the end, we (CERDEC) believe this is the only way the Army will be able to keep pace with the anticipated technology advancements and rate of change related to cyberspace and the systems that comprise it," said Bertoli.

The Army acquisition community has also seen changes in the relationship between cyber and EW.

"Tactical EW systems and sensors provide for significant points of presence on the battlefield, and can be used for cyber situational awareness and as delivery platforms for precision cyber effects to provide a means of Electronic Counter Measures and Electronic Counter-Counter Measures, for instance," said Col. Joseph Dupont, program manager for EW under Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we must provide for a more integrated approach to cyber warfare, electronic warfare and electromagnetic operations to be successful in the future conduct of unified land operations," said Dupont.

CERDEC, as the Army's research and development experts in cyber and EW, works closely with the Program Executive Offices, the Army's Training and Doctrine Command and Army Cyber Command to shape operational concepts and doctrine by providing technical expertise regarding technically achievable solutions in the context of the tactical cyberspace operations and supporting materiel capabilities for the Army.

In addition to working with the Army's strategy and policy makers, CERDEC I2WD has tapped into its facilities and pre-existing expertise to further the ICE program.

CERDEC I2WD maintains state-of-the-art laboratories that support both closed and open-air testing facilities to provide relevant environment conditions to conduct research that provides a seamless cyber-electromagnetic environment with both wired and wireless modern communication infrastructure.

"We leverage these facilities and our inherent core competencies in cyber, EW and signals intelligence to engage with the Army and the community at large, both academia and industry partners, to collaborate on developing and integrating relevant technologies to achieve domain superiority in a changing environment," said Robb.

The fully-instrumented labs include commercial information assurance products and allow for in-depth experimentation while sustaining automated rapid network re-configuration technology and virtualization technologies to support scalable testing. Additionally, I2WD expands its potential environment by maintaining remote connections with external government sites, which also enables collaborative experiments.

The combination of these assets and expertise allows CERDEC to demonstrate achievable capability improvements related to cyber and EW convergence.

"During the next three years, the biggest thing we can do within the ICE effort is show the 'art of the possible' by providing technology demonstrations on both existing and experimental Army systems to provide concrete proof of the advantages such a capability can provide," said Bertoli.