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Enhanced Company Operations in High Intensity Combat: Can Preparations for Irregular War Enhance Capabilities for High Intensity Combat?

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Master's thesis

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The United States has recently demonstrated its ability to dominate the conventional militaries of adversary nation states. This in addition to the prevalence of failing nation state governments, the rise of non-state actors, and their relative success in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggest that future conflicts are most likely to be irregular conflicts. However, while facing an irregular threat is most likely, the threat of facing conventional militaries is arguably more dangerous. Therefore, Marine Corps and Department of Defense leaders are faced with the dilemma of better preparing the force for irregular threats without degrading capabilities in conventional warfare. Counterinsurgency operations have shown the necessity of distributing the force in support of clear and hold tactics. Enhanced Company Operations facilitates distributing the force by providing enhanced command and control, fire support, and logistics capabilities to the rifle company. These capabilities effectively enable the rifle company to replace the infantry battalion as the smallest unit capable of independent operations. However, as history indicates high intensity engagements can take place in the midst of low intensity operations. While the ECO concept is of obvious utility in irregular warfare, Operation AL FAJR, the November 2004 battle of Al Fallujah, suggests that the capabilities afforded by the concept also bring greater lethality and survivability to our forces engaged in high intensity combat. The ad-hoc communications and command and control assets used to great effect by units in the operation formed the basis of the current ECO table of equipment, and facilitated the devastating use of precision guided munitions to destroy enemy forces.

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  • Unconventional Warfare

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