Line of Sight logo

Battle Group in Operations Primer

October 29, 2021

Reading Time: 9 min  


Soldier on the Radio

The following is a brief introduction to the roles, characteristics, limitations and combat power application of a battle group. Please refer to BGL-321-005/FP-001 – Battle Group in Operations for greater detail.


The Role of the Battle Group

The BG is the principal land tactical manoeuvre unit. It is normally part of a brigade but may be placed under the command of a higher formation for a specific mission (the divisional reserve as an example). The BG’s core missions are close combat and the destruction/disruption of the enemy through manoeuvre. It is optimized for FSO because of its broad range of capabilities, the modular nature of its structure and its scalability. It specializes in offensive and defensive operations, missions which require manoeuvre and the holding of ground. Support and additional service support elements may be attached as the superior commander deems necessary.

Characteristics of the Battle Group

The BG has the following characteristics:

Combined Arms

A combined-arms grouping, to be considered task-tailorable for a specific organization, requires the ability to regroup easily by day and night. It also requires common drills that allow for successful regrouping to occur as well as subsequent successful employment of the regrouped elements. The creation and employment of permanent structures—force groupings that are not capable of adjustment—are to be avoided as they lack the flexibility to respond to changes both to the mission and within the complex operating environment. The Army’s basic building block organizations are able to retain their flexibility because of their scalable and modular nature. Other arms subunits can also form groups.

Protected manoeuvre refers to the synergy achieved by having more than one manoeuvre arm within a combined-arms grouping. Thus, for example, while the infantry can manoeuvre on their own, the addition of armour support allows for a wider range of operations and greater probability of success on any mission. As with a company group, a battalion group can also be formed with other arms from other groups. Optimized is used to mean that the BG has been found to be the best compromise among various structural models. By contrast, specialized refers to a BG being specifically designed and highly skilled at the conduct of certain special activities, in this case, offensive and defensive operations.


The BG’s direct fire assets (armour and other direct fire support) are significant and precise in nature. When combined with better situational awareness (SA), the BG’s ability to employ coalition fires adds considerably to its overall capability. This normally includes an allocation of indirect fire elements.


The modern battlespace is expected to be much larger than traditionally viewed. The BG is mobile under all conditions and, consequently, is more flexible in its employment. It can also be easily supported by alternate means of transportation, including tactical aviation, and by mobility enhancement, like that provided by engineering assets.

Situational Awareness (SA)

As technology continues to evolve, so too does the BG. It is increasingly network enabled and has the ability to leverage networking technologies and human intelligence (HUMINT) to enhance SA both vertically and horizontally. This communications architecture has enabled the centralized command and decentralized control that has long been a goal. The BG will, with the implementation of successive command and control information system capability releases, use evolving technology and battle management to increase the rapidity with which it can plan and conduct operations.


Precision capabilities result in sustainment economies. In other words, lesser amounts of ammunition will be needed to affect targets.

Modular and Scalable

Modularity refers to the concept of adding or removing elements from a unit or formation, without significantly changing that unit or formation’s capability to successfully complete those tasks for which it is optimized. Scalability examines the ability of a unit or formation to handle complexity. That complexity could be the result of adding non-core elements to a unit or formation or it could be the result of the operating environment—operations within the joint or multinational environment as an example. The BG has four core components: the HQ, the integral CSS company as well as the infantry and armoured elements. The number and type of manoeuvre subunits can be adjusted to meet the conditions and mission. The remaining combat, CS and CSS components are added to the BG to provide it with the optimum balance of operational functions (Command, Sense, Act, Shield and Sustain) to allow it to effectively bridge the full range of tactical tasks within FSO.


Networked, sensor enabled and highly mobile, the BG can see first, understand quickly and execute rapidly. This, combined with training for FSO, will result in a highly agile formation.


The BG’s significant firepower, enhanced SA and tactical mobility will prove to be tactically decisive against all but peer opponent heavy enemy forces.

Limitations of the Battle Group

The BG has the following limitations:

Close Terrain

Mechanized forces have traditionally been constrained by close terrain, particularly urban areas, and this remains the case for the BG.


The firepower of the BG comes from its ability to access joint and coalition fire. Because long-range precision direct and precision indirect assets necessary to enable this tactical concept are not integral to the BG, this poses some limitations. COIN experiences in Afghanistan suggest that the kinetic ability of the Canadian BG is resulting in fewer requirements for its actual employment. In other words, more kinetic power on certain operations may result in less reliance upon its actual use.

Strategic Mobility

To achieve strategic responsiveness, the BG structure may be tailored to a less robust structure, resulting in the downgrading of some key capabilities. When a less robust structure is decided, missions and tasks should reflect the nature of the structure.

                                                                  Possible Battle Group Configuration

Applying Combat Power on Operations

At the BG level, combat power is manifested through tactical activities arranged within the battlespace. Three dynamic core functions—find, fix and strike (with exploit as an implied function)— of all activities contribute to the achievement of the BG CO’s desired objective.


A continuous function that occurs throughout the activity or operation. It includes not only the identification, location, tracking and assessment of targets, but also the development of cultural-based understanding of the enemy and the operational environment. At the BG level, the find function is largely carried out by ISTAR assets.


The function whereby an enemy is deprived of freedom of action, and therefore, the ability to manoeuvre is denied. Conversely, to fix an enemy allows friendly forces freedom of action to strike an enemy in a manner and place of their choosing. Deception and surprise are key to fixing an enemy. Fixing usually involves combat action against an enemy but can take other forms including, for example, presence patrols, roadblocks or vehicle checkpoints to fix an irregular enemy. Fixing can also take place on the psychological plane, usually through the conduct of information operations.


Achieved by attack and other offensive actions against the enemy. Tactical activities intended to strike at the enemy are normally carried out by manoeuvre elements but may encompass CS elements as well. As an example, a psychological operations (PSYOPS) activity could be undertaken by a PSYOPS team to help shape an enemy’s reaction on the battlefield.


Achieved through the seizure of an opportunity to achieve a higher commander’s objective or fulfil part of the intent directly. Exploitation relies upon effective recce, offensive action, initiative and a comprehensive understanding of a higher commander’s intent. At the same time, commanders must respect the constraints that have been placed upon them when considering such opportunities. Lastly, opportunities to exploit can occur at any time during finding, fixing or striking the enemy.

It is important to remember that the core functions can be executed by agencies other than the Army. For example, on combined operations, agencies for reconstruction or development could undertake activities to accomplish the fix function while the security forces provide the strike function. Commanders at all levels must ensure that the core functions are not undertaken in isolation and, instead, are properly coordinated within the JIMP environment.


Image of College Entrance used for a section break.

Related Content

preview title
Search All Content

Page details

Date modified: