Military Symbols Study Guide

By: CPT James Pistell

Posted on: 06SEP2020

Revised: 07SEP2020

Tactical Mission Tasks Fundamentals

Tactical Mission Tasks are a task is a clearly defined and measurable activity accomplished by individuals or organizations. A tactical mission task is a specific activity performed by a unit while executing a form of tactical operation or form of maneuver. A tactical mission task may be expressed as either an action by a friendly force or an effect on an enemy force (FM 3-90-1). The tactical mission tasks describe the results or effects the commanders want to achieve.

Table of Contents

  • Tactical Mission Tasks
  • Actions by Friendly Forces
  • Effects on Enemy Forces

Symbols for Tactical Mission Tasks

Tactical mission task symbols can be used with unit symbols, but do not have modifiers. Tactical mission task symbols are used in course of action sketches, synchronization matrices, and maneuver sketches. They do not replace any part of the operation order. Tactical mission task symbols are sized to accommodate the scale of the display or map being used.


Tactical Mission Tasks - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Ambush

Description: An attack by fire or other destructive means from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Attack by Fire

Description: A tactical mission task in which a commander uses direct fires, supported by indirect fires, to engage an enemy force without closing with the enemy to destroy, suppress, fix, or deceive that enemy.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Breach

Description: A tactical mission task in which the unit employs all available means to break through or establish a passage through an enemy defense, obstacle, minefield, or fortification.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Bypass

Description: A tactical mission task in which the commander directs the unit to maneuver around an obstacle, position, or enemy force to maintain the momentum of the operation while deliberately avoiding combat with an enemy force.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Clear

Description: A tactical mission task that requires the commander to remove all enemy forces and eliminate organized resistance within an assigned area.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Disengage

Description: A tactical mission task where a commander has the unit break contact with the enemy to allow the conduct of another mission or to avoid decisive engagement.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Exfiltrate

Description: A tactical mission task where a commander removes Soldiers or units from areas under enemy control by stealth, deception, surprise, or clandestine means.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Follow and Assume

Description: A tactical mission task in which a second committed force follows a force conducting an offensive task and is prepared to continue the mission if the lead force is fixed, attrited, or unable to continue.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Follow and Support

Description: A tactical mission task in which a committed force follows and supports a lead force conducting an offensive task.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Occupy

Description: A tactical mission task that involves a force moving a friendly force into an area so that it can control that area. Both the force’s movement to and occupation of the area occur without enemy opposition.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Follow and Assume

Description: A tactical mission task in which the commander ensures that a terrain feature controlled by a friendly force remains free of enemy occupation or use.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Follow and Support

Description: A tactical mission task that involves preventing a unit, facility, or geographical location from being damaged or destroyed as a result of enemy action.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Seize

Description: A tactical mission task that involves taking possession of a designated area using overwhelming force.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

Example Symbol: Support by Fire

Description: A tactical mission task in which a maneuver force moves to a position where it can engage the enemy by direct fire in support of another maneuvering force.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Actions by Friendly Forces

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Tactical Mission Tasks - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Block

Description: A tactical mission task that denies the enemy access to an area or prevents the enemy’s advance in a direction or along an avenue of approach.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Canalize

Description: A tactical mission task in which the commander restricts enemy movement to a narrow zone by exploiting terrain coupled with the use of obstacles, fires, or friendly maneuver.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Contain

Description: A tactical mission task that requires the commander to stop, hold, or surround enemy forces or to cause them to center their activity on a given front and prevent them from withdrawing any part of their forces for use elsewhere.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Destroy

Description: A tactical mission task that physically renders an enemy force combat-ineffective until it is reconstituted. Alternatively, to destroy a combat system is to damage it so badly that it cannot perform any function or be restored to a usable condition without being entirely rebuilt.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Disrupt

Description: A tactical mission task in which a commander integrates direct and indirect fires, terrain, and obstacles to upset an enemy’s formation or tempo, interrupt the enemy’s timetable, or cause enemy forces to commit prematurely or attack in piecemeal fashion.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Contain

Description: A tactical mission task where a commander prevents the enemy from moving any part of that force from a specific location for a specific period.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Isolate

Description: To separate a force from its sources of support in order to reduce its effectiveness and increase its vulnerability to defeat.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Interdict

Description: A tactical mission task where the commander prevents, disrupts, or delays the enemy’s use of an area or route.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Neutralize

Description: To render enemy personnel or materiel incapable of interfering with a particular operation.

Reference: JP 3-0

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Suppress

Description: A tactical mission task that results in temporary degradation of the performance of a force or weapons system below the level needed to accomplish the mission.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces

Example Symbol: Turn

Description: A tactical mission task that involves forcing an enemy force from one avenue of approach or mobility corridor to another.

Reference: FM 3-90-1

Type: Tactical Mission Task - Effects on Enemy Forces


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