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echelon formation

Definition/Scope: (FM 3-21.9) The echelon formation is used when the company wants to maintain security and or observation of one flank and enemy contact is not likely. The echelon formation has the following characteristics, advantages, and limitations: it is difficult to control, it affords excellent security for the higher formation in the direction of the echelon, and it facilitates deployment to the echelon flank. The echelon formation is useful when a BCT flank is threatened, or when maneuver and enemy contact is expected in the direction of echelon. The echelon formation: enables concentration of firepower forward and to the flank in the direction of echelon, facilitates maneuver against a known enemy in the direction of echelon, allows flexibility in the direction of echelon., transitions easily into a line or vee formation, is easy to control on open terrain but more difficult to control in restricted terrain, requires use of multiple routes or a wide maneuver area, and reduces firepower, flexibility of maneuver, and security in the direction opposite of the echelon. The primary disadvantages of the echelon formation are that it is more difficult to maintain control over the unit in restricted terrain than a column formation and the lack of security or firepower available on the opposite side of the echelon. (FM 1-02) A unit formation with subordinate elements arranged on an angle to the left or to the right of the direction of attack (echelon left, echelon right). This formation provides for firepower forward and to the flank of the direction of the echelon. It facilitates control in open areas. It provides minimal security to the opposite flank of the direction of the echeloning.

Broader Terms:

movement control

Related Terms:

box formation
column formation
line formation
vee formation
wedge formation

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