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Thread: TCP's

  1. #1
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Default TCP's

    One of the over utilized tools of my early tour in Iraq was the TCP (Traffic Control Point). These rarely yeilded any useful information, were easily avoided and seemed to be done mostly to "do somthing". My question is, when is it appropriate to use a TCP and what are better options for squad and platoon lvl intel gathering?
    Reed

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    A good answer to your question would get into specific TTPs that are not appropriate for discussion on an open forum.

    I recommend you initiate a discussion on the BCKS COIN forum with the same question. (AKO Log-in Required)

    If you take the time to look around a bit, you will also find useful info on CALL and MCCLL (the latter requires CAC card access)


    Other members: Please keep replies to this post general in nature and refrain from discussing current TTPs.

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    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    I was never a big fan of TCPs...for one, it is an escalation of force (normally unecessary) waiting to happen. Secondly, the bad guys avoid them, for the most part, IMO.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    To keep it at the open source level, I would point out that TCPs were used outside of Fallujah and in other locales where similar large-scale clearing operations occured. They were also used in OIF I during the invasion, as civilians fled population centers, to check vehicles for fleeing combatants. How well they were executed is open to debate, but their purpose seems legit.

    Without getting into TTP specifics, I would just say to look at the weaknesses mentioned and think of how they can be overcome. They can be, and many units have figured out how.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Same drum beat

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    ...Without getting into TTP specifics, I would just say to look at the weaknesses mentioned and think of how they can be overcome. They can be, and many units have figured out how.
    METT-TC applies as to how, when and if. If they're done right and smart, they'll be successful. The key is need -- and placement; you can't just say "Gun to be mounted here," there has to be a common sense plan and generally, several TCPs will be needed (to be non-specific). Of course, the key to all that is training...

    Schmedlap's correct; like everything else in war, some units do things better than others.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default TCPs

    From my "armchair" the British Army and RUC (police) used fixed and mobile TCPs in Northern Ireland throughout. There have been a number of open source comments on the gains, in particular the remarks in the history of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), a locally recruited Army unit (A Testimony to Courage, by John Potter, pub. 2001).

    On the mainland the police and sometimes with other agencies have mounted TCPs for law enforcement primarily. They've also been used a SOP for CT work, invariably when there is an alert or alas after an attack.

    UK use of TCPs has been greatly enhanced by the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras; which has increased the "hit" rate even if thousands of vehicles pass through. This tactic is based on a document in the public domain: http://www.acpo.police.uk/asp/polici...5_12x04x05.doc

    I appreciate in COIN arenas these tactics may look bizarre.

    In UK police use TCPs can attract criticism as they are invariably not explained, even to those who are stopped and not prosecuted etc.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Just being inquisitive here

    One has to wonder when LE runs holiday CP's do they usually catch more folks DUI at the point or trying to avoid it
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Holiday CP for DUI?

    Ron,

    Don't know about the US experience (although I can ask), here the problem is whether the possibly drunk driver realises what is ahead, takes action to avoid or just drives through. Then the decision is whether a pursuit is worthwhile as a drunk driver driving scared is often even more dangerous. Mind you it was fun (LE humour can be bad) to see those who tried to avoid get into even more trouble; some evil LE set up better TCPs on the supposed escape / avoid roads.

    Of course the LE response to avoiding a TCP varies across borders; some LE have used lethal force, others aim to disable the car with stop-sticks etc.

    Best not to drive drunk / DUI.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    My question is, when is it appropriate to use a TCP
    When it is directed by any command above a battalion, it usually isn't a good thing.

    I tend to agree that they are good for very little, unless a lot of preparation, planning, and shaping of the "battlefield" has taken place before execution.

    Dropping one, even if for only a few brief moments, does little more than offer force protection problems in my experience. Since they require a lot of training to get done right, they are typically done poorly.

    Good luck finding a better way to skin that cat.

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    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    When it is directed by any command above a battalion, it usually isn't a good thing.
    Amen!

    I tend to agree that they are good for very little, unless a lot of preparation, planning, and shaping of the "battlefield" has taken place before execution.
    At least earlier on in Iraq, the TCP was a relatively easy and harmless tactic that units employed because we didn't know how generally useless they were. Good units figured it out and used other means to counter the insurgency. In 2003, my battalion figured out quickly that they don't work well and implemented the OP strategy (covert and overt). Much more effective.

    The last time I was there, the static TCP was a favorite of the IA.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reed11b View Post
    My question is, when is it appropriate to use a TCP and what are better options for squad and platoon lvl intel gathering?
    Reed
    The real success of VCPs, as we say in the UK, is the SNAP VCP, inserted by helicopter or vehicle, that just occur without warning. They are a de facto surprise attack, on moving traffic, and highly effective in restricting the bad guys freedom of action.

    I am also sceptical of the fixed VCPs as they are usually just targets and sources of confrontation. Obviously they do serve some useful purpose, but it is limited.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen
    The real success of VCPs, as we say in the UK, is the SNAP VCP, inserted by helicopter or vehicle, that just occur without warning. They are a de facto surprise attack, on moving traffic, and highly effective in restricting the bad guys freedom of action.

    I am also sceptical of the fixed VCPs as they are usually just targets and sources of confrontation. Obviously they do serve some useful purpose, but it is limited.
    I'm in complete agreement with your take on the military utility of both aspects. I'd just like to add - perhaps the obvious - that the former requires good intelligence to be effective. This builds on JC's comment that Since they require a lot of training to get done right, they are typically done poorly. - not only does rapid insertion of a TCP require specific training, it requires a high level of coordination among disparate elements to obtain results reflective of the effort.

    As others have elaborated on, fixed TCPs in a hot environment are a bad idea. However, when the op environment is less hostile, their purpose is more as a show of presence and a deterrent (like DUI checkpoints) than an aggressive collection effort - although they often manage to roll up a few of the dumber criminals. (As an aside, I recall a couple of towns in CA whose PDs were forced to do away with their DUI checkpoints because of accusations that they were engaged in "racist profiling" to pick up illegal aliens)
    Quote Originally Posted by jkm_101_fso
    The last time I was there, the static TCP was a favorite of the IA.
    They were a favorite of Saddam's security forces as well. Wandering about Baghdad during the UNSCOM timeframe, they were obvious at various points throughout the city. However, they were definitely static locations, and smuggling, prostitution and other various illicit activities managed to criss-cross Baghdad all around those checkpoints.....

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    Council Member MSG Proctor's Avatar
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    Its simple.
    TCPs are an MP task. If the Commander's Intent is to establish security in the population, TCPs are an economy of force TTP that is as much PSYOP as it is law enforcement. It tells the people who the owner of the street is, and seeing that 90% of TCPs are manned by ISF nowadays, it demonstrates to the population that the ISF is taking over the security/law enforcement role.
    "Its easy, boys. All we have to do is follow my simple yet ingenius plan..."

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    TCPs are an economy of force TTP that is as much PSYOP as it is law enforcement. It tells the people who the owner of the street is, and seeing that 90% of TCPs are manned by ISF nowadays, it demonstrates to the population that the ISF is taking over the security/law enforcement role.
    If in fact you "own the street", it's not because of the TCP. It's because of a whole range of other actions (none of which are necessarily economy of force) that you are employing concurrently.

    TCPs (by doctrine?) are static, and passive actions. We can't win COIN through passive means.

    Oh, and if you run a TCP only on easily controlled streets and routes, there's not much PSYOP to it as the bad guys continue to run the ratlines elsewhere because "there's IEDs down in that zone" statements speak volumes about risk aversion. The locals know what's up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis
    If in fact you "own the street", it's not because of the TCP. It's because of a whole range of other actions (none of which are necessarily economy of force) that you are employing concurrently.
    Solid truth. I should emphasize that static TCPs are not an economy of force op. Consider the personnel and time involved in planning, executing and providing support - and standing by to support the fixed target. TCPs can be a useful deterrent when the environment permits - and I don't just mean a cooling of the insurgency. Iraq still is plagued by criminality and the ISF manning TCPs today are just as ineffective as the example I gave earlier of Saddam's TCPs in regards to ongoing illicit activity. The country needs to progress a lot further before static TCPs truly become an economy of force operation. Right now they are still a waste of manpower.
    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis
    TCPs (by doctrine?) are static, and passive actions. We can't win COIN through passive means.
    Others have mentioned, and I also feel, that intelligence-driven, rapidly-inserted, temporary TCPs have a place in COIN ops. However, as you stated, the training and support necessary to make that sort of TCP effective (not to mention the specific type of intended interdiction) implies that to for it to be an effective tactic, it should be used infrequently.
    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis
    Oh, and if you run a TCP only on easily controlled streets and routes, there's not much PSYOP to it as the bad guys continue to run the ratlines elsewhere because "there's IEDs down in that zone" statements speak volumes about risk aversion. The locals know what's up.
    Exactly. In this case, a static TCP becomes PSYOP that contributes to the image of the effectiveness of the bad guys. When the bad guys are able to operate around the TCP it demonstrates to the population that the owners of the TCP are ineffective, unaware, and afraid to move out and engage the bad guys.

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    Council Member MSG Proctor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    If in fact you "own the street", it's not because of the TCP. It's because of a whole range of other actions (none of which are necessarily economy of force) that you are employing concurrently.

    TCPs (by doctrine?) are static, and passive actions. We can't win COIN through passive means.

    Oh, and if you run a TCP only on easily controlled streets and routes, there's not much PSYOP to it as the bad guys continue to run the ratlines elsewhere because "there's IEDs down in that zone" statements speak volumes about risk aversion. The locals know what's up.

    I did not say you own the street because of a TCP.

    Perhaps you were involved in the later period of OIF in which patrols were FOB-launched and insurgent-focused, I don't know. We were there right after Baghdad fell and there were NO POLICE anywhere except CF. Most of the day the traffic lights were out. We had to dismount our convoys to unclog traffic jams sometimes hundreds of cars/trucks thick just to get through an intersection.

    TCPs were also used to enforce the curfew. Or do you disagree that curfew enforcement is neccessary in establishing the rule of law? It was/is a law enforcement type task. COIN requires securing the population. I don't know how anyone could argue that it was not an economy of force TTP when you had maybe 50k troops trying to secure a city of 8 million people with zero remaining infrastructure.

    Like I said, the ISF is manning almost all the TCPs now. They can tell who is Sunni, Shia, Christian, Kurd, or foreign just by glancing into the car or at the ID. That's something our guys just could not do. That matters in Iraq.

    As far as PSYOPs, I don't know how you could decide that it was ineffective PSYOPs to have a Bradley Fighting Vehicle or an M1 Main Battle Tank overwatching a bridge or intersection. Sheikh Sattar asked for an M1 to be parked in his front yard when he threw in with 1-1AD in Anbar, but hey, what did he know about standing up to terrorists.
    Last edited by MSG Proctor; 08-21-2008 at 12:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSG Proctor
    ....As far as PSYOPs, I don't know how you could decide that it was ineffective PSYOPs to have a Bradley Fighting Vehicle or an M1 Main Battle Tank overwatching a bridge or intersection. Sheikh Sattar asked for an M1 to be parked in his front yard when he threw in with 1-1AD in Anbar, but hey, what did he know about standing up to terrorists.
    Emplacing an armored vehicle in a fixed position to overwatch/secure key terrain/infrastructure/personalities is not the same as a static TCP.

    The use of sarcasm to emphasize the point made by that false analogy does not add to credibility. I recommend that you drop the habit.

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    During the first 6 months of OIF III (mech infantry company) we did almost nothing but snap TCPs because we had rolled into a city where we had no intel, no contacts, and no control whatsoever over the situation. It was a very effective way to disrupt enemy supply and C2, put a dent in IEDs, and start snatching some bad guys to get some intel. As we gained intel and slowly strangled the enemy's supply lines and picked off HVI's, snap TCPs became far less frequent and we were able to do more targeted raids and finally enter the "mop up" phase of just doing fire team and squad-sized ambushes to pick off the occasional unskilled IED emplacer.

    Economy of force? PSYOP? Something else? I don't know. I just know that they served a good purpose when used appropriately.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I don't know how anyone could argue that it was not an economy of force TTP when you had maybe 50k troops trying to secure a city of 8 million people with zero remaining infrastructure.
    In the wake of Baghdad's fall (and yes, I was there), we were not practising COIN. We were trying to find our ass with one of our hands.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default We Have A Winner!

    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    In the wake of Baghdad's fall (and yes, I was there), we were not practising COIN. We were trying to find our ass with one of our hands.
    And what was the other up to?

    You win the quote of the day, hell make that the week, and maybe even the month

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