Mutual Support is that support which units render each other against an enemy, because of their assigned tasks, their position relative to each other and to the enemy, and their inherent capabilities. Depending on the type of units or elements and on what level, there are various ways to achieve and ensure mutual support. Units will always strive to maximize the mutual support they render amongst each other in order to increase their survivability and effectiveness. For ground combat units, mutual support, as a condition, exists when elements are able to support each other by direct fire in order to prevent the enemy from attacking one position without being subject to direct fire from one or more adjacent positions.
Measures to increase Mutual Support
- Maintaining contact with the adjacent units
Units are only able to render mutual support among each other when they maintain direct contact and have a direct line of sight to each other, allowing to observe and overwatch each others position and beyond. Sometimes this is difficult to achieve due to complex, compartmentalized or mountainous terrain as well as low visibility conditions. Leaders adjust the distance and positioning, movement technique and movement for formation of their elements to compensate for varying terrain, visibility and other factors of METT-TC accordingly.
- Staying within effective weapons range
Units will only be able to provide effective direct fire support if they are significantly within their effective weapons range. Thus units will try to position and maneuver themselves within each others effective weapons range. An often used rule of thumb is to not move elements beyond half the effective weapon range of the unit, in order to ensure that elements can effectively engage another times the distance beyond the supported position.
- Assigning and covering overlapping sectors of fire
Overlapping the sectors of fire that elements cover is essential to mutual support. It is typically accomplished with primary, secondary, and alternate sectors of fire. This is particularly important to allow adjacent elements to cover terrain in the other elements sector that it cannot cover, such as dead space or otherwise obstructed areas.