Find a Security Clearance Job!


Chapter 3


Future conflicts will most likely occur in regions of the world in which the US does not have significant ground forces. When a conflict threatens US national interests, the NCA may direct the regional unified CINC to commit US military forces to resolve the situation. Any US Army corps must be ready to respond to the situation. This capability is referred to as force projection and is the essence of US national military strategy.

The US Army conducts OOTW throughout the world. Combat service support units, in particular, are heavily tasked to support ongoing OOTW missions, although combat and CS units may also be employed.

The nonavailability of corps units in support of OOTW impacts specific forces available to the corps for the execution of OPLANs for other regional contingencies. Units that habitually associate with the corps may not be available for use in a specific force-projection mission. Desert Shield is an example of a successful force-projection operation.

Force-projection operations for Desert Shield were initially based on a CONPLAN and draft OPLAN developed as part of DOD's deliberate planning process. The OPLAN was translated into an OPORD that provided deployment instructions and priorities to Central Command's service components. It provided tasking direction to supporting unified commands. The order also requested support from other government agencies.

Phase I of Desert Shield began on 7 August 1990 and lasted until mid-November. This phase's design was to deploy enough forces to deter further Iraqi aggression; to prepare for defensive operations; and to conduct combined exercises and training with the multinational forces in theater. During this phase, US strategic lift moved an ACR and four divisions into the region. (See Figure 3-1.)

Logistic and administrative units were also moved into the area to support not only Army forces, but those of other US services and nations as well. This effort ultimately involved the deployment of more than 115,000 soldiers (approximately 7,500 from reserve components) and more than 145 Apache attack helicopters, 294 155-millimeter (mm) self-propelled (SP) howitzers, 700 tanks, 1,000 armored personnel carriers (APC), and hundreds of other major items of equipment and thousands of ancillary pieces.

The key to success in such force-projection operations is synchronization of land, sea, air, SOF, and space capabilities. Force-projection operations are inherently joint operations. They usually begin as a contingency operation; for example, as a rapid response to a crisis in either war or OOTW situations.

Field Manual 100-5 describes force-projection operations in eight stages (mobilization, predeployment activity, deployment, entry operations, operations, war termination and postconflict operations, predeployment and reconstitution, and demobilization) (Figure 3-2).





Unit Preparation

Movement to Ports of Embarkation

Strategic Lift

Reception at Ports of Debarkation

Onward Movement


Examples of Forcible Entry Operations

Types of Forcible Entry Operations

Phases of Forcible Entry Operations



War Termination

Postconflict Operations





Before force-projection operations begin, CONUS-based corps belong to Forces Command (FORSCOM). FORSCOM provides conventional Army forces to warfighting CINCs in accordance with plans developed under the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System (JOPES).

The V US Corps is forward-deployed in Europe and has a primary alignment with the European Command (EUCOM). (However, it can be deployed outside EUCOM in a manner similar to the 1991 deployment of the VII US Corps to Saudi Arabia.)

Similarly, the I US Corps has a primary alignment with the Pacific Command (PACOM) and is under the combatant command of the CINC of PACOM (USCINCPAC). In this case, FORSCOM has command less operational control; operational control resides with US Army Pacific (USARPAC).

Planning for the employment of forces is a formal process for ensuring the orderly and efficient use of resources in military operations. Currently, JOPES includes deliberate planning and crisis-action planning (CAP).

Commanders-in-chief propose OPLANs as part of this deliberate planning process to fulfill tasks assigned in the Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAAF) plan, the Unified Command Plan (UCP), the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP), or as otherwise directed by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) (JP 5-03.2).

The CINCs use JOPES to develop joint operation plans for possible contingencies. Before force-projection operations begin, the corps' primary involvement in JOPES is through the review of higher echelon plans. The plans include the corps in the troop list and in the development of corps plans to support and implement higher echelon plans. Corps OPLANs and CONPLANs, in support of the JOPES deliberate planning process, provide a foundation that can ease the corps' transition to force-projection operations.

Before conducting force-projection operations, the corps plans, trains, and maintains. The corps' mission-essential task list (METL) and readiness standing operating procedures (RSOP) reflect the anticipation that the corps will participate in force-projection operations.

The corps conducts continuous IPB of potential contingency areas and maintains its equipment and contingency stocks at a high degree of readiness. Corps units conduct combat-related, mission-essential training that includes deployment tasks relevant to anticipated unit missions.

If assigned a primary region or country of focus, the corps may conduct more specific training targeted on the threat, culture, language, religion, and geography of the targeted area. Normally the corps will rehearse OPLANs and CONPLANs during command post exercises (CPX).

The Army consists of the active component (AC), the National Guard (NG), the Reserve Component (RC), and the civilian workforce. Today's AC structure requires RC assistance to meet the demands of a major regional contingency.

During combat operations the corps operates with a mixture of AC and RC units. However, in peacetime it does not have command authority over nonfederalized NG or RC units.

The NG, in its role as the militia, is the nation's federal reserve. All NG units are commanded by their respective governors until federalized by Presidential executive order. They can act as either a state or federally activated force to ensure domestic tranquility.

The RC is structured under the Department of the Army. The commanding general (CG) of FORSCOM has command of all assigned RC troop program units (TPUS) in CONUS, except for designated SOF, through the US Army Reserve Command (USARC), which is a major subordinate command (MSC) of FORSCOM.

The Commander, USARC, organizes, equips, stations, trains, and maintains the combat readiness of assigned units. The same laws that control how the AC can be employed in domestic situations that apply to the RC.

Reserve component TPUs located outside the continental US (OCONUS) are commanded by their regional Army service component commands (ASCC) (Eighth US Army, US Army Europe (USAREUR), and USARPAC).

All RC units are assigned to either an Army Reserve Command (ARCOM) or to a functional General Officer Command (GOCOM). An ARCOM, commanded by a major general, is an organization with command of RC units located in a specific area. Most GOCOMs are organized on a functional (engineer, MP, CHS), rather than a regional, basis.

The corps, with NG state area commands (STARCs) and RC ARCOMs and GOCOMs, approves the METL of RC units having either a formal training affiliation or war-trace alignment to the corps. That process, and the corps' provision of limited training resources to selected RC units, provides the corps an opportunity to influence the training of selected RC units before mobilization.


Mobilization is the act of preparing for war or other emergencies through the assembling and organizing of resources. Corps mobilize after they receive a JOPES alert or warning order transmitted through the Global Command and Control System (GCCS).

The corps mobilization process entails a number of activities to bring corps units to a previously determined state of readiness. Corps-level mobilization activities tend to duplicate corps-echelon activities it conducts during the predeployment and deployment stages of force projection. Activities include--

  • Supervising individual equipment preparations that MSCs conduct, including assistance to unit family support groups.
  • Supervising MSC preparations for soldier readiness processing (SRP), including preparing A-bags, inventorying and procuring additional shoring and tie-down items, morale and personnel services, personal property storage, preparing personnel manifests, and updating personnel's medical and dental screening and immunization records.
  • Reviewing MSC vehicle and equipment deployment preparations, including unit vehicle assembly area preparations, unit area equipment palletization, vehicle load cards preparation, and weighing accompanying equipment.

The corps supports its MSC's outload activities. It alerts its units and initiates recall and planning procedures (for assembling and organizing the corps' available personnel, supplies, and materiel for active military service) in accordance with the corps' RSOP.

The corps initiates active operations security, marshaling and outload, and communications measures and procedures. While always important, OPSEC is critical during this stage to deny the enemy intelligence he may use against the corps during predeployment and deployment activities and entry operations.

Other steps involved in a national mobilization (such as calling up reserve forces, extending terms of service, increasing the production rates of end items of equipment) are acts of political will and are well beyond the corps', or of any military's, authority to initiate.

The corps' participation in mobilization planning is an integrated process. Joint Publication 4-05 identifies the responsibilities of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), sister services, CINCs, and other agencies engaged in mobilization planning. The Army Mobilization and Operations Planning and Execution System (AMOPES) is the vehicle by which all Army organizations plan and execute actions to provide and expand Army forces and resources to meet the requirements of unified commands.

Mobilization of RC forces (within CONUS) is the responsibility of the STARCs, ARCOMs/GOCOMs, and installation garrisons; the Continental United States Army (CONUSA); and USARC and FORSCOM headquarters. A corps has no direct responsibilities under the FORSCOM Mobilization and Deployment Planning System (FORMDEPS) to mobilize RC units.

The corps commander, as an installation commander, has RC mobilization responsibilities that normally are passed to the garrison commander upon the alert of the corps. Before deploying into an operational area, the corps commander and his staff should be relieved of all installation responsibilities to supervise and validate mobilizing RC units. This should occur even when the corps conducts split based operations and a portion of the corps headquarters remains at home station.

When alerted for a contingency operation, the corps may request the activation of specific RC units or capabilities, such as a rear area operations center (RAOC). It may also provide limited assistance to affiliated mobilizing units. Individual mobilization augmentees (IMA) may round out both the corps and installation staffs.

Transfer of authority (TOA) of mobilizing RC units from their STARC or ARCOM/GOCOM to the mobilization station commander occurs when the mobilizing RC unit arrives at the mobilization station. Transferring the command of mobilizing units to the corps generally occurs through the ASCC or ARFOR after the mobilized unit arrives in theater, unless the RC unit mobilizes and completes validation before the corps departs from its garrison location. Some RC units deploy directly from their home station to the theater of operations, given the appropriate urgency of need and readiness levels.


When an unforeseen event occurs somewhere in the world that requires the use of US military forces, theater strategic- and operational-level commanders conduct crisis-action planning. JOPES CAP procedures parallel those of the deliberate planning process but are more flexible and responsive to changing events.

CAP procedures provide for the timely flow of information and intelligence, rapid execution planning, and the expedient communication of NCA decisions to the CINCs. Concurrent and parallel planning during CAP compresses the planning cycle and facilitates early deployment action the corps and other organizations initiate.

In extremely time-sensitive cases, each CAP phase can be compressed by decisions reached in conference or if decisions are initially issued orally. In such cases, record communications will confirm decisions as soon as possible. Further, a crisis may be so time-critical, or a single COA so obvious, that the first written directive the corps receives might be a deployment or an execute order.

Planners normally complete campaign plans during the execution planning phase of CAP. They are time-sensitive, iterative, and adaptive, depending on the mission and forces assigned.

The theater campaign plan defines the command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) and logistic relationships among the services for the corps. It also defines the sequencing and application of resources and should specify any multinational relationships.

In response to the receipt of a JOPES warning or other message of a force-projection mission through the Worldwide Military Commmand and Control System (WWMCCS) or the Army Global Command and Control System (AGCCS), the corps conducts CAP parallel with that conducted under JOPES at higher echelons. JOPES planners base their decisions on the best available information at the time.

Some decisions are irreversible. Corps intelligence, logistics, and communications preparations must begin as early as possible to allow commanders time to develop adequate plans.

Based on the JFC's guidance for establishing operational capabilities during the initial phases of force-projection operations, the corps commander recommends deployment priorities for his units. Subsequently, the JFC, with the theater CINC, develops required delivery dates from which to adjust or develop the time-phased force deployment list (TPFDL).

The TPFDL includes assigned and supporting forces (USAF airlift control elements; Army terminal operations units) that are to deploy to the operational area. The TPFDL establishes the joint force's lift priorities.

The final approved TPFDL becomes the basis for the corps' development (in cooperation with the Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), state highway regulatory agencies, and commercial transportation mode operators) of its marshaling and deployment schedules.

During this stage of force-projection operations, the commander might establish an intermediate staging base (ISB) to pre-position C3I and logistic assets, based on METT-T. The decision to establish an ISB probably will negate strategic surprise because of global news organizations. Loss of strategic surprise does not necessarily mean loss of the tactical surprise so important to opposed-entry operations.

Rapidly introducing forces into an operational area requires front-end loading by national and theater agencies of continuous. accurate, detailed, and timely intelligence. Therefore, key corps intelligence personnel and equipment must arrive in theater early. One of the first intelligence assets to deploy with the corps is the deployable intelligence support element (DISE).

The DISE provides forward-deployed corps elements the capability of conducting split-based intelligence operations. Corps split-based intelligence operations are key to force projection IEW support. They allow the commander to deploy small, flexible IEW assets tailored to the operation's specific requirements and logistic limitations.

The DISE uses long-haul and broadcast communications systems to access intelligence data bases, organizations, and systems outside the corps' AO. The corps initially relies almost solely on national and joint intelligence assets fed through a higher echelon Joint Intelligence Center (JIC) to the DISE at the corps' assault or main CP.

During multinational operations, the US will probably have the preponderance of intelligence capabilities and will need to provide LNOs to share and disseminate authorized intelligence products. During a force-projection operation, the corps usually needs to augment its HUMINT capability. This is especially true during 00TW because of the increased utility of HUMINT under the circumstances that commonly prevail during OOTW. Allied and/or coalition partners may possess an extensive array of HUMINT and CI assets to assist the corps.

Anticipatory CSS planning during this stage is key to successful execution of later stages. Successful force-projection operations require tailorable, flexible logistics.

The size of the deploying force, the maturity of the theater, HN support capabilities, the availability of in-theater stockage, resources pre-positioned afloat, and the existing theater infrastructure will all affect the logistic task organization. If there are no port facilities available to the corps, it may have to conduct logistics-over-the-shore (LOTS) operations, which will require early deployment of specialized engineer and logistic units.

Split-based logistic operations from an ISB or from CONUS/OCONUS bases can reduce initial transportation requirements by precluding the transporting of noncritical personnel and equipment or supply stocks into the theater. The corps commander must prioritize his lift requirements consistent with METT-T.

The combatant commander establishes the sequence in which corps units will deploy relative to the movement of forces from the other services and other Army units. Early rulings on sequencing will solidify the TPFDL, resolve the time required to deploy the corps, and initialize the theater distribution plan.

During this stage, the corps task-organizes, echelons, and tailors its forces based on the assigned mission, concept of operations, available lift, and other resources.

Task organization is the process of forming combined arms task forces (TF) with limited self-sustainment capabilities for rapid force projection. The corps uses brigade-size units as the basic building blocks for task-organizing its units for force-projection operations.

Echeloning is the organization of units for movement. The likelihood of combat is the primary consideration when task-organizing and planning the echelonment of the force.

Tailoring is the process of adjusting the echeloned TF based on available strategic lift assets. Additional echeloning and tailoring considerations including pre-positioning equipment), HN capabilities, contract services, establishing an intermediate support base, and other infrastructure assets.

Finally, a key consideration during this stage must be rules of engagement (ROE). ROE are directives that delineate the circumstances and limitations under which US forces initiate or continue engagement with belligerent forces.

ROE reflect the law of armed conflict and operational considerations but are principally concerned with restraints on the use of force. Military commanders develop them giving consideration to the direction and strategy of political leaders. This process must balance mission accomplishment with political considerations while ensuring force protection.

ROE vary in different operations and sometimes change during the operation. Nothing in the ROE, however, should negate a commander's obligation to take all necessary and appropriate action to protect his force.


Besides the actual movement of personnel and equipment, the deployment stage includes actions that prepare the corps, its equipment, and supplies for movement to the AO and for operations after the movement is complete. Deployment may be deliberate or be in response to a crisis or natural disaster. Deployments may be from CONUS, from OCONUS, or from both.

The corps depends on TRANSCOM as the DOD single manager for strategic lift. Lift may come from sister services, other nations, or be contracted from commercial sources. The corps also depends on joint and/or HN or multinational air defense and intelligence assets until its organic assets deploy into the theater.

Deployment requires local air (and sea if appropriate) superiority. Deployments normally occur in five phases: unit preparation, movement to the port of embarkation (POE), strategic lift, reception at the port of debarkation (POD), and onward movement. Many deployment tasks overlap or occur simultaneously. (See FM 100-17 for details.)

Several factors influence planning for strategic deployment or unit movement by air and/or sea. They include--

  • Existing automated unit equipment lists (AUELs).
  • Time-phased force deployment data (TPFDD).
  • Operation orders.
  • The commander's intent.
  • Pre-positioned equipment.
  • Available lift systems.
  • METT-T factors.

Corps deployments are programmed via JOPES, as modified by the supported commander's updated operation plan.

If the corps must respond to a short-notice contingency without existing plans, the staff must prepare plans to quickly assess the corps' status and movement requirements. While lift models and notional data are acceptable for requirements estimation in contingency planning, calculating lift requirements for execution demands actual unit embarkation data. All units must know not only the quantity of personnel and equipment they need to transport, but also their equipment's transportation characteristics (cube, weight, outsize, oversize).

The corps ensures that subordinate units provide the necessary reports using the Transportation Coordinator Automated Command and Control Information System (TCACCIS) to update their unit movement data files. Corps units update their AUEL to deployment equipment lists using TCACCIS. They then submit these lists to the installation transportation office (for CONUS units) or the corps MCC (for OCONUS units) for transmission to the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC). The MTMC is the ASCC of TRANSCOM. These actions help the staff compute lift requirements and schedule embarkation times.

Unit Preparation

Commanders follow guidance they receive from TRANSCOM and the CINC and/or JFC for task organizing, echeloning, and tailoring units for flow into the theater of operations. Commanders conduct necessary deployment activities and individual and collective training to attain the desired mission capability in the shortest possible time consistent with the planned deployment schedule.

In many cases at the corps level, activities occurring in this phase of deployment are the same as those occurring in the mobilization and predeployment activity stages of force projection. Activities include--

  • Tailoring the force for employment.
  • Planning and rehearsing the mission.
  • Requesting immediate fill of personnel and equipment shortages and cross-leveling within corps units.
  • Completing SRP requirements.
  • Requesting supply and repair parts shortages on high priority because of deployment status.
  • Identifying and requesting container requirements.
  • Reviewing requirements for classes of supply.
  • Identifying field service support shortages.
  • Gathering and disseminating available intelligence.
  • Reviewing LOC throughput capabilities for sufficiency and alternatives.
  • Identifying shortages and submitting requisitions to the appropriate Army and DOD agencies.
  • Identifying transportation shortfalls and making force-tailoring decisions based on the programmed availability of strategic lift assets.
  • Requesting movement clearances.

A critical strategic and operational consideration for force-projection operations, which involve the potential for combat operations, is the early introduction of credible and lethal forces. Planners cannot always count on having sufficient time to build combat power in theater.

When forward-presence or HN forces are adequate for force-protection purposes, the commander may place less emphasis on combat forces and may introduce more CSS units to better assist the deployment and buildup of combat power. For OOTW-type contingencies (not involving likely combat operations), the commander may introduce CS and CSS units early on to provide critical services.

Movement to Ports of Embarkation

Rail is the preferred method for moving all wheeled vehicles from locations over one day's driving distance from the POE and for moving all tracked vehicles to the POE. Military convoy is the preferred method of moving wheeled vehicles to the POE that are within one day's driving distance.

The accepted method for deploying rotary-wing aircraft is to have them fly to the POE (or to the theater of operations if within range). Army fixed-wing aircraft normally self-deploy into the theater of operations.

Installations place individual manpower and forces at the arrival/departure airfield control group (A/DACG) and at the port support activity (PSA) to deploy and sustain designated units deploying to the operational area. Based on TCACCIS data fed into JOPES, TRANSCOM provides movement instructions to the corps. The corps supervises the decentralized execution of these movement instructions by subordinate units as they move to the designated POE via different transportation modes.

Strategic Lift

Strategic lift begins when corps elements leave (by air, land, and sea) the POE; it ends with theater closure. TRANSCOM ensures the in-transit visibility of forces and, with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Army Materiel Command (AMC), transports supplies between CONUS and the operational area. In-transit data the unit movement coordinators receive provide the necessary force-tracking details to commanders at all levels.

Corps lead elements need to be able to receive updated intelligence while in-transit. As necessary, the corps modifies its plans en route to meet changing conditions in theater.

The strategic deployment of forces can present special C2 problems for the planner. Planners can minimize many of these problems by properly using unit deployment plans, clear change of OPCON statements, and the ability to react to changes in mission while en route to the objective area. Normally, the supported CINC obtains combatant command (COCOM) or operational command (OPCOM) of supporting corps units when they leave the departure airfield/port.

Units that deploy a significant quantity of equipment via sealift should anticipate that soldiers will become separated from their equipment during deployment. Therefore, unit commanders need to plan training accordingly. Units should also train on the specific threat, critical individual tasks, ROE, AO, and cultural considerations.

Reception at Ports of Debarkation

This phase only applies to unopposed entry operations or operations subsequent to initial combat operations. It begins when corps units arrive at the POD in the theater base; it ends when corps units leave port marshaling areas. Port clearance is a theater responsibility.

The CINC or JFC develops the theater reception and onward movement plan for arriving forces and for sustainment. Except in the case of forcible entry, critical corps CS and CSS forces will either precede or arrive concurrently with combat forces. They will help process combat forces through the POD and establish marshaling and support areas.

Onward Movement

Onward movement begins with the linkup of personnel and equipment and the conduct of sustainment operations. Corps units reconfigure, receive pre-positioned systems, upload logistic stocks, and conduct sustainment operations at designated marshaling areas. This phase ends when the unit arrives at its forward assembly areas.

If the corps headquarters, with augmentation, is also acting as either a JTF or an ARFOR headquarters, it has significant additional responsibilities during this phase. (See FM 100-7.)

If the corps is already forward-deployed in a theater, either as a result of peacetime stationing decisions or through force-projection operations, follow-on forces do not normally come under the corps' command until they complete their onward movement from the POD to tactical assembly areas within the corps' AO. Until then, they are under the control of the joint or Army EAC headquarters.


Corps units may conduct entry operations in an opposed or unopposed environment or a combination of the two. Unopposed operations are desired, but if there is any doubt about the situation in the theater, the corps should plan for forcible entry operations. (It is far better to spend time planning for a forcible entry that is not needed than to plan at the last minute for one that was not anticipated.)

Meteorological conditions (weather, tides, moon) impact entry operations more than any other type of operation. Early defeat, destruction, or control of any enemy forces posing an immediate threat to the lodgement area are primary planning factors since force protection remains a key consideration for the commander at all times. The end result of the corps' entry operation must be the establishment of suitable POD to support the accomplishment of the corps' mission.

During entry operations, the corps normally conducts split-based operations. Split-based operations place a significant demand on the corps' signal assets. The corps employs split-based operations to support entry operations until both sufficient space for the operations and security of assets exist within the lodgement area and until sufficient lift is available to permit their introduction into the AO.

When deciding whether to use split-base operations, the commander may choose to project the minimal force necessary into the AO during the earliest stages of a deployment. Another primary consideration for structuring the force must be the early projection of sufficient combat power necessary to conduct decisive operations.

When either the distance, scale, or complexity of a force-projection operation warrants, the corps may establish an ISB. An ISB can ease the flow and support of corps forces into an AO. The force generally establishes an ISB within intratheater airlift support range of the AO.

The corps normally deploys an assault CP into the AO with the corps' lead elements. (See Appendix B.) The corps' main and rear CPs may accompany the main force or, initially, remain in CONUS or at an ISB. Planning, intelligence, and CSS information will be downlinked via multichannel tactical satellite (TACSAT) and other means to and from the assault CP.

The initially deployed assault CP is small and contains minimal personnel in essential functional areas. The assault CP expands into a tactical or forward CP as the situation permits and when sufficient strategic lift is available to bring the complete tactical or forward CP into theater. This usually occurs by the time the trail elements of the lead division close into the theater. The corps' main and/or rear CPs deploy into the AO when sufficient lift becomes available, if required.

The requirement for reliable communications can be simply stated in entry operations. Execution is difficult. Because of differences in equipment and software between the services, other government agencies, other nations, and private organizations, it is doubtful if any large force will be 100-percent equipped with totally compatible communications and data transmission means.

The corps signal staff will need to be innovative in the development of work-around solutions to technical and protocol problems. The establishment of an en route C2 capability will be critically important.

For entry operations, communications systems must be reliable, survivable, flexible, interoperable, timely, and secure. Modern technology provides communications capabilities far superior to those of the past. Nevertheless, because of the ready availability in the open market of communications jamming and imitative equipment, units may have to conduct forcible entry operations in a severely degraded electronic environment.

Entry operations in an unopposed environment generally support HN or forward-presence forces. This, with HN assistance, is the preferred option for deploying into a theater of operations because it is a low-risk operation and maximizes the capabilities of lift systems.

Early deploying units flow through aerial or sea ports of debarkation (A/SPOD) into assembly areas (AA). Corps units then--

  • Prepare to assist HN or forward-presence forces.
  • Protect the corps. (Even in apparently benign entry operations force protection of the force remains a critical command consideration.)
  • Reconfigure the corps' task organization.
  • Build combat capability, assembling sufficient, sustained combat power to win the decisive battle and training and preparing for eventual employment.
  • Conduct training.
  • Acclimate the soldiers to the environment.

NOTE: See FM 100-7, FM 100-10, and FM 55-1 for details.

A forcible entry requires combat operations to land deploying forces into the theater. (See JP 3-18.) Other than for small-scale raids, the corps is the Army's preferred echelon for conducting forcible entry operations. The corps echelon, alone, has the scope and mix of capabilities necessary for major forcible entry operations.

The forcible entry operation is at greatest risk during the units' movement directly into combat operations. That point is where corps units are most vulnerable and have the least available combat power. Because the corps initially has limited combat power available to it and most of it may be from other service systems, it must quickly generate enough combat power to protect the force and accomplish the corps' mission.

Forcible entry operations require the fill synchronization of joint capabilities. They will normally occur under the theater CINC's combatant command authority (for assigned forces) or OPCON (for supporting command forces). Forcible entry forces may also become OPCON to a JTF.

Examples of Forcible Entry Operations

Examples of forcible entry operations include coup de main, lodgement operations, and raids. A coup de main combines entry and combat operations to achieve the operation's objectives in a single major operation.

In the early morning hours of 20 December 1989, a JTF, organized around the XVIII Airborne Corps, conducted a forcible entry operation in Panama. The operation was called Operation Just Cause.

The complexity and precision of the operation are evident in the mix of forward-deployed and US-based conventional ground and special operations forces simultaneously hitting 27 targets throughout Panama. Although Operation Just Cause was an Army-dominated operation, the USAF made it possible for 4,500 soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment, the 7th Infantry Division (Light) (ID(L)), and the 82d Airborne Division to deploy from four US bases and be on the ground within 53 hours of the President's decision to intervene.

The USMC also participated in the operation, contributing a light armored force to screen Panamanian Defense Force escape routes. Once in theater, the deploying units linked up with the 13,000 soldiers already forward-deployed in Panama to conduct an operation that gained control of the entire country in a matter of days.

The results of this coup de main was the restoration of a legitimate government in a matter of days and with few casualties. The use of rapid, overwhelming combat power can be decisive against a foe and can result in fewer casualties (for both sides) and reduce collateral damage, while still accomplishing the assigned mission.

An entry force conducts simultaneous synchronized operations throughout the depth of the AO to overwhelm the opposing force. The simultaneous neutralization of all opposing forces when accomplishing the assigned mission is the corps' preferred means of conducting forcible entry operations.

If the coup de main becomes unsynchronized for any reason (communications failure, unexpected weather conditions, or early discovery by the enemy) the degree of risk associated with the operation increases significantly. When a coup de main is not possible, corps will typically gain, secure, and expand a lodgement as part of a joint force before conducting further operations.

To establish a military lodgement, friendly forces must seize an airhead and/or beachhead. The intent of a lodgement is to create maneuver room and provide for the continuous entry of follow-on forces and materiel for subsequent operations. Forcible entry may often be the initial phase of a campaign. Commanders make maximum use of joint capabilities to provide early lethality and security for the force.

Raids are operations, usually small-scale, involving a swift penetration of hostile territory to secure information, confuse the enemy, or to destroy his key installations. Raids end with a planned withdrawal once the assigned mission ends. While the entire corps is unlikely to conduct a raid, the headquarters may plan and support a raid, which tailored subordinate organizations conduct.

Types of Forcible Entry Operations

Types of operations the corps typically uses to conduct forcible entry include airborne, AASLT, and amphibious operations. Within a forcible entry context, airborne forces may be the assault force or they may conduct follow-on operations from a lodgement after it has been secured by other forces.

As an assault force, airborne forces normally reach the objective area by parachute insertion. As a follow-on force, airborne forces may be inserted into the lodgement by many different means (air, land, amphibious, or helicopter insertion).

Air assault forces may also be used as the assault force, or they may conduct follow-on operations into a lodgement area after it has been secured by other forces. As an assault force, AASLT units reach the objective area using helicopters staged from either ships or from an ISB. As a follow-on force, AASLT units may be inserted into the lodgement by means different from their normal helicopter-delivery method (air, land, or amphibious insertion).

Because airborne and AASLT forces are predominately CONUS-based, planners must add aerial deployment to the time required to plan, rehearse, and prepare troops and equipment for the mission. As in Operation Just Cause, commanders can employ airborne and AASLT forces with forward-presence forces in either the same operational area or in adjacent operational areas.

NOTE: See also JP 3-18.1, FM 71-100-3, FM 90-26, and FM 100-27.

The corps may also use amphibious forces as a forcible entry assault force or a follow-on force conducting operations from a lodgement after a buildup of forces. Amphibious assault forces move from the sea into the lodgement area using a mix of landing craft, amphibious vehicles, helicopters, and ground-effect vehicles. A follow-on force can arrive by sea or by air.

Amphibious transports generally have limited speed. If amphibious forces are not routinely deployed within a theater, their limited deployment speed impacts their reaction time. That reaction time may be days in length.

The increased deployment time over airborne and AASLT units is partially offset by the ability of amphibious forces to plan, conduct leader rehearsals, and prepare troops and equipment en route to the assault area. Both Army and I-JSMC units can conduct amphibious operations. (For details see JP 3-02.)

Airborne, air assault, and amphibious forces can be components of a JTF within the same operational area or in adjacent operational areas. Operation Overlord during WWII illustrates the simultaneous use of multinational airborne and amphibious forces to secure lodgements for the conduct of follow-on campaigns.

Phases of Forcible Entry Operations

A phase is a distinct period or subdivision of an operation at the end of which the nature and characteristics of the action usually change and another action begins. A corps normally phases its forcible entry operations because of the mission's scope, duration, and complexity. Phasing helps the commander and his staff divide an operation into manageable parts, thus facilitating planning and execution.

Factors influencing phasing include the mission (or purpose), friendly and enemy situations, terrain, CSS, time, and distance. For discussion purposes only this chapter organizes forcible entry operations into six phases: planning, preparation, and deployment; assault; force buildup; stabilization of the lodgement; follow-on forces; and transition. In reality, these phases can be combined or overlapped.

Planning, Preparation, and Deployment

The planning phase of a forcible entry operation encompasses that period of time extending from when the commander issues the initiating directive to the time of embarkation. The distinct designation of a planning phase is more important to the description of forcible entry operations than it is to real-world application since planning continues throughout the operation.

This phase starts with mission receipt. Crisis-action planning procedures that establish command relationships and the organizational structure of the entry force are used as a basis for planning, as is the corps' RSOP. All operating systems establish horizontal and vertical connectivity. Various elements exchange LNOs, and time permitting, the staff identifies and completes special training requirements. The force then conducts rehearsals.

A JTF is a likely organization for conducting a forcible entry operation. If a forcible entry COA appears obviously superior during CAP, the commander can establish a JTF before or during Phase III (COA development). This would allow the designated commander of the JTF, and his staff, to participate in the remainder of the planning process.

Once the NCA selects a COA, the JTF establishing authority provides the approved COA to the JTF. The JTF must then complete its OPLAN. Warning ends once the NCA issues a JCS alert order. The JCS alert order specifies--

  • The purpose for which the joint force is being deployed.
  • The designation of the JFC.
  • Command relationships.
  • The forces available.
  • Timing considerations.

The first step, if not already completed, is to develop a planning schedule, establish planning responsibilities, and activate a liaison infrastructure for coordination with other commands.

The corps commander may also be the JTF commander. This is especially true for primarily land campaigns. Joint task forces having a forcible entry mission may be organized around corps headquarters that possess secure en route communications capabilities and the ability to produce and disseminate intelligence and employ joint fires.

The staffing of a JTF headquarters formed around a corps headquarters should follow the force module concept in JP 5-00.2. The corps basic battle command organization should progress to a joint structure using these force modules to provide the required staff augmentation. The corps, if designated a JTF, will receive augmentation from many sources, but the additional resources will primarily come from the headquarters that establishes the JTF.

The corps commander formulates the ground tactical plan to achieve the aim or intent of the overall campaign plan. The ground tactical plan is normally the driving force and rationale for all other planning and activities in forcible entry operations. The ground tactical plan specifies required actions in the objective area that will ultimately accomplish the assault force's mission, and it addresses subsequent or follow-on operations.

Campaign plans are the operational extension of the theater CINC's strategy. They embody the theater CINC's or JFC's vision by depicting a series of related operations through which to obtain strategic objectives.

The CINC normally expresses strategy in general terms of ends, ways, and means, with broad objectives to give direction to the employment of forces. These objectives translate strategic concepts into joint plans for military action by specifying how forces conduct operations to attain theater objectives.

Campaign planning is the primary means of achieving strategic unity of effort and is the basis for the planning of theater operations. In addition, the campaign plan provides the JCS with information it needs for intertheater coordination. (See JP 5-00.1 for campaign planning procedures.)

Joint planning uses a disciplined process using the secure communications capability and the rapid information processing of JOPES. Individuals from each major section of the corps staff must be familiar with the JOPES process. In addition, the corps must maintain access to GCCS both at the home station and while deployed. (Joint Publication 5-0 discusses joint operation planning in more detail.)

Under the direction of higher headquarters, the corps commander, with prospective subordinate commanders and supporting commanders, considers those elements of the forcible entry OPORD practicable at this stage. Key to its development is mission analysis, staff estimates (particularly logistics and intelligence), and the commander's concepts for operations, organization, deployment, and CSS. (See FM 101-5 (D) for additional information.)

The objective or mission of the forcible entry operation controls all planning and execution. If METT-T factors prevent the corps from conducting a coup de main, selection of the lodgement area is the key decision the commander must make to allow subsequent actions to take place.

When selecting the site of a lodgement area, the commander and staff must consider several criteria. For example, the area must facilitate mission accomplishment, and there must be sufficient port (air and sea) facilities as well as A/SPODs to supply and maintain our forces. This includes the corps' ability to restore or construct port facilities (including LOTS). It also includes the port's capability for quickly unloading and turning around aircraft and/or ships and dispersing arriving supplies, soldiers, and equipment using local transportation systems (road, rail, inland waterway) within the lodgement area.

Airfield development includes ensuring there are sufficient airfields, or readily developed airfields, to provide bases for tactical air forces and Army fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Planners must consider the corps' capability to repair airfields damaged by combat activities and enemy demolition activities and to construct new facilities. The weighting of this item in picking a lodgement depends on the suitability of sustaining airfields outside the lodgement area to support the corps.

Planners must also consider air, land, and sea limiting factors. Air limiting factors include the amount of friendly air support available during the assault phase of the forcible entry operation and US obtainment of air supremacy. The initial assault must take place within range of effective air support by fixed-wing aircraft operating from ISB or navy aircraft carriers.

Land limiting factors include enemy long-range guns, missiles, and rockets, enemy coastal and LZ defenses, and enemy AD weapons (with their supporting radars and C2 nodes). There must be sufficient space, with controlling terrain features, to enable US forces to secure the lodgement area and accomplish future operations.

When determining if sufficient space is available, planners must also consider movement rates. The corps must be able to compare movement rates between enemy reserves and US assault forces. The corps must also consider the ground forces' ability to reinforce or relieve airborne or AASLT forces before they exhaust their accompanying logistic support or before the enemy can mass superior combat power against them.

Limiting factors in amphibious operations include enemy surface warfare capabilities, sea minefield, coastal artillery and missile sites, and submarines. Beach conditions (obstacles; trafficability; degree of beach maintenance required; slope; and height, flow, and time of tides) are also limiting factors.

Ideally, there should be spare systems and crews available to provide airlift and sealift to accommodate maintenance failures, provide necessary crew rest, and replace estimated casualties without disrupting the tempo of the operation. The capacities of A/SPOD determine the number of ports required to outload the assault force.

The distances between the departure airfields and the assault area, coupled with the availability of in-flight refueling and the configuration of the aircraft load (airdrop or airland), impact the airlift's carrying capacity. Distance also factors into considerations on how rapidly the initial lift (air and sea) can be turned around to carry subsequent loads into the lodgement area. This impacts the total number of required lift systems.

Determining the appropriate size of the assault force requires force correlation between the assault force and the enemy defenders, taking into account the synchronized effects of precision fires air interdiction, and C2W. Inclusion of forces from other nations into either the initial assault force or into follow-on forces requires the resolution of the additional command, operational, logistic, and other factors involved in multinational operations.

The staff must make every effort to obtain detailed information on the AO and of enemy activities in the combat area, including location, strength, armament, and the capability of enemy forces to interfere with the operation. The location of AD systems, the composition and types of defense for airfields, DZs, landing fields/beaches, ports, and other military or civil installations, and civilian morale are all important information requirements.

All sustainment planning for a forcible entry operation is based on providing continuous and coordinated logistic support. Realizing that the time needed to procure an item can be a lengthy process and that errors are not easily rectified, coordinated planning at all levels is essential.

The requirement to provide continuous support to the assault force with a support system based primarily either at an ISB or afloat has a significant impact on CSS planning. The initial support is "push" logistics. That is, CSS assets, anticipated during planning, move into the lodgement area in accordance with the landing plan. As the situation stabilizes, the staff initiates a logistic system for subsequent support of base development.

The force must provide adequate and continuous support. Loss of support, even temporarily, may provide the enemy an opportunity to regain the initiative.

Preparations for a forcible entry operation include air, sea, PSYOP, PA, CA, special operations, and deception activities that facilitate the corps' entry. Entry forces attack known enemy formations, defensive positions, and minefield (ground and sea) by multiple means with the intent of reducing the enemy's fighting efficiency, lowering his effectiveness, disrupting his combined arms synchronization, and splitting his defenses and reserve formations into nonsupporting groups.

Preparation involves training and rehearsing for the mission. It also includes disrupting and/or deceiving enemy satellite, radar, and other intelligence sensor coverage of the ISB and the approach routes into the projected lodgement area. Preparation involves the use of CI and OPSEC to maintain tactical surprise for the operation. Preparations may be spread outside of the lodgement area to aid US deception operations, if required.

Early insertion of SOF and LRSU into the target area is desired to provide a HUMINT source to confirm intelligence derived from technical means. These teams may be either under the control of the corps, as in the case of LRSU, or responsive to requests from the corps commander, as in the case of SOF.

The corps' deployment is based on the commander's deployment concept, which in turn is based on his concept of operations and logistic support, the availability of sea and air transportation, the geographic location of deploying forces, and the requirements and constraints associated with delivery of the corps into the objective area. The concept for deployment provides the basis for developing the deployment plan, arrival and assembly plan, sea and air movement plans, and marshaling plans, as well as the embarkation and loading plans associated with sea movement.

The deployment of a corps into oversea land areas requires the identification of priorities for the introduction of operational capabilities and the establishment of required delivery dates (RDD). These are key to the early conduct of military operations. The process requires careful thought. While a corps commander may desire early introduction of attack helicopter battalions, engineer, base support, and aviation, maintenance units may be required before attack helicopter battalions can be brought in.

Support units and materiel-handling equipment essential to port and airfield throughput may necessarily precede the bulk of the force to be deployed. Planning and coordination are essential in sorting out the best sequencing of required delivery dates to avoid congestion while building up combat power in the lodgement area.


The joint force initiates the assault and secures the airhead and/or beachhead. The assault force's main advantage derives from achieving operational and tactical surprise and the generation of overwhelming combat power at decisive points by the application of all means (joint, multinational, and/or interagency) to defeat, destroy, or neutralize the enemy force.

The corps headquarters must maintain the initiative and prepare to receive follow-on forces to overcome the possibility of an initially superior enemy. Concentration of the effects of our forces and tactical surprise helps to achieve and maintain the initiative. The corps must render ineffective enemy weapons systems capable of jeopardizing the success of the assault.

In the process of conducting simultaneous operations throughout the AO, the corps seeks to overwhelm its opponents throughout the depth and breadth of the corps' AO. Operation Just Cause showed how assault and forward-presence forces can combine their effects to simultaneously attack multiple enemy positions in a coup de main.

Once execution of the plan begins and corps units commit to the assault, the corps avoids radical changes in the scheme of maneuver. However, the plan or order must allow the corps commander sufficient flexibility to take advantage of the developing situation during execution.

Fires in support of forcible entry operations differ from normal tactical fires in that the assault force initially relies. on joint fires until the corps can deploy its fire support systems. Changes in fire support should be planned to provide for possible rapid increase in the size of the corps' AO and should support simultaneous operations in depth.

Planners must consider transition of C2; changes to supported and supporting relationships; and other C2 relationships to provide for efficient clearance of fires. They must clarify fire support planning, coordination, and execution responsibility. Major changes affecting the planned movement of any corps forces and their support require adequate consideration of coordination and synchronization, time, and distance factors.

The corps employs assault forces on terrain that minimizes the impact of enemy obstacles and fortifications on the operation. The corps desires to limit the amount of breaching equipment that the assault force requires. Follow-on engineer forces will replace bridges, clear minefield, conduct route improvement operations, and repair ports (air and sea).

Force Buildup

Before the lodgement can be secured, the force must rapidly build up from an initial small power base. Protection of the lodgement area, and corps units within it, against enemy counterattacks and hostile acts by nonmilitary elements of the local population are the commander's high-priority considerations. He calls forward the reinforcing forces that the mission, ROE, and other circumstances require. All reinforcing forces must be ready for combat soon after arriving in the lodgement area. A coup de main does not have a force buildup phase.

Corps fight a task-organized mix of forces and, as such, have the flexibility to meet a variety of situations and threats. If initial entry forces were unable to conduct simultaneous operations in depth to accomplish all the objectives of the deployment and entry operation, reinforcing forces can help seize or accomplish unfulfilled objectives.

The existence of little or no initial support within the lodgement area may require the corps to develop a large logistic organization within the lodgement area. To accomplish this, the corps may require augmentation of selected CSS functions to perform EAC sustainment operations. As such, the corps could have both operational and tactical responsibilities.

All means of delivery are exploited to full capacity to maximize the force buildup pipeline of units and supplies flowing into and out of the lodgement area. Forces and supplies usually use administrative movement techniques to optimize the capabilities of available lift systems.

Throughput capability is critical during this stage. Units must make provisions to clear follow-on supplies and equipment immediately from off-load points to increase airlift or sealift efficiency.

The establishment of the TPFDD is one of those early decisions that is not easily changed at a later date. Commanders should take great care when determining whether the TPFDD should be altered.

If the TPFDD sequence is to be changed, the associated massive synchronization and coordination requirements may result in the disruption of the flow of units and supplies into the lodgement area. If the situation does dictate changes, the corps staff can coordinate needed changes in the arrival sequence through the theater CINC.

Stabilization of the Lodgement

During this phase actions may include--

  • Preempting or defeating enemy counterattacks into the lodgement area.
  • Expanding the lodgement.
  • Sequencing combat, SOF, CS, and CSS forces into the lodgement area,
  • Linking the force with airborne, AASLT, and/or SOF within or external to the lodgement area.
  • Conducting air base ground defense (ABGD).
  • Evacuating casualties.

Depending on the correlation of forces and the buildup of combat, CS, and CSS units and supplies, the attack continues to either expand the initial lodgement area for additional follow-on forces or to accomplish the final objectives of the forcible entry operation.

In the process of stabilizing the lodgement area, the corps can use any combination of simultaneous operations in depth and synchronized and/or coordinated assault that meets its needs. Typically this involves some melding of offensive actions, forward defense, augmentation of HN forces, and defense of decisive terrain.

Follow-On Forces

The arrival of the follow-on force may simultaneously occur during force buildup or be a separate phase, depending on the tactical plan and the combat situation. The use of follow-on forces to help secure the lodgement may degrade follow-on mission capabilities.

Coup de main operations also have a follow-on forces phase. During this phase, units that initially conduct the entry operation are replaced or augmented by forces more suitable for conducting war termination and postconflict operations. These forces typically include CA, engineer, MP, and CSS specialized functions.


This phase continues actions initiated in earlier phases and may add actions for the reconstitution and redeployment of the assault force. The joint force establishing authority may reallocate the joint entry force's components to other missions on completion of the entry operation. Alternatively, this phase may mark the end of one phase of a campaign and the start of another campaign phase for the joint force.


The operations stage of force projection consists of missions that lead to or directly contribute to the accomplishment of the CINC's campaign objectives. The decisive operations phase may occur immediately upon forcible entry or after a long buildup. There are no notable changes in the types of corps combat operations.

The corps conducts operations in war and OOTW to achieve the higher commander's intent. During war, the corps conducts offensive, defensive, and other operations identified in Chapters 5 through 8 of this manual. During OOTW the corps conducts operations as discussed in Chapter 9.


War Termination

Successful combat operations are designed to bring an end to the war. When acting as the JTF headquarters, the corps commander may have to determine when the military end state has been reached (with a great deal of assistance from other agencies). The key is to determine when to stop the fighting.

When hostilities cease or a truce goes into effect, corps units transition to a period of postconflict operations. This transition can occur even if residual combat operations are still underway in portions of the AO. As operations approach the military end state, the corps commander must be aware of mission creep (where end state conditions change) that would require a continuation of military operations.

Postconflict Operations

The commander must determine the end state for military operations as early as possible in the planning process. It enhances the commander's ability to anticipate postconflict operational considerations.

This stage focuses on restoring order and minimizing the inevitable confusion that follows military operations, reestablishing the infrastructure, preparing for follow-on missions, and protecting the force. It includes such diverse tasks as unit repositioning, controlling EPWs, and taking care of dislocated civilians. Major cows missions will include moving people and equipment (both military and civilian) and providing health services and humanitarian assistance.

The ultimate objective of this stage is the smooth transition of responsibility back to civil authorities. This transition may include the transfer of equipment and supplies to the host nation from corps units. Combat support and CSS assets will be heavily committed during this stage and may be used in lieu of HN capabilities until HN capabilities can be reestablished.


Redeployment and reconstitution are complex activities and may require contractor and HN support in addition to that which uniformed servicemen and DOD civilians provide.


Redeployment is the preparation and movement of a corps from a theater to its follow-on designated CONUS or OCONUS base or to any other location to meet ongoing requirements. Commanders contend with all the same challenges as in deployment, balancing METT-T factors against available lift assets. An additional challenge is for personnel and equipment returning to the US to clear customs, Department of Agriculture, and US Public Health Service (USPHS) requirements.

Force protection is as critical during this stage as it is during any other stage of force projection. Redeployment activities must optimize the readiness of redeploying forces and materiel to meet new contingencies or crises. Its phases are--

  • Reconstitution for strategic movement.
  • Movement to redeployment assembly areas.
  • Movement to the POE.
  • Strategic lift.
  • Reception at the POD.
  • Onward movement.


Reconstitution begins in the theater before redeployment. Activities include rebuilding unit integrity and accounting for soldiers and equipment. Reconstitution continues after arriving in CONUS or the home theater. Units must focus on--

  • Reconstitution of units and their assigned equipment to premobilization levels of readiness.
  • Regeneration of logistic stockpiles.
  • Accountability of mobilized equipment and supplies.
  • Accountability of personnel and reconciliation with the standard installation division personnel system (SIDPERS) data base.


  • Demobilization returns RC units and materiel to their remobilization status or other approved posture. It assures rapid reconstitution and/or subsequent mobilization to meet any other contingencies that may arise. Demobilization consists of the following phases:
  • Planning actions in the operational area to dispose of equipment and/or supplies that are no longer needed or to prepare those same items for movement to long-term storage locations.
  • Ports of embarkation-to-demobilization stations or POE-to-CONUS demobilization center actions.
  • Demobilization station and/or CONUS demobilization center actions.
  • Home station or home-of-record actions.

Within a theater of operations, corps ensure their affiliated units complete the required planning, movement, and disposition actions before transferring command of these units to the ARFOR or other competent authority. Outside of an active theater of operations, corps commanders may have extensive responsibilities for demobilization as installation commanders. Demobilization installation responsibilities are--

  • Expanded family support and media coverage of welcoming and departure ceremonies.
  • The completion of all medical and dental actions and/or examinations, line-of-duty determinations and finance actions, legal and entitlement briefings, and personnel records updates for individual soldiers before their release from active duty.
  • Coordinating prescribed load list (PLL) and authorized stockage list (ASL) accounts.
  • Coordinating GS and depot-level maintenance for returning equipment and supplies.
  • Shipping equipment to home stations, equipment concentration sites, and mobilization and training equipment sites as determined by the CONUSA in coordination with the National Guard Bureau (NGB) and USARC.
  • Preparing movement orders for unit members to return to their home station and individuals to their home-of-record.
  • Conducting property disposal operations in accordance with instructions received from DLA, AMC, and the Defense Property Disposal Agency (DPDA).

Join the mailing list

Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'